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Monday, 29 November 2010

And down came the snow...

Got to hand it to the German Met Office, almost on the minute they predicted. Now it's still snowing and the radio is talking about traffic problems on all the major routes around here. I'll Believe it, the snow must be around three inches and still mounting here on our mountain top. And tonight is the first session of my many times rescheduled language course. Of course.

Getting down to Wiesbaden this evening could be entertaining to say the least, but the effort must be made. In the meantime, as soon as this stuff stops falling, I have to get outside and shovel it off the drive...

Yeah, I know, finger in the dyke ....

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Colder yet, and colder ...

We have had snow since Thursday and the temperature is still falling. Moresnow is promised for tomorrow and really heavy snow for Monday - which will be interesting as my language class starts at 18.15 in Wiesbaden. Getting there could prove challenging. The temperature last night got down to -6*C up here and hasn't managed to get above 0*C all day.

I'll confess that I am amused to see the UK Met Office has stated that the trend is currently for colder and earlier winters in future...

I wonder which of the CRU datasets and computer models they're using for that?

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pardon?

This was sent to me by a friend, I have no idea where he got it from, but it is really worth sharing. Every one of these puts a different slant on things we all say ...

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. Check out the following for examples:

Ø If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

Ø I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

Ø Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Ø I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

Ø War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

Ø To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

Ø I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Ø Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but always check when you say the paint is wet?

Ø Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Ø You do not need a parachute to skydive. You definitely need a parachute to skydive twice.

Ø The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some darned good ideas!

Ø Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

Ø To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Ø Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Ø Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thanksgiving

I'd like to wish all my American readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. It seems to me an eminently sensible thing to do - to set aside a day on which to consider the good fortune one has enjoyed through the year. And we in the western world do have much to be thankful for.

Though we may not always appreciate it, and there are certainly those living in our society (and enjoying its benefits) who feel we have 'stolen' everything we have from some 'victim' of their choice, but we do enjoy a degree of freedom and security most of the world does not. Even those of us who are currently unemployed receive some support, perhaps more so in Europe than in the US, but there is still a safety net which is non-existent elsewhere.

No human society is ever perfect. No human society can ever be Utopia simply because one man's vision of heaven on earth, is another's vision of hell. Ours suits us and our belief in the freedom of the individual, in our belief that each of us is free to choose his or her religion, lifestyle and, yes, our own road to hell. We should give thanks for it and be prepared to defend it - there are many who loathe that choice and want to restrict it or suppress it.

The western societies also enjoy a greater distribution of wealth than almost any other. In most of the world the real wealth rests in the hands of 5% or fewer of any given population group, in the west that figure is higher and so is the size of the group perhaps best labelled 'Middle Income' earners. Many of the countries I have visited have a much narrower division of wealth - those who have everything and those who subsist - the middle class "middle income earners" are almost non-existent or invisible.

Yes, we have a great deal to be thankful for. We should join our American friends and give thanks for it.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Attempted Snow ...

Looking out of my window I can see that I got the last leaves raked up this morning just in time. It is now raining - sort of - and snowing - sort of...

Big white flakes descending in amongst the rain drops. Wierd, I think is the best description for it. So far the snow is not settling, but if it gets colder tonight, it is after all only around 2*C at the moment, it could tunr our roads into skating rinks. Time to find a few bags of "Struwlesalz" I think.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Korean Flashpoint?

The news that the North Koreans have apparently launched an unprovoked attack on the South should concern us all. Officially the war in Lorea has never ended, though a "truce" was agreed in 1954. The North Koreans are a rogue state in anybodies terms, but with their "Beloved Leader" clearly deranged and a military that is equally clearly flexing its muscles, it seems to me that it must be only a matter of time before they do something that will escalate into a full on war.

If ever there was a state and a government that proves the point you can't negotiate peace with some mindsets - Kim Il Jong has to be it.

