History of English: Early Modern English

This third post on the development of the English language covers the period from the end of the fifteenth century to the beginning of the seventeenth century. This was an extraordinarily prolific period, encompassing the shift from Middle English to...

Time and Nietzsche

When I was a young man Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche had a very poor reputation, especially in academic circles. He and his philosophy were clearly associated with the rise of German nationalism and creating the intellectual conditions in which Nazism...

History of English: Middle English

This second post in the series on the development of the English Language focuses on the period following the Norman conquest up to approximately 1500. The language of that time is now known as Middle English. Following the defeat of King Harold...

The history of English: Old English

This series was inspired by a post of that master of wit and mot juste, the inimitable, Perigo Minas. The post in question is entitled 'Talkin proper 'a 'at' should you wish to view it; and if you have not read it, I would recommend it. Indeed, I would...

English Variations Enigma

There has been some mention of late in posts and comments of linguistic variation and a friend specifically asked me about Yorkshire. I thought it might be of interest to translate my last post, which provided rules for writing detective stories, into...

Rules for detective stories

So, you want to write a detective story. But do you know the rules? Rules, I hear you exclaim in dismay. Yes, sorry, there are rules. But have no fear, worry not, here is my guide to the unwritten rules of writing detective fiction. 1. The...

A craftsman

Some people think of themselves as artists. For them the muse strikes, inspiration arrives, words flow. Such people do not have to worry themselves with the craft of writing. If others have difficulty or do not understand, the explanation is...

The Apprenticeship

What are skills and qualities and experiences necessary for high office? What would provide a suitable apprenticeship for someone who wished to be a leader of their people? Rather than attempt to answer such questions in a merely theoretical, abstract...

How the other half live - part twelve

This series has roamed from country to country, spanned the oceans and crossed the continents. This post, however, is rather closer to home. Literally. I was walking along a path the other day. Coming towards me was a group of people. A young...

A man of the people

People need stories. People need heroes. People like to meet both needs simultaneously. It is efficient; or, if you prefer a judgemental term, lazy. Anyhow, people tell stories, creating heroes out of even the most unpromising material. Consider...

Why do I cycle?

The other day, I was asked why I cycle. Before I could respond, my inquisitor began to answer his own question. It was as I listened to him that I realised why I cycle and the answer was not why I began cycling or have continued to do so, on and off,...

Taking religion seriously

Fellow none believers, and, as I know this forum, for some reason I have yet to fathom, is filled with believers, I address you also. Tell me have you ever taken the sacred scriptures and creeds seriously? To indicate what I mean: a human being was...

A lesson from history

The first Europeans to stumble across the land we know as Easter Island were baffled. What they found were three thousand people living in squalid conditions. They lived in reed huts or caves and were engaged in perpetual warfare. They practised...

Just how big was the ark?

I am wondering about the size of the ark that Noah built. According to the King James Bible, Noah was instructed to build an ark that was three hundred cubits in length and fifty cubits in width. There would have been internal divisions as Noah had...

Club Run - part sixteen

Birth Suite, he read as he turned yet another corner. By now Tom was completely disoriented. CBT meaninglessly proclaimed the next sign. It is as though the place has been designed by a slightly mad bureaucrat with an obsessive personality and a...

The art of spin

The word spin is a commonly used euphemism for lying. It is most closely associated in the public mind with the way politicians routinely misrepresent themselves, their opponents and the situation they are purportedly describing. However, the craft of...

Jihadism spreads across the globe

How widespread is the virus of Islamic jihadism? The question is, of course, impossible to answer beyond dispute. Jihadist has not yet been adopted as a census category. There is no official statistical data to answer the question. However, by looking...

On modernity

It is a fact of some sociological interest that certain themes repeatedly recur down the centuries in puritanical and charismatic movements. The view that the time of judgement is imminent is one such theme. In England, during the nineteenth...

Death of a Revolutionary

Felix Rodriguez, who was born into the former ruling elite of the Batista regime, was forced to earn a living by working for the Central Intelligence Agency. He had a long career and was involved in many disreputable, not to mention illegal, affairs. ...

Leaving out the glamour

Henry was not exactly what you might call a good man, but then he didn't have exactly what you might call an ideal start in life. He was born on the eve of the Civil War, in a poor Irish neighbourhood of New York. His mother was Catherine...

Winning the war in Iraq

I was reading a thread in the one of the forums. A number of Americans were arguing about whether or not they have won the war in Iraq. The way the debate went, the consensus of opinion was the troops had won the war, but Iraq is a mess due to Iraqis...

Karzai claims victory

President Karzai's campaign manager has claimed outright victory in the Afghan election. The Coalition forces have declared tcomplete satisfaction with the conduct of the election. However, whilst it is not yet known how many of the electorate voted,...

My Beliefs

What do I believe in? I have no beliefs. Yes, that's right. None. Why would I choose to believe? It makes no sense. The world contains far more than I could ever know, so why would I devote my time and effort to attempting to sustain beliefs?...

Downfall of a Paragon

Whenever one mentions Enoch Powell, it is the infamous 'rivers of blood' speech that invariably springs to mind. That single speech destroyed the career of one the country's most brilliant of politicians, and has now almost entirely obscured from view...

Who does this remind you of?

I posted about how Americans are misrepresenting the National Health Service. In response to a somewhat critical comment, I replied with, at one point, a hint of sarcasm. That sarcasm has inspired this post. When you watch the first video, just ask...