September 22, 2003

New Member of the Family

Today Aidan got his first pet. We are still trying to think of a good name for her, so for now we just refer to her as Aidie does and call her "Bubby". He calls her this because no matter how had I try, I can't seem to get him to say "bunny". He can say "Bu" and "Nee", but he just can't put them together.

Traditionally in our family, pets need to to be named after saints, Old Testament, New Testament, or otherwise. The great exception was Humphrey the hamster, but he just looked like a Humphrey, so I don't think we really had any choice.

I had wanted to get a bunny for some time, but Mrs H wasn't keen on the idea. Then for some reason totally unbeknownst to me, she sudden decided that Aidie should have a rabbit. We had hoped to get one free from my mother-in-law's place of employment, but we found out they were only newborns and wouldn't be available for weeks. So it was off to the pet store. Aidie liked all of them and Mrs H didn't care which one, so it was left for me to decide. I think Bubby was the prettiest of the bunch.

Posted by david at 11:35 PM | Comments (1)

September 21, 2003

Nude but not Rude

Yesterday, Mrs H and I had the opportunity to go to the cinema, while Aidie spent the day with Nana. The last film was saw on a day alone wasn't that good, but this time we picked a winner. It won't be released in the US until December, but Calendar Girls is already being tipped for Oscar nominations.

It somewhat fictionalizes the story of the Rylstone and District Women's Institute fundraising calendar. The decided to do a calendar to raise funds to fight leukaemia, in response to death of the husband of one of their members. A nude calendar. (In the film the focus is initially on raising money to purchase a sofa for the visitors' waiting room at the local hospital.)

It features some of the outstanding British actresses over the age of 50, and stars Dame Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. The performances were outstanding. In a cinema also filled with mostly over-50's (and of them, mostly over-60's) Mrs H and I laughed and cried. Especially cried.

The film does contain nudity - most of it covered by things you'd expect to see in a WI calendar, such as baked good, jam jars, a piano, greenhouse plants, and a cider press - just like in the actual calendar. It will carry a PG-13 rating in the US (it's a 12A in the UK). I just say this to warn those who might find the sight of naked OAPs too much to bare -- er, bear.

I hope those of you in the UK will go out and see the film in cinemas now and those of you in the US will remember this review when you are choosing among the Christmas releases. It will be for a good cause, at least in part. All of the WI ladies who sold their stories for the film are donating all of their royalties to charity.

Posted by david at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2003

Priced Off the Road

Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced that more tax is to be added to the cost of petrol. Even though 80% of the purchase price already goes in the Government's coffers, another 5p (7.5¢) per gallon is being added.

This is another example of how this Government really doesn't care what the governed think. We already pay more for fuel that any other country in Europe except the Germans. (And really, who gives a toss what the Germans pay?) The average price of petrol is over 2½ times of the price in the US.

But there is more about this than money. It is also another attempt by the occupants of ministerial Daimlers to force more drivers off the roads.

Posted by david at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003

Don't Ask, Don't Treat

Bowel cancer kills 16,000 people each year in the UK. It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in this country. By a simple screening of a faecal occult blood sample and a sigmoidoscopy, 5,000 lives could be saved.

The NHS won't have it. It does not want the screening. Why? Because it doesn't know what to do with the additional patients it would identify. It would increase the waiting lists, which would lead to more of the usual horror stories in the newspapers. The NHS doesn't need any more bad press. It's worth the loss of 5,000 lives a year to avoid it.

According to the new chief executive of Cancer Research UK, there is a similar problem with prostate cancer screening. The blood test only costs £30, but more test means more positive results, and then what are they supposed to do? Treat all these people?

Posted by david at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2003

The Gates of Hell

Bill Gates is getting a stronger and stronger stranglehold on the world of communication. The features incorporated into Office 2003 are pretty scary.

WorldNetDaily has the scoop. Thanks to Mary for bringing this to my attention.

Posted by david at 10:12 PM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2003

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No, It's...

You thought they were the stuff of comic books, TV shows, and movies. Who else would wear a blue catsuit, gold boots and a matching pair of crotch-hugging briefs? With the way that drivers are being treated these days, we have needed a superhero. Now we have Angle Grinder Man!

The chief weapon used by traffic wardens against parking violators in this country, and especially in London, is the wheel clamp. I never have understood the logic of the wheel clamp, since it forcibly leaves in place a vehicle that should have been there in the first place. You're blocking traffic? Well, we'll clamp you in place so that until you cough up £105, the obstruction will remain. Already paid £105 plus the fine for a parking space? Might as well leave it all day for that price.

But really, who wants to pay and extra £105 to park? (That's about $170, for those of you keeping score on the other side of the Pond.) Angle Grinder Man didn't, so he went to a tool hire shop and got - you guessed it - an angle grinder. He sawed off the clamp amidst cheering bystanders and a superhero was born.

Now he goes out at night in the aforementioned costume and cuts off clamps. Though he has advertised his service through flyers and a website (which wasn't working due to a server error when I tried it), and takes calls on the Angle Grinder hotline, he accepts no payment for his services.

