01:01 pm, percontations
277,702 notes


Arte de mierda.

06:38 pm, percontations
9 notes
The treatment of public sector workers

3 News' 6 o'clock coverage of Nicky Hagar's Dirty Politics has been a vast disappointment. Paul Henry, well, let’s not even go there.

The Nation, though, delivered this morning. This is a fantastic interview with Cameron Slater by Lisa Owen. Slater can very much speak for himself, and I’m happy for him to do so, especially if he maintains such eloquence. 

I always want people to gather the information and make their own informed opinions. And nothing is better than hearing directly from the source.

Pay close attention to the way Slater answers Owen’s questions. It is very much in his own interests — in Jason Ede’s, John Key’s, and National’s best interests — to deny any collaboration with Ede in the unauthorised accessing of Labour’s computers and the subsequent downloading of private information (including credit card information). Slater will not do so. 

Either he’s had an about face, and wants to make National look as dodgy as possible, despite being a right-wing supporter, and despite being personal friends with high-ranking National members. 

Or, he can’t.

But, like Key and National have said all week: “We’ll let you draw your own conclusions” from Slater’s evasive answers.

Btw, what does 3 News take away from The Nation's interview? Their Dirty Politics story today led with the news that Slater received death threats as a result of the book (one could argue it’s more like “as a result of Slater’s own actions, which the book pointed out”, but, eh, a technicality perhaps). 

While I won’t question the veracity of Slater’s claims, as Hagar does in the 3 News story, Hagar does raise a good point: often times those caught out and feeling defensive will try to redirect and “paint themselves as a victim and get sympathy”. Again, like Hagar, no one is condoning threatening behaviour and I think people who engage in that behaviour weaken their position irrevocably. But, whenever the “look, death threats!” card is being used as a diversion tactic, as a silencing tactic against legitimate criticisms — it’s important not to get distracted from the underlying issue.

An interesting exercise is to compare Slater’s interview with the interview following straight after with Hagar, Phil Goff, and Metiria Turei.

Hagar in particular, since this is his book and his assertions, note the way he responds to Owen’s questions. Compare the way Hagar answers with the way Slater answered.

Again, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

(Personally, I’m always a bit nervous whenever Hagar is going to give a live oral interview. He is not a polished speaker. And sometimes he gets to the point in a round-about way that is… not that great. This Campbell Live interview, for example, which I think was his first after the book’s release. 

But his earnestness shines through. I believe him when he says he’s motivated in creating a transparent, accountable political environment for NZ — he excels, really, when talking about his personal values underlying his work.

Also, his untrained-ness saves him at times. On the Paul Henry Show interview later that night, when Henry is trying to get Hagar to make a “cannot confirm nor deny”, non-committal political answer so as to aid in discrediting him during Henry’s own commentary later, Hagar shocks us all with his frank, unambiguous answers. ”Yes, there is absolute solid evidence of John Key being involved”, Hagar says boldly, as we pick our jaws off the ground and hope he doesn’t get sued.

(Henry will find a way to discredit him anyway, saying, Hagar’s admitted there’s no “smoking gun”, when really, what Hagar seemed to be saying was, There’s so much crap going on I can’t pick just one thing!)

But anyway.)

This is getting long, but there’s one more thing that really, really disturbs me. Mentioned near the end of The Nation's interview with Hagar, Turei says this on the outing of Simon Pleasants:

"[Judith Collins] got access to that information as a Minister and as a Member of Parliament. She passed that on in order to fuel a smear campaign that led to death threats to a public servant."

My mother has spent the majority of her career working in the public sector. I’ve worked in the public sector.

It is absolutely concerning for a Minister to reveal information about public servants hoping that harm would befall them. It seems like a threat: if you don’t toe the (National) party line, then we will get you. — Pleasants says he certainly felt threatened enough to go to the police. 

Further, what’s worse, Pleasants continues to maintain he wasn’t even doing what Slater was accusing him of (leaking information about Bill English claiming an accommodation allowance when English actually lived “in town”). And Collins had no evidence. Potentially, an innocent person was left to be publicly persecuted.

(Oh, G, misfeasance in public office?)

If similar happened to me I would definitely feel inhibited from doing my job fairly and objectively. And that is the crux of it. Public servants are not supposed to be political entities — they’re not here to help anyone score political points against their opponents. There should be no pressure on public servants to favour any one political party.

It is important that the public sector be neutral and objective. Their job is to work for the public, not to be dragged into political muck. It is not okay that “voice no political opinion” has morphed into “voice no political opinion against National”. One allows for an open, safe space, where different values and viewpoints are respected; the other, creates an environment of intimidation and bullying. 

