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The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. The eternal mistake of mankind is to set up an attainable ideal.
Aleister Crowley
Culture and Freedom

A familiar pattern in most of the “unviable”1 nation states of the world is as follows.

There was a region that formed part of some “colonial” empire — either French, British, German, Spanish, Belgian, Italian or Portuguese. A few decades before World War II, a bunch of “cultural elites” educated in the west decided this wasn’t a good thing, and that their particular liguistic/ethnic region…

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Mass immigration or mass entitlement: Choose one

Mass immigration or mass entitlement: Choose one

A very short draft, meant here only to distill the partial contents of a conversation I recently had.

A periodic refrain, repeated whenever the : “America has always been a country of immigrants”. Forgotten in this is the fact that it has not always been a country of entitlement.

Even when the “Frontier” was not yet closed, accomodating new arrivals took a toll on the crowded coastal cities (as a

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The telegraph removed space as an inevitable constraint on the movement of information, and, for the first time, transportation and communication were disengaged from each other.

In introducing the personal computer to the classroom, we shall be breaking a four-hundred year-old truce between the gregariousness and openness fostered by orality and the introspection and isolation fostered by the printed word.

Orality stresses group learning, cooperation, and a sense of social responsibility… Print stresses individualized learning, competition, and personal autonomy.

Over four centuries, teachers, while emphasizing print, have allowed orality its place in the classroom, and have therefore achieved a kind of pedagogical peace between these two forms of learning, so that what is valuable in each can be maximized.

Now comes the computer, carrying anew the banner of private learning and individual problem-solving. Will the widespread use of computers in the classroom defeat once and for all the claims of communal speech? Will the computer raise egocentrism to the status of a virtue?

Neil Postman, “Technopoly”
Freud on Technology

The upside

One would like to ask: is there, then, no positive gain in pleasure, no unequivocal increase in my feeling of happiness, if I can, as often as I please, hear the voice of a child of mine who is living hundreds of miles away or if I can learn in the shortest possible time after a friend has reached his destination that he has come through the long and difficult voyage unharmed?? Does it mean nothing that medicine has succeeded in enormously reducing infant mortality and the danger of infection for women in childbirth, and, indeed, in considerably lengthening the average life of a civilized man?

The downside

If there had been no railway to conquer distances, my child would never have left his native town and I should need no telephone to hear his voice; if travelling across the ocean by ship had not been introduced, my friend would not have embarked on his sea-voyage and I should not need a cable to relieve my anxiety about him. What is the use of reducing infantile mortality when it is precisely that reduction which imposes the greatest restraint on us in the begetting of children, so that, taken all round, we nevertheless rear no more children than in the days before the reign of hygiene, while at the same time we have created difficult conditions for our sexual life in marriage?

Make of it what you will …