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

Thursday, June 30, 2005

kiwi carnival #2 coming soon!

Roll up! Roll up!!

Calling all nz (and expat-nz) bloggers - your chance to be a carni is now!

Marvel as STC sticks his head into the gigantic maw of the Dog Biting Men! Gasp as Jordan and DPF duel in the snakepit!! Goggle at the gargantuan wisdom of Richard, the side-splitting humour of jarrod, and the surreality (is that a word?) of About Town!!! Not to mention, the one, the only Bearded Lady!!!! And much much more besides...

Follow these links for all you need to know to take part in this stupendous event of epic proportions:

Submissions to by July 2nd please folks!

Monday, June 27, 2005

alone together

Statistics from the Herald a few weeks back talked about the increase from 10% sole parent families in 1973 to 29% today (which is still less than the 31% of families in the USA, where the DPB is a third what it is in NZ).

This has led me to wonder about the solo parents who are actually in marriages or relationships, and who live in the same home as their partner, at least on paper.

Because it is possible to basically be the only parent to a child but be with someone else, even the other biological parent of that child. I suspect that this was more the case in the past, when divorces were torturous to get, and I wonder if that has in part led to the increase in sole parent families - they were alone in all but name before, but they stayed married, sometimes for the sake of the children, maybe for financial reasons, but the reality for the couple and the kids was the same as if they had been divorced.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

are women less political than men?

As seems to be the way with comments threads, what started out as a post about Destiny's candidate launch by Idiot/Savant has got me thinking about political gender differences.

My instinct is that the reason there are less women in public life goes back to the ancient division of labour - women were active in the private sphere (meaning the home, not business as it does now), whilst men had lives outside that, in the public sphere. It's taken a very long time for women to significantly break that down.

Really it's only been this century, in NZ anyway, that it's become common place, and acceptable, for women to work outside the home, to run for political office, to be in the media and to have opinions that are voiced publically.

But centuries of staying close to the hearth are hard to overcome. There are still women who think that we XXers should all just stay at home and not bother our pretty little heads about anything other than babies and getting out our Master's slippers and pipe the second he comes in the door.

Many women of around my age are wrestling with the whole family/career dialectic. Can we really have both these days, or were our grandmothers right - the attempt to be all things winds up in achieving nothing? But that's an issue for a whole other post.

I don't think women are inherently less political than men. But we do tend to be less confident. And from what I've seen of politics it takes a lot of confidence, some might even say arrogance, to put yourself out there.

Perhaps women interact socially in a different way from men (although again I would say this is because of socialisation, rather than any hard wired difference). Politics is very nasty, very bruising, and perhaps a lot of women think "bugger that for a game of soldiers."

The Catch 22 there is that politics is never going to change unless people with a different approach get involved and start playing (and spinning) a different way.

Past musings about the differences between the sexes and things of that nature:
- honking at women is not a compliment (to either of you)

- why do men like lesbian porn but women don't like gay porn?
- where are all the chick political bloggers? which was followed up some months later by a second post, chicken chicks - thankfully this situation has changed a bit recently

eat up grandma

STC has posted a billboard take-off around superannuation which speculates about Act using the Soylent Green method of providing for our elderly.

It's interesting to look at a lot of those visions of our future and see how far off the mark they are - Soylent Green is a particularly creepy one and it probably wouldn't happen in the developed world because our population is now ageing. In the developing world there's AIDS (plus other diseases) and war to keep population growth down, although not static.

Am I wildly optimistic to believe that overcrowding isn't going to be a problem in the next several hundred years? I think about all those books I've read over the years, of massive apartment blocks built on every conceivable scrap of land, filled with tiny boxes that barely fit a bed, and it just seems impossible. Maybe I am spoiled here in Aotearoa - all this land, so few people. I tend to think something else is going to get us first, like our stupid practices of over-farming and ripping down forests.

Could we conceivably ever get to a stage where we would have to harvest and eat other humans to get by?

