New (Year) blog

It’s been more than a year since I last wrote, and my life has changed so much.

In this time I’ve ended one relationship and started another; moved country, started a new job and then gained a promotion in that organisation.

I’ve considered what I need in my life and readopted the faith I grew up in. More particularly I’ve followed my Grandfather’s faith of birth and completed the Ritual of Christian Initiation as an Adult at the Catholic Church I attend with my partner, Fiona. I have specific theological and liturgical reasons for choosing this church, but this isn’t the place for that discussion. We have a cool Pope, though.

The biggest change is yet to come. On or around the date of July 11th, I’ll become a father for the first time. This will be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me – those of you who know me as a longtime children’s librarian will understand the connection I have with children.

I know this is a change that will test Fi and I utterly, and if I’m honest I have to admit I have no idea if we’re ready, whatever “ready” is.

I do know our child will be born to loving parents who also love each other. We’re surrounded by a community of family and friends that will be there to help.

Ready? I’m eager. Now, if we can just get through the next bout of morning sickness…

On viewing yet another bold legal disclaimer on my Facebook timeline

Dear Facebook Using Friends.

You are hereby notified that your rights in relation to the contents of your profile will not in any way be legally changed from the agreement under which you signed up by any posting you put in text or otherwise form in your timeline.

The  contents of a profile hosted for public display by a company you have no shares in, or ownership of, are very much exploitable by that company, so long as you choose to share publicly using that company’s resources.

With that in mind, you possibly have a right of recourse under UCC 1-103 1-308, which is currently being widely quoted as applicable, however you would have to be prepared to test that in a court of law for it to be in any way effective. Many wise scholars have written on the effectiveness on quoting this code against a vast range of ailments.

I would recommend if you cannot abide by Facebooks TOS, don’t participate. For myself, I welcome my private information-corrupting overlords. Brand me, baby!

I keep a pool of words in my head II

This morning, I found a stone at the bottom of the pool.

I lifted it to the top, and it became an island.

On the island, a tree grows.

In the tree, a tui pops, clicks and grackles its joy.

Why the GCSB crisis is good news

I’m often reminded, when considering our current government, of Peter Singer’s President of Good and Evil. Singer set out to examine Bush as a person – to discover the personal ethic that created what many perceive as a damaging and destabilising political environment. He develops a theory of Bush as a Machiavellian “gentleman” – a man for people to identify with, while those behind him do the real work of government, the cruel and (arguably) necessary acts countries must do to survive.

The people behind Bush were politically very intelligent. Singer identifies them, and their Neoconservative movement, as having its origins in Trotskyite theory. Whether this is true or not, certainly among their methods was a determined programme of attacks and purges against identified enemies of the programme.

It has become readily obvious that the current Government is willing to sideline and damage any and all parties that disagree with them – from beneficiaries to Crown entities. Our Prime Minister’s affable and deliberately vague language provides a vehicle to obscure the effect of that damage. Even when admitting fault for his vague language, he has to minimise and be vague – “I was probably a bit sloppy”.  As if sloppiness gets one homes in Hawai’i.

At every step, our governing team has been ignoring advice from those we (the taxed citizenry) pay to give the best advice possible. Public services can create inefficiencies, it is true, but they also give opportunities for kinds of excellence not needed or found universally in business. We may wish to tar our top advisors with the same tarry brush we apply to road workers leaning on shovels (1), however they are there due to combinations of ferocious intelligence and breathtaking breadth and depth of experience.

How is it, then, when a civil servant has made such a horrendously dangerous error do I see this as good news?

Mr. Key’s tone. Here’s NBR’s article on the matter. This is not a glib John Key. Nothing here is sloppy in the least – he is very carefully saying exactly what he has been asked to say. This is a government realising the dream end run planned in the last electoral term is turning into a tooth and claw battle, and that their practise has undermined their own programme. Key’s only error in communication came when he was asked if he took responsibility for the error, and responded in the negative. A Minister takes responsibility for their portfolio regardless of misdeeds at staff level, and in conducting an investigation Mr. Key is acting within that responsibility. Possibly he thought he was being asked if he was culpable, which would be a different matter. A pity that particular question was not asked.

Mr. Key people behind him have taken this country through a radical set of changes which will create constitutional implications for decades to come. They have been following the dictates of the assassin master Hassan i Sabah, as quoted by Burroughs: “Nothing is true, everything is permitted“. The master’s advice was that this phrase, said before sleeping, would deliver the answer to any question in a dream.

Whatever question the National Goverment is asking, this nation isn’t dreaming, and the roomful of clocks are going off.


(1) Not that I personally believe people who work in extreme conditions season after season are in any way lazy.

Branding, antibranding and rebranding on the wu wei – Trigger warning.

