Reading the right thing at the right moment

I read a lot, and every now and then the material is so perfectly apt to my present thoughts or circumstances I get a little superstitious.

The other day I was feeling down.  I was thinking, fifteen more months in this bloody country.  I was thinking, things might get even worse.  My mind ran through the various grim possibilities, some more plausible than others.  The new boss being a nut.  Being refused an exit permit.  My company being nationalized.  I also thought about war breaking out but that would actually be a good thing – Read More


Stupid people think you’re stupid

There was some interesting research a while back which I refer to here almost daily.  It compared how expert people thought they were in various fields versus how expert they actually were.

They found that actual experts realized they were knowledgeable on the topic but admitted gaps, those in the middle recognized themselves as such and those who knew absolutely nothing thought they knew everything.

I experience this phenomenon at work.  People who know a bit about my field or who have high intelligence and good general knowledge see me as I am: a Read More


Steve thought Japan was awesome right from his first night in the country.  Fresh from Broken Hill, we let him drop off his bags then took him directly to our local, Bar Accredit.  There was some sort of DJ event on and the place was packed.

What Steve immediately liked was that the music was great, everyone was dancing, and the J-girls were so friendly that they were taking off the foreign men’s shirts and doing sexy dancing with them.

One girl in particular took a shine to him but she spoke no English.  His usual game hamstrung, he decided on a more blunt approach that could not fail to be understood.  He took her by the hand, pointed at the door and said, Read More

The arrogance of non-profits

Back when the mighty Stegosaurus roamed the earth I was a skinny, long-haired uni student wondering what to do with my life.  I knew that I wanted to make a difference, and I was quite sure that I would, but the problem was that I had no particular skills nor did I stand out in any way.  However, I was me – surely I’d land on my feet and end up working for some glamorous department of the UN or in some wonderful NGO or maybe as an ethics advisor to an enormous global corporation, making the world better bit by bit every day that I rode to its campus on my mountain bike.

Now, I understand at this point some of my readers want to pull my ears and punch my nose but you can’t because this is the internet.  Fair enough.  I will pull and punch them for you because I know how much I deserve it: Ow!  Arr!  Yowza!

Okay, done.

Of course, like the rest of humanity, when adulthood finally arrived to smash the stupidity out of me in the form of Read More

The two civilizations

There are two advanced civilizations extant on Earth – East and West.

The West has its origins in ancient Greece and Rome, and has spread through the British Empire to North America and Australasia, together with trace amounts in southern Africa.  While Hungary and New Zealand are obviously quite different, there is a common current running through them.

The first Western country I ever visited aside from my birthplace was Read More

The Incapable Continent

While hiking up in the hills, a JICA guy pointed out a new groundwater and irrigation project in a valley far below.  He explained that it was to improve the water supply in a nearby village.

“Who did that for them, then?” I asked cynically.


A remarkable feature of this country is just how little the physical infrastructure has been improved since distant colonial times.  After decades of independence there are still only the old European buildings lining the streets.  There are no Read More

Bloody emigrants

Some lefty comedians on Triple J once thought it would be funny to ring a right-wing shock jock live on air and ask him if there was too much emigration.  They got the desired reaction from him: “Emigrants?  Like, people who want to leave Australia?  Who cares about them?  They can bloody well bugger off!”

But sometimes emigration is a greater issue than immigration.  This has often been the case in Read More

The indoctrination of children

There have been several studies examining brainwashing and it seems that it doesn’t work well or not for very long.  Indoctrinated PoWs or cult members tend to revert back to their normal selves after leaving that environment and returning to the familiar comforts and habits of home.  So that’s good.  I cannot find said studies now to link but evidence is for fascists.

However, there is one group that is exquisitely vulnerable to any sort of brainwashing, be it political, religious or otherwise: Read More

TV in the Middle East

My TV broke.  It won’t turn on.  I think it got fried by a power surge.  Probably the parts and skills to fix it cannot be found here and it will never work again.  But I’m not missing much.

