Monday, 9 December 2013

A splurge of links

With no attempt at a theme

(1) A bad graph. On the subject of Conservative statistics, "A quarter of the Tories’ new women MPs could stand down in 2015", and who can blame them? They work hard but "even the most extreme conscientiousness often goes unnoticed or at least unthanked by the public. Many MPs feel themselves assailed by a continuous barrage of insults: they are abused by people who are convinced that to be an MP is to be a lazy and corrupt parasite, devoid of any sense of public service and motivated only by greed for money and power. Women MPs get a particular kind of unpleasantness directed at them via social media by bullying men who indulge with vicious relish in every kind of obscenity. One woman told me that in her previous, high-level career, she at least felt when she went home she could switch off. She now finds she can never switch off."

(2) Lucien Freud was no gentleman. Julian Barnes compares him to the cricketer Derek Randall (formerly of Nottinghamshire and England) here and also has an interesting discussion of how much a portrait ought to look like someone. But a lot of the article, interesting throughout, is of quite a different kind and even pr├ęcis would be inappropriate for a family blog.

(3) England and the World Cup. If we don't even do the easy bits right then what chance do we have? But we're not alone: "Of course it makes no sense for the Netherlands to play a game against a team like Indonesia, as whatever happens it will bring down their average number of Fifa points per game. You would have to be completely mad to do something like that in World Cup year, when the points have the most value. Unfortunately for the orange hordes of Dutch fans, that is exactly what their team did ..."

(4) "Olivia Robertson, who has died aged 96, was the co-founder, archpriestess and hierophant of the Fellowship of Isis, an order devoted to the worship of the “Divine Feminine”, which she ran from her haunted ancestral pile, Huntington Castle (also known as Clonegal Castle), in Co Carlow, Ireland." Eccentric Anglo-Irish descendant of a niece of Noah (the Ark chap) who grew up first in Reigate - it's the Telegraph obituary writer's bread and butter, and none the worse for that. I liked this story in particular: Robertson had a vision which revealed to her that God was female and at much the same time "her brother, Lawrence “Derry” Durdin-Robertson, “21st baron of Strathloch”, an ordained clergyman in the Church of Ireland, had also become convinced that God was a woman. An honourable man, he at once proffered his resignation to his bishop, who assured him that “there was no need”."

(5) "The Olympiad was a good party, which cost the British population about £200 per head." It was well over budget ("The cost of the games to public funds has proved to be about 10 times the original estimate"). Was it worth it?

(6) Finally, don't miss John Gray's scathing review of Malcolm Gladwell's latest. The Economist didn't like it either.

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