Rants and Raves

Disclaimer: These opinions are not representative of anyone whatsoever, including myself after a few moments thought! And I know it is irresponsible to generalise an opinion about a few people you have been in contact with to an entire population. But surely opinionated tosh is what the net is all about ;-) Besides, this is just text (mono-media!) so no-one will look at it anyway. And I've watered it down a tad.

Perhaps you'd better check out my Pet Loves or my List of Cuties instead.

Pet Hates


Guns are naughty! Killing people is not nice. I find it strange that American police sell their guns to street criminals when they get new ones (via gun shops and the free market). Police should set an example anyway, which is why I support police in general being armed with non-fatal weapons (like in New Zealand and Great Britain). Special units are needed to deal with armed offenders, but I feel the radio is more important than the gun in general policing. A gun doesn't stop a bullet, though Kevlar might. Of course the Americans are trying to prevent Kevlar from working by arming their criminals with guns that penetrate protective vests, but I don't think that's a good idea. Perhaps the "wild west" mentality is too ingrained for de-escalation to be achieved overnight, but I'd have to live there to understand that fully.


Cigarettes smell bad and make my hair and clothes smell bad. They also kill smokers, but it takes a while. I am grateful that I can breathe non-smoky air in the cinema and at work now. I didn't mind the former segregation on trains (although on planes and buses it was a joke), but I am disappointed that hardly any restaurants in the UK offer non-smoking sections, and the lone non-smoking signs up in a few pubs are ignored. And two places where I would have hoped for clean air, the hairdresser and the laundrette, are blighted by smoke. I wash my clothes to make them clean, not to make them smell even worse!


While cars are necessary in rural areas, for holidays in the wilderness (that cuts England out!), for big shopping and other occasional use, many of the journeys made by car drivers these days are not needed. Many blokes commuting to an office job could take the bus (like me), cycle (like more health conscious people, although city traffic with its pollution and danger make this unwise in some locations) or train. I personally like the chance to read or snooze instead of getting stressed out by traffic. Car drivers should not interpret the sign "bus stop" as meaning "car-park". I think London drivers are courteous compared to those in other cities, but we need to make alternatives more pleasant at the same time as changing the culture gently. My main objection to excessive car travel is air pollution which affects my asthma, but travelling by bus I am also affected by congestion.


I've had to change my opinion of Americans a bit, since I met an extremely knowledgeable and inspirational example of one in a soup-shop recently. He acknowledged his country's shortcomings, but pointed out that they were exaggerated by the media (Hollywood in particular), and that the great thing was that if I did go and live there, I would know most of the major downside issues already. So there would be less unpleasant surprises than if I moved to a country that I liked more, but knew less about. He also thought I was anti-populist though; I disagree. The main reason I want L.A. to write marginally better stuff is 'cos I watch a lot of it, not 'cos I want "the people" to become more rounded individuals :-)

The negative side still includes widespread (but by no means universal) lack of interest in the outside world, poverty reduction, tolerance or environmentally friendliness, but the plus side includes a strong work ethic and acceptance of entrepreneurs, which means that talented people can go very far indeed.

Strong self confidence can produce results, for instance persistence may eventually be rewarded, but this can also lead them to promote inferior products believing that style (brand names, size of box, amount of TV advertising, rewriting history to claim they invented it first) is more important than substance (good performance, versatility and reliability). Which brings us to:


"Q: How many Microsoft programmers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None, they just change the standard to darkness."

From the people who sold you "Quick and Dirty Operating System" repackaged as MS-DOS(r), we still get such wonderful features as:

Oops, I have now been assimilated. "Bill Gates is an inspiration to the computer industry. He has helped grow the overall market by providing a common platform for great software to be written on, and which is involved in cutting edge technology with DOM (XML over COM) and other less abstract enabling technologies. His support of bio-technology shows his vision of the future, and he has not abused his wealth by pursuing personal political objectives as many lesser individuals have. * He knows to delegate things that need delegating, but retains the strategic nous and ability to turn Microsoft nimbly when he realised what it needed to do with regard to the Internet and open standards."

* = Yet. He's still young in political terms. I just hope that petty politics is not of interest to him compared to technological advances, and that he does not want to become a "Monsanto" like figure by overriding people's ethical judgements on bio-tech development.


The few Israelis I have met have been quite nice people, but their life had been laid out for them until they were nearly 30, what with compulsory military service and a very long education system. Their former governments however were quite reprehensible, in that they had no shame with regard to:

However the new (1999) government is looking very promising with regard to human rights, and to making peace with former enemies. They have their task cut out for them. I wish them well in this monumental task, and hope that the country can prove to be a model to the region both politically and economically.

"Dilbert" business attitudes

The attitude you can see at Dilbert's web site is all too common in business. I'm afraid that too many managers see "Dogbert's guide to management" as being a how-to guide instead of a warning. The comic series also gives the lie to the theory that Americans have no concept of irony.


Naturally I often meet very nice French people, but again their former governments have done them no favours when it comes to being thought of as reasonable people. The French government seem to try very hard to annoy New Zealanders like myself. We have had the following:

Also, from the point of view of living in Britain, sections of their population have this to answer for:

On the plus side, they have got excellent trains, architecture and tans, so they can't be that bad. They also are apparently some of the most productive workers in Europe (I wonder if those figures take strikes into account!) I prefer Belgium food and Italian wine, but the French versions are also very nice. And French bread is the best. And as for their films that are shown late night on Channel 4 - a better blend of well-written plotlines and porn would be harder to find. ;-)

Tabloid "Newspapers"

Since Tony Blair's victory, daily television guides such as "The Sun" have given up pretending to be newspapers, and only cover the personal lives of ex-musicians, football players, the Royal family and actors. Political news is mostly kept off the front pages since the owners know that their views are not held by the majority of the public any more. The partisan bias of the broadsheet newspapers means that serious news is left to television broadcasters and weekly magazines. The exception to this of course is news about the European Union, which the (American and Canadian) owners of the newspapers invariably portray in the worst possible light. At times, the Commission in particular deserves people's ire, but the papers seldom report positive European news.

Loony Politicians (usually right wingers)

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