The artillery fire today was not a 'rogue' commander, it will involve people all the way up to Kim himself. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that his chosen successr - recently 'promoted' to General without any known military background at all - hadn't decided to see what would happen if he gave the order. When the Chinese, just about North Koreas only real allies, express serious concerns over this act, something is seriously amiss.

I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens next. One thing is for sure, no power in the West has the apability to do what we did in 1950 - 54.

Monday, 22 November 2010

First snow

Yup, I looked out of the window just in time to see it. The first snow flakes in amongst the rain. It has been drizzling - a sort of misty rain - most of the morning, but then it started to rain in a slightly more meaningful way, and that turned, briefly, to snow. It hasn't settled, it's probably still too warm to do so - at 2*C - but it bodes well for the predicted snowfall later this week.

In the meantime it is cold outside - windchill - and damp. Madam Paddy has found a nice warm spot, out of drafts and where she can monitor the approaches to the kitchen and her food bowl. That apart she seems to have decided on hibernation...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Old Catholic Church

Six months ago we joined the Old Catholic Church - or, perhaps more accurately, they accepted us as members of their congregation at the Freidenskirche, Wiesbaden. The name means, "The Peace Church" and the building was erected and dedicated in 1900 -1901. Recently we celebrated the 110th anniversary of its founding with a full church for our Eucharistifeier.

But who, I can hear you ask, are the "Old Catholics?" Are they some sort of "super catholic" church with Latin, Orders and all the bells and smells? A branch of Rome that makes Rome look liberal? The simple answer is no. The Old Catholics are a Synodical Church which follows the traditions of the church pre-1054 when the Orthodox Churches split and refused to recognise the sovereign leadership of Rome. It is a church that holds to the doctrines of Nicea and of the "catholic" or "universal" church.

We are an Ecumenical Church which has links and full communion with the Anglican Church, the Lutheran or "Evangelical" Churches and others.

The Church has a history which goes back to the Reformation and the subsequent struggles by Rome to suppress dissent and reform. The Diocese of Utrecht, which, since its founding had elected its own Bishops, broke with Rome in 1723 when Rome tried to revoke that constitution. In 1873, the German Diocese came into being when a large number of German Catholics found they could not agree with the change of what had been "dogma" into "doctrine" by the First Vatican Council - which declared the Pope the sole arbiter of authority on Earth and that the incumbent Pope was "infallible."

I'm afraid it is easy to see where that "doctrine" has given rise to the abuses the Roman church is struggling to deal with today.

Examining the liturgical traditions, I have found that the Old Catholics follow a modern version of the Liturgy Anglicans would easily recognise. Like the Church of England's "Common Worship" it contains elements of the earliest "English" Liturgy - the Sarum or Salisbury Rite. Like Anglicanism, it has a wide range of liturgical practice, from very relaxed, through to the full traditional Mass. Again, like Anglicans, the single unifying factor is the belief in Christ's presence in the Eucharist.

For us both, it has been, and is, an enriching experience to worship in this congregation and tradition.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Living on misunderstanding...

Well, my German, though coming on, is still subject to misunderstanding in both directions. I ventured out alone today to buy some essential supplies. First call to the Metzger - butcher to those unfamiliar with the term. Our local butcher is the butcher equivalent of a Cordon Bleu Chef. An artist, a maestro ... you get the idea. The meat is utterly superb, the wurst, a dream and as for the "Suelze" ...

I did OK, ordering Suelze to my taste, Salami for Mausi and me and Kalb Leberwurst. Then I decided to get adventurous. Spotting what I took to be Pork mince, I asked for 500 grams. A flicker of surprise crossed the lady's face and the gentleman next to me assured me that the "Mett" was excellent, a purchase I would not regret. I agreed, the mince meat I have enjoyed from this supplier is always first class. The real deal, and not as so often elsewhere, the scrag ends of anything left over. Except that "Schweinmett" is finely minced raw pork, intended to be spread on bread. It's a delicacy from the Ruhr area ... So now I have to figure out how I can cook it ...

