Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who knows where Einstein is hiding

*massive disclaimer: Teachers are to be respected, they are not failing the system the system is failing them. Except for Mr. Brook. He was a dick.

It's impossible to recognise the next great mind of our times. Pfft you say, you can see who the smartest kids are right off the bat at school. Actually often the very brightest struggle with school, even to quite high levels. Using myself as a conceited example - I was uninterested in what was being taught to me in school, and as a consequence paid little attention. I passed easily enough, and well more often than not. But I wasn't paying attention and seldom had anything brilliant to add - because I didn't care. It took unusually gifted teachers to pull my mind away from it's own observations and actually CONSIDER what they were saying. I cruised through school barely taking it in. 

At home it was a different story. My father and I would lie on the back lawn late at night stargazing, and discussing philosophy, classics, psychology, whatever else cropped up for whatever reason. He recognised a kindred spirit and shot the breeze with me at every opportunity. I only wish that my siblings had seen this side of my father. Even stupid things like watching crappy TV often resulted in spirited debate. From this I know that my father was absolutely TERRIBLE at being proven wrong. I mean I'm sure some of my friends think I hate being wrong - I do. But I usually accept it, with evidence. Dad wasn't much for accepting evidence when he thought he knew better. I used to give him grief for it - you can't claim to be a scientist (and electrician or not he was a scientist inside his head, as am I) and ignore evidence. It was hilarious to me every time he continued to argue after the evidence was in - mainly because his God argument, which came out quite often, ran along the "I can't _not believe in God_ because I can't prove he doesn't exist any more than a religious man can prove he does. I believe there is no God, I don't _know_ there is no God." 

But I digress. As usual. At home my gifted mind was fed. A steady diet of 'figure it out for yourself' which was perfect, because that is the way my brain works. I have to figure things out for myself to have any faith in the end result. See. I am my fathers daughter. At school there was not the resource to deal with a gifted mind that wasn't interested. (Not aided at all by my fathers disillusionment in the workings of the education system). I grew up with the opinion that school had little useful to teach me. Though I have to say hindsight hasn't actually changed that opinion very much. 

The most telling comment I ever received on a report card, "Diana's results do not reflect the lack of effort she has put in." Thank you, that honest teacher. I actually needed to hear that. After I left high school an old teacher remarked to me that I was a regular subject of discussion in the staff room as a gifted student that they could not motivate. I found this fascinating because from my perspective only two teachers had ever really tried to capture my attention. One I hated, and still hate - he was a complete douchebag - but he did see that a kid who had been rocketed through advanced classes at intermediate school was going to be bored to tears in a high school that had no room to accommodate this. He gave me university texts and let me sit at the back of the class with those while everyone else did regular stuff. It was better than nothing. You old bastard. The other started a regular class thing of giving puzzles to any one who finished early, deciphering them became a matter of pride for some of us. Me especially, for no better reason than 'I could'. There were few other moments I could remember ever really giving a damn about classes. In primary school a teacher who used to challenge the whole class first thing in the morning - but I look back on that and realise that the less talented members of my class must have loathed those morning sessions. Watching Kane and I always the last two standing. An English teacher who saw through my dickbaggery to recognise my writing as not just silly not_quite_as_intended frivolity but as well written and clever frivolity. Yes, English staff of my past - there was a reason I always wrote exactly what was asked for and yet somehow completely inappropriate text. BECAUSE I COULD. The Biology teacher who completely freaked out when I told him I'd skipped a section we'd done in class in order to write an essay on a topic we hadn't studied, in my final exam - who had the balls to apologise to me after he saw the A+ on it. I did it because the topic we did in class was boring. And the topic we hadn't was something I had waxed philosophical on at home. Brief glimpses of what could have been. But mine was not a mind that was easy for teaching staff to deal with. And like the less able, into the too hard basket I went. 

But this is not a story of the past - this is a story of now. I see a lot of the same thing happening, kids that I can see are smart, really smart, overlooked because they aren't using it on the mundanery of school. There's this boy - I hate thinking about him - he was at school with Catherine for a while. I expect he's in prison now, or if not won't be far from it. He was a little pain in the ass. Bucked authority at every opportunity. Annoying little pissant that appeared to WANT to be yelled at. And considering his background probably did. Any attention is better than none right? But I could SEE this clever mind in there. Utterly wasted. Because no one believed in him. Not even me quite a lot of the time, because I couldn't see how it was possible for him to crawl out of his shitty situation when the ladder kept being pushed away. Because that's what we do. Not to every kid, but to the inconvenient ones, who on top of their inconvenience don't have the money to make the system play their way. Don't have parents willing to fight for them.


Everyone, no matter what state their brain is in deserves the same opportunity. No matter what state their body is in. I'm not suggesting that everyone CAN achieve the same, I saying that everyone should have the opportunity to be everything that they can be. Poor kids shouldn't be left behind for such a stupid misguided economic farce. It does not save us any money at all to only educate those that can afford it. Society as a whole is increased by everyone having the best opportunities. I'm not going to bother looking up the information, because I am a deeply lazy blogger. I am going to tell you what I have seen. I grew up in a time when education was cheapily available to pretty damn nearly everybody. There was little legitimate reason for a bright kid not to go to university if they wanted to. There was little reason to not finish high school. Apprenticeships were about the only valid reason. And we were a BETTER, HAPPIER society for it. Things have gone further and further down hill the more unattainable higher education became. The more we had to worry about debt from our education the more we had to chose between a job now or furthering our options. Or choose to do a minor degree so the debt doesn't become an obstacle to a happy existence. 

Now we throw on top of this falling standards at high school. (oh do fuck off government, it is at least a bit your fault). Standards falling further in the poorer schools because they don't have the same access to resources. What is this elitist bullshit? Why is a publically funded school in a posh area so much better equipped than a publically funded school in a low socio-economic area? What, do poor kids not deserve the same opportunity? Fuck that. Stephen Hawking came from a relatively poor family, where would he be without funding I wonder? On the scrap heap with the rest? One hopes not, but one fears so. His parents were motivated to see him well educated, what of the child who's parents are less interested? Is crappy parenting also a criteria for failure? 


