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gavell

Punishment is not compensation

One of the most significant Supreme Court cases of the recent past was settled by a substantial majority on the court including the two swing votes then in place (Kennedy, who wrote the decision, and O’Connor), joined by one of the conservatives (Rehnquist and three of the liberals (Stevens, Souter and Breyer). Only two of […]

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Six impossible things before breakfast

In “Alice through the Looking Glass”, the White Queen commends the ability to believe the impossible, and claims once to have believed six impossible things before breakfast [link]. I fear that the Daily Telegraph may be developing the same skill. Yesterday I was struck by the “Business Comment” column by Ben Wright [link]. He covered two topics.  […]

Ed-Miliband

EU in the UK, and the decline of Labour

Labours grip on its core vote was loosened further by the Heywood and Middleton by-election results. Had three thousand conservative voters in the constituency not split the vote, Labour would have been on the receiving end of their biggest by election blow in decades. With Labour doing very badly in the European Election and with […]

gavell

Punishment is not compensation

One of the most significant Supreme Court cases of the recent past was settled by a substantial majority on the court including the two swing votes then in place (Kennedy, who wrote the decision, and O’Connor), joined by one of the conservatives (Rehnquist and three of the liberals (Stevens, Souter and Breyer). Only two of […]

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Should we welcome synthetic meat?

The cultivation of crops and the domestication of animals were two of the breakthrough technologies for our species. They marked the move from hunter-gatherers to settled and nomadic communities. Other breakthroughs – the bucket and the plow, for example, which enabled farmers to produce surplus, and thus for some people to be something other than […]

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Our posthuman future

“If I had asked people what they wanted,” Henry Ford once observed, “they would have asked for faster horses”.  For the same reason, Steve Jobs never bothered with market research. He didn’t need to know what people wanted. He invented things that they would want if they knew what they could do with them. Sometimes […]

More recent articles:

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You can’t get away with it any more

On Christmas Day 2009 your columnist was on Northwest Airlines flight 253 onto which Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab had smuggled explosives in his underpants. Fortunately, we were able to overpower him and save the plane . . .  actually, my wife has just corrected me. We were, in fact, waiting for a flight out of Detroit […]

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Bargaining away your rights

The Law and Order franchise is set in New York. Very often prosecutors negotiate for a guilty plea by offering to lower the charge from Murder One to something less to, as they put it, “take death off the table”. I am still waiting for a defendant to respond, “well, there hasn’t been an execution […]

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Not what the country needs

Education is a good thing, right? And making stuff ‘free’ ought to be popular, right? So making community college ‘free’ should be both beneficial and popular? But  nothing the government does is free. If something – schools, roads, whatever – is made free at the point of use, that simply means it is being paid […]

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