Archive for January, 2012

Roman lead water tank with Christian imagery

January 31, 2012
Roman lead water tank with Christian imagery

Roman lead water tank with Christian imagery

baptismal scene on Roman lead water tank

baptismal scene on Roman lead water tank

Fragment of a Roman lead water tank with Christian imagery indicates the water tank may have been used as a baptismal font.

The chi-rho symbol first introduced by the Roman Emperor Constantine who defined the Christianity we know of today, who made Christianity the religion of a military Empire, the baptismal scene, all indicate its use as a baptismal font.

Good for business

January 31, 2012

Good for business. A meaningless expression.

We were told doubling the capacity of Farnborough Airport was good for business. We were told it was good for the surrounding area. Not the views of those who live in the surrounding area, who value their quality of life. Not good for the nearby towns of Farnborough and Aldershot, both of which lie semi-derelict, though that owes as much to greedy developers and bad planning. Expansion of Farnborough Airport is good for Saudi-owned TAG Aviation, owners and operators of Farnborough. [see Farnborough Airport News]

Farnborough Airport was never going to be good for the local economy, as it is not a major employer. It lacks shops, customs, baggage handling, immigration control. At an average occupancy rate of 2.5 passengers per flight it is extremely bad for the environment.

HS2 we are told is good for business. There are even figures to show, it will shave 25 minutes off the journey time for businessmen travelling between London and Birmingham, as they will be the only ones using HS2. Not sure why anyone would wish to visit Birmingham, let alone get there 25 minutes sooner. Though I guess it may be an advantage to get away 25 minutes quicker.

High Speed trains are not good for the environment, major polluters. The scheme is simply an opportunity for the construction industry to make money. If there is money for investment in rail, then invest it in the rail network in order that we may all benefit.

Farce of rail price hikes

Crossrail will link east and west London. An excellent idea, but that is not why it is being built. It is being built to provide the City of London with a fast connection to Heathrow. Once again the taxpayer is being asked to subsidise the City of London. If the City of London wants a fast link to Heathrow, then the City of London should pay for it.

Thames Estuary Airport is the latest White Elephant. Again we are told good for businessmen, expanding airport capacity is good for business. We are told Heathrow lacks the capacity, lacks the destinations of other airports. Not true, but when has the truth ever got in the way when fast bucks are to be made?

Boris Island airport versus Thames estuary wildlife

London airports have 1113 departure flights to key business destinations compared with Paris 499, Frankfurt 443, and Amsterdam 282. Heathrow has 990 departure flights each week to the world’s key business centres – Charles de Gaulle 484 and Frankfurt 450.

Will aviation expand at the projected rate? Highly unlikely as flights will become too expensive as airlines are forced to pay their true environmental costs and the cost of fuel rockets.

Airports are not only a cost to private developers, it is the public purse that pays for the surrounding infrastructure.

Thames Estuary Airport would mean the closure of Heathrow, possibly Gatwick too. Massive loss of capital investment, not just Heathrow, but all the surrounding businesses. Massive unemployment west London.

Quality of life is a major determinant when people decide where they wish to live. London fails miserably. Expanding aviation would only make the quality of life worse.

London too dirty for business?

London ranks 25 on a table of air pollution for European cities. Mercer’s Worldwide Quality of Living Survey 2011 placed London in 38th place (out of 221 cities), behind Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

New report claims poor environment, not lack of airport capacity, threatens London’s status as top city to do business
London Claims Most Traffic Congested City in Europe Prize
Boris Johnson and the ‘invisible crisis’ of air pollution
London ranks among worst European cities for air pollution
Climate Rush Soho roadblock

London 2012 Olympics another mega disaster. Good for tourism, we were told. Greedy hoteliers jacked up their rates tenfold.

Slow Start For Olympic Biz Jet Bookings
Operators claim UK tourism affected by reserved Olympic rooms

I warned people to avoid London during the Olympics, avoid London end of July, all of August and early September. It will be hell in London. The transport system cannot cope now. Roads are to be hijacked for exclusive Olympic use. I am pleased to say people heeded my advice. London will be a no-go area for tourists, hotels will sit half empty.

