People quite often say that exercise is the new religion. They usually just mean that it is something people feel they should do, and do regularly.
In a poll taken shortly after the Oscars, the American actress Jennifer Lawrence was officially voted 'The World's Most Desirable Woman'.
A great many photos in the news are very boring. We almost don't notice how boring they are, we are so used to them. This is a very boring photo of Barack Obama.
Nastiness is currently deeply prestigious in the world of news.
Since his hosting role at the Oscars last week, John Travolta has been pilloried for his hair.
Alexander Lukashenko is an old-fashioned dictator of Belarus. He is often described as the last dictator in Europe.
Last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average started on Monday at 16,162.70 and rose and fell each day. It surged on Friday towards 16,400 but fell back to close at 16,321.71.
News organisations, and their audiences, are currently very excited. There may be a war in the Ukraine; it could be a big one, if Russia gets involved. There are troop movements on the border, apocalyptic comments from fierce bearded nationalists, intransigent outbursts from Putin and more weakness covering up as moderation from Obama.
In the past few months, Russell Brand has found a huge global audience for his radical views on politics and the economy.
There can be few websites more delightful than Airlinemeals.net. It's a site sure to be of interest to future anthropologists.
Andrew Ridgeley recently turned fifty. In the mid-1980s, he was one half of the world's most successful pop duo, Wham!
How do we eat when no one is there to see us? It's tempting to think that it's just a solo version of what we do when others are around.
Arts graduates across the developed world complain bitterly about the difficulties they are facing finding employment.
Interior design is, as serious people know, a bit of a self-indulgent and trivial topic, best handled on early evening TV shows or in the pages of inane glossies.
The disgraced TV and radio presenter Stuart Hall, who is serving 30 months for sexual assault and recently learnt that he is facing 15 new charges of rape, has suffered a fresh blow. Hazel, his wife of 56 years, is divorcing him.
Air crashes loom so large in our imaginations, we forget that most planes don't end up in a fireball. Their disintegrations are far less dramatic.
The Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was one of the world's first and best analysts of the relationship between money and happiness.
The journalists were invited into the White House Oval Office shortly after lunch. All the greats from the important French dailies were there.
The Italian luxury car maker Ferrari has just unveiled its newest supercar. Named the Ferrari California, it will cost 153,000 GBP and have a maximum speed of 200mph.
It doesn't appear in any brochures. It's not mentioned by tourist agencies or travel magazines. But it's quietly fascinating and almost beautiful nevertheless.
Unemployment continues to fall but if one gets more ambitious about human potential, a darker picture emerges.
There's been much talk, in the business world, of a planned but delayed $35 billion merger of two communications giants, Publicis and Omnicom.
Patek Philippe is one of the giants of the global watchmaking industry, with revenues last year of just short of 750 million euros.
At a recent Sotheby's auction in London, Wall by the German painter Gerhard Richter eclipsed the already vast estimate given by the action house, finally selling for a shade under 17.5 million GBP.
Emma Watson is twenty-four years old. She is in the public eye because she has made some films. But what she has to offer us is an example of positive character traits that have nothing really to do with the cinema.
A central assumption of modern politics is that leaders must be able to give people freedom to disagree. A prime minister who loses an election is supposed to bow gracefully to the will of the people, pack their bags and go quietly.
The agony of choice was a favourite topic of the Danish Philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard.
Our society gives us plenty of pictures of love. We think we know what the emotion looks like and search for it on the basis of what we have seen.
Earthquakes, cyclones, war, malnutrition, disease, crime, poverty, sexual abuse. It often seems as if it's not really news unless and until it's very grim.
Fashion is potentially a very serious part of life - but it has largely been abandoned to pretension, eccentricity and silliness.
It was a completely ordinary journey on an unremarkable morning. Passengers were silently fretting about their credit-card repayments, speculating about sex with someone further down the carriage, idly taking in the winter scenery, thinking about a sandwich for lunch.
Typically, we hear the suggestion that someone needs psychotherapy as implying that they are seriously disturbed or traumatised. Of someone in high office it sounds like a major criticism - a way of declaring them unfit for the job.
It's rare to think of the weather when it's being gentle. Few of us are like John Constable, who was so interested in what was going on in the sky that for periods between 1821 and 1822, he spent several hours each day on the slopes of Hampstead Heath, intently examining the moods of the weather.
Angela Merkel has just embarked on a third term as Chancellor of Germany - the most robust economy in the developed world and the country with the most traumatic political history on the planet.
It is easy, recklessly easy, to get ambitious about happiness; to imagine more fulfilling work, a more satisfying relationship, greater wealth, kinder friends.
We're deeply suspicious of the word 'consumerism'; it's become a stick with which to beat the modern world.
The postcard of Claude Monet's pretty and sweet Japanese footbridge has topped a survey of the world's best selling art postcards.
