Effective Argument and Critical Thinking

I wish I had come across Oxford Guide to Effective Argument and Critical Thinking by Colin Swatridge when I started reading ferociously and writing to a lesser extent in the 1990s. Unfortunately, Swatridge only wrote and published it in 2014. I suppose that having not found and read it for the last five years is […]

Always Right

It has been nearly six years since Margaret Thatcher passed away. I was on my way to board an aeroplane from London to California. By the entrance door to the plane, there were dozens of newspapers on the shelf, with their front pages announcing her death. Looking at the iconic images of her, my heart […]

The Old Men and the Sea

In my early teens, I read the Chinese translation of the Old Man and the Sea. The old man, Santiago, left a fiercely persistent and strong image in my mind. Reading Ernest Hemingway’s original English writing this week, an intense sensation of strength and survival came to me overwhelmingly, together with the beauty of the […]

Churchill – Walking with Destiny

Churchill – Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts is for people who have an exceeding amount of enthusiasm about Winston Churchill. Its 982 pages (excluding extra notes) are certainly not for the faint hearted. Some time during last winter, this book was gifted to me by a very generous soul who truly understands and tolerates […]

Life After Life

Metaphorically speaking, it has taken me a couple of “life after life” to read this book. I started reading it in the Spring of 2018, went through multiple iterations of “pause, resume”. I hit obstacles (elsewhere), fell over and picked myself up, occasionally with bruises. Being clumsy or graceful, either has its beauty. Who cares […]

Compassion

Last Autumn, I attended Building Interpersonal Skills: An Experiential Workshop, organised by Susan Neville, Campbell Frank and a couple of other instructors, at Stanford. After this intensive program, one poem and one word repeatedly come back to me: compassion. To begin the program, the instructors read us Miller Williams’s poem. Sue was very kind to […]

How to Win an Argument

How to Win an Argument – An Ancient Guide to the Art of Persuasion is by far the best book I have read on oratory. James May translated Cicero’s words into enlightening and pleasing writings. Thanks to May, the rhetorical wisdom of Cicero is comfortably accessible to us all. The rest lies in “师父领进门,修行靠个人”. The […]

Meditations

I started the new year, 2019, with a long hike in the Santa Cruz mountain range. The air in the mountains was very fresh, compared with the uniquely peculiar “scent” of central London, which I merrily inhaled throughout the holiday season. Crudely stated, it was probably because of the exhaust from diesel cars and buses, […]

The Scaffolding of Rhetoric

In 1897, at the age of 23, Winston S. Churchill wrote an essay titled The Scaffolding of Rhetoric. You can read the original article here. In this essay, Churchill proposed six principal elements as the foundation of rhetoric. This unfinished manuscript appears to only discuss four elements in detail, with the other two less well […]

Ordinary Love and Good Will

Ordinary Love and Good Will, by Jane Smiley, is not a typical book for me. It nevertheless found its way to me at a fortunate timing. It was a recommendation from a credible source shortly before a trip. I enjoyed reading it very much when I was in the air traveling across the country in […]