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Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Great British Occassion

Watching the Royal Wedding yesterday on German Television (The BBC doesn't permit expats to watch thier broadcasts) I was reminded once again of why I am proud to be British and why I am an unashamed and proud Royalist.The Royals have, over the centuries of British history provided far more stability and justice than the hordes of nonentities who seek to 'lead' the nation or turn it into a Soviet Republic where, as in Animal Farm, all are equal, but the pigs and their enforcers are more equal.

The Royals have retained the respect of the nation despite the best efforts of politicians and their poodles in the media to undermine them. We have seen one political scandal after another engulf the scum that infest our political institutions and organs of state, and again and again, this same venal scum attempt to dredge up some minor misdemeanour by one of the Royals (Usually the Duke of Edinburgh or Prince Charles) to cover up their wholesale theft of democracy, taxpayers money, our ancient freedoms and rights. Annually we have seen the "cost of the Royals" dragged through the papers, but there is never a whisper of the billions lavished on the lifestyles of the MPs and their fellow travellers - the dishonest and incompetents who infest the upper echelons of the Civil Service.

As usual there have been the coterie of nonentity 'celebrities' and left-wingers whinging about the 'expense' of the Royal wedding, but none of them will ever mention the business that such an occassion generates, raising revenue for them to waste.

It is really heartwarming to see the Queen greeted by cheers and waving flags, to see the newly married couple travel in an open carriage through cheering and waving crowds and the see the precision and dignity with which the entire ceremony has been conducted. The Police have done a superb job of crowd control - essential when you have a million people on the streets. The absence of 'protesters' is also refreshing, at long last the authorities have put a foot down firmly. It was made plain that 'protests' of any sort would not be tolerated anywhere on the route.

To those who wonder why Blair and Brown were not on the guest list I have this to say. Blair is a closet republican who admired Cromwell and who offended the Queen on numerous occassions. He cut the Prime Minister's Briefings for Her Majesty from twice weekly to one - which he then shifted when it suited him. Brown is an unreconstructed Marxist and caused offence on numerous occassions with his blatant anti-English behaviour and his refusal to observe even the simplest social niceties. Both are EX-Prime Ministers. The Courtiers who drew up the guest list followed protocol and invited the PM, Ministers of State, the Leader of the Opposition and heads of the Political Parties in Parliament. Blair and Brown are a blot on our history and their legacy is the huge public debt, the overwhelming power of the Civil Service and the legions of petty socialist laws and regulations.

I'd consider laying my life on the line to defend the Royals. I'd shoot the politicians.

Friday, 29 April 2011

A Year in Germany ...


It seems only yesterday that my son and I packed the last of my belongings into my car and set out to drive across England and the continent to my intended new home in Germany. It has been quite a year all told, a year filled with getting to grips with a new culture, a new language and settling myself and Madam Paddy Cat into our new home.

In between I have made some great new friends, written a textbook for the Institution of Fire Engineers and published another fiction book. I've redecorated my Study, we've started remodeling the garden, endured a really bad winter and managed to get some other work in as well. My German is improving - so I'm told at any rate - and I have to say that I now feel very settled here.

Madam Paddy Cat has reached the grand age of 21, something like 98 in cat years, and is getting a bit doddery. She watches the field mice and the birds, then flicks her tail and wanders indoors. She and the vet have developed a sort of love/hate relationship as well and she regards the various birdbaths in our garden and the neighbours as her personal drinking troughs.

We've had a discussion about this, and think a Royal Wedding is a fitting way to mark our Anniversary!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Christ is Risen!

He is risen indeed, and the empty tomb in that 'garden' in Jerusalem is and always will be the Christians hope of life beyond this one. A life promised by Christ, the Living Word in Person.

Happy Easter to you all.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Come, Holy Ghost ...

Come, Holy Ghost ...

Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire ...


Based upon the 13th Century poem,written by Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, this 16th Century version is one that has moved me many times at ordinations and confirmations down the years since my own in 1962. I often wonder at the way Christians of all denominations seem to have retreated from acknowledging of the importance in every aspect of our daily lives, of this, the third ‘persona’ of the God we claim to worship and follow. Followers of Islam also believe in the Holy Spirit, but have a different understanding of His relationship to Jesus and the Father.

