On renewable energy

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress I originally wrote this essay a few weeks ago, but it’s now something of a companion piece to last week’s post on false hope, particularly as that relates to nuclear fusion. Because a lot of the falseContinue reading “On renewable energy”

On false hope

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Proverb Well, here we are in 2023, and maybe some of you have been making New Year’s resolutions, and maybe you’re even still sticking to at least some of them. I’ve written before about the dangers of hope, at least when not accompanied by effective action. The mostContinue reading “On false hope”

On the Vast Machine

We are being watched, but who is in charge of the watching? Although some of us freely offer up our private lives to the Vast Machine, we have no knowledge of how the information is being used and who is using it. Criminals can duplicate our identities. Corporations can manipulate our spending behavior [sic]. GovernmentsContinue reading “On the Vast Machine”

On education

In George Orwell’s prophetic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the various government ministries are named for the opposite of what they actually do: the Ministry of Peace is responsible for the perpetual state of war, the Ministry of Plenty is in charge of rationing, and so on. (I will admit that I was a little worried inContinue reading “On education”

On free speech

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Benjamin Franklin, On Freedom of Speech and the Press (1737) Let me begin by stating frankly that I am not, personally, at allContinue reading “On free speech”

On amnesia

The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four In my more paranoid moments – and which of us isn’t prey to a few of those nowadays? – I sometimes wonder if there aren’t some peopleContinue reading “On amnesia”

On demagogues

The lovely dullards again and againInspiring their bitter ambitious men. W. H, Auden, “Danse Macabre” Presumably due to some administrative lapse many years ago, I received the education of a gentleman, which included a study of the classical languages. (I suppose some unfortunate gentleman of the same name was sent to a Secondary Modern toContinue reading “On demagogues”

On the spectacularly obvious

We have to shift our attitude of ownership of nature to relationship with nature. The moment you change from ownership to relationship, you create a sense of the sacred. Satish KUmar Well, I try quite hard not to respond to all the examples of head-banging idiocy I see in the press, because life is shortContinue reading “On the spectacularly obvious”

On domestication

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. George Orwell, Animal Farm If you read any history of the beginnings of agriculture – and if you haven’t yet, I recommend that you do; ColinContinue reading “On domestication”

On borders

Nations, like individuals, tell stories in order to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they want to be. National narratives, like personal ones, are prone to sentimentality, grievance, pride, shame, self-blindness. There is never just one—they compete and constantly change. The most durable narratives are not the ones that stand upContinue reading “On borders”