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

Sunday, July 31, 2005

can a true unionist be middle class?

Stumbled across this post about unions on Indymedia and the venom from one particular poster against middle class unions (and unionists) was quite extreme.

Almost every unionist I know (and I know rather a lot of the young union crowd these days as unions are where leftie student politicians go to die) is middle class. I can think of a handful of genuine working class people who have come up through the membership amongst the new breed coming through. And on a qualitative basis, in terms of who are better unionists, I'm not convinced that class makes a difference. I know some great organisers who are pure Comfortable Surburbia and I know some awfully Don't Fret I'm a Mate of the Boss unionists whose parents probably worked down t'mine.

What does matter is class consciousness. I know I'm middle class so I take that into account. I try to get members involved in their union, and take an organising approach as much as possible (in a union which is more servicing oriented this is quite hard and something I am struggling with). I know that parts of the membership are actually relatively privileged and I focus on the ones who are not.

But is all this a patronising waste of time? Should I piss off and become an exploiting capitalist like (some of) my forbears?

Answers on the back of a postcard please.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

the return of word on the street - here's hoping it's right this time

I hear a reasonably reliable (I would say 7 on a scale of 1 to 10) rumour that there is going to be a new poll out tomorrow showing Labour 6 points ahead.

Nat and Lab were level pegging tonight on TV3, on 39%, but that wouldn't have taken into account the full impact of the loans announcement, as the polling was ending as the news came out.

Hopefully this new poll will see Labour regaining momentum and then I can safely cast my vote further left :-)

I would dearly love to know the Undecideds on these polls though - still very little reporting around it...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

says it all really

Don't worry, normal critique of Labour will resume once afterglow has faded ;-)

a good news day

Yesterday of course - wohoo for getting rid of the interest on student loans!!

Lots has been said elsewhere about this, particularly on No Right Turn, but I just wanted to point out that this is a victory for the thousands of student activists (and those outside tertiary education) who have kept on the pressure for years and years. A big bouquet to NZUSA, who have driven up the issue of loan debt for this election and have been chipping away at Labour's immovability for over a decade. It must be Party Central in that odd little office above the shoe store :-)

And yes this probably wouldn't have happened if Labour weren't behind in the polls, two months out from an election. Mallard and Maharey have both repeatedly said they don't think there is really anything wrong with the loans scheme, but this policy is just the kind of "vision thing" that will hopefully be a circuit breaker for the campaign. They are doing the right thing for once, so I'm not going to knock them because their reasons are pragmatic rather than ideological.

I reckon Labour needs two more similar announcements - big policies that will have tangible benefits for large chunks of NZers, and all the better if they redress an unfairness.

Let's hope they already have them in the pipeline, because if National gets in we can be sure there will be market interest on student loans, not to mention all those nasty things they want to do in education and industrial relations...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

how not to sell me a laptop

Step 1. Don't have enough sales staff. Instruct all sales staff you do have to ignore women customers, even if they are clearly trying to examine a particular item over a space of ten minutes or more.

Step 2. Tell your staff to rebuff any and all requests for help from customers and say that they are just helping someone else but will be right back. Advise them not to come back.

Step 3. Password lock your laptops so that no one can actually try them out without help of above mentioned sales staff (which will of course be virtually impossible to get, see Steps 1 and 2).

Step 4. Make any signage relating to your goods virtually indecipherable to anyone without a degree in computers. This will make the customer totally reliant on your already unavailable sales staff for translation *evil cackle*

Step 5. If a customer manages to evade your preventative measures in regard to accessing the sales staff and the item in question, make sure that you do not have the item in stock. Encourage your sales staff to order in said item from another store, but issue a clear memo, in advance, that any requests from staff in Store A to send any items to Store B are actually to be interpreted by Store B as an instruction to sell the item to someone else as quickly as possible. To rub salt into the wound, get the staff in Store A to tell the customer that it will only be a day or two before the laptop arrives.

Step 6. When the customer has the gall to come in, because they were passing, a week after the item was supposed to arrive, and ask about it, make sure your staff are perplexed and flustered by the absence of said item. This will make the customer question their memory and only be able to persist if they have a receipt that clearly records their deposit.

