On being overwhelmed

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. Wilkins Micawber in Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist This is where we are: we have a wide range of urgent problems which all need to be solved, and the resources toContinue reading “On being overwhelmed”

On death

Tʜᴇʀᴇ’ꜱ ɴᴏ ᴊᴜꜱᴛɪᴄᴇ, ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ’ꜱ ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ᴍᴇ. – Death, in Terry Pratchett, Mort Death has become rather topical these days, what with the pandemic. At the time of writing, it’s difficult to assess the actual level of excess mortality globally, given the paucity of data and the variability from country to country in such data asContinue reading “On death”

On the collapse of civilisation

We’re doomed! – Private Frazer There is much talk on the interwebs about the imminent fall of civilisation. There’s an entire subreddit devoted to it, whose membership has increased dramatically over the last twelve months, not that I would necessarily recommend it. I’d like to spend this week’s post unpacking this idea of civilisational collapseContinue reading “On the collapse of civilisation”

On the Covid-19 pandemic

As I write this, England – which is the bit of the UK I happen to inhabit – is about to enter a second lockdown, prompted by the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It’s been an interesting experience, this pandemic. Of course we’ve had plenty of them before – many originating as this one didContinue reading “On the Covid-19 pandemic”

On technology

Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal. – Albert Einstein The word technology covers a vast array of things, from movable type to firearms, the internal combustion engine, steam power, the wheel, the transistor, powered flight, anaesthetics, symbolic logic, the lever, nuclear energy, digital computers and windmills. It is,Continue reading “On technology”

On industrialism

The Industrial Revolution was another one of those extraordinary jumps forward in the story of civilization. – Stephen Gardiner The Industrial Revolution, considered as the onset of industrialism, powered initially by water and then by steam, is usually represented as having been a Good Thing. A lot of people didn’t see it that way atContinue reading “On industrialism”

On fear

No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. – Edmund Burke I don’t know about you, but I’m quite scared a lot of the time. I’m talking lying-awake-at-night scared. There seems to be a lot of it about at the moment. People fear the unknown. InContinue reading “On fear”