Qohel Home Page

Click photo to go to Peter's profile






Quality Web Hosting at the Best Price






www.1and1.com

Fifteen years later, a letter from the then CEO of Cypress (a US designer and manufacturer of semi-conductor based technology) is still the best response to demands for quotas of women or minorities on company (or other) boards.

On April 23, 1996, Cypress received a letter from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. The latter is a religious congregation of approximately 1,000 women and was, at the time the letter was written, the beneficial owner of a number of Cypress shares. The letter was a form letter, and it carried the stamped signature of Doris Gormley, OSF.

In the letter, Sister Doris, speaking for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia as a Cypress shareholder, expressed the view that a company “is best represented by a Board of qualified Directors reflecting the equality of the sexes, races, and ethnic groups.” The letter went on to say that it is the congregation’s policy “to withhold authority to vote for nominees of a Board of Directors that does not include women and minorities.”

In response, CEO TJ Rodgers wrote a long letter in which he described the sisters’ position as unsound, even immoral, and more related to political correctness than Christianity.

This is the beginning:

Dear Sister Gormley:

Thank you for your letter criticizing the lack of racial and gender diversity of Cypress’s Board of Directors. I received the same letter from you last year. I will reiterate the management arguments opposing your position. Then I will provide the philosophical basis behind our rejection of the operating principles espoused in your letter, which we believe to be not only unsound, but even immoral, by a definition of that term I will present.

The semiconductor business is a tough one with significant competition from the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Koreans. There have been more corporate casualties than survivors. For that reason, our Board of Directors is not a ceremonial watchdog, but a critical management function. The essential criteria for Cypress board membership are as follows:

•Experience as a CEO of an important technology company.
•Direct expertise in the semiconductor business based on education and management experience.
•Direct experience in the management of a company that buys from the semiconductor industry.
A search based on these criteria usually yields a male who is 50-plus years old, has a Masters degree in an engineering science, and has moved up the managerial ladder to the top spot in one or more corporations. Unfortunately, there are currently few minorities and almost no women who chose to be engineering graduate students 30 years ago. (That picture will be dramatically different in 10 years, due to the greater diversification of graduate students in the ’80s.) Bluntly stated, a “woman’s view” on how to run our semiconductor company does not help us, unless that woman has an advanced technical degree and experience as a CEO. I do realize there are other industries in which the last statement does not hold true. We would quickly embrace the opportunity to include any woman or minority person who could help us as a director, because we pursue talent — and we don’t care in what package that talent comes.

I believe that placing arbitrary racial or gender quotas on corporate boards is fundamentally wrong. Therefore, not only does Cypress not meet your requirements for boardroom diversification, but we are unlikely to, because it is very difficult to find qualified directors, let alone directors that also meet investors’ racial and gender preferences.

I infer that your concept of corporate “morality” contains in it the requirement to appoint a Board of Directors with, in your words, “equality of sexes, races, and ethnic groups.” I am unaware of any Christian requirements for corporate boards; your views seem more accurately described as “politically correct,” than “Christian.”

My views aside, your requirements are — in effect — immoral. By “immoral,” I mean “causing harm to people,” a fundamental wrong. Here’s why:

I presume you believe your organization does good work and that the people who spend their careers in its service deserve to retire with the necessities of life assured. If your investment in Cypress is intended for that purpose, I can tell you that each of the retired Sisters of St. Francis would suffer if I were forced to run Cypress on anything but a profit-making basis. The retirement plans of thousands of other people also depend on Cypress stock — $1.2 billion worth of stock — owned directly by investors or through mutual funds, pension funds, 401k programs, and insurance companies. Recently, a fellow 1970 Dartmouth classmate wrote to say that his son’s college fund (“Dartmouth, Class of 2014,” he writes) owns Cypress stock. Any choice I would make to jeopardize retirees and other investors from achieving their lifetime goals would be fundamentally wrong.

Rodgers goes on to explain in more detail what the consequences of quotas would be for employees, shareholders and the wider economy.

Follow the link above to read the whole letter.

Nothing better than to lob a hundred mortars over the border, fire a few rockets at school buses, and then shout ‘Cease fire!’

Because then Hamas can say, ‘But we want peace, we want a ceasefire. Why is Israel causing all this trouble?’

