On knowing your place

Home’s where you go when you run out of homes. John le CarrĂ©, The Honourable Schoolboy In British usage, at least, telling someone they should know their place is (or used to be) a rebuke. It meant knowing their place in the class hierarchy – with the not very subtle subtext that their place wasContinue reading “On knowing your place”

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 death and rebirth

Nothing can dwindle to nothing, as Nature restores one thing from the stuff of another, nor does she allow a birth, without a corresponding death. Titus Lucretius Carus, De Rerum Natura, Book I. Regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to write a post at each of the four quarters of theContinue reading “On death and rebirth”

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 the Day of the Dead

Life is wasted on the living. Douglas Adams, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the \Galaxy This post appears on the first of November: All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows (hence Hallowe’en for the previous evening). In Celtic tradition it is Samhain, the mid-point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. In Latin countriesContinue reading “On the Day of the Dead”

On sanity

Mens sana in corpore sano.(A healthy mind in a healthy body.) Juvenal, Satires, X You need to be quite careful when quoting Roman satirists. My old school, for instance, had a motto taken from the poet Martial: “Quas dederis solas semper habebis opes” – “Only those riches you have given [to others] will be yoursContinue reading “On sanity”