Onsey – you can now vote

THERE IS an election here in West Oxford this coming Thursday, the 5th of May, in West Oxford.

So far we’ve only had three communications from candidates – from Ms Muddiman (Green), from Jason Fiddaman (Tory) and from Colin Cook (Labour).

We do feel Colin should possibly have spell checked his – he is a candidate for Jericho and Osney.  But as you can see below, Colin spells Osney as Onsey and has a photo of himself outside Halfords in the Botley Road, demolished some time ago.  It is now a Waitrose shop.

Colin Cook

And Jason’s document reveals no personal information about himself – just a photo which looks like maybe he might need a) a shave and b) a better high resolution picture.

Jason Fiddaman

We’ve had nothing from the Liberal Democrats yet.  We’d like to make it clear that we are commenting on the documents from an editorial, rather than a political perspective.

Here is Lois’ Green party thingie, and here is our local Tory MP Nicola Blackwood MP, with a perfect colour picture from Conservative Central Office  showing her gift of gravitas.  Poor Jason!  

Nicola Blackwood

muddiiman

Crime wave hits Banburyshire

A WAVE OF CRIME is sweeping across a place called Banbury and it’s affecting Oxford and Bicester too.

As you can see from this story in the  Oxford Mail, criminals are receiving tough love from the authorities in what’s obviously a major crackdown at the home of the Banbury Cake.

We’re not entirely sure why Banbury residents Emma Ashburn and Marie Biston got fined more than two other folk in Bicester and in Oxford.  But, rest assured, Google, sorry BBC vans, are watching you. ♥

Tony Dennis: 15 October 1956 to 15th February 2016

Tony Dennis in the Wheatsheaf

Tony Dennis in the Wheatsheaf

 

This is the text of a tribute I made to dear Tony Dennis at his funeral on the 7th of March 2016. Later we adjourned to his local, The Wheatsheaf, in Ewell,  where we all drank to the health of his family, friends and many colleagues.

Tone the Phone beer

 

“I talked to Tony Dennis just a few days before he died. He was cheerful, optimistic, even enthusiastic about the future and had a writing project lined up that sounded full of promise. We were going to meet up in the near future, a future that he was never to see.

“I couldn’t imagine then that just three weeks later I would be standing here in front of his family, his friends and his colleagues, paying this small tribute to him and his memory.

“I first met Tony in, I think 1989, when I was editing a weekly magazine for IDG. That would be the same year I first met the very lovely Dave Evans who we’ve also lost. The three of us became the best of friends over the years at one period meeting every Monday, for many years, in one or other of our favourite pubs in Soho or Fitzrovia.

“Tony was unfailingly kind and helpful to his colleagues and would go well out of his way to make people feel comfortable and to give them useful guidance if they were new to the world of tech journalism. He was just kind.

“He was tremendously popular with his journalistic colleagues and that’s shown by the outpouring of tributes to him on social media. I know that he had a wide circle of friends outside journalism and no doubt they feel the same grief as we hacks do.

“I will miss Tony Dennis hugely but have nothing but the fondest memories of him. I’m sure that’s the way we all feel. I will never forget him.”

The Wheatsheaf, Ewell

Row breaks out at Oseney “island” lock

Furious residents in the very posh Osney Island that worried about flooding because of a hydro-electric scheme, are understood not to be assuaged by the response of the trustees to accusations.

Osney island used to be a term attributed to the area around the monastery at the end of Mill Street, described in a saucy tale by Chaucer.  But, suddenly, in the early 1900s, the original island became “new Oseney”, even though “New Oseney” is really old Osney. Both areas, in general, used to be places rented to the “working class”.

Prices in the new Osney, that is to say Osney Island, are beyond the dreams of most people. Even in the old Osney, that is to say in Mill Street and environmens, they would give most people an attack of the heebie-jeebies.

David Hammond, who describes himself as an Osney Island resident, hit out at accusations that the hydro scheme could cause flooding.

