Fixing New Zealand’s Public Holiday and Festival Schedule

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The most absurd thing I ever saw in my life was in Brisbane in mid-December, 2001. On a sweltering Queensland summer day I walked to the corner dairy to buy a soft drink. The neighbourhood I was staying in was having a competition; the object being to best decorate your house for the season.

What the season apparently meant to Queenslanders was evident by the piles of fake snow, strings of bright lights and plywood sleds replete with papier-mache reindeer and a Santa in a thick red coat. It’s no better in New Zealand, because the core problem is that we celebrate Christmas in entirely the wrong season.

Christmas is known as Yule in Northern Europe, from where we inherited the cultural tradition. The Yule festival is celebrated at the same time of the calendar, which is of course the middle of winter in Northern Europe. The reason why this festival evolved in the cultures of the North is because, on the 24/25th of December in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun noticeably begins to climb from the nadir it reached a few days previously at the Winter Solstice.

This means that Christmas has a spiritual meaning that makes perfect sense to a Northern European in late December: the time of peak darkness has passed, and now light returns to the world. This is why the Yule festival is characterised by lights. The lights symbolise the human spirit that burns brightly in even the darkest times. And now that the darkest times are over, it’s time to rejoice.

The reason why Christmas is the “season of good cheer” is precisely because it represents a point in the natural cycle of the seasons at which the most difficult period, as measured by length of the day, has been overcome. It’s also the natural time for people to come together because it is very cold. Coming together in the cold to celebrate the return of the light in the days after the Winter Solstice has probably been a tradition for thousands of years before Abrahamism came to Europe and called the festival Christmas.

Therefore, celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer playing cricket and drinking cold drinks at the beach while stinking of sunscreen makes no sense at all. If anything, midsummer is a time of mourning in the European North.

Likewise Easter. The reason why we celebrate Easter with chocolate rabbits even today is because Easter is a fertility ritual (the word Easter is connected to the word estrogen, the female fertility hormone, and is celebrated at the full moon, the Moon being also a symbol of the feminine).

Celebrating a fertility ritual in early April makes sense if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. It is, after all, the advent of spring there, and after a long and dreary winter people are coming outside again and noticing how nice the girls look with less clothing in a bit of sunlight, especially if you’ve just spent a long winter with nothing but your sisters, mother and grandmother for company. In Northern Europe this is still commonly celebrated with a dance around the maypole (although this happens on Midsommar in Sweden and not early May), an obvious phallic symbol.

Halloween is another example that makes no sense. Although this is not a public holiday and is not likely to be, the theme of it suits the Northern Hemisphere and not the South. The last day of October is also about six weeks after the Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and therefore marks the day when the warmth begins to follow the light into the depths of winter.

This is why it is themed with symbols of death and foreboding. The point of the ritual is to treat the small death of winter as something fun and light-hearted, in order to lessen the sorrow one feels towards one’s inevitable big, and final, death. One enjoys Halloween to the degree that one is unafraid of death – this is why it is usually celebrated mostly by the young and by the old.

In New Zealand it feels ridiculous to drive down a street in late October when the evenings are just becoming very bright and to see young people in dark clothing trying to look spooky. We ought to celebrate Halloween on the last day of April, when the shadows are becoming long and the trees are red and yellow. This would make sense as the approaching winter would provide the right backdrop for a ghoulish festival.

My conviction is that New Zealanders of all cultural heritages must accept that if they are loyal to this country then they are Polynesians first and any cultural traditions from ancestral lands must be adapted to Aotearoa. The penalty for failing to do so is cognitive dissonance and a deeply unfortunate disconnection from the spirituality of the natural world.

In so far as we celebrate British seasonal events in a Southern Hemisphere country it appears as if our hearts are still back in Britain. The first thing we should correct in order to fix this is to celebrate our public holidays on days of the calendar that make sense for New Zealand, not for London.

After all, if there’s one thing that New Zealanders of all ancestries can agree on, it’s that New Zealand is dark in June and cold in August, and bright in December and warm in February.

Suggestion for a 14-day public holiday schedule:

(1) 01 JAN – New Year’s Day.
(2) 06 FEB – Waitangi Day.
(3) Some weekend in late March to serve as Queen’s Birthday Weekend (we don’t actually celebrate the Queen’s Birthday on the Queen’s Birthday so can change this).
(4) 25 APR – ANZAC Day.
(5) 31 APR – A Southern All-Souls Eve along the lines of the Northern European Halloween.
(6) Matariki in late May/early June – this is extremely important as it represents the first efforts of anyone in New Zealand to associate a time of spiritual practice with a regularly occurring natural phenomenon (the rise of the Pleiades cluster when viewed from NZ).
(7, 8, 9) 3 days over winter to replace Christmas, probably the 24 – 26 JUN. This would mean we have time off to celebrate having survived the winter with our friends and family.
(10) 09 AUG – This is the day that George Nepia played his last All Blacks Test. The point of a national holiday on this date would be to celebrate New Zealand’s sporting achievements in all disciplines and to celebrate how sport has broken down barriers of class and race in New Zealand. It would also break up the period between Christmas and Easter.
(11, 12) 2 days for Easter – the Friday before the weekend closest to the first full moon immediately after the autumn equinox in late September and the Monday immediately following that. This sounds complicated but it’s literally the reverse of what is done now. This would therefore fall in late September on most occasions.
(13) 4th Monday of October – Labour Day.
(14) 31 DEC – New Year’s Eve.

