Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Gay man forced out of 'Muslim area' - in UK

I hope that the guy responsible for this video is prosecuted. I have nothing else to say about it. The content speaks for itself.


There have been arrests made.

Homophobic abuse 'vigilante' victim urged to come forward

Fifth person arrested in Muslim gang probe

My local news outlet, thisiscornwall, continues to publish anti-journalistic religious sermons as news

I have lost count how many times I have complained to my local on-line news outlet, thisicornwall.co.uk, about their insistence on slipping religious screeds like the following into their news feed, but I have had enough of it and am suitably pissed off enough to take them to task through whatever channels are available to me in order to bring their anti-journalistic practices to a close.

We can look forward to a brighter future with Jesus
By The Rev David Bagwell
SOMEONE crashed into me last week – I was there on the corner of Cross Street and Chapel Street when this young man banged into me from behind.
Head bowed with a mobile phone to his ear, he walked around the corner and didn't see me – a stationary pedestrian waiting to cross the road – until it was too late.
It's a growing problem as more and more people walk and phone concurrently along our narrow pavements, not looking around them let alone looking forward, which is a shame, because apart from the safety considerations one of the joys of walking is the chance to take in what's around you.
And spiritually, too, there's a message here, as the ability to look forward lies at the heart of any meaningful progress in life.
At the start of a new year, it's good to be able to look forward to something new, something different, something better. And then to plan for it, work for it and dream it.
The story of Jesus is a story of someone who gave those who had nothing to look forward to a new beginning, gave those who had lost all hope something to hope for, gave those who had no direction a wider and deeper purpose in life.
Simeon, having met with the child Jesus in the temple, expressed it: "With my own eyes I have now seen the salvation which God has prepared for all people" – Luke ii, 30 to 31.
He was saying that he was now able to look forward to a brighter and better future, knowing that God was making all things new.
For those who at the start of this year are only looking back with fading memories rather than looking forward with expectation, or looking around but not sure how to move on, Jesus can still be "the way, the truth and the life" – John xiv, 6.
Despite the economic gloom, be assured that there is still much to look forward to as we travel on together with Jesus as our guide.
I ask you, if you were to subscribe to a news feed on an on-line news media outlet, would you be surprised if - in amongst the stories about Government cuts and car crashes on the region's roads - the above was included (presumably by someone with some degree of journalistic experience)?

No. Neither would I. Hence the following was sent to them as I reported the 'article' as 'religious abuse':

Yet again, I am complaining about religious screeds under the guise of news on your site. And I am fed up with it.
Would you please stop this practice with immediate effect.
Also, would you please send me a statement of your intent on the inclusion of further 'articles' of this stripe in the future, so I can make a considered decision about what action I am to take with your insistence on promulgating anti-journalistic practices?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Daily digest - Wednesday, 16 January 2012

So much for my busy morning, I can't remember what it was I was supposed to be doing (Oh yeah. I was meant to be strimming my garden. Too wet right now, but two days of dry weather forecast, so maybe later or tomorrow).

It would appear yesterday's link to the Stephen Law podcast didn't work, so it is - perhaps - fortunate that +Kylie Sturgess posted her January interview with him today. Click here to hear it. 

As an addendum to yesterday's European Court judgement on Christian persecution (or whatever), here is a pdf of the full judgement.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Daily digest - Tuesday, 15 January 2012

Cor! Busy news day today. I have only managed to get one post out, and that was mainly copypasta. It is a good read, though.

The big news today, of course, is the European Court ruling on the four Christians that were claiming some sort of religious discrimination or wrongful dismissal, or something. Only one of them had their case upheld, and I disagree with that. Especially in light of Stephen Law's article.

One item that - for some unknown reason - didn't seem to make the news, was that the Cornwall Council General meeting voted against introducing a plan that would see the county's poorest people footing the entire bill for central Government cuts. I don't hold these people in very high regard, but the right decision was returned today. The Conservatives had better watch their backs at the local elections in May. UPDATE: BBC has a report here.

Short intro tonight. It is getting late and I plan a busy morning ahead.

Is religious freedom threatened by gay rights? Stephen Law steals my thunder

I was in the middle of preparing a long post about today's European Court decisions on the four Christians that had appealed their Supreme Court dismissals for violations of discrimination laws, when up popped an article by philosopher, Stephen Law who encapsulated everything I wanted to say (and very likely a fair bit more).

It is a weighty piece, but worth the effort. His thoughts on the subject is framed in a wider context than I would have used, but it is all the more powerful because of it. Below is a selection of what I feel are the most salient points, but you should really sit down with a cuppa and read the article in its entirety.

