The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Friday, December 31, 2004

how do you find the time?

Just been a good little blogger, counting up my posts and comments for DPF's December stats *pats self on back, avoiding sunburn*

I thought, my I've been good this month, but then I checked the November stats and in fact I've done slightly less posts and had slightly less comments. Not a big surprise, given the season, but it leads me to wonder - how do you super uber mega bloggers find the time?

I can't blog at work (although I do read them and comment occassionally from there) so have to save it up for home time. And I do have another internet addiction that I have to feed as well - I expect that will drop off in favour of blogging by winter. Sure I have real life stuff as well, but I just cannot imagine a time when I could possibly get anywhere near 100 posts in a month.

So come on, spill - how do you guys do it?

Clarion Tour - blog

Further to my post giving a sneak preview of the Young Labour Clarion tour, those crazy kids also have their own blog, with pics and quicktime video.

You can find it at

They are in Welly tonight, and I believe will be giving out condoms to the revellers...

Thursday, December 30, 2004


To be honest I'm a coward. I've been avoiding a lot of this news because it is just too heart breaking and I'm not able to cope with it right now. Probably a highly callous approach, but I'm getting plenty of info - pictures, stories, etc - just through osmosis it seems. To sit down and actively seek it out or watch it would just be too much.

One thing that has had me in tears every time I read it is the Herald's Tsunami Message Board. So far I haven't recognised any names, but it is still very emotional - each name represents someone missing, someone who their family and friends may never see again, someone who might have had another child, or fixed their broken relationship with their dad, or made someone else very happy. People who were on their honeymoons, on their holidays, on business, visiting family, taking that trip of a lifetime. Every name is a story and a life, and all those people connected to them through the most prosaic links and the most bizarre ways imaginably.

Then there are the millions and millions of locals whose lives will never be the same. The effects of this event will go on for years to come and for so many of those people who had so little to start with... well as I already said, it's more than I can really bear to think about.

Meanwhile someone has set up a blog on the tsunami at - I haven't had a good look at it yet, but it seems to be examining what could have been done to prevent the huge devastation being wrecked. I'm not sure that you can do much really, although there are always lessons to be learnt.

And, as so many others have already blogged, please make an automatic $20 donation to the Red Cross by calling 0900 31 100. Every little bit really will count.

Update: You can also donate directly to the Red Cross Asian Tsunami Appeal using their excellent online donation facility. This will avoid Red Cross having to pay Telecom 70c for each 0900 call made. Bad Telecom!!

when you really really don't want to go to sleep...

you find the oddest ways to procrastinate.

My current jag is googling the Names Of People I Used To Know. Kind of the stalker version of an ego-search. I'm not going to do anything with the information except muse over it - I just often get a curious itch about how people turned out and tonight I would much rather scratch that than go to sleep, an activity which invariably seems to finish off with waking up and getting up and going to work. And we all know that the three words at the end of that sentence must be avoided at all costs.

So what have I turned up?

Without naming names (I am the soul of discretion you see) we have, in no particular order:

- a part-owner of a now reasonably large ISP (and to think I remember when he broke his arm after some drunken table top dancing - guess it must have healed ok)
- a fellow blogger who is On A Break (from his blog, dear readers)
- an ice hockey player (who may have also be a top British water skiier, although that seems unlikely)
- a solo guitarist (now recording in Nashville after much travelling)
- a person of undiscoverable employ who appears to do a lot of long distance running (I guess someone must do all that long distance running, damned if I thought I knew any of those types myself though)
- a witness in a coroner's inquest (into the death of a young man in a famous building)
- a recipent of a PM's Scholarship for Architecture (although most of his hits were for sports related things, go figure)
- a top accordionist (pays the bills via her doctor's salary, no less)
- a biochemist (rapidly becoming an expert in atherosclerosis, don't you know)
- some kind of marketing account manager type (not a big surprise)
- a graduate of the DMA with a certificate in eMarketing (note: small e, big M)

The women are much harder to find than the men - I have few clues (i.e. none) about their married names, but some people just don't appear to have any kind of internet life at all - what the hell is wrong with them? One of these absences is highly surprising - a promising young actor when I knew him, he recently showed up in a Tegel ad, but I can't find him anywhere in the interweb thingy. Of course I could be spelling his name wrong.

and to round it off, for those who know him, I am sure this cannot be the only link on google for Paul Schiska. Another spelling mistake on my part, surely?

