Notebook

'The Progress of Steam. A View in Regent's Park, 1831', 1828. Steam-powered coaches, horses, tricycles, including one with body like a teapot, are speeding along or blowing up and causing traffic chaos in Regent's Park, London. Aquatint after Henry Alken (1774-1851).

Is energy the god of progress?

American historian Henry Adams’ optimistic creed of progress and energy innovation foundered on technological forces unleashed in the 20th century.

Iraqi fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units) stand next to a wall bearing the Islamic State (IS) group flag as they enter the city of al-Qaim, in Iraq's western Anbar province.

Why Jihadis are drawn to Khorasan

An apocalyptic hadith inspires extremists across the world. Tragically, chaos in Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban will spur them on.

People wearing VR headsets watch films during an exhibition at 'AHSPACE' immersive live broadcast base in Hefei, Anhui Province of China.

The rise of the metaverse

The metaverse is on the way. Its utopian advocates claim that the next iteration of the internet will free us from the physical world. But Web 1.0 is a warning from history. It quickly became dominated by big business and government.

Horace meets other great poets.

Was Horace a town or a country mouse?

Romans – like the poet Horace – tired of the relentlessness of city life and depicted the country as a venue for retreat and relaxation. But they also knew that time in the country was made all the sweeter by big city moolah and achievement.

Dam connecting Dinard to Saint-Malo

Finding the future in France Profonde

Never be fooled by the bucolic France Profonde postcard. It exists of course, but not far away may stand the laboratory where tomorrow’s world is being imagined.

Gareth Southgate misses penalty at Euro 96

Football’s rhetoric of suffering

Today’s players and managers frame football as a process of pious struggle, vacillating between anguish and redemption. In the wake of Covid-19, can football maintain its self-pitying rhetoric?

Drunk and disorderly: Michelangelo’s Bacchus

Whether an inspiring portrayal of inebriation’s ‘divine madness,’ a study of alcoholic dissipation, or a controversial depiction of same-sex desire, the sculptor’s statue has divided both collectors and critics down the centuries.

A Lebanese protester chants wearing a mask from Spanish crime show 'The Heist'.

Goodbye, Bella Ciao

Bella Ciao has been co-opted by activists and corporations the world over. Does Italy’s most famous protest song deserve a beautiful goodbye?

Bandstand by sea and people

More than a bandstand

Derelict bandstands are a symbol of a lost age of Victorian optimism. It’s time to recapture their zeal in improving civic life.

man waves cuban flag on street

Cubans are losing their fear

The digital revolution has given pressed Cuban protesters confidence to shake off complacency. That ought to make the regime afraid for its survival.

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