Notting Hill Editions was launched in 2011 to revive the art of essay writing, producing elegant, small books containing such subject matter as Deborah Levy’s response to George Orwell’s Why I Write. Now, they have widened the format, with Alison Leslie Gold’s Found and Lost. Gold is best known for co-writing Anne Frank Remembered with Miep Gies, who helped hide Anne Frank and her family … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: Found and Lost review
Winston Churchill’s half-smoked cigar sold for $12,000 at a US auction in October. A hand-written note by Albert Einstein on the topic of happiness (“a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest,” he wrote) went for $1.5 million in Jerusalem. In London, Audrey Hepburn’s iconic blue satin sleep mask was bought for £6,250, some 50 times … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Tunnel Vision
Compliment or theft? At a literary festival in Brisbane last year, Lionel Shriver faced a backlash when she argued that accusations of cultural appropriation threatened “our right to write fiction at all”. It remains a contentious issue. At this year’s Battle of Ideas, Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, introduced a talk at the Barbican in London on whether “cultural appropriation is a compliment … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: On cultural appropriation
At first glance, The Attack of the 50ft Women, by Catherine Mayer, looks like a sequel to Naomi Alderman’s Baileys Prize-winning novel, The Power, about women gaining physical power over men, which in turn echoes some aspects of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fantasy classic, A Handmaid’s Tale. But, far from being a fantasy, this hard-hitting, non-fiction book shows how dystopian our reality still is for women … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: The Attack of the 50ft Women – Driving on equality street
On a recent visit to the Royal Academy, I noticed a tall, elegantly dressed man who spent quite some time admiring a square object attached to the wall. I wondered whether to tell him that far from being Russian avant-garde art, which was the theme of the exhibition, it was in fact the temperature and humidity control box. Many visitors to Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Ironies of Ideology
Public opinion on journalists has always been influenced by how they – or should I say we – are represented in novels, films and popular culture. In her PhD-thesis-turned-book, Sarah Lonsdale traces fictional and real journalists throughout the twentieth century. From swashbuckling Edwardian alcoholics with “special ink for hot countries which would not dry up” to the post-war alienated outsider, Lonsdale analyses how journalists have … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Of lesbians and constipation
In this, his first novel, Gerald Jacobs takes us to the Baghdad of the early 20th century, where Jews made up a quarter of the population, and lived amicably alongside the city’s Arab population. Immediately, we are reminded of the timeless traditions and idiosyncrasies of Jewish communities. One protagonist eats non-kosher meat, then “prays for a forgiveness to the God in whose existence he did … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: A diaspora of pain and joy
A new show about consciousness takes a terrifying look at how scientists, philosophers and artists deal with “the hard problem” In the 17th century, Descartes famously argued that the body and mind are two different things. Philosophers have been discussing the difference ever since, and this “mind-body problem” is far from solved. Today, science is still struggling to explain how our soggy grey brains give rise to the … Continue reading The Economist’s 1843: The malleability of our minds
Nina Willner was only five years old when she learnt that the reason she had never met her grandparents, aunts and uncles was because they were trapped behind “a curtain” in East Germany. “Someone, I thought, simply needed to pull that sheet of fabric to the side and let those poor people out,” is how she recounts her immediate thoughts as a little girl growing … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: Forty Autumns
A new production of The Nose, Shostakovich’s opera based on Gogol’s mesmerisingly surreal short story, was part of this season at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. A Tarkovsky retrospective was held in Shoreditch. Any moment now, I expect to get invited to a poetry slam riffing on Mayakovsky. The Nose, one of Gogol’s Petersburg Tales, tells the story of Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov, who … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Golden Gogol
There were ten men in an audience of about a hundred at How To Date a Feminist, a new play by Samantha Ellis (the author of How To Be a Heroine) at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston. As a feminist, I was naturally curious to find out what it means to date me. But it quickly became clear that the feminist in question in Ellis’s play … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: How to date a feminist
Hot Milk, the book for which Deborah Levy has been nominated for this year’s Man Booker Prize, explores hypochondria and the troubled relationship between a mother and daughter. It is characterised by a wicked sense of humour and sublime rhythm. Previously nominated for Swimming Home (2011), a novel on the insidious harm depression can have on apparently well-turned-out people, Levy is the only female British … Continue reading Jewish Chronicle: An interview with Deborah Levy
