May, 2017

May 17

Quotes from Orwell

All from WikiQuote

Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

It is not possible for any thinking person to live in such a society as our own without wanting to change it.
So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.

Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.

[Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security, and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flag and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.

Even as it stands, the Home Guard could only exist in a country where men feel themselves free. The totalitarian states can do great things, but there is one thing they cannot do: they cannot give the factory-worker a rifle and tell him to take it home and keep it in his bedroom. THAT RIFLE HANGING ON THE WALL OF THE WORKING-CLASS FLAT OR LABOURER’S COTTAGE, IS THE SYMBOL OF DEMOCRACY. IT IS OUR JOB TO SEE THAT IT STAYS THERE.

The choice before human beings, is not, as a rule, between good and evil but between two evils. You can let the Nazis rule the world: that is evil; or you can overthrow them by war, which is also evil. There is no other choice before you, and whichever you choose you will not come out with clean hands.

Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.

Thus, for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows, and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon — so long as there is no answer to it — gives claws to the weak.

May 17

Quote of the day – macroeconomics and climate science

From Arnold Kling (emphasis mine)

I am a macroeconomics skeptic. I think that my background in the subject is deep enough that my reasons for skepticism are legitimate. See, for example, my memoirs of a would-be macroeconomist.

I am a climate science skeptic, but not based on a similarly deep background. I just look at the superficial similarities with macroeconomics and infer that skepticism is warranted. It is plausible to me that the climate “consensus” is way off. However, it could be off in either direction–maybe the temperature increase will be faster and sharper than the consensus forecast.

When it comes to the differences between macro and climate science, points (1) and (2) favor climate science. However, point (3) leans against climate science. Good ideas are persuasive. If you need to excommunicate unbelievers, you are dealing in religion, not science.

May 17

An odd request from a six year old

“Daddy, I want to play with something sharp….”