10 months with my E300e plug-in hybrid

September 29, 2020

Normally I would do about 12,000 – 14,000 km in a year. Typically about 40 – 50% would have been as return trips of less than 100 km. However in these corona times this pattern has been drastically disrupted. I expect that my first year with my Mercedes E300e will see only 50% of my usual total usage.  But the real change is that over 80% of my actual usage has been for return trips of less than 100km. Since April there has been only one “long” trip (480km return).

Nevertheless, I am beginning to draw some conclusions.

The battery of the Mercedes E300e has a total capacity of 13.5 kWh. The usable capacity is about 10.8 kWh. The unused capacity seems to be a permanent reserve kept for all starts and when travelling at less than about 15 km/h. What I actually get is an all-electric range of 40 – 65 km. The 40 km is when trips are predominantly short with very little regenerative charging. This goes up to as much as 65 km during return trips exceeding 150 km where the regenerative charging gives about 10 – 15 km depending upon terrain. Charging the battery (10.8 kWh) takes about 1h 45m.

The nice thing about the hybrid is that running out of battery capacity is of no concern. The petrol tank (55 litres) gives a range of over 1,000 km and  is always there as the back-up for short trips which are longer than expected.  For long trips the battery provides the start/stop economy and with the regenerative capacity, petrol consumption is minimised in the uneconomic range. When operating in hybrid mode the switchover between petrol and the battery, in either direction, is automatic and almost unnoticeable.

The performance in winter still remains to be seen.

Electricity consumption thus varies from about 24 kWh/ 100 km (short trips) to about 18 kWh/100 km for longer trips. Currently my petrol consumption (which is somewhat distorted by the lack of longer trips) is at about 5.1 litres /100 km.

So far so good.




Wuhan virus perspective

September 26, 2020

It takes time to gain perspective.

Wuhan virus versus the Spanish Flu.


Part 2 – The brain and our senses enable language but physiology limits languages

September 22, 2020

Part 1 –  “Language” is discovered but “languages” are invented

Part 2 – The brain and our senses enable language but physiology limits languages

The capability for language is an evolved ability and clearly a species-specific, cognitive attribute. This capability is not digital (On/Off) but varies first along the axis of cognition and second, the ability (both cognitive and physiological) to generate and receive signals. The capability for language, discovered within ourselves, together with the need and desire to communicate meanings, has led to humans inventing specific systems of language (Khoisan clicks, proto-Indo-European, Egyptian, Sanskrit, English, Braille, mathematics, ….). There are those who claim that humans are the only species having language and while it is true that only humans have all the characteristics of language (as defined by humans), the claim reduces to that “only humans have human language”.

Language exists not because humans exist, but because entities with brains, having the cognitive capability for language and desirous of communicating, exist.

(I take communication to be the intentional transfer of information, where information consists of facts or knowledge. Defining meaning leads either to circular logic (a meaning is what is conveyed by language and language communicates meanings) or to metaphysics. For this post I take meaning to simply be any coherent thought).

Brain 1>>meaning >>encoding>>output signal>>detection>>decoding>>meaning 2>>Brain 2

There is no doubt that most animal species have communication. Whether dogs or tigers or horses or even bees or ants, individuals of many species do communicate with each other. Individuals of some few species communicate in ways which suggest they may have a rudimentary capacity for language. Within some communities of monkeys and elephants and dolphins, for example, specific, repeatable sounds are used, voluntarily and with intent, to communicate specific meanings. The sounds and their meanings are learned and shared within particular communities. Monkeys within a troop are known to use different sounds to distinguish between snakes and lions, and then to communicate warnings about their approach. Even prairie dogs make different warning sounds for different kinds of predator. They even have a specific sound to sound an “All Clear”. However monkeys are not capable of forming or communicating more complex meanings such as “The lion is closer than the snake”. Only humans, it seems, even attempt to communicate abstract meanings, including any related to time or numbers. Animals may deceive but cannot, it seems, create false meanings (lies).

