June 28, 2003

Pause in the Action

Sorry I haven't posted anything for the last few days. First it was this *loody *logger migration. Then three letter on my key*oard decided stop working. As you have prolly figured out, one of them is the letter than comes *etween "a" and "c" in the alpha*et. This has also hampered me from finishing the promised Meandering. The other letters not working are at the end of the alpha*et, one either side of the letter "y".

Since I am addicted to the "natural" key*oard, I'm holding out for one. They retail for £50 and the cheapest internet deal is £30, so I opted to get one off of that auction site that I can't type, and it rhymes with e-pay. It should get here Monday.

Posted by david at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2003

Intended to Blog Today

It's another one of those days where the blog started turning into a Meandering, so I'm left with nothing to say for now. I hope to have a link for you tomorrow. Hurry back!

Posted by david at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2003

Alternative to Tony Martin

While have always offered my unwavering support for Norfolk farmer Tony Martin who stopped a burglar in his house with his shotgun, given the idiocy of the British legal system, perhaps he should have taken the approach of Derrick Winterbottom from Llanynghenedl in North Wales.

The 51-year-old Winterbottom struggled with the intruder 20 years his junior. Nicholas Jones tried to get away, but Winterbottom chased him outside, pulled down his trousers and yanked off his shoes. He then threatened Jones to keep him in place long enough to retrieve tape from the garage. Jones was then bound with the tape and made to kneel trouserless in front of the house until the police arrived.

Unlike Martin, Winterbottom was commended for his actions by the judge in the burglary case. He is to receive a £200 reward. In the meantime, the Norfolk hero Tony Martin languishes in prison for a few more weeks.

Posted by david at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

Agricultural Emissions Up Close Today

Today we took Aidie to the farm park at Cwmbran. We had taken him a while back, but he was less mobile then and spent most of the time in the pram. This time, it was hard enough keeping him on his reins. He tried to climb in with the baby guinea pigs and little ducklings. He chased the chickens. He was interested in the two white male bunnies that were segregated from the rest of the population, but they seemed more interested in each other in a rather perverted way. It was a bit of an unpleasant sight.

In the dairy animal barn, it took a while, but he got the courage to feed the sheep and goats. You would think they hadn't had a meal in days. Anytime someone walked next to their pens, they all crammed up next to the fence, forcing each other out of the way for the chance at green pellets. They would head-butt, climb up the railing, anything to get an avantageous position.

They were all supposed to be in their pens, but a little goat trotted up on his own and followed us up and down the barn like a puppy. He climbed up on each of us, looking for a little attention. I contacted staff thinking the kid needed to be re-penned, but I was assured that sometimes they get out and this is no cause for alarm. Eventually the kid had a friend, but the new goat wasn't as extroverted. He wasn't as interested in Aidie grabbing and hugging him.

On the way out, we made one last trip to the rooms with the guinea pigs. I had never seen pre-weaned cavies. They were tiny and really funny. Perhaps when we get piggies again, we will get a breeding pair.

Posted by david at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2003

The Problem of Agricultural Emissions

New Zealand is a rather rural place. Not a lot of industry other than the occasional film crew shooting an epic fantasy. But being the green, left-leaning country that it is, it wants to be sure to meet its committments to combat global warming under the Kyoto agreement.

Apparently one of the most serious threats to the enviroment is the animal kingdom itself. It is reported that 15% of the world's methane is produced by ruminants. Those are animals that chew cud. The principal offenders are cows and sheep. If there is anything they have in New Zealand is cows and especially sheep. They produce 90% of the country's methane.

To fund research into reducing farm farting, the New Zealand government is proposing a flatulence tax on farmers. They expect to raise NZ$8.4 million a year. The Kiwi dollar is worth even less than the Canadian dollar or roughly the equivalent of Monopoly money, so this is only about US$4.9 million (£2.9 million). It is nonetheless a burden on farmers, who will be forced to pay NZ$300 for ever 500 head of cattle or 3,000 sheep, while everyone will benefit for the cleaner air.

I've gotten wind that Mrs Holford is proposing a similar tax around here.

Posted by david at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

How to Fight Like a Welshman

I have mentioned before that this is a very pugilistic society. Where Americans might settle disputes at a distance with the aid of a small firearm, Brits prefer hand-to-hand combat. Of the two, I would have to say that the UK is the more violent country. Near Mrs Holford's hometown last night, a man had his nose bitten off in an attack. I am unable to comprehend what possesses a man (other than demons) to bite off the nose of another man. The closest thing I have seen to this is when Mike Tyson (speaking of someone undeniably possessed by demons) bit of Evander Holyfield's ear in the boxing ring.

The BBC reports that police collected the victim's nose and delivered it to the hospital where he was being treated. Man and nose then had to be transferred to Swansea to be rejoined. I feel sorry for the man. I feel sorry for anyone who has to go the Swansea.

