Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Getting out of the archives

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  • giovanni tiso,

    My point is, it's subliminal peer pressure on a grand scale. If you're brought up in that kind of all-pervasive atmosphere, it is that much more difficult to break ranks and tell people that you think that belief in their bearded sky god is just as ridiculous as belief in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

    Except the tooth fairy actually exists.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    In my personal experience there's certainly more empirical evidence for the tooth fairy. That God guy is a massive disappointment -- the tooth fairy delivers.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Have none of you sceptics actually read the Master*? Giovanni is, of course, completely correct, and so is Stephen - I mean how many people *havent* had the threepence (we're talking 1950s) or the $2 (now) in exchange for a tiny piece of dentine & enamel? The evidence is everywhere!

    Yours sincerely, A Happy Atheist Who Is quite** Moral, Thanks.




    *Terry Pratchett
    **It is one the quirks of this paticular iMac that it wont do capital qs...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I suspect Pratchett is going to lead to a generation of atheists. Small Gods is virtually an atheist manifesto, but in general there's a lot of sly digging at the foolishness of organised religion contrasted with the sense of trust in oneself and ones community.

    And I was totally thinking of Hogfather when Gio brought up the tooth fairy.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I mean how many people *havent* had the threepence (we're talking 1950s) or the $2 (now) in exchange for a tiny piece of dentine & enamel? The evidence is everywhere!

    Last year I took Joseph to a show with a friend of his who insisted to bring along a toy he had just bought with Tooth Fairy money. When it transpired that the Fairy gave him $4 per tooth, Joseph looked at me with an expression of genuine outrage and betrayal.

    But then of course Santa perpetuates class division by giving expensive presents to rich kids, cheap presents to poor kids. All these fabled creatures are clearly inveterate Tories - with the possible exception of the Verruca Gnome.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    It sprang immediately to mind...I love Pratchett's compassion and humanity as well as his delicious skewering of religions in general - and time & again he brings up personal resposibility, community resposibility, and the rule of chance...the Raven & Susan Sto Lit & Death & the witches are favourites(not to mention the Hogfather (that is one graphic & evocative piece of writing about the origin of the Hogfather)) -( well, is pretty well every character in the Discworld series -) & are so good in "Hogfather"-

    really must get hold of the dvd. Tho' it probably will disappoint in bits (like "The Colour of Magic" did...)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Santa perpetuates class division by giving expensive presents to rich kids, cheap presents to poor kids. All these fabled creatures are clearly inveterate Tories

    Well, we're clearly meant to take the legend of St Nick and the three bags of gold as an example of trickle-down economics in action

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    @Kaipara Possum, I could have done without the slight tinge of ad hominem in your reply - "pink-tinged binoculars" indeed.

    There is a hell of a difference between a govt whose polices you don't agree with, or individual greed, and endemic corruption in a legal sense. Comparing NZ to India in that sense is a joke.

    Actually, I lived in NZ exclusively for the first 30 years of my life. It's not perfect, and certainly less perfect with this govt, but you show me a place where there is more probity in public life, except perhaps the Scandinavian countries.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    (I'm sure I've told this story here before but it's topical, festive too)

    When my (now 18 and just finished high school) son was 4 in a fit of honesty I told him all about Santa - he took this in, and understood that there would still be presents .... a few days later he came back and called me on it - there too was a Santa, he'd seen him at the mall ... at that point I shut up, I figured that if I'd brought him up to believe his own eyes over what adults told him I was probably doing something right

    Mind you he hadn't yet met my other santa friends

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Comparing NZ to India in that sense is a joke.

    Actually, I lived in NZ exclusively for the first 30 years of my life. It's not perfect, and certainly less perfect with this govt, but you show me a place where there is more probity in public life, except perhaps the Scandinavian countries.

    Indeed.

    Half a decade in Indonesia re-defined what corruption is to me. I really had no idea until I lived amongst it, how all encompassing and how thoroughly evil it can be. And how that evil multiples when corruption passes from being something done under the table, to a normal part of the day to day discourse of a nation at every level.

    I'm sorry, but I find wails of corruption in New Zealand, and our tumbling into the abyss of graft, just utterly ludicrous. They piss me off, and we truly, and there is no other way to put it, don't know how fucking lucky we are. How many folks here, or anywhere else in NZ regard paying a teacher a 'fee' for a child's school report or a class desk, or giving a cop $50 to get off a speeding ticket as a reasonable and reasonably normal thing to do?

    Or have vets who tell people their sick pedigree dog is dead, because they've sold the animal.

    Or have whole city councils arrested for working together to steal the city's annual budget (happened last week in Bogor, Java).

