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”

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”

Book review: Overshoot

Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change by William R. Catton Jr., University of Illinois Press (1982), ISBN: 0-252-00988-6 / 978-0-252-00988-4 I believe it was Mark Twain who defined a classic as a book that nobody wants to read but everyone wants to have read. This is a book that everyone ought to have readContinue reading “Book review: Overshoot”

On trust

Love all, trust a few, / Do wrong to none. William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well, I.1 Among the many crises that beset the modern world is a crisis of trust, or so we are told. People are losing their trust in the institutions of government, in corporations, even in the pronouncements of scientists.Continue reading “On trust”

On the perils of accountancy

Many of our psychologists, sociologists, economists and other latter-day cabalists will have numbers to tell them the truth or they will have nothing. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business When I graduated from university, back in the 1980s when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, there used toContinue reading “On the perils of accountancy”

On economists

Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. Kenneth Boulding (attr.) What on earth is “the economy”? It is a term much bandied about. Its study is an academic heavy industry, and its exponents are listened to with great reverence, but what isContinue reading “On economists”