Posted by david at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

Great Sermon Audio Files

I have found a wonderful resource in another parish under the patronage of St Anthony the Great. The San Diego parish of that name is pastored by Fr Jon Braun. A significant number of his sermons are available on the website in Flash format. This is the first time I have seen audio files in Flash. The advantage is that there is no loading time, even connected at 56K. Because this is one of the Sundays when our community doesn't meet and we didn't get up in time to get to Shrewsbury (thanks to Aidie's wakefulness throughout most of the wee hours), Mrs Holford and I enjoyed one of Fr John sermons during Aidie's much -needed nap this afternoon.

Posted by david at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2003

Truth and Consequences

According to the Anglican bishop of Worcester, any bishops who oppose the consecration of Dr Jeffrey John as suffrigan bishop of Reading are inciting people violenltly attack gays and vitually doing the same thing by expressing their views. Peter Selby said, “I think what they are are bishops who are intelligent, conscientious, respectful people and because of that I find it very difficult to imagine they are doing something that actually supports outrageous and violent behaviour by other people. And although they would not go out on a Saturday night with a broken bottle and attack a gay person, and would be appalled if anybody did, the problem is that the instrument they are using, which is a pen, is very powerful to achieve a similar end.” He added: “There is no question that people use what they hear from religious people, especially conservative religious pronouncements, in support of behaviour that people who made those announcements would deplore."

I wasn't aware that thugs attacking gays with broken bottles look to conservative Anglican bishops for their inspiration. At least he doesn't believe that these bishops would actually go out an do the same thing. He just can't believe such nice intelligent people would support such violence by going so far as actually do what bishops are supposed to do, proclaim the Truth that has been given to us and has been held by the Church throughout the ages.

The BBC reported tonight that two secretly gay bishops had already been consecrated in the Anglican church. It also reported that 25% of Anglican clergy are gay. Neither of these things surprises me. Dr John is just the first bishop-elect to admit that he is gay, living with his partner, and determined to continue to do so.

It was also reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury is very determined to consecrate Dr John. I hope he does. Those things being done in secret should be shown openly. I also hope that the Anglican Primate of Nigeria holds good to his threat to break communion with Canterbury. The whole thing needs to break apart. The wheat needs to be separated from the chaff, so that the chaff can be burned in the fire. You know the one -- where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

I have no doubt that when the break occurs, England will see the same situation as has occurred in the US. The orthodox Anglican Primates of the developing countries will have to send in missionary bishops, just as they have in creating the Anglican Mission in America. I also anticipate that this will have the same effect that introduction of purported ordination of women did, driving conservative Anglicans into the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Posted by david at 10:07 PM | Comments (1)

Homemade Vestments

I frequently serve in the altar at our church. I don't do a very good job, but I suppose two extra fumbling hands are better than none. I have been using a server's vestment that was originally intended to fit our priest's young son. The first time I put it on, it was clear that it wasn't exactly my size. Due to those fairly predicatable growth spurts over the past couple of years, it isn't exactly Samuel's size either. He is as tall as I am now, though not nearly as big around the middle.

Our community priced the purchase of a new one at about £200. This seemed like a awful lot of money for a rather simple garment. Mrs Holford realised that with her burgeoning skills at the sewing machine, she might be able to do the same thing just a bit cheaper. She looked for days trying to find a pattern on the Internet. All she found were people selling vestments. At the prices they were charging, it was clear they wouldn't want the patterns to go public. She finally found what appears to be the only pattern book on the market.

She has just taken my measurements for a mock-up garment. Having never done this before, it is better to have a trial run with 99p/metre fabric before shelling out many times that for the shiny stuff. If this goes well, she is considering developing a subsidiary Holford Country Crafts. Any suggestions for a name?

Posted by david at 08:17 PM | Comments (6)


I have only just now figured out that I can post multiple times each day without having the day stuck to each post. I don't know why I didn't test this sooner. Now you have a chance to comment on each individual item!

Posted by david at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2003


Today we participated in that venerable British institution known as PYO – pick your own. It is summer and time for fresh fruit. We were hoping to pick some raspberries but they aren’t in yet. We did pick about 1 ¾ kilos of strawberries. Last year at this time, Aidie was too young to participate. We had to push him in his pram from row to row. This year, he was more than eager to help.

He has bit of difficulty grasping the concept of only picking the red ones. Unfortunately, a significant number of strawberries will never live to ripeness as they were taken before their time. Of the red ones, he didn’t eat too many right on the spot.

At dinner, Aidan immediately took to fresh strawberries and cream, even though Mrs Holford made a point of buy single cream instead of double cream. I’m not sure what the point of that was, since this just means twice as much is required in the bowl.

By the way, Sainbury’s Single Cream comes with a health warning. You’re thinking something like, “Extremely fattening: may cause heart attacks”? No. It says “Allergy Warning: contains milk”.