Alrighty, time for bed - you can only faff around for so long before your body rebels and starts falling asleep without you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

the office as desert

Our normally busy office is like the Sahara, and it's a long journey between drinks as those of us who are in are miles away from each other. There are only two of us in D Block (affectionately referred to as "The People's Republic of D Block" as there are no management in our neck of the woods), the others are spaced out throughout our floor, and the obligatory Person On Reception has been spending a bit of time lying on the couch, and fair enough too, it's not as if the phone is ringing off the hook.

I had visions of getting lots of work done. I had other visions of sliding around on the staff room lino in my socks. So far the reality has been a lot of procrastination all amounting to a whole heap of unfulfilling nothing. Not much work and absolutely no sock skating. It's hard to get motivated when no one around you is either.

I regularly have nightmares when I have work the next day, about my office and the people in it. I thought that the four days off over Xmas might reset my system, but alas the bizarre dreams returned last night. They usually involve some kind of altercation with my boss, something that doesn't happen in real life, but might if I continue to tell her things she doesn't want to hear. Luckily she's not back until February, and then I'll just be tidying up, finishing off and shipping out, as long as the next month goes according to plan.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to enjoy the desert more. I tried to get all my slacking off over and done with today so that I can motor through the work Thursday and Friday. Here's hoping that strategy pays off...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Over at Fighting Talk, Hamish has an astounding post about a friend caught up in the tsunami - go read it right now if you haven't already.

Monday, December 27, 2004

the first day of summer

Seems it was the first day of summer today.

And I was not a good little slip slop slapper. I got cocky. And now I am paying the price - how typically inept of me to get badly burnt the first time the sun shows its face, especially when it's so late. urgh.

My arms actually feel like they are radiating heat. To make it worse I somehow managed to get burnt in a very odd pattern which means I won't be wearing sleeveless or strapless tops until I can manage to get the white stripey bits nice and crispy as well.

Usually I get to laugh at The Man in the Comfy Chair's sunscreen ineptness, but this year he gets the first laugh. Bah humbug!

Clarion Tour - Sneak Preview

This is the view from my front door right now.

Tomorrow the Young Labour Clarion Tour hits the road. You may wonder why that's on here, and why the bus they are using is in my driveway. All I can say is that this is what happens when love doesn't discriminate ;-)

You can read more about the Clarion Tour in YL's media statement and it may well be coming to a town near you soon. While I won't be on it I've had some high points already, just from being on the margins. My favourite was when the loud speaker suddenly croaked out, in the middle of bible belt Mt Roskill and right next door to a church, "Hello Everybody This is God. Please Give All Your Money to Robert. Transmission Ends."

I hope the neighbours will still be talking to us tomorrow.

Friday, December 24, 2004


We had our last hurrah for work today - went to Canton Cafe in Kingsland for our regular Friday lunch, as we have so often over the last year. But this time was different - instead of all going back to work, or on to appointments, we went out separate ways after paying the bill and loafing around for a few minutes.

For some strange reason it felt like I was never going to see these people again.

About half of those who were at lunch will be back at work, along with me, on Wednesday. The rest will return early in the new year.

But I just had this sudden sense of loss, something about a moment in time that had slipped away and couldn't be regained. I felt bereft.

When I got in the car they had just started playing the Jeff Buckley version of Halleluyah and as I drove off down New North Rd I had the sense I was in one of those telly shows that have used this song so much in 2004. That we were all driving off, to our very different families and our very different Xmases, listening to this song and singing along to the bits we knew, while the camera chopped and changed between shots of us all.

I fulfilled my character's stereotype by shedding a tear.

bit of a downer

What was with JPA's Xmas message on Nat Rad this morning? Full of the spirit of the season, I think not! "Life is short"

Pity it was the last one too - I missed the others.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

phone-in polls - a statistical plague on both our houses

According to Reinventing TVNZ GayNZ and others are incredibly concerned about the use of phone-in polls in news reporting. Fair enough - these have got to be amongst the most dubious news-creating devices out.

