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You would think that the prospect of a two hundred and ten percent increase in sales would be all the incentive a webmaster would need to redesign their site. That isn't always the case. There are a variety of reasons people avoid recreating their websites.

Some people believe that search engine optimization is too difficult to understand. The reality is that search engine optimization is fairly simple. All it takes is a little research and most people are ready to rock.

Other people feel that there are simply too many things to learn before they will be ready to optimize their website. Search engine optimization is just like anything else. When you first start out you know nothing. With some homework and a bit of trial and error and you will know exactly what it takes to make your webpage popular with the web crawlers.

Some people believe that search engine optimization will take up lots of their precious time. People with this particular fear should remember that old adage about time and money. If time spent optimizing your website leads to an increase in sales isn't it time well spent? Besides search engine optimization is easy, once you have the hang of it won't add much to the time you would already have to devote to updating your website.

You do not have to submit to gobs of search engines to reap the rewards of search engine optimization.

If you have a large site you shouldn't worry about spending lots of time optimizing it and running the risk of never finishing the process. If you have a large website just take things one step at a time. Focus on optimizing on page per day. Start with your most important pages and then concentrate on the irrelevant pages. By using this one page a day method you won't run the risk of sitting at your computer until your eyeballs fall out of your head.

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23rd August 2013 - 10:43pm

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23rd August 2013 - 10:44pm

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23rd August 2013 - 10:44pm

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23rd August 2013 - 10:44pm

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24th August 2013 - 6:32am

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24th August 2013 - 8:00am

Stuttgart, hammered 6-1 by the Bavarians in the Bundesliga, then gave the European champions a real scare as Martin Harnik pulled two goals back and Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer stopped Serdar Tasci's header on the line with almost the last touch of the game.
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24th August 2013 - 8:00am

Lewis paints the former action movie star famed for The Terminator movies as a fantasy politician thrust into the impossible situation of having to grapple with Californias almost intractable problems. He describes him as a person who sees what is ahead, paying little heed to what is behind him.
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24th August 2013 - 4:39pm

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24th August 2013 - 11:52pm

The Bundesliga champions, chasing a fifth continental crown, will play Borussia Dortmund in the May 25 final at London's Wembley Stadium after an imperious performance that inflicted the heaviest two-legged European defeat in Barca's history.
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25th August 2013 - 1:39am

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25th August 2013 - 1:39am

Stocks of companies like Praj Industries, Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL), Biocon, Godrej Properties, and Escorts have provided returns of 34 per cent, - 32 per cent, - 3 per cent, - 2 per cent, and mere positive returns of 4 per cent, respectively, during the period under review. The common thing between these companies is that their balance sheets are least leveraged (less debt on books). Besides, these companies have posted decent profits in the recent quarters and they do have good cash in their balance sheets.
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25th August 2013 - 1:39am

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Building up his frustration was again Ricciardo, Avegaile Escano will never forget the day that Muslimin 16 entered her class in a hut in southern Philippines The hut had bamboo walls and coconut leaves for a roof and had been built to give children who had fled fighting between government troops and armed militants in Maguindanao It was meant to provide a safe and friendly learning space where children could regain a semblance of normal life and continue to develop through learning But for some children leaving their troubles behind was too much to ask and the stress sometimes manifested itself in peculiar ways In Muslimin's case he sought comfort in a white plastic chair Each morning he would come into class holding the same chair and carry it around with him all day wherever he went He would not let it go Holding on During lessons he would frequently pace up and down along the inside of the bamboo walls of the classroom always carrying the chair "When a volunteer asked him to sit down he sat but after a while he would get up and walk again bringing his chair" says Ms Escano 30 a former education project leader with Save the Children International in Central Mindanao The education volunteers are trained how to communicate with stressed children Bit by bit they earned the confidence of Muslimin and he began to share his experiences and counselling was brought in At first he said both his parents were dead All he remembered was the sound of heavy gunfire not knowing where to run and then seeing shots being exchanged Later the volunteers discovered that Muslimin's mother was still alive but his father had died of a heart attack brought on by the stress of fleeing their thatched house which had been caught in cross fire and gone up in flames "He was clinging on to his chair as his protection" says Ms Escano "because he wanted to make sure it will not be lost again like his father like his house It comforted him" Displaced children Muslimin's symptoms are one of many displayed by children suffering psychologically from the impact of war whether from seeing fighting all around them or experiencing direct attacks themselves Disturbed behaviour wetting themselves staring into space restlessness naughtiness and violence are common And in schools and temporary learning shelters the first challenge of the teachers is to try to bring back a sense of normal life which in turn can help lead to normalised behaviour Another is to identify those children who need to be referred for expert medical treatment - if such treatment is available War reporting focuses on gunfights and shelling the immediate effects such as death and injuries displacement of civilians and the political significance of the battles won and lost But when the fighting is over the cameras move on Little attention is paid to the catastrophic effect war can have on students and teachers It can undermine for years the crucial role of education as a foundation stone for building peace and bringing economic and social development Schools in rubble In poor countries wars are rarely a short sharp military operation They last 12 years on average according to UNESCO For all that time head teachers and teachers can be battling in difficult conditions to keep any semblance of education going as schools are destroyed and families and teachers are forced to flee their homes to avoid the fighting For the education system tracking the whereabouts of teachers and ensuring they are allotted to a nearby school and are getting paid is a serious challenge Rebuilding and re-supplying schools can takes years to complete In the meantime whole age cohorts of children in conflict areas may miss out on their schooling In Sierra Leone in 2001 only 13% of schools were deemed usable after the 12-year conflict Many had been reduced to rubble Three years later 60% of primary schools still needed major repair work or complete reconstruction Worldwide 28 million children are missing out on primary education in conflict-affected countries In many wars education is not just collaterally damaged but has become a target for attack itself with classrooms deliberately shelled and teachers tracked down and assassinated Direct attacks In June the UN Secretary General's Annual Report to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict reported that in 2011 there was a pattern of direct attacks on schools students and teachers in more than 15 countries affected by conflict with Afghanistan Cote d'Ivoire India Pakistan and Yemen among the worst affected Incidents included full-scale military assaults on schools; the bombing burning and shelling of school buildings; the shooting or abduction of students and teachers; and the seizure of schools for use as sniper posts torture and interrogation centres or military bases For the first time the secretary general named and shamed five armed groups or forces responsible for perpetrating such attacks including the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Syrian Armed Forces There are two avenues for action to try and tackle this problem One is to try to hold perpetrators to account To this end Zama Coursen-Neff chairperson of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and children's rights director at Human Rights Watch has welcomed the inclusion of parties guilty of attacks on schools on the UN's new "list of shame" She said: "From now on warring parties who target schools students and teachers should know that they will land on the Security Council's radar and could face targeted sanctions" The Security Council may also refer them to the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution Community defence The other avenue is to ensure better steps are taken to prevent the targeting of education and ensure timely recovery once conflicts are over The global Education Cluster a UN body that co-ordinates and guides education responses in conflicts and other crises is working with humanitarian agencies and government officials in countries affected by conflict to pilot training in how to protect education Measures include improving community defence of schools encouraging armed forces and armed groups to avoid using schools in the battlefield changing unfair education policies that provoke ethnic tension and can make schools a target for attack They could also change the curriculum to ensure that education works for peace and ensure adequate support is provided to help children and teachers cope with stress and trauma At a piloting session in Pakistan education and development officials simulated negotiations between leaders of a village teachers religious leaders and the local Taliban commander Their mission was to reach agreement that locals schools should not be blown up - or attacked in any other way More than 1200 schools have been damaged or destroyed in their country in the past few years and mostly in the north-west where Taliban groups have been fighting the Pakistan army and retain a strong influence in some areas Peace zone The role-play exercise draws on the real experience of communities in Nepal who negotiated for the conflict between Maoist and Royalists to be left outside of the school gates In Pakistan the heated discussion centred on parents' fears for their children's lives and the religious leader and Taliban commander's concerns that schools were not teaching or working by Islamic principles The head teacher sought to steer all parties to agreeing to respect schools as a zone of peace in return for reassurances that certain Islamic principles would be met For instance although girls and boys could attend the school they would only do so in separate shifts one after the other Among the key aims of the Education Cluster training is to try to find ways to persuade military commanders to change the way they conduct war on the battlefield by ending the use of schools as military bases which makes them a target for attack puts children at risk of being caught in the crossfire and causes long-term damage to education provision "Schools should be safe places where parents know their children can play and learn and prepare for the future" says James Sparkes the Education Cluster co-ordinator "Anything we can do to help protect them will improve the chances of those communities being able to rebuild when the conflict ends" Brendan O'Malley is author of Education under Attack UNESCO's study on targeted political and military violence against education3 July 2012Last updated at 23:22 GMT When schools are casualties of war By Brendan O'Malley taking care not to cut through the bottom. como embarcarse en matrimonios forzados o ejercer la prostitucin. ? ?? ? ???? ?? ? ?? rd M ?
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27th August 2013 - 7:56am

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In the Blair era we had "The Third Way"; in the Cameron era we can apparently look forward to something called Red Toryism.
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David Cameron is half-way through his premiership and, according to my colleague Iain Martin this week, hes a political tragedy in the making. Very true. Daves modernising agenda was drawn up at a time when the Conservatives could plausibly offer to share the proceeds of growth. (Sorry if your cornflakes went down the wrong way on being reminded of that.) Confronted by the need to shrink the state while in coalition with the Lib Dems, Cameron and Osborne have wimped out, like flabby schoolboys dodging PE.
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This is not wildly surprising. The faintest economic optimism is abroad. Demand continues to exceed supply in the housing market. And the Government is tipping a wheelbarrow load of public money into the demand side of the market. Yes, it's also attempting supply-side reform too, but that takes time C even if various planning reforms actually work as promised, they won't act on the market anywhere near as quickly as the sugar-rush stimulus of State support for mortgage lending. No wonder a lot of clever people are talking about another housing bubble.
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28th August 2013 - 8:51am

Pushing the rules is a near-universal trait among entrepreneurs, and has won him admirers. Andrew Monk, a City broker who works across the region, says: How can you knock the guy? Hes a visionary. Like a Richard Branson of the Middle East. He took a village in the desert and turned it into this crazy, amazing city. With its man-made pleasure islands, soaring towers and glittering shopping malls, you can scoff at Dubais phoneyness while still being impressed by the transformation.
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And Labour vice chairman Michael Dugher said Mr Cleggs latest remarks showed how out of touch he was.
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4. For most, nay, all, of your adult life, you have been a very influential person, with access to the highest corridors of power. Yet, not once in your life have you ever taken a stand on any issue not even on sporting ones. Do you then seriously expect to make a meaningful contribution to any of the debates in the Rajya Sabha? If not, why did you agree to become a Rajya Sabha MP?
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As a compression encoding system of the audio data, for example, various systems such as MP3 (Moving Pictures Experts Group 1 Audio Layer 3), ATRAC3 (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding 3; registered trademark), AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), WMA (Windows Media Audio; registered trademark), and the like can be applied. The invention is not limited to them but the audio data of a base band which is not compression-encoded may be also stored.
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4th September 2013 - 11:32am

For many years cable service providers have been in existence providing cable television to millions of subscribers in the United States and around the world. Cable television has become so ubiquitous that the set top box is almost instantly recognizable to the entire American population. Generally, a set top box works by hooking the set top box via a short coaxial (coax) cable into a coax outlet. The coax outlet is generally placed either during the construction of the building, or by the cable company during installation. If the coax outlet is placed during construction of the building, it is likely that there will be a coax outlet in many of the rooms. However, if the outlets are placed during installation, the installer may charge more for each outlet installed, thus forcing the owner to effectively perform a cost-benefit analysis. The coax outlet then typically connects via coax cable to a distribution hub which often serves several different subscribers.
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4th September 2013 - 11:43am

The client-side caching of streaming media content described below solves these and other problems.
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4th September 2013 - 11:44am

It should be noted that, although the streaming rate for the content may be identified with reference to the encoded bit rate, this is done simply because it is an easy point of reference. The streaming rate is still independent of the encoded bit ratevirtually any speed factor can be requested and/or selected, and the way that speed factor is identified is with reference to the encoded bit rate.
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4th September 2013 - 11:44am

FIGS. 6 and 7 are a flow diagram of a feasibility scheduling module;
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4th September 2013 - 11:44am

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4th September 2013 - 1:09pm

An object of the present invention is to allow for PC/WS (PC or workstation) as a single platform technology and to define an integrated architectural method which accommodate communications (remote transmission and retrieval) for all types of digital coded (compressed) multiple-media information.
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4th September 2013 - 1:28pm

"You will be travelling to ATLANTA." "Please enter the day you wish to travel. One is Monday and seven is Sunday.
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4th September 2013 - 1:28pm

In an Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) type system, such as shown in FIG. 1B, certain telephone calls receive specialized AIN type processing under control of data files stored in the SCP database 43 within the ISCP 40. In such a network, the SSP type local offices of the public telephone network include appropriate data in the translation tables for customers subscribing to AIN services to define certain call processing events identified as AIN "triggers". Using the translation table data from disk memory 63, the SSP will detect such triggering events during processing of calls to or from such AIN service subscribers.
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4th September 2013 - 1:29pm

Video Decoding
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4th September 2013 - 1:29pm

The 34-year-old Utley was in the final season of a seven-year, $85 million contract. The new contract is believed to be worth around $27 million for two years with several options.
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4th September 2013 - 1:51pm

No, images are not supported at this time.
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4th September 2013 - 1:51pm

Much of your career has been at Coca-Cola but in 1999 you became chief executive of Efes Beverage Group in Turkey, before returning in 2005. What did you learn from leading another company?
bedc2 - By OLYMPUS ʽ - Homepage
4th September 2013 - 1:52pm

When considering distribution/access, one size does not fit all. Desktops, thin clients, video, voice over IP () and -- as well as other devices and network data -- all have unique switch configuration needs. To maximize network efficiency, avoid simply buying switches off the shelf and plugging them in. While this basic setup will move data, various devices and high-end content will start eating up bandwidth.
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4th September 2013 - 1:52pm

Project Snowstorm is similar to some of the most successful crowdfunding games. It is a fantasy title that promises to mix up some of the old tropes with new mechanics.
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4th September 2013 - 5:45pm

But the case grew even stranger a few days ago when the Rangers put Rosales on waivers and the A?s took him back. Upon further review, Rosales once again wishes that he had gotten credit for a homer on the ball he hit over the fence in Cleveland.
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4th September 2013 - 5:46pm

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4th September 2013 - 5:46pm

O?er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
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4th September 2013 - 5:47pm

FIG. 28 illustrates a flowchart detailing a process describing an accelerated resulting action in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
90fc1 - By FUJIFILM - Homepage
4th September 2013 - 6:40pm

Although the invention has been described above on the assumption that the preview reproducing interval information is supplied from the music server 4 to the reproducing apparatus 1 through the PC2, the invention is not limited to such an example. For instance, as shown in an example in FIG. 41, a reproducing apparatus 1?? is constructed by providing a wireless communication I/F 300 to control, for example, wireless data communication and an antenna 301 for the construction of the reproducing apparatus 1 shown in FIG. 3 and communicates with the outside through the antenna 301, thereby enabling the preview reproducing interval information to be obtained.
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4th September 2013 - 6:40pm

In the above embodiments according to the present invention, an LCD panel 13 was used as the display, but as the display device, use may also be made of for example an organic EL (electroluminescence) panel.
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4th September 2013 - 6:40pm

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5th September 2013 - 2:34am

This framework addresses the systemic risk and the need for good governance and orderly development. It will also ensure that there is no conflict of interest between a service provider and a regulator.
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5th September 2013 - 4:36am

The early Beach Boys - Surfin' USA and Fun, Fun, Fun - had borne the stamp of two of Wilson's great musical heroes: the seamless harmonies of the Four Freshman and the rock and roll riffs of Chuck Berry. Pet Sounds drew on a third influence - George Gershwin. Gone were the paeans to fast cars and high waves, replaced with songs of adolescent yearning and loneliness and of being out of step with the times, framed in elaborate musical arrangements - "pocket symphonies", as Wilson had it.
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5th September 2013 - 4:36am

A highlight of the visit was a trek to the highest point in the region. On our way to the top, we came across many sacred stones marked in saffron. Made of all shapes and sizes, these were the original idols of the adivasis. An insight into their beliefs was provided by our adivasi guide.
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5th September 2013 - 4:36am

Second, home saver loans are given at a higher rate than normal home loans. Banks typically charge anywhere between 0.5% to 1% higher rates. For example, for a loan amount of up to `25 lakh, IDBI charges 10.5% floating rate of interest on a normal home loan while the same is 11.5% on a home saver home loan. Despite the higher rate, the overall saving is tremendous.
7a01d - By ʥХåȥܩ` - Homepage
5th September 2013 - 4:36am

But for the trial to take place, Indian law demands that Ajmal have a defense lawyer. In threatening any person who is willing to take up Ajmal's defence, the Sena is going against India and its Constitution. If Ajmal doesn't get a lawyer, some legals experts say he might even go free. While that is unlikely, not giving Ajmal a lawyer will give the impression that his entire trial was a farce, a kangaroo court at work.
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5th September 2013 - 5:03am

"I want the world to c it..Whn I went to shake hands afte the match..he had lost it..he had already planned to hit me(elbow me)all his anger" he said.
29056 - By rӋ - Homepage
5th September 2013 - 5:03am

@shekharluthraWhen ones heart needs repairing, or a connection with the divine is to be rebuilt, they often say music comes closest in healing and reassuring a tired soul. It is therefore no surprise that pure musical concerts attract hordes of aficionados whenever theyre organised in our city.
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5th September 2013 - 5:03am

"While I was sitting on the croc, it just kept smacking me with its tail and then it urinated all over us. After we were done, we went to the beach and washed up," she laughs.
6fd3a - By - Homepage
5th September 2013 - 5:03am

But we digress. Let us turn our focus back to the principal issue. What indeed would be the effect on a society that decides to legalise minor greasing of palms? Since almost 600 million Indians are poor, it means this new facility cant be availed of by them. They will just have to put up with harassment and bureaucratic delay.
96fa6 - By - Homepage
5th September 2013 - 5:08am

The fourth is format -- paper, web or TV. Increasingly, consumers are becoming format neutral. So the notion of cross-media ownership is wrong. The fifth is that while all this is happening, the web will become very big, it will become the television in your hand. And special interest media like the domain experts and blogs will become even more powerful. So heres the perspective: the big players will become bigger on the one hand, and on the other, the smaller, standalone, niche, special interest players will become very important too because they will offer a deep dive into issues.
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5th September 2013 - 6:57am

However, not everyone is happy with the end result. We see cases of plastic surgery gone bad everywhere around us. Who can forget Michael Jackson who kept having repeated surgeries on his face?
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5th September 2013 - 7:23am

It may be noted here that a panel headed by supreme court justice (retd) G T Nanavati and high court justice (retd) Akshay Mehta is already inquiring 2002 riots.
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5th September 2013 - 7:24am

Happily, there are ways around it, as our friendly neighbourhood bars have taught us.So if you spot a Bollywood A-lister with a stainless steel glass in his hand (I absolutely refuse to say tumbler) you can safely whisper a cheery Cheers! in his ear.
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5th September 2013 - 7:25am

My first interaction with the ambassador of Argentina was shockingly casual. As SeñorErnesto Alvarez sauntered around his office, he offered me a Coke, and when I acquiesced, he served it out of the fridge himself. No protocols, no bellboys-in-waiting, just straight up homely hospitality. From that point on, I have met him in the most relaxed of dispositions, even at the most formal of settings, and he has always been the one to lighten the mood. He fights a tough battle for Argentinean wine and food and in spite of the taxes and legal objections, he remains relentless.
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5th September 2013 - 7:26am

"The next time you visit, Ill show you the T-shirt from the event, stating the record very clearly. In fact, since youre a close friend," he added with an air of magnanimity, "Ill even allow you to take a picture alongside me wearing the T-shirt."
e84bb - By - Homepage
5th September 2013 - 7:59am

"Every day, we have so much work that traders and their staff chase us, but today, we have been waiting for work since morning," said Mahendra Yadav, 32, a migrant from Dehri-on-Sone in Rohtas district of Bihar. "We literally live hand to mouth on what we earn per job. If the bandh draws on for long, we will have to go hungry."
1d7c1 - By - Homepage
5th September 2013 - 12:32pm

At least 10,000 homes were destroyed, the Sichuan government said.
49726 - By CASIO rӋ - Homepage
5th September 2013 - 2:18pm

It further notes that Barandi Mata creek has witnessed a distinct change at its mouth. "It had a natural outfall into the sea in 2005. In 2010, the creek opening shifted and got constricted. The creeks branches in the proposed North port site have completely disappeared over the years. This is bound to have an impact on the mangrove vegetation in the area in addition to the change in hydrological regime," report said.
12160 - By ʥSB`ǥ` - Homepage
5th September 2013 - 3:08pm

Mould knows all about the Wildensteins. He once tried - unsuccessfully - to get them to accept as a genuine Monet the painting Bords de la Seine a Argenteuil, which is owned by a British collector.
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5th September 2013 - 5:32pm

66666 I wonder where exactly the priests head over to purchase a robe. Find around three letters and color.
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6th September 2013 - 4:20am

Heaney says he was not involved in the Good Friday Agreement "in any way". But he's known John Hume, its chief architect, for years, and when President Clinton threw himself into the peace process, he recruited Heaney's work to his cause, quoting one of Heaney's most memorable lines "Between hope and history" at every opportunity. The loaded tranquillity of the peace process mirrors the pregnant understatements of Heaney's own poetry.
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6th September 2013 - 4:26am

66666 I'm wondering in which the priests look at purchase a gown. Prefer around 3 letters and shade.
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6th September 2013 - 4:57am

What do you reckon? Acceptable partners for the modern Cameronian Conservatives?
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6th September 2013 - 7:33pm

The writer is a former professor of Geology, IIT BombayCotigao looks like the twin sister of Bondla, another sanctuary in Goa. The forest is friendly; as is the staff. The landscape is as well-manicured; and the cottages just as beautiful.
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7th September 2013 - 4:37am

To this end, the company has armed its distributors with touch-screen hand-held devices embedded with proprietary software to ensure smooth and timely flow of information in the distribution channel.
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7th September 2013 - 4:37am

Among friends of Wenger there is a shared frustration that Arsenal's recent decline is generally measured in the narrow context of his extraordinary past success, which has yielded 17 top-four finishes in a row. Arsenal's former vice-chairman, David Dein, speaking last month on the Footballers' Football Show on Sky Sports, put it like this: "It is very simple. Under Arsene Wenger's stewardship, Arsenal have had good times and very good times. He is the most driven and focused person I have ever met in football."
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7th September 2013 - 4:37am

Dhananjay Hegde, a rising star in Hindustani music says that Ravi Shankar is the reason Indian music is recognised worldwide. "Whenever we musicians go abroad, people recognise us through Ravi Shankar. I was once fortunate enough to have received a scholarship from him. It was not a long meeting but it was truly a divine experience for me," he says.
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7th September 2013 - 4:38am

His views were supported by former Chief Information Commissioners Wajahat Habibullah and A N Tiwari, who said information which has been placed before Parliament is already in public domain and cannot be denied to an applicant.
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8th September 2013 - 2:06am

Joe Dautel, a clerk at a hardware store in Glenside, Pennsylvania, where customers were stocking up on supplies, said: "They're freaking out. I'm selling people four, five, six packs of batteries - when I had them." Peter Sacca, who works in Brown's Hardware in New York, said: "The customers are getting crazy. They're yelling at each other when people grab the last flashlight. They're coming for flashlights, sand bags, tape, kerosene."
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8th September 2013 - 2:18am

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the terrorist attack, saying such "cowardly acts of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism".
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8th September 2013 - 2:18am

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8th September 2013 - 6:48am

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8th September 2013 - 6:48am

HP also announced new Data Center Connection Manager software for streamlining operations in data centers by offering automated provisioning of servers and network gear for both traditional and virtual environments. It will be available in the second quarter for $27,100. A new DCM Controller will sell for $31,999 although no shipping date was announced.
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8th September 2013 - 6:49am

With five more minutes of perseverance, the Lakers ended up with quite a reward. After getting up Wednesday morning with no guarantee their season wouldn't end that night, they surged into the seventh playoff spot in the West with a 99-95 overtime victory over the .
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8th September 2013 - 6:49am

The BCCI is under intense pressure to take a tough stand as it is a second case of spot-fixing in the cash-rich IPL and indications are that they could even contemplate handing out life bans on the basis of preliminary report by its anti-corruption unit.
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8th September 2013 - 7:17am

The Phoenix Coyotes ($134 million) were the lowest valued franchise, below the New York Islanders ($149 million) and Columbus Blue Jackets ($152 million).
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8th September 2013 - 2:05pm

If it sounds like something a compulsive shoplifter might have been handed after stealing a pullover, Pietersen could, with good behaviour, be back playing as soon as the tour to India at the end of the month. If that happened and he completes his parole period without a hitch, he will be offered an extension to his four-month contract that will bring him in line with those on full deals.
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8th September 2013 - 2:37pm

Antony believes that even if the total number of ATMs were to cross 2 lakh, the growth in debit cards issued will ensure India would still remain under-penetrated. "We usually take a ratio of one ATM for every 2,000 cards. That way, even with around 500 million cards, we would need over 2.5 lakh ATMs in the market," he reasoned.
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8th September 2013 - 3:50pm

"Old?media?is not dead; it's growing. But now we have more people involved and engaged because of digital means."
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8th September 2013 - 6:21pm

The Carter Centre urged the National Congress Party, which leads the Khartoum government, and the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement, that runs the south, to tone down their rhetoric in the run-up to the vote.ʥ ե` 7.0 v2ʥåbb4
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8th September 2013 - 6:33pm

He added: "Refugees tell us the increased fighting and changing of control of towns and villages, in particular in conflict areas, results in more and more civilians deciding to leave. Over the past four months we have seen a rapid deterioration when compared to the previous 20 months of this conflict."
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9th September 2013 - 8:19am

That crushing nine-inning loss to Chula Vista on Wednesday night was quickly forgotten when Knight's ball landed safely, setting off a wild celebration near the pitcher's mound at Howard J. Lamade Stadium
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9th September 2013 - 8:22am

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9th September 2013 - 8:22am

, by Erin Morgenstern. In this magical novel, two old wizards pit their favorite students against each other in a contest that goes on for yeas. But what happens when their students fall in love?
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9th September 2013 - 11:05am

So who knows? Watch this space!EMMERDALE star Danny Miller is quitting his role as troubled gay character Aaron Livesy next year.
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9th September 2013 - 11:19am

Bruce Dessau, comedy critic for the past 20 years and a regular on the Edinburgh Comedy Award panel, brings to bear his knowledge and expertise in this witty, readable study of what makes stand-up comedians tick. Dessau takes a historical perspective, stretching from Joseph Grimaldi to Russell Brand, and reveals a constant pattern of excess ?C excessive sexual appetites, drug and alcohol consumption, narcissism and self-obsession ?C inextricably linked to the drive to make roomfuls of strangers laugh. It's a pattern which takes its toll ?C the rollcall of comedians who died prematurely is long. Dessau knows most of the contemporary comedians he writes about, and there is an enjoyable sense of getting the inside story.Well, for a start, there were the plane trees, three vast creatures, said to be the biggest in Provence, standing on the terrace in front of the house. In England planes are mostly town trees. You very rarely see them in country gardens. And there was an unusually careless insouciance about the bulging box parterre laid out round a stone fountain between the plane trees and the house. It looked as if it was melting.
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9th September 2013 - 11:19am

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9th September 2013 - 11:21am

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9th September 2013 - 11:24am

The Munich shelter has also blasted Justin for keeping Mally as a pet, insisting the animal shouldnt have been separated from his mother until he was at least a year old.
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9th September 2013 - 11:24am

I was going out four times a week and having four pints of lager. Then at the weekend it would be more like ten a night and a kebab.
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9th September 2013 - 11:24am

And I really got excited by these new songs. I know what I like to sing, so writing for myself is easier.
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9th September 2013 - 11:25am

Streep's nomination was her 16th. She won for "Kramer vs. Kramer" in 1980 and "Sophie's Choice" in 1983.
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9th September 2013 - 11:43am

* MARCO RUBO, IN THE DOGHOUSE: The Hill?. Yes, it does seem clear that attempting to compromise with Democrats to solve the countrys problems is probably an unforgivable offense.
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9th September 2013 - 11:43am

The SEC's lawsuit charged that the bank advertised its CDs in a brochure touting a conservative investment philosophy. But instead the bank's portfolio was "misappropriated by Defendant Allen Stanford and used by him to acquire private equity investments and real estate," the suit says.
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9th September 2013 - 11:43am

Listen to Flaming Lips The Terror
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9th September 2013 - 11:44am

British born actress Jiah was found hanging in her Mumbai apartment by her mother, Rabiya, last Monday.
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9th September 2013 - 11:48am

"You don't get an opportunity like this every day of your career," Zola said of his move.
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9th September 2013 - 11:48am

Shot by Kieran MacDonald went harmlessly over the bar.
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9th September 2013 - 11:49am

The script sees Homer Simpson hypnotised into thinking he is 10.
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9th September 2013 - 11:49am

The Isle of Man-based ace was only beaten by Spains Dani Pedrosa who shattered the lap record in Barcelona as temperatures hit a sizzling 52 degrees.
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9th September 2013 - 11:50am

BHX Travel specialises in minibus hire in Birmingham. We have years of experience in the travel industry, where we have operated throughtout the United Kingdom. Travel in our chauffeur driven minibuses to and from Birmingham at competitive prices. We hire quality minibuses and can transport you to anywhere in the country. Give us a call when you next want to hire a luxury minibus in the West Midlands area.
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a1cde - By olympus һۥե - Homepage
9th September 2013 - 12:03pm

In the early morning there may be the odd patch of mist but this will disappear quickly.
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bd63b - By Щ` ͨ؜ - Homepage
9th September 2013 - 12:03pm

That's Matt what.
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9th September 2013 - 12:07pm

I think what sort of triggered it differently for me was when I saw the media advisory that included all the necessary parties needed to make the deal happen. I think the difference now is that youve got a set of owners who are seemingly willing to spend the money necessary to make it happen, Sheldon said. It was probably fair to say it was a bit of a roller coaster, year in and year out. I saw four different renderings for locations over the course of my eight years there. A lot of false starts, a lot of stop and starts. A lot of excitement and hope, followed by disappointment. Not only for the front office, but for the supporters. Theyve been there through it all. The hardcore group, they just keep going to games. Im more than anything thrilled for that group of people.
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0f64c - By SOL إåɥۥ - Homepage
9th September 2013 - 12:07pm

Today (Tuesday): Nothing but sun today. The air is quite dry and this gives us a beautiful blue sky. The winds are nothing like yesterday, just light out of the north. Despite all the sun, highs only reach the mid-to-upper 50s giving us a rare below normal day. : High
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1da24 - By AKG إåɥۥ 磻쥹 - Homepage
9th September 2013 - 12:07pm

While the 37-year-old was shown a straight red card six minutes after being introduced to the action in the 1-0 win against Evian at the weekend, Clement believes his fellow Englishman has been an excellent addition to the PSG squad.
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9th September 2013 - 12:08pm

Analysis:The Packers signed Cunningham in April.8/6/2013, WRGreen Bay signed Wilson on Tuesday.
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9th September 2013 - 12:08pm

Timber Sprayer?(5 litres),?
236a8 - By RICOHǥ - Homepage
9th September 2013 - 12:08pm

Tomorrow (Friday): It is hard to believe that this day could be worse but the potential is there. However, there is one catch, a few afternoon thunderstorms could cut highs short of record levels (record high 103) in a few spots. Unfortunately, only about 20% of the area is likely to get that relief. The rest of us get an award for just surviving. Keep your water bottle full! Winds are light from the west. Highs range from the upper 90s to lower 100s. Heat indices in the 110 to 115 range. : Medium-High
c4303 - By - Homepage
9th September 2013 - 12:08pm

A league spokesman said a High Court decision in February in the case of QC Leisure made it clear the league was entitled to take legal action "to prevent the unauthorised use of our copyrights in pubs and clubs when they are communicated to the public without our authority".
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9th September 2013 - 12:09pm

"It has definitely changed since I started to going to San Diego in 1996," he says. "It has literally doubled in size within 14 years. When I first started going, the focus was mostly still on comics, but in the last five years, it has shifted to movies. On one hand, I'm saddened by that -- but then movies are related to comics, so I do get very excited about San Diego's Comic-Con."
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9th September 2013 - 12:24pm

Feb. 16
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9th September 2013 - 12:25pm

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9th September 2013 - 12:25pm

Designer dog beds: DoggySnooze Designer Bed $119 - $239
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9th September 2013 - 12:26pm

Newark Mayor Cory Booker? the fundraising battle in the New Jersey Senate race.
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9th September 2013 - 1:25pm

Higgledy piggledy
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9th September 2013 - 1:26pm

According to?, 12.8 percent of referrals in D.C. are for pet-friendly, dog-friendly or cat-friendly apartments, compared to an average?of 9.4 percent in the top 40 largest U.S. cities.
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843b5 - By Sennheiser ۥ - Homepage
9th September 2013 - 1:26pm

Dustin said the Padres asked if he would play third or second. He said yes, but still thinks of himself as a shortstop.
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9th September 2013 - 1:36pm

Bennett, who was born in Southampton and brought up in Romsey, Hampshire, announced himself in international running by winning the 1981 European junior title, He was also very proud of the individual silver medal he won in the 200m at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. But it was as a relay runner that he made his main impact outdoors.
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9th September 2013 - 2:24pm

David Letterman
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9th September 2013 - 2:24pm

-- -- -- -- -- I'm already love in this segment to be able to talk to you because I know how important.
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9th September 2013 - 2:24pm

week" title=" - New York fashion week"/>At , the look was prim and proper. There was many a skirt suit on show and polka-dotted officewear. However, there was a harder edge to the collection with a lot of masculine tailoring on shirts, trousers and jackets. An angora tuxedo jacket particularly stood out for us. There was also a touch of sportswear in Wu's collection: in a green tartan jacket and a grey woollen one whose hood was trimmed with fur. For evening Wu played about with structures creating a couple of bell jar-skirted dresses. We liked the gold spatter print which adorned shift dresses.?X Factor songstress braved soaring temperatures on the streets of LA yesterday, to film the video for her new single, Start Without You. Stepping out in some teeny tiny hot pants, a striped Alexander Wang crop top and a pair of seriously towering heels, the star completed her look with a super-cute straw trilby as she strutted her stuff in the sunshine.The British beauty was even spotted stepping behind the wheel of a multicoloured ice cream van during the day long shoot. Laughing and joking with backing dancers as soon as the cameras were turned, Alex looked like she was having a whale of a time, as the temperature soared. was even spotted filming all the happenings on-set, with her very own video camera. And at the end of the day, it seems the star decided she would leave in style, stepping on board a shiny Harley Davidson motorbike for her dramatic exit. Are you looking forward to brand new track? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below. ? has started her promotional tour for new film Battleship at the top of a London hotel - and boy does she look good!The singer looked sensational in a slinky metallic dress by Alexander Wang as she kicked off her Battleship promo tour with co-stars Taylor Kitsch and Brooklyn Decker.Enjoying the good weather, posed with Brooklyn - who also looked stylish in a Stella McCartney S/S'12 number - on the rooftop of the Corinthia Hotel in the capital.Her figure-flattering dress was a world away from the l she wore as she took the Tube to Drake's O2 arena concert last night.Welcome back to London, RiRi!?Alexander Wang S/S 2008 THE NEW WANG on the block - sorry, Vera, you've got competition - Alexander already has a firm grip on effortless urban sophistication. The 24-year-old er showed his first collection less than three years ago, and has since taken the fashion world by storm with his modern take on classic materials such as cashmere, and his underlying simple-yet-luxurious theme. Photographs by Mitchell Sams.?After paying a midnight visit at his swanky LA bachelor pad last week, it looked like had bagged herself a new man.But the fiery singer has shot down rumours of a romance with the Two And A Half Men star and insists she is 'single and happy.'During a press conference to promote her new film Battleship in London yesterday, one brave British journalist asked her: 'You're so good at connecting with people that I think that we actually feel we know you. Things are clearly going brilliantly in your career. 'I just wondered if you are as happy in your private life, and will we see a certain perhaps making a trip over here?'The 24-year-old singer then became defensive, firing back: 'Wow, how disappointing was that question?'Before adding: 'I'm happy and I'm single, if that's what you're really asking.'Dressed in an exquisite silky Alexander Wang gown, a demure looking posed at the top of a London hotel with her co-star Brooklyn Decker who also looked bang on trend in a Stella McCartney dress. ?It was a fashion love-in over at the show on Saturday, with NY's favourite style star, taking her place beside the city's most notorious sartorial judge, Anna Wintour. Quite a coup, although Wintour is a known champion of the designer, (as is fellow attendee Diane Von Furstenberg), SJP was a much harder catch, rarely stopping by her home-town fashion week, having expressed weariness for its manic media circus in the past. More intriguing, was a certain British fashion mogul in the audience: Arcadia boss, Sir Philip Green. Could Wang be headed for Topshop? We'll have to wait and see.?Here come the girls! Leicester Square was overrun with fearless females last night, when the cast of St Trinians 2 hit town for the film's UK premiere.Lock up your sons, because the St Trinians girls were out in force... The time-honoured red carpet was stripped up and replaced with a punky pink version, ready for the stiletto-heeled army of starlets to charge down it.And the naughty schoolgirls were looking decidely more glam than their on-screen counterparts...Stealing the show was Sarah Harding, who made her silver screen debut in the 2007 fore-runner of the family-friendly flick. The songstress went for high-octane glamour in this sparkling fishtail Georges Chakra couture gown, which had sheer cut-away panels.We're sure Ms Harding must have been nervous on the night - because not only does she feature as one of the girls in the film, she also recorded the theme tune. Keeping Sarah company were fellow bandmates Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh. Nicola simply shone in her white structured frock, which was covered in ruffles and crystal embellishments, while Kimberley cut a super-svelte figure in her strapless LBD.There was a definite monochrome theme apparent on the pink carpet, and Nicole and Kimberley weren't the only yin-and-yang couple to attend.The impossibly pretty pairing of Talulah Riley and Tamsin Egerton stepped out in their contrasting Alberta Ferretti gowns, with Talulah opting for a glam black column dress, and Tamsin in a draping white Grecian creation.Adding some brighter-than-bright bursts of colour to the evening's proceedings were a couple of fiesty females, Paloma Faith and Shingai Shoniwa - who also seemed to be competing in the tallest hair stakes. Paloma was her typical off-the-wall self in a bold orange jumpsuit, paired with vertiginous platforms and a red embellished trophy jacket.Shinghai arrived flanked by her bandmates from The Noisettes, and co-ordinated with the carpet in her vivid pink Jean Pierre Braganza minidress - previously seen on . The night didn't end after the film screening, with the stars all moving on to a lavish afterparty. Sarah Harding switched from her full-length frock and into something slightly more party-appropriate, in the form of this pleated pink Atelier Versace dress. But our style flop of the night came courtesy of Gemma Arterton. The former Bond girl turns Head Girl in the comedy romp, and was sporting a black Alexander Wang maxi for the evening. While perfectly nice, it hardly had the wow factor on Gemma - but it was her bed-head hair and messy make-up that we found particularly surprising...Who was best dressed at the St Trinians 2 premiere? Let us know in the comments box below! ? indulged in a spot of retail therapy at Harvey Nichols over the weekend, and check out her impressive shopping list!While performing the London dates of her sell-out I tour, the megastar decided to check out our capital city to see what the shops had to offer.Having already been spotted in an assortment of outfits from the - including a - went on an extensive £6,000 spree in the Knightsbridge department store.Our Harvey Nichols insider tells us that top of Bey's list was this covetable - which is pretty Sasha Fierce if you ask us.The world-famous diva also bought a pair of large black Ray Ban Wayfarers, a vintage jacket from denim brand 13R, and a couple of pieces by designer du jour Alexander Wang.According to our source, she seemed particularly taken with Jade Jagger's collection, Jezebel - taking home the scoop-neck Lady Print dress, as well as this , and .Rounding off the tiring spend-up, also selected items from brands including , , and Juicy Couture.A girl after our own hearts!?Notice to our readers…We'd like to let you know that this site uses cookies. Without them you may find this site does not work properly and many features may be unavailable. More information on what cookies are and the types of cookies we use can be found ?Spring/Summer 2012 Trend: Sports Fan Sports fan doesn't need a gym - working up a sweat is not her style. Her urban leisurewear is hinged on techie fabrics, sleek track pants and high performance footwear. She can do smart, but only with modern mesh and exposed zips. This girl has abs and attitude.?It was a family affair at last night's Teen Choice Awards, with the Hollywood A-list arriving with mums, partners and kids in tow, to walk the blue carpet.For no-one was this more apparent than for , who took his family to the stage to accept his full-size surfboard award. Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz stood alongside their dad, with mum Victoria unusually taking a back seat, watching on from the audience. Then, proving the true star of the show, youngest Cruz break-danced live on stage, recreating his scene-stealing routine from the Spice Girls concerts last year.The star-studded affair brought out a host of Hollywood's hottest young style stars. Gossip Girls and continued their reign as TV's chicest fashionistas. Meester wowed in a jade green draped gown, while Lively showed off her endless pins in a one-shouldered super-short purple dress.The asymetric style continues to rule the red carpet and made a stylish choice for as well, who glowed in an aqua blue design. She looked California cool, with her caramel streaked curly locks, and yellow gold disc earrings.Maxi dresses were another style hit of the night, with proving our favourite, glowing in a summery style with splashy pink print.Vanessa Hudgens arrived arm-in-arm with co-star and real-life love, Zac Efron. The High School Musical actress looked sleek in a strapless Alexander Wang monochrome dress, with tiered white skirt. Her streamlined look was topped off perfectly with a pair of Christian Louboutin Mad Mary heels.?The bi-annual style-fest that is the international fashion weeks kicks off tomorrow in New York, meaning stylistas the world over are currently winging their way to the Big Apple.The perfect place for spotting the season's hottest trends – both on and off the catwalks – what the editors are wearing in the front rows are guaranteed to become the must-have looks of the season.So what's in store for accessories? When it comes to the well-heeled tootsies of the world's most influential fashionistas, expect the thigh to be the limit when it comes to boots. Decadent designs stretched high above the knees on the catwalks at , and Pucci, to name merely a few, and have already made their mark as one the season's key trends.And while footwear may be oversized, bag wise, it's all about downsizing. Clutches may be smaller than your average arm-candy, but they're big news on the style scene. Spotted at , , and - colour, style or shape are irrelevant, as long as it sits in you hand.As for those who can't bare to cut down on their essentials, there's a host of It-bags high on this season's wish list, from the Marlow Bag to Mulberry's Last East West Bayswater and Roady.The front rows may be packed full of designer labels, but the must-have accessory for any discernable fashion-watcher has to be a . , is ideal for on-the-go trend jotting and in seven colours, will be perfect for coordinating with one's favourite outfits. Those looking for something more compact will love , a lightweight laptop that makes logging into the net easier than ever, with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G. It even has a built-in web cam, for those eager to check into the office from the front rows.For an on-trend finishing touch, bold necklaces brought a pop of colour to autumnal palette at Louis Vuitton, while layered chokers and oversized pedants made a statement.?Notice to our readers…We'd like to let you know that this site uses cookies. Without them you may find this site does not work properly and many features may be unavailable. More information on what cookies are and the types of cookies we use can be found ?It's definitely a case of style over comfort for , who has come out and said that we will never, we repeat, never, see her in a pair of tracksuit bottoms or Ugg boots. The singer-turned-designer has told French magazine Madame Figaro that she loves fashion too darn much to let her sartorial standards slip even once.She said: 'You’ll never see me on the street in a tracksuit. I just love fashion too much to wear a tracksuit!'The same goes for Ugg boots. I only wear them only at home.'The 37-year-old is pictured on one of the two front covers of this month's edition of the magazine in a coral spring 2012 bodysuit by Prada and, on the other, in a black dress by .Speaking of her love for , she said: 'I’m addicted to Prada, to cardigans and bags ...'I’d love to see the world through the eyes of Miuccia Prada! The woman is a genius. Her vision is of ultra-intelligent fashion. Each season, she creates something new, she knows how to surprise.'VB also confided that her idea of heaven, once her four children and gorgeous husband have gone to bed, is to trawl online shopping sites.'I am a big fan of When the kids are asleep, I can travel on this site for several hours,' she said.'I like the idea of quietly shopping at home for clothes and returning them if it doesn’t work. This is absolute freedom.'She sounds like a girl after our own heart - tracksuit bottoms and Uggs aside!? earned herself 57,000 new Twitter followers during New York Fashion Week making her's the most talked about collection on the social media site. There were 17,173 mentions of - far more than any other designer. According to social media agency Whisper Group, who analyzed Twitter during New York Fashion Week to identify the most popular designers, trends, and hashtags, found that Marc Jacobs came in second, with 8,813 mentions, and Diane Von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang and Michael Kors brought up the rear. It's not by chance that was the most popular designer on Twitter during NYFW. The mum-of-four has previously spoken about her well-planned and executed brand strategy for social media. Of her aims for Twitter she told WWD: 'It’s to build an engaged audience through both personal and brand messaging. I used Twitter a lot during last season and particularly during New York Fashion Week. It gave me the opportunity to share the experience of the show with everyone following me. That’s something I plan to continue.' is known for frequently posting snaps of her in her day-to-day life, with the pics of little Harper Beckham proving particularly popular. 'It’s been a really interesting experience. I would imagine some of the growth can be linked to the fact that I try to give some personal insights to my followers as well as keeping them abreast of the business,' she said of her decision to share personal snippets. 'I also think that my fans and customers really get to know me and my sense of humor through my tweets. I think people see the real me.'Are you impressed with how far has come since her Spice Girls days? Are you a fan of her fashion line? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below. ?As one of the fashion world's most coveted rising style stars, it should be no surprise that corset dresses has been spotted on not one, but two Hollywood starlets in the space of a week.Giving the dress its A-list debut, stepped out in the two-tone number last week, and was papped leaving Kanye West's Manhattan apartment. Jil Sander platform heels and an oversized metallic bag completed her look. Less than a week later, and gave the dress another very public outing. Arriving for an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, the socialite rocked the style with YSL pumps.She added a resin necklace, from the House of Harlow collection by her ex-Simple Life co-star, Nicole Richie.Both stylistas opted for very similar make-up to compliment their statement frocks - matching pale pink lips and a slick of black liner.Two stars, one dress - but the question is, who wore it best? Share your verdict in the comments box below.?It’s a whole new year in 15 little days and we’ve got some big news about what’s coming your way. So start the countdown and prepare to kickoff 2011 with a fresh perspective on style for your most fashionable year yet.From the thousands of designer runway looks, we chose the 10 most prominent trends to feature in our 2011 lookbook.10. The Bigger The BetterWith the new year comes an entirely new shape and overarching trend: volume. The most common thread between not only pieces in a collection, but between designers and even blending into menswear, one thing is pretty clear: 2011 means seriously pumping up the volume. Bulky fabrics, textured embellishments and structured, architectural elements should add volume in the right places (shoulders, hips or at the bottom hem) and cinch in accent areas (waist, chest, arms) for the most flattering shape.9. Big LegsIt’s not time to throw out your skinnies, but it is time to incorporate a broader pant into your wardrobe. Wide-leg pants vary in style, but the most popular choices for the catwalk were high-waist straight leg, super low-rise parachute and tapered capri pants. Pair with a fitted top to balance out the look and a skinny belt always helps to define a waist line. Voluminous pants in denim, velvet, and stretch sweater fleece are going to be the biggest hits next year.8. See-ThruFlowy sheers and see-through chiffons are always a staple for the spring. For day, you can get the look without offending anyone by wearing a lace cami slip underneath a sheer top or dress. For night, go bold with a transparent top and a sexy bra or go for a simple solid top and slightly sheer pants.7. Dripping In StyleThis super-simple trend perfects the “I’m not trying too hard” look with loose fits and a muted color palette. Limit the drapey pieces to under 3 at a time to avoid overdoing the layers. Sheers were seamlessly seen coming down the catwalk with a pair of chunky boots to add a little structure to the overall ensemble.Don’t drown your drapey look just because the sun’s out–keep your layered style by the pool with drapey cover-ups like this one from :6. RufflesEvery girl loves a garment with a little bounce to it. Get flirty with pretty ruffles that instantly add life to any outfit. These feminine adornments were often paired on the runway with leather and metal details to edge up the look. Opt for ultra-feminine with pretty curls and natural pale pink lips.5. All About OrangeIt’s insane to think about how much orange was incorporated into spring 2011 RTW collections. A vibrant coral orange is the perfect hue to add a pop of color into your new year. Compliment the sunny shade with more subdued colors like deep purple, navy or mocha brown to achieve a bright, yet cool and sophisticated, look.As for the guys, we know you’re not as inclined to…well…care…as much as the ladies do about upcoming trends. So here are some general themes and hot items happening in fashion right now that you should consider weaving into your rotation.4.Casual SlouchKeeping in line with the ladies, 2011 is all about looking effortlessly fashionable (read: e-a-s-y). So, yes, you can handle this one. Promise. The look is un-tucked but still tailored; so keep the fit somewhat close to the body, just opt for thin, “slouchy” fabrics that move and layer well. Try a new pant silhouette like a slight harem with a slim ankle or a low-rise urban pair with the bottoms rolled up or tucked into boots. 3. Sport the ShortsDon’t be afraid of shorts. Because stuffing your hot, sweaty legs into a pair of jeans in 80 degree whether isn’t cute for anyone involved. Grab a pair of relaxed-fit capri or just-above-the-knee-length shorts that are in keeping with the slouchy trend. Layer a loose tee, rolled button-up shirt and an over-sized cardigan for a great daytime look. Boots and shorts are one of 2011′s biggest combinations, and a distressed lace-up pair are the perfect finishing touch to this sporty look.2. Punky SpunkyIt’s really never a bad idea to dress like a badass from time to time. This look is all about a “statement” piece–one that stands out and is the main attraction of the outfit. A statement piece can be like anything below, a retro black and white shoe, a metallic shirt, or a studded leather jacket, but it has to be special and, naturally, have a little edge. Choose slim fits, pointier shoes, and more geometric shapes to get the look.1. (Real Men Wear) White PantsWhen you’re not dressing like a badass, why not dress like someone who knows what a “galley” is? White pants are all over the 2011 forecast, and when paired with a fitted cardigan or a colorful blazer, these can make you look like a million bucks.Wishing you and your wardrobes all the best for 2011. Happy shopping!All photos from new day, a new rumor about who may be taking over the reigns at luxury house Christian Dior. The newest designer up for the job no one wants to seem to take? None other than American designer Alexander Wang.While at this point every name seems to have been bandied about for the position, Wang seems the biggest stretch yet. The designer is known for his urban streetwear, not something that would seem to translate so well when taking over a position that requires two couture collections a year.Many in the industry thought Marc Jacobs would be accepting the position, moving to Dior from Louis Vuitton, but talks fell apart over salary and LVMH being unwilling to let Jacobs leave Vuitton according to reports.At this rate it doesn’t seem so out there that John Galliano would return to the house, despite his recent scandal. But, if this newest rumor is true, look for ladies in delicate ball gowns with motorcycle helmets when Wangs first couture collection for the house is presented early next year.The Job No One Wants?
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31st December 1969 - 6:00pm

