Sue Townsend 2.4.46 – 10.4.14

April 11, 2014

Sue Townsend, author of the Adrian Mole books has died.

Townsend, 68, died at home on Thursday after a short illness.

The first of her comic series, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, was published in 1982 and the eighth instalment, Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, was released in 2009.

Her other best-selling novels included The Queen and I.

Townsend, who was left blind after suffering from diabetes for many years, achieved worldwide success following the publication of the books about teenager Adrian Mole. . . .

To write as well as she did is admirable, doing so with severe health problems is even more so.


Beyond reasonable doubt

March 25, 2014

Any hopes that Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 had landed safely have been dashed.

Malaysia’s prime minister has announced that missing flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Najib Razak said this was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight.

Najib Razak said this was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight.

Malaysia Airlines had told the families of the 239 people on board, he said.

The BBC has seen a text message sent to families by the airline saying it had to be assumed “beyond reasonable doubt” that the plane was lost and there were no survivors.

There were 227 passengers on flight MH370, many of them Chinese. . . .

It is natural to continue hoping until the worst has been confirmed and now it has, beyond reasonable doubt.

Families, some of whom have lost two and three generations, and friends of passengers now know there is no hope of survivors.

But the answer to where the plane crashed leaves many more questions:

What was it doing in the southern Indian Ocean so far from its original flight path?

Who was behind the change in direction and why?

And how, when so many fear mass surveillance, can a plane disappear into thin air and it take so long to find it?

 


We must not forget

February 24, 2014

The oldest known survivor of the Nazi Holocaust has died in London, aged 110.

Born into a Jewish family in Prague in 1903, Ms Herz-Sommer spent two years in a Nazi concentration camp in Terezin. . .

A film about her life has been nominated for best short documentary at next month’s Academy Awards.

“We all came to believe that she would just never die,” said Frederic Bohbot, producer of the documentary, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.

Ms Herz-Sommer is said to have continued playing the works of Schubert and Beethoven until her final days.

On the film’s website, she says: “I am Jewish, but Beethoven is my religion. I am no longer myself. The body cannot resist as it did in the past.

“I think I am in my last days but it does not really matter because I have had such a beautiful life.

“And life is beautiful, love is beautiful, nature and music are beautiful. Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love.” . .

In 1942, her 73-year-old mother had been transported to Terezin, also known as Theresienstadt, and then on to Treblinka, an extermination camp.

“And I went with her of course till the last moment. This was the lowest point of my life. She was sent away. Till now I do not know where she was, till now I do not know when she died, nothing.”

Ms Herz-Sommer and her son, Stefan, were among fewer than 20,000 people who were freed when Terezin was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945.

An estimated 140,000 Jews were sent there and 33,430 died there. About 88,000 were transported on to Auschwitz and other death camps, where most were killed.

Ms Herz-Sommer’s husband, Leopold Sommer, whom she had married in 1931, died of typhus at Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp in southern Germany.

Her son, who became a concert cellist, died in 2001. . .

With her death, we lose the last first-hand knowledge of that atrocious part of world history.

We must not forget it nor the inspiration of someone who could live through such horror, retain her faith and still say she had a beautiful life.


Charlotte Dawson 8.4.66 – 22.2.14

February 22, 2014

Has depression claimed another victim?

Media personality Charlotte Dawson has been found dead in her Sydney home.

Police have confirmed a woman’s body was found at the address in Woolloomooloo and there were no suspicious circumstances.

The New Zealand-born Dawson, 47, had a history with depression.

The former model was hospitalised last year after being bombarded with vicious Twitter messages.

She was a vocal anti-bullying campaigner and had been campaigning for cancer resources. . .

Her death will be referred to a corner but no suspicious circumstances  is usually police-speak for suicide.

Depression is a serious and often misunderstood illness.

Depression.org has an 0800 number to call and advice for anyone needing help for themselves or someone else.


Shirley Temple 23.4.28. – 10.2.14

February 12, 2014

Child star and adult diplomat Shirley Temple Black has died.

Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, precocious and determined little girl in the 1930s sang and tap-danced her way to a height of Hollywood stardom and worldwide fame that no other child has reached, died on Monday night at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85. . . .

After marrying Charles Alden Black in 1950, she became a prominent Republican fund-raiser. She was appointed a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969. She went on to win wide respect as the United States ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, was President Gerald R. Ford’s chief of protocol in 1976 and 1977, and became President George H. W. Bush’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989, serving there during the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

After winning an honorary Academy Award at the age of 6 and earning $3 million before puberty, Shirley Temple grew up to be a level-headed adult. When her cancerous left breast was removed in 1972, at a time when operations for cancer were shrouded in secrecy, she held a news conference in her hospital room to speak out about her mastectomy and to urge women discovering breast lumps not to “sit home and be afraid.” She is widely credited with helping to make it acceptable to talk about breast cancer. . . .


