The fairness of the election

Across Europe, there is alarm not just about what happens on election day in the US, but about American democracy itself. Fewer than one in 10 think the US election will be free and fair. Yet large numbers of Europeans confess they don’t know whether Biden would be good for the world. Perhaps Trump’s legacy …

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Siri

Every tech company with voice-activated computer assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant promises to protect privacy. But it turns out that Apple has been allowing its Siri voice assistant to transmit highly personal recordings of people without their knowledge as part of a project that transcribed portions of Siri …

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Leftovers of slavery

Britain is “descending into a cultural war zone”, said Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express. “Bombarded with continual accusations of bigotry and bias”, our institutions are “surrendering to the woke fanatics”. The BBC decreed that “Rule, Britannia!” and “Land of Hope and Glory”would be played, but not sung at the Last Night of the Proms, …

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Does this feel familiar?

Drumbeats of Doom France has a new political buzzword: “ensauvagement”, meaning “descent into savagery”. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, has long used it to depict a country she claims is under siege by criminal violence she blames on immigration. And, after a spate of violent incidents this summer, the term …

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Social proximity

I find the welcoming rituals of my sons’ generation exotically warm. Young men dole out back-slapping ‘bro-hugs’. Girls treat friends of both sexes to lingering full-body embraces. The trouble is, they’re still at it. I’d bet the surge in Covid cases among the under-25s has come about because they are habitually touchy-feely. ‘It’s the girls,one …

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America – land of massive inequality

The top 1% of Americans have taken $50 trillion from the bottom 90%.  This has been done by way of unemployment, scant benefits, unfair tax laws, and lopsided investment and political give-aways of our money. Now, the RAND Center has put a number on just how much wealth the top 1 percent has stolen from …

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Addendum to yesterday’s post: Unhappy teenagers

Britain has the least happy teenagers in Europe,  at least that’s what a new survey by The Children’s Society tells us. Why might this be? The charity’s chief executive, Mark Russell, believes he knows the reason. It’s down to “the increase in child poverty”, he says. There are two big problems with this explanation. The …

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The holocaust was not only about Jewish people

When you read about the Holocaust consideration is mainly given to anti-semitism.  Added is often the information that “millions of others” were also killed. In reality Nazi racism extended to Roma and Sinti people, (Gypsies, as they are otherwise known).  In the former Czechoslovakia 90% of the Roma and Sinti people were murdered, and those …

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The death of menswear

The middle market is the toughest part of every industry, not just fashion.  Even so, it’s striking how much pain is being felt in the “middle stratum” of US menswear, where “bankruptcies are piling up like pawed-over pairs of trousers at a clearance sale”. Names like Barneys, Brooks Brothers and J.Crew are all in “very …

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Too many people going to university?

This year, in the US, 30.2% of 18-year-olds have university places. Almost any sort of professional job requires a degree these days, and the graduate premium (the earning difference between those who did and didn’t go to university) is £10,000 a year on average. The trouble is, however, that “most people aren’t average” and, according …

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Conspiracy theories

The modern conspiracy theory is usually traced back to Augustin Barruel, a former Jesuit who argued in the 1790s that the French Revolution was the result of a clandestine intrigue dating back centuries, carried out by secret societies: Freemasons, Templars, Bavarian Illuminati, and so on. Barruel later expanded his theory to include the Jews, giving …

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London: Embracing tech distancing

Commuters, as a tribe, tend to be “unloved”.  Victorians called them “the dark horde”. T.S. Eliot compared them to the souls in hell. But now suddenly we need them, desperately. “Come back, commuters. Rally to your city. It needs your fares, your rents, your Starbucks, your Prets, your nights on the tiles.” Without them, cities …

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