Sunday, 16 May 2010

September Song

I was on the way to work the other day and these lyrics came to mind.

This confusing fire where the flames fall down to earth
The world is upside down and in the autumn we forget
The pen within my hand led the ink into its mark
The book upon my lap now lies closed, its verse retired
No solace in these words, no mirror to the beauty here
The paper and the page, the poetry that fails and falls and dies

Can you make me live? Can your words be true?
Can you take this heart? Can you make it new?
Why can I not change all the pain I see?
Why do I do wrong? Is there something wrong with me?
My head is in my hands, the tears fall down my face,
Why do you forgive? Why cover me with grace?
How can I not search all these mysteries?
Forgive my unbelief, help me to believe

Like leaves the questions fall, silent, empty, stilled, untrue
And in my heart I know you will never change and all I have is you
In particular the chorus. Such an honest cry for Grace. For Mercy. For Peace.

Beautiful. Thank you, Daniel Goodman & Note for a Child.

You can hear the song on You Tube here.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Sunday Morning

Coming soon to a town near you...

It's always good when the Church can have a laugh at it's own expense.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Local People, Local Clothes, Local Schools, Local People

A few things are happening over the next two weeks or so to encourage people to give away things they don't need. At the 1st April, welivesimply encouraged people to give away things they don't use or need any more - it was then captured under the twitter #tag #foolpurge.

I can only report getting rid of a few old t-shirts that were surplus to requirements. We handed a few bags of clothes into our local Help the Aged shop.

Then I saw that this event was happening in the United States: Give your stuff away on 15 May. That's this weekend.

Pretty cool. If you are in the US: GET INVOLVED!

Then I read that there's something similar happening in the Scotland: Pass it on day on 5 June. That's in three weekends time.

In the meantime, our local school, Broxburn Academy now has a textile bank and a collection due on 23 June with all funds going to supply planners for the kids. Interestingly, the company involved are Rag Bag, based in Denny and employing 200 people in Scotland. Which is pretty cool too.

Clearly, the more we reuse, the less we waste and put into landfill. The less we need to buy new *stuff*. So, get involved wherever you can and see what you can give to someone else!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Not so bad

Well, yesterday, I wrote about optimism and a sense of hope for the future.

While politicians are famed for saying one thing and doing another, this statement on what's been agreed between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives is pretty interesting.

I don't put my hope in the words, or in who said them - but I think there's reason to be hopeful about what lies ahead.

What about you?

Stranger then Fiction

I love this film.

In particular, I love the overlayed infographics used throughout the film. Very cool.

Here's the clip, just double click on it to start:

 (it's a Quicktime clip, and was sourced here)

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Shelled & Shocked

Oh dear.

It's five days later and we still don't really know what's going on with the national government of the UK.

That said, at least there was a high turn out at the ballot box.

I've read a fair bit about what's been happening and watching people's comments on Twitter has been a laugh. But at the end of the day, none of us knows what is coming.

Will a swathe of collective despair at the Tories being *in charge* actually mean that they are as bad as we expect, or can we just wait and see what happens?

For all that our politicians are a funny bunch, we must remember that they are people, just like the rest of us. They are mortal, just like the rest of us. They feel pain and share joy, just like the rest of us. They even need to go to the loo, just like (most of) us.

So, whatever the next few hours, days, weeks, months and years have in store, my hope is not in people, power or even people in power. My faith is that Jesus is alive and that means there's a whole heap of hope (is that the collective noun) for the future.



Back (again)

A wee hiatus from bloggage for a few days. All that election *stuff* got me in a right state.

Not really, but a more normal service is on it's way...

Monday, 3 May 2010

The banter - part three

If you missed the previous two posts, read them
here and here.

