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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hear ye, hear ye! The return of Monthly Blog Stats!

In bygone days Messr Farrar used to perform the public service of totting up the number of posts from NZ pol blogs and putting them together in a handy little table for all and sundry.

Later, when the number of us grew beyond the telling, we all submitted our post and comment numbers to him at the end of each month for His Blogness to meld into a list of our wondrousness.

Sadly in recent times DPF has become too busy (and famous) to host the tally, so the baton shall pass to the left (that would be me then) for a time.

Here's how it works:

1. Count up how many posts and how many comments your blog has produced in the calendar month (in this case, February 2007).

2. Email those figures, along with the name of your blog, and your url if you are feeling really onto it, to me at spanblatherATgmaildotcom (de-munge please). You could even put "Feb Stats" in the subject line, if it takes your fancy.

3. I will put up a post with all Feb stats I have received at some point on March 1st. There may or may not be categories...

4. If you don't get your stats to me in time you can always add them in comments, but then you may miss out on being a category!

I'm not going to leave out blogs that aren't political, or aren't of my politics, so please do avail yourself of this opportunity if you feel the need. It's a good chance to promote your blog and also to see how you are blogging compared to others in the 'sphere.

PS Don't forget that February only has 28 days in it, meaning tomorrow (Wednesday) is the last day of the month. Trips me up once a year, that does.

No policy please, we're National

So let me get this straight, John Key's policy announcements since his ascension are:

  • A (privately-donated) muesli bar in every school lunch box
  • Back To The Workhouses Work For The Dole (maybe, not sure yet; I don't know, what do you think; I'm sure it worked last time!)
  • National hearts John Howard (oh wait, that's not a policy, that's a Tory love-fest)
  • The Maori seats gone at some point in the foreseeable future (possibly put off if National needs the Maori Party to get those Beehive offices)
  • A slight increase to donation tax rebates for the rich (which Labour are going to do anyway*)
Is that it? Have I missed any?

My word, I just don't know how Helen Clark is going to counter these astonishing new policy ideas. Key is certainly setting a cracking pace!

Perhaps his Education spokesperson, Katherine Rich, might even have an early childhood education policy some time before the end of the decade, so that she can refer to it when being interviewed about how pants she thinks the Government's is. Because sooner or later some journalist is going to ask the question - What would National do - and not let her off the hook with a "we'll have a policy by the end of the year" as Sean Plunkett did on RNZ National earlier this week.**

What happened to all those policies they had at the last election? Did they just forget about them? Now that's not very sustainable. My recollection of party policy processes is that the policy remains until it is replaced by something new. If it is really embarassing you might say that it is currently X but under review. Certainly the major Opposition party should have current policy on current issues.

After all, if 10 Labour MPs defected to United Future tomorrow then Key could be Prime Minister by lunchtime, and then what would his Government be doing if they have already shown all the old policies the door and robustly asserted that those ideas shall never darken their threshold again?

I suspect National's new policy will be remarkably similar to what Don Brash's leadership produced, it just hasn't been re-branded yet. After all, it takes a lot of scrubbing to get that Exclusive Bretheren smell out.***

* The current Government has also foreshadowed that they are likely to allow those who do voluntary work to claim some of it back under the donation rebate scheme too.
** Ok so it's only Tuesday which means it must have been yesterday. But I'm not a hundy sure. Sorry about that. And at least Plunkett asked the frakking question.
*** Yes this is an unusually grumpy post. Blame it on the lack of sleep and chalk it up to experience. Either that or a subconscious desire to inflame my readers into an orgy of commenting that will result in the spontaneous combustion of many of my most reviled foes. Who can tell?

Freedom and Democracy and all that Good Stuff

So I'm now about a quarter of the way through series 2 of Battlestar Galactica and I can't stop thinking about Iraq when I watch it.
Possibly I'm reading too much into all this, and no doubt someone has written about this long before I*, but it seems that the BSG writers aren't that keen on Iraq and they are getting some subtle digs in.

There was the Gideon incident, where a group of troops opened fire on civillians, killing several. It put me in mind of situations early in the Iraq War (Take 2) when young soldiers, in their first combat situation, were surrounded by locals who were just as frightened as they were. Stones would be thrown by confused Iraqis and eventually one or more soldiers would feel threatened and take refuge in the gun in their hands. Death and injury was the inevitable result. In a later episode of series 2 one of these shooters decides his commanding officer must pay for the bad call he made by sending the troops to Gideon. I wonder if that has happened at all in real life?

Then there was the embedding of Deena, the journalist played by Lucy Lawless. An anti-authority sceptic produced a doco sympathetic to the Galactica's crew. We kind of wanted her to, as the viewers, because we like them ourselves, and the fact that she's actually a cylon throws a spanner in the analysis of her motivation, but on the face of it, it's an example of those watching (for us all) being captured by those they watch. That criticism could certainly be levelled at many of the journalists close to the action in Iraq.