And if we did, wouldn't it all taste like chicken?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

ok one more

because offending catholics with pictures seems to be my hobby lately.

my previous offerings in this dept:
- couldn't resist
- and another one

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

and another one

and that really sums up how I feel a bit better than the last one.

couldn't resist

Hat tip: About Town and Jordan, whose friend's idea I've tweaked (much as I had to hold in the bile at typing anything that is so nice about Labour).

in the neighbourhood

about five minutes ago i saw a young man breaking into the church next door and rang the police.

i explained it all to them and they've now locked my cellphone so i can't make any other calls. i'm now sitting here on the puter waiting for them to phone or knock on the door - i've seen at least three cops at the church, they keep disappearing around the front of it, where i can't see them, and now we appear to have the police helicopter circling above.

i really really hope it wasn't someone legit who had just lost his keys. i've been told to stay in the house until the police come and talk to me.

there's a police officer right now stanidng at the back corner of the church looking at it. he seemed much less urgent than they did earlier, when they arrived, so i'm guessing that either i was wrong or there's no sign of the guy.

the helicopter sounds further away too, although once the sound is in your ears it's hard not to think you are hearing it, if that makes sense. no wait, it's closer again.

i'm not sure what is going on - there are no cops at the back of the church, in fact i can't even see their cars - hang on, they are on our street (the church is on the corner), i can see the car if i peer out the window to the right.

nothing happening now.

i must say they are taking it very seriously, and they responded very quickly. the woman on dispatch was very efficient and effective. my cellphone doesn't seem to be locked anymore, so i guess that means things are ok? i can see the police now, with the guy that i saw breaking in!!!

they were walking towards the car, but i can't see them anymore, he was just walking with the two of them, not in handcuffs or anything. two more police have walked across the road in the other direction.

i have this really weird feeling of adrenalin. when i saw them with the Blue Tshirt Guy (oops I told the policewoman on the phone it was grey, just goes to show how accurate eye witnesses are) i was worried they were going to knock on the door and ask me if he was the guy and then tell me off, that he was legit. But they haven't knocked on the door or anything.

I just saw a police car drive up the road, past the church, but the one that i could just see out the window is still there.

I'm going to go peer out the lounge window for a sec and see if i can see anything more from there.

nope, can't see anything. I can't work out where they took Blue Tshirt Guy at all.

very nervy right now.

we were burgled last week, and I know that the church has been broken into several times in the past too. gosh I hope it's ok. In a way I actually hope it's not the guy who broke into our place, as then we might be more of a target, they might come back to our house, or come when we are home.

still nothing - can't see any of the police, although one of their cars is still there. the helicopter is definitely gone. starting to feel less stressed about it. i'm really really hungry but i don't want to leave the window in case something else happens (gosh i'm just a nosey neighbour really).

there's another young guy just turned up with a basketball and the police, and Blue Tshirt guy are going to talk to him, ok Blue Tshirt guy just ran off with the other young guy, so I guess they questioned him and it's all legit? Police must be coming here now?

More later i guess.
ok i'm going to post this

Monday, June 20, 2005

from hell to heaven (and back again)

I've been musing a bit lately on the whole "you're going to hell" thing.

When is it too late to repent?

Isn't having death as a cut-off point a bit inconsistent with the soul as an eternal thing, and God being of a forgiving nature?

Say you don't live a very good life, you sin a lot, then you die and go to Hell. In Hell you realise the error of you ways - why shouldn't you then get a transfer to Paradise?

I'm really actually curious about this.

contraception and responsibility

In comments to my post on abortion last week, several people pointed out how the burden for contraception, and any decision around abortion, falls unfairly on women. The pill, abortion, other forms of contraception, all put the onus on the woman. Even in the case of condoms, it can often require the woman to ask for the man to wear one.

Given that it is the woman who has to carry the child is there really any technological advance that could realistically remove the burden of responsibility from women?

