Does there really exist an “axis of evil”?

If you read the title above as having something to do with international security, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. This keyboard worrier wants to discuss something completely different today. For those remaining my subject is new evidence that a cosmological feature observed a few years ago by two researchers at Imperial College London could […]

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Line of the week

Former US Undersecretary of State Jed Babbin, speaking via satellite-link on Newsnight about the Syrian Ambassador to the Court of St James. Dr Sami Khiyami was sitting in the London studio, looking very uncomfortable and sipping lots of water. “I wouldn’t believe him if he gave me the time of day and it agreed with my […]

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Humble graphene reveals the secrets of the universe

It could even provide the key to world peace, love and understanding, going by the tone of a breathless press release issued earlier this month by the University of Manchester. I refer to research on graphene by physicist Andre Geim and his group, together with collaborators at the Universidade do Minho in Portugal. The results […]

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Flying the flag and jingling the bells

Today is St George’s Day, when England celebrates the life of its favourite Palestinian, and the national flag takes precedence over that vile rag the Union Jack. It is also the birthday of the national bard William Shakespeare. Looking out of the window I can see little reason to be cheerful. The south east of […]

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An infidel calls for Reykjavik Mean Time

Thanks to Steven in Monterrey I learn that Muslim “scientists” and clerics meeting at a conference in Qatar have called for GMT to be replaced with Mecca Time, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth. The clerics, by the way, include the esteemed scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi: friend of London Mayor […]

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Africa’s green revolution?

The Fat Man points out that Madeleine Bunting has what is for her a relatively sane article in today’s Guardian. While the piece may indeed be largely free of Bunting’s usual ill-informed tosh, it is at the same time pretty much content-free. Those who are seriously interested in the issues that Bunting singularly fails to […]

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If you cannot make yourself heard above the din…

I have often wondered if it’s just my addled brain misinterpreting the auditory sense, or urban birds really do sing at a higher pitch than their country cousins. And now – as reported by Ed Yong in a recent issue of New Scientist magazine – science has come to the rescue with an entirely plausible […]

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On the passing of a poet’s muse

Last week saw the passing, aged 92, of John Betjeman‘s muse. Joan Jackson (née Hunter Dunn) was immortalised in the poet’s “A Subaltern’s Love-song” from 1941: Miss J Hunter Dunn, Miss J Hunter Dunn, Furnish’d and burnish’d in Aldershot sun, What strenuous singles we played after tea, We in the tournament – you against me! […]

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