Welcome to the written world of RDN. I am a complicated conservative, and a bit hippy and arty round the edges. I am currently working on poems, a memoir and a one-man show. Over all that is an increasing interest in the idea of spirituality. More »

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“Darkest Hour” is quite bad

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On movies / Politics & campaigns on 26 January 2018. No comments.

The latest Darkest Hour movie is enjoyable and has high production values. It is, as lots of people say, rather a good flipside to the blockbuster Dunkirk. But whilst Dunkirk had merely a few absurdities amongst its conceits, Darkest Hour is, I declare, positively unethical in important parts of its story-telling.

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Six brilliant TV proposals

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On TV & Radio on 29 December 2017. No comments.

I have made one rather feeble and unuccessful attempt to “sell” these ideas for TV shows. I would like to present, write, mentor or research any of them. But I don’t really mind. It would be nice to see them on-air, whoever and however it happens.

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The Empathy Delusion

Posted by RDN under Mind & body on 27 December 2017. No comments.

This piece argues that we do not have much empathy, and that even if we had more it would still be a very imperfect engine of moral or ethical behaviour.

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RDN on BBC Scotland on ads’ gender stereotyping

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / Politics & campaigns / RDN's media outings on 14 December 2017. No comments.

I had a lively outing on BBC Radio Scotland’s morning phone-in on the ASA/CAP’s crackdown on gender stereotyping. Without much thinking about the Quangos’ specific motives and proposals (I will maybe devote time to that exercise) I said quite boldly that whatever stereotypes advertisers promoted, I had never seen any that were more harmful than the culture-crimping, the dreary campaignitis – and, yes the PC Gone Mad element – of the Bossy Liberals who want to censor them.

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Jews and design in post-war Britain

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On art on 14 December 2017. No comments.

The Jewish Museum in Camden Town, London, has put on a revelatory exhibit: Designs on Britain. It’s about the works of Jewish émigré designers who escaped Hitler’s Reich to settle here. Their images and inventions contributed to the upbeat, the witty, the bright – and also sometimes the edgy –  in the day-to-day experience of British people. By the way, the show does not feature the most famous Jewish designer of the period: Abram Games was born in the UK (and has had his own one-man show at the Museum).

Hardly anyone, I think, realised or realise just how many Jewish people produced the designs which populated our lives back then. Because I can find no one-stop online bringing-together of this story, here’s my rather casuual and amateur attempt…

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Poem: Catching the light

Posted by RDN under RDN's poems on 22 October 2017. No comments.

Here, four moments from the 1980s and the 2010s provide the vignettes which I hope convey how an auto-didact skips and slithers, in a hungry sort of way, amongst the wit and wisdom of his betters.

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Jack Reacher: Mythic hero who travels by bus

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On books / On movies on 17 September 2017. No comments.

This has been been the sunny season when I lay on a lounger and read something like three-quarters of the 20-some Jack Reacher thrillers produced by the Englishman in New York, Lee Child. I think Reacher is a rare – possibly unique – type in the detective thriller, though it is quite common in Marvel comics and movies. In written form it is a story from over 3,000 years ago. It deploys the epic manner in telling stories about a mythic, and partly divine, figure.

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Grenfell Tower and the professions

Posted by RDN under Economic affairs / Mind & body / Politics & campaigns on 14 September 2017. No comments.

I hope that the official inquiry (and any other) into the Grenfell Tower disaster will discuss the role of professionals and professions in the failure to look after the safety of the residents. I rather doubt that vicious or heartless conspiracy will be discovered. But cock-up probably won’t quite do as an explanation either. In man-made accidents and disasters it is often professionals and professions that turn out to have lacked canny, energetic or brave diligence. The 2008 banking crisis displayed all of the symptoms. Well beyond Grenfell, I think there are several professional dilemmas which need to be stated clearly, and wrestled with. I attempt this below the fold. (1000 words, plus)

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BBC pay for Talent, and fairness

Posted by RDN under Economic affairs / Mind & body / Politics & campaigns / RDN's media outings on 24 July 2017. No comments.

I was called, but not chosen, as a potential contributor to a BBC Radio 4 current affairs show about the BBC pay disclosures.

Here, put simply, is what I would have said (with a bit of explanation below the fold):

The BBC ought to organise itself so that its senior current affairs presenters are better and cost less. Its entertainment presenters should matter less to it, and also should increasingly be more cheaply home-grown.

Also: is absurd for quite over-paid women presenters to complain that they are not paid as much as grossly over-paid males. No fairness principle worth the name is at stake in the women’s claims for parity.

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Poem: Looking up at an oak

Posted by RDN under RDN's poems on 19 July 2017. No comments.

Looking up at an oak
15 July 2017

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