Friday, 31 January 2014

Guest Comment on Population

Daniel Wimberley has been unable to comment on my blog, but has sent a comment, which I think deserves a degree of prominence. Daniel was a former Deputy of St Mary, and raised the subject of immigration during his term of office.
He was also responsible for getting the States to agree to an independent electoral commission, a decision which was later rescinded by the States after he had retired as Deputy, in favour of a States appointed commission, chaired by States members. Given the fiasco that Sir Philip Bailhache's electoral commission resulted in, it is clear than an independent committee couldn't have made a worse mess of the process. In fact, Daniel also predicted correctly that the States would be unable to reform themselves any more than the failed attempts of the past, hence the need for an independent commission.
My posting can be read here:

Daniel Wimberley's Comment
Excellent post. It is a Ponzi scheme. Can we persuade the powers-that-be to change course and act sustainably?
Well yes, if they were rational, and fair-minded, and acting in "good faith." But unfortunately there is something else going on here.
1)      there was no population estimate by the Statistics Unit in 2010 even though they normally carry out this estimate every year and it is not difficult or expensive to do. No figures from the census were published before the 2011 election, which would have turned population into the number 1 election issue.
2)      in the debate on population which I forced when the States in mid-2009 debated the 2009-2014 Strategic Plan, the Council of Ministers "vanished" 2,800 people by statistical sleight of hand.  It was blatant deception carried out by the ruling group. Its effect was to keep the maximum population which would arise as a result of the policy they were putting forward well below the totemic figure of 100,000.
3)      at Imagine Jersey 2035 those attending were told that if net inward migration were zero (no more people coming in then going out) then the population would fall dramatically with all kinds of ensuing problems. (At the time that was true as deaths exceeded births, at the time that Imagine Jersey 2035 took place). People faced with that said they were quite happy to have limited net inward migration of plus 150 households and that would have given us a steady population.  This was relayed to the public via the media as the people who attended want more population.  This was completely untrue.
In the States later, Terry le Sueur claimed that the public had agreed to a final population of 100,000 during consultation. He was forced to admit that the claim was false during questions in the house.
Readers might like to consider why, on this issue, what we get is not an honest debate but a succession of lies. It is almost as if the purpose is to ensure that the policy of increasing the population is so important to the ruling group that nothing will turn them from that course.
In which case the only way forward is to remove them from office. Putting forward rational arguments, pointing out that the whole thing is a Ponzi scheme, will have no effect whatsoever.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Ponzi Economics: Immigration and Infrastructure

"Jersey States has revealed a new population policy - to limit immigration to 325 people a year. The temporary law would give the government more control over the number of migrants coming to the island. Assistant Chief Minister, Senator Paul Routier, said: "We are controlling the number of licences to non-locals. But it is important to keep a level of immigration, so that we have a workforce that can support an ageing population." (1)
"I have no choice but to provide extra capacity in primary schools in 18 months to two years." The Education department had hoped to build a new school, but could not find a suitable site and so decided to spend £10m on extending six primary schools. Projected figures show a steady rise in the number of children expected to come into education in the next few years. Births in Jersey have risen from 944 in 2006 to 1125 births in 2012." (2)
There seems to be an assumption that one can "grow" the population by immigration to support an ageing population, and that this can be wholly divorced from considerations of infrastructure. Projected figures show increased numbers of children - who presumably will be part of this diminishing workforce - are putting such pressure on the education system that primary schools need to be expanded.
And that is quite apart from increased demands on power, water, sewage treatment, hospitals, etc etc, all of which need increased, and sometimes very costly capacity.
It is an illusion to assume that adopting a strategy of immigration to curb problems over an ageing population. Assuming the bulk of the immigration is within the working age span, that will increase the total in that bracket and mitigate the problem of support for the retired people. But in time, those new immigrants will increase the retired population, because they themselves age. But now there are more within that age bracket to get older and retire, and the only solution is more immigration.
It's rather like taking out loans to replay loans plus interest, and the interest cumulating, so that higher and higher loans are needed. The more the size of the loan increases, the greater the interest to pay, and the greater value that another loan would need to be to repay it.
And just as you cannot evade repayment of a loan by endless borrowing, so too the ageing population cannot be solved by endless immigration. Since immigrants age too, all this can do is put off the evil hour for future generations. To continue postponing the crunch you have to keep increasing the dose of immigration. This is Ponzi scheme economics.
Dr Andrew Geddes has also noted this in his observation on the UK:
"The argument in support of newcomers is beguilingly appealing. The effects of an ageing population on the labour market and welfare state require immigration because immigrants can fill labour market gaps and sustain pensions and health care. The UK population of state pensionable age is projected to increase from 10.8 million in 2000 to 11.9 million in 2011 and to peak at around 16 million in 2040."
"But this replacement migration argument has a flaw: immigrants require replacements given that they settle down, have children and get old too. More and more immigration is then needed." (3)
And even the UK Home Office's report International Migration and the United Kingdom: Patterns and Trends (2001) could see the flaw:
"The impact of immigration in mitigating population ageing is widely acknowledged to be small because immigrants also age. For a substantial effect, net inflows of migrants would not only need to occur on an annual basis, but would have to rise continuously. Despite these and other findings, debate about the link between changing demography and a migration 'fix' refuses to go away."(6)
To solve the problem today by immigration is to burden future generations with the real cost. a point made by Leith van Onselen commenting on the same situation in Australia:
"Immigration only helps to delay population ageing by pushing the problem onto future generations (whilst creating potential problems in other areas). Indeed, when the current batch of migrants inevitably grow old and retire, Australia will find itself in exactly the same position, with policy makers once again seeking to kick-the-can down the road via more immigration." (4)
"Simply importing more workers to cover the retirement of the Baby Boomers only delays the ageing problem, pushing the problem onto future generations. Further, what will be the solution in 30 years time when current migrants grow old, retire and need taxpayer support? More immigration and an even larger Australia?" (5)
And Leith also notes the infrastructure problem which is so often simply bracketed off any discussion as somehow magically solvable:
"A big negative of high rates of population growth is that it places increasing pressure on the pre-existing (already strained) stock of infrastructure and housing, reducing productivity and living standards unless costly new investments are made. Indeed, controversial investments like desalination plants would arguably not have been required absent population growth." (5)
If we follow the adoption of a migration strategy to mitigate ageing population, then at 2050 we would be left with exactly the same challenge now of adjusting to an ageing society, but with a vastly greater population. In the long term it is a Ponzi scheme, paying dividends for the present by burdening the future with the real task of tackling the problem.
The demand on infrastructure cannot simply be adjusted by throwing more resources at the problem. There is a limited water supply within the Island. The capacity from France can be increased, but the ability to deploy local power in an emergency will grow steadily more problematic. There will be increased pressure of traffic on the roads, more children needing larger schools, more hospital resources, more social housing.
What are urgently needed are calculations of the effect of each increase in 1,000 of the population on the Island's resources, and no such calculation and projections have been made. What is certain is that uncontrolled immigration is unsustainable, and immigration is not a "silver bullet", an easy panacea for solving the economic problems of an ageing society.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Freedom is Precious: A Look at the Ukraine

A friend of mine has drawn my attention to what is happening in the Ukraine at the moment. In recent weeks, there has been new laws enacted which imposed draconian measures on protests against the government.

As the BBC reported on 17 January 2014:

"Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has signed into law a bill aimed at curbing anti-government protests. The bill was passed in parliament on Thursday with a quick show of hands by MPs loyal to the president, rather than the usual system of electronic voting. The changes include a ban on unauthorised tents in public areas and criminal responsibility for slandering government officials." (1)

It all began when mass demonstrations began over President Yanukovych's last-minute rejection of the EU partnership deal, in favour of a deal with Russia. Instead of a trade deal with the EU, Mr Yanukovych opted for a $15bn (£9bn) bailout from Russia. There was clear pressure from Russia to bind the country with closer ties in an economic union, with the threat of a political union bringing back Ukraine to the kind of satellite status it had within the old Soviet Union.

But the demands later widened to include broader issues such as claims of widespread government corruption and abuse of power.

"One of the laws bans any unauthorised installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places. Those who violate the law now face a hefty fine or detention. Another bill provides a punishment of one year of corrective labour for slandering government officials. Protests involving more than five vehicles in "Automaidan" motorcades were also banned. This followed such demonstrations outside government offices - including Mr Yanukovych's countryside residence - in recent days." (1)

The legislation was specifically targeting a particular kind of protest, and also, for good measure, was effectively restricting freedom of speech. As the Washington Post noted:

"Slander would become a criminal offence, according to the bill, and critics said it is so broadly worded that virtually any act of journalism that criticizes the government or a government official could be defined as slander."

