beautiful monsters: November 2004 Archives

November 19, 2004

two more...



Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:58 AM | TrackBack

November 18, 2004

sorry digested

Ok, so it wasn’t quite forever huh?* Yeah, I'll probably still show my face around here, but much more occasionally. And I’m not going feel as though I should blog about the foreshore bill. Someone over on Public Address will probably do that better than I…

I just wanted to point anyone who hasn’t been over there to, because really it’s is quite a heartwarming spectacle. The site was set up so that Americans could apologise for the reelection of Bush.

What it actually does is put a face to the “other” Americans. Even though I have dual citizenship with America, it’s so easy to lump all Americans together, and hate them all. I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of a bit of American bashing from time to time… but that’s in the past.

Of course, there will always be the kind of Americans who are aggressively unapologetic while waving guns around... These images were on the site that has disappeared. Fortunately someone saved some, and even added commentary.

And now there's even a site called

If you can’t be bothered trawling through the site yourself, here are some of the edited highlights. But I recommend having a look yourself. See if you can find me - somewhere in the late 400s...





































* This post may actually have something to do with the fact that I got listed in Net Guide, and, well, imagine if people actually looked up the page, and there was just this goodbye note...

Priorities are still settling into place.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:11 PM | TrackBack

November 12, 2004


Things have kinda been a mess lately, but I’m trying to put them right.

I have this piece of paper pinned to my wall by the computer that says, “recovery is my number one priority.” And I realised today what that means.

It means that trying to please everyone cannot be my number one priority.

And it means that worrying about whether creepy guys are going to do icky things to other people because I didn’t stop them… cannot be my number one priority.

And updating my blogging, and blog traffic, and comments, and having something really witty and insightful to say about the US elections… none of this can be my number one priority.

Cos I can only have one number one.

I might keep blogging. I might not. I dunno. I’ll leave it sitting here in case it feels like the right thing to do. But I’m switching off comments. Cos I’m so sick of spam. It makes me sick. And cos some of the comments lately have really upset me. And I’m kinda fragile at the moment. Like I read some comment some stranger has written on my blog, and I feel like I’m falling to pieces. I think, well, I think I could get through this if I got really wasted. Either that or I could jump off a bridge.

I’m not meaning to sound like I’m blaming someone… not saying anyone has pushed me to this. I was already teetering on the edge. I’m just saying I’m a mess. I can’t handle life. I need to be around people who will be loving and accepting and gentle. I’ve met a lot of loving, accepting, gentle people thru blogging. But it’s too hard to avoid the people who are not.

So I guess it’s goodbye, for now.
Might catch ya later.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:09 PM

November 09, 2004


That was my last assignment. Not just for the year. For my BA. Assuming that I pass everything, I never have to sit another exam in my life. I never have to do a close reading, or a comparative analysis, ever again. Unless I want to. Ha!

My mum came down and dragged me through the last stretch. “Ok, if you’re to fall apart and have to go to hospital again, that’s fine, but just write another 500 words first.” She did the dragging, I did the kicking and screaming.

I had the Rainbow Room on Sunday morning, and then on Sunday afternoon I suddenly realised I had nothing to do until the next Sunday morning. Well, not so much that I had nothing to do, but that I had nothing that I had to do.

I could paint a picture. Read a book. Not a study book. Watch Shrek 2 on DVD. Go to the beach. Go to frigging Australia if I wanted to.

So far the only one I’ve accomplished is watching Shrek 2. In bed.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:02 AM

November 08, 2004

Blogging as autobiography

A weblog, or simply a blog, is a web application which contains periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts on a common webpage (Wikipedia).

History of blogging

Weblogs have been around as long as the web. The first website, built by Tim Berners-Lee, consisted of dated entries, and linked to other websites as they were created. It is archived at the World Wide Web Consortium. More weblogs soon began to spring into being. At the beginning of 1999 there were only 23 known to be in existence (Blood). In July of the same year, Pitas, the first free D.I.Y. tool for creating weblogs, was launched. Soon there were hundreds of blogs.

