R J Cook Matters II



June 8th 2024

1984: How did the Isle of Jura help shape Orwell’s masterpiece?

George Orwell at a BBC microphone
Image caption, George Orwell – his most famous work Nineteen Eighty-Four celebrates 75 years in print on Saturday

Craig Williams and Chris Diamond

BBC Scotland News

  • Published7 June 2024
  • Updated 9 hours ago

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was published 75 years ago on Saturday.

It is the story of Winston Smith, an obedient citizen in an oppressive future state who slowly rebels against the system.

The book is a powerful study of totalitarianism and its effect on the individual.

It takes place in a future world of war, poverty, rationing and absolute state control.

Every action, word and even thought is monitored and controlled by the leader, ‘Big Brother’, and ‘The Party’.

It was written in a world ripped apart by fascism and against the backdrop of the early days of the Cold War and the spread of communism.

The novel is set in a London re-imagined as ‘Airstrip One’, the capital of ‘Oceania’. It is a rainy, filthy city, crumbling and battered, and almost entirely devoid of colour, warmth or comfort.

But it was written in an isolated and beautiful corner of the Isle of Jura as the author, afflicted by the tuberculosis which would soon kill him, sought to escape the noise, smog and damp of London, and get his warning to the world completed before he ran out of time.

The Paps of Jura
Image caption, The Paps of Jura are the starkly beautiful Hebridean island’s most distinctive feature

Richard Blair turned 80 in May. A retired businessman, he has spent the past few decades minding the legacy of his father, Eric Arthur Blair – known to readers the world over as George Orwell.

Richard was adopted by Orwell and his first wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy just weeks after he was born in 1944.

His new mother died little less than a year later, leaving father and infant son alone together.

In the years following the end of the war in 1945, Orwell – finally well-off from the success of his novel Animal Farm after years of poverty – looked after Richard with the help of his family and a housekeeper.

But after a visit to Jura in September 1945, he began planning to move there.

He returned to the island repeatedly over the coming two years, bringing with him his extended family including his sister Avril and her partner.

He finally fulfilled his wish to decamp to the island full time in April 1947.

Richard Blair
Image caption, Richard Blair has fond memories of his time on Jura

The house they rented, Barnhill, sits in the north of the island. It was barely habitable. Shabby, damp, cold and alone at the end of more than four miles of single track path.

Yet Richard has nothing but happy memories of his time there. His father was pleased with the move, too.

“It was a nice house. A bit rough and ready, but for him it was a lovely place to go to. Remote, certainly. It was, as he described it to friends, a ‘most un-get-at-able place,'” he says.

Richard credits his aunt with making the place habitable.

“Without her it would have been very difficult for my father to have survived properly. She was very practical and a good home-maker. So she got the house comfortable. As warm as one could expect it to be made.”

Barnhill on Jura
Image caption, Barnhill stands in the north of Jura, miles from the main road

Much has been made of the often harsh Hebridean climate and whether Jura was the best place for a man suffering from tuberculosis.

It has even been suggested that living there in such spartan circumstances may have contributed to the grim tone of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Journalist Alex Massie, who is a regular visitor to the island, is sceptical.

“Orwell’s decision to live in the Hebrides – a long, long way away from London at a time when he was suffering from poor health – has created this vision of the sort of doomed novelist writing himself to death at the end of the world,” he says.

“That is a very romantic vision obviously, but it’s not one that bears very much scrutiny. In certain respects Jura was a healthier place to live than London. And so it was not some sort of mad or suicidal sojourn.

“It happened to be Jura that he went to, but almost anywhere that was isolated and rural would have sufficed because what he wanted was peace.”

Barnhill on Jura

Barnhill became home to Orwell and his family in 1947

That certainly corresponds with Richard’s memories.

“I loved it. It’s a wonderful island and for a kid it was just total freedom. Unlike London, on Jura you could just open the back door and off you went. There were thousands of acres of land you could walk over,” he says.

While the young Richard was enjoying the scenery and freedom, his writer father was avoiding the typewriter by working the land.

“He had by this time managed to try to get the garden dug over and planted. So that gave him a break from writing Nineteen Eighty-Four, which he had just started.

“Once he had established the garden, so he was growing vegetables, that was obviously of paramount importance for food. Because obviously it was the days of rationing and getting food was really difficult.

“We actually had a very good lifestyle. We had access to fish, to lobsters, to crabs. We had access to meat in the form of rabbits and lumps of venison that came from the estate from time to time.

“From that point of view we lived extremely well, if simply,” he says.

Yvonne Mitchell, Peter Cushing and Andre Morrell in the 1954 BBC production of 1984
Image caption, The BBC adapted the novel to acclaim in 1954

Orwell continued writing, though his health was deteriorating. At the end of 1947 he was hospitalised at the sanatorium in Hairmyres Hospital, then in the countryside outside Glasgow, but now in the new town East Kilbride.

When he returned to Jura in the summer of 1948 he was only just well enough to work on the book for which he would become most celebrated.

He completed it just before Christmas and the Blair clan left Barnhill for the final time in January 1949. Nineteen Eighty-Four was published five months later.

The following January, Orwell died after an artery burst in his lungs. He was 46.

2014 London stage production of 1984
Image caption, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been adapted for both stage and screen

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a book whose reputation has grown and grown. Controversial from the moment it was published, it was unpopular with many on the left who were unhappy with what they saw as an attack on communism.

But it sold and kept selling. An acclaimed BBC production in 1954 brought it to a wider audience, and it gradually made its way onto college and school courses around the world.

It has now sold more than 8 million copies, been adapted many times for stage and screen, and, in what can be seen as the ultimate measure of its power, was banned in the Soviet Union until 1988.

But as the book reaches its 75th anniversary, its greatest influence may be in how it changed the way we speak and think. In that way, it has come to mirror the very themes the book explores.

“Big Brother”, “Groupthink”, “Thought Police”, “Thought Crime”, “Room 101”, even the description “Orwellian”.

The book has left us with a rich legacy of words and ideas to describe the power of the state, totalitarianism, the role of technology and what it is to live in a surveillance culture.

Protest banner of Orwell holding a copy of 1984
Image caption, Orwell’s image remains a potent symbol of protest today

For writer and film critic Hannah McGill, much of its power comes from its predictions.

“Sometimes I do think you get a sort of miracle of prescience with a certain piece of work, where it happens to hone in on a few ideas that prove to just really predict the preoccupations of the coming age,” she says.

“One thing that the book predicted correctly is that we now live in a society far, far more dominated by technology in ways that Orwell could not imagine, because nobody could.

“You only have to look at the role of the telescreen in Nineteen Eighty-Four and the fact that you now have this medium which is entertainment, propaganda, advertising and surveillance all at the same time.”

For Alex Massie, the book’s influence goes way beyond its success as an imaginative work.

He says: “It’s a book that many people think they know a lot about even if they haven’t actually read it and that’s quite unusual.

“And what makes Nineteen Eighty-Four quite distinct and a monumental achievement in certain ways is that you can have strong views about it without having read it.”

For Richard, his father’s greatest work remains prescient for the warnings it gives us about the world we continue to live in. For him, it remains relevant in the age of spin and modern technology.

“Any sort of situation where you are being fed disinformation, which can come from either left or right, which can come from whatever organisation wants to put it out there.

“They want to guide you down the path they want to take you. And I would suggest that is what has become ‘Orwellian'”.

Comment This reviived interest in Orwell and 1984 is more about slagging of Putin’s Russia. We are not supposed to notice that the U.S, U.K and EU Alliance is the totalitarian state which is working to gobble up the Baltic States, Black Sea, Russia and China to complete their tyranny.

R J Cook

May 31st 2024

05-25-2024WORK LIFE

Why your company should embrace the four-day workweek

At Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies Summit, these execs from 4 Day Week Global, Kickstarter, and Public Policy Lab made a solid case for the four-day workweek. Why your company should embrace the four-day workweek

From left: Tarveen Forrester, VP of People, Kickstarter; Shanti Mathew, Managing Director, Public Policy Lab; and Dale Whelehan, CEO, 4 Day Week Global [Photo: Celine Grouard for Fast Company]

BY Claire Zhao3 minute read

The push for a four-day workweek has recently surged in popularity, spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposed legislation. While the idea of a 32-hour workweek remains a fanciful notion for many, the idea is catching on with companies either fully hopping onboard or at least opting for a trial run.

Last week, Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies Summit brought together Dale Whelehan, CEO of 4 Day Week Global; Tarveen Forrester, VP of people at Kickstarter; and Shanti Mathew, managing director of Public Policy Lab to discuss the benefits of a shortened work week and how best to embrace it.

Reducing burnout to maximize productivity

Unsurprisingly, one of the main concerns of the four-day workweek is the effect it has on an organization’s productivity. Yet Whelehan argued the four-day workweek is ultimately a productivity intervention. Giving workers more time off significantly reduces burnout and improves employee engagement and retention, thus increasing the level and quality of output for the organization

Whelehan cited the Yerkes-Dodson’s Law, which models the relationship between stress and task performance. “You’re trying to get to that level where people get the optimal level of stress in their work to produce output without tipping them over the edge and into burnout,” he said. “That’s what a four-day workweek achieves.”

As a behavioral scientist, Whelehan said it comes down to leaders within organizations realizing they have to create “a new form of management that is focused on the physiology and psychology of humans.” And what’s better for employees in this regard is ultimately better for business.

Invest in more effective management

The objective of the four-day workweek is for workers to produce the same level of output in 32 hours as they formerly did in 40 hours. This means employees will be expected to produce more output per hour than they formerly did, leading to a style of work that will feel fast-paced and intense. The key to consistently achieve this objective will be to invest in manager effectiveness.

[Photo: Celine Grouard for Fast Company]

“When you’re moving fast, you have to understand what’s going on with your colleagues, your teammates around you, and other business units,” Forrester said. “Any company that’s thinking about the four-day workweek should really be prepared to invest in manager effectiveness.”

Create a new structure that works for your company

Simply offering a Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm workweek fails to solve the most fundamental problem with the way work is structured today: It’s incompatibility with the demands of many people’s daily lives. The key is finding a model that best fits employees and the organization as a whole.

For example, in client-facing organizations, Whelehan suggested a staggered approach to staffing, e.g. having some employees work Monday to Thursday and some Tuesday to Friday. Or a company could simply hire more staff. Sure there are more costs associated with that approach but, as Whelehan explained, “when you look at the macroeconomic costs, significant reductions in burnout, resignations, the cost of recruitment, there’s a net economic benefit by creating what essentially is a much more sustainable human resource structure.”

Making time for creativity

The four-day workweek most importantly frees up more time for employees. Increased leisure time not only increases wellbeing, but has historically been important in facilitating the creativity that leads to human progress.

“People are so multifaceted and we’re living in a world where we’re so overstimulated,” Forrester said. “And so when you’re giving people time back, you’re giving them the agency to have a life and have experiences outside of work.”

“That comes back to us tenfold and is able to fuel the organization,” she continued, “because when you have experience as outside of work, it drives things like your curiosity. It drives things like ideation. It drives things like your connectedness to self.”

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May 30th 2024

I didn’t start pension saving until age 35. Here’s what to do if you didn’t either

Jessie Hewitson would love to spend retirement in a villa somewhere abroad – and is making up for lost time with her pension saving to achieve this

May 27, 2024 12:00 pm(Updated May 28, 2024 10:22 am)

Many people dream of spending time abroad when retired. But how to afford it?

I have a plan for my retirement. It’s to spend three months a year in a villa somewhere abroad – Spain, Italy, Greece – and write books. Or maybe I’ll sod the writing and just read books and spend lots of time by palm trees.

Either way I plan to be abroad for a reasonable chunk of my retirement. Of course the issue is paying for this.

If you are feeling too happy and need an immediate downer, I recommend logging on to your pension website and clicking on the pension modeller tool. I do it from time to time and it’s savage.


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The modeller shows you how little your pension savings, which in every other context would be an enormous amount of money, will equate to a year when you retire (though it assumes you retire at the state pension age and you put your money in an annuity, rather than the far more common arrangement of draw-down).

Part of the reason I want to cry when I look at the modeller is I am a tricky age for retirement saving. Auto enrolment came in when I was in my mid 30s, so while my generation benefited from its introduction it would have been better had it happened 10 years earlier. Especially as financial security, in the form of defined benefit pensions, was getting scarcer and annuity rates have generally been low.

Millions of others like me therefore managed to get to our mid-30s without saving a penny for retirement (not to mention the self employed who don’t have auto enrolment). But then I moved into personal finance journalism, and auto enrolment began, and my bacon was saved.

But there is no room for complacency and I’m going to have to be very sensible, and a bit lucky too, if those cherry blossom trees in Japan are going to be witnessed first-hand.

So here is what I’ve done to make up for lost time, and what I think others in similar positions should consider doing.

  • 1. Save more. I currently pay 16 per cent into my pension (my employer contributes 8 per cent, and so do I), but I have saved as much as 28 per cent when my mortgage was smaller. Saving this much isn’t easy to do but you just have to bite the bullet, up your contributions and then you get used to your new salary normal.
  • 2. Make sure you get the highest employer contribution you can. Often, employers will contribute more to your pension, if you contribute more. Some may match your contributions for example. An extra 1 or 2 per cent can equate to ten of thousands of pounds more when you retire. In the past I have asked for higher employer contributions rather than a boost to salary in salary negotiations. I have found that companies can be happier to add more to your pension than they are to your salary – it’s a bit daft as it’s all costs the company money (and makes you more) but it probably moves on to someone else’s spreadsheet this way, so always worth a try.
  • 3. Take control of your investing. Around 90 per cent of us have our money sitting in default pension funds (the one your company puts you in when you start saving), which typically have 70 per cent invested in equities and 30 per cent in bonds or cash. This is an approach designed not to scare the horses – you get growth but it’s meant to be steady. But I need the horses to be scared, at least a bit – if I’m going to make up lost ground – and I still have enough time for them to calm down again before I need the money. So I have all my money in equities.
  • 4. Keep track of your pension. It takes about 15 minutes and I do it every six months or so. I remind myself what I’m invested in, look up the “fund factsheet” online (this will give you all the information about where the fund is invested in and what the returns are, ie how much money it is making you). In this factsheet you’ll see a graph tracking the fund’s performance against a benchmark in its sector – if it’s underperforming the benchmark for over a year or two it’s sensible to rethink if you want to keep your money there.
  • 5. Consider treating different pensions differently. This doesn’t apply to me as I have all my pension money in one place – this keeps my pension admin down – but if you had more than one pension and you are worried about taking more risk, you could treat your pensions differently. Consider keeping one in the lower-risk default fund and take more (sensible) risk with your other pensions.
  • 6. Consider saving as a couple, if you’re in one. If one of you is a basic-rate taxpayer and the other higher rate, then it’s sensible to put more money into the pension of the higher-rate taxpayer, particularly if they expect to be a basic-rate taxpayer in retirement. This way you get more tax relief when you put the money in and pay less when it comes out. But if you divorce make sure this is factored in as part of the financial settlement. 
  • 7. Stay engaged. Readers of my last column will know I’ve spent hours trying and failing to login to my Scottish Widows pension app. Well at last I managed – let the choirs sing – thanks to some help from the company’s IT department. I wanted to give up, but I didn’t, and now I check on my pension a couple of times a week, all the faff seems worth it. Hopefully it will mean I save more, and then when my career is over, I’ll have enough for a few more aperitivos at my villa in Tuscany.

May 29th 2024

How Actors Remember Their Lines

In describing how they remember their lines, actors are telling us an important truth about memory.

Michael Caine in “The Ipcress File” / Photograph: BFI.

By: John Seamon

After a recent theater performance, I remained in the audience as the actors assembled on stage to discuss the current play and the upcoming production that they were rehearsing. Because each actor had many lines to remember, my curiosity led me to ask a question they frequently hear: “How do you learn all of those lines?”

Actors face the demanding task of learning their lines with great precision, but they rarely do so by rote repetition. They did not, they said, sit down with a script and recite their lines until they knew them by heart. Repeating items over and over, called maintenance rehearsal, is not the most effective strategy for remembering. Instead, actors engage in elaborative rehearsal, focusing their attention on the meaning of the material and associating it with information they already know. Actors study the script, trying to understand their character and seeing how their lines relate to that character. In describing these elaborative processes, the actors assembled that evening offered sound advice for effective remembering.

This article is excerpted from John Seamon’s book “Memory and Movies: What Films Can Teach Us About Memory

Similarly, when psychologists Helga and Tony Noice surveyed actors on how they learn their lines, they found that actors search for meaning in the script, rather than memorizing lines. The actors imagine the character in each scene, adopt the character’s perspective, relate new material to the character’s background, and try to match the character’s mood. Script lines are carefully analyzed to understand the character’s motivation. This deep understanding of a script is achieved by actors asking goal-directed questions, such as “Am I angry with her when I say this?” Later, during a performance, this deep understanding provides the context for the lines to be recalled naturally, rather than recited from a memorized text. In his book “Acting in Film,” actor Michael Caine described this process well:

You must be able to stand there not thinking of that line. You take it off the other actor’s face. Otherwise, for your next line, you’re not listening and not free to respond naturally, to act spontaneously.

This same process of learning and remembering lines by deep understanding enabled a septuagenarian actor to recite all 10,565 lines of Milton’s epic poem, “Paradise Lost.” At the age of 58, John Basinger began studying this poem as a form of mental activity to accompany his physical activity at the gym, each time adding more lines to what he had already learned. Eight years later, he had committed the entire poem to memory, reciting it over three days. When I tested him at age 74, giving him randomly drawn couplets from the poem and asking him to recite the next ten lines, his recall was nearly flawless. Yet, he did not accomplish this feat through mindless repetition. In the course of studying the poem, he came to a deep understanding of Milton. Said Basinger:

During the incessant repetition of Milton’s words, I really began to listen to them, and every now and then as the poem began to take shape in my mind, an insight would come, an understanding, a delicious possibility.

In describing how they remember their lines, actors are telling us an important truth about memory — deep understanding promotes long-lasting memories.

A Memory Strategy for Everyone

Deep understanding involves focusing your attention on the underlying meaning of an item or event, and each of us can use this strategy to enhance everyday retention. In picking up an apple at the grocers, for example, you can look at its color and size, you can say its name, and you can think of its nutritional value and use in a favorite recipe. Focusing on these visual, acoustic, and conceptual aspects of the apple correspond to shallow, moderate, and deep levels of processing, and the depth of processing that is devoted to an item or event affects its memorability. Memory is typically enhanced when we engage in deep processing that provides meaning for an item or event, rather than shallow processing. Given a list of common nouns to read, people recall more words on a surprise memory test if they previously attended to the meaning of each word than if they focused on each word’s font or sound.

Deep, elaborative processing enhances understanding by relating something you are trying to learn to things you already known. Retention is enhanced because elaboration produces more meaningful associations than does shallow processing — links that can serve as potential cues for later remembering. For example, your ease of recalling the name of a specific dwarf in Walt Disney’s animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” depends on the cue and its associated meaning:

Try to recall the name of the dwarf that begins with the letter B.

People often have a hard time coming up with the correct name with this cue because many common names begin with the letter B and all of them are wrong. Try it again with a more meaningful cue:

Recall the name of the dwarf whose name is synonymous with shyness.

If you know the Disney film, this time the answer is easy. Meaningful associations help us remember, and elaborative processing produces more semantic associations than does shallow processing. This is why the meaningful cue produces the name Bashful.

John Seamon is Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior at Wesleyan University. He is the author of “Memory and Movies: What Films Can Teach Us About Memory,” from which this article is excerpted.

April 25th 2024

More from GQ

“The secret to walking to the South Pole is to put one foot in front of the other, and to do this enough times,” writes Erling Kagge in his 2017 book Silence.

It’s these kind of simple, profound statements that make the Norwegian polar explorer’s writing so compelling. Because though a statement like that might sound obvious (of course you get to the South Pole by walking to it), when it comes from the first person to complete the Three Poles Challenge—Kagge walked to the North Pole in 1990, the South Pole in 1993, and the summit of Mount Everest (the “third pole”) in 1994—it packs a surprisingly motivational punch.

The effect of reading his newest book, Walking, is similar. It is, essentially, a defense of moving slowly and thoughtfully in an age obsessed with speed and convenience. And, sure, that take brings to mind old-man-yelling-at-a-cloud vibes, but Kagge’s insights are sharp enough to slowly chip away at your skepticism, like a pickaxe working a block of ice.

Ultimately, his point is not that walking is a nice, mind-clearing activity (though it certainly can be). It’s that removing all friction from your life, and replacing it with the seductive speed of convenience, has pernicious effects.

For one thing, when we rush or move quickly, we stop being present and forget what we experience. (“High speed is a menace to memory, because memory depends on time and spatial awareness,” he writes.) Secondly, there’s a political aspect to walking: When we don’t walk among our fellow citizens—when we have the privilege of only traveling privately—we can become coldly detached from the fabric of the community. (“What would happen if world leaders were forced to take daily walks among the people?” Kagge asks.) And, finally, taking a shortcut to what you want often leaves you disappointed because objects of our desire are less meaningful without the struggle to capture them. (How much less interesting might summiting Everest be if you could just take an elevator to the top?)

We asked Kagge what walking might do for those of us interested in being a little bit more present, productive, and peaceful, but maybe not that interested in walking to any of the three poles.

Why do you think it’s important to not rush so quickly from A to B?
I am 56 years old, and when you start to go to 60th, 70th, 80th birthdays, people talk about life being too short. That’s their favorite subject. When you’re walking, the slowness somehow expands time. Speed collapses time. So if you walk towards a mountain, you can see it getting closer. You can smell the smells. You hear things and see how everything is changing.

Take New York, for instance. People always believe they save time by taking a taxi. Let’s say you take a taxi and it takes 10 minutes when walking would take 20. Mathematically, you save 10 minutes. But in those 10 minutes in a taxi, you didn’t experience anything. If you walk in New York, nothing great is going to happen, necessarily, but something is going to happen. That makes those 20 minutes so much more rich than the 10 minutes in the taxi. So I’m not walking because I think it’s better than driving. I’m walking because life is getting a little bit richer than if you drive.

We live in a time of hyper-convenience now: the friction between wanting something and getting it is nonexistent.
It’s all available. There’s no reason to be anti-technology. Many good things come with technology, but it’s also making your life so much cheaper in so many senses. It’s very much about living through other people and forgetting yourself. This book’s about experiencing yourself. All this about walking—it’s not about turning your back to the world. It’s about opening up, seeing people, experiencing the Earth.

If you’re living in the city, what are some ways to cultivate that inward-looking behavior?
Sometimes when I’m stressed, I’ll walk up the stairs backwards. It gets rid of all the noise in your head.

Then I really have to focus on what I’m doing, and I’m not thinking about what just happened and what’s going to happen next up on the list. Thinking is very much about not being present in your own life. And when I walk backwards, I’m certainly present in my life. That’s something you try to do when nobody’s watching.

I get the impression that you think time is wasted when you get stuck in a monotonous routine.
That’s the easiest option in life: to do the same things every day. You get up in the morning, you eat your porridge, you take the metro to the office. And of course most people have to go to the office every day, so there has to be repetition. But I think it’s easy to become a slave to it. Everything you do is foreseeable. There are absolutely no surprises. I’m not advising anyone to make a revolution out of their lives. But there are so many small possibilities for living a richer life. You have to get out of those routines every now and then.

I think a big disadvantage to life today is it’s very much alike. And with little variation in life, life feels short. But if you get some variation in, life feels so much longer.

Are there ways you build that variation into your life?
You need to make your life more difficult than necessary. Throughout the day, you have to choose between the easiest option and more difficult options. And usually, of course, you always choose the easiest option. In my experience, that’s quite often a mistake. I look at my own life and the happiest I’ve been is when I have chose the most difficult options. That’s kind of the meaning of life: to feel your own potential. To do that, you have to get out of your comfort zone.

Speaking of getting out of your comfort zone… How many years passed between you deciding you wanted to go to the North Pole, and you completing that trip?
Two years of preparation. The reason I succeeded is not because I’m physically more fit than everybody else. It has to do with the fact that I was very good with my preparations. This Norwegian polar explorer, Roald Amundsen, was the first guy to the South Pole in 1911. He said something like, “Victory awaits the one who has everything in order. People call it good luck. While defeat always follows bad preparations and people call it bad luck.”

It’s absurd to try to walk to the North Pole. It’s not rational. It’s not a clever, smart thing to do. So then you decide, and, afterwards, you start to think: Is it actually possible? That took me two years of preparation to find out. But, you do all that preparation and then, when you eventually stand on top of Mount Everest—like I did a few years later—first you are super happy about the summit. But, maybe two minutes later, you ask yourself, “How in hell should I get down again?”

Every feeling has an end. That’s also true with bad feelings. That is a part of the beauty of life: Nothing lasts.

How do you train for a trek to the poles?
I’ve been doing cross-country skiing my whole life. But to get ready for the poles, I went up into the mountains, and dragged a sled with me, because you have to drag everything you need for the whole expedition. Since there’s no snow in Norway in the summertime, I usually dragged tractor tires after me like a sled with ski poles, sometimes on roller skis—the skis with wheels—up the hills of Oslo. Of course, when you do something like this, people ask you, “Why do you do it?” I tried to be honest and said, “I’m going to walk to the North Pole.” But they thought it was a joke. So, eventually I said it was a bachelor party, which everybody believed.

It’s lots of physical training, but the most important thing is to know what’s happening in the mind. Because physical-wise, quite a few people can do it. But, being a polar explorer, the greatest challenge today is the same as 100 years ago: to get up in the morning. You have to be willing to ski for eight, 10, maybe even 15 hours, as the temperatures go down to -64 Fahrenheit, dragging 250 pounds. It’s tough going. What’s happening with your legs is important—but most important is what’s happening between your ears.

And on mornings when you wake up, and it is unbelievably cold and you don’t want to move, how do you make yourself get up on days like that?
All you want to do is to stay in the sleeping bag for another five minutes—or five hours. In the sleeping bag, you freeze a little. But when you get out of the sleeping bag, you freeze like hell. But as soon as you’re out of the sleeping bag, and you take down the tent, everything seems so much better. The weather’s usually better outside the tent than you imagine it is when you’re inside the tent.

Are there lessons you’ve learned on these treks that you then incorporate into your daily life in Norway?
One thing you learn when you walk really far is that so many things that you’re concerned about on a daily basis really don’t matter. Also you learn that most things have a solution and that solution is really usually quite close by.

You think better when you walk. Obviously you won’t become Steve Jobs just by walking. But it’s a good start. What’s interesting is that at Stanford University, in 2015, they started research on it and they confirmed what we know: you become much more creative by walking. Charles Darwin had his own walking path—every time he’d get stopped up in his head, he took a little walk.

You talk about walking backwards as a way to be mindful. I’m curious if you have other things in your life like that? Other techniques that bring you back to the present?
In the silence, it’s about shutting out the world, not thinking about anything else. Maybe to not think at all. Because when you think, you think about the past or the future. I can find the silence when I cook breakfast for my kids, when I make their porridge. I can find it when I walk to the Metro station in the morning or to my office. I can find when I walk up the stairs. I’ll find it when I’m having sex. I can find it when I’m jogging. I can find it when I’m climbing. I find it eventually when I’m cooking. And I definitely find it when I do the dishes because nobody will disturb me. And I can find it again when I go to bed.

So the silence is there all the time. It’s waiting for you. I think it may be wise to use techniques to find it, like mindfulness and meditation. But the silence I have been after and the silence I experience when I’m walking, that is silence that does not require any techniques.

If you could give a 25-year-old Erling advice, what would you tell him?
Most people underestimate the possibilities you have in life. And that’s a bit sad. So much of society is based upon narrowing people’s minds as much as possible. But don’t underestimate yourself. Also, like I said: Get up in the morning.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

April 24th 2024

In Knife, his memoir of surviving attack, Salman Rushdie confronts a world where liberal principles like free speech are old-fashioned

Published: April 19, 2024 8.38am BST


  1. Paul Giles Professor of English, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, ACU, Australian Catholic University

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Knife is Salman Rushdie’s account of how he narrowly survived an attempt on his life in August 2022, in which he lost his right eye and partial use of his left hand. The attack ironically came when Rushdie was delivering a lecture on “the creation in America of safe spaces for writers from elsewhere”, at Chautauqua, in upstate New York.

A man named Hadi Matar has been charged with second-degree attempted murder. He is an American-born resident of New Jersey in his early twenties, whose parents emigrated from Lebanon. Prosecutors allege the assault was a belated response to the fatwa, a legal ruling under Sharia law, issued in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The Iranian leader called for Rushdie’s assassination after the publication of the author’s novel The Satanic Verses, which allegedly contained a blasphemous representation of the prophet Muhammad. Matar has pleaded not guilty to the charge, and his trial is still pending.

Review: Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder – Salman Rushdie (Jonathan Cape)

Knife is very good at recalling Rushdie’s grim memories of the attack. (His assailant appears in this book merely under the sobriquet of “the A”.) It also articulates with typically dry, self-deprecating humour the dismal prognoses of his various doctors. These are balanced against his own incorrigible sense of “optimism” and ardent will to live, along with the staunch love and support of his new wife, the writer and artist Rachel Eliza Griffiths.

This is a book where you can feel the author wincing with pain. “Let me offer this piece of advice to you, gentle reader,” he says: “if you can avoid having your eyelid sewn shut … avoid it. It really, really hurts.”

But at the same time, it is a story of courage and resilience, with Rushdie cheered by the unequivocal support he receives from political leaders in the United States and France, as well as writers around the world. He cites as a parallel to his own experience the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, in which 12 people were murdered in the Paris offices of a satirical magazine that had supposedly defamed the Islamic Prophet.

While the author’s personal recollections of this traumatic event are powerful, the declared aim of Knife is to “try to understand” the wider context of this event. Here, for a number of reasons, Rushdie is not on such secure ground.

One of his great strengths as a novelist is the way he presents “worlds in collision […] quarrelling realities fighting for the same segment of space-time”. This phrase comes from his 2012 memoir Joseph Anton, the pseudonym he used during his years of protection by British security services in the immediate aftermath of the fatwa.

Read more: How Salman Rushdie has been a scapegoat for complex historical differences

Rushdie, who studied history at Cambridge University, described himself in Joseph Anton as “a historian by training”. He said “the point of his fiction” is to show how lives are “shaped by great forces”, while still retaining “the ability to change the direction of those forces” through positive choices.

The second part of Knife is focused around Rushdie’s unwavering commitment to the principles of free speech in his work for PEN and other literary organisations. Indeed, a speech he gave at PEN America in 2022 is reprinted in the book verbatim.

“Art challenges orthodoxy,” declares Rushdie. He associates himself with a legacy of Enlightenment thinkers going back to Thomas Paine, whose work influenced both the American and French Revolutions. For these intellectuals, principles of secular reason and personal liberty should always supersede blind conformity to social or religious authority.

Old-fashioned liberal principles

In Knife, though, Rushdie the protagonist confronts a world where such liberal principles now appear old-fashioned. He claims “the groupthink of radical Islam” has been shaped by “the groupthink-manufacturing giants, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter”.

But for many non-religious younger people, any notion of free choice also appears illusory, the anachronistic residue of an earlier age. Millennials and Generation Z are concerned primarily with issues of environmental catastrophe and social justice, and they tend to regard liberal individualism as both ineffective and self-indulgent.

As a perceptive social historian, Rushdie notes how “new definitions of the social good” have arisen, in which “protecting the rights and sensibilities of groups perceived as vulnerable […] take precedence over freedom of speech.”

Knife itself is understandably reductive, even dismissive, in its treatment of the assailant. The author contemplates the prospect of a meeting with him, but decides that is “impossible” and so tries to “imagine my way into his head” by inventing an “imagined conversation”. But this is not entirely convincing.

Rushdie’s point about how the Quran itself is immersed in the worlds of “interpretation” and “translation” might work well in a seminar on world literature, but it is hardly the kind of argument likely to persuade a jihadist who, on his own admission, has read only two pages of The Satanic Verses.

protesters hold a sign: CURSE ON SALMAN RUSHDI
Pakistani protesters in 2007, rallying against the British government for awarding a knighthood to Rushdie. K.M. Chaudary/AAP

Rushdie’s stylistic tendency to dehumanise his characters is characteristically humorous and perhaps therapeutic. He renames his ear, nose and throat doctor “Dr. ENT, as if he were an ancient tree-creature from The Lord of the Rings”. But it also carries the risk of diminishing his characters to puppets being manipulated by the author.

This is the kind of power relation interrogated self-consciously in Fury (2001) and other fictional works that explore the limitations of authority. Rushdie is a great novelist because of his openness to questions about the scope of authority and authorship, but he is a less effective polemicist. The structural ambiguities and inconsistencies that enhance the multidimensional reach of his fiction tend to be lost when he takes on the mantle of a political controversialist.

Knife hovers generically in between these two positions. One of the book’s most interesting aspects is its probing of the weird and supernatural. Two nights before his attack, the author dreams of being assaulted by a man with a spear in a Roman amphitheatre. Citing Walt Whitman on the uses of self-contradiction, he records: “It felt like a premonition (even though premonitions are things in which I don’t believe).”

Similarly, he describes his survival, with the knife landing only a millimetre from his brain, as “the irruption of the miraculous into the life of someone who didn’t believe that the miraculous existed”. Later, he observes: “No, I don’t believe in miracles, but, yes, my books do.”

This speaks to a paradoxical disjunction between the relative narrowness of authorial vision and the much wider scope of imagined worlds that Rushdie’s best fiction evokes.

Read more: Liberalism is in crisis. A new book traces how we got here, but lets neoliberal ideologues off the hook

Suffused in the culture of Islam

The Satanic Verses itself is suffused in the culture of Islam as much as James Joyce’s Ulysses is suffused in the culture of Catholicism. In both cases, the question of specific religious “belief” becomes a secondary consideration.

In their hypothetical conversation, the author of Knife tries to convince his assailant of the value of such ambivalence. He protests how his notorious novel revolves around “an East London Indian family running a café-restaurant, portrayed with real love”.

But of course such subtleties are hopelessly wasted on an activist who has no interest in literary nuances and who desires only to execute the instructions of a religious leader. Given the prevalence of what Rushdie calls the contemporary “offence industry,” it is sobering to think that Ulysses, if published today, could be more liable to censorship for blasphemy rather than, as in 1922, obscenity.

A bearded man in a suit and glasses holds up a copy of The Satanic Verses
The Satanic Verses is ‘suffused in the culture of Islam’. Rod Edmonds/AAP

In many ways, then, Knife is a book about cultural cross-purposes. Though Rushdie is understandably vituperative on a personal level, his work’s conceptual undercurrents turn on the fate of the liberal imagination in an increasingly post-liberal world.

There are moving tributes here to the writers Martin Amis and Milan Kundera, friends who died recently. There are also melancholy acknowledgements of illnesses suffered by Paul Auster and by Hanif Kureishi, whom Rushdie regards as his “younger-brother-in literature”.

This generation of writers saw the multifaceted nature of fiction, with its inclinations towards magical realism, as a way to resist what Joseph Anton calls the potentially “flattening effect” of political slogans. Amis believed one of the reasons for the general decline of interest in reading literature was a new preference for the security of ready-made solutions rather than experiential challenges.

Read more: Milan Kundera’s ‘remarkable’ work explored oppression, inhumanity – and the absurdity of being human

Attachment to past traditions

But in the era of Facebook and Twitter, brevity and simplicity have become more compelling than complexity. This categorical shift has been shaped not only by the explosion of information technology, but also the de-centring of Europe and North America as undisputed leaders of intellectual and political culture.

Rushdie discusses in Knife how, besides the Hindu legends of his youth, he has also been “more influenced by the Christian world than I realized”. He cites the music of Handel and the art of Michelangelo as particular influences. Yet this again highlights Rushdie’s attachments to traditions firmly rooted in the past.

Whereas the dark comedy of Michel Houellebecq depicts an environment in which advances in biogenetics, information technology and political authoritarianism have rendered individual choice of little or no consequence, Rushdie gallantly flies the flag for privacy and personal freedom.

But he is also describing a world where such forms of liberty seem to be passing away. In that sense, Knife feels like an elegy for the passing of an historical era.

The memoir recalls how Rushdie’s “first thought” when his assailant approached was the likely imminence of death. He cites the reported last words of Henry James: “So it has come at last, the distinguished thing.”

James, like Rushdie, was a writer who lived through profound historical changes, from the Victorian manners represented in his early stories to new worlds of mass immigration and skyscrapers portrayed in The American Scene (1907).

