Saturday, 20 November 2021

I'll take the masks and vaccines, thank you

From Stuff:

I don't want to be pedantic, but I'm pretty sure neither masks nor vaccines figure much in the Gospel of Saint John; nor has Jesus shown much efficacy in protecting people from anything.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Thank you very much for your kind contagion, thank you very much ...

Good to see the government - after a stunningly successful Round One with COVID - has decided to  simply offer us all up to the virus so Ardern can keep her hare-brained promise to open up the country for Christmas.

First we were going to eradicate Delta, just like we did last time Covid showed its face here.  That was the best policy and we were probably only a couple of weeks from success.  But the government's constant spineless shifting of lines and the stupid arrogant selfishness of some made it harder and kept pushing out the eradication horizon.  It was and is and always will be outlandish to hear people complaining about how lockdowns are damaging the economy or people's mental health or social relationships; and then advocating the sort of stupid ideas that make things even worse.  Tired of sitting about at home?  Try having COVID and see how you like that.  Think your business is suffering?  See how it goes when you are continually losing staff and customers and not able to run a supply chain as COVID devastates every aspect of the economy.

The solution was, of course, getting people vaccinated and so it seemed sensible to set a target; when the government announced we were going to open up when we got 90% of the population double vaxxed,  I could live with that.  It would have meant punishing ongoing economic and health problems, a steady stream of deaths and sicknesses.  But a highly vaccinated population would have meant only long term misery, not catastrophe.

Now we're looking at the government shrugging its shoulders and giving up, apparently because of a slight shift in the polls and because they are afflicted by the strange delusion that anyone listens to Judith Collins.  Not even Judith Collins listens to Judith Collins.  But for some reason the government do and decide to adopt what ever random spluttering she produced on Morning Report three weeks ago.

Given the critical lack of spine in the government, they'll probably relent on the ban on unvaccinated workers in health and education, and let them all back in, bringing their virus spreading super-potential with them.  Nice.

It isn't how you run a country.  It isn't how you look after people.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Ansell / In Hell

So it turns out John Ansell - the marketer whose racially rank Iwi/Kiwi billboards almost made Don Brash Prime Minister - is now one of the luminaries of the anti-Vaxx movement.

You are killing people ... you are killing people ... and it is not misinformation, it is missing information that we want.  You are participating in a genocide.  The question is, what should be the punishment?  Some say, as per Nuremburg, it should be hanging.  I don't, I respectfully disagree with that.  I think it should be lethal injection.
Just savour that for a moment.

I heard a discussion the other day about how we should not talk about the 'anti-vaxx rabbit hole' because that makes it sould innocent and fluffy.  But the term comes from Lewis Carrol's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Alice goes down the rabbit hole to a place where the normal rules don't apply, where nothing makes sense and everyone is mad.  So I think it has merit.

We're expected to take seriously someone who thinks a vaccine that may have killed one person (after five million odd doses) is 'genocide'; who would rather we did not use it in the face of a virus that will soon have killed 1 in 300 citizens of the USA.

There have been 47 million cases of COVID in the USA.  There have been 750,000 deaths.  That's a shocking 1.6% death rate, or 1 in every 62 cases resulting in death.  World wide, it is worse - about 1 death per 50 cases.  If there is a 'genocide' happening it isn't in New Zealand, but less fortunate parts of the world.  That's the sort of information you are missing, John.

It's said people drift to the right as they age, abandoning youthful idealism as they confront the harsh realities of life.  But it would seem if you start on the right you perform the same drift, and end up somewhere very strange and troubling indeed, deep down the rabbit hole.

You have to wonder how someone like Ansell, or Sue Grey, or Simon Thornley ends up where they are.  Given Ansell's past associations you can see a pathway from the libertarian fringe to where he is now - lockdowns, state over reach and now compelling people to have vaccines at risk of losing their jobs.  But it is a hard, long path, and you'd have to really, really want to get there - or be driven there by your own inner demons.

Listening to Ansell fulminating about genocide I don't feel fear (though I might if it was me he was advocating being executed); nor do I feel hate, or even contempt.  I feel something like pity, because whatever made him walk all that way clearly wasn't something good; and it hasn't brought him any happiness or peace.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Where's my $60?

 According to some website analytics thingimibob called 'prostats' (if it was really that pro it probably wouldn't feel the need to say it was) my humble blog should be generating a mighty $60pa in revenue:

I don't have it, so which of you lot has nicked it?

Quacks like a duck

 Another examination of anti-vaxx tactics by the apparently indefatigable Charlie Mitchell (and Katie Kenny) who may be my new crush.

So, an academic has produced a paper which suggested that 80-90% of pregnancies of women who were vaccinated early in their pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage.  The academic happens to be Simon Thornley, described by Mitchell and Kenny as "a founding member of Covid Plan B, and remains a member of New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out With Science" (like countries that showcase the word 'democracy' in their national name, there is more speaking than science going on with that lot) who acted "as an expert witness for several legal challenges that would impact the rollout of vaccines".  So, track record seems pretty clear.

