An act of extreme, wilful fecundity?
Why the birth of octuplets in California so speedily turned from a good news story into a finger-wagging morality tale.
The mother of all interventions
We should roundly reject the new UK report which argues that time-stretched parents are producing damaged children.
Why the British elite is so scared of babies
In arguing that it’s wrong to have too many kids, Jonathon Porritt has joined the eco-misanthropes who want to reduce human numbers.
|Tuesday 3 February 2009|
Yesterday’s anti-Zionism is today’s anti-Semitism
The head of the Community Security Trust responds to Frank Furedi’s essay on 21st-century anti-Jewish sentiment.
Treating life itself as a mental illness
The latest celebrity-fronted awareness campaign conflates everyday emotional turmoil with serious mental ill-health.
British museums: the Druids are at the gates
The demand that an ancient skeleton should be taken out of Avebury museum and buried shows the dangers of officialdom’s ‘cultural sensitivity’.
|Wednesday 4 February 2009|
Why the government can’t ‘cure’ obesity
There’s one major problem with the authorities’ obsessive focus on making us lose weight and shape up: it doesn’t work.
Frost/Nixon: Rocky for intellectuals
So what if Peter Morgan plays loose with the facts? He has produced that rare thing: a thrilling political drama.
Wild claims and wildcat strikes
The walkouts over foreign workers are neither evidence of a wave of xenophobia nor a re-emergence of trade union militancy.
|Thursday 5 February 2009|
Turning salt into Public Enemy No.1
Why has there been such gobsmacking conformity on the authorities’ bizarre demonising of the white stuff?
A secular witch-hunt in western England
In backing the suspension of a nurse who offered to pray for her patients, New Atheists have become the new inquisitors.
Sports stars strike a blow for dignity and liberty
The cyclists, tennis players and footballers taking a stand against the authoritarian, Kafkaesque anti-doping regime deserve our support.
|Friday 6 February 2009|
The kitchen is political
Jerker Jansson, Sweden’s Thinking Chef, cooks a lamb stew while lamenting the death of radicalism and solidarity.
ITV sport: putting the Tic Tacs into tactics
We should praise that pesky advert for Tic Tacs: it saved the nation from the agony of the Everton-Liverpool game.
The all-new Minder: a passable knock-off
It’s a nice little earner for Shane Richie, but the remake of the Eighties favourite takes a few ‘diabolical liberties’.
The hidden horrors of ‘austerity chic’
A recession could be good for us? The last time austerity ruled Britain, it increased ill-health and authoritarianism and dented community spirit.
|Monday 9 February 2009|
We’re no witch-hunters
The president of the National Secular Society responds to Nathalie Rothschild’s article on the suspended Christian nurse.
The new slave trade?
The term ‘trafficking’ depoliticises the debate about immigration and makes everyone into a pathetic victim.
Muslim alienation in the UK? Blame the Israelis!
Is it true that the war in Gaza has heightened community tensions here in Britain? PLUS: Brendan O’Neill on ‘Muslim anger’.
|Tuesday 10 February 2009|
Living in filth is no lifestyle choice
Sadhvi Sharma reports from Bombay on the reality of the slums that Prince Charles hailed as paragons of community life.
Burning questions about the bushfires
Guy Rundle asks if the fraying and isolation of communities in Victoria worsened the impact of the ferocious flames.
The MMR scare: from foolishness to fraud?
The latest shocking revelations about Dr Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper suggest there was more to it than skewed science.
|Wednesday 11 February 2009|
A return to wartime housing policies
What is Britain’s new vision for housing? Bribing council tenants to move into smaller properties to ‘make room’ for others.
Meryl Streep: ‘Our Lady of the Accents’
With its lemon-sucking overacting and lack of flair, Doubt misses an opportunity for high Catholic melodrama.
Now it’s a war on words
Free speech controversies involving Prince Harry, Carol Thatcher and Jeremy Clarkson show the new thought police are in danger of running riot.
|Thursday 12 February 2009|
Vote for me because I’m not the other guy
Joel Cohen reports from Israel on an election in which debate about policy came a poor second to pre-pubescent bickering.
Israel and the new politics of insecurity
The Israeli elections confirm the death of grand Zionist visions and the rise of new forms of fearful separatism.
Bashing the bankers will make you go blind
Everyone’s enjoying the two-minute hate against greedy bankers, but it is obscuring a proper, truthful understanding of the recession.
|Friday 13 February 2009|
Milk: a new blend of politics
Gus Van Sant’s praising biopic captures the pioneering gay politician’s skillful mix of idealism and pragmatism.
Celeries, socks and other footie missiles
As Liverpool fans recently proved, throwing objects on to the pitch is part of a rich tradition of terrace humour.
E certainly doesn’t stand for ‘evidence’
The UK government’s insistence on classing Ecstasy alongside heroin exposes the limits to its ‘evidence-based’ approach.
The downturn is a crisis of the real economy
Blaming selfish bankers, bridge-playing CEOs and greedy consumers for the downturn overlooks the larger systemic forces at work.
|Monday 16 February 2009|
Britain is not a ‘crowded theatre’
Foreign secretary David Miliband’s use of the ‘fire in a theatre’ argument against Geert Wilders was ahistoric and illiberal.
The Culture War that dare not speak its name
The Geert Wilders affair exposes an elite more interested in battling imaginary Islamofascists or Islamophobes than having an enlightened debate.
|Tuesday 17 February 2009|
Stuck in the counter-cultural cul-de-sac
Written at the start of the 1960s, Revolutionary Road – now turned into a film – foresaw the decade’s decline
Smoking out ‘deniers’ and ‘dissidents’
Anti-smoking activists are now comparing their critics to Holocaust deniers. It is a vile attempt to shut down debate.
