Monday, August 31, 2009

Low hanging fruit and traffic cops

This morning, as I was driving to the supermarket, just at the moment I realised that my wallet (with my driver's licence in it) was at home, I noticed that I was driving slightly over the speed limit. I slowed down, but to my horror I spotted a police patrol car pulling out of a side street and it started following me.

Naturally, instinct took over. I swore, reduced my speed to a consistent 43km/h, not moving even half a km/h over this, to prove a point convincingly that I had always been travelling at this speed and the officer must be mistaken if he/she thought I had been speeding. Various absurd thoughts rushed through my panicking head: my husband's going to be furious - we can't afford to pay a speeding ticket; I've got two kids in the car - this doesn't look good and I'm an irresponsible parent for driving at 53km/h in a 50km/h zone; should I deftly try and lose the officer on a wild goose chase, while sticking to my consistent speed of 43km/h? The kids in the car were trying to talk to me, but my powers of speech were reduced to "Sssshhhh be quiet, I can't think."

I reached an intersection, indicated to turn right (having provided over 3 seconds warning to the vehicle behind me, naturally), and swooned with relief when the police patrol car turned left. Only at that point did I realise that the officer had never switched on the sirens or lights and had never instructed me to pull over. I briefly felt unable to continue driving; such was the relief of avoiding demerit points or an unaffordable fine.

Eventually, while continuing to stick to my 43km/h (with the officer gone, this speed now only served to annoy all those behind me, but I was still in shock), I made it to the supermarket, where I remembered again that I had left my wallet (with my driver's license in it) at home.

I returned home, had a desperate coffee, and started to question my reaction.

Why did I panic like that? If I had been speeding, and had been stupid enough to leave my driver's license at home, knowing full well what is required of me by law, why was I contemplating losing the officer or trying to suggest that he/she was mistaken? I grant that I would not have had the courage to send a police officer on a wild good chase, but I have challenged officers in the past when I have felt they have pulled me over unfairly, and have never succeeded in talking them out of it (even if I knew they were wrong in their judgement). So why couldn't I just accept my fate?

And then I started to get annoyed with myself. Yes, I have had two tickets over the last 20 years. One (justified) ticket over 15 years ago for going too fast ("But officer, I'm nearly out of petrol and have to get to the petrol station in a hurry" didn't work - I was young). And one (disputable) ticket for not coming to a long enough completely stationary stop at a stop sign (it appears there is an unwritten length of time that one must stay stopped - I challenged it as far as I could, but in the end it was cheaper to just pay up). On both occasions, the guilt and shame - and deep irritation at the police - felt overwhelming... goody two-shoes that I am.

As much as I despise the combination of traffic rules and bored police, it isn't common for police in NZ to exert physical violence over people. So why do I regard police as thugs with poor judgement and limited intelligence? Why do I have absolutely no respect for police? Am I being a little unfair? (Moreover, why has my upbringing, with its heavy focus on obedience and good behaviour, made me overwhelmed with guilt when I knowingly break these tenets, even over something that is relatively minor? But that's, perhaps, a different blog.)

I read recently that $36 million was collected for speed infringements from fixed and mobile cameras and direct police tickets, that the decision to introduce newer cameras is part of an effort to reduce the road toll to less than 300 by 2010, and that more than 4.5 million tickets were issued in the last 10 years, generating at least $350 million. But that 260 people have died on the roads already this year, compared to 230 for the same period in 2008 (

I am deeply cynical whenever I read reports of police celebrating the success of a speed camera, and the significant revenue generated. Where does this revenue go? As far as I can see, it appears to be focused on elaborate advertising campaigns, rather than targeting efforts on offenders, recidivist or otherwise, who maim or kill with a degree of regularity or a lack of remorse. That is, the revenue appears to go towards purchasing more speed cameras or employing more officers, developing bigger campaigns, and focusing on minor infringements, rather than appropriately punishing those who drive in a truly irresponsible manner and who main or kill others. All this "investment" in new cameras, and the focus on pulling over people for minor infringements, clearly does nothing to address the road toll - no new argument there.

