From the White House to the Ciderhouse
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 10:33

At the risk of near fatal understatement, this is an inauspicious week for humanity.

The All Blacks lose to Ireland, Gareth Morgan formally enters New Zealand politics, today the United States will (barring a miracle) elect one of the two most disliked Presidential candidates in history to the most powerful job in the world, and it is confirmed that – despite my vociferous objections - Malthouse will become Ciderhouse next week. 

On reflection, the All Blacks loss, while sad, is the least disastrous of the four events listed above. All sporting teams can be beaten – it is just that happens far more often to some (Namibia, the Wallabies) than others (Harlem Globetrotters, the All Blacks), If we had to lose, Ireland is a pretty good choice.

I support the All Blacks unless they are playing Scotland (my homeland) or the Lions (who technically include Scottish players... sometimes). Ireland plays an attractive style of rugby, their players are passionate, their fans even more so, and, importantly, they are not England or Australia. So, if the All Blacks had to lose to a team not containing Scottish players, Ireland would get my vote. [1]

The arrival of “polarising philanthropist” Gareth Morgan [2] into politics on the eve of Guy Fawkes was an unexpected development. Mr Morgan had previously expressed great disdain for politics and politicians, though that did not stop him telling them, and indeed everyone else, what to do in relation to all issues from housing (in favour), cats (opposed) to North Korea (in favour).

Standing in front of Parliament, he told media that he had decided to enter the political arena because the solutions were "just so easy, really". He modestly added "I've sort of worked on this stuff for so long, and you sort of sit back objectively. I've got a reasonable amount of confidence I know what to do, and then I say, 'Why the hell don't they do it?'"

Given the solutions are apparently “just so easy, really”, commentators waited in anticipation for his magnificent comprehensive policy manifesto... then waited for even a single policy... and then heard the first The Opportunity Party [3] policy would be announced in December. That is quite a long wait for something that is apparently so easy, really...

I have some experience in politics and it is usual to put some principles and policies to the people, and then ask for their support. Mr Morgan is asking for all the support, with all of the details to come later – just trust him. [4] My immediate Twitter prediction was that Mr Morgan is going to propose building a wall to keep the cats out – and the cats will pay for it. It is a very odd political model really.

A parallel would be like going to the movies, buying a ticket, but only when the film starts do you actually find out what it is. I can envisage the results - “Oh no, not another documentary about Peruvian gypsy wine makers. I wanted to see Independence Day 2,” “I don’t think Saw 6 is the best first date film,” or “No way. This film contains David Spade.” [5]

Today’s American election is horribly fascinating. The two most disliked major party candidates in Presidential history go head to head for the most powerful role in the world. It is hard to see any winners apart from liquor manufactures, nuclear bunker construction companies and travel agents for Canada. Malthouse will be screening the results as they come in and, fortunately, serving alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) beverages. [6]

For me, it all comes down to how voters really react to Donald Trump. If they get into the polling booth, look at his name and think “I really cannot go through with it,” then send Hillary Clinton comfortably home. However, if the secrecy of the booth prompts enough voters to think “finally, I can say what I really feel and stick it to the establishment,” then Trump sneaks in. I call this latter phenomenon the “The Shy Donald Effect” – similar to the Shy Tory Effect in the British election. People were simply not telling pollsters their true intentions then and may not be now.

If I was a betting man, in this election I’d put my money on craft beer and bacon sandwiches. All of which segues quite beautifully into the good news section of the blog before I have to talk about cider (again).

Next week is Kiwicon X, New Zealand’s Hacker Convention. As a noted user of technology, I was surprised not to be invited to deliver a keynote speech or even a guest tweet. Anyway, it is a big event and Malthouse is always pleased to host the attendees after a hard day of hacking. Past personal experience indicates it is easy to notice when Kiwicon gets out!

For the event, Liberty Brewing has made a pilsner especially for the convention. Liberty Harmonic 520 Pilsner (5.2%) will be on tap at Malthouse from Tuesday next week (15 November 2016). It is rumoured to be crisp, hoppy and bitter. To make it even easier to try, Malthouse will be opening early on Tuesday 15 November at midday. Additionally, on Tuesday and Wednesday next week there will be a lunch special from noon to 3pm – famous Malthouse bacon butties and a Harmonic 520 pilsner for $18. I first tried the bacon sandwich during the Rugby World Cup and it is outstanding. I know my bacon. [7]

Despite my heroic efforts at talking about sport, politics and pork products, I cannot avoid the topic of this post – Ciderhouse. I did however manage to stall getting there for almost three full pages, which may be a personal best.

From 18 November 2016 to 23 November 2016, Malthouse Becomes Ciderhouse. It is an annual event at Malthouse where cider, which is always present, steps into the spotlight of Ciderhouse. There will be a selection of New Zealand ciders on tap, and plenty more bottled cider in the fridges. I would not be surprised if one went through the Modus Hopperandus Hopinator. [8]

When notified that the list of ciders will be confirmed in the near future, I was initially relieved. Then I realised it just means I have to write about them in depth in next week’s blog. That is assuming the planet still exists next week after the election today. It would be a shame to be utterly destroyed as a species without learning all those “so easy” solutions to complicated problems we have been promised by Gareth Morgan.

Next time, we drink to “Can we take a joke?” – a new film about comedy and the culture of outrage. The article and trailer (linked below) starts with a line from comedian Adam Carolla - “There are a lot of people out there whose job it is to be offended for other people.” He is right.

[1] Disclaimer: My vote has no impact on sporting events. However, if I bet on a horse it tends to come last or second to last. I have been at a racing event where, later in the day, complete strangers were coming up to me asking who I was backing solely to make sure they did not.

[2] I am not making this up – Source: Stuff – “Philanthropist Gareth Morgan launches political party, compares himself to Donald Trump” -

[3] Quickly dubbed The Opportunist Party by wags that pay more attention to the news than I do. Well played...

[4] Mr Morgan has sat back and sort of objectively determined that he should be trusted. He has sort of been working on this for so long.

[5] If the movie contains David Spade then it almost certainly has Adam Sandler and Kevin James as well. It is the only way Mr Spade gets work these days.

[6] I will be watching the election at a private residence as I expect some of my language to be unsuitable for a public place. I am reminded of the Kent Brockman line from the Simpsons - “Earlier in this broadcast, I said a word so vile it should only be uttered by Satan himself while sitting on the toilet.”

[7] Nine-time judge at the 100% New Zealand Bacon and Ham awards. Seriously – even when I was a pescatarian.

[8] If it does, I bet the Hopinator has no hops in it – again.


Neil Miller

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Notable article on “Can we take a joke” (includes trailer) -

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