Posted by david at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2003

Discarding Superfluous Babies

Britain’s first designer baby has been born. The Jamie Whitaker was genetically engineered to be an exact genetic match to harvest stem cells for treating his older brother Charlie. The procedure had to be done in the US, because it was banned in the UK on ethical grounds. That something in the UK is banned on ethical grounds has to be a tip off that it is pretty bad.

This form of genetic engineering does not require manipulating genes. It’s really pretty simple. It is just a matter of creating a bunch of babies and then killing off all but the one deemed to be the best match. Eight of Jamie and Charlie’s siblings were killed.

What really struck me was what their father said on TV. He responded to criticism of the procedure by saying that no one should judge whether it is right or wrong unless they have been in his situation. How often have I heard this? It is situational ethics made to tug the heartstrings. It’s saying that when the going gets tough, the truth gets going.

I have no problem with donating the stem cells from one child the help a sibling. It doesn’t not justify killing, though.

Sweet Politically Correct Home

From my parents today, we received the video of Sweet Home Alabama starring Reece Witherspoon. Holford and Holford give it two thumbs up. The film portrays the redneck Southerners in a humorous and at least somewhat positive light, particularly when compared to New York City.

It was more than predictable that the soundtrack would include the eponymous Lynyrd Skynyrd hit. It is featured at least twice, including the segue from the last scene to the closing titles, performed by Jewel. Both times it is edited to avoid any political incorrectness. They got by with the second verse, since it would have been difficult to have played any significant part of the song without it. It would take someone with a bit of music history knowledge to understand the criticism of Neil Young.

The third verse is a different story. I suppose no one wanted to catch the sort of flack Trent Lott did when he said something nice about Strom Thurmond. Better not sound favourable toward George Wallace:

In Birmingham they love the governor
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

In its place, Jewel threw in a bridge about everybody getting along. Seems like a subtle move to undermine the actual theme of the song. Of course, since Jewel was born in Utah, raised in Alaska, and settled in California, she really couldn’t understand the song anyhow. But after all, all they really wanted was the chorus to fit in with the film.

Posted by david at 09:54 PM | Comments (1)

June 18, 2003

The Bad and the Mad

Well, I thought Aidie was a handful. At least he hasn’t be disqualified from driving, like a 10-year-old who has committed driving offences on three separate occasions. He received his first driving ban last year. Last month he took the car again, but only got out into the road as he reversed into another car. This month he was at it again.

He isn’t even eligible for a driver’s license for another eight years, yet he has already been convicted of driving while disqualified, as well as aggravated vehicle taking and driving without insurance.

Joyriding isn’t the only evidence of his problems. He also admitted stealing a bicycle and possessing equipment for theft.

More Anti-social Behaviour

If he doesn’t change his ways he could end up like the man who smashed over forty store windows in the centre of Cardiff. He did an estimated £75,000 worth of damage to 23 businesses using a shovel. He was dressed only in his underpants.

He is being held by police while a bed is being found in a psychiatric hospital.

Speaking of crazy people in Cardiff...

What is the Welsh Assembly doing with all it’s power? Recently it ordered the Powys County Council to prosecute Dot Humphreys. Why? She has refused to remove a collection of garden gnomes outside her café five miles north of Machynlleth. The gnomes have been there for five years. Somehow the Assembly decided that the gnomes were a distraction to motorists and a hazard to pedestrians, even though there has never been an accident in the area.

The prosecution was brought and the magistrates decided in favour of Mrs Humphreys. They even went out and looked at the gnomes themselves. The Welsh Assembly wasn’t happy. They decided to appeal against the decision. Now, £27,000 of taxpayers’ money later, they have realised that their appeal didn’t stand a chance and have withdrawn it.

I’m not so sure that Cardiff is ready to be a centre of political power. My opinion hasn’t stopped them from spending millions and millions of pounds on a new Assembly building. Estimates of the actual cost vary. The official estimate is £47 million, but thanks to the Millennium Dome, we know how accurate Labour is when it comes to guessing the costs of building projects. The official estimate started at £12 million, and the finance minister admits that she doesn’t know what the final costs will be. The Conservative Leader of the Assembly estimates it at £100. This may be, in fact, a conservative estimate.

This is a building that was supposed to be complete in the spring of 2001. It was later put back to this year, and now the official guess is that it will open in the autumn of 2005.

Posted by david at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2003

Today in Parenting 101

Living with a toddler is the most exhausting thing I've ever done. Okay, admittedly I have never gone out of my way to find exhausting things to do, but nonetheless, Aidan is a handful.

Today, we feared he was going to get a black eye. I don't know how many 17-month-olds get black eyes, not to mention in a self-inflicted manner. While we were in the supermarket, he demanded to hold a can of beans. This is not unusual. He generally demands to hold whatever is the first item retrieved from the shelves. Today it was Tesco Vinaigrette mixed bean salad. Being the active boy that he is, he was swinging it around and around, from side to side, up and down, and then whap! he beaned himself in the eye. Given his vast experience with canned goods -- particularly in removing them from the cabinets and caryying them about the house -- I was particularly surprised at this move. At the time of the incident in question, it appeared that there would be some swelling. However, any evidence of his self-inflicted wound soon disappeared.

