January 31, 2004


It appears that the Government are the only ones who actually believe the findings of the Hutton report. For my Stateside readers, this is the report on the inquiry concerning whether the BBC's Andrew Gilligan incorrectly exposed the Government faking and "sexing up" intelligence information concerning the war in Iraq and how the name of Dr David Kelly was revealed at the source of information, which led to his apparent suicide. Is that convoluted enough?

Lord Hutton, appointed by the Government, came up with the conclusion that the Government - wait for the startling revelation - did nothing wrong. While they are busy demanding apologies from the BBC, the Tory front bench, and anyone else who might have suggested that they have the moral backbone of a jellyfish, the public don't buy it. It has led to the resignation of the chairman of the BBC board of governors Gavyn Davies and the corporation's Director-General Greg Dyke.

Even with their own man at the top of the day-to-day operations (Dyke was a big New Labour supporter prior to his appointment as D-G), the Government were unable to keep it in line. As a result, the Government is looking to set more controls to make sure any reports about it are 100% accurate. That would be 100% accurate in reciting the Government's official position as the truth.

When comparing the BBC and the Government, it is hard to pick a favourite. The Beeb is not unbiased. Whilst I have been ambivalent about the war, the Beeb has pursued an anti-war agenda generally and anti-Bush agenda unabashedly. Nonetheless, this bias may have driven it toward the investigative journalism that exposed the Government.

Even though most people believe the Beeb, or at least believe it more than the Government in this particular instance, this doesn't seem to matter one bit to the Number 10 Spin Machine. After all, just because only 27% of the public believe the Government in the wake of Hutton, this probably will not be enough to keep them out of power at the next election.

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

January 30, 2004

Link Update

Thanks to a comment made to yesterday's post, I have now linked to another Ortho-blogger, Laura's Front Porch.

Posted by david at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2004

Snow? Where Did That Come From?

You would think that a country that spends so much time in the cold would be prepared to handle a little winter weather.

If a flake of snow falls, the nation grinds to a halt. People are stuck in traffic for eight or nine hours trying to get home from work, in many cases justs a couple of miles down the road. That's what happened in Birmingham yesterday. Last year, it was people spending the night on the M11 motorway in East Anglia. The same motorway was trouble again, as were the M1, M4, and countless other major roads.

Here in the Shire, we had minimal snow and ice. Minimal enough that the class I had to attend went ahead. However the high school where my class was being held shut for the day. The buses refused to go pick up pupils out in the country.

Up in Scotland, where they really should be ready for this, 11 principle highways were shut.

In London, seven Tube lines had disruptions. Four of them had no service for most of the day. Weather problems with the Underground - most of which is, well, rather obviously, under ground? Above ground parts of central London were at a standstill. The capital was in chaos. What shut down a city of 8 million? A snowfall that varied from less than a inch to a massive two inches in some places.

This was not some sort of freak, unexpected spate of bad weather. They started talking about it on the television news over a week ago. It's not like there wasn't time to get prepared. Any readers in the US living anywhere north of Dallas would find this situation laughable.

Posted by david at 11:33 PM | Comments (2)

January 28, 2004


Blair is risen from the dead. Not like Jesus. More like Jason or Freddy Kruger.

The Hutton report cleared him of any wrongdoing. It even seems to have cleared the Defense Secretary, Geoff Hoon.

Who will deliver us from this evil?

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

January 27, 2004

So Close

The ayes to the right, 316; the noes to the left, 311.

Just three stinking votes and Tony Blair would have been defeated in the Commons over the Education Bill. We know where two of those votes came from. One of the Rebel leaders went over to the Dark Side and took one of his followers with him.

Except for heavy lobbying by the PM himself, the vote would have been lost to the Government. It would have resulted in a confidence motion and Blair's premiership might have been fatally wounded.

There is still hope, but it is growing dim. The Hutton Report is being released to the public tomorrow. The Government already got their advance copy and are preparing their answer to it. The Opposition only get it three hours in advance of publication. However, if it condemns the Government generally and TB specifically for naming Dr David Kelly and contributing to his alleged suicide, perhaps advanced notice will be unimportant.

We just have to wait and see.

Posted by david at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2004

Government Endorsing Post-Natal Infanticide

Why do we need rid of this Government? Tuition fees? No. General untruthfulness? No. It is because they are advised by people like this.

A Government adviser on genetics has suggested that it may be acceptable to destroy babies with “defects” soon after birth.

As reported in The Times:

John Harris, a member of the Human Genetics Commission, told a parliamentary meeting last week that he did not see any moral difference in aborting a fully grown unborn baby at 40 weeks and committing infanticide.

Harris, professor of bioethics at Manchester University, declined to say what defects might justify terminating the baby’s life, or the maximum permissible age for such a course of action.

But yesterday he was reported to have said that he did not think infanticide was always unjustifiable. He did not believe there was any “moral change” that occurred during the journey down the birth canal.

Harris, who also advises Britain’s doctors as a member of the British Medical Association’s ethics committee, is said to have argued that there was no moral difference between terminating a foetus found by tests to have defects and one where the parents only discovered the abnormalities at birth.

Harris was speaking at the the launch of a public consultation on whether laws governing test-tube baby clinics should be tightened in the light of new technology. It was chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy, who also chairs the Human Genetics Commission.

Ian Gibson, MP, chairman of the science and technology committee, said: “The debate was principally about designer babies and sex selection. Harris said everything in this area must be open for consideration and infanticide could not be ruled out.”

