23 April 2010

Lanky, Lanky, Lanky, Lanky, Lancashire!

t's been a very busy week, and I'm very glad it's nearing an end. This week at work has been budgets week; we've been working out our aspirations for 2010/11 in fine detail, and for a £20m expenditure budget, that's a lot of detail! Needless to say, I'm frazzled!
Amongst the chaos of spreadsheets and calculators, I have had a little time to keep track of Lancashire's progress against Essex. James Anderson seems to have proved that the rest has done him good. I'm glad he wasn't involved in the IPL - I think fast bowlers work too hard to play cricket all the time. His return of 6 for 44 in the first innings and 2 for 14 so far in the second bodes well for the English summer, and vindicates his decision to forego the glitz and glamour of the IPL.
The domestic season for Lancashire has got off to a flying start: 
When I heard the new about Gary Keedy's injury, I was a bit anxious about the Lancashire spin attack. Keedy's one of those unsung veterans of English cricket, and I thought Lancashire might miss him badly. Then I hear about Kerrigan, the new talent from Preston! On debut against Warwickshire he took a total of 7 wickets including 5 for 43 in the second innings. I can guarantee, we will hear more about the latest Prestonian cricketing talent!
The other thing that excites me about Lancashire's prospects is the naming of this season's overseas players. Simon Katich and Shiv Chanderpaul are set to wing their respective ways to Old Trafford for part of the season, and given last year's failaings with the bat, it's good to see this kind of name appearing in the Lancashire squad list.

19 April 2010

All quiet on the environmental front

Has anyone else noticed that the 3 main parties have all gone very quiet on environmental issues? I suppose they don't play too well when the country is recovering from a massive recession, but it's something I'd like to hear much more about. I want to hear about their attitude to alternative energy production, nuclear power, waste/recycling and carbon emissions.I'm hoping that they'll speak up soon.

16 April 2010

I'm still excited

I watched the second half of the debate last night, and I have to say that I am still excited. I'll definitely be watching the next one.
I'm less convinced that Clegg was the clear winner than some commentators seem to be, but I do think he edged it. I think a large part of this is down to simple human nature; let me explain with a few descriptive words about each candidate from my perspective:
Gordon Brown - uncomfortable on live TV, apologetic, uncertain, false smile
David Cameron - young, posh, ruthless, posh, conveniently silent, posh
Nick Clegg - young, honest, normal, middle-class, honest, open, honest
People want to identify with the person they choose, and this often means finding the person most similar to them. On the descriptions above, and my own misconceptions about myself, I identify most closely with Nick Clegg.
Of course, this is only a small part of the motivation for voting, and the rational part of the brain will kick in for many people, but a lot of people will vote on the basis of this kind of instinctive judgement.
This makes my think (rather cynically, but probably accurately) that the LibDems had better debate coaching, and that perhaps Nick Clegg is more gifted in this particular art and therefore more receptive to the coaching. It doesn't necessarily mean that he would be any better than the other 2 as a Prime Minister.
Bring on the next one - I like seeing them squirm!

15 April 2010

A heated debate

Having recently watched the famed 'debate episode' of the West Wing, I am actually quite excited about the prospect of a TV debate between the main political party leaders. The West Wing episode I refer to was a live episode where Jimmy Smits' chartacter Matt Santos takes on the wiley Senator Vinick, played by Alan 'Hawkeye' Alda. The two candidates agree, at the beginning of the debate, to abandon the formal rules. Instead they have a good old fashioned 'heated debate' (who remembers Mrs Merton?)!
I heard on Radio 4 this morning that the real-life UK debate will follow quite strict rules, and I'll be very interested to see how they all do. Part of this is down to novelty; if it becomes a regular feature of British politics, I'm sure it will get boring. For now, though, I'm excited.

14 April 2010

More on Brian Cox

I was just having a look at my previous post about Brian Cox's run in with the astrological types, and I realised that I didn't actually offer any kind of opinion on the affair! Not that I'm suggesting that I should always express an opinion on this blog, but it occurred to me that the original post is rather vacuous.
Therefore I thought I'd seek to remedy this by siding with the scientist. I think Cox was right to express his opinion that astrology was a load of rubbish in the context of a BBC science programme, because that seems to be the consensus view of modern science! I would find it most disturbing if a professor of Physics said anything else on a programme about the science of the solar system.
If it had been billed as a programme about astrology, I don't think Cox would have been invited to contribute unless they wanted to portray a devil's advocate view from the unbelieving scientists. As it was, it was a show about science, so the astrologers just have to deal with it. Perhaps they shouldn't have watched in the first place.
The other issue is whether I agree with Cox's opinion (rather than his right to express it), and I'm happy to say that I do. Though I'm aware of the view held by some that Christianity (and all other religions) are guilty of irrational stargazing. My own view is that astrology amounts to little more than a set of systems for guessing the future based on the movements of objects in space. I haven't seen evidence that it works, and in actual fact, I have no need for a prediction tool anyway. I'd much rather work on the basis that I can't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Simple is best!

