Friday, August 24, 2007

Spin - things aren't what they seem

Terrible report on the BBC Website on the state of morale etc.. in the UK Armed Services. One person above all bears responsibility for this terrible state of affairs: our brave and well-trained forces continually let down by lack of equipment, lack of resources, and continual cuts. Step forward our grinning PM, who in 10 years as Chancellor effectively froze MoD budgets while wasting billions on bungled tax credits, NHS "modernisation", PFI etc.. And who now has given us a part-time Secretary of State for Defense.

Rather poingnant final column of Bill Deedes. And Jeff Randall lays into the false statistics paraded by the Government on crime.

Bob Diamond in the FT suggests that the present troubles in the financial markets are purely to do with the subprime mortgages - a view which seems, shall we say, rather optimistic!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The NHS, and Boris

For all the government spin, the Conservative attack re hospitals is hitting home. However look at how the BBC, and the NHS which is supposedly "non-political" pushes Labour Spin:"A spokeswoman for North Bristol NHS Trust - which covers Frenchay and Southmead hospitals - said Conservative claims that A&E services at Frenchay were under threat are "absolute rubbish". She told the BBC. "It simply isn't true and it's very annoying."
However, as the BBC has to admit "the A&E unit at Frenchay will be closed and a new one built at Southmead Hospital five miles away, where there is only a minor injury unit at the moment." In other words, it is completely true, not absolute rubbish.

On paper it might look as though closing District General Hospitals may save money, but:
  1. Most of the people in hospital are elderly and moving them further from their support networks is a disaster.
  2. Putting people in bigger hospitals makes it likely that they will have more tests.
  3. It also dilutes the quality of specialist care.
The puerile attacks on Boris Johnson also suggest that Labour is rattled by him. Great. Let's see what happens to the Brown Bounce when real politics is resumed.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Apostles, Sailing and Ruth Palmer

On Sat went to a great Prom performance of The Apostles in which our friend Cathy Wyn-Rogers was a soloist. Took elder Grandson - his first Prom. He very much enjoyed it and was looking forward to going backstage to see Cathy and the orchestra afterwards. However although Cathy had us on her guest list the security man said that due to Elf-n-Safety children were not allowed backstage. Cathy came up and was very nice, and a number of players in the CBSO came to say hi (and Nicholas Kenyon to apologise!) - but E.G. was most disappointed.

I'd never heard The Apostles and although it is not in the same league as Gerontius it's very interesting, not least because of the way it portrays Judas. Elgar was apparently very influenced by the theory the Judas betrayed Jesus "to force his hand".

Sunday sailing in the morning - crewing on a fast Cat which was great fun though very challenging. Then this evening an amazing time when Ruth Palmer came round and played (from memory) Beethoven's 7th violin sonata with me on my new piano. My accompanyments on the 1st and 4th movements were rather impressionistic alas, and I went too fast in the 4th movement, but WOW!! What a way to start an instrument. To prepare I had an hour's lesson on Friday with my old teacher who was luckily in London. She listened to Ruth's CD and her jaw dropped. She said "Nick, not being rude, why on earth is she coming to play with you?

Draft 7 of article basically finished - I plan to send it to Colin tomorrow but would love to hear from David (the Editor) first if possible.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cambridge Dinner, Faraday Institute, China

Back from fascinating dinner in Cambridge with John Polkinghorne, Simon & Zoe Conway-Morris, Dennis & Tina Alexander and B&B. This was partly social and partly to discuss the article. The work at the Faraday Institute is very encouraging, but they do need donations since Templeton operates on challenge funding.

The story of Christianity in China continues to excite. Apparently 10,000 Chinese become Christians every day. The article suggests that "Christianity will have become a Sino-centric religion two generations from now. China may be for the 21st century what Europe was during the 8th-11th centuries, and America has been during the past 200 years: the natural ground for mass evangelization. If this occurs, the world will change beyond our capacity to recognize it. Islam might defeat the western Europeans, simply by replacing their diminishing numbers with immigrants, but it will crumble beneath the challenge from the East."

Article is progressing well - Colin has sent his 6th draft and I must respond with the 7th.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Portland, HTB, Article, and a knock at the door

We went to Portland for 4 days of sailing training, came back on Sat and then raced on Sun. We missed the start of the first race because the Chairman of the sailing club told us we had to adjust the batten tension in our sails. But we still overhauled a number of boats. The 2nd race we started well and finished ahead of 5 others - this is our best result ever. Still an enormous scope for improvement but heartening.

Excellent sermon on Sunday at HTB on the Mark version of the young rich man - though strangely they left out the "eye of the needle" bit. We've made some adjustments to our charitable giving as a consequence.

Article making good progress - though Colin's Draft 6 cuts a lot of good material - it depends how many words David will allow.

Woke up on Sunday am to knock at the door and opened it to find grandduaghter (aged 1) standing there, looking determined. In my sleepy state I thought - but no, impossible - that she had knocked. Opened wider and her Mum was there as well. Not long though ...

A distraught e-correpsondent is starting to question his faith. Will God forgive him for doubts. Well Jesus stands at the door and knocks - and like our doors, it is locked from the inside

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Cameron and Miraj

Matthew d'Ancona thinks October will be decisive for Brown v Cameron. I'm not sure. Even if some rather gullible or pliable journalist have been persuaded that Brown represents change, the fact is that Brown still likes to meddle in everything, and was directly responsible for the under-investment in flood defenses, prisons and the army that have led to the present scandalous problems, whilst wasting billions on his pet schemes like tax credits.

Meanwhile The Sunday Times gives space to the appalling Ali Miraj. It emerges from his article that he did ask for a peerage but didn't "demand" one. It also seems that he doesn't like Sikhs and Rwandans. International Development is important and there isn't much "substance" in cancelling a visit to launch the international development policy so as to try to grab tele-coverage by wandering around in waders. I urge him to go and collect his reward from Gordon Brown (a peerage perhaps?) and stop trying to pretend he is something he isn't.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Election May 08 - Christians in China, Dopamine etc..

Senior Civil Servant friend says it has been chaos as almost every minister has been changed. We agree that no serious and sensible organisation would do this - but my friend says it's "pissing on lamp posts" with Brown marking his territory. He says General Election will be in May 08.

Iraq coalition deaths down to 1.5/day so far in Aug, anmd July was the lowest since March and well below trend for this period. Maybe the Surge is working?

It seems that the number of Christians in China may now be in excess of 130M - compared to the Communist Party membership of 70M. I've put this in Draft 5 of the article - I hope it survives.

Idiotic e-correspondent claims that religion is all because of dopamine - "we are dopamine machines". I, perhaps foolishly, reply explaining the biology is not that simple. He responds that my reply proves I am a dopamine machine. Ah well!!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Prisons, BnB and Prospect Article

Camilla Cavendish yesterday and Jonathan Aitken today are Absolutely spot-on. People will realise eventually that Brown is spin and Cameron has real policies for the deep issues, such as family breakdown, crime, school underperformance, that are harming our country.

Delightful dinner in Cambridge on Weds with ED and Son-in-Law (hereiafter BnB) and 3 friends who also live in Cambridge: S who worked for me when B was born now v eminent computer scientist and one former colleague of C's and her husband. S has hardly changed in 25 years - what a great guy. Stayed with BnB in their little house provided by Kings. Colin has emailed Draft 4 of the article so intensive work on that - it isn't easy writing something with a co-author whom you've only met once and with whom you fundamentally disagree - but it's very challenging and worthwhile and it seems we agree on a great deal.