Opinion / Philosophy

Cheating at Chess

The normally placid backwaters of the chess world are foaming with controversy! Why is world champion Magnus Carlsen refusing to play young US chess player Hans Niemann, while dropping ill-disguised hints or insinuations that Nieman has been cheating? Boo! See eg here: England’s leading female player, Jovanka Houska, accused Carlsen […]

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HM The Queen

It’s hard to say which was the most painful moment of the Funeral of HM The Queen. The TV images during the day were exquisitely done – almost every shot a startling combination of colours and unexpected focus. But for me the small extended procession along a quiet country road […]

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Is Intelligence Overrated?

Is intelligence overrated? This strange subject gets loads of Google hits. I was drawn in its general direction by this WSJ piece, linked by venerable Arts & Letters Daily. The article looks at a new book If Nietzsche were a Narwal by Justin Greggs who’s an expert in psychology and animals: […]

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Zoom Diplomacy

Then there’s this one on the zany new world of Zoom diplomacy: Legend has it that in a room in Number Ten one such special telephone sat unused, to the point where no-one could remember why it was there. One day to the shared consternation of both Prime Minister and […]

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COVID-19 and (The End of) Human Rights

You may have missed some of my recent pieces for DIPLOMAT. So try this one: This one on Covid-19 and the Strange Death of Human Rights: Enter COVID-19. It turns out that the Enlightenment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and almost everything else ever written about human rights […]

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COVID-19 Unmasked

How to tell if the state compelling us to walk around wearing moist unhygienic masks looking like muzzled dogs makes a scrap of difference in ‘fighting’ (sic) COVID-19? Here’s a study (via a piece posted by Robert Zimmerman) that had unusually controlled conditions (US marines). His piece suggests that masks […]

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Censored by Twitter

My first post here in a while. We’re planning to move house after some 13 years here, and then it was busy again and the weeks flit by. Have you heard of Benford’s Law? Me neither. It turns out that it’s a way of exploring ‘unfabricated’ numbers. The gist of […]

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Passive Aggression, Full Stop

OMG whatever next snowflake teenagers are being triggered by FULL STOPS. Say (who else?) linguists: The debate was reignited after writer Rhiannon Cosslett tweeted: ‘Older people – do you realise that ending a sentence with a full stop comes across as sort of abrupt and unfriendly to younger people in an […]

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Hungary v Brussels

Veteran readers here (if any such still exist) will recall my Basic Theory Of Explaining Almost Everything, namely that for any issue only two questions matter: Who decides? Who decides who decides? See eg this DIPLOMAT article looking at Bosnia, Brexit, migration, UN Security Council reform and other big topics […]

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Poland Presidential Elections

Poland is about to have a second-round run-off in an important Presidential election. Incumbent President Andrzej Duda of Law and Justice is in a tight race with Rafał Trzaskowski (Civic Platform) the Mayor of Warsaw. This is typically presented by the chatterati as quite a civilisational battle: nasty reactionary xenophobic […]

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