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Friday frivolity - it's for breakfast! - Tactical Ninja

Feb. 25th, 2011

09:56 am - Friday frivolity - it's for breakfast!

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Today's cool thing: the fact that the Vodafone people thought of people in Christchurch needing to charge their phones and top up prepays and are providing this service today (outside Hornby Mall apparently).

Other cool thing: China Mieville. Yes yes, I know, everyone else knew this already. But I am still going to broadcast it as if it's news. Nyah.


Last night I finished making my presentation for Nerdnite. Last week I finished my most recent course. I don't have anything brain-eating coming up for at least 5 days. This means FICTION!

I don't get to read a lot of fiction these days because mostly I'm reading about about gnarly social issues or how to work applications I've never seen before. I had a brief foray into the world of Chinese fiction while in Hong Kong, and haven't read any fiction since then. Till now. Just before Christmas, Will-who-used-to-be-known-as-rikan-feral, and Happy got together and loaned me a reading list that I have dubbed Classics of Scifi For The Edification of Tats. I can't remember what's in this pile now - I know there's a variety of authors - but the one on the top was Perdido Street Station.

.. and as I write this, the courier drops off two books I ordered from Mighty Ape last week. They are huge. I am sorted for reading material for the rest of the year.

So anyway, Perdido Street Station. I'm not going to do spoilers here, mostly because I've only read the first 20 pages or so - they are densely typeset and I can't believe how little I've read for the amount of time I've spent reading. I suspect I'm going to appreciate this factor by the end, because I'm getting drawn into this story on multiple levels.

The author seems to be doing his best to paint a picture of a flawed world filled with flawed characters, bordering on the kind of flawed that makes you curl your nose up. The story opens on a description of a city through the eyes of someone who is nauseated by it, then zooms in to a character who is described as 'a dirigible', who is sitting in bed picking a parasitic grub out of his arse crack and eating it.

At which point I'm going "Um.. is this book going to turn me into a misanthrope? Even if half the people in the story are not actually human people? Because ew!"

And then suddenly this stiflingly unsavoury world the author's dropped me in folds in on itself as he describes the interaction between arse-crack guy and his red, insect-headed lover and somehow brings their deep affection to life in a way that makes me go "Awww.." And suddenly I like these people, and care about what happens to them. And so the book moves on as he creates layers of texture to his world and his people and I find myself wanting to step into this world and go exploring.

So yeah, 20 pages in I think I get what the big deal is with China Mieville. Of course, given that he's surprised me several times already, he may very well turn around and do something else completely in the next chapter. I suspect he'd be an interesting guy to talk with. Also, he's kind of hot in a Christopher Eccleston crossed with Henry Rollins kind of way!

Oh yeah, there'll probably be themes and metaphors and shit too (in this author's case probably literally about the shit), but I haven't read enough to periscope my view of the storyworld out that far yet.

Did I mention he's hot?


La la la..

Meanwhile, over in Frogblog, the Green Party just suggested a levy on earners over $48,000 of 0.5-2% extra in your tax, to help alleviate the cost of repairing Christchurch's infrastructure. I have no doubt there are people who would jump up and down about such a thing, but as an earner in one of the brackets they cover in their tables, I am totally fine with paying more tax to make sure the money to pay for rebuilding doesn't instead come from cost-cutting* in government.

Of course I do fear that under our current government we'd pay more tax and they'd keep 'cost-cutting'.

* 'cost cutting' is government speak, generally, for 'crapping on the poor and marginalised'.

I'll be at Fidels tonight, seeing how fast I can metabolise caffeine.

Comments:

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From:phaetonschariot
Date:February 24th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
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I love Greens more and more right now. Meritiria Turei
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From:tatjna
Date:February 24th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, that's an awesome speech. I suspect they'll get more votes at the next election what with Labour turning into a non-starter before our very eyes and National being the Vote To Be Poor Forever party.
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From:phaetonschariot
Date:February 24th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
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I really hope they come up with some really shitty proposals for recovery (that manage not to get passed) because usually a natural disaster this close to an election basically guarantees a win for the people already in power. They only have a limited time to say the right words and get camera time.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 24th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
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I'm kind of liking the vocabulary-factory-explosion-factor.

Just saying.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:February 25th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
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I find myself intrigued at whether I'd enjoy him or find his writing annoying. In the same way I find academic papers annoying when they use complicated ways of saying simple things.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 25th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
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For what it's worth, I'm finding the vocabulary rich rather than noticeably pretentious, and since I'm supposedly a master at the art of simplification-through-choosing-precise-words, you should listen to me.

;-)
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From:tatjna
Date:February 25th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
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Since your qualifications are in something unpronounceable and incomprehensible (to everyone except those under the influence of huge blocks of chocolate), I suggest we seek independent counsel from someone who speaks entirely in cockney rhyming slang.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:February 25th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)
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HAVE A BANANA! OI!
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From:t_c_da
Date:February 24th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
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(in this author's case probably literally about the shit)

A couple of days ago I tripped over this delightful couple of sentences, which I'm dying to share with someone, in this case you and your readership...