Islam identifies the Holy Spirit as having two functions; to ‘blow’ our souls into our developing bodies in the womb; to provide Divine Guidance to Believers - but, and this is the important distinction, they do not believe the Holy Spirit is a manifestation of God, but a Spirit sent from God in much the same way as God ‘sends’ angels. To me, this is directly contradictory to the statement in Matthew 12: 30 and 31 (See also Mark 3: 28 and 29 and Luke 12: 9 and 10).

Since, by definition, blasphemy is -

“profane or sacrilegious talk about God or sacred things:”

clearly the context in scripture is to something or someone above earthly things or beings and angels. If, as Islam implies, the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a sort of ‘super angel‘ this would, to my mind and that of Christian theologians and thinkers over the last two millennia, be a ‘blasphemy‘ in that it demotes the Holy Spirit completely. The Gospel according to St John begins with one of the most amazing, yet simple, descriptions of the Christian understanding of the relationship between God the Father and Creator, God the Son and Redeemer and God the Holy Spirit, inspiration and enlivener of us all. Jesus Himself tells the Apostles to be that He must leave them in order that the Holy Spirit may come to be with them and through them, us. John 14: 26 tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Counsellor or Comforter, the One who is with us always.

The Athanasian Creed, written in 325 AD was a response to what I consider to be ‘proto-Islam,’ the Arian Gnostic heresy which arose from the teaching of Arius, Archbishop of Alexandria (c256 - 336 AD) who argued the modern Islamic position, that God the Father was the only “Divine” element of the Trinity. In his teaching Jesus was not ‘begotten’ but made for his purpose and the Holy Spirit was simply an agent or messenger. That this clearly contradicted the teachings of the Apostles themselves then, as now, didn’t deter his supporters. Much of what is now known as the ‘pseudepigraphica’ the books excluded from the canon of scripture set by the Council of Nicea (325 - 340 AD) are treatises written by Arians and their predecessors, the Docetists (Another Gnostic breakaway from Judaism)1 against whom St John fought in his Ministry (See the Gospel and Letters of John). The Gnostics wanted to portray God as Father and Creator, Jesus as a Prophet and the Holy Spirit as an ‘agent of God’ and not, as in the Christian view, one with and equal in importance, in the Trinity which is God, one and complete.

During the course of my career as a Minister in Lay Orders (Which just means I wasn’t ordained, but had the Bishop’s ‘Licence’ to preach teach and perform many other ‘Offices’ of the Ministry), I have many times heard people misrepresent or misunderstand this relationship completely. This is a great shame, since it need not be a reality to be afraid of embracing, in fact, it is very rewarding when you do.

So, just why do the Gospel writers lay such stress upon the dangers associated with ‘blaspheming against the Holy Spirit?’ Firstly, of course, they firmly believed that Jesus was the Son of God, God Incarnate through the agency of the Holy Spirit, who caused the Virgin Mary to conceive Jesus. John makes that very clear, Matthew skates around it a bit (He was, after all, writing for a Jewish audience, probably in Jerusalem) and Mark omits it altogether as he assumes it is a ‘given’ as does John. Luke, the outsider, meticulously researched the whole story and records it in detail.

Nor is this the first reference to the Holy Spirit at work in the Bible, He occurs in Genesis, Exodus, Judges, in both books of Samuel, Psalms 51 and 139, in Isaiah and Ezekiel. There are many more references in the Gospels, Acts, and the Letters as well. In Acts it is clear that the writer knows the Holy Spirit to be God in person acting in the world through His selected followers. He is the ‘Agent’ of Christ, the Creator and Inspirer of the Church, the Unifying force driving through all our factions and divisions and above all else, the real power behind our witness in the world.