I just cannot believe that any journalist would base a news story on the results of a phone-in poll. They are statistically criminal for so many reasons it's hard to know where to start, but I'll try:

1. the sample is completely self-selected, ie there is no randomness that would mean you could meaningfully extrapolate - the poll ONLY represents the views of the exact people who rang in, NO ONE else.

2. multiple call-ins are not taken into account. Those who hit redial effectively get twice the say of those who only call once. What might be useful would be some analysis of how many voters on each side called multiple times - it might reveal that there was a minority who felt strongly enough to call many times, which would be interesting.

3. of course it is exclusive to people who own phones, without a toll bar, and can afford to call. And were watching Holmes, oops Close Up At 7, (or whatever) and thus knew about the poll.

Ok enough of this - check out the excellent cartoon from Ross at Dorking Labs for a good sum-up of it all.

one small question

What's the deal with Waikaraka Park? Can the Springs Speedway move there?

I'm actually of the "you moved there you're going to have to put up with it within reason" school myself, just curious.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

minimum wage to go up again - yay!

From March 21st 2005 adult minimum wage will be $9.50 (50c increase) and the youth minimum will go up to $7.40 (40c increase).

I wish they would bring the youth minimum up more, as a step towards getting rid of it all together, but I know that Labour isn't really interested in abolishing it. But this is good news overall :-)

a very camel christmas

I had an odd moment in a shop while looking listlessly at Xmas decorations tonight. I saw a little purple camel, designed to hang on your tree, and I thought "how bizarre - camels for Xmas!" I was thinking of the fantastic camel window display at Kirks too - how totally and utterly unconnected to the holiday season. Weirdos.

Except of course it's not. Camels are much more connected to the reason for the season than holly and red breasted robins and snow and candy canes, and even Santa Claus really.

But it just goes to show how the current popular norms around Xmas pervade even the mind of a cynic like myself. I can't help trying to treat my family and friends - I just want to see them smile and feel special, because they are. It's silly that I have to show this through gifts, especially as in recent years I've done quite a good deal of heartfelt (and very much meant) mushy cards, but every year I buy them stuff or make them things and hope that they'll all like whatever little thing I have angsted over.

I had a lovely day with my family on Sunday - we had Crimbo early as I will be away. It really is so much more rewarding when their are children involved, and my two little nieces didn't disappoint. We gave one of them a possum puppet, from the Maruia catalogue, and she immediately went around biting everyone with it and wanted to take it into the bath with her. She probably would have been as happy with a sock version, but in these days when we are so time poor, it's hard to find the time to make presents any more. I have struggled to just do my usual baking this year and have no idea when I'm actually going to deliver it to the recipients.

I miss my own family at Xmas when I'm away - The Man In The Comfy Chair makes up for their abscence a lot, but nothing can replace the smile and glee of those little rascals I call my nieces. It's not just the entertainment of watching them knock about the house, it's the open hearted way they approach everything, from wrapped parcel to new foodstuff to surprise guests. I wonder when I lost that sense of hope and optimism about the world, when I became just another consumer.

Why they'd even appreciate a camel for Xmas, whereas I would probably balk at the bad breath and the spitting. And wonder where I was going to put the damn thing. I guess the window display at Kirks might have some room come Boxing Day?

a little less blogging

Surprisingly busy - or at least I'm prioritising real life over cyber life right now. Between buying, making and wrapping Xmas pressies, sitting on the Hospice stall for a few shifts, job hunting, keeping up contact with friends, family and of course The Man In The Comfy Chair, I barely have time for work, let alone blogging.

But I'm not taking any hols beyond the stats, so I expect to be bored and blog more in a week or so. Bring on Chrimbo, so I can relax a little!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Selwyn - an interesting life (so far)

I was sitting at home with The Man in The Comfy Chair, about to watch the late TV3 news, and he comes out with a shocker - the 30 year old Grey Lynn resident who has been arrested for allegedly putting an axe through a window is in fact Tim Selwyn, aka Selwyn Abaford, a man who I have had some acquaintance with over the years.

My original encounters with Selwyn were during my first involvement in student politics - he was running against a friend of mine for the coveted post of Media Officer at AUSA. It was a close run thing, with Selwyn using the catchphrases "If you're a fuckwit I'll call you a fuckwit" and "I like icecream" but missing out in the end by about 60 votes - possibly due to his uncanny resemblance to a young Al Borland (Home Improvement character, for those of you who didn't have parents addicted to the damn show). He didn't help matters by frequently wearing flannel shirts.

Then he ran for the local body elections using the moniker Selwyn Abaford, under the premise that being at the top of the ballot would sweep him into power. Rumour has it he would have used Aardvark but thought that might be too obvious. He ran for several spots around Auckland, and found himself a member of the Glenfield Community Board because there were only enough nominations to fill the number of vacancies so no election was held. There was an issue around the legality of some of his nomination forms which DPF advises me not to discuss further while Selwyn is currently before the court.

Tim spent several months on the aforementioned Glenfield Community Board. Apparently there was a big problem with graffiti on the children's playgrounds and Selwyn suggested, with a straight face, that they electrify the playgrounds at night to eliminate this unsightly behaviour. He put forward a full proposal, including working out how much it would cost, what materials would be necessary, etc. Would have been priceless to see the faces of the other board members as they tried to work out how to rebuff this strangely compelling idea.

Next time I saw Selwyn was during the frenzy of portfolio elections at AUSA, and his mate Martyn Bradbury was running for Craccum editor. Selwyn came and leafleted for him, and tried to get students to take the pamphlets on the basis that they were "get out of jail free" cards. Quite a jolly time was had with the three of us leafleting side by side at the top of the stairs by the old fruit and nut hut (sadly now long gone).

Then there was the Craccum suicide article, a tale that Ben at Dog Biting Men should really tell the tale of as I'm sure he knows more about it than me. However I will just add that I thought the Herald's summation of the article in their recent Selwyn coverage was a bit inaccurate - my recollection was that Selwyn wasn't so much saying that suicide was a valid life choice, but that people who wanted to kill themselves were losers anyway and so no great loss to our society. During this fracas Selwyn was interviewed by Kim Hill on Nine to Noon, and won the distinguished honour of being the only person she has ever hung up on in a live interview.

Last time I saw Selwyn in the flesh was on the second Auckland Hikoi (my photos here - scroll down) which was a surprise. I thought maybe he was being ironic, as I remembered him being very right wing at Uni. Sounds like he's changed and it would be quite fascinating to find out how and why.

For more blogging on all this (largely about the nature of the charges) check out:
- DPF - Seditious Conspiracy (interesting that in Glenn's comment on this he doesn't mention that it was his mother's signature that Selwyn forged, and maybe his own IIRC)
- Neil Falloon and Media Cow - Sedation to Conspiracy
- Idiot/Savant - DPF on "seditious conspiracy"
- Kiwi Pundit - Seditious Conspiracy

Update: DPF has suggested in comments that I edit this post to avoid legal liability - I've made a few minor changes with reluctance. Also Whiggy has posted his thoughts on Mr Selwyn too:
- Whiggy - Sedition!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

what to say

Further to this post about marriage traditions now that we have the CUA...

If you were in a civil union and someone asked you if you were married, how would you reply?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

will the Maori Party be left III

Noticed today - Tariana Turia voting with National and Act against the Aquaculture Bills, which the Greens supported.

A few people I've spoken to who were quite pro-Maori Party are really concerned after Turia's vote against the CUB.

It all seems a bit incoherent, given their stance on tertiary ed. The policy announcements in February can't come a moment too soon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

speaker surprise

Just read on DPF's blog that Margaret Wilson is to be the next speaker. Quite surprised really - I had heard that Burton was the likely successor, although other sources were saying King.

The speculation about who will step up to Attorney General is interesting too - my money is on Dalziel - she is ready for rehabilitation and must be pushing for a return to favour.

I'm wondering if Wilson may be thinking of getting out of politics in 2008 - her health has been poor this year and she seems to achieved a lot of the things on her shopping list. Speaker could be her swan song. Having been a law lecturer I'm sure she will be able to control the House.

Or is Helen thinking of giving the Speakership to a coalition partner after the 2005 election? Anderton as Speaker anyone?

Monday, December 13, 2004


Over at Strikewatch Matt Oliver has blogged on Matt McCarten's column in the Herald on Sunday.

