Friday, 28 January 2022

"Broken supply-chains..."

"Broken supply-chains are the story of the moment but what I find truly remarkable is that virtually no one any longer understands that it is the price system, and the price system alone that allows the supply-chain to operate.... [to bring] food to your table, along with everything else. It is the price mechanism that makes the capitalist system indispensable. That this is not common knowledge makes our way of life vulnerable to being driven into the sand ..."
~ Steven Kates, from his post 'The price mechanism is the single most important element of the market economy'

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Omicron: "’s misleading to quote a number that’s twice as soon and an order of magnitude higher."

"Radio NZ has a headline 'Omicron: Modelling Suggests NZ Could Face Peak of 80,000 Daily Infections,' and the report starts 'New Zealand could be facing 50,000 daily Omicron infections by Waitangi weekend.' This is technically correct, but in this context that is not the best kind of correct.
    "First, this is a model for infections, not cases. It includes asymptomatic infections (which are definitely a thing) and infections that just don’t get reported. The modelled peak for cases is a couple of weeks later, and about a factor of 7 lower. So 50,000 daily infections by Waitangi weekend, peaking at 80,000 a few weeks later means 425 daily cases by Waitangi weekend, peaking around 11,000 daily cases by late March, if we believe the model. Given that we have been seeing reporting of cases, not infections, for the past two years, it’s misleading to quote a number that’s twice as soon and an order of magnitude higher."

          ~ Thomas Lumley, from his posts 'How Many Omicrons?'


"Some books are to be tasted; others swallowed; and some few to be chewed and digested." 
          ~ Francis Bacon (1561-1626), from his essay 'Of Studie'

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

The Simple Life

We often hear, or surmise, that life was simpler "way back when." Not so, say Don Boudreaux in this Guest Post -- simply put, if you’re reading these words, then your way of life now is the simplest that humans have ever lived.

Recently I watched a nature show on TV about Zanzibar. The narrator described the humans who first arrived on that Indian Ocean archipelago 20,000 years ago as having lived “a simple life” – a simplicity of life that persists to this day for some Zanzibarians.

At one point in the show viewers saw film of two young Zanzibarian men paddle a wooden canoe out to sea, where they threw a fishing net into the water. These fishermen later hauled up a nice catch of fish. Just before journeying into the water, these young men were confident they’d net a good catch because, after gazing for some time from shore out into the ocean, they finally spotted a whale shark – a good indication that lots of fish are in the vicinity.

As I watched these young men paddle out into the water, haul in their nets, and paddle back to shore, I said to myself: “Simple?! Those two guys endure much more difficulty and complexity getting fish than I do.”

And I’m unquestionably correct. When I want fish for dinner – which I often do – I drive at my leisure to a restaurant and order fish. I arrive at the restaurant safely and in comfort, and my meal quickly appears on my table already filleted, seasoned, and cooked. Alternatively, I sometimes walk a few steps to a nearby supermarket and buy some fish, fresh or frozen (or already cooked) as I please.

Getting fish is much simpler for me and other denizens of modernity than it was for our pre-modern ancestors and for those persons today who still haven’t had the benefits of modernity.

Of course, what’s true for fish is true for nearly every aspect of life. Despite incessant contrary claims, life for us humans has never been simpler than it is today. It is us, not our long-ago ancestors, who live “a simple life.”

Imagine what life was like, say, for a typical New England farm family a mere 200 years ago. Waking up on a frigid winter morning, a fire had to be started in the fireplace. This task was done in an as-yet-unheated home because, well, the fire had yet to be started. The home had no thermostat-controlled HVAC unit. And the person starting the fire had no automatic lighter – or even safety matches – to ease the task of igniting a flame. Nor was there available any easy-to-light artificial logs.

The kitchen stove, too, had to be lit – and, also like the fireplace, kept lit – manually.

Without indoor plumbing, running water, and antibacterial soap, relieving oneself was more onerous, more unpleasant, and less hygienic than is the corresponding routine today. The cows had to be milked – a task, I confidently guess, that was not remotely “simple” during the pre-dawn hours in sub-zero temperatures. And it’s certainly never as simple as going to the supermarket to purchase milk.

