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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Panem et circenses

The title of this post reveals the Latin quip (by the Roman satirist Juvenal, in his 10th Satire, 77-81) from which Suzanne Collins derived the name of her fictional dystopian country in The Hunger Games (Legal Eagle’s review and commentary is here). It means ‘bread and circuses’ and is part of a lengthy whinge where Juvenal […]

First star to the right, and straight on ’til morning…

    Scientists have produced a colossal picture of our Milky Way Galaxy, to reveal the detail of a billion stars. It is built from thousands of individual images acquired by two UK-developed telescopes operating in Hawaii and in Chile. Archived data from the project, known as the Vista Data Flow System, will be mined […]

The Hunger Games

I have just read Suzanne Collins’ series The Hunger Games. ‘Read’ is probably not the right word: ‘devoured’ is more like it. Once I’d started, I had to finish. As I’ve said before I think good writing has a “hook” which makes you want to read on, but also makes you think about people or […]

Cash for Canapes

Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas has resigned after secretly filmed footage showed him apparently offering access to the prime minister for a donation of £250,000 a year. He made the claim to Sunday Times reporters posing as potential donors. He said £250,000 gave “premier league” access, including dinner with David Cameron and possibly the chance […]

Knave of Hearts

Former US Vice-President Dick Cheney has had a heart transplant and is now recovering in hospital, his office has said. It said the surgery had been carried out on Saturday at the Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. Mr Cheney, 71, has had heart problems for much of his adult life, suffering five heart attacks since […]

‘Fascinatingly ugly’

I stole this from a friend in the Australian Skeptics (thanks, Jayson!) on Facebook, but it comes from a US zoo. Which means the original image has a decent number of comments underneath where people are guessing what they are. Everything from bats to snakes to ‘some sort of weird hybrid’ until someone turns up […]

Defined out – guest post by Lorenzo

[SL: Last night, I went to a debate hosted by the Edinburgh University Debates Union (sic), on the proposition 'this house supports same-sex marriage'. I was going to say that the Oxford Union it ain't, but that would be giving them too much credit. Let's just say that 'outstandingly crap' goes some way towards describing it. […]

“Under God” Since 1954

Rick Santorum is facing some awkward questions after footage emerged of a radical evangelical preacher opening a campaign rally with calls for all non-Christians to “get out” of America. In the footage, filmed at the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Louisiana yesterday, Pastor Dennis Terry told a crowd that anyone who doesn’t worship God should […]

Unequal Marriage

The UK’s largest Muslim body today spoke out in support of Church leaders backing traditional marriage, following the Coalition Government’s proposed changes to the role and status of the institution. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said that it agreed with sentiments expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury (in his recent address to the Council […]

Wills, religion and the state

A paramount tension in cases involving disputes over wills is between testamentary freedom (the idea that people are entitled to stipulate how they want their property distributed once they are dead) and, on the other hand, a desire to prevent unfairness. What happens if a parent leaves property to two of his four children? What […]