Lessons from Living in an Atomic Age

In the midst of all the craziness, the passage below seems to be doing the rounds.

I’ve seen it popping up in a few places, from a New York Times podcasts to The Spectator Australia. It’s from an essay written by C.S. Lewis, called “On Living in an Atomic Age.”

Man could write, even when there’s no lions or witches or wardrobes.

In one way, we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. How are we to live in an atomic age? I’m tempted to reply: Why, as you have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year. Or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night. Or indeed as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, and age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented, and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had indeed one very great advantage over our ancestors — anesthetics. But we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances, and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made. And the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds

I know we have to forget about the ‘friends over a pint’ bit. And we can’t huddle together like frightened sheep (even if we wanted to). But it’s a timely reminder to use our time spent in strange circumstances in wise and human ways.

Not sure if watching old Pathé Newsreels, like this one from 1946 on The Atomic Age counts exactly. But it is pretty incredible.

A blast from the past

I was stumbling through Google Drive the other day and this jpeg of a poster caught my eye.

About 12 years ago I spoke at a conference in Istanbul. When I submitted my photo I thought it would be “funny” to send a picture of me in a wig at Glastonbury. I think everyone was really disappointed when I turned up and didn’t look like a shit Hair Metal tribute act. Lesson learned.

Solar-Powered Low-Tech Website

Love this…

https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/

Not because of what it is. But because of what it brings into question. I found the site via an article in Backstage Talks magazine where the founder of Low Tech is talking about how much energy the internet uses.

And of course the more we use it, and the less care we take over how we engineer and build websites and content – the worse it gets.

His response: to build a super lean version of his website that runs on a power efficient computer that’s powered entirely by its own solar panel. So if there’s not enough sun, the site isn’t always there.

Things like this that help us connect with what’s going on behind the curtain feel necessary right now.

The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk

Watch now. Absolute genius new-ish comedy on the BBC. Has the whiff of a cult classic. It’s like The Young Ones crossed with the Mighty Boosh made by people who loved Vine.

It feels like what the world needs right now.

Long Read – The New Propaganda

Long and very bleak but very important piece from The Guardian: Information Trap. My jaw was dropped for most of it.

This blew my mind.

In the case of the vote to leave the EU, Borwick, who seems to approach such challenges like a Rubik’s Cube, claimed that the most successful message in getting people out to vote had been about animal rights. Vote Leave argued that the EU was cruel to animals because, for example, it supported farmers in Spain who raise bulls for bullfighting. And within the “animal rights” segment Borwick could focus even tighter, sending graphic ads featuring mutilated animals to one type of voter and more gentle ads with pictures of cuddly sheep to others.

Tbe Vote Leave campaign were well informed (and open) enough to spot massive contradictions like this in the data, and use it to power their campaign.

We must never underestimate the sophistication of our enemies in the information war.

Billionaires (with cats) vs Psychedelic Freaks

Loved loved loved this quote from Holly Herndon in a print copy of Huck Magazine

Her latest promo (at time of writing) is here: