UK ministers always seem to preface what they say about the crisis in Gaza by acknowledging Israel's right to self defence against attack. I agree with them about that. Actually, the Palestinians have the right of self defence too. The point is that neither can credibly be invoked to justify the carnage that is unfolding.
My first reaction to this news was that I should read something substantial about one of the biggest conflicts in human history; perhaps Max Hastings huge new book on the subject, or some of that famous poetry that everyone is supposed to read in British schools. What about the extensive reports that all British newspapers are featuring about WW1?
Everything's a marketing opportunity. Our existence is only a chance to prove how brilliant we are, and to congratulate our mates for their brilliance too... The fact is, the more we PR our lives online, the more isolated we become. With every 'Ibiza. Done' status update we move further and further away from meaningful relationships with our families, friends and lovers.
In this post-Snowden age, where privacy it seems is all but dead, a reinterpretation of Orwell's Big Brother and the omnipresent surveillance state certainly has a lot to offer. But this production at the Almeida is over-engineered, with high concept overwhelming the text, creating an inconsistent, uneven show.
Take a look in HMV and tell me what you see. For while the conveyor belt of the craven book publishing world rolls on, the art world preens and lumbers in search of the next concept, and our once glorious world of music has had its guts ripped out by the internet. Yet the musician persists in his efforts to have the cloth-eared hear his songs.
It's perhaps appropriate that the biggest news this month, a month that marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of George Orwell, is a story about privacy. What would Orwell, whose dystopian novel 1984 painted a nightmare vision of a society under constant surveillance, have to say about the current scandal engulfing the U.S. and British security services?
The world has changed, didn't you get the memo? We have become digitised, and we live in a world now defined by IP address statistics and pictures of what you had for breakfast. Social media in its current form has changed the way we live our lives, and perhaps we are so far down the rabbit hole it is too late to turn back.
I've always believed that a pub which can offer me a quality beer that I've never heard of is onto a good start, and anywhere I can walk in and see something on draught that surprises me is doing even better. Anywhere offering a combination of Carlsberg, Carling and Strongbow and not much else is simply not going to cut it.
The constant anxiety of what soap opera dramas awaited me at university didn't exactly help matters. I've been considering selling the movie rights of my university life to Universal Studios, on the grounds that I will be played by Audrey Tautou (she'll have to wear seven inch heels) and that The Killers must be used in the opening sequence.
Under the blitz of current Orwell stuff in the media there's a recurring theme: what would the great man have made of the present day, and how right was he about the modern world? Recent chit-chat in my office was broadly positive about his "predictive" powers. Recent chit-chat in my office was broadly positive about his "predictive" powers: Doublespeak (modern political/managerial jargon?), Telescreens (TV, especially those tuned to the Big Brother house on Channel 5!), Napoleon, the revolutionary-turned-authoritarian pig from Animal Farm.