Humans are an odd species. A few weeks back I was enjoying a cup of coffee at a footpath table, outside a café in a small shopping centre. A vehicle pulled up nearby, sound system absolutely thundering. The car stopped, doors and windows open, and somebody ran into a shop. They obviously weren’t going to … More Human nature and car boom-boxes
Last Monday – a public holiday in Wellington – was a sunny day and I went for a casual saunter along the waterfront, starting a block from the Freyberg Building, before heading along it to the Freyberg Pool and Freyberg Beach. In case you think there’s a certain theme there, you’re right. Just then my … More Hot news about matters Freyberg
When I was a kid, the primary school I went to had a special way of dealing with people who suffered from cognitive issues. The method was simple. If a kid had a cognitive issue, the teacher would relentlessly bash at them. They’d usually begin by demanding the kid explain why they couldn’t get letters … More The burden of having cognitive issues
The year 2020 is upon us. It seems incredible that it’s 20 years since the turn of the millennium – a socially-defined key date in western society where the predominant beliefs were always millenarian, although we have to accept that a ‘millennium’ was sometimes figured to be other than a thousand years, hence the social … More Is 2020 the future of the future?
The idea of a political spectrum defined by ‘left’ and ‘right’ wing views has been around ever since September 1789, when they were invented. The revolutionaries had set up a National Assembly – meeting initially in a tennis court – which they declared indissoluble until they had resolved their issues with the King Louis XVI. … More What do we mean by ‘left’ and ‘right’?
I am somewhat bemused by the way ‘literature’ is so often assumed to be a superior form of writing, above any form of genre fiction and, particularly, science fiction (‘ptooey’). Authors known for ‘literature’ are, apparently, more talented, competent and intelligent than ‘sci fi’ authors, who by definition are hacks, talentless and ignorant of basic … More Literature versus science fiction
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
These days, it seems, some people only read headlines before reacting. I suppose it always happened, but social media means the response is right there for everybody to see. Sometimes they get entirely the wrong end of the stick. A while back I published a piece on the early 1950s sex scandal at the Elbe … More It’s annoying when people comment without reading the substance
A few weeks ago there was a rather nasty and violent incident in Queenstown, one of New Zealand’s main tourist traps, involving two groups of passers-by on the street. Something happened, a brawl broke out, and at least two people were stabbed. Apparently it came out of absolutely nowhere. And this sort of thing seems … More Why do people fight each other over nothing?
I was taken aback this week by news that Jessi Combs had died in a crash during an effort to break the women’s World Land Speed Record, first set in 1908 by Dorothy Levitt in a 26 hp Napier, and last raised to 398 mph, by Combs herself, in 2013. I first heard about Combs … More Jessi Combs and the Land Speed Record