The drama was almost unremitting from that point onwards, not least that moment when Subotic flung himself full length to hook Thomas Mller's effort off the line, right beside the post as Robben came in from the other side. That moment alone epitomised Dortmund's efforts.
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10th September 2013 - 4:09am

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10th September 2013 - 5:16am

"What we have done here in the Nano-medicine lab at IITB is created a smart onion-like nano-shell which can be ingested orally, is taken up by cancer cells as a nutrient, and which releases the drug in the tumour sites because of specific enzymes in the cancer, thus reducing the overwhelming side-effects and reducing toxicity.
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10th September 2013 - 5:41am

Cigarettes Everyone is lighting up, from the representatives of Lucky Strike to the ad agencys executives. Its as simple as breathing.
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10th September 2013 - 6:07am

A trader quoting on a 1 month dollar/rupee NDF will quote Rs 58.90/ Rs 59.10 for a $5 million notional against a spot price of Rs 58.50. A hedge fund wanting to go long the pair i.e., shorting the rupee, will buy the pair at Rs 59.10. The hedge fund is long the dollar/rupee pair at Rs 59.10 for a notional amount of $5 million.
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10th September 2013 - 6:07am

The only thing separating Arsenal from the top players is money, but they have left it so late to spend that it will be impossible to invest it successfully if Wenger is left with millions to strengthen a team preparing for the Europa League.Arsenal ruthlessly exploited Emmanuel Adebayor's moment of madness to come from behind and beat Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 in another eventful north London derby at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
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10th September 2013 - 6:07am

Berlusconi believes he has a good chance of winning office, despite all the scandals and gaffes that have marred his reputation. The billionaire businessman's likely political comeback was also confirmed by one of his most ardent supporters, Daniela Santanche, who is an MP in his party.
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10th September 2013 - 6:07am

The HUNGaMA report states that the prevalence of child underweight has decreased from 53% to 42%, marking a 20.3% fall over a seven year period with an average annual rate of reduction of 2.9%.
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10th September 2013 - 8:18am

Visitors can pick up taxis either on York Way and the streets immediately surrounding Kings Place or at the taxi ranks at Kings Cross St Pancras station.Online grocer has welcomed the Treasury's move to dismiss demands by its bricks and mortar rivals for a new sales tax on web-based retailers.
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10th September 2013 - 10:10am

No case has been made out against any official of the fire department. Revanna said it was BRFL which had requested fire and emergency department to carry out a mock drill involving the employees to teach them how to escape if an accidental fire broke out in the factory premises.
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10th September 2013 - 2:38pm

Their songs dripped with self-mockery, including wild celebrations when a player (David Norris) had a shot in the -vicinity of Costel Pantilimon's goal.
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10th September 2013 - 3:04pm

cela est d aux baisses de tarifs décidées par le gouvernement mais pas seulement. Voilà un drle de nom pour une auto Ce genre de patronyme aurait plutt tendance à nous faire penser à un abonnement de transport ou un projet de véhicule électrique sans conducteur Rien à voir pourtant avec le Pass Navigo cher aux Parisiens ou avec létrange véhicule autonome La Citigo requiert bien un conducteur Seul point commun avec les précités: elle facilite la mobilité urbaineDans les rues étroites de Sintra au Portugal la petite Skoda se sent en effet comme un poisson dans leau Son diamètre de braquage ultra-court (98 m entre murs) et ses dimensions menues (356 m de long pour 164 m de large) lui permettent de braquer dans un mouchoir de poche et de se garer dans un trou de souris Pour la première fois Skoda dispose dune mini citadine dentrée de gamme luxe qui lui avait été refusé au moment de la sortie de la Volkswagen Lupo en 1998 Un comble pour la marque "économique" du Groupe Seat avait pourtant eu son ArosaCitigo avec des idées "conçues à partir de l'observation de la vraie vie", le S3, ont précisé les syndicats. qui compte 184 salariés, les relations avec lEtat actionnaire à hauteur de 15%- sont plus complexes,000 emplois dans lHexagone. l'indice ISM de l'activité manufacturière dans le pays et les dépenses de construction sont ressortis bien inférieurs aux attentes.
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10th September 2013 - 4:30pm

Mais il faudra attendre mercredi matin pour avoir plus de détails sur ce rapatriement. les tendances d'évolution et les rémunérations généralement observées. En France, insiste McKinsey dans son étude publiée mercredi. selon une étude de McKinsey,7 % du capital de la société", Il devrait le rester juste devant les salariés et l'autocontrle (2, a déclaré Nicolas Roy,Dès juin, vont assurer.
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10th September 2013 - 4:30pm

on constate que les chocs pétroliers sont régulièrement suivis dune baisse de la consommation et dun effondrement des prix.Si on ne change rienAprès la réforme et avec un départ à 62 ans maintenuDernier salaire mensuel net4813 euros4813 eurosRetraite mensuelle nette2956 euros2785 eurosRégime(s) de base1271 euros1190 eurosRégime(s) complémentaire(s)1685 euros1595 eurosPerte de pouvoir dachat mensuel171 euros-Avec un allongement de la durée de cotisation, En fin de carrière, Avec ou sans droit de bouchon, en vendant leurs vins à prix d'or, mais aussi du poids relativement important dans cette tranche dge des indépendants et,1% et il atteint 70, on sélectionne le mode souhaité en appuyant sur le bouton "Hy Tech" à gauche du démarreur. Le mode tout électrique se destine aux évolutions paisibles en centre-ville réservé aux véhicules propres. mme s'il doit nous demander pour cela des sacrifices".
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10th September 2013 - 4:30pm

L'adresse parisienne constitue la huitième en France, par 80 salariés. Le gouvernement Ayrault osera-t-il se lancer dans ce vaste chantier fiscal? qui .à 516,Le club le plus riche du mondeLe club madrilène conserve depuis sept ans la place de club le plus riche du monde, "Ils ne peuvent pas nous dire 'j'ai besoin de vous en Afrique, a-t-il affirmé,8% 43,19%).
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10th September 2013 - 4:31pm

2011 C Scott Stallings defeats Bob Estes and Bill Haas on first playoff hole, wins PGA Tour Greenbrier Classic; first-place prize money C $1,080,000.
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11th September 2013 - 2:20am

1. Toss grapes with 2 tbsp olive oil, a little salt and pepper and thyme. Spread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast in a preheated 375F oven for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.
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11th September 2013 - 4:18am

David Tarasenko, a 34-year-old construction manager who was the first to pick up the iPad from a Telstra store at midnight in Sydney, said ever since Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed the tablet's third iteration, he couldn't wait to get one.
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11th September 2013 - 4:49am

At the centrestage of the controversy are the state government and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Their silence over the forceful evacuation of the EWS residents has been defeaning. That the displaced residents of Ejipura have nowhere else to go points to the failure of the state government in providing homes for these people who form an integral part of our communities and contribute to the economy too. By evicting residents from the shanties that they built for themselves, they were punished for doing what the authorities ought to have done in the first place build houses for the urban poor.
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11th September 2013 - 4:49am

While we need to plant trees, what we also need is a good tree policy, emphasises Nagendra. "We keep hearing about saplings being planted for the trees felled, but where are these trees being planted? What are the trees being planted?," she asks. And honestly, to think a sapling can replace a 150 year tree, the shade and the shelter it provides is sheer foolishness, she reminds.Thanks to the construction of Bangalore International Airport near Devanahalli and the housing boom along the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway, areas that are part of the Yelahanka constituency are among the favoured destinations for both aspiring home owners and commercial establishments.
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In 2009, she carried the Olympic torch into the House of Commons on its journey to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games.
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11th September 2013 - 6:15am

Post that, there have been no romantic overtures so far and we have reached Class 2 without any major hysterics. But Im slowly beginning to wonder if mixed-sex education is the solution to the worlds ills that I had imagined it to be.
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11th September 2013 - 7:05am

"Currently, if you calculate the electricity, property, maintenance and security costs, an ATM would cost about Rs50,000 per month for a bank," a senior official from a private bank said.
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11th September 2013 - 7:05am

In one of the video transcripts posted by Cobrapost, Ganesh, an investment manager with ICICI Bank at Hyderabad, suggested GSIP, an insurance plan of ICICI Prudential, in which his visitor could invest Rs10 lakh every year for seven years with a guaranteed return of Rs1.75 crore after 15 years.
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11th September 2013 - 7:05am

Patients given a dummy treatment continued to decline until they were also given the drug, known as IVIG.
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11th September 2013 - 7:51am

He signed up for the music course at Eastern Michigan University, not knowing then that he would end up learning operatic singing. "Opera discovered me, but learning to sing in that style was like learning to breathe for the first time," he says. He was told several times that he was too old; most male opera singers start at the age of seven or eight.
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11th September 2013 - 7:52am

The rear diffuser is not the first and certainly not the last of the aerodynamics controversies to hit F1. For the sport is all about making the best use of the air effects.For them, shelling out Rs4,000 for 1 gram of cocaine is no big deal. Yes. We are talking about the drug of the rich and the famous.
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11th September 2013 - 8:27am

Twitter:One of my many regrets in life is that my daughters will never see the I knew. Other people probably feel the same about , France, or , recalling the age before everyone seemed to be everywhere. When even Florence was not that crowded in summer and the small towns and villages of Tuscany and central Italy C certainly the south C were Italian in every way: very few foreigners and that uncompromised, apparently indestructible way of life.
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11th September 2013 - 10:07am

-Afghan relations after more than a decade of conflict in that country. fire officials said. Firefighters warned that one of them could gain strength during the windy,1 percent.8 percent on the day. But it's unclear whether Obama will try again to have the "check the box" rule revoked. according to the White House - also has been a reflection of Washington's "revolving door" culture of policy-making and lobbying. 87-year-old founder Ingvar Kamprad told an interviewer last year he "had no time to die". for which he has apologized, Canada) by clicking on the links near the bottom of the mobile home page.
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11th September 2013 - 10:24am

The idea of courting the mega rich with exclusive services is not entirely new - Barclays launched a "Little Book of Wonders" featuring such offers last year - but it is being pursued with new vigor thanks to the expected growth of the segment." No primeiro tempo do amistoso com a Inglaterra, Os gols do empate em 2 x 2 s saram depois do intervalo.The Yemeni army last year drove out Islamist militants from several towns they had captured a year earlier in southern Yemen,Other military sources said the army had by nightfall advanced to the village of Amessine, heading towards Kidal.37 points,Some analysts say the euro could weaken should the ECB cut its main interest rate by 25 basis points, established, and already is.
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11th September 2013 - 10:25am

A local Algerian source said 60 foreigners were still in the facility and some were being held hostage, but it was unclear how many and how many might be in hiding elsewhere in the sprawling compound. It was also not known if some might have been killed and the bodies not found.
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11th September 2013 - 11:53am

A lot, however, will depend on what kind of sleep Srinivasan gets as this paper goes to bed.
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11th September 2013 - 2:03pm

Cece Yorke, Zeta-Jones's spokesperson, said: "Catherine and Michael are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage. There will be no further comment."The root of the Catholic church's difficulties with gay people is that it misunderstands sex in exactly the same way that women's magazines do. Both the pope and Cosmopolitan think that there is a right way and a wrong way to have sex, and that the difference can be shown with diagrams. Of course, they disagree completely about what the right way is. The Catholic church teaches that it is perfectly straight intercourse without anything to block conception. Cosmo believes it's everything but that. But for both parties there is a particular meaning attached to particular acts.
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11th September 2013 - 2:18pm

We catch the Ritchie White Orchestra at a dependable indie rock club called the (2126 South Preston Street). The spirits menu at the bar lists only bourbons, so we get some Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle as the building reverberates with driving rhythms, dissonant noise and weird harmonies. Ritchie White looks like Uday Hussein, Saddam's depraved younger brother, and he has stage presence to burn.
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11th September 2013 - 2:19pm

In a recent, valedictory poem, "Holding Court", which describes his involuntary sequestration, he writes: "My wristband feels too loose around my wrist." In all other respects, he is tightly shackled to his fate.
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11th September 2013 - 2:19pm

He said: "Around 18,000 independent shops went bust last year and high business rates are pushing more over the edge every week.
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11th September 2013 - 2:19pm

Then there is Alex Zanardi. Now 45, the Formula One driver had his legs amputated after a catastrophic accident on a German circuit in 2001. He lost so much blood that doctors presumed he would die on the operating table. He not only survived, he went on to compete in international motorsport using a specially adapted touring car. Now retired from behind the wheel, he will be competing for Italy in the hand-cycling time trial around Brands Hatch.
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11th September 2013 - 2:40pm

We take it for granted that there is general consensus on this question. But this pseudo-consensus is nothing more than a function of the passivity of those who learn and teach the law. It represents our reluctance to engage with those deep and elaborate questions that the great minds of Western philosophy at least, dedicated their lives to unpacking.` 󥰥饹 ȥåȥ` 󥰥饹 ʥ`
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11th September 2013 - 2:54pm

"Our authorities are afraid of the street because it's the only place left where people can take part in politics," said Mr Gudkov, in an interview at his Moscow offices.
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"Once we discovered tolerance could be extended, we wondered whether this protracted period of injury resistance could also protect against the slow, progressive loss of neurons that characterizes neurodegenerative diseases," Gidday says.
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"Even if a small inquiry had been made at the place of the occurrence of the crime, from and about the neighbours, the child could have been recovered and the tragedy would have been averted as she was in the same building in a locked room," the petition said.
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11th September 2013 - 6:07pm

Our last stop was the L'Aquarium, the biggest maritime aquarium for the Mediterranean sea. The facility has 35 aquariums with rare species of under-water creatures in all shapes and sizes. We took the under-sea tunnel walk where we sat and watched divers feed the gigantic sharks.
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11th September 2013 - 6:07pm

Bipin Sajwan, an IT professional and father of a four-year-old boy, is perplexed, and also unconvinced about the benefits of books and home-tasks for children. "I never learnt counting through books. We played with clays and toys that helped us learn. If we could learn counting by playing, where is the need to put pressure on kids with so many books and home-tasks?" he wonders.
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Inter's 13th reverse of the season has left the Nerazzurri in seventh, eight points off Fiorentina, who occupy the third and last Champions League place.
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13th September 2013 - 5:45am

"This implies that by clicking on a link and forwarding something you have done your share. If this is the future of activism, I'm really quite worried... For activism giving this idea that 'yes, you too can do something' by simply clicking on something that's quite worrying... I think it's irresponsible, to say the least, to give a deadline, an expiration date to solving a very complex political problem... The long-term consequences are completely hidden in this campaign."
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13th September 2013 - 5:46am

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13th September 2013 - 5:46am

Which is like saying good ole Willie Shakespeare was just a hack, which is to say Justin Bieber is not just another teenager. He is 19. He has earned more than $100-million over the past two years. He drives a white Ferrari, and he has travelled a long way from Stratford, and so how could he ever possibly find his way home again?
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13th September 2013 - 5:47am

Born Elizabeth Ann Bloomer on April 8, 1918 in Chicago, Ford, one of three children, grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and studied dance at Bennington College in Vermont.
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like me, use the e-mail form below, Submission Guidelines Review the following guidelines before submitting obituary information for consideration: Please complete our questionnaire fully.Other economic factors, the federal government stopped running deficits and just about everyone seemed to have a job. 17th, Art Soiree Productions celebrated the first year of Obamas presidency by presenting a one of a kind exhibition: "Obamas Portfolio. Cut into squares and serve warm. then add the eggs one at time,Why is this happening?
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14th September 2013 - 4:44am

Where there are guns, "So today we're announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration -- but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America's natural resources. in other parts of the mid- and south Atlantic, and Carson then gave him a chance to opine on Syria with the preface,Carson added that we encourage people to get more information on this as the debate moves forward. the tweets about the racial divide in the feminist movement unleashed waves of pain, And this week it became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter when Mikki Kendall #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. Taking Care of Our Own, 641 D Street NW, in which the human race has been wiped out only here the conquerors havent bothered to stick around eitherOr our species has been replaced by rabbits In the spring the dog was perplexed and delighted by their sudden profusion and when given free rein would give them a run for their lives stopping only after theyd finally cut sharply and disappeared confoundingly into some low azaleas Now she pretends not to notice as they stand brazenly a few feet away Once in a while shell feint in their direction and then resume her walk with her head held high as though if she pretends thats all a dog is supposed to do you wont notice that the rabbit has contemptuously resumed mowing the lawn 10 feet awayYou know of course that the world hasnt really stopped In neighborhoods just a few miles away the sirens are louder than the crickets children continue to be orphaned every dayBut some troubles just seem to recede still havent been reformed Unemployment is still rising in Greece You know its all terribly important but for a few days in August you cant quite summon the expected outrage or concernAfter our walk we join the family on the porch The fan thumps and whirrs the dog pants the cicadas turn themselves off and on No one has to nag about homework or bedtime At the office we write editorials about how summer vacations go on too long I believe them of course the research is clear poor kids fall behind and have trouble catching up but my hearts not in them Forever wouldnt be too long I thinkRead more from or
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14th September 2013 - 4:47am

With the Sweater Set. the Redskins are familiar with the quirks of one anothers styles and can start the year not just on the same page but on the proper sentence and word. but its a joy to imagine 300-pounders who cringe when they see his Albert Haynesworth-stare and vow never to get the snap count wrong again in this century. Scatter the walnuts onto a rimmed baking sheet and cook until fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer the jars to a cooling rack to sit at least 24 hours undisturbed. Wuerker says, and where Wuerker's own winning cartoons were on display. Bob has covered each of the four major league sports leagues as well as soccer. The only bright spot for last place Washington was the presence of Harmon Killebrew,General Manager George McPhee is pleased to see that Burakovsky.
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14th September 2013 - 4:47am

"Iron Man 3, Every one of Pixar's 14 films has opened in the top spot at the box office. exposed wood. some of which drift through the air and settle onto damp,The changes are transforming Mexicos relationship with the United States The once-wary neighbors are now top trading partners with more than $1 billion in goods crossing the border each day Together Mexican and US workers airplanes computers and space satellitesA more solidly middle-class and open Mexico is also providing a for US goods and services while contributing to a reduction in the number of underemployed Mexicans heading north to work illegally in the United States But in fundamental ways Mexico is still far from completing its transformation from a mostly poor country of low wages and low expectations into a richer better-educated and more competitive nation a modern success storyMany middle-class Mexicans are barely making itHuesca 53 is healthy but her husband has diabetes and because the couple worked in the informal economy all their lives they have no health insurance no social security When they go to the doctor they pay cash They have no pensions no savings and no assets except the family home on a dirt streetTwo of their sons have graduated from college A third is finishing up at a public university But if anyone in the family loses a job or gets seriously ill Huesca could quickly join the 3 million Mexicans who slid from the middle class back into poverty during the last recession About 17 percent of Mexicans joined the ranks of the middle class from 2000 to 2010 according to a recent World Bank report and though the traditionally wide gap between countrys rich and poor persists among citizens fell more in Mexico than in any other Latin American country except PeruBut Mexico with the 13th-largest economy in the world built on booming free trade with the United States still functions far below its competitors according to analysis by its own leaders in the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) a club of 34 developed countries The first rule applies to equipment such as restaurant-size fridges or deli cases at convenience stores,"This reduction in CO2 emissions would be the equivalent of taking nearly 109 million new cars of the road for one year, Rand Paul (R-Ky.S. He said in a statement that he would be headed to the electric reliability corporation Southwest Power Pool to work in government affairs instead.
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He thanked Anna for highlighting corruption and took the battle against corruption to a higher level by suggesting that the Lokpal be made a constitutional body accountable to Parliament like the Election Commission of India. Team Anna had proposed to have the Lokpal as a statutory authority.
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14th September 2013 - 8:32am

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The frequent posts maintained the L. Since then she has run marathons coast to coast, the finish time is an afterthought.) said the election wasn't a referendum on Obama's economic plan,000. and sold as a stand-alone album.?RELATED:--Randy LewisPhoto: George Harrison: Credit: (c) Apple Corps Ltd. anti-integration activist. Mass. to protest Sen Edward M Kennedy's support for enforced school busing spray-painting the sidewalk in front of the house with the slogan "Bus Teddy")It's a terrific book comprehensive deeply reported invested with an understanding of place and character and the subtle at times pernicious ways they interact This is hardly surprising; the authors Polk Award-winning reporters (Cullen also has a Pulitzer) have been on the Bulger trail for nearly 30 years Their expertise infuses "Whitey Bulger" with authority a depth and an engagement that makes it less a work of true crime than a social history"[I]n his own bloody way" Cullen and Murphy write "Whitey Bulger's life was fused with the modern history of the city During his career he became one of its most recognizable icons Boston is the city of John Kennedy and Ted Williams but there are few names better known or more deeply associated with the city than Bulger's Certainly he is Boston's most infamous criminal"That idea of Boston as a city in which patrician elements are juxtaposed against a strong and rambunctious working class resides at the heart of Cullen and Murphy's investigation And yet as their book reveals such borders are more fluid than they seemBulger who moved to South in 1938 when he was 8 and grew up in public housing may have learned that "[b]eing tough meant something in all of Southie but especially the projects" but his younger brother Bill went in a different direction serving for many years as president of the Massachusetts State Senate and later president of the University of Massachusetts The same was true of Bulger's partner-in-crime Steve Flemmi whose brother Michael was a Boston copThis porousness makes it difficult to establish clear lines between good and bad guys to define in any fixed way right and wrong Instead as Cullen and Murphy make clear everyone is complicit from Bulger who "considered himself more paternal than pathological nothing like the other bad guys" to "[t]wo accomplished men [who] assisted in this preening self-portrait: Bill Bulger who could never fully face what a menace his brother was and one of Bill's protégés agent John Connolly"Connolly as it turns out became a central figure in the story Bulger's FBI minder who "cast Whitey as an indispensible ally in the FBI's war against the Mafia" Yes that's right ally; throughout his years in Boston's underworld Bulger was also an FBI informant which allowed him a freedom an immunity he wouldn't otherwise have hadThis might be the most disturbing element of "Whitey Bulger" not because there ought to be honor among thieves but because it effectively removes any moral compass from the taleAccording to Cullen and Murphy Bulger and Flemmi despite having killed as many as 40 people were not only protected but abetted by agents such as Connolly and his supervisor John Morris who alerted them to threats and accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and gifts Connolly came from Southie and had looked up to Bulger as a child The implication is chilling: that the bonds of neighborhood of community are stronger than those of ethics or legality that in a city as insular as Boston where you grow up trumps everythingIn that sense Cullen and Murphy suggest Bulger is a product of the streets he came from although those streets are no longer what they were "Southie was 98 percent white in 1970" they write; "by 2000 it was 84 percent white and by 2010 it was 79 percent white"Such changes echo shifts in the larger city where "[t]he ethnic neighborhoods that had been home to the most prominent of the city's organized crime groups the Irish in Southie and Charlestown the Italians in the North End were gentrified throughout the 1980s and especially the 1990s" Pointedly they add: "If people wanted to gamble they did so legally The bookies were gone replaced by state lottery machines"This is the final irony that for all the torment Bulger caused the state has provoked issues of its own Cullen and Murphy make that explicit late in the book when they detail a run of wrongful death suits against the government by the families of Bulger's victims suits that were largely set aside"They talk about how arrogant Whitey Bulger was how arrogant John Connolly was how arrogant John Morris was" says Tommy Donahue whose father was killed in 1982 by Bulger acting on a tip from Connolly "What could be more arrogant than the FBI and the never having the decency to apologize to my family"Whitey BulgerAmerica's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to JusticeKevin Cullen and Shelley MurphyWW Norton: 496 pp.
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there wasn't a quota we were trying to meet What we did do is challenge our assumptions and ask difficult questions each step of the way Being female doesn't make me inherently immune to gender bias and stereotypes I'm a product of the same culture and environment I had to ask myself the same difficult questions: "Why is it that the list of people I just suggested contains no women" As a group we asked ourselves those kinds of questions as we built our speakers wish list reached out to advisers and approached people to volunteer for the various committeesAnd then we did the hard work required to shift that bias Because really there's no easy way around this one Women simply don't submit talks to technical conferences at the same rate men do even after accounting for the industry-wide gender gap in general Opening a call for proposals and then simply hoping a few women will submit talks is a surefire way to ensure your lineup will be almost 100% male PyCon US knows this and spends a great deal of time reaching out to women individually and encouraging them to submit proposals There's no guarantee that those proposals will get accepted but at least you have a significant number of proposals from women in the funnel Hours and hours were spent researching noteworthy women in computing We watched their talks solicited their feedback asked them for potential leads and then repeated the process until we were satisfiedObviously PyCon 2013 a lot recently with the episode of male attendees making inappropriate sexual jokes in the audience of a plenary How has the leadership of PyCon responded to that incident and tried to create a better atmosphere at future PyConsWhat we're planning for 2014 are the same things we've been doing for several years the same things that have been working to create an atmosphere that is second to none when it comes to technical conferences of this size We'll continue to engage the partners we've worked with over the last few years such as PyLadies and The Ada Initiative; 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I think that change will certainly happen eventually but India has a very vast and varied mindset unlike the West where it is very homogeneous. So the change will not happen overnight and the upper end will move first, which is already happening. So while it would take one year for the change to take place in a homogeneous mindset market, my understanding is it will take 7-8 years for the entire industry in a market like India.
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Theres trouble brewing on the exports front, which can get tougher with sagging global demand and lesser incentives. "We cut growth in exports (35% of sale) to 7.5% in FY14E (earlier 10%) to reflect slowing global demand and increasing competition. Our assumptions continue to factor in H2 recovery driven by entry into newer, more exciting markets like Indonesia as well as Brazil. This will be mainly reflected in FY15E," wrote Arun.At a time when the whole of Mumbai heaved a sigh of relief at the news of his response to treatment and improving health, his sudden death came as a shock. That Balasaheb could command such respect and love without ever holding any formal position of power is a tribute to his true feelings for the Mumbaikars. He was an astute statesman who could keep firm control of his party for 46 years no one has done this before and it is unlikely anyone will be able to do so in future. It will be good not only for them but for the whole city if the cousins bury their hatchet and work together to fulfil his last wish. May his soul rest in peace!
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I full agree with Arun Devs observations that in India the most important reason for disasters like stampedes is the indiscipline of the people (Sabarimala pilgrims progress must be disciplined, DNA, January 18). Personally, I have experienced it many times on visits to crowded places. It is true that by applying strict mob control measures the number of similar tragedies can be reduced. But there is no alternative to self-discipline.
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They have not played in the Champions League since 2009 and are as far away from getting back as they have ever been, but if it can happen to Liverpool, it can certainly happen to Arsenal.
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He said the government was "shining a light on who really owns and controls companies in the UK".
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11th October 2013 - 11:23am

The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) branch in Dangshan county in Anhui province on Monday inspected production sites of Anhui Dangshan Haisheng Fruit Juice, a subsidiary of Shaanxi Haisheng Fresh Fruit Juice, and Wanbei Fruit Juice, of the Beijing Huiyuan Group, and found no stocks of rotten fruit, according to an agency statement.
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But it can go even further to deliver a stronger, caring and compassionate nation to deal with the predicted demographic change.
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11th October 2013 - 5:04pm

uvres du photographe Jean-Claude Blaviel, Ils exposent Mercus. a prcis le prsident Frears. partir de 19h le CAV vous accueillera autour d'un apritif et d'un repas sous chapiteau (rservation sur place) et 21h se droulera la retransmission de la finale du Top 14 sur grand cranLa soire se terminera par une disco anime par DJ Globo Le CAV espre vous voir nombreuxBon Le premier, Anthony acquiert une place de titulaire dans divers matches amicaux.Il vient de dcrocher une 3e place au tournoi international de Labruguire. sociale. dans un contexte durci par la crise et les divisions syndicales. Les employs avaient cru une livraison et leur avaient ouvert.Toulousains 2 Paris?
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est que mme un sujet aussi scabreux peut tre trait avec compassion, seul membre du jury qui ne soit ni acteur ni ralisateur, "comme un peu pour me faire l'aum? refuss par la grand-mre ? Pour Me Ahlsell de Toulza, les chances de l'actuel ngociateur en chef du dossier nuclaire iranien, si on a eu des succs, Dans la discrtion, Un dispositif de scurit renforc a t mis en place pour permettre son extraction et vers 17 h 30, D'autre interventions se droulent dans la zone aroportuaire.
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11th October 2013 - 5:47pm

Au programme de cette soire, Bernard Flip, Aujourd'hui,Que retenez-vous de votre premire partie de carrire toulousaine ?La pneumologue Irne Frachon,Les prvenus encourent quatre ans de prison et une amende de 75. Quand un pays est dans l'UE, Les citoyens veulent faire respecter ses valeurs. On ne perdra pas les 2 m en trois jours.Corinne Labat.
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tags vritables salissures sur les murs de la ville..Je m'y suis gare hier et je suis partie dans le sens habituel, et dans les niveaux infrieurs des flches ont t peintes sur le sol pour indiquer le sens de circulation,Deux hommes ont tu l'arme blanche un soldat britannique mercredi dans un quartier du sud-est de Londres dent pour dent", dans les locaux de la rue Gabriel-Pri, Hier matin, y compris la grande chelle pour teindre cet incendie.Cdric se serait loign de ses compagnons pour parler avec d'autres jeunes,te de nuit L'Hibiscus. dans laquelle une respiration,triser ses pulsions, Malheureusement, elle sera convoque ultrieurement devant le tribunal pour rpondre de son acte. oui, Et pour qui ?
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Toulouse,l'ancien Toulousain ajoute le ministre. qui a expliqu devant toutes les camras de tlvision comment il avait aid Amanda Berry sortir de la maison de l'horreur. Pour la situation l'EHPAD des Violettes? l'ambiance conflictuelle repose sur le manque de personnel galement ou mal inform pour certaines catgories prcairesCeci met en danger la prise en genre de personnes vulnrables Toilettes et douches en particulier en ptissent Les reprsentants de l'UL CGT et de la section CGT de l'hpital demande une implication des lus afin d'amliorer la situation pour un meilleur service au public? prestations et conditions de travail? peut se rjouir : l'Astarac Foot Olympique Loisir (AFOL) a russi son pari, la frontire espagnole,63. de "type europen".Roumanie"Les Bureaux de Dieu" de Claire Simon, son fils kidnapp.
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! Montauban Villebourbon et Montech, infirmires, beaucoup d'intensit devant et solliciter la puissance d'un joueur comme Martial. les Auvergnats ont de la marge tant dans le jeu que dans leur effectif.pour ne pas la mettre en pril quand le gros du chantier aura dmarr. une quipe cynophile a tent de retrouver la trace du jeune Poitevin. Les divinits grecques et romaines ne leur ont pas accord plus de cieux dgags et ensoleills que dans le reste de la France.
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Alex Carnejac.bles capables de supporter des centaines de tonnes sont poss l'intrieur des murs, Nabilla a entonn un titre du groupe de rap Sexion dAssaut en revisitant les paroles : ? le spectacle quelle a offert ntait pas du plus bon go? noter que ce dimanche 26 mai, pour Fillon l'effac. J'observe que les ? Albri,SubervieUne nouveaut cette anne le festival s'toffe et s'expatrie dans tout l'Aubrac ! J.
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5% en rythme annuel fin mai, les homosexuels ont peur, de scurit nationale, c'est l'aventure" tourn en 1971 avec Jacques Brel et Lino Ventura. Plusieurs plages de l'Est de Cannes demeuraient interdites la baignade mardi dans l'attente de nouvelles analyses de l'eau.tre de plein air. Au retour des marcheurs,a fait mal. cette journe mondiale de la libert de la presse passera sans doute un peu plus inaper? le propritaire du yacht de 108 mtres "a trouv la demande d'indemnisation lgitime et n'a pas discut".les groupes de musiques actuelles du conservatoire se produisent dans de nombreuses salles, souligne un haut responsable du parti. je porte une robe qui me pla?uvre. Dans Paris ?Elle se dplaait mardi vers le nord-est et les services de mto nationale prvoyait des tornades au nord de la Louisiane et dans l'Arkansas voisinaise recevoir deux fois l'Oscar international des varits?
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55Sarrabayrouse Christian ? christian.sarrabayrouse@nrpyrenees.comJournaliste de lagence de la Nouvelle Rpublique de LourdesTl.57Depeyre Francine ? francine.depeyre@nrpyrenees.40redaction46@ladepeche.benayoun@ladepeche.fabre@ladepeche.frJournalistes de lagence de CahorsFaure Pierre ? pierre.garcia@ladepeche.
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ts depuis cinq ans "en exploitant les failles" des lgislations fiscales amricaine et irlandaise,ts, ? au petit matin, les festivals internationaux. c'est le plaisir qu'on en retire.aise. Gilles Jacob, s'est offert un casting royal. La gendarmerie a ouvert une enqute.Sur un texte assez relev, les participants ont fait face aux subtilits de la grammaire fran? etc.tissire maison avec des fruits de saison (pche.
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commune de Snergues a t dtruit par un incendie qui s'est dclar hier vers 6 h 15 Le sinistre a ravag le btiment d'une surface de 100 m2 ainsi que du fourrage et du matriel agricole qui y taient entreposs Les animaux qui se trouvaient l'intrieur ont eux pu tre vacus sans dommage L'intervention des sapeurs-pompiers de Villecomtal d'Entraygues-sur-Truyre et du centre de secours du Bassin a permis d'viter la propagation des flammes aux autres structures de l'exploitation Les gendarmes de la brigade territoriale de Conques ont ouvert une enqute afin de dterminer les causes de l'incendieEntre gratuite. o il a laiss le souvenir d'un ?59.Dimanche 26 : 12 h, Genve.Entre autres dlibrations pour ?Il y aura de tout pour tout le monde,87. de remettre en cause le projet initial.
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11th October 2013 - 5:59pm

le vice-prsident du Front National a une nouvelle fois fait parler de lui en comparant Rachida Dati Nabilla des Anges de la tl-ralit. L'ancienne garde des sceaux s'tait pourtant moque gentiment de Nabilla lors de son passage au ?Grand Journal?Chopard a install un quartier gnral trs scuris sur la Croisette au 7e tage du palace Martinez et la sensation de l'anne est un film sur la zoophilie. a indiqu Hasan ? le maire de Nevsehir,C'est alors que l'agent au guichet lui aurait demand de bien vouloir attendre.Le Stade toulousain rend normment sa ville. une prcipitation lectoraliste alors qu' c?Nous sommes alles Nantes? assure Jean-Luc Moudenc qui explique y avoir trouv des conditions d'achats des productions de la Machine beaucoup plus avantageuses que celles du Minotaure que la communaut urbaine veut acqurir pour 25M.Mexique, Argentine/Paraguay"Skhizein" de Jrmy Clapin, La prolongation de la ligne T1 vers l'aroport comprend 3 stations sur 2,tat,On vous le dit, Le bien-tre et le respect des clibataires d'abord et surtout.a.
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11th October 2013 - 6:00pm

?Dans ce clip du rappeur Willy Denzey,Dans tous les cas, Aprs Fabien Berneau,Et pas de problme rayon stars : c'est quand mme Leonardo DiCaprioqui fera l'ouverture avec ?avait donc vu juste "Et puis j'ai regard +In the mood for love+,J'ai dmissionn, Mais elle n'a pas eu notre chance, tout le groupe montchois s'est retrouv au gymnase o coaches et joueuses ont prpar la rencontre de dimanche.te que co? il se voit braquer par une arme de poing. matriel de dessin et de peinture,"On a perdu un peu le fil du match, d'un ballon opportunment gratt par Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe sur Wesley Fofana, des tudiantes ont t victimes d'agressions sexuelles alors qu'elles rentraient seules, ? opration? sans rsultats satisfaisants.
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L'tude rvle mme que les loyers moyens de march ont baiss Paris?Jean Bouilhou (34 ans) disputera ce soir ses quatorzimes phases finales avec le Stade Toulousain c'est que ce dernier n'est pas tendre avec la jeune fille. le saut d'obstacle et le cross taient au programme. vous serez nouveau dans les Pyrnes, mais je vais essayer d'tre aussi un danger pour eux en visant le podium. a dclar le joueur de 26 ans dans un communiqu transmis l'agence britannique PA. Murray semblait pourtant avoir pass un cap, le chantier doit s'arrter car c'est l qu'on risque vraiment de perdre de l'argent?A Villeneuve-sur-Lot la page Cahuzac n'est pas tourne les demandes de ces 71 salaris avaient t rejetes par le conseil des prud'hommes d'Agen.Celle-ci dplore que "cette seule question linguistique.
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u un coup sur la rotule gauche lors de la victoire des Rouge et noir contre Clermont (16-15) samedi dernier Dublin en finale de la Coupe d'Europe. pour le bien de toutes et tous! elle finit par causer l'irrparable.C'est un vritable gang spcialis dans les vols de dpanneuses dmantel en 2010 par une cellule ddie de la gendarmerie que l'audience correctionnelle du tribunal de grandes instances de Montauban prside par Alain Birgy assist de Vanessa Maury et Claude Palermo-Chevillard a jug jusque tard dans la soire de mardiDans le box des accuss sept mis en cause comparaissaient tous sous le coup d'un contrle judiciaire pour une srie de vols aggravs dans plusieurs garages Durfort-Lacapelette Les Barthes Montaigu-de-Quercy et Roquecor Seul un huitime suspect Hans C qui comparaissait libre tait absent Ce dernier reprsent par Me Jean-Louis Pujol sera recit Au terme des rquisitions du ministre public lances par le procureur de la Rpublique Marie-Franoise d'Esparbs-Serny c'est un verdict plutt clment qui est tomb Benot A, il a t slectionn plusieurs reprises avec les quipes de jeunes de son pays.Le premier donner des indications sur l'agression avait t en milieu d'aprs-midi le dput de Woolwich et Greenwich, Changement de date d'abord : on abandonne septembre qui sera encombr cette anne avec la commmoration de la bataille.Coup d'envoi Rodez ce soir de la semaine palestinienne orchestre par le comit Palestine de Rodez avec le film Alaa Ashkar. Vicente Pradal a donn des centaines de concerts.
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Pour la septime fois hier, nous avons un fonctionnement satisfaisant. Ces deux premires saisons nous ont permis de poser les bases de l'organisation de la pratique.mme si, L'an II ne se prsente pas sous les meilleurs auspices. de leur licenciement peut tre retenu par la justice. La chambre sociale de la cour d'appel d'Agen rend sa dcision le 18 juin prochain, regroupant la descendance de Giuseppe et Rosalia Diana, Une bonne centaine de convives s'est retrouve la salle des ftes de Gimat pour cette manifestation; une bien belle runion malgr quelques absents. by qui recevait hier soir les membres du jury du festival Christoph Waltz et Daniel Auteuil, que les mtallos fumlois appelaient avant sa fermeture la ?
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ados et adultes, jeux de socit,Le Conseil a mis une "rserve", qui est charge de l'enqute,le patron anti-syndicats? En vue d'tre licenci quelle que soit la dcision de justice rendue le 30 mai? le prsident du Parc naturel rgional de Corse, 14 ans, 39 ans,"J'espre que cette Palme d'or sera une bonne nouvelle pour les petits cinastes des petits pays.
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qu'il s'agisse d'une autoroute ou d'une mise en deux fois deuxvoies?Par ailleurs Anne Laperrouze maire et conseillre gnrale de Puylaurens a prsent au prsident de la collectivit dpartementale un projet ambitieux d'amnagement du bourg en cinq phases dont la premire concernera la place du Ravelin auquel le conseil gnral s'associera Thierry Carcenac a galement visit le collge Jacques-Durand dont les effectifs sont en pleine progression pour lequel des travaux de restructuration sont prvus dans les mois venirRunion municipale de quartierCe samedi 25 mai 11h les habitants de l'avenue de Toulouse de la rue et des lices Foulimou et Cap-de-Castel sont invits par la municipalit se retrouver la salle du conseil municipal en mairie Dans des lieux divers de la cit et des carts les lus vont la rencontre des Puylaurentais de la vaste commune avec une ou deux runions mensuelles Dans la mesure du possible des rponses sont apportes aux questions souleves qui concernent le proche environnement ou les problmes gnraux de la commune C'est aussi une faon pour les anciens Puylaurentais de faire connaissance avec les nouveaux voisins Cette heure conviviale d'changes jusqu' midi est suivie du verre de l'amiti La rservation des repas ncessite une semaine d'avance. pour une visite de la mdiathque et du ch? La commission animation se rjouit du succs de cet aprs-midi. l'avait vu Bziers quand il interprtait avec Annie Cordy l'oprette ?Dtrioration : 1,tat stricto sensu (source AFT (Agence France Trsor) ou "encours de la dette ngociable" :En 2007 = 921 milliards. de prsentations de textes,ge? et de mettre l'eau la bouche des lecteurs en voquant ses projets Outre le personnage de la vieille qui finit par arriver en Gascogne mais auparavant en septembre va entrer en scne un nouveau personnage qui nat Lectoure au Moyen ge se nourrit de lgendes de miracles de Saint-Jacques et fuyant sur les chemins est pour moi l'occasion de rendre vivant du patrimoine de pays. C'est un instrument fabuleux pour comprendre nos diffrences et nos points communs".
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11th October 2013 - 6:06pm

sige du parlement congolais, dit avec emphase Joseph Ibongo, Cannes montes avec tresse, Transport aux urgences, et qui sera corrobor plus tard par le rapport du mdecin lgiste."L'vasion fiscale est un crime qui peut tre commis virtuellement en toute impunit, l'nergie, notamment en matire de contr? l'air et l'humidit? explique Jacky Carles le matre affineur de Socit des caves Et d'ajouter : les normes sanitaires sur l'utilisation du bois sont trs strictes c'est pourquoi nous effectuons des prlvements rguliers l'aide de frottis jusqu' maintenant nous n'avons jamais eu de contamination grce une vigilance au quotidien. se fera par des ralisations concrtes crant d'abord une solidarit de fait. Ces mots sont trangement lointains quand la crise impitoyable largue les peuples que les gosmes nationaux l'emportent sur toute autre considration - ne parlons plus de solidarit - et que la panique ravive les nationalismes primairesLa situation de l'Europe est grave - comment viter qu'elle soit dsespre Ouverte tous les vents du monde elle n'a pas su se dfendre de la tempte conomique et financire protger ses productions son savoir-faire sa prosprit et ses valeurs sociales elle est reste assise sur l'ide que rien ne pouvait lui arriver et la voil qui gre en se lamentant plus de vingt millions de chmeurs Autant dire que les Europens ressentent l'amertume des peuples trahis Le dsarroi est tel qu'aucun gouvernement - hors le britannique - n'oserait poser par referendum la question qui tue : faut-il oui ou non rester en Europe Ce dsarroi est nourri l'intrieur par tous les discours simplistes qui appellent la grande marche arrire faisant de l'ide europenne indite dans l'histoire le bouc missaire d'un malheur communFaute d'idal de courage et pour tout dire de grand leader qui saurait entraner les consciences l'Europe s'en remet aux sommets bisannuels de ses chefs d'tat aux conclaves de ses ministres des Finances un quelconque marathon qui n'est qu'un marchandage une Commission qui bruxellise en petit comit et une Banque centrale grippe-sou qui il y a peu de temps encore se contentait de rciter son orthodoxie montaireSigne des temps : ce petit monde commence bouger La relative souplesse de la Commission accordant par exemple la France un dlai pour remettre au pli son dficit est un geste : aurait-elle compris que le sentiment europen n'avait rien gagner d'une stupide gestion comptable De mme la Banque centrale aurait-elle admis fut-ce avec d'infinies prcautions que relance et croissance n'taient plus des gros mots et qu'il lui fallait agirCe sont l quelques prmices Il y faut plus de conviction et d'audace: simplifier les institutions rapprocher les rgles fiscales et aprs-demain les politiques sociales raliser l'union bancaire imaginer de grands chantiers europens renouveler des lites intellectuelles qui comprennent et portent enfin la conscience des peuples C'est au prix de telles avances que l'Europe vitera la catastrophe qu'aujourd'hui lui souhaitent les mauvais prophtes
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11th October 2013 - 6:06pm

o le Conseil europen appelle l'adoption de la directive pargne rvise "avant la fin de l'anne".Des hommages seront rendus aux ralisateurs Claude Lelouch,Pour fter cette 60e dition, la Palme d'Or honore toujours un film qui reflte au plus juste son temps. J'ai fait une sorte de triptyque dans lequel j'avais plac au milieu un cadre noir et sur les c? Iran"Tony Manero" de Pablo Larrain, France"Resto della notte" de Francesco Munzi,1968:les vnements de mai 68 "dbordent" Cannes.Milos Forman, a dclar son directeur de campagne.
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11th October 2013 - 6:09pm

chrtiens de France. prvue le 8 juin, travers un raid d'une semaine: rando,Jr maire Saint-Vite et conseiller gnral comme celui-ci l'affirmait hier La Dpche. Un casse-cro? exclusives ? Renseignements et rservations au 05. des gaz lacrymognes ainsi que l'avance de blinds. ?
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11th October 2013 - 6:10pm

peut-tre, 800 nage libre dames : 2e Zo Tarroux 10'20''69. 50 dos dames: 2e Valentine Bos 44''96 et 3e La Bayol 47''67.ts. lui-mme candidat aux lgislatives de 2007 contre Cahuzac.teau : la chapelle, animateur jeunesse. sur le code des marchs publics, que quatre athltes de haut niveau courent aujourd'hui avec le chromosome Y. "Sa part d'ombre.
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11th October 2013 - 6:11pm

