October 31, 2003

Dr Paisley and the Demilitarised Zone

After years of fighting and terrorism, everyone wants peace in Northern Ireland. Well, everyone except for Ian Paisley. As a major step in the continuing peace process stumbled, Rev. Dr Paisely boasted that God intervened.

A key part of the peace process is the Joint Declaration. Ian Paisley and his Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) do not like this document. As an official press release related to the November 26 Northern Ireland Assembly elections states:

Over the course of 3 entire pages, the Joint Declaration lays out in shocking detail how the Government intends to demilitarise Northern Ireland. Watchtowers are to be vacated and demolished. Helicopters are to be no longer used for operational purposes. The massive troop withdrawals can only lead to the phasing out of the home battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment.

If such shocking things happen, the Northern Ireland might become like any other part of the UK, where people don't firebomb each other and soldiers don't patrol the streets. However, Paisely believes that any concession to Catholics, such as political representation or fewer troops pointing guns at them from watchtowers, is the work of the Devil and the Pope. Reducing the size of the army in Northern Ireland is undoubtedly a papist plot to bring the United Kindgom back under the sway of Rome. I can almost hearing him saying it now.

I am terrible with accents and imitating voices. The only one I do with confidence is Ian Paisley. This is because the only thing that Rev. Dr. Paisley, MP, and the Catholics agree on is the evil which is abortion. I was privileged to be in the House of Commons on 24th April 1990 when a bill slightly reducing the maximum gestation for a legal abortion was being debated. Opponents of the bill suggested that it was a Catholic measure, as it was introduced and heavily supported by certain Catholic MPs. Rev. Paisley rose and declared, "I doubt whether I will be accused in this debate of being Roman Catholic."

The House erupted with laughter.

Posted by david at 11:50 PM | Comments (6)

October 30, 2003


I'll try to not short out the keyboard while I type this. With the amount of water dripping off my body, this may not be possible.

Our garage is conveniently located next to our house. There is no internal door, so we have to go out the front door and around to the garage door. This isn't a problem, except in England, where it rains all the time.

Because our house is tiny, we keep the freezer in the garage, next to the tumble dryer. Come to think of it, we keep just about everything in the garage. Well, except a light. So any time after about 5:00 p.m., we either have to remember where something is or turn on the headlights of car in the drive.

Tonight, Mrs H decided she wanted an apple pie out of the freezer. So out I tromped. As it was too dark and the pie was too deep in the freezer, I tromped back in to get my car keys. At this point Mrs H, frustrated that her simple instruction was being executed way too slowly, suggested that the need for further illumination was indicative of a failure on my part, so I was sent back out into the drizzle to rummage around in the dark. Having retrieved said pie, I was then informed that it there wasn't enough time to bake it and was once again sent to the garage to return the pie to the depths of the freezer.

I have to cut this short, because now that we've had dinner and Aidie is in bed, Mrs H has decided that she wants - you guessed it - pie. I have to go out to the supermarket anyway, as we are out of milk. So back out I go into the lovely late October weather. By the time you read this, Mrs H and I will probably be eating pie.

Posted by david at 08:10 PM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2003

iDs-Day for the Tories

Today is the day that the Parliamentary Conservative Party decides the fate of its leader, Iain Duncan Smith. He has to get the support of 83 MPs to remain leader. If he does that, he will be secure in his position for the next year and probably lead the Tories to their next election defeat.

My money is on IDS not getting the required level of support. If he doesn't get 83 votes of confidence, he is out and cannot stand as a candidate in the next round.

I like IDS. I agree with most of the things he says. I think he is right on most of the issues. I think he is the wrong person to be leader of the party. I'm sure he made a fine army officer, but this is one group who will not follow him in to battle.

A lot of it is down to style. IDS doesn't excite anyone and in this age of television and sound bites, boring just doesn't work. In matters of policy, he hasn't found the right poltical battleground on which to set up an effective Opposition. No one knows what the Tories stand for and how they are different from those faux-Tories, New Labour.