Changing definitions

On September 7 1999 the Chicago Tribune had an article by Julia Keller, defining a blog as "a Web site that maintains a constantly updated list of links to other sites; those links can deal with any subject or focus on a particular one. Webloggers typically offer pithy, sarcastic commentary about the links." This form of blog is still prevalent, but the definition of blogging has expanded to include new forms. As Rebecca Blood notes, "While weblogs had always included a mix of links, commentary, and personal notes, in the post-Blogger explosion increasing numbers of weblogs eschewed this focus on the web-at-large in favor of a sort of short-form journal." (Blood) These blogs consist essentially of personal diary entries, but they can be accessed by anyone with a web connection.

What does blogging offer?

John C. Dvorak suggests that there are five reasons why bloggers blog: Ego gratification, Antidepersonalization, Elimination of frustration, Societal need to share, and Wanna-be writers. On the subject of Antidepersonalization he elaborates by saying that "When people begin to think that they are nothing more than a cog in the wheel of society, they look for any way to differentiate themselves. The Web log proves they are different. Just read it. You'll see."

Blogging is a unique tool, because it allows people to share their stories in the public arena, but, unlike most forms of publication, the content is not censored. Bloggers can write about anything, regardless of how controversial, unpopular or inflamatory their views may be. Or how mundane. For this is the other important feature of blogging; blogs are not (generally) sold. There is no publisher hovering in the background worrying about profits. There is no one to say "you can't write about what you had for breakfast - nobody wants to read about that." And so, through blogs, we may catch a glimpse of ordinary moments in the lives of ordinary people. People who wouldn’t normally have the chance to share their stories with the world.

Autobiography - coming to you live from...

One personal blog became a global media phenomenon, as the bombs fell on Iraq, and a young man living in Bagdad blogged his first-hand experiences of the war.

The 29-year-old architect began the blog as a way of communicating with a friend who was studying in Jordan. Posting under the pseudonym "Salam Pax," he soon found that as someone blogging in English from the Arab world, his was a unique voice. By criticising Saddam Hussein, he risked becoming one of the thousands who "disappeared" during the regime. By openly writing about being gay, Salam Pax further risked his own safety. The anonymous nature of blogging protected him. ""I am not going to be the first one to carry the flag," he says. "I hide behind computer screens." (Guardian)

In the days leading up to the war major international newpapers picked up on the story, but mostly it was other bloggers who flocked to Salam Pax's blog in the thousands. Blogging provided the opportunity for people around the world to understand what it was like to be living in a country that was about to be attacked. Usually the personal stories of war are told long after the bombing has ceased, but here was an ordinary guy telling his story in real time. We were reading about the events as they actually occurred. His story was personal, and suspenseful. Unlike a book written after an event, we had no idea how the war was going to end, or whether the narrator would survive. Waves of concern spread through the bloggosphere if he had not updated for a few days. Had the phone connections been blown up, or had something worse happened?

8:30pm (day4)
we start counting the hours from the moment one of the news channels report that the B52s have left their airfield. It takes them around 6 hours to get to Iraq. On the first day of the bombing it worked precisely. Yesterday we were a bit surprised that after 6 hours bombs didn’t start falling. The attacks on Baghdad were much less than two days ago. We found out today in the news that the city of Tikrit got the hell bombed out of it. To day the B52s took off at 3pm, on half an hour we will know whether it is Baghdad tonight or another city.

Only ten days into the war all internet access was closed down, but Salam Pax continued to write, saving his postings until the internet was available again.

Many people doubted that Salam Pax was a real Iraqi - many sceptics were supporters of the war, who disliked his criticisms of US involvement. In time, however, phone calls, meetings and interviews confirmed his authenticity.

There were other warblogs, ranging from BBC correspondents, American supporters of the war, and soldiers. But it was Salam Pax's real-time autobiography that had the most impact, and that made the war real for us, in a way that the mainstream media never could.

Diverse voices

Blogging provides an opportunity for a diverse range of people to air their views. Because a blog can be as anonymous as you want it to be, it is an ideal form for minority groups, those who are denied a voice in the mainstream media, or who risk facing prejudice if they are open about their views. The queer community is one group that has a strong presence in the blogosphere.

Robin Reagler is a lesbian woman living in Houston, Texas. As the non-biological parent of baby Pearl, she writes a blog called The Other Mother, capturing the every day details of pearl’s childhood. This is the sort of journal that many parents keep during the first weeks, months and years of their children’s lives. But Robin also writes about issues that are unique to lesbian parents – such how she ended up being the “other mother” and not the birth mother, as well as moments of lesbian parenting life in Texas.