In the past Harris has spoken of the need to allow people to buy and sell human organs as a means of increasing the supply for transplant operations. He also recently expressed support for sex selection for social reasons among babies. “If it isn’t wrong to wish for a bonny, bouncing baby girl, why would it be wrong to make use of technology to play fairy godmother?” he said.

The spokesperson of the Pro-Life lobby group, Julia Millington, who attended the debate, said: “It is frightening to think that university students are being educated by somebody who endorses the killing of newborn babies, and equally worrying to discover that such a person is the Establishment’s ‘preferred’ bioethicist.”

Harris is correct that there is no difference in aborting a fully grown unborn baby at 40 weeks and committing post-natal infanticide. It's just that he has no problem with either one.

Posted by david at 10:32 PM | Comments (2)

January 25, 2004

Now We Are Two

Two years ago prior the very moment I am typing this, Aidan was pulled from the womb and his arrival announce to the operating theatre. After 52 hours of labour, Mrs H was subjected to an emergency c-section. It was an unforgettable experience. It was joy and fear at their highest levels mixed together because Aidie didn't want to breathe initially and the consultant paediatrician was called to theatre. However after just a few moments of attention, all was well. Within minutes after this, I put his first nappy and clothes on him.

Because the event is so unforgettable, it may seem contradictory to say that it is difficult to remember life before Aidie. It is like he has always been a part of our lives. I vaguely remember the 2½ years of married life when our schedule wasn't completely beholden to the needs of the child, but it is all in the dim and distant past. (That being said, Mrs H is convinced that I haven't broken free from the years of bachelorhood when my life revolved entirely around myself.) Or as we began to say soon after his arrival, "Everything is about Little Boy."

Mrs H's best friend just had her second child and as we were visiting them I looked at the newborn and realised two things. First, I would never name a child "Alfie". His name's not Alfred - just Alfie. Anyhow, second, so much happens in the first 24 months of post-natal life (not suggesting that extraordinary don't happen in the nine pre-natal months). Just two years ago, Aidie was as tiny (give or take a couple of pounds) and helpless as Alfie. Today, in some ways, it is hard to believe that he is only two.

I marvel more and more at the amount of information he has absorbed and the rate at which he is absorbing it. He may not be able to say a lot of complete sentences, but he has an amazing vocabulary. He has, for example, learned just about every unsanctified word in my repetoire. He has practically memorised his favourite books, not to be able to recite them, but he can fill in the next word wherever there is a pause in the reading. I thought this was limited to the current bedtime books he likes, which are quite short and simple. I learned from Mrs H that he can even do this with the more complex and tongue-twisting Cat in the Hat.

I've mentioned before that he knows the gist of all of the stories in his Bible story book and can describe the action in the illustrations. It seems like only yesterday that he was only looking for pictures of infants so he could point and say "Baby!" Not surprisingly his first favourite story was that of Solomon, the two mothers and the two babies.

Aidie is very far from being helpless. While I have been jealous of any of his contemporaries who can speak fluently (though Mrs H has tried to console me my suggesting that this is because they are abnormal), he has certainly excelled physically. He has very advanced fine motor skills, untying knots and opening triple-action stair gates. He is very strong (which is good for carrying the shopping) and can run very fast (which is not good for taking him shopping).

One of the down-sides of being an older parent is the perception of time. For a parent of 20, it takes just as long for a child to grow up as it does for a parent of 40 (or in my case, weeks shy of 40). However, having been 20, I know how much faster time seems to pass. In the blink of an eye, Aidie will be grown. The available days to pray for him to make the right decisions and follow the right paths are so few. The power of those prayers is so weak.

It is moments of realisation such as this that it is comforting to remember that we do not pray alone on this side of heaven. We have committed him to the prayer list of our fathers among the saints Aidan of Lindisfarne and David of Wales. It is doubtless through their prayers more than mine (and certainly more than from my example) that he loves Jesus like he does (and has good developing Christology, but more on that another time).

Holy Father Aidan, pray to God for us!
Holy Father David, pray to God for us!

Lord, remember your servant Aidan and grant him many years!

Posted by david at 12:49 AM | Comments (1)

January 24, 2004

And When You Pray, Say...

Normally when we pray at mealtimes, Aidie is already seated and strapped into his booster chair. Why we put the belt on, I don't know, as he often spends the rest of the time unfastening it and fastening it back again.

Today at lunch I was attempting to put him in his chair when he kept shrugging me away and saying "pray! pray!" He went over to the bookcase where the icons are propped up (awaiting to be fixed in the yet-to-be ascertained icon corner) and moved his hand vigorously over his chest.

He has decided that he should stand to pray like everyone else.

Now that he can count to ten unaided (twenty with help) and name the nine planets with only occasional prompts, perhaps it is time to begin on the Lord's Prayer.

Posted by david at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2004

Violent Crime Still on the Rise

Official crime figures have been released today. Less serious offences of violence against the person rose 17% when comparing the third quarter of 2003 with the same period in 2002. Serious violent crime rose by 18%. I suppose it is encouraging that gun crime only rose by 2%.

The Government's response to this news has been to declare that we are actually safer today than a year ago. It is obvious to them that it is just that more people are reporting crime now.

However, if for some reason people in deprived neighbourhoods don't feel safe -- even though, of course, they should -- the Government will now give them the option to vote for an annual levy to raise money for additional officers. Yes, that's right, if people in poor areas want more policing, they will have to pay more for it. They won't actually get real cops - they will get "community support officers". These are security guards without uniforms. Of course they are unarmed - even the real cops are unarmed.

