Friday, November 16, 2012

Local pride

The website Pylon of the Month has given its award for September to a pylon between Milina and Argalasti in south west Pelion.  It is indeed a pylon of beauty.

Thanks to Kev

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Convincing proof of the existence of God - the Reverend Peter Mullen has seen the hand of the creator in an eclipse.
The sun is huge and ninety-three million miles away and the small moon is in our backyard, a mere quarter of a million miles away. Yet in an eclipse their discs precisely cover each other. Don’t therefore imagine that anyone designed it that way. It’s just a cosmic coincidence, isn’t it, Professor Dawkins?
He's an Anglican. I think he needs to take a lesson from a Catholic:

Friday, November 09, 2012


Driving back from teaching this afternoon with the car radio tuned automatically to Radio 4, the background speech became the foreground as this afternoon's play slowly drew me in. It was an end of life play. Sometimes, I find this genre buys its emotion cheaply. After all, however happy a life's story is, there is always a sad ending. We do not live for obliteration. But this one, about the last days of a composer, was well crafted and small snatches of exquisite music were used in the transitions between scenes. Was this fiction or based on the life of a real composer whose name I did not recognise?

And here is the joy of the modern, the great gift of technology. I went straight to the internet to discover that this was a real and neglected English composer, though of Irish descent and profoundly influenced by Ireland, E J Moeran. I had never heard of him. Within minutes I was listening to some of his music. Gorgeous. It is unfashionably lyrical for its time, but it doesn't have the sweetness of Finzi. There is complexity, darkness and tension, even as it ravishes. Serendipity sometimes brings gifts - and this is one that will last.

The play is available on iPlayer for the next seven days and here is his short piece, Lonely Waters, from 1931.

And for more, try his Violin Concerto here.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Droning on

Imran Kahn was a fine cricketer. Don't always expect the confidence needed to become a great sportsman to produce political wisdom. His pro-Taliban apologism makes me shudder, but his march against drone attacks has given him a positive hearing among Western leftists and brief problems with US immigration officials. So what about drones and the attacks aimed at the militants in Pakistan? This thoughtful piece from Pervez Hoodbhoy, representative of quite a few that are coming out of Pakistan at the moment, is worth reading in full. He writes:
A drone – of the kind discussed here – is a programmed killing machine. By definition it is self-propelled, semi-autonomous, and capable of negotiating difficult local environments. Remote handlers guide it towards an assigned target. A drone does not need to know why it must kill, only who and how. They have drenched Pakistan in blood, both of fighters and non-combatants. 
We know of the American drones, but he also talks of the Pakistani version:
Pakistan has many more drones than America. These are mullah-trained and mass-produced in madrassas and militant training camps. Their handlers are in Waziristan, not in Nevada. Like their aerial counterparts, they do not ask why they must kill. However, their targets lie among their own people, not in some distant country. Collateral damage does not matter.
And this is the problem with the moral outrage of moral people who recoil at the killing. If their anger is devoid of context and forgetful of consequence, if it focuses on one side to a conflict without looking at the other, it uses only half the world to describe the whole. Hoodbhoy asks the crucial question.
... who shall protect Pakistan’s population from religious militants, stop the daily dynamiting of girl’s schools and colleges, prevent human bombers from exploding themselves in mosques and markets, and end the slaughter of Shiites?
Who indeed? He tries to answer the question and concludes that, as part of a coordinated effort, "The use of aerial drones, terrible though it is, is a necessary evil."

It is an awful choice to have to make. However accurate the weapons, there is the certainty that innocent people will die. This is an inevitable consequence of a conscious decision. However, a drone attack may stop the deaths of unknown others elsewhere. Life and death becomes a random fate visited on people over which they have no control. It is easier to avoid the choice, to condemn the one and not the other, to hope the evil will pass. It is particularly easy if avoiding reality can be cloaked in moral righteousness. But there is no escape. If an undoubted evil is to be resisted, a choice has to be made. It is indeed awful; though utterly necessary.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The greatest game

First a reason for pride, once again Rugby League shows the way a sport can fight against prejudice:
Rugby League’s work in embracing inclusivity and tackling homophobia has been recognised by the RFL receiving the prestigious Stonewall Sports Award of the Year.
And secondly, they are now playing it in Greece. Check out the web site.


A week without the internet due to technical problems was a serious deprivation, extraordinarily so since I have lived most of my life without it. OK, I admit it. I am hooked.  So now, having switched the new router on a few minutes ago, I can return to action with the strangest news item of my missing week:
Jimmy Savile ... is said to have acted as a kind of marriage counsellor between Prince Charles and Diana.
 A single paedophile would seem to fit the bill for this sort of role perfectly. It was obviously a meeting of mutual dysfunctionality.