Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just one more

In my previous post, I mentioned the portrait of the Queen that was out of camera shot. Well, you can see it in the photo above.

This photo shows Lily, our Registrar, about to begin our marriage ceremony. The portrait of the Queen of New Zealand is in the background to the left, and the New Zealand flag is peaking up above my shoulder. Aside from that, you may be able to see what a good time we had.

All of which is a good excuse for showing one more photo from our special day.

Husband and husband

We are now legally husbands. In one simple word, we’re married, and that one simple word has so much meaning. And, a new word is added.

I never liked the word “husband” before. I knew plenty of guys who called their partner their husband, but I really never did and for a simple reason: It wasn’t true. A husband is a man who’s legally married—everyone knows this—and for most of my life, this was impossible for me.

Not anymore. Today I was able to legally marry a man and he became my husband in a legal sense as well as a practical sense. Because, after some 18 years together, we were husbands in everything but name. Now we have the name, too.

The Registry Office ceremony was quick and efficient, as we expected it to be. It was all over—including a few photos—in around 15 minutes. We already had a big ceremony when we had our Civil Union, of course, so today’s ceremony was about changing that status to marriage. That meant having a particular ceremony required by law, and that's something that doesn’t take much time at all.

The photo above was taken by our niece right after the ceremony, and shows our rings: Nigel decided he wanted a simple silver band to go with the gold band he had at our Civil Union. We realised that such a band would go well with my Civil Union ring and its three little diamonds. So, we had the new rings made. It’s kind if hard to tell they’re silver in the photos.

The photo at right of the post is of us as we’re nearing the end of the ceremony, also taken by our niece. It’s the photo I posted to social media. You'll notice the New Zealand flag behind us—it's a government office, after all. A portrait of the Queen hung to the far left, out of view of this photo. That plaque behind me, on the very righthand edge of the photo, is the Seal of New Zealand.

It was a lovely day: A family lunch before the ceremony, then a barbecue dinner at home tonight. And now, we’re married. Now, we’re legally equal to our heterosexual siblings, having assumed the same responsibilities and commitments as they have. All, as it should be, of course.

All of which is why it really was a great day.

In tenth place – and fifth

With everything going on, I missed mentioning a link between Auckland and Chicago (other than me): Both cities are in the Top 10 Cities for Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel” for 2014. They are NZ’s and the USA’s only cities in the top 10.

For Chicago, the attractions are, of course the architecture and museums, but also the festivals, Second City and Wrigley Field. It’s a wide-ranging list, and, I think, a pretty good one.

Lonely Planet says about Auckland, “food, arts and exploring the coastal hinterland are all excellent reasons to extend your stay in New Zealand’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city,” and talks about some of the attractions. I’d add that since Auckland is located on an isthmus, the sea features prominently (one if Auckland’s nicknames is The City of Sails), and many fine beaches are easily accessible.

The top ten cities are: 1 Paris, France, 2 Trinidad, Cuba, 3 Cape Town, South Africa, 4 Riga, Latvia, 5 Zurich, Switzerland, 6 Shanghai, China, 7 Vancouver, Canada, 8 Chicago, USA, 9 Adelaide, Australia and 10 Auckland, New Zealand.

New Zealand didn’t make the list of Top 10 Countries (clearly an oversite…), but neither was Australia, so it’s all good (I’m joking…). The West Coast of the South Island was listed at 8 in the Top 10 Regions list.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has been ranked in fifth place on the 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index ranking of 142 countries in eight areas. New Zealand ranked first in the world in Education (which is ironic, with the current government threatening changes that could drastically lower that ranking), second for Social Capital and also Governance and fifth in Personal Freedom. It’s lowest rankings were Entrepreneurship & Opportunity as well as Safety and Security, both at 15, Economy at 17 and Health at 20.

I can’t really comment on whether I think the rankings are valid, particularly whether the weighting of the various factors makes sense, but it’s interesting, nevertheless. The report can be downloaded from the Legatum Institute [Direct link to the PDF].

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gettin' married

I'm getting married in the morning (okay, it's actually afternoon...), so get me to the church on time (wait, it's completely secular...). Okay, let's try that again, but corrected: I'm getting married in the afternoon / ding, dong the cellphone's gonna chime / I'm gettin' married, so get me to the registry office on time...

Tomorrow’s the big day that I never expected to see. Sometimes life surprises us, as if to see if we’re paying attention. In this case, I like that.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Following the fox

Ylvis, who brought us the bizarre video, “What Does The Fox Say?” is back with “Massachusetts” (lyrics possibly NSFW). You can tell it’s the same group.

While the “fox” video was bizarre, this one is more humorous, though still with the surreal touches you’d expect. I think it’s funny, including the gay jokes. Mostly, it’s the surreal that appeals to me: “I can’t believe this place is real.” Exactly.

While I like bizarre, even surreal humour, your mileage may vary. Still, knowing that I find this funny probably tells you a bit more about me.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mop the SLOP

Most of what’s wrong with journalism can be traced to under-resourced newsrooms. But there are also bad practices, like pretending online polls are real. Such “polls” debase journalism and cheapen public debate.

News sites use online polls to drag eyes to their pages, and more page views means more ad revenue. Although that’s kind of crass, if that’s all they did with those fake “polls”, it wouldn’t be such a stain on journalism. The problem is that the sites/newspapers then report the poll results as if they’re actually valid.

The main problem with these “polls” ought to be obvious: Self-selection bias. This means that the people polled have selected themselves, and so, are almost never representative of the population generally. If these “polls” end up mirroring real, scientific polls, it’s purely accidental. All of which is why social scientists refer to these fake “polls” as, appropriately enough, SLOP: self-selecting opinion poll. [More on the subject of self-selection bias can be found through a Google search of scholarly articles]

The fact that these fake “polls” are wide open to manipulation means that people attempt to affect the outcome, to skew the results in the direction they want. The term for this is “freeping”, a word that’s a back formation from “Freeper”, the name used to describe the denizens of an extreme far right US website—one of the most popular rightwing sites on the Internet—called “Free [sic] Republic”. They worked out long ago that they could go to websites as a bloc and skew the results of a “poll” the way they wanted the results to go.

Eventually, the centre and left began to do this, too. For example, LGBT activists and supporters freep online “polls” about marriage equality. Popular gay blogger Joe.My.God. even has a subject tag for his posts urging readers to freep polls.