This levy will be on top of the regular council tax, to which the Government wants to add a local income tax, costing taxpayers an average of an extra £537 per year.

They have never explained why having made guns illegal gun crime doesn't go down. To make extra sure that citizens cannot defend themselves against crime, the Government has also introduced harsher sentences for possession of an illegal firearm (that's any handgun and most rifles). It will now cost five years of freedom.

Posted by david at 12:08 AM | Comments (1)

January 22, 2004

The Other Doctor Death

Thanks to Karl for the link to the Lawrence Journal-World article about Tiller the Killer's special offer of free third trimester abortions to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

We are all sinners, but there are some people who are so openly and vilely evil that it simply boggles the mind and depresses the soul. George Tiller makes Harold Shipman look almost saintly. At least Shipman the Hitman didn't flaunt his mass murder. He just quitely went about his business of injecting unsuspecting OAPs with diamorphine and signing their death certificates. He finally had the decency to top himself, since this country doesn't have the testicular fortitude to have just punishment.

Tiller wants all the world to know that he kills babies - that he loves butchering big healthy babies. Yet in his country as well there is no will to call what he does "murder" and punish it.

God have mercy on both countries.

Posted by david at 10:09 PM | Comments (1)

January 21, 2004

Night Moves

I remember as a child getting into my parents' bed in the middle of the night. I almost always got in on my dad's side. I don't know why. Perhaps because he was the heavier sleeper and there was generally a little sliver of mattress available. When my brother got to that age, he generally took the middle.

I am older than most of my generation in experiencing for the first time the other side of this universal parent-child phenomenon. Now that Aidie is in his big boy bed, he inevitably makes the trek to ours. If it is too early in the evening, i.e., before Mrs H can't be bothered to either cajole or drag him back to his room, he faces the threat of being moved into the cot. If it is late enough, he generally get his way.

He takes after my brother in insisting on the middle. This way he makes sleep difficult for both of his parents. He also doesn't understand that just because he is quite wakeful quite early, not everyone else is, so standing up and jumping around isn't always appropriate.

I'd like to offer some sort of deep spiritual analogy or devotional commentary at this point, like so many of my blogging friend would do, but I'll just leave you with the facts and you can do that bit for yourselves.

Posted by david at 11:52 PM | Comments (3)

Illumined Catechumen

Erica has some wonderful insights in the relationship between the Church and the World, all gleaned from her experience at the blessing of the waters. I'm probably mentioning this needlessly because any of my readers of sound mind have surely bookmarked her blog already.

She has also pointed the way to another Ortho-blogger, Chrysostomos, who I have linked on the right.

Posted by david at 01:10 AM | Comments (6)

January 20, 2004

Waiting to Open Wide

How difficult is it to get a dentist on the NHS? It is bad enough here in Hooterville, where it took a year to get on the list of the only available NHS dentist in the city - man who, frankly, scares me. Not Freddy Kruger scary. More like Jim Carrey scary. A goofy guy and dental drill are an unsettling combination.

In Stonehaven, in the northeast of Scotland, 1,500 people stood for up to 7 hours in the driving rain last weekend for a chance to register with the new dentist in town. The dentist had intended to take on about 300 patients. In the end, the 600 earliest birds got a worm. The rest got turned away, and not all of them took it well. In typical British understatement, some got "quite argumentative."

In the whole of northeast Scotland, there are only two other dental surgeries open to new NHS patients. There no telling how long the wait is to get onto their books, though.

The British are known for bad teeth (the Scots reputely with the worst teeth of all) and this may be part of the reason why.

Posted by david at 11:41 PM | Comments (3)

January 19, 2004

Hiring Mercenary MPs

Tony Blair is going to push top-up fees for English universities through Parliament next week. There are many rebel MPs on the Labour Party backbenchers, but Tony will successfully squeeze the legislation out of the Commons. He has enough Scottish MPs to help him.

Let me make this crystal clear: the top-up fees affect English universities -- not British universities -- English universities. The funding of Scottish education at all levels is the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. But Scottish MPs sitting in Westminster will provide the majority Tony, even though their constituencies are not affected.

Posted by david at 10:33 PM | Comments (2)

January 18, 2004

21st Century Crimean War

To follow up on a comment Havdala made to yesterday's blog, for Brits the situation in Iraq is more like the Crimean War than people might imagine. Because I focused on Sgt Roberts and stopped for the sake of time (both mine and my readers'), I didn't mention mention the case of Sgt Albert Thomson. This case hits home to me because it involves an amputation.

No doubt there are some amputations that are inevitable as a result of war wounds. This has been the case since time immemorial. That has to be accepted. What are unacceptable are amputations that should never have been necessary.

In the case of Sgt Thomson, an Army surgical team in Iraq was unable to save his leg because it didn't have a fairly simple, fairly standard vascular repair kit. They had no instruments to clamp and repair damaged blood vessels.

As a LibDem MP commented, "This isn't just about one widow whose husband died because of the kit shortages [Sgt Roberts]. There was potential here for lots of soldiers to have died due to kit shortages if we had taken heavy casualites." He further noted, "We have a whole catalogue of excuses and complacency from the MoD, whereas people who were on the frontline have repeatedly said there were major problems and shortages."

A senior commander in the Defense Medical Forces told a Parliamentary committee that a vascular repair kit should be available to surgeons in a war zone and promised to launch an inquiry. He said this while backtracking from earlier claims that no treatment of British casualities was compromised by shortages.

