Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Privatising the Foreshore & Seabed: Get on with it! [update 2]

Otago Daily Times: “Prime Minister John Key says the foreshore and seabed legislation will almost certainly be repealed, but no decision has been taken on what might replace it.”

WHY HAS NO DECISION YET been taken on what might replace it, I wonder?  Even though everyone and their kaumatua has been trying to complicate things, it’s not like it’s at all complicated.

When the Foreshore & Seabed Act is repealed, just leave it where it was at before.

And where it was at before was with Maori needing to prove to the courts that they possessed a common law property right in their portion of NZ’s foreshore & seabed.  And if they could prove such a right to a legal standard of proof, then why on earth should anyone object?

What could possibly be wrong with recognising the right of people to claim the property in which they have a right?

What could possibly be wrong with the protection of property in which people can prove that right, which is all that a repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act will do.

And that’s all there really is to it.  See how uncomplicated it really is?

There’s a few points to be made, however, just to round up the complications people see in this.

THERE’S TALK THAT REPEALING the Foreshore and Seabed Act will simply “give” Maori the beaches.  This is wrong in two respects.

First, repeal would (and should) simply mean that Maori have a right to make a claim to what is theirs, not to be given what is not.

Second, it doesn’t mean that all Maori are awarded a right to all beaches.  That’s like saying, if the roles were reversed somewhat, that all men should be awarded rights in all the country’s fishing spots, and all white women get to own the pavements outside all the clothes stores – which even my least favourite auntie would know was absurd. But it doesn’t mean that at all. In fact it’s more like saying that your favourite store might be able to have its rights in the pavement outside its own store recognised by the courts, should they be interested in such a thing.

In other words, repeal simply means (and should mean) that specific parties have to prove they possess specific rights in a specific piece of land, foreshore or seabed, which rights would then deserve to be recognised in law.

And like the rights in a High Street pavement, that needn’t preclude there being other rights and covenants attached that protect other rights, rights such as access and so on, so everyone’s rights in a piece of land, foreshore and seabed are protected.

Common law is a beautifully uncomplicated thing.

THERE’S TALK THAT RIGHTS should be made non-transferrable, and only awarded to iwi instead of individuals. Why?  Let’s put on our colour-blind spectacles for a moment and recognise that if Maori can prove they have genuine rights, then why should those rights be so circumscribed?  Why should individual Maori miss out?   Why shouldn’t rights be transferrable – which means they can be used as collateral to help the owners develop the resource -- and be saleable, so they can end up in the hands of those who value the resource the most?

THERE’S TALK THAT MAORI deserve the rights to foreshore and seabed as some sort of gift under the Treaty.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They deserve the right to claim their rights  because, like every other New Zealander, they deserve to have their rights in property protected. But there’s the rub, isn’t it. There should be more than one race who has this right protected, shouldn’t there. You know, like One Law for All – which was what the Treaty actually brought to New Zealand.  Let’s use this as a call to arms for all property rights for all New Zealanders.

SO LET’S LOOK AT the real bright side here: If it’s done properly, repeal of the Foreshore & Seabed Act will be a fantastic step forward for property rights. Sure, if it’s done properly repeal will only take us back to how things were a few years ago, but there’s now so much more understanding of how a common law property right can be laid claim to than there was back then -- and there’s so much more support for the common law process by which it can be done. 

Crikey, even Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei thinks Maori should be given the right to seek common law title through the courts. Who would have thought we’d see the Greens supporting the privatisation of the commons.

Quote of the day: On deflation

You should not be afraid of deflation.
You should be afraid of policies attempting to fight it.”

- Mike “Mish” Shedlock, in his post ‘Is Debt-Deflation Just Beginning?

Quote of the day: On deflation

You should not be afraid of deflation.
You should be afraid of policies attempting to fight it.”

- Mike “Mish” Shedlock, in his post ‘Is Debt-Deflation Just Beginning?

LIBERTARIANZ SUS: Buying the cell?

You can’t cell a ban to Susan Ryder.

susanryder Politicians can certainly act quickly when they want something badly enough. As of last Sunday, it is illegal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving on New Zealand roads.