We are flying around too much and the planet is suffering badly.
If you are a single man reading this, you are most likely to have gone to a porn site three times this week and to have spent an hour browsing each time.
Michel de Montaigne was a sixteenth-century French philosopher with some distinctive views about education.
People look at one strangely if one makes a trip to the zoo without a child. Ideally one should have a gang of children, evidence of dribbled ice-cream and some balloons as well.
Jeremiah is one of the prophets of the Old Testament. He really had a terrible time. He was a decent fellow, but Jerusalem, the city that most mattered to him, was destroyed by the Babylonians.
The UK government, like so many around the world, is desperate to crack down on tax evasion. Too much money is being squirrelled away in tax havens like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands and the government desperately needs the cash.
Being 'nice' has one of the worst reputations of any of the virtues. It sounds like something you'd try to be only after everything else had failed and that doesn't require much courage or skill.
Most of the time, we have to be strong, we must not show our fragility. We've known that since the schoolyard. There is always a bit of us that could break easily, but we keep it very hidden.
Karen Lloyd died recently at 51 from cancer. She liked drinking coffee so much her family decided to commission a coffin for her with the name of her favourite chain.
Yuan Zhouming makes a meagre living polishing people's shoes twelve hours a day on the streets of Wenzhou, a large city in south-east China.
When 11-year-old Luke Batty arrived at cricket practice in the Melbourne suburb of Tyabb last Wednesday, he wasn't just excited about playing his favourite sport.
Media speculation continues to surround one the world's most glamorous couples. What is going on in their marriage? Is it going well, or is it finished?
It was an utterly normal night-shift for the 49-year-old minicab driver, Julie Sillitoe.
An endearing - and pretty normal thing - about Bridget Jones star René Zellweger is the difficulty she has making relationships work. She's had trouble finding a real-life version of Mr Darcy.
The Olympics have their origins in things people needed to be good at in ancient times.
Today, like so often, the world seems insane. We need perspective. We need to breathe deeply and climb high above the mantle of the earth, beyond the atmosphere, out into a place of unfathomable silence and majesty.
With a discrete but substantial security presence, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, regularly takes his daughter Florence to nursery school a few blocks from Number 10.
Right now, up in the arctic, in Northern Greenland, it's light for less than an hour a day. The winds gust at 200 km/hour and the temperatures never rise above - 20c.
Karl Slym was middle-aged and putting on a bit of weight - as one does. But his career was going well. Born in the UK, but working in India, he was settling into a major role in the global car industry.
It feels like there is always an infinite amount of news, so much is happening in the world every day. A newspaper could be 1,000 pages long and hardly scratch the surface.
This bowl of strawberries was painted by a Dutch artist called Adrien Coorte at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Coorte (generally unknown outside his native Netherlands) loved painting modest, everyday things: like loaves of bread, glasses, chairs and, most of all, strawberries (and pears).
US citizen Amanda Knox has just been found guilty of the murder, in Italy in 2007, of Meredith Kercher.
Bob Dudley, the Group Chief Executive at BP, has been airing concerns about Scottish independence. From his point of view, divorce from the rest of the UK makes no sense.
The real scandal at the BBC has come to light. It isn't to do with abuse of staff, swollen salaries, or sloppy editorial standards. For years, the BBC has wantonly and blatantly attempted to put out news without any bias attached to it.
What is news? A standard definition might go: 'news' is something that people don't know about, that matters a lot - and that has happened just now.
Today, dawn broke as usual over the mangrove swamps of Ecuador's largest tropical forest, the Manglares Churute Reserve.
We used to know where stuff came from. Our ancestors knew the history and source of almost every one of the limited number of things they ate and owned.
We want you to keep reading, but we also know there are times you should stop. The news is the best distraction ever invented. It sounds so serious and important.
The ability to post comments at the end of on-line news stories has revealed something unusual about our fellow citizens.
President Francois Hollande of France came to Britain to discuss aspects of nuclear defence and military cooperation with Prime Minister David Cameron.
She was painted by a Canadian artist at the end of the 19th century. She used to be strong and decisive. She had lovers once; she put her make-up on carefully and set out with a quiet thrill in the evening.
People living in pleasant rural towns across the South East of England, places like Chipping Norton and Ashford, are horrified by government aspirations to build thousand of new homes in the surrounding fields - to satisfy enormous public demand.
The Philosopher's Mail is a new news organisation, based in bureaux in London, NYC and Melbourne, run and staffed entirely by philosophers.
Californian chef David Viens and his wife Dawn were having problems in their marriage. He became controlling; whenever Dawn went out he wanted to know exactly where she had been.
The church of the fourteen helpers, in Bavaria, was built about two hundred and fifty years ago.
Ukraine is sliding into anarchy. The President, Viktor Yanukovych, was planning to build closer ties with the European Union.