Transforming a live animal into meat for the table was also not “simple” back then – at least not compared to the manner in which nearly all of us today get meat for our tables. I’m willing to believe that, were I to slaughter my own cattle, pigs, and chickens, the resulting meats would be tastier than the beef, pork, and chicken that I buy at restaurants and supermarkets. But I’m unwilling to believe that the improvement in taste would be great enough to compensate for the magnitudes-greater difficulty I’d endure to get meat in the old-fashioned way.

What about bathing? Two centuries ago in rural America, bath water had to be heated over an open flame before being poured into a tub. (Forget showering.) Bathing was far less simple back then than it is today.

Want to visit Uncle Josiah who lives 180 miles away in Providence? You can’t travel faster than a horse if you’re going by land, which you likely are. Making that journey back then was, by the standards of today, anything but simple. Nor was it comfortable.

If anthropologists today are in search of that group of human beings who lived the simplest lives in history, they merely need look at themselves and their neighbors.

Most of us today awaken and spend all of our time indoors in homes and facilities kept toasty warm in winter, and pleasantly cool in summer, by automatic-powered HVAC systems or other modern appliances. To get food – from literally around the world – we simply go to the supermarket and to restaurants. Sometimes we go to farmers’ markets – itself made simple by our and the farmers’ use of automobiles, paved roads, and refrigeration, and by the fact that many of the farmers today accept as payment credit cards.

Compared to our ancestors, we today have a much simpler time communicating with people out of earshot. Indeed, for most of our ancestors, such communication in real time was impossible – the polar opposite of “simple.” And it’s much simpler for us today to entertain ourselves, what with television, satellite radio, streaming videos and music, overnight delivery of books and board games to our doorsteps, smartphones, laptops, YouTube, and the Internet.

How much simpler is it today to summon urban or suburban transportation by using Uber or Lyft apps instead of hailing or calling taxicabs? Answer: much.

Or consider the cleaning of clothes. We simply toss our dirty laundry, along with dashes of detergent, into electricity-powered machines that do nearly all the work for us. Easy-peasy.

How about banking? We simply have those payments that are due to us deposited electronically into our accounts, and we then submit what we owe through various electronic means of payment. Bye-bye to the ‘complex’ dance of going to banks physically, and to writing and mailing paper checks.

My 24-year-old son not long ago told me, off-handedly, that he used DoorDash to order a package of paper towels that were delivered within 20 minutes to his doorstep. He saved himself the complex chore of personally driving to a supermarket to fetch and buy the towels. When my son isn’t in the mood to cook, or to leave his apartment, he simply orders pizza to be delivered, piping hot, directly to him.

The advance of modernity can be described very accurately as the march toward ever more simplicity. Compared to the lives of our pre-industrial ancestors – and, in fact, compared even to the lives of our literal grandparents – each of our lives today is simple beyond the imagination of those who lived a few generations or more ago. Compared to in the past, feeding ourselves is much simpler – as is hydrating ourselves, clothing ourselves, housing ourselves, cleansing ourselves, curing ourselves of illnesses and injuries, keeping ourselves comfortable and safe and informed and amused, and transporting ourselves hither and yon.

Simply put, if you’re reading these words, your way of life is the simplest that humans have ever lived.

* * * * 

Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow with American Institute for Economic Research and with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; a Mercatus Center Board Member; and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. He is the author of the books The Essential Hayek, GlobalizationHypocrites and Half-Wits, and his articles appear in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York TimesUS News & World Report as well as numerous scholarly journals. He writes a blog called Cafe Hayek and a regular column on economics for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Boudreaux earned a PhD in economics from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.
This post first appeared at AIER.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

"...New Zealand, a nation whose science is circling the drain"

