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”

On endings

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away. Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man In the northern hemisphere, where I happen to live, today is the shortest day of the year: midwinter, a time of customary celebration – Christian or otherwise – when people gather together around a fire, feastContinue reading “On endings”

On craziness

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Jiddu Krishnamurti Many people would agree that we live in crazy times. But I think there’s some value in trying to distinguish between the various kinds of crazy we are seeing, if only to keep ourselves (comparatively) sane. Some ofContinue reading “On craziness”

On the failure of political leadership

Everyone stay calm! This is not happening! King Arnulf in Erik the Viking by Terry Jones Anyone who has been paying the slightest attention to current events in, say, the last couple of years will be aware of at least one crisis besetting the industrial world. We have, of course, had the Covid-19 pandemic, whichContinue reading “On the failure of political leadership”

On the latest IPCC report

The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years. IPPC AR6 WG1 Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers I don’t propose to go into the ins and outs of theContinue reading “On the latest IPCC report”