Unfortunately MM's column doesn't give the full story. In fact it doesn't even give half of it.

For most unions much of the '90s was taken up with debating the organising or servicing approaches which MM outlines as having recently occurred to him. Finsec and SFWU have been two unions that have deliberately adopted an organising approach in the last 5 years, although many unions have yet to make the leap. While some of the public sector unions will probably never move away from a servicing approach, many of the private sector ones have seen this as an important development that not only goes some way to addressing the crisis caused by the ECA, but also devolves power to members and gives them a chance to build meaningful strength. The CTU is a strong advocate for the organising model and in fact the CTU Traineeship (like an apprenticeship for union organisers) is focused around organising unionism.

MM seems to have finally caught up with much of the rest of the union movement with his "discovery".

In terms of the part of the article where MM refers to Sky City Auckland workers, that's where his train really starts to go off the truth track entirely. SFWU members have been organising themselves with help from union staff, for at least five years. They in fact have a density of at least 50% in Auckland (the 20% figure could only be true if MM was referring to the entire Sky City group, which includes several sites in Australia which are in fact organised by the SFWU's sister union the LHMU). SFWU members recently concluded bargaining for a CEA that saw a major improvements in the terms and conditions for members, in particular in regard to union rights after a major campaign on the site which included a strike overwhelmingly voted for by the members.

To make it worse MM's "professional association" at Sky has been peddling blatant lies about the SFWU, in particular that the SFWU would start charging non-members a bargaining fee on December 10th if they didn't join MM's union instead. Not only is this completely untrue it is also legally impossible - a ballot of the whole work site (members and non-members) is necessary before a bargaining fee can be charged, the employer must agree and it must be done in a very specific timeframe in relation to bargaining, which isn't going to come around again at Sky for nearly two years.

Unions that have been around a while know that when two (or more) unions fight over the membership at a site it is the workers who end up losing. Let us not forget Heinz Watties, where three unions fought over the membership, resulting in a massive loss in terms and conditions for those workers. Many were turned off unions altogether, whilst those who did join were scattered across EIGHT collectives. Not exactly building the union movement is it?

Mara to FATW "I vant to be alone"

Dear Mr FATW ("jarrod"),

We apologise for the delay in replying to your latest letter.

However this was unavoidable due to the nature of your correspondence and the fact that it has sent out client into hiding. Your actions have directly resulted in Mara fleeing town, in fear for her precious little kitten life.

We have been instructed to withdraw our defamation suit, as it is clear that in fact you are derranged and as such your statements to date may constitute "honest opinion". Mara does not have the deep pockets of a Bhatnagar which would be necessary to sustain such a suit, and, although deeply wounded by your untrue accusations, can no longer face the long and no doubt arduous court proceedings that would indubitably ensue from pursuing this matter further.

Instead Mara has instructed us to pursue a non-molestation order against yourself.

It is clear to us that you have developed an unhealthy fixation in relation to our client, including speculations, obviously designed to scare, of the location of the habitation of our client and her age, not to mention passing frequent comment in regard to her appearance.

Comments of this nature are entirely inappropriate and have had a devastating effect on the emotional wellbeing of our client. Once Mara was a cat in possession of a lustrous coat, soft to the touch but not so gentle as to fall out everywhere in an undignified manner. But today her fur has palled and patches have in fact been quite depilated by her new nervous habit of overgrooming. span(ner in the works) and The Man In The Comfy Chair have both noticed Mara's obvious and extreme discomfit when blogs are mentioned, as they frequently are in such an on-to-it household, and while they have supported her in here temporary annexation both fervently wish that you had never entered her life.

We now call on you to undertake a voluntary non-contact period, in advance of a compulsory one that we will seek through the appropriate channels, and ask that you maintain a 100km distance from our client at all times.

We have taken advice on what constitutes 100kms on the internet, and our experts have informed us that the appropriate measure would be for you to desist mentioning our client on your blog, in any manner, and to decline to comment on posts on other websites which refer to her. Confirmation that you intend to uphold this honourable course of action would clearly be exempted from this rule, as it would serve to soothe Mara, rather than create further distress.

