labellementeuse: kristen stewart in a blazer & really emo eyeshadow (misc gaystew army)
1. So get_together is taking place on Guy Fawkes weekend, y'all. Who would walk up Mt Vic with me at 8 on Saturday? Are we likely to still be eating then?

2. My bitter, apolitical boss (politics self-described as right-wing fascist) was reading the PREFU today and – I shouldn't find it amusing but sadly I do – getting absolutely riled. Particularly, spending on Health and Education – the two biggest areas of expenditure - is predicted to not increase at all (in 2011 dollars) over the next five years. No changes at all. This is effectively (apparently) something like an 8 – 10% cut in teachers', nurses', doctors' salaries. This means health and education is becoming a smaller proportion of the budget (which does get larger) – i.e. health and education are lower priorities over the next five years. It's all sort of astounding and frustrating and it's added to my increasing feeling of desperation, fury, and incapacity. I just don't see what I can do about it and it's stressing me out.

3. Relatedly, [personal profile] hazel has been incandescent in classy political rage lately, highly recommended.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)

An engraving from the New Zealand Graphic, 21 July 1894, depicts a woman holding a flag that reads: 'Perfect Political Equality'. A man is helping her up to what is labelled the 'Parliamentary Heights'. Visible in the background is a mountain labelled '1893' (the year New Zealand women gained the vote).

118 years ago New Zealand women achieved equal suffrage. Spearheaded by the Women's Christian Temperance Union, activists like Kate Sheppard, Meri Mangakāhia, Ada Wells, Anna Stout, and Wilhemina Bain knew that in order to have fair, well-rounded, true and, basically, good law and policy, all parts of society needed to have a voice in lawmaking.

Meri te Tai Mangakahia, a suffragistNew Zealand's most famous suffragist, Kate Sheppard, memorialised on our $10 note.

(Above: Meri Mangakāhia and Kate Sheppard.)

And not to beat a drum too hard, but in November we have a chance to affirm their legacy by voting to retain MMP, a proportional system which leads to a more diverse Parliament - a Parliament that makes better legislation.

New Zealand's first woman MP, Elizabeth McCombs, wasn't elected until the 1930s. In the early 90s under FPP women were only 20% of MPs. Under MMP that number rose to 30%, and it also heralded the first Pacific  and Asian Cabinet ministers (among others). An MMP parliament looks, simply, more like New Zealand. Don't get complacent. Even if you don't want to vote this year, make MMP your reason.

Don't let them down.

labellementeuse: kristen stewart in a blazer & really emo eyeshadow (misc gaystew army)
I just find this conversation obscurely amusing, IDK why, perhaps it's the idea of Spotted Kiwi fandom.

Moi: hey the phrase "lesser spotted kiwi fandom" is clear, right? Where it's talking about rare, nz, fandoms? & can only be hyphenated "lesser-spotted kiwi fandom"?
seemsforever: CORRECT as far as i'm concerned.
seemsforever: ps. a spotted kiwi is a thing, right? if you hyphenated it you'd have a smaller group of fans of the spotted kiwi.
seemsforever: .. as opposed to the other, huger, fandom of which spotted kiwi are the subject. RAD

I mean so like, obviously everyone ships Greater/Lesser (usually known as Little, according to Wiki, but Lesser sounds so much nicer). Angst in the fandom is all about how Lesser just can't survive the predation on the mainland! Wank in the fandom is all about how come nobody ever writes Lesser/Brown when they're obviously the closest. Rowi has waif fu. Haast and Southern Tokoeka are a smug married couple. etc.
labellementeuse: stylised picture of a tui (a native NZ bird.) textless. (misc tui art)
So this one time at get/together everyone was talking about how AWESOME a Kiwi Fandoms Fest would be, remember that one time?

SO NOW [personal profile] china_shop's making it happen. GO, JOIN, RIGHT NOW.
labellementeuse: A picture of a woman with the text ''I am full to the brim with you" (misc full to the brim)

more )

I hope those of you who celebrate are having a wonderful day in your local climate. And I hope those of you who don't aren't too frustrated by your friendslist right now. ♥
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (ron's approach to pseudoscience)
This is incredible. The best part about it is the way you would really only have to push the Listener a tiny, tiny bit to produce exactly this cover.

