It's looking grim...

...but not as grim as when the Tories and their sidekicks release their plans to skewer the poor.

Three strikes and you are out

Not the ConDems new industrial relations policy but something equally as vile. Seems their latest plan to make the innocent pay for the sins of the capitalists in this new proposed 'Three Strikes and you're out' policy. Basically it's Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith planning to impose a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule that will remove benefits for three years from anyone caught trying to defraud the welfare state more than three times.

I actually think that the three strikes bit means something different, more along the lines of;

Strike 1 - involves the welfare state so despised by Daily Mail readers

Strike 2 - involves assorted ne'erdowells, single mums, wayward fathers, disabled people, Johnny Foreigner types, the type of people that Daily Mail readers assume are sponging off the state

Strike 3 - involves extra-judicial punishment to teach the rotters a lesson that the Daily Mail readers would approve of

How can the ConDems go wrong with such a policy!

I believe they can't go wrong because they will never get it past the judiciary. To my mind the whole concept of the welfare state is a contract between the citizens and and the state, overseen by those who we give leave to oversee the system - the politicians. The removal of benefits, whoever much brayed for by those who see it as 'socialism' is not going to happen.

If however your view of the welfare state is as a 'charity' then you might be led to believe that these benefits can be withdrawn at the whim of the administrator. Which reminds me of my favourite quote from Clem Attlee;

'In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways - they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice'.

To my mind the welfare state we have is the outworking of the virtue of Christian charity not merely preached but practised. Tinker with it and I'll happily man the barricades. And stay there until the government goes after the real abusers of the nations finances, the recipients of state capitalistm benefits, and Clem stops spinning.

((tag: condems, welfare state, Iain Duncan Smith))

Three Strikes and you are out

Thank you posterous, 30 minutes spent writing a post only to find out your sodding editor doesn't work in Opera.

Sunday morning worship

We shall see how this goes down this morning. Just me on guitar and hopefully someone else on the jemba!

There's just something otherworldly about Sacred music.

   (11440 KB)
Listen on posterous

I have to say that it is incredibly east to get content into Posterous!

Pastor Sam Lee - Reforming Pentecostalism

As the first decade of the new millennium is coming to an end, the Pentecostal movement is entering into a new phase in her developments: the Reformation Era in Pentecostalism.  This is an era of self-evaluating, self-awakening and reforming the Pentecostal movement as it is going on now. The Pentecostal Movement with its branches and side branches needs a reformation and a re-intervention on specific areas where things have been going out of hand or in areas that have been neglected.

Any Pentecostal Reformation is long overdue.

Honeybee Killer Found by Army and Entomologists

Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.

Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two.

A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One.

Exactly how that combination kills bees remains uncertain, the scientists said — a subject for the next round of research. But there are solid clues: both the virus and the fungus proliferate in cool, damp weather, and both do their dirty work in the bee gut, suggesting that insect nutrition is somehow compromised.

Liaisons between the military and academia are nothing new, of course. World War II, perhaps the most profound example, ended in an atomic strike on Japan in 1945 largely on the shoulders of scientist-soldiers in the Manhattan Project. And a group of scientists led by Jerry Bromenshenk of the University of Montana in Missoula has researched bee-related applications for the military in the past — developing, for example, a way to use honeybees in detecting land mines.

But researchers on both sides say that colony collapse may be the first time that the defense machinery of the post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security Department and academia have teamed up to address a problem that both sides say they might never have solved on their own.

“Together we could look at things nobody else was looking at,” said Colin Henderson, an associate professor at the University of Montana’s College of Technology and a member of Dr. Bromenshenk’s “Bee Alert” team.

Human nature and bee nature were interconnected in how the puzzle pieces came together. Two brothers helped foster communication across disciplines. A chance meeting and a saved business card proved pivotal. Even learning how to mash dead bees for analysis — a skill not taught at West Point — became a factor.

One perverse twist of colony collapse that has compounded the difficulty of solving it is that the bees do not just die — they fly off in every direction from the hive, then die alone and dispersed. That makes large numbers of bee autopsies — and yes, entomologists actually do those — problematic.

Dr. Bromenshenk’s team at the University of Montana and Montana State University in Bozeman, working with the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center northeast of Baltimore, said in their jointly written paper that the virus-fungus one-two punch was found in every killed colony the group studied. Neither agent alone seems able to devastate; together, the research suggests, they are 100 percent fatal.