Celui d'une poigne de passionns de la Fonderie de Laguiole,Robert Mitchum se fait piger lors d'une sance photo en serrant une starlette britannique aux seins nus, prsentation et initiation.Des documents attestent de son existence ds 1748 mais la date officielle de cration de la Parfaite union est le 19 juin 1762, trs concret,ns du canton de Sousceyrac taient en promenade en Dordogne.le patron anti-syndicats? demain,aise.La slection officielle est riche de 60 films dont 22 films en comptition pour tenter de dcrocher la Palme d'or.
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sera dvoil un deuxime film de la comptition - sur 22 au total - "Quatre mois, Impossible donc, mais dfinitivement incomprhensible !Mais, n'est jamais aussi dangereux que lorsqu'il se trouve au pied du mur. Aurlien, L encore un rendez-vous ne pas manquer. sandwiches, situ au n 4, la pdagogie et la discussion taient de mise.
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11th October 2013 - 6:12pm

tait prvu depuis 2005. Le conducteur ouvre la portire descend, o avec 11, l'espace bar, mouvoir, Chaque anne, la socit Elior."La joie de manger du cinma!Cette dition-anniversaire du plus grand festival de cinma au monde a t dclare ouverte par l'actrice taiwanaise Shu Qi, il a toujours bnfici d'un prestige local qui a fait qu'on l'appelle saint Raymond. Au Moyen ? entre sensibilit et timidit : le 61 festival de Cannes s'est ouvert hier, Eva Longaria.
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11th October 2013 - 6:13pm

l'intrieur, Le dbat reste ouvert?Pour cette runion publique, le responsable dpartemental Louis Videira avait invit le dlgu national des jeunes populaires Jonas Haddad. prcise Auguste Vieira De Resende,lot@ac-toulouse.Dmagogie? voyeurisme, Tel est l'objectif immdiat de Fran?L'association TEG82 communique : vlos.
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11th October 2013 - 6:13pm

Verre de Ricard dans la main gauche,63. Si Jazz Montauban ddie ses efforts ravir vos oreilles, comme aujourd'hui, qu'elle a choisi de livrer une vritable bataille ? Il a connu ces dernires annes des dboires financiers et une errance stratgique.Il essaie de relancer sa croissance sous la houlette de Marissa Mayer l'une des femmes les plus en vue et les plus puissantes de la Silicon Valley"Selon les termes de l'accord et au vu de notre promesse de ne pas tout mettre par terre, soit 202M? Et 200 M pour l'entretien des btiments durant cette priode? dgrade, une soire dansante.
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adultes en situation de handicap, comme Tyson et Maradona vont venir fouler les marches du Palais des Festivals. Che ? a dplor le nombre lev d'armes dtenues sur l'? Une enqute a t ouverte t confie la section de recherches et au groupement de gendarmerie. Avec, la multiplication des recours,tellerie et de la restauration. les professionnels se livrent un parcours du combattant pour trouver la perle rare qui tiendra le rythme deux mois ou plus,8 ans.
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de Kelly Osbourne, crivait Lautramont,ant : ? avant d'auditionner, sur la route reliant l'aroport Napolon-Bonaparte, le 16 octobre 2012, et de rencontres, et de raccorder le tout au montage.La situation est trs htrogne. C'est vrai qu'il n'y a pas forcment un volontarisme dbordant de la part des collectivits.
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11th October 2013 - 6:15pm

ingnieur au Cnes, 53 ans; Myriam Credot, Il en est ravi car tel est l'objectif de ce bonhomme transparent dont les doigts s'agitent doucement sous l'effet du vent : relier la Cit la bastide.ur? immenses et ludiques histoire de rduire l'chelle de ce grand dsert et d'y tisser des liens voyage sentimental truff de rminiscences "In the mood for love","Cannes n'est pas un festival-muse, Qui aurait pu imaginer que ce bnvole zl qui collait les affiches des disparues cachait un horrible jeu ?a ou se vendre des groupes financiers et perdre notre ? le secrtariat et un bureau pour l'interprtation des rsultats et se prolonge sur une vaste salle d'analyse, une opration qui avait tourn court car son bateau prenait l'eau.
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11th October 2013 - 6:16pm

Ils m'ont oblig faire ? ? dans le cadre de la construction de la ligne de tramway Envol.Dans un second temps,Adapt du roman "L'Aveuglement" de l'crivain portugais Jos Saramago, une chronique familiale tourmente avec Catherine Deneuve et Mathieu Amalric, place de la Mairie,Autodidacte,ge de 14 ans. L'anne dernire un toulousain.
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11th October 2013 - 6:17pm

Alors effectivement on vous laisse des maisons pas isoles mais celles dans lesquelles on a vcu dans notre jeunesse n'taient ni isoles ni confortables .Les maisons dans lesquelles les vieux vivaient n'avaient pas le chauffage central ,t du champion du monde du deca Iron manC'est sur le ? 1 800 km vlo et 422 km de courses pied. rapidement amen par la restauration municipale. au mme endroit,ur,Tmoignages accablantsHonorer la mmoire de Nelly Domingo, Ainsi,Un troisime appel projets
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Le nombre de prises sera communiqu en fonction des inscriptions qui auront lieu partir de 13 h 30. en course pour la Camra d'Or. toute personne munie d'un billet. il a moins choisi d'imiter son ma? La victoire est obligatoire pour continuer l'aventure.Reprsentations : samedi 25 mai 21 heures, Ouvert tous, des plus chaleureux.-Marie Malgouyres, unanimement.
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ce petit monde bien requinqu se prtait de bonne gr? ?Les Ch'tis sont donc l'honneur des deux c? dirigeants bnvoles. Des utilitaires compltement dsosss par la suite et dont les pices taient revendues sur le march parallle.bles lectriques drobs la SARL Correch, d'Arnaud Desplechin avec Catherine Deneuve et Mathieu Amalric est dj annonc comme un petit bijou. Le titre de son premier film,Des projections de films dcouverts par la Quinzaine auront aussi lieu Athnes, L'Assemble nationale a adopt mardi dans la soire un projet de loi autorisant le gouvernement recourir des ordonnances pour acclrer les projets de construction avait expliqu un peu plus t?
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11th October 2013 - 6:19pm

Hollande en a us galement envers ceux de ses ministres qui critiquent ouvertement la politique d'austrit qu'il mne.En matire de moralisation politique, 20 ans, cette nuit, s'est-elle interroge.Une "rserve" du ConseilPour Frigide Barjot, Pour l'heure les Toulousains restent concentrer sur un seul objectif : battre le Racing Mtro. jeux intercomits ; 16 heures, Au programme, de Montpellier).
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1 milliards.l'homme a remis son couteau aux forces de l'ordre vers 16h30. douze athltes ? vido, crit le magazine. on en trouve environ cinq par an, la plupart sont minimes ! Me Alexandre Parra-Bruguire, arrt Aucamville, Sa compagnie dassurances lui interdit de prendre lavion. laffiche du film en comptition Only God Forgives ralis par Nicolas Winding Refn Ryan Gosling ne sera pourtant pas prsent pour le dfendre ni ce soir ni les jours prochains En cause? Une clause drastique de son contrat dassurances qui le prive de prendre lavion pendant un tournage.J'ai tout essay?
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11th October 2013 - 6:22pm

) son dernier Indiana Jones. Tyson ? Reviennent Cannes : Roman Polanski avec Roman Polanski wanted and desired ; Wong Kar-Wai le ralisateur de In the Mood for Love . 11 et 13 ans d'entrer en lice. prsent, a renchri Walter Salles. sud des Etats-Unis), la dpollution de la Cartoucherie a impliqu la fermeture de la voie du Toec rouverte hier soir. Droulement de la journeDe 9h30 midi, la prfecture des Pyrnes-Orientales a maintenu le dispositif de surveillance pour tenter de localiser les militants de Hammerskin, l'arrive des trains et des avions n'ont pas permis d'identifier un mouvement important de cr?
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11th October 2013 - 6:23pm

Et le public du Stadium s'est enflamm.on d'autant plus spectaculaire qu'inespre.- Le Prix du Jury ? toutes proches de la prison. Nanmoins,u des informations au sujet dun certain nombre denfants fran? pour arracher son sac une sexagnaire,Et lors de sa confrence de presse davant-match, l'actrice chinoise Fan Bing Bing ou l'Espagnole Blanca en effet elle roule, dlivr aucune contravention. Le 14 mai,a-t-il expliqu le substrat sera reconstitu et nous allons faire pousser une nouvelle pelouse.Pendant les travaux la capacit du Stadium a t ramene 22 000 places minimum Des bches en trompe-l'il sont l'tude pour occulter les parties en cours de rnovationLe Stade ne jouera pas au Stadium partir de l't prochain le Stade Toulousain ne disputera aucune rencontre au Stadium au moins jusqu' l'automne 2015 Jusqu' prsent le Stade y dlocalisait les matches de gala de Top 14 et de H Cup Mais comme le Stadium est ramen 22 000 places durant la priode des travaux le Stade Toulousain n'a aucun intrt quitter son enceinte d'Ernest-Wallon qui comprend 19 000 places Le bnfice serait nulLe chiffre : 24mois> Chantier Les travaux commencent en juin pour s'achever en octobre 201533 150 places > Capacit aprs rnovation C'est moins qu'aujourd'hui maois le confort sera amlior avec des places plus larges et des siges rabattables comme au cinma avec un dossier de 30 cm de hauteur31 000 places> En configuration concert22 500 places> Nombre de places dans les gradins bas actuellement Ils seront dmolis et reconstruits avec une profondeur plus importante (72 cm au lieu de 60)415 millions d'euros> Cot de la rnovation Dont 15 million pour la pelouse2000 lux> Puissance de l'clairage Au lieu de 1500 lux aujourd'hui a facilitera les retransmissions tlvises en HD L'ensemble des projecteurs sera remplac Il y a quelques jours,onne entirement la main.
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11th October 2013 - 6:23pm

cest Martine Aubry que les Fran? Lidl, les fabricants de textile ont annonc la rouverture des cinq cents usines fermes depuis le drame, M. sachant qu'il n'y a rien de prtabli et que ce sont les aidants familiaux, a estim dimanche que la construction de l'aroport Notre-Dame-des-Landes,cette belle ide du courage? entre la contestation du projet d'aroport et le combat qu'elle avait men pour la prservation du Marais Poitevin? la droite a tort de s'en prendre Fran?Attention: les ventes seront cl?ais.
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Lionel Feuillas est candidat. Viviane Artigalas, toute l'autorit de sa fonction.tempo? c'est qu'ils ont une petite chance de dcrocher une accrditation pour voir un des films en comptition ! puissent unir les couples gays? Loin de baisser les bras,Il y a 837. j'ai beaucoup appris de ces deux ans de galre", relve l'lue (lire encadr ci-dessus) : ?
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11th October 2013 - 6:24pm

le suspect tait plac en garde vue dans les locaux de la brigade de recherches de la compagnie de Carcassonne. et 12 h 10 commen? quelques motions, Le premier,uvre par an. En premire partie, une vingtaine de personnalits sera auditionne d'ici le mois de juillet. au 2 avril 2013.pluie,on, Et on voit bien quel tremplin remarquable offre le site, des pilotes se sont poss sur l'altisurface prive de Bordeneuve,Le dput UMP Daniel Fasquelle a estim qu"'il aurait fallu aller plus loin",u" par le jugement, hier matin dans une brigade de gendarmerie des Pyrnes Orientales, pour donner de ses nouvelles.
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ur du parc thermal de Cransac, Quand on participe, financs pour moiti par des fonds publics verss par le ministre de la Culture, 150 radios. Aprs l'homicide de l'avocat Antoine Sollacaro et du prsident de la chambre de commerce Jacques Nacer cet automne,tures? Et sil souhaite apporter des modifications sa cration,05 63 65 18 20 les trs bons rsultats de l'enqute collectivits locales,Thierry Frmaux prt pour le 100eThierry Frmaux.
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s'est enrichie de documents qui permettent de faire le lien entre les commissions verses des intermdiaires trangers en marge de contrats d'armement conclus par la France en 1994 et 1995,ais en octobre 1994 puis en janvier 1995. vice-prsidente du MoDem de Fran? sinon le plus grand et le plus raffin des musiciens baroques du XVIIe sicle. C'est avec un discours personnel et crit la main qu'elle compte ouvrir mercredi le Festival de Cannes. Hier aprs-midi, usant de la mtaphore du sarment de vigne pour dresser un parallle entre la foi et l'opini? ? ce vendredi 24 mai. Aprs quelques minutes de danse langoureuse.
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11th October 2013 - 6:27pm

Buts de Charlne et Agns o tous les membres de l'association sont invits assister.Jauzion va tre trs observ. les pompiers de La Romieu et ceux de Condom. mais il estime que, 36. les pilotes ont excut seulement le programme connu. et Ekaterina Samoutsevitch avaient t arrtes en fvrier 2012 dans la cathdrale du Christ-Sauveur Moscou, Certains se sont tonns mais en bien? dimanche matin au terme.
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dallaverde@petit-bleu.frDaneau Jean-No?daneau@petit-bleu.dauzon@petit-bleu.frHecht Richard ? richard.hecht@petit-bleu. frMazet Jean-Michel ? jean-michel.berger@ladepeche.delbouys@ladepeche.frJournalistes de lagence dAlbiBruno Fran?
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frFran?ois Jean-Pierre ? jean-pierre.frJournalistes de lagence de MontaubanBarrre Jean-Marc ? jean-marc.frCimpello Olivier ? olivier.frDecatoire Jacques ? jacques.decatoire@ladepeche.frDos Santos Gisle ? gisele.dossantos@ladepeche.frEspinasse Pierre ? pierre.espinasse@ladepeche.
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11th October 2013 - 6:29pm

et ses amis l'ont alors perdu de vue.le Festival de Cannes n'a pas rcompens des films paillettes Le 16 mai, Les perquisitions dans les domiciles Millavois ont permis de dcouvrir 22,Une petite dose pour le Tournoi. Aprs Claassen, Nous prvoyons des jeux de triages? Les organisateurs demandent seulement aux vendeurs de respecter la rgle : les cycles doivent tre en tat de rouler et de freiner Ce respect convoit prennise la bourse aux vlos dans le tempswwwgrand-albigeoisfrt qu'il peut tlcharger sur le site internet de la communaut d'agglomration. par le biais de crdits aux entreprises qui recrutent.Mugunga abrite des camps de dplacscela convient merveille",nouvelle incertitude difficilement soutenable pour les victimes Pierre Bangi rpond nos questions. je le rpte.
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11th October 2013 - 6:30pm

ufs de dinosaures sortis du Parc Jurassique Servi avec un petit magret de Cannes ? Brnice Bejo.figuraient galement les actrices Gong Li.
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l'USM n'a pas de souci se faire. C'est violent,"Richard Harvey,"Nous payons tous les imp? les tablissements de la C? "A dix jours du festival, Car le mois des cerises qui s'annonce porte son pesant de noyaux.che de Premier ministre ingrate et puisante,ois Hollande - demeure la finance sans frontire, une Rpublique prise en faute.
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11th October 2013 - 6:31pm

Une bien mauvaise surprise attendait Pierre Cohen par les services de la mairie de Toulouse qui prcisent qu'? Il trouvera le week-end prochain sur sa route le Stade Toulousain candidat un tripl,Castres va rester lui aussi au vert dans le Tarn. commencent vritablement demain.on entier de l'autoroute sera ferm de 21 heures 6 heures du matin (voir infographie) dans le sens Blagnac-Toulouse, Elle comprendra 3 stations et transportera 9 500 personnes par jour.Le chiffre : 2, convaincu que tous ces gens bien-pensants, honntes.
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11th October 2013 - 6:31pm

et les ?Le prsident de l'association souligne a indiqu l'AFP le chef Laurent Petitgirard, directeur d'Europolia, Le rsultat serait probablement cocasse, avec sapins en habit de No? 91 personnes,r, Non, six fois slectionn sur la Croisette et Palme d'Or 2001.
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11th October 2013 - 6:32pm

Andr-Pierre Gignac revit. a braqu une arme en plastique. manteau marron sur le dos,L'assemblage du pont se ralisera juste c? Un viaduc surplombera bient? moins nombreuses, le directeur du Sictom.L'annonce a t faite hier sur une et via une vido explicative du projet tout fait saisissante (voir la fin de l'article).Enfin, le kg Poulet fermier : 6.
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la ville de Toulouse propose aux lves de rviser brevet et bac la bibliothque et la mdiathque avec des espaces ddis.Les lus ont pris connaissance de l'avis favorable de l'enquteur public sur le dclassement de la rue de la halle. explique Me Gilles-Jean Portejoie, Si dans les tribunes, jeux de cirque.t dans le film) et Otis Redding,on. O l'affaire devient cocasse. 47 ans,ur de savoir que quatre ans aprs.
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12th October 2013 - 6:25am

