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Election ranting, part two [Dec. 8th, 2008|12:31 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |political]

Oh, shut up. A week does so count as "a couple of days" by the standards of this blog.

Right. New Zealand's general election.

I voted for the Greens, who have been steadily increasing their share of the electorate ever since they split off the Alliance—

—Ah, but I forgot. You guys aren't all New Zealanders, you don't know how voting works here or what the parties are.

New Zealand used to have a "First Past the Post" electoral system. You voted for your electorate's MP. Each MP belonged to a political party, but you had no say over the parties, only the MPs. When the votes were all counted, whichever party had got a majority of the MPs in became the Government.

As in the United States to this day, this meant that two parties dominated the scene: in our case, National on the right and Labour on the left. Occasionally a minor party might get a look-in; when I was a kid I remember people talking about something called Social Credit. But they never got more than a seat or two, I don't think. I still don't know what Social Credit was.

In the '70s and '80s, the so-called "left" and "right" got all twisted around. Robert Muldoon's statist National government was replaced in 1984 by David Lange's monetarist Labour government. I was six years old. I remember my mother saying she was going to vote Social Credit because she didn't like David Lange, but she wanted Labour to win.

The Fourth Labour Government is still an object of scorn among New Zealand's lefties. In 1990 the National Party came back, and turned out to be just like the Labour Party only more so. They gutted the welfare system and introduced the Employment Contracts Act, which knocked the teeth out of trade unions.

In particular, benefits for single parents were slashed. They say the first three years of life are the most critical to moral development. New Zealand is currently experiencing a wave of violent crime by people whose first three years of life occurred during the previous National government's tenure.

The '90s were the great era of party splitoffs in New Zealand politics. First Jim Anderton, an old Labour statist, split off with New Labour. Then some of the most monetarist people in the Labour Party split off in the other direction and became ACT (originally this stood for "Association of Consumers and Taxpayers", but I haven't heard that phrase since about 1999). Then Winston Peters split off National and formed the New Zealand First party, which, as its name implies, is mostly about keeping immigrants out. I can't remember which party Peter Dunne came from, but he ended up heading the United party.

The Greens also burst into New Zealand politics at this time; they and New Labour and a few others formed a coalition called the Alliance.

Not coincidentally, the 1990s was also the end of First Past the Post and the beginning of the Mixed Member Proportional system. Now you cast a party vote and an electorate vote. The person who gets the most electorate votes, still gets in to represent their electorate. But there are more seats in Parliament than there are electorates. Each party also has a list of its top 50 or so members. Parliament has 120 seats — generally — so if your party only gets one MP in an electorate seat, but gets 10% of the party vote, the top eleven people on the list (not counting the electorate MP, who's already in) make up the balance. The parties then do coalition deals until some grouping of them forms a stable majority, who then become the government.

This is complicated by the fact that if your party has no electorate MPs, it has to get more than 5% of the party vote or it's ignored when it comes time to allot list MP seats. But if it's under 5% and gets even one electorate seat, it gets its full complement of list MPs.

Oh, look, the rest you can look up in a history book or Wikipedia or something. The crucial bit, for me: the Greens left the Alliance in the late '90s or something, then after one term in Parliament Jim Anderton also split off with a party he calls the Progressives. Jim Anderton's electorate seat is safe until he retires from politics, but the Progressives are nothing without him. The Alliance fell off the map years ago.

New Zealand First is now out of Parliament; it got about 4.4% of the vote, but Winston Peters failed to hold Tauranga. For the first time in my life, Winston Peters is not an MP. I've met a few MPs in my time and most of them seemed to be decent people, out to do good for the country — the big disagreement being what exactly constitutes "good for the country". Not Winston. Winston is a giant popinjay. Well, I say "giant" — he comes about up to my shoulder, if that. He's shorter than Tom Cruise. Basically, he's a Little Angry Man. You know the type.

Since 1996, the first election I voted in, when he promised to get rid of National and then formed a coalition with them, I've been longing for this day. Trust him to get kicked out just when the Left needed him.

Not that I voted for him, then or ever. I voted Alliance in 1996, 1999 and (I think) 2002, but come 2005 they were down and out. The Greens were polling around the 5% mark and had no electorate MPs, so rather than have nobody at all in Parliament representing anything like my ideals, I voted Green; and the same again this time.

Only... in the intervening three years, I'm no longer so certain that the Greens are my second choice.

By invitation I spent election night this year at a party run by the International Socialists. The IS have always supported the Alliance at election time, but this year even they were saying "vote for Labour or the Greens". I've known the IS for a long time through my involvement in student activism. They tend to be angry, earnest, and (in groups) a little over-fond of the sound of their own voices, but hey, I'm hardly in a position to judge.

The point of disagreement...

A few weeks before the election there was a political debate organized by the local students' associations; I remember having, er, animated discussions both with the guy who'd turned up to represent the National Party, and with a guy from a minor group called the Workers' Party who'd turned up to support the Alliance.

With the National guy, Conway Powell, I did what I generally do with politicians, which is keep talking about what works or doesn't work and not letting him get into a spiel. He was a surprisingly pleasant and reasonable person; he agrees with protecting the environment, he said he didn't want to take away welfare support from beneficiaries, and his major concern is that New Zealand is becoming a low-wage economy. I felt like grabbing him by the shoulders and going "Why the hell are you in National?" But the socialist guy...

The socialist guy reckoned Gandhi achieved nothing. Well, I'd agree that Gandhi is not a hero to the lowest castes of Indian society, but achieved nothing...? Not long after touching on Gandhi, I brought up the abolition of slavery. Oh, that's irrelevant, he said, it didn't get rid of capitalism.

The end of slavery was irrelevant because it didn't get rid of capitalism.

That is not a point of view I can have a conversation with.

Look, I do agree with the socialists that workers' rights can only come from a workers' movement. It won't come from a magnanimous gesture by a patronizing ruling class. But a Marxist who dismisses bourgeois conscience entirely as a social force for good has forgotten which class Marx (and Engels, and Lenin) actually came from.

At the election night party the IS had all their publications and badges and things spread out on a table for people to buy as fundraisers. One was a badge reading just "NO WAR". And I heard the main organizer apologizing for this to a fellow socialist; it was a slogan, you couldn't fit a proper solution onto a tiny badge, but he'd seen a good one that said "No War Between Nations, No Peace Between Classes"...

