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My first Conservative Party Conference

My first Conservative Party Conference

This week I attended my first ever Conservative Party Conference (for that matter, my first ever political conference). As a civil servant, these had been strictly off limits, a banned political activity as mysterious and transgressive as they come, so it was with particular excitement that I headed up to Birmingham on Saturday. Some people, like me, may have absorbed a number of myths about the Conference, based on media reporting; namely, that it is expensive, that it is overly…

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Wonkhe: A Hierarchy of Purposes in Higher Education

Wonkhe: A Hierarchy of Purposes in Higher Education

My latest Wonkhe article looks at the various purposes fulfilled by higher education and concludes that it’s time to make receiving a degree conditional upon passing a basic national test in Maths and English. Read the full article here: A hierarchy of purposes in higher education

D&D Political Alignments

D&D Political Alignments

YouGov recently put out the results of a poll which had attempted to classify the UK population in terms of D&D Alignment. Whilst an awesome concept, it did also produce a few peculiar results, mainly because of the way it relied on self-classification to determine alignment; nevertheless, it makes interesting and amusing reading. This prompted me to classify political ideologies by D&D alignment, with the following result:       Lawful Good   Conservatism       Neutral Good  …

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Two Charlies

Two Charlies

I recently reread Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. It’s fascinating that for two books that are so similar – same author, same series, same length, similar vocabulary levels and sentence structure – there are still several features of the latter  that make it a noticeable, if small, step up in difficulty. Most obviously, Chocolate Factory has 30 chapters while Elevator only has 20.  As the books are the same length, chapters in Elevator…

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A University Challenge Ranking

A University Challenge Ranking

Many football fans have a complex system of which team to support in any given match, based on a wide variety of factors that may appear arbitrary and inpenetrable to the outsider, but internally to them makes complete sense. I have a similar system for determining which team to support in University Challenge. This entirely serious in every way and not at at all arbitrary ranking is as follows: – Christ’s College, Cambridge – Emmanuel College, Cambridge – Bath Spa…

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A Better Secondary School History Curriculum

A Better Secondary School History Curriculum

There are three years of compulsory history in secondary school. That’s just nine terms. If history at primary school is about awakening the love of learning, and more advanced study is about in-depth study and the development of historiographical skills, the best way of using these three years is by ensuring that everyone who goes through them as a broad overview of the sweep of human history and how different historical events and their legacy contribute to making the world…

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Postmodernism and the Devil

Postmodernism and the Devil

“Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law! More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that! More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not…

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Book Review: World Order by Henry Kissinger

Book Review: World Order by Henry Kissinger

‘Magisterial’ and ‘epic’ are all words that come to mind to describe Kissinger’s magnum opus, written in 2014 when he was 91. Certainly a book that begins a consideration of the modern international order with a detailed analysis of the Thirty Years War deserves that description – but what is more impressive, is that Kissinger then goes on to consider similar seminal moments in the history of other nations, including China, Russia, the US and the Islamic world. As the…

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Chesterton’s Poetry

Chesterton’s Poetry

Chesterton is one of my favourite authors; an author of which I’ll read almost anything he wrote, regardless of what it is. His writing catches you up with his wonderfully lyrical style, filled with memorable quotes, and even when you’re disagreeing with him, you can’t help but admire the majesty of his argument. He was tremendously prolific, writing “80 books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays.” Some of the best known of his works…

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A Tourist’s Guide to New Orleans

A Tourist’s Guide to New Orleans

A friend recently asked me for some advice on what to see and do when visiting New Orleans. I know the city fairly well – my Dad’s whole family lives there so I’ve visited 25-30 times – so I ended up writing rather a lot, which I thought I may as well post here. New Orleans is an absolutely fantastic city to visit. The best things about it in my book are the swamps, the jazz and the food, all…

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