Monday, 14 March 2016


The Stones sang “We can’t always get what we want” and that gap between what we want and get in life is widening. Tell people anything is possible and they reply “OK then - where is it?

One student launched into a rant when Christakis Yale was rocked last November by a row between some undergraduates and the Master of Silliman College over their demands that frightening Halloween costumes be banned. The Master said he wanted to allow free speech but Jerelyn Luther (above) the most vociferous of the protesters told him “to shut the f*** up” and added: “Be quiet! In your position as master it is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students that live in Silliman.

I checked Yale’s website but “comfort and home” don’t get a mention. This appears instead:  “Yale College provides a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual curiosity, independent thinking, and leadership skills.”

All the kerfuffle about free speech and “safe places” represents an expectation on the part of students that the Universities meet at their peril.

Driverless cars were in the news recently when a Google car had an accident with a bus. But the Wall Street Journal remains a fan of driverless because they tell us: “Taken together, the costs of automotive death and delay equal 2.6% of American GDP.”

My concern is going by this we’ll get bored. What’s next? A winter holiday skiing on autopilot, a book-free library - summaries of everything provided instead. I once saw the hilarious “Reduced Shakespeare Company,” three men preforming the whole Shakespeare canon in less than two hours. Is this the future?
Our expectations that technology will deliver a rich and leisure filled world are disappointed with more people working very hard.

Our expectations of the Arab Spring were, at its outset, generally high, as Palestinian businessman Munib Masri said in 2013: "I think the Arab Spring is the best thing that has happened in this part of the world and we need to give it time…

Yet now over 180,000 deaths and 6 million refugees later I don’t think these expectations have been met.  We are instead seeing, as Al Jazeera put it :- “the fallen leaves of the Arab Spring”. (Syrian Tammam Azzam is the artist.)

And finally those wanting to exit the EU also have great expectations. Here’s a typical view: -

 “We don’t need the EU draining away our self-confidence, stoic resilience and resources when we could do so much better as our forebears did, standing on our own two feet

I’ve tried to understand their argument but I can’t. I just don’t get it. When have we ever had so much collective wealth and created such amazing ideas?

Yet they have great expectations of the unknown. Perhaps they just hate foreigners? Perhaps they believe we could do better although history says not.

Paul Cook, the drummer of the Sex Pistols, got it about right when he said:-
Coming out would be like going back to little England.

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