Step 7. Once the customer realises that you have already sold their laptop to someone else they may give up. If they do you have won. If they do not you will have to carry out extreme measures by selling them another laptop which will turn out to be ex-service and have a key missing (preferably something like the Y key, which is relatively infrequently used and may break the spirit of the customer, causing them to give up and keep the defective laptop).

Step 8. If the customer is particularly hardy, and still wants a laptop after all this, they are a worthy adversary indeed. Give them a better laptop, for the same price, and apologise profusely. And pray that you never encounter their like again.

you. will. conform.

In my work I come across a lot of bullying. It's not nice and it's hard to deal with - for the individual concerned, for those around them who are trying to help, and for outsiders like me that try to fix things.

Funnily enough I don't see so much harassment - I see harassment as a sort of targeted bullying, focusing on a personal feature such as gender, sexuality, race, age, etc. For some reason it seems to be less common amongst the adults I am dealing with, whereas standard bullying, sometimes not that different from what happens in the schoolyard, is rife.

I've mused a lot on what causes bullying. Bullying is about power - whether it's mental, emotional or physical. But what is its purpose? Quite simply to make people conform.

I had a pretty bad experience in sixth form. I was quite seriously sexually harassed by a couple of guys who were in the First XV, and I never worked out why I was a target. Then I was at a conference for work, sitting in a seminar and the speaker, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, put all the pieces together for me. She was talking about how her daughter had been bullied because she was a bit of a tomboy, and I suddenly realised - that was it, I didn't conform.

I had largely conformed at my old school, where we were all girls. I had learnt the rules over the years and was now only picked on for getting good marks, which I didn't intend to change. But at the new school, which was co-ed, I was marked out as a girl who was into rugby, good at maths and science, didn't show much interest in any of the boys, and generally did not act in the accepted girly ways. I was not a big girl's blouse. So I was a target.

When I started writing this post, several weeks ago, I did not intend to go on to write about blogging. I wasn't sure what my point was in posting this, beyond sharing my epiphany that bullying is a tool for imposing conformity. I thought this was interesting enough in itself to be worthy of a post.

But with all the nasty comments recently on many of the blogs, which in my view come mainly from right wingers, it seems there is pressure even here, in the "free" environment of the internet, to conform. This time it's not about gender stereotypes, it's about fitting in politically. The majority on the blogs are from the right, imho, and some of them are prepared to bully to force out views that oppose them. So much for freedom of expression.

Monday, July 25, 2005

the perfect gift for the blogger who has everything

This auction on Trademe (I should clarify that I am not the seller).

I cannot guarantee that Mr Anderton wrote his recipe himself - anyone remember the cricket cartoon?

But I can tell you that Kevin Campbell's Beehive Leek Soup is tremendous.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


I know I'm a bit slow off the boat on this one, but better late than never.

I want to make it clear from the start that Don Brash has never said this, to the best of my knowledge. The words I have inserted are in italics, and the rest are quotes from Brash's now infamous "Mainstream" interview on NatRad in June.

But let's just imagine he had said the following:

Interviewer: No, I just want to pick up on something else here. You talked about the legal recognition of Jewish marriages. Does that mean you do not regard Jewish people as mainstream New Zealanders?

Brash: Well they're clearly not, they're a small minority of people, but let me be clear. I made it very clear in the debate on that issue that I thought this should be dealt with by referendum because it's a big change in the civil institutions of society. I also said that in the referendum I would vote for it because I have no problem with Jewish couples committing to live together faithfully as Chrisitan couples do.

Interviewer: You simply don't regard Jews as part of mainstream New Zealand?

Brash: Well they are clearly, by definition, a small minority of New Zealanders...

If Brash had said that, would it be up there with Tamihere's comments? So why is it different just because the group of people he slagged are identified on the basis of sexuality rather than religion?

Are people who marginalise others mainstream?

Good posts on this:
- Gay's Aren't Mainstream - Just Left
- Don Brash and the politics of division - No Right Turn

Friday, July 22, 2005

word on the street

is that Helen Clark is going to declare the election date today. I'm not sure about the reliability of my source so take that under advisement. Nothing on the 2pm news and nothing on any of the expected websites...

Update: Getting goss from other sources which backs an announcement today.

