When I taught logic at an American university, the chief problem was to entice students to take the course. The smorgasbord approach they used to build a degree meant that students wanted things which might be useful to them, or ones they might be good at. Logic, alas, was perceived as neither, and classes were largely made up of very bright students who were not afraid of it and who thought it might be fun.
I am wandering the gilded streets where it all began. A few hundred yards from here a handful of clever, public-school-educated young men met of an evening to discuss how best to transform the thing they loved, the Conservative party. They would meet for something called ‘supper’, apparently. Yes, I am in that little, extortionately expensive triangle of west London between Kensington and Notting Hill and I have the scent of history in my nostrils.
Alan Dershowitz says that the pre-emptive assault on Iraq has given a bad name to a good idea — and will leave Iran the most dangerous nation in the worldFace it. Iran will get the bomb. It has already test-fired rockets capable of targeting the entire Middle East and much of southern Europe. And it claims to have 40,000 suicide volunteers eager to deploy terrorism — even nuclear terrorism — against its enemies.
Michael Ashcroft, a devoted collector of the Victoria Cross, marks the 150th anniversary of the medal’s creation and salutes its simple beautyThe concept of bravery intrigues me as much today as it did when I was a schoolboy. What is the crucial factor that makes some people more courageous than others? Is it in their genes, their upbringing or their training? Are they motivated by patriotism, religious conviction, respect for those who fight with them or simply an old-fashioned sense of duty? Is the bravery of most people premeditated or is it a spur-of-the-moment response to the heat of battle?
These are the sorts of questions I started to pose when, nearly half a century ago, I was a 12-year-old boarder at Norwich School.
Boris Johnson goes to Beijing on a mission to sell democracy, but finds his hosts — as wedded to authority as they have been for the last 4,000 years — politely declining his offerIt was towards the end of my trip to China that the tall, beautiful communist-party girl turned and asked the killer question. ‘So, Mr Boris Johnson,’ she said, ‘have you changed your mind about anything?’ And I was forced to reply that, yes, I had.