onsdag 29 juni 2011

Tu es Petrus

This setting is by William Byrd.

"And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. "

"And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed, even in heaven.”

Matthew 16 : 18-19

söndag 26 juni 2011

The threat from men with Asperger's syndrome

I see that another young man with Asperger's syndrome has been accused of making cyber attacks on government websites.

Surely it is up to those who run the websites to make sure that they are sufficiently defended against that kind of thing? One way of doing that would be to recruit IT experts to special posts for which Asperger's syndrome was one of the qualifications for the job.

The accused man should be appointed immediately.

fredag 24 juni 2011

Olympics tickets row

I can't understand what all the fuss is about. If I was forced to choose, I would rather spend a couple of hours standing on the platform at Stratford station watching the trains go by than watching any sport. And the benefit of the station is you can always get on a train and go somewhere else when you are bored.

torsdag 23 juni 2011

The Feast of Corpus Christi

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi and here in Brighton we shall be celebrating with a sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form, followed by a Blessed Sacrament procession. We are very fortunate in having a parish priest, Fr Ray Blake, who, gently but firmly, is promoting the traditional Catholic liturgy.

The feast of Corpus Christi commemorates the fact that the body of Christ - that is - God - is really present in the Blessed Sacrament under the appearances of ordinary bread and wine. Which is not so strange if one thinks about it for a moment. The choir is singing a Palestrina setting of the Sequence, part of the liturgy for the day composed by St Thomas Aquinas.

Gospel for the day
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. [52] If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. [53] The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? [54] Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. [55] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

[54] "Eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood"... To receive the body and blood of Christ, is a divine precept, insinuated in this text; which the faithful fulfil, though they receive but in one kind; because in one kind they receive both body and blood, which cannot be separated from each other. Hence, life eternal is here promised to the worthy receiving, though but in one kind. Ver. 52. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world. Ver. 58. He that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. Ver. 59. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

lördag 11 juni 2011

New Leica to be released soon.

As I guessed in this post last Autumn, some of the features in the experimental special Titanium edition M9 are now to appear in a new version of the standard M9. One of these changes will see the end of the opal window for projecting the frame lines onto the viewfinder image. This has been a feature of the Leica M series since it was introduced in 1953.

A change that I would like to see is the removal of the motorised shutter cocking and its replacement by a traditional lever-wind, which would be quieter, save battery and be one less thing to go wrong.

onsdag 8 juni 2011

Marxism - the undead corpse

Marxism is like a corpse that people will not accept is dead. The present difficulties with the economy have led to a revival of interest in his ideas. All the old stuff is coming up again.

The rise of evil regimes is an inevitable consequence of following Marxist ideology. The underlying philosophy is false. It rests on a false view of human nature. All the rest follows, Gulags, the NKVD. Pol Pot. And that is before the mixture of nonsense laced with half-truths that is his economics, which is bound to lead Marxist followers into chaos, poverty and dictatorship.

Marxist apologists give all sort of excuses, such as this

"The rise of evil regimes was a historical contingency, engendered by many other historical contingencies, such as: communism was not introduced on a global scale; the first communist revolution happened in a poor and backward country like Tsarist Russia, instead in democratic countries like Britain, France or USA with strong, politically conscious working classes and a tradition of relatively democratic politics; World War I diverted everyone`s attention from class struggle to national struggle; authoritarian tendencies of Tsarist ruling classes were carried over to the Russian communist ruling classes; Stalin was a paranoid and unhinged person (Trotsky for example was against anything totalitarian, with him in charge it would have been a different story); western capitalist countries were hostile to communist ones and helped curb any beginnings of democracy there by the constant threat of war."

The trouble is that there always is a historical contingency. It is interesting how the name of Trotsky so often comes up, as if there is some kind of lost paradise that is waiting to be brought back into being. Trotsky himself was as murderous as the rest of his gang, who demonstrated their proclivities in that direction the moment that Lenin came to power. There is no lost paradise. But even to blame it on contingency is to demonstrate the flaw in the Marxist system of thought.

Marxist apologists have more than a little of the religious fanatic about them. On indicator is a failure to look further than Marx. Thus

"To say that there is something inherently evil in Marx`s system of thought, the basic tenet of which is removing a flawed system of economy and replacing it with a fairer one, where people don`t exploit other people and keep them in poverty to get rich themselves, is about as ridiculous as saying Catcher in the Rye directly inspired Mark Chapman to shoot John Lennon, unless there is a line in the novel that says SHOOT HIM MARK!! that I seemed to have missed."

The assumptions in this statement are that the Marxist system of economy is not also flawed ort exploitative and that it actually addresses the wrongs of the "capitalist" system without replacing it with a fresh set of flaws of its own. That is a very big and unjustified assumption.

I would agree with Marxists that the capitalist system of production is flawed, but I would suggest that Marx was far from identifying the genesis and nature of the flaws. More plausible explanations exist and solutions have been proposed that would stand a better chance of success.

I suspect that most people who are attracted to Marxism simply because he was amongst the first to draw attention to the problems that arose in the years immediately after the Industrial Revolution and put forwards suggestions for doing something about them. And his followers made a lot of noise. Subsequent and more precise analysts have simply failed to get much of a hearing. In part this is because their analysis is more subtle (though not more complex), and not easily translated into slogans.

tisdag 7 juni 2011

E coli epidemic - not bean sprouts after all

I said a few days ago that I had my doubts about bean sprouts as a cause of the epidemic in Germany, and now it seems my doubts are confirmed.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of bacteriology would have come to the same conclusion so one must ask what kind of experts are being consulted by the authorities?

måndag 6 juni 2011

Who is creaming off the wealth?

Yesterday there was a visiting priest from the Holy Ghost Fathers making an appeal for funds for his parish in Zambia. He was saying how poor the people were.

Strange because Zambia produces nearly 20% of the world's copper. The country also has plenty of coal. If the wealth was nicely spread around most people should be comfortably off. Who is being allowed to cream it off? Why are they being allowed to get away with it?

E coli epidemic - rushing to conclusions

On further investigation, bean sprouts rather than Spanish cucumbers now turn out to be the likely cause of the toxic E coli epidemic. All of which shows that commentators are too quick to rush to conclusions.

However, I am still not entirely convinced that this is the whole story. From my own experience of bacteriology, I would suggest that to get them growing nicely, E coli need more nutrients than are to be found on the outside of a sprouting bean, where the bugs would just sit quietly waiting for their food. I suspect that something like mayonnaise dressing is involved too, and the concoction would need to be in a warmish place for a few hours for the numbers of bacteria to build up.

All of which sounds as if there could also be broader issues of hygiene in the places where food is being prepared, going beyond this particular epidemic.

Blue and yellow

Storskär at Stockholm quay by seadipper
Storskär at Stockholm quay, a photo by seadipper on Flickr.

Cloudy summer day in Stockholm

The death of civilised debate

The Guardian has been steadily reducing the number of articles on which comments are allowed. On the newspaper’s web site, which used to ap...