2006

The writer Brian Cathcart recently wrote a short priece for the New Statesman entitled A history lesson. It begins: Not many authors publish a book at the age of 90, and fewer still do so when they are already halfway through another book. Can there be more than one in that position, and who is…

Read More Brian Cathcart on my mother

David Farley has a piece in Slate entitled Who stole Jesus’ foreskin?. OK, we can all enjoy a chuckle about medieval superstition, and holy relics, and stuff like that. But the sophisticated types in the Catholic hierarchy would never take such things seriously, would they? But in 1900… Facing increasing criticism after the “rediscovery” of…

Read More And they wonder why some of us think organized religion is cuckoo…..

From the 2006 retrospective edition of Salon’s excellent column Ask the pilot: Speaking of things that never happened, how could we forget last summer’s liquid-bomb terror scare. In case you were living on Neptune at the time and missed the news, British police broke up an alleged London-based scheme to bring down several U.S. airliners…

Read More "Ask the pilot" on the "gels, aerosols and liquids" idiocy

From ongoing · JSON and XML: There used to be an argument about whether platform-neutral, language-neutral data formats were important, or whether distributed objects were the right answer. That’s over: HTML, XML, JSON. ¶ There used to be people who argued that network interchange formats shouldn’t be text-based, but use binary where possible, for efficiency.…

Read More Tim on JSON and XML

Seasonal greetings to all who are celebrating the longest-running holiday in the world. People have been marking this occasion ever since they were able to make calendars, and I don’t expect that to change as long as there are (moderately) intelligent species inhabiting the planet. The event has always been tricked out with various cultural…

Read More Happy solstice to all

Today, December 20th 2006, is the 10th anniversary of Carl Sagan’s untimely death. Among his many gentle – but uncompromising – admonitions, this was always a personal favourite: The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition. If only more people realized this…. Check out the Celebrating Sagan blog – part…

Read More Remembering Carl

I’ve got into a nice, relaxed pattern on Sunday mornings: I make a pot of coffee, curl up in front of the TV with the coffee and a pack of oatmeal-and-raisin cookies biscuits, and watch back-to-back English Premier League matches for four hours. It’s a nice, predictable, comfortable habit. Until this morning. First West Ham…

Read More A rude awakening