English Learning in Hong Kong – cold weather

English Learning in Hong Kong - cold weather

Bitter cold weather has blanketed the Central and Eastern United States and it will stay in place for days into the new year.

Forecasters are warning people to be on alert for hypothermia and frostbite as the temperatures plunge below freezing. The National Weather Service reports that International Falls, Minnesota, plunged to minus 37 degrees Celsius, breaking the record of minus 32 degrees Celsius set in 1924.

Residents of Erie, Pennsylvania, on Thursday continued to dig out of the one-and-a-half meters of snow that fell earlier this week. Forecasters are predicting another 25 centimeters of snow to arrive soon.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo warned residents and visitors to take precautions against the “dangerously cold weather” as millions prepare to pack into Times Square to see the crystal ball drop as they count down to the new year.

Temperatures on New Year’s Eve are expected to be close to 10 degrees below normal in the Midwest and from Northeastern states all the way south to the Carolinas. This includes large cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, New York, Washington and Atlanta.

English Course in Hong Kong

English Course in Hong Kong – University Life

English Course in Hong Kong - University Life

Todd: Miki, you went to UC Berkeley, a very famous university in the U.S. What is your university like? Why is it famous?


Miki: Why is it famous? Well, I suppose historically it’s kind of famous, recent history, because it was a center for the freedom of speech movement in the 1960’s and the civil rights movement, and it’s pretty much where multi-culturalism, feminist studies and those sorts of so called liberal political movements were born and they’re still quite strong today on campus and so students kind of get drawn to that, the political aspect of it I suppose, also the, it’s a research university and it attracts nobel laureates, very famous professors, at the top of their field, it’s also quite a beautiful campus, I love the campus, it’s not, it’s not, how do you say?


Todd: It’s not like maybe a college town, or?


Miki: Ah, no, it’s not really a college town, of course, because it’s right smack in the middle of a metropolitan area which is the Bay Area, and just right across the bay from San Francisco. The natural scenery is quite beautiful. There’s the ocean to the west. There are mountains to the east and just beautiful gorgeous sunsets going down into the Golden Gate. The natural scenery is just beautiful, and the architecture of the campus is quite beautiful too, and apparently during the war, World War II, a number of tests were done on campus in terms of integrating floral species with each other, and so you have firs next to cedar which is a strange combination. The idea was would they kill each other.


Todd: Oh, Wow! That’s awful!


Miki: Yeah, no, so there’s some scientific engineering going on on campus.


Todd: But the trees survived?


Miki: Yes, as a matter of fact.


Todd: Well, that’s good. You can’t fool nature.


Miki: No. no, but it is a beautiful campus, and I went there for four years as an undergrad. I lived in the dormitory for the first year and I lived in the co-ops from the second through the fourth year and the co-ops are kind of a housing community that’s owned by students, it’s run by students and is there for quite cheap so it attracts poor students who work, while they go to school at the same time, and that’s who I was. I worked at a restaurant, I worked at a sandwich shop, I worked at a toy store, I worked as a secretary to put myself through school and lived quite cheaply in these co-ops which incidentally also had marvelous parties and almost every weekend there was some party somewhere that one of these co-ops was putting on, and it was really wonderful.


Todd: Wow! Sounds like a good time.


Miki: Yeah!


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Cantonese Lesson Hong Kong – Christmas Morning

Cantonese Lesson Hong Kong - Christmas MorningA light drizzle was falling as my sister Jill and I ran out of the Methodist Church, eager to get home and play with the presents that Santa had left for us and our baby sister, Sharon. Across the street from the church was a Pan American gas station where the Greyhound bus stopped. It was closed for Christmas, but I noticed a family standing outside the locked door, huddled under the narrow overhang in an attempt to keep dry. I wondered briefly why they were there but then forgot about them as I raced to keep up with Jill.
天上下着毛毛细雨,我和姐姐吉尔跑出卫理公会教堂, 满心只想着快点回到家玩圣诞老人给我们和小妹妹莎伦 准备的礼物玩具。教堂的对面是泛美油站,灰狗长途汽 车会在那里中途停站。因为是圣诞节,那天油站没开, 不过我发现在紧锁的站门外站着一家人,他们挤在狭小 的檐篷下,想尽量不被雨淋湿。我闪过一个疑问,他们为什么站在那里呢?但在我赶上吉尔 的时候也就把这个疑团抛诸脑后了。

