Tuesday, May 31, 2005

If You Don't Have Hands It's Just Called Foot and Mouth

liver writes:

"I've copied some stuff off the internet on hand foot and mouth disease for you."
"Because your sister called and their little man has come down with it so Sam probably will too."
"Isn't that the stuff farmers shoot their stock for?"
"Yeah, but that's just because they can't eat for a couple of days. He'll be fine if you can't get him to take any milk for a day or too, he'll just be screaming because he's hungry"

I feel kind of sorry for the cows that get put down just because they're a little skinny. But then I can't exactly see them hooked up to IV's either...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Apathy Jack writes:

“Sir, have you marked my exam?”
“I’ve only marked your novel essay.”
“How did I do?”
“You didn’t bother reading the novel – how do you think you did?”
“Pretty good?”
“Yeah, not bad considering.”

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hairy Legs and Bowl Cuts

Josh writes:

Jim Hopkins, bravely making the world safe from cartoon characters.

In a column thankfully low on wince-inducing puns ("Tamikaze" was actually quite clever), Jimbo fearlessly takes on "the Spanish inquisitors of our age" -- the hairy-legged, manifesto-pushing, man-hating feminists who want to take over society and make sure men are never in charge of anything again. Which would be brave and all if they, y'know, actually existed.

Sure, you get the extremists, as you do in any movement. The SCUM Manifesto aside, I've read the stuff from separatist nutjobs who claim that all acts of penetration are an invasion of a woman's body, and that even if a woman initiates, consents to and enjoys sex, she's actually still a rape victim. Which goes entirely against other conceptions of feminism I've heard that say it's all about women being able to make decisions for themselves as complete individuals and what. Don't ask me if it's possible for a man to be a feminist -- I asked that in a Philosophical Issues in Feminism tutorial many years ago, and still haven't got a clear answer. With so many different meanings and definitions, feminism is fast become as meaningless a phrase as that "PC" business Jim Lad's always going on about...

Oh, and speaking of cartoon characters, our favourite P-head's been given life. For killing samurai swords, apparently. Still going with the crazy angle, I see:

[The judge] said a minimum non-parole period of 20 years was appropriate at which point Dixon interrupted from the dock.

"Bring back the electric chair," he said and applauded.

I'm assuming he followed this with "I'm a dolphin who's never tasted melted snow. What does the color blue taste like? Bobo knows. I must speak with the dolphins now. Eee-ee-ee-eek!"

Yeah, that's right, motherfucker -- a Hudson Hawk reference. I so went there.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Words by other people that describe Jack better than he can describe himself Part IV of IV

Apathy Jack writes:

by Jack Handy:

I wish I could have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I’d just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking of doing that anyway.

RSJS writes:

Y’know, people sometimes sidle up to me, breath rich with methylated spirits and generic cola beverages and ask “Why don’t you take your pants off in public any more?”. Actually, it’s more a slurred atonal moaning sound barely modulated by numb lips, but the message’s intention is plain.

And I look down upon these swaying imbeciles and their pink piggy eyes and I tell them what my ol’ mother used to tell me: “Fuck off”.

Little do these cirrhosis supporters know there are actually reasons my pants stay on nowadays. It’s not because my pants quality has improved (though they have) nor that my scarred arse is even more lumpen and misshaped than back in the days of nocturnal nudie hours (which it is, damn those pies and country roads) nor even a fear of being video-taped by someone’s cellphone and made into a Vodafone wallpaper for the masses.

No, I’m done waving my arse in the breeze as there are better ways of getting noticed than by jumping up and down naked screaming “Look at me, I’m nekkid! Isn’t that weird?” for hours.

I am not a bright man. I slunk through a few University papers in my time and all I can remember of this further education is Purple Death. Yet I have learned that getting noticed by screaming “Look at my arse! Pay attention to my arse!” is not the way to impress chicks or the world at large. So why the hell haven’t Winston Peters and Rodney Hide? Our glorious perk-busting scandal-uncovering Deadly Duo of shit-raking stalkerazzi seem to be forever staining my screens and broadsheets with their latest camera-hogging pious allegation of wrongdoing by who-knows-what. They seem to have all the tact and subtlety of televangelists claiming their limelight hijinks are for the glory of god while demanding attention and money and cheap sex and cheaper booze and lions and tigers oh, my… Seriously, every time another “scandal rocks the house” headline flashes up, tiny naked politicians dance in my mind going “Wheeee! I’m nekkid”. And no sir, I don’t like it.

