Monday, 29 March 2010

progressive accountant

in a recent email conversation, i had occasion to specify one of the difficulties i have with my day job. as you will no doubt be aware, i'm a chartered accountant, and i mostly deal with tax.

if i do my job well, my clients will pay minimal tax. rest assured that everything i do is well within the law, but most of the rules i apply are only useful for those who are self-employed (or have a mixture of PAYE & self-employed income) and earn a reasonable income.

the problem is that when i do my job well, these people pay less. which means that someone else has to pay more. or, it means that there is less to spend on public services. when i do my job well, it actually goes against my personal priniciple of everyone paying their fair share. i'm pretty sure it's not good for the country either.

so how do i live with this inherent conflict between my job and my beliefs? well mostly, i just don't think about it. but i wonder if it's possible to be a good progressive and a good accountant?

in case you haven't caught up with my posts at the hand mirror, i wrote last week about how proposing in public isn't a good idea, why i won't be watching the movie eclipse, and what i felt about someone telling me they were a 6th generation nz'er.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

the good, the bad and the funny

i'm feeling pretty tired today, as i've had two after-work meetings already this week, one of which took up quite a bit of time and energy. so i'll just put down some random unconnected thoughts in a meandering kind of way.

hon paula bennet & rt hon john key have me totally depressed with the beneficiary bashing provisions of yesterday. it's just so awful, i mean really, our prime minister is talking about giving beneficiaries a "kick in the pants". yup, kick a dog while it's down. that'll save a whole lot of problems. anyway, julie, deborah, and irish bill have been more eloquent on this topic than i can be just now, so do read what they have to say. also a must read is this from the child poverty action group, showing how wonky the figures are. all i'm thinking is that i'm with the WINZ worker interviewed on tv1 today, who said she would move to australia rather than stay here and implement such policies. certainly, a country that allows these kinds of policies to be put in place is not attractive one in which to live.

just as depressing is the proposal to mine the country's natural heritage. the most precious land (which is why it's been put into schedule 4) is no longer safe. i really hope that there is massive protest if any kind of work starts. i'd be prepared to take unpaid leave to go and sit in front of some bulldozers, arthur dent style but hopefully with better results.

on a more positive note, i'm glad mr obama's health care plan has passed. flawed as it is and still leaving 15 million people without cover. as others have said, at least the bulk of the work is done, and the rest can be achieved by tinkering at the edges. i think this piece of legislation has secured mr obama's place in history - he has lived up to the change and hope he promised, even if it's not as much change as was needed. now, if he can get through some real reform into the financial sector, then he really will be something wonderful.

just a brief mention of the waitakere selection: congrats to carmel, really glad she won the selection and i think she'll do a wonderful job. commiserations to my friend ann pala, who is a wonderful woman contributing in major ways as president of the waitakere ethnic board and through her advocacy for safe driving via nixcrew which she set up.

and finally for some much needed light relief, if you haven't watched it, this series of clips showing the debate in the house yesterday on hon steven joyce's academic record is comedy gold. mr hughes was in especially fine form. enjoy.

Monday, 22 March 2010

end of indigo

i've had a busy week with the indigo festival, though nowhere near as busy as the organisers. i'd like to send a huge big thank you to those volunteer trustees of the indigo trust and all the other organisations who supported them. it was a fabulously full week of events, culminating in the festival day at the hamilton gardens on sunday.

i've been writing at the hand mirror, with a post on some good interviews broadcast by radio nz and one earlier this evening on the shoddy appointments process for the human rights review tribunal.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

being fashionable

i'm going to be in a fashion parade this week. yes, ok, you can stop laughing now. i know me and fashion (or should that be fashion and i?) don't go together well, but i do have a reason!

the parade is one of the events put on as part of the indigo festival in hamilton. this festival celebrates the "85 ethnicities" that live in hamilton, and includes a parade down the main street (happened on sunday), films every this week sponsored by a different community each night, a breakfast hosted by the chamber of commerce, and a fashion parade, amongst other things.

