December 30, 2003

Taking Time for a Little Admin

I have made some changes to my list of "Blogs I Visit Regularly". Some of them had not been visited very regularly at all. Others were blogs where I had initiated an intended reciprocal link, but after 6 to 9 months I kind of get the hint. (I don't just do reciprocal links, in case you are wondering.)

I have added a few new blogs, most of which have started since I last updated the links. These include some old friends from Indy, Seraphim Sighs & Wonders and The Grand Unified Mystery. I have also added catachumen Jonathan David's Philalethia.

Posted by david at 01:59 AM | Comments (0)

Violating the National Trust

Could there be anything more traditional than the National Trust? It owns many of the great historic properties in England. Forty-four National Trust properties are licensed for weddings. (Weddings in this country may only be performed in churches, Registry offices, and licensed venues.)

Now every NT property will be available for weddings. Well, not real weddings. The National Trust has teamed up with Pink Weddings, a company that organises gay "marriages". Five properties in various parts of the country will be the first to host "committment ceremonies". Local council sponsored committment ceremonies are due to be replaced with the Government's legally recognised "civil partnerships" next year. However, since they aren't technically weddings, they will not be confined to particular places.

It has been acknowledged that the use of NT properties may be unpopular with the 3 million members of the Trust. But you can't let 3 million people stand in the way of the liberals who have found their way onto the Trust's governing Council. Only half of the Council is elected by the members and the other half is appointed from "kindred bodies". These bodies are laid down in an Act of Parliament.

Members may be finding out about this in the newspaper. It has not been mentioned on the NT's website. I doubt they have received any sort of official notice. However, it is promoted with a full page on the Pink Weddings website (link intentionally omitted).

Posted by david at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2003

Herod is Alive

The Feast of the Holy Innocents

Though this issue has arisen a couple of times recently in this blog, it is appropriate that I mention it again today. Today in the Orthodox Church we commemorate the infants who were ordered by Herod to be killed in his attempt to kill the Saviour of the World.

In an attempt to hold on to power, Herod murdered children. The spirit of Herod is still with us today. Everyone who is willing to sacrifice infants upon the altar of power has the spirit of Herod dwelling within them.

Herod is alive in the Orthodox Church. He comes in various forms. He is Herod Sarbanes and Herodias Snowe, who would sacrifice the unborn on the altar of political power. He is Herod Demetrios and Herod Bartholomeos, who would sacrifice the unborn in the name of the Christ's and His Church to pander favour with the State.

The Herods of this world can build great temples for God, but it is not that for which they will be remembered. Eventually, and inevitably, Herodian temples fall under the judgment of God. The Herods of this world will eventually perish, like the Innocents they put to the sword. However, the Innocents, like the rest of the martyrs, sit beneath the Throne of the Lamb for Whose sake they gave their lives. We know they are not silent, but they cry out "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?''

The bishops of the Orthodox Church, the civil rulers who claim to be members of the Orthodox Church, and every Orthodox believer should bear this in mind when they read the words of our Lord and Saviour as recorded by the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew: "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?''

They should bear this in mind during the litanies in the services of the Church. This is what is at stake when we pray, "Lord, have mercy."

Posted by david at 12:16 AM | Comments (1)

December 28, 2003

What's in a Name?

The PC brigade is at it again. The target: schools named after Confederate leaders. Erenestine Harrison, a substitute teacher with a psychology degree, has started a petition drive in Hampton, Virginia, to change the name of Jefferson Davis Middle School. Her reason? "If I were a kid, especially a teenager, I would be ashamed to tell a friend that I went to Jefferson Davis. Basically, those guys fought for slavery. Of course we can argue over the whole history [of the Civil War], but the end result would be black people would have continued to be in slavery."

So we can argue about it, but as an armchair historian, she's already decided anyway. And she's not a kid, especially not a teenager, and I would put money on it that most of the kids didn't even think about it until she brought it up. A black eighth-grader who says she doesn't pay much attention to the petition effort said, "What are they going to name it, Allen Iverson Middle School?" (The NBA bad boy attended the school.) The girl and her mother call the petition ridiculous.