Once we got home, there was barely time to enjoy our presents. We had to go off to our grandparents’ house for our annual Christmas dinner. As we drove down the highway through town, I noticed that the family was still there, standing outside the closed gas station.
回到家后其实根本没时间让我们尽情把玩礼物,因为我们马上又得去爷爷奶奶家共进一年一 度的圣诞大餐。在开车经过刚才那条大路时,我看到那一家人仍然站在紧闭的油站门外。

My father was driving very slowly down the highway. The closer we got to the turnoff for my grandparents’ house, the slower the car went. Suddenly, my father U-turned in the middle of the road and said, “I can’t stand it!”
在那主干道上爸爸的车开得很慢。越接近去爷爷奶奶家的分岔路口,车子就越慢。突然,爸 爸在半路中途来了个 180 度转弯,把车子原路驶回,他说: “我实在不忍心! ”

“What?” asked my mother.

“It’s those people back there at the Pan Am, standing in the rain. They’ve got children. It’s Christmas. I can’t stand it.”
“那几个在雨中站在泛美油站外的人。他们还带着小孩呢。圣诞节当前,我真的不忍心啊。 ”

When my father pulled into the service station, I saw that there were five of them: the parents and three children — two girls and a small boy.
爸爸把车开到油站旁停下,我看见那一家总共有 5 个人:父母俩和三个孩子——两个女孩跟 一个小男孩。

My father rolled down his window. “Merry Christmas,” he said.
爸爸摇下车窗对他们说: “圣诞快乐! ”

“Howdy,” the man replied. He was very tall and had to stoop slightly to peer into the car.
“你好, ”那个男人回了一句。他长得很高,要 稍微弯下腰来往我们车里瞧。

Jill, Sharon, and I stared at the children, and they stared back at us.
我和吉尔、莎伦盯着那几个小孩,他们也瞪眼 看着我们。

“You waiting on the bus?” my father asked.

The man said that they were. They were going to Birmingham, where he had a brother and prospects of a job.

“Well, that bus isn’t going to come along for several hours, and you’ re getting wet standing here. Winborn’s just a couple miles up the road. They’ve got a shed with a cover there, and some benches,” my father said. “Why don’t y’all get in the car and I’ll run you up there.”
“汽车起码要好几个小时后才到这里,站在这儿等车你们都会淋湿的。往前几英里就是温邦 站,那儿有个棚屋,有地方避雨,还有些板凳。不如上车我送你们到那里吧。 ”

The man thought about it for a moment, and then he beckoned to his family. They climbed into the car. They had no luggage, only the clothes they were wearing.

Once they settled in, my father looked back over his shoulder and asked the children if Santa had found them yet. Three glum faces mutely gave him his answer.

“Well, I didn’t think so,” my father said, winking at my mother, “because when I saw Santa this morning, he told me that he was having trouble finding all, and he asked me if he could leave your toys at my house. We’ll just go get them before I take you to the bus stop.”
“我看不是吧, ”爸爸边说边向妈妈眨眼暗示, “早上我碰到圣诞老人了,他说找不到你们,想把给你们的礼物暂时放到我们家里来。 现在咱们就去拿礼物吧, 待会儿我再送你们去车站。 ”

All at once, the three children’s faces lit up, and they began to bounce around in the back seat, laughing and chattering.

When we got out of the car at our house, the three children ran through the front door and straight to the toys that were spread out under our Christmas tree. One of the girls spied Jill’s doll and immediately hugged it to her breast. I remember that the little boy grabbed Sharon’s ball. And the other girl picked up something of mine. All this happened a long time ago, but the memory of it remains clear. That was the Christmas when my sisters and I learned the joy of making others happy.
到了我家一下车,那三个孩子穿过大门就直奔 摆在圣诞树下的礼物。其中一个小女孩发现了 吉尔的洋娃娃礼物,马上把它抱入怀中。我记 得那小男孩抓走了莎伦的小球,而另外一个女 孩就挑走了一件我的东西。这些都是很久很久 以前的事了,然而回忆起来还是那么清晰,因 为在那个圣诞日我和我的姐妹领会到了让别人 快乐而获得的愉悦。

My mother noticed that the middle child was wearing a short-sleeved dress, so she gave the girl Jill’s only sweater to wear.