I refuse to make the leap of logic that minor traffic infringements cause accidents. They don’t, and to suggest this removes personal responsibility from the driver because it says that the accident wasn’t caused by the dangerous, negligent, and incompetent driving, but by the driver doing something that was “illegal”.

Why is it believed to be easier to focus on widespread but minor traffic violations, than it is to focus on people who drive dangerously and cause an accident?

Is it because it is easier for the police to focus on and prosecute those infringements that are easily quantifiable and revenue generating, rather than genuinely negligent driving that is harder to come by when you're cruising in a patrol car? Or is it symptomatic of the policy culture in NZ where it is believed it is easier to cast a wide net over everyone and ban everything, rather than find solutions that don’t turn people into criminals for minor indiscretions that cause no damage to people or property?

Perhaps part of the solution, along with proper punishments for dangerous driving, lies in deterrents, such as compulsory insurance, or an ACC levy system that financially penalises poor driver behaviour. The poor drivers will reap any consequence of that through their own high ACC costs and insurance premiums. The potential to be financially worse off through poor driving ability may be more of a deterrent than the prospect of being “caught” by a cop. My concern, however, is this still relies on the police making a judgement call on what is poor driving behaviour based on the current culture of widespread banning by developing a blanket rule, rather than focusing on the real problem - dangerous driving behaviour and its consequences.

Is my fear, lack of respect, and total distrust of police based on my perception that, with their focus on generating revenue, and by focusing their resources on normally obedient people, they pick the low hanging fruit and meet a revenue quota, while doing nothing about those who do actually drive dangerously?

Alas, this only means I will continue to regard the police as those with poor judgement and limited intelligence.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A holiday would be lovely, thanks John

I can picture it now..... a $59.1 million week, paid for by someone else, filled with drama events, sports and outdoor recreation activities. Along with a 10-day adventure camp! How exciting! Perhaps I could go to Queenstown and go white water rafting? Ahhh, sounds just blissful! And it's free!!! And I'm told it will help me build connections with my community, an important factor in steering me away from a lifetime of crime.

No, wait. I can't go because I'm too old, I'm not from a "poor" neighbourhood, I don't feel "challenged" when I'm bored, I don't "drift around", I don't commit crimes, I don't deprive innocent people of their liberty. And I'm taking a guess that it is unlikely that my children will ever get to experience this camp either. Wild guess on my part, admittedly.

But, if it's going to happen, for $59.1 million I would also like to see the programme extended to the parents who have raised these children into a "lifetime of crime". Why the hell aren't they going to these boot camps? And being sterilised while there.

I look forward to some hard data on how valuable this programme will be, the drop out rates, and what's happened to those who dropped out. And what's happened to those who completed the programme. There should be no privacy gifted to the participants - they are using taxpayers' money, so they should be open to scrutiny. Unfortunately, any useful data probably won't be available for about 10-15 years, by which point we will all be bored with it and will have moved onto to something else (that perhaps won't upset the teenagers so much).

I don't have a hard opinion on the idea of boot camps. I don't know enough about their success (and quick web research wasn't enlightening). The cost bugs me enormously, of course, and a breakdown of how this figure was reached would be appreciated, but I probably won't see it.

There are two further things about this that bug me. Other than the cost, I have already questioned why this isn't extended to useless parents. The third bug of mine is that this has come about because John Key, of the Glorious Labour-Lite, was "personally offended" that some children weren't going to holiday programmes because their parents couldn't afford to send them. Yeah, right. I would really love to know how many parents didn't send their kids to holiday camp because to do so would have involved putting some money aside each week, and foregoing something for themselves. The discipline required would have been crippling. And I'm sure my sarcasm would be lost on many.