the so-called fashion that i'll be parading is part of a showcase of ethnic costumes. i'll be wearing a few of my abaya's with matching headscarves. i can call at least two of them fashionable in that i bought them this year so they must be the latest thing in muslim women's wear, right?

i've also been blogging at the hand mirror, with a post about the HRC report on hone harawira's outburst last year, and another one about job cuts at agresearch.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

overtaking john key

i shared bits of a challenging article by radha d'souza over at the hand mirror yesterday, and strongly recommend reading the whole thing.

in "cutting-of-your-nose-to-spite-your-face" news, i heard about this from facebook:

Coppola claims the visitors were left “stunned” and “incredibly upset” after a trip to the Back Country tourist store in Buckingham Street [in Arrowtown]. The cabbie says shopkeeper Ewan Jones told the party his policy was to let in only four “Chinese” at once, because he’d previously been ripped off by Chinese tour groups.

Coppola says after the alleged incident, he apologised to the shocked Malaysians – delegates to a large multinational healthcare conference in Queenstown. “What incensed me is I’ve been 30 years in the local tourism industry and these people are our bread and butter.”

i'm amazed at the sheer stupidity of this. nothing more needs to be said really.

and also on facebook, the "save radio nz" page now has over 19,000 fans and has surpassed the number of fans john key has. which is an achievement because it shows just how much support there is in this country for public broadcasting. let's just hope that the government listens to all of these people, and ensures radio nz has sufficient funding to continue doing what it does so well.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

it's not justice

and... still posting at the hand mirror. in the last couple of days i have one about parenting styles and another about kathryn bigelow winning the oscar for best director (though there's very little of my own work in that one!).

i felt a little depressed about this article over at scoop. it's in response to the verdicts in the navtej singh murder trial. while i can understand the disappointment over the verdicts for the defendants that weren't convicted of murder and manslaughter, the kind of fist-thumping over "law and order" (or justice policy, as i prefer) that is occurring over this does not bode well for the future of nz.

and i hate the bit about jails being like 5 star hotels. that can only be said by people who haven't had to stay in one for any reasonable length of time. this kind of vengeful mentality can only ever breed more violence. it's just not healthy.

the nub of the matter is that this community wants to feel safe, but so do we all. and if locking people up for longer and in more horrible conditions did that, well i'm sure most places in the world would be crime free. instead, the countries which practice the "lock-em-away" policies tend to be dictatorships with not much prosperity for the general population.

sigh. sometimes i feel like i'm just going to be washed away in this rising tide of anger, fear and hatred.

Monday, 8 March 2010

raising kids

i'm still busy posting over at the hand mirror, today about a conversation i had about kids starting at university. i'll have another follow-up post about that tomorrow morning.

in other news, i find that i agree with some of the things nigel latta is saying here (radio nz, afternoons, 15:10). not with everything mind, i don't want to sell my soul completely after all. but i thought this interview about fathers raising daughters was worth listening to.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

save radio nz rally

i've been busy posting at the hand mirror over the last few days - i've badly neglected my responsibilities there over the last few months! thanx heaps to julie for holding the fort, and getting up some great posts when she is also extremely busy. anyway you can read my thoughts about another bollywood film, books, and income splitting over there.

yesterday i went to the "save radio nz" protest outside david bennett's office in hamilton. by the way, if you haven't joined the facebook group yet, please do so here. and there is the petition addressed to the minister of broadcasting, which you can sign electronically here. i won't go into all the arguments against commercialisation of the station, because there's plenty on the facebook page, and you can also see here, here and here.

the protest was attended by about 30 people, and we got quite a few toots and waves in support. it was interesting to hear people talk about the importance of the station to their own lives. for many of us, it was our only news source from the MSM. for myself, i've stopped visiting the stuff and herald websites, unless someone links to something that i'm interested in, and i gave up on television news a long time back. in fact, i stopped watching around the time the bill clinton-monica lewinsky thing was happening, and decided that what they showed at 6pm was not "the news" but "the entertainment".

