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

Thursday, October 27, 2005

blog spots

Alliance comrade Len Richards has started posting his thoughts over at newsoc and the lovely Maia, who is one of my top ten favourite women, has launched Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty, which should be a good antidote to all that sexist crap sloshing around in the kiwi blogosphere lately.

Plus Jeremy Greenbrook has started up Aucklander at Large, in anticipation of no longer being The Commander in Chief, (ie VUWSA President).

"where's the u?"

Hat tip: Mrs M (who is blogless)

Gosh people will try to sell anything on TradeMe won't they...


Span's list of things that are ahead of Political Correctness on the Must Be Eradicated list:

1. Poverty
2. Sexism
3. Racism
4. Homophobia
5. Domestic Violence
6. War
7. Greed
8. Strategic deficits and creeping privatisation
9. Nutty National Party "spokesman" roles that are really just an excuse to get some media coverage

(Not exhaustive of course.)

Plus Muriel Newman must be spewing - being the UnPC Police has always been her bag.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

help throw span out of the country

(albeit temporarily)

Next year I'm hoping to go overseas a bit. The Trip (TM) will hopefully involve three to four months of gallivanting around Europe at a slightly more glamourous level than Scummy Backpacker.

Having never been closer to Europe than Ho Chi Minh City, I'm in need of a bit of friendly reader advice, namely:

If you were on a pretty tight budget, in terms of money and time,
what would you do/see in Europe?

Plans so far are to divide The Trip up into rough thirds - one third in the Mediterranean, one third in Western Europe, and the final third in the UK. Maybe start off in Turkey, head up to Russia (need to tick off Lenin on my list of Embalmed Leaders I Have Seen In The Flesh), then on to Greece. I'd also like to shoehorn in Morocco but maybe that's a bit ambitious?

Anyway, all and any suggestions much appreciated.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

catch-up post

Haven't been able to blog much since last Thursday, either here or elsewhere, as a result of previously mentioned health-related frustrations. This is going to be an ongoing problem, but while I'm feeling like I can, here are a few thoughts about stuff that's going on in The Big Game:

1. Pretty hard to win Tauranga back as Minister for Foreign Affairs

2. Greens actually in a good position - they get some policy wins which were much needed after nine years without much and they don't have to actively support Labour.

3. Will Minister for Trade and Trade Negotiations keep Goff overseas enough to maintain Clark's leadership possie? Especially if Winston's stance manages to stuff up those free trade agreements.

4. Education is going to be quite interesting - Cullen in Tertiary and Maharey in the main portfolio tends to indicate a bean-counter approach rather than any "vision thing" going on.

5. A woman as Minister of Police! I really wanted Margaret Wilson to get it but King will do nicely.

6. Speaking of Margaret Wilson, the fact that she's not in the Cabinet line-up suggests Labour is going to back her for Speaker again, surely?

i am Jack's infected lungs

i tend to feel really ripped off when i'm sick these days. this is the most time i've had off work for health reasons in ages - currently three days, possibly four or even five.

i'm pretty unimpressed with the coughing and the throwing up and the shortness of breath and the raw throat, not to mention the stupid antibiotics which will inevitably result in the witch doctor putting me on the stupid detox diet for 6 weeks when i see her again in a few weeks.

surely three years off due to illness means i have a lot of health in the wellness bank just sitting there waiting for me? i'd like to make a withdrawl please.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

dream job pays dividends

Apparently rich people aren't paying all the tax they ought to, what a surprise!

Now whenever there are stats released about benefit fraud they make the front page (nevermind that they include mistakes and overpayments by WINZ as well as actual fraud), but this little gem from the Herald was buried below the fold somewhat later in the paper, with no snazzy graphic. I'd be interested to hear how much coverage it is getting elsewhere (I heard it on Morning Report too, where it even got an associated interview).