Most online “polls” have a rightwing bias most of the time. That’s because the rightwing is generally more passionate about issues, especially hot button issues like marriage equality, welfare reform, immigration, etc., that news sites deliberately poll on because they know it’ll bring eyes to their pages. One might also suggest that this is because the righwing is angrier than the left, but I couldn’t possibly comment. What’s obvious is that the rightwing tends to be more motivated.

So, what we have are polls that are biased, usually in a rightward direction, but that also can be easily manipulated toward either end of the political spectrum. These “polls” aren’t even remotely representative of the population generally. All of which means that these “polls” are utterly useless for anything other than pure entertainment. SLOP, indeed.

What makes these things so odious is that journalists cite these “polls” in real news stories as if they’re real, scientifically valid opinion polls (TVNZ’s news programmes frequently do this with their text “polls”, which are all SLOP as well). Generally, journalists don’t even inform people that the poll was a SLOP poll, leaving news consumers to think that the “polls” are real and valid when they’re never even remotely so.

When these “polls” skew toward one end of the spectrum or the other, like-minded political activists then tout the results of the fake “polls” as “proof” that the general public agrees with them. For example, in New Zealand’s marriage equality debate, our rightwing adversary constantly cited such fake “polls” as some sort of evidence that his side was winning when it clearly wasn’t the case. Of course, he also had a lot of trouble interpreting real, valid poll results, but the problem here was his touting fake “polls” as if they were real (and only the ones that allegedly supported his position, of course).

So the problem isn’t just the use of fake “polls” to drive pageview numbers up, it’s that the fake “polls” then become a topic in the news, and they become an aspect of debates on public policy, occasionally even shifting real public opinion (as measured by movement in real, scientifically valid opinion polls). This, in turn, sometimes means that journalists are creating the news, not merely reporting it, and that’s never okay.

The simplest solution would be to end all online “polls” conducted by mainstream news organisations. But, since they want eyes drawn to their websites, they won’t do that. At the very least—the barest minimum—news organisations MUST report that the polls are not scientifically valid. This point is non-negotiable, and ought to be a given for any journalist who cares about the ethics of journalism. To report these fake “polls” as if they’re real is a violation of the public trust and brings the journalist and his/her news organisation into disrepute.

The bottom line for me is simple: If a news organisation reports one of these fake online “polls” as if it was real, I then have no alternative but to assume that the rest of the story—and even perhaps everything the news organisation reports—is suspect and completely unreliable, too. This is a simple cause and effect situation: If they won’t be honest about these fake “polls”, how can anyone trust what they say about anything?

I can’t. Jounralists have a choice: Fix this or be assumed to be liars. Yes, it really is that simple.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Internet Wading: Learning history

Bass Reeves
I’m as passionate about history as I am about politics. Of course, the study of the politics requires the study of history, but there’s far more to it for me: History is alive. Sometimes, it’s also hidden.

History is nothing more or less than telling the stories of people from the past. It’s not about dates and events alone, but about the people who live through them—their hopes and fears and dreams, their triumphs, their failures and everything else that marks the passage of their lives.

The problem is that so much of history is hidden. Professional historians focus on what interests them (and fair enough), and also sometimes skip over things that don’t mesh well with their beliefs or prejudices. This is how so much history of minorities is lost.

Thanks to the Internet, I’m always finding out things I never knew. Sometimes these end up in blog posts, as for example the story of the UpStairs Lounge that I wrote about back in June. Most often, however, they don’t. This post is about some of those things I learned that I never knew.

Let’s start with something easy, and kind of contemporary, shall we? The complete history of Twitter as told through tortured descriptions of it in the New York Times”. This shows how the NY Times’ perception of Twitter evolved over the years, mirroring public awareness generally. I think we’ll see more of this sort of “instant history” chronicle in the future, now that everything that happens is recorded somewhere—including on Twitter.

Okay, that was nice and easy. Now, a Founding Father I never heard about: Peyton Randolph. The National Constitution Center’s Constitution Daily blog published an article, “Peyton Randolph: The forgotten revolutionary president” on the 238th anniversary of his early death in 1775—at the same age I am now. He was twice president of the Continental Congress, and from a prominent Virginia family, but I’d still never heard of him. Now, I have. So have you.

Next to the American Revolution, the Civil War is the most “popular” for ordinary people to read about. I was a small child when the centenaries of various Civil War events arrived, and with the Civil Rights Movement happening at the same time, the war was seared into my mind at an early age. But it was all so old—black and white, grainy, distant. Until now: A couple digital artists have painstakingly retouched famous photos from the Civil War—in colour and with sometimes excruciating detail. I thought the re-touched photos made the people in the war much more real than they’d seemed before. Some of them are downright amazing. For me, it really did bring history alive. This history wasn’t hidden in the literal sense, but the retouched photos sure made me see it in an entirely new way

A link shared on Facebook—I forget who shared it—led me to a story about the Dunning Asylum in Chicago, once known as a “tomb for the living”, and a name that parents could threaten children with to immediately alter their naughty behaviour. Yet, I’d never heard of it—nor, apparently, have a lot of other people. Lost history on so many levels—including the fact that perhaps 38,000 people were buried there and forgotten. A sad and scary story.

And let’s round out this found history sampling with something I saw just today: The real life inspiration for The Lone Ranger was almost certainly a Black man named Bass Reeves who was born a slave. He had a Native American companion, rode a white horse, frequently left a silver coin and was responsible for capturing some 3,000 fugitives. There’s so much more to the story, of course, but why the fictional character was made white isn’t really a mystery. Personally, I like to know more about that part of the story.

And those are a small sampling of the sorts of things I run across all the time—these are just the ones I thought to save the links to. Hopefully I’ll remember to keep doing this. After all, I’m sure that others haven’t heard these stories, either.

Free and Equal

Earlier today, I published a post about a project of Free & Equal, an initiative of the United Nations Human Rights Office. Above is their video, “The Riddle”, which was posted back in May; had I known about it then, I would have shared it here. The UN's message is very simple: LGBT rights are human rights. Obviously, I agree.

It turns out, this video can be watched on YouTube with captions in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Albanian and Arabic. Smart move.

Over the years, I’ve been critical of the UN, as have many other people, but when they do something right, it should be acknowledged, and this is one of those times. Well, done to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights for playing a part to make sure all the world's people are free and equal.

Suggested realities

The things that Google suggests when you start typing words to search can be helpful or hilarious—but they can also show humanity’s darker side by revealing what people are searching for. This can be very depressing.

