David Bouchier

Who can we blame for this extra hour of darkness in the evenings? Whose not very bright idea was it to push the clocks back just when we are all starting to get depressed about the coming winter? The answer is President Woodrow Wilson who imposed this ritual persecution in 1918, and the members of Congress who have supported it ever since.

Paul Vernon / AP

The golden age of magic coincided more or less with my childhood, which was lucky for me. Not only could we see real magicians at work on stage at the local music hall theater, we could even become magicians ourselves.

wolfgangfoto / Flickr

My ignorance about science is virtually complete. We had a tiny amount of science education at school: a little simplified physics and a little more or less unintelligible chemistry – literally unintelligible because it was taught by a Scotsman whose accent none of us could understand. I never learned anything more.

Charlie Riedel / AP

The driver’s side window of my car stuck in the open position during a rainstorm last week, so I drove rather damply to my usual mechanic. He inhabits a workshop in one of those areas where automotive businesses seem to cluster, rather the way doctors’ offices cluster around a hospital. It’s reassuring in a way. If one practitionar can’t fix your problem, the one on the next block probably can.

Ricardo Liberato / Flickr

Christopher Columbus, whose bold and erratic voyages we celebrate today, began his career as a trader and business agent. He knew the value of money, and he knew how hard it was to persuade people to part with it. His fantasy, based on a study of unreliable old maps and books, was to find a direct sea route from Europe to the Far East, where fabulous riches were believed to be had for the taking. As we now know, he was badly mistaken. A huge continent blocked the way between Europe and Asia, and Columbus sailed right into it.

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