Thornley tries to demonstrate there is a hidden menace in the vaccine for pregnant women, by analysing an older study and revealing the aforementioned shocking rate of miscarriage among women vaccinated in the first or second trimester.  But since the study focused on 'completed pregnancies' (i.e. those ending in birth or miscarriage) and only focused for a three month period, of course the only 'completion' a women in the first or second trimester is going to experience is a miscarriage or a premature birth.  You can't do a  complete nine month pregnancy from conception to birth in three months.  Any first or second trimester pregnancy 'completing' in the period is likely to have been a miscarriage.

Thornly uses a very familiar defence - essentially claiming he was misrepresented and his data misused and all he was actually doing was trying to highlight the flaws in the original study by performing a reductio ad absurdum.  That's a line often used by climate change deniers and Holocaust deniers - "I'm just asking questions" or "I'm playing with the data" or "It's just a thought experiment / piece of intellectual performance art."

But when all you "thought experiments" tend towards the same conclusion, and slot neatly into a wider pattern of behaviour, that defence becomes laughable.  Why are you spending so much time "asking questions" casting doubt on climate change, and never doing anything that shows it is a reality? Why spend all your time and energy trying to show the Shoah did not happen, unless you harbour a deeply held conviction it did not?

When it walks, talks and quacks like a duck, then it is hard to argue it isn't a duck.  Or as a child might put it, if it quacks like a quack, it's probably a quack.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Whatever a man soweth, that also shall he reap

 A prominent member of Destiny Church, one of the organisers of the anti-lockdown protests, has tested positive for Covid 19:

A Destiny Church member charged with organising a massive anti-lockdown protest in Auckland has tested positive for Covid-19.

Paul Craig Thompson, of Papatoetoe, is isolating at home after testing positive for the virus in recent days. He refused to reveal his vaccination status when contacted by Stuff.

The 57-year-old Destiny Church member, along with Destiny leader Brian Tamaki, were arrested and charged with organising a mass gathering in breach of Covid-19 alert level restrictions last month.

I do not wish for Mr Thompson to die of this dreadful illness; that would be evil.  I want him to get better.  

But I do think it would be useful for him to have a brutal, unpleasant encounter with Covid 19 so he would learn this virus is not to be fucked with; and stop telling his flock to refuse to vaccinate and to flaunt public safety measures.  Covid changed Boris Johnson's mind in fairly short order.

Hopefully a brush with it will have a similar effect on Mr Thompson. 

One might be tempted to recall his boss ('Bishop' Brian Tamaki I mean, not God) is prone to saying very stupid things about major disasters, linking the Christchurch earthquake to homosexual law reform (one has to wonder, if God didn't want gay rights to be a thing, why he'd smite cities with earthquakes, rather than spelling out a disapproving message in the clouds or something like that; it all seems a bit roundabout for an all powerful divine presence.)

I hope Mr Tamaki will be consistent and will acknowledge that the visitation of this plague upon Destiny Church is a judgement for transgressing God's will.  The Epistle to the Galatains advises: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  Paul Craig Thompson and Brian Tamaki invited Covid to have its merry way with them, and may now reap a bitter harvest.

Speedy recovery, Mr Thompson, both of your physical well being and your common sense.

Sunday, 7 November 2021

Anti-Vaxxers subjected to cruel ridicule in Palmerston North

 So, while I wandering about town on Saturday afternoon, I happened to chance upon a (rather thinly populated) anti-vaccine rally in the Square.

By chance, as I moved closer to see quite what was going on the speaker - a very energetic fellow who seemed unsure what nation - or even hemisphere he was in - asked his audience (about 100 people, I reckon) if the wanted "Socialism or freedom"; to which I could not restrain myself from bellowing "socialism" though I don't think anyone noticed.

I didn't linger, because being around large groups of unvaccinated people in a pandemic is Really Stupid (and both Covid and Stupid as easily caught - as Charlie Mitchell described in Stuff the other day)  But I did hear more.

After presenting his audience with the false choice between "socialism" on the one hand and "freedom" on the other the speaker then led his enthused listeners (most of whom would have benefited from New Zealand's milquetoast socialism at many points in their lives) in a vigorous chorus of "The Bill of Rights is ours!" which most of them joined in with cheerfully, though perhaps wondering what the Bill of Rights is, and why they were meant to be excited about it.

A few days ago Hone Harawira described the so-called "Sovereignty Hikoi of Truth" (which seemed to fail to live up to any of the of the words in its name, except perhaps the 'of' part) as being taken over by "Pakehā anti-vaxxers" and this claim seems to be borne out by fulminations of the gentleman in the Square.  "Socialism" isn't something most New Zealanders get very worked up about, though I suppose if you are the sort of person who considers Jacinda Ardern a "Pretty little communist" and thinks it would be an clever idea to put that thought on a placard, then there are some.


Which suggests a lot of the intellectual apparatus (sic) of the anti-Vaxx movement is being imported from overseas.  This makes sense.  New Zealanders don't tend to get passionately upset about sensible medical ideas and the link between the anti-Vaxxers and the evangelical churches is pretty well known - and the curious blend of intolerance, conservativism, libertarianism and fleecing of the congregation propagated by some of those sects is a direct import from the fundamentalist churches in the USA.

