Saturday, 31 December 2011

Unscheduled Hiatus

Hi everyone!

Thanks for sticking with the "MemeSpreeNZ" project thus far.

It's been really stressful for me and mine, but in the process I've met some cool cats and clever chicks; I've learned more about the way good government works than I'd ever thought possible.

I even got a complaint laid against me by the Electoral Commission over the "Royal Wedding" images which freaked me out more than a little; it's a hell of a thing to come to your computer on the day before polling day to find, "This is so-and-so from the Electoral Commission, please respond; I am well aware of Rule One" sitting in your inbox one morning. I mean, I thought it was someone's idea of a bad joke.

Well, with the help of a lot of people who know more about these things than I do, the complaint has been dealt with. I'm probably never ever going to find out who laid it, and just in case the person who did lay the complaint sees this: I'm sorry that my stupid joke offended you. If you ever want to talk about why I went so over-the-top with my jokes, just drop a line to and we'll talk about it, as privately as you wish.

Because when I'm alone, I'm just a guy who wants his family to be safe, and I can't do that if I feel like the government is being run by a bunch of self-serving crooks. Not criminals, per se - but just selfish, greedy mother-loving crooks.

So, when I get back to the Internet in anywhere between 1~5 weeks, I'm going to need the help of clever people like you to help me put together a submission to the Electoral Commission on why 1/3rd of the country didn't bother to turn out to vote. Because of my background, I'm really really good at coming up with theories, but I'm only just now learning how to source evidence to back my theories up.

2012 is going to be a really surreal year for everyone. There's supposed to be this big apocolypse happening, and depending on who you listen to, it's going to be about either neutrinos melting the earth's crust so that the continents turn to jello, or - if you're a Shadowrun(tm) fan, The Magic will come back into the world and turn us all into Elves, Trolls, or Dragons, depending on how many EXP points you have.

Obviously, they're both wrong - the sky isn't going to fall on our heads - but we'll have to live with all the people who think it will.

PS: Here are two little links to what the hell "Fnord" means:

Until we meet again, stay stafe; see you in a few weeks.

Arthur Monteath-Carr

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Holy Moly, that was a big shake. You all, you all right?

A Very Shakey, Very Merry Xmas Essay
By C. Arthur Monteath-Carr

I am writing this post to try and summarise some of the thoughts I've been having about the Canterbury Quakes today while I've been in the middle of my personal life, my political thought process, and thinking about the jobs of Government and the Media. Right in the middle of my everyday life which - much like yours, dear reader - is kind of busy and stressful. Not more or less busy than your life, just a different
kind of busy than your life.

We all prepare for the Holiday Season in our own way. Some of us shop for presents for our Friends and Family; some of us send tweets to our peeps full of good tidings of great joy. Some of us clean our whole houses in preparation for an Xmas Eve Dinner with people we love, in preparation for opening presents with people we love on Xmas Day. These are all Good Things that we all do, in our own ways, every year.

Whatever your own personal tradition is, it's important.

It's valid, for you, and those you care about have their own traditions around this time of year that are valid for them. It's important that we can recognise that every family has their own Christmas, or Xmas, or christmas, (or Kwanza, Hanukkah, or Ramadan, and all the many, many year-end rituals that all cultures have) and it's important for society to be a place where 
everyone can have their own traditions, and have the right to have their own traditions.

Keep this in mind. I'm going somewhere with this.
 But it takes a while to get there. Sorry. ;)

On 23-12-2011, on the single busiest retailing/shopping day of the year
bar none (unless your store does a big Boxing Day sale; not all stores do, but some do), Mother Earth gave us a Christmas present of three big earthquakes. Just to remind everyone that she's still here, still doing her thing.

Here is my personal reaction, in the usual C. A. Monteath-Carr rambling post-post-modern essay that I like to write. It's part of my process; I hope you find it useful. It's sort of a tragi-comic-serious-post-with jokes, and it worked for me; I really hope it works for you.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

On 23-12-2011, Christchurch - and Canterbury, and to a different extent, New Zealand - got rocked by three big earthquakes; a 5.8, followed by a 5.3, and a 6.0 magnitude quake, bam-bam-bam, right after one another.

I'm writing this post at a mellowed out 1:01 a.m after a really, really long day for myself and my family; I won't bore you with the details, but we were having a pretty stressful day with Real Life stuff when the shakes hit town.

TV One and TV Three news had their camera crews out in short order; the local news offices have had a lot of practice by this point in getting the crews out to do the very very important job of talking to real people going through real problems, asking them to share their personal experiences with the country, who - in turn - can sit in their homes and come to grips with the awful thing that just happened to their family, their friends, and their friends-of-friends in Canterbury.