In Newton’s Apple and Other Myths about Science, twenty-eight academics refute some of the most pervasive myths about science. Isaac Newton discovered gravity, when he sat in the orchard and an apple fell on his head, according to one of the most famous stories of scientific discovery. During his life, Newton told the apple anecdote four times, and it only became well known much later, … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Big flat lies
Fine wine and rare stamps have been used to pass on wealth for many generations. Janet Yellen, who cautiously keeps interest rates down at the US Federal Reserve, owns a formidable collection of stamps. Friedrich Engels, who co-wrote The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, had personal assets that included 924 bottles of claret, 588 bottles of port and, of course, 156 bottles of champagne, as … Continue reading Money Observer: On fine wine, rare stamps and coins
On 2 March 2016 the Work and Pensions Committee took evidence from two former ministers and experts in the ‘intergenerational fairness’ debate, David Willetts and Steve Webb. The session was part of an inquiry that aims to discuss what the concept of ‘intergenerational fairness’ means in practice and how inequality between generations should be addressed, as well as considering the long-term outlook for pensions. Willetts, … Continue reading Money Observer: Pensions policy unfairly skewed towards baby boomers, says former minister
Through conversations with the people he meets in Ukraine, Tim Judah provides a unique picture of what is happening on the ground in wartime. Crisscrossing the country, he explores the impact of the ongoing conflict, with a focus on the lives of the majority of people, who are caught between westward-leaning nationalists and Russian-backed rebel forces. The book is not a blow-by-blow account of events … Continue reading Standpoint: Clearing the Fog of War
Tucked away between office buildings by Euston station is where I found the Camden People’s Theatre. It’s a little place with colourful bunting, a cheerful selection of chairs and flowery plastic tablecloths. It’s the kind of theatre where you can buy a packet of crisps in the interval, rather than wasabi peas. I went to see a talk and two plays that were part of Whose … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Whose London is it anyway?
What makes a genius? Since at least the 19th century, some have said it is down to genetics, while others have argued that upbringing is decisive. More recently, the idea that genius rests on sheer hard work — the “10,000 hours” thesis popularised by the writer Malcolm Gladwell — has gained currency. The latest contribution to the debate comes from the journalist and travel writer … Continue reading Financial Times: How to create a golden age
When short stories were still widely published in magazines, they had the capacity to react to unfolding events, writes Philip Hensher, the novelist and critic who edited these two volumes. Now the principal outlets for short story writers are no longer periodicals — apart from Standpoint and a few others — but competitions. “The dullest short stories I read from the last fifteen years were … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: The Story Of The Short Story
One summer afternoon in 1862, the mathematician Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) took the daughters of his dean at Christ Church, Oxford, on a boat trip down the Thames. He entertained the three sisters, Alice, Lorina and Edith Liddell, with the whimsical story of Alice’s adventures in a magical world entered through a rabbit hole. On their return to Oxford, Alice asked Carroll to write down … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Further Adventures
Drug prices pose an ethical dilemma. On the one hand, treatments should be affordable to those who need them, but on the other, companies will have to finance many failed drug development attempts in order to uncover the successful few, so each life-saver may carry a hefty price tag. While pharmaceutical companies tend to deal with well-known generic drugs, biotech companies focus on developing new … Continue reading Money Observer: Is it time to invest in biotech?
“Storybook ranch houses”, built in the 1950s and 1960s, are a feature of neighbourhoods in the American south-west. The first photograph above was taken in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where such dreamy, pastel-coloured homes stand in contradiction to the desert that surrounds them. The photographer KayLynn Deveney was born in Albuquerque, where her interest in storybook homes began. She went on to study journalism and photography, … Continue reading Financial Times: ‘All You Can Lose is Your Heart’ by KayLynn Deveney
I recently went to a public lecture at LSE hosted by the Forum for European Philosophy. The discussion was entitled “Does philosophy have to be obscure?” It struck me as a bit odd that both possible responses presume that philosophy is indeed obscure. If we understand “obscure” as “unclearly expressed” or “not easily understood”, so many things seem more obscure – Facebook’s terms of agreement, say, or … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Does philosophy have to be obscure?
