Winter of Our Discontent

I have borrowed the title of this blog from Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. Richard III was not a nice man, although the real Richard was probably not as evil as Shakespeare and others have made him out to be. He was the last king of England to actually lead his troops into battle and died in the Battle of Bosworth Field. Shakespeare portrays him as evil, and he may well have been. Medieval kings had a tendency to be corrupt and cruel, and someone I have quoted before, Lord Acton, famously said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts . . . → Read More: Winter of Our Discontent

Selling Fear in the New Year

One of the things I’ve been paying increasing attention to (perhaps because of the ongoing political debate in the U.S.) is fear marketing. I find it amazing at how pervasive “fear appeals” are and the various ways they are used to sell “stuff,” including politicians and political “talking points.” The basic concept is that we really need to be afraid of X, and, if we want to be safe, we need to stock up on (or vote for) the anti-X.

The world has a lot of risky stuff in it, of course, and we are undoubtedly safer when we . . . → Read More: Selling Fear in the New Year

Lesser of Two Weevils

In the movie, “Master and Commander,” Captain Jack (Russell Crowe) asks the ship’s surgeon, Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) to choose one of the two weevils crawling around in their food. The doctor initially says that they are the same in the critical aspects: “Arcades ambo. They are the same species of curculio, and there is nothing to choose between them.” When Captain Jack insists on a choice, the doctor chooses the larger one. The captain says that he has chosen incorrectly because “in the Navy you must always choose the lesser of two weevils.”

Now that the political . . . → Read More: Lesser of Two Weevils