Personal aside: This page was the one I was following for "breaking news" on the Very Shakey Xmas Eve (Eve), or 23/12/11. It morphed from being a blunt "this just in" bulletin service, to a scare story about All Malls being Evacuated, and finally into a summary of the situation as it was when the reporter stopped updating the page and moved on to the next story. Despite the headline and URL - possibly chosen by a sub-editor - I found it very helpful as I tried to come to grips with what had happened, and I want to thank the people involved in this story for helping me do that. Back to the post. ^_^

The media and the local council have been playing a very, very very important job in Canterbury recently. It has been the Council's job to act as a sort of intermediary between the emergency National Level entity that is CERA and the everyday people. It has been the Media's (very important) job of explaining CERA, the EQC, the local council, local builders and local architects who want to help, and the everyday people, to the rest of the country, in language they can relate to.

Because make no mistake; CERA is really fucking scary.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Why I Hope that Carmel Sepuloni Pushes for a Second Recount

By  Arthur Monteath-Carr

1) It'll be funny as all get up.

I've since lost the original pic, darn it...

2) I really really really want "Basher" Bennett to get a bloody nose after all her "Oh, I can release confidential WINZ client files to the media with like zero consequences, that's cool" bullshit. Whatever else she is or does, that was a totally uncalled for straight-up dick move.

3) This post on Legal Beagle raises the tantalizing spectre of National losing a seat, leaving Bennett out of government all together. Which is, I'll admit, my Schadenfreude showing, but the resultant dramas would be well worth the $100,000 spent.

4) Actual serious reason: taking the NZ Herald story at face value, there were nearly 400 people who hadn't enrolled who realised, on the day, that they did care very much about who represented them in Parliament, and fronted up to cast a special vote. Emphasis added:

Auckland lawyer Peter Kiely was recount scrutineer for the National Party and said some changes came about because votes allowed on election night might have had a mark in the box rather than a tick.

Kiely revealed 425 declared votes were disallowed - nine were dual votes, 393 ineligible votes and 12 were not authorised by a witness.

"Those 393, not only were they not on the roll in Waitakere, but they weren't enrolled anywhere."

Sunday, 18 December 2011

YOU won this fight, NOT John bloody Key.

By Arthur Monteath-Carr

The headline for this story is at best flirting with the truth and at worst actually harmful to the movement to save the main Auckland 24-hour rape crisis call centre.

It evokes the image of a fatherly Key hearing the pleas of vulnerable people and generously moving to save the centre, like Yahweh parting the Red Sea after a quick txt from Moses.

I was going to do one with Moses coming down the mount with two iPads, but I got lazy. ^_^

In reality Key's Facebook page is a weapon the party uses to present a sanitized version of our Glorious Leader. During the Election any post critical of National policy was deleted and the poster banned - myself included. Granted, some of my posts were... less articulate or well mannered... than some... but. The point remains. The group "Dear John Key, Here is the Letter/Post You Deleted From Your Wall" collects some of these.

I have seen no evidence he even reads or runs the damn thing. While he was relaxing eating takeout with his fam on polling day eve, he was also porting ads on his page:

Posted on the Lord High Everything Else's page between bites of Chow Mein, presumably.
Interestingly, I now cannot find the post on his page or anything else from polling day eve. Hmm.

Remember: National didn't save the crisis centre. YOU DID by screaming so loud they couldn't ignore you any more.

YOU are more powerful than you could ever realise. NEVER let them forget that

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Why Won't National Co-Operate with Anyone?

I read with alarm that the agreement between the Maori Party and the National Party included a new committee to investigate the causes and propose solutions to poverty.

This was one of the wild-card issues of the 2011 Election, springing from a fantastic documentary on the subject of Child Poverty and How We're Doing It Wrong when compared to Sweden, or even New Zealand in the 1950s. The right-wing citizen's militia of bloggers could only find two faults with it:

1) The mould in the house could have easily been solved by opening a window, and
2) One of the families had a boat-load of consumer electronics, so obviously, they weren't as poor as was made out.

Welcome to Missing The Point theatre.

Wammo: Keeping it Real since Ever.

Poor people may not always have been poor. Poor people often survive on gifts and hand-me-downs, and few things date as quickly as games consoles. This is called Charity, and when Christians have a mind to do so, they're quite good at it; the problem is, however, that Christians - as a collective noun - are not always the best at spotting when the money-changers have set up shop in the temple.

