Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Error of Pessimism II

[Warning: Some of you may find the photograph below, of a dead bird embryo, upsetting, so if you're squeamish, please don't look...]

I was walking in the woods earlier this afternoon when I saw the dead bird embryo next to its egg on the path in front of me. There was another nearby, but this one looked so vulnerable and pathetic that I had to take its picture. I imagine that it fell (or was pushed) out of a nest high above. After seeing this, I was depressed for hours, but the aesthetician in me (if such an ungainly word exists) liked the colour and composition of the photo enough to feel like posting it. And this is as much a part of Nature as the sweep of a landscape bathed in sunlight, or the beautiful intricacy of a flower. The photograph is below the video (so that the potential reader has a chance to read the warning before seeing it).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Error of Pessimism

John O'Byrne wrote the following letter into The Irish Times on Saturday, May 15th, on the gloomy article written by Morgan Kelly on Ireland's economic future (see here):
Madam, – The Cambridge economist AC Pigou, writing in 1920, is worth quoting in the context of Morgan Kelly’s doom-laden economic prognosis and solutions. “The error of optimism dies in the crisis but in dying it gives birth to an error of pessimism. This new error is born, not an infant, but a giant.” Our leading economists appear to be afflicted with giant doses of this condition.
It's a shame he didn't think about the absurdity of quoting a comment on the error of pessimism from 1920, seeing as the following thirty years brought the Great Depression; the rise of fascism and Uncle Joe Stalin in Russia; the Second World War; the Holocaust; the invention of the atomic bomb and its use of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and the Cold War. Sometimes pessimism is just another word for realism.
(This is not a return from hibernation, by the way; I read the letter this morning and became so incensed that I felt the need to respond.)