Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Barely tolerated serfies...

I've been reading Che Tibby's series of "Metics" posts on Public Address with interest, but also with some bewilderment at what he is driving at. Is it an attempt to construct a theoretical basis for NZ First? (I'm sure it can't be...)

I do have a specific disagreement with his latest post, and since Public Address is above having a comments section, I thought I'd discuss it here:

Che states:
"Without nation-building, the differences of the myriad persons introduced to migrant nation-states would eventually result in social collapse, and nationalism is the ideology that underpins the process."
I don't believe this is the case.

I'd point out in passing that there are very few non-migrant nation states - to my knowledge only Iceland and some of the smaller Pacific islands are populated near-exclusively by their first settlers - everywhere else has experienced multiple waves of immigration.

There are a range of multi-national states (Britain, Spain) and even more multi-lingual ones (Switzerland, Canada, South Africa). These states have had social problems of various degrees, but these have generally been the result of a dominant culture trying to impose homogeneity. The acceptance of multiple identities has tended to result in a reasonable degree of stability (Scotland, Catalonia).

I don't see that this is any different for "migrant" states - if a subgroup of people want to live differently, but without harming others, then why should this lead to social collapse? There are powerful factors (underpinned by the fact that people are basically the same) that tend to result in cultural merging over a few generations. Where is the imperative for government-forced "nation building"?

Secondly Che states:
"There is a group called 'New Zealanders', who are citizens of New Zealand and therefore nationals. But within this all-encompassing group is another group, one that holds the right to govern, and the right to determine who is, and who is not, a 'real' New Zealander."

I'm a permanent resident, and went and voted 10 days ago. Is Che saying that when they heard my pommie accent, they gave me a special marked voting paper that got later stuffed in the bin? I don't think so - I voted, and hence participated in "governing". And quite a lot of the NZ population is foreign born - 20% at the last census (33% of Aucklanders, incidentally). If we all voted together we'd have quite a lot of influence - we don't because we don't all agree - that's part of diversity.

I doubt I'd personally get far in NZ politics, but that's mainly because I hold views that are socially liberal to the point of near-anarchism, and unfortunately many Kiwis just don't think that way. I have no doubt however that Jordan Carter, an immigrant from Canada, has a glowing future in the Labour Party, just as a for instance.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

New model

Chanel have fired Kate Moss from her modelling contract as a result of her predeliction for Bolivian Marching Powder.

Finding a replacement free from such unsavoury habits has not been easy - however they have finally found their new "face" and Observationz is able to bring you an exclusive photo:

UPDATE: it seems hard to get a consistent nun image - the one I had went unobtainable.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Divided nation?

There has been a lot of comment, for instance, here in the Herald and on Campbell last night, concerning the political division between urban and rural areas of NZ.

It was pretty noticable on the various trips I took out of town (skiing mainly) in the weeks leading up to the election that the towns (small and large) had mostly Labour and Maori party posters, while the bush had National and Act ones (including the huge, and questionably legal, ones on SH1 near Te Kauwhata). I saw only one rural Labour poster - I assumed this must have been Helen Clark's parents' farm?

No big surprise that - how many left wing farmers are there?

I think Labour's loss of seats in places like Napier is quite easily understood as well. Outside the big cities, New Zealand doesn't exactly brim with opportunities for young people. There are no large "knowledge-based" employers outside the university towns and the three main cities (as far as I know - feel free to prove me wrong!) - this means that a lot of young people with aspirations take off to college and don't return. At the same time, the property boom has left a lot of older people with money and time on their hands - and they've tended to migrate to coastal towns with a nice climate (Tauranga being the prime example). So in place of the mixed population these cities would have had years ago, they now have a preponderance of wealthy, conservative, retired and semi-retired people. Who vote National.

I'm not sure what can be done about this. It would possibly be a good plan to take some of the larger public bodies and move them to provincial towns. Maybe expanding the number of universities would help as well, together with some form of incentive to move businesses there (most other countries do this in some form).