Our new phase is knocking. It started with knocking on doors. If one of the internal doors in the house is closed, he uses this opportunity to knock, even if he can just reach up and open it. When we go outside, the first thing he does is race across the hall and knock on our neighbour's door. Fortunately, this has only once been loud enough for them to answer it.

Now he is using knocking as a way to get attention. If I am attending to something other than giving him my undivided attention, he will come up and knock on my arm. Or if I happen to be resting from a particularly long stint of undivided attention, he will knock on my chest or stomach or head. I have been afraid that when he goes to baby group that other parents might mis-interpret his intentions if he knocks on their little youngsters with his closed fist. He already didn't like him going around and hugging everyone.

We are still working on vocabulary at a heightened pace. My favourite new word is "beverage." How many toddlers do you know that can only say "dink, dink". Aidie doesn't ask for a dink. He clearly knows what he saying, because when we are eating dinner, I will often say "Do you want a beverage with that?" and he picks it up from his tray for a swig.

We've made advancements in the area of beverage containers. Sippy cups are okay for walking around the house for that drink on demand. However, at the table we have moved on to regular open-topped glasses. Well, plastic glasses. And there are the constant reminders to use both hands and the occasional spills when the reminders don't come in time.

That's today's briefing from Parenting 101.

Posted by david at 10:52 PM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2003

Many thanks to Fr Pat

Many thanks to Fr Pat Reardon for bringing my attention to two great pieces on Hillary and her book. These are definitely worth clicking over and having a look. On is from Ann Coulter and the other from Matt Labash.

Being on this side of the Atlantic, sometimes I miss out on important milestones, even though I try to keep up with the American media. I have only now learned of David Brinkley's passing. Both George Will and Cal Thomas have produced very fine eulogies.

Back on this side of the Atlantic, the quote of the day comes from BBC Political Editor Andrew Marr, after explaining on the Ten O'Clock News that cabinet reshuffles are supposed to be finely choreographed, likened the present situation to "Swan Lake performed by elephants".

Posted by david at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2003

More on the Ridiculous Reshuffle

I missed blogging yesterday because after spending the day with Mrs Holford manning her stall at the Craft Fair in Abergavenny, and after she spent much of the evening looking for patterns online, I finally had a chance to write and the modem died. Late this afternoon (after Liturgy and the mid-year parish meeting) I got another from PC World and finally got it to work. I can’t use it with Windows XP, so I’m still limping along on my old hard drive and 98.

Holford Country Creations has gotten off to a slow start. That’s Mrs Holford’s new enterprise. She’s producing quilted wall hangings, embroidered pillows, smelly hot pads and coasters, and similar items with a handcrafted Americana look. Abergavenny was her first outing and it was plagued with extremely good weather, which kept people out of the Market Hall and out of town generally. Several of the veteran hucksters of this monthly event noted that it was the quietest day they had seen.

It’s time for reassessing which products will work best and at what prices. She is very good at this sort of stuff and the whole project has a lot of potential. Look for her website, hopefully sooner than later.

Descending into Chaos

Tony Blair’s reshuffle of his Government continues to be farce. He’s created a new post of Children’s Minister. He’s appointed the MP for Barking, which is appropriate because she barking mad. She’s the loony lefty who used to be leader of the Islington council, one of the local government boroughs of North London.

While Margaret Hodge was leader, Islington had quite a record when it comes to children. Newspaper reports indicate that at least 26 children were sexually abused while in the care of the council. “As far as services for children are concerned, we failed. I accept responsibility.” That’s what she said at the time.

Why did they fail? They were too busy focusing on other very vital issues. And official inquiry noted that the children’s department of Islington council was “paralysed by equal opportunity and race issues”. These including a ban on singing “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” in nursery schools because of its racist overtones. And as the Shadow Education Secretary (the person in the Opposition who has responsibility for following Government policy in that department) said, “We can only hope her views have matured since she launched a booklet discussing a ban on skipping ropes, musical chairs and GCSE grades below C.”

The only good thing about this appointment is that she is no longer universities minister. Universities have accepted lower and lower and lower achievement at the secondary level as a prerequisite for admission. As a result, they are producing a worse and worse product out the other end.

Great Scot!

You know things are crazy when the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) wants to distance itself from the annual commemoration of the Battle of Bannockburn. The SNP Transport spokesman thinks it’s time to move on and get past the victory over the English 689 years ago next Tuesday.

I think that the Scots no longer have a need to celebrate that victory over the English when Tony Blair has handed them an even greater one, without even the need for bloodshed. The Scots have taken over English government.