I’ve been opposed to this legislation since it was first mooted a few years ago, but even the Clark Government wasn’t stupid enough to enact it. To be fair, it had little choice. In spite of a publicly brave face right up until Election Day, I’m sure the party bigwigs privately knew they were buggered and didn’t dare give the electorate another chance to scream ‘Nanny State’ in the interim!

However, as some of us have said all along, it seems that the Nanny State really does start and finish with light bulbs and shower pressure as far as the present government is concerned.

And so to this latest piece of brilliance.

It was no coincidence that the cellphone-while-driving issue was resurrected around the same time as the run-up to the recent Referendum to repeal the Anti-Smacking Act. It was also no coincidence that it passed into law shortly after the Prime Minister scotched the outcome of the Referendum … no doubt to salvage some respect amid growing disquiet that he and his government were behaving with similar arrogance to that displayed by its predecessor. But in so doing, the Key government was behaving exactly like its predecessor, i.e., doing something in order to be seen to be doing something, and creating more bureaucracy into the bargain.

I had several run-ins with Leighton Smith on Newstalk ZB, who approves of the ban. “These people are a nuisance on the road!” seemed to be the thrust of his argument.

I put it to him that driving carelessly or dangerously is already against the law, as it should be. That we didn’t need a specific law for those doing so while talking on their phones; that bad driving was bad driving with or without a cellphone and should be dealt with accordingly.

Leighton refused to buy it. He reckoned that the distraction level was greater than say, changing the radio station or CD, to which my reply was “and if necessary, punish the offender more severely, but under the existing laws that encompass any and all poor driving.”

Alas, readers, I failed miserably in my attempts at persuasion. I could not seem to make him understand that I wasn’t defending unsafe driving – far from it. That I simply believed that enforcement of the existing laws was sufficient.

Why is it that Conservatives who understand and support the virtue of limited government, will happily do a U-turn and compromise that principle by calling for compulsion or bans over the odd thing they either hold dear or dislike, respectively? It’s very disappointing and they should know better.

I also predicted the following:

  1. That the ban will make little difference to the road toll and crash statistics
  1. That the LTSA will continue with their ridiculous, expensive advertising campaigns that have little effect upon the road toll and crash statistics
  1. That in the result of the above, the ban will be senselessly extended to include hands-free devices

As it happened, I didn’t even have to wait for the first two points to evolve. A headline in The New Zealand Herald last Saturday – the day before the legislation even came into effect – said that “experts” were already calling for the ban to be extended as such.

Just as well the radio became a standard feature in vehicles years before the legions of Professional Interferers made it their business to professionally interfere in everything we do. It wouldn’t have a show of passing the muster with today’s Nazis. Imagine the possible distractions!

PS: Further to this safety obsession, a lady from Plunket was on the radio yesterday morning talking about Guy Fawkes Day. She reminded us that fireworks could be dangerous and it’s better to look for a public display rather than ignite some at home. Animals don’t like them and children can get hurt. But if you do choose to let some off yourself, keep your children right away from them and don’t let them touch them. So don’t say you weren’t told. And if you’re a Conservative, don’t roll your eyes. ;)

* * Read Susan Ryder’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *

‘Beautiful Steps, #2’ - Lang/Baumann


Sad to report, but this is not the exit stairs for the “council staff employed in planning, policy and strategy are most likely to lose their jobs in the Auckland council amalgamation” – of whom the number to be ejected could not be to many – or the point of departure for the health bureaucrats to be given the DCM, of whom the number is far too few.

No, the stairs are an “installation art” project attached to the Palais de Congrès, Biel, Switzerland for the 11th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition: Utopics, by “artists” Lang/Baumann [hat tip Duncan B.].

So images of slow swallow dives by pink-slip bearing bureaucrats are, unfortunately, only to be imagined.

Monday, 2 November 2009

A postcard to “Crusher” Collins [update 3]

collins_300x200 Asset confiscation; suspension of your right to silence; expanded search and surveillance powers for an extraordinary range of government departments – I tell you what: I’m with Danyl here asking why is it that Minister for Police Judith Collins is so damn popular? And the country’s media so fawning?