Fortunately, no one is taken in by that kind of posturing. Well, no one except the UN and the mainstream media.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says a cease fire would be a dangerous waste of time, noting that Hamas has fired more than 130 rockets and mortars into Israel since last Thursday, that Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and that previous ceasefires have simply been opportunities for Hamas to re-arm before resuming attacks.

Nonetheless Israel’s Defence Forces agreed yesterday to a conditional ceasefire. Shortly afterwards a Kassam rocket was launched into Israel and exploded near Askelon.

On Sunday, 13 rockets were fired into Israel, and a senior official in the Defense Ministry, who requested anonymity, told reporters that Israel decided to hold its fire as long as Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups ceased launching attacks on civilians. “It all depends on the other side,” the Defense Ministry official said. “If a barrage of missiles falls in a town and there are casualties, that will change the situation – but if a rocket lands in an open field we will look at that differently.”

What sort of message is that comment sending? ‘Feel free to bomb us, and as long as you don’t kill anyone, or only kill a few, we won’t try to stop you.’ ??

Here’s a little tip for Hamas. Israel has no territorial ambitions other than to defend its own borders. They only retaliate to stop attacks after you have made them. If you want peace, stop firing rockets and mortars into Israel, and get on with the job of governing Gaza.

I have written before that the more aid a country receives, the more likely it is to be locked into a cycle of increasing poverty.

So it is interesting that Eritrea has just written to the UN to say it does not want any UN aid, because such aid makes the situation worse.

The reason, given in a January 26 notification letter from the country’s powerful Finance Minister, obtained by Fox News, is that “aid only postpones the basic solutions to crucial development problems by tentatively ameliorating their manifestations without tackling their root causes. The structural, political, economic, etc. damage that it inflicts upon recipient countries is also enormous.” In other words, the government argues, U.N. aid does more harm than good.

Kenyan economist James Shikawati explains why this is so in an interview with Der Spiegel. In essence, providing free food and clothes undermines any local industry, and encourages corruption and a passive expectation of rescue, which then leads to increasing resentment.

SPEIGEL: The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

What works to bring nations out of poverty, as South Korea and Taiwan have demonstrated, is open trade, democratic government, and reward for effort and invention.

Comment from Bill Maher on Real Clear Politics (language warning):

“All this talk of people who burn the Koran and nothing about the people who reacted in such a stupid way. We are always blaming the victim and not holding them — not most Muslims, but at least a large part of Muslim culture that doesn’t condemn their people,” Bill Maher said on his show “Real Time” Friday night.

“There is one religion in the world that kills you when you disagree with them and they say ‘look, we are a religion of peace and if you disagree we’ll fucking cut your head off,'” Maher said. “And nobody calls them on it — there are very few people that will call them on it.”

“It’s like if Dad is a violent drunk and beats his kids, you don’t blame the kid because he set Dad off. You blame Dad because he’s a violent drunk,” Maher concluded.

And from website The Religion of Peace:

If we should respect the Quran because not doing so causes Muslims to get angry and kill, then here are the other things we should stop doing:

Educating  women.  Selling alcohol.  Pre-marital sexSharinga non-Muslim religious faith.  Democracy.  Disaster reliefSporting events.  Allowing women to dress as they please.  Being gay.  Being Hindu.  Being Christian.  Being Jewish.  Being Buddhist.  Being Sikh.  Being Ahmadi.  Being Sufi.  Going to the wrong mosque

I confess myself somewhat confused by the outrage being expressed over the treatment of Air Force cadet ‘Kate.’

Even commentators like John Ray and Andrew Bolt, normally supportive of the defence forces, have rushed to join the chorus of condemnation directed at the Defence Force Academy and its Commanding Officer, Commodore Bruce Kafer.

As I understand it, this is the sequence of events:

‘Kate’ was due to attend disciplinary hearings for conduct relating to alcohol and unauthorised absences.

Before these could be heard, she made allegations that a consensual sexual encounter with another cadet had been secretly videoed by that person, and relayed to other cadets.

The Academy contacted police to check whether these allegations, if true, constitued a criminal offence and should be the subject of a police investigation. The police advised that this was not the case. This meant the videoing ‘Kate’ claimed had happened was a disciplinary matter to be investigated internally.

‘Kate’ was advised of this, told that she had the support of staff, and and that the hearings relating to alleged breaches of codes of conduct by her could be delayed if she wished.

‘Kate’ then contacted the media to complain about her treatment.

She subsequently met with Commanding Officer Kafer, who reiterated his support for her, and his intention that her complaint should be properly investigated.

