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Forget the Klingons

James Hamilton-Paterson: Is there anybody out there?

6 March 2003
Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life 
by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart.
Ebury, 369 pp., £17.99, September 2002, 0 09 187927 2
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XTL: Extraterrestrial Life and How to Find It 
by Simon Goodwin and John Gribbin.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £12.99, August 2002, 1 84188 193 7
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... extraterrestrial life-forms should be known not as ‘astrobiology’ but as ‘xenoscience’. They are combative on this point, and so united that they frequently refer to themselves as ‘Jack&Ian’. To this winsome dyad the notion of astrobiology is limiting in that it stands for astronomy as seen from Earth plus Earth-style biology, so that its thinking is governed by anthropic concerns ...

Be mean and nasty

Jenny Diski: Shirley Porter’s Story

25 May 2006
Nothing like a Dame: The Scandals of Shirley Porter 
by Andrew Hosken.
Granta, 372 pp., £20, March 2006, 1 86207 809 2
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... cost-cutting, commercially-minded, unsentimental head, just as the nation had been doing since 1979. Porter was Margaret Thatcher’s mini-me; they were even both the daughters of grocers, though JackCohen’s Tesco proved to be a more lasting success than Alderman Roberts’s shop in Grantham. Porter rode high in public and party esteem thanks to a passionately media-friendly campaign to clear ...
8 June 1995
Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend 
Chicago, 192 pp., £18.25, June 1995, 0 226 24531 4Show More
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... story’, a ‘fairy tale’. This ‘storytelling’ interpretation is now highly popular among philosophers of science. Indeed, it’s popular even among some scientists. In The Collapse of Chaos, JackCohen (a biologist) and Ian Stewart (a mathematician) argue that the laws of nature are not ‘true’ in any real sense: ‘Our prized laws of nature are not ultimate truths, just rather well ...


James Harkin: Tweet for the CIA!

2 December 2010
Death to the Dictator! Witnessing Iran’s Election and the Crippling of the Islamic Republic 
by Afsaneh Moqadam.
Bodley Head, 134 pp., £10.99, May 2010, 978 1 84792 146 8
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The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom 
by Evgeny Morozov.
Allen Lane, 408 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 1 84614 353 3
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Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran 
by Annabelle Sreberny and Gholam Khiabany.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84511 607 1
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... On a balmy evening in April 2009 Barham Salih, then deputy prime minister of Iraq, sat in the garden of his Baghdad villa while a young internet entrepreneur called Jack Dorsey tried to persuade him that he needed to be on Twitter. Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, was in Baghdad at the invitation of the State Department. Over the previous three days, he and eight ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bo yakasha.

4 January 2001
... study, is due from Oxford in March. The condition has been dismissed by at least one anonymous ‘notable scientist’ as ‘romantic neurology’, but in the foreword to Synaesthesia, Simon Baron-Cohen says: this book will do much to educate the general public about the important but often overlooked point that we do not all experience this universe in the same way. For the most part, synaesthetes ...

Benetton Ethics

Nick Cohen: Treachery at the FO

2 July 1998
First Annual Report on Human Rights 
by Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
56 pp., April 1998
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The Great Deception 
by Mark Curtis.
Pluto, 272 pp., £14.99, June 1998, 0 7453 1234 9
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... as Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown’s spin doctor, put it when I remarked a few weeks after the new dawn broke that it was difficult to know whether there had been a change of government: ‘Bollocks, Cohen. What about the landmines?’ What about the landmines? On 12 May Robin Cook announced the Government’s first leftward shift. Labour would abandon Tory foreign policy, whose futile cynicism had ...

The President’s Alternate

Fredrik Logevall: Bobby Kennedy

17 May 2017
Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon 
by Larry Tye.
Ballantine, 624 pp., £15.58, May 2017, 978 0 8129 8350 0
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... to the civil rights movement, from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Vietnam War. We want to know this man, who was his brother’s right hand and alter ego, who fell into depression following Jack’s assassination in November 1963 only to pick himself up and carry on, and who was himself cut down just as he was reaching for the ultimate political prize. Biographers often speak of his having a ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation

7 September 2016
... In​ the Beat constellation, Allen Ginsberg’s star now shines more brightly than the rest. True, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs glowed on in the aftermath of On the Road (1957) and Naked Lunch (1959); Brion Gysin, inventor of the cut-up technique, is still visible on a clear night. But the ...