Ms I Robb and Mr A Cheat
Lawyers to the Famous and Innocent

PS In regard to your claim that span(ner in the works) has in some way admitted guilt vis a vis your original spurious accusation, we seriously doubt you can prove in any way shape or form the true author of that posting, and in fact if you could you would never have brought it up at all.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

marriage traditions - where to from here?

Now that civil unions are an option for couples wanting to celebrate and register their commitment, I wonder what will happen with the traditional marriage bits and pieces, such as:

Woman changes last name to man's
I suspect most people who get civil unions, regardless of sexuality, will keep their own names. It has been startling to me though, in talking to women getting married, that very very few are keeping their names. Many proclaim themselves to be in great anticipation of being Mrs X instead of Miss/Ms Y. Personally I find that hard to identify with - my name is my name, I don't see why going through a ceremony of commitment with my partner should change that. I don't lecture them about their choice, I'm just glad we have one these days, but I do find it a bit odd. No doubt they think me odd too.

People say "think of the children" - well heaps of children have different surnames to one or tuther of their parents, to their siblings, to other members of their families. I think there are much bigger things that affect the mental, emotion and physical health of our children than whether everyone in their immediate family has the same last name.

Woman's family pays for wedding
Lots of couples seem to pay for their own celebrations these days, or hit up both families. But even so a lot of women's families seem to feel obliged to pay for the shindig, alone. With this comes a certain amount of control as well - guest list, nature of the event, location, food, you name it, the woman's family often wants either a say or to make the decision entirely. I think we need to shift to a perspective that sees money donated by families to couples as a gift, not a purchase of certain rights. It should be up to the couple what they want to do on their day, not decided by family committee.

The terms husband and wife
Wife certainly has negative connotations (especially when my-least- favourite-derivative-of-any-word-ever, "wifey", is used in its place) to do with staying at home, keeping yourself nice, and ironing, at least to my feminist mind. Personally I prefer partner. Partly because it keeps people guessing about whether my partner will turn out to be a man or a woman, heh heh. But largely because it simply doesn't have the baggage.

Woman being "given away"
Lots of brides these days seem to be "walked" by their fathers, or mothers, or both, or some other person entirely, rather than "given away". So the old way has already started to fall away, but I firmly hope that the advent of civil unions deliver the final kick to topple this patronising tradition. Unless of course the person being walked is too blitzed to walk at all, in which case it is just a practical consideration that someone prop them up (although there would be issues about consent, but as we used to say in Crim 201 - drunken intent is still intent ;-) )

Overall I predict, and fervently hope, that civil unions will start to break down these archaic approaches to cementing your relationship. Those "alternative lifestylers" will infect us all with their carefree attitudes and some day I wish that my children can happily celebrate their commitment (not to each other of course) without the tags and baggage that have dogged marriage for so long. I intend to put dosh aside from the day they are born, and then when they announce their impending commitment ceremony, of whatever brand, will give them the sum to spend on it as they wish. Honest.

Let's look forward to at time when marriage loses the last of its property transaction trimmings!

that blog not abandoned

Reading the Maps is up and going again - in fact it has been for a little while but I'd almost given up hope so only just noticed.

Good to see them blogging again :-)

time to party!

Off to the Auckland Campaign for Civil Unions party tonight - wohoooooooo!

No matter what I wear I can be assured that there will be a man there, in drag, who does it better. Sigh.

what if we really cared II

Further to this post, there is an interesting story on Stuff about a caregiver who is paid less now than she was when she worked in a condom factory 8 years ago.

Talking again yesterday to my friend who is working on the campaign apparently many caregivers are paid less than they were in the 80s. Not just in real terms but in actual dollars and cents. Disgraceful.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

why do people get married?

Fi over at Only My Perspective has posed an interesting question about marriage, civil unions and commitment. I think you should go read it.

"wasn't going to go anyway"

So Brash isn't going to the upper marae unless Pakeha media are allowed to (because we all know that nothing happens if there isn't a television camera to capture it).

As far as I'm aware he hasn't actually been invited to the upper marae (yet) and it is invitation only.

Great strategy though I must say.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

simply more right than left

Sagenz has done an interesting analysis of DPF's monthly blog stats for November, which the originator himself has also blogged on.

