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 population

Malthus has been buried many times, and Malthusian scarcity with him. But as Garrett Hardin remarked, anyone who has to be reburied so often cannot be entirely dead. Herman E. Daly, Steady-State Economics: The Economics of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth (1991) There are several canned responses that always seem to come up whenever theContinue reading “On population”

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 markets and competition

The free market is a myth. Everybody knows that. Just very few people say it. If you’re in the position like I am and do business all over the world, and if I’m not smart enough to know there’s no free market, I ought to be fired. The reason we don’t call it socialism isContinue reading “On markets and competition”

On supply-chains

Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains. Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto Until quite recently, many people lived their lives in blissful ignorance of supply-chains. Unless you happened to work in logistics, you would just order stuff and it would magically arrive. There would be thingsContinue reading “On supply-chains”

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 rationality

Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal. Anatole France As a culture, we are unusually fond of rationality. I blame the ancient Greeks. Economists are very keen to stress how rational everyone is, all of the time, and yet this fliesContinue reading “On rationality”

On being a modern employee

Live the behaviours! An actual manager at my step-daughter’s workplace Before the media became obsessed with how evil Vladimir Putin is, there was a fair bit of hot air given to the phenomenon known as the Great Resignation. This is not, as one might suppose, some sort of renaissance of Stoicism in which large numbersContinue reading “On being a modern employee”

Book review: Guns, Germs and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (Vintage, 1998), ISBN: 978-0099302780 I want to approach this book by means of its subtitle. Specifically, I want to contrast its subtitle with that of another classic text. This may seem perverse, but bear with me. The subtitle of this book is –Continue reading “Book review: Guns, Germs and Steel”