Beats the hell out of me.

People say things like, “Oh, if you do nothing wrong then you’ve got nothing to fear from expanded police powers.” What fatuous nonsense. That’s like saying if you’ve got nothing to hide then there’s no need to hang curtains on your front window.

Expanding the scope of “what-you-can-do-wrong” is just one way the state can make you feel its hot breath down your collar.  What they’re doing here is enlarging the scope of what they can do to you even if you’ve done nothing wrong at all.  Even if there’s no real proof of wrong-doing.  Even if there’s no chance of any conviction, or of any finding of guilt—the government and its agencies will soon be able to do a complete end run around the protection of the court system to search you, to surveil you, and to confiscate what you’ve got, merely on their say-so that you’re someone who’s not to be trusted.

As an opponent of enlarged state power myself, I’d like to think that all of us in that team would be thought of that way.  Which is just one very personal reason I’m outraged at the overturning of yet more fundamental legal rights going back centuries that this government is wasting no time overturning.  Presumption of innocence?  A criminal standard of proof? Just cause? Due process?

It’s almost like the Nats don’t even know or care, they exist . . .

“The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed.”  That’s a basic principle of Objective Law. What it’s being changed to by the Key Government is, to paraphase:

“The government’s retaliatory use of force will be unleashed to search for evidence that a crime has been committed, to deny your right to remain silent about any alleged crime in which you’re thought to have been involved, and to seize whatever assets the government deems to be forfeit from whomever they deem to be a suspect – under rules they’ll make up as they go along.”

Doesn’t sound like me to be praiseworthy.  Sounds to me more like something to fear.

Judith has already earned herself the moniker “Crusher,” despite not having crushed one car, and not looking likely to in the near future.  But she has already begun crushing some of your most basic protections against your being abused by the state and its multitude of agencies, quangoes and departments.

If you’re one of those who’s been thinking that HeadMistress Collins is doing good work here in making it “easier” to get to criminals, I would urge you to reconsider.  What she’s doing is making it easier to “get” the innocent, whether or not they’ve even displayed any criminality.

And if you can’t prove that someone is guilty in a properly established court of law, what gives you the moral authority to treat them as if you have?  Answers on a postcard, please.

UPDATE 1: No Right Turn spotted this chilling exchange on Sunday’s Q&A TV programme, on which HeadMistress Collins appeared:

"Paul Holmes pressed her on civil liberties, pointing out that the asset forfeiture regime was the end of "innocent until proven guilty". The Minister's response?

It's fantastic isn't it?

Yes, Really. We have a fascist as a police Minister.

It gets worse. What stops the police from abusing the vast new powers National (and, to be fair, Labour - because this bill and the Search and Surveillance Bill are both Goff's babies) has introduced? Apparently, the police are supposed to be concerned for their reputation, and afraid that they would "lose all credibility" if they victimised innocent people. Yeah, and I have a brewery in Mangitinoka to sell you. But Collins thinks we have other safeguards as well …  Lets look at those one by one, shall we?

Read on to watch NRT demolish them one by one.

UPDATE 3: And there’s this postcard from Scoop: Fascist Police States: Libz Habeas Collins' Corpus On A Spike

Three out of a set of 121

Some of the country’s most highly-paid beneficiaries make their case for your support.


That’s just three out of a set of 12i over-paid beneficiaries. Why not collect the whole set?  After all, you’re already paying for them.

Hallensteins defend murderer [update 2]

A recent exchange of correspondence between Hallensteins and a former customer, aka The Tomahawk Kid.