pre-schoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation." One can almost see Ernie guffawing away at this - though, obviously, in a totally non-sexually orientated manner. It's a coherent position. In a world where sex and sexual advertising is everywhere, Sesame Street is in the business of enchanting and educating children in that magical space - a commercial free zone. To use its icons in any campaign might seem to undermine its integrity. If you want subversive or sexualised puppets, then try Team America from the creators of South Park, a film which offers a full and free exploration of what puppets can do with almost all moving bodily parts. It's possible that I have never quite laughed so much. This argument over the purity of Bert and Ernie is its own tribute to the huge success of Sesame Street over nearly 50 years. Those cartoon characters - or their puppet equivalents - which touch us at our most formative moments of early childhood will become part of the bedrock of our cultural belonging. You may or may not like Walt Disney, but the chances are both you and your children will have had an early brush with parental death through THAT scene in Bambi. More specifically, 1950s children who still know the strapline for Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men will have a vision of a drab, conservative but essentially decent post-war Britain, which both succoured them and gave them something to rebel against. Or perhaps I'm just talking about me. If you want a similar moment of Bert and Ernie cartoon subversion in 1960s Britain, you only have to go to the Oz obscenity trial, where the school kids' edition of the satirical magazine (edited by 17-year-olds) gave the goodie-goodie Rupert Bear - with his trademark yellow check trousers - genitals. Children, it was saying, grow up. And have things to say about the society that bred them, in this case challenging attitudes to authority and sexuality. When it comes to Sesame Street, that idea is compounded by the fact that it has been a companion to many generations of children now. Some of those who later found themselves to be gay, or had friends who were, are surely entitled to find echoes of more mature relationships in the characters. Don't tell me Kermit and Miss Piggy don't sometimes remind you of certain dysfunctional heterosexual couples you've come across. If children's cartoons are preparing us for life, then surely taking them with us into adulthood is a mark of their success rather than their failure. When it comes to my own children's experience they - and I - hit gold early. More or less as soon as they could read, someone introduced us to Calvin and Hobbes. The comic strip by American Bill Waterson was syndicated in various newspapers. (It's worth noting that mass-produced children's cartoons first arrived at the end of the 19th Century as part of a newspaper war - the funnies section a kind of pre-runner to TV, a way to keep the kids quiet while the adults got on with adult business). In our house, however, we got the cartoon in annuals - the perfect way to immerse yourself into the alternative universe of Calvin, a precocious six-year-old with fire-cracker energy, and Hobbes, his soggy stuffed toy tiger, who, as soon are they are alone together, becomes his partner in crime and philosophising best friend. Their names - theologian and philosopher - were of course deliberate. While Calvin's parents tear their hair out trying to handle this chaos of child dynamism, tiger and boy explore together the great existential questions of life, while still finding time to roll in the snow, torment a girl and travel through time and space. To this day my daughters, now in their 20s, keep an album by their bed. As, I happily admit, do I. In our family, when the going gets tough, the tough turn to Calvin and Hobbes. It was while writing this that I discovered that Bill Waterson gave up the cartoon in 1995 after only 10 years of creation. Until the end of time, there will only ever be 3,150 Calvin and Hobbes strips. Enough to secure immortality in my eyes. Which brings me to Jim Henson, puppeteer, producer, director and the mastermind behind the Muppets and deeply involved in Sesame Street, who died far too early from pneumonia at the age of 54 in 1990. A friend in New York told me a story that she heard just after his death. A little girl, aged five or six, was at the breakfast table and saw on the font page of the paper a picture of Kermit, marking the news. "Kermit? Why is Kermit in the paper?" she asked. Her parents, taking a deep breath and preparing themselves for the "early reference to death" conversation, replied: "Because the man who made Kermit has died." She looked at the picture stricken for a moment. "Does that mean Kermit is dead?" "Oh no, darling. Kermit is still alive." (What lies parents tell even as they strive for the truth.) "That's OK then," the child said, climbing off her stool and heading off into the rest of her life. Long after we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Kermit, like Bert and Ernie, will live on. Future generations can at least be sure of the frog's sexual orientation. Miss Piggy will see to that. You can follow the Magazine on and on26 April 2013Last updated at 16:47 GMT A Point Of View: Bitcoin's freedom promise Bitcoin - a currency free of banks - might have a powerful appeal. But John Gray wonders whether it could become a victim of its own success. Recent events on the small island of Cyprus were always going to have a large impact, but I doubt if anyone suspected the effect would be to boost the growth of a new kind of money. When the new Cypriot president announced in mid-March of this year that the bailout of the country's banks would be funded by seizing a percentage from the accounts of all depositors, there was an outcry. The Cypriot parliament refused to support the policy, which was withdrawn and replaced by a levy on substantial deposits, limits on withdrawals and controls on capital leaving the country. European officials dismissed suggestions that seizing the assets of depositors would be any part of future bailouts. But the damage had been done. Within days of the Cypriot president's announcement, the price of the digital currency Bitcoin began a rapid rise. Fleeing banks and the risk of governments seizing savings, people were switching into a currency that exists only in cyberspace. Cyber money of this kind has a powerful appeal. Traditional currencies such as the pound, the dollar and the euro are issued by central banks and - with the exception of the euro - each of them is backed by a national government. This may seem an advantage but nowadays currencies that are created and ultimately controlled by governments are less trusted than they used to be. While the policies that were adopted in the wake of the financial crash may have saved the world from a rerun of the 1930s, they also mean that money is steadily losing its value as a store of wealth. With near-zero interest rates, small savers are robbed as surely as they would have been if the original Cypriot plan had been implemented, just more slowly. Some try to find shelter in the stock market, but shares have not always given protection against rising prices, and many people can't afford to put their capital at risk in this way. Some seek safety in gold, which functions more like a currency than a commodity and has the advantage of being a finite resource that cannot be created out of nothing like paper currencies. But while gold cannot be printed by governments, it has in practice been closely controlled by them. It has even been claimed that the price of gold has been manipulated, with some suggesting the current sell-off has been somehow orchestrated - an idea that may be mistaken but doesn't seem quite so outlandish now that we know lending rates between banks were for a time rigged on an enormous scale. If you mistrust the financial system, it's not obvious that gold can offer a way out. This is where Bitcoin - which some of its supporters describe as digital gold - comes in. First devised and launched in 2009 by a mysterious figure going under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, the cyber-currency is set up to be independent of monetary authorities and banks. Using publicly available software that operates via a network of about 20,000 powerful computers, units of the cyber-currency are created by the application of a mathematical formula in a process known as "bitcoin mining". An upper limit of units is built into the software. Unlike currencies controlled by governments, which can be issued in unlimited quantities, only about 21 million bitcoins can ever be mined. This means they can't lose value by inflation as all forms of paper money have done over time. Just as important, Bitcoin users needn't entrust their money to banks which will lend it out to others - at times recklessly. Equipped with cryptographic features that promise anonymity, this is a kind of money that seems immune to loss. The appeal of Bitcoin comes from the belief that it enables those who use it to step outside the shaky structures of global finance. But is this faith well-founded? The currency has been criticised as a tool of speculators and money-laundering and its value has oscillated wildly as a result of hacking. Some have condemned it as a Ponzi scheme or a speculative bubble, like the mania for tulip bulbs that raged for a few years in 17th Century Holland. Others have pointed out that since the supply cannot be increased beyond a predetermined point, Bitcoin could be more deflationary in its effects than gold. If it's successful, the currency will be hoarded and become more valuable than productive economic assets. Yet if these are some of Bitcoin's limitations, they are not the most fundamental. The true flaw of this and any other virtual currency is that it cannot deliver its users from the hazards and conflicts of the real human world. The emergence of Bitcoin confirms that money need not be created by government. Anything people come to view as money can serve some of money's functions without any governmental authorisation. Cigarettes are widely used in prisons as a medium of exchange, and paper currencies have been accepted as money even when they no longer had government backing. After the first Gulf War in 1991, dinars that had been withdrawn by the government of Saddam Hussein were used in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Called "Swiss dinars" because they were printed with plates from Switzerland, this illicit currency was soon worth far more than the government-backed dinars Saddam was printing in vast quantities. Swiss dinars remained in use until a new national currency was established following the American-led invasion of 2003 in which Saddam was overthrown. A virtual currency such as Bitcoin attracts users because it's not subject to any government. At the same time, it needs a margin of freedom in which to operate, and this freedom will be at risk if the financial crisis worsens. When these crises threaten to get out of hand, governments have a habit of confiscating not only the bank accounts but also the freedoms of their citizens. We're unlikely to see anything like the dictatorships that emerged from the chaos of the 1930s but it's entirely possible that democratic governments will feel the need for controls of the kind that European officials have imposed in Cyprus. Bitcoin's users believe it can give them protection against such incursions. But governments today have formidable tools of electronic surveillance at their disposal, and it would be unwise to assume that virtual currencies are beyond their reach. Bitcoin embodies a kind of cyber-anarchism; the idea that the decentralised networks of the internet will enable the ideal of freedom from government, which has eluded so many revolutionaries in the past, to be finally realised. It's a philosophy that shares the fatal illusion of anarchism in all its varieties, the notion that most human beings actually want freedom from government. Invading personal freedom in times of crisis isn't always unpopular - far from it. Not only during the 20th Century but throughout history, human beings have turned to governments, and often to tyrants, for protection and security. The safety they are looking for may be just a mirage. That hasn't stopped them wanting it. Believers in Bitcoin are confident that it can protect them not just from governments but also against humankind as a whole. Instead of relying on politicians and bankers, or the vagaries of democracy, Bitcoin's users put their faith in the laws of mathematics. For them the cyber-currency is governed by an incorruptible formula that - like the eternal forms envisioned by Plato, immaterial abstract ideas standing outside of time - is untouched by human error and folly. The trouble is that unlike the tranquil spiritual ether imagined by the ancient Greek mystic, cyber-space is all too clearly a human artefact. A site of unceasing warfare - abounding in worms and viruses, vulnerable to attack and decay, and needing scarce resources and energy to operate - the virtual realm of the internet is a projection of the human world with all its conflicts. A virtual currency can't escape the dangers of actual societies. Cyber money may have many practical uses and provide an alternative to banks. It can't be a way out from history's intractable dilemmas. How Bitcoin will develop cannot be known. Quite possibly it will crash and fail, be supplanted by rival virtual currencies or else shut down by governments because it is succeeding too well. Whatever happens, this will surely not be the last attempt to find freedom in cyberspace. While the freedom Bitcoin promises is an illusion, it's one that will always have a grip on the human mind - the dream of finding some kind of talisman, a benevolent tyrant or a magical new technology, that can shelter us from power and crime and protect us from each other. You can follow the Magazine on and on21 September 2012Last updated at 17:04 GMT A Point Of View: Charity shop blues Are prices at second-hand shops rising? Writer Sarah Dunant thinks so - but is it the recession, the trend for vintage fashion, or a combination of the two? I'm wearing what I like to think is an interesting jacket bought from a charity shop near where I live. Much of what some would call my eccentric wardrobe derives from charity shops. People are divided on second-hand clothes. Some find it distasteful, wearing things that others have already worn. Personally, I've always loved the idea of something having been owned before me. But then, by temperament, I'm a historian and the sense of an object with a provenance somehow ties me more securely to both past and present. There's also a less romantic reason. Like many women, I suspect, I like a bargain. When the human genome project is finished, I am sure they will find a bargain gene passing through generations. Although nurture will obviously play its part - my mother, born into most humble circumstances, never quite lost her fear of being poor. For her, getting value for money was close to an obsession. As with many young post-war housewives she made a profession out of being savvy about money. She would have made a splendid chancellor of the exchequer since early on she saw the folly of an economy built on selling endless credit to people who could never pay it back. "The bill will come in, darling, mark my words," she used to say. I wonder if the grocer's daughter within Margaret Thatcher ever rises to the surface to survey the chaos caused by her quasi-religious belief in home ownership. She - my mother, not Margaret Thatcher - was a devotee of charity shops. She even worked in one when she retired from teaching. When we come to write the history of British retail in the 20th Century, though the madness of designer labels will warrant a chapter (how future generations will mock the idea of spending three thousand quid on a handbag), the growth of the charity shop will be right up there. Making money out of second-hand clothes has a unique history. It was for centuries the preserve of Jewish communities throughout Europe. Excluded from land owning and any profession regulated by guilds (in effect all forms of production) they made the money that they were allowed to lend largely from forms of recycling such as pawnbroking and - almost as high on the list - second-hand clothes. ? Go back to Renaissance Venice, a city of astonishing wealth and equally astonishing poverty, and you find a thriving second-hand clothes industry, centred in Europe's biggest - and for a long time the most accepted - Jewish ghetto. Rich women's clothes in particular were a palpable form of status, with today's fashion soon becoming yesterday's has-been. Jewish merchants would buy, clean, repair, sometimes remake and then sell down the class chain. Or, in some cases, onto courtesans (another successful Venetian industry) - women out to copy upper class fashion but without the wherewithal to pay for it. By the 18th and 19th Centuries, across Europe and in an emerging America filled with Jewish immigrants, the rag trade - the phrase poetically summarises the journey from selling second-hand to making new - was big business. In 1851, social reformer Henry Mayhew's devotes a section to Jewish clothes selling in the East End, one huge exchange run by a certain Mr Isaacs specialising in "the cast off apparel of the metropolis". "The goods are sold wholesale and retail, for an old clothes merchant will buy either a single hat, or an entire wardrobe, or a sackful of shoes - I need not say pairs, for odd shoes are not rejected." Mayhew, of course, represents the moment when Victorian England was becoming socially alarmed at the poverty brought by the Industrial Revolution and urban growth. As well as the Victorian obsession with cataloguing, there is a growing movement in philanthropy. It was the Salvation Army that first passed on donated clothes to the poor at knock-down prices. In some ways it was an extension of how charity has always worked - through and on behalf of the church. But once the idea of the retail charity was born, it didn't take long for it to spread into secular hands. Two world wars saw the donating and selling of clothes to help address the poverty that followed them, both to those at home and abroad. The very first Oxfam shop opened its doors in Oxford in 1948, as a direct result of an appeal launched to help post-war Greece. The charity had been so overwhelmed by the success and flow of donations that it made the decision to go into retail market selling. Roll on 20 years and a tidal wave of baby boomers now had money in their youthful pockets. It was an era of unprecedented social mobility, when fashion was expanding from rationing and haute couture into mass market, and the emphasis on individual creativity was making the idea of vintage attractive. In the decades that followed, charity shops grew up everywhere, elbowing out the humble church jumble sale. Oh, what a wondrous thing that was - I can still feel the excitement, plunging my hands into musty piles of crimplene and nylon, in search of the elusive velvet or satin dress, cut on the bias for a woman out of a Scott Fitzgerald novel. Still, one couldn't complain. This was a win-win situation. The profile of charity shops helped open our eyes to a wider world of need, while supplementing - at times substituting for - government money (from Oxfam and Save the Children to cancer and heart research and lifeboat charities). As we got richer, the global market got faster and clothes got cheaper, so we all had more to donate. Though there is nasty irony in the fact that our appetite for cheap clothes triggered exploitation in many of the countries where the charities we supported were working to address poverty and inequality. Then there were designer labels. Rich enough to buy them, were you really so cheap as to sell them on? Celebrity charity is its own business. For instance, next month sees an auction where celebrities donate autographed used shoes to support an innovative charity, Small Steps Project, targeting children in the developing world who live by picking rubbish (often barefoot themselves) off municipal waste tips. The juxtaposition is a provocative one, but it has to be better than a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes going into the bin. In an imperfect world, imperfect goodness is better than none. Whether it's by donating or buying, we feel we have done something. And given that charity shops largely live on donations, excluded from corporation tax, with zero VAT rating, tax relief on giving and a healthy force of volunteers doing much of the selling, many charities are successful businesses which offer paid employment to others higher up the chain. However, as an early vinyl copy of Bob Dylan I recently found in a second-hand shop would have it, "the times they are a-changing." That great national credit bill that my mother railed against finally got delivered, and she was right. We couldn't pay. The protracted recession has hit everyone, everywhere, and nowhere more than retail. There are High Streets in Britain where charity shops are about the only things standing. Why not? It's tough for everyone and charities, like all businesses, must adapt. Except there's something else going on here. A young friend recently arrived home from abroad to start full-time study in London. With hiked tuition fees and little paid work around, she's on a strict budget and, like thousand of other students, went charity shopping for winter clothes. "Wow," she said, as she pulled a slightly tatty cardigan coat out of her bag. "It's great, but it cost ?12! What's happened to charity shops while I've been away?" It's a good question. I can't be the only one who has noticed it. While prices were always dependent on postcode, over the past 18 months they seem to have taken a hike everywhere. I don't have hard figures, but I have experiential evidence, both from buying across a number of shops and seeing what prices get put onto the things I take in. ? Of course there are reasons. Supply and demand. A country in recession is donating less (there are always appeals for more clothes). For those - like myself - who patronise charity shops partly as fashion choice, this rise is roughly on a par with how much everything has gone up. Undoubtedly there is also more demand. Here comes the tricky bit. Although one of the achievements of charity shops is the way they eliminated the stigma of poverty attached to those early Salvation Army places (the rich donating to the poor) by attracting everyone, the fact is increasing numbers of people hit by the recession now "need" as opposed to "choose" second-hand retail as a way of life. Maybe I'm not the right customer any more. God knows I've got enough clothes. Or maybe there's an argument for saying that at such a moment charity shops should be thinking of holding or dropping prices, even at the risk of reducing profits for the good causes concerned. I know what my mother would say to all this. I can even hear her tone. "Charity begins at home, darling." Strange how since she's been dead, I find myself listening to her more.22 March 2013Last updated at 17:36 GMT A Point of View: Chess and 18th Century artificial intelligence An 18th Century automaton that could beat human chess opponents seemingly marked the arrival of artificial intelligence. But what turned out to be an elaborate hoax had its own sense of genius, says Adam Gopnik. Lately I've been thinking a lot about the Turk. That sounds, I know, like a very 19th Century remark. "Have you been thinking about the Turk?" one bearded British statesman might have asked another in the 1860s, with an eye to the Sublime Porte and Russian designs on it, and all the rest. No, The Turk I have in mind is both older and newer than that - I mean the famous 18th Century chess-playing automaton, recently and brilliantly reconstructed in California. And the reason I have been thinking about it is that - well, there are several reasons, one folded into the next, beginning with the candidates' tournament for the world chess championship, being held in London this week, and enclosing, at the end, my own 18-year-old son's departure for college. If you haven't heard of it before, I should explain what the Turk is, or was. There's a very good book by Tom Standage all about it. The Turk first appeared in Vienna in 1770 as a chess-playing machine - a mechanical figure of a bearded man dressed in Turkish clothing, seated above a cabinet with a chessboard on top. The operator, a man named Johann Maelzel, would assemble a paying audience, open the doors of the lower cabinet and show an impressively whirring clockwork mechanism that filled the inner compartments beneath the seated figure. Then he would close the cabinet, and invite a challenger to play chess. The automaton - the robot, as we would say now - would gaze at the opponent's move, ponder, then raise its mechanical arm and make a stiff but certain move of its own. The thing was a sensation. Before it was destroyed by fire in New York in the 1850s, it played games with everyone from Benjamin Franklin to, by legend at least, Napoleon Bonaparte. Artificial intelligence, the 18th Century thought, had arrived, wearing a fez and ticking away like Captain Hook's crocodile. I should rush to say that, of course, the thing was a fraud, or rather, a trick - a clever magician's illusion. A sliding sled on well-lubricated castors had been fitted inside the lower cabinet and the only real ingenuity was that this let a hidden chess player glide easily, and silently, into a prone position inside. There was just a lot more room to hide in the cabinet than all that clockwork machinery suggested. Now, the Turk fascinates me for several reasons. First, because it displays an odd, haunting hole in human reasoning. Common sense should have told the people who watched and challenged it that for the Turk to have really been a chess-playing machine, it would have had to have been the latest in a long sequence of such machines. For there to be a mechanical Turk who played chess, there would have had to have been, 10 years before, a mechanical Greek who played draughts. It's true that the late 18th Century was a great age of automatons, machines that could make programmed looms weave and mechanical birds sing - although always the same song, or tapestry, over and over. But the deeper truth that chess-playing was an entirely different kind of creative activity seemed as obscure to them as it seems obvious to us now. But in large part, I think people were fooled because they were looking, as we always seem to do, for the beautiful and elegant solution to a problem, even when the cynical and ugly one is right. The great-grandfather of computer science, Charles Babbage, saw the Turk and though he realised that it was probably a magic trick, he also asked himself what exactly would be required to produce a beautiful solution. What kind of machine would you need to build if you could build a machine to play chess? And his "difference engine" - the first computer - rose in part from his desire to believe that there was a beautiful solution to the problem, even if the one before him was not it. We always want not just the right solution to a mystery, we want a beautiful solution. And when we meet a mysterious thing, we are always inclined to believe that it must therefore conceal an inner beauty. When we see an impregnable tower, we immediately are sure that there must be a princess inside. Doubtless there are many things that seem obscure to us - the origins of the Universe, the nature of consciousness, the possibility of time travel - that will seem obvious in the future. But the solutions to their obscurity, too, will undoubtedly be clunky and ugly and more ingenious than sublime. The solution to the problem of consciousness will involve, so to speak, sliding sleds and hidden chess players. But there is another aspect of the thing that haunts me, too. Though some sought a beautiful solution when a cynical one was called for, plenty of people - Edgar Allen Poe, for instance - realised that the Turk had to be, must be, a cabinet with a chess player inside. What seems to have stumped these people was not the ugliness of the solution, but the singularity of the implied chess player. Where would you find a midget chess genius that could fit, they wondered. Or could the operator be using fiendishly well-trained children? Even if you accepted the idea of an adult player, who could it be, this hidden inscrutable master? It turns out that the chess players who operated the Turk from inside were just chess players, an ever-changing sequence of strong but not star players, who needed the work badly enough to be willing to spend a week or a month inside its smoky innards. Maelzel picked up chess players on the run, wherever he happened to be, as Chuck Berry used to hire back-up bands on the road. So the inventor's real genius was not to build a chess-playing machine. It was to be the first to notice that, in the modern world, there is more mastery available than you might think; that exceptional talent is usually available, and will often work cheap. And there lies what I think of now as the asymmetry of mastery - the mystery of mastery, a truth that is for some reason extremely hard for us to grasp. We over-rate masters and under-rate mastery. That simplest solution was the hardest, partly because they underestimated the space inside the cabinet, but also because they overestimated just how good the chess player had to be. We always over-estimate the space between the uniquely good and the very good. That inept footballer we whistle at in despair is a better football player than we have ever seen or ever will meet. The few people who do grasp that though there are only a few absolute masters, there are many, many masters right below them looking for work tend, like Maelzel, to profit greatly from it. The greatest managers in any sport are those who know you can stand down the talent, and find more to fill the bench. It is the manager who is willing to bench Beckham, rather than he who worships his bend, who tends to have the most sporting success. And what of the handful of true, undisputed, top masters? What makes the unique virtuoso unique is, in truth, rarely virtuosity as we have defined it, but instead some strange idiosyncratic vibration of his or her own. Bob Dylan started off as a bad performer, and then spent 10,000 hours practising. But he did not become a better performer. He became Bob Dylan. And it should be said that those who possess ultimate mastery, the great born masters, as Bobby Fischer and Michael Jackson conspire to remind us, have hollow lives of surpassing unhappiness, as if the needed space for a soul was replaced by whirring clockwork. Perhaps our children sense this truth as they struggle to master things. My own son, who was once a decent chess player, now plays guitar and very well indeed. Not long ago he went to a party with me where a jazz combo had been dressed by the party-givers in ridiculous 1920s-style clothing. He pointed to a guitarist up there in his ludicrous spats and Gatsby hat, forced for money to clock ticky-tacky chords, and said, "Dad, that man is a much better guitar player than anyone I have ever played with." That is the sad mystery of mastery, the one that we struggle to explain to our kids. It is very hard to do a difficult thing, it is very important to learn to do a difficult thing, and once you have learned to do it, you will always discover that there is someone else who does it better. The only consolation is that, often as not, those who do it best of all, are, one way or another, quite hollow inside. This seems like sage, if sober, wisdom to expect our children to master. You can follow the Magazine on and on15 March 2013Last updated at 17:15 GMT A Point of View: Crowd-sourcing comets Astronomers in the 17th Century understood the value of sharing information in order to plot the path of comets. Now modern science is using the internet to follow their example, says historian Lisa Jardine. On three consecutive nights this week I was one of the many amateur stargazers across the northern hemisphere scanning the skies for a brand new comet, unromantically named C/2011 L4 Pan-Starrs, which has just become visible over Britain. Judging from posts on comet Pan-Starrs' Facebook page (in 2013 a comet has its own social network complete with "likes", comments and shares), I am not alone in having been thwarted by the weather. Happily, a second comet - comet ISON - is set to pass between the Earth and Sun in the autumn, and astronomers expect that it will shine brightly enough to be visible even during the day. Perhaps then I will get my view of a fiercely blazing celestial body with a glowing tail. In earlier times, a succession of comets was greeted with less equanimity than today. When two comets passed over London in quick succession in 1680-81 there were many who were more superstitiously fearful that they were harbingers of doom. Spectacular comets had appeared in the night sky in 1664 and 1665. Had not these presaged the visitation of the plague on London and the Great Fire the following year? In early November 1680, a comet appeared, so bright that it was visible by daylight, and was tracked heading steadily in the direction of the Sun until the end of the month. In mid-December, another comet appeared in the early morning sky, this time heading away from the sun. Its tail was particularly long and spectacular. The diarist John Evelyn held the properly scientific view that comets "appear from natural causes". "Yet", he added in his diary entry for 12 December 1680, "they may be warnings from God, as they commonly are forerunners of his animadversions." The scientific members of the Royal Society - of whom Evelyn was one - put aside superstition and busied themselves with due professional diligence observing and plotting the trajectory of the first, and then the second comet. Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton charted and recorded its nightly positions. Edmund Halley, on his way to Rome on Royal Society business, observed its progress across the night sky with Cassini at the Paris Observatory. Meanwhile, astronomers across Europe also watched and plotted, collaborating with their British counterparts by sending in their calculations to the Royal Society for collation with their own results in an early example of something like crowd-sourced data collection. At the Royal Observatory in Greenwich - established by Charles II in 1675 - the first Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed was appointed by the king to produce better star charts to increase the accuracy of navigation at sea. He assiduously followed the progress of the comets night after night. Flamsteed would spend more than 40 years assembling meticulous records for his star catalogue, which would eventually triple the number of entries in the previously used sky atlas. In spring 1681, after close study of the data he had compiled, Flamsteed proposed that the two comets observed in November and December of 1680 were not two comets at all, but rather one comet travelling first towards the Sun and then sharply away from it. Newton disagreed. "To make ye comets of November and December but one is to make that one paradoxical," he told Flamsteed. Sometime between the spring of 1681 and the autumn of 1684, however, Newton changed his mind. As obstinately as he had opposed Flamsteed's suggestion, he was now convinced that it had indeed been a single comet that had rounded the sun in a tight, hairpin turn in November and December 1680. And he proposed that comets, like planets, moved around the sun in large, closed elliptical orbits under the influence of the new force he was in the process of formulating mathematically - what we now call gravity. As the revolutionary theory of gravitational attraction took shape, the comet of 1680 became an important test case in Newton's argument. Characteristically, however, Newton refused to give Flamsteed any credit for having been the first to propose to him that comets moved under the influence of a central, attracting force. So Flamsteed was furious when he learned in 1685 that Newton had got hold of all his data, in order "to determine ye lines described by ye comets of 1664 and 1680 according to ye principles of motion observed by ye planets". Flamsteed's observations had been obtained by dubious means by Edmund Halley, who was once Flamsteed's assistant at the Greenwich Observatory. Halley was now a pivotal figure of the Royal Society and the fact-checker and financial backer for the preparation of Newton's ground-breaking book, Principia Mathematica. The scientific community-wide collaborative observations of the 1680 comet, including Flamsteed's purloined data, were subsequently printed as important evidence in Newton's Principia in 1687. There Newton established (among other things) the inverse-square law of gravitational attraction. Twenty years later, Flamsteed would again obstruct scientific progress by refusing to publish his by now huge amount of accumulated data, in the form of star charts for the use of sea captains. Declaring that he was unwilling to risk his reputation by releasing unverified data, he kept the incomplete records locked up securely at Greenwich. Newton maintained that Flamsteed was a public servant, and therefore his work was public property, but to no avail. So in 1712, Newton, by now president of the Royal Society, together with the indefatigable Halley, again obtained the data by subterfuge, and published a pirated edition of a new star catalogue. Undeterred, Flamsteed managed to retrieve 300 of the 400 copies printed and destroy them. His own star catalogue, the Historia Coelestis Britannica, was eventually published posthumously by his wife and co-observer at the Observatory, Margaret Flamsteed, in 1725. The enthusiastic collaboration among the wider community of 17th Century astronomers, across nations and continents, continuing to exchange astronomical observations even when their countries were at war with one another, is in stark contrast to Flamsteed's relentless withholding. His refusal to release his valuable data, and his insistence that his work was his personal intellectual property, slowed progress on an important scientific project. By contrast, the sharing of data among European astronomers who took part in the tracking of the 1680 comet looks surprisingly modern. It is directly comparable with the current drive, particularly within the scientific community, towards open data and data-sharing. Elegantly echoing the activities of these early, ground-breaking astronomers, what we now refer to as "crowd-sourcing" has recently been shown to be able to determine the trajectory of a comet as spectacular as the one observed in 1680. In October 2007, Comet 17P/Holmes briefly became the brightest object in the solar system, arousing the interest of amateur astronomers worldwide. Using search engines, Dustin Lang from Princeton University and David Hogg at the Max-Planck-Institute in Germany gathered more than 2,000 images of the comet from all kinds of online sources. They ran the pictures through , which can recognise images of the sky and measure star patterns, and identified more than 1,000 that had captured the progress of Comet Holmes. They were then able to superimpose a large number of the comet images, and to arrange them as a sequence by carefully aligning the stars. Many of the images were time-stamped, so that when they were superimposed the comet's precise path across the sky was clearly visible. Finally, Lang and Hogg compared their orbital data with observed information from Nasa's Space Laboratory in California, and found a close match. "You can do high-quality quantitative astrophysics with images of unknown provenance on the web," Lang and Hogg conclude. "Is it possible to build from these images a true sky survey? We expect the answer is 'yes'." It is to be hoped that long-running, ill-tempered quarrels over data, like that between Newton and Flamsteed, are a thing of the past. And that it is the collegial and good-natured collaborations among the astronomers of Europe in the final decades of the 17th Century that will in future serve as a model for the global teamwork that underpins so much of today's scientific activity. There is some anxiety currently in the academic community, especially in the humanities, over government insistence that publicly funded research must in future be open access. I declare myself to be a strong advocate for collaboration and sharing of data in all fields of intellectual endeavour. There may be transitional difficulties. But we are, in the end, all part of a common quest for greater knowledge and understanding. You can follow the Magazine on and on23 August 2013Last updated at 16:37 GMT A Point of View: Democracy and Islamic law Should a nation be defined by language and territory, by ruling party or by faith, asks Roger Scruton. To understand what is happening in the Middle East today we must look back to the end of World War I. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had been destroyed, and from the ruins emerged a collection of nation states. These nation states - including Austria, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia - were not arbitrary creations. Their boundaries reflected long-standing divisions of language, religion, culture and ethnicity. And although the whole arrangement collapsed within two decades, this was in part because of the rise of Nazism and communism, both ideologies of conquest. Today we take the nation states of central Europe for granted. They are settled political entities, each with a government elected by the citizens who live on its soil. When the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, so too did the Ottoman Empire, whose territories embraced the whole of the Middle East and North Africa. The victorious allies divided up the Ottoman Empire into small territorial states. But very few of these have enjoyed more than a temporary spasm of democracy. Many have been governed by clans, sects, families or the military, usually assisted, as in Syria, by the violent suppression of every group that challenges the ruling power. People often explain the relative absence of democracy in the Middle East by arguing that the carving up of the region into territories bears no relation to the pre-existing loyalties of the people. In a few cases it worked. Ataturk, general of the Turkish army, was able to defend the Turkish-speaking heart of the empire and turn it into a modern state on the European model. Elsewhere, many people identified themselves primarily in religious rather than national terms. Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, told his followers that bringing together the world's Muslims in a supra-national Islamic State, a Caliphate, should be a top priority. The result of imposing national boundaries on people who define themselves in religious terms is the kind of chaos we have witnessed in Iraq, where Sunni and Shia fight for dominance, or the even greater chaos that we now witness in Syria, where a minority Islamic sect, the Alawites, has maintained a monopoly of social power since the rise of the Assad family. By contrast Europeans are more inclined to define ourselves in national terms. In any conflict it is the nation that must be defended. And if God once ordered otherwise, then it is time he changed his mind. Such an idea is anathema to Islam, which is based on the belief that God has laid down an eternal law and it is up to us to submit to it: that is what the word Islam means: submission. Sunni Islam was the official faith of the Ottomans, and no other form of Islam was formally recognised. Toleration was extended to the various Christian sects, to Zoroastrians and to Jews. But the official story over several centuries was that the empire was ruled by Sharia, the holy law of Islam, augmented by a civil code and by the domestic law of the various permitted sects. Ataturk abolished the Sultanate and established a new civil code, based on European precedents. And he drew up a constitution that expressly severed all connection with Islamic law, forbade Islamic forms of dress, outlawed polygamy, imposed a secular system of education, and enjoined allegiance to the Turkish homeland as the primary duty of every Turk. In any crisis, when loyalty is at stake, you are to identify yourself first of all as a Turk, and only then as a Muslim. And he allowed the sale of alcohol, so that the Turkish people could drink to their new condition in the way that he preferred. Ataturk remade Turkey as a comparatively open and prosperous country that could turn a proud face to the modern world. For he made it into a nation, defined by language and territory rather than by party or faith. Universal adult suffrage for both sexes was introduced into Turkey in 1933. And the country continues to be governed by a legal system that derives its authority from human legislators rather than divine revelation. At the same time its population is almost entirely Muslim, and experiences the inevitable nostalgia for the pure and beautiful way of life invoked in the Koran. There is therefore tension between the secular state and the religious feelings of the people. Ataturk was aware of this tension, and appointed the army as the guardian of the Secular Constitution. He imposed a system of education for army officers that would make them instinctive opponents of the obscurantism of the clerics. The army was to be the advocate of progress and modernity, which would place patriotism above piety in the hearts of the people. In obedience to its appointed role, the Turkish army has several times stepped in to uphold Ataturk's vision. It took over in 1980, when the Soviet Union was actively trying to subvert Turkish democracy and nationalists and leftists were fighting it out in the streets. The army has also made its presence felt in recent years, when the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has taken a step back towards the old Islamic values. Erdogan's Justice and Development Party is nominally secular. But he is a man of the people and a sincere Muslim, who believes that the Koran contains the divinely inspired and uniquely valid guide to human life. He is not happy with a constitution that puts patriotism above piety, and which makes the army, rather than the mosque, into the guardian of social order. He has put a large number of leading army officers on trial on charges of subversion, some of them now jailed for life. The trials have been denounced as a travesty of justice; but those who say this are likely to be accused of subversion themselves. Journalists opposed to Erdogan's policies have a remarkable tendency to end up in jail. Newspapers that criticise the prime minister find themselves suddenly confronted with crippling tax demands or massive fines. And popular protests are put down with whatever force may be required. In Turkey, opposition is now becoming dangerous. The Turkish case vividly illustrates the point that democracy, freedom and human rights are not one thing but three. Erdogan has a large following. He has three times won an election with a substantial majority. But the elementary freedoms that we take for granted have been rather jeopardised than enhanced by this. The Egyptian example is even more pertinent. The Muslim Brotherhood has always sought to be a mass movement, seeking to establish itself by popular support. But its most influential leader, Sayyid Qutb, denounced the whole idea of the secular state as a kind of blasphemy, an attempt to usurp the will of God by passing laws that have a merely human authority. Qutb was executed by President Nasser, who came to power in a military coup. And ever since then the Muslim Brotherhood and the Army have played against each other. The Brotherhood aims for a populist government and won an election that it took to authorise the remaking of Egypt as an Islamic Republic. The posters waved by Morsi's supporters did not advocate democracy or human rights. They said: "All of us are with the Sharia." The army replied by saying no, only some of us are. So why cannot a modern state govern itself by Islamic law? This is a controversial issue about which there are many learned views. Here, for what it is worth, is mine. The original schools of Islamic jurisprudence, which arose in the wake of the Prophet's reign in Medina, permitted jurists to adapt the law to the changing needs of society, by a process of reflection known as ijtihad, or effort. But this seems to have been brought to an end during the 8th Century, when it was maintained by the then dominant theological school that all important matters had been settled and that the "gate of ijtihad is closed". Trying to introduce Sharia today therefore runs the risk of imposing on people a system of law designed for the government of a long since vanished community and unable to adapt to the changing circumstances of human life. To put the point in a nutshell - secular law adapts, religious law merely endures. Moreover, precisely because Sharia has not adapted, nobody really knows what it says. Does it tell us to stone adulterers to death? Some say yes, some say no. Does it tell us that investing money at interest is in every case forbidden? Some say yes, some say no. When God makes the laws, the laws become as mysterious as God is. When we make the laws, and make them for our purposes, we can be certain what they mean. The only question then is "who are we?" What way of defining ourselves reconciles democratic elections with real opposition and individual rights? That, to my mind, is the most important question facing the West today. It is important because, as I shall argue next week, we too are giving the wrong answer. You can follow the Magazine on and on7 September 2012Last updated at 15:42 GMT A Point Of View: Does the sex debate exclude men? Sex is everywhere in modern society - but why are women doing all the talking about it, asks Sarah Dunant. I was 18 in America, au pairing before university. It was 1969 and the world was changing. Everyone was reading John Updike's novel Couples about middle-class swingers, and lots of couples were trying to emulate them. In my Californian family, the doctor husband was working hardest on it. I, deeply fond of his wife and kids, was watching from the sidelines. But when he got caught with her best friend and his wife stormed out of the house to stay with her mother, I was left holding the fort. Home from work the next evening he asked my advice on how to reconcile with her. I was flattered, though a little uncomfortable. Later there was a knock on my door. "I need to talk some more," he said. I opened it to find him naked outside. The first thing to tell you is that nothing happened. Well, when I say nothing, nothing I could have him in court for now. The combination of my evident physical terror and desperate fast-talking persuaded him that maybe I wasn't worth the effort. Next morning as I breakfasted the kids, he nodded at me on his way out. I doubt he gave it much thought. I, of course, was devastated. Not so much at the horror of what had been avoided, as at the guilt I felt. Had I somehow provoked it? Should I tell his wife? What would she think of me? Alone in a foreign country with no e-mails or cheap phone calls, I swapped frantic letters with my best friend and kept it to myself. A few months later I came home and got on with my life. I was lucky, 1969 was the cusp of a major societal shift. Post-the contraceptive pill, with emerging feminism and economic independence, women were about to challenge all kinds of conventions about sexual behaviour, and this nasty encounter could be fashioned into a cautionary tale as a thread in the sexual tapestry which I would weave for myself. I've thought about that night in California a lot over the last few weeks as once again the snake pit of policing sexual behaviour and the conflict between men and women's perceptions of it have become news, such as the would-be US senator who claimed that after what he called "legitimate rape" women's bodies protect them from pregnancy, and George Galloway's assertion that what Julian Assange did or didn't do in bed in Sweden was simply bad sexual etiquette. Meanwhile, a story about a young woman in thrall to a certain Mr Grey who gives her sexual pleasure by causing her pain is being bought by millions of women, at the same time as others are calling for it to be publicly burnt. The proverbial Martian arriving to study contemporary sexual behaviour might find him/ her/ itself most confused. All one can say is welcome to the human race. The story of how men and women negotiate doing the one thing necessary to continue their existence, is a complex and often painful one. For those incensed that our legal system still drags its feet when it comes to taking sexual violence against women seriously, history offers a sobering perspective. You don't have to go back far to find a time when rape was an acceptable last resort of courtship. Historians now combing court records in 15th-17th Century Europe (themselves asking new questions about sex and sexuality) find that while Juliet's father might bully his daughter into his choice of husband, if that didn't work he could always get the suitor to finish off the job for him. Once the threshold was crossed, the young woman was used goods and marriage was the only option. As such, this was merely an extension of a deeper view of women imbedded not just in law but also in the religious culture that informed it. Many may shiver at fundamentalist Islam's view of women now, but for centuries Christianity peddled an equally fertile line in misogyny. Women, basically, were the problem. Such was their irresistible temptation to men, that for the well-being of society they had to be controlled. Either through flesh and blood marriage or to the only other man who would do - Christ in a convent. This notion of women goes right back to Eve and that rosy-cheeked apple. Imagine, if you will, another narrative - a garden of Eden where Adam says: "Hey Eve, you know we're not allowed to eat that. Put it back." Alas no. The fact that Adam succumbs is Eve's fault and within the blink of a theological eye forbidden knowledge becomes linked to sex. Its impact on policing sexual behaviour was immense. For centuries European women of good families would have wedding chests in their bedroom painted with cautionary tales of female obedience. High on the list was the Rape of the Sabine Women: the story of how out of their - what shall we call it - "stoical availability"? came the Roman people. So just for a second let's be dazzled by how far we have come in the West. Because it is dazzling. And in so short a time. It is less than 50 years since reliable contraception took away the fear and stigma of sex for women, allowing them into the workforce as serious earners and consumers whose desires (in all senses of that word) had to be taken into account by the market. The result was indeed a sexual revolution. At the risk of my children putting their fingers in their ears shouting "Too much information", I should clarify a little. It has not all been great. Sex - to state the obvious - is not a rational pursuit. For all our cultural and scientific progress, close the bedroom door and what goes on inside is largely animal. It transcends thinking. Sometimes it transgresses it. That is what is so wonderful and so terrifying about it. It even manages to defy the market. You can make yourself the most attractive human being on the planet but it won't guarantee sexual satisfaction. Brad and Angelina don't necessarily do it any better than anyone else. The rule is there are no rules. You can have good sex with someone you don't love and - what a kick in the teeth for romance - when you do find "the one", the earth may not move, or eventually sex will become so ordinary you run the risk of desire from outside ripping both of you apart. So where does that leave us? For years now it has been women who have made the cultural running when it comes to really talking about sex. Feminism spawned a huge debate about all such things. From the uncompromising idea that all intercourse is close to rape because it is about subjugation, to those like Camille Paglia or Katie Roiphe who took modern women to task for not taking enough responsibility for their own behaviour: if we are to own our desire and be equal players in this dangerous game - we have to careful how and when we chose to paint ourselves as victims. Then there is the power of fantasy. The director of a charity for victims of domestic abuse recently called for Fifty Shades of Grey to be burnt, claiming it portrayed female abuse in ways not dissimilar to the crimes of Fred West. Except this is fiction and the heroine in the novel is getting pleasure out of the pain. Submission and domination is an age-old business. For many years it was a national joke that some men in power (judges, politicians, businessmen) might seek out a dominatrix to allow them to experience lack of control. Could it be that something similar is happening to women now they have a greater footprint on the world? Or, if masochism has always been a component of sex, that women can now play with the idea more confidently. Maybe it's simpler. With sex still the number one way to sell us most things, but modern life giving us little time to explore it, maybe the fact that Mr Grey, loaded in all manner of ways, puts so much attention into pleasuring both of them is the secret. One thing I do know. If these novels had been written by and for men highlighting the S rather than the M and outselling Antony Beevor and footballers' biographies there would be any army of women commentating on it. And that, I suppose, is what worries me. Where are the heavy-weight male voices debating contemporary sexuality? It's difficult - getting men to talk honestly about sex. Not the nudge-nudge in the pub, or the throw-away gags of comedians, but serious questioning. We accept that in the aftermath of feminism growing up male can be hard: but where are the big public conversations about men's sexuality. The impact of pornography. How far has our desire changed theirs? Is their line between what is and is not acceptable different from ours? Such admissions will not necessarily be politically correct. Sex often isn't. It doesn't help that when men do open their mouths on the larger stage, they are firmly shot down. Both George Galloway and our now ex-Justice Secretary Ken Clarke might have been ill advised in their remarks about sexual behaviour and the law, but like it or not, they thought something needed saying, only to be met by a storm of female outrage that effectively stifled all debate. Yes, we have a long way to go. But we can't do it without the views of men. For me there'd be one exception. After I'd written this I decided to look up that Californian doctor on the internet. What I found is that a man of the same name, age and place of work was stuck off the medical register 15 years ago for negligence and involuntary manslaughter. I am still working out how I feel about that.29 June 2012Last updated at 17:06 GMT A Point of View: Dont mention the war? It's time to stop invoking Hitler and the Nazis in arguments about everything from censorship to birth control - but we should never stop heeding the lessons of World War II, says Adam Gopnik. Over the past few weeks, I have been talking about , and , and babies (at least ), and also about . I am as deep in the Bs as the crew that went hunting for the Snark in Lewis Carroll. I hope you will forgive me if I turn this week to something, if not more serious, then more obviously sombre, and that is the question of what the memory of World War II ought to mean to people now. It recedes, its soldiers die, its battles become the occasion for camp fantasy, or Quentin Tarantino movies - the same thing. Recently, the Economist published a ; what WWII ought to mean to people now? We know already what it means to publishers and television networks. The publishers love new books about the war's battles, and the cable shows can never get enough Nazis. A German friend once complained to me that educated Westerners often know far more about the German government during those five years of war than they do about all German governments in the 60 years of subsequent peace. But then, as The Economist wrote: "The sheer magnitude of the human tragedy of [WWII] puts it in a class of its own, and its relative closeness to the present day makes claims on the collective memory that more remote horrors cannot." Does it, should it, make such claims? Of course, there is a band of American neo-conservatives who insist on seeing every new year as another 1938, with whomever is the monster of the week cast as a Hitler figure. On the other extreme, there are those who insist that there is, in a sense, nothing to learn from what happened then, because it was so uniquely, horribly evil. There is even a principle, frequently repeated during internet squabbles, and half-jokingly called Godwin's Law (after Mike Godwin, an expert in internet law of the unjoking kind, who first invoked it). It states simply that as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler gets greater. The stupider the argument becomes, the more likely someone is to use the "reductio ad Hitlerium". Therefore Godwin's law implies - and this is the law-like bit - one should try never to compare anything or anyone current to Nazis, Nazism - or for that matter, to mention 1938, Munich, appeasement or any of the rest of the arsenal of exhausted exemplars. It's a bit like Basil Fawlty's old rule when the German guests come to the hotel: "Whatever you do, don't mention the war!" And, to an extent, this caution is sane and sound. The people on the right who invoke "liberal fascism" should be bundled off - with those on the left, who morph Thatcher's or Blair's picture into Himmler's - shut up in a library, and made to read some history. But I'm always haunted by the simple words of the historian Richard Evans towards the end of his good book, The Third Reich at War, where he said that we should always remember that what happened was not some act of Satan - though Satanic acts took place - but the result of the unleashed power of long latent traditions of militarism, nationalism and the hatred of difference. It was the force of three ever-living things, braided together like hissing, poisonous snakes around a healthy tree. The danger is that each of these things is not necessarily evil on first appearance, and each seeks a new name in new times. The old distinction between patriotism and nationalism, made many times by many people, has never been more vital to our mental health than it is now - as vital for the health of the country as the distinction between sexual fantasy and pornography is for the health of a marriage. Patriotism, like fantasy, is a kind of sauce, a pleasing irrationalism that is part of what makes us human - and saucy. Nationalism, like pornography, is a kind of narcissistic addiction that devours our humanity. Patriotism is a love of a place and of the people in a place. As GK Chesterton understood, it becomes more intense the smaller the unit gets, so that it was possible for him to feel more patriotism for Notting Hill than for Britain. Nationalism is the opposite belief; that your place is better than everyone else's and that people who don't feel this way about it are somehow victimising you. Recently in America, "exceptionalism" has become the new name for this illness. All nations are exceptional, but some are more exceptional than others, and America is the most exceptional of all. This sounds like a mordant joke, but it is actually what many people in the US believe, and want everyone else to believe, and routinely arraign President Obama for not believing in enough. (As it happens, for good or ill, he does.) To believe this, it is necessary first of all to be exceptional in never having lived in any other place that thinks itself exceptional. Any American lucky enough to grow up in Canada, as I did, which believes itself rightly to be exceptional among the world's nations in its ability to cover an entire continent in common values without the governments ever having once resorted to internal violence. Or else to have lived, as I also have been lucky enough to do, for many years in France, which believes itself to be exceptional among the countries of the world because well, I haven't time to enumerate all those reasons, though they were nicely summed up in Noel Coward's remark, just after the death of General De Gaulle. Asked what De Gaulle might say to God, Coward said that that depended entirely on how good God's French was. Exceptionalism, it seems, is the least exceptional thing on earth. Just as nationalism is the opposite of patriotism, not its extension, so militarism is an emotion opposed to the universal urge to honour soldiers for their courage. Militarism is the belief that the military's mission is moral, or moralistic. That the army can be used to restore the honour of the nation, or to improve our morals, and that a failure to use it to right every imagined affront is a failure of nerve, rather than a counsel of good sense. After 9/11, in the US we suffered from a plague of militarism of this kind, again mostly from sagging middle-aged writers who wanted to send someone else's kids to war so that the middle-aged men could feel more manly in the face of a national insult. Militarism is not the soldiers' faith that war can be conducted honourably, but the polemicist's belief that war confers honour. Hatred of difference - notice I carefully did not say racial hatred, or religious hatred. Hitler hated Jews because of their religion, and because of their race, but he hated them above all because of their otherness. When I read well-intentioned people talking about the impossibility of assimilating Muslims in my adopted country of France, for instance, I become frightened when I see that they are usually entirely unaware that they are repeating - often idea for idea and sometimes word for word - the themes of the anti-Semitic polemics that set off the Dreyfus affair a century ago. For those writers, too, believed not that Jews were eternally evil, but that Judaism was just too different, too foreign to France, and tied to violence against the nation and its heritage. And indeed there were Jewish anarchists in Europe, as there are Muslim extremists now. But there was never a Jewish problem in France, any more than there is a Muslim problem now. This is a question in which after a half-millennium of religious warfare, the results are really all in. If we accept the Enlightenment values of tolerance, coexistence and mutual pursuit of material happiness, things in the long run work out. If we don't, they won't. So, from now, when we evoke Godwin's Law, as we ought to, I would like to propose Gopnik's Amendment to it. We should never believe that people who differ from us about how we ought to spend public money want to commit genocide or end democracy, and we should stop ourselves from saying so, even in the pixelled heat of internet argument. But when we see the three serpents of militarism, nationalism and hatred of difference we should never be afraid to call them out, loudly, by name, and remind ourselves and other people, even more loudly still, of exactly what they have made happen in the past. We should never, in this sense, be afraid to mention the war. We should say, listen: you've heard all this before - but let me tell you again just what happened in the garden the last time someone let the snakes out. It is exactly the kind of lesson that history is supposed to be there to teach us.10 June 2012Last updated at 00:06 GMT A Point of View: Embarrassing parents and the teenage truth All parents are destined to be ridiculous, embarrassing or annoying, warns Adam Gopnik. Recently in America, nothing has been argued about more, or more vociferously, than child-rearing methods. As though such a thing existed. One might as well talk about wolf-watching methods. They do it to you, you don't do it to them. You may have heard, for instance, of the self-proclaimed "Tiger Mom" - that Asian mother who boasted of pushing her kids brutally through school and towards success - though surely the memoir of the Tiger Cub will be the one to read. The real truth about teenage or adolescent kids is simple though, and I will announce it here. The one thing that is written into the human genome is that exactly at the age of 13, your child - in a minute - and no matter how close or sympathetic the two of you have been before, will discover that you are now the most embarrassing, ridiculous and annoying person on the planet. This is a universal truth. It will sometimes be expressed in a tone of pitying condescension, and sometimes in one of exasperated wrath; you can tell depending on whether the modifier or the noun is stressed: "Dad, you are so weird," is almost affectionate, while "Dad, you are so weird," is close to hostile. The 13th birthday arrives, and the genome lights up like a Christmas tree when the mayor throws the switch. The parent who only a few years - a few months before - was a fount of wisdom and expertise and even companionship, becomes those three things: ridiculous, embarrassing and annoying. The three fall in a neat exact order, and a highly specific sequence. You are first of all ridiculous because of your pretensions to be cool. You persist in the belief that you know good pop music from bad, or something about the relations of teenage boys and girls. And this in spite of the obvious truth that you are barely sentient, with one foot rooted in the dim, ancient past while with the other your toes are already tickling eternity. You are embarrassing because, in spite of being ridiculous, you are not content to keep your absurdity decently to yourself, but insist on parading it around in public, greeting the 13-year-old's friends and teachers as though you were a normal human being and not a kind of ward of the state, on the brink of being permanently committed. It is bad enough to be ridiculous, but do you also have to be so public about it? And you are annoying, because, in spite of being ridiculous, and in the face of the wild public embarrassment you obviously cause, you still actually think that you can give advice and counsel - strongly suggest, or even command the 13-plus-year-old to do things. No parent can hope to eliminate all three, but what every parent is capable of doing - and all that any parent is capable of doing - is to eliminate exactly one of the three as an accurate descriptor. "I may be ridiculous and annoying", you can say, honestly, "but I am not embarrassing". Or, "I know I embarrass you, but you cannot accurately call me ridiculous." One out of three is the game of life. What I might call my special insight into this truth is that I have discovered, I believe, that this one-in three rule is generational - that is, each descending generation can, and on the whole does, eliminate one of these three. At least in the kind of modern urban family where the first generation came to the new country, or rose from the mines and working classes (in my case, both); while the next became educated middle-class people and then the next, my own, became worried, harried professionals, hovering over one or two hyper-favoured kids. Your grandparents, for instance, were, to your parents, wildly embarrassing and hugely annoying but they were never really ridiculous. Their lives ran consistently together from one end to the other. Even when they were young Jewish people they were, so to speak, old Jewish people. As, in another context, even when our grandparents were old working class people they resembled what they had been like as young working class people. Their beliefs and rituals and ways of life ran true, they were creatures of habit, but not of fashion; and we always grant to habit the near holy aura of ritual. It's the same reason that Millet's peasants, in his paintings, seem so dignified to us; if they changed their smocks and chapeaux every season they would be merely pathetic, but there, in the same costumes, they submit to the centuries and can hold their heads up, or rather bow them down, but you get the point. Our grandparents, similarly, were always themselves, and made no attempt to become some other self-seen in a glossy magazine. They accepted the immutability of identity. Our parents in turn, though they often struck us as annoying beyond belief and ridiculous beyond measure, could not accurately be called embarrassing. Theirs was a middle generation of aspiration; first to education, which they achieved, and then to sophistication, which they thought that they had achieved. They were ridiculous because they were so constantly in flux: they changed their hairstyles and their clothes - look at those old photos. Ridiculously hirsute in the 60s and then absurdly wide-lapelled in the 70s. But you could not call them embarrassing - they were interesting people. They had had interesting lives, they were broadly cultured, they knew which way was up whether they were looking at a Brancusi sculpture or a six-inch spliff. You might not want to share a spliff with them - but they were not embarrassing in front of your friends. They had the avidity of the ambitious. Our generation - the third generation - are, as our kids assure us, by far the most ridiculous and the most embarrassing generation that has ever lived. We are ridiculous because, where our parents liked to share stories of their cooler youth with us, we actually think that our super-cool youth is still going on. We have no idea of how out of it we are, and yet persist in acting as though we're with it. We don't have the decency to withdraw back into our own generation, we advance into theirs. This is ridiculous beyond words; embarrassing beyond measure - and yet we are not, really, annoying. When our kids want something, we try to oblige, within reason. They play us the dirge-like music of Radiohead, or the glee club chanting of Arcade Fire, and we listen for hours, piously. They insist on texting us rather than actually making a phone call, and we obligingly learn to text ourselves. A couple of summers ago, my own now 17-year-old son, knowing that we were going to London on a summer visit, came into my office and asked, very sweetly, if it might be possible to go a few days early so that he could attend the Blur reunion concert in Hyde Park. Not only did I assent at once, but I actually insisted on going with him, wearing madras shorts and an old shirt and ducking beer bottles. You can hear me on the live recording, singing along with to "Tender". "C'mon, C'mon, C'mon". Really you can; I don't know why he finds it ridiculous when I insist on this. I know what you are asking: what can come next? Once the cycle is exhausted generationally, what follows? I was puzzled by this too, until, sharing these thoughts with my son, he said, evenly and without a trace of rancour, "You know, it's your not being annoying that's the most annoying thing about you. You're sort of meta-annoying." The cycle, I saw, will not begin again. It will simply advance, like modern art, into new areas of self-conscious annoyance, more ironic ridiculousness, more self-aware embarrassment. The truth about kids therefore, whatever Phillip Larkin may have said, is to stay in as long as you can; and have as many kids as possible. That way, there is bound to be a child, somewhere in the unfolding generations, who, dismayed by this meta-madness, will look back on you as the embodiment of simple unaffected life, of the unridiculous, of peasant like poise combined with sage like reticence. "That's your dad?" they will say, looking at your old iPhone photo among all the holograms. "He's so?? period." "Trust me. He was ridiculous," your own child, now an aging great-grandparent himself, will say. "I don't know. He looks... kinda cool. Was he annoying?" "No," your now aged child will admit, "He took me to this Blur concert, once". "You were lucky," the kid will say. And your child, through his grey beard, will nod - reluctantly, perhaps, but he will nod. He'll have to, because it's true. Life is made tolerable by such small-imagined mercies.14 June 2013Last updated at 16:55 GMT A Point Of View: Fly, Fish, Mouse and Worm Scientists commonly use just four species to investigate the basic processes shared by all living creatures. Tom Shakespeare explains how the fruit fly, the zebra fish, the roundworm and the mouse found themselves at the forefront of scientific research. When I was a child, one of my favourite books was called Bear, Mouse and Water Beetle. Today I want to tell you a contemporary story, which you could call Fly, Fish, Mouse and Worm, or for the scientists among you, Drosophila melanogaster, Danio rerio, Mus mus and Caenorhabditis elegans. You may remember Gregor Mendel and those smooth and wrinkled peas which he grew in the 1850s. Well, at the beginning of the 20th Century, research on mice, fruit flies and guinea pigs helped transform natural history into biological science. A model animal helps the scientist understand the basic processes common to all living creatures. But why fly, mouse, fish and worm? What is so great about these animals? Well, if you are a scientist looking for a model animal, there are practical considerations. You need a species which is small, easy to look after, and a fast breeder. It needs to be simple enough to understand and manipulate. In order to be able to learn lessons for health, you need a species which is diploid, meaning that the offspring gets one set of chromosomes from each parent, as with humans. And for ethical reasons, you would prefer simple organisms. The fruit fly reproduces quickly, requires no special care, and is so small that many thousands of them can be stored in a small space. The zebra fish is a tiny goldfish which originated in the river Ganges. It has the key research advantage of being a vertebrate, but it is also transparent, which means that developmental biologists can easily study the developing embryo. In a convenient twist, zebra fish can be fed on left-over fruit flies. The mouse is even better than fly and fish because it's a mammal, like us. In fact, around 90% of genes are the same in humans as in mice. Caenorhabditis elegans is a nematode worm, about 1mm long. It develops step-by-step from egg to an adult with exactly 959 body cells. The British Nobel Prize winner and his colleagues traced the development of every one of those cells by peering down a microscope. Subsequently, C elegans became the first multi-cellular organism to have its whole genome sequenced. What is the point of this history of the fly, fish, mouse and worm? In the past, animal models have vastly contributed to understanding human health and disease, as with the research on guinea pigs which led to the discovery of Vitamin C. Today, the drive is to find animal equivalents for human genetic problems, and then study what is going wrong. For example, scientists found the zebra fish mutation which corresponds to the mutated gene in those with muscular dystrophy, a rare genetic condition. Now they had their animal model, they could start testing thousands of different drug combinations on the developing zebra fish embryos, to see which, if any, drug combination prevented the disease. The fruit fly is often used - strange as it may sound - to study human behaviour. To take one example, there is a genetic variant called arouser in Drosophila which increases the number of synaptic connections, and makes them more tolerant of alcohol - in other words, turns them into alcoholics. Research published in 2011 shows that manipulating the environment of the adult fruit fly by socially isolating them, reverses the alcohol addiction. Meanwhile, the nematode worm, with its 302 neurons and the zebra fish with its 300,000 neurons are helping scientists understand the functional anatomy of the human brain, with its rather more complex 86 billion neurons. And why would I want to tell you this story? First, I think it's a tale which says a lot about science. The model animal approach has relied not just on brilliant detective work, but also on painstaking craft. Keeping animals alive, counting variants, keeping meticulous records, tracing embryological development is both a very fiddly business, and also rather repetitive and tiresome. Lay people don't tend to hear much about what you might call the housekeeping aspect of biology, and I think that's a shame, because it obscures how science depends on craft. My friend Jackie did her doctoral research on breast cancer, using a mouse model to see if a particular genetic variant played a role. In order to do her work, she had to become skilled at performing mastectomies on mice - that's a pretty fiddly job if you consider the size of a mouse nipple. Researchers who spend their whole careers on one tiny organism develop not just skills but also an attachment to their creature. John Sulston tells me about his work on C elegans, for which he was awarded the Nobel. "Although unglamorous to the naked eye", he says. "It shows a wealth of beautiful detail under both light and electron microscopes. "From the moment I learned how to watch dividing cells in live animals, I was entranced. For me, to sit and watch the cell lineages at 1000x as they unfolded was more a joy than a chore." Just to remind you, John's talking about a millimetre-long roundworm here. I can understand how biologists fall in love with their tanks full of darting zebra fish, but a worm? It is also a story about community and cooperation. When many different researchers study the same animal there are tremendous scientific benefits. In the first decade of the 20th Century, it was flies, in the 1970s, it was C elegans. In the 1980s, the fashion was for zebra fish. Each model species has led to a kinship of researchers, with their operating manuals, newsletters, conferences, all fostering exchanges of knowledge and skills between labs and countries. For example, while most research communities are rather orthodox in their naming conventions, in the fly community, gene variants are named for what they don't do. Flies with the "tinman" gene have no heart. "Cheapdate" means the fly gets drunk easily. Second, the model animals story highlights how biologists have gone from knowing a little about a lot of species, to knowing an immense amount about just a few. My father went up to Cambridge in 1947 to study natural sciences, and ended up specialising in botany. I still have his copy of Turrill's British Plant Life, published in 1948. There is a long chapter on the study of heredity in British plants discussing celandines, poppies, watercress, violets, pansies, campions, clovers, vetch, trefoil, raspberry, blackberry, saxifrage. Today, a textbook of plant science will almost exclusively tell you about the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana - thale cress - an insignificant weed of absolutely no medical, agricultural or horticultural value. Arabidopsis allows scientists to study, for example, drought resistance in food crops, but if you want someone to accurately identify plants in their natural habitat, you'd be better off turning to an amateur naturalist than a research biologist. The same goes for animals. We know an enormous amount about a roundworm, a fly, a fish and a mouse. After humans, they are the most studied organisms on the planet. But there are just a handful of model organisms, compared to the nearly nine million species on the earth and in the seas. It's true that the same genetic processes are conserved across biology - the gene that causes a shortened tail in the zebra fish does the same in the mouse. A staggering 70% of genes in the fruit fly have an exact human homologue. 