Posted by david at 11:42 PM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2003

In Cold Blood

The Israeli Deputy Prime Minister has openly told the press that the Israeli Government is considering assassinating Yasser Arafat. They have decided they will get rid of him. It is only a question of how.

What progress has been made toward a Palestinian state? How is the leader of the Palestinians treated by his Israeli overlords? In the words of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, "His expulsion is an option, his liquidation is another option. It is also possible to confine him to prison-like conditions." And they wonder why the Intifada continues?

The Israeli Government acts like it is convinced that Arafat is the reason the suicide bombings continue. I can't believe that they are so stupid as to not get that the continued mistreatment of the Palestinian people might just play a teensy-weensy role in this. They have taken an land settled by other people, shipped most of them off into the exile of refuge camps, and created the remaining group as legalised second-class citizens. They have bulldozed the Palestinians ghettos and consistently taken away ownership of Palenstinian land for citing the need for Jewish lebensraum.

There just may be something to the psychological theory that victims of abuse tend to become abusers themselves. At least it appears to be vaild on a sociological scale.

Posted by david at 12:59 AM | Comments (4)

September 14, 2003

Dumb and Dumber

The Government has decided that 50% of the population aged 18-30 must go through higher education within the next seven years. It has lowered the standards of exams for GCSE and A-level to ensure this. After all, students aren't going to get smarter, so the only thing left to do is recruit thicker ones.

The senior examiner of the GCSE maths exam for the past nine years for Edexcel, one of the main exam providers, has admitted the results were fixed this year. Because candidates for the exam had the worst marks in a decade, the grading scale was radically adjusted to make sure the required number got good enough grades to go on to A-level. Normally it takes 50% on the exam to get a C. This year it was 42%. As David Kent told The Sunday Times, “If we had set the grade C boundary at 50%, the proportion passing would have been considerably less. In fact, it would have been so low we didn’t even consider it."

According to Mr Kent, the exam boards make sure that the same proportion of students pass the exam each year, regardless of how well they actually do.

The cover up the scandal, Edexcel have refused to release the actual "raw" marks to the students. In other words, those who tok the exam are now allowed to know how many questions they actually missed. David Burghes, a former chairman of examiners and professor of education at Exeter University said, “We know it is a fiddle because students have not been given their raw marks on the papers.”

One thing that the Government hasn't been able to do is keep the new students once they ship them off to university. Even with remedial classes and a general dumbing-down of the university curriculum (since it is useless to teach completely over their heads), 40% of students are dropping out of some universities.

Universities have alway had some students drop out for various reasons. Even Cambridge and Oxford, lose 1.3% and 2% of students respectively before they complete their degrees. But this is nothing like London Metropolitan where 38% drop out. While increased tuition fees and the Government's increasing willingness to burden students with educational debt plays some role in all of this, The Sunday Times reports that research from the Institute for Higher Education Policy found that the lower a student’s grades before going to university, the higher the chance of dropping out.

So as a result, the Government is intent on creating a nation of university drop-outs saddled with debt.

Posted by david at 02:32 PM | Comments (2)

September 13, 2003

Cats and Dogs

Moving to our new house, I have discovered that there are two types of neighbourhoods, cat neighbourhoods and dog neighbourhoods.

Back in Purgatory, we lived in a dog neighbourhood. There was the rottweiler and the sheepdog upstairs. There was a seeing eye dog next door. There were other canines roaming around the common area, both with and without accompanying owners. There was dog poo everywhere.

The new place is defintely in the heart of cat country. There are felines lounging around day and night. It's not uncommon to see four or five of them as I'm driving down our street. Whenever I pull up after dark, there is always at least one of them stretched out across our driveway and usually two sitting on the neighbour's car.

Where Aidan used to hear the dogs and constantly let us know they were out there by making his woofing sound (which is more like "huh! huh!"), now he always wants to go out on the patio to see if the cats are out. He stands at the sliding glass door and says "maow, maow, maow" over and over until someone pulls it open, then rushes over to the low fence to look into the neighbour's back garden.

The nice thing about living in a cat neighbourhood is that cats don't keep us up all night meowing ferociously at every person that walks by. And they generally find a discreet place to poo as well.

Posted by david at 01:26 AM | Comments (0)

Getting Ugly with the Truth

Mel Gibson has been forced to edit his film The Passion. It was shot as a word-for-word, scene-for-scene re-creation of the actual Passion as recorded in the Gospels and in the original languages. Nothing added, nothing taken away. It's just the Holy Scripture put on screen. Shouldn't be a problem, right?

Not so. Under intense pressure, Gibson has cut what World Net Daily reports is a scene in which Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, says, "his blood be on us and on our children." If this is an accurate description of the scene cut, then Gibson had already toned it down, because in the Scripture Caiaphas never says this. If it is Caiaphas saying it, then Caiaphas could be blamed for it and it doesn't necessarily reflect upon the Jewish people.

This demand, which is recorded in Matthew 27:25, was spoken by the people with one voice. If that was portrayed, it would result in four things:

1. History of the event, as recorded by eyewitnesses, would be accurately portrayed.

2. The Holy Apostle Peter would also be telling the truth in Acts 2:22-24: Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know. Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it, and in verse 36, Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.''