Harrison was originally fighting to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary as well, but has apparently dropped that drive after learning that Lee didn't own slaves. Seems a bit inconsisitent to me. After all, Lee was more involved in the actually fighting than Jeff Davis. Lee was the one who accepted the responsibility to attempt to win the war.

There is no mention of what she thinks of Hampton's Merrimack Elementary, named after the Confederate naval vessel that famously fought the Monitor nearby.

At least some people are willing to be more consistent. The Orleans Parish School Board in Louisiana has renamed all the schools that were originally named for anyone who owned slaves. Thus George Washington Elementary is now named after a black surgeon from World War II.

So for the sake of consistency, let's remove all the names of Presidents who owned slaves: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, W H Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and (surprise!) U S Grant.

But what I really want to see is total consistency. I think that they should start petitions to change the names of any school bearing the name of any signer of the US Constitution. After all, the Constitution, as they signed it, allowed the importing of slaves until 1808 and acknowledged that slaves were less than others, because they only counted a 3/5 of a person. Surely if these men had any real principles, they wold have refused to sign such a document - a document that perpetuated the condition of involuntary servitude. Orleans Parish needs to rename Benjamin Franklin Elementary and Benjamin Franklin High School as well.

But is that really consistency? Let's go one better. We should obliterate the name from any school of anyone who openly held racist views. Well, there go all the 684 public schools named Lincoln. The mind boggles at the other names that would have to be consign the scrap heap.

Posted by david at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

He Just Keeps Growing

The photos of Aidan on the website were very old. They were from this summer, but at less than two years, a few months makes a lot of difference. So for those of you who have been waiting for something more recent, there are photos from his trip to Texas and from the last couple of days.

Posted by david at 02:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2003

The Return of Bubby

That Wascally Wabbit has been found. The notices that Aidan and I pushed through letterboxes worked - though indirectly.

After we finished Christmas dinner and Aidie went up for his nap, we received a phone call from a man who said, "I think I have your rabbit." He lives down, but on the other side of, the street. I didn't think Bubby would go that direction, so we didn't put a notice through his door. We did put a notice through the door of his brother (or brother-in-law, I can't remember which) who lives on the street behind us.

Bubby was actually found under a parked car yesterday. The bloke rang the RSPCA, and they told him they wouldn't come out and he would have to contain it. He couldn't catch Bubby. He must have mentioned this to his brother. Anyhow, I went up the street and sure enough, there was Bubby. I chased her around the courtyard from car to car. I ran home and got some lettuce and lured her out just enough to grab her.

You would think she would have been grateful that I rescued her and brought her back to the safety of her hutch. Instead, as I was walking home with her securely pinned against my chest, she peed down my leg.

When he got up from his nap, Aidie was pleased to see that Bubby was home. He just assumed she was home from work, so he didn't make a particular fuss. It was always life as normal as far as he was concerned.

Posted by david at 09:23 PM | Comments (2)

Happy Feast!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Posted by david at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2003

What Not to Buy

As we have been placing presents under the tree this evening, Mrs H has been relieved to observe that nothing with her name on it is the size of a paper shredder. Ever since I suggested that this would be a ideal gift for her, she has been afraid I might actually get it.

I just assumed that since she is very keen to manually shred all our documents before they go in the bin, she would find this a useful appliance. She would, but it's not the sort of thing she wants to open on Christmas morning as a show of my love and affection. Apparently, she prefers modest little metal and mineral baubles. I guess I just don't understand women.

Posted by david at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

Texas Christmas in England

While I'm sitting here blogging away, Mrs H is working hard on preparing a Texas Christmas. I didn't ask her to do this. I think she is dually motivated by our absence from the Lone Star State and a desire to create/incorporate some Christmas traditions into our nuclear family.

The only thing she hasn't been able to get ahold of is tamales. Growing up, we always had tamales for Christmas Eve. That's because growing up my mother always had tamales on Christmas Eve. We are having taco soup, which was incorporated into my family at some point, though I can't remember exactly when.

Christmas dinner will be turkey and cornbread dressing, giblet gravy (or gut gravy as we call it), olives stuffed with cream cheese, fruit salad, layered salad, and green bean casserole. The turkey, dressing, and olives are the most important bits. We are also having pumpkin pie and my favourite cherry pie. The cherry pie is a bakeless concoction of cherry pie filling, Cool Whip (or in our present situation, real double cream), sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice (as a setting agent). In this country the crust is made of digestive biscuits and butter, as you can't get Graham cracker crust. It is a bit rich. I could eat the whole pie. In fact, when I was a bachelor I occasionally made this pie for myself and it would last a couple of days.

