Thursday, February 14, 2013

Texas wants to be the real 'lone star state.'

I read with interest a report that said that some of the populace in Texas wish to leave the USA and go it alone. That they are the 15th biggest economy in the world speaks heaps for such a desire; they could actually do it. Apparently there has always been a move in Texas (and in other states) to do just that, but it has always been a small minority of Texans who wish to follow through.
I have often wondered at why more states don’t have movements to leave the Union, but not quite so stridently as Texas. There seems to be a move in many countries to ‘fragment;’ from Spain, to The Russian Federation and possibly regions within China. If we looked hard enough, I guess it wouldn’t be hard to find other examples of regions wishing to break away from the ‘mother state.’
I wonder if there is any such move in New Zealand. The only area I can think that would lean that way is the inland area around the East Coast. They after all never bowed down to the Crown in our struggles here.
West Australia would be the most logical state in Australia to have such ambitions and they have the wealth to manage such a transition, but in all cases, I doubt that the aspirations of the few would become a reality for the many.
What then will happen in Texas? I guess things will carry ion as per normal. I cannot see the USA fragmenting any time soon, but who knows what ‘conditions’  and events will turn the dribble into a flood? The process of ‘nation making’ has always been and always will be a continuing force in our future.

Facebook---is it allowing too much 'unreal' communication?

Facebook is part of the lives for a huge number of people worldwide. It has allowed many people to communicate in an instant throughout the day (and night!) and probably been instrumental in millions of real time liaisons, often resulting in permanent relationships. It is loved by most and has opened the ‘doors’ of communication to a vast number of people who may have normally remained lonely, isolated and friendless. Yes, Facebook has a great deal going for it.
It has its downsides too. Many of the so-called ‘friendships’ are shallow, unreal and possibly dangerous. Communicating with someone you have never met can have its issues; namely distance, possible misinformation, criminal activity, ‘grooming’ and downright misrepresentation of character and identity. That is just a short list.
Those issues have always been with us but Facebook allows for a far greater participation in social interaction for a huge number of people. Facebook often changes the way it runs and its rules. If a person is not up with the play, they can be left ‘exposed’ to the surveillance of countless millions of people they do not know, in any sense of the word. Hence, it could be said that Facebook is potentially a dangerous space for the na├»ve, young and not so young. Trust is a word, not a reality for many users.
For those of us who work with young people, we know that Facebook is an integral part of their lives. We see their ups and downs; the dangers, the sadness and anger when things go wrong. In its extreme, it can be life threatening as young people grapple with their own problems, issues and life journeys. Parents are often totally unaware of the actions and activities of their children online; not just with Facebook of course.
Facebook can be all consuming; taking young people out of their reality and interrupting other important tasks, including education, participation in other ‘healthier activities and risking the formation of real time and place friendships. Tell any teenager that and they will vehemently disagree with you, conveniently forgetting that they may well have been the ‘butt’ of a cruel ‘gossip circle’ in the past week.
Those working with young people are themselves barely able to keep up with social media developments; Facebook just being one of them. We should all assume that the kids are way ahead of us in such matters. Thereon lays a danger. We as adults, parents and caregivers are not up with the play for the most part. Below the surface of the young peoples’ behaviours there is often a whole lot going on that we have no idea about. Facebook may be the ‘header,’ but the machinations will be totally hidden, leaving us thinking that the sullen mood is ‘just one of those things’ that teenagers go through.
Leaving things alone and doing nothing is no longer an option. We must become more familiar with the good and the less good of Facebook and others (yet to come!) social media platforms. We indeed have our work cut out for us. One thing we can do is be open to communication with our ‘charges,’ be we parents, teachers, counsellors or anyone else with a stake in the future of our young people.

Will we be able to swim on the 'new' beaches at the Onehunga Foreshore project?

The Manukau Harbour has been seen as the ‘poor sister,’ to its busy and dazzling counterpart on the other side of the Auckland Isthmus. This has not always been so however as in its early development the Manukau represented a ‘faster and more direct’ journey across the Tasman Sea to Australia. It was only after ships became too big to navigate the treacherous Manukau entrance that Onehunga became left behind on some sort of time warp.
The same could be said for the recreational use of the Manukau. In the early days of settlement, it was possible to see ladies dressed in their fashionable bathing costumes alighting from horse-drawn changing carriages and the ‘bay’ was quite the picnic spot.
Then came the pollution; some from badly run industrial sites and of course the terrible sewerage ponds and plant near the once beautiful Puketutu Island. One would never consider swimming amongst such filth then and even more so once the bay became disconnected and landlocked because of the new motorway.
The ‘bay’ as some of you will know is one of my favourite places (when the tide is in) for walking my beloved Jack Russell, although ‘walking’ is a bit tame to describe her manic rushing about and playing with her best friends (Doggies of course). The ‘bay’ is one of the few places where we can let our dogs loose.
Things are about to change. Maybe, we will be able to swim again, once the new beaches have been constructed on the other side of the motorway. Perhaps our dogs won’t be welcome during Summer time daylight hours, but everything is really moving along and in a few years we will be able to enjoy the ‘fingers of fill that are thrusting out into the bay. If only we could be sure that the new beaches will be clean enough; that is the question.
I have begun to swim at an off the leash area next to Waikowhai Bay, about three bays around from Onehunga. The only problem is the ‘hike’ back up to the upper car park after a swim. That sort of negates the idea of having a refreshing swim. However, the water felt and looked clean and my enquiries resulted in advice that the Manukau is fine for swimming so long as one does not do so after heavy rain. Is that not the same over the Isthmus, on the ‘sparling Waters there?
Let’s hope that things will be great for the new development and that once again, Onehunga can assume a position it so richly deserves.