Friday, 28 November 2008

Same as it ever was...

Exchange on bus this morning:

"You again?"
"Yeah - I'm working down this end of town, and I got on back in Hataitai."
"Well, I managed to make it this far without you disturbing me."
"I didn't want to wake you - you keep saying how much you need your beauty sleep."

Wonderful. I'm not even into work, and I'm already being harrassed.

So that's an appointment for Sunday lunch, I have a small family thing on Saturday, and I have an eleven year old making very broad hints about birthday presents in my direction - which part of "misanthrope" are people not understanding?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

In which the Gods of Karma are tempted...

I will now trample on one of my superstitious beliefs. Whether it be due to the Wiccan rede, or a belief in karma, or my own personal favourite, that God (if s/he exists) has a really really nasty sense of humour, I believe it is a bad idea to publicly wish ill on someone. Unless it involves George Bush and courts in Geneva.

But, God/Allah/FSM, if you're listening...

IRONY: Ann Coulter's Mouth Wired Shut — Although we didn't think it would be possible to silence Ann Coulter, the leggy reactionary broke her jaw and the mouth that roared has been wired shut.

...would it have been too difficult to throw in just a couple of broken fingers in the accident as well?

Monday, 17 November 2008

Someone who is really old...

Michael Parkinson has just released his autobiography.

One anecdote involves being asked for his autograph by a relatively unknown young singer called Paul McCartney.

Another involves the lead singer for a band stating that they were "pretty well set up for at least another year". 1965, Mick Jagger, about the Rolling Stones. No, he wasn't being ironic.

Reproductive obsession

Dear Women's Magazines,

Yes, we get it. Jennifer Aniston has a uterus.

But, for the love of God, unless you yourself are Aniston or John Meyer, or their parents, please stop speculating about the possible contents of said uterus. There's been more written in the last few weeks about the topic than would be found in a obstetrics text.

Can't you go back to badgering Suri Cruise or something?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

On voting in New Zealand

Somebody else's comments swiped directly from Daily Kos and No Right Turn:

Today I voted in the New Zealand general election. I did not have to queue. Instead, the whole process took less than five minutes: walk in, present my EasyVote card (a special ID issued by the Chief Electoral Office, to make it easy for them to cross me off on the roll), get a ballot, tick two spaces, and stick it in a box. At the end of it, they gave me a sticker. It was easy, quick, and painless. And comparing it with reports of American queuing for six hours to vote, have to ask: why do you make it so hard on yourselves?

One reason I've been given for the queues is that in some areas there was only a single polling place serving 15,000 people. This is astounding. My electorate has 49 polling places for 58,000 enrolled voters - or one for every 1,200 people (and I could have voted in any of them). Other electorates are similar. Where-ever there are people, or a school, we stick a polling booth. How hard can it be?

It gets better. I was actually travelling to Wellington today, and I could have voted in any of the polling places in any of the small towns I passed through on the way. It would have meant a trivial amount of extra fuss - booths only have rolls for their electorate, so it would have meant making a declaration that I was enrolled, and it would have meant a delay in counting my vote (as it would need to be checked against the electoral roll to see if it was valid), but it would not have been difficult. I would not have needed a form signed in triplicate in my own blood to prove that I couldn't vote any other way.

Because it is easy to vote (and our elections happen on a weekend, and there is a statutory requirement on employers to give people paid time off to vote), New Zealanders do. Our turnout last election was 81%. Our turnout this time might not be so high - it fluctuates - but should at least be in the high 70's. I compare this to the US turnout of 64%, and again ask: why do you make it so hard on yourselves?

I've described this in other threads when Americans were talking about how crap their system is. The only possible conclusion that can be drawn is simple - the elite, the politicians, especially the Republican Party, simply don't want people voting. Especially the people at the bottom of the pile. This is a sign of a country where democracy is seen as a matter of form rather than substance by the powerful.

Global Gender Gap, 2008

The latest report from the World Economic Forum is available here.

The Nordic countries jostle around for top place, while New Zealand is as boring as ever:

New Zealand (5) and Australia (21) continue to perform well in the rankings. Both countries have fully closed the gap on the educational attainment subindex and both perform well on economic participation indicators. Between 2007 and 2008, both countries show gains on economic participation, educational attainment and political empowerment.

The US country highlights read:

The United States (27) gains 4 places in the rankings this year, driven by across the board improvements in the four subindexes. Given the very tight differentials between country scores on educational attainment, small improvements in this subindex lead to a marked increase in the ranking on this subindex (from 76th position in 2007 to 1st position in 2008). These gains are accompanied by improvements in both the economic participation and opportunity subindex and in the political empowerment subindex, driven by gains in perceived wage equality for similar work, percentage of women in parliamentary level positions and percentage of women in ministerial level positions. The United States now holds 56th position in the political empowerment subindex up from 69th position in 2007.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Fear of a Black planet, revisited

This says it best, I think.