All of the chocolate chip peanut butter cookies and pecan tassies have been made. There are other traditional cookies that could be made, but I have discouraged Mrs H from making too many, as she is already doing a lot.

I should mention I'm not just leaving Mrs H to slave away in the kitchen. Besides watching the sprog, and trying to keep him out of trouble, I did offer to cut up the green onions, but Mrs H refused my offer of assistance.

Posted by david at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)

Bubby at Large

Missing: young flop-eared rabbit - tortoise (dark brown/orange mixed) coat - if she wanders into your garden, please return to...

I can print five of those to a page.

Bubby has escaped from her hutch and headed off to parts unknown. It happened sometime in the wee hours. We haven't explained to Aidie that she is probably not coming back.

Posted by david at 11:30 AM | Comments (3)

The Further Depths of Scandal

I began this as a reply to a comment by Aaron (he of Violent Munkee fame) on my blog of this past Sunday. However, the significance of it grew as I typed, deserving a separate entry so it didn't get lost to the general reader.

The previous entry concerned the consistent pro-abortion voting record of the two Orthodox US Senators and the positive relationship that Sen Sarbanes has with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Further to this:

Senator Sarbanes is a Archon of the Church. Apparently, an Archon is sworn "to defend and promote the Greek Orthodox faith and tradition. His special concern and interest is to serve as a bulwark to protect the Patriarchate and its mission." As a cradle Orthodox, you could say that Sen. Sarbanes had no say in his baptismal vows. However, he has no excuse whatsoever for violating his vows as a Archon.

If you think it is just Archbishop Demetrios and his predecessors who have condoned Sarbanes, do not be deceived. During his visit to the US in 1997, after praising the lay-leaders of the Maryland generally, His All-Holiness said:

But among them all, as Ecumenical Patriarch, we desire to single out one man who sums up your love for the Mother Church, for Orthodox culture, for the highest Christian ideals: Senator Paul Sarbanes. [Archon Megas Logothetis of the Great Church of Christ.] We express our fatherly pride in this accomplished son of the Mother Church; for his unwavering pursuit of righteousness and truth in both his public service to the Church and to the people of the United States of America. Well done, good and faithful servant!

This is a scandal of scandals. This is the epitome of calling evil "good" and good "evil".

Aaron asked what can be done to spotlight the problem. Simply put, the issue has to be important enough to enough priests that they put enough pressure the hierarchs to do something. Is the Patriarch going to care what one insignificant layman in backwater England says? Or one insignificant layman in California?

However, we have to remember that the laity have run hierarchs out of town before when they acted in repugnance to the teaching of the Church. I have no problem saying that any hierarch with jurisdiction who has had this brought to their attention and has done nothing in their power to address it has seriously weakened, if not fatally damaged their moral authority to speak as one to whom the Faith of the Fathers, the Faith once for all delivered to the saints, has been entrusted.

Posted by david at 01:48 AM | Comments (2)

December 23, 2003

Testing with the Nation

I kept a scorecard during BBC's Test the Nation 2003 last night. Unlike the original Test the Nation, this was not an IQ test, but rather examined awareness of current events over the last year.

If it hadn't been for questions about TV soap operas, I would have done better than my raw score of 53 out of 70. However, even with this score, I was in the top 10% of those taking the test online and by text messsaging.

So I may not know what is happening in Coronation Street, and couldn't remember where Dirty Den was for 15 years before returning to EastEnders (he was in Spain), but otherwise I seem to have at least as good a grasp of what's going on in the world everyone else.

Posted by david at 03:25 PM | Comments (3)

December 22, 2003

Ebenezer Blair

In the US, dependents are taken into account before money is withheld from paychecks. This is not the case in the UK. As I have mentioned before, the Government has created a complex system of child tax credits and working tax credits, so that after it takes the same amount of money away from everyone regardless of family situation, it can then give back the right amount to everyone who shouldn't have had it taken off in the first place. It also takes money off of unemployment benefits and pays money back to those same people not in work. It requires a great amount of legwork on the part of the taxpayer/credit recepient to get the credits in place, but it is essential because it forms an important part of the family budget for over 6,000,000 Britons.