The results, by the way were that three of the four cases were dismissed, the fourth being upheld for BA employee, Nadia Eweida.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Daily digest - Monday, 14 January 2012

Well, I have had a busy day debating and writing about same sex marriage. Two articles have been posted (first, a letter to Andrew George MP, and the second a response to one of the commenters on the original thisiscornwall page). I am appalled that such bigots exist in my region, but perhaps, should not be surprised. Where Christianity exists, bigotry will follow. Go vote up my comments here.

There was also one of those 'lighter moments' pieces that the BBC runs occasionally. It would appear that the Queen's Bentley limousine wouldn't start when she came to leave church. It was a good job Bishop Cottrell was at hand to administer some divine vehicular maintenance.

After posting yesterday's Daily Digest, I considered the fact that - considering I don't post this until quite late in the day - perhaps the following day's tide times might be more useful to people. Done and done.

God starts Queen's Bentley

Well, so this report on the BBC News website alludes.

Bishop Cottrell said he was standing with the Queen waiting for the Bentley to pick her up.
He said: "He [the chauffeur] got into the car, put the key into the ignition and it made that kind of throaty rasping noise that cars make when they are not going to start.
"So he tried again and again it makes the noise... three or four times.
"At this point, really for a bit of fun, I just took a little step forward and made a blessing over the car, which got a laugh from the crowd. 
"The chauffeur tried the key again and it started. So then there was a great round of applause."

Surprisingly, the bishop didn't make a song and dance about vehicular intercessory blessings.

"It is one of those nice little incidents," he said. "We all saw the funny side of it."

Response to Bartribe on same sex marriage

I have already posted on this subject today (if you want to read this first, I'll wait here), and have copied my initial response to my Daily Digest (*taps toes, waiting for you to read this too)

After having gone back to check for updates (which there were. Sarah Newton MP distanced herself quite vociferously against the dishonest practices of Coalition for Marriage), I read a comment by a person who named themselves barrtribe. Have left the spelling and grammatical mistakes as they were presented.

UPDATED Same sex marriage - Coalition for Marriage activists inspire people to contact their MPs

Regarding the story in thisiscornwall on the opponents of gay marriage taking to streets of Cornwall, I was moved to agree with the Coalition for Marriage (C4M - I'll not be linking to them) national campaign director, Colin Hart, regarding letting voters have their say. 

There is a clear consensus amongst the voters of this country that same sex marriage is not only okay, but something we as a nation should aspire to. He asks us to contact our MPs and let them know how we feel on the matter.

Brilliant idea!

Contact your MP and let him/her know both how you feel about same sex marriage, and if they are prepared to take a definitive stance in favour of it.

I did...


Andrew George MP
St Ives

Monday 14 January 2013
Tris Stock
TR** ***

Dear Andrew George,

I have just been reading the following item on same sex marriage on thisiscornwall  and was moved by the words of C4M's national campaign director, Colin Hart, who said:

"Our local activists are fired up to make sure voters have their say. We have identified these three marginal Cornish seats as key, together with 62 others nationwide. MPs can expect local voters to be pressing them on where they stand on the redefinition of marriage."

I couldn't agree more.

Equality comes before division in a fair and just society, so allowing all people - regardless of their sexuality or gender - to enjoy the rights currently afforded to only one demographic, is the only reasonable course of action. And the majority of the British public agrees:

Three in five voters back gay marriage - The Guardian
Gay marriage: public say Church is wrong - The Independent 
Britons vote in favour of same-sex marriage - The Daily Mail

Will you join Mr Hart and myself in publicly supporting people's representation on same-sex marriage? Perhaps you could also take a clear stand in favour of same sex marriage?

Yours sincerely,

Mr Tris Stock


I have a reply from Andrew George MP:


Thank you for your recent email in support of equal marriage. I agree with you.

I am aware that this is an issue which provokes strong opinions and passionate debate.  I also acknowledge that there is an established view held by some people of what are perceived to be 'conventional' (and acceptable) and 'unconventional' (and unacceptable) relationships.  Personally, irrespective of my own nature, I am always pleased to celebrate both the public declaration of love and the commitment to an enduring fidelity between two adults, irrespective of who they are or what their nature is.  I do not take the view that there are first order relationships and second; nor that there are superior and inferior marriages.

I will look carefully at the outcome of the Government's consultation into their proposals and monitor the debate carefully.

On balance, I believe that the Government is right, providing it can reassure those that there will be no compulsion for any church to be mandated to permit or to undertake on their premises a marriage ceremony to which they would wish not to give their consent/blessing.  I note that the Church of England claim that any such exemption "could be challenged" by some litigious and theologically campaigning homosexual under the European Convention on Human Rights.  However, I am not convinced that this is likely; especially given the Convention's commitment to respect/defend religious freedom.  The Church has often refused to marry divorcees and a local church can deny marriage to those with no parochial connection.  I am not aware of any church being taken to a European Court to have those practices challenged.  Therefore I would not expect this to be either.

I hope you will find this response helpful and that it clarifies for you my own approach to this matter.

