Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Getting out of the archives

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  • Islander,

    Great Phil - so do I! (Well, some few each year...)
    It was definitely "The Horse and His Boy" because there were Calormenes involved - and in "The Last Battle" while there is a Calormene or 2, they aint there with their religion-

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

  • Lucy Stewart,

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

    It was, yes. (I checked). I enjoyed it so much more when I didn't know the implications, though.

    With regards to the "stop worrying", my husband is a very ex-Baptist, and he always says that was one of the most horrible bits; that you got told again and again that stuff like thinking girls were hot was evil and made you a sinner (breaking one of the Commandments, no less!), so you tried very hard not to do it, and then you did it anyway because you were human, and then you felt like shit because you'd sinned. And then the cycle started all over again.

    Of course, not all religious groups are quite that pedantic about the nature of sin. But a lot are, and it's that mindset - that stuff you do in private or think silently, that has no impact on anyone else, is being watched, and measured, and found wanting - I'm pretty sure that's where the "stop worrying" comes from. The rest of us just have to worry about judgement from our peers, who are presumably not privy to our thoughts or private actions, and also don't control the fate of our immortal souls. It's a wee bit easier to live with, I think.

    On the other hand, religion also offers that certainty - well, the Abrahamic ones, anyway - that you are important, personally, that you matter, that whether you are saved or not matters. I can see the comfort in that. It's all so very carrot and stick.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report

  • JackElder,

    One of my proudest moments in my various careers as a civil servant was the time, working for NZ Immigration (as it was then) as a holiday job, someone came into the main office looking a bit lost and said "They've put a US $100 note into their passport with their visa application. I think they're trying to bribe me. Does anyone know what we do when this happens?"

    In that case: assess the case on its merit and send the money back.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report

  • Islander,

    Lucy Stewart - line & verse please. I'm happy to be proved wrong.

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

  • Phil Lyth,

    I'm happy to be proved wrong.

    Sorry Islander. That motivated me.

    The Last Battle. My (on-the-shelves-2009) edition published by Puffin, 1977 printing, ISBN 0140302050, pages 119 - 122.

    The god of the Calormenes is Tash. The line drawing on page 121 gave me nightmares circa 1970.

    who happily focuses on Gordon whatisnames's exhortation: "Don't give me your opinion, give me your experience": The nightmare experience was real.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,


    Rats! I guess I can't embed images - you'll just have to click on it (SFW) .... I'm having a lot of fun with MagCover.com - DIY magazine covers ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Islander,

    Cool, Phil! It finally stopped raining for a while so went upstairs and checked my antiquated (1st ed.) of "The Last Battle" - and yep, you & Lucy are so right! Tash is portrayed by Pauline Baynes on p 119 - and I still love it's 4 arms & beak and the drifty cloud of -whatever nasties are coming off it - and the hapless non-believer pecked up-

    thank you! And Lucy!

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

  • Phil Lyth,

    I have never talked to anyone who has a first edition.

    What a special night.

    But imagine the nightmares for a young boy. Then again, I first read The Lord of the Rings 1173 pages in five days at 10 years of age. Precocious? Moi?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report

  • Islander,

    Phil, I also have a signed copy of a Pauline Baynes original drawing...

    But your nightmares were - ur - *good*? In retrospect?

    And, bless your precocity! I had to wait nearly *2 years* for "The Return of the King" (I sold my soul to Whitcombe & Tombs for the first 2 volumes, and then hung on, with Frodo & Sam, for 20 months, until the 3rd volume...)

    I also had a letter from Tolkein's secretary, with an autograph note from JRRT. I had, as a 16yrold, asked this impertinent question about whakapapa - "Who did Meriadoc Brandybuck marry?" And Tolkien actually reconfigured his family histories! If you check out Rick Flavin's
    site, you can read all about it(if you check out Chris Tolkien's book, you can also read about it) - and I gave Rick the body of the letter for his research work. I kept address & date for me-