This dissarray in the Conservative Party has even led the Liberal Democrats to shift their Shadow Cabinet right-ward to prepare to take the role of HM Opposition. It is, after all, conceivable that the LDs could win more seats at the next election than the Tories. If that happens, the Conservative Party will disintegrate.

The problem with dumping IDS is that there is no one strong enough to re-group the Tories and look like a Prime Minister-in-waiting before the next General Election. The only person who might pull it off is the person who will probably not stand for the leadership, Michael Portillo. Portillo knows that the next election is like to be lost and the leader will probably do a William Hague and resign in the aftermath. He can then come in an do what he had hoped to do the last time.

I don't particularly care for Portillo. He has gone all lefty and squishy, especially on social issues. He is particularly vulnerable to the gay lobby. I do realise that he is probably the only Tory that the nation, which itself has gone a bit lefty and squishy, will be willing to elect.

I don't want to eat any of my words, so I will wait until this evening before I write off IDS. Stranger things have happened. Any way you look at it and whatever happens in the leadership struggle, it is still a long road back for the Tories. Let's just hope there's not a bridge washed out along the way.

Posted by david at 03:50 AM | Comments (2)

October 28, 2003

Everything the Bristol Zoo Wasn't

Mrs H had been urging me to set aside a day of my half-term break for a family outing. Today was the day.

Some of you may recall my blog entry about our trip to the Bristol Zoo. What a waste. Never go there. Not for £9 each. Instead, save a little cash and go to the West Midlands Safari Park.

It was our first trip to a safari park. Aidie was just about the right age to begin to enjoy it. He was able to feed all manner of herbivorous grassland animals, including so many species within the deer family that I lost count, plus zebras, a few different kinds of cow-like creatures, exotic sheep, and more. The only ones we couldn't get to eat from us were the giraffes, though they ate from cars all around us.

The only scary moment was when we were charged by a rhino. It appears to be coming straight for Aidan's door and I was boxed in with no place to go. I was hoping that we were only looking at a insurance claim and not a hospital stay. When I say that it was barrelling directly for the car, I am not exaggerating. It had become angry at the safari park workers in jeeps who were trying to move it to a different location. Only a the very last moment, and I mean very last moment, it altered its trajectory and thundered between our car and the one behind.

After that, driving through the lions and tigers and wild dogs was no problem. Even if the carnivores had taken notice of us and climbed on the car, I don't think I would have flinched. Tigers are not very big compared to rhinos. And they weigh a lot less.

West Midlands Safari Park also has exhibitions of reptiles and fish and sea lions. It made for a full day. The only downside was the very slow queue in the cafe and the overcooked fish. But again, this was not as bad as eating at the Bristol Zoo.

If we continue to stay in this area over the next few years, this is a place we can regularly visit as a family.

Posted by david at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2003

Contrasts of the Church in Zimbabwe

Thugs in Mugabe's Zimbabwe sometimes where clerical collars or even bishop's mitres. Nolbert Kunonga, the Anglican Bishop of Harare has seized a white-owned farm and his son has moved into the farmhouse. His abuse isn't limited to just white people, though. Apparently believing in equal-opportunity victimization, he has thrown out 50 black workers and their families to make way for his own staff.

The property is quite conveniently located just about 10 miles from his cathedral, so he will be able to communte easily to work, where he can resume committing sacrilege and shaming the name of Christ.

As an outspoken supporter of Mugabe, it would seem the farm was a reward to Kunonga from the dicator.

On the other hand, for Christian leaders who speak out against Mugabe, there is a whole other approach. Merfyn Temple is a retired Methodist minister who spent 31 years as a missionary in Africa. Now 83 years old, he decided to go to Zimbabwe. Not wanting to arrive empty-handed, according to The Sunday Times "he packed 15 kilos of organic flour into a 90-year-old suitcase and attached the casters from his wheelie bin to help transport it."

But the gift of flour to a starving people was not the primary reason for his journey. He had a message for the vile Robert Mugabe. He got up in the Holy Trinity Methodist Church in Harare and read a letter he had written:

Dear Mr Mugabe, The sufferings of the people of Zimbabwe are an abomination in the sight of the Lord. I am praying that the British government arrest you and charge you with crimes against humanity.