The head of the English judiciary and legal system is Charlie Falconer, the new Lord Chancellor. He appoints all the judges in England and Wales – not Scotland, which has a completely separate judicial and legal system. In charge of health care in England is John Reid, yet Scottish health policy is controlled from Edinburgh with its own health minister. The same goes for Transport, where Alistair Darling is responsible for dealing with all the problems public and private means of getting from place to place. But only south of the border. Scottish Transport is the responsibility of a minister in the Scottish Executive. And where does Edinburgh get its lump sum of English money to spend as it chooses? From the man who holds the purse strings for all the UK, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. A Scot, of course.

With all this, who needs to celebrate Bannockburn?

Posted by david at 10:16 PM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2003

Meandering as Promised

As promised, today there is a new Mental Meandering.

Yesterday's constitutional changes were confused by more changes today. The Government dismantles everything - read all about it.

Posted by david at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2003


I've been taken away from blogging today by a discussion in which I am participating on Doxos and by today's massive constitutional changes announced by the Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson (PMOS). The latter was going to be a blog, but has turned into a Meandering, hopefully available for you tomorrow.

In the meantime, have a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

Posted by david at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2003


Some extraordinary statistics were released by the Parliamentary Health Select Committee.

There has been an alarming rise in sexually transmitted diseases in the UK. One in ten sexual active young women in England is infected with Chlamydia. 42% of them are under the age of 20. Many of these women won’t have to worry about going on the pill, getting abortions, or helping to replenish the ever-decreasing European population. Chlamydia often causes infertility.

The rates of syphilis have gone up by 500% in the last six years. Gonorrhoea rates have doubles over the same period. Figures for 2002 will show 6,600 new cases of AIDS diagnosed, which is the biggest single increase ever. Of the cases reported in 2001, 56% were acquired through heterosexual sex.

And who is to blame? According to one Liberal Democrat member of the committee, “People are dying through ignorance and the Government must take a large part of the blame.” So it is the Government’s fault. It appears to me that most of these instances as caused by sin. Yes, innocent people get venereal disease, but they usually get it because the person they got it from got it from some place they shouldn’t have been.

The only blame the Government has in the promotion of “safe sex”. The Government has been putting out the message that sex is great, everyone should get as much as they can from wherever they can, so have a good time, but put a raincoat on your willy. Sexually transmitted diseases are by their very nature behaviourally contracted.

Everyone one and every institution may be saying that your behaviour is your own business and you are free to do as you please. Governments may legalise sin and promote it, but they can’t prevent its consequences.

Posted by david at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2003

Better Days

As I was doing the dishes tonight I was listening to the Corrs, one of my favourite groups, as it often my custom. And I was jamming to one of my favourite songs…

We are so young now
We are so young, so young now
And when tomorrow comes
We can do it all again

And then it hit me: no we aren’t. They may be, but I’m less than a year from 40. If I live to my life expectancy, in the word of Moses’ only Psalm, “if by reason of strength they are eighty years,” I’m a middle as middle-aged can get. I’m crippled, fat, bald, blind, and half-deaf (from all that loud music when I really was “so young, so young”). I have seen better days. “Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed.”

So I think I’ve got it bad, but then I think about the genealogy work I was doing the other night. I was spurred on by a question my father asked about his grandfather’s brother. Realising that he is the oldest heir male (i.e., person to carry the Holford surname) of his grandfather, he wonder if he was the oldest of his great-grandfather. I determined that he would appear to be the oldest heir male of his great-great-grandfather Holford. But that’s not the point of my story. I just thought you might find it interesting.

Anyhow, as I was looking at census records for 1870. I found the entry for my great-great-grandfather Holford’s family. He wasn’t listed, because he didn’t come back from the War Between the States. My great-great-grandmother was there, aged 32, having already been a widow for five or six years. Then there was my great-grandfather, 12 years old. And Uncle Don, 11 and with no idea whatsoever that he would be dead at 30. And little girls 9 and 5, the youngest born after the last time my great-great-grandmother ever saw her husband.

We have a picture of my great-great-grandmother Holford. It’s a rather well-known picture because she is so strikingly unattractive. If you saw that picture, you would think she is an old woman. A particularly ugly old woman. It was certainly taken late in life. But she died six months shy of her 50th birthday. (She died the same year as her father, who was 88.) I’m sure it had been a hard life.

She was only outlived by Uncle Don for 18 months. Aunt Mary, the little 9-year-old in 1870, would be dead two years after that, in the winter of ‘91, buried with her infant child. They are all interred in a mostly forgotten family cemetery that’s covered chest-high with weeds and briars most of the year.

I may not be so young, so young now. But I haven’t had it so bad.

Posted by david at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2003

Don't You Believe It

Hillary Clinton says she has no intentions of running for the presidency in 2008. I believe that as much as I believe Bill didn’t not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. 2008 is a long way off and in the collective Alzheimer’s of the American public, what’s she’s said today will have been long forgotten when the run-up to that campaign starts.

