Friday, October 30, 2009

Beer O’Clock: In favour of brand disloyalty

Beer writer Neil Miller argues you should lose your beer label inhibitions . . . a good argument to consider on the eve of tomorrow’s beer tasting (don’t forget, 2:30pm at The Castle in Mt Eden). [Cross-posted at The Malthouse Blog]

heineken_beer It would be possible, if you wanted to and really tried, to travel around the world and eat nothing but McDonalds.   Similarly, it would be possible, if you wanted to and really tried, to travel around the world and drink nothing but Heineken.  Well, maybe not quite as easy but you could certainly drink look-alike international golden lagers in pretty much every corner of the globe. 

We would tend to portray the person who eats only corporate burgers and fries as unsophisticated, a little odd and probably quite large.  However, the person who drinks nothing but – say – Heineken is seen as a loyal and informed drinker.  I simply cannot express the absurdity of this notion any better than noted beer writer and my third favourite Canadian Stephen Beaumont* who wrote:

“Beer drinkers have been duped by mass marketing into the belief that it makes sense to drink only one brand of beer. In truth, brand loyalty in beer makes no more sense than 'vegetable loyalty' in food. Can you imagine it? ‘No thanks, I'll pass on the mashed potatoes, carrots, bread and roast beef. Me, I'm strictly a broccoli man.’"

The notion of brand loyalty and a generic drinking culture perhaps reached its peak in New Zealand during 1969.  In a little known chapter of our brewing history, New Zealand Breweries, in their infinite wisdom, decided that Kiwis did not want choice or local beers. What they really wanted was four slightly different beers all under the one glorious brand and that brand was to be called Lucky. 

In August 1960, all their various breweries shut down production of their established products (including Speight’s) and began making their allocation of the Big Four Lucky Beers.  The intent would be that Lucky would be produced so efficiently that it would drive down the price of beer and push their rival Dominion Breweries right out of the market.

Predictably (to everyone not working for the New Zealand Breweries marketing team), drinkers around the country immediately went up in arms and the Lucky experiment was ended in October 1960 after just two ignominious months.  In terms of bad beer decisions, its short duration means it does not come close to equalling the impact of the disastrous Six O’Clock Swill but it terms of sheer stupidity it was right up there. 

The only signs that remain of Lucky are some bottles and cans in the excellent Speight’s brewery tour (though you won’t see any actual brewing on it).  Speight’s must have been tempted to (mis)-quote Hon Dr Michael Cullen and put little signs like “we won, you lost, eat that” under the Lucky-branded vessels.

New Zealand drinkers these days rightly demand more choice and variety.  Heck, Richard “Spiderman” Emerson alone produces four new beers every 100 days.  Sometimes, we drink local, other days we feel like something more continental.  We might crave a cutting edge style or perhaps something a bit more traditional.

chimaytripel One of the classic European beers on tap at Malthouse[and at very few other good establishments around the country-Ed.] is Chimay White.  This Trappist masterpiece is an extremely rare sight on tap in New Zealand and it is about to get a whole lot rarer.  The last Malthouse keg is currently attached.  This is the last chance (for a while at least) to try this dry, spicy brew on tap.

Chimay White (8%) is a strong, unpasteurised Tripel which pours a handsome cloudy gold with a pillowed white head.  The nose is dry, hoppy and yeasty – unmistakably Belgian.  It is full bodied with hints of orange, juniper, spices and hops before a peppery, dry finish.

This is also the last week of Octoberbest – the new Malthouse tradition.  The final push sees the welcome return of Epic Armageddon, Yeastie Boys Plan K and Yeastie Boys PKB.

This blog post now comes to an end as it is time for lunch with Mr Luke Nicholas, the Impish Brewer.  In unrelated news, stocks of Armageddon IPA are about to plummet at Malthouse so Chimay White might not be the only beer on its last keg…

* After Russ the Canadian and William Shatner. **

** Glass tip to the Impish Brewer for reminding me of “Bill” Shatner which sadly saw Stephen Beaumont bumped to third.

Cheers


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand 
Beer and Brewer Magazine

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Friday avo ramble, 30 October

Here’s your Friday links. Print ‘em now to read ‘em over the weekend.  :-)

 

Thought for the day, from the Vodka Pundit:
Too late for coffee. Too early for a cocktail. There is nothing worse than exactly 3:43PM.

