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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Fun and sun

Well after my isn't-it-nice-and-warm-and-sunny Autumn post it appears I have broken the Auckland weather.

Sorry about that.

To make amends here is a pic to remind us all what summer is like, before we forget it entirely.

Taken at the Orpheus Festival, 6th Feb 2007.

Growing profits through diminishing workers

I'm a bit late to this party, but the EPMU Our Media campaign is still just warming up, to protest the redundancies at TVNZ and in other parts of the NZ media.

Andrew Little makes a good point in a media statement about the out-sourcing of sub-editing at APN:

"This is a dark day for our members but also for news and democracy in New Zealand. APN already makes tens of millions of dollars in profit out of this country, now they're trying to squeeze out a little more and it's going to come at the cost of decent jobs and news quality."
Businesses, and their bosses, seem to be solely about maximising profit these days. There appears to be no other role for them, from their own point of view. And the bigger a company gets the more divorced its management is from the actual workers who do the work; the more expendable those people become in the thirst to win at Greed.

I was very sad to hear last week about Sleepyhead and Fisher & Paykel moving significant parts of their manufacturing offshore. As with Air NZ's recent round of job cuts, I feel as if we could never keep these jobs when the motivation to axe them is grounded in bigger profits no matter what. We have never been able to "compete" with cheap labour in countries with appalling work conditions. And we shouldn't try. To me it is shameful that companies that are actually doing fine are moving offshore anyway, to exploit workers where unions are busted or corrupt, fire exits are painted on, and they can get away with paying people $20 a day.

It's not exactly the caring face of business is it?

(Pic Via)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Across the universe

In honour of The Actor Most Commonly Known as Scotty's ashes being sent into space, here's a shot of a dejected pretend cosmonaut.

Just 'cos I can.


Recently we have had the strange spectacle of John Key, National party leader, pretending to make nicey nice with Sue Bradford, sponsor of the bill to repeal s59 of the Crimes Act, and Helen Clark*. Ostensibly this was all about finding a "compromise" on the issue of child discipline - one that would put at ease all those parents scarified by National and others into thinking that they were going to end up in the Big House for even thinking about tapping their child on the hand if the bubs was about to stick pins in their own eyes.

What frustrated me about this whole political set-piece was the complete and utter reinvention of history. Not ancient history, quite recent history really. Key was portrayed as the gentle obliging man seeking consensus**, while Bradford and Clark were the staunch, cold-hearted women who would never ever bend.

But actually Bradford has already compromised significantly, in the Select Committee process. She went in with a member's bill to repeal s59. Full stop. You can see this quite clearly in the Select Committee report - the substance of the original member's bill read:

Domestic Discipline
Section 59 is repealed.
Yes folks, that was it.

When the bill came out the other end though it was not only quite a bit longer, it was also significantly different. Bradford made significant compromises in those Select Committee meetings - anyone who puts the original bill alongside what Parliament are soon to vote on can see that clearly. Yes, the new bill repeals the existing s59, but it then replaces it with a new section - it is no longer full repeal, far from it.

Despite this fact the National minority position from the Select Committee states the following:

The National party members were disappointed that few submitters would consider
any other option than full repeal.
Those submitters, the ones in favour of full repeal of s59, include a vast list of national and regional organisations drenched in parents and dealing on a daily basis with real families. WebWeaver has a handy list of these groups, which really shows the width of support the Bill has amongst those dedicated to practical everyday support for children and those raising them.

Those organisations are now backing the new Bill, which is clearly not full repeal; that's right they are supporting the compromise. They have decided that what came out of the Select Committee will be sufficient, that they will may concessions in the interest of improving the law we have now. But they can only be pushed so far.

Key must surely know that. He must be aware that compromise has already happened, and that actually that is what the Select Committee process is often about. A cynic might think Key only put up his generous attempt at compromise because he knew it would fail.

Sadly the media hasn't exactly fallen over itself to point out the compromises that Bradford et al have already made. They have also failed to point out that Key has been playing a game to taint Labour, and in particular Clark - why meet only with Bradford and Clark? Surely it would have made more sense to meet with just Bradford, as the actual Member in that Member's Bill, or alternatively with representatives from all the parties supporting the current Bill, not just two of them.

John Key's attempt to find an imaginary middle ground was compromised at conception. It's a shame it hasn't been widely exposed as such.

* You may remember her from such things as her eight year stint as Prime Minister of our country, or telly interviews beyond number, or maybe her spot on National Radio presenting The Prime Minister's Music.
** That would be a consensus that was impossible anyway. I'm all for consensus politics, but sometimes you just have to vote, particularly in a big collective like the whole country.

(Pic Via)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Work shouldn't be a death sentence

Today, April 28th, is International Workers' Memorial Day. As I'm sure you already know, it's the day when we remember all those killed or hurt on the job, and also highlight the importance of health and safety in the workplace because so many of those incidences are in fact preventable.

What's that? You didn't know? But it was all over the papers! On every telly station they covered the alarming number of workplace deaths and interviewed talking heads about the need to take health and safety seriously! Oh, wait...

Well, it's on the Council of Trade Unions website anyway. And it looks like it's a much bigger deal overseas.

So it should be. People deserve to be safe on the job. Obviously there is some work that is going to be dangerous no matter what, but every precaution that can be taken should be. Bosses should not be making choices between profit or safety and the role of Government is to ensure this through passing appropriate legislation and enforcing it. Where the State's machinery is lacking* unions should take on the leadership role in lobbying for improvements and monitoring it themselves, not to mention organising around these issues.

When I was at school I had a friend whose father was a wharfie. He had a big family - she was the youngest of nine kids. He was killed on the wharves a few weeks before retirement. All my working life, starting at the age of 13, I've worked in jobs that most people would consider "safe". But there have always been hidden risks. Even when I worked in a bookstore I had a close call - a shelf fell down from a high-up storage area, missing my head by about an inch. If it had brained me I possibly wouldn't be typing this now. It hadn't been properly secured, everyone just thought it would be ok. Luckily it was.

I worry too about the invisible risks and the damage we can't see - in particular the stress that we now seem to see as an accepted part of modern mahi, and the mental illness which is always explained away by non-work related factors. I read once that the life expectancy for school principals after they retire is about six months. I have no idea if it's true, but if it is then that is shocking. I wonder about the rates of cancer, strokes, heart disease, depression and other illnesses exacerbated by stress. Not to mention Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related conditions - those affected often seem to have lived lives saturated in stress.