"The deep-sixing of modern science in NZ is pretty much a done deal, as the Ardern government has decided that the initial treaty between the “Crown” (settlers) and the Māori—embodied in the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi (known in Māori as “Te Tiriti”) should be interpreted as meaning that Māori should ultimately get not just equity (since they’re a minority of Kiwis), but extra equity: half of the money and half of the power....
    "This just won’t do, as times have moved on. Matauranga Māori ["a way of knowing"] rarely changes, and most of it cannot be falsified, while science steams its way forward. This is not to say that Māori shouldn’t have more power than they do already (I can’t speak to that), but that the government of New Zealand apparently is so ridden with guilt that it’s ready to hand over its science and its universities—not to mention its dosh—to Māori or to anybody who claims Māori descent....
    "While the University of Auckland touts how wonderful it is and how much of a world-class research institute it will be, it and the NZ government is simultaneously ensuring that the research quality and reputation of the entire country will go into the dumper. And it’s largely done out of guilt, for equity alone simply cannot justify these actions...."

~ evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, from his post 'More from New Zealand, a nation whose science is circling the drain'


Monday, 24 January 2022

"That the central banks were totally surprised by today’s inflation indicates a fundamental failure. Surely, some institutional soul searching is called for...."

"The obvious question to ask first is how the Fed [and the local Reserve Bank] blew its main mandate, which is to ensure price stability. That the Fed [and the Reserve Bank] was totally surprised by today’s inflation indicates a fundamental failure. Surely, some institutional soul searching is called for....
    "America [and the world] is awash in debt. Everyone assumes that taxpayers will take on losses in the next downturn. Student loans, government pensions, and mortgages have piled up, all waiting their turn for Uncle Sam’s bailout. But each crisis requires larger and larger transfusions. Bond investors eventually will refuse to hand over more wealth for bailouts, and people will not want to hold trillions in newly printed cash. When the bailout that everyone expects fails to materialise, we will wake up in a town on fire – and the firehouse has burned down.
    "In 2008, regulators and legislators at least had the sense to recognize moral hazard, and to worry that investors gain in good times while taxpayers cover losses in bad times. But the 2020 blowout has been greeted only with self-congratulation.
    "The same Fed [and Reserve Bank] that missed the subprime-mortgage risks in 2008, the pandemic in 2020, and that now wishes to stress-test 'climate risks,' will surely miss the next war, pandemic, sovereign default, or other major disruptive event. Fed regulators aren’t even asking the latter questions. And while they issue word salads about 'interconnections,' 'strategic interactions,' 'network effects,' and 'credit cycles,' they still have not defined what 'systemic' risk even is, other than a catch-all term to grant regulators all-encompassing power.
    "Regulators will never be able to foresee risks, artfully calibrate financial institutions’ assets, or ensure that immense debts can always be paid. We need to reverse the basic premise of a financial system in which the government always guarantees mountains of debt in bad times, and we need to do it before the firehouse is put to the test."

          ~ John Cochrane, from his post 'Accounting for the Blowout'

Sunday, 23 January 2022

"An individualist is a man who says: 'I will not run anyone’s life—nor let anyone run mine'."

"Do not make the mistake of the ignorant who think that an individualist is a man who says: 'I’ll do as I please at everybody else’s expense.' An individualist is a man who recognises the inalienable individual rights of man—his own and those of others.
    "An individualist is a man who says: 'I will not run anyone’s life—nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone—nor sacrifice anyone to myself'.”

          ~ Ayn Rand, from her “Textbook of Americanism"

Saturday, 22 January 2022

"It looks like literature is wasting time..."

"It looks like it’s wasting time, but literature is actually the ultimate time-saver — because it gives us access to a range of emotions and events that it would take you years, decades, millennia to try to experience directly. Literature is the greatest reality simulator — a machine that puts you through infinitely more situations than you can ever directly witness."
~ after poet Mary Ruefle, quoted in 'Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World'
[Hat tip Lynn.C.]

Friday, 21 January 2022

From "meaningless phrase" to "a string of 'principles of co-governance'"

Cartoon by Nick Kim, from The Free Radical
"The innocent words 'principles of the Treaty of Waitangi' were included in the State-Owned Enterprises Act only because [David] Lange’s then attorney-general (Geoffrey Palmer) assured the cabinet the phrase was meaningless. Thanks to some judicial musing, this initial phrase became loosely associated with 'partnership.'* About thirty years on, this link was subtly extended to the 'principles of partnership.' Then that meaningless phrase was gradually manipulated into a linkage with co-governance. Now we have He Puapua working on converting that link into a string of 'principles of co-governance'.”
          ~ Barry Brill, from his article 'Does “partnership” mean the same as “marriage”?'

