Flat Earth

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So easy to say

IF 1998 was anything, it was the year of saying "Sorry", and assuming that the apology made everything better. At the end of December this reached its logical conclusion: if Bill Clinton can say "Let's forget slavery", reasoned Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, why can't we say "Let bygones be bygones"?

If you wonder why not, the answer is that they are about the last members of the Khmer Rouge, which murdered some two million Cambodians in the 1970s, to give themselves up. Asked how they felt about the whole business, Khieu Samphan answered in English: "Yes, sorry, very sorry."

He went on in Khmer: "I would like to say sorry to the people. Please forget the past and please be sorry for me." Nuon Chea was keen to start right away. Asked how many had died under the Khmer Rouge, he said: "Please leave this to history. This is an old story, please leave it to the past."

Perhaps in 1999 we could clear up a few more unpleasant remnants of history this way. Saddam Hussein could say sorry to the Kurds for dropping poison gas on them; Augusto Pinochet could go home after apologising for all the "disappeared" of Chile. If they are really sincere, surely it would be churlish to hold them accountable for anything?

Pampered pets

ONLY in California: a magazine called the Wet Set Gazette, dedicated to those in nappies (and, more directly, those who change the nappies) advertises glamour photographs of women in the family way - and in the nude.

The ad shows a reclining woman in the buff, looking for all the world like a Playboy bunny, apart from the large abdominal bump. While her modesty is preserved, just, she is wearing ear-rings, full makeup and a distinct "come-hither" look. Maybe it is designed to remind husbands of what led to the happy event, although it may be rash to lead them to expect more of the same soon afterwards.

The Lord's pixel

THE ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel have sorted out one pressing problem: what to do about the word "God" on a computer screen.

According to Jewish law, printed matter with the word - elohim in Hebrew, and its manifestations in any other language - must be stored, or ritually buried. But Rabbi Moshe Shaul Klein has ruled that on computers these words are simply an assemblage of pixels constructed from binary code. "Even when you save it to disk, it's not like you're throwing anything more than a sequence of ones and zeroes away," said an assistant.

This scientific rationalism is not encouraged at Flat Earth. If it goes any further, what would we have to write about?

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