Thursday, 7 November 2013

To Mr Brand......and to a lesser extent Mr Webb

I could be talking to myself but this Is what I want to say to Russell Brand.  Mr Brand you are right, the political classes are no longer representing the people.  We have swayed hugely from the constituency based model where MPs were our representatives to where we try and pick a party that might in someway represent some of what we think we might like or worse still we choose to vote negatively against what we definitely don't want. And all these party members are subject to the whip (insert your own joke here about politicians and whips).  As for Mr Webb, he is not looking at how the state chooses to parent your children, telling you when they should learn about sex, drugs or whatever, driving them towards the academic path when the vocational  may be better.  If only he had understood the Orwell that he read, he would understand that our children are already being stolen from their beds.....not in body, but in mind and agenda, one so pervasive that it often corrupts those out to change it.

Mr Brand I see the need for revolution, but revolution need not be rebellion.  Not voting is waving a white flag saying "whatever" a completely passive aggressive response to something that needs change.  Wee need independents free of party affiliation who can vote and advocate with conviction who can hear the voice and heartbeat of their community above the monotonous white noise of "The Party".  You can be the voice that calls them to arms, yours the banner under which they stand.  You don't need to be the prime minister just the catalyst to change the political landscape. Independents could hold the balance of power rather than party men, keeping constituency politics alive.

I realise there is a whole world of work to be done to sift and select candidates. I'll help, I'll bring others to help and when it's done we can all walk away, leaving the independents to be just that. We need change in just one electoral cycle to see a change to how we perceive politics and politicians to take better ownership of their selection.

Sincerely, get stuck in, promote the change and people will gather around to stand with you.

Make the change Mr Brand, make the change.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A dedicated follower of fashion.....

In 1966 The Kinks recorded Dedicated Follower of Fashion, not one of my favourite Kinks songs but instantly recognisable to anyone who like music from that era.  Personally I prefer Lazy Sunday Afternoon not least because it was a good friends never failing go to song when one too many "soda pops" had been drunk.

Don't worry I am not about to critique the back catalog of The Kinks, I am more interested in the lyrics... well actually the character in the song.  The dedicated follower of fashion intrigues me, he's still alive and maybe some of the addresses that the dedicated follower of fashion must visit have changed but his pilgrimage remains the same from store to store; magazine page to magazine page keeping up with the where fashion is is now at.  The guy is a disciple of fashion... he seeks out what the current move of fashion is and immerses himself in it, drinks it in, lives and breathes it.  There are peoples and groups in the world that have turned being a disciple into a passive be discipled..... it is done to them.  They then create a present participle....discipling.....and expect that this should be done by others. 

At no point does the disciple of fashion expect things to be done to him or for him.  He does not attend lectures, or one to one seminars on how to be more fashionable. He expects to be where fashion is at, go out and grab the latest trends and the latest news of what's hot and what is not, have the latest album downloaded, know the newest unsigned act, have a retweet from the star themselves.  Being a disciple is an active thing.....who on earth made it passive!?!?  I am not going to point fingers......I am just saying...... ACTIVE!

I don't know if the bible borrowed disciple from elsewhere or vice versa it doesn't really matter the thing I wanted to point out is that Jesus did not sit his disciples down and do Torah studies that I can see.  Nor did he have a 52 week course of study for them. He did not provide opportunities for them to practice where he was working he sent them away to do their own thing. That is not what made them disciples.

They followed, they asked questions, they tried to replicate, they followed more, they watched, they fought to be closest to him.  They actively pursued where he was at physically, spiritually and emotionally.  What made them follow him was the amazing life and love that went with him, certainly when I came to faith in 2007 it was not the "rules" about sex before marriage, drunkenness, or the like nor  the idea of hell, nor the moral rightness of christianity that persuaded me it was actually seeing just how beautiful Jesus was.  Something that people have seen for generations even the likes of Ghandi who didn't share a faith with him that I am aware of.  Since then I have, sometimes more sometimes less, tried to be where Jesus is at, at the edge following him in the crazy paths that have woven across my life.  I have been in places where there seemed no God and I have sought him out in the quiet place of my heart and sought him out in the craziness and joy of the highlights of my life and  built a very real and personal relationship, digging a well of friendship that won't run dry (something I have been pants at with other friendships if I am honest).  I am the disciple because I follow and sure in following I have been taught, corrected, disciplined, built encouraged and all the things people mean when they are asking to be discipled but only because I was there following when it got handed out.  I have missed way more probably because I was not following when it got handed out.

When you look at the disciple like this it makes Matthew 28 go and make disciples of all nations sound a whole load of different.  When you can't do it  to someone you just a have to be beautiful, so attractive that people just want to follow you...not just people ....nations.  How beautiful do you have to be for that.  I am back on Ghandi again: "if all christians were like christ India would have believed"you have to be some kind of beautiful!!!

Friday, 26 July 2013

All Killer....No Filler.... The Torwalt Kids Nail the art of the Album

The Sony HF-S90
90 minutes of mixtape mayhem!
Back when I was a kid you bought albums,  I am young enough that most of my purchase were cassette and not vinyl but old enough that I think buying albums on cassette means you are young.... you all know what a cassette is right?  Anyway it's not about the hardware it's about the's all about the music baby!!