In a document seen by Volesoft, Hammond said: “Dear All,

“I think it is a shame that this helpful Island communication link is being used to circulate misinformation about the Island’s Hydro scheme.

“These are the facts.

“There is no danger whatsoever that the Hydro will cause flooding. Everything is totally within the control of the EA, certainly not with “shareholders or do gooders”. In fact the Hydro has the potential to assist matters in the event of a flood. Sometime [we expect this summer] the new Radial Gate will become fully automated & so directly communicating with the Hydro.

“To be specific about last Thursday’s shutdown of the Hydro. The Hydro group were meeting at 9.00pm to discuss removing debris from the trash screen, and noticed the generator had shut down at 7.30pm. Several of us immediately went down to the lock to investigate. Ray was called but said he was off duty and gave us a Teddington number to phone. After a number of phone calls Ray’s boss managed to persuade him to alter the radial gate to normalise river levels. However AT NO TIME WAS THERE ANY RISK OF FLOODING. The EA is fully aware of what is happening to river levels at all times. On Friday the Hydro consultant rectified a minor software problem.

“The bigger picture is that when Osney Sustainable Island Group [OSIG] started this venture, nearly 15 years ago and long before Osney Mill turbine was even thought about, the Island was canvassed to find out what support there would be for a local Hydro scheme. The Group received an overwhelming mandate to proceed. However the Group needed to receive the EA’s agreement and support at every step of the way, and together with the required Planning approval, capital investment and a lot of volunteer input, things of necessity have moved quite slowly.

“We are only too aware that the site looks unfinished at the moment. Due to the unusually dry summer the Hydro has not been able to run and therefore generate the income as expected – up untill now. Now there has been some rain the Hydro is generating on average 40kw; it has reached over 32,000kWh in the last 5 weeks, and is providing an income of around £300/day through the FIT. However in the short term Osney Lock Hydro still need to raise a little more capital to complete the scheme so that it is fully landscaped and open to the public with interactive information panel. [And it would be nice to catch the graffiti vandals before that happens!]

“As a final point we would welcome anyone who is interested in helping us clear the trash screen to keep the Hydro running at full capacity. At the moment we have a small working party but would be very grateful for any offers of additional help.”

Hammond added in his communication to osneyislandresidents@gmail.com: “I think it is a shame that this helpful Island communication link is being used to circulate misinformation about the Island’s Hydro scheme.”

Earlier, other Osney Island residents complained. One resident said: “I think the EA have made a dreadful mistake in allowing the hydro experiment, however well meaning it was intended to be. The hydro below Osney Mill was already established and working fairly well. The land between the island and the lock has never looked worse. The weirs that it has displaced were effective controls to the river’s flow.

“As to the building itself? Words fail me. Ski lift?
Will it’s output heat a kettle for the workers in the EA yard where the output is now directed?

“I have enjoyed boating on the Thames for about 40 years. I dare to suggest that I understand it a little. Oh for the Thames Conservatory, how they are missed! J”.

Ray who manages the Lock, could not be contacted at press time.

The BBC won’t talk about religion

THE UK is becoming increasingly secular and culturally diverse, but the BBC continues to pursue a mostly Christian agendum.  Every morning, BBC Radio 4 starts with a prayer for the day, and during the Today programme, there’s a religious slot at about 12 minutes to eight called Thought for the Day.  The speakers are usually Christian clergy, although every so often, a Sikh, a Muslim or a Hindu or a Jew gets the slot.  There’s never an atheist, an agnostic and we haven’t heard a pagan yet.

Sundays are particularly tedious with a programme on religion between 7:10AM and a religious service kicking in on Radio 4 at 8:10 AM, forcing me to switch to the BBC World Service.

I decided to make use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to see if BBC management could shed any light on the matter.  My request was declined because the BBC appears to believe that religious content is exempt from the FOI Act because it’s journalism, art or literature.

Here’s the text of its reply, below. 