I tactfully kept quiet again.

Socialists talk a lot about not responding to violent crime, or terrorism, or "rogue states", with escalation. It's a systemic problem, they say, look for the cause. And that's exactly what I would say too. But when you get right down to it orthodox Marxism doesn't address systems and social structures, it just shifts the blame — and the target of vengeance — from one group of people to another.

Marx saw that the bourgeois class of his day oppressed the working class. Capitalism, he said, is theft. The value of a product comes from the raw materials plus the labour. To make a profit, you have to pay less for the labour than the value it added to the product. That stolen value goes into the pockets of the capitalists.

So far I largely agree. Oh, good ideas, good designs, count towards the value of the product as well — but designers are labourers too. Come on, how many CEOs personally design the products their companies make? Really? And sure, having a large co-ordinated organization allows for economies of scale, which add more value; but then why not funnel that added value back into the organization, where it came from? Why should it go to CEOs and shareholders?

Oh, because they put up the money. Well, where did that money come from, if not from more capitalist theft?

So far no major disagreements; but here comes one. Capitalism, says Marx, is all about the owning class — a collective of people, comprising (in his day) big tycoons and company owners — stealing value from the working class. The distinction between the classes is the root cause of all the trouble; the structure of the corporation is just a tool the owning class use for their purposes.

That may well have been how it all started, and I certainly wouldn't deny the problems caused by large income gaps; but I do not, I cannot, agree that a managerial "class" is knowingly and willingly using the corporate structure to cling to power. I've met managers and employers too. They're not power-hungry bastards, and they certainly don't have what we lefties call "class consciousness". Sure, they'll look after their own interests, but they don't look after each other's interests. It is a fact, a fact which cannot be explained by orthodox Marxist analysis, but a fact nonetheless, that middle-class and higher people themselves are starting to take a critical look at the corporations. Cynically, I suppose you could say they're starting to realize that if they fuck up the environment they'll have nothing to spend their money on.

A quick note; some of you may not be from socialist backgrounds, so I should explain about now that the society socialists actually want looks nothing like Soviet Russia or Maoist China. Rather, it looks very like what the open-source people and the commons movement want — reduced (or no) government, no big executives, workers doing work in non-hierarchical networks of open project teams.

Open-source, and the commons movement? Those aren't things you associate with Marx and Lenin and Ché Guevara. They're white-collar people. I'd never have believed it, but some of those who come closest to articulating the original socialist ideal are actually libertarians.

At university, you see, all the libertarians you met — especially if you were a leftie like me — were Randites; people who don't like democracy because they think the majority are too dumb to be trusted with a vote, and who are they to impose their wishes on we the élite anyway? I was rude enough last year to assert, in an opinion piece for Gyro, that all libertarians were like that. Since then I have encountered a few non-Randite libertarians — people like Matt Ridley, David Brin, or Paul Graham — who don't like government because they think people are perfectly capable of sorting things out for themselves. Unlike Randites, I imagine I could have a constructive conversation with that kind of libertarian. I'm sure we'd still disagree on some points, like the place of the profit motive, but we could have a constructive conversation.

And I'm convinced that Marx's emphasis on class identity rather than mechanism is the root cause of the failure of socialism to deliver that world. Because the ruling class will always protect their own power as a class, there can be no alliances with individual businesspeople. The class distinction must be smashed first, before any benefits of the classless society can be realized. There can be no peaceful path from here to there. There must be a revolution, and it must be a violent, armed revolution.

Now Marx had the example of the French Revolution and the English Civil War in front of him. You'd think he could have looked very carefully at Napoleon and Oliver Cromwell. You'd think he could have realized: if you sweep away one system by violence, your new system will rule by violence.

That's how it works, you see. You don't storm the Bastille one day and settle down to enjoy the new utopia the next. There will be remnants of the old régime, and they will fight back, because they know they've got nowhere to go in your new system. So you've got to keep fighting. And then more will pop up, and you've got to fight them too. And more, and you've got to fight them. And there will never be a clear line dividing "remnants of the old régime" from "legitimate critics and dissenters". You end up wiping out all critics and dissenters, and what you have then is a dictatorship. Plain and simple.

(The American Revolution, and the various independence movements and anti-colonial wars of the twentieth century, were different for one simple reason: their ruling classes were based elsewhere. Beyond a certain point it was no longer worth their while keeping on fighting; they simply withdrew.)

But no. Apparently Marx really believed that eliminating existing class distinctions would be enough to prevent revolutions from becoming tyrannies, to prevent new class distinctions from arising. How could the working class oppress itself?

History's answer is: "Very easily."

The fact is, in any system, you'll have people with alternative ideas trying to do things a different way. Now, if your new system's only defence against capitalism is violence, that means it will always have to use violence whenever capitalist-like ideas arise. If any new system is to supersede capitalism and end up peaceful and free, it must push capitalism aside without the use of armed force.

That's why, these days, I'm finding myself swinging more green than red.

OK, that's enough for now. Don't know if I'll blog again before Christmas, but if I do, I think I'll spend a bit of time talking about my ideas of an alternative sociopolitical system and how we might get there.

Oh, and Gregor and I are back as Gyro editors again next year.

EDIT: Heh. Whoops. Forgot to say — the National Party are now New Zealand's government.
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Post-election ranting, part one [Dec. 1st, 2008|12:50 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |belatedly political]

My IT papers for this semester are all finished. Haven't had my results back yet, though. Gyro is all wrapped up for the year too. They've re-advertised the position; I was interviewed on Friday — and, again, haven't heard back yet.

Apparently you guys over in the States had an election or something. Well, go figure — so did we. For the last nine years New Zealand has had a centre-left[-ish] government while Australia and the US were centre[-ish]-right... well, now it's the other way about.

(Gods, I'm a slack blogger. With both elections over I no longer have any excuse for this userpic. I did mean to post something political before November. Never got the time, what with assignments and tests and Gyro issues.)

OK. American election first. What happened there, and what does it mean?

Presumably, those of you who are Americans presumably know better than I do just what Obama stands for and what he's up to. What I've heard over here is that he opposes the Iraq War, wants a better health system than the private-insurance-company one you've got, and has answers for the economic downturn. And isn't George Bush or anyone like him.