Likewise, anyone who has ever lived in a shit-hole slum house owned by absentee landlords and run by petty bullies of property managers know that it is not as simple as opening a window. If it was, that window would be open. But it's not open, so, therefore, it cannot be that simple.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Thoughts on the Special Votes

I started working on a full post on the true meaning and subtle variations on the word "Mandate" and what it means in New Zealand, and it evolved into this mammoth "State of the Nation As I See It" essay that I'm both proud of and kind of scared by. So while I whittle that into shape, I would like to quickly share with you my thoughts on the Special Votes, both before and after they were counted.

You may have seen these ideas in their larval form on the Facebook page; consider this a refinement and a collection of those ideas in a single place. I promise to have something meatier up on Tuesday. Thank you for reading.

Every Vote Is Special
By Arthur Monteath-Carr

In my view, every vote is a special vote.

Every vote is like a snowflake; no two are said to be alike, yet if you group them together, they can form a snowball, or a snowman, or a snow-fort. Get enough of them, and you have a vote-avalanche.

(Where this metaphor breaks down is that it leads to the idea of politicians trying to catch your vote on their tongues, and that's not a good look for anyone; let's move on quickly before anyone notices).

Yesterday, the Special Vote tally was released, ending a special time for me when there was still a faint, remote hope that National would potentially lose two seats to other parties, forcing them to re-negotiate their agreements with ACT and Peter Dunne's Peter Dunne Party United Future. It would've handed the Maori Party yet more rope, and could have - in Bizarro Land - led to a weird spectre of a Greens confidence-and-supply agreement, or even - heaven forfend! a National-Labour confidence and supply agreement; stranger things have happened in Germany, where MMP was born.

(John Key has a weird idea of how MMP works. He is on record as saying [I'm paraphrasing here] that he would much prefer a world where the leading party could just do whatever the hell they wanted and he is under the impression that "Most New Zealanders" see things his way; don't expect a tiny little thing like 57% of the country disagreeing with him to deter him from this view. I'll come back to this point. There are links).

For a blessed fortnight, the fate of Nicky Wagner and Brendan Burns hung in a very, very delicate balance; the preliminary tally was *exactly* tied, which - in sporting terms - put the race for Earthquake-battered ChCh Central into overtime and up to a penalty shoot-out.

Likewise, Paula "Basher" Bennett had a lot to worry about; her precious, proud Westie home looked set to either give her a skin-of-her-teeth victory or a bitter, bitter pill of rejection to swallow. If she lost her homeland of Westie™~Ville, then her whole image of a solo-mum-done-good would be in tatters. Her position as National's sympathetic voice to the Underclass would be in jeapordy, leaving her with the blood of the poor on her hands and no Ministerial perks to justify it.

Truly, we live in the best of all possible worlds.

More after the jump... if you dare.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Myth of Financial Conservatism

By Arthur Monteath-Carr

When National and ACT (hereafter referred to as John Banks' ACT Party Of John Banks (An Incorporated Society for the Promotion of the Welfare of John Banks, or simply ACT for short) shook hands over their hastily assembled agreement on who would do what and to whom, the document included a number of policy initiatives that the general public weren't prepared for.

Lord High Executioner (left) and Lord High Everything Else, sign Con Game and Supply Agreement

"Buwhaaaa?" queried a sleepy, hung-over populace, groping for the "snooze" button after a hard night out on the polls. "Whuzzat? Charter schools that don't have to hire qualified teachers, can dictate their own curriculum, can cherry pick only the highest performing students and receive public funding? And they're gonna justify this with clauses that were never intended to allow this sort of silliness? Get out of town!

With respect to education, the parties have, in particular, agreed to implement a system, 
enabled under either sections 155 (Kura Kaupapa Maori) or 156 (Designated character 
schools), or another section if appropriate, of the Education Act, whereby school 
charters can be allocated in areas where educational underachievement is most entrenched

"They gonna outsource what should be core WINZ business, thus avoiding the embarassing admission that they're under-funding and under-resourcing the state sector? Naaaah, never.

They further agree to implement measures to improve the effectiveness of employment 
placement services for beneficiaries through contracting out such services to private 
sector and community organisations, as set out in WWG Recommendation 34: Employment service

"And what's this? They're gonna privatise ACC?

National and ACT agree to introduce competition for ACC's Work Account. National 
acknowledges ACT's concern about the participation of private insurers and the fairness 
of the competitive process if ACC remains a competitor for Work Account business, and 
agrees to implement policy to manage and minimise this risk

"A spending cap on government expenditure requiring government to have a very good excuse for increasing funding? Didn't we already have a similar provision requiring governement to run at a surplus? Isn't that enough?