He reminded her that he also had a duty of care to the Academy and to other cadets, including the cadet against whom she had made the allegation.

He told her that there appeared to be some anger amongst the other cadets over her decision to make her allegation public before it could be investigated or any action taken.

He suggested that an apology to the other cadets for that decision might go some way towards repairing the relationship between her and them. It soon became clear that the anger felt by the other cadets towards her made this impractical.

‘Kate’ continued her complaints to media organisations.

That’s what happened. I am struggling to see how the actions of Commodore Kafer or other academy staff were at any point inappropriate.

Her complaints were taken seriously. The police were contacted. She was offered a delay in hearing of complaints made against her. She was offered support.

When she contacted the media, her story had the potential to bring the academy and its officers, and her fellow cadets, into disrepute. It is difficult to see how she intended anything else.

If that was her intention, she has certainly been successful, with Defence Minister Stephen Smith denouncing academy staff and Commodore Kafer in particular as “stupid and insensitive.”

But there is no reason, except Minister Smith’s and the media’s rush to judgement, to think that the Academy’s investigation would not have been thorough and fair.

If the facts were as Kate claimed, it is likely the cadets involved would have been subject to sanctions not just by their commanding officers, but by other cadets. The use and betrayal of one’s peers, for sex or anything else, is not taken lightly.

One of the things that is telling about this is that Kate’s fellow cadets, the people who know her best and are best placed to know what happened, regarded her actions as a betrayal of them and of the Academy.

Just one more brief thought.

In any situation where young men and women work or study together, you will find a small minority of men who regard women as sexual objects, sport. You will also find a small minority of women who use their sexuality to manipulate and blackmail. Neither are well-regarded by their peers.

There is a simple rule for avoiding difficulties with either of these obnoxious minorities: Keep your pants on and get on with your job.

I might add a second rule. You’re supposed to be grown-ups, leaders. If you break rule one and then feel used or manipulated, don’t come whining to us.

I think the majority of cadets would agree.

There are occasions when the death penalty may be the only way to protect the community from a particularly vicious criminal. There is also some evidence that states with the death penalty have lower rates of murder. So it is possible to make a pro-life argument in favour of the death penalty.

The death penalty should be on the table as an option of last resort, used very rarely.

But where a death sentence is imposed, very strong penalties need to apply when prosecutors deliberately withhold evidence that might help the defence. In fact, there should be severe consequences for prosecutors and others who abuse due process even when the death penalty is not an option.

The New York Times has John Thompson’s frightening story:

I spent 18 years in prison for robbery and murder, 14 of them on death row. I’ve been free since 2003, exonerated after evidence covered up by prosecutors surfaced just weeks before my execution date. Those prosecutors were never punished. Last month, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 to overturn a case I’d won against them and the district attorney who oversaw my case, ruling that they were not liable for the failure to turn over that evidence — which included proof that blood at the robbery scene wasn’t mine.

Because of that, prosecutors are free to do the same thing to someone else today. …

The prosecutors involved in my two cases, from the office of the Orleans Parish district attorney, Harry Connick Sr., helped to cover up 10 separate pieces of evidence. And most of them are still able to practice law today.

Why weren’t they punished for what they did? When the hidden evidence first surfaced, Mr. Connick announced that his office would hold a grand jury investigation. But once it became clear how many people had been involved, he called it off.

In 2005, I sued the prosecutors and the district attorney’s office for what they did to me. The jurors heard testimony from the special prosecutor who had been assigned by Mr. Connick’s office to the canceled investigation, who told them, “We should have indicted these guys, but they didn’t and it was wrong.” The jury awarded me $14 million in damages — $1 million for every year on death row — which would have been paid by the district attorney’s office. That jury verdict is what the Supreme Court has just overturned. …

Worst of all, I wasn’t the only person they played dirty with. Of the six men one of my prosecutors got sentenced to death, five eventually had their convictions reversed because of prosecutorial misconduct. Because we were sentenced to death, the courts had to appoint us lawyers to fight our appeals. I was lucky, and got lawyers who went to extraordinary lengths. But there are more than 4,000 people serving life without parole in Louisiana, almost none of whom have lawyers after their convictions are final. Someone needs to look at those cases to see how many others might be innocent.

After many years of informal experimentation, I am happy to report my findings about the benefits of beer as re-hydrative beverage of choice have been confirmed in a more objectively scientific study.

