News broke of the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya followed by numerous protests throughout the Arab World while Tariq Ramadan was in the United States to discuss one of the most important developments in the modern history of the Middle East, the so-called Arab Spring. One of the world’s leading Islamic thinkers, Tariq Ramadan, he has won global renown for his reflections on Islam and the contemporary challenges in both the Muslim majority societies and the West.
Who we are is a story of our self–a narrative that our brain creates. Like the science fiction movie, we are living in a matrix that is our mind. But though the self is an illusion, it is an illusion we must continue to embrace to live happily in human society. In The Self Illusion, Bruce Hood reveals how the self emerges during childhood and how the architecture of the developing brain enables us to become social animals dependent on each other.
What is cheating? What drug compounds for performance enhancement are legal and why? Why do the sports drug classification systems change all the time? If all the chemical were legal, what effect would this have on sport? Biochemist and author Chris Cooper explores the biological, moral, political, and ethical issues involved in controlling drug use in sports.
Climate change is a major topic of concern today, scientifically, socially, and politically. But the Earth’s climate has continuously altered over its 4.5 billion-year history. Geologists are becoming ever more ingenious at interrogating this baffling, puzzling, infuriating, tantalizing, and seemingly contradictory evidence. The story of the Earth’s climate is now being reconstructed in ever-greater detail — maybe even providing us with clues to the future of contemporary climate change. Below, you can listen to Dr Jan Zalasiewicz and Dr Mark Williams talk about the topics raised in their book The Goldilocks Planet: The four billion year story of Earths Climate.
What does the future hold for those in the law profession? In this interview, Martin Partington talks to fellow OUP author Richard Susskind OBE about how the legal profession will develop over the next few years, addressing the changes and challenges that could affect lawyers in the future.
Recently, Professor Ian Sheldon spoke with three eminent economists about some key economic issues of the day, including the views of Professor Robert Hall of Stanford University on the current slow recovery of the US economy; University of Queensland Professor John Quiggin’s thoughts on climate change and policy; and World Bank economist Dr Martin Ravallion’s recent findings on poverty and economic growth.
Neutrinos: what are they and why does nature need them? In a recent lecture Professor Frank Close gave an overview of the discovery of neutrinos, discussing how we are becoming increasingly aware of their significance and speculating over ways in which we may utilise them.
Below, you can listen to Professor Peter Atkins of Lincoln College, Oxford, talk about On Being: A Scientist’s Exploration of the Great Questions of Existence. This podcast is recorded by the Oxfordshire Branch of the British Science Association, whose regular SciBars podcasts can be found here.
Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighbourhood, the lives of Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and upside down.
As our nation’s birthday approaches, The Oxford Comment pays tribute to an institution that has influenced American identity from the very beginning: the bar. Over lunch at The Ginger Man in New York City, Christine Sismondo discusses American vs. Canadian drinking culture (can you guess whose is better?) and why prohibition doesn’t actually increase drinking.
The world recoiled when the gay community started receiving credit for its influence in fashion and culture, but at least, according to Christopher Reed, they were being acknowledged. In his new book Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas, Reed argues that for some time, the professional art world plain ignored the gay presence.
We had the chance to speak with Reed a few weeks back at his Williams Club talk, where he laid out the tumultuous relationship between art and activism. Below we present a few of the controversial things we learned.
Are Israel and the United States still a dynamic duo? According to Daniel Byman the debate isn’t about whether or not the United States should support Israel, but how we can encourage them with “tough support.”
The Oxford Comment speaks with a teenage crossword genius and then takes you on a tour of the OED archive.
The most famous of all vampire stories, Dracula is a mirror of its age, its underlying themes of race, religion, science, superstition, and sexuality never far from the surface. Here is a sequence of podcasts with Roger Luckhurst, who has edited a new edition of Dracula for Oxford World’s Classics, recorded by George Miller of Podularity.
This week sees the release of the 125th episode of the biography podcast from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. To mark the occasion we’re telling the life story of the author George Orwell (1903-50) in a special 30-minute episode. Every fortnight since 2007, the podcast has provided a single biography—drawn from the pages of the ODNB—which introduces new audiences to some of the shapers of British history, society, and culture.
By George Walden
Everything about Otto von Bismarck was off the scale: his rages, his disloyalty, his mendacity, his gargantuan appetite and his colossal chamber pots. So, too, was the political genius of the greatest, if least lovable, statesman 19th-century Europe had to offer.