100 years

Fine, 12°C, blustery sun.

100 years is a significant anniversary, one century ago, WWI came to a sudden end.

We marked the day with a trip to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall to see the lad perform in a choir.

Music: the performance was split in two across the interval. Before, each school’s choir performed and presented readings.

School orchestras can be slightly wobbly performers; for me, that’s a source of charm. Strings and brass seem to show this quality more than others. Usually, voices are spot on. Readings were delivered wonderfully, with clarity and measured pace.

Poppies: one moment stood out for me. The Last Post and 2 minutes silence are to be expected really. But then something spine tingling happened. The edge of your vision was caught by fluttering shapes. Red poppy petals slowly fell to the floor, sometimes, whole flower heads. It’s ironic that the most poignant moment in a concert was silence. That was a beautiful moment that afternoon.

The second half was taken up by a grand performance of Mozart’s Requiem. A strange choice, I thought; it was written over 150 before the Great War. I didn’t see what it offered of relevance to this day. The Requiem is a long drawn out dreary piece that left many in the audience browsing through their copy of the programme. With so many composers of the early 29thC who relate to the birth of modernity, why Mozart? The choice was probably a comprise selection to satisfy the 8+ schools who took part. Mozart undoubtedly has innovations to offer in the context of his time, but the modernist shift was far more fundamental. For some, Mozart represents the conformity and obeyance that led to the WWI disaster. One level, his Requiem represents poor taste.

It was lovely to see Birmingham.

You can forget how attached you are to a town until a later return: much has changed, new buildings and more going up.

Prisoners’ votes.

BBC.– prisoners won’t get the vote after all. The story brought up all sorts of arguments about justice, European interference, sovereignty and stuff. My problem was that I couldn’t easily make the bridges between arguments presented. On one hand, the debate is not really that important- the number of prisoners is relatively small and many of them aren’t going to vote anyway. The other side revolves around arguments of principle.
Today, I have made some headway after reading the above linked feature. There are several strands to balance:
Prisoners with long terms, more than one parliamentary term won’t be free to benefit from their vote. The changes in society voted for, they wouldn’t see.
Prisoners will not have their right to vote taken away by the state, they have made choices that led them to jail.*
Prisoners may be incarcerated for behaviour that was in protest at government policy. They could still retain the vote, in my scheme, so can still affect law-making.

So my current position is- give them the vote unless they are sentenced for a long time, longer than a parliamentary term.

Anyway, shut up, I am tired and want to go.
Posted on my phone.

Rioting = fun?

Is rioting good fun? I’ve never tried it myself but I hear that they’re rioting in Northern Ireland, something to do with how often they fly flags. A decision made by democratically elected local government, it’s said. Their own leaders have told the rioters to stop, but continues today.
In NI, have a long record of extreme action triggered by trivial, silly issues- flags, parades, marches and so on.
So with such absurd causes, what is the real reason for that behaviour?

Crime minister.

6°C, no wind.
No I didn’t vote yesterday either. I stayed away from the polling booth along with 88.4% of the electorate. One polling station ( in Devon I believe) didn’t receive a single vote. In that time, questions floated in my mind; what is crime commissioner? What do they do? And are we really supposed to make our decision based on the leaflet dropped through the door? There was nothing in it but party political nonsense. Why does the job have to be a political one?

One leaflet promised “more visible policing”- not the old “bobbies on the beat” cliché again is it? We know from previous experience that it looks great but makes little difference to crime prevention (it’s brilliant for crime re-location though). All I want these days from politicians is evidence based policy, giving sway to vested interests and pressure groups gives unsatisfactory results.

A very mysterious event.

Is it all over?