Without really knowing how useful this programme will be at knocking sense into half-brained idiots (who presumably come from the shallow end of the gene pool in the first place), I still see holiday programmes as a luxury. What is not a luxury, John, is the need, for example, for some children to need extra help at school in order to survive academically, or in order to ensure their talents are not lost in the dumbed down NCEA. Or the need for some taxpayers to have much-needed life-saving health treatment. Why are you so offended by an inability to attend holiday programmes and not offended by, for example, special needs children losing their teacher aides, even if parents are willing to contribute financially to them? And why do people who have paid their taxes but are now dying while on hospital waiting lists not offend you?

And why are you "offended"? I don't understand your use of the word.

And as for Adair Davis, who sends her grandson Himiona, 9, to a camp at Riversdale beach, because it gives her a much-needed break and allows him some time out. "I need time to normalise and get my breath and sleep and Himiona needs that time with peers and mentoring. I will keep sending him for both our sakes." Needing time to "normalise" (how quaint), catching your breath and sleeping are, surprisingly perhaps, part of the deal when you're a parent. The trick is to get these little perks that keep us sane without having to resort to programmes that cost the taxpayer $59.1 million. If you've been sending little Hinemoa to a camp and paying for it yourself, then good on you. Keep it up, I say. You paying for it yourself teaches little Hinemoa that grandma works hard for her money, and saves sensibly so that he can go to camp. In time, Hinemoa can get himself a job, or reach an arrangement with Grandma and neighbours where he gets paid to do little chores, and with this money he can pay for camp himself. It also teaches him that life isn't (or shouldn't) be a free ride on taxpayers money. Hey, if the idea is to send him off to camp to hang out with peers and mentors, have you thought about joining the Scouts???

But, no. Jump on the welfare wagon, little Hinemoa! Enjoy your holiday programme that other people have paid for. And I look forward to reading in years to come the heartening story of how your grandmother used that money, that she was spending on your camps, on something worthwhile, like your future tertiary study.

If taxpayers really have an extra $59.1 million lying around for holiday programmes, perhaps they could have some of it back? Not all taxpayers are offended that some parents can't or won't send their children to holiday programmes for financial reasons. I would wager a bet that most people have more pressing things to be offended about. If it offends YOU so much, John, gather the funds through non-taxpayer means. If it's really so important, I'm sure there will be many businesses willing to sponsor something so worthwhile. Only put the burden on taxpayers if or when you can prove they will be getting value for money. I would have thought you would approve of a degree of accountability for how money is spent?

Oh, I forgot, you're Labour-Lite, and you're personally offended. No chance of that happening, then.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. Wish I had read Lindsay Mitchell's blog before posting my own. Could have saved myself a rant:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

John Minto's leap of logic

I don't have a quick solution to child abuse in NZ. While child abuse is, of course, absolutely terrible, it is still a rare occurrence. I resent it when leftie loonies claim it is a "community problem". No it isn't. I don't abuse my children so stop wasting your resources on me and focus on those who do.

John Minto, however, pretends to have the solution! Get rid of poor people! Not quite what his communist rant states, obviously, but that's the logical conclusion I draw from it.

In John Minto's opinion ( it seems child abuse has nothing to do with the parents' upbringing, culture, or maturity.

No, the problems stem purely from the fact that some people are financially poor (as opposed to intellectually poor). To stop child abuse, we must take away the money from those who have worked hard to earn it, and just give it to poor people. This will stop child abuse. "To reduce and eliminate child abuse, we must first adopt economic and social policies which value all members of society ...To reduce child abuse and alleviate the awful social problems which bedevil the country, we need economic policies which redistribute wealth from those who haven't earned it to those who do the work."

Now, please correct me if I'm wrong, but the media reports of most (if not all?) of the child abuse deaths over the last year have highlighted that the children were living in an environment where welfare was the primary source of money. And, my generalisation here, it would appear that this welfare went towards items that were perhaps not necessary, such as alcohol and drugs. It seldom seemed to be used to the child's advantage.

And the more I read Mr Minto's statement, the more ridiculous it sounds. Welfare is not money that is earned. So Mr Minto's argument falls flat very quickly. Is he suggesting that those who collect welfare should "redistribute" their weekly payments to those who slave in jobs to ensure they maintain mortgage payments, food on the table, and other necessities? No, of course not. His is a communist rant, where all those who earn more than he does, regardless of how hard they worked to earn that money, are capitalist pigs who must be taxed so that the likes of Mr Minto can continue to gather money without working.