It seems to me that there are simply more committed bloggers on the right than the left.

Although there has been a spurt of lefties joining the blogosphere in recent months, the long-termers are almost all rightwingers - us socialists (and social democrats) have been a bit slow off the mark with the blog-phenomenon, with the notable exception of Just Left.

It takes time to build up a blog - time to start posting regularly and get into the habit of it. I posted all of about seven times the first six weeks I had a blog, but now I am well up in the Heavy Bloggers category (doing my diet no good, no doubt).

Maybe blogs are like small businesses - most fail in the first few months. Of the ones that make it a few soar into the stratosphere but the majority just plod along, making small incremental improvements (much like the Labour-led Government).

In terms of the comments issue - I do find blogs without comments irritating. While it does encourage other bloggers to reply through posts on their own blogs, I am too lazy, so you have all missed out on those witty little replies that I would have forgotten by the time my dial-up brings up the new post page (trust me, they were gems, gems I tell you!).

So to those without comments, please consider letting us into your conversations - dialogue is much more surprising when you aren't just talking to yourself.

Update: Joe Hendren has expanded on his comment here.

what will you do if the CUB passes this week?

Poll up on the Alliance website here.

what if we really cared?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the situation our caregivers face.

A friend of mine is doing a lot of work on a campaign around the absolutely shocking pay and conditions caregivers face - many are on minimum wage, or not a lot more, there is virtually no pay scale (meaning within two or three years you are at the top of the scale and can never go any higher), and understaffing is chronic.

These are the workers who look after the most vulnerable in our society - the sick, the old, the mentally and physically disabled. They empty bedpans, give people bed baths (not as nice as you might imagine, especially for the washer), spoon food into mouths and care when families can't (or don't). They work in rest homes, unit houses and private homes. They are mostly women, often Polynesian or new migrants, and some of them work two jobs to make ends meet.

Caregivers are so invisible in our society, yet what they do is so very important. Why don't we care more about the people who do this work?

There is some quote about how you should judge a nation by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. How we treat the few who care for those people must surely be a strong indicator of just how much we care fullstop.

Monday, December 06, 2004

becoming a betrayer

Apparently I am now a betrayer. I managed this transition back in February, but I've only just found out about my change in status. I'm sure that I was probably only a turncoat for the first few months, but recent months have resulted in my label being upgraded to full-on traitor.

It's all a bit emotive and silly really - it reminds me strongly of student politics. I guess I just thought that adults would actually be adult about things!

where is the dosh coming from?

The Progs have a big billboard at the top of Sandringham Rd, advertising their student loans policy. They have also recently had some big ads in newspapers. None of these have had parliamentary crests on them. Where is the moolah coming from??

Sunday, December 05, 2004

when work xmas parties get dull..

...those left start playing silly word games.

Like replacing the words "love" or "heart" with "dick" in song titles. Some examples:

- Dick You Like I Should
- Dick Makes the World Go Round (my nomination for a good song for the hopefully inevitable CUB Victory parties)
- Achey Breaky Dick
- Dick Don't Cost a Thing
- Dick Me Tender (Dick Me True)
- Dick is a Wonderful Thing
- All you need is Dick
- The Greatest Dick of All (Is Happening to Me)
- Silly Dick Songs
- I Would Do Anything For Dick (But I Won't Do That)

When we got bored we moved onto bad wedding aisle songs (something I have a little expertise in). Like:

- Two Out of Three Ain't Bad
- Highway to Hell
- Smack My Bitch Up
- Come On Eileen
- God Only Knows (a beautiful song - only nominated due to the first line which is "I may not always love you...")
- Should I Stay or Should I Go Now
- Who Let The Dogs Out
- Another One Bites the Dust

My favourite is that Bowie song, I can never remember the title, that goes:
It's a god awful sad affair
For the girl with the mousy hair
For her father has told her no
But her mother has told her to go

Thank goodness for the underlying hysteria inherent in work social functions.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

for those who live in the wrong place

(ie not in Auckers)

Here is a link to a really rather good cartoon in the Herald, which quite sums up just how Brash looks now, after his Civil Union flip-flop...


the right is not immune

Interesting post by Whiggy about the tensions within Act.

