Note from afar 2

Heartbreaking and disconcerting to be begged in quite extreme fashion by a man 20 years my senior after spending the evening in his home.

A culture of charming, skilled and sincere conmen and liars, masking the genuine. But, in poverty, would I act differently?

Frustrating that precisely the bizarre and unjustifiable global economic voodoo that allows me to be here also makes it impossible to be here just as a man and not some alien fruit machine that dispenses money if you touch it right.

Am nowhere close to done processing what poverty and privilege mean.

I am not entirely sure what I am doing here, in this necessary process of self-alchemy, but it is not a holiday, and I am not a tourist. I do not want to see sights and buy things. I want to experience and understand, and …  something.

Oh, and the desert is indeed hot like whoa, and incredibly peaceful.


The above was written a week ago. In this carnival of contradictions, I next met one of the simplest, honest and good men I have known. Staying with him in his house of mud was deeply profound.

Blog updates via phone are slow going. Something more substantial may appear if I get some keyboard time.

Note from afar

Midnight in the Fes medina. Laying in my hotel. Outside the sacred music festival clashes and whirls. Thousands of people gathered in a space outside ancient battlements a block away.A thousand year old city with no street signs and a culture that will do anything to twist a dirham out of you, then amaze with its openness and generosity in the next breath.

I don’t have much to say, really, yet, other than that I am still alive and on the other side of the world than usual; a long way from the Hutt, so different,  yet so similar.

Test post from Morocco


Travel contact details

Holy shit. Flight in a few hours.

Email is probably best way to make sure I get a message, or Skype (billydancingmoose). (If you don’t have an email for me, there is one linked on the sidebar.)

I will probably update the blog/tweet a bit but not sure how much.!/billymoose

At a guess, probably won’t read much facebook, or most of twitter, or people’s blogs. If you want me to know something, send an email or direct message of some form.

My local cellphone will be left behind. Will have various new simcards on the road. Will try to let folks in each relevant country know those.


technology and the social mind


A couple of interesting articles about our interactions with technology that I don’t have time to do justice to:

first, one about how how online personalization services begin to skew our access to information:

I found this bit telling:

If you want to test your own views on personalization, you could try a party trick Mr. Pariser demonstrated earlier this year during a talk at the TED conference: ask some friends to simultaneously search Google for a controversial term like gun control or abortion. Then compare results.

“It’s totally creepy if you think about it,” said Tze Chun, a filmmaker who agreed to participate in a similar experiment at a recent dinner party we both attended in Brooklyn. Five of us used our phones to search for “Is Osama really dead?,” a phrase Mr. Chun suggested.

Although our top 10 results included the same link — to Yahoo Canada answers — in first place, two of us also received a link to a post on, a newspaper site. Meanwhile, Mr. Chun and two other filmmakers had links to more conspiratorial sites like

For Mr. Chun, who visits a variety of true-crime Web sites as part of his screenplay research but tends to favor sites that sell vintage T-shirts in his private life, the personalization felt a little too, well, personal.

“You are used to looking at the Internet voyeuristically,” he said. “It’s weird to have the Internet looking back at you and saying, ‘Yeah, I remember things about what you have done’ and gearing the searches to those sites.”

I had noticed that my google results were odd at times…


Second, social influences kill the wisdom of the crowd. Essentially, collectively we know stuff, but when we get feedback about what others think (eg through social networks), conformity effects make us dumber.


(Oh, and unrelatedly, for those of you who have houses, Jez talks about earthquake-learnings from Chch for your house, which I had been meaning to point at)


political thoughts from someone who would like a good country to come back to


I realise the cheek in posting something like this as I prepare to head off (and the extent to which this is an exercise in projection/lecturing myself.) But I love my country and I would like NZ to be worth coming back to. And National is, honestly, damaging this country, and its future, to an extent that is actually startling.

I’m not entirely sure what the hell National and Key believe in. It seems different from anything I value. At the least, the way they go about things horrifies me, seems actively ridiculous, and completely broken. (This is just what I can remember of the top of my head: Inheriting a country with a budget surplus, then cutting government revenue via tax cuts for the richest, then cutting social programs to pay for that, and doing nothing whatsoever to get us through the recession while stamping on the poor, while borrowing heavily and sinking us in debt, while opening us up to exploitation by big business and letting overseas governments determine our policy, and abusing democratic process to pass extreme laws without oversight under urgency, and failing miserably to handle the Christchurch recovery, or deal with climate change and our collective future responsibly (let alone respectably): a pretty pathetic performance really, from a government that in theory represents us, but instead services a broken ideology divorced from reality. Yet still John Key is popular? WTF?)


Take a moment to feel the horror and rage you would feel over the next three years if National got re-elected and proceeded to brutally fuck the country even further.

Use this feeling as motivation to get involved actively in politics, now. Being pissed off and miserable for three years in which mostly what you can do is complain stinks. Being pissed of and active for a few months before the election is a far more useful expenditure of time and energy. This is what the structure of our democracy means.


I think the Left in general doesn’t grasp that politics is war. (At least, it has only recently really dawned on me.) Assume for a moment that von Clausewitz got it right – “War is a continuation of policy by other means”.

The simple corollary is that regular politics is essentially war, with all that entails.

It is about fighting for what you want the world to be like. It is about doing whatever the hell it takes to win. It is about realising that the other guys realise this, and are not fucking around.

Recognising this does not mean becoming the enemy. But it does suggest that techniques may be borrowed and repurposed; and suggests the attitude that is appropriate – how seriously to take things.

What, to you, is worth fighting for? Because the other team is fighting for something else, something that sucks balls, and, right now, they are fighting better than us.


I wonder how this government would cope with massive public protests against them during the rugby world cup?

On the world stage, with their domestic issues and failings highlighted. A cunning campaign could really put them on the spot. Targeted action. Leverage.


There is a lot of muttering, a lot of energy around the interwebs, a lot of dissent. Shape it. Use it to do something good. Get involved.

Because, scary as it is, we are the responsible generation now. We look up and see the deadwood fucking shit up based on outdated ideologies – those who have lost it. We look down and see kids, and young adults who don’t know anything yet – those who don’t have it.

Look in the mirror. We’re the adults now. This is our watch.

Testing mobile posting

Woo ha from the future

The Harry Potter Cycle – a review – part three



[this is the first one with substantive spoilers]


Final one: HP and the Deathly Hallows


Watched part one on the big screen. Had been hoping for 3D but it would have been overkill. The episodic nature is accentuated here, as we have half a story, essentially the setup for the finale. On the run, hunting horcruxes, Voldemort ascendant. Cool, but bring on part two.

The book:

Damn this book was a slog. Really noticeable, in that I had skimmed books 4-6 the day after watching them, and they were fine. This was work, despite being keen to get to the end.

The reliance on the formal structure of the school is revealed in the weakness of the final book. When they go on the run, away from Hogwarts, the narrative loses structure and becomes deeply turgid. The writing doesn’t carry it. The darker content adds to the drag factor. While this also corresponds with the darkest hour, it is sort of narratively necessary, but yeah, a long dragging. Here we feel the absence of editorial input.

The last 150 pages, the return to Hogwarts, and finale proper, are tonnes of fun however, and in general it ends well. It will be fun in 3D.

And now we reach spoilerville, since everything interesting I have to say about the last one is to do with the ending.