Yuck

Politics is an ugly business and there’s nothing uglier than Messrs Howard and Davies scoring the easiest points of their miserable careers from the Romanian visa scam. They’re so in tune with the Daily Mail’s second-rate racial hygiene fantasies that it makes me nauseous. The apparent chaos in the immigration service is hardly encouraging (another… Continue reading Yuck

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Morton on Mars

I should have know that Oliver “Mapping Mars” Morton would have the edge on the mainstream media for the current blizzard of Mars news – and particularly for the breaking Methane story. Azeem directs me to Morton’s incredibly well-informed weblog which is currently running between 48 hours and a week ahead of the broadsheets (add… Continue reading Morton on Mars

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Water everywhere

My kids – before they’re my age – will know Mars better than I know, say, Tasmania or Patagonia. They won’t have been there but they’ll feel like they have. If they’re paying attention (unlikely), they’ll also have a pretty detailed mental image of two or three of our Sun’s other planets, submarine images from… Continue reading Water everywhere

Reports reports reports

In case you haven’t had enough reports lately, here are two really fascinating ones. One that got lots of press when it came out last week (including useful summaries from The BBC and The Guardian) and one that got approximately none at all a couple of weeks earlier. The first, The Barker Review, is about… Continue reading Reports reports reports

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The next Stella Vine

The near-legendary Paul Murphy has a show opening on 3 April at the cheeky Transition Gallery in Hackney (London’s Brooklyn). Transition hit the headlines a few weeks ago as home of notorious pole dancer-painter Stella Vine, set for international stardom since Charles Saatchi bought her small primitivist painting of Jade from Big Brother Princess Diana… Continue reading The next Stella Vine

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Tivo has landed

We’ve adopted a second-hand Tivo (why don’t the cable companies launch their own PVR? What’s wrong with them? Do they like being kicked around by Sky?). PVRs are supposed to change your life. Ours is weaving its strange magic in ways we didn’t expect: if the Tivo’s busy recording something, we’ll politely sit down and… Continue reading Tivo has landed

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Lovely money

Lots of handsome Bulgarian paper money from a huge private collection of old bank notes, bonds and so on. Bank note design is a fascinating collision of authenticity (not a forgery), accountability (‘promise to pay’) and aesthetics (National pride, solidity, ‘bankability’, history). How will a nation communicate these values once physical currencies are history and… Continue reading Lovely money

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A grim kind of hope

Is it perverse to hope, as I do, that the Madrid attrocity is ETA and not Al-Qaeda? If it’s the former, we can expect electoral collapse for the separatists (the last European hold-outs for a militant, colonial-era model of national struggle) and, hopefully, a final purge of their twisted, irrelevant ideology but, if it’s the… Continue reading A grim kind of hope

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Dyson, Diamond, Didion

Two very good reviews from the New York Review. Cheeky polymath Freeman Dyson on the paranormal and trendy geographer Jared Diamond on Easter Island. Two beautifully-written excerpts (first, second) from Joan Didion’s melancholy Californian memoir (actually, Diamond is professor of geography and physiology – how does that work, then?).

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