Thursday, July 24, 2014

Commonwealth Games - Glasgow 2014 – Part 2







Yesterday evening there was a fantastic opening to the Commonwealth Games. I found the presentation original, colourful and highly entertaining. The thematic scenery featured images of Glasgow and Scotland, and the music, singing and dancing had a Scottish flavour. Everything was vibrant. There was an enormous screen along one side of the stadium that was used to good effect to project realistic and beautiful abstract images.

There were two, interlocking themes: Welcome to Glasgow, and Put Children First. The latter was focussed on children in need within the Commonwealth. Instead of being forgotten at the bottom of the pile, they were to be put first by raising money for them through an instant appeal to TV viewers all over the world. Viewers at home and spectators at the stadium were encouraged to donate £5 by texting ‘FIRST’ to 70333. This was to be an instant, coordinated attempt at raising millions of pounds for improving the lot of poor and vulnerable children. The whole fundraising project was organised in conjunction with UNICEF. At the present time 3.1 million pounds have been raised.

The Queen and Prince Philip arrived in style in their sumptuous Rolls Royce. Amid tumultuous applause they proceeded to the royal enclosure with Prince Imran of Malaysia, President of the Games. It was his task to deliver an introductory speech before the official opening of the Games by the Queen. After an accomplished and eloquent delivery, he tried to prise the lid from the Queen’s baton to remove a copy of the Her Majesty’s speech that had travelled within the baton to 71 competing nations. At first the lid would not budge. Sir Chris Hoy gave a hand, but to no effect; finally, to the cheers and relief of all, the lid was opened by the Prince and the scroll was passed to the Queen.

I had expected to be bored with the long parade of competitors, but they were dressed in national costumes or distinctive attires, and they showed their joy and pride as they paraded before the assembly. Instead of being bored I was fascinated by the jubilations. At the end of the ceremony there was an extremely noisy, colourful and lively firework display to provide a fitting ending to the evening.

P.S. I am disappointed to discover that there will be no rowing or sailing at these Games. They are not designated as ‘core’ sports; therefore they can only be included at the discretion of a host city.

Links

Commonwealth Games Federation


UNICEF


Glasgow Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony


Queen was 'delighted' by tricky puzzle posed by Commonwealth Games baton


Commonwealth Games 2014: Glasgow is first winner with opening ceremony

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Commonwealth Games – Glasgow 2014





At 09.00 this evening, the Queen will open the 20th Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Scotland will host this 11 day festival of sport in which approximately 6,500 athletes from 71 nations will compete in 17 sports for medals to be awarded to individuals and for team events.

There are thirteen venues where the games will be held. Hampton Park, famous as a football stadium, has been adapted for track and field events. This was no mean feat, because a new surface had to be built 1.9 metres above the ground.   Other venues include Tollcross International Swimming Centre, Glasgow National Hockey Centre and Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre. Strathclyde Country Park, which is 14 miles from the centre of Glasgow, will be the location for the triathlon. The Royal Commonwealth Pool, at Edinburgh, 45 miles to the east of Glasgow, will be used for diving events.

Uniquely different to the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games are known as the ‘Friendly Games’. Friendly because participants represent member nations of the Commonwealth, all of which recognise the Queen as Head.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Games on TV. Of particular interest will be the rowing and sailing events.

Links

Commonwealth Games


The Commonwealth


Commonwealth of Nations


The Queen’s Baton Relay

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Celebratory Two Thousandth Edition – a Dedication








This is the two thousandth edition of Bill’s Log. I’m celebrating the occasion by dedicating today’s article to my long suffering wife who may see herself as a Blogger’s widow.

The biblical definition of ‘long suffering’ is ‘patient’, and indeed, she is very patient. She has many wonderful attributes. One that gives me great pleasure is her ability to cook and decorate all manner of cakes for family and friends. She is a perfectionist who is only satisfied with the best. I’ve known her to put cakes aside because of the smallest blemish, but I’ve usually ensured that discarded cakes didn’t end up in the bin. Mostly they tasted pretty good to me.

In times past she has undertaken ambitious projects, even a wedding cake with the most elaborate icing decorations. These days, she makes cup cakes and pop cakes which are less demanding for her to do. These edible mouth-watering jewels of creative confectionary miraculously appear on the table at Christmas, Easter and when there are birthdays.

Cup cakes are the grandchildren’s favourites. I have a penchant for them too. If they are left where they can be seen and touched, they mysteriously disappear. For this reason, as soon as they are made, they are packed into special plastic containers where they remain until the appointed time. Finally they are displayed on stands or set out on trays or dishes where they become the centrepiece and focal point of the table.

