Rain, Rain, Go Away

There is really only one news story today. The Shire is surrounded by disaster areas. While we are not as badly affected here, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire have seen the worst flooding in at least 150 years – and it’s getting worse. The River Severn hasn’t just breached its banks. In places it is five or six times wider than it was last week.

Over 150,000 of homes are without water because the water treatment plant has been flooded. An electrical substation has been shut down, cutting off power to 43,000 homes. The military has been called in stop another substation from flooding, as it would cut off as many as a further 500,000 homes.

The eastern part of the the Shire has been similarly affected, with a pumping station flooded and water cut off since midday yesterday. There is more water coming down the Wye and the rain continues. The worst affected may be the soft fruit farmers, with the polytunnels flooded it could ruin the late summer crops. Parts of Hooterville that have never flooded in living memory have been covered with water. Even though we live much closer to the river, we have not been affected so far.

No Forwarding Address

I seem to have a lot of emails that have just disappeared into the ether between the earth and the moon (a location frequently referenced by my Evidence professor in law school).

I bought some genuine web hosting a couple of days ago (not for this blog, but for some other stuff) and decided to point my holford.org.uk domain at it to restore the old HolfordWeb site. Bad move. When I changed name servers, I lost the MX records where the domain is hosted here. This is bad because the web hosting can’t provide mail service just by me changing name servers on a domain.

So I brought the domain back over and pointed it back to this blog (go ahead, try it) and confirmed all of the mail forwarding. Now sending test emails they don’t kick back as errors, but neither do they forward through. I tried to ring my domain host, but they have been shut for two days because of the flooding, as they are located next to the River Severn.

So I’m stuck in email limbo. The only good thing is that I have been getting a lot less spam.

Giant Role Model

Ever-perceptive, the Grit explains why Homer Simpson is a better fertility symbol than the Cerne Abbas Giant, despite the fact that Pagans are upset Homer has moved in next door.

That’s Entertainment

I don’t live anywhere near London, but I’ve found a political race I can really enjoy. Boris Johnson is running for mayor of the captial city.

London has only had a mayor since 2000 (not to be confused with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, a ceremonial office held by one of the aldermen of the Square Mile), a position held since that time by Ken Livingstone. Red Ken, as he is affectionately known due to his extremely leftist views, is still the mayor despite his promise to only serve one term. Of course that was after he went back on his promise that he would not run if he wasn’t chosen as the official Labour candidate.

Ken has a reputation for shooting off his mouth and getting himself into hot water. He compared a Jewish reporter working for the Evening Standard to a concentration camp guard and then said the paper was “a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots.” When the US Embassy refused to pay the London Congestion Charge because it is a tax and not a charge for a service, he called the US Ambassador a “chiselling little crook.” He invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi to London to speak on schoolgirls wearing the hijab, despite al-Qaradawi’s support for suicide bombers in Palestine.  The list goes on and on, really.

Boris has the larger-than-life personality that can take on Ken. He’s a Tory front-bench spokesman, former magazine editor, columnist for the Daily Telegraph, popular TV personality, and extremely prone to gaffes.  As the Wikipedia article about him accurately describes, “Johnson has an image as a self deprecating, straw-haired eccentric, disorganised and scatty (he once explained the lateness of his work by claiming that, “Dark forces dragged me away from the keyboard, swirling forces of irresistible intensity and power”).”

He’s had two high-profile extra-marital affairs (in the aftermath of the first one, he was locked out of his house in front of reporters), called the Papua New Guineans cannibals, said Liverpudlians have a “deeply unattractive psyche”, and said Portsmouth is “one of the most depressed towns in Southern England, a place that is arguably too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs”.  Despite all this and more, he is a very popular character. It is just very difficult not to like Boris.

Yes, if there is anyone who can go toe to toe with Ken Livingstone, it is Boris Johnson. It will be fun to watch.

Five-Minute Education and Five-Day Indoctrination

Any hopes that a Brown Government would stop fiddling with the education system have quickly been deflated. It just gets crazier. Perhaps its down the new departments – with the higher education and adult education split off from schools, the schools minister needs to find things to do with his extra time. So how many ways can he make a bad thing worse?

From yesterday’s Daily Telegraph:

Secondary school pupils will be taught in lessons lasting just five minutes under a radical shake-up of the curriculum that introduces a raft of subjects including Mandarin Chinese and lessons on debt management, it was announced yesterday.

Schools are being encouraged to tear up their timetables and introduce new ways of teaching such as quick bursts of mental arithmetic or spelling and topic-based teaching lasting up to a week. There will be an emphasis on British identity, citizenship and challenges facing the world, such as global warming.

That’s right – five minute lessons. Though still a stretch for the attention span of some, I have to wonder how this will work. So it takes five minutes for them to get to a lesson on the other side of school, five minutes to get them settled, then – oops, lesson over – five minutes to get to the next lesson.

So we have five minutes of mental arithmetic, a bit of Mandarin, and a week of global warming. Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts?

We did a topic-based week last month while the Year 10s were on work experience. In line with the spirit of the age, it was on the environment with enough carbon footprints and anthropogenic global warming to make Al Gore proud. With 2/5 of the school out and only three years of timetable to tear up, it was incredibly difficult, taking hours of cross departmental planning. And that was just for one week.

But that’s what the Government wants. It is much easier to indoctrinate children to a particular agenda if the entire school is tell them the same thing at the same time.

The positive thing about all this is that the Celtic Fringe should be spared. Because Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have a lot of control over their own education systems, it will probably only apply to England.

Rotherwas Ribbon E-Petition

If you are a UK citizen or resident, you can sign the 10 Downing Street E-Petition to save the Rotherwas Ribbon.

Go on then!

Summer Saturday

It was starting to look a lot like there would be no summer in Britain this year. The last time I was out on a bright and sunny Saturday, I was watching parachutists jump onto the fields outside Sainte-Mère-Église at the beginning of June.

I enjoy going to the city centre on sunny summer Saturdays. We used to always eat sandwiches out in front of Marks and Spencer until Subway arrived and then that became a tradition for awhile. Today we ate at Subway again.

In WH Smith I found the sequel to the book I’m reading. I almost bought it since I haven’t been able to find it at Tesco, but I decided to look on Amazon. I can get the hardcover for £5.15 (including postage) or the paperback for £5.14. That’s nearly £2 cheaper than in the store and I don’t have to go back into town to get it.

After we got back from visiting friends in a nearby village, and the kids had their dinner, bath, and were off to bed, I sat outside in the waning sunlight to read more of my book. I looked up from time to time to see over the river to the cathedral, where the scaffolding has finally been removed. The newly cleaned spires on the four corners of the tower glowed in the evening light. Groups of teenagers sat on the playing fields and a dad was kicking the ball around with a couple of boys who would be too old for that sort of thing too soon.

There are worse places in the world.

I tried not to look at the chain linked fencing that cuts across the ancient meadow, blocking off a large portion occupied on the weekdays by workmen as they prepare to destroy the beauty with unnecessary flood defences. But Asda gave them money build concrete walls and huge earthen mounds to push the water downstream into the houses that have never flooded before and that’s what they are going to do. This is probably the last summer I’ll have the view that came with my mortgage.

Summer or not, being Britain after sunset, the chill in the air got me before the light faded. I found my bookmark and put Northern Virginia in the summer of 1862 on hold. Now that I’ve made a cheesecake (from a box, of course) and I’m waiting for that to set, I’ll get back to the story.

I’ll pick up from the line: “I’ll stay sober, sir, I promise,” for he had a whore to bury and general to see.

One day I’ll write stuff like that.