Part of James’s greatness lay in the way he was able to accommodate these radical shifts within his writing. Rushdie is equally brave and brilliant as a novelist, and he may well ultimately succeed in capturing such seismic shifts, but Knife is not a work in which his artistic antennae appear to their best advantage.

Though Rushdie specifically says he “doesn’t like to think of writing as therapy”, he admits sessions with his own therapist “helped me more than I am able to put into words”. The writing of this book clearly operates in part as a form of catharsis, with Rushdie admitting his fear that “until I dealt with the attack I wouldn’t be able to write anything else”.

Read more: Reading French literature in a time of terror

‘A curiously one-eyed book’

There are many valuable things in Knife. Particularly striking are the immediacy with which he recalls the shocking assault, the black humour with which he relates medical procedures and the sense of “exhilaration” at finally returning home with his wife to Manhattan.

Yet there are also many loose ends, and the book’s conclusion, that the assailant has in the end become “simply irrelevant” to him, is implausible. Rushdie presents his survival as an “act of will” and is adamant he does not wish henceforth to retreat into the security cocoon that protected him during the 1990s. He insists he does not want to write “frightened” or “revenge” books. In truth, however, Knife contains elements of both these traits.

As a congenital optimist, Rushdie says he takes “inspiration” from the Nawab of Pataudi (given name Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi), an Indian cricketer whose illustrious career began after he had been “involved in a car accident and had lost the sight of one eye”.

But Rushdie does not mention the similar fate suffered by Colin Milburn, an England international cricketer who lost an eye in a car accident in 1969 and who was never able to recover his sporting career. This was despite several brave comeback attempts by Milburn that likewise cited Pataudi as an example.

Rushdie is a remarkable novelist, whose epic work Midnight’s Children (1981) has twice (in 1993 and 2008) been voted the best-ever winner of the Booker Prize. Knife, by contrast, is a curiously one-eyed book, in a metaphorical, as well as a literal sense.

The author declares his intention to use his own artistic language as “a knife” to “cut open the world and reveal its meaning”. But the challenge for the rest of his writing career will surely involve deploying his extraordinary talents to assimilate these experiences in a more expansive fashion.

This should enable Rushdie to address, like Henry James in his ambitious late phase, the intricate entanglements of a changing world.

March 22nd 2024

13:00 – GREG LUKIANOFFWhat’s behind the campus mental health crisis? Wokeness and rising illiberalism at universities are both to blame

March 20th 2024

Understanding The White Gaze And How It Impacts Your Workplace

Janice Gassam Asare

Senior Contributor

I help create strategies for more diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Dec 28, 2021,07:39pm EST

The white gaze is a term popularized by critically acclaimed writer Toni Morrison. When describing how it operates, Morrison said that it’s this idea that “[Black] lives have no meaning and no depth without the white gaze.” In the simplest terms, the white gaze can be conceptualized as the assumed white reader. When writers craft stories, the assumed white (and often cisgender, heterosexual, male) audience that they are writing for and to is the white gaze in action. The white gaze can be expanded to mean the ways in which whiteness dominates how we think and operate within society. Being encouraged to adhere to white-centered norms and standards is one of the ways that the white gaze operates. To create a world, and more specifically a workplace, that is built on equity, understanding the ways that the white gaze shows up is imperative.

The white gaze is present in innumerable ways in the workplace, with some manifestations being more prevalent than others. Non-white employees sometimes report experiences of the policing of their bodies within the workplace. One of the ways that this is expressed is via standards of professionalism and perfectionism, Aysa Gray elucidates. A quick perusal of corporate policies may reveal discriminatory practices that impact racialized employees. Hair discrimination, for example, affects Black employees because of the notion that Black hair in its most natural state is unprofessional. While some places within the United States are adopting protections for hair discrimination, those who experience this type of discrimination aren’t shielded in every state. Those who work outside of the U.S. may not be protected at all. Corporations often have vague appearance policies, which assumes that there is a one-size-fits-all standard of professionalism. If your workplace, for example, requires hats to be worn as part of a uniform, do the hats fit all hair textures? For employees with thicker and more coarse hair, having a uniform that takes their hair texture into consideration contributes to an inclusive work culture. These subtle nuances are often overlooked since corporate policies and practices are crafted with a white worker in mind.   

In a groundbreaking study conducted by Verónica Caridad Rabelo, Kathrina J. Robotham, and Courtney L. McCluney, the researchers examined over 1,000 tweets under the hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork to assess trends about how the white gaze is experienced by Black women in the workplace. One theme that emerged in their research was the experience of “whiteness as venerated,” which results in whiteness being seen as superior. This can equate to Black women employees being viewed as “incompetent,” which results in lower performance evaluations. A study from the NewsGuild of New York found that employees of color were far more likely to receive low performance reviews compared to their white counterparts. One of the most insidious ways that non-white employees experience the white gaze is via performance evaluations.  

In the aforementioned Rabelo, Robotham & McCluney study, another theme that emerged from the research was the expectation of Black women’s “time, attention, praise, and ideas.” There is a whole other discussion to be had about the co-opting of Black women’s ideas. There is a common practice of racialized employees being used for their education and labor. Since the murder of George Floyd, the desire to learn more about race and racism has amplified. Employees from racially marginalized backgrounds often bear the burden of educating and enlightening white colleagues. There are not enough conversations being had about the impacts of resharing stories of past racial trauma, and how it can re-traumatize individuals who already experience a great deal of racial harm. There is an expectation, Rabelo, Robotham & McCluney note, that many Black women feel where they must participate in conversations about race, even when they have no interest. An example of this could be having to explain what “white privilege” is to a coworker. For many racialized employees, there is an expectation of “performance” in one way or another.

The white gaze also materializes as stereotypes that are applied to different racial groups in the workplace. The bamboo ceiling impacts Asian employees because of assumptions that Asian workers do not possess the skills and abilities that are typically associated with leaders. The problem lies in the fact that Asians, along with other racialized communities, are being measured based on a white and Eurocentric scale. Brianna Holt wrote a compelling piece about how Black women are not allowed to be introverted at work. Women from racialized groups experience tone policing and get ascribed to negative stereotypes based on this white measuring stick. The white gaze continues to cripple non-white workers and until leadership a) understands the white gaze and b) recognizes how to mitigate it, racialized employees will continue to suffer.

Companies committed to interrupting the white gaze must focus on a few things. No progress can be made without education, understanding, and awareness of how the white gaze operates. Bring in consultants, speakers, and researchers to educate employees about the white gaze. Have a human resource consultant that specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion review workplace policies and practices. You may be surprised to learn that policies that seem benign on the surface are actually exclusionary to different populations of workers. Be intentional about involving more racialized employees in decision-making processes. Also recognize that the white gaze isn’t exclusive to just white people; racialized groups growing up in a white-dominant society often internalize negative stereotypes about their own group (which can lead to colorism, anti-blackness, and white adjacency). Despite this, involving people from different racialized backgrounds into the decision-making process may somewhat mitigate the white gaze, but education is the foundation of all other interventions. Lastly, workplaces striving to disrupt the white gaze should encourage education about different racialized groups. This is not only done through books, but via movies, shows, podcasts, and YouTube videos. Instead of having anti-racist book clubs, which some argue may not be effective, saturate employees in alternative forms of education to better their understanding of groups outside of their own.

Janice Gassam Asare


March 18th 2024

The Satellite Hack Everyone Is Finally Talking About

As Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, a network used throughout Europe—and by the Ukrainian military—faced an unprecedented cyberattack that doubled as an industrywide wake-up call.

By Katrina Manson
Illustrations by Jordan Speer

1 March 2023 at 00:01 GMT

Andreas Wickberg loves snowmobiling to the house he built in the icy reaches of Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle. Each month come spring, he and his wife relocate for a week or so to a “very, very isolated” spot about 335 miles northwest of their usual home near Umea, a Swedish university town. Up in Lapland, it’s just them and three other houses. Wickberg develops payment-processing software for a Swedish e-commerce company. What makes this possible is satellite internet: For 500 krona ($45) a month, he and his wife can make work calls by day and stream movies by night.

Just over a year ago, though, they and their neighbors found themselves cut off from the outside world. At 7 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2022, Wickberg turned on his computer and took in the news that Russian President Vladimir Putin had begun an invasion of Ukraine with airstrikes on Kyiv and many other cities. Wickberg read everything he could, aghast. Not long after, a neighbor came around asking to borrow the family’s Wi-Fi password because their internet was on the fritz. Wickberg obliged, but 10 minutes later, his connection dropped, too. When he checked his modem, all four lights were off, meaning the device was no longer communicating with KA-SAT, Viasat Inc.’s 13,560-pound satellite floating 22,236 miles above.

<span style="color:#818181; font-size:110%; font-weight:bold">● The KA-SAT satellite covers Europe with 82 spot beams.</span>
● The KA-SAT satellite covers Europe with 82 spot beams.
Courtesy Airbus

The way each of the connections in his community switched off one by one left him convinced that this wasn’t just a glitch. He concluded Russia had hacked his modem. “It’s a scary feeling,” Wickberg says. “I actually thought that these systems were much more secure, that it was sort of far-fetched that this could even happen.”https://www.bloomberg.com/api/embed/iframe?id=397368689&location=interactive&idType=AVMM

Viasat staffers in the US, where the company is based, were caught by surprise, too. Across Europe and North Africa, tens of thousands of internet connections in at least 13 countries were going dead. Some of the biggest service disruptions affected providers Bigblu Broadband Plc in the UK and NordNet AB in France, as well as utility systems that monitor thousands of wind turbines in Germany. The most critical affected Ukraine: Several thousand satellite systems that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government depended on were all down, making it much tougher for the military and intelligence services to coordinate troop and drone movements in the hours after the invasion.

“I just bought some cheap antennas, pointed them at some satellites and found I could clean up the data from the signals, because nothing is encrypted”

Alerts from customers, engineers and automated systems soon began to flood in via phone, Slack and email, according to a senior Viasat executive who was part of the response team and spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Attackers were overwhelming the customers’ modems with a barrage of malicious traffic and other kinds of attacks. It took Viasat hours solely to stabilize most of its network, and the official says it then spent many weeks fending off subsequent attacks of “increasing intensity.”

It would take 35 days for Viasat to even begin to say publicly what it thought had happened, and 75 days for any country to point the finger officially at Russia. In the meantime, Ukrainian officials trying to reach remote locations were forced to rely where they could on landlines, cellphones, even dispatching runners to reach the front lines. “Industry was caught flat-footed,” says Gregory Falco, a space cybersecurity expert who has advised the US government. “Ukrainians paid the price.”

While Zelenskiy and his deputies have mostly declined to discuss the hack’s impact on their operations, Viktor Zhora, a senior Ukrainian cybersecurity official, told reporters last year that it resulted in “a really huge loss in communications.” The Russian Embassy in Washington denies any responsibility for the attack, dismissing blame as “detached from reality.”

<span style="color:#818181; font-size:110%; font-weight:bold">● US Air Force officers touring the soon-to-open ISAC watch center.</span>
● US Air Force officers touring the soon-to-open ISAC watch center.
Space ISAC

The attack was, however, a wake-up call. “The war is really just revealing the capabilities,” says Erin Miller, who runs the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a trade group that gathers data on orbital threats. Cyberattacks affecting the industry, she says, have become a daily occurrence. The Viasat hack was widely considered a harbinger of attacks to come.

Just about every day, more people around the world rely on satellite internet connections than did the day before. Yet for decades, industry specialists say, the commercial satellite industry has underinvested in security measures and essentially ignored what might happen if its systems were hacked on a grand scale. There are 5,000 active satellites circling the planet, and high-end estimates predict the number will top 100,000 by the end of the decade. While smaller, cheaper satellites are being launched into orbit by the thousands, the machines and the networks that run them remain woefully insecure. Customers who rely on them need a backup plan.

For decades after the dawn of the Space Age, nobody worried much about making satellites tamper-proof—it was tough enough just to put them in orbit. By the 1980s, though, there were more sat systems to play with, and spies and amateurs alike started figuring out how to do it. In 1986, John MacDougall, an American engineer who dubbed himself Captain Midnight, jammed HBO’s signal to protest fee hikes. Today, China, Russia, the US and dozens of other nations have demonstrated that they can hack stuff in space, according to James Pavur, a cybersecurity researcher who recently went to work for the Pentagon as a digital service expert. His research has shown just how easy it is to hack an orbiting satellite, its data transmissions or the ground networks that support them.

Almost all of daily life entails some use of satellites. GPS coordinates and space-based relays are an essential component not only of global communications, military operations and weather forecasting, but also of farms, power grids, transportation networks, ATMs and some digital clocks. All 16 infrastructure sectors the US has designated as critical “depend to a great extent, pretty much all of them, on space systems,” says Sam Visner, a former chief of the National Security Agency’s Signals Intelligence programs who’s now vice chair of the Space ISAC. Visner has argued for years that satellite systems aren’t secure enough, including the ground stations. Pavur says this gear has been hacked at least two dozen times in the past decade or so. As part of his 2019 doctoral thesis at the University of Oxford, he intercepted sensitive communications beamed down to ships and Fortune 500 companies, including crew manifests, passport details and credit card numbers and payments, all with $400 worth of home equipment. “It turns out to be easy,” he says. “I just bought some cheap antennas, pointed them at some satellites and found I could clean up the data from the signals, because nothing is encrypted.”

<span style="color:#818181"><p style="font-size:170%; font-weight:bold">● SSA deception</p>According <a href=
● SSA deceptionAccording to this theory, a devious operator in charge of labeling large fields of orbital debris so satellites can safely avoid them could manipulate Space Situational Awareness (SSA) data to disguise their own spy satellite as a piece of space debris.

In the year before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the US intelligence community warned publicly and privately that Russia was testing its ability to hack and destroy satellite systems. Even so, it remained easy for companies to underestimate the risks—partly because there were so many new intermediaries between them and end users, and partly because space still seemed untouchable. Denial was the norm, allowing businesses to save on infrastructure spending while leaving no single company more responsible than another for a potential catastrophe.

A month before the modems went dead, the NSA issued a warning about multiple vulnerabilities in commercial satellite equipment and recommended a series of security-conscious practices, including encryption, password changes, software updates and steps to keep network management systems isolated from one another. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency also gave classified briefings to industry leaders. President Joe Biden was preparing for the possibility that Russia would invade Ukraine, and he wanted to assess what kinds of cyberattacks Putin might retaliate with if the US imposed economic sanctions, according to a White House official familiar with his thinking, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss national security matters. The official, who says companies need to radically improve the security of satellite ground systems, also says the federal government regularly asks companies privately to patch particular vulnerabilities, and some just don’t.

<span style="color:#818181"><p style="font-size:170%; font-weight:bold">● Seizure of control</p>According to US officials, China took direct control of two Earth observation satellites in 2008, including Landsat 7 (above), by first hacking a ground station.</span>
● Seizure of controlAccording to US officials, China took direct control of two Earth observation satellites in 2008, including Landsat 7 (above), by first hacking a ground station.

The senior Viasat executive says the NSA’s public warning was too vague to serve as a real heads-up. He says the company discussed it with the agency and concluded it wasn’t specifically relevant to Viasat’s operations, which include beaming Wi-Fi connectivity to sensitive government aircraft. But the NSA cited a 2018 paper by Ruben Santamarta, an independent cybersecurity researcher, that might’ve given the company pause. He’d concluded that flaws in a network’s configuration—the settings that keep it running—could leave military modems hackable.

Santamarta says the critical vulnerability of satellite ground systems was plain as day back in 2014, when he wrote a different paper outlining how an invading military could hack and disable mobile satellite terminals and head off a counterattack. When he presented that one, the industry downplayed the threat. Until last year he’d never seen the attack he’d described in real life, but pages 10 and 11 of the 2014 paper, he says, are “literally what happened in Ukraine.”

“If a threat actor has access to the management system, it’s almost game over”

<span style="color:#818181"><p style="font-size:170%; font-weight:bold;">● Solar storms</p>A little over a year ago, a geomagnetic storm triggered by a large burst of radiation from the sun rendered dozens of just-launched SpaceX satellites inoperable.</span>
● Solar stormsA little over a year ago, a geomagnetic storm triggered by a large burst of radiation from the sun rendered dozens of just-launched SpaceX satellites inoperable.

In the weeks after the attack, Wickberg, who read a blog post Santamarta had written about it, sent the researcher one of the affected modems. Santamarta began pulling the hacked device apart with a screwdriver and a hot air gun, using a special reader to examine its rewritable flash memory. In a normal modem, the code that runs the device appears as a bunch of different numbers and word strings. Instead, Santamarta saw a meaningless pattern—junk data that had wiped the modem clean. “It was basically garbage,” he says. After further review, he concluded the modem could be overwritten without any kind of authentication. In other words, Viasat left a door open.

The same day Santamarta was dissecting the modem, Viasat issued an opaque statement that essentially blamed one of its corporate partners. Viasat had flown afflicted modems to California for its own inspections and reverse-engineered the hack, then traced the wiper malware to a management network server, where it discovered what appeared to be a malware toolkit. A month later, with its broadband service still in disarray, Viasat suggested the hack had taken advantage of an embarrassingly basic hole in a part of the network run by Skylogic SpA. Skylogic was meant to secure the system with virtual private network software. “Subsequent investigation and forensic analysis identified a ground-based network intrusion by an attacker exploiting a misconfiguration in a VPN appliance,” Viasat said in its statement. Mark Dankberg, then the company’s executive chairman, said the attack “was preventable, but we didn’t have that capability.”

<span style="color:#818181"><p style="font-size:170%; font-weight:bold;">● Jamming</p>Radio signals can be deployed to interfere with satellite data transmissions. Russia has jammed GPS signal receivers in Ukraine, according to US Space Command. Elon Musk has said Starlink terminals near active fighting have also been jammed for hours at a time.</span>
● JammingRadio signals can be deployed to interfere with satellite data transmissions. Russia has jammed GPS signal receivers in Ukraine, according to US Space Command. Elon Musk has said Starlink terminals near active fighting have also been jammed for hours at a time.
Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Skylogic’s parent company, the French telecom Eutelsat Communications SA, acknowledges that a VPN in Turin, Italy, where Skylogic is based, was the entry point for the hack, but denies responsibility. It says that the key flaws were in Viasat’s modem equipment, the target of the advanced attack, and that flaws in the user part of the ecosystem were a “well-known fact.” Santamarta says hacking one part of a complex network shouldn’t give you access to all of it. “If a threat actor has access to the management system, it’s almost game over,” he says.

In the wake of the hack, neither company mentioned seeking out the perpetrator or uttered the name Russia. For months, Viasat declined further public comment on the matter, irking US officials, peers and researchers. It simply replaced more than 45,000 affected modems and kept its head down. Privately, Viasat executives joined a classified briefing about the hack that the US intelligence community gave to a range of worried commercial space companies in late March, according to several attendees. Some guests received security clearances for the day. While one attendee says the briefing lacked key details required to put reforms into action, another says it succeeded at one thing: forcing the issue.

Under a Hack

An attacker has lots of ways to get into a satellite internet network. Here’s what happened to Viasat’s KA-SAT, and what didn’t.https://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/6ca25b45adaf4cb6a282589a9e1f8804?hideLogo=true&hideTitles=true&web=true&

By then, US officials had begun telling reporters that Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, was responsible for the attack. Researchers determined that a piece of malware called ukrop, which had been anonymously uploaded to a public repository in mid-March, was the same wiper used against Viasat. (Ukrop is a Russian slur for Ukrainians but could also be short for “Ukraine operation.”) In the malware’s code, they found similarities to a 2018 virus that the US had attributed to a Russian hacking group with alleged GRU ties.

One of the most significant insights US intelligence gleaned was that the Russians were prepared to take significant diplomatic and strategic risks. They knew spillover from the satellite attack would affect countries outside Ukraine but decided to proceed anyway.

For Anne Neuberger, US deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity and emerging technologies, drawing private conclusions wasn’t enough. She wanted consequences. The US quietly spent six weeks talking allies in the affected area into publicly blaming Russia. That was more complicated than it might sound: As a matter of policy, many countries simply don’t attribute responsibility for cyberattacks to other nations for fear of hurting diplomatic relations or inciting further attacks. (And Washington’s intelligence claims haven’t always proven reliable.) “Attribution is still very uncomfortable to many countries because, at the end of the day, it’s political,” Neuberger says, “but this is also why it is so important.” To make the case, the US Department of State and intelligence agencies shared broad technical information with the European Union and classified intel with France and Germany to overcome the influential members’ initial reluctance, says a European official who’s not authorized to speak publicly.

Eventually, in May, the EU released a strongly worded statement censuring Russia for targeting the KA-SAT network. “This unacceptable cyberattack is yet another example of Russia’s continued pattern of irresponsible behaviour in cyberspace, which also formed an integral part of its illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” the statement read. The US was careful to point the finger second, and the UK, Canada and Australia joined, too. The American government also sent satellite terminals to Ukraine.

Jordan Speer

These countries are still dithering over how to improve satellite security for the long term. “There’s not a lot of coordinated action in the US right now,” says Falco, the space cybersecurity expert, who’s part of a new effort to establish global standards. “No one really has the ball.” Much of this comes down to complex supply chains and simple self-interest. Many satellite companies fight regulation, even if it comes with more classified briefings and better intel, because they don’t want to deal with the red tape—or invest in making their systems safer. Viasat, for its part, is among holdouts that haven’t joined the Space ISAC, the info-sharing trade group. (The company says it will join, though it wouldn’t say when.) Over the past year, the group’s 65 members have run a series of tabletop war games modeling responses to similar attacks.

One lesson of the Viasat hack is the need for alternatives to satellite communications. Armies may struggle to stay online if they rely on civilian operators reluctant to go up against military-grade hackers, and the US and its NATO allies have urgently sought backup systems for future conflicts. Elon Musk’s Starlink Inc.—a private network of thousands of tiny satellites, rather than one massive one, like KA-SAT—came to the rescue in Ukraine. But private networks aren’t panaceas. Musk has said Starlink, too, has faced repeated jamming and hack attempts and has also refused to facilitate long-range drone strikes.

In September, the head of the Russian delegation to a United Nations working group on space threats said commercial satellites used to support enemy militaries may also become “a legitimate target for retaliation.” “It seems like our colleagues do not realize that such actions in fact constitute indirect involvement in military conflicts,” diplomat Konstantin Vorontsov told attendees in Geneva. Humanitarian groups seem to be in rare, uncomfortable agreement. The International Committee of the Red Cross said in February that military space systems need to be kept separate from civilian ones.

In the US, the Pentagon’s public efforts to strengthen satellite defenses have centered on Hack-a-Sat, a competition now in its fourth year. It offers a $50,000 grand prize (plus street cred) to teams of researchers who hack simulated satellites and write reports on their tactics and the systems’ vulnerabilities. Teams are scored based on their completion of virtual challenges and their attacks on rivals’ systems. At the next qualifier, in April, 800 teams are expected to compete to commandeer a live satellite in orbit later this year.

<span style="color:#818181; font-size:110%; font-weight:bold">● <a href=
The Hack-a-Sat YouTube channel.

Steve Colenzo, a US Air Force computer scientist who helps run the competition, says his team is trying to build trust and lend the military a sense of cool. Speaking against a video backdrop reminiscent of the 1990s movie Hackers, he acknowledges that it’s a leap. The Hack-a-Sat website is daubed in graffiti and has a skull-and-crossbones insignia. “We must do what it takes to secure the universe,” it reads, and build “a global alliance of hackers, researchers and everyday enthusiasts who nerd out on hacking and securing the future of space.”

Viasat says it has actively shared what it can with law enforcement officials and other stakeholders. It shared additional findings with Bloomberg Businessweek, but the details still fall short of explaining how the attackers made their way through the system or targeted particular areas. The company says its caginess owes to its prioritizing security, and stresses that it wasn’t in control of the network that was hacked.

For many in the cybersecurity industry, the most striking thing about the Viasat hack is that, unlike with a phishing attack, there was nothing Wickberg or the Ukrainian military could’ve done to prevent it. “The victim didn’t do anything,” says Juan Andrés Guerrero-Saade, senior director of research at SentinelOne, a cybersecurity firm that analyzed the malware. “All you had to do was wake up that morning and drink your coffee and get infected.” Put another way: Satellite connections could start blinking off again at any time. Critical systems can’t fully count on them, nor can people who live a ways off from everyone else.

Since the attack, the broader psychology of denial has begun to dissolve. In March the Space ISAC is due to open a facility in Colorado Springs that aims to keep a more active eye on threats to its members, including hacks, signal jams and other attacks on satellites and their supply chains. A US law passed last year will soon require all critical infrastructure companies to report any significant cyberattacks to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within 72 hours.

There’s a lot left to do. The satellite services industry remains convoluted and opaque, especially to customers who may have no idea how many intermediaries are involved in their service, according to research by MJ Emanuel, an incident response analyst at CISA. Ground-based parts of the systems, which are generally a mess of connections, networks and third parties, can be especially vulnerable for this reason. Also, it’s tough to fix code in space. Guerrero-Saade, a former national security adviser to the president of Ecuador, says companies at all levels of the industry need to spend less time lobbying and more time improving their security. Governments, he says, need to take a more interventionist stance.

For the companies, the business repercussions of the hack have been minimal. Valued at $469 billion in 2021, the industry has continued growing steadily. Viasat’s business, too, seems to be fine—even though, according to the senior executive, threats against the KA-SAT network are ongoing. Viasat says it has continued to implement changes but wouldn’t describe them. “The Russians had to know quite a bit about Viasat’s system in order to execute this,” Falco says. “It is super, super repeatable.”

March 17th 2024



A History. General (US: Trade)


Cook, Robert

BuchKartoniert, Paperback


In den Warenkorb

Where Do Humans Fit in the Universe? This Physicist Wants to Change Your Perspective

In Waves in an Impossible Sea, Matt Strassler explains how human life is intimately connected to the larger cosmos.


Isaac Schultz

PublishedMarch 9, 2024

Comments (12)

An artist's concept of a particle collision.
An artist’s concept of a particle collision.

Pondering the scale of the cosmos can feel as if you’re peering over the edge of the brink; it can be daunting enough to make you want to flee to the comforts of working, commuting, and other quotidian endeavors. But in Waves in an Impossible Sea: How Everyday Life Emerges From the Cosmic Ocean, theoretical physicist and science communicator Matt Strassler doesn’t flinch in the face of the universe.

Published this week, Strassler’s book expands on the ideas he’s explored for years on his blog, Of Particular Significance. Readers are given a window into how the fundamental laws that govern the universe shape our daily experiences, and how even the most exotic phenomena are not as alien to our day-to-day as they may seem.

Strassler recently spoke with Gizmodo about the book’s origins and goals. Below is our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

Isaac Schultz, Gizmodo: There’s this interesting dichotomy between the physics that’s happening here on Earth, what I call “looking down,” and the physics that’s astronomical observation—“looking up,” so to speak. And I was wondering if you have thought about the same thing, and how you see that relationship.

Matt Strassler: One of the first things I try to do in the book is to break that dichotomy down. Because we do have this tendency to think about the universe writ large, this big place that we live in. And then there’s kind of this tiny stuff going on inside of us or inside of the materials around us, and we don’t really connect them. But of course, they are profoundly connected. And, you know, the universe—we used to call it outer space, and we think of it as mostly a vacuum. It’s emptiness. But the stuff that’s inside of us is also mostly empty. It’s the same emptiness. And so there is no distinction between the outer-ness and the inner-ness. It’s the same stuff doing many of the same things. We’re not disconnected from that larger universe. We’re actually, in some sense, made from it. And so, that is a message which I wanted to be able to convey that I hope will change people’s perspective on how they think about what it is to be alive in this universe. That we don’t just live in it, but we grow from it in a very meaningful sense: not just in a spiritual one, but in a very explicit physics sense.

Gizmodo: Yeah. Whenever I’m slightly stressed out, I remind myself that I am just dying particles.

Strassler: We are much more than that. But even when we say we are particles, we are missing something. In English, by a particle we mean a little localized thing, like a dust particle, that’s not connected to everything else. But when we understand that what we call particles are actually little ripples, little waves in the fields of the universe, and the fields of the universe extend everywhere. Across the entire universe. That’s a very different way of understanding what we’re made from. We’re not made from these little localized things that move around in a universe. We’re made from ripples of a universe, and that is a very different picture.

Gizmodo: The crux of the book is this relationship between our modern understanding of physics and human life, human existence as we experience it. When you were writing the book, did you have a specific reader in mind? Who do you hope will, you know, stumble across this title and pick it up?

Strassler: There are certainly some readers who read a lot of particle physics books already, and I hope that for them, what I’m providing is a way of looking at something they already know. And in particular a way of understanding what the Higgs field is all about. For those readers, it’s something they will not have seen before. But I also had in mind that there are a lot of friends of mine, family members, who don’t read the books about particle physics precisely because they’re rather difficult to understand and often seem irrelevant to their lives. The goal of this book was to strip away, as much as possible, the things that don’t matter to our ordinary daily existence and focus on the things that do. And try to tell a story, which certainly doesn’t explain all of particle physics by any means, but walks a path that takes the reader through all of the things that they would need to know to start from scratch and come out the end with a sense for how the universe works and how we fit in it.

I hope that I’ve provided a path for a reader who is curious but willing to take the time that it requires to understand subjects that are that aren’t hard just because “physics is hard.” They’re hard because the universe is hard. It’s hard for me. I can’t make it any easier than it is for me.

Gizmodo: That’s going to be the headline. “Physicist Confesses: ‘It’s Hard For Me, Too.’”

Strassler: Okay. I’m happy with that.

Gizmodo: How did this book emerge from the work that you’ve been doing for years?

Strassler: I was a full-time academic scientist for a good two decades. I had always been interested in doing public outreach. But I had never had really that much time being a full-time scientist. There was a certain moment in my career where it wasn’t clear what I wanted to do next. And I started a blog at that point. That was just before the expected and then actual discovery of what is known as the particle called the Higgs boson.

Image: Basic Books

The story of the Higgs particle is really a story of a field known as the Higgs field, which is much more important to us than the Higgs particle is. The Higgs field affects our lives in all sorts of ways. But to understand what the Higgs field is and how it does what it does, which is typically what people ask me, requires some understanding of both Einstein’s relativity and quantum physics. There wasn’t any way to write the book without starting with those things. Even though explaining the Higgs field was the original motivation, I discovered that really this is a book about what we know today based on the last 125 years of scientific research in physics: what is the big picture? How does it all fit together? And once you see that—once you understand what particles actually are and how they emerge from relativity on the one hand and quantum physics on the other—then it’s not so hard to explain what the Higgs field is. But you have to spend two-thirds of the book to get to that point.

Gizmodo: When you say to someone that you’re going to open with relativity and quantum physics, it’s a great way to end the conversation.

Strassler: There is that risk, right? But that’s part of why I really opened with the questions about those subjects that are not even obviously about them. They are questions about daily life. And the fact is that these subjects, which seem remote and very esoteric… they’re not. They’re deeply ingrained in ordinary human experience. And that was really what I wanted to convey in this book, that these rather strange-sounding subjects that originate with Einstein and are made often in the media and by scientists to seem, “gee whiz”—and they are—they’re more than that. They are the foundations of our daily experiences. And so I wanted to bring that sense of how important these things are to us, to all of us.

Gizmodo: I think that, scientists on the one hand and science communicators on the other, struggle with this issue of, well, it’s not going to be possible to convey all the nuance in, say, a 400-word article. It’s just not going to happen. It’s more about writing the least-wrong thing than the most-right thing. You wrote a book that grapples with complex science. How were you checking to make sure that this would actually grok to the average reader?

Strassler:It helps that I have had the blog for 10 years. I also have some humility about how well I have achieved this goal. That’s partly because I know these are difficult subjects. They’re not difficult in the sense of that you have to know mathematics to grapple with them, but they’re difficult in the sense that they are just strange and difficult for scientists to wrap their heads around. I know that whatever methods I have used in the book, they’re going to work for some people on some pages and for other people on other pages. And so one of the things that I’m doing with my website is, I’m creating a whole wing of the website whose goal is to add additional information. For example, the figures, some will be animated on the website to give greater clarity. The goal is to really explain the science, and I’m not done with that part.

Gizmodo: It’s been over ten years since the Higgs discovery. How do you go about writing this book, thinking about a post-Higgs world and trying to address the next big question?

Strassler:In a sense, the discovery of the Higgs boson and the lack of any immediate discoveries thereafter over the ensuing 10 years—leaving aside gravitational waves, which were discovered in 2015—has put our understanding of the universe into a very interesting place. It’s like having a short story which is complete but has all sorts of loose ends, which fits into a larger narrative which we don’t understand. And so it’s kind of a perfect moment to describe what we know and what we don’t. And really break it into those two parts.

There was a way in which, 10 years after the Higgs discovery, and also with the discovery of gravitational waves, things came out more or less the way we thought they would. There were no huge surprises that completely changed the way we think about things. So it’s a good moment to take stock and to look at what we have learned from Einstein’s relativity, on the one hand, and from quantum physics and all of its realization in particle physics on the other, and see how it all fits together and try to really describe that as a package.

To use a cliche, it’s really more like the end of the beginning here. We have achieved something that is really remarkable in the past 125 years. But we’re clearly also in some ways still at the beginning of our understanding of how the universe really works.

Gizmodo: One question that I was left with was basically, where is this next breakthrough going to come from? Do you have any particular preference for the variety of wonderful experiments going on right now in particle physics, in plans for gravitational wave observatories, all that jazz? What are you most excited about on the physical horizon?

Strassler: All the way up to the discovery of the Higgs boson, there has been a path. But there’s always been something where it’s clear that there are things we need to know that in some way feed into the deepest questions about how the universe works. And for the first time in 150 years, that is no longer true.

We do not now have a clear path. We have many possible paths, and we don’t really know which one is the best one. And this is part of why there is so much controversy about particle physics right now. It’s because there are definitely things that we know give us a decent chance of finding something new. But we don’t have the kind of confidence that we would have had 30 years ago or 60 years ago, that the next wave of experiments definitely will answer one or more of the questions that we have.

So when you ask me what is my preferred direction, I would prefer that the Large Hadron Collider, which has 10 more years to run, discover something. Because that would make it a lot easier to know what to do next. And the machine will run for 10 more years, producing 10 times as much data. So we do have that opportunity. But, I would like a clue from nature before answering that question.

Gizmodo: You mention that the LHC is keeps on ticking and you know, the high-luminosity LHC is on the horizon. Do you anticipate that kind of juicing the the collider will yield results?

Strassler: I’m not a person to express optimism or pessimism about what nature may deliver to us. I mean, I don’t think I have the insights into nature to guess. But what I can say is that there is an enormous amount still to do, even with the data that we have. It is certainly possible that there is something to discover in the existing LHC data, in addition to the opportunities that having 10 times that data will offer. So, I think people are sometimes too quick to imagine that, “oh well, the LHC looked. It’s not there. We’re done.” No, no, no, no. The LHC produces an enormous pile of data, and every analysis you do has to cut through that data in a particular way.

I wouldn’t say optimistic or pessimistic, but I would say I’m cognizant of the fact that there is still a tremendous amount left to do at the LHC, and we should definitely not be writing it off at all at this point. What we can probably say with some certainty is that the most popular ideas for what might be found at the Large Hadron Collider are mostly ruled out or unlikely at this point, but there are plenty of things, plenty of examples in history where the thing that was really interesting was something that no theoretical physicist had imagined. And we may just need to be really imaginative about how we analyze the data at the LHC.

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March 13th 2024

University of Cambridge to scrap its state school targets

Aerial view of some University of Cambridge colleges
Image caption, The university has a current target of at least 69% of its students from state schools.

By Branwen Jeffreys and Helen Burchell

BBC News, Cambridgeshire

The University of Cambridge looks set to drop admission targets for undergraduates coming from state schools.

It currently aims to admit at least 69% of students from non-private settings.

Like other universities, Cambridge has to submit plans to the Office for Students (OfS) on how it will ensure equality of access.

The university said it was working on a new access plan that would take a wider range of factors into account.

A university spokesperson said its decision took into account guidance from OfS, the independent regulator of higher education in England.

They said the focus of the OfS was now on individual students and likely outcomes rather than broader categorisations such as school type.

Students outside the University of Cambridge
Image caption, Cambridge has seen a steady increase in state school students going to the university

The university is consulting on a five-year Access and Participation Plan (APP) that would begin in 2025, which would move away from a numerical target to draw on a wide range of data including whether applicants received free school meals.