That’s all your links for today. But don’t forget tomorrow's beer-tasting at The Castle & Galbraith's, starting at The Castle around 2:30. ?  For details, and to find out what to bring, email organon AT ihug.co.nz with LIGHT BEER or DARK BEER in title for details.

And finally, since I’ve been enjoying my old Phil Manzanera albums again (Galt, he’s good) here’s Phil playing ‘Leyenda’ while women dance the Paso Doble around him. Lucky man:

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Quote of the day: The “one-letter” dismissal of global warming

"People will do anything to save the world ... except take a course in science."
    - Physicist Howard Hayden, in the email sign-off to his Open Letter to the EPA, a “one-letter” dismissal of warmist alarmism

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Perks busted

hood01 Those ACT MPs, eh.  Don’t they just love those baubles of office.

Did you pay your taxes so that Rodney Hide can take his girlfriend on overseas trips?

So that Roger Douglas can publish books and take holidays to see his grandchildren?

Did you vote for them to do that? 

Then more fool you, I’d say.

“I was entitled,” they whimper. 

Yeah right.  Tell that to Bill English.

Tell that to the taxpayers who’ve had to pay out of their pockets what you two should have been paying for out of yours.

You sad, immoral, duplicitous pair of bastards.

Perks? You’re busted.

Looks to me increasingly like you two need reminding what they were supposed to be standing for.

Looks to me like Rodney in particular needs some competition in Epsom 2011 to help remind him of that.

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Architect Bart Prince, courtesy of YouTube

Here’s another architect you need to know about, another one from the unfashionable heartlands of the US -- and YouTube hosts a great introduction.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Life of Brian: They’re all bashing the Bishop again [update 2]

600-Bishop-Tamaki-Auckland-2006   Why all the outrage about Bishop Brian Tamaki and the ‘loyalty oath’ just sworn by 700 of his closest ‘sons.

Bishop Brian says he has a direct line to his God.  But so does the Pope.

Brian says that, as a representative of God,  his ‘sons’ should avoid taking his name and person in vain.  But so does the Ten Commandments.

He says that his followers must “tell others of their love for the Bishop.” But so do plenty of other churches.

He says that as church leader his followers should offer him their riches, wealth and earnings. But so do plenty of other churches, for whom “tithes” are a way of life – and a way of securing cash flow for church elders.

He says that religion should guide politics – but so too do so many of the mainstream religionists who want political power over your soul.

Brian’s not the Messiah, he’s just a very naughty boy (to quote a phrase).  He’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done before by other religious leaders, but by all the outrage generated by Brian’s activities – with this loyalty oath just being the latest -- you’d have to wonder why it’s Brian who gets the brickbats and the other churches who generally pick up the bouquets.  You’d have to wonder why since they’re the same things said and done by all sorts of mainstream religionists.

Basically, the reason Brian gives all the mainstream religionists conniptions is not that he says any of these things (because how can they really criticise them when they do most of them themselves) but because:

  1. He gives them stiff competition. Make no mistake, this is a religious turf war, and it could get just as angry as any other fight for territory; and
  2. He makes the whole religious thing look like what it is: a scam.

They say he’s not a genuine religious leaders?  But since they all agree their gods can talk to them, then by what standard can they disagree when Brian says his does.

They say Brian’s is not a “genuine” religion? But since all religions are based on a fiction by what right can they deny Brian’s particular brand.

They say the followers of Brian are being sucked in and will never get out? But since all religions aim to maintain that vice-like cradle-to-grave hold on their acolytes, how can they honestly point to any difference to themselves?

Frankly, they’re all frauds preying on the weak and vulnerable, none of them substantially different to what the French court found about the scientologists: that they’re an “organised fraud” preying on vulnerable believers?  The only serious difference between all the various fairy stories told by all the frauds is the length of time their stories have been told, and the way the vulnerable are hooked into becoming believers.

