Saturday, June 25, 2016

On Brexit, Boris and co must take responsibilty and should then trust the people on the specifics

From Der Spiegel Online
So the vote was narrowly Brexit, with London and Scotland voting Remain and the rest of the country for Leave - based on high turnout of C2DE voters who apparently believed that the "£350M per week" we sent to the EU could be spent on "our NHS" and removing VAT on petrol, and that the warnings of dire economic consequences were "scaremongering".

The day afterwards Sterling and the stockmarkets had plunged - recovering somewhat so that Sterling was "only" down 6% against the $. The FTSE 100 was only down 3% at the close and the FTSE 250, which has more UK exposure, 6%. This means we are now the 6th largest economy in the world - we were the 5th before Brexit - but the real problems are only just beginning. The Bank of England had to make £250bn of liquidity available to the financial system.  Exactly as forecast, the SNP are now suggested a second Independence Referendum for Scotland.  We will be very lucky to avoid a recession.

The following points seem pretty clear to me:
  1. Boris and co must take full responsibility for the situation they have created. It may be that they have indeed got the skills required to lead the country to a glorious future. But we need to find out as soon as possible.
  2. They must negotiate the specifics of our new relationship with the EU, with the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland. This should include what would happen if Scotland and Northern Ireland Remain in the EU and England & Wales Leave.
  3. They should then trust the people in a referendum on the specifics where the question is whether the voters Endorse the Brexit Deal or Reject it and vote to remain in the EU under the existing terms.  It should be clear that, if Scotland and Northern Ireland Reject the Brexit Deal, they will Remain and it will be the end of the United Kingdom.  
My guess is that under these conditions there would be an 80% vote in favour of Remain. But we shall see.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Prayer for the Referendum in Parliament Square

To Parliament Square for the prayer meeting to pray about the Referendum. It was an inspiring gathering and this photo doesn't do it justice. We clustered in small groups of 3-4 people and prayed together to a shared agenda, with each topic allocated about 10 minutes.

Having arrived early I had time to look at the moving memorial to Jo Cox. #LoveLikeJo is an inspiring idea - I do hope it lasts. I can find no reference to an explicit Christian faith, but she was clearly on the side of the Sheep and not the Goats!

Michael Gove's comparison of the Nobel Prizewinners and other scientists and economists against Brexit to the German scientists in the pay of the Nazis is breathtaking. Maybe he realises that Brexit would be a disaster and wants to lose deliberately?

Farage has pulled out of the Brexit debate for undisclosed "family reasons". I do hope he and his family are well. It would be much better if he withdrew from public life altogether and concentrated on them.

Let us hope and pray that the Referendum leads to a right result and that there is a speedy healing of the bitterness that it has engendered.  I''l be campaigning most of tomorrow.

PS (23 June) I spoke to a Leave "teller" in a polling station. She says Jo Cox was an evil marxist, and makes poisonous allegations against her husband. I didn't quite have the heart to ask if she thought Jo Cox was a "traitor" but I strongly suspect she did
PPS: I saw her later today and did ask her if she thought Jo Cox was a traitor. She did indeed.  So I asked if she deserved to be shot - she did not, and thought that was terrible.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Jo Cox RIP - she died defending her country

From Brendan Cox's Twitter Feed.
The photo on the left is from Jo Cox's husbard's twitter feed. It's: "the moment the #VoteLeave lot started hosing our kids with river water. Nice friendly lot."

One day later someone allegedly shouting "Britain First" shoots Jo Cox with a more lethal gun. She is now dead.

From all I've read she sounds like a wonderful woman. She died defending her country from the catastophe of Brexit, which in addition to the economic consequences - somewhere between Bad/Very Bad and Disater we cannot yet be sure - would surely lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom.

I am worried that a substantial proportion of my fellow-citzens have gone mad. Most of the Brexiters are either uneducated or simply out of touch with economic reality - though many their leaders are simply in it to "take control" for themselves.

Let us hope and pray that wiser counsels prevail and that the UK electorate does not vote to destroy the UK and wreck the economy.

PS I cannot find the name of the boat involved. Not listed in the pictures for "Fishing for Leave".

PPS (Responding to Andrew's comment below): I take some comfort from the facts that:
  1. The UK Electorate has never AFAIK in the last 100 years made a really stupid decision.
  2. The Spread Betting odds still show a 63% chance of Remain, despite the fact that the polls currently pretty much all show leads for Leave.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Psalm 137: We sat beside the streams of Babylon

Gebhard Fugel - By the Waters of Babylon
courtesy Wikipedia
Flying back from San Francisco I completed my (first draft) translation of Psalm 136 and made a first draft of Psalm 137.

This of course is a Psalm of great beauty and poingnancy with the shocking ending of calling on someone to kill small babies.

