A poem

Thoughts on attending an exhibition of John Constable’s painting at the National Gallery in Washington                 One knows only too well that landscape paintings hide             Unseen miseries, unhappiness and early death.             Yet here’s Old England, on the cusp of change,             Captured immortally by the painter’s brush,             The rustic face …

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A hot dog takes 36 minutes off your life

Every hot dog a person eats shortens their life by 36 minutes, according to new research. Experts at the University of Michigan said that the 61 grams of processed meat in the hot dog results in 27 minutes of healthy life lost. “Then, when considering the other risk factors, like the sodium and trans fatty …

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More on ataraxia

The British philosopher and author Prof AC Grayling comments that “Passion suggests something active to us,” he says. “But if you look at the etymology of the term, it’s passive – it’s something that happens to you – like love or anger or lust – that was visited on you by the gods. Unlike passion, …

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Health again: privatising the NHS

Yesterday, I posted a comment in praise of the British National Health service. Polls show that British people overwhelmingly oppose the privatisation of the National Health Service, which has been surreptitiously proceeding under the right-wing Tory government. In 2017 a YouGov survey found that 84% were against it, and I suspect that that opinion hasn’t …

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Drug prices in the UK and the US

Britain’s medicine prices are among the lowest in the world, thanks to the NHS’s buying powe and the tough value-for-money tests imposed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. This is a major bone of contention. US prices are 2.5 times higher than ours, and Donald Trump thinks that Americans are “subsidising” low …

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Long live the fair sex

Last autumn 1,070 women won undergraduate places at Oxford University, compared with 1,025 men. The news provoked a snippy article in the New York Times complaining both about how slow Oxford (“the oldest university in the English-speaking world” as they sniffily termed it) had been getting to more than parity of the genders, and about …

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