All churches and all religions tell slightly different stories, but in the end it amounts to the same: Believe in our fairy stories, not theirs; worship our gods in our way, not theirs; and be prepared to sacrifice  . . . for the good of the church.  For the church’s good, not for yours. For the good of our church, not the one down the next street – our church being the word and the light; whereas down the next street they’re all left-footers and dangerous to boot.

'”Faith “is ineluctably exclusive, rather than inclusive. 

Now, you’d think when it comes to settling the few differences between all the different brands of witch-doctory the different advocates would be able to reason it out between them.  But when you think about it, you’d realise that’s all but impossible.  It’s all but impossible because the belief in those fairy stories is not based on reason, but based on faith (they don’t even have a surefire way to determine whether Brian is or isn’t the Messiah; without reason they’ve no way to judge). 

So because it’s all based on faith, there’s no way at all for advocates of different brands of faith to reason out their differences.  All they’re left up with is fists and loud voices.

Which explains, when you think about it, not just all the fists and loud voices Bishop Brian gets out on the streets when he takes up his bully pulpit, but also all the violent disagreements and conflicts between advocates of different religious brands that have endured for thousands of years and stained so much of human history--  conflicts over differences that often amount to little more than what to hang on the walls in your place of worship, or the order in which the wine and crackers is handed out– or whether it gets handed around at all.

Differences which can only be resolved by reason, except that reason has been peremptorily excluded.  And without reason things can only be resolved in other ways. And when reason and rational persuasion  are out the window, all you’re left with is force.

Faith and force.  Two flipsides of the same coin – as they have been for so many centuries of man’s  history.

Which means one can only hope that the violent antipathy to the rise and rise of  Bishop Brian remains violent only the in the metaphorical sense.

And one hopes that’s the way Brian himself wants to keep it. But how could you really be sure?

Here’s Lou Reed.  He reckons you need a Busload of Faith to get by, boy.

UPDATE 1: Pastor Brian Tamariki tells me the Density Church website is back up and running again.  And so it is. As he always says, keep those bottoms holy, believers.  :-)

UPDATE 2: Thanks to Blunt for another score:

Brian

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Why is this woman so happy? [updated]

bradford_320 She is the face of MMP, and now she's gone.

She said she would save New Zealand's children from their parents and guardians, yet still the murders continue at the rate of ten a year.  And now she has left the building.

She demonised those opposed to her as beaters, as bashers, as hitters of children – smearing good parents while doing nothing at all to protect children from bad ones. And now she’s out of there.

She all but nationalised your children, and having done all she can do there she’s now delivered her last speech in NZ's parliament.

She joined the party that carried an environmental banner – observing it was “ripe for takeover” – never once even giving lip service to the party’s raison d'être.  She used it instead to advance her own back-door agendas, and now she’s off.

“Years spent ‘proletarianising’ herself in the Progressive Youth Movement, the Workers Communist League and the Unemployed Workers Movement” (as Chris Trotter describes) were put to good use infiltrating the mung-bean eaters and effecting the reverse take-over of the Greens by the Alliance.  (More links on some of that here.) And now she’s on to other means by which to advance that same agenda – and that dear reader, is why she’s smiling.

Retired from Parliament because she says the Greens are not red enough for her. That’s enough right there to tell you her aims.

She has been unquestionably the most effective Maoist in NZ politics -- from the backbenches of the Green lists, a woman never voted in by an electorate has changed New Zealand family life for the worse. Because it was never just about smacking, you know.

She has retired from NZ central government politics, but her lust to change others’ lives, with or without their consent, is still undiminished. And I’m sorry to spoil your celebrations, but do you know what and where she has her gimlet eye set on now?

I'll give you a clue: You know the bloated bureaucracy that Rodney Hide is building up in Auckland; the "super-council" that will dominate Auckland; the megalith of power that with his recent U-turn will not be restrained to its core business but instead can range far and wide across whatever landscape it chooses, including yours? That can pick whatever pockets it wants, including yours? Yes, that council.

