Alexander's blog

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The solicitous Dutch warn us in English

Amsterdam is lovely this time of the year, partly because it's half empty.

The Dutch, flying yet again, have all gone away on holiday, to be replaced by tourists from all over the world. Some of them are from Britain, and it's mainly for their benefit that the few Dutch who have remained at home have put up most helpful signs.

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None so deaf as those who won’t hear their own language

It is a matter of long-standing convention that someone making peremptory statements on language should himself use it well.

This, along with other long-standing conventions, no longer applies to the columnists regaling readers of The Times with their prose, and Oliver Kamm is a case in point.

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Let’s hear it for reconciliation

You like reconciliation. I like reconciliation. All God’s children like reconciliation.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II definitely likes reconciliation, for she made it the theme of her traditional Christmas speech.

The speech was full of glad tidings, but also some tidings that weren’t all that glad.

The good news was that Her Majesty didn’t announce her abdication, as had been mooted in the press.

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Just 365 shopping days left until next Christmas

Today is a special day in our post-Christian calendar.

Christmas sales are at a peak, and millions of people come together to worship and rejoice at the altar of the God of Acquisitiveness.

Shops are his churches, department stores are his cathedrals, Christmas sales are his sacraments and all the grex venalium besieging Oxford Street are his parishioners.

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Voting advice from the arch-Tory

“Don’t vote for David Cameron,” says the title of Tim Montgomerie’s article in The Times.

Thanks, Tim, I wasn’t going to anyway. But that piece of advice is odd, coming as it does from a man who’d vote for a Labrador, provided it sported a blue rosette on its collar.

So whom should I vote for? Nigel Farage? Nick Clegg? Ed ‘God forbid’ Miliband?

Turns out that’s not what Tim meant. What he meant was that we should vote not for Dave but for the Tory party, whoever happens to lead it. It’s not about personalities. It’s about “the core brand”.

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Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can really hurt you

A friend of mine wrote to me yesterday: “A sentence in this morning’s newspaper tells us all we need to know on this subject: ‘The RAF’s first transgendered fighter pilot is to have her own sperm frozen.’ (italics mine)”

Actually, this sentence is so multi-faceted that it works on many different levels, telling us all we need to know about more than one subject.

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If obesity is a disability, we aren’t human

By ruling that obesity is like any old disability, the European Court of Justice didn’t just abuse justice. It reduced man to the level of an animal, vegetable or mineral.

Discounting the minuscule number of those cursed with rare thyroid conditions, how do people become obese?

Any medical professional will tell you that the widespread abuse of bathroom scales is a result of people consuming more calories than they burn off. In other words, stuffing one’s face without exercising the rest of one’s body.

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Kim is irresistible

Nicely rounded feminine curves. Jet black hair. Smooth off-white skin. Enigmatic smile. Height that doesn’t tower over men. Naughty sexual past.

Americans in particular find Kim Jong-un hard to resist… What? No, of course I wasn’t talking about Kim Kardashian, that walking fertility symbol whose jutting attractions these days rank among the highest human achievements.

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How Jeffrey Sachs saved the world but failed to save Russia

If there is one thing that most economists, especially those of the Keynesian variety, have in common, it’s refreshing arrogance. This, in spite of their having failed to predict every economic disaster of modernity.

Moreover, when they tried the Keynesian response to the 1929 stock market crash, they instantly turned it into the Great Depression – without, however, suffering a dent in their self-confidence.

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Mea culpa

Isn't it annoying when it happens? In my today's blog I made a factual error, by claiming that Malala Yousafzi was shot dead by Taliban. In fact, she survived the shooting -- no thanks to the Taliban. I'll try to check my sources more carefully.

Anyway, I've now corrected the error:


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