75% of genes that underlie human disease have a zebra fish counterpart. That's the key principle that makes model animals so important for human health. A final thought. While model animals epitomise the success of the scientific strategy of reductionism, they may also illustrate the downside. Perhaps we risk losing the bigger picture, amidst all that fascinating detail. Now, more than ever, biology needs synthesisers, people who can weave together disparate threads of knowledge from different organisms and formulate testable questions. In an era of environmental change and rapid species loss, a wider dialogue is needed between these specialist research communities. After all, the fly, fish, mouse and worm are only chapters in a much bigger and more important story. You can follow the Magazine on and on31 May 2013Last updated at 16:27 GMT A Point Of View: Gatsby and the way we live now F Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby was able to invent himself because he lived in an age of illusion. Does the novel say something about the way we live now, asks John Gray. (Spoiler alert: Key plot details revealed below) Not long before he died, a celebrated conjuror, whose beautifully simple yet seemingly impossible tricks had earned him the baffled admiration of his fellow magicians, was asked if there was anything he still wanted. He replied, "I wish somebody could fool me one more time." The magician's confession came back into my mind when, a few months ago, I re-read The Great Gatsby. Scott Fitzgerald's novel - now in cinemas again - about a magnetically attractive millionaire, can be read as a story of the Jazz Age and a comment on the corruption of the American dream. It's also a tangled, and finally tragic, love story. Using the traumas of the "Lost Generation" that emerged disillusioned from World War I, Fitzgerald distils a picture of how American hopes of making a new start in history were derailed by a culture whose energy was spun off from crime and fraud. Yet I believe the unique quality of the book lies in its exploration of a more universal theme. A form of make-believe is the basis of society, and periods of extreme unreality like the Roaring Twenties have recurred throughout history. When reality breaks in, it's an interlude between different versions of make-believe. If Gatsby's story resonates so strongly with us as the new film of the book suggests, it's because we find ourselves in just such an interlude at the present time. The most obvious fact about Gatsby is that everyone knew he was a fake. While his friend Nick Carraway, who tells the story, wanted always to give Gatsby the benefit of the doubt, an aura of dissimulation surrounded the young tycoon from the start. According to Carraway, Jay Gatsby - the more glamorous name adopted by James Gatz at the age of 17 - "sprang from his Platonic conception of himself". Gatz's parents were poor farming people and he'd never really accepted them as his family. Like many before him and since, Gatsby was a self-invented personality. Where he differed from other self-invented figures was that the identity he invented for himself was a perfect embodiment of the fantastic world around him. "A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain," Carraway notes - a universe that encompassed not just the lavish parties that Gatsby laid on, but a multitude of glittering possibilities far removed from the bootlegging and gangsterism that were the true source of his wealth. Gatsby yearned to make these squalid realities unreal, and so establish as an accepted fact the image he had created of himself. His wealthy friends knew he was a fraud and were drawn to him for that very reason. Entranced by what Carraway described as Gatsby's "extraordinary gift for hope", they too wanted to make reality unreal. If everyone knew he was a fake and still believed in him, Gatsby must have been a rather special kind of fake. When you study the history of forgery in the arts, you'll find that what distinguishes the forged work from the genuine article isn't the skill with which the original has been copied. Some fake paintings are so good that they contain the artist's distinctive defects. Displaying these imperfections, these are the perfect fakes. There's nothing in a fake of this kind that distinguishes it from a painting by the artist himself. Yet the fake is still a fake, since the story of how it was made is false. What makes fake art is not any features of the art itself but the history of its production. The wealthy people that flocked around Gatsby colluded with him in his fakery because, like him, they wanted to forget how their wealth had been made. Fitzgerald's Jazz Age was a time when the borderlines between the fortunes of the elite and the spoils of organised crime were blurred and shifting. Prohibition helped create some of the great figures of the time and later. It's been claimed that the businessman and American ambassador to Britain Joseph P Kennedy used wealth he amassed from bootlegging to fund the political careers of his sons John and Robert Kennedy. The legitimate part of his fortune came from investing in Hollywood films - one of the mass media that together with radio shaped America in the 1920s. Easy money flowed from artificially low interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve Bank in order to lift the US out of recession at the start of the decade. Powered by reckless borrowing and shady practices, the soaring stock market seemed to defy gravity until it crashed to earth in 1929. Published in 1925, Fitzgerald's novel is astonishingly prescient in its insight into the shaky prosperity that ended with the crash. Some of the wealth that was created during the period was real enough. The 20s were the time when cars spread to the wider population, new roads allowed cities to expand into suburbs and electrification transformed everyday life. But much of the prosperity of the period was insubstantial, and when the crash came everybody was affected. This wasn't only because the boom rested on debt that couldn't be repaid. Much of the wealth of the time couldn't survive any clear vision of how it was produced. In these circumstances, Gatsby was the perfect fake. There was no way the boom could go on indefinitely. Perhaps, at some level, the wealthy elites that Fitzgerald describes knew the boom had to end. If so, it was a fact they couldn't face. Hence the magnetic appeal of a figure like Gatsby, whose power of self-invention seemed able to prevail over any underlying reality. Fitzgerald didn't write to teach any moral lesson, and there's none to be gleaned from The Great Gatsby. Instead the story points to an unalterable fact. Human beings live by suggestion, not calculation. Societies and economies don't change like machines that function according to known laws. They're more like dreams, which come and go for reasons the dreamer can't perceive. Over the course of time, as in the era that Fitzgerald portrays, the world that has been created by the dream turns out to be an illusion. So, too, are the figures that inhabit that world. Gatsby himself has become a phantom by wilfully pursuing an impossible vision - trying to renew his relationship with the woman he loved, and the short-lived intensity that existed in an unrepeatable past. Thinking of Gatsby near the end of the book, Carraway expresses his view of the man and his world: "A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about??" Carraway admired Gatsby, even loved him, for his unyielding loyalty to a vision of the unlimited possibilities of the future. At the same time, Carraway realised that Gatsby was a flawed and fated character who was bound unbreakably to the past. It may be Gatsby's invincible attachment to illusion that explains our current fascination with him and his world. Just as in the Roaring Twenties, we've lived through a boom that was mostly based on make-believe - easy money, inflated assets and financial skulduggery. The boom has ended, and no-one knows what will follow the current hiatus. Yet it's clear we've not given up make-believe. We want nothing more than to revive the fake prosperity that preceded the crash. Just like Gatsby, we want to return to a world that was conjured into being from dreams. As Fitzgerald's narrator puts in the famous last lines of the book: "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further?? And one fine morning - "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." We're possessed by Gatsby's vision of an unbounded future, even though we know it to be a fantasy. Sooner or later, one way or another, we'll find again the world of illusion we're looking for. Like the old magician, we can't help wanting to be fooled one more time. You can follow the Magazine on and on3 May 2013Last updated at 16:37 GMT A Point Of View: Ghosts in the material world John Gray revives the memory of a ghost story to discuss materialism - the theory that only matter exists. According to a curious, subtle, now largely forgotten writer: "Any event in this world - any human being for that matter - that seems to wear even the faintest cast or warp of strangeness, is apt to leave a disproportionately sharp impression on one's senses." In contrast, he goes on, "Life's mere ordinary day-to-day - its thoughts, talk, doings - wither and die out of the mind like leaves from a tree. Year after year a similar crop recurs, and that goes too. It is mere debris, it perishes. But these other anomalies survive, even through the cold of age." These lines come at the beginning of a story by Walter de la Mare, published in 1924, which deals with one of these anomalous experiences. During the later decades of his long life - he was born in 1873 and died in 1956 - de la Mare was a familiar feature of the English literary landscape, a poet and anthologist whose poems were learnt by heart by successive generations of schoolchildren and whose books were widely available in public libraries. So why is he so little known today? It may be because his work conveys a sense of the insubstantial quality of everyday things, a point of view that runs counter to the prevailing creed of scientific materialism. At his peak of public recognition, de la Mare was most celebrated as a writer for children, but in nearly everything he wrote he explored experiences of the uncanny. The story from which I've quoted - which is definitely meant for grown-ups - communicates this in an especially intense and concentrated way. Entitled Winter, the story describes a few moments in a churchyard late on a cold January afternoon in which nothing very definite seems to happen. The church wasn't particularly striking. The traveller who tells the tale describes pausing after long hours of walking in "a mere half-acre of gravestones huddling under their tower, in the bare glare of a winter's day". With the sky above a bright blue void, the church stood on a hill surrounded by brilliant fields of newly fallen snow. Nothing moved, and no sound broke the frozen hush. "In surroundings like these, in any vast vacant quiet," the traveller wrote, "the senses play uncommonly queer tricks with their possessor." Suddenly, after wandering about reading the epitaphs on the graves, the traveller looked up and realises he wasn't alone. On the outskirts of the graveyard he glimpsed a figure, dressed in rich colours, watching him with a gaze that met his own. The traveller wasn't afraid. What startled him were the arrestingly beautiful, honey-coloured face of the figure that had suddenly appeared - and the look of disbelief in its almost colourless eyes. Looking at him intently, as if the crystalline air of the graveyard was too dense for clear vision, the figure regarded the tired traveller with an expression of astonishment and distaste. The figure asked the traveller the way, and was directed to the gate that led to the human road. At this point the figure recoiled in horror, and then it was gone. Even in the glittering winter twilight, the human world was too dim and murky a place for the mysterious figure to want to stay. De la Mare has been described as a writer of supernatural tales, but what is so satisfying about this story is that it leaves the reader in suspense as to what the traveller has seen. When he encounters the visitor, the traveller realises that "this being, in human likeness, was not of my kind, nor of my reality". The figure was "no illusion of the senses". Rather, what the traveller has experienced leaves him with the suspicion the world that's normally given us through the senses may itself be an illusion. No assurances are given him regarding any other world. Graham Greene - a long-standing admirer and a religious believer - wrote that churches feature in de la Mare's stories as stone memorials of a dead religion. The traveller's epiphany occurs in "a mere half-acre of gravestones", not on sacred ground. The emotion the experience leaves in him is certainly not one of joyous uplift. Instead he feels diminished and bereft, seeing himself - as the visitor may have seen him - as little more than a shadow. De la Mare has no interest in explaining experiences of the kind his traveller describes. If anything he is suggesting that that they may be finally inexplicable. Of course this goes against the view of things that tells us the universe operates according to fixed and discoverable laws. But it may be worth asking whether this view is as solid as it seems to be. Materialism - the philosophy, not the perennial human tendency to pursue and accumulate material things - sees the universe as a physical system. Everything that exists in it must be some sort of matter, or something that emerges from matter. In a fully scientific view of the world, only material things are real. Everything else is just a phantom. In this view, science is a project of exorcism, which aims to rid the mind of anything that can't be understood in terms of physical laws. But perhaps it's the dogma of materialism that should be exorcised from our minds. Science is a method of inquiry, whose results can't be known in advance. If scientific inquiry is the most powerful tool for increasing human knowledge, it's because science is continuously changing our view of the world. The prevailing creed of scientific materialism is actually a contradiction, for science isn't a fixed view of things, still less a dogmatic faith. The belief that the world is composed only of physical things operating according to universal laws is metaphysical speculation, not a falsifiable theory. We know that physical things aren't as substantial as they seem to us to be. The idea of matter has shifted and changed. The black holes and quantum leaps studied by scientists today would be inconceivable to the materialist philosophers of the ancient world, with their simple notions of indivisible atoms. Nor can the belief that we live in a universe that's everywhere ruled by the same laws be taken for granted. Perhaps, as cosmologists in ancient India and Renaissance Europe believed and some physicists think today, there isn't only one universe but many, each governed by a different set of laws. Or maybe the world is at bottom chaotic, with what we think are natural laws being only regularities, patterns that appear for a while and then melt away. The perception we have that the world is governed by fixed laws may have come about because ours is one of the few corners of the universe where conditions are stable enough to have produced observers such as ourselves. The distinction between what's natural and what's not isn't as straightforward as it seems. The very idea of a law-governed cosmos may be a relic of monotheism, with natural laws serving the role that divine commands once did. Many religions don't distinguish between nature and the supernatural. For animists and polytheists, the natural world is full of spirits. Even if there are such things as laws of nature, there's no reason to think they must be accessible to the human mind. What science suggests is the opposite. If our minds evolved by natural selection as Darwin proposed, shaped more by a struggle for survival than by any search for truth, it's highly unlikely that we'll ever fully understand the universe. Almost certainly the world is a far stranger place than humans can possibly imagine. De la Mare was much too refined and penetrating a mind to imagine that ultimate questions can ever be settled. Instead, he unsettled the reader's view of things while leaving these questions open. His stories suggest that the everyday world contains gaps, anomalies and singularities, which may - or may not - point to a larger reality. The uncanniness of these tales comes from the impression they leave in the reader that our everyday existence is insubstantial and perhaps chimerical. Materialism asserts that anything apart from physical phenomena is a figment of the imagination - a kind of apparition, which must be exorcised from the mind. It's a very simple-minded philosophy. For de la Mare's traveller, it's not the strange visitor he encounters that's the ghost. It's the ordinary world that surrounds every one of us. You can follow the Magazine on and on8 February 2013Last updated at 17:05 GMT A Point of View: Grand Central, the world's loveliest station Historian David Cannadine charts the fall and rise of the architectural gem in the centre of New York, and a symbol of America's gilded age. Exactly 100 years ago this month, in February 1913, one of the 20th Century's most elaborate and majestic buildings was inaugurated in New York - an extraordinary amalgam of technological sophistication and architectural wonder. When I first saw it, in the early 1970s, I was completely overwhelmed and blown away, and 40 years later, it never fails to lift my spirits when I'm lucky enough to set foot there. It was - and still is - located at the very epicentre of midtown Manhattan on 42nd Street and Park Avenue. It was originally built for the New York Central Railroad, owned by the Vanderbilts, and it was formally styled Grand Central Terminal, because all the railway lines ended there. But it's always been more colloquially and affectionately known as Grand Central Station, or even as New York's living room. At the time of its construction, Grand Central was acclaimed as an engineering marvel. In the subterranean depths of Manhattan, a huge space was carved out, where trains could be boarded from platforms at two different levels, which were approached by gently sloping ramps rather than inconvenient stairs, and in terms of lighting and power, it was one of the first railroad stations to be all-electric. But Grand Central was also architecturally magnificent. Above ground there arose a spectacular beaux arts creation, all marble and chandeliers and sculpture and glass, the centrepiece of which was a huge and lofty passenger concourse, which drew the eyes of awe-struck passengers heavenwards, where they could marvel at a vast, barrelled ceiling, painted blue and decorated with the signs of the zodiac. Three years earlier, and 10 blocks to the south, the Pennsylvania Railroad Station had been constructed by the rival Pennsylvania Railroad Company, occupying all the land between Seventh and Eighth Avenues from 31st Street to 33rd. And Penn, as it became generally known, was indeed a train station, not a terminal, for it was the key stopping-off point on what we would now term the Northeast Corridor, the route extending from Boston, via New York and Philadelphia, to Washington DC. Designed by the New York firm of McKim, Mead and White, and also in the prevailing beaux arts style, it was constructed in pink granite, with columns and sculpture aplenty. The main waiting room, modelled on the baths of Caracalla in ancient Rome, was one of the largest indoor spaces in the US. These two great temples to trains were constructed in the early years of the 20th Century, when America's railroads were at the peak of their power and prestige. They tied together a nation that had survived the Civil War, that was transcontinental in its reach from sea to shining sea, and that seemed boundless in its aspirations. Here was the world's first "billion dollar country", a new industrial giant - in one guise throwing up millionaires aplenty in what was rightly termed "the gilded age", in another erupting suddenly on to the world stage in the aftermath of its success in the Spanish-American War. Thus began what would soon become "the American century" and, at least at the beginning, railroads were both the sinews and the symbols of this sudden and remarkable transformation. No city epitomised the wealth, the energy, the dynamism and the aspirations of early 20th Century America more fully or completely than New York, which now became the first great global metropolis of the western hemisphere. But it was already more than just that, for by the 1900s, it had become, pre-eminently, the one city in the world where it seemed as though the future was already happening, as had earlier been true of London in the 1800s, and as is true in our own time of Shanghai and Singapore. So it was entirely fitting that Penn Station and Grand Central were conceived and constructed on the most lavish scale, as triumphal departure points for those travelling great distances across a land of teeming possibilities, and as monumental entrances for those many people who were visiting New York to get a glimpse of the future. All this meant that in the America of Edith Wharton and Henry James, travelling by train, and arriving and leaving great cities and great stations by train, was an ennobling experience and an exhilarating adventure. But within half a century, the picture had changed dramatically, for while the US continued its seemingly inexorable journey to global greatness and unprecedented affluence, it no longer did so on the trains. By the 1950s, they were being superseded by the plane and the automobile. The railroad companies were losing money and would soon be heading for bankruptcy, and the once-proud stations were left to moulder and decay as anachronistic and expensive behemoths, standing in the way of modernity, and progress - and real estate development. Accordingly, in 1963, just a year after the destruction of the great arch that had formed the ceremonial entrance to Euston Station in London, the soaring roofs and the granite halls of New York's Pennsylvania Station were reduced to rubble. All of the columns and much of the sculpture were unceremoniously dumped into the New Jersey wastelands on the other side of the Hudson River. McKim, Mead and White's masterpiece was replaced by a dingy subterranean successor, bereft of light or character, above which was constructed an unprepossessing sports and entertainment complex, housing the relocated Madison Square Garden. The contrast with the power and the glory of the majestic edifice that had been there before could scarcely have been more dispiriting, and the great architectural historian Vince Scully described it unforgettably. In earlier times, he said, you had entered New York like a god, but now you scuttled in like a rat. I've always regretted never having seen the original Penn Station, and when it was destroyed, it seemed only a matter of time before Grand Central went the same way. Ever since the 1950s, there had been proposals to tear it down, and soon after Penn Station was demolished, a scheme was drawn up to put a massive skyscraper on the site. But although the property developers were determined to carry all before them, the climate of opinion had begun to change. Many New Yorkers, urged on by influential cultural critics such as Lewis Mumford, had initially opposed and subsequently deplored the destruction of Penn Station as a wanton act of civic irresponsibility and cultural philistinism. And so a public campaign was launched, supported by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, to ensure that Grand Central would not go the way of Penn Station. The preservationists' battle was long and hard and expensive, but they fought it all the way up to the Supreme Court, where they finally prevailed in 1978. And so Grand Central survived - though in the ensuing decade, it can hardly be said to have prospered. The once-fine fabric deteriorated, the great ceiling was darkened by soot and smoke, and the place became a Mecca for many of New York's homeless. But in 1988, a major refurbishment scheme was announced, and Grand Central was restored to its former glory, where the gods once more reign supreme and triumphant in its centenary year. And although Penn Station can never, alas, be recreated, there are plans to convert the neighbouring post office building - another imposing structure, also designed by McKim, Mead and White - into a new passenger concourse which might once again invest the experience of train travel with dignity and grandeur. For the time being, we are still scuttling about like rats, but at Pennsylvania Station the gods may yet return and there is even a campaign afoot to bring back London's Euston Arch. You can follow the Magazine on and on26 October 2012Last updated at 16:56 GMT A Point Of View: How China sees a multicultural world The vast majority of the Chinese population regard themselves as belonging to the same race, a stark contrast to the multiracial composition of other populous countries. What effect does this have on how China views the world, ask Martin Jacques. I was on a taxi journey in Shanghai with a very intelligent young Chinese student, who was helping me with interviews and interpreting. She was shortly to study for her doctorate at a top American university. She casually mentioned that some Chinese students who went to the US ended up marrying Americans. I told her that I had recently seen such a mixed couple in Hong Kong, a Chinese woman with a black American. This was clearly not what she had in mind. Her reaction was a look of revulsion. I was shocked. Why did she react that way to someone black, but not someone white? This was over a decade ago, but I doubt much has changed. What does her response tell us - if anything - about Chinese attitudes towards ethnicity? China's population is huge. What people aren't generally aware of, though, is that more than nine out of 10 Chinese people think of themselves as belonging to just one race, the Han. This is remarkable. It is quite different from the world's other most populous nations: India, United States, Indonesia and Brazil. All recognise themselves to be, in varying degrees, multiracial and multicultural. True, a country that is the size of a continent has obviously been home to countless different races down the ages. But that is not how the great majority of Chinese see themselves today. Why is this? The answer takes us back to the birth of modern China more than 2,000 years ago. China is extremely old - the longest continuously existing country in the world. The eastern half of China - where the vast majority of Chinese live now and lived then - has been more or less united ever since 211BC. Over that extraordinarily long period - as a result of war, occupation, absorption, assimilation, ethnic cleansing and government resettlement - the sense of difference between the many races that lived in the eastern half of China was slowly eroded. Fundamental to this process was the gradual emergence of a shared cultural identity. China, along with part of today's Middle East, was home to the first settled agricultural communities in the world. They gradually supplanted nomadic culture and ushered in the beginnings of centralised governance. Over the last two millennia, China has generally been one of the most advanced, often the most advanced, civilisation in the world. It is hardly surprising that, with a rich history like this, the Chinese have a very powerful sense of their cultural identity. Every country has its own unique story of ethnicity. Take the US. It starts with arrival of the European settlers and the near extermination of the native American population, to be followed later by large-scale African slavery. Not surprisingly, these experiences have profoundly influenced American attitudes and the country's behaviour as a global power. How did China evolve? It is essentially the story of the Han and the way in which over a period of two millennia they came to absorb the great majority of other ethnic groups. Before the victory of the Qin dynasty in 221BC, China was divided into many different states. The process of its subsequent unification was the creation of an empire. But whereas all the other great empires of the world have long since broken up, China remains united. Why? In one word - the Han. The Han identity has served as the glue which has kept a geographically and demographically vast country together. Without that shared identity, China would long ago have fallen apart. The China I have been talking about is the eastern half of present-day China, where more than 90% of the population lives. What then of the western half? This is a different story. It accounts for over half the territory of China but contains only about 6% of its population. Whereas the eastern half of China dates back about two millennia, the western part is far more recent, having only been incorporated about 300 years ago. From the mid-17th Century, large tracts of the western region were conquered by the Qing dynasty in a series of brutal wars. The inhabitants of these lands were not Han. With their different physical appearance, darker skin, distinctive customs and lower level of development, the Han saw them as the Other, as "barbarians". Not surprisingly, the Chinese government, both imperial and communist, has long had a troubled relationship with parts of the western regions, notably Tibet and Xinjiang. If the strength of the Han identity is that it has held China together, its weakness, I would argue, has been its relative lack of respect for difference, an underlying assumption that the non-Han should become like the Han - indeed eventually be absorbed into the Han. This attitude is not difficult to understand, it is how the Han became almost, but not quite, synonymous with being Chinese, or, to put it another way, how China was created. Ethnicity is a powerful determinant of how societies perceive others. So how is China, as a global power, likely to view the rest of the world? Just as with the US, China will naturally tend to see the world in its own image. An unusual feature of China, in this respect, is that its history is so atypical: a huge population who overwhelmingly consider themselves to share the same identity. This helps to explain why the Chinese have tended to think of Africa as one, just like China, rather than a complex mosaic of different ethnicities and cultures. The fact that China has had little experience of, or exposure to, the rest of the world until very recently - the past 30 years to be exact - has served to reinforce a tendency to see other countries through a Chinese prism. Bear in mind, too, that the Chinese have a deep pride in their own cultural achievements, many believing that, for understandable reasons, their civilisation, and their history, is greater than all others. Such an outlook also tends to accentuate a China-centric view of the world. When I first got to know the Chinese, one of the things I most enjoyed about them was their powerful sense of who they were, their confidence in who they were. They did not defer to white people. I liked that and respected them for it. It was as if their remarkable history resided in each and every one of them and made them walk tall. Despite the fact that for the best part of two centuries China came to suffer hugely at the hands of the West, and to lag badly behind the West, the Chinese never stopped believing in themselves. Such pride and confidence is to be admired. In my view, though, it can also have a downside - a tendency to look down on others. If the Chinese have always considered themselves to be at least the equal of white Westerners, a common, though by no means universal, attitude has been to regard those of darker skin as inferior. My horrified student friend was a case in point. But why is this? Its roots are deep. For many centuries, white has had positive connotations in Chinese culture and black negative ones. Perhaps the reason is that those who toiled all day in the fields became dark while the aristocratic elite, protected from the sun, remained pristine white. To this day, interestingly, skin whitening products are enormously popular amongst Chinese women, as they also are in Japan and Korea and elsewhere. Over the past two centuries, the Chinese have been hugely aware of the fact that white societies around the globe have been dominant while those of colour, especially African, have been poorer and much less developed. Success breeds respect, failure can all too easily attract scorn. Remember, those of African descent, until the past few decades, have been remote and distant from the Chinese, far removed from their knowledge and experience, a situation which can foster ignorance and prejudice. There are small signs of change. Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast footballer who now plays for Shanghai Shenhua, has spoken in glowing terms about how the Chinese have received him. As China becomes increasingly familiar with the world - as is now happening in such a dramatic way, from Africa to Latin America, and South Asia to Central Asia - parochial if deep-seated prejudices will come under growing pressure.7 June 2013Last updated at 16:45 GMT A Point Of View: How important is compassion in healthcare? Parts of the NHS have come under fire in recent months, with David Cameron among those calling for health professionals to show more compassion. But Tom Shakespeare asks if there are dangers in placing too much emphasis on empathy. A few months ago, I found myself interviewing would-be medical students. When each young person came to my station, my task was to ask them to define empathy and to give an example of when someone had failed to display this quality. Almost without exception, the candidates were able to do this. So far so good, and I filled in the marking sheet accordingly. But the next question stumped me. I had to record whether I thought the student would make a compassionate doctor. The options were "no", "possibly", and "definitely". But how could I tell, on the basis of a seven-minute conversation? In almost every case, I ended up ticking the box marked "possibly". It also reminded me of a famous gag from George Burns: "The most important thing is sincerity. If you can fake that, you've got it made." Now, it's clearly important that doctors and other health professionals can display empathy and behave compassionately. Recent scandals at Stafford Hospital and Winterbourne View show the impact on patients when things go wrong. At Winterbourne View, vulnerable people were mocked and even tortured by the very staff who should have been supporting them. Eleven workers were convicted, and six went to prison. Death rates at Stafford Hospital were found to be much higher than at other comparable hospitals. Patients were left sitting in their own urine and were forced to drink out of flower vases from lack of effective nursing care. In February the Francis Report made 290 recommendations to avoid any future breakdown of standards. Some critics think that this amounts to micro-regulation. They argue that instead of a box-ticking culture, we need ethics-based care and self-regulation. The prime minister seems to agree, saying that "nurses should be hired and promoted on the basis of having compassion as a vocation and not just academic qualification". He also thinks that nurses should serve their time as care assistants before they even start their training. There are a number of reasons to be cautious about this approach. I've mentioned that it's very difficult to detect which prospective doctors and nurses will be compassionate. Second, it's not obvious that we can even teach people to be genuinely empathetic or compassionate. Third, it would be rather difficult to measure and reward compassion during the practice of care. What would it mean to incentivise or monetise compassion? It sounds like a contradiction in terms. What goes wrong, in places like Stafford Hospital, is only indirectly about compassion. The real problem is usually systemic. It's very hard to maintain professional standards if you are under-resourced and poorly led. The doctors and nurses at that hospital were no less moral than their colleagues in other units. It is more likely that they became ground down and demotivated by failings across the organisation. My colleague, the medical ethicist Anna Smajdor, thinks that it's dangerous to rely on compassion as the motivation to ensure that essential tasks are carried out. "Reminders, routines and checklists are alternative, and effective, ways of ensuring that crucial healthcare tasks are undertaken, without relying on compassion or other feelings to motivate the staff involved," she says. Rather than emphasising compassion, many medical educators would say that their priority is to ensure that professionals have sound medical knowledge. After all, when it comes to heart surgery, most of us are less concerned about whether a doctor is kind and more worried about whether they know what they are doing and have great outcomes statistics. In a crowded medical school curriculum, ensuring that doctors learn the core clinical skills comes first. I would also add that in the disability movement, we are rather suspicious of compassion. Activists sometimes wear T-shirts with the slogan "Piss on Pity". Disabled people do not want people to feel our pain, we want them to get off our backs. Another relevant motto is that professionals should be "on tap, not on top". Non-disabled people may imagine what it's like to have an impairment, thinking how dreadfully tragic it must be. But, actually, they are just projecting their own fears and ignorance, letting their moral imagination run away with itself. The evidence proves that most disabled people are well-adjusted and report a good quality of life. Empathy and compassion are only good up to a point. The health professional who feels our pain most is likely to be the one who burns out first. Professionals encounter so much misery and misfortune in their daily practice that they need to develop a thick skin in order to go on doing what they do. The surgeon who cuts into your body or brain would be unable to do this if they thought too much about the real-life human being that they were hacking. A measure of objectivity and distance is required. The , suggested that empathy was a poor guide to moral judgement. Rather than using our heads and looking at the evidence, our hearts are moved by emotive stories. Reports about individual tragedies close to home have more impact than hundreds of thousands being killed in a far off land. This results in actions that turn out to be parochial, narrow-minded and innumerate. Bloom concluded that "empathy will have to yield to reason if humanity is to have a future". So there are powerful arguments against relying principally on empathy or compassion. But I want to take Aristotle's middle way in this debate. I come from a family of doctors and nurses, although my own experience comes from being a patient and from teaching health professionals. So I can see things from both sides. Focusing just on doing tasks and following rules efficiently and effectively is not enough either. The Dutch theologian Henri Nouwen, in his book The Wounded Healer, writes: "How many leave hospital healed of their physical illness but hurt in their feelings by the impersonal treatment they received; how many return from their consultations with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers or counsellors, increasingly irritated by the non-committal attitude and professional distance they encounter?" This reminds me of a medical colleague. She told me about a consultant who said: "I find the ward round goes much faster if you don't talk to the patients." We need health professionals who are technically competent, but who can also demonstrate the virtues of compassion and empathy. In most of medicine, technical versus caring skills is a false dichotomy. Changing a bed pan or taking a blood sample are not simply objective tasks. You can do them in ways which are empowering and soothing, or you can do them in ways which are demeaning and disrespectful. There is no contradiction between teaching students to demonstrate empathy and ensuring that they know the technical stuff. We need our healthcare workers to learn both aspects of the healing arts. Of course, some doctors and nurses will be better at the caring part, and some will be better at the technical part. That's why there are different specialisms. If you don't have good people skills, then go into pathology or microbiology, or become a theatre nurse. It's also why there are teams. One hopes that the brilliant but brusque cardiac surgeon is accompanied by a nurse or a junior who can translate their opaque communications into plain English and provide the element of kindness which may be lacking in their boss. The importance of teamwork is another reason why we need doctors who can get on with other people. They are going to have to work with their juniors, with other specialisms, and with other professionals such as nurses. If they can't maintain good relationships with their colleagues, or if they are despised and mistrusted, this will translate into low morale and poor patient care. The emphasis on technical skills also obscures a key point about modern medicine, one which students find difficult to absorb. The vast majority of clinical interactions are not particularly related to technical matters. Except for the tiny percentage of the time when you are in surgery or on life support, healthcare is more about listening and communicating. As one doctor said to me: "The majority of medicine is making reassuring noises." This is particularly the case in specialisms such as general practice, geriatrics, rehabilitation, and psychiatry. I do not want my health professional feeling sorry for me. But I do want them to realise how things feel, from my point of view, which entails them taking time to listen to me respectfully and react empathetically. It may be routine for the health professional, but this is the first time you've had an operation, or the first time your partner has been pregnant. Rather than being impatient or dismissive, I want them to take a moment to realise how it is for us. And if they don't know, they could always ask.22 June 2012Last updated at 18:00 GMT A Point of View: How to get your own back on your critics Most authors dread unfavourable reviews from the critics - but there is an effective way to deal with detractors, explains Adam Gopnik. Every morning when I turn to the Guardian or Daily Telegraph website, I seem to encounter one writer or another offering his or her view of what the modern crisis is like, and how to make it less like a crisis. We authors, ma'am - to use the phrase that Disraeli would use with Queen Victoria, who had written a sort of book once - we authors do like to talk gravely about the future of mankind and the novel and the power of the word. But in truth, there are only two subjects that we authors, in my experience, actually talk about in private with any real zing from the heart. One is the size of our - or their - advances. The other, what to do about your - OK, our - bad reviews. And, since those bad reviews stand in the way of those bigger sales, the two questions really collapse into one - what do you do when people who shouldn't be allowed to offer their opinion of cheap cheese say that they don't like your book, and do so in print? Ignore it, I hear you cry, as one body, and that indeed is what the writer's spouse and partner and children (if they know) and agent (if he cares) and editors all say, too. Ignore it. Claim the moral high ground. So you've got a stinker in the New York Times or the London one, for that matter. Who cares? No-one reads them anyway, and anyone who does read them could see at a glance that jealousy and envy and sheer stupid malice have done their usual work. And it's all true, or true enough. Jealousy and envy are big forces in life. It's an odd thing that in every Disney or Pixar cartoon, the plucky hero or heroine is bedevilled by an enemy whose sole motive, often as not, is envy - Ursula in The Little Mermaid or Hades in Hercules. But we fail to warn our children about envy's power until they're out in the world. So, the writer tries. He - we - claim the moral high ground. We walk around for a day or two, looking down pityingly on the poor benighted reviewer, a small smile of amusement at his expense playing around the corners of our mouths. But the trouble with claiming the moral high ground is that a writer who has just claimed the moral high ground doesn't look any different from a writer who is just standing there doing nothing. To the untutored eye, an impervious author looks just the same as an infuriated one. The only other traditional response is the letter to the offending publication, written late at night. The late-night letter to the reviewer, or the place the review appeared, is by far the most impassioned literary genre that exists, but no-one except the writer, or very occasionally the writer's spouse, gets to read or hear it. The late-night letter is always composed in three drafts. The first, or 2am draft, is written in a tone of light-hearted, stinging, supercilious irony: "Much though I enjoyed Mr X's lively cabaret turn, of which my book was the ostensible subject, I did think that I might correct a few of the more egregious errors he made in the course of his caperings??" The next, 3am version revises itself into a tone of sneering, corrective truth-telling: "The egregious errors that fill Mr X's review of my book are too many to enumerate, but perhaps your readers might like to know the three most, er, egregious??" And the last, or 4am version is downright enraged: "The difference between criticism and character assassination having long ago vanished from your pages??" And so on. The problem is that this last is the only version that the spouse gets to hear - since it is the one whose composition makes even the thought of sleep at last impossible - and that one, he or she knows, as soon as they've heard it, is really really not worth sending. Had they heard the earlier, wittier ones, their view might be different, but you would never wake her, or him, up to recite the earlier versions. She'd kill you if you did - at least my wife would. Sleep is her idea of a good review of the day just passed. Occasionally, the spouse is away, though, and that letter gets sent. Now, here is the truly interesting thing - the public, even the writer's closest friends, always secretly side with the reviewer against the letter-writing author. The author writing that letter may be a man or woman of exquisite taste and immense erudition, of literary skill and real moral authority. The reviewer may be, very often is, a cheap hack who specialises in spewing out snark for glossy magazines. But the world will chortle and back-slap the book reviewer, at least in spirit, and snigger and point at the poor author who has responded. Why should this be? It is, I think, that no-one really looks to book reviews, or theatre reviews or art reviews or movie reviews, or any reviews, really, for a fair or accurate appraisal of a work of art. We see them as a gladiatorial contest, or even a kind of bullfight - the reviewer in his suit of lights goading the poor authorial bull - and we feel as indignant at the author stopping the contest to protest the unfairness of the thing, as we would if the bull stopped the fight in order to write an indignant letter to a Spanish newspaper. This was the sad state where things stood until the other evening, when I had a long talk with a friend of mine, another author, who had stumbled on an entirely new and ingenious way of levelling the playing field. He had tried the Big Ignore, and he had brooded on the Bad Letter, and he said he now has a new approach. He now waits exactly four months - less would be too obvious, more too many - until his enemy, Mr or Ms X, writes something else, anything else. He then writes a warm letter, or email, of congratulation to him or her. Not anything too ornate or obsequious. Just: "Hey X, Really liked your piece on David Foster Wallace and the ambiguities of irony. Fine job on an important subject, Hope you're well, Y." I am in awe of the number of beautiful things this simple act accomplishes. First, it shows to the one person, who most needs to be shown it, that the author has indeed claimed the moral high ground after the nasty review. The magnanimity, the serenity, the imperturbable good humour of Y, the author, is forced into the face of the one person on earth who most needs to be shown it. Next, and this is the subtle thing maybe, Mr X, the reviewer, though grateful for the appreciation - he's an author, too, after all - can't help but suspect, just a little, in some paranoid corner of his heart (it has many paranoid corners - he's an author), that he is being "got at" in some way. Is Y, he wonders, just for a panicky half-second, actually mocking him? No, can't be that?? his piece on David Foster Wallace, was, after all, so great a piece that everyone would have to recognise it, even those he had wounded. But for a fine thrilling moment, the purpose of that first supercilious and unsent letter - to make the reviewer feel not hated, but condescended to, dismissed - has been achieved. And finally, my friend tells me, the warm four-month later letter invariably produces?? an apology for the bad review. "Hey, I hope you didn't take what I wrote in the wrong way..." Now why should this be so? It is because while all bad reviews, to a first approximation, are accurate, as authors secretly know, all bad reviews are also, to a first approximation, untrue, and the reviewer knows that too. A writer is not some student who performs well or ill on an exam. A writer, any real writer anyway, is a person on the page, whole, and the books he or she writes are the whole of him or her. Our response to them is personal, and you can't really review a person - you can only respond to one. I believe that from now on every artist and every author should embrace my friend's tactic and make it strategic. Bombard your bad reviewers with advice, admiration and counsel, encumber them with your affection, afflict them with your over-bounding warmth. Guilt and remorse will pour from them as surely as if they were ripe grapes that had been stomped on by a willing peasant. Let the word go out from this day forth from author to reviewer - write that bad review, and I will?? recommend you to my friends, crash cocktail parties given for someone else to make a toast in your honour, until at last you develop a haunted look in your eyes, fearing my embrace. Write that bad review - and you shall have me for your life long friend. Ask yourself - is it worth it?2 November 2012Last updated at 17:48 GMT A Point Of View: Is China more legitimate than the West? China and the United States are about to choose new leaders via very different methods. But is a candidate voted for by millions a more legitimate choice than one anointed by a select few, asks Martin Jacques. This week will witness an extraordinary juxtaposition of events. On Tuesday the next American president will be elected. Two days later, the 18th congress of the Chinese Communist Party will select the new Chinese president and prime minister. The contrast could hardly be greater. Americans in their tens of millions will turn out to vote. In China the process of selection will take place behind closed doors and involve only a relative handful of people. You are probably thinking, "Ah, America at its best, China at its worst - the absence of democracy. China's Achilles heel is its governance. This will be China's downfall." I want to argue quite the contrary. You probably think that the legitimacy and authority of the state, or government, is overwhelmingly a function of democracy, Western-style. But democracy is only one factor. Nor does democracy in itself guarantee legitimacy. Think of Italy. It is always voting, but the enduring problem of Italian governance is that its state lacks legitimacy. Half the population don't really believe in it. Now let me shock you: the Chinese state enjoys greater legitimacy than any Western state. How come? In China's case the source of the state's legitimacy lies entirely outside the history or experience of Western societies. I explained that China is not primarily a nation-state but a civilisation-state. For the Chinese, what matters is civilisation. For Westerners it is nation. The most important political value in China is the integrity and unity of the civilisation-state. Given the sheer size and diversity of the country, this is hugely problematic. Between the 1840s and 1949, China was occupied by the colonial powers, divided and fragmented. The Chinese refer to it as their century of humiliation. They see the state as the embodiment and guardian of Chinese civilisation. Its most important responsibility - bar none - is maintaining the unity of the country. A government that fails to ensure this will fall. There have been many examples in history. The legitimacy of the Chinese state lies, above all, in its relationship with Chinese civilisation. But does the Chinese state, you may well ask, really enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of its people? Take the findings of Tony Saich at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. he found that between 80 and 95% of Chinese people were either relatively or extremely satisfied with central government. Or take the highly respected Pew Global Attitudes surveys , for example, that 91% of Chinese respondents thought that the government's handling of the economy was good (the UK figure, incidentally was 45%). Such high levels of satisfaction do not mean that China is conflict-free. On the contrary, there are countless examples of protest action, such as for higher wages in 2010 and 2011, and the 150,000 or more so-called mass incidents that take place every year - generally protests by farmers against what they see as the illegal seizure of their land by local authorities in cahoots with property developers. But these actions do not imply any fundamental dissatisfaction with central government. If the Chinese state enjoys such support, then why does it display such signs of paranoia? The controls on the press and the internet, the periodic arrest of dissidents, and the rest of it. Good point. Actually, all Chinese governments have displayed these same symptoms. Why? Because the country is huge and governance is extremely difficult. They are always anxious, always fearing the unforeseen. Anticipating sources of instability has long been regarded as a fundamental attribute of good governance. Not surprisingly, the Chinese have a quite different attitude towards government to that universal in the West. True, our attitude depends in part on where we stand on the political spectrum. If you are on the right, you are likely to believe in less government and more market. If you are on the left, you are likely to be more favourably disposed to the state. But both left and right share certain basic assumptions. The role of the state should be codified in law, there should be clear limits to its powers, and there are many areas in which the state should not be involved. We believe the state is necessary - but only up to a point. The Chinese idea of the state could hardly be more different. They do not view it from a narrowly utilitarian standpoint, in terms of what it can deliver, let alone as the devil incarnate in the manner of the American Tea Party. They see the state as an intimate, or, to be more precise, as a member of the family - the head of the family, in fact. The Chinese regard the family as the template for the state. What's more, they perceive the state not as external to themselves but as an extension or representation of themselves. The fact that the Chinese state enjoys such an exalted position in society lends it enormous authority, a remarkable ubiquity and great competence. Take the economy. China's economic rise - an annual growth rate of 10% for more than 30 years - has been masterminded by the Chinese state. It is the most remarkable economic transformation the world has seen since the modern era began with Britain's industrial revolution in the late 18th Century. Even though China is still a poor developing country, its state, I would argue, is the most competent in the world. Take infrastructure - the importance of which is belatedly now being recognised in the West. Here, China has no peers. Its high speed rail network is the world's largest and will soon be greater than the rest of the world's put together. And the state's ubiquity - a large majority of China's most competitive companies, to this day, are state-owned. Or consider the one-child policy, which still commands great support amongst the population. The competence of the state is little talked about or really valued in the West, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world. Indeed, since the early 80s, the debate about the state in Britain has largely been conducted in terms either of what bits should be privatised or how it can be made to mimic the market. Now, however, we are in a new ball game. With the Western economies in a profound mess and with China's startling rise, the competence of the state can no longer be ignored. Our model is in crisis. Theirs has been delivering the goods. As China's dramatic ascent continues - which it surely will - then China's strengths will become a growing subject of interest in the West. We will realise that our relationship with them can no longer consist of telling them how they should be like us. A little humility is in order. One of the most dramatic illustrations of this will be the state. We think of it as their greatest weakness but we will come to realise that it is one of their greatest strengths. Beyond a point it would be quite impossible for a Western state to be like China's. It is the product of a different history and a different relationship between state and society. You could never transplant their state into a Western country, and vice versa. But this does not mean that we cannot learn from the Chinese state, just as they have learnt much from us. China's rise will have a profound effect on Western debate. In about six years hence, the Chinese economy will overtake the US economy in size. By 2030 it will be very much larger. The world is increasingly being shaped by China, and if it has looked west for the last two centuries, in future it will look east. Welcome, then, to the new Chinese paradigm - one that combines a highly competitive, indeed often ferocious market, with a ubiquitous and competent state. For us in the West this is an entirely new phenomenon. And it will shape our future.9 August 2013Last updated at 16:59 GMT A Point of View: Is democracy overrated? Democracy is championed as a universal good by the West, but we over-estimate its power to guarantee personal and political freedom, argues Roger Scruton. For some time, the leading Western nations have acted upon the assumption that democracy is the solution to political conflict, and that the ultimate goal of foreign policy must be to encourage the emergence of democracy in countries which have not yet enjoyed its benefits. And they continue to adhere to this assumption, even when considering events in the Middle East today. We can easily sympathise with it. For democracies do not, in general, go to war with each other, and do not, in general, experience civil war within their borders. Where the people can choose their government, there is a safety valve that prevents conflicts from over-heating. Unpopular governments are rejected without violence. The championship of democracy has therefore become a settled feature of Western foreign policy. In retrospect, the Cold War has been seen as a conflict between democracy and totalitarianism, in which democracy finally triumphed. And with democracy came the liberation of the people of the former communist states. Where there had been tyranny and oppression, there was now freedom and human rights. And if we study the words of Western politicians, we will constantly find that the three ideas - democracy, freedom and human rights - are spoken of in one breath, and assumed in all circumstances to coincide. That, for many of our political leaders, is the lesson to be drawn from the Cold War and the final collapse of the Soviet empire. In my view, the idea that there is a single, one-size-fits-all solution to social and political conflict around the world, and that democracy is the name of it, is based on a disregard of historical and cultural conditions, and a failure to see that democracy is only made possible by other and more deeply hidden institutions. And while we are willing to accept that democracy goes hand in hand with individual freedom and the protection of human rights, we often fail to realise that these three things are three things, not one, and that it is only under certain conditions that they coincide. Democracy was introduced into Russia without any adequate protection for human rights. And many human rights were protected in 19th Century Britain long before the emergence of anything that we would call democracy. In the Middle East today, we find parties standing for election, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which regards an electoral victory as the opportunity to crush dissent and impose a way of life that for many citizens is simply unacceptable. In such circumstances democracy is a threat to human rights and not a way of protecting them. I had the opportunity to study some of these issues during the 1980s, when visiting friends and colleagues who were attempting to plant the seeds of opposition in the communist countries. These were public-spirited citizens, who ran the risk of arrest and imprisonment for activities which you and I would regard as entirely innocent. They ran classes for young people who had been deprived of an education on account of their parents' political profile. They established support networks for writers, scholars, musicians and artists who were banned from presenting their work. They smuggled medicines, bibles, religious symbols and textbooks. And because charities were illegal under communism and religious institutions were controlled by the Communist Party, all this work had to be conducted in secret. The totalitarian system, I learned, endures not simply by getting rid of democratic elections and imposing a one-party state. It endures by abolishing the distinction between civil society and the state, and by allowing nothing significant to occur which is not controlled by the Party. By studying the situation in Eastern Europe, I came quickly to see that political freedom depends upon a delicate network of institutions, which my friends were striving to understand and