Channing Day is only the third British
female to be killed in the military
campaign since 2001
image source; telegraph.co.uk
like to take this opportunity now to express my condolences to the family of the young woman who lost her life.”
Martin McGuinness was speaking about Channing Day, the young girl from Co Down who died in Afghanistan last week. You can say what you like about his past, you can doubt his sincerity, but at least Martin McGuinness said what he said.
Then we hear that our deputy first minister is holding talks with the leaders of the Orange Order. I remember four years ago reading that the leader of the Klu Klux Klan, Imperial Wizard Ronald Edwards endorsed Barak Obama for president. I would believe both must rank as very improbable. But it’s a strange world we live in.
When you think of it, such changes are not unheard of, especially where former terrorists become statesmen. The best example of this is Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison before becoming the world’s first living saint. We have come a long way in Northern Ireland when people with such diverse backgrounds as McGuinness and the Orange Order are pow-wowing around the table.
We are enjoying a time of relative peace in Northern Ireland and we should be taking every opportunity to build on this peace no matter how uneasy we think it is. It would be easy to sit and snipe and say Sinn Fein have become part of the system but there has to be a system in place. Society can’t function without one.
You can’t have a permanent war or permanent revolution. That’s what Chairman Mao tried to do in China and he finished up killing more of his own people than died in World War II in total. He had to invent revolutions like the Cultural Revolution to keep the class war going. McGuinness and Co know the war is over. And someone has to make the peace.
Making peace is often harder than making war, particularly when you have spent your whole adult life fighting for a cause that you believe in. But there are huge changes for the good going on in the New North and the more they happen the more solid the peace becomes. What we are hoping to achieve is a peace that even an earthquake could not shift.
image source: azatty.wordpress.com
An earthquake in Italy can shift things a good bit. It can turn respectable scientists into people guilty of manslaughter. Six scientists were sent to prison for failing to predict an earthquake which killed 308 people in 2008. These men of impeccable character were each given six years.
I know nothing about earthquake prediction but every scientist in the field worth his salt says that it is impossible to be certain when an earthquake will happen.
"We can forecast that they're almost certain to happen with a very low probability - maybe once in 100, once in 1,000 years depending on the size of an earthquake and in a given zone. And that's a hazard that's there all the time," says Ian Main, Professor of Seismology and Rock Physics at the University of Edinburgh.
The problem in Italy seems to be that the scientists played down the chances of a quake and thus encouraged people to stay in their homes.
But what would have happened if everyone had left the area and no earthquake happened? Would all the people sue for being inconvenienced or for loss of business?
This is the problem with our creeping secularism; everything is now assumed to be under the control of people and when things don’t go the way we think they should someone has to be found to blame. Will we finish up charging weather men with manslaughter for not seeing a storm in the path of a jet liner? Will doctors be charged when patients die unexpectedly? “You should have seen it coming, doctor, a better scanner would have caught sight of this problem and it is your job to supply it.”
The root of the problem is simple; if there is no God then we are god. Humans now have dominion over everything, science gives us all the answers and if these things are not avoided then someone has to be held to account.
The poor scientists in Italy fell foul of this thinking: we are all wee gods so no one is allowed to be a human being, fallible and limited in their knowledge.
Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to
4 years in jail for tax fraud
image source: bellenews.com
Laws are such hit and miss things but sometimes even Italy gets it right. Silvio Berlusconi stepped down as Italian prime minister in November. Well, he didn’t really step down. Frauline Merkel wanted a puppet in Rome so Silvio, God bless him, had to make way for Mario Monti.
Losing his immunity from prosecution when he left office Silvio has been sentenced to four years for tax evasion. But Silvio will probably never serve a day. The case took six years and now Mr Berlusconi has two courts of appeal to go through before he finally has to go to jail. This will take many years and Silvio is not getting any younger. It is most likely that the grim reaper shall come to visit before the process ends. Sometimes it’s good to be old. But Berlusconi is old but not out.
After having been sentenced to four years on Friday, Mr Berlusconi, hair jet black as usual, entered the Italian parliament and threatened to bring down the government. Mr Berlusconi said the cabinet is leading Italy into a "spiral of recession" and that his centre-right PDL party would decide in the coming days whether it would end its support. You got to hand it to our Silvio; he does not give a hoot about any of them. He had no intention of growing old.
John McCririck isn’t too happy about being old. The unkempt feature of Channel Four racing for years, he has been sacked and he reckons that ageism is to blame. I thought McCririck was great at his job and added a real touch character to an otherwise dreary sport. To see him do the tic-tac of the bookies and listen to his rants about almost any subject was good entertainment. His staid replacements shall suffer from boringism.
We have an “–ism” for everything these days; ageism, sexism, heightism, weightism and racism. I suffer from Quinnism. I’m going to sue the next person who does not speak to me in the street. You can sue for anything these days—even being born.