There is much talk of a male pill being developed one day, but in casual encounters could the woman afford to take the risk of trusting her sexual partner to be honestly on it? (Totally ignoring the fact that only condoms are protection against STIs.) Of course men have the same problem, the woman they sleep with may not be honest either, but then the consequences for them are not as big.

In many ways the pill has enabled women to pretend that they have the same sexual freedoms men have always had, but at the end of the day when contraception fails, for whatever reason, it is the woman who is pregnant.

That said, I strongly disagree with (usually) religious zealots who effectively want to take away any gains women have made in the Sex For Pleasure Not Procreation Department. Most of the time people (straight or queer) have sex for fun, not to create a child. It's ridiculous to create double standards, by restricting access to contraception and abortion, which mean men can have fun but women can only have kids.

I guess the only way to even the responsibility playing field is to raise sons who feel a strong moral responsibility for any accidental pregnancies they might cause, and thus act accordingly to prevent them, or front up when they aren't prevented. Many men do already take this approach, but not enough.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

faith restored

After all that anticipation, Batman Begins was a fantastic romp, complete with the believably good looking Mr Bale and a really rather good supporting cast. The Man In The Comfy Chair didn't enjoy it, but then I've always been more into Movie Trash than him.

The film fronts up to the fact that anyone who runs around at night in a bat suit has got to be a bit scarred emotionally, which is refreshing. There's no pretence that Batman is somehow superhuman or invulnerable (I'm sure I wasn't the only person in the cinema who winced when he stuffed-up a jump off a building - it looked truly painful). His motivation, and what makes him different from your run-of-the-mill vigilante, are both explored, perhaps not as fully as needed, but then this is still a Hollywood film.

It was dark, but it was also funny - the humour was more as if the characters had a sense of humour than the writers, if that makes sense. Natural rather than forced probably puts it better.

The vision of the city was great - very stylistically similar to the animated series I used to gobble up when I was younger. Of course there are silly moments and plot holes (when Alfred got into the future Bat Cave without crumpling his suit and I pointed this out to TMITCC, he turned to me and said "is this the first time you've noticed something absurd in this movie?") but they're not so bad that they distract much. I thought the car chase scene was too long, but then maybe that was just more realistic (and it was a nice touch showing it being replayed on the telly too).

I haven't read the relevant comics but am very curious about the League of Shadows - a secret society that deals to corrupt civilisations when they think it's time to kill them off. It would be interesting to look at the weapons they have used for this over the centuries - there is some reference, in the film, to an attempt to use "economics" on Gotham.

I'm not sure I want this reinvention of the franchise to continue (that way lies disappointment sooner or later) but at least there wasn't a padded codpiece to be seen anywhere.

til *insert appropriate event* do you part

Adolf rasied, in the debate at Kiwiblog over Graham Capill's latest charges, the issue that Mrs Capill is a great woman for not leaving her husband in the wake of his guilty plea and the new allegations raised since then.

Nigel, why are you so surprises his wife has not left him? He hasn't bashed her up has he? Some people actually do mean what they say when they vow to support their respective spouses 'for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, through thick and thin, til death do them part.' I might have hoped you could bring yourself to comment favourably on this woman's remarkable loyalty to her husband, no matter what or how bad his deficiencies turn out to be. That's the difference between real marriage and the ersatz versions peddled by the 'modernists' of today.

This has resulted in some comments vociferously castigating her for not leaving the Reverend, and caused me to think:

What is a bridge too far between spouses these days?

In the old days it was easy - death, and nothing else, would cause to put asunder what God had joined together, etc. But this really wasn't ideal - I know of a marriage within my family which was incredibly unhappy, for both partners, but did end with death (premature but not violent) because that was The Way Things Were Done. It would have been better for both of them, and their kids, if they had been able to separate without difficulty, and without having moral judgement heaped upon them by all and sundry. But that wasn't how things were, so they "stuck it out", to everyone's detriment.