BoxedUPSue And guess what? Bradford's got her eye on a job as Auckland Super-City councillor, and the job deputy mayor is being discussed – playing Iago to Len Brown's Othello. 

She’s moving her boxes out of  one power-base, and wants to move them straight into another.

She’s left the front door of politics, and Rodney Hide is delivering her the vehicle to drive straight in again through the back door. He’s offering up the city on a plate, and Sue’s just the woman to eat it.

How does that work for you? Any ratepayers of Auckland care to comment?  Any supporters of the big bureaucracy like to promote it?  Any supporters of Rodney Hide like to explain themselves?

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NOT PJ: Dollars and Sense

This week, Bernard Darnton peers through the looking-glass at claims we can devalue our way to prosperity.

_BernardDarnton Fashionable worry number 373 is that the New Zealand dollar is worth too much. Over the last six months the rising dollar has made my impending trip to the UK look cheaper and cheaper.

If I sold milk, which thankfully I don’t, I might be even more upset by the exchange rate than by the early starts and hard work.

The flip side of the milk price is that a high dollar is a good thing if you want to buy anything made overseas, which is pretty much everything. Adam Smith pointed out that exports aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of an economy; they’re simply the price we pay to get shiny tat from China.

The simple fact is that you can’t make yourself rich by making your money worth less. If you could, Zimbabwe would be the richest country in the world. Austrian economists would tell you that paper money is worth nothing, but enterprising Zimbabweans have shown that if you change a billion dollars for a hundred ten million dollar bills you can wipe your arse on Mugabe’s smiling visage for less than the cost of standard two-ply.

A valuable currency is often a sign of a strong economy. In our case it’s more that the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England have faster printing presses than we do. Calls to halt the rise of our currency are really calls to destroy our economy faster than the rest of the world.

In any case, Alan Bollard and Bill English have admitted that there’s nothing they can do about it. If the Reserve Bank was going to intervene in the currency markets it would be more efficient just to give George Soros all of New Zealand’s money and then take the weekend off.

Our rising dollar is really America’s falling dollar. America’s rolling presses and staggering deficits are pushing their currency off a cliff. Holders of foreign reserves are already looking round for alternatives. One that’s been mentioned is the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. From what I can make out these are just tarted up thin air. They share all of paper money’s susceptibility to governments’ destructive shenanigans but without the Zimbabwean dollar’s more practical benefits.

If the government actually cared about increasing the size of the economy, rather than the size of its share of the economy, it would stop its continuous dilution of the currency. Even better, it could back the currency with gold. It would be stable, it would retain its value, and that would help the country prosper.

There are plenty of criticisms of the gold standard: it’s susceptible to fluctuations in the supply of gold; there’s nothing like enough gold around to cover the amount of paper money in circulation, so transition would be difficult. Bimetallic systems are even worse. However, they’re better than what we’ve got for one simple reason. Governments haven’t discovered the secret of alchemy. And if they can’t print gold, they can’t bugger it up.

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s NOT PJ column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

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Christopher Columbus, by Carl von Piloty

Piloty_Columbus_Small

Piloty depicts Columbus at the very moment of discovery – a brief fragment of time before this he was all but defeated, his calculations checked and rechecked but his prize still tantalisingly out of reach, and his reputation all but shattered. But at this very instant the cry of discovery is heard: the voyage’s goal is reached, and the continent of America is claimed.  As historian Scott Powell says,

“The themes of the life of Christopher Columbus are timeless.  Among them are independence, vision, courage, dedication, perseverance.  All are captured in the excellent painting by German master historical painter Carl von Piloty in his painting simply entitled ‘Christopher Columbus’.”

But obviously qualities like independence, vision, courage, dedication and perseverance can’t just be picked off the canvas like pins from a pin cushion.  Read Scott Powell’s post to see how – and how well – Piloty has integrated these into his canvas.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stupid is as Alan does

Stupidest phrase spotted in the wild today from an economics commentator is, sadly, by one of the most read.

“America . . . remains the world’s consumption engine. . . .”