The way that the fleet begins to breakdown when the two central power figures (President Roslyn and Commander Adama) are taken out of play could be interpreted as a criticism of the way the American Government has worked until recently - George W Bush has been effectively all powerful with a friendly Senate and Congress (no longer thankfully) and when the leader makes bad decisions there are few checks and balances to even things out. A military command structure does not seem to allow the level of "full and frank" advice (i.e. criticism in a safe environment) that civillian does, and it shows when Tigh declares martial law.

When Crashdown is shot in the back, on Kobol, Baltar explains it by saying "he gave his life in the finest tradition of the service." Perhaps the BSG writers are sneakily saying that US soldiers in Iraq are effectively being taken down from behind by their own leadership?

Or maybe I'm just not getting enough sleep?

* I'm not going to go out there looking for BSG info again after I accidentally found out some stuff I didn't want to know last time. Or at least not until I've caught up with the rest of the world.

View from a church tower

But where?

Props to Gerrit who persevered with the graffitied building under Mangere Bridge, and also to Paul for getting St Peter's in record time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Sci-fi Crew - Babylon 5?

You scored as Babylon 5 (Babylon 5). The universe is erupting into war and your government picks the wrong side. How much worse could things get? It doesn’t matter, because no matter what you have your friends and you’ll do the right thing. In the end that will be all that matters. Now if only the Psi Cops would leave you alone.

Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Moya (Farscape)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Serenity (Firefly)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

Well this is strange because I've never watched Babylon 5...

Instead I've got a hankering to be in Moya's crew, although Serenity would be my first choice.

Linky Love - Volume 5

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.

As always, if you want to suggest some new blogs to widen my reading please leave a comment.
Alas (a blog) - Court Issues Unbelievable Stupid Sex Crime Ruling - Ampersand reports on a bizarre legal case (in the USA, whereelse) where a young woman's conviction for child pornography, based on sending intimate photos of herself and her boyfriend from her computer to his personal email, was upheld to protect her reputation. Yes you read that right.
Aucklander at Large - Section 59 Citizens Initiated Referendum - Jeremy gives his thoughts on the Family First views on s59 and the CIRs that are now on the go, but the main reason I linky loved this post is because of the fab cartoon at the end of it, all about the Right Wing Noise Machine in the USA.

Auckland's Burning - My street - John writes about a recent brush with violence in his street. A sad story.

Feministe - Disorder - piny supports Pigeon's theory that eating disorders operate in the same way as addicition, in a compelling post about power and anorexia.

Feministe - If motherhood is so great why don't you do it? - Jill has produced a post responding to the frequent calls for women to fulfill their "natural" roles as mothers to the exclusion of all else in their lives. She makes an excellent point - if motherhood is genuinely the most valued work then how come more men don't do it?

from the morgue - [mediawatch]The Listener Gets It Right - morgue highlights and comments on a recent Listener article about paroled murderers who haven't reoffended.

The Fundy Post - Dispatches from the frontline in the diversity war - Paul writes about what the Exclusive Brethren are up to these days, and the Human Rights Commission's recent conference on a possible religious diversity statement.

Instaputz - Rocky Mountain News: Putz is the right's Ward Churchill - Brilliant reporting by The Blue Texan on MSM criticism of Glen Reynolds of Instapundit advocating the assasination of Iranian scientists and leaders.

I See Red - Selection of media comments on Key - Tony Milne has put together what the post title says, creating an interesting review of media views of the new National Leader.

Pandagon - How to explain things to Libertarians - Chris Clarke starts with a great cartoon and just gets better.

staneslen - It's not OK to smack - jo writes about her views on smacking and why she hopes the Greens' bill passes.

Past Linky Loves are now in their own shiny category.

Way up high

Ok this one is pretty easy to guess.

Congrats to Fi for getting Canterbury, England correct!

And this tricky pic is still without a correct guess, and now has four clues in comments. Don't tell me I have you stumped, dear readers...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Shaken (not stirred)

Let the competition for best Auckland Earthquake Blog Post Title begin!

It was quite exciting to be in an earthquake I could actually feel. Many's the time I've been in Welly and someone has said, oh did you feel that shake five minutes ago, and I've had to sadly answer nope.

We were watching the first episode of BSG's second series, and the shaking at first felt like some kind of really bonus extra. Nickname Pending didn't feel it at all, and the cat was totally unaware. So much for that theory about animals having some kind of earthquake ESP.

Of course if anything had fallen off a shelf I probably would have screamed, shortly followed by a session of gibbering. But it didn't, so I can just bask in the glory of having Been There. I can feel a story for the (yet to be born) grandchildren coming on already...

