World’s oldest cookbook?

The Daily Mail reports that a cookbook dating back to the time of Richard II (1367-1400) has been discovered. Dishes of chicken blancmange and porpoise porridge are unlikely to whet the appetite of most modern food lovers. But such recipes were apparently fit for a king 600 years ago. . . . Experts from Manchester University’s John Rylands Library, who discovered the manuscript, have translated a handful of its 150 recipes, which are written in Middle English and date back to 1390. They include frumenty, a porridge-type dish made of bulghar wheat, chicken stock and saffron, and payn puff, a

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The wackier side of politics

There’s been a bumper crop of political silliness in the headlines over the past few days. First, via Rodney Balko, we learn of a candidate for the office of Mayor in Minneapolis who’s a bit off the beaten track. Among the 11 people who want to be mayor of Minneapolis are three people who claim Democratic Farmer-Labor allegiances, one Socialist Worker’s Party candidate, a Libertarian and a man from something called the Edgertonite Party … Electoral politics in Minnesota have never been dull. Then there is the fledgling candidacy of one Joey Lombard, a 22-year-old unemployed musician who lists his

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Looks like some veterinary surgeons aren’t to be trusted

The Daily Mail has published an exposé of the shabby tricks of some English veterinary surgeons. Anyone care to bet the same tricks aren’t practiced here in the USA? Having had a comprehensive school education, I went into [veterinary surgery] because I was fascinated by biology and genuinely wanted to help animals. And although my parents had good jobs – my mother was a nurse and my father a radiographer – I was the first person in my family to go to university, and understandably my family was incredibly proud of my achievement. So, despite the doubts already beginning to

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A hugely important Web site

The Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific institution, has made available on a special Web site sixty of its most historic and profound documents. These are of incalculable importance to anyone interested in the history of knowledge, and particularly to anyone involved with education (even if it’s only wanting to make sure your own kids get a decent one!). The Daily Mail reports: Landmark moments in the history of science, from a grisly early blood transfusion to Stephen Hawking’s theories about black holes, have been celebrated online today to mark the 350th birthday of the Royal Society. For the first

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The ‘Bad Sex In Fiction’ award for 2009

The Bad Sex In Fiction Competition was inaugurated by the British Literary Review in 1993. According to its Web site: The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award was inaugurated by Auberon Waugh in 1993 to ‘draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it’. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature, and is limited to the literary novel. The nominees, and the passages for which they were nominated, can be read at the Web site. Scroll down that page to

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HIV-positive soldiers and active duty?

I note with real concern that the South African Army is allowing HIV-positive soldiers to go on active duty as peacekeepers – in other words, in combat zones. The BBC reports: A staggering 30% of South African soldiers are infected with the Aids virus. . . . After a test case brought by one of South Africa’s military unions and the Aids Law Project, the government reviewed the evidence and agreed that in certain circumstances HIV-positive soldiers can be deployed overseas if they pass a battery of some 39 fitness tests. “It means people who [have] HIV who are for

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Dry run for terrorists?

Old NFO has a very worrying report on his blog about what appears to have been a ‘dry run’ or test by wannabe terrorists on a US airliner. Go read, and ponder. Has anyone had similar experiences? If so, please let us know in Comments. Peter

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