My father invited them to join us at our grandparents’ for Christmas dinner, but the parents refused. Even when we all tried to talk them into coming, they were firm in their decision.
爸爸邀请他们一起去爷爷奶奶家吃圣诞大餐,但他们两夫妇拒绝了。就算怎么游说,他们还 是坚拒了我们的好意。

Back in the car, on the way to Winborn, my father asked the man if he had money for bus fare.

His brother had sent tickets, the man said.

My father reached into his pocket and pulled out two dollars, which was all he had left until his next payday. He pressed the money into the man’s hand. The man tried to give it back, but my father insisted. “It’ll be late when you get to Birmingham, and these children will be hungry before then. Take it. I’ve been broke before, and I know what it’s like when you can’ t feed your family.”
爸爸从口袋里掏出仅有的两美元,本来是我们要熬到下次发工资的,他却把这钱塞到了男人 的手里。男人想把钱推回来,但爸爸硬要他收下。 “等你们到伯明翰就已经很晚了,路上孩子 们会饿的。收下吧,我以前也曾一贫如洗,让家人挨饿的滋味不好受,我知道的。 ”

We left them there at the bus stop in Winborn. As we drove away, I watched out the window as long as I could, looking back at the little girl hugging her new doll.

Cantonese Course Hong Kong – I Got a Parcel

Learn Chinese Hong Kong – Give people gifts that they want

Learn Chinese Hong Kong - Give people gifts that they want

Do: Give people gifts that they want.


A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that gift-givers overestimate the impact of a surprise gift. In fact, the study found that people tend to appreciate getting things they specifically asked for more than unsolicited presents. Make your life easy and stick to their holiday wish list.


Learn English Everyday – Give the Gift of Encouragement

Do: Pick a gift card.


Gift cards may seem like an impersonal or lazy holiday gift, but surveys have found that they’re actually a popular pick among gift recipients. A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, for example, found that they were the most requested gift of 2015. Want to keep it even simpler? Other research has found that people are perfectly happy to receive cash as a gift, or you can buy people training courses, like mandarin language course.


Don’t: Give gifts on their behalf.


Making a charitable donation in a friend or family member’s name may seem like the perfect holiday gift: Your spending goes to a worthy cause, and the recipient gets a gift they feel good about. A 2015 study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decisions, however, poked a hole in that theory. While close friends or family members may appreciate a socially responsible holiday gift, researchers found that casual acquaintances often feel slighted by them, potentially because the selection focuses “on the symbolic meaning of the gift,” rather than on the recipient herself.


Do: Give gifts that reflect your audience—and yourself.


A series of studies published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology two years ago found, logically, that recipients prefer holiday gifts that reflect their own interests and hobbies. Interestingly, however, the researchers also found that “givers and receivers report greater feelings of closeness to their gift partner when the gift reflects the giver.” Sharing a favorite book, garment or keepsake with a loved one, then, may make the strongest impact in the long run.


Don’t: Splurge on something flashy.


It may feel like a faux pas to pick a holiday gift from the clearance section, but research suggests it’s the item—not the price tag—that matters most. While gift-givers tend to think their choices will land better if they’re expensive, research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology didn’t back that up. In fact, there was no clear correlation between present price and recipient satisfaction.


Do: Give gifts that will last.


Everyday items, like kitchen gadgets or wardrobe staples, may not feel like slam-dunk gifts, but a study published last year in Current Directions in Psychological Science found that people actually prefer presents they can use for months and years to come, rather than something that makes a statement right when it’s unwrapped.


Don’t: Dress up a bad gift.


If you know a holiday gift is underwhelming, it may be tempting to overcompensate with big bows or fancy wrapping paper—but data from Yale’s Association for Consumer Research says that strategy may backfire. When people got a gift that they liked, the researchers found, attractive trappings slightly enhanced the experience. But when the gift itself was unsatisfactory—a science documentary, for the purposes of the study—wrapping actually worsened the recipients’ perception of the gift, likely because their expectations didn’t match reality.


Cantonese Course Hong Kong – I Got a Parcel

Cantonese Course Hong Kong - I Got a Parcel

I got a parcel in the post this morning. I was really excited because I love getting the parcels in the post. I love getting letters too but I don’t know, there’s something special about a parcel, especially when you don’t know what’s going to be inside it. So I opened the parcel this morning and there, just in time for Christmas, and everything is a big huge thing of Toblerone Chocolates and Christmas cake, which I love and also, a six-pack of Tayto’s Cheese and Onion Crisps. Now, Tayto’s is an Irish company, and so it’s an Irish brand name and these crisps or potato chips, maybe as other countries call them, these crisps are absolutely the best crisps in the world. There is no competition. I think if you ask any Irish person, they’ll tell you the same thing, so there’re real, quite a strong flavor, I think but really cheesy, em, but it’s funny because I don’t, I don’t usually like crisps. I’m not a big crisp fan, but these cheese and onion Tayto’s, I’ve just finished the first packet and it really makes me feel, makes me feel closer to home, I …my friends, this is the taste ofhome. They’re so good. You should really try some.