The welfare argument aside, though, I find Mr Minto's argument that child abuse stems from a lack of money to be offensive. Yes, a lack of money makes it hard to buy all that would be nice to buy for one's child, but it does not affect the degree of love, respect and affection. If it does, then I question the suitability of the breeders to parenthood.

Mr Minto, "putting families first", as you put it, has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with treating fellow human beings, regardless of whether they are our children, partners, siblings, parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, and strangers with respect, love and empathy. These are not qualities that are learnt with more money in the bank - indeed, look at how financially poor communities in some cultures band together to help one another. And these are not qualities that are learnt by sitting around doing nothing while hard working taxpayers earn all your welfare payments. The lessons you are teaching the young and impressionable people who may have (unfortunately) read your column are damaging, disrespectful, and (you won't care about this) economically unsustainable.

And, this may come as a surprise to you, but your advice will also have as much impact on child abuse in NZ as the anti-smacking legislation. None at all.

So what’s worse: having poor grammar or being anally retentive about English?

Having just been labeled a grammar queen, and hating it, I promise I will try my best to make a conscious effort not to volunteer grammatical advice to anyone unless solicited. I admit I find it hard to not correct EVERYTHING that I see that is grammatically incorrect, right down to the innocuous whiteboard outside the kindergarten, and I struggle to contain my annoyance. I also have to admit that I commit the occasional grammatical error, especially during times when my brain is thinking up the words much faster than my fingers can type. I generally love the accuracy that comes with reading a text that is beautifully composed, corrected and edited, but in some small way I will also try to understand that being too anal about text may be very annoying.

My new rule is: if I can understand it, then I will take a deep breath and it will be just fine. And if it’s written by someone whose first language isn’t English, then it’s okay to an extent.

Can I live with that, though? I don't know.

I'm sure that people who say they hate poor English have, on many occasions in their lives, misspelled something, or mixed up plurals and singulars, or mixed up who and whom. Although horrible English can be annoying, perhaps being anal about it can be annoying too. When you’re in a hurry or you’re flustered or excited, typing (or speaking) can be carried out carelessly. I appreciate that.

As someone who grew up with English as a second language, I do sometimes question what right I have to sanctimoniously correct those who speak English as their only language.

On an end note, I’ll also say that purposeful stupidity is annoying and asking me to be less retentive about this might be a step too far. fndng shrtcts t evry wrd s stpd. l33t language (that’s pronounced LEET, and it’s the sort of language used in text messages, fora - or forums if you prefer, some Facebook comments, and some blog boards) is just difficult for me to read.

It’s true that when text is perfect, and it reads well, it’s gratifying, but when I do encounter the written word that is imperfect, should it really affect me?

I don’t like anal people in general. They must be unhappy. The fact that I'm not unhappy makes me question whether I in fact have the problem, but I promise I will try to moderate my reactions in the interests of world harmony.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Steven Joyce is my hero!

Just a quick one today - I am THRILLED that the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has taken over the Western Link Road as part of the State Highway improvements. What a relief to no longer have to deal with the Council, and instead deal with central government - people who, on the whole, have a much better appreciation of process and of fair play. The KCDC's public humiliation is self-inflicted. They've only had since 1947 to build the damn road, and they've known all along that the funding was dependent on the road taking the traffic off the highway, but with their heads too far in the sand, they have been unable to grasp the basic logic that this won't happen as long as the WLR is a 50kph back road (that doesn't go past any schools).

And as for the DUMB (can you tell I'm lost for words today?) comments from Coastlands that re-routing the highway away from the mall will be detrimental to business, have you noticed that the current mall by the highway isn't exactly a busy mall?? And have you noticed that malls in Auckland, and Queensgate in Lower Hutt are not on a State Highway and their malls are always busy?? And have shops in them that people want to shop at?? If the mall is worth visiting, then people will come. But I shouldn't be surprised at Coastland's response; these are the same people whose submission on the Kapiti airport development involved an agreement with the airport developers that any retail occupiers at the proposed airport would not be in competition with Coastlands businesses. Who cares what shoppers might want.

