A Very Tender Plant

“It may be objected that many who are capable of the higher pleasures occasionally, under the
influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower. But this is quite compatible with a full appreciation of the intrinsic superiority of the higher. Men often, from infirmity of character, make their election for the nearer good, though they know it to be the less valuable; and this no less when the choice is between two bodily pleasures, than when it is between bodily and mental. They pursue sensual indulgence, to the injury of health, though perfectly aware that health is the greater good. It may be further objected that many who begin with youthful enthusiasm for everything noble, as they advance in years, sink into indolence and selfishness. But I do not believe that those who undergo this very common change voluntarily choose the lower description of pleasures in preference to the higher. I believe that, before they devote themselves exclusively to the one, they have already become incapable of the other. Capacity for the nobler feelings is in most natures a very tender plant, easily killed, not only by hostile influences, but by mere want of sustenance; and in the majority of young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which it has thrown them, are not favorable to keeping that higher capacity in existence. Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their intellectual tastes because they have not time or opportunity for indulging them; and they addict themselves to inferior pleasures, not because they deliberately prefer them, but because they are either the only ones to which they have access or the only ones which they are any longer capable of enjoying. It may be questioned whether anyone who has remained equally susceptible to both classes of pleasures ever knowingly and calmly preferred the lower, though many, in all ages, have broken down in an ineffectual attempt to combine both.”

John Stuart Mill
Utilitarianism

Inspirational

Eight Bells: Hilary Lister

Published on August 20th, 2018

Hilary Lister (GBR), the first disabled woman to sail solo around Britain, has died at the age of 46 on August 18, 2018.

Paralyzed from the neck down, she became famous after she used the “sip-and-puff” system for steering and controlling a yacht’s sails by blowing and sucking through plastic straws.

Hilary became the first quadriplegic person to sail across the Channel in 2005 and then the first quadriplegic woman to sail around the Isle of Wight in 2007. Two years later she sailed solo around Britain.

From Dunkirk, near Canterbury, Kent, she was born able-bodied but had the degenerative condition reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which meant she used a wheelchair from the age of 15.

Labels and Reading

Robert really finds political labels, such as “conservative” and “liberal,” quite unhelpful.  Especially when applied to people.  Anyway, he is interested in understanding the primary themes of politics.  In that light, this seems to be a very good list of non-fiction reading if one wants to understand what “conservatives” stand for.

https://www.nationalreview.com/1999/05/non-fiction-100/

Robert still has not yet read Road to Serfdom.  Ugh.

 

Firefighting

National Fire Situational Awareness copyThis week Robert has been looking at information about the Carr fire that has been burning for a week in Shasta County near Redding.  In particular, he has been looking at the “real-time” fire map that the National Interagency Fire Center has up.  It uses satellite images to constantly refresh data about fires.  Hot flames show up as red, less intense fire as orange, and smoldering as yellow.

Check it out here.

After watching the fire for a week, Robert is pretty fascinated about how the fire fighters must plan their strategies using natural and manmade fire lines.  For the Carr fire, it seemed likely that they would use Highway 299 and the mountain ridge dividing Shasta and Trinity Counties as lines that would be defended.  They have something like 30 water helicopters, and they can drop water along those lines, it seems.  Sure enough, the fires are not moving significantly past those lines. It took the fire about 3 days to get to those lines, but they did not get much further in the following 4 days.  The firefighters have a way to moving the fire into itself.  Pretty cool