Where Are The Trees

A letter in The Week describes the number of trees Britain consumed before the 19yh Century.

“Cost of our colonial past

To The Daily Telegraph

It is difficult to overestimate how many trees were needed before iron and then steel replaced wood for shipbuilding in the 19th century in Britain (“Colonial shipbuilding nearly wiped out native bat”). It took an astonishing 6,000 mature oak trees to build a single ship of the line.
In the 1860s it was estimated that Britain needed 400,000 acres of timber annually to build the ships needed for defence and commerce.
So, the development of iron shipbuilding and steam power saved what little forest we had left from further plundering for ships. This came at a cost, of course, that we are only now starting to pay.

Dr Paul Stott, Newcastle University

Eichmann’s Rodomontade

I came across the word ‘rodomontade’ in Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann and The Holocaust‘, a book that Tamara gave me as a Chanukah gift (one of several gifts).

I had never heard the word before:

rodomontade (n.) – 1600s “vain boasting like that of Rodomonte,” a character in Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso”

Arendt uses the word to describe Eichmann, who boasted of accomplishments, including about those that were not his. And, she says, it was his rodomontade in Argentina after the war that led to his capture.


Something else to worry about in the unstable world.

From the 2nd December issue of The Week

“An end to détente: Pyongyang’s launch of a spy satellite last week, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, has breached the military deal that was struck between North and South Korea in 2018 to reduce tensions along their shared border. The launch – likely facilitated by technical help from Moscow, as a quid pro quo for North Korea’s recent provision of arms – is being seen as a boost for its intercontinental ballistic missile programme (and its ability to launch nuclear strikes). In response, Seoul has made good on its threat to restart aerial reconnaissance, flouting the agreement’s ban on military manoeuvres close to the border. Pyongyang has made clear it will ditch the agreement, and Seoul said this week that the North’s troops had been seen rebuilding guard posts and stationing heavy weapons along the border.”

I Am An Influencer

For me to be an influencer, you should think I am important and worth emulating, and that in so doing my magic will rub off on you and you will be more than you are now. Our desires must be aligned for that to happen, but you do not need to have original desires because I will supply these to fill you. And you will buy those desires because I am an influencer.


It seems to me that great observations hold a mirror up so we see the reality of what we want to think of ourselves and the truth of what we are. But at the same time they do not say there is no way out. They leave room for aspirations.

A blanket observation that there is nothing beyond absurdity is necessarily directed as those who believe otherwise, and is destructive.

Of course if it is directed at the pompous – at those who say one thing and do another – then it is satire.

Reflections on absurdity put us all in the same boat. Reflections that single out a group is akin to ridicule and is sadistic and possibly prompted by jealousy.

Musk’s Game Plan

I listened to Elon Musk’s byographer talking about the various aspects of Musk’s personality and I kept thinking that maybe as a biographer he really wasn’t up to the job because when you’re talking about the richest man in the world it’s a bit rich to describe him as lacking in foresight and liable to go off a something without proper forethought.

He did mention that Musk is using Twitter conversations as data for his LLM that feeds his AI. So what Musk needs all the time is people on Twitter who are committed and vociferous.

And now Musk has gone to Kibbutz – and it makes me wonder whether Musk made that tweet in response to Eric, on purpose.

Maybe I shouldn’t underestimate his game plan.