Though I am in Africa, for some reason I get several hundred Middle Eastern satellite TV stations beamed into my dish.  I’ve flicked through all of them so that you don’t have to.

Here is what I found: Read More

Things you don’t know but probably should

Book review of Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell.

If you want to see what poor economic management looks like in practice, you will not have great trouble finding it.  Come over here to sunny Bumfuckistan.  The government has so utterly hobbled business with such a myriad of arbitrary and capricious regulations that all economic activity has ground to a halt.  Almost all the factories and large stores have closed down.  Tourism is near non-existent.

In his insightful conclusion, Sowell notes that politicians, no matter how counterproductive their policies, are not basing them on nothing at all.  They are basing them upon Read More

Africa wins again

There’s a saying here.

A Norwegian resources company finds rare earths in a remote part of the bush.  They try to set up the infrastructure to extract it.  They dig the hole, build the accommodation, and get almost all the permits.  Then they try to build a road to the port.  The road would go through the President’s friend’s hobby farm.  Permission is denied.  No alternative is found and the plan is Read More

The big trade

You can’t time the market.  But as to reacting to what’s just happened – that requires no crystal ball.  I can’t tell you what will happen tomorrow but ask me whatever you like about yesterday.

Proviso: I am not qualified, nor morally or temperamentally suited to offer financial advice.  The following is purely my own opinion.  Anyone who takes this advice will probably end up penniless and hawking their arse down St. Kilda.

So we all know the next big crash must be Read More

What makes you happy?

In an essay of Montaigne he discusses the three things that still make him happy during his advanced years of pain and declining health.  These are: conversation with good friends, enjoying whatever intimacy he can still manage with his ladies or the fond memories thereof, and spending time reading and pacing about his library.

Is it not fine to reach an age when one finally knows what one wants to do?  So many people do not reflect on this foundational truth, instead mindlessly pursuing money, popularity, drunkenness, promotions, fame, a big house, or a sporting trophy, only to be disappointed once they get it.

Imagine for a moment that you had ample Read More

Blocking Wordpress

Several countries block WordPress, this one included.  Mind you, over here such measures are necessarily low tech.  Bumfuckistan only manages to block sites that actually have ‘wordpress’ in the URL so anyone who has bothered to splash some cash for his own web address sails through freely as water through a net.

However, this block works far more effectively here than the cleverer censorship conducted in China simply because Read More

Why a country is as it is

Recently the government here decided that the precarious water situation was under control.  City water had improved so much that they decided to ban private water truck deliveries.  After all, that water is more expensive.  It must be a scam.  City water ought to be good enough for anyone.

My canny reader wonders, why on earth would residents pay extra for unnecessary water anyway?  Do we really need a law against it?  You might as well ban staring at the sun or poking broken glass up your urethra.

TIA, mate.  This Is Africa.  Some houses are supposed to be Read More

Don’t give to beggars

I was walking to the gym and saw two young, attractive white girls coming the other way.  This is not an everyday occurrence.  As I neared them they passed a begging mother with a couple of little children, and they gave the kids some chocolate.

The children were delighted and the mother was glowing, saying something to them like, aren’t you lucky?  Those kind foreigners gave you some chocolate!

And those girls, obviously Read More

Empathy and the rabbit incident

For some time I have puzzled that mothers and fathers here do not kick up much of a fuss about the enslavement of their children.  Their only way out of national service is to get pregnant (not an option for all), to sneak across the border or to just get lucky with some sort of medical or family grounds for release, which is not easy.

I know a guy who was forced to Read More


So Trump may or may not have called African countries ‘shitholes’.  It caused a bit of a stir over here in sunny Bumfuckistan.  I happened to meet some US diplomatic staff at a pizza place shortly afterwards and I asked for their reaction.

“Well, it’s true, but it’s not helpful to say it,” was the most common response.  I asked one fella what he’d say if directly confronted by local officials about it.  This was the speech he had prepared: Read More