11 July 2017

Skiing in the age of climate change

I have been told by somebody – a fellow academic – that climate change is damaging ski resorts, especially at the lower levels, where it is less cold. Skiing is difficult if there is no snow, so some resorts have invested in snow-making machines.

Personally, I do not think this is likely to be a temporary development. I should think that climate changes will go on getting worse, and snow-making machines will become even more necessary.

This seems to imply that skiing will become more expensive, perhaps finally only a sport for the super-rich. The planet is being messed up because various ideological considerations are regarded as being of overriding importance. (See my post about Fukushima as an example of this.)

But perhaps something quite different will happen. Pensioners are given free bus passes, so perhaps ‘the poor’ might be given free plane passes and free ski resort passes.

12 May 2017

Age quod agis

St Ignatius of Loyola
(1491 - 1556)
The Ursuline convent school to which I went had a school motto, Age Quod Agis (Do What You Do). We were told that this meant one should do everything as well as possible. For example, the inscriptions in books for the prize-giving were written by the art mistress with a special pen for doing italic writing. At a state school, by contrast, I saw some prize books with the recipient’s name simply scribbled in.

At the same state school I saw some exam papers which had been used in end-of-term exams. They were carelessly photocopied, skew on the page with some of the material cut off, and not all of what was on the page was legible. There were some scribbled corrections to make up for the deficits in the photocopying.

At this state school, when you needed a textbook, the teacher took you to a small room where there were shelves full of dilapidated books, and fished around to find some of the least dilapidated for you to use.

At the convent school, all the books in the school were kept in prime condition. Girls would stay behind after school to spend time repairing books.

At the same state school it once happened that a teacher had wrongly marked the work of one of the girls. When it was pointed out to her by the girl in question, the teacher said cheerfully, ‘Nobody will mind about it in a hundred years’ time’.

This attitude, that it did not matter at all whether your marks were good or bad, or whether teachers marked correctly, was very different from the attitude at the Ursuline convent school. Here, there were what they called ‘degree ceremonies’ every few weeks, and the girls lined up in front of the Reverend Mother to have their marks and positions in the form read out.

The ceremonies took place in the school hall and were preceded by rehearsals. Each class was shown where to sit along the sides of the hall. The girls were then called out, class by class, to be shown where to stand in front of the Reverend Mother. Then the positions of the girls in the line were adjusted by one of the nuns, so that the tallest was in the middle and the other girls fell away from her on either side, decreasing in height.

* The first use of the injunction age quod agis is attributed to St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.


12 February 2017

A poem about Saint Paul

From Saint Paul by F.W.H. Myers:

Whoso has felt the Spirit of the Highest
Cannot confound nor doubt Him nor deny:
Yea with one voice, O world, tho’ thou deniest,
Stand thou on that side, for on this am I.

Rather the earth should doubt when her retrieving
Pours in the rain and rushes from the sod,
Rather than he for whom the great conceiving
Stirs in his soul to quicken into God.

Ay, tho’ Thou then shouldst strike him from his glory
Blind and tormented, maddened and alone,
Even on the cross would he maintain his story,
Yes, and in hell would whisper, I have known.


F.W.H. Myers
(1843-1901)
The poem* Saint Paul, published in 1867, was very popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A 1916 Spectator article predicted that it would ‘always have its place in English literature’. However, it is nowadays practically forgotten.

The above extract from the poem may be taken to illustrate the fundamental difference between the way of thinking of Victorian intellectuals and that of modern ones. There is a sense of hierarchical significance; something can be overridingly important.


* from Saint Paul, included in F.W.H. Myers, Poems, Macmillan 1870.
These verses quoted in Celia Green, Advice to Clever Children, Oxford Forum 1981, p.121.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.


06 February 2017

Brexit and European visitors

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty [...] triggers the start of a two-year process of exit talks before the UK is expelled from the 28-member bloc.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she will trigger Article 50 by March 2017. In theory, this means Britain will have left the EU by March 2019.
(Daily Express, 3 November 2016)

Brexit may eventually make it more difficult for citizens of European countries to enter Britain.

To any members of such countries who are interested in the possibility of forming an association with us, we would suggest they take advantage of the present situation to come on a preliminary visit, living in or near Cuddesdon.

02 February 2017

‘I will defend to the death your right to say it’

The epithet ‘I disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it’ is sometimes attributed to Voltaire, but first occurs in a book called The Friends of Voltaire by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (writing under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre), in her chapter on Claude HelvĂ©tius.

Helvétius was a French philosopher whose book On the Mind aroused disapproval, was publicly burnt in Paris, and then became a bestseller.
‘On the Mind’ became not the success of a season, but one of the most famous books of the century. The men who had hated it, and had not particularly loved Helvetius, flocked round him now.

Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. 'What a fuss about an omelette!' he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' was his attitude now.
(The Friends of Voltaire, London, 1906, pp.198-199.)

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.


Update: My colleague Fabian has posted an article about counter-extremism and the rule of law.