You cannot effectively witness to God’s love and grace, or teach His Gospel message, without the authority and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He is the very core of our Faith in Christ the Redeemer, He is our inspiration in worship and in our actions when dealing with one another. He is the very Breath of Life in our lives and, perhaps, in every living thing. He is very much in our waking, in our sleeping, in everything in between and, yes, at the end, in our dying. When we suffer, He suffers with us, when we rejoice, He rejoices in us. This is what Islam has not understood. In Islam the term is simple another way to describe the Archangel Gabriel, and to the true Christian, that is a blasphemy...

How do we, as mere humans, even begin to understand the concept of a God who is in everything, of everything, everywhere and every when all at the same time? In truth, only in a very limited sense and in a very limited way. Jesus hints at this problem for us and the Holy Spirit is sent upon us to guide, to nurture and to lead those of us who are willing to accept our ignorance and follow in Faith, toward the great light that is the fullness of God.

Thus, only by accepting and embracing the Holy Spirit can we truly follow Jesus and then we must add to our prayers the final verse from ‘Veni Creator ...’

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And thee, of Both, to be but One;
That through the ages all along
This may be our endless song,

Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen


NOTE: This is written as a part of my Lenten Study. It has proved a very interesting subject.

NOTE 2: Gnosticism was a form of Hellenic-Judaic philosophy that began around 100 BC to 100 AD with the blending of Philosophy from the Greek schools and Judaism. Simon Magus (See Acts 8:9) is often described as a ‘proto-Gnostic, though the Sadducees may well have followed another form of this philosophy. In 1945, the collection of books known as the ‘Nag Hammadi Library was unearthed and gives a wonderful window into the origins of much of the Quran and the misinterpretation and misunderstanding that led to the development of the Gnostic philosophy.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Easter

The Gray Monk will be in England for the next eight days, posting will depend on available time and access to the internet.

In the event of not being able to post anything, he'd like to wish anyone who happens by, a great Easter festival, with all the blessings promised in the Resurrection of Our Lord.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fruhling ...

It's Spring alright. Weather as changeable as all get out, chill still in the air, and the grass growing like fury ... also all the dandelions attempting a takeover despite threats of frost and chills at night.

It's fun to watch the forests around us gradually change their stark appearance and bloom again into the greens and shades of green. The garden too, is stirring, lots of plants have survived the freeze and are now stirring. It takes a lot of effort to reshape it as we want it, but I reckon that by June we'll have it mostly under control.

Hopefully ...

Friday, 15 April 2011

A whisper of truth in Whitehall?

I picked up an interesting bit of news from the UK yesterday, the speech by the current Prime Minister to the effect that the flood of immigrants, 2.2 million, into Britain in the period covered by the Liebour Government of Blair/Brown, has placed a great strain on the fabric of British Society. This is treading on dangerous ground, I'm sure it is mere millimetres away from being branded 'racist' by the Liebour spin doctors and possibly even from being classed in the same league as the frequently misquoted and misrepresented speech by Enoch Powel in the 1960s.

The fact is that the PM is right, but hasn't actually addressed all the issues related to it. He is right to point out that the UK has not seen an influx of immigrants on this scale since the Saxon and Angle invasions in the 500 - 600 AD period, but what has exacerbated it is the Politically Correct drive to marginalise the "native" inhabitants and promote the rights of minorities and the superiority of Islam over the native Christian Culture. That is what has strained the very fabric of UK Society more than anything else.

One hopes he'll raise that issue in the appropriate forum and fire all the Civil Servants monitoring 'progress' in that direction. That should solve quite a large part of the National Debt when we no longer have to pay all the parasites 'working' in those sections.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A 'Risk Averse' Rescue Service?

I've just seen the first signs of light in the tunnel in, of all places, the SHP Journal! (Safety and Health Professional - I are one, but I still think its a complete oxymoron!)

The Chief Fire Officer of the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service has gone on record saying that the culture of fear generated by the Corporate Manslaughter legislation and the HSE in its campaign against FRS managers almost certainly contributed to the death of a woman who fell down a mineshaft. According to evidence before the inquest, she suffered a heart attack after a prolonged wait for the Mountain Rescue Organisations team to arrive while Firefighters at the scene stood idle - with equipment they could have used but were advised not to. Apparently the HandS man onsite decided they didn't have the right training and the OiC wasn't prepared to risk landing in court if he attempted the rescue in the face of that advice.