In the main, animals use sound and gestures for communication. Ants may communicate by the pheromones they emit, by sounds and even by touch. However, much of this is probably involuntary. Animals generally use their olfactory sense to garner information about the world around them. They even produce smells to mark territory and generate mating information, but it does not seem that they can produce different smells, at will, for communication purposes. Elephants use infra-sound to communicate over long distances. Bats use ultra-sound not only for echo-location but also, it seems, for communication. Even tigers, it is thought, produce infra-sounds at mating time. No animal system of communication remotely approaches the sophistication of human language, but that is not to say that their capability for language is zero. The capability for language exists when any entity having a brain

  1. desires to communicate with another similar entity, and
  2. shares a code with that entity wherein a meaning (including information) is represented by a particular signal, and
  3. can generate such a signal at will, and
  4. which signal can then be detected and interpreted as the intended meaning by the other entity.

Language: A shared system whereby two or more brains can communicate by the encoding of meanings into signals, which signals can then be transmitted and received and decoded back into their meanings.

All human attempts to communicate with animals are, in fact, a tacit acknowledgement that dogs and cats and dolphins and elephants and horses do have a rudimentary capability for language. They all seem to be able to generate specific signals to communicate specific meanings to others of their species. None have speech, but they can all make the cognitive leap that a particular human signal represents a particular meaning. Sometimes they generate their own particular signals (a certain bark or a rumble or a gesture) which humans are able to interpret as representing a particular meaning. It is apparent that the capability for language of a pet dog is greater than that of sheep, but it is also clear that neither is zero. The capability for language is often conflated with the ability for speech, but it is more likely that while speech enabled and allowed for an unprecedented sophistication in the human invention and use of languages, the capability for language had already appeared long before humans came down from the trees.

When our human ancestors achieved bipedalism they had brains about the size of current day chimpanzees. Australopithecus lived in Africa between 4 and 2 million years ago and had an average cranial capacity of about 450 cc, which is comparable to that of chimpanzees. By 1.5 million years ago the homo habilis brain had grown to a size of about 600 cc. Between 1.5 million and 300,000 years ago, homo erectus had a brain volume of between 800 and 1000 cc. Modern humans have a cranial volume of about 1350 cc but this can vary in individuals from as little as 900 and up to as much as 2,000 cc. (Neanderthals, Denisovans and even homo sapiens of their time are thought to have had slightly larger cranial capacities averaging about 1400 cc). The combination of physiological wherewithal and the associated brain control needed for speech as we know it today, was probably in place during the latter stages of homo erectus. Some form of speech was then probably available for Neanderthals, Denisovans and the earliest homo sapiens. Mammals first appeared some 200 million years ago. A plausible evolutionary time-line is that the capacity for language first began to appear with creatures at least several tens of million years ago. However, the invention of well codified languages, coincident with the arrival of speech, only came within the last million years, and perhaps only within the last 100,000 years.

In any species the emergence of the capability for language must precede the invention of communication codes. The inputs to, and the outputs from, a brain are limited by the physiology available to the brain through the body it controls. Strictly, cognition, as the ability to comprehend, is not just of the brain but of a brain together with the sensory abilities it has access to for getting inputs. An entity with a brain, even in isolation, may develop cognition as long as it has access to sensory inputs. The capability for language is thus dependent on, and constrained by, the cognition available which in turn is a composite of the brain and its associated senses. This capability must then be different for brains having access to different senses. Communication is undefined without there existing more than one brain. Communication becomes possible only when one brain can generate output signals which can be detected as input by a different brain. (In theory an entity could generate signals that it could not, itself, detect). For all living creatures the band of available sensory inputs is much broader than the range of output signals that can be intentionally generated. For example all mammals can hear a much wider range of frequencies than they can generate. Our vision can differentiate shapes to a greater precision than our hands can draw. The bottleneck for the invention of languages is thus the ability to generate coded signals which can be detected and interpreted. We do not use smell or taste or even touch (except for Braille as a proxy for sight) for language because we cannot generate unique signals at will. Touch was probably discarded as a primary means for signals because communication at a distance – but within hearing distance – was preferred.

Of all the senses available to us, human languages use only sight and hearing for inputs (again excepting Braille where touch is a proxy for sight). The underlying reason is that we are unable to generate unique, coded, repeatable signals detectable by our other senses. The predominance of speech in the languages we invent is of necessity. The languages we invent are constrained primarily by the signals we can generate. An entity with a brain capable of language but a different physiology would inevitably invent languages constrained by the signals it can generate.


Waiting Game

September 18, 2020



An Eternal Second is 6.5 Zettayears (Zy) in an eternity of eternities

September 11, 2020

Alexander Atkins has an interesting post up at his blog about the literary treatment of “eternity”.