For your information, I have received many letters/emails from constituents who vehemently disagree with my/the Government’s view on this matter.

Once again, thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to contact me on this matter.  If you have any further questions or concerns then please do not hesitate to contact me.

With good wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew George MP  

File Ref: 12/13.1/ag/jr

Andrew George MP
18 Mennaye Road
Cornwall    TR18 4NG
Tel: 01736 360020

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Daily digest - Sunday, 13 January 2012

Some of you may have noticed that I have let loose a guest poster here. I have no idea what I have let myself in for. His name is +Mark Tonner and he will be interjecting on matters that he may claim concern him, but in reality they do not. I view this experiment as an exercise in how to deal with trolls, hostile comments and account hackers. One never knows, he might actually post something of note, but in the meantime, please feel free to engage with him at your peril. He has already apologised.

Also new today is 'Verse of the day' from BibleGateway.com, which I shall be applying to a strictly scientific process (faith) to rate on the 'Inspirationometre'. Each days verse will be judged on its value to my understanding of the meaning of life, morality and the level of engagement it has instilled. Each grade awarded is measured against the centi-inspirationometre. The higher the measurement, the higher its value to myself (and maybe to all of God's creation).

In addition to this, I shall be enticing my local readership more, by offering a weather and tide report each day. Again, a lot of what I am putting out - especially for local matters - have a lot of relevancy to my own day-to-day life; dog walking on Long Rock beach being one of them.
Long Rock beach with St Michael's Mount in the background

Posts today include a hilarious video from The Young Turks, about how passengers dealt with a drunk man who had threatened to choke them on a flight from Reykjavik to New York, and another video by William Tapley - a Christian numerologist - who argues that God allowed the 20 children at the Sandy Hook shootings to die. Not much worth reporting on today, unfortunately.

William Tapley explains why God let the 20 children at Sandy Hook die - VIDEO

For those of you that have not encountered this guy before, he is a Christian numerologist that believes he is a prophet of the apocalypse. In this video, he explains why God allowed the 20 children at the Sandy Hook shootings to die.

I have considered the possibility that he is a Poe, but there is just too much about him, his consistency and his delivery. He has to be for real!

It seems to me that Mr Tapley is a 'Divine Command Theorist' which according to my statement in today's Daily Digest means I shouldn't be giving him an audience. What do you think?

Drunk air passenger bound and gagged - VIDEO

All people concerned here are heroes. The descendants of the Wright brothers have every right to be proud of their ancestor's legacy.

Saturday, 12 January 2013



I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all Godless Life followers. Please be aware that, on occasion, I may well leap in with a rebuttal. Or an irrelevancy.


[Tris: What have I done?]

Daily digest #2

Well, I didn't quite get the feedback I was looking for yesterday, in fact I got no feedback at all. Nevertheless, I shall continue with this new style of blogging for the meantime, because it suits my present needs. If you hate it, though, please let me know.

I managed to squeeze out a blog post on the issue of dog fouling in Cornwall and a few ideas on how to counter it, and today I got another post out on the Whitehouse's response to the 50 states that posted petition to secede from the union, and a comparison with what is happening in the UK both internally and externally.

Atheism / Secularism Local /Cornwall
Why I don't care if Jesus existed or not

Not the first time I have heard this said, and I have to admit, it is a sentiment I also hold/

The fact that one person existed out of the probable 100 billion that have ever existed is of little consequence to me. Jesus may have been a real and existent person, or he may not have been. The evidence for his existence, though, is conspicuous by its absence, or it lies in texts that are generally considered to be forgeries or latter-day interpolations by those that would seek to give Jesus more historical weight than he deserved.

No, the reason why I don't care whether he existed or not is because his existence is not particularly relevant to the miracles ascribed to him. It is this that interests me.

How can any person do any of the following:

Control of Nature

1.Calming the storm – Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:37-41; Luke 8:22-25 2.Feeding 5,000 - Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14 3.Walking on water - Matthew 14:22-32; Mark 6:47-52; John 6:16-21 4.Feeding 4,000 – Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9 5.Fish with coin – Matthew 17:24-27 6.Fig tree withers – Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-25 7.Huge catch of fish – Luke 5:4-11; John 21:1-11 8. Water into wine – John 2:1-11

Healing of Individuals

1.Man with leprosy – Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-44; Luke 5:12-14 2.Roman centurion’s servant – Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10 3.Peter’s mother-in-law – Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:30-31; Luke 4:38-39 4.Two men possessed with devils – Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-15; Luke 8:27-39 5.Man with palsy – Matthew 9:2-7; Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:18-26 6.Woman with bleeding – Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48 7.Two blind men – Matthew 9:27-31 8.Dumb, devil-possessed man - Matthew 9:32-33 9.Canaanite woman’s daughter – Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30 10.Boy with devil - Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:17-29; Luke 9:38-43 11.Two blind men – including Bartimaeus - Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43 12.Demon-possessed man in synagogue – Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37 13.Blind man at Bethsaida – Mark 8:22-26 14.Crippled woman – Luke 13:10-17 15.Man with dropsy – Luke 14:1-4 16.Ten men with leprosy – Luke 17:11-19 17.The high priest’s servant – Luke 22:50-51 18.Nobleman’s son at Capernaum – John 4:46-54 19.Sick man at the pool of Bethsaida – John 5:1-15 20.Man born blind – John 9:1-41