So here's my list of currently acceptable reasons to leave your partner:

1. Affair - what about a one off? are there mitigating circumstances? some couples do recover after an affair...

2. Physical abuse - hitting, punching, assaulting sexually, etc

3. Severe emotional abuse - manipulation, long term bullying or harassment

4. Abuse towards your children - of any kind? what about abuse of other people's children?

5. Emotional breakdown - i.e. you don't love each other anymore, you love other people, or you find that over the years love has turned to hate - that sort of thing

6. Finding out they are not the person you thought they were - I guess this could be where Mrs Capill's situation falls. If she had no idea about the abuse then surely she must be wondering if she knows the man she married at all?

I guess each person has a different tipping point, and it is very hard for an outsider to ever know or understand what truly goes on inside a relationship.

But just to throw an idea out there - maybe Mrs Capill (I'm sure she does have a first name, but I don't know what it is) is staying with her husband for now, because it would be too much upheaval for the family for her to leave at this moment. Is it right for her to put off leaving for these reasons? Do you have to act immediately when you discover one of the above, or is a delay acceptable, in fact reasonable, if you are doing everything you can to save your marriage?

Just some musings, comments invited.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

speculative fiction

Bloggers might as well be imaginary people - so I'm going to speculate about a few of those I don't know in real life:

No Right Turn's Idiot/Savant - I imagine that I/S is quite tall and thin, with dark hair and possibly glasses (or contacts). I suspect his main form of exercise is jogging, I can just see him jogging about the flatness of Palmerston North, with his hair flopping (it must be quite long, students always forget to get their hair cut regularly). I reckon he's a real t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, and I'm going to throw a bit of a risky guess out there and say he owns a swanndri, and has a bicycle rather than a car.

Make Tea Not War - Hmmmm, I believe MTNW has a low-maintenance hair cut, something that doesn't require copious blow-drying, and probably prefers to wear trousers to work, rather than skirts. But don't get me wrong, she's quite feminine. She has a tidy workspace, when she's not snowed under, and neatly aligns things on her walls. I'm undecided as to whether she's average height and hates heels or short and always wears heels.

Kiwi Pundit (Nigel Kearney) - I had a very firm picture of Nigel in my head, based on the guy I thought he was (someone I knew at Law School). I'm pretty sure he's not the person I was thinking of, but all the same I suspect he looks similar - tall, dark haired, likes to wear suits and enjoys the affectation of a suitcase or laptop satchel. The Nigel I knew had blue eyes, no glasses, but quite large hands, and a reasonably quiet manner in person, although he could be roused to write in a passionately righteous manner when baited by lefties.

Whaddya reckon - miles off the mark?

More wild speculations may join these.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


After the disappointments that were the h2g2 flick and the final (here's hoping) Star Wars movie, I have been hanging out for Batman Begins with much anticipation. And not just because of Mr Bale either.

This is the film that can drag my 2005 Trash Movie Viewing Experiences out of the mud they are currently wallowing in. Not good mud I should stress. Not the kind that is actually doing nice things to your skin.

Anyway, it sounds as if Batman Begins is getting quite good reviews. Halleluyah, there is hope!

Shall be viewing it tomorrow night to check.

ok folks it was the egg, i don't want to have to tell you again

Chicken and egg?



End of story.


STC has written about taggers being motivated by vengeance, rather than to show off their tags for any length of time.

I don't agree that pay back is the main motivation - although I haven't tagged myself I have some acquaintance with tagging and taggers indirectly, through members of my family who are involved with the Wipe Out Trust, an organisation on the North Shore that paints over tags (or rather organises for youth offenders to paint over tags).

I reckon tagging is about several things:
1. Boredom - there is some truth to that saying "the devil makes work for idle hands." I like to call this the Denny's Phenomena, because I first experienced it when waiting an inordinate length of time for food at Denny's. Basically my friends and I destroyed everything on the table, despite the fact that we were by and large "good" kids and not Those Young People Today who Grey Power like to complain about.

