Ray Columbus 1942 – 2016

November 29, 2016

New Zealand pop legend Ray Columbus has died.

The Christchurch-born and raised entertainer will be remembered for his stylish dress, his unique dancing style and a string of hit records.

The single ‘She’s a Mod’ in 1964 cemented Ray Columbus and the Invaders a place in New Zealand music history, when it reached the top of the charts in Australia. . . .

I remember him on the TV programme C’Mon and going dewey-eyed over this song:


Death of a despot

November 28, 2016

Fidel Castro’s death has been met with a mixed response.

Some praise him for overthrowing the dictator Fulgencio Batista and improvements in health and education in Cuba.

Others, like Carlos Eire (Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, condemn him:

If this were a just world, 13 facts would be etched on Castro’s tombstone and highlighted in every obituary, as bullet points — a fitting metaphor for someone who used firing squads to murder thousands of his own people.

●He turned Cuba into a colony of the Soviet Union and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust.

●He sponsored terrorism wherever he could and allied himself with many of the worst dictators on earth.

●He was responsible for so many thousands of executions and disappearances in Cuba that a precise number is hard to reckon.

●He brooked no dissent and built concentration camps and prisons at an unprecedented rate, filling them to capacity, incarcerating a higher percentage of his own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin.

●He condoned and encouraged torture and extrajudicial killings.

●He forced nearly 20 percent of his people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea, unseen and uncounted, while fleeing from him in crude vessels.

●He claimed all property for himself and his henchmen, strangled food production and impoverished the vast majority of his people.

●He outlawed private enterprise and labor unions, wiped out Cuba’s large middle class and turned Cubans into slaves of the state.

●He persecuted gay people and tried to eradicate religion.

●He censored all means of expression and communication.

●He established a fraudulent school system that provided indoctrination rather than education, and created a two-tier health-care system, with inferior medical care for the majority of Cubans and superior care for himself and his oligarchy, and then claimed that all his repressive measures were absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of these two ostensibly “free” social welfare projects.

●He turned Cuba into a labyrinth of ruins and established an apartheid society in which millions of foreign visitors enjoyed rights and privileges forbidden to his people.

●He never apologized for any of his crimes and never stood trial for them.

There might be diplomatic reasons for world leaders to couch their words about Castro in a way that keeps the door to Cuba open.

But when a despot dies it is more than acceptable for the rest of us to speak ill of the dead.

Hat tip: AE Ideas.


Another death at Moeraki turn-off

November 23, 2016

Another person has died at a North Otago highway black spot:

One person was killed in a three-car collision opposite the turn-off to tourist hot spot Moeraki Boulders, yesterday afternoon.

Police were called to the site about 3.30pm.

One person died at the scene and another with critical injuries was transported by rescue helicopter to Dunedin Hospital.

Two people with moderate injuries were taken to Oamaru Hospital.

Earlier this year, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) released information to the Otago Daily Times which showed eight deaths had occurred between Maheno and Moeraki since 2011.

Information provided by the agency identified 10 serious crashes in the area from 2011 to 2015. . .

 The turn-off to the Moeraki Boulders is on a straight stretch of road, which slopes moderately down-hill if you’re traveling south.

Visibility shouldn’t be a problem.

But if you aren’t used to looking right, left and right again, don’t look carefully enough, overshoot the intersection  and slow suddenly, concentrate on your GPS instead of the road and traffic . . . there are lots of opportunities for driver error to turn into tragedy.

 


Marti Friedlander 1928 – 14.11.16

November 14, 2016

New Zealand has lost one of its best photographers:

Marti Friedlander, one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed photographers, has died at her home in Auckland, aged 88.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, she chronicled the changing nature of post-war New Zealand with her photographs.

Her works ranged from portraits of kuia, artists and children to shots of rows of state houses and flocks of sheep on country roads.

Born Martha Gordon in London in 1928, she grew up in a Jewish orphanage and after attending Camberwell School of Art, worked as an assistant to Gordon Crocker, the leading fashion photographer of the time.