I actually had a long extended-metaphor idea about these nudie politicos needing to cover themselves up with some policies of their own rather than waving their tackle at the peccadilloes of others, but the whole pants-policies thing just got bogged down in ideas of Rodney Hide in a crusty muumuu covered in biro-scrawled mission statements dancing about with umbrella-dressed drinks and I needed to have a little lie-down. So fuck extended metaphors. Good night..

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Words by other people that describe Jack better than he can describe himself Part III of IV

Apathy Jack writes:

from Barcelona Plates by Alexei Sayle:

Alice was inclined towards Victorian melancholy, more as a passtime than as a fundamental part of her character, it was cheap and you could do it on your own. She would often stand in a rain-sodden graveyard and a couple of times she had got dressed up in her best clothes and stood in the shadows outside house parties that she had been invited to, envying the happy smiling people going inside to the light and chatter. Alice thought Saturday evening the loneliest time of all to be away from home. She gave herself a thrill of sadness thinking of herself far from home and the life inside the houses - TV on to no one, baths and make up, clothes thrown about, early tea, empty streets, then she had to stop as real sadness started to creep in.

Searching Under My Parent's House, I Found...

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

EVERYONE who has heard it wants to throw it out the window.

More fun than, well... Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Words by other people that describe Jack better than he can describe himself Part II of IV

Apathy Jack writes:

from The Corrections by Jonathon Franzen

Earlier in the day, while killing some hours by circling in blue ballpoint ink every upper case M in the front section of a month-old New York Times, Chip had concluded that he was behaving like a depressed person. Now, as his telephone began to ring, it occurred to him that a depressed person ought to continue staring at the TV and ignore the ringing – ought to light another cigarette and, with no trace of emotional affect, watch another cartoon while his machine took whoever’s message.

That his impulse, instead, was to jump to his feet and answer the phone – that he could so casually betray the arduous wasting of a day – cast doubt on the authenticity of his suffering. He felt as if he lacked the ability to lose all volition and connection with reality the way depressed people did in books and movies. It seemed to him, as he silenced the TV and hurried into his kitchen, that he was failing even at the miserable task of falling properly apart.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Words by other people that describe Jack better than he can describe himself Part I of IV

Apathy Jack writes:

from Be My Enemy by Christopher Brookmyre

“If you’re sensitively inclined, half an hour in front of the box is enough to make you feel thoroughly inadequate, sheltered and privileged just to be alive, Western European, HIV negative, heterosexual, unraped, unbombed, unstabbed, unmutilated, unhandicapped, uncancerous, unaddicted, unburnt, unflooded, unmugged, unpersecuted, unshot, unmined, unmolested or unsacked.”

Back in 10

Josh writes:

Can't talk -- playing Lumines.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Apathy Jack writes:

q. What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?

a. The Holocaust.

I had a long post fermenting in my head about how, in my youth (where I took for granted that God existed because, you know, I saw it on TV), I felt terribly guilty about praying for, I dunno, a new toy or whatever little kids want, because I was acutely aware that there were people in the world starving and being tortured and dying of disease and the like. I prefaced most childhood prayers with “Yeah, I know this doesn’t really count and isn’t a real problem, I know that there are people out there who need actual help, but still...”

However, the above joke pretty much sums up my childhood experiences in that area, so, instead of writing a lengthy rant, for the rest of the week I am going to put up words by other people that describe me better than I can describe myself.

If you don’t know me, this will save you the effort of having to meet me.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Another Prick In The Wall

Apathy Jack writes:

“Hi Mister!”
“Hi. Hey, smack your brother for me.”
“Alright. (Long pause) Wait, why?”
“Because he’s been bad.”
“You don’t teach my brother.”
“So how do you know he’s been bad.”
“Because I know everything, remember?”
“Oh yeah, that’s right.”

See, really, I can see how things like the David Benson Pope thing can happen. Today, while supervising a dance practice, I slammed a door in the face of a crying boy, and told a student in all seriousness that she should kill herself.

