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Hugo Rifkind

Caught on the net

What, if anything, should a moral, liberal-minded person think about the hacking of the infidelity website Ashley Madison? And by ‘liberal-minded’, please note, I do not mean ‘Liberal Democrat-minded’, for such a person would perhaps merely think ‘Can I still join?’ and ‘I wonder if my wife is already a member, though?’ and ‘But will

Stop moaning, start building

Housing associations are a bit like Network Rail. They are what Tony Blair christened his ‘Third Way’ between capitalism and socialism, in the hope they would combine the best elements of both. Instead, they combine some of the worst: public sector lethargy and private sector greed. According to a forthcoming investigation by Channel 4 News,

Teenage terrors

One of the great moments of my student life was opening the door and seeing visitors step back, shocked. I’d shaved my hair off to an eighth of an inch. It felt like velvet but looked spiky and hard. It was all down to Ulrike Meinhof, co-founder with Andreas Baader of the Red Army Faction,

Degrees in disaster

So farewell, Yanis Varoufakis. You used to be Greece’s finance minister. Then you resigned, or were you sacked? You took control of the Greek economy six months ago when it was growing. Yes, honestly! Growth last year ran at 0.8 per cent, with forecasts of 3 per cent this year. The government had a primary

Dying for attention

Not content with Facebooking our every foible, Instagramming the births of our children and live-tweeting our daily lives, more and more of us are now making a public spectacle of dying. We’re inviting strangers not merely to ‘like’ expertly filtered photos of our breakfasts, but to admire the way we peg out. Nothing better captures

Pop psychology

It’s not quite as bad as we feared: Sealed Air, the company in New Jersey that makes bubble-wrap, is not yet discontinuing poppable bubble-wrap. But its newly designed sibling, non-poppable bubble-wrap, surely spells the end for the real thing: it’s cheaper to ship, because it leaves the factory airless and thus can be ‘flat-packed for

Vive Hollande?

François Hollande appears to have been consigned to the political mortuary. The first Socialist French president since François Mitterrand has been more unpopular than any of his predecessors in office — his approval rating sank to 13 per cent towards the end of last year. His style of government has been ridiculed. His private life has been

Notes on...


The British have always been in love with Florence. First visits cannot disappoint. One friend recalls being herded around as a schoolgirl, unexpectedly coming face to face with the replica of Michelangelo’s David in the Piazza della Signoria and fainting right there in the street. Return visits can be just as stunning. You can fly