The university said academic standards would not be lowered.

Cambridge has faced significant criticism for admitting almost half of its students from London and the South East, including from state grammar schools with more socially privileged intakes.

The current vice chancellor Deborah Prentice has made clear she is interested in attracting more of the brightest students from across the north of England.

The spokesperson told the BBC: “The university will continue to take into account an applicant’s schooling, particularly if they come from a school which has not seen many applications to Cambridge.

“Other socio-economic factors will also be considered in the application process to indicate disadvantage of opportunity, as occurs at present.

“Consideration of an applicant’s school type in isolation is not a factor that the Office for Students would expect to see as a specific target in the Access and Participation Plan, however.

“The collegiate university is committed to widening participation and will continue to assess all applicants holistically and in line with admissions policy.”

Students walking in Cambridge
Image caption, Education and socio-economic data would be taken into account when assessing potential students, Ms Prentice said

John Blake, director for fair access and participation at the OfS, said:”We would expect our most selective universities to consider carefully how to deploy their resources to ensure that all students who could practically benefit from their educational offer can access it, for example by undertaking sustained work with schools to help raise attainment among students from disadvantaged backgrounds, but we do not require a target on the proportion of pupils from state schools entering a particular university.”

Mike Nicholson, the university’s director of recruitment, admissions and participation, said data now available to the university allowed it to work out whether the potential student had “access to great support or whether they had been left to find the path themselves”.

“The challenge we have is that there are many, many more students getting the grades that we require for entry, than we have places to accommodate, so what we’re trying to do is use all the information at our disposal to identify the students who will be really, really developed by being here,” he said.

“What we’re trying to ensure is [that we are not] rejecting students out of hand without looking at the context and the circumstances that they’ve been educated in, and are studying in.”

March 11th 2024

List of killings by law enforcement officers in the United Kingdom


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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This list of people killed by law enforcement officers in the United Kingdom documents cases of people who died directly or indirectly because of the actions of British law enforcement officers, regardless of the manner of death, duty status of the officers, or if they acted officially or unofficially. It includes officers working for all law enforcement agencies, existing or historical, in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, but excludes crown dependencies, colonies or other political entities subject or previously subjected to the direct control of the government of the United Kingdom. It also excludes deaths for which other government agents are responsible, such as deaths as a result of actions of the British Armed Forces.

Many of the killings were by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Police in Northern Ireland killed 56 people during the conflict, including at least 30 civilians and at least 20 paramilitary members.[1][2]

Single deaths in a single incident


NameDateLocationPolice forceResult of police actionDescriptionRuling
Bryce Hodgson30 January 2024Southwark, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectShot by police after breaking in to a property armed with a crossbow and other weapons.[3]
Giedrius Vasiljevas23 November 2023Dagenham, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectShot by police after threatening to take his own life with a gun.[4]
Helen Holland10 May 2023West London, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectA police motorcycle escorting Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh struck 81-year-old Helen Holland at an intersection. Holland was hospitalised and later died.[5]
Sergii Kuzmenko20 December 2022Carlisle, EnglandCumbria ConstabularyDirectShot after making threats with a knife at a property in Carlisle.[6]Inquest opened in January 2023. No further news as to ruling as of December 2023.[7]
Marius Ciolac7 October 2022Derby, EnglandDerbyshire ConstabularyDirectArmed officers shot a man allegedly wielding a knife outside a police station. Taser and baton rounds were reported to have been discharged at the male before he was finally shot, a number of knives were found at the scene of the incident.[8]Inquest opened in November 2022 and adjourned to a date yet to be fixed.[9]
Chris Kaba[10]5 September 2022Streatham Hill, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectPolice followed a vehicle being driven by Chris Kaba. Vehicle stopped after being blocked by Armed Police. Subject was subsequently shot after ramming police vehicles and taken to hospital where he died.[11] The officer was suspended from duty while being investigated for murder, the case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service by the police in 2023.Inquest opened in October 2022.[12]
Unidentified Man11 December 2021Kensington, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectPolice responded to reports of a man with a firearm in Kensington after he raided a bank and bookmakers. Around 20 minutes later, police shot the gunman dead as he travelled in the back of a taxi. A non police firearm was recovered from the scene.[13]
Odichukumma Kelvin Igweani26 June 2021Milton Keynes, EnglandThames Valley PoliceDirectPolice were called to a property in Milton Keynes where they found a young child seriously injured and another man dead after reportedly trying to save the child. A taser was deployed before officers shot the assailant dead.[14][15]Lawfully killing[16]
Graham Trinder8 November 2020Swindon, EnglandWiltshire PoliceDirectWiltshire Police reported attending a call of two men “arguing in the street”, during this incident, a man was shot dead by a responding officer. Cleared of any misconduct by the IOPC and it was stated a non-police issue firearm was found at the scene.[17]Inquest opened in November 2020[18]
Badreddin Abadlla Adam26 June 2020Glasgow, ScotlandPolice ScotlandDirectAdam was shot by armed officers after he stabbed several people at the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow.[19]
Hassan Yahya8 March 2020Westminster, LondonCity of London Police[20]DirectShot after challenging officers with knives.[21]
Sudesh Amman2 February 2020Streatham, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectShot after stabbing three people with a machete while wearing a fake explosive belt.[22][23]Lawfully killing[24]
William Cameron6 January 2020Loddon Valley police station, BerkshireThames Valley PoliceUnknownA police sergeant and a health care professional are subject to a criminal investigation in relation to his death after he arrived at the Loddon station in a state of unconsciousness.[25][26]


NameDateLocationPolice forceResult of police actionDescriptionRuling
Usman Khan29 November 2019LondonCity of London Police and Metropolitan PoliceDirectKhan stabbed five people – two of whom later died – in the vicinity of London Bridge. He was wearing a fake explosive vest, and was shot 11 times by police, dying at the scene.[27][28]Lawful killing[29]
Leroy Junior Medford2 April 2019Reading, EnglandThames Valley PoliceIndirectMedford was arrested on 1 April 2019. While in custody he swallowed drugs he was carrying.[30] Despite several opportunities to implement the Drugs Standard Operating Procedure, officers failed to do so. Proper care and monitoring was not provided, leading to his deteriorating health being unnoticed. He later died in hospital.[31]Failure to implement, the Drugs Standard Operating Procedure.[31]
Trevor Smith15 March 2019Birmingham, EnglandWest Midlands PoliceDirectShot by police who surrounded a property. Police said a non-police issued firearm was recovered from the property.[32]Lawful killing[33]
Sean Fitzgerald4 January 2019Coventry, EnglandWest Midlands PoliceDirectShot, while unarmed, during an arrest operation at a property. Witnesses reported hearing four or five gunshots. Two other men were arrested at the scene on suspicion of cultivating cannabis.[34]
Richard Cottier9 April 2018Romford, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectCottier called police in the early hours of the morning telling them he had taken an overdose and claiming he had a gun. A member of the public also informed police of a man with a gun. Officers found Cottier at a petrol station and fired two shots. He died at the scene.[35][36]Lawful killing[37]
Nuno Cardoso24 November 2017Oxford, EnglandThames Valley PoliceIndirectAfter being confronted by officers at his student residence at Ruskin College, Oxford, Cardoso was wrestled to ground, held face down with an officer sitting on his legs. He was then struck with a baton to the back of his knee.[38] Cardoso collapsed in the back of a police van due to ingestion of alcohol, cocaine and morphine.[39][40] Officers failed to follow guidance to take him to a nearby hospital, instead heading to Abingdon Police station, before his collapse en route.[41]Uncritical narrative conclusion[41]
Spencer Ashworth27 September 2017Portishead, EnglandAvon and Somerset PoliceDirectPolice responded to reports of a man in a car with a handgun threatening other drivers. Firearms officers discharged 15 rounds of ammunition during the incident after Ashworth raised his weapon and fired at police.[42] After shots had been fired he was removed from the car by officers, who began resuscitation attempts. A non-police issued firearm (air pistol) was recovered.[43]Lawful killing[44]
Khalid Masood[45]22 March 2017Westminster, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectAfter using a vehicle to hit and kill pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, Masood ran into the grounds of the Palace of Westminster, where he fatally stabbed an unarmed police officer. An armed police officer, believed to have been the Metropolitan Police close protection officer for Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, witnessed the stabbing, ran towards the scene and fatally shot Masood.[46]Lawful killing[47]
Yassar Yaqub[48]2 January 2017Huddersfield, EnglandWest Yorkshire PoliceDirectYaqub was shot by police at junction 24 of the M62, after they received a tip-off that people in the vehicle were in possession of a firearm.[49] A firearm was recovered from the scene.[50]Lawful killing
Lewis Skelton[51]29 November 2016Hull, EnglandHumberside PoliceDirectPolice responded to reports of Skelton wielding an axe, and after deploying tasers, he was shot by armed response officers and died of his wounds in hospital.[52][53]Unlawful killing. The firearm’s officer who shot Skelton did not face misconduct proceedings.[54]
Josh Pitt[55]9 November 2016Luton, EnglandBedfordshire PoliceDirectPolice responded to assist a woman in a flat. After police arrival, Pitt barricaded himself in a room with a hostage and a number of knives, making threats to hurt the hostage. A taser was deployed but despite this he attempted to stab a police officer and was shot in the chest.[56] He was treated by officers and paramedics before being taken to hospital, where he died. Police recovered a “number of knives”.[57]Lawful killing[56]
Dalian Atkinson15 August 2016Telford, EnglandWest Mercia PoliceIndirect (underlying health condition)Police responded to a call that Atkinson was in a “manic state” and was threatening to kill his father.[58] After being tasered, Atkinson went into cardiac arrest on the way to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.[59]Unlawful killing. One police officer involved was found guilty of manslaughter and was given an eight-year prison sentence.[60]
William Smith[61]2 May 2016Goudhurst, EnglandKent PoliceDirectPolice fatally shot Smith during an armed operation. Smith was on bail in connection with the death of a 73-year-old man.[61] Non-police issue firearms were recovered from the address in question.[62]Lawful killing[63]
James Wilson[64]29 March 2016South Shields, EnglandNorthumbria PoliceDirectWilson was shot by a plastic bullet, and a live round from a police firearm after he refused to lower the rifle he was carrying, after being told to do so seven times.[65] He was taken to hospital, but died on 1 April.[64]Lawful killing[66]
Jermaine Baker[67]11 December 2015Wood Green, LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectThree men were planning to free Izzet Eren, who was being taken in a prison van to Wood Green Crown Court over firearms offences. Armed police intercepted the men. Baker, who was in the front seat, was fatally shot as police surrounded his vehicle. He was unarmed, although there was an imitation Uzi in the rear foot-well behind the driver’s seat.[68][69]Lawful killing[70]
Richard Davies[71]21 October 2015St Neots, EnglandCambridgeshire PoliceDirectDavies threatened to kill his children and fired at police a number of times before he was shot once in the chest and killed by officers.[71]Lawful killing[72]
James Fox[73]30 August 2015LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectShot by police after reportedly making threats to kill both a child and adult.[74] An air pistol was recovered from the scene.[75]Lawful killing[74]
Sheku Bayoh[76]3 May 2015Kirkcaldy, ScotlandPolice ScotlandUnclear (inquest ongoing)Bayoh was taken into police custody whilst α-PVP was in his system. It was reported he had been brandishing a knife but this was later disproved by video footage. He sustained bruising from police batons, had his arms and legs restrained and died of asphyxiation in police custody.Inquest ongoing
Matthew Williams[77]6 November 2014Argoed, WalesGwent PoliceIndirect (combination of police restraint and fatal drug overdose)[78]Williams, who had recently been released from prison, attacked and killed a 22-year-old woman, identified as Cerys Yemm. Police responded to a 999 call to find Williams eating Yemm’s corpse and shouted a warning, which Williams ignored. PC Alan Cotterell and several unidentified officers then tasered Williams before handcuffing him. Williams became unresponsive and died shortly after.
Dean Joseph[79][80][81]5 September 2014LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectShot by a police marksman after holding a woman at gunpoint in an armed standoff.[82]Lawful killing[82]
Anthony Grainger3 March 2012Culcheth, EnglandGreater Manchester PoliceDirectGrainger was shot by police while sitting unarmed in a stolen vehicle. In January 2014 the Crown Prosecution Service announced they would be prosecuting Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy under health and safety legislation over the shooting, and a full public inquiry into Grainger’s death was announced in early 2016.[83]Greater Manchester Police found to be at fault.[84] However, in January 2015, William Boyce QC, at Liverpool Crown Court accepted an ‘abuse of process’ argument from the defence.
Mark Duggan4 August 2011LondonMetropolitan PoliceDirectDuggan was known to possess illegal firearms. Police stated that officers were attempting to arrest Duggan on suspicion of planning an attack, and possession of a handgun. Duggan died from a gunshot wound to the chest. The killing resulted in public protests in Tottenham, which led to conflict with police and escalated into riots across London and other English cities. In January 2014 a jury returned the verdict of lawful killing.[85]Lawful killing[86]
Kingsley Burrell[87]31 March 2011Birmingham, EnglandWest Midlands PoliceIndirect (cardiac arrest following restraint)Died in hospital as a result of asphyxiation after being detained under the Mental Health Act and left in a face-down position on a hospital bed.[87] One police officer of the West Midlands Police was sacked due to gross misconduct having given a misleading account to investigators. His actions were not found to be contributory to Burrell’s death.[88] Injuries from restraint were not found to be the cause of Burrell’s death.Inconclusive
Marc Ringland3 February 2011Belfast, Northern IrelandPolice Service of Northern IrelandDirectWhile robbing a petrol station armed with a knife, Ringland threatened an off-duty police officer, who then fired a single shot with his authorised personal protection handgun, fatally wounding him.[89]
Olaseni Lewis3 September 2010LondonMetropolitan PoliceIndirect (died as a result of restraint by police and medical staff)After being admitted to a mental health ward, Lewis died 3 days after a period of prolonged restraint by police officers. It was identified that a litany of failures by both police and medical staff contributed to Lewis’s death.[90] The misconduct case was dismissed on 6 October 2017 as claims of wrongdoing were “unproven” and any failings were “performance matters”.[91]Narrative conclusion after unlawful killing ruled out by coroner.[92]


NameDateLocationPolice forceDescription
Keith Richards[93]12 May 2009Shildon, EnglandDurham ConstabularyShot after brandishing a crossbow and urging police to shoot him.[93]
Ian Tomlinson1 April 2009LondonMetropolitan PoliceTomlinson collapsed and died after being struck by a police officer during the 2009 G-20 summit protests. After an inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing, the officer, Simon Harwood, was prosecuted for manslaughter. He was found not guilty but was dismissed from the police service for gross misconduct.
Mervyn Tussler[94]8 May 2009Fernhurst, EnglandSussex PoliceTussler fired on police officers from his bed in his sheltered accommodation.[94] Inquest jury returned a verdict of lawful killing.[94]
David Sycamore[95]30 November 2008Guildford, EnglandSurrey PoliceShot after brandishing a replica pistol and saying he would “start shooting people”.[95]
Andrew Hammond[96]29 October 2008Harold Hill, LondonMetropolitan PoliceShot after pointing a replica AK-47 at armed police officers who responded to reports of a man brandishing a firearm in the street.[97]
Sean Rigg21 August 2008Brixton, LondonMetropolitan PoliceRigg died following a cardiac arrest while in police custody at the entrance to Brixton police station. The Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded that there was no evidence of neglect or wrongdoing and that police had acted “reasonably and proportionately”. The case became a cause célèbre for civil rights and justice campaigners in the UK, who called for “improvement and change on a national level” regarding deaths in police custody and police treatment of suspects with mental health issues.[98]
Habib Ullah[99]3 July 2008High Wycombe, EnglandThames Valley PoliceSuffered cardiac arrest whilst being restrained during search.
Mark Saunders[100]6 May 2008LondonMetropolitan PoliceSaunders fired a number of shots from his shotgun from his house at neighbouring houses. On arrival of armed police he shot at them. After a length stand off, he was shot by police when he pointed his firearm in their direction.[100]
Dayniel Tucker[101]29 December 2007Stansted, EnglandKent PoliceShot after pointing a replica Uzi sub-machine gun at police.[101]
Ann Sanderson[102]11 June 2007Sevenoaks, EnglandKent PoliceSanderson was shot in an armed standoff with police while armed with an air pistol. Sanderson had mental health issues and had bought an air gun days before her death. The case was ruled as a lawful killing as Sanderson had instigated the incident.[103]
Terry Nicholas[104]15 May 2007Ealing, LondonMetropolitan PoliceNicholas fired at police officers and was fatally shot by firearms officers.[104]
Robert Haines31 October 2006New Romney, KentMetropolitan PoliceHaines undertook an armed robbery and fired at police. Police returned fire.[105] Haines died of his wounds en route to hospital.[106]
Steven Colwell16 April 2006Ballynahinch, Northern IrelandPolice Service of Northern IrelandShot after attempting to evade a police checkpoint in a stolen car.[107][108]
Philip Marsden[109]19 December 2005Meir, EnglandStaffordshire PoliceShot after adopting a “firing stance” while carrying an imitation firearm and a sword.[109]
Craig King[110]11 September 2005Ashton-under-Lyne, EnglandGreater Manchester PoliceKing had been involved in a disturbance where he was destroying property with a machete, before firing shots into a building occupied by unarmed police. On arrival of armed police, King pointed his .22 calibre rifle at them and was shot by police.[111]
Jean Charles de Menezes22 July 2005LondonMetropolitan PoliceMenezes was a Brazilian man killed by officers at Stockwell Station on the London Underground after he was wrongly deemed to be one of the fugitives involved in the previous day’s failed bombing attempts. These events took place two weeks after the London bombings of 7 July 2005, in which 52 people were killed. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) launched two investigations. In July 2006, the Crown Prosecution Service said that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any named individual police officers, although a criminal prosecution of the Commissioner in his official capacity on behalf of his police force was brought under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, on the failure of the duty of care due to Menezes. The Commissioner was found guilty and his office was fined.[112][113]
John Mark Scott[114]16 July 2005Stocksfield, EnglandNorthumbria PoliceScott assaulted a woman and then barricaded himself in a house.[115] He appeared at an upstairs window with what appeared to be a firearm and was shot by armed police.[116] A loaded firearm and ammunition were recovered from the address.
Azelle Rodney30 April 2005LondonMetropolitan PoliceRodney was shot six times by police, who stopped the car he was travelling in with two other men. Police had observed them picking up three weapons, believed to be MAC-10 sub-machine guns. After a public inquiry led by Lord Bach, it was found that the killing of Rodney was unlawful and eventually resulted in the case for prosecution of the officer who fired the fatal shots for the charges of murder. The jury found the officer not guilty.[117]
Simon Murden[110]22 March 2005Hull, EnglandHumberside PoliceMurden was alleged to have been suffering a psychotic episode. He left his house and drove a van against the flow of traffic, crashing with another vehicle. Murden abandoned the vehicle and brandished a sword. Police shot and killed Murden. An independent inquest ruled it a lawful killing.[118]
Nicholas Palmer[110]12 May 2004Thornton Heath, LondonMetropolitan PolicePalmer was killed while on bail for arms offences, his death ruled as being lawful.
Philip Prout[119][110]4 May 2004CornwallDevon and Cornwall PoliceProut was reported to have a machete and a firearm and to have made threats to kill. Police attended and surrounded his house and initiated negotiations. Prout emerged from the house brandishing a “samurai sword”.[120] Officers attempted to fire a baton gun (which failed to fire twice) before he was shot by police.[121]
Keith Larkins[122]6 June 2003Heathrow Airport, LondonMetropolitan PoliceLarkins, who was reported to be mentally ill, shot blanks from a replica firearm. Two police officers then fired on Larkins, killing him. The incident was ruled as a lawful killing.[122]
Derek Bennett[123][110]16 July 2001Brixton, LondonMetropolitan PoliceBennet threatened members of the public with a replica gun, then pointed it at armed police officers who fired on Bennet four times. Bennet had reportedly boasted to friends that the replica was real but on closer inspection it was revealed to be a novelty cigarette lighter. A verdict confirmed the case as a lawful killing.[124]
Andrew Kernan[125]21 July 2001Liverpool, EnglandMerseyside PoliceKernan suffered from schizophrenia and during an episode police were called to his home. He fled and brandished a samurai sword. After a stand-off, two shots were fired and Kernan was killed. After a four-year inquiry the killing was deemed lawful.[125]
Patrick O’Donell[123]30 October 2000Islington, LondonMetropolitan PoliceShot after taking his mother and girlfriend hostage in a siege.
Kirk Davies[110]24 September 2000Wakefield, EnglandWest Yorkshire PoliceDavies walked into a police station with an air gun and threatened staff. A manhunt was launched and he was surrounded by armed officers outside Newton Lodge secure psychiatric unit, but Davies ignored repeated requests to give himself up before marksmen opened fire. Davies was regarded as being “emotionally disturbed” and was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder after fighting in the Croatian Army during the Croatian War of Independence.[126]


Harry Stanley22 September 1999London, EnglandHe was returning home from a pub while carrying a table leg, in a plastic bag. Someone reported to police “an Irishman with a gun wrapped in a bag”. Near his home, an armed response unit challenged Stanley from behind. As he turned to face them, they shot him dead from 15 feet (5 m).
Derek Bateman[110]22 June 1999Surrey, EnglandShot after his girlfriend told officers he was armed and was threatening to shoot her, or himself.
Anthony Kitts[110][127]10 April 1999Falmouth, CornwallShot after repeatedly aiming an air rifle at police.
Christopher Alder1 April 1998Kingston upon Hull, EnglandUnlawfully killed by asphyxiation, having been placed unconscious and handcuffed on the floor of a police station.
Michael Fitzgerald[110][128]February 1998Bedford, EnglandShot after aiming a replica Colt 45 at police, in his home, after he was mistaken for an armed burglar.
James Ashley15 January 1998St Leonards-on-Sea, EnglandShot at his flat while unarmed and naked during a raid by armed officers.[129][110] The officer responsible was charged with murder and acquitted, and several senior officers were charged or disciplined.
David Howell[110]November 1996Birmingham, EnglandPsychiatric patient shot in at a Co-op supermarket.
Diarmuid O’Neill23 September 1996London, EnglandIRA member, shot during police raid.
John Christopher Gardiner10 May 1996Blackburn, EnglandDied of heart failure while in police custody following a struggle during his arrest.[130]
Ibrahim Sey[131]16 March 1996Ilford, EnglandDied in Ilford police station. His wife had called police because he appeared to be having a mental breakdown. He was sprayed with CS gas, and four police officers restrained him, face down on the ground, for 15 minutes. When they noticed he was not breathing, an ambulance was called; when the ambulance arrived, he was dead, face down and wearing handcuffs.[132]
David Ewin[110]April 1995London, EnglandFormer robber killed in a stolen car. Officer was tried and cleared of murder.
James Brady[110]April 1995Newcastle, EnglandShot in a police ambush.
Richard O’Brien[133]4 April 1994London, EnglandDied at Walworth Police Station after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly. An officer said O’Brien stopped breathing after holding him face down on the ground with his knee on O’Brien’s back. The officer began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while an ambulance was called. The three officers involved were found not guilty of manslaughter. The prosecution alleged the officers used too much force to hold down O’Brien for more than five minutes, during which time he died of postural asphyxia. However, a pathologist for the defence said O’Brien had a heart attack due to his size and enlarged heart.
Robin Maxwell[134]27 January 1994Donaghadee, Northern IrelandProtestant civilian, shot during attempted robbery at filling station.
Joy Gardner1 August 1993Crouch End, LondonGardner died after being detained during a police immigration raid on her home in Crouch End, when she was restrained with handcuffs and leather straps and gagged with a 13-foot length of adhesive tape wrapped around her head.[135] Unable to breathe, she collapsed and suffered brain damage due to asphyxia.[136] She was placed on life support but died following a cardiac arrest four days later.[137] In 1995, three of the police officers involved stood trial for Gardner’s manslaughter, but were acquitted.[138]
David Luckhurt[110][139]18 April 1993Cheshunt, HertfordshireShot at the end of a four-hour siege, after firing at officers surrounding his home.
Leon Patterson27 November 1992Manchester, EnglandDied in police custody. MP Harry Michael Cohen said, “Leon Patterson, 31, was detained on remand at Stockport police station in November 1992. After six days he was transferred to Denton police station, where he died a few hours later. Covered in bruises, he received no proper medical treatment despite suffering diarrhoea and vomiting for several days. He was heavily dosed with Mogadon. The inquest said that he was unlawfully killed and that a failure of duty contributed to or caused his death; yet no one was prosecuted”.[140]
Pearse Jordan25 November 1992Belfast, Northern IrelandIRA member, shot immediately after his car was stopped by an undercover Royal Ulster Constabulary mobile patrol.[134]
Gerard Maginn3 November 1991Belfast, Northern IrelandCatholic civilian, shot in the back of a stolen car.[134][141]
Kevin McGovern29 September 1991Cookstown, Northern IrelandCatholic civilian, shot by an undercover officer.[134]
Colm Marks10 April 1991Downpatrick, Northern IrelandIRA member, shot while preparing a mortar bomb.[134]


  • Seamus Duffy (9 August 1989 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot by plastic bullet.[134]
  • Keith White (14 April 1986 in Portadown, Northern Ireland) – Protestant civilian, shot by plastic bullet during a riot.[134]
  • Cherry Groce (28 September 1985 in Lambeth, London)
  • John Shorthouse (24 August 1985 in Birmingham, England)[142]
  • John Mikkelson, misadventure[143](July 1985 in London)[144]
  • Henry Foley (12 February 1985 in Southport, England) – severely beaten in police cell by officer, died of injuries in hospital. First time a UK police officer was convicted for a death in custody.
  • Gerard Logue (8 February 1985 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – shot while sitting in a stolen car.[134]
  • Sean McIlvenna (17 December 1984 in Blackwatertown, Northern Ireland) – IRA member, shot after being involved in a roadside bomb attack.[134]
  • Sean Downes (12 August 1984 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot by plastic bullet during protest march.[134]
  • Paul McCann (15 June 1984 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – INLA member, shot during gun battle after police surrounded a house.[134]
  • Seamus Fitzsimmons (14 May 1984 in Ballygally, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot during attempted post office robbery.[134]
  • Anthony Dawson (12 December 1983 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, killed in drive-by shooting by an off-duty police officer.[134]
  • Brigid Foster (28 November 1983 in Pomeroy, Northern Ireland) – passerby, shot after armed robbery at post office.[134]
  • John O’Hare (26 July 1983 in Lurgan, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot while running away after armed post office robbery.[134]
  • William Miller (16 March 1983 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – UVF member, shot while traveling in stolen car.[134]
  • Frank McColgan (20 January 1983 in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot during car chase.[134]
  • Michael Tighe (24 November 1982 in Derrymacash, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot by undercover officers at a farm.[134]
  • Ronald Brennan (28 September 1982 in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland) – Protestant civilian, shot during attempted post office robbery.[134]
  • Stephen Hamilton (19 October 1981 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – UDA member, shot while traveling in stolen car.[134]
  • Peter McGuinness (9 August 1981 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, died after being shot by plastic bullet.[134]
  • Nora McCabe (9 July 1981 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, died after being shot by plastic bullet.[134]
  • Paul Whitters (25 April 1981 in Derry, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, died after being shot by plastic bullet.[134]
  • Michael McCartan (24 July 1980 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot by undercover officer.[134]
  • Terence O’Neill (1 July 1980 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – IRA member, shot while running away from a community centre.[134]
  • Gail Kinchen (Shot 11 June 1980 in Birmingham, England. Died 4 weeks later) – Whilst being used as a human shield by David Pagett, Pagett discharged his shotgun, police officers returned fire hitting Gail three times.


  • James Kelly, killed in police custody (21 June 1979 in Liverpool, England)
  • Blair Peach (died 24 April 1979 in London, England)
  • William Strathearn (19 April 1977 in Ahoghill, Northern Ireland) – shot at his home by off-duty officers.
  • William “Billy” Hughes (14 January 1977, Rainow, Cheshire) – escaped prisoner, and mass murderer, shot dead by police marksman following a high speed pursuit.[145][146]
  • Edward Walker (11 June 1976 in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland) – UDA member, shot while traveling in stolen car.[134]
  • Sean McDermott (5 April 1976 in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland) – IRA member, shot shortly after carrying out bomb attack on a hotel.[134]
  • Liddle Towers (9 February 1976 in Dryburn Hospital, County Durham, England) – died of injuries inflicted during a beating by police in cells.
  • Michael McVerry (15 November 1973 in Keady, Northern Ireland) – IRA member, shot during attack on police/army base.[134]
  • Michael Leonard (17 May 1973 in Pettigo, Northern Ireland) – shot while driving his car being chased by police.[134]
  • Albert Kavanagh (4 March 1972 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – IRA member, shot during attempted bomb attack on factory.[134]
  • Joseph Cunningham (10 February 1972 in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland) – IRA member, shot during gun battle.[134]
  • Martin Forsythe (24 October 1971 in Belfast Northern Ireland) – IRA member, shot by undercover officers during bomb attack.[134]


  • Michael Lynch (15 August 1969 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot during the 1969 Northern Ireland riots.[147]
  • Samuel McLarnon (15 August 1969 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot during the 1969 Northern Ireland riots.[147]
  • Hugh McCabe (15 August 1969 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – British soldier on leave, shot while standing on a roof during the 1969 Northern Ireland riots.[147]
  • Patrick Rooney (14 August 1969 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – 9-year-old boy shot during the 1969 Northern Ireland riots.[147]
  • John Gallagher (14 August 1969 in Armagh, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot during the 1969 Northern Ireland riots.[147]
  • Samuel Devenney (17 July 1969 in Derry, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, died three months after being badly beaten by officers inside his home during a riot.[147]
  • James Griffiths (15 July 1969 in Glasgow, Scotland)[148]
  • Francis McCloskey (14 July 1969 in Dungiven, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, died after being hit on head with batons during a riot.[147]
  • Michael Joseph Ahern (9 September 1968 in London, England) – died after being beaten by police officers whilst handcuffed in Nine Elms Police Station.

Before the 1960s

  • James Crossan (24 August 1958 in Mullan, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland) – IRA member shot at border customs post during the Border Campaign.[149]
  • Aloysius Hand (2 July 1958 in Clontivern, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland) – IRA member killed in gun battle during the Border Campaign.[150]
  • James McKeown (11 May 1922 in Ballyronan, Northern Ireland) – Catholic civilian, shot in his home along with two brothers by Ulster Special Constables.[151]
  • Mary McGowan (11 July 1921 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) – 13-year-old Catholic girl, shot by Ulster Special Constables firing from an armoured car during Belfast’s Bloody Sunday. The inquest concluded that they had “deliberately” shot her.[152]
  • Percy Toplis (6 June 1920 in Cumberland, England)
  • Maud Smith (7 June 1893 at Wormwood Scrubs, London) was killed by PC George Cooke, who was subsequently convicted of her murder and hanged.[153][154]
  • Michael Wise (24 August 1687 in Salisbury)

Multiple deaths in a single incident

Khuram Shazad Butt Rachid Redouane Youssef Zaghba3 June 2017Southwark, LondonTerrorists shot during the 2017 London Bridge attack
Mark Nunes Andrew Markland13 September 2007Chandler’s Ford, HampshireArmed robbers (see Chandler’s Ford shooting). Nunes was shot by police when he aimed a handgun at the head of a security guard during a cash delivery. Markland was shot after he picked up Nunes’s weapon.[155]
Darren Franey Scott Veach2 March 2002Liverpool, EnglandTwo 14-year-old boys killed after hitting a HGV vehicle, that Mersey Tunnels Police attempted to use as a rolling road block in order to stop them at approximately 100 Mph in a stolen vehicle. An inquiry led to the verdict of unlawful killing and led to Mersey Tunnels Police officers having to go through the same standard of police training as other police forces. Five officers were suspended for the incident however none of them faced any criminal charges. The incident led many to call for the policing of the tunnels to be transferred to Merseyside Police. [156]
Patrick Loughran Patrick McBride Michael O’Dwyer4 February 1992Belfast, Northern IrelandCatholic civilians shot by an off-duty Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer, Constable Allen Moore, in a Sinn Féin office in Belfast. The officer entered the building disguised as a journalist before opening fire with a shotgun. He killed himself shortly after.[157]
Michael Flynn Nicholas Payne15 July 1987Plumstead, LondonShot by police during an attempted armed robbery of a wages van at an abattoir in Shooters Hill. The marksman feared for the life of the van driver and fired on three of the assailants. Two died at the scene; the third was injured by gunfire but survived.
Brendan Convery James Mallon13 August 1983Dungannon, Northern IrelandIrish National Liberation Army (INLA) members, shot while launching a gun attack on a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) guard hut.[158]
Seamus Grew Rodney Carroll12 December 1982Armagh, Northern IrelandIrish National Liberation Army (INLA) members, shot by undercover officers at a vehicle checkpoint.[159] See shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland.
Sean Burns Gervaise McKerr Eugene Toman11 November 1982Craigavon, Northern IrelandProvisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) members, shot by undercover officers at a vehicle checkpoint.[159] See shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland.
Michael Herbert Michael Cotton20 March 1974Markethill, Northern IrelandBritish soldiers, shot by mistake. They had been driving civilian vehicles when they were shot by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers, who believed the soldiers were paramilitaries.[160]
Michael Connors John Mahon1 March 1972Belfast, Northern IrelandIrish Travellers, shot during a police chase while in a stolen van.[161]
Fergal O’Hanlon Seán South1 January 1957Brookeborough, Northern IrelandIrish Republican Army (IRA) members shot while launching an attack on a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base during the Border Campaign.
Seamus McAllister John Gore John Hill23 June 1922Cushendall, Northern IrelandA group of Ulster Special Constables opened fire on civilians in the village while preparing to enforce a nightly curfew. Special Constables summarily executed three young Catholic men by shooting them at close range. They claimed they were ambushed by the IRA and returned fire, but a British government inquiry concluded that this was not true. The report was not made public for almost a century.[162]
Thomas Crawley Patrick Creggan13 June 1922Lislea, Northern IrelandUlster Special Constables forced the two Catholic men into the back of a police truck in Bessbrook. Their bodies were found riddled with bullets a few miles away.[163]
Charlie McAllister Pat McVeigh24 May 1922Glenariff, Northern IrelandTwo Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers killed in a firefight with the Ulster Special Constabulary.[164][165]
Francis Higgins John Higgins Jnr Henry McGeehan James McGeehan19 May 1922Desertmartin, Northern IrelandIn revenge for the burning of a Protestant-owned mill, Ulster Special Constables took four Catholic men from their homes nearby, lined them up by the roadside and summarily executed them.[166]
John Mallon Bernard McKenna John McRory William Spallen Joseph Walsh Michael Walsh1 April 1922Belfast, Northern IrelandArnon Street killings: Men in police uniform, believed to be Ulster Special Constables, broke into Catholic homes, shooting and beating six people to death, including a 7-year-old boy. It was believed to be in revenge for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) killing of a policeman.
Owen McMahon Bernard McMahon Frank McMahon Gerard McMahon Patrick McMahon Edward McKinney24 March 1922Belfast, Northern IrelandMcMahon killings: Men in police uniform, believed to be Ulster Special Constables, broke into the home of a Catholic family and shot all males inside, killing six. It was believed to be in revenge for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) killing of two policemen.
Peter McGinnity John O’Reilly Thomas O’Reilly Patrick Quinn6 July 1921Altnaveigh, IrelandMen believed to be Ulster Special Constables took four Catholic men from their homes near Newry “for questioning” and summarily executed them.[167]
Owen Magill Stephen Magill8 June 1921Corrogs, IrelandThe Irish Republican Army (IRA) ambushed an Ulster Special Constabulary patrol at Carrogs, near Newry. In reprisal, Special Constables went to the nearest farmhouse and fatally shot two Catholic brothers. The IRA fired on the Specials from a nearby hill, killing one and forcing them to withdraw.[168]

See also

March 10th 2024

Motorway Crash Barriers


In the new age of the motorway – 649 miles and counting – Nationwide takes a look at efforts to prevents cars crossing the central reservation.

