Life imitating Art imitating Life

by Kieran Healy on May 24, 2006

My brain asplode.

Kate Rusby and….Ronan Keating?

by Harry on May 24, 2006

I took Little Lights out of the local library a couple of years ago on the way to pick up my daughter. I was almost late; hearing Kate Rusby singing “Withered and Died” had me almost in tears and I had to pull of the road to compose myself. I don’t think there is a more beautiful voice in popular music than hers; better even than Christine Collister‘s. Oh, except that neither of them are singers of popular music; they are folk singers; Rusby more so than Collister.

Until now, it appears. Kate Rusby teaming up with Ronan Keating is the most unlikely thing to happen in popular music since Robbie Williams simultaneously plagiarised Woody Guthrie and Loudon Wainwright III. The single comes out in the UK on Monday, and Radio 2 has already decided to make it a hit. If I could buy stock in a singer, it would be Rusby. And if I wanted to appear to be cool I’d stock up on all her records (UK)… except that I’ve no interest at all in seeming cool, and I’ve already stocked up.

Subsidising Public/State Education

by Harry on May 24, 2006

Alison Wolf had an interesting piece on the consequences of women entering the workforce in April’s Prospect; May’s issue has responses by Rosemary Crompton and Pat Thane (all free I think) with a reply by Wolf in the June issue.

Wolf notes three supposedly neglected consequences:

Three consequences get far less attention than they deserve. The first is the death of sisterhood: an end to the millennia during which women of all classes shared the same major life experiences to a far greater degree than did their men. The second is the erosion of “female altruism,” the service ethos which has been profoundly important to modern industrial societies—particularly in the education of their young, and the care of their old and sick. The third is the impact of employment change on childbearing. We are familiar with the prospect of demographic decline, yet we ignore, sometimes wilfully, the extent to which educated women face disincentives to bear children.

Thane argues that women never had the similar experience that Wolf claims, and Crompton that neoliberalism, rather than any moral decline in women, is to blame for the deline in altruism. Wolf, I think, gives a pretty good account of herself in the reply.

You can make up your minds by reading the pieces. But I wanted to highlight a point not in dispute between the authors, and that I think Wolf and other people who think a good deal about education take for granted, but is not widely appreciated beyond that world; that restrictions on women’s participation in the labour market constituted a massive subsidy to public education:

[click to continue…]

The last of the sceptics

by John Quiggin on May 24, 2006

As the formal release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change draws nearer, quite a few skeptics have been going public to say that the evidence is now overwhelming. Here, for example, is Michael Shermer, who, appropriately enough, writes the Skeptic column for the Scientific American. He’s no fan of eco-alarmism, but he is a skeptic in the true sense of the term – someone who demands convincing evidence but is willing, when presented with such evidence to change their views. And here’s Sir David Attenborough.

There may still be a few more such announcements to come. But it’s clear by now that the evidence is more than enough to convince genuine sceptics. Those who refuse to accept overwhelming evidence are more correctly described as denialists.

[click to continue…]