Tuesday, 22 December 2015

100 Days of Corbyn

So a lot of (most Conservative) people keep saying that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable and ridiculous and he should step down.

May I ask, if he's unelectable, then why are you worrying? Why bother with a smear campaign if he won't win in any case? Unless you view the British electorate with such contempt as to think they are not capable of making decisions by themselves.

In fact if anything, the continuous rhetoric of how unelectable he is, the constant smears, surely show how much of a threat he actually is.

I like short blog posts...

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

"This Government makes me happier and happier." Said No Ordinary Man.

So the government is forcing more benefits changes on people. A new budget that will cut billions from those who are most needy in society. This naturally filled me with a lot of vitriol, so be prepared for a tl:dr.
Well I'm so glad that this government is going to put countless disabled and ill people through needless stress, heartache and suffering just to save a few quid. And all because, as a culture, we have decided that being disabled is a swindle to cheat the state after money.
Nobody asks to be disabled. Nobody wants to have to claim disability living allowance. It's not "for fun" or a swindle. Stop the rhetoric that it is. Just accept that people need to claim it.
You can't incentivise people into not being disabled like you can with people who are out of work through choice.
Somehow we voted for a government that actively discriminates against the disabled because it knows that they won't fight back or that if they do they won't be listened to.
I'm disabled. Like many people it is a cause of great shame and not a badge that I wear with honour - more a cross that I have to carry in a culture that kicks me to the floor more often than it helps me up. And changing the benefits that make life bearable; by putting people through unfair hoops and forcing them through bureaucratic targets, making then into statistics instead of people, this government is kicking disabled people to the floor once again.
And to add insult to injury, the Home Secretary has decided that questioning government policies is tantamount to treason. Disagreement makes one a "terrorist sympathiser".
I suppose this is hardly surprising when one considers the bed fellows but do we want to fall foul of a Saudi-Chinese system of state control and interference?
I am opposed to military action in the middle East AND to sweeping welfare reforms.
I am pro funding education, healthcare and the police.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Mass is Mass is Mass

So with university now finished and behind me, and now approaching graduation, I must return to the proverbial desert of the post-conciliar church. Now, I am very blessed in Leicester to be able to attend a celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass on a daily basis. I serve these masses and I gain a great deal from attending.

I am persistently told that "mass is mass" and I need to not have a strong preference, but I can't help but feel a strong parallel to a quote I once heard (attributed to Mrs Thatcher):

(paraphrased) "Being a woman is a lot like being powerful. If you have to tell everyone you are, you're probably not."

It's something I've never heard anyone ever having to justify with the usus antiquor masses. They are obviously what they are that there is no necessity of justification. The sacrifice is self-evident in the actions and the motions of the priest.

I am not here however to discuss the validity of the Novus Ordo sacraments. Hearing the voice of Fr. Gregory Hesse in my ear ("Canon law states that if there is any doubt as to the validity you must assume it is valid" - in his usual thick style, glass of wine in one hand, biretta on his head).  This is a matter of faith. One must look at the Novus Ordo sacraments with the same eyes that one looks at the traditional sacraments. Clearly a sacrament is "Ex opere operato" - being that the intent and faculties of the priest supersede the form and what is going on. This being said, if the form is particularly bad, it can certainly place a barrier on the reception of the sacrament.

But going back to my initial point, I am constantly told that it doesn't matter what form the mass is in. However if this were really true, I'd like to propose a hypothetical situation:

What if a priest was to declare that he was only going to celebrate according to the missal of 1962. Only celebrating tridentine masses, undertaking the unreformed forms of the sacraments.

Would such a situation be possible? Immediately, I can hear the complaints of 1960s born parishioners in my head. "We don't understand what the priest is saying!!" "How can I connect with the mass if I can't make eye contact with the priest?" et cetera. Well, what if the priest were to respond with the same indifference that I often hear from those who deride the traditional mass.
"Mass is mass. You're still fulfilling your sunday obligation." "If you don't like it you can go to somewhere else." "I don't believe that the church should be about x, it should be about y."

In this situation, I can only imagine that the Bishop or ordinary would intervene and convince this priest that the ordinary form of the mass is suggested as the general use and the EF be a backburner.
Yet, what of those of us who hold the traditional faith? Are our needs not important?

I can think of two problems, two things that need to be rectified. And they sort of correlate to one another so please bear with me if I seem to be repeating myself. The first is the nomenclature. The use of the phrasing of "Extra-ordinary form" implies that this is a form reserved only for special circumstances. It could almost be considered to be off putting. This is a social problem generated by a failure of understanding of what is truly meant by extraordinary. Extra ordinary being outside the ordinary form, which is what it is. However because of this naming, it is often pushed to the back and is not made generally available. Which leads to my second point. That due to it being not made available, many grow ignorant of it. They seem to lump it into the same category as the sale of indulgences, and stern nuns beating children. Something we should move on from. The reality, as anyone who regularly attends the Traditional Mass will tell you, is far from this. That it is as relevant now as it was 50, 100, and 400 years ago.
The only way to lift this veil of ignorance is to expose people to it. To show people (cf. 1-John 3:18) love is better than to just talk of it. 

