2016: the greatest year ever

Let us begin with poverty. At the time, 2015 was an astonishing year. The global target had been to cut extreme poverty in half from the 1990 level, which was 37%. The actual level fell below 10% for the first time in history: little more than a quarter of the 1990 level. This was a […]

A unique industrial heritage under threat: The Croatian Railway Museum in Zagreb, Croatia

http://www.hznet.hr/hz_muzej_en/ The Croatian Railway Museum is a specialized technical museum with its headquarters in Zagreb. It is the only railway heritage institution in Croatia. Its activities include the acquisition, conservation, protection and presentation of vehicles, machines, railway equipment, documentation and other historical objects related to the genesis and development of the railway system in Croatia […]

LP Review: Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer

Seven Years in Tibet is a superb read. The autobiographical work of Heinrich Harrer provides an honest, perceptive, and perhaps unique account of pre-occupation Tibet. Harrer’s adventure over seven years is an enthralling story, an intriguing insight into the cultural, geographical, political, social, and ecumenical life of Tibet and its people in the period immediately before the Chinese […]

The Beeb, nudity, truth and the stirrup

History is supposed to be about telling the truth – and understanding the differences between facts and opinions.  It is obviously a matter of debate and opinion on what caused the First World War.  It is a fact that it was triggered by the assassination of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand.

There is something wrong with this cheese.

There is something wrong in France.  We English have always had a complicated relationship with our Gallic neighbours. For long we were bitter enemies, sworn to destroy each other. Then bitter friends, sworn to destroy each other. The English have always been berated by the French for boring food, sexuality of glacial temperatures, a passionless outlook […]

The Tobacco-Stained Torch of Liberty: Libertarians and the Smoking Ban

During debates on the smoking ban, freedom is often evoked by both sides. On the one hand, your smoker or smoking-supporter argues that surely they should have the freedom to smoke wherever they like. On the other, supporters of the ban counter that it is unfair to subject non-smokers to tobacco smoke, and all its inherent risks, against […]

Ban Shakespeare (Got any Shake?)

It is possible, readers, that you have noticed something: teenagers, just occasionally, like to rebel against authority. They like to do things that older people tell them are bad for them, and determinedly resist things which their elders suggest are worthy. This columnist has previously mentioned in passing the curious fact that almost no-one takes […]

Marijuana – Er, Performance-enhancing Drug?

Among the Drug War’s finer ironies is the treatment of marijuana by the world of sport, which has taken a deliciously schizophrenic view on the miracle/devil plant: It’s a gateway drug that dooms its users to a lifetime of apathy, ignorance, and nonproduction. It’s also a performance-enhancer, in the same category as steroids, and subject […]

Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized

To toke or not to toke? That has been the question springing up like whack-a-mole all over the country. The effort to legalize marijuana has won small battles, but despite record-setting support for legalization – 46 percent by the latest Gallup poll in Oct. 2010 – marijuana remains illegal in most of the country, including […]

Movie Review: The Iron Lady

In 1979, when the Labour government lost the confidence of Parliament, the PM called a general election. When the date was announced, the world’s media descended on the suburban home of the Leader of Opposition. The election was of interest internationally, because the Opposition was well ahead in the opinion polls, and the Leader of the […]