Workplace danger, be it overt or covert, seems to me to be a part of our system that we can't completely expunge. In Aotearoa we have brought in a democratic structure around the issue, but my perception is that it hasn't really been adopted outside of those industries commonly seen as perilous. Unions haven't always taken advantage of the opportunities health and safety issues give to organise and achieve positive change. And I can understand some of the reasons why - for example, workplace bullying, which I see as a leading cause of illnesses caused by the work environment, is not illegal and is difficult to fight. Ultimately the system we work under isn't one that can eliminate all the preventable illnesses and deaths - because actually money comes first.

Maia asked in one of her recent posts about Anzac Day why we don't have a memorial day for those killed in the workplace. The answer is we do, we just don't remember it.

* So basically everywhere, all the time. To be honest I don't think we can rely on governments to do this stuff for us - as workers we need to look after ourselves, together.

(Pic Via)


Taken on Oakley Creek Walkway, April 2007

It has been like an extended summer here in the Queen City,* as the good weather has gone on and on and it still isn't even that cold. The horrible rainy days have largely been restricted to times when I have had out-of-town people visiting. But surely the sunshine can't last much longer...

*I actually don't know if Auckland is the Queen City. But it ought to be.

Reminder - your Blog Stats due Tuesday!

This month I'd like to start encouraging people to contribute not only their stats but also what they consider their best post of the month. This is a chance for you to highlight your proudest moment in your April blogging, so please do send the URL of your best post along with the other stats. If you choose not to that's fine as well, I'll just put in a link to your blog instead.

To ensure publication in the first attempt at the April Bloggage post please be sure to email in your stats (to spanblather at gmail dot com) as follows:
  • Subject: April Bloggage
  • Blog Name
  • Blog URL
  • x posts (required), y comments (desired)
  • URL of your best post for April if you are so inclined
by 6pm May 1st (that would be Tuesday then).

Ta muchly,

PS Here are March stats in case you are in need of a reminder of what this is about.

(Pic Via)

XX in an XY world - Take Back the Blog Day

For Take Back the Blog Day, 28th April 2007. You can visit the host page of this blogswarm here, and my past post on the point of it over here.

In the New Zealand political blogosphere women are few and far between. There's more than there were when I started in 2004, but still as bloggers and commenters we are vastly outnumbered, whether left, right or something else entirely.

Mentioning the prevailing atmosphere, which is often hostile to feminist bloggers and women in other roles, and the frequently misogynistic climates encouraged by other nz pol bloggers (*cough* Kiwiblog *cough*) is unpopular and leads to more trouble than you already bought just by being openly XX in an XY world.

In a way the nz pol blogosphere is a reflection of the real world, although the arseholes are distilled and less avoidable. Often they come to you, and then if you tell them to leave you alone they get all "freedom of speech" on you and sometimes they start publishing your home address, emailing you disgusting things, generally making your life a misery. How do you get a restraining order online? And why should anyone need to anyway?

Kim from Larvatus Prodeo, an Australian pol blogger, nails it for me:

Let me just say that bullying existed before cyber bullying, pron* existed before the intertubes, teenagers were writing angsty poetry before typewriters, and subcultures existed before Myspace. All this technology blaming obscures the fact that technology is an enabler - and what it enables is a mirror of its environment.

After all, in the real world rape is blamed on the victim and rapists are excused, just as it is here in the virtual. Sexism is wrapped up in "satire" and presented shamelessly for giggles, and those who don't laugh must be lacking a sense of humour - here the same as there. In everyday life women's bodies are frequently objectified for commercial purposes and judged by their appearance, just as they are on some Aotearoa pol blogs. Anti-woman agendas are promoted on the interweb just as they are on the street, despite clear evidence that refutes their faux-science or exposure of how their stats are as dodgy as all get out. And don't even start me on the bizarre real and online outcomes when racism and sexism combine.**

Kim has some hope to deliver too, thankfully:

But it also enables the contestation of that society, as the feminist blogosphere for instance tries to do, and the anger and angst and abuse that arises in response is not something new either.

Yes challenge is happening, and yes the response to those challenges is frequently unpleasant. Some seem to be so used to operating in a blogosphere that is almost uniformly white and male (and I would say in the NZ context politically skewed to the right) that any deviation from those viewpoints is not only incomprehensible, it is also only to be countered with dismissive abuse. I tend not to visit blogs where that is the culture encouraged and/or allowed by the host, but I know I should try harder and call them on it there just as I do here.

I've already ranted about this recently - if we want to change things, we need to be involved. We need to not shy away from political blogging because it is hard and nasty at times. It sounds pretentious, and I can't remember who said it, but I guess we need to "be the change we want to see in the world". If we want more diversity*** in our blogosphere then we need to be more welcoming to it - which I guess is why some of the recent discussions about codes of conduct and the like have come up.

Now that we're all "Web 2.0" perhaps folks are starting to realise that actually a lot of people, a lot of different people, have been left out of our online political discourse. Hopefully we are starting to see that this is to the detriment of us all.

* By this she means porn. It's a way to get around people finding your blog by searching for porn terms, which is rather distressing as I've recently discovered. Ultimately though if someone comes here looking for porn they are going to be a) disappointed and b) possibly exposed to some scary feminist views they might not have otherwise seen. That's my naive hope anyway.
** All of the links in this paragraph are to posts disputing the sexist position. This is quite deliberate.

*** And not just more women either, I'm disconcerted by the only very slight increase in non-white nz pol bloggers in the nearly three years I've been blogging here. And even though there are a lot of queer bloggers there is still a very strong heterosexual assumption in comments and posting in these parts. More women, different ethnicities and non-heteros are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the diversity I'd like to see.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Kindly help out a city-bound blogger

Further to the discussion here about liking sheep, and not cows who run at you...

Is this a cow or a bull?
Cos it wasn't very happy with me, and then my arm wasn't very happy with its head.
Thanks in advance for your assistance with this matter.

Hate something? Change something!

And so it has come to pass that there is an internal political battle within the youth wing of one of New Zealand's political parties. Because that never happened before, in the history of Aotearoa's politics, it is being reported and discussed far* and wide.

Many moons ago, when I was up to my ears in student politics, I knew a really quite nice young man who was a Young Nat. For some time I didn't know of his political affiliation, I just knew that he was very concerned about the environment which I thought admirable, and a bit sexist which irritated me. He certainly didn't seem like the National type, even Old National. When I found out that he was a Young Nat I remember being very surprised indeed, and blurting out this shock in the form of a question, quite possibly surrounded by swear words which I have erased from my memory. I asked him why and he responded with a statement that has always stuck with me in sentiment if not the exact words.