On 16th January the law was passed restricting the right to protest, but the protests continued to escalate, and on 22nd January, two protesters die from bullet wounds during clashes with police in Kiev, and by this time, protests were spreading across many cities

But today, the hardline appears to be in tatters.

"The Ukrainian parliament has voted overwhelmingly to annul controversial anti-protest legislation. The decision comes less than two weeks after the measures were introduced. The law, which banned the wearing of helmets by protesters and the blockading of public buildings, had helped fuel continuing anti-government demonstrations. In another move to appease the protesters, Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has offered to quit." (3)

It is an extraordinary volte-face by the parliament, as an emergency session voted by 361 to 2 to repeal the protest laws. And Prime Minister Azarov has now said: "To create additional opportunities for social and political compromise and for a peaceful solution to the conflict, I made a personal decision to ask the president of Ukraine to accept my resignation as prime minister of Ukraine."

"Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government Tuesday, amid a political crisis fired by violent protests on the country's streets." (8)

Earlier today, an anonymous senior Russian official hinted strongly that Russia might reconsider its $15 billion bailout offer to Ukraine if the current government is removed. Perhaps realising that kind of threat would be counter productive, President Putin has declared the deal will go ahead regardless:

"Moscow is ready to support not the government of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people, President Putin said, referring to Russia's loan to its neighbouring state and its offer to reduce gas prices. No matter which government comes to power in Ukraine, Russia will not reconsider its earlier signed agreements, he told a news conference in Brussels. "Regarding you question whether we will review our agreements on loans and the energy sector if the opposition will take power ... No, we will not," Putin told a news conference after talks with European Union leaders in Brussels. (4)

Meanwhile, within the EU summit, accusations and counter-accusations may be been hurled about in a "blame game":

"EU leaders will tell Vladimir Putin when they meet for a summit in Brussels tomorrow (28 January) that the present Ukrainian crisis was prompted by Russian pressure on Kyiv. The Russian president is expected to counter by saying that the EU made the first move by offering Ukraine a free trade agreement and for meddling in its internal affairs." (5)

Russia evidently feared an EU-Ukraine trade deal would damage its economy, and that it is being sidelined by the EU. It has the potential to restrict fuel supplies to Europe, and sees the increased expansion of the EU as a threat, not perhaps without cause. The EU has been expanding into the former Soviet territories and brings with it an internal protectionism, while a recent study suggests that Russia has intensified its own protectionist policies.

Ukraine is caught up in the middle, a pawn between the two power blocks, and the recent political turmoil in that country reflects the attempt to stifle internal debate on the matter. The ending of the anti-protest laws should not, however, lull the outside viewer into a false sense of security. While the repeal has eased tensions for the moment, the economic and political battleground fought over Ukraine may well reignite protests.

Journalist and war correspondent Eric S. Margolis, writing earlier this month sums up the issues, and the dangers of conflict:

"Strife-torn Ukraine is another powder keg. Its western half wants to join Europe; the Russian-speaking eastern half wants to reunite with Russia. The West is busy stirring the pot in Kiev. Moscow is furious and sees nefarious western plots to begin tearing apart the Russian Federation, which is beset by rebellion in the Caucasus. All this threatens a clash between Russia and NATO. Diplomacy, not subversion, is urgently needed." (6)

Back in 1992, Trudy Rubin noted:

"Between Russia and Ukraine lies deep mistrust born of centuries of Russian dominance. Russians still have difficulty accepting Ukrainian independence and Ukrainians fear Russia will return to its imperialist ways." (7)

Freedom is precious, and it is too precious to be lost in the Ukraine because of a power struggle between the EU and Russia. Whatever economic solution is found, it must be divorced as far as possible from the political control which gave rise to the protests. It is clear that many people in Ukraine do not want to be dominated by Russian hegemony again, but they should also be aware that the EU is not wholly altruistic in its overtures either.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Can It Be Done?

Have you heard of "Canbedone Productions" before the film that is apparently due to be made in Jersey, apparently starting shooting this month? I hadn't, so I decided to do a little research into matters. What follows is all on websites, in the public domain.

Company Information

According to Open Corporates company information, we have Canbedone Productions Limited
Incorporation Date 24 August 2004 (over 9 years ago)
C/o Lewis Co 19 Goodge Street Bloomsbury, London, England, United Kingdom

Meanwhile Company Check comes up with:

No telephone number available. No email address available. No contact person available.
Reg Office: C/o Lewis Co 19 Goodge Street Bloomsbury, London, England, United Kingdom

That is a bit of a dead end, as Lewis & Co,19-19A Goodge Street, London are listed as accountants. In other words, it is a forwarding address. Obviously there must be an email address and phone number, but it is not prominent. Perhaps there is a website somewhere as well, but if there is, I can't find it.

Contrast this with Hand Made Films at, and even while that website is under reconstruction, it has an email address, and an office which doesn't look like a forwarding address.

Keith Cavele, Director

Perhaps, I thought, it would be possible to look at the record of the director. As mentioned in the Jersey Evening Post:

"Keith Cavele, who has written the script and helped to secure a £200,000 grant from Economic Development to fund pre-production costs, has been reinstated as director having previously been removed to take on the role of producer."

It does beg the question of who removed him, and who reinstated him? Who is running the show?

But let's stick with Mr Cavele. According to the Internet Movie Database, the director of Canbedone Productions, Keith Cavele has a track record of making some films as producer, not director, but hardly memorable ones, and not any recent ones:

Lauren's Journal: Stand Tall (2009) (TV Movie documentary) (producer)
Split Second (1992) (executive producer)
Hawks (1988) (producer)
The American Way (1986) supervising producer)
Terminal Choice (1985) associate producer)
The Golden Lady (1979) (producer)
Queen Kong (1976) executive producer)

None of these seem to have been made by Canbedone Productions, which does not seem to actually have any films to its name. Of course, I might just have been unable to trace them, but it seems strange they have been so reticent about their past successes. Remember that the Company Record says incorporated: 24 August 2004 (over 9 years ago). This is not a company just set up for one film last year.

Split Second

So let us look at a few of the details and reviews. On "Split Second", which was filmed in 1992, and had Keith Cavele as executive producer (not director), Stephen Jones, a film script editor, notes that:

"Executive Producer Keith Cavele owned the rights to the classic Moody Blues song 'Nights in White Satin', which is why it incongruously turns up on the soundtrack. " 

Queen Kong Lives

There is more information about Mr Cavele on "Queen Kong Lives", which was filmed in 1976 given at:

This tells us:

Keith Cavele (executive producer): The former London rep of Frank Agrama's Italian company FAR Films, his first producer credit was Exposé and he also worked on The Burning, Golden Lady, Terminal Choice, Split Second and Hawks. Cavele (aka Keith Cavelle aka Keith Stewart Clark) was later involved in another legal case regarding a late 1980s attempt to film Neuromancer. He recently wrote, directed and produced a children's fantasy called Knights of Impossingworth Park, starring Ben Kingsley, about a "12-year-old girl who possesses humor, inner strength, and bravery beyond her years. Unknown to her she has been selected by a 1,000-year-old knight to be a defender of justice and a protector of children."

You may spot a name there - "Knights of Impossingworth Park", which curiously is almost exactly the same name as the film in Jersey, as the JEP notes:

 "Film producers Canbedone Ltd have been given a £200,000 grant of taxpayers' money towards the costs of creating 'Knights of Impossingworth' in Jersey and could start filming within months."

"The creators of Crystal Island, which was formerly known as Knights of Impossingworth"

Paul Cowan

Also associated with Keith Cavele is Paul Cowan, who is also listed as a director of Canbedone Productions.

"PAUL WILLIAM COWAN has been employed at CANBEDONE PRODUCTIONS LTD since 2004.08.24 currently as a Director (FILM PRODUCER)."

The notes on "Queen Kong Lives" tell us:

Paul Cowan (production manager)

Cowan also served as production manager on Vampyres, Exposé and The Lifetaker before moving up to production duties in the 1980s on films such as Dance with a Stranger, We Think the World of You, The Krays, The Crying Game, Backbeat and The Pope Must Die. He recently produced Knights of Impossingworth Park with Keith Cavele. The Inaccurate Movie Database has him confused with a Canadian documentary maker of the same name.

Knights of Impossingworth Park

Here is the listing of both with a very similar title to the Jersey film

Knights of Impossingworth Park

And sure enough, Mr Cavele is listed along with Paul Cowan.