Pete Seeger: 3.5.19 – 27.1.14

January 29, 2014

Folk singer Pete Seeger has died.

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 94. . .


Roger Lloyd-Pack 8.2.44 – 15.1.14

January 17, 2014

Roger Lloyd Pack, better known as Trigger in only Fools and Horses and Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley, has died.

 

 

 


Ariel Sharon 26.2.28 – 11.1.14

January 12, 2014

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Shraon, has died after eight years in a coma.

Ariel Sharon was known as The Bulldozer: a larger-than-life, blustering figure who came to dominate the domestic political scene as much by his sheer physical presence as by his rhetoric.

To many Israelis, Sharon was a heroic warrior, having led decisive campaigns in the 1967 and 1973 wars.

But to many Palestinians he was The Butcher, who laid siege to Beirut and was responsible for the deaths of at least 800 civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982.

“No-one can lecture me about the need for peace,” he once said. “I am the one who was in those battles. Therefore I am the person who can prevent war.” And it is true that Sharon had fought in all of Israel’s five wars. . . .

The Telegraph has reactions from world leaders.

 

 


Farm tools not toys

January 9, 2014

The death of another child who was riding a quad bike is another tragedy.

Police are investigating and there will be an inquest.

Both are certain to reinforce what Southland Federated Farmers chair Russell MacPherson says – quads are farm tools not toys.

. . . Quad bikes looked like fun and could be fun but were terribly dangerous machines, especially in the hands of young people, Mr MacPherson said.

“This is a reminder to parents and grandparents, our children and grandchildren should not be on adult quad bikes, it’s that simple.”

Full-sized four-wheelers carried labels from the manufacturer specifying no-one under 16 should ride one.

The adult-size four-wheelers were heavy, powerful machines and needed an adult to control them, Mr MacPherson said.

“You need weight to manoeuvre and control an adult four-wheeler and kids don’t have that.”

No passengers should be carried on a four-wheeler either, unless designed to do so: passengers restrict the rider’s mobility and add weight, making it harder to control and more prone to tipping over.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the family involved, for Southland and farming communities and if anything can come out of it, it will be a reminder that four-wheelers are dangerous and potentially can kill,” Mr MacPherson said. . .

Few if any people would consider letting young children ride an adult 2-wheel motor bike; drive a tractor, truck or digger or use a chain saw.

The same cautious approach should apply to quads.

They are deceptively easy to ride in perfect conditions but they are large, heavy and unstable machines which can be very difficult for experienced adult riders to handle when even something minor goes wrong.


Sometimes your number’s up

December 27, 2013

The driver of this car was heading east.

He said he went to sleep.

The driver of a vehicle going in the opposite direction saw the car swerve into the gravel, hit a bank, fly into the air, cross the road, go over the fence without breaking a wire and come to rest on its side facing west.

If the other vehicle had been a second closer, if this car had hit a post or if the driver hadn’t been wearing a seat belt, at least one person would have been severely injured or dead.

As it is the driver had no serious injuries and no-one else was hurt.

Sometimes your number’s up, sometimes it isn’t.

car


Mandela’s funeral live-stream

December 15, 2013

TV3 is broadcasting a live stream of Nelson Mandela’s funeral here.


Nelson Mandela’s funeral live stream

December 10, 2013

TV3 is live streaming the funeral of Nelson Mandela here.


It’s about respect not politics and past

December 9, 2013

Talkback last night was full of criticism of New Zealand’s delegation to Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Prime Minister John Key will lead a small group of New Zealanders to pay respects to Nelson Mandela at his official memorial service in South Africa.

“Nelson Mandela was a global icon for freedom who united South Africans following apartheid,” says Mr Key.

“Madiba’s achievements demonstrate what can be attained through forgiveness and reconciliation. His vision for South Africa was one of freedom and equality. It remains an inspiration to the world.”

Mr Key will be accompanied by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples; Leader of the Opposition, Hon David Cunliffe, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger; and former Foreign Minister and Secretary‑General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Sir Don McKinnon.

“This distinguished delegation reflects the mana of Mr Mandela, and the highest regard in which New Zealand held him,” says Mr Key.

“New Zealand has a close friendship with South Africa, built on the solid foundation of Commonwealth, sporting and personal ties. New Zealanders felt an emotional connection with Nelson Mandela and our sympathies are with the people of South Africa at this difficult time.’’ . .

The critics don’t seem to understand that this is about respect for Mr Mandela, not politics and not the past to which they cling.

Attempting to politicise this is disrespectful to the man and what he stood for – reconciliation and forgiveness.


Nelson Mandela 18.7.18 – 5.12.13

December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela has died.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the father of the nation, died on December 5 2013 at the age of 95.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement from the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday night. He said Mandela passed away at 20:50 in his Houghton home surrounded by his wife, Graça Machel and members of his family.

