As Machiavelli wrote, rulers can manage their people more effectively through emotion than reason, and fear is more motivating than love.

This is perhaps truest of democracies, where leaders can keep power by convincing the electorate that they alone are able to hold off the latest threat.

Once the wave of fear has passed (having served its purpose or lost its effectiveness), we look back and think, what was the all the fuss about?

In the early 20th century, wowsers were convinced that alcohol was a unique and terrible evil. Today we can agree on its harms, but was it ever really that bad? Worth turning society upside down for? How did anyone ever fall for that?

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You wanna live forever?!?

This article addresses four thoughts stirred up by Corona-chan:

  1. The first truly global hysteria.
  2. Fear of death.
  3. It’s not the only way to die.
  4. Seen and unseen effects.
1. Global hysteria

There have been bouts of hysteria across the world countless times. Prohibition in the Anglosphere. Renaissance witch burnings. Korean anti-Japanese antics. You know many others.

The present situation is the first truly global case of hysteria, with only a few countries unaffected. There has been a massive overreaction to a problem that, in retrospect, could probably have been dealt with more effectively through moderate and focused policies. More on this soon.

Even taking into account the increased population, Covid so far appears less deadly than the

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Don’t fuck up

In prehistoric times, there were endless ways of fucking up.  You could zig when you were supposed to zag while hunting woolly rhino.  You could get an infected cut.  You could get caught sleeping with Og’s girl and have your skull cleaved in two.  You could fail to adapt when your world suddenly freezes over and your previous food sources disappear.

Even in the agricultural age a lot of things could go wrong.  Most of them related to Read More

Glad to be alive

From my teenage years I was deeply depressed (never diagnosed, this was before it was cool) and from maybe seventeen or so close to suicidal.

It is painful just to write that sentence because it brings back memories of a time I rarely think of any more.

One thing led to another, I cheered up in my early twenties and I’ve been chirpily maudlin ever since. I actually had counseling at one point and it was not the load of tree-hugging codswallop you probably think.

Since then I’ve done many things. I’ve gotten qualifications, lived in a highland Japanese village, learned a language or two, bedded a few Read More