Blackheath in lockdown

Somehow they managed to get past the first line of defence, being the intercom-controlled front door to our apartment block in south London. Once across the threshold, the only thing that could stop the rampaging band of Jehova’s Witnesses was a complete lockdown of the building. Only on this occasion they refused to take no […]

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De Botton on de buses

Further to yesterday’s comment on Alain de Botton’s Holy House of Atheism, I note that in the current issue of Private Eye is a spoof diary piece by the esteemed neo-philosophe. My typing fingers shall treat you to an extract… "The error of modern bus travel is to overlook the most profound needs of its […]

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A holy house of atheism?

My friend Anja was right to wonder whether the pop-philosopher Alain de Botton has taken leave of his senses, and is on the ball in her realisation that de Botton’s grandiose and grotesque plan for a “temple to atheism” in central London is an exercise in self-deification. I laughed out loud on reading Robert Booth’s […]

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Nutter on mushrooms

He is fast turning into a national treasure, is David Nutt, the UK government drugs advisor sacked for telling it like it is. Political controversy aside, Nutt is an active researcher into psychotropic drugs, and, television and press interviews aside, he occasionally does a spot of proper work. Which is just as well, in these […]

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“Ye cannae change the laws o’ physics”

With the IMF siren warning of a potential collapse in global civilisation, my attention is drawn to a press release issued by an obscure Austrian university. This announces the recent launch in Berlin of the splendidly-named “Bureau for Working on Intractable Problems and Measures of Higher Authorities” (Amt für Arbeit an unlösbaren Problemen und Massnahmen […]

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Everywoman in Brummagem

Celebrity scientist Alice Roberts – medic turned proper doctor turned researcher and anatomy teacher at Bristol University – is moving to Birmingham to assume the role of “Professor of Public Engagement with Science”. This is a well deserved appointment, and I wish Alice every success in her new job. She is an outstanding science communicator. […]

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Diving into the political abyss

Ed Miliband has been quick to defend himself against charges from trade union leaders that he has set the Labour Party on a path towards “destruction” and “certain election defeat”. I have nothing to to say about the politics, save that Miliband Minor has no choice but to face down Len McCluskey and his colleagues, […]

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A thrilling comparison

Denmark gives us Forbrydelsen (The Killing), and Britain produces Sherlock, the final episode of which was inflicted upon viewers last night. And to think that England once ruled the waves. Good actors (Benedict Cumberbatch – Cabin Pressure; Martin Freeman – Micro Men), crap writing that would do a disservice even to Dr Who, appalling production, […]

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London’s funky Syrians

While cycling through London this afternoon, I happened upon a small group of Syrians demonstrating by the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. The Syrians were only a few dozen in number, but their unamplified presence was considerably greater than that of any of the other competing attractions in the square, including nearby break dancers with […]

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It’s full of planets!

A trickle becomes a flood becomes galactic ubiquity. That is the message from astronomers who from an analysis of data from optical telescopes infer that planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception. The implication is that the Milky Way is likely home to billions of Earth-like planets. And the ramification of that […]

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