Revisit: Viruses mutate; modern day mass hosts provide unprecedented opportunity

I’m reposting this discussion as background for our search for a ‘new normal’ in 2021.  Rob Wallace has written a new book specifically about the origins of Covid, again especially noting the influence of the vertically integrated global food chains in providing opportunities for viruses to ‘pandemic’ (verb, my invention?).  I’ll briefly comment on this new book, ‘Dead Epidemiologists’, in the near future. Read the rest of this entry »

Comment to Scoop.Wellington airport discussion

We must relinquish the notion that Labour is left or centre-left. Labour is neo-liberal, as are most parties anymore. So it’s not so surprizing that a mostly Labour oriented council would be silent on the airport as the airport is much of ‘who we are’, to the detriment of the future in a carbon constrained world. Musn’t seem too ‘radical’, that is too realistic about climate change.

This silent treatment from the council would be driven by the council staff but somehow they never get mentioned. To counter this silent treatment, we must be able to say out loud that Labour is not Left, and also say out loud that the council staff is neo-liberal.

Convenience is a form of entitlement

The Editor, The Dominion Post, Wellington

14/10/ 2021

Dear Editor:

To combat climate change fossil fuels will need to be phased out.  Personal motor cars being the most numerous users of fossil fuels are under serious threat.

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It’s much more testing that needs to happen, of course

The Editor, The Listener, Auckland

11/10/ 2021

Dear Editor:

With all the unknowns about our relationship to Covid-19 delta, it is desperate and childish to ask for a clear path to opening up the country espoused by National Party leader Judith Collins and many business leaders, and dangerous for all of us.  But more than that the discussion has become scarily unsettled.  Even the medical expert epidemiologists have come to contradicting themselves.  They had been telling us the truth about the vaccines in saying there is no guarantee they will prevent an individual getting the virus nor prevent transmission, and also no guarantee the vaccinated will not become seriously ill.  What they have been saying is guaranteed is that if kept in isolation for 14 or so days the virus will die! 

So the experts know that the most important thing is to identify the cases and isolate them.  And they also know that the government has never told us they would not do enough testing to be as ‘confident’ as they said they were.   What has to happen is to vastly (!) increase testing and isolation facilities.  But instead the mantra for vaccinations has risen to hysterical levels.  Yes, vaccinations appear to help in reducing the several very real threats faced, but the hysteria takes our eye off the ball and also allows the desperate mischief of the opposition to gain a bit of traction. 


Richard Keller

Gretta is right, you know

                                      30/09/ 2021

Hon Jacinda Ardern                                             

Prime Minister, Parliament House, Wellington

Hello PM Ardern,

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Donna Miles – end forever wars

The Afghan war and the senseless terror of Western militarism

I recommend this article on Stuff from Donna Miles

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Why call them ‘mystery’ cases?

Reported Covid-19 cases likely just the tip of the iceberg, experts say

The language used to describe Covid-19 cases turning up in hospital, police, and trucker checks, calling them ‘mystery’ cases is not useful.

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A-girls are too late – Bond of any macho is out of date

The Editor, The Dominion Post, Wellington


29/09/ 2021

Dear Editor:

Verity Johnson wasn’t at University as I was when the first Bond movie came out in 1962 and it was too ‘new’ a genre for me to go see it, but anyway she’s got it right to suggest that that character ‘is kinda outdated’ now.   

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What’s in a name? – the name of this country

I’ve been invited to sign a petition to not change the name of this country, keeping it ‘New Zealand’. This is my response:

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Repost (from April 2020!) on Covid testing

My main criticism of the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis is that they should have been more transparent from the start about their inadequate testing regime.  They should have said at the start they were not going to do enough testing to know adequately the extent of ‘community transmission’.   It’s important to realize that it is in the medium and long term that expanded, perhaps widespread, lack of faith in the government’s approach may surface because of this.  As we near the end of the first Level 4 period it will be interesting what they will say about expanding testing for community transmission, if anything.

It’s common sense to be universally testing workers in ‘essential activities’.  The obvious ones are those involved with the health system where exposure is more likely, and food store workers where great numbers of individuals will be turning up.  Sure, it’s a lot of work to test everyone of those but a person may have contracted the virus before symptoms occur, and more worrying, some may have contracted the virus and never display symptoms.  Both types being carriers and transmitters, but invisible and silent like in Edgar Allen Poe’s famous short story ‘The Mask of the Red Death’.  There’s too much ‘leakage’ in symptom only testing.  The government needs to explain why they are not doing enough testing (they know they are not doing enough testing). (*Note 1)

At risk of carrying on too long here, I’ll speculate about the usefulness of random country-wide testing, possibly doing a bit more in suspected more-vulnerable areas.  Just finding one person infected (perhaps even without symptoms) in an area would identify where normal multiple transmission expectation could result in exponential spread of the virus.  Without finding that person it might be just as dangerous to be out in that location as the areas identified as hotspots, but not know it.

Currently my thought about dangers to myself is that I’ll not want to go out after the lockdown ends, with return to Level 3 or Level 2, because not enough is known about community transmission.  And in particular going to the supermarket is going to seem the same in terms of danger, looking around the store, without confidence that community transmission is mostly understood (which it isn’t).

  • Note 1 – It isn’t only testing for community transmission where such ‘leakage’ would seem to be expected.  The term ‘self-isolation’ has doubt written all over it.  It’s actually good the few examples (in the hundreds identified by police) there have been in the first two weeks.  But with the end of Level 4 being discussed those numbers may grow over the next two weeks.  ‘Quarantine’ is a much different term and by defining the strict terms of quarantine now, the government is admitting the softness and expected leakage during our time of ‘self-isolation’.   The strictness of quarantine should keep open the discussion about greatly increased community wide testing.   It is interesting that only today (09/04) have they begun to explain the limitations of not doing enough when explaining the change to quarantine.  They should have explained that at the start three or four weeks ago in order to put off possible growth in resistance later.  The same discussion may soon arise over community testing limitations.

Another traffic tunnel would be an act of desperation

The Editor, The Dominion Post, Wellington

19/09/ 2021

Dear Editor:

It is potentially great that 147K of cycleways are planned to be built over the next decade.  There are two things to be wary of, however.

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