Now, out of context, those stories sound pretty damning. However, there is a context. As I’ve mentioned before: My students are not isolated anecdote-friendly incidents, they are very complex individuals, and I know them better than you do. So slamming a door or two will work, and you’ll have to trust me on that, because I don’t see you pulling thirteen hour days looking after these kids.

Meh. I don’t mean to complain - if it weren’t for this job, I would have gone my whole life without ever saying the sentence “You hoodrats are lucky the Charleston is so similar to the C-Walk.”

There are two things that make me a bit angry about the Benson Pope thing.

Firstly, while I don’t usually like to shoot the messenger, Rodney Hide does “earnest concern” so badly that you can actually see insincerity oozing from his pores as he sweats with the effort of attempted probity. Hide is backed in this instance by National’s Judith Collins, in the news at the end of last year for trying to introduce a bill that would have forced doctors to inform the parents of teenage girls needing abortions. How dare someone lecture the country about the safety of high school students when they’ve been trying to introduce legislation that would have seen the death toll among South Auckland teenagers increase exponentially.

Secondly: I was watching a Campbell Live interview with Tennis-Ball-Breath, and he asked; What could he do? He was helpless and there was nothing he could have done to stop the evil maniac gagging him and tying his hands.

Nothing at all, he reckoned.

If I pulled out a tennis ball and some gaffer tape, my students would beat the shit out of me.

So there is something he could have done. Sure, he was probably smaller and less Tongan than a lot of my kids, but getting the hell out of the classroom and complaining to another teacher probably wasn’t outside the realms of possibility at some point during the lesson.

I discussed the issue with my class today (it was news day – we talk about current affairs). I brought a tennis ball along by way of demonstration.

By the time the bell rang twenty minutes later, it had been half-inched off my desk without my even noticing.

So sure, Benson Pope is a sadist, a monster, and whateverthefuckelse they want to call him, but bugger the culture of victimhood that says there was nothing anyone could do until an election year three decades later.

Hitlog Follies, Part 5 of Some

Josh writes:

Of course, the crushing irony is that the best way to get our hitcount up is to comment on current events, "commenting on current events" including my shrill declaration that I don't care about current events. Time for one of those honourable deaths I keep hearing about...

Oh, and:

5th May 2005 07:14:28 - stab womb

From Canada, no less. The moral of the story is: Hypocrisy good; Canadians bad. But I expect you already knew that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Apathy Josh

Josh writes:

"And there's a million of us just like me, who cuss like me, who just don't give a fuck like me..."

Yes, Jordan, we really don't care. Seriously, don't give the arse of a rat about the political scandals that "the chattering classes of bloggers and talk-backers and media hacks" seem to think herald the end of [insert politician here]'s integrity/the Labour government/society as we know it. All you Libz masturbating over the Butcher report -- don't care. Peter Doone and who said what to whom*? Couldn't care less with a gun to my head. David Benson-Pope was a nasty prick of a school teacher 20 years ago? The sheer depth of my uncaring is in danger of warping time and space around it.

Look at John Tamihere -- what was the biggest mark against him in the public's eyes?

Fraud: What?

Golden handshake: Are you being rude?

Neglected a couple of poor widdle kitty cats: You unspeakable fucking monster!

I say no more.

* Note to self: another good title for a Dr. Suess book...

Monday, May 16, 2005

It's Like There's A Potty In My Mouth And Everyone's Invited!

Josh writes:

Looking back over the last few months, it seems like I swear more than the rest of my fellow contributors. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, mind, since I generally make sure my use of expletives is appropriate and constructive in all instances. Big fat cocks.

It's just a question of style -- Jellybean can be perfectly profane without having to indulge in Chaucerian vocabulary (a bit of potty-mouth isn't going to change the image of Garth George haemorrhaging to death with a Pekingese's urine in his arteries in either direction). Jack obviously has to curb his language in front of the children, and this shows in his writing (although I understand that after years of this he has developed the ability to make the vein on his forehead throb profanities in Morse code). Brother Morthos is a holy man (for a given value of "holy"). But me, I feel most of my prose benefits from the literary seasoning of a well-placed "fuck", "gobshite" or "cockmonkey".