Right now Hillary is primarily concerned with selling a few more books, especially since no one believes the bits concerning what she knew about the scandals surrounding her husband. Even the papers here, known for their sycophantic love for Slick Willie as much as for their loathing of Curious George, don’t put any credence to Hillary’s story.

But this takes the cake: she and Bill were so close to Tony and Cherie Blair because they share the same faith. In a 1997 visit to the Prime Minister’s country home, she says they talked about “the connection between a religious faith and public service. Both of us rooted our political beliefs in our faith, which moulded our social actions”. Now admittedly she doesn’t actually come out and say that faith is Christianity.

The Blairs do actually seem to adhere to the Christian faith, except for a propensity for political prevarication. Tony is even tries to sneak up and receive the Body and Blood at Westminster Cathedral (the Catholic cathedral in London). Even the Pope had to tell him off. Strange though that he wants to receive Catholic communion, but appoints someone like Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by david at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2003

Not a Tooth in His Head

Soon Scottish Gaelic will be spoken with a funny accent. This is because soon the Gaels will have no teeth. According to a report in The Sunday Times, more than 14,000 people in the north of Scotland have been waiting more than 2 ½ years to see a dentist.

Scotland already has the worst dental health in all of Europe. Only 61% of children in the Highlands are registered with a dentist, which is far more than adults, of whom on 34% are on the books. Because dentist are usually the first to spot illnesses of the mouth and throat, the rate of oral cancer in Scotland is 22% higher than in England.

My Two Dads

Everyone knew it was going to happen sometime under this Government. Plans will be put forward by the Government this month to give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples. This will extend to tax provisions, property, and pensions. They would be the legal next of kin, including the right to make decisions regarding medical treatment and funeral arrangements. They could apply for alimony if the relationship breaks down. They would have the same immigration rights. All they have to do is have a new form of civil ceremony. In other words, a gay marriage.

This is not an example of the Government going it alone. They are just following the EU’s equal treatment directive. Being a part of Europe, this is just part of the package.

Get Them While They’re Young

The Southeast Sheffield Education Action Zone is doing its part in preparing youngsters for the possibilities of gay marriage. They are teaching 10-year-olds how to put on condoms. “I do the demo and then I tell them about the drop-in clinics available to them from the age of 11 where they can get supplies and advice,” said Charlotte Hall, who runs the programme in primary schools in Sheffield.

Other classes in the programme include lessons which ask children to “consider how different people might express their sexuality”. They have teacher-led discussions on sadomasochism, a “naughty bits bingo” game and classroom role plays of “a married man who was ‘done’ for cottaging”. (You may remember what cottaging is from Thursday’s blog.)

Posted by david at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2003


We have been experiencing a significant increase in vocabulary in the Holford house. Our favourite words are still “Papa” and “Honey” (or “Nunyee” as it comes out), but since we always tell him they are in Texas (so he will get down off the window sill), he can now say “Texas” (or more like a variation thereof that defies transliteration).

We seem to be doing well with the “T” words. Quite out of the blue, he’s picked up the word “tasty”. This is no doubt due to my overuse of my David Letterman dumb guy voice when I’m encouraging him to continue eating a food that he had tested and found acceptable for an additional bite. I invariably say, “Them’s a tasty treat!” and “Them’s good eatin’!” I suppose I should avoid overuse of the third person objective possessive pronoun, as it doesn’t actually exist in proper English.

Stuck in the Future Past

Do you ever get old songs stuck in your head for absolutely no good reason? I think we all do. Lately mine has been the "Cossack Song" by Tommy Coomes and released originally on Love Song’s Final Touch album in 1974. It is Hal Lindsey – or more specifically Chuck Smith -- eschatology from the same era. In part:

I wouldn't want to be a Cossack headed for that Palestine Road
Thinking about what's written in the Word of God
About the things that he's foretold
No, I wouldn't want to be there, down Jerusalem way
No, I wouldn't want to be there, headed for my grave
I wouldn't want to march with the comrades when they enter Israel
Headed straight into the fiery wrath of God
And finding no escape from, well,
I wouldn't want to be there, down Jerusalem way
No, I wouldn't want to be there, headed for my grave

Yep, the Russians are the baddies and they are going to attack Israel and BAM! God’s gonna get them. The thought pattern goes something like this: The Russians must be the baddies because them’s godless Communists. If there’s anything we knowd, it’s that Amairca is God’s country – next to Isrul, u’course – God loves us more spaisle than them. Heck, they don’t even speak Anglish, so how would they read the King James Version and get saved anyhow?

I suppose the fall of Communism has taken the gum erasers to some Bible prophecy charts and graphs, but Russia (or Gog as they like to call it) is still an indicator used in the Rapture Index. The Rapture Index is sort of Dow Jones of “Prophetic Activity”. The higher the number, the more likely the Rapture is to occur. There apparently hasn’t been a lot of activity in Gog lately, so it’s rating has been downgraded by one point.