Suffice it to say that Mausi is highly amused at my mistake ...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

How can I trust the science?

A presentation to the US Congress by a "scientist" pushing the alarmist message sums up quite a bit of why I don't believe the message these people are pushing. This supposedly 'respected' scientist made two statements (among many) that are particularly worrying when they are uttered by someone who should, one hopes, know better.

Her first utterance concerned the influence of 'climate change' on 'weather.' According to her, if we do not act immediately the climate change will "work its way into the weather and, once its in the weather, it's there for good." Now I may be merely an ignorant member of the public, but climate IS what drives weather. "Weather" is a part of "Climate" whether we like it or not. Climate is a long term, over arching driver. It is what makes it rain in winter, but not in summer, or vice versa. Within that is the day to day weather, driven by atmospheric pressure changes, water vapour levels and ocean temperatures.

The second thing she pronounced was that sea levels will rise by 3 feet (90cm) by 2100. That is a full foot more than the most extreme prediction by the IPCC and a huge leap from the actual increase at preset measured at 3mm per year... With 90 years to go to her chosen date, even I can work out by simple multiplication that this means that in 2100 the average sea level rise will have been 270mm - less than 1 foot or 30 cm.

I have no doubt that the world climate is shifting, what I take leave to doubt very strongly is the 'science' which is presented as 'final' and 'settled' when it is not. The scientists involved have no better idea of what is driving the climate change than the average reasonably educated and informed member of the public. They have a lot of data and some fancy computer models, some good PR people who know just how to misrepresent the science so that it scares the ignorant and convinces the politicians to throw money at 'research' and that's about it.

To my mind, the sort of wild statements uttered by Greenpeace, the sort of scientist who makes these wild predictions and the intense tree huggers who swallow this garbage, prove the point. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Congratulations

Are, I think, in order for Prince Wiliam and his fiancee, Miss Kate Middleton. I note that everyone except the Republic Society, who want to have an elected w*nk*r as Head of State (presumably one of their members), have expressed their delight.

I sure that the young lady will find the experience of living in a gold fish bowl with the nosey, intrusive press and those who seek to hiighlight every little mis-step and unguarded moment to ridicule or belittle, difficult. I know it is not a life I could live or enjoy. It does take a lifetime of breeding, conditioning and eventually, I suspect, a finely balanced sense of humour to survive it.

I wish them every happiness and success, and I look forward eventually to seeing them on the throne as William V and Queen Catherine.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Fire in Shanghai

The news that a twenty-eight storey apartment block in Shanghai has burned out must be pretty worrying for everyone involved in hight-rise structures. For years those who believe they can 'risk assess' or 'fire engineer' away the problem of fire in these structures have clashed - it must be said with the tacit support of civil servants and politicians - with those of us who have actually had to try and deal with fire in them. It is often argued that the "Societal Costs" of putting in sprinklers and other defensive measures outweigh the "Cost/Benefit" to the occupier and owner.

Let's try telling that to the crews who had to try and fight this latest fire, to the 53 (and rising dead) and the several hundred people now homeless because this building didn't have any fire defences. It was being refurbished as well and the fire seems to have started externally, then spread rapidly up the scaffolding and into the building. To any fire fighter, the sight of fire service personell trying to direct jest of water from neighbouring buildings into burning floors well above the height of any sensible high-reach appliance speaks far more loudly for the installation of sprinklers and fire barriers than any accountants claim that it is a waste of money.

Let's hope that this fire turns out to be the same sort of wake-up call that the Joelma Building, Summerland and others were in the 1970's.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Climate Change Scare is Dying ...

That is apparently the conclusion of a writer for the Daily Telegraph. I found this information at Watts up with that, a blog written by a climate scientist who doesn't concur with the "settled science" of the IPCC and Greenpeace et al. In fact, most scientists, even the "warmist" ones, have trouble with the way the IPCC and Greenpeace, Fiends of the Earth and the warmist lobby abuse their work.