National and ACT agree that New Zealand’s current fiscal problems were caused by 
irresponsible increases in government spending between 2005 and 2008. They agree 
that this could happen again in the future unless institutional changes are put in place 
that will better constrain excessive future increases in government spending

"And, lessee, what else... Oh yeah, and this is all somehow Labour's fault. Uh-huh. Sure. Whatevs. Don't these guys ever take a holiday? We just voted! Take a break guys!"

Yup, you heard right. National and ACT are taking the chance that everyone is just so, so sick of goddamn politics by now to ram through their agenda for the next three years. The whole thing has a sort of desperate air to it. Despite ACT's miserably low polling, despite only having 1 seat, Banksy is being given powers far beyond what his deceptively weak position might - on first glance - warrant.

This is because National likes having ACT around to take the flack for all the stuff they want to do, but have to appear "moderate" and "centrist" to court the mainstream voting public.

This is the real reason the two Johnnies had that little pow-wow. National needs ACT to be the stealth vehicle for their real agenda.
Image stolen from "The Standard," a pro-Labour blog collective.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thanks and New Update Schedule

I would just like to say a huge THANK YOU to all our wonderful guest posters; I know I've really enjoyed hearing from all of you.

I'm all shook up... with gratitude! Image Source

When I set up MemeSpree NZ I thought of it as a "sharing space" to try and encourage anyone and everyone to get their views out there on the Inter-Nets. I think that, during the election, I kind of failed at this (No submissions received through Email, but there were some really good stuffs posted on the Facebook page, which was rad!) and looking back at the proposed update schedule at the start, I was not only hopelessly naive, I was hopelessly optimistic and ambitious. But hey, we live and learn.

So we're not going anywhere, but we are slowing down some.

My Real Life is still pretty hectic and there's still a few things I need to smooth out before kicking back into all things political again, but I do want to keep this blog up; it's been a blast and really helped me feel like I'm actually contributing to the online debate. It's not, like delusions of grandeur or anything.

Possibly delusions of relevance. ^_^

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Guest Week Day 7: Anon. on Why They Didn't Vote

The following is a short piece from an internet acquaintance. Again, a preemptive Mod Voice note: This is someone who has never thought to put up any of their political opinions on the Internet before. Speaking out, especially in the face of an immense frustration at the low voter turn-out from people who did vote, is not easy, and a torrent of righteous indignation in the comments field would Not Help Anyone.

In any case, here it is.

A Vote for Jughead Is A Vote For a Healthier America

I didn't vote because I don't actively educate myself on policies etc of specific parties.

I just have other priorities and interests and its the last thing on the list. It feels like a chore and I'd rather spend time working on other things. Personally, if something doesn't interest me I find it really hard to focus on it and it just goes in one ear and out the other.

I'm the sort of person that will just accept what happens and get on with it - in New Zealand it doesn't seem like we really have any hard left and right wing, probably more so on the left if anything..

I feel like making an uneducated decision is worse than just voting for someone because someone tells you to vote - it seemed like after the election everyone was disgusted about the lack of voters when really they were just angry because their party didn't win.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Guest Week Day Six: Lib. B. on the Choice of No Choice

Lib. is an active participant in and coach for community sport, works as a food service worker, and is very interested in women, and their rights.

Below she outlines why she feels that no current political party fairly represents her and her values, and why she chose “Option D: None of the Above.”

     This round of voting I chose not to vote. I’m very pro- women (giggling to myself right now) and love how women fought for my right to vote and I do appreciate this. But with the right to vote also comes the right to choose not to.

     I have lost faith in both Labour- and National- led Governments. People asked me why I didn’t vote and I answered them with, “Because there’s no ‘none of the above’ option.”

     National are a party that will increase the gap between the rich and the poor; and as for John Key, he lost me when he flat out promised not to raise GST to 15% and then did. It’s not the raising of GST that gets me; it’s the lie in the first place.

     You may be picking up that I’m rather anti-National, which I am, but Labour seems to lack leadership and integrity; those values appear to have left with the departure of Helen. Labour currently reminds me of a school child pointing fingers at the other kids: very quick to point out the flaws of other parties and politicians but not doing anything properly themselves. Yes fingers need to be pointed, but also make sure you’re not doing the same or a similar thing yourselves.

If "A is A," does that mean that "A" is also "A"?

Everybody's talking about it... but I can't hear a word they're saying...

I heard an excellent RadioNZ interview about "recursion" shortly before the election, and it blew my mind.

