25 September 2008

Lancashire wind farm

The Scout Moor wind farm has finally opened. In my opinion, this is great news. I firmly believe that electricity generation by wind, when the farms are appropriately planned and located, has a significant part to play in the future of our energy provision.

Yeay for the stroppy Archbishops!

This post from David Keen is a neat summary of the latest proclamations from the ABs of C and Y. If you don't have the time or inclination to read all about it, read the highlighted text in red at the bottom of the post.

How can we be content to bail out banks to the tune of $700 billion and, at the same time, stand by as people suffer and die through poverty?

Some days I'm glad to be an Anglican!

22 September 2008

Quiet weekend

The quiet weekend I predicted did not materialise. Partly because we were busy, but also because my wife was talking to everyone she met about the wonder of the Sony Reader. It is very impressive! Get yourself to a branch of Waterstones and be prepared to genuflect in the presence of the wondrous offspring-of-Sony.

New beginnings part 2

After an unspecified amount of weekend working, I started my new job today. So far, so good! I have a card to get me into the building outside normal working hours, which is very exciting. Also exciting was the fact that the first face I saw this morning was that of the Vice Chancellor. He said hello to me - perhaps it was because I was wearing a smart suit.

My new working environment is open-plan, so the prospects for daytime blogging will be somewhat curtailed. In fact, the prospects of daytime web browsing will be curtailed! I've gone up a grade, and the expectations in my new job seem to be significantly higher than in my previous one. Looks like I need to get used to early-evening blogging.

19 September 2008

Roll on weekend!

I've been working quite frantically today! It's my last day in my current job, and I've been trying hard to get everything done before I finish. My new job starts on Monday (in another part of the same institution) and I think I'm ready for it now.

2 bits of weekend news:

Further to my earlier post, Lancashire have given me a spark of hope by coming from behind to beat Kent - Go Glen Chapple! Now they just have to beat 2nd in the table Somerset to stay up!

The Sony Reader has arrived. I may have a quiet weekend.

Lanky cricketers

I know that the majority of people who'll be reading this have no interest in cricket, but this won't stop me from posting on the subject.

Lancashire have had a shocking season in most respects. Their batting order has consistently failed to fire. Their bowling attack, whilst steady, has lacked venom. Their overseas signings have been patchy. The one glimmer of hope has been the performances of South African Francois Du Plessis, whose fielding in particular has been great.

We've been relegated in the Pro40, we under-achieved
in the Twenty20, and we now face a nervous relegation battle if we want to stay in the top-flight of English (and Welsh) County Cricket.

Last year we blamed the Lancashire weather for under-par performance, but this year every county has suffered from a lack of summer. So what's the excuse this time?

Let's hope that, inspired by Law's decent knock at Aigburth, they can give Kent a run for their money in what's left of their current match, and fight for their spot in Division One.

The picture is of Lanky, the Lancashire mascot.

Rapping physicists

Thanks To Rose for this link to the LHC Rap.

18 September 2008

I'm very tempted

My parents live quite close to the Hollands factory and I love pies, but I really should stop thinking about this.

Hoist by their own petard

I've been thinking about posting a comment on the 'creation in science lessons' issue, and my anger has just about settled down enough for me to do so. (David Keen has some good background on the topic here)

Shame on the Royal Society for 'allowing' Michael Reiss to resign over this issue! Surely what he said was absolute common sense! This is what I understand he said (my paraphrase):

If, in a science lesson (or anywhere else, for that matter), a child asks questions about the scientific credibility of the creationist view, rather than being rudely dismissive (the Dawkins approach), the teacher should seek to engage the child in a full discussion about the subject.

In his speech he estimated that 1 in 10 children come from a background where a literal view of creation is accepted. I'm not sure if the estimate is accurate, but even if his estimate is inflated, it's likely that there's a large number of children in this situation. Of course these children should be engaged over their views/beliefs. But note the use of the word 'engaged'. You can't expect a child to learn anything if you simply dismiss the view they've held for their entire knowing life as rubbish.

The Royal Society said that Reiss's comments had 'led to damage to the Society's reputation'. This seems somewhat ironic; I think that they have done it themselves.

17 September 2008


This story on the BBC Magazine site is of particular interest to me as my wife and I await the delivery of her latest toy, the Sony Reader. As diligent 21st century consumers, before we decided to order it we looked at a million* reviews on the web. We decided that the electronic book will never replace the paper book, but that we could see real benefits to having one.

Unlike me, my wife is one of those people who will regularly devour a novel in a couple of days. For her, an electronic book is just great. It means that we will no longer need to carry half a ton of reading matter on every holiday.

More than many other emerging technologies, this one seems to have rattled a lot of people. I feel I need to point out that no-one is going to force people to swap their library card for a memory stick! Books will not be sucked into a black hole created by Sony in collaboration with CERN! In fact, even if you buy an electronic book, it is rumoured that you will still be entitled to own traditional books too.

I suppose that I'm saying that there's room for lots of different technologies here. Perhaps the fervent critics should chill out a bit and just avoid buying a Sony Reader; after all, abstinence is the most powerful tool at the consumer's disposal.

If you're interested in the product and want a good honest review, have a look here.

*slight exaggeration

A rare specimen

Tom Allen's funeral is today in Edinburgh - I wish I could be there. On her blog, Maggi Dawn has a rare picture of a rare specimen. Rest in Peace Tom.

