Monday, June 18, 2018

Maybe it happened in your lifetime...

On 29 May 1953, 3 years before I was born and 65 years earlier than 2018, New Zealand’s Edmund Hillary (b 1919, d 2008) and his mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, climbed to the top of Mt Everest. They were the first men in the world to do this, and set a record that many others would attempt to break. He was knighted in 1953. Later, 20 January 1957, Hillary was one of New Zealand's main presence in Antarctica, and helped to establish the Scott Base.  Returning back there in 1967, he was one of a group who climbed Mt Hershel  (3,335 metres) for the first time. 

In 1958 the Wairakei Power Station was commissioned. It was New Zealand's first geothermal power station, and only the second large-scale geothermal power station in the world. The NZ National Film Unit had a pictorial of Wairakei (2:32 into the film) and other power stations built at the same time, at Mercer and the Atiamuri man-made lake. I used to work as a payroll officer in 1973, going each week to pay out in cash at eight Waikato River dams: Aratiatia (1964), Ohakuri (1961), Atiamuri (1958), Whakamaru (1949), Maraetai (1953), Waipapa (1961), Arapuni (1929, first built) and Karapiro (1948, closest to Hamilton where I lived and worked, was built second). 

From July 9-10 1958 an earthquake in Alaska in Lituya Bay triggered the largest megatsunami on record. The wave washed 525 meters (1722 feet) up a mountain, and yet only five people were killed – three people who were standing on a beach which was subsided 100 metres under sea level, and two others who died on their boat in Lituya Bay. The University of Alaskan Fairbanks said:

Neil Davis, a Fairbanks author, geophysicist, and emeritus professor at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, flew over Lituya Bay in a Super Cub two days after the earthquake. ‘When I got there, it was a truly amazing sight,’ Davis said. ‘The bay was filled with icebergs and trees, and there was a tongue of trees and ice going out to sea outside the bay.’”

The Auckland Harbour Bridge, 1020 meters (3,348 feet) in length, was opened on 30 May 1959, after four years of construction. It started with only four lanes, but that was very quickly discovered to be not wide enough. The “add-ons” (Nippon clip-ons) were done in 1969, but 15 years later were found with fatigue in the joints. They had to be replaced. Toll charges were paid on the bridge until 1984, but were removed then. This bridge is still a main road from Auckland CBD to the north side.
Pic: By Archives New Zealand from New Zealand - Auckland Harbour Bridge, CC BY-SA 2.0,  

On 14 July 1960 Jane Goodall, with her mother (because the British authorities “were so shocked at the thought of a young girl going to live with animals in the jungle”), went to Gombe Stream National Park. Goodall “devoted her life to living among the chimps” and “stud[ied] them in their natural environment”, as the biography website said, and found out some very interesting information about the chimps:
  • chimpanzees used tools, challenging the belief that only humans used tools (when Jane's research mentor Professor Louis Leakey received an excited telegram from Jane describing her discoveries he made his infamous response: "Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.")
  • they have close relationships within groups of chimps, sometimes marked by sharing food and primate grooming
  • relationships between a mother chimpanzee and her children
  • war against local rivals
  • losing their conservation may leave them homeless.

Goodall had spent nearly 50 years working with the chimpanzees until, in 2003, Queen Elizabeth II named Dr Goodall a Dame of the British Empire. 

What happened on 13 August 1961, when I was only 5 years old, saddened me. East Germany began constructing the Berlin Wall, and soldiers stood in front of the construction on East German territory with orders to shoot anyone who attempted to defect. I have met people over my life who were in Berlin when it was built, and others who were in Berlin when it was demolished 28 years later on 9 November 1989. I celebrated – East Berliners were now part of the German democracy! Pink Floyd’s lovely The Division Bell has a song, A Great Day for Freedom which I have always seen as their celebration of the Berlin wall demolition. There are other songs listed on the First Post website, and a history about the wall on the History website. 

Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was published on Sep 27 1962. In June excerpts were published in New Yorker magazine, and President Kennedy read some of it. Carson was a marine biologist and a scientist who cites evidence for her claims. Carson’s website said:  Silent Spring began with a ‘fable for tomorrow’ – a true story using a composite of examples drawn from many real communities where the use of DDT had caused damage to wildlife, birds, bees, agricultural animals, domestic pets, and even humans.” A storm of protest and hyperbole rose from chemical companies, including Monsanto, and a few scientists friendly with the chemical industry. This gave her book more publicity and stimulated the environmentalist movement.