Across the country town and city centres have been destroyed by developers out to make a fast buck and corrupt planners in their pockets. Good for business we are told. Good for greedy developers, good for High Street retailers, but not good for communities who see their towns laid waste, not good for local communities who see the wealth of the community leached out, not good for those who lose their livelihood and jobs when local businesses close.

In Lincoln, Sincil Street all that is left of character in the market area is due for destruction.

Destruction of Sincil Street

There are exceptions. Communities are saying enough is enough. We are no longer going to be walked all over by Big Business and corrupt politicians.

The Victorian Queen’s Market at Upton Park in London, one of the few remaining traditional East End London markets, was due for destruction. It has been saved, the developer St Modwen driven out of town.

Across the country traditional markets are being destroyed, bastardised and yuppified. Queen’s Market is one of the few remaining London east end markets. It was under threat when the mayor got into bed with property developer St Modwen who have track record of trashing town town centres (eg Farnborough and Hatfield), it was to be destroyed for a supermarket, but after a six year fight, Friends of Queen’s Market have sent St Modwen’s packing with their corporate tail between their legs. Remaining is to be answered is how much taxpayers money has the mayor wasted on this ill-thought-out scheme? He and the councillors who backed him should be surcharged and made personally bankrupt to recover ever last penny.

Queens Market
Asda v Queens Market
Victory for Queens Market!!

The irony is that those towns that have retained their traditional markets are thriving, the markets major tourist attractions. But that does not provide development opportunities, enable fast bucks to be made.

Bury Market in Lancashire – 300 stalls, a quarter of a million visitors every day! The success of Bury Market is down to two factors, quality stalls selling quality products and that the market worked with the local council to a common ethos, a common agenda.

BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards 2008

Communities are starting to take control of their own destinies. Often it is from small beginnings. In Alton, Greening Alton plants up small patches of land for vegetables, Transition Heathrow and Incredible Edible Todmorden has taken this much further.

We are in charge now

We can have development, but it has to be sustainable development, development that is good for people and planet. Good for businesses had to be consigned to the dustbin of history. Anyone remember, one for the road, an extra pint before driving off from the pub?

Put planet and its people at the core of sustainable development

Krishna will hear your prayer

January 31, 2012

A widow from a poor village in Bengal did not have enough money to pay for her son’s bus fare, and so when the boy started going to school, he would have to walk through the forest all on his own. In order to reassure him, she said:

‘Don’t be afraid of the forest, my son. Ask your God Krishna to go with you. He will hear your prayer.’

The boy followed his mother’s suggestion, and Krishna duly appeared and from then on accompanied him to school every day.

When it was his teacher’s birthday, the boy asked his mother for some money in order to buy him a present.

‘We haven’t any money, son. Ask your brother Krishna to get you a present.’

The following day, the boy explained his problem to Krishna, who gave him a jug of milk.

The boy proudly handed the milk to the teacher, but the other boys’ presents were far superior and the teacher didn’t even notice his.

‘Where did you get that jug?’

‘Krishna, the God of the forest, gave it to me.’

The teacher, the students and the assistant all burst out laughing.

‘There are no gods in the forest, that’s pure superstition,’ said the teacher. ‘If he exists, let’s all go and see him.’

The whole group set off. The boy started calling for Krishna, but he did not appear.

The boy made one last desperate appeal.

‘Brother Krishna, my teacher wants to see you. Please show yourself!’

At that moment, a voice emerged from the forest and echoed through the city and was heard by everyone.

‘I can’t! He doesn’t even believe I exist!’

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Promo Bay

January 30, 2012

The Pirate Bay starts today a new and interesting system to promote arts.

Do you have a band? Are you an aspiring movie producer? A comedian? A cartoon artist?