For the moment, Steven Joyce is my hero. His comments that money isn't necessarily an issue, and that council will be "consulted" but not necessarily involved in the final decision, are music to my ears. I don't think I've ever looked forward to a consultation document so much. And the short (6 week) consultation period thrills me. I love this sort of decision making, and I love that the views of those directly affected are being considered (not the Peak Oil loony lefties).

I'm hoping NZTA ignores all the pleas from the Council. They've had long enough to make a decision, but instead have dithered over political points-scoring. KCDC no longer deserves to have a voice on the WLR.

UPDATE: Some great comments here at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SPCA - the Cultural Acceptability Crusaders

This morning, I'm wondering if there is an SPCHG (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Huhu Grubs). If so, they would have been appalled at the callous, inhumane way in which the friendly man who picked up some firewood from my property this morning ate the fat, raw huhu grub off a log. I was certainly left feeling queasy. But, hey, each to their own.

I note that the SPCA (Animals) is calling for a review of the Animal Welfare Act after a man cooked his dog in his umu pit. The Tongan man, Paea Taufa, living in South Auckland, decided to eat the dog because presumably he eats other meat and enjoys the taste of dog too, and his dog had become unmanageable. Presumably the SPCA would have preferred him to release his dog to the rampant breeding grounds that they so excitedly denounce at every funding opportunity. If people consume dogs, does that mean there will be fewer stray dogs roaming the streets and breeding, and therefore will this make it harder for the SPCA to get funding to pay for euthanasia drugs?

The Animal Welfare Act does permit the killing of dogs if the animal is slaughtered quickly and painlessly. The man in question did kill his dog humanely, so I'm at a loss to explain why the Auckland SPCA chief executive, Garth Halliday, now wants a review of the Act to ensure such practices are "condemned". Allow me to systematically condemn the SPCA now.

"Clearly this culture is totally unacceptable in New Zealand."
Is it? What culture is acceptable in NZ then? If there is to be "acceptable" and "unacceptable" cultures now, I would like to know what the cultural expectations are of me. Is it culturally acceptable in NZ to eat huhu grubs? I don't believe huhu grub consumption is widespread, even in NZ. Ergo, is not culturally acceptable? There are many Pacific Islanders in NZ - are you saying that it is unacceptable for them to recognise and embrace their culture just because they now live in NZ?

He then unwisely continues:
[However], we must understand that to certain immigrants from the Pacific Islands the practice is considered normal."
Yes. It is considered NORMAL. Just like to certain immigrants, the practice of eating goats, sheep, cows, birds, horses, cats, snakes, crocodiles is considered normal. You implore us to show understanding while at the same time denouncing Mr Taufa for following a practice that is legal, was carried out in a humane way, and is acceptable to the people in his community.

Oh, please Mr Halliday, please stop before you say something more. Oh no, no, no! You go on!

"The law as it stands does not allow the SPCA to prosecute those who indulge in this habit if the animal is killed humanely, as it was in this case, neither does the law condemn the eating of domestic pets."

Surely, in this instance, the law is to be praised. Please define "domestic pets", Mr Halliday. I have sheep, chickens, ducks and fish. These animals are on my property because I think they are cute. They have names. My children play freely with them. They are not for consumption. Therefore, I would regard them as domestic pets. Are you telling me that the law should be changed to condemn the eating of sheep, chickens, ducks and fish (and their by-products - think about where the gelatine in your marshmallow came from, Mr Halliday). Do you eat these animals? Would you support a law that prevented you from eating them?

I am failing to see how it is possible at all for you to take the moral high ground; even if you are a strict vegan, you have no right to dictate that we all be strict vegans.

Apparently the Auckland SPCA and NZ Companion Animal Council are going to provide all island immigrants with multi-lingual brochures to provide basic animal welfare guidelines. I seriously hope these brochures do not impose "culturally acceptable" guidelines on immigrants.