2. Power - when you tag something you have some control, some power. You have left your mark. You have made someone "listen" to you, you have made them do something (even if it's just curse and paint over your tag) - you have had an influence on their lives. For many young people, who feel they have no power at all, this must be a seductive feeling.

I strongly dislike tagging - I think it makes our city look messy and cheap. I would dearly like councils to employ as many people as necessary to paint over any tag within 24 hours of it going up, whether it's on private property or public.

And while we're at it, let's have more public works of art and murals around the place - and decent spaces for public notices too, where anyone can do a paste-up except the Corporate Advertising Armies(tm). That would be a fine move towards a city that is more about people than cars, buildings and roads.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

selwyn pleads guilty?

As you may have noted on Tumeke, Tim Selwyn is in court today for conspiracy, sedition, the usual.

The Herald reports that he has admitted involvement in the putting of an axe through the PM's Electorate Office window, but is denying the sedition.

I'm surprised he admitted anything at all and will be fascinated to read his version of events when/if he returns to his puter to share. Mr Selwyn is always entertaining :-)

Update: Have corrected my earlier mistake that Tim had admitted doing the axe work himself.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Labour ain't labour

There seems to be this view amongst some on the right that the Labour Party equals the labour movement - that unions and Labour are exactly the same and that there are union tentacles controlling the inner levers of the party (and thus the Government) at every level. Case in point, Tim Barclay's comments calling for unions to be banned over at Just Left, starting with the democratic ejection of the Labour Party from Parliament.

If you check the page of the Labour website that refers to their union affiliates, you find the following:

The New Zealand Labour Party was formed in 1916 on the basis of broad industrial
support. That support continues today and trade union interests and issues
are represented in the Party through the Affiliates Council.
Labour may have had "broad industrial support" when it was formed, but today only three unions are affiliated to it; the Service and Food Workers' Union (SFWU), the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), and the Dairy Workers' Union (DWU).

If you check the CTU website you will see that there are in fact a great number of unions, not to mention those who are not affiliated to the CTU, certainly many more than three.

Yes there are a lot of unionists, members and officials, who are involved in Labour. There are also many Labour MPs who have come through unions to the seats they now hold. It is quite natural I think that people who are left of centre (even if that's not very left) should be involved in their unions - I imagine any polling done that asked people whether they were union members would show most who are vote leftish.

Although the Labour hierarchy has a lot of links to the union movement, I would argue that Labour has not in fact been the best party for labour in recent decades. The Alliance in particular has had much more worker friendly policies (eg four weeks annual leave before the Progs poached it), and in fact it was the hard work of Alliance MPs that resulted in many of the union-friendly provisions in the Employment Relations Act. Laila Harre fought hard for an amendment on sub-contractors which Labour voted down, only to include a version of it later on, in the Employment Relations Amendment Act, when they could clearly take credit for it.

The reality is that union membership, at the flax roots, are not hard arsed Labour people, or their unions would be affiliated. Many are quite sceptical about Labour, and may vote for them quite grudgingly. At election time most unions who do give political donations will not restrict themselves to Labour, but share themselves around a bit to parties they like the look of. But don't be fooled, there is a great deal more money for political donations coming from corporates than from unions, even to the left parties.

Union dosh is pretty small potatoes.

Monday, June 13, 2005

wakey wakey

About Town seem to have gone to sleep.

First we lost the gloriously useful stars on their Blog Roll (which told you which blogs had been recently updated) now they all seem to have gone on a simultaneous holiday - maybe a retreat to reconnect?

it had to happen

you really can sell anything on TradeMe, including your vote...

the trader has rejected Destiny or National Front but is open to all others and bidding currently stands at a massive $2 (gosh even the Alliance could afford to buy this guy!) ;-)

when are we going to grow up?

Many moons ago now, back in November last year, I blogged about the (stupid) idea of raising the drinking age back up to 20.

My view hasn't changed - there is nothing wrong with the age, in fact it is one of the few things we probably have right about our drinking culture. If you're old enough to decide who you would like to govern then you are certainly old enough to drink.

