All entries by this author

Julian Baggini and Nick Cohen Debate *

Aug 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

Is Blunkett’s proposed religious hatred law a good idea?… Read the rest

James Buchan Reviews Ziauddin Sardar *

Aug 23rd, 2004 | Filed by

No journey can begin if the traveller thinks he has already arrived.… Read the rest

Lear and Paulina

Aug 22nd, 2004 10:12 pm | By

Another literary post, this is going to be. That’s two in a row. Well – I have a literary side, so you’ll have to bear with me. I usually cover it up here, I pretend to be interested exclusively in other things – and in fact I am interested in other things; I’ve been getting less and less exclusively literary for years. All my adult life really. Which I guess is just a roundabout way of saying I used to be a rather narrow, boring, incurious person when I was young, and then I outgrew it. (Yes I did. I’m not boring. Stop it at once.)

It’s a Shakespeare poll. And not just any poll, but a poll that … Read the rest

Another Shakespeare Poll *

Aug 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

Scofield’s Lear is Topp. Hamlet also well-liked; Paulina is most inspiring.… Read the rest

Too Few UK Students Taking Science Courses *

Aug 22nd, 2004 | Filed by

Many chemistry and physics departments have closed.… Read the rest

A ‘Paradigm Shift’ in Finnish Linguistic Prehistory

Aug 22nd, 2004 | By Merlijn de Smit


Any field dealing with “origins” – archaeology, historical linguistics, general history – has seen its share of nonsense, usually painting a glorious past for whatever ethnicity or social group is involved. Thus a hypothesis popular with (certain) feminists and neo-pagans has an egalitarian, matriarchal, peaceful paradise all throughout the neolithic – until patriarchal, warlike, horse-riding nomads destroyed it all (with the exception of what survives underground in today’s Wiccan movement, of course). Another example may be “Afrocentric” pseudohistory, which ascribes incredible technological advancement to ancient Egyptian society, which happened also to be the cradle of ancient Greek philosophy and culture. In these two examples, pseudohistory serves a clear political goal, which could be regarded as progressive – the emancipation … Read the rest

Blair Slashed Homelessness – and Nobody Noticed *

Aug 21st, 2004 | Filed by

A dense web of progressive policies that has been badly under-reported.… Read the rest

Conviction in Faked Hate-crime *

Aug 21st, 2004 | Filed by

Former professor painted racist slogans on her own car, it seems.… Read the rest

Noonan/Tressell Not an Elitist! *

Aug 21st, 2004 | Filed by

It’s not elitist to believe all should have access to the best culture, not just the easy version.… Read the rest

Walden and Points East

Aug 21st, 2004 1:49 am | By

There is an interesting essay on Thoreau in that wicked newspaper that people around here say such hard things about. I’m very keen on Thoreau, especially Walden, myself. Thoreau was such a damn phrase-maker, for one thing. I once memorized this paragraph, just because I liked it so much:

I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in. Who made them serfs of the soil? Why should

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A Good Word for Thoreau *

Aug 20th, 2004 | Filed by

You can read Tressell too though.… Read the rest

Author Admits Fabrications in Honour-Killing Book *

Aug 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Not helpful.… Read the rest

McDonald’s Ad Seeks to ‘Balance’ Film *

Aug 20th, 2004 | Filed by

‘Super Size Me’ flawed because nobody eats every meal at McDonald’s.… Read the rest

Judging the Booker Prize Longlist *

Aug 20th, 2004 | Filed by

So many novels are competent but pointless. And all those underdogs with hearts of gold…… Read the rest

Besides, She Gets It All Wrong *

Aug 19th, 2004 | Filed by

A menace to the public understanding of science; channel 4 should not give her a platform.… Read the rest

Eccentric but Brilliant Doctor – Says Her PR Firm *

Aug 19th, 2004 | Filed by

Nutrition expert got her PhD from non-accredited correspondence course.… Read the rest

Butterflies *

Aug 19th, 2004 | Filed by

Farmers in Tanzania are raising butterflies for export.… Read the rest

A-Levels in the Wrong Subjects? *

Aug 19th, 2004 | Filed by

Physics, German and French are down, psychology and media studies up.… Read the rest

Protests Over BBC Documentary on Black Men *

Aug 19th, 2004 | Filed by

Is it all stereotypes or a response to compelling statistics?… Read the rest

No Exemptions

Aug 18th, 2004 6:14 pm | By

Polly Toynbee has a very good column in the Guardian today (thus incidentally showing that that newspaper is not always the evil spawn of Satan despite what my colleague may say). She says what I’ve been saying for months: that criticism of Islam (or any other religion) is not racism, and should not be called such or talked about as if it were such. She also says that worry about just exactly this equation has caused a lot of people to go all woolly about Islam. Ain’t it the truth.

Fear of offending the religious is gathering ground on all sides. It is getting harder to argue against the hijab and the Koran’s edict that a woman’s place is one

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