Tags: travel

face, neon, happy

Over the seas, we shall ride

Wellington ho!

Oh yeah, people should text me if they want to catch up, coz otherwise I will probably leave on Sunday then be like "FUCK, I forgot to catch up with so and so!". Also even if I do text you I can't be relied on to have the right number. Alternatively you can comment here but I dunno how often I'll be checking this thing (I really should've thought of this a couple days ago, huh).

Bye Christchurch. I'll see you on Sunday night.

I come bearing gifts.. of mucus!

I am full of death-plague! And tomorrow, I initiate biological warfare against Wellingtron!

I arrive tomorrow morning-ish and leave Sunday evening. I don't really have any plans in between besides Shadowlounge (if it's on?) on Thursday and the Bravery on Saturday, so I'm relying on others for entertainment. Not that I've really planned anything as yet, so Wellingtonians, consider this an open invite to abduct me and take me on adventures. :)
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SO, I figure I should probably announce that I'm gonna be in Wellington from the 12th through to the 15th of June. I'll be attending The Bravery at the San Fran Bath House on Saturday night, and presumably will come along to Shadowlounge if it's on. I also will be wanting to catch up with people, but haven't really thought too much about my plans other than the aforementioned. So if anyone has any wonderful ideas about fun things to do or adventures to go on, let me know. :)
humans are dead, conchords, robots

What is science, when history's in doubt?

The recent protests, and subsequent crackdown in Tibet couldn't have come at a worse time for the Labour government. We're about to be awarded the first free trade deal between China and a developed economy, which is probably the most significant achievement of Labour's third term in government. Instead it's being seen by many - particularly on the left - as an endorsement of the Chinese regime's oppression of the Tibetan people, and turning a blind eye to its dubious human rights record.

I have a problem with this, because there are a few key assumptions here which aren't justified.

1. That the Tibetan people are vastly worse off under Chinese rule.

Before the Chinese got involved in Tibet, shit was downright medieval. Most of the land was owned by ridiculously rich landlords and monasteries. The land was worked by serfs who, while bound to their owners for life (like slaves), were responsible for their own upkeep (unlike slaves). Those who tried to escape or were otherwise disobedient were often tortured in a variety of interesting ways. Buddhist doctrine forbade executions, but leaving someone outside in the freezing night after lashing them to death's door was all fine and dandy.

When the Chinese first got involved, they made a treaty which allowed self-governance. They controlled the military and the conducting of foreign relations. They were allowed to execute a few social reforms, reducing interest rates and building roads and hospitals. Otherwise, things pretty much remained in the status quo.

That was until the CIA got involved, funding an organized resistance with assistance from several members of the Dalai Lama's family. They began attacking Chinese army convoys. Oddly enough, the common people of Tibet showed very little interest in joining the resistance as it progressed, and it eventually fell.

After the lamas had been removed from power, the Chinese abolished slavery, reduced and eliminated a whole lot of taxes, reduced unemployment hugely, built secular schools, and set up running water and electricity in Lhasa.

Land was redistributed to farmers and peasants, and with improvements in irrigation methods, agrarian production was increased massively.

So yeah, this one doesn't really wash. The Chinese have done some nasty stuff, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, but feudal Tibet was hardly a paradise (unless you were a lama).

This article on the topic is excellent and very well researched.

2. That the recent 'protests' represent a legitimate expression of dissident views, and as such the Chinese authorities' reaction has been grossly disproportionate.

Nobody seems to have paid any attention at all to the actual nature of these protests.

We're talking massive ethnic violence. No, not against the Tibetans, but against Muslims and ethnic Chinese by Tibetans. Tibetan-owned businesses being marked with scarves, others being burned to the ground. Stones thrown at Chinese. Hell, one guy was even doused with oil and set on fire. This is not a bunch of peace loving hippies marching through the street with placards.

The authorities did fuck all to sort it out to start with; probably because they knew the world was watching and didn't want to escalate the situation. After giving the rioters a bit of time to vent their anger, troops gradually moved in with rifles letting off the odd warning shot. Yes, there was occasional bloodshed, but there could well have been a hell of a lot more if they hadn't done something at that point.

There's a really good interview on this topic here.

3. That the free trade deal represents an endorsement of said reaction, as well as China's general oppression of the Tibetan people and other miscellaneous human rights violations; and that, conversely, refusing to sign the agreement would send a clear message that this behaviour was not acceptable, which would presumably benefit those oppressed by the regime in some abstract way or another.

You see, I totally don't get this. And this is something not many political writers and the like seem to have commented on. A free trade deal is something that increases freedom. It gives the people of two nations greater freedom to exchange things with each other without government intervention. Our markets are already very open to China, we get alot more out of this deal than they do.

Governments, as representatives of their nation's people, are the agents that we have to deal with to facilitate these agreements, like it or not. I don't disagree with anyone that the Chinese communists are, on balance, a pack of pricks, but I don't see how we can punish them for that by refusing to sign an agreement which is to the mutual benefit of both ourselves and the Chinese people.

Where does this attitude come from? Is it economic nationalism? Is it the classic fallacy of conflating the rulers with the ruled? Or is it just racism wearing a peace sign?