Education is the very centre of a well run society. YES I MEAN IT. The better the quality of education to all of our children the better things run as a whole. From the little to the huge. The child who grows up understanding that everyone has their place and that no place is unvalued doesn't look down on the kid who grows up to clean his pool. Do you want your fucking pool clean or not? We want equality, but we aren't teaching it to our children. Everything they see shows them that some people are more equal than others. If we don't show them how important it is to respect everyone's rights then what do they learn? Some of our children are growing up feeling undervalued. Unvalued. What point is there for them to be productive members of society? Society's job is to raise our children into responsible adults. Yes I said society, even you non-parents have an ongoing responsibility here. Because society stagnates when we neglect our children. The whole thing, not just the bits that have chosen to reproduce. THE WHOLE THING. No man is an island, entire of itself.  

We are creating a society full of holes. As the education system falls into disrepair the gap between the well educated and the not will grow wider. We need middle people. They matter too. Go and read the story of the Golgafrinchans. (See *The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams) More truth is written in comedy...

We also need top people, and we are not producing enough of them (or more correctly, we are not producing enough of them that are sufficiently stupid to hang around after they qualify). Like rats, they recognise a sinking ship. Alright, alright I'm not really suggesting that you'd have to be stupid to hang around. You'd have to have different priorities than a simple life with a stack of cash to hang around. 

And how many people have different priorities?

Peace. Out.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sense and Sensibility

Sexy times. Where there is a lot of sensibility but bugger all sense.

Lets start with the one I've been wanting to go off on since it hit the headlines (come on, you are all REALLY surprised I hadn't already spazzed out over it). 'Roastbusters'. Which is incidentally a fucking stupid name. Lets stop using that. From here on in the offending douchebags will be referred to as dickheads incorporated (DH INC). For the people out there who don't know what I'm referring to, which I have to assume means you are not from New Zealand (I'm surprised you're even reading...) these idiot teens got their horrible jollies by getting young ladies drunk, sleeping with them, (to a lesser or greater degree of consent fail, depending on who is telling the story and what day it is) and then naming and shaming on facebook. The whole country has it's knickers in seven different twists over which part of the whole sordid story is the worst bit. There's the victim blamers, who are all 'stupid girls shouldn't have been getting drunk and sleeping with guys they barely knew, more fool them' (incidentally we are talking about girls who were underage both for drinking and sex). There's the OMG fuckwit rapist! crowd, who are all 'nail those nasty little bastards to the wall' (incidentally we are talking about guys who were either underage or barely of age for both drinking and sex). There's the where the hell were the Police? crowd, who are all 'it was all over facebook how much more evidence do you need' (incidentally the law actually requires evidence not hearsay) and then there are the rape culture crowd, who are all 'we need to stop victim blaming and nail the rapists and where were the police?'.

What's my opinion? All of the above. Just in a less knee-jerk way. Because none of these suggestions is entirely wrong, just people have got so upset about their view they aren't actually listening to anything else.

Victim blaming is lame, and well - WRONG! It has been shown time and time again that in the majority of rape cases ridiculous type casting of 'she was asking for it' is just BOLLOCKS. The shortness of the skirt does not invite rapists - statistics actually suggest the opposite is true, though in fact I think that the clothing simply isn't one of the factors. The reason short skirts feature less is because walking home late at night in a tiny skirt isn't actually that common. You're much more likely to be wearing jeans. More rapes happen in the home than out on the streets in any case, and how many chicks are wearing a skimpy outfit at home? At a party sure, and I'm certainly not going to suggest that parties aren't a rapists wet dream, but it's again not the clothes - it's the booze. And the loosened inhibitions of a party atmosphere. But even at a party the rapist is less likely to target the chick in the short skirt. Why? Because the chick in the short skirt doesn't have the insecurity issues that the wallflower in the jeans and t-shirt does. The chick in the short skirt only becomes more interesting when she starts getting too drunk to make good decisions. If I were to take the surveys of clothing worn when raped at face value I'd never wear jeans again. But the simple answer to that one is - a lot of people wear jeans in all sorts of different situations, jeans are a top choice for both sexes. (This was a single example of the 'she was asking for it' argument, there are others. Dancing with you is also not asking for it. Neither is sharing a drink with you. Being super drunk/stoned is not asking for it.)

In fact pretty much anything where I didn't actually ask for it is not asking for it. This is where the consent argument starts.

Consent, it's a grey area subject - it always has been. Because not everyone is comfortable with the idea of actually saying 'You, yes you, I would like to have sexual relations with you. Now.' Now I could start a whole other debate here with the idea that, 'for crying out loud you are about to undertake the most intimate contact you can have with another human short of birth and you can't TALK to them about it?' But to be fair, I'm not all that mad keen on talking about it in a clear consent kind of way either. Sure I might be willing to say something moderately filthy to the same effect, but clear and super obvious consent is much less likely. And really, it isn't undertaking a formal written contract and I don't want to be removing all the spontaneity and fun from the act. That is also a subject for a whole different argument. But for the sake of argument, you are not going to hear a clear and definite consent terribly often. "Oh, yeah, baby" etc is considerably more likely - and there's really no reason why you can't take your social cues this way. I mean a) if you leap straight from enjoying a kiss to trying to jam you penis in somewhere, you are probably doing it wrong. (OK, there IS a time and place for that hurried BANG, but there's a huge portion of both my brain AND my, for want of a better word 'heart' that thinks the FIRST time is actually not that time. Maybe it is for you, whatever floats your boat - as long as it also floats your partners boat. And, b) providing the 'oh, yeah baby' sounds continue you are probably heading in the right direction.
The side of the coin that is more distinct is. NO. If you have any reason to suspect that the answer is no...