And why stop at Pacific Island immigrants? What right does the SPCA have to "talk to Tongan community leaders about preventing the killing of dogs for human consumption"? I implore the Tongan community leaders to ignore the rhetoric of the SPCA, and to increase your dog consumption in the interests of preventing rampant mongrel breeding. And because you enjoy dog meat and are killing the dogs humanely.

Robyn Kippenberger, SPCA national chief executive, wades deeper in the SPCA hole by suggesting that the issue might be viewed differently by other cultures (presumably she is referring to cultures other than hers and Mr Halliday's). I believe she is incorrect when she claims that "the overwhelming majority of NZers of all ethnicities will share our shock and concern over this incident." According to one article on this, killing and eating dog in NZ is becoming more common. I look forward to the day when dog is an acceptable item on the menu at the local takeaway. I may not choose to eat it, but I would be pleased to see the market respond to people's tastes, just like it excites me when the market responds by catering to the different tastes of different immigrants.

She marginally redeems herself by saying it is also an issue of Food Safety (presumably around home slaughter and hygiene?). But there's a whole blog there on the pointlessness of the NZFSA that I'm not sure I have the energy for now.

The SPCA is planning to raise the issue with the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs. Will common sense and the rights of immigrants to eat what they want to eat (and hopefully encourage others to try their cuisine) prevail with Georgina te Heuheu?

Regulation - The NZ Way

The Law Commission, that sometimes intelligent, purportedly independent crown entity has yet again failed to surprise me with their paper on the public consultation on liquor laws

I confess I have not read the behemoth of a document in its entirety. I completely lost interest early on when I noticed the emotive side boxes detailing how particular people had been ruined or lost their lives through the consumption of alcohol (in one particular act of editorial desperation, the case is detailed of a liquor shop owner who was shot dead by thugs who were trying to steal alcohol from his premises). So, as any sensible person would do, I chose to flick to the end of the document and read their recommendation.

And, honestly, what was I expecting from an organisation that's headed up by a socialist former-PM? Why, pray tell me, did I hope to read policies that were intuitive, intelligent, and that recognised that the majority of people who consume alcohol do not impinge on the wellbeingof others?

No, naturally the recommended policy options, all of them, jump to the tired, worn old NZ logic that regulation will fix all problems. I can almost hear the brainstorming that went into this one. "OK, fellow Law Com brains. We all know that, based on largely exaggerated media reports and one sided submissions from addiction charities that alcohol harms some people - no, make that ALL people, even if that's an invalid assertion. Now, we also know that some people die having consumed alcohol. Therefore alcohol is bad and its sale must be REGULATED!!! YES!!! If we REGULATE and TAX alcohol, all the problems that have destroyed 'society' will end! We will all live in peace, comforted in the knowledge that we are safe from the evils of alcohol because it will be taxed and sold with age restrictions. Whoa! What a brilliant piece of policy development here! Pats on backs, everyone."

Ummm. No, actually. It's a dreadful paper and the policy development and recommendations are amateur, judgemental, and, dare I say it, probably ineffectual. They do nothing more than rehash current policies. Which is doing nothing more than rejigging something that is already in need of change, but not in the direction recommended.

As with a lot of NZ policymaking, all the writers of this paper do is delude themselves that it is easier and more effective to regulate and tax the innocent majority than it is to actually police and punish (if that's still permitted these days??) the few who deprive others of their liberty Already I've heard pro-control Green Party view that current laws have led to a rise in addiction. How arrogant and offensive. OK, I'm no addiction expert, but my logic tells me that those with addictions use mind-altering substances, whether that be alcohol, food, drugs, whatever, as an escape from deeper issues that need resolving first. How is increasing regulations and taxes going to resolve the issues for those prone to addiction?

The paper is DREADFUL, lacking in facts and robust data. Shame on you, Law Commission. I can only hope those who read its recommendations in Parliament have more sense. But I'm not holding my breath.