Thomas Jones: The Last Days of eBay

19 June 2008
... level playing field. Thanks to the auction system, ‘the seller would by definition get the market price for the item, whatever that might be on a particular day,’ Omidyar told the journalist Adam Cohen.3 Whatever the motivation, Omidyar wrote the code for AuctionWeb, as it was originally called, over the Labor Day weekend in 1995. His Silicon Valley day job was at a company called General Magic, a ...

So-so Skinny Latte

James Francken: Giles Foden’s Zanzibar

19 September 2002
by Giles Foden.
Faber, 389 pp., £12.99, September 2002, 0 571 20512 7
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... all the goings-on, worried that the justification for the bombings is a cop-out. One by one, politicians appear on CNN to lend support to American actions: Clinton, his Defense Secretary, William Cohen, and the National Security Director, Sandy Berger, all have their moment, as Foden annexes real-life speech. Berger’s explanation of the advantages of long-range missiles – they avoid ‘giving ...

Regular Terrors

Alison Light: Window-Smashing Suffragettes

25 January 2007
Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote 
by Jill Liddington.
Virago, 402 pp., £14.99, May 2006, 1 84408 168 0
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... Park racecourse, was force-fed nearly two hundred times in prison.) Not all of those in Jill Liddington’s account of the militant years were rebel ‘girls’ – except metaphorically. Leonora Cohen, for instance, was nearly forty when she hurled an iron bar (filed down from a domestic fire-grate) at a display case in the Jewel Room at the Tower of London. Unlike Lenton, Mrs Cohen was a ...

Bad White Men

Christopher Tayler: James Ellroy

19 July 2001
The Cold Six Thousand 
by James Ellroy.
Century, 672 pp., £16.99, April 2001, 0 7126 4817 8
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... with the Los Angeles setting, American Tabloid abandoned the police-procedural and psycho-killer conventions of Ellroy’s LA books. Jimmy Hoffa, Carlos Marcello and Sam Giancana took the place of Jack Dragna and Mickey Cohen; the McClellan Committee, FBI and CIA replaced the City and County cops; and Nixon, the Kennedys and Castro took over from the DA and the Mayor’s offices. As for the public ...

We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed

5 February 2015
Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... living in caves’. As part of Clinton’s ‘smart power’ agenda, the US would reclaim online space by creating alliances with high-tech entrepreneurs. The crucial figure in this project was Jared Cohen, a Condoleezza Rice protégé who served as a senior adviser in both the Rice and Clinton State Departments. Cohen’s chief achievement was to promote the power of social media in the Iranian ...
30 November 1995
The New Untouchables: Immigration and the New World Worker 
by Nigel Harris.
Tauris, 256 pp., £25, October 1995, 1 85043 956 7
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The Cambridge Survey of World Migration 
edited by Robin Cohen.
Cambridge, 570 pp., £75, November 1995, 0 521 44405 5
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... Labour may be soft on immigration. The electorate may be scared away from its obvious intention, even at this late hour, by the prospect of hordes of foreigners being seduced into the country by Jack Straw. Several ministers, some for lack of any other strategy, some out of an instinctive xenophobia, press the Prime Minister to ‘play the race card’. The hawks on this subject are the two ...

The Long War

Andrew Bacevich: Motives behind the Surge

26 March 2009
The Gamble: General Petraeus and the Untold Story of the American Surge in Iraq 
by Thomas E. Ricks.
Allen Lane, 394 pp., £25, February 2009, 978 1 84614 145 4
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... United States in the war’. Donnelly was not alone in his belief that the US had to ‘stay the course’ in Iraq. He was joined by academics with privileged access to policy circles, notably Eliot Cohen at Johns Hopkins; mid-grade military officers such as Peter Mansoor and Tom Greenwood, who were members of a ‘council of colonels’ convened to assess the war for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS ...

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