Raising the Dead

1.Jairus’ daughter – Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56 2.Widow’s son at Nain – Luke 7:11-17 3.Lazarus – John 11:1-44

New Research Links Spiritual-Not-Religious to Mental Disorder

In the British study, SBNRs (spiritual but not religious) were found to be significantly more likely to be drug-dependent (77%) and to suffer from phobias (72%) or anxiety (50%). No wonder they’re significantly more likely (40%) than the religious to be being treated with psychotropic drugs.

Read the abstract here.
Zilch UK launches the first ever national survey on attitudes to fines for littering 

Yesterday, I posted a blog about dog fouling and put forward a few suggestions on how to tackle it. Today, Twitter user, Leave only a shadow, tweeted me with the following:
@tris_stock Got a view of whether people should be fined for littering Express that view here http://ow.ly/gKHgr
The link at the end goes to a survey on littering in general, but I made a comment informing them that I also included dog fouling as a litter problem.

Buyers in Devon and Cornwall struggle to pay deposit on new homes

It should come as no surprise to anyone, but a report released today by Lloyds TSB reveals that 'second steppers' on the property ladder are unable to do so because they lack the necessary equity in their current properties to place the deposit on their desired property.

The average cost of a 'send step' property is estimated to be £219,647, but the real problem - apart from this being an enormous amount of money considering the wage levels in Cornwall - lies in the fact that their equity in their current home accounts for just 7% of the asking price of a typical 'second-stepper' home, compared with 42% in 2005. The average required for this 'second-step' is currently at 34%.

The bank has created an "annual affordability measure" which sets average equity as a ratio of average earnings. The South West is one of the worst affected, with a measure of 5.7 times the average gross annual full-time earnings for 2011, compared to 3.3 in 2002. Only the South East, at 6.3, and London, at 6.1, were worse.

All this is compounded in the fact that first time buyers are unable to get on the property ladder because the houses that once would have been available to them, have now been cut off by the inability of present owners to 'buy-up'.

Cornwall on snow and ice weather warning for the weekend

Yellow Warning of Ice

12 Jan 2013, 15:00 

Issued at - 11 Jan 2013, 12:10 
Valid from - 12 Jan 2013, 15:00 
Valid to - 13 Jan 2013, 12:00 

Outbreaks of rain, sleet and some now will gradually clear southwards during Saturday night, and with temperatures falling rapidly through the evening and night, there is a risk of icy surfaces. he rain, sleet and snow may linger in parts of southern England well into Sunday morning, by which time it will be light and mainly falling as snow. While local accumulations of up to 2 cm of snow are possible on some higher level loads, it is the risk of ice which is expected to present the main problem. 

The public should be aware of the risk of disruption to travel. The public is advised to take extra care, further information and advice can be found here.


Build A Death Star I am no fan of Star Wars - I haven't even seen any of the films - but I am a fan of science fiction and more so in science reality. Blurring the two is exciting and truly awe-inspiring. I would rather build a Borg cube - as it is described in Revelation, but a Death Star is kinda cool too.

What about a USS Enterprise, or a Millennium Falcon? And I suppose I ought to mention the T.A.R.D.I.S. of Dr Who; it would certainly be a wonder of modern achievement  but it does look kind of dull from the outside.

If you want the U.S. Government to support the construction of the Death Star, keep hassling the them. They clearly want to do this. They simply lack the cojones.

There appears to be an outright statement of intent coming from the Republicans in America, a quick Google search for 'Republican civil war' returns some 36,000 hits on the UK site.

Civil war is - at the least - an act of insurgency, so the question need be asked; Should registered Republicans be named as enemies of the State?

If Republicans were speaking the way they are in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan or Iraq about the USA, they would be killed without a trial. If they gathered guns to fight Obama in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan or Iraq about the USA, they would be killed without a trial. What action should be taken against these Republican insurgents that speak this way about their Government and threaten taking up arms against it on American soil?

I used to be a Republican leaning type. In some ways I still am (a fiscal conservative, if not a small Government conservative), but having spent more time actually paying attention to US current affairs, I find it hard to believe I was ever so naive.

The second any Republican movement fires a shot in anger against their own Government, it should come down on it with all the force and venom that has been inflicted on those it has attacked abroad. It is, after all, their very freedom that is at stake.