Zuma said Mandela would have a state funeral and that the flags would fly half-mast from December 6 until after the funeral.

Zuma called on South Africans to “recall the values for which Madiba fought”. . .

Mandela became the symbol of the struggle against apartheid after he was convicted in the Rivonia Trial of charges of sabotage and was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.

At the end of his trial, Mandela gave a now iconic speech in which he said: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” . . .

Other quotes which exemplify his philosophy:

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

It always seems impossible until its done.

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

In my country we go to prison first and then become President.

I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.

Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.

A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.

Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.


Lest we forget

November 11, 2013

In acknowledgement of Armistice Day, in memory of those who served and with gratitude for peace:

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

remember

The New Zealand War Memorial in London.


Nigel Davenport 23.5. 28 – 25.10.13

October 30, 2013

British actor Nigel Davenport has died:

Nigel Davenport, the actor, who has died aged 85, will be best remembered for playing dark, strong, rakish toffs, aggressive heroes, scowling villains – and for what he himself called his “dodgy” eyes.

Whether in films, plays or on television, Davenport’s power largely derived, some thought, from his expressive gaze. It could be even more striking in close-up. Amiable or disturbing, it caused tough guys to wilt and pretty girls to sigh. . .

He appeared in more than 40 feature films, ranging from a detective in Peeping Tom, via a tough guy among conscripts in The Virgin Soldiers, to a resourceful psychopath who (in Play Dirty) wipes out a whole army encampment on the grounds that “I didn’t like the tea”. He was also the game warden in Living Free who resigns in order to capture lion cubs and transport them to a distant game reserve, and Lord Birkenhead in Chariots of Fire. . . .


Lou Reed 2.3.42 – 27.10.13

October 28, 2013

Lou Reed, musician and leader of the Velvet Underground, has died.

Not a Perfect Day for him and those who loved him, but this is one of the songs which will outlive him:


Capacity for untidy end

October 11, 2013

Understatement of the day:

Mr McCully, who was on the flight, said: “We clearly knew that there was a capacity for this to have an untidy end, and we were enormously relieved that it didn’t.”

He was one of 117 passengers on an RNZAF Boeing 757 to Antarctica carrying  which  had to circle the Pegasus airstrip near Scott Base for 2 hours on Monday and made two aborted approaches before making an emergency landing in reduced visibility and freezing fog.


Change mooted for burial laws

October 6, 2013

The Law Commission is consulting on ideas for changing burial laws.

The terms of reference for the review (which can be found here) are very broad. As well as assessing whether the Act remains fit for purpose,  we have also been asked to consider whether, and to what extent, the law should:

  • protect the diverse cultural and spiritual needs of individuals and groups with respect to burial and cremation;
  • protect land used for human burial, ensuring it is adequately maintained and our cultural heritage preserved;
  • provide better guidance and assistance to the bereaved when decision-making  at the time of death gives rise to serious disagreements; and
  • whether the is a case for stronger consumer protections with respect to the funeral and cremation sector.

Among the issues being considered is allowing people to be buried on family land.

We visited a farm earlier this year with a private cemetery.

The owners had wanted to establish one but were told by lawyers they couldn’t. However, while tidying up the paper work one of the owners happened to read that religions could establish private graveyards.

He did some research, found there was little if any law pertaining to what constituted a religion for this purpose, established one, called it a Christian religion, got the paper work sorted, invited an Anglican bishop to bless the land and that was that.

The family has subsequently built a small chapel beside their cemetery.

There are sensitivities and health considerations around burials and I can see problems if people wanted to start burying bodies on small urban sections.

But I don’t see the need to go through the palaver the people we visited did to establish a graveyard on larger land holdings like farms which are usually passed on through the family.


Right to die or right to kill?

September 27, 2013

MP Maryan Street has withdrawn her End of Life Choice Bill from the members’ ballot.

The Bill was promoting voluntary euthanasia which is often called the right to die.

It would also give the right to kill.

It would give people, including doctors, the right to offer, provide and ultimately administer fatal medication.

I have twice given doctors permission to not resuscitate a child.

Tom was just 20 weeks old, Dan five years, both had degenerative brain disorders and both had stopped breathing when I was asked if I wanted treatment to continue.

That isn’t what this Bill is about.

Nor is it about pain relief as part of palliative care.

There might be a grey area now about pain relief which gets to the level where it could be fatal but there is a huge gulf between alleviating pain and deliberately killing someone.

If we ever consider our own mortality most of us would choose to die without pain and with all our faculties intact.

Life and death aren’t always that tidy and palliative care isn’t always optimal.

That is a very strong argument for better palliative care, not an argument for euthanasia.

Our lives are our own but the right to kill is a big and very serious step on from the right to die.

Macdoctor has several posts on the issue.


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