Jake Wallis Simons
Telegraph writer. Novelist. Broadcaster. Also draws pictures.More >
"Meet the Settlers: A journey through the West Bank"More >
Jake's fourth novel, "Jam", is out now. "A skilful road rage novel" – The TelegraphMore >
Jake presents radio and television for the BBC and others.More >
Has been known to put pen to paper.More >
Twelve years ago, a promising, young politician rose to speak in the British parliament. “I ask the Government not to return to retribution and war on drugs,” he said. “That has been tried, and we all know that it does not work.”
He went on to criticise the government for “posturing with tough policies”, and “calling for crackdown after crackdown”, thereby “holding back the debate”. And when a vote was called, his was cast in support of “the possibility of legalisation and regulation”.
Meanwhile, 4,000 miles across the Atlantic, a fresh-faced Senator made a similar speech at Northwestern University, Illinois. “The battle, the war on drugs has been an utter failure,” he said. “We need to rethink and decriminalise our marijuana laws.”
Fast-forward to 2014 and both men – David Cameron and Barack Obama – are in positions of power over their respective countries. Yet while the United States has taken steps towards reforming drug legislation, UK drugs policy remains as rigid as ever. Continue reading on the Newsweek website
There’s only one way to start an interview with Joan Fontcuberta. Why, I ask him, should I believe a word he says?
“I like that question,” says the pre-eminent Spanish conceptual artist, when we meet in the café at London’s Science Museum.
“I believe that doubting is the first step to rational knowledge. Not doubting implies submission, which is dangerous.”
If truth be told, there are more reasons to doubt Fontcuberta than anyone else.
After all, this is the man who has pranked, dodged and bamboozled his way to the top of the art world… Continue reading on the CNN website
Is it OK to lie to your kids? It certainly used to be. Victorian children grew up in fear of the bogeyman and other horrors, which was intended to keep them in line; to this day, many parents use similar techniques, serving up porky pies at every opportunity (that’s Father Christmas shining in the sky, darling. But he won’t bring your PlayStation if you’re bad).
But now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found that children are less gullible than we thought. Not only are they able to spot a lie a mile off, but they also pick up when people are “withholding information”.
“When someone provides us information, we not only learn about what is being taught, we also learn something about that person,” said Hyowon Gweon, lead author of the study. “If the information is accurate and complete, then you might also trust that person in the future.”
In other words, when parents lie to their children, they lose their children’s confidence — not exactly ideal for the relationship.
It’s obvious, really. After all, adults don’t trust liars; why should kids be any different? Continue reading on the Telegraph website
Produced by Dunlop and others, it’s a golf tee in the shape of a headless female form. You place the ball where the head should be, and hey presto: you can both knock the bitch out of the park and drive towards the hole. Talk about two birdies and one stone.
As a red-blooded young man, I don’t take kindly to losing. I don’t much like coming second, either. As much as I try to hide it, I do quite like to win.
So it was that when I was asked to take part in a “taxi race” with two of my colleagues – one using a mini cab, another using a black cab, and the third using Uber, the new travel app – I put my money on technology, and quickly volunteered to use the app. With GPS technology on my side, surely I could not fail?
Harry Wallop yoked his fate to Addison Lee, London’s largest mini cab company. Joe Shute was left trying to hail an old-fashioned black cab in the street. The fools! We all know how difficult it is to flag down a taxi if you’re not in central London. We know how peeving minicab companies can be. And we know that smartphones are the future.
Mwah ha ha, I thought.
The race, which involved travelling from Highbury in north London to the Telegraph offices in Victoria, was devised as a test for Uber, which has been kicking up a storm of late. Less than five years old, it is already worth about £10 billion, more than British Airways, Easyjet, and even Royal Mail. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
I’m dreading Father’s Day. Not because of how my own family will behave, I hasten to add. If previous years are anything to go by, I’ll get some very sweet, handmade cards from my kids, a lie-in and perhaps a token present. Bliss.
What I dread is the deluge of products that are designed as Father’s Day “gifts”, all of which are underpinned by one message: dads are morons.
It is a little-acknowledged fact that society is saturated by stereotypes of men as beer-swilling, boobs-obsessed, barbecue-burning, homoerotic, football-crazy, emotionally illiterate, single-tasking, hypochondriacal, belly-slapping, belching Black ‘n’ Decker airheads, with stiff upper lips and stiff lower members.
No sitcom is complete without a character conforming to this stereotype. No radio or television debate about the battle of the sexes is complete without comments that support it. And Father’s Day represents open season, at least so far as the commercial world is concerned… Continue reading on the Telegraph website
But this year, a brace of new whiskies have taken centre stage, pinching several high-profile awards.
These “world whiskies” hail from climes not usually associated with the drink: Sweden, South Africa, Taiwan, even India. What could be a betterFather’s Day present for the chap who has everything (and is fond of a dram or three)?
“Many world whiskies have only emerged relatively recently, and many expressions tend to be young,” says whisky writer Alwynne Gwilt, also known as Miss Whisky. “Some people are put off by this, as well as the higher retail price. But give them a try. You’ll be blown away.”
It all started in March, when a Tasmanian whisky, Sullivans Cove French Oak cask, won the coveted title of World’s Best Single Malt Whisky at the illustrious World Whiskies Awards 2014. It was the first time that the prize had been won by a distillery outside Scotland and Japan (which has already become a leading whisky country, producing distinguished drams such as Yamazaki, Hakushu and Nikka).
This led to a renewed interest in whisky from Down Under. There are nine distilleries in Tasmania, and many of them – including Lark, Nant, Old Hobart and Hellyers Road – have won multiple accolades. Continue reading on the Telegraph website