What do you think of the new approach? Is there anything you would like me to approach with more consideration? What else on this site do you think needs changing? Leave a comment below to let me know.

n.b. I am working on a new site that will further delineate between my increasingly diverse interests, but for the time being this blog will have to suffice. I'll let you know more when the roll-out date approaches.

Dissolution of political unions - The Whitehouse responds

Immediately after the US presidential elections in November 2012, there was a considerable effort on behalf of - what I imagine to be put-out and angry Republicans - for their states to secede from the union of the United States of America. Not one state failed to have an application on its behalf. In my inbox today, I received a response the petitions filed with the Whitehouse website, from Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement:
Petition Response: Our States Remain United
Thank you for using the White House's online petitions platform to participate in your government.
In a nation of 300 million people -- each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs -- democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that's a good thing. Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives every day for the liberties we often take for granted.
But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don't let that debate tear us apart.
Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States "in order to form a more perfect union" through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. They enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot -- a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it. As President Abraham Lincoln explained in his first inaugural address in 1861, "in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual." In the years that followed, more than 600,000 Americans died in a long and bloody civil war that vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States. And shortly after the Civil War ended, the Supreme Court confirmed that "[t]he Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States."
Although the founders established a perpetual union, they also provided for a government that is, as President Lincoln would later describe it, "of the people, by the people, and for the people" -- all of the people. Participation in, and engagement with, government is the cornerstone of our democracy. And because every American who wants to participate deserves a government that is accessible and responsive, the Obama Administration has created a host of new tools and channels to connect concerned citizens with White House. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of the We the People platform is a chance to engage directly with our most outspoken critics.
So let's be clear: No one disputes that our country faces big challenges, and the recent election followed a vigorous debate about how they should be addressed. As President Obama said the night he won re-election, "We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future."
Whether it's figuring out how to strengthen our economy, reduce our deficit in a responsible way, or protect our country, we will need to work together -- and hear from one another -- in order to find the best way to move forward. I hope you'll take a few minutes to learn more about the President's ideas and share more of your own.
Tell us what you think about this response and We the People.
From the tone of this letter, I take three important points:
  1. There is no method by which state secession can be enacted.
  2. The founding fathers knew this.
  3. The Whitehouse is dismissive of secessionist claims.

In defence of the Union

I am in two minds about this situation. I support the sentiment of the founding fathers in their belief in the strength and perpetuity of unity amongst the willing, but only for as long as the constituent states are willing. The other 'mind' I shall approach further on in this post.

Now, in this knee-jerk reaction to a back-to-back Democratic victory, there is precious little evidence to suggest that these secession claims are anything but a demonstration of wounded pride, but what if - one day - a state has a genuine claim to secede from the union?

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that such an act may play out, even in our own lifetimes. Countries form unions and dissolve them all the time, somewhere on the planet; nations - it seems - are not and have never been the defined and concrete fortresses many perceive them to be.

Transatlantic comparisons 

Here in the UK - a bastion of stability and imperviousness - there are advanced devolutionary programs ongoing in Scotland. In Wales and Northern Ireland they have their own parliaments or assemblies. Even in my home county of Cornwall, there is a sizeable minority of the population that simply does not recognise England beyond anything other than a occupying state.

What is more, the U.K. is itself a member of a union; the European Union (E.U.). I think it is safe to say that whilst two of the major parties are pro-E.U., the most prominent party in our coalition Government - The Conservative Party - is split on the issue.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Prime Minister, David Cameron, said the U.K. was "perfectly entitled" to ask for a change on our relationship with the E.U., although he added a caveat that being entirely outside the EU would not be "right for Britain".

Since this story broke on the 6th January, both the U.S. and Germany have made passing shots in the press regarding the possible exit of the U.K. from the E.U.. In the case of the former, The Conservative Party has reacted angrily towards - what they see as a U.S. lobbying tactic to keep a transatlantic voice at the E.U. table - what John Redwood MP has described as the "...wish to be told that we should lose our democracy in the cause of advancing America’s.” There were numerous voices that reflected Mr Redwood's concerns.

Drawing a parrallel

Like the U.S., the E.U. has no method by which individual states can exit or secede, but this raises the question I off-set earlier in this post; Does a state or a nation have the right to self-determination independent of a totalitarian union that does not share its ideals or motivations? 

The relationship with the states and the federal union in the U.S. is not dissimilar to the relationship that the nation states of the U.K. have with their central Government in London. In turn, the relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. is similarly tumultuous, very few people being in support of European diktats from a distant and unfamiliar Parliament in Brussels.

Federations are complicated beasts; they are isolated nation states that wish to expand their influence in the world by means of a 'might is right' strategy - something this seems anathema to the the sensibilities of those that comprise the population of each constituent nation/state. Many will point to the success of countries like Norway and Switzerland who have steadfastly remained outside of the in-group (although Norway has made noises regarding a possible entry) and thrived under their own steam as proof positive that there is a life outside of the E.U.. The U.S. lacks this external comparison, but the situation between states and their union, and the U.K. and it's unions are still very much linked by the conundrum facing those that want out.

