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“This is not to pretend that there is a single American ideal, still less a single US foreign policy, maintained unbroken since 1776. There are, instead, competing traditions, each able to trace its lineage to the founding of the republic. But what’s striking is that George Bush’s war on Iraq is at odds with every single one of them.” Jonathan Freedland, who has a track record as a hugely pro-American writer in The Guardian, makes clear that the Bush administration is exceptional, in a wholly perjorative sense.

Fruit and veg 

Fruit and veg stamps: The Royal Mail's latest stamps are a do-it-yourself collection. Users are encouraged to stick moustaches, hats, glasses, etc on to create their own, unique stamps

Stickers: The set of stickers for the fruit and veg stamps

I’ve written before on how seemingly small things characterise a country. The latest issue from the Royal Mail sums up a lot of the best of Britain: witty, domestic, deftly executed. I’m trying to find more reasons to send letters so I can use my do-it-yourself fruit and veg stamps.

Not free  

A scary April Fool’s prophecy brings home the absurdity of current intellectual property debates. “But why was it so expensive to borrow a book? ‘Do you want to deprive the authors of all incentive to write?’ she asked rhetorically. ‘They have to be fairly compensated for their work.’ I was tempted to ask why writers had been writing for so long in spite of free libraries.”

Actually, in the UK authors can receive payment for books borrowed from libraries under the Public Lending Right. In 2002 the government paid out £4,505,758 to 17,581 authors on the basis of loans of their books.

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