How long is eternity

……. The first to address this question, were two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (better known as the Brothers Grimm), German cultural researchers, philologists, and lexicographers that wrote a seminal collection of folktales titled Children’s and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen), first published in 1812; a second volume was published in 1815. ……. But what interests us today, in discerning the length of eternity, is a lesser known story — the insightful, charming and timeless tale of the Shepherd Boy. A king summons a shepherd, who is famous for his tremendous wisdom, and challenges him to answer three questions.

The third question is: “how many seconds of time are there in eternity?” He answers: “In Lower Pomerania [northern Poland, at the southern tip of the Baltic Sea] is the Diamond Mountain, which is two miles and a half high, two miles and a half wide, and two miles and a half in depth; every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on it, and when the whole mountain is worn away by this, then the first second of eternity will be over.”

Even shepherds are subject to arithmetic.

In Grimms’ story the mountain would have a volume of 15.625 miles3 or about 65 x 109 cubic meters. Assuming a density of 2000 kg/ m3 (or 2 x 106 g/m3), the mountain would weigh about 130 x 1015 g. Assuming further that the bird pecked 2 mg each time, the mountain would disappear after 65 x 1018 visits. Since each visit would occur every 100 years, the mountain would last 65 x 1020 years. And since 1 Zettayear is 1 x 1021 years the mountain would last 6.5 Zettayears (Zy). And that would then be one second of Eternal Time. The curious thing is that one Eternal Year would have to consist of 31.55 million Eternal Seconds and thus

1 Eternal Year = 205,124 Yottayears where a Yottayear (Yy) is 1 x 1024 years

Eternity itself is, of course, endless even if an Eternal Year is bounded by the Diamond Mountain.

But we must not forget that for the word “eternity” plurals are allowed, and the deeper truth is that many eternities, each endless, are possible. In fact, there may well be an eternity of eternities.


Oxford Medieval Mysteries by Ann Swinfen

September 2, 2020

I only discovered the Oxford Medieval Mysteries by Ann Swinfen sometime last year. There are six books and I devoured the series. I found the mystery tales centered around a Medieval book seller wonderfully evocative. Of course what they evoke is only a picture of what it might have been like after the Black Death. The six books comprising the Oxford Medieval Mysteries, are set in the fourteenth century and recount the tales of bookseller (and book producer) Nicholas Elyot in the days before printing. He is a young widower with two small children, and is faced by murder and dastardly deeds in the troubled world around Oxford University traumatized by the Black Death. I found the detailed picture of everyday life very well researched and remarkably convincing. Ann Swinfen was a mathematician, a historian and an author. Perhaps it was that combination which makes her tales so believable.

I was eagerly looking forward  to there being a seventh in the series but have just found out that Ann Swinfen died 2 years ago. 

A strange sense of disappointment and of great loss.

Dr. Ann Swinfen (b. 1937 – d. 2018) 

Ann Swinfen spent her childhood partly in England and partly on the east coast of America. She was educated at Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Classics and Mathematics and married a fellow undergraduate, the historian David Swinfen. While bringing up their five children and studying for a postgraduate MSc in Mathematics and a BA and PhD in English Literature, she had a variety of jobs, including university lecturer, translator, freelance journalist and software designer. She served for nine years on the governing council of the Open University and for five years worked as a manager and editor in the technical author division of an international computer company, but gave up her full-time job to concentrate on her writing, while continuing part-time university teaching in English Literature. In 1995 she founded Dundee Book Events, a voluntary organisation promoting books and authors to the general public, which ran for fifteen years. ….. 

Her blog now seems to have been discontinued but from the parts that I have seen, her research into medieval life seems meticulous. This is an extract from a post she wrote just a month before she died.

Medieval Books

Until Nicholas Elyot, bookseller in fourteenth century Oxford, walked into my life, I had no more than a hazy knowledge of medieval books. The general impression I had gained, like most other people (I would guess), was that medieval books were limited in number, restricted as to contents, and confined to religious institutions and a very few royal and aristocratic houses.

Part of the problem lies in the terminology. ‘Medieval’ is a loosely defined term at the best of times, equivalent to ‘pertaining to the Middle Ages’, which can be extended to cover all the centuries from the end of the Roman Empire to the dawn of early modern Europe, another imprecise date. However, for our purposes, let us take it as beginning in England with the Norman Conquest and petering out in the Tudor period. As the new technology of printing was introduced toward the end of this period, in the late fifteenth century, I am interested in looking at medieval books before printing, the kind of books Nicholas sold and, increasingly, produced. 