6°C, clear and starry (including Venus)
Is this trial over yet? Woke up to hear that US voding is complete. There were only two cannidates, they got the same number of votes but somehow Wilhard lost by a wide margin. The map is coloured by each state. Red for the right-wing and blue for the even-more-right-wing, or is that left wing in their currency? The news features centre around a small number do canndidates, and a large number of voders.
Their president, in practice has limited power, so at least when they elect a half-wit nazi (Bush), or an insane war mongerer (Reagan) they can’t do as much harm as they’d like. I don’t argue with Americans’ right to vote, nor that the outcome has an effect on us non-Americans, but that it would have been better to limit election news stories to once a month until this week. It doesn’t seen to matter who they get, whoever wins will still exert economic power (protectionism), world power (mainly by bombing people), environmental (by polluting us all) and general bullying.
British TV has bored and annoyed us with this story since Easter, and will drag it out some more I fear.
Morning news will remain un-watchable for some time.

Cash in hand

26°C, Sun, little wind.

It’s morally wrong: BBC. Spot the stupid assumptions-

  1. Cash paid to a builder is not declared for tax purposes.
  2. house-holders have a responsibility for the way tradesmen handle their tax affairs.

It’s okay though, politicians can make such declarations because they are experts on immoral behavior. This isn’t going to go down well, phrases like “people who live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones” spring to mind. I suppose it’s true that I am drawn into grumbling about the social demons policiticians and bankers. Grumbling is a bad thing and has the danger of becoming a habit. Let’s leave it there.


27°C, windy

Gove: “He said: “To suggest that anti-Semitism can ever be explained, rather than be condemned, is insensitive and, frankly, bizarre. AQA needs to explain how and why this question was included in an exam paper.”

Aah, freedom of expression. Where do I be

English: Michael Gove speaking at the Conserva...

Michael Gove speaking at the Conservative Party “Big Society” policy launch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

gin to explain why this is so very wrong. Gove has some responsibility to the nation for the education system. Maybe he wants a system that stifles free roaming thought, one that avoids an old, valid and effective technique to combat opponents= know your enemy”. The Anti-Semites are a standard opponent to post-war westerners. We speak of freedom of expression but the minister of education wants to prevent freedom of thought in this statement. Gove doesn’t want us to explain bigotry, he wants condemnation. Perhaps we are to think through our stance without discussing the issues. This is where he has gone so badly wrong. That is why I have reacted so much, even though he is a member of the much despised UK government. Sorry to say, I still haven’t found grounds to forgive their recent crimes against honesty and openness.

To be doing?

-2C~? Clear

I know language is an organic thing that evolves over the decades. But there is a trend that doesn’t rest easily with me, the prevalence of the passive present continuous voice. It’s everywhere and sounds so weak and excessively wordy. One day, not too far in the future you’ll hear this:

Will you be taking this man, to be having and to be holding…?

Yuk! Sometimes this form is necessary but more often it’s clumsy , wordy and just glaringly ugly.

Gay marriage- where to draw the line

17°C, no clouds. CR:68miles.

I’ve heard this challenge to Same Sex marriage a few times. Most recently from a colleague with some maturity & standing, though he does wear his Christianity as a badge (literally). The argument goes like this: If you allow same sex marriage, then what’s to stop someone marrying a donkey*, where will it end, where’d you draw the line (etc.).

*the animal suggested varies with each time the argument is used. Curiously, they never seem to choose an animal that mates for life. Perhaps they can’t think of one, or maybe that would weaken the strength of their case. Who knows?

It’s a surprisingly persistent argument for one so easy to dismiss.

The line is an easy one to draw- we use the same line that prevents forced marriage or underage marriage. The limit is defined by consent of the parties involved, plus societal norms. Marriage is a consenting union between adults. Neither donkeys nor children can give convincing consent to a marriage so they can’t, therefore, be married. So what problem can there be with a gay couple joining in a marriage with mutual consent?
The next argument that is trotted out sometimes is that it somehow, weakens the institution of marriage. No it doesn’t, traditional marriage remains unaffected. Straight marriage remains untouched and continues to exist as before.

Christianity plays some role in all of this, but don’t they have some idea about all men are created equal in the eyes of God? Clearly they’re not all equal in the eyes of the Church.

My remaining, unanswered question is – why would a gay couple want anything to do with a bigoted, homophobic institution like the Christian church anyway? After the way they have been treated in this debate and many before, I’d want to keep well away if I was in a position like theirs.