    which is one of the many reasons I prefer to be corrected when I'm wrong-

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

  • Peter Ashby,

    @Just Thinking

    Yes, us atheists and agnostics are seen by the proselytising religious types as some sort of absolutely empty and obviously naive spiritual vessels that just need telling about the 'good news' so we should be easy to convert. What they need to consider is that many of us were brought up to believe and had to work to lose that belief. So we are in effect immunised against the 'good news'. I am getting jaded arguing with believers on the net because you get ones who claim to have a 'new' argument/evidence for the existence of god, which almost never turns out to be true, it is just new to them. I have seen/heard all of them and dealt with them. I'm a 9th Dan Black Belt in defeating arguments that any deity exists (though the IPU does of course, don't pay attention to that arriviste deity the FSM). I specialise in delving amongst the foundations of arguments and undermining them by showing the premises to be false. But after a while it all gets very samey.

    Once more into the breach, dear friends once more . . .

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report

  • Peter Ashby,


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

    The left hand shift/control/alt keys on this one are nonfunctional. The command key is weirdly partly functional. Mind you since this is iirc the third keyboard we have had due to drinks accidents* I suspect this defect is externally inflicted.

    A bigger problem is the flaky hard drive, a new bigger one is on the way though. Then I get the joy of opening a G5 iSight iMac (look it up) and doing a drive swap. I am no neophyte on such things (done one on a RevB iMac that is some surgery). But this one has me a little worried.

    *We have horrible cheap Logitech job up in the attic for the next time one completely dies while we source a proper keyboard (no local Apple dealers sadly).

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report

  • Peter Ashby,

    The Hogfather is indeed a deeply wise book. I especially like the bit towards the end where Death points out to Susan that you can take the universe and grind it down to the finest particles and sieve them but not find a single molecule or atom of Justice or Fairness or Love yet Humans carry on as though they are set in stone or super hard impervious metal.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report

  • mark taslov,

    Mind you since this is iirc the third keyboard we have had due to drinks accidents* I suspect this defect is externally inflicted.

    I had the same trouble for years, then my friend bought me a rubber waterproof keyboard which works a treat (except that typing requires more pressure which took a little getting used to). It's covered in cigarette ash, but I occasionally give it a wash.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Rob Hosking,

    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.

    And the Oh God of Hangovers. He's a definitely a Socialist. And you lefties are welcome to Him.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report

  • Paul Williams,

    On the Australian corruption thing, I've lived here seven years and worked in state and federal government, there's plenty of evidence to show significant corruption of parts of Australian business and government. A simple google search will turn a number of recent examples, often to do access to land. It appears local government's particularly weak.

    Worst still, I actually think there's a remarkable tolerance for poor government or at least some significant failings in the democratic system - odd for a country that has compulsory voting. The situation in NSW is woeful. The only way the current government can be ejected from office before 2011 is if they themselves call for and lose a motion of no confidence. Fixed terms you see. Suppose to be for good governance. Not in this instance.

    Sydney's still a fantastic place to live, most public services are pretty good (parks and playgrounds particularly) but there's legitimate and immediate concern for the short-term future; urban intensification will quickly overwhelm existing public infrastructure. Fine if you live in the inner suburbs, well tolerable, but not so if you live further out. Actually, when you realise that many teachers and nurses can't afford to live anywhere near their work, perhaps even living in close won't necessarily be so good.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report

  • HenryB,

    @Rich Lock

    You are right:

    `Catholic' and `guilt' next to each other isn't exactly unknown.

    The `Religions of the World' t-shirt that I was given and never dare wear in public has Catholicism represented by "If shit happens, I deserve it". But guilt in and of itself ain't always a bad thing.

    However, thanks for the reference. It took to me to the interesting idea of a `Recovering Catholic' - not that that describes me either: too much respect for those Jesuits who educated me (which education, by the way, was in India so I can't say I lived in society that swan in `Christian religion').

    @Simon Grigg

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

    In my time in India I did meet on extremely rare occasions individuals whose moral blindness to "corruption" was almost total - but it was really, really rare. Most who engaged in corrupt practices knew it to be bad shit but did it anyway...with guilt as a consequence probably: a bit like, perhaps, my taking the car to work when I could walk or bike.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,


    `Catholic' and `guilt' next to each other

    I puzzled over that line last night ..... my browser underlined it .... it's 'guilt' not 'quilt' ...