The Verity Key

After most of humanity was wiped out in the Mindvirus Plague, the world’s foremost superpower in 2072 is New Australia. As this nascent Southern empire struggles with a series of murders called the Moneybook killings, the machine cultist Jonty Gillespie is trying to stay alive and out of trouble until his team can win the nation’s premiere virtual reality fighting championship.

Acting on the belief that machine cultists are behind the Moneybook killings, the XSA agent Richard Nordmark coerces Jonty into an adventure that encounters exotic drugs that open dimensions he’s never imagined, mind doctors who live to crack the minds of other men, a communitarian technocult balancing between triumph and oblivion, and technology that forces him to reevaluate his understanding of what it means to be human.

Jonty’s developing involvement with the remote mind control device called the Verity Key gives him more power than he could ever have dreamed of, and with it the responsibility to confront the violence in his past and in the hearts of other men.

Critics enjoyed Vince McLeod’s portrayal of protagonist Jonty Gillespie, who begins the story a hedonistic nihilist but who finds within himself a purpose to keep fighting even when all seems lost.

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Where to buy The Verity Key:

New Zealand readers can buy a paperback copy of The Verity Key from TradeMe HERE.

International readers can buy a paperback copy of The Verity Key from Amazon HERE.

New Zealand and International readers can buy a Kindle copy of The Verity Key from Amazon HERE.

What the BetFair Market is Telling us About the US Presidential Election

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Although a glance at the BetFair market for November’s US Presidential election looks, on the surface, to be a comfortable win for Hillary Clinton, there are some facts that go against this simple conclusion.

There has been a lot of discussion about Hillary Clinton’s health. Much of the mainstream media, though, seems willing to write this off as an alt-right conspiracy theory.

But at an appearance during a 9/11 memorial Hillary left because she was “overwhelmed with emotion”. Later, the story was corrected to “overwhelmed with heat” (the day was not especially warm). Even later still, the story was changed to “pneumonia”, so we can rightly suspect that there is a major political secret about Hillary’s health that could define this presidential campaign.

The odds of Hillary winning the Presidency blew out when this was reported, from $1.45 to $1.61. It went up and down after that with low volumes being placed, as the market started to suspect that she might be forced to drop out of the race.

There are Democratic replacements for Hillary at short odds, but this is not the same for Republican replacements for Trump. The difference between the two gives us some clues about how much the market suspects Hillary might drop out.

After the 9/11 medical event, Bernie Sanders was paying a mere $38 to win the Presidency, reflecting the belief that, as premiere challenger to Hillary during the primaries, he would be the obvious choice to take over should Hillary’s health fail.

Joe Biden came in to $30 on rumours that the Democratic party had conducted polls suggesting Biden had a 20-point lead over Trump in a head-to-head election.

Tim Kaine came in all the way in to $95 from $1000, reflecting the widespread belief that, for some reason, it is too late to change the candidate and so the Democrats would have to go with Kaine should Hillary become incapacitated.

Using VJM Publishing’s Draw Arbitrage Finder program we can calculate that the BetFair market considers $16.65 to be fair value for any candidate other than Clinton and Trump. Considering that the odds of the closest challenger to Trump, Paul Ryan, are $610, this equates to a roughly 6% chance that Clinton will drop out of the Presidential race.

Also of interest is that Trump is doing much better than Brexit was at any stage of that campaign, including, crucially, the morning of the vote itself. This suggests that the apparent advantage that Hillary has is well within the range of possible outcomes that could be the result of Establishment manipulation.

If Pete Rainey Had a Clue, He’d Put Cannabis Law Reform Before Hone Ma Heke

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Pete Rainey needs to stop crying about Hone Ma Heke and support a policy that will actually benefit the people of Nelson. What Nelson needs isn’t to raise a lynch mob and go after a protester – it needs to legalise cannabis.

In few places on Earth does cannabis have more popular support than among the people of Nelson. This is a hugely pro-cannabis area, with the sentiment only getting stronger the further West from Nelson one goes. Almost everyone here smokes it – young, old or in between. You can see Bob Marley posters in several stores and a handful of others openly sell cannabis paraphernalia.

So a mayoral candidate that promoted such a thing would have the support of the locals.

Also, we need the money here in Nelson. It has been estimated by the Treasury that cannabis law reform would make the country $330,000,000 per year, roughly half of that savings from not enforcing cannabis prohibition and the other half from taxes. If the Nelson area has 1.5% of New Zealand’s population, it stands to reason that we would reap 1.5% of the savings of cannabis law reform.