After exercise, water is good, beer is better.

Minion: Sire, the people have no fuel!

Obama: Then let them drive hybrids.

I am surprised (OK, I’m not) that this has not had wider coverage in the press.

Fuel prices in the US have risen 67% during the Obama maladministration.

Instapundit reported yesterday that Obama had responded to a complaint by a working man that he could not afford to buy the fuel he needed to get to work, with the suggestion he should buy a new car. The Associated Press subsequently removed this comment from their reporting of the event, but Glenn had saved a screen shot of the original report, complete with Marie Antionette/Obama quote.

Mark Steyn comments:

America, 2011: A man gets driven in a motorcade to sneer at a man who has to drive himself to work. A guy who has never generated a dime of wealth, never had to make payroll, never worked at any job other than his own tireless self-promotion literally cannot comprehend that out there, beyond the far fringes of the motorcade outriders, are people who drive a long distance to jobs whose economic viability is greatly diminished when getting there costs twice as much as the buck-eighty-per-gallon it cost back at the dawn of the Hopeychangey Era.
So what? Your fault. Should have gone to Columbia and Harvard and become a community organizer.

A letter from me to our local paper following a rash of rattled residents handing over credit card details to mellifluous malfeasants:

Residents report rorting by rascals ringing randomly.

Rancid rogues wrongly represent themselves as reps of reliable retailers.

These reprehensible rapscallions rip off retirees with relish.

Refuse rotten requests to ransack your RAM.

Ring off rapidly!

Kosher companies do not cold call clients for computer consultations.

Compliance with callous con-men may lead to credit card cancellation.

Help from hackers may lead to hijacked hardware.

Cut off cold calling quacks quickly!

In other words:

Neither Microsoft nor any other reputable computer security company cold calls users about virus infections on their computers, problems with their operating system, or anything else.

If someone calls you claiming to be from Microsoft Security, Global Internet Security, or any other tech supplier or tech support company, the caller is trying to scam you.

He may get you bring up the event log as proof of problems which urgently need to be fixed. The computer I am typing on lists 208 ‘problems’ for the last week. It is working perfectly. Problems listed in the event log are not a problem unless your computer is not doing what it should, when the event log may be a useful diagnostic tool for a technician.

Getting people to look at the event log is a good way of scaring old ladies, however.

Once you have checked the event log and are sufficiently alarmed, the scammer will either try to get you give him your credit card details to pay a fee for fixing these imaginary problems, or will give ask you to follow instructions which will give him control over your computer. This will allow him to plant malicious software which may track your key entries, giving him your ID and any passwords you use, or may pop up fake virus or system warnings later in order to get you to pay more money to deal with these further fake problems.

If you get a scam computer tech support call like this, just hang up.

Well, I guess that’s what she was trying to do; offer advice to the Australian cricket team as they prepare to face Bangladesh in Dhaka.

That’s the trouble with Julia – you have to guess what she is trying to do. Partly because the outcomes she achieves never seem to match her stated intentions.

We’ll reduce the number of asylum seekers held in detention (by implementing policies which invite huge numbers to come).

We’ll increase employment (by punishing businesses and imposing heavy new taxes on our most productive industries).

You get the idea.

So I’m only guessing when I say that Julia must have been trying to offer our new test captain some helpful advice.

Her suggestion was something she calls the ‘hyperbowl.’

Based on her implementation of this technique, the hyperbowl can be summarised as follows:

A long run up, slow at first, then at a frantic pace towards the end. A flamboyant display is made of bowling with the right arm, but the actual delivery is made under-arm with the left.

That could work.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I had finally finished my teen fantasy novel Jennifer Jones and the Corridors of Time. You can download the first five chapters free at that link.

I have also written a few horror stories based in an imaginary town called Rendlesham. Horror stories I write under the name Alastair Kayle.

There will eventually be ten of these short stories. They are can be read and enjoyed independently, but together they form a definite larger story. The ultimate theme is the triumph of courage and perseverance even in the face of fear, confusion and apparent failure. Essentially the same theme as the Jennifer Jones series – but Rendlesham is definitely not for children!

As an experiment I have self published one of these – Terminus – as a Kindle book on Amazon.

Here’s the product link:

You’ll need a Kindle, or the free Kindle for PC viewer, to read it.

It costs 99c. If you buy it and like it, please write a nice review!

The next story in the series – Evidence of an Unspeakable Act – should be available on Amazon this time next week.

Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn if someone wants to burn a book, any book. If a person’s paid for a book, he can do what he likes with it.

I am not going to join the chorus proclaiming Pastor Terry Jones a try-hard loser. I don’t know anything about the man. I suspect he is more sought by the media than seeking the media.

What I do think is that his burning of the Koran was a reasonable act of protest.

This is a book which inspires murder, torture, the mistreatment of women and minorities.

It is a book which, read through the lens of the example of Muhammed, a serial rapist, torturer, murderer and child molester, means misery for hundreds of millions of human beings.

It is the book of a religious group whose default emotional setting is inflamed.

It is the book of a group of people who thinking burning a book (their book – burning other books is OK)  justifies burning and beheading people who look like, or may have once have been in the same country as, the people who burnt the book.

So go ahead and burn it. The trouble is not with the burning, but with the cringing.

General Petreaus described the Koran burning as ”hateful, extremely disrespectful and enormously intolerant”.

No it wasn’t.

He then went on to say that the fury this had aroused was an understandable passion.

No it isn’t.

Burning a nasty, racist, violent book is a legitimate act of protest. Burning and beheading people who had nothing to do with it is murderous brutality.

Jones was right. The reaction to his little protest proves there is something to protest about.

Kow-towing to bullies does not work. They need to be told stop it and grow up.

Forgiving bullies does not work, unless they have first shown that they have changed and will bully no longer.

Otherwise making excuses for inexcusable behaviour merits the warning JP Donleavy gave about forgiveness in general (no link, but from the Unexpurgated Code):

“Forgiveness. Be careful, those getting this then do the unforgivable. Which is frequently a lot worse than the first lousy thing they did to you.”

Now a couple of quotes from a woman who runs a small business in the rural US:

Ann – I am not a political activist.  I am the owner of three small businesses who looked around two and a half years ago and said, “Oh, HELL no.”  Politicians make me ill.  I can never and will never be a politician.  For the last two to three years I have been focusing heavily on explaining and exposing Marxism, Islam and the fraud that is Obama.  But that is triple-redundant, isn’t it?

iOTW – What is your take on what is known as the Ground Zero Mosque?
 
Ann – They can build a mosque at Ground Zero when we can build a Catholic Cathedral Basilica over the top of the Kaaba in Mecca.  You know what?  Check that.  They still couldn’t build a mosque at Ground Zero, because Ground Zero is the sacred burial space of 3000 people that THEY MURDERED.  No mosque at Ground Zero E.V.E.R.
 
iOTW – Islam uses the constitution to their advantage. How do we do battle with Islam without trampling the constitution?
 
Ann – Declare war against the Caliphate, just like we did against the Third Reich.  Same bloody thing.  And I’m not kidding.
 
iOTW- What do you think of General Petraeus and his assertion that inciting Islam puts our soldiers in harm’s way?
 
Ann – I have an offer for General Petraeus.  I’ll GIVE him one of my balls.  Then I’d still have two, and he would have one.  He is a politicking coward who cares only about his pension and cashing in on his rank after he retires.  The suicidal, defeatist Rules of Engagement he oversees are the unequivocal proof of that.  He should resign in disgrace – yesterday, and then present himself to each and every family of our war dead and BEG their forgiveness for failing in his duty as their son or daughter’s commanding officer.

Here’s a bit more, complete with Koran with bacon bookmarks:

You may disagree with some of what she says, or the way she says it.

Freedom of speech, and safety to speak what we believe, is a great privilege. To lose it is to lose civilisation.

Given odd exceptions (I wouldn’t want to live in Venezuela at the moment, for example) where would you choose to live?

Where are women treated as equals, and gays and lesbians accepted and safe? Where would you feel safer? Where would your children be safer? Where can people of any race and religion participate in business and politics? In which countries are there schools, universities, hospitals, stable government, a free press?

Where Would You Like To Live?

And which countries are people trying to leave?

Just a few brief thoughts.

One:

It seems to me quite clear, at the risk of incurring judicial wrath, that Justice Bromberg would very much like to find against Andrew Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times.

There have been a few comments and questions from the bench which indicate this. For example, his remark that “It (freedom of speech) is not an unqualified right. Never has been.”

No one had said it was. Certainly Andrew’s team had made no such claim. So why make this comment?

I could be quite wrong. Justice Bromberg may genuinely intend to put aside any feelings or political values he may have or espouse, and make his judgement solely on the basis of relevant legislation and precedent.

