The case for optimism

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Several months ago a colleague of mine challenged me to demonstrate how the United Nations was a positive influence in the world. I remember giving examples of its peacekeeping work, but as soon as they left my lips they fizzled into uncompelling whimpers. We were in the middle of a broader conversation about whether the world has become a better place, in the stumbling, ignorant way lay people are wont to do.

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So I went to my first art auction



I was pleasantly surprised to find that MMArt House in Blairgowrie was just a stone’s throw from my house. As with all these sorts of somewhat informal engagements, the wintry sun gave way to a nippy evening before the proceedings got underway, even though the auction was scheduled for 4 pm. But the red wine and finger food including salmon wraps, mini-hamburgers and shrimp noodles kept us warm and whole inside the cleared-out private home nestled in the picturesque suburb.

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America is not a democracy


The United States prides itself as the greatest experiment in democracy on the face of the Earth. It does have a few things to brag about: Its constitution is one of the finest examples of enlightenment thinking, rich with ideals of the sovereignty of the individual over institutions, and replete with checks against power. And its attendant values have produced the richest and most productive nation in history, one that sits among those countries with the cheapest interest rates, highest standards of living and wealthiest indigents in the world. Continue reading “America is not a democracy”

South Africa is the greatest country on Earth


In light of the recent racist remark uttered by the president of the United States, I think we deserve to grab a leaf from that country’s book of braggadocio and rah-rah, reverse our humble postures and declare ourselves the greatest country on the face of the planet. To help our indulgence, here are a few, rather random reasons why an African country such as ours is not a s***hole and does not need to make itself great again. Continue reading “South Africa is the greatest country on Earth”