Now the Government has discovered that it has overpaid in thousands of cases. Of course it wants its money back. Now. As a result, in the days before Christmas, families have received notices that not only has their weekly budget been cut, but they bank accounts will be drained as well.

The Government's Paymaster General has gone on the telly to assure everyone that no one will suffer hardship. They can get top-up payments from the Inland Revenue. All they have to do it ring. Just like they had to do when the Government screwed up the system to start with in April and 500,000 people hadn't gotten their payments by late May.

Then they will have to send in all of their supporting documentation -- bills, leases, bank statements, blood samples, first-born child, etc., and wait 12 weeks or so to get any response from Inland Revenue. Well, unless the Revenue officer puts in in the wrong basket and then no one takes responsibility for it...

Yes, thanks to HM Treasury, it looks to be a very unmerry Christmas and not a very happy New Year for a lot of British families.

Posted by david at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2003

So Much for Excommunication

In the wake of the vote on partial-birth infanticide in the US Senate, I commented on the importance of excommunicating the two Orthodox senators, as they have consistently promoted the death of the unborn in contravention to the moral teaching of the Church. As I was rummaging through various jurisdictional websites in preparing to blog on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers and the Forefeast of the Nativity, I surfed to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America site, normally a quite useful resource. There on the homepage amongst the news and events was "Senator Paul Sarbanes Visits Archbishop Demetrios". Wishfully and fleetingly I thought that perhaps the Senator had been summoned to answer for his actions.

Instead, how did the Archbishop describe the visit? “Being with the Senator is always a great joy and a great source for exchange of ideas. He is one of the people that has wisdom in political, international and cultural issues. He is someone who is a combination of a scholar and a politician. Therefore, it is more than enjoyable to be with him and have the opportunity to discuss issues of general interest, of current affairs -- political and otherwise -- and issues that are in the center of attention of contemporary people, here and in other parts of the Globe.”

This does not sound like someone who has been taken to task or called to repent. Nowhere on in the pages of the GOA website could I find a condemnation of the actions of Senator Sarbanes, even though I did find this:

The Orthodox Church has a definite, formal and intended attitude toward abortion. It condemns all procedures purporting to abort the embryo or fetus, whether by surgical or chemical means. The Orthodox Church brands abortion as murder; that is, as a premeditated termination of the life of a human being. The only time the Orthodox Church will reluctantly acquiesce to abortion is when the preponderance of medical opinion determines that unless the embryo or fetus is aborted, the mother will die. Decisions of the Supreme Court and State legislatures by which abortion, with or without restrictions, is allowed should be viewed by practicing Christians as an affront to their beliefs in the sanctity of life.

Even though it refers to the Supreme Court and State legislatures, the statement comes from a Clergy-Laity Congress which long pre-dates federal action on this issue. Surely the US Senate is contemplated as well.

If Archbishop Demetrios will not take a stand, other heirarchs must. The bishops of the Church must take a stand for the unborn. They must call to account those who would claim to be Orthodox and yet lead this nation in the slaughter of innocent children.

Posted by david at 03:56 PM | Comments (6)

December 20, 2003

His Own Little FIFA-dom

For all of you dispensationalists with your prophesy charts at the ready, it may surprise you to learn that there is already a one-world government. It is called FIFA and the Beast at the head of it is Sepp Blatter. If you are looking for a model of the world under the control of a tyrant, just look at football - the original kind that some people call "soccer", not the North American version of rugby played with helmets and pads.

Blatter is kept in power by the equal voting rights of all the developing nations. When he was last up for election, he promised them the sun, moon, and stars if they kept him in power.

I'm no lover of Manchester United, but when Rio Ferdinand missed a drugs test through what seems a reasonable excuse, United let him continue to play until the matter was adjudicated by the England Football Association (FA). Blatter was unhappy and criticised United, insisting that players should be considered guilty until proven innocent. Blatter even questioned the validity of United matches in which Ferdinand has played since the missed test (even though he tested clean less than two days later). He has done this even though the rules are clear that Rio is free to play.

