It's darker here.

Berlin 1945 Diary of a Metropolis

DTG: 06:14 Monday, 21 February 2022

Watched this documentary mini-series on Amazon Prime over the weekend. It seemed like it would be a worthwhile addition to the book I'm reading, The German War, by Nicholas Stargardt. The documentary covers the period from the end of 1944 through the beginning of the Nuremberg trials. It's three one-hour episodes, and it's pretty dark and graphic. The narration draws from the diaries of a number of Germans, Soviets, Americans, British, captive foreign workers and Jews in hiding. It uses film clips from the period to illustrate the scenes described in the diary entries, much of it I had never seen anywhere else before.

For the most part, it's very well done. One thing I didn't enjoy is that there are segments that include spoken-voice German in the film clips that aren't sub-titled; as well as stills of signs, posters and newspaper headlines that are similarly not captioned.

The book is slow-going because it's likewise very dark and depressing, while also being compelling.

It's not morbid curiosity that's got me looking more closely at the history of Nazi Germany, it's events over here. I suppose I thought it was something unique to the German culture that made Hitler possible, and all the horrible things that followed. But we've seen similar things elsewhere in the world since WW II, most of them in my lifetime. Because I was privileged to live here, in the United States, where such things never happened (or so I believed), that these events and accounts never seemed of immediate relevance to me, they didn't affect me.

Well, I've learned a lot since then. Certainly that human history illuminates human nature; and that is always of immediate relevance to each of us. As Buckaroo Banzai noted, "No matter where you go, there you are."

That speaks to the importance of teaching history, and I live in the "free state of Florida," where public education has been incrementally and systematically de-funded under single-party rule for more than two decades, to the point where Florida ranks near the bottom of all states on education spending by many measures: per student spending, teacher salaries, and many more. But that's a topic for another day.

At any rate, we haven't learned from history, and so we're in the process of repeating it. With some American variation, of course. But disaster and ruin will follow when cynical and ambitious demagogues achieve power through grievance and deceit. And in the end, many, if not most, of the survivors will view themselves as victims, as if they had no agency in the disaster they helped create.

I don't know how we guard against our own nature. "Know thyself," seems too simple.

What Could Go Wrong?

DTG: 09:41 Monday, 7 February 2022

I happened upon this the other day (let's see how this works...)

And I was happy to see so much push-back on this idea of "techno-optimism."

I understand the idea, and I think I understand why it's so appealing to many people, especially young males. Technology is empowering, and mastering technology can feel intoxicating. But, to the extent that we're facing existential problems on several fronts today, technology isn't really the answer.

To be sure, we're going to have to make changes to which technologies we choose to use at scale, as those have proven to be problematic and the source of at least one of the major challenges facing us. But, in the main, technology is not an answer.

For the most part, we have all the necessary technology already developed to address climate change. We don't lack the right technologies, what we lack is political will and insight into our own nature, sufficient to change our behavior.

In general, technology changes how we do things, it doesn't change what we do. It expands what we do in space, and compresses it in time. Most of our problems stem from what we do, and how we perceive ourselves and others in the world around us.

Since the time of the telegraph, at least, each new form of communications technology was heralded as a way of bridging the divides between us, improving our mutual understanding of one another. It hasn't happened. It won't happen. Not because we lack the technology, but because we lack the understanding of our own nature, or the will and desire to change our nature.

It's easier to invent new technologies, make new machines and the new fortunes that they can create. There is no economic incentive to understand ourselves. Nobody is going to get rich trying to bring about love and understanding. Indeed, too often, they wind up getting killed.

But that's where the answer lies.

And there's precious little optimism about that.

An Early Spring

DTG: 07:41 Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Tradition has it that if the groundhog doesn't see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

As metaphors go, it's useful.

Because we collectively refuse to see our shadow, an "early spring" foretells of the coming climate catastrophe.

It's darker here.

Second Verse

DTG: 06:44 Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Same as the first. Now with a style sheet.


DTG: 10:12 Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Test post. See what works.