It is clear from the sheer numbers of exquisite medieval books which still survive in libraries, museums, and private collections that this is but the proverbial tip of the iceberg. If we take into account the destruction wreaked by time, mice, damp, insects, and the savage attacks by zealots like Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell in England and Savonarola in Italy, the original number of medieval books must have been much, much greater than those which survive. The number was not so limited after all. Accustomed as we are to modern printing, it is difficult for us to grasp that every one of these books was handwritten, but a monastic scribe or a secular scrivener, working day after day, could produce a remarkable amount of work. 

The content of medieval books covered a very wide range. In the first place, we can easily divide them into two main groups – those intended as practical and business records and those intended for scholarly or leisure reading. The former group includes all those manorial records which are full of fascinating details about the buying and selling of land, rents, the employment of servants, crops, game, household expenses (three yards of silk for a christening gown, twenty hogsheads of canary wine…) and the like. It also includes the chartularies of the monastic houses which may cover similar details but more particularly the gifts of benefactors and the rights and privileges of the institution. The surviving records of government run to thousands and thousands. As time passed and the merchant class expanded and grew rich, their businesses required detailed record keeping as well. Many of these are not ‘books’ as we would recognise them, for they were more conveniently kept as scrolls, so that additional pieces could be sewn on as required. …….. 

I am trying to retrieve more of her posts but that will have to wait for another day.


At least 44 vaccines under Phase 1 -3 trials

September 1, 2020

There may never be a vaccine.

A vaccine may apparently be developed but long term effects will be unknown.

The most plausible scenario is that there may be promising vaccine available for mass usage, and with a reasonable level of safety, in the summer of 2021.

RAPS has an illuminating post detailing the various vaccines under trial and their status:

Researchers worldwide are working around the clock to find a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts estimate that a fast-tracked vaccine development process could speed a successful candidate to market in approximately 12-18 months – if the process goes smoothly from conception to market availability.

To date, just one coronavirus vaccine has been approved. Sputnik V – formerly known as Gam-COVID-Vac and developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow – was approved by the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation on 11 August. ………. 

The pandemic has created unprecedented public/private partnerships. Operation Warp Speed (OWS) is a collaboration of several US federal government departments including Health and Human Services and its subagencies, Agriculture, Energy and Veterans Affairs and the private sector. Within OWS, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has partnered with more than 18 biopharmaceutical companies to accelerate development of drug and vaccine candidates for COVID-19 (ACTIV). The COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (COVPN) has also been established, which combines clinical trial networks funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID): the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium (IDCRC), and the AIDS Clinical Trials Group.

The COVAX initiative, part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is being spearheaded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and WHO. The goal is to work with vaccine manufacturers to offer low-cost COVID-19 vaccines to countries. Currently, CEPI’s candidates from companies Inovio, Moderna, CureVac, Institut Pasteur/Merck/Themis, AstraZeneca/University of Oxford, Novavax, University of Hong Kong, Clover Biopharmaceuticals, and University of Queensland/CSL are part of the COVAX initiative. There are further candidates being evaluated in the COVAX Facility from the United States and internationally.

The US government has chosen three vaccine candidates to fund for Phase 3 trials under Operation Warp Speed: Moderna’s mRNA-1273, The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s AZD1222, and Pfizer and BioNTech’s BNT162. Members of ACTIV have suggested  developing safe controlled human infection models (CHIMs) for human trials could take 1-2 years. A sponsor would need to provide data from placebo-controlled trials indicating their vaccine is at least 50% effective against COVID-19 in order to be authorized for use, according to FDA guidance issued and effective 30 June. 

The 44 candidates ( as of 31st August 2020) are:

AAVCOVID, Ad26.COV2-S, Ad5-nCoV, AdCOVID, Adenovirus-based vaccine, AdimrSC-2f, Adjuvant recombinant vaccine candidate, AZD1222/Covishield, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) live-attenuated vaccine, bacTRL-Spike, BBIBP-CorV, BNT162, ChAd-SARS-CoV-2-S, CoronaVac, COVAX-19, Covaxin, gp96-based vaccine, GRAd-COV2, GRAd-COV2, HaloVax, HDT-301, Ii-Key peptide COVID-19 vaccine, Inactivated vaccine, INO-4800, LineaDNA, LUNAR-COV19, Molecular clamp vaccine, mRNA lipid nanoparticle (mRNA-LNP) vaccine, mRNA-1273, mRNA-based vaccine, mRNA-based vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, PittCoVacc, Plant-based adjutant COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Protein subunit vaccine, Recombinant vaccine 1, Recombinant vaccine 2, SCB-2019, Self-amplifying RNA vaccine, Sputnik V, T-COVIDTM, V590, V591, ZyCoV-D