Good to see my dream job is bringing home the bacon.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

unintentionally hilarious

Hat tip: Kakariki at Bloggreen

A very strange music video that I almost expected to be the product of Ricky Gervais. It's a Stormfront production that manages to actually avoid being offensive because it is so lame and unintentionally amusing. I particularly enjoyed the way the White Pride symbol slowly faded out at the end, a portent indeed - the will shall indeed triumph, but not yours Messrs Battlecry.

Would be particularly interested in some critiques from The Whig and Maria Von Trapp.

Friday, October 07, 2005


I heard through the grapevine that VUWSA President Jeremy Greenbrook told students occupying at Vic to stop their protest and leave the building - can anyone confirm if this is the case?

My first thoughts were that this was not particularly surprising from a Labour person - my experience is that while there are some great Young Labour activists who do actually encourage grassroots activism and staunch opposition to the creeping privatisation of education, there are others who tend to stifle any radical responses from the student body because they are outside their comfort zone and don't gel with the "What do we want? Gradual improvement! When do we want it? Incrementally" ethos of Labour-in-Government.

Perhaps YLers of the ilk of Conor and Xavier could have a word in Mr Greenbrook's ear?

Update (12.30pm): Here's another Indymedia article which reports that Greenbrook urged the students to raise their concerns about the fees through him, rather than through protest, and that he was not going to come out against the fee proposal (yet) because he had to keep an open mind...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

blog spots

In case you've wondered where Oliver is, he's in Spain. (And not in pain.)

I'm still missing the Fab Four (and Yoko) at KeepLeft who seem to have lost their pizzazz (or do I mean their Shazam?) since September 17th.

And I've been meaning to post for a while that Strikewatch is back on regular, with the addition of Rachel to the team. Bring it on!

union myths - #2 all unionists want to be Rick Barker

The second in an irregular series; another step forward on my ongoing quest to bust some union myths that the Right seem to like to wallow in from time to time.

Union Myth #2 - All unionists want to grow up to be Labour MPs

Look, we just don't.

I know oodles of trade unionists, from all sorts of unions, and I know very very few who actually want to be Labour MPs. (Seriously, I can think of about four, which includes people I don't know personally, and one person who is extremely unlikely to become an MP but desperately wants to. Oh, and there's this guy).

Having said that, being a unionist is probably quite a lot like being an MP - long hours, (some)people think you're a lazy arse even though you're not, fleeting gratitude when you achieve a good result for someone, abuse from the unsaveable (even when you miraculously save them), people hearing you say what they wanted you to say rather than what you actually said, others who tell you that your sick child is less important than listening to them whine, working really hard for a long time to succeed and feeling great about it when it happens but then having to move on to the next battle almost immediately, having people occasionally look up to you and give you some respect, etc etc ad nauseum.

All up being a unionist, paid or unpaid, is an iceberg job - the bit that's visible to the outside world is but a teeny tiny part of the whole.

Of course there are many unionists who would be heinously insulted to know that most of the Right blogosphere, from my experience, thinks they are Labour hacks (to be fair I've heard people on the Left say this too). Yes we are labour, but with a small l please.

Take for example those on the Alliance party list, which was saturated with unionists, both paid and unpaid. And Luci Highfield, who might have been a Green MP this week with a whole heap of good luck. Not to mention all those other radicals who do their day (and night) jobs and fit union work into their spare time, all the while realising the inadequacies of capitalism and hoping for a revolution.

Frankly I don't ever want to be a Labour MP (or even an MP for another party, really). I like union work. It's hard but it's rewarding, and you can actually see yourself making a difference to someone - because you listened to them and helped them at a bad time in their life, because you helped them to learn how to organise their workmates to make a positive change, because you pulled up a boss who bullied and thought nothing of breaking the law to get what they wanted; for a million other reasons too.

Why on earth would anyone want to give that up to move to the toxic environment of Parliament and twiddle their thumbs on the Labour backbench?

- union myths #1 - compulsory membership

a good man

Yesterday I heard that David Wakim passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on the weekend, on a trip with his wife in Namibia.