Though these issues were raised with the Defense Medical Services by the aformentioned MP in October, they admitted to the Daily Mail on Friday that no inquiry had begun.

Posted by david at 11:38 PM | Comments (2)

January 17, 2004

No Regrets

The Blair Government sinks lower and lower in the mire of its own importance and shocking disregard for all that is good and decent. On the Stateside of the Pond, readers will no doubt be oblivious to name, not to mention the behaviour, of our Defense Secretary, Geoff Hoon. But while Donald Rumsfeld may be of questionable vocabulary, Mr Hoon is of questionable character. If I had to chose between the two failings, surely the former is better than the latter.

The US may be all chuffed that the Brits went into Iraq with them, securing the southern part of the country. Unfortunately, the Brits may have showed up, but most of their equipment didn't. Tony couldn't let down George, but the press only notices men, not materiel. That is until someone goes and complains about how her husband died needlessly.

Seems Geoff's army couldn't afford supplies. Sergeant Steve Roberts had to go out an spend over £1000 of his own money before going to Iraq. He had to buy his own tent, torch, and other necessities. He expected to be supplied with body armour. He was supplied with a flak jacket briefly, until he was ordered to give it up because of a shortage. MoD reports into his death indicate it would have saved his life. It was £167 the Government couldn't afford to spend.

As the Daily Mail pointed out, it chose to spend the money instead on half a roll of wallpaper for the Lord Chancellor's private apartments, or was it six seconds of keeping the Millennium Dome open without visitors, or a cushion on an MP's £440 armchair, or one day's wages for either a "Five-a-Day" Executive (paid £28,000 to get people to eat more fruit and veg) or a Real Nappy Officer (paid £30,000 to get more parents to use cotton nappies instead of Huggies or Pampers). or one hour's wages for a solicitor on the Bloody Sunday Inquiry which has spent £113 million to find out why British soldiers fired upon unarmed protesters 32 years ago this month.

Hoon point blank refuses to take any ministerial responsibility for sending troops without any intention of providing them with proper equipment, and then once it was sent, not making sure it actually got to the front lines. He wouldn't be under such attack if it weren't for a pesky widow. Samantha Roberts is armed with weapons that Hoon should, or at least should have to, fear. She is intelligent, well-spoken, and has her husband's audio diary of his time in Iraq. Speaking from the grave, Sgt Roberts said the supplies were a joke, the shortages disgraceful, and very specifically that the lack of body armour filled him with "remorse".

Yet even his death doesn't fill, or even seem to twinge, Geoff Hoon with remorse.

Posted by david at 11:13 PM | Comments (3)

January 16, 2004

Enlightener of the English

When we named Aidan, I explained that we named him after one of the greatest missionaries to the English. He is already living up to his namesake.

One of his friends came over today. While they were playing, Aidan got out his New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. He tried to show it to his friend, saying, "Bible! Bible!" In true English fashion, his friend wasn't particularly interested and preferred to focus on the toys.

Aidie opened it up to show him the pictures. It seems he wanted his friend to understand the consequences of rejecting God. He opened to the story of Korah, which shows the ground opening up. He pointed to the rebels falling into the gap, saying, "Men bad!"

Unfortunately Aidan displayed some of the worst characteristics of Evangelicals, as he tried to pull Harry away from jigsaw puzzle to listen to his message, a fight ensued. In the struggle Aidie fell to the ground and Harry banged his head against the wall.

Even though we are suppose to come as little children to the Kingdom of God, I don't think this means we are supposed to punch those we try to bring with us.

Posted by david at 11:28 PM | Comments (3)

January 15, 2004

Changing the Rules

Maxine Carr has been judged by a jury to have had nothing to do with the murders committed by her ex-boyfriend. She didn't tell the police what she knew as soon she as she could have and as a result was sentenced to 3 1/2 years. She spent enough time in prison on remand that she is eligible for regular release in May. However, under an electronic tagging scheme, she's eligible to be released with a tag now.

There is really no reason not to release her. If she were any other prisoner convicted of violating the same statute, there wouldn't be any hesistancy. Since she was involved in a high-profile emotionally-charged case, the rules are different. Or rather, the rules have been changed.

Because David Blunkett fears the political heat from the prospect of treating prisoners equally, he is altering the rules about electronic tagging. Because Maxine Carr has applied, the whole Home Detention Curfew scheme is being changed. The final decisions to release and tag prisoners will not be made by prison governors. Well, at least not in some cases. "Exceptional cases", will be referred to the chief executive of National Offender Management Service, the newly merged prison and probation service.

Exceptional cases amount to cases over which the press makes a fuss. The press will decide who gets tagged and who doesn't. Where some prisoners are held at Her Majesty's pleasure, others will now be held at Fleet Street's pleasure.

Posted by david at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2004

From Someone Who Has Been There

There is a great commentary piece in the LA Times today by the last man to step onto the Moon, Harrison Schmitt. Registration is required to use the site, but it is free and much less onerous than with some newpaper sites I've seen.

Schmitt has clearly been reading this blog, as he said some of the same things I've been saying.

Posted by david at 08:46 PM | Comments (3)

Where Will They Stop?

It seems everyday I'm mentioning another Government tactic to get more revenue. And all of it seems to be at the expense of motorists.

Making a right turn or negotiating a roundabout and get stuck in the yellow box? If a traffic warden sees you and notes your number plate, you could get a £100 fixed penalty notice in the post.