The gist of it was that in order to change something you need to be involved in it. I couldn't really argue with that, although I did wonder after that if perhaps he was in fact more politically conservative than he liked to portray in front of me. Time bore out that he was, but his point still stands.

It's one of the reasons I've stuck with some of the political groups I've been involved with even when I've been unhappy - because I can't change them from the outside.

Political parties, and activist groups, are often tough environments. They attract people who are interested in debate, and in power, and feel passionately about their causes. There are others who join for more social reasons - because their friends or family are involved, and they find belonging to the group socially rewarding. Still others may care vaguely about the broad principles of the party but actually are really looking for a group to do volunteer work for, and political parties certainly provide plenty of outlet for those who relish the achievement of organising good fundraisers and the like.

When you put all of these people together in a room some will fight. I think debate within political parties is healthy - it shows a party organisation that is vibrant, attracting new people, and not afraid to challenge old ideas (either to prove their worth or replace them). I remember several times in my varied political involvement when I've thought I was going to lose an argument or a vote, but I said to my allies, let's do it anyway. Because I thought having the debate was almost as important as winning - and we couldn't win now, or in the future, if we shied away from the political confrontation forever.

If I didn't think change could happen I would have given up political activism by the end of my second year, and my blog would have died two years ago. Persistance is a necessary characteristic in anyone who wants to make change. The ability to be resilient and return to the fray when you are ready is what has put many of our most successful people where they are today, and not just in politics either.

I don't believe that a single person can make a difference to the culture or outlook of a group, but by working with others you can make change. Even bad changes happen because the person with destructive behaviour wins others over to their cause - if they were alone and ignored they would be sidelined and their attempts rebuffed. Collectivity is the key.

I can understand the frustration of trying to make change and losing, especially if you are trying alone. But if we all packed up our kit bags and moved on every time we lost an argument then we'd never get anywhere. We would never have made homosexuality legal, never changed our society's attitude towards drink driving, and we'd never make up with our parents or partners after a fight. Rape would still be legal within marriage, Maori cultural practices still outlawed, and left handers would be having their writing hands tied behind their backs by sadistic teachers as I type.

Sometimes it is time to walk away, but until then - you need to be playing the game to win it.

* Why precisely people trust and believe the writings about this kind of thing from someone who has a strong interest in making Labour look bad is quite beyond me. Look for the agenda here folks! Read the comment thread for more accurate re-tellings from people who were actually there.

(Pic via)

Linky Love - Volume 14

Standard intro - if you have a post of your own, or some else's, that you'd like to highlight please feel free to add it in comments, or to discuss the above posts, or indeed most anything else.

a bird and a bottle - On the Feminization of Poverty - Bean unpacks an Alternet article which states that 70% of those living in poverty, worldwide, are female.

the blonde canadian - Pure intentions? - -k turns her insightful mind to one of my latest obsessions, Purity Balls.

Born on State Highway One -Quid Auclandium faciam? - Tama Boyle bids a fond farewell to Herald columnist Garth George.

Feministe - We're getting tired of prying your guns for your cold, dead hands - Jill debunks the line that enabling "vulnerable" women to have guns for self-defense is a feminist stance.

Feministe - "Pro-Life" Mississippi has highest of infant mortality rate in the nation - Jill reports on the US state which is allegedly "safest for the unborn child" yet has appalling statistics for chidren, and argues that this appears to be a wider trend amongst "pro-life" states.

Ilyka Damen - Some Thoughts on What Beauty is Mything - gennimcmahon examines her own internal contradictions and reasons that they come from her "deep connection to a culture that says that a good woman doesn’t believe herself to be attractive, no matter what." Let's just say, she's not alone.

The Legal Soapbox - Potter Schmotter - Legal Eagle explains why she finds the Harry Potter books so insufficient that she hasn't even read Book 6. (This one's for you, Apathy Jack.)
Me - My Opinions! Noisy! - disturbed kiwi disagrees with the recent BRT column in the Herald claiming that Working For Families and similar schemes discourage people from earning more.

Pandagon - President-for-Life Sheelzebub institutes her new Stumbling Block Prevention Program - Sheelzebub comes up with some novel ideas to resolve the problem women's bodies seem to pose for some men.

Parrot on Policy - Civic Virtue - Policy Parrot looks at why our political cynicism has increased and some ways we could fight it.

soapbox spinsters - updates and reflections from town hall - movingtargets covers the recent controversy in Western Ontario (and through-out many of the US and Canadian feminist blog) over a Not Funny "satire" piece in her University's student newspaper.

The Techsploder - Fisk on Wikipedia and Web hate campaigns - Juha highlights and discusses an article by Robert Fisk about the impact of internet hate-mongering and the difficulty of finding the truth online.

What We Said - French election update - mandarine explains why he's voting for a woman.

(Pic Via)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not a bird, not a plane, no it's Super Earth!

I always get absurdly excited about the prospect of frontier adventures. These days space is the place*, although of course we can only really think about it - look but don't touch.

I think my eagerness comes from the idea of being able to go somewhere new and create something from scratch. It's probably one of the reasons I'm so attracted to Battlestar Galactica's new series, and have really enjoyed other sci-fi stuff based around building new societies. Not to mention settler fiction, from times of Yore here in Aotearoa and overseas.

Recently I read a book by Anita Diamant called The Last Days of Dogtown. Although it's about the death of a small US town in the 1800s, it really struck a cord with me, even though it really shouldn't have given what I've just written above. But what was so attractive was the notion that as the town was dying new people could move in and just claim land, without upsetting anyone or displacing someone else, and then do with it whatever you could. Reading Diamant's words I would dream about what I would do if I had the time and the skills to shape and sculpt a piece of land, and the small society around it. I'd overcome difficulties, I'd come up with creative solutions, I'd become physically hardened and able to cope with myriad hardships.

Yes I'd probably not enjoy washing the laundry by hand, or having to kill my own meat. Which is where I come back to the sci-fi pioneering as my ideal. If we had the technology to travel to another planet in my life time then surely we would also be able to do all that labour saving stuff, whilst still maintaining sufficient ruggedness for me to feel I was creating something truly new and unique?

I can understand the spirit that drew my ancestors when they came across the world to this country they knew so little about. I can see the limitless potential of being there at the start, somewhere so new and raw that my footprints might be the first ever made in that spot. I can tell that I'll never get that chance, but I can still dream.