What frustrates me is Matt Robson's involvement in all of this. It is a calculated move by the Progressives to appeal to the Grumpy Vote, which the Alliance used to get quite a share of, back in the day. JPA has always been good at garnering these voters, but he's always had to arm-wrestle with Winston for them, and 2005 is no exception. Matt Robson has become more and more like a mini-Jim since 2001, when he put his Ministerial warrant before his beliefs. His commitment to Zaoui keeps him human. (That probably sounds unusually harsh for me, but I have withstood the blaze of Robson's righteousness and I don't have much time for him now that he's well and truly sold out on the drinking age issue.)

Let's start talking turkey about our drinking problems. They are not caused by the drinking age, they are caused by a culture that doesn't educate young people about alcohol, where bad role models abound (in particular parents and sportspeople), and the only people who are apparently responsible for all of this are our youth.

We need to look at the way drinking is advertised (which I am glad the bill is addressing) - not just the overt ads, but also the covert. I'm going to throw it out there, although it won't be popular - why do we still led the Beer Barons sponsor our sports teams when we kicked out the Tobacco Tyrants long ago? (Don't even start me on gambling sponsorship).

It's time to grow up and start looking at ourselves, not blaming the convenient scapegoat all the time.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

why isn't this front page news?

Bush's reports on climate change were being heavily edited by someone with absolutely no scientific training, but a background in the oil industry. I only know about this because I heard it briefly on Nat Rad and then Googled to find out a bit more, but there's hardly anything out there.

This is incredibly corrupt - if it's happening in this area whose to say it isn't happening elsewhere in the Bush Administration?

good spotting

Hat tip: Phantsmagoric Politics

Greg's old blog has been taken over by someone hocking phone cards. Woe.

I've done as PP suggests and taken the site off my blogroll - sorry to see this happen to a blog which had some good stuff to browse even if it was Under Dust Covers.

not so mysterious

Jordan posted some billboards recently from an unknown source.

It looks very much like they came from here.

aborting abortion

DPF's post on the legal challenge around NZ's abortion laws has resulted in the predictable pro-choice vs pro-life scrap in comments.

We all know what happened when abortion was illegal - women still had abortions, just in incredibly unsafe environments that threatened their lives and no doubt led to infertility in many cases. A woman had an abortion alone then - for fear of disapproval, or being forced to bear a child she could not support, or even to marry a man against her (and/or his) will.

Abortions will happen, whether it is illegal or not - in an ideal world there would be few, but even so there would still need to be some. For goodness sake, nature is estimated to abort up to 80% of all pregnancies - many women miscarry before they even know they are pregnant, and never know they were.

I attended a Catholic school for some years, and during that time I was vehemently pro-life. I didn't have a lot of arguments for it, but I was surrounded by girls and women who felt the same way (despite many of them being reasonably feminist). I was not at all religious but I remember believing passionately that abortion, in any case except rape, was murder.

Then I changed schools, mid-term, and in my first week at the new school I overhead some girls talking casually about abortion (it was something we only ever discussed with the Ultimate Seriousness at my old school) and my teen mind whirled - how could they say such things? how could they think them? this is outrageous!

Then my rational brain kicked in - I started to ask myself hard questions that I had never considered before - why was abortion so evil? No answer. Why was it so bad to abort a fetus that some people would kill abortion doctors? The only answer I could come up with was that that seemed pretty hypocritical. What about all those children who are brought into the world to live in misery, with parents who are unable to care for them for particular reasons, but who the Church says are more important than their mothers?

I remember quite distinctly the moment when those scales fell from my eyes. From that day I was pro-choice, but I always said "I support the right to choose, but I don't think it's a choice I could make." I still didn't feel quite comfortable with it - it was hard to overcome my conditioning. I did not judge other women for making that choice, but I would judge myself very harshly indeed.

That was until my first pregnancy scare - I was with a partner who was too young to be a father, our relationship was not strong enough to survive parenthood, and I was certainly in no way mature enough to be any kind of mother, even a bad one.