Here is a bit more on "Queen Kong", which is worth noting because it shows how movie finance can be very precarious indeed. This is the film which had Keith Cavele as producer.;prev_next=prev#new

"Queen Kong (1976, UK) - Most sources list Queen Kong as Anglo-Italian, but this is very debatable. The original announcement at the Cannes Film Festival trumpeted the film as a Franco-Italian co-production between Andr? Genoves' company La Boetie (Paris) and Virgilio De Blasi's company Canaria (Rome). It was to be shot in the UK but that did not affect the film's nationality. (Star Wars was shot entirely in the UK the same year, but that's hardly a British movie!).

In order to make the film, Frank Agrama set up an independent British company -Dexter Films (London) - and this, together with the use of a British cast and crew, qualified Queen Kong for Eady money, a government funding scheme which was discontinued shortly afterwards (the Eady Levy was a tax on cinema tickets which was ploughed back into the British film industry). There was no commercial British funding of the film, nor did Agrama put any of his own money into it.

While the film was in post-production, in August 1976, Genoves announced that he could not in fact afford his half of the production costs. Dexter Films had "cash-flow problems" so co-producer Keith Cavele, according to a contemporary report in Screen International, told the Frenchman that if he didn't stump up the money by 20th August, he would "take advantage of an alternative source".

Ah, but here's where it gets really complicated. The original set-up had Agrama as producer, De Blasi as executive producer, Keith Cavele as co-producer and Genoves with a 'presents...' credit. The finished film retains Agrama's credit and Genoves' credit but omits De Blasi entirely and promotes Cavele to executive producer. This does not square with the above information since it suggests that it was De Blasi, rather than Genoves, who reneged on his financial commitments.

Extensive publicity material which was prepared for a German release (although the film appears to have had only one trade screening in that country) calls Queen Kong "Eine produktion der Cine Art Pictures, M?nchen und Dexter Films, London." It is therefore reasonable to assume that the "alternative source" mentioned by Cavele was Cine Art (which some people have assumed to be an Italian company but which was, as can be seen, actually based in Munich). However, there is no mention of Cine Art anywhere in the credits of the film as released. Italian publicity material meanwhile just calls the film "A Dexter Films Production, London" - but Italian films of this period are notorious for disguising any domestic involvement. "

Knights of Impossingworth Park (2005)

Directed by: Keith Cavelle (Split Second, Golden Lady)
Written by: Keith Cavelle

This did exist on the Internet Movie Database, but has since vanished. Ben Kingsley was listed as appearing, but it appears nowhere on his entry on the IMDB.

Status: Pre-production
Status Updated: 15 January 2005
Note: Since this project is categorized as being in production, the data is subject to change; some data could be removed completely.

Status: Unknown
Status Updated: 30 April 2006
Since this project is categorized as being in production, the data is subject to change; some data could be removed completely.

By December 2006, it had vanished completely from IMDB

It is also mentioned on this website as "films under development" on

Christopher Peters is currently co-producing the film "Knights of Impossingworth Park", a US-China Co-production in association with Shenhart Entertainment a LA-Beijing based production company. Shooting entirely on mainland China, the film is an epic adventure in which two immortal knights compete for the survival of children of the world and the future of mankind. 

"Knights of Impossingworth Park" is 2005 Family film directed and written by Keith Cavele , starring Renee Casati, Dale Midkiff, Laurie Holden, Valerie Tian, Callum Blue and Jonathan Lipnicki."

Ben Kingsley seems to have vanished from the list.

But he pops up again in the mention of the film in the Liverpool Echo of May 2008:

Lauren's proud mum Carol today also revealed the astonishing international success of Stand Tall would see it become the soundtrack of a new Hollywood blockbuster. The song will feature in the title track of The Knights of Impossingworth Park, which stars Sir Ben Kingsley and Jackie Chan.

Incidentally, Jackie Chan's entry on IMDB doesn't mention the blockbuster either.


It is not impossible for a relatively unknown film company, or a relatively obscure director, to come out of the blue and produce some blockbuster. But more often or not, it does not happen.

Whether or not there ever was a previous version of "The Knights of Impossingworth Park" in 2005, or in 2008 (according to the Liverpool echo), it does not seem to have been a "Hollywood blockbuster". There is no record on the filmography of the stars in it ever having been in it, and it never seems to have advanced in status from pre-production on IMDB, before being removed altogether.

Of the few entries I have tracked down, while Keith Cavelle does have a history as a producer of films, even the most generous of movie critics would hardly describe them as "blockbusters".  The most recent "Split Second" is over a decade ago. What has Mr Cavelle been doing since?

Canbedone Productions has been incorporated for nine years (ten this year), but I can find no promotional website for it, and no list of films it has been involved with during that time.

All of these raise concerns about whether the movie which is currently seeing auditions will ever see the light of day, and whether it will prove to be a "Hollywood Blockbuster". They are questions which seem to have evaded Economic Developments, and perhaps the Minister would be able to examine the paperwork, and furnish the particulars which my own investigation has failed to turn up.

Stop Press:
Also worth reading is the Scrutiny Public Accounts Committee report on the matter published last year

Monday, 27 January 2014

Tony’s Newsround

The Internet of Things
One of the most extra ordinary stories which appears to be true is mentioned in the Independent
"A report published last week claimed that a 100,000-strong botnet included 'at least one refrigerator'…This is the claim from California-based security researchers Proofpoint, who announced in a recent report that they had discovered a new type of botnet that included "multi-media centers, televisions and at least one refrigerator."
Smart devices have a processor and software built in to accomplish more tasks than the old fashioned electrical devices did, and allow linkages on wifi systems so that they can be operated remotely or send out messages to you. In early January, there was a demonstration of this cutting edge technology:
"At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, manufacturers demonstrated a range of previously mundane but now smart, web-connected products destined to become part of daily domestic existence, from kitchen appliances to baby monitors to sports equipment."
"Smart refrigerators will let you know when the milk is on the turn, or when you need to buy more ketchup. Smart toilets will monitor the frequency and consistency of your bowel movements, and tell you whether you ought to book an appointment with a dietician – or worse, a clinician. Meanwhile, the microprocessor manufacturer Intel last week unveiled a circuit board named Edison, so small that it can be sewn into clothing, ensuring that you will never wear odd socks to work again." (2)
The worry is that such devices can be hacked. While it is uncertain whether the report of the refridgerator was accurate or not, there have been certain hacks of these intelligent devices:
"Last year, for instance, a family in Houston, Texas found that a hacker had exploited security failings in its hi-tech baby monitor, made by the Chinese firm Foscam, to log in and begin verbally abusing the family's two-year-old, telling her she was a "little slut". Researchers recently uncovered similar vulnerabilities in a smart toilet, which can be controlled via Bluetooth using an Android smartphone app. According to the report by security firm Trustwave, hackers could cause the Inax Satis automatic toilet "to unexpectedly open/close the lid [or] activate bidet or air-dry functions, causing discomfort or distress to the user"." (2)
Quite why one wants to automate a toilet is beyond my comprehension, but I suppose for some people, the need to have a gadget to show off to visitors is just too good to be true. I don't think I will get a small toilet any time soon!
Hamish McGlacier
Some amazing evidence has turned up recently to show that Scotland may have had a glacier up until the 1700s, which is well within recorded history:
"Dundee University geographer Dr Martin Kirkbride said a glacier may have survived in the Cairngorms as recently as the 18th Century. Using a technique called cosmogenic 10Be dating, Dr Kirkbride showed that a small glacier in a Cairngorms corrie piled up granite boulders to form moraine ridges within the past few centuries, during the period of cool climate known as the Little Ice Age." (3)
And this tallies with the records that survive from that time:

"There are some anecdotal reports from that time of snow covering some of the mountain tops year-round. What we have now is the scientific evidence that there was indeed a glacier." (3)
Between 1650 and 1790, Scotland, along with much of Europe, was suffering from what has been termed "The Little Ice Age".The period from 1695 to 1702 was particularly bad in Scotland, with major crop failures; it is called the "Seven Ill Years".
The recent extreme weather, and the severe cold in winters, do raise the question of whether glaciers could form again in the Highlands.
Watch the Skies!
There is a new supernova, which has just appeared, and was spotted by undergraduates during a telescope class at the University of London Observatory:
"An exploding star has been spotted in the night sky - the closest supernova to Earth that has been seen in decades. The dramatic event happened 12 million light years away in Messier 82 - known as the cigar galaxy for its shape."
"One minute we're eating pizza then five minutes later we've helped to discover a supernova. I couldn't believe it," said student Tom Wright. "It reminds me why I got interested in astronomy in the first place." (4)
It may even be bright enough to see with binoculars:
"Scientists says it could grow even brighter over the coming weeks, before fading away. If this happens, astronomers in the northern hemisphere may be able to spot it with binoculars, by looking between the Great Bear and the Little Bear." (4)
"A supernova is, for all intents and purposes, a star that has suddenly burst apart. The greater part of the star's mass is converted instantly into radiant energy and the resultant explosion can be equal to the light of 100 billion normal stars." (5)
For those without telescopes, there is a short webcast (with introduction) at:

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Terry Hampton on Caesarea

In 1994, Terry Hampton penned a series of articles for "The Pilot" called "It's in the Bible but." dealing with names that were somewhat obscure mentioned in the Bible, of whom the average reader would know little. Terry, with his interest in archaeology, decided to write an article to tell the readership more about them.