Yours faithfully, Merfyn Temple.

He then left the church and walked to Mugabe's residence to deliver the letter. As he approached, he was arrested and thrown into a jail cell designed for six people with 17 occupants. He was accused of being a spy for Tony Blair or George Bush.

The intellectual fortitude of Mugabe's officials can be no more clearly demonstrated than by the next episode which I will quote from The Sunday Times intact:

When Temple was questioned the next day, a police officer who said he had been trained by the FBI in methods of interrogation told him: "We think you are a spy for three reasons. You are tall and you look like a retired brigadier. Your arms are very brown and so you must have spent many years in Africa. When you gave us your coded address in Honiton you said: 'Hotel, hotel'. That is the kind of language the army uses when it relays messages."

He was interrogated further two days later. He daughter in England got worried because she had not heard from him, so she got in contact with a lawyer in Harare who managed to get him out of jail and deported back to Britain.

Seems like God was looking out for him.

Posted by david at 02:06 AM | Comments (4)

October 26, 2003

Diplomatically Incorrect

The government of the United States wants to recall an ambassador from a foreign post. Seems simple enough, doesn't it? The only problem is that it wants to recall a British ambassador.

The US is very unhappy with the British ambassador to Uzbekistan. He keeps going around telling the truth. The US is not denying that he is telling the truth - only that it is very embarrassing. The Bush administration has been putting a lot of pressure on the Blair administration (surprise, surprise) and as a result the Foreign Office has told Craig Murray "resign or we'll sack you" according to reports in the Sunday Times.

The problems started when the US ambassador John Herbst and Mr Murray shared a platform speaking to senior Uzbek officials. Herbst said Uzbekistan had made “some progress” in the areas of “democratic reforms and the protection of human rights”. Murray followed this diplomatic song and dance routine with statements like, “Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy, nor does it appear to be moving in the direction of democracy,” and “We believe there to be between 7,000 and 10,000 people in detention. In many cases they have been falsely convicted. The terrible case of (two men) apparently tortured to death by boiling water is not an isolated incident. Brutality is inherent in (your) system.”

The Tashkent government was not amused. After all, it was the sort of thing that could get a patriotic Uzbek cooked like a pot of potatoes. And what makes Tashkent upset makes Washington upset. Uzbekistan is, after all, an important ally in keeping Afghanistan under control. They may boil dissidents alive, but they also let the US build an base for launching airstrikes across the border.

This once again brings to light to awful hypocrisy of the US when picking and choosing which regimes to topple and which to placate. Saddam's brutality was used as an reason to invade Iraq, on the off-chance no WMD could be found. Uzbek president Islam Karimov's similar practices are ignored. I've already blogged about the treatment of Taliban prisoners by the same US government that wouldn't tolerate similar treatment by a foreign government it didn't fancy at the time and would never tolerate it if the prisoners were American.

But what is the British government to do with Mr Murray? While he was away on holiday an investigator was sent to Tashkent to look at (or create) allegations of misbehviour. He has now been accused of a string of misdemeanors, including having sex with visa applicants in his office, going out drinking in an official car, and driving a Land Rover down the steps of the embassy, though none of the allegations has been proven.

The Foreign Office will not even admit that it has investigated Murray. It is, however, using the allegations to pressure him into resigning. He is not inclined to do so. He's too busy telling the truth.

Posted by david at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2003

Family Puppetry

As Mrs H and I were enjoying dinner tonight without either Aidie or the need to clean up afterwards, she explained to me the need for me to explain to the waitress a very complex thought concerning how and when our food should arrive. Sure, it would have been easier for Mrs H to have just expressed herself directly, but no, for some reason, had had to communicate it.

As I twice failed to do this, Mrs H became quite exasperated. I finally suggested that perhaps I should just move my lips and she should speak. I sensed a bit of frustration that her arm wouldn't fit up my back nor her hand fit around the inside of my jaws.