It's often protrayed that only the left have these kinds of problems, but clearly this is not the case and the conflict is much deeper than the titbits we get in the media.

The talk about expulsions is particularly worrying. We've been through two splits in the Alliance and no one has been actually expelled (although I believe this used to happen in the 1990s, before I was involved). Expulsions tend to indicate actions or activities considered traitorous by the bulk of the membership, but in my memory nothing of that nature has surfaced in the media in regard to Act. I wonder if Whiggy would care to expand?

Friday, December 03, 2004

Mara needs a lie down

drunk again?

if you're in Welly...

get along to the very interesting On The Street exhibition at Te Papa. The conference attached to it is on this weekend, and I have to put in a plug for the wonderful Grace Millar's talk on how and why abortion became such a big issue in the '70s. (Go Grace!)

What was intriguing though was the lack of industrial history in the exhibition. I managed to go through it very quickly on Sunday night, and didn't get right to the end, but others have noticed this too. Wonder why?

it's all relative

There's been some speculation lately, on some nz blogs that I am too lazy to link here (might come back and do it if I get a chance), about the youth wing of United Future. Thanks to Google, I managed to find this link to their site which doesn't give much info about actual people or members. There doesn't appear to be a link to it from the UF homepage at all (the Party site or the Parliamentary site).

But for kooky nz youth wings you really have to check out Y4NZ, the young of the Christian Heritage Party.

I remember having a good look before the last general election, when I had lots of spare time, and recognising a few fundie christian foes from my days as a student politico. Their strong link to Student Choice, a pro-VSM group, is clear, given that Glenn Peoples and the Flanagans are prominently involved, and of course they are pretty into SOUL (the youth wing of SPUC) as well. Their "Debate Us" forum has had some genuinely scary arguments on it in the past, not sure how it is these days, although they do remove "blasphemy and abuse". I wonder if they still post pictures of aborted foetuses?

PS people in glass houses etc, but at least most of the Staunch contacts listed on the Alliance website are actually still around and contactable. I'm hoping to update it v soon as we do have some new people to add.

notice anything interesting about this group of people?

Taito Philip Field, John Tamihere, Clayton Cosgrove, Damien O'Connor, Ross Robertson, Harry Duynhoven

All Labour MPs,

all in safe electorates (maybe not Tamihere),

all voted against the CUB,

all moral conservatives,


all men.

I know there are women who voted against the CUB too, but it is quite telling that in Labour it is only men who have tried to vote it down.

It's a generalisation I know, but in my experience women seem to be more able to empathise with the situation of minorities, whether they are in that minority or not.

another surprise (pleasant)

Clem Simich - who knew there was a man with a strong commitment to social justice behind that fusty exterior?

His comments in the Herald about why he supports the CUB, as a Catholic, reminded me of everything good about Catholicism. After 6 years at a Catholic girls' school I never thought I would feel warmly about Mother Church again, but tonight I do. It probably won't last.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

when MPs surprise you

The CUB vote, due tomorrow, has thrown up some odd results - MPs voting in ways strange and divers. Of particular note:

Don Brash - he said he would vote for it "on principle" but now his principles have either changed or gone on holiday. As Jordan has pointed out, this is the second flip-flop in quick succession, and doesn't bode well for leadership skills and aspirations (unless you are Bill English). No Right Turn is also disappointed, whilst DPF has been silent so far...

Ashraf Choudray - wohooo he's in favour! I'm stoked, and I emailed to tell him so.

Some of the Act MPs (Coddington in particular) - individual freedom anyone? Nigel has an interesting insight into the thinking of Muriel Newman in particular, and confirms that Heather Roy is in fact voting in favour and the Herald was wrong.

Tariana Turia - but then I already blogged about that.

Pansy Wong - wasn't she seen boogeying on down at that (probably vain) attempt to get some pink votes that the Nats held earlier this year in Auckers?

Lockwood Smith - the rumours about Lockwood are as old as the hills. I really thought he might have made the leap, since 1986, but it appears he hasn't. Very sad indeed.

Anyway I'm hoping to be surprised back again by some of them, which may be asking a bit much but I guess I've always been into lost causes ;-)

PS not that I think the CUB is a lost cause, just some (all even?) of the individuals named above