Covid candidate vaccines (pdf)


Parts of Sweden burn while the Social Democrats fiddle

August 29, 2020

I was recruited to Sweden in the 1980s and stayed on. That makes me an immigrant, now a Swedish national of Indian origin, but where my “Indian culture”, in everyday life, is subordinated to the dominant, mainstream, “Swedish culture”. However my presence here probably does contribute – even if in very small measure – to bringing some little parts of my culture into the evolving mainstream.

In recent times, it has become very clear that parallel cultures have splintered society. Criminal (mainly immigrant) gangs have been running rampant in some parts of large cities in Sweden. There have created no-go areas with their own rules and social hierarchies. Cars are torched every weekend and kids are knifed as initiation events. Rival gangs bomb each others hangouts. They set up their own checkpoints, indulge in shoot-outs with rival gangs and even torture victims with methods that ISIS would be proud of. It may not be due to their religion, but I perceive Muslim immigrants as being hugely over-represented among the criminal gangs.

It is my contention that over the last 50 years the liberal left in Sweden (and in Europe) has not had the common sense (or the courage) to distinguish between multi-ethnic and multicultural. A multi-ethnic population needs a unifying culture to form a coherent society. Having multiple cultures without an over-riding culture only gives a fractured society. Having many cultures present as sub-cultures enriches society but multiculturalism tries to deny that one must dominate. Promoting multiculturalism prevents integration, and together with a multi-ethnic community can only give multiple, parallel, abrasive, communities which makes a fractured society inevitable.

The future of Europe is multi-ethnic but not multicultural

I have for long held the position that a society needs a single overriding culture to be a society. All cultures are dynamic and change as times change and as new groups may be assimilated into it. The new culture inevitably contains elements of what new communities bring to the table and the original culture of that community – in some adjusted form – can continue as a sub-culture, but subordinate to the overriding culture. What is not tenable is the idea that a single society can remain a single society when it is splintered into a collection of many parallel cultures (and which are not subordinate to an overriding culture). It has been the misguided, do-gooding, politically correct approach of the “liberal left” in Europe which has actively encouraged new communities to maintain the cultures of where they came from and remain separate to the existing, prevailing culture. There has been little emphasis on getting new communities to assimilate and a far greater emphasis on separateness. This approach has also given rise to the fear of demanding assimilation from new communities. That has in turn led – and not very surprisingly – to the immigrant ghettos, the no-go areas and large parts of the new population who cannot even speak the local language (into the 3rd generation in some cases).

I have a theory that part of the problem in Sweden is that governments have been so ashamed, and so afraid, of Sweden’s past role in promoting Race Biology and eugenics, that they have overcompensated and been blind to the folly of multiculturalism in a multi-ethnic community. Many of the leading politicians (including Social Democrats) of that time were part of the Eugenics Network which provided the Nazis with the academic legitimacy and support they needed for their own Race Biology theories. Gunnar and Alva Myrdal were among the leading Social Democrats who supported eugenics but so also did George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells and Leon Trotsky. The Sami and the Roma (rather than the Jews) were the main targets for Swedish eugenics.

Europe’s shame

The collective Swedish amnesia about sterilisation is difficult to explain. From the outset it was viewed as an integral and widely-proclaimed part of the Swedish welfare programme. … The Swedish commitment to eugenic sterilisation was especially emphasised in the widely-known writings of Alva and Gunnar Myrdal; their book on the Crisis of the Population Question of 1934 achieved best-seller status, and was translated into English in 1940. The sequel, Alva Myrdal’s Nation and Family, appeared in English in 1941. Both books forcefully argued the case for sterilisation on eugenic grounds, and the second described the work of the Swedish Royal Commission on Population, which produced a report on sterilisation in 1936. This led to strengthening of the sterilisation law, as a consequence of which the number of sterilisations increased and peaked shortly after World War II.

Though the Swedish eugenics movement started in 1909 and was most active before WW2, Sweden’s sterilisation policies continued all the way till 1976 under a series of Social Democrat governments.

