Enlightened authoritarianism and the stench of liberal racism

Norman Geras has taken a well-aimed pop at former New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer, who in a Guardian Comment is Free article lambasts the western imperialist human rights industry for being, er, western and imperialist. Norm the political and moral philosopher highlights one of many obnoxious paragraphs from Kinzer’s piece, and in a couple […]

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Temperature proxies link solar activity with local climate

Given that the solar system’s primary energy source is the Sun, our local star is undoubtedly the ultimate driver of the Earth’s climate. But the Earth is a complex, dynamic system, and we have to ask exactly how solar activity exerts its influence on climate, over what timescales it does so, and whether the changes […]

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Are newspaper paywalls working?

Reports of the Thunderer‘s demise may be premature, going by a presentation from Guardian media editor Dan Sabbagh to the November meeting of the National Union of Journalists‘ London Freelance Branch. I didn’t get to attend that meeting myself, and so am basing this post on a piece by Matt Salusbury in the December issue […]

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Happy Yule!

Happy winter solstice! Here’s Werner Herzog to cheer you up… via JCW

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Solidarity

Today is International Human Solidarity Day. Oh yes. That is certainly not front page news, and neither, sadly, is the human tragedy unfolding in the Côte d’Ivoire, a west African nation of some 21 million souls in which there is a vicious political power struggle underway between a suit with military backing vying for the […]

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Molly & Mummers in Deptford

Here are a few photos from last Sunday’s Molly dance and Mummers play, held outside the Dog & Bell pub in Deptford, south London. Thus began the local yuletide celebrations. Bitterly cold day… compact camera… shaky hands. The Molly dancers – part of the world renowned Fowlers Troop & Deptford Jack in the Green – […]

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On God’s will, clean energy and Chinese dietary plans

According to the 30 November issue of the American Geophysical Union’s Eos newspaper, which a spluttering, sneezing, Washingtonian pigeon has this dismal morning delivered to my abode in the mother country, in November there was held a US congressional hearing on climate change. The meeting divided predictably along party lines, but also featured a little […]

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The One, His Work and His People

Commenting on Julian Assange may seem a little hypocritical of me, when I’m on record as having dismissed the importance of this one individual in the greater scheme of leaky things. But for some reason that for the moment escapes me, I cannot let pass without comment Assange’s absurd statements from prison of political defiance […]

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Is anthropology a science, and does it matter?

I have no knowledge of the internal politics of the American Anthropological Association, or the reason behind the organisation’s recent decision to “exclude from its new long-range plan the description of anthropology as a science”. Whatever the rationale, Norman Geras is right to describe the move as retrograde. Anthropology is in its broadest aspect the […]

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1.999 legs per capita

Statistics is now the sexiest subject around, says the sensual Swedish epidemiological number cruncher Hans Rosling. And he may well be right. Rosling introduces his BBC documentary “The joy of stats”, which was first broadcast yesterday, with an anecdote about a caller to a radio talk show in Stockholm who complained bitterly about government waste… […]

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