For those not in the know, this is my favourite Maritime Signal Flag... 

"Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals"

For any reason. NO. If it turns out that it was actually ok to proceed, no harm done. However if the NO was real, then you just stopped yourself from doing something awful. This is the thing, if you break the no means no rule you've broken it. If you just slow down the procession of sexy times, big whoop.

And now we're heading into the territory that gets people into serious trouble. The failure to understand that if someone is not in proper control of themselves for ANY REASON AT ALL, they cannot reasonably consent. I've consented while moderately pissed. I'll grant that the decisions might have been stupid but they could still reasonably be called my decision. Here's the line - for me at least, and probably for a fair number of people. Am I slurring my speech? Yes? My consent isn't worth diddly. Can I stand up unsupported and at least reasonably stable? No? My consent is not worth diddly. Are my eyes focused? No? NO. You should not take the consent of someone who's brain is not functioning reliably. 

Now there is this whole other line of thinking that is all, but they said yes! Let me be extremely clear here. Twice in my life have I been THAT drunk and ended up sleeping with someone. Both times I should not have consented. Both times my consent was not worth a damn. Because I was not even close to rational. Once I boinked a complete stranger, whose name I do not even know, that I met at a night club. I was a very long way from being able to legitimately consent. The other time, I shagged someone that I would have called friend then, that I now barely call acquaintance. Because I shouldn't have gone there. And because he was totally crap and an arrogant douchebag. It's really hard to look at someone the same way when you slept with them when you shouldn't have AND they were bloody awful. (FYI, to the person who is right this second thinking, oh god is she talking about me?? NO I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU - for a start I wasn't that drunk that night)
Then there is the, but we were BOTH really drunk... honestly when I hear this one I usually wonder how the hell any sexy times were achieved. I have a little bit of sympathy in this instance - because it's a bit hard to lay blame at somebodies doorstep when you were both too drunk for reasonable consent. Because contrary to popular fiction (or the fiction of someone I know who could actually be reading this) consent has to be MUTUAL. And this stupid bullshit idea that men don't need to consent, or that somehow a raging hard-on IS consent needs to stop. To all my darling male friends, I care about every last one of you - even you dickbag, you know who you are. You are ALLOWED to say NO. If you don't want to have sex with someone, it doesn't make you less of a man, it doesn't make you 'gay' (you can't catch it from abstinence, I assure you) (also, for the love of BOB 'gay' is NOT A FUCKING INSULT). And to every single person on the planet - if someone says no to sexy times with you. IT. IS. NOT. A. PERSONAL. INSULT. I don't fancy everyone on the planet. In fact I'm extremely bloody fussy. There are some very attractive people out there that do absolutely NOTHING for me. If you are not my cup of tea, this is not cause for war. If I can't say no to you without you getting all fucking affronted by it, that is your problem not mine. You know, unless I'm a dick and say things like "I'd rather marry an Arab and have 99 children" (I felt really, really bad for my flatmate when a douche actually said exactly that to him) you can totally be affronted if I say something like that. 

Back to Dickheads Incorporated. What makes me saddest about these guys is their apparent lack of remorse (at least until they were suddenly confronted with an angry mob). I can't say that they didn't know that what they were doing was wrong, because it's fairly apparent that they did. But they didn't care, and they didn't see any consequences for their criminal and utterly douchebaggy behaviour. Now they're in hiding because - that angry mob I mentioned. Somehow they didn't grasp that it was not just a big hilarious joke. Somehow they did not understand that the people they were doing this to were actual PEOPLE. Too many kids have too little respect for themselves and almost anti-respect for anyone else. It makes me sick that they managed to grow up without ever discovering that other people have lives, feelings & rights that they had no right at all to fuck up. That they have so little respect for anything that they just didn't CARE. How are we raising a society of shitty little bastards who just don't give a damn? I feel sorry for them. Everything in their lives has failed them. Including the justice system.

Because the cops should have done SOMETHING. They had known about this group for years and did fuck all about it. Maybe because their hands were tied - in which case we damn well need to untie them. Maybe because there really is an appalling rape culture, that makes it easier to just go 'boys will be boys' than it is to go, 'teach those boys to be men'. Not rapists. 

And there we start the whole battle again, as someone says, it wasn't REALLY rape. They agreed to have sex. I've already had to say this more times than I care to think about since these dickheads hit the news. The girls were underage. It was rape no matter who said what to whom, no matter who drank what, no matter who agreed to go where. Whether the girls were 'stupid' for being where they were, for drinking what they drank, for saying what they said is entirely irrelevant. And an argument for another day. We need to teach our sons to be better human beings. To know that being a man means being in control of yourself, not doing whatever the hell you want to, not giving in to your baser instincts. That a decent man respects his fellow humans. We need to teach our daughters to respect themselves enough that saying no isn't hard for them. No I don't need to drink that to be cool. No I do not want to have sex with you, thanks anyway. 

And on the other side of that coin, we need to teach everyone to step in if they think there is a problem. I'd rather be wrong and be told to fuck off than find out later I was right. If you think someone looks too drunk, do something. Get them a glass of water, ask them if they're ok - if they need anything. Call them a cab. Go point them out to the bouncer. If someone gives you the creeps, keep an eye on them. You don't have to be a dick about it - hell they might just be a guy with naf social skills. But keep your eye on the situation anyway, maybe you'll see something that you need to step in on. The thing you do doesn't have to be huge, the thing is - don't do nothing. If everyone is just a little bit aware of things happening, if everyone takes the step to slow things down then maybe we'll stop a lot of the shit that happens.

