Flying Off the Handle

I am no great admirer of management as a science or of managers as people. The latter tend to speak a strange language, a jargon neither elegant nor poetic; they buy very dull books at airports, they are often shifty and ruthless, and they seem to me to live in a constant condition of bad faith. ...

Emission of Guilt

An old Australian judge of my acquaintance, an art collector and general connoisseur, now dead, alas, had no interest in cars and used to answer inquiries as to what car he possessed in the most lapidary fashion: "€œA green one."€ My interest in cars is scarcely greater than his; my main ...

Blah Humbug

Doctor Johnson wisely advised writers to strike out those passages in their own work that they found particularly fine; but the opposite of this advice is followed each week by The Lancet, one of the world's leading medical journals. Each week, its cover bears in bold letters between quotation ...

Refugee Reflections

There were only a few refugees still on the seafront when I arrived in Bodrum (Turkey), and there were even fewer of them by the time I left a number of days later. Where and how they had all gone I do not know. The Greek island of Kos, only two and a half miles away, had apparently been similarly ...

Mediterranea

Hungry Nonetheless

Paris is the best city in the world for cinema. You have only to go round the corner to see an intelligent and unusual film. In other places it takes a special effort to do so, if it is possible at all. I once spent a week in Paris seeing two or even three films a day from exotic places"€”exotic, ...

By Dynamite or Design

The trouble with vandalism is that it is fun, especially for people of modest accomplishment. The urge to destroy, said Bakunin, Marx's anarchist contemporary, is also a constructive urge, thus demonstrating remarkable obtuseness about the human heart. Destruction brings a sense of relief, albeit ...

Robert Mugabe

The Emperor’s Nice Clothes

Robert Mugabe, sempiternal president of Zimbabwe, was recently booed and jeered in parliament, suggesting that, after more than a third of a century in power and at the age of 91, he still has a thing or two to learn about being an absolute dictator. Of course, he might also be a believer in the ...

Ain”€™t It the Truth

What part do truth and evidence play in our beliefs? A larger part in ours than in those of others, of course, for we are, or at least consider ourselves to be, more rational almost by definition than anyone else. But if we are honest, which we so rarely are, we must admit that we generally fall ...

The Ugly Truth

There is a strange thing about modern ugliness: It is militant and proselytizing, and not just the result of thoughtlessness, poverty, lack of skill, and so forth. It might properly be called ideological. It is not so much the result of bad taste as of opposition to good taste as a desideratum. I ...

Activity Isn”€™t Working

Jacques Chirac, when he was mayor of Paris, offered the municipal workers a deal: They could have a short workweek if in exchange they agreed to verification that they actually worked during those hours. The workers, or their leaders, rejected the offer with contumely, from which the most likely ...