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

Monday, January 30, 2006

better dust off the pension plan

Noted in the most recent Sunday Star Times/BRC poll (Hat tip: I See Red), Don Brash is still a long way behind Helen Clark in the preferred Prime Minister stakes.

I know that bloggers and commenters from the Right get rather shirty rather quickly when those of us on the Left refer to Brash's limited political lifespan, but this really is the kicker.

It's not about National's ratings (43 in the above poll, to 42 for Labour), it's about Brash being seen as a credible PM.

Given his current polling, it's clear that almost half of those who would vote National don't see it's current leader as their first choice for our Great Helmsman. This is a big problem - not for National so much (seeing as their party vote is holding up) but for Brash personally. He cannot possibly consider his leadership safe while this continues.

Clark though seems to be unassailable. If I were Don I'd be hoping for a coup within Labour sometime soon, because it currently seems to be his only chance of bringing the Red Leader's polling down.

Thanks to Jordan Carter's constant reportage of the polls on Just Left, and his categories function (I am so jealous), I've been able to do a little bit of analysis*:

The lighter colours are the leaders, the darker ones the parties. These results cover 14 polls, from the 31st August last year (TV3/TNS), until the SST/BRC one released yesterday, also covering polls from the NZ Herald, One News/Colmar Brunton and Fairfax/AC Neilsen. Most of them are of course bunched in September, just prior to the election, but the trend is the thing.

What I find interesting is that Brash(light blue) has consistently polled considerably lower than his party (National, dark blue). Clark (pink) tends to poll either close to Labour's rating(red), or above it. On only one occasion does she fall below Labour by more than a few points (Sept 7th).

I haven't included Winston Peters (because many of the polls didn't) but Mr Pinstripe always rated higher than NZ First when his result was mentioned.

John Key of course will be hoovering up some of those National Preferred PM ticks (9% in the most recent SST poll, and he's only shown up in the last four polls). But there's still a gap of 9% currently - that's 9% of National voters who don't want Brash or Key as PM (English anyone?). And of course when Clark rates higher than Labour, and Brash lower than National, the obvious answer is that there may be National voters who still prefer Helen over Don.

Orewa III** (actually happening down the road in Silverdale this year) could see Brash get that boost he needs to survive the year. I guess we'll have a better idea this time next month if, outside of the political gala of election year, Brash can cut it - as preferred Prime Minister and in the House.


Don Brash
New Zealand Prime Minister


* Sorry about the appalling quality of this picture - if anyone can give me some tips on how to better capture a chart from Excel and turn it into a jpeg that would be much appreciated.

* Can anyone point to any information about this on the National website? Or even a release from Brash on Scoop about it? I couldn't find a bean.

Friday, January 27, 2006

major major

Hat tip: Maria Von Trapp, who got it from DPF

You scored as Journalism. You are an aspiring journalist, and you should major in journalism! Like me, you are passionate about writing and expressing yourself, and you want the world to understand your beliefs through writing.





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

Apparently I required a tie breaker question to determine whether I was better suited to Anthro or Journo and Journalism won. Considering I majored in Biological Anthro and have since done nothing on that, but have spent a hell of a lot of work and play time writing, I guess that's a good call. Did anyone else need a tie breaker?

Interesting that Politics (my other major in real life) is not on the list.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

back again

Work has required me to be in another city, with no internet access, since Tuesday, but I'm now back home thankfully.

I note that Aaron Bhatnagar, he of Metro fame, has suffered a similar fate to the erstwhile Asian Invasion blog - someone has picked up the bhatnagar blogspot URL and posted a picture that I'm sure Aaron will probably admire, even if he didn't actually put it up himself.

Could this be the handiwork of Andy Soprano, who seems to have abandoned his Odgers fascination?

So what's been happening while I've been gone folks? (Apart from 219 feeds on my Bloglines subs)

(And a Stegosaurus-sized thank you to Apathy Jack for his extreme thoughtfulness)

Monday, January 23, 2006

face to face

Found this dandy Time Waster, via Hey...Listen, who was in turn found via that Miracle of Procrastination the Next Blog button.