3. The Proto-martyr Stephen would be telling the truth in Acts 7:52: Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers.

4. Mel Gibson would have been lynched. After all, he said of the scene he cut, "I wanted it in. My brother said I was wimping out if I didn't include it. But, man, if I included that in there, they'd be coming after me at my house. They'd come to kill me."

How is it anti-Semitic (or anti anything for that matter) to accurately portray an historical event? Where has this idea developed that if anything portrayed in the news or arts media is critical of any Jewish people at any point in history or places them in a bad light (and admittedly Deicide is a shady business - thirty pieces of silver and all), this is an affront to the Jews?

All I can say is that Mel Gibson should take heart that he isn't the first person to be attacked for telling the truth. After all, Stephen was stoned to death for it. It happened to the Apostle Paul at Lystra, though with less permanent consequences (Acts 14).

Sometimes the truth isn't pleasant, but protesting against it - even forcing it onto the cutting room floor - doesn't change it. You can try to re-write the history books, but you can't re-write history. Or in this case, His story.

Posted by david at 01:02 AM | Comments (2)

September 12, 2003

Sporadic Posting

I figured I better add something to this blog before everything drops off the screen and the home page is left with just the links on the right side. Actually, if all the entries faded into the archives, the links would spread across the page, as they are still doing at the bottom.

Anyhow, the point is that I have left the ranks of the unemployed. As I have been on an induction week in my new situation, it has been extremely intensive with little time for blogging. In fact, this is really going to be an induction year for me, so I fear my entries here will be much more sporadic than they have been since I began in March.

I hope everyone hasn't just wandered away. If anyone is still reading, please raise your hand.

Posted by david at 11:43 PM | Comments (1)

September 08, 2003

Furniture Jigsaw Puzzle

This weekend has been taken up with the bulk of the move. I have been offline since Friday.

A big part of today was spent deciding how to arrange the furniture into the new lounge. With eight principle items the situation requires a considerable amount of attention. This is not a big room and somehow we have to fit the couch, chair, dresser, book case, TV/VCR cabinet, dining table, coffee table, and computer so that it doesn't look cluttered and still allows for room to walk.

Eventually we solved the problem. The only thing we can't do is use the computer and eat dinner at the same time. But then again, we shouldn't be doing that anyway.

Mrs H also made me take the top off of the computer desk, as it is rather unsightly. Unfortunately, I now have no place to put all the junk that extruded from the multiple cubby holes and dangled ungracefully fron the top shelf. We are already short of space for junk in this house, so I don't know what I'm going to do.

Posted by david at 02:22 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2003

Has It (Only) Been That Long?

Mrs H appropriated my last name exactly four years ago today. I alerted her to this fact first thing this morning. I didn't alert her that I still have to go get a card and flowers.

Even though I tried to explain it to him, Aidan seems oblivious to the significance of this event. He doesn't realise that if Mrs H had been in possession of more sense on that day, he wouldn't be here.

Posted by david at 09:30 AM | Comments (1)

September 03, 2003

The Transformation

The new house is actually starting to look like a home. We finished the painting this morning. Well, we finished all the painting we can afford for right now. The master bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen will have to wait. And when I say "we", I actually mean Mrs H, because all the painting that remained involved standing on a chair, which is not something I do very well. After all, I have a tendency to fall when I'm on the ground. (In fact, I did so last night, sustaining an injury to my only remaining big toe.)

The carpet is now down as well. This was the best part of home improvement, with a glimspe of how the other half lives. We went to the store an bought the carpet (not the kind of carpet the other half buys, but still) and told them the fitter would be there this afternoon to pick it up. We left for a visit with the inlaws and to pick up a few odds and ends in Mrs H's hometown and when we arrived back, our bare concrete floor had been transformed. Before we even walked in the house, Mrs H informed Aidie and me that it had become a no-shoe area past the entry hall.

All we have left is to tile on the kitchen floor and to put something on the bare unfinished wood of the bathroom floor. Oh, and moving the furniture and the boxes of stuff. That's the bit where inlaws come in very handy, especially as we found out today that no one, and I mean no one, rents transit vans with automatic transmissions.

Posted by david at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003


Moving in hard work. Too tired to write any more tonight.

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

September 01, 2003

More Keystone Terrorism Cops

While Lancashire police were surrounding a seven-year-old boy with a plastic gun and holding his father at gunpoint, Kent police were stopping all the cross-Channel ferries and stranded almost 2,000 people for seven hours.

In the biggest terrorist alert since the army was sent in to Heathrow airport in February, three men were held under anti-terrorism laws for carrying two or three taser stunguns - the kind used in the UK by police. Police first said that x-ray scanners had found bomb-making equipment. How you mistake a stun gun for bomb-making equipment?

I think the Kent police just got lucky to find anything on these blokes. Tasers are widely available on the black market. If this had been a real suspected terrorism incident, Scotland Yard would have taken charge. Instead, a Met source made this comment: “What they found was not what they thought they found. Kent police didn’t want to tell us what was going on. It isn’t going to make them look very clever.”

Posted by david at 12:26 AM