*I think Super Earth is a dumb name. I mean come on, it's a whole new planet, can we be a little more imaginative than just naming it after the one we already have? Astronomers, sheesh!

(Pic Via)


Over on What We Said Emily has written about the thought processes behind women changing, or not changing, their names when they marry.

I have to say this is one custom I sincerely hopes dies a death as civil unions become more prevalent and the old marital traditions, based on the transfer of ownership of the bride, fade into the past.

I've heard a lot of arguments about why women should change their names over the years. They generally boil down to the concept that you want to have the same last name as your husband, and your children, so you change your surname to match his.* For some the rationale for this seems to be that you can't be a "family" if any of the members in it have different last names from the others.

To that I say phooey.

I remember pretty clearly when I first met some kids who had a different last name from their mum. I was about nine and the family in question were a brother and sister plus mother. I never got the reason, or don't remember, why Dad wasn't around, but I tell you what, different names made absolutely no difference, they were most certainly a family. I recall fondly the times spent camping with them, and the obvious love and affection that was peppered with the usual familial fighting. I suspect Mum felt the judgement on her for having her "own" name, but she was a strong woman who I admired, and I'm sure she was more than up to the challenge.

I guess from a young age whenever I thought about this idea that all the family members had to have matching monikers I remembered this multi-named unit and thought otherwise.

And I also thought of my own relations too. I knew that if I married and took my husband's name my parents and my sibling would still be part of my family, despite the break in naming monotony. When my sister wed and changed her name we were all still related, weren't we?

For that matter if I ran into someone else with the same surname, who I had never met before in my life and wasn't related to at all, would that make us instantly family? After all, we have that oh-so-crucial relation-creating bond - the same "family" name on our birth certificates.

For me families are defined by other, much more important things that are shared - love, history, and an obligation to spend money on each other at the major religious festival of your society's dominant culture. Familial bonds are formed through blood or chosen unions, but names do not need to play a part in that. They can if you want, but I don't think people should feel that they are somehow less a part of a family if they don't all share a surname.

I know some readers think I'm seeing anti-women bogeys all around these days**, but surely this is beyond arguing with? It's a tradition based on women as chattels and marriages as property transactions. One of the few remaining vestiges of the bad origins of marriage is this changing of names, signfying the changing of ownership.

If we want to make marriage something that isn't about subjugating women to men then we need to change these traditions. Women need to only change their name if they want to, and men (and their families) need to stop pressuring women to come into their fold.

And all you other people out there, you can kindly desist from casting aspersions on XXers who keep their names and sniggering behind the backs of the XYers who marry them.


*I think I have heard once, ever, of the couple considering the man changing his name to hers, although I believe it may be gaining popularity in California.
** As if I wasn't before!! ;-)

(Pic Via)

Please pledge

Idiot/Savant has started a pledge-bank for lobbying the Government in favour of the repeal of sedition. You can read his original post here, or you can just go straight to the pledge-bank and sign up to write a letter to the relevant Government Minister, Mark Burton.

What a fine idea, I haven't exercised my political letter-writing muscles for a while!

(Pic Via)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Not Forgetting - Anzac Blogging Roundup

Herein lie all the blog posts I've found so far for this Anzac Day, 25th April 2007. All NZ unless otherwise noted.

Reports on various events:
ANZAC Day in Devonport - Juha was there
Anti war protest in Auckland - John has pictures from the Dawn Ceremony at the Auckland War Memorial
ANZAC Day - welly_girl was watching the telly coverage of various dawn services.
ANZAC Dawn Service - Chris was in London
Wellington Anzac Day Protest - anarchafairy
Opposition to War on ANZAC Day - John has reports and photos from around NZ and also Australia.
Early morning for Otautahi Cats! - jo has a pic from the Christchurch vigil.

Reflections & opinion:
ANZAC Day must be opposed - anarchafairy
The Anzac Spirit - me (Span) responding to anarchafairy
I really want to know - Maia continues the conversation of the previous two posts, and has cross-posted this at Alas.
Anzac Day 2007 - Jordan Carter
Thanks Old People - Apathy Jack posted something Eric Olthwaite wrote at some point in the past
Lest We Forget - the blonde canadian (Canadian)
Anzac Day: Dawn Parade - The Strategist
Wally of the Week - Judith Collins - Chris awards this for Anzac Day-related reasons.
Dawn Service - DPF
More on ANZAC Day - DPF again
Shameful Disrespect - Adolf Fiinkensein
Lest we forget - Zen Tiger
ANZAC Day - morgue
A Simple Test - more from anarchafairy
ANZAC Day - trs
Honour the Dead., No More Wars - There Is A Time And Place For Everything!! - James Sleep
Damage of war makes Clark "sick" - James Sleep
Top Ten Reasons Helen skipped the Dawn Service - Cactus Kate
has this place become permanently infested with socialist apologists and historical revisionists? - Pyscho Milt
In 'lest we forget' we forget too many - Joe Hendren
Po Whakamutunga - dagcentral (USA)
One sleep to go - David Slack
ANZAC Dawn Service, Wellington 2007 - Phil
ANZAC Anarchists; short-sighted, ignorant - Phil
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda - Make Tea Not War
what the? - Che Tibby
Lynch and Tillman and ANZAC protest - morgue
Already forgotten - Maia
Anzac Day - Eric Othlwaite
The car is broken and we're all well spoken - amarynth
(no title) - buzzandhum

Poetry & similar:
Anzac Day, Devonport - a contribution from Kevin Ireland posted by Craig Ranapia
Anzac Day - doddery old fart has the words of Ataturk which are carved in stone above Anzac Cove.
Anzac Day - The Strategist has 'For the Fallen'
Lest We Forget - tigtog has 'For the Fallen' and an open discussion thread about the day (Australian)
On Anzac Day - we will remember them - Webweaver has rather a range of related poems.

If your post is missing please feel free to add it in comments, and if I get a chance I'll add it in.

Updated, 5.54pm 25th April - added second post from DPF, posts by AF, w_g, ZT, morgue. Updated, 1.13pm 26th April - added two more posts from anarchafairy, posts by Chris, trs, JS (x2), Cactus Kate, PM, JH, dagcentral
Updated, 6.19pm 26th April - added posts by DS, Phil (x2), MTNW, CT, EO, jo, second posts from morgue, John and Maia.
Updated, 9.50am 27th April - added posts by amarynth, b&h and O-B.
Updated, 10.29am 29th April - added post by Webweaver

Thanks to morgue for hunting posts down too!