You upload a head and shoulders shot of yourself and their handy database works out which famous people your facial features most resemble.

My results included:

It would be fab for me to say - oh yes I am a total cross between Alyson and Pen, how did they know! But the truth is I look nothing like any of these people. (Ok, maybe a bit like Eric Idle.)

But back to the time wasting bit.

Being of a political bent I decided to try a politician. It was hard to choose, so many head shots of them, so little time, but in the end I decided, in honour of the fact that he does actually blog, to try out Rodney Hide.

And here's what My Heritage came up with for Rodders(you might want to take a seat first):

So far My Heritage is not doing so well on the accuracy front, but is definitely in A+ territory for .

Wellington Anniversary

Hits down substantially today. Then I realised what day it is.

Hope my readers had a lovely day off :-)


These two articles were rather close together on the NZ Herald news sidebar this morning:

National says it would stop funding Maori therapists


Identity loss tied to Maori suicide

Very quickly:

There are a lot of therapies that seem dodgy on the face of it. Homeopathy is the one that most frequently gets the shit kicked out of it in the Listener letters to the editor. And yet, having had a long-term illness that there is nothing "modern medicine" can do about, I'm actually now of the School of Thought that says - sometimes it doesn't matter if it's the placebo effect, as long as it's working and it's not harming you.

And there is something to be said for respecting a culture that, quite frankly, past Government's have done everything they can to suppress and destroy.

No time to comment more now, have to go to work v early this morning.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Not Very

And so according to the Team America How F**king American Are You? quiz, I'm an:

Well that was a huge surprise.

Hat tip: Samantha Burns

Friday, January 20, 2006

how do they know?

We got burgled again last night. Just the cars this time. Right outside our bedroom window, and we suspect that the cat was onto them because she started moaning about wanting to go outside around the time that they were breaking in, because we both heard a few suspicious noises but dismissed them. I got up to put her in the lounge and turned a light on, which probably scared them off, as they left their screwdriver behind.

I had left my work satchel in the car for the first time ever I think. I certainly can't remember ever leaving it in there before. I only did that because I had just picked Nickname Pending up from the airport and had instead got his bags out of the boot, and forgotten about my own bag which was in the front. Just as well really - because they popped the boot (along with the petrol cap) but there was nothing in there except some seminar pads and an empty plastic bag.

For some god unknown reason they actually turfed my diary out of my bag and left it in the car, for which I am immensely, perversely, grateful.

But what I am really fucking angry about was that they took a number of items that are of sentimental value to me and no fucking value at all to them.

In particular my spanner, which I uplifted from my father when I was about 10, is gone.

I am very sad.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

eight glasses of bullshit a day

It being a new year and all, I've been trying to clean up my act. For someone who already doesn't drink alcohol or coffee (the latter gives me migraines) and has no interest in anything requiring filling my lungs full of smoke, this has culminated in New Year's Resolutions about exercise and breakfast, and also a vague commitment to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

I read in a book (you know, those things made of paper that exist offline) that a good way to keep track of your eight glasses is to count how many gulps you take when you drink a glass and then try to drink eight times that number of gulps every day. It's quite handy, although I've been converting my gulps into half and quarter glasses cos otherwise I forget where I'm up to. I just thought I'd pass that on, dear readers, because I thought it was a damn fine idea.

But then I actually started drinking all this water. And I discovered that my office is rather a long way from the toilet. Which started me wondering - if so much of this water is, ahem, passing through me, do I really need it all? And how come I got by reasonably well for all this time without drinking all this water?

But then I thought, well how much damage could I really be doing myself by drinking too much water, except perhaps wearing holes in my shoes from all the walks to the conveniences, and decided to persevere for a bit longer.

