The Good Husband Guide for 2020

Care of the Husband’s Person On 8 April 2010 the London Review of Books reviewed a 14th Century Parisian book of household management called The Good Wife’s Guide: A Medieval Household Book.   This is a compendium of medieval lore which aimed to instruct young wives how to be good, efficient, and obedient.  The following is …

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Management of tax and the deficit

The six big US tech firms. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Apple and Microsoft are accused of avoiding tax by shifting revenue and profits through tax havens or low-tax countries, like Ireland.  They are also accused of deliberately delaying payment of what tax they do end up paying.  Fair Tax Mark accuses Amazon of being the …

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Thanks, but no thanks for Menorah: Another intrusion of religion

“My mother-in-law is a right-wing evangelical Christian who voted for Donald Trump and thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old. She is also, frankly, not very insightful. “She just gave my family a menorah. We belong to a Jewish Humanist congregation, which pretty much sums up my beliefs—proud of my Jewish heritage but agnostic. My …

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A Humanist dilemma: a letter to the local newspaper

Reader: I know someone who, when she attends luncheons (both business and social), always announces she is a Christian and then asks people around her, “Would you be offended if I pray before the meal?” Often, she gets the attention of the entire group, and invariably they allow her to say grace without protest, regardless …

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How we should treat others – a seasonal exhortation

I suggest that anyone who is reasonably self-aware and seeking to follow in the footsteps of Epicurus should ask whether they have the following personal characteristics which I think are important for humanity.  We might think of them as areas to work on for the New Year where instinct tells them they are a bit …

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Glasses are forbidden

Thousands of Japanese women have taken to social media to share their experiences of being discouraged from wearing spectacles at work, since the practice was exposed in two recent reports. It turns out that a range of firms tell their female employees not to wear glasses, including a domestic airline that cites “safety” issues, retailers …

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Excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita:

“……..Virtuous people find it difficult to believe that such evil exists on earth. It’s proponents, moreover, often proclaim (if they have a degree of intelligence) teachings that are designed purposefully to win others to their side: teachings like “the greatest good for the greatest number” and “each according to his need, from each according to …

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Linguistic misunderstandings

When they hear the phrase “With the greatest respect…”, 68% of Britons think it means “I think you are an idiot”, while 49% of Americans interpret it as “I am listening to you”. When told “I’ll bear it in mind”, 55% of Britons assume it means “I’ve forgotten it already”, whereas only 38% of Americans …

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Oh, dear!

Common bottle nose Dolphins have a dominant right-hand side according to research by naturalists.  About 90% of all humans are also right- handed as are gorillas.  It appears, however, that a “right- hand” bias is stronger in dolphins than in humans. Wow!  The ice is melting, the seas are rising, the volcanos are doing what …

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Dementia misdiagnosed

Hundreds of thousands of older people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may, in fact, be suffering from a different disease.  According to groundbreaking new research, the condition, known as “Late”, affects a fifth of people over 85. Like Alzheimer’s, Late leads to memory loss, cognitive decline and mood disorders (although its progress tends to …

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A home is not a wallet: homelessness in the UK

“Most of the ills relating to our housing start with the morally reprehensible idea that it’s OK in a time of shortage to treat dwellings as mere investments. Yet when the Labour Party in Britain reasonably suggests holiday homes should pay double council tax, affluent owners whimper. Any suggestion of stiffer capital gains gets pearls …

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The apostrophe

To The Guardian I love Kingsley Amis’s response to a challenge about the usefulness of apostrophes: “Those things over there are my husbands.” Three different possible meanings. Bryan Morgan, Worksop, Nottinghamshire …and a butcher’s trick To The. Daily Telegraph: I once saw a notice outside our local butcher. It read “Sausage’s”. When I went in …

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People with more empathy might be sharpening divisions

You might think that a little more empathy would help to heal the divisions in US politics, but it could actually worsen the situation by increasing polarisation. A recent survey found that those with a disposition for “empathic concern”, one of several traits that make up general empathy, seem to be more politically polarised. They …

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How can we be more like Iceland?

How can we become more like Iceland? That’s the question we should be asking. This sub-Arctic nation of only 330,000 people beat England at soccer, along with Argentina. And the reason for its success? A national plan, introduced 20 years ago, to promote clean living. It was introduced in response to authoritative American research on …

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