Why Optimism Makes People Angry

Why does optimism make people angry? If you even mention the word in mixed company, not only do you get ridiculed and treated as though you are a little simple, it actually makes people angry. At you. But why is this? As a natural pessimist (I am terrible cynic) I have a few ideas. Pessimism, … Continue reading Why Optimism Makes People Angry

Consider the Lobster (and Friends)

“…a peculiarly American loneliness: the prospect of dying without having once loved something more than yourself" ~ David Foster Wallace Sex and loneliness (and how porn may, indeed, be more human than Hollywood after all). How masculinity is falling out of fashion. Critical culture wars over words (and how he who controls the dictionary controls … Continue reading Consider the Lobster (and Friends)

The Ordeal of Change

A couple of quotes from the ever-quotable Erick Hoffer's The Ordeal of Change (which is really more of a list of life advice than a "book" per say: “One cannot escape the impression that the intellectual’s most fundamental incompatibility is with the masses. He has managed to thrive in social orders dominated by kings, nobles, … Continue reading The Ordeal of Change

2021 a Year in Books

What I read in 2021, the comprehensive list. How to read this list: *  = Recommend** = Really recommendNC = No comment (or, really, do not bother)RR = Re-readF = FictionNF = Non-fictionP = Plays No, I won't be posting purchase links, I suggest you purchase a copy of whatever sounds interesting from your favourite local second … Continue reading 2021 a Year in Books

The Future Starts Now

Yes, this is technically my own book - but I only wrote one of the 20 essays, so I am really more of a reader than a writer here too. Agency is a tricky thing. The less we use it, the more we lose it. The more we give up and outsource our responsibilities, the … Continue reading The Future Starts Now

Cultural Amnesia

"But in Rome, the consuls, the Senate, the knights, rushed headlong into servitude" ~ Tacitus What an utterly extraordinary book. There are not many people who made me feel badly read - Clive James is one of them. Clive James's Cultural Amnesia is an incredible, rich, well researched provocative book. It is a collection of … Continue reading Cultural Amnesia

The Beginning of Infinity

David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity is such an important book. For a start it's unashamedly optimistic (which is heretical these days). Indeed, it defends optimism as not only being rational (after all, if we project the likelihood of tomorrows's problems with today;'s technology and understanding, we are bound to err on the side of … Continue reading The Beginning of Infinity

On the Foolishness of the Wise

“Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully. "Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever." "And he has Brain." "Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain." There was a long silence. "I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything.” ~ Benjamin Hoff The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff is a wonderful, whimsical, entertaining little book on the principles of enlightenment - with plenty of … Continue reading On the Foolishness of the Wise

The prince

The Prince

"The effective leader understands that politics is as much about image as it is substance and acts accordingly." With all the Machiavellian power-grabbing going on by governments around the world at the moment in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it seems like as good a time as ever to review the old bible of … Continue reading The Prince

money history and future

Money (the unauthorised biography)

"Everyone except an economist knows what 'money' means, and even an economist can describe it in at the course of a chapter or so..." ~ A.H. Quiggin Best chased (in my opinion) with a little eurodollar crash course (like this) Money, The Unauthorised Biography is one of the better efforts in the genre of "attempting … Continue reading Money (the unauthorised biography)