All entries by this author

The Most Neglected Great English Poet? *

Oct 19th, 2003 | Filed by

Andrew Motion reviews Jonathan Bate’s ample and judicious biography of John Clare. … Read the rest

‘Out of Touch’ With What? *

Oct 19th, 2003 | Filed by

Iraqi exiles are out of touch with Ba’athist dictatorship and in touch with democracy – and this is a bad thing?… Read the rest

Good News for Indian Secularists *

Oct 18th, 2003 | Filed by

The crowd in Ayodhya was much smaller than expected this time.… Read the rest

Human Activities or Natural Causes? *

Oct 18th, 2003 | Filed by

Climate change has always happened, and the causes are not easy to figure out.… Read the rest

Matt Ridley on ‘Superweeds’ *

Oct 18th, 2003 | Filed by

All farming techniques have environmental benefits and drawbacks.… Read the rest

One Person’s Bizarre Degree is Another’s… *

Oct 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Listen, Tom and Nicole’s divorce is an important subject.… Read the rest

Martha Nussbaum Remembers Bernard Williams *

Oct 17th, 2003 | Filed by

‘his liberal-democratic sympathies made him eschew obscurity, seeking a style that could be grasped by anyone who was willing to face the issues along with him.’… Read the rest

Therapy Culture *

Oct 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Are we all fragile, powerless victims in need of continual professional support?… Read the rest

Having it Both Ways

Oct 16th, 2003 10:54 pm | By

This is a familiar, er, story.

But in writing Sylvia, he was aiming to tell a story “that was not dependent on the audience being interested in Sylvia Plath.” So Sylvia is not actually about a writer. Mostly, it’s about a talented girl who dries up and goes mad as a housewife struggling in the shadow of a powerful and successful man.

Yes, such movies never are. They never are ‘actually about a writer.’ So what is the point of them? I never can understand it. To give people some kind of bogus feeling of cultural something-or-other? To give them the illusion that they’ve read the writer in question’s books, or at least might as well have now that they … Read the rest

Therapy and Moral Panic *

Oct 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Is the emphasis on stress and counseling in universities teaching students to think learning is too much for them?… Read the rest

Neil Postman Remembered *

Oct 16th, 2003 | Filed by

‘He was expert in nothing. Therefore nothing was off limits.’… Read the rest

One Tributary of Darwinism *

Oct 16th, 2003 | Filed by

The geologist James Hutton wrote of adaptation and survival late in the 18th century.… Read the rest

Victimhood Envy *

Oct 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Anne Applebaum considers new books that claim the Germans were also victims in WW II.… Read the rest

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life *

Oct 15th, 2003 | Filed by

‘…even ruthlessly secularized activities can have a religious feel to them.’… Read the rest

How Natural Are These Disasters? *

Oct 15th, 2003 | Filed by

David Stanway looks at environmental degradation in China.… Read the rest

And Pets

Oct 14th, 2003 8:44 pm | By

This is a mildly amusing item. Or maybe it’s not all that amusing really, it just happens to amuse me, because a friend and I were chatting this morning about the relative merits of dogs and cats as pets and the relative merits of animals and humans for misanthropes like us.

The article considers it a scandal that people misdirect their affection onto animals instead of relatives and friends. Well but – be fair. Animals don’t argue. They don’t contradict. They don’t willfully misconstrue what we are saying and then shout at us for saying what we’re not saying. They don’t borrow our clothes. They don’t eat the last piece of cake we carefully stashed in the fridge (because … Read the rest

Pets I Mean Companion Animals *

Oct 14th, 2003 | Filed by

Do we spend too much money on them? Should we like them less and people more?… Read the rest

Woolly Jumpers and Even Woollier Language *

Oct 14th, 2003 | Filed by

The aim was to ‘reduce a text to a kind of fine powder of politico-sexual assumptions.’… Read the rest

Lie Back and Enjoy It

Oct 13th, 2003 9:47 pm | By

This is a hilarious piece. Katha Pollitt is pretty good at being hilarious. But of course she has good material here. Why are conservatives always bleating and moaning? Have they not noticed? Yo! Those heavy steel things in your hands? Those are the levers of power!

Why can’t they just admit it, throw a big party and dance on the table with lampshades on their heads? Why are they always claiming to be excluded and silenced because most English professors are Democrats? Why must they re-prosecute Alger Hiss whenever Susan Sarandon gives a speech or Al Franken goes after Bill O’Reilly? If I were a conservative, I would think of those liberal professors spending their lives grading papers on

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Damp Squibs

Oct 13th, 2003 4:30 pm | By

It’s a very handy thing, having a Fashionable Dictionary and a Rhetoric Guide. Because whenever people who have little or nothing of substance to say, resort to mere abuse instead, it’s useful instead of merely boring and time-wasting. You can just slide it into one or the other and hey presto, your correspondent has done a little work for you.

For instance, there’s ‘Meaningless Sarcasm’. Addressing your opponent (or rather the person you’re attempting to engage, who wandered off in boredom long ago) as ‘little Ms X’ or ‘little Mr Y’. Has the disadvantage of making one sound about seven years old, but if one is delusional enough, it passes for wit.

Or there’s that old favourite, ‘I’m embarrassed for … Read the rest