Military-style guns – why do they need them?

”Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”  So exclaimed Beto O’Rourke during the recent Democratic primary debate, endorsing the idea of mandatory buy-backs of assault weapons. It has become “the newest purity test” for Democratic candidates, but have they thought about the consequences of enforcing such a policy? “There could be as …

Continue reading ‘Military-style guns – why do they need them?’ »

Is this the end of the democracy experiment?

I have a degree in Modern History, a subject weakly valued by American employers (don’t get me started!). One of my university tutors, Theodore Zeldin, was a simultaneous translator at the Nuremberg trials and a world expert on the great slump and the rise of Hitler. He spoke thirteen European languages, and  personally knew and …

Continue reading ‘Is this the end of the democracy experiment?’ »

Glasses are forbidden

Tokyo 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, …

Continue reading ‘Glasses are forbidden’ »

Religious freedom

I have resurrected the following  two year old news item because it has relevance for Epicureanism, the rights of women and the irrationality of outdated religious practice: “A national conversation is needed in Sweden about “where the limits of religious freedom lie”.  Judging by the stunt in 2018, pulled by the conservative newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, it …

Continue reading ‘Religious freedom’ »

Will we see the effective end to this “ industry”?

Arnold Donald, the CEO of the world’s largest cruise line, thinks his industry is getting a bad coronavirus rap. COVID-19 hotspots on seven of his now shut-down Carnival cruise ships have left 39 dead. But Donald has been busy insisting that “a cruise ship is not a riskier environment.” His vessels, says Donald, more resemble …

Continue reading ‘Will we see the effective end to this “ industry”?’ »

Stealing from the young in Britain

Pity the young of this country: their future prosperity and career prospects are being sacrificed in a lockdown primarily designed to save the elderly. That narrative of intergenerational injustice is one we keep hearing. But it’s  nonsense to suggest pensioners will be getting “an unmerited free ride during the country’s slide into recession”. The countless …

Continue reading ‘Stealing from the young in Britain’ »

Woman in England sold by her husband

“On Saturday the 7th instant, the inhabitants of this city (Carlisle, Cumberland, England, United Kingdom) witnessed the sale of a wife by her husband, Joseph Thompson, a local farmer who was married in the year 1829, to his present wife. “She is a spruce, lively, buxom damsel, apparently not exceeding 22 years of age, and …

Continue reading ‘Woman in England sold by her husband’ »

Living in ancient Rome: give thanks for modern life

Juvenal described life in an ancient Roman tenement, and in the winding, crowded, brawling, filthy streets below: “Think now about all those other perils Of the night; how high is it to the roof up there From which a tile falls and smashes your brains. How many times broken, leaky jars Fall from windows; how …

Continue reading ‘Living in ancient Rome: give thanks for modern life’ »

The wild animal trade in China

Teams in China are racing to discover which wild animal at a Wuhan food market was the source of the corona virus:  snakes, pangolins or bats? We don’t know yet. What is clear is how seriously China is now clamping down on the trade in wildlife. Recently, the country’s highest authorities enacted a permanent ban. …

Continue reading ‘The wild animal trade in China’ »

Contentious comment of the month

History repeating itself In the 19th Century the United States expanded its borders to the PacificOcean, and in the process killed tens of thousands of native Americans, herding the remainder into the most dismal, waterless and unproductive land.  Then they signed treaties that, to this very day, are being ignored and broken, something to do …

Continue reading ‘Contentious comment of the month’ »

The decline of customer service

The service industry was meant to be the “engine” of our economy.  Whatever happened?  Where did “service” disappear to? Supermarkets now want to charge you for service but get you to do the work yourself.   You pick from the shelves and often bag the goods yourself. One member of staff supervises six or eight …

Continue reading ‘The decline of customer service’ »

Foreign languages “protect” the brain

The theory that learning a foreign language has a protective effect on the brain has been boosted by a new study showing that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience less cognitive decline if they are bilingual. When a team at the University of Reading compared the mental abilities of bilingual and monolingual MS patients, they …

Continue reading ‘Foreign languages “protect” the brain’ »

Offer a compliment, or give the bad news first?

Question to agony aunt:  “When giving negative feedback, is it better to start with the admonition and end with a compliment, or vice versa?”.  (Gillian Peall, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK) First answer: “Definitely give the compliment first. Knowing you have done something right may make the negative feedback more acceptable. Giving the bad news first can …

Continue reading ‘Offer a compliment, or give the bad news first?’ »

The Shame of Child Poverty

The plight of impoverished children anywhere should evoke sympathy, exemplifying as it does the suffering of the innocent and defenseless. Poverty among children in a wealthy country like the United States, however, should provoke. shame and outrage as well. Unlike poor countries (sometimes run by leaders more interested in lining their pockets than anything else), …

Continue reading ‘The Shame of Child Poverty’ »

Why Americans are dying young

IAmericans’ lives are getting shorter. A new study has shown that life expectancy in the US, which rose steadily over the past half-century, has now fallen for three years running. The downward trend is the result of an alarming hike in mortality rates among those between the ages of 25 and 64. Americans in the …

Continue reading ‘Why Americans are dying young’ »

Half of UK 10-year-olds own a smartphone

Fifty per cent of the UK’s 10-year-olds owned a smartphone in 2019, according to a report by media regulator Ofcom.   The number of young phone owners doubled between the ages of nine and 10, which Ofcom dubbed “the age of digital independence”.  In addition, 24% of 3 and 4-year-olds had their own tablet, and 15% …

Continue reading ‘Half of UK 10-year-olds own a smartphone’ »

Gender bias

 Almost 90% of people are biased against women, according to a new index that highlights the “shocking” global backlash to gender equality.  The UN Development Programme (UNDP), which produced the findings, is calling on governments to introduce legislation and policies that address engrained prejudice. Despite progress in closing the equality gap, 91% of men and …

Continue reading ‘Gender bias’ »