Happy New Year!
And since this is a time for fresh starts I might as well get something off my chest straight away: I have not been lovingly tending MercatorNet while Michael Cook has been having a richly-deserved holiday. Observant readers will have noticed that Michael, with his uncanny ability to do everything at once, has been tending the website while on holiday and I have only reappeared on the scene this week.
What have I been up to? Mainly, enjoying the company of younger relatives avoiding the European winter by taking an extended holiday Down Under (Australia and New Zealand).
Unfortunately they ran smack into the worst summer we have had in a while, featuring copious rainfall interspersed with brisk winds. Still, we managed to have a good time. During a few days stay at the beach they took to the water with stoical determination and swore they enjoyed it. We did a day trip to an offshore island, a native bird sanctuary, and got soaked to the skin but came home very happy with sightings of the rare Kokako as well as an Oystercatcher and her newborn chicks — among other winged wildlife.
I read a very nice book, Irene Nemerovsky’s All Our Worldly Goods, and made a start on a small classic, One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich (catching up with Solzhenitsyn is an ongoing project of mine) but had to put it aside after a few pages as it seemed almost indecent to read about people being ground to powder in the gulags while sitting on the beach.
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No time for any New Year resolutions yet except to learn to use my new smartphone. But I sense another one forming right now: getting this Friday newsletter out by 4.30pm. Little by little…
I hope you enjoy this week’s articles: Kevin Ryan on the apparent mental health crisis in US colleges; Ronan Wright on the new Mission Impossible movie; Robert Reilly on the dangers of wishful thinking about the Arab Spring; Thomas Reeves on digital natives and what the experts are saying about them; William West on what’s passed for adolescent viewing by film censors; Paul Rogers on US-Iran relationships; and Peter Smith on British Conservatives and same-sex, ahem, marriage.
In the blogs: Sheila Liaugminas has important updates on the US elections; Tiger Print features a great video of an adolescent facing death with serenity; our Demography bloggers are back and up to the minute; Reading Matters continues to roll out its guide to good reading; and Family Edge has unwittingly stirred up a debate on male circumcision (when we were really trying to talk about marriage).