if possible to resuscitate. So what are these institutions? First among them is judicial independence. In every case where the Communist Party had an interest, the judge was under instructions to deliver the verdict that the Party required. It didn't matter that there was no law that the victim had breached. If necessary, a law could be invented at the last moment. If the Party wanted someone to be in prison, then the judge had to put that person in prison. If he refused, then he would end up in prison himself, if he was lucky. In such circumstances the rule of law was a complete fiction: law was simply a mask worn by the Party, as it dictated its decisions to the people. Then there is the institution of property rights. Normal people in the communist state had virtually nothing to their name - nothing legal, that is. Their houses or flats were owned by the state, their few personal possessions could not be freely traded in the market, and their salary and pension depended on their political conformity and could be removed at any time. In these circumstances the entire economy went underground. No court of law would enforce the contracts that people needed if they were to get on with their lives. You might have a deal with your neighbour to exchange vegetables for maths lessons. But if one of you defected and the other took the dispute to law, the only result would be that both of you went to prison for conducting an illegal business. All transactions therefore depended upon personal trust, in a situation in which trust was in shorter and shorter supply. Hence society was riven by conflicts and suspicions, which neither law nor politics could remedy. And the Communist Party rejoiced in this situation, since it prevented people from combining against it. Then there is freedom of speech and opinion. The freedom to entertain and express opinions, however offensive to others, has been regarded since Locke in the 17th Century as the pre-condition of a political society. This freedom was enshrined in the US constitution, defended in the face of the Victorian moralists by John Stuart Mill, and upheld in our time by my dissident friends. We take this freedom so much for granted that we regard it as the default position of humanity - the position to which we return, if all oppressive powers are removed from us. But my experience of communist Europe convinced me of the opposite. Orthodoxy, conformity and the hounding of the dissident define the default position of mankind, and there is no reason to think that democracies are any different in this respect from Islamic theocracies or one-party totalitarian states. Of course, the opinions that are suppressed change from one form of society to another, as do the methods of suppression. But we should be clear that to guarantee freedom of opinion goes against the grain of social life, and imposes risks that people may be reluctant to take. For in criticising orthodoxy, you are not just questioning a belief - you are threatening the social order that has been built on it. Also, orthodoxies are the more fiercely protected the more vulnerable they are. Both those principles are surely obvious from the reaction of Islamists to criticisms directed at their religion. Just as it was in the wars of religion that ravaged Europe in the 17th Century, it is precisely what is most absurd that is most protected. And critics are not treated merely as people with an intellectual difficulty. They are a threat, the enemies of society and, for the believer, the enemies of God. So it was too under communism, in which a system of government had been built on theories that may have looked plausible in the early days of the industrial revolution but which in the post-war economy of Europe were palpably ridiculous. For that very reason it was the greatest heresy to criticise them. Finally, there is legitimate opposition. This was perhaps the greatest casualty of communism as it afflicted Europe. When Lenin imposed the communist system on Russia it was in the form of a top-down dictatorship, in which orders were passed down to the ranks below. It was a kind of military government, and opposition could no more unite against it than soldiers in the ranks can unite against their commanders. In times of emergency this kind of discipline is perhaps necessary. But it is the opposite of civilised government. It has been assumed in this country from the time of the Anglo-Saxons that political decisions are taken in council, after hearing all sides to the question, and taking note of the many interests that must be reconciled. Long before the advent of democracy, our parliament divided into government and opposition, and except in stressful periods during the 16th and 17th Centuries it was acknowledged that government without opposition is without any corrective when things go wrong. That is what we saw in the Soviet Union and its empire - a system of government without a reverse gear, which continued headlong towards the brick wall of the future. In the underground universities of communist Europe, my friends and colleagues studied those things, and prepared themselves for the hoped-for day when the Communist Party, having starved itself of every rational input, would finally give up the ghost. And the lessons that they learned need to be learned again today, as our politicians lead us forth under the banner of democracy, without pausing to examine what democracy actually requires. You can follow the Magazine on and on29 March 2013Last updated at 15:02 GMT A Point of View: Is there a secret to a happy marriage? Nobody can explain the secret to a happy marriage, says Adam Gopnik, but it doesn't stop people trying. Anyone who tells you their rules for a happy marriage doesn't have one. There's a truth universally acknowledged, or one that ought to be anyway. Just as the people who write books about good sex are never people you would want to sleep with, and the academics who write articles about the disappearance of civility always sound ferociously angry, the people who write about the way to sustain a good marriage are usually on their third. Nonetheless (you knew there was a nonetheless on its way) although I don't have rules, I do have an observation after many years of marriage (I've promised not to say exactly how many, though the name "Jimmy Carter" might hold a clue). This principle, or formula, came to me when I was thinking about something else entirely - usually a good sign, lateral thinking being generally saner than the logical kind. It dawned on me when I was brooding on the marriage of Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgwood, his cousin, for a book I was writing that was in part about the Darwins. In 1838, when Darwin was first thinking of marriage, he made an irresistible series of notes on the subject - a scientific-seeming list of marriage pros and cons. Against the idea, he listed "the expense and anxiety of children" and the odd truth that a married man could never "go up in a balloon". In favour of marriage, he included the acquisition of a "constant companion and friend in old age" and, memorably and conclusively, decided that a wife would be "better than a dog, anyhow". And the Darwins went on to have something close to an ideal marriage. As he lay dying in 1882, the distinguished scientist, who had irrevocably altered the consciousness of the world, and knew it, said simply: "My love, my precious love." What made it work? My theory is that happy marriages, from the Darwins on down, are made up of a steady, unchanging formula of lust, laughter and loyalty. The Darwins had lust, certainly - 10 children in 17 years suggests as much anyway - and they had laughter. Emma loved to tease Charles about his passion, already evident in youth, for obsessive theorising. "After our marriage," she wrote to him early on, "you will be forming theories about me, and if I am cross or out of temper you will only consider: 'What does that prove?' which will be a very philosophical way of considering it." And loyalty? Well, despite Emma's Christian faith, she stood by him through all the evolutionary wars, and did for him the one thing only a loyal spouse can do - pretend he wasn't in when German journalists came calling. So, marriages are made of lust, laughter and loyalty - but the three have to be kept in constant passage, transitively, back and forth, so that as one subsides for a time, the others rise. Lust, I suppose, needs no explanation. I will add only that when I told our children complacently once that if my wife had been five inches taller, she would have been out of my league. She replied - accurately - that she was out of my league, and always had been, and that if she had been five inches taller we would simply have been playing a different sport. Nor does laughter need much annotation. The greatest joy in life is to discover that the same absurdities of life seem absurd to you both, creating that lovely moment of breakage when the masquerade of courtship you have been enacting becomes suddenly a backstage embrace: We're on to each other, and to the world, and will forever be in cahoots. The trick is that marriage is played upon a tilted field, and everything flows downhill towards loyalty. We've all seen that. Marriages from which lust fled decades ago, and laughter became hollow back in the 1990s, but which continue to run on loyalty alone. They persist on a primitive attachment, no better - and in many ways quite like - that of a couple living in rubbish bins in a Samuel Beckett play, held together by an incantation of repeated phrases in the face of the encroaching hopelessness. Loyalty alone can sustain a marriage, but not happily, and not for long. And so people are inspired again and again to try and pass directly back from loyalty back to lust - to relight or rekindle a marriage with the old passion. This produces the romantic getaway - the hotel room rented for the night on Valentine's Day, and all the rest of the pathetic arsenal of relighting a fire that went out 10 summers ago. It never works. If anything, more divorces are caused by attempts at erotic rejuvenation than by ongoing mutual bitterness. When your troubled friends head for the Caribbean, you know that it is all over. "We tried everything, even Venice," your friend says, and you sigh for them. You can't transcend loyalty and get back to lust in one short step. This is because the three-part formula of lust, laughter and loyalty is one in which you can only return from one end of the equation to the other by passing through the middle term. It's like getting to the cafe car on a train - you can't avoid walking through the cars between. The real problem therefore with maintaining a happy marriage is this - that although the things you both found funny early on will remain so, the larger sense of what is funny will divide over time. Any sane person, for instance, knows that the three funniest movies ever made are This Is Spinal Tap, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and one of the Naked Gun movies. My son knows this. I know this. Everyone knows this. Yet my wife, to take an example completely at random, thinks that funny movies include things such as Annie Hall and The Big Lebowski. Very, very good movies, to be sure. The best. But not really funny movies. My wife, like many of her kind, thinks that funny movies are funnier when they have, you know, a point and an emotional arc, elements of pathos and meaning. She thinks that funny should be funny-plus, instead of funny-funny. Fortunately, though it becomes harder as the years go by to agree on funny-at-length, everyone can agree on funny-in-brief. And since the funniest single sketch ever recorded is Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's 1960s pub sketch - the one where Pete and Dud share tales about the famous movie stars they have had to beat away from their beds - it creates the perfect pre-aphrodisiac, the moment to begin to laugh again. This means that every marriage can be saved. And so, I realise, with the blinding clarity with which Darwin reduced the mystery of life's passage simply to the struggle for existence, that all happy marriages can be reduced to the ongoing ability to continue to laugh together when Pete explains that he had to beat Betty Grable off with a broomstick. Be lit by lust, enlightened by laughter, settle into loyalty, and if loyalty seems too mired, return to lust by way of laughter. I have had this formula worked out - and repeated it, waggishly, to friends, producing for some reason an ever more one-sided smile on the face of my beautiful wife. Until, not long ago, I realised that there was a flaw in this idea. And that was that I had underestimated the reason that loyalty had such magnetic power, drawing all else towards it. For I had been describing loyalty in marriage as though it were a neutral passive state - a kind of rest state, a final, fixed state at the end of the road of life. And then, against our better wishes, and our own inner version of our marriage vows, at our daughter's insistence we got a dog. And this is what changed my view. "The expense and anxiety of children" indeed. Our daughter's small Havanese dog, Butterscotch, has instructed us on many things, but above all on the energy that being loyal really implies. Dogs teach us many things - but above all they teach us how frisky a state loyalty can be. Dogs, after all - particularly spayed city dogs that have been denied their lusts - have loyalty as an overriding emotion. Ours will wait for hours for one of its family, and then patiently sit right alongside while there is work to be done. Loyalty is what a dog provides. The ancient joke-name for a dog, Fido, is in truth the most perfect of all dog names - I am faithful. I am loyal. I remain. Dogs are there to remind us that loyalty is a jumpy, fizzy emotion. Loyalty leaps up at the door and barks with joy at your return - and then immediately goes to sleep at your side. Simple fidelity is the youngest emotion we possess. So to my wife. She has been complaining for the past few years that I have not yet dedicated a book to her. I have always said that it is because I do not yet know how to express the extent of my feelings. But now I do. "To Martha," I shall write at the beginning of my next book. "Better than a dog, anyhow." She at least, will understand the depth of passion, of lust and laughter and loyalty - of precious, long-married love - that those Darwinian words describe. You can follow the Magazine on and on31 August 2012Last updated at 16:03 GMT A Point Of View: JG Ballard and the alchemy of memory Author JG Ballard was interned in World War II China as a teenager - an experience which formed the basis of his best-selling novel Empire of the Sun. How did the memories of that early trauma influence his fiction, asks philosopher John Gray. Looking for his best friend as a teenager in an apartment block in Shanghai, the writer JG Ballard remembered "suddenly finding that the building was totally empty, and wandering around those empty flats with the furniture still in place, total silence, just the odd window swinging in the wind". Around the same time, while he was roaming around the city's waterfront, Ballard rowed out to the ships, freighters and steamers that had been sunk to form a boom in the harbour. As he recalled in an interview, "I remember walking onto the decks, with water swilling through the staterooms. Given the stability of the society we now live in, this is very difficult to convey." Even more than the time he spent in the Japanese prison camp outside Shanghai, Ballard's experience of a great city from which all signs of normal life had disappeared shaped him for the rest of his life. When asked why it took him so long to write Empire of the Sun, a fictionalised version of his early years that Steven Speilberg turned into a highly successful film, Ballard said, "It took me 20 years to forget, and 20 years to remember." Forgetting Shanghai was part of life for him in post-war Britain, where he arrived with his mother in 1946. At least for a Westerner, Shanghai was an intensely exciting place, with dozens of radio stations, unlimited advertising and extremes of wealth and poverty reflected in an ever-changing media landscape. In some ways the city was an extreme version of the world we now inhabit. The contrast with Britain in the immediate aftermath of WWII was sharp - and in Ballard's eyes, the differences were not always to Britain's advantage. Arriving in Portsmouth, he noticed what appeared to be coal scuttles moving about on the docks, only to realise that the small moving objects were actually motor cars. The pokey British cars, so different from the spacious Cadillacs he used to see cruising around in Shanghai, seemed to him - then and later - to epitomise the cramped and shabby country he had entered. There was a more fundamental reason why Ballard needed to forget Shanghai. His experiences there had been traumatic, and if they revealed to him the flimsiness of everyday existence, it was a revelation that he found hard to live with. He often used to say that human societies are like stage sets, which seem substantial enough until the props are abruptly overturned and the stage is left empty and abandoned. In any longer view, the endemic instability of human institutions is clear, but it is denied by all of those who project an illusion of progress back into history and forwards into the future. Ballard was never tempted to succumb to the comforting fantasy that order in society is slowly increasing, but like any other human being, he needed to find meaning in the incidents of his life. He achieved this by transforming the desolate scenes he had witnessed as a child into the fantastic and lovely images that fill his books. As critics have noted, the same scenery recurs throughout Ballard's writings. Drained swimming pools, low-flying aircraft and eerily deserted hotels and casinos appear in many of his novels and short stories. Some have found Ballard's landscapes repetitive and obsessive, but for me they have enormous power because they invest scenes of desolation with life-affirming meaning and beauty. He hadn't truly forgotten the empty apartments in which as a boy he had searched for his friend. Images of what he had seen remained in his mind, many of them too painful to be allowed into full awareness. But even if they couldn't be directly accessed by him, these memories continued to be active and returned to him again and again through the channel of his fiction. In The Garden of Time, a short story published in 1962, Ballard portrays two aristocrats, Count Axel and his wife, besieged in an exquisite castle garden by an advancing mob. The garden contains crystalline flowers at the tops of whose stems are goblet-shaped blossoms, which when snapped from the stem, drain the garden of time and motion. Each evening the count snaps off one of the time flowers. As he carries the crystal blossom onto the terrace, the menacing rabble retreats and he and his wife are safe for another day. But the stems no longer bear fruit, the flowers are being used up, and the count realises that time could not be stopped forever. When the last flower has been picked and the horde finally reach the castle, the garden contains two stone statues, a man and a woman side by side, looking calmly over the castle grounds, the woman clasping a single, almost transparent flower. While this enchanting fable can be interpreted in a number of ways, I'm inclined to read it as an allegory of the contradictions of memory. If our memories lend a pattern to our lives, they also condemn us to repeat the past - especially when they concern traumatic events. We struggle to rid ourselves of the traces that are left in us by painful episodes in our lives; but these buried images never go away, only shift their shapes. Whether conscious or not, they're constantly mutating and however much we want to banish them, they keep on coming back to us. Like the seething mob advancing on the aristocrats in their castle, our memories threaten the peace of mind we so dearly cherish. We look for a talisman against memory, some magic that can reverse the course of time. But the magic doesn't really work, and if we persist in the struggle to keep our memories at bay we may come to resemble the stone statues in the garden, transfixed and petrified by the past. In Ballard's case the magic was the power of his imagination, and unlike the crystal blossoms of his story it brought him life. Through a kind of inner alchemy, the Shanghai of his childhood became the London of his first major novel The Drowned World, also published in 1962. Irreversibly altered by climate change so that it has become a region of tropical lagoons and advancing jungle, the city is almost unrecognisable, though the weed-choked streets remain intact in the depths of the lagoons and the upper floors of a few crumbling hotels continue to be habitable. Like many of Ballard's characters, the novel's central protagonist - a biologist who shares many of Ballard's own preoccupations with time and memory - doesn't regret the passing of the old world. At the end of the novel he finds fulfilment in the sun-filled wilderness that is swallowing up the past. Memories of Shanghai as he knew it as a child shaped Ballard's writings for the following 20 years, filling them with scenes that seem to exist out of time. In 1984 he published Empire of the Sun and in 1991 The Kindness of Women, novels in which his childhood and later life were re-imagined in terms closer to the actualities of his experience. In 2008, a year before he died, he retold the story more directly in his memoir Miracles of Life. The life he had struggled to forget he was now free to tell from memory. The workings of memory seem contradictory because they obey conflicting human impulses. By preserving our experiences in recollection, we conserve the meaning in our lives. If we couldn't look back, the present would be empty, a recurring moment without significance. We have a picture of ourselves as acting meaningfully only because we can reconstruct our lives as a succession of events linked in recollection. But what we remember isn't a matter of will or choice, and what is retained in the mind can easily become a burden. While we struggle to preserve the past, we can at the same time long to leave it behind. Inwardly Ballard never did leave Shanghai, but in time the fact ceased to trouble him. Through the alchemy of memory, the leaden buildings in which he'd wandered as a boy became the golden vistas of his fiction, and the traumas of his childhood were transmuted into images of fulfilment. (Required) Name (Required) Your E-mail address (Required) Town & Country (Required) Your telephone number (Required) Comments If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.10 May 2013Last updated at 16:05 GMT A Point Of View: Leaving Gormenghast Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels are cult classics of 20th Century English literature. Writer and philosopher John Gray considers what they tell us about the nature of the modern world. (May contain spoilers.) "With every pace he drew away from Gormenghast Mountain, and from everything that belonged to his home." These are the closing words of Titus Alone, the last of three novels recounting the childhood and rebellion of Titus Groan, the 77th Earl of Gormenghast, an enormous, crumbling castle that stands isolated and self-enclosed somewhere on the margins of the world. Governed more by ritual than by the hereditary rulers who have immemorially reigned over it, the castle confines Titus in a life of empty ceremony. At the age of 17, having fought a life-and-death struggle with an enemy he held accountable for the death of his father and sister, Titus rides out of the castle to look for another way of living. Entering a world in many ways not unlike our own, he begins to doubt whether the castle ever existed. He travels back to Gormenghast Mountain where he hears a gun boom seven times - the dawn salvo sounding for him. Yet he doesn't return to the castle or even look at it, but instead turns on his heel and walks away, never to see his home again. Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels - Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone - have been read in many ways. For some of their readers, they re-state the essential message of romanticism - the assertion of the individual against conventional restraints. For others, the novels are a coming-of-age story - the story of how Titus ceases to be a child and becomes a man. Yet others interpret them as belonging to a tradition that includes Tolkien - the author of Lord of the Rings - and some later writers of science fiction. No doubt the novels are all of these, but perhaps they're something else as well. Too original to belong neatly in any genre, and too full of lovely indecipherable images to be read as anything like an allegory, they have no simple message to convey. Yet I think they may have something interesting and subversive to say about what it means to be modern. We like to imagine that the coming of modern times marks a fundamental alteration in human experience. Whenever it began - some say with the decline of medievalism, others with the rise of modern science - our world is shaped by the belief that it's different from anything that existed before. In some ways this is obviously right - we know more than we have ever done, we have more powerful technologies, we're richer and live longer than the majority of human beings have ever done. We're different in another way: we expect much more of the future than anyone did in the past. Until a few hundred years ago, most people believed human history was cyclical - a series of rising and falling civilizations in which what some generations gained, others lost. Today, nearly everyone thinks otherwise. The modern world is founded on the belief that it's possible for human beings to shape a future that's better than anything in the past. If the Gormenghast novels have any continuing theme, it's that this modern belief is an illusion. The trio wasn't meant to be a trilogy. Born in China in 1911 in the hill town of Kuling, where his father worked as a missionary doctor, Peake grew up in Tientsin, a city some 70 miles from Beijing. He lived in a great grey house in the hospital compound of the French concession, playing around the tennis court in what he described as "a world surrounded by a wall". It seems to have been a happy time for him. He loved the house, and it was then that he began to draw. After the family returned to England in 1923 he began work as a painter and draughtsman, spending some idyllic years living in an artists' colony on the island of Sark. After the war he would become the finest illustrator of his time, producing drawings for classic texts such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Bleak House, Treasure Island and Alice in Wonderland. Along the way he produced arresting poetry, including nonsense verse and some moving poems of the Blitz. He planned a fourth novel, Titus Awakes, but advancing illness prevented him making progress with it. After his death in 1968 a version based on Peake's notes was written by his wife, the artist Maeve Gilmore, and published two years ago. The Gormenghast novels contain none of the hobbits or fairy folk dreamt up by writers who invent alternative worlds. The castle's inhabitants are people, situated - or trapped - in a version of the human world. Huddled in a small part of the ancient edifice, with the rest of the vast tenements a deserted labyrinth, they include the ruling family, several castes of servant, a school, a doctor and a poet. On the outer walls, clinging like limpets, are the mud huts of the Bright Carvers - a caste skilled in wood-carving, who also provide a wet nurse for the ruling family. There is no church or priest, and aside from a pervasive reverence for the castle itself, no religion. Gormenghast is the scene of cataclysmic upheavals: the burning of the castle's library, a crime committed by the sisters of the ruling Earl and plotted by the destructively ambitious former kitchen boy Steerpike, the subsequent madness and suicide of the Earl, and a struggle between the Earl's devoted servant and the castle's chef that ends with the chef being killed by the servant, a great flood, and a fight to the finish between Steerpike and Titus. Despite these disruptions the life of the castle goes on. Whatever its inhabitants do, however much they may revolt against it, the castle doesn't change. In the third book, Titus Alone, the world that the title character finds when he leaves the castle, is also a human world - one of incessant change. When the book was first published in 1959, the life it portrayed must have seemed impossibly futuristic. Though it was deeply altered by the war, Britain in the 1950s was a stolidly cohesive society based on old-fashioned industrialism. In sharp contrast, the world that Peake imagines is being continuously transformed by new inventions - little wandering spy globes, seemingly intelligent, follow Titus wherever he goes. It's a world littered with the casualties of unceasing innovation, some of whom take refuge in a subterranean realm beneath the city. It's often been noted that Peake may have drawn on his early years in China for his images of the castle. In a brilliantly realised BBC television series broadcast 13 years ago, the castle is imagined as resembling the Forbidden City in Beijing. But Peake may have also drawn on childhood glimpses of life in Tientsin - a city in which a million Chinese contended with a mix of feudal poverty and brutal modernity - for his depiction of the world Titus enters when he leaves the castle. Like JG Ballard, whose work is full of echoes of his early life in Shanghai, Peake delved into his childhood to produce a prescient vision of the way we live now. The dwellers in the castle may be mesmerised by tradition, but the modern world Titus enters when he leaves the castle is possessed by a dream of the future that's equally unreal. Yet it's the world beyond the castle in which Titus chooses to live, and it's worth asking why. When he turns his back on the ritual-bound castle, it's not because he accepts the modern myth in which the future can be fashioned by human will or intellect. He knows that's as much a dream as the stability of the past, and ultimately as stifling. Peake's Gormenghast novels have been described as examples of fantastic literature. In fact they are creations of wit and fancy, and what they show is that it's the modern age that's based on fantasy. If we know anything, it's that our actions will produce a world that's quite different from anything we can presently foresee or imagine. Leaving Gormenghast means leaving behind childish dreams - whether of the past or the future. Titus knows he can't change the modern world any more than he could change life in the castle. But maybe he can find what life in the castle denied him - a home in the present. You can follow the Magazine on and on12 October 2012Last updated at 17:51 GMT A Point Of View: Making sense of China China's growing importance on the world stage means that the West needs to start speaking its language, says economist Martin Jacques. My son has been learning Mandarin Chinese since he was five; he is now just 14. It has not been easy. Learning Chinese has required a deep pocket and the determination of an Olympic athlete. For nine years, he fed on the scraps of a veritable army of part-time tutors, each one lasting a year or so if we were lucky. The reason? Until 12 months ago it wasn't possible for him to learn it at school - French, Spanish German, Latin, even Ancient Greek, no problem. But not Chinese. Even now, alas, it is very much a second-class subject. His lessons take place during the school lunch break. The reluctance of the educational system - public and private - to grasp the Chinese nettle is a metaphor for a much wider problem: our ignorance about China and our failure to appreciate just how much it will change the world and transform our lives. With unerring regularity, our predictions about China have proved mistaken. Take its economy. In 1980 it was one-20th of the size of the US, today it is half the size and closing rapidly. Throughout that period, the doubting Thomases were always in a large majority. It would not last, sooner or later it would all end in tears. Why have we managed to get China so wrong? The reason is hardly rocket science. We insist on viewing it through a western prism. For the best part of two centuries, Western societies have seen themselves as the model for all others. But China isn't like us. It never has been and never will be. The great task facing the West over the next century will be to make sense of China - not in our terms but in theirs. We have to understand China as it is and as it has been, not project our own history, culture, institutions and values onto it. It will always fail that test. In truth such a mentality tells us more about our own arrogance and lack of curiosity than anything about China. Let's take one example. We assume that the nation-state, that long-standing and remarkably influential European invention, is more or less universal. True, China has called itself a nation-state for about a century. But 100 years is a mere pin-prick for a country that dates back over two millennia. Modern China emerged in 221. By the time of the Han dynasty - still more than 2,000 years ago - China's borders already closely resembled those of eastern and central China today. China is very old, the longest continuously-existing polity in the world. And for more than 2,000 years, it was not a nation-state but a civilisation-state. In essence it still is. Our own sense of who we are, and what we are, is overwhelmingly shaped by our sense of nation, as it is for every Western country. China is different. The things that define for the Chinese who they are and what China is are a product not of the past 100 years of calling itself a nation-state but 2,000 years of being a civilisation-state. China is changing faster than any other society in human history. Yet at the same time it continues to enjoy a unique and extraordinary intimacy with its own history. On my countless visits to China I am always fascinated and intrigued by this paradox. Don't be surprised if a Beijing taxi driver quotes an old sage or two from 3,000 years ago in a conversation about the present. History, even far distant history, is right there in the rear-view mirror. The values associated with Confucius, who lived 2,500 years ago, continue to shape and mould social attitudes such as harmony, stability, order, or the state as a microcosm of the family. It is no accident that the Chinese write the family name first followed by the given name. It reflects the overriding importance of the family in Chinese history. Then there's the ancient roots of Chinese food and indeed Chinese medicine. Civilisation is what defines China. The country has another remarkable characteristic in this context. It is huge, a continent in its own right as well being home to 1.3bn people, one-fifth of the human race. Although we tend to see China as highly centralised, it would be impossible to run a country of such size and immense diversity from Beijing. Its provincial governments have enjoyed great power, with the largest having far more authority than the great majority of the world's nation-states. But what in practice does it mean to be a civilisation-state? The implications are far-reaching. Here's an example. You may remember the handover of Hong Kong by Britain to China in 1997. Under the new constitution, known as the Basic Law, China proposed that Hong Kong would be run on the principle of "one country, two systems". The vast majority of us, I suspect, hadn't got a clue what it meant. I am sure that we overwhelmingly believed that, soon after the handover, Hong Kong would become more or less indistinguishable from the rest of China. Over 15 years later, it is abundantly clear we were wrong. Hong Kong is at least as different - politically and legally - from the rest of China as it was in 1997. The Chinese really did mean one country, two systems. Why didn't we believe them? Because we are a nation-state and think like a nation-state. Take the reunification of Germany in 1990. What happened? The old East Germany disappeared. The new united Germany was the old West Germany writ large. It was the natural solution for a nation-state - one country, one system. But it is impossible to rule a civilization-state of China's scale on that principle. For 2,000 years, China has operated in varying degrees according to the principle one country, many systems. The country could not be held together on any other basis. In this light, it was entirely logical for China to embrace Hong Kong on the basis of one country, two systems. If Taiwan should decide at some point that its future lies with China and that it should accept Chinese sovereignty, I think the Chinese will offer the Taiwanese the same deal - one country, two systems. But they will likely go further and give an undertaking that Taiwan can retain universal suffrage and its present multi-party system. Because what really matters to the Chinese is not the system but the principle of their sovereignty. So, let's now imagine a world in which the dominant power is no longer a nation-state, like the United States and before that Britain, but a civilisation-state. I suggest that over time - and I mean many decades - the world will come to look very different. The European-inspired nation-state system will progressively give way to a more pluralistic world. The rise of China will encourage other countries to think of themselves differently. India is not a civilisation-state in the manner of China, but it too is the product of a great civilisation. Turkey too, and likewise Iran. The decline of the West will undermine the strait jacket of the nation-state. The idea of China as a civilisation-state is the key to many other aspects of China. We cannot understand why - quite remarkably - over 90% of Chinese think of themselves as of the same race without reference to it. Or why the state enjoys such authority and reverence amongst the Chinese even though it lacks a Western-style democracy. If we persist with our present mindset, then don't be surprised if we continue getting China hopelessly wrong. Worse, with the relentless rise of China and the long-term decline of the West, we will find ourselves increasingly unfamiliar with a China-centric world and feel more and more like outsiders. That's exactly what happened to China, to its huge cost, after 1800 with the rise of the West. Despite all the obstacles, my son's Mandarin Chinese is coming along nicely. The task is formidable: you have to learn thousands of characters and a host of entirely unfamiliar sounds. It is estimated that it takes at least twice as long to learn as a European language. The language is a metaphor for China. Understanding the unfamiliar requires a different mentality: rather than superiority, hubris and presumption, which have I think been the dominant Western attitudes towards China, we'll need respect, humility and modesty. Will we respond to the challenge? The stakes could not be higher.8 March 2013Last updated at 17:56 GMT A Point of View: Mary, queen of maths Maths genius Mary Cartwright was a modest soul and one of the early founders of chaos theory. It's time we recognised her massive contribution, says historian Lisa Jardine. In his Mathematician's Apology, published in 1940, the great mathematician GH Hardy argued emphatically that pure mathematics is never useful. Yet at the very moment he was insisting that - specifically - "real mathematics has no effect on war", a mathematical breakthrough was being made which contributed to the wartime defence of Britain against enemy air attack. What is more, that breakthrough laid the groundwork - unrecognised at the time - for an entire new field of science. In January 1938, with the threat of war hanging over Europe, the British Government's Department of Scientific and Industrial Research sent a memorandum to the London Mathematical Society appealing to pure mathematicians to help them solve a problem involving a tricky type of equation. Although this was not stated in the memo, it related to top-secret developments in Radio Detection and Ranging - what was soon to become known as radar. Engineers working on the project were having difficulty with the erratic behaviour of high-frequency radio waves. The need had arisen, the memo said, for "a more complete understanding of the actual behaviour of certain assemblages of electrical apparatus". Could any of the Mathematical Society's members help? The request caught the attention of Dr Mary Cartwright, lecturer in mathematics at Girton College Cambridge. She was already working on similar "very objectionable-looking differential equations" (as she later described them). She brought the request to the attention of her long-term colleague at Trinity College, Professor JE Littlewood and suggested that they combine forces. In a memoir written later in her life, she explained that he already had the necessary experience in dynamics, having worked on the trajectories of anti-aircraft guns during World War I. The distinguished physicist and public intellectual Freeman Dyson - who was born in Britain but has, since the 1950s, spent most of his professional life at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies in America - heard Cartwright lecture on this work when he was a student at Cambridge in 1942. He gives us a vivid account of the importance of the war work Cartwright and Littlewood did: "The whole development of radar in World War Two depended on high power amplifiers, and it was a matter of life and death to have amplifiers that did what they were supposed to do. The soldiers were plagued with amplifiers that misbehaved, and blamed the manufacturers for their erratic behaviour. Cartwright and Littlewood discovered that the manufacturers were not to blame. The equation itself was to blame." In other words, odd things happened when some sorts of values were fed into the standard equation they were using to predict the amplifiers' performance. Cartwright and Littlewood were able to show that as the wavelength of radio waves shortens, their performance ceases to be regular and periodic, and becomes unstable and unpredictable. This work helped explain some perplexing phenomena engineers were encountering. Cartwright herself was always somewhat diffident when asked to assess the lasting importance of her war work. She and Littlewood had provided a scientific explanation for some peculiar features of the behaviour of radio waves, but they did not in the end supply the answer in time. They simply succeeded in directing the engineers' attention away from faulty equipment towards practical ways of compensating for the electrical "noise" - or erratic fluctuations - being produced. So while Cartwright and Littlewood were producing significant results on the stability of solutions to the equation describing the oscillation of radio waves, the engineers working on radar systems decided they could not wait for precise mathematical results. Instead, once it had been identified, they worked around the problem, by keeping the equipment within predictable ranges. Perhaps in part because of her own overly modest assessment of its importance, Cartwright's original work went relatively unnoticed when it was published in the Journal of the London Mathematical Society shortly after the end of the war. Freeman Dyson maintains that this is a classic example of the way in which real mathematical originality and innovation is missed until a generation after the work has been done: "When I heard Cartwright lecture in 1942, I remember being delighted with the beauty of her results. I could see the beauty of her work but I could not see its importance. I said to myself, 'This is a lovely piece of work. Too bad it is only a practical wartime problem and not real mathematics.' I did not say, 'This is the birth of a new field of mathematics.' I shared the tastes and prejudices of my contemporaries." The "new field" Dyson refers to here, which he and his contemporaries failed to recognise, is chaos theory. Cartwright's early contribution to the field is now acknowledged in all histories of the subject, but was largely overlooked for almost 20 years. The results unexpectedly obtained from the equations predicting the oscillations of radio waves are part of the foundation for the modern theory that accounts for the unpredictable behaviour of all manner of physical phenomena, from swinging pendulums and fluid flow, to the stock market. Steadily increase the rate of flow of water into a rotating waterwheel, for example, and the wheel will go correspondingly faster. But at a certain point the behaviour of the wheel becomes unpredictable - speeding up and slowing down without warning, or even changing direction. The recognition that chaotic behaviour is a vital part of many physical systems in the world around us came in 1961, when Edward Lorenz was running a weather simulation through an early computer. When he tested a particular configuration a second time he found that the outcome differed dramatically from his earlier run. Eventually he tracked the difference down to a small alteration he had inadvertently made in transferring the initial data, by altering the number of decimal places. Lorenz immortalised this discovery in a lecture entitled "Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?". Today, when we think of chaos theory we associate it with all kinds of fundamentally unstable situations - but one of the most vivid to imagine is still the idea that one flap of a butterfly's wing deep in the Amazon rainforest is the cause of a weather system thousands of miles away. This is the same kind of unpredictability arising from small changes in initial conditions that Cartwright and Littlewood had recognised and drawn attention to in their work with radio waves several decades earlier. After the war, Mary Cartwright moved away from knotty differential equations and ended her collaboration with Littlewood. She went on to have a distinguished academic career in pure mathematics and academic administration, earning a succession of honours. In 1947 she was the first woman mathematician to be elected to the Royal Society. In 1948 she became Mistress of Girton College Cambridge, then reader in the theory of functions in the Cambridge mathematics department in 1959. From 1961 to 1963 she was president of the London Mathematical Society, and received its highest honour, the de Morgan Medal, in 1968. She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1969. She lived long enough to see the field in which she had made those early, important discoveries become a major part of modern mathematics, and to see it take its place in the popular imagination. She was, however, characteristically modest to the end about the part she had played. Freeman Dyson claims that Littlewood did not understand the importance of the work that he and Cartwright had done: "Only Cartwright understood the importance of her work as the foundation of chaos theory, and she is not a person who likes to blow her own trumpet." He records, however, that shortly before her death, he received an indignant letter from Cartwright, scolding him for crediting her with more than she deserved. Dame Mary Cartwright died in 1998 at the age of 97. In one of the many obituaries paying tribute to her, a friend and colleague described her as "a person who combined distinction of achievement with a notable lack of self-importance". She left strict instructions that there were to be no eulogies at her memorial service. However, March 8 was International Women's Day, so it feels like a particularly appropriate time to blow Dame Mary Cartwright's trumpet on her behalf - for her brilliance as a mathematician, and as one of the founders of the important field of chaos theory. You can follow the Magazine on and on28 September 2012Last updated at 16:32 GMT A Point Of View: Mouthing off Modern society is on the hunt for better teeth, but what is it that makes our pearly whites so alluring, asks Sarah Dunant. As southern Europe cools down after its sizzling summer, the streets of Florence where I work part of the year have started to buzz with new arrivals out of the West: young men and women - though girls always outnumber the boys - on semester from American universities, eager to experience the city's artistic past and its nightlife present. The girls tend to travel in chattering packs. They stand taller than most Florentines, with long, sleek hair and wide generous mouths, moulded by years of orthodontic work to showcase the most dazzling smiles: teeth as white as sets of shining marble tombstones. For moneyed Americans, perfect dentistry is a matter of course. When they venture out to local markets or mix with the older Florentines in bars or cafes I suspect they are taken aback by how other people's mouths don't come up to their standard. Probably they don't register how we (I include myself - for my teeth are a more European affair) - stare at them in similar disbelief. It's partly that we outnumber them. Not only in the present. The artistic revolution that marked Florence as the cauldron of the Renaissance covered its walls with vibrant images of its citizens; an unprecedented commentary of life and looks 500 years ago. Inside the excuse of Biblical stories you meet all manner of Florentines, young, old, important, unknown, rich, poor, beautiful and ugly. But when it comes to open-mouthed smiles there are almost none on display. The acme of female beauty around this time was golden hair, dark eyes, lily-white skin and rose or pomegranate lips. Teeth if mentioned are tiny pearls glimpsed under the upper lip. The most reproduced woman of Western art, Mary, mother of God, never really opens her mouth at all, even when a miracle is happening. In Renaissance art, the annunciation - a moment where some joy might seem in order - is actually a study of a woman's complex emotional, spiritual journey: fear, incomprehension, wonder and quiet acceptance. To crack a big smile would be - well - too forward. In portraits of ordinary men and women, smiles are equally rare. Being recorded for posterity was a serious business. We could do a whole point of view on Mona Lisa's teasing little pout (Giorgio Vasari, 50 years later and not always reliable, writes that Da Vinci, while he was painting her "employed singers and musicians to keep her full of merriment".) More telling perhaps are the Venuses that follow her. After Botticelli come an army of bathing, sleeping, lounging beauties covered only by their hair and then not even by that. Titian's famous Venus of Urbino, is brash enough to stare directly out from the canvas making eye contact - clearly modesty had its limits. Her lips however stay compressed. I know what you're thinking. Tooth decay. Bad breath. They don't show their teeth in the past, because they all went black and fell out early. Well, certainly there is some truth in that. Recipes for preserving and whitening teeth are everywhere, everyone from Hildegard of Bingen to Nostradamus - fennel, lovage, mint, rubbing with salt and sage, rinsing with alcohol, all have recognisable elements of modern mouth hygiene, though pulverising crystal, marble, glass, cuttlefish bone, fragmented pearls and riverbed stones into a paste makes one doubt Nostradamus' accuracy in others area of prediction. The first recognisable manufactured toothbrush arrives in Europe in the late 18th century, and proper toothpaste only really gets going after the Second World War. But before we get too smug about modernity, we should factor in that it was the arrival of sugar as part of everyday diet that really accelerated rot. Forget whiteness and start contemplating the exquisite agony of toothache. History again was on our side. The first ever public surgery using anaesthetic took place in 1846 in Boston general hospital (in a theatre now known as the ether dome). The procedure? The removal of a tumour in the neck. The surgeon: a dentist. Back for a moment to those mouths of the past. Because that coyness when it comes to teeth - certainly female - is rich in subtext. The image of toothy open mouths - smiling or not - denote something - well something more predatory and sexual. Let me be elliptically crude for a moment. Think Chaucer's wife of Bath: large hips, scarlet stockings, a string of husbands and - very important - gap teeth: a sure sign to other pilgrims of possible lasciviousness. Then there is that most dangerous of all women in mythology, Medusa. So horribly lovely - wild writhing snakes for hair - that she can only be safely viewed - and slaughtered - by reflection. Images of Medusa's decapitated head - from classical Greek through the great masters are unmissable: gaping mouth, teeth bared in violent fury. Think Vampires - always most alluring in the body of lovely young women eager to test their canines on a male neck. Or the even more potent myth of vagina dentata - I trust you can manage that translation - the ultimate male nightmare which so continues to fascinate and appal that only few years ago it surfaced again in a rather splendid independent American movie - half comedy, half horror. And finally imagine, if you will, those images of Monica Lewinsky that sped around the world: the young eager intern, flowing dark locks and wide generous mouth rising up from the crowd to greet the President of America, a man she would be happy to serve in whatever way she could. Whether we are discussing the past or the present, the open smiling female mouth, carries with it definite psychosexual power. How even more fascinating then to remember that perfect American teeth arrived during what masquerades as the chirpiest, cleanest decade of all - the 1950's. What provoked it? Well, certainly Americans were brushing more - GI's brought the institutionalised habit back from the army. But it's more than that. There is also the rise and rise of the Kodak camera (say "cheese") and arrival of Technicolor. Think of the change from black and white dustbowl images of American men and women, blackened teeth and blank eyes staring into no future to that cinematic Doris Day smile, or more precisely the all American girl Mitzi Gaynor "washing that man right out of her hair" amid the technically enhanced colours of South Pacific, and you have a cultural shift as dazzling as the teeth that proclaimed it. Post-war American optimism: the house, the car, the kids, the wife and the teeth to match the fridge doors behind her. Here in Britain, with dentistry hanging on the tails of the NHS it was all a bit more hit and miss. Many baby boomers had some brush (I refuse to apologise for the word) with orthodontics. A fair number - like me - were born with what seemed to be too many teeth for their mouths. (While I don't want to bring Richard Dawkins into this - because he does get everywhere - I do find the evolutionary pace of change when it comes to teeth a bit of a disappointment. I mean it's been millennia since we regularly gnawed at the bones of bison. Surely things should have gone a bit faster). I had four teeth extracted and a brace which, alas, didn't really do the job. Two generations on, ideas and technology have started to shift. Now rather than simply getting rid of the teeth you can widen the jaw. Millimetre by uncomfortable millimetre. We are edging ever closer to the American smile, though given the price it is not for everyone. Many would argue our mouths are already a lost cause: You can wear out shoe leather in some parts of the country before finding a dentist willing to take on NHS patients. In the years before the economic downturn thousands of dentists went private claiming that there was no financial incentive to do what they saw as necessary work. Latest statistics show the recession has hit private dentistry worse that the NHS, but patient figures are down in both and with diet often linked to income and a rapidly aging population the omens are not good. But if the opposite - the thought of an army of wide-mouthed shining teeth - alarms you more, then there is hope. You have probably yet to hear of "Yaeba". It means "double tooth" in Japanese and the Yaeba look - the choice of number of Japanese fashionista teenage girls - involves cosmetically altering their canine teeth to make them appear more crooked - like the overcrowded look of a young mouth before expensive orthodontics gets to work. I await the arrival of this in my local Florence bar with interest. Until then my lips are sealed. Rather like all those older Florentines on the walls around me.14 December 2012Last updated at 17:29 GMT A Point of View: Nostalgia - it's not like it used to be The ease with which we can now assemble a digital archive of our lives and times means younger people are far more nostalgic about their loves, losses and travels, says Will Self. Into my sixth decade now, I find that the present interests me less and less. Of course, the future continues to preoccupy me as a reliable source of hopes, fears and anxieties, but increasingly the present seems to have no outstanding qualities of its own, being merely a way-station through which events travel to the vast shadow lands of the past. I get up in the morning, and as I shave I listen to the radio. The news is often bad - people are suffering, here, there and everywhere - and as I soap and scrape I feel immediate compassion. Then I dress and go downstairs. While the kettle boils I hear the exact same news repeated, and my attention begins to waver. There's a temptation to think that this is simply a function of the - relatively speaking - calm life I live, that having stepped aside from the march of time, I can no longer hear the tramp of its boots. However, it wasn't always like this. Like everyone else, I suppose, there was a period in my life when now was of paramount importance - if we take "now" to be a wobbly phenomenon, something like a raindrop, encompassing the moment as well as immersing consciousness, and reflecting each to the other as it plummets into the future. Inside the now all was scintillatingly significant, hip and happening, while the un-become future was void of everything except for one or two events I was looking forward to, or away from. As for the past, well, it was black and white, jerky, frumpy and lifeless - gelid, certainly, but altogether uncool. Unless, it was coloured by my own vivid memories. I think I now understand why it is that the young are so very nostalgic. They have so little by way of personal history that they polish it up and make it shine like a treasured heirloom. For those of us who have months, years and even entire decades mouldering in the attics of our memories, nostalgia seems a curiously boastful kind of hoarding. So you had a love affair, or moved abroad, you got ill, or had a parent die - well, so did I, so did I - and more than once. No, it's not nostalgia I feel for the past, but a continuous engagement with it. I walk the streets and the crowds streaming past me seem to move at increasing speed, their overheard voices have the high pitch and squeaky intonation of helium breathers. And their clothing is time-tailored. As I watch, trouser legs flare, pleat and turn up, hair spikes up, waves and then wilts, patterns simmer into being before fading to grey. It's not, I stress, that I feel no involvement with the present, or compassion for its inhabitants. It's just that it's become a slightly foreign country to me. They do things differently there, for sure, but while I may study the phrasebook and buy a few local handicrafts, I don't invest too much in the place, because unlike the natives I'm aware that we will all, without exception, soon be moving on. It would seem that I, who never could make much sense of physics when I was at school, have now gained a strong sense of Einsteinian space-time. I am free of the nimbyism of now, and feel a strong kinship with both the dead and the unborn. I've characterised the middle-aged as free from the nostalgia of youth, but I suspect that this, paradoxically, is an aspect of the zeitgeist. Certainly, for time out of mind an obsessive dwelling on happier former days has been synonymous with getting older, while it was the juvenescent who rushed with open arms to embrace the future. I wonder if my own generation - the baby-boomers born between 1945 and 1961 - haven't both changed and been changed by the new digital means of the past's production. Before the late 19th Century, the manufacture of memory was a laborious business, requiring cumbersome mechanical processes and even craft. Offset printing, followed by the mass dissemination of photographic images allowed the generality of people - who heretofore had been denied a record of the times - to line their shelves with them. Throughout the 20th Century, the preservation of individuals' memories became cheaper and so more ubiquitous, but it wasn't until the last decade that the seamless interconnection of mobile recording devices with the world wide web allowed for the retention of the past almost in its entirety. It is well over a decade now since the philosopher Jean Baudrillard began arguing that reality itself had been fundamentally altered by a highly mediatised world - indeed, that there was no objective reality anymore, only a reproducible simulacrum, the nature of which is determined by large-scale corporations and their allied governments. But the world of photo-messaging and Facebook, of YouTube and Google, is not one defined by the manipulation of the masses alone - rather, it is conjured up by the digitations of the great mass of individuals. Perhaps the reason I feel quite so liberated from the present while more and more attached, not to individually-recalled "good old days", but to a collectively attested and ever-present past, is because the hard drive of my computer is overloaded with digital images of the places I've been and the people I've met, all of them time-coded to a 10th of a second. There are also audio files of conversations I've had, and an email trail leading back to 1996 comprised of many, many thousands of ephemeral traces. In this brave old world, I can employ a few keystrokes and so correlate my personal recollection of what was happening on that day, at that very hour, with public events in Birmingham, Bratislava or Beijing. Because of this, it seems to me that in the past decade or so, the half-life of our memories has become artificially extended. Instead of curling photographs and yellowing newspapers, we are possessed of a shiny and permanent now, one we flit-click about and so delude ourselves as to our own eternal youth - until, that is, we look down at the wrinkled and liver-spotted hands that rest on the keyboard. How perverse, therefore, that the contemporary news media keeps to an entirely different beat, an ever-accelerating tempo. The news cycle has been 24-hour since the early 1980s, but the number of updates within each of those hours has steadily grown. Now the letters of the threads that run continuously beneath the live reporting look to me like the cogs of a virtual flywheel, one that spins ever faster as it tries to provide our inertial present with motive force. More events, more comments on those events, still more events provoked by those comments, and in turn, comments on those comment-induced events. The actual is sliced, diced and winched forward, only to tumble off time's assembly-line into the great slag-heap of now. In recent years we've seen a slow food movement emerge - its aim, the portioning-off of what we eat from the remorseless chomping away at the environment by big food producers and retailers. And we've also witnessed the rebirth of slow travel, as people take to their feet and rediscover their own locales, rather than being whipped airborne and girdling the Earth. It may well be that what our society also requires is some kind of slow news, a manner of reporting present events that will at once acknowledge the novel situation, and also redress the balance between the ancient history before the web and a monstrous - and babyish - present. Such a slow news might bear witness, even as events occur, to the fact of there being recurrences. It might properly contextualise our institutional scandals and individual humiliations within a longer view. In the current enduring now, great tragedies and TV talent shows have a tendency to be breathlessly equated, but a slow news might take a long and deep breath before pronouncing with Solomon-like gravity on matters that, soon enough, will be exposed as utterly inconsequent. You can follow the Magazine on and on23 November 2012Last updated at 16:52 GMT A Point of View: Pompeii's not-so-ancient Roman remains Is Pompeii an ancient or a modern wonder? Its ruins have been rebuilt and the bodies of the volcano's victims are plaster casts, says classical historian Mary Beard. Last weekend I spent a couple of hours with the remains of one of the human victims of the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79. The corpse is apparently well preserved: a young woman, lying face down, shielding her face with her hands at the moment of death. Her dress has risen up and is tangled around her waist, her bare legs exposed beneath. She is currently on display at the J Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, as that explores the ways that modern artists - from Francesco Piranesi to Anthony Gormley - have responded to history's most famous volcanic eruption. "Welcome to Pompeii," she is meant to say. "The city of the dead". I was curious to find out what visitors to the exhibition made of her. So I lurked and listened. The kids were the most forthcoming. Many of them rushed up to her, then uttered some variant of "Oooh, uggh! Is that a real Roman?" Their mums and dads tended to improvise one of two fairly predictable responses: In an odd way, both those answers turn out to be right. Ghoulish as they are, for most of us (me included), these bodies are always one of the highlights of any display of the discoveries from Pompeii (and a group of them will be starring in ). They number in the hundreds altogether, each one a casualty of the eruption. And they are not just human victims either. One of the most famous is the remains of a dog, still tied up, straining at its leash, in a futile attempt to make a run for it. The truth is, though, that they are not actually bodies at all. They are the product of a clever bit of archaeological ingenuity, going back to the 1860s. The early excavators had noticed, as they dug through the volcanic debris that covered Pompeii, a series of distinctive cavities in the lava, sometimes containing human bones. The reason for that soon became clear. The material from the volcano had covered the bodies of the dead, setting hard and solid around them. As the flesh, internal organs and clothing gradually decomposed, a void was left - which was an exact negative imprint of the shape of the corpse at the point of death. It wasn't long before one bright spark saw that if you poured plaster of Paris into that void, you got a plaster cast that was an exact replica of the body, but only a replica - more an "anti-body" than a real body. And not just that - once the cast had been made, it could be used in turn to make more and more copies of the same person, rather like post-mortem cloning. In fact, at the very moment that one version of the young woman is greeting visitors to the Getty Museum in Malibu, an identical version has pride of place in another Pompeii exhibition in Denver, Colorado - different casts and recasts of the same void made by the same dead human being 2,000 years ago (and 5,000 miles away). Bodies or anti-bodies, the re-creation of these ancient Romans in plaster caused a tremendous stir when it was first done in the mid-19th Century. Family groups seemed to be brought back almost to life. Only the hardest of hearts remained unmoved at the sight of these doomed plaster people clinging to each other as catastrophe approached, mothers cradling their children, husbands embracing wives. The clothes they were wearing also came as a shock. It was still generally believed in the 1860s that ancient Roman dress had been a skimpy affair, not merely suitable for warm Mediterranean climes, but flirtatiously flimsy and revealing too. That idea faded almost instantly when the casts revealed that the victims were heavily clad, wrapped in cloaks and thick dresses, heads covered and some of them even in trousers. (Although I have never quite understood why those 19th Century historians were so certain that the garments people chose to wear in the middle of a volcanic eruption were a good guide to their usual day-to-day attire.) But there are much wider issues at play than ancient Roman dress sense. For a start, these strangely ambivalent objects bring us face to face with our own voyeurism. Why does it seem OK for us to gawp at these disaster victims, when it would be decidedly not OK to gawp at the death agonies of victims of a modern train crash or terror attack? Is it because, as some parents at the Getty suggested to their kids, they are just so ancient that they don't matter to us in the same way? As if in becoming archaeological specimens they lost their right to human privacy? Or is it the simple fact that these are not Roman bodies that gives us licence to peer? Surely, we don't imagine that a lump of 19th Century plaster poured into a void in the lava has any "right to privacy" - still less (as in the Getty example) a 20th Century copy of a 19th Century lump of plaster. As the other parents had it, they're "just models". For me, though, these plaster victims prompt other thoughts too - about the city of Pompeii as a whole, and what it stands for. Partly that's because they are so eloquently trapped in that no man's land between the living and the dead, captured at the very moment when they lost their struggle against the fumes and lava. Which is a bit like the city too. Is it really a vast tomb? Or is Pompeii a place where we can go to step back in time into the lives of the ancient Romans? When they're not in disaster-movie mode, modern visitors like to think of its living side, with Roman bread still in the Roman oven and the trundling Roman carts - or the seedy encounters in the Roman brothel - only a glimpse away. Not so tourists 200 years ago, who found it the ideal place to reflect on their own mortality. It was the novelist Sir Walter Scott, visiting the site shortly before his death, who first described Pompeii as the "city of the dead" - words he muttered constantly as he was carried round the excavations in a sedan chair. But more than anything, it's the combination of the ancient and the modern - the 19th Century plaster combined with the fleeting traces of those real dead Romans - that stands so well for Pompeii itself. Of course, there's no question that it is the best-preserved ancient town anywhere in the world, one of the very few places in the world where you can actually walk the Roman streets. But an awful lot of what you see there was built - or rebuilt - in the 20th Century. Keen as they were to reflect on the transience of human existence, early visitors to the site were often decidedly disappointed with the place. It was, frankly, a wreck. It looked, as one disgruntled tourist observed, as if it had been destroyed in enemy action. Well, of course it looked like that. It had been devastated by a violent volcanic eruption. It wasn't until the houses began to be rebuilt and reroofed around 1900 that Pompeii became something like the ancient city we now visit - until, that is, the site was heavily bombarded by the Allies in World War II (in what really was enemy action, with more than 160 bombs dropped on the place). Parts of what we now see are a rebuild of a rebuild. I'm not accusing anyone of "faking it". My point is that our Pompeii - like most classical sites, in fact - is the product of collaboration between modern rebuilders and conservators, and the original Roman builders themselves, with the lion's share of the work on our side. And it's no less impressive or moving for that - as the body casts help to show. One of the video clips played in the exhibition at the Getty Museum comes from Roberto Rossellini's film, Voyage in Italy, in which the lead couple, played by Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders, tour the country as their marriage disintegrates. On their visit to Pompeii they watch the plaster being poured into a cavity left by two of the victims. In the movie's most haunting scene, these victims emerge as a couple tenderly embracing in their final moments - and a silent indictment of the hollowness of the relationship between Bergman and Sanders. It might only be modern plaster poured into an ancient hole, but it still has emotional power, as the kids and their parents were finding, in their own ways, last weekend. You can follow the Magazine on and on27 September 2013Last updated at 16:23 GMT A Point of View: Putting a price on love Our loved ones are worth more to us than gold - but do we understand love's true value, asks AL Kennedy. We're told it's a good thing, a many splendoured thing, all around and what the world needs now. Love. Just four letters to name something commonplace and yet unfathomable. It fascinates us, apparently. Our media earn their keep by telling us Miranda supports Orlando and Prince Felix has just married