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”

On the end of a chapter

I know nothing stays the sameBut if you’re willing to play the gameIt’s coming around again Carly sIMON, cOMING aROUND aGAIN Unless you have been living under a rock, and goodness knows I do my best to do so, you will have heard of the recent demise of Queen Elizabeth II. Or, if you’re Scottish,Continue reading “On the end of a chapter”

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 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 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”