They will replace the front page logo with a link to your work.

As soon as I learned about it, I decided to participate. Several of my books are there, and as I said in a previous post, My thoughts on SOPA, the physical sales of my books are growing since my readers post them in P2P sites.

Welcome to download my books for free and, if you enjoy them, buy a hard copy – the way we have to tell to the industry that greed leads to nowhere.

The Pirate Coelho

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

We have seen many independent bookshops close. They have not closed because of piracy, or because people no longer read or love books.

A quarter of independent bookshops lost in last five years

They have closed because of greed.

They have closed because the publishing industry is following the lead of Hollywood and the music industry. They no longer nurture talent. They look for the latest blockbuster, which is then offered to supermarkets and bookshop chains at massive discounts with which the independents cannot compete.

When Hollywood and the music industry start bleating about starving artists, we know they are lying.

Sopa, which appears to have been killed stone dead, was about control of the internet. If there are those who are making big bucks out of piracy, then go after the money, but do not criminalise ordinary folk who wish to share.

Writers, artists, muscians want to create, they wish to share what they create.

The cultural industry
Documented@Davos: SOPA Panel
Thoughts of Paulo Coelho on Sopa

Senior Sunni Clerics issue fatwa against sectarian violence

January 30, 2012

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. — Matthew 5:9

Today I met with some of the most senior clerics in Iraq under the auspices of the Society of Iraqi Islamic Scientists (the senior Sunni Clerics Society). Some of them also came to Najaf with us on Friday. The main issue on the agenda was finding ways to stop the sectarian violence against the Shia. They also delivered a Fatwa (Islamic) injunction against all sectarian violence and publicly declared that most sectarian violence was coming from the Sunni community. Tomorrow the Fatwa will be discussed with the Iraqi Vice President and the British Ambassador.

— Canon Andrew White

The Fatwa


In the name of God the Merciful

Under the conditions experienced by Iraqis and many Middle Eastern people at the present time and in the light of the increase in the level of Iraqi sectarian violence and the volatile situation, we believe that the deteriorating political condition calls upon us as Sunni religious scholars to together as a group to issue a Fatwa.

We wish to declare the sanctity of all Iraqi blood wether Shia, Sunni or Christian. We call for a mechanism to educate the Iraqi Society in order to renounce all sectarian violence and instead create an environment of cooperation with civil society organizations and institutions of civil jurisdiction so not to allow our people in Iraq to divide into sectarian conflicts. We must work towards national unity amongst all Muslims (Sunni and Shia) and Christians; we all have the duty and right to live together in unity in our country Iraq.

Dr Sheikh Khaled Abdul-Wahab Mullah, Leader, Sunni Cleric Baghdad + Basrah
Shekh Saadi Mehdi Qutaiba Alindaoui Sunni Leader Al Anbar
Sheikh Maher Al Jubori Sunni Cleric Fullujah
Dr Sheikh Kubaisi Jalal Sunni Cleric Rammadi
Sheikh Marwan Al Araji Sunni Cleric Baghdad
Sheikh Hasham Al Dulami Sunni Cleric Fullujah

I was talking with my friend Margaret this evening who works in Triangle (Christian tea shop cum bookshop) and we both agreed that if anyone was going to have an impact on the sectarian violence in Iraq it was Canon Andrew White.

Over the last few days he has been talking to Sunni religious leaders, the outcome a fatwa against the sectarian violence.

Now we need a similar fatwa from the Shia clerics.

Canon Andrew White is author of Faith Under Fire, President of FRRME, the Anglican priest of St George’s in Baghdad and a Middle East Peacemaker.

He has recently been awarded the highly prestigious First Freedom Award.

A three-day International Peace Conference on Iraq, Light in Darkness, is to be held in Brighton, Thursday 6 September to Saturday 8 September at the City Coast Church. It is hoped to bring young people from Iraq but this will depend upon how generous are donors. Speaker will include Canon Andrew White. For more information and for donations, please contact FRRME.

