20 May 2009

Bank holiday weather

Let's hope this forecast for the coming Bank Holiday weekend in Lancaster is accurate.

Exciting developments in Lancaster

If you're a Lancaster resident, or if you're remotely bothered about the city, you may find this interesting.
Known as Lancaster Square Routes, the project aims to create a centre which both builds on the city’s history and heritage while still maintaining a modern outlook.Areas covered by the designs include:
  • Market Square
  • Signage improvements to the Castle Precinct
  • Market Street Illumination / Lighting
  • Sun Street Square / Sun Street
  • Horseshoe Corner
  • Castle and Quay green space
  • Castle and Priory Precinct
  • Key linking routes (Upper and Lower Church Street, Ffrances Passage and Gage Street)
If they get it right, this could be a very important regeneration project for the city's public spaces.

19 May 2009

Anderson just gets better

I've posted about James Anderson before, but I thought I had to post again following his excellent performance against the West Indies. I've just checked the ICC rankings, and Anderson is up to 7th place in the test bowler rankings. I hope he stays free of injury in the upcoming ODIs. If he does, he's going to be very important in the Ashes. If Flintoff comes back, we may even be in with a chance!

18 May 2009

Own goal for the BNP

I posted the other day about the BNP's annoying leaflet with photos of fine, upstanding, British professionals. Well thanks to Mrs Lanky's unfortunate addiction to the Daily Mail's website, I have become aware of this hilarious story about the fact that many of the models they used for the photos are of non-British origin! Maybe some prospective BNP voters might stumble across the story when they read their daily paper - not that I'm suggesting a link between the Daily Mail readership and BNP voters.

Angry atheists

Thanks to Phil Cooke for leading me to this article from the LA Times by Charlotte Allen. I like this bit:
I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.

Other people, most recently the British cultural critic Terry Eagleton in his new book, "Faith, Reason, and Revolution," take to task such superstar nonbelievers as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion") and political journalist Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great") for indulging in a philosophically primitive opposition of faith and reason that assumes that if science can't prove something, it doesn't exist.

And this bit:
Maybe atheists wouldn't be so unpopular if they stopped beating the drum until the hide splits on their second-favorite topic: How stupid people are who believe in God. This is a favorite Dawkins theme. In a recent interview with Trina Hoaks, the atheist blogger for the Examiner.com website, Dawkins described religious believers as follows: "They feel uneducated, which they are; often rather stupid, which they are; inferior, which they are; and paranoid about pointy-headed intellectuals from the East Coast looking down on them, which, with some justification, they do." Thanks, Richard!
I think she summarises some good points, and I actually like her combative style; it somehow seems fitting in the face of the vitriol of the atheist 'lobby'. I think she's right about the anger. People like Dawkins seem to be incredibly angry at a God in whom they don't believe. The other good point she makes is that the philosophical arguments often deployed by angry atheists are simplistic and naive. I'll have to see if I can find her book.

16 May 2009

New Sony Reader - but when will it get here?

I've just been checking out some review sites before I buy a NAS drive for all our music and photographs, and I came across this review of the next generation Sony Reader. It looks like there are some crucial improvements; integrated backlight, touch-sensitive screen, faster page transitions. Interesting!

What a week!

This week has been a difficult one! I came back from Cambridgeshire on Sunday evening, and I felt fine. By Monday morning, I was ill. I don't think it was swine-flu, but it knocked me for 6 and I was off work until Friday, when I nobly dragged myself in to work for an important committee meeting at which I was presenting a report. I still felt rough, but better than I had been feeling. Then this morning I felt rough again. I'm hoping that a restful evening of Eurovision kitsch will help me to recover further.
The good news is that during the week I was offered a place at Westcott House for a 2 year course commencing 2010. It now starts to feel like things are clicking in to place.

13 May 2009

A few interesting links about the BNP


Why do people vote for the BNP?

Today we had the 'pleasure' of receiving some delightful correspondence from the BNP. As you'll have guessed from my previous post, I don't have much time for the party and their ideas, and today's little present hasn't changed my mind. Lots of photographs of white people staring from the page; some of them well qualified professionals. Much mention of 'immigrants', and several references to armed conflicts in which the UK military has been successful.

Does this actually convince anyone? I suppose it must! The tabloid press does such a thorough job of whipping up fear out of nowhere that I suspect there are many people out there who have been conditioned by this kind of propaganda. Hopefully they haven't been brainwashed enough to actually vote for the BNP! 

