Embrace the moment, regardless of the circumstances

By living lives of integrity, by doing our best despite our imperfections, we find a way to move forward

Embrace the moment, regardless of the circumstancesWhen saying goodbye to people, I’ll often add: “And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” While I’ve always been aware this phrase was giving people something significant to ponder, I didn’t know its history. It’s actually attributed to Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher. In 1994, Jon Kabat-Zinn expanded on this idea in…

The Black Death and its aftermath

Surprisingly, post-Black Death populations tended to live longer and enjoy better health and standards of living

The Black Death and its aftermathBubonic plague came to England in the summer of 1348. Popularly known as the Black Death, the disease arrived via a French ship that docked in what is now Weymouth on the south coast. From there, it spread rapidly inland and westwards over the water to Ireland. It was also transmitted across the North Sea…

Paving the way with quiet dignity

Larry Doby was the second African American to play Major League Baseball. His road to greatness was no less difficult for being second

Paving the way with quiet dignityIt’s unfortunate that we often forget the people who come second. Jackie Robinson is rightly honoured as the first African American to play Major League Baseball. Today, all players wear number 42 on April 15, the day that Robinson broke the colour barrier in 1947. We often forget that Robinson, who played for the Brooklyn…

Ronald Reagan’s remarkable mission to Moscow

The American president's loathing for nuclear weapons and his desire to see new freedoms in the Soviet Union framed his trip

Ronald Reagan’s remarkable mission to MoscowLate in his presidency, Ronald Reagan went to Moscow for a visit that generated some dramatic images and memorable moments. If you’d predicted this when he was elected in 1980, most people – pundits and experts especially – would’ve scoffed at you. Reagan, so the narrative went, was a dangerous cowboy, a warmonger and a…

Marxism “the opium of the intellectuals”

On the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth, let's admit Marxism has nothing useful to say to the modern world

Marxism “the opium of the intellectuals”Karl Marx is buried in England, in the north London suburb of Highgate. I know that because I came across his grave in the summer of 1964. Topped by a large bronze bust on a marble pedestal, the tomb is hard to miss. And although you might think of Marx as a quaint figure, you’d…

New book offers vision of a safer urban future

Cyber City Safe: Emergency Planning Beyond the Maginot Line explores cybersecurity, modern emergency planning and green city living

New book offers vision of a safer urban futureCyber City Safe: Emergency Planning Beyond the Maginot Line By Allan Bonner Brennen Schmidt Roy Damary and Natalia Pryadilina Reviewed by Anil Anand Retired police officer Cyber City Safe: Emergency Planning Beyond the Maginot Line presents a comprehensive vision of a safer urban future through big data, technology and greenery. The book has four authors and three…

Why authoritarian populists are destined to fail

A review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Why authoritarian populists are destined to failMy son gave me Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress after he had heard him speak on a podcast about his 10th bestseller in 53 years of life as a public intellectual and Harvard professor of cognitive psychology. The gift is part of an ongoing effort to expand…

Looking through an unusual lens at Ronald Reagan

Movie Nights with the Reagans provides an intimate look at a presidency that continues to influence the political landscape

Looking through an unusual lens at Ronald ReaganLovers of both movies and politics will want to check out a new book Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg. Published by Simon and Schuster, it’s an intimate, heartfelt remembrance of what it was like to share regular weekend movie nights at Camp David in the 1980s with President Ronald Reagan and first lady…

The overwhelming imagery of the Crucifixion

The child that was me experienced the lead-up to Easter as foreboding rather than inspiring

The overwhelming imagery of the CrucifixionI was never big on Easter. As a Catholic schoolboy in 1950s Ireland, Easter played second fiddle to Christmas. In fact, the competition wasn’t even close. Christmas had several advantages. For one thing, school holidays were longer. Whereas Easter only delivered a week and a half, Christmas tacked on a further full week. The tone,…

The tragedy of Oscar Wilde

The Anglo-Irish playwright, poet and novelist ended up imprisoned, the casualty of his own foolishness

The tragedy of Oscar WildeOnce upon a time, I had an uncomplicated view of capital punishment. I was against it. Period. And a reading of the poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde could reduce me to tears. Even now with a much more nuanced view of the subject, the power of the language still moves me.…
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