↗ Originally broadcast 10 March 1970


Nation-Building, Democratization and Globalization as Competing
Priorities in Ukraine’s Education System

Nation-Building, Democratization and Globalization as Competing
Priorities in Ukraine’s Education System
This article examines how consecutive governments in Ukraine have reconciled the different
demands that nation-building, democratization and globalization pose on the national
education system. It argues that nation-building conflicts with democratization and with
globalization and engages in a review of Ukraine‘s educational policies from Perestroika to
the present to illustrate this argument. It shows that nation building in post-Soviet Ukraine
was primarily a language project aimed at the ukrainianization of schools and institutes of
higher education. It further observes that nation-building was given priority over
democratization and globalization in shaping the education system in the first decade
following independence. From 2000, however, globalization has become an increasingly
important discourse in education removing nation-building from the top of the political

  1. Introduction
    One of the greatest challenges currently facing the new states in Central and Eastern Europe
    is educational reform. After obtaining independence in the early 1990s, these states were
    confronted with the immense task of transforming an outdated centralized education system,
    which was aimed at delivering a loyal communist workforce, into a modern system that
    would be much more responsive to consumer demands and would recognize and further
    individual talent. The immensity of the undertaking lies in the fact that three prerequisites
    make simultaneous demands on the education system: nation-building, democratization and
    The need for nation-building is felt particularly strong in those new states which
    derive their legitimacy from former minority nations. The political elites of these states
    consider nation-building a vital tool for the resuscitation of languages and cultures that have
    played a subordinate role under the past communist regime. But nation-building is not only
    intended to promote the languages and cultures of the new titular nations. It is also seen as a
    means to foster patriotism and cultural unity among populations whose ethnically diverse
    make-up and dissatisfaction with post-soviet living standards are considered a risk for the
    stability and survival of the state. The new states are also under heavy pressure to
    democratize their education systems, closely monitored as they are by human rights
    watchdogs like the Council of Europe and the OSCE. Most of them have signed international
    treaties that promise more decentralization and more opportunities for grassroots initiatives in
    the educational system. Yet, many provisions of these treaties still await implementation.
    Lastly, the new states in Central and Eastern Europe are confronted with the issue of
    globalization. As all other states affected by the globalizing economy, they feel obliged to
    reform their education system in ways that would make their populations and economies
    more competitive on the world market.
    This article examines how Ukraine, as one of the new post-Soviet states, reconciles
    the demands that nation-building, democratization and globalization make on its education
    system. It will argue that there is tension between these demands, especially between nation-
    building on the one hand and democratization and globalization on the other. This tension
    will be illustrated by a description of educational policies from Glasnost, when calls for
    sweeping reforms first began to be heard, to the present. The focus on education is logical:
    education has been the main vehicle of the state to consolidate the nation ever since the
    arrival of the modern state in the early 19th century. Green (1997, p. 134), for instance, writes
    Through national education systems states fashioned disciplined workers and loyal recruits,
    created and celebrated national languages and literatures, popularized national histories and
    myths of origin, disseminated national laws, customs and social mores, and generally
    explained the ways of the state to the people and the duties of the people to the state.
    Neither is the choice for Ukraine as case study a coincidence. Together with Belarus Ukraine
    has experienced a particularly strong degree of Russification during Russian Tsarist and
    Soviet rule. This process, both as a deliberate policy and as an autonomous force, has not
    only produced a diverse ethnic make-up of the population (roughly one-fifth of which is
    ethnically Russian), but has also turned the country effectively into a bilingual state. Today,
    Ukrainian-speakers and Russophones constitute approximately equal halves of the population,
    the latter of which includes many ethnic Ukrainians. Cleavages of a historical nature further
    add to the ethno-linguistic complexity. Notably the seven western provinces, which were
    incorporated in Soviet Ukraine after World War II, distinguish themselves from the other
    regions by the virulent national consciousness and thoroughly Ukrainian outlook of their
    populations. As such they sharply contrast with the eastern and southern regions which
    acquired a distinct Russian character due to processes of industrialization, urbanization and
    (conscious) Russification. This complicated ethno-linguistic and historical inheritance from
    the Soviet Union has made the post-Soviet nation-building project exceptionally challenging.
    Often it represented a careful balancing act steering between a strong version of nation-
    building supported by the western provinces and a very mild version of nation-building or no
    nation-building at all – the preferred option for the east and south.
    In the next section I will discuss the nature of the relationship between nation-
    building, democratization and globalization. The third section examines how these discourses
    have affected school policies, highlighting the tension between nation-building and
    democratization in particular. The section on higher education, on the other hand, will
    primarily discuss the friction between nation-building and globalization. The concluding
    section summarizes the main findings.
  2. Nation-building, democratization and globalization
    A coherent discussion of the aforementioned problematic requires that clear definitions be
    given of the main concepts. Following Linz and Stepan (1996) this article defines nation-
    building as a state policy seeking to enhance cultural and political cohesion by promoting the
    language and culture of the titular group (i.e. the ethnic group the state derives its name and
    legitimacy from) and by discouraging the use of minority languages in the public domains of
    society. Nation-building needs to be distinguished, on the one hand, from bi- and
    multicultural state-building policies, which also try to strengthen the bond of citizens with the
    state but do so without privileging the language and culture of one particular group, and on
    the other hand from forced assimilation or ethnic persecution policies which seek to
    eliminate cultural diversity altogether. In keeping with the Council of Europe‘s conception of
    democratic governance in education, I understand democratization to be a set of policies
    ―providing the opportunity for all actors, pupils/students, parents, teachers, staff and
    administrators to be involved in decision-making regarding the school, feel responsible and
    express their opinions freely‖ (Council of Europe 2006, p. 7). In contexts characterized by
    centralized education systems, such as the post-Soviet region, democratization invariably
    involves a shift of powers from the central level to local authorities, national minorities,
    schools, parents and individual pupils. Indeed, Mitter (2003) identifies the decentralization of
    responsibilities as one of the key areas of educational reform in the post-communist world.
    Most interesting for this paper is that this process of greater grassroots involvement includes
    pluralistic policies taking the cultural and educational preferences of national minorities into
    account. Although globalization can be interpreted in many different ways it is here defined
    exclusively in instrumental terms. It refers to all those educational policies which are seen as
    contributing to a country‘s economic performance and competitiveness on the global market.
    These include measures to enhance the employability, flexibility and mobility of the labour
    force, such as continuous re-education schemes (life-long learning, e-learning) and the
    standardization of university degrees and of credit and grading systems (Stier 2004). They
    also comprise education in the type of de-contextualized knowledge and skills that can be
    applied in a wide range of economic activities and that promise high rates of return (Daun
    2002). Most valuable among these skills in the global economy are the conceptual
    competencies of ―problem-identifying, problem-solving and problem-brokering‖ (Green 1997,
    p. 154).
    It is not difficult to see the tension between nation-building and democratization. Only
    in pure nation states there is no friction between the two concepts as there are no minority
    groups challenging the homogenizing policies of the state. The overwhelming majority of
    states however have multi-ethnic populations, and democratization will clash with nation-
    building as soon as a minority expresses a desire to secure a formal status for its culture and
    identity in society (Linz and Stepan 1996; Epstein 2000).
    I contend that nation-building is also in conflict with globalization. This is because the
    stress of the former on unconditional loyalty to the nation is difficult to reconcile with the
    detached rationalism prescribed by the latter. It must be noted, however, that the two policy
    discourses need not always collide. If the language promoted by a nation-building project
    happens to be a world language or a language widely spoken in a particular region of the
    world (English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese) globalization and nation-building are to some
    extent mutually beneficial processes as the language in question is not only considered to be
    an identity marker but also a valuable asset for individuals to exploit economically. Yet, these
    conditions do not apply in the new states emerging from the collapse of the communist
    federative states. With the exception of Russia, these states base their existence on minority
    languages and cultures which tended to be marginalized in communist times. The fate of the
    Ukrainian language is exemplary. Despite its formal status in the Soviet Union, it suffered
    from a rural and backward stigma and was regarded by many as a simple peasant dialect of
    Russian. The domains of its use were restricted to private and rural settings and to official
    folkloristic events. Clearly, in cases where such languages are revived, the nation-building
    project is at odds with the standardization and homogenization drive of globalization. As
    Laponce (2004) explains, in times of accelerated economic integration, languages are in
    contact ever more frequently and the powerful ones, if left unimpeded, will automatically
    oust the weaker ones. Under these conditions a vulnerable language needs the protection of a
    state in order to survive.
    Moreover, nation building involves more than the simple promotion of a language. It
    also aims at socializing youngsters in a particular national culture and historical narrative
    (Vickers 2002). This idiosyncratic programme is the very opposite of the generic skills
    education demanded by the globalization doctrine. In concrete educational terms: the
    teaching of Ukrainian language and literature and of national history and geography competes
    with education in modern world languages (including Russian, the language of the former
    ruler!) and with subjects typically associated with problem-solving and analytical skills like
    computer programming and the basics of law, economy and administration.
    One question however remains: why would Ukraine pursue nation-building policies to
    enhance national unity at all? Would it not be more appropriate for Ukraine to adopt a bi- or
    multicultural state building project similar to the Belgian, Canadian or Swiss model given the
    multi-ethnic and bilingual make up of its population? There are three reasons why the latter is
    unlikely. First, Ukrainian statehood rests on the claim of ethno-cultural distinctiveness:
    ‗Ukrainians are a separate nation because they have their own language and culture and
    therefore they deserve a separate state‘. A more multi-cultural conception of the Ukrainian
    nation would dilute this claim and would consequently de-legitimize the idea of independent
    statehood. Ukrainians certainly are not alone in demanding an independent state on cultural
    grounds. From the mid-nineteenth century, when the concept of nation began to be defined in
    ethno-cultural terms (Hobsbawm 1990; Schoepflin 2000), many ethnic groups in Eastern and
    Southern Europe experienced their national awakening and started claiming a separate state
    for themselves (Safran 2004). Some of them already succeeded in establishing independent
    states after World War I, owing in part to the Wilson doctrine which established the ethno-
    cultural interpretation of nation- and statehood as a legitimate principle in international
    relations. Eriksen et al. (1990) document how the nation-building efforts of these first wave
    Wilsonian states met with fierce resistance from the new minorities within their borders (e.g.
    Ukrainians in Poland, Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia and Croats in Yugoslavia). The
    newly independent states emerging from the collapse of communism, Ukraine included,
    might well be interpreted as the second wave Wilsonian states, that is as nations that failed to
    establish ‗their own‘ states on the first occasion but that have accomplished their ‗eternal
    dream‘ of self-determination when the second opportunity arose (the fall of communism).
    Brubaker (1996) calls these states nationalizing as they are rightly or wrongly perceived by
    national minorities and neighbouring states as attempting to culturally homogenize the
    population to attain the ideal of the nation-state.
    The second reason is related to the first. Following the logic of the Wilsonian
    principle, the political elites in the new states are afraid that accommodating policies towards
    national minorities might have the undesirable effect of fanning their political aspirations.
    Granting cultural autonomy is seen as recognition of ethno-cultural distinctiveness, and this,
    it is feared, might well be capitalized on by national minorities to demand some form of
    political self-determination which imperils the territorial integrity of the state.
    While the first two reasons apply for nearly all post-communist states, the third reason
    – the Russification of the post-war period – is more specific to Ukraine. The Russification of
    Ukraine was both pursued more vigorously and more drastic in its consequences than in any
    other Soviet republic (Belarus excepting), partly because of the linguistic and cultural
    proximity of Ukrainian to Russian and partly because the Soviet authorities considered the
    ‗younger Slavic brothers‘ of the Russians (i.e. the Ukrainians and Belorussians) as the prime
    candidates for ‗merging into the Soviet nation‘. According to Arel (1994), the experience of
    intense Russification at the expense of the Ukrainian language, culture and identity sparked a
    fear of national extinction among the Ukrainian intelligentsia during the perestroika period.
    Seeing Ukrainian national identity and the Ukrainian language as intimately related, this elite,
    he goes on to argue, established a linguistically oriented nation-building project aimed at
    restoring what had gone lost, once they occupied key government positions after state
    independence in 1991.
    In sum, the questions to be explored are to what extent the nation-building project has,
    on the one hand, prevented the adoption of democratic policies that would fully accommodate
    the cultural and linguistic preferences of national minorities, and, on the other hand, has
    complicated the espousal of globalization policies. These issues will be discussed while
    holding Ukraine‘s point of departure in mind: when the country became independent in 1991
    it inherited an over-centralised education system from the Soviet Union. This system
    precluded teacher initiative and left the individual pupil with almost no choice in mapping out
    a personal educational career (Stepanenko 1999). Professionally, it was strongly directed
    towards teaching technical disciplines and the natural sciences, ideologically towards
    inculcating the Marxist-Leninist philosophy and creating the Homo Sovieticus. The system
    was also heavily Russified with approximately half of the school pupils and nearly all
    students in higher education receiving their education in Russian. The reforms thus faced a
    corpus of teachers socialized in Russian-language terminology and in conventional one-
    directional modes of teaching.
  3. Changes in school education since Glasnost
    3.1 Nation-building in schools: the language issue
    As it turns out, Ukraine has indeed opted for nation-building instead of multicultural state
    building as a strategy to enhance national unity. Central to the nation-building project was the
    drive to revive the Ukrainian language. From the mid-1980s, Glasnost and Perestroika,
    which allowed ordinary citizens to openly criticize the Communist Party, had made it
    possible to raise the language issue. In Ukraine, discontent in this period was voiced through
    the opposition movement Rukh, a loose grouping of intellectuals and dissidents that
    campaigned for democratic reform, state sovereignty and – above all – the reversal of
    Russification policies. Initially, the conservative party leadership did not respond to Rukh’s
    grievances, but no sooner than a month after the retirement of the hard-line First Secretary
    Volodymyr Shcherbyts‘kyi the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet passed the ―Law on Languages in
    the Ukrainian SSR‖, which made Ukrainian the sole state language. According to Arel (1995,
    p.599), this law represented ―a defensive reaction of the communist old guard, which could
    no longer justify the status quo, since eight Soviet republics had enacted language laws
    earlier in that fateful year‖. The language law introduced a whole series of provisions
    intending to curb Russification and make Ukrainian the dominant language in all spheres of
    state activity. As such it constituted a clear break with the past. Although heavily inspired by
    Ukrainian renaissance thinking, the law did contain provisions that secured a continued,
    albeit much reduced role for Russian in the public life, as the architects of the law were
    careful not to alarm the Russian-speaking population of the south and east.
    The law was ambivalent on the issue of the language of instruction in schools. On the
    one hand, it stipulated that Ukrainian be the principle language of instruction of school
    education and that national minorities could have their children taught in their national
    languages if they so desired. On the other hand, it reiterated a decree initially issued by
    Krushchev‘s in the late 1950s which granted parents the right to choose the language of
    instruction for their children. Obviously, there is friction between the two principles as the
    implementation of the latter could very well lead to a situation in which children are educated
    in a language different from their ethnic background. This friction, however, was largely
    unnoticed as the authorities chose to leave the language law what it was – a piece of paper.
    After independence in December 1991, many prominent Ukrainian intellectuals and
    dissidents were appointed to important positions in the government by president Leonid
    Kravchuk. Determined to revive Ukrainian language and culture and stop the ‗defection‘ of
    ethnic Ukrainians to the Russian camp, they launched an ambitious Ukrainianization
    programme aimed at the implementation of the hitherto ignored language law. In the
    educational sphere, the key activist of this programme was Deputy Minister Anatolii
    Pohribnyi. Seeking to make the school system a reflection of the national composition of the
    population, he ordered local authorities to establish a network of Ukrainian- and Russian-
    instructed first-graders that would ‗optimally‘ correspond to the ethnic make-up of the local
    population (Arel, 1995). Possibly, by adopting a gradual approach that targeted new
    enrolments (in other words, those pupils already instructed in Russian were allowed to
    complete their school education in that language), he hoped to that local authorities would
    comply with the order. In any case, the parental right to choose the language of instruction
    was severely curtailed by this policy. A measure that was clearly instrumental in
    accomplishing the ‗optimal net‘ was the ministerial order forbidding Russian schools to open
    Russian first grade classes alongside Ukrainian ones. This measure effectively ruled out the
    possibility of permanent bilingual schools. It forced Russian schools to completely transform
    to Ukrainian schools within 10 years once they had opened Ukrainian classes (for this
    measure, see Ministry of Education, 1993). In addition, as mandated by the language law,
    Ukrainian language and literature were instituted as statutory subjects in Russian schools,
    taking up three to four hours a week from the second to the eleventh grade (Ministry of
    Education 1998a; see also Table 2). This put an end to the Soviet practice of exempting
    children in Russian schools from attending Ukrainian language classes. Thus no effort was
    spared to ensure that all children, whether enrolled in Ukrainian or in Russian schools, would
    learn Ukrainian as the new state language.
    After Leonid Kuchma, a Russian-speaker from Dnipropetrivs‘k, had taken over the
    presidency from Leonid Kravchuk in 1994, many political observers expected a shift in
    language policies as Kuchma had promised granting Russian an official status in the election
    campaign and was facing a left-leaning parliament dominated by a pro-Russian bloc of
    communist-socialist deputies. However, the government appointed by him by and large
    consolidated the Ukrainianization policies of its predecessor, issuing neither new measures
    nor revoking earlier decrees. The long-awaited Constitution, which was adopted in June 1996,
    further formalized these policies as it proclaimed Ukrainian to be the sole state language and
    granted Russian the status of a national minority language, along with Hungarian, Moldovan,
    Crimean Tatar and various other small languages (Ministry of Justice, 1996). Yet, the
    continuation of the language project did not prevent parliament from ratifying the European
    Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in May 2003 (Parliament of Ukraine 2003).
    Prepared by the Council of Europe, this treaty aimed at safeguarding the linguistic rights and
    needs of national minorities. An earlier ratification had been overturned by the Consitutional
    Court, a decision which was welcomed by many nationally conscious Ukrainians who feared
    that the Charter would allow Russian to resume its erstwhile dominant position (Kuzio, 2002).
    Interestingly, a close look at the provisions for primary and secondary education reveals that
    the Charter places quite modest demands on the participating states. States, for instance, are
    given a choice to either make available education in a minority language or to simply provide
    for the teaching of a minority language as an integral part of the curriculum upon parental
    request (Council of Europe, 1992). In fact, the stipulations were so lenient that Ukraine need
    not commit itself to extra measures concerning the use of minority languages in schools when
    it signed the treaty.
    The post-independence language policy substantially changed the school landscape.
    As Table 1 shows, the proportion of Ukrainian-instructed pupils rose from 47.4% in 1988-89
    to 73% in 2002-03 nationwide. This means that the authorities have made considerable
    progress in reaching the stated policy aim of bringing the network of Ukrainian-instructed
    pupils in accordance with the national composition of the population – in the 2001 census
    77.8% of the population identified themselves as Ukrainian. However, the regional disparities
    are conspicuous. In the west and center-west the percentage of Ukrainian-instructed pupils is
    very high, to a point of even exceeding the proportion of Ukrainians in the local population,
    but in the east and south it still is at a modest level, lagging far behind the demographic
    weight of ethnic Ukrainians. Yet, the rate of increase of Ukrainian-instructed pupils is higher
    in the 1997-2003 period than in the 1989-1997 phase, which means that the east and south are
    catching up fast. It is not easy to interpret this accelerating pace of Ukrainianization. It could
    be a sign that Kyiv has decidedly strengthened its grip on the Russian-speaking regions,
    overruling uncooperative local authorities. It could, on the other hand also reflect a genuine
    desire among parents in these regions to have their off-spring educated in the state language.
    Finally, we should not rule out the possibility that the figures are a more accurate reflection
    of a desired state of affairs than of reality. In other words, local educational authorities may
    have felt the need to send rosy statistics to the centre overestimating the use of Ukrainian and
    underestimating the use of Russian in actual practice.
    Table 1 about here
    3.2 Nation-building in schools: the role of literature, geography and history
    The nation-building project in school education is not confined to language issues. Apart
    from its focus on the Ukrainian language as an identity marker, this project promotes a
    narrative that provides Ukrainian national identity with a meaningful past and legitimizes the
    current state independence by discrediting former rulers. The subjects chosen for this purpose
    are Ukrainian Literature, Geography of Ukraine, and History of Ukraine. Table 2 shows the
    allocation of hours to these subjects by the statutory national curriculum. As we can see,
    Russian schools have to devote as many hours to the teaching of History of Ukraine as
    Ukrainian schools (9.5 hours a week for all grades combined). The curriculum does not
    specify the numbers of hours allotted to Ukrainian Literature (in Russian schools) and to
    Geography of Ukraine (in both Russian and Ukrainian schools), merging these subjects with
    Ukrainian Language and Geography, respectively.
    Table 2 about here
    As regards the content of the three courses, it can first of all be noted that the curriculum for
    Ukrainian Literature addresses topics central to Ukrainian historiography. Thus, recurring
    themes are (1) the misery of Ukrainian serfs and peasants toiling lands owned by foreign
    overlords, (2) the Ukrainian national awakening in the 19th century and the Czarist ban on
    Ukrainian language and culture, (2) the Stalinist crackdown on Ukrainian writers and the
    Russification policies of the post war era and (4) the collectivization of agriculture and the
    ensuing famine. Nonetheless, the present literature curriculum is far less politicised than its
    Soviet predecessor, as it also discusses topics like the beauty of nature, country life, human
    yearnings, love, the passing of time and many other themes that have no specific ideological
    or nationalising content (Ministry of Education, 2001). Geography of Ukraine develops a
    specific economic argument for the legitimisation of Ukrainian statehood. The central
    textbook for this subject argues that the command nature of the Ukrainian economy and its
    dependency on Moscow as the centre of decision-making were responsible for the severe
    economic crisis that hit Ukraine in the early 1990s: ―The structure of industry and agriculture
    first of all served the interests of the empire. (…) The contempt for the laws of economic
    development led to workers who were not interested in the results of their work, to low
    quality production and a low labour productivity, and altogether to a severe economic crisis‖
    (Masliak and Shyshchenko, 2002, p. 165).
    Yet, History of Ukraine clearly bears the brunt of the content-oriented side of the
    nation-building project. Its relevance was underlined by the institution of a compulsory
    central exam in the subject for eleventh graders completing their school career. Given its
    centrality as a nationalising agent, History of Ukraine has commanded the Ministry of
    Education‘s full attention. Not only does the Ministry establish the detailed central
    curriculum by which all schools are obliged to work (including private schools!), it also
    closely monitors textbook adoption. Once in every two to three years the Ministry organizes a
    competition for new textbooks. The books that pass this competition will then enter a phase
    of review, testing and revision before being approved by the Ministry for use in schools
    throughout Ukraine (Popson 2001). For each grade there are now two, three or four of these
    officially approved books, which means that schools have a small choice (Osvita Ukrainy,
    2004). Yet, this slightly expanded offer of textbooks does not necessarily mean a relaxation
    of central control, which is well illustrated by events in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,
    the rebellious Russian-speaking peninsula in southern Ukraine. Until 1997 the Crimean
    authorities had prepared local curricula, programs and exams for most school courses
    including history, geography and literature in defiance of the Constitution which did not grant
    the Autonomous Republic any powers in the sphere of education. In that year, however, the
    national government started acting upon the Constitution by imposing the central curricula,
    programmes and textbooks on the recalcitrant region.1
    As regards the content, the history textbooks underline the deep historical roots of
    Ukrainian nation- and statehood, with medieval Kyivan Rus‘ and the short-lived Cossack
    state of the 16th century identified as the predecessors of the modern Ukrainian state. Moving
    into the modern era, the books present an account of history that maximises Ukraine‘s
    distinctiveness vis-à-vis Russia and go to great lengths in portraying Soviet power as a
    foreign and hostile regime in which Ukrainians had little or no part (Janmaat 2002). Although
    the new school historiography is clearly more balanced than the Soviet account of history, it
    does not make students aware that historical facts are open to different interpretations and
    that different versions of history can therefore exist side by side. The logic of the new
    1 Interview with T. E. Yakovleva, head of the Department of Programs and Methods of the Ministry of
    historiography thus seems to be merely a negation of the Soviet version of history rather than
    an attempt to be more widely embracing. Because of its singular approach, Stepanenko
    (1999) sees the new school historiography as genealogically related to its Soviet forerunner.
    Whatever their differences, the three subjects discussed above have one thing in
    common: the argument that Soviet rule has been disastrous to Ukraine and its people,
    whether economically, socially or culturally, and that Ukraine can only realize its full
    potentials as an independent state. Clearly, this is the message the authorities want to convey
    in their efforts to instil a Ukrainian national spirit in the youngest generation.
    3.3 Democratization and globalization in school education
    After independence, the new Kravchuk government declared democratic reform in the
    educational sector to be of highest priority, as witnessed by several policy documents. Thus,
    the state national program entitled Education: Ukraine of the 21st Century mentions as a key
    objective: ―an elimination of uniformity in education and the sweeping away of the prevailing
    practices of authoritarian pedagogy‖. In addition it calls for: ―a radical restructuring of the
    management in education, its democratization, decentralisation, the creation of a regional
    system of management‖ (quoted in Stepanenko, 1999, p. 99). Another official publication
    strikes an equally radical note: ―The state monopoly in the branch of education is ruined, its
    multi-structurality is guaranteed (…) the forms of administrating become more democratic
    and perfect, the rights of educational institutions broaden, wide autonomy is given to them‖
    (Ministry of Education, 1994, p. 71).
    Education of the Crimean Autonomous Republic. Simferopol, September 2004.
    In practice, however, the centralised system of the Soviet era was carried over, with
    the school system remaining almost totally in state hands: in the 1997-98 school year still a
    mere 0.2% of pupils studied in private schools (Ministry of Education, 1998b). In the
    beginning of the 1990s parents, teachers and school authorities did temporarily have more
    opportunity to decide on educational matters, but this seemed to be more a matter of necessity
  • new curricula and textbooks had not yet been developed and the Ministry of Education did
    not allow the use of Soviet materials – than a reflection of a genuine desire to give schools
    more freedom of manoeuvre. Indeed, once the Ministry had prepared new curricula and
    produced sufficient amounts of new textbooks (the mid-1990s), it quickly resumed control
    over schools and regional authorities. The 1996 Education Act formalised this
    recentralisation process. It instituted the state standards of education, which established
    norms for content, volume and level of education (Parliament of Ukraine, 1996). As a result,
    all schools, including private ones, were obliged to teach several core subjects which together
    comprised the so called state component or invariable part, and use the officially approved
    curricula and textbooks for these subjects (for a list of these subjects, see Ministry of
    Education, 2004a).
    It would be incorrect, however, to argue that nothing has changed. Democratization
    and grassroots initiative have been allowed to make limited inroads into school education.
    First of all, the number of hours that school and individual pupils (or parents) can decide
    upon has increased dramatically. In the Soviet era the hours of this so-called school
    component or variable part were negligible, but now they can take up as much as 14% of the
    teaching plan for schools with the Ukrainian language of instruction. The Ministry of
    Education prepared many new courses for the school component, from which schools could
    freely choose. These include practical subjects (a second foreign language, basics of
    computer science), social sciences (economics, ecology, ‗person and society‘) and courses
    intended to acquaint students with Ukrainian values, habits, costume, song and dance
    (Ukrainian studies; folklore and ethnography of Ukraine). Although clearly helpful in the
    identity construction process, this last group of courses, because of their optional status,
    remained relatively unimportant and very vulnerable to being cast aside in exchange for more
    hours of education in ‗hard‘ subjects like English, law or mathematics.
    Second, teachers can state their opinions freely now, and they have liberty in choosing
    whatever additional materials they deem necessary in the lessons, alongside the prescribed
    textbooks. Whether teachers make use of their increased discretion is of course another
    matter, for this autonomy might only exist on paper. Informally, teachers could still be
    proscribed from introducing original materials in their lessons. Alternatively, a lingering
    passive attitude among the teaching staff of only teaching what one is told to teach could well
    preserve the uniform pedagogical practice of the Soviet era. Yet, there are indications that
    teachers are no longer content with teaching in the old way. In a survey conducted in 2001
    among history teachers, respondents, for instance, said that the main problems they face are
    ―overloaded teaching programmes, outdated approaches to the selection of facts and their
    interpretation in school textbooks, too limited historical interpretations, insufficient quality of
    historical sources for corroboration, (…) and making myths of past events‖ (Verbytska 2004,
    p. 67).
    In addition to democratization, the impact of globalization is beginning to be felt in
    matters of school education. Intending to bring the Ukrainian school system in line with
    European standards, the government for instance decided to start with a twelve-year system
    of three levels – primary (grades 1-4), middle (5-9) and senior (10-12) – from the beginning of
    the 2001-2002 school year. This system is meant to gradually replace the ten-year system
    inherited from Soviet times in a year-by-year manner. The Ministry of Education has already
    prepared the state standards and the teaching plans for the twelve grades and is now in the
    process of developing new curricula for each subject.
  1. Higher education
    4.1 Nation-building in higher education
    Often, the language of instruction of higher education is an even more sensitive topic than
    that of school education. This is because higher education is synonymous with upward
    mobility, progress and a ‗superior‘ urban culture. As a rule, activists campaigning for the
    elevation of a low status language believe that the image of urban sophistication will rub off
    on their language once it is used in higher education. They will therefore do everything
    within their power to establish their language as the language of instruction in universities
    and institutes. This brings them into open conflict with cosmopolitans and teaching staff who
    wish to retain the language of the (former) metropolitan centre. The acrimonious struggles
    waged over the language status of the universities of Ghent and Louvain (Belgium), Helsinki
    (Finland) and Pristina (Kosova) before and after World War II all testify to this type of
    Ukraine in the late Soviet era presents a similar case. Alarmed by the vulnerable
    position of Ukrainian vis-à-vis Russian, Rukh activists targeted the heavily Russified higher
    education system, and succeeded in seeing their priorities integrated in the aforementioned
    language law. Thus, the law stipulated that the language of instruction of higher education
    would be Ukrainian, and that instruction in a minority language (i.e. Russian) could only be
    continued in places where the majority of citizens belonged to a minority (art 28 of language
    law, see Arel 1995). As ethnic Russians made up a majority only in the Crimea, this meant
    that Russian-language higher education would be confined to that region and that all the other
    institutes of higher education in the Russian-speaking East and South would have to switch to
    Ukrainian. In addition, the law introduced a Ukrainian language exam for students wishing
    admission to higher education. Nonetheless, the authorities realised that a sudden
    implementation of these measures would have catastrophic consequences for the quality of
    education as many lecturers had been teaching in Russian only and could not even speak
    Ukrainian. They therefore gave higher educational establishments 10 years time to retrain
    their teaching staff and switch to Ukrainian.
    After independence, the Kravchuk government was adamant to ukrainianize higher
    education. In order to speed up the transition process, the Ministry of Education decreed that
    ―as from 1 September 1993 all first grade classes should be taught in Ukrainian‖ (Ministry of
    Education, 1992, p. 7). As with schools then, the Ministry adopted the strategy of gradually
    phasing out the Russian-instructed batches of students. Yet, it allowed institutes of higher
    education in the south and east to open Russian first grade classes parallel to Ukrainian ones
    for a transition period ―in view of the language situation in these regions‖ (ibid., p. 7). Thus,
    the authorities were not blind for the linguistic realities produced by 70 years of Soviet rule,
    possibly fearing an uprising in the Russian-speaking areas if language policies were
    implemented too impatiently. Still, the Ministry of Education made it more than clear that
    institutes of education or students would not be allowed to decide on the language of
    instruction themselves, explicitly condemning institutes that had allowed students to vote on
    the issue (Ministry of Education, 1993).
    As was the case for schools, the Kuchma administration basically continued the
    language policies of the previous government for higher education. The ratification of the
    aforementioned charter on minority languages had no serious consequences for these policies,
    as the stipulations Ukraine agreed to abide by did not require the government to offer higher
    education in languages other than Ukrainian.
    Table 3 about here
    Official statistics on the language of instruction reflect the Ministry‘s determination to
    ukrainianize higher education (see Table 3). They demonstrate that despite the arrears of
    higher education in relation to schools – in 1995-96 only 51% of all students were instructed
    in Ukrainian, compared to 60.5% of all school pupils in 1996-97 – the transition process in
    higher education proceeded faster than in schools. As a result, the number of students
    instructed in Ukrainian (78%) had overtaken the number of Ukrainian-educated pupils (73%)
    by 2002-2003. As with schools, however, the regional differences were conspicuous. While
    in the central and western part of the country higher education had become fully
    ukrainianized (reaching figures close to 100%), in the east and in the south only a small
    majority of students were instructed in Ukrainian by 2002-2003. One must also be cautious in
    taking these figures at face value. Several students I met in Kyiv in September 2004 indicated
    that some of their lessons were still given in Russian. In addition, some lecturers reportedly
    allowed students to vote on the language of instruction. The figures therefore may not reflect
    the actual state of affairs, which could still be favouring Russian.
    As regards the substantive side of the nationalizing project, institutes of higher
    education, irrespective of ownership or orientation, have since independence been required to
    teach a number of humanities and social sciences, the so-called humanitarnyi blok. Three of
    these humanities, History of Ukraine, Business Ukrainian, and Ukrainian and Foreign Culture,
    are clearly related to the nation-building project. The humanitarnyi blok as a whole replaced a
    number of courses of the Soviet period that were specifically designed to inculcate the
    communist ideology (see Table 4). Most of the lecturers who taught these courses in the
    Soviet era retained their jobs and started teaching the new disciplines. Many teachers of
    History of the Communist Party, for instance, had to change their orientation overnight and
    teach History of Ukraine (Kovaleva, 1999).
    Interestingly and in contrast to schools, institutes of higher education are free to
    determine the subject matter of the mandatory disciplines, including history of Ukraine (see
    art 46 of the 1996 Education Act (Parliament of Ukraine, 1996). Interviews with the teaching
    staff of several universities revealed that institutes indeed used this discretion by elaborating
    their own curricula and teaching materials. Although groups of experts supervised by the
    Ministry had prepared central curricula for the mandatory disciplines at the end of the 1990s,
    none of the interview partners teaching history of Ukraine said they actually used these
    curricula as a guideline for their lectures. Instead, all of them indicated that they had
    prepared their own curricula ―based on a general understanding of the important periods in
    Ukrainian history‖.2 They also stated that the state inspection checked up on the content of
    education only once in every five years as part of the general attestation cycle. These
    statements do not give the impression that the central authorities are much involved in, nor
    concerned about history of Ukraine and the other mandatory courses. One state official
    openly expressed doubts on the long-term viability of history of Ukraine, Business Ukrainian,
    and Ukrainian and Foreign Culture, saying that ―no civilized European state requires its
    higher education establishments to teach national history, language and culture‖.3 In fact,
    government support for the these subjects appears to have dwindled the last years as the
    2 Interview with L. S. Dunaevskii, head of the social-humanitarian department of the Crimean branch of the
    European University of Finance, Information Systems and Business. Simferopol, 22 September 2004.
    Ministry of Education has repeatedly reduced the number of hours devoted to the compulsory
    courses, a fact much regretted by the nationally conscious intelligentsia and the teaching staff
    directly affected (Literaturna Ukraina, 2002).
    Table 4 about here
    4.2 Democratization and globalization in higher education
    The declining importance of nation-building concurred with a surge of government interest in
    issues related to globalization and – to a lesser extent – democratization. To begin with the
    latter, it must be noted that the issue of autonomy for higher education has been largely
    ignored by the authorities until recently. Indeed, Rarog (2005) reports that the freedom and
    participation levels granted to institute staff during Perestroika were steadily curtailed by a
    string of government and presidential decrees in the 1990s. However, the 2002 Higher
    Education Act, although prepared in Soviet-style secrecy (ibid.), may have been a turning
    point as it granted institutions of higher education noticeably more powers in matters of
    personnel (Parliament of Ukraine, 2002). Unlike before, the University Council now has the
    decisive vote in the appointment of a new rector. Previously, the Ministry of Education gave
    its approval to new appointments. In addition, the law acknowledged and formalized student
    self-administration, although the decisions of these bodies were only given an advisory status.
    As in the case of schools, however, the Ministry continued to determine the state standards of
    education, which in regard to higher education set requirements for the qualifications of
    3 Interview with K. M. Levkivs‘kyi, director of the Scientific-Metholodogical Department of the Ministry of
    teaching staff and the level and volume of education. The Ministry also remained in full
    control of attestation, inspection and certification.
    Much more so than democratization, the discourse of globalization has really
    dominated the Ministry‘s agenda in recent years. From 2000 almost every edition of the
    education journals Osvita and Osvita Ukrainy features articles on the Bologna process.4 The
    tenor of these articles, many of which quote the former education minister Vasil‘ Kremen‘, is
    that Ukraine has no choice but to participate in the Bologna process if it wishes its higher
    educational establishments to provide high quality training and remain competitive on the
    world market. The prospect of Ukraine and its institutions becoming an isolated backwater in
    Europe, issuing diplomas that nobody else recognizes, thus seems to have become a major
    concern of educational policy makers, removing nation-building from the top of the political
    agenda. Indeed, one of the first actions of the new education minister Stanislav Nikolaenko as
    part of the Tymoshenko-led government was to make Ukraine a member of the Bologna
    process (17 May 2005). Moreover, among the five policy priorities that he established for his
    term of office, nation-building concerns are conspicuously absent. This is all the more
    remarkable as the new government installed in January 2005 after the turbulent presidential
    elections is said to have a national-democratic and patriotic profile. One of the five priorities
    is ―attaining European levels of quality and accessibility‖ (Osvita Ukrainy 2005, p. 2).
    Interestingly, this closely echoes one of the key assignments for education the EU
    Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has formulated for Ukraine: ―Reform and upgrade the
    education and training system and work towards convergence with EU standards and
    practices‖ (EU/Ukraine Action plan 2005, p. 26). As the ENP ―will encourage and support
    Ukraine‘s objective of further integration into European economic and social structures‖ (ibid.
    Education of Ukraine. Kyiv, 15 September 2004.
    4 The Bologna process seeks to establish a European Higher Education Area in which the participating
    institutions issue comparable degrees, recognize each other‘s diplomas and operate a system of accumulation
    and transfer of credits with the aim of increasing student and staff mobility.
    p. 1), it seems that, in addition to the fear of losing out in the competition with other nations,
    the Ukrainian authorities are now also motivated by the prospect of one day joining the
    European Union in their efforts to reform higher education.
    Globalization has also left its mark on the structure of higher education and on the
    offer of courses. Thus, in contrast to school education, private institutions have mushroomed
    in higher education. According to the website of the Ministry of Education, as much as 105
    out of 311 institutes are privately owned. Yet, as these institutes are on average much smaller
    than state institutes and ask substantial tuition fees, they enrol only about 7.5% of the total
    number of students (Ministry of Education, 2004b).5 The overwhelming majority of the
    private institutes have an economic profile, teaching business, management, law, information
    technology, and foreign languages. They thus cater to the growing demand by parents and
    students for professional education that prepares the latter for a career in international
    business, or, if the required level of talent for that is not met, for jobs in Ukrainian private
    companies. Like state institutes of higher education, however, private institutes are required
    to teach the aforementioned humanities and social sciences. The question is what attitude
    students have towards these subjects: are they taken seriously or are they seen as a nuisance
    preventing students from learning things ‗that really matter‘. In 1999 a survey among 165
    fourth-grade students of two state universities and one private institution in the eastern city of
    Donets‘k revealed that the compulsory courses were on average not considered essential. In
    addition, their teaching quality was judged to be lower than that of the special courses.
    Moreover, History of Ukraine was rated as one of the least useful subjects of the
    Humanitarnyi Blok, with students from the private institution displaying particular negative
    opinions (Kovaleva 2000). Thus, the lack of support from the Ministry of Education seems to
    5 The figure of 7.5% was calculated from data on student numbers on the Ministry‘s website.
    be combined with pressure from below to diminish the role of the compulsory courses or to
    abolish them altogether.
  2. Discussion
    This paper has revealed that nation-building has been the key priority in Ukraine‘s education
    system after independence. The identity project found its most dramatic expression in the
    transformation of the language of instruction. The educational sector has moved from a
    largely Russian-instructed system to a Ukrainian-instructed one, a process that has not yet
    come to an end. In addition, nation-building had a considerable bearing on school subjects
    that are ideally suited for conveying a patriotic narrative – literature, geography and history.
    The central curricula and textbooks for these subjects had the suffering of the Ukrainian
    nation and the injustices committed by foreign powers (Poland, tsarist Russia and, last but not
    least, the Soviet Union) as their leitmotiv. The authorities moreover left the centralized
    system of the Soviet era intact, which meant that schools, irrespective of profile or form of
    ownership, were obliged to use the central curricula and textbooks. Institutes of higher
    education, too, were required to teach a number of courses instrumental for the national
    revival project.
    Democratization was the evident victim of the emphasis on nation-building. The
    determination to Ukrainianize the education system of both the Kravchuk and Kuchma
    administrations effectively blocked parents, students or educational establishments from
    having a say on the language of instruction. The Ministry of Education even explicitly
    prohibited students from voting on this issue. The centralized nature of school education,
    with its prescribed curricula and textbooks, moreover prevented local authorities, national
    minorities, schools and parents to acquaint pupils with cultures and historical narratives
    different from those sanctioned by the state. This was most visibly exemplified by the central
    government‘s imposition of the national curriculum and the corresponding programmes and
    textbooks on the Russian-speaking region of Crimea. Yet some changes in the direction of
    democratization did occur. Higher education, for instance, was free to determine the subject
    matter of the group of mandatory humanities and social sciences.
    At this point it is important to note that a preference among Russian-speakers for
    Russian-language instruction should not automatically be equated with an unwillingness to
    learn Ukrainian. Some Russian-speakers may indeed bluntly reject Ukrainian language and
    culture but many others are likely to regard Russian-language education simply as a vehicle
    to pass their cultural heritage on to their offspring without making a judgement on Ukrainian
    language and culture. In any case, it is no longer possible for youngsters to ignore the state
    language as Ukrainian language and literature have been instituted as mandatory subjects in
    all educational institutions. The educational authorities are thus both enforcing the learning of
    the state language (which might be seen as a wholly legitimate state activity) and constraining
    the possibilities for national minorities to receive education in their native language, culture
    and history. It is in this latter sense that Ukraine‘s nation-building project conflicts with
    Since 2000 globalization has become an increasingly powerful force shaping
    Ukraine‘s education system. In 2001-2002 the authorities introduced a twelve-year system of
    primary and secondary education to bring Ukraine‘s school education in conformity with
    European systems. In higher education globalization appears to have decidedly overcome
    nation-building as the top priority as concerns about joining the Bologna process have
    dominated the agenda of the Ministry of Education in recent years. Equally noteworthy has
    been the rise of private institutions, many of which have an economic profile and provide
    instruction in the competencies prescribed by the globalization discourse. At the same time,
    the Ministry of Education has repeatedly cut back on the number of hours of the mandatory
    courses relating to the nation-building project. The coincidence of an increasing salience of
    globalization and a declining importance of nation-building in higher education nicely
    captures the competitive relation between the two discourses.
    Now what do these patterns tell us? Do they allow us to make predictions about future
    trends in policies and identity formation? Let us start with policy and government. A
    remarkable finding of this study was that the Kuchma administration, though originating
    from the Russian-speaking south and east, continued the nation-building policies of its
    national-democratic predecessor. This has led one observer to conclude that there seems to be
    consensus among the political elites in Ukraine about an intimate connection between
    language, national identity and the viability of Ukraine as an independent state:
    My own hypothesis is that the members of this elite have already made up their minds:
    Ukraine is to remain independent of Russia. They nurture no illusions that this can be possible
    unless the country has a cultural identity distinct from that of Russia. And the clearest, most
    obvious cultural marker at their disposal? Language, of course (Kolstoe 2000, pp. 188,189).
    If this conclusion is indeed valid then we should not expect to see much difference between a
    reform-oriented pro-western and a conservative pro-Russian government in the nation-
    building policies pursued.
    Yet, as this study has shown, starting from Kuchma‘s second term of office the
    authorities seem to attach more importance to globalization than to nation-building,
    particularly in higher education. How are we to interpret this finding? Does it mean that the
    government is confident that the nation-building project will succeed anyway and that it does
    not need further support? The success of the Ukrainianization process in schools and higher
    education might lead some policy makers to come to this conclusion. Or is it a sign that the
    conviction of a link between language, identity and national independence is eroding? In
    other words, does the ruling elite now increasingly believe that a national identity based on
    distinguishing cultural markers may not be so important in underpinning state independence
    after all? Another theory is that the shift in priorities may be linked to a reorientation of
    Ukraine‘s foreign policy enhancing the influence of Russia over Ukraine‘s internal policies.
    The argument here is that the implication of the Kuchma regime in various scandals and
    violations of human rights (the Kuchma tapes, the Gongadze murder and the Iraq arms deal)
    led to a severing of ties with the West, leaving the regime with no other option but to
    strengthen its relations with Russia in order to avoid international isolation (e.g. Kuzio
    2005a). Possibly, the Putin administration has urged Ukraine to soften up its nation-building
    policies in exchange for solid support for the Kuchma regime. There is no denying that
    Ukraine indeed moved much closer to Russia in the years 2001-2004 and that Russia played
    an increasingly important role in Ukraine‘s internal affairs. It has for instance been alleged
    that Russia was closely involved in censoring the Ukrainian media and staging the campaign
    for the 2004 presidential elections (e.g. Kuzio 2005b). Yet, if the mitigation of the nation-
    building project had had its roots in Moscow, we would have expected to see a complete
    turnaround of policy under the pro-western national-democratic government instituted in
    January 2005. But this has not happened. To the contrary, the new education minister
    Stanislav Nikolaenko continued the pragmatic course of his predecessor and identified issues
    other than nation-building as key policy priorities.
    What other explanation might there be for the fading salience of nation-building in
    relation to other objectives of education? My own hypothesis is that the conviction of a link
    between language, identity and loyalty to the state is as strong as before but that an anxiety
    for not meeting the utilitarian preferences and expectations of the population has simply
    assumed greater proportions among the ruling elite. This population has witnessed how
    several neighbouring states have successfully entered the European Union and are expecting
    their government to prepare Ukraine‘s accession as well. Any obstacles in this process, such
    as nation building policies criticized by international monitoring organizations, are not likely
    to be appreciated by the electorate. The Ukrainian government may therefore feel that it does
    not have a choice but to go along with international trends and keep a low profile on nation
    building issues.
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    TABLE 1. Enrollment in Ukrainian-language schools and the share of Ukrainians in the regional population (in
    in population
    1989 (%)
    in population
    2001 (%)
    East 15.5 26.7 45.4 59.3 66.4
    South 23.4 33.5 49.3 52.5 58.3
    Center-east 60.6 79.0 93.8 88.2 91.3
    Center-west 77.1 89.9 97.4 88.9 92.6
    West 88.0 94.5 95.5 89.2 92.2
    Kyiv city 20.1 75.8 95 72.4 82.2
    Total Ukraine 47.4 60.5 73 72.7 77.8
    Nb: The regional breakdown is based on the one proposed by Arel and Wilson (1994). The define western
    Ukraine as including the oblasts of L‘viv, Ivano-Frankivs‘k, Ternopil‘, Volyn‘, Rivne, Transcarpathia, and
    Chernivtsi. Center-west comprises the oblasts of Khmel‘nyts‘kyi, Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Cherkasy, Kyiv Oblast
    and Kirovohrad. Center-east is made up of Sumy, Chernihiv and Poltava. Eastern Ukraine includes Donets‘k,
    Luhans‘k, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovs‘k and Zaporizhzhia. Southern Ukraine comprises Odesa, Kherson, Mykolaiv
    and Crimea.
    Sources: for the school data of 1988-89, 1996-97 and the 1989 population data, see Janmaat (1999); for the
    school data of 2002-03 and the population data of 2001, see Ministry of Statistics (2003). The 2002-03 school
    data were calculated from oblast data on the number of pupils and the language of instruction (ibid, pp. 508,
    Table 2. National curriculum for Ukrainian schools and schools with instruction in a minority language (1998-
    1999 school year)
    Ukrainian-language schools Schools with instruction in Russian or in another
    minority language
    Subject Total no. of hours a week
    in all grades *
    Subject Total no. of hours a week
    in all grades *
    Ukrainian Language 44.5 Ukrainian Language and
    Ukrainian Literature 19 Native Language 34.5
    World Literature 14 Native Language and
    World Literature
    Foreign Language 19.5 Foreign Language 19.5
    History of Ukraine 9.5 History of Ukraine 9.5
    World History 8.5 World History 8.5
    Geography 9.5 Geography 9.5
    Other subjects 129 Other subjects 129
  • Ukraine continued the comprehensive school system of the Soviet period. This system is characterised by all-
    through schools combining primary and secondary education in a ten or eleven-grade structure.
    Source: Ministry of Education (1998a)
    TABLE 3. Proportion of students instructed in Ukrainian in institutes of higher education instructed by region.
    Regions 1995-1996 (%) 2002-2003 (%)
    East 23 58.9
    South 26.9 55.5
    Center-east 61.3 94.2
    Center-west 88.1 97.9
    West 99.4 99.1
    Kyiv city 67 97
    Total Ukraine 51 78
    For the regional breakdown see Table 1.
    Source: Ministry of Statistics (2003). The data for both years were calculated from oblast data on the number of
    students and the language of instruction in higher education (ibid, pp. 515, 516).
    TABLE 4. Compulsory courses in the humanities and social sciences in Ukrainian institutes of higher education
    before and after independence
    Before independence After independence
    History of the Communist Party of the USSR History of Ukraine
    Political economy Ukrainian business language
    Marxist-Leninist philosophy Ukrainian and foreign culture
    Scientific atheism Philosophy
    Basic principles of Soviet law Principles of psychology and pedagogy
    Foreign language (usually German) Theology
    Physical education Political science
    Principles of law
    Principles of constitutional law
    Foreign language
    Physical education
    Source: Janmaat (2000)