The UK government has, in the midst of the greatest ever debt crisis, passed the most economy destroying piece of legislation of all time - how they think they will pay for it is a matter for conjecture. The Climate Change Act is nothing short of ecnomic suicide. One wonders where those who voted for it have their nest eggs, investments and future employment lined up.

Not in the UK, obviously.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Volkstrauertag

Is the name for Remembrance Sunday in Germany.

Though it is not marked with Parades, poppies or any other special events, it is a day on which churches see an increase in attendance and other small acts of remembrance. Everyone here lost brothers, parents, cousins and other family members, Mausi's mother lost two of her brothers and her father lost close relatives as well. In fact, they lost far more than many of us outside of Germany perhaps realise, since the family had farms and lands on the former Polish border and which are now in Poland.

The division of Germany also split families and destroyed generational links. The Allies lost many and no family remained untouched by either of the great world conflicts, but I think we lost sight of the victims among the German people themselves of Hitler's ambitions and evil philosophy. Sadly, we allowed a worse tyrant to dominate in the land east of the Iron Curtain in our desire for revenge.

It has been an interesting experience to see the German side...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Phew.

Well, the examination went smoothly. It confirmed that I have diverticulitis, but the good news is that the original infection and inflammation has cleared up and there are no other problems lurking. I'll confess that they knocked me out quickly, efficiently and then woke me up as easily twenty minutes later when it was complete. Now I have to watch my diet, but that isn't difficult - and they want to look again in five years.

Phew.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Remembrance Day

Was yesterday, though it is not marked here in Germany, perhaps for obvious reasons.

That said, I did make the effort at 11.00 (UK Time) to stop and remember.

Up periscope?

Now in the final stages of preparation for having my diverticulitis examined. Hungry, glued to the toilet and wondering when it will stop....

Oh well, in anther three hours or so, it will all be over.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Interesting Scenes ...

Yesterday's demonstration by the National Union of Students was a perfect demonstration of why I do not believe in demonstrations as a legitimate means of exercising the right to express an opinion. Clearly many of those attending the demonstration had what they consider to be a legitimate complaint. Trebling of the tuition fees is a cause for concern and will cause hardship for a lot of students. Particularly as the last government has devalued the whole qualification system to the point where employers find that a Degree may not be worth a great deal at all in terms of indicating what an applicant may or may not know or be capable of doing.

As a former marker for a university or two, I frequently had difficulty actually making any sense out of what was written in answer to examination questions. It wasn't so much that the students often had only the vaguest grasp of the subject, but that they simply couldn't write a coherent sentence, much less express a cogent argument. Coupled with that, the disasterous bit of social engineering by Blair and co to push 50% of school leavers into universities meant that many of these establishments had to search around frantically to offer degrees and courses these often ill-equipped products of the socialist "(In)Comprehensive" education system, could actually cope with.

Traditionally the British intelligentsia establishment regards the "Arts" (Mainly the esoteric, theoretical, subjects such as Literarture, Philosophy, Divinity, Sociology, Music, History, etc.) as being "superior" to the "Industrial" disciplines such as Engineering. The result is that many of the degrees now on offer are focussed i the "Arts" and include the infamous "general" management degree, the Master of Business Administration, which purports to equip someone with the ability to manage anything from a Hot Dog Franchise to a Space Programme intended to put men on Mars - but without any need to know how either are actually achieved. The trouble is that this is just the most visible of the Degrees on offer which actually equip the holder to deal with very little. There are reportedly people with Bachelor Degrees in Philosophy, and other "Arts," working as 'Fry Cooks' in Burger Bars.