Rule 18: be sceptical about ‘bad childhood’ reports
With so many shrill studies telling us that parents are selfish and uncaring, is it any wonder some children might feel a little insecure?
|Wednesday 18 February 2009|
Why I’m standing up for the right to fly
The co-founder of Modern Movement explains why they’re holding a pro-flight demo in London on Thursday.
Warning! These photos may be useful to terrorists
PHOTO ESSAY: In defiance of a law making it a potential crime to photograph police, spiked went cop-snapping in London.
It takes more than money to revive an economy
Why President Obama’s $787 billion recovery package won’t fire up the US economy — and might even make things worse in the long term.
|Thursday 19 February 2009|
The rise of scientific authoritarianism
The megalomania of James Hansen of NASA shows how ‘climate expertise’ can undermine democracy.
The left must stand up to anti-Semitism
An academic who specialises in anti-Semitism responds to Frank Furedi’s essay on 21st-century anti-Jewish sentiment.
Beware predatory prosecutors online
Laws ostensibly designed to protect children online are being used to punish them for sexual shenanigans or for ‘harassing’ their teachers.
|Friday 20 February 2009|
The Amish are more American than you think
Amish communities are often depicted as a monolithic ‘Other’ to modern society, but the truth is far more complex.
Chelsea: a Roman farce in west London
Abramovich’s sacking of yet another Chelsea manager once again emphasised the folly of dumping Jose Mourinho.
Mocking multiculturalism at the National
The controversial play England People Very Nice might be bawdily irreverent, but it ultimately conforms to Hampstead Liberal piety.
Injecting the mainstream with chimney-sweep chic
Media commissioners love Russell Brand because they think he’s the perfect combo of prole edginess and intellectual wit. Only he isn’t.
|Monday 23 February 2009|
Britain’s red light to overseas artists
Manick Govinda attacks government restrictions on the unfettered movement of artists into Britain.
MMR-autism scare: the truth is out at last
The ‘vaccine court’ in the United States, and its excellent expert witnesses, have finally slain and buried MMR junk science.
Jade, Diana and the myth of public hysteria
Commentators are made uncomfortable by Jade Goody because she’s a product of the degenerate celebrity culture that they helped to institute.
|Tuesday 24 February 2009|
Why It’s Not Our Fault. Honest.
A website designed to show the government offering ‘Real Help Now’ for the economy is an exercise in blame-avoidance.
What next for the British economy?
In order for the economy to recover and thrive, we need a revolution in political thinking and some serious risk-taking.
State-run banks won’t save Britain — or even Brown
There is seemingly no financial crisis so bad that it cannot be made potentially worse by the prime minister’s intervention.
|Wednesday 25 February 2009|
‘We have an extremely selfish population’
Ben Pile talks to a member of the UK Climate Change Committee — and to one of its staunchest critics.
Why is the BBFC so scared of arousal?
Film classifiers’ fear that they might be turned on by porn if made to watch it alone reveals their elitist prudishness.
Climate change and the return of original sin
Officials want us to observe a ‘carbon fast’. It’s further evidence that environmentalism is about managing human behaviour rather than nature.
|Thursday 26 February 2009|
Nowt so queer as folk
Brought up by parents who listened to Fairport Convention, I've always been suspicious of folk - until I heard Ranger3.
The science of sleep
As two BBC documentaries revealed this week, we really need those 40 winks; without them, we'd go mad.
Four fat myths about obesity and cancer
A new report from the World Cancer Research Fund recycles some highly dubious claims about our waistlines and health.
The cult of transparency is a threat to democracy
I’m opposed to the Iraq war and to Jack Straw. But he has a point when he says that not all Cabinet minutes should be published.
|Friday 27 February 2009|
Leave the hobby horses at the classroom door
Universities need to remember what they are there for: to provide students with the intellectual tools to understand the world, not to provide a platform for the partial interests of academics.
The death of community is greatly exaggerated
A new collection of thought-provoking essays challenges the idea that communities are falling apart, and puts the case for less official interference in public space.
‘The “evidence” doesn’t stand up to scrutiny’
Helene Guldberg, author of Reclaiming Childhood, tells Jane Sandeman about the instincts that encouraged her to investigate the parenting panic, and why her book has caused such a stir.
Instead of lecturing fathers about ‘doing their bit’, politicians would do better to understand the messy and complex reality of contemporary parenting.
An historian’s love/hate relationship with Uncle Joe
Simon Sebag Montefiore officially loathes the subject of his book, Joseph Stalin. Yet secretly, he also seems to find him – and the early revolutionary events he was involved in – entrancing and magnetic.
Sex, war and stupidity
In labelling Churchill as ‘ape-like’ and claiming that Timothy McVeigh was driven by ‘primate’ instincts, the authors of Sex and War hope to prove that war is an evolutionary trait. Their thesis is mind-blowingly dumb.
Stars in their eyes
Cosmo Landesman’s hilarious and compassionate memoir of growing up in a fame-obsessed, hippy household reveals more about celebrity culture than many a sociological tract.
From Nixonland to Obamaland
A thorough and absorbing account of how Richard Nixon took advantage of shifting political dynamics in the 1960s sheds new light on that era, and also on American politics today.
Energising the debate about climate change
Energise!, a brilliant manual for humanist futurologists, eschews the green ideology of misanthropy and restraint and instead puts the case for more human action to solve a human-made problem.
A shot across the bows of philistinism
What sets Denis Dutton’s lucid The Art Instinct apart from other books is not his attempt to use Charles Darwin to explain our cultural needs, but his insistence on both art’s universality and necessity.