Wednesday 20 July, 2022

Our world today

Actually, our world as it was on Sunday 17th.

And the implication? We aren’t going to make it to 2050 without catastrophic collapse. The graphic comes from a sobering essay by Umair Haque, who’s never been a barrel of laughs. But I fear he’s right about this.

What’s the brutal truth I’m trying to get to? It goes like this. We’re not going to make it to 2050. Not even close to that far.

By “make it,” I don’t mean…some kind of dumb Marvel Movie. We’re all going to die tomorrow! Nope. I mean “Civilization as we know it.” I mean that things are going to collapse much, much faster and harder than we think. Isn’t that already the case? That’s the trend which every clear thinking person should understand very, very intently right about now.

Take a hard look at right now. Do you really think our civilization’s going to survive another three decades of this? Skyrocketing inflation, growing shortages, runaway temperatures, killing heat, failing harvests, shattered systems, continents on fire, masses turning to lunacy and theocracy and fascism as a result?

Seriously? Another three decades? Where every summer is that much worse than this one?

It’s eerie watching what’s going on against this background. The currently-governing UK Tory party is having a ‘leadership’ contest in which nobody is talking about this, just about who will cut taxes the most. And over in the US on Thursday, a single Senator from a smallish state who represents the coal industry, torched the bi-partisan Climate Bill.

I’ve thought for years that we need a theory of incompetent systems — ones that can’t fix themselves. We’ve got two such systems already: our global heating system; and US democracy.

Quote of the Day

”Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.”

  • Ambrose Bierce

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Schubert | Impromptu Op 90 No 3 D 899 G flat major | Alfred Brendel


What I turned to for solace after reading the Haque essay above.

Long Read of the Day

On Tossing the Canon in a Cannon

An interesting essay by Marie Snyder on the challenges of teaching an ‘Introduction to Philosophy’ course to the Instagram generation. A few students of her students this year were adamant that she shouldn’t be getting them to read philosophers who are sexist or racist or homophobic.

The problem is that that’s almost all of them!

There is, however, some benefit to tracing the dominant ideology to its origins, as has been tackled in book form by Hannah Arendt and Charles Taylor, so that we can better chip away at the foundation. It can be useful to see what spawned exploitation, to see how long we’ve been thinking this way and how slowly our understanding of the world has changed as necessary words to the contrary were finally heard. We can infiltrate the enemy to deconstruct the arguments. But that shouldn’t be the entirety of an intro course.

We further benefit from controversial ideas in order to test the limits of our own thought-process by disputing them, either on our own or in discussions. We’ll have a limited knowledge, a dangerous naivety, if we only read what’s agreeable to us. I introduce some of Peter Singer’s controversial ideas, provoking them to find problems with the logic without leaning on amassing criticisms from social media, an unfortunate skill they’re developing outside of school even though unpopular opinions are not necessarily wrong. In my class, they have to look at problems with the position, specifically, premise by premise. Learning that bit of artistry is vital to counter the effects of wayward Instagram or Reddit threads; just imagine if it were mandatory!

Worth reading for the way it navigates through treacherous waters. Her’s is a dilemma I wouldn’t like to have.

My commonplace booklet

”I love programming but hate the industry. Can anyone relate?”. An interesting thread on Hacker News which, I guess, will resonate with many programmers working in the tech industry.

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