Faith Under Fire has been shortlisted as the Christian Book of 2012. It is open to vote on-line for your favourite book, but somewhat dumb you have to vote for a childrens book too even though you may have no views. Also badly designed website, link does not go direct to voting form.

God moves in mysterious ways
The Truth as Iraq descends into Hell
Sorry Sir my dear Jesus , we came to you with, black gown
House of Lords debates the plight of Christians in the Middle East

Steep Hill

January 30, 2012
Steep Hill

Steep Hill

The River Witham, High Bridge, The Stonebow, a couple of old churches, Sincil Street the only area of character left around the old market area, and that is about it, little else of interest in the city centre of Lincoln. The same trash High Street stores as in every other town across the country. Clone town writ large!

For more interesting part of town, walk through The Stonebow to the top of the High Street.

At the top of the Hight Street, The Strait, which leads into Steep Hill. Both have buildings of character, quirky buildings, quirky independent shops, even a lampost leaning over.

On the left as you walk up The Strait, two Norman House, one of which houses an excellent restaurant.

As you climb up Steep Hill and it earns its name, your are following the main Roman Street that ran through the Roman city of Lindum Colonia, up from the River Witham to the top of the hill.

More Norman houses as you walk up Steep Hill.

A tea shop, selling teas not cups of tea, though you will find those too, dress shops, a chocolate shop, a flower shop, art galleries, second-hand bookshops, little bars and restaurants, a pie shop, a clock shop (though rarely open). Even a Russian doll shop!

On the way up, occasional glimpses of Lincoln Cathedral. As you pause for breath, look back and you will see across the valley to South Common on the opposite escarpment.

Once the top is reached, and take all day as there is much to tarry for and no need to hurry, you will find yourself in Castle Square. To the left Lincoln Castle and to the right Lincoln Cathedral.

Carry on and you are in Bailgate. As you enter Bailgate, a little church on the right, worth gaining entry to, though rarely open.

In Bailgate a small butcher. If not the best in Lincoln, maybe even the County.

Walk through Bailgate to Newport Arch. The Roman archway to Lindum Colonia,

Walk around the castle to The Lawn, which Lincoln City Council in an act of crass stupidity has put up for sale. The Lawn, a former pioneering Victorian Mental Hospital houses the Sir Joseph Banks Conservatory.

Sir Joseph Banks was the Chief Scientific Officer on the Endeavour.

I have a knack of being in the right place at the right time. I had been in The Collection far longer than I wished due to it raining. It finally stopped, giving me time to walk up Steep Hill and back down, but little more. Looking down Steep Hill the winter midday sun caught the buildings and the wet street. A week later and half an hour later, the sun did not catch the buildings or shine down the street. Half an hour made all the difference.

At the top of Steep Hill is a little bronze plaque saying it was awarded Britain’s Best Place by the Academy of Urbanism.

Steep Hill must have the rare accolade of a street being reviewed on Trip Advisor!

It is a rare experience to be able to walk the length of a street in England and not encounter a single High Street chain store. This is how our towns used to be until destroyed by greedy developers and corrupt planners.

Top Story The Digital Mission Daily (Monday 30 January 2012).

The cultural industry

January 29, 2012

Documented@Davos: Paulo Coehlo, Author from Michelle Laird on Vimeo.

Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho discussing the cultural industry at World Economic Forum at Davos.

The printing press revolutionised the way we handle information. The Bible was made available to the many, not the few.

Social media, the internet, is the second information revolution. The publishing industry has yet to catch up.

Social media, the internet, has given power to the people. We saw that in Iran, we saw it with the Arab Spring, we saw it with Occupy Wall Street. We the people are in power. Governments labour under the illusion they are in power.

Aleph, a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, No1 in all countries bar one, the UK. Not No1 or at least not well known in the UK due to the failure of bookshop chain Waterstone’s for whatever perverse reason known only to themselves to put Aleph on display.

