Justice should be blind – but not bound and gagged!

I’m outraged to learn of a case in Texas where a man was sentenced to death in a trial where the judge and chief prosecutor had been engaged in an illicit affair for years. According to Salon: If anyone had any doubt that the Texas justice system operates in a parallel universe, look no further than the latest decision by the state’s highest court in the case of death-row inmate Charles Dean Hood. On Wednesday the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) said it wasn’t interested in examining whether there was a conflict of interest in Hood’s 1990 trial simply because

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First Jane Austen, now – President Lincoln???

Back in February I wrote about a new book named ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’. It’s a rewrite of Jane Austen’s famous novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who said at the time: “It quickly became obvious that Jane [Austen] had laid down the blueprint for a zombie novel . . . Why else in the original should a regiment arrive on Lizzie Bennet’s doorstep when they should have been off fighting Napoleon? It was to protect the family from an invasion of brain-eaters, obviously.” From then on it was easy to imagine Bennet and her four sisters as zombie slayers, trained

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When garbage disposal meets the Law of Unintended Consequences

It seems that Egypt tried to address a health problem, and wound up creating a worse one! According to the New York Times: When the government killed all the pigs in Egypt this spring — in what public health experts said was a misguided attempt to combat swine flu — it was warned the city would be overwhelmed with trash. The pigs used to eat tons of organic waste. Now the pigs are gone and the rotting food piles up on the streets of middle-class neighborhoods like Heliopolis and in the poor streets of communities like Imbaba. . . .

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Another daft airline seating idea

Back in August I wrote about a proposal for standing room passengers on commercial airliners. Now comes another idea, to cram 50% more passengers into already-crowded airliner cabins. The controversial space-saving design will see passengers sat face-to-face in rows running down the middle and on either side of the plane. The fold-down seats with a small table to the side will save on space allowing airlines to fit more passengers in and cut costs. Howard Guy, director of the UK company Design Q, acknowledges that some people will not be happy with the plan, but says they will be able

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The ‘Contract From America’

Back in 1994, the Republican Party gained the majority of seats in the House of Representatives with a campaign it called ‘Contract With America‘. The ‘Tea Party Movement‘ has now co-opted and adapted the name to a new project it calls ‘Contract From America’. On its Web site, the Contract promoters state: The Contract From America is the ultimate grassroots democratic experiment. The tea party movement has the potential of completely reshaping American politics. But to achieve this goal, we need to be proactive, rather than just reactive. The Contract From America project allows you to play a key role

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Why China doesn’t trust the West

I was cynically amused to read US Defense Secretary William Gates’ comments about China in a speech to the Air Force Association last week. Among other things, he said: “In fact, when considering the military-modernization programs of countries like China, we should be concerned less with their potential ability to challenge the US symmetrically — fighter to fighter or ship to ship — and more with their ability to disrupt our freedom of movement and narrow our strategic options,” Gates said in a speech to the Air Force Association. “Investments in cyber and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, and

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For those with more money than sense

I’m horrified to read a news report that a hairdresser in Britain is charging his celebrity clients more than US $32,000 for a hairdo! A celebrity stylist is charging £20,000 for a wash, cut and blow dry. Stuart Phillips’ salon in London’s Covent Garden has Swarovski crystal chandeliers and Japanese shampoo beds. Clients are not only offered a treat for their hair but they can have champagne on tap and order anything from the menu at the five-star Covent Garden Hotel just across the road. Clients flying in from Moscow or New York will be put up for two nights

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Feral kids and the problems they pose

The Daily Mail is running a series of articles on feral kids in Britain and the problems they pose in terms of crime, anti-social behavior, etc. Two have been published so far: Feral youths: How a generation of violent, illiterate young men are living outside the boundaries of civilised society Machetes by the door, drugs on the table – and mothers paid by the state to have babies with men they barely know. What HAVE we done to the British family? I highly recommend both articles to US readers, because the conditions they describe are very visible in our own

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Balloon creatures

The Daily Mail has published a series of pictures of weird and wonderful creatures created by New York artist Jason Hackenwerth, using only ordinary party balloons (which he apparently orders 5,000 at a time!). Here’s one to whet your appetite: There are more at the link. Recommended reading and viewing. It never ceases to fascinate me how someone’s creativity can take ordinary, mundane things like balloons and create art like this! Mr. Hackenwerth’s Web site is also worth viewing. Peter

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