So, thank your wife. You gladden our hearts and your cakes bring us delight.
Thank your readers for sticking with me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cost of Knowing the Time






Knowing the time can come at a price, but not for Crocodile Dundee who looks at the sun and tells the time for absolutely nothing. By this means he can do it accurately to within a second of Australian Eastern Standard Time. Of course, he lives with crocs in the mangrove swamps of Oz where the sun shines all the time. I live in the concrete jungle of Essex where the sun occasionally shines, but even I can tell the time for next to nothing by looking at my Lorus Sports V 501-X22 wristwatch. This quartz cheapie cost only a few pounds, ten or so years ago, and a packet of LR 626 batteries I bought eighteen months ago cost a few pence. They will keep the watch going for the next 40 years! Even now, twenty LR 626 batteries can be had at Amazon UK for just £1.47.

Not so long ago I was at Lakeside where there are a number of shops selling wristwatches, and I was astonished to see that a Breitling watch can set you back £9,500. No doubt, part of the cost is for paying David Beckham to pose for photos of him wearing their watches. TAGHeuer watches are cheaper, in the region of £6,000. Presumably Leonardo DiCaprio, whom the latter use on their advertising material, is cheaper to hire than Beckham.

Of course, most people today can know the time accurately by consulting their mobile phones at no extra cost.

Links

Brietling Watches


TAGHeuer Watches


Time Stops


Leonardo DiCaprio


Leonardo DiCaprio - Official Site


David Beckham – Official Site


David Beckham


‘Crocodile Dundee’


How Quartz Watches Work


Australian Standard Time


Watch Batteries at Amazon

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Time and Again



This is my one thousand, nine hundred and ninety eighth posting to ‘Bill’s Log’. Two more, will bring the grand total to two thousand.  The drafting of a single article can take anything from half-an-hour to six hours, on average about two. If I become really immersed in a subject, my ramblings, research and re-drafting can result in me spending more time. Time is a requirement, and as it happens, I have penned and published four articles on the subject of time; which would suggest that somewhere in my psyche, time is important.

By comparison with other words in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, time has a longer description. If you check the links below you can see how vast the subject is. Searching for answers to the question, “What is time?” will reveal a multitude of ideas and suggestions.

Time is both subjective and objective; for example,  if I’m a prisoner ‘doing time’ in jail, days and nights can seem awfully long, but if I’m enjoying  my honeymoon at an exotic location, days and nights can feel very short indeed. If I’m World Champion sprint runner Usain Bolt, and I’ve been beaten by Justin Gatlin at the Diamond League meeting in Rome by one-hundredth of a second, over one hundred metres, I’m not at all pleased, but I have to accept the fact that I was not the fastest.

Time is valuable and it should not be wasted. As I wait at traffic lights I bewail the loss. One particular traffic light between my home and Southend causes me a lot of grief. Sometimes the queue before the lights can stretch for a quarter of a mile. Time spent there waiting can be up to six minutes with only a dozen cars passing at a time. Time and again, this has happened. You’re getting the picture. If I were to do the calculation, I guess I would have spent weeks, not days sat in my car at that spot - thankfully, much of the time was in the company of my wife.

Yesterday, my Bible study was focussed on Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes, the opening sentence of which, states, ‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven’, and it goes on to list experiential times and moments we humans might have in our lifetimes. These are times of joy, times of sadness; times for building, times for embracing, times for silence, times for war and times for peace.
There is much wisdom in this book which ends with the words:

‘Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,

For this is man’s all.

For God will bring every work into judgement,

Including every secret thing,

Whether good or evil.’

CAVEAT: There will be no time to change a single thing. 

Links

Time


Thinking Time and Working Time


More Time


Quality Time


New Year 2013 (An article about time)


Time


Is Time and Illusion?


The Peak Time for Everything


Time Regained!


TimeTicker.com


What is Time? One Physicist Hunts for the Ultimate Theory


The Official US Time


Greenwich Meantime (GMT)


A Brief History of Time Measurement


Ten Methods of Measuring Time


Measuring Time – Anderson Institute


Usain Bolt beaten by Justin Gatlin in 100m at Diamond League

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Iraqi Christians Face Death



I heard the alarming news that Christians were fleeing Mosul after a declaration from ISIS militants that unless they converted to Islam or paid a tax, they could only expect the sword. Before the 9.00 am (BST) deadline today, thousands left Mosul for nearby Kurdistan which claims autonomy from Iraq and the newly declared ISIS Islamic State.

According the United Nations, other minority groups are being persecuted by these ISIS jihadist militants, namely Chaldeans, Assyrians, Mandeans, Yazidis, Shabaks and Shiite Turkmen.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-styled leader of ISIS, has no qualms about his militia killing, kidnapping and threatening ethnic minorities. His ambition is to expand territory recently gained by a sweeping invasion across northern Iraq and into northern Syria. He has declared the area under his control a 'caliphate', i.e., an Islamic state. Furthermore, he has urged all followers of Islam to swear allegiance to him as their leader. His ambition is to gain control of large swathes of land in the Middle East, North Africa, and western Asia - even into Europe, the Balkans, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain.