David was a staunch advocate for social justice and for peace. I organised for him to speak to an Alliance branch meeting about Palestine once and was blown away by his open-hearted approach. David was also a local pharmacist and heartily involved in Ahmed Zaoui's search for asylum, not to mention the husband of the Child Poverty Action Group campaigner Janfrie Wakim.

Scoop has more detail on this amazing man, who I was lucky to know slightly through his daughter Larissa (we were both involved in AUSA together, and she is now working at the International Criminal Court in the Hague).

Rest in peace David, you have inspired many to continue your work.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

retirement roulette

Do these intentions not to seek Cabinet also equal likelihoods of retirement at the end of the current term?

Will there be fresh Labour faces not only in the current Cabinet, but also contesting Wellington Central (Hobbs), Manurewa (Hawkins), and Rimutaka (Swain) in 2008 (or earlier)?

There will clearly be a glut of Labour retirements in 2008, and the likelihood is that although some seats may change hands, most will remain Labour Red (TM). My other picks for fresh meat are Aoraki (Sutton) and Wigram (Anderton).


Update: I/S rightly points out that there could be retirements before the next election from List MPs, Sutton in particular.

man down

Just noticed on Scoop that Paul Swain is not seeking Cabinet again, which means there will definitely be new faces in the areas of immigration, corrections and employment law.

He's cited family reasons, but I'm wondering about the new Labour caucus and whether those on the right of it are feeling a wee bit insecure about getting much Cabinet action. Field is likely to go in the short term at least, and there could be an influx of Greens, so we could be looking at a very different group around the big table than we had in the last three years.

Update: Idiot/Savant has more goss, namely that Hobbs and Hawkins are also jumping - clearly Environment could go Green but who would get Police?

Monday, October 03, 2005

that time of year part IX - September

Totally ticked off:
1. Get a new job in the area I want to work in - I can report that there are also no rollerskates in Wellington. The reward is proving to be harder to get than the damn job was.

5. Get at least one stamp in my shiny unused passport - Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. Working on plans for a whole lot more in 2006!

In train:
2. Exercise more - had three weeks off the gym (election, then away) but during that time i did a whole heap of walking so fitness hasn't fallen much. Bring on the good weather and the return of my tennis buddy from Korea!

3. Think positive - easier now that I know my day to day life is largely going to continue as is (i.e. no nasty Nats in power ruining my life again). However I did have the worst migraine I have ever had, after several months migraine free, after several days of feeling oddly ill and out of sorts. Witch doctor reckons something in my cranium was out of whack. No shit sherlock.

4. Resist over-committing - definitely getting better at saying no.

Totally not ticked off, not even a little bit:
6. Finish the kitchen - reminders about this to The Man In The Comfy Chair are proving fruitless. Am starting to consider some form of sanctions...

7. Get up to date with my Alliance projects - I am so far behind I don't think I could ever possibly catch-up.

Further reports on Span's New Year's Resolutions:
- August
- July
- May
- April
- March
- February
- January

nzusa results

I've heard that Joseph Randall, former EAO at AUSA and all round good leftie, swept into the first NZUSA co-president position for 2006 on the weekend - does anyone have the goss on who picked up the second spot?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

the bastards finally found me

and thus word verification is on.

Sorry folks, like NRT (who seems to have been plagued recently too), I held out as long as I could.

spiting the face

Over at Public Address Keith and Che have been having a right ol' barney about the Maori Seats, and DPF has given summarised, interspersed with his own views.

Given National's well known intention to abolish the Maori seats if it is ever in a position to do so, what would actually happen to all those voters? Where would they go?

Assuming that instead of creating several new electorate seats, we had 60 list and 60 electorate (as opposed to 53 and 67 now), all of those lovely left-leaning voters would go into the current general electorates. They'd slosh around in them, potentially turning slightly safe National seats like Northland and Whangarei and those notorious swingers the Hamiltons a redder shade on a semi-permanent basis.

I'm no maths whizz, but the impact would be significant in the electorates, even if it didn't have much dent in the overall party percentages.