Flat Earth

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Cogito, ergo sum

THE last time I was in Singapore, the government was stressing its plans to embrace the new information age of fuzzy logic, lateral thinking and so on. I found it hard to imagine how such a regimented populace would respond to the order, "Be creative!" but clearly they mean business.

The authorities have just announced plans to cut school curriculums which demand too much absorption of facts and leave too little time for thought. It's a brave attempt, but if I know my Singapore, "education mothers" all over the island will be shouting at their kids: "What do you mean, you're thinking? Get back to your books!"

Dog eat dog

BAMBA "the Alsatian" should have known better than to stray into Charlie's territory. But he was foolish enough to be sniffing around Rome's notorious Garbatella neighbourhood late at night, and got himself whacked. First Charlie himself lunged at Bamba's throat, then Charlie's friends descended on him, kicking him in the head until he was bleeding and unconscious. He didn't stand a chance.

If this sounds like a Mafia saga, that's because it is, except that the protagonists were both dogs. Bamba was a neighbourhood Alsatian, Charlie a local champion pit bull terrier, a member of a dog-fighting racket organised by local organised crime groups. Bamba's fate has been seized upon by Rome's city council and the Green Party, which have long sought British-style controls on dogs trained to maim and kill.

In the US, however, narcotics detectives now find themselves confronted increasingly frequently by alligators. Criminals there, said one lawman, have "graduated from pit bulls". It makes Charlie and his cronies sound like poodles.

Cocktail shaker

"THIS IS without a doubt the most degrading and humiliating experience I have ever encountered and at this point I have no clue as to what is going on and am in a complete state of shock," Julian Aldarondo of Oakland, California said after being released from police custody.

What had they done to him? Aldarondo was accused of swiping a ginger pecan cookie from the Critics Corner Cafe before heading to a movie. The police followed him into the cinema, handcuffed him, and led him to the manager's office.

What happened there - no, I must go on - was this: when the suspect said he was a singer, Officer Anthony Toribio launched into a chorus from the "Pina Colada Song"- the one that goes: "If you like Pina Coladas/And getting caught in the rain ..."

Aldarondo has filed a complaint of "excessive force".