A firm believer in self-determination, I find I lean considerably towards states or constituent nations right to secede or exit from a unsuitable union should its populace wish it to be so. Just because there is no method set in place for such an eventuality, in no way means that simply stating an official position of independence is not enough. Both the U.S. and the U.K. have historical reasons for believing this to be true. Do people really need to be reminded of a certain document called 'the Declaration of Independence'?

Solutions - A proposal

It seems that sooner or later, one state or nation state or another will get its wish and become independent of their respective union, but this needn't mean the end of the decades or centuries of mutual benefit that each have enjoyed over the years. In the U.K., our relationship with the E.U. as a trading partner is very important to us; just as each of the states are to the U.S.. It is also a two-way street; the truth is we need one another on some scales, but all of them.

The rejection of a union's law in no wise means that much else need change. If a peaceful resolution is to be met, there are a multitude of good reasons to maintain that which benefits both parties, without having to dictate unpopular (and sometimes irrelevant) practices that harm a given population.

By bringing law back under the jurisdiction of London, the U.K. stands to determine for itself what is good for it, just as Texas or Colorado in the U.S. would. Trade and other agreements will need negotiation over a protracted amount of time, but they always are anyway and there is no particular reason to do away with that which works now in a fit of national pique (unless it is one of these issues that caused the split in the first place, of course).

We in the west place so much weight on the right of people to self-determination elsewhere in the world, but show little character when applying it to ourselves. Mark my words, it will come. Let us hope that when it does, it is because it is what the people want, rather than what our oppressors want.

Friday, 11 January 2013

#Cornwall: Dog fouling - prevention and punishment.

As a new owner of an English Springer Spaniel puppy, the issue regarding dog fouling on parks and pavements has become all the more real to me of late. Laws have been in place since 16 July 2010 to deal with the problem, but little seems to be done to enforce them.

Cornwall Council has a county-wide approach to this problem, where offending owners are fined if caught. Their website states:
Failing to clean up after your dog has fouled will result in a fixed penalty being issued - which is for £80 (reduced to £50 if paid within 10 days) or prosecution where if found guilty you would face a maximum fine of £1000.
This is all well and good, but what is the council doing to enforce it, and how often is someone caught offending? 

Wadebridge has recently made an effort to both educate the public and enforce it, and I applaud their efforts so far. If only Penzance's councillors would do the same. The problem with the article, though, is that it intimates that the commitment to this crack-down (where the police will accompany them) will be limited to one single day. I will be interested to see how this awareness drive reaches its goals. At least they are trying.

As part of my manifesto for the local elections in May, I propose that together with my local community group, Neighbourhood Together Partnership, we organise a team of residents that walk around the ward and carry out a number of functions in a largely unofficial manner.

When I used to live in Sweden, my community there had a similar project. Teams of two people would work out routes where they would engage with the people they encountered and chatted with them about community problems, thoughts and solutions. They would use the time they would have otherwise spent on after dinner walks and dog exercising to present a visible community presence. So that everyone knew who they were (and not just some random vigilante or weirdo). They were issued with distinctive yellow jackets to protect them from the Nordic elements, and so that they were instantly recognisable. For their own protection, their routes were recorded and backed up by the local police.

It struck me as quite bizarre that these little twosomes were hanging around with the local oiks and simply having a chat and a laugh with them, but why should that be? Their sheer presence created a deterrent because they all knew that whatever mischievousness they might have been up to could be reported back to their parents if they weren't careful. But I digress.

Wadebridge has authorised 6 people to carry out the on-the-spot fines for dog fouling, so why do we not train a group of enthusiastic volunteers to do the same in our own communities?  There are other benefits too. It serves as an important tool for 'neighbourhood watch' where the police work closely with the community to reduce crime. More than that, it is a good excuse for people to get out and get a little exercise  Needless to say, it helps gel community spirit, simply by having people working together from the same community and engaging with one another.

The best thing, though? The cost. This sort of group costs very little to set up. There are already people that are concerned enough to volunteer their time to community awareness (at least in my area), and whatever equipment is required for the visible presence could be funded by insurance sponsorship, community grants, proceeds from dog fouling fines or any number of ways. It really is a simple solution to quite an array of community issues.

Having spoken to a number of people on this very subject myself, a recurring theme appears to be bringing back the dog licence. I think this is a great idea. It instils a sense of responsibility into the dog owner, gives the issuing authority a good idea of the dog population and its condition and the monies raised from the fees could be put directly back into the communities in the form of training, awareness and emergency veterinary costs, amongst other things. Undoubtedly, veterinary practices would support such an enterprise, and could become contracted licence issuers when owners take their dogs for an annual check-up. The details need to be honed, but I feel the idea is strong and there would be a great deal of support for such a move. 