Caesarea by Terry Hampton (1994)

This week I read that Jesus sailed from Caesarea with Paul, Peter plus Luke in AD 60! Bet you didn't know that. Yes, it's all there in Acts 27.

In case you, O gentle reader, have looked up the passage and searched in vain for Jesus' name in it, let me reassure you that it's not there! This nonsense comes in a recent book by an Australian Dead Sea Scrolls academic, who argues that Jesus didn't die on the Cross, that he was rescued by his disciples (He had, by the way, courted and married Mary of Magdalene - who is the same Mary as Mary of Bethany) and then Jesus manages to escape detection and betrayal during the terrible Fire of Rome (AD 64), and eventually died of old age (and inactivity perhaps?) after AD 70. The purveyor of this puerile rubbish is one Dr Barbara Thiering (or something!)

Now back to "Caesares Maritima". Built by Herod the Great (c 20 BC) it became the great and only port of the Roman province of Judea. Prefects or governors landed there and had Caesarea as their Roman capital - with Jerusalem as the spiritual and Jewish capital. Pilate landed there and in 1961 a stone was found in the Roman theatre with Pilate's name on it.

Whether Jesus ever went there we don't know. Herod also built an aqueduct to bring water from the Mount Carmel range, a distance of some twelve miles or so. The aqueduct is still standing - tho' with large gaps as it goes across the seashore.

The theatre has been rebuilt and the Israel Orchestra play concerts there - it holds about 3,000 people. It was here we believe that the great Rossi Ahisa was tortured to death by the Romans in AD 135 for his support of the false Messiah, Bar Kochba,

Caesarea was the home of the Roman Centurion Cornelius [Acts 10], a gentile who with his "household" [v.2] received the Holy Spirit whilst listening to Peter preach. It was here that Paul was kept for two years during the rule of the corrupt Prefect Felix [Acts 24-27] and where Paul spoke powerfully before the new Governor's judgement seat - on Porcius Testus. As a Roman citizen Paul had the right to appeal to the Emperor Nero for a fresh trial - which he used "Appelatio ad Caesarem."

Jewish Revolt

Caesarea was one of the places where the first Jewish Revolt was sparked off. Anti-Jewish mobs attacked the synagogues and the local Jews had had more than enough of anti-semitism, so they reacted fiercely. Jerusalem Jews were furious at the conduct of the then Prefect Florus, and his constant monetary exactions led some wags to go round with collecting bags calling out "Alms for poor old Florus!" He was not amused and so the first Jewish Revolt erupted in AD 66, only ending with the destruction of the
Temple in the summer of AD 70.

From Caesarea Paul sailed to Rome to stand trial, tho' with a benign Roman centurion called Julius allowing him some very unusual privileges [see Acts 27:31]. As mentioned before, Rossi Ahisa died here, reciting aloud the Shema, or Jewish creed, "The Lord our God is one Lord." It ended "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength," and then the godly-but mistaken Rossi died.

There is a powerful Jewish legend that Moses had a vision in, which Rossi Ahisa sits teaching the Torah, the Law, to his pupils - with Moses sitting humbly in the eighth row. And when he enquired about the end of this chosen teacher, he saw another image - Ahisa reciting the Shema as the iron combs rent his body."

Caesarea was a magnificently built town. The breakwater was made of the recently developed quick-drying Roman cement. There were great storehouses for grain and oil, a temple to Augustus, a theatre, and (c.3 AD) a small Mithraic Temple. Outside the walls were a hippodrome for chariot racing and an amphitheatre for gladiators and wild beast fights. Today an American expedition is exploring the foreshore and submerged remains and its members have to be qualified scuba divers!

And Caesarea is where we remember Cornelius, the Roman centurion. [Acts 10]. We recall that here was a "devout man who feared God, gave liberally and prayed constantly." A fine man, who was then "set on fire" by receiving the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit". What became of Cornelius and his household? We wish we knew! But I bet anything that he had a house church in his home and that it was a place of refuge and help to all in need, and that Cornelius was an outstanding Christian leader, who witnessed to his men. A challenge there for each of us, surely.  Do I witness for Jesus in my work - is my house available for God's work and for God's people? Spend some time reading, thinking about and praying through Acts 10. There are some powerful and challenging "words of the Lord" for all of us there!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

A Ruined Church

This was written in early December, and I'd forgotten about it until today.
A Ruined Church
I walked through the ruins that day
The roof bare to the winds and rain
No one left here to mourn or pray
A place where once our God did reign
A sparrow lights on fallen stones
As I wander, through a desolation
This is the graveyard time of bones
An ending to that firm foundation
And I gather stones, and one by one
Begin to build, once more with hope
The clouds are parting, again the sun
My back is aching, but I will cope
Francesco, why do you try, they say?
But I heard God call one fateful day

Friday, 24 January 2014

Jersey Splits from Diocese after 700 years.

A lot is being made of the split between Jersey and Winchester, where Jersey has been moved to another Diocese (that of Canterbury) for the time being. The thrust of the headlines are that "Jersey's church is breaking away from the Diocese of Winchester - ending 500 years of historic links between the two institutions." But it is only five hundred years, compared with the split from Coutances after seven hundred years, and Jersey is staying within the Church of England, so the effect on the average man or woman in the street will not be noticeably different. The services will remain the same, christenings, marriages and funerals will take place as before, and very little will really change.

In a way, it is rather like the change from Crown to Prime Minister with appointments of Bishops. The Crown Nominations Commission, after consultations with the Diocesan Vacancy-in-See decides on two names. These are forwarded to the Prime Minister, who chooses one of them, by convention, the first names one.

But after the break with Rome in Henry VIII's time, it was the monarch who had the decision on appointments. The Monarch gradually received more advice from the Church, but it was still open to them to decide on their own. King Charles II made some appointments purely of his own volition, as for example, as he did in appointing Thomas Ken to Bath and Wells in 1684. But when Mary II died, a commission was appointed in 1695 to advise King William III, who had little knowledge of the Church of England.

By the time of the first Georges, the monarch was already relying on their Prime Ministers to advise them on the appointment of Bishops and Archbishops. During Lord Liverpool's Premiership, it was an established convention that a Prime Minister can insist on having the last word over any ecclesiastical appointment to be made by the Crown. The pattern of submitting names to the Prime Minister began largely with Archbishop Davidson in the 20th century, and was continued by his successor Cosmo Gordon Lang. By this time, the monarch had effectively relinquished control over appointment of Bishops.

For the churchgoer in the pew, however, these changes made little difference. They had no say over their new Bishop, whether finally chosen by Monarch or Premier. The same is true of the change from Winchester to Canterbury. Apart from the name of the Bishop in one prayer being altered (it is always the diocesan Bishop), there are no changes of significance, and nothing like the upheavals of the Reformation.

Jersey had been part of the Diocese of Coutances since at least 912, and possibly earlier, and while the Reformation had brought great changes in the church, strangely the Island remained part of the Catholic Diocese of Coutances, despite changes being attempted:

Warburton's history notes that "when King John was dispossessed of Normandy, he brought them under the bishop of Exeter's jurisdiction for a short time; but they were soon restored to the bishopric of Coutances, and so continued until the reign of Henry the Seventh"

It should be remembered that King John instituted an order to suppress the "alien priories", those whose mother house was in Normandy, and who paid dues to them. Like the dissolution of the Monasteries, this was a move motivated in part by politics, part by finance. The move to Exeter probably was related.

The change in King Henry's time was another move to bring them within the scope of English dioceses, and more in line with English hegemony:

"All through the Middle Ages the Channel Islands formed part of the French Diocese of Coutances. On 28th October 1496 King Henry VII, the first of the Tudors, requested Pope Alexander VI to transfer them to Salisbury. Three years later he asked to have them transferred to the Diocese of Winchester. The Pope did as Henry asked - but the Pope's Bull had no effect. Right up to the reign of Elizabeth I the Bishop of Coutances exercised jurisdiction over the Islands. "(4)

But in 1565, the Bishop of Coutances began to petition for non-payment of dues in Guernsey. He wanted, in the Queen's name, payment of all such dues and sums of money as has been his right to be paid to him.

