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Why the Prime Minister is going to the New York climate summit  

pravinjeya:

Hmmm, this optimism before the climate change meeting does not sound promising. My prediction is that the groups who have formulated this report will be disappointed at the “unambitiousness” of the resulting agreement rather than be thankful that 196 different countries are able to talk and find some sort of agreement on anything.

Originally posted on green alliance blog:

Global deal_CoverA version of this post was first published by the New Statesman.

A new joint report from Green Alliance, WWF, Christian Aid, RSPB and Greenpeace believes we will have a global agreement on tackling climate change by the end of next year. If we do, it will be an exceptional event. Nations working together is no longer the fashionable way to deal with  problems. The UN is looked upon as indecisive, the EU is seen as technocratic and even the United Kingdom is barely living up to its name. And yet the Prime Minister has just announced he will be heading to New York later this month to meet with other world leaders to discuss getting a global. Why would he bother?

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Eurovision: a real English victory

This is slightly late for a post-Eurovision post but maybe it could be considered pre-the next one. Every year, I sit down with my family and much of Europe to watch the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 because its the one night of the year when being European turns from concept to realisation.

The United Kingdom did not do as well this year (2014) with Molly’s “Children of the Universe”, admittedly one of its better entries in the last 10 years, but it still did not get enough points to be placed on the left-hand side of the results board. This is where lots of people – not me – grumble about political voting. I would argue that political voting is not such a big problem any more, if it ever was.

The U.K. is actually one of the most successful countries to perform at Eurovision. Since 1959, it has taken part every year but most of its success has been before 1999. It won five times, came second 15 times and, before 1999, only twice did it end up outside the top 10. Still, even the points scores since 1999 contribute to its success, as it has the one of the highest cumulative scores for the contest (joint second). If you are geeky like me, you are going to love the Wikipedia pages on Eurovision.

So why has the U.K. not done so well since 1999? I would argue it is because the contest has both become more competitive and fairer. The oft-made complaint of juries and judges, in whatever context, is always going to be bias – whether its true or not. But, as with X-factor, its far more difficult to make that complaint of the public voting. Indeed the U.K. won and gained a record number of points for any particular year in 1997 when televoting was introduced.
On top of the greater number of people who can have a say through televoting, there are many more countries taking part. That increases the randomness, although this is controlled to an extent by the introduction of semi-finals. Of course, this helps with management and timekeeping. But there are five countries, including the U.K. that have never had to go through the filter of semi-final stage on account of being the biggest contributors. Is this fair? On the basis of recent results, the U.K. would probably not even qualify for the final and perhaps that’s the problem. It could also be argued that the automatic qualification of the Big Five is not fair to them either because they do not have the same level of exposure and relationship building with the audience. On the other hand, it could also be argued that the Big Five do not to have to win because they already have a more important impact. Without their contributions, Eurovision would be half the show it is.

I would argue that the big change has been the dropping of language requirement for songs to be in a country’s official language. You are most likely to like and vote for songs you understand. What is often referred to as political voting is really an example with sticking with the familiar. Now overtwo thirds of Europeans speak English, but i suspect that there has been a drive to learn English for a long time. It is not surprising that most entries at Eurovision are in English. This suggests perhaps that before 1999 the U.K. had an advantage, now it does not.

A Good Friday poem: Deathbed Conversation

Father, Father, why have you, forsaken me?
Why does it feel like you’ve walked away from me?
They’ve left me to die, hanging on this tree,
Even though they’re the guilty ones, not me.
I know  that this is the crux of your grand plan,
To reconcile yourself with sinful man,
but part of me wonders why I agreed
To go through this hell so that they may be freed
from lives that are rife with lust and greed
But it seems to be what you have decreed.
But since that’s your word, who I am to dissent?
I rest assured that this is not the end,
That though I die, I shall live again
And return to be with you in  heaven
And I shall see those who trust in me   
And trust my death will set them free.
Thus, in your court, I stand accused,
I accept your judgment for what others do,
And wait for you to rescue me 
To rule by your side in heaven for eternity. 

(C) 2014 Pravin Jeyaraj

Happy Epiphany: Coca Cola bearing gifts

A belated Happy New Year. More importantly, Happy Epiphany (today). Or, if you are an Orthodox Christian, Happy Christmas (starting today or soon).

According to the stats, my blog is multicultural.

That’s what I like about Epiphany, when the the wise men came from somewhere in the East to see and worship Jesus. From the very beginning, it reminds us that Jesus did not come for a singular culture; the Gospel isn’t a Jewish or Western thing.

The same account in the Bible also sees Mary and Joseph, with Jesus, becoming refugees fleeing persecution by the regime of the time and others being killed.

I think both of these aspects of the Christmas story speak a lot to the world as it is today. 

Oddly, only one advert has captured this paradox: Coca Cola. I have reposted an advert from 4 years ago and this year’s version as a last (or first) day of Christmas gift.

From 2010

From 2013\4

The Gospel is like a bottle of Coca  Cola: everyone can share in it, it united all.

How was your Christmas Day?

Perhaps this is a question you’ve already been asked in the post-Christmas, pre-New Year lull. What was your answer? Or maybe it’s something to look forward to when you go back to work or school. How would you answer? For me, it was exciting.

Christmas Day was not exciting because of the presents I received. That’s not to say they were not good presents and I am not thankful for them. But the last time I would describing receiving presents from other people as exciting is when I was a kid.

It was not exciting because I spent it with family. Again,that is not to say it was not good time but, as I live with my parents and see my sister and brother-in-law regularly, Christmas Day was arguably in many ways just like any other day of the year.

Indeed, for 13 years, I increasingly found myself asking what’s the point of Christmas? If Christmas Day is not special because of presents and family, why bother celebrating it? 

I became excited about Christmas seven years ago, when I became a Christian.

Presents and family are precisely what Christmas is about, not in themselves but as symbols of God’s gift to humankind to welcome us back into his family. His son, Jesus Christ, was born as a human to live as one of us, be executed for all of us and come back to life so that each of us could be forgiven of our sins and be with God for eternity.  
 
Why do you find Christmas exciting or not? Please leave your answer below.

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