In an effort to establish credence with followers of Islam, Abu Bakr al-Bahdadi has renamed himself Caliph Ibrahim, the name of Prophet Muhammad’s son. He probably sees himself as the Prophet’s modern day successor administering strict Sharia law.
 
Links

ISIS Forces Last Iraqi Christians to Flee Mosul 


Thousands of Iraqi Christians pour out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis gave them deadline to convert, pay or face death

Islamist takeover may mean ‘death knell’ for Iraq’s Christians

Islamic extremists kill 270 in attack on gas field in central Syria, report says


Iraq crisis: UN condemns 'war crimes' as another town falls to Isis 


Sharia

Friday, July 18, 2014

Suffering



As I write, the House of Lords are debating Lord Falconer’s proposed ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ that would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal substance to terminally ill people who want to die and who in the opinion of two doctors have no more than six months to live. Patients would self-administer the lethal agent. Those seeking death within the remit of the law must demonstrably be of sound mind for sanctioning their decision. The proposed Bill raises controversial issues such as measures to assure that vulnerable patients will not be placed under pressure to terminate their lives. Baroness Grey-Thompson, the high profile disability campaigner and paralympian said it was a ‘chilling prospect’, but the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, backs the Bill, after considering the case of Tony Nicklinson who had locked-in syndrome, but could not end his life to curtail his suffering.

Whatever the ins and outs of this debate, the reality of long term suffering begs the question asked by many people, “Why does God allow suffering?” I doubt there is a bigger stumbling block that comes between unbelievers and God than this one. “Why should a God of love even dream of creating a world in which there is so much suffering?”

Much suffering is of our own making. Inherently we are self-centred and self-willed. We seek power, wealth and to satisfy our desires. We are essentially depraved, i.e., immoral, wicked and corrupt, but none of us will own up. Because of our actions we inflict pain on others, sometimes physical and often mental. Yesterday, a Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine causing the loss of life to all onboard. The pain and misery that event brings to relatives and friends is unimaginable. Wherever we look in the world there is strife - all because of our depravity.

Not all suffering is as a result of our direct actions, but there is what we term, ‘natural disasters’; sometimes referred to as ‘acts of God’. As inhabitants of the earth we have shirked our responsibilities and we have pillaged the earth’s resources; we have damaged the eco-structure: forests have been destroyed, seas polluted and countless billions of carbon particles have been pumped into the atmosphere. We therefore have partial blame for what happens within the sphere of nature on a cataclysmic scale, even contributing to forces leading to hurricanes, unprecedented rainfall and droughts.

God is not aloof in these matters. He knows more than any of us what is going on. Indeed, He is Sovereign of the Universe, since He made it. He sustains it as it is, and He will bring all things to an end. Why? - For His own loving purposes. He wants to share His love with us. He wants us to have a share in His heavenly kingdom. We can have shares in that kingdom right now by kneeling before Him and confessing our depravity and renouncing our past ways with genuine sorrow for our hurt to our friends, family and those with whom we have contact, but most of all for our failure to love God and accept His rule over our lives.

God sent His beloved Son into the world to show us His love. No one has suffered more than the Son of God. He died a horrendous death on a cross and suffered beyond measure; physically, mentally and spiritually, all because He loves us. Without taking on such suffering He could not have paid the price of forgiveness for all of our transgressions, i.e., our lack of reverence to God who created us, and our hurt to others and us.

Such an understanding puts pain and suffering into a different perspective. Without pain and suffering we would not know truly what it is like to be without them, nor would we be able to truly appreciate life without them. This life can seem an eternity for one who is in continual pain and there seems little solace for the sufferer, except that one day it will come to an end. Those who suffer are not alone, because those who love them also suffer since they ‘feel’ for the one they love.

On a day of the Lord’s choosing an end will come when all will be judged for what they have done, said and thought. Without the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus there would be no one who is able to stand before the Supreme Judge and say, “I am not guilty. I am spotless before You because of what Your Son Jesus has done for me. I stand before You in His righteousness. I thank you Lord, for your love and forgiveness.”

After that day of judgement, for believers there will be no more pain, only love and peace with God, but for those who reject the Son of God who suffered death on a cross and rose to life again, God’s wrath remains on them.

‘He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does no believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.’ (John 3:36)

Links

Assisted dying law would lessen suffering says Falconer


Assisted-dying Legislation in the UK


Assisted dying: what’s at stake in the Lords debate?


Tanni Grey-Thompson: Assisted dying 'a dangerous path'


Bible Gateway