————————————–>

Dear Mr Magee,
Freedom of Information request – RFI20151825

Thank you for your request to the BBC of 1st November 2015 seeking the following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000: ‘Every Sunday, BBC Radio 4 seems to fill the airwaves with religious broadcasts, mostly of the Christian persuasion. I would like to ask the BBC why it feels the need to do this, specifically as this country is increasingly secularist and hardly anyone goes to the church on Sunday, if they even believe in the church. Is this a function of the BBC charter? And what’s the justification for doing thought for the day on BBC Radio 4 Today every weekday without including atheistic and agnostic ideas?  Thirdly, who picks the clergy to deliver thought for the day?’

The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you and will not be doing so on this occasion. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”.

The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.1 The limited application of the Act to public service broadcasters was to protect freedom of expression and the rights of the media under Article 10 European Convention on Human Rights 1 For more information about how the Act applies to the BBC please see the enclosure which follows this letter. Please note that this guidance is not intended to be a comprehensive legal interpretation of how the Act applies to the BBC.

(“ECHR”). The BBC, as a media organisation, is under a duty to impart information and ideas on all matters of public interest and the importance of this function has been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights. Maintaining our editorial independence is a crucial factor in enabling the media to fulfil this function.

That said, the BBC makes a huge range of information available about our programmes and content on bbc.co.uk. We also proactively publish information covered by the Act on our publication scheme and regularly handle requests for information under the Act.

Appeal Rights
The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act. If you disagree with our decision you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. Contact details are: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF telephone 01625 545 700. http://www.ico.org.uk Please note that should the Information Commissioner’s Office decide that the Act does cover this information, exemptions under the Act might then apply.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Burns Head of Group Operations BBC Radio

Review: The Hindus, Wendy Doniger

KhajurahoI recently re-read Wendy Doninger’s very thick tome called The Hindus. This was and is a very controversial book which attracted much opprobrium from the Hindus on the far right of the spectrum. The far right Hindus don’t hesitate to heap misfortunes on Western academics that comment on Hinduism, including throwing rotten eggs at the woman. Which is pretty much infra dig.

Doniger’s colleague, for example, David Gordon White, attracted quite a degree of opprobrium with his book, the Kiss of the Yogini – which actually I think is not really a very good book at all. It’s salacious and builds on works translated moons ago – for example the Kaulajnananirnaya

You know, as an independent journalist doing an honest review, I feel that Doniger’s The Hindus is weighty enough to act as a doorstop if the door needs one. Her views on the tantra are controversial because she only seems to reference the very discredited Mahanirvanatantra, composed by so-called reforming Bangla Hindus. That chapter wasn’t the best she could have done, considering her rather excellent translation of the Kamasutra, which, as she points out in The Hindus, has fuck all to do with tantra..

No. I have a serious problem with Doniger’s The Hindus which goes far beyond her ideas and the ideas others have about her.

She has apparently an obsession which I’ve decided to call “bracketisation”. Her book is very readable but just as you’re getting into another page, you discover she is addicted to the very famous brackets, that is to say ( this and that).

I am going to quantify this by using the tried and time tested method of entering one of her pages at random.

On page 117, Doniger has a total of five sets of brackets in an otherwise very readable chapter about the Vedas. She’s lucky I chose that page because some pages are so packed with sets of brackets and maybe she doesn’t understand that brackets slow you down. Maybe she had never been to Constantinople, which is a very long word. Can you spell it? Yes, all in all, a very provocative and stimulating book but marred by the disease of bracketisation.

Which can be fixed. By a good editor.

Oxford cops sting 952 people speeding at 20MPH plus

Dr Helen SainsburyA freedom of information (FOI) request to the Thames Valley Police has revealed the cops are taking the twenty miles per hour speed limit very seriously, in Oxford .

The police told Volesoft that in the last year 952 people had had  on the spot fines.

They were issued with penalties, which have to be paid on the spot.

The Thames Valley Police, in its reply said it had no figures relating to people it had warned could have speeded beyond 20 miles per hour.

You can read the Thames Valley Police response here – and of course you can always watch inspector Morse, Lewis and the rest.