I laughed for like, five minutes straight.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (my marxist feminist dialectic)
The Hand Mirror wants you to write to your local MPs to tell them to support Steve Chadwick, and so do I.

Listen up: it's vital not to get complacent about the state of abortion in New Zealand. There is a wide misperception that we have abortion available on demand. We do not. After a terrible defeat in the late 1970s, what we have is a law which says that women may only have an abortion if it threatens their health. Of late this bill has been interpreted in such a way that mental health is also considered - but women still have to see two consultants and get them to approve their decision about what to do with their own body. Bloggers at THM have written tonnes about abortion and accessing it in New Zealand under their abortion tag, but the long and the short of it is that abortion is tough to access here and it's worse for poor women. Even if you don't think having an abortion should be made legally easier (for I feel that, irregardless of the legalty, having an abortion will always be a difficult decision for any woman) the social inequities must be fixed, and this bill should help.

So please, write to your MPs while Chadwick is soliciting their support. And don't be complacent.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (tui art)
[ profile] paintmarks sent me snowflakes! Thanks hon :)

So today I started my new job, reference checker & proofreader at the Waitangi Tribunal. Because they planned for me to start actually doing my job on Wednesday, and before that basically had a bunch of style guides and one or two articles for me to read, by 1pm today I was like "doo doo doo... nothing to do!" (I mean, really.) So my boss got me started on reading this book on the Waitangi Tribunal called, um, The Waitangi Tribunal: Te Roopu Whakamana i te Tiriti o Waitangi. (Ed. J Hayward and N Wheen for anyone who wants to go look this up, which I don't know why you would want to do, but whatever.) It's basically a bunch of chapters on a bunch of different aspects of the Tribunal - history, procedure, etc. A couple of chapters compare it to other nations' methods of dealing with indigenous peoples' land rights, and one chapter was on Canada. Want to hear something really, really horrifying?

So British Columbia has been pretty slack on acknowledging that First Peoples have any land rights at all. They finally got around to it a while ago, like maybe 15 years or so, and established the BCTC - BC Treaty Commission, which is a tiny bit like the Waitangi Tribunal in, like, a few ways. Not very many. But you want to hear the best difference, and by best, I mean worst? So the BCTC is funded 8% by the federal gvt of Canada, 12% by BC itself, and 80% by... a loan to the First Peoples of BC. In fact these various tribes etc now owe CDN$177 MILLION, over about 50 claims, and NONE of the claims have been resolved - only one of them is CLOSE to being finished. The BCTC is only authorised to give out CDN$7 million per claim. Do you see what's happening here? Hi, guys... we took your land and left you impoverished and for a couple of hundred years we refused to acknowledge that you might deserve or need any kind of compensation at all, and now, hey, you can have it! But any money that we give you you're going to have to give right back to pay off the costs of us admitting that we did something wrong! Neat, huh?

-- this is all current to when my book was written, about 2003-4, I think. But even if they've fixed it since then - and I note via Wiki that it's now the British Columbia Treaty Process, but other than that nothing particularly encouraging - how does that kind of thing even happen?

Also, because I feel like it, a meme via [profile] deutscheami (of whose hints I didn't get a single answer, but never mind.)
1. Put your iPod on shuffle
2. DO NOT write down the lyrics of the first 15-20 songs to come up.
3. Describe what the song is about. Be creative.
4. Cross out the songs when your friends guess them in the comments.
away we go )

I have my interview for the publishing course at Whitireia tomorrow morning. Advice and well-wishes gratefully appreciated!
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
ALSO, deliberately making this a separate post to be an asshole but also because THIS IS IMPORTANT:

Please vote YES this week.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (nita & kit)
You know what amazes me? The number of people I know who celebrated Obama's victory, but are now going to toddle along to the polls and vote for John. Yes, it's change - but America has just had eight years with George Bush, a righty. They did not like those eight years - at all. People got sick and couldn't afford medical care, people got unemployed and couldn't find jobs and then unemployment money cut off so they starved. America started two wars which look like they'll be awhile finishing and were almost as unpopular as the Vietnam war. America banned gay marriage in a bunch of states. America just elected Obama, a lefty. Now, we've just had nine years with the Labour government, which is lefty. People liked the government for quite a long time because we'd just had nine years with a National government - a government which was the least honest government in New Zealand's history, keeping only 50% of their election-year promises. This National government slashed benefits of all kinds, sold state housing, etc. Child poverty TRIPLED as a direct result just of selling the state houses. University fees increased dramatically and means-tested student allowances were introduced. So a Labour/left government was a change New Zealand could believe in. But it's been nine years now and people are starting to dislike it... why, again? We haven't entered an unpopular war. People's access to healthcare has not decreased. Unemployment has been reduced by about half. We have slightly increased our awareness of the environment. Most of the reasons I've heard recently are from people who think it's "time for a change" - apparently no matter what the change is - and people who don't like Helen Clark. Really? That's it?

Dear people who want a change: the change you're voting on in New Zealand is not the change from Bush to Obama. The change you're voting for is the change from Bill Clinton (a lefty who people didn't like because he'd had an affair - a slightly better reason to dislike him than "she's ugly", of course, but still one that's not actually related to politics in any way, shape, or form) to... well... George Bush, a righty.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (bestfriends4evah!1!!)
Oh hey, and DON'T FORGET: Saturday is election day, which means TOMORROW is the LAST DAY you can register to vote. PLEASE register and PLEASE vote!
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
I just read an article on that the government plans to change course funding from the bums-on-seats method currently being used, where courses which attract higher numbers of students are more likely to continue to be funded. While this is theoretically great - because that approach involves chasing students, extremely competitive courses, and ultimately a huge loss of variety and broadness of course spectrum - I'm a little concerned about what they're changing it to.

Says the Stuff article, "[The Government] want[s] to change the emphasis from funding [courses] based on the number of students they attract to providing courses that are seen to be in the national interest." Adds Dr Cullen, "While academic freedom would be recognised, universities had acknowledged the public had a right to see taxpayers' money was used responsibly and strategically." That's okaaaaaay, although I am hesitant to say that Jo/e Public is the judge of what is a responsible use of funding - quite probably s/he would be perfectly happy with the continued loss of funding in the Arts degree, which suffers because people think it's useless (despite the fact that money from these popular courses is frequently used to fund expensive courses like Science and Engineering.) I don't like thinking that the value of so-called "useless" or "unpractical" courses like the poetry writing and reading course I'm taking is dependent for its continued existence on it being seen as valuable to the "national interest."

Sound alarmist? Maybe - surely the gvt can be trusted to keep its nose out of the Universities' choices? Except maybe not, because the article concludes: "The changes would be gradual not revolutionary and would steer universities into a greater partnership with business and their communities."

Um. Excuse me? Universities are supposed to be acting with the Business Roundtable now? But I don't wanna!

This move has been welcomed by the Otago University Students' Association and the NZ Vice-Chancellor's Committee (Headed by Roy Sharp, the busy little bee!) But that might have more to do with the $126 million in funding that comes with it, including some to help with the funding shift and some to help attract and retain staff to keep NZ universities competitive/respected internationally. I'd be interested to see what the New Zealand University Students' Association and the Association of University Staff have to say about it, but there's nothing yet. And maybe I am being paranoid and insane, but, yeesh, seriously, it does sound a little dodgy, right? It's not just me?
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
Today was Waitangi Day, which commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, February the 6th, 1840.

I didn't think much about the Treaty today, except when I walked past the festival at Waitangi Park in Wellington - the first time, I think, there's been any kind of celebration in Wellington (there's always a big thing at Waitangi marae, of course.) I do know celebrating it is not always considered kosher. The Treaty of Waitangi was supposed to do three things: 1. give sovreignty to the British crown, 2. guarantee Maori land rights and customary rights and taonga and 3. guarantee Maori equal rights as citizens. Of course, it's kind of tough to say exactly what the Treaty was supposed to do since it was not translated all that well.

We didn't manage to live up to it all that well. The Waitangi Tribunal, which is supposed to investigate breaches of treaty and make reparations where appropriate, is normally pretty busy. Ironically, some Pakeha begin to feel hard done by, since (apparently) this makes Maori more privileged. I don't need to tell any of you that, with Maori persistently over-represented in poor health, poverty and crime stats, that simply isn't true. We can do better.