Thursday, 4 March 2010

my name is khan

oops, another longer than anticipated absence from the blog. unfortunately, once i get out of the rhythm of writing regularly, it seems pretty hard to get it back. and life also keeps getting in the way!

anyway, i went to see the film "my name is khan" a couple of nights ago, at centreplace in hamilton. i guess it's a sign of how "mainstream" bollywood is becoming, that films are now being released in the main cinema outlets. also helped now by the fact that bollywood blockbusters seemed to be much more designed for an international market.

i'd pretty much given up on bollywood films a while back. they just didn't appeal to me, mostly because of the stereotypes, the hyped up jingoism, the breaking into song and dance, the copying of scenes from top hollywood so that i felt like i'd already seen a better version, and their predictability. so i've watched very few in recent years, one of the exceptions being raincoat which was excellent, with no song and dance scenes and a very subtle but deeply moving storyline.

i wasn't planning on seeing this film, thinking that i've already seen too much of shah rukh khan, until i heard it reviewed on radio new zealand. so i went to see it tuesday night, and was blown away. not something i'd expected from bollywood at all.

obviously i connected with the storyline, as it related to the experience of muslims in america post 9/11. of course, we've been lucky in new zealand, in that we haven't suffered the kind harassment that american muslims faced. i think the character i most related to was the shopkeeper who was shown periodically during the film, with people hurling abuse at him at his shop door. it's that sort of regularly occurring event that grinds you down, that slowly sucks away at your soul.

also relevant was the scene where a woman's hijab was pulled off. i know this happened to women here in nz, particularly in christchurch. so again, it was a situation that i deeply identified with and found quite moving.

the biggest thing about the film though, was shah rukh khan coming back to his roots. i remember reading one of his earliest interviews in filmfare (the indian version of women's day), where he predicted that he would rule bollywood (as he has done for many years), and described himself as an atheist. he said he had lost any faith he may have had after the death of his mother, and this is the position that he stuck to for many years. it was no doubt helpful to his career, as being overtly religious would have been a barrier to him (see below), but i have no doubt that he was sincere in his beliefs.

i haven't read any recent interviews, and i'd gone off gossip mags a long time back, so haven't read about his recent thoughts on his own beliefs. yet i was surprised during this interview (and also part 2) to hear him use the words "inshaAllah" (God-willing) a couple of times. you would never have heard this from him some years back. the issue for me is not whether he believes, but that he seems to be wearing his muslim identity as something to be proud of. it's a big change, and a heartening one from my position.

the reaction from extremists in india to this film has been predictable:

After promising to allow the release of Shah Rukh Khan's 'My Name Is Khan', Shiv Sena did a volte-face on Tuesday as its men went on the rampage attacking movie halls across Mumbai where advance bookings for the film had opened...

As Sena goons hit Mumbai streets, My Name Is Khan's producer Karan Johar, distributors and multiplex owners asked the cops to intervene. Over 350 Shiv Sainiks were arrested across the city as a preventive measure. Sena men posing as cinegoers bought tickets to a show of 'Striker' at Metro cinema and entered the hall and tore the screen in the evening. Earlier in the day, Shiv Sainiks barged into Huma Adlabs and tore up the screen during a show of '3 Idiots'. They even threatened those at the booking counter, a couple who had come to book tickets at the Kanjurmarg multiplex said. The booking counter of Mehul Cinema at Mulund was ransacked, additional commissioner of police (east region) Ritesh Kumar told TOI.

the only possible word to describe these actions is terrorism. but you'll notice that that word does not appear in any of the articles. these attacks haven't been reported in the nz media, but any readers of the hand mirror may remember these extremists as the ones who were attacking women for going to pubs in india, which led to the pink chaddi campaign.

in any case, i strongly recommend this film. as the radio nz reviewer said, it's very bollywood with the overblown emotions and a bit of mix between "forrest gump" and "i am sam", but still a fantastic story, very well executed. unfortunately it won't be screening in hamilton any more, though it may still be on in auckland. but i'm sure it will be out on dvd soon.