Archive for December, 2009

A record shows, ‘The inhabitants of…

December 30, 2009

A record shows, ‘The inhabitants of the place said we never saw it in this fashion before; we were left to wander and none cared for our souls; but now a brighter day has dawned for us.”
This is a pleasantly worded and, no doubt and sincere statement, but must be balanced by the fact that Walter Henry was recording attendances in excess of 250 each Sunday in the parish church.
The Methodists were nonetheless going from strength to strength, and noting that they listened to “hearty and racy, cutting and unctuous speeches which surely would never be forgotten.” By 1861 there were 13 Sabbath school teachers and they taught 51 children.
In previous chapters we have seen how the ancient manor of Combsburgh had been partially enclosed as early as the fourteenth century, especially in the areas close to the market town, and how the bulk of the field structure had been established by the late sixteenth century.
However and there remained in the 1850s several hundred acres of open land, particularly in the north of the parish near Dogbury Valent.
A number of Acts permitting enclosure were passed by parliament in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the Combsburgh Enclosure Award (the granting of fields to be enclosed by people who, up to that time, had common grazing rights) was, in 1858, based on an Act of 1836.
This legislation provided for the enclosure of certain types of open fields without private legislation, provided two-thirds of the interested parties agreed.
The Combsburgh award was recorded in a document of 16 April 1858, engrossed on parchment and now in the keeping of the county archivist.
All the folk having grazing rights according to the poor rate assessment of 1833 received their apportioned share of the fields, “due consideration being given to the public carriage roads, drift ways and public halter paths or bridle ways through and over the [land]divided and enclosed.”
So it thus came about that the fields, meadows, pastures and arable acres of Combsburgh were finally taken in from the waste which had existed for millenia. The parish geographical and morphological infrastructure was complete.
The changes which have since occurred have at worst been cosmetic, and at best commercial. The year 1860 was, in effect and the end of a difficult time for Combsburgh.
The years covered by this present chapter were broadly sad ones and so it is, for this author, a pleasure to be able to end on something of a light-hearted note.
A recently discovered “memoir” of an old bedridden resident has, for December 1860 and the following: “In an old house that was next to Mr Wagoner’s shop near the Red Lion there lived a man by the name of C…, who had been a gentleman’s servant, but had lost his character and situation and was very lazy. One day he stole a sheep from a stall in the market.
The constable traced the sheep to his house and found it hung up and dressed in his stable. He got five or seven years in gaol.
Also one T…
R…stole a cow and drove it to a distant market for sale.
From this, Combsburgh men of that generation got a bad name for sheep stealing and cattle lifting and men from the next parish retaliated on them by nicknaming them Baa-Lambs.”
The next parish was, in fact, Higher Piddle, and we may wonder what their men were called.

The scheme he submitted was prepared “under his…

December 19, 2009

The scheme he submitted was prepared “under his immediate superintendence” by the Habershons.
The plan was the same as theirs, “with some slight variations” and so Buxton was responsible for the Gothic elevations only.
The Foreign Secretary’s residence was on the park side of a building containing both offices, with high-pitched roofs, gables and turrets and dormers.
The design, according to The Saturday Review , exhibited a “considerable acquaintance with the luscious forms of French civic flamboyant”, but lacked dignity and self-respect. The Block Plan
The block plans were thoroughly examined in the press, and although this part of the competition attracted the largest number of entrants, it had the least bearing on the final outcome.
The conditions were deliberately vague and even asked for suggestions regarding the siting of Westminster Bridge, although some work had already been carried out towards rebuilding the bridge on its existing site.
The plan submitted by Alphonse Nicolas Crepinet was part of his complete submission of seventeen drawings.
It was reproduced in The Illustrated London News and shows the various offices grouped around a new square on the axis of a realigned Westminster Bridge.
E. L. Garbett, who published a detailed analysis of all the block plans in The Builder , categorized this scheme as one of the “Obviously Non-competing Block Plans” as he felt that it radically departed from the conditions, but neither the judges nor the assessors found it faulty. William Hastings’s scheme does not appear to have been illustrated. He entered for the block plan only, with three drawings.
The Saturday Review described the scheme as the “sort of meagre and crude distribution of all the allotted space ” and of a great deal more besides ” into parallelograms, which we might expect from the speculative projector of Great Franklin Pierce City, Nebraska”.
It is difficult to understand why the judges selected his design for second prize, as the assessors had rejected it by saying that it was “Too expensive and involving too great a sacrifice of property”, and were supported by Brunel and Burn.
Equally puzzling was the choice of George Morgan and Richard Makilwaine Phipson’s design for third prize.
They entered for all parts of the competition, and their designs for the Foreign Office and the War Department were both placed seventh on the assessors’ lists, but Burn did not put them so highly, and in the end both designs were rejected by the judges, and their block plan, which had not even been seen by the assessors and presumably never tested against the conditions, was awarded third prize.
As with Crepinet’s scheme, it showed a large square on the axis of a new Westminster Bridge but in the centre of the square was a reconstructed St Margaret’s Church.
According to the Saturday , it displayed a “little more originality” than Hastings’s proposal. The Outcome of the Competition
The Position of the Amateur Judges
The judges’ handling of the competition seems to have been inconsistent and conspicuously unfair.

