Much as we should be disgusted by their crimes, locking people up for a century will not make our country a safer place

Letter: Strong and civil

Sir: In your leading article (19 January), you assert that "social psychologists agree that one of the early signs of the descent of a neighbourhood is a loss of civility."

Food & Drink: Lies, damn lies and health statistics

YOU MAY have noticed that a large part of our information on food and health comes, these days, from statistics. In just one week, I have learnt - if I believe any of it - (a) that the price of pork in France is set weekly, by computer, (b) that 43 per cent of the French have their evening meal (not the main meal) with the television on, and (c) that smoking (reading the headlines, not the small print) takes 20 years off your life.

Letter: Popper's critical scientific legacy

Sir: Rom Harre's obituary for Professor Sir Karl Popper (20 September) gives a respectful but misleading account of his significance for the contemporary scene. It is clear that Harre would want to put Sir Karl behind us. But this is only because he stresses the 'rationalist' side of Popper's philosophy of critical rationalism at the expense of its 'critical' side.

Coales' Notes: The missing links: Gordon Coales happens upon an apparent creative void

MONDAY: A symbolic moment. Today I sat down again at my old desk in the Wormwood Centre - now re- opened, pro tem, as the Festival Centre. The council cleaners have been in all weekend. Iz has taken the office next door. And we have a few students who believe that they are gaining work experience. I will not say it is quite like former times. But there's still that unusual smell.

The unquenchable fantasy for the unattainable woman: British Sociological Association

AS RENEE walked away from the Four Tops, she was really helping to codify a man's potentially disruptive, irrational self. It does not rhyme very well, but the woman in the song 'Walk Away, Renee' was basically a means to hold on to self-indulgent yearning, writes Jonathan Foster.

Modern Icons

I'VE worked a lot in rubber and I've used gloves before but in a very tactile way. This piece, 'Marigold', came out of looking at the local funerals. They have amazing flower pieces that say 'Mum' and 'Dad'. But it was obvious that I should be more minimalist and so it became a colour-field work. I use materials for what they are but then they take on connotations. I'm very much a formalist but that doesn't mean there aren't other things going on here. It's that Shakespearean thing of the city being the beehive. I'm interested in the sociology of the street. The audience brings things to it. It seems to appeal to the Fifties housewife generation. The company probably called the gloves Marigold because they saw a flower-like image in them. The gloves are domestic and pretty and I like the way they grope the window.

Letter: Pop-sociology that caters to the ghoulish

IS THE Independent on Sunday now competing with the tabloids? I can think of no other reason for your serialisation of Alexandra Artley's lurid tale of 'real-life crime' (Review, 18 July). The author of this piece of sensationalism seems to have some odd attitudes. She even manages to be outraged that a member of the family whose tragic history she is exploiting should show 'rudeness and aggression' towards her.

BOOK REVIEW / I bar dullard sociologist: 'Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews' - ed Mike Gane: Routledge, pounds 40 / pounds 12.99

JEAN BAUDRILLARD must be the only sociologist, certainly the only post- modern French sociologist, to have appeared in The Face. He is big news, yet notoriously difficult to understand. Mike Gane's book is billed as 'a unique and accessible overview of Baudrillard's key ideas'. Alas, such is far from being the case.

Letter: Causes of, and cures for, criminal behaviour

Sir: L. J. Ray (letter, 19 February), a sociologist, rather contemptuously dismisses Dr King's suggestion (letter, 16 February) that genetics might have something to do with our present fearsome increase in crime. He seems ignorant of the vast amount of high- quality research that has been done in recent years demonstrating beyond question that genetic predisposition plays a very important part in producing criminal activity, in conjunction, of course, with environmental factors.

Education: Agonising over who'll make the grade: Donald MacLeod sits in with assessors who determine how many candidates will pass or fail their exams

'The purpose of this meeting is to attempt to maintain comparable standards for A-level awards,' announced Les Bolam, an Associated Examining Board examiner.

MUSIC / BBC Philharmonic / George Lloyd - RNCM, Manchester

George Lloyd and John Cage have a lot in common. Born within a year of one another (Cage in 1912, Lloyd in 1913) they both have ultra-loyal constituencies in the concert-going public; both could claim to have been anathema to the musical establishment at one time or another; and both stuck to their guns in the face of critical scorn. Both, in other words, have been sociological as much as musical phenomena - if for somewhat different reasons. Lloyd's Third Symphony is the work of an enthusiastic and gifted 19-year-old, with aspirations to melody and instant appeal rather than profundity. His Charade Suite of 1968 is subtitled 'Scenes from the 60s' and consists of extremely mild-mannered send-ups of 'Student Power', 'LSD' (a la Debussy) and the like. This music is hard to dislike - or indeed to have any strong feeling about.

Children sent to nurseries 'are more advanced'

CHILDREN placed in day nurseries are intellectually and socially more advanced than toddlers cared for at home and show no signs of emotional disturbance, a study published today says.

Obituary: Professor Ronald Fletcher

IN Donald G. MacRae's description of Professor Ronald Fletcher (obituary, 27 May) it is hard to recognise the man that I knew - a gentle and humorous man of wide learning and interests including music, writes J. Harvey-Rogers.
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