(Pic taken walking on Anzac Cove, April 2006)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Union Myths #6 - Unions just go on strike all the time

We've all heard it, at some point in our lives, possibly from our parents or at our workplaces; all those bloody unions do is go on strike all the time, bunch of useless troublemakers.

Well I beg to differ. (Don't act all surprised now.)

Unions, and union members, do a lot more than strike. There are many unionised workplaces who probably haven't been on strike in the last decade. In fact, the gossip reports that work stoppages (i.e. industrial action, including strikes but also other tactics) fell by nearly a third from the previous year. Not only were there less stoppages in 2006 than in 2005, there were less work days lost, despite the 25 day lock-out of union members at Progressive Enterprises.

Here are a few other things unions do:

All of these aspects of unionism, and strikes too, are membership activities. A union is its members, and although some are bureaucratic and daunting to the newcomer all give their members a voice - within the union as well as to the outside world.

Yes unions strike, when they need to. It's a tactic of last resort in most cases, although sometimes you have a pretty good inkling before bargaining starts that you'll probably have to look at industrial action. There are strict legal rules around striking, or taking other forms of industrial action, and actually the legal windows when you can strike are quite limited. Long gone are the days of being able to down tools because you don't like the tea, if they ever existed in the first place.

Workers don't get paid when they are on strike, and while it can be a very exciting and invigorating time it's also a hard slog for everyone involved. In my experience union members don't vote to strike lightly. Most of the time workers aren't on strike, they're just doing their jobs, and being union in other ways entirely.

Previous posts in the Union Myths series:

(Pic Via.)

It's not kitty porn, it's art I tell you!

Lordy lordy, I cannot believe that with all this yapping about cat blogging I've only posted one pic of Mara this month! I must be suffering from a strange affliction, I shall take myself immediately off to bed with a lemon honey drink and a hot water bottle, I assure you all.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tricky Trackbacks

Many's the time that I've linked to another post and then I go look at it and my post isn't coming up in the Links to this Post section, even after a few days. Here's an example, where a commenter says they found the post through this blog, but there's no automatic linky love down the bottom of the page.

This is starting to get me down. I don't expect the blogger to notice I've linked to them and add it in, but I would have hoped that the mysterious interweb pick-up thing worked for Spanblather as well as it seems to work for other Blogger blogs.

I'm not sniffing conspiracy here - do readers have any tips on what I am doing wrong?

(Pic Via)

Gore to run for White House?

Nickname Pending has long had a theory that Al Gore will make a bid for the Democratic nomination for 2008, and Craig at Celsias has a newspaper report that may prove him right...

As I suspect Hilary Clinton and Gore do not get on, that would rather scupper the possibility of that VP-P combination, but Obama and Gore, who knows?

Abstinence or Bust!

Over at Pandagon, Amanda has applied herself to the weird reasoning that some anti-choice people seem to have, specifically that those who perform abortions are in it for the moolah.

It's a great post, and I strongly encourage you to read it. Amanda points out that most of those who perform abortions also deliver babies, and that, in the USA at least, they receive much more dosh for deliveries than for abortions. Amanda also argues that they are often foremost amongst those advocating wider access to contraception, to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, which would be against their financial interests if they were all about making money off abortions.

It seems to me that those who promote abstinence-only sex ed, which seems to be my latest obsession, are fundamentally undermining the chances of reducing the number of abortions. Ampersand has a post at Alas on a US study showing the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex ed. The aforementioned Amanda has the graphs too, and more comment of her own. Idiot/Savant has a brief post on it too, including the killer quote:

...half of the sample given abstinence-only education displayed exactly the same
predilection for sex as those who had received conventional sex education in
which contraception was discussed.
I want to make it clear that I have no problem with abstinence, and I have no problem with promoting it as an option in sex ed programmes. It's a choice I respect. I hope servant is going to post about this soon, as he has indicated.

But what I don't respect is those who want to make abstinence the only "choice" available, by actively encouraging ignorance of sex, ignorance of our own bodies, and ignorance of how to stay safe when sexually active. Ignorance that has extremely negative consequences.

I have particularly noticed that abstinence is promoted to girls and young women, but not necessarily so agressively to those of the XY persuasion. To me this speaks volumes about the true motivations of many of those who seek to educate on abstinence alone. I believe it is fundamentally an anti-woman agenda, based on a belief that female bodies should be controlled by men - first their fathers and later their husbands. In my humble opinion, purity balls are a clear manifestation of this viewpoint.
Not only does it not work, it's also incredibly stupid. People are going to "sin"* and have sex when their prime motivation is not baby-making. If they don't know about contraception, or they think it's an even bigger sin to use it, then they are going to get pregnant from time to time. Trust me, I went to a Catholic girls school. Which sin are you more likely to commit - the one that's enjoyable (that would be the sex) or the one that you're a bit unsure about, it's embarassing to mention and the guy isn't keen on (that would be the contraception)?

And then they face difficult decisions about what to do about that unwanted pregnancy**. Decisions made harder by the labelling of children out of wedlock as products of sin, and abortion as "the ultimate child abuse". It is the XXer who faces the choice, the social judgement, and the taint of sin upon their soul.

If people truly want to bring the rate of abortions down then they need to front up to reality; people will have sex and if you don't encourage them to use contraception there will be unwanted pregnancies. If you believe that abortion is a sin (and I don't) then perhaps you're going to have to decide you're ok with preventing conception as the lesser of two evils. Because just trying to control women's bodies for them isn't going to do the trick.

* I want to make it clear here that I don't have much truck with ideas of sin. I think you can make moral and immoral choices, and you can do right or wrong. I understand the difference between good and evil. But my thoughts on this don't match the religious concept of sin.
** Not to mention the risks of STIs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A beautiful day in Auckland

Even towards the end of the day, when this shot was taken from near Achilles Point.

Nice to know my talismans sometimes work.

Blog Spots

It's been quite a while since I last did a Blog Spot post, but here we go...

First up, the exciting news that About Town is back in action, with trs blogging about all sorts of things.

Red 'Fec, who tipped me off about the above, have added a number of new bloggers, including a boy. This should be interesting...

A makeover is in progress at stanselen (which is making me think about doing one too) and Aucklander at Large has finally given into progress and shifted to the New Blogger. I'd also love to go along and see Jeremy present his Masters thesis, but sadly I live a wee bit too far away. Can I suggest a national tour?