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English Course Hong Kong – Canadian Winter

English Course Hong Kong - Canadian Winter

Adrienne: So, Lisa, you’re from Montreal. I think when I think of Canada, I think of cold. Is it very cold in Montreal?

Lisa: In the wintertime, Montreal gets very cold. With the wind chill factor, which is the scale to measure how cold the wind is, literally, it can get down to minus 25 degrees celsius at night.

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Adrienne: Wow!

Lisa: Yes, but it’s different than a lot of other countries that only go down to zero because in Montreal you dress warmly, whereas in places like New York or Tokyo or London, maybe you don’t dress as warmly cause the temperature doesn’t go down as low, but in Montreal in the wintertime, you’re wearing hats, you’re wearing mitts, you’re wearing winter boots.

Adrienne: So what can you do in the winter? Just stay inside all the time?

Lisa: Surprisingly, even though it’s so cold, there’s a lot to do in Montreal in the wintertime. Some great activities are you can go for a sleigh ride in old Montreal. Old Montreal is probably about five or six hundred years old, from around the time that the city was founded, and they have horse drawn sleigh rides. There are outdoor skating rinks, that you can go skating. It’s very romantic. You can drive forty-five minutes away and go skiing and go ice-skating or stay in little auberge, little lodges, on the ski hills or close to the ski hills. It’s actually really nice and lends itself to a very cozy winter cause it’s so cold outside and yet you can get nice and warm by the fire inside.

English Course Hong Kong – How do you like Canada?

Cantonese Course Hong Kong – To be a grandmother

Cantonese Course Hong Kong - To be a grandmotherAdrienne: So, Vivian, you have grandchildren!


Vivian: I have two lovely granddaughters.


Adrienne: Granddaughters! What’s it like being a grandma?


Vivian: It is a second chance on life because of when you are raising children as a young person you get caught up in the daily world, but with grandchildren it’s all fun. I don’t have to do this, or I don’t have to do that, and when I get tired I can send them home to their parents.


Adrienne: Right, that’s the best part, right? So what else is different about being a mother versus being a grandmother?


Vivian: Being a mother you are totally responsible for your child. You are trying to raise them the best you know how to raise them and you’re young and everything that you do you know that will be picked up by your child but when you have grandchildren that duty is up to their parents so I don’t feel that I have to really teach them anything. I have to continue the teaching of their parents.


Adrienne: So you get to do all the fun stuff now that you’re a grandma?


Vivian: Yes, it really is fun. They take you by the hand, and take you to the store and point out everything in the world that mom and dad will not give them and it really costs you a lot of money sometimes, unless, you do put your foot down and say, “NO!”


Adrienne: So being a grandma is more expensive that being a parent?


Vivian: Absolutely, but it’s a lot more fun because at this stage of life you have a little bit more money than you had when you were raising your child.


Adrienne: I see. That’s great.


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English Course Hong Kong – How to be a chef

English Course Hong Kong - How to be a chef

Todd: OK, Rebecca we’re talking about working in a restaurant. Now you became a chef. Can you talk about the process of becoming a chef? What do you do to get a job in a kitchen?

Rebecca: Well, there’s lots of different ways, but the most common way is to become an apprentice which means you go to the kitchen and work at the bottom level doing the basic chopping – boring jobs – for maybe two or three years, and then one day a week you go to school, a cooking school. Your employer pays for you to go to the school. You do get paid by your employer but it’s a really small wage, so, yeah. Otherwise, you can start at the bottom, like a dishwasher, and actually Australia’s most famous chef started that way. He just was a dishwasher and he slowly climbed up the ladder, so you can do it that way as well.

It is the best time when you cook dinner for her

Todd: So what about you? Did you go to cooking school?

Rebecca: Yeah, I did, but actually I dropped out after awhile, so I did that for about a year but to be honest I think you get more experience in a kitchen. Sometimes the stuff they teach you at school is a little bit old-fashioned.