"He sent his Procureur, or agent, with orders to make application for their recovery to the Governor, who referred him to the Bailiff and Jurats. They summoned John After, the Dean, to appear and answer to the Bishop's demands. When he presented himself, the Bishop's Procureur protested against After, as not having any right to the deanery, or to the parishes of St. Martin and St. Peter-in-the- Wood (both of which, by the queen's appointment, he was possessed of) , because he held them without any authority from the bishop of Coutances."

"The dean replied that he had sworn obedience to the Queen of England and her laws in matters ecclesiastical, that he had renounced the pope and all foreign jurisdiction, and that he held the deanery and the two parishes by Episcopal authority through the Bishop of Winchester, who, most probably from other circumstances, had some inspection over the spiritual affairs of the island at that time, though the order for annexing it to that see is of later date. Dean After then declared, that if the agent of the bishop of Coutances would, in his master's name, take the oath of fidelity to the queen, promise to obey her laws in matters ecclesiastical, and renounce the pope and his adherents, he would acknowledge the authority of the bishop of Coutances in the island; and he added that he was ready to give any further answer that might be required of him." (1)

The Bishop, however, was determined to try and regain his dues, and now he took his case to London, which was a mistake, because in 1569, the break with Coutances became absolute and irreversible:

"In 1569 the then Bishop of Coutances was on a diplomatic mission in London. He complained that the dues from the Island's Deaneries were not forthcoming. The Privy Council unearthed the Bull and the Royal Letter of 1499; an order in Council of 11th March 1569 executed the separation of the Islands from the Diocese of Coutances and placed them under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Bishop of Winchester" (4)

But matters were not quite as clear cut as that might suggest. Some of the leading Channel Islands Protestants had fled to Geneva in the time of Queen Mary, a natural choice as French was native to both locales. When they return in Elizabeth's reign, they put into effect radical solutions to church governance, doing away with a Dean, using the Geneva Prayer Book (which was in French), and setting up Church Consistory Courts to ensure that strict Presbyterian discipline and moral standards were adhered to. It was like the Puritanism of Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate, but come many years earlier.

Although a Dean was reinstated temporarily by James I, the Civil War brought Puritanism back to Jersey, and it was not until the restoration that there was a firm restoration of Anglican order, and the Book of Common Prayer. Nevertheless, the legacy of Calvinism ran deep:

"It was, in fact, 1818 before the Anglican form of Confirmation was administered for the first time by Dr. Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury, as the Bishop of Winchester was not well enough to do so. The Islands then had to wait until 1829 to receive the first Episcopal visitation from their Anglican Bishop, Dr Sumner of Winchester."(4)

The present move from Winchester to Canterbury is presently described as an "interim measure". As it seems largely to have been fuelled by an acrimonious power struggle between the Bishop of Winchester and factions supporting the Dean in Jersey, this seems quite possible.

Of course, interim may in fact mean a decade or more, but in terms of the thousand fold history of the ancient churches in the Parish Churches that is no more than a fleeting moment.

We should remember that the clash is between people within the church rather than the much greater clash of theology at the Reformation, and by removing the Channel Islands from Winchester, the Archbishop of Canterbury evidently hopes to defuse the quarrels.

How successful he is will depend on the rhetoric of those pressing for more permanent independence, but it would be foolish indeed for any Jersey contingent to seek to repudiate the oversight of Canterbury, as mediated through the Bishop of Dover. That may depend on the ego of some of the principal protagonists, whom I won't name here, but who have made statements, written letters, and can be rather easily identified in their push for independence, which in one instance, is not merely ecclesiastical but political. As big fish in a little pond, they might to well to remember the rebuke given to the disciples in Luke 9, verse 46-48.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Jersey Critic: Income Tax, Uncle James, Ballroom Dancing, Adverts

From November 1927, and the "Jersey Critic".

A selection of bits and pieces. "Random Notes" by the editor, Edward Le Brocq, looks at the possible introduction of Income Tax. This was a "hot topic" of the day, rather like the introduction of GST in recent years. It is hard to believe that Jersey could function without Income Tax, but it did, although not well if you were poor or sick or elderly; compulsory schooling had been introduced at Parish Schools, but only to age 14.

As Wikipedia notes:

"The levying of impôts (duties) was in the hands of the Assembly of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats until 1921 when that body's tax raising powers were transferred to the Assembly of the States, leaving the Assembly of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats to serve simply as licensing bench for the sale of alcohol. The Income Tax Law of 1928 introducing income tax was the first law drafted entirely in English. Income tax has been levied at a flat rate of 20% for decades."

Then there are the "Answers to Correspondence" by "Uncle James". This is a strange assortment of what appears to be gossip about Islanders, some names, some probably known without needing to name. It's a kind of very Jersey equivalent of Private Eye, barbed comments, and scandalous tittle tattle, and for those "in the know", was probably great fun to read.

Having covered films in my last extract, I have here a bit from an inside page promoting dancing at West's, which was not just a cinema. Dancing was very popular, and it is interesting to note that tuition can be had in "the new dances" or "dances of previous seasons".

Victor Marlborough Silvester (1900-1978) was a popular band leader, and had published "Modern Ballroom Dancing" in 1927, the year of this Jersey Critic. It was a best seller, and was probably sold in Jersey as well as the UK. Dances of the time included the full natural turn in the slow waltz, the foxtrot and quickstep. The Guardian newspaper archive for 1927 mentions "the Charleston, and its co-agitator, the Black Bottom dance" and comments that "The new dances have generated a gust of movement as frisky and intractable as a puppy's. Impudence and pace are the most noticeable features of this season's dancing."

We can't see the dances at West's, but there is a Youtube clip which gives some idea of the different dances from the Famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom

Finally, I have included a few advertisements also on the page. I particularly like the one for brandy!

Random Notes by Edward Le Brocq

The estimates

I see that the states are meeting next week to consider the estimates. We are all wondering what the finance committee will have to tell us and especially what measures they recommend to make up the deficit which appears inevitable. The question which is agitating the minds of our wealthier people is whether the committee are likely to favour income tax or whether they would prefer the good old system of getting a little bit from here and another little bit from there.

A curious case.

In regards to income tax I came across a curious case a day or two ago which illustrates the rapacity of the income tax commissioners. An acquaintance of mine, who has lived in Jersey since the age of five, happens to earn some property on the mainland which, added to his salary he is in a government department renders him liable to income tax. In addition though he pays the Parish rate, he is compelled also to pay income tax on the annual rental derived from this Jersey house. This strikes me is iniquitous to a degree but apparently there is no remedy.

Finished it.

It is, naturally, in possible to collect income tax without being inquisitorial. And, as a rule, it's not a bit of use telling the official who sent you the form to mind his own business. What is after is your business, under the law gives him the right to enquire into the most minute particulars. But it doesn't always come off, as witness the case of an Englishman now domiciled in Jersey. He sold the house situated in London and was promptly asked what he had done with the money. "Spent it on fish and potatoes" was the reply, and that finished it.

Foot and mouth

The recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease at Netley Marsh, near Southampton, is another smack at the Jersey cattle breeder, who finds it more and more difficult to export to America. They are exceedingly particular in the USA in regards to what one calls a clean bill of health, and every fresh outbreak of foot and mouth in the South of England is made of particular note of. What strikes one is that the slaughtering policy persisted in on the mainland seems to do no good at all.

A good lead

It was interesting to read in the report as Saturday's Royal Court that St Brelade, that most conservative parish, had actually elected Constable's Officers of the name of Duffett and Leatt. This, to me, is highly significant. It is surely a sign that even at St Brelade they are recognising the fact that a man may bear an English or Irish name and still be a good Jerseyman. We have many Britishers of the right type in Jersey who would be only too glad to help in municipal affairs, and I hold that we make a big mistake in not giving them a little more encouragement to assist. Now that St Brelade has given the lead I hope other parishes will follow suit.

Answers to correspondents by Uncle James

Seaton place. Yes, Lady Maude opened your bizarre very nicely. Meanwhile, I fear that Mrs D Walker has sent the Evening Post reporter a bunch of forget-me-nots.

Imitation. I can't believe that the Finance committee are proposing to tax silk stockings for the sum received would be a mere trifle. Ah, if girls were caterpillars now, I'd see some sense in it.