I don't know if I would call the treaty our constitution. Maybe our founding document. But I believe in the treaty principles and their active application in everyday life. I believe biculturalism is vital to New Zealand (and so is multiculturalism.)

That's really all. I'm not smart about this and I'm not very educated but I know it is important and I want to acknowledge that.

Instead of being real thinky though, today I went to the beach, got sunburnt, swam, drank wine and ate junk food and walked for two hours. I had a great time and I'm really going to miss Welly when I go back to Christchurch this Saturday.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
1. Stupidly excited by Sam and Dean on the cover of the Dom Post's TV Week. I can't wait to watch the pilot on actual television. *silly*


3. John Key gave his first big speech today - his Orewa, I guess you'd say. I know he's actually forgoing the Orewa speech (Winston Peters will be speaking instead), presumably to avoid recalling Orewa '04. The transcript is here, and I just want to tell you all that I told you so. Oh yeah, he's all about his tough upbringing, and how everyone can take advantage of opportunity, and it doesn't matter how much money your parents have if you can just see the ladder and make your way up it. (What a metaphor, honestly.)

There are in the middle of the speech some fairly dramatic surprised that I am reluctant to admit impressed me. He acknowledged (or appeared to acknowledge) the fact that poverty and crime and blah blah are cyclical and that not everyone can get out of these neighbourhoods. (The speech was all about bad neighborhoods and New Zealand's "emerging underclass", which is terribly interesting because National is not exactly historically the party of the poor. Everyone wants good health and public education systems. These come with taxes. Left wing parties say, okay, we'll take the taxes; right wing parties say, hey, we'll take the tax cuts and pay for them ourselves. Except that the less money you have, the smaller your tax cut is, the less it helps you out, and the less likely you are to be able to pay for expensive private education and medical care, which you have to go to because the tax cuts meant there wasn't enough money to maintain high standards in this area. Oh, diversion.) He talked a bit about engrained helplessness and youth suicide (sort of) and it's actually very exciting to see someone mention youth suicide.

But the third section is basically unsurprising and frustrating, a lot of things about how throwing money at the problems won't fix them, smaller government, family dysfunction has flourished under Labour (he "proves" this by pointing to the Kahui family, who were receiving about a thousand dollars per week all up from the government. I don't know how many people were receiving some of this money and he didn't bother to explain what they were getting it for, but seriously. One hot-button example does NOT demonstrate that family dysfunction has flourished. Anecdotal evidence is only worth the paper it's not written on.) He was quite explicit about being tough on parole (Graeme Burton is a gift to his policy making. I'm only surprised he didn't bring up Jayden Headley since he's name-checking horrifying high-profile news stories...) and obviously anti "the rights of criminals" which, more on that later. He also spent a lot of time on welfare dependency which just makes me want to say ARGH. yes, there are people who are welfare dependent - but - right now we have the lowest unemployment ever and 67% of npeople on the dole are only on it short term - ie less than six months. NOBODY is acknowledging this.

The fourth section is just bizarre - apparently, the way to solve problems like kids coming to school without lunches is to encourage philanthropism in local businesses. Um, okay, then. Good luck with that, Mr Key. You may be happy giving away some of your millions but the whole thing about tax cuts doesn't come about because your core voters are real generous types. (Although I guess they like to *think* of themselves as generous, as long as they're being generous to hungry kids and not criminals, or sick people, or disabled people, or teenaged mothers. Or roads. Or schools that aren't in their classy neighbourhood.)

