Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One thousand (and two)

It's frightening, I know, but last week I made the one thousandth post to this blog. Reading the Maps started back in 2004, but I only really got the hang of things (ie, worked out how to post images and hyperlinks) at the end of 2005.

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.

8 Comments:

Blogger Richard Taylor said...

This is a good Blog. I couldn't read anything by English or Hyde - those parliamentary blokes are not so much "bad" as terribly boring...they earn too much also.

I have to assume they perhaps started with "noble" ideas and believe they are doing the best for the country but ..hmmm. But I am more interested in the kind of direct action you are involved in.

I was - when young - very idealistic and fervent about "revolution" but no one (including myself) could explain how the much vaunted working class would implement this huge change we dreamed of...

Perhaps there is hope. But the paradox is I don't think I would like to live in other than the NZ Capitalism we have now...
with all the accompanying misery and the enormous rates of violence and mental illness etc etc I think I myself have had pretty good life here in NZ and there are compensating aspects - one can be an individualist (up to a point) in this kind of - albeit quite flawed - society.

Like Auden all I have is pen to "undo the folded lie." Well, it is said a successful deceiver is one who believes in his/her own deceit and also that deceit (or disguise) is a sign of intelligence. One learns to survive.

Thompson is and has been fascinating to read about and NZ places (many I have never been to) and the Maori wars etc and other matters on here.

And the point that NZ is NOT the Lord of the Rings (although I love the movies) - but the movies were only made here!! That point is borne out by such as this Blog.

So - Blog on Maps!

12:50 am  
Blogger Sanctuary said...

What on earth is happening up at the museum? I can't work out if what is going on is good, bad or indifferent. The Herald, as usual, prefers to remain the mouthpiece of the property developing class and its coverage hasn't been any good whatsoever.

10:01 am  
Blogger maps said...

Hi Sanctuary, museum employees aren't allowed to coment publically about the changes at the institution - one of them found this out the hard way a couple of weeks ago:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10520489

But workers can speak collectively through their union, and the Public Service Association has produced a series of press releases:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0807/S00135.html
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0805/S00216.htm

Former employees have in many cases been prevented from speaking out by clauses in their contracts, but a couple have gone public. One of them published a strongly-worded letter in the Herald yesterday, which I can't track down online right now; another was interviewed at the beginning of the Sunday TV feature on the museum, which you can watch here:
http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_windows_skin/1904963?bandwidth=56k

5:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kia ora Maps

Congratulations for maintaining such an interesting blog while being immersed in building a union branch--
one of the toughest and most enervating (albeit sometimes energising!) things you can take on.
Kia manawanui!

Airihi

1:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having a sense of humour is dangerous if Vitali is your boss...

http://articles.latimes.com/2004/oct/15/entertainment/et-comedy15

In LA, she sacked a comedian for anti-Bush jokes...

I fear she is not likely to take any more kindly to union building than to anti-Bush jokes.

Kia manawanui Maps!

Airihi

1:32 am  
Blogger maps said...

Thanks Arihi, and thanks for that link - staff at the museum will find it very interesting!

12:44 pm  
Anonymous Marcus said...

Trackers on websites usually give an inordinate number of hits from the US. That's because a lot of traffic from ISP goes through the US (such as AOL). It doesn't necessarily mean all these people are in the US.

I'm surprised on 9 per cent of hits are from Australia. I tell everyone who ever expresses an interest in looking at blogs (which are almost always crap) that yours is worth reading.

Cheers.

4:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I thought it was because a lot of bots come through the u.s. That's where mine are from. Or does the tracker screen out bots?)

Just commenting to observe that the question mark refers to the second category [i.e the party you support] not to the left-ness of your blog. They are using the formula [right/left] - [political party] which is why yours reads left - ?.

3:10 pm  

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