I acknowledge that frequent swearing may not be to everyone's tastes -- look at the reaction when Salon's TV reviewer did a column in the style of Deadwood (favourite line: "Those that doubt me suck cock by choice!"), but damnit, I feel I'm performing an important service -- were it not for me, the person who was searching for shit stab fuck at 11:00 this morning would never have found his way to us. If my choice of register interferes with your work Internet filters, well, you'll just have to stop wasting company time and read blogs at home, you sponging layabout. But anyway.

In other news, I was wandering through Borders the other day, when who did I happen to come across but my favourite technopimp. "Oh," he says, "didn't expect to see you here -- I was just... waiting for Lumpy. Yeah, that's it. Oh, but look -- I have my PSP with me. Go on, touch it..."

So now I own a PSP. I was in a pessimistic frame of mind after I bought it -- the super cheap price that the import shop was advertising turned out to be for the device by itself, not the value pack with the memory card and handy accessories -- that was the same price as everywhere else. And I still wasn't sure about getting an import -- would it all be in Japanese? Would I need a funny adapter for the battery charger? However, as soon as I got it home and turned it on, all of that flowed away. It's just so pretty.

On my way out of Borders I passed Lumpy going in to "meet Dave". How convenient...

Apathy Jack writes:

So, witnesses have come forward to verify allegations that Associate Minister of Education David Benson-Pope threw tennis balls at students, caned them until they bled, and, in one particular instance, stuck a (perforated) tennis ball in a student’s mouth and gaffer-taped his hands to the desk to prevent him removing it.

See, what the proles don’t understand is that sometimes the students need to be tied down and have tennis balls shoved down their noiseholes. That’s how teaching works.

Earlier today, in my Year 12 class, I was threatening to shoot a student with my staple gun, when she pointed out that there was a trainee teacher in the back of the room. The question came: “When you were training, did you ever see the person who trained you shooting students with staple guns?”

“Of course – Where do you think I learned this!”

So far, after watching two of my lessons, the trainee has seen me tell students to shut up, threaten them with various levels of bodily harm, hit sundry of them with, from memory, rolled up bits of paper, a Chinese paperback novel, and a range of hardcover exercise books, and repeatedly voice my desire to leave teaching to become a zookeeper, on the understanding that the animals would be easier to manage, and would smell better. Though I did exercise a remarkable amount of self-control and stop myself picking up a chair towards the end of one of the periods.

The next generation of teachers will learn The Correct Way Of Doing Things, dammit, and the children will be schooled.

(Actually, I do remember an incident from my long-ago days as a relief teacher. Some kids decided to tie one of their classmates to his chairs using their jerseys. Given that this kid was annoying me, I didn’t stop them. I don’t remember what he was doing that was so irritating, but I did have a faint flash of nervousness tonight at the thought that twenty years from now some kid whose face I don’t even remember might be on a current affairs show claiming torture...)

I must say, though, that a tennis ball on the end of an arrow is a brilliant innovation in the student-beating field – one that I’m going to have to investigate. (My school doesn’t have archery facilities, but I’m sure that one of the students will have an arrow that I can confiscate. Failing that, I’ll substitute the tennis-ball-on-arrow for the bowling-ball-on-softball-bat idea that I’ve been thinking about...)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

This is not funny at all. Not in the slightest.

Apathy Jack writes:

For the last few days I’ve been thinking of some manner of comment I can make on this story, but I’m genuinely at a loss for words. So I present it without comment.

Link to story.

For the link clicking challenged, or in case the page goes away or some such, here is the story transcribed:

Awareness day too much for fatigue group

Tomorrow is international awareness day but members of Nelson's chronic fatigue support service say they are too tired to arrange any activities.

The illness, which is officially known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME, is characterised by incapacitating fatigue.

ME/CFS Nelson Support Group co-ordinator Anna Loach said though a few posters had been put in some libraries, the illness meant the group was not able to plan anything else to mark the awareness day.

Four of the group's five committee members suffer from the condition.

"They can feel great one day and the next they feel really burnt out."

Despite not having anything organised for tomorrow, Mrs Loach said the group was determined to expand services and support.

"They've really got the drive and they are positive about the cause."

The group has drafted a constitution and is seeking more funding to employ an area co-ordinator to support families in the wider Nelson region.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Another Week

Apathy Jack writes:

One of my girls is sad. I love this kid like she was my daughter, and it cuts me up that I can’t help her. She hasn’t told me what’s wrong, but I figured it out in a couple of seconds, because I know her and I’ve been doing this for a while. However, I can’t tell her, so I’m hamstrung.


