How ‘Broken Britain’ became a broken record
There’s nothing original in David Cameron’s phrase, which has been spouted for years by tabloids, celebs and politicians.
Looking into the native Heart of Darkness
Contrary to the wild claims of the ‘Broken Britain’ brigade, the Edlington child assaults were exceptional, not typical.
Why Elizabeth Wilmshurst is not my hero
Trusting lawyers to decide when wars are illegal also means trusting them to decide when wars are legal. That’s called tyranny.
Why don’t they just hang Blair and have done with it?
The shrillness and rank stupidity of the anti-Blair hysteria around the Iraq inquiry echoes the way Saddam was monstered to justify the war.
|Tuesday 2 February 2010|
A bleary-eyed attitude to alcohol research
It is time we started evaluating studies on the effects of booze on their merits rather than on who happened to fund them.
The fag-end of the New Labour government
As it heads for possible defeat in a General Election, what is Labour’s big idea? To ban smoking all over again.
The war on Dr Wakefield: only 12 years too late
Yes, Dr Andrew Wakefield’s MMR-autism theory was dishonest, but he’s not the only one to blame for the great vaccine scare of the past 12 years.
|Wednesday 3 February 2010|
Why Ireland needs a new politics
The farcical devolution talks at Stormont should remind us of the need to replace the exhausted institutions, both north and south.
Stop perverting Anne Frank’s diary
Banning the diary from schools because she wrote about sex is bizarre. But so are the attempts to turn it into a guide to life.
On the Equality Bill, the pope has a point
If you believe in freedom of association, then you must accept the right of private institutions to discriminate.
‘We’re afraid of our kids, and we’re afraid for them’
Anthony Horowitz, author of the bestselling teenage spy novels, talks to Jennie Bristow about vetting and the poisoning of adult-child relations.
|Thursday 4 February 2010|
The first step: admit drinking is normal
Yes, we need a better drinking culture: one where alcohol consumption is not seen as a social problem.
How to ensure a lizard always gets in
As the Australian experience shows, so-called Alternative Voting obscures rather than expresses the democratic will.
The IPCC: a Vatican for the twenty-first century?
The problem with the IPCC is not that some of its science is dodgy, but the fact that it elevates science per se above politics and democracy.
|Friday 5 February 2010|
Does anyone believe in Danny Dyer?
In a programme that was as much about the much-mocked cockney as UFOs, Dyer showed an unidentified side of himself.
John Terry: let the love rat keep the armband
The England captain may have been a two-timing shit to his wife, but that’s a bad reason for Fabio Capello to sack him.
The politico-porn behind the presidential race
From libidinous Bill and crazy Hillary to the narcissistic John Edwards, Game Change shines a glorious, gossipy light on American politics.
|Monday 8 February 2010|
Precious: a new kind of ‘blaxploitation’
It’s tipped to win Oscars, yet Precious is black-trash porn designed to titillate Oprahites and Hollywood liberals.
Is the world really poorer without Bo?
The death of tribal languages is sometimes a good thing, revealing the itchy dynamism of human society.
The retarded state of American politics
With Republicans pandering to the hard right and Democrats labelling their liberal critics ‘retards’, the US political scene is in a weird state of stasis.
|Tuesday 9 February 2010|
Get ready for the annual Meryl Weep
It is right and proper that Meryl Streep hasn’t won an Oscar since Sophie’s Choice in 1982. But just try telling her fans.
Let’s pick apart this politics of doom
‘Climategate’ confirms what many of us already knew: that claims of future catastrophe are political, not scientific.
Why the John Terry affair kicked politics off the pitch
Welcome to CeleBritain, where more of us seem to care passionately about who is England football captain than which dullard politician is PM.
|Wednesday 10 February 2010|
You need more than rugby to bury Apartheid
Clint Eastwood’s Invictus reproduces the euphoria of South Africa's 1995 Rugby World Cup win, and many of its illusions too.
Who’s really exploiting children on the Web?
