Editors’ Note

‘We believe that these diaries accurately reflect the mind of one of our outstanding national leaders; if the reflection seems clouded it may not be the fault of the mirror. Hacker himself processed events in a variety of ways, and the readers will have to make their own judgement as to whether any given statement represents

(a) what happened
(b) what he believed happened
(c) what he would like to have happened
(d) what he wanted others to believe happened
(e) what he wanted others to believe that he believed happened.’

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1981. The Complete Yes Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1991) p. 9


An inuksuk is a stone landmark or cairn built by humans, used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America.

Inunnguaq (which means “like a human being”, R...

An Inuksuk called Inunnguaq, which means “like a human being” located at Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

These structures are found from Alaska to Greenland. This region, above the Arctic Circle, is dominated by the tundra biome and has areas with few natural landmarks.

The word inuksuk means “something which acts for or performs the function of a person”.

The inuksuk may have been used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, drift fences used in hunting or as a food cache.

Mirror Box

The mirror box is a box with two mirrors in the centre (one facing each way), invented by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran to help alleviate phantom limb pain, in which patients feel they still have a limb after having it amputated.

English: A diagrammatic explanation of the mir...

The patient places the good limb into one side of the box (in this case the right hand) and the amputated limb into the other side. Due to the mirror, the patient sees a reflection of the good hand where the missing limb would be. The patient thus receives artificial visual feedback that the “resurrected” limb is now moving when they move the good hand.

Their hypothesis was that every time the patient attempted to move the paralysed limb, they received sensory feedback (through vision and proprioception) that the limb did not move.

This feedback stamped itself into the brain circuitry so that, even when the limb was no longer present, the brain had learned that the limb (and subsequent phantom) was paralysed.

To retrain the brain, and thereby eliminate the learned paralysis, Ramachandran created the mirror box. The patient places the good limb into one side, and the stump into the other.

The patient then looks into the mirror on the side with good limb and makes mirror symmetric movements, as a symphony conductor might, or as we do when we clap our hands.

Because the subject is seeing the reflected image of the good hand moving, it appears as if the phantom limb is also moving. Through the use of this artificial visual feedback it becomes possible for the patient to “move” the phantom limb, and to unclench it from potentially painful positions.

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Salmon skin is tougher than cow hide and has a natural elasticity which allows it to spring back into shape, hence its use in the fashion industry as cuir de mer or ‘sea leather’.

Top hats have been fashionable for almost 200 years, but when the first one was worn in 1797 by James Heatherington, he was immediately arrested and fined 50 pounds for behaving in a manner ‘calculated to frighten timid people’.

Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925)

Alexandra of Denmark, Princess of Wales, wife of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom

In 1778, the Royal Family and all of fashionable society went to the christening of 3rd Duke of Chandos’s daughter. But, under the glare of the lights and the weight of the lavishly embroidered christening robe, the child went into convulsions and died the next day. 11 years later, the Duke himself died when his wife accidentally pulled his chair out from under him as he went to sit down.

In the 1860s, Alexandra, Princess of Wales, developed a very slight limp as the result of a minor accident. This was imitated in sycophantic fashion by various ladies of the court, and was known as the Alexandra limp.

In the 18th century, fashion-conscious women plucked their eyebrows and glued on strips of mouse-skin instead.

Anathema [Noun.]

  1. A ban or curse pronounced with religious solemnity by ecclesiastical authority, often accompanied by excommunication; denunciation of anything as accursed.
  2. An imprecation; a curse; a malediction.
  3. Any person or thing anathematized, or cursed by ecclesiastical authority.


An involuntary state of mind which seems to result from a romantic attraction for another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one’s feelings reciprocated.

After a year of limerence

A photograph called ‘After a year of limerence’

In simple terms, limerence is a state of mind when you know that you like someone but yet at the same time, you cannot describe it as love.

Standard attachment theory emphasises that many of the most intense emotions arise during the formation, the maintenance, the disruption, and the renewal of attachment relationships.

It has therefore been suggested that the state of limerence is the conscious experience of sexual incentive motivation during attachment formation.


Akrasia, occasionally transliterated as acrasia, is the state of acting against one’s better judgement.

The problem goes back at least as far as Plato. Socrates, in Plato’s Protagoras, asks precisely how this is possible:

“If one judges action A to be the best course of action, why would one do anything other than A?”

In the dialogue Protagoras, Socrates attests that akrasia is an illogical moral concept, claiming “No one goes willingly toward the bad” (358d). If a person examines a situation and decides to act in the way he determines to be best, he will actively pursue this action, as the best course is also the good course, i.e. man’s natural goal.

An all-things-considered assessment of the situation will bring full knowledge of a decision’s outcome and worth linked to well-developed principles of the good.

A person, according to Socrates, never chooses to act poorly or against his better judgement; actions that go against what is best are only a product of being ignorant of facts or knowledge of what is best or good.

On a Biblical note, in Matthew 23:25 Jesus uses it to describe hypocritical religious leaders. The Apostle Paul also gives akrasia as a reason for a husband and wife to not deprive each other of sex (I Corinthians 7:5).