I had my last Mandarin lesson tonight. Numbers on the course dropped steadily from sixteen at the beginning to just seven. Some people seemed to have unrealistic expectations. I knew it would be hard and it was. Our teacher is a polyglot: she's mastered four of the seven most widely spoken languages in China; that's a pretty unusual feat.
I went tenpin bowling again last Sunday. I'm better at that game (I hesitate to call it a sport) than I should be. I bowled a 135 and was heading for about the same in the second game but we got timed out two-thirds of the way through.
It’s a big week for voting. The general election in Sweden saw a strong showing from their far-right anti-immigration party. I’m not surprised. Today Fiji went to the polls for the first time since Bainimarama seized power in 2006. Their open-list PR system means there are hundreds of candidates to choose from. In an unusual system which has (a bit unfairly) been compared to Sudoku, voters have to select their chosen candidate’s allocated number from a grid of numbers that for some reason goes from 135 to 382. Then they get their fingers dipped in indelible ink so they can’t vote twice. Let’s hope it works for them. Tomorrow night (our time) the Scots vote on independence. They dropped the voting age to 16 for the referendum. A similar reduction has been talked about in NZ, from parties who are likely to benefit from it, but I think 18 is just fine. I look back at the 1997 UK general election. I was 17 at the time. Had I been able to vote, my thought processes would have extended to “jeez, these Tory buggers have been in power my whole life, let’s boot them out.” Not exactly an informed decision. Perhaps surprisingly, lowering the age might favour the “no” side, who I think will win. Then on Saturday we’ve got our election, and the likelihood is that neither my vote nor Kevin's (I got him enrolled) will stop the National government from running to a third term. I’ll give some predictions on Friday.
I watched a bit of the so-called Moment of Truth on Monday. Dotcom really brought out the big guns, didn’t he? Not that it did him much good. I must admit I found Glenn Greenwald’s comments on John Key hilariously accurate. After that, a lot of it went over my head, but unlike the “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” brigade, this stuff does matter to me. I’ve gone out of my way, more than most, to be anonymous and invisible. Isn’t it funny that the word “invisibility” has five i’s?
Part of me wonders whether our election, in this backwater in the South Pacific, really matters at all when you have the Islamic State beheading two US journalists and now a British aid worker. How can you be so evil? It's beyond words.
I saw this picture today of an Atlas moth. Isn't it beautiful? They have a wingspan of up to ten inches. Such amazing creatures are a reminder that we live in a wonderful world. Why are some people hell-bent on wrecking it?