4. There was a very interesting article on the difference between NZ and Scandinavian prisons in the Dom Post today. It's not online as far as I can see but read it if you get a chance; basically it was about the fact that Scandinavia acknowledges that simply being in prison is a significant punishment and works to make sure that its prisoners don't suffer unnecessarily in prison. And let's all remember what Scandinavia's crime rates are. (They're low.) Ironically on Sunday there was a big cover of the news paper - Bailey Junior Kurariki has been denied parole at 17 for his part in killing a pizza delivery boy when he was 12. Parole Board basically said he was a very high risk of reoffending, that he had not matured in prison and showed no sign of remorse. Wow, guys, that's a huge shock. You took a 12 year old (who was obviously pretty screwed up to begin with), chucked him in prison, and five years later he's probably a worse danger to society than he was before he was convicted. Who could have predicted this outcome?
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
The apocalypse countdown is officially on. I have the first three signs right here: SYWTBAW movie news. Comet McNaught. And the new one: Supernatural is airing on New Zealand television! The pilot (yeah, the season one pilot, yeah, we're about two years behind, yeah, I know. You should see how far behind we are with SGA. Or BSG. And they're showing S1 of New Who right now, but pretty sure those are re-runs.) anyway, it's airing on TV2 Friday the second of February, at 8:30, followed by Smallville at 10:35. I don't know what the regular schedule is going to be - whether it's going to be Smallville followed by SPN like it is in the States after they've gotten past the extra-length pilot - but, yeah, I'm amazed.

It's so nice to see we're getting exactly the same amount of publicity for the show here as in the US, which is to say, fuck all. Which is a real problem for us, so, guys, tune in, write to TV2 and say how much you like it.

It's actually interesting that we've changed a whole bunch of nights around from what they are in the States, whereas quite often we leave them the same - our prime-time wednesday night schedule last autumn was, I think, pretty much identical to the US. It's also an interesting indicator to look at what shows we get directly and what shows we get after some time - we got Heroes and Ugly Betty, which have done so well in the States, and Lost of course immediately after they air in the States (ie, they start the season during that same season's hiatus) and the ones that don't do so well - *pets SPN gently* - we get a bit later or not at all.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
Five Things I Think About The National Party Leadership Thing:

1. I am, on the whole, relieved Brash has finally resigned. On the one hand, Brash continuing to lead the Nats might have been the one thing that would have guaranteed their defeat next election. On the other hand, I hate the man. And less personally, Brash said he'd resign if he lost the 2005 election - they lost and he didn't. He repeatedly campaigned against Labour's so-called disrespect for the instituton of marriage - while having an affair (again, natch.) He gave a speech at Orewa which set back (in my opinion) bilateral race relations in NZ, inciting and validating anti-Maori and anti-Treaty sentiment by encouraging the fantasy of the Maori privilege. (Which, god. Don't you think if there were Maori privilege their health, education and economic statistics would be less depressing? Idiots.) He's also a hopeless politician, has frequently been corrected on his party's policy and is IMO a hopeless party leader and unable to take criticism.The latest, as most of you probably know, is a book released containing a whole bunch of emails that are apparently very embarassing from a politcal perspective, revealing all kinds of corruption and so on. So, you know, goodbye, Don, you won't be missed.

2. Speaking of The Hollow Men, what's that you say, Nicky Hager? The Nats used the leader's budget for advertising very similarly to the way you've been complaining Labour did? My goodness! How shocking.

3. I want to disclaim at this point that I'm not and have never been a big fan of Nicky Hager - although apparently he's a lovely guy face to face, I just can't get over the Corngate thing. On the other hand, come on, I'm supposed to react negatively to an expose of corruption and party politics within the Nats? Please, i'm not made that way. Scoophas some info here and there's more about everywhere. It's all the NZ political blogs are talking about, ha-ha.

4. I'm also interested that the big Exclusive Brethren hoo-ha in the book also seems to smear John Key, who is going to be the next leader of the Opposition (which, yeah, we all picked about a hundred years ago, but me and [ profile] blademistress were rooting for Bill English anyway. You can do it, Bill: lead national to its greatest electoral defeat! Again!) Anyway, I expect Key will stick around anyway. I'm a little disheartened by this because Key is just young enough for me to count him as a New Conservative and god, I cannot stand the Young Conservatives. They are self-entitled unsympathetic supercilious brats who, because they were raised with every opportunity in the world, cannot conceive of someone not being able o do just as well as they did through anything but lazinss - or natural stupidity, which of course should be punished, probably by burning at the stake.

Yeah, I'm a little vehement about them. Blech. Anyway, since Key grew up in a much-vaunted state house in Christchurch - with headlines like "Christchurch state house boy makes good!" because, you know, being from state housing is just like being a youth criminal! Anyway anyway, I probably can't complain about him being entitled but, you know. I also think the very bright have this same problem - I got out of state housing / made a million bucks / funded my university on scholarship / whatever, why can't everyone else? Which to me fundamentally misses the point - it's not whether or not everyone can or can't, it's that some people don;t and they are not by virtue of that less valuable.