(Those who read Russell Brown's weblog will notice that I've been stealing his references. His article here is a pretty good read as always.)

Kaikoura was excellent fun. I went on my first real wine tasting adventure up in Blenheim, and ended up spending far too much money. I bought three bottles in the end - a St Clair Sauvignon Blanc (which I've already scoffed, and was yummy), a Villa Maria Pinot Noir (supposed to be the best in New Zealand presently, according to someone - I'll save it for my eventual graduation), and a Villa Maria Noble Riesling (lemon-limey; I intend to use it to convince Ro that wine is not disgusting).

Also got ludicrously drunk and talked about politics, which is always good.


Lastly, a musical recommendation for fans of post-punky/new wavey/gothy stuff. You know who you are.

White Rose Movement, from London. They show their influences fairly flagrantly, but they're excellent nevertheless. This is Girls in the Back, my favourite track off their album, and probably the poppiest. It's well worth checking out the videos for Alsation and Love is a number also though, I was kinda torn about which one to post.

Damn, they're pretty.

I return!

My first Xmas away from my folks went swimmingly. Motueka was lovely and warm, and there was much chillaxing and ridiculous amounts of food. Got to catch up with cornix briefly in Nelson too, which was nice.

Got a pretty good bundle of presents - a rimu chopping board, a mortar and pestle, a copy of the complete works of Lewis Carroll (my parents must have forgotten that I already have that, but it's the thought that counts I suppose), many chocolates and sweeties, and a nice towel. I believe there are other things on the way from my sister, also.

And I bought myself copies of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Great Expectations, and To Kill a Mockingbird at the local Sallies.

My only complaint is the ridiculous amount of travelling I've done in the last few days. I never want to step inside a moving vehicle again (unless it's a space rocket, in which case I'll make an exception).

And here's an obligatory music video!

They're called Klaxons, they're from the UK, and apparently play 'acid-rave sci-fi punk-funk'. Anyway, they're awesome, check out the vid.

I need a drink

Jesus on a bicycle, today was stressful.

For one thing, it was my first day as an Advisory Officer. For another, it was the first day after a long weekend, hence all the customers who we would've had on Monday came in today instead. Lastly, I was on counter duty - which means I had the pleasure of dealing with all the customers and emails.

When you're still in training, and you're discussing something with a customer, I find it's often difficult to find the balance between not wanting to tell the customer the wrong thing, and not wanting to be running to ask for help every 5 seconds. Obviously one leans towards the latter, but seeing as how everybody else was incredibly busy today as well I had to fake it alot more than usual. Which means trying to sound alot more sure of myself than I in fact was, and at times, failing - the moment when the customer starts rolling their eyes and interrupting you is a good indicator that they're not taking you particularly seriously.

I'm still in training, it shouldn't bother me, but it pokes holes in my self-confidence (which I've done a damn good job of keeping remarkably high over the last year or so). I don't enjoy it.

In unrelated news, I'm not going to be going up to Welly to see the Veils after all. I'll opt for Southern Amp instead - while it seems silly to spend $99 for a festival in which there's only one band you want to see, I can't really justify the cost of the trip to Wellington, especially when I'm planning on a trip there towards the end of the year anyway. I might use my time off to go to Dunedin, and hence get my stuff, though that would mean missing Daria's farewell party, which would be unfortunate. Dammit with things always being on in the weekends!

No post would be complete without some kind of musical rant.. uhmm..

Well, I recently downloaded Sneaky Sound System's debut album. You may have seen the video for UFO on C4. It's rather good. Extremely danceable and full of synthy goodness. Even if it is cringworthily (is that a word?) disco.

Wellington - here I come (maybe)

Looks like I might go to Welly to see the Veils in early November.

I didn't think I'd be able to afford it, but I can get there and back for about $160 by bussing up and flying down (would be ~$130 if I bussed both ways, but fuck that). Tickets to the gig are $30. It compares pretty well with the cost of going to Southern Amp, considering that I get a trip to Welly out of it and Southern Amp only has one band that I'm keen on (well, several actually, but most of them are up and down the country all the time anyway).

Now I just need to get a couple of days off work.

EDIT: Some of you other bastards up there better be going to the gig too, or I'll spit in your beer.

ADDENDUM TO EDIT: If I can convince other people to come up and turn this into a true expedition, that would be even better. Come on. You know you want to. $1 bus to Picton, going fast! (The ticket, not the bus)
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So yeah, looks like I'll be going to Gisborne tomorrow.

I'll be bussing down to Chch for New Year's, if my parents agree to that. If they don't (and I'll be ringing them tonight), I'll be rather tempted to stay in Dunedin. But I think, with a little pressure applied correctly, they'll agree.

Then, somehow, I'll be getting back to Dunedin soon after New Year. I'm hoping to find somebody who's driving down; if not, I'll take a bus.

Also, I don't yet have overnight accomodation in Wellington (for the trip down), or a place to stay in Chch. I have plenty of time to arrange such things, though.

The sad thing about this though, is that I miss the Chills gig at the Jam Jar on Friday. For shame! =(

Anyway, I'll see you all in a few weeks, I suppose.