I must admit, I had my doubts. Over here in New Zealand, we can get a general idea of who's going to win an American election: it's the one who gets talked about more beforehand. Now to start with, it was going to be whoever won out of Obama and Clinton, and after that it was going to be Obama... and then, for a good solid month, it was going to be Sarah Palin.

I don't blame McCain for picking Palin. He must have seen gods know how many American elections, so he'd have known he needed someone who'd steal the limelight away from The First Ever Black United States President. He also must have heard about James Dobson's Focus on the Family broadcast telling the American Religious Right not to vote for a president who wasn't hard-line anti-abortion; given the influence the Religious Right has had in the last thirty years, I don't blame him for trying to get back on side with them by choosing a small-town Pentecostal for high office. Especially after he beat out a couple of deeply religious rivals for the Republican nomination. That must have rankled.

We all freaked out about someone as ignorant as Palin getting so close to the Leadership Of The Free World, and I guess enough Americans freaked out that McCain's gamble didn't pay off. But truthfully, I don't think she'd have been Vice President for long; he'd have found some excuse to ditch her and put in someone sensible once she'd served her tactical purpose.

Perhaps.

I'm still not at all sanguine about the United States' future. Peak Oil is still an ominous shadow on the horizon, and I can't help thinking the Wall Street crash is a sign of things to come. Yes, I know the proximate cause was people defaulting on mortgages they couldn't afford. And maybe there's nothing more to it than that; maybe credit and mortgage debt just pushed the economy past some kind of tipping point and that's all it was. But I can't help thinking — it's got to be harder to pay off a mortgage, or a credit card, when the cost of living is rising. And the cost of living is tied to the cost of fuels, and the cost of fuels is tied to the availability of easily extractable crude oil. "Easily extractable" is a crucial part of that sentence; it's not about how much energy you can pull out of the ground, it's about the energy you pull out of the ground minus the energy you had to put in to get it. To those muttering darkly about oil shales and Pacific oil reserves and oil companies conspiring to keep the price up — forget it.

But of course Palin and her ilk have an entirely different explanation for economic crashes and natural disasters and war, one they haven't been shy about using in the last decade: God is punishing America for being soft on abortion and homosexuality. There's been a bit of a backlash against them in the last couple of years, but if the economy continues to falter — and, barring some very quick and radical action, it will — they'll be back. In the easy times, more moderate Christians could turn and say to them "God doesn't do that." Eh, well — look up your Old Testament. God does do that. A lot.

Their solution, presumably, will be a return to the Puritan values of (their mythologized version of) the early United States. This will not help. Shutting down sex education — which they've already done — and closing abortion clinics — their avowed goal — will result in a baby boom, in an economy where the government long since gave up the responsibility for health-care and the private sector can no longer afford it. Child mortality will leap, as will demand for foodstuffs and medicines and other basic necessities. Another economic crash.

From which they will conclude that God is still angry and they still have enemies to drive out. They will turn — if they haven't already — to attacking atheists and other non-Christians. Since religion correlates negatively with education this will create a rapid brain-drain. The US will lack the expertise to solve its problems with technology; with a depressed economy and a hostile religious regime, it will not attract foreign expertise either. The situation will worsen.

Guess where the Religious Right will go with that? Gosh, whoops, we were wrong to kick out those evil evolutionist scientists? Oh dear, we should have taught our kids how to have sex without having babies? Not on your nadgers. What we have here is a classic positive feedback loop.

Here's another example of a positive feedback loop: you touch a flame to paper, and it gets hot enough to start oxidizing. The oxidizing reaction generates lots of heat, which raises the temperature of the surrounding paper so that it too starts oxidizing... and so on. (Or is that a chain reaction? Very similar principle, anyway.) In my Pentecostal days we used to talk about "setting the world on fire for God". It may yet happen.

How far can a positive feedback loop go? It keeps going until it has exhausted its fuel, until there is nothing left to burn or collapse. We are talking a new Fascism here, not "fascism" in scare quotes but the real deal, and one that may well even dwarf the fascisms of the twentieth century. None of them had nukes.

Can Obama turn all that aside? I don't know. I think he can delay it. If he can shore up the economic crisis, revitalize American education, reduce the income gap (as well as being tumours on the economy, income gaps correlate strongly with religion), and fix the healthcare problem, all without pissing people off enough to get rid of him, then there's a chance America will survive a few years longer. Those years will of course be for nought if they're not spent finding a viable, renewable alternative to oil and setting up an economic system that allows growth in unprosperous times but tails off that growth before it overshoots resource limits. But both those goals are achievable if the US doesn't collapse first.

Damn it, I was going to do both elections in one post, but it's getting a bit late now. I hereby promise that I will blog again in another couple of days.
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What would you like this blog to be? [Aug. 26th, 2008|02:19 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |a bit washed out]

I haven't blogged for ages, and the main reason I haven't blogged for ages is the main thing I should be blogging about. Namely, I'm now studying Information Technology at Otago Polytechnic.

I've started in Semester 2, studying for a Graduate Diploma, which involves a combination of Year 1 and Year 2 papers at this point. Three papers at the moment. I'm loving Hypermedia, finding Software Development easy, and... well, we won't talk about Software Engineering, because it so far rather breaks OP's promise of doing everything hands-on.

You'd think with all-day access to computers I'd have some time for LiveJournal, but the OP servers don't seem to like my Friends page for some reason.

Baxter doesn't think enough people come and look at the Gyro website. So come and look at the Gyro website, everybody. This month's theme is the Seven Deadly Sins.

Why IT? Well, two main reasons. One, although it does mean my student debt going up again, I may come out at the end in a position to start getting it down good and fast.

Two, I've become a Paul Graham fan. Go read his stuff too. Not to say I agree with everything, mind, I'd have some things to say about his views on unions or the income gap, but I like his systems approach to society and I'm inspired by his view of IT as a creative profession.

I want to resurrect this blog, but I need encouragement and inspiration. It can't go on just being random thoughts, because those don't last long enough to still be around when I get the chance to update. So — for purely inspiratory purposes — I'm asking you, my readers: what would you like to see? What would this blog need to have to make you go "Oo, goody, nakedcelt's updated again!"?
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Questions, questions... [Jun. 8th, 2008|07:37 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |memetic]

Ask me a question about EACH of the following:
  • Friends
  • Sex
  • Music
  • Religion
  • Love
  • Livejournal
Then post this in your journal and see what questions you get asked!
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(no subject) [Jun. 2nd, 2008|05:42 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |argumentative]

Hey, look at that! Firefox didn't crash!

