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The parallels are scary, the apathy is the same - Tactical Ninja

Apr. 11th, 2013

10:20 am - The parallels are scary, the apathy is the same

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Yesterday afternoon, post-interview...

Me: How did it go?
Him: No clue. I have no basis for comparison, remember?
Me: Fair enough. ;-)

Kid always was kind of literal. Also, it's weird how both of us were thinking a lot about his Grandma yesterday. Milestones, I guess. Hmm.. anyway, he'll hear on Monday. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, last night I dreamed that I took the kids of which one is my godson (yes, someone was misguided enough to ask me to be a godparent) to visit friggasmuse, who has three children and another one coming. Our task was to clear her spinach patch of 'spikers' - tiny rodents that look like little hoppy hamsters with horns. This involved crawling through the spinach on our bellies, commando style, making loud yelping noises. Has to be done twice a day, apparently. So, um, friggasmuse watch out for spikers in your spinach patch! And then, because there were babies, there was poo and it all turned a bit icky and reminded me why I'm glad my offspring is pretty much an adult now. Yep.


A book of fairy tales, no less. It's from my childhood, and is this one - All But A Few by Joan Aiken. I bought it second hand recently because I read these stories to death when I was a kid, and wondered if I'd feel the same about them as an adult.

Long story short, I do. And I'm also struck by how Very Very British they are. They were written in the 1950s, and have that archaic style of language that combines the ridiculous with the understated - "Presently, Jane began to feel very queer, and looking down, noticed that she had somehow grown a long, scaly tail. Being a cheerful sort of girl, she was not upset, and carried on her way whistling, after carefully replacing the snuff box she had knocked off the occasional table." That sort of thing.

I haven't encountered that style of language outside of a particular kind of children's fiction written in the UK prior to about 1970. And it seems I spent a lot of my childhood reading that sort of thing. It kind of reminds me of my Dad, too, in that the stories are much more about the story than they are about the ending. Joan Aiken's endings are often a short, trite paragraph that seems tacked-on because you have to put one, and after this fantastical adventure of storytelling leading to some kind of climax, it's kind of deflating. As if she's more interested in the characters and what they did than how it ended. I mean really, who cares about what happened to the haunted terrace at Gramercy Chase after the unicorn and the raven did their race along it and set fire to all the choir books and got on the national news? I mean really, how do you finish that?

Anyway, I'm struck again by her ability to build characters and convey emotions in her writing, and I'm wondering if she wrote any adult fiction that anyone here would recommend - and if it has the same magic. Anyone?


Meanwhile, I've read a few things about Margaret Thatcher this week (perhaps not surprising), and as I've read them, particularly the descriptions of her policies, I'm struck by the similarities between those policies and the ones our current government espouses. Check out Wikipedia:

Lowered direct taxes on income and increased indirect taxes - check.
Reduced expenditure on social services such as welfare, education and housing - check, check, check.
Cuts in higher education spending - check.
Increased unemployment - check.
Extractive industries (oil especially) as the saviour of the economy - check.
Reducing the power of unions - check (particularly student unions).
Undermining employees' rights - check.
Sacking shitloads of miners - check.
Sale of state assets against the will of the people - check.
Attempts to change the voting system to allow easy retention of power for current government - check (MMP referendum anyone?).

Never mind the increased surveillance, misuse of urgency to pass laws without scrutiny, cronyism, retrospective law changes to legalise shady doings by government agencies, amnesia on dodgy dealings, and moves to make it possible for the military to act against the population in times of protest.

So, um - where is the outrage? Or do we have to wait till John Key is dead before we express our anger?

Comments:

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From:rivet
Date:April 10th, 2013 10:38 pm (UTC)
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Those things were shocking when she did them, because she was a pioneer of neoliberalism. Now they are part of a prescription accepted by the right. After all, it works for their side: look how much richer they are than they were before?
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From:tatjna
Date:April 10th, 2013 10:42 pm (UTC)
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Sandra Grey, who was my lecturer for a couple of my Social Policy courses, has some pretty interesting theories about the union-busting and individualist rhetoric of that era, and how it's affected:

a) our ability to take collective action
b) willingness to accept collective action as legitimate.

I would add c) our acceptance of this type of policy as inevitable and ourselves as powerless. We protested the fuck out of it in the 80s and 90s and they still did it to us, and we suffered. We have been conditioned to believe that we can't change it.
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From:rivet
Date:April 10th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
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This is Gramscian hegemony in action: if people believe in its inevitability, they'll oppress themselves for you!
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From:tatjna
Date:April 10th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
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And that's why I get angry when people assume that folks not voting in times of high inequality is a simple matter of individual stupidity.

Having said that, young people are notorious non-voters (probably due to systemic disempowerment and marginalisation) - but my one can't wait till he's got that chance.
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From:pundigrion
Date:April 11th, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC)
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That is pretty much Canada in a nutshell...

Plus you have the ABC parties...anything but Conservative (Our current party) who are more alike than different but couldn't find it within themselves to compromise and form a coalition. Instead you have more people overall voting NDP and Liberal but since we use first past the post, the Conservatives still win.
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From:tatjna
Date:April 11th, 2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
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Our problem is that our two main parties are pretty much the same thing - colloquially known as National and National Lite. There's a third party (the Greens) that has been gaining ground over the last few years under MMP, and I think will be a strong force in the next election. Or, I hope they will, because otherwise we're a bit fucked.
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From:ms_hecubus
Date:April 10th, 2013 10:56 pm (UTC)
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I was so intrigued by the spikers until I realized you said it was a dream!
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From:tatjna
Date:April 10th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
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In my dream, so was I. Here, a spiker is a term for a young deer that hasn't developed full antlers yet, so I was expecting something that looked like a dik-dik:

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From:pombagira
Date:April 10th, 2013 11:19 pm (UTC)
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nawww, can we have one for our office?


:)
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From:tatjna
Date:April 11th, 2013 12:32 am (UTC)
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Only if we can have one too...
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From:ethel_aardvark
Date:April 11th, 2013 01:05 am (UTC)
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Joan Aiken did write adult fiction, and a whole lot of longer novels for young adults. A lot of the adult fiction is period drama, and quite mixed. Some is fantastic, and some not so much. It's also hard to get hold of, I think the Wellington Library only has her Jane Austen follow-ons now, rather than her other stuff. Some of the YA novels are good. I was rather fond of the Wolves of Willoughby Chase and The Stolen Lake as a kid. I still think the fairy tale collections are good, and are probably toward the better end of her writing.
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From:downwardlashes
Date:April 11th, 2013 06:05 am (UTC)
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Definitely read Diana Wynne Jones. She sounds almost exactly like that! I adore her books.
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From:meathiel
Date:April 11th, 2013 04:33 pm (UTC)
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The books of fairy tales sounds lovely ... I just checked on Amazon and there are actually some books available - though funny enough more German translations than English ones ...
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From:friggasmuse
Date:April 11th, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Haha, rad!
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