Stopping the world for a moment or two

Taken in one of my favourite spots in all the world.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Damien O'Connor - from the horse's mouth

When I was on holiday recently I read a Perspectives article in the Herald about Damien O'Connor.

Yes you read that right - not only did I read a whole article in the Herald (and a reasonably long one at that!), but also I voluntarily read something about Damien O'Connor. Wonders will never cease.

Anyway, it's all about his experiences as Minister of Corrections, and it's a very interesting read. It paints a picture of O'Connor that I admit surprised me considerably.

He talks about the struggles he has trying to get some Vote Health money carved off for mental health issues in prison, and the strong focus on rehabilitation that he feels is needed. O'Connor also has some telling remarks to make about the Sensible Sentencing Trust, in particular the agreement he thought they had reached about rehabilitation being A Good Thing, which Garth McVicar and his associates then flip-flopped on.

Well worth a read, imho.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Now this is partisan blogging

The Alliance Party of New Zealand, of which I am a lazy member, has rejuvenated their website and it now operates like a blog, with comments allowed (and indeed encouraged) on most pages.

You may wish to check it out, or indeed add it to your feeds.

Some proper lefties to froth at, for those who feel Labour bloggers are merely providing empty calories for their nasty gnashers. My word, how many more metaphors could I possibly mix in that sentence!

Linky Love - Volume 4

The now 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.

Also, if you want to suggest some new blogs to widen my reading please leave a message after the beep.

...the gossip - Well you can't please everyone - The unofficial Finsec (Financial Sector Union) blog has a pithy post on the political positions unions take.

Contradiction - Bio-terror George posts on the SPCA surprise inspection of a battery farm ALF had previously raided and reported. Despite the ALF raid, the farmers appeared to have improved little, but the SPCA may still not prosecute.

Feministe - Who are the extremists? Jill points out the extreme politics, including advocating for the assasination of scientists and political leaders, espoused by leading lights on the right of the US blogosphere.

Fighting Talk - Lyndon Hood writes wittily about literary references and NZ politics.

From the morgue - What's the matter with W Cres? morgue shares his experiences of Wilkie Cres in Naenae, which seems to have more than its fair share of murderous crimes.

The Fundy Post - Ash Wednesday Paul writes about the privileges complaint recently upheld against naughty Matt Robson, who had the temerity to make a comment about United Future's links with Big Tobacco in his email newsletter.

Hard News - The Report Card Russell Brown delves into some of the stats and reportage on the Unicef report on child well-being, and also links to a photo that very nearly made me cry. The ensuing discussion in PASystem is also of interest.

Left reckoner - a game of numbers Rob Davies has a humourous and interesting post inspired by some of the 2006 census results (more interesting than I am making it sound!)

The Legal Soapbox - Yet more thoughts on Anti-Semitism - Legal Eagle points out that Jews and Arabs are both Semites, and muses on the impact of white supremacy on the prejudices against these groups.

Natalia Anatova - Beauty and the B-list - Natalia channels her Gerard Butler obsession into a post on celebrity. I think she's really trying to pose the question we all want answered - is Butler the new Christian Bale?

Paper, Scissors, Rock - Male Pattern Stupidity - Ms Klake posts about her observation that men may just get more stupid as they age. I couldn't possibly comment ;-)

Women of Color Blog - Tim Hardaway hates Gays and plotting Queer liberation through sports brownfemipower covers the controversy that has erupted in the US sports world after former NBA basketballer John Amaeci came out of the closet.

Former Linky Loves (vols 1 through 3) can be found in the Linky Love category.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Big Ted goes to church

Any ideas where I was when I snapped this?

Kudos to Gerrit who guessed Anzac Cove correctly - imaginary choc fish is in the mail.

Meanwhile, this pic still hasn't been guessed and there is now a third clue in comments.

An excuse for a cow picture

The Ruminator uses the tag cloud idea and attaches it to NZ national news to give a picture of the current areas our media are focused on (or perhaps what is making news?!). A fine and dandy thing, imho. Interesting to note that "auckland" is much bigger than "new zealand".

(Hat tip: spleen)


Over at Red in Roskill I've been having a little argument with my old foe AJ Chesswas.* What started out as a post by Michael Wood about progressive christianity has ended up with AJ and I slugging it out in the comments, arguing about sex.

AJ's position as he puts it himself:

Sex = pleasure, intimacy, commitment and procreation. We dissect this at our

What he means is that sex should always be about conceiving.** AJ further holds that there is an obligation on the married to reproduce, and:

A world that considers a union that is unable to result in the miracle of
life as equal to one that does cannot be seriously considered to be just.
When I pointed out that there is no such commandment about sprogging on the marriage licence AJ counters with the authority of the Anglican prayerbook.