I guess I can get back into blogging, then.

Having dinner with samnanna and cannopener and got into a small debate. cannopener called me on where morality comes from, exactly.

Well, I'm still thinking about that. But I want to quickly point out one wrong answer.

cannopener stated, as one moral precept, that there is never a justifiable reason for killing a person. Where did this idea come from? More specifically, where did it not come from?

James 1:13–14 says "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." Assuming the Bible is true, therefore, nothing God tells anyone to do is evil.

Now go look up:
Genesis 9:5–6
Exodus 19:12
Exodus 21:12–17
Exodus 21:29
Exodus 22:19–20
Exodus 31:14–15
Exodus 32:27–28
Exodus 35:2
Leviticus 20:10–16
Leviticus 21:9
Numbers 1:48–51
Numbers 15:32–36
Numbers 25:1–5
Numbers 25:16–18
Numbers 31:1–20
Numbers 35:16–21
Numbers 35:30–33
Deuteronomy 7:1–5
Deuteronomy 13 (all of it)
Deuteronomy 17:2–7
Deuteronomy 17:12–13
Deuteronomy 20:16–18
Deuteronomy 21:18–21
Deuteronomy 22:20–25
Deuteronomy 25:17–19
Joshua 7:15
Joshua 11:6
Joshua 11:20
Judges 6:15–16
Judges 20:23
I Samuel 15:2–3
In all these passages and more, God tells people to kill other people. Therefore, the idea that it is never justifiable to kill a person directly contradicts the Bible.

Your ball, cannopener; why do you believe it is never justifiable to kill a person?
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Not much of an update [Mar. 22nd, 2008|12:29 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |fallen off the blog-train]

Not only does Firefox crash on the Update Journal page of LJ; I've also recently discovered that my e-mail isn't sending. This is why some people haven't heard from me.

By "my e-mail" I mean of course my Hotmail account. My Gyro e-mail is working fine. My Slingshot e-mail is working fine. My Hotmail account is receiving fine, but not sending. Which means I have to use Slingshot, which is a pain, because (a) I've got my Slingshot e-mail set to redirect all incoming mail to Hotmail and (b) I decided, when I started using my Slingshot account for e-mail, that I wouldn't ever put the address on the Web. Damn shame, I've had some nicely ironic Nigerian scam letters lately that I'd been hoping to scambait (i.e., lead the scammers up the garden path); but I can't use Hotmail to do that and I don't want to use Slingshot.

Not entirely unconnectedly — I may soon finally cave and get a cell-phone. I've never had a philosophical objection to the things, it just always seemed like my life would be more complicated with one than without. Now it's looking like it's going to be more complicated without one. Damnit.

Because Easter came so early this year, I've been flat out on Gyro lately (the second edition for 2008 is already on the web), and that, combined with my communicative isolation, has meant I've been out of touch with people. I've got pelliondance a birthday present, but haven't managed to see him and give it to him, and it's nearly a week now since his birthday.

Speaking of Easter, here"s a handy Excel spreadsheet to figure out when it is in any yearCollapse ).

Seriously, I need to find some way of blogging that won't crash my browser. I still haven't ruled out getting off LJ altogether.
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Footprints [Feb. 17th, 2008|02:23 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |highly amused]



Just because I disagree with an awful lot about Christianity doesn't mean it's utterly crappy in every way. Footprints, on the other hand...

In case you haven't encountered Footprints before, this is the original ending:
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
The LORD replied:
"My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
Awww.

Bleaagh.

The first thing that stands out about this is the cloying saccharine sentimentality. The second thing, and the thing that bothers me far more, is: what does it actually mean?

To be fair, let's compare it with another expression of much the same sentiment: The Loom of Time.
Man's life is laid in the loom of time
To a pattern he does not see,
While the weavers work and the shuttles fly
Till the dawn of eternity...

Not till each loom is silent,
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God reveal the pattern
And explain the reason why

The dark threads were as needful
In the weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
For the pattern which He planned.
Similarly saccharine, but, unlike Footprints, it's a coherent metaphor. God knows why trouble has to be, we don't, he'll tell us when it's all over. One could (and I do) query why anything would be "needful" to an omnipotent God, or why an all-loving God would want his pattern to include the "dark threads" of pain, suffering, and evil — or, for that matter, why he couldn't or wouldn't arrange matters so's we could see the pattern too. Those quibbles aside, the point is you can figure out what the metaphor means in plain language. But what does Footprints mean?

OK, so this guy's walking along with God, right, I get that. Metaphor for life (if you happen to be a Christian). So it seems, at the darkest times of life, like God isn't there. I get that.

So it turns out that the real reason why it seems like God isn't there is because he's doing all the work for us at those times. And, um, the reason why God doing all the work would seem like God not being there is because, well, er, because...

...because...

...because you wouldn't have a sweet "Awww" moment after reading Footprints otherwise. Seriously, what the hell does it mean?

At the darkest times of our lives, does God take over, over-ride our free will and vicariously experience our suffering instead of us? That can't be right. But if not, then in what sense does God "carry" us?

Look, I can see how it would be comforting to have a holding hand during bad times. But then God should be walking alongside, there should still be two sets of footprints, and it shouldn't seem like God ain't there.

I don't get it. And, in this particular case, I think it's because there's nothing to get. "I carried you" makes sense only in terms of the beach image; try and translate it into literal or practical ideas about life and it's meaningless. Mary Stevenson hasn't presented the world with a clever theological parable. She's presented it with a piece of sentimental crap.

Oh, and the latest Gyro is now online.
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Couldn't let the end of the year slip past without comment, now could I? [Dec. 30th, 2007|05:34 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |guilty about the long delay]

Three months, this time. That's got to be a record.

The weeks go by and, even though I don't have much to do most of the day, I don't seem to have time to sit down and blog. Certainly not time to sit down with IE, which is necessary to blog on LJ because the "Post an Entry" page crashes Firefox on my computer. Between that and LJ's increasing censoriousness — the breastfeeding icons thing was just the beginning — I'm seriously contemplating moving to another blogging site altogether.

