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December 15, 2014

38 Comments

The Improper Subjects

As an undergraduate I remember getting so frustrated at a mandatory Political Science course that I complained to the Dean of Studies that the subject was not a ‘real’ one, not a ‘proper’ subject. Asked to explain what a ‘proper’ subject was I uttered something to the effect that it wasn’t eternal, that in fifty years the knowledge […]

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December 7, 2014

81 Comments

In Praise of Repression

I once attended a Jungian workshop and found myself uncharacteristically emoting in front of a roomful of strangers. In retrospect I was probably just acting out what was expected of me as I usually have a rather British ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude to expressing feelings. I recognize, however, that this attitude has long since been […]

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December 1, 2014

49 Comments

My Strange Friends

Once upon a time, I lived in Oxford, England and browsed second-hand bookshops in streets reminiscent of Diagon Alley. Nobody browses now. Most such bookshops have either closed or moved online, and the few that are left have customers with neither the time nor the inclination for an activity motivated solely by the hope of a […]

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November 20, 2014

77 Comments

Declaring War on War

During the first five years of drone operations in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, more than 2,400 people have died, and according to the most reliable estimates, the civilian casualty rate has been eight to seventeen percent. Earlier this year Obama told the New Yorker that he “wrestles” with civilian casualties, but, he said he has: […]

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November 15, 2014

36 Comments

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

“… one hundred thousand people may have died from yesterday’s tsunami off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.” “Turn the volume up darling.” “What time do I have to pick up Jennifer?” “Terrible, that earthquake. After 5.” “It was the tsunami, did you see the video?” “Most of it. I feel so sorry for all […]

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November 9, 2014

1 Comment

Paper Bag Treasure

Originally posted on A Holistic Journey:
We had recently moved to a better part of London to ensure that my brother and I could attend a decent school. Dad was a London cabbie, the kind that drove one of those large black London taxis in the era before the Uber invasion. He would usually drive…

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November 8, 2014

41 Comments

That Cad Socrates

In my youth Socrates was my hero, an intellectual superman, questioning everyone and everything, and his dignified but unjust death at the hands of the Athenians made him my favorite  ‘good guy’ in history. Now, older and humbler, I am not so sure. Antifragile:Things That Gain from Disorder, the latest book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, contains an […]

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October 19, 2014

36 Comments

Love, Passion, Reason and Marriage

  Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), the founder of modern liberal feminism, was also a serious philosopher, anonymously writing a Vindication of the Rights of Men in 1790, the first counter to Edmund Burke’s treatise on the dangers of the French Revolution. But it was her Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with her name appearing on the […]

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May 11, 2014

39 Comments

Bitcoin and Freedom

On this morning’s run around Lake Merced I noticed a red balloon struggling to gain elevation before reaching the open skies. Suddenly, without notice it was snagged by the branches of a tree, but it struggled valiantly, aided by gentle gusts of wind until it finally managed to free itself and soared away over the water. I […]

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April 16, 2014

39 Comments

Radiation Oncology

It’s Passover and after four glasses of wine I was determined to write an uplifting post, but I recently discovered something I had written many years ago during a dark period of my life. It’s not uplifting but I thought it worth sharing in the spirit of thankfulness. _________________ “Thank God I don’t have to […]

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March 29, 2014

43 Comments

Dying To Live

  I have spent the last three weeks watching someone I love die horribly. It is over. We cannot choose the way we die, only the way we live, so I flew home yesterday and used the time to reflect on another way  we might be said to die. Life is lived at the edge. […]

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March 15, 2014

40 Comments

Visiting The Gates Of Hell

I am writing this post on my phone, in a waiting room, just outside the gates of hell, and I’m delighted not to have been invited in. This particular hell is an English intensive care unit (ICU) and all the patients inside are in constant pain or extreme discomfort, and have either been or are very close […]

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February 9, 2014

29 Comments

Is The Ocean In The Bone Vault Only The Bone Vault’s Ocean?

My friend from Asia has powers and magic, he plucks a blue leaf from the young blue-gum And gazing upon it, gathering and quieting The God in his mind, creates an ocean more real than the ocean, the salt, the actual Appalling presence, the power of the waters. He believes that nothing is real except […]

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February 1, 2014

50 Comments

What Does It Feel Like To Lose One’s Mind?