This is chocolate

I hate Cadbury "chocolates" (it pains me to use the word chocolate to describe Cadbury products). The few times I have eaten Cadbury"chocolates" have been moments of emergency and desperation, where no other option was available or where gifters were watching expectantly. These lapses into Cadbury products were, thankfully, rare, and the lesson was learnt quickly that no chocolate craving can ever be adequately satisfied with Cadbury chocolates.

So, imagine my sadistic glee at the recent news that Cadbury (in NZ, at least) was replacing the already minute quality of cocoa butter in its chocolate with palm oil, that scourge of Indonesia that is not produced sustainably and that threatens the livelihood of the very cute orangutans.

The bulk of the "chocolate" products you buy from your supermarket are not chocolate, but rather should be regarded as confectionary.

Pure chocolate contains more than 65% cacao. The only ingredients in a good bar of chocolate are cacao paste and cocoa butter.

Cacao paste is the gooey mass made from crushing, heating and conching the roasted beans. This makes up 45-70% (but usually just above 50%) of the bar, and is called many things, such as cacao liquor, cacao mass and cacao paste.

Cocoa butter (which is NOT dairy butter!) is a flavourless fat that is squeezed out during "Dutch processing", which creates powdered cocoa. Extra cocoa butter is added to create the texture of the bars, and is used to adjust the texture and flavour. More cocoa butter means a smoother, creamer, less bitter bar that melts beautifully. Less cocoa butter means a sharper, dryer, more powdery, and some would argue more flavourful bar. Notice that this means that cocoa powder is a by-product of making chocolate bars, not the other way around!

Sugar - the less, the better otherwise it interferes with the cacao. Enough said.

I was going to outrage you, dear reader, by listing the ingredients on a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk. But decided against it. What's the point? Regardless of what's in the product, it does not taste like, and is not, chocolate.

The only explanation I have for the continued existence of such companies is that its products cater to those with tastebuds damaged by years of processed food consumption. There are plenty of quality chocolates on the market that are affordable (see Whittakers), and that look and taste like chocolate should. The fact that people don't wake up to this, and don't treat chocolate with the respect it deserves, pains me.

Placing a square of rich, dark chocolate on your tongue is a thoroughly erotic experience. The temperature of your mouth is enough to melt the chocolate into decadent, pleasurable hedonism. It is not something that needs to be munched, chewed, 'eaten', masticated. If that is what is required to explode the flavours on your tastebuds, then it's nothing more than grease/fat/lard. How sexy is that? How can you do that to yourself?

We have demeaned the value of chocolate. We treat truffles with reverence. Why not start doing the same with chocolate? I normally rage against regulation, but if we are going to control how food is labelled to ensure it accurately reflects the item to be consumed, we must be consistent and differentiate between chocolates and confectionary.

Their confectionary is already nauseating, but now Cadbury's is trying to pander to the naive and gullible with FairTrade branding.
Liberty Scott succinctly explains why this is nothing more than a marketing gimmick
I knew the FairTrade brand was suspect, but Liberty Scott's background on it is enlightening and articulate.  I urge you to read it!

I could commit crimes for a living

Who was this judge? Teenage boy (apologies, location and sentencing judge unknown), who chose to spend his time breaking into, stealing, and trashing houses. His punishment? An agreement reached with a (probably waste of money) non-government organisation to provide him with a gym membership, on the basis that this would keep him busy and out of mischief, $700 to buy gym gear, and an amplifier for his guitar, along with tickets to a rock concert.

I'm guessing he had a ridiculous name, too (but that's a whole new blog).

So what's the message this boy has been given? Where is the deterrent? How will this boy understand what he has put his victims through? Isn't empathy an important quality to learn? Where's the victim's voice in this?

I'm not proposing a Sensible Sentencing Trust approach to sentences. If anything, their approach is too soft. Do away with judges at sentencing - let the victims of the crimes dictate how they wish to be compensated. And if all they can come up with is a sentence that is vengeful, then so be it. Kudos to those who eliminate these low-lifes from the gene pool.