Getting a visit from an ex-student, and having to pretend that I don’t know that she had a miscarriage last week.


The constant battle not to scream at my responsible Year 12. She’s turning herself around, really making me proud. I still remember the looks on her parents’ faces when we discussed her improvements. However, I’ve found out she’s going out with a car crash – the only of my ex-students I have relegated to the “not worth the effort” box.

But I can’t yell at her, because, you know, I’m not meant to know...


There are some teachers who go all year without learning their students’ names.

I envy them sometimes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

On Sheep; the Fucking Thereof

Josh writes:

Oh, for Christ's sake -- are the British still going on about it? Have they no originality? If that's their attitude, I'm not even going to bother coming up with an original reply -- here's something I wrote a while ago:

Oh right, the sheep-fucking thing.

Saw an editorial in an Aussie paper last week commenting on New Zealanders taking exception to Waltzing Matilda being sung at rugby games or something. The article suggested that New Zealanders wouldn't be able to understand why the swagman would want to get the jumbuck into his tucker-bag, when with a bit of sweet-talk, it could be coaxed into bed. For fucking. On account of how we New Zealanders all fuck sheep.

It surprises me that people still make sheep-fucking jokes about New Zealanders. No, I'll rephrase that -- it doesn't surprise me at all that people still make sheep-fucking jokes about New Zealanders, not if they still make jokes about Canadians being boring or the French being surrender-monkeys or the Irish/Polish/whoever-lives-in-the-country-next-to-ours being stupid. I guess it's just that since I have long since outgrown this level of humour, I expect the rest of the world to have done so as well. How egocentric of me.

The thing that gets me is the logic that must be behind such accusations of farm animal abuse. I haven't travelled abroad enough to have been called a sheepfucker to my face, but I wish I had, just so I could ask the person why they thought New Zealanders fuck sheep. I can only assume it'd go like this:

"You New Zealanders fuck sheep!"

"Why would you think we fuck sheep?"

"Because your country is full of sheep."


"So you're surrounded by sheep all the time."


"Well if I was surrounded by sheep all the time, I'd certainly... um... never mind."

It seems to me that levelling accusations of Flossy-bothering is a sure sign that the accuser would be out with the velcro gloves the first chance that they got. Which means they're probably just jealous. Sad, really.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

One week

Apathy Jack writes:

“Hey sir, guess what?”
“Get it over with.”
“Tipsy’s living at my house.”
“Oh for fu... Are you trying to kill me?”
“Hey, it was my parents’ idea – they want to help straighten him out.”
“I know that you were helping him get off drugs, but my fear as I’m sure I mentioned at the time was that rather than you pulling him up, he’d pull you down.”
“Hey, we didn’t know the car was stolen.”
“Oh yeah, Tipsy got me and Danielle arrested over the holidays.”


Getting a visit from an ex-student who informs me that another 16 year old former pupil is pregnant. Then, as we’re talking, she gets the text-message that the girl in question has miscarried.

You ever feel like your head is full of cotton wool that’s on fire?


“Ich bin Schnappi, das kleine krokodil.”
“No singing that song in class. Jeez, I tell you – the Germans: First World War One, then World War Two, now this song. That’s like three strikes and you’re out. I mean, I like to give people a couple of chances, but this is too much.”

I say one thing without thinking about it, and the entire class is reduced to paroxysms of laughter for a few minutes. Sure, they’re not the toughest audience, but having my own laugh track helps me pretend I‘m living in Welcome Back Kotter, which is one of my coping mechanisms.


One of my ex-pupils hanging about in my class with her three month old. One student or another expresses disbelief that my constant yelling isn’t phasing the kid, when Mum points out that he heard me a lot last year through her stomach...

Seriously; Cotton wool. On fire.


Kicking a Year 13 out of class. I’ve never had to do that before. Over and above the philosophical objections I have to that sort of thing, the Year 13s are always too mature to have to be dealt with in such a manner.

