Submitted by Alexander on 11 April 2013 - 5:57pm
We’ve all said in the past things we’d rather others didn’t remember at present. Some of those things were silly, some ignorant, some reflected our understanding as it was then but no longer is now.
The ability to look back at one’s past pronouncements and either wince or smile self-deprecatingly is a good human trait. It reflects a capacity for unbiased self-analysis and therefore a potential for self-improvement.
Submitted by Alexander on 10 April 2013 - 5:45pm
A woman was a sphinx without secrets to Oscar Wilde. God’s second mistake to Friedrich Nietzsche. Someone who’d rather be right than reasonable to Ogdon Nash. Then physiologists took over and described a woman as someone with XX chromosomes.
These days the first three definitions would be widely regarded as frivolous, condescending, possibly fascistic. And the fourth one isn’t just insufficient but quite possibly wrong.
Submitted by Alexander on 9 April 2013 - 6:32pm
Far be it from me to hold myself up as a model of anything. It’s just that, when looking for an illustration to a point made or about to be made, it takes less time to look up one’s own piece than someone else’s.
So on 16 December, 2011, a couple of days after Christopher Hitchens died, I wrote, without naming him, about his views on religion, which, along with his views on just about anything else, I find morally repulsive and intellectually feeble. However, I withheld such adjectives. This is what I wrote towards the end:
Submitted by Alexander on 8 April 2013 - 2:33pm
The news of Margaret Thatcher’s death brought a tear to my eye, and the demise of no other politician has ever had such an emotional effect on me.
Tributes from politicians and journalists are streaming in, and I’ve been listening to them on Sky News. Any of those people are much better qualified to write a proper obituary than I am, and many of them will do so. Such a task should indeed be entrusted to those who knew this remarkable woman, not to someone like me who only bumped into her at a couple of functions.
Submitted by Alexander on 6 April 2013 - 11:17am
Newly published archival data show that as early as the 1950s Robert Maxwell was investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being a Soviet spy. The conclusion was that he wasn’t, yet this conclusion was wrong.
Submitted by Alexander on 5 April 2013 - 12:23pm
Occasional fisticuffs were unavoidable in the neighbourhood where I grew up. After a few useful if painful lessons, one usually grasped the cardinal rule of street fighting: get the first punch in and keep punching, especially when facing a known bully.
On the somewhat larger scale of global politics, this sort of thing is called ‘pre-emptive strike’, but the principle is the same: hit’em first and hit’em hard. Chances are the first strike will also be the last.
Submitted by Alexander on 4 April 2013 - 12:21pm
Political leaders often have a weakness for spiffy aphorisms, which is partly why so many are attributed to them. Another reason may be that a politician’s saying is nowadays more likely to be preserved for posterity.
Submitted by Alexander on 3 April 2013 - 9:42am
The question came from a good-looking French girl, which focused my mind in ways similar queries posed by my fellow old codgers never would.
Why indeed? One of the explicit aims of the EU from its inception has been to counter America’s economic power. To that end the Union has been designed as a protectionist bloc… sorry, I mean as a free-trade area.
Submitted by Alexander on 1 April 2013 - 10:41am
The appointment of Paolo Di Canio as manager of Sunderland AFC has raised quite some controversy, and not because of any doubts about his football credentials.
Many supporters are appalled by his politics, and there isn’t much doubt about that either. For rather than trying to conceal his fascist views, Di Canio proudly wears them on his sleeve.
Submitted by Alexander on 30 March 2013 - 11:22am
It’s funny how faith leaders start rediscovering their faith when they stop being leaders.
When he was still the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey did much to contribute to aggressive secularisation (if only by not resisting it robustly enough). Amazingly secularisation is still called ‘liberal’ whereas in fact it’s the exact opposite of that.