Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

As Inquisitions go, the Spanish one went quite recently. The last garroting took place in 1826, with abandonment of the 350 year-old program in 1834. Portugal had, by then, put that sad part of its history behind her, while the Papal States, and their offshoot The Vatican, finally got round to announcing their Inquisition's requiem in 1908, and…

Roman Circus

"He is not the Messiah, he is a very naughty boy". Thus spake Mandy Cohen, mother of Brian, to the ignorant  mob besieging her home,  rejecting  their mindless veneration of  her son. Her statement would have been appropriate at many points in history - the world has had no shortage of false messiahs. The human condition…

La dolce vita

A headline on the front page of today's International Herald Tribune caught my eye: "Fighting anti-tax mind-set, Italy deploys new tactic: Shame". Given that this was Italy and that Italy is populated by Italians, the first thing that crossed my mind was, "Yeh..Shame they got caught". On viewing the accompanying photograph of a class full of  angelic children…