United made it clear that it didn't appreciate Mr Blatter interfering and that he was clearly out of line. But Sepp wasn't to be hampered by little things like the rules and certainly not by the propriety of non-interference in internal English FA matters. Nor was he going to countenance the suggested that football is not his personal fiefdom.

He put the screws to the FA commissioners hearing the case. The same body in an identical case in May over a missed test by a Manchester City player gave a £2000 fine and no suspension. They gave Ferdinand a £50,000 fine (that's US$85,000) and an 8-month suspension. He was also ordered to pay all the costs of the two-day hearing. This causes him not only to lose all of the remaining season with United, but also prevents him from playing for England in Euro 2004 (the quadrennial Euro-only version of the World Cup). It is one month short of the ban Mark Bosnich received for a positive test for cocaine.

Like I said, I have no particular love for Man United. However, I have only loathing for tyrants.

Posted by david at 02:46 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2003

Agenda-Driven Academia

Readers of my recent Meandering who thought for some reason that I'm some sort of misogynist because women can't be priests (and the whole point of that small part of the Meandering was to blame God, not me - as if I'm somehow responsible for what is and is not in the eternal order of all things) will certainly not like the latest burr in my saddle.

In an recent academic setting, one of the people who opposed my view (and that of a fellow Orthodox colleague) on women priests explained her opposition on was based upon what she had been taught in her very first class at university. Then she mentioned that her degree is in Women's Studies.

I can't recall where she said she got her degree, but at a nearby university, "Women's Studies is the study of power and gender relationships. It enables you to learn about women's experiences and achievements and to devise strategies for social change." So in their own words, it is only study insofar as it enables the student be active in a particular ideological agenda. You think I'm making this up? Jumping to conclusions? Well, the next sentence continues, "Women's Studies offers the opportunity to study across disciplines and / or within individual fields on women-centred, feminist-based issues."

One course in this degree "examines paradigms based upon recent scholarship which questions and contrasts with androcentric assumptions in ‘traditional’ methodologies, theories and research." How loaded and biased is that? But what really needs questioning here is how they decided that even methods of scholarship and research are so "androcentric" as to be questionable. In other words, the only way feminists can create anything of any academic credibility is to simply redefine credibility.

That's why to get anything out of this degree, students need this course in "Feminist Research Methods" where "Students are introduced to the range of methodologies particularly appropriate for interdisciplinary studies of women and gender. The module examines androcentric theory, gender as a construct and feminist research practice."

The course on "Gender, Power, and Subversion" is not just focued on the horrors of patriarchal societies. No. What is it they are wanting to subvert? Well, the course "considers the strategies available to women for exploiting and destabilising gender boundaries." So exploit the boundaries when it is to their advantage and destablise them when it is not.

Now I hate to state the obvious, but since it clearly may not be obvious to some... Do you think that the purveyors of women's studies would support the destablising of gender boundaries in political correctness and support the development of men's studies departments and degrees? Should their be courses in challenging feminist assumptions? Do they really want academic parity? And should masculinist academics be free to use the same kind of terminology about women as feminists use about men?

Who am I kidding? There is no way that that the detesticulated (and of course atesticular) principalities and powers in the decision making positions of academia would ever consider such a thing.

And while I'm at it, here's another thing. I noticed that the University of Central England offers a BA (Hons) in women's health. Why is there not a corresponding degree in men's health? Is this related to the fact that in 1997£4.4 million was spent on breast cancer research and £47,000 was spent on prostate cancer? Perhaps it is part of their self-avowed destablising subversion to just kill off as many men as possible through medical neglect.

As 60% of medical students in the UK are female, surely the focus will remain on women's health. After all, isn't it one of the premises of feminist studies that the dominant gender has safeguarded its own interests?

Posted by david at 01:17 AM | Comments (2)

December 18, 2003

The Country in the Mirror

Holding prisoners for years without charging them is not something unique to Asian dictatorships. It's not even confined in the West to the US Government and the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The UK Government is holding at least 14 suspected terrorists. It has been holding them for over two years.

It is not holding them while the Crown builds a case against them. There is no preparation for trial of any kind. They are just being held. Apparently any evidence that would be offered in court is just too sensitive.