Internationally, April 28th is going to be Take Back the Blog Blogswarm Day. A few key quotes from the host page, linked in the previous sentence:

...this page will host the April 28, 2007 Take Back the Blog! Blogswarm in
support of the rights of women to participate fully in all aspects of our
society, including specifically online in the world of blogging but indeed
everywhere and at all times, day and night, without fear of harassment,
intimidation, sexual harassment, online stalking and slander, predation or violence of any sort.
The goal is both to provide a convenient compilation of (undoubtedly excellent)
content for readers' benefit and to make a show of strength and of organization
within the blogosphere from bloggers with different perspectives towards common
I'm going to give it a go, as long as I remember. I always forget these kinds of things unfortunately. But being on the other side of the date line should give me a head start in theory!
If you are a new blogger, or have something new to share about your blog, please feel free to add a link in comments.

Thinking twice

Recently there have been a lot of things going on in regard to violence towards women.*

There's been the case of the All Black who got a discharge without conviction for assaulting his wife, the 12 year old girl who was raped walking back from a party late at night, and internationally the Virginia Tech shootings media coverage horrifyingly ended up focusing for a while on a young woman who was unfairly and inaccurately labelled as the "cause" of the deaths (including her own) because she had supposedly rejected the shooter. Maia's also shared the disturbing news that someone found her blog, where she writes against rape effectively and passionately, through search terms suggesting they were trying to find out about raping without being caught.

One thing that I want to focus on today is the blaming that happens; how women are held responsible for the assaults and violence that can overwhelm their lives.

Sivivatu's wife was blamed by his mother, and I think we can assume possibly took on some self-blame from the fact that she withdrew her complaint despite the police continuing with the charges. The 12 year old was blamed as questions were asked about why she was out at the time of night, and why her parents weren't looking after her.** A female student at Virginia Tech was singled out by media all over the world, for a while anyway, as the obvious cause of the shootings.

Did any of these women hit, rape or shoot themselves? Did they ask the person who assaulted, raped or killed them to do it?

I'm quite prepared to accept that there are societal pressures that shape rapists, particularly the existence of social norms that reinforce the view of self-denial; that seemingly impenetrable wall of belief that many hold that says "I'm not a rapist, she was drunk" or "I'm not a wife-beater, she provoked me." I've written a bit about this before, about knowing men who I believe have raped, but would never ever consider themselves rapists.

Frankly it's not good enough. All of us need to look inside ourselves and ask some hard questions; have I ever had sex with someone who couldn't consent? have I ever coerced someone into sex? have I ever hit someone when I really wasn't defending myself? have I ever blamed my actions on someone else to justify my violence towards them?

And we need to encourage this questioning in our children. We need to raise sons, and daughters, who can strip away the bullshit from their own thought processes and act consciously, without finding rubbish excuses that let themselves off the hook. And we can all play a role in this, through leading by example, through questioning the children we interact with, by learning how to see our own true motivations and the real effects our actions have on others.

Because I cannot believe that anyone who consciously considers their motives, and the effect their action would have on others, would choose to rape, or beat, or kill.

* Actually that's a crap first sentence. There are always lots of things going on in regard to violence towards women, or at least that's how it seems to me. I guess it would be more accurate to say there is a lot of media coverage right at this moment. Sadly I am too lacking of teh smarts today to come up with a better start, so you're going to have to just go with that and hopefully forget about the clunky beginning by the time you're at the end of the next paragraph.
** I did initially wonder about the role of the parents in this, I would have expected them to be caring for their child sufficiently that she wasn't in a vulnerable position like this. However subsequent media reports suggest that the parents believed that their daughter was staying with another family member. And ultimately I don't think they should share anywhere near the burden of blame that the rapist ought to.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Anzac Spirit

anarchafairy has an interesting post up entitled ANZAC Day must be opposed. He is of the opinion that Anzac* Day is a celebration of the NZ military and a source of growing nationalism in our country. I can understand his points, but I guess it's just not what I see in Anzac Day.

When I hear the words "lest we forget" I do think of the violence and destruction that characterises war. I can't help but visualise the young men suffering in the trenches of WWI and the many women who are inevitably victims in times of conflict. Maybe it's just me, but I'd actually formed the impression that one of the reasons turnouts were swelling was a view in Aotearoa, held by many, that the price of war is too high, and it must be avoided. That we gather on Anzac Day to acknowledge past sacrifices made, but also to remind ourselves that we do not want to go there again.

As for the growing nationalism, to be honest I feel as if New Zealand has become less nationalistic in the last decade, not more. Perhaps that's reflected more by the people I hang out with now, and my own change away from being mindlessly proud of our little slice of the landmass? My perception is that as we become more multicultural, both in terms of our population and our surrounds, we are slowly breaking away from thinking something is always better for being Kiwi. I think we have more to fear, in terms of growing nationalism, from the All Blacks winning the World Cup, than we do from Anzac Day.

anarchafairy writes:

It is a bizarre situation, then, that those on the left, even those claiming its
radical margins, are unwilling to oppose in any meaningful way the ceremonies of
ANZAC day. They fear offending those mercenaries of the State in attendance.
They fear disrupting what is in fact a near-sacred national ritual. They,
apparently, lack an ability to compare an act that merely offends with
systematic and legitimised murder, armed patrols, nightly curfews, military
checkpoints and all the other associated tactics of the New Zealand military.

I won't oppose Anzac Day ceremonies because for me they aren't about glorifying war, they are about facing the grim reality of it and not sweeping that under the carpet because it is so gruesome and seems so far away. I feel that this is a motivator for many who attend, and particularly those who take their children along.

I don't fear the mercenaries of the State (although perhaps that's because I'm not sure who they are) but I do agree that April 25th ceremonies are becoming near-sacred. They are a time when we respect those who have fought, but don't necessarily agree with the reasons for the conflicts. For me at least, it is a time of remembering that in at least some of the wars NZ has taken part in the politicians have not always been honest about the reasons for engagement, and have often followed immoral strategies to encourage the country to sign up to war. On many occasions (if not all) those who have enlisted, and those who have supported the wars at home, were victims too.