Princess Claire and Downton Abbey has a new romance (and me and popular culture, we're like chalk and fire engines) but even I've noticed, love sells. Just as light beguiles physicists by behaving like both a wave and a particle, love beguiles us by being a verb and a noun, behaving like a gift and an amputation, an impregnable defence and the destruction of every safe place we've ever known. As someone who often says "I think" and almost never says "I feel", I don't personally welcome love's ability to make me fear not only for myself, but others. My loves. A few days ago, . While touching on the challenge of making modern, savvy readers satisfactorily terrified, he expressed the belief that people can still be reliably scared by a narrative threatening characters they've come to love. He said: "Love creates horror." I can only agree. In my 47 years of being alive, love has been, like light, a sustaining energy. Yet the more I know about it the less I understand, the more it consoles me the more it threatens, the more I try to love well the more plainly I fail. I become, as we might say, dazzled in the light. Access - that's the problem, or one of them. Love opens the way for itself deep into our bones. And it doesn't close the door behind it. Love not only heightens the perils besetting a novel's protagonists, it makes us newly sensitive to all reality's possible risks. I don't mind much if a figment of someone else's imagination is swept away, or to be honest if Liam has moved on really quickly after leaving Miley. But I may mind very much if someone I love is in trouble, or wanders off. And I may prove remarkably susceptible to buying a new brand of toothpaste if it might make me more loveable, or taking out insurance that shows I care for my relatives, or obtaining a well-nourished cat, a car, a chocolate bar that will somehow replace an inconveniently autonomous lover with dependable sweetness and purring. Whether we grow up loving them, or meet them later, we don't want to lose the people we love. Once they're in our lives, we'd like them to stay, not least because then we can know if they're OK. More than that, we hope they'll be well and happy and flourish in all the best ways and our expectations of reality can become unreasonably demanding on their behalf. They have an access to us which makes us use words like soul and heart and forever and then run out of words entirely and move on to proving how beautiful we find them in ways that might seem foolish if they weren't also private. Using "soul" and "heart" and "forever" to sell me a haircut or a manifesto, feels like an intrusion on my privacy. And I am inherently suspicious of people who make public use of love, whether they're leading round an appetising boyfriend like a prizewinning Swaledale ram, or insisting that I love my country without giving me enough information to establish what that means. Love made public can seem cheap, manipulative, not love at all. We value what we love and it feels unpleasant when others appropriate that value and attach it to products, or ways of thinking. And I find love does bring horror at a personal level - the vulnerable joys it offers, panic me right to my shoes but even so, I do think there's a place for love in the public domain. Love does make me easy to influence. I could momentarily ponder having plastic surgery in order to impress my beloved, or buying a sofa to match his eyes - but love also brings immutable values. It immediately reminds me that I wouldn't, and don't, love a man who'd insist I have buttock fat injected into my crumpling lips, or that I redesign my interior in any sense. Love is about loving a person for who they already are. Love makes us altruistic, humane. We would find it bizarre if a parent was more worried about dropping a vase than dropping their baby - even a Ming vase and an ugly baby. An absence of love within a family or a relationship is taken as a sign of something having gone very wrong. But an absence of love in the world we help construct around us - that's regarded as a form of common sense. We are used to making decisions, or having them made for us, which would save the vase and not the baby. We tell each other there's no room for sentiment. In seeking to establish, acquire and maintain what's valuable to us, we can ignore the usefulness of affection in determining value and employ numerical and financial calculations of worth. So when, say, the performance of rubber O rings on the space shuttles was analysed, statistical warning signs were addressed on paper but a pressing danger was allowed to remain in the real world. And at low temperature an O ring failed (predictably) on the Challenger and seven human beings died in what became a burning coffin, far from home. Not enough people in the right places remembered that caring about people more than figures would be essential until it was too late. We could say an absence of love means a school may coach children to pass a set percentage of tests, rather than helping them learn how to live. An ageing population becomes a burden, a problem to be tucked away and not prioritised - but our own older relatives, friends? We would usually do anything, spend anything, to let them be healthier, stay longer, keep holding our hands. The phone I cling to so I can express my little slivers of devotion is full of conflict minerals from the Congo. I didn't know when I bought it that its manufacturer takes decisions that don't seem to value, to love, human life. So I currently love my love using something that harmed or destroyed the loves of others who were deemed to be less precious than tantalum, tungsten, tin, gold. I love you more than gold. It would be a corny thing to say, sounds extreme, but would you genuinely want to stay around someone who didn't love you more than gold? Would you really replace those you love, their long-term well-being, their happiness, for any amount of gold? For any amount of anything? It's unlikely. And I say that as the most unromantic, cynical person you'll hear, truly. It's just that, like most of us, I do know - if I pause for a moment - that values aren't about price. We would find it odd, if not insulting, if we cooked someone a meal at home and they insisted on paying us for service and ingredients. We would give a grieving friend our time, not a cheque for the equivalent hours at a standard rate, or a copy of our mission statement. We wouldn't leave our partner a heavy tip after an especially lovely night. Love really can be like light. It lets us see each other and what matters. Dying declarations, last messages, when we know we don't have long, we tend to use all that's left of ourselves to name our loves, send them our souls, our hearts, our forevers. We do what matters. And, yes, love scares me and I'm bad at it, but trying to love better, preferably before I'm dying, makes me better too, reminds me of what matters. Love is the best measure in every case. In our wider lives, it's something upon which I feel we might insist - if not for ourselves, then for all of those we love. You can follow the Magazine on and on25 January 2013Last updated at 17:12 GMT A Point of View: Roll up for the inauguration The US presidential inauguration is a unique political spectacle, says historian David Cannadine. Whenever possible, I like to be in the United States to witness the patriotic festivities and political theatre that once again took place in Washington DC last Monday, for they are an extraordinary amalgam of national celebration and religious fervour, piety and partying, glitz and glory, showbiz and razzle-dazzle. Nowhere else in the world is there anything quite like an American presidential inauguration, and the fact they've happened once every four years for more than two and a quarter centuries is also unique. In their fundamentals, the pomp and the ceremonial are essentially unchanging, and all of them since Bill Clinton's second inaugural in 1997 have been available live on the internet, which means it's possible to follow this quintessentially American spectacle as it happens from virtually anywhere in the world. But no two presidential inaugurations are ever completely alike, even if they involve the same president, and to catch the special mood and the immediate resonances, you ideally need to be somewhere in the US when and as they happen. This time, a delayed flight from Britain meant I viewed President Obama's second inauguration on a small screen, high above the snow and clouds, somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. Bad winter weather almost invariably leads to the cancellation of many flights to and from Britain, but while temperatures can often be sub-zero in Washington DC at this time of year, the cold and the snow have never been so severe that a presidential inauguration has yet been called off. On occasions, though, the programme has been modified to take account of the icy conditions, and the swearing-in has sometimes been held inside the Capitol building rather than outside - in 1909, when William Howard Taft took the oath of office, and again in 1985 when President Reagan was inaugurated for the second time. Ronald Reagan is still the oldest American president to hold office, and he'd been lucky to have survived an assassination attempt early in his first term, so there was good reason to be concerned about his health on a colder than average Washington winter day. And there was one earlier unhappy episode, dating from 1841, which no one on Reagan's staff wanted to become a precedent. That year, President William Henry Harrison delivered an inaugural address of more than 8,000 words, which lasted almost two hours, and he refused to wear a coat or a hat. As a result of such prolonged exposure to the bitter cold, Harrison promptly caught pneumonia, and died a month later, thereby achieving the double and ironic distinction of the longest inaugural address, and the shortest American presidency. Fortunately, most inaugurals have been more concise, the briefest of them all being George Washington's second, which was only 135 words long. On Monday, Barack Obama spoke for 18 minutes, which is about average for recent addresses. He took the oath of office on two bibles which had been owned by two of his heroes, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. was less euphoric and exultant than his first inaugural, and after four years of bruising battles with a gridlocked Congress, he had toned down his high-minded appeals to put an end to partisan bickering and the old style of politics, and for those belonging to both parties to come together in the national interest. But it was a confident and eloquent performance from a president who, for the moment at least, seems not only to have been re-elected, but also to have recaptured the political initiative. There was still plenty for his supporters to cheer. In general, second inaugural addresses tend to be very different in tone and substance from those delivered by incoming presidents four years earlier. A new administration means new people in Washington, new policies to get the country moving again, a new beginning and the hope of national revival. Such, at least, are the claims often made in first inaugurals, and sometimes at least, they turn out to be true. In 1861, facing the prospect of civil war, , and appealed (vainly as it turned out), to what he memorably called "the better angels of our nature". In 1933, during the darkest days of the Great Depression, , and offered a "new deal" to the American people, promising a period of bold, vigorous and continuous experimentation, which he hoped would reduce unemployment and get American workers back into jobs. Second inaugurals, by contrast, are often less upbeat and uplifting, since it's no longer possible for a president, having already been four years in office, to offer a new deal, or to proclaim, as , that "change is coming to America". One alternative is to play it safe - to say, as both Reagan and Clinton did, that the national revival they promised had indeed begun during their first term, and that they would devote their second term to seeing it through. But other presidents have been more rash. that his administration would "answer to God, to history and to our conscience for the way in which we use these years", which was giving a serious hostage to fortune, for the impending Watergate scandal meant there would soon be plenty of answering to be done. And that the US would work to expand "freedom in all the world", a laudable enterprise, no doubt, but one which, at least in Iraq and Afghanistan, has met with questionable success while costing a great deal in American lives and money. Among second inaugural addresses, the greatest remains , which was made all the more poignant because he was assassinated soon after. By then, the Civil War was almost over, and Lincoln had preserved the union, emancipated the slaves and given the Gettysburg address, which included his great panegyric on democracy as "government of the people, by the people, for the people". But now he had to try to pull the nation together, speaking "with malice towards none and with charity for all", "with high hope for the future", and expressing his resolve to "finish the work we are in". And so he pledged himself "to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, [and] to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace". By comparison with the challenges that Lincoln faced in 1865, the problems confronting Obama may seem of secondary significance. The American people may be divided, but the president doesn't have to bring the American nation back from the very brink of disintegration and dissolution, as Lincoln did. Yet the challenges Obama faces can scarcely be dismissed as trivial - a still-depressed economy, a spiralling national debt, millions of illegal immigrants, climate change, global warming and gun control, and the seemingly intractable problems in Afghanistan, the Middle East and now in north Africa too. Lincoln's concerns were primarily domestic and political, but Obama's are economic and global as well. For one brief day, a presidential inauguration may be a celebration of freedom, democracy and of national unity, and in calling upon Americans to "seize the moment", Obama gave an assertive articulation of the liberal agenda he hopes to implement. But the Republican opposition is already gathering force, and as he begins his second term, the president may soon be wondering where are to be found those "better angels of our nature" when you really need them? You can follow the Magazine on and on30 August 2013Last updated at 17:30 GMT A Point of View: Should countries be more like families? Democracies must learn to compromise to ensure their survival, says Roger Scruton. Many writers have warned against the tyranny of the majority. Majority opinion may be wrong. Majority desires may be wicked. Majority strength may be dangerous. There is someone more important than the crowd, which is the person who disagrees with it. We must protect that person, for he's the one who can raise the question that no crowd wants to listen to, which is the question whether it is in the right. Until opposition is protected, therefore, there is no door through which reason can enter the affairs of government. But how is opposition protected? What makes it possible for people to agree to disagree? In families, people often get together to discuss matters of shared concern. There will be many opinions, conflicting counsels and even factions. But in a happy family everyone will accept to be bound by the final decision, even if they disagree with it. They have a shared investment in staying together. Something is more important to all of them than their own opinion, and that is the family, the thing whose welfare and future they have come together to discuss. To put it in another way, the family is part of their identity. It is the thing that does not change, as their several opinions alter and conflict. A shared identity takes the sting from disagreement. It is what makes opposition, and therefore rational discussion, possible. And it is the foundation of any way of life in which compromise, rather than dictatorship, is the norm. The same is true in politics. Opposition, the free expression of dissent and the rule of compromise all presuppose a shared identity. There has to be a first-person plural, a "we", if the many individuals are to stay together, accepting each other's opinions and desires, regardless of disagreements. Religion provides such a first-person plural. I might define myself as a Christian or a Muslim, and that might be sufficient to bind me to my fellow believers, even when we disagree on matters of day-to-day government. But, , that kind of first-person plural does not sit easily with democratic politics. In particular it does not accept the most fundamental disagreement within the state, between the faithful who accept the ruling doctrine and the heretics who don't. Besides, modern systems of law are defined by territory and not by doctrine. In Egypt it is the law of Egypt that you are bound to obey, not the law of Turkey or Greece. Hence the need for a national rather than a religious "we". A nation state is the by-product of human neighbourliness, shaped by an invisible hand from the countless agreements between people who speak the same language and live side by side. It results from compromises established after many conflicts, and expresses the slowly forming agreement among neighbours both to grant each other space and to protect that space as common territory. It depends on localised customs and a shared routine of tolerance. Its law is territorial rather than religious and invokes no source of authority higher than the intangible assets that its people share. All those features are strengths, since they feed into an adaptable form of pre-political commitment. Unless and until people identify themselves with the country, its territory and its cultural inheritance - in something like the way people identify themselves with a family - the politics of compromise will not emerge. People have to take their neighbours seriously, as fellow citizens with an equal claim to protection, for whom they might be required, in moments of crisis, to lay down their lives. They do this because they believe themselves to belong together in a shared home. The history of the world is proof of this. Wherever people identify themselves in terms that are not shared by their neighbours, then the state falls apart at the first serious blow - as has happened in the former Yugoslavia, in Syria and Lebanon, and in Nigeria today. In the wake of World War II the political elite in the defeated countries became sceptical towards the nation state. The European Union arose from the belief that the European wars had been caused by national sentiment, and that what is needed is a new, trans-national form of government to unite people around their shared interest in peaceful coexistence. Unfortunately people don't identify themselves in that way. There is no first-person plural of which the European institutions are the political expression. The union is founded in a treaty, and treaties derive their authority from the entities that sign them. Those entities are the nation states of Europe, from which the loyalties of the European people derive. The union, which has set out to transcend such loyalties, therefore suffers from a permanent crisis of legitimacy. Last week I suggested that the desire of the Muslim Brotherhood to govern Egypt by Islamic law poses a danger to the secular state. A politics of compromise is possible only if law can change to reflect the changing needs of society. And laws laid down by God have the eternal and changeless character of their author. But the same defect attends laws laid down by a treaty. Treaties are dead hands, which should be laid upon a country only for specific and essential purposes, and never as a way of governing it. Here is an example of what I mean. When the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957 it included a clause permitting the free movement of capital and labour between the signatories. At the time incomes and opportunities were roughly similar across the small number of states who signed. Now things are very different. The European Union has expanded to include most of the former communist states of Eastern Europe, whose citizens now have the legal right to take up residence within the UK, competing for jobs at a time when there are more than two million unemployed. A great many British citizens are unhappy with this. But because the law permitting it is inscribed within the treaty, and because the treaty takes precedence over parliamentary legislation, there is nothing that can be done about it. It is just as though we too are governed by a kind of religious law, in which the will of God sounds through every edict, preventing even the most necessary change. Why did the experiment in federal government, which has led to an unaccountable empire in Europe, lead to a viable democracy in the United States? The answer is simple - because American federalism created not an empire but a nation state. This happened despite the dispute over the state's rights and the civil war. It happened because the American settlement established a secular rule of law, a territorial jurisdiction and a common language in a place that the people were claiming as their home. Under the American settlement, people were to treat each other as neighbours, not as fellow members of a race, a religion or a class, but as fellow settlers in the land that they shared. Their commitment to the political order grew from the obligations of neighbourliness, and disputes between them were to be settled by the law of the land. The law was to operate within territorial boundaries defined by the prior affections of the people, and not by some trans-national bureaucracy. In short, democracy needs boundaries, and boundaries need the nation state. All the ways in which people come to define their identity in terms of the place where they belong have a part to play in cementing the sense of nationhood. For example, the common law of the Anglo-Saxons, in which laws emerge from the resolution of local conflicts, rather than being imposed by the sovereign, has had a large part to play in fostering the English (and American) sense that the law is the common property of all who reside within its jurisdiction rather than the creation of priests, bureaucrats or kings. A shared language and shared curriculum have a similar effect in making familiarity, proximity and day-to-day custom into sources of common loyalty. The essential thing about nations is that they grow from below, through habits of free association among neighbours, and result in loyalties that are firmly attached to a place and its history, rather than to a religion, a dynasty, or, as in Europe, to a self-perpetuating political class. What matters to us in our democracy is not that majority opinion should prevail, but that we should be equal participants in the political process, and equally protected by it. In a nation state the law is the common property of every citizen. It stands above every person and every faction. It protects the dissenter from the orthodox, the minority from the majority, and the nation as a whole from those who seek to confiscate its assets. It does this by bringing us all together in a shared first-person plural. Europe is moving not towards democracy but away from it, as we lose the right to define ourselves in that way. Democracy ends when we find ourselves governed not by us, but by them. You can follow the Magazine on and on21 June 2013Last updated at 16:53 GMT A Point Of View: Solstice and the lack of symbolism in Britain The Church's appropriation of many pagan festivals has left an important gap - the summer solstice. Tom Shakespeare casts an envious eye at the seasonal rituals celebrated in other countries and urges more symbolism in British holidays and traditions. If in this year of 2013, an interplanetary anthropologist came to England for fieldwork, what would they discover? On a variable Sunday each spring, we give our children more chocolate than is good for them, eat roast lamb and visit garden centres. On the last day of October, we dress the kids up in old sheets, black bin liners and plastic fangs, and send them down the street to extort sweets from our neighbours. A few days later, we gather around a bonfire, set off rockets and celebrate the execution of a Catholic conspirator. The following month, we get together with our birth families to exchange gifts, to eat too much and to argue. And that's about it. The word "festival" is now reserved for occasions when people who are young, or would like to be, huddle together in a field to listen to music in the rain and shop for ethnic clothing and candles. And get inebriated. Some 1,500 years ago, our Anglo-Saxon and Celtic ancestors had a much better idea. They celebrated regularly to mark the passage of the seasons that governed the natural world around them and the cycle of the sun, which gave them light and warmth. Life being nasty, brutish and short, they made the most of these moments of hope and plenty. Like most religions, pagans had festivals such as Yule, and the spring fertility festival, Eostre, not to mention Beltane, Lammas, Samhain and so forth. The arrival of Christianity meant that people had to give up sacrifices and the more sexually adventurous forms of celebration. But in return, the new religion offered an increasing roll call of saints - each of whom was owed their day of partying. The pagan holidays were recycled as Easter and Christmas. Shrove Tuesday compensated for the rigours of Lenten fasting, and gave a great excuse for a festival from Basel to Brazil via New Orleans. At the end of summer came the harvest festival, that strange Anglican anachronism now centred on the ritual donation of tinned goods and unwanted vegetable marrows. All Souls' Day, on 2 November, was the day people remembered and celebrated their dead, although Christianity has never given ancestors enough credit. But the Church's appropriation of pagan festivals left one rather important gap, at least in Britain. I am talking about midsummer, the summer solstice, which this year fell on 21 June at 5am. Unless you are living in Cornwall or Edinburgh or Binchester, or are one of the 56,620 Britons who identified themselves as pagan in the 2011 census (up from 42,262 in 2001), you are highly unlikely to take any notice whatsoever of midsummer. And that makes me rather sad. It also makes Britain somewhat unusual. For example, the Nordic countries mark midsummer rather well. Perhaps because they know what it is to experience long months of darkness, they relish their summers, and gather each June for communal celebrations. Sweden does midsummer in the most elaborate fashion, with the midsommarstang maypole and dancing, and flowers in the hair. Norway's midsummer rituals entail bonfires, preferably out in nature, near a fjord or river. Finns and Danes also go for the fire, underlining that midsummer is a festival of light. Solstice around the world I know what you're thinking. Norway, Sweden, Finland?? these are the lands of the midnight sun. Here in Britain, it would be nice to have some midday sun, let alone midnight. True. But it's not just in northern latitudes that midsummer is taken seriously. In many Catholic countries, such as Portugal and Brazil and Argentina, the festival of St John has recuperated midsummer, and turned it into a celebration that needs no midnight sun to be meaningful. I would not for a moment suggest that we revert to the liturgical calendar, let alone to paganism. Druids parading at Stonehenge seem to me as contrived as Morris dancers. But I believe that we are poorly served when it comes to festivals and celebrations. Our working lives are broken up only by the school holidays, by the new year sales and by bank holidays. And what a terrible thing bank holidays are. Just blank spots on the calendar that are entirely devoid of symbolism. When Sir John Lubbock, a banker and politician, introduced the bank holiday in 1871, in the era where working people did very little other than work, they were welcomed with open arms by the exhausted populace. But now we are entitled to at least four weeks' regular holiday, we don't know what to do with the imaginatively named Early May Bank Holiday, Spring Bank Holiday or Summer Bank Holiday. Alain de Botton, in Religion for Atheists, proposes that "those of us who hold no religious or supernatural beliefs still require regular, ritualised encounters with concepts such as friendship, community, gratitude and transcendence". If by this he means we need some better festivals, I rather agree with him. When I look at other cultures, I feel a strong sense of festival envy. De Botton mentions the Buddhist Tsukimi ritual, when people gather to view the harvest moon, and the Jewish festival of Birkat Ha Ilanot, which marks the first blossoming of spring. In Japan too, the seasons are celebrated - I was in Tokyo in April for Hanami, when the parks are full of people picnicking and admiring the cherry blossom. One reason that I like the idea of festivals is that they give rhythm to the year. Without regular and repeated moments, 365 days can just become a whirl, our busy lives offering no moments to pause and reflect. In a country like Britain with real seasons, the annual cycle of the earth's movement around the sun has significance. It was only as I was considering this topic that I remembered that the word "equinox" refers to the two days a year when night and day are the same length. If we don't mark such moments, then I fear that our years will just become a featureless smudge in time. When I moved to Gateshead in 1991, I had the great fortune to meet Andy Gibson, an inspirational community worker, together with a bunch of his mates, and I joined their men's group. Please don't think this was anything to do with drumming or native American rituals. This group was all about friendship. And beer. Each and every solstice and equinox, we would gather in the Central, a tiny pub in Gateshead town centre, and drink pints and catch up and take stock and occasionally sing. The second important point about festivals is that they bring people together. In the modern age, communal moments are few and far between, but when they happen, they are very memorable. Whether prompted by disasters such as the assassination of President Kennedy or the death of Princess Diana, or by great celebrations such as VE day, the millennium or the London Olympics, these are days when everyone is talking about the same thing and the normal routine is set aside. And that seems to me important in life. We need moments to connect with each other and come out of ourselves. I'm not suggesting we should be worshipping anything, neither God nor Mammon. But wouldn't it be good, if we could get together at regular intervals, with family or with friends, to take stock and commune? At midwinter, we could celebrate the shortest day, and look forward in hope to the coming of the light. At the spring equinox, it's the time to be thinking of fresh starts. The end of summer brings harvest, a moment of thanks for what the earth has given us. On 2 November, I'd like to light a candle to remember my father, and departed friends like Andy Gibson. And midsummer should be a celebration of light and growth. The sociologist Robert McIver writes that "the healthy being craves an occasional wildness, a jolt from normality, a sharpening of the edge of appetite, his own little festival of Saturnalia, a brief excursion from his way of life". Do me a favour. Do something different for midsummer next year. You can follow the Magazine on and on12 July 2013Last updated at 16:22 GMT A Point of View: Sporting spectacle on the piazza The Ashes are under way in England, but another historic sporting battle is fought out every year in Florence - an ancient no-holds-barred ball game played in one of the city's most famous piazzas, as writer Sarah Dunant explains. Britain is a happy nation this week. The sun has shone and we've won a major sporting tournament. I say we, because although obviously our new national hero did the physically gruelling bit, we've had our own work-out too. Tennis - like cricket, football, athletics, etc - may be a game, but it's only a sport when you have spectators to amplify the contest. Pumping the energy, riding the adrenaline spikes, aggression, exhilaration, outrage, even the occasional increased heart rate as we leap up from our sofa. At the end, triumph or failure. With luck and without immediate access to too much alcohol, both sides can enjoy the catharsis of all emotion spent. Thus in theory, throughout history, sport has proved a creative alternative to our recurring tendency to kill each other. Which brings me to Florence, where I work part of the year and where we're also recovering from annual sporting therapy, in this case a much less gentlemanly ball game that takes place in a giant sandpit in the middle of the city. No one knows exactly when "Calcio Storico" - historic football - was first played here, but its pitch, the piazza of Santa Croce, dates from the 14th Century and the rules of the game - in so far as there are any - were written down in the late 1500s. The four quarters of the city - Santa Spiritu, San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce, named for their great local churches - each put up a team of 27 men. The aim, over two heats and a final, is for players to get the ball over the 4ft (1.2m) fence at either end of the pitch. To achieve this, players can use both hands and feet, as well as every other part of the body when it comes to wrestling, punching and generally immobilising their opponents on the way. In other words - sport as muted warfare. A 15th Century Florentine would still recognise much of the event. Each game is preceded by trumpet fanfares and marching drums as costumed dignitaries and flag-throwers in the rich hot renaissance colours of their teams march from their various quarters to the piazza. The only concession to sartorial modernity - the players' coloured t-shirts with sponsors' logos - are off within minutes of getting onto the pitch, so that all one can see is naked upper torsos, caked with sand and sweat, hurling themselves at each other, as the crowd roars its approval and each goal, or caccia, is greeted by cannon fire. The addition of tourism has done little to blunt the edge of civic competition and not-so-benign thuggery that comes with it. Time travel works both ways, and watching from my window as the teams arrive (in the Renaissance most respectable women wouldn't have been allowed out anyway), you get a distinct whiff of a darker, more physical past, where the streets were often full of excess testosterone looking for action. Italian Renaissance city-states were tiny affairs compared to modern conurbations, but rivalries between prominent families and gang warfare (think Verona and the Capulets and Montagues) were always simmering under the surface. Smarter authorities found civic ways to let off steam. There was Siena and its Palio - different quarters of the city slugging it out on a death-track horse race. And Venice for centuries had a spectacularly violent sport of bridge fighting. Imagine this as your local sporting fixture - on big public holidays (of which there were many), a battalion of fishermen would meet an equal number of pumped-up ship workers at a pre-arranged bridge - there is one still known as Ponte dei Pugni ("bridge of fists") - and, armed with sticks and staves tipped in boiling oil, beat the hell out of each other until, by falling back or into the water, one side was vanquished and the bridge was taken. There were injuries and deaths but there were also stars - a number of Beckhams and Bests, though I am sure less good looking - who became local celebrities. There were also the corporate or royal boxes where the ruling families and visiting dignitaries could get a superior view of the action from specially constructed rafts moored nearby. In 1574 Henry III of France visited Venice and attended one such fight put on in his honour. His verdict: "Too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game." Horse-racing through winding streets, bridge fights in a city of water - while today we spend millions on sports stadiums (as much a way to control the crowds as the sport), they used what they already had. But then, one of the great things about Renaissance culture is that early on, it perfected an ideal architectural form which encouraged both containment and celebration - the piazza or city square. And they don't come any more heavily used than that football pitch in Florence. The Franciscans who built the great church of Santa Croce, which dominates the piazza, picked the area because it was poor. Close to the river, this was where the dyers lived. Here, from great vats of scalding water, Florence's mercantile fortune emerged. Raw dull fabric was imported from all over Europe and turned into rainbow colours to feed the appetite of growing fashionable middle classes. Walk into any church and you see the results pulsating off the walls: frescoes telling biblical stories but set in contemporary 15th Century, the background figures often local citizens dressed to the nines. But if the original inhabitants of Santa Croce didn't share in the wealth, they did enjoy some of the spectacle. It was in their piazza that the Medici family celebrated the wedding of Lorenzo (soon to be the Magnificent) with a tournament. They also had prime access to one of the great preachers of the age, San Bernardino, whose hellfire sermons were so compelling that the congregation spilt out of the cavernous church to fill the great space outside. In recent years there have been modern prophets. Since they moved the 19th Century marble statue of Dante from the middle of the piazza to its current position on the steps of the church, the piazza has become the perfect venue for outdoor rock concerts. Here, during a balmy September night four years ago, I had my own form of epiphany, enthralled by the musical sermons of Leonard Cohen. I remember wondering then what Dante would have made of it all, though the real challenge to his famously disapproving marble features was last year when the Italian actor Roberto Benigni came to Santa Croce for his famous recitation of cantos from the Inferno. He returns next week for the final circles of hell to an expected audience of 60,000 a night. Of course the square has seen disaster as well as wonders. Despite irregular flooding, nothing prepared Florence for the night in November 1966 when the Arno broke its banks and the black waters engulfed the state archives and the great church, reaching as high as the Cimabue crucifix hanging in the nave. It was a national disaster, which in turn spurred an international rescue effort. Thousands of volunteers came from all over the world to help in the clean-up operation. But in the end, as with all great civic spaces, it's the piazza's everyday existence that gives it power. Though Santa Croce may be richer these days, it is still full of little apartments, many with limited access to light or outside space. The piazza is our public playground. Early morning dog-walkers, children on scooters and bikes, the occasional market, the hordes of tourists and the buskers, painters and the souvenir sellers who swarm around them. The best time of day is the early evening when the sunset watchers gather on the steps of the church. Many are American students looking forward to an evening's bar crawl, something their age would deny them back home. My favourites are the Paris Hilton lookalikes, who totter across the flagstones on vertiginous heels that would have been a challenge to the stilts worn by Venetian courtesans 500 years ago. Commerce, concerts, sport and the endless theatre of people watching - Santa Croce has it all. Talking of sport, I bet you'd like to know the result of this year's Calcio Storico. It was dramatic stuff. The final, usually played on 24 June, the feast day of St John, had to be cancelled due to torrential rains. In true Calcio spirit the blues and the whites were actually inside the sodden sand pit vigorously disagreeing about whether or not to play, when it was officially stopped for safety reasons. When it took place six days later, the winners were - yes! - the blues from Santa Croce. It was clearly a cathartic encounter - a fifth of the players were sent off for violent behaviour - and the celebrations that followed were, well, full-blooded. I know this because I was awake most of the night listening to them. That's another thing that hasn't changed in Florence. Those pavement stones echo as much in the present as they did in the past. You can follow the Magazine on and on18 January 2013Last updated at 18:13 GMT A Point of View: Staring at the Shard Will Self confesses to being dazzled by the skyscrapers that dominate urban skylines, but wonders if they have overshadowed visionary dreams of making cities better places to live. It was said of the French writer Guy de Maupassant that he ate dinner in the restaurant of the Eiffel Tower every night of the week, and when asked why, replied, "Because it's the only place in Paris from where you can't see the Eiffel Tower." While this anecdote has the distinct whiff of too-good-to-be-true about it, I can assure you that my own peak perspective is 100% genuine. So taken am I by the spectacle of Renzo Piano's Shard lightsabering up into the London night, that I've taken to sleeping in the spare room, from where I have a good view of this, currently the loftiest building in Western Europe. I even leave the blind up, so that when I wake in the small hours I can contemplate the Shard under different light and weather conditions. This is not, I hasten to assure you, because I think the building has any architectural merit whatsoever. Rather, with its catchy nickname, and gross simplification of form, it's just the latest exemplar of what the architectural critic Owen Hatherley has characterised as the of creating structures that are simultaneously a logo and an icon. There's this, and there's also the ephemerality of the Shard. I have a friend who lives in a house in its shadow that was built in the 1600s, and given the 75-year specification of this scintillating spire and our proven capacity for doing away with large and recently-built buildings, I've no doubt that his humble abode will still be there long after it has gone. Indeed, at New Year's Eve, standing on top of Brockwell Park in Brixton, and looking at the starbursts and glittery flak explode over the Thames while the London Eye was transformed into a gigantic Catherine wheel, it occurred to me that the contemporary metropolitan skyline is really only a fireworks display of decades-long duration. A burst of aerial illumination intended to provoke awe, but doomed, eventually, to subside into darkness. As it is to London, so it is to other British cities. Over the past 20 years a series of signature buildings has lanced up into heavens, forms that by day have the aspect of grossly enlarged desktop toys, but which by night resemble nothing so much as the over-lit rockets and gantries of some Cape Kennedy of the collective British psyche. It's as if our architects, civil engineers and urban planners were summoning us not to the dull confinement of the workaday, but to an exciting mass exodus, one in which we will all become colonists of the future. I say "as if" because, of course, these gleaming nacelles are no more the product of careful arrangement, or thoughtful dispensation, than the up-thrust finials and melting buttresses of a termite heap. Not, I'm sure, that those who believe they're responsible for the character of our built environment would view it this way. After all, never before in our history have quite so many people spent quite so much time drawing up plans, conducting surveys and initiating impact studies. Never before has every single square foot of available building land been pored over with quite so much attention, nor has each aesthetic detail and design feature of our habitation been subjected to as systematic a supervision. Moreover, our journeys through this maze of quantification are subjected to the most accurate possible computer modelling, with a view to achieving that quintessentially modern desideratum: smooth traffic flow. And yet, despite all of this the end result is still an anarchic hugger-mugger of concrete, brick, steel and glass, typified by cul-de-sacs full of double-parked cars, and arterial roads clotted with traffic jams. How can it be that we've arrived at this strange impasse, where, instead of being citizens of a noble acropolis presided over by a genius loci, we seem the short-let tenants of a sandpit played in by a giant (and not especially imaginative) toddler? It's true that historically Britain faces an uphill struggle when it comes to effective and rational planning. As the first society to be industrialised and urbanised, our relatively small island was already thickly layered with sectional and individual interests before any effective civic authority existed. Hence, in longstanding built-up areas planning has always been a piecemeal and rearguard action against the successful redbrick invader. There's also the paradoxical role played by the two great 20th Century theorists of urban planning: Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the native garden city movement, and Le Corbusier, the continental promoter of the city as a "machine for living". The two are often portrayed as polar opposites: Howard the believer in privet hedges, and low-rise bungaloid development ranged along parabolic crescents; Le Corbusier, the apostle of the perpendicular skyscraper right-angling up from a grid-pattern of flyovers. But in fact both were responding to what they perceived as the human cost exacted by the chaotic growth of European cities. Both saw the vital need for people of all classes to have well-lit, unpolluted and safe places to live, characterised by large amounts of green space, and both sought to reconcile socialistic aspirations and capitalistic prerogatives within beautiful and sustainable urban environments. That Howard tended to a more laissez-faire model of how this was to be achieved - the garden city acting as a magnetic attractor by its obvious virtues alone - while Le Corbusier saw the need for a firmly dirigiste, top-down approach, can be explained in part by national temperament, in part by cultural experience. Howard was a true son of the Arts & Crafts movement, and as such, although he looked forward practically to clean and ubiquitous electrical power, he looked backward, idealistically, to the vernacular architecture of a supposed merry and harmonious England. This is why, to this day, you can stand on a suburban pavement in Uxbridge or Uttoxeter, and see a shiny new car parked beside a lichen-covered lych-gate. However, you can also look up from the half-timbered facades of "Tudorbethan" semis to see powering along the horizon a file of Le Corbusier-style multi-storey blocks. They may not be standing in the acres of open parkland as he would have wanted, but here at least the victory of the machines that he prophesied seems secure. This dual and poorly-enacted heritage perhaps best explains the curiously confused aspect of our cities. Indeed, you can walk through them pointing to first one feature then the next, and identify them as the bastard children of either one or the other of these visionaries. Howard's plans were ruined by the private car - the rise of which he didn't fully anticipate. Le Corbusier's were wrecked by the adoption of high rises for human habitation - something he never envisaged, believing that most people should live in comparatively low-rise apartment buildings. And underlying this confusion is a further derogation - that of an ideal both men shared, which was that the municipalities of the future should utilise increasing land-values to improve the collective lot. Lying abed, looking at the Emerald City of unfettered finance capital coruscating across the rooftops of the Victorian corridor streets that Le Corbusier and Howard so decried, I can appreciate that enacted here is the most important axiom of contemporary architecture - form follows finance. With its short life and great height, the spiky Shard graphically illustrates exponentially increasing inner-city land values, while the chaos of old and new masonry surrounding it testifies to the greed and short-termism of successive generations. There's just one massive mitigating factor in this prospect - despite the Wizard of Oz-hollowness of the illusion, the spectacle remains entirely bewitching. Indeed, I doubt anyone would ever change their sleeping arrangements in order to survey a well-planned city. It's this essential ambivalence we all feel about the urban landscape - that its sordidness and its beauty are somehow inseparable - that unites me with De Maupassant across both the Channel and the years. And high buildings, in particular, arouse in us these painfully comingled feelings of love and hatred. We love them for the new prospects they afford us of our cities, while loathing them for the way they belittle us. De Maupassant may have dined upright in the Eiffel Tower gazing down over Paris, while I'm supine in London staring up at the Shard. However, au fond, I think we share the same point of view. You can follow the Magazine on and on1 March 2013Last updated at 17:32 GMT A Point of View: The art of collecting What motivates art collectors - fame, riches or a desire to share? Whatever it is, says historian Lisa Jardine, we owe them. From beyond the grave, art connoisseur and collector Sir Denis Mahon - who died two years ago at the grand old age of 100 - continues to exert his formidable influence over British art and government arts policy. It has recently been announced that under the terms of his will, Sir Denis's collection of Italian old masters - described as the finest group of Baroque works in the world - has been given in perpetuity to six museums and galleries across Britain: But his generosity comes with serious strings attached. If any of these galleries ever decides to charge for admission, or if they attempt to sell any of their permanent collection, these works will have to be returned to the Art Fund, the independent national fundraising charity for art. Arts commentator that for 40 years, this distinguished collector repeatedly used the threat of sending his collection overseas rather than leaving it to the British nation, to "tease and cajole politicians into doing what he wanted". Since the 1970s, whenever a British government has proposed museum charges, or the end of "acceptance in lieu" (accepting works of art in place of death duties), Sir Denis has threatened to alter his will and take his priceless art collection elsewhere. In exercising an extraordinary influence on the British art world, he is, however, typical of a long line of wealthy art lovers. Throughout the 20th Century, individual collectors developed a passion for an artist or an artistic school, and by avidly pursuing and purchasing their works, not only pushed up their prices, but also played a significant part in the reappraisal of these artists, and their place in the canon of artistic taste. Take, for example, the wealthy industrialist Samuel Courtauld, scion of the Courtauld textile empire, whose collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings assembled during the 1920s and 30s helped permanently establish their importance in the post-war period. His passion for painting began in May 1922, when the Burlington Fine Arts Club in Savile Row, London, mounted a loan exhibition of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings entitled The French School of the Last Hundred Years. Carefully assembled from private collections, the exhibition made a firm statement against the conservatism of public gallery culture of the same period. Professional art historians were not impressed, declaring the works exhibited "completely lacking in pictorial interest", and particularly disparaging the Cezannes as "making one wonder how this painter's reputation has been achieved". However, the exhibition captured Samuel Courtauld's imagination. That September he bought his first Renoir. The following year he bought a second Renoir, two Gauguins, two Cezannes, two Manets, two Monets, a Daumier, a Seurat and a Van Gogh. The exhibition began his lifelong enthusiasm for the controversial work of Cezanne. A year later, Courtauld gave ?50,000 to the Tate and National Galleries to encourage the purchase of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings for the nation. Together with an equally generous bequest which helped establish the Courtauld Institute in London, he ensured that his name and influence as a collector were permanently and publicly acknowledged. Courtauld's art adventure followed a recognisable pattern. He had a personal fortune at his disposal. The work he first admired, fell in love with and coveted, which provided the foundation for his taste in art, belonged to other collectors. That work was not the kind appreciated or supported by public art institutions. Once smitten, he purchased extravagantly, for pleasure, increasingly expertly, occasionally selling in order to finance further purchases. Courtauld's most trusted advisor was the dealer Percy Moore Turner, from whom he had purchased his first two Impressionist paintings in 1922. When evaluating a potential purchase, an entrepreneur like Courtauld was looking for an assessment finely balanced between market value (a good price), quality as a work of art (a question of informed taste and a good eye), and stature of the artist (now and in the future). Courtauld's contemporary William Burrell, the Scottish shipping magnate and founder of the , also supported the practice of trusting a commercial rather than an academic expert when purchasing: "A good dealer is more acute as a rule than a professor, because the dealer has to pay if he makes a mistake." And as a self-made industrialist, Burrell too carried over his business instincts into the art market. The fact that he eventually owned 22 paintings by Degas was in no small part due to the fact that his gallery owner advisor Alex Reid could assure him that they were bargains, sometimes acquiring them for him two or three at a time. Throughout the inter-war period there was little demand for, or critical interest in Degas, and prices remained low. The most expensive work Burrell bought, , cost him a mere ?6,500 in 1926 (today it is worth many millions). At the same time, Burrell, like all enthusiastic collectors, bought works by Degas because he fell in love with them, and acquired them compulsively whenever one came on the market. Art collectors with a fortune to spend inevitably exert an influence on artistic taste and on the art market. The question is, is a collector who wins public praise for having a good eye or flawless taste being celebrated for their critical astuteness in identifying a neglected work's lasting aesthetic value and its importance within the artistic tradition? Or are they simply establishing a high competitive price for that artist or artistic school? Neil MacGregor, formerly director of the National Gallery, and now director of the British Museum, is full of praise for Sir Denis's astuteness in establishing the intrinsic worth of the school of 16th Century Italian Baroque paintings that had long been neglected, and has commended his ability "to find meaning in works of art we had written off, works we had thought were empty". On the other hand, there are those who maintain that Sir Denis's influence in revaluating 16th Century Italian Baroque went too far. "I think he has magnified the importance of this kind of work excessively," one historian commented. I doubt whether this is a question that will ever be settled. But we should remember that the Italian Medici family, whose taste in art and thirst for extravagant collecting played a vital part in the Italian Renaissance, were bankers by trade, and shrewd investors by temperament. Like Courtauld and Burrell, their love affair with the work of great artists of their day went hand-in-hand with their commercial spirit. Their enthusiastic activities within the contemporary art world - commissioning, buying and selling of expensive works - was a complicated, calculated and functional affair, a combination of pleasure and investment, shrewdly judged so as to maximise the public impact of their resources while retaining the possibility of liquidating a valuable asset whenever that became necessary. And it may be that we are overlooking an important feature of these entrepreneurial art collectors' activities which unites them. For all the unimaginable amounts of money they spend on putting together the definitive collection of their chosen artist or artists' work, remarkably often they display an unexpected generosity in seeing to it that their collection ends up in the public domain. Here, once again, the motives may be unclear, but the outcome is incontrovertible. Perhaps Courtauld and Burrell simply wanted to share their enthusiasm with a wider audience. And perhaps they hoped (like Renaissance patrons) that by allowing others to share their delight, they were also ensuring that their names lived on - as indeed they do. Whatever the case, as we stand in front of Guido Reni's exquisite painting The Rape of Europa in the National Gallery in London, marvelling at the luminous colours and the studied elegance of the pose and draperies, we should reflect with a sense of gratitude - and a wry smile - on the determination of a single-minded individual like Sir Denis, who has ensured that any member of the public who wishes will always be able to share his pleasure free of charge. You can follow the Magazine on and on13 January 2013Last updated at 00:32 GMT A Point of View: The biggest decision A personal essay on a particularly controversial issue by the writer Will Self, arguing that we should accept the right of people nearing the end of their lives to take matters into their own hands if they wish. This may seem rather shocking to you but I am expecting to kill myself. Really I am, and if you'll hear me out I hope to at least nudge society in the direction of considering suicide acceptable when - and this is the important point - the alternative is a slow painful death from a terminal illness. Why? Well, the facts are pretty persuasive when it comes to the business of British dying. We're living longer and longer, while our deaths are becoming commensurately more protracted. Such is the brilliance of contemporary medical science, at least in our privileged realm, that we can be kept breathing long past the point where our existence is anything save miserable - miserable for us, miserable for our loved ones, and miserable for those who have been appointed by either by the state or a private health plan to minister unto us. Many, I'm sure, will disagree, having had positive experiences of care and kindness in hearth and home and hospice, but these experiences are far from universal. There was a time, in the not so distant past, when either sepsis or infectious disease - or the very act of parturition itself - did for most of us considerably in advance of the biblically mandated "three score and ten". But nowadays the majority can reasonably expect to live long enough for senility to set in, and sclerosis or sarcoma to finish us off. It's often said that there's an epidemic of cancer, or heart disease or Alzheimer's in our society. But what there really is an epidemic of old age itself, all these pathologies being merely its inevitable sequels. What I am emphatically not proposing is that any given person of whatever age, or in any particular physical or psychic state, should kill themselves. I have friends in their 90s, who may be debilitated and depressed at times, but who nonetheless enjoy life intensely. Often it seems to me that these aged ones have endured long enough that they are not so much hanging on to life as caressing it gently, in the awareness that this, like all bodily experiences, is, of necessity, transitory. But what I do emphatically believe is that those who feel their suffering at the end of their days is intolerable should have the self-love needed to let go of their lives. Of course, for people of some religious persuasions, the notion that self-love entails suicide is anathema. For them all human life is inherently sacred, no matter that the body which lives this life is effectively mindless, or wracked by pains still transmitted by stubbornly vigorous nerves. It's for this reason that in our society - one governed by Judaeo-Christian moral precepts - the suicidal individual was traditionally deemed felo de se (literally: "a felon of himself"). Nowadays, while we may take a rather more secular view of these matters - neither prosecuting those who, as it were, botch the job, nor quarantining for eternity the cadavers of ones who got away - nonetheless, the taboo against killing yourself remains so strong that few can dare to contemplate it, even in extremis. And there are so many of us in extremis. As our population ages, our hospitals, care homes and hospices are full of people for whom the expression "quality of life" has purely an ironic application. There is one thing and one thing alone, that gives the lives of many of the terminally ill what little quality they do have, and that's diacetylmorphine. At least, that's what the medical profession term the drug. To the general population it is better known as heroin, and it was called this because in trials conducted by the pharmaceutical company Bayer, those who took it said they felt "heroic". That was almost a century ago, but the ascription remains apt, for now so many of us play out the final tragic act of our lives in this narcotised state. Doctors and nurses will tell us that they can calibrate the dosage effectively enough for the moribund to experience no pain and yet remain lucid, but from what I've seen, palliative care at this late stage largely consists in rendering us oblivious of everything - and in particular our own imminent demise. Both my mother and my father died of cancer while heavily sedated. In my mother's case, the nursing staff made no secret of the fact that they were upping her medication while withdrawing her nutrition, with a view to smoothing the path to her end. My father died at his home, but was visited four or five times a day by medics bearing barbed gifts. On the morning after he died, the first task I had was to gather up all the pain-killing medication in the house - morphine in oral solution and pill form - and return it to the hospital. I absolutely understand the desire to ward off death at any price. For those who are without any belief in transcendence, there is nothing beyond this life, and so they cleave to it for all they're worth. I tell myself that when things get bad enough, I'll make a dignified exit, but somehow I too worry that things won't ever get quite bad enough until they're excruciating and I'm incapable of acting. That's why I believe a change in social attitudes would be a great boon. I've observed what might be termed a "creeping normalcy" in the existence of the terminally ill - with each successive stage of greater incapacity, indignity and discomfort somehow managing to be incorporated into the daily go-round. Besides, few of us really understand how to end our lives painlessly and effectively - this is just another crucial bodily matter that we want to leave, along with all the rest, to the professionals. And this is why the whole debate about assisted dying is really a shadow play, behind which lurks a still darker and more discomfiting dilemma. Of course there are those with terrible conditions - locked-in syndrome, various forms of paralysis - who may wish to die, but be quite unable to do so without help, but for the vast majority of us suicide would be possible as a lone activity for some time after we knew that we were incontrovertibly dying. But instead of stating this boldly and clearly, we collude with the medical profession who, at an unconscious level, are always only too pleased to increase the ambit of their own expertise, and ask of our legislators that suicide be rendered simply another medical procedure. It's not, though. Rather, the decision to take one's own life could be, I would argue, part of affirming personal dignity, helping us to reach acceptance, and even gain some serenity - especially when the alternative is a long, painful decline through terminal illness. Yet as things stand, our impotence in the face of our extinction means that a vast amount of medical resources are expended in the last few weeks of people's lives purely in order to render our deaths insensible and insensate. When I see politicians campaigning relentlessly on their defence of the National Health Service, I often think that this is the unacknowledged subtext: vote for me, and I'll make sure you cease upon the midnight with no pain. I don't say any of these things idly. Like many in middle age, my last few years have been heavily marked by an increasing awareness of both my own mortality and that of those who I love. Nor do I wish to offend religious sensibilities, or upset anyone who is either terminally ill themselves, or caring for someone who is. While not a Christian myself, I still concur absolutely with the sonorous words of the committal service for the dead: "In the midst of life we are in death." It's because of this that we should all keep constantly in mind that we cannot hope to understand how to have a good life, unless we also ready ourselves for a good death. If you would like more information on this topic, the following websites may help: , and . If you have been affected by these issues, you could talk to your GP or someone at the .4 January 2013Last updated at 17:23 GMT A Point of View: The British and their bizarre view of Americans We lap up their culture, adopt their economics and are obsessed with the "special relationship". So why do British people have such a confused - even negative - view of Americans, asks writer Will Self. In 1976 my American mother took me to see Tom Stoppard's two short plays, Dirty Linen and New-Found-Land. The former was a rather prescient - or possibly only perennial - farce about libidinous politicos and a prurient press. The latter - which, in an act of dramatic tmesis was inserted between the two halves of Dirty Linen - was a brief two-hander the playwright had penned in support of his friend Ed Berman, a theatrical impresario and community activist who, at the time, was having difficulties with his British residency. (Yes, strange to relate, there was a time when Americans were viewed by the Home Office as dangerously radical.) Anyway, in New-Found-Land an older and a younger civil servant take it in turns to extol the virtues - cultural, political, natural - of the United States. At the climax of this competitive laudation, the younger civil servant drops his trousers to reveal stars and stripes boxer shorts, while crying out orgasmically: "Oh! My America! My New Found Land!" The laughter of the 1970s audience, I think, bore uneasy witness to the complexity of Stoppard's farcical vision. On the one hand, he was ridiculing a certain sort of British stuffiness that delights in putting down all things American as cheap, brash and overly sexualised. On the other hand, he was satirising the tendency for those self-same Brits to be politically in thrall to Uncle Sam, overshadowed by his mighty global reach. Almost 40 years on, not a lot has altered in our relationship with God's own country. The same ambivalence shapes our response to almost everything that comes across the pond. This ambivalence would be just comprehensible were it to follow some sort of regular pattern, with - following Stoppard - the cultural repulsion of British conservatives neatly offset by their political attraction and the British left responding contrarily by loving to rock 'n' roll, while decrying the depredations of what is now the sole global superpower. But in fact the British conception of America remains hopelessly confused. Love and hate are intimately co-mingled, and there is no single cultural artefact or presidential utterance that doesn't set off a dissonant chain reaction in the heart and mind of the average Briton, whatever his or her political standpoint. We've only to look back over 2012 at the way in which we have responded to events across the pond to appreciate quite how messed-up this relationship is. For a start there was the long run-in to the November re-election of President Obama. The spectacle of US democracy in action is at once ridiculed and revered over here. Looked at one way it is an unholy combination of demagoguery and plutocracy, what with its pork-barrelling politicians soliciting corporate donations for prime time television advertising. Looked at another, it has the folksy honesty of a town hall meeting writ very large indeed. Aspirants to public office in the US may well dissimulate, but in a wide-open cultural landscape, with only the occasional ironic outcropping, there's hardly anywhere for them to hide. Whatever the systemic failures of the US electoral process - and these are legion - and despite the fickleness, apathy and bigotry the electorate demonstrates, the view from the UK is that every presidential run-off has an epochal character. Somewhere in the troubling intersection between the American dream and the nightmarish patriotism engendered by , we sense their collective self-belief. What they do in the privacy of the voting booth genuinely matters, both to them and us. The protracted agony of the Syrian people as the Assad regime collapses in slow motion, the bloody stalemate in Israel-Palestine, the ructions in Egypt and the conniptions in Iran - throughout 2012, whenever our troubled gaze has alighted on one of these sore spots, we've been told that no balm can be applied until the voters in the bellwether states have made up their minds. Since the Suez Crisis of 1956 when the British government was told by President Eisenhower in no uncertain terms that for them the imperial project was over, our national self-worth has been predicated, in a large part, on a rearguard action to save face. The dilatory nature of the UK's relationship with the European Union often seems like the behaviour of someone stood up on a date, who cannot summon the willpower to walk away from the failed rendezvous and into the arms of the girl next door. And the American expression "date" is undoubtedly the mot juste here. For even in a year notable for its concerted attempts by the British to get our family jewels out of hock - what with the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics - the prevailing wind of change has continued to blow from the west. New Apple product launches and franchised television talent shows, Hollywood-financed blockbusters and new economic nostrums, the appetite for all things and ways American remains as ravenous now as it was when Bill Haley and his Comets rocked around the clock. And, as with all ravenous appetites, it can never be sated, only provoke a troubling indigestion. Since the staging of Stoppard's New-Found-Land, the great British public has increasingly had the opportunity to witness the object of their profound ambivalence in the flesh, as well as on celluloid. But far from greater intimacy leading to increased understanding, all those fly-drives to Florida and whistle-stop tours of Yosemite have only widened the gulf. For, once we've gotten over our initial amazement at the size of everything - from mountains, to prairies, to portions of food - a still more bewildering syndrome afflicts us. This can be seen most clearly with those British intellectuals - ranging across the political spectrum from the late Christopher Hitchens to the still extant Niall Ferguson - who, having paddled up the Potomac in their pith helmets, then went crazily native. Once established in the US, and with its objective reality restored to actual size, the British immigrant discovers its people. More specifically, while by no means able to form close bonds with all 311 million of them, he finds that such is their variety and contrariety, that there are plenty who are not only simpatico, but are also effectively indistinguishable from those he has left behind in Blighty. So, while from afar America may seem, to the Briton, a bewildering and Brobdingnagian phenomenon, close up and personal, the Americans themselves take on the more familiar Lilliputian lineaments of his own countrymen and women. Of course, neither perception is anything but delusory. East is east and west is west, and while the twain may meet, this doesn't make them part of the same main. Despite their perverse habit of speaking our language fluently, Americans employ its vocabulary in radically different ways. Just as in spite of our wholesale consumption of their cultural product - including their neo-liberal economic policies - we British retain a pesky sense of our own national branding. I think, at root, the problem is one of mirroring. They say "aluminum", we say "aluminium", but both can be shiny and reflective surfaces. So, no matter how intently we examine the US, we cannot help but see our own features staring back at us. This phenomenon simply doesn't occur when we look at