Inside out. The way the player put it to me was this: "the chap was coming down with the ball and I said to myself, now what about getting a bit of my own back? I wasn't rough, mind you, but I just scattered him among the spectators". How is this for a really graphic bit of description?

Mont Mado. Yes I have heard what the young lady from St John's said to Harry Jones at the football match. Is her hair ginger?

Fruitless fan. I'm not quite sure, but I rather think that Mr Carlyle Le Gallais drove Jack of St John's back in his car immediately after the broadcasting. Your suggestion that he may have been the individual who serenaded the inhabitants from the Sorel heights in the small hours of Thursday with selections from ballads of ribald character is a gross insult to a most respectable citizen.

Enthusiast. You say that the Seigneur de Noirmont is the man we want on the Bench. You may be right, but have you ever been caught trespassing on his property? Electing Jurats is a queer business. I voted for a few candidates in my time, but I can only remember two instances when I wouldn't have been much more usefully occupied putting poison in their tea. Mr de Gruchy is doing excellent work just now, but we want to see a bit more of him. Remember that the job is a life one.

Arabella. You want to know what you should have done when the young man put his arm around your waist coming back from the bazaar. It all depends where he comes from. If he hails from the north or west you should have shrieked for the Centenier. But with a St Clement's lad you'd be perfectly safe in any circumstances. What, as a matter of fact, did you do?

At West's.

Dancing each Thursday and Saturday in the ballroom is generally recognised throughout the island by all dancers as the "rendezvous par excellence". West's even more popular during the winter season than in the summer, and the fact that the ballroom has recently been fitted with a heating plant, which renders it always cosy, despite the elemental conditions without, cannot but add greatly to the pleasure of all dancers.

The ballroom at West is, as well as the lounge, is available for all types of private functions, including Club Dinners Dances, Bridge Teas, Receptions, Parties, etc, and most reasonable terms of any of these functions will be quoted by the manager, but in all cases early applications should be made so as to ensure getting a date.

Application for Tuition in Dancing should be made with the manager, who will be pleased to arrange to suit the convenience of all anxious to learn the new dances or the new steps in the dances of the previous season.

Very old brandy.

In the case of sudden illness drop of Martell's brandy is usually effective. A good idea is always to have a bottle close at hand, not only for sickness, but your friends will appreciate it.

Shop early.

Now is the time to make up your minds what to give for Xmas presents. Huelins, the Lingerie specialists, have just the goods to choose from, as they are all of the best quality and of moderate price. There are cosy garments for all occasions, and dainty silk and crêpe-de-chine for evenings. Note the two addresses, 49 Great Union Road and also at 62 Bath Street next to F. Le Gallais and Sons.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Jersey Critic: Silent Movies, and Absurd Communication Links

From November 1927, and the "Jersey Critic".

The front cover of the magazine has a large advert for "Wests", which was well as being a cinema, also had "West's Ballroom", with dancing (and "West's unrivalled orchestra"), and a café serving morning coffee, teas or light lunches. The cinema had a matinee at 3, and was continuous in the evening from 6.30 to 11, except Sundays when there was only one showing at 8.15.

I'm old enough to remember (as a child) a cinema at a UK railway station which showed films continuously; you paid, and went in on a short film, and would see it at whatever point it reached; when it finished, you watched the first part. I don't know if West's cinema adopted that, but with relative short silent films, it is likely.

The cinema was showing silent films - "Out of the Frying Pan" featuring Fred Thomson and Silver King (a horse),, "the Second Mrs Fenway" starring Pauline Frederick - "the great emotional actress" in a film which asked "What is Woman's Real Place, The Platform or The Home", and Mary Carr and June Marlowe in "The Fourth Commandment" for which the tagline was "Which should a man choose - wife or mother?"

"The Second Mrs Fenway", also known as "Her Honor, the Governor" (1926) also starred a young actor called Boris Karloff. Running at 66 minutes, it is a film about political corruption in America. This is the plot which Jersey audiences would have seen unfold on the silent screen:

"Adele Fenway (Pauline Frederick) is Her Honor the Governor. After winning the gubernatorial election, Adele discovers that her campaign was a sham: Crooked senator Jim Dornton (Stanton Heck) intends to go on running the state as he's always done, using Adele as a mere figurehead. But she's a lot more savvy than he suspects, as she proves when she successfully blocks a bit of underhanded legislation engineered by Dornton. He, in turn, threatens to reveal that, due to a legal technicality, Adele's son Bob (Carrol Nye) is illegitimate in the eyes of the law. Infuriated, Bob rushes to Dornton's home, demanding an apology -- and the next morning, the Senator is found dead. Desperately trying to save her son from a murder conviction, Adele faces imminent impeachment, but all ends happily when the actual killer is revealed. Boris Karloff appears in a small but showy role as a dope addict."

One wonders what Jersey folk would have made of the American politics, but they would certainly have been influenced by the silent era of Hollywood, which was transmitting American culture and mores around the globe.

Perhaps more to the taste for a Jersey audience would have been "Out of the Frying Pan". This was an American silent Western starring cowboy Fred Thomson and his trusty steed Silver King. Forgotten today, he was rising in popularity and by 1927, he was making a then astounding $10,000 a week!

Turning to the notes in The Jersey Critic from the editor, Edward Le Brocq, just inside. These cover the problems which beset communications between vessels at sea and land. Le Brocq explains it very well, but it seems strange that when technology was taking off, and movies could come all the way from America, Jersey was held back from benefiting from the changes in communication.

And all this is less than a hundred years ago, showing how rapidly society has changed over that time, when communication was by telegraph, and movies were silent!

Random Notes by the editor

An Absurdity

When are the States going to move in the matter of a wireless installation? If anything more had been required to demonstrate the absolute absurdity of the actual position this was provided on Tuesday, when the incoming mail boat was delayed by fog for a matter of about nine hours. We knew she was anchored somewhere off the Corbière or Noirmont, but communication with the vessel was impossible.

Via England

The Press informed us that Captain Smith sent a wireless message during the afternoon to the effect that the "Lorina" was lying off Noirmont in a dense fog, and that unless the weather cleared, she would not come in until 2 am. This message, of course, could not come direct. It was sent by Captain Smith to the mainland and was telegraphed back to Jersey. The "Lorina", in fact, though only half a mile or so from Jersey had to communicate with the Island via England.


The position is more than absurd, it is dangerous. Had the "Lorina" struck a rock in the dense fog, we would not have known. Some other vessel might have picked up the call, but relatives and friends in the Island of Jersey would have been in blissful ignorance that a disaster was occurring. True, the "Lorina" did not strike a rock, but that is hardly the point. She might have met with an accident (they have occurred in the past) and in that case her passengers could have drowned at their leisure. We'd have been told about it afterwards.

Our Plain Course

I know perfectly well that if we haven't got a wireless installation, the blame doesn't lie entirely with the States, who, on more than one occasion have tried to come to terms with the [UK] Government. But I maintain that there is no difficulty so great that it can't be settled if the parties really mean business. Our course is quite plain. We should go on hammering away at the Government, and in the end we should get something done. While we are satisfied to take no active steps but to merely omit a growl of displeasure every now and then, the matter will remain shelved. The States should remember and profit by the story of the importunate widow.

For further reading on the films showing at Wests:
Pauline Frederick (August 12, 1883 - September 19, 1938) was an American stage and film actress.

Frederick Clifton Thomson (February 26, 1890 - December 25, 1928) was an American silent film cowboy who rivalled Tom Mix in popularity before dying at age 38 of tetanus

The Fourth Commandment

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A study of conflict resolution in the case of Ian Gorst and Rob Duhamel

 "Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, wanted the States to sack Deputy Rob Duhamel after claiming he could not work with him any more. He said he withdrew his proposition after "constructive dialogue" with Mr Duhamel meant they could find a way to work together. He said he "regretted" the way matters had escalated. Mr Gorst said earlier this month Mr Duhamel did not work well with other ministers who had "lost trust and confidence in him". But in a joint statement, the two men said they would work together to improve communication. " (1)

The resolution lacks the spectacle of a political punch-up, and let's be honest, it is pretty clear that there was a certain voyeuristic element in the impending vote of no confidence. How could it be otherwise, with a public weaned on the "Celebrity" game shows which thrive on sadism? Some of the comments I have seen suggest that the public feels cheated of the fight.

And so there has been a lot of talk lately with lurid headlines on Facebook and elsewhere of the kind that says "Gorst collapses", and the general feeling is that he decided that he could not win a vote of no confidence against the Planning Minister.