Comment This is the reality of genocide in Ukraine, getting rid of anything Russian. Hence Ukraine’s Donbas atrocities with western connivance and leadership. Russia did not cause this war. Anglo U.S led Imperialistic NATO did.

Western influence is why Africa, the Indian sub continent and Middle East are in turmoil, with religious escapism, tribalism and ever increasing overpopulation so rampantly spilling westwards, so reducing everywhere to the same miserable level and tyrannical rule – all in the name of diversity and multi culture. Putin et al does not want Russia to be reduced to this level.

R J Cook

March 8th 2024

Rethinking the homunculus
When we discovered that the brain contained a map of the body it revolutionised neuroscience. But it’s time for an update

Hospital, London

Moheb Costandi

is a molecular and developmental neurobiologist, author and freelance science writer. He is the author of Neuroplasticity (2016) and Body Am I(2024), and writes the blog Neurophilosophy. He lives in London.

Edited byPam Weintraub

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The homunculus is one of the most iconic images in neurology and neuroscience. Usually visualised as a series of disproportionately sized body parts splayed across a section of the brain, it shows how the body is systematically mapped onto the sensory and motor cortices, representing the proportion of brain tissue devoted to each part of the body.

This image has not only had a long-lasting impact on neurosurgical practice and basic brain research, but has also entered the public imagination, with three-dimensional clay models consisting of an enormous head and outsized hands attached to a tiny torso, on display at the Natural History Museum in London, and elsewhere.

The groundbreaking work that led to the homunculus was a major advance in our understanding of the structure and function of the brain, and the homunculus itself revolutionised the art of medical illustration. Yet modern research suggests that the homunculus is far more complex than originally thought, and some argue that it is incorrect and needs to be radically revised.

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The homunculus – meaning little man – is the brainchild of the Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (1891-1976), who co-founded the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University in 1934 and became its first director. There, he developed a pioneering technique for identifying, and then surgically removing, abnormal brain tissue causing epileptic seizures. Using this method over the course of his career, he and his colleagues produced early detailed maps of the functions of various regions of the cerebral cortex.

Most epileptic patients respond well to anti-convulsant drugs, but for those who do not, and whose seizures become frequent, severe and debilitating, brain surgery is a last-resort treatment. Penfield’s technique involved using an electrode to electrically stimulate the surface of the patient’s brain; crucially, they remained fully conscious on the operating table during the procedure, so that the patient could describe the effects of the stimulation. This enabled Penfield to cut out, or resect, the tissue causing the seizures without damaging neighbouring tissue involved in functions such as movement and language.

With the patient’s scalp anaesthetised and their skull opened, Penfield applied small electrical currents to the exposed surface of his patient’s brain. Because the patient remained fully conscious, Penfield could not only observe the movements evoked by stimulation of a specific area, but also ask them about the sensations and perceptions they experienced.

Stimulation of the top of the brain evoked movement or sensation in the hip and torso

Penfield operated on more than 1,000 patients throughout the 1930s and ’40s, and thus comprehensively ‘mapped’ the function of each area of the cerebral cortex. Electrical stimulation of some regions elicited the recall of long-lost memories; others triggered musical or olfactory hallucinations, famously causing one patient to report: ‘I smell burnt toast!’

His most important discovery, however, was the organisation of the sensory and motor cortices, two narrow, adjacent strips of tissue that run down from the top to the bottom of the brain on either side of the central sulcus, a deep fissure separating the frontal and parietal lobes.

Here, stimulation in front of the fissure evoked small movements or muscle twitches in specific parts of the body, and stimulation just behind it evoked sensations instead. Importantly, the body appeared to be mapped in a highly organised manner in both of these regions, such that stimulation of adjacent patches in either evoked movements or sensations in adjacent body parts on the opposite side of the body.

Thus, stimulation of the top of the brain evoked movement or sensation in the hip and torso, and stimulation progressively further down along the outer surface elicited responses first in the shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, and then the wrist. Finally, there was a large patch of both strips of tissue devoted to the hand, with each finger represented individually, and another large patch devoted to the face, tongue and throat. Crucially, although the precise size and location of the tissue devoted to each body part differed between patients, the sequence of responses elicited by progressive stimulations from the top to the bottom of the brain was always the same.

During each procedure, Penfield would place small numbered stickers on the patient’s brain, and take note of the response evoked by electrical stimulation of that particular patch of tissue (see figure below):

From Wilder Penfield and Edwin Boldrey’s 1937 paper. American Neurological Association

14. Tingling from the knee down to the right foot, no numbness.
13. Numbness all down the right leg, did not include the foot.
12. Numbness over the wrist, lower border, right side.
11. Numbness in the right shoulder.
3. Numb feeling in hand and forearm up to just above the forearm.
10. Tingling feeling in the fifth or little finger.
9. Tingling in first three fingers.
4. Felt like a shock and numbness in all four fingers but not in the thumb.
8. Felt sensation of movement in the thumb; no evidence of movement could be seen.
7. Same as 8.
5. Numbness in the right side of the tongue.
6. Tingling feeling in the right side of the tongue, more at the tip.
15. Tingling in the tongue, associated with up and down vibratory movements.
16. Numbness, back of tongue, mid-line.
Precentral gyrus from above down: –
(G) Flexion of knee.
18. Slight twitching of arm and hand like a shock, and felt as if he wanted to move them.
2. Shrugged shoulders upwards; did not feel like an attack.
(H) Clonic movement of right arm, shoulders, forearm, no movement in trunk.
(A) Extreme flexion of wrist, elbow and hand.
(D) Closure of hand and flexion of his wrist, like an attack.
17. Felt as if he were going to have an attack, flexion of arms and forearms, extension of wrist.
(E) Slight closure of hand; stimulation followed by local flushing of brain; this was repeated with the strength at 24. Flushing was followed by pallor for a few seconds.
(B) Patient states that he could not help closing his right eye but he actually closed both.
(C) Made a little noise; vocalisation. This was repeated twice. Patient says he could not help it. It was associated with movement of the upper and lower lips, equal on the two sides …

It is these findings that are immortalised in visual form as the homunculus, which first appeared in Penfield’s paper ‘Somatic Motor and Sensory Representation in the Cerebral Cortex of Man as Studied by Electrical Stimulation’ (1937), co-authored with Edwin Boldrey. The findings reveal that the motor and sensory cortices are organised in such a way that there is a point-for-point correspondence of body parts to specific regions of brain tissue, with adjacent body parts ‘represented’ by adjacent patches of tissue.

This organisation is referred to as ‘somatotopy’, and it is widely considered to be a fundamental principle of brain structure and function. Furthermore, Penfield’s technique, which came to be known as ‘the Montreal Procedure’, is still used today. Several years ago, for example, the violinist Dagmar Turner played her instrument throughout a neurosurgical procedure, so that the team performing the operation could remove a brain tumour without damaging the motor cortex.https://youtube.com/embed/9NvAhvSPvjw

It’s also worth discussing what’s been called the ‘hermonculus’. The homunculus is a composite of localisation data that Penfield obtained from the presurgical evaluation of some 400 patients. Yet, while the homunculus clearly shows the cortical representation of male genitalia, female anatomical parts are conspicuously absent. The reasons for this are unclear. It may be because Penfield worked at a time when it was considered inappropriate to ask about or report certain sensations experienced by his female patients; because female patients felt embarrassed reporting genital sensations to male authority figures; or because Hortense Cantlie, the medical illustrator who drew the homunculus, may have been uncomfortable incorporating female genitalia into her illustrations.

Another possibility is that Penfield simply did not have enough data – just nine of the patients on which the homunculus is based were confirmed as female, only one of whom reported any genital sensations during presurgical evaluation. This was a 27-year-old woman referred to as ‘EC’, who had a tumour removed from her right sensory cortex. Before her surgery, the tumour caused spontaneous seizures that produced a tingling sensation that shifted between her left buttock, labium and breast, and, on the operating table, electrical stimulation of the sensory cortex produced a sensation in her left buttock and a twitching of her left foot.

Penfield and his colleagues thus assumed that the female genitals and breasts are represented in the same region as the male genitalia: adjacent to the representation of the foot, on the inner wall of the cortex, deep inside the longitudinal fissure separating the left and right hemispheres.

We need further investigation into the hermunculus, and to fill in the rest of the female map

We still know very little about the neural representation of the female body. In Penfield’s time, there was only one other case study hinting at how the female genitalia map onto the cortex, that of an epileptic woman diagnosed with ‘erotomania’ (nymphomania) because she experienced vaginal sensations during her seizures; removal of the tumour causing the seizures relieved the patient of those symptoms.

Between then and 2011, there were only 10 other studies investigating the somatotopic organisation of female anatomical parts. These provided conflicting results, hinting at alternative locations for females: some scientists mapped sensations related to female anatomy onto the inner wall of the cortex, consistent with Penfield, but others mapped them further up, at the brain’s apex. Among some researchers, the call is on to resolve the matter with further, active investigation into the hermunculus, and to fill in the rest of the female map. ‘What happens to bodily sensation during pregnancy, menopause … or after surgeries such as oophorectomy[?]’ the neuroscientist Paula Di Noto and colleagues asked in the journal Cerebral Cortex in 2012.

In the most recent such study to address the issue, published in 2022, Andrea Knop of Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) to scan 20 women’s brains while stimulation was applied to their clitorises with an air-controlled vibrating membrane placed over disposable underwear just below the pubic mound, to show that the representation of the clitoris in the brain lies adjacent to that of the hips and upper legs, results that ‘provide independent confirmation for the revision of the original homunculus’.

Furthermore, the researchers found that the frequency of sexual intercourse within the 12 months prior to the scan was linked to the thickness of that particular area of the sensory cortex, with the more sexually active participants exhibiting thicker tissue. By contrast, the phase of the menstrual cycle was not associated with differences in thickness of the ‘genital field’.

The sensory and motor strips of the cortex work together to control and coordinate limb movements. The sensory cortex contains cells that process touch and pain information, and the motor cortex contains cells that execute movements by sending signals down the spinal cord to ‘secondary’ cells that activate specific muscles.

But both regions also contain neurons that exhibit properties associated with spatial navigation. These navigation cells, called ‘place cells’, are located in a deep brain structure called the hippocampus. They were first identified in the 1970s in experiments performed on rats, which showed that individual place cells are activated only when the animal enters a specific place in its environment. Since then, researchers have discovered several other navigational cells in and around the hippocampus: head direction cells, which fire when the animal is moving in a specific direction, and grid cells, which fire periodically as the animal moves through an open space.

Two monkeys navigated a small room in a wheelchair controlled by a brain-machine interface to get food

These cells make up the brain’s global positioning system, working together to generate maps of the environment and contributing to formation of the spatial memories we use to find our way around. Recently, two groups of researchers have independently shown that this same spatial navigation system is also found in the brain’s sensory and motor regions.

In a study published in 2018, researchers at Duke University in North Carolina trained two rhesus monkeys to navigate a small room in a wheelchair controlled by a brain-machine interface in order to get food, while recording the activity of hundreds of cells with microelectrode arrays implanted into the animals’ sensory and motor cortices. Unexpectedly, they found that significant numbers of them exhibited place cell-like activity, firing only when the wheelchair was moved into a specific location.

These findings were confirmed in a 2021 study by researchers at Xinqiao Hospital in China, who recorded from the sensory cortex in foraging rats and identified neurons with the properties of place cells, grid cells and head-direction cells.

Although unexpected, the discovery of navigational cells in the sensory and motor cortices is not entirely surprising. Whereas in the hippocampus they function to generate maps and aid navigation, here they are likely to encode the position and orientation of the body within its surroundings.

The discovery of navigational cells in the sensory and motor cortices allows us to expand our thinking about the function of these parts of the brain. Research into the somatotopic organisation of the female body suggests that the homunculus needs to be updated. At the same time, a team of researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis is now arguing that the homunculus is entirely wrong and needs to be completely redrawn.

Evan Gordon, Nico Dosenbach and colleagues set out to replicate Penfield’s findings by using fMRI to scan the brains of seven volunteers at rest and as they performed various movement tasks, generating high-resolution brain maps for each. They then verified their results with data from three large, publicly available datasets, which between them contain brain-scanning data collected from some 50,000 people.

They found that movement of the feet, hands and face was associated with the parts of the motor cortex identified by Penfield, but that interspersed between these discrete regions were other areas that did not seem to be involved in movement at all. These other regions were thinner than the flanking regions associated with individual parts of the body, and were connected to each other, both within the same and between the two hemispheres of the brain, to form a chain running down the motor strip.

They argue that Penfield’s classic homunculus is wrong or at least spectacularly incomplete

Further investigation revealed that these areas are also strongly connected to distant brain regions involved in ‘executive’ functions such as thinking and planning, visual processing and the processing of touch, pain and internal bodily signals, and that they became active when the participants thought about moving.

The researchers propose that these areas form a network that integrates whole-body movements and anticipates them with appropriate changes in arousal, posture, breathing and heart function.

‘All of these connections make sense if you think about what the brain is really for,’ Dosenbach said in an interview. ‘The brain is for successfully behaving in the environment so you can achieve your goals without hurting or killing yourself. You move your body for a reason. Of course, the motor areas must be connected to executive function and control of basic bodily processes, like blood pressure and pain.’

In light of their findings, Gordon, Dosenbach and colleagues argue that Penfield’s classic homunculus is wrong or at least spectacularly incomplete, and needs to be radically revised to include the network they identified, which they have named the somato-cognitive action network (SCAN).

‘Penfield was brilliant, and his ideas have been dominant for 90 years … [but] once we started looking, we found lots of published data that didn’t quite jibe with his ideas, and alternative interpretations that had been ignored,’ Dosenbach said. ‘We pulled together a lot of different data in addition to our own observations, and zoomed out and synthesised it, and came up with a new way of thinking about how the body and the mind are tied together.’

What does this mean for neurosurgeons who use the homunculus to guide their scalpel? Performing surgery for epilepsy is extremely challenging due to the high risk of damaging the sensory or motor strips. Typically, the motor cortex generates seizures that are limited to certain parts of the body, but may spread to adjacent parts, and the non-movement regions identified by Gordon, Dosenbach and colleagues could, in theory, generate seizures that spread in unusual ways.

‘The likelihood that a seizure remains in this area without spreading to adjacent motor areas seems low, and I would expect typical [symptoms] in most situations,’ David Steven, professor of neurosurgery at Western University in London, Ontario, told me. With the brain regions intermingled, the surgery could be high risk, except in ‘the face area, which is usually safe as there is representation [on both sides of the brain].’

In practical terms, the little man in the brain still looms large. ‘For pre-surgical work-up and intra-operative decisions, it remains critical and very relevant,’ says Steven. ‘It may be oversimplified but, practically speaking, it remains essential.’

Mapping in finer detail will allow for prostheses that provide more realistic sensory feedback

Beyond the operating table, knowledge of how the body maps onto the motor cortex has been instrumental in the development of brain-machine interfaces that control prostheses to restore function to paralysed patients and amputees. These devices typically consist of a microelectrode array implanted into the motor cortex, which reads the brain activity associated with planning and executing movements and translates it into commands that can be used to control a wheelchair or robotic arm.

Early versions of these prostheses were cumbersome, but they are becoming more sophisticated by the day, and some of the newer devices can simultaneously stimulate the sensory cortex to provide sensory feedback. As well as restoring some sense of touch, this gives the user better control over the device, and can also reduce phantom limb pain that most amputees feel. Mapping the sensory homunculus in even finer detail will undoubtedly allow for prostheses that provide increasingly realistic sensory feedback to the user.

In the not too distant future, this knowledge, combined with a better understanding of brain activity underlying different types of touch, could also be used to develop the next generation of ‘haptic devices’, consisting of headsets that can precisely target the sensory cortex with small electrical or magnetic pulses to elicit realistic sensations of various kinds in any part of the user’s body.

From the future of artificial limbs to the future of gaming, the little man (and woman) in the brain may just be getting started – even if we’re still learning how they operate, in full.

NeuroscienceHistory of scienceMedicine

March 5th 2024

Home>Protecting Your Human Rights>Actions Against the Police

Actions Against the Police

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Empowering Families: Ensuring Both Parents Matter for Children’s Well-being

At FNF, we believe that children thrive when they maintain positive relationships with both parents, even after separation or divorce.

As a prominent UK charity since 1974, we are dedicated to supporting dads, mums, and grandparents in fostering personal contact and meaningful connections with their children. Our comprehensive services include information, advice, and support, guiding parents toward positive outcomes for their children during challenging times. Explore our online forum and connect with our network of branches for free guidance from solicitors and other professionals experienced in navigating the family court system. Join us on this journey to uphold the importance of both parents in children’s lives and ensure the well-being of families post-separation.


Is it hard to live without father?

We know that children who grow up with absent-fathers can suffer lasting damage. They are more likely to end up in poverty or drop out of school, become addicted to drugs, have a child out of wedlock, or end up in prison.12 May 2023

March 2nd 2024

Florida Moves to Ban Homeless Sleeping on Streets

Published Mar 02, 2024 at 8:32

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The GOP-controlled Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that aims to prevent homeless people from sleeping in public places.

In a 82-26 vote along party lines, Florida lawmakers approved HB 1365. It prohibits counties and municipalities in the state from “authorizing or otherwise allowing public camping or sleeping” on public property. The bill also allows for funding for homeless shelters while providing designated areas for people to stay in. These areas would need to provide running water and access to utilities such as restrooms, as well as be alcohol- and drug-free zones.

The state of Florida had the third-highest homeless population in the country as of 2022, with nearly 26,000 people listed as experiencing homelessness on any given night, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report.

Homelessness in Florida
Homeless people are lying in a makeshift shelter on a sidewalk in Miami on August 4, 2021. Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that would prevent homeless people from sleeping in public. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images

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The legislation, which has already been supported by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, was brought forward by Republican state representative Sam Garrison.

“This bill takes steps towards addressing the crisis of chronic homelessness by prohibiting public sleeping or camping on public properties or public rights of way while simultaneously making allowances for secure safe areas for those who have no other place to go,” Rep. Garrison said on the House floor on Friday, reported Florida’s Voice news outlet.

“This is not a bill designed to put people out of sight, out of mind. It’s quite the opposite,” Garrison added, via Fox News. Newsweek emailed Rep. Sam Garrison for comment on Saturday.

“When it gets to a point where the problem exceeds the resources to address it, the cost of dealing with it on the back end is inevitably 10 times what it would be on the front end.”

During the debate on the House floor, Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani asked if a homeless person could be arrested if they choose not to stay at the designated areas approved by the state.

“Our bill does not describe criminal penalties. We leave it to the local jurisdictions to make a determination about what’s the best way to address the problem,” Garrison replied.

The House rejected a series of amendments to the bill put forward by Democrats. These included one to ensure homeless parents and children are kept together, and another that would have banned perpetrators of domestic violence from being allowed in the designated shelters.

In February, DeSantis said he supports the plans to crack down on public homelessness in the state, so Florida does not “become San Francisco.”

“It’s got to be done in ways focused primary on ensuring public order, ensuring quality of life for residents, ensuring that people’s property values are maintained, ensuring that businesses are able to operate,” DeSantis said in a February 5 press conference.

After clearing the House, HB 1365 now moves to the Senate for approval. If it also passes through the upper chamber, the legislation will take effect from October 1.

About the writer

Ewan Palmer


Public Interest Immunity In U.K Democracy


(Top) Seeking the order


Public-interest immunity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Public-interest immunity (PII), previously known as Crown privilege, is a principle of English common law under which the English courts can grant a court order allowing one litigant to refrain from disclosing evidence to the other litigants where disclosure would be damaging to the public interest. This is an exception to the usual rule that all parties in litigation must disclose any evidence that is relevant to the proceedings. In making a PII order, the court has to balance the public interest in the administration of justice (which demands that relevant material is available to the parties to litigation) and the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of certain documents whose disclosure would be damaging. PII orders have been used in criminal law against large organised criminal outfits and drug dealers where the identity of paid police informants could be at risk.

Seeking the order

An order that PII applies would usually be sought by the British government to protect official secrets, and so can be perceived as a gagging order. Where a minister believes that PII applies, he signs a PII certificate, which then allows the court to make the final decision on whether the balance of public interest was in favour of disclosure or not. Generally, a court will allow a claim of PII without inspecting the documents: only where there is some doubt will the court inspect the documents to decide whether PII applies.

Originally, a government minister was under a duty to advance a PII point where PII could be relevant, and the court took a certificate from a minister claiming PII as final and conclusive. However, over time, there has been an increase in both the ability of a minister to make a disclosure, notwithstanding the potential application of PII, and the ability of the courts to review a claim of PII. In Conway v Rimmer [1968], the House of Lords held that the courts retained the final decision on whether PII should be upheld, and, in R v Chief Constable of West Midlands, ex parte Wiley [1995], the House of Lords decided that a minister could discharge his duty by making his own judgment of where the public interest lies (that is, to disclose or to assert PII). In practice, this is thought to have led to a reduction in the number of cases when PII is asserted.


PII was previously known as Crown Privilege, and derived from the same principle as the sovereign immunity of the Crown from prosecution before the Crown Proceedings Act 1947. However, PII is not limited to the Crown (see the NSPCC case mentioned below), and cannot be waived save in exceptional circumstances.

A number of PII certificates were signed in relation to the prosecutions of individuals involved in the Matrix Churchill “Arms to Iraq” case, a subject that was subsequently investigated in the Scott Report.