Back then when cassettes were the new thing and you just hoped you didn't stretch the tape by rewinding and replaying your favourite track bands used to record albums with variety.  A metal band would have a couple of anthems, a power ballad or two (metal heads can be romantics too), a fast one and then a couple of other.....well fillers.  This wasn't just metal, the new romantics, ska and pretty much most pop went for a formula of an album with 3 singles worth of top music then some other experimental stuff that the band had written, that may or may not be like the stuff on that got them into the singles chart.  Somewhere along the line record execs started deciding what went into albums and used demographics....and probably the then equivalent of word clouds.... to select the content of albums and they became a unidimensional reflection of their buying public rather than.....well rather than an attempt to broaden a bands musical horizon in a sonic adventure.

But back in the day you wanted to now that an album was all killer and no filler meaning every track had something for you..... I give you......

This album is genuinely all killer no filler - Old School Style.  This is a true album and I for one want to stand on a table somewhere and applaud them.  Bryan has one of those voices that has you saying "oh he's a little like......." but then you change who is like with every song.  If you like the folky earthy feel of Mumford and Sons you'll love this chap; or if you like the troubadour talent of Damien Rice (but better) -he has that talent of singing just a nanosecond off the actual time of the song.  The sharp breaths at the beginning of each phrase lending something to the sound that you can't quite pick.....don't know what I mean check out the first 30 seconds of Holy Spirit.... but it is special nonetheless.

Katie Torwalt has a huge mountain to climb in terms of expectation because I grew up with Shirley Bassey, Suzi Quattro, Janis Joplin and Grace Slick - she however nails it.  Interestingly her voice is far harder to compare but it is like the gilding on their harmonies - maybe Sara Watkins but with a lower range that is made of honey covered notes - something a little bit country.  There is too much music out there now with women trying to power through the full 5 minutes of a track, Katie's voice is beautifully natural and any power is delivered to be a highlight rather than batter you into aural submission. "I see Heaven" is probably the track that you want to check out if you want to hear Katie in full flight!

What makes this a great album beyond the individual performances is the soundscapes they build and the range of music and even instrumentation they use.  "Sing Holy" will have you yelling along and then dropping back into places of reflection; it will change the atmosphere of a room and when it fades to silence you will want to stay there indefinitely.  "Nothing Holding Me Back" is the track for you if you are caught up in the New British Folk scene Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling watch out this couple are writing beautiful harmonies and melodies that will draw you in. A truly magical track.  In fact M&S you should take this couple on tour!!  At the other end of the scale you have the huge and theatrical "Let The Sound of Heaven", this will have all the air drummers bashing away at air cymbals everywhere!  I could write a little bit about every track, the trill in Katie's voice in "Glorious" another theatrical epic with choral sing-a-long ability,  the tub thumping romp of "He is Faithful".......Bryan must have been listening to heaps of William Matthews before recording this I had to make a double take of the ears!

My song of the album though is undoubtedly - "You Saved My Soul", light, airy, wistful, simply brilliant.  There is not a track on this album that you won't find something beautiful in: the carefully crafted lyrics, to the ornate and sculptured percussion, the "whole food" chord progressions.  There really aren't enough superlatives for this album.

It truly wins and ALL KILLER NO FILLER AWARD!!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

We will go on...

We will not go back, tomorrow when the Olympics is over and in the effort to drive a sensational story the media try to tell us that the legacy is not going to happen and politicians try to score points off the whole process by telling us the way they propose to do things is the best.

We have an opportunity to stand up and say, We will go on.  We respect what GB athletes have achieved and what The London Olympics has tried to achieve and we commit to The Legacy.  Because it is US who are the legacy.  It is is us who can get out into our communities and lead sport, it is us who can encourage our children to try something new, it is us who can personally donate to sports bodies who are generally charities.  It is US who can take hold of this moment and take our first steps to 2016. It is now that we can start to become a new sort of Games Maker.

Games Makers UK for 2016 will not let the inspirational efforts of 541 athletes get ignored in a media rating war or a political debate.  They will start taking steps now to ensure that 2016 sees us take Home Advantage on the road.  What does the Games Maker UK for 2016 look like?

If you are able then compete!

If you can fund them...then fund them!

If you can stand in the torrential rain watching them compete in a dreary corner of the UK ....then support them!

If you see a dream....... feed it, with anything you can!

If you see them stumble....send them encouragement!

If you have time ...... give it - to coach, to make the teas, to man the gates, to sweep the track, mark the lanes, whatever it takes.

If you can do nothing else take a piece of A4 and write four numbers on it  2-0-1-6 and place it in your window; send a message to your road, your neighbourhood, your town, to the young adults that make noise at 4 am that if they will commit to greatness you will back them because together as a nation we can make 2016 glorious.

Whatever it takes 2016

........Just a thought........

