John Sutherland

Dan Jacobson: A ‘demi-alien’ who shed many skins

John Sutherland pays tribute to novelist, critic and academic Dan Jacobson, who broke the literary mould.

English is, literally, going to pot

It’s not, like, acceptable that the language is being mangled for the sake of expediency. But whatever.

The last of the great critics

Frank Kermode, Britain's foremost literary critic, tells John Sutherland why English literature needs to become a tough subject again.

The happiness factor

Richard Reeves is a business analyst and co-founder of Intelligence Agency, an ideas consultancy. One of his biggest-selling ideas is happiness -- or, as some would put it, “joyology''. Reeves was a member of the team that recently set itself the heroic task of bringing happiness to the English town of Slough, as a BBC TV experiment.

‘There’s cheap, green energy out there’

Mark Jaccard's advice on climate change, the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels and the end of civilisation as we know it is: "Don't panic." But he is not an out-of-touch climate-change denier. He is an expert on long-term energy issues who, for 10 years, advised the Chinese government on energy policy.

Ideology at war in Israel

The vitriol Jacqueline Rose' ideas have provoked is, perhaps, more startling than the ideas themselves. After Rose spoke on the winning side in a public debate on Zionism in January, British columnist Melanie Phillips -- one of the speakers on the losing side -- described her as one of ''hree Jewish persecutors of Israel who strutted their repellent stuff''.

Enhancing the human race

The Boys from Brazil is one of Julian Savulescu's favourite movies. That would not raise an eyebrow, were it not for the fact that his main interest as Uehiro professor of practical ethics at Oxford University is ''biological enhancement'' -- also known as ''the new eugenics''. Savulescu's views on cloning and the improvement of the body have caused controversy before.

It’s a slippery slope

The Jackson trial pollutes everything it touches: Peter Pan, motherhood, circus elephants--above all, American justice. One presumes the man (man?) is innocent. But does anyone think that even if guilty, and the convicted monster of Neverland spends the rest of his days banged up in a cell with a tattooed biker, any child in southern California will be safer? John Sutherland reports.

Benefits of piracy

If Internet piracy is hurting Hollywood so much, why is the US box office healthier than ever? Far from destroying the film industry, movie downloading has made it raise its game, exploit its visual advantages, and lower its prices. John Sutherland reports.

A tasteless approach to punishment

How do American parents punish their naughty children? They reach for the Tabasco and tongue spank.

Tales of a sexual adventurer

The publishers of Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male did not expect much when the study was published in 1948. The author, Alfred C Kinsey, was a scientist highly esteemed among entomologists for his work on the gall wasp — an unsexy little bug. The Kinsey Report, as it became known, turned out to be the biggest scientific bestseller since Darwin and, like The Origin of Species, took a wrecking ball to the established moral order.

Let the dirty tricks begin …

The Democrats can count on the sell-out movie (Fahrenheit 9/11); the Republicans, a book (Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry) that is already number one on Amazon's bestseller list a week before publication. You know the United States presidential election is hotting up when the smear campaigns get started.

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