I did some exam supervision again in November; the first time I've done it without pelliondance being there at all, as he was off visiting long-lost relatives in the North Island. And also the first time I've had to deal with an emergency situation; somebody set off a burglar alarm, it turned out, rather than a fire alarm, but it was a very loud alarm and the students could hardly be expected to work with it going, so I had them stand around outside the gym (that being the exam venue) and NOT DISCUSS THE EXAM while we waited for someone to turn it off.

Exam supervision is a thought-provoking job, sometimes. You are basically there to make sure everybody obeys the rules, and boy oh boy are there a lot of rules. They change them slightly every year, as students in various parts of the country find new ways to sneak information into the exam or communicate with each other or disrupt the proceedings. Because, of course, the whole point of an exam is to have every student of that subject in the country facing exactly the same questions and exactly the same conditions at the same time, so that their marks are a fair comparison of their grasp of the subject. So you can't have some rules for some places where these cheating situations have arisen, and other rules for other places where they haven't arisen. Many regulations really only make a difference in a few places, but everybody in the country has to obey every single one regardless.

There's a writer in New Zealand called Joe Bennett, who does humour pieces mostly about (a) dogs or (b) how people worry too much. He's recently finished a new book, and was doing a signing tour promoting it. I went to listen in, and it was very entertaining. His main take-home message: our society's endless insistence on safer and safer food, plumbing, dog breeds, etc., mask needless fears which are twisting us all up inside and ruining our freedom to enjoy ourselves. An example: a toilet in a hotel, I think it was, with a little notice saying "This toilet has been thoroughly sanitized to provide a safe environment." "Safe?!" says Bennett. "Are lavatories usually dangerous?... I've never been attacked by a lavatory!" ...and so on.

Got me thinking, anyway. Usually, this sort of thing is put down to Political Correctness Gone Mad, which is a kind of rant I don't have much time for because Political Correctness Gone Mad also seems to mean things like the fact that you're not allowed to pretend people with mental disabilities don't exist any more, or the fictitious War On Christmas. (Recently a group of British Muslim representatives made a public statement to say it doesn't offend them at all if Christians want to celebrate Christmas; only silly secular liberals worry about that. Only... secular liberals don't want to ban Christmas either. It seems all the stories about Christmas being taboo come from Christians of a certain stripe trying to make themselves out to be persecuted. Having been one myself once, I do understand how a staff memo saying "let's not assume all our customers/pupils will be celebrating Christian holidays" mutates in certain brains to "They're trying to ban public mention of Christ! The Apocalypse is on its way!" ...But I digress.) I don't think "Political Correctness" has much to do with it. No, the modern preoccupation with safety is just like the exam rules; the reason why there's so much of it is because everybody, everywhere, has to live by the same rules, and that means everybody gets all the rules. At every public barbecue in the country, the food servers must wear gloves to handle food. Nobody anywhere in New Zealand shares bottles any more, even in places untouched by the meningitis outbreak a year or two ago.

What's the root of the problem? Not the "Nanny State" — if you're going to have a state, it's better to have one that cares about its citizens than one that doesn't. But maybe that's the point. Not the Nanny State, but the State per se. Not the concern for safety, but the concern for standardization. Dare I suggest, the solution might be to decentralize? Oh, as far as fundamental human rights go, those should be universal: the right to live, the right to feel safe, the right to say what you think, those should be enshrined in national, indeed international, law. But maybe, just maybe, "One Law For All" should be confined to such fundamentals, and safety standards and resource management should become responsive to local conditions.

You know why they won't be. Because that would mean devolving power from central government to local communities, and somehow people who've got power, even the well-meaning ones, never seem to want to let it go. Maybe especially the well-meaning ones, if they think they're the only ones who can be trusted with it.

Anyway. Having got that into the ether, I shall get off the computer. Because, while I was writing it on IE, Firefox crashed.
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Back again [Sep. 26th, 2007|03:21 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |not great]

Yes, I'm alive.

I haven't blogged for a couple of months, mainly because the Update Journal page is still causing Firefox to crash. (I'm in an Internet booth in town at the moment for reasons that will become clear.) It doesn't happen on other computers, but no other page causes it to happen on my computer, either. I don't know what's going on there.

Mind you, I seem to be better at blogging than any of my fellow family members. Quite a bit has happened in my family lately, which pelliondance and cannopener, respectively, should have been the first to tell you about... but I think their silence is due to the fact that they've stopped bothering with LJ altogether, rather than they want it private.

pelliondance's birth mother contacted him recently. So now I have six grandparents instead of four, with three of them still living instead of two. pelliondance's genetic father ("birth father" sounds wrong somehow) seems to have come from all sorts of places. He had, for instance, an African American grandmother. I've never even met an African American person — Americans who come to New Zealand are invariably white. Well, unless you count the time a couple of basketball players who were visiting for some tournament or something came and spoke to our school assembly, due to the fact that the PE teacher at my high school was also a national-level basketball coach. Which I wouldn't.

cannopener's news... I'm going to have a third nephew, or possibly a niece, in a few months. I rank them in that order of probability, because sambarham had brothers but no sisters and currently has sons but no daughters, which may possibly indicate an aggressive Y-chromosome.

I'm in town, rather than at home, because I've been doing an adult literacy tutor training course this week. It's pretty full-on timewise, going from 9am to late afternoon. Although, actually, the times are fairly flexible. It all seemed pretty woolly on the first day, but that could have been because my brain was melting. The second day, I thought it was great; to start off with, you learn about the causes of literacy difficulties in New Zealand, which was mostly stuff I'd learned before or could fake my way through, having done cultural anthropology and Te Reo Māori at university.

Today, it was going great again... and then somebody happened to mention Asperger's Syndrome. Did you know people with Asperger's Syndrome can't understand metaphors?

See, this person tutors people in computing at Polytech. Including someone with Asperger's. And "when I told him not to worry," she said, "he got upset and said 'Don't tell me not to worry!' He didn't understand it was just a saying."

No, I put in, more likely he said that because the things that you can put on one side are things that trip him up — he can't keep going until he understands them. But by then somebody else had already started saying that you couldn't use the phrase "laughing their head off" to a person with Asperger's because they would think you meant they were literally decapitated.