I suspect this is an affliction that is not uncommon in married men. As the mother says in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "The man may be the head, but the woman is the neck."

And just in case you are thinking that I am speaking out of turn here, I assure you that Mrs H didn't approve of this blog entry. She suggested it.

Posted by david at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

October 24, 2003

The Proper Response to Apostate Orthodox Senators

There are two members of the US Senate who also claim membership in the Orthodox Church, one a Republican and the other a Democrat. Both vote in complete contravention of the Church and in violation its moral teachings.

Olympia Snowe of Maine and Paul Sarbanes of Maryland voted against the banning of partial birth abortion, a procedure which the esteemed surgeon and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist deemed "totally, from a medical standpoint, unnecessary". Partial birth abortion is where the hard core of pro-death support takes its stand. Of all of the ways to kill an unborn baby, it is the most gruesome. To quote Senator Frist again, it is, "egregious, outlandish, ghoulish".

Opponents of the bill stood on the sand that it did not make an exception for the health of the woman. This is a specious argument, since there is absolutely no conceivable situation where the health of the mother is a factor in choosing this butchery. This is a procedure that involves breeching the delivery of a child until the very last moment, then seconds before it legally becomes infanticide, going into the birth canal and piercing through the skull, sucking out the brain, collapsing the cranium, and then finishing the delivery of the murdered infant.

This is what Senators Snowe and Sarbanes, as leaders of their States and as leaders of these united States, and allegedly as Orthodox Christians, actively refused to oppose, voting against those who would prohibit it. I would hope that Snowe and Sarbanes are Orthodox in name only. There are certainly many who are, just as there are Catholics and Protestants of every stripe who are. However, Sen. Snowe does claim on her website to be a member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lewiston. On his website, Sen. Sarbanes says that he is a member of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore. How sadly ironic that he is a member of a parish named after the conception of a Child.

I am a sinner. On one level sin is sin. On that level what Snowe and Sarbanes have done is no different than the manner things I have done today to offend the holiness of God. However, Holy Scripture also demonstrates to us that there are also degrees of sin -- not in some sort of fixed matrix corresponding to levels of Dante's Inferno -- but nonetheless some sins are more grievous than others.

I have certainly approached the dread Mysteries of Christ, especially the Holy Table, unworthily and in fear of judgment. Yet most of my sins are known to God, perhaps my family and friends, and my spiritual father. Whilst I hesitate to make comparisons and do not do so to make myself seem righteous in any way, I have not stood before the American nation and the world and declared that I will use my power and authority to legislate the horrific murder of children at the moment of their birth.

I know there are readers of this blog who would like to divorce the relationship between the Church and the State in which it finds itself and its members residing. With due respect to their views, I believe that when the highest ranking representatives of the government of the United States who call themselves members of the Holy Orthodox Church, publically align themselves with he who has come to steal, kill, and destroy, it is incumbent upon the hierarchs of the Holy Orthodox Church, and in this particular case of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, to publically excommunicate the Senators until such a time as they publically repent of their allegiance to Satan. They should also immediately excommunicate any priest in Lewiston, Baltimore, or wherever, who would administer the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ or any of the Holy Mysteries to such an individual.

I would even go so far as to suggest that it is incumbent upon the pastor of Holy Trinity, Lewiston, and the Dean of the Cathedral of the Annunciation to urge the repentance of their respective senatorial parishoners, first privately, and if unsuccessful, publically.

May God have mercy on the souls of Senators Snowe and Sarbanes, even as I pray that He has mercy upon me, a sinner.

Posted by david at 01:26 AM | Comments (1)


I have finally re-worked the right links.

In addition to the blogs mentioned yesterday, I have also added Erica's A Catechumen's Walk. Erica added me to her links some time ago, and I have been quite recalcitrant in reciprocating. Erica is a student at an evangelical Protestant university who an Orthodox almost-catechumen and shares wonderful insights.

Posted by david at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2003

A Truly Evil Man

Thanks to Huw at Doxos for pointing this out.