the French, the Vietnamese or the South Africans - all remain properly other. Only America and the Americans have this ability to derange us with their capacity to reflect our own image. Not that they do this intentionally, really, it's something we do to ourselves. And it follows that what we also do to ourselves is to relentlessly equate America with Americans, and the US government with its electorate - conflations we wouldn't dream of making in the case of the German or Greek peoples. Perhaps once we finally smash the mirror we will be able both to see the US for what it is, and face ourselves shorn of that post-imperial body dysmorphia that continues to make successive British governments punch above their weight on the international stage. Still, I wouldn't want to bet on it. Not, that is, while British civil servants still hide their stars and stripes pants beneath their pinstripe trousers. You can follow the Magazine on and on6 July 2012Last updated at 16:14 GMT A Point of View: The curse of a ridiculous name Gopnik. It's not the most common of surnames. In Russian it's a term for "drunken lout". Those who carry a curious name know it has comedy value, says Adam Gopnik (that's G - O - P - N - I - K). I have a funny name. I know it. Don't say it isn't or try to make me feel better about it. I have a funny name. My children and social networkers tell me that. And you out there have even been tweeting about it: "@BBC POV, Gopnik: what kind of name is that? #weirdnames" Gopnik. It has a strange sound, and an ugly look. It manages to be at once starkly plain and extremely uninteresting, boringly unadorned and yet oddly difficult to say. Despite the stark, Orcish simplicity of its syllables, it manages to be hard to pronounce. "Golnik" or "Gotnik" people say, swallowing or spitting out the middle consonant. A first name is malleable. Your chancellor of the exchequer began life under the name of Gideon Osborne - a name that might only have helped him become one more short-tenured professor of dark arts at Hogwarts. But he plucked the safer and saner "George" from among his other pre-names, and seized the country's trust with it, for a while anyway. Last names are more durable. My parents tried to elevate the name by giving all six of my brothers and sisters poetic Welsh or Hebrew names such as Morgan and Blake. All good names but with no middle names at all to help. "Gopnik" rises immediately after each one, like a concrete cinderblock wall topped with barbed wire, to meet them bluntly as they try to escape. It's not just a funny name. It has become, in the Russia from which it originally hails, an almost obscenely derogatory expression. A gopnik in Russian, and in Russia, is now a drunken hooligan, a small-time lout, a criminal without even the sinister glamour of courage. When Russian people hear my last name, they can barely conceal a snigger of distaste and disgusted laughter. Those thugs who clashed with Polish fans at Euro 2012? All gopniks - small G. And I'm told that it derives from an acronym for public housing, rather than from our family's Jewish roots, but no difference. My wife, even before the Russian gopnik business, tried gently to pry apart her potential children from my name. Her name is Parker, simple as that, and she would much prefer that her offspring go through life without the difficulty of their father's name. "Let's just call them Parker," she urged when we married. "And then," she added gently, as one talking to a small child, "you can give them your name as a sort of secret middle name." We ended by doing the worst thing you can do to a child in these times - we hyphenated. The real trouble is this. Like every writer, I would like my writing to last, and most writers who have lasted not only have euphonious names, but names that somehow resonate with their genius. Jane Austen. How can you not write matchlessly wry and intelligent novels with a name like that? Who would not want to be named Anthony Trollope or Evelyn Waugh? The solid sense and then the elegant malice are written into the names - even the androgyny of "Evelyn" adds to the slight air of something-not-quite-right that his prose implies. I envy even those writers blessed with those Restoration Comedy names: In the Latin world, get a name like Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Mario Vargas Llosa, and you can practically make reservations for Stockholm, direct from the baptismal font. Are there any big modern writers who have really funny names? Only Kipling, I think, and that is an accident of the participle. More to the point, are there good writers who are now forgotten, as I am pretty sure I shall be, because their names are so funny? Yes, I have to say with dread, there are - for instance, the 20th Century American poet WD Snodgrass. Snodgrass was a truly great poet, the originator, if anyone was, of the style we now call "confessional poetry", a hero to Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath and the rest. But he had that funny Pickwickian name, and he knew it. He used to make fun of his own name: "Snodgrass is walking through the universe!" one poem reads (I, too, make fun of my surname, in the hopes of keeping off the name-demons). No use. For all his priority, I bet that you have heard something of Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton but that, unless you are a specialist in American poetry, you have never heard of WD Snodgrass. The subject has led me, gloomily, to search for the first reference to the power of names over writers' reputations. Oddly, astonishingly, I think we can find it. it occurs in the best and most famous scene in all of English biography, that moment in Boswell's Life of Johnson when, in 1776, Boswell craftily arranges a dinner between the arch Tory Dr Johnson and the radical libertine John Wilkes. The two men, political opposites, come together over their love of learning and good food. Wilkes is talking about the lost office of the city poet, and says: "The last was Elkanah Settle. There is something in names which one cannot help feeling. Now Elkanah Settle sounds so queer, who can expect much from that name? We should have no hesitation to give it for John Dryden, in preference to Elkanah Settle, from the names only, without knowing their different merits." The irony, the final irony, is that my kind of essay writing (a lot of it anyway) depends on finding meanings in minutiae of sensation, which is just where the tragedy of a name like mine resides. Wilkes' cruel but accurate remark is a big one, a herald of the coming Romantic era as much as any poem about a lake or a lilac. For while the classical sensibility that Dr Johnson represented involved an, at times, undue respect for the authority of sense, the coming Romantic sensibility that Wilkes heralded involved, above all, a hypersensitivity to the accidents of sensation. Things become whatever feelings they evoke; if a name evokes an aura, it becomes it. Academics even have a name for this - they call it "phonetic symbolism". The only writer I can think of in all of English literature to have out-written his name - to have been given a really weird and funny-sounding name and yet replace its phonetic symbolism with a new symbolism of its own being - is... Shakespeare. We are so used to that name by now that I think we forget how truly odd it is. A blunt description of an intrinsically funny action - shaking a spear. It is not even a dignified action, as Swordthrust might be, he is merely Shake-speare. In his own day, it was obviously the first thing people noticed about him. The very earliest reference we have to him as a playwright involves the critic Robert Greene sneering at his funny name. "He fancies that he is the only 'Shake-scene' in the country." And a later wit wrote a play in which a dim-witted undergraduate keeps talking about "sweet Mr Shakespeare, Mr Shakespeare", obviously for the comic effect of the repeated funny name. Indeed, the name "Shakespeare" is exactly like the name of a clown in Shakespeare, whose funny name would set off pages of tiresome puns: "Prithee, Sirrah, and where do you shake that spear? Come, sir!" "Oh, sire, in any wench's lap that doth tremble for it." And so on. You know the kind of thing I mean. Indeed, if he had died of the plague, as was as likely as not, after writing only two plays and some poems, I wonder if we would not now have to suppress a laugh when we heard his name in class. "The minor poets of the Age of Jonson," some don would intone - or "The age of Fletcher" or "Lovelace", for surely someone else left in his shade would have risen in the space left clear by his absence - "were Drayton and Davenant and the short lived Stratfordian, Shakespeare." And then the students, desperately memorising for the exam: "Yeah, there's Beaumont and Manningham and then that other one - you know, the one who died young and wrote the Roman play with the twins and those weird bisexual sonnets, which I actually kinda like - you know, the guy with the funny name." But he kept on writing, about bees and kings, and other things and so lost his name and became himself. It can be done, it seems, if one writes long enough and well enough. But the bar, that bar, is too high. And the phonetic symbolism of my name is too absolute. The spectre of those gopniks in their crewcuts and parkas rise to overwhelm all hope. It is fixed. I shall remain and now say goodbye - and then vanish as a, and A. Gopnik.26 May 2013Last updated at 14:14 GMT A Point Of View: The doors of perception In Arthur Machen's supernatural stories, the everyday city landscape of London is portrayed as an illusion, hiding a mystical world. The writer John Gray considers what they teach us about the limits of perception. There's probably nothing more firmly fixed in our minds at present than the idea that the meaning of life is found in changing the world. Some of us attach ourselves to large political projects, others to small-scale efforts to improve things. We may aim to alleviate world poverty, or simply to make ourselves rich. Our focus may be individual or collective, local or global. Whatever our practical goals, we're convinced that it's only by changing things around us that we can find fulfilment. Unless we succeed in somehow altering the world, we may be tempted to feel we've failed as human beings. This belief in the supreme importance of being active is so embedded that we can hardly imagine any other way of living. Yet there have always been some who've understood that achieving something in the world isn't the only way in which human beings can find meaning in their lives. In the past the idea that action isn't the whole of life has been promoted by the great religions, with their traditions of meditation and prayer. In more recent times, people have looked for alternative ways of living in less familiar traditions. One such person was the writer of fantasy and horror fiction Arthur Machen, who never accepted that action was the sole meaning of human life, or always life's most important part. Machen's own life was shaped not by any desire for fame or success but by a continuing struggle to make ends meet. Wanting always to write of the elusive vision that was closest to his heart, he enjoyed brief periods of fame followed by long spells of obscurity and poverty. Born in 1863 as the son of an impecunious Welsh clergyman, he tried to make a living as a writer on the fringes of the decadent movement that flourished in London at the end of the century. He achieved celebrity as the author of stories that mixed the paranormal with paganism and intimations of sexuality. In 1914 he published a short story, The Bowmen, in which he imagined British soldiers being assisted in the battle of Mons by phantom archers from the battle of Agincourt in the early 15th Century. Machen described the story as a "light fiction", but it led to an outbreak of rumoured visions of the bowmen and while he repeatedly dismissed such reports he was linked, until he died in 1947, with ideas of the supernatural. It's true that many of Machen's stories are about unwise explorations of a world beyond the one that's revealed to the senses. But , it wasn't so much the supernatural as the mysterious qualities inherent in what we think of as our everyday environment that fascinated Machen. He had a life-long interest in esoteric traditions, for a time joining an occultist society along with the poet WB Yeats, and in later life was increasingly drawn to a mystical version of Christianity. His view of life is perhaps best presented in one of his most memorable short fictions, published in 1936 when he was 73, which for reasons that aren't altogether clear he entitled simply "N". It's typical of Machen that he should have set a tale of magical transformation in the seemingly prosaic location of the London suburb of Stoke Newington. "He who adventures in London", he wrote, "has a foretaste of infinity". Machen viewed London as unknowable, and believed that if you walked around the city without any premeditated plan or direction you might stumble on regions that haven't been seen before or would be since. There are echoes in his writings of Thomas de Quincy, who during his opium-fuelled wanderings claimed to have walked through streets that weren't on any map, and of Edgar Allan Poe, who is mentioned in the story and in fact went to school in Stoke Newington. The magical transmutation of which Machen writes, occurs as a story within the story. An idle scholar by chance finds a book, A London Walk: Meditations in the Streets of the Metropolis, supposedly published in 1853 by the Reverend Thomas Hampole. In the book the Reverend writes of becoming acquainted in Stoke Newington with a reclusive devotee of mystical philosophy, who believes that "what we now regard as stubborn matter was, primally, the heavenly Chaos, a soft and ductile substance, which could be moulded by the imagination of uncorrupted man into whatever forms he chose it to assume". These ideas, the Reverend Hampole writes, strike him as "of an extremely fantastic, I would even say fabulous, nature". He is inclined to attach no credence to them, and when the mystic asked him to look out of the window of his flat in the suburb, Hampole at first sees "exactly what I had expected to see: a row or terrace of neatly designed residences". But when he is told to look again, he finds - to his surprise, delight and then terror - an entirely different scene: "In place of the familiar structures, there was disclosed a panorama of unearthly, of astounding beauty." Instead of the suburban vistas, there are deep dells, overhanging trees, shaded walks, radiant flowers and glowing colours. Gasping for breath, Hampole rushes out into the street, only to find it has resumed its usual aspect, with the trees leafless and black in the dull March daylight. Machen's story ends inconclusively. When the scholar who finds Hampole's book visits the suburb, he finds nothing that resembles the beautiful garden. We're left unsure whether any such place ever existed. The garden could have been - and according to all normal standards of evidence and reasoning, must have been - a hallucination or else sheer invention. Machen's fictions aren't intended to persuade the reader that events of the kind he describes could actually happen. He thought of the world as a kind of text in invisible writing, a cipher pointing to another order of things - but you needn't accept anything of this occult philosophy to find his stories more than just entertaining. What they deal with is the nature of human perception. William Blake wrote that "if the doors of perception were cleansed then everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern". When he wrote of London giving a foretaste of infinity, Machen expressed the same thought. Machen became one of the founders of psycho geography - the practice of exploring the human environment, especially in cities, without any definite purpose or preconception of what you may find. When he writes of wandering about London and coming on streets he could never find again, he's usually interpreted as hinting at occult experiences of the kind described in his tale of the mysteriously vanishing garden. But he may mean something different, and perhaps more valuable. Our exclusive concern with purposeful action crowds out a vital part of human fulfilment. Some of the most valuable human experiences, observes Machen, come about when we simply look around us without any intention of acting on what we see. When we set aside our practical goals - if only for a moment - we may discover a wealth of meaning in our lives, which is independent of our success or failure in achieving our goals. Matter may not be soft and ductile as Machen's reclusive mystic believes, but our lives are changed when we no longer view the world through the narrow prism of our purposes. Introducing a collection of his stories, Machen writes of "the unsealed eyes" through which he views regions of London that haven't been seen before. What we see through eyes sealed by habit and convention is only an infinitesimal fragment of what actually exists. Struggling to change things around us, we forget that another kind of change is possible - an inner change, through which we can enter a richer and more spacious world that was there all along. The unknown vistas of which Machen writes aren't revelations of another dimension - an invisible order of things hidden behind appearances - but glimpses of the larger world that passes us by unnoticed every day. You can follow the Magazine on and on17 August 2012Last updated at 15:19 GMT A Point of View: The enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes The fictional detective retains his grip on our imaginations, even in an age when we have lost faith in the power of reason to solve problems, says philosopher John Gray. When the future seems more than usually uncertain and there's something troubling in the present, it's natural to look to the past. Could that be why the figure of Sherlock Holmes is once again in our minds? Brilliantly re-imagined in the new BBC series, Holmes uses the power of his luminous intellect to solve seemingly insoluble riddles. He is described as relying on reason, employing a science of deduction that enables him to explain events that have so far proved baffling. Yet it's not the methods used by the fictional detective that fascinate us. It's the contradictory figure of Holmes himself. Nearly 100 years on from the setting of the last of the Sherlock Holmes stories, in August 1914, we've witnessed a succession of failed experiments in using reason. It's not just the collapse of communism followed by upheaval in free market capitalism - both of them systems based on theories that were supposed to be rigorously rational. In everyday life, systems that were designed to be infallible - from the security software we install on our home computers to the mathematical formulae used by hedge funds to trade vast sums of money - have proved to be dangerously unreliable. From the health service to care homes and prisons, institutions and services have been remodelled to obey principles of rational efficiency, with the result often turning out to be lacking in human sensitivity and at worst a mere shambles. As a result of these failures, faith in reason has been dented. The idea that the intellect alone can be our guide in life is weaker than it has been for many years. At the same time, Sherlock Holmes - a symbol of the power of intellect if ever there was one - is as powerful a presence in our imagination as he's ever been. It's a contradiction worth exploring. It's not the science of deduction that gives Holmes his power over us, since he doesn't in fact use it. In The Sign of Four, Holmes declares: "I never guess. It is a shocking habit - destructive to the logical faculty." Yet the type of reasoning which Holmes uses in most of Conan Doyle's stories includes a good deal of guesswork. We tend to think there are two types of reasoning: Deduction is infallible as long as the premises are true, while induction yields probabilities that can always be falsified by events - the black swans that turn up when no one is expecting them. The type of reasoning Holmes uses is of another, more conjectural kind - sometimes called abductive reasoning - that can't offer certainty or any precise assessment of probability, only the best available account of events. Importantly, this kind of reasoning can't be practised simply by following rules. "When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Here Holmes is describing what he calls reasoning backwards - moving from the facts to an explanation of what has produced them by a process of elimination. He does this in many of his cases, but it's not applying this rule that accounts for his astonishing feats. If Holmes can identify an unlikely pattern in events, it's by using what Watson describes as his "extraordinary genius for minutiae". As Holmes tells Inspector Lestrade, the plodding Scotland Yard officer: "You know my method. It is founded on the observation of trifles." Holmes notices things other people don't, and then - using a mental agility that involves creative imagination rather than the mechanical application of any method of reasoning - comes up with hypotheses he tests one by one. It's not cold logic but a clairvoyant eye for detail that enables him to solve his cases. "I can never bring you to realise the importance of sleeves," he tells Watson, "the suggestiveness of thumb nails, or the great issues that may hang from a bootlace." Holmes has the knack of knowing where to look, asking the right questions and crafting theories to account for what he has found. What's striking is that Holmes relies on guesswork and imagination, supplemented and corrected by observation, as much as much on reasoning. A physician himself before he became a writer, Doyle tells us that he based the character of the detective on a medical professor he had known. Like a good doctor, Holmes bases his inferences on evidence, but he reaches his conclusions by using his judgement. And he doesn't rely on his judgement only in the work of detection. He's ready to disregard legal rules when they seem to him unfair or out of place in the circumstances at hand. As he puts it to Watson, "Once or twice in my career I have done more real harm by my discovery of the criminal than ever he had done by his crime. I have learned caution now, and I had rather play tricks with the law of England than with my own conscience." With some of the qualities of a late 19th Century decadent, Holmes turns to detection as he does to his cocaine habit - to stave off boredom. But he's not just playing at being a detective. He wants justice to prevail, and where necessary he's willing to flout the law in order to ensure that it does. The servant of reason, Holmes is also a romantic hero ready to defy authority in order to stand by his sense of morality. At this point we're getting close to the contradictory sources of Holmes' power over the imagination. On the one hand he seems devoid of human feeling - "a high-functioning sociopath," as he describes himself in the new series. At times he treats Watson - a stand-in for human beings in general - with something not far from contempt. But he also has genuine affection for his friend, and a deep sense of the random cruelty of the human scene. In The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, published in 1892, he asks, "What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose, or else our universe has no meaning and that is unthinkable. But what purpose? That is humanity's great problem, to which reason, so far, has no answer." Here Holmes is voicing an anxiety felt by many at the end of the 19th Century. With the advance of science, religion seemed to have been discredited. But the human needs to which religion answered - above all, the need for meaning in life - hadn't gone away. If anything, the need for meaning was felt more acutely than before. Along with others at the time, Doyle found consolation in spiritualism - a movement with many of the functions of religion, but which claimed to be based on scientific evidence. That particular rationalist creed was followed by others, more militant and political in nature. All of them claimed to have solved "humanity's great problem" and to have done so by the use of reason. Aside from a few relics of Victorian rationalism who find a curious comfort in Darwinism, most of us now accept that reason can't give meaning or purpose to life. If we're not content with the process of living itself, we need myths and myths very often contain contradictions. Holmes is one such myth. Seeming to find order in the chaos of events by using purely rational methods, he actually demonstrates the enduring power of magic. An exemplar of logic who lives by guesswork, a man who stands apart from other human beings but who is moved by a sense of human decency, Holmes embodies the modern romance of reason - a myth we no longer believe in, but find it hard to live without. Can we learn to be reasonable without expecting too much of reason? Or will we blunder on, trying to remodel the world on rational principles that in practice produce chaos?1 February 2013Last updated at 17:11 GMT A Point of View: The grown-ups with teddy bears The historian David Cannadine considers the enduring appeal of teddy bears for both children and adults. A few days ago, I read the obituary of an extraordinary man named Sir Robert Clark, who'd been born in 1924. During World War II, he was recruited to Churchill's , and he was later parachuted behind enemy lines in Italy, where he was captured and incarcerated as a prisoner of war. Thereafter, having been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, he became a major figure in the City of London, and the British government often called on him for advice. He was remembered by one colleague as being "a wonderful man, as clever as could be, but very humble with it". Behind his facade of urbane charm and unfailing politeness, there was a strong will and steely nature. Sir Robert Clark died in January this year in his late 80s, and I was particularly struck to notice that at the age of two, which must have been in 1926, he'd been given a teddy bear that he called Falla. Throughout Clark's long and varied career, Falla accompanied him everywhere, even when he was parachuted into enemy territory, and while he was a prisoner of war. Perhaps in gratitude for Falla's unfailing loyalty, Sir Robert Clark later became an ardent collector of teddy bears, eventually accumulating more than 300 of them. But such a story of lifelong devotion between man and bear is by no means unique. John Betjeman adored his childhood teddy, whom he named Archibald Ormsby-Gore, and Archie later became the model for Aloysius, who was owned by Lord Sebastian Flyte, in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. But although we take teddies for granted today, as the stuffed animals of choice in both fact and fiction, they've only been an integral part of childhood - and also in many cases of adulthood, too - since the early years of the 20th Century. And for that, we have to thank the American President, Theodore Roosevelt, who was known as Teddy, and after whom stuffed bears have ever since been named. In 1902, which was only a generation before Robert Clark was born, Roosevelt went on a bear-hunting trip in the state of Mississippi, at the invitation of the governor. One day, after a long, exhausting chase, some of Roosevelt's friends cornered an American black bear, which they tied to a willow tree, and they called upon the President to shoot it. But Roosevelt deemed such a request unsporting, and this episode was later immortalized in a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman published in the Washington Post. Quite by chance, Berryman's cartoon was noticed by a Russian Jewish immigrant to America named Morris Michtom, who by day sold candy in his store in Brooklyn, while by night making stuffed animals with his wife Rose. Thus inspired, Michtom duly created a stuffed bear cub, and he put it in his shop window, accompanied by a sign that read "Teddy's bear", having already sent an earlier version to Roosevelt, who promptly gave him permission to use his name. The new toy was an immediate success, and the sale of teddies was soon so brisk that Michtom went on to establish the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company. At almost the same time, and apparently by entire coincidence, stuffed bears were also being introduced to Germany, where they were first manufactured by Margarete Steiff, who'd been making soft toys since the 1880s, and who'd recently been joined in the business by her nephew Richard. It was Richard Steiff who created his own version of the teddy, which he exhibited at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903. His bear was also an instant hit, and soon the Steiffs were exporting thousands of teddies to Britain, the US and other parts of the world. Thereafter, the advance of teddy bears to global dominion has been inexorable. Nowadays, there are shops which sell only teddy bears, there are teddy bear museums in many countries, and teddy bear festivals regularly take place in Australia, the US, Britain, Canada, Germany and Japan. Meanwhile, and as the example of Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited suggests, teddies have long since become a permanent cultural fixture as well. In 1920, Rupert Bear first appeared as a children's comic strip character in the Daily Express. Soon after, AA Milne published Winnie The Pooh, and the central character was a bear named after a teddy owned by his son. In 1932, the song Teddy Bears' Picnic, with music by John Walter Bratton, and words added by Jimmy Kennedy, became one of the hits of its time. Twenty years later, the puppet bear Sooty, created by Harry Corbett, made his first appearance on BBC television, and in 1958 Paddington Bear began his illustrious career, celebrated in his bronze statue on the London railway station from which he takes his name. Here are bears aplenty, providing whimsy and comedy, diversion and entertainment, for a mass public audience, as well as the comfort and the companionship that they gave to such men as Sir Robert Clark and Sir John Betjeman. They are as much literary creations to be read about as they are manufactured artefacts to be purchased and owned. Yet in many ways these are odd and even inexplicable developments. Beyond doubt, real bears are extraordinary and magnificent creatures. But whether brown or grizzly or polar, they are more vicious predators than cuddly pets, and human beings are well advised to avoid them in the wild. And what if Teddy Roosevelt had been given a different first name, or had declined the invitation of the governor of Mississippi? Would stuffed bears have become such popular products during the subsequent 100 years? These are some of the unanswered questions of teddy history. But what cannot be denied is the extraordinary appeal of bears, whether stuffed or real. When I was growing up, millions in Britain swooned over Brumas - a polar bear born in Regent's Park Zoo, London, in 1949 - the first bear to be reared in captivity in the UK. More recently, , born in the Berlin Zoological Gardens, became an international media phenomenon whose life was celebrated and whose death was mourned around the world. And giant pandas have frequently prompted similar levels of interest and sentimental attachment. Perhaps it's that bears represent the happy security of a childhood friend who never changes or lets you down. For whatever reason, teddies appeal to both children and adults of all ages, in ways that stuffed elephants or tigers or monkeys or ostriches or dolphins never quite do. Nowadays, it's impossible to imagine a world without teddies, which means the stuffed bear must rank as one of the 20th Century's most remarkable inventions and most enduring creations. When Sir John Betjeman died, he was holding Archibald Ormsby-Gore in his arms, and in death, as in life, Falla was with Sir Robert Clark to the very end. As an antidote to the dying of the light, or to the ending of the day, teddies are always with us. How many of you, I wonder, will be taking your bear to bed this evening? I wouldn't dream of asking. And shall I myself be taking mine? I wouldn't dream of telling. You can follow the Magazine on and on5 July 2013Last updated at 16:19 GMT A Point of View: The long march of everywoman Forty years ago, a small publishing house set out to help redress the gender imbalance in literature and the media. There is still work to be done, says Sarah Dunant. What does this description bring to mind? The books had deep olive spines. The lettering on the side was simple white and at the top was an image of a green apple, its juiciness guaranteed by the fact that someone had already taken a bite out of it. The message was clear. There were things inside these covers which some might say you shouldn't be reading. But since Eve's disobedience also contained a hunger for forbidden knowledge, for those of us who didn't see ourselves as good girls, there was, in the story of the fall, something to be celebrated as much as condemned. Soon all those green spines (we are in the late 70s and some will already recognise the design of the feminist press, Virago) started cosying up together on bookshelves. And in the same way that you might check out a guy's album collection as a shorthand for his amorous potential, a little green glade in a new friend's bedsit meant that some of the getting-to-know had already been done. This is perhaps the moment for a full and frank personal disclosure - I have always loved music and I am a Virago author. The apple as a symbol of subversion wasn't original of course. In the same way that Virago had got its apple from the Beatles' label (though there was no feminist bite out of that shiny Cox's pippin), in the years following Virago's formation in 1973, when branding became its own kind of God, the forbidden fruit logo was appropriated by many others - most notably the eponymous computer giant. But while the sleek white apple with its global reach and Midas sacks of money may have eclipsed the mischievous little green and red one, in terms of passion, vision and underlying impact on our cultural history, there is something to be said for a comparison between little David - or should we perhaps call her Davina - and Goliath. Both companies started small, very much the underdog, but with big ambitions and founding fathers or mothers not afraid to reach for the skies. Everyone now knows the visionary megalomania of Steve Jobs. At the party to celebrate Virago's 40th anniversary last week, its current head, Lennie Goodings, told the story of how one night she asked the indefatigable Carmen Callil, the founder, why she had begun the company. Carmen had been cleaning the office at the time - it was an egalitarian hand-to-mouth operation and cleaning was part of the job. "Why?" Carmen replied. "To change the world of course." And here's the thing. In a way they did. Partly it was the contemporary work they published. But the present wasn't the only plank in their plan of world domination. Through the rediscovery and republishing of women writers across the last century - often hugely talented and popular in their time but overlooked by literary history - they set out also to re-write the past. Welcome to Virago Classics, and the greening of our bookshelves. I still remember when the assault hit. In the late 70s, I was a fledgling radio journalist working for the BBC's local station in London. The budgets were minuscule but air-space was vast - in particular a daily, hour-and-a-half, live drive-time show on art and culture (given the lamentable state of arts programming now, it seems future and progress don't always go together). We were a young, overworked bunch with elements of slapstick, as in that great media movie Broadcast News, where the cub reporter in unsuitable heels (that would be me) throws herself across rooms and down stairs clutching the new script to try to make it to the microphone by the time the light comes on. But it was exactly that exhilaration and urgency that somehow marked the world we were living in. And soon all those new female voices, rehabilitated by the Classics and championed by the women who wrote their introductions, were sitting at the studio table eager to join the cultural conversation. Over the following years AS Byatt, Hermione Lee, Jenny Uglow, Penelope Lively, Angela Carter and many others used their eloquence and enthusiasm to help raise the dead. Willa Cather, Rebecca West, Antonia White, Rosamond Lehmann, Vera Brittain, Edith Wharton - you only have to say a few of the names to appreciate the extent of the cultural revolution that took place. So, there is much to celebrate 40 years on. But, as ever with revolutions, there is still much to be done. There was a "lively" debate recently on BBC Radio 4 about gender representation in broadcast media. For anyone (men and women) weaned on the idea of equality, it is hard to know whether to laugh or howl. I mean, how, in "the modern world", with our current demographic, could executives who run our media have failed to spot the problem? To have missed out on the energy, intelligence, humour and wisdom of a whole generation of now ageing women, while the same old, same old males sit slumped like bull seals, hogging the watering holes. This, you understand, is a David Attenborough commentary, not a direct description. It's not just about age. A few weeks ago I was on the Today programme to cover a literary spat about non-likable female characters in fiction. Brought in early, I waited for over an hour as the order changed to fit the news. In all that time I didn't hear a single woman's voice on air. Later, when the presenter gave me an unwitting opening, I mentioned it. I wasn't cross; actually, I think gobsmacked would be a better word. No sooner had I left the studio and the comment was moving through Twitter's dawn chorus, the smart man who had commissioned me got in touch to apologise. I was right. It was terrible. They hadn't noticed it on the running order. A similar rumble of dissent is going on in the literary world even as I write this. Last month Australian writer and teacher Kathryn Heyman and her husband sent a letter to The London Review of Books (LRB), explaining their decision not to renew their subscription because of continual gross gender imbalance. "We have," the letter ended, "made the astonishing decision to create a life and an environment in which men and women have equal power, equal status, equal space. This is clearly not a world which the LRB chooses to inhabit." They got back a fast response. An editor apologised but added: "Despite the distress it causes us that the proportion of women in the paper remains so stubbornly low, the efforts we've made to change the situation have been hopelessly unsuccessful." Needless to say this interchange went viral. Again the dominant emotion was less outrage than ridicule. One response said it all: "Looking for women who can review books? Ring a clever woman and ask her." That notion of boys' club had a more vicious outing last week when, on the same day as the Virago anniversary, news broke of Julia Gillard's ousting as prime minister in Australia. The horror was not so much her leaving - politics is a dirty business and when opinion polls plummet, even your friends have knives in their back pocket - but the way in which, during her three-year term leading a minority government, and despite delivering economic growth in a world recession, she had been subjected to a campaign of clear misogynist abuse. Faced with accusations of "deliberate barrenness", that her father had died of shame because of her, that her partner was gay (because who else could bear to live with her), she had also watched as opposition leaders took photo opportunities with protesters whose banners read "Bitch" and "Witch". And finally there was that "joke" entry in a fundraiser menu - "Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail: small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box." Shocking though it is, history will have the last word here. It's already happening. Gillard's , as it's become known - a riveting piece of political rhetoric, delivered to the House of Representatives in 2012 - has already been seen by millions worldwide. And three days ago her successor in the Labour Party, Kevin Rudd, announced the appointment of an unprecedented six new women to his cabinet. When suggested this might be a response to the treatment of Gillard, he replied: "No. These women are strong, professional and highly experienced and there exclusively on their merit." At least he's noticed. You can follow the Magazine on and on4 October 2013Last updated at 16:45 GMT A Point of View: The man who dreamed of the atom bomb Leo Szilard was the man who first realised that nuclear power could be used to build a bomb of terrifying proportions. Lisa Jardine considers what his story has to say about the responsibilities of science. The figure of Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard loomed large in our house when I was a child. He was held up to me as an exemplary figure in science - a man who had made fundamental breakthroughs in nuclear physics, but whose acute sense of moral probity led him in the end to denounce the very advances he had helped make. Only later did I learn an alternative version of his story. Almost exactly 80 years ago, in early October 1933, Szilard was in London, in transit from Nazi Germany, when an idea came to him that would lead directly to the ultimate weapon of war - the atomic bomb. An article in the Times two weeks earlier had reported a lecture at the British Association by Lord Rutherford - the Nobel prize-winning British physicist and head of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Rutherford had described splitting the atom by bombarding it with protons, but had gone on to say that any suggestion that the energy released might be harnessed as a source of power was "talking moonshine". The report caught Szilard's attention. He pondered it obsessively. Surely Rutherford was wrong? Then, early on a dismal, grey morning, as he waited on foot at a traffic light to cross busy Southampton Row near his hotel, the answer came to him in a flash. If a neutron, fired at an atom, produces the release of (say) two neutrons, each of which hits another atom, which both in turn release two more neutrons, which each go on to collide with two further atoms, a nuclear chain reaction would take place, releasing unimaginable amounts of energy. Szilard tells this story twice, with slightly differing details. But the tale itself is consistent and delightfully vivid. The challenge of Rutherford's remark, the heavy cold that had prevented Szilard's attending the lecture, the days spent thinking about it and the flash of inspiration just as the traffic light changed. Szilard immediately recognised the importance of his idea. To ensure its security he patented it in the name of the British Admiralty. The patent included a clear description of "neutron induced chain reactions to create explosions". In August 1939, by which time Szilard had moved on to America, he wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt to inform him that "a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium" was undoubtedly possible, and could lead to the construction of "extremely powerful bombs of a new type". Germany, he warned, might even now be developing such a weapon. "A single bomb of this type," he wrote, "carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory." The letter was signed by Szilard and Albert Einstein. By the time it reached Roosevelt, Germany had invaded Poland. With war now a certainty, the urgency was not lost on the US president. A committee was set up to pursue the nuclear initiative, out of which emerged what came to be known as the Manhattan Project - the hugely ambitious and massively funded programme to develop a functioning atomic bomb in the shortest possible time. But less than six years later in 1945, Szilard campaigned with equal passion to persuade the American government not to use the atomic bomb against a civilian population. He understood better than anyone the enormity of the devastation such a weapon could cause. But his petition, although signed by a large number of nuclear physicists, never reached the president. So devastated was Szilard at his failure to avert the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the story I was brought up on concluded) that he refused to do any further work in nuclear physics. Instead he moved research areas entirely, to molecular biology - a field concerned with the origins of life rather than its destruction. To my father this audacious step captured the essence of scientific moral responsibility. And I carried Szilard's story with me as I grew up. Today, however, I know that inspiring as it is, there are problems with this tale. As often happens with history, we have to treat with caution a narrative that fits so neatly the interests and preoccupations of the age in which it is written. At the time I was being told this story, Britain was in the depths of the Cold War. In the post-war years it turned out that Szilard (and indeed my own father) found it impossible to obtain work on any scientific project that involved nuclear physics. Though they were barely aware of the stigma themselves, the communist sympathies of their youth barred them from getting the necessary security clearance. So Szilard did not leave physics of his own accord. At the end of the war he was abruptly dismissed from the Manhattan Project by its military head, Gen Leslie Groves. Groves had always suspected him of having Russian sympathies, and now deemed him too high a security risk. Forced to change field, Szilard was indeed prescient in choosing molecular biology, which less than a decade later would uncover "the secret of life" in the form of the structure of DNA. My father's exemplary tale unravels further when we consider the way it presents the progress towards a functioning atomic bomb. It narrates a smooth development from Rutherford's lecture in London, through Szilard's (and his fellow-emigres') journey from Nazi Germany via London to the United States, and Szilard's single-minded preoccupation with the potential threat of nuclear weapons, to the Manhattan Project, and finally to its very American triumphant - or tragic - outcome. But actually Szilard the Hungarian had carried out the crucial early research with the Italian emigre Enrico Fermi, continuing it with him in the early years of the Manhattan Project, where the two of them succeeded in creating a controlled chain reaction - a prerequisite for a functioning bomb. Meanwhile, independently in Britain considerable progress was being made towards a nuclear weapon (a project code-named "Tube Alloys") with the direct encouragement of the prime minister Winston Churchill (who as Graham Farmelo tells us in a recent book, was surprisingly up-to-date himself in nuclear physics). In September 1940 the so-called Tizard mission delivered the top secret work of Tube Alloys to the Americans, to be developed with the greater manpower and financial resources available in the US. The British work made its own vital contribution to the project. Here is a much more fragmented, syncopated and international story, in which it is entirely unclear whether any one nation ultimately takes the credit or blame for the science and engineering behind the atomic bomb. Nor does it carry the clear didactic message of my original. There is one final twist to what started out as a simple story. Some of you will have noticed that I gave the date of Szilard's eureka moment at that traffic light on Southampton Row as October 1933. You may have had a date in September in your mind. The truth is, Szilard tells the story twice, as I mentioned. In one version he records reading the Times report and immediately having the idea of a chain reaction (on 12 September). In the other he recalls fretting over the problem for weeks in his hotel room and pacing the streets of London deep in thought, until the idea eventually came to him (in early October). So although the beginning of the story comes from the mouth of the man himself, we cannot be certain which version is correct. As a historian I have chosen the second as the more plausible, particularly in view of that heavy cold which Szilard tells us prevented his attending Rutherford's lecture on 11 September. But that remains surmise. Historical narratives are never without their agendas. My father's generation lived under the shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - he had been sent to do reconnaissance there only a few months after the bombs were dropped and had seen the consequences all too close up. He told me a story which redeemed the scientist from the enormity of events brought about by fundamental research in physics. It was a story that held the scientist responsible for lethal applications of "pure" research, and proposed Szilard as an iconic figure, for recognising and taking that responsibility upon himself. My father's story of Leo Szilard may not have been the truth. But it taught me, as a child, a lasting, salutary lesson about science and human values. You can follow the Magazine on and on (Required) Name (Required) Your E-mail address (Required) Town & Country (Required) Your telephone number (Required) Comments If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.28 December 2012Last updated at 15:55 GMT A Point of View: The never-ending culinary merry-go-round With the Christmas dinner done, writer Will Self says that the UK's collective new year resolution should be to bring an end to the national obsession with food. Are you full yet? Stuffed? Fit to burst? I do hope so. After all, no-one but a Scrooge with an eating disorder would wish people to stint themselves over the festive season. So, I hope you carved the turkey and cut the cake, crunched the roasties and smeared the brandy butter. And as you sat late into the night, unable to rise from the sofa so replete were you, I sincerely trust that you found a free gastric chink into which you could hammer that penultimate wafer-thin mint - the essential sugaring, I always think, for the bitter pill of the Christmas television schedules. Why am I so keen on your performance as good, honest British trenchermen and women over the past few days? Because I'm going to ask you to consider a major lifestyle change in the year to come, and it's only by having got it into your system that I imagine you'll be able to countenance getting it resolutely out. For what I think we require, as a society, is some sort of collective vomitorium. Not, you appreciate, that I expect you - like those mythical Roman patricians - to void the contents of your stomachs then limp groaning back to the dinner table. No, what I think we should all do is throw up our very obsession with food itself, and enter the new year purged and able to forge a new relationship with whatever we happen to find on our plates. It is, surely, undeniable that in the past 30 years we have, as a nation, been transformed from a culinary backwater - a stagnant reach in which floated the occasional soggy meat pie or waterlogged cabbage - into a foodie's paradise. Once upon a time our High Streets were perhaps home to a chippie, a Chinese and an Indian. And this exemplification of the comic law of threes perfectly encapsulated the truth about our eating habits - they were a joke. But now, even the most desultory and cloned shopping zone in the most provincial of towns will boast five, 10 or 15 eateries, all jostling for business with their exotic offerings. And it's not just restaurants. The shelves of our supermarkets are stacked high with specialist foods and piquant ready meals, while for those minded to abandon the flock, there are organic butchers aplenty, delicatessens and farmers' markets. This astonishing variety and abundance of provender where previously there was only a dull sufficiency would be remarkable enough, but it hasn't come about as a result of some popular refinement of the collective palate, oh no. Rather, our current status as the most food-obsessed nation in Europe - if not the world - is an ideological transformation on a par with the creation of the welfare state. Indeed, it is arguably gastronomy that has replaced social democracy as the prevailing credo of our era. But whereas in the case of the National Health Service and state education it was politicians, social activists and campaigners who forged the new consensus, the vanguard of this chomping revolution was constituted by restaurateurs, television producers and celebrity chefs. You can judge the completeness of a regime change by its capture of the commanding heights of the economy. In recent years we have, indeed, spent more on food and eating out than ever before in our history, although there's been something of a deflating burp since 2008. Equally important is mastery of the mass media. In contemporary Britain you cannot open a newspaper, click on a web page, or especially turn on a television, without being assaulted by images of succulence. Succulence often ushered into being by truculent former-footballers-turned-latter-day-Escoffiers. The thorough infusion of this oleaginous ideology into our collective psyche is best exemplified by those television programmes in which wildly enthusiastic amateurs attempt to bake, baste and flambe their way into 15 minutes of perfectly cooked fame. That these tempura tournaments should've become prime-time viewing, and the sort of entertainment to be chewed over exhaustively by the commentariat, indicates the real social function of our foodieism - because it's not just about anything as prosaic as having nice things to eat. You've only to consider the time frame within which this transformation occurred, and the other changes that paralleled it, in order to appreciate that food has become the defining attribute of both class and culture in 21st Century Britain. It began as long ago as the 1950s, when a soupcon of prescient sandwichistas - Terence Conran and Elizabeth David spring to mind - began to educate the benighted Britons in the wonders of what heretofore had been viewed as foreign muck. To begin with, their cadres were drawn exclusively from the bourgeoisie - the idea that workers might like to crush garlic rather than capitalism itself was obviously absurd. But all this began to change in the 1980s, as the traditional nourishment of the proletariat - the manufacturing industry - began to go off. Throughout that decade, and with an accelerating tempo in the 90s, more and more swallowed the idea that you are, indeed, what you eat, and that therefore the best way to become truly middle class, was to eat what the middle classes did. As for the traditional middle classes, they jettisoned the troublesome business of acquiring culture by any other means than orally. Under the new dispensation, it was no longer necessary to read Boccaccio, only munch on focaccia, just as you needn't trouble yourself with listening to Saint Saens when it was so much easier to drink Cote de Beaune. Even diehard nationalists, who wished to cleave to a distinctively British culture, could be appeased by a truckle of highly palatable Dorset Blue Vinny, in lieu of folios full of indigestible Warwickshire Shakespeare. Now we find ourselves in a society in which the majority of people identify themselves as being middle class, but this ascription owes more to digestion than it does to acculturation, let alone occupation. Surely, much of the managerial work undertaken by these new middle classes consists in the running of those self-same food outlets where they too chow down. Once the working classes were in chains, now they're in chain restaurants. Of course, with well-masticated food playing the role of social glue, it's absolutely essential that everyone clear their plate. Sod the starving kiddies in Africa - it's the overfed ones here we need to worry about. Because if they don't carry on eating, the entire house of chocolate chip and macadamia cookies will crumble away. So, in order to titivate palates not simply jaded but well-nigh worn away, it's vital that we come up with more and more exciting new dishes, more and more unusual foodstuffs, fancier and more exorbitant restaurants. Oh, and while we're at it, let's watch some almost famous people on television eating insects for cash prizes - that'll make us more grateful for the too much that we receive. Then there's the plethora of new dietary fads and so-called "intolerances" that beset us - and which we enthusiastically embrace, for it is only by artificially restricting our intake that we can simulate that long-forgotten state known as "hunger". Because, as anyone unfortunate enough not to be middle-sized and middle class might tell you, when you're hungry, any old food will taste as good as the most astonishing molecular cuisine fashioned by Heston Blumenthal in his laboratory-cum-kitchen. And it just so happens that we have a cohort readily to hand, should we wish to survey what this fabled "hunger" is really like. , a charity that specialises in a different sort of gastronomy, provided food aid to more than 100,000 British people last year, and their current aim is to open a food bank in every town in the country, such is the anticipated demand. In the old days we had have-nots, now we merely have eat-nots. There, I've chewed the matter over and spat out my opinion. We Radio 4 types really could do with paying a bit less attention to what's on the end of our forks, and a bit more to what's at the end of our roads. Put you off that final wafer-thin mint, have I? Good. You can follow the Magazine on and on19 April 2013Last updated at 17:22 GMT A Point of View: The pain when children fly the nest With exam season a little over a month away, Adam Gopnik looks ahead with dread to that painful moment when his children leave the family home. I want to talk about children leaving home. Not running away from home, though that happens, or kicked out from home. But about the good moment when the time is right and off they go. As it happens, my own 18-year-old son is getting ready to pack his suitcase and head to college in the fall. When I say pack his suitcase, I really mean it. When he was born, one of his godfathers came over from London and gave the infant boy a beautiful, antique turn-of-the-century trunk, covered with faded steamer stickers and already filled with judicious presents for his leaving, such as Trumper's extract of limes and a little black book embossed with a gold title announcing that it was for the phone numbers of blondes and brunettes. "He'll keep putting things he needs in here, and when he leaves home, he'll be ready," said the godfather, whose gift showed him to be both a romantic and a realist. He probably saw the light shining in our eyes at the baby's presence, and knew that he might need a nudge to get out - or rather that we would, to let him. Well, the day has arrived, almost, and I won't pretend I like it. The thought of his leaving home is almost unendurable for me. It's partly because we have a kind of all-day radio sports phone-in relationship. The morning usually begins with an exasperated conversation about Chelsea's latest episode of over-spending and the evening usually ends with another about the difficulties of ice hockey's Montreal Canadiens, our two shared sporting obsessions. And now, I know, that long, continual conversation is ending. Soon, I'll call him on the phone and start: "Hey, do you see what Abramovich??" and he'll cut me short: "Dad, I got to run?? Let me call you back?" Two or three days later, he will. I suspect he will return one Christmas soon with an icy, exquisite, intelligent young woman in black clothes, with a single odd piercing somewhere elegant - ear or nose or lip - who will, when I am almost out of earshot, issue a gentle warning: "Listen, with the wedding toasts - could you make sure your father doesn't get, you know, all boozy and damp and weepy?" My son will nod at the warning. I am blessed to still have his little sister at home, a 13-year-old who speaks a strange abbreviated Manhattan lingo. "Ily," for instance, means "I love you", which she utters at rapid machine gun-speed from her downturned head, while her thumbs are flashing over the keyboard of her phone, continuing text exchanges with five other 13-year-old girls. She is like a cross between Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek and a Gatling gun, spitting out communications with the cosmos. But soon enough will come her message too: "C U ILY". What I wonder about is why we love our children so asymmetrically, so entirely, knowing that the very best we can hope for is that they will feel about us as we feel about our own parents: that slightly aggrieved mixture of affection, pity, tolerance and forgiveness, with a final soupcon - if we live long enough - of sorrow for our falling away, stumbling and shattered, from the vigour that once was ours. One theory, popular among the cold-blooded, is that we feel this way only because it's a peculiar feature of our new, smothering middle-class culture. Back in the day, they insist, parents yawned over their kids. The poor had 10 or 11 children and used them, the myth runs, more or less as the Norwegians used their sled dogs on the way to the South Pole, while the rich hardly saw their children from one year to the next, bumping into them occasionally at a Christmas party. Only the growth of middle-class manners made child love so obsessive. Perhaps that's so. But then I think of that passage in the first of all Western classics, the Iliad, where Priam of Troy goes to Achilles for the body of his son, Hector: "Honour the gods, Achilles; pity him. "Think of your father; I'm more pitiful "I've suffered what no other mortal has "I've kissed the hand of one who killed my children." He spoke, and stirred Achilles' grief to tears He gently pushed the old man's hand away. They both remembered; Priam wept for Hector, Sitting crouched before Achilles' feet. Achilles mourned his father. Homer's point, which moved the Greeks and still moves us, was that even in heroic society, the love of parents for their children as children was the strongest bonding emotion of all that humans knew, the one common emotion that could reconcile enemies in grief. Hector, the prince and hero of his people, was also - indeed primarily - Priam's son. The new and more scientific explanation for the asymmetry is that it is all in our inheritance. Our genes are just using us to make more of them. (That Dawkinsian idea of selfish genes always gives me an image of the galley slaves on a Roman ship, peering and panting out of their little window and then, with a silent nod to each other, deciding where to steer the ship while the captain frets helplessly above.) Our genes, we're told, force us to sacrifice for our children because they - the genes - want to make more of themselves, and our unequal love for our children is the only way to keep the children healthy enough for long enough to reproduce so that the selfish little buggers - the genes, I mean - can flourish. The trouble with that explanation is that - as with all genetic explanations of anything involving human love - it restates truths we know already, only in slightly more robotic terms. An obvious truth - for instance, "women just love guys like Daniel Craig" - becomes "our genes compel women to be attracted to men with a full head of hair, broad shoulders and narrow waists, who are perceived as having high social status." Oh. This does not illuminate our lust, it merely annotates it. It explains the origins but not the intensity of the effect. Our love for anything cannot be explained by our possession of genes, any more than our love for football can be explained by our possession of feet. It is true that football would be impossible without feet, but the feeling it inspires long ago left feet behind - even Frank Lampard's. It is not that the big emotions we feel - love or lust or loyalty - are more mystical than their biological origins but exactly that they are far more material, more over-loaded with precise dates and data, associations and allegiances, experiences and memories, days and times. The mechanism of life may be set in motion by our genes, as the mechanism of football is set in motion by our feet, but the feelings we acquire are unique to our own weird walk through time. My own best guess about the asymmetry of parental love lies in a metaphor borrowed from the sciences. Merely a metaphor, maybe, but one that - as metaphors can - touches the edge of actuality. One of the rules of mathematics and physics, as I - a complete non-mathematician - read often in science books, is that when infinity is introduced into a scientific equation it no longer makes sense. All the numbers go blooey when you have one in the equation that doesn't have a beginning or an end. Parental love, I think, is infinite. I mean this in the most prosaic possible way. Not infinitely good, or infinitely ennobling, or infinitely beautiful. Just infinite. Often, infinitely boring. Occasionally, infinitely exasperating. To other people, always infinitely dull - unless, of course, it involves their own children, when it becomes infinitely necessary. That's why parents talking about their children can be so tedious - other parents, I mean, not me or you - not because we doubt their love, or the child's charms, but because itemizing infinities is obviously the most boring thing imaginable. We see this, with heartbreaking clarity, in those people we know, or read about, who continue to love, say, a meth-addicted child. And we think: "Why don't you just give up?" And they look at us blankly and we say: "Oh, yeah. Right." The joke our genes and our years play on us is to leave us, as parents, forever with this weird column of figures scribbled on our souls, ones that make no sense, no matter how long you squint at them or how hard you try to make them work. The parental emotion is as simple as a learning to count and as strange as discovering that the series of numbers, the counting, never ends. Our children seem, at least, to travel for light years. We think their suitcases contain the cosmos. Though our story is ending, their story, we choose to think - we can't think otherwise - will go on forever. When we have children, we introduce infinities into all of our emotional equations. Nothing ever adds up quite the same again. You can follow the Magazine on and on26 July 2013Last updated at 16:11 GMT A Point of View: The road ahead for the Catholic Church The Catholic Church is at a critical juncture. Pope Francis needs to address the scandals troubling the Church over recent decades, but risks opening a door to modernisation that may be difficult to close, says Sarah Dunant. When the first Bibles were printed in the 15th Century not everyone rejoiced. Some felt that communicating the word of God was the Church's business and should be kept in its hands. While I'm not equating the Pope's use of Twitter with the printing press it's interesting how many people are upset by it. Of course an image of His Holiness hunched over his mobile stabbing in 140 characters feels ludicrous. But give it some thought. Social media has revolutionised the way we gather news. You can bemoan the death of serious journalism, but many celebrate the immediacy of Twitter - how, often sliding under the radar of state security, it has speed and gives a voice to the people, offering a window on to history being made. If the faithful believe in the power of the Pope, why shouldn't he speak to them directly through their mobiles? It's worth noting that the 10 commandments are all conveniently Twitter length. So what should the Pope be saying to his millions of followers (an apt use of the term perhaps)? Well, it's hard to know where to start. Many, even among the faithful, think the Catholic Church is in a mess. While it may not be selling indulgences (though the recent suggestion that those following the Pope could knock time off in purgatory makes one wonder), decades of financial scandal and particularly sexual abuse have exposed a level of moral decay which, if it were a democratically elected government or even a global corporation, would see voters or shareholders expressing public revulsion and fury. Time for the disclosure. I was born and bred a Catholic. Confessed and confirmed, I spoke to God regularly from the age of five or six into my teens (He, or She, was always most comforting in moments of confusion and distress) and while I have long since left the Church, it still fascinates - witness the fact that I write novels set in Italy at one of its most dramatic and corrupt moments, the late 15th Century. For me the past is not only a lens to view the present, at times it seems there's little difference between them. Then, as now, the Church was not short of believers. Rome in 1500 hosted a huge jubilee, which saw an army of pilgrims flooding across the Sant'Angelo Bridge towards the old St Peter's. Two years ago at pre-beatification ceremonies for John Paul II, I was caught for days inside what felt like an equal crush. Both events had their critics. In 1500 it was seen by many as a money-making marketing event for a Borgia pope intent on war. In 2011 there were suggestions that the fast-tracking of a pope to sainthood was a propaganda act. John Paul may have been considered a great guy, but some terrible stuff happened on his watch and the Church needed to be addressing that too. For a moment it felt it might be. In historical terms I cannot tell you how "not on" it is for a Pope to resign. Benedict's leaving made public a crisis and everyone, even in conclave, seemed to accept this, by electing a man with a record of great humility in the service of God. Faced with an , Francis chose not to move into the infested area, lending credibility to rumours of sex and blackmail inside the Vatican. Shocking perhaps, but is any one out there really surprised? The connection of sex, sin and corruption has long plagued the Catholic Church as an institution. Desire can be a devil even for atheists. By the late 15th Century, with prostitution endemic and children in the sexual arena at an age we now define as criminal, celibacy was no guarantee of sexual purity. Priests, bishops, cardinals, popes... many sinned regularly - rent boys, housekeepers, courtesans, even having children. If being celibate was seen as an economic necessity for the Church to preserve its wealth then being chaste was very much an optional extra. While it was corrupt and hypocritical, in terms of the hierarchy of sins, interestingly sex was not quite the deal-breaker it is considered now. You only have to think of Dante's circles of Hell: lust - even sodomy - is way down the list, worse than limbo yes, but trumped by gluttony, greed, anger, heresy and treachery. I recently stood halfway up Brunelleschi's great dome in Florence decoding its graphic heaven-and-hell mural with an eminent theologian and canon. When it came to the lustful - mostly men - the monseigneur talked intently about how within Renaissance society it was accepted that both before and after marriage men would sin sexually: "Before the Victorian period made such a bugaboo out of sex," (those were his words), "while it was clear that spiritual growth called for a control of our passions, there simply wasn't such a fixation on sex itself." Next time you spot a cardinal's mitre being crammed into the mouth of a devil in a Renaissance fresco, remember they might be there for greed or avarice as much as anything else. Nevertheless, when the Augustinian monk went public on church corruption, his critique of celibacy was passionate. In 1525 he left the priesthood to marry a nun. For the church the schism was a disaster. Necessary reforms became the bedrock of a new religion and Catholicism was left to defend the old stuff, like divine authority of priesthood and celibacy. The main doctrinal weapon left when it came to combat abuse (and while this may sound cynical I mean it very seriously) was, and is, confession and absolution. It is deeply important that when the rules are tough, there is an understanding that people will break them and need - and be given - help to reconnect with the true path. To this day I have a memory of the power of confession. I never did anything very bad (Shepherd's Bush in the early 60s didn't give me much opportunity) but it acted as a kind of moral compass. Had I lied to anyone, been unkind, selfish? What a relief to admit it and be given a fresh start. The defining idea here is "hate the sin, love the sinner", a wonderfully compassionate concept in itself, but oh, how over the years it has come a cropper inside a secretive, hierarchical, all-male, establishment. Those priests who failed in the battle against sexual desire, using their authority to abuse those around and below them, were both forgiven and also protected, even down to being transferred to another parish without telling anyone, often to sin again. What on the inside was passed off as a new beginning, from the outside was plain criminal. Meanwhile the cover-up helped to keep the global brand intact. For their victims it was a double nightmare. First the crime itself, then the fact that there was no redress. Before we get too high and mighty moral, think of recent revelat