In 1957 she married Gerrard Friedlander, a New Zealander, and accompanied him back to New Zealand, where he set up a dental practice and she assisted him as a nurse before turning to photography. . . 

The Listener has an interview with her here.

Sunday profiles her here.


Jimmy Perry 9.9.23 – 23.10.16

October 24, 2016

We know the shows and the actors, but the names of the people who write the scripts are often less familiar.

One of these whose work entertained millions, Jimmy Perry, has died.

Jimmy Perry was best known as the creator of Dad’s Army, one of television’s most popular, and long running sitcoms.

His 25-year partnership with David Croft also produced It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi and You Rang M’Lord?

Much of his writing was based on his own varied work experiences which included a spell as a Butlin’s Redcoat.

He also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music hall, something he used to good effect when he presented the BBC series Turns, which chronicled variety performances from the 1930s and 40s.

Jimmy Perry was born on 20 September 1923 in Barnes, south-west London.

His fascination for the world of showbusiness came at an early age and, while still at school, he had his sights set on becoming a stand up-comedian.

When war broke out in 1939 he was too young for the army so he signed up in his local Home Guard. . . 


366 days of gratitude

October 6, 2016

The first time I went to town after our son died I was aware that the world was still turning as normal while my life had been changed irrevocably.

About half way to town I passed a grove of flowering cherry trees, their pink blossom standing out against the clear, blue sky.

Part of me was confounded by this exuberant show of new life while I was so consumed by a death. But a small part of my mind also registered that this was a sign that spring always follows winter.

I remember that each I drive past those trees, which is usually several times each week, and none more so than at this time of year when they are again in full bloom.

Today I’m grateful for nature’s message that life goes on and that after winter there will be spring.


What about the doctors?

August 30, 2016

Proponents of euthanasia argue that people have autonomy over themselves which includes the right to die.

They rarely look at the debate from the point of view of doctors who would prescribe lethal doses of medication or administer them.

At The Spinoff, Medical Association chair Stephen Child gives that perspective:

For many, the key discussion point is whether it is possible to write and administer perfect legislation that permits someone autonomy at the end of life without the secondary negative consequences of:

  • inappropriate deaths
  • reduction in quality of palliative care
  • normalisation of suicide.

Both sides of this debate will emphasise anecdotes, surveys or “research” demonstrating cases of potential intolerable human suffering, or cases of coercion/inappropriate decision making, resulting in potentially unnecessary death. . . 

The ethical standards of a profession often go beyond public opinion, the law and market demands, and may also differ from the personal values held by some individuals within that profession. The role of professional ethics, however, is not only to prevent harm and exploitation of the patient but also to protect the integrity of the profession as a whole. This often requires the professional body to fulfil a leadership role to ensure clarity and provide direction.

The NZMA, along with the World Medical Association and 53 national medical associations, holds the following positions on voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying:

  • We recognise the rights of patient autonomy, so we recognise the right for society to have this discussion. We also acknowledge that people currently have the right to end their own life and that this legislation focuses on third-party assistance with this act.
  • We recognise the rights of patients to refuse treatment or for the removal of lifesaving treatment, and that the natural consequences of an illness may progress to death.
  • We recognise the rights of patients to have good access to high quality palliative care services and we passionately advocate for improved resources, education, workforce and facilities to achieve this goal. We strongly oppose the current necessity for our major hospice facilities in New Zealand to have to raise half their funds themselves.
  • We recognise the patient’s right to have administered analgesia and sedation to relieve pain and suffering – even if a secondary consequence of this is the shortening of life. Morphine is not an agent of euthanasia, and will not by and of itself reliably end the life of a patient. These agents are administered to relieve suffering, applying a risk/benefit analysis similar to all treatments, with a shared understanding of the potential risks in their prescription.

It might look like dancing on the head of a pin but there is a difference between giving something to alleviate pain and suffering in the knowledge it could hasten death and giving to deliberately kill.

