Archive for the ‘Cultural studies’ Category

by Don Franks

According to Benjamin Franklin, “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance”.

Ben never drove through Marlborough – New Zealand’s largest wine region has hard work, high risk and tense competition written all over it.

Mile after mile the land is pinned by hard-treated posts, in dead straight rows.  Countless workers have (more…)

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A critical take on the issue of transgender children and medical intervention 

Part 1

by Pat Green (a concerned teacher)

pubertyblockerIf you have been following the recent controversy over Rachel Stewart’s opinion piece ‘TERF: A derogatory term to shut down debate’, you may have read Kylie Parry’s response on the Spinoff website. Parry focuses on the issue of trans children and the use of medical interventions such as puberty blockers and cross sex hormones. She argues that fears over the issues of informed consent and the dangers associated with medical interventions are misplaced, and that trans children are no different from ‘regular’ or ‘cis’ children: they like sports, watch TV and don’t like doing chores. Most importantly, they are not evil people who want to ‘take over the world’ and they deserve respect and compassion.

As a teacher who has worked with and taught several trans identified adolescents I fully concur with Parry’s contention that trans children are regular human beings who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Based on my limited experience I would even be tempted to go further, and note that many trans youth are particularly talented and display admirable character traits. I don’t think that they have a secret agenda and I do think that they should be free of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

Parry also makes three claims relating to medical interventions upon trans identified youth: (more…)

Dave Hansford, Protecting Paradise: 1080 and the fight to save New Zealand’s wildlife, Potton & Burton, 2016, 250pp, $34.99; reviewed by Don Franks

Along New Zealand roadsides, especially on the South Island’s west coast, are hammered hand painted signs. “1080 poisons our water”, “Kea killed in 1080 drop”, “1080 kills everything”.

The  accused 1080 is an organic salt, sodium monofluoraetate. First developed as a rodent killer during World War II by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1080 has since been in wide use for vertebrate pest control. The substance is spread in New Zealand today by the Department of Conservation (DOC), aimed at killing rodents preying on native plants and animals.

Some opponents claim 1080 does  (more…)

Aretha in 1973; pic by AP.

by The Spark

Tributes are pouring in for the late legendary singer Aretha Franklin. Many certainly came from those in official positions and celebrities, but most came from people she grew up with and from all of the neighborhoods around the country. The strength of people’s feelings stems from the fact Aretha expressed, not only through her music but also through what she stood for politically, their feelings at a time of engagement and determination to fight for social change in the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Aretha’s first hit single, her remake of Otis Redding’s song, “Respect,” hit the charts almost simultaneously with the eruption of the urban rebellion that occurred in Detroit in 1967. Like several of her records, “Respect”became an anthem, for black people and for women. Aretha transformed the point of view of Redding’s lyrics about a man expecting respect from his wife to that of a woman demanding respect from her man. Aretha’s spelling out of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and insistent phrases like “Give me my propers!” reflected women’s growing militancy and, beyond it, the attitudes of the larger community demanding change.

Similarly, her hit “Think!,” was direct and to the point “You’d better think, about what you’re trying to do to me,” ending in a chorus of  (more…)

by Don Franks

Nibbling pavlova, warm fuzzies all over
Hasn’t it been a great honeymoon
But there’s still shit in the river – old pensioners shiver
And Auckland house prices aren’t coming down anytime soon

Wasting away in Jacindaville
Waiting for the baby’s arrival
Some people claim a new dawn’s in the frame
But I know it’s still – just about survival

They hosted Obama, without any drama
Went over and had a wee bow to the Queen (more…)

Canterbury Socialist Society presents “Workers Against War” – a public lecture on this history of the Workers’ Movement opposition to the First World War.

Every year ANZAC Day commemorations seem more like war propaganda than the last – and we aim to provide a touch of counter history: that of sedition, desertion, rebellion, refusal, and fraternisation of workers on the front.

We are very pleased to welcome for a second time guest speaker Dan Bartlett. Dan is a historian whose research with Voices Against War focused on New Zealand opposition to the First World War. Dan will be focusing on the activities of Socialists in Christchurch during the war years.

Socialist Society chair Tom Roud will speak on the tension and eventual split in the international workers’ movement over the question of supporting one’s own ruling class in the war. He will be focusing primarily on the (more…)