An engine of consumption!  That’s like saying we fill our petrol with cylinder heads. That eating ice cream fills our fridge. As if it’s consumption that drives economieswhich you'd think we'd know by now isn’t true – and all we need to do is find the sparkplugs and we’ll be off again. 

Fortunately, he redeems himself by some great links, including David Haywood’s fall-on-the-floor hilarious short stories ‘about’ Alan Bollard and his Reserve Bank.  Perhaps you remember ‘In Canberra with Alan’ – Hunter S. Thompson with The Bollard, armed and dangerous in Canberra?

Bad English

Cactus Kate shows why she’s knocked me off third spot again in the September blog rankings.

    “…there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible.” - Honorable Learned Hand, U.S. Appeals Court Judge.
    “Bill English HAS to go. There are no two ways about it.
    “The more I think about his comments about tax and trusts the more I am convinced that Bill English is the National Party's largest liability. . .
    “The Labour Party can complain all they like about TVNZ apparently running advertising for Bill English, but the best advertisement for the Labour Party currently IS Bill English. . .  They should encourage him to be in front of the public more often. . .”

    “Bill English fails politics largest test. He is a hypocrite. He wants you all to pay your taxes like good little blue smurfs so he can blow your money by borrowing $40 billion more of it to fund his spending plans. Because Bill English knows how to spend your money better than you. Yet he uses systems himself and for his family that he now calls a ‘rort’."

There is no trust in English. “Bill English has absolutely no right to talk about Trusts with any authority ever again.” She got that right. In fact, exclude the words “about Trusts,” and she still got that right.

More things I don’t care about

Never have local politicians looked smaller, or the issues with which they’re supposedly dealing look more irrelevant. Here’s just some of the things I currently don’t care about:

  • what Labour pollsters called themselves when they interrupted people’s dinner;
  • how many hours Gerry Brownlee wants MPs to spend in the House;
  • Bill English’s advice to taxpayers about setting up trusts to avoid tax (does he not own a mirror?);
  • whether the most boringly inept Finance Minister since the last one should be advertising a TV programme;
  • what (or who) Rodney Hide has for breakfast, and how much he charges for it;
  • how National will rearrange the deckchairs on the sinking welfare ship of ACC;
  • what Bill Liu said to who, and why;
  • how many “ethnic minorities” MMP puts into parliament (judged not by the content of their characters, but the colour of their skin);
  • what wriggles the Auckland District Health Board can make up to extricate it from the lab tests farrago;
  • what wriggles theologians can make up to deny the obvious;
  • what wriggles university philosophy graduates can devise to justify knowing less than they did when they were three years old;
  • speculation about what Alan Bollard will or won’t do (NZ’s alleged economists still seem to think that all their job involves is talking up “business confidence” and analysing Alan’s entrails);
  • National’s “hidden agenda.” It doesn’t exist.

And here’s a few things I’m still down on, but tired of pointing out:

  • how many excuses Rodney Hide has for not squashing councils’ rate-payer funded ambitions for empire -for supporting the Alliance policy on local government;
  • warmists denying the evidence that their “science” is collapsing;
  • Resource Management Act changes that aren’t;
  • governments (and councils) who spend like sailors with a leave pass when their revenues look like the beer table’s sales at a Salvation Army convention;
  • ACC ministers using a failed system as an excuse by which to raise taxes;
  • finance ministers using “tax reviews” as a device by which to hike taxes;
  • governments promising tax cuts and delivering the opposite;
  • Trolls.

Anything you’d like to add to the list?

RodBeater

The RodBeater troll was back again while I was away yesterday, making himself the subject under discussion and giving you some idea of how much of his bilge I have to delete every day. As Kurt said, “Why don't you just leave PC's blog and don't spoil the online dialog amongst commentators here, with your frequent intrusion. Can you leave us alone please? Otherwise, establish your own blog, which is free to set up. Why can't you do that?”

He can.  In fact, I’ve done it for him. In the event you wish to read the meanderings of Mr Russell Fletcher of Tauranga, here’s where you can go.  The rest of us, fortunately, can remain blithely unaware of the slime.