  • Duncan v. Cammell Laird and Co. Ltd [1942] AC 624. The submarine HMS Thetis sank on 1 June 1939 during sea trials with the loss of 99 lives. The families of the sailors who had been killed in the disaster claimed damages from the builders, Cammell Laird. The House of Lords upheld a certificate issued by the Admiralty claiming PII in relation to the plans of the submarine. The House of Lords also held that the courts should take a PII certificate at face value.
  • Tomlinson v HMG. In 1995, former MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson attempted to bring MI6 before an employment tribunal to seek compensation for unfair dismissal. MI6 argued that this would “damage national security” and obtained a PII from the then Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind to block Tomlinson’s application. Tomlinson argued vociferously that the real reason that MI6 obtained the PII certificate was to cover up their incompetent and dishonest personnel management.
  • Conway v Rimmer [1968]. The House of Lords held that the courts are the final arbiters of whether PII applies or not.
  • D v. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children [1978] AC 171. The NSPCC investigated an allegation that D was mistreating her child. D claimed damages, and sought documents from the NSPCC to identify who had made the allegation. The House of Lords upheld the NSPCC’s claim of PII, since its legitimate role in protecting the welfare of children was clearly in the public interest and would be threatened by disclosure.
  • Air Canada v. Secretary of State for Trade [1983] 2 AC 384. A group of airlines claimed that the British Airports Authority had unlawfully increased landing fees at the instigation of a government minister. The minister disclosed some documents, but claimed PII in respect of others. The House of Lords decided not to inspect the disputed documents, holding that inspection was only required if they were “reasonably likely” to assist or damage a party’s case.
  • R v Chief Constable of West Midlands, ex parte Wiley [1995] 1 AC 274. The House of Lords decided that a minister could discharge his duty by making his own judgment of where the public interest lies, and was not obliged to claim PII in all cases where it may be applicable.
  • The Scott Inquiry found that public interest immunity certificates had been issued which withheld from defence counsel certain documents which would have exonerated the defendants in the Matrix Churchill trial.
  • R v Paul Burrell [2002] – A public-interest immunity certificate allowed the prosecution to apply to the judge for a ruling that disclosure of certain information would be harmful to the public interest and should not be made public.[1]
  • R v Hicks, Nute and Rowe [2002] – A public-interest immunity certificate was presented to the court by the Crown Prosecution Service after about ten minutes of this hearing. A possible reason for the introduction of the PII certificate was that the Duchy of Cornwall refuses to reveal the circumstances under which it transferred several of its properties (including Tintagel Castle) to the care of English Heritage.[2]
  • R v. Yam [2008] (trial of Wang Yam for the murder of Allan Chappelow) – In December 2007 the Crown Prosecution Service indicated it would ask for this trial for murder, burglary and deception to be held “in camera“, making it the first UK murder trial ever heard behind closed doors without access by press or public. A public-interest immunity certificate was sought by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith; it was reported by the Times on 13 December 2007 that the grounds were “on the basis of protecting national security interests and to protect the identity of informants”. A further order was made under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 prohibiting the press from any speculation as to the reasons for parts of the trial being held in private. In the Court of Appeal on 28 January, the “gagging order” was upheld, with the Lord Chief Justice insisting that a fair trial would be possible even if some or all of it is held “in camera”.[3][4]
  • R (Mohamed) v Foreign Secretary [Feb 2010]

European Convention on Human Rights

Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to a fair trial; an “implied” right stemming from this is that of “equality of arms” – the idea that hearings should be adversarial and both parties should have access to the same evidence and witnesses. The European Court of Human Rights has held that Article 6 (especially the “implied” rights) is not an absolute right and that measures restricting the rights of the defence so as to safeguard an important public interest are lawful if “strictly necessary”.[5]

It is of note that fewer PII certificates have been issued in recent years. For example, MI6 have not succeeded in obtaining a PII certificate since the 1995 Tomlinson case, and have thus been subject to court scrutiny for investigations such as the inquest into the death of the Princess of Wales, and allegations that their officers partook in torture.

See also

March 1st 2024

46 Years Ago, a Rare Alignment of Our Planets Allowed For An Iconic Space Mission

With Voyager 1 on the fritz, it’s a great time to look back at the 46-year space mission’s origin story.

byKiona Smith

Feb. 26, 2024

The summer of 1977 was a great time to be a space nerd. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was a summer blockbuster. NASA was testing its futuristic Space Shuttle in the Mojave Desert. And, on August 2 and September 5, Voyager 2 and 1, respectfully, blasted off from Florida on their way to tour the enigmatic giant worlds of the outer solar system. The summer of 1977 changed our view of outer space forever.

The twin Voyagers carried the same array of instruments — spectrometers, cosmic ray detectors, and cameras — to tell scientists on Earth about distant worlds; they also carried matching “Golden Records” with recordings of sounds, music, and voices to tell distant worlds about life on Earth.

Altogether, each Voyager carried slightly less computing power than a modern smartphone. By today’s standards, they’re bare-bones machines, and in some senses, their electronics were outmoded even by the time they launched. But sometimes simplicity works: the Voyagers have outlived many of their original designers. And it’s hard to imagine not knowing the things Voyagers 1 and 2 revealed about the outer reaches of our Solar System: that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a gargantuan hurricane, that Europa’s ice is cracked because of tides churning beneath it, that Io is volcanically active on a terrifying scale, or that Titan has hydrocarbon seas and rivers beneath its methane smog.

Thanks to the Voyagers, NASA knew it was worth launching the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn.

“I remember seeing the image of the moon Io for the first time and thinking that the Caltech students had engineered a brilliant stunt — they must have substituted a picture of a poorly made pizza for the picture of Io!” recalls Voyager program co-investigator Alan Cummings in a post for NASA. “All that orange and black on Io changed our thinking about the moons in the Solar System. I think most of us thought they would all look more or less like our own Moon. But, wow, how wrong was that!”

image of the edge of a planet in orange, with blue volcanic plumes, on a black background
This image from one of the Voyager spacecraft is one of the first glimpses of Io’s erupting volcanoes.NASA

Two Long One-Way Trips

Voyager 1 swept past Jupiter in 1979, using the planet’s tremendous gravity to power a slingshot outward toward Saturn and its haze-shrouded moon Titan (mission planners had to choose between a flyby of Titan or Pluto, and they chose Titan). From there, the tug of Saturn’s gravity “bent the spacecraft’s path inexorably northward out of the ecliptic plane.” Voyager 1 was on its way out of the Solar System.

Voyager 2 also flew past Jupiter for a gravity assist in 1979, then past Saturn in 1980, but its path also carried it past the Solar System’s two most distant worlds, “ice giants” Uranus and Neptune. To this day, Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft we’ve sent to either of the ice giants.

“The planet Uranus turned out to be a fuzzy blue tennis ball, with an atmosphere not at all as exciting as Jupiter or Saturn,” recalls Suzanne Dodd, now the Voyager program manager, in a post for NASA. “So initially, it felt a little disappointing, but then there was the moon Miranda. That was shocking – a jumble of different geologies on the same body. It was the jewel of the encounter.”

After flying past Neptune in 1989, Voyager 2 carried on its own way out of the Solar System, curving south (relative to Earth’s poles) while its sister headed north.

grayscale mosaic images of planets
Voyager 1 captured this mosaic portrait of 6 of the Solar System’s 8 planets (and the Sun) from above the plane of the planets’ orbits, 4 billion miles from home.NASA

How The Planets Aligned

The trips were only possible because of a rare alignment of the planets. Our Solar System’s massive outermost worlds lumber slowly along wide, long orbits: Jupiter takes about 12 years to make a lap around the Sun, while Uranus takes 84; Neptune orbits the Sun in such a wide circle that its orbit takes a staggering 165 years to complete. But once every 175 years, the planets happen to pass the same point in their orbits at the same time, so that from Earth’s viewpoint they all line up in a roughly straight line.

Aerospace engineer Gary Flandro, working in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, realized that such an alignment was due to happen in the late 1970s and that NASA could take advantage of it to explore the outer Solar System. The outer planets’ rare alignment meant that a spacecraft could reach all four of them on a single curving trajectory, using each planet’s gravity to get a speed boost and help set the course for the next world. Each spacecraft could save fuel and reach its destinations in a fraction of the time.

Based on Flandro’s calculations, the original version of Voyager would have been a fleet of four spacecraft, dispatched in pairs to the outer worlds: two to Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto, and two more to Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. But the price tag for that pair of missions would have been about $1 billion at the time (equivalent to a little over $5 billion today), and NASA’s planetary science missions were competing for funding against the newly-approved Space Shuttle program — part of a longstanding budget rivalry between crewed spaceflight and planetary science.

Eventually, the pared-down version involved two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. And NASA chose to overlook poor little Pluto in favor of Saturn’s moon Titan.

The planetary alignment also meant that in 1990, Voyager 1 could point its camera back toward Earth and capture a “family portrait” of our Solar System. That portrait included the now-famous Pale Blue Dot: a color image of Earth from 4 billion miles away, looking tiny and fragile amid the vastness of space.

Candice Handsen, now a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, and then part of the Voyager imaging team, recalls that her colleagues printed out Voyager 1’s wide-angle mosaic of the Solar System, with the more focused color images of individual planets as insets, and hung them along a wall in the Von Karman Auditorium at JPL.

“Jurrie [Van der Woude] said that he had to replace the picture of Earth rather often — people always wanted to touch it,” writes Handsen.Learn Something New Every Day

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An astronaut flies above the Earth. The astronaut is at a great distance from the viewer, and no cab...


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40 Years Ago, NASA Astronauts Captured This Iconic Space Photo

Here’s the history behind an incredible NASA photo.

byDoris Elín Urrutia

Updated: Feb. 20, 2024

Originally Published: Feb. 8, 2024

An astronaut flies above the Earth. The astronaut is at a great distance from the viewer, and no cab...


Wednesday marked the 40th anniversary of a remarkable space photo: a free-floating astronaut sailing above Earth, seemingly alone.

The Sun was striking directly onto NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless at the time of the photo, prompting him to pull down his helmet visor. That gave the astronaut armor a universal appeal: With no apparent face, anyone could pretend they were in the suit, McCandless once said. “My anonymity means people can imagine themselves doing the same thing.”

In this shot, McCandless is making history. As CAPCOM, or capsule communicator on the Apollo 11 mission, he was in charge of transmitting voice messages to the original Moonwalkers. Then, on February 7, 1984, he debuted a new technology that would carry him away from the safety of his spacecraft, putting him adrift and untethered.

An astronaut flies above the Earth. The astronaut is at a great distance from the viewer, and no cab...
NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless debuts the hand-controlled MMU backpack on February 7, 1984.NASA

The moment is preserved in this striking photo from fellow NASA astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson. He snapped this image with a Hasselblad camera from the crew cabin of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Using the skills he’d learned about placing Earth’s horizon at the bottom of the frame, he tilted the camera to match Challenger’s 28.5-degree inclination in orbit. The artistic effort paid off.

The epic shot shows McCandless becoming the first person to fire the MMU, or Manned Maneuvering Unit, a hand-operated jetpack that allowed astronauts to fly freely in space.

The MMU released gaseous nitrogen propellant via a series of 24 thrusters and three gyros, all while the astronaut wearing it could control their navigation.

There were no lifelines connecting it to Challenger. The daunting flight inspired McCandless to quote his Apollo 11 colleague Neil Armstrong. “It may have been one small step for Neil,” McCandless proclaimed about the task, “but it’s a heck of a big leap for me.”

An astronaut flies in space, tilted with the head pointing to the top right. Earth's curved horizon ...
In this photo, astronaut Bruce McCandless is a few meters away from the cabin of the Space Shuttle Challenger.NASA

The MMU was made up mostly of aluminum, and on Earth, it would weigh about 340 lbs. But the hefty backpack wasn’t a burden for McCandless, thanks to the weightlessness of the microgravity environment of low-Earth orbit.

MMU went on top of the space suit. The outfit was a life-support system that regulated the astronaut’s temperature in space, and included a pressure garment that could act like a bulletproof vest, to protect the astronauts from micrometeoroid strikes.

NASA astronauts used MMU onboard three Space Shuttle flights: on mission STS-41B (McCandless’s historic jaunt), on Challenger’s STS-41C mission, and on the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-51A — all in 1984.

This article was originally published on Feb. 8, 2024

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February 18th 2024

Sound Familiar ?

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The European Commission is pushing for “solidarity” despite the fact that not only Eastern European farmers but also Western European farmers are now facing serious competitive disadvantages due to the influx of poor-quality food from Ukraine. Read more…
 Read more…
“It is a real pact with the devil that will lead to the suicide of Europe.“ Read more…
He then turned to the people on the train and demanded they shout, “Heil Hitler.” Read more…

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February 13th 2024

Our Quest for Freedom: Yearning

winter oak February 5 by Paul Cudenec[This is from my new book Our Quest for Freedom and other essays]We have seen that there is a fundamental dislocation here, a deep gulf between the reality of contemporary society and the way in which we are meant to live.In so many ways, the modern system is the exact opposite of what we really crave. It is the inversion of healthy and natural life.It disempowers us, on every level, stifles and stunts us, forces us to repress our deepest feelings, intuitions and desires in order to fit into its gridwork of conformity and obedience.It is the cage in which we are kept, it is the shackles with which we are bound, it is the gag that silences us.There are many who lack the vitality and integrity to resist this and resign themselves to their incarceration.But we are also many who refuse to be defeated. We hold on to our vision of something else outside of this grey gulag and refuse to let go.A tension therefore emerges between the real circumstances in which we find ourselves and the place where we desire to be.This tension – between what is and what could be – is our yearning.This word nicely brings together the two ways in which we remember the archetype of authentic living which we carry within us.As well as meaning a nostalgic, even melancholic, longing for something in the past, it also indicates a strong desire to do something in the future.It is said to originate from the indo-european root word meaning ‘gut’ (along with ‘hernia’, for instance) and thus speaks of our gut feeling, our gut instinct, a voice that calls to us from our physical bodily being.It provides us with a powerful internal motor to move on from our realising and remembering and to set off on the quest to reclaim our freedom.[Audio version]Our Quest for Freedom and other essays can be downloaded for free here or purchased here.

January 26th 2024


Japan recently became the fifth nation to successfully complete a soft landing on the moon’s surface, joining a select few countries — the U.S., Russia, China and India — in accomplishing this feat. But moon landings are likely to become more common over the next few years. Globally, more than 100 lunar missions, both by private companies and by governments, are expected to take place by 2030, according to the European Space Agency.

So why are all these countries eager to get back to the moon?

“The moon is a proving ground,” said Michelle Hanlon, executive director at the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi. “Humanity needs to get to the moon in order to learn how to live in space, in order to learn how to utilize the resources of space. And that is really the stepping stone to all of the vast riches in the universe.”

Some of the riches that these countries and companies seek include rare-earth metals and the isotope helium-3, which, while rare on Earth, is abundant on the moon and can theoretically be used to power nuclear fusion reactors. 

“We haven’t figured out quite how to do it yet. There’s a lot of theories about it. But, once we figure that out, the helium-3 on the moon could seriously power the Earth, the entire Earth, for centuries,” Hanlon said.

And then there is the presence of another vital natural resource that countries are after: water. Aside from being crucial for human survival, water can be used to make rocket fuel, meaning the moon could one day become a refueling station for rockets and a springboard for deeper space exploration. 

“Whoever gets to establish a significant lunar presence is making a statement about their political system, about their economic system, about who is ahead in the geopolitical competition,” said Dean Cheng, senior advisor for the China program at the United States Institute of Peace. “But a second, newer part to this is the belief that there are significant resources on the moon that are useful to Earth, or useful for future space flight.”

To find out more about the new moon race and why the U.S. and China are currently the leaders, watch the

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Our Quest for Freedom and other essays

winter oak Jan 22 by Paul CudenecWhen one constantly decries the state of the modern world and calls for the founding of a free and healthy organic society, it is inevitable that readers are going to ask how exactly this might happen.The answer is a complex one and, in many ways, has been the subject of everything I have ever written.But in the opening essay of my new 2024 book Our Quest for Freedom, I present my thinking on the issue in the space of a mere 35 pages.In his preface to the work, W.D. James focuses on one key aspect of my writing when he says: “The human spirit, and the larger cosmic spirit of which it forms a part or in which it participates, has largely been absent in serious recent discourse. Cudenec is helping to correct that omission.”Cudenec presents the ‘quest’ in heroic and spiritual terms. It is the quest for the ‘grail’; that being the power to become what we are meant to be. That will take action. Not just utilitarian, calculating action. Action infused with spirit. In the concluding dialogue he calls for a ‘political-spiritual revolt’.”In the title essay he teaches: ‘Your purpose is to play your part in the uprising against evil’. Against what he also calls ‘the death-entity’. In doing such, he accurately recognizes the nature of our situation. It is not merely against oligarchs and tyrants that we struggle but against what we should properly term dark spiritual forces.”Cudenec, like a prophet, calls for us to become spirit rebels. In doing such, he situates himself in the radical tradition of Marguerite Porete, Thomas Müntzer, and Gerrard Winstanley. The return of the (human) spirit is what the times are calling for”.In the new piece, I suggest that we might reach a free future by means of a number of interrelated stages: Realising; Remembering; Yearning; Exposing; Explaining; Proposing; Meaning; Motivating; Becoming; Inspiring; Preparing; Boycotting; Building and Defending.There are hints at the answers I propose there in the other essays featured in this compilation, of course.In 1984/2024 – The Hidden Hope in Orwell’s Warning, I write, for instance: “It’s up to us to draw inspiration from our ancestral memory of natural order, to see through the system’s lies, to band together in small groups and form knots of resistance that will keep the tattered flag of freedom flying proudly in the years to come.“We have to do so without any hope that victory will necessarily be achieved in our lifetimes, but must simply aim to do all that is needed in order that, in Orwell’s words, ‘the next generation can carry on where we leave off’”.And I conclude Wisdom Natural and Divine by stating: “This deliberate and self-interested cancelling of age-old knowing and understanding, and of the deep sense of morality innate to our species, has to be ended and then reversed.“Humankind needs to again pay heed to the voices of the birds, the animals and the green trees of Paradise; to return home to nature; to become once more a simple hair in the locks of our divine and infinitely wise Friend”.I also spell out my personal vision quite clearly in Resisting Global Tyranny: Nationalism, Religion and the Golden Chain of Tradition: “Free peoples, close to nature, living simply, peacefully, honestly and humbly; cherishing their own specific traditions and cultures and yet understanding the bigger picture of their belonging to greater human, natural and cosmic wholes – this is the world that I would like the children of tomorrow to inherit”.In the next essay, A Yearning With No Name, I muse on the difficulty of trying to set out a philosophical position using the language of a system that has declared that this particular political position does not even exist!I add: “The forbidden point of view that the system tries so hard to hide is, at its core, nothing less than common sense, the natural inclination of humankind”.Long-term optimism is voiced in A Matter of Life and Death, in which I identify “a long-awaited turning of the tide which will eventually see the energy of life and goodness restored to its rightful place at the centre of human existence”.I predict: “Natural order – fresh, green and vital – will grow up in the ruins of the death-system, leaving humankind free to fulfil its true potential”.But my short-term concerns about the authenticity of certain current strands of the so-called “resistance” are reflected by the question When Will the Real Opposition Emerge?I launch a theme which I continue through subsequent essays when I state: “The system is inherently industrialist and so if we want to be rid of the system we have to be rid of industrialism”.A necessary step in Seizing a Free Future, I go on to argue in the next piece, is to see through “the official narrative of industrialism as real progress and of ‘development’ as both desirable and necessary”.One, in particular, of the Seven Reasons Why I Am an Anti-Industrialist deserves, I think, broader consideration in the context of a fundamental re-evaluation of the meaning and value of so-called “development”, sustainable or otherwise.I write: “When governments are persuaded to borrow money for ‘badly-needed’ industrial infrastructure, or modernisation, for Great Leaps Forward and Five Year Plans, the only way they are ever going to keep paying the interest on the debt is if there is further economic ‘growth’ financed by further loans from the same sources.“These financiers also happen to own the materials required for all this industrial development, for which they are paid with the money they have lent, at interest, to the government in question. Industrialism is the physical manifestation of usury, the way in which the system robs as well as kills”.Within the framing of the criminocracy, it simply is not possible to plausibly oppose industrialism and development.The pro-industrialist, pro-development “opposition” on its right flank is thus mirrored by a pro-industrialist, pro-development “opposition” on its left.In Marxist Doublethink and the Disabling of Resistance, I remark that Marxism, for all its useful analysis, ultimately represents an ideological dead end.“It describes and criticises the current system, but does not provide us with a way out of it”.The next piece is a satirical rendition of the points I was making in the previous essays, with an imaginary industrialist jailer asking Prisoner 1141183891920: “How do you think you could ever cope outside this prison, if indeed an outside even existed? Do you think food grows on trees? Or that drinking water just spurts out of the ground? Fool!”Seeing The Whole Truth With a Three-Dimensional Outlook urges the replacement of binary vision in the political dimension with an approach that recognises binary opposites only in terms of the essential qualitative notions by which we can judge the world around us.I conclude: “Once armed with this holistic perspective, we will quickly see where this modern world is situated on the scale of quality and can begin to take steps to put things right”.Turning Our Backs on the Left-Right Racket is a look at the ideas of French political philosopher Jacques Camatte, written for the Organic Radicals website.Once a Marxist, Camatte has for many decades been a staunch critic of the ideology, warning that it is, in fact, “a theory of development”, aiming for a mere “transition” into “a new mode of production where productive forces blossom”.I very much agree with him that “Communism was affirmed in opposition to bourgeois society, but not in opposition to capital”.Finally, Traditionalism, Anarchism and the Urgent Need for Righteous Revolt: A Dialogue, is an in-depth conversation that I enjoyed with W.D. James, himself a former Marxist, in fact.Here I again stress the utter futility of any form of “resistance” or “opposition” that does not challenge the system, its structures and its thinking to the very core.[Audio version]Our Quest for Freedom and other essays can be downloaded for free here or purchased here.

January 22nd 2024

How many MORE lovers did ‘suicide’ police chief have?

13 April 2012

The widow of Greater Manchester police chief Michael Todd returned to the family home yesterday for the first time since his body was found on Mount Snowdon on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Todd’s private life is to be investigated in order to make sure it had no impact on his professional performance.

Greater Manchester Police have asked that colleagues from the West Midlands look into Mr Todd’s personal life to ensure it had no impact on his duties as chief constable, it was announced today.

A statement from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said that North Wales Police were investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Todd’s apparent suicide, but West Midlands Police had been called in following the revelations about his personal conduct.

It read: “An independent rigorous inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Michael Todd’s tragic death is currently being handled on behalf of the coroner by North Wales Police.

HM Inspectorate are in liaison with that constabulary and are monitoring developments closely.

“Given the circumstances, an examination of the circumstances will take place to ensure that nothing in the conduct of Mr Todd’s personal life had adversely impacted on the professional discharge of his duties as chief constable.”

A Manchester police source revealed the decision to investigate Mr Todd’s private life had been taken to ensure that everything was done above board.

The source said: “We decided to say, ‘Let’s do this properly, and lets make sure everything is being done properly’.”

It recently emerged Mr Todd had sent “absolutely devastating” text messages to his mistress Angie Robinson and an unnamed policewoman shortly before he went missing.

It is understood the search for the father-of-three was launched after they raised the alarm. He was found on the mountain with a bottle of gin. It is not clear whether he committed suicide or was drunk and stumbled during a storm.

A senior police source said: “It appears Mr Todd sent just two texts from Snowdon – one to Angie Robinson and one to a female officer in the Met.

“The content of these texts has been described to me as ‘absolutely devastating’ and was distressing enough to lead both recipients to immediately telephone Greater Manchester Police.”

Mr Todd’s wife Carolyn, 47, was informed last Thursday that her husband – who has been linked to a number of women – was having an affair with 50-year-old Mrs Robinson, chief executive of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

Here, a Mail investigation unravels Mr Todd’s complicated private life.

Loving tribute: Mr Todd’s widow Carolyn, yesterday

There would seem to have been no more fitting tribute to Michael Todd than the photograph which appeared in his local paper this week.

It showed him surrounded by his colleagues, many of them from the rank and file, and was accompanied by the headline: “Chief constable who led from the front”.

He was, to use that old cliche, the “Copper’s Copper”, and never more so, his many admirers would argue, than on the occasion of this picture. It was taken in 2004.

Mr Todd had just successfully lobbied the Government for extra funds to put more bobbies on the beat in Manchester.

Now, for the first time, the manpower of his force had reached 8,000 (the following year, burglaries were down 41 per cent, robberies by 32 per cent, and car crime by a quarter).

Among those taking part in the lineup to publicise the successful recruitment drive was the ‘8,000th’ officer to join the force.

Mr Todd is seen standing beside Laura Nagulapalli, warmly shaking her hand.

“From this moment on you will be training to perform a crucial role, fighting crime and protecting people,” he told her. It didn’t turn out quite that way.

Less than six months on, Laura Nagulapalli was arrested and subsequently convicted of fraud.

Shortly before joining the police, it emerged, she had obtained more than £1,000 from an insurance company – to cover the cost of her mortgage payments – by falsely claiming she was unemployed.

In fact, she was working at a local beauty salon.

Scroll down for more…

Loving wife: Mrs Todd said she and her husband were still in love

Michael Todd is said to have made advances towards Laura Nagulapalli, a former model

Behind this story, however, was an even more potentially embarrassing one for Greater Manchester police and their charismatic Chief Constable.

Only now, in the wake of his death on Tuesday close to the summit of galelashed Snowdon, is it finally emerging – along with other details of his complicated private life.

Miss Nagulapalli, a former model and air stewardess in her late 30s, and Michael Todd, a married father of three, had, it is alleged, started seeing each other socially after they were officially introduced, and had enjoyed candlelit dinners together.

Moreover, their relationship – according to a senior police source – came under scrutiny during an internal inquiry into Miss Nagulapalli when the fraud allegations first came to light.

She insisted that she never had an affair with Michael Todd. Nevertheless, the inquiry resulted in the brilliant, and almost universally popular chief constable – who many tipped to one day lead Scotland Yard – being dragged into a scandal.

Under different circumstances, the story might have gone away. Instead, it has been given fresh impetus by other revelations which surfaced this week.

Mr Todd’s affair with prominent Manchester businesswoman Angie Robinson has already been exposed.

But there were, by all accounts, many more women. One former lover, it is alleged, is a serving policewoman from Hertfordshire who is now married to a Harrow schoolmaster.

Another is said to be a national newspaper journalist.

What a tragedy that Michael Todd’s glittering 30-year career and towering achievements have been overshadowed by such matters.

“He was flirtatious, yes, even with his secretaries, but not sleazy or threatening,” said one colleague.

“To be fair, it was not always him doing the chasing. Women were drawn to him and he often found it hard to resist.”

Which is perhaps why his extramarital exploits, which reportedly resulted in him being “tailed” by a private detective, remained secret for so long.

His weakness, if we may call it that, for other women contrasted dramatically with the discipline he brought to his job.

Scroll down for more…

Superman: Michael Todd was renowned for having a way with the ladies

Not for nothing did Mr Todd, who was 50, have a Superman mug on his desk. He may have been sending himself up, but there was more than a little truth to the joke.

In a working day which stretched from 6.45am to “whenever”, he still found the odd hour to maintain the supreme fitness he had in the days when he turned out for Essex police’s rugby and football teams.

Superintendent Julia Wortley is said to have had a relationship with Todd in the past

He had a crunching handshake and lantern jaw.

Who else but Todd would have volunteered to be zapped with a high-voltage Taser gun to prove his confidence in its safety?

He made a point of walking the beat himself for a few hours every month, and had a habit of turning up at police stations unannounced.

He once manned an anti-terrorist roadblock in Oldham and on a home security drive in Bolton, he insisted on fitting door and window locks for one resident himself.

Of course, it was all good PR. But behind his high-profile public image was a bold policing vision.

One of his first moves after becoming chief constable of Greater Manchester Police in 2002 was to get 200 officers off traffic duties and into the battle against street crime.

Perhaps the real victims of Michael Todd’s all-consuming approach to policing turned out to be his family: it’s hard not to see it that way in the light of his death this week, and the subsequent focus on his private life.

While he worked in Manchester, where he lived alone during the week, his wife Carolyn, their twins sons aged 13 and 16-year-old daughter stayed in their home in Halam, Nottinghamshire.

They had remained in that area, where Mr Todd was assistant chief constable from 1995 to 1998, even though he subsequently joined the Metropolitan Police before finally transferring to Manchester.

Both in London, and later in Manchester, Mr Todd retained his own flat.

“Mike was living the life of a single man,” said an officer who worked with him in Manchester. “He rarely brought Carolyn to any public functions.”

It had been this way for most of the past decade. By the time he joined the Met, his marriage was in trouble, and he and Carolyn separated temporarily.

It was during this period that he became close to a senior officer in the Complaints Investigation Bureau (CIB), the department responsible for investigating police officers.

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Lady in red: Angie Robinson was cheating on her husband with the police chief

Julia Wortley, a detective chief inspector, was based at Colindale police station in North-West London. Mr Todd’s office was on the same floor. The two were often spotted together in the gym situated along the same corridor.

“I saw them flirting,” said a contemporary who worked at Colindale in the late Nineties.

“They were laughing and joking, touching each other’s arms, and flicking water at each other from their plastic bottles. I never heard anyone say a bad word about Michael Todd, but Julia was not popular with everyone.”

Perhaps this is not surprising considering her job was to investigate fellow officers.

Her methods were described as “rigorous” and Miss Wortley, 43, was the subject of malicious canteen gossip. Their relationship is understood to have continued until she joined Hertfordshire police as a superintendent in 2003.

Last year, she married Andrew McGregor, 49, a classics teacher and house master at Harrow School. The couple declined to comment about Mr Todd when contacted yesterday.

This week Mr Todd was also linked with another young woman, journalist Andrea Perry.

Until a few months ago she was a crime reporter on a Sunday newspaper and is said to have interviewed Mr Todd shortly before he left the Met six years ago.

Yesterday, Miss Perry refused to answer her door at her rented flat in South London.

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Michael Todd and his wife Carolyn on their wedding day

Perhaps Todd hoped he could leave behind the rumours of infidelities when he left London in 2002. He was the polar opposite of his rather grey predecessor in Manchester, Sir David Wilmot.

On one occasion, Todd wrestled an offender to the ground on the streets of the city; he was a snappy dresser and embraced the media enthusiastically.

“Mike Todd had charm and he was very flirtatious. He also had immense power and standing but he knew how to put women at their ease and that was part of the attraction,” said a senior colleague.

“Obviously he attended many social occasions in an official capacity and met plenty of highly-powered and motivated women, and many were attracted to him.”

It was at one such function that he became acquainted with Laura Nagulapalli. Some sources claim he invited Miss Nagulapalli out for dinner that evening.

A chief constable could not have chosen a more unsuitable companion. Apart from her criminal past, she had what can best be described as a colourful life.

Born in Malaysia, she had worked as a model, as sales manager for an internet company and as an air hostess.

At one time or another, she spent time living in the Middle East and the Far East. Along the way she’d had a daughter, now aged 12, by a former husband.

At the time of her arrest over the insurance fraud in 2004, she was living in a terraced house on the outskirts of Chorley, Lancashire, with a married police inspector.

John Robinson: The husband of Angie Robinson is thought to have hired a private detective

Having been convicted at Preston Crown Court, she was sentenced to 200 hours’ community service and ordered to pay more than £2,000 in costs and compensation.

Miss Nagulapalli, who has moved to Australia, still rents out her home here. Now living in Brisbane, she insisted this week: “The suggestion there was an affair between us [her and Mike Todd] is absolute rubbish.”

By 2005, a new lover had entered the life of Michael Todd. Angie Robinson, 50, was the first female chief executive of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

They met at a business lunch and once more, it seems, Mr Todd’s domestic situation in Manchester afforded him the opportunity to begin an affair.

But was the married mother-of-two the only “girlfriend” he was seeing? It seems not, according to a senior police source, who describes himself as “a close friend and colleague of Michael Todd for years”.

He says: “Angie Robinson was a regular visitor to Mike’s flat in the evenings and at weekends, but she wasn’t the only other woman in his life.

“But Mike wasn’t the kind of man to brag about it, and wouldn’t be seen out with Angie or anyone else for that matter at public events. He kept that side of his life separate.”

Nevertheless, Mrs Robinson’s husband John, 52, the father of their two grown-up children, did discover his wife’s infidelity. He is said to have hired the services of a private detective agency after becoming suspicious of his wife.

As well as sharing a family home, a converted barn on the outskirts of Congleton, Cheshire, with her husband, Mrs Robinson – like Mike Todd – is understood to have kept a flat in Manchester.

Those close to Michael Todd now suspect it was Mr Robinson’s discovery of his wife’s affair which precipitated this week’s tragedy.

Affair: Michael Todd and businesswoman Angie Robinson

Perhaps Mrs Todd knew about her husband’s flings in the past, but last Thursday, Mr Robinson, who has cancer, allegedly drove 70 miles to knock on the door of the Todd family home near Newark, Nottinghamshire, to tell Mrs Todd about her husband’s relationship with his wife.

So what was the fallout of the cuckolded Mr Robinson’s visit? Did it precipitate an ugly scene between Mr and Mrs Todd over the weekend?

Did Mr Robinson himself confront Todd? We may never know, but what is clear is that just four days later, Michael Todd had gone missing.

Having parked his Range Rover in the village at the foot of Snowdon, he struggled to within 300 metres of the summit. When his body was found on Tuesday, he was over the legal drink-drive limit – a bottle of spirits at his side.

Whatever may have gone on between him and his wife in the final days before his death, Carolyn Todd remains loving and dedicated.

As she revealed in her moving tribute to her husband in yesterday’s Mail, they had recently returned from a family holiday in Jamaica.

“I loved Michael very much and the last time I spoke to him he told me he loved me, too. We have been married for 27 years and eight months.

“The whole family is struggling to come to terms with his death.”

Many others have been left bereft by Michael Todd’s death. A poster of Manchester’s most distinguished officer has been put up at the entrance to the city’s police HQ.

It says: Chief Constable Michael Todd 1957 – 2008.

Inside, among the floral tributes in the foyer, is a card which reads: “Boss – To serve and protect. Be Proud. You did both.”

That is how his officers and the people of Manchester will choose to remember him.

Source ‘The Standard.’

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1750 – 1788


321795, 227712


Detached three-bay two-storey over basement country house, extant 1788, on a cruciform plan centred on single-bay full-height breakfront with (single-storey) prostyle distyle Corinthian portico to ground floor; bow-ended three- or five-bay full-height rear (east) elevation centred on single-bay full-height breakfront. “Improved”, 1805, producing present composition. Sold, 1839. Occupied, 1901. Sold, 1908. Occupied, 1911. Sold, 1946. Resold, 1984. Renovated, 1985-6, to accommodate continued alternative use. Flat topped hipped slate roof behind parapet; bow-ended hipped slate roof behind parapet (east), terracotta ridge tiles, paired rendered central chimney stacks having cut-granite “Cavetto” stringcourses below capping supporting terracotta or yellow terracotta pots, rooflights to front (west) pitch, and concealed rainwater goods with replacement uPVC hoppers and downpipes. Replacement rendered, ruled and lined walls on cut-granite chamfered cushion course on rendered, ruled and lined base with cut-granite stringcourse supporting parapet having cut-granite coping. Hipped segmental-headed central door opening behind (single-storey) prostyle distyle Corinthian portico approached by flight of three cut-granite steps with paired columns on pedestals having responsive pilasters supporting “Cyma Recta”- or “Cyma Reversa”-detailed cornice on blind frieze on entablature below parapet, and concealed dressings framing replacement glazed timber panelled double doors having one-over-one timber sash sidelights without horns below fanlight. Square-headed window openings with cut-granite sills, and concealed dressings framing replacement uPVC casement windows replacing six-over-six (ground floor) or three-over-three (first floor) timber sash windows. Square-headed window openings to rear (east) elevation centred on square-headed window openings originally in tripartite arrangement (breakfront) with cut-granite sills, and concealed dressings framing replacement uPVC casement windows replacing four-over-eight (basement), nine-over-six (ground floor) or three-over-six (first floor) timber sash windows centred on four-over-eight (basement), nine-over-six (ground floor) or three-over-six (top floor) timber sash windows having two-over-four (basement), three-over-two (ground floor) or one-over-two (first floor) sidelights. Interior including (ground floor): central hall on an oval plan retaining carved timber surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors centred on carved timber surround to door opening framing timber panelled door having overlight, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling on “bas-relief” plasterwork frieze; and reception room (east) retaining decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling. Set in relandscaped grounds.


A country house erected by Ralph Ward (d. 1788), Surveyor General of Ordnance in Ireland (appointed 1762), representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Dublin with the architectural value of the composition, one ‘possibly designed under the influence of James Gandon [1742-1823]’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 226), confirmed by such attributes as the compact plan form centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with the principal “apartments” or reception rooms defined by Sir Richard Morrison (1767-1849)-esque curvilinear bows (ibid., 226); and the monolithic parapeted roofline: meanwhile, aspects of the composition illustrate the continued development or “improvement” of the country house in the early nineteenth century (Pearson 1998, 233). Having been reasonably well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior showing ‘an attractive sequence of oval entrance halls [and] bow-ended sitting rooms’ (ibid., 233): however, the introduction of replacement fittings to the openings has not had a beneficial impact on the character or integrity of a country house having historic connections with Timothy Dyton (d. 1796), proprietor of “The Dublin Gazette” (The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle II 1796, 628); John Armit (d. 1835), Secretary of the Board of Ordnance (appointed 1789); the Close family including Henry Samuel Close (d. 1867), ‘Banker late of Henry-street Dublin and of Newtown-park County Dublin’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1867, 590); and Robert Barry Close (d. 1908), ‘late of Newtown Park Blackrock County Dublin’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1908, 82); John Henry Burton (1862-1940), ‘Practising Barrister at Law [in] England’ (NA 1911); and Senator Edward Augustine McGuire (1901-92).

Comment This post is a personal memoir because my maternal grandfather William Close was from Blackrock County Dublin and the local Close family.