In May 1961, South Africa had left the British Commonwealth and became entirely independent, but their apartheid had worked for years before that.  On 12 Jun 1964, Nelson Mandela and seven others were sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Robben Island prison by the South Africa government. Mandela was not a criminal, yet the South African apartheid (Afrikaan word used since 1929) still worked then. It had officially started in 1948, until 1990 when the South African government finally let Mandela out. Their apartheid was abolished in mid-1991. Mandela, born in 1918, anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist who became President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, died on 5 December 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

I hope these interest you, because they are world events, whether or not in your lifetime. Maybe I will continue this on my next post.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Heavy life

In August 1945 nuclear bombs were released in Nagasaki and Hiroshima to end the war between USA and Japan. I was born in 1956, and in New Zealand this did not affect us, although newspaper reported on what happened from the USA side. A paper I’m doing wrote about others which happened while I was alive:

1957 – The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite
1963 – The assassination of President John F. Kennedy
1969 – The Moonlanding
1970s –Watergate – the scandal that brought down US President Richard Nixon
1974 – Nixon resigns
1985 – Live Aid
1989 – Fall of the Berlin Wall
1997 – Death of Princess Diana
2001 – 9/11

Every one of these leapt in my memory, and yet I have many other memories world-wide. Do you remember any of these? 

1969, Charles Manson Murders 

“I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.” Charles Manson 

I read a book, “Helter Skelter”, on Charles Manson’s ‘family’ and the murders they committed. It was published in 2001, but the tragedies happened in the end of the 1960s, and I had lived through the newspaper articles and television programmes about these. Manson convinced his cult to murder, and they killed 9 people over the next 5 weeks. The worst event was murdering pregnant Sharon Tate, an actress, and four friends at her home. That was, for me, a change of the ‘hippie-peace-love’ era. Manson was too much like Hitler, and his cross tattoo on his forehead was turned into a swastika.

The ABC article, in November last year about Manson dying, said “Those ‘kids’ - young people drifting along without purpose - were cleverly brainwashed by Manson who zeroed in on their weaknesses.” 

“Every massacre starts with the tongue.” Bryant McGill 


Bugliosi, V & Gentry, C 2001, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, WW Norton & Co USA 

1974, Patty Hearst: Stockholm Syndrome? 

“For me, my awakening came when I was kidnapped.” Patty Hearst

At the age of 19, Hearst – an heiress of the wealthy William Randolph Hearst, creator of Hearst Communications – was kidnapped in 1974 by the domestic ‘army’, the SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army). The CNN stories on television and Patty Hearst’s story in a book are very different, yet Hearst still says that she had been ‘brainwashed’ to follow the SLA. She was pictured with a weapon, and again with a weapon inside a bank which she helped to rob.

In the article from, she said “It’s no secret that I was abducted, raped, and tortured at 19”, and yet SLA members in court said “she was a willing convert with contacts with the organisation well before her disappearance.” What do you think?

Jeff Toobin was a journalist, and wrote about Patty Hearst – what he said was a ‘tribute’ to her - yet Hearst is very much against it. This book is reviewed on the Slate website. Maybe I need to read that book too. 

“You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” Jim Collins 


Toobin, J 2016, American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, Doubleday NY 

1978, Jonestown massacre 

“Children, it will not hurt if you'll be quiet.” Jim Jones

40 years ago, in November 1978, I was to celebrate my 22nd birthday. Jim Jones had turned away from the church he had followed, and lead nearly 900 people to his ‘town’ in Guyana, in the South America jungle. He wanted them to follow his own religion, the People’s Temple. Guin (2017) said that Jones “was able to attract and maintain loyalty … convinc[ing] his followers that he was the only one who could solve problems and create a better life.”

His religion became seriously wrong; Jones appointed his own cartel, who watched his own back. Guin (2017) said that Jones built up a paranoia about the USA FBI and CIA. At Jones demand, most of the people there killed themselves – and their children. It became “the largest single loss of American civilian life” until 2011 (, 2017). wrote about Jones, and the book which Guin had written. The book was printed in USA and released in Australia last year. This debacle had thrown me 40 years ago. Now I think I need to read that book. 