The image at left (click to embiggen) is from Free & Equal, an initiative of the United Nations Human Rights Office and their global public education campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex equality. It’s from their ad campaign, “This is what Google suggests when you type ‘gays’”.

The campaign was inspired by a similar “women should” campaign by UN Women. I think both are quite effective.

I tried the same Google searches to see what the suggestions were, and got basically the same results. Then, in addition to the words need, should and shouldn’t that Free & Equal used, I also tried “Gays want…” and the top two results were, “gays want to destroy marriage” and “gays want special rights”. I tried “gays deserve…” and the top suggestions were, “gays deserve to die”, “gays deserve to be bullied”, “gays deserve aids [sic]”, but there was also the positive “gays deserve equal rights.” That much is encouraging

The anonymity of the Internet provides cover for people to say and explore what they really think, without the filters or restraint they use when their identity is publicly known. We’ve all seen truly vile anonymous comments left on various sites by people who, probably more often than not, would never say such things out loud in a crowd of strangers. The Google searches about gays and women show what many people in the world actually think about (Google’s suggestions are based on the most common searches using those words).

I think it’s important to note that while the anonymity of the Internet has certainly fed the rising incivility in public discourse, the underlying negative attitudes wouldn’t go away if the anonymity did. However, I do wonder: If people had to take personal ownership of their words and comments, would negative people (or, maybe, could they) avoid falling into the whirlpool of negativity in which they normally dwell? They exist in a realm of half-baked ideas, crackpot conspiracy theories and mean-spirited personal attacks that echo around and around and permeate everything that comes in contact with them. Would the end of anonymity make people less likely to be sucked in? Would it make them less asshole-ish?

I’m sceptical that reducing anonymity can make people be better people. Still, the possibility that it could increase civility could be reason enough to try, and it’s why many websites are now insisting that commenters use their real names, which the sites try to verify. Perhaps it’s a first step.

There are no simple solutions or easy answers—if there were, we’d have fixed the problem of uncivil discussions of public policy issues, and we wouldn’t have people searching Google using hate-filled language. However, this little exercise shows us that the nice person we’re talking with might, hiding in the anonymity of the Internet, say truly vile and disgusting things. Maybe we all need to strongly condemn such hate speech to the real people we know. If enough of us do this, maybe social disapproval will make people less likely to spread hatred using the cloak of anonymity. Maybe, but I doubt that would be enough.

Somehow we have to reignite the old notion of people treating others with the respect they themselves expect—what Christians used to call “The Golden Rule”, back before the politicisation of their religion killed off that idea. We can't control what others do or say, on the Internet or elsewhere, but we can be an example. Right now, maybe that's the best we can do.

Friday, October 25, 2013

What I’m talking about

Brad & Luke: 5.11.13 from Collin Del Cuore on Vimeo.

I don’t get how any human being can wilfully deny the love of other people. I don’t understand why some promote hatred instead of love. I can’t accept that some people’s narrow religious beliefs get to trump others’ secular rights. But I do know that the ignorant, the bigoted and the narrow-minded will fail.

The video above shows the Illinois civil union of Brad and Luke. Like all such videos, some of which I’ve posted on this blog, it’s moving. In fact, I’d go so far to say that anyone who watches this who can’t see the love between Brad and Luke has no brain. If they cannot feel that the love is deep, they have no heart. And anyone who, knowing and feeling that love, still thinks that people like Brad and Luke should be forbidden to marry clearly has no soul.

The struggle for marriage equality is about legal rights—of course it is—but at its core it’s about something far more important: Love. A same-gender couple who love each other and want to assume the responsibilities and commitments of marriage ought to be able to do so, and there simply is NO rational, secular reason why they should not be able to do so. The civil union in this video concludes with the celebrant saying that hopefully they will be able to legally marry in Illinois, which receives loud cheers—as it should have.

Marriage equality will come to Illinois, that’s a certainty. But in Illinois’ neighbour to the north, Wisconsin, things are far worse. In the Karl Rove-approved tactic to drive up Republican votes, a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality was placed before voters in 2006, and was approved. Wisconsin still has an extremely limited “domestic partner” registry that gives a few small benefits to same-gender couples. Naturally, rightwing bigots and religious extremists are trying to have the registry struck down, because it’s “substantially similar to marriage”.

To defend the few crumbs that Wisconsin same-gender couples have, attorneys argued that the purpose of the registry is only to provide limited benefits to same-gender couples, and "You can do that in a manner that falls far short of marriage, as is done here, and not create a legal status substantially similar to marriage." Imagine arguing that the fact that an extremely limited legal recognition “falls far short of marriage” is a reason it’s okay! But, then, that’s the best they can hope for in Wisconsin—for now.

The fact is, the tide has turned, and marriage equality will be extended to all 50 US states within a surprisingly short period of time. The bigots will never surrender, even when they have lost every legal appeal and underhanded political tactic available to them. Their hatred will never allow them to accept defeat.

But there are plenty of opponents of marriage equality who are not actual bigots, even if they ally themselves with bigots and extremists. We’re beginning to see these people leaving the battlefield, and anyone who’s not a bigot should do so, too. The marriage equality fight is basically over—it’s no longer a question of IF love and justice will triumph, it’s a question of how soon. Pragmatic conservatives won’t want to be associated with losers, even if they were previously okay being associated with bigots and religious extremists.

Ultimately, the question isn’t just about being on the right side of history, though that’s still certainly true. The question really is, who wants to be seen as standing in the way of love? Who wants to be seen as filled with bigotry and hatred? Increasingly, those are the only people left still fighting against marriage equality. Those who are not bigots and religious extremists must make their choice: Are they for love or hate? It’s really that simple.

Choose love: It’s always the winner in the end.

Tip o’ the Hat to Kyle in Hawaii who posted the video link on Facebook, and to Joe.My.God. for the story on Wisconsin.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

To be married

One week from today, Nigel and I will be married. It was a long time waiting, a lifetime, really. Now that marriage equality is here, and we have the same options as anyone else, I think it was worth the wait.

I’ve written previously about how getting married to a man was something that I grew up assuming would always be impossible. Then, a couple months ago, the day after marriage equality became law in New Zealand, I wrote about what the new reality meant for me.

Just under eighteen years ago, I arrived in New Zealand to stay, and to build a life with the love of my life, Nigel. When Civil Unions came into being in 2005, we thought we’d eventually get one, but didn’t actually do so until January of 2009. The delay wasn’t intentional—busy lives and all that—but I think a part of me secretly hoped New Zealand would go ahead an enact marriage equality.

