All entries for November 2006

November 20, 2006

Religion used to be one's own affair

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6165368.stm

In years gone by religion was something exercised privately by oneself. Now it seems, that it has become very public, whether we individually want it or not.

The woman in the BBC article in the link stated that she wears the cross to send other people a message. Initially, it seemed to be a straightforward question about religious symbols much like the debate on the muslim veil: what is allowed, what isn’t. But by saying that she is on something of a mission, she seems to have rather shot herself in the foot.


November 15, 2006

A perfect concert

I have been wondering recently what would make a perfect running order for an evening’s enjoyment at a concert hall. The only limitation I placed on my thought was that there should be a sensible choice of pieces in a sensible running order, the right sort of time length and and a complementary size of orchestra throughout. (I tried doing the same for a chamber music evening, but there’s just too much good music out there.)

So, my ideal orchestral concert would be:

Rossini – William Tell Overture – a delicate introduction before the rousing finale. (Some people might consider this a bit cheesy, but listen to all of it!)

Rachmanninov – Second Symphony – nearly the perfect symphony

- interval -

Mozart – Piano Concerto no. 20 – simple, complex, sinister, joyful…

Vaughan Williams – Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1 – A dreamy end to the evening

Anyone got other ideas?


November 13, 2006

Don't you want to live for ever?

Occasionally I get to drive around campus and am amazed at the number of people who just dive out onto the roads, apparently without fear of getting run over. Or just walk out onto the zebra crossings without waiting for the traffic to actually stop first. Maybe they labour under the belief that somehow the pedestrian crossing actually belongs irrefutably to the person on foot and therefore the car will stop. Every time.

Zebra crossings are meant to be a sort of joint arrangement between pedestrian and driver: the driver pauses to allow the pedestrian to cross, but there are no traffic lights so it’s more traditional than mandatory that the driver stops and is done as a gesture of good will towards said pedestrian from the driver who would appreciate a return gesture in the form of a small wave to say ‘thanks for stopping’.

But it seems rare and a real joy when someone actually does say ‘thanks’.

In the meantime, it seems most pedestrians are determined that sooner or later they will get their chance to be hit by a car or lorry. What’s up? Don’t you want to live forever?


November 06, 2006

Amnesty International bang to rights?

Does anyone know if there has ever been a time when organisations like Amnesty International or Liberty or similar have ever said:

“yup, they got ‘im bang to rights!”

and

“he/she deserved to go to jail/the hangman!”

or do they just mindlessly oppose everything because that’s the sum total of their purpose?

A bit like the way that any Briton caught smuggling tons of heroin into Thailand is immediately assumed to be a victim of those barbarian Orientals and must immediately be liberated using all available Western government pressure…


November 02, 2006

No wonder Iceland flouted the whaling ban…

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6108090.stm

According to the BBC web site, one dead fin whale can be processed into meat worth £95,000.

With those sort of numbers, it’s a surprise that there aren’t more people hunting whales! No wonder the Japanese won’t give up either… even if they are having to turn their catches into dog food because no one wants to eat it any more…


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