26 May 2022

Watch 1000 musicians perform Foo Fighters' 'My Hero' in tribute to Taylor Hawkins


Wikipedia: "My Hero" is a song by American rock group Foo Fighters. It was released in January 1998 as the third single from their second album, The Colour and the Shape (1997). The song reached number 6 on the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Original video HERE.

Too alarmin' now to talk about
Take your pictures down and shake it out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary
Don't the best of them bleed it out
While the rest of them peter out?
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary
Kudos, my hero
Leavin' all the mess
You know my hero
The one that's on
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary

This one goes out to my dad, my hero: George Tocher.

Google claims its text-to-image AI delivers 'unprecedented photorealism'

Google has shown off an artificial intelligence system that can create images based on text input. The idea is that users can enter any descriptive text and the AI will turn that into an image. The company says the Imagen diffusion model, created by the Brain Team at Google Research, offers "an unprecedented degree of photorealism and a deep level of language understanding."

This isn't the first time we've seen AI models like this. OpenAI's DALL-E (and its successor) generated headlines as well as images because of how adeptly it can turn text into visuals. Google's version, however, tries to create more realistic images.

Like DALL-E, Imagen is not available to the public. Google doesn't think it's suitable as yet for use by the general population for a number of reasons. For one thing, text-to-image models are typically trained on large datasets that are scraped from the web and are not curated, which introduces a number of problems. 

Imagen is not (yet?) available to the public - but you can have a play! Go HERE, scroll about 60% of the way down the page to the section headed "State-of-the-art text-to-image", then select various (albeit limited) parameters to vary the image. Cool, but somewhat scary - think of the implications... Here's one I prepared earlier:

24 May 2022

Speed cameras and the law

According to government statistics, 50% of cars broke the speed limit on motorways between January and March this year. Even more worryingly, on 30 mph roads, 56% of cars broke the speed limit. 

Almost four in five (79%) drivers admit to having broken the speed limit at some point. And more than two in five (42%) have been caught doing it. 

With so much misinformation and confusion, we decided to set the record straight regarding speed cameras. We spoke to GoSafe – Wales’s road casualty reduction partnership.

Meanwhile in other news: in North Wales, road users are being warned that by warning others of mobile speed cameras they risk being fined up to £1,000. So, not at all an income generation measure then?...


23 May 2022

Reading for today: God's (re)creation in you

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.

NFU: Protect animals, crops and our homes – ban sky lanterns now

We want a safer, cleaner, greener countryside for us all to enjoy. The UK Government should bring in a total ban on sky lanterns in England and Wales without delay. 

Every year up to 200,000 sky lanterns are released in the UK. These floating flames are highly dangerous.

They can:
• Start wildfires
• Kill animals
• Destroy food growing in fields
• Set homes and buildings alight

And the litter they leave in their wake is a blight on our beautiful countryside.

The threat posed by sky lanterns is greater during the summer months. As the weather becomes warmer and drier, the risk of wildfire increases. More animals live out in the fields and could eat fallen lanterns, potentially leading to injury and even death. That’s why action is needed now. 

So far 174 councils out of 333 across England and Wales have voluntarily banned sky lanterns but this only covers the land they own. We know that the UK Government is listening and this issue is on the political agenda.

A total ban would mean that sky lanterns cannot be launched from anywhere in England and Wales. 

Germany, Austria and Brazil have already implemented a ban. It is time for us to do so, too.

Sign this petition to Jo Churchill MP, the minister with responsibility for sky lanterns, and show her you support a total ban.


20 May 2022

Watch the BRAND NEW #ThyKingdomCome2022 trailer

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray from Ascension to Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus.

Thy Kingdom Come 2022 is just days away (26th May - 5th June) and we are expectant to see what God will do during these 11 days and beyond. We have fantastic range of resources for your church including a brand new trailer for this year's campaign to share with your church & the App!

The award-winning Thy Kingdom Come app is back and is the perfect accompaniment to journey through the 11 days. This includes the main 11 videos, audio reflections from 24-7 Prayer's Lectio 365, daily Bible readings and space to pray for your five people. The App is also available in several languages including French, Portuguese, Kiswahili, Korean and Spanish. Download the App from on the App Store or Google Play.

We have a range of resources for your church service including a wonderful video message from Archbishop Justin Welby; commissioning service plans, hymns and prayers.

Tune in this Sunday, 22nd May, to watch the Thy Kingdom Come Sunday Service which will be broadcast on the Church of England's Facebook page and YouTube channel at 9am BST.

Nigeria’s Christians are under attack, but does the West care?


The scene is medieval in its horror: a woman stoned, beaten and set on fire by a mob shouting 'Allahu Akbar'. But this didn't happen hundreds of years ago: it took place a week ago in Nigeria. The victim was a Christian student named Deborah Samuel, from Sokoto in the north west of the country. Samuel's 'crime', for which she paid with her life, was to have allegedly posted a ‘blasphemous’ comment on a WhatsApp group against the prophet Mohammed.

Even in a nation riddled by decades of ethnic and religious conflict where thousands of Christians have been killed, the incident has sparked uproar. But this outrage has mostly been confined to Nigeria itself; much of the Western world turns a blind eye to the horrors unfolding in Africa.

In the last year, more Christians have been killed for their faith in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world combined. In 2021, at least 6,000 Christians died for their religion; eight in ten were Nigerians, often at the hands of jihadists. Read more...