5 4 3 2 1 … and another one

Today will be one second longer than yesterday. And a second longer than tomorrow. Believe me, this sort of thing can be a real pain when it comes to doing observational astronomy. But at least it’s not as bad as adding 10 whole days, as Pope Gregory XIII did in 1582, when the existing Julian […]

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It’s an uncertain world

Earlier this year I commented on an opinion piece in Eos, the house journal of the American Geophysical Union. Communications consultant Susan Joy Hassol argued that climate scientists should avoid using words such as “anthropogenic” and “theory” in their press releases and public outreach material, and in effect expunge doubt and uncertainty from public debate […]

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Watching as the Middle East goes up in a blaze of rhetoric

I hope the Israeli politicians and military planners have a good endgame worked out. Military action to eradicate the threat from Hamas may be both morally justified and necessary to defend the residents of southern Israel, but like Ami Isseroff I have my doubts about what the operation can achieve in practical terms. The Israeli […]

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Hunting the hanky on Boxing Day 2008

Here are some photos from the Boxing Day 2008 meet of the Blackheath Morris Men and Fowlers Molly. It was a very cold day to be hanging around outside the local pubs, and with my trembling hands the camera work suffered. Click on the pics for slightly higher resolution versions. “I wish I hadn’t forgotten […]

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Israeli scientists use stem cells to reverse brain defects

New brain cells (green) induced in a heroin damaged brain by transplantation of neural stem cells(source: Hebrew University of Jersusalem) Medical scientist Joseph Yanai and his colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Duke University in the US have found that they can reverse brain birth defects in mice using embryonic stem cells. Neural […]

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Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei

We are facing our inevitable comeuppance, say a gaggle of Anglican Bishops in an I told you so attack on Britain’s Labour government, the buy now pay never economic policies of which the comfortably-lifestyled and well fed priests describe as “morally corrupt”. Immoral though the government’s policies may be, the criticism is politically naïve as it […]

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In praise of idleness

As a serial underachiever I am delighted to see the BBC celebrating my loafish ilk. I will always work hard and produce when others pay me handsomely to do so (Sedgemore always satisfies!), but am otherwise content to while away the hours with nothing much in particular. A hundred things one must do before the […]

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America pays tribute to Pinter

Of all the mass-media tributes to the late Harold Pinter, playwright of this parish, the best I have read is that published on the CNN website. Pinter was a truly great writer, and it’s ironic to find an American news network discussing in such positive tones the substance of Pinter’s art. With others it is […]

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She couldn’t have been evil if she’d tried

I wanna be evil, I wanna hurt flies, I wanna sing songs like the guy who cries. I wanna be horrid, I wanna drink booze, And whatever I’ve got I’m eager to lose. She didn’t, but we have. Eartha Mae Kitt (1927–2008)

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A seasonal aside (or two)

Returning this afternoon from a long, middle-age spread-burning cycle ride, I spun slowly past an anglo-catholic church infamous in these parts for its smells and bells-embellished sacrifices performed by a mincing queen with a goatee beard and taste for outlandish, sparkly costumes. Out of the church emerged an elderly gentleman slowly unrolling a reel of […]

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