Between 1934 and 1976, when the Sterilisation Act was finally repealed, 62,000 people, 90 percent of them women, were sterilised. 15-year-old teenagers were sterilised for “crimes” such as going to dance halls. One woman was sterilised in 1960 for being in a motorcycle gang. Orphans were sterilised as a condition of their release from children’s homes. Others were pinpointed on the basis of local neighbourhood gossip and personal grudges. Some were targeted because of their “low intelligence”, being of mixed race, being gypsies, or for physical defects.

Sweden’s Race Biology Institute included leading academics and politicians and played a crucial role in selling Eugenics not only to Germany but throughout Europe and the USA. (The origins of Planned Parenthood, for example, in the US lie with Margaret Sanger and eugenics and a desire to control black fertility).

Eugenics Sweden (pdf)

The eugenics network consisted mainly of academics from a variety of disciplines, but with medicine and biology dominating; connections with German scientists who would later shape Nazi biopolitics were strong. The paper ……. also outlines the eugenic vision of the institute’s first director, Herman Lundborg. In effect the network, and in particular Lundborg, promoted the view that politics should be guided by eugenics and by a genetically superior elite. The selling of eugenics in Sweden is an example of the co-production of science and social order.

Whether the overcompensation for the past eugenics connections is the main reason for promoting multiculturalism or not, the fact remains that Swedish cities are now paying the price for the stupidity of promoting multiculturalism in a multi-ethnic community.


The world adds 1,000 new murderers every day

August 28, 2020

Of all the causes of deaths, violent deaths probably account for 2 -3%. Intentional homicides globally account for less than 1% of all deaths, though in some countries it can be as high as 10%.

Some murderers kill more than one person. Say 2 of every 10 murderers kills two (10 murderers = 12 murders). That gives us 410,000 fresh murderers every year. Let us further suppose that murderers are 10 times more likely to be murdered than the general population. Even if we take the worst country homicide rate of 50/100,000 and assume that murderers are killed at the rate of 500/100,000, this only rids us of 2,050 murderers annually. The clearance rate of recorded homicides globally is probably less than 50%. However, clearance rates don’t affect the number of murderers in our midst. Execution rates are so low as to not be significant in reducing the growing population of the world’s murderers.

The incontrovertible reality is that we add over 1,000 murderers to the population every day.

Estimating how many murderers are around is more uncertain, but the arithmetic says it should currently be around 25 million (35 / 100,000 of population). To put that in perspective, any cricket match with 30,000 spectators would include 10 murderers in the crowd.



So how does a life sentence for Brenton Tarrant serve anyone?

August 26, 2020


Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch terrorist, was today sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life in prison without any possibility of parole.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no reason to speak his name any more and he deserved to have a lifetime of “complete and utter silence”.

The sentence serves no one.

I can only conclude that abolishing the death penalty is a form of sanctimonious cowardice.

The Christchurch terrorist (51 killed, 49 injured) has pleaded guilty and will probably be sentenced to a life sentence this week. He is 29 years old. If he gets parole after 17 years he will be out on somebody’s streets in 2037 at the age of 46. If not, he is going to cost New Zealand a great deal. He will either be subject to the righteous wrath of other prisoners or he will live in isolation. With the expected security to protect him from others in prison, the total cost of his imprisonment is likely to be more than 50 million dollars. If he gets transferred somehow to a prison in his native Australia, the cost will not be any less.


A minimum of 17 years is required for a murder committed as part of a terrorist act, and Tarrant has admitted to 51 such murders (among other crimes). ……. 

To lock Tarrant up in perpetuity will be very expensive. He is currently costing just over NZ$4,930 a day due to the extra levels of security, considerably more than the average of about $338 for a standard prisoner. The next two years alone will cost New Zealand taxpayers about $3.6 million. The final sum for the 29-year-old terrorist will depend on how long he lives and the ongoing level of security he requires. If he has a normal life span the cost may be in the tens of millions per decade.

He has been variously called a maggot, an animal, less than human, not human ……..

What then is the virtue in keeping him alive?

By what scale does his life weigh heavier than those of his 51 victims?  Before any of those 51 were killed, it would have been right and perfectly acceptable if an armed guard had shot the terrorist dead. However, after the 51 were dead, capital punishment is no longer acceptable. Clearly the lives of the 51 no longer count once they are dead.

And where went justice?


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