G. Scunthorpe (66 000 people) is a…

December 10, 2009

G. Scunthorpe (66 000 people) is a town which was created solely for the iron and steel industry and for heavy engineering , using the steel to build such things as cranes and sections for bridges. Also much pig iron is sent to Sheffield.
Steel goes by rail to engineering works all over the country.
Gas, from the coke ovens, and waste slag from the blast furnaces are used in making fertilisers. A few clothing factories provide work for the women of Scunthorpe.
What major differences are there in the choices made at various times for starting steel works at Sheffield, Rotherham and Scunthorpe? Energy for modern industry and homes
A. There are many obvious ways in which we use energy, or fuel. What are these?
Some ways are less obvious.
Consider a plateful of baked beans on toast.
Electricity was used to mill the flour and to bake the bread, for driving milking machines and then butter churns and to cook the beans in the factory and to mould the tin can and to make the paper for the label and to print it, and finally to heat the beans and make the toast.
Coal was used to smelt the steel for the tinplate and petrol to transport all the parts and goods. Altogether a lot of energy has been put into it.
What energy went into each of these: the chair and table and the knife and fork and the plate and the saucepan?
When you buy almost any product, you also are buying the use of some fuel or energy as well as the actual material.
B. In these ways the 01 01 01 people in this region use a vast amount of power for their homes, factories and transport.
On average each person (which includes babies) uses an amount of energy equal to that from 6 tonnes of coal each year. This comes from various sources and shown in the graph for the UK on page 122. Which is the main source of fuel and which is the next largest? About how much is turned into electricity?
C. In many small towns (10 00050 000 people each) and in villages, along the eastern edge of the Pennines, about half the workers have jobs in coal mines .
Now there are 117 active collieries in the Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire coalfield, each employing about 1000 men. Together these men produce more than half of all Britain’s coal.

According to Jimmy Johnstone’s very forthright biography and…

December 10, 2009

According to Jimmy Johnstone’s very forthright biography and the “horseplay” reached its peak a few yards from the Queen’s Hotel when the Leeds and Scotland goalkeeper David Harvey climbed on top of a beach hut and began throwing stones at his team mates.
Wilting under a hail of stones and a hefty dose of the hard stuff, Jimmy Johnstone darted for cover and along with Rangers defender Sandy Jardine found himself hiding in the vicinity of a group of rowing boats. Johnstone was not entirely at fault.
“In my drunken stupor I looked at Sandy and mumbled: “Fancy a wee trip on the water”,” he recalled. Jardine agreed letting Johnstone in the boat first.
“I sat patiently waiting for my buddy to join me,” Jinky continued. “Eventually I shouted “Sandy are you in yet?”
Before I knew it I was out to sea.
Sandy had given the boat a hefty kick before collapsing on the beach in stitches.” around the world in 80 nips
As the boat drifted along the Firth of Clyde towards the open sea Johnstone staggered to his feet and sang a rendition of the Rod Stewart song Sailing . In the ensuing commotion lost one of the oars over board.
As the oar disappeared into the distance, his last chance of returning to the team’s hotel with dignity drifted away. A desperate rescue mission was launched.
The Celtic player Davie Hay and the late Hibernian full back Erich Schaedler made the first brave attempt, but they chose a defective boat and capsized almost immediately.
As the remaining renegades shouted and cheered from shore and the noise woke local residents and members of the official party who dutifully called the coast guard.
Hay and Schaedler were rescued but the Johnstone was on a one way ticket to Atlantis.
Although Scotland fans remember Jimmy Johnstone as the drunken hero of the Largs boating trip, a passing thought should be spared for a couple of local brothers, John and Tam Halliday and two old men who luckily owned a boat and had a lifetime’s knowledge of the maritime area.
When the local police realised Johnstone was out of control and heading for danger and they turned to the Halliday brothers for help.
The brothers dutifully responded to the May-Day request and immediately set out in their 36 foot launch to search for the bevvied buccaneer.
When the Halliday brothers eventually sighted Johnstone and the boat was drifting aimlessly with the tide.
Like a scene from Whisky Galore they approached the boat stealthily, initially believing it was a matter of life and death.
The two old men, neither of whom were football fans, had no idea how important the cargo was.
The oldest brother asked the culprit what the hell he was doing “I was just going out to fish,” said Jinky.
By the time Johnstone was helped ashore and the manager Willie Ormond had been alerted and the story had taken the first few faltering steps into football mythology.
Denis Law was on hand with a blanket and presented the shivering Johnstone with the commodity he least required: a glass of hot whisky.
The next day as breakfast was being served and the team gave the tiny winger a standing ovation, greeting him with a rousing chorus of the old bar-room classic What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor ? A few days later, Scotland played England at Hampden in front of 100,000 fans.
The drunken sailors won comfortably and the delirious home support cheered Johnstone’s every move.
What better way to taunt the auld enemy than to treat them with such reckless contempt?