Dear Xxxxxx,

I write with reference to your email to the Hallensteins website regarding T Shirts with a print of Che Guevara on the front.
I am very sorry to hear that these T Shirts are offensive to you. There is no intention to offend anyone.
These T Shirt images are really just a reflection on a person who is probably more widely viewed as a revolutionary and a symbol of rebellion.
There is no question of hero status, or even fashion for that matter, merely a rebellious nature, which seems to appeal to people of all ages.
Thank you for your support of Hallensteins in the past, I do hope we can continue to count you among our customers

Yours sincerely
Roy Dillon
Hallenstein Glasson Holdings Limited

Hi Roy - thanks for your reply

Unfortunately these T-Shirts are still in extremely bad taste.
May I suggest you do some research and find out how many people that chap with a rebellious nature killed and murdered.
Hallensteins are responsible for championing and glamorising a mass murderer whether that is your intention or not - ignorance of the facts is no excuse or defence.
Some school kids were recently in the news for saluting and bowing to a Swastika because they were ignorant of the attrocities of the Nazis. This was extremely bad taste - but they were ignorant children.
Che Guevara murdered and tortured anybody who did not believe in his version of communism.
This is not freedom fighting - it is murder.
He was a revolutionary - not for freedom, but for oppression.
He didn’t want people to be free to chose how they wanted to live - he wanted freedom from capitalism - so people could be forced to live under communism.
It is ironic that the system of capitalism that allows you to glamorise this thug is the system that he hated, and would have had you murdered at the blink of an eye.
I think you should change your mind on this - or do you intend to produce a line of mass-murderer T-Shirts?
Son of Sam, Stalin, Goering, Mao, Hitler perhaps?
May I suggest you read more about the man you display so proudly on your products: http://www.therealcuba.com/MurderedbyChe.htm

Xxxxxx Xxxxx

Hi Xxxxxx

There is no glamour, championing, hero status or otherwise intended, he appears to symbolise rebellion, nothing more, nothing less.
Thank you for your comments.

Yours sincerely
Roy Dillon

UPDATE 2: Tomahawk Kid responds:

I understand and am quite happy to hear that you do not intend to glamorise a murderer, but what you do not seem to understand Roy is that regardless of what you intend, you are glamorising him - you are pretending that he didn’t commit atrocities on other human beings just because they didn't agree with communism!
If you wish to symbolise rebellion, there are plenty of other popular culture heroes who didn't go around murdering innocent people who you could use.

[But if you really don’t care who you have on your shirts] why don't Hallensteins produce a Hitler T-shirt then? - after all - he just wanted a free Germany (free of Jews and blacks)
I am afraid your excuse is weak and invalid Roy, and for a well-respected family store is in very poor taste.
I'm afraid due to your lack of understanding of this issue I and my family will no longer be spending our money at a store that has such a poor and low regard of human rights - and that is quite a shame because I actually used to shop there quite a bit.
Xxxxxx Xxxxx

Quote of the day: On inflation and deflation

    Inflation is classically described simply as an increase in the money supply. Although these changes will impact price levels, it doesn't necessarily follow that prices will rise when inflation is high. Instead, inflation may merely result in stable prices at a time when prices would otherwise be
    In the popular mentality, however, inflation is simply defined as prices rising. After decades of steadily rising prices, people seem to have forgotten that prices sometimes fall. In light of the bursting of a number of record-breaking, government-fueled asset bubbles, prices should be declining across the board (as they did in the Great Depression). The fact that prices are stable, or have even rallied in some sectors, indicates that inflation is already spreading across the economy.”

    - From ‘Stealth Inflation’ by John Browne,
      Senior Market Strategist for Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.,
      and former advisor to Margaret Thatcher
      [hat tip Rational Capitalist]

That pretty much puts the current arguments about “will we have inflation or deflation now” in perspective, don’t you think?

Busybodies, One, Two, Three

There were busybodies all over the place over the weekend.  Busybodies making sure that you didn’t smoke in bars, drink alcohol in public places and – most importantly! – that you didn’t talk into your phone while your car was moving or while "stationary in the normal flow of traffic, such as approaching intersections, traffic lights or roadworks."

This was important work – or so all the busybodies seemed to think.  Didn’t matter if you were eating while driving, or putting on your make up, or playing with the radio or you iPod – just as long as you weren’t talking to someone on that little electronic device we call a phone.

Bloody busybodies. They’re everywhere.

But I have a confession to make. I'm a busybody myself.