They were being so bright and positive about it all, that was what really got me. Next thing you know our instructor went and fetched a copy of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is all about a person with Asperger's and "it's a really lovely book. Really lovely."

Well, no. No, it isn't. OK, I'm well aware that many Aspies are more... impaired, I think, is the best word, than I am. It's possible some of us really do have the same limited grasp of language, especially figurative and metaphorical language, that the kid in the book has. Personally, when I read it, I never thought it was meant to be about people like me, I thought he was somewhere else on the autistic spectrum. But no, it seems neurotypicals — friendly, liberal neurotypicals who want to be un-prejudiced about mental disability — are picking up The Curious Incident and thinking that the total literalness and lack of empathy in that kid's life, as imagined by a person who doesn't have Asperger's, are what Asperger's is all about.

I had been about to tell them all that I had Asperger's, but I couldn't, after that. I felt embarrassed, humiliated, patronized. I just couldn't face looking at someone and know they were looking back at me and thinking The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I tried to drop hints — talking about Asperger's people using the pronoun "we", when they'd been saying "they" — but they didn't pick up on it and I couldn't say it straight out. I thought we were the ones who were supposed to be bad at hints!

I didn't say another word for the remaining half hour or so that we were there. I couldn't. It wasn't quite as bad as two years ago when my WINZ case worker told me I couldn't get the unemployment benefit any more, but there was the same sort of... locked-upness somewhere in my throat, not stopping me breathing but stopping me talking. That doesn't convey what it feels like particularly well at all, but the effect is, I just couldn't speak. I couldn't protest. I couldn't tell them they were wrong. I couldn't ask them not to categorize me like that. They didn't even know they were categorizing me like that, because I hadn't managed to tell them I had Asperger's.

I have to keep going back there for another week and a half. I can't not deal with this, but I don't know what to do.
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Dead Reckoning [Jul. 21st, 2007|01:54 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |fanfictional]

I have a confession to make.

Some of you know this already; others will find it freaky and weird. The confession is this: I have written Harry Potter fanfiction.

I wrote a few stories after Order of the Phoenix was released. Some people liked them. Most of them I don't really think very much of myself. I think there's a few of them still around, but I don't go back to them. I was quite getting into it, and then Half-Blood Prince came out, and blew the story ideas I was working on out of the water, and between one thing and another I never went back.

But there was one story I wanted to write but hadn't written. And I wanted to write it before I read Deathly Hallows, which I probably won't for a few days because I can't afford new books right now. I only even got one book at the annual Regent Booksale last night, and that cost me 50c.

Anyway, here's the story. And if you thought Harry Potter fanfiction was a freaky and weird idea, I dread what you'll think of Harry Potter/Discworld crossovers. For such it is.

Dead ReckoningCollapse )
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The Changing Zeitgeist: a hypothesis [Jun. 30th, 2007|12:24 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |scholarly]

I haven't blogged for another month again. I should really do something about that. Somehow things get less interesting as days go by and I end up not mentioning them at all; and the troubles my computer's been having don't help.

Well, if it's going to be one post a month, I'd better make 'em count. Here's a deep sociocultural insight I had recently.
In any society there exists a somewhat mysterious consensus, which changes over the decades, and for which it is not pretentious to use the German loan-word Zeitgeist (spirit of the times)... This spread of dates through the twentieth century is a gauge of the shifting Zeitgeist. Another is our attitude to race. In the early part of the twentieth century, almost everybody in Britain (and many other countries too) would be judged racist by today's standards. Most white people believed that black people (in which category they would have lumped the very diverse Africans with unrelated groups from India, Australia and Melanesia) were inferior to white people in almost all respects except — patronizingly — sense of rhythm...
— Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Dawkins goes on for several pages, detailing the changes in society's attitudes towards gender, race, and the environment. Finally, he asks: why is the Zeitgeist so consistent across so many people, and why is it drifting in one relatively consistent direction? The first question he has a reasonable answer for:
It spreads itself from mind to mind through conversations in bars and at dinner parties, through books and book reviews, through newspapers and broadcasting, and nowadays through the Internet. Changes in the moral climate are signalled in editorials, on radio talk shows, in political speeches, in the patter of stand-up comedians and the scripts of soap operas, in the votes of parliaments making laws and the decisions of judges interpreting them.
But the second question, as Dawkins frankly admits, remains a puzzle. Why is the whole of society drifting away from racism and sexism? Certainly, one can cite influential leaders and movements, decisive victories for liberal ideals throughout the last century — actually, make that two centuries or more; we mustn't forget the nineteenth-century struggle against slavery, for instance. But unless you've been living your whole life in a cave, you can also think of some powerful pro-racist, anti-liberal leaders and movements during the same time. Why does history favour the one and not the other? Roughly equal numbers of people at any time seem to be more liberal or less liberal than the general consensus. Religious answers don't help; religions can be found pitching in on both sides. I have a hypothesis.

Think of a loose screw. The more it rattles, the looser it becomes. Rattling means the screw is subject to small forces from random, and randomly changing, directions. Being random, there will on average be just as much force pushing the screw in the tightening direction as in the loosening direction. But, of course, it takes more force to tighten a screw than to loosen it. Though the tightening forces in the rattling are equal to the loosening forces, they achieve less. Over time, therefore, the screw will loosen more than it tightens, until eventually it comes away entirely. This principle, you'll note, is crucial to evolution. It can also apply in society.

In any group of people, deviations from the behavioural norm are penalized. As a general rule, the greater the deviation, the more severe (and overt) the penalty, working up from subtle disapproving tones through mockery and exclusion from social activities up to outright punishment. However, such penalties are not doled out purely symmetrically. Most people would rather be treated too kindly than too cruelly. Therefore, penalties for over-cruel behaviour — or over-cruel attitudes — tend to be slightly heavier than penalties for equally over-kind behaviour and attitudes. People who are too cruel for the group are shunned, while people who are too kind are merely laughed at. Hence, as with the loose screw, movements favouring kinder attitudes are not balanced out by movements favouring crueller attitudes, and, over time, society moves in the direction of kindness.