Someone I love (let’s call him RT) is scared he is losing his mind and, given certain behavioral characteristics since childhood, he may be right. He is currently in a psychiatric hospital, a location which, to my naïve and unprofessional mind, is a sure way to speed the process of complete detachment from the wider […]

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January 26, 2014

36 Comments

The Person You Divorce Is Not The Same Person You Married

The title of this post applies to anyone you are going to war with through the court system. It could be your spouse or even your business partner, but at the end of the day you will not think he or she is the same person you knew before, and the likelihood is that they […]

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January 19, 2014

53 Comments

Life is Not a Dream But Much of it is Built on Illusion

Life is not a dream but much of it is built on illusion. Our thoughts like to run in safe, accustomed grooves, without crossing the chasms of paradox and subtlety necessary to understand the real world. For example, although wealth accumulation is not necessarily a zero-sum game it’s still true that the prosperity of one […]

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January 11, 2014

25 Comments

‘Parade’s End’, A ‘Downton Abbey’ For Grown Ups

I have just finished reading what is, perhaps, one of the greatest 20th century novels in the English language. The author, Ford Madox Ford, is certainly not unknown, particularly as Parade’s End came out as a successful BBC miniseries in 2012, with the protagonist played by Benedict Cumberbatch. However Ford Madox Ford is certainly not a […]

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January 2, 2014

30 Comments

Poverty, Dignity and Happiness

On New Year’s Eve my teenage daughter wrote me a card which said, among other things: “Thank you for being my dive partner! I love our crazy adventures, in or out of the sea. You’re my adventurer! I know we have our silly squabbles, but I love you to the moon and back and we […]

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December 22, 2013

46 Comments

Sex Twice A Day

When I first read Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships (henceforth referred to as Dawn) everything appeared to fit into place. It seemed to tie together all the random thoughts I have had over the years about marriage, the nature of sexual jealously and the role […]

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December 13, 2013

40 Comments

The Smile That Redeemed The Human Race

Many years ago, in a different lifetime, I was hurting emotionally because of the actions of someone I loved. The exact cause is irrelevant. My face clearly showed anguish. As I was driving along I stopped at some lights and another car containing two young women stopped, facing me in the other direction. One of […]

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November 25, 2013

22 Comments

The Peregrine: Escaping the Human Perspective

Most nature writing is understandably from the human perspective, how nature affects us, the challenges it presents and what benefits we can obtain from it. The problem with this approach is that we cannot escape the constraints of language, and our stories about literature, religion, poetry, philosophy and drama tend rather to emphasize our separateness […]

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November 18, 2013

37 Comments

The New Silence

Before our local Borders bookstore closed I used to wonder why so many students would choose the ‘silence’ of its noisy café to do their homework. Visit your bustling local coffee bar and you will see it full of people who have chosen to do work that they need to concentrate on. Many of us […]

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November 13, 2013

12 Comments

Our Visit From An Earth Mother

Last week our family’s house guest was an Earth Mother. She actually lives in a wind-swept land of magic and music but says that she comes from nowhere in particular. Sometimes as invisible as an experienced couch surfer and sometimes larger than life, she appears to be completely self-contained, having the ability to find stillness […]

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October 27, 2013

45 Comments

What Is Your Relationship With Your Future Self?

Most of my financial planning clients feel strongly that they are willing to forgo present consumption for the sake of future consumption i.e. they are willing to make sacrifices now to ensure a financially secure retirement for themselves in the future. However, a few have no desire to make this sacrifice and simply don’t feel […]

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October 16, 2013

40 Comments

Are We Just Naked Apes?

While on a scuba diving course last weekend I was told, quite correctly, that in the marine world we are guests, and as over 70 percent of the world’s surface is covered by water it’s presumptuous of us to call the planet ‘earth’, rather than say, ‘oceania’. The instructional video also talked about our delicate […]

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September 29, 2013

42 Comments

The Myth of the Dark Ages

I recently watched Agora, the movie about Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in late 4th century Roman Egypt. In the film Hypatia struggles to save the Great Library of Alexandria from destruction and is finally murdered by Christian bigots. The film suggests what Stephen Greenblatt clearly states in his book, The Swerve: How the World Became […]

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