‘Corner of Chester and Green’ – William Wray

Chester and Green St_ 15_ 5 x15_5 copy

Artist Michael Newberry reckons

“the first time I saw Wray’s paintings I was haunted by similar moods I experienced in response to Raymond Chandler’s stories. The Corner of Chester and Green conveys the arid, hot, dusty and lonely atmosphere of the streets of Pasadena and surrounding areas of Los Angeles, especially when one is on foot. I find it surprising that these light brilliant colors can convey a kind of bleakness; do you sense that as well?”

Read Newberry’s full appreciation of Wray’s work here at Newberry’s blog, and if you’re in Santa Monica call in and see the exhibition of his paintings at Newberry’s gallery.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

LIBERTARIANZ SUS: Just your regular long weekend of property crimes and un-policing

Enjoy your long weekend?  Susan Ryder did.

susanryder Long weekends are great for those of us who get to enjoy them and I’ve always loved Labour Weekend in particular, especially when I was younger, especially because I have a birthday at this time of year. I still love the holiday; still love the birthday, too; only more the celebration these days than the change of number. Goodness knows who I offended in the interim, though, because the gods seemed determined to upset my applecart this year.

Firstly, circumstances conspired to prevent me from attending my own party some 500km away on Sunday afternoon. Pity, because it was destined to be a cracker with seven birthdays from the 19th to the 30th celebrating a combined 400+ years at a lovely place in the country near the Kapiti Coast. I’m told that a terrific time was had by all, so I’ll have to finagle an invitation for next year. (And if any miserable sod has stopped to do the maths, I must point out that the others were loads older than me!)

But that’s not what I’m writing about. On Saturday morning, my parents awoke to find their front lawn destroyed.

They’ve spent the last few months re-landscaping their whole property. “She’s a pretty big job” as my wee Mitre 10 mate from New Zealand’s greatest ever television commercial would sagely say. On Friday, they spent hours cutting and laying the rolls of new grass. My nephews helped, too, their primary school being closed for the day. So it was a hell of a shock the next morning to pull back the living room drapes to admire their handiwork and see anything but. During the night, vandals had hopped over the low fence and torn everything up, throwing it all over the place and stomping on gardens in the process. I happened to ring shortly after they’d discovered the mess.

“Ring the police!” I said, amid a few choice epithets.

“What for?” said Mum. “They never turn up for things like this anymore!”

“Well, I realise that” I replied. “But it’s to register the damage, otherwise they can’t know. And the bastards may well have damaged other properties along the way. ”

To be fair, my mother was put through to a decent chap. During the conversation she learned that her call to the local police station had been automatically rerouted to Palmerston North, the local station being closed until today. He was courteous and sympathetic, but there was little he could do except to record the complaint and advise her to make a statement at her local station after the long weekend.

It’s pertinent that my parents’ home is on a main road – State Highway 1 in fact – and well lit. Traffic is constant right throughout the night, which is likely why the vandals weren’t heard. Worryingly, this blatant crime also gives credence to the suspicions of many residents in smaller locations that nightly police patrols are virtually non-existent, a sentiment with which my sister has recent experience in the same town.

A couple of weeks ago she and her husband were awoken at 1.30am by a crowd of people making a hell of a noise out on the footpath in front of their home on a quiet residential street. As far as she could ascertain, the crowd was trying to uproot the street sign on the corner – as you do in the early hours of a weekday morning. They didn’t want their young children to wake up frightened, or the crowd to get any ideas of further trespass upon their property or those of their neighbours, so rang the same police station to request an urgent call-out. Unfortunately, the man she spoke with wasn’t quite as concerned as the police officer in Palmerston North.

“How many of them are there?” he enquired.

“Well, I can’t say exactly! But there’s quite a few out there and we want them to go – now!”

“What do they look like? Can you describe them?” he persisted.

“Oh, for God’s sake!” she said, “I’m peering out of my window through the trees into the darkness and I don’t want to draw attention to myself. All I can tell you is that they’re wearing hoods, there are a lot of them, they’re making a racket and it’s really scary.”

