Chew on this…

“No, World Won’t Run Out of Food in 10 Years”, fisking a dubiously alarmist Quartz blurticle.

Incidentally, here’s a link to a fabulous little article from the Alberta Farmer Express of all places. It concisely and lucidly explains to sceptical Canadians how “The U.K. packs a lot of agriculture into such a small space”.


Vodafone reboots brand for ‘Future Optimism’

The gist of a 5th October 2017 press release from Vodaphone….

Vodafone has rebranded itself with a new logo, strapline and campaign to be pushed out to all 36 countries in which it operates. […] “we are repositioning the Vodafone brand on the theme of future optimism.” The brand’s new strapline will read: “The future is exciting. Ready?”

Vodafone commissioned an opinion study with YouGov to determine how people felt about the future. The study surveyed 13,000 people across 14 countries […] Most pessimistic was the UK, where only 32% think things will get better while 39% think things will get worse. In India, an overwhelming 78% are confident things will get better versus 14% who think things will get worse.

Given that polls are actually worth anything, these days, 32% is actually better than might have been expected, for the UK. I would have expected maybe 25% on even the most vague question about the future of the UK. A YouGov 2016 survey found only 4% for a question on the world as-a-whole, for instance. It would be interesting to have a commitment from Vodaphone to run the same survey each year, in order to measure the trend.

New Matt Ridley interview

A new short Matt Ridley interview, “Collective Intelligence Is the Root of Human Progress”

“I think it’s worth remembering that good news tends to be gradual, and bad news tends to be sudden. Hence, the good stuff is rarely going to make the news. It’s happening in an inexorable way, as a result of ordinary people exchanging, specializing, collaborating, and innovating, and it’s surprisingly hard to stop it.”

Deliciate that holon!

Positive Lexicography, an “evolving index of ‘untranslatable’ words related to well-being from across the world’s languages.” India’s The Hindu newspaper has a short readable profile of the project. However, on drilling down to the English words included in Lexicography, the notion suddenly appears a bit more gobble-de-gooky…

Erm…. “I deliciate in a selcouth eucastrophe that evokes the holon.” ?

It’s interesting that there’s this new Lexicography. But I can’t help thinking that in English we already have house-trained words for the gist of such things. A possible translation of the above…

“I enjoy that rare moment when a difficult situation happily and harmoniously resolves itself into a new whole.”

And that can be translated.

Positive Japan

Leading Japanese sci-fi/thriller novelist Taiyo Fujii, also chairman of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan association, visits Malaysia for that nation’s main think-fest (theme this year: ‘the Future’). The local press there reports, in “The future is bright” that…

Fujii hopes that those who have read his [novels] Orbital Cloud or Gene Mapper gain a more optimistic view of the future like him. The author said: “”I love Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and James P. Hogan. All of them write of a positive future. I’ll be telling the audience how I view the future world with optimism, whereas many literary works tend to focus on a dystopian world.”

Available in good English translations, and Kindle ereader format, though as yet no audiobooks.

I also recently had cause to notice Arthur C. Clarke’s mid-career novel Imperial Earth (1975), which apparently has a very positive tour of its main setting: the high-tech USA of the year 2276 as seen through the eyes of a visitor from the colony on Titan. Clarke was at that time in a similar situation personally: living in the British Commonwealth protectorate of Ceylon, watching his home in the UK try to shape “the white heat of technology” into a sustainable form, and touring America as it lived through the early 1970s. I’d no doubt read the novel in the 1980s, along with most other hard science-fiction, but had forgotten it in the meantime. Apparently it was also an important breakthrough novel, for its time, in its approaches to sexuality.

Update: I had read Imperial Earth in the 1980s, and have just finished re-reading it. It’s still a very enjoyable and vivid novel.