All entries by this author

Sympathy for the…

Oct 1st, 2003 12:37 am | By

Norm Geras’ blog has an excellent post on a recent Guardian column by Karen Armstrong. I thought it was excellent when I first read it, before Norm demonstrated what dazzlingly good taste he has by posting a, a, well, not to put too fine a point on it a rave review of B&W. I did a Note and Comment on Armstrong myself a few weeks or months ago, making a similar point. She’s too determined to be understanding and sympathetic and inclusive and non-Eurocentric and non-Orientalist about Islam, too unwilling to just give it up and be ‘judgmental’. Having read some of her memoirs and other books on religious subjects, I take her stance to have more to do with … Read the rest

Philip Pullman Worries About Testing *

Sep 30th, 2003 | Filed by

Teaching for the test makes children hate literature, Pullman says.… Read the rest

Confusing Politics with Conformity *

Sep 30th, 2003 | Filed by

‘Conservative’ can be just code for ‘different from me’.… Read the rest

Murder in the Name of Tradition *

Sep 30th, 2003 | Filed by

‘The justice system will come down on you like a ton of bricks’ for so-called ‘crimes of honour.’… Read the rest

The Virtue of Innovation and the Technological Imperative

Sep 30th, 2003 | By Andrew Apel

The rise of the precautionary principle in public policy and international
relations has called into question the role technological innovation should
be allowed to play in society. [1] According to the precautionary principle, no
novel technology, regardless of its benefits, should be deployed if it poses
risks to human health or the environment. [2] Under some interpretations
of the principle, these risks need not even be testable hypotheses, but may
merely be posited. [3] In the latter case, the principle merely
says that technological innovation is too dangerous to be allowed.

Critics of technological advance have also invented a doctrine which is antithetical
to the precautionary principle, and dubbed it the ‘technological imperative.’
In … Read the rest

Bubble Car Blues

Sep 29th, 2003 8:35 pm | By

This is what you get when ‘offensive’ is the shut-up word of the day. You get archbishops complaining that the BBC is reporting on the church, and equating criticism with hostility and bias.

But there are clearly elements or individuals, mainly – as far as I can tell – within news and current affairs, who seem to approach the Catholic Church with great hostility. Certainly the Catholic community is fed up seeing a public service broadcaster using the licence fee to pay unscrupulous reporters trying to re-circulate old news and to broadcast programmes that are so biased and hostile. Enough is enough.

So – what would a friendly and unbiased report on the Catholic church look like then? An admiring … Read the rest

BBC ‘Hostile’ to Catholic Church? *

Sep 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Archbishop equates criticism with hostility, calls it offensive.… Read the rest

Bernard-Henri Lévy Asks Who and Why *

Sep 29th, 2003 | Filed by

‘…is terrorism the bastard child of a demonic couple: Islam and Europe?’… Read the rest

Simon Schama Introduces Roy Porter *

Sep 29th, 2003 | Filed by

A history of ‘the long, vexed relationship between the body and the rest of us.’… Read the rest

Honour Killing Regret *

Sep 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Father kills daughter for relationship with Christian.… Read the rest

Look on This Picture, and on This

Sep 28th, 2003 9:43 pm | By

There is an interesting exercise in compare and contrast in reading two of the obituary essays on Edward Said: one by Christopher Hitchens and the other by Alexander Cockburn. Hitchens’ is profoundly admiring, affectionate, grieved, as well as carefully honest about Said’s faults. Cockburn’s is unequivocally admiring and affectionate, but he is oddly enthusiastic about Said’s thin skin. Both Hitchens and Cockburn mention the subject, but only Hitchens expresses reservations as well as admiration:

Edward had a slight tendency to self-pity, and the same chord was struck even in the best of his literary work, which often expressed a too-highly developed sense of injury and victimhood…Yet he was famously thin-skinned and irascible, as I have good reason to remember, if

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Second Stanza

Sep 28th, 2003 8:56 pm | By

And then fashion, chapter two. (You’ll think I’m obsessed. But then, it’s so important, isn’t it. We could label almost anything fashion. We learn from each other, we teach each other, and the more we learn and teach the better, yet it’s possible to call any of that teaching and learning ‘fashion’.) There is a very interesting interview with Terry Eagleton in the Independent, in which fashion plays a large though not quite explicit part.

But isn’t this a trend of his own making? The elusive pleasures of Barthes, Derrida, Foucault et al would surely have remained safely obscured from the masses if Eagleton’s passionate primer hadn’t burst on to student bookshelves and into their brains. “Well, I don’t think

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Follow That Herd

Sep 28th, 2003 8:25 pm | By

This column by David Aaronovitch raises a lot of perennially interesting and chronically unanswerable questions. What is fashion? Who is fashionable? According to whom? In what circles? Who gets to decide? Does it matter?

This question comes up a lot on B&W, not surprisingly. Well it would, wouldn’t it, since we take ourselves (self-flatteringly enough) to be fighting fashionable nonsense, and since we have a fashionable dictionary. Clearly we think we have some idea of what’s fashionable. But equally clearly we’re using the word in a pretty narrow sense, or at least to apply to a pretty narrow population. We’re not talking about runways and models fashion, nor about best-seller list, this week’s top-grossing movie, Top Forty, hit tv show-fashion. … Read the rest

Tartan Hot Pants at the Tate Modern *

Sep 28th, 2003 | Filed by

Fashionable where? In what circles? David Aaronovitch wonders.… Read the rest

Ill-served by his Acolytes *

Sep 28th, 2003 | Filed by

Terry Eagleton thinks it’s politically catastrophic that cultural theory refuses to engage the big issues.… Read the rest

Are Aesthetic Preferences Influencing Science? *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Scholar argues that non-native species are not necessarily bad, and causes a row.… Read the rest

Immunization Down, Measles Up *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Ill-founded fears of MMR jab could result in epidemics of dangerous diseases.… Read the rest

Sisterhood is Powerful *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Elisabeth Nietzsche embodied everything her brother disdained, and she continues to warp his legacy.… Read the rest

Hitchens on Said *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

A moving, emotional tribute, that discusses flaws as well as virtues, but with emphasis on the latter.… Read the rest

Williams on Truth *

Sep 27th, 2003 | Filed by

A review of Bernard Williams’ last book.… Read the rest