Monday, July 9 2021

Quote of the Day

Charlotte was coming to believe that arrogance was a quality not just correlated with but a manifestation of stupidity, a result of stupidity.

Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140

I’m trying an experiment today, one where instead of trying to stuff a whole bunch of things in my day and only getting to some of them, I’m going to Work. I sat down at my desk at 9, and I’m going to keep working on my novel until 5–with a short break here for this blog. I guess we’ll see how that goes…..



Those are amazing. Of course I use a chiclet keyboard and they won’t fit. But if I didn’t, these would be for me.


Lately I’ve been finding that when I read my phone for 20 minutes or more, my eyes start to sting and water. It’s not great. But this happens mostly in bed, in the mornings when I wake up. I had a suspicion, and I think the problem is actually that I haven’t been drinking enough. Back to making sure I drink like 6 bottles of water or more a day.

Working in the reality of today

Can we save the planet by shrinking the economy? The “degrowth” movement to fight the climate crisis offers a romantic, utopian vision. But it’s not a policy agenda.

This is a really great article and it’s a really, really great point. They point out that degrowth is very first world centered–if we stop buying a ton of things manufactured in developing economies, we gut those economies and their citizens start having very bad outcomes.

Even if emissions in rich countries go to zero very soon, climate change is set to worsen as poorer countries increase their own emissions.

That will, of course, have deeply negative climate impacts. But the alternative is a nonstarter — should the world really prioritize curbing emissions and economic growth if it meant suppressing the growth of those countries?

Degrowthers see no dilemma here. What Hickel envisions is global movement in two directions: Poor countries could develop up to a certain level of prosperity and then stop; rich countries could develop down to that level and then stop. Thus, climate catastrophe could be averted, all while making the world’s poor more prosperous.

“Rich countries urgently need to reduce their excess energy and resource use to sustainable levels so our sisters and brothers in the global South can live well too,” Hickel put it. “We live on an abundant planet and we can all flourish on it together, but to do so we have to share it more fairly, and build economies that are designed around meeting human needs rather than around perpetual growth.”

From a climate change perspective, though, there’s a problem. First, it means that degrowth would do nothing about the bulk of emissions, which are occurring in developing countries.

Second, the global economy is more interconnected than Hickel implies. When Covid-19 hit, poor countries were devastated not just by the virus but by the aftershocks of virus-induced slowdowns in consumption in rich countries

There’s some genuine appeal to the idea of an end to “consumerism,” but the pandemic offered a taste of how a sudden drop in rich-world consumption would actually affect the developing world. Covid-19 dramatically curtailed Western imports and tourism for a time. The consequences in poor countries were devastating. Hunger rose, and child mortality followed.

They also talk about how degrowth didn’t really start out as a climate solution, but a holistic proposal.

I have lemons

So I might try this delicious looking recipe: The Pasta Queen’s “Lemon Temptress Pasta”

I am builder of worlds!

I am looking for world building resources, and I found this interesting worksheet and resource list from M. D. Presley.

Worldbuilding Resources

New ContraPoints video!

Hurray Natalie! Envy is great. I really enjoyed it, thinking about how we cloak simple envy in justice and morality to assuage our own guilt or uncomfortableness over having the feeling, and use those to justify truly awful actions.

As a general rule, the more radical a political community claims to be, the more likely it is to be a community of resentment. Self-styled radicals will tell you, “Superficial surface reforms do not interest us. The problem must be critiqued at its root.” And the root turns out to be this universal, all-encompassing evil, right? Society itself, the system, the machine.

A resentment ideologue always imagines himself engaged in a kind of Satanic revolt against an omnipotent, omnipresent enemy…And nothing short of total revolution counts as any sort of victory whatsoever. “We have to dismantle the entire system! Burn it all down!”

I guess it’s pedestrian to point out that this is the revolutionary utopian equivalent of Christians awaiting the Last Judgement. Our Kingdom is coming comrades!

Often the appeal of utopian ideology is similar to religion. It’s not about health care, higher wages, relief from police violence: these are actual goals that could be demanded, worked for, and achieved. Utopian ideology instead promises relief from some general malaise, “alienation.” And so ironically it can have the same opiate effect that Marx ascribed to religion. But release from the general anguish of human existence is not a political goal. There’s been many revolutions in the last few centuries and so far zero utopias.