So the crux of what I'm trying to get at here is that in order for more to access the traditional Mass, more must attend it. It must also be more widely available. This idea of it being a niche product is nonsense. If it is truly just a mass, then why is it not gracing every parish across the country? Priests should just put them into their calendars in the same way that masses celebrated in Polish, Italian or Malayalum are? Or is there something more sinister at work here? I pray not.

Novus Ordo Mass celebrated at Holy Cross Priory (This is not an EF mass)

Monday, 20 April 2015

I tried to be an atheist once...

I tried, desperately, when I was aged between 19 and 21 to be an atheist. No religion for me, I joked. It's all a bit silly. No it makes no sense. I shall assemble my philosophy from the ramblings of youtube and the murmurings of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

But it was a poor endeavour. And I found that the more I mixed in the atheist circles, the more I realised that as much as they weren't religious, they were religious. Attending meetings where I was implored to bring the "good news" (of a lack of God) to people and arrange more meetings and more gatherings to talk of "logic" and "science" as if reason and religion were mutually exclusive. It just reminded me of the days of my catechism as a Roman Catholic. I could hear the words of Irena (my cathechist) coming from the mouths of these empassioned young boys who with great fervour declared that God did not exist as much as she once pressed to me that God did exist.

But I was not a good atheist. I had yearnings for more to my existence. My father pointed out to me (an atheist himself) that there was much more to life than just the chemicals and physics and mathematics of the universe. In atheism, there is nought but materialism. No Aristolean reason that matter is possessed of substance and nature. No, what it is it is and cannot be but. There is no reason behind that. It is not logical.

But that is an aside point. I couldn't hack it. It embued with me with a good world outlook however that people don't believe in God and why they put their faith in materialism instead. For me, it was too much like hard work. I prefer to support a good cause - making people happy, than upsetting them.

I was a terrible atheist, but I try to be a good theist. I am only a human.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Lab work, or what I did with my summer (2013)

This summer proved to be an interesting experience. For the first time, I was permitted to work in a research laboratory, doing experimental science. Not the stifled, predictable, has a correct answer work done in undergraduate laboratories but the open ended field of research science. I had agreed with Professor Andy Ellis of the University of Leicester to work in his laboratory over the summer, and the experiment was much more chemical physics, than physical chemistry. We were synthesising nanoparticles in helium nanodroplets. The first time I'd ever been able to do any such work and certainly an interesting experience. 

The door to the "office"

The helium nanodroplet experiment is an interesting area of research. The droplets themselves are cooled to a temperature of 0.37K, and hence the helium is superfluid. This means two things, the first being that molecules are free to move about inside of the droplets and also that due to the low reactivity of helium they don't form interactions with the helium nanodroplet and thus provides a fantastic way of capturing and holding particles to perform tasks like spectroscopy. This is aided by helium's transparency to most forms of radiation. An off shoot of this is the fact that the size of the droplets can be controlled and thus the size of particles within these meaning that the helium nanodroplet systems provide a novel and interesting method of synthesising nanoparticles with very tight size control.

One of the first tasks we had to do was test the oven we were using to introduce metal into the helium beam. This was done on an ultra high vacuum rig to simulate the conditions that the oven would be operating under. This also ensured that most of the water that had built up on the metal surface would be dissipated by evaporation. 

The oven in operation

The rig it was operating inside of

Eventually this was moved to the main rig. Normally, at this point I would show a picture of the main rig that was being worked on but unfortunately I couldn't find a good enough picture to show it off. It's a big piece of kit - kind of 2.5-3m long apparatus.

We produced nanoparticles fairly quickly containing aluminium. It was especially interesting to see these under a TEM however I cannot post them here as they are publication pending. Eventually we turned our attention to what we were seeing in our mass spectrum.

Now, a few years ago, some German scientists published a paper saying that aluminium atoms trapped in helium nanodroplets were separated by layers of helium and hence would not cluster together. Now, I know of work done that shows that excited electronic states of aluminium tend to the surface of the droplet and I also know of work done that shows that ground state aluminium does not. They had very limited evidence for their claim that these layers of helium existed. But one thing is certain, clusters would not be seen in the mass spectrum.

Yet, this is exactly what we saw!!!  Imagine our surprise. Even more interestingly was that these followed a near magic number progression! Even more interesting. The findings were published then in the Int. J. Mass Spectr. in 2014 and my name was on the paper!! Hopefully the first of many scientific papers in my name!!

It was a great summer and I was keen to repeat the experience again! Even if there were some ups and downs.