Solon of Athens (via Herodotus) on looking to the end

Solon, the great law-giver of Athens, is visiting Croesus, the rich and poweful King of Lidya. After showing off his wealth, Croesus is disappointed when Solon declares three unknown men of middling rank to be the happiest he’s ever seen. Croesus snapped, “That’s all very well my Athenian friend, but what of my own happiness? Is it so utterly comtemptible…

Worse than this change

Change – especially change that feels beyond our control – is often unsettling. Will things ever be this good again? When people talk about change being the only constant,* it isn’t just change in the world around us and in the culture that we’re talking about: at an individual level, change is written into our DNA. The clock is ticking.…

Alcuin of York on ageing and the human condition

“We poor wretches!Why do we love you, World, when you’re running away from us?You keep running away from us,and yet we still love You.” Alcuin of York (AD 735 – 804)

Recommendation: In Our Time on Alcuin of York

Alcuin (AD735-804) turns out to be the most important Anglo-Saxon (specifically, Northumbrian) you’ve never heard of. A swerve in Western culture He was a crucial educator, preserver and sharer of knowledge at a time when a rich tradition of learning was in danger of being entirely wiped out in Britain (thanks to the Vikings) and in wider western Europe: According…

Karl Marx on automation and job losses due to disruption

“In these spacious halls the benignant power of steam summons around him his myriads of willing menials.” Andrew Ure Marx’s rage against the machine Another thought about the rate of change and “distruption,” this time from Karl Marx. I love Marx’s writing and his desire to do better for the working poor, even as I sigh at his wrong economics…

What’s the story? (1)

We’re always telling stories about who we are, where we’ve come from and where we going. We tell stories about what’s good and what’s bad, what should be and what shouldn’t. We tell ourselves stories about what’s possible and why and how, and about which things that will never happen, or which things we’ll (or they’ll) never be able to…

Prominence

Making prominence your aim is like building a skyscraper without laying foundations: you might make something tall, but it’s unlikely to last and it will almost certainly cause damage when it collapses. Rather than trying to stick out from the landscape on your own, far better to aim at lifting those around you and be happily surprised if you end…

Marcus Borg on unending conversation

Where does the drama of history get its material? From the “unending conversation”* that is going on at the point in history when we are born. Imagine you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell…

Vision. Positioning. Execution. (2)

Four types of vision: Vision of what is: the good, the bad… and the missing. Vision of possibilities: seeing what could be, or what could stop being. Having a sense of contributing factors and probabilities. Moral or ethical vision: knowing which possibilities should be, and which you will take responsibility for changing. Judgement: choosing a good way forward in light…

A reading list for 2019

Here’s a DC-related hitlist for the first part of 2019… images link to Amazon UK. The Invisible Killer: The Rising Global Threat of Air Pollution – and How We can Fight Back – Garry Fuller A gift from Sharky. Necessary reading for someone living in Jakarta. Or anywhere. The Inevitable – Kevin Kelly See also WtF? Technology and You. KK is…