The UK is the only country in Europe to hold prisoners without charge in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Posted by david at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

Addressing the Soviet Legacy

I read recently that at least 18 journalists have been murdered in the Ukraine since it became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. Volodymyr Karachevtsev is the latest victim. It probably didn't come as a surprise when the end came. He had been receiving death threats for some time. Seems he kept snooping around links between local officials and certain businessmen.

Some of the deaths have been linked directly to President Kuchma. He's not the sort of bloke who wants to be scrutinized very closely. Kuchma was made from the same mold as other leaders of post-Soviet republics.

The Ukraine has Kuchma, Uzbekistan has Karimov, Kazakhstan has Nazarbayev, Turkmenstan has Niyazov - strongmen who brook no opposition. Brutal dictators, yet we hear so little criticism from the West. With American forces built up in neighbouring countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems like it would be a relatively easy task to ensure democracy in the whole region. Unless we are just picking and choosing which dictators to knock off, of course.

Posted by david at 08:48 PM | Comments (5)

Deepening the Bottomless Coffers

I know I harp on about this, but it seems that week by week the situation ges more ridiculous. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has now decided that as there were only 1.1 million convictions from speed cameras in 2001, and over 2 million this year, something must be done.

They intend to lower the trigger speed. Currently the camera fire only at 35mph in a 30mph zone and 46 in a 40. Now the threshold will be lowered to 33mph and 43mph respectively. The goal is to get 3 million convictions in 2004.

Under the current rules, camera can only be placed on roads where there has been four serious injury accidents in the last three years. This is not a very difficult criterion to meet. At least it keep the pretense that cameras are linked to road safety. The head of ACPO has now said that he wants to see cameras where there is no history of crashes. He said, “The guidelines are going to have to be loosened. As we eliminate crash hotspots we are going to have to look elsewhere to reduce casualties.”

He didn't explain how he was going to reduce casualties in places where no casualties are occuring. I think what he meant was, "As we eliminate crash hotspots, we are going to have to look elsewhere for more cash hotspots." After all, with the lower speed threshold and the existing camera locations, they will only be able to raise £180 million.

Posted by david at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

Jet Lag

What do you do with a two-year-old who is wide awake at 1:00am? After all, he thinks it is 7:00, normally bath time. Unfortunately, he had his bath at the real 6:45 and two naps on either side.

Mrs H and Aidie have been in Texas for the last three weeks. Aidie had not problem with jat lag going over, but it appears that the effects of the return trip will not be as smooth. Mummy would like to get back on the right schedule, but unfortunately Daddy has to be up early for work. On top of this, Aidie is having to go cold turkey with withdrawals from weeks of grandparent spoiling and attention.

We are fortunately that Aidie is only mildy exhibiting the terrible twos under normal circumstances.

Posted by david at 01:09 AM | Comments (2)

December 14, 2003

The Great Compromise Revisited

The European Union is trying to write a new constitution in preparation for an influx of new members which will bring the total to 25. The most recent meeting of what could be considered a Euro “Constitutional Convention” has ended in deadlock. Seems they can’t decide how the member states will be represented.

Not surprisingly, the big states, such as Germany and France, want representation based upon population. They assumed they were going to get their way. After all, when it comes to matters Euro, they usually do. Less populous countries like Spain and Poland want equal representation for each. So Poland scuppered the deal. Poland not letting the Germans have what they want? Is this a good idea? Have they forgotten what happened the last time?

Since I haven’t been employed as a consultant, and because I’m a Euro-sceptic, I hate to solve the problem for them. It’s not like I have to come up something new. This has been done before. As they are trying to create a United States of Europe, it seems to me they should look to the most successful United States created so far. Give both sides what they want and create a bicameral legislature.

Unfortunately, since most of Europe is very Ameri-sceptic, I’m sure they will come up with something different. Since most Americans aren’t even aware of what the Europeans are doing, I doubt that anyone from that side of the Pond has offered advice. (Pop quiz for American readers: without referring to an Internet source, how many of the countries about to join the EU can you name?)

Posted by david at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2003

What the Media Doesn't Know It Doesn't Know

I'm getting very tired of all the mick taking around Donald Rumsfeld's knowns and unknowns. He even won some "award" for gobbledy gook. Everyone seems to think he makes no sense.