If you have a friend who's a bit crap at the 'consent issue', talk to them about it. Maybe just knowing someone thinks they're doing it wrong will give them pause. If your team mate is bragging about all his conquests, don't cheer him on. A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell. If your friend gets massively drunk and sleeps with anyone who asks, maybe she needs to know you care about her. If your friend needs booze to enjoy sexy times, maybe he needs a therapist. If your friend needs to be aggressive during sexy times maybe he REALLY needs a therapist. If you feel like maybe you have a problem with saying yes when you mean no, please seek help. It's ok to say no. Please don't say yes if you don't mean yes. What kind of person is ok with you having sex you didn't want to have? A rapist that's who, and who gives a flying crap what they think?

Peace. Out.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Beacon of hope, part deux

So it's been three years since the first in a chain of earthquakes to hit the Canterbury region. Though most Cantabrians probably feel almost fond of the September 4th 2010 7.1 when compared with the son of a bitch that hit us the following February.

I know that many people wonder why we are still "going on about that" because for them it happened "ages ago". For us it happened yesterday, and many of us are not really convinced that it has stopped happening yet.

But there are some positive things that came out of Canterbury's disaster. A feeling of camaraderie that hadn't been felt around here anywhere other than rugby fields and sports bars in a long time. A shared, albeit horrible, event that pulled us together. And in the face of adversity we found a new hope. 

Oh there has been a lot of arguing, primarily related to the tearing down of things we care about and the raising of new buildings. But we all have the same strand to hold on to. Getting back to normal. Maybe even getting past normal to BETTER. Rebuilding a city from the ground up is an amazing opportunity, a chance to make it more than it was. There is a vibrancy around the rebuild that is exciting. There is a pride in some of the amazing innovations going on here. And there is love in the gaps. 

Projects like GapFiller, that moved to use those endless empty sections for something cheering while we waited for building permits, investors and insurance payouts. Bike powered cinema! What a wonderful idea :) A mini-golf course randomly distributed over empty sections all around the suburbs (I never did find them all). Random markets. Free book exchanges. Children's art displays. And everywhere signs that we all CARE what is happening here. 

But to those people who wonder why we're still "going on about it"... Recovery is a long process. Christchurch is on it's way, and in some ways people are feeling more positive. But we are also just now entering one of the hardest phases on the road to recovery. Year three. Stress of three years of waiting for things to fix, three years of arguing with insurers, EQC, builders, lawyers... Three years of waiting for the other boot to drop. Three years of public transport being a bit naf. Three years of broken roads, broken sewerage. Uncertainty and fear. 

Can you imagine what it's like for children to grow up in a house where the stress has been unending for THREE YEARS? Children who don't understand the forces involved in throwing the earth around like that. Children that don't understand why their house is still broken. Adults aren't coping, how are kids supposed to?

But it isn't all gloom and despair. There is hope too, a lot of hope. Hope that things are getting better, hope that this is a turning point that there is more positive than negative in our future. It's a hard road, but a road that we are travelling together, and it's much better for the company. Misery may love company, but so does hope. 

It's important for us to remember at this critical juncture in recovery that it is OKAY to not be feeling awesome about everything. We are ALLOWED to be feeling out of sorts, upset, angry, frustrated... we are allowed to feel whatever we are feeling. It's important to acknowledge that the journey is not over yet. Just as it is important to be able to look at the future with hope. If you're struggling it's not just ok to seek help, it's IMPORTANT to seek help. For you, for the rest of your family, for everyone that you care about and for everyone that cares about you. It's important that you take care of you. 

It's spring, the weather is getting better (despite today's effort at freezing). Get outside and do something frivolous. Remember that putting all the frustration out of your mind for a day isn't going to make it leap up and bite you. And you need to relax. The human mind is not made to work at a high stress for long periods of time, we need to stop and smell the roses from time to time. Getting out and doing something doesn't have to be a big deal. You don't have to book a cruise; do something simple, do what works for you. If what works for you doesn't involve going out, fine. It's what works for you that matters here. 

Frankie say RELAX.

Peace. Out.   

Friday, August 30, 2013

We don't need no education...

People who know me well know I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about edu-ma-cation. D'oh.

Education. It's SO important. I think it's the answer to almost everything. Seriously.

And yet the average government appears to consider education to be just this irritating thing that it has to put unreasonable sums of money into. (I happen to think the unreasonable part is accurate, just not in the same direction they do).

Every time I hear a politician whinging about how full our prisons are, how high unemployment is, how much welfare the system is having to pay out I get an overwhelming urge to yell 'then why the hell are we stripping our education system?" I'll get to that.

Education is one of the few areas that I feel our government, every government, should FULLY fund. Not just pay teachers properly, the wages they damn well deserve. Not just hire ENOUGH teachers so that our children get the attention they deserve. Hire all the ancillary staff to keep things running smoothly. Give schools enough to buy the BEST equipment. Pay for all the field trips. Provide uniforms. Or scrap them as an outdated concept. Whichever. Decent counselling services in schools, catering not just for the students but for the parents and the teachers too. School lunches. AND breakfasts.

And here's where I get really radical. Find out what works best FOR THE KIDS, stop organising school around hours convenient to adults. Actually use the research that shows that starting later works MUCH better for kids, they are more alert and more willing. Work out a format of learning and a curriculum that produces useful adults. Make learning something that the kids take an active role in, not just something that is done to them. 

I can hear a lot of buts. I've told myself quite a few of them actually. You see I KNOW that the way our society is currently operating this won't work. Because most families either need both parents to be working or they don't have enough money and the net result of BOTH of these is usually the same, a family in which the kids are not receiving the attention they need to become all they can be. 

What I am suggesting is EXPENSIVE, really expensive. But compared to the money we throw down the toilet keeping our prisons stocked to the gills it's chickenfeed. Compared to the rising mental health bill it's chickenfeed. Compared to the growing wage gap it is nothing at all. This country is becoming a place where the rich decide everything without consideration for the complex creature that society is. A place were the gap between the rich and the poor is widening every day, and the people in-between are rapidly becoming the just_scraping_by rather than an actual middle class. Not that I'm a fan of class-distinction. 