I don't think it's a sign of some major national rift though...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Different kinds of terrorist

The UK government has introduced new anti-terrorist legislation, which, amongst other things, introduces the "thoughtcrime" of "glorifying terrorism" and allows up to six months arbitrary detention.

It is interesting that there has been no mention of applying these draconian measures in Northern Ireland, where insurrection has resurfaced in the past week. Arguably the situation in the Six Counties has come much closer to the ECHR test of a "public emergency threatening the life of the nation" than Islamist activity in mainland UK - the constitutional arrangements (and indeed the continued existence) of Northern Ireland over the past hundred years have largely been driven by actual and threatened violence by nationalist and unionist groups.

Why is the UK government not planning to charge the leader of the Orange Order with "glorifying terrorism"? Or to detain hundreds of loyalists without trial? Largely, I suspect because the situation *is* seen as serious. Such measures were tried in Ireland in the early 1970's and abandoned after they simply exacarbated the situation.

It seems that because Muslim extremists are to few in number to threaten "the life of the nation" the UK government believes that repressive measures can be introduced with no risk of a widening insurrection - we shall see.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Not mainstream

I got a letter yesterday. It was addressed to Mr R and Ms J Observationz (not really, but similar).

In common, I would think, with a lot of people, I live with my partner - we aren't married yet, and she certainly doesn't use my name. Most people would either write to us separately or to both of us by our individual surnames.

I can only guess that someone assumes that if two people of the opposite sex live together, they must be married, or brother and sister. Guess who that might be?

Not hard is it - the National Party!

Both of us might consider their kind offer to vote for them (or possibly they expect the male to cast both votes in some sort of Victorian/Exclusive Brethren style). However I think we both fail their test of mainstream-ness:

Me: Immigrant (not from Singapore), living in sin, no kids
My partner: Female, living in sin, no kids, under 40.

Possibly everyone should consider their compatibility with the "mainstream" before voting for Brash (aka Victorian Dad).

Monday, September 05, 2005

Polled out

I was all set to write a post slagging off TVNZ for this self selecting, unrepresentative, pay-to-vote "poll".

I even created this spoof poll in the previous post to compare it with.

Then I noticed - they aren't going to publish the result until *after* the election. Which seems a little pointless (and wasn't mentioned on the programme). I suspect their lawyers have been having a little word - which would be a good thing.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

New poll just in

The following exclusive Observationz poll rather paints a different picture of the election to those "scientific" polls in the mainstream media.

Destiny NZ 2.1%
Act 34.0%
National 14.9%
Libz 4.3%
NZ First 2.1%
United Future 6.4%
Labour 14.9%
Progs 2.1%
Alliance 8.5%
CWG 4.3%
Greens 6.4%

On this basis, I expect that ACT will be able to lead a government with the support of National - which I'm sure Don will give to the victorious Rodney - he will probably get Treasurer, or maybe Deputy PM. A few more votes could see the Libertarianz joining in though.

[Sample details: the sample of 47 was taken from Span's analysis here and is based on a self-selecting sample of those who have bothered to create a blog and declare their preference - but hey - in the words of Susan Wood it "Makes you wonder".]

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Green Box

Twice in recent days we've had a mysterious box on the letter-box. The first one was red - the latest one is green - as seen below:

I'm curious as to what they are? It's been suggested something to do with orienteering. In London I think this would invite a controlled explosion....

I took the box apart - after all being on my letter box makes it mine, right?

The parts can be seen below:

It looks to me like it detects a flash or IR beam and starts the led flashing - no sounding device and no RF-like components, so it probably isn't a transmitter or receiver. I tried flashing a bright light at it, but nothing happened.

Anyone know? There was nothing marked on the PCB that I could find on Google.

I thought maybe ACT have some fiendish device to measure who reads their bogus election messages...