On the approach of winter

For the night is dark and full of terrors. George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings I often use this blog to point out the turning-points of the cycle of the year. Here in the northern hemisphere, we are approaching the autumn equinox, the point when the nights start to be longer than the daysContinue reading “On the approach of winter”

On processed food

“Eating is an agricultural act,” as Wendell Berry famously said. It is also an ecological act, and a political act, too. Though much has been done to obscure this simple fact, how and what we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world – and what is to become ofContinue reading “On processed food”

On taking the first step

Houston, we have a problem. Jim Lovell (attr.) It is a truism, although nonetheless true, that the first step towards dealing with a problem is acknowledging that it exists. We know this because a very large fraction of adults in the industrialised world are either in an addiction programme of some sort, have been inContinue reading “On taking the first step”

On greatness

Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that generation. Let greatness blossom. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela “I think continually,” the poet Stephen Spender wrote, “of those who were truly great.” Personally I often find myself thinking of something else, but there are certainly people, living and dead, who I would considerContinue reading “On greatness”

On denial

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed Everybody knows that the war is over Everybody knows the good guys lost Everybody knows the fight was fixed The poor stay poor, the rich get rich That’s how it goes Everybody knows Leonard Cohen, “Everybody knows” There is rarely much pointContinue reading “On denial”

On spring

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of civilisational collapse. Alfred Lord Tennyson (slightly amended) As I write these words, it’s the Spring Equinox up here in the northern hemisphere. From today onwards, the days will be longer than the nights. The clocks will be going forward. The birds are singing,Continue reading “On spring”

On careers

Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago There’s an interesting sentence in Robert Heinlein’s classic SF novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress where he describes the attitudes of the typical (mostlyContinue reading “On careers”

On bargaining

However healthy you think you are, remember that vegetarians die too. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss It is not a coincidence that I begin this week’s post with a quotation from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Her work on dying and on the grieving process isContinue reading “On bargaining”

On beginnings

VLADIMIR: It’s the start that’s difficult. ESTRAGON: You can start from anything. VLADIMIR: Yes, but you have to decide. ESTRAGON: True. Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot So here we are in 2022, and – if you’re anything like me – looking forward to it with some apprehension. But there’s no denying that a new yearContinue reading “On beginnings”