Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

life, death and consciousness

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

I finished reading this fascinating book, and would like to share a few segments with you. The entire book is useful for anyone considering the right to life of a fetus or the right to life (or death) of an unconscious, older person in a vegetative state. It has made me re-think my ‘living will’, my request that no special efforts be made to prolong my life should I become unconscious and unresponsive.

What is consciousness? This is a surprisingly complex question. The author of this book, British neuroscientist Adrian Owen, explains that “part of the problem is that questions about consciousness have as much to do with personal taste as science”. (more…)

chemical and conventional weapons in Syria

Monday, April 16th, 2018

FT chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman writes that destruction of chemical plants and deposits will have little effect on the war in Syria, even if the Assad regime refrains from using chemical weapons,  it is free to use conventional weapons against rebels and the civilian population. (more…)

Jan Morris at lunch with the FT

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

This week’s Lunch with the FT, hosted by FT political correspondent Henry Mance, is one of the best I have read. It is very entertaining.

Welsh historian and travel writer Jan Morris, CBE, FRSL (born 1926) published under her birth name (James) until 1972, when she had surgery and transitioned from living as a male to living as a female. Now aged 91, she continues to live with the woman she married in 1949. The couple had five children together. (more…)

lunch with the FT at Mar-a-Lago

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

I am bored with Donald Trump, his family and his friends. What I most enjoyed in this week’s FT lunch with a close friend of Trump were the photos of Mar-a-Lago, where the lunch took place. Here are two of the photos. The first is a painting of Donald in his youth. (more…)

addition to my cv

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Today I completed my facebook cv by adding the high school diploma I received in 1962. It is from Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska. Although it is a modest public school, its wiki page contains a list of notable alumni. I did not make the cut. I recognize only three names of those listed: Dick Cavett, Ted Sorensen and Charles Starkweather. (more…)

Trump’s private meeting with Putin

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

The meeting at the G20 summit on July 7 was unplanned and lasted an hour. Mr Putin’s translator was the only person who witnessed the event, so we are left with no record of the conversation. Julianne Smith explains why this is dangerous.

[I]nternational summits are not wedding receptions. World leaders do not wander from table to table, making small talk. Summits and the meals accompanying them are highly choreographed and scripted events and for good reason. ….

For one reason or another, while he was at the G20 dinner, Mr Trump decided that, irrespective of what his team had spent months planning, he would disregard both their guidance and standard protocol and meet Mr Putin for a second time. ….

Most troubling is that … [meeting without] an American translator … gave the Russians a huge advantage. It enabled Mr Putin to say things he might not have said in the presence of his own staff or Mr Trump’s. ….

Equally troubling was the fact that the meeting lasted an hour, which means it was neither happenstance nor a brief pull aside. …. Did Mr Trump, with his notorious pro-Russian views, promise to lift sanctions, give up on Ukraine or ignore Russia’s human rights abuses at home? We will never know.

…. It [also] sent a clear signal about how much the US values Russia, a signal that Mr Putin certainly relished.

Julianne Smith, “Putting aside protocol spells danger for Donald Trump”, Financial Times, 21 July 2017 (gated paywall).

Ms Smith is a former US Deputy National Security Adviser to Vice-President Joseph Biden and former Principal Director of European/Nato Policy at The Pentagon.

military and non-military spending on security

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Princeton political scientist Andrew Moravcsik argues that Europe pays its fair share of Nato security once non-military spending is included along with military spending. This is an interesting perspective, as non-military spending does contribute to security, and 23 of the 28 Nato members are criticised for spending less than 2% of GDP on defence. (more…)

job losses in US retail sales

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Productivity is rising rapidly in the US retail sector, driven by a shift to large, self-service stores and, in recent years, to online shopping. Increased productivity brings decreased employment in the sector unless there is an offsetting increase in output. Nonetheless, the fragility of jobs in retail sales has been neglected by nearly all politicians, including Donald Trump.

FT columnist Edward Luce explains. (more…)

Donald Trump’s budget

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

FT columnist Edward Luce has a very readable op-ed in today’s paper. He tells us nothing we did not already know, but expresses it clearly and forcefully. There is a good chance that Trump will be removed from office. Unfortunately, Vice-President Pence will then take command and nothing will change. (more…)

happiness in the USA

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Economist Carol Graham has written a book on the pursuit of happiness in the USA. Here is an excerpt from a review of the book, written by journalist Geoff Dayer for the Financial Times. (more…)