Google “wrongful birth” and see what comes up. You will find a legal firm in the UK dedicated to medical claims with a department working solely on wrongful birth claims. What does this mean?
image source: theupsofdowns.org
It means that if you have a child that has certain defects, say Down’s syndrome, and the doctor did not tell you this while you were pregnant, then you may have a claim against the doctor for the birth of this child. The site lists the grounds on which you can claim: Failure of the doctor to pass on important information, failure of the doctor to inform the parents of any potential health issues, lack of appropriate screening process, mis–diagnosis during the screening process, missed diagnosis during the screening process.
You look at your child across the table and think, “If I had known you were going to be like this I could have had you aborted. There must be someone I can sue.” Yes we can all sue someone. Or we could send a bill.
Richard Herman sent a bill and you have to admire him for it. Mr Herman from Middlesex felt like he was being hounded by calls and texts from companies telling him they could help him claim compensation after an accident or claim back money spent on mis-sold payment protection insurance, or PPI as it’s known.
“I’ve never had an accident and I’ve never had a PPI,” said Mr Herman. The cheeky Mr Herman sent a bill for £195 to the company for the effort of getting them to stop. They wouldn’t pay so he took them to the small claims court. They paid up. Well done, Mr Herman. Hope millions more do it as well. We all hate those nuisance cold calls!
I got a call on Friday from the strangest number I have ever seen; 000 000 000 00. Yes, eleven zeros. Some bloke with an American accent asked me if I wanted to contribute to the Republican Party campaign fund. I was too quick for him; “Hi, wee fella, we’ve just had the end of one republican campaign. Do ye think we want to start another,” I replied in my best Belfast accent.
When the wife came home I told her what had happened. “I applied for an Absent Ballot, (postal vote in our language) and that is probably how they got our number,” she said. Wonderful what technology can do.
This led to a family discussion. We have £812 in the socialising fund. This can make a good donation to Mitt Romney’s campaign to become president or it can buy us two £406 tickets (incl booking fee) for a Rolling Stones concert next year.
We thought long and hard before we concluded that Mitt Romney makes enough money to fund his own campaign and there is no way that we think a Rolling Stones concert is worth £406 (incl booking fee). In a recession people are still willing to pay over 400 to see Mick Jagger, who will be approaching his 70th birthday, strut his stuff around a stage. I saw him on an old black and white television set doing his thing almost fifty years ago. I didn’t like it then and I would sure as heck not like it now.
What a world we live in; people willing to pay that kind of money to hear a bunch of pensioners singing on the stage while 3.6 million children live in poverty in the UK. That’s 27% of all children in the country. And here is another unbelievable statistic. We throw away a full 33% of the food that we buy every week. It would make your blood boil.
image source: timesofnews.org
On the subject of blood, have you ever heard of “blood rain?” Well, it looks as if we might be getting some of it soon. But don’t worry; it’s not as gory as it sounds and it’s not contagious.
"Blood rain" is a term used for rain carrying sand from deserts. When the rain falls it looks a reddish colour and when it dries off it leaves a thin layer of dust which can also be red, hence the name. It is capable of coating houses, cars and garden furniture.
Storms in the Sahara desert, which is around 2,000 miles away, are usually responsible for stirring up dust blown towards the UK, say weather experts. The current winds arriving in the country are part of the band of warm air which is predicted to bring unseasonably warm temperatures over the next few days, followed by rain in some areas.
All of this was reported on the news. I watched for days. Every morning I went out and looked for dust on my car. None.
Finally I went into the house and goggled “where is the nearest storm?” I thought Hurricane Sandy, which has wreaked havoc across the Caribbean killing 60 people and is threatening the eastern states of the US, or Typhoon Son Tinh which has hit the Philippines and is now striking Vietnam would have topped the bill but no, a storm slightly more distant and less threatening to us was No 1.
It appears that a huge storm has occurred on Saturn and that the storm has scientists baffled. The scientists in NASA were overawed by the size and strength of the storm. It generated enormous heat. One scientist said:
"This temperature spike is so extreme it's almost unbelievable. To get a temperature change of the same scale on Earth, you'd be going from the depths of winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, to the height of summer in the Mojave Desert,"
Why am I so amazed?
image source: Amazed Bulletin Design
I am so amazed because as I ponder these things on a weekly basis I am enthralled by the world we live in. There is so much variety of news and happenings. Politics, war, finance, catastrophes on the one hand; a wee woman running a charity event in her local hall on the other.
When God made the universe he made something truly wonderful. Out of all the rubble, gas and elements we arose. How this came about I have no idea and even if someone explained it all to me I probably wouldn’t understand it.
The storm on Saturn displays the creative power of God, his mighty majesty and his authority over creation. The war, the greed, the starvation show what happens when our free will is used wrongly. Natural disasters, disease and death show how fickle life is.
The wee woman running her charity event in her local hall reflects the love of God which flows over into his created universe.
Of all these things the greatest mystery is the woman running the charity event, quietly changing the little corner on the universe that she lives in. And the fact that the human spirit never gives up is the greatest proof that there is a God who gives us the strength to go on no matter what happens in the world around us.
“Our God is a great God.”
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published in Observer Newspaper group, N.I.
1st Nov '12