However, there is a lot of activity related to the EU – or the “Beast Government” as it is called (a name I might prefer in a different context), so it is still rated at the maximum five points. In case you haven’t kept up with all this, the EU is the 10-horned restoration of the Roman Empire, because there are 10 countries in the EU. Well, there are a lot more than that, but that doesn’t matter, apparently.

Posted by david at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2003

Britain’s Greatest Embarrassment

That’s the only way to describe him. First he insisted that everyone stop using their cars and start using public transportation and then got in one of his two Jaguars to drive 250 yards to a meeting. It was so his wife’s hair wouldn’t get blown by the wind. Then he punched a heckler on the campaign trail. That’s right, he was out electioneering and socked someone in the face.

Last night his latest his response to reporters as he went into a meeting was to show them the “V” sign. No, not the V-for-Victory sign. We aren’t talking about Winston Churchill here. It was the “V” with the fingers facing the other direction. For American readers this is used to send a stronger message when just the middle finger isn’t enough.

Is this some sort of uneducated thug? Well, yes, but he is also the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

His Real Name is Brian

Marilyn Manson was on Jonathan Ross tonight and I learn that he is not a Satanist. Instead, noting that he’s girlfriend prefers to wear a particular fabric, he is an admitted satin-ist. It reminded me of something that I read recently on Karl Thiene’s blog.

Charlotte Church was also on with Mr Woss, and it was just more confirmation that South Wales is a valuable source of good looking women.

Posted by david at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2003

Lyrical Sleight of Hand

I was listening to Paul Simon this morning and it finally struck me that even though he says there are fifty ways to leave your lover, he only supports his thesis with three. I’m sure your initial reaction is that I’ve miscounted and that there are five mentioned. But think about it. He encourages Jack to get out the back, Gus to hop on the bus, and Lee to drop off the key.

Stan making a new plan isn’t actually an act of leaving a lover, though the plan could involve one of the three or perhaps one of the forty-seven which remain unknown. Encouraging Roy not to be coy is less of a move toward leaving a lover than even Stan’s new plan. In fact, the suggesting that Roy need not be coy appears to be an encouragement by the speaker to listen to the various lover-leaving ways being proposed.

Thus we are left we just three ways to leave a lover. Not that I am encouraging having lovers outside of marriage or leaving those lovers within the marital bond. However, for those with lovers outside of marriage, any of these three methods seems indicative of repentance. I can’t speak for the other forty-seven, obviously.

Just One Way to Leave the Cabinet

In the best news I’ve heard in ages, Derry Irvine is to be shuffled out of the Cabinet. Lord Irvine of Lairg has been Lord Chancellor since Labour came to power in 1997. Some of you will remember him as the subject of one of my Meanderings comparing his moral character to that of US Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Lord Irvine got the top job in the judicial system because he gave Tony Blair his first job as a barrister and introduced Tony to another up and coming barrister named Cherie Booth. But even Tony can only take so much of Derry’s complete self-absorption and the student is ready to be loosed from his teacher.

Trading Cronies

The bad news is that the front runner to take over as either Lord Chancellor or head of a newly-created Ministry of Justice (since Labour has no qualms about washing away perfectly good institutions just because they are rooted in time immemorial) is Charlie Falconer, Tony old college flatmate. Lord Falconer was made a peer of the realm because Tony was determined to have him in a ministerial post. He would have stood for election to the House of Commons in a safe Labour seat, but the selection board refused to let him stand because he sends his children to private school.

Those on this side of the Pond will remember Charlie as the Millennium Dome minister, who over saw the pumping of additional hundreds of millions of pounds into the giant white elephant that the Government eventual had to give away. It seems Charlie has done a good job working with Home Secretary David Blunkett to rework the criminal justice system.

I don’t know whether it Charlie’s or David’s idea to propose changes in the law so that cottaging (committing homosexual acts in public toilets) will be legal and sunbathing in your back garden behind a privacy fence will be illegal. This is the way that the criminal justice system is being reformed in this country.

Posted by david at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2003

The Dangers of Pollution to Gender

Okay this ones almost enough to make me an environmentalist.

Pollution emptying into the Firth of Forth has turned 20 percent of the shrimps into hermaphrodites. In an amazing parallel with the human society around them, the results of samples showed that shrimps were maturing later and producing fewer eggs.

The leader of the research team said, “I believe there is a relationship between pollution and the number of intersex shrimps. But I don’t know the mechanism involved. There is a parasite which alters a male amphipod’s gender so the amphipods have either been indirectly affected by the polluted area’s increased number of parasites, or directly from the wide variety of industrial chemicals which act like hormones.”

Not surprisingly the pollution of sin around us is creating gender-bending changes as well. The only salvation from the polluted water in which we are drowning is the Church. As St Cyprian famously said, “If any one could escape who was outside the ark of Noah, then he also may escape who shall be outside of the Church.”