Even so, I think it’s safe to say that when we had our Civil Union ceremony, we didn’t think that marriage equality would arrive so soon afterward; we knew it was inevitable, sure, but that fast? When the bill was passed, I wrote about a number of factors that I think made it all happen, and they partly account for the speed.

Nevertheless, it was an unexpected turn of events that led to LGBT people becoming fully equal under the marriage act, having exactly the same options that opposite gender couples have. And that, for me, is the ultimate point in all this: We are now equal.

Civil unions were, in most respects, equivalent to marriage—but they were not marriage. LGBT people were forbidden to marry and that, for me, reduced the value of civil unions. It also felt like we were being told to put up with something that was the best we could expect, that we weren’t good enough for marriage.

Paradoxically, I now think that since everyone has the same options for legal recognition of their relationship, it raises the value of civil unions—for those who choose them. But the reality is, everyone knows what marriage is and what that commitment means. But, civil unions? It’s like the protest signs often say: No one ever said to the love of their life, “will you civil union me?”

Free and equal citizens must have free and equal options, and now we do. Some will choose de facto status, some will choose civil unions and some will choose marriage. We chose marriage because for us it has meaning, and the fact that we grew up never expecting to be able to marry makes the fact that we now can all the more meaningful.

When I talk about the struggle for the civil and human rights of LGBT people, I often talk about all those people, known and unknown, who cleared the way for the rest of us. So, I think of them, especially those who didn’t live to see marriage equality arrive, and I feel a particular determination to grab hold of the equality that’s now before us.

Sometimes, becoming equal is surprisingly simple. Sometimes, all it takes is saying “I do”.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Soon with real snails

Snail mail: It used to be a sarcastic joke, but in New Zealand, soon it will be real. Well, the pace will be; I don’t think any actual snails will be used.

From mid-2015, New Zealand Post will be able to drop standard mail delivery in urban areas from six days to only three. This change doesn’t affect parcels or “premium” delivery items, just standard mail. This was first talked about back in January.

One important thing to note is that three days is the minimum—NZ Post can deliver more often than that. However, in a blatant case of pandering to its base, the National Party-led Government has said that delivery in rural areas must be at least four days a week. Why the special treatment? Communications and IT Minister Amy Adams told TVNZ’s One News:
“There can be no doubt that rural communities are more reliant on postal services than perhaps some of their urban neighbours where there are better communication alternatives.”
This woman is responsible for IT? Seriously?! Does she not know that rural communities also have this newfangled thing called The Internet? Using it, people in rural areas can, just like their urban neighbours, receive things by email, make bill payments through Internet banking and do all sorts of things that used to be done by post alone.

Of course Amy knows all this: She was just being extremely disingenuous. The issue here isn’t rural communities being “more reliant on postal services” (because they’re not), the issue is that rural communities are the base of the NZ National Party, which will be in a very tough election campaign next year. National is already in trouble in urban centres, so they can’t afford to piss off their core voters, every one of whom will be needed if National is to cling to power.

So, the extra day of standard mail delivery for rural areas has nothing to do with their needs: It’s about National’s need to shore up its vote. It’s politics, pure and simple.

This is supposed to be reviewed again in five years to see if technology has further eroded the need for mail delivery. I can say with absolute certainty that it will have, and the frequency of delivery will be cut again. Once they start cutting standard mail delivery, businesses and their customers will find ways to do without mail service, and so, they’ll need even less and that, in turn, will lead to further cuts. My best guess is that standard mail delivery will be gone entirely within seven years.

I don’t think I’d even notice. We get only a couple bills by post now—the rest are either emailed or viewable online. If I could be bothered, I could easily change it so all our bills are emailed or online, but I haven’t gotten around to it. The reality is, were it not for those rare bills, I probably wouldn’t even notice that we don’t usually get any mail at all.

So, standard mail delivery soon really will be “snail mail”, and the old joke will be the new reality. Progress, eh?

The photo at top is a modified version of a photo available from Morguefile.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Busy Days

This week, I’ve been very busy with re-organising and preparing for a family party November 2. That, and, you know, Spring.

We finally have some Spring weather to report: Fine weather, or mostly so, and barely a hint of rain. There haven’t been any hot days this October, as there are many other ones, but I can overlook that if it means we’re spared the cool, rainy days of many a November. We’ll see.

This past weekend, we got the gardens ready for our family party. My sister-in-law came round on Sunday and we got the front garden all tidy and presentable. In the afternoon, Nigel and I finished the other courtyard, normally the domain of the dogs and, in fine weather, drying laundry. Everything looks really good now—and another thing off my “to do” list.

Around all that, I’ve been concentrating on reorganising (which mainly means repacking) boxes to put into storage. Several trips later, I see the end in sight. Maybe I’m the only one who does at the moment.

The photo above is part of my other work in this period: Laundry and hanging washing out to dry. As it happens, our electricity bill was quit low last month; I’m helping to make next month’s low, too. Well, the sun is—I’m just helping.

And speaking of helping, the animals have been right in there. Bella took it upon herself to sit in an empty box to make sure no one made off with it. A photo of her in that box is below. I’m not exaggerating when I say she sat in just that way for well over an hour, and she’d have stayed there longer if she hadn’t thought I was about to feed her.

And that’s what I’ve been doing (short version) lately.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weekend Diversion: The Sensible Horror Film

Above is a spoof movie trailer promoting a film called “HELL NO – The Sensible Horror Film”. The description on Vimeo says:
“Imagine a realm where the most horrifying terrors of the underworld emerge to wreak bloody vengeance upon any who… hmm? What’s that? You wanna go literally anywhere else? Yeah, good idea let’s get out of here.”
Most horror films, and ones featuring teens in particular, rely on people making stupid choices and bad decisions. While most of us would stay away from creepy places, characters in such movie go right in, and usually alone.

So this spoof imagines horror movies in which people made good choices and the right decisions. Of course, that behaviour would make the horror movie impossible, which is obviously the point.

The film was written by Joe Nicolosi and John Freiler and directed by Joe Nicolosi. Produced by Stephanie Noone. I think it's very well done.