Update the second: So that was obviously wrong goss, but it's definitely being announced on Monday. My mum heard it on the radio so it must be true - so much for being in the know! ;-)

harry potter and the open thread

ok this is going to be full of spoilers, so anyone still reading the book, or anyone yet to read it, who doesn't want to know what happens stop reading this now. to further protect you i'm going to post my thoughts in the comments.

the point of this thread is basically for me and Mr The Red, and anyone else who wants to, to argue about certain parts of the latest book.

so go for it.

(as long as you don't mind outting yourself as a "child" in Apathy Jack's opinion. Personally I prefer "child-like" ;-) )

Update: DPF has finally finished reading and has some questions (warning, spoilers in that post too).

Update the second: And here are some comments from Make Tea regarding the writing.

an explanation of absence

lots of little reasons like health, civ III entering the house, harry potter entering the house, etc.

but mainly the constant negativity from many who comment on the political blogs. although I haven't had many problems here with Those People (no idea why), the lies and the nastiness around the blogosphere have been really getting to me. I've been involved in politics for nearly 10 years now and I'm used to the face to face stuff, I'm even used to the media stuff, but the level of personal attack that some are using on the blogs is just unacceptable. And yes I really do observe that it is mostly by people who identify as right. Millsy, who was one of the few left wingers who got nasty, seems to have largely calmed down or disappeared. But the likes of tim barclay, spooks and Cathy Odgers continue.

It's like some of you are forgetting that everyone who writes a post, or a comment, is actually a human being. Smarten up your act folks or this is going to end up like news groups all over again.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Kiwi Carnival #2 - right here, right now!

Richard, who hosted the last Kiwi Carnvial, has submitted his post UBI, Freedom, and Reciprocity, which argues in favour of an unconditional basic income (something quite close to my heart as well).

Berlin Bear has written an open letter to Helen Clark, Phil Goff and Marian Hobbs, highlighting the current situation in Zimbabwe, particularly Operation Murambatsvina. He applauds the action taken by the New Zealand government so far but calls for a tougher stance. The post makes specific suggestions for further action, based on the recommendations of the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE).

Stephen Judd, of spleen, has submitted What Winston has woken, which he says is "an abortive attempt at fisking NZ First's immigration policy, before I got too annoyed to continue."

Kakariki delves into the potential ways of reducing our national abortion rates in Stuff, abortions and a bit more stuff.

Aboutown asks Don if they can please please see his tax cut, in Show us your tax cut!, which is not nearly as smutty as it might have been.

I am offering up my post about women taking the bulk of responsibility for contraception, postulating that due to biology the only way to get men to take more of the burden is to give our sons a moral obligation.

Stephen Cooper from Philosophically Made has some interesting predictions to make about the way things could fall out politically in the next few months.

Jarrod from First Against The Wall has contributed his latest incisive political commentary, of the witty variety, in Revolution in progress.

DPF got to take part in a debate on TV One about tax. He blogs about the debate in a post imaginatively titled "The Debate". David advocated that there will never be a better time for tax cuts, and also that he thinks it is silly he pays taxes which are passed on to families who earn more than him. (And he forced me to write that!)

Idiot/Savant, of No Right Turn fame, has submitted Zaoui judgement: it's enough, an analysis of the Supreme Court's judgement in the Ahmed Zaoui case.

Mellie, from Strikewatch, has offered Worker collectives and multi-agent jobs. He says "there are a number of conditions necessary for workers inmulti-agent jobs to have a reasonable chance of improving their terms and conditions in an individual contract environment. Factors include the size of the employer, training costs and complexity of the job, number of other agents employed in the same position and also the supply of skilled labour. Small busines owners are susceptible to manipulation by employees withregards to fears over productivity or losing trained staff, howeverconditions can both mitigate and aggravate these fears."

Meanwhile I've forcibly submitted Jordan Carter's refutation of Brash's statements about gays not being mainstream, and Apathy Jack's Waiting for the dreams, which is all about the art.

The Kiwi Carnvial is a collaborative effort that any kiwi bloggers (including ex-pats) are invited to take part in, by merely submitting their favourite post of the last fortnight to the carnival host. Each fortnight it will be located at a different blog, and you can offer your own fair online domicile at the Kiwi Carnival homepage, where you can also find out about future and past hosts, and how to submit (which is easy peasy folks!).

This is the second fortnight of the Kiwi Carnival - you can read the first Kiwi Carnival post here.