The All-Thing

All stick and no carrot, since ought-three.

`Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on ``I am not too sure''.' -- H. L. Mencken.


喜太守畢朝散致政 (黃庭堅)


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Sun, 21 Dec 2003


My aunt and uncle in South African just had their dog poisoned by burglars trying to get into their home. My uncle was woken by the commotion and managed to trigger the alarm in time. The dog died; but fortunately, nothing was stolen and no one was hurt.

I had a great time when I was there this year, but when I hear stuff like this, it reminds me that the crime rate there is just insane. I mean, it's a first-world country, basically, with all the conveniences of modern life that one would expect—for those who can afford them. But, for obvious historical reasons, there's a giant segment of the population there that is poor and unemployed. Which is nice in the sense that there's lots of cheap labor (it's typical for middle-class folks there to have maids, gardeners, etc.) but it also means a tremendous amount of crime.

I never felt threatened or even remotely in danger last July, but it seemed like everyone I talked to had some horror story, or some friend or friend of a friend who was violently killed, typically by theives. Bank robbers and car hijacking seemed to be the most common.

So all the protective mechanisms on people's houses and cars seemed so incongruous while I was there, even though, intellectually, I knew they existed for a reason. So when I hear stuff like this, sitting in my apartment with its unbarred windows and barely functional front door lock, I guess it just serves to drive that point in just a little bit deeper.

Our old house in Pretoria

Posted at 22:31 | /mortal | 1 comment | permalink


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. -- Wm. Shakespeare, "Hamlet"