For more one sin and sexuality, Huw Raphael at Doxos has posted some insightful thoughts.

Born of a Pretty Special Sheila

So says the The Aussie Bible (Well, bits of it anyway!) about Jesus. It will be published Down Under in August. It is a translation into Australian vernacular, though I don’t know if the was from the original Greek. I have my doubts as this is the story of the Good Samaritan:

"A bunch of bushrangers attacked him, stole his dough, and left him as good as dead. A big wig from the Temple happened to pass by, took one look at the bloke, crossed the road, and hurried off. Another official who was on the road that day did the same.

"Then a really ordinary bloke (a grubby old street sweeper you wouldn't look twice at) passed by and felt really sorry for him. So he used his first-aid kit to patch him up, and then put him on his old nag, took him to the nearest pub and took care of him."

But I don’t know the academic qualification of the translator, journalist and Christian radio presenter Kel Richards. Though it has the support of the Australian Bible Society, I am a bit worried about it, since it also has the blessing of the Anglican Church. And we know what the Anglican Church has been blessing lately…

Posted by david at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2003

I haven't had a lot of time to blog, because I've been finishing my latest read, John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life by Paul C. Nagel. This is an excellent book, information from which will appear in my next Meandering.

Thus I have now updated information on the left side of your screen concerning my library.

Posted by david at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2003

Congratulations to HM the Queen

Congratulations to HM the Queen on the 50th anniversary of her Coronation. Long may she reign over us.

Our Little Jamie Oliver

On the domestic front today, we got Aidie a play kitchen. He has a great interest in kitchens, both ours at home and the ones at the playgroup he attends. In fact, at the playgroup, all the boys are interested in the kitchens. Is it a coincidence that all the great chefs are men?

On a visit to the Early Learning Centre, a shop with toys for young children, Aidan became inseparable from the play kitchen, except when he would grab a plastic pan in one hand and a plastic utensil in the other and run for the door. The next time he went in there, arriving in his pram, he pulled and tugged to get free to play with it again. Unfortunately the ELC version cost £50. A little over our budget, that. So we got one from that universal purveyor of all things inexpensive, Argos.

I was a bit embarrassed carrying it out of Argos because the picture on the front is of a little girl. I didn’t want people thinking I was buying a little girl toy for my little boy (as he was there at the time). And then when we got it home and Mrs Holford started to put it together, it was immediately evident that there is a strong pink motif to the thing. It looks like a girl’s toy. Even Mrs Holford wants to paint it to make it look a bit more neutral. I think we have decided that the pink is going to become green.

And speaking of things in the kitchen…

Hot Hot Hot

We had tacos this evening – not unusual fare for us. Normally we use the Old El Paso taco seasoning, since it comes in a package with the Old El Paso taco shells, the only variety available on our supermarket shelves. However, as the package comes with twelve taco shells and one package of seasoning, it sometimes occurs that we have shells but no seasoning.

Not a problem. Mrs Holford just adds her own blend of herbs and spices. Because the meat had been in the freezer for a while and had lost some of its natural savour, she decided to go a little heavier than usual on the chili powder. We like things fairly spicy, but this stuff in our bottle of chili powder is dangerous. Just a little dab will do ya. Things got a little out of control and the taco meat was particularly potent.

The question naturally arose over dinner as to what makes chili and other peppers hot. We concurred that this was one of those answers that could no doubt be found on the Internet. And right we were. Have you ever wondered what caused the hotness – how something on your tongue could make your eyes water, your nose run, and perspiration to break out over your whole body? (If you don’t normally eat things that cause this reaction, you don’t know what you are missing – and you’re a wuss.)

It a chemical call capsaicin (pronounced cap-SAY-i-sin) a crystalline alkaloid. Facinating stuff really. It actually has no taste. It only acts on the pain receptors in your tongue and mouth. In doing so, it appear to block some of the taste buds from working. If strong at a high enough concentration, it can cause blisters in the mouth.

It does not appear to be lethal, however. In lab tests, scientists were only able to kill rodents by virtually drowning them in the stuff. Or by whatever method they are killed to autopsy them, thereby demonstrating that they weren’t killed by the thing with which they were testing them. One study did show, however, that an average-sized human might overdose and become unconscious by consuming half a gallon of Tabasco Sauce.

The hotness of various peppers are actually measured scientifically in Scoville heat units. This is determined by the amount of capsaicinoid parts per million. One part per million is equal to 15 Scoville units. To give you an idea of the scale, bell peppers have 0 Scoville units. Jalapenos average between 2,500 and 5,000. Habaneros, the hottest known pepper can be as hot as 300,000 Scoville units. Pure capsaicin have a Scoville score of 16,000,000. Potent stuff.

And finally…

Reliable Sources

Thanks to Josh Claybourn for the link to a Guardian article on why bloggers are dominating the search engine results over the established media. I don’t normally read the Guardian, so it good to see it’s good for something.

Posted by david at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)