Even over here in the UK, we have been keeping up with the saga of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman in a nursing home after suffering brain damage [as has been pointed out in comments below, not in a vegetative state]. Her husband has been trying desperately to kill her. It would seem among other things that this would facilitate his marriage to his girlfriend by whom he already has a child.

Her family is trying just as desperately to save her, as are people everywhere who care about the right to life. Her husband finally got a court order to have her feeding tube removed so she could slowly starve to death. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, he refused to allow her to receive the viaticum -- the Holy Communion of the last rites. Perhaps he thought a particle of the Most Precious Body or a drop of the Most Precious Blood might sustain her earthly life a few moments longer.

Now that Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature have stepped in and passed emergency legislation to save her life and restore her feeding tube, perhaps her access to the Holy Mysteries will be restored.

It is no doubt down to my lack of holiness, but it is difficult when praying for Terri not pray imprecatorily on her most evil *astard of a husband.

(I don't like to water down my words with substitutionary symbols, but I know I have readers who have to access from behind language-police filters.)

Posted by david at 03:47 AM | Comments (2)

Another New Ortho-blogger

Thanks to comments she made a couple of days ago, I found Doves and Pomegranates by Havdala. She also has a separate blog of thoughts on the lives of Celtic and Old English Saints.

I hope you will enjoy both and I will be adding both to the right-hand column.

Posted by david at 01:02 AM | Comments (1)

You Can Help with Biographical Research

As she noted in a comment to my August 4 entry, Gillian Crow is working on a biography of Metropolitian ANTHONY (Bloom) of Blessed Memory. She has invited "anyone who would like to contribute any anecdotes/reminiscences about him" to email her at [email protected].

Posted by david at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2003

Bad Bad Bunny

Bubby became an endangered species today. As it was very cold outside, I let her in to run around. Then all of us, Aidie, Mrs H, and me, had to go up stairs to get ready to go out. No sooner were we headed up than Bubby hopped over to the telephone cord and began to chew vigorously. This is the cord of the back-up phone we are using while we are still trying to replace the power cord she chewed to the cordless phone.

On her way down the stairs, Mrs H threw a couple of Aidie's wooden blocks at her with great accuracy. As they bounced off the bunny, she continued to chew. Mrs H (who was the caboose on the train moving upstairs) bounded down to grab the phone cord, but Bubby refused to let go. She chewed as fast as she could until she had severed all but a little bit of the plastic casing.

Bubby will regret her actions. The coldest months of the year are upon us, but she has now been official and completely banned from the house. It's gonna get pretty chilly in that hutch. It really wasn't worth the fleeting pleasure of destroying a piece of wire, now was it?

When I went out to the supermarket this evening, there were three cats hanging out in our driveway. I told them there was fresh meat to be had in the back garden. But you know how cats are. They could't be bothered to go get it.

Posted by david at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2003

Kids Say the Darndest Things

A lesbian teacher has sued her former school and the county council because of discrimination due to sexual orientation. You might think this comes as no surprise. Was she denied a promotion? Was she shunned by other teachers? No, she was taunted by pupils. She is suing for loss of earnings, pension rights and, of course, hurt feelings. £215,000 worth.

Somehow using health and safety law, she is claiming that the school failed to protect her from taunts by 11- to 16-year-olds who called her “lezzie” and “dyke” after they found out she had been visiting a lesbian club. I have to wonder how her pupils found out. If she was visiting such a club in Portsmouth, where her school was located and her students live, that would have been just stupid. I'm not suggesting that those pupils should have acted the way they did, but given that schools have been stripped of so much disciplinary power, I can't imagine how it could have been eliminated. However, according to the Guardian, her barrister said the suit was based upon "the grounds that the school had the power to end the abuse by the pupils but did not adequately do so and, therefore, effectively permitted it."

It has taken a while for all the hurt feelings to take their toll, because the alleged pupil campaign lasted from 1990 to 1996. Now seven years later, this case, according to the Sunday Times, "could help thousands of homosexual workers to claim compensation." Perhaps there more agenda than angst. The case was heard on appeal in the House of Lords in January.