Todd: How much actually of what you learn do you just learn on yourself, as just a creative process? Like how much do you think you learn by watching others and how much do you learn on your own, using your own creativity?

Rebecca: I think both are really important. Actually, I learned a lot from my mother. When I was a kid, I used to watch her cooking all the time, and it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized how much I understood about cooking just from seeing what she did in the kitchen, but also talking about how to do things with your colleagues I think is really important.

Todd: Now, I’m curious, you know how to cook, and everybody knows you know how to cook – family members and friends – so how… do you like to actually cook for family members and friends or is cooking a job that when you go home, you prefer not to cook for other people because it’s like bringing your work home?

Rebecca: Well, I know some chefs that have nothing in their fridge and they hate cooking at home, but I’m not like that. I really love cooking for people. It’s really the nicest thing you can do for someone is to give them a lovely meal. The sad thing is actually that no one will ever cook for me, because they’re too scared. They always apologize before I even have a chance to eat it. “Oh, it’s going to be terrible. Oh, you’re a cook. I’m sorry.” But actually I love food being cooked for me. I wish people would do it more.

Todd: OK. That’s funny. Thanks Rebecca.

English Course in Hong Kong – Dementia

English Course in Hong Kong - Dementia

If you are reading this article and it is not in your native language, then you may be on the road to a healthier brain. According to new research learning to speak another language can delay the onset of dementia by five years.

The research was carried out in a multilingual area of India. There, researchers analyzed the records of more than 600 patients to find out at what age dementia set in. Over half of the patients were multilingual. They discovered that the onset of dementia was much later for the multilingual patients. The results were not affected by factors like education level, gender or economic level.

The researchers theorize that bilingual activities require the brain to be in a state of attention. This intense brain activity somehow keeps dementia at bay. They are not sure if other similar intense brain activities such as learning a musical instrument or doing puzzles would have a similar effect.

I hope this gives you one more good reason to keep up your English studies.

learn mandarin hong kong – Healthy body

Mandarin Course Hong Kong – Do you know philosophy

Mandarin Course Hong Kong - Do you know philosophy

This holiday season, many of us will receive unexpected gifts. But Onora O’Neill, the British professor emeritus of philosophy at Cambridge University, has just collected a spectacular one: this week, in a swanky ceremony at the New York Public Library, she was awarded $1m for her contributions to philosophy by the Berggruen Institute, a research organisation based in Los Angeles and created by Nicolas Berggruen, the Paris-born philanthropist and investor.

这个圣诞假期,我们很多人都会收到意想不到的礼物。但英国剑桥大学(Cambridge University)名誉哲学教授奥诺拉•奥尼尔(Onora O’Neill)刚刚收获了一份大礼:上周,在纽约公共图书馆(New York Public Library)举行的一场隆重仪式上,她凭借自己在哲学上的贡献获得了博古睿研究院(Berggruen Institute)授予的100万美元奖金。博古睿研究院是一家位于洛杉矶的研究机构,由生于巴黎的慈善家、投资家尼古拉斯•博古睿(Nicolas Berggruen)创立。

Mandarin Beginner Lesson – When will you be having your holiday?

There are a number of reasons why this makes me want to cheer. First, there are not many other women of O’Neill’s age (she is 76) who are collecting $1m prizes of any type for their intellectual endeavours – unfortunately, in Britain, many other older female icons around these days appear to be either cooking-show hosts or royalty.


Second, it is wonderful to see philosophy being celebrated. In theory, almost everyone knows that the discipline is ancient and worthy but, in recent years, the main focus of the government and academic world has been on technical and scientific fields; liberal arts and social sciences have taken a back seat, not just in terms of college and school courses, but in the ideas we decide to reward. McKinsey, the global management consultancy, has calculated that there is currently about $350m of prize money on offer in various competitions and awards around the world – a figure that has swelled dramatically in recent years because a host of philanthropic billionaires have been establishing prizes. But if you scroll down the list of awards (including the “XPrize” created by Silicon Valley whizz-kids), most of the money is going towards science, medicine, technology, clean energy and so on. Until the creation of the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture (last year’s inaugural recipient was the distinguished Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor), there was almost nothing large that recognised “merely” smart philosophical ideas.

