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What is the rational response?

Malcolm Bull: Climate Change Ethics, 24 May 2012

A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change 
by Stephen Gardiner.
Oxford, 512 pp., £22.50, July 2011, 978 0 19 537944 0
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... deferred that we must act decisively now. Are these demands reasonable? They might be if – as James Hansen, one of the founders of climate science, has claimed – it is ‘our last chance to save humanity’. But is it? Any change in temperature will inevitably benefit some species and harm others, so it probably is the last chance to save those adapted ...

What Works Doesn’t Work

Ross McKibbin: Politics without Ideas, 11 September 2008

... at low levels. The reasons for doing this were, first, the belief that inflation was the principal blight on the economy and that controlling it would guarantee perpetual trouble-free growth; and, second, that trouble-free growth could best be achieved by handing over the setting of interest rates to an ‘objective’ authority like the Bank – and if it ...

No False Modesty

Rosemary Hill: Edith Sitwell, 20 October 2011

Edith Sitwell: Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius 
by Richard Greene.
Virago, 532 pp., £25, March 2011, 978 1 86049 967 8
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... very large empty omnibuses on very small wheels’ offered little sympathy. The worst blight of her upbringing, however, was, by her own account, her mother’s violent temper – the sudden unpredictable rages of which her daughter was the main object. Against the staid routine of county society the Sitwell parents’ peculiarities blazed all the ...

A Country Emptied

Ian Jack: The Highland Clearances, 7 March 2019

The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 464 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 30410 5
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... most of those that had gone before were lost to history’. But first came the potato blight. In 1846, the crop is said to have failed in three-quarters of Highland parishes, and starving people began to die of typhus, dysentery and influenza. A large-scale famine of the kind that claimed a million victims in Ireland around the same time was ...

Rodinsky’s Place

Patrick Wright, 29 October 1987

White Chappell: Scarlet Tracings 
by Iain Sinclair.
Goldmark, 210 pp., £12.50, October 1987, 1 870507 00 2
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... and educated as a doctor, his son William turns up at Guy’s Hospital playing hand to the mind of James Hinton – a surgeon in whose philosophy the Ripper’s role as ‘time’s abortionist’ is first outlined. White Chappell is preoccupied by the Ripper murders, but Sinclair is not seeking to trace out the true identity of the Ripper: a question still ...

That Disturbing Devil

Ferdinand Mount: Land Ownership, 8 May 2014

Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership 
by Andro Linklater.
Bloomsbury, 482 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 4088 1574 8
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... private property was beginning to produce the economic goods, it fell under an ideological blight. Proudhon’s thunderous pronouncement that ‘Property is theft’ hit the popular imagination in 1840, just as white men were sweeping the natives off their ancestral lands all over the globe. To many, this looked like a replay of the destruction of the ...

If I Turn and Run

Iain Sinclair: In Hoxton, 1 June 2000

by Bill Drummond.
Little, Brown, 361 pp., £12.99, March 2000, 0 316 85385 2
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Crucify Me Again 
by Mark Manning.
Codex, 190 pp., £8.95, May 2000, 0 18 995814 6
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... On Hoxton Square, if anyone cares to notice it, is a blue plaque for the local physician, James Parkinson, who identified and described the neurological disease that carries his name. But now, with ever increasing speed, the memory traces of market gardens, madhouses, priories, holy wells, 19th-century radicalism, are being wiped out by the new ...

A Hit of Rus in Urbe

Iain Sinclair: In Lea Valley, 27 June 2002

... decide if our expedition is asking the right questions. The land is too anonymous, no major blight, a steady stream of ‘I-Spy’ water fowl. Fish corpses (nothing more exciting than white-bellied carp). I think we can assume that we have penetrated the Lea Valley’s recreational zone. Boats. Wet suits. Easy access to the North Circular Road, the ...


Seamus Perry: Ted Hughes, 29 August 2013

Poet and Critic: The Letters of Ted Hughes and Keith Sagar 
edited by Keith Sagar.
British Library, 340 pp., £25, May 2013, 978 0 7123 5862 0
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Ted and I: A Brother’s Memoir 
by Gerald Hughes.
Robson, 240 pp., £16.99, October 2012, 978 1 84954 389 7
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... to see each year how warmly and spontaneously students endorse Blake’s attack on the spiritual blight of materialism and rationalism and experimental science, even as a MacBook Air purrs away beneath their fingertips; but it would be unfair to scold them for picking up what is so pervasive a cast of the literary mind. The more sophisticated will cite ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... Odd Man Out, which was released in 1947. Bethnal Green masquerades as an expressionist Belfast. James Mason is an IRA gunman on the run. Twenty years later, his Hollywood career in decline, Mason returned once more to an East End of smoky pubs, dark shadows, charity hostels, to narrate a documentary version of Geoffrey Fletcher’s The London Nobody ...

The Things We Throw Away

Andrew O’Hagan: The Garbage of England, 24 May 2007

... Waste Authority and the private waste management company SITA UK. Far from admitting to being a blight, Edmonton sees itself as a model of regulation, boasting that ‘the official fireworks display on Millennium Night was equivalent to over a century of dioxin emissions from our plant.’ In 1996, the plant invested £15 million in gas cleaning equipment ...

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