Guy de Maupassant is considered the greatest short story writer in French literature. He is often said to have defined the modern short story and influenced the likes of Chekhov, Maugham, Babel and O. Henry. In France, his work is studied at secondary schools and universities, as it is in England. But it is probably true to say that in the English-speaking world generally he … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Found In Translation
Lithium plays a growing role in the global economy: it’s a crucial component in the batteries of our phones, gadgets and electric cars. Argentina, Bolivia and Chile hold about 70% of the world’s lithium reserves, “but new mining concessions can be hard to find”, says Alexandre Peyrille on AFP.com. Chile is not granting any new concessions and Bolivia has suspended mining after opposition from local … Continue reading MoneyWeek: Lithium use set to soar
The idea of “people’s QE” has reignited interest in radical monetary policy. Marina Gerner looks at the lessons from Japan’s version of people’s QE – the voucher schemes of the 1990s. What’s “people’s QE” all about? Traditional QE involves the central bank creating money to buy financial assets, such as shares and bonds. The idea is that the extra money created will find its way … Continue reading MoneyWeek: Japan’s lesson in “people’s QE” for Jeremy Corbyn
Like the tales told to Dante by the souls he meets in The Divine Comedy, literature provides us with mirrors to discover our own secret features, Alberto Manguel argues. The quest to figure out who we are and what we are here for, explains our delight in the tales of others. In this search for self-knowledge, literature does not provide all the answers, “but rather … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Where there is no why
The first time I came across the Israeli short-story writer Etgar Keret was through a comment he made about Franz Kafka. When Kafka died in 1924, he left his diaries, manuscripts and letters with his friend Max Brod, and ordered him to burn them unread. Instead, Brod released The Trial, The Castle and Amerika, turning Kafka into one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. But many manuscripts … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Israel’s Impish Ice-Breaker
In Heinrich von Kleist’s essay The Puppet Theatre, published in 1810, the character Mr C wanders through a public park, where he meets the recently appointed first dancer of the opera house. A puppet theatre has been erected at the market and Mr C had frequently spotted the dancer in the audience. When they meet, Mr C expresses his surprise that a dancer should attend … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: No strings attached
In his previous book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr argued that the Internet diminishes our power to concentrate and contemplate. Now he turns his eye to automation: “If you want to understand the human consequences of automation”, he writes, “the first place to look is up”. Air travel has been at the vanguard of automation, and it has become safer on the whole. By the same … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Engage neutral
He may be America’s greatest living comedian, but if you relied on British television you might never have heard of Jackie Mason. In this country, he must be the most underrated stand-up in the business. You have to see him live — and the opportunities are getting rarer. Three years ago Jackie Mason came to London on a farewell tour. This summer he returned to … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Underrated – Jackie Mason
Notes on a Voice: Marina Gerner pins down the work of a Nobel prize-winning novelist who revealed the inside through the outside “All I had to do was be there with buckets to catch it,” Saul Bellow said of his breakthrough novel “The Adventures of Augie March” (1953). Augie is a dreamy idealist with a drifting mind. The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, he grew up … Continue reading The Economist’s Intelligent Life Magazine: Saul Bellow’s Introspection
“Journalism and scholarship usually inhabit different planets”, Jeffrey J. Williams writes. Journalists and academics have different gods and languages. While journalists favour speed, paying homage to Hermes, scholars look to Apollo, favouring rumination. In How To Be an Intellectual, Williams, who is Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, argues the twain shall meet in the writing of criticism. Academics should take lessons … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: How to be an intellectual
In a Simpsons episode entitled “Specs and the City”, the evil owner of Springfield’s nuclear power plant Mr Burns has a surprise for his employees. He presents them with a pair of “Oogle Goggles”, small computers, that are worn like spectacles. Homer and his colleagues use the glasses to see new information about the people and things around them. Meanwhile, Mr Burns sits in his office and … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Wired But Not Secured
“We have just seen the civilised world gathered as one family around a common sick bed, hope and fear alternately fluctuating in unison the world over as hopeful or alarming bulletins passed with electric pulsations over the continents and under the seas.” “Just as in a theatre you speak directly face to face with five or six hundred persons.” “All the corners of the earth … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: The Medium Isn’t Always the Message
Simon Blackburn credits L’Oréal’s slogan, “because you’re worth it”, as a source of outrage and inspiration for Mirror, Mirror: The uses and abuses of self-love. Drawing on the myth on Narcissus, Blackburn writes on vanity, pride and amour propre with deep insight. He introduces “lofty pride”, for instance, with reference to the House of Pride, allegory of fickleness and superficiality, in Spenser’s Faerie Queene. A more … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Book Review of Simon Blackburn’s “Mirror Mirror”
Wading through a sea of data in Ofcom’s Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes 2014 Report, I stumbled across some surprising findings on apps. This year is the first time apps were covered in the questionnaire, even though they began appearing in 2008. In an effort to add digital edge to its report, Ofcom, however, muddies the waters. It overlooks some key facts about apps. The report’s findings … Continue reading Media & Policy Project: In Apps We Trust?
