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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Everyone On The Couch

Savaging of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which “colonises human experience”. Weakness, sadness and anger are labelled as illnesses. “The DSM is an instrument for weakening human resilience, self-reliance, fortitude, and resolve. It turns humans into mechanisms, deprives their conduct of meaning, and makes them prey to entrepreneurs of misery” (2,775 words)

Banksy: Discriminating Philistine

Street artist Banksy is clever and funny. He’s no van Eyck, but he can draw. He makes some good points: about inequality, CCTV, police, consumer culture. But he has chosen they way of the philistine. He celebrates society’s vandals, hooligans and hypocrites. There is nothing in his work to inspire or improve us. If that is the burden of his art, then “his talent is not an extenuating but an aggravating circumstance” (2,980 words)

Of Owls And Richard III

Miscellany of observations on owls. No particular rhyme or reason that I can discern, but every sentence (after the first couple of paragraphs) is memorable, quotable or both. “One method by which ornithologists of the past estimated fluctuations in the numbers of owls was by the numbers brought to taxidermists for stuffing. The fashion for stuffed birds in glass cases seems to have passed and so this method is no longer used” (2,187 words)

The Abortion Act In Changing Times

British medical regulators claim to be scandalised by news that some doctors will abort babies of unwanted gender. But if you look at what the law actually says, most abortions violate it anyway, in spirit or in letter

Hard Times Again

There could hardly be a timelier moment in economic history to celebrate the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth. He was the revealer and scourge of urban destitution, “a destitution that, in our waking nightmares, we fear may yet return”

Should A Captain Go Down With His Ship?

On courage and duty in the workplace. What does an employer have the right to expect? How do any of us know how we’ll react when tested? And what happens afterwards? Costa Concordia captain’s story is all too human

Murder Most Academic

The idea of a university admitting a violent criminal to its doctoral programme in homicide studies, and that man becoming a serial killer sounds like satire in poor taste. But this is what happened in Britain recently

Virus Of Hysteria

Powerful short book review, by doctor, on lessons of MMR scandal. “If progress in preventive medicine has been remarkable, so in its way has been the persistence of prescientific and even anti-scientific thought in modern society”

Vandals In Retreat

Angry essay on post-war redevelopment of British cities. Modernist planners of 1960s “produced a visual hell”. Since then, standard of new architecture has much improved, standard of public behaviour has much declined

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