Through the eyes of a foreigner

Sometimes one can see things more clearly from the outside looking in.

My girlfriend watched a news story about how Australia is resettling Afghans. She was surprised.

GF: But aren’t there Australians stuck in India?

NV: Sort of, yeah.

GF: How many Afghans will they take?

NV: 12,000.

Stunned silence.

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The return of the aristocracy

If you’ve poked your head out of the cave lately, you’ll have noticed a pattern.

Our rulers want to change our lives.

They suddenly want us to eat bugs, live in pods, refrain from eating beef, enjoy our lack of privacy and own less stuff. They also want us to travel less, especially in Australia where travel for most is banned.

It’s Woke, global warming, Covid and WEF nonsense rolled into a single, unified campaign against the common man.


Who stands to benefit from us eating bugs? Who wins by stopping us from flying to Bali for a holiday?

In terms of absolute monetary benefit, no one. There’s not much money in marketing bug burgers or renting out bungalows at Bonnie Doon.

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The best games ever

a person with collar shirt

This article examines the antics of five athletes to synthesize a grand unified theory of why the Olympics are cactus.

I’m old enough to remember the Sydney 2000 Olympics. It was a special time – just about all Australians were proud to have it and hoped to put on a really good show for the world.

Do you remember Eric the Eel? He had no Olympic-sized pool back in Equatorial Guinea to train in so he almost drowned. The crowd cheered him on wildly and he just made the distance. Unkind people thought we were being racist and/or condescending but far from it – we genuinely admired his spirit. The balls of the guy, to even make the attempt! That is the Olympic spirit.

I have nothing against the concept of the Olympics. The world’s greatest sportsmen gathering every four years to compete in peace and friendship. Going back the Greeks, it was a triumph of human creativity and abstract reasoning to put aside conflict for a couple of weeks, enjoy the show and perhaps imagine a better world.

What killed the Olympics? Various things. Cheating, politics (i.e. banning Russia), IOC corruption, professionalism, corporate sponsorship, cost overruns, white elephant stadiums. No doubt there are more. The Olympic spirit has been dying for decades. Why cheer drugged-up pros who are playing for millions of dollars? Give us the good old days of mustachioed, pot-bellied accountants stopping for a fag and a dram of whisky as they run the 1896 marathon wearing hats and bow ties.

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On propaganda

This blog has often noted that there’s a lot of race-baiting propaganda around at the moment.

Any police shooting of a black person is all over the news and hate crimes are so popular in the media there are not enough real ones to meet demand.

Anyone who says something that might be construed as being in some way RACIST is permanently cancelled, no matter how great the stretch.

It’s working. Many non-whites really do feel hard done by in Western countries. You only need to look at social media to see what people are saying.

Note blue checkmark

Circa 2015 it worked just as well with feminism – privileged white girls genuinely believing they risked gang rape on broken glass every time they dared scamper across campus.

I had a thought: what would happen if this propaganda was different?

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A troubling conversation

An almost inescapable facet of modern existence is that much of our lives is online. Problems and divisions can seem exaggerated and we don’t meet enough people outside our bubble to challenge our thinking.

This issue has quintupled since lockdown. They’re still rolling here; hopefully your area is better.

I finally managed to escape the bamboo hut for a trip to a cafe on the beach that was allowed to open because it’s slightly south of this quarantine zone. No, the rules don’t make sense. Never did. Let’s leave that and get on with the story.

I rarely speak to Westerners because there are few around here, they are mostly older and busy with kids, and I don’t have a scooter. Plus lockdowns. But on this day I met up with an American acquaintance in his late 60s and had a chat. I’ve mentioned him before.

I knew he was a leftie so, as always in such cases, I strenuously avoided argument and tried to talk about something – anything – non-political. It’s hard. Half the West seems utterly obsessed with nonsense we used to ignore. Mention how the economy is going in Australia and he’s carrying on about socialism. Talk about the weather, the traditional Safe Subject, and we’re on to climate change. Dare refer to any recent event in the US and it’s Trump, Trump Trump for the rest of the day.

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Sign of the times

A person in a brown jacket against a tree smiles in a profile photograph.

This recent article caught my attention:

The general manager of infection control at the agency running Victoria’s hotel quarantine program has been stood down after allegedly breaching their own protocols twice in the past two months.

You might have to read that twice.

It’s yet another case of one of our rulers breaking their own rules because they don’t really believe in them, instead considering restrictions as control mechanisms for the plebs.

As for the other thing, here’s a quote from the Minister of Government Services (I guess that’s like the Minister for Administrative Affairs) given in the same ABC article:

Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson said he became aware of the reports last night and had stood aside COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria’s (CQV) general manager of infection prevention and control, Matiu Bush, pending a review into their conduct and behaviour.

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Ever have to deal with a naughty kid?

Adult: Toby! I told you to put those toys away.

Kid: I am putting them away.

Adult: No you’re not, you’re playing with that truck. Put them away now.

Kid: Okay, okay. (Continues to play)

Adult: Toby, I’m going to stand right here and watch you put those toys away.

(Kid begins picking up the smallest toys and putting them away at a glacial pace, waiting for the adult to turn his back.)

Adult: Ten. Nine. Eight. (Toby will finish right on zero. Occasionally slightly after to test the boundary.)

This power play increases the cost of enforcement.

The more resistance, the more resources have to be put into compelling people to follow the rules.