That having been said, she was about to hit someone with a chair, so I figured I could overcome my philosophical objections just this once. That sort of command decision is why they pay me the big money


“How were your holidays?”
“Really, really good, sir.”
“What’s his name?”
“What do you mean? Can’t I have a good holiday that doesn’t involve someone else? Why do you have to assume it’s about a boy?”
“Look, my time is valuable, are you going to tell me his name?”


A Year 13 doing Level I English for the third time, saying she wished I had been her teacher two years ago, because she would have passed. Because of the new University entry requirements, she might not have enough literacy credits by the end of this year. While she wants to go to Uni, her original plan was foregoing tertiary education in favour of “something, y’know”. She now tells me that she will consider coming back next year, but “only for English.”


Walking into a class which is out of control. I don’t like doing that if I can avoid it, but we have a new teacher. (We have a new teacher every two months or so at last count, and the kids take advantage of that to act like hellions.)

The new teacher is yelling and telling people off, and eventually asks me to intercede with the class.

I walk to the front of the room, and with a couple of hand gestures get all of them back in their seats and absolutely silent.

Sometimes I feel like a teacher, I tell you.


In the space of only a week, things have gone from zero to a hundred again. As ever, there is the very good and the very bad. All the stuff above, and every other little thing that couldn’t be reduced to an anecdote or decontextualized to a soundbite, so stays in my brain. But one thing stands out:

The year 11 kid who works hard for me. Made a couple of really silly mistakes and saw himself in front of the Board. His other teachers (on the assessment sheets we had to fill out on him) had given scathing comments, and he was on the track out.

He was shown the comments I made about him, and was told in no uncertain terms that it was my glowing appraisal and nothing else that convinced the Board to give him a second chance.

He told me this as he handed in a passing assignment.

We’re going to turn this one into a success. We’re going to win this one.

Doesn’t matter about the rest. That’s the victory this week.

The Twelfth and Final New Sermon of the Neo-Catholic Church

That Morthos Stare writes:

The trouble with any future political paradigm is that the future is neither left nor right.

I’ve spent the last eleven sermons bemoaning particular aspects of the ‘Now,’ sometimes with serious intent but more often with nothing more than silliness on the mind. This being the last of the ‘New’ Sermons I feel it is time to lay all my cards on the table, leave the room (possibly the country) and let you mull my hand over before returning to ash my cigar.

The polities/ideologies that we call Left and Right are terms that apply to an age that, whilst not over, is dying. We are looking at the last ditch effort of a paradigm that should be shot dead with extreme prejudice. Leave such fractured beliefs to the wildebeest; they, like it, are simply unable to cope with what the future will look like... [1]

So if Left and Right (and Centre) are dying paradigms what does the future hold. Quite simply, in the future there will be robots.

Oh, you want more? Well...

In the future there will be more than one form of human consciousness, and it will be available in dairies. Future patriotism will be something we apply to brand names, trademarks and celebrity peer groups. Time will be measured in relative lengths and property will extend not just to insubstantials but also to non-existents. People will vote on everything but most people will let computers do that work for them. Cats will be our walking computers and dogs will be your roving medi-systems. Cars will refuse to take you home when you are drunk and working days will be flexible without the threat of overtime. Actors will put themselves in stasis between gigs and musicians will be AI-enhanced with tracks that adapt to the mood you are in. Taxes will be both high and abolished and earning money will be seen as an odd past-time that indicates a high level of sociopathy. Murder will be committed by bi-local entities and religion will be the drug-meme your parents resent.

But, most importantly, in the future there will be robots.

This is Pope Xander Teilhard de Chardin I, MHM, signing off.


1 - For those of you keeping score on your Bingo cards you will be ware that we have entered the ‘Extreme Hubris(TM)’ round; whatever I say about the future is untrue for one of the following three reasons (and we recommend that once I have hit all three you yell out ‘Dreidel’ and reenact ‘No Pants Friday.’)

One - The future has not occurred and thus, consistent with Aristotle, there is no truth to statements about it. Thus anything I say is fiction, even if the fiction ends up being eerily close to what shall obtain.

Two - The ‘future’ might not obtain in that the ‘future’ might well look something akin to the ‘past’ (‘future’ here applying to whatever description I give; given enough pressure or factionalised war-mongering we might revisit feudalism or that exciting hunter-gatherer lark we had going about one million years ago rather than the exciting 1950s utopia the Jetson’s so enjoyed).