My basic emotion is relief. The skill of an Obama administration has yet to be proven. The structure of our government will prove a more able opponent of change than John McCain. But for the first time in years, I have the basic sense that it's going to be okay. Not great, necessarily. And certainly not perfect. But okay. The country will be led by decent, competent people who fret over the right things and employ the tools of the state for recognizable ends. They may not fully succeed. But then, maybe they will. At the least, they will try. And if they fail in their most ambitious goals, maybe they will simply make things somewhat better. After the constant anxiety and uncertainty of the last eight years, maybe that's enough.

Not euphoric. Not excited. Not in awe of the US for finally getting round to having someone non-pasty in power.

If he succeeds fully, given the US's current condition, he will deservedly be one of the top five presidents.

And if he doesn't, if he's a reasonably competent right-of-centre politican (what passes for liberal in the US) struggling with nearly insurmountable problems, at least he'll be someone decent trying to do something worthwhile in a vital position.

Which will make a huge change in itself.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Barack Obama and women's issues...

"He still has trouble... putting his socks actually in the dirty clothes, and he still doesn't fo a better job than our five-year-old daughter Sasha at making his bed, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm a little stunned at this whole Barack Obama thing."

"After he eats, he doesn't put away the butter"

"Because he's too snore-y and stinky, [his daughters] don't want to ever get into bed with him."

Michelle Obama explaining why the cryptoSocialistIslamicTerroristRadical Barack Obama is entirely unsuitable for the Presidency.

Coming soon as a Fox exclusive...

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Warren Ellis on a universal male experience

"Shopping for clothes is a Boyfriend Thing. You stand around and look blankly at a bunch of pieces of fabric and you look at the price tags and you wonder how something that'd barely cover your right nut can cost the price of a kidney and you watch the shop assistants check you out and wonder what you're doing with her because she's cute and you're kind of funny-looking and she tries clothes on and you look at her ass in a dozen different items that all look exactly the same and let's face it you're just looking at her ass anyway and it all blurs together and then someone sticks a vacuum cleaner in your wallet and vacuums out all the cash and you leave the store with one bag that's so small that mice couldn't fuck in it. Repeat a dozen times or until the front of your brain dies.

"Point being: it's a Boyfriend Thing. And it's not just you, the Boy, who thinks so. Every shop assistant on the way will assume you're the Boyfriend.

"Especially with the laughing and the teasing and the hugging and the kissing and the holding of hands. And the carrying of bags. Very Boyfriend Thing."

- Warren Ellis, _Crooked Little Vein_.


Saturday, 1 November 2008

Heh, heh, heh - he said "Eagleburger" (plus - Helen Clark is wrinkly)

Reading blogs, I ran across the name "Lawrence Eagleburger" today.

This always cracks me up. Back in the eighties, the long-running NZ satire series McPhail and Gadsby had a running joke taking the piss out of trade minister Mike Moore who promoted diversification by making a reference to "lambburgers or venisonburgers".

(Of course, it turns out Moore was absolutely correct, just fifteen or twenty years ahead of his time, as witness the gourmet burger chains).

Anyhow, M&G proceeded to roll out a different burger every week. The Wetaburger. The Gumbootburger. The Kiwiburger - with beak still attached. I loved that. An American named "Eagleburger" can't help but trigger that association.

But, anyhow, the only YouTube clip existing of McPhail and Gadsby is from 1983 covering this piece of feminist history, a "celebration" of the 40th Parliament which had the unprecedented number of 8 female MPs. The audacity!

Prepare to cringe a bit:

The women in question turned out to leave their mark in history. They included the good, the bad, and the unnecessarily airbrushed.

Look, we have a 58 year old woman who has proven to be an effective and, on occasion, tough-as-nails Prime Minister for nine years. Her opponent on the right is a financial wide boy who has repositioned himself as wet just to work off Clark's martinet image.

And yet Labour feels it necessary to airbrush her official portrait back to her late thirties...

Not necessary. I'm tossing up in voting between her and Jeanette Fitzsimmons, and the decision isn't going to be made by who's prettier. Given that NZ voted for Muldoon for so long, and the man looked like the south side of a north-facing bulldog, and given that up to now we've kept returning Clark despite knowing that she looks like, well, a 58 year old woman, couldn't we stop pretending?

Helen isn't young, isn't pretty, doesn't have a good sense of humor, and is not the readiest speaker in Parliament.

What she is is effective, tough and disciplined, politically talented, aggressively intelligent, and concerned with the welfare of her people. I can live with that in a PM.