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Hospitality is central to the restaurant business, yet it's a hard idea to define precisely. Mostly, it involves being nice to people and making them feel welcome. You notice it when it's there, and you particularly notice it when it isn't. A single significant lapse in this area can be your dominant impression of an entire meal.
We can all instinctively understand the idea of life insurance; most of us will feel an instinctive repugnance at the thought of the viatical industry, or 'dead peasants insurance.' As market thinking penetrated the life insurance industry, a moral line was crossed, and the application of market ideas was taken too far.
Rising inequality is not a law of nature - it's not even a law of economics. It is a consequence of political and economic arrangements, and those arrangements can be changed.
People misunderstand what a police state is. It isn't a country where the police strut around in jackboots; it's a country where the police can do anything they like. Similarly, a security state is one in which the security establishment can do anything it likes.
Often, in horror films, the single most effective device for building a sense of scariness is the soundtrack: the clanking of chains, the groaning of off-stage ghouls, the unmistakable sound of a cannibal rustic firing up a chainsaw.
For a while, I had a rule of no smartphone in bed, but now I've upgraded to no smartphone in the bedroom. The fact that we need rules shows how much these things have invaded our lives.
In my view, a review should be like talking to a friend who's just asked you, 'What was it like?' You're giving a verdict on an experience, not trying for a definitive last judgment.
A novel usually begins, in my experience, with a thought or image that won't leave me alone.
The deconstructed, postmodern pizza has been with us for ages, and the fact is that pretty much every ingredient in the world has been used as a pizza topping and liked by somebody, somewhere.
'Dead peasants insurance' is a term that sounds as if it comes straight out of Monty Python. If only that were true.
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Money is like poetry because both involve learning to communicate in a compressed language that packs a lot of meaning and consequence into the minimum semantic space.
In a democracy, people tend to get the kind of government they deserve.
'Fine dining.' I'd love to know who coined the term and whether they meant it to be as offputting as it is. The words evoke an idea of phoney refinement, of needless flummery, snooty waiters, and an atmosphere designed to intimidate the customer.
The truth is, it is hard to know where ideas come from.
Now that I'm an adult and have a big say in what we eat on Christmas Day, turkey doesn't even make it on to the starting grid for consideration. It isn't just my least favourite meat; it's my least favourite protein.
The Chinese are much too sensible to like turkey - come to think of it, I don't think I've ever encountered turkey anywhere in East Asia, either in a market or on a menu.
'Austerity' is a real weasel word because it's an attempt to make something value-based and abstract out of something which, in reality, consists simply of spending cuts.
I don't think quantitative easing is deliberately misleading, but I do think it's suspiciously bland and reassuring. It doesn't sound like anything big, experimental, scary and strange - which is what many economists think it is.
Inequality in the developed world fell for most of the 20th century; we can make it fall for most of the 21st century, too. But it won't happen without sustained pressure on politicians from electorates.
It doesn't thrill me to bits that the state has to use the tools of electronic surveillance to keep us safe, but it seems clear to me that it does, and that our right to privacy needs to be qualified, just as our other rights are qualified, in the interest of general security and the common good.
If we are going to remake society in the image of the fight against terrorism and put that secret fight at the heart of our democratic order - which is the way we're heading - we need to discuss it, and in public.
Video games are the first new artistic medium since television, but they are more different from television than television was from cinema; they are the newest new thing since the arrival of the movies just over a century ago.
Photography brought a lot to painting because it forced artists to think about what painting could do that photography couldn't.
I grew up abroad, and when I first passed through London in the 1970s, it seemed a drab and provincial place.
When I first travelled to New York in 1982 on a summer holiday as a student, I remember thinking how exciting it was, how energising it felt, and also how it felt dangerous - it was a place where you could make a wrong turn, either geographically or just in a human interaction, and suddenly find yourself in trouble.
I have sane friends, solvent friends, foodie friends, and friends who can take time off in the week, but I don't know one single person who ticks all those boxes.
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