But I don't think that's the whole picture. Certainly there has been a groundswell of support for Deputy Duhamel, some of it, I understand, from within the Council of Ministers. And there has also been the feeling, expressed by Matthew Price on BBC Radio Jersey in an interview with Ian Gorst, that Senator Ozouf was given another chance, and made commitments to improved working practice, and why should the same consideration not been shown to Deputy Duhamel. I wouldn't be surprised if Deputy Gorst has taken those matters on board in reassessing the proposition.

Yet the most important part of the news has been overlooked. Senator Gorst met Deputy Duhamel. They talked together; they managed to take the heat out of the conflict, and actually issued a statement which was a constructive way forward.

The last time a Minister was "sacked" by a vote of no confidence was Senator Stuart Syvret, ousted by Senator Frank Walker. The two were at loggerheads. They would have needed some kind of referee to talk together, as it was clear there was a lot of animosity between the two. So far from politics being about issues, the distinct impression was that a lot of that conflict was a clash of personalities. It was unlikely that any common ground could be reached.

That happens a lot with political disputes. A lot of the phraseology betrays the kind of thinking behind the conflicts. One comment on Twitter asked whether Ian Gorst was "man enough to resign" if he lost the vote. This is the world of boys games, of schoolboy fights, and while these comments are being made by grown adults, they have not really left the playground that far behind.  

People prefer not to talk and sort out differences, especially men, where it is seen as a sign of weakness. "Man enough" itself is redolent of a particular kind of masculine posturing, where any compromise is seen as a sign of weakness. We don't say "woman enough". In fact, the far harder task is to step back, and talk, and defuse conflict.

It is not really a sign of weakness to negotiate for peace rather than lobby hand grenades over into the other trench. Do we really need this kind of "strong man" approach to politics in Jersey? Do we really need all the old ingrained patterns of defending, withdrawing, or attacking in the face of judgment and criticism? This is the way politics has been shaped, with blame, insults, put-downs, labels, criticisms, and comparisons - all forms of judgment which block out the ability to listen.

The "strong man" approach issues demands that implicitly or explicitly threaten the other with blame or punishment if they fail to comply. These are the patterns of control and power. Isn't it much better to really listen and negotiate instead?

Marshall Rosenberg, founder of "Non Violent Communication", commented on the psychological aspects of the desire for control that is so often toxic:

"In this type of system, only some people have the power of having their needs met, often at the expense of other people's needs not being met. Thus, this destructive mythology fuels moralistic judgments and sets the base for a domination system -expressed in a language that brings pain in relationships and violence in the world." He argues that what is needed in situations of conflict is to establish connection with other human beings.

There is a crucial difference between non-violence and passivity; the former is an act of compassion, of taking the trouble to speak and listen, whereas the latter is one of submission. Had the proposition just been withdrawn, that would have been a purely passive action, but instead, a joint statement was issued, which set forth methods to resolve future conflicts and work together better.

And language is critical in how we defuse conflicts and seek a peaceful resolution. As Rosenberg notes:

"We are unconsciously and habitually influenced by language processes that affect our choice making by distorting our perceptions. The language we use and the thoughts we have inform the kind of actions we take."

Talk of "weakness" or "cowardice" is the kind of language that can destroy any conflict resolution. It is the language which Nietzsche used to denigrate Christianity.

A non-violent approach means turning away from a mentality which sees opposition as trench warfare, and instead seeks not to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. This, Rosenberg says, means taking responsibility for our actions in increasing conflict or seeking peaceful solutions:

"Taking responsibility for ourselves diminishes the probability that we will use coercion to get our needs met or submit to others who choose it as a strategy"

If we look at part of the joint statement, we can see an admission of faults on both sides, an apology from Deputy Duhamel, an expression of regret from Ian Gorst that there was an escalation of events which led to this point, and a joint commitment to work together in a constructive manner. There is also a commitment to work towards dialogue and mutual understanding between all Ministers.

That's a statement of taking responsibility for mistakes on both sides, and moving matters forward. It's what used to be called "consensus politics", and there once was a good deal more of it in Jersey politics.

When the old committee system ended, power was concentrated in a very few individuals, and the system was almost designed for bullying, intimidation, and all those patterns of control learned in the playground.

It was not helped by two Chief Ministers who did very little to build political consensus, preferring to have the Council of Ministers consisting of a narrow range of political viewpoints. That's something that comes again from school - team games, where the captain picks their favourites. Senator Gorst made a strong effort to buck that trend and have a more diverse range within the Council of Ministers, and the conflict with Deputy Duhamel demonstrates, as their joint statement shows, that more is needed to be done for that to work.

In the meantime, at least two politicians who were at loggerheads have managed to meet and thrash out a way forward to resolve the conflicts between them. That is something commendable, and a promising start. Some people don't seem to like peacemakers, but that's the only way we are going to improve politics in Jersey.

"Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal" - Martin Luther King Jr

"Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding"
- Albert Einstein

"If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies"
- Archbishop Tutu

"I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself"
- Nelson Mandela

(2)  There are many books on Non-Violent Communication, but "Nonviolent Communciation: A Language of Life"(2003) by Marshall Rosenberg was the one recommended to me by Annie Parmeter, who introduced me to his ideas, as well as to the feminist critique of male power games.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Odds and Ends

Is it time to make Rob Duhamel a Grade Two Heritage Listing?

The 1937-built white arrivals building at Jersey Airport has been awarded a Grade Two heritage listing. But the listing is at odds with the airport authorities who have applied to demolish it. They have cited a requirement to comply with current safety standards. (1)

Rather like houses, this is another example where historic value is taking precedence over function. The whole airport has been restructured internally considerably, so I'm at a loss quite what is now being frozen in amber. But precisely what heritage function will this serve? Are there to be trips out to see the arrivals hall, pointing out its unique architecture? If it is important to retain a record of it, why not do that, by making a comprehensive photographic archive of the site?

I heard Christopher Scholfield talking this morning about its unique character, and that we should make more of it when tourists arrive, but if changes are not made, they will be stuck in fog more often because of safety, and I'm sure when they do make it to Jersey, after delays in UK airports, they will not be in much of a mood to ponder the marvels of 1937 architecture. And why did the BBC debate centre on safety in terms of "fireballs" anyway? The safety aspect means less flights possible on foggy days, which is bad for tourists and islanders alike. Safety means you don't fly; not that you fly anyway regardless!

It is a building from 1937, not something of a Victorian or Edwardian masterpiece; it was designed pretty well to be functional, as an arrivals hall. And clearly the planners who decided this would like to prioritise heritage over passenger safety. I can think of no other period in Jersey  history which has such a fixation with ossifying the past without any common sense applying.

Perhaps Jersey folk were too ready to knock down old buildings and structures in the past, as the incomplete dolmens across the Island bears witness. But churches were adapted, changed, built onto, because their function was for a congregating people to worship, and what we have today is a historical evolution. It is only today that we also realise the historical value, but if we applied today's standards to the original buildings, all we would have in each case would be 12 small squalid little chapels, probably damp, and certainly neglected in favour of larger buildings which served the function for which the original chapel was intended.

And I'm not impressed by the Heritage lobby's acting to try and prevent wheelchair access to church buildings. There was a refusal to allow wheelchair access to a Methodist church in St Martin, thankfully overturned. The founder of Christianity, if he was alive today, would have had some rather trenchant remarks to make about that refusal. I seem to remember he was not particularly impressed when his disciples marveled over the heritage aspects of the Temple in Jerusalem.

No Excuses Please

"Preparations for Jersey's Historic Abuse Inquiry are well underway, as the Committee gears up to start the public hearings in May. Committee members are interviewing lawyers in London this week in order to appoint an independent legal team to support the Inquiry."

Carrie Modral said: "Some of the information held on abuse victims such as psychiatric reports, police reports and obviously because of the data protection law they're saying they're going to have to heavily redact these documents and in fact I've been told it probably won't be worth giving half these documents across."

Data Protection Commissioner Emma Martins said they will not get in the way of the Commission.  Emma Martins said:"For the avoidance of doubt, the work of the Committee will not be fettered by the Data Protection Law - there will be nothing in the law stopping individuals from giving information to the Committee or organisations such as the police force from handing over records. "To be clear, no one will be able to claim that the Data Protection Law prohibits them from answering questions put by the Committee or to avoid handing over whatever the Committee wants to see." (2)

I was very hearted to read that quotation about Data Protection from Emma Martins as I had concerns like Carrie about Data Protection being used to block documents. The Inquiry should have access to all documents. Obviously how much of that may enter the public domain in their report might well depend on matters such as Data Protection, but they should have no restrictions whatsoever, either from Data Protection, or on some spurious legal grounds, for not having sight of all the relevant material.