But at very least, it is unwise for a justice, during the course of a trial, to make gratuitous remarks which could beconstrued as indicating a bias.

Two:

It is simply nonsense to suggest that public discussion of another person’s ethnicity is out of bounds because it is necessarily racial vilification.

Say I was to discover that my maternal grandmother had been a member of the Ngapuhi tribe. One of my adopted sisters is a Ngapuhi woman, and my family had lived in Northland for a long time before coming to Australia, so this is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Say I then decided on this basis that I was a Maori. I would expect some pretty merciless mocking from my mates.

If I decided to return to NZ and to claim benefits or awards on the basis of being a Ngapuhi man, I would expect that this claim would be scrutinised.

I would also expect to be able to show the basis on which my claim was made. I would not feel insulted by requests to do this.

Even I did feel insulted, that would say more about my own conceit than anything else.

There is no right under law not to be offended.

Three:

Underlying the complaint in the Bolt case, and, it seems to me in some of Justice Bromberg’s remarks, is the assumption that race is less about race than it is about identity, community and culture. Some of the comments from the complainants go as far as suggesting that anyone who does not hold this new view of race is ipso facto a racist or eugenicist.

There may be instances where it is helpful to take culture and identity into account when race is being determined.

But that is different from saying that culture, identity, community are what matter, and that actual racial background and inheritance do not. A person who is ethnically Han Chinese is still ethnically Chinese even if she was born in Australia and knows nothing of Chinese culture or language.

I would be happy to see some public discussion of this. But it would be extraordinary if people who still thought that race was primarily about race found themselves in trouble with the law because they held and expressed that opinion.

My mother’s grandfather was Norwegian. He was a very old man when I was young. He was born in the late 1800s, and was one of the last generation of merchant seaman to sail in commerical wind-powered ships.

I liked him – he let me have sugar in my tea. But even more I liked the idea that some of my ancestors might have been vikings. I remember seeing The Vikings and The Long Ships at the Kings theatre in Kawakawa. They seem remarkably violent now for a five or six year old boy to have been allowed go and see alone. But times have changed. One shilling and sixpence isn’t going to buy you a movie ticket and an icecream anymore.

So of course I had to be a viking. I had a horned hat, and conducted carefully planned raids on neighbouring fruit trees. I leapt out from behind bushes to terrify local maidens, and threatened passing dragons (cars) from my lair halfway up the bank beside the road.

If I was minded to, I could just as easily have been Welsh, or German. Germans were still a bit unpopular in the early sixties, and the Welsh, well who the heck were they? So I had to be a viking.

Now I’m just me.

My wife had just as interesting a range of choices. Both her parents have scottish ancestry. But she is also part Cherokee. About as much as I am Norwegian.

She is interested in her Cherokee heritage. but she would never claim to be Cherokee, any more than I would claim to be Norwegian. Why would we choose to ‘be’ something that is only a tiny part of our total heritage?

But some people do just that.

Let’s imagine two young people. We’ll call them the Malfoys. They are white in appearance and were raised by a European family in a comfortable home in a modern city. In early adulthood they discovered one of their relatives was aboriginal.

This makes them aboriginal, they claim. A lasting sorrow is that as they were growing up they were deprived of learning their aboriginal culture.

Later the Malfoys become so expert in aboriginal history and culture that they become teachers of it.

They do not appear to notice that growing up as aboriginal in an aboriginal community would have deprived them of learning about the European and perhaps other cultures, which are also part of their heritage. And of the educational opportunities and income which allowed them later to pursue their aboriginality.

The Malfoys might say they did not decide what to be. But in deciding to favour one tiny part of the totality of their heritage over all others, they have chosen to be aboriginal.

And fair enough. Why would I care, any more than they should care if I claimed to be Norwegian?

But if they claim special privilege at public cost because they are aboriginal, then it becomes my concern, and I and other tax payers are entitled to ask why they are favouring this tiny part of their heritage over all else.

Any claim on taxpayer money is a matter of public interest.

Some of those who have accepted prizes, awards and assistance designed to benefit aboriginal people who have suffered prejudice or disadvantage, have an appearance and family background which means they cannot possibly have suffered any such prejudice or disadvantage while growing up.

It is disingenuous to pretend to be insulted by questions about whether awards and assistance given to them is an appropriate use of funds allocated for that purpose.