I mentioned all of this to a friend of mine, who is rather the sceptic (in fact I'm 98% sure he's a signed up member of the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists so favoured by Paul and Xavier) and he made a sarky comment that tipped me over the edge from slight cynicism to medium conspiracy theorism.

Here's the International Bottled Water Association's website. You didn't even know there was such a thing as the International Bottled Water Association, did you? Anyway, do the IBWA's hydration calculation for yourself and you'll no doubt discover you in fact "need" considerably more than even 8 glasses a day. (For readers who are more inclined to metrics [like myself] here is a handy metric conversion site.)

There's an interesting article on some big flash report on water intake from Dr Heinz Valtin, who's a professor of physiology at Dartmouth. Here's the money quote:

...he finds it, "difficult to believe that evolution left us with a chronic water deficit that needs to be compensated by forcing a high fluid intake."

Ok I'm convinced - the eight glasses theory is at least a crock and at worst a ploy to get us all to buy bottled water at a time when health conscious consumers are turning away from the other products sold by those who peddle plastic-wrapped H20 - soft drinks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

kiss kiss ban ban

Did anyone else notice the Central Leader article last week (sadly not online, but it was on the front page on Friday) regarding the same sex kiss issue? It revolved around Eden Park's management confirming that they would have taken the same action as Westpac Stadium did, saying:

"It's not a human rights issue and it is reviewed on a case-by-case basis," said Mr Reade [Eden Park general manager]. "But any incident that is causing a disturbance, a problem or bad crowd behaviour, is judged on that."
Perhaps Reade is not aware of what happened when Westpac Bank's management talked to Westpace Stadium's management, as revealed by Tony Milne of I See Red? (Aside: Eden Park also has a bank as one of it's primary sponsors - ASB)

Bruce Kilmister, who is a member of the Western Bays Community Board and is described in the Central Leader article as "gay and an HIV-AIDS health campaigner", is also quoted, labelling the response from Eden Park "pathetic" and going on to say:
"It's a sad day when the culture of boozy blokines pervade liberal idealism... The last bastion of that Kiwi prehistoric behaviour is rugby and cricket game attenders."
Further to this, there is an interesting conversation about whether this particular situation is a good example of a threat to human rights, over in the comments to a post on Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty. While I agree that there are many supporting the right of these women to kiss because they were straight, I believe they were probably targetted because it is perceived that same sex kissing isn't appropriate at a "family" event. Nevermind all the boozing and swearing, Valhalla forbid that there should be any non-heterosexual showing of affection.

Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where two women kissing wasn't instantly interpreted by most viewers as either a turn-on or a disgusting and perverted act?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

what to do in Auckland when you're dead

Thanks to Egan for sending this on and brightening up a somewhat befuddled afternoon in the office.

Seems someone won a funeral in a competition, as you do. Seems said someone is now selling said funeral on Trademe.

Comments section guaranteed to give you a chuckle, e.g:

If you win the auction I would be more than happy to receive a body by Fedex, if only to watch the courier struggle to carry the package up 3 flights of stairs to my apartment


Hi, Do you think this would be an appropriate birthday present for my mother inlaw? Im finding she is very hard to buy for!

i wonder

if DPF, of Kiwiblog fame, knows about this dot com incarnation of the URL he has built up?

Found via the blogroll on Chaucey's blog, where she is clearly meaning to link to Farrar but has made a (quite understandable) error.

On in Auckland tonight

A meeting at the Greens Office to organise around Sue Bradford's Private Member's Bill to abolish youth rates.

The below is from the GPJA newsletter:

SUPPORT SUE BRADFORD'S MINIMUM WAGE BILL - In the last Parliamentary Members' Bill Ballot of 2005, Sue Bradford's Bill to remove age discrimination in the minimum wage payable to 16 and 17 year olds - the Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill - was drawn.

The Bill is due to be debated in Parliament on 15 February 2006, which means we have to act quickly to develop support for the Bill and try to persuade Labour and New Zealand First MPs to support it to Select Committee. Sue has therefore called a meeting to organise activities in Auckland in support of this Bill. This organising meeting is open to all supporters of the removal of age discrimination, so feel free to circulate these details widely to your friends and email lists you may be on.