Public inquiries can go several ways. They can help get at the truth, or they can become a convenient way to stifle a controversial issue. In the UK, the Hutton inquiry, which ended in emasculating the BBC, was very much seen as a whitewash, not least by Private Eye, which argued that the terms of reference and the way the inquiry followed them, could only lead to one outcome - namely, to exonerate the government and silence critics.

On the other hand, some inquiries have drawn attention to important issues which might otherwise have been neglected, such as the Scarman inquiry, which was independent and forthright in its evidenced critique of the police "stop and search", and the endemic culture of racism which existed with the force.

What Jersey needs is less Hutton, more Scarman, in how the inquiry gets to the truth, and a free reign to access all documents the inquiry deems relevant, and an independence that does not bow to any agenda.

The New Gravy Train

The new development at the Waterfront, in the original Hopkins Masterplan, was not going to cost a penny of taxpayers money, but now we have been told the development of "Block 1" will involve creation of a new underground car park to replace those lost to the office development.

The cost of that will, of course, be born by the taxpayer, as will the removal of any toxic ash or like materials from the site. The underground car park, we are told, will have the same number of spaces as before, which overlooks the question of where all the office workers are going to park.

Ever since it began, the Waterfront has leached money away from the taxpayer in one way or another, and this new development looks to be no exception. Once, the trains came along the coast not far from where the development will be, but now, for anyone getting those lucrative contracts, it will be a new gravy train, and who knows where it will end. Unlike the old railway service, the new gravy train can always be bailed out by the Treasury Minister from his seemingly bottomless contingency fund.

CCTV in Jersey

"A knife-wielding raider threatened staff at a Co-op in Jersey and demanded cash from the till. The man went into the Co-op in Val Plaisant, St Helier, at about 08:00 GMT but when told there was very little cash, "panicked" and fled, said the manager. Manager Lloyd Hotton said: "It could have been much nastier. I'm just glad no-one was hurt."(3)

The CCTV in this incident, as seen in a photo, reveals very little, showing that whatever recommendations the Scrutiny Panel comes out with, it is largely hypothetical unless better imaging is available. The clothing is patterned, but looks as if it is well-worn and may have been bought second hand; he also looks as if he is padded out to look more stocky than he actually is. Apart from the fact that we know that he is white, and what his height and shoe size are, there is very little else that can be discerned from the image.

And Finally... Placenames

I rather like the letter from Frank le Maistre in 1980 on place names, seen here. "Hands off our ancient and venerable place names", he concludes, after warning against removing the definite article.


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Parish News from St Botolph-the-Less

This is from "The Pilot" magazine of 1994. Rather like "Helier Clement" in the JEP, a fictitious vicar from a fictitious Parish appeared in its pages wearing a "persona" which was not quite like the real person (I'm not telling who it was, but the fixation on cricket should give a clue!). But this gave "Francis Ecobichon" the chance to have much fun at the clergy's expense, and also cast a wry eye over political matters and Chief Officer's salaries, without incurring the wrath of the Dean or Bishop on speaking out, as it was certainly not from any of the official Rectors!
St Botolph-the-Less
From Francis Ecobichon
My dear friends,
It was good to see and hear our beloved Bishop Colin again. I thought he was looking quite sprightly: it must be all those Winchester Cathedral Trusses the senior clergy are now wearing. I understand from a doctor friend that they can now fit completely new artificial knee-caps, and that surgeons have developed a quick drying medical cement which gives you some ten minutes to get all the scaffolding into position.
What a wonderful age we are privileged to live in. Alas, the cure for arthritic joints does not seem to have appeared yet, and I fear my days of striding over the greensward in pursuit of balls are now a thing of the past. But I did see some of the match when the Clergy and friends played the Medics recently. Sonic of the medics' team certainly looked extremely young to be qualified in medical matters; one very promising bowler who removed Advocate Will Bailhache with a ball of impeccable length looked no more than twelve.
Clearly doctors, teachers and police are getting younger. I was sad to see the Rector of Trinity moving with less agility than of yore, but delighted that my old Methodist friend Bob Delay scored a solid looking twenty-odd in his final game. I understand that he has donated his cricket boots for either (a) an unusual anti-mole device, or (b) to be part of the furniture of the newly restored Hamptonne - perhaps peeping coyly from under the nuptial bed? The clergy captain, the Growth of Grouville in Master Beal's happy phrase, got over 35, I believe, and took a wicket to everyone's immense surprise as he had previously been hit for six! The fixture will I hope be repeated, as it allowed my dear wife to get some free advice about surgical corsets. (I looked in vain for the Rector of St Clement only to be informed that he had left on the mailboat the day previously. I do hope that he has not blotted his copybook in his parish and has been put onto the aforementioned boat as a warning to other Rectors.)
In a recent JEP, I again noticed that a dozen or so weddings were apparently without "benefit of clergy." It does seem to one brought up with old traditions of courtesy that it is disrespectful to our sacred calling not  to acknowledge the priest who performed and made possible the ceremony. Why does the esteemed d paper behave so? Perhaps our Dean Substitute could fire a warning cannon shot across the newspaper's bows or, better still, across the Deputy Editor's desk.
Speaking about that bastion of accuracy and felicitous phrasing reminds me to gently chide my old relative, Helier Clement. I notice that .he was sounding off recently (perhaps after a .too hastily consumed Jersey Bean Crock supper?) that he had little time for either religion or art. I fear his dismissal from the church Sunday School many years ago for attempting to ping one Delia Fordyce's underwear elastic still rankles with him, He was in fact, caught in flagrante delecto -- and muttering uncouth 'swear words in Jersey French did not endear him to: Miss Sidebotham either.
I must, however, .give praise where praise is due and join him in expressing bewilderment about much of what is called "modern art." I had attended a sumptuous concert at the Arts Centre with Gladys. (half-an-hour late starting because of the ticket queue and only one lady on duty was surely extremely short-sighted) and in pausing to reflect on the total lack of movement in the line of distinguished music lovers, my eye was taken by a series of strange designs. They appeared to have been done by a moderately gifted child of under ten, using mainly black and, white. Certainly 'we shall not be purchasing one for our Vicarage. What the poor fellow who made those daubs was trying to say utterly escapes me - I have a feeling he was not too sure neither. Or else he had a very severe speech impediment. Gladys thinks that the artist is a frustrated cricketer who fields at backward point. She may well be correct.
Walking around Fort Regent the other day (waiting to collect some grandchildren from .the pool) I. mused over the latest States folly of the projected nine million pound hole under Fort Regent to take effluence and sea water. Why, I mused, do they not excavate on that utterly unused and unkempt piece of land by the Bay View Hotel? It appears to be land, and not rock. It is much nearer Bellozanne treatment works, and it could then be landscaped on top and look attractive. (The landscaping around Queen's Valley reservoir should surely receive some award as it is most pleasing!) I really cannot believe that drilling through and detonating Jersey granite at the Fort will not result in severe structural damage, and cause severe migraine for the many staff who work there. I must speak to our Deputy about this scandal.
Talking of scandals, I was told the other day that our recently appointed Sports and Leisure expert was departing soon, and that the salary for this not exactly arduous post was some fifty-five thousand pounds a year. Is this really true? £55,000? For doing what? A job which anyone with a modicum of intelligence could do. And is it true that our Police can retire at 50 after 25 years service? And retire on an index-linked pension? As I lifted some of my own Jersey Royals the other day, I mused on the news that the head of Produce Control in the Island earns a reputed £60,000 plus. Earns? I doubt if someone in charge of the whole of Middlesex would earn that salary for such work. Someone somewhere is certainly seeing that the public sector workers will have a long retirement, with no financial worries, except perhaps "should I invest £50,000 in that latest British Telecoms share offer?"
My musings were sadly interrupted by the mail delivery -- it contained a letter from our beloved Church Commissioners to say that my salary had dropped by £40 a month-as we had had more funerals last year at St Botolph's (with an ageing congregation this does happen). I had an inner struggle with the Tenth Commandment that. Sunday!
May I in closing wish you a happy holiday, if you are going away; remind the Editor to check our copy carefully as I wrote in last month's article mentioning Lady Oppenheimer's "lovely prose" and not "her lovely praise," and to say that I am still trying to work out what the Letter to the Editor signed by one "Mustaffa Wurd" was about. Clearly the gentleman is one of those immigrant workers from the Far East who have difficulty with the, English language. I commend. him to the Autumn Evening Class at Highlands College entitled "Learning to speak and write the Queen's English." If he cannot pay the fee, I have a Discretionary Fund that will gladly help him out.
Until then, I hope he will both drive and write Caerphilly.
Your sincere friend and Vicar,
Francois Ecobichon