So what can we do right now?

Here is my check-list of activities to encourage responsible dog ownership:

Write to the 'Dog Welfare and Enforcement Service' at Cornwall Council and ask;

  1. How many dog enforcement officers there are covering the areas that affect me? 
  2. Where can I find information on the number of offences committed and fined/prosecuted?
  3. What is the legal requirement for someone to act as a proxy dog enforcement officer, able to issue on-the-spot fines?
  4. If a community group were formed to patrol a given area, what support could the council offer such a group to assist in their work?
  5. Does the council have the authority to pass a law (or by-law) regarding the issuance of dog licences, and are there any plans to do so?
I think I will be copying this letter to my local MP, town councillor and the local paper too. Can't do any harm.

Write to my local veterinarians and ask for their opinion on the above letter, and they have any salient advice or suggestions?

Set up an on-line poll.

That is just off the top of my head, but I am sure people have other ideas that will benefit dogs, dog-owners, communities and local authorities, so please add your suggestions in the comment box below.

It is late here now, so I shall have to write my letter when I have more time. I have to walk the dog now!

If you would like to report a dog fouling incident to the council, click here to fill in their on-line form here. Or if you find your dog waste bin is full please contact the Refuse and Recycling Department on 0300 1234 141. There is also the issue of whether or not you can walk your dog on certain beaches. Check here to find out which are suitable, and at which time of year.

Daily digest #1

Due to a recent addition to the family taking up a lot of my previous spare time, and a distinct bifurcation in my areas of interest, I have decided to change the way I use this blog to make it easier for the people of each discipline to browse the information contained here.

Atheism and secularism are still my raison d'être for my blogging, but my interest in local politics and current affairs is in the ascendant right now (I plan to run for either the local town council or the county council in the May elections), so I shall be producing a daily post that lists the issues that are important to me from both subjects side by side and will let my reader be the judge of what it is you wish to read and how you would like me to proceed with it. If there is anything listed below that you would like me to expand upon, please leave a message in the comments. Likewise, if there is something you feel I have missed, please bring to my attention below and I shall try my best to squeeze out a post on it.

I suppose there is a degree of laziness in this approach, but I prefer to see it as a method of sorting out the wheat from the chaff and actually giving my reader some feedback on what it is they want to see here, so please do let me know what you think.

Atheism / Secularism Local /Cornwall
How to make the UK a secular state

By RobertCallan316 posted on January 11, 2013 02:58AM GMT

"There's not many things that I can say that I'm not proud of being a British citizen. This country has done me well as a 19 year old atheist  but the one thing that deeply saddens me is that we are not a secular state, and still have bishops of the church of England having a say in issues that should be kept separate from them. What can the British people who believe this to be wrong do to try and put a stop to this so we can truly say that we promote reasonable thinking and in the UK?"
There are some good answers in the comments section. Here's mine;

"I particularly like comments #1, #2 and #5, but the crux of the matter is, what are you prepared to do about it?
It is all well and good saying what you want and demanding it from your political representatives, but there is no substitution for becoming the leading voice in the field you wish to influence.

Obviously, we cannot all do that, but it is not for the lack of opportunity. Myself, I will be running for councillor in either my local or county elections in May this year. I have no idea how successful my campaign will be, but I am sure that in getting the word out to people I know I am making a bigger impact on the electorate than any party political wonk that you could hope to have represent you.

You appear to know what you want, make a stand and explain your position to the largest number of people that will listen. It's hard work, but imagine the satisfaction of garnering even a minority share of the vote. It will make it all worthwhile"
Famous Christians - Martin Luther

Rosa Rubicondior is one of my favourite bloggers. She consistently turns out well-researched and concise posts on biblical criticism.

This post is the second of her - what I presume will be a recurring theme - 'Famous Christians'.

The first post in the series confronted theist's claims that Hitler was an atheist, by quoting a number of his clearly Christian/Catholic line of thinking.
New supermarket will pay £250,000 for Penzance's improvements

"Am I reading this correctly? Penzance businesses are being asked to part with an extra 1- 2% on top of their business rates? Or is it taken from that they already pay?

Apropo the £249,500 from Sainsbury's;

1. On what will the £130,000 be spent on town improvements?

2. What 'events' will benefit from the £25,000?

3. Who or what will be marketed and promoted with another £25,000?

4. What will a £49,500 town centre co-ordinator do, and how will this person be selected?

5. Notwithstanding its name, what will be the objects and methodology of a Business Improvement District (BID)?

It's great seeing these sort of numbers coming towards Penzance town centre, but what do they all mean exactly. At present they seem like nothing more than sound-bites."

Call to restrict numbers of second homes

"Like Mr Wallis, I have no particular objection to second/holiday homes but feel that with the housing waiting list being at the level it is, there is a need to balance the books.