Anyway AGAIN, 5. David Slack linked to a quiz on Key's conscience voting record (it has the answers at the end) which is kind of interesting if a little schizophrenic; he voted against the CUB (black mark!) but for the relationships statutory references (equal treatment of all relationships including de facto and same sex under the law: I suppose this is less surprising since he's younger) and against the gender clarification, hich would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The possible explanation for this is that he was against the CUB on second-class citizen grounds. Otherwise it's mostly unsurprising - he wants lots of tax write-offs for businesses, what a shocker, and he voted to control street prostitution in Manakau and to liberalise shop trading on Easter.

I can only hope that under Key's leadership national will go back to being all about the money, because nobody likes tax cuts, right? Right? oh god.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
'Fess up: who slipped Helen alcohol today? has an article, and well, some of the highlights:

On Don Brash:

"Labour regards Dr Brash as a corrosive and cancerous person within the New Zealand political system."

"What began this appalling slide in political standards was having a polarising leader of the Opposition – a man who I do not believe should be leading anything in New Zealand."

On Labour MP Trevor Mallard, who said some nasty things about dotty old Don:

"He was responding very, very strongly to quite ridiculous and outrageous attacks on me and on the New Zealand Labour Party and we are not going to stand by and have the sort of behaviour go on that has gone on."
"Personal attacks form no part of Labour's strategy. That's where Trevor was out of line," and yet,

"He did not start it."

Or, to put it another way: the Opposition made him do it!

Apart from alcohol, I think the whole Davis thing was the absolute last straw. Helen's marriage has always been the target of criticism - much less than Don's ever was - and frankly I think someone just went a little too far.

As for the rest of the article: Labour is not trying to divert attention from the pledge card debacle, because you know what? The Exclusive Brethren thing was exposed before the pledge card thing, in fact before last election. 1.2 million dollars is a really significant sum, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars more than were involved in the pledge card thing. Russell Brown writes about Exclusive Brethren spending here and overseas.

On a more amusing note, satire is always good. (So, by the way, is their news coverage. Very thorough, especially of parliament but also national and international news. Plus, they have a category for "strange and bizarre." That's nifty.) Highlight today: Investigate magazine to claim Clark/Brash affair, by Lyndon Hood, which is fairly hysterical.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
Okay, let's review, shall we? New Zealand has a robust, bitchy Parliamentary system in which members will backstab, connive, pointscore, mudsling, in short, do anything to keep life interesting in the Beehive. The media usually stays far away from commentary on private life but everything else is open season.

May 2005, National opens up with accusing Labour MP David Benson-Pope of abusing his authority during his time as a teacher. B-P denies allegations (and mostly has the support of Labour); they remain fairly unsubstantiated (after he hit the news, there were plenty of students willing to come forward and say they'd suffered under his iron rule. But only after.) There was unbelievable rhetoric directed against him, including stuff that even if he did absolutely everything he was accused of doing it would have been inappropriate.

post-election, 2005, it is revealed that the Exclusive Brethren have been campaigning for National, spending up to 1.2 MILLION dollars advertising to support them; money that was not reported to the electoral officer. (This is way illegal because NZ parties have a certain amount they're allowed to spend, and no more.) It is slightly dodgy territory because they advertised using National's slogans - "Change the Government" - and EB leaders were transparent in support of National but they didn't actually put "vote Nats!" on the pamphlets BUT... anyway, you get the picture. More crucially, Don Brash actually lied about his knowledge of the pamphlet's existence. (there's a whole bunch of other dodgy stuff about them but anyways.)

There is a period of mostly quiet, which is nice for a change (anyone following parliament a bit more closely know much about what was going on here?) Jane Clifton describes it as a policy of "nuclear dirt-terrent."