But I am curious about the people behind the people gathered in the square.  Who thinks it would be a splendid idea to import American or Australian anti-Vax lunacy into Aotearoa and encourage people - generally the people who are highly vulnerable to Covid and likely to be worst hit by it as it seethes past the Pretty Little Communist's half-hearted attempts to stop it?

As a childish aside - if only Ardern had been properly Stalinist and actually made us all stay home and watch Netflix instead of vaccilating and worrying about whether people might be starting to listen to the irrelevance formerly known as Judith Collins.  Then we might be back to smirking insufferably at the rest of the world and wondering what all the fuss was about, instead of bracing ourselves for Delta's full onslaught.

And not just who, but why?  Anti-Vaxxers are big on conspiracies.  They love the idea this is planned - though they disagree what 'this' is - it might be the phoney virus, or the not-phoney virus that has been deliberately unleashed, or the not-phoney virus that wasn't deliberately unleashed but whose emergence is being exploited by the Powers That Be to achieve some nefarious end.  From Charlie Mitchell's piece, mentioned earlier, we learn of the anti-Vaxxer fixation with the idea there are Dark Forces behind it all, whatever 'all' might be:
An article, published on the group’s website and authored by the “NZDSOS Steering Committee”, claims the pandemic is ushering in a totalitarian society and refers to “undeniable evidence that the Covid pandemic is in fact a planned criminal operation”. It likens unvaccinated people to victims of 20th-century dictators such as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot.

“Behind every regime mentioned, investing in the death camps and gulags and perhaps now vaccines, have been sociopathic banking and corporate interests, as immune to the suffering of others as their chosen frontmen and women,” the article says.

In a post responding to the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, the group’s Telegram account implied that US President John F Kennedy was assassinated due to his belief in natural immunity, a conspiracy theory so obscure I can’t find it referenced anywhere else. NZDSOS would set up “dream circles” for those affected by the mandate, it said in a since-deleted remark on its website.''

And: 

To get to that point required a lying propagandised media, a currency or other economic or societal collapse then centralised control, a persecuted minority blamed for all society's ills and, particularly in the communist regimes, you eliminate religion, control education and inflict regular doses of terror and persecution to keep the citizens obedient,” Shelton says.
That's grand stuff, particularly the bit about Kennedy.  I always KNEW it wasn't a cranky social failure exercising his 2nd Amendment Rights in an extreme fashion, or even a Communist stodge controlled by the microchips implanted in him during his sojourn in Russia (does this sound a bit familiar?)  Clearly, it was because Kennedy was an anti-Vaxxer. Probably many other people were as well, all martyred by Big Pharma in its quest to sell us pills and magnetise the population.

I often think there is an element of projection or unconscious self-description going on in the screeds of conspiratorially inclined.  Like a sort of self-created Rorschach test, the word salads they post revel what is going on inside or behind.  Bigger pictures can be glimpsed in the scribblings.

My pet theory is this is nothing to do with Covid, ultimately.  There is always a bigger game afoot.  And no, this is not saying Covid is not a Very Big Deal.  But when the anti-Vaxxers contend that Covid is being exploited by the murky Powers That Be to further some Sinister Agenda, I wonder if there is not some truth in this; only the Powers That Be are quite different from Jacinda / the Chinese / Hilary Clinton / the Feds or whoever the anti-Vaxxers would posit is behind it all.  And the goal isn't to turn us all into human fridge magnets but part of a long term strategy to break democracy by alienating people from the system, spreading paranoid ideas about the interventionist state and regulation.

The protesters are 'useful idiots' - a phrase often ascribed to Lenin and suggesting his scornful and cynical manipulation of gullible Western sympathizers (though it isn't at all clear he coined the phrase, used it in the manner usually described.  The whole thing may have been a ruse to make those sympathetic to communism feel they were being gulled by the Reds.)

They are being used in an ongoing process of democratic and social sabotage to people whose interests are completely at odds with their own and who don't really give a damn about the Bill of Rights or the freedoms of people in Palmerston North's square.

And who don't really care if these people live or die, as long as they do the important thing, which is stop voting.

If I was to be rallying the Square, I wouldn't be chanting "The Bill of Rights is ours"; I'd be chanting, "This is a deliberate attempt to convince people to disenfranchise themselves, allowing the further consolidation of rightwing ideology; a deliberate and cynical move top persuade people at the bottom of society - who rightly feel they have been neglected and let down - to opt out of protecting their own interests, resulting in the continuing and accelerating demolition of the state apparatus that could be used to help them, the very people whose acquiescence is allowing the rich and the privileged to further arrogate more power and wealth to themselves; and further permitting them to continue to lower tax rates privatise and deregulate, of environmental protection in pursuit of short term profit."

Or maybe I'd just yell "Socialism" again because it is shorter and easier to understand.

What Omicron will be like ...

 I might not be very good at maths but I never bought into the developing "Omicron is the Covid we can live with" narrative.  I re...