For further information, contact Ivan Sowry, 09-361 6202 or

I'm hoping to head along and see some of you there.

Monday, January 16, 2006

come out come out

Hat tip: Wherever You Go, There You Are (found via that Monarch of Procrastination tools, the Next Blog button)

Apparently the North American bloggers just had their National Delurking Week, that being the week in which they encouraged all those who read their blogs but don't comment to come out of the shadows and say something to indicate their presence.

And just to show that I don't thoroughly disapprove of absolutely everything emanating from that part of the world, I'd like to extend a similar invitation to any readers who happen to lurk here. You can stay anonymous if you prefer, I'm not picky.

I'd love to hear from you, and comments are allegedly good for your soul/waistline/IQ.


wailing on those wailing on the whalers

Yesterday DPF posted some criticism of the decision by the Maritime Union of NZ to stop working the ships involved in the Japanese whaling in the Antarctic. In particular he cast aspersions on the democratic decision-making of the union involved, implying that members had no say in these kinds of political decisions.

I emailed Victor Billot, who works at the Maritime Union of NZ (MUNZ), to ask how the decision to withdraw labour from these ships was made. Below is his response, which he has given me permission to publish:

The Maritime Union is a democratic working class organization. The national leadership of the Union is elected by a direct ballot of members every three years: this includes the General Secretary, a fulltime official, and the President, Vice President and Assistant General Secretary. Each branch of the Union is directly accountable to the members through elected executives as well.

The elected General Secretary is responsible for the day to day running of the Union, and has authority to represent the Union as a collective organization, with final decisions on major issues made by the National Executive of the Union, represented by elected delegates from all port branches.

In this instance the General Secretary cleared the decision with the elected branch officials in the ports most likely to be affected.

I myself attend bi-monthly stopwork meetings at Port Chalmers (my home branch) attended by up to sixty Union members, of several hours in duration, where full and frank discussion of all Union activities is held, with rank and file members questioning their elected officials and putting their own views. I would say the Maritime Union is one of the most democratic organizations in New

The Maritime Union has a proud history of political involvement including refusing to work ships loading metal for Japan in the 1930s, international workers struggles, the anti-nuclear movement and anti-apartheid movements. Maritime unionists realize that solidarity and collective democracy are their best tools in the constant struggle to defend their rights and dignity as workers and citizens.

As far as democracy goes, I would suggest that if there are any concerns, people should question why large businesses join organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, who wage a ceaseless propaganda war against job security, decent wages, the environment, an equal society and so forth.

I don't believe the vast majority of employees of these businesses are asked if they wish to support organizations which act against the interests of the working class. Yet those employees are the people who create wealth for the business, and society. Where is the democracy there?
Victor Billot
(Communications Officer, Maritime Union of New Zealand)

All of this further underlines the lack of understanding by some on the Right of the democratic nature of unions. As I outlined in #3 of my union myths series, unions are quite different from businesses, in particular in regard to their decision-making structures.

Workers are entitled to make collective decisions about their lives. Get over it.

Related links:
Frogblog has a good response to the But-Whales-Are-Just-Like-Lambs argument, most recently propounded by Stephen Franks, but popping up all over the place lately.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

the union myths series - index

This, as the title says, is the index for my union myths series.

This prefaced the very first post in this series, way back in September 2005:

Around the traps I've seen a few comments over recent months which show the ignorance of many on the Right in regard to unions. I guess I shouldn't really expect them to know, given that they've probably never been in one, but in the interests of enlightenment, here is the first is a series of explanations for those bloggers who currently wallow in their ignorance and then spread it around.*


*and because I am too lazy/busy to continue to run around trying to deal to these misconceptions when they are popping up elsewhere.

Here are the actual posts to date:

This post, Labour ain't labour, is also related, although written prior to the start of the series, and I will be writing again on this theme in the near future.

