Michael Hanlon

All this airport security is utterly useless

Here we go again: another summer of airport fun. This year it’s been announced that due to a ‘heightened’ security threat, any Brit attempting a holiday abroad will be subject to an even grimmer ordeal than usual: body searching, shoe removing, laptop searching and endless grinding queueing. Expect it to take twice as long to

There’s a global morality gap — and it’s getting wider

First World, Third World, East, West, North and South; every few years economists come up with yet another supposedly more acceptable way of slicing humanity into manageable chunks. Mostly these great divides are riven by wealth; sometimes (RIP Second World) by ideology. But I think it’s time to name a new divide, a more fundamental,

Gibraltar isn’t the world’s weirdest border

Borders are fascinating places. The subtle changes in scenery and atmosphere as you near the limits of one territory and enter the orbit of the other; the way fencing gets higher and fiercer. Then there’s the shuffling of papers and passports, the opening of suitcases, car boots and, sometimes, wallets. The nervous sweat in no-man’s-land

Why soon we’ll all be vegetarian

I know some lovely vegetarians but could never imagine joining their ranks. Something about a life fuelled entirely by plants fills me with dread. The veggie’s world is a pale planet, an insipid facsimile of the real thing. Think of the fear all true carnivores have of finding out at a dinner party that veggies

Why do greens hate machines?

When George W. Bush last week stunned the world with his plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions, no one was more surprised than the green lobby. Human psychology being what it is, no one was more furious. It is not so much the scale of the planned reductions that have offended the eco-warriors: how could

There’s no time like the present

The world is, we are told day after day, week after week, going to hell in a handcart. After the most brutal, catastrophic and inhuman century in history, the new millennium has kicked off in the way it clearly intends to go on. War, famine and pestilence stalk the savannahs and forests of Africa. The


Another summer over and, once again, the question forms in my mind: where not to go on holiday next year? It seems a silly question – for the list, surely, is endless. There are all those places which have simply nothing worth seeing. The homes of light industry and flyovers, with no distinguishing architecture, scenery

Bark, don’t bite

Modern life is full of terror. We quake at global warming, Arab terrorists, gene-tinkered foods and rogue vaccines. New plagues from the East, our mobile phones and our railways all have the ability to induce panic. These are all new fears of new things. And all, to a greater or lesser extent, are irrational. But

Science & Nature SpecialAstronomy

One way to throw an astrologer into confusion – well, even more confusion than that under which they normally labour – is to find a new planet. When Clyde Tombaugh spotted Pluto in 1930, the third oldest profession found itself in a tizzy. So when a tenth planet, beyond Pluto, was announced a few months