Not surprisingly, I find this ridiculous. To me it seems to be a point of view that not only fails to reflect the reality of sexual practice throughout human history, it is also a sneakily sexist position to hold.

Consider the consequences of a view of sex that sees it as always about conceiving:

  1. Should only have sex when you intend to conceive.
  2. Should only have sex when both partners are provably fertile (depending on the woman and how you would measure, maybe up to a week a month).
  3. No sex (or legal commitments) between partners of the same sex (as can't possibly conceive).
  4. No use of contraception allowed, ever.
  5. Infertile people never allowed to have sex.
  6. Infertile people not allowed to marry.
  7. Masturbation assumedly a no-go also?
We know what a world without contraception is like. Many people still live in that world. It is a place where women's roles are limited by frequent pregnancies and obligations to put childcare and home-making above any other ambitions. I am lucky I don't have to live in that world, and I wish no one did.

I'd really like to know what is actually sinful or wrong about having sex for pleasure alone?

Whether you are heterosexual or not, sex seems to me to be about the four things AJ lists above ("pleasure, intimacy, commitment, procreation" to remind the reader and save you scrolling) but it doesn't have to be about all four all the time.

Update, 19th Feb. 1.41pm: Ok, if you have read this far then you also ought to go read this over at Feministe. It's Jill's response to a Christian man who feels contraception is a sin, but is now in an invidious situation himself, where the only solution seems to be to go down that path.

* Yes he's real.
**I don't think he would disagree with this, but I couldn't find a short quote in comments that reflected this, please AJ do let me know if I've got the wrong end of the stick and I will correct it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Time warp

You may have noticed that my recent comments is rather stuck in the past. Thanks Jeremy for the heads-up.

I suspect it is a bloglines feed problem, as I notice that Capitalism Bad has a similar issue and I know that Maia uses their feed too.

So until it is fixed we are just going to have to make do with looking at the actual posts.

Thanks for your patience at this difficult time.

Yours eternally

Field of Dreams

So Taito Field's days on the Red Team are over. Surely this must be the beginning of the end game regarding the Mangere electorate?

Others (see below) have already written good stuff, but I wanted to add a little bit more to the blog debate about his options from here.

To start with, I don't think he's going to join the Maori Party. It's pretty clear to me that the visit from Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia was about being nice, not being teammates. Sharples made it pretty clear on Nat Rad that he'd done the same thing for (Labour MP) David Parker when he was in the schizen, and there was certainly no suggestion of Parker being invited into the wharenui. Sharples made the point that if Field was to join the Maori Party the invite would have to come from the Party itself, not the co-leaders. That seems pretty unlikely I would think.

Another option that has been thrown around is the Family Rights Protection Party (or whatever it is called, sorry I can't remember exactly). What little I know about this party is based on the fact that they turned up to a City Vision meeting a few years back. I recognised at least one of the key people speaking for the FRPP that night - I knew her from a distance when she was one of the leaders of the Alliance's Pasifika wing back before the 2002 split. They were very loyal to Matt Robson and left with Jim Anderton, but the one thing I remember very strongly about this woman was that she was supposed to have been on a 20/20 documentary (or was it 60 Minutes? nevermind). The doco was about violence towards children, and there was allegedly some pretty damning footage of her engaging in said activity. Could well be she's changed, could well be it was made out to be something it wasn't, could well be that they aren't really extant anymore and Field wouldn't go there anyway. I'm just sayin' is all.

Now that Field is an independent I think that makes it a bit more likely that he will seek re-election (assuming he isn't convicted of course). Mangere could become a bitter place in 2008, as we have seen in the past when MPs have split from their parties and still run in the same seat. Having been rather up close and personal during the Alliance split in 2002, I know that there may already be a lot of fractured friendships within Mangere's LEC*. Just wait until the heat of an actual election campaign to see things really meltdown, if Field runs again.

What will Field need to succeed in Mangere as an independent?
  1. No charges by the police (or no conviction plus a certain amount of vindication), and;
  2. Money to mount a campaign, and;
  3. Volunteers to run that campaign, and;
  4. Something he can promise the locals, something that could compete with the promises of a Labour candidate who would potentially be part of the Government, and;
  5. A weak Labour candidate, particularly someone lacking vital links to the local community.
I don't see Labour making the mistake necessary to deliver 5. Su'a William Sio has already been mentioned by many bloggers and journos. He's not that far off being an MP in this term (two more List MP resignations and he is in) and he's currently on the Manukau City Council. He's an obvious pick, but I'm sure there are others waiting in the wings as well. For a start there are several List MPs who could run there with a certain amount of cred, possibly Shane Jones or Dave Hereora.