If this case is successful, the logical legal progression will be that parents will be sued for anytime their child says anything politically incorrect to anyone.

Posted by david at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)

October 17, 2003

Finding the Origin of Sin in a Godless Cosmology

I was blissfully unaware when I was chrismated into Holy Orthodoxy that there quite a number of Orthodox who apparently believe in evolution. I was surprised that there would be support for such a scientifically unsupportable view inherently based upon an atheistic cosmology.

I would be interested if any Orthodox readers (or other readers for that matter) would explain Romans 5:12-15 within an evolutionary context. Earlier today, before I found out that even my Orthodox brethren had deserted Genesis, I asked a liberal colleague in the western church how sin came into the world if there was no real Adam. He doesn't know. Frankly, I can't theorize a possiblity either.

Though I am no longer a Calvinist and no longer believe that "in Adam's fall sinned we all", it still seemed pretty plain that "through on man sin entered the world".

Any takers?

Posted by david at 03:01 AM | Comments (5)

Not Another 1945

Well, the Cubs will not be in the World Series, after blowing a 3-1 lead in the NLCS.

At the time of thie writing, the Red Sox lead the Yankees 4-0 in the bottom of the 4th of the ALCS game 7. I'd like to the boys from Beantown win that, but there will still be no Cubs/Red Sox Series, which is the stuff of history.

Well, back to 11 1/2 more months of not caring a bit about baseball.

On the other hand, I might actually attend a Hereford United football match for the first time in two years. They are top of the table, where they will probably be until late in the season when they will lose out on automatic promotion to the Football League and then lose in the playoffs to spend another year in the Conference.

Posted by david at 02:35 AM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2003

Running the Race Alone

China has entered the space race. They are 40 years behind everyone else. So far behind that the other players have finished, gone home, opened a beer, and sat in from of the telly.

It looks like there is hope for continued exploration of the moon, as I have long advocated. Sadly the country that first went to the moon will not be a part of it. the way things are going, the Chinese will probably be the first to Mars.

Posted by david at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2003

Another Film Review

Now for another installment of Dave's Movie Reviews...

With Aidie at Nana's for the day, Mrs H and I took the opportunity to go to the cinema. To go twice within the space of three weeks is quite extraordinary for us.

Mrs H finally acquiesced to my desire to see Pirates of the Carribean. She was convinced going in that she wasn't going to enjoy it very much. She had a very good time, as did I.

I suppose bits of it were predictable. But unpredictability isn't everything in a film. It was 143 minutes of fast-paced entertainment, with lots of pirates and lots of fights, but lacked reckless high-speed chases, gun fights, and endless repetition of the F word like so many action films.

It's definitely worth the big screen experience, so don't wait for the video.

Posted by david at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

Missing History

The Chicago Cubs are one win away from their first World Series appearance since 1945. Channel 5 here in the UK, which screens live MLB games throughout the year, apparently doesn't have a deal for the playoffs.

I don't think there is a radio network with free Internet streaming audio rights.

Update: Channel 5 are showing the Red Sox/Yankees game tonight starting at 1:00 am here. I would watch that, except that I have to be out the door by 7:30.

Posted by david at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2003

Guantanamo Guano

The US Government has created a serious problem for itself. It invaded Afghanistan, declared anyone who fought against it an unlawful combatant, captured a load of them and shipped them off to Cuba. It was originally suggested that they could be executed for their crime of fighting against US forces in their own country (or in some case in a country where they were invited by the de facto government of the day long before and US forces arrived).

Now since a few of the prisoners are subjects of Her Britannic Majesty, Tony Blair has played his cards to make sure those don't get the intravenous drip of death. What can be done then with the others? The only interim solution is to keep them chained up like dogs and forget about them.

The Government more recently thought they had themselves a spy. The Muslim army chaplain assigned to the prisoners looked like he might have been colluding with them. He was caught with a map of the prison, after all. Not that a chaplain might need a map of the place to find the cage of a particular prisoner. Anyhow, they whisked him off to a Naval brig while they attempted to build a case against him.

