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Peter Rhodes on rebuilding a cathedral, sneering at Americans and summoning International Rescue

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes:

WE Brits tend to sneer at American education. But when the Yanks are smart, they are terrifyingly, ruthlessly smart. This week's University Challenge (BBC2) was a close-run thing between one clever American and another clever American, each accompanied by three rather quiet companions.

THE secret of a good night's sleep is to breathe freely through the nostrils, hence the popularity of those adhesive strips worn on the bridge of the nose. The latest refinement is a dinky little device that goes up the nose and forces the nostrils wider open. According to the instructions, it should be "used inside the nose only" and is "not be shared with other people." Moving swiftly on . . .

NO, you are not the only one surprised that the undercover cop and the anti-corruption cop in Line of Duty (BBC1) choose to have their secret meetings in what looks like a multi-storey car park - and then yell at each other. Nothing echoes quite like raw concrete; a whisper travels for miles. These shouty, bellowing car-park encounters must be the least discreet secret meetings in the history of secret meetings.

GOTHIC cathedrals were built to the glory of God. So in an age when half the people don't believe in God, what is the motivation for rebuilding Notre Dame after this week's terrible fire? Is it a national treasure, a landmark, a tourist attraction?

THE irony is that our godless age will produce a better, and certainly less flammable, Notre Dame. It will be constructed by scientists and technicians using lasers, hi-tech alloys and thousands of tons of reinforced concrete, the products of science and the Age of Reason. And when this 21st century masterpiece is opened, the priests will solemnly return its priceless (some would say worthless) medieval relics to their new resting places: ye Tunic of St Louis, ye Fragments of ye True Cross and ye genuine and original Crown of Thorns. All the stuff that should have been burned centuries ago.

DONALD Trump tweeted that "flying water tankers" should be sent to the Notre Dame fire. Dude, dontcha know the most important thing is to call International Rescue?

I WAS not in the least surprised to read that conversations between customers and Alexa, the Amazon artificial-voice device, had been recorded and "reviewed" (i.e. listened to) by Amazon staff. Here are two golden rules for our age. Firstly, never assume anything connected to the internet is private.

SECONDLY do not kid yourself that any electronic device does not have a memory. Some time ago I was with a driver who delighted in breaking speed limits in his new car and showing off all the vehicle's electro-gizmos. It had not occurred to him that his driving might be recorded. Be aware that the microchip-stuffed car you are driving is not merely a conveyance but also, to use a cherished old term, a copper's nark. Coming soon: the Nissan Squealer, the Jaguar Informer and the Toyota Grass.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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