You know you're the real thing when they write it on your cup at Starbucks: Robin / Pearl's Mom.

You are not alone

Many people experience the feeling of being utterly alone in the world. But by writing our experiences on a blog, we often find there are others who share our feelings. Perhaps because of the indirect nature of blogging – typing into a box rather than sharing with someone face to face – many people find it an easy way to share very personal experiences. And because the internet is so vast, the chance of finding someone else with similar struggles is so much higher than in any face to face situation.

“Phreq” writes a blog called Plasticwrap, in which she posts about what is currently going on in her life, and shares personal challenges.

So I went to see the Eating Disorders service. They are quite tough. They require you to sign up to two sessions a week - if you miss two, you get booted from the programme - and they also make you carry a diary around with you and record everything you eat and drink, immediately, for 20 weeks. The thought of that just freaks me out like I can't explain.

Entries like this, written in the moment, and with such honesty, help others to know that they are not alone in their struggles. Readers are able to post comments, or email the writer, or write their own blog entry and link to the original. Communities are built, advice is shared, and friendships blossom.

The Future

In 1999 Greg Knauss wrote “…how can you not boggle at the level of self-delusion, of self-infatuation, it takes to declare that weblogs… will be alive and well a decade from now? That weblog readership will increase a hundred-fold in that time? That they're an art form?” We’re only halfway through that decade, but the self-infatuation does not seem to be fading away. Some bloggers have lost interest and drifted away, but the majority have not run out of things to say.

Blogging is only available to those who have access to the web, and this of course is one of the limits of blogging. Although we can now share many stories that would not otherwise be told, there are still many more waiting for the opportunity: poverty-stricken people in the Third World or oppressed groups in some societies for example.

Are weblogs autobiographies?

Blogs are very different from traditional forms of autobiography. They are not carefully revised and edited, often they are posted in the heat of the moment. They are most similar to diaries, which are sometimes published (Anne Frank for example). But diaries are usually published because the person has become famous, or because they lived through something (like the holocaust). And they reach us through the hands of editors or publishers, so they can be edited or censored to some extent.

Blogs also differ from traditional forms of autobiography in that they do not, as yet, tell the story of an entire life. But they are, most certainly, autobiographical. And because of their unique characteristics, they offer us an important resource.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 07:49 PM

November 04, 2004


And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Hmmmm… so, it looks as though I failed to sway the vote in Indiana. Can’t say I’m surprised – about the overall result, I mean, not just Indiana. Someone somewhere was saying it’s not enough to base a campaign on being against something, you have to be for something as well. Perhaps a bit of that was going on. According to Ireland, The exit polls showed that 21 percent of voters said that "moral values" -- more than either Iraq or the economy -- was what determined their vote. This is, after all, a country drowning in censorious, politicized religiosity. Apparently it was the gay issue, more than terrorism, that won Bush the election. Wow, we're scarier than bin Laden now?

This site has a breakdown of how different groups voted. Apparently people who vote for Bush are white, male, Evangelical or Protestant, high income, straight, married with children, and worried about terrorism. Well, no surprises there - except perhaps the Protestant thing. Hmmm. Anyway, some of the stats are quite startling. Moral values doesn't rank quite as highly as terrorism in these stats, but it's right up there. (Thanks to Reb for the link).

As Russell Brown notes, "Ironically, New York City and Washington DC, the two cities which actually experienced the terrorist attacks, went resoundingly for Kerry, along with Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. And the prairie states that no terrorist is ever going to bother with went Bush."

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
Allegiance to war and the battle's confusion
So our lives might be plagued by terrorism no more?
The blood of the innocent, our moral pollution…
No refuge could save Iraq or her people
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

At least he didn't just get in cos of the crazy electoral system. John Kerry lost the popular vote by some three and a half million votes. 51% of Americans are... well, I was going to say made, but I don't know that for sure. White, male, Evangelical or Protestant, high income, straight, married with children, and worried about moral values, apparently though. And seemingly unaware of the impact of their vote on so many people around the world. Or, to frame it more depressingly (as Podur does so elequently):

" is time to admit something. The greatest divide in the world today is not between the US elite and its people, or the US elite and the people of the world. It is between the US people and the rest of the world. The first time around, George W Bush was not elected. When the United States planted cluster bombs all over Afghanistan, disrupted the aid effort there, killed thousands of people, and occupied the country, it could be interpreted as the actions of a rogue group who had stolen the elections and used terrorism as a pretext to wage war. When the United States invaded Iraq, killing 100,000 at the latest count, it could be argued that no one had really asked the American people about it and that the American people had been lied to. When the United States kidnapped Haiti’s president and installed a paramilitary dictatorship, it could be argued that these were the actions of an unelected group with contempt for democracy.