Three - The future is so open at this stage that any statement about it will be the equivalent of a fifties science fiction writer describing the world of 2006; no one really got close to the reality of our current day. Thus whilst the likelihood of viral analytic philosophy is high today a change in teaching methodology tomorrow morning might mean that that particular future will never even begin to form. This is a variant on reason one, but it has a free will theodicy thrown in for good measure... The Neo-Catholic Church might not promote the belief of Free Will (in fact, we oppose its very mention in dispatches and quarterly pornographic glossies) but we do like to make use of it from time to time, partially because it keeps the punters happy but mostly because we get paid by the word and ‘Free Will Theodicy’ is not just three additional pence, it is another pound of exposition.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Say You Want An Evolution

Apathy Jack writes:

Alright, just because I've been discussing this issue with a surprising number of people in the last week:


Back in The Day I was a student activist - I organised marches, painted banners and blanketed lecture theatres with pamphlets extolling the virtues of whatever the issue du jour was. I yelled through megaphones, charged police lines and broke into buildings I didn't have any particular business being in.

In terms of what it was like belonging to a group passionately fighting for the betterment of society, I'll defer to Alexei Sayle, who writes about this in his short story Big Headed Cartoon Animals, and puts it far better than I could:

His job was deputy director of a London-based charity called Libertaid which concerned itself with the care and resettlement of victims of torture and imprisonment from all over Latin America. It was a very good cause and like all organisations whose sole purpose was trying to do undiluted good Libertaid was torn with the most violent internal feuds, bitter, poisonous rivalries and corrosive, internecine hatred. Pete sometimes wondered if in organisations devoted solely to the spread of terrible evil: the Waffen SS say, or the Ukrainian Mafia or the Bosch Domestic Appliances Repairs Department, if there wasn't within these groups an atmosphere of mutual loving support within the boundaries of a caring, sharing environment. There was probably nothing one Serb sniper wouldn't do for another Serb sniper, they probably spent a lot of time in the trenches donating sperm and kidneys to each other and letting their wives use their wombs for surrogate children.

There was none of that in Libertaid: it was more than your cojones were worth to ask somebody to pass you a pencil. In Libertaid, amongst others there was the feud between the volunteers and the full time staff and there was the feud between the lesbians with the full cavalry moustaches and the lesbians with lipstick, high heels and the leather micro skirts.

The Left (capitalised because it is used here as nomenclature for a specific group) saw long friendships ended over the difference between Marxism and Leninism. Many of my friends came along to meetings of the activist group I belonged to, wanting to make a difference and help fight for the common student, and left after one meeting when all they saw was us arguing about things they saw as being entirely pointless (which, of course, seemed earth-shatteringly important to us, as anyone who has been involved in politics will understand).

The Right, on the other hand, could be found sitting at the same table in the student bar most nights getting along like a state house on fire. Certainly, most of them hated each other as well, but when it came to the important things, like political campaigns or drinking, they were all on the same page.

And if anyone has noticed that I find it easier to take potshots at the Left than The Right, well, this is because the above-mentioned factionalism spilled over into how a great many of the activists treated me.

Some of my family were members of the Act Party, and I hung out in the aforementioned student bar. This meant that my loyalty to the campaigns of The Left was constantly questioned and I was seen as being untrustworthy by a lot of the people I was volunteering to help.

full-time occupation
Originally uploaded by Brain Stab.

I remember once being part of a commando raid that broke into the Registry building ten minutes before a Left-sanctioned group was scheduled to do so. Our lot got in by removing screws from doors sneaking around and surprising the officer at a relatively unguarded entrance. After this, one of the main Lefties du jour tore strips of me (as a supposed representative of the commando group) for compromising the Left's plan, which had been a month in the making.

To whit: We had spent a month saying to each other "Okay, if we run towards the police line in front of the locked front door, some of us might get through."

Exactly how we ruined that piece of genius was never clearly explained to me. Hell, to this day I remember the cheer that went up when the Left-led march came into sight and the proles saw us leaning out the windows. Given that our objective was to whip up fervor in our favour, it didn't sound like failure to me.

(I've recently been told that such reminiscences make me sound angry at these memories. Honestly, I was angry while it was happening, but that was many years ago. I'm just pointing out that it was what it was.)