It appears now that the best the Army can do is "disobeying orders for improperly handling classified information" because he had "wrongly transported" it. He can still get two years and a bad conduct discharge. In other words, he didn't do anything intentionally wrong, and didn't actually jeopardize national security (or even the security of the Gitmo dog pound) but the Army (and the Government) really needs to save face over this.

I am sure he is not the last halal meat the US will hang up to dry before this is all over, if it ever is over.

Posted by david at 03:55 AM | Comments (0)

Tougher Than It Looks

I haven't paid that much attention to the California gubernatorial recall. I'm sorry to see that the best the Republicans could come up with was a liberal movie star married to one of the most powerful Democrat dynasties in American history.

I noted with interest that it wasn't until after the election that Arnie discovered the state finances to be much worse than he had previously thought. Maybe its not going to be such as easy job putting the land of nuts, fruits, and flakes on a sound footing.

He may be the second actor to become governor of California, but Arnie's no Ronald Reagan. Fortunately he is constitutionally barred from running for the Presidency.

Posted by david at 03:27 AM | Comments (0)


Aidie is now able to ask questions. Well, at least one question.

That is, when he isn't constantly reciting his entire list of known nouns. These must be said twice each time, e.g., "Nana Nana", "phone phone", "Mummy Mummy" "lie lie" (which is the glowing object hanging from the ceiling of each room, as he has trouble some ending consonants).

His question is related to nouns, because he is asking for identification of further objects. Today he was picking a scab from where Bubby had scratched him (something about being pickedup by the fur that she just doesn't like), the whole time saying "whazzaaaat whazzaaaat" over and over.

"What's that?" is clearly the precursor to the three-year-old mantra of "why? why?" This is going to be more difficult. It is must easier to identify objects than it is causality. The other thing about the three-year-old search for reasons is that it never goes away. (Neither does "whazzat" for that matter, though we just don't notice that we are assimilating that information.)

I think three-year-olds and 73-year-olds both have to know why. Neither is entirely happy with what we Orthodox call the apophatic nature of God. We don't want an unknowable God and particularly in the Western mindset there is the assumption that it is God's obligation to reveal Himself to us.

Why do people want a "reasonable" faith? Isn't this a bit of an oxymoron? I have colleagues who assume that unless the acts of God can be rationally understood and explained, they must be at best metaphorical or mythical.

God has given us more revelation about Himself than we can ever hope to understand. Understanding what we can is great. But it is wonderful to know that God is so much bigger than we can understand. That is why I have no trouble believing that bread really is Body and wine really is Blood, or that the universe really was spoken into being. Not metaphorically, but as really really as real can be. If anything those things are the real and what we see is the metaphor.

And at the end of the day, after God has answered "whatzzat?" I dont have to ask "but why?".

Posted by david at 01:03 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2003

Shhh... We're Hunting Wabbits...

Okay, at least I can identify with Elmer Fudd at this point.

Bubby had come very close to becoming rabbit stew. Expensive rabbit stew, but stew nonetheless. For so long I have had visions of a lovely gentle house bunny hopping around and then sitting gently one of our laps. Bubby (who has forfeited any claim to be named after a saint) has just chewed.

So far she has chewed through a pair of Aidan's trousers, a pair of my trousers (my favourite Dockers with the ever-important elasticated waist), the power cord (mild DC current unfortuntely) to the cordless phone base, bits of carpet, and who knows what unseen bits of furniture along the walls. Today on the patio, she was actually picking up the dustpan and flipping it around.

Except for limited supervised visits, Bubby is destined to be an outdoor bunny. We need to get a run for her, since exercise in the back garden means watching her every move so she doesn't get through a fence or attacked by a neighbourhood cat.

I never realised that bunnies could be so much work. I don't mind all the feeding and cleaning (my job, of course). It's all the human supervision that is required.

Posted by david at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2003

Substituting Substitutionary Theory

Mel Gibson's film The Passion will be out soon. This is a good thing. Hopefully a large number of people who have otherwise sidelined Jesus from their lives and who may know nothing of the details of His death will be moved by it and God will work in their hearts.

