Filed under American Law

The Last Days of Solitary

The Last Days of Solitary

This is a really disturbing documentary by the BBC on the US prison system, in which solitary confinement has become widespread as a last resort for dealing with violent uncontrollable prisoners. But for centuries they’ve known it doesn’t work, and in many cases makes prisoners worse. It also costs a hell of a lot of … Continue reading

Censorship in Charleston 1787

Censorship in Charleston 1787

In Shakespeare’s time, travelling players were considered akin to rogues and vagabonds so needed the protection and patronage of a noble to survive. In 1727 England passed the Chamberlain’s Act requiring theatres to be licensed to perform plays, to prevent the vicious satires against prime minister Robert Walpole. Life for travelling players was also hard … Continue reading

The Richest Man in All Christendom?

Most people assume slavery was the basis of most fortunes in Britain’s 18th century, but descendants of the original settlers also featured. Here’s a couple of pieces from May 1771’s Kentish Gazette: Wm Baker, Esq; one of the Sheriffs of this city, &c. was married at Spring Garden Chapel, to Miss Juliana Penn, daughter of … Continue reading

Centenary of Women on Motorbikes

This is a great story from last week’s i paper: A century ago, when the automobile was in its infancy and most roads were unpaved, two intrepid sisters from Brooklyn, New York, made a remarkable journey – a 4,000 mile trek across the US on motorcycles. Augusta and Adeline van Buren devised the trip in … Continue reading

Cats Scapegoated in Divorces

I am fascinated by this – in the USA there was en epidemic of divorces in which the reason given was a cat – or several. Of course there was a good reason for it. I am also intrigued that such a God fearing nation would allow divorce in 1848 at all.

Safe Duels

This is another fascinating piece from Atlas Obscura on the problem of duelling between gents. The practice was made safe by using wax bullets. I find this fascinating as it reminds me that England was not always the laughing stock of the world, but led the way in many improvements. One of them was the … Continue reading

US Nuclear Bomb System Still on Floppy Disks

This is from last Friday’s i paper. It should strike fear into all of us. Or perhaps it says much about how solid and reliable they are. They may lack volume, but they are a lot harder to hack into or interfere with short of them being physically stolen. If they ain’t broke, don’t fix … Continue reading

A Radical Priest, R.I.P.

A Radical Priest, R.I.P.

With declining church attendance, fewer of us are aware of the differences between the various Christian churches, especially the various branches of the Catholic church. When I was researching the history of South America, I became fascinated by the Jesuits, who founded missions there t protect the native peoples from slavery. Their group was founded … Continue reading

The Parrot Who Knew Too Much

Her’s another piece from JSTOR, about a parrot that may have witnessed a crime and could mimic the sounds it heard, which rises all sorts of questions as to whether animals, especially those with good mimicking skills, can be used as witnesses or as evidence in criminal trials. Talking birds can be highly intelligent, and … Continue reading