Friday, October 18, 2013

It’s a Red Flag

The music video above is by XELLE, an all-girl pop group. The group says this particular song
“was inspired by the recent increase in anti-LGBT sentiment, violence and legislation in Russia and around the world. As allies and members of the LGBT community, we wanted to speak out against injustice and inspire everyone in the world who supports equal rights for all to speak out and stand up for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted.”
Who can argue with that? I certainly can’t. The song’s essential message is simple and in the lyrics:
“People shutting people out, I see a red flag
People taking people's rights, I see a red flag
See a red flag, see a red flag, gotta stand up for my brothers and my sisters
When they take away your freedom, it's a red flag
When they take what makes you human, it's a red flag
It's a red flag, it's a red flag, gotta stand up for my brothers and my sisters”
People like what they like and don’t like what they don’t, but for me, it’s nice to see pop music with a great message. The Harvey Milk quote at the very end is a nice touch. Plus, It’s got a good beat, you can dance to it, I give it a 9.

Complete lyrics are in the YouTube description.

It is fit

Today I took my car for a Warrant of Fitness (WoF—or, less typographically correct, WOF). I do this every six months, and, I should say upfront, my car passed. It was still nerve-wracking.

A WoF is an inspection to make sure that a car is safe to be on the road. In principle, I think this is a very good thing, indeed. However, whenever I take my car in, I can’t escape the feeling that it’s ME who is being evaluated, that it’s ME who can fail the test. Projecting, maybe, but it’s what it feels like to me.

An owner can watch all (or most) of the testing process from nearby, but doing so tells you nothing: What if they find some rust in an otherwise hidden spot? What if one of the tyre’s tread depth isn’t quite right? A burned-out tail light? Windscreen wipers?

Whenever I take my car in for a WoF, my mind goes over all the things that could be wrong—but they always never are actually wrong. This is how I get wrapped up in the test—a failing of the car would be my own personal failing—and then it doesn’t happen.

See, if I were rich, I’d make my staff take care of the warrant for me. No doubt about it. For me, it’s so bizarrely stressful that I’d gladly palm it off on someone else if I could. It’s just too nerve wracking to do myself.

But, as it happens, I—um, I mean the car—passed, and I don’t have to worry about it until April of next year. Time enough to get my nerves good and wracked all over again. That’s how a WoF works, sometimes.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A room with a view

I thought I posted this a couple weeks ago, but it turns out it only made it as far as Facebook. Oops. It’s the view from my sister-in-law’s new apartment on the eastern side of Auckland’s North Shore. Hard to make out in this photo, but it’s looking out toward the Pacific. Expect to see more photos from there, and the beach below, in the weeks and months ahead.

This also gives a small break from the more serious posts that have dominated recently. Everyone needs a break sometimes, even bloggers. But mine at least comes with a view.

Poll trends

One of the rules for studying elections is to pay less attention to any individual opinion poll than the overall trend. By that measure, a change of government in New Zealand next year is looking distinctly possible.

Today Roy Morgan released their latest poll, which found that Labour was steady on 37% and the Greens were up 1% to 12.5%. That means a Labour/Greens Coalition would get 49.5% of the vote, enough to form Government. The National Party, meanwhile, was down slightly (.5%) to 41.5%. All the minor parties, apart from New Zealand First, were below the 5% threshold to get into Parliament without winning an Electorate seat, leaving National with few if any potential coalition partners.

Taking the numbers apart a bit, Labour is now only 4.5 points behind National. Also, at 37%, Labour is at its highest poll rating since October of 2008—roughly a month out from the election that would change the government from Labour to National. In the next three years (2008-11), Labour struggled to hit 30% support. Since the 2011 election, Labour has been stuck in the low-to-mid 30s.

It’s aslo significant that the Greens gained ground: Pundits had been declaring that Labour’s rising support has been coming at the expense of the Greens, but the stability of Labour’s polling with the Green’s rising suggests it’s more complicated, and that unaligned voters may be moving away from National and toward Labour and the Greens. If both Green and Labour support continues to grow in future polls, then a change of government will become even more likely.

We’re still more than a year away from the next general election, and anything could happen, but so far the trend is favourable.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Notes on the 'scandal'

I couldn’t possibly care less about the fact that Auckland Mayor Len Brown had an affair with a 32 year-old-woman. It’s none of my business, or anyone else’s. Pretending it’s a big deal doesn’t make it so.

No one has alleged any criminal activity, though some on the right have tried to suggest it was unethical because Len was Mayor. This is an extremely sexist assertion because it implies the woman was powerless to resist the aura of the mayoralty, that she was too weak to say no.

The fact that the woman was on an advisory committee doesn’t make the mayor her “boss”, either literally or figuratively. In the recent election, she ran on the National Party’s local affiliate (and lost), so she’s clearly ambitious. She was using her position on the advisory panel to help advance her political career—something that’s not unique to her, of course.

She’s told the media that despite being a conservative politician wannabe, she and her family voted for Brown. None of us can prove who we voted for, so we’ll have to take her word for that. Even so, the president of the Auckland version of the National Party is the father of the rigthwing blogger and National Party propagandist who first published the allegations. The dad says he didn’t know of the affair and had nothing to do with passing the information on to his son. Maybe he’s telling the truth, maybe he isn’t, but the inescapable conclusion is that the revelation of this “scandal” is politically motivated.

The rightwing tried to defeat Len Brown. That rightwing blogger was relentless in attacking Brown and centre-left candidates for office. The dad, meanwhile, was on the campaign of the main rightwing challenger, the defeated American millionaire. So, they couldn’t defeat Brown at the ballot box, but they think they might get rid of him buy pushing this “scandal”; if they drive him from office, they think they can elect a rightwinger in the byelection that would follow. That’s their endgame, their motive for pushing this.

There’s nothing new here. For example, in 2006, it was revealed that Don Brash, then the leader of the National Party and Leader of the Opposition, had had an extramarital affair (a couple months later he resigned, but that wasn’t because of the affair, but instead because of revelations of his lying to the New Zealand public). The rightwing blogger who published the salacious allegations was himself named in court for being in an extramarital affair.

So, human beings—even politicians—sometimes act like human beings and—gasp!— make mistakes just like everyone else does. That’s hardly a hanging offence.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Massive Halloween

The photo above is of my local grocery store’s massive Halloween display. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. No, nothing has changed: Halloween in NZ is still DOA.

Despite the best efforts of retailers, Halloween has never taken off in New Zealand, which largely sees it as an American holiday, and having no relevance here. But this is nothing new for long-term readers of this blog: I’ve been documenting this for years.

The photo above shows what I’m pretty sure is the smallest-ever Halloween display in my local grocery store. Can it be many more years before there’s no display at all?