“It’s chicken and egg in a sense — we don’t know which came first,” Dr. Bromenshenk said of the virus-fungus combo — nor is it clear, he added, whether one malady weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other’s destructive power. “They’re co-factors, that’s all we can say at the moment,” he said. “They’re both present in all these collapsed colonies.”

Research at the University of California, San Francisco, had already identified the fungus as part of the problem. And several RNA-based viruses had been detected as well. But the Army/Montana team, using a new software system developed by the military for analyzing proteins, uncovered a new DNA-based virus, and established a linkage to the fungus, called N. ceranae.

“Our mission is to have detection capability to protect the people in the field from anything biological,” said Charles H. Wick, a microbiologist at Edgewood. Bees, Dr. Wick said, proved to be a perfect opportunity to see what the Army’s analytic software tool could do. “We brought it to bear on this bee question, which is how we field-tested it,” he said.

The Army software system — an advance itself in the growing field of protein research, or proteomics — is designed to test and identify biological agents in circumstances where commanders might have no idea what sort of threat they face. The system searches out the unique proteins in a sample, then identifies a virus or other microscopic life form based on the proteins it is known to contain. The power of that idea in military or bee defense is immense, researchers say, in that it allows them to use what they already know to find something they did not even know they were looking for.

But it took a family connection — through David Wick, Charles’s brother — to really connect the dots. When colony collapse became news a few years ago, Mr. Wick, a tech entrepreneur who moved to Montana in the 1990s for the outdoor lifestyle, saw a television interview with Dr. Bromenshenk about bees.

Mr. Wick knew of his brother’s work in Maryland, and remembered meeting Dr. Bromenshenk at a business conference. A retained business card and a telephone call put the Army and the Bee Alert team buzzing around the same blossom.

The first steps were awkward, partly because the Army lab was not used to testing bees, or more specifically, to extracting bee proteins. “I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

The process eventually was refined. A mortar and pestle worked better than the desktop, and a coffee grinder worked best of all for making good bee paste.

Scientists in the project emphasize that their conclusions are not the final word. The pattern, they say, seems clear, but more research is needed to determine, for example, how further outbreaks might be prevented, and how much environmental factors like heat, cold or drought might play a role.

They said that combination attacks in nature, like the virus and fungus involved in bee deaths, are quite common, and that one answer in protecting bee colonies might be to focus on the fungus — controllable with antifungal agents — especially when the virus is detected.

Still unsolved is what makes the bees fly off into the wild yonder at the point of death. One theory, Dr. Bromenshenk said, is that the viral-fungal combination disrupts memory or navigating skills and the bees simply get lost. Another possibility, he said, is a kind of insect insanity.

In any event, the university’s bee operation itself proved vulnerable just last year, when nearly every bee disappeared over the course of the winter.

Let's hope this is the breakthrough that everyone has been looking for.

The Pirates - All In It Together (Rockpalast 1979)

I still have the 12" of this squirreled away somewhere. I should dust it off and play it for Cameron.

Here we go "Wee'ere all in it together!"

Well I would but I don't have a record player so the Youtube video will have to do.

The Pirates - All In It Together (Rockpalast 1979)

I still have the 12" of this squirreled away somewhere. I should dust it off and play it for Cameron.

Here we go "Wee'ere all in it together!"

Well I would but I don't have a record player so the Youtube video will have to do.

The Sensible Bond: Neither a borrower nor a borrower be

But there is another issue here and it is this: the more debt you are in, the more you are beholden to this consumerist culture. The more you have a stake in this tottering tower of interdependent debt, the more your interests lie in propping it up. I'm not underestimating here the power and the potential of debt. Nor am I denying that I have debts of my own! I'm simply questioning the probity of the conditions which its preponderance creates.

Ches has sussed why any transition away from capitalism seems to be becoming more and more difficult

Hypocrisy with a yellow tinge

Oh dear Nick, that's not good now is it?

Import Blogger into Posterous

I came across the import function on Posterous while having a look round to see how things work. Seemed a simple process, type in the web address for your blog, be it WP, Blogger and others, click the button and away it goes. Ten minutes later all my posts had been imported into Posterous. Job done.