I wish the news would investigate the assertions in Hagar’s book about public servants being pressured into losing their objectivity. 

The stories coming out from ex-public servants (the only ones who can speak out) are deeply concerning. They show both a bias towards aiding National and friends at the expense of fairness to everyone else, and a culture of fear.

Imagine this as any workplace — a small family business, a large private company. Is it ever okay for employees to feel they are not free to do their jobs the way they’re meant to? Is it ever okay for employees to feel threatened and intimidated? Is it okay for those in charge to assist with initiating a threat? It should be no different for the public sector.

I was working for the public sector during 2009, after National were just elected. Immediately, the mood shifted and “restructuring” (read: lay-offs) became the word of the day. 

Where possible, those on permanent employment contracts are “restructured”. Previously permanent positions are increasingly being changed to one year or six month fixed-term contracts (the way to get around having to supply employment entitlements under the law is to issue two six months contracts rather than one full year contract, btw). New, lower-level employees are being brought in on “casual contracts” — this means they can be let go at any time, with no notice, and there are none of the health insurance or holidays benefits that used to come with the permanent contracts. 

This has continued today. A friend of mine just left his public sector job last week. His permanent position is being changed to a fixed-term contract.

It was the most miserable environment I’ve ever worked in. Everyone was dispirited. Everyone was constantly stressed about being unemployed. I think it took away from the service we were supposed to be providing the public. There’s a lot of talk about “creating jobs” this election, but what sort of jobs will those be? Employment insecurity is no good to anyone.

But, on the other hand, there’s nothing quite like getting people to toe the line than the constant threat of losing your job.

06:10 pm, percontations
204 notes

Four years after his passing, we still haven’t quite caught up to Satoshi Kon, one of the great visionaries of modern film. In just four features and one TV series, he developed a unique style of editing that distorted and warped space and time. Join me in honoring the greatest Japanese animator not named Miyazaki.

Tony Zhou on Satoshi Kon

(Source: blue1887)

07:31 pm, percontations
9 notes
The ‘celebration’ of ethnic diversity in New Zealand requires those of ethnic backgrounds to perform their culture in order to demonstrate how diverse we are as a nation. The ‘Rhythms of Aotearoa’ performance saw authentic Samoan, Indian and Chinese dancers fuse their styles together in a presentation of “sensuous moves,” accompanied by an appropriate photo slideshow of Samoan, Indian and Chinese people contributing to society. I mean no disrespect to these talented dancers, but it is a fine example of the way culture can be used as a commodity, to shine like coloured jewels in New Zealand’s big White Crown.

 - Kiwese, Banana Split

HELLO HI EVERYTHING THAT MAKES ME CRINGE ABOUT CULTURAL DIVERSITY EVENTS. It’s one thing to celebrate cultural touchstones and festivals, delighting in the shared experience. It’s really quite another when the whole affair reeks of “attaining your cultural diversity badge” and you physically recoil at traditional dance being used as someone else’s justification for “but we’re a totally multicultural society, guys!”. It feels like lip service.

(via outstarethestars)

What sense of Chinese-ness was being appealed to here? While many NZ-born Chinese have roots in Southern China, the greater NZ Chinese population come from all over. Among the NZ Chinese, there is no real binding language but English. “

A few years ago I went to a Chinese New Year celebration with my work colleagues. They invited everyone Chinese — and this wasn’t done with any sort of fuss, and no one thought particularly hard about who was “Chinese”. They were probably doing it for years, and as another Chinese person, it was sort of expected I’d like to come along to lunch as well.

Half-way during lunch I suddenly realised we were all speaking English. That really, English was our only common language. And it made me wonder what it meant to be Chinese. Or what it meant to be Chinese in a professional working environment — although, like Kiwese shows, it kind of bleeds over into everything. What is this “Chinese-ness” being appealed to? Are any of the political parties even aware of how diverse the “Chinese community” is, let alone the “Asian community” and the “immigrant community”.

We went around the table and described our backgrounds. Chinese people born in NZ; Chinese people born on the mainland; Chinese people from HK; Chinese people born on the mainland who grew up in HK; Malaysian Chinese; Singaporean Chinese; Chinese skilled migrants; Chinese people who came as kids; Chinese people who only spoke Mandarin, or Cantonese, or both, or neither. And because of all this, Chinese people who could only communicate to each other in English. I was about 16-17 at the time and didn’t dwell on this too much. They were nice meals; people joked around, no one complained about chopsticks or pulled faces at the food.