It would be an uphill battle for Field to win again, and Labour will fight hard to avoid relinquishing a previously safe seat. But at the same time this is the last thing the Labour party machine needs to win another term on the Treasury benches - a desperate fight in South Auckland, sucking up media, effort and money.

And so to the last option that I don't think anyone else has canvassed (?). Field could resign (soon or next year) and not seek re-election. He could simply say "flag this for a game of soldiers I'm going back to Samoa (after all, the tiling on my house is exceptional), why bother with this malarky?"

From what we know of him to date this doesn't seem the logical outcome. But you never know, politics isn't like war - in politics you can get killed more than once.**

Related links:
Maramatanga has a good post on Field, looking at his options (he has now picked to go it alone as an independent.)
Carl at SMSD expresses the sentiment shared by many on the Left (including within Labour).
Idiot/Savant covers Field's decision to go his own way, and is scathing about the Maori Party co-leaders' visit.

(Feel free to add a link to your own post on this in comments)

Update, 19th Feb 1.35pm: Maramatanga has written a further post on the Field situation, including the (outside) possibility of Destiny joining the fray...

* Labour Electorate Committee for those not in on the lingo.
** Bonus points to anyone who can name the telly series I've cannibalised this from.

This is my cat on drugs

Phew, further to this, Mara is back in the 'hood after nearly 24 hours of wondering.

Yesterday morning we broke up a fight she was embroiled in on our driveway. Mara is only a wee thing, despite being over 8 years old, but she is feisty. Not feisty enough for The Cat of Death, a massive black cat with thunder in its eyes and steel in its heart - there was white fur on the driveway and Mara was clearly hurt, but not badly. Nickname Pending took Mara inside while I chased off TCoD (which was surprisingly difficult, it was impervious to yelling, hissing and even throwing things near it). We put Mara on the bed, gave her lots of pats and attention and eventually went back to sleep.

When we woke up again about two hours later she was gone. We couldn't find our pulchritudinous puss anywhere and it seemed unlikely she had got outside again. Many hours of searching ensued. This was exacerbated by Mara's lack of collar - normally you can hear her because of the bell designed to save birds (not all the effective sadly) but TCoD had pulled it off in the fight. I pulled apart everything upstairs looking for her and we had several intensive looks through the mess that is downstairs, but no cat.

We searched outside too, with the aid of our neighbours who are somewhat besotted with Mara. No dice there either, even when we heard a cat fight about 9pm and went running. Door knocking, ringing the SPCA, and asking at the dairy were also a waste of time.

So not a very nice night in the Span household. Early to bed it was, but I had the worst night's sleep I've ever had in my own bed. I kept dreaming that we had found Mara and then I would have to wake-up and check with Nickname Pending if it was just a dream or not. Periodically one or tuther of us would get up and look out the windows to see if she had returned.

Then about 8am this morning I was lying in bed thinking she really couldn't have got outside, so I'm just going to check in the storage area downstairs. I got up and walked into the hall, and there she was. I don't think I've ever been more relieved in my life. Seriously.

We rang the after hours vet, took her in and he generally used her as a pincushion. She even got a pussy cat drip to rehydrate her. Who knew?

The Cat of Death (Who Must Die) had grabbed her around the head and done some bad muscle damage to one of her legs. Mara's not very happy about it, but now she's on painkillers, two types of antibiotics and a sedative, and back home on the mend.

Thank you for indulging my cat-blogging, normal service no doubt resumes later today or tomorrow.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cat talisman

Mara is missing, so I'm putting this up, just as I have put up weather talisman posts in the past, in hope.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

You spin me right round

There's been a lot of spinning lately. Or at least, a lot of accusations of it. There's a school of thought, it seems, that everyone on the Other Side is spinning, but no one on yours. Of course this isn't true.

But what's also untrue is the somewhat po-mo belief that everybody is spinning all the time.

Many bloggers, many politicians, many columnists, many people (the former all being subsets of the latter, remember), write and say what they truly think, what they truly feel, not just what they think is politically advantageous. Sometimes honestly stated true opinion, or baldly stated facts, are also the politically savvy thing to propogate, sometimes not so much.

Perhaps dismissively saying "that's just spin" (the new "that's just bullshit") is actually not sufficient as an argument on its own. I suggest that maybe those who wish to debate need to find something more substantial than an accusation of spin.

I write this not just for you to read but also as a reminder to myself. Lately I find myself reading a lot of posts, particularly on Kiwiblog to be honest, and thinking "that's just spin."* My thoughts don't generally go much deeper than that. I know that I believe the other writer to be totally incorrect, but I don't bother constructing an argument, writing a comment, rebutting them on my own blog. Instead I just think, gee I really just want to write a three word comment to this: "spin, spin, spin".