This is the chat I had with Alistair Forrest, the UKIP candidate for the Livingston Constiuency. You can find him on Facebook here.
"Sorry to hear that you are not happy with all the candidates I myself am a working man and have been asked to stand for UKIP in the Livingston constituency I am a lorry driver and have a family so I am hard at work trying to support my family and as my wife works shifts in an operating theatre time as you can imagine is a premium. If you wish to find out more about me im on facebook (Alistair Forrest) I have a web site on the UKIP home page or yahoo messenger and last email if there is any thing else you need to ask policy wise or local please do get in touch"
I then emailed:
I was really driving towards the idea that we want to know what you're thinking about. Help us connect with you as a person.

Also, using these channels let's you ask questions of the audience too.

However, I totally get that you're not able to commit your days to that level of interaction - we've gotta earn a living after all!?

What's your view on the budget cuts for the Scottish Government?

And Alistair said:
"Im trying to do this campaing on a shoe string no expenses to try and get people to belive in an honest person can do the constituency a good service plus its not nice when people come knocking on your door at tea time or when you settle down to watch something on tv that you like so im trying to do it slightly different.As for connecting with me in person if I had the time available I would but as I said before need to earn the pennies I have two sons who bleed me and my wife dry with games clothes school trips BB camps and the like
"Policies are a guide to what a party wants to do and I feel that some only do this so you hear what they want you to hear.UKIPS main policy is to get a referendum on the EU as it costs us 40-45 million pounds per day for that priviledge and as we have seen over the past few days it may cost us more if Portugal follows Greece into money troubles other items on policy include a flat rate tax get a curb on immigration so as we get a more level playing field of people coming to the UK who have skills we need others can be seen on the web site link below .As for a lot of the local issues these come under the control of the Scottish parliament not Westminster any more the likes of Policing and Health Care
"hope that this helps in some way towards answering some of the questions dont hesitate to get intouch if you need to ask anything else.
I then asked:
It's always interesting how we think of meeting people "in person" as being face-to-face. I've got some really great friends who I've yet to meet in the flesh, but we connect through networks like Twitter & Facebook.

It's great that you messaged me here, for example.

I think the opportunity is for you (and the other candidates) to reach out to people in the constituency by sharing what you're doing online.

I've learned more about you in this interaction than I have from the UKIP site. I might not agree with all your policies, but I begin to get a feel for who you are.

That matters (to more people than just me!).

And it can be very quick (and easy) to share yourself with us.

My question about the funding of the Scottish Government was more about the Barnett Formula and how UKIP view the cuts needed to bring the economy back into balance - are you for huge cuts now & lots of (possibly unrealistic) efficiency savings, or are you all for a more measured approach?
Alistair replied with:

"I myself would like to see a measured approach wether or not this would happen would be another thing, in principal I agree this would be the best for the country as a whole and not the old four way split between North South East & West which causes enough division as it is. I do not agree with all the UKIP policies because I fel that if we all toed the party line we would all be just robots of the autonimous state
machine, and the one thing as they all say is that I am the typical working man but I feel I am anything but that pigeon holed individual
And you gotta admire the guys honesty, don't you?!

You can contact him here if you've got any questions.

The banter - part two

As you might have guessed, this post is linked to a previous one. This one. Which is linked to this one. And so on. And so on...

Anyway, here's the chat I got from the SSP candidate, Ally Hendry. You can see their blog here. You can contact Ally here.

"Thanks for enquiring about the Scottish Socialist Party, i have attached information about the branch locally, and am sorry we dont seem to have covered the area you live with our election material but we are a growing branch at present and cover all of West Lothian. We do have a west lothian blog which charts a lot of the work we have been doing and you can also check the national web site. I would be pleased to arrange a meeting with yourself to discuss the party further."

I think the most worrying part of the material is the labelling of non public-sector workers as "wage-slaves". Actually, it's not clear who isn't a wage slave from the material.

Funny, I don't think of myself as a slave to money. Do you?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The banter - part one

A couple of days ago, I emailed this to all the candidates for General Election on the constituency where I live.

I've had a few emails back, and I'm going to publish (most of) these over the next day or so. I've asked the permission of the candidates - and they said yes. It might be interesting for you guys, and it might even spark some questions of your own.

First to reply to the email was Lis Bardell of the SNP.

