Thursday, 21 June 2018


When all the objectives of government include the achievement of equality - other than equality before the law - that government poses a threat to liberty. Margaret Thatcher

No-one can build the bridge on which you, and only you, can cross the river of life. 


  1. Bob Noyce (one of the founders of Intel) used to say “Wealth is created by Scientists, Engineers and Artists, everyone else just moves it around”.

    Einstein said “We cannot solve important problems of the world using the same level of thinking we used to create them”.

    A nice phrase by Vi Hart is “We must insure human wisdom exceeds human power”.

    To make it to the 22nd century at all, and especially in better shape than we are now, we need to heed all three of these sayings, and support them as the civilization we are sometimes trying to become. It’s the only context in which “The best way to predict the future is to invent it” makes any useful sense.

    Alan Kay
    On the referendum #26: How to change science funding post-Brexit [updated with comment by Alan Kay]

  2. Replies
    1. Sure. Thanks for having me.

      Here's another good one:

      Other ages have had their individual traitors—men who from faintheartedness or hope of gain sold out their causes. But in the 20th Century, for the first time, men banded together by millions, in movements like fascism and communism, dedicated to the purpose of betraying the institutions they lived under. In the 20th Century, treason became a vocation whose modern form was specifically the treason of ideas.

      Modern man was challenged to choose between the traditions of a 2,000-year-old Christian civilization and the new totalitarian systems which, in the name of social progress, contended for the allegiance of man's secular mind. The promise of the new ideas was as old as that serpentine whisper heard in the dawn of the Creation: "You shall become as gods"—for the first traitor was the first man.

      And yet, though the new ideas had been violently avowed, and the hallmark of their advocates was a fanaticism unknown since the first flush of Islam, wherever the fanatics were brought to trial, almost without exception they failed to defend their beliefs. Why?

      The Vacuum. Why did the traitors commit double treason by failing to defend the beliefs in whose name they had committed treason first? One of the most intelligent of totalitarians has tried to give the answer in a cry from the brink of the grave. In March 1938 Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, once one of the most powerful figures in Russia, made his last plea to the Soviet Supreme Court. He admitted that he was a traitor, and explained why he had confessed.

      He said: "For three months I refused to say anything. Then I began to testify. Why? Because while in prison I made a revaluation of my entire past. For when you ask yourself: 'If you must die, what are you dying for?'—an absolutely black vacuity suddenly rises before you. . . . There was nothing to die for, if one wanted to die unrepentant. . . . And when you ask yourself: 'Very well, suppose you do not die; suppose by some miracle you remain alive, again for what? . . .' And at once the same reply arises. And at such moments, Citizen Judges, everything personal, all the personal incrustation, all rancor, pride and a number of other things, fall away, disappear. ... I am about to finish. I am perhaps speaking for the last time in my life. I am explaining how I came to realize the necessity of capitulating to the investigating authorities and to you, Citizen Judges."

      In her own way, Miss West is saying the same thing when she writes of Dr. May: "A man with so dynamic a mind will be specially conscious of the vacuum left by the disappearance of God." For the horror of treason is its sin against the spirit. And for him who violates this truth there rises inevitably Bukharin's "absolutely black vacuity," which is in reality a circle of absolute loneliness into which neither father, wife, child nor friend, however compassionate, can bring the grace of absolution. For this loneliness is a penalty inflicted by a justice that transcends the merely summary justice of men. It is the retributive meaning of treason because it is also one of the meanings of hell.

      Whittaker Chambers
      Circles of Perdition,
      review of Rebecca West’s 'The Meaning of Treason' for Time, Monday, Dec. 08, 1947

  3. “He’d been letting the sea work its timeless therapy, washing away the unconscious frustrations of a man of somewhat austere philosophy who’d been born in a world which he’d never see back. Not that he entirely regretted it for he’d never accepted its values wholeheartedly; he couldn’t with logic bewail a system which twice in its lifetime had turned on itself. In Russell’s private but confirmed opinion it was stupidity reinforced by greed which would destroy mankind and not the devil."

    William Haggard, The Scorpion’s Tail
    Quoted by Terry Teachout