Wednesday, 23 March 2016

A variety of links

1. Why would people vote for Donald Trump? Various thoughts on this subject have been maturing in my mind (I might even release some of them), but then I spotted this piece about Martha's Vineyard that provides a lot of the answers without mentioning Trump once. The bits about trades unions are more relevant but here's some colour: "Sitting on the deck at a popular presidential restaurant in Oak Bluff, I eavesdropped as two children, probably ages six and seven, argued about whether or not owning a yacht was a “ginormous waste of money.”"

2. A review of Batman v Superman. "Imagine Affleck, standing shirtless in a dungeon, repeatedly thumping a bus tyre with a sledgehammer. Got it? Good: that’s not just what the film feels like, it’s a real scene from it. And that’s all you need to know." And that's all you need to read too, but there's more in similar vein - look out for the kryptonite spear.

3. Very interesting article about punishment by David Cameron’s former Director of Policy, Paul Kirby. In a nutshell, the only punishment we have left is prison and it's not a terribly good one. So what should we do? (Spoiler alert: he does not recommend bringing back the birch or the stocks. Or does he?)

4. London should be bigger. Like, at least two times bigger! That is, assuming there is no Brexit and most of England becomes a kind of upstate New York.

5. Vegetarians should start saving wild animals. If you have ever seen one of those wildlife programmes in which a camera crew seems to be watching a baby elephant die of thirst and felt that they really ought to have helped it - and also felt that the argument "lots of baby elephants die of thirst that we don't see" doesn't deal with the worry - then you will, I think, not have much difficulty dealing with this argument. But you have to leave utilitarianism behind and think in terms of when people might owe duties not to mistreat animals. (I suppose there might come a point in human history at which all the animals in the world are effectively nothing more than our pets, or at least kept in open air zoos. I would find that terribly depressing. But if that happened then we would have to look after them in the same way we look after animals in zoos.)

6. In other sad news, ash trees are going to die out. Talking of dying, here is the Telegraph's obituary of John Jones, the Oxford Professor of Poetry noted for the brilliance of his lectures and his love of Plymouth Argyle (and of Angela Brazil).

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