Halloween never took off in New Zealand for a lot of reasons. First, there’s the impression of “creeping Americanism”, that is, that US pop culture is taking over and drowning local culture. Personally, I think the bigger reason is that it’s in close proximity to a real holiday, Labour Day, which is the last Monday in October. So, you have an American holiday at the end of the month, one with no connection to New Zealand, or you have a PAID holiday with actual connection to New Zealand. Hm, which do YOU suppose would be embraced?

NZ’s rightwing religionists oppose Halloween for the same reasons as their American cousins, and are every bit as silly from a non-believer’s perspective. Considering that most of New Zealand is secular, most Kiwis would see religious objections to Halloween as, at best, irrelevant and, to be brutally honest, downright stupid. Which is why most Kiwis take no notice of rightwing religionists on this or anything else.

So, I’ve seen less Halloween this year than in many previous years. Whether this continues, and even if there’s contradicting evidence, remains to be seen. But for now, no, there’s really no Halloween as Americans understand the term.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sweet irony

Tonight I was checking out the online postings of some political adversaries, as I do from time to time, and I came across a blog post by my old pal Bob McCoskrie, the NZ rightwing Christian activist (screen shot above). The irony made me laugh out loud (yes, literally).

Nowhere in the article excerpt he published or the full article he linked to does Bob ever call the poll by National Party MP Phil Heatley a “self-selecting poll”; in fact, the only mention of it is in the headline to his blog post (his group’s website uses the same headline as the news article they’re excerpting and linking to). Even if he didn’t say it anywhere but in his blog post’s headline, he’s absolutely right—it WAS a self-selecting survey and as such, not particularly valid or useful as a measure of public sentiment.

The thing is, we’ve been down this road with Bob before—but he was the one to be criticised.

Back during the marriage equality debate, Bob constantly used self-selecting surveys—without ever mentioning that’s what they were—in order to “prove” that New Zealanders didn’t want marriage equality. I called him out for doing this specific thing back in December 2012. I also corrected Bob’s misinterpretation of real polling data in several blog posts, in addition to debunking other claims and misinformation that didn’t rely on polling data.

So, Bob’s really in no position to criticise someone else for using self-selecting surveys—unless he’s sworn off using them in the future, of course. But I certainly don’t remember seeing that if he has.

The real point here is that we all—left, right and centre—ought to agree to NEVER report self-selecting surveys as if they’re real polls. They might be mildly interesting, sometimes even amusing, but they’re never a valid way to determine public opinion about anything. Using them cheapens public debate and insults news consumers who don’t have the time or inclination to check out the validity of polls.

Bob McCoskrie was absolutely correct to warn about “the danger of self-selecting polls”. I just wish he’d learned that much earlier—and I hope he’ll remember that sage advice during the next political battle, whatever it may be.

Betty White and Air New Zealand

The video above is actually a flight safety video for Air New Zealand starring Betty White. She and other retirees demonstrate in-flight safety “old school”. It’s cute and mildly funny, as these Air NZ videos have been.

On one level, this is just another in a series of fun, playful safety videos. Studies have shown that passengers, especially frequent fliers, tend to tune out during the safety video, so Air NZ started mixing it up, injecting some fun into what is often a pretty dreary experience. So, there’s that.

But this is also a commercial: Air New Zealand is running a competition for a trip for two to Palm Springs (which has a lot of retirees…) or Hanmer Springs here in New Zealand. Running a competition using an inflight safety video is certainly an interesting approach. But I say, whatever gets people to pay attention is a good thing.

This video started popping up on my social media last week ago, when it had a few thousand views, and since then I’ve seen it posted or referred to dozens of times. Who am I to resist an Internet sensation?

As I post it here, it’s at 854,913 views. I wonder if any of them will remember the safety message…

Fix this politicians’ rort

One thing the recent local government elections demonstrated was how desperately reform is needed. For me, top of the list is fixing the election rort allowing double-dipping by Local Board members.

We need to change the law to prevent people from being elected to—and serving on and collecting salaries from—more than one Local Board at a time. This year, Grant Gillon was elected to both Local Boards he ran for and he will, indeed, serve on both and also collect two salaries. All voters should be outraged by this.

Yesterday, I said: “No one can do two Local Board jobs well or give adequate attention to two entirely different Local Boards. It’s an extreme disservice to voters in both Local Board areas.” While what Gillon’s doing is perfectly legal, it’s also true that not everything that’s legal is moral, ethical or right, and serving on two different Local Boards—and collecting two different salaries—is none of those things: It’s taking advantage of a loophole.

But Grant Gillon is not the issue here—he’s absolutely and completely irrelevant, in fact. Instead, the issue is that there’s no justification for allowing politicians to serve on more than one Local Board at the same time. Doing so cheats voters out of dedicated representation, which is what they were voting for.

Also, running for more than one Local Board, as many candidates did, was being dishonest to voters: How many voters would have voted for a candidate if they knew that, if successful, that politician would serve on multiple Local Boards and be paid multiple salaries? I’m certain that most voters believed that politicians could only serve on one Local Board—I did, and I’m reasonably well informed. After all, candidates elected to a Local Board and to the Auckland Council automatically give up their Local Board positions. I’m confident that most voters thought something similar was true for candidates elected to more than one Local Board, namely, that they could serve on only one Local Board.

We need a law change to fix this rort. While I still say that no one should be allowed to stand for more than one Local Board at a time, at the VERY least, no person should be allowed to serve on more than one Local Board at the same time.

Grant Gillon could do a lot to fix this problem in the short term: He could do the right and honourable thing and resign from one of the Local Boards he was elected to. Whether he does the right thing or not, the law must be changed to make sure that this never happens again.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Win some, lose some

The preliminary results for Auckland’s Local Government election are out, with some very pleasing results—and some not too pleasing results. This is what usually happens in a democracy.

I’ll start with the good news, and at the “top of the ticket”: Len Brown was convincingly re-elected Mayor of Auckland, receiving 162,675 votes. His nearest challenger, American-born millionaire John Palino, was more than 55,000 votes behind, with 107,672 votes. Palino was arguably the only “credible” challenger, which probably helped him. He also had some sort of reality TV show that was shown in New Zealand, and that may have helped him, too, though I never saw it, so I don’t know if it could have helped him or not.

No other Mayoral challenger got much above 13,000 votes, and most received far less.

