Voice recognition: Big Swiss, by Jen Beagin, reviewed

When Flavia, 28, starts seeing a sex therapist called Om – a name that is as ‘on-the-nose’ as everything in Hudson, NY, the college town without a college where Jen Beagin sets Big Swiss – she is upfront about her ground rules.  Having been brutally attacked a few years earlier, she says to Om: Can we stop using the word ‘trauma’? Trauma people are almost as unbearable to me as Trump people. If you try suggesting that they let go of their suffering, their victimhood, they act all traumatised. It’s like, yes, what happened to you is shitty, I’m not denying that, but why do you keep rolling around in

Are surgical museums such as the Hunterian doomed?

I have a soft spot for specimen jars and skeletal remains. Museums of natural history, surgical pioneering or anthropological oddities have always struck me as equally suitable for lunch breaks and first dates as for serious study and research. As far as public and casually accessible encounters with mortality go, these kinds of museums are the most straightforward way of confronting the realities of human nature. But whether we should have this kind of casual access is now increasingly being questioned. Telling history through displays of human remains presents a challenge for curators. They are responsible for contextualising exhibitions to ensure that the remains don’t become a dehumanised spectacle, while

The questionable ethics of Operation Moonshot

Now that we seem to have two Covid-19 vaccines that work, do we really need Operation Moonshot, the government’s programme to test 10 million people a day by early next year? It’s a poignant question, not least because of the extraordinary sums which appear to have been committed to it: briefing documents leaked to the BMJ in September suggested that it could cost £100 billion, which is close to the annual NHS budget in England. What would be the point of testing the entire population of Britain once a week if the virus was being controlled by a vaccine? The cost aside, there is growing medical opinion against the idea.