"reproduced without the permission of anyone"

Friday, 29 June 2012

OBAMACARE.....deconflicting rights and responsibilities.

As a professional logistician I spend a lot of time deconflicting things.  Deconflicting doesn't even register in spellcheck but it is an important word in my armoury.  Deconflicting logistical effort means not trying to receive 40 containers of stock on the day you conduct your automated resupply.

"Obamacare" is upheld by the Supreme Court and so a basic human right to healthcare is upheld.  Now part of me would like to get into the assumptions that a "basic right to healthcare" assumes.  It assumes a healthcare system perhaps a basic human right to health is a better phrase to alleviate the assumption.

Instead I want to head back to rights and responsibilities.  It would be crazy to suggest that universal healthcare is a bad thing.  The right to health is a good one and certainly in a religious and philosophical context most see the value of helping the sick.  So with the right to health comes the responsibility on society (not necessarily government) to safe guard that.  Whether society chooses to translate that responsibility onto its government is a thing for society to decide.   These rights and responsibilities don't really conflict though; but there is a responsibility that is hugely at odds with Obamacare, the responsibility to act with financial prudence.

The more I read about the US budget deficit the more I realise there is no clear picture; people within one report run between 15 and 16 trillion.....but it is the same area as the US' gross domestic product and that leads me not to Adam Smith, Keynes or the great economists but to the great literary figure of Charles Dickens, creator of Mr Micawber.

Micawber the lay economist is famed for his observation to David Copperfield:

“annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”   

What happens when your 19 pounds 19 and 6 does not meet your human responsibility to protect the health of others?  Do you borrow?  Surely there is an equal responsibility to keep good accounts?  There is a real risk that to continue to spend 20 pounds 0 and 6 will bankrupt you and render you unable to care for anyone.

So here is my quandary when looking at the Obamacare debate from the outside.....the debate is off centre.  I can't see that this is a debate of right or wrong it is surely more a debate on how to reconcile two conflicting responsibilities.  In such a debate there is a less confrontational air and both republicans and democrats can come together and look at how to better meet the responsibility society has to look after its own and to keep their accounts "in the black".  Wiser minds than mine must look at these problems and thrash out a way forward rather than enter the tiring treadmill of confrontation and flip flop legislation.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A missing "eous"

These are just thoughts, I am not going to edit them or polish them but they have been in my head a while and I want to put them down somewhere.

I have a question...

Where did the gospel of right come from?

Not righteous but rightness.

Too many times I see or hear division because people are asserting their rightness.

If you encounter a blind man in the street walking into things, you reach out to help him... you walk beside him.  If you enquired as to his blindness and he claimed he was not you wouldn't push the issue because what is the point, if a man walking into things who can't see doesn't want to admit he is blind no words from your mouth will convince him otherwise.

But put this in a spiritual context and people spend a lot of time telling folk how blind they are.  My only conclusion is that the only way to assure you own rightness is to convince everyone of their wrongness...and people are scared of wrongness because it brings punishment.....but what if the outcome isn't as important as the process what if being right is not as important as being righteous.

What if when you encounter a Mormon and he declares that he has the most up to date  revelation from God, you get excited for him and said I am so glad you have that revelation but I haven't been given it, let's pray together that God will open our eyes, what if you did that with Islam?  What if you had the confidence in your own belief to say I am open that I may be wrong about the doctrine I hang on to but let's go before God with prayer and fasting until he shows us who he is in this?

What if we chose love and relationship ahead of right?

What if we gave up our right to be right?

What if?

Friday, 9 March 2012


Is it a good thing I feel I have to have an opinion on #Kony2012 and I use the hashtag advisedly because this is a media event.  I have always had an opinion on Joseph Kony since 2004 and working in Sudan an area into which Kony made several visits - welcome and unwelcome. #Kony2012 is a different phenomena.

I don't like having to fall a hate Kony2012 or a hate Kony2012 cynicism camp - there is a bigger diversity of opinion available.

I don't think the filmmakers of #Kony2012 are vain or narcissitic - a criticism which is levelled at them often.  I don't think they over dramatised what has been going on.  I don't think the world knowing about Joseph Kony is a bad thing. So what do I think.

I do think that leveraging a media fearful global colonial power to come and correct the errors of the last global colonial power is perhaps unwise.  My own country created the north south divide of Uganda; is the US the best authority to clear it up?

I do think that the film will aid Joseph Kony to perpetuate his own myth in much the same way Mugabe did with hate media.

I do think it is good people are looking at world issues and I would like to think they will go beyond #Kony2012 and see that Uganda has needs that kill as many children as Joseph Kony.

I do think it is interesting to look at Joseph Kony's spiritual views: a man who believes he blessed by a water witch, is immortal, can breathe under water and never leaves his "safe territory".

I do think more needs to be understood about his support base that allows him to continue.

I do think Joseph Kony is an exceptional military leader and will not be beaten militarily, and that the Uganda government need to look at alternatives to military action.

I do think this is a civil war and not an international one.

Yesterday I blogged about human responsibilities so what is my human responsibility. Thank you #Kony2012 for making me question this.