This amounts to almost $5,000,000 per year.

With the proceeds from cannabis law reform alone, Nelson would save, in ten years, enough money to build a gondola that rivalled the biggest gondola in the world!

That’s the sort of vision Nelson needs – not petty hatred aimed at a guy already at the bottom of the ladder.

The Black Caps Tour of India, 2016

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The return of Jimmy Neesham to the Black Caps Test side, announced this week, might go some way towards filling the Brendon McCullum-sized hole at No. 5 as the Black Caps begin their tour of India later this month.

It’s very difficult to pick exactly what Black Caps side will take the field when the first Test begins in Kanpur on September 22.

For one reason, the bowling attack will likely be very different to that which played in Africa. The last time the Black Caps were in India they opened their World T20 campaign with a shock win over India themselves – and spinners took the first nine wickets (Santner 4, Sodhi 3, McCullum 2).

Gavin Larsen suggested that it was of value to the Black Caps side to have two seam-bowling allrounders in Neesham and Doug Bracewell. If both play, along with the expected two spinners, one of the regular pace trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner will have to sit out.

Of interest is that the workhorse of the pace attack, Neil Wagner, is up to 9th place in the Test bowling rankings. This puts extreme pressure on Tim Southee’s position, as Trent Boult is generally considered the more dangerous of the new ball pair. Boult is also 10th on the rankings – Southee is a creditable but not compelling 15th.

If two of Santner, Craig and Sodhi play, there may be only room for one seam-bowling allrounder (likely Neesham) and two of the regular pace trio.

This is unless something changes with the batting. Although Martin Guptill might be the Black Cap with the most pressure on his spot, his primary challenger, Jeet Raval, has been dropped from the squad (along with Matt Henry). That probably means that Guptill will have the whole India tour to make good on the immense potential he has shown as an ODI batsman.

Henry Nicholls was not impressive in Zimbabwe, making only 18 and 15 and playing some rash shots. He didn’t get to bat in the first Test against South Africa. Then, in the second Test, under immense pressure from the strongest bowling trio in world cricket right now in Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada, he outscored even Kane Williamson, coming in at 3/5 in the fourth innings and losing Williamson soon after.

The promise shown against that world-class attack might be enough to dismiss talk of Neesham batting at 5 in order to strengthen the bowling options.

Also, because India at home with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja is an incredibly difficult challenge right now, the logical thing to do might be to strengthen the batting.

It’s possible that we will see a team that looks like:

1. Latham
2. Guptill
3. Williamson (c)
4. Taylor
5. Nicholls
6. Neesham (2)
7. Watling (wk)
8. Santner (5)
9. Craig (4)
10. Wagner (3)
11. Boult (1)

The War on Drugs Was Known to be a Failure Twenty Years Ago

drugwarfailure

Much recent media attention has focused on the question of whether the War on Drugs has failed in New Zealand. Amazingly, a review of Ben Vidgen’s 1999 book State Secrets suggests that the War on Drugs was widely known to be a failure since at least two decades ago, even at the highest political level.

One of the arguments that John Key has been rolling out to deny the need for cannabis law reform is that it “would send the wrong message”. Apparently his idea is that if cannabis was legalised in New Zealand many vulnerable people would interpret that as a green light to smoke as much of it as possible.

Leaving aside the obvious point that no-one in New Zealand who wants to smoke cannabis is waiting for permission from the government to do so, it’s interesting how much mileage conservatives have got out of that one bit of rhetoric.

On page 33 of Vidgen’s bestseller State Secrets it says that John Howard back in 1998 used the same rhetoric to stymie cannabis law reform in Australia. Noting that already in the late 1990s it was understood by intelligent people that “by removing the profit incentive associated with drug dealing, decriminalisation would, in effect, destroy the capital base from which organised crime’s influence originates,” the book describes how Howard rejected the idea on the grounds of “the wrong message”.

Perhaps depressingly, Vidgen’s book makes it clear that the Establishment has simply ignored the voices of reason for decades now. Writing that the best way to view drug use in society was as a “social and health problem”, it seems incredible that almost twenty years later it would be necessary to make the same arguments.

Given that the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party won 1.66% of the vote in the 1996 election, it’s a shame that we could so stubbornly remain deaf to the truth, even when doing so comes at horrendous expense.

Vidgen agrees with this column that the failure of the War on Drugs is deliberate. He points out in State Secrets that such talk inevitably gets dismissed as conspiracy theory, but that if an objective observer joins the dots it becomes apparent that the legal status of many drugs – cannabis in particular – affords opportunity for extralegal actors to profit immensely from their trafficking and sale.

Some say that intelligence agencies sell drugs in New Zealand to finance off-the-books operations. Probably most people would be horrified to know how deep the rabbit hole goes.