What I'm suggesting is building a system that produces a vast majority of well adjusted productive adults. Adults with respect for themselves and others, who understand that society needs certain things to keep running smoothly. Adults ready to raise a new generation of children growing up happy and healthy, protected and free to become everything they can. Children free to CHOOSE their path in life.

Not just the education system would need to change. 

I think there are a lot of attitudes out there that need to change. There's my personal bugbear, "I'm not a parent, why should I subsidise families?" Derp. Because society doesn't get terrifically far without new additions. You want to not help with society? Get back in the trees. It doesn't get very far if the new additions aren't given a reasonable shot at success either. The follow on for that is that if you give everyone a EXCELLENT chance of at least some success, society as a whole moves forward. 

There's "I can pay for my family's education why should I help with yours?" See above. More successful happy people, better society. Better for everyone - YOUR KIDS INCLUDED. Please don't be so lame as to fear the extra competition from poor kids who turn out to be talented (shock horror). Society is a team sport. 

"Parents should be responsible for their own kids". Yeah ok, there is a grain of truth in this one, selfish though it may be. I think a lot of parents take far less responsibility for their kids than they should. But the thing is it isn't just the poor families that are doing this, and it isn't ALL the poor families that are doing this. Most parents are doing their best. Poor families have some extra stresses going on that are hard for people who haven't been there to understand. It seems that even some people who have been there forget awfully quickly. (Yes, that was a blatant dig at certain members of my government). Those stresses often come out in ways that are really bad for the kids. But families that are doing better are just as guilty of mistreating their children. Of not spending enough time on their kids. Money doesn't making you a better parent, sometimes it makes you a worse one. Having the freedom to do what you want, sometimes leads to spending all your spare time entertaining yourself, fobbing your kids off on paid caregivers (or grandparents ;) ) while you get to have the life you might if you didn't have kids. For some people their children are just another symbol of their comparative success. Children are a responsibility, not being able to afford that responsibility shouldn't mean that the children end up on the scrap heap. This doesn't mean I think we should give low income families carte blanche to fuck it up completely without taking responsibility. Just that the system needs to do it's best too. Including giving families the help they need to be better influences. All families.

Go on, tell me I'm a communist. I haven't heard that one all day. 

I rather foolishly actually believe that society can repair it's own faults by just working harder on bringing future generations up better. That virtually every problem in modern society will get better if we just make a bigger effort in this one area. If we remember that today's children are tomorrow's leaders then maybe it will occur to us that making them all stronger will make all the world a little better. Day by day, a little better. until maybe we can actually be the place so many of us dream of. The Utopia we all wish we lived in.  

Children are a goldmine of potential. Not every child can grow up to be Stephen Hawking or (tries really hard to think of a sportsperson I give a monkey's about and fails). But every child is a vessel waiting to be filled, what we choose to fill them with identifies what kind of society we are. 

What my society is currently identifying itself as is one that is OK with the less advantaged children being left behind. Willing to ignore the potential of those kids because, hey they're poor whatever. How many brilliant minds have we left behind? Or potentially worse, how many have we disillusioned to the point that they work against healthy society?

Let's stop messing it up.

Peace. Out.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Freedom of choice...

Not a rant about religion.

A rant about choosing.

A couple of things...

Apparently we have been given the gift of free will. Presumably we are supposed to use this.

Apparently man is not supposed to judge his fellow man, infringement on God's law is for God to decide.

In some senses religion is becoming almost farcical in the public eye. Because quite a few of the 'loud zealots' as I like to think of them quite clearly haven't put a hell of a lot of thought into either their behaviour or their doctrine.

Because the first thing that almost all the loud zealots do is pass judgement on other peoples decisions, and as far as I can see that means they are breaking God's law themselves.

When it comes right down to it, I don't really give a flying monkey's what other people believe as long as they aren't inflicting those beliefs on others. I don't object to be being told about your set of beliefs (in fact I rather like it since I have a bit of a fetish for knowledge) I only object when you start insisting that I live according to your beliefs rather than my own. You can think my beliefs are wrong, you can even try to change my mind about it. But the moment you start judging me for them, well you can piss off.

Religious law is DIFFERENT to judicial law. I'm all for a well maintained judicial system, and all for communities living within the strictures of those laws. Religious law is for the followers of that religion, if I don't follow your religion I am not bound to follow your religious laws. The opposite side of that coin is that I don't get to make you stand by my beliefs either. You can WANT me to follow your religious beliefs all you like, but if I don't believe the same things as you then I don't have any motivation to follow them. You can tell me that you believe my soul will be damned to the pits of hell for all eternity for what I believe, but because I don't believe the same things as you I don't have to fear for my soul.

Let me try to put this in the simplest terms I can, because I can almost see you sticking your fingers in your ears and going 'lalalalalala can't hear you' right now. Let's say you tell me that you think green tomato relish is totally awesome and with some nice cheese and crackers is the best thing ever. Lets say I believe that God has pronounced that we shall not eat vegetables before they are fully ripe. But you believe that if it's edible then God's ok with you eating it. So I say to you 'God will smite thee for eating of the tomato before it's time'. And you laugh and say don't be ridiculous, it's edible, why would God have a problem with me eating it? You see my belief that you will be punished for breaking God's law doesn't affect you in the slightest because you don't believe the same thing I do.

OK, I can hear you thinking it already.... 'but I'M RIGHT'. Who cares? I think I'm right. When it comes down to it until I'm standing in front of God with a green tomato relish sandwich in my hand IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO'S RIGHT. At all. And you know what, I have this feeling that if it turns out that I'm completely wrong and THERE IS A GOD, he/she is going to be almightily pissed off at all the judging you people have been doing.

You can feel free to think what I'm doing is wrong (I'm sure I do any number of things that you think are wrong) but unless I'm breaking the law of the community then go away and feel sorry for my eternal soul and let me get on with my depraved lifestyle. Rest assured that God will cut me to ribbons when it turns out you are right. But stop thinking it's any of your business to interfere with my choices simply because you don't agree with them.

