No further from our offices at The Times than the northern reaches of our own country, a crisis is unfolding that’s bigger than Brexit. It could even bring violent civil conflict to one of our more important European allies, and threaten the very existence of the kingdom of Spain.
Relations between Catalonia and the rest of Spain are at breaking point.
Democratic politics in the Iberian peninsula has seized up due to a catastrophic failure of the leaderships of both the Spanish and Catalan governments. Political midgets and tinpot nationalists on both sides have puffed themselves into an entirely avoidable High Noon and nobody has the statesmanship or courage to block their ears to the cheers of the mob and lead their deluded followers back to safety.… Seguir leyendo »
Cryogenics grabs attention, and the story in yesterday’s Times about a dying teenager’s wish to be frozen grabbed mine. How could it not? A brave young woman; a desperate hope; a parental split about whether her corpse should be frozen . . . this is the stuff of nightmares and dreams.
Since long before H G Wells, science fiction has engaged us not only through the thrill of the fantastical but because unchaining the imagination unchains us to wonder where we’re going. The judge’s ruling in this case fell short of large speculations: he said that the issue was not cryonic preservation but a family dispute about a daughter’s wishes.… Seguir leyendo »
When I die, and if I have to arrange it myself, I will consult nobody, and do it unassisted if I can. I entertain not a flicker of moral or practical doubt on the subject, and never have. Speaking only for myself — in such matters one should never judge for others — if Nature does not do the job in a timely manner I shall consider it a duty to take matters into my own hands. For me it would be wretched, self-defeating, selfish, irrational, inefficient and pointlessly extravagant to live beyond the time when I am useful, or life is fun.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s time to stop striking poses over Afghanistan. Too many on both sides of this argument are getting hooked on sweeping statements — and I don’t exclude myself from that.
Among the No Turning Back (NTB) brigade the lazy remark is that our boys are risking their lives and must have everything their commanders request. “We cannot will the end,” cry the brigade, “without willing the means!” Cue a chorus of stout hear-hears. If more helicopters are needed, find them. If more armoured vehicles would save soldiers’ lives, produce them. If troop reinforcements would make the task easier, send them.
To this way of thinking, war requires politicians to step back and defer to the military.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s important not to understand. It’s important not to learn. In the total buggeration into which the world’s help for Afghanistan has now descended, it’s important not to know too much. Accept that somebody some day may understand, but it isn’t going to be you. Somebody some day may grab the Gordian knot and cut it, but it isn’t going to be us. Know only that. To know more is to know less.
It so happens that my week as Nato/Isaf’s guest here in Afghanistan has coincided with some big stories coming out of the country. There are battles; there are kidnappings; there came sad news of the deaths of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe and Trooper Joshua Hammond.… Seguir leyendo »
Sitting in the shade of a walnut tree in the mountains of Lebanon, I’m reading to my hiking companions David Cameron’s statement on Tory MPs’ expenses. In the glare, I squint at the BlackBerry. Birds sing – goldfinches, cuckoos, larks.
“…George Osborne’s particularly expensive car journey… pipe under Oliver Letwin’s tennis court…”
The sky is a particularly intense blue and, from a pipe under our cart track, a spring-fed mountain stream gurgles; there is snow on distant peaks.
“…David Willetts’s electrical bill..” It’s no use. My companions aren’t listening. The pass from Maaser el Shouf to Niha calls.
Lebanon is friendly and (now) safe.… Seguir leyendo »