I don't know how you'd go about testing a hypothesis like this. But we can make tentative predictions from it, and these seem to be at least partly borne out. People who regularly find themselves in dangerous situations (say, soldiers or miners) have more to lose, should they be over-tolerant of foolish behaviour, than most of us do. Therefore, the gradient will be shallower in their case, and they will tend, on average, to lag behind the broader cultural consensus. People who believe in nasty supernatural punishments for failing to uphold particular norms (say, the norm of heterosexuality) at least believe they have more to lose should they be over-tolerant, and they, too, will lag behind. I don't have quantitative data for either of these predictions, but both seem to fit the general pattern of real-life experience.

However, there is one component of the shifting Zeitgeist that seems to go clean against the loose-screw principle: I mean the growing acceptance of more and more "sexually explicit" behaviour — particularly in the matter of dress, and of allowed topics of conversation. ("Sexually explicit" in quotes, because as such things become accepted, they cease to be unambiguous sex signals.) If someone says or does something that is too sexually "forward", they can be penalized right then and there, whereas it's hard to catch someone in the act of not mentioning sex. Over time, then, we should predict that sex will gradually disappear from public discourse. And if you apply that prediction to the period lasting from, say, Shakespeare's time to the Victorian era, you'll once again find it more or less borne out. But in the last hundred years the opposite has been the case. One can think of particular people who helped to bring sex back into the general consciousness; Freud, Kinsey, and Hite spring to mind. But in theory, their attitudes should have been overtaken by a general trend towards more and more prudishness. It hasn't happened. Why not? Here, I have no insights. I turn the question over to the reader.
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Memetics [May. 20th, 2007|12:42 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |memetic]

Haven't done a meme for quite a while.

Actually, strictly speaking, any information passed on from one person to another without significant alteration on the way is a meme. But in the LJ sense of "something passed on for the sake of passing it on", I haven't done a meme for quite a while. Most of them are stupid. Here's one I liked.
Ask me a question; any question. As private as you like, as weird as you like, as embarrassing as you like. I will answer truthfully any and all questions posted in response to this. I'll screen comments: No-one else will see what you asked. But there's a catch.... You have to answer the same question yourself in your comment. If you don't, or if you pick a question that's embarrassing for me and trivial for you, I won't answer.
Go on then, ask away...
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Whoops. [May. 16th, 2007|04:25 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |embarrassed]

Today I discovered the crucial difference between overhead-projector acetate and clear plastic file covers: the former does not melt when passed through a photocopier.
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Yes, I'm still alive [May. 15th, 2007|05:40 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |still alive]

Eeek! More than a month since my last update!

What's been happening?

Well, Gyro #3 is online with a new website, for a start. And there's been the Selwyn Battle, and one or two people's birthdays. I did try to update a day or two ago but the Update Journal page is crashing Firefox again. I'm using IE for this.

So my life has been steady and not particularly newsworthy. Should I maybe do some movie reviews? I've seen The Reaping, We Feed the World, and The Host since I last posted.
  • The Reaping is better than some reviews would have you believe, the moral/religious/political views expressed in it notwithstanding; but it's not great. It's more difficult than some film-makers evidently realize to switch from a suspense-y oh-shit-what's-going-to-happen-next horror/thriller dynamic to an effects-y explosive payoff without all the tension going thbrblllllllft like a deflating balloon. The Reaping doesn't manage it — but it does build up the tension enough to begin with that that's a genuine disappointment.
  • We Feed the World is a Film Festival documentary about food. Mostly fairly forgettable and old-hat, after you've seen things like The Corporation, say... until it gets to the bit about the chickens. I am never, ever again buying chicken or eggs without checking first that they're free-range or at least barn-raised. Let's just say that the pie-making machine in Chicken Run is an understatement rather than an exaggeration.
  • The Host is a monster movie, but quite possibly the best one you will ever see. The monster itself is oddly believable despite being utterly bizarre, while the dysfunctional working-class Korean family of protagonists are thoroughly engaging and apparently totally original — OK, I don't watch enough Korean movies to tell, but certainly totally un-Hollywood. Surprisingly, even the villains, very minor characters, added to the quirkiness of the whole thing. It's not surprising to see American military officials as baddies, but normally villains make the protagonists' lives difficult in the pursuit of profit or to try and cover up military secrets... not for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Yet, somehow, as I say, it all works.
Meanwhile, in the real world, David Bain has been released from prison, the charges against him quashed. For non-Kiwis, David Bain was convicted in 1995 of the murder of his parents and all three siblings; it's now been ruled that the jury were not told some things that could have crucially affected the verdict. The New Zealand media is buzzing over this. I knew a lot of people in the late '90s who had known David Bain and insisted that there was no way he could have killed his family, that it must have been a murder-suicide by his father when he was out of the house (the alternative hypothesis). I've seen a documentary which came fairly solidly to the conclusion that David was responsible. As I recall both hypotheses left a few odds and ends unexplained. I'm none the wiser.

Can't help noticing the Virginia Tech shootings have already disappeared from the blogosphere...
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Two movies [Apr. 10th, 2007|04:12 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |bi-filmic]

Lately I've seen a couple of films that I really should review here... and it'd be hard to imagine two more different movies. Well, all right, they're both basically fantasies set during historical wars. And they've both got some pretty graphic violence. But apart from that...

Pan"s Labyrinth: a dark and sophisticated modern fairy-taleCollapse )

300: jingoistic libertarian claptrapCollapse )
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This post is certified content-free [Apr. 5th, 2007|09:52 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |not dead]

Some day, I swear, I'll get round to posting real content again. For now, something to let you know I'm not dead.

Had a fun battle on April Fools' Day, out at Waitati, Highlander(s) and Lindskiis vs. the local Pirates. Along with the traditional flour-bombs and newspaper swords, Gregor introduced the ripe plum as a fearsome projectile weapon. The Pirates meanwhile flung water-bombs, some filled with very realistic-looking red dye. Late in the battle it began to rain. Rain-water and flour... guess what that makes your hair like.

I've decided not to go to the Waipara Folk Festival this year. With the way petrol's going, it's getting absurdly expensive to get there; and on top of that the entry fee is higher than it is for Whare Flat, which is a much bigger and more interesting festival.