Politics aside, what all the journalists and comedians need is even the most basic understand of logic. There is nothing silly or convoluted about "known knowns", "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns". We experience them in everyday life, whether we are intelligent enough to categorise our knowledge or not.

"Known knowns" should be pretty obvious. I just came back from the supermarket, so I'll use it as an illustration. If we have a large box of apples, we known that we know the ones on the top are red.

It is a "known unknown" that we don't know what colour the one below are, though we known there are apples underneath, and we known they are either red or yellow or green. Whether there are any more boxes of apples in the back of the store is also a "known unknown" because we don't have basis for knowning whether the supermarket recieves shipments of apples on Thursday.

However, that the supermarket has stopped carrying apples altogether after these boxes are sold is an "unknown unknown" because we have no clue that stocking or not of apples is or was even under consideration.

If journalists had half a brain and less of agenda, they would realise that they are the ones who are really silly in this whole thing.

Posted by david at 10:46 PM | Comments (4)

December 08, 2003

As Time Goes By

I was listening to Christian music radio on the Net this evening and it reminded me of the days when I first started playing coffeehouses and other small venues. It was the mid-80s and I was trying to break into the Austin scene. Though it was mostly me and the twelve-string, I had my first experience playing with a proper band. You know, drums, bass, and all that. Okay, there wasn't much "all that" - just drums and bass - but other people actually wanted to play my music with me. Okay, they only did it once, but I still remember that night. I even had an opening act. Okay, it was one of my college housemates, but still. I also still owe Wendell Fry $10 from his cut of the offering, so if you see him...

It's hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago. I still remember the outfit I wore. Green silk jacket with the sleeves rolled up. Green plaid shirt with red metalic stripes running through it. Thin red tie and my trademark red belt. Brand new trainers, though I can't remember if it was my Kaepa or Reebok phase. White trousers that even then molded to my skinny lower half. 28-inch waist. Ten inches smaller than I wear now. And it was fashionable. Honest. I had a bit of a reputation as a fashion plate.

It's hard to believe that I played some of those songs for years. One of the songs I wrote for electric guitar with my one-time bass player became the standard opening number for my acoustic sets:

What is love? Is it just a feeling
That's burning in my heart
No I think that It's something different than that
Ol' familiar spark
When you gave Your life as a sacrifice
You gave new meaning to old words
And now your has surrounded me
There's no place I can turn

I'm caught in Your love...

By the way, you can sing "words" and "turn" so it almost sounds like they rhyme.

Another song I debuted at that show was the opening number for just about every show I did with the ad hoc Band. I won't bore you with the lyrics. It's just hard to believe that it has been more than nine years since David Holford and the ad hoc Band turned off the amps and put away the mikes for the last time. The bittersweetness of nostalgia.

In my teens, twenties, and half of my thirties, I would have never envisaged a time when I didn't pick up a guitar on an almost daily basis. I wouldn't have imagined I would go four years without even changing strings. I've had a set waiting in the package in the case for over two years now. I used to have six guitars. Now I don't play the one I have.

I've had that guitar almost as long as I've had my oldest friends. I can't remember the exact month I got it, but it must be coming up on 23 years ago. It wasn't my first guitar, and it wasn't new when it was given to me, but it became my trademark. I can think now of the aspiring guitarists who bought twelve-strings because of it and me.

I've rambled on here long enough and most of you have stopped reading by now. I think I'll go upstairs and catch up with my old friend.

Posted by david at 10:46 PM | Comments (2)

December 07, 2003

If You Don't Have the Three, You Don't Have the One

I have been so busy that Ihaven't wandered around the blogosphere much in the last few days. I glad I did a little catching up, because I came across a great post and ensuing comments on Clifton Healy's blog about why Christians do not worship the same God as Jews and Muslims. He even suggests that it is insulting to them to insist that they do.

Posted by david at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

Be Warmed and Filled

The Central Methodist Church of Dudley was in the news yesterday. It's always good to see a church in the news. Okay, not always...

Seems about 60 members of the church were having a party when a naked or nearly-naked man asked to come in out of the freezing temperatures. Apparently they didn't realise that when St James said, "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" he was suggesting this was the wrong thing to do.

