31/10/2009
31 Oct 2009

31 October 2009

31 Oct 2009

31 October 2009

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Features
Dan Jones
It’s Gin Lane all over again

Hogarth’s satire is as appropriate now as it was 250 years ago, says Dan Jones. What we need is a new approach to our age-old drinking problemIn 1751, as the great Gin Craze was winding down, William Hogarth produced a series of six prints. It included ‘Gin Lane’, his cruel masterpiece. In the foreground a syphilitic old slapper lolls across a dirty flight of steps, pinching from the snuffbox as her baby tumbles to its death in the cellar of a gin shop.

It’s Gin Lane all over again
Allister Heath
Why is Osborne obsessed with bonuses?

It is hard to work out what the bankers did to George Osborne. Perhaps he was refused an overdraft at a formative age. Whatever it was, he is taking his revenge, saying that the large British banks should only be allowed to pay trivial cash bonuses. The plan has its political attractions — focus groups tell him no punishment is too harsh for the City of London — but also three significant economic drawbacks.

Why is Osborne obsessed with bonuses?
Caroline Moore
RC v CofE

Charles MooreI wish the Pope’s new offer to Anglicans had been available when I became a Catholic 15 years ago. It would have helped avoid many misunderstandings. In modern times, most Anglicans converting to Roman Catholicism are not trying to repudiate their existing beliefs. Instead, they are recognising that the logic of those beliefs leads them to become Catholics. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for those close to them to see this.

RC v CofE
Christina Lamb
More troops will just mean more targets

It was Bonfire Night last year in the Officers’ Mess of 2 Rifle and I was jokily explaining how fighting is such a national sport among Afghans that they fight with birds, kites and even boiled eggs, when I suddenly realised my heart had gone out of it. As one of the few journalists to have been reporting from Afghanistan since the days of the Soviet occupation, I had often been asked to visit regiments before they deploy and had always enjoyed talking to young soldiers about a land I love and hearing their expectations.

More troops will just mean more targets
Anthony Daniels
Don’t believe in miracles

Irrationality, without which life cannot be lived, is profoundly irritating, especially in others. It is at its worst when those who are guilty of it try to sue those who, like Simon Singh, try to expose it. Singh was sued by the British Chiropractic Association after he wrote a book debunking several alternative ‘therapies’. A few weeks ago, thankfully, he was given leave to appeal but the affair nearly spelled victory for irrationality.

Don’t believe in miracles
The Spectator
The Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year Awards 2009

The votes are in, and we now know which parliamentarian has won this year’s Spectator/Threadneedle Readers’ Representative Award. The votes are in, and we now know which parliamentarian has won this year’s Spectator/Threadneedle Readers’ Representative Award. Their name will be revealed at the Parliamentarian of the Year Awards lunch But here, first, we can announce which reader’s nomination most caught the judges’ collective eye.

The Spectator Parliamentarian  of the Year Awards 2009
James Hannam
Did Al Farabi really invent sociology?

There is a subtle campaign on Wikipedia to overstate the contribution of Islamic sages to scientific scholarship. James Hannam says that the facts should be sacredAs an author who craves all the publicity he can get for his work, I’m usually cock-a-hoop to receive invitations to pontificate on film. Even the lowliest producer can expect to have me eating out of her hand. But last week, when I received an email from a filmmaker who wanted to interview me for a programme about ‘the scientific evidence in the religious text of the Koran’, I thought I’d give it a miss.

Did Al Farabi really invent sociology?
Rod Liddle
It wouldn’t matter if all the bees died

But don’t worry, says Rod Liddle, they’re not going to. The bee holocaust myth is just another example of our strange yearning for catastropheThe world is going to end in 2012, apparently — hopefully just before the start of the Olympic Games. Armageddon may come about as a consequence of those monkeys firing up the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, where they have al-Qa’eda operatives attempting to create black holes which will swallow the earth whole, or reduce it to the size of an extremely dense tennis ball.

It wouldn’t matter if all the bees died
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