"With this election, all of those actions have been retroactively justified by the majority of the American people."

Yes, the world is a scary place. And fundamentalist Christians seem to be taking over vast portions of it.

Lucid (oh so refreshing after the Salient, which seems to be one long, tedious letters column filled with pathetic insults) has a couple of great articles about Destiny. Yes I wish people would stop giving them so much coverage (and here I am adding to it) but some of it was really interesting. Some of it was scary, but we're coming to expect that from Destiny. Song lyrics like "Armed and dangerous... clothed in righteousness... we are here to take over, no room for compromise." But what was really chilling was a quote from Hannah Tamaki in Women's Day:

"I say to Brian, 'Ok, if we believe our lives are totally surrendered to God, we'll do what you believe He has told us to do."


I went to a meeting last night, kind of a debriefing on the Presbyterian Church’s ironically named “Motion 69”, which means says "that this church may not accept for training, license, ordain or induct anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman." Ironically the motion discriminates against heterosexuals, as it makes a provision for homosexuals who have already been ordained etc, but not for heterosexuals “living in sin” who are already ministers, elders, etc. Some people have already resigned over the General Assembly decision, which is really sad, because it means that the church is even more dominated by the conservative right. We, as a church, are just “going about our daily business” at the moment. But staying true to who we are, and certainly not going along with the Assembly’s decision. There was some talk about what some of the consequences of dissenting could be… The Presbyterian church actually own the church buildings, and apparently they can, in some situations, claim them back. Not on an issue that is this divided… but still, the thought of “St Andrew’s on the footpath of the Terrace” made me giggle. You gotta laugh sometimes. If only because crying all the time leads to red eyes and a nose rubbed raw with tissues…


What I reckon is...

The world will go on turning. Things wouldn’t have been that much better under Kerry. There have always been people like Tamaki, there probably always will be. We just have to keep on keeping on, educating, creating peace, caring for the environment, doing whatever we can.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 05:10 PM


Doing some research for an essay on blogging, I found this odd little piece...

Posted by Fionnaigh at 03:28 PM

November 03, 2004


“I love it when you open a book, and a bus or a train ticket falls out,” said Leticia. “Suddenly you remember the place where you read the book. The landscape you were travelling through.”

So I mark my pages with boarding passes and ticket butts from around the globe. And every time I open a book I remember Leticia.


E hoa ma,

To commemorate the anniversary of the siege of Parihaka there will be a gathering this Friday, November 5, from 8pm onwards at the Pol Hill anti-aircraft battery site - that's the big concrete structures on route to the wind turbine. BYO musical instruments, poetry, stories, fireworks, friends, kai… There's a great view so you can watch the fireworks down at the waterfront. If it’s raining come anyway, there’s some shelter up there. Hopefully we’ll get a fire permit… The site is on a path just off Ashton Fitchett or Waterhouse streets.

Also check out "the (un)known island, tales of trade". This is a Roadworks/Red Mole production featuring our very own Cara. "To the island come explorers, entrepreneurs, set on discovering new territories and extending the reaches of free trade. In the island they find paradise. The island, in them, finds other things." Described as like the carnival pantomime version of The Corporation, with poetry and amazing masks, this is not to be missed. It's on at WACT studio, level 1, 44 Cable St (opposite Te Papa) @ 8pm 3-10 November, with a special early showing at 6:30 on Friday 5 so there's plenty of time to make it up to Brooklyn afterwards. $12/$8/Gold Coin for children.


Hinemoana’s book and CD were launched on Sunday, both stunning works, beautifully produced. Buy them now, but not from the CD Store (who fund the homophobic Maxim Institute) or Unity books


Now that I've finished my course in Classical Traditions in English Literature, I feel all clever and educated and I can write ghazals with Classical references… go me.

After Sappho

After the moon turns
I wait for you.

wick away the darkness.

Matariki balances on the horizon;
the annual dance begins.

Yours is not
the death of the moon.

I wait for light.
Our sun burns alone.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 07:17 AM