R J Cook

Dogs Bark (Deep Resistance Part 3)

winter oak Jan 19 The latest essay in a six-part series by W.D. James, who teaches philosophy in Kentucky, USA.Hear this dog barkWatch the trees swayKeep the candle burningBoth night and dayMany invadeI take no quarterThis is my landI’ll never surrenderI’m a warriori– John Lydon, Public Image Limited (PiL), WarriorAs we saw in the previous essay, the fundamental distinction for the Cynic is between nature and social custom. Which can you stand on? As the Cynic Jesus put it, it is a foolish person who builds their house on sand instead of rock. To the Cynic, the rock is nature. As Hadot puts it: “The Cynic chose his way of life because he believed that the state of nature (phusis), as seen in the behavior of animals or children, was superior to the conventions (nomos) of civilization.”iiIn this essay, we’ll look at four more ‘spiritual exercises’ that Diogenes practiced. As before, we’ll gather together ‘fragments’ of his teaching under each heading then explore the exercise he was advocating and, from there, move on to deducing practices of resistance we might implement.Philosophical PracticesPractice 3: Sticking Close to NatureWe are not as hardy, free, or accomplished as animals. (8)iiiEverything is of one substance. It is custom, not reason, that sets the temple apart from the house, mutton from human flesh for the table, bread from vegetable, vegetable from meat. (21)Raising sons: teach them poetry, history, and philosophy. Geometry and music are not essential, and can be learned later. Teach them to ride a horse, to shoot a true bow, to master the slingshot and javelin. At the gymnasium they should exercise only so much as gives them good color and a trim body. Teach them to wait upon themselves at home, and to enjoy ordinary food, and to drink water rather than wine. Crop their hair close. No ornaments. Have them wear a thin smock, go barefoot, be silent and never gawk at people in the street. (55)A blush is the color of virtue. (111)The greatest beauty of humankind is frankness. (122)Diogenes thinks animals might have it more right than we do. He probably goes too far here. Human nature is different in some key ways to that of other animals, so we should not seek to live exactly as they do. Nevertheless, that we can learn of nature, her ways, and to an extent find models for human action amongst the other creatures seems like a wholesome notion. He is seeking the fulfillment of nature, which might include aspects not present with animals, but which surely should not fall below the level of animals. If we aren’t succeeding in being free, hardy, and accomplished, we have gone wrong somewhere. In his recommendations regarding the education of the young, he recognizes this. We are intelligent souls, so we need to know about the sacredness of language (poesis really goes beyond language; it covers all forms of ‘making’ in accord with the ways of nature), thought, and our own story. Beyond that, he does not emphasize intellectual development, but there is room for it. Physical culture, within reasonable limits (no body-builders here), is equally important. Further, the young should become physically and morally resilient: valuing function, not ornament, and being accustomed to endure some hardship. The soul and the body, not custom, provide the standard.Further, Diogenes points to an innate basis for virtue and morality. In blushing, our bodies participate in a natural sense of propriety. Really, for Diogenes, body and soul are not distinct. As he says, everything is of one substance. His is a fairly hard metaphysical materialism, but not reductive in the modern way. We should probably think of his view of nature and matter along the lines of Aristotle. There is matter but mixed right in with it is some principle of order and meaning. The function of our speaking is to adhere to this, to be truth tellers, not ad-men, propagandists, spin doctors, flatterers, etc…. Truth is nature manifest in human speech and thought.Practice 4: Subversive PietyCan you believe that Pataikion the thief will fare better in Elysion because of his initiation into the Mysteries than Epameinondas the Pythagorean? (38)A choirmaster pitches the note higher than he knows the choristers can manage. So do I. (60)A good man is a picture of a god. (79)After grace and a prayer for health the banqueters set to and eat themselves into an apoplexy. (103)To a woman who had flopped down before an altar with her butt in the air I remarked in passing that the god was also behind her. (104)Diogenes is often at his best, and his funniest, when taking on religion and piety. There is a genuine, natural piety in his thought and practice. A good person is godlike. Be good; that’s good. He means to ‘aim high’.But often our ‘piety’ is no such thing. Do our religious (or ideological, for that matter) rituals actually make us better? If not, they are not really part of piety. Are they just empty forms? Even worse. Are they just for show? Positively evil.He has no problem offending people (see the next practice for a strong example). However, it’s an educative offense he means to offer. And the educator, presumably, has something genuine to offer. He is not a nihilist and not some sort of adolescent rebel. He’s so strong in his denunciations because he is so serious in his affirmations.Practice 5: Self-SufficiencyIf only I could free myself from hunger as well as from desire. (9)Reason or a halter. (45)For three thousand drachmas you can get a statue, for two coppers a quart of barley. (62)Freedom for Diogenes usually takes the form of self-sufficiency, not political liberty, per se. To be free is to be independent: not dependent or subject to domination. At a basic level, that involves making rational choices consistent with freedom. You will have to undergo a lot more unfreedom (wage-work or whatever) to get a statue that really doesn’t do much for you. Our basic needs can be relatively cheaply met. One thinks here of Henry David Thoreau and the exact accounting he kept of how much ‘life’ he had to give up to meet his needs at Walden Pond (his point being to find the way of life that entailed the least cost, understood as the amount of ‘life’ that must be given up in exchange).At a more abstract level, he teaches, we must live according to our reason (which involves no loss of freedom), or we must be restrained. The restraint might be self-imposed or socially imposed. Individually we might try to arrange our circumstances so that we avoid ‘temptations’. Socially, the state, its laws, and prisons are there.Perhaps the most notorious story about Diogenes involves his scandalous public behavior. It is alluded to in Raphael’s masterpiece, The School of Athens, which portrays the classic philosophers and scientists in complex symbolic relationship to one another. Diogenes (the center of the detail of the image above) is portrayed in royal blue, indicating his self-sovereignty. His posture, and I think the object he is holding, suggest the episode. Other translations of Fragment 9 put it more like “If only I could free myself from hunger as easily as from desire.” Diogenes lives on through the ages as the sage who taught self-reliance by publicly masturbating in the marketplace. Again, Diogenes, and the Cynics, probably go too far. One suspects any would-be students present that day did not forget the lesson, though. The Stoics, to whom we’ll turn in the next essay, felt a more moderate path was open to more people and was more genuinely human, though they saw the Cynics as exemplars, not comptetitors. There was much to learn from the Cynics, but in their asceticism and willingness to offend, they had passed beyond the right measure.Practice 6: SimplicityI learned from the mice how to get along: no rent, no taxes, no grocery bill. (15)When Plato said that if I’d gone to the Sicilian court as I was invited, I wouldn’t have to wash lettuce for a living I replied that if he had washed lettuce for a living he wouldn’t have had to go to the Sicilian court. (27)I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough. (35)We have complicated every simple gift of the gods. (106)Learn the pleasure of despising pleasure. (120)He is also reminiscent of his latter-day disciple, Thoreau, whose admonition was to “simplify, simplify, simplify.” Here we hear him recounting lessons learned from animals and children. Don’t complicate things. Don’t get in unnecessary entanglements. There are natural blessings aplenty; don’t screw them up.Fragment 120 probably offers an insight into the actual personality of Diogenes. The pleasure of despising pleasure. There is a conceitedness here. This is no mere following of the dictates of nature or of reason. There is an aristocratic contempt for the lowly here. A higher pleasure to be gained when one has rejected all the lower pleasures. On the one hand that could be the unvirtuous contempt of the aesthete for the ‘ordinary’ people of the world. I think with Diogenes it is other than that, though, and perhaps a lesson it might be worth learning, though with caution. There is an aristocracy of the spirit that is distinct from worldly hierarchies. Anyone who succeeds in rejecting unnatural and unreasonable social conventions will have joined a group that is small and in some ways set apart. They will also have cultivated a high level of character and be courageous in their opposition to shams.Practices of ResistanceAs with the two spiritual exercises discussed in the previous essay, we will now look at how to develop these four additional exercises into practices of resistance.Stick close to natureTake Nature and reason as guides. Question and test values that the broader culture upholds. Seek to be true to the natural virtue implanted in us. Get in the habit of not doing things that don’t feel right. Avoid conventions that depart from nature. Know what your actual needs are; don’t become a slave to consumerism. Reject ideologies that fly in the face of common sense or violate your own conscience Subversive PietyAvoid conformity to established religions when those have become perverted. Avoid conformity to established ideological substitutes (which are always perverted) such as ‘virtue signaling’. Seek and cultivate actual goodness. Fear becoming bad more than you fear being harmed. “Live in the truth” (Vaclav Havel). Self-SufficiencyWork out your own ideas. Become independent of the legacy or establishment media. Make choices that make it easier to economically meet your needs. Be less dependent on, and subject to, those who can wield economic power over you. Do things for yourself if that is feasible. Cook your own food more often. Grow a bit of food, even if just a container or two on your balcony. Practice self-discipline so you don’t go off the rails without external discipline. Self-reliance is morally admirable. SimplicityIdentify a few core principles that you would stake your life on. Ones that you feel are true in your bones. Not many. But then use them as guides in everything you do. Accept the blessings nature gives us. Practice gratitude. Take time out to actually reflect back over the good things that have come your way that day. Perhaps the beauty of the sunset. This may be a little sappy, but sappiness is not a vice. Be simple in your lifestyle; shelter, food, adornment. Nothing in our media and consumer culture encourages us to be simple or to live simple lives. Resist the encouragement to complication. Take planned breaks from mass/social media. Let the true/real shine through simplicity. Achieving a life lived according to nature and reason is a conquest. It won’t just happen. It will take wisdom and courage. Those who succeed will be, as Johnny says above, warriors.i John Lydon (aka, Johhny Rotten), with his abrasive, iconoclastic, and witty take on things seems to channel the spirit of Diogenes. The self-reference to ‘hear this dog bark’ and probably the reference to the candle burning both day and night seem like pretty direct references to me. A famous story has Diogenes walking through Athens in broad daylight with a lit lamp looking for a human being. In an interview, Lydon commented on this song: “I’m making my case quite clear that this is my land and I’m not gonna surrender it easily. I’m sick of damn big businesses just burning up everything, destroying the food, destroying the sea, polluting the air. You know, I’ve got an actual birthright to these things – I’m damned if I’m gonna surrender it lightly.” Listen here: Public Image Limited P.I.L ‘Warrior’ on Countdown Revolution 1989 – YouTubeUnfortunately, the 80s seem to have been the bottom of the fashion curve, even for great bands.ii Pierre Hadot, What is Ancient Philosophy?, translated by Michael Chase, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002 (original French edition, 1995), p. 110.iii All quotes of Diogenes’ Fragments come from Guy Davenport, Herakleitos and Diogenes, Grey Fox Press, 1979. I will note the fragment being quoted parenthetically.W.D. James’s essays on Egalitarian Anti-Modernism have now been brought together in a 118-page pdf booklet, which is available to download for free here. Our complete collection of free books can be found here.
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January 15th 2024

you should be writing Jan. 10, 2024

How to Write a Book Right Now

By Choire Sicha, an editor at New York who also writes about the life of the city

This conversation first appeared in Dinner Party, our daily newsletter about the silliest and most important stuff.

Photo: Bryan Tarnowski/Bryan Tarnowski

Every time I turn around, Jami Attenberg has published another novel or memoir. But I do not begrudge her this, because I know how she does it. For years, Jami has enlisted conspirators in writing a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Today, she’s out with another book (see what I mean?) about writing books, featuring advice from dozens of writers. The book is called 1000 Words. She’s doing events with contributors in New Orleans, Brooklyn, D.C., and Philly this week and may be appearing near you soon. We chatted the other day before she left her home in New Orleans for the tour.

What I really liked about reading this book was — well, my writing advice is like yours. You have to write a lot. Sure, be nice to yourself, but go. But then other people had other kinds of advice. J. Courtney Sullivan’s thing was so brilliant. She had a really young kid. She didn’t have child care. And so every night she would send herself an email with the same subject line. And when she came back later, she called these emails her bread crumbs waiting for her to come and write them through. That’s a brilliant technique. 
I could write this book because these people all told me I could.

You said recently you’ve been thinking a lot about aging, as one does at our age. Are you leaving yourself bread crumbs about aging?
I think so. I started this other little newsletter about it. It has to do with aging as a woman, menopause, the culture. It’s very small, personal stuff, building a little community out of it. But it’s not the big thing that I do — well! I always say it’s not the thing that I do and then it’ll always become something more. I think I’m using this thinking for a character. If you’ve been writing professionally for a long time, nothing you do is a waste of time. Do you know what I mean?

It’s the same thing as the vibe of the book. It’s not a waste of time. People worry too much about that. Why don’t you be playful? Why don’t you enjoy what you’re doing and not worry, not compare yourself to other people or say, Oh, I’m not this. I’m not that. Just sit down and try it.

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All of our lives show that if you follow interests, they take you somewhere worthwhile. This book is really interesting about — this is really ’90s — but about declaring, “Well, I’m an artist. I’m living an artist’s life. Where I live and how I live reflect these choices.” It’s refreshing to hear.
I was thinking about the very first time I met you, I think you had a party for bloggers? It was on the Lower East Side, and maybe it was even that bar that looked like an airplane. [Idlewild, on Houston Street, opened in 1998 and there is not a single picture of it online that I can find! The staff wore “stewardess outfits”!]

That is so funny. Co-hosted by writer and writing teacher Blaise Allysen Kearsley, I believe.
We didn’t really know what blogging meant or if it would do anything for us or if it would take us anywhere. We were like, “This seems kind of interesting and cool.” It felt experimental. Your imagination never really steers you wrong. Your curiosity doesn’t steer you wrong.

Had you published your first book yet?
No, I just had a blog. And I was making zines. I miss it. I really do. I like having things you can touch, because so much of what we do is ephemeral on the internet. I still have them. They’re like precious little objects to me. And they don’t take two years, too.

Books are so long, and that’s what stops so many of us, or traps so many of us. 
Now that I’ve crossed over the 50 threshold. I’m really seeing, Okay, this is the second half of my life. I figured out what I like to do, but there’s more to learn, more to try. I just want to keep doing as much cool stuff as I can for the rest of my time.

I was thinking about bad habits — habits that have stayed too long at the fair. That’s drinking, eating, smoking. When you quit smoking, were you afraid that you would never write again? 
Oh, I did love smoking. It was definitely how I took a break. If I write a couple hundred words, then I can have a cigarette. And it was part of going out. The conversation was better outside than it was inside. Or so we believed. I don’t know if it’s true, but it is fun to hang out with the smokers. I’m okay without it.

A lot of the book is super-plain advice. Like, “Listen, you’re going to do a messy draft.” And then in comes Patricia Lockwood who’s literally like, “Okay, so I needed a bag of magic rocks to tell me what to write every day.” Do you ever do anything esoteric or superstitious? Do you ask anything for help?
Every once in a while I’ll have Alex Chee read my tarot cards.

He’s a great tarot reader. 
That’s what his bio should be. Legendary tarot reader Alexander Chee. But yeah, I spend time thinking about ghosts and visiting otherworldly places, catacombs and cemeteries. I live in a very haunted city. It’s a special environment that’s very creative, and there’s a lot of interesting old houses. This city is really inspiring to me. This city maybe helps me.

You write about the sounds in your house in the front and how that soundscape is different from the sounds in the back. The environment of the place is part of what you’re making.
Everything I do is centered around being creative in one way or another. At this point I have to have my long walks and I have to read and I have to write in my journal. And I know a lot of people who are creative or interesting or open to creative conversations. That’s really helpful. It’s having people you can surround yourself with. The book is so much about community, and I really believe in that. Finding your people is half the battle.

People have asked you since forever: How do I write a novel? Has your answer now changed, cemented? Now that you have a big answer in a book form, do you have a set answer that you give them? 
There are no shortcuts. The most important thing is that the best part of it is the writing. The best part of it is making something cool. We should really enjoy that process and not worry about the book deal or if you’re going to get an agent or if you should build your social-media presence now. Which is a question that people ask: “How much should I be focusing on social media?” And I’m like, “You should be focusing on getting 65,000 words down on the page.” And enjoying it. Why do you want to be here? What kind of writer do you want to be? What kind of stories do you want to tell? Those are the real questions you need to be asking. The answers are going to fill you up. The answers are going to help you grow as a person. Do I sound self-help-y?

No. You’re saying what I say to young writers, which is: “You probably don’t write enough. You’re uncomfortable writing. If you wrote a thousand or 4,000 words a day, you’re going to feel more secure. You’re going to be a better writer every day that you write.” But that also feels boring and unsatisfying. So people ask about your career.
The people I know who have done really cool stuff, it’s like they just figured out what they were interested in. They just spent time trying different things and writing about different things. And I don’t think you’re supposed to do something you feel like you’re supposed to. You make a career out of what you love to do.

Also, we should acknowledge that you can’t move to New York City and spend $250 a month for a room in an East Village apartment anymore. So that path of becoming a writer has changed.
It’s really cool that people can live in other cities that are more affordable. There are people writing books all over the place. There are people making their art all over the place. You don’t have to be in New York City anymore. The internet has changed all that. The way we communicate has changed all that. You can be anywhere and make your art. I’m also not saying that you can make a living at it. In fact, the book is not about that at all. This book is not about getting a publishing deal but the satisfaction you get out of making your art.

People talk about adversity a lot in the book, which I really appreciate. Rebecca Carroll writes about how she works in the middle of her house while her son and her husband are watching TV. She’s saying, “If you’re going to write, you’re going to write. If you’re not going to write, you’re not going to write.” And Rumaan Alam says something really funny about how he was blown away when a friend told him “No one is going to ever ask you to write a book.” We should go to people’s doors like Jehovah’s Witnesses, like Prince. We should ring people’s doors and be like, “Hello, it’s time for you to write a book.”
These letters of advice showed me how to write the book. My stuff is fine, but the book is really just a vessel for their advice.

I really loved hearing from parents about how they met those challenges. I had a lot of respect for how they did that.
They just work all the time, and they’re hungry for it, and they fight for it. I mean, I fight for it too, but they’ve chosen this more complex path. I did NPR’s “1A” show with Deesha Philyaw and Isaac Fitzgerald, and Deesha answered a question in a really interesting way. She had four kids and then she worked on that story collection over a ten-year period. Somebody asked, “How do you manage your time when you have other obligations?” I always am afraid to answer that question. I literally don’t have any obligations except I have to take my dog for a walk twice a day. I have the luxury of time. She said that you have to be willing to disappoint other people in order to be a writer. I thought that that was really fascinating. Sometimes you will make choices that other people might not be happy with — but for sure you will be happy with yourself because you claimed your time to write.

January 13th 2023

Why Get Married If You Are A Man ?


Third wave feminism

  • more about superiority instead of equality, embraces diversity ie antiwhite racism misandry
    it conceals hatred of white men, hatred of women who don’t also follow modern feminism, and Marxism. It even provides a haven and support for Islam, which even in its moderate form is quite dangerous and toxic for women.
  • white men are the cause of all problems – to which women and their ethnic allies are the solution.White genocide by end
    of 22nd century – if not sooner war disease famine etc

radical third wave feminists call for male advocates and ask them to join the movement and the fight but at the same time turning around and saying all white men are misogynist, sexist, violent people

russian female view
As the word is most often used today, and most often expressed by those who identify as such, I am very irked by modern feminism.

American feminism has come in three or four waves, depending on how you like to count. First American women wanted the vote, which they got, then to work, which they got. And this was good. Now we have the third wave of feminism, which has added the word “intersectional” to itself, and this is where I don’t like it.

This kind of feminism has nothing really to do with women’s equality. Instead, it is maskirovka to conceal hatred of men, hatred of women who don’t also follow modern feminism, and Marxism. It even provides a haven and support for Islam, which even in its moderate form is quite dangerous and toxic for women.

Of course this is not true of every single modern feminist, but the movement cannot reject those that do these things, because it is a leaderless movement, and so does not have a head to determine orthodoxy. The Catholic church may say, “no, this thing is not godly and not part of our beliefs” because they have a Pope. But Feminism cannot do this, and especially not because these beliefs I have described are not actually fringe beliefs in modern Feminism. They are quite common.

It does not good to read the dictionary to me either. A movement is defined by what it does, not what the dictionary says it is. Like Marxism, the dictionary will tell you pretty things, but reality is gulags, holodomor, and death. You may also note that the current feminist playbook is a very close copy of that of Marx, only substituting “identity” for “class”, but using the same divisive rhetoric and demanding many of the same sorts of government programs and authoritarian centralization of power that came from Marx and later Stalin.

So when I look at modern feminism, what I see is that it is actually very much against women. Women who prefer traditional roles are told horrible things, that we are “anti-women”, that we are holding women back, that blah blah blah as if it cannot be conceived that we would choose such a life. So much for women’s choices, eh?

Modern feminism also prizes victimhood, which is perverse. Does not feminism say that women are to be strong? So why is it that those who can claim to be the most oppressed have the biggest voice? This offends me. Power does not come from being a victim. Power comes from strength. If you are victim or oppressed, you do not have voice, you do not make demands, those in power give orders and you follow. If you want to see who really has power, do not look at who claims to be oppressed, look at who gives orders and is obeyed, or at least who makes a lot of noise and is not then stomped into the dirt by soldiers and disappeared by apparatchiks.

I do not like how feminism cultivates a victim mindset. Modern feminism makes many demands that the world adapt itself and accommodate itself to us. This is not how strength works. Modern feminism demands a place at the table of men. Women should either prove that we deserve a place at the table, or build our own damn table. Not impose sex quotas in workplace that gets unqualified women promoted into positions they cannot do, and thereby hurt not only the business but also make every other woman who is qualified look bad.

Modern feminism is also very dogmatic. If you do not believe properly, you are a bad woman. Several years ago at a Woman’s March, a number of women who are anti-abortion were specifically excluded. Yet the believed everything else the march was supposed to mean. While I disagree with those women, I do not think it is appropriate to ban women from a women’s march.

I see also that many modern feminists are very much against pornography, prostitution, and all other forms of sex work. This is stupid. Yes, where women are forced into these jobs it is bad, but nobody disagrees with that idea. But many women choose to do such work and enjoy it, yet I have heard feminists say the same things as the church patriarchs about pornography and such. I thought it was a woman’s choice what she did with her body, and if she uses it to make her own money from horny men, how is this bad? What is wrong with sex or capitalism?

Furthermore, it is shocking to me how many feminist women are staunchly anti-gun. This makes no sense to me. Men are bigger, stronger, faster, and more aggressive than women. Yet the very same women who demand that we teach men not to rape, who insist that we live in a “rape culture”, get upset when the intended victim of a rapists shoots that rapist dead.

I have also seen that much of the modern feminist movement is strangely hateful of Jews. Many feminist organizations support BDS, who claim that Israel is an apartheid state, or other such nonsense. Whether you agree or not though, I must ask, whatever has this to do with feminism?

And all this time, these feminists do nothing to help women in places where they are sold to be wives, where FGM is culturally acceptable, where a woman may be punished for the crime of being raped by being stoned to death.

There is just ever so much baggage that one must adhere to to be a modern feminist. So many points of doctrine one must believe. It is no longer simply believing that women should be the moral and legal equals of men.

And for a doctrine that claims to be about equality, modern feminists will ignore any injustice that men suffer, often saying that the women’s problem is more important or that the man’s problem doesn’t exist.

Perhaps my English is not so good, but does this not mean that there are more homeless men than women? Doesn’t this mean that homelessness is mostly a man’s problem? Many shelters, either for homeless or battered spouses do not accept men.

Men are also most often the victims of violence, commit suicide more often, and die at work more often. I still cannot believe that Mrs. Clinton once claimed that women are the primary victims of war, as if it has not been men who have fought wars since first caveman picked up rock. Yes, women also fight, such as my much admired Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a Soviet sniper who killed many fascists, or the ?????? ??????, the Night Witches 588th Night Bomber Regiment who gave the fascists fits. But any sane person can see it is mostly men who are shot, blown up, burned, gassed, tortured, or otherwise suffer gruesomely at war.

Sadly I must now say that this does not mean I think we should ignore women’s problems, but just that men don’t have all the roses. And I must say this because if I do not, some angry modern feminist will accuse me of all manner of sins against women.

What is my view of third wave feminism? I think it is terrible. I think women should be the legal and moral equals to men, and that third wave feminism is counterproductive to that goal. I think that if third wave feminists want to put their money where their mouths are, they should jump in trenches with men. They should try as hard to be garbage men, oil diggers, miners, and all the other dirty deadly jobs, not just CEOs.

I think third wave feminists come in two kinds, the Church ones and the Marxist ones. By this I mean, some feminists act like the church, and tell you that everything is a woman’s choice, but then get angry if you don’t choose what they want you too, like god getting angry when you use the free will he gave you to do things he doesn’t like. The Marxist ones are at least more honest, and will directly tell you not to question the party line, and that if you dare disagree with them you are being politically incorrect. Oh, by the way, politically incorrect does not mean “being polite”, it means holding beliefs that are against the party line. It comes from Soviet Union. It is not politically correct, for example, to acknowledge the holdomor.

That is my view of third wave feminism.

For other good things to read on the topic, please read the following:

An Emerging Problem With "Intersectional" Feminism: The Scramble for Victimhood

“Intersectionality” is the OPPOSITE of Feminism

Eva Glasrud's answer to Why don't feminists fight for Muslim women?
Eva Glasrud's answer to How should secular feminists and Muslim women join forces to uphold women's rights?
Eva Glasrud's answer to Should the feminist concept of fat acceptance have a minimum size limit?
Eva Glasrud's answer to Is it transphobic to refuse to date a trans person? I read a comment saying 'it's transphobic to not have sex with a trans* person just because of who they are'.
Eva Glasrud's answer to Why do I feel I am becoming a misogynist?
Eva Glasrud's answer to Should clothes be gender-free? Should pretty, attractive, and sexually arousing clothes be only for women?
Eva Glasrud's answer to Would you date someone who is fat? To what extent does being fat affect ones attraction?

Yes, they’re all from Eva Glasrud, I very much like her writing.

Poka poka!

Is marriage worth it for men?

In 2022, marriage as a social institution only benefits women. It is women who are forcing marriage on men. Those bloody romcoms don’t help either. Yet almost 90% of divorces are instigated by women.

I think you really need to ask why men should get married. There’s literally nothing in it for men, zero benefit, and mountains of downside and expense. Marriage doesn’t guarantee anything. It doesn’t mean she isn’t going to cheat, it doesn’t mean anything, and if or more likely (statistically) when it all goes wrong it’ll most likely be the guy that suffers. There is no support for men at all.
In sum, when a woman wants to get married without a well written and videotaped prenup she is asking for a blank check. Cant agree on a pre nup honey I assure you we won’t agree in a marriage.

usa – 50% of marriages end in divorce, 70% of divorces initiated by women.

Feminism. Most women today have no interest in being a wife. They’re not interested or capable of being nurturers. They have nothing to offer except a vagina and they don’t want to share that either. Men have awakened and realized there’s no upside in marriage for them.

Modern marriage is a living death for men. If you’re a young single man reading this, heed the warnings of legions of older men like me and never, EVER get married under the current legal system in the west.
I loved my wife for a while and she adored me and we had three beautiful children. We are both highly educated. We took our time getting to know each other. Still it slowly descended into tedious, grinding, soul-crushing misery. Endless nagging, constant complaints, ungratefulness, squandering money, walking back promises about shared goals, cheating, selfishness, deranged behavior, everything every man tries to avoid and untold millions fail to do. Our marriage began to unravel the day of our wedding. When I observed her and her mother’s behavior in those fateful days leading up to the event I knew in the back of my mind it was a mistake. It finally imploded after 8 years when she commenced a legal battle that cost us over $50,000 (ETA $70,000) in attorney fees. Our children are scarred for life. We despise each other with a red hot hatred that I never would have thought possible. The real kicker? I thought I had gotten lucky when I met her.
Here’s the awful truth no one teaches young men:
The voluntary, love-based, monogamous marriage is impossible for the vast majority of people. Evolution favors variety. Deep in our unconscious brains we are programmed by evolution to repel each other. Marriage, at its core, was never about love or emotional connection. It was about survival and social stability and gender-based division of labor in a pre-modem era when the lives of everyone, especially children, depended on maintaining that bond. Marriage is a cultural adaptation, not a biological adaptation. Men are polygamous, women are hypergamous. We come from an alpha male/harem of females evolutionary dynamic, as do the vast majority of social species in the mammalian family. Geneticists have proven we have several times more female ancestors than male ancestors. Such societies are inherently unstable however. Just watch any BBC documentary on lions or gorillas or elk or any other social species in the mammalian family and its non-stop internecine conflict and violence over territory and mating privileges. Prior to the 1970s, marriage, in all its various forms, was the solution to this problem that restrained our primitive sexual behaviors and allowed us to escape a Pleistocene Era existence and create civilization.
As technology advanced (thanks to men), societies began to accumulate more and more wealth. Eventually western society came to enjoy the luxuries of food security, physical safety, and leisure time. Unfortunately, such luxuries also tend to erode the bonds that hold marriages together by lessening the life-or-death need for restraints on our more primitive instincts and by blurring traditional gender roles. Marriage’s days were numbered with the onset of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Women’s enfranchisement gave women a voice in the governance of society, which combined with their solipsistic natures has proven to be a catastrophic social policy mistake. In the 1960s and 1970s, the religious and legal and social constraints that held most marriages together were dismantled in the west. Gradually, the police and welfare states began to be viewed as more efficient and more equitable ways of solving many of the problems marriage was designed to solve in the first place. This is of course is utterly unsustainable. All one has to do is note the social decay and collapsing birth and family formation rates and levels of government debt throughout the ENTIRE developed world to see where this is ultimately headed.
Today, the practical origins of marriage are utterly lost on modern women (and a lot of men to be honest). We have replaced it with an imbecilic, feminized model based on romantic love and voluntary commitment WHICH SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK! The current model is biologically absurd. Worse still, we still have a family court system that punishes men for participating and rewards women for withdrawing. Marriage is still an effective check on men’s polygamous instincts, but it REWARDS women for following their hypergamous instincts. No-fault divorce plus child support plus birth control plus abortion on demand plus smart phones plus social media plus dating apps plus the police and welfare states practically guarantees failure. It’s nothing less than an extinction formula. Women are never satisfied. It’s in their DNA. Briffault’s Law is real. Marriage must be externally enforced (law, church, custom, etc) for it to survive in the VAST majority of cases. Women are, by nature, materialistic and solipsistic and duplicitous and malcontented and emotionally disregulated and erratic and irrational and manipulative. When it comes to men, a woman’s “love” is opportunistic, extractive, and conditional. A western wife is a hole in the ground with no bottom that you pour your soul into. No matter how much attention or money you give her it will never be enough. Just ask Will Smith or BIll Gates or Jeff Bezos or Brad Pitt (ETA: or Sylvester Stallone or Tom Brady or Kevin Costner). I’ve come to believe it is biology impossible for most women to be content in a committed relationship in the long run no matter who she is with. As a man, you’ll get infinitely better results with women when they know they are disposable to you and you treat them as such. Although it’s a difficult pill to swallow, all this makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective.
Men simply cannot afford to have any legal or financial ties with ANY women given the current family court system and modern women’s ridiculous expectations and women’s underlying nature. When divorce became an option for every woman, at any time, for any reason, marriage and children became risk prohibitive for every man no matter his wealth or status or physical attributes. No sane man would sign a modern marriage contract if he really knew what he was getting into. Women, if they remain unchecked, will ultimately destroy western civilization. This may sound bombastic and “misogynistic” to anyone conditioned by modern feminism until you consider the fact that virtually EVERY civilization we have knowledge of confined men and women to more or less the same roles. This pattern arose over and over and over again. Throughout the millennia. Across oceans and continents. Among people who had no contact with and no knowledge of each other’s existence. If there was a viable alternative it would be prominent in the historical record. It’s is not. Let that sink in for a moment.
Modern marriage ruins men’s lives. It will destroy your dreams. A wife will feed on your soul until you are nothing but a hollow, empty shell. Being legally and financially at the mercy of a woman is an exhausting, grinding, slow-motion horror I can’t even begin to describe. Marriage is nothing but a loaded gun pointed at a man’s head and the woman gets cash and prizes for pulling the trigger. I’ve had cancer and I’ve been married to a woman who loved me and cancer was infinitely more enjoyable. At least I didn’t have to pretend to love the cancer as it was slowly killing me. At least cancer went about it in silence. Cancer didn’t try to bankrupt me and take my children away.
Until the laws change and society reverts back to a rational model for marriage that is enforceable, NEVER, EVER, GET F-ING MARRIED IF YOU’RE A MAN!!

“What makes men not want to get married?”
I think there are a few things that play into this.
THE RELATIONSHIP MODEL HAS CHANGED. Several decades ago the model was that a woman would give her youth, beauty, and fertility to one man. In exchange for this the man would provide the woman with a home and security for 40+ years. Obviously it wasn’t quite that simple, but that was essentially the nuts and bolts of it. Now the model seems to be that a woman gives her youth, beauty, and fertility to several different men. Then after about a decade or so she decides she wants to find a “good man” to settle down with. What this usually means is she wants this good man to pay her bills and help her raise her two or three kids that all have different last names.
YOU DIDN’T WANT HIM THEN, HE DOESN’T WANT YOU NOW. Remember the awkward geeky guy in high school that she stepped on and over to date the football player? Well now it’s fifteen years later and the geek is pulling down a six figure salary working for a tech giant. The football player is managing a Denny’s. Who do you think she wants to be with now?
FEMINISM, OR WOMEN’S LIB AS IT USED TO BE CALLED. In the old relationship model, the man was the woman’s primary source of security. Therefore, she had a vested interest in making sure he stayed strong, confident, satisfied, and happy. Then women were told that they could provide their own security and didn’t have to depend on a man for it. One of the byproducts of this newfound empowerment is that a great many women now have little concern for what a man needs or desires. The men that end up with these women often find themselves very low on her list of priorities. They come in behind, her career, her children, and her other personal relationships. YET SHE STILL WANTS HER MAN TO MAKE HER HIS PRIMARY FOCUS.
NO FAULT DIVORCE AND MARRIAGE AS A FORM OF INCOME. The family court system in the United States has become extremely gynocentric. What does this mean you ask? Several decades ago if you wanted a divorce, you had to go to court and prove to a judge why you needed one. Now all you need do is decide you no longer want to be married, a reason is no longer needed. With this knowledge women know that all they have to do is stay married to a guy for six or seven years, and pop out a couple of kids. Once they have accomplished that they can walk away with the kids and a sizable chunk of his money and assets.
There are quite a few other good points that have been touched on in the other answers to this question. As I don’t wish to be repetitive I’ll stop right here.
My conclusion is that in the old relationship model when a man got married he worked hard to provide safety and security for his wife. His reward was that he got someone to bear him children and this person also became his best friend, confidant, and lover for life. That seems to be a pretty equitable arrangement in my opinion.
Now it seems that men are putting far more into marriage (voluntarily & involuntarily) then they will ever get out of it. Some men just don’t see the reason to take the risk anymore.
These are some of the things that I believe make men not want to get married.
All the Best, Marriage Veteran of 30 years

Why is marriage is a bad idea for men

It’s only legalized prostitution. She gets all your money, tells you what you can or cant do, and leaves whenever she wants to do whatever. Oh, and yes sex to get her way. It’s just best to pay for it so you dont have to live with it.

The Marriage Foundation, a charity that promotes marriage, said the social pressure to marry in the UK had “pretty much disappeared”, despite “the psychology of marriage remaining deeply compelling”.

Harry Benson, the charity’s research director, argued that the process of making an active decision to be together tended to increase commitment and remove ambiguity, which was “one of the biggest relationship killers”. Getting married in front of your peers also creates “accountability”, he said.

The Policeman’s Lot

A Police Custody Sergeant violently assaulting a drunken female solicitor.
The same woman after the sergeant had finished with her and a night in the cells.


Much research has discussed the “police personality.” Yet, it is still unclear what particular traits make up the police personality—or whether it exists at all. This can be partially attributed to the limited availability of data collected within individual police departments. Using a nationally representative sample of adults (Add Health), the current study examines whether the Big Five personality traits, temperamental characteristics, and empirically informed covariates are related to being a police officer. Results indicate that, compared to the general population, individuals in law enforcement score significantly lower on openness to experience. Police officers are also more likely than non-officers to have experienced divorce, served in the military, lean politically conservative, and be male. These findings provide partial support for the notion that there are distinct factors that define the police personality.