Park 51 cm away from the curb? Even if you need the little bit of extra space to open your door, because you are, say, handicapped? That will be £100 if you are in London or £60 in the rest of the country.

And yesterday it was announced that the Home Office wants to tack a £5 surcharge on all speeding tickets. This is to help compensate the victims of crime. Why put this on speeding tickets? Why shouldn't criminals be compensating the victims of the crimes they perpetrate? Why should the general public subsidise this? And why pick on speeders? They've done something wrong, so they should somehow contribute toward unrelated people who have had wrong done against them?

The real reason? A. There are a lot of speeders being caught - more and more, month by month. B. They are being forced to fork out money anyway. C. What's extra fiver?

I fully expect the Government to announce more fines and stealth taxes throughout the coming days and weeks. They are on a roll.

Posted by david at 12:02 AM | Comments (2)

January 13, 2004


Is there anything as good as tacos?

I had six tonight.

Probably the best tacos consumed in the Shire tonight.

Posted by david at 10:27 PM | Comments (1)

The Innocent are Never Guilty

Most of my State-side readers will not be following EastEnders and a current storyline that has Little Mo pregnant as the result of rape. Little Mo is keeping the baby, despite pressure from her husband, who has left her because she won't abort it. Billy can't stand the idea of looking at their child and seeing the face of the rapist. I applaud the writers of the Albert Square soap for developing characters that express the understanding that an unborn child is a child.

But at the end of the day soaps are fiction. There is no Little Mo, no Billy, and no rapist. I'm glad that Serge has pointed out an article in Touchstone that shares a true story and the reality of this situation.

Posted by david at 12:28 AM | Comments (3)

Big Brother (and Everyone Else) is Watching

I don't often read the Independent, but the headline yesterday caught my attention. The news didn't surprise me, though I wasn't aware the situation was as bad as it is.

If you are looking for privacy, Britain is not the place to be. Most other countries have privacy laws which protect people from constant surveillance. Not this one.

With over 4 million CCTV cameras, the average Briton can expect to be filmed many, many times each day. For the average Londoner, it is 300 times. 300 times a day. One-fifth of all the CCTV cameras in the world are in the UK. There is one for every 14 people. This is a quadruple increase over the last three years.

Professor Clive Norris, deputy director of the Centre for Criminological Research in Sheffield, noted, "Other countries have been much more wary about CCTV, because of long-held concepts such as freedom of expression and assembly. These seem to be alien concepts in here."

According to the Independent:

The Data Protection Act states that the public has to be informed that CCTV systems are in operation, and be told how they can exercise their legal right to see their own footage. But civil rights groups said many councils, shops and businesses were failing to provide this information, and they estimated that up to 70 per of CCTV camera operators were breaking the rules.

Some months ago, the most dangerous courier driver in town (I have seen him many time since driving like a nutter) backed into our car at Mrs H's former workplace. There was a CCTV camera in the car park. Both we and our insurance company asked to see the footage. We were told we had no right to see it.

CCTV is frequently used in the private sector to track homeless people, teenagers, and others that shopping centre security guards find undesirable and want to harrass and get rid of, even if they haven't done anything wrong.

The thing CCTV hasn't done is reduce crime. It has made no difference where it installed.

Posted by david at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2004

Attacking Abstinence

In Channel 4’s series of programmes on Texas, they have now attacked abstinence education. The problem is that it goes against “teenagers’ natural urges”. Can’t do that!

The entire show was shot in Lubbock. The programme followed a group of horny teen boys who had distain for abstinence and party, party, party. They are 17 years old. They are normal. They can’t take full advantage of their sexual freedom because 80 percent of the population goes to church.

They visit various churches and Christian teenagers, and make fun of teenagers who take purity pledges. They tried to make the parents and pastors sound silly. They didn’t sound particularly silly to me – they didn’t use kooks, like in the first Texas programme. The fact that they were American evangelical, and in some cases charismatic, Christians is enough to scare and shock Brits. One pastor quoted the Scriptures a lot. He prayed for people. In the closing shot of him, he was speaking in tongues. Clearly an insane and dangerous radical.

They emphasised how often these kids go to church or other religious meetings. They showed them singing worship songs, closing their eyes, raising their hands. Obviously this is not normal behaviour. In interviews, they mention that it would be fun to party, but the temptations are too great. Poor kids brainwashed by religion and an imprisoned by consciences from doing what feels good. They talked about the peer pressure not to have sex and friends who acted as accountabilty partners. The presenter of the programme thought it was terrible that teens felt such pressure. It was okay to have the pressure and encouragement to have sex, of course.

They showed a couple in church-based pre-marital counselling and how terrible it was that spouses might not have any experience before their wedding night. Surely this will lead to unfulfilled sex lives, since they have been told as teenagers that sex is bad.

All this abstinence and pressure on teens not to have sex is of course the fault of George W. Bush. After all, the law about including abstinence education in sex education was passed while he was governor. Schools can’t promote contraception. They can’t pass out condoms and they can’t demonstrate how to put them on. George kills all the people on death row and he keeps all the teenagers from having sex. How could any one man be more offensive to enlightened British sensibilities?

All the reasonable voices in Lubbock want broader education. The pastor that used Scripture a lot is also an abstinence educator in schools. He tells students plainly that condoms do not prevent the transmission of disease. They showed a representative of the Department of Health speaking to a group of “at risk” students, telling them that the pastor lied and he was only trying to scare them. And the reason there are teenage pregnancies and STDs in Lubbock? Abstinence education.