Suggestions for future topics are welcome, on the back of a postcard* please.

*by which I mean in comments.

Friday, January 13, 2006

blogging today on Nat Rad

Heard just before the 8am news that there will be a panel discussion on blogging on National Radio today sometime during Summer Report (i.e. before 10am).

The snippet they played was Gordon Campbell or Mclaughlan (I always get them confused) talking about how things can get very nasty in the blogosphere very quickly.

Sorry I can't be more precise about the time, does anyone else have a better idea?

Also, in Nat Rad related items this morning, DPF has the news that Linda Clark is leaving Nine to Noon.

Update, 8.38am, 13/01/06: Ok it’s on now. Keith Ng of Public Address appears to be the only actual blogger, and the panel is all male (and I think all journalists, who of course aren’t that keen on blogs in general!). If they are archiving everything from Summer Report it should be available here quite soon.

Update, 12.18pm, 15/01/06: DPF's post on this has also created some interesting discussion, as has No Right Turn's Throwing rotten fruit at the blogosphere.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

pithy planned perusal of Prague post

Let the plucking continue (suggestions for Dubai here please).

Now I'm looking at Prague (and apparently so is some guy called Rod Steward) - we'll be there for 2.5 - 3 days and 3 nights in early May.

Current plan is:
Night before - arrive from Italy (no idea how exactly yet)

Day 1 - Approximately do the Royal Walking Tour (i.e. follow the route the Czech royals used to take to their castle) in reverse, starting at Prague Castle and taking in:

  • Sternbeck Palace
  • Strahov Monastery
  • Church of St Roch
  • Nerudova
  • Church of St Nicholas
  • Mala Strana Square
  • Charles Bridge
  • Klementium
  • Little Square
  • Old Town Hall & Square
  • Tyn Church & Court
  • St James Church
  • Hotel Pariz
  • Royal Court
  • Powder Tower
  • Municipal House
Yep, that's a lot - but I figure some of it won't take long and if there's anything we want more time for we can come back on Day 3. A lot of them are on the Prague Card too, so it shouldn't cost too much.

Day 2 - Day trip out to Karlstejn - I'm thinking it may be better to organise this ourselves than go with a tour company, it looks pretty easy and the tours I've looked at are not for very long (effectively about 3 hours in Karlstejn rather than making a day of it)

Day 3 - half-day/full-day taking in things we may have missed that we want to eg:

  • The Infant of Prague at the Church of Our Lady Victorious
  • Museum of Communism
  • John Lennon Wall
  • Lanterna Magika
  • Jewish Museum in Josefov
  • Lucerna Passage, to look at, amongst other things, the David Cerny artwork there
Then off to Germany that afternoon/night.

Are there any Czech specialities that ought to be eaten/drunk? So far I only know of one; svickova which has something to do with roast beef allegedly.

Not yet sure of the exact dates we'll be in Prague, but has anyone been there on May Day or the anniversary of the Czech Uprising (May 5th)? Does everything shut down on these days?

And another question - is the Prague Card worth it? It looks like a lot less hassle given how busy we are going to be.

Once again, thanks in advance, dear readers.

union myths - #4 unions just protect the incompetent

I hear these kinds of anecdotes all the time, mainly from people who haven't been in a union ever, or at least since the 1980s - someone was crap at their job (anything between mildly incompetent to dangerous conduct or work practice) and "The Union" saved them from getting fired.

When they are truly incompetent and the process is followed fairly, what "saved them from getting fired" often really means is that the union organiser involved has helped them to resign from their job before the axe fell, but often the outside observer doesn't know that part.

There are two general categories that workers tend to end up in the gun over:

  1. Competency - whether or not they can do key tasks required to do their job
  2. Conduct - stuff they do on the job that breaks policies or adversely affects workmates, eg sexual harassment, breaking the dress code, etc

In some cases these two areas are treated differently, but in many the procedure is simple and similar.