Few years later, I remember feeling really, really invigorated after the talk by Chief Justice Ma (of the HK Court of Final Appeal) at the law school. I went to the law caf, and by luck, converged with some Chinese friends who were there/not there at the talk. And we were talking really excitedly about language and identity, and who spoke Mandarin and who spoke Cantonese (and how we all suck at it). And it was just a really wonderful experience! Everyone had such different backgrounds, but it was also nice that everyone immediately got what we meant about language and identity — and we never had to stop and explain anything.

Ah, what am I saying? 

I am constantly surprised — and I should know better by now — by the diversity of “Chinese identity”.

But even when we have such different backgrounds, there are still shared experiences and understandings that are rather comforting (well, outside of the conferences, apparently). 

06:40 pm, percontations
92,380 notes




via @sethdmichaels

This is the same woman who was turned down for a clerkship because of a gender, despite graduating top of her class at Columbia and being on two law reviews. Her 35-page dissent in Hobby Lobby is blistering (starts at p 60 here; summary here) and well worth reading.

There’s a talk between Justice Ginsberg and Baroness Hale comparing the US’s and UK’s highest courts. One of the interesting things they cover is what it’s like as women on the respective supreme courts (around 18 mins). From address (“The statute says, 'Lord Justices of Appeal’… because it never occurred to them there might ever be a woman.”), to seniority, to toilets (“We’ve all got bathroom stories.”)

Also this: “You can imagine a room full of 90 men and 6 women, and the 90 men voting on what the women could call themselves.” (at 26 mins). Spoiler alert: what the female judges wanted didn’t matter.

(Source: ihopeyoulikeblackberries)

04:28 pm, percontations
112,880 notes


Hayao Miyazaki talking about his passion for animation while seeing the world through his fascinating career. From the documentary: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013)

12:16 am, percontations
75 notes
Laos' First (and Only) Female Director Needs YOUR Help


Signal boost to help Laos’ first woman director, and to help get her film made.

Mattie Do (Laos’ first (and only) female director) has a fantastic sense of humour. It really comes across in her video:

Nong Hak is an important film. It’s a film about socio-economic disparity, gender inequality… and ghosts… and blood… and murder…

Also, it’s really interesting to hear things about the Lao film industry — how there’s so much potential since the industry is so new. Nong Hak will be only the 13th feature film from Laos! There are also apparently — literally — only four currently working directors in the whole industry. Or, according to Mattie:

There’s the comedy guy, the thriller guy, the romantic drama guy and me. I’m the crazy horror chick that’s calculating how much pig blood I can buy for the cash I’ve got in my pocket.

Also, news like this is pretty extraordinary, from one of the backer updates:

We’ve officially raised enough to put in the order for our new camera! You’ve collectively just made a massive increase in the image quality of the film. And better, that camera will then be available for other Lao filmmakers. So really, you’ve just raised the standard across our entire film industry!

It’s great that they’re willing to share their equipment, and it’s kinda mind-blowing that a small contribution can make an impact across the whole Lao film industry.

Anyway. Laos is a beautiful country and after visiting (especially after finding out about the UXO bombings), I really want to support local industries. Ahaha, I probably can’t watch Mattie’s film (can’t watch horror at all — my movie picks last Halloween were Casper and The Addams Family), but I really, really hope Mattie and Nong Hak do well! 

01:17 am, percontations
2,147 notes


Take a look at Edward Burtynsky’s extraordinary photographs of water: http://nyr.kr/1l4Nje4

Top: Salinas #3; Cádiz, Spain, 2013.
Bottom: Cape Coral #1; Lee County, Florida, U.S.A., 2012.

Photographs by Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto/Howard Greenberg Gallery and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York.

10:01 pm, percontations
95,893 notes



Get buried in this, get found by archeologists ten thousand years later, get presumed some kind of monarch or holy figure.

Somewhere, there are a lot of pissy, nekkid peacocks roaming the estate grounds….


Peacock wedding dress that was unveiled at the wedding expo held in Nanjing, the capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province. And this one is as royal as it can get!
Made with close to 2,009 pieces of peacock feathers, this dress was finished in two months and kept eight handicraftsmen busy day and night… we forgot to mention the price — $1.5 million.




Get buried in this, get found by archeologists ten thousand years later, get presumed some kind of monarch or holy figure.

Somewhere, there are a lot of pissy, nekkid peacocks roaming the estate grounds….




Peacock wedding dress that was unveiled at the wedding expo held in Nanjing, the capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province. And this one is as royal as it can get!

Made with close to 2,009 pieces of peacock feathers, this dress was finished in two months and kept eight handicraftsmen busy day and night… we forgot to mention the price — $1.5 million.

(Source: lavenderwrath)

12:35 am, percontations
158,848 notes


Nine Wonderful Words About Words from 25 things you had no idea there were words for