On the issue anarchafairy raises about recognising the "enemy", I agree, we do ignore them. We also ignore the war had within NZ too. I would like to see that change. When I visited Gallipoli last year I had the embarassing realisation that I hadn't really thought before about who we were fighting, or the horror they had faced too. This was reinforced at St Martins in York. The church was almost completely destroyed in a bombing raid during WWII and yet it had been rebuilt as a chapel centred on forgiveness - primarily of those who bombed it. I am not a religious person, not at all, but in that church I could almost say I felt the presence of something god-like. To me it was a radical notion, this forgiveness of the invisible, dehumanised enemy**, and one I hope I can make a part of me, to replace that blind Kiwi pride I used to hold so dear.

This Anzac Day I may not make it to a ceremony - I haven't since before I got sick. But I will reflect on war, and the tragedy that it is. I won't glorify it, and I won't support it, and I won't forget.

Taken by the author at one of the Turkish memorials, Gallipoli.

* I know it's an acronym but I always feel like it shouldn't be.
** Something we pol bloggers could all learn from I feel.

I give the finger to this Stupid Internet Quiz

Ok I think this quiz result is so totally and utterly wrong that it nearly makes me want to not post this in disgust. Nearly, but not quite.

You Are a Ring Finger
You are romantic, expressive, and hopeful. You see the best in everything.You are very artistic, and you see the world as your canvas. You are also drawn to the written word.Inventive and unique, you are often away in your own inner world.
You get along well with: The Pinky
Stay away from: The Index Finger

Hat tip: Sparkle*Matrix, who is the much-coveted Middle Finger. Why couldn't I be the middle finger? Argh!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Weather Talisman the Fourth

I would really rather like to be able to go for a walk this weekend. It's been a while.

Linky Love - Volume 13

Standard intro - if you have a post of your own, or some else's, that you'd like to highlight please feel free to add it in comments, or to discuss the above posts, or indeed most anything else.

Alas, a blog - Roundup of posts about Gonzales v Carhart - Amp gives us all a link farm all about the recent Supreme Court decision in the US to undermine a woman's right to choose.

Aucklander at Large - Racial predisposition - a@l uncovers some weird theories about the Virginia Tech shooting on the Herald Readers' Views site. Winston Peters would be proud.

Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty - But we've got a world cup to win! - Maia writes about Sivivatu's discharge without conviction for domestic violence, and why that had more to do with his Silver Fern than anything else.

the gossip - Smashing stuff with the people's hammer - uncovering the radical union activist that is Spongebob Squarepants.

I Blame the Patriarchy - Some notes on revolution - Twisty puts the case that our society is a patriarchy and why it sucks so much.

Joe Hendren - Peaceful WTO protesters win $1 million compensation - Joe has the story that no doubt won't get anywhere near the coverage the original misrepresentations of the so-called "Battle of Seattle".

The Kiwi Herald - TV presenters to multitask - john puts a humourous spin on the lay-offs at TVNZ.

Larvatus Prodeo - Labor's "pragmatic" national industrial relations platform - Guy looks at Australian Labor's possible answer to John Howard's much loathed Workchoices. It looks like Kevin Rudd may have caught NZ (and British) Labour's Third Way disease...

Pandagon - The main downside is it's one more thing to dust - Amanda Marcotte gives her view on the Rapist #1 action figure furore, which is not what I had expected I must admit.

Parrot on Policy - Saving for Retirement: Sorry, too busy paying off debt - Policy Parrot writes about some of the barriers to retirement saving and some ideas to counter them. Good to see student debt on the list of barriers!

Policy Matters - Putting 'public' back into public policy - Grant Duncan discusses the different parties' approaches to these matters and asks for feedback on how we now conceptualise "publicness" in public policy.

Shakesville - Iraq's homosexual communities cries out for help - wkw reports on what sounds like a violent campaign against gays and lesbians, exacerbated by the US Occupation.

WellUrban - Whose lane is it anyway? Tom has an interesting post about public transport developments in Windyton.*

Your Dirty Answers - (no title) - Audra Williams with the pyjamas you never knew you needed. Paul from The Fundy Post, this is for you!

And don't forget, previous volumes of Linky Love (1 - 12) can be found in their own shiny category.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Span's inner bookedness

Violet has posted about which books on her shelves she'd like people to think reflect her, and which she'd rather they attributed elsewhere, or didn't notice at all. It got Make Tea thinking, and me too.

Perhaps the reason this idea resonates so strongly with me is that I spent a lot of time at university buying hoarding books that were rather aspirational; I wanted to be the kind of person that read those books. Some still haunt my shelves (not many, due to all those Alliance book sale fundraisers I ran in 2002) and they are mute reminders of a time when I desperately wanted to be a Proper Bookish University Student, but was actually mainly a Pretty Trashy Fantasy Reader. The one that immediately comes to mind, even though I'm not at home right now, is a fragile green volume of Aristophanes' plays, which remains unsullied by these eyes, at least a decade after purchase.

The books on "display" (the ones in the lounge) are the ones I secretly hope people think I read, but many of them are unread gifts (by people who had obviously seen the others in the lounge) or belong to Nickname Pending. Or they are left over from the days when I thought you had to actually buy the books your lecturers recommended, and I'm too fond of the lecturer* involved to discard them. Some of them I've read, but not that many. I've come to the realisation in recent years that I'm just not good at reading non-fiction. Unless it's a Mitford-related biography of course.

As a sly nod to the books I truly love, which possibly reflect me most, there is a corner of the lounge dedicated to children's books I've collected. Some were mine when I was wee, most are more recent additions. I revel in the gorgeous picture books (Miss Spider, Lauren Child, and Lolly Leopold) and feel very attached to my boxed sets of Narnia (despite the dodginess obvious as an adult reader) and His Dark Materials. Tamora Pierce spins my wheels, and Harry Potter is separated by a good dozen other books from rival characters created by Diana Wynne Jones. Harder to find, but still prized, are the NZ kids books by Maurice Gee, Tessa Duder and even a copy of the Children of the Dog Star which you'd have to pay me an awful lot to part with.**

Away in the book room I stow my guilty secrets. Trinny and Susannah - tick. The Da Vinci Code - tick. Lots and lots of Heinlein - multiple ticks. Tanith Lee - more ticks than I care to reflect upon. There are some gems in there too, but safe to say they are pretty heavily outnumbered. I think I need ten worthy novels to make up for my possession of Jilly Cooper's Riders alone.

I worked in a bookstore (if you can count Whitcoulls as such) for five years. Although it often felt like a proper Marvin job I adored working with books. I loved talking to people about them, sharing with them the ones I enjoyed, and bitching companionably about the authors who weren't all that (John Grisham comes to mind). I used to fantasise as a younger adult about having my own book shop, but I think the grind would squeeze the joy out of it, as Whitters had begun to do.***

Instead now I like to just visit the books. I feel remarkably affectionate towards many of them, whereever they are. The old favourites I often reach out to and smile at on their shelves, as if they were puppies wagging their tails in delight at seeing me.

