Too old for war

A few years ago me and my mate were talking about conscription and we realized that we’re now too old to go to war.  That glory and horror of mankind throughout history has somehow passed us by.

It could be that, as Pinker says, the world is more peaceful now.  Or that we lived through a rare, quiet bubble.  Or maybe mechanized warfare needs fewer men than before.

Whatever the case, we got off scott free.  No one invaded Australia the whole time we were young and living there.

My grandfather fought in Papua New Guinea.  My father was conscripted for Vietnam but Australia pulled out of the war before he had to go.  The closest I came was Read More

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Africans in Italy

Italy is chock-full of Italians.

One is not surprised to find Japan full of Japanese, Russia full of Russians, or India full of Indians.  One notes with interest the small minorities that do exist there and then one moves on.

Italy, however, is a Read More

Give yourself a universal basic income

Socialism is a bit like an egg falling from the Tower of Pisa.  The academics and politicians and Guardian writers who pontificate about how wonderful it is, and how much kinder than capitalism, and how logically sound, are like the clear, fragrant air it sails through safely during its long descent.  Reality is the ground.

Take its latest incarnation, the Read More

Goals fallen by the wayside

Men plan, and God laughs.

I’ve abandoned two of my goals as no longer suiting my present or future needs.  These are (a) travel and adventure, and (b) learning a language.

All of a sudden – and this happened almost overnight – I’d completely had enough of travel.  I no longer want to explore new places or discover exotic cultures.  A lot those places are smelly and fly-ridden, and so are the cultures.  After eleven years overseas I’ve just had enough.

I don’t want to return to Australia.  I just want to find a nice, comfortable place (by my low standards) and settle down there.  Get into a routine.  Focus on my other goals like Read More

Natural Born Fascists

The more I travel around our little blue planet and get to know the nature and predispositions of its various inhabitants, the more I find to complain about.  I err towards an aristocratic view of humans.  There are a few at the top who are intelligent, noble and capable of greatness, while the rest, I’m afraid, are rabble.

Yes, I know most people, including myself, fall somewhere in the middle.  Stop ruining.

Of the throng, the characteristics I most despise are Read More

Comments Will Close

I’m about to crawl back into the boa constrictor-invested, WiFi-deprived jungle.  And ya know what that means: a thousand flowers shall no longer bloom in the Soviet comments.

From tomorrow you need to be logged in and have a previously approved response in order to comment.

Enjoy yourselves out here in civilization, think of me sometimes, and be good to your mother.

-Nikolai

The Western Canon

One of my goals is to read the Western Canon in order to better understand our world and to be less ignorant.

There are lists available here and there, all hotly disputed.   I have selected from these and added to it several eastern works which have had a significant impact upon our history and culture.

So, here is what I’ve got. I have probably omitted Read More

The Thirteen Taboos

Each time and place has its taboos. In ancient Greece you could not question the existence of the gods. In the Roman Empire, criticizing the emperor was an efficient way of bringing oneself to a sticky end. In Medieval Europe you could say nothing against the Church. In Victorian England, sex talk was right out. In the United States of the early 20th Century you could not speak against American involvement in the Great War once this had commenced, nor could you advocate interracial marriage. A little after that, openly advocating Communism would get you shit-canned pretty quick, too.

The threats leveled at free-thinkers have varied, ranging from social ostracization at the lower end all the way up to burning at the stake and other imaginative disincentives. Today in the Western world, breaking taboos is punished by Read More

The Sensible Left

Public debate works best when there are two or more compelling sides in the tussle, with each putting forward its strongest arguments and thoughtfully countering the opposition.  In this way we can best examine these cases and decide the most appropriate path.  Often we reach a conclusion that is somewhere in the middle.

The problem with current political and cultural discussion is that Read More