Eastleigh by-election: sorry, but Ukip aren’t going to win

It’s as though Nate Silver never existed, it really is. Michael Crick, the Channel 4 News political correspondent, tweeted a little while ago: “From talking to more voters today I increasingly think UKIP could pull of a surprise victory in Eastleigh. They will certainly do very well”. No doubt they will do very well, for…

Suddenly, The Six Million Dollar Man doesn’t seem so far-fetched

The history of humanity is a history of self-improvement. The bare human form is weak and furless and vulnerable – but, clothed and armed and tooled, it is the only complex species that can live in environments from desert to Arctic tundra, via rainforests, African plains and Walthamstow. From hand-axes to laser scalpels, bronze daggers…

The fandom menace: why geeks don’t put up with plot holes

From Friday’s paper: It was a military fiasco. A lost opportunity to destroy the insurgent enemy, a catalogue of tactical and strategic blunders, a spectacular example of how to play a winning hand badly. Careful analysis of the approach reveals the mistakes: inadequate air cover; placing high-value officers needlessly in the way of danger, preventing…

Dresden deserves to be remembered

It’s the 68th anniversary of the Dresden bombing. In Britain, we don’t think about it as much as, perhaps, we should. The bare facts. More than 1,200 RAF and USAAF bombers attacked the city between the 13th and 15th of February 1945, in four raids. They dropped 3,900 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs,…

Charles Darwin: the man who had history’s best idea

It’s Charles Darwin’s birthday today  – the great man is 204 years young – and I thought we ought to mark it in some way, because, I think, he has a very good shout for being history’s most important thinker, or at least for having had history’s single greatest idea. You may disagree: you may…

Why I love Jamie Carragher

Jamie Carragher is to retire from professional football at the end of the season. I am genuinely sad about this. Obviously, as befits someone who grew up in Oxford to parents from Cheshire and Cambridge, I am a Liverpool FC fan. I can’t pretend to be the greatest supporter – I’ve only been to Anfield…

Why David Foster Wallace would be in favour of telling Middlesbrough schoolkids to stop saying ‘nowt’

There’s no such thing as “correct” English. It’s not even a coherent concept, really. the language changes, evolving from common ancestors with French and German; the version I speak is a particular subspecies, United Kingdom Standard English, of the broader species “English”, itself a strange hybrid of the genera “Romance languages” and “Germanic languages”. What…

Let’s sign up to an age of Tory enlightenment

From Wednesday’s paper: Mr Cameron’s fearless support of gay marriage merits backing from even his deadliest foes The same-sex marriage issue has split the Conservative Party. That’s been well documented. What has been less well documented is that it poses a problem for liberals, as well. I wrote something for our website yesterday, arguing that those…