One has to question the value to the Taxpayer of supporting such a degree - and obviously, the value to the student of paying for it. Perhaps this begs a larger question, one which, so far, everyone seems to be dodging. Is it realistic to expect every school leaver to be able to find a place at a university? This was the stated aim of Mr Blair's government. The second, and perhaps more important question is this; Are the degrees on offer, what is needed in the new world order that is emerging? Should we insist that only the "technical" qualifications will be supported in future, and the "Arts" relegated to a lower priority?

Returning to the demonstration itself, it was obvious that the police did not provide a proper analysis of the potential for this o be highjacked by the usual crew of "Social Workers Party" rentamob and layabouts who regard the taxpayer as a personal support for their idle lifestyles. Big deal, the police finally managed to arrest twenty-seven rioters - but if the BBC footage is anything to go by, there are about three or four hundred others who got away with it. They are clearly seen escaping through a glass wall, in full view of the police, their faces covered by scarves and 'hoodies' and they vanish into the mob to the cheers and laughter of their 'friends.'

As someone who grew up in a society where only those who excelled at school and won a 'bursary' or whose parents could afford the cost of university education, I have always believed that a university education was a privilege and NOT a "right." I have two degrees, earned the hard way and very late in my career. In fact I earned my Masters degree only four years before I retired and I still think it was a huge privilege to be able to do so. Frankly, in my view, there is only one reason to attend university. To earn a degree which qualifies you for a role in a workplace. It is not some sort of "social" creche - three years funded by the taxpayer for "students" to have fun, learn to take drugs, confirm their socialist brainwashing and sharpen their civil disobedience skills.

Universities should now begin culling their student populations - raise the pass marl from the laughable 40% and refuse to allow anyone patently not putting in an effort to gain a useful degree to continue. Further, the "Politburo" Soviets of the National Union of Students needs to be reigned in. From what I have learned in recent years about the conduct of these bodies there are some serious questions to be asked about their status as "charities" and a lot of real abuse of electroal processes and misuse of funds.

The sort of behaviour seen yesterday in London is unacceptable in a civilised society and the really worrying thing is that these "students" will, no doubt, soon be seeking to be elected or to join the political classes to become the governors of the future. That should concern us all.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Demonizing labels

One of the most frightening aspects, to me at any rate, of the current political scene in the western world, is manner in which the left/liberal propagandists label anyone who disagrees with them a "Fascist" - often without actually knowing anything at all about Fascism. This was brought home to me quite recently when I discovered a list, dreamed up by a Dr Lawrence.Reading through the 14 points he claims "define" a "Fascist State" I confess that I found myself wondering about this man's background and credentials.

What emerged is that he is a sociologist, holds some very socialist views and follows the humanist/secularist philosophy according to several sources. That he was rabidly anti-George W Bush and is anti-capitalist is also apparent. What is troubling is that many on the left of the political spectrum have adopted these 14 points with delight and are now claiming they "prove" that capitalism, and more specifically religion (In the form of Christianity in the US) are "Fascist."

So what are these 14 points and how did he arrive at them? To answer the last part first, he studied Hitler, Mussolini, Suharto, Franco and a number of South American Dictators. Anyone spot the obvious omissions? You may when you read the fourteen 'proofs'...

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
9. Corporate Power is Protected
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections

The timing of the release of these was significant, they came out just before the last Presidential elections, the inference being that to vote for the right, was a vote for fascism as defined above. You may say that the last is hardly a defining characteristic of the US electoral system, but many Democrats still believe that GWB won the Florida election - the key state that put him in the White House - by fraud. That despite all the recounts, examination of 'hanging chards' and several court cases.

What is worrying about this is that the list is currently being promoted by such organizations as the 'Liberty Forum,' the 'Humanist Secularist Society' and every left wing political organization as 'proof' that anyone and everyone on the 'right' is a Fascist.

