Philobiblon: Bravery, danger and good luck

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bravery, danger and good luck

A politically brave revelation? Possibly, or perhaps huge numbers of women will respect her for it .. The leader of the Australian Democrats, Lyn Allison, said:

"An estimated one in three women have had an abortion, and I am one of them.
"Women are fully human," she said. "It is galling listening to the men, and it is mostly men, who have such contempt for women who terminate unwanted pregnancies, who have neither the compassion nor the understanding of the huge and, for many, daunting task of taking an embryo the size of a grain of rice to adulthood."
Senator Allison told the Herald: "There are plenty of blokes around this place who don't understand why women would do this. There are complex reasons why women need to make this decision … I wanted to send a message to all those women to say I'm one of them."

The debate was over the drug RU486, the approval of which should be a purely medical issue, but has been hijacked by the anti-abortion lobby.

And the good news is that the Senate, at least, has voted to give the medical decision to doctors.
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Thailand is by constitution a democracy, and is indeed in the sense that more or less fair votes are held. Where things fall down is after that, since the main aim of virtually all politicians is to be in office - where the rewards are - so after the election nearly everyone scrambles to line up with the winning side. But what happens when a man with a huge majority totally loses the support of the public, or at least the Bangkok public? We are about to find out.
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Then the perfect historian's moment. A vital original document from the history of the Royal Society has been found in a dusty cupboard.

The discovery was made by chance during a routine evaluation at the house by Bonhams, the auctioneers. The manuscript had been kept in a cupboard for 50 years and was only shown to the valuer as he was leaving. "I thought it must be too good to be true. The first page I saw was headed: 'President Sir Christopher Wren in the chair' and I knew I was looking at the vanished minutes of the Royal Society," said Felix Pryor, manuscript consultant for Bonhams. "Then there were all these names: Wren, Leibniz, Aubrey, Evelyn, Newton. Then I began to recognise the handwriting of Robert Hooke. It was a magical moment."
The delight of scientists and historians has quickly turned to anxiety, however. The manuscript is to be put up for auction in London on March 28 and is expected to sell for more than £1m, prompting Lord Rees of Ludlow, the president of the Royal Society to appeal for a "white knight" to buy the papers so they can be returned to the society's archive.

So if you've got a spare million ...

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