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Knife, Stone, Paper

Stephen Sedley: Law Lords, 1 July 2021

English Law under Two Elizabeths: The Late Tudor Legal World and the Present 
by John Baker.
Cambridge, 222 pp., £22.99, January, 978 1 108 94732 9
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The Constitutional Balance 
by John Laws.
Hart, 144 pp., £30, January, 978 1 5099 3545 1
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... Parliament for no recognised reason.In his recent Hamlyn lectures, now amplified and annotated, John Baker, the doyen of historians of English law, set out to compare the laws and legal systems of two reigns separated by four centuries and linked ostensibly by nothing more than the name of the incumbent monarch. But the ...

How Laws Discriminate

Stephen Sedley: The Law’s Inequalities, 29 April 1999

... The Early Victorian poet Thomas Love Peacock had noted the unequal impact of the Sunday observance laws: The poor man’s sins are glaring; In the face of ghostly warning He is caught in the fact Of an overt act – Buying greens on a Sunday morning. The rich man is invisible In the crowd of his gay society; But the poor man’s delight Is a sore in the ...

Wigs and Tories

Paul Foot, 18 September 1997

Trial of Strength: The Battle Between Ministers and Judges over Who Makes the Law 
by Joshua Rozenberg.
Richard Cohen, 241 pp., £17.99, April 1997, 1 86066 094 0
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The Politics of the Judiciary 
by J.A.G. Griffith.
Fontana, 376 pp., £8.99, September 1997, 0 00 686381 7
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... were happy to see themselves as Supreme Keepers of the Public Liberties. On the right, Mr Justice Laws called for a ‘higher-order law’ under which judges could overrule elected governments in the interests of the people’s ‘fundamental freedoms’. On the left, Mr Justice Sedley wrote: ‘Modern public law has carried forward a culture of judicial ...

Everything and Nothing

Stephen Sedley: Who will speak for the judges?, 7 October 2004

... under the rule of law then have no reality at all? At least one prominent modern judge, Sir John Laws, has argued that there are higher-order laws which even a sovereign legislature cannot break. In a sense this is theological: it is true for those who believe it to be true, but it can be neither verified nor ...
The Dancing Wu Li Masters 
by Gary Zukav.
Hutchinson, 352 pp., £4.50, October 1979, 0 09 139401 5
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... pure enchantment.’ But this neglects the fact that the relationships implied in the fundamental laws of physics cannot be represented at all concisely of precisely in everyday language, and have been discovered and analysed primarily in terms of special mathematical dialects that have had to be invented for just this purpose. This is the opinion of most ...

Among the Sandemanians

John Hedley Brooke, 25 July 1991

Michael Faraday: Sandemanian and Scientist 
by Geoffrey Cantor.
Macmillan, 359 pp., £40, May 1991, 0 333 55077 3
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... sect, the Sandemanians, and ‘believed firmly that in studying science he was investigating the laws written into the Universe by God.’ This is not the stuff of which arresting exhibitions are usually made. But if Geoffrey Cantor is right in his enthralling new book, the Museum deserves credit for placing the more familiar rings and coils of Faraday’s ...

Understanding Science

John Maynard Smith, 3 June 1982

The Laws of the Game: How the principles of nature govern science 
by Manfred Eigen and Ruthild Winkler, translated by Robert Kimber and Rita Kimber.
Allen Lane, 347 pp., £14.95, March 1982, 9780713914849
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... is true that a well-educated scientist will be familiar with a number of theories, from Newton’s laws to the central dogma of molecular biology, I do not think that this is the critical distinction between understanding science and not understanding it. I suggest, instead, that it is a familiarity with the ways in which systems with different structures and ...

Rain Gauge

John Kinsella, 19 September 2002

... hardy resistant trees, less salt in low damp spots – an adjustment in contradictions, apparent laws we apparently live by, bothering the gauge after sleep’s deliberations, blanks and ...

What Bill and What Rights?

Stephen Sedley, 5 June 1997

... proffered solutions of two apparently very different kinds. One, advanced by Lord Woolf and Sir John Laws, is based on a fresh paradigm of constitutional law – fresh at least in this country, though familiar elsewhere. It looks beyond the Diceyan datum line of a supreme and unchallengeable Parliament and asks where a Parliament derives its authority ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: John Reid tries to out-Blunkett Blunkett, 2 November 2006

... in its own mind the administration is now answerable to nobody at all. Only in his dreams could John Reid imagine that the changes that would be required to the present more than adequate anti-terrorist laws to enable the Home Office’s hitherto frustrated torturers to be let loose on selected inmates of Abu ...

It’s All Over

John Lanchester, 19 June 2014

... the thing that started to kill it for me was the refereeing. We have to be very careful here. The laws of libel might have been specifically designed to prevent a person from telling the truth, or the truth as one sees it, about World Cups and about Fifa, the organisation that runs them. Suffice it to say that a lot of very fishy things happened on the field ...

A Betting Man

Colin Kidd: John Law, 12 September 2019

John Law: A Scottish Adventurer of the 18th Century 
by James Buchan.
MacLehose, 513 pp., £14.99, August 2019, 978 1 84866 608 5
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... including banking schemes, plans for a special council of trade, new crop rotations and agrarian laws, as well as the Darien scheme itself, a chimerical project to establish a trading entrepot on the narrow neck of land separating the Atlantic from the Pacific. Before the 1690s most books and pamphlets published in Edinburgh were theological; during the ...

What do clocks have to do with it?

John Banville: Einstein and Bergson, 14 July 2016

The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time 
by Jimena Canales.
Princeton, 429 pp., £24.95, May 2015, 978 0 691 16534 9
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... for unity in the universe,’ Canales writes, ‘believing that science could reveal its immutable laws and describe them in the simplest possible way. Bergson, in contrast, claimed that the ultimate mark of the universe was just the opposite: never-ending change.’ Bergson spent a few of his earliest years in England, but spent the rest of his life in ...

The Judges’ Verdicts

Stephen Sedley, 2 February 2017

... of the British state. Its second article reads: ‘That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regall authoritie as it hath been assumed and exercised of late is illegall.’ For Scotland, the Claim of Right replicated the prohibition: ‘All Proclamationes asserting ane absolute power to ...

Fine-Tuned for Life

John Leslie: Cosmology, 1 January 1998

Before the Beginning 
by Martin Rees.
Simon and Schuster, 288 pp., £7.99, January 1998, 0 684 81660 1
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The Life of the Cosmos 
by Lee Smolin.
Weidenfeld, 358 pp., £20, September 1997, 0 297 81727 2
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... yet produce are trillions of times below the Big Bang energies at which the elegance of Nature’s laws stands most fully revealed. They therefore ask astronomers for evidence left behind by the Ultimate High Energy Experiment, conducted some ten billion years ago in an exploding laboratory. Before the Beginning is at its finest when discussing life’s place ...

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