Yes, I’m a busybody. There, I've said it.  You'll notice that I frequently tell off busybodies for their bossiness, but the perceptive among you have noticed I'm one myself.

I have strong opinions and I don’t care who knows it.

I think taxation is theft.  That a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away again. That where liberty is concerned, “moderation” is suicide. That the point of liberty is to make the world safe for reason.

I hold these opinions strongly and, like all busybodies, I think my opinions should be yours too.  And if you don’t like those opinions, I have others.

I think it's wrong to listen to rap and techno.  I think smoking cigarettes in company is impolite and consuming recreational pharmaceuticals is dumb – but I think it’s your right to do that if you choose to.  

I endorse teaching youngsters phonetics, admiring figurative painting and sculpture, and building homes following the principles of organic architecture. I think you should listen to Wagner and Duke Ellington, refrain from eating meat, and avoid bad beer altogether. I think you should follow Australian Football and support Geelong, read Ayn Rand, Raymond Chandler and Umberto Eco, and drink martinis under a starry sky while filing your subscriptions to The Free Radical and the MG Car Club and your membership in the Libertarianz.

Like Sue Kedgley and Steven Joyce and the nannies in ASH and and ALAC I'm opinionated and bossy, and I don't care who knows it.  There is one small point of difference, however.  The main point is, the little question of persuasion.  Of persuasion as opposed to force.

There are two kinds of  busybodies, you see: those who want to persuade you that you're wrong and they're right (that's me, and I am), and those who want to force you.  Those who appeal to reason to demonstrate the superiority of their ideas, and those who resort to the big stick.

Doesn't matter who's right in that end, since even if you're right and they're wrong there's nothing you can do once Nanny's stick comes out.

You who never understand the difference between persuading someone to do your bidding, and coercing them never truly understand or respect the crucial difference between treating someone as a slave and respecting them as a a free man.

Using persuasion rather than coercion is the recognition that human beings are sovereign individuals, with the right to make their own choices, and to commit their own mistakes. Using force takes their choices away.

One appeals to the human mind, to human reason. The other treats people as a subject, as a serf, as a mindless chattel.

The truth is this: That just because you feel strongly about something that gives you no right to impose your feelings upon others who may in no wise agree with you.

A new law is not persuasion. No matter how many other MPs you can persuade, the effect of that law is the assembling of the vast might of legislative, judicial and police powers to enforce this thing about which you feel so strongly. That's force. That's coercion.

Talking about bringing in a ban is not persuasion, it is not a "national debate we should be having." It’s simply the first act in a three-act drama of bullying to come.

I say think twice before reaching for a ban, or calling for a legislative smack around people’s head.

If smacking is bad because it uses force against children, as some people have argued, then why isn't force bad when it's used against adults (who -- unlike children -- do have the full power of reason).

If date rape is bad because it takes away a woman's right to refuse consent (and so it does), then so too is every form of coercion in that it too takes away the power of consent.

In his seminal essay on Persuasion Versus Force Mark Skousen argues, "The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilised society." And so it is. What's wrong with persuading people, rather than using force? What’s wrong with reasoning with them instead of reaching for the big stick.  Isn't that -- or shouldn't that be -- the mark of a truly civilised society? If you look for symbolism, you might think of it as reason against brute force, or the mind versus the gun.

Isn’t it more civilised to appeal to what’s in someone’s mind by reason, than to reach for a gun to refuse that mind permission to think?  As Ayn Rand sais, “Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins.”

How about we ban bans, and think about being civilised instead.

Freedom means the freedom to make mistakes.  It means leaving people free to make their own mistakes – to listen to rap and country music; to read Danielle Steel and Dan Brown; to smoke like a trooper and talk and text on their cellphones.

As Sir James Russell Lowell said, "the ultimate result of protecting fools from their folly is to fill the planet full of fools."

As the man says, if it makes sense, then they wouldn't have to force you.

Muddle More

One of the worst hospitals I’ve ever visited has to be Middlemore Hospital. It’s a hospital the world shambles was invented for.

Many of the wards and buildings still being used were built by the Americans during the war.  The second world war.  The Americans did more with them in three years of war than the various bureaucrats in charge of the place have done in the sixty-four years of peace since.