So far I've resisted the urge. So far. I'm no purer than anyone else I suspect.

What do bloggers owe their readers? Do we owe you honesty? Do we owe you truth? No, not really.

A comment Make Tea Not War made (on a post she wrote about phalloblogcentrism at What We Said) challenged me to think about the annoyance I feel when other bloggers don't link or hat tip - we don't even owe each other that. There is no code of ethics for nz pol bloggers.

Personally, I am not generally crafting my posts to achieve a desired impact on the political landscape, nor do I lie** on here. For one this blog is too insignificant for that to be worthwhile. For two I can't be bothered. For three I'm more interested in putting my actual thoughts out there and getting some feedback. Others may share my motives, some may not.

Anyway, this has all been rotating in my head a while and it's getting in the way of me blogging about other stuff. Luckily, as you can see from the most recent Linky Love, there are many others not suffering from my internal thought-churning.

Normal (political) service no doubt resuming soon, but I'm be keen to procure the thoughts of others, by way of comments, on this post. Leave a message after the beep if you please.

* One example that particularly comes to mind is DPF's allegation that Wesley Primary possibly turned down Tastifoods free breakfasts offer as a result of Labour people talking to the PPTA, then a PPTA official saying something to PPTA members at the school, possibly the Principal. If you seriously want me to rebut this lunacy then I'm happy to do so, just say the word in comments.

** Note please - a lie is different from a mistake. I'm certainly not saying I've never made a mistake on Spanblather.

Some help, please

Any readers who can tell me what this is for? It was strung across a river wot I walked up recently.

Sole theory to date is that it is some way to keep the cows down river?

Ta muchly.


Guesses welcome, notional choc fishies on offer.

And there's still this pic awaiting a correct guess - now there's two clues in comments.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Linky Love - Volume 3

Again, 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.

Also, I am still looking for new blogs to add to my Bloglines - particulary foreign leftie and/or feminist links - suggestions welcome in comments or by email. Thank you for the links offered last time.

Alas (a blog) - Silly - poor people don't get choices - Maia writes about the conflict between choice and access in Texas, where the governor has decided to make the HPV vaccine compulsory for all girls before they can start school.

Alas (a blog) - Lactivist blogger attacked by National Pork Board - Rachel highlights the lawsuit an American blogger who promotes breast-feeding rights faced as the result of a funny t-shirt slogan.

Auckland's Burning - ROI and Activism - A post on the assessments activists need to make when organising their campaigns, namely will there be sufficient Return On Investment, by John.

Feministe - Dates with Daddy - Jill has an icky article on fathers swearing to protect their daughters' chastity in the USA. Warning: you may need a bucket handy.

Feministe - The Limits of Political Strategy - piny gives her thoughts on whether (and how) straight marrieds can contribute to the fight for queer marriage rights.

Just Left - Waitangi Day - Jordan Carter reveals his thoughts on our national day, and then posts further in response to many of the comments his original article attracted.

The Legal Soapbox - Feminism and having babies - Legal Eagle writes about her feminism and how it has evolved, particularly since becoming a mother. Also, a follow-up post by the same author, Motherhood and career - what is the answer?

No Right Turn - Typicalling misleading - Idiot/Savant takes DPF to task over his dodgy graph on government revenue (DPF also responds in comments).

Public Address - The thing you can't stand on - Tze Ming Mok has another killer post, this time ostensibly about the kerfuffle rippling outward from a request to fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag on the Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day.

Red in Roskill - Maori Party and Maori Political Power - Michael Wood gives his thoughts on the newest party in our parliament, and what its advent bodes for our political system, particularly for those on the Left.

Single Malt Social Democrat - In her Majesty's Service - Carl writes about the tensions of being a civil servant, and the extra scrutiny the public service faces from all and sundry.

Sir Humphrey's - Those dirty stinkin' capitalists! - Pyscho Milt writes in response to Maia's post at Alas (a blog) about clothes, sizes, etc, which I linked to in the last Linky Love.

Women of Color Blog - The Coward speaks - brownfemipower's brief post sums up my thoughts about the furore in the US that has resulted in a leading feminist blogger resigning from the John Edwards' campaign team after pressure from some religious lobbyists. While I understand and support Amanda Marcotte's decision to stand down* it makes me very sad and I wish we lived in a world, and operated in a political system, where it wan't necessary for The Game.

