One of the funniest – yet unintentional – ironies I’ve heard of in recent years was the time a local ‘peace action group’ were charged with possession of unlicensed firearms. That’s right. A ‘peace’ group apparently felt justified in illegally having weapons. Apparently, in order to stop violence and promote peace, you have to fight … More When ideologues are blind to their own hypocrisy
One of the funniest – yet unintentional – ironies I’ve heard of in recent years was the time a local ‘peace action group’ were charged with possession of unlicensed firearms. That’s right. Apparently, in order to stop human violence it was necessary to fight and kill. It always intrigues me how easily a cause or … More When intolerance trumps reason
A little while ago I heard a story about someone who’d built up an online craft business, largely through social media. The person booked a holiday to a distant destination and, online, described their pleasure at looking forward to visiting what to them was an ‘exotic’ location. That, it seemed, drew the ire of somebody … More Are lynching mobs a general human thing?
As a rule these days, I don’t engage with local enthusiasts who style themselves ‘historians’. It sounds harsh, but my experience of being attacked – out of the blue – by strangers with an interest in the field has been so consistent I’m reluctant to respond. Let me reveal a few experiences of my work, … More Hard lessons in the unprovoked malice of strangers
A while back a downtown Auckland tower-block was evacuated after the occupants fell ill with what was first thought to be gas from the air conditioning. It wasn’t. But a dozen people were hospitalised. That evening, more people fell ill and the building was closed. Before a formal investigation reported on the problem, a university … More Why the term ‘it’s psychological’ doesn’t cut it as a real medical diagnosis
I was reminded the other day of a wonderful 1948 story I read as a kid, ‘In Hiding’, by Wilmar Shiras (1908-1990). I read it in a 1960s-era anthology of sci-fi stories, and it left a huge impression on me. Shiras wrote it, apparently, for her children. And the plot was straight forward: a school … More What makes people smart?
I cannot but lament the moral void into which the world seems to be falling. Political intrigue. Weaponised social media. A new definition of ‘facts’ based not on empirical reality but on personal need. And it shows. I think everyday behaviour’s deteriorating, likely worldwide – and certainly around me. I worry about a loss of … More Lamenting the moral void into which society has fallen
There was a headline the other week on the Fairfax news site ‘Stuff’ about a southern New Zealand high school that was forbidding children to wear warm headgear – beanies – despite temperatures dropping into the negatives. Based on the report it appeared to me to be simple power assertion. Beanies weren’t in the uniform, … More When power assertion is disguised by the rules…
The privacy issues kicked up by the current Facebook data scandal – which reportedly saw $83 billion wiped off its stock value last week – are scary not so much for the specific relevations that triggered it, or for the particular issue itself; but because of the deeper issue underpinning it, one shared by all … More The Facebook data scandal is the thin end of a very scary wedge
Figures released by Symantec indicate that in July 2017, 55.7 percent of all emails sent were spam. More than half. Ouch. Luckily the spam filters are fairly effective. But if you add to it the way that automated bot-diallers are spraying junk calls around both landline and cellphone networks, other bots write comments for those … More Is the internet being spammed into uselessness?