Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trump time

I am not an American citizen, so I have no right to criticise the choice of president the American people made in November 2016; except to take on the role of critical friend of the office whose holder has some … Continue reading

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Why do the people?

One by one, rich Western democracies have been undergoing voters’ revolts against the status quo: populist insurgencies overturning party political norms and taking bites out of allegedly uncaring, washed-up governing elites. 

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Scots vote

Three things about the forthcoming Scottish referendum seem wrong to me.  First, what about the immense worldwide Scottish diaspora?  Don’t they all deserve a vote, too?  Second, if the UK is the real issue, why don’t we English (and Welsh … Continue reading

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Eh bien! C’est moi!

Political invective knows no boundaries, of course, but Latin countries bring their own particular spices to the feast.  Here is a list of things Talleyrand was accused of being at various stages of his long and lucky life (1754-1838), shown … Continue reading

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Poems by Rumi

Until last month, I confess, I had never even heard of the Persian poet and Sufi mystic Jalal ad-Dïn Muhammad Rumi, ‘Mawlana‘ (1207-1273).  I am indebted to Estelle Gillingham for her recently quoting the great philosopher online.  From Rumi’s extensive … Continue reading

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Moliere breakfasts with Louis XIV

A plum: the great French playwright Molière gets an unexpected and extraordinary benefit from someone else’s misjudgement: an anecdote from Madame Campan‘s memoirs of the French court: Louis XIV and Moliere, via Wikipedia

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The next war

War is the Theatre of the Unexpected.  As soon as battle begins, it comes as an unpleasant surprise to discover that the enemy has some advantage that we didn’t know about till now. This is the kind of surprise that … Continue reading

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Revolution checklist

The Arab Revolt presently convulsing various countries is following a familiar script, albeit one with local variations: it has been refined in turn by England (1640 – 1660), France (1789 – 1800), Russia (1917), Ethiopia (1974 – 1977), Iran (1979) … Continue reading

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Royal timeline

‘Long live our noble queen’, we sing. But death comes for monarchs too. The death of Elizabeth II (born 1926) will be pivotal. She is now 85 years old and the heir to the throne (born 1948) is 62. His … Continue reading

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Milibands and media

The media aspects of the election of Ed Miliband as Leader of the British Labour Party are already depressing. Three quick observations:

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