On resilience

When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. Anon. After last week’s discussion of efficiency, it’s time to talk about its complement: resilience, literally the quality of springing back, like a rubber ball. It’s a broader and vaguer concept, with none of the satisfyingly crisp arithmetic we can bring to bear on efficiency, but IContinue reading “On resilience”

On discrimination

For nothing is more democratic than logic; it is no respecter of persons and makes no distinction between crooked and straight noses. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science Languages are never static, and words change their meaning; sometimes they come to mean the opposite of what they originally did. People now use literally to mean metaphorically,Continue reading “On discrimination”

On education

When Scythrop grew up, he was sent, as usual, to a public school, where a little learning was painfully beaten into him, and from thence to the university, where it was carefully taken out of him. thomas Love Peacock, Nightmare Abbey All human societies produce children in much the same way; education, in the broadestContinue reading “On education”

On time, its uses and abuses

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Only the Maya can claim to have been half as obsessed with time as our industrial civilisation is, and even they only went as far as devising a calendar so accurate it is said to be used by NASA. (ThisContinue reading “On time, its uses and abuses”

On quantification

Counting is the religion of this generation. It is its hope and its salvation. Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography Industrial civilisation is in love with numbers. We have numbers on pretty much everything that can be quantified, and some things that arguably can’t. When someone wishes to assert incontrovertibly that X is the case, the magicContinue reading “On quantification”

On human exceptionalism

Modern man does not experience himself as a part of nature but as an outside force destined to dominate and conquer it. He even talks of a battle with nature, forgetting that, if he won the battle, he would find himself on the losing side. E F Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if PeopleContinue reading “On human exceptionalism”