Women who engage in public speaking are seen as “freakish androgynes”, argued classics professor Mary Beard in her recent London Review of Books speech at the British Library. Throughout the centuries we have come to believe that public speaking is men’s business, Professor Beard said, citing Homer’s Odyssey and referring to the likes of Aristotle and Cicero. However, Aristotle and Cicero had female contemporaries who are … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Beards need not apply
“The public culture needs to be nourished and sustained by something that lies deep in the human heart and taps its most powerful sentiments, including both passion and humor”, Martha Nussbaum writes, “without these, the public culture remains wafer-thin and passionless”. Continuing her philosophical inquiry into both emotions and social justice, Nussbaum now makes the case for love, arguing that emotions rooted in love can … Continue reading Times Literary Supplement: Book Review of Martha Nussbaum’s “Political Emotions”
“Street art—you mean vandalism? No, thank you.” That was the response of a friend when I invited him to join me at the Museum of the City of New York for their recent exhibit, “City as Canvas.” His scruple was understandable but a little out-of-date. Graffiti was once something so furtive and illicit that the city of New York spent over three hundred million dollars … Continue reading First Things Magazine: Taking Art Off the Street – Museums are giving street art a home, but at what cost?
Imagine a girl called Mary. She is a brilliant neuroscientist and a world expert on colour vision. But because she grew up entirely in a black and white room, she has never actually seen any colours. Many black and white books and TV programmes have taught her all there is to know about colour vision. Mary knows facts like the structure of our eyes and … Continue reading Philosophy Now Magazine: What did Mary know?
When telephones were still a rare possession, the French artist Jean-Louis Forain decided to install a telephone in his town house. Wanting to surprise his good friend Edgar Degas with it, he invited him around for dinner and made sure to leave the table and conspicuously take a call. When he returned to the dinner table, Degas drily remarked: “So that’s the telephone? They ring, … Continue reading Standpoint Magazine: Phoney Freedom
Sometimes a chief executive must hope that an unwise quote from a while back would just curl up and die. Seven years ago, Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, gave a frank interview to Salon explaining what kind of customers he liked in his stores. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after … Continue reading The Economist’s Intelligent Life Magazine: The CEO and the Not-So-Smart-Quote
On Sunday, the cosmetics company Dove released a three-minute video on YouTube called “Dove Real Beauty Sketches”. By Friday it had nearly 9m views. The video features a former forensic artist from the San Jose police department sitting behind a white curtain as several women tell him, one after another, what they look like. “Tell me about your chin…your jaw,” he asks, as he sketches. Their replies are … Continue reading The Economist’s Intelligent Life Magazine: The Latest Beauty Product: Concern
There has been a “Women’s Library” in London since 1926, but this May it moves from its own premises in Aldgate to the fourth floor of the London School of Economics (pictured). The collection contains 60,000 books and pamphlets, press cuttings and banners about the British feminist movement. But I doubt the world’s largest library for social and political sciences—where I work as a research … Continue reading The Economist’s Intelligent Life Magazine: A Women’s Library? No, Thanks
Marina Gerner spoke with Thomas Blum, Vice President of Administration at Sarah Lawrence College and Roseanne Ackerley, Director of Financial Aid at Hebrew Union College, about the financial woes of students today and the status of educational loans in America. How has new student loan legislation impacted the university financially? Thomas Blum: We have not seen any financial impact, at least to date, associated with any of the … Continue reading New York Observer: Interviews on student loan debt
The first thought that popped into my head when Michael Sandel walked onto the stage to deliver his lecture at the LSE was that he looks nothing like Mr Burns! According to urban legend, the Harvard Professor of Political Philosophy was the inspiration for Montgomery Burns of the Simpsons, Homer’s evil boss and owner of Springfield’s nuclear power plant, who has the habit of bribing … Continue reading The Beaver: Michael Sandel the public philosopher
Much has happened since I began writing this column more than two years ago: the UK has voted for Brexit, Donald Trump has been elected US president and new trade tariffs have been imposed. But some things haven’t changed. In my first column, I argued that cutting out your daily cappuccino won’t make you the next Wolf of Wall Street. Whenever it’s suggested that it … Continue reading Marina’s Monetary Musings: Invest your tuppence wisely – or better yet, feed the birds
There is a belief that people with psychopathic traits – like aggression, cold charm and a ruthless lack of empathy – do well in the financial industry. So a team of academics, led by Leanne ten Brinke, a social psychologist at the University of Denver, set out to investigate if that’s the case. Her team studied the video interviews of 101 hedge fund managers. The … Continue reading Marina’s Monetary Musings: Mirror, mirror on the wall – who is the best one of all?