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Simon Grigg,

    In my time in India

    Yeah, to be fair my observations relate mostly to Indonesia. I do think that the British left their colonies with a stronger understanding of social wrong than, say, the Dutch did, but I'm loathe to blame it all on the colonial power as the Indonesians, after 3/4 century of pretty shitty self rule, still seem to repeatedly do.

    Or the CIA (although mostly they get the blame for the nation's natural disasters..to prevent Orang Melayu from taking over the world).

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3284 posts Report

  • mark taslov,

    As I see it, there's corruption and then there's corruption. At the coalface of public service, the corruption is almost non existent, and this involves and affects a vast swathe of the population. But as we move up the income brackets of public service we can see a form of mild corruption exists, ie Christine Rankin, Tukoroirangi Morgan, Tuariki John Delamere, and this seems to mainly just be beat ups by the media, except in rare cases such as Taito Phillip Field.

    Then finally at the very top of the pecking order we see the most indescribably extreme forms of corruption where those who would care the most would sell off our entire country in the form of prime assets such as our energy, communication networks, banks, water and our land. To the extent where a flag to represent our nation need only read "For Sale!"* to truly express the heart of for what the administration stands.

    In contrast, corruption is widespread in China and cases like this are just a drop in the ocean,


    But regardless of how much internal corruption there is, the CCP seems ethically opposed to selling off these primary resources and services, aware that doing so would inevitably lead to private enterprise holding the country's economy by the balls. So while serious corruption in New Zealand is only ever enjoyed by a very select minority, the product they have provided and continue to provide is either New Zealand itself, or our serviceman's services.

    re: the religious discussion, and this kind of attitude

    But the campaign also aims to promote debate on issues such as God, religion and religion’s influence on society. Religion should not be a taboo subject that no one brings up at dinner parties – we should be discussing what we believe and why."

    I never found that religion was a taboo subject in society, except for those whom religion functions as a measure of social status (ie those that actually hold dinner parties), strapped into systems they have no real interest in other than as identity badges.

    Despite my support of freedom of speech, I don't think promoting religious debate is ever a good thing and the whole concept flies in the face of the basic human right to believe whatever you wish without the reactionary types attempting to change that.

    *since before the signing of the treaty

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • mark taslov,

    And why waste time debating religions when there are keys to swap. Since when is debating anything conducive to a good dinner party? Whatever happened to complementing the chef and telling some amusing anecdotes?

    Our individual perceptions are so unique, why attempt to broach the untenable?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • recordari,

    Our individual perceptions are so unique, why attempt to broach the untenable?

    Seconded. Just noticed on Stuff.co.nz that of 160000 voters, 58% voted 'no' to 'Is there a god?

    Does anyone feel vindicated, or otherwise?

    Nice cupcakes by the way.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report

  • Islander,

    One of the things I've noticed over 50+ years of consiously aware life
    (there were a dozen or so before that when I was very consciously aware of myself - and very puzzled by everyone else. About 12 was when I started observing and collating the social info-) is the dramatic reduction of religion (any religion) in society (taha Maori not so much but wow, has it diminished!) and in people's personal lives.

    The last time there was a family funeral that was religiously directed was when my Nana died in the mid 1960s(unfortunately, there's been quite a few funerals since then. )The last time I attended a religiously-based takiaue was in the late 1980s.

    It does not surprise me at all that a majority of ANZers reject the notion of a God or gods.

    Afterall, it's happened before: people who were familiar with the great religious centre of Taputapuatea quite soon made little, tribally or individually personalised, altars/temporarily-inhabited godsticks or hidden mauri.

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

  • Stephen Judd,

    Dear fellow atheists: do you read Dinosaur Comics? Cos that one's gold.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report

  • Islander,

    Annnnnd - bookmarked!
    (Now I do Stephen!)

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

  • Ben.Shirmer,

    In my opinion it is very sad that religion dies out in our societies. On the one hand religion is an important notion of culture and on the other hand it establishes a broad moral basis, which can be only achieved by intense philosophical studies.

    Welly • Since Nov 2009 • 46 posts Report

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