Friday, 29 November 2013

Rampant credit, a lack of care, the loss of corporate Christianity create Britain 2013.

In Britain we live in one of the wealthiest countries of the world. Only in debt due to individual and national rampant stupidity.  We are also all living a lot longer and there are a lot of us and our population having been stable is rising again. One consequence is a health service under immense strain and talk of rationing. That health service is run by the best paid professions in the land: NHS admin, lawyers and doctors. Who wonders whether this rationing is coming to past? You smoke (I don't), we asked you to quit. We helped you, but you still smoke. We're warning you. You will not be prioritised for cancer treatment. You drink - a lot (I don't, hardly ever). You're under 40 with a fucked up liver. You won't kick the habit. Why should the NHS care after it has tried for a while? Your enjoyment of chocolate and 21st (and 20th) century eating habits has headed you to Type 2 diabetes, along with millions of others. Will we the NHS start rationing and prioritising treatment according to how good you are at self monitoring and providing the figures to prove it?

I don't precisedly know if we are going this way but I have a hunch we are. And I have a punch line. The day any doctor tells me I am not as important for treatment as anyone else because of health service rationing this will be my answer. Said person will almost certainly be a very well paid person (were this not Britain, were this Syria in a civil war, I can understand how the health service cannot do everything for everyone, although the very opposite of the case would apply in America). This then is my answer, my stupidity, my lack of discipline, my indulgence, my sin, all this did not stop my God and his Son putting their lives on the line and carrying the burden of our foolishness (possibly their's as well) to Death by our hands, beyond into Hell before arising again. We corporately as a nation need the Risen Life of Christ, to inform us from top to bottom. In the health service the decisions which may manage us to rationing care are the same principles that created Stafford. Not only are we heading to rationing but we are losing the very basics of Care (something which my mother's death in Norwich in 2005 informed). Numbers count more than people. And what is so sickening about this, is that it is the wealthy people who make these decisions. The bankers who led us astray, even the politicians, all speak from comfort. And when you talk about taxing the rich more, it is Schhhhhush, you may not do that. Whilst all the figures reveal that the gap between rich and poor in this nation in my life has grown.

Rampant credit creating boom and bust, a failing care system and the loss of corporate Christianity create Britain 2013. This makes me sound like a Marxist, Class War, a Communist. I am none of these things. I believe in Capital. I think the Bible shows a God who believes in Capital, in creation, in abundant wealth. But I also think the Bible says that good stewardship has to be the guardian of Capital. Personal morals and faith all connect intimately to the management of capital and care in a nation under God.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Dr Who

I know a Roman Catholic priest whose PhD was on the religious nature of the Apple computer brand.  Surely even more powerful and popular for the Brits is Dr Who? One man in multiple bodies. One God in three persons. A supreme being who takes human form and can suffer but who is largely concerned with helping despite a few temper tantrums and doubts. Does he have sex or not? He does form close relationships with special friends (his disciples). And above all there is mystery in Dr Who! Doctor who helps (is'nt that the Christ thing, he healed and helped?).

This could simply mean that the Christ story, Dr Who and many other such phenomena are literally myths relating to the deep human needs for help and answers to our condition. And if you're too big to recognise your need for help ponder on why Dr Who is so appealing.

Or it might mean that our God is so supremely awesome that not only did he create and sustain the universe but having finally got thoroughly browned off with the performance of those who claim his name facing the modern world, that he did the only sensible thing, rebrand himself as Dr Who and then over the next fifty years evolve a highly morally nuanced piece of television for his gospel.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Wikimedia at the Mining Insitute

This post was first published here (and has photos there)

Mining information at the Mining Institute


This post was written by Robert Forsythe, former Wikimedian in Residence at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

For fans of the Victorian Gothic and Dr Who’s Tardis, a visit to Newcastle upon Tyne’s North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (also known as “The Mining Institute”) is a must. The building is an outstanding creation in the Victorian Gothic style and, as with the Tardis, it is much more spacious than the outside might suggest.

