politics

Against sport

August 12, 2022 8 Comments
Against sport

My title will offend, I know.  Almost as much as would a blog of 1800, if one existed, that carried the title ‘Against religion’.  But bear with me, even if sport is your religion.  I want to argue, why, contrary to a virtually unquestioned consensus, I think the current fetishisation of competitive sport is a […]

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Tlodi, nawr a ddoe

June 17, 2022 0 Comments
Tlodi, nawr a ddoe

Beth yw tlodi?  Am flynyddoedd bellach fe’i diffinnir yn y wlad hon fel ‘tlodi cymharol’.  Hynny yw, dych chi’n dlawd os ydych chi’n derbyn incwm sy’n 60% yn is nag incwm cyfartal pobl eich cymuned.  Dyw hi ddim yn syndod clywed fod tlodi o’r math hwn yn cynyddu ers blynyddoedd, wrth i anghyfartaledd godi, a […]

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Conscience wakes?

June 10, 2022 2 Comments
Conscience wakes?

Of the many analogies used to make sense of Boris Johnson’s inglorious reign, the circus is probably the commonest.  No ordinary circus, of course, but one where witless acrobats fall headlong from their tightropes, lions run amok and maul defenceless children, the ringmaster sulks in his tent, surrounded by cans of lager and lines of […]

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Swansea and Chile: exploitation, sanctuary, fulfilment

May 6, 2022 0 Comments
Swansea and Chile: exploitation, sanctuary, fulfilment

The Glynn Vivian has a show of work from its collection on the theme ‘art and industry’.  It’s full of wonderful and thought-provoking things: well-known paintings as well as much less familiar items on paper and in other media.  A whole wall is taken up with Josef Herman’s massive ‘Miners’ oil painting of 1951, surely […]

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Dear Rowan, dear Laura

April 8, 2022 0 Comments
Dear Rowan, dear Laura

What sort of country do we want Wales to be in future?  Rowan Williams and Laura McAllister have recently invited us to answer that question.  They are the joint chairs of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, a group set up in 2021 by the Welsh Government to come up with options […]

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A short letter to Priti Patel

March 10, 2022 10 Comments
A short letter to Priti Patel

Dear Priti Patel I’m writing to you with a simple request: to search your conscience.  Just to avoid doubt, I don’t mean your political calculus.  You don’t need any encouragement to exercise that.  No, I mean your personal moral conscience. As the UK Home Secretary and a senior member of the UK government you’re responsible […]

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Sir Boris Walpole and the cartoonists

January 29, 2022 0 Comments
Sir Boris Walpole and the cartoonists

It’s a commonplace that since George Osborne set in motion the immiseration of poor people, through his programme of austerity and big cuts in benefits, Britain has seemed to regress to the time of our Victorian ancestors.  ‘Poor laws’, and the nineteenth century distinction between deserving and undeserving poor, are back with us, and so […]

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Beyond shame and guilt

January 14, 2022 4 Comments
Beyond shame and guilt

When I was a young student and easily impressed by big theory, I was struck by a book by E.R. Dodds called The Greeks and the irrational.  Its origin was a series of lectures Dodd gave in California in 1949.  Or, going further back, a conversation he’d had, while studying the Parthenon sculptures in the […]

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Albania: from Stalin’s knees to pyramid schemes

December 11, 2021 0 Comments
Albania: from Stalin’s knees to pyramid schemes

Lea Ypi’s Free: coming of age at the end of history, published in 2021, is a very unusual book.  It’s at once a rite-of-passage memoir – Lea is around eight or nine years old at the start and is about to leave school for university at the end – and a child’s view of one […]

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What are museums for?

December 4, 2021 3 Comments
What are museums for?

The 2021 Richard Burton Lecture in Swansea University was given this week by David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru (‘Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’, to give it its hyper-awkward formal name).  His title was ‘Do Welsh museums matter?’  It was a learned and a challenging talk, raising crucial questions about the role of […]

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