16 September 2008

Please provide a fresh sample

I remember when the science behind instrument sampling was still in its relative infancy, though not as far back as people like Rick Wakeman and their mellotrons. The birth of digital sampling was a massive leap from the tape based systems like the Chamberlin and the Mellotron, but it seemed to take a while for the technology to develop. It seems that one of the barriers to the creation of ultra-realistic samples has been storage space. The sounds produced by analogue instruments are extremely rich and variable. This richness and variability is what makes them sound authentic, but it also makes the resulting sound files 'large' in terms of data storage. Large used to mean slow, but now that mass storage is cheap and quick, it looks like instrument sampling might finally have been sorted out.

Maybe this will mean that digital 'pipe organs' will start to sound a bit more convincing. Let's hope so.

Dibley goes to Kazakhstan

This story about the rights for the Vicar of Dibley series being sold to Kazakhstan amused me. Partly because of the significant cultural differences between Dibley and Shymkent. But primarily because of this comment from the show's executive producer Jon Plowman, "This is brilliant. I have always felt that the people of Kazakhstan were the ideal audience for the vicar."

By the way, did you know that Kazakhstan is the largest land-locked country in the world?

15 September 2008

Life imitates art

As a fan of the West Wing, I was pleased to see that someone in the media has finally picked up on something that's been strikingly obvious to me for some time. Namely: Obama = Santos and McCain = Vinick.

I can't help wondering if Aaron Sorkin and his team weren't responsible for the whole 'pig in lipstick' fiasco. It sounded just like something that could have been intentionally crafted by Sam Seaborn or Toby Ziegler. I also wonder if life will continue to imitate art with the outcome of the election. Don't worry though, for those of you who are still plodding through the DVDs, I won't give you a spoiler!

Honestly though, the characters in the show are so similar to the real ones that it's just a little bit eerie! I bet the writers from the West Wing had to pinch themselves when the candidacies became clear.

14 September 2008

Sorry Charles, you were right.

I agree with the general position expressed within this story from Thinking Anglicans. But I also wonder about those within the wider communion who may take this as a formal rejection of creationism by the institution of the Church. As a happy-but-eclectic bunch, with a range of different ideas, is this apology intended to send out a message to creationists that they are no longer in-sync with the church; that they are wrong? A bold step!

After hearing an interview on the Today Programme this morning, I don't think this was the intention of the people who drafted the release, but I do wish the C of E would get a bit wiser to the world of spin and the media. Or perhaps that's a vain hope! Maybe the tabloids just have it in for the church, and therefore don't read beyond the first paragraph of a press release. Maybe the content of the press release has absolutely no bearing on the type of story they will write.

12 September 2008

Hen Harrier 4.0%

I'm pleased to see that the hen harrier is doing well in the Forest of Bowland. Perhaps a subliminal reason for my fondness for the bird is that it gives its name to rather nice beer.

11 September 2008

The green-eyed monster

I confess to a small amount of envy as I follow Matthew McMurray's posts about his move to Cambridge and the final preparations for the start of his training for ministry. Maybe it will spur me on to filling in the many many forms that need to be submitted before my BAP in November.

10 September 2008

...and I feel fine

I'm pleased to note that the world has not been sucked into a black hole following the recent activity at CERN. I hope they find something exciting, though I got the impression that the gaggle of waiting journalists were hoping for something more immediate and impressive.


I've been following the saga of the SPCK bookshops from the many blogs that have documented the issue. Today, reports have emerged about some legal issues faced by the Brewers connected with their bankruptcy claims.

As I read the news, I confess to sporting an entirely coincident smile.

New Beginnings

I don't know if there are good or bad reasons for starting a blog, but I've decided to begin blogging following the sudden death of a respected Anglican blogger with whom I worked for a while in the 1990s. To mark his passing, I felt like I had to throw something into the blogosphere about the BigBulkyAnglican and perhaps to try and follow in his footsteps by having a go at blogging.

Tom Allen was well known in church-related blogging circles for his bold and confident views on a range of subjects. My memories, however, are from Tom's time as Diocesan Youth Officer in Blackburn, Lancashire.

At a time when I was one of few young people still attending my church, Tom ran annual Diocesan youth weekends at Scargill House, and through these I was quickly drawn into a network of similarly aged people who were asking the same kinds of questions as me. Tom knew his audience! On a youth weekend, why end the programme at 11pm and expect everyone to go off to their bedrooms? Instead, Tom treated us to "Uncle Tom's Midnight Madness" - a selection of games and mad activities to wear out even the most energetic yoof! These weekends gave a lot of curious youngsters a credible place where they could be themselves, without any demands or expectations.

I got to know Tom better in 1996 when he asked me if I would be interested in a voluntary gap year in the youth office. After careful consideration, I decided to give it a go. I had a great year which built up to the start of 'unbelievable @ blackburn cathedral', a monthly alternative worship event. Tom's enthusiasm for music and sound equipment was infectious, and most of what I know about sound engineering came straight from him. In recent times, my eyes would light up when Tom's blog featured a recommended a piece of kit or news about the latest bargain he'd discovered.

More than anything else though, Tom made me feel confident in my own beliefs. His catholic background and experimental urge mirrored my own. I felt very uncomfortable with the rock-bank evangelical worship that many of my friends were into, and Tom's example enabled me to engage confidently with Wild Goose music, Taize and the emerging world of alternative worship.

I could say so much more, but brief is probably best. Rest in Peace Tom. You were an inspiration to me.