However, The Right never questioned my association with The Left. They knew that I disagreed with them on a lot of things, but they also knew that I should be judged on the standard of company I provided, not who my other friends (or even worse, my family) were.

It was this sort of thing that led to the downfall of The Left during my time. When I left Uni, The Right was firmly in charge. (I know that these things go in cycles - or should I say; revolutions. No, you're right, I probably shouldn't...) The Right controlled the Students' Association, and Voluntary Unionism had just been passed (if you don't know what that is, then you're lucky because it's very boring and pointless, but it was a sign of a weak left wing presence).

All of this has led to a lot of good memories - raids, hijackings, midnight television in the Quad, the Army of Darkness in general (and if you have to ask, you'll never know...). But it has also resulted in a lot of bad - being called a traitor because of how my brother voted, watching people lie cheat and steal in the name of fairness, having a large chunks of my idealism beaten out of me when all I wanted to do was help people.


Anyhoo, I haven't been an activist of any stripe for many a year - partly but not entirely because of my efforts and experiences at University.

However, in town last Sunday, I saw a pack of filthy punks of my acquaintance wandering down the road, and I remembered that the May Day march was on. Because activism has been on my mind of late, I went to check it out.

There were about a hundred people gathered, but if I remember my own time in marches, the organisers would clam five times that number to the press.

I didn't recognise many people there - A QPEC bloke that has come and rabble-roused for my school's hideously corrupt chapter of the ppta; one of the Oostermans (I occasionally have difficulty telling them apart, but I imagine it was Simon - recently making court appearances/political statements in red Abu Ghraib-esque prison robes and stark bollock naked respectively); a smattering of tiny little punks that I recognised as frequenters of the punk place down the road from my flat; the granddaughter of the million-year old Worker's Party guy who was around Auckland Uni until he died (if you were there, you know who I mean). The only representation from an actual political party came from the smattering of people somewhat desperately shoveling armloads of Alliance pamphlets into the arms of passersby.

I arrived halfway through a speech by the anti-Metrowater group Water Pressure. This march had been advertised as being about workers' rights, with a sub-theme of defending the right to protest after an anti-war march was violently broken up a while back. I don't remember water being mentioned on the posters, but I do remember the last protest I went to: An anti-GE rally where the speakers passionately argued for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestine, a raise in the minimum wage, and, yes, for people to fight against Metrowater - anything except the issue of genetically engineered crops which had actually gotten ten thousand people mobilised down Queen Street.

Their representative was telling the sad story of a man who couldn't pay his water bill. When he told Metrowater this, they suggested that he, y'know, use less water. What his response to this was seemed a little unclear, but the police had to be called, so now Water Pressure are boycotting the New Zealand justice system.

Maybe it's the capitalist in me, or maybe I'm just more tired of fighting than I realised, but the water company's suggestion seemed pretty logical to me. Sure, I agree that rates are too expensive, but when the pipes rust and need maintenance, I don't envision this pack of megaphone jockeys digging up the roads and fixing them free of charge...

As they set off, I considered marching along with them for old time's sake. But frankly, they were slightly embarrassing. There just weren't that many of them, and most of them were pointedly ignoring any speaker other than the representatives from their own groups - I'm pretty sure less than half of the people gathered even knew that it was International Workers' Day, and fewer than that looked like they had ever actually had jobs. So I decided to carry on my way and indulge in some good, honest capitalism.

Several purchases later, while walking homeward through Meyers Park I saw a few dozen unwashed types sitting on the slope conversing loudly. The presence of a few folded banners and a lounging Oosterman announced this as the remnants of the march.

As I passed, I heard them planning a protest at the local McDonalds. The young woman advocating a detailed plan of action was shouted down by proponents of "Let's just go there and see what happens!"

As I walked away, I heard someone demand that they do something to disrupt the free concert Shihad were playing in a few hours in Aotea Square to kick off New Zealand Music Month.

"Are Shihad a multinational?" Came one dissenting voice.

"Doesn't matter!" Was the curt reply.

Exactly why this doesn't matter will remain a mystery, as I passed out of earshot, the words of Warren Ellis running through my head...

"There's one hole in every revolution, large or small. And it's one word long - People. No matter how big the idea they stand under, people are small and weak and cheap and frightened. It's people that kill every revolution."