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					                                   Societies
                                    Lent 2008


Week 2
*The Wine Society: Mr Michael Mackenzie, CEO of Jacquesson Champagne
The Paley Society: Mr Malcolm Riley, “Restraint in an Indulgent World”
*The Medical Society: Prof Graham Layer on the topic of breast cancer
*Wotton’s Society: Mr Jay Lakhani on Hinduism and science
*The Keynes Society: Mr Evan Davis, Economics Editor at the BBC
The Entrepreneurship Society: Mr Levi Roots, creator of Reggae Reggae Sauce

Events for which reports have been provided are marked by an asterisk.




Monday 14 January

The Wine Society: Michael Mackenzie, CEO of Jacquesson Champagne
The first meeting of the Wine Society this Lent Half was a joint meeting with the Wine
Society of St. Mary’s Ascot on 14th January 2008. Mr Michael Mackenzie, CEO and Co‐
Proprietor of Jacquesson Champagne and a father of one of the girls at St Mary’s,
conducted an excellent presentation and tasting on Austrian wines. The societies were
treated to a varied selection of wine, starting with four whites, progressing to two reds,
and finishing with a delightful pudding wine. The diverse tastes and different types of
wine (including a pudding wine, a first for the Eton boys at a tasting this year) made for
a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The wine and conversation flowed easily, and the
evening proved a pleasant social occasion as well as being very educational. With recent
meetings concentrating on French wine, it was most interesting to hear about a lesser
known wine producing country such as Austria, and the evening ended as a great
success.

                                                                  James Smithdale (CJD)



Thursday 17 January
The Medical Society: Professor Graham T Layer, Medical Director of the Royal
Surrey County Hospital

Professor Graham T Layer, the Medical Director of the Royal Surrey County Hospital
came to talk on his speciality, breast cancer. We had a good attendance, including some
students and teachers from St. Mary’s Ascot school. He discussed how treatment has
progressed and how things may change in the future in both surgery and screening. He
was very interesting and it was a very good start to the half for the society.

                                                                    Conor Rowley (JMN)


Wotton’s Society: Jay Lakhani (Hindu Academy, Vivekananda Centre, London)

Wotton’s was very lucky to have Mr Jay Lakhani to start off our meetings for 2008.
Originally trained as a scientist Mr Lakhani eventually ended up at the Hindu academy in
London and is now one of the leading figures in British Hinduism (this Sunday he will be
on the BBC 1 programme The Big Questions). The title of his talk was “Hinduism at the
Cutting Edge of Science”.

                       Mr Lakhani began his talk by observing how close together the
                       basic tenets of science and esoteric Hinduism are. To illustrate
                       this he pointed to the idea of the atom, originally a Hindu
                       concept. Developing on this our speaker outlined the next
                       advancements in Hindu thought. After considering a materialistic
                       model for the universe an introspective study of humanity
                       naturally arose. The conclusions reached were that humans are
                       neither body, nor mind; instead what underpins us is spirit. Being
                       non‐physical and non‐mental, spirit defies both intellectual and
                       physical proof, but this was not an issue. Instead, given the
nature of modern science – no longer the positivist model based on truths, but rather an
ongoing phenomenon – such demands for “proof,” are unscientific. But this was not to
be the limit of Hindu compatibility with science.
Unpacking the notion of spirit Mr Lakhani suggested that the only proof that can be
legitimately found in its favour is that of personal revelation. This rang true when
considering how different people have different worldviews and perspectives. The
components necessary to induce such revelation seem to be existence and
consciousness and thus they are key elements of spirituality as connected to the
aforementioned spirit. Now began the task of interlinking these teachings with those of
science. Mr Lakhani began with the conclusions of quantum mechanics, which
essentially he found to be non‐materialistic. The universe is considered not to be
founded on matter but rather on probabilities of existence. How these become matter is
a question of the presence of a conscious observer. In this way what underpins the
universe, according to modern mainstream science, is something that is not material,
but exists and requires consciousness – identical to the Hindu notion of spirit. The same
is true of modern neurology where consciousness too exists but not in a material sense
– it can not be isolated in a specific part of the brain, because the brain is merely a
conduit of consciousness. Something underpins both the universe and humanity that is
neither material nor mental – spirit. Understanding this notion can be done in many
ways – religion, regardless of type, is just one.

Mr Lakhani’s conjunction of modern scientific findings with esoteric Hinduism was very
well received and was followed by some pointed questioning from the floor. Our next
speaker is Mr Michael Proudfoot, a Fellow of Eton College, on 31 January in a joint
meeting with the History of Art Society. He will be speaking in the Marten Library and all
are welcome.

                                                                  Tristram Lupprian (CJD)


The Keynes Society: Evan Davis, Economics Editor at the BBC

Upper School was packed on Thursday night for a meeting of
the Keynes society, this week’s speaker was Evan Davis, the
BBC economics correspondent and presenter of the popular
TV show “Dragons Den”.

Evan Davis gave a personal overview of the current economic
cycle and said that there were innate cyclical mood swings in
all modern economies. History repeats itself and the recent
property bubble is no exception since rapidly rising prices
justify expectations and drive demand higher still leading to
an overshooting of the market.

The latest macroeconomic cycle has last over ten years and has been lengthened by two
key forces, firstly the internet and secondly the emergence of China as the world’s
dominant manufacturer of goods. The result has been deflation in the prices of many of
the goods we buy – from iPods to DVD players, from clothing to furniture. But we have
also seen a significant rise in the prices of many services such as restaurant meals and
the fees charged by plumbers and decorators.

Chinese deflation is now coming to an end as the prices of commodities are surging
throughout the world. The result is that interest rates have had to rise and this has put
the squeeze on those who have borrowed huge sums to enter the property market. A
housing slowdown or a recession is inevitable and this will be an important factor
behind the coming downturn.

A recession or a slump is not all bad news for the economy needs to re‐balance itself not
least in terms of people raising the amount that they save. The recent fall in the value of
sterling against the Euro and the US dollar may be the saving grace for the British
economy during this downturn, since a lower exchange rate will boost exports and give
manufacturing industry a welcome boost.

We were yet again fortunate to listen to a speaker who is extremely well informed of
current affairs as well as possessing a talent for speaking engagingly and informatively. It
was also pleasing to see a number of students from other schools in attendance, as well
as our own, demonstrating a shared enthusiasm to benefit from the experience of a
well‐regarded public figure, an enjoyable evening was had by all.

The next meeting of the Keynes Society is on Thursday 7 February when our speaker will
be Mr Jim O’Neill, Chief Global Economist at Goldman Sachs.

                                                                       James Webb (MJLB)

				
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