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Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Barbecue

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Overheard:

You have basically failed as a man tonight

I’m not sure if I should step up and put my superior fire-cooking skills at the disposal of the group. Or would it be in everyone’s best interests to let Jack get it together himself regardless of the lateness of the hour.

Posted by bigblue on 30/06/2009 at 09:44 PM
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Sunday, 28 June 2009
Star Trail

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This is one of several startrails that I photographed last night. Yesterday was Armed Forces Day in the UK. In response to this event, the British Quakers (Society of Friends) last week called for an Unarmed Forces Day:

As the government prepares for its first ‘Armed Forces Day’, Quakers are busy preparing themselves for peace. In recognition of the essential work carried out by peacebuilders around the world, Quakers in Britain are calling for an Unarmed Forces Day.

Quakers believe that each person is uniquely valuable. They reject the view that governments’ responses to the inevitable tensions arising from international relations should be to constantly upgrade weapons and to train in readiness for war. Instead, Quakers advocate putting energies and resources into developing and training for non-military ways of solving conflicts and averting wars.

Kat Barton of Quaker Peace and Social Witness says “It is widely agreed that conflict prevention is more cost-effective than sending in the armed forces. At a time when public finances are under enormous pressure, instead of celebrating ‘Armed Forces Day’ Gordon Brown should be investing in conflict prevention and championing the work of the ‘unarmed forces’ who work tirelessly to build the conditions for peace.”

Quakers believe that there is always a choice between working for war and working for peace. They work, locally, nationally and internationally to address the root causes of violence, conflict and insecurity, to promote non-violent approaches to work for peace, justice and social change, to support peacebuilding and peacemaking in areas of violent conflict and to promote disarmament.

Quaker work in Britain includes providing school children with the skills to deal with conflict, working with communities in the north of England to tackle racism and build peace, and supporting the next generation of workers in peacebuilding organisations. British Quakers work overseas to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their nonviolent actions, to support local peacebuilding organisations in Burundi and to create non-violent peaceful solutions to often bitter and entrenched local conflicts in South Asia.

Posted by bigblue on 28/06/2009 at 09:54 AM
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The Moon

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I went out this evening and took some photographs of the moonset.  Today was the UK’s first armed forces day.

The stated purpose of the day is to bridge a growing gulf between the armed forces and the general public and encourage support and respect for soldiers.

Others have highlighted a political motivation, to raise support for the Government’s military actions, which, in recent years, have been extremely controversial.

Armed Forces Day is one part of a wider movement to expand the reach of the army, including the recruitment of more cadets.

Many also view this event as another effort on the part of the Government to feign a genuine commitment to looking after soldiers and veterans. The reality, critics point out, is that those returning from war often find little useful or real help in re-integrating into society.

As one Times reader put it, “Is a militarised society, where politicians exploit the private losses of citizens for political ends, the kind of Britain we want?”

Many churches and other civic organisations will feel that a celebration of the armed forces in this kind of uncritical way is not appropriate. Many will feel that there are better ways of showing love and care for soldiers and civilians alike.

In response, Ekklesia has developed a page of resources to help churches and others engage with Armed Forces Day in a way that more accurately reflects the belief of many that war is no solution - and indeed that what we need are more unarmed services - those with professional conflict transformation and resolution skills - operating in conflict zones.

Real respect for those whose lives are caught up with the military comes from seeking ways of ending conflict and replacing the “just another war” ideology with concrete action towards just-peace.

(from Ekklesia, a non-profit think-tank which examines the role of religion in modern life).

Posted by bigblue on 28/06/2009 at 12:01 AM
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Friday, 26 June 2009
Bright London Eye

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I feel suddenly tempted to ascend in this thing, however I’m meeting some people at ground level.

Posted by bigblue on 26/06/2009 at 06:40 PM
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Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Oxted sandpit protest



This video is from the last protest on 6 June 2009 against the Oxted sandpit.

There was another protest today (and it was covered on BBC South East news). There’s a story over on the BBC News website about Al Fayed getting involved. It seems Mo’s done what the local council has not been prepared to do for the past few years - put some money into a challenge against the sandpit, which is unfriendly to the community and environment.  In fact it was a bit ironic to see the usual local faces popping up on the news - including those who did nothing to block the original application of the chalkpit a few years ago and did nothing until recently about residents’ anger at the town being turned into a route for heavy duty lorries. And yet they are now cheerleaders for the protesters. Or am I being a touch too cynical here?

Posted by bigblue on 23/06/2009 at 10:54 PM
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Sunday, 21 June 2009
St Sylvan’s Church, Staffhurst Wood

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This morning I went to the 8 am service here, mainly to become acquainted the priest who is a friend of a friend. It was lively and intimate service with about nine congregants (including myself and the two people I took with me). On the way home one of the two (a visitor from Cape Town) asked me to repeat the priest’s name and when I did she suddenly realised that she had met him about 40 years ago and that they have shared friends.

Posted by bigblue on 21/06/2009 at 11:38 AM
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Saturday, 20 June 2009
Way Out on the London Underground

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Is this a quaint relic - could these words could be used on an official sign today? I think it could confuse a non-native English speaker and the standard Exit would be more understandable to more people. Given that way out is also slang for something else one wonders if this was 1960’s sign-writer humour. Or perhaps there were less non-English speaking visitors to London then, or the authorities didn’t worry about them.

Posted by bigblue on 20/06/2009 at 12:37 PM
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A puzzle

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I spotted this sticker on the train. Is the picture of graffiti? It contains letters of the alphabet - do they spell anything?

Posted by bigblue on 20/06/2009 at 08:02 AM
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