We have arrived at a situation, as CFO says, where the operational decisions are not made on the basis of operational need, but on whether or not the person in charge could get prosecuted for it at some later stage. To me this is a disgraceful state of affairs, one which is exploited to the fullest extent by the Union which uses any excuse to attempt to undermine the command structure.

I note the HSE claims their Inspectors of FRS operations are all 'trained' to properly assess operational activity. That is NOT my experience at all.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Getting the Text Book finished ...

At long last I can say I'm all but finished with the writing, researching, editing and drawing ...

It is taking a lot longer than I thought it would, but it is now almost there. Next week I will hand over a Memory Stick with the MS, the pictures and everything else on it. Then we wait for the publication and the issue of the ISBN.

It will be published by the Institution of Fire Engineers under the title "The IFE Guide to Fire Investigation" and I certainly hope that those who buy it will find it useful and helpful in their careers.

Getting the Text Book finished ...

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Dust storm

Some readers of this blog may have read of the appalling accident yesterday on the autobahn near Rostock. It involved over forty vehicles, including some large trucks and one tanker carrying fuel ... At present, 24 hours later, the section of the Autobahn is being rebuilt - or at least resurfaced - and the there are eight confirmed dead, 130 injured and two remain in a critcal condition in hospital. The photographs from the scene are a fire fighter's worst nightmare. A short news video clip can be found on Euronews. It is in German, but the pictures give an idea of the problems

The accident was apparently caused by a huge cloud of dust, whipped up by a strong wind, which suddenly blew across the carriageway blinding motorists. Some of the clip shows dust still blowing as rescue workers try to put out the fires and check for injured and survivors.

One can only hope that the lessons from this are learned.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Socialist Economics

I wonder if anyone else has noticed that the countries all now in the bankruptcy court of the EU Monetary Commission, are all governed by 'socialist' politicians? Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland (to a lesser extent) are all governed by socialists of varying shades of Pink to Red. The Irish government banked on the EU subsidies and, unfortunately for the populace, chose to spend furiously on all manner of social handouts and job creation on a round of spend it as fast as you can boys exercises. Greece has one of the most generous social security packages in Europe, with retirement at an age most people are just getting to the top of their careers. Italy hasn't managed to make up its mind about anything much except to play the old Roman game of throwing money to the 'plebians' - most of which winds up in the hands of the Mafia Bosses.

Spain lurched into socialism around the same time Britain elected that disaster Blair/Brown and with much the same outcome. Spend, spend, spend some more. When you run out, borrow, borrow again and then start printing money (This is what Wilson and Callaghan did in the 1970s) and then blame the rich for not paying enough. At least the UK is still afloat - just -but I have no great hopes of sense or even fiscal responsibility prevailing for long. As soon as the socialists get their hands on power again, the country will plunge even further into debt. Portugal is currently being bailed out by the EU Fund and Spain is in the waiting room so this will cost the more sensible peoples in Europe a lot before it gets any better.

Unfortunately it looks as if the only way to prevent us all winding up as economic basket cases is either to remove control of spending and borrowing from individual governments, but that is likely to be as popular with voters as the proverbial Pole Cat walking into a cocktail party. Alternatively, as Mrs Merkel has proposed (Interestingly she grew up in the former Democratic Republic of Germany - the 'Socialist Paradise' that needed the Stasi to spy on everyone and a wall to stop its citizens from running away from it, and has more fiscal nous in her little finger than the majority of Chancellors of the Exchequer of the last several UK Governments) that all national borrowing should be approved by the Monetary Committee of the EU or should be limited to a percentage of GNP.

Far to sensible I suspect for all socialists who think the money in everyone else's Bank Account is theirs to spend ...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Windfarm Efficiency

Oh dear, the Department for the Environment caught by its own numbers...

The report by the John Muir Trust recently published and now widely circulated shows that, as usual, the Civil Servants running the government have been economical with the truth. So have any number of "Green" groups and the Windfarm industry. It seems all those windfarms built at vast expense (The Taxpayer's, of course!) have been generating only around 20% of the capacity various people claim for only 50% of the time. Worse for a third of the time, they are turning out less than 10% and even worse, they aren't reliable at times of peak demand.

