Why the British think differently from Americans

When I first started teaching undergraduates at Harvard, the grading system the university employed struck me as very odd. Even ambitious students at top colleges in the United States see it as their job to answer any essay question in the most thorough and reasonable way. They regurgitate the dominant view in scholarly literature in a competent manner. If they pull this off without making major errors, they fully expect to get an A. And with grade inflation rampant in the Ivy League, they usually do. This attitude has had a significant influence on American public life. If you read an opinion piece in the New York Times or the

No, Hancock’s PPE contracts haven’t been ruled ‘unlawful’

The High Court has said the government acted unlawfully. It is important that is understood, because ‘unlawful’ is a word that can easily mislead. Above all, no one should accidentally think the Court has said that any of the PPE contracts are unlawful. They are not. What the Court has said is that because, on average, the contracts were published on a website after 47 days, the Department of Health and Social Care was unlawful because it promises to publish within 30 days. The government promised 30 days and 47 days is more than 30: that is unlawful. PPE was needed because of the pandemic and, due to the global

The lunacy of customer service in the time of Covid

‘Please be aware there is now a Covid surcharge,’ I told the builder boyfriend one morning, as we discussed the bills. ‘I have carried out a risk assessment in accordance with government guidelines and I’m afraid I need to pass on the cost of the personal protection equipment I now need. Please also be aware that, as of this month, you will be required to register to be with me by downloading the app.’ He ignored me, of course. There is no one to whom I can pass on the cost of everyone else passing on the cost of Covid to me. It started with the dentist. I rang up