I certainly wouldn’t have been so polite. I’d have asked him if he would prefer that I put on my dressing gown and slippers and pop out with the phone and let him have a personal chat to get the bloody details! In spite of this occurring no more than one kilometre from the police station, nobody ever showed up or followed up. Finally frustrated in their efforts to fully upend the street sign, the crowd contented themselves with hauling out some shrubs from a neighbouring property before eventually buggering off.

This sort of nuisance property crime occurs all too often – and is ignored all too often. We can date political unconcern back to the 1980s when former Police Minister Ann Hercus said that she was only worried about violent crime, a point previously noted on this blog. I wonder if she ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point that subsequently proved the wisdom of nipping minor crime in the bud. In spite of all the predictable talk prior to every election, no Police Minister has acted differently since.

So now we have Judith Collins, who recently made headlines with her potential get-tough policy with nuisance motorists. I’d like to draw Ms Collins’s attention to the ongoing neglect of authority toward property crime and policing in general. And I’d like to know what she’s going to do about it.

The elephant in the sitting room is, of course, several decades of excessive state welfare where losers are paid to screw losers with no regard for the consequences including ensuing children. But it’s no use expecting any reform in that department. I say that based on a letter I received from Social Development Minister Paula Bennett last week, an excerpt of which I forwarded to welfare activist Lindsay Mitchell who compared it with comments made by Labour’s Steve Maharey when he held the portfolio, to discover that it was virtually identical in sentiment.

With regard to policing priorities, there’s this little gem to finish with.

Getting out of Wellington is a slow form of torture every Friday afternoon, but holiday weekends are the proverbial nightmare. After contending with the build-up at Paremata, there is the obligatory crawl through Paraparaumu and Waikanae as a result of the Kapiti Coast District Council digging in its dark green heels to prevent construction of the western bypass – (see Opinionated Mummy and Liberty Scott for full and frightful details of that) – before grinding to a halt at the Otaki roundabout.

Levin lies a further 15 minutes north. From that point the worst is usually behind you and it’s a decent run, weather/crashes permitting. Foolishly thinking that they might start to make progress, northbound motorists on SH1 last Friday evening faced a further hold-up at Levin’s southern entrance. Adding insult to injury, four police cars – yes, four of them – were stationed with jovial officers checking for current warrants and registration. They were still happily doing this at 7pm and heaven only knows when they finished. I guess Bill English won’t be grizzling about it, though. I bet he scored a nice little earner out of it. But then he probably wasn’t stuck in that traffic jam, either.

These would be the same cops who don’t seem to patrol the town streets at night anymore and who don’t seem to give a damn about property crime at all, let alone its effect upon victims.

Lord knows I struggle with the concept of tax at the best of times, but surely some decent policing is not too much to expect for what we’re forced to continually hand over. There are countless stories like this one and it’s not bloody good enough. The last government couldn’t have given a continental about property crime (the glaring exception being the attack on Helen Clark’s electoral office), so I’d like to know what John Key’s much vaunted “broad church” is going to do about it.

I’m all ears, Judith Collins.

* * Susan Ryder is Libertarianz Sus, Read her column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

‘Sacred Scriptures of the Human Race’ [updated]

    Too many atheists are content to grant religionists of all brands a monopoly over what they call the 'spiritual.'  “We haven't any spiritual goals or qualities,” they say, “All we care for is material things.”
    And religionists are all too happy to let them believe that, since as long as they’ve got a stranglehold on the things of ‘the spirit’ then they retain the important high ground -- and still have a toe-hold on intellectual respectability.
    Robert Ingersoll's writing is the perfect antidote to both religionists and materialists, which is is why I’m reposting this piece on Ingersoll from
The Rational Capitalist blog, where it first appeared.  (And if you’re looking for commentary, analysis, and links upholding reason, individualism, and capitalism, you should add it to your regular reading list.)

