One thousand (and two)
We - I use the term loosely, in view of the notorious slackness of my co-bloggers - have managed to attract a total of nearly eighty thousand unique visitors since I installed a tracking device a couple of years back. The geocounter on our tracker claims that almost a third of visitors are coming from the good 'ol US of A; a little over a quarter are Kiwis, eleven percent are Poms, and nine percent are Aussies.
Despite or because of my obsequious praise for the flag of Muammar Gadaffi's revolution, only four of that country's inhabitants have paid a visit (or did one person visit four times, on four different days? Such subtle distinctions seem to beyond my tracker). It looks as though my celebration of a wave of Maltese visitors a couple of years back might have been a little premature - only thirty-three of them have made the journey to this blog so far.
Despite the lack of interest in Triploi and Valetta we're clinging to a place in the top fifty of the NZ Blogosphere Hit Parade, a little below Rodney Hide but comfortably above Bill English. Frankly, if I were a populist Tory politico and I couldn't attract ten times as many visitors to my blog as a lefty weirdo who posts about (to quote one critic of this blog) 'bands nobody has heard of, books nobody has read, battles nobody remembers and places nobody visits', then I'd consider chucking in the towel.
The folks who run NZ Blogopshere have given us a special commendation, which is flattering, especially since I had some rather harsh words to say about one of them last year. It's not so flattering, though, that they give the politics of this blog the label 'LEFT?' What's with that question mark, fellas?
Admittedly, there has been a marked decline in the volume of political ranting on this site over the last six months or so. The reasons for this decline are not so much a loss of political fervour on my part, as a change of focus. When I was happily PhDing, I had plenty of time and plenty of opportunities to sound off about political issues in print and on the net. Over the last few months, though, a lot of my ideological fervour has gone into helping to build a stronger union branch at the Auckland museum, where I've been working. Instead of pontificating at a keyboard I've been trying to sign up members, attending committee meetings, and struggling to decode the 'restructuring' plans of museum management.
When the Director unveiled her plans at the beginning of the year only a paper branch of the Public Service Association existed at the museum. Although we have spoken out about the process, gotten a good deal of media attention and public sympathy, and won some important concessions, museum workers have not had the protection of a collective agreement. Now, though, we have built a good-sized branch and gotten into the position where we can - fingers crossed - begin to negotiate an agreement which improves the conditions and security of museum workers.
I spent years slogging through back issues of left-wing journals collecting material for a PhD on EP Thompson, and the experience was at times (but only at times) a little politically dispiriting. The false assumptions, unrecognised prejudices, pointless infighting, and disappointed hopes which are part of the story of Thompson, and of the activist left in general, are all too clear when they appear in smudged print on the yellowing pages of defunct publications. Luckily, the experience of helping build a union in a large workplace, and seeing workers from different backgrounds, walks of life and income brackets sticking up for each other helps to strip away some of the cynicism that academic research can create.