Matt Ridley has made a discovery. The natural selection that Darwin described in The Origin of Species is only a particular example of a universal process. As he tells us at the start of this book, Darwinism is “the special theory of evolution”. But there is a general theory of evolution, too, and it applies to society, money, technology, language, law, culture, music, violence, history, education, politics, God, morality. The general theory says that things do not stay the same; they change gradually but inexorably; they show “path dependence”; they show descent with modification; they show selective persistence. In the course of the book’s 16 chapters, which deal with the evolution of everything from the internet to leadership, Ridley repeats this mantra many times: Darwin’s mechanism of selective survival resulting in cumulative complexity applies to human culture in all its aspects, too. Our habits and institutions, from language to cities, … [Read more...] about The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley review – the rightwing libertarian gets it wrong
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Tory ministers today confirmed the party's social care manifesto policy as they admitted a final plan is being kicked down the road - again. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced £1bn a year for five years to tackle a crisis in the nation's care homes. But he admitted the Tories will not announce a full long-term reform in this week's election manifesto. Instead the party will pledge "urgent" work "to find a cross-party consensus" with MPs - after the election is finished. And there will only be one red line, he said - that no one will have to sell their home to pay for their own care. The policy - which accepts long-time calls from social care campaigners - seems to be bid to avoid disastrous 'dementia tax' headlines that plagued Theresa May's 2017 election. But it means there is yet another delay after years of dither and in-fighting. Currently people must fund their own care if they deplete all but £23,350 of their life savings, including the value of their home. … [Read more...] about Tories confirm social care policy as full plan is kicked down the road – again
Boris Johnson is legally obliged to ask for a Brexit delay by 11pm tonight after he lost a historic vote in the House of Commons. The humiliated PM faces breaking his "do or die" pledge to leave on October 31 after MPs voted 322-306 (majority 16) for a crucial amendment. The result effectively means he must, by law, ask the EU for a three-month extension tonight - even if MPs end up backing his Brexit deal in the coming weeks. But while not explicitly saying he'd break the law, the defiant PM today suggested he would be as difficult as possible - and refuse to "negotiate" any delay with the EU. It came as Parliament sat on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years - while thousands of protesters stood outside demanding a second referendum. Boris Johnson wanted to force MPs into a "meaningful vote" on his Brexit deal that would have 'locked in' a legal countdown to October 31. But his plans for a moment in history were scuppered by ousted Tory Sir Oliver Letwin. Scroll down for a full … [Read more...] about Brexit: Boris Johnson loses showdown vote meaning he must ask for delay by law
By the end of last year, anyone who had been paying even passing attention to the news headlines was highly likely to conclude that everything was terrible, and that the only attitude that made sense was one of profound pessimism – tempered, perhaps, by cynical humour, on the principle that if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, one may as well try to enjoy the ride. Naturally, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump loomed largest for many. But you didn’t need to be a remainer or a critic of Trump’s to feel depressed by the carnage in Syria; by the deaths of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean; by North Korean missile tests, the spread of the zika virus, or terror attacks in Nice, Belgium, Florida, Pakistan and elsewhere – nor by the spectre of catastrophic climate change, lurking behind everything else. (And all that’s before even considering the string of deaths of beloved celebrities that seemed like a calculated attempt, on 2016’s … [Read more...] about Is the world really better than ever?
BEEB veteran John Humphrys made the Queen laugh when he had a foul-mouthed row with Prince Philip. The former news presenter revealed that the spat took place when he was covering the couple’s visit to Mexico in 1975. John, 76, said Philip mistakenly accused him of being in the wrong vehicle, raging: “You stole my f***ing car.” John joked that he told the Duke of Edinburgh, now 98, to “p*** off”. The Mastermind presenter said: “We did have a falling out. There was a dirt road in Mexico when he leapt out of a police car. “The Queen was in the front car. He got out and said, ‘You stole my f***ing car.’ I said, ‘P*** off.’“No, I didn’t! I said, ‘Oh, really sorry, Sir.’ “The Queen got out of her car and was laughing.” John, who left Radio 4’s Today last month, was speaking to BBC colleague Justin Webb at an event organised by Intelligence Squared. The retired newshound, famous for … [Read more...] about John Humphrys reveals he had a foul-mouthed row with Prince Philip in front of The Queen