第二,看到哲学受到颂扬令人高兴。理论上,几乎所有人都知道,这门学科古老且值得尊敬,但近年来,政府和学术界主要聚焦于技术和科学领域;人文学科和社会科学被置于次要地位——不仅是就大学和学校课程而言,也包括我们决定奖励的思想。全球管理咨询公司麦肯锡(McKinsey)估算,目前世界各地的各种竞赛和奖项总计提供约3.5亿美元奖金——这一数字近年来急剧膨胀,原因是很多亿万富翁慈善家纷纷设立奖项。然而,如果你仔细查看奖项列表(包括由硅谷怪才们创立的“XPrize”),大部分奖金都流向了科学、医药、技术、清洁能源等领域。直至博古睿哲学与文化奖(Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture)创立——去年的首届得主是加拿大著名哲学家查尔斯•泰勒(Charles Taylor)——几乎没有什么大奖“仅仅”认可智慧的哲学思想。

But perhaps the most important reason why the $1m awarded to O’Neill makes me want to cheer is what she has actually achieved. During her long academic career at Cambridge University, she not only earned acclaim for developing brilliant treatises linked to the work of Immanuel Kant but, as the judges noted, she was also “exceptional in combining pure theory – particularly, but not solely, of the Kantian kind – with its practical enactment”.

但或许,我希望为奥尼尔获得百万美元奖金欢呼的最重要原因是她真正取得的成就。在剑桥大学的漫长学术生涯中,她不仅因对伊曼努尔•康德(Immanuel Kant)作品的深入研究而收获赞誉,而且(正如评委们指出的)还“在把纯理论——尤其(但不仅仅)是康德式的理论——与其实践相结合方面非常出色”。

More specifically, O’Neill has written books on justice and human rights, chaired the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, run the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission and now sits in the House of Lords, as a cross-party peer. It is enough to make your head spin but it also illustrates a bigger point: it pays to break down some of the silos that haunt our professional worlds, and to get academics involved in public policy (and vice versa). Indeed, at a time when politics is so tribal and petty – in relation to Brexit and much else – we need this more than ever.

更具体地说,奥尼尔撰写了关于正义和人权的著作,执掌纳菲尔德生命伦理学理事会(Nuffield Bioethics Council),负责英国的平等与人权委员会(Equality and Human Rights Commission),如今作为一名跨党派成员在上议院(House of Lords)担任议员。这些光环足以令你头晕目眩,但也说明了一个更大的要点:打破困扰我们职业世界的一些“竖井”、让学术人士参与公共政策是有好处的(反之亦然)。的确,在一个政治变得如此部落化和琐碎的时代(无论是英国退欧还是其他事务),我们比以往任何时候都更需要这样做。

O’Neill has plenty of interesting ideas to share. Take her views on trust. In recent years (as I have noted in recent columns), there has been endless hand-wringing over the idea that, in the west, trust is declining. O’Neill believes this is misplaced. “[People say] the aim is to have more trust. Well, frankly, I think that’s a stupid aim,” she said in a recent TED talk. “I would aim to have more trust in the trustworthy but not in the untrustworthy. In fact, I aim positively to try not to trust the untrustworthy.”


Instead, O’Neill argues that “we need to think much less about trust, let alone about attitudes of trust detected or mis-detected by opinion polls” and focus “much more on being trustworthy, and how you give people adequate, useful and simple evidence that you’re trustworthy”.


This requires better transparency. Another, less discussed, route to building trust is for institutions and individuals to make themselves vulnerable. Companies like Amazon that offer consumers the right to return goods do this: they build trust by making themselves open to criticism (and financial loss) when goods are returned. Online ratings on sites such as Uber and Airbnb do the same: they build so-called distributed trust by letting the seller and buyer rate each other. Maybe, O’Neill says, we should introduce this idea into British politics and government too.


But there is another key point: O’Neill believes we need to concentrate on the concepts of ethics and duty. This has gone out of fashion in recent years; instead, there is more of a focus on citizen rights and regulations. But O’Neill is convinced that it is impossible to cure society’s ills by simply imposing further rules. “You have this compliance mentality gone mad, and it doesn’t work,” she told me over lunch this week. Instead, she wants society to rediscover the forgotten concept of ethics – and to celebrate this.


This won’t necessarily be popular in the modern political world. But it is an interesting idea to ponder, particularly at this time of year. Perhaps it is time to put some of O’Neill’s thoughts – or those of any other modern philosophers – into our Christmas crackers. We could all do with a little more philosophy in the world, with or without a million-dollar prize.