(Relevant bit tagged as "9:05" but I recall this particular episode of Kim Hill's Saturday show to be exceptionally good the whole way through)

It was talking about the way our brains are structured to deal with the concept of infinity; the way we can manage to wrap our (collective) heads around the sort of, "I know that he knows, but does he know that I know that he knows?" situations that can arise when humans are communicating with each other.

Which is a complicated way of saying the people are pretty good at internalising complex situations in their minds, and lead me to thinking about how if you only consider the views and opinions of people that already agree with you, you're only ever going to come to conclusions you already agree with.

Anyway, this was just a quick screencap of the sort of weirdness my BookFace experience is throwing up at me these days. Good times, good times. Hope everyone is enjoying our excellent series of guest posts on the topic of How and Why one should (or shouldn't) participate in Democracy; please feel free to submit any thoughts you have on your own voting/not voting experience to this email address.

Please, stick around; things are only going to get more fun from here on in.


Friday, 2 December 2011

Guest Week Day 5: Jamaine Ross' Thing He Wrote

Jamaine Ross is one of my oldest friends from my early childhood. We shared a mutual love of emergent improvised story-telling (ie, playing HeroQuest), engaging in speculation on future modular technologies (playing with Lego™ spaceships) and exploring the potential of the then-embryonic interactive electronic media (playing Wing Commander 2 and other video-games). He now works as a video editor in Auckland. 

Having recently re-connected through Facebook, he was kind enough to offer his insights into how and why he cast his ballots in earlier elections, and what changed this time around.


A Thing I Wrote

(This is the actual title by the way. It just doubles as the subject of the email I'm using to submit it. This stuff in the brackets included)

     I’ve never really been that politically minded. The first time I voted, I gave my candidate vote to the name I recognised (whose name I wouldn’t recognise now), and I gave my party vote to NZ First because I thought Winston Peters was funny.

Spurious corruption allegations: HILARIOUS!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Guest Post Day 4: N. Tranter on Why She was Right To Vote Right

One of the initial aims of the MemeSpree NZ project was to get people talking across the political divide and listening - really listening - to each other, and using language that both sides understood. In practice, this hasn't turned out all that well, owing to an unchecked bias held by your humble editor [Arthur Monteath-Carr] in his role as chief cat-herder and a prolific contributor of personal views.

Consequently, while trolling for content for Guest Week, he received this very well thought-out email from mother-of-three N. Tranter in which she quite stridently told him not to bother trying to promote his pro-Labour/Green agenda at her because she'd already fought off the most seasoned debaters in her circle of friends. The post covers off matters relating to Market Signals, Mineral Extraction and Wealth Creation, Conservation, education funding and Choice thereof, and the labour market, all in casual, plain English.

It is reproduced below, with her permission, with only minor edits for formatting and clarity. Emphasis is added in bold by [Arthur] to highlight what he sees as key points.

"A bored teenage student in Britain was taken to hospital after she yawned so deeply during a class that her mouth got stuck wide open" -Deccan Chronicle

All my Wellington friends have well lectured me [as to why the Centre-Left bloc of parties is superior to National (Ed.)]. Please don't take offence, but there are cities in NZ which are strongly [politically opinionated] one way or another.

Not that this affected my voting. What strongly affected my voting was the fact that if people earn more than others, they are subjected to paying a higher percentage of tax than lower earners. Given that, there is no incentive for the average Joe to work harder, and so earn more.

The average Joe decides that, so he can avoid paying more tax, he will either work the same hours he currently is and so earn the same amount of money, or just decide not to work at all. As a country, having people strongly opposed to working more or  harder, or even not at all, the amount of money the citizens earn and spend is less, which has a negative impact on our countries' economy.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Guest Week Day Three: Gen on Voting and His- or Her- Story

Gen may or may not be the glamorous singer and front-woman for international pop idols "Gen and the Holograms." We can neither confirm nor deny this, but the fact that they have never been photographed in the same place at the same time is telling.

When not duelling with the Misfits in the charts, Gen does freelance web design. Having recently returned from living in Australia, Gen has strong feelings about why she voted, and how.

     Voting makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than me, my life and I. In all honesty I get a buzz from the experience. I enjoy the tiny bit of power I’m given every three years and I take it very seriously. It has always baffled me that so many people choose not to have a voice when it comes to the direction of our country - particularly when we live in such a tiny nation that has in the past made such big political stands that many of us are so fiercely proud of.

Members of the Campaign Against Nuclear Warships (CANWAR) stand aboard the yacht Phoenix in Wellington Harbour while awaiting the arrival of the USS Longbeach in 1976.