Thursday, 6 June 2013

Odds and Ends

Most amusing tweet of the week from Deputy Pitman ‏@BaldTruthJersey
"Funniest bit in the States today: groans and denials from Constables when I said they bloc vote. Then they all bloc voted against Crowcroft!"
Of course the Senators also often vote the same way, apart from perhaps Alan Breckon - but somehow that always goes unnoticed. And you can probably find a group of Deputies who also often vote the same way, but they get lost in the general numbers of all Deputies.
Meanwhile on Twitter, the following exchange sounds a warning note to those who think we can just cheerfully grow the population regardless of infrastructure:
David Warr ‏@WarrOnWords  Has Grand Vaux reservoir sprung a leak? Haven't seen it this low since last drought.
Jersey Water ‏@JerseyWater @WarrOnWords No leak, just using the water from that reservoir for the moment.
David Warr ‏@WarrOnWords  @JerseyWater thought that might be the case. Scary how quick we get through it
Jersey Water ‏@JerseyWater @WarrOnWords Yes, although we are 90% full at present, we only have approximately 120 days of storage.
120 days of storage is around 4 months, so it is still quite a lot, but as the population grows, that gets less and less each year, and all that is needed is for one reservoir to be out of action for major repair or maintenance work – as last year – and the amount of storage can drop rapidly. There is always the desalination plant,  but that's not cheap to run.  I wonder how much storage there was 10 years ago, and how it has diminished since as the population has risen.
Turning to church matters, according to Gary Burgess on Twitter: "I'm not a crackpot" - Sen Bailhache responds to critics of his church-issue actions.
The CTV report had an expanded report:
"But there are some in Jersey's church who see things differently. They say these investigations are fair game, especially if you have nothing to hide.  One today called the organisers of tonight's meeting 'crackpots'. Sir Philip said: "Well, I don't think we're all crackpots, I think we have serious matters to talk about and serious people who want to do that will come to the meeting this evening.""
As an aside, crackpot dates from around the 1880s, though its first sense was that of a stupid person. It has nothing to do with Crackpot, in Swaledale, Yorkshire, where can be found Crackpot Hall, a ruined farmstead; that is a corruption of "Crakepot". It seems to have come as an alternative to the phrase "crack-brained". In 1883, the term appears in "Broadside Ballad"
My aunty knew lots,
and called them crack-pots.
The meeting apparently concentrated on possible changes to Jersey Canon Law, in particular regarding the position of Rector and Parish. It was stated by the organisers that it was not at all about HG, the woman about whom the whole matter began. While I think that matters of ecclesiastical jurisdiction – mentioned in vague terms in the terms of reference for the visitation – are important, it does seem to be wrong to bracket them off as a separate issue, and to ignore the wider safeguarding matters which are also part of Bishop Gladwin's  remit.
It seems to me that both Winchester and Jersey are adopting a siege mentality, where they each retreat to their dugouts, and lobby off shots at the opposing side. Somewhere in the no man's land in between lies H.G. and the issue of safeguarding, and the tragedy of someone effectively deported for Jersey because she threatened to be a nuisance  - note that she had not actually done anything. I hope that her shabby treatment by the judiciary is not forgotten or overlooked.
I managed to finally catch up with a recording of the BBC TV drama called "The Challenger", made in conjunction with the Open University and the Science Channel; it presents in dramatic form the perspective of physicist Richard Feynman as a member of the Rogers Commission, the committee of experts set up by President Reagan to find out what caused the space shuttle disaster of 1986.
William Hurt plays Feynman, the late Nobel Prize-winner, and brings the character vividly to life, as he struggles to overcome the stonewalling by members of the Committee and NASA, and his own battle with the cancer which would shortly kill him.
It recreated the brilliant piece of theatre at a press conference, where Feynman immersed a crucial component of the shuttle – the material of an O-ring - in a glass of ice and water. Contrary to NASA's assertions that it would keep resilience and flexibility to well below zero centigrade, this showed that freezing temperatures were sufficient to show how it would have malfunctioned on the freezing morning of the launch. It was this failure of one component, the O-rings on the solid rocket booster, which led to the shuttle's disintegration 73 seconds after launch, killing all seven astronauts on-board.
He noted in his appendix: "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled"
Dr Ivan Horrocks, Senior Lecturer in Technology Management and Principal Academic Consultant said:
"Feynman's role in the investigation of the Challenger disaster is a fascinating story of dogged determination, politics and intrigue. But the factual drama also illustrates how important it is for people to be able to speak out when they suspect wrongdoing. And the subsequent investigation highlighted the value of independent regulation, transparency and openness in guarding against the failings that lead to such disasters. In the light of the banking crisis, doping in sport or the horsemeat debacle, these are lessons that remain as important today as they were then."
Returning to the Winchester visitation to Jersey, those words could be as pertinent to that as well. As the CTV report noted, "there are some in Jersey's church who see things differently. They say these investigations are fair game, especially if you have nothing to hide."
There is a value of independent regulation, transparency and openness in guarding against the failings of the past. It should not be business as usual. There are lessons to be learnt, and – whatever the weaknesses of the Korris report – it demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that safeguarding practices in Jersey's Anglican churches evidently need improvement.

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