What is the point of giving us free will if you people are just going to force me to do things the way you think God's wants us to? And let me be very very clear here, it is what YOU think God wants, this is not the same thing as doing it because you actually KNOW what God wants us to do. You think you know. That is all. That is what religion is built on, your belief in your understanding of how the world works. Your faith. If you can't manage to follow the rules yourself, why are you trying so hard to make everyone else do it?

Here's my suggestion. Calm down, get yourself a nice cup of tea (or whatever drink you're most comfortable with) and settle down with your religious texts. Have a really good read through them, because I do not think they mean what you think they mean. After you've read them, have a really good THINK about what it all means, and what your part in it should be. And most importantly of all, have a really good think about what you think God might think of your behaviour.

Because persecution is SO five minutes ago.

Next time you're passing an abortion clinic, maybe think about the 10 year old raped by her uncle who really should not have to bear his child.

Next time you see two guys holding hands in the park, maybe remember how it feels to hold the hand of the person you love the most.

Next time you're talking to your children about your beliefs remember that you are shaping a young mind.

Next time you pass a church of a different faith remember that they believe just as strongly as you do.

Next time you don't like someone else's choice, remember that YOU choose how you react to that.

If everyone believes the same things, if everyone thinks the same thoughts, if everyone knows the same things, what is the point of existence? If we cannot learn from our mistakes, what are they for? If we don't stop and examine our beliefs sometimes then our faith is blind, and rendered meaningless.

Peace. Out.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

If you've got it, flaunt it.

So I did something stupid.

I READ THE COMMENTS SECTION. On an article about something I care about. Interestingly there were very few nasty comments. Instead there was the even more dangerous moderate undercurrent.

It went along these lines...

"I've got nothing against gays, I just wish they didn't shove it in my face."

and my least favourite

"I mean straight people don't flaunt it in public."

The. Hell. We. Don't.

We wander around blithely holding hands with the one we love, we hug and kiss goodbye and hello. We marry in public spaces. We buy his & hers this that and the other. We go on dates, we snog in the back of movie theatres. We visit each other in hospital without needing someone else's permission.

We are free to love who we want, when we want. That is all they are asking for.

Peace. Out.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sheeple need not apply

Voting. It's one of those things that we don't think about all that much, except for that frenzy that comes upon us when a general election looms. And even then many people choose still not to think about it.

But it's important. Really important, and for more than the obvious reasons. 

When we choose people to govern our land, from a community perspective it matters that everyone take part. Community is a concept that many people really fail to grasp (sadly I think particularly our politicians fail to grasp this). Society is held together by community. The sharing of skills and ideas, the shared responsibility to uphold laws, raise contributing adults and to care for the vulnerable. Choosing who governs us is another shared responsibility.

Please don't imagine that my writing about the importance of casting your vote is going to be 'vote for who I said'. I don't work that way. Whomever you choose to vote for, the act of voting is important. Every vote counts, even if the team you chose don't win. Not to mention that it's massively hypocritical to whine about the current government if you didn't actually cast a vote. Even if the vote you cast was FOR those numpties, you have granted yourself the privilege to reasonably say, "well you dickbags haven't lived up to my expectations then, have you?" 

So, let's assume for the sake of my sanity that you have now decided that maybe voting is a good plan. What now? Pick your favourite party and go for it? That depends on the situation, there are things to consider. What outcome do you want and realistically could it happen? Sometimes there's a gap between what you want to do and what you should do to achieve the best possible result. Last time I cast my vote not to get a party to win, but to try to stop another party from winning. 

Last time around people abandoned the Labour Party in droves, huge terrifying droves. Not surprising really, the reds have been a ship adrift for some while now, even staunch Labour supporters began to wonder if they were actually up to the job. Wishy-washy leadership, incoherent and minimalist policies. So there was a large shift (mostly to the Greens, who lets face it didn't have a hope (of doing more than getting a couple of seats)) Sometimes you have to kind of 'do the math' to figure out where you vote is best used. And who can be bothered with that much thinking amiright? Thinking. It's so important. 

I posit this: These people, once chosen, will govern the country for a significant period, in a position to do immense damage if they are no good at it (or just no good) perhaps putting a little thought into it is not such a big ask.

So: CAN your party win? If they can't is your vote still best cast with them, or is it worth voting for someone else who MIGHT be able to win with a bit of a push - if it will prevent someone you actually DON'T want getting in, this is worth considering. Is a coalition a reasonable idea? Or would it be a good thing to try and push for another seat for a minor party? The trouble with answering questions like this is that you have to have some idea of what the current political climate is like and some idea of the policies and candidates for each party. If you just make assumptions about each one based on nothing more than their party name or that the local candidate is cute or some other facile reason, you'll do some of them a disservice (not to mention the country). And potentially vote for a madman. 

You don't need to become a sociopolitical genius, just take a look at the options and judge for yourself. Form an opinion. I'm full of them.

Peace. Out.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In a less confrontational tone; Dear Sirs and Madams, what you are doing is not logical (PART II, PART I is much angrier)

Well obviously to YOU it is, your pockets are getting lined.

But if you think collectively, consider the community, what you are doing is not only illogical it's disgraceful. I talked about remembering a better time in New Zealand. I do, a much better time - I don't understand how so many people seem to have forgotten. We used to be a functional and successful welfare state. Please don't instantly switch off at those words, they are not the dreadful mantra you seem to think they are. 

There seems to be an assumption many people make that a welfare state is solely about giving people who somehow don't deserve it something for nothing. This is not the primary function of a welfare state, it's just one fairly minor aspect. And trust me, no matter what system you choose to run things under there will ALWAYS be a group of people willing to take advantage of it.