For a Christian it is a classic instance of how all scripture must be read in the light of Christ. Of course God does not want us to ask for revenge on our enemies let alone on the innocent child descendents. St Benedict has it right when he says this is about the need to lay hold of evil thoughts while they are still young and dash them against Christ

Anyway here is my translation, see what you think:
We sat beside the streams of Babylon
And wept when we remembered you, Zion.
On willows in its midst our harps we hung
For there our captors clamoured that we sung
And those who scorned us and had done us wrongs
Demanded gleefully: sing Zion's songs.
How sing The LORD's song in an alien land?
Forget Jerusalem? Forget my hand!
My tongue stick to my mouth if I forget
Jerusalem, or if I fail to set
Jerusalem above my highest joy.
Remember LORD the Edomites, the day
Jerusalem was battered and they say:
To the foundations down, destroy, destroy!
O Babylon's doomed daughter, blessed be
The one who pays you back, treats you as we
Have been by you. Who grabs your children small
And on a solid rock dashes them all.

The text in blue are words I have had to insert to make the verse work. Everything else is in the Hebrew.

Back from SF and Stanford

Coming up towards the Golden Gate
Just back from a fascinating 5 days in San Francisco.  Mostly unbloggable alas but I was able to catch up with one of our oldest and most delightful friends.

I was also able to spend a hour with Al Roth at Stanford whom I greatly admire. It was very interesting listening to some of his ideas and discussing a wide range of topics including the dysfunctional incentives on public company boards and CEOs and the upcoming UK Referendum and US Presidential Election.  In both cases the result ought not to be in doubt, and to be fair the spread betting markets give a roughly 70% chance of Remain and of Hilary being the next President. But these ought to be 90%.

Al took some graduate courses with our old family friend George B Danzig and here is a picture of me with him which I think might date from 1987.

And below is a photo I took walking back through Stanford after seeing Al.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Psalm 119

Foilo of Psalm 118 courtesy Wikipedia
I finished Psalm 119 on the 20th May but haven't had a chance to blog it until now. It's an amazing Psalm and an amazing privelege to work on it. I had a draft in English but I revied it extensively going through it with the Hebrew text.

Each stanza of 8 verses has all the verses beginning with successive letters of the Alphabet, and each verse mentions the Law but using a different word for it. In my version, except for the 6th stanza, I also always start each verse with a different word.

The 6th stanza in Hebrew begins with Wav and every verse begins with V which means And/But (and a few other things) but in Hebrew is a prefix to a word.  Fortunately our 6th letter is F - not I suppose an entire coincidence since F and V are cognate - so I was able to achieve the same effect.  I'm not going to trouble you with the whole Psalm, wonderful though it is - I'm remined of Edith Sitwell's wonderful anthology The Pleasures of Poetry where she wanted to include the whole of Paradise Lost but was told it was "too long". Here are the first, 6th and last stanzas. Words in blue are not in the Hebrew but are inserted to make the verses work.  I don't think they change the sense, but you can judge:

Ah blessed are those perfected in their way: those walking in the Torah of the LORD.
Also blessed they who keep His testimonies: yes those who seek for Him with all their heart
Avoiding every work of wickedness: in His ways they have walked their path in life.
Almighty, You have given Your commands: that we might faithfully adhere to them.
According to my prayers my ways direct: that I might keep to Your commandments true.
Assuredly not being put to shame: when all your statutes have held my regard
And I’ll praise you with uprightness of heart: when all your righteous judgements I have learned
Always will I adhere to your decrees: do not, I pray, forsake me utterly!
For your kind love will come to me O LORD: your help according to your promises
For then I'll find an answer to their taunts: becasue I've trusted in your faithful word
Forsake not from my mouth the word of truth: for in your judgements I have put my hope.
Forever will I keep to your Torah: for all time and indeed for evermore.
For will I walk in pathways free and broad: because I've sought out your commandments true.
For I'll proclaim your statutes before kings: and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
For I will take delight in your commands: which I have always cherished and have loved.
For I'll lift hands to your laws which I love: and I shall mediate on your decrees.
O LORD* let my appeal come to your presence: as per your words O make me understand.
Yes, let my supplication come before you: deliver me according to your promise.
You taught me your commandments and therefore: my lips will joyfully proclaim your praise.
Your utterances will my tongue proclaim: for all your precepts come in righteousness.
Yield up your hand to be my ready help: because your testimonies I have chosen.
Yearn do I ever for your help O LORD: because I take delight in your Torah.
Yea, may my soul live long and give your praise: and mayyour judgement help me from your hands*.
Yet seek your servant, strayed like a lost sheep:  for I have not forgotten your commands.
* The Divine Name of course begins with a Y.  Heb in penultimate line has "may your judgement bring me help"