* Cooke P held that "the Treaty created an enduring relationship of a fiduciary nature akin to a partnership, each party accepting a positive duty to act in good faith, fairly, reasonably and honourably towards the other.”

Thursday, 20 January 2022

"A unique aspect of art is that it represents the purpose of what one lives for. It represents the 'point' of life."


"Every civilisation has had artworks, including buildings, that represent that country's values. A unique aspect of art is that it represents the purpose of what one lives for. It represents the 'point' of life. In a similar way, the art* in major art institutions represent the soul of a culture or civilisation...."

~ artist Michael Newberry, from his 2001 article 'Pandoras Box,' written + published immediately after 9/11, and soon to reappear in his forthcoming book Pandora's Box + Other Essays

* Says he, in 2022: "It is obvious that Marcel Duchamp's Urinal is not part of any development by any standard, yet it was unanimously acclaimed as the most influential visual art work of the 20th century. Let that sink in, I'll wait ... "

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

"Is the statement 'We are living in a post-truth world' true? If your answer is 'yes' then the answer is 'no' ..."

"Is the statement 'We are living in a post-truth world' true? If your answer is 'yes' then the answer is 'no' because you’ve just evaluated the statement in an evidentiary manner, so evidence still matters and facts still matter....
    "Anyone who urges universities to live up to their mission of promoting knowledge, truth, and reason is bound to be confronted with the objection that these aspirations are just so 20th century. Aren’t we living in a post-truth era? Haven’t cognitive psychologists shown that humans are fundamentally irrational? Mustn’t we acknowledge that the pursuit of disinterested reason and objective truth are Enlightenment anachronisms?
    "The answer to all of these questions is 'no'.”

~ Steven Pinker, from his article 'Why We Are Not Living in a Post‑Truth Era: An (Unnecessary) Defense of Reason and a (Necessary) Defense of Universities’ Role in Advancing it'
[Hat tip Stephen Hicks]

Global warming has saved 500,000 lives in England and Wales in the last 20 years

"Over a 20-year period the estimated change in deaths associated with warm or cold temperature was a net decrease of 555,103, an average of 27,755 deaths per year (Table 1). A decrease in deaths from outcomes associated with cold temperature greatly outnumbers deaths associated with warm temperature."
~ UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) from their report 'Climate-related mortality and hospital admissions, England and Wales: 2001 to 2020'

[Hat tip NetZeroWatch]

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

'The Government Science-Agency Oxymoron'


"If the Covid policy crisis has done anything, it is to make clear that 'government scientific agency' is as much of an oxymoron as military intelligence, jumbo shrimp, or Marxist economist. Government bureaucracies cannot 'do' science because their incentives are all wrong. Science flourishes only in a competitive environment."
          ~ Robert E. Wright, in 'The Government Science-Agency Oxymoron'

Monday, 17 January 2022

Trader v Warrior ...

"You might be a millionaire industrialist but find yourself shunned by the 'haut ton' on account of having made your money through trade. Strange as it may seem, it is socially acceptable to have inherited your wealth from knights who slaughtered people in the Middle Ages but not to have made it yourself by manufacturing useful things that improve people’s lives." 
[Hat tip HumanProgress]


Saturday, 15 January 2022

"The Great Awokening has not crowded out Millennial Socialism. It has absorbed it...."