The person facing the complaint has certain rights, some of which have developed through case law, collective agreements and natural justice, while others are also protected in legislation:

  • fair notice of the specific allegation involved, and the likely consequences if the allegation is established. The allegation must also be dealt with in a timely manner, i.e. not sat on for months and months and "saved up" along with other complaints. To often I hear of situations where a worker is just called into the office by the boss one morning for no apparent reason and discovers when they sit down that they are facing a serious complaint.

  • the right to a defence - an opportunity for the worker to attempt to refute the allegation, or to explain or mitigate what happened. This includes making available to the worker any information being relied upon, eg witness statements, company policies, the identity of the complainant and any one else giving statements. The worker should have an opportunity to authenticate any statements made against them and also to respond to them, including telling the boss if they feel that the other person has an improper motive. The worker must also be given time to prepare their defence.

  • a proper and sufficient enquiry into the circumstances by unbiased investigator(s). And there must be an unbiased consideration of the worker's explanation by the decisionmaker - free from predetermination and uninfluenced by irrelevant consideration. It shouldn't need stating, but it unfortunately it does - the person making the complaint must not be the person deciding the outcome.

  • the right to representation - opportunity to seek and have present a representative of their choice during any disciplinary meetings, eg delegate, union organiser, lawyer, stroppy friend

  • justification - the boss must be able to prove that any disciplinary action taken against a worker is both reasonable and fair in the circumstances. Any punishment must not only fit the crime, it must also be consistent with similar outcomes at that workplace in the past.

Overall, all procedures leading up to discpinlinary action must be done in a fair manner, procedurally.

Every disciplinary I have seen reasonably closely to date has had at least one flaw in terms of the rights listed above. Most commonly, in my experience, workers are not given copies of statements the boss has from other people and when they are given them is expected to respond on the spot. Despite the flaws though, the union organiser and the member will generally try to fix the problem with the process rather than let it go on so that they can challenge the result later.

If you don't go through a fair process then the outcome can be overturned - this is usually what happens in a case where someone "gets off" when to the outside observer it might look like they ought to have been fired.

It's quite simple really - it is possible to fire people in NZ, and it does happen. But if the boss doesn't treat the worker fairly then they open themselves, and their business or organisation, to liability - either through a payout or re-instatement.

So rather than blaming unions for incompetent people continuing in their work, how about looking at the processes that are used by bosses to try to move people on? And think about how you would feel if you were the person facing the firing squad.

Previous posts in this series:
- union myths - #1 compulsory membership
- union myths - #2 all unionists want to be Rick Barker
- union myths - #3 unions are just like businesses

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

soprano sung his last song?

I know it's only been a few days since he said he'd be back, but perhaps Andy Soprano has seen the light over the break and decided to abandon his piracy attempt?

Monday, January 09, 2006

bring back the politicians

I feel like i haven't written a political post in weeks and weeks, there's just so little happening that moves me to write.


I heard Bill English on the radio again this evening attacking NCEA. "Defending the indefensible" were the words he used (about the new NZQA head's role in regard to NCEA) - and it was his actual voice, not a newsreader saying "Mr English says etc".

As Apathy Jack has pointed out in his excellent recent post on NCEA, the system that English is so scathing about (ad infinitum, ad nauseum) was actually proposed and introduced by National.

I've already whined about Bill's tendency to inaccuracy and hypocrisy over on Just Left, but I felt it was important to start the new year on the right note - pointing out how National's dreary vision for NZ's educational insitutions often seems to be based on urban myths about how the various systems operate and where they came from. The education stuff is additionally frustrating because from people I know who have met English, even about education issues, he genuinely does know about it all and even understand bits, he just seems to forget when it comes to his media work.

Obviously Bill's New Year's resolution wasn't to remember his party's history.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dubai recommendations kindly accepted here

Seeing as you are all a very worldly, well-travelled bunch (collectively at least) I'm going to be gently plucking your grey matter about various destinations that I'm going to later this year.