Gyro work continues apace. We're not putting out an edition for April, but the Workers' Issue is being published on the 30th (in time for May Day, of course).
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Let's try again... [Mar. 23rd, 2007|12:02 am]
the Naked Celt
[mood |slightly annoyed]

Something is wrong with Firefox on my computer. Recently it told me, out of the blue, that my default identity was already in use, or something, so I've had to go and reload all my bookmarks. Now there are quite a lot of image files it won't load all the way down, and also — and this is one I've run into before — loading the Update Journal page causes it to crash. Bit worrying, that. Not completely consistently, though.

That's why I'm on the computer so late — I just wanted to do this damn update, but it wouldn't let me, and now I'm using IE. Anyway, what I had to tell you was this:
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The latest from my cervical region of the temperate forests [Mar. 19th, 2007|12:10 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |miscellaneous]

I met my landlord a day or two ago; he was coming to look for the guy who is theoretically painting the house. He says he thinks he's found a buyer... and it's the people upstairs, who, he says, have no problem with me and should be quite happy to keep me on as their tenant.

I'm not in charge of the Highland & Gaelic Society mailing list any more. That duty has been passed on to one of the new people, who seemed eager for the job. I'm awkwardly aware that adrexia, who really should have been put in charge during her time with us, will be reading this. In my defence, we had more people and enthusiasm in 2001–02 than we've ever had since, and the mailing list was just a method of keeping the group in touch with itself and with people who wanted to give us things to do. It wasn't until late 2002 that I had to start being a cheerleader, a task for which I am eminently unsuited; and by then we had the OUHGS web forum (now long fallen into obscurity), which adrexia was in charge of.

The new Gyro is not online yet as I write, but should be once Baxter (Gyro's technical editor) figures out how to put the "this is a satire" disclaimer sticker on the file.
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The weekend [Mar. 14th, 2007|03:17 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |informative]

Spent the weekend at Dansey's Pass with mordecai5 and pelliondance and seaxred and some other friends. I had fun but am now rather sunburnt. It's getting to that time of year when I stop gloating about the weather to all my Northern Hemisphere readers and start grunting sulkily when they gloat instead.

Gyro had some trouble with our back-page article: a short, satirical piece entitled "How to Write Anti-Gay Propaganda in Fifteen Easy Steps", adapted from Jim Burroway's piece, was misinterpreted as not being satire, and the upshot is it's coming out two days late with stickers saying "We don't mean it" (pretty much) on the back.

Went to see Descent on Monday. Very, very scary movie, but not much depth to it, except in the stupid-pun literal sense.

Have still got one of the songs from the weekend on the brain.

"Indicate the route to my abode,
I'm fatigued and I wish to retire;
I partook of some refreshment sixty minutes ago,
and it's gone right to my occipital cranium.
Wherever I may perambulate
by land or sea or agitated water,
people always hear me singing this song:
Indicate the route to my abode."

You see if you can guess at the tune.
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Oh no, not again. [Mar. 1st, 2007|10:50 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |quiet dread]

For the last couple of months or so there have been people painting my house. At least, in theory. Not very much seems to get done most days, but there's this guy who kind of stomps around the place and, every so often, something is a different colour when I see it again.

I got a call from a valuer who wants to come and look at the place, my flat and the upstairs neighbours', on Monday.

I guess this means I'm flat-hunting again.

This wasn't supposed to happen until I'd got a job that actually paid actual regular money that I could actually pay rent with. Don't get me wrong, it's great to edit Gyro, but it's not enough to pay bills on.

Because, as you may recall from last time, cheap one-person flats are not exactly to be found on every corner. And I've never been in a multi-person flat that worked.
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My first magazine [Feb. 12th, 2007|03:52 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |pleased]

My and Gregor's first edition of Gyro is now online!

It doesn't look so good online as in print, mind you. All the punctuation is weird. But it's there!
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Yes, I'm still alive [Feb. 11th, 2007|03:59 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |alive]

I guess now I have a girlfriend and a job, I'll be posting even less than before. But yes, I am still alive. It doesn't help that trying to update my journal using the button on the front page causes Firefox to crash. But, then, looking back, I used to do posts that said "I can't think of anything to post", and I probably shouldn't be wanting to go back to that.

Quite a lot has happened in the last little while. My and Gregor's first issue of Gyro is now out; and, yes, after writing "gYRo" in my profiles on sites all over the Internet, it has been changed to "Gyro". Because of the work that entailed, I wasn't able to go to the Waihī Bush Folk Festival this year. Which is a right bugger, 'cause it's one of my favourites.

Also, I've started posting on the Richard Dawkins.net forum. It's not as interesting as the ZBB. No languages.
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Content? What's content? [Jan. 24th, 2007|08:35 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |discontent]

I can't believe it's been nearly three weeks since I last posted. During that time I've been doing quite a bit of work for gYRo, which is maybe why I haven't come here quite so often. Well, I was going to do a review of Apocalypto, which I saw recently, but for some reason I haven't been sleeping too well and I'm very, very tired, so here is a meme instead.

You know the Bible 100%!
 

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

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Hello and happy New Year [Jan. 6th, 2007|11:28 am]
the Naked Celt
[mood |bleary]

Er, yeah. Hello and happy New Year, almost a week in.

Went to Whare Flat again this year. Had an enjoyable time, mostly, and am now trying to reset my sleep patterns to the good habits I managed to master last year. The highlight had to be the Greek dance troupe from Melbourne, but there was lots of other good stuff too.

You may remember I told you in October about the rivalry between the "diddly" players and the non-diddly folkies at late-night sessions. This year two late-night sessions were pretty much taken over by the "diddly" people, and, though I joined in — I haven't had a chance to pull my bodhrann out for a year — I can see what the non-diddly players are annoyed about. (Mostly in the past I've seen it go the other way; people have started singing the Golden Oldies and shouting the diddly players down.) I suppose I should have started singing a song or something to stem the tide and get the other people involved, but I couldn't think of one in time to take over from the next person with a fiddle or whistle.

Anyway. Happy New Year, everybody.
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Marie Antoinette [Dec. 27th, 2006|03:42 pm]
the Naked Celt
[mood |filmique]

The labyrinthitis went away quickly this time. It's perhaps a little worrying that the information sheet my doctor gave me turned out to be a print-out of the Wikipedia page. Does this mean my life could one day depend on the pontifications of an opinionated geek?

Anyway...

Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette has had some positive reviews, and also a few negative ones. This is going to be a positive one.Collapse ) I can recommend Marie Antoinette to anyone who knows their history.
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