With disdain in her voice, the narrator closed the programme with, “Texas is not the place for teenage sex. No matter what the consequences, abstinence is here to stay.”

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

January 11, 2004


Bubby is to be deported. Unlike with asylum seekers in this country, Bubby’s removal from her acquired domicile will not be fraught with appeals. Nor will it cost thousands of pounds.

Mrs H and I have agreed that the Bubster is just not working out as a house pet. She has become very territorial about the bathroom. This means she urinates all along the side of the room and she bites Mrs H on the feet and legs. It appears she is trying to be the dominant female. We probably could have found a solution for the pee, but the biting is just a bit over the top. She also drops her pills everywhere. It is pretty disgusting.

I would have moved her out today, but we had a lot of cold wind and rain. I wasn’t particularly worried for Bubby. I just didn’t want to get drenched while trying to clean out the hutch in preparation for her occupation. I didn’t clean it out upon her brief immigration to the bathroom, so it is rather minging.

Posted by david at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2004

Problem of Evil

The was a story in the newspaper today about a leading paediactric haematologist who left work one day, drove to the Lake District, hid in the back of a disused mineshaft, and committed suicide. He had been missing for six months and his body was recent discovered by hikers.

As best as can be pieced together, the doctor was in a deep depression. His wife noted that although they were regular church-goers, the doctor had begun to doubt his faith. This was apparently because of all the suffering he saw in his young patients.

As I was pondering this story, I thought of various people with whom I have talked whose faith was either severely damaged or non-existent due to the problem of evil and suffering in the world. I realised that people questioning their faith are often asking the wrong question.

The question is not "If there a God, why is there evil in the world?" but rather "If there is man, why is there any good in the world?" Both Christians and non-Christian who have formed their idea of God in a Christian (or post-Christian) society seem to think that they are free to decide what God should and shouldn't do. They set up a straw-god.

You can't create a God in your image and then not believe in Him. What is the point in giving God the attributes you want Him to have, or define them in such a way that suits you, and then become angry and depressed when He doesn't live up to them? No one seems to remember that His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts.

The idea that God relates to his creation solely on an individual level is a product of Protestantism. No one wants to take into account that there are consequences because sin entered the world through the rebellion of man. Sin entered the world and death through sin. There is suffering in the world, because man has chosen suffering by choosing evil. Faced with the consequences of those actions, it is now apparently God's job to provide a quick fix.

Posted by david at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2004

To Infinity and Beyond

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I am quite excited about the pre-announcement story out of the White House that W is going to propose a Moon base and manned Mars mission. My excitement is only tempered by two factors.

First, the timescale is ridiculous. There is talk of Moon missions by 2013 and men on Mars by 2030. We got to the Moon the first time less than seven years after President Kennedy's famous speech at Rice University -- just over eight years after Alan Shepard first entered space. We got there six times (out of seven) in a tin can, with technology dwarfed by my pocket calculator, not to mention the laptop on which I write this blog. How much more could we do and how much faster could we do it today?

The biggest hurdle to a quick lunar trip? The demand for a risk-free mission. No one takes any chances anymore. Just look at the war in Iraq. The media tries to drum up the terrible cost of war with each soldier that gets killed (as if war isn't about killing people). It is all supposed to be sanitary and precise. No one pushes the envelope anymore. As Milt Heflin, head of NASA's flight director's office, told Reuters, "I'm not sure you could get the lunar module (of 1969) approved for flight today. The mission would probably be too risky."

If NASA is ever going to do anything - if mankind is ever going to go anywhere off this planet - they are going to have to follow the advice of the archtypal space explorer, in one of the greatest speeches ever delivered.

If we could get to the Moon tomorrow - or realistically in the next four years - why wait twenty-six years to go to Mars? When I was a small child at the height of the Apollo program, I had sets of 1970 and 1971 World Book encyclopaedias. In the article on space travel, there were diagrams of Mars travel and what a Mars-bound spacecraft could look like (bit like yet-to-be-conceived space shuttle) with suggestions that this was quite a way into the future, well into the 1980s.

That was written at a time when it was unthinkable that plug would be pulled on the greatest programme of exploration ever undertaken. This was not going across an ocean to a new continent. It was not even travelling around the whole world. It was travelling the equivalent of ten times around the globe through the void of space.

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue (with breathable air plentifully available) in a ship approximately 23.5 metres long. He had two other ships with him. He had 87 men. In 1969, Neil Armstrong sailed the ocean black in a ship 11.03 metres long (the total habitable space was 6.17 m3). The only other ship was a dingy made of aluminum foil.

Technologically we are almost as far ahead of the Columbia and Eagle as they were of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria. We can do this.

I mentioned that there were two factors that tempered my excitement. The second is related to the first. Because of the stretched out time scale, there is plenty of time for future administrations and congressional sessions to pull the plug on this, just like Congress and the Clinton administration did to similar plans laid out by GHW Bush. Sustaining the political willpower over two decades (or even longer if any glitches threaten a risk-free mission) will be very difficult.

Posted by david at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2004

Astronomically Speaking

While watching the live webcast of the JPL Mars Exploration Rover briefing with Adian (which is still ongoing as I type), I decided that having mastered counting from one to ten by himself, it was time to learn the names of the planets.

He got them the first time through. I realised the potential was there when I told him we were watching the people talk about Mars. "Mars! Mars!" I was surprised at how well he pronounced them, because he often has trouble with words of more than two syllables. Mercury comes out as "Mercur", Jupiter as "Jupit", and Neptune as "Neppa", but he seems to have an easy time with "Uranus".

