Walt disney

All work and no play is dulling our senses

Free Time is an academic journey through two-and-half millennia of leisure options. The central question put by the historian Gary Cross, is: why do we not have more free time, and when we do, why do we waste it, like Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, on ‘fencing, dancing and bear-baiting’ or their modern equivalents? We start with ancient Greek philosophers, including Socrates and Aristotle, who reckoned that life was all about free time. We should work to fulfil our basic needs and then use our leisure for scholé (self-improvement): for culture and reflection. The vita contemplativa was superior to the vita activa (though Socrates was also fond of a

Copyright chaos grows deeper by the minute

The law doth punish man or woman That steals the goose from off the common But lets the greater felon loose Who steals the common from the goose The authors of a fascinating new look at the patchwork chaos called copyright begin their book with this epigraph from an ancient English protest song against fencing, and thereby privatising, common land. David Bellos, a comparative literature professor at Princeton University and winner of the first International Booker Prize in 2005 for his translations of Ismail Kadare, and Alexandre Montagu, a lawyer specialising in intellectual property and new media law, have written a timely history of a ‘relatively simple idea – that

Pity the poor stepmother — the most reviled character in folk literature

Fairy stories were not originally aimed at children, and we do not know what the first audience responses were; but as humans do not change in certain essentials it seems likely that reactions centuries ago were similar to reactions now — when it is adults who often find many of them gruesome and unsuitable for those of single-figure age. Wicked stepmothers plot torment and murder; small children are banished alone to forests; wolves dress up in grandmotherly bonnets and shawls to deceive — and eventually to kill and eat — rosy-cheeked little girls; beautiful princesses are locked in high towers or tricked into taking poison to fall asleep for 100