Robert Forsythe began talking to the Mining Institute about a relationship with Wikimedians in the summer, a relationship cemented by a visit from Harry Mitchell – which itself was a direct result of the first Newcastle meetup in September. The outcome was a very successful editathon at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers on 6th November. Harry Mitchell led the event and 12 people attended from the North East of England. Four Wikimedians (Peter Gans, Dan Garry, Chris McKenna, and Harry Mitchell) travelled to Newcastle to assist. One newcomer to Wikimedia travelled all the way from Plymouth and was so impressed by the day she requested an editathon for her institution. At least five new accounts were created on the day (several people had already created accounts in anticipation of the event) and the new editors, helped by the experienced Wikimedians, made edits to multiple articles relating to the Mining Institutes’s collection and uploaded a couple of images to Wikimedia Commons.

The exercise was designed to develop relations between the staff and volunteers of the institute and Wikimedians. It was a great success in this, partly because some of the Wikimedians who travelled in came the night before and attended a lecture by Bill Lancaster in the Mining Institutes’s lecture theatre. The lecture revealed that key contributors from the North East have not been well served by classic academia despite a wealth of information existing about them. Bill Lancaster expressed the hope that Wikimedia could be a tool to pay people like Christopher Blackett and Edmund Mills Hann their due.

A number of the institutes’s trustees and management team spoke directly about the opportunity they saw over the two days the Wikimedians were in town. As part of the learning curve, Jennifer Hillyard, the institutes’s librarian took everyone on a tour of the institute. This included seeing a very early painting of the coal industry whose uploading to Wikimedia Commons she suggested. The Institute has always had an excellent library. However in recent years some very significant collections threatened by the implosion of Britain’s coal mining industry have arrived. All of us were somewhat stunned by 16 roller racked rows of material which had arrived. One whole row contained 16,700 pamphlets from the Coal Research Establishment in Stoke Orchard (near Cheltenham). Another massive rack is full of German mining resources. The institute is therefore in pole position in terms of providing an authoritative view into the mining world of Britain and further afield. And it wishes to see Wikimedia Commons, Wikisource, Wikipedia contributions as routes whereby its increasingly very rare holdings are made available to the world wide audience.

Discussions are ongoing about the possibility of a follow-up event and about other projects which can be undertaken with the Mining Institute so watch this space.

Robert Forsythe was previously the first Wikimedian in Residence in the North East of England, serving with the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums service. Since the summer he has been assisting the Mining Institute develop its Wikimedia relationship. Along with  Harry Mitchell, Robert ran the event.


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Children in Need

It is often said that the UK is addicted to the cult of the amateur (my wife shouts loudly the "hamster"). We would both argue that the National Lottery and Children in Need showcase this. The ruling elite (at least in England) have worked out that clever use of the media holds the mass in the perpetual grip of a sop culture (completely eclipsing anything the Church or the Commies ever achieved). Who noticed last night being hailed as "the greatest night of the year"? Of course these were all deserving causes. But our filthy rich nation has decided these good causes should not be funded by taxation but by charity. A whole series of essentially short term fixes which do help people but also enable the population to feel good and to have a good night out. Why is'nt everything Children in Need achieves being quietly funded by the nation without any fuss? Because in British mentality, government is to be distrusted and individual amateurism and voluntary effort applauded. So because the nation was busy texting funds to CIN (that was the Twitter hash tag (THINK ABOUT IT), I pay palled the Red Cross in respect of the Philipines.

I guess many might be upset to read all this but please answer this simple question: was there anything in Children In Need which was a luxury and not a neccessity? Was the project to give British childen decent beds to sleep in dispensible? Do you want a wealthy country were we need volunteer effort to give our children the most basic of necessities? Someone will say "what were you doing watching this you grump"? I have a 13 year old daughter for whom it was indispensable viewing.