I suspect the puppy in this relationship is really me, and I'm pretty indiscriminate with my bookish love. And as long as they keep printing Marian Keyes, I'll keep reading her.

* 10 points to the commenter who can name this person. Not hard, I'll admit.
** Due to some mighty powerful synchronicity, amongst other things.
*** It was probably something to do with working in a bookstore with people who didn't read books. *shakes head dismally*

Here we go again

Ok, so I wrote about this already but it seems that a repeat attempt at explanation is necessary:

1. Only a very small number of unions are affiliated to the Labour Party. I can only think of four; EPMU (aka The Engineers), SFWU (Service & Food), Meatworkers and DWU (Dairy Workers). While EPMU and SFWU are amongst the bigger private sector unions these four are still couldn't reasonably be counted as "many unions" given that the whole NZ union movement encompasses over 33 unions (there are some not affiliated to the Council of Trade Unions and thus not on their list). If anyone has the skinny on any other unions, other than the four I listed, being affiliated to Labour, please comment now or forever hold your peace!

2. Many unions, and many union members, are public sector. Public sector unions do not affiliate to political parties and have policies of not giving donations to political parties either. Last I checked Labour was a political party, therefore they won't be getting any donations from those unions any time soon. That cuts out a lot of unions as possible donors under the current system.

3. Unions have to publish their accounts for their members, and as they are on the register of unions and often also incorporated societies there is auditing and so on that has to happen, just like (in fact probably more publicly) than companies. Any big dollops of union money being spent on stuff has to go through a democratic process, usually the union's Executive (or similar body) which is elected by the membership on a regular basis. They can't just secretly decide to give sizeable cheques to political parties without any membership scrutiny. It seems to be something that those without experience in unions struggle to understand - union members have a say in the running of their union, and hold its management accountable in ways that rarely happen in the corporate world. Those democratic structures aren't perfect, and many could be better, but they are there!

Okay, now that I've blurted all that out, yet again...

I'd also note that what everyone seems to be getting worked up about, when it comes to the proposals about changing the election funding laws*, has been put forward as something that is a million miles away from what has been reported.

The assumption in the broader blogosphere seems to be that unions will have an exemption from all the rules and can do whatever they please. The reality of the suggested change is that a funding cap would apply to third party campaigning (including unions and other organisations) and that the campaigning materials must be approved by the political party concerned. There would then be an exemption from this for organisations, including unions and companies (and no doubt others), for communications that they made directly to their membership. I imagine that there are several organisations that have memberships bigger than the biggest union, for example the AA, or one of the major banks, or Fonterra, or the University of Auckland. So it's hardly some kind of union specific gold-plated carte blanche to behave however they wish, as some have painted it.

So kindly cease and desist, all ye who reckon it's now going to be open slather for union election spending. Unions don't have that much spare dosh anyway.

* I haven't written on this yet cos I haven't read enough. I don't know if I'll have a chance anytime soon realistically.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Trolling Stone Gathers Much Dross

After recent discussions about the interactive nature of political blogging, in particular codes of conduct and trolling, I've decided that this blog probably should have an explicit comments policy. Or rather, that it probably should have had a policy a while back.

To date my approach to comments has been pretty lax. I haven't banned anyone, I haven't edited anyone (in fact I don't know if you can really do either of those things on Blogger?).
I've deleted two comments since Spanblather started (both in the last six months) - one because it linked to the CYFS Watch blog in an unrelated post (iirc) when I'd already written about my reasons for not linking to it, and you can see the thread of the other comment I deleted here. I have called commenters on language and manner when I don't think it's ok (although a lot less than I probably should have), and I have argued with an awful lot of people here and elsewhere. I think overall that's actually a pretty relaxed attitude to comments, but I'm keen to hear your thoughts on what's happened to date.

While this is my blog, and I assert my right to control the content of it, including comments, as I see fit, I would actually like some reader thoughts before I put down some kind of comment policy. I value your comments, 99.999% of the time, and I don't want to change Spanblather in ways that put you off interacting.

So please take this thread as an opportunity to make suggestions about how I could improve the cyber environs of Spanblather.

Be gentle.


I like sheep

Unlike cows, they don't run at you. Much.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stuff to go to in Auckland

Making a Song and Dance about Freedom, April 21, 7:30pm, at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall.
Tickets are available from Ticketek for just $20 each (service fee charge will apply). The evening's line-up includes performances by Caitlin Smith, Tama Waipara, The Shades, Banda Latina and Latin Fever dancers, Tango Tiempo dancers accompanied by a tango sextet, a Flamenco duo, Bollywood and Bellydancers, Opera and Barbershop singers. MCs for the evening are Jorje Sequieros and Tandi Wright. To book, phone (09) 307 5000 or book online at Organise a group of friends and get your tickets today. All proceeds go to Amnesty International (who have organised it)


When Freedoms Collide, 8th May*, Panel: Religious Diversity in NZ with Church Leaders chaired by Sir Paul Reeves, 7:30pm, Auckland Cathedral, 446 Parnell Rd
Dr Lois Wilson will provide an inspiring and thought provoking talk on social justice and religious understanding. She will challenge us to think creatively about the inevitable challenges and conflict faced by people in our ever changing and diverse society. Wilson has been involved with the United Church of Canada, through her years of international service as President of the World Council of Churches, and appointed to the Senate of Canada,and has worked passionately as a defender and promoter of human rights. Admission is $10 to cover costs. Organised by NZ Diversity Action Programme.

Plus (added 10.40am, April 17th)...

The Hollow Men: Our Democracy or Theirs?, 1st May (May Day), 7.30pm, in Auckland University’s ‘Lower Lecture Theatre’, behind the University Clocktower building on Princes St, near Old Government House.
Following on from the successful panel in Wellington in March, Nicky Hager will be joined by Dr Raymond Miller, head of Political Studies at the University of Auckland and NDU secretary and former Cabinet Minister Laila Harré and they will natter about election campaign funding and related topics.

Hat tip to Idiot/Savant for the idea.

*Wilson is also speaking in Orewa, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Waikanae and Dunedin - I have a pdf poster with the details if anyone wants to know more, you can email me if you so desire spanblather at gmail dot com.