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
I was absolutely horrified the other week to see a news report from India about a fatal scooter accident. Instead of helping, bystanders took selfies in front of the dying victims. Nobody even assisted them for half an hour. That sort of behaviour is utterly repugnant. In New Zealand, where I am, it is also … More Which moral pit is the world falling into?
One of the ways we justify going to Mars is that Earth is pretty much on the road to ruin just now, courtesy of human endeavour. We need a new planet. The only problem is that human nature doesn’t change, so we’d probably end up wrecking Mars too, likely while fighting viciously over how to … More Humanity – the scourge of the galaxy
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 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…
There was an incident the other week, here in New Zealand, in which a supermarket customer was reportedly pulled aside by staff and questioned on allegation of prior shoplifting. It turns out the guy was wrongly accused. Apparently the supermarket used surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology, and reportedly mis-identified the customer. Yet curiously, when … More Remember, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear
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?
I never make ‘New Year Resolutions’ as such – for me, change is a case of steadily moving forward and an arbitrary date isn’t important. Still, New Year gives time to reflect, to contemplate, and to look at directions. And I’ve got a few ideas. I’ve got directions for writing, which will be unveiled – … More Some new year directions for 2018