Under the cover of ‘protecting kids’, censorious groups are demonising the internet as a dark and dangerous place.
Advocacy research: what a filthy habit
New research suggesting ‘third-hand smoke’ is a major health hazard was spurred by policy, not hard science.
MPs at work are above the law, and rightly so
The post-expenses-scandal idea that MPs are ‘nothing special’ is another way of saying that the public’s choices and desires are nothing special.
|Thursday 11 February 2010|
Raising awareness, denigrating the audience
Hollywood’s post-Philadelphia love-in with all things gay has less to do with equality than with feeling superior to the redneck masses.
It is the liberal elite that feels tortured
Why has torture become a flashpoint political issue today when it was so flagrantly ignored in the past?
Building a fortress around British academia
A new report shows just how devastating, irrational and unfair are the UK’s restrictions on international students.
Palin: if she didn’t exist, they’d have to invent her
It is the Democrats’ deep-seated disdain for the masses and the Republicans’ continued state of disarray that allows Sarah Palin to thrive.
|Friday 12 February 2010|
Haneke: films for middle-class masochists
The director is popular with the arthouse crowd because he gives their prejudices a gloss of seriousness.
Cheated out of the ‘Fight of the Decade’
Mayweather v Pacquiao fell apart over drug-testing – but there are much more effective ways to bend the rules.
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to
Everyone’s surprised that Gordon Brown will reportedly cry on TV, yet New Labourites have been blubbing publicly for years.
When the times they were a-changin’
With her memoir of a rebellious youth well spent, Suze Rotolo proves she is so much more than that girl on the cover of Bob Dylan’s second album.
|Monday 15 February 2010|
ID cards: there’s more than money to lose
Yes, the UK identity-card scheme is costly and clunky, but the main reason to oppose it is in the name of freedom.
Not robbing the rich or helping the poor
If a ‘Robin Hood’ tax on financial speculation is so radical, why are world leaders paying lip service to it?
Rescuing adult authority in the twenty-first century
Parental determinism – the idea that parenting skills shape the future – makes Stalin’s economic determinism seem almost subtle by comparison.
|Tuesday 16 February 2010|
The mad myth of Israeli organ theft
The sacking of Baroness Tonge was not the work of any Jewish lobby, but of Britain’s own fearful and impotent political elite.
An Emergency Meeting in that pub?
The BNP made their ‘big decision’ in the pub where I learnt karate and watched Sunday lunchtime strippers.
First they came for the neo-fascists...
The cajoling of the racist BNP to change its constitution should alarm everyone who believes in free association.
NATO’s offensive: a model of how not to win a war?
The bizarre notion of giving your enemy advanced warning of an assault reveals much about the West’s self-defeating adventure in Afghanistan.
|Wednesday 17 February 2010|
The 10 craziest Facebook groups
FB may have hundreds of millions of users, but judging by its campaign groups it won’t change the world anytime soon.
The creation of a new Greek myth
Guy Rundle visits the troubled country’s capital to try to find the truth behind the much-caricatured crisis.
The ‘taboo’ they just can’t stop talking about
Article after article after article now tells us that human overpopulation of the planet is the Great Unmentionable. Hmm, something doesn’t add up.
|Thursday 18 February 2010|
Saving the planet, killing the passion
Reports about ‘eco-quarrels’ causing relationship breakdowns show how green-think can poison human relationships.
Afghanistan: why there’s no anti-war movement
The lack of public protest against the current conflict has its roots in the inadequacy of opposition to the Iraq war.
Ray Gosling and the problem with euthanasia
A compassionate society should accept that mercy killings take place. But that doesn’t mean publicly sanctioning them.
America, we need to talk about Jamie
Once upon a time, you kicked us Brits out when we tried to tell you how to run your affairs. It’s time to do the same with Jamie Oliver.
|Friday 19 February 2010|
A Single Man: all style, no substance?
With its ruminations on death, modernity and sentiment, there is more to Tom Ford’s directorial debut than some critics suggest.