And the supreme irony? This report was compiled from publically available data, by a group with "Green" credentials ...

It would make me laugh, if it wasn't for the vast amount of money Blair and his socialist apparatchiks have wasted on this - our money, part of that £1.4 TRILLION blackhole they created.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Anniversary thoughts ...

Today marks my father's birth. He died at the age of 57 from a mix of health problems, many having their origins in the experiences he had in WW2. I cannot claim to have ever been 'close' to him, though he taught me my seamanship and a range of other things, most, I suspect, almost by accident. Born in 1923 on this day, he served in the Royal Navy 1940 - 46 and then took a discharge which brought him back to South Africa. He'd contracted malaria while serving in the Cheong War in Burma and suffered from this or the complications that brought with it for the rest of his life. He contracted TB somewhere along the way and my early years at school were marked by his constant visits and sometimes extended stays in the hospital. A chronic alcoholic (It has taken me years to discover what drove him to that!) he died in 1982.

RIP Neville Gray Cox 1923 - 1982

I can't help but wonder what he would make of the world he gave a large part of his sanity, his health and his youth to preserve. He rejected socialism utterly and fought against the very sort of dictatorship that is now being stealthily introduced by the descendants of those who so blithely sent his generation off to war. I seriously doubt he would consider his sacrifice worthwhile if he could see the Britain the descendants of his fellows in arms have created.

He was proud of the fact that his family had been among those that built the roads, railways and harbours and even some of the towns and cities that South Africa now boasts. The family were never 'officially' settlers, we were military - Royal Engineers and Navy - and somehow always seemed to end up there in the run up to it becoming first the Union and Dominion of the Empire and then when it became a Republic we had roots there and in the UK. He was among the many who felt betrayed by the British when they turned their backs on us - as they were already doing to other 'white' colonists they had planted and used around the world. And they certainly used us all. These were the colonists who volunteered to defend the Empire and Britain, in two World Wars, our dead lie in fields and graves far from their homes and families. Our efforts in the lands, in the mines and in commerce sent wealth pouring back into Britain and into the pockets of these same people who then turned their backs and sold their own kith and kin on the market of political expediency.

I watch the slow sovietisation of Britain, the strangulation of its commerce and industry by the combination of socialist misanthropes and Union prejudice and wonder why my father, his brothers and cousins, my grandfathers and great-grandfathers even bothered.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Fukushima and beyond ...

Interesting following the reportage of the Fukushima Nuclear problem in the press over the last weeks, the hysteria whipping reports grew in intensity for the first few, but now seems to have tailed off. I think the clincher in this came with the BBC reporting in their usual "Oh my Gosh! We're on the edge of our seats tones!" that radioactive iodine from the plant had been detected in Oxfordshire. The actuality programme an hour or so later put it into perspective, with the scientist almost unable to contain his amusement during the interview as he explained, calmly and very sensibly that, yes, some isotopes had been detected, but the radiation they offered did not, in fact, approach anything like the levels of the normal background radiation from the Oxfordshire landscape. Unfortunately, this wasn't relayed on their "Oh gosh Oh Golly, What are we going to do ..." News Programmes.

A day or two later I read something else on a site I frequent when I have time. This time a poem written by someone with obvious fear of anything nuclear, but utterly lacking in any knowledge of the realities. Her poem went off about the "nuclear blasts" at the Fukushima facility and how the landscape had been turned into a nuclear desert where plants will never grow again and birds drop out of the sky from radioactivity. Yes, I did have to read it, and yes, I had to go and take a long walk and cool down before responding ...

Fukushima is probably one of the best examples since Chernobyl of where and how not to build a reactor.The design was taken from a typical US facility and apparently the builders/designers, never stopped to consider that placing the emergency generators underground, on a coast regularly hit by tsunami and shaken by earthquakes, might not be the best plan. Despite all the speculation around the source of some of the radiation currently causing problems, there is, as yet, no evidence that the containment surrounding the reactor itself, has failed, though clearly the fuel rods have undergone a meltdown. At least the front page speculations in the newspapers have stopped, it is now a little further down the paper and probably will shortly vanish altogether. I am sorry to say that most of the media reporting I have seen has not been balanced and tended to fuel the "Ban the Bomb" sentiments rather than deal with the facts.