First up is Dubai - going to be there for 3 days and 3 nights in late March.

Currently on the Possibly Do/See list are:

  • Day trip to Al-Ain/Buraimi Oasis - visit the Livestock Souq, the Hili Gardens and the Al-Ain Museum
  • Go for a ride on the Creek and watch the shipping traffic
  • Visit the historic homes on the waterfront in the Bastakia Quarter
  • Go to the Dubai Museum
  • Swan around Sheikh Saeed al-Maktoum House and the neighbouring Heritage and Diving villages
  • Try to avoid spending any money in the Deira and Gold Souqs
  • Splash around at the Wild Wadi Waterpark
Recommendations for food and beds much appreciated - I'm having problems finding accommodation. I've fired off emails to a whole host of budget and mid-range places and have so far had few replies and best deal to date is approx NZ$100 a night for the two of us. The YHA hostel hasn't responded at all...

note to cactus kate

Blogger has helpfully posted an article about What to do When Your Mum Discovers Your Blog.

Just in case.

Friday, January 06, 2006

new year, new me!

well new blog colour scheme anyway - last time there were suggestions (read: complaints) that there wasn't enough red. i think that's pretty much rectified now.

also I've started a new blog to chronicle my forthcoming travels, tentatively called travelspan, but there won't be much of interest there until late March.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

take one for the team

Nominations for the 2006 Bloggies have opened (Hat Tip: No Right Turn).

I had a quick flick through the nominees for all the past Bloggies (awarded annually since 2001) and there seem to be hardly any NZ ones in the NZ & Australian category and certainly no NZ political blogs, so let's make 2006 our year to get a nominee up, of whatever political shade!

It's ridiculously easy to nominate, you just need to scroll down and put in the blog's name and its url and add your email right at the bottom of the page.

No excuses to exclude this excellent (albeit brief) time waster from your Summer Procrastination routine!

a little Laws Watch hilarity

I don't totally get everything they write on Laws Watch, the website dedicated to opposing Michael Laws' mayoralty down in the fair town of Wanganui. I suspect it's because I don't get all the code names they use, not being a local and thus not being overly interested in their local body politics.

But the picture they have up in this article about conspiracy theories is well worth a look-see (just give it a few seconds to start doing its magic).

some technical advice please

Digital cameras - we are aiming to get a new one before leaving on our trip overseas in a few months and there seem to be some good deals* around at the moment.

Basically neither of us are very camera savvy, we just need something that can point, zoom and shoot, and preferably upload easily to the internet directly, or to CD so that we can save and send home. Sony is desirable as we already have two memory cards for those cameras.

So what I'd like some advice on is:
- how many megapixels? I'm thinking over 5 is sufficient for our needs (printing out as 6 x 4, maybe the odd enlargement a little bigger, and posting on the internet) - smallish files are important in terms of space and emailing home.

- zoom - I'm thinking a 3x optical zoom will be just dandy. Do I need to care if it's "Carl Zeiss" or not?

- are there any other bits and bobs that it is particularly handy for the camera to have?

Thanks in advance my wise blog readers :-)

* I'm particularly taken by the Sony DSCW5 which Farmers has for $499 at the moment

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

it's not surreal it's blog death

Further to this post speculating about the future of About Town, it looks as if it is well and truly dead - sometime between the last post that Bloglines registered at 1.57pm (from Kate, didn't mention anything about a shut-down, just said she was off to Denmark and Germany and back at work on the 18th) and now.

Although I know they pissed off a lot of people with the AJ Chesswas Conceptual Art Project I will definitely miss them, even if they do all pop up somewhere else in different guises (eg Kete Were) - About Town was an interesting mix.

On the plus side this may mean that this blog goes up one on Tumeke's Aotearoa blogocracy list (see sidebar).

survival of the fittest

Hat Tip: Zedley (off-blog)

The Daily Kos has announced it's Golden Gould Award finalists for 2006 - to recognise and honour evolution deniers in all their bizarre glory. Kos lists the top ten sincere objections to evolutionary biology that it has genuinely spotted on the internet in the last year.