Then this week, it is revealed that National leader Don Brash has been having an affair with a woman on the Business Roundtable. This is politically dodgy - not for the affair, for whom it was with - but it had been kept quiet by the media for about a year until, and this is important, National MPs brought it up in caucus and then leaked it to the papers. This really broke major NZ media taboos on commenting on the private lives of politicians; I was watching the news tonight and they came up with two examples of this happening before in NZ media (David Lange's affair, about twenty years ago, and Rob "I am an asshole and everyone hates me!" Muldoon's accusing a Labour MP of being gay thirty years ago.) I don't like this at all and the ONLY reason I could be even a little bit okay with this is that apparently the woman he was sleeping with has a lot of control over, for example, National party funding by the Roundtable.


Today? Someone (*cough* NATS *cough*) has started spreading rumours about Helen Clark's husband, Peter Davis being gay. Specifically, there is a photo of him hugging Ian Scott, a gay Labour supporter.

The problem for the smear campaign is that this photo was taken on election night. Labour had just won. Probably, if Don Brash had been in the room, Davis and Scott would have hugged him and it sure wouldn't be because of powerful sexual attraction, kids.

I just can't express how furious this makes me. It's bad enough that because Helen is PM, she's constantly being accused of being a lesbian. (The favourite conspiracy of right-wing jerkoffs in this country is the lesbian cabal running the country. Think the gay agenda, but with special political oomph.) But now, because it's been publicly revealed that Don Brash is having an affair, someone has to make these things up out of whole cloth? NOT FUCKING ON, NZ media. We're sinking to an international low, here.

The worst of it is, it detracts from commentary about exactly why Don Brash's affair might be politically (rather than morally or personally) dodgy. Apart from corruption, he's repeatedly campaigned on a platform of conservative marriage values, for example. But this thing frankly makes it all about the sex lives of our not-so-rich and powerful. Because the thing is, if Helen were a lesbian and Davis were a gay man, they'd a) still have a more functional marriage than Brash and both is ex-wives and b) they'd at least be being honest with each other and c) it still wouldn't affect Helen's fitness for office or Davis' fitness for, um, being professor of Sociology at Auckland University. Just like, in my opinion, Brash's affairs are not what's relevant to his unfitness for office.

Okay, I'm done.
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
Attention! Instead of reading the following boring bitching about New Zealand politicians' sex scandals, you should really just read Tze Ming Mok's hysterical latest.

Sometimes when I'm bored on my Thursday evening shift, I write little lists of what I would prefer to be writing an LJ entry about. Sometimes I write the entry, sometimes I don't, but anyway. Tonight's list had just one item: I can't believe I'm writing about Don Brash again.

That's right, boys and girls of the foreign persuasion. Don "My wife is Chinese* so I can't be racist or anti-immigration", "If National loses the 2005 election I will resign," "I lose my debates with Helen Clark on purpose because it's not nice to be rude to women", "Helen knows my party's policy better than I do" Brash, unbeloved, fuddy-duddy, conservative, frankly bad politician Leader of the Opposition, is back in the news. (National did in fact lose the election, and he... did not step down. Hm.)

Unfortunately, I find myself in the position of supporting him. Excuse me while I go bleach my brain.

This is the thing: New Zealand has something of a tradition of keeping its nose out of the private lives of its politicians, and I generally think this is a really good thing. There are exceptions, times when a politician's private life is relevant (and, obviously, things like corruption and all over everywhere) but as a rule, the validity of what a politician is saying should be judged by what they're saying, not by the politician. This is, I believe, part of the reason the NZ parliament includes a rastafarian and an transsexual.

Now, Don Brash is well-known to have cheated on his first wife with the woman who would become his second - and current, Singaporean - wife. The irony of his conservative positions on marriage is not lost on anyone, but it's not usually considered kosher to bring this up in debates. A few days ago it was leaked that Brash is having marital problems (he's taking a sabbatical, I believe, from which I suspect he will not be returning) and someone in Brash's own party basically said in Parliament that he's been cheating again.

(If anyone not a Kiwi is still reading along, there's been a whole heap of shit-slinging in Parliament lately. First Philip Field is being accused of corruption (Tze Ming Mok's analysis of what he's supposed to have done is here, if anyone has a better one gimme a shout), then the Labour party is being accused of breaking laws using the wrong money to pay for some pledge cards (no link because this is pretty cut-and-dried: it clearly wasn't an intentional mistake, I doubt it significantly affected election results, for fuck's sake, Helen, just pay back the money and everyone will call it quits.) THEN Labour basically threatened to loose the hounds dirt files. This is apparently the first taste of that although, as I said, the original volley came from within National.

