Big retail. No.2

The other day I commented on scanners in shops, the fact that they almost encourage shop-lifting, and the cavalier attitude of companies to “wastage” (or non-payment for goods by customers). Why do retailers shrug their shoulders? 1.  The purchase of scanners shows up on the balance sheet as depreciation, and the government has decreed that it …

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Brief update on British university grade inflation

An official British report has found that grades at more than 80% of universities have inflated beyond a level attributable to rising standards. Last year, 18% of students who got CCD or below at A level graduated with a first; 50% of students at Surrey University got a first; at Bristol, UCL and Durham, 2:2 …

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The age of rapid disruption, Part 2

These are some of the industries due to be overtaken by new technologyy in the next 5-10 years: – Hotels: Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties. – Artificial intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. Last year a computer beat the best Go-player …

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The conundrum of internship

What to think about the ubiquitous issue of internship? On the one hand taking on an intern from college (extraordinarily popular in America) gives the young person an introduction to commerce or politics and a transition to the real world. It allows the organisation to assess the person’s usefulness and adaptability without immediate commitment or …

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Thought for a special day

Epicurus would, were he alive today, strongly advise us to avoid getting distraught and upset about the state of the world, the ugly politics, the chaos, the partisanship, the rudeness and vulgarity that has been stoked by extremists, modern media and mutual intolerance. Even on this Christmas day this is a difficult thing to do, …

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Driverless cars: developing something because you can develop something

To The Guardian It was sad to see David Edmonds fall for the propaganda from Silicon Valley regarding driverless cars. This new technology will require that drivers be able to intervene, but it’s well known that the less you do something, the worse you get at it. So the less you drive, the less skilled …

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Giving the elderly a raw deal

It’s a major issue that every rich country has to deal with today: how to care for the swelling number of old people. And in Britain we’re dealing with it badly. Local councils have been squeezed of funding; residential homes are being sold to property developers; home services are closing. Allied Healthcare, one of the …

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Why we stopped trusting elites

“At the heart of successful liberal democracies lies a remarkable collective leap of faith: that when public officials, reporters, experts and politicians share a piece of information, they are presumed to be doing so in an honest fashion,” writes William Davies, the sociologist and political economist. “To understand the crisis liberal democracy faces today – …

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Justice favours the wealthy

Justice is blind? No, it favours the wealthy. Left-wingers claim the elite always gets its way at the expense of ordinary citizens, says El Mundo. Last month, Spain’s supreme court outlawed an anachronistic tax – levied on homeowners who take out a mortgage – that has long been deeply unpopular. The tax, ruled the court, …

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Are the Democrats the party of the rich? And does it matter?

At least as far as the House of Representatives was concerned, this year’s midterm elections were a success for the Democrats. They gained a decent majority, won 40 seats off the Republicans, and won the popular vote by roughly nine million people in what was the highest midterm turnout since 1914. While not a complete …

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Is the internet destroying society?

I have to confess, I’m a big fan of technology. I own a MacBook Air, an iPad, a smartphone, a digital camera, a speaker system and much else besides. Every time Google or Apple announce the release of a new product, I’m always amongst the first to hear. But recently, I’ve come to the conclusion …

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Jordan Peterson and the rise of conservative pseudo-intellectualism

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian professor of psychology, who has recently become famous because of his critiques of political correctness, post-modernism and left-wing notions of cultural appropriation and gender theory. His rise to prominence has been sudden: he is now ubiquitous on television, newspapers and magazines. Peterson is particularly popular amongst educated young men, frustrated …

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Eating out in America

You are deep in conversation with your companion (in this case my wife) in a restaurant. The occasion is intended to be romantic, and you really could do without intrusions. When suddenly, actually four times during the meal, you are interrupted in mid-sentence by the waitress: “Is everything o.k?; “Have you got everything you need?”; …

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