Over the last year and a half I have been exploring the concept of antibranding in response to the “personal brand” movement. In my case, I developed a system I referred to the “Hack Me Bro” ethic.

For me, this ethic arose out of a need to protect damaged parts of my psyche from others. I have very big buttons that are very easy to push, and I react wonderfully to that pushing. A strategy to keep my true nature and identity unavailable to others felt safer than a strategy of openness.

“Hack me” assumes that I am an information system, which is true, but it also assumes intent to invade. It is a paranoid construct, with “Bro” in this case appended as a challenge. Where perceived hacking is taking place, systems must be continually be developed and redevloped in order to maintain the a feeling of safety. A blog called “Discourse Analysis Overdose” is needed not to communicate but to moderate increasing levels of internal stress and distress.

The key weakness in this system is that all information must be processed and made sense of, particularly in relation to others who show signs, or outright state, that they are also proceeding from similar assumptions. Hacking with intent can be blocked, but I had no tool to respond to noninvasive sharing of nonetheless potentially damaging information.

Last year I was recommended a book by a friend, and I chose to read it. I was unware of and unprepared for the impact it would have on me. This weekend I realised the nature and extent of that impact, and as a result  I lost control of myself –  I had an episode, which has already had serious consequences and will continue to do so.

The book contained descriptions of nonconsensual lifestyle BDSM in a romantic frame. It made me realise the fantasy lives of others could be markedly different than my own, and I wished to understand how nonconsenual and romantic could possibly apply.

I applied my analytical engine to these matters, and the conflicts in this appalling construct tore me apart. As far as I am concerned, it is up to people how they love one another and fantasise, however I did not previously have the ability to separate fantasy from reality simply because I was working so very hard to keep reality at bay.

Yesterday I was talking to my case worker. As usual after a crisis, we were working through some version of the social anxiety/mood disorder checklist. Her manner, and her questions changed sharply after I described the book in question.

Was I feeling anger? Yes.

Was it for particular people? Yes.

Did I feel a wish to harm people? No.

Did I feel a wish to harm the particular person I was feeling anger towards? No.

Time and time again these points were checked. Time and time again I considered, and calmly responded, knowing the answers were very important – that it was safe in this relationship to say whether I wished to harm other people or myself, if that was actually the case. I clarified that after two years of mindfulness work I had found that I was starting to be able to connect with feelings I had suppressed for decades, and that I was learning how to release trauma constructively, and continued to learn from situations. I acknowledged the huge risks implied by connecting with the more damaged parts of myself.

What are the risks? If that connection isn’t via growing and healing, I will be driven towards towards the antisocial spectrum of mental illness. I will be in touch with very dark and damaged parts of myself, and if I do not also have compassion I will be a risk to myself and all those around me. I can be a very effective person, so I would readily be able to protect myself from risk in that scenario.

I have the opportunity to become a complete person, or to lose all, having lived a life in the half-light.

I must state from my experience that antibranding as a stated personal position in a public space is a nonsense. A stated position in a public space is a brand. “Antibranding” is a brand.

It is also potentially an extremely dangerous one.

I am no longer anti-branding. I am renaming this blog simply seanfish. I will protect confidences of others, but be open about myself, and let that be my personal brand.

I will start with a request: I need help, for I need to connect with darkness to heal, and I will not allow that darkness to reclaim me. I already have many helpers, but I will always need more.

I will follow with a stipulation: To grow, I cannot only take. I must be allowed to give too. I can only accept help from people who are able to own their own needs in clear ways. In this way I will not risk erroneously giving that which has not been asked for.

I keep a pool of words in my head.

Some float up to the top at night, and I read who lied.

Nobody lied today.

An open letter to the Helensville community

Sent to Dave Addison, Editor, Helensville News.


As a whiteskinned New Zealander of Maori and European descent, I have been privileged during my time in the Helensville and surrounding community.

I have witnessed many of the instances of genteel racism that fill this community. I have heard my people referred to as “they”, and our habits described as lazy in public forums. I have heard names in my precious language deliberately mangled for lighthearted amusement, even when the name in question is of a personage of national importance.

I am a generous and tolerant person, and I have done the middle class thing and allowed that some of my friends were brought up in different times. I am unable to do so any further.

This morning, I received an unsolicited email on an undisclosed distribution list. This email was sent by a prominent member of the Helensville community who seemingly views themselves as an unappointed political organiser and authority.

This email used rhetoric that alarmed me. Like an earlier document, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the email described Māori as controlling the government through conspiratorial manipulation of power balances.

It is very easy to survey the institutions of Helensville. Looking at local group memberships and compositions at directorial level, the European face is in still comfortably in control. There is no Māori power elite, and it is both wrong and malicious to suggest otherwise.

For the first time, I am ashamed to live here.

Sean Murgatroyd

Awaroa Road


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