"It is a commonly-held view that ‘socialism vs capitalism’ was yesteryear’s divide, while ‘woke vs unwoke’ is where the action is now: pronouns are the new tax rates, and cancellation is the new nationalisation.
    "The problem with this argument is that it is only true on one side of that divide, namely, the ‘un-woke’ or ‘anti-woke’ side. The opponents of Wokeness do indeed tend to get far more animated about the latest Culture War shenanigans than by the latest economic policy announcements. They also find it easy to form loose coalitions over a shared cultural outlook with people with whom they disagree on economic issues. (For example, a left-wing critic of Cancel Culture can easily get a piece published in a [so-called] centre-right publication.)
    "But it would be a huge mistake to assume that something similar must be true on the other side of that divide, i.e. that on the progressive Left, woke identity politics has somehow crowded out socialist economics. Quite the opposite is true. It is hard to think of a prominent woke culture warrior who is not also a committed anti-capitalist.
    "The Great Awokening has not crowded out Millennial Socialism. It has absorbed it.... Thus, the Culture War is by no means ‘beyond economics’. Instead, economics has become a major front in the Culture War."

[Hat tip Samizdata]

Friday, 14 January 2022

"'The science is clear: the vaccines work.'..."

"'The science is clear: the [coronavirus] vaccines work.'... Yes, the fully-vaccinated can still end up in hospital. In fact there are more vaccinated than unvaccinated people in hospital. But the important numbers are shown in the rates: The unvaccinated are 6.93 times more likely to be hospitalised and 17.5 times more likely to be admitted to ICU."
          ~ Lindsay Mitchell, from her post 'Vaccine Efficacy in NSW'

Thursday, 13 January 2022

How to help keep supermarket prices higher

The ill-named Commerce Commission (whose oxymoronic* job it is to hobble the market so as to somehow make it freer) has been considering how best to hobble supermarkets to (somehow) deliver lower prices. Everything they are considering will do the opposite.

Under present consideration from a commission consultant is a gold-plated proposal to force the two major supermarket owners to "divest" themselves of their stores in any region in which their market share exceeds 27%. 

What would be the effect of such a thing, aside form the loss of market freedom? Simple

banning them from going past some market share threshold tells them, when at the threshold, to stop competing. That doesn't seem like any kind of good idea. 

The Commerce Commission is full of such non-good ideas, as are the consultants they favour -- most of like men with a hammer looking for a nail on which to use it, while blind to the fact that nails are not even needed (and are anti-productive). Not that they care. They're mighty happy trying to work out how best to build bigger regulatory barriers so that the two major supermarket owners will be coerced into lowering their prices; they don't want to be told that the real solution would be to remove all the barriers to new entrants so that there are more than two major supermarket owners.

But that might do some of the hammer-throwers out of their make-believe jobs.

* The Commerce Commission clearly has zero problem with the concentration of power represented by  govt departments like itself, only that the productive might have it  instead of themselves. 

"The country is splitting into dozens of blind, deaf, but screaming camps, each drawn together not by loyalty to an idea, but by the accident of race, age, sex, religious creed, or the frantic whim of a given moment—not by values held in common, but by a common hatred of some other group...."

"The country is splitting into dozens of blind, deaf, but screaming camps, each drawn together not by loyalty to an idea [nor to any principle], but by the accident of race, age, sex, religious creed, or the frantic whim of a given moment—not by values held in common, but by a common hatred of some other group....
    "When men abandon principles (i.e., their conceptual faculty), two of the major results are: individually, the inability to project the future; socially, the impossibility of communication.... A shrunken, range-of-the- moment mentality sees other men as the immediate cause of its troubles; it can see no further; forcing its demands on others is the only answer it can grasp.... 
    "What [people] need above all is the clarifying, reassuring, confidence-and- credibility-inspiring guidance of fundamental principles.... What they would regain is the power to understand, to consider, to judge—and to communicate with one another. What they would lose is the sense of suffocating in a smog of impotent bewilderment."
          ~ Ayn Rand, from her 1971 article 'Credibility + Polarisation'

[Hat tip Ayn Rand Institute Annual Report

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

"Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't" -- or won't ...


"Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't; the other half have nothing to say and keep on saying it."
          ~ attrib. Robert Frost

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

"There has been considerable debate around the intersection of NCEA, mātauranga Māori, and science. But it is the wrong debate...."