At the moment I realised I could actually be pregnant, that the possibility was real and not hypothetical anymore, the last tiny little scale, which had clung on despite everything, fell away - if I had to have an abortion I would, not lightly or as contraception, but as an adult decision (possibly my first truly adult choice) made in recognition that I was not enough of an adult to be a mother.

Luckily I was not pregnant (we were taking sensible precautions) and I did not ultimately have to decide. But I know that I could have made that choice. And that doesn't make me feel bad about myself.

The irony that those who are pro-life are often also anti-sex education makes me angry. You can't have it both ways. You can't leave people (historically usually women) in ignorance and then punish them for the consequences of decisions made without vital information.

If you are serious about bringing the abortion rate down then you have to be more enlightened about contraception - throughout human history we can see that people will have sex (thank goodness or there would be no human future). And we know that most times people have sex it is not to create a child.

Let's recognise this and celebrate it - creating a healthier attitude towards sex, on both the physical and emotional levels, is the only way to bring down the abortion rate.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

her name is laila, she's not a show-girl

Watching Laila Harre on that Kim Hill show the other night, I was struck by how much we still have in common. I'd yell things at John Tamihere just before she'd lay them out calmly and clearly. Her grasp of the underlying issues still hasn't changed - she identified time after time that what JT was missing in his equation was the source of the problems he was listing. He wasn't thinking about what causes it, which is the inherent unfairness and injustice of the system we currently use, ie capitalism.

(By the by, for anyone interested in reading a very good book about the economic and social transformation that Thatcher wrought in the UK and the huge impact this had on the lives of working class men, can I heartily recommend Andrea Ashworth's autobiography Once In A House On Fire).

Laila and I were in the Alliance together. I am still in the Alliance. Laila is not. She's gone great guns at NZNO as the Organising Manager (although that sounds like an oxymoronic job title to me) while I am slaving away at a lower level in the union movement. We have much in common and on nights like the night she was on Kim Hill I do think there is more that would unite us than would keep us apart.

But it's hard sometimes, the water that is already under the bridge. It is going to sound cruel but I think Laila was looking for an out when she left the Alliance - she wasn't interested anymore and she needed an excuse to leave gracefully. In the end I think she left with less dignity than she could have, and some of her actions since, towards those of us who are still labouring *boom boom* on with the Alliance, have angered and hurt me greatly.

I've been posting a lot recently about the future of the NZ Left (in regard to parliamentary parties) and I keep thinking about Laila. Realistically any party of the left that is rebuilt or created is going to involve a lot of the key players that have passed through the Alliance at some point. Probably not JPA, possibly not Matt McCarten, but I think Laila will have to be back, as a supporter if not an active member.

I just hope that the saying is true - time heals all wounds.

Monday, June 06, 2005

just in case you missed it

Here is a link to Victor Billot's "fire and brimstone" speech at Otago .

I can't indulge because I don't have speakers (that's speakers folks, I do have ears), but I'm sure you'll all just love to totter over and hear him at his fierce socialist best :-)

spam for Osama

Got back from a restful weekend away to this little gem in the inbox:

Turn on your TV. Osama Bin Laden has been captured. While CNN has no pictures at this point of time, the military channel (PPV) released some pictures. I managed
to capture a couple of these pictures off my TV. Ive attached a slideshow containing all the pictures I managed to capture. I apologize for the low quality, its the best I could do at this point of time.Hopefully CNN will have pictures and a video soon. God bless the USA!
Sean Dunlap*

*no doubt not his real name.

Now having been out of news coverage since the message was ostensibly sent I did stop and ask someone if they'd heard anything to this effect (they hadn't). I wouldn't have opened the attachment for two reasons (in addition to my normal practice of not opening attachments from strangers):
1. God Bless the USA? no thanks, we've already had out quota for the month (and it's only the 6th).
2. No attachment - you fools!

But my that's inventive spam.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

if it's any consolation...

