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{ Category Archives } observations

…on tradition (or: Merry Christmas!)

Most people have an aversion to change that is strong, bordering on irrational. I remember several years ago my employer changed the width of the border on the left hand of one of our main web pages. I was flabbergasted by the vitriolic hate (e)mail we got from users. I can’t claim to be particularly good […]

Too early to say

There’s an apocryphal story according to which Zhou Enlai–China’s premier from 1949-76–was supposedly asked about the effects of the French Revolution. “It’s too early to say”, was his response. Leaving aside that the exchange didn’t happen, I think it’s a brilliant sentiment. It also seems on the brink of being extremely applicable. The 1919 Treaty of […]

The fifth estate?

A note: I started drafting this on Tuesday, but then got caught up in work and finished it today. Much ink has been spilt in recent weeks discussiong the extent to which the influence of the European Union (and specifically European Commission) over recent changes of government in Greece and Italy represent an undermining of […]

…maybe a little bit ethnocentric?

To complete the line of thought I started with yesterday’s post, there are now times that I encounter situations or books or ideas that make me think I might be becoming more conservative…or at the very least that I’m becoming a grumpy old man (an inevitability that I anticipate eagerly). As I’ve mentioned  before, one […]

Neither straight nor narrow, but…

When asked where I fall on the political spectrum, I never know how to respond. My best attempts at a summary–‘contrarian’ and ‘liberal grumpy old man’–are only a little more comprehensible than ‘mongoose civique‘. I remember that when I arrived in Washington, DC, as a freshman at Georgetown I found the experience politically jarring. I […]

…on book reviews

Some books apparently demand review over and over and over again. I suspect it’s no coincidence that many such books cover seemingly sensational topics and end up being rather dull. I’ve noticed this with ‘ground-breaking’ technology books, like Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch, Eli Parsier’s The Filter Bubble, or Don Tapscott & Anthony Williams’s Wikinomics. The irony has never […]

…on an unanticipated ill of the EU

I apologise in advance for what will no doubt be rather jumbled thoughts. Andrew & I have been watching the second season of Downton Abbey, which takes place during the First World War. At the same time, I’ve been reading a lot about the current moves to dismantle or diminish various public services in the […]

Taking the long view (updated)

Así se expresa uno de los más grandes artistas de nuestra época: Rodin. (So says one of the greatest artists of our time: Rodin) –Mexico City’s cathedral website Rodin, of course, died in 1917. Say what one will about the failings of the Church–and I won’t deny that it has failings–one must admit that it […]

On grandeur

In 2003, just before I moved to England, a bunch of us went to Washington for what is anachronistically called ‘sailing weekend’. Breakfast at the Supreme Court. Lunch in the Senate. Tea at the Library of Congress. Lunch at the Cosmos Club. Things like that. It was all delightful, of course. But two parts of […]

On suburbs (part 2: history)

Oh dear. In my first suburbs post, I forgot to include the most deeply-seated of my prejudices: history. Viz., the history of London, which I studied for my doctorate. Though it may seem odd, I actually started studying early modern London because of my interest in modern American urban development, and before I got my […]