“The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” Friedrich Nietzsche 


Guin, J 2017, The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, Simon & Schuster, NY 

Ramsey, J. E. 1994, Feature & magazine article writing. Madison, Wisconsin: WCB Brown & Benchmark. Ch. 2. "ldeas and research: finding inspiration, gathering  information", pp. 22-32 

1983, Waco Massacre, Texas USA 

“You’re a bitch because you don’t want to make babies for God!” David Koresh 

David Koresh, born Vernon Howell, took many followers of Davidian, a break-off from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, to the top of a hill in Texas which they renamed Mt Carmel, after the bible-referred mountain in Israel. They waited for a second-coming of Jesus Christ. Koresh told his followers that God had told him to “pro-create” with the women, and to form an “Army for God” with the men. However, he was reported by exiles of abusing children and raping underage girls. remembered this 20 years later in 2003. According to the article, “Allegations surfaced that Koresh was stockpiling illegal weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition, as well as operating a methamphetamine laboratory.” The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) intended to charge Koresh and his cult on illegal arms, and Koresh and his supporters fought what he called the “war”. It took seven weeks for the ATF and FBI to finally get inside, but 76 people, including 17 children, “were either buried alive by rubble, suffocated by the effects of the fire, or shot.” 

“The Waco Siege: An American Tragedy” was written by Jack Rosewood and Dwayne Walker and published in 2015. Perhaps it’s a good book to read to remind yourself of what happens. 

“You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” Davy Crocket 


Rosewood, J & Walker, D 2015, The Waco Siege: An American Tragedy, Wiq Media

These four were in USA, yet there are many, many more all around the globe: like the 1972 Munich massacre of 11 of the Israeli team by Palestine group Black September; or Victoria, Australia, the 1987 Queen Street massacre with 9 people killed by Frank Vitkovic; or the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in China, where students protested and so many died – yet numbers range from around 150 up to 10,000; or the Aramoana massacre in New Zealand where David Gray killed 13 people.

Is this just part of our lives? How do we live with everything we know about – and remember? What do they mean?

Do you know?




Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Women in politics

The Conversation posted an article on the website and on Facebook recently, titled “The Liberals have a serious women problem – and it’s time they took action to change it”. This subject stirred heaps of trolls who didn’t like what The Conversation said about women – even though it was true! 

Some commenters on the FB claimed that there was no discrimination, that women were nestled righteously in their kitchens. Others , like MF, abused me about my comments about his misogynist comments. I wrote back to him:

… your comments are ridiculous. Do you actually understand what "misogynism" is? I quote (and I won't tell you where it's from, see if you can find it yourself): "A man or a woman can exhibit misogynism, though it's more commonly seen in men or in male-dominated industries or governments." I did not misunderstood your comment(s), I answered them. Maybe YOU should read what I wrote. Julia Gillard did NOT "play a victim". The misogynism was used by Abbott and his hope-to-be-voted party. Have you ever seen anything that Abbott - and yes, women, like Bishop - promoted? Did you agree with when they had on a poster which Abbott and Bishop and other LNPers were? Is that considered anything bad? Oh, possibly not by you. Have a look through this article for abusive comments about her. Have a look through this article - who's making the money selling that? Julia Gillard was one of the best PMs - and you should already understand that women have being running their countries throughout this globe for decades. Unfortunately, Australia has only ever - very recently - had ONE woman PM and ONE woman Governor General. Sad.

The quote that I said I wouldn’t have provided where I got it from came from a dictionary on-line. Have a look if you need to. “A man or a woman can exhibit misogynism, though it's more commonly seen in men or in male-dominated industries or governments.” Yes, it is. 

I sure hope that any readers of this will know some of the history about women in government. Just to re-enable common sense, here’s some history:
Read the transcript of Gillard’s speech. Read it! If you are a woman, this will make sense. If you are a man who accepts women in equality then you will understand it.

This post is just about politics, and yet women haven’t ‘changed’ more in politics. Why do we need to change? Why do we need to ‘fight’? Why can’t we behave respectfully, politely and equal? Are we supposed to behave like too many men – especially in politics – who don’t care of respectfulness, who never are polite, who just don’t believe we are equal?

I have watched Turnbull yell at Shorten. Shorten doesn’t seem to respond the same way. Turnbull makes a joke out of anything he doesn’t like – which seems to be far too much, and yes, it was Julia Gillard as the PM back then. Shorten has developed a wonderful way he can attack the future election – speak to the people, not at them. ALP has more women than LNP, and LNP doesn’t care that they don’t respect women. APH has an article which lays out the gender composition in parliament, but that was 2016: ALP 44% of women, Liberal 21% and National only 14%.

This is 2018. How much longer will women have to wait for men to respect us, be polite to us, believe that we are equal – without writing some disgusting responses to us in Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media they follow?

We probably should stop fighting, but every time a man abuses us / me / her, I will fight. I don’t want to win, I just want to be equal.

With everyone.