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catching up

I've been very busy and haven't been updating this blog as I should.
There are so many things to comment on since I last posted.


I spent this past weekend at the most inspiring event I've been to in a very long time. The Academy, organised by the Institute of Ideas for its members, was mind-blowing stuff. It's worth becoming a member of the IOI to get invited next year http://www.instituteofideas.com/academy2011.html
I did the history strand during the day, looking at the English Civil War, empire, the origins of welfare thinking and how fascism developed in Europe. Other people did ancient Greek and Roman thought, we were all together, to discuss the rise of historical consciousness, in the afternoon. 

I knew little about the English Revolution before doing the reading for this and it's fascinating. The Putney Debates by The Levellers, recently published with an introduction by Geoffrey Robinson QC, is a cracking read. Geoffrey's intro is interesting but his lifetime in the law gives him a very narrow perspective which means he misses what was truly exceptional about the many groups like the Levellers who were around, and the events that took place, in the 17th century.


Amy Winehouse died. Perhaps not that much of a surprise. Ironically the day before she died Tony Bennett, now 84 but you wouldn't know it from his voice, was on Radio 4 talking about his new album. He's done a duet with Amy and I thought it was the best I'd ever heard her sound. What's particularly annoying about her early demise it that you know she is going to be discussed as a legend forever more - it's a much overused word is legend.

I was on BBC Radio Wales talking about a proposed intensive dairy farm today - which was nice. The discussion focused on  animal welfare - which is inevitable but does rather miss the point - the point being that every welfare issue you can imagine could be sorted and some people would still not be happy with mega dairies simply because of their size. An MP phoned in to have a go at supermarkets for putting traditional farms out of business - they're always quick to have a go and call for ever more regulation are MPs - I think we desperately need better MPs.
23.30 & 48.00 (I ramble a bit)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/e​pisode/b012b11b/The_Radio_Wale​s_PhoneIn_28_07_2011/

I came back to find a google alert for a really good article by one of my favourite writers, and sometimes editor Brendan O'Neill, in the Spectator on confessional culture: http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/7060408/confessional-culture.thtml

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