‘The Hard Conversation’ is what happens when a doctor reveals to a patient the no longer avoidable truth. But perhaps society should also have a hard conversation about the limits of medical science and the desirability of providing not infinite life but a decent end of life.
To prosper, the solitary animals of the jungle must ruthlessly pursue their own biological priorities. The social animals of the plain have the same drives but their brains must also identify situations where group interests override individual ones, and act accordingly.
The latest volume of studies from the Friends of Medieval Dublin benefits greatly from the efforts of many young scholars, more adept at moving across disciplinary boundaries and methodologies than were some of the heroes of the first generation who fought for Wood Quay.
The question we will face in the coming years is whether we can trust governments in Ireland to take wise budgetary decisions that are in the wider, long-term interests of citizens rather than in the narrow, short-term interests of politicians, lobby groups and powerful banks
Mike Goldsmith’s engaging grand tour of the world of noise takes us from the (silent) “Big Bang” and the general quiet of pre-historic times to contemporary problems of noise pollution. An enjoyable read, full of insight and wit, it is a model of what popular science writing should do.
The early 1950s voyages of William S Burroughs to Peru led to his discovery of the hallucinogenic vine yagé and issued in a book of notes and letters to his friend Allen Ginsberg in which he presented himself not only as a mystic and spiritual quester but also as a whistleblower on the activities of the Cold War superpowers.
Few now believe that the positions of the high and the lowly are ordained by God, but the increasingly entrenched political defenders of the super-rich still maintain that massive inequality is in the nature of things and must at all costs be preserved. As Gore Vidal said and Thomas Piketty’s study confirms, it’s not enough to succeed – others must fail.
An academic discipline based on idealised economic systems which permit the application of a great deal of theoretical sophistication has produced cohorts of graduates with little knowledge of history or the real world. These idiot savants can manipulate mathematical models but have little to contribute to actual business practice or economic management.
There are opposing views on what judges do, the realist school maintaining that they can be legislators, not bound by convention and precedent but making law based on their idea of utility, while the formalist school urges them to make wise, limited decisions which will serve justice and fairness and preserve the rule of law.