Previous Editions:
Linky Love - Vol. 2 (4th Feb. 2007)
Linky Love - Vol 1. (23rd Jan. 2007)

* Pandagon is currently down due to a DOS attack, which is unfortunately not surprising given all the effort some on the US right have been putting in to attacking one of it's authors for daring to have a personal opinion, expressed on her personal blog, about issues they don't like, and criticising them for their stances. GRRRRR! When it comes back up I will put in a link to Amanda's post about her decision to resign. Update, 15th Feb 2007 9.41am - Pandagon is now back up and I have put in the link.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


May not be posting much until next week but please feel free to keep commenting, and I'll poke my head in when I can. Don't forget that there is a new pic up to guess on.

Monday, February 05, 2007

National's "new" policy agenda

A funny thing happened on the way to being in Government (or not). It seems that National have forgotten that their party has internal policy processes.

Since John Key's elevation to the leadership he's made a number of announcements and references indicating a significant policy shift. This creates some confusion for back-room boffins like myself, when Key makes speeches indicating a move away from Don Brash-era policies like a timeframe for immediately abolishing the Maori seats*, focusing on the issue of climate change (which Key and other leading figures considered questionable not that long ago), not to mention endorsing a nuclear-free New Zealand. Did National squeeze in some remit voting between Brash stepping down and Key opening his mouth?

Most recently, in his Jan. 30th "State of the Nation" speech, Key announced school breakfasts (yep, that's right, really BIG policy stuff) and this month there has been a policy announcement about putting Corrections back into Justice. Those with longer memories may recall that a) many low decile schools started breakfast programmes years ago, and b) National took Corrections out of Justice in the first place when it was last in power.

Now please don't think I don't want National to talk policy. I definitely do - not only so that voters can see what National would do in power, but also because I think it's an important part of democracy that the Opposition not only criticise but also put forward alternatives.

But in the wake of The Hollow Men and the insight that gave into National's policy processes prior to the 2005 election, you'd think Key would be trying to distance himself from the perception that National are more Decepticonz than neocons. By changing policy himself, by media statement and speech-making, he is signalling that National is still a party which will change policy not via it's own, long-standing democratic processes, but to suit political whims.

I'm also a little perturbed by National's approach to industrial relations, which Jordan has already blogged about. Key has said that they wouldn't shift away from the ERA as the key piece of legislation, however continuing to endorse Wayne Mapp's 90 day probation law suggests that National would still want to make some radical changes to employment law.

So perhaps a reader who is in National would care to comment - do Key's announcements reflect recent internal policy debates (and of course their outcomes)? Please note, anonymous comments have never been banned on this blog.

* I first started writing this post in early Dec 2006. Now Key has actually gone back to almost Brash's policy, but he has still delayed the possible implementation of the abolition by three to six years on what Brash promised, to 2014. I smell the whiff of a bargaining chip for negotiations with the Maori Party myself, but Sharples and Turia don't appear to appreciate the game playing.

They Look Like Us Now

I seem to be perenially behind the pack on new sci-fi series, but I'm catching up. Big ups to the friends who provide DVDs to educate me.

My latest new venture is the modern Battlestar Galactica, and my dealer is Mr the Red (who doesn't get a link until he blogs again!).

I have vague memories of the first time around, although mostly they are consumed by my anger when the childhood friend I asked to tape a crucial episode when I was away did so, but clearly stopped the video about ten minutes before the end. Needless to say, that's not a friendship that is still extant.

Anyway, I remember enough to recognise Richard Hatch when he pops up in the series (as a terrorist, hah hah!), and to know that when the female Starbuck lights up one of those fat cigar things she is channelling her predecessor.

I'm hopeful I'll be writing more about BSG as I motor through the rest of the first series* and then the second, but for now I wanted to write about a few of the aspects of the show that have really struck me:

1. Gina (No. 6) - The beautiful woman no one can see - I'm not sure how I feel about this beyond thinking it's a damn clever device. The fact that she's also a cylon means that there are levels of deception even when she does appear to the crew of the Big G as Shelley Godfrey (and prompts the line that makes me chuckle every time I think of it, "No more Mr Nice Gaius!")

And now that I'm typing "Godfrey", I'm wondering about the symbolism of that moniker, given her intense religion and the way she pushes it on Baltar...

2. The entwining of contemporary political phrases in episodes - early on there's "we do not negotiate with terrorists", and I noticed quite a few other references to the War on Terror. The first series (which is what I'm gleaning this from) was shown in 2004 I think? And so far the references to George W Bush's politics have been rather negatively portrayed, imho.

3. The effort made to represent women in leadership roles, and include non-white actors - but I'm yet to see anything other than heterosexuality on the screen.

4. The running of the space-based military seems to have evolved from airforce, not navy - certainly in sci-fi writing it hasn't been uncommon for spaceships to run on naval lines, and I'm sure I can remember at least one TV series (readers help me out here!) where it was explicitly explained how they got from the sea to space. After all, we'd call them spaceplanes otherwise wouldn't we?