It has also provided an opportunity for Frederica Mathewes-Green to highlight the differences between the Eastern Church and Western Church on the whole matter of what Jesus' death means to our salvation. Many thanks to Huw Raphael at Doxos for the links to both the original article published at Beliefnet (though I have given you a link to it on her own mailing list so you don't have to deal with the frames and advertising) and the follow up which more fully explains the Orthodox view in both historical and theological contexts.

Posted by david at 01:19 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2003

Employments Rights Are For The Young

If you are going to lose your job in the UK, be sure to do it before your 65th birthday. Until then, you will get redundancy pay. Your employer can't just decide you are no longer needed and change the locks or the entry code, leaving you with no visible means of support. However, turn 65 and you can be turned onto the street. That's what the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided yesterday in overturning a lower decision.

You are entitled to the Government pension of course. As long as you have worked for long enough, you can get as much as £77.45 per week! (That's about $123.00.) That's £333 per month. Taxable, of course. Not that you will pay much tax on just under £4000 per year. But if you were making, say, £30,000 a year at age 64 and are suddenly making £4000 a year at age 65, that can be quite a shock.

Oh but let's say that you have an additional pension with your employer. But, oops, it doesn't fully vest until you are a couple of weeks over 65, because that when you hit the necessary milestone of service to the company. If they can get rid of you during that fortnight during which you have no employment rights, think of the money they have saved!

Oh, I forgot to mention the name of the appellant - the one that fought so hard and won. Was it some big mean heartless ultra-capitalist corporation? Not exactly. It was Her Majesty's big mean heartless socialist Government.

Posted by david at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2003

Al "Rupert Murdoch" Gore

It has been reported that Al Gore is in talks to buy a cable TV channel. He and his group of investors want to set up a liberal news outlet to counteract the Fox News Channel, which is decidedly conservative. The channel they are hoping to buy, Newsworld International, is currently only available in 20 million US homes. They would seem to be hoping that other cable providers would pick it up.

I really don't get this. There are already liberal news outlets available in the US market. I believe they are known as ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN. This is the very reason Fox is doing so well and is the most widely watched news channel in the States. All that Gore will be able to do is take a small slice of this already well-divided pie. He's not going to take any viewers away from Fox.

However, when the Nielsen ratings are released, I'm sure that Al will declare himself the real winner, at least amongst viewers in Florida. In a few years, he will remind us that he actually invented the whole idea of cable news channels.

Posted by david at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2003

Woooo Pig! Sooie!

I don't think they were ranked in the pre-season polls, but Arkansas is now at No. 8 in the AP and No. 9 in the USA Today/ESPN rankings. They have beaten both Texas and Alabama in their 4-0 start to the season.

I attended my first college football games at Razorback Stadium. In fact, the only college football I've seen live outside of Fayetteville was at the 1989 Cotton Bowl, in which Arkansas played a UCLA team quarterbacked by Troy Aikman. I have retained a lingering fondness for UA football, despite the time that certain unnamed players stole hamburgers from me when I had a job delivering fast food to the campus.

One of those players went on to become a eight-time Pro Bowler with the with an unnamed team located about a mile up in the Rocky Mountains - probably one of the reasons I never could like that team. I just Googled that person and there are pages and pages of websites, mostly with memorabilia for sale. I suppose he's still a hot commodity even three years after retirement. He may have even become a nice bloke. I'll never know. I'll only remember him, not for the footballs he intercepted for fumbles he recovered, but rather for other things he took. But you know what? I'm sure he doesn't remember. And even if he did, I doubt he would care. (If you do, Steve, feel free to stop by Burger Plus the next time you are in Fayetteville. It has now been combined with Wes' Hickory Smoked BBQ. )

I don't know the character of the players with the current Razorback squad. I just hope they aren't thieving from some other poor grad student just trying to make a buck. And I hope they continue to do well this season. Go Hogs!

Posted by david at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)