Monday, June 20, 2011


One of my favourite lines – and I haven't been able to find out who came up with it – is that "There's an age when boys read one of two books. Either they read Ayn Rand or they read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. One of these books leaves you with no grasp on reality and a deeply warped sense of fantasy in place of real life. The other one is about hobbits and orcs."

I read Lord of the Rings, thankfully.
Then I read Hume's Enquiry, this wonderful, humane book saying that nobody has all the answers. What we know is what we have evidence for. We do the best we can, but anybody who claims to be able to deduce or have revelation about The Truth – with both Ts capitalised – is wrong. It doesn't work that way. The only reasonable way to approach life is with an attitude of humane scepticism. I felt that a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders when I read that book. 

I have never gotten around to reading Hume, but I know the general idea of his works and I definitely approve. I rarely have the patience for reading the full text of philosophers write. They are far too verbose. It is much more efficient to read summaries.

Residents of the Austrian mountain town of Hallstatt, population 800, are scandalized. A Chinese firm has plans to replicate the village — including its famous lake — in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Austrian media reported this week.

The Chinese possess a fascinating combination of initiative and shamelessness. They decide that they want something, and then they do it. Their entrepreneurs will gladly make copies of anything and everything, and their consumers will gladly buy it. The concept of 'authenticity' seems completely foreign to them.

Ayn Rand would be proud of them.

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