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It’s not monotheism that’s the problem. It’s Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris is ‘invigorated by a new idea’, which seems preferable to some other things by which Mr Parris is known to be invigorated from time to time.

The trouble is that the source of his excitement doesn’t qualify as an idea, and neither is it particularly new.

Mr Parris has recently found himself involved in ‘a ground-breaking exploration of a massive problem’: God. The way he words the topic already contains the answer. To Mr Parris and his supper companions, God constitutes a problem, not the solution.

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Sports commentary in the service of ethnography

Much can be inferred about a nation by watching sports on its television.

Or at least this is my excuse for spending hours glued to the screen, what with the World Cup and Wimbledon overlapping this June.

Somehow I have to justify this waste of time by intellectualising it, pretending that I thereby study the cultural differences between England and France, where I happen to be at the moment.

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Juncker is beginning to look better and better

Generally, unless some cataclysmic event is under way, I avoid writing two consecutive pieces on the same subject.

However, I’m warming up to Jean-Claude so rapidly that a single article can no longer contain all the burgeoning affection.

The more he’s criticised, the warmer this emotion becomes, with both the personalities of his detractors and the nature of their arguments acting as Bunsen burners.

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Juncker for president: trust Dave to stand on a moot point

By combining a French Christian name with a German surname, Jean-Claude Juncker carries the very essence of the EU within him.

A Europe dominated by Germany, with France bringing up the rear and all other countries doing as they’re told, is the ideal towards which the EU strives.

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Russian disinformation about fracking: now there’s a surprise

‘Vodka’ and ‘samovar’ apart, the Russians have contributed mostly unpleasant words to the English language.

‘Pogrom’, ‘nomenklatura’, ‘apparatchik’, ‘collectivisation’, ‘golodomor’, ‘gulag’ all fill the darker niches of lexicon, each denoting something for which there’s no indigenous equivalent.

Of these, ‘disinformation’ can take pride of place, and there too no indigenous equivalent exists. ‘Strategic deception’ is the best we can do, and it’s still two words, not one.

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The madness of playwright Alan Bennett

This title, as you doubtless realise, is supposed to be consonant with the title of Bennett’s most famous play.

To achieve this phonetic effect, I had to compromise accuracy to some extent. For Bennett’s virulent attack on public schools isn’t so much mad as stupid. Even worse, it’s symptomatic of leftie thought, if you’ll forgive the oxymoron.

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Twitter is only a tool, and His Grace is the workman blaming it

Speaking to an audience with learning difficulties, otherwise known as our parliamentarians, the Archbishop of Canterbury attacked Twitter.

Social media, he said, have killed off thoughtful reflection. A sophisticated question can’t be answered in 140 characters.

Yes, it can, Your Grace – and sometimes even before it’s asked. Always provided, of course, that it’s the right question.

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Football as a yardstick of intellect

“Football is popular because stupidity is popular,” wrote the wonderful Jorge Luis Borges.

If Borges was right, and he usually was, then I have to admit to being stupid. For I like watching football almost as much as in my younger days I enjoyed playing it.

Over the years tennis has replaced football as my active sport, but even now I’d no more miss an England match in the World Cup than my own book launch. Certain things just have to be held sacred.

Alexander's picture

Modern politics breeds psychopaths (like Tony Blair)

Tony has regaled us with a long essay claiming that the escalating slaughter in Iraq has nothing to do with anything he and George did back in 2003. It would all have happened anyway.

This is a version of the defence often heard in our courts: It’s all society’s fault, gov.

The inexorable pull of forces beyond human control exculpates the murderer. He didn’t do it. It’s society that slashed the victim’s throat. Even if the knife wielder hadn’t been there, the throat would have been cut anyway.

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Clever Putin is using Abu Dua’s ISIS as a decoy

One has to give it to the KGB thug: he understands how the West works.

It’s not for nothing that The Art of War by the Chinese strategist Sun Tsu (6th century BC) is required reading at the KGB/FSB academy.

“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles,” taught Sun Tsu, and obviously Putin has learned that lesson well.


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