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
I made some lifetime friends when I was at Napier’s Tamatea High School in the late 1970s. I caught up with one of them a week or two back and had a bit of a chat about those days, a time when ‘the word’ was ‘Grease’ and few knew that Becker and Fagan had named … More ‘Half of you will pass’: my old high school’s pre-exam morale booster
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?
I am hugely impressed with what New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, did after the horrific terror attack in Christchurch on 15 March. She told us – and the world – that New Zealand utterly rejected what the gunman had done and stood for. It would not be allowed to change New Zealand’s way of … More Defeating terror with the strength of kindness
One of the ways humans understand the world is by classifying it – finding categories into which everything slots. This style of thinking has always been around, but it became something of an art form during the Age of Reason, and is still with us today. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the … More Life, the universe, and why people abuse each other over how to classify it
Back when I was a kid at intermediate school (‘junior high’ in US parlance) there was an incident involving a trestle table at the back of the class, on which had been placed a lot of craft works. Adjacent to the trestle was a large cupboard in which all the coats and bags were stored, … More The dangers of being a good Samaritan when society is dysfunctional
I am always intrigued by the way that, every so often, western society is seized with a ‘social panic’ in which some recent and usually small-scale event becomes evidence of a supposedly deep-seated problem that is going to bring society crashing down in ruin. The archetype, for me, is New Zealand’s Elbe Milk Bar scandal … More Social panics – when the stupid becomes the normal