In our Ward, Councillor Ann Hartley came in third (two are elected) with 12,931 votes. I was very disappointed by this, since I’ve been a strong supporter of hers for many years. Her running mate, Chris Darby, who I voted for, too, won his race—in fact, he came in first, ahead of the incumbent conservative Councillor George Wood (14,616 votes to Wood’s 13,982). Fourth place went to Grant Gillon (12,159), but no one else got above 10,000 votes.

For our Local Board, the results were mixed. Ann Hartley was elected, coming in second to Grant Gillon. The third-place candidate was my friend Richard Hills, which was for me one of the true highlights of the results. He’s worked incredibly hard as member of the Local Board, and he campaigned hard. I’m very pleased to see voters rewarded him for that—and I think it pretty clearly is voter recognition of Richard’s work: Local races, especially for Local Boards, suffer from low voter turnout, and very often people vote for names they’ve heard somewhere. But in our Local Board election, the only candidates who polled better than Richard were two senior, well-known politicians; I think that says quite a lot about the respect voters—rightly—have for Richard. He’s one to watch for the future.

Five of the eight members of the Local Board—a clear majority—are from the Kaipatiki Voice ticket that I supported. In addition to Grant, also elected was his son, John, and a fellow candidate from their “Team of Independents” slate. I didn’t vote for any of them. In addition to the Kaipatiki Voice candidates who won, another I voted for, Ben Rogers, lost. But, at least he defeated the out-of-district candidate from the Colin Craig Party (among others); that’s a good thing.

Both candidates I voted for on the Birkenhead Licensing Trust won: Scott Espie of Kaipatiki Voice and also Marilyn Nicholls. The candidate who lost was Merv Adair, who’s been on the Licensing Trust Board since 1974. Paula Gillon won the seat previously held by her father, Grant, who did not seek re-election to the Trust Board.

On the Waitemata District Health Board, all incumbent candidates were re-elected. I didn’t vote for any of them—or anyone else, of course, since I skipped that part of the ballot entirely on principle.

One particularly outstanding result is that the main job-shopping candidate, Mary-Anne Benson-Cooper, lost ALL the elections she stood in. This is a fantastic result, as far as I’m concerned, and it has nothing to do with politics—I have no idea what her ideology is. The reason this is such good news is that she ran for FOUR different Local Boards, Auckland Councillor in a different ward than us and also the Waitemata District Health Board. I think that when someone runs for so many different positions, especially in areas where they don’t even live, it shows contempt for voters. I don’t think candidates should be allowed to stand for more than one Local Board (and I think that they should live within it’s boundaries), so I think that Ms. Benson-Cooper got the result she deserved.

The other out-of-area job shoppers, Edward Benson-Cooper and Ivan Dunn both lost all the seats they stood for, too. However, Grant Gillon, who does live in our Local Board area, won both of the Local Board seats he ran for. As far as I can tell, he’s allowed to be on both Local Boards. If that’s true, it’s pretty awful: No one can do two Local Board jobs well or give adequate attention to two entirely different Local Boards. It’s an extreme disservice to voters in both Local Board areas. Does he also get two salaries? If he really is allowed to be on two Local Boards, then Gillon should do the honourable thing and stand down from one of the two Local Boards. (I’ll update this post if I find a definitive answer)

Another person I mentioned previously, Joe Bergen, came in a fairly distant fifth place for Auckland Council in our Ward, which leads me to suspect that some conservative voters may have hedged their bets and voted only for George Wood and no one else. He also almost lost his seat on the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board: He’s only back because Chris Darby won a seat on Auckland Council so gave up his seat on their Local Board; as the next-highest polling candidate (he came in seventh place), Joe then moved up and was elected. Close call.

The biggest loser of all was democracy itself: Only 34.33% of Auckland voters could be bothered to vote; in the Kaipatiki Local Board area it was an even worse 32.6%. There’s been a lot of discussion about how to fix this, but there’s no single solution. This is an important topic, though, so I’ll talk about it in a separate post.

So, congratulations to all the people elected, commiserations to those who were not. This is what democracy is all about: We decide who to employ or not, and of course we won’t always like the results of elections. But we should all be grateful that we have that to argue about: There are plenty of places in the world where such freedoms are unknown. The system is far from perfect, sure, but we have the freedom to fix it if we choose to. Because of that, we, too, are winners.

Important note: All vote totals I’ve listed are preliminary as of this date and may or may not change when the final results are announced. The link above should still take interested readers to the final results when they’re posted.

Update October 17, 2013: The Final Election Results were posted today. There were no significant changes in the races I talked about in this post.

Related posts:
I voted, 2013 edition
Local politics

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Can you tell?

In the video above, YouTuber MarkE Miller asks guys at his university if they think he’s gay. He finds that “guys just don’t give a shit”. Times have changed. The video follows up on a similar video from last month in which he asks girls if they think he’s gay.

This kind of thing was unimaginable when I was his age: Simply asking the question could’ve meant being beaten up—or worse. This is what I meant by “times have changed”. To be sure, there are areas—even in supposedly modern, advanced Western nations—where being openly gay is dangerous, even among university-aged folks. There’s still a violent homophobic (and in this case, that IS the correct word…) element in some places, the Deep South of the USA in particular (but not exclusively).

I think the most important thing isn’t that anti-gay hatred, bigotry and violence still exist—of course they do. Instead, the important thing is that for so many young people today, the fact that someone is gay simply doesn’t matter. That gives me hope.

I didn’t realise it right away, but I’d actually seen one of MarkE Miller’s videos a couple month ago when someone posted “Awkward Kissing” on social media. That video features him and the boyfriend he mentions in this video. After I realised that, I went back and watched their earlier videos. It still fascinates me the extent to which younger gay men are willing to put their lives “out there”. It fascinates me, to be honest, because in my day we were not.

Times have certainly changed.

Monday, October 07, 2013

I voted, 2013 edition

I’ve always thought that voting is a serious obligation, something that we must do as the price of living in a free society. With only a couple exceptions, I’ve never missed an election. I voted this year, too (photo above).

Recently, I wrote about the elections in our area, and some of the people I wasn’t voting for. There were, of course, some people I did vote for.

I voted for Len Brown for Mayor of Auckland. I was glad to be voting for him again. He’s been positive about Auckland and moving this city forward. Last time, he campaigned on developing public transport, and he stuck to his guns in the face of opposition from central government and ended up forging a deal.

One of the things that I don’t think he gets enough credit for is standing in the way of central government’s desire to take away our democracy. The National/Act Government was upset with the growth plans for Auckland, and wanted more rural land opened for housing developments. They threatened to legislate to take away Auckland Council’s power to regulate growth. In the end, Mayor Brown won what’s now called “The Housing Accord”, which keeps control of growth in the hands of Auckland Council and helps avoid urban sprawl and the huge costs to ratepayers that would have meant.