Do you remember how things used to be in this country? I think the point at which I was certain things had taken a dangerous turn for the worse was when education started to get expensive. And getting a good education became far more expensive than getting a merely acceptable education. The more we have to pay to gain a reasonable level of education, the further the poor fall behind. I know a lot of people would say, so what? But here is what: The larger the education gap ( the gap between what the rich can afford and what the poor can afford ) the smaller the pool of well educated citizens becomes. The more under-educated people there are the harder it is to fill jobs at a certain level of technical ability and above, and the more people there are needing lower grade jobs. Unemployment rises. The need to bring overseas talent in to fill the top jobs raises wages and the top end of the spectrum, which increases the gap between rich and poor, which increases the cost of education. Do you see where this is going? Is this sounding familiar at all? I realise that in your cushy offices and luxury homes it's hard to imagine that this affects you in any way, but can you at least see that you have a responsibility to ALL the people of New Zealand not just those on the gravy train? Does not your moral compass quiver at the thought of all those people abandoned?

You keep pretending that things will get better for everyone, but things will not. In the long run they will eventually become worse for YOU too. Do we want a country where people are forced to live on the streets, slowly starving for want of a hand up? Are we ok with being a people who ignore the suffering of others? Because this is the decision we are being led to. 

I will borrow for a moment from something a good man wrote as a piece of black humour.

The idea of a civilisation that had gotten rid of the middle class. They did it rather differently, but the net result was that they were all wiped out by a disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

Funny or not the point is that every section of a community is important. I'm not into labeling or a class system as such I'd rather think of it all as sides of a regular shape. Each side is important in holding the structure together. if you remove a side you weaken the structure and open it to outside stresses.

I realise that I tend to harp on about education. But really it is SO important. It's the root of civilisation. Without it we might as well climb back up into the trees. Education allows us to live up to our potential, educated to a level appropriate to our abilities makes us a happier people. Variation in potential allows us to fill all the levels of society. But NOT if we do not allow those with the greatest potential to reach it. One should not assume that the smart are always rich, or that the poor are always stupid. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with not being smart, or anything inherently great about being smart. As in all things, it's what you do with what you have that matters. There's nothing wrong with cleaning telephones for a living, every niche must be filled or it lessens us all. 

The primary function of a welfare state is to allow all people the ability to reach their potential. Yes, I am aware that an (actually insignificant) area of society take advantage of that but as I mentioned earlier it doesn't matter what system you use there are always a few who will work the loopholes. I'd rather go with a system that benefits society as a whole than just watch the fortunate few get more fortunate.

Peace. Out.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


The country I grew up in, the New Zealand I remember as a child was a land of compassion; a land of hope. A place where everyone had a reasonable chance of success, and no one had to live in ignominy. We were in fact what America has so long pretended to be. A land of freedom, a land of milk and honey. GODZONE (I seriously hate that term, but grasp it's intent). 

What have we become? I lament.

What drove us to this dirty bottom? A place where our leaders believe it is acceptable to take those most vulnerable people and make them MORE VULNERABLE; Acceptable to discard our collective responsibility to care for ALL our people; Acceptable to treat the unfortunate as criminals. What did we all do so very WRONG?

In the wake of a huge step in the right direction, in the shining light of our finally giving our people the option to marry whatever other thinking adult they choose to love, are we about to take a giant filthy leap into the dark ages? 

Changes to benefits happen all the time, I was a beneficiary for a long time - sickness is a respecter of no one. But the changes we are looking at now are a sickness in themselves. Compulsory pre-employment drug testing? What the ACTUAL FUCK? At the expense of the beneficiary no less. If a prospective employer wants a fucking drug test, they can fucking ask for one and fucking pay for it them fucking selves. Is this suddenly Nazi Germany (sorry Germany, you have come a very long way since those dark days)? read here about the latest travesty

Dodgy new laws invading personal privacy? Sure we can do that; what the fuck, why not! SERIOUSLY NATIONAL PUT A FUCKING TIN FOIL HAT ON YOU CRAZY BASTARDS. Stop it right now.

I could continue but I'm actually starting to froth a little, so I shall restore sanity and continue in peace.

Bizarre idea I know, but what about actually trying to HELP these people? Recently the concept of benefits as an addictive influence on people has been mooted. That handing someone with no current means of survival a lifeline is tantamount to handing them a bong. Well, I can see a certain train of logic in it and I'm pretty sure it's the same train of thought that the person(s) who initially suggested this were on. For some people going from a panic situation with no money, no job no prospects to a wage they can get for doing NOTHING could conceivably be like a drug, but I think that's actually a pretty small percentage of the total adult population. The people who will treat it like a drug for the most part are the ones who are at risk of all kinds of similar issues anyway. The ones who are raised in a naf situation and raised to expect they will never be able to get out of it no matter what they do. The ones who don't believe in themselves in the first place. And what do we achieve by making the system harder for them? We make them even less likely to ever even TRY to raise themselves up. Mark my words National, you will create a new culture of criminal, those who feel they have no place else to go. What you save in making peoples lives more miserable you will loose in so many other ways. Handing someone the means to pull themselves out of the gutter will never be a wasted effort no matter the result. We are judged by how we treat those fallen from fortune, and if we do not try we cannot succeed.

I'm not suggesting that there are no people who will take advantage of a welfare system. I am suggesting that those people are a tiny minority. I am suggesting that taking food from these peoples mouths will not magically make jobs appear, will not magically make them qualified for the jobs that are out there. I'm suggesting that making things harder for the ones who actually want to try will only hold them back.

If you want to make a real change you are starting in the wrong place. The place where the change must come, as all change must come, is with the young. Start in schools, improve our education system (which you have so far continued your crazy path by dismantling further) teach children to respect themselves, to respect others. Teach them to believe they can be everything they are capable of, that if they try they can make more of themselves than what they see. ALL children, not just the privileged few. Make sure that they have enough to eat, a roof over their heads, clothes on their back. Make sure that no child is left behind, that no child feels they are not worth as much as the next. Change for good is a long process, but quick change for a quick profit will turn to ashes in your mouth. 

