Alexander's blog

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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.

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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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Granny Yaga: The kind of book publishers hate and readers love

Publishers like pigeonholes: a book must slot neatly into the groove of a specific genre. Anything else, and promotion becomes difficult – if it takes more than two words to suggest the shelf in which the book belongs, reviewers and bookshop buyers may demur.

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Are Anglo-American champions of democracy in Iraq happy now?

There’s one result democracy is guaranteed to produce in the Middle East. When it’s on the march, people are on the run.

In this instance hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are fleeing south, a step ahead of the rapidly advancing jihadists led by the warlord Abu Dua. As they run, they’re pursued by a rapidly congealing tsunami threatening to sweep across the whole region.

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FN and the danger of single-issue politics

“Accidents will occur in the best-regulated families,” said Mr Micawber, one of the cleverest literary protagonists.

Dickens could have had the Le Pens in mind, and only the slight chronological divergence makes such an intention unlikely this side of prophetic prescience.

The founder and honorary chairman of Front National Jean-Marie and his daughter Marine, the current leader of the party, don’t seem to be seeing eye to eye on politics, ‘seem’ being the operative word.

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A word in favour of religious discrimination in schools

Education Secretary Michael Gove is upset, and Home Secretary Theresa May is upset he’s upset.

Apparently Islamic ideology has been imposed on Birmingham schools, turning them effectively into breeding grounds for fanatics, with bright if short-lived career prospects in suicide terrorism.

An investigation by Ofsted found that, rather than being an organic development, this was part of a concerted campaign by Muslims to change “the character and ethos” of our schools.

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Scotland’s independence? The c-word springs to mind

What do the USA, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil and all African countries have in common?

The answer is, they were all constituted in their present shape much later than Great Britain.

This now familiar nomenclature came into being in 1706 and 1707 when the Parliaments of England and Scotland passed the Acts of the Union, joining the two kingdoms into one.

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Education and business: news from the battlefronts of class war

A government-sponsored study recommends expanding reverse discrimination in university admissions.

According to Dr Claire Crawford, pupils coming from comprehensives should receive preferential treatment over those from selective schools.

Moreover, the worse the comprehensive the more preferential should be the treatment of its graduates. After all, good schools enjoy the unfair advantage of what Dr Crawford calls “teaching effect”.


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