I feel strongly that Len Brown has done a good job as mayor and deserves another term.

In our Ward, we get two choices for Auckland Council. My first choice, again, was Ann Hartley. Ann is running for re-election, and I voted for her in 2010, too. I’ve known Ann professionally for many years now, and though we’re not friends, I’ve had the chance to see her work close-up. I volunteered for her winning 1999 and 2002 campaigns for Parliament (in 2003, we moved from Auckland for three years, so I wasn’t here in 2005). Through that, I’ve seen her passion and commitment to this area and to building consensus for a progressive agenda. Ann has done a good job as Auckland Councillor and deserves another term.

For my other choice, I voted for Chris Darby, with whom Ann’s running a cooperative campaign. I also voted for him in 2010, but he wasn’t elected to Council.

For our Local Board, a community board under Auckland Council, there were two particular stand-outs for me. First, Richard Hills. I voted for him in 2010, even though I didn’t know who he was, mostly because he was on the same ticket as other folks I was voting for. It turned out to be a lucky choice.

In the time since that election, I’ve gotten to know Richard personally, and I’ve come to know him as one of the most upbeat and positive people in politics. He’s been a tireless advocate for the Kaipatiki Local Board area, as well as for youth. What’s impressed me in particular is that when opponents have been, um, unhelpful, he’s stayed focused on progress and moving the community—and Auckland in general—forward. I’m sure there are times that he didn’t feel all that positive about what opponents were doing, but he didn’t let that affect his overall positivity.

The other standout for me is Lindsay Waugh, who is currently Chairperson of the board. I’ve gotten to know her through Facebook, and that combined with her positive work on the Kaipatiki Local Board has meant she gets my vote, too.

Richard and Lindsay are part of the Kaipatiki Voice ticket, all of whom I voted for. I don’t know most of them, but people I respect have recommended the ticket to me, and in a campaign in which most of us have no idea who we’re voting for, personal recommendation can mean quite a lot—they certainly do for this.

Finally, there’s the Birkenhead Licensing Trust, which deserves its own post. I voted for Kaipatiki Voice’s Scott Espie, and also Marilyn Nichols, both of whom were recommended to me. None of the others deserved my vote.

These people I’ve highlighted are all positive, trying to move the community forward. As a voter, this matters to me a lot. So many politicians spend so much time wallowing in negativity, attacking their opponents and dismissing their work, that when we see politicians who instead focus on the positive, I think it’s something that deserves to be rewarded with a vote.

At the end of my previous post on this election, I said:
“The good news is that despite it all, there are plenty of good, dedicated and conscientious local government politicians, people who care about and are committed to their communities. And it’s also good to know that we have many such people right here in our area. I’ll talk about some of them in future posts.”
This is that post, and these are the sort of people I was talking about—but only ones I can vote for. There are more from other areas that I wish I could vote for.

It’s not all positive, of course, and not just the people I didn’t—or wouldn’t—vote for: There was also the District Health Board. In the end, I voted for no one—I skipped it entirely. There was no one I could even rank 1, let alone any further. There were 35 candidates for 7 positions, and most of them are people I’ve never heard of. There might be some decent candidates amid that gaggle, but it’s not like I could know either way. And I realise that the extreme partisans will find it easier to elect their own when sensible people like me boycott that election, but there was nothing else I could do.

Local elections must be reformed, which is a topic I’ll return to another day. For now, for this year, I voted—again.

Footnote: Since I mentioned it, the one election I know for sure I missed was a local election here in Auckland when I came down with an inner ear infection that made the room spin; the last thing even I cared about was voting! I think I may have missed another local election back in Illinois when I was at university because I didn’t get the application for an absentee ballot (with no Internet back then, everything was done through the mail).

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Weekend Diversion: Jordan + Devon

Jordan + Devon from Crescent Bay Films on Vimeo.

The video above is a short film of the wedding of Jordan and Devon. I’m sharing it because every day ought to have a little love in it.

There are many short films like this, particularly on Vimeo, which seems to be the best place for them. Vimeo was “founded by a group of filmmakers who wanted to share their creative work and personal moments from their lives”, and now has millions of users. The videos are more professionally made than many of the ones on YouTube, and this particular one was made by a California company that makes wedding videos.

One of the best things about Vimeo, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t have the culture of negativity that YouTube has—comments on Vimeo seem to be more on point and far less inflammatory—actually, I’ve never seen a YouTube-style attack comment on Vimeo.

Of course, there are plenty of well-made videos on YouTube, too—though if it’s gay-themed in any way, I usually avoid the comments. If I see a link to a YouTube video, I’m never sure how good it will be. If I see a link to a Vimeo video, chances are it will be good. But that certainty can also be a bit intimidating for people who are still learning how to make videos.

In any case, I just liked this particular video, which I found through a link on social media. It’s a good example of the genre (if that’s the right word), and, besides: Every day ought have a little love in it.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Bella’s birthday

We have no idea when our cat Bella’s birthday really is, but we decided to make today, October 4, the date. It turns out, I’ve never done a post for her birthday before.

The photos accompanying this post are both of her sleeping. Most of the other photos I’ve posted have been of her awake, so this is a bit of a change. Plus, the photos I posted of Jake and Sunny on their recent birthdays were of them sleeping, so fair is fair. Besides, all children are cute when they’re asleep, right?

Ah, children: Pet owners without human children often think of their pets as being their de facto children. Obviously we know they’re not literally our children, but that doesn’t change anything: We still love them and they us.

I hadn’t realised that I’d never done a post about Bella’s birthday until I searched the posts tagged “Bella”. Since Bella adopted us, we have no idea when her real birthday is. So, we gave her a date exactly six months from Jake’s. When Sunny came to live us, her birthday was smack in the middle between the birthdays of Jake and Bella. They’re meant to live with us, it would seem.

Still, when Bella came to live with us, she was a bit wild—prone to unprovoked use of her teeth and claws against unprotected human hands. These days, that’s pretty rare. Sunny can harass her to an extent that none of the rest of us would ever get away with (they both seem to enjoy their rough play). More often than not, however, these days Bella is just sweet and loveable.

I’m swamped with work and family commitments this week, and have no time for blogging. But since I’ve never marked Bella’s birthday before, I felt I needed to make time for her right now.

Happy Birthday, Bella!