As unpleasant places go, some of the wards at the back of the hospital really take the biscuit.

Even visiting the place is difficult.  Car parking is limited – unless you have a staff car pass – and walking from car park to the patient you’re visiting can require serious walking shoes: Not all wards have a car park close to them.  And when you’re driving into the place, you’ve got to be careful not to fill up the emergency ward with squashed children, since the ring road and systematic lack of footpaths round the hospital is cunningly designed to funnel pedestrians and their inevitable broods of children right into the line of traffic entering the precinct.

It’s fashionable to say that the hospital/facilities/bureaucracy at hospitals is barely functional, but the staff there are wonderful.  But I can’t say that either.

More staff seem more interested in themselves than they do in the patients they’re supposed to be looking after. At the emergency ward they’re largely intent on ensuring that visitors are excluding from getting in to see their loved ones, and in many of the other wards many of them seem to be there just to eat their lunch.

In fact, staff eating their lunch is more important in the scheme of ‘things Middlemore’ than patient health, welfare and privacy. Some of the darker, less pleasant wards have enclosed courtyards with gardens and barbecue areas attached.  But these are not for patients – patients are not welcome; these are for staff to eat their lunch.

And the “zero tolerance” policy that the politically-correct leadership of the hospital have implemented means that patients’ need for a private room to discuss treatment or bad news with their family can be intruded upon at any time by staff looking for a place to eat their lunch.  Nothing like discussing rectal medication and life-changing decisions while a complete stranger stares at you from across the room eating their sandwiches.  “Zero tolerance” means you can’t complain. It also means there’s precisely zero respect for privacy.

Someone once said that under socialism, all of people’s lives are lived right out in public.  If you’re not sure if you like discussing personal things in the impersonal mien of a bus terminal, then Middlemore Hospital is the place to test out your feelings on the matter.

I’m looking forward to my mother being released back into the wild shortly, hopefully free of another visit to the place any time soon.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

“… in his own image.”

The Divine Spark Goes the Other Way

It's said in one of the great religious books that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.”

But isn't it truer to say that man created his gods in his own image? In the image of man created he his gods?

From Yahweh to Wotan and from Zeus to Zoroaster, the virtues, vices and behaviour of the gods man has written about -- written about in stories from Genesis to The Lay of Alviss --- are those of man himself.  But they're of man himself writ large. His gods have super-human jealousies; super-human anger; super-human lusts. They’re not just powerful, they’re all-powerful; they’re not just knowing, they’re all-knowing; they’re not just present, they’re present everywhere and at once – they’re omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present you see, and they’re all these three things (usually) because the men and women who’ve written the stories about their gods have simply taken human qualities and made them more so.

Fact is, the reason man “knows” his gods and their attributes is not because his gods have revealed themselves or because his gods have a specific nature, but because man himself has revealed them in the stories and songs and poems he’s created about them in order to help explain his primitive world, and to have stories to tell at night around his fire. He’s created them in his own image, with his own strengths and weaknesses, just more so.

Fact is, the stories man tells about his gods tell more about man than they do about the gods, since the gods they talk about never have existed. The great religious books and stories of history are a pre-philosophic, pre-scientific way by which primitive men attempted “to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values” – to give his world meaning in stories entertaining enough to be told and retold.

On the first day man discovered his world.

On the second day he created his gods to explain it.

And on the third day, he came to understood he needed better explanations, and better understanding of his world if he was to truly explain it.  It was not enough to say that God created the world, since if that were true then who created God?

But the answer to that one is simple. 

Who created God? We did. That should been always clear.

Who “created” existence? No one; existence was always there. Our gods were just our first primitive way of explaining that to ourselves.

Which means the Divine Spark in Michelangelo’s famous painting goes precisely the opposite way it’s normally understood.


Friday, 30 October 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.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand 
Beer and Brewer Magazine

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:

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

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.

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.

Thursday, 29 October 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:


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?

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 * *

Christopher Columbus, by Carl von Piloty


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.

Wednesday, 28 October 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?


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.