Adolf i thought your email was continuing the joke and that you were faking me out.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

which party should lefties head to?

Further to the discussion about the Alliance at No Right Turn, and the debate about the left outside Labour on this blog, Idiot/Savant has got me thinking about which party lefties should really support.

Clearly I think that it's the Alliance - I'm in it, I have been for nearly five years, and I'd really be quite stoked if we could rebuild into a potent Left force for 2008.

But obviously other people think differently, or the Alliance would have thousands of members, hundreds and thousands of dollars, and I'd be in the (currently thankfully impossible) position of having to shift to Wellington by the end of the year.

I think there are some interesting options for the Left (those who are bothering with Parliamentary politics):

1. Join existing leftish parties and help them - the Greens, the Progs, Labour (I think between IS, Jordan and myself we have rather ruled out the Maori Party as a force for socialism) - Should we join/support one over the others? Should we form a faction within an existing Parliamentary party and push for medium term control (ie entrism)?

2. Rebuild an existing extra-parliamentary party - the Alliance is the one for me, obviously, but I suspect there are other possibilities out there for this. What would that really take, in terms of money, volunteers, work - and how would you achieve that, aiming to return to Parliament in 2008? Is it easier to build a new party or to rebuild an existing one? An existing party has the advantage (and disadvantage) of already having a network and a profile, but a new party may have more potential to get positive media coverage (eg the largely non-critical coverage the Maori Party has had since its launch.)

3. Build a brand new electoral vehicle - cobbling together the remnants of several parties that have all split from each other over the years, and trying to mop up those disaffected with parties entirely. Discussions with many people who have been Alliance supporters suggest they are waiting for a totally new vehicle - they feel the Alliance is too tainted. As for the rebuilding option, what would be needed to do this effectively?

4. Steal an existing MP or high-profile candidate who was guaranteed to win a seat and build (or re-build) around them - all of the third parties currently in Parliament had MPs before they faced an election (except of course for Act, who had past MPs), but who would be ripe for the plucking?

I'm sure there are other options that haven't occured to me, and frequently I wonder if all this parliamentary politicking is a distraction from the real work of education, organisation and action, leading to a fundamental change in the way our society is ordered, ie bringing an end to capitalism.

Thoughts and comments, particularly from those with leftish tendencies (rather than the usual lobbing of rotten tomatoes from some of those on the right), much appreciated.

Update: Maramatanga has commented on his/her blog too: Leftward and upward.

that time of year part VII - May

Here's where all this started: Span's New Year's Resolutions.

Totally ticked off:
1. Get a new job in the area I want to work in
- still no tick to the Roller Skate Reward though I have found a skate rink not too far from home. I think I am going to get the skates online as I can't find any shops in Auckers with what I want. And I want it noted that I started going on and on about roller skates before the cool Diet Coke and Shuffle ads.

5. Get at least one stamp in my shiny unused passport - see Vietnam posts.

In train:
3. Think positive - seem to have finally broken through regarding my new job being considerably different (environmentally) from my old job, which is a big step. All in all going pretty well despite several Bad News Assaults recently. Thank goodness for homeopathic seratonin and realising when you have Bridget Jones' Brain.

4. Resist over-committing - have slipped a little but still under control. Succeeding well in the Not Thinking People Have Huge Expectations Dept, which makes a big difference.

7. Get up to date with my Alliance projects - haven't done the project that has been on my desk Forever, but others are coming along nicely.

2. Exercise more - Finally back in this category after a few months off - I am thinking about exercise a lot and have started doing my little exercise routine again - yay! And I've been seriously considering taking a martial arts class of some sort. Any suggestions in comments would be most welcome. My aims would be to a) get fit, b) be able to kick some arse, and c) feel a little Uma Thurman-esque from time to time.

Totally not ticked off, not even a little bit:
6. Finish the kitchen - although I admit that I did bitch about it a bit just yesterday.

Past progress reports:
- April
- March
- February
- January