5. The humanoid cylons appear to be in charge of the machinery ones - which says interesting things about how humanoids really feel about their creators. The way that three of them (at least) are playing with Helo on Caprica reminds me of a science experiment, and is not that different from how we might treat a new species we discovered if we were able to manipulate it covertly. Contrast this with Starbuck carving up the cylon raider she finds when she crashes - she's all about the surviving, which I'm sure I will be too when I'm crash-landed on a strange moon without a breathable atmosphere.

Here's a very tempting link I found - Wikipedia's comparison of the modern and original BSGs. Beware though, lots of spoilers therein, which had me yelling "No!" at the puter screen until I could bring myself to click the little red box with the X in.

What I'm looking forward to watching unfold:
  • Boomer Galactica realising she's a cylon and coping with that
  • Starbuck fending off the attentions of Baltar
  • Boomer Caprica and her fellow cylons revealing their motivations for whatever it is they are doing with Helo
  • No. 6 revealing more of this weird cylon religion
  • Finding out how they are dealing with the food crisis that they mentioned in the second episode of the first series. Hasn't come up again yet. Not so big on the annoying plot holes here in Spanland.
Ok readers, what are your observations of BSG? Don't worry too much about giving away spoilers (unless they directly relate to the bullet points I've listed above).

* So far I've watched the mini-series and about half of the first series.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Linky Love - Volume 2

Continuing with the This Is Not A Link Farm, But Actually It So Is thing...

Alas (a blog) - Looking Professional - Maia (also of CBTP) writes on the issues surrounding the purchase of clothes for job interviews, and the difficulties faced by those whose bodies don't conform. Copious comments too.

Capitalism Bad - What we've lost - A well-written post from Maia about the change in language in the abortion debate from "A woman's right to choose" to "pro-choice."

Feministe - State of the Union: Hot Chicks Get Naked! - Jill writes about the anti-woman bent of PETA's latest campaign.

Frogblog - John Key's State of the Nation speech - Russel Norman gives a succint summary of the good and bad in the new National leader's 30th Jan speech.

Feministe - Feeding the Crocodiles - piny has a scary post about the trend towards accusations of "fetal abuse" in the USA. In other words, when you are preggers you are just a baby carrier and nothing else. So much for being a person too!

I See Red - Party activist bloggers - Tony Milne contributes a revealing article (complete with cool graph, he's so good at the cool graphs!) about the tensions of being a party activist and also having a private blog.

No Right Turn - What the Royal Commission really said about the Maori Seats - Idiot/Savant contributes a much needed article refuting the National spin that the Royal Commission recommended abolition.

NZ Human Rights Lawyer - Set Tasers to Spun - Actual lawyer (as opposed to all us pretend ones) Mark Lillico covers a recent court decision around pepper spray and draws the links to the current police taser trial.

One Tenacious Baby Mama - Blog for Choice Senior Kindergarten style - darkdaughta writes powerfully about the ride to school for her child, and the abortion clinic they pass together.

Pandagon - Help Chris Muir Find Teh Funny - Some great remixes of a climate change denial cartoon, put together by Amanda Marcotte.

Pandagon - Beg, Borrow or Steal (But Mostly Borrow) - ilyka has written about the NOW letter to the US Senate supporting the probably rise in the minimum wage in the States, and includes detail from the anecdotal research NOW attached. While it's in the American context, it sounds very familiar, and clearly many of the arguments made against increasing the minimum wage are the same here as there. ilyka has ferretted out some of the particular anecdotes which rebut those points.

Red in Roskill - Progressive Christianity - Michael Wood's post on what he sees as his faith, and some interesting comments in response.

What We Said - Why I Am a Feminist - Make Tea Not War talks about why she became a feminist in the first place and why she is still one today.

Again, 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.

Also, I am looking for new blogs to add to my Bloglines - particulary foreign leftie and/or feminist links - suggestions welcome in comments or by email.

Related links:
Linky Love - Volume 1 (23rd Jan. 2007)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Eanee Meanie Minee Meme

You scored as Anarcho-Communist. Anarcho-communists seek to build a society based upon a decentralised federation of autonomous communes and a moneyless 'gift economy'. The movement first emerged in the late 19th century and has had a large influence particularly in Spain, Italy and Russia. Key thikers include Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta.









Christian Anarchist




What kind of Anarchist are you?
created with

Hat-tip: DPF

Also note, Krimsonlake has done this too.

Like both of the other answerers linked, I don't consider myself an anarchist, so I guess this is relatively meaningless. A meaningless meme, you don't say!

Anyway, I note that I also scored highly for the Syndicalist and Feminist versions or anarchism, which is not surprising either, but reassuring.


Let's see how y'all go with this one.

Last winner was HORansome, on two counts. Well done H!