Right now there’s yet another lockdown and we’re not allowed to go to the beach. First we feigned ignorance and got shoed away. We gave some cheek to the enforcers. Not enough to get arrested; just enough to annoy them and make them sick of telling people off for swimming at the beach. Enough that they’ll ask to be reassigned or reconsider their line of work. Demoralize them. Make it clear that, while they didn’t make the rules, they’re going to feel our ire for enforcing them.

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Nineties explained to Zoomers

Hi Zoomers,

How are you? I am fine.

Let’s learn what the 90s were like via this music clip:

I know you’ve got questions so let’s go through it bit by bit.

The sound: that’s called a melody, used to be quite common in pop songs. Zing!

The clothes: it was cool in the late 90s to dress like an old man or wear something with a stripe down the side.

The location: this was a shopping centre or ‘mall’, where we bought things before we could order stuff online. It was also a popular hangout for young people. I know they still exist and what’s different now but let’s not say it out loud. It was always an artificial, consumerist space but seems weirdly organic and wholesome these days given that people actually left the house and saw each other.

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How to control society

People often talk about how much Western values have transformed since the 1960s, an interval of 60 years, but social change can happen much, much faster than that. Cultural norms can shift in 15, 10 or even 5 years under the right circumstances.

In 2006, 49% of Americans believed that it was ‘very important’ for couples with children to be married. By 2020, that percentage had fallen to 29%.

Between 2013 and 2019, the percentage who accepted same-sex relationships rose from 60% to 72%.

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Becoming less WEIRD

I previously wrote about how those with ancestors from north-eastern Europe are WEIRD.  We are culturally unique because we are Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic.

WEIRD does not mean ‘white’.  Those whites on the peripheries of Europe, outside the Hajnal Line, are not WEIRD.

Most of the letters in the acronym could apply equally to the high-trust Asian Tiger societies, but they lack our extreme egalitarianism, guilt complex, and low consanguinity and ethnocentrism.

Over time, WEIRD people built the richest, freest, most creative, dynamic and technologically advanced nations in history.  That is changing.

The Decline

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Why has everyone gone crazy?

People overuse the term, ‘The world’s gone mad.’ I knew a guy in Asmara who’d say it all the time: when the rainy season lasted until December, when there was a crackdown on protesters in Sudan etc.; as though there had never been unusual weather or trouble in Africa before.

But 2020 was nuts in the sense that everyone went crazy. Look at social or mainstream media. Talk to people. Look anywhere.

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Does Australia need more Aboriginal teachers?

Just 1 in 100 teachers are Indigenous. That’s a problem — and it affects kids, too – ABC, August 2019.

“Aboriginal people just need to shut up and get over it.”

What a horrible sentiment. I would say it to Irish re: English, Koreans re: Japanese, New Zealanders re: the underarm incident, and China re: the rest of the world, but that’s different.

That’s a comment teacher Rachel Bos says she’s heard more than once in staffroom conversations about changing the date of Australia Day, which usually falls at the start of the school year.

Ms Bos, a Kaurna woman, can handle those “really uncomfortable discussions” — but that’s not the case for everyone.

Wow there are still based teachers. Must be outback Queensland.

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Do you even outgroup?

This post is to encourage you to read a long and essential 2014 essay from Slate Star Codex about our bubbles and prejudices:

I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup.

If you ever have one of those rare opportunities where you’re arguing with a Woke person and they ask you to give them one article that could change their minds, this is the one.

Scott Alexander is in the Blue bubble looking out:

According to Gallup polls, about 46% of Americans are creationists. Not just in the sense of believing God helped guide evolution. I mean they think evolution is a vile atheist lie and God created humans exactly as they exist right now. That’s half the country.

And I don’t have a single one of those people in my social circle. It’s not because I’m deliberately avoiding them; I’m pretty live-and-let-live politically, I wouldn’t ostracize someone just for some weird beliefs. And yet, even though I probably know about a hundred fifty people, I am pretty confident that not one of them is creationist. Odds of this happening by chance? 1/2^150 = 1/10^45 = approximately the chance of picking a particular atom if you are randomly selecting among all the atoms on Earth.

About forty percent of Americans want to ban gay marriage. I think if I really stretch it, maybe ten of my top hundred fifty friends might fall into this group. This is less astronomically unlikely; the odds are a mere one to one hundred quintillion against.

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Boiling point

Everyone’s very angry at the moment, but why?

You’ve probably seen this photo before. Look at the dress and tell me what colour it is:
The Dress

Some people see black and royal blue. Others see white and gold. Unlike other optical tricks like the vase vs two faces image, no matter what you do, you are unable to see what the other group sees.

This went mad on social media because it is a perfect example of what researchers have discovered makes an issue exquisitely controversial: the answer seems obvious to both sides, yet these answers differ completely. This leads each side to suspect bad faith and evil intentions on the other side. It is hard to believe that someone really does see colours you cannot see. It seems like a giant prank.

In the West, we have split into two groups like this on many, much more pressing issues. Our perceptions of reality are irreconcilable. Can you remember these proto-squabbles:

Was Trayvon Martin murdered, or did George Zimmerman kill him in self defence?

Even our idea of what the two look like, and whether Zimmerman was white or Hispanic, depends on our source:

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You are WEIRD

Map of nations covered by psychological studies

The trouble with people living in WEIRD countries is, we don’t know how WEIRD we are.

WEIRD stands for Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic.  Many countries have some of these characteristics, but only a few have them all, which makes them . . . weird.

The map above shows where 90% of psychological studies come from, adjusting country size by population.  These WEIRD countries account for only about 15% of the world’s population.  Some researchers are starting to think these studies must be culturally biased, and that broader studies are needed to understand human nature more fully.

This is because WEIRD countries are different.  They have certain Read More