An emotive defence of the society denied to us by neoliberalism. Tales from Harry’s 91 years are woven into a fact-of-the-matter narrative of today’s status quo. From upsetting accounts of a hungry childhood in the Great Depression to triumphs of love against the odds. Parallels are drawn between our brutal past and today’s social malaise, with striking effect. Harry’s angry and disturbed, but most of all he’s worried. Is society so inflicted by the wilful myopia and amnesia of government that Britain’s post-war progress will be completely undone? Harry’s seen this before, and we should listen.
I found this IEA publication very difficult to read, because almost every paragraph is flawed; sometimes logically, often evidentially and at times morally. The book takes what any undergrad might learn in Econ101 and applies it to current challenges and policy responses in health and climate change. All with gusto and arrogance. Whyte has little regard for the policy context, or for much of economic thought from the last 40 years. Most arguments depend on false analogies, which are painful to read. In the author’s own words: “Science progresses by ignoring mere opinion, expert or otherwise”. Thank goodness for that.
Tim Harford brings us some macro. For me, a less interesting topic than those of his previous books. Nevertheless, he’s a great writer with a knack for simplifying tricky concepts and, as with his previous books, this is an enjoyable read. Harford only really dips his toe into the complexities of macroeconomics, but I was still able to gain a better perspective on the current debates; the different arguments being stripped – as far as possible – of the politics that envelop them. The book is exhaustively researched and the reader is treated to plenty of interesting factual and historical tidbits throughout.
At first listen you may think that the new album from The Flatliners lacks the heat of their last, but in a few spins you’ll realise that Dead Language lacks nothing. The variety of tempo and style demonstrated on Cavalcade is replaced by an assured step towards a more consistent and measured sound, which does cause the album to sag as we approach the climactic closers. Still, Chris’s growl has developed into a roar and ensures that none of the tracks feel weak. The album hosts some of the band’s best songs to date and I, for one, am relieved.
I increasingly find politics a bore, even in relation to health and economic policy. Timmins’s Never Again? precludes my usual reaction, providing a lucid and engaging narrative. The story guides us through the Act’s conception, rejection, amendment and assent, identifying the key players from academia and Westminster along the way. The book enables you to leave your political inclinations at the door, and at times I found myself sympathising with Lansley! It also provides a nice overview of the ultimate nature of the Act at the end of its tumultuous journey; something I struggled to figure out at the time.
Chewing on Tinfoil aren’t the first punk band in the last few years to graduate from ska beginnings, but Marrowbone Lane could make them a contender for the most successful transition (…The Flatliners?). It isn’t just the Dublin accent that sets this band apart; their rhythm-driven punk style is relatively unique and succeeds in holding together a wide variety of styles and influences. The album swings from energetic punk rock to more sensible pop melodies and indie riffs, folky twangs and the occasional sing along chorus for good measure. Start to finish, there isn’t a wasted track on here.
Yalla Yalla serves ‘Beirut street food’. The place was buzzing when we stopped for lunch, though service was quick. We punted for 4 mezze dishes for two of us; each costing £4-5. Good choice for veggies. Dishes were a nice size and 4 was plenty. I sampled the falafel, spinach fatayer and vine leaves. The chunky, spicy falafel and refreshingly lemony vine leaves made for a tasty meal, but the spinach fatayer was dry and weirdly sweet. Without houmous or baba ganoush, it was all a little too dry, which resulted in us guzzling some nice lemonades from their selection.
Society condemns the poor. But people can rise above their means and be vindicated by society. The premise of Les Misérables will never expire. The social ills of today differ only marginally from those of Hugo’s epoch, and the story’s pertinence will never wane. Hugo’s writing is inspiring and poetic throughout. The descriptions of love – for one’s child, one’s sweetheart, one’s freedom, one’s country – are incredibly moving. Confronted with these 531,000 words, it certainly helps to be a bit of a Francophile with a general interest in history. Nevertheless, I challenge anyone not to be enlightened by this extraordinary book.