    Really.....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    There are little shitty things that do go on in small, largely rural, areas
    (hey! I live on the West Coast! Plastics factory anyone?) BUT - they get found out and largely dealt to (hey! Plastics factory anyone? And just *what* happened to ex-mayor John Drylie? He's ex-mayor, that's what, and so gone are are pretty well all the councillors who were involved in that little schemozzle.)

    We are *emphatically* not systemically corrupt by any world standard, and "Kaipara Possum"'s torrid outpourings notwithstanding, we're unlikely to be any time soon. I think she/he/it is confusing business dealings (which can be duplicitous & self-serving -hey! that's the nature of a lot of commerce - and has been, since year dot) with aforesaid systemic corruption.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Simon, while I agree that we don't know how lucky we are, I do think that you attack corruption at the levels you find it at - I think one reason we tend to not have grand scale corruption is because we root out the small stuff and bitch about that so much - if we just ignored it it would get out of hand

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I think one reason we tend to not have grand scale corruption is because we root out the small stuff and bitch about that so much - if we just ignored it it would get out of hand

    But that's the very fundamental difference. In NZ, and in most developed nations, it's wrong. We know it's wrong, the people doing the bad shit mostly know it's wrong.

    For most of the nations sitting in the lower reaches of the Transparency International annual rating, they simply don't have that societal mental barrier. Dragging their national psyche over that barrier is the single most important thing they can do for the nation.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    For most of the nations sitting in the lower reaches of the Transparency International annual rating, they simply don't have that societal mental barrier.

    Describes Italy pretty well. And there people get caught all the time, there's just no stygma.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    belief in their bearded sky god is just as ridiculous as belief in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

    Why has there been no discussion so far of Pastafarianism? Is there a conspiracy afoot?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Memo to self: Phil knows too much.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    I told him all about Santa

    I find the writings of Frank Church to be useful with nieces and nephews of a certain age.

    Their friends "have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age." The bloke in the red suit may be a creation, but:

    He "exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist."

    And that is a lesson for children of all ages.

    Phil
    who gets teary eyed at this time of the year, but not because he hears Snoopy's Christmas

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Scott A,

    Speaking as a civil servant, involved in getting money to people who need it (and from people who don't want to give it), I'd also like to stress how uncorrupt our core government and social services. The mere idea that someone will give someone quicker treatment, a quicker deposit into their bank account, a reduced bill, and additional entitlement in exchange for something in return is so antithetic to our way of working that, personally, I almost felt physcially ill even typing that concept out just now.

    But the abuse does come in other ways, and NZ isn't immune to the petty favouritism and antagonism that infects all people with a bit of power but not any great responsibility or reward. From both sides I think I'm seeing more this year than any in my ten years working for the government. More people thinking they can use anger, abuse, threats, emotional taunting, obtuseness to get more money than they're entitled to. But, also, more people on the other side who, due to their own frustration and fear due to workplace uncertainty and frozen wages meaning they don't help people as much as they should, picking some "winners", dismissing some "losers."

    But, back to my opening point, we've initiated a "neutrality" training course at my workplace to address this very reason. Even the level of personal favourtism or dislike in the way clients are treated that we've seen increase over the last year concerns management and employees so much we want to do all we can to limit it.

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Memo to self: Phil knows too much.

    If my lawyer does not have contact from me every 24 hours, sealed envelopes will be despatched to Fox News and other credible news outlets.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    And there people get caught all the time, there's just no stygma.

    Nope. None. In Indonesia recently the big scandal's been the cops blatantly making up charges against the top guys in the anti-Korupsi body, the KPK. They were getting far too good at their jobs so, in full national public glare, they, and the Attorney General, had them arrested and tossed in jail.

    The are only free now because a tape was leaked with a bunch of the most senior cops and politicians openly conspiring to frame them.

    Nothing of any substance happened to the inventive cops though, as it played out.

    At Denpasar airport a bunch of immigration guys were caught earlier this year having nicked US$300,000 from visa fees. No charges were laid, they lost a years promotion and got to keep their jobs and the cash....

    So, yes....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Memo to It's Noodly Appendages- take this meatball Phil and-


    no! no! I really didnt mean it!


    (The only part I truly enjoyed about C. S. Lewis's Narnia series was in "The Horse & His Boy" wherein the High Priest of Taslok (or something) actually discovered his god was real - and took him away to be devoured.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    If my lawyer does not have contact from me every 24 hours, sealed envelopes will be despatched to Fox News and other credible news outlets.

    ummm ... like Fox would know how to open them ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    like Fox would know how to open them

    Not my lawyer's problem. But did you deliberately miss the opening I left you . . . .

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    umm well - I left it for others ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    the High Priest of Taslok (or something) actually discovered his god was real

    Can't motivate myself to go into the study, but I think that was in The Last Battle

    Phil
    who re-reads his childhood library every other year

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

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