I’m not a prepper but I am now a preparer. Maybe some of those people fighting over toilet paper and complaining about porridge were on to something, even if their timing was off. A couple of weeks into the March lockdown I had to go to the supermarket and it took two and a half hours and it sucked.

So while I’m not getting all frenzied I’m quietly stocking up on some things, like batteries and propane to cook with and candles and water and some food and a couple more torches and some spare meds and yes, a few spare 18-packs of toilet paper.

kōrero

I’ve wanted to learn a second language for decades. I’ve considered German and Japanese and most recently Spanish, but I’m going with Māori. I had a paperback te reo guidebook about 20 years ago, barely used it for five years, spilt red wine on it in a caravan, and threw it out.

It makes sense for me to learn NZ’s first language. It’s all around me in the place names I always try to learn the meanings of. I already know and speak many words and some phrases. A few of my friends know a bit. l already use it every day. And now I want to dive in.

So I got Scotty Morrison’s paperback Māori Made Easy and it will help. I hope I spill red wine on it in a caravan too — this time I won’t throw it out. Time to get cracking.

E tata tapahi, e roa whakatū.

Another election done and dusted and hopefully that’s the last we’ll see of Winston. Any discussions of his legacy will be brief.

The left will be happy Labour got enough votes to govern alone. The right will be less happy but the positive for them is that Labour’s majority keeps the Greens’ hands off the big shiny levers. Act did better than expected and their challenge will be to keep their new MPs in line.

Labour’s challenge will be that but for Covid they would have been judged more harshly on their lack of delivery. Now they must deliver.

The media have been big winners too and have firmly cemented themselves as part of the system.

election day

Twenty-twenty has been a heck of a decade and like many people I have found it all a bit disconcerting. The escalating culture wars and the widening Left-Right divide left me searching for answers, and the ease with which progressives would seemingly do away with all that is good in western societies astounded me. While there are valid concerns with how our ageing democratic models now function and are in many ways corrupted, the answer is not to burn the whole edifice down and start again from the ashes. We need to progress to better ways of doing things while conserving all which is already good.

Things like free speech, scientific enquiry and even our flawed way of doing capitalism have made western democracies some of the best places for human well-being to have ever existed. This is objectively true by almost every measure that matters. Yet all these things are threatened because some people want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. When you combine herds of people who’ve been let down by educators and can’t think for themselves, with disingenuous politicians and an increasingly untrustworthy and economically compromised mainstream media, it can all seem very bleak for those of us who’ve done even some basic reading about human history and how humans in crowds can behave. Especially when we see things burning.

One thing I did was step back and take another look at how I think about democracy and the way our electoral system works. I’m starting to think democracy itself is the problem. If ninety uninformed people vote for something and ten informed people vote against it, that vote will pass. It’s easy to see where this could lead in these times of decreasing teaching standards and increasing political polarisation. But I don’t want my rights and the way I live my one life to be given to someone else, by way of popular vote contested by people I don’t trust. So this time I opted out. I didn’t vote for any political party or candidate. It was liberating. In fact it felt so good I’m pretty sure I’ll never vote in a general election again.

The alternative to democracy doesn’t have to be dictatorship, nor would I want it to be. Instead I’m wondering what societies might be like if we just let our current ways of doing government and media and schools fall away, and if people just got on with living their lives and let others do the same. People running their own lives and societies, associating freely with other people and other societies in what is truly a great time to be alive. Most people are at their core good, I think, and since people with like-minded interests tend to organise and cooperate and thrive, perhaps in this wonderful technological age we could get along better and live even healthier, happier lives. Perhaps.

Either way the silver lining in all of this is: I’m no longer disconcerted. I’m starting to see positives and humour — remember humour? — in the current disorder. The more ridiculous and hypocritical politicians and governments of all stripes become, and the more mistrusted and run down our corporate media and public educators become, the better. The fragmenting of political discourse and the obvious contradictions which lie within extreme political viewpoints may well help us to see through all the nonsense and find better ways of doing things, and of being. So bring on the fragmentation, but not the flames. And let’s keep talking.

“Thinky fun time.”

Blindness, by José Saramago 📚

An insightful look into human nature and what can happen when the thin veneer of civilisation slips, in this case into darkness. Some powerful moments, and don’t be put off by the weird style. #fiction

Hashtag media fail.

An earthquake, then a blackbird flapping trapped in the laundry. Possibly related.

Wellingtown I am in you.