Take some of the bollocks that no one actually needs to learn out of the education system at put in the skills that will help them GET A JOB. The skills to make a good choice in further training. The education system is a monolith that needs a facelift, a massive facelift. Restructuring to a system that teaches a mixture of what you need to know and what you want to learn. I look at the state of our current education system and weep. Teachers under paid and under valued. For goodness sake how the fuck long have they had to put up with the NOVOPAY debacle? If that was politicians wages getting fucked up it wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes. School was hardly perfect when I was there, lets face it schools worldwide are by and large a bit crap - unless they happen to have a shed load of cash available to them. But when I was a kid it was still a respected institution, not an irritation that you had to tolerate in order to get on with your life (ok I probably have a pretty twisted attitude towards school both past and present, sue me). Teachers don't have time to put into the students, students don't have freedom to learn, and to find their own path. Parents treat schools like daycare and seldom have the spare time to put into helping their kids find that path. All that money you want to put into invading our privacy and policing our poor, put it into helping them to raise a healthier, happier next generation. A generation of young adults who believe in themselves, believe in their homeland and want to make this a better world. I dare you to.

Peace. Out.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Which way to the Trans bathroom?

*DISCLAIMER - I'm not an expert on transgender politics. No offence is intended. You know, unless you're a douchebag.

Gender is in the brain. This is a hard concept for many to understand, as it goes against what most of us think we know about human gender. But more and more science is coming to understand that the important bit is in your head not your genitalia. For most of us, this is a moot point – I think I’m a girl, and you see a girl. I’m a girl. Easy. But what happens when the inner and outer don’t match? If you understand that your gender is inside your brain, then you should be able to see that given the vagaries of genetics sometimes someone will be born without a correctly matched set. Like sometimes people are born with the wrong number of toes, or two different coloured eyes. Things are not always the way we expect them to be, and transgender is no different – except that it’s invisible. And gets close to sex and sexuality, so it’s all icky and difficult. AND I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!

So before you go judging someone for an existence that you don't understand, take a step back and think about how it might feel to be that kind of different. The kind of different that 'normal' people are at a loss to understand at all. THERE IS NO NORMAL. Trust me, no matter how normal you think you are, someone out there thinks you're a freak.

*wandering off course for an example* I have a friend, who is deeply Christian (in that unbelievably annoying holier than thou kind of way) she's nice enough most of the time. Then she says things like "I just wish everyone was normal like me". And I'm forced to explain reality to her. She is a narrow minded bigot. Who actually believes that believing in God makes it all ok. For her, being a Christian is a licence to commit whatever douchebaggery takes her fancy, as long as she thinks God agrees with her. And telling her that her idea of God makes me glad I'm an atheist just makes her sad for my immortal soul. As the number of topics I simply will not discuss with her grows I spend less time bothering to find space for her in my life.

But it's not about sex. And it's REALLY not about sexuality. It's about how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. I have it pretty easy. I know I'm a girl on the inside, most people see a girl on the outside. But growing up it wasn't always like that. I was kind of a tomboy, I liked my hair short, I played rugby and I didn't like to hang around with the other girls. I hated skirts. I lived in shorts and T-shirts. It wasn't about sexuality at all. It was about me being comfortable. It wasn't anything to do with gender either, except the piece of me that saw that boys got to have sensible hair cut and wear comfortable clothes and I didn't see any reason why I shouldn't too. I guess I have it lucky there too, I don't really give a damn what anyone else thinks about my decisions. I can thank my father for that. Among other things.

But when I got older, it got a hell of a lot more obvious I was a girl no matter what I wore and no matter how short my hair was.

It's been shorter.

So I have it easy. I know who I am, and so do you. But for many it isn't that easy. I want you to try a little thought exercise: Imagine that tomorrow morning you wake up and you're Chinese. (I apologise for this arbitrary choice, I am aiming for a group whose culture and race are far different from my own - should Chinese be an inappropriate choice for you, please choose another.)

But it's more complicated than that. On the outside you're Chinese, but on the inside you're the same as you were yesterday. And you don't really understand Chinese. Your brain knows what all the words are but they just don't make proper sense to you. Worse and worse, no matter what you try to do about it people just keep treating you like you're Chinese. Uncomfortable yet? Of course you are, because NO ONE likes being treated like something they are not. Even when it's a pretty innocuous seeming thing like being expected to want to play with dolls when you like rugby.

Everyone is different. Sometimes a person’s difference is harder to understand but that is not even in the same ball park as being wrong. That way madness lies.

When I meet intolerance in my life, I try to meet it with understanding. I try to get people to look at their prejudice from a different direction. Because everyone has something that makes them uncomfortable. And nobody wants to be uncomfortable. Sometimes understanding your douchebaggery only comes when you understand how it might be applied to YOU.

So try stopping and imagining your opinion being applied to you before you go sticking your size twelves in. You are not obliged to agree with a persons lifestyle, but try not to be a dick about it.

Peace. Out.

A brief outburst

I am an angry pedestrian. Usually I am a moderately restrained angry pedestrian, who just goes home muttering under my breath when someone is a douchebag at my expense. Today I shall throw 2c in the well instead.


Does any Christchurch driver know what the road rules with regards to pedestrians are? Seriously I am beginning to wonder. (I give my friends  the benefit of the doubt here, as _almost_ everyone I've driven with appears sane behind the wheel)

Dear stupid lady,

Had I been stupid enough to step out without looking as you clearly thought I was going to, you would probably have hit me. And then you would be facing at the very least reckless driving charges. It's a bit of a shame you didn't bother to stop to continue swearing at me, because I would have greatly enjoyed explaining to you calmly exactly which laws you broke. Possibly you could consider slowing down at corners so that the next somebody looks like maybe they might step out to cross you won't be taken by surprise.

Possibly you could also invest in a copy of the road code.

No thanks.