Homes lying empty for the majority of the year - whilst not immoral by any means - is not conducive to a thriving community. By making second/holiday home owners apply for some sort of planning permission, the council has the opportunity to have some control over how housing needs are managed. Private homes that are occupied are not affected at all.

If a second/holiday home is found to be empty for the greater part of the year, owners should - at least - be encouraged to rent it out on a more regular basis so that the communities in which these properties exist don't wither and die in the quieter times of the year. Perhaps the council could offer owners an incentive to rent out their properties for a 12 month period, so that in the short term, at least, people will have somewhere to call home.

Housing is perhaps the biggest challenge facing Cornwall, and from where I sit it appears to be an almost insurmountable problem in the short-term. The council must outline a definitive, coherent, sustainable and environmentally-conscious plan for the next 20-30 years if the problem is to be faced at all."

Town gets tough on dog mess in parks

"As a new owner of an English Springer Spaniel puppy, the issue regarding dog fouling on parks and pavements has become all the more real to me of late. Laws have been in place since 16 July 2010 to deal with the problem, but little seems to be done to enforce them." See my whole post


I have other interests beyond these two main subjects, of course, so I shall place funny, interesting or sometimes downright weird links here.

One of my bug-bears about my local council, is their apparent indifference to a rugged policy for dealing with the housing crisis we are facing. What with Cornwall's idyllic coast and countryside, I don't think we are doing enough to encourage investment in green technologies on any level. 

I particularly like the idea of 'container villages' (I shall write a more in-depth post about this sometime in the future), but for now here is a link to what can done with the humble shipping container.

The grammar Nazi in me runs deep, and I am always drawn to posts that explain an unknown area of the subject that, hitherto, I was unaware of.

This article by the Oxford University Press explains 'suppletion', where the future, present and past tenses of verbs can take on quite different forms from one another.

A good case in point (as the cartoon above shows. You may need to click to embiggen to see it in better detail.) is why is the past tense of 'go', 'went' rather than 'goed'?

What do you think of the new approach? Is there anything you would like me to approach with more consideration? What else on this site do you think needs changing? Leave a comment below to let me know.

n.b. I am working on a new site that will further delineate between my increasingly diverse interests, but for the time being this blog will have to suffice. I'll let you know more when the roll-out date approaches.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Shoegate - Sometimes men get shoes donated too

I genuinely want to stay clear of the radical feminism in the atheist/sceptic community if I can, but my friend +Justin Vacula has just posted a video on a story he calls Greta Christina's "Shoegate".

It appears that Greta Christina - who is currently suffering from the fallout of cancer - has been buying shoes on the back of asking for donations. Now, I have no interest in getting too far into the nuts and bolts of this so-called story - to be honest, it is insufferably boring - I just wanted to see the reaction to my last shoe purchase.

Perhaps I should make myself clear on the back story behind these comfortable sports slippers. I am currently in receipt of Government support for mental health issues, and am unable to work. My income - such as it is - does not afford me the luxury of shelling out for professional 'dress shoes'. Accordingly, this pair of shoes was bought at a local retailer on sale for the very sensible price of £26 (down from £40). Unfortunately, I am unable to afford even this much.

The fact is, they were donated to me by my mother: who has been very supportive of my plight. One wonders if I were to ask for a more substantial pair of shoes that would perhaps last me longer and impress the judge at my upcoming appeal against the Government's rejection of my application for ESA (the appropriate benefit for people signed off from, and unable to work), whether or not my mother would have been so generous? Sure, she would want me to be happy, and would wholeheartedly support me in my never-ending fight against Government misrepresentation and discrimination, but if the shoe fits, should I wear it?

Her name is Petal and is 10 weeks old
Talking of donations, my friend +Alison Leah has kindly let me have one of her dog's pure-breed English Springer Spaniel puppies. This is a very kind act on her part as they are each valued at over £300 each (an amount far beyond my means). She'll have her own reasons for this altruism, but given that if I cannot afford a dog from the outset, should I have accepted responsibility for this little peach?

n.b. It should be noted that my mother, again, has been very supportive and has donated her own money to set me up with all the necessary accoutrements that puppies require (I shall find the money for all the injections, worming, spaying, chipping etc.  myself, and I will have insurance cover for emergencies).

The questions I wish to raise here are, "Is it acceptable to ask for donations, when - for one reason or another - the chips are down and you have fallen upon hard times?" and "At which point does the donor righteously feel aggrieved about your spending their money on - what could be considered - luxury or otherwise unnecessary items?". For my part, the answers are, a) yes, and b) when the donor raises the issue.

As I said, this is not a dig at Greta (although I do think she might have been a little more discrete). She has offered to return any donations that donors feel have been abused, and from what I understand no one has done so. I guess I just wanted to show off my shoes and puppy.