What a year!
Paulo Coelho in Waterstone’s and the author the publisher forgot

Writers, artists, muscians want to create, they wish to share what they create

Documented@Davos: SOPA Panel
Thoughts of Paulo Coelho on Sopa
Desmond Tutu and Paulo Coelho at Davos
Paulo Coelho on writing I
Paulo Coelho on Desert Island Discs
The Journey of Paulo Coelho

Documented@Davos: SOPA Panel

January 29, 2012

Documented@Davos: SOPA Panel from Michelle Laird on Vimeo.

Excellent panel discussion at Davos on why Sopa is bad and possible ways forward.

We created Wikipedia, we made it all up ourselves. Much of the content on the net is provided by us. It is the human condition to create, to want to share.

Hollywood wants, Hollywood does not get.

Money no longer buys votes. We can mobilise via social media. we can Occupy!

Hollywood acted on behalf of Hollywood. Greed! Internet companies acted on behalf of the internet. Empowerment!

Sopa has opened an amazing can of worms. Internet companies are now demanding openness, transparency, lack of secrecy, good governance!

If Hollywood and the music industry stopped being so greedy, stopped criminalsing their customers, they would not have a problem.

Creative people wnat to share what they produce. It is the greed of Big Business that gets in the way.

Amazing. An intelligent American politician who actually talks sense, who knows what he is talking about.

We have Open Source Software. How about the same for legislation? Publish on the net. People invited not only to make comment, but to propose and draft amendments (cf Wikipedia). This reduces the worth of lobbyists to zero over night. It would also improve the political intake as they would be there to serve, to make a difference, not to get their snouts in the trough, as there would no longer be the money sloshing around.

Sopa would have been still born if instead of cooked up in secret between Hollywood and politicians for sale it had bene available to open public scrutiny.

Open Government? Participatory democracy?

The cultural industry
Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)
Thoughts of Paulo Coelho on Sopa
We are in charge now
A sense of the masses – a manifesto for the new revolution

Paulo Coelho on Desert Island Discs

January 29, 2012
Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho on the fabled island talking about his life and choosing eight discs to take with him.

Do not skip to the records, listen to the programme and then each one is heard in context.

Sue Lawley has done her homework!

This is one of the best Desert Island Discs programmes I have heard. Paulo Coelho comes across as totally unpretentious.

To be invited on to Desert Island Discs is a great honour. Far more prestigious than winning an Oscar.

You are allowed to take to your desert island eight gramophone records as they were when the programme started for your wind-up gramophone, one luxury and one book. You are provided with the Bible and the Collected Works of Shakespeare.

The records chosen are placed within the context of your life, which is what makes the programme interesting and has given it its everlasting appeal.

Desert Island Discs celebrates seventy years this year! Nearly 3,000 castaways on the desert island and yet only four presenters during the entire history off the programme.

Castaway: 70 Years of Desert Island Discs
The Journey of Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho talks to Big Issue
Desmond Tutu and Paulo Coelho at Davos

Desmond Tutu and Paulo Coelho at Davos

January 28, 2012
Desmond Tutu and Paulo Coelho at Davos

Desmond Tutu and Paulo Coelho at Davos

We can no longer ignore this growing distance between rich and poor. It is time to close the gap. It is time to talk about making real changes so that the world becomes a more equitable place. — Desmond Tutu

No matter how powerful we are, if we are morally hollow, our world will collapse. — Desmond Tutu

I believe every human being is made for goodness – yes, even bankers! — Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu and Paulo Coelho at World Economic Forum in Davos.

Together with Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the founding members of The Elders.

Author of Aleph, Paulo Coelho is a UN Messenger of Peace.

The rich, powerful and influential meet once a year at the World Economic Forum in Davos to agree how the world will be run for the next year.

The World Social Forum is a parallel forum where the people of the world meet to put forward ideas for a better world.

Paulo Coelho on writing I
Paulo Coelho talks to Big Issue
Tutu: The Authorised Portrait
Time to close the gap

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