Robert G. Ingersoll was part of the Free Thought movement of the 19th century and an outspoken opponent of religion. In 1894, he wrote a brilliant piece titled About the Holy Bible that not only provides a thorough expose of biblical contradiction but more importantly recognizes the fundamental conflict between religion and liberty, or, more specifically, between religion and man's happiness on earth. As the left, in addition to the right, turns towards religion, it is important to understand this conflict. The below excerpts represent a partial reprint of a previous post, but I believe his writing is so outstanding I am posting this part again. I enjoy his writing more for its style than any technical philosophy (he was a famous orator) and his ability to articulate the essence of this conflict in such a passionate and eloquent way:

    THERE ARE MANY MILLIONS of people who believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God -- millions who think that this book is staff and guide, counselor and consoler; that it fills the present with peace and the future with hope -- millions who believe that it is the fountain of law, Justice and mercy, and that to its wise and benign teachings the world is indebted for its liberty, wealth and civilization -- millions who imagine that this book is a revelation from the wisdom and love of God to the brain and heart of man -- millions who regard this book as a torch that conquers the darkness of death, and pours its radiance on another world -- a world without a tear.
    They forget its ignorance and savagery, its hatred of liberty, its religious persecution; they remember heaven, but they forget the dungeon of eternal pain. They forget that it imprisons the brain and corrupts the heart. They forget that it is the enemy of intellectual freedom. Liberty is my religion. Liberty of hand and brain -- of thought and labor, liberty is a word hated by kings -- loathed by popes. It is a word that shatters thrones and altars -- that leaves the crowned without subjects, and the outstretched hand of superstition without alms. Liberty is the blossom and fruit of justice -- the perfume of mercy. Liberty is the seed and soil, the air and light, the dew and rain of progress, love and joy.
In a section titled Is Christ Our Example?, Ingersoll writes:

    HE NEVER SAID A word in favor of education. He never even hinted at the existence of any science. He never uttered a word in favor of industry, economy or of any effort to better our condition in this world. He was the enemy of the successful, of the wealthy. Dives was sent to hell, not because he was bad, but because he was rich. Lazarus went to heaven, not because he was good, but because he was poor.
    Christ cared nothing for painting, for sculpture, for music -- nothing for any art. He said nothing about the duties of nation to nation, of king to subject; nothing about the rights of man; nothing about intellectual liberty or the freedom of speech. He said nothing about the sacredness of home; not one word for the fireside; not a word in favor of marriage, in honor of maternity.
    He never married. He wandered homeless from place to place with a few disciples. None of them seem to have been engaged in any useful business, and they seem to have lived on alms.

    All human ties were held in contempt; this world was sacrificed for the next; all human effort was discouraged. God would support and protect.
    At last, in the dusk of death, Christ, finding that he was mistaken, cried out: "My God My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?"
    We have found that man must depend on himself. He must clear the land; he must build the home; he must plow and plant; he must invent; he must work with hand and brain; he must overcome the difficulties and obstructions; he must conquer and enslave the forces of nature to the end that they may do the work of the world.

Here is my favorite excerpt:

    FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS men have been writing the real Bible, and it is being written from day to day, and it will never be finished while man has life. All the facts that we know, all the truly recorded events, all the discoveries and inventions, all the wonderful machines whose wheels and levers seem to think, all the poems, crystals from the brain, flowers from the heart, all the songs of love and joy, of smiles and tears, the great dramas of Imagination's world, the wondrous paintings, miracles of form and color, of light and shade, the marvelous marbles that seem to live and breathe, the secrets told by rock and star, by dust and flower, by rain and snow, by frost and flame, by winding stream and desert sand, by mountain range and billowed sea.

    All the wisdom that lengthens and ennobles life, all that avoids or cures disease, or conquers pain -- all just and perfect laws and rules that guide and shape our lives, all thoughts that feed the flames of love the music that transfigures, enraptures and enthralls the victories of heart and brain, the miracles that hands have wrought, the deft and cunning hands of those who worked for wife and child, the histories of noble deeds, of brave and useful men, of faithful loving wives, of quenchless mother-love, of conflicts for the right, of sufferings for the truth, of all the best that all the men and women of the world have said, and thought and done through all the years.
    These treasures of the heart and brain -- these are the Sacred Scriptures of the human race.

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