Also, National has been trying to smear Labour for... some time, actually, and Labour has generally been fairly restrained about responding, so I guess it was time.)

Okay, that is a very longwinded lot of paragraphs for me to get around to saying: I don't like Don Brash. I think he's not a very good politician and on those occasions when he does manage to articulate opinion I invariably find myself in vehement disagreement (Orewa nearly gave me apoplexy); he certainly managed to revitalise failing National support but he did it in a way that really altered the shape of Parliament, to a shape I don't like (polarised, virtually two-party); and above all, I think that he should have done as he said he would and resigned after National lost the 2005 election. However! If you are going to question Brash's fitness to lead his party, there are a million and one good reasons to do so, like he's a crappy speechmaker, a hopeless debater, he has no control over his party and backbenchers (which, well, sort of proved that), he frequently doesn't know his own policy, even just that he's hopelessly out of touch and old fashioned.

But for god's sake, stay out of the man's bedroom.

Just as I believe the fact that Tim Barnett has sex with men should not be a factor in judging his fitness as a politician, I do not believe Brash's (condemnable, BTW) sexual misconducts should be brought into the limelight. It's not relevant and I want fairness to go both ways. (Although he does look pretty awful in light of the fact that his party is the one that bangs on (and on and on and on) about the sanctity of marriage.)

But if you do want to talk about it, Russell Brown discusses who he was doin' and why it was a problem.

Um, okay, that's more than enough time devoted to Don Brash's - eww - sex life. Let's talk about Bob Clarkson, shall we? Or, rather, let's let [ profile] amarynth talk about Bob "I had to be told to stop talking about my testicles in public" Clarkson's latest idiocies, because he is smrt and put it very well.

No more politics for another six months, promise.

*Singaporean, in fact
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
I have Tuesdays off, and today was this absolutely gorgeous clear still day and it was so warm, the kind of spring day that you never get in Wellington. I opened all my curtains and windows and lay on my bed getting hotter and hotter and reading The Hunting of the Snark, and it was great.

I also fixed up Frankenmix 5.0: Skylights and Sugarpanes. Fair warning: I've been listening to music from Supernatural a LOT lately, and this mix is pretty much a direct reaction to that, by which I mean "as far away from that as I could get." Um, I quite like it anyway! Also, quite a lot of NZ stuff on here, for a change.

tracklisting and uploads, clicky clicky )

Bonus tracks, to alleviate the sheer candy-cane sweetness of the above: Ry Cooder – Willie Brown Blues (Crossroads OST) (Um, not the Britney one, the one about blues guitarists.) & Us3 – Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia), which are blues and jazz and totally, totally awesome.

Also! For your entertainment, the fucking funniest thing I ever read in academia. (Necessary context: Carroll said of this poem that it was "stuff and nonsense." He did add that "words mean more than we mean to express when we use them", creating an opening for people who want to explore this poem at all: but, seriously, I think that this is maybe taking it a tad too far, and I hope it's tongue-in-cheek. Also, all the characters in the Snark begin with B; the Bellman, the Butcher, the Boojum, the Bandersnatch, etc. Finally, these paragraphs are preceded by an unnecessarily complicated reading of the Snark as the embodiment of nothingness and existential uncertainties.)

           We are poised now on the brink of discovering
        the unsuspected meaning that Carroll's poem
        acquired in 1942 when Enrico Fermi and his
        associates (working, appropriately, in a former
        squash court) obtained the first sustained
        nuclear chain reaction.
           Consider for a moment that remarkable four-letter
        word bomb. It begins and ends with b.
        The second b is silent; the final silence. B
        for birth, non-b for Nothing. Between the two
        b's (to be or not to be) is Om, Hindu symbol
        for the nature of Brahman, the Absolute, the
        god behind the lesser gods whose tasks are to
        create, preserve, and destroy all that is.
-- Marten Gardner, The Annotated Snark: Introduction.

The rest of the introduction (and the notes to text) are woefully dated but interesting. But I mean.


labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (Default)
worryingly jolly batman

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