The Brit Awards: nostalgic for nostalgia
With the pop stars being either old or imitating a time when nostalgia was in, the ceremony was a postmodern pastiche.
Haves and have-nots remain leagues apart
To make English football more competitive requires a massive redistribution of wealth, not a fourth place play-off.
Let’s make this an age of abundance, not austerity
Prosperity’s critics are demonising material desires and calling for governments to elevate happiness over growth. It’s time to fight back.
|Monday 22 February 2010|
The spurious ‘battle of the economists’
A verbal war fought out in the letters pages of the British press has revealed the vacuity of economic debate today.
The PCC is no match for the witch-hunters
The PCC’s ruling on Jan Moir didn’t cause much fuss because the job of censuring her had already been done.
In defence of ballsy WAGs
Money has always been a prime reason for marriage, so why are working-class women who wed wealthy footballers seen as vulgar?
What are these wimps doing in Downing Street?
The real problem is not Brown’s behaviour but the therapy culture’s cultivation of self-styled victims who experience everything as ‘bullying’.
|Tuesday 23 February 2010|
An alternative green and pleasant land
Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem celebrates a raucous, rebellious England over contemporary conformity.
Is this Food, Inc. or Monsters, Inc?
An Oscar-nominated documentary about America’s food industry is simply ‘outrage porn’ for organic eaters.
Turning peer review into modern-day holy scripture
The treatment of peer-reviewed science as an unquestionable form of authority is corrupting the peer-review system and damaging public debate.
|Wednesday 24 February 2010|
What’s so progressive about sex education?
The idea that the sex-ed curriculum is pure and neutral, in contrast to faith schools’ alleged bigotry, is nonsense.
Government ads: made to make your eyes water
‘Advertising is based on one thing: happiness’, says Don Draper. Not for the British government, it isn’t.
Yes, the Tories might well be worse than New Labour, but…
...mostly because it appears they could be even more full of New Labourite nonsense.
|Thursday 25 February 2010|
Why we still love the ‘man in black’
A radio series on Johnny Cash explains why this singer of dark’n’moody country songs still lives in our affections.
Why I’ve fallen for the Winter Olympics
It’s a bunch of sports that Brits don’t understand, yet our sports columnist finds himself glued to events in Vancouver.
Have Italian judges ‘broken the internet’?
Yes, the Italian decision on Google was mad, but many of the British politicians slating it also have a dire track record on freedom of speech.
|Friday 26 February 2010|
When indie music was truly independent
Death to Trad Rock, John Robb’s splendid recollection of the noisenik experimentalism of the Eighties and early-Nineties indie music scene, is not just nostalgia for fortysomethings – it’s a timely reminder of less sanitised, conformist times.
Racialising the playground
A brave new book challenges the introduction of anti-racist policies in British schools, arguing that they blow everyday spats out of proportion and split kids along ethnic lines.
A curious blend of doom and optimism
Veteran green Stewart Brand’s new book proves a surprisingly useful source of arguments and facts against green dogmas. But critics of environmentalism should still be wary of him.
It’s better to be a dissatisfied human than a satisfied pig
It sounds like an unquestionably good idea, yet officialdom’s promotion of happiness and wellbeing is driven by disdain for economic growth and a penchant for conformism.
A deserter from the battle of ideas
In his new book, heavyweight economist Joseph Stiglitz imagines he is making a profound contribution to the debate about the recession. In truth he offers only shallow and rehashed arguments.
The pub bore of British letters
Martin Amis’s complaint that he is treated badly by the British press is bizarre. Even his painfully bad new novel The Pregnant Widow – full of tits, Islam and pseudo-poetry – has been slavishly well-received.
Why Darfur is everyone’s favourite African war
Rob Crilly’s new book is a fine work of reportage, challenging the myths and misunderstandings that surround Darfur and exposing how celebrity campaigners intensified the conflict.
A depletionist view of history and humanity
David Willetts is one of today’s very few intellectual parliamentarians, which makes the fact that he has now written a neo-Malthusian, generation-bashing book all the more depressing.