He can't say them by himself, but can repeat them all. He hasn't turned two yet - I can only expect so much. He also doesn't really understand what a planet is. We'll get to that later.

Posted by david at 05:46 PM | Comments (4)

January 06, 2004

Christ is Baptised!

I wish you all a blessed Theophany!

This morning we travelled to Shrewsbury for Liturgy and the blessing of the waters. As usual, we were a bit late - I overslept and it is normally a 90-minute drive. The journey is strewn with 30 mph villages and at least one speed camera (with the constant threat of others, of course). We got there just before the Great Entrance.

The service was well attended, especially in the choir. The music at Shrewsbury is always wonderful and very singable. Toward the end of the liturgy of the catachumens, a couple of strangers walked into the church and started greeting people in a loud and evangelical manner. I thought we were in for trouble. The made their way up to the choir to sit. One of the choir members came downstairs shortly thereafter to retrieve a booklet about the church. They did come down to be blessed with the water, but left shortly thereafter.

Fr Stephen is particularly generous in his use of newly blessed holy water. After slinging it around the church and up in the balcony (where the choir stand), he doused each individual with a liberal splash on the head. We initially thought we would go to the blessing of the Severn, but learned that the journey required a bit too much walking for a cripple, a pregnant woman, and a toddler. We filled a bottle with holy water and headed home.

In our own little Eucharistic community, we rarely have opportunities to liturgically participate in the great feasts of the Church. Today was a reminder of how wonderful and important they are.

Posted by david at 10:53 PM | Comments (3)

Growing Up

Aidan's new bed got here today. He probably could have stayed in the cot longer. He wasn't hankering to move out. However, with the new baby arriving in a few months, we thought it would be good move him to a big boy bed early. This way we hope he will dissociate himself from ownership of the cot, especially as he will have to share the room with the baby after a while.

We got him all excited about the move to the new bed. We were clapping and shouting, "New bed! Yea!" This afternoon he climbed on it and laid down on it. Tonight he hurried to finish his glass of milk so he could go to bed. Even so, the excitement faded a bit when it was time to turn off the light and be alone without the familiar bars of the cot surrounding him. He got up a few times, but finally settled.

This is just the first of many times in his life when he will have to adapt to new surroundings and situations. I hope tonight is a foreshadowing of things to come.

Posted by david at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

Cops Out of the Closet

Police officers in this coutry are to be surveyed concerning their sexual orientation. According to The Sunday Times, "New recruits and officers seeking promotion will be asked to state whether they are straight, gay or bisexual. Where the number of gay officers is found wanting, “gay-friendly” recruitment campaigns will be launched to boost numbers." If you want to join up or hope to move up the ladder, it pays to be gay.

The goal, which has been agreed by the Gay Police Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers, is to make sure that at least 10% of the coppers in this country are gay or lesbian. Apparently this is because 6% of the general population is believed to be gay, though it may be as high as 10% in London.

New laws introduced last month explicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment. Though clearly not what was intended, it may be that heterosexuals will have to avail themselves of redress through this legislation.

Greater Manchester police has expressed an interest in taking part but has yet to confirm its participation. They are probably still busy trying to get rid of all their officers who were shown on television bragging about beating up Asians. They might find difficulty in meeting quotas for gays.

This new quota system is going to place a strain on the general public. As the number of homosexual police officers increases, confusion will reign in terms of perjorative slang. (The use of which I would never condone - I'm merely observing sociological phenomenon.) The same term is used in this country for both homosexuals and crooked policemen. Given that 10% will be gay and 10% are honest, and there is no guarantee it will be the exact same 10%, how can this problem be solved without adjectival redundancy?

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

January 05, 2004

Messing with Texas

Channel 4 is doing a series of programmes on Texas.

To put together an unbiased balanced view of the state of Texas, who better to choose than Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens is the atheist socialist who is best known for writing a book slamming on Mother Teresa.

Hitchens interviewed every nut case conservative and every rational sounding liberal. He decried the "Republicanisation" of Texas, which is apparently all the fault of George Bush and cowboys.

Hitchens never could get away from cowboys. The word "cowboy" is only used in two contexts in this country. It is the term for builders and other self-employed contractors who do shoddy work and then disappear without a trace. It only otherwise used to describe the President. Hitchens even tried to get his some interviewees to understand how Europeans ridicule cowboy mentality.

To see Hitchens' programme is to believe that all Republicans live in beautiful suburban tracts (he drove through such a neighbourhood in Plano as he talked about this), and all Mexicans, who along with liberal Anglos naturally vote Democrat, live in colonias. The only reason any Mexican-Americans voted for Bush was beause they were swayed by his Hispanic advertising campaign when he spoke a few words in Spanish.

He made fun of Texans, using bumpers stickers as his tool. He used the famous "Don't Mess with Texas" litter campaign to talk about the death penalty. It's bad, of course. I think it was the only programme that I've seen that didn't actually say that George Bush personally put every condemned criminal to death. Most of them do. You'd think ol' George spent his entire governorship in Huntsville with his finger on the button to the lethal injection pump. At least for Hitchens all Texans bear collective responsibility for capital punishment.

He would intersperse scenes of ordinary Texans mentioning belief in God with his liberal friends talking about how it is impossible to be right thinking and believe in God. Texans, and especially Bush, are just a little unstable because they believe in God.

And besides all that, he didn't take the Alamo seriously.

Posted by david at 11:46 PM | Comments (2)

January 04, 2004

Indefinite Leave to Remain

It appears that Bubby has taken up residency in our bathroom.