Let's take another look at the list. If you know your political history, this could define any and every 'socialist' and 'communist' state of the last hundred years. In fact it is a far better description of those political systems than it is of the capitalist states it is aimed at. But that is the skill of the propagandist, vilify, demonize and make sure that no one checks what you are not telling them - and when they do, stifle debate by screaming epithets and labels to drown out their argument or present it as "immoral" or "Fascist" .... Since the media are today controlled and managed almost exclusively by left wing owners and staffed by left leaning journalists, one wonders at his point number 6 in the context of western society.

While the west has cut back on the military, and rising crime suggests that not enough attention is being focussed on criminal activity, we find that in the socialist world, the opposite is true. As for No. 11, this list and much of the touchy-feely ideology that bedevils our society stems from giving the groups mentioned in No 11 far too much say - the vast majority of them don't live in the real world or face the very real challenges and problems almost everyone outside of that group do. Plus, again, this is the very group that Chairman Mao and Joe Stalin tried to suppress - so were they actually 'Fascists' in disguise? And how about the suppression and tight control of Labour Unions in the Socialist/Communist countries? Maybe they were actually Capitalists in disguise?

Number 5 on the list is almost equally adrift, looking at the Socialist and Communist states the good doctor apparently wants to emulate, we find fewer women and even fewer 'gays' in positions of real authority. Personally I find No. 8 on this list about sums up the lack of proper analysis. Hitler, the architect of Fascism in its most evil form, was a Humanist/Secularist. Stalin, an avowed Atheist, unashamedly ordered the opening of churches he had closed and stripped and then ordered the priests and bishops he had sent to Labour Camps, to support the people's need for religion with prayers for Mother Russia. No mention of that on the secularist websites promoting the idea that conservative politics equals Fascism and Christianity is a Fascist philosophy - as identified in No.3...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Blogoversary

This month marks the beginning of my Blog, originally at "The Gray Monk" and hosted on the now defunct "Guruinternational" domain run by Catholic Down Under, also known as Ozguru. I started keeping a blog at his suggestion back in 2003 and it has become a feature that has encouraged me to explore all sorts of subjects and thoughts and to share a few of life's little pleasures, and a few knocks, with whoever stumbles upon it.

I'd like to think that The Gray Monk's Scriptorium or its predecessor, might have influenced the shape of the future or of some decisions made by politicians and the movers and shakers of this world, but I somehow doubt any of them ever read it. So, now its been up and running for seven years, at times frustrating trying to think of something to write and at others fun. I've learned a lot in the process from others who blog and through looking up things to write about.

Thanks to all of you who bother to read it!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Getting closer to release ...



Is my latest story in the Harry Heron series I am creating. The cover is now finalised, the Galley Proofs are needing four small corrections, and the book will be ready for publication by the end of the month - just in time for Christmas!

This one tells the story of Harry and Ferghal's voyage to Australia and India, but it also tells the story of the future they will be forced to join. It is essentially a story about coming of age and learning to be responsible. Resourcefulness, creativity and sheer courage is what was needed to survive a life in the old "Wooden Walls" that kept Napoleon and other enemies at bay, but honour, trust and friendship are also essentials.

Harry joins the navy a child and reaches adulthood the hard way, watched over by Ferghal and the men whose trust he has earned in the process.

I hope you'll keep an eye open for this and enjoy it.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Gunpowder Plot

Bonfire night is here again for the UK. Poor old Guido Fawkes, probably a bit of dupe in the sense that he appears to have been set up to take the fall when it all went wrong. The older I get the more sympathetic I am toward his intention, perhaps it is just that as you gain more experience you come to realise that blowing up the politicians and their civil service cohorts is probably the only way we'll ever get to restore some sort of democracy.