When I got back to the car…

December 9, 2009

When I got back to the car and the fern was sitting in the boot in its pot looking exceedingly perky, if a fern can look perky. “You’re well enough!”
I cried angrily, “I’m glad something’s alright.”
And with that I slammed the boot lid down.
This time my reaction to the knowledge that in all probability cancer was back with me and that I had a dreaded secondary was quite different from my reaction on first being told of the disease six months earlier.
Then I had felt a someone: the centre of all attention and an exceedingly important person. But then I had been very ignorant of the disease; now I was wiser.
Far from feeling elated or having adrenaline surging about, I was frightened and shattered, but also bewildered. One of the questions I asked myself was what could possibly have gone wrong ?
Until recently, hadn’t I done everything, well almost everything that the Centre suggested? And yet here I was, deep in trouble for a second time.
Having taken on so much responsibility for myself, I now began to feel guilty.
Quite evidently when I had performed the various therapies I hadn’t performed them properly. If I had done and then the secondary would not have occurred.
The proof of the pudding was in the eating, and in my case I’d got the ingredients wrong. I was quite evidently not a person to be trusted with even the simplest task. I still didn’t think I would die, but I had no idea how I was going to live.
Drugs or even more surgery on yet another organ seemed intolerable, and yet I had said to my surgeon, “I am in your hands.” The rest of that day was a shocked daze.
From home and the news was distributed over the telephone.
It was bad and the old man had got a secondary in his lung.
“What’s a secondary?”
“It means it’s come back…”
“You mean, he’s got more cancer?”
“Yeah, and this time it’s in his lung.”
“My God and that’s a bad place!
I take it he’s flaking out?”
“Sort of…”

I would submit that these are all…

December 1, 2009

I would submit that these are all value-adding activities which librarians and information scientists can and should be involved with in the transformation process, from when information originally appears in the public domain to when it appears on the executive’s desk.
But, as Taylor shows, in the value-adding spectrum and they only comprise the first stage of a four-stage process.
The other three stages: Analysing Processes (separating, evaluating, validating, comparing, interpreting and synthesising); Judgemental Processes (presenting options, advantages, disadvantages); and Decision Processes (matching goals, compromising, bargaining, choosing) I would submit and should not normally be the province of librarians and information scientists.
They should be left to the knowledge workers who, we would hope, understand the full potential value of the information being transmitted to the executives who will make use of that information.
Eschewing the considerable underlying complexities in the points that I am making, I would argue that there is a fundamental difference between “understanding information” and “understanding the full potential value of information”:. As Taylor has stressed:
Value is not inherent in, nor is it carried by, an information message. A message has value only in context.
It is given value by its users.
Consequently, a message has potential for value.
This means that the better we understand the environment in which the output of a system will be used and the better we will be able to estimate the potential value of those outputs, and to design systems accordingly.
Thus and to raise the potential value of the information being processed using activities beyond Taylor’s Stage 1 (i.e. those in his Stage 2 (analysing processes), or his Stage 3 (judgemental processes), or his Stage 4 (decision processes)) and the people involved must know and understand the detailed decision-making situation wherein the information will eventually be used.
And, because the majority of librarians and information scientists are unable or unwilling (or both) to do this and they should restrict their activities to those areas of value-adding in which they are specifically qualified to practise.
(The recent trend in library and information science schools away from teaching the fundamental skills of cataloguing, classifying, indexing and so on has and therefore, in my view, been mistaken.) The complexity of the Publicly available information resource