"There has been considerable debate around the intersection of NCEA, mātauranga Māori, and science. But it is the wrong debate....
    "Like many of the significant shifts we have seen in education and NCEA over the last few decades, the current debate is underpinned by slogans and little if any evidence....
    "First, there should be no doubt that our national teaching of science, technology and mathematics (henceforth just “science”) delivers cruel results.
    "In 2018-19 our 13-year-olds scored their worst-ever results in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (60 countries); and 15-year-olds had their worst-ever Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results in reading, mathematics and science (about 90 countries)....
    "We have been in both relative and absolute decline for more than 20 years. The economic costs to the nation and the impact on individuals of this are truly appalling. Read An empirical portrait of New Zealand adults living with low literacy and numeracy skills, by an AUT study group, and then weep – I did....

"But ... the relative performance of Māori and Pasifika peoples in science education is a dark stain on our nation, and we simply must address it.
    "The current slogan for the NCEA changes [requiring the teaching of mātauranga Maori as coequal to science] appears to be, 'Many Māori are disengaged from science because they don’t see their culture reflected in it.'
    "There is no evidence that such a claim has any bearing on education success rates...

"It is ridiculous to assume that students who are from lower socio-economic backgrounds, or who are Māori and Pasifika, are not as smart, or able; it is about opportunity to learn. Our system and its prejudices denies the opportunities to those who might most benefit.
    "Another slogan: 'Elevating the status of mātauranga Māori is not about undermining science. It is about incorporating genuinely useful indigenous knowledge, such as approaches to environmental guardianship, that complements science.'
    "My view is that that is a very generous interpretation of what the NCEA changes actually offer. But more importantly, such tinkering with some NCEA standards is not going to deal with the real problems.
    "Because ultimately, this debate reflects a cynical ploy by the Ministry of Education, pretending to address the seriously inequitable outcomes of our system. The real issues are very hard and there is no quick fix."

~ Gaven Martin, matfermatics professor at Massey University, from his op-ed 'We are having the wrong debate over how we teach science'

[Hat tip Jerry Coyne, from his post 'What's Going On in New Zealand? Three Easy Pieces.' Also worth reading is his thoughtful follow-up: 'Is Learning Through Trial and Error 'Science'?'

Monday, 10 January 2022

Sidney Poitier (1927 - 2022) [updated]


One of my heroes has just died, at the age of 94. In every role he played, actor Sidney Poitier was the very model of dignity, intelligence and resolve. And he invariably had a twinkle in his eye too. 

If you haven't before, I strongly recommend you catch up with my three favourites of all his films:

  1. In the Heat of the Night
  2. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and
  3. Raisin in the Sun.

It's literally true to say that they don't make them like this anymore. Neither the films, nor the man.


Sidney Poitier on the press's reductive focus on his 'blackness' [hat tip @FreeBlackThought]: 
"You ask me one-dimensional questions about...the Negro-ness of my life. I am artist, man, American, contemporary. I am an awful lot of things, so I wish you would pay me the respect due."
"Why is it that you guys are hounds for bad news? At this moment, you could ask me many questions about many positive & wonderful things that are happening in this country. But we gather here to pay court to sensationalism... to negativism."

Julie Burchill on 'The Beauty and Importance of Sidney Poitier':

As Martin Scorsese put it, ‘He had a vocal precision and physical power and grace that at moments seemed almost supernatural’....

He played men of science and of academia and of action. Virgil Tibbs, from In the Heat of the Night, was a detective and expert in forensic deduction who insisted on being called Mr Tibbs. In To Sir, With Love, Poitier tells his delinquent, mainly white, teenage pupils, ‘You will show respect to me and each other at all times. You will address me as “Sir” or “Mr Thackeray”. Boys will be addressed by their last names; the girls will be likewise addressed, and as “Miss”.’ ...

Poitier was a man of immense self-possession... At a time when the segregation and fetishisation of race is being pushed as a radical act, we have lost a shining example of the fact that the colour of our skin is one of the least interesting aspects of our fascinating humanity.


"Is it an oxymoron to say that suffering can make us… happy?"