The feasting church members gave him a blanket, sandwich and hot drink and handed them to him, but left him out in the cold. The Rev Ivor Sperring told the inquest that the man’s behaviour was threatening. "He was picking up plastic and banging it on the ground. Most of the people were older than him and didn’t feel they would be able to deal with the situation. He was nothing more than a nuisance. We felt we weren’t in a position to deal with it because of his behaviour, his nudity, and there was something sinister about the way he was breaking things.”

So he didn't get inside the church and do anything sinister. Instead, he died outside in the cold from hypothermia. Sounds lije the kind of thing Jesus was talking about when he said, "I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me." I hope they don't answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?"

Though I think 60 people, even if they were over-60s (as was the naked man) could have controlled him enough to eject him had he become violent. To be fair to them, they aren't the only culprits. The church did ring the police to deal with the situation. Apparently the cops had just sat down for their coffee and donuts, because it took them three hours to arrive.

Either the church or the cops could have prevented this man's death. However, I don't think Jesus will be referring to the cops when He says "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me."

Posted by david at 02:57 AM | Comments (3)

December 06, 2003

Facing Defeat

It may surprise my American readers, but up until recently, the British Government paid for undergraduate university education. Students used to receive a grant to live (albeit to live like students, sustained with beans on toast) and it was unthinkable that they would pay anything for the education itself.

Then the number of students attending university and other budgetary concerns made the busary untenable. The Government went from paying students to live to loaning students money to live. These loans were to be paid back without interest when the graduate was making above a threshold salary and then on a graduated scale. Thus began the first step down the slippery slope.

The Government began charging tution fees, but only to families that had a threshold income. Even married students are assessed fees based upon their parents' income for the first two years of marriage. After all, since so many more students were going to university, somebody has to pay for it.

Now that the Government wants 50% of the population to go through higher education by 2010, and has lowered the entrance requirements to get them in, there is even less money to go around. At the top of the Government's agenda in this new Parliament is the introduction of top-up fees on top of tuition fees. These will be up to £3,000 a year. Of course loans will be available, so everyone will be able to go. They will just come out of university with enormous debt. Sounds like America, doesn't it?

Tony Blair is facing defeat in the House of Commons. The opposition to top-up fees in his own party is so strong that many of them are not only planning to vote against the PM, they don't care if his authority is so undermined that he has to resign. For Blair it could be a situation worse than the opposition to the war in Iraq. He shouldn't be surprised since the 2001 Labour Party Election Manifesto (that the official party platform) specifically said there would be no top-up fees that that the Party had always been opposed to them. There is also the hypocrisy of Blair and his Cabinet getting paid to go to top universities and then denying the following generation the same opportunity.

Tony's Labour colleagues like the idea of everyone getting a university education -- they just want the taxpayer to fund it. But that's where the fundamental flaw is. The creation of a nation of university graduates is not going to result in a nation of higher paying jobs. The same jobs, with the same wages, will be there on the other side.

Well, not all of the same jobs. There will be an even greater shortage of skilled tradesmen, such as plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, and the like. Uni grads in psychology and media studies can't fix boilers, but they can flip burgers and get fries with that.

Posted by david at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2003


Yes, it's the moment you have all be waiting for. A new issue of David's Mental Meanderings is out -- it comes with a special announcement.

Posted by david at 08:13 PM | Comments (3)

December 01, 2003

Visit Israel, If It's the Last Thing You Do

In an effort to boost tourism, the Israeli government is spending £2 million on an advertising campaign. With slogans like "Get Your Camera and We'll Get that Perfect Shot", it's sure to be a winner.

I can imagine them doing little sound-bite clips of tourists saying things like, "I visited a historic settlement in Gaza dating way back to the late 20th century. What I saw was so amazing, you could have knocked me down with a bulldozer!"

As one public relations expert said, "You can’t sell Israel with images of soldiers and reassuring safety messages." I don't think he realised that this is oxymoronic. After all, tourists may get attacked in Israel, but it usually isn't by terrorists.

I would just suggest that if you are visiting Manger Square this Christmas, you should probably run across it in a random zigzag pattern -- just in case the IDF mistake you for an altar boy.

Posted by david at 11:34 PM | Comments (4)