In recent weeks, most of us have been deluged by a flood of emails asking if we’d like to stay in touch with a certain company or charity. That’s because on 25 May, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. The basic idea is to create one set of rules to modernise data privacy laws across European member states, currently including … Continue reading Money Observer: GDPR – what investors need to know
Following the recent introduction of Morningstar’s carbon risk rating by Morningstar, we reveal how carbon-heavy the most popular investment funds are An increasing number of investors look to environmentally friendlier and more ethical ways of growing their money, and choosing the right funds is part of that process. When choosing a fund, investors can invest in funds that are specifically ‘ethical’ or ‘responsible’. Alternatively, they can … Continue reading Money Observer: How carbon-heavy are the most popular funds?
Among millennials who don’t invest in the stock market one common objection is: ‘It’s too much of an effort for something I’d only get a few hundred quid out of it.’ But is this sentiment justified? To begin with, there are two glaring reasons for why millennials shy away from investing. For one, millennials mistrust financial markets, given that they – or we – came … Continue reading Money Observer: Here’s why it is worth investing small amounts
‘The lack of change is one of the more remarkable characteristics of the Finsbury Growth and Income investment trust,’ Nick Train said at a Frostrow Capital investment seminar today. Indeed, the highly regarded fund manager is known for the very low turnover of his portfolios, which keeps his trading costs down. Since 2011, Train has created just three new positions in this trust. ‘I’ve had … Continue reading Money Observer: Nick Train on the virtues of doing nothing
Large charities embroiled in scandals have brought charitable giving into disrepute, from Oxfam staff who sexually exploited victims of the Haiti earthquake, to harassment at Save the Children. But the failure of these charities should not put you off donating. Indeed, the philosopher Peter Singer argued that ‘if you are living comfortably while others are hungry or dying from easily preventable diseases, and you are … Continue reading Marina’s Monetary Musings: How to become an ‘effective altruist’
Last week saw the deadline for companies with over 250 employees in the UK to report their gender pay gap. The figures revealed that HSBC has a gender pay gap of 59 per cent, Lloyds has a 32.8 per cent gap, Legal & General have a 30.5 per cent and Aviva has 28.5 per cent. While the gender pay gap in the UK was at … Continue reading Money Observer: How to close the gender pay gap in finance
A new report by the Work & Pensions Select Committee is proposing the creation of a ‘default decumulation pathway’; in other words a default investment fund for those who do not make their own investment choices. The idea is to echo the success of auto enrolment – which ‘nudges’ people into saving for retirement by doing nothing. Similarly, these pathways would create a kind of … Continue reading Money Observer: Parliamentary committee calls for ‘default fund’ at retirement
A grandparent who looks after a grandchild, so that the child’s parent can go back to work, can boost the amount of state pension they receive. By applying for a national insurance credit, a grandparent looking after their grandchild for one year could add £230 per year to their state pension, or £4,500 over a typical 20-year retirement, according to Royal London. The credit would … Continue reading Money Observer: Grandparents can claim pension boost for looking after grandchildren