After her return from her extended excursion through the neighbourhood, she spent a few nights in her hutch. She was not well pleased. She just sat there and sulked most of the time.

As bad weather approached (though it ended up not as bad a predicted), Mrs H acquiesed to temporary residence for Bubby indoors. For the most part this has worked okay. Her potty training isn't perfect, but at least it is confined to the bathroom. As this is the only place she drops "pills" (as they are apparently referred to by rabbit owners), she seems to have decided that this is her territory.

I have been reading up on housetraining bunnies. This would appear to be more difficult that I had imagined, though easier the older they get. Apparently you can teach an old rabbit new tricks. Whether Bubby learns quickly enough to satisfiy Mrs H and keep her house privileges remains to be seen.

The thing working in her favour is that she has become a very personable bunny. She thrives on the social interaction with the human species, except perhaps with that demographic group known as toddler. Aidan cannot seem to get the message that Bubby finds it unpleasant to be carried by her fur. Bubby has been remarkably patient and Aidie has fewer scratches on him that I would have ever thought. Bubby just needs to remember not to approach Aidie for attention, but rather do the sensible thing - run and hide behind the toilet.

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

January 03, 2004

Stacking the Deck Against Private Education

The left wing of the Labour party is opposed to tuition fees and the introduction of the new "top-up" fees for university students. Well, at least in most cases.

They support the idea of charging those who were educated in private schools for the opportunity to continue their education. It has been proposed by the Government’s London Schools Commissioner. Professor Tim Brighouse has called for an extra 10% charge to be levied on top-up fees for every year that a pupil spent at a private school.

Thus, if they spent all 14 years of primary, secondary, and sixth form education in the private sector, they would be charged an extra 130% of their top-up fee. If they completed their A levels in the private sector, this is an extra This means that if the top-up fee is £3000, as it will be for top universities, privately educated students will pay £6900. This is on top of the tuition fees (hence the term "top-up fee").

Professor Brighouse would discount this if the student leaves private school at 16 and does their A levels in the state sector. He claims the reason for the discount is actually to drive teachers out of the private sector. "This would tempt them into joining in with everybody in sixth form colleges and so on." I can't see how this would work. Does he think that a discount off of a surcharge is going to cause all the sixth-formers to flee from colleges of ancient reputation and outstanding results, leaving no jobs in the private sector?

The support for this idea in Parliament is exemplified by Jon Owen Jones, the Labour MP for Cardiff Central. He opposes tuition fees, but says that this idea deserves consideration. "If people have bought an advantage by going private, I don’t see why the State should then give them virtually free university education." (Virtually free? Doesn't he remember that the tutition fees have already been here for some time? Doesn't he realise that top-up fees are going to be pushed through by the Government on whose backbenches he sits?) In other words, those who value their children's education high enough and can afford to educate them outside of the state system and the control of the National Curriculum should be punished. They should be held to a different standard.

It is like saying that someone who has bought private health insurance should have to pay for treatment on the NHS, even though they have paid the exact same taxes (or in all likelihood more taxes) to fund it.

Posted by david at 03:33 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2004

What They are Doing (In Their Own Words)

What better way to start off the new year than with new taxes! Of course it is the Government's favourite kind of tax - the stealth taxes. You know, the kind of taxes you aren't supposed to know are taxes. But a tax by any other name would smell as foul. The means the Government is using to raise new revenue these days is the automatic, unappealable fine.

As of yesterday, motorist will be automatically fined £80 for not renewing their tax disc. Even if the car is off the road and the owner is out of the country or in hospital, there will be no allowances made. The DVLA has refused to appoint an arbiter to consider extenuating circumstances. There will be no appeals panel. This means that even though the new system will be infested with bugs (as the London congestion charging system has proved to be), the public will bear the burden of the mistakes.

Anyone who does not renew their tax disc will be assumed to be guilty unless the DVLA has received written notification that the vehicle has been sold or is off the road.

By the DVLA's own predictions which they are willing to make public, more than 100,000 people a month will be fined. They expect to raise about £40 million a year -- twice as much money as speed cameras. The DVLA even admitted that many drivers will be caught complete unaware of the new rules. Does the DVLA care? To quote Jeff Mumford, the DVLA deputy manager: "The registration system in Britain has been too friendly. We are looking to slowly tighten the screw."

I'm not sure if he meant that as a noun or a verb, but either way, there isn't a better word for it.

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

Unlimited Revenue

The Inland Revenue has come up with a way to get even more revenue. They have added a new range of penalties for late payment of taxes. In addition to the current fines, the Inland Revenue will be issuing uncapped fines of £60 ($100) per day. This is in addition to the fixed £100 fine, 5% surcharge on the tax debt, and 6.5% interest.

The Inland Revenue is planning to issue tens of thousands of these fines. Apparently they aren't satisfied with the £1 billion that has already been raised in fines, surcharges, and interest.

Big Brother is watching whether or not you pay your taxes. This year staff at the Inland Revenue are changed with the task of collecting more personal details on people likely to evade tax payments. Profiling. This can't be done with terror suspects, but it can be done with taxpayers. They will also be phoning up late payers at home - probably at teatime, if they want to follow the example of telesales and debt collector scum. It is unclear if they will ringing people who are likely to be late payers.

Posted by david at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2004

Happy New Year

I'd like to wish all of my readers a Happy New Year! May you experience God's blessings in the coming months.

Posted by david at 03:30 AM | Comments (2)