My favourites are:

5. DS I'm hoping you won't be like the others and we can have a nice two-way discussion were we each listen to the other persons. As long as you understand that evolutionists have no proof and just the tail on an amoeba is proof of intelligent design and that's my view and I don't really care to read yours.

4. Evolution? Isn't that what Osama ben Laden believes in? Isn't that what the Taliban teaches in their madroseos? Nice company you keep, terrorist.

2. Most mammals contain DNA similaities because mammals eat other mammals.

In short, a list of individuals who benefit greatly from the fact we breathe automatically.

unfortunate acronym matches #1

Found on Wikipedia - MILF in the Western sense, versus MILF in the Islamic sense...

Oh dear.

does my party look big in this?

DPF has posted his thoughts on the leaked memo from Act President Catherine Judd, but what I find interesting is what he left out of his summary; mention of Judd's views on Brash's leadership:

"Don Brash looks unlikely to last long and it is assumed that National will move to the left, creating a Bolger-type National Party, led by a Birch-like John Key."
Generally, suggestions that Brash's days are numbered are ridiculed by commenters on Kiwiblog, and of course Judd may be guilty of wishful thinking - if Brash is no longer leader and National vacates Act's part of the spectrum so much the better for her party.

The part of the memo that surprised me was Judd's analysis of Act's relationship with the Maori Party:

"Relations with the Maori Party are positive and friendly. We should be alongside them but opposed to the Maori seats."
Maybe the Maori Party MPs are just being nice to everyone, as the new kids on the block? I hope they understand that Act are not their friends (actually, there are no friends, it's politics). Judd's statement reminds me of how the Right at AUSA would draw off susceptible centre-lefties.

And how does all this talk of making Act "look bigger" gel with Coddington's comment in her recent Herald on Sunday column that "size does matter"?

Related link:
Audrey Young on the memo - Act trying to look bigger than two MPs

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Just because it's been a while.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

own goals

I never used to make New Year's Resolutions, but in the last few years I've found them a useful way to give myself a bit of a kick in the arse.

My round up of 2005's attempts at self improvement was posted yesterday, so today must be the day to make some new own goals.

1. To start swimming once a week - I joined the particular gym I'm at partly because it has a pool but I've never had the guts to use it. I love swimming, although my technique is appalling, but being in a swimsuit brings up all those body image issues. I need to get over it. Hoping to go on Sunday mornings, when The Man in the Comfy Chair is at church.

2. To start learning te reo - like Pink Panda, I've put this on my list for 2006. I need a buddy to come on one of those reasonably intensive courses that AUT offers - Emburger I'm looking at you... But I can't start until I get back from my mini OE in July. So it's really a Second Half of the Year Resolution.

3. To eat breakfast - it just fell out of my routine back in T' Day at university, when I was going in to uni ridiculously early. Now the absence of the first meal of the day is creating problems. The Man in the Comfy Chair has been nagging me about this for years, so at the least it might make him a bit happier. The plan is to start breakfasting whenever I go to the gym before work and expand from there.

4. To take my lunch to work most days - I currently spend a fortune on lunches, mostly from the excellent deli in Kingsland, The Fridge, now that Savour has shut it's cafe. The problem is that I don't like sandwiches. Pastas and pita pockets are ok though. I've bought myself some spiffy coloured sandwich bags as a motivator (obviously won't be putting actual sandwiches in them however).

5. To make some decisions about my political activism outside work - I've been in a holding pattern over the last year really. I've found that the political work that my job requires has been enough to a) keep me happy and b) exhaust me too much to pursue much else. I think I really need to decide this year what my involvement can be outside of my job, and where that energy is best spent.

You can read about too. Plus there's the WSFA's resolutions for a variety of Sci Fi related persons (real and imagined) which may amuse Maia in particular.