In the law enforcement profession, certain traits are assumed to coalesce in individuals forming a distinct “police personality.” This personality has been defined as a value orientation specific to law enforcement officers. It consists of interrelated personality characteristics including bravery, loyalty, authoritarianism, cynicism, suspiciousness, physical courage, self-assertiveness, aggression, distrustfulness, secretiveness, conservatism, dogmatism, and alienation (Bennett & Greenstein, 1975; Lefkowitz, 1975; Twersky-Glasner, 2005; Van Maanen, 1973). The police personality has also been described as a high need for exhibitionism, the need to do new and different things, argumentativeness, assertiveness, and dominance (Mahanta & Kathpalia, 1984). Skolnick (1966) noted that the police working personality is formed by the officer’s role as an authority figure—emerging partly from the pressures associated with being in law enforcement—and consists of cynicism, suspiciousness, external isolation, internal solidarity, and conservatism. The common theme describing the police personality is the idea that law enforcement officers are a distinct group that can be identified based on a certain set of personality characteristics. As Van Maanen (1973) noted, “police are almost always depicted as a homogeneous occupational grouping somehow quite different from most other men” (p. 408).

Before discussing the police personality, it is important to have a general concept of personality and personality traits. The term personality refers to the combination of characteristics of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors forming an individual’s distinct character and is thought to remain relatively stable throughout the life course. Monte (1999), for instance, defines a personality trait as a biological, psychological, and sociological mixture that predisposes an individual towards a specific kind of action under certain circumstances. Some argue that these traits are primarily genetic and set in place early in life (perhaps before birth) and remain stable over the life course, others suggest that these traits are more malleable and are shaped predominantly by socialization, and some scholars claim personality traits are formed by some combination of genetics and environment—and the interaction and/or interplay between the two (Caspi, 1998; DeYoung, 2010; Pomerantz & Thompson, 2008). Pertaining to the police personality, scholars have similarly proposed different “models” or pathways to the formation of the police personality.

The Police Personality

Some of the first studies to discuss the police personality focused on the “working police personality” and attempted to reveal the origins of the police personality (Bennett, 1984; Bennett & Greenstein, 1975; Skolnick, 1966). Recall that Skolnick (1966) argued that the police officer’s working personality consist of cynicism, suspiciousness, external isolation, internal solidarity, and conservatism—and was formed by their role as an authority and the pressures associated with the job. Bennett and Greenstein (1975), likewise, discuss the police personality as a value orientation specific to law enforcement officers that make them unique from those they police and found that police science majors value systems were significantly different from experienced officers, but not other college majors. This led them to conclude that something occurs during the recruitment or training process that makes the value system of officers markedly different from the normal population. Bennett (1984) also found evidence that police academy training seemed to change recruits’ values to be more in line with that of experienced officers, but this effect was attenuated after individuals spent time on the street.

To clarify, there are four general views on the origins of the police personality. First, the predispositional model argues the police personality consists of traits the individual possessed prior to entering law enforcement. Second, the selection model suggests police applicants and candidates have the same common personality traits as the general population, but because of screening procedures only certain personality types are admitted into the academy and then the police force (Check & Klein, 1977). Third, the socialization model suggests the police personality is an artifact of the formal and informal processes of police work (Bennett & Greenstein, 1975). In other words, the police personality is a function of the police subculture and learned in the academy and on the job. At first, this temperament or disposition may only appear while on the job but soon bleeds over into their everyday life and becomes part of their personality. Fourth, the null model proposes that there may be no police personality and those in law enforcement have the same general personality traits and characteristics as the larger population.

While the first three models (predispositional, socialization, and selection) suggest a different mechanism at work in the etiology of the police personality, all assume that individuals in the law enforcement profession have personalities that somehow differ from that of the non-officers. It should also be noted that these models are not mutually exclusive, and that more than one may aid in explaining the underpinnings of the police personality. For example, individuals with certain traits may have a greater likelihood of joining a police force (predispositional hypothesis); during training and hiring, individuals with specific personality traits and predispositions are weeded-out (the selection hypothesis); and while on the job an officer is socialized to act, or think, in a certain way (the socialization hypothesis). It is possible—and likely—that all of these processes take part in shaping an officer’s personality, temperament, and/or behavior. If so, police officers may differ in personality and temperament from the general population. This is an empirical question that warrants further investigation. Indeed, although a number of studies have examined the police personality (Balch, 1972; Carpenter & Raza, 1987; Check & Klein, 1977; Garbarino et al., 2012; Twersky-Glasner, 2005), scholars have yet to explore whether certain personality characteristics are unique to law enforcement officers compared to the general population. Importantly, all the models have found support in the literature with studies supporting no particular theory, beckoning for further research in this area (see, e.g., Bennett & Greenstein, 1975; Hogan & Kurtines, 1975; Rokeach et al., 1971; Van Maanen, 1973).

It is evident that although findings are mixed in terms of which model better explains the origins of the police personality, results tend to support the notion that police officers have a distinct set of personality characteristics that distinguish them from the general population (Carpenter & Raza, 1987; Harper et al., 1999; Matarazzo et al., 1964). Yet, questions still remain as to what exactly the police personality is, what it consists of, if it is generalizable, and how it should be measured. Given that prior findings pertaining to the formation of the police personality have varied from study-to-study and sample-to-sample, the evidence for a singular explanation for the police personality is somewhat weak. It may be that there is a complex process occurring in which certain traits are found to cluster in law enforcement officers. In order to better understand the police personality and how it is formed, scholars must first identify what characteristics—if any—distinguish officers’ personalities from that of the larger population. The most well-known, recognizable, and researched personality characteristics are the “Big Five.”

The “Big Five” and the Police Personality

One of the most commonly used personality measures is the “Big Five” or the “Five Factor Model” (Schmitt et al., 2007). Indeed, it has been utilized in many studies across a variety of disciplines to examine myriad research questions (Gerber et al., 2011; Hurtz & Donovan, 2000; Loehlin et al., 1998). Psychologists, economists, political scientists, and behavioral geneticists, for instance, examined the heritability of the Big Five factors (Loehlin et al., 1998), how the personality traits are related to job performance (Hurtz & Donovan, 2000), and if the Big Five predict political affiliation (Gerber et al., 2011). Moreover, the Big Five has been shown to be both reliable and valid using various instruments and cross-culturally (Schmitt et al., 2007). The model captures five broad domains of personality: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. Briefly, extraversion is comparable with pursuing excitement and novelty, and taps into qualities like sociability, outgoingness, talkativeness, and assertiveness (Roccas et al., 2002). Neuroticism includes characteristics related to anxiety and emotional liability; and neurotic individuals are typified as having anxiety, insecurity, depression, and anger (Fenster & Locke, 1973). Agreeableness is attuned with the motivational goals of conformity and traditional values. Individuals scoring high on agreeableness are characterized as good-natured, gentle, modest, compliant, and cooperative (Black, 2000). Conscientiousness includes characteristics such as responsibility, carefulness, thoroughness, scrupulousness, and having self-control. Openness to experience is analogous with universalism and the motivational goals of self-direction and refers to intelligence, imaginativeness, sensitiveness, and open-mindedness (Barrick & Mount, 1991). Judge et al. (2002) note there is a consensus the Big Five can be used to illustrate the most salient aspects of an individual’s personality and that the model has been found to be generalizable across measures, cultures, and sources of ratings.

Although not examining the full Big Five personality traits, some studies have looked at one or multiple facets of the Big Five and the police personality. Gudjonsson and Adlam (1983), for instance, investigated the personality differences between four different British law enforcement groups. Compared to normative groups of a similar age, recruits scored higher on extraversion, impulsiveness, and venturesomeness (i.e., openness to experience). Garbarino and colleagues (2012) examined the personality profiles of Italian special force police officers. Compared to the general population and career soldiers, officers were found to be more emotionally stable and moderately more agreeable, extraverted, open to experience, and conscientious. Collectively, these articles both point to the notion that police recruits and officers may be more extraverted, agreeable, open to experience, and conscientious.

Additional studies, however, did not find evidence of a distinct “police personality” (Fenster & Locke, 1973; Mahanta & Kathpalia, 1984). For example, neuroticism was not found to be a major personality trait of New York City officers (Fenster & Locke, 1973). The authors state that the results are limited given their design and that future studies using nationally representative populations are needed in order to generalize these results. Mahanta and Kathpalia (1984) conducted a study of the personality characteristics of police, judicial, and correctional officers using measures of psychoticism, neuroticism, extraversion, and dissimulation. Results revealed there were no mean differences between the three groups of law enforcement, as well as those in law enforcement and a control group of parents. Thus, there was no evidence of a police personality with police scoring generally the same as those from the general population in measures of neuroticism and extraversion.

Few studies have used the Big Five personality traits in their entirety when examining the police personality (Garbarino et al., 2012; Salters-Pedneault et al., 2010). Salters-Pedneault et al. (2010), for instance, compared the personality and psychological profiles of police recruits, firefighter recruits, and a normative sample. Police and firefighter recruits were found to have similar mean scores on neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness, with police recruits scoring higher on conscientiousness. When compared to the general population, police and firefighter candidates were more extraverted. Though the sample was limited and these findings are difficult to generalize because it included firefighters in the sample and a single Italian special forces unit, the study suggests that police and firefighters recruits’ personality characteristics were not systematically different from the larger population.

Scholars have also explored the value of using the Big Five in predicting police performance and its utility in officer selection. Cortina and colleagues (1992), for instance, found that while the Big Five was a valid measure of police performance, it did not add incremental validity over the Civil Service exam. Extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness were, however, significant predictors of turnover. Similarly, Black (2000) found that higher-order traits of neuroticism and extraversion were predictive of positive job performance for law enforcement officers with conscientiousness having the strongest relationship with performance, while openness to experience and agreeableness had no effect. Barrick and Mount (1991) performed a meta-analysis examining the ability of the Big Five to predict job performance and found that police performance was related to all personality factors except openness to experience—however, those scoring high on openness to experience were most willing to engage in learning experiences and benefit from training programs. On the other hand, Sanders (2008) examined whether the Big five personality traits predicted police officer performance and concluded that the Big Five personality characteristics were not predictive of good or poor officer performance. Sanders notes that this null finding may be partly attributed to the difficulty in measuring officer performance and lack of variation in supervisor performance ratings (i.e., most officers were rated as above average). Though these articles were not examining the police personality directly, these studies demonstrate that the Big Five model can be useful in investigating different aspects of policing.

Overall, the studies demonstrate that evidence for the “police personality” is mixed with some studies finding no differences in the Big Five traits and other studies revealing that—at least for some aspects of the Big Five—there were significant personality differences between law enforcement officers and other groups. Importantly, previous studies have been limited in generalizability due to their small sample size or inclusion of recruits in the sample. However, these studies do suggest that the Big Five model can be useful in exploring the personality differences between law enforcement and those working in other occupations or the general population.

The Current Study

Law enforcement officers have been described as having a distinct set of personality characteristics that distinguish them from the general population. For example, officers have been described as aggressive, dominate, assertive, suspicious, and conservative (Mahanta & Kathpalia, 1984; Skolnick, 1966). Research on the police personality, however, is varied. Research on the origins of the police personality, for example, finds evidence for the predispositional model (Rhead et al., 1968; Rokeach et al., 1971), the socialization model (Van Maanen, 1973), a selection effect (Hogan & Kurtines, 1975), and the null hypothesis (Balch, 1972; Bennett & Greenstein, 1975). The evidence points to the idea that it is probably a combination of the models that aid in forming, defining, and reinforcing the police personality. Given that findings pertaining to the formation of the police personality have varied from study-to-study and sample-to-sample, the evidence for a singular explanation for the police personality is somewhat weak. It may be that there is a complex process taking place in which certain traits are found to cluster in law enforcement officers. Regardless of how it is formed or where it comes from, all these models—except for the null hypothesis—assume that police officers are somehow different from the general population.

As previously stated, evidence is mixed as to whether police officers have a distinct set of personality characteristics different from that of the general population. This is due, in part, to the lack of control variables and generalizability issues in prior studies. Balch (1972), for instance, noted that studies have found Portland police are similar to college students, Denver police were less authoritarian than the general public, and recruits in New York were more authoritarian than the larger population. With this in mind, it is necessary for research to use data from nationally representative samples. Considering that the aforementioned criticisms came in the 1970s, and few studies have addressed these claims, it is necessary for researchers to use national data and a more methodologically rigorous analysis controlling for multiple covariates. Many of the previous studies were conducted 40 years ago and were unable to control for gender because the samples did not include a sufficient number of women, or none at all. Provided that more women are now serving in law enforcement, it is advantageous to control for the effect for gender, as it may show some personality differences to be spurious (e.g., it may be that males are more authoritarian).

To be sure, the Big Five personality traits were chosen because many scholars have utilized the measures when examining the police personality (Garbarino et al., 2012; Salters-Pedneault et al., 2010) and they have been shown to be reliable and valid indicators of relatively stable personality traits (Baldasaro et al., 2013; Judge et al., 2002; Schmitt et al., 2007). Covariates such as stress (Beutler et al., 1988), depression (Lorr & Strack, 1994), anxiousness (Balch, 1972; Evans et al., 1992), anger/hostility (Evans et al., 1992; Garbarino et al., 2012), divorce (Kappeler et al., 2000; McCoy & Aamodt, 2010), college education (Fenster & Locke, 1973), prior military service (Farkas & Manning, 1997; Pasillas et al., 2006), and political ideology (Balch, 1972, 1977; Skolnick, 1966, 1977) were chosen because they were found to be related to law enforcement and the police personality.

For example, research has shown that after only two years on the job, candidates experienced an increase in somatic symptoms, stress, anxiety, and alcohol vulnerability (Beutler et al., 1988). Lorr and Strack (1994) utilized multiple measures of depression when examining the personality profiles of law enforcement candidates. Research has been inconsistent in terms of anger/hostility, with some finding that police personnel had higher scores of anger (Evans et al., 1992) and others concluding that officers had lower scores on anger-hostility compared to the general population (Garbarino et al., 2012). The relationship between divorce and being in law enforcement is also mixed with some claiming that police officers have higher divorce rates than the general population (Kappeler et al., 2000), yet others have found that the divorce rate for law enforcement personnel is lower than that of the general population (McCoy & Aamodt, 2010). Fenster and Locke (1973) found personality differences between college-educated and noncollege-educated officers and civilians. Since it has been argued that police work parallels that of the military (Farkas & Manning, 1997) and because others have included it as a covariate when examining the police personality (Pasillas et al., 2006), military service will be included in the analysis. Finally, officers have been described as politically conservative (Balch, 1972, 1977; Coleman & Gorman, 1982; Skolnick, 1966, 1977) and so political ideology will be included as a covariate. The current study will add to the existing literature by using a nationally representative sample of adults to examine whether personality and temperamental differences exist between law enforcement and the general population while controlling for a host of theoretically informed covariates, leading to a more nuanced examination of the police personality. As such, this study’s aim is to add to the police personality literature by exploring whether individuals in that profession have unique personality characteristics.



The current study uses data drawn from Wave 4 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health; Harris, 2009; Udry, 2003). The Add Health is a five-wave study of a nationally representative sample of American adolescents in grades 7 through 12 during the 1994–1995 school year. The first wave of data was collected through two different surveys: an in-school survey and an in-home survey. Initial data collection began at the school-level, originally starting with a sample frame of 26,666 schools. Prior to sampling, the schools were stratified by size, type, urbanization, region, and percent white. A sample of 132 schools were selected and every student attending those schools were administered a 45-minute self-report questionnaire about their background, peers, school life, school work and activities, health-related behaviors and their parent’s background. This resulted in a sample of over 90,000 adolescents for the in-school questionnaire. A subsample of adolescents was then selected to take part in the wave 1 in-home component of the study. Additional information was obtained on the adolescent’s behaviors, tobacco use, alcohol use, drug use, social relationships, and personality traits. During the first wave, 17,670 primary caregivers (generally the respondent’s mother) were also interviewed.

The second wave of data was collected roughly one year later and drew on the same sample of adolescents who were interviewed at wave 1, with some exceptions (N = 14,738). In 2001 through 2002 a third wave of data was collected when most of the participants were young adults. Since respondents were now in adulthood, the surveys were updated to include more age-appropriate questions. In total, 15,197 participants were re-interviewed during the third wave. The fourth wave was obtained during 2007–2008, from approximately 80% of the original wave 1 respondents resulting in a sample size of 15,701 respondents. At this time, most of the respondents were between 24 and 32 years old. Questions tapped items such as personality factors, temperament, child-rearing history, educational achievement, work history, and marriage history. Due to the oversampling during Wave 1, some individuals had a higher probability of being included in the sample than others (i.e., not randomly selected). For this reason, survey weights will be used in all analyses.


Dependent Variable

Law Enforcement

The dependent variable was taken from a single question asked during the wave 4 interview. Specifically, the question asked, “Now I’d like to record a description of your (current/most recent) job. When you see the list of categories, please tell me which best describes what you (do/did) at your (current/most recent) job.” The occupations were coded following the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system to classify respondents’ current, or most recent, paying job that was at least 10 hours per week, excluding military service. During the interview, participants were guided though the four SOC levels: major group, minor group, broad occupation, and detailed occupation until the appropriate job title was identified.

The variable was coded in order to capture those who were police officers. Thus, only those respondents who reported being: police officers, sheriff’s patrol officers, transit and railroad police, detectives, managers of police and detectives, law enforcement workers, criminal investigators, and first-line supervisors. The variable was dichotomously coded with 0 = non-law enforcement and 1 = law enforcement.

Key Independent Variables

The Big Five personality traits were measured via the Mini-IPIP (for a detailed description see Baldasaro et al., 2013). The Mini-IPIP is a short form inventory based on the 50-item International Personality Item Pool five-factor model. The Mini-IPIP has been shown to have exceptional content coverage, high test-retest correlations, and criterion validity (Donnellan et al., 2006). Baldasaro and colleagues (2013) found support for the Mini-IPIP five-factor model based on confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory factor analysis with exploratory factor analysis revealing that items loading on one primary factor and any cross-loading being small. Thus, the five-factor structure of the Mini-IPIP inventory used in the Add Health has received support within the literature.


The extraversion scale was measured via four items taken from the Mini-IPIP. For each item, respondents were asked how much they agreed with each statement: “I am the life of the party,” (reverse coded) “I don’t talk a lot,” “I talk to a lot of different people at parties,” (reverse coded) and “I keep in the background.” Responses were summed so that higher scores indicate higher extraversion (α = .69).


The neuroticism scale was created by summing four items taken from the Mini-IPIP. For each item, respondents were asked how much they agreed with each statement: “I have frequent mood swings,” (reverse coded) “I am relaxed most of the time,” “I get upset easily,” (reverse coded) and “I seldom feel blue.” Responses were summed so that higher scores indicate higher neuroticism (α = .58).


The agreeableness scale was generated by summing four items taken from the Mini-IPIP. For each item, respondents were asked how much they agreed with each statement: “I sympathize with others’ feelings,” (reverse coded) “I’m not interested in other people’s problems,” “I feel others’ emotions,” (reverse coded) and “I am not really interested in others.” Responses were summed so that higher scores indicate higher agreeableness (α = .69).


The conscientiousness scale was measured via four items taken from the Mini-IPIP. For each item, respondents were asked how much they agreed with each statement: “I get chores done right away,” (reverse coded) “I often forget to put things back in their proper place,” “I like order,” (reverse coded) and “I make a mess of things.” Responses were summed so that higher scores indicate higher conscientiousness (α = .65).

Openness to Experience

The openness to experience scale was generated by summing four items taken from the Mini-IPIP. For each item, respondents were asked how much they agreed with each statement: “I have a vivid imagination,” (reverse coded) “I am not interested in abstract ideas,” “I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas,” and “I do not have a good imagination.” Responses were summed so that higher scores indicate higher openness to experience (α = .65).



Perceived stress was measured using a validated 4-item shortened version of the Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen et al., 1983; Cohen & Williamson, 1988; Dowd et al., 2014; Karam et al., 2012; Warttig et al., 2013). All items were coded on a five-point scale so that higher scores reflected more perceived stress. The scale was generated by summing the four items tapping a respondent’s perceived stress over the last 30 days (α = .72).


Depression was measured via a five-item scale. Specifically, respondents were asked to think about the past seven days and indicate how often each of the following things was true during the past seven days: “you were bothered by things that usually don’t bother you; ” “you could not shake off the blues, even with help from your family and friends; ” “you felt you were just as good as other people; ” “you had trouble keeping your mind on what you were doing; ” “you felt depressed; ” “you felt sad.” Each item was coded such that 0 = never or rarely, 1 = sometimes, 2 = a lot of the time, 3 = most of the time. To create the scale, respondent’s answers were summed together with higher scores representing more depressive symptoms (α = .80).


Four items were used to generate the anxiousness scale. Specifically, respondents were asked how much they agreed with the following statements: “I worry about things,” “I am not easily bothered by things,” (reverse coded) “I get stressed out easily,” and “I do not worry about things that have already happened” (reverse coded). To generate the scale, all items were summed together with higher scores reflecting higher anxiousness (α = .70).


Respondents were asked four items taken from the anger facet of the NEO PI-R (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Respondents were asked how much they agreed with the following statements: “I get angry easily,” “I rarely get irritated,” (reverse coded) “I lose my temper,” and “I keep my cool” (reverse coded). To generate the scale, all items were summed together with higher scores indicating higher anger/hostility (α = .77).


Divorce was measured by one item asking respondents how their marriage to their previous partner ended. The item was coded so that 0 = non-divorce (i.e., they were still married, they had never been married, their spouse died, or they did not know), 1 = divorce or annulment.

College Degree

Respondents were asked to indicate the highest level of education that they had achieved to date. The item was coded so that 0 = 8thgrade or less, some high school, high school graduate, some vocational/technical training, completed vocational/technical training, some college, 1 = completed college (bachelor’s degree) or higher.

Military Service

Respondents were asked to indicate whether they had ever been in the military. The variable was dichotomously coded such that 0 = no, 1 = yes.

Politically Conservative

Respondents were asked to identify their political affiliation. Specifically, respondents were asked, “In terms of politics, do you consider yourself very conservative, conservative, middle-of-the-road, liberal, or very liberal?” The item was coded so that 1 = very liberal, 2 = liberal, 3 = middle-of-the-road, 4 = conservative, 5 = very conservative.

Control Variables


A count variable indexed the respondent’s age. Responses ranged from 24 to 34.


A dichotomous variable indexed the participant’s sex (0 = female, 1 = male).


A binary variable indexed the respondent’s race (0 = non-white, 1 = white).


A dummy variable indicating the participant’s race (0 = non-black, 1 = black).


A binary variable indexed the respondent’s race (0 = non-Hispanic, 1 = Hispanic). Descriptive statistics for all variables and scales used in the analysis can be found in Table 1.Table 1. Descriptive Statistics (n = 13,145).

Law enforcement.02.1401
College degree.34.4701
Military service.07.2501
Politically conservative2.95.9215

Note. SD = Standard Deviation.

Analytic Plan

The analysis for the current study will proceeded in a series of four steps. The first step is to estimate a logistic regression model that examines the effect of the Big Five personality traits (i.e., extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience) on being law enforcement. The second step involves estimating another logistic regression model. This model, however, includes temperamental variables (i.e., stress, depression, anxiousness, anger/hostility) along with the Big Five personality traits. The third step is to estimate a logistic regression model that examines the effect of the Big Five personality traits, temperamental variables, and empirically informed covariates (i.e., divorce, college education, prior military service, political views) on being a police officer. The fourth step is to re-estimate the model including the Big Five personality traits, temperamental variables, covariates, and control variables (i.e., age, sex, and race). The covariates will be entered into the regression equations in a stepwise fashion, allowing for the observation of changes in the relationship between the Big Five personality traits and being in law enforcement as a function of the covariance shared with the different covariates. It is also important to note that—to aid in interpretation and comparisons between models—the sample size was held constant for each model such that only those respondents who had complete data on every variable in the final model (i.e., model 4, which includes all variables) were included in the previous models. In other words, listwise deletion will be utilized in the current study. Despite dropping these cases, a robust sample size remained. This resulted in a sample size of over 13,000 individuals, which provided sufficient statistical power (Barnes et al., 2020). Importantly, there were no systematic missing responses (i.e., the missing values were randomly distributed).


Table 2 presents the results gleaned from the logistic regression models where the effect of the Big Five personality traits on being in law enforcement is analyzed. Note that with minor algebraic manipulation (100*[OR-1]), odds ratios can be interpreted as a percent change in the odds of having a 1 on the dependent variable (i.e., being in law enforcement) for every one unit increase in the independent variable. Any OR below 1.00 denotes a negative association between the two variables and an OR above 1.00 signifies the two variables are positively associated.Table 2. Predictors of Being in Law Enforcement (n = 13,145).

 Model 1Model 2Model 3Model 4
Stress  .90(.05).90(.05).89(.05)
Depression  .93(.10).94(.11).94(.10)
Anxious  .96(.04).98(.04)1.04(.05)
Anger/Hostility  1.06(.04)1.04(.03)1.03(.03)
Divorced    1.36(.30)1.54*(.34)
College degree    .98(.16)1.09(.17)
Military service    3.44*(.81)2.51*(.58)
Politically conservative    1.38*(.11)1.32*(.10)
Age      1.04(.05)
Male      6.42*(1.64)
Black      1.12(.43)
Hispanic      1.40(.39)

*p < .05; Note: OR = Odds Ratio; SE = Linearized Standard Error.

Model 1 analyzes the effect of the Big Five personality traits on being in law enforcement before any additional variables are added to the model. Two personality variables are statistically significant. Specifically, the coefficient for neuroticism is negative and significant with results indicating that a one unit increase in neuroticism is related to a 12% decrease in the odds of being in law enforcement, adjusting for the other personality covariates (IRR = .88, p < .05). Additionally, the coefficient for agreeableness was negative and significant, with the odds ratio revealing that a one unit increase in agreeableness decreases the odds of being in law enforcement by 9% (IRR = .91, p < .05).

Model 2 presents the results of the logistic regression of law enforcement on the Big Five personality traits and additional temperamental variables. As can be seen, once these variables are added to the model, the relationship between the personality characteristics and being in law enforcement is attenuated and rendered insignificant. Moreover, none of the covariates in the model are significant predictors of being in law enforcement.

Model 3 reveals the results from the third logistic regression model analyzing the effect of the Big Five personality traits, temperamental characteristics, and theoretically informed covariates on being a police officer. Again, none of the Big Five traits or temperamental characteristics are significant. Prior military service is, however, significant with results indicating having served in the military was related to a 244% increase in the likelihood of being a police officer (IRR = 3.44, p < .05). Results also reveal that for every one unit increase in being politically conservative, the odds of being in law enforcement increases by 38% (IRR = 1.38, p < .05).

Model 4 presents the full model examining the effects of the Big Five personality traits, temperamental factors, covariates, and control variables on being in law enforcement. As can be seen, once the full model is analyzed, only one of the Big Five personality traits is significant. Specifically, for every one unit increase in openness to experience, the odds of being a police officer decrease by 7% (IRR = .93, p < .05). Being divorced was related to a 54% increase in the likelihood of being a police officer. Prior military service increases the odds of being in law enforcement by 151% (IRR = 2.51, p < .05). Conservatism remains significant, with a one unit increase in being politically conservative increasing the odds of being a police officer by 32% (IRR = 1.32, p < .05). Male is the only significant control variable and is associated with a 542% increase in the odds of being in law enforcement (IRR = 6.42, p < .05).


Police have been described as a homogeneous group with distinct personalities consisting of characteristics such as authoritarianism, extraversion, conservatism, exhibitionism, suspiciousness, and aggressiveness (Lefkowitz, 1975; Van Maanen, 1973). Prior research has found that, compared to the general population, police recruits and applicants were more extraverted, less depressed, more impulsive, and more open to experience (Carpenter & Raza, 1987; Gudjonsson & Adlam, 1983; Salters-Pedneault et al., 2010). Additional studies have found that police scored higher in neuroticism and extraversion than the general population (Mahanta & Kathpalia, 1984). To date, however, no study has used a nationally representative sample of individuals to explore the personality traits and temperamental characteristics (i.e., stress, depression, anger) associated with individuals in law enforcement. Moreover, no prior research has included demographic control variables (i.e., age, race, and sex) as well as additional theoretically and empirically informed covariates (i.e., divorce, education, military service, political ideology), which may show the police personality to be spurious. With this in mind, the current study set out to examine the personality and temperamental predictors of being a police officer.

Results from the current study reveal that officers scored significantly lower on openness to experience (recall that openness to experience refers to universalism, intelligence, imaginativeness, sensitiveness, and open-mindedness). Respondents who reported having been divorced, had prior military service, who leaned more conservative, and males were also significantly more likely to be in law enforcement—with males having a 542% increase in the odds of being in law enforcement. This pattern of findings may suggest that certain factors coalesce to form a distinct police personality—such as a domineering or authoritative personality type (see, e.g., Skolnick, 1966; Twersky-Glasner, 2005; Van Maanen, 1973). Given that prior literature has found that stress, depression, anger, and anxiety were associated with the police personality, they were included in the model along with the Big Five personality traits (Pasillas et al., 2006). No temperamental variables were related to being in law enforcement in any model, which was unexpected but in line with prior findings (Gudjonsson & Adlam, 1983; Lawrence, 1984).

This pattern of findings may be due to the length of time officers have been on the job. Though personality traits have been shown to remain relatively stable throughout the life course, the “socialization model” suggests that once an individual is introduced into police subculture, their attitudes (and perhaps personality) change (Bennett & Greenstein, 1975). Since the mean age in the sample was 28, it is possible that once these individuals are acclimated to the subculture their attitudes and characteristics may change. Therefore, the lack of findings for covariates such as stress, depression, and anger might be due to officers not being on the job for an extended amount of time (e.g., they have less exposure to the police subculture). It may be that personality and temperamental differences would become more pronounced once officers have been on the job longer. Future studies should investigate whether officers with more experience on the job differ from newer recruits on personality characteristics.

While the current study filled an existing gap within the literature, certain points must be acknowledged. It is possible that an officer’s behavior is not representative of the individual but a characteristic of the situation. The current study assumes that the traits measured are relatively stable throughout the life course and are not situational. Additionaly, the current study was exploratory and utilized only one wave of data and, thus, could only show correlations. For instance, males were found to have much higher odds of being in law enforcement. However, it is unknown if this is simply due to many more males applying for the jobs or to the rigorous training and physical requirements that may make males more likely to stay in such a profession. Future studies should employ more rigorous quasi-experimental analyses—such as the one used by Garbarino et al. (2012)—to examine if the Big Five personality traits predict being in law enforcement. Future studies should also examine whether one’s social network predicts being in law enforcement. Since the Add Health only collected social network data during adolescence and the Big Five personality traits were not measured until adulthood, the current study was unable to examine this.

Additionally, the data were collected in 2009 and it is possible that the selection process for officers was different at that time than others. While this is possible, there are reasons to believe that this would not greatly impact the results. First, the data came from Add Health Wave 4 data collected in 2009—which is not too long ago. Hirschi, for example, argued that while the world has changed in ways we find important—such as technology—research typically finds that whatever changes have occurred have little relevance for theory or policy (Hirschi, as quoted in Laub, 2011, p. 321). Second, the police personality and police subculture appear to be relatively stable and resistant to change (Herbert, 1998; Malmin, 2012; Salters-Pedneault et al., 2010; Skolnick, 1977; Van Maanen, 1973). Third, results from the current study are in line with others finding that police personality consisted of factors such as low openness to experience, prior military service, and being more conservative (Balch, 1972; Coleman & Gorman, 1982; Gudjonsson & Adlam, 1983; Pasillas et al., 2006; Seklecki & Paynich, 2007; Skolnick, 1977).

It should also be noted that while findings from the current study are generalizable to the United States, they may not be applicable to police officers in other countries. There are reasons this too may not be a major concern. Mainly, the predicators included in this study have been found to be associated with the police personality in other countries—including Britain, Italy, Scotland, and South Africa—and shared characteristics of the police personality have been found cross-culturally (Garbarino et al., 2012; Gudjonsson & Adlam, 1983; Harper et al., 1999; Pienaar et al., 2007). Moreover, a study using data collected from 56 different nations revealed that the Big Five was highly replicable across all cultural regions around the world, the factor scales had high levels of internal reliability as well as cross-cultural and cross-instrument validity, and the Big Five has been found to be reliably measured across diverse human cultures (Schmitt et al., 2007). With this being said, the study was limited to the Big Five personality measures and, although these measures have been shown to be reliable and valid (Baldasaro et al., 2013; Schmitt et al., 2007), there may be other traits or characteristics not captured in the Mini-IPIP that were not controlled for that could comprise the “police personality.”

Notwithstanding the aforementioned limitations, the current study is the first to utilize a nationally representative sample to examine whether the Big Five personality traits, temperament characteristics, and empirically informed covariates are related to being a police officer. Whether it is because certain individuals are more attracted to law enforcement (i.e., the predispositional model), certain personality types are more likely to be admitted law enforcement (i.e., the selection model), or that officers are socialized into the police culture through formal and informal processes of police work (i.e., the socialization model), results from the current study provide partial evidence for a distinct police personality—with officers being less open to new experiences and more likely than non-officers to have prior military service, a more conservative political ideology, and be male. Findings from the current study also demonstrate the importance of including additional covariates beyond the Big Five, as the results changed once other variables related to the police personality were included in the model. Indeed, the model which included only the Big Five personality traits revealed that officers rated significantly lower on neuroticism and agreeableness. However, once empirically relevant variables were included, officers were only found to differ only on openness to experience.

Putting findings from the current study in a broader context, the results suggest a greater import should be placed on casting a wider net when hiring to ensure a diverse pool of candidates in terms personality and political ideology—with a strong emphasis on the recruitment of females and individuals from the civilian population. The finding that males were 542% more likely to be in law enforcement identifies a major point of concern and something that departments should prioritize when recruiting. Considering the finding that officers had a 54% increase in the odds divorce, departments may want to make marriage counseling available—and the finding that officers scored lower on openness to experience may indicate that officers may be reluctant to try services such as counseling or psychotherapy, which should be addressed as well. Additionally, finding that race was not a significant predictor of being an officer suggest that departments are doing well when it comes to reducing the discriminatory hiring practices based on race/ethnicity. Once hired, however, making the workplace culture (or the police subculture) less masculine and militaristic might aid in the retention of female officers and those with characteristics less in line with the traditional police working personality (Farkas & Manning, 1997; Seklecki & Paynich, 2007).

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (https://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


Michael F. TenEyck https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5287-8224


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Gabbi Tuft is feeling like a true champion. The retired WWE wrestler opened up about her life since coming out as transgender in 2021, sharing that “every morning I wake up, I choose happy, and I align myself and everything around me with things that bring me joy and gratefulness.”15 Nov 2023

Before my transition, I was a WWE star, weighed 280 pounds, and had 6% body fat. It took a lot of trial and error to get the feminine body I always wanted.

January 13th 2024

Essay by Gabbi Tuft

Sep 17, 2023, 12:17 PM BST

Gabbi Tuft before and after the transition
Gabbi Tuft before and after her transition.
  • Before transitioning, I was a WWE star, weighed in at 280 pounds, and had 6% to 8% body fat.
  • To get the feminine body I dreamed of, I had to find the right diet and exercise for myself.
  • While I’m still evolving, I hope to pass what I’ve learned on to other trans people.
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About the Author

Robert Cook
facebook https://www.facebook.com/rj.cook.9081 I went to school in Buckinghamshire, where my interests were music ( I was a violinist ), art ( winning county art competitions ) athletics and cross country ( I was a county team athlete ). My father died as a result of an accident- he was an ex soldier and truck driver- when I was 11. It could be said that I grew up in poverty, but I did not see it like that. As a schoolboy, I had my interests, hobbies and bicycle, worked on a farm, delivered news papers, did a lot of training for my sport, painting, and music. I also made model aeroplanes and was in the Air Training Corps, where we had the opportunity to fly an aeroplane. I had wanted to be a pilot, but university made me anti war. At the University of East Anglia-which I also represented in cross country and athletics- I studied economics, economic history, philosophy and sociology. Over the years, I have worked in a variety of manual, office and driving jobs. My first job after univerity was with the Inland Revenue in Havant, near Portsmouth. I left Hampshire to work for the Nitrate Corporation of Chile, then lecturing, teaching and journalism - then back to driving. I play and teach various styles of guitar and used to be a regular folk club performer. I quit that after being violently assaulted in Milton Keynes pub, after singing a song I wrote about how cop got away with killing Ian Tomlinson at G7, in broad daylight and caught on camera. The police took no action, saying taht my assailant had a good job. The pub in question was, and probably still is, popular with off duty police officers.

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