"Triploblasts played a crucial role in evolution, precisely because they did have internal organs, and in particular they could ingest food and excrete it. Their excreta became a major resource for other creatures; to get an interestingly complicated world, it is vitally important that shit happens."

from Chapter 24 of The Science of the Discworld" by (Sir) Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen, 1999, Ebury Press.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 24th, 2011 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Hahaha, that's awesome!
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From:thatgirljj
Date:February 24th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
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I feel like I'm the only person sitting around going "Yeah, I'm in XYZ tax bracket and I'd be OK paying for PDQ." In Amurikka that's not a popular sentiment.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 24th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
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I don't know how popular it'll be here either, but in everything on the subject that I've looked into, the populations with the best health, education and lifestyle outcomes also seem to be the ones with higher taxes and socialised support systems - and I'm all for us getting better outcomes.
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From:t_c_da
Date:February 24th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
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the money to pay for rebuilding doesn't instead come from cost-cutting* in government.

Or from flogging the family silver (as has been mentioned in some quarters). That (flogging the silver ) could be fine for this time, but what happens when the next earthquake comes along (and come along it will, one can bet on it)? No more silver to flog - oops! Much better to put on a little tax which is clearly earmarked for disaster recovery, even if it is used to rebuild the EQC kitty once CHC is paid for...
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From:richdrich
Date:February 24th, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC)
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I'd favour collecting some of the tax that big corporates are "legally" evading. (e.g. Infratil, paying 10% tax).

A turnover tax on any firm with NZ revenues over $100mln would do the trick.

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From:wildilocks
Date:February 25th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
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I intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
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From:dreadbeard
Date:February 24th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
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Perdido St Station is fun. Mieville's blog is a surreal mix of, well, the surreal, and rather esoteric snarky political commentary.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 24th, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC)
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LINK PLZ KTHXBYE!
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From:tatjna
Date:February 25th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
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OK, having found his blog all by myself, I am now reading it and going O.o
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:February 25th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
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As someone that does their own accounting and has been constantly on the receiving end IRD screwing up payment amounts, I am reticent about giving them more changes to tax law to try to comprehend and not fuck up.
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From:t_c_da
Date:February 25th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
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Maybe the key is to remove all the complimicated exemptions and loopholes that enable the big corporations to minimise their tax obligations. That should make it easier for IRD to not screw up...
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From:wildilocks
Date:February 25th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
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China Mieville is so incredibly buff, it's almost alarming in person (he was at Worldcon in Melbourne last year.) He just does not fit the mould of "SF author" in any way.

He uses the word "chitin" and its' derivatives too much for my liking.
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From:syn_abounds
Date:February 25th, 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
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Mieville is brilliant. After Perdido Street Station (and The Scar and Iron Council, the other two books set in that world though only loosely connected), you should definitely read Kraken. It's absolutely fantastic and my favourite of the five books of his that I've read. Now that I think about it, you'd probably enjoy King Rat as well. Amusingly, a copy of that is sitting on my work's shared bookshelf, in amongst the Sharon Osbourne autobiographies and the trashy chick lit books. No idea if anyone's had the balls to read it. I wonder what subversive person brought it in...
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From:maholic
Date:February 26th, 2011 06:47 am (UTC)
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putting a tax on PAYE will tax the middle class and all poor working overtime

meanwhile all the farmers, business's, bankers , rich people pay 0% from such a tax

its beyond stupid, but a poor persons mentality is to tax income tax, but that doesnt tax rich people, so the greens are just politicking(sp) to get voters, and are just wanting to harm people who arent actually that well off while the rich won't pay a dime more...

the fairest way is to just put a currency tax on the NZD, so thereby foreignors running money through this country get dinged at say 0.1%, that would also stabilise our currency a bit and help the entire economy out as the trillion dollars that runs through our currency system would yield quite a lot of money with such a currency tax... countries like brazil and others already have this sort of tax in place, it doesnt stop the speculators but it does give them revenue from traders activity

the downside is, less foreingors will want to buy the 300million + dollars a week this government is borrowing to keep paying for the socialist welfare state we live in, thereby probably raising the interest rate on out debt we sell and costing us more money on that side of the ledger... though i still think the currency tax would be a net positive income overall



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From:maholic
Date:February 26th, 2011 07:14 am (UTC)
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disclosure i am on the lowest tax bracket, so would not be affected by such a suggested tax

i also don't believe in PAYE tax, it is unfair on the mass's , tax's should be structured around

a/ trading
b/ capital
c/ currency
d/ consumption

PAYE tax was implemented in most countries as a one off surcharge to tax the rich, a long time ago... nothing is a one off, it stays for a VERY long time, and gets increased in most instances depending on who is in power at the time

one thing that will increase is everyones EQC levies, home owners be warned, thats the real tax kicker, probably kick renters too if there wasnt such a flood of rental apartments already driving rentals down


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From:tatjna
Date:February 26th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
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How do you manage to say such sensible things while sounding so pompous?
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From:maholic
Date:February 26th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
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dunno, was in a funny headspace

in summary though i think eqc levies could easily double to 0.1% of the house value, vs the 0.05% currently , though it only currently applies to the first 100,000 of a house, so would go from $50 to $100 (or they increase the value it covers from the first 100,000 to a higher amount, though i don't see this happening, even though that 100,000 amount should have been indexed to house price values in some formula a long time ago as the amount of a house it covers now vs when it was first put in place is quite neglible (used to cover probably most of the nz housing market originally) now its barely 25% of a house value , while the private insurer has to cover the rest

private insurers will likely bump house insurance 25% or so depending on the re-insurers cost increases being passed along, that is 100-xxx$ more cost there

one caveat, just as well nz does not have insurance like california, where e/q insurance is a seperate cover at upto 1% of the house value per annum, aka 500k home 5k insurance cost per year to cover the e/q risk...

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From:tatjna
Date:February 27th, 2011 11:02 am (UTC)
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I do? I should hunt it up and get it back to you.
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