It's made a good job of importing as well. Text, images and multimedia has been brought across and ispresented nicely. The only issue I had is that any script from Zemanta is left displayed as text at the bottom of the post.

Aside from that, a job donefrom Posterous.

Posterous or Tumblr

I've been having a rummage at convenient ways to add content to my online presence. I had my blogs, my twitter account, my picasaweb account and others. Then I came across Tumblr and Posterous.

Both seemed to do very similar things but there were a number of things that made me decide to use Posterous.

First off, Tumblr is extremely clunky when using Icecat on my Zenwalk laptop. It's not a problem exclusive to Tumblr but any application that relies too much on Javascript, or too much of the wrong type of Javascript ends up this way on my laptop.

Secondly Posterous can cross-post to wherever I want. So it's going to my blogs, image repositores and Youtube account where appropriate. And Psterous will also reformat stuff to fit wherever it's being sent. This is a serious timesaver.

Thirdly Posterous seems much more 'natural' to use than Tumblr. I really struggled making head or tail of using Tumble. Some have commented that Posterous has been 'engineered' and Tumblr 'designed'. Given that I am an engineer then maybe that's what swayed me!

So I'll be posting a bit using Posterous to see how it works out and how much use it will be. I'd be interested in people's take on the Posterous/Tumblr debate so feel free to comment.

Solomon Burke

In memory of Pastor Solomon Burke here is the man himself singing one of my favourites - None Of Us Are Free

RIP Solomon

Sent from my Nokia phone

21st Century Ents

Well they could be?

Sent from my Nokia phone

Emmanuel preaching at RCF

Emmanuel Bankole brings the word at Runnymede Christian Fellowship at Egham in Surrey.

If you're around Egham on a Sunday morning then please do consider visiting us!

Sent from my Nokia phone via posterous just to check and see if it's working.

Worldy Wiseman

Have the Catholics been feeling left out with the recent Methodist legal action mentioned in my previous post?

Seems there's moves afoot for a bit of priest-on-priest court action in the pipeline!

What in God's name is happening to our churches? We're meant to be in the world, not taking on the character of the world. All we need now to finish the show is for the Archbishop of Canterbury to slap a writ on Desmond Tutu's birthday cake. Happy birthday to Desmond tutu!

There is Method(ism) in their madness

Stripped image of John WesleyImage via Wikipedia
I don't know about you but I used to have an impression that the Methodist church in the UK was a denomination typified by being very, very nice people. The sort who wouldn't say boo to a goose yet would give you their last penny to the homeless if needed. In fact a church that I would have passed over if looking for a bit more get up and go, so to say. Looking a bit closer into their workings and teachings I see a much deeper Christian church which is highly concerned with the social gospel and a church that does speak and act louder than maybe their numbers would suggest. A church hidden from my view by my own ignorance I would suggest.

So I'm surprised to see signs of discord within the Methodist church over a resolution adopted by conference regarding the issue of the Occupied Territories and Illegal Settlements.

You can read the resolution over at the Connexions blog by Richard Hall, a Methodist minister. The resolution is hardly inflammatory stuff and concerns itself with goods emanating from illegal settlements.

But this resolution, adopted in a democratic style by the Methodist conference has rather annoyed one Methodist Preacher, David Hallam who is seeking to sue his own church for racism, anti-semitism and a breach of human rights. Although his initial blog post fails to mention that it is he who seeks to mount the legal challenge for some reason.

I have to say though that I'm mystified as to why and how David Hallam is seeking to involve the justice system. I can't for the life of me see any basis for a legal challenge. He is quoted in the Telegraph as saying:

What I object to is money which I am putting on the collection plate on a Sunday being used to fund a political campaign against the Jewish state. This is both discriminatory and a misuse of a charity's funds. The Methodist Church seems to think it has a God given right to tell Jews how to run their affairs. It is very disturbing we are getting involved in a territory where we don't have any members or churches.

I really cannot understand why he hasn't made full use of the Methodist church's internal grievance system, or at the end of the day accept that his church has made this resolution according to it's procedures and get over it!

Richard Hall is blogging about it here and elsewhere on his Connexions blog and is gathering quite a lot of responses.

It will be interesting to see where this goes, but God willing I hope it comes to a just and amicable end sooner rather than later. Things like this have a habit of turning nasty and unedifying.