11 May 2009

A plea to the people who probably don't read this blog

I realise the irony of the title of this post; to want to change the behaviour of some people who I don't think are reading! I feel I need to express my plea anyway, in the hope that someone might read it.

The European elections are coming up for us here in Britain, and with the recent succession of political calamity that has beset both the government and the opposition, I'm more scared than ever that the British National Party will gain ground. 

From a psephological* point of view, it seems very likely that mainstream voters are more likely to express their frustration with the main 2 or 3 parties in a European election, as they don't see value in the institution. It's not seen as a wasted vote, it's just a wake-up call in advance of the next general election, with no perceived consequences.

Either the LibDems will get their act together and cash in on this phenomenon, or the BNP and their chums will start to creep in. Especially in lancashire, this is a real danger - and it is a danger - just look here.

So here's my plea. If you are entitled to vote in the coming elections, please do so, and please don't vote for the BNP!

*the one word I have retained from an A level in Politics


Mike Peatman's news about his new post made me remember that I should post about the occurrances of the past few days. The news is that, following a visit to Westcott House, Mrs Lanky and I have decided that in the autumn of 2010, we will be heading south to Cambridge for me to go to vicar school.

Regular readers will recall that I went to a BAP (Bishops' Advisory Panel) at the end of 2008, and that I was recommended for training for priesthood in the Church of England. The next step has been to think about where I will train, and for a variety of reasons, Westcott seems to be the preferred option. Our visit to the college lasted 24 hours, and it allowed us to get a feel of the place in a more authentic way than a short visit. It also gave us the chance to socialise with some of the current students, one of whom we know from Lancaster. The visit also gave me the opportunity to explore the different courses available to me.

Finally, through a friend of a friend, we managed to go a long way towards getting a house sorted too. We could live in college, but with a housefull of furniture and cats (only 2 of these), we thought it would be better for us to 'live out'. We've found a house which is just about perfect for us; within 10 minutes from college by bike and 1/2 an hour on foot. It also has a garden and plenty of bedrooms for guests and little lankies.

All in all, a very satisfactory visit!

6 May 2009

The risk of a bacon sandwich

This piece on the BBC website interested me. I have a long-running bee-in-my-bonnet about the common government practice of telling me what not to eat, and how many carrots I should consume. I concur with the author's points about 'nudging' society towards epidemiologically 'better' ways of behaving, but I still find the tone of things like the 5-a-day campaign to be completely patronising. I also feel that this trend in British society has imposed a moral framework onto lifestyle choices which were previously left to the individual. Just think how most people react when they see a pregnant woman enjoying an alcoholic drink! The government advice is that abstinence is best, but the latest scientific studies conclude that the occasional drink will have no negative effects on the unborn child. Most pregnant women (including Mrs Lanky) do not drink at all, and it's in no small part due to the moral judgement that the behaviour now attracts.

E-books revisited

Mark Vernon has some interesting points about e-books. I've previously posted in support of the medium, following the acquisition of a Sony Reader for Mrs Lanky, and following Mark's persuasive piece, I still think they have a place.

I think Mark's right to insist that there is something about the embodiment of a book in paper form which is different from the embodiment of an e-book. I don't think you can argue an e-book has no embodiment, but you could say that its embodiment is non-unique, given that the reader-unit looks the same and feels the same with any book (apart from the content of the screen).

My wife loves her Sony Reader, and for someone who reads books by the tonne, it makes sense for her to have one. However, I share some of Mark Vernon's opinions,and as I don't currently read many books, I'd extend the issue to itunes. I still prefer to buy a CD; partly for the confidence brought by the posession of an incorruptible (relatively) 'embodied' artefact. You have bought a CD rather than some data.

I realise there's an amount of inconsistency here. CDs look very similar to each other, and are only unique due to the data they contain, and maybe a bit of printing on the top. Maybe it's less about uniqueness and more about the particularity of each artefact.


4 May 2009

How to make a Skoda disappear

I spotted this on our local bit of the BBC website. Clearly, the illusion can only work from one viewpoint, but this really is a clever piece of work. It reminds me of the graphics they put on the grass at sport events. When you look from any other angle apart from the intended camera angle, they are nonsense, but when you see them on the TV they look like they're standing up! Very clever.

1 May 2009

Good news for Durham

It looks like there is some good news for Durham. The cathedral authorities have finally stepped in to preserve the future of Christian bookselling in their fine city.