I was amused, watching the BBC World Service, to hear an apparently eminent 'expert' on democracy pronouncing that democratic government is extremely rare. Now tell us something we didn't know! Please? The truth is that most of our democratic systems are deeply flawed. In the "first past the post" system, whoever gets tha largest number of votes is elected, fine, if everyone eligible to do so votes and providing there is no 'manipulation' of the voters roll or ballot stuffing... The problem is, in that system, the 'elected' representative very often does NOT represent the majority. Blair and Labour are a good example. Around 51% of the electorate voted in the election which 'swept' him to power. He got 40% of the total ballot caste - which actually equates to 28% of the TOTAL electorate. Had the other 49% voted, it might have made a different outcome. The great flaw with this system is that the 'dissenters' now have no option than to stage demonstrations if they want to be heard - and government's ignore those anyway.

Proportional representation has its attractions, at least it makes sure that every vote counts - but it also means that the 'Party" decides who represents you. So, how about a hybrid system? IN Germany you vote for an individual and place your vote for a party as well. As it is a form of proportional system, you get the candidate with the majority elected, plus the Party may appoint a number of others according to the support they enjoy. Less than 5% support and you drop off the list entirely. Other systems combine this and transferable voting so that your preferences are always counted - but here you run into another problem - called "The Party" - and whoever you elect, they end up votong the Party Ticket, regardless of what they may have said to the voter on the doorstep. Add in the Lobbyists and their campaigns, and the voters opinion counts for almost nothing.

There is probably no perfect system and one of the greatest weaknesses in our supposedly democratic society is the "lobby" system. Those who can afford to hire expensive lobbyists, get heard, those who cannot, don't. If our politicians were truly interested in restoring the peoples faith in the political system, this is the one thing they would immediately ban. This is how pressure groups can impose their minority view on the majority, they hire a lobbying company which doorsteps MPs, orchestrates press campaigns and makes sure that any counter voice is immediately neutralised.

The sad thing is that if this continues, one day we will see another Guido Fawkes make the attempt to blow away an entire government and all its hanger's on.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

American election

It has certainly been a whirlwind of sorts and it looks as if Mr Obama won't have such an easy ride for the next couple of years.

What has stuck me throughout this election campaign is the amount of negative briefing against candidates. It seems to me that these days politics has descended to telling the voter why they shouldn't vote for someone, rather than what voting for the other candidate will bring. Perhaps it's because neither party really know what they can deliver, or perhaps it's just easier to be negative than to try and sell what you believe in yourself.

It is a sad reflection on our society that major issues are reduced to simple sound bites, often negative, often lacking in fact and frequently simply name calling. Not a good rationale for choosing someone to govern...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

All Souls

Today is the commemoration of All Souls, the day we remember the departed from this life and their influence on us, our society and our faith. Traditionally it is marked among the catholic traditions with a Requiem Mass at which the names of those the congregation would like to remember are read.

The news of the attack on a Christian Church in Baghdad on the eve of All Saints shows that, far from being free from threat and secure in our faith, Christians are still subject to attack and intimidation for their faith. While those in the Middle East, living among non-Christian nations are more likely to suffer this sort of outrage, even those in Europe may soon find themselves open to similar assaults as our secularist 'masters' continue their assault on faith.

Perhaps, as we pray for the soulds of the departed and those 53 killed in Baghdad so recently, we should also pray for the strength to face the enmity of the atheists, humanists and secularists who seek to drive faith out of our society.

Monday, 1 November 2010

All Saints

Today being the feast of All Saints, Christians everywhere will be remembering all those who history has labelled "saint" in the life of the church. We should not forget that all Christians are, in perhaps less public ways, saints. It is our calling as Christians, to live in the example of the Gospels and to follow the teachings of Christ. We are called to live our faith and to behave toward all our fellow travellers in this life as He would.

Today is the day we should, perhaps more than any other, remember this.

Sadly, on this day, we must also remember in our prayers those fellow Christians attacked last night in their worship by extremist gunmen in Iraq. This is something far too many Christians face daily and something we should all give thanks we do not have to deal with in the west.

For all the Saints, who from their labours rest ... is the opening line of the hymn sung at services on this day, but let us also remember each other and pray for the strength to hold to our faith and show it in our lives, day by day.