. . .  Many people, however, still find confusing the difference between the concept of administering terminal analgesia/sedation to a dying patient, and that of administering voluntary euthanasia to a patient with concurrently stable physiology. The difference between palliative care and assisted dying is well documented and clear. The World Health Organisation definition of palliative care includes the statement that palliative care “intends to neither hasten nor postpone death”.

In jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted laws exist, concern is growing about the impact on palliative care, where those seeking euthanasia are referred first to palliative care for assessment. This has led to confusion in patients as to the role of palliative care and – in some instances – patients who are opposed to euthanasia declining palliative care services.

The profession as a whole has also echoed concerns about the accuracy of diagnosis and prognosis, as well as the lack of certainty around measuring the capacity of patients facing terminal illness, who often also have reactive depression, altered brain physiology from medications or metastases, as well as potential external coercion factors.

For the profession, as well as ethical considerations, physician-assisted dying raises issues of:

  • potential impacts on palliative care delivery
  • potential changes to a doctor-patient relationship
  • difficulties with adequate training, assessment and regulation of the profession
  • potential negative impact on health providers participating in such acts.

Principles of autonomy and self-determination are, of course, central to this debate. The NZMA respects and supports patient autonomy but is concerned about relying on these principles to enact euthanasia or assisted suicide. Principles of autonomy demand full knowledge of risks and alternatives, and consent must be free of coercion, duress or undue influence.

An absolute guarantee that those who choose assisted dying are doing it voluntarily would be extremely difficult to establish in legislation and ensure in practice. Doctors are often not in a position to detect subtle coercion – as is also the case when trying to identify signs of emotional or financial abuse of elders more generally. Coercion also extends to assumptions of being a burden, giving rise to a sense of an “obligation” to die.

Given the gravity of the risk involved for individuals where autonomy is claimed but cannot be guaranteed, the belief that autonomy should trump all should be viewed with caution. . . 

 

I gave doctors permission not to keep trying to save the life of our first son and seven years later asked them not to call the crash team when our second son stopped breathing.

Both had degenerative brain disorders and any treatment would have only prolonged their suffering and postponed their inevitable deaths.

If I faced the same decisions in the same circumstances I’d do the same thing.

That isn’t euthanasia though.

It’s also very different from an adult in full control of their minds who requests the right to die and I understand how the fear of  what might be ahead could lead someone to that decision.

But legalising euthanasia isn’t only about fully competent individuals who want the right to control their lives and deaths.

It’s also about others who might feel pressured to choose a premature end or who might forgo high quality palliative care for fear euthanasia will be an inevitable consequence.

And it’s about medical professionals and what it asks of them too.

In abridging the article from which I’ve quoted, I missed a paragraph on surveys carried out in Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Each survey showed while roughly 30% of doctors agree “in principle” with the concept of assisted dying only 10% would feel comfortable in participating.

That’s what is often missed in the debate. It’s not just about the right to die and the patients, it’s also about the right to kill and the doctors.

P.S.

There’s an assisted suicide table-talk in Auckland tonight:

Broadcaster and comedian Jeremy Elwood hosts the Ika-Spinoff.co.nz current affairs cabaret, Table Talk, on the subject of Assisted Suicide. Join panelists David Seymour MP, promoter of the End-of-Life Choice Bill; Dr Jan Crosthwaite, University of Auckland Proctor and formerly Department of Philosophy; and Dr Stephen Child, Chair of the NZ Medical Association for a free-ranging discussion of a topic that defies politics.

Enjoy the full & delicious Ika menu, join a table or book for a group. Doors open and bar and dinner service from 5.30 pm, the discussion will start at 7.30 pm.

Follow the discussion on the TheSpinoff.co.nz

WHEN
August 30, 2016 at 5:30pm – 10:30pm

WHERE

Ika Seafood Bar and Grill
3 Mt Eden Rd
Auckland 1023


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