John Bell in Barton

For those who are intersted in such things, John Bell of the Iona Community is going to be in Barton (near Preston) on the 23rd April, using the title 'Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones' to explore the ways we worship and encourage more lay involvement. Find out more here and here.

13 April 2010

Easter is 50 days

I came across a blog yesterday (suggested by Google) which I decided to follow in my daily digest of blogs. Today's post has vindicated my decision to add it to my list. The blog is by a New Zealand based Anglican priest, Rev Bosco Peters, and it concentrates on the liturgy of the church.
Today's post expresses a view I've held for a long time; that Easter is a season as well as a festival day! In other words, the Alleluias and boisterous singing of the Vigil and Easter Sunday morning should continue to ring in our churches throughout the season - the 50 day season!
I'm sure that, in most churches, last Sunday's service still had some residual Easter hymns, but how long will this last? How long until we get back to business as usual?
This brings me onto another grumble I have. Society has taken Christmas to its heart (for better or worse), yet to me Easter is the spectacular and unique story we have to tell. I remember a youth leader from my younger years in East Lancashire who liked to make a massive fuss of Easter with us all. The way she explained her ethos has stuck with me ever since. She said that all of us have been born! The thing Jesus did that turned the world upside down was to rise again from the grave. Surely that's worth more than a day's worth of Alleluias and a chocolate egg. So I echo Rev Bosco's bid to maintain the celebration!

12 April 2010

Finding the time!

I was sent a reading list by the lovely folks at Westcott House last week. Along with it was the invitation to make a start on some of the reading, if possible, before arriving in September. I'd love to, but I'm afraid it will have to go on the list with the thousand other things I'd like to do before September.
I've already blogged about the growing list of practical things we need to get sorted, but there's the spiritual side too! Since being selected for training, I must confess that my 'discipline' for daily prayer has slipped somewhat. I always have good intentions on a Sunday, but by the time Monday comes around, I struggle to find the time and space through the week! Especially with LittleLanky on the scene.

Lovely day

It's amazing what a difference the sun can make. Today is gloriously sunny in LankyLand, and there's a noticable spring in my step. Am I the only one who is much more productive and cheery when the sun has got its hat on? 

One thing I'm looking forward to about our move southward is the higher average temperatures and the more frequent appearance of the sun. LankyLand is one of those places where the word 'summer' has an elusive and mythical status in the lexicon!

(The picture shows the UV part of the spectrum - hence the green)

9 April 2010

Brian Cox gets bashed by the astrologers

I came across this courtesy of a suggestion on my Google Reader homepage. It appears Prof Brian Cox got into hot water over stating that astrology is "a load of rubbish". I watched the BBC episode in question, and I remember thinking at the time that he might get into trouble with astrology fans.

iPhone adverts

Am I the only one who isn't sure about the latest Apple innovation to open up the iPhone OS to new forms of advertising? I want to reap the benefits of the new OS, especially the enhanced multitasking, but I'm not so keen on the introduction of advertising. 
Stephen Fry's interview with Steve Jobs (about the iPad) in Time Magazine has the Apple guru claiming that commercialism isn't their starting point:
I remind Jobs that at the product launch of the iPad in January, he had stood in front of two street signs, one reading "Liberal Arts," the other "Technology." "This is where I have always seen Apple," he told the audience, "at the intersection of the Liberal Arts and Technology."
I suggest there's a bit more to it than that; surely Apple stands at the intersection of liberal arts, technology and commerce? "Sure, what we do has to make commercial sense," Jobs concedes, "but it's never the starting point.
Can I not just have a beautifully desinged and engineered gadget? I don't even mind paying Apple's prices, but having done so, I don't expect my phone to start advertising to me as well!

8 April 2010

BBC confuse their clergy!

There is a sad local news story in Lancaster about the theft of some items from the Priory vicarage. The BBC have picked up the story but they have mixed their clergy:
 This screenshot shows the Bishop of Blackburn, but as you can see from the following screenshot from Virtual Lancaster, they've zoomed in on the wrong cleric:
The new vicar at the Priory is the chap on the left. I wonder how long it will take them to correct the mistake; I've just sent them a comment - let's see how long it takes them to correct it.