Here in Germany, the government has, sensibly, decided to close down the older reactors on advice from the scientists who advise them. This is a sensible move, not because these reactors are dangerous, but because the design and the technology that controls them is extremely old and updating any part of it simply creates further problems. That leaves us facing the question, of course, of how to replace their capacity to feed the nations needs. Here we find an interesting conundrum. Germany does have the capacity to supply the 30% currently provided by nuclear, with wind power. The problem there is that wind power is, without the government subsidy, the most expensive power available. It costs roughly 10 cents a megawatt compared to 2 cents for almost all other sources.

Nor is wind power 100% reliable. The wind does not always blow, and when it does it may not be within the parameters needed for these generators...

The problem is far more complex than simply nuclear versus coal versus wind versus solar power. The first step has to be to determine how we use power more efficiently so we actually need less, but that also runs into a problem with human nature. If I use less, it costs less, so I save, so I can use more ...

Probably the better way forward is to look at combinations of supply, so that all new buildings are more economical in all their power requirements. An intelligent building could be developed which would include solar panels and possibly wind generators, even piso-electric generators on stairs or passageway floors could be included so that simple movement can generate power. Using new lamps and lighting systems such as LEDs could also reduce the need for power, as could monitoring and shutting off lights in spaces that are not occupied. How about 'Climate Control' systems using natural airflows and humidity generating features to maintain balance and air circulation? Why build all glazed buildings in very hot climates where you then have to run a massive air conditioning plant just to make and keep it habitable?

Solar generators do exist and are viable, so is wind, gas, coal and probably nuclear, in a properly balanced system of supply, but before we can get anywhere near sorting out the solution we have to get rid of some of the hysteria and hype the media and certain pressure groups love to promote. If we can't do this simple thing, we might as well get used to living in mud huts off fruit and berries, without clean water, without modern medicines and without transport.

And, while we're at it - let's stop all the garbage about 'Anthropomorphic Global Warming' being caused by 'Carbon.'

Monday, 4 April 2011

Herb 'Snail'




Our Herb spiral taking shape. In German it is called a 'Kräuter Schnecke' - a Herb Snail - and it first required that we dig out the position, then fill the excavation with pebbles over geodesic cloth. Part of the hole had to be refilled with earth, as the South facing third - the lowest part in the pictures - doesn't require the drainage. Now we are building it up, 'step' by 'step,' with sand over the pebbles, then earth and compost mixture and finally compost. The plants will be added toward the end of the month, when we can be sure the frosty weather is well past.

It will now get some plant pots around it for a bit of colour and 'Herbert,' our water tub Troll and his dragon companions will occupy a space adjoining the tallest part closest the camera. By midsummer it will be looking great, though we have a lot to do still.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Spiral gardens ...

Our Herb Garden Spiral is now installed, but we are still filling it in accordance with the instructions with the layers of sand, earth and compost. It won't get its herbs installed until later this month - there is a still a risk of frost up here on our little mountain.

We got the construction finished just in time, the promised rain front arrived as we were clearing up and is providing just the right conditions for the sections we have finished to settle properly. Photos tomorrow probably!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Digging holes ...

Earlier this week Mausi and I decided we'd build a herbal spiral in our garden. Good plan, as it makes a nice feature - then I started digging. Did I mention we live near the top of a mountain? Rock you'd expect, but beneath the thin layer of shale-like rock is solid clay ...

Well, by Tuesday, the hole was dug and the layers of gravel begun. Then it rained. Did I mention the clay? ...

Nothing daunted, we laid out the first tier of the spiral border - and discovered I'd been a bit generous with my digging the hole. OK, so that's not hard to fix either, but we're making progress. Now, it's Friday, the hole is full of water and gravel, the spiral will be built tomorrow...

Now, where did we put the plug in here ....