I'm attaching another leaflet (!) though accept that this doesn't necessarily equate to the kind of reach for authenticity through new media that you're advocating....In the use of new media, I feel a bit like I do with French....I understand more than I speak! I understand its value and possibilities but don't always know which button to press...

This election, however, has also brought home forcibly to me how things can get "buried" in email. The volume of messages I have received means that the immediacy of the medium is almost cancelled out by the volume!

Anyway, I'm encouraged that you liked the fact that I put favourite holiday pics on the did seem to me that they give a flavour of what I might be like as a person. As I say, "we're real Scots who like real we holiday in Scotland!"

That's also the reason I put an old-fashioned CV up....just as one would if applying for any job. The cv lists my real-life work experience and a bit about the kind of community commitment and involvement I've had.
Since this is my first time standing for any kind of political office, these are, essentially, the skills and experience I would bring to the job. I believe it's a good time to be a first time candidate, not associated with some of what has been going at Westminster.
I would like to think that those who have known me in my professional career in public service would say that I had conducted myself with integrity and complete commitment to accountability.

Two major things motivated me to consider putting myself forward to be a candidate.
Firstly, I was enormously angry about the Iraq War....both the decision itself and the way it was made by big majority government in the teeth of opposition from so many citizens and by, to put it kindly, the manipulation of information. I believe, still, that Iraq...and Afghanistan conflicts...will influence for the worse the world my children will inherit and I feel a continuing responsibility about that.

Secondly, when SNP won at Holyrood in 2007 and undertook minority government, I felt that politics in Scotland became more open, inclusive and exciting. There has been more of a chance for individual representatives to make a difference and also get a hearing for the concerns of local constituents. Which is surely what representative, democratic government should be about!

You ask for an idea of what I've been doing "on the campaign trail"......well, today I was out in Blackburn this morning.....delivering letters and speaking to people. Then I spoke to 200 members of the local Mosque in Craigshill followed by leafleting at the Mall in Craigshill and an interview with BBC Radio 4 "The World this Weekend" (Goes out Sunday, 1.00pm). Since I got home I've been answering emails and phone calls and will soon be on to phoning more voters.....who mostly seem to appreciate a candidate calling - even if they don't intend to vote for me! Will also try to get more up on my website since I understand that failure to do so invites immediate obsolescence!

In the course of the rest of the week, I've been in Fauldhouse, Stoneyburn, Breich, Midcalder, East Calder, Kirknewton, Craigshill; regularly making phone calls. Yesterday, I was visiting Livingston Credit Union with Angela Constance and John Swinney and then at the SNP Press Conference on the Economy in Edinburgh.

Earlier in the campaign we had a couple of "Ladies Days" reaching for the women's vote....."Ladies for Lis" and the "Bardell Belles" were out in Broxburn and Livingston.

That's just some of it! I find people, on the whole, very willing to engage which is great because, when I started, I kind of imagined that every encounter would be like Newsnight with Paxman! The public are much more polite and committed to give and take.

Which was pretty good as a starter for ten. We've exchanged a couple of emails since then. I'd asked a couple of questions about what Lis would do for accommodation and travel to/from London were she be to be elected. Here's the reply:

If elected, I would prefer to travel to London by train and hope it would be possible to pre-book....because prices at last minute are pretty frightening...and you can imagine the comments re expenses they requently are cheaper.

Re accommodation, I would have had no aspirations to purchase....and certainly no aspirations to a moat. I have lived in Craigshill for the last 25 years and holiday in caravans.....I like the simple life. I understand renting may now be centrally organised for incoming MPs.....and that sounds fine. Since there would be a lot of travel between London & Scotland, I'd ideally like to be able to walk to work in London.
I think it would be efficient to have somewhere to leave stuff rather than be always packing......

However, this is beginning to feel like tempting fate!! Outcome still uncertain....It's going to be a hectic few days ahead!

I've got more questions, so we'll see how things pan out over the days ahead... You can put your questions to Lis by email here.

Next up, the SSP. But that's for tomorrow!