"Are you a fan of spicy food? Horror movies? Super hot baths? If so, why? Is it an oxymoron to say that suffering can make us… happy? In these trite instances, it might not seem so radical, but psychologist Paul Bloom argues an even grander point ... [that] suffering might do us good.
    "So why do we do things that are unpleasant and/or hard? 'We’re motivational pluralists,' argues Bloom".... Whether in the short or long-term, (i.e., hot sauce versus parenting), Bloom suggests suffering is a necessary part of living a meaningful life, as opposed to a merely pleasure-filled life....
    "Apropos of the title of Bloom’s book, where’s the sweet spot? Bloom suggests it’s a curse to have too much or too little anxiety."

~ Amy Willis, summarising Russ Roberts' podcast interview with author Paul Bloom exploring just how much - and how often - 'suffering' might do us good

Friday, 7 January 2022

"... sustained thinking."

"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking."
          ~ Voltaire
[Hat tip Jean Moroney]

Thursday, 6 January 2022

"All humans are somewhat nutty because they refuse pigheadedly to accept reality and, therefore, make themselves depressed, anxious, and enraged.

"I think that practically the whole human race is out of its goddamed mind and could use therapy. All of them, not equally so, are crazy. Males and females are biologically prone to think crookedly. They don't get it from their mothers, or [the latest political cause celebre]. They think crookedly because they are easily prone to do so. All humans are somewhat nutty because they refuse pigheadedly to accept reality and, therefore, make themselves depressed, anxious, and enraged.
    "Because they won’t accept the reality that things should be exactly the way they are right now because that’s the way they are. (Now, I'm not saying it's good that they're that way, it's bad, often quite crummy. So it's crummy. But that's the way it is)....
    "But if you’re pretty crazy then you’re in very good company, because the human race as a whole is really out of its goddam head. Now all of you, of course, know this about others – about your mother and father and sister and brothers and friends and wives and husbands. You know how nutty they are. Now the problem is to get you to admit this about yourself and then to do something about it."
~ Albert Ellis, quoted in Michael Bernard's book Staying Rational in an Irrational World

Tuesday, 4 January 2022



"Luxury isn't owning Rolls Royces, or having the royal suite on the Olympic, but not having to do something you don't much want to do." 

~ novelist Josephine Tey, quoted in her biography

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Summer reading

Last week a friend was metaphorically assaulting me for not posting my regular pic of my pile of summer reading. "Fear not!" I played for time, explaining that everything this year takes much longer...

So what are you planning to read over these long summer days of holiday hell?

Read old books: "Every age has its own outlook."

"It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook."
          ~ C.S. Lewis, from his introduction to Athanasius’s On the Incarnation


Wednesday, 22 December 2021

The concept of 'force' is widely misused and misunderstood today....

"The concept of 'force' ... is widely misused today....
    "Physical force is coercion exercised by physical agency, such as, among many other examples, by punching a man in the face, incarcerating him, shooting him, or seizing his property [it is is physical contact with the person or property of another without his consent and/or the threat of such contact]....
    "There is only one way to attempt to force a man s mind: by directing the force to his body (or property).... A volitional being, left unmolested, is free to initiate a cognitive process. He can struggle to untangle his confusions and replace them ultimately with truth. The only kind of 'social pressure' that cannot be resisted bv intellectual means is the kind that does not rely on intellectual means. If some group, governmental or private, tells a man: 'Either you agree with us or we will clean out your bank account, break your legs, kill you,' then a cognitive process on his part is ineffective; no such process avails in counteracting the threat. This, this category of threat or harm—physical force and nothing else—is what constitutes coercion. This is what sweeps into the discard the victim’s mind....
    "Coercion is not coextensive with frustration caused by others. It pertains only to those frustrations that men cause by invoking the methods of brutality...."
          ~ Leonard Peikoff, from his book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand 


Christmas: It's thanks to capitalism

"Thanks to capitalism, there was enough wealth to make gifts possible, a great productive apparatus to advertise them and make them available cheaply, and a country so content that men wanted to reach out to their friends and express their enjoyment of life."
~ philosopher Leonard Peikoff, from his op-ed 'Why Christmas Should Be More Commercial'