April 30, 2004

Stupid, Not Ignorant

With the pictures of the maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners flashed around the world, the handful of American soldiers involved have pled ignorance. Not ignorance of what was going on -- that would be hard, given that they are grinning in some of the photos -- but ignorance that it was wrong. I heard one soldier on BBC radio saying that he didn't know what they were doing was in violation of the Geneva Convention. He said his superiors hadn't trained him in the protocols of the Convention.

I am shocked that he needed a superior officer to tell him that it isn't appropriate to put a hood on a prisoner, stand him on a box, attach wires to him, and tell him he will be electrocuted if he steps off. Why would you have the rules of the Geneva Convention to realise that you shouldn't make prisoners simulate sex acts or stack them naked in a human pyramid.

Is this the best the US military can find? Is this how these soldiers prove they can be all that they can be?

Posted by david at 08:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2004

Browserism

I've blogged about this some time in the past, but I can't remember when. I have noticed over the last few weeks that I had difficulty getting blogspot blogs to load. They just come up as a bunch of gibberish. Usually when I reload the page, it comes out okay, but tonight this technique ceased to work.

Then the light came on and I tried them in Internet Explorer. They all loaded perfectly. Surprise, surprise. Seems that Blogger has become even more optimised for IE. I do not like IE. I only ever use it because I can only access all of the editing functions in Movable Type with it, so I have to write this blog in it. I use Netscape for everything else.

Mozilla browsers (such as Netscape) are so much better -- so much more functional. Just the tabbed browsing functionality makes it worth switching.

Anyhow, I think this favouritism toward IE amounts to browserism. There was sexism, racism, and ageism - now there is browerism. I could even suggest that Blogger is inciting me to browser hatred - something that may need to be criminalised.

Posted by david at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2004

Second-hand Humour

Some of you may have already seen this, because there has been some media coverage in the States. This is the funniest thing I have seen in a long, long time.

If you haven't seen the listing for the ebayweddingdressguy, you must read it to believe it. Apparently he will have his own website up soon.

Posted by david at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

38 Weeks +

For those of you who have been kind to enquire by email about Mrs H and her impended confinement (or at least that's what they used to call it), I can report that she and the child in utero are healthy and both are ready for the situation to change.

Though the blessed event could be sooner rather than later, Mrs H fears the latter.

We still haven't settled on names. Our discussions don't get very far when I begin suggesting perfectly good names such as Erasmus (not the after the humanist philospher, but rather my great-great-grandfather, 5greats-grandfather, and 4greats-uncle). She also doesn't like Cuthbert (seems like a good companion for Aidan). My parents once suggested I might have been named Solomon Hezekiah (the middle names of two of my great-grandfathers and perfectly biblical as well) so I thought it might be a possibility, but Mrs H wasn't keen on that either.

All of this assumes that it is a boy. We haven't given much thought to girl names.

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

April 26, 2004

Half of One

Cleaning up the garage yesterday afternoon, I pulled a few more CDs out of storage. We don't have a rack for all of our CDs, but I wanted to get out a few more.

From amongst the stacks, I pulled out the greatest live album ever recorded. Well, actually half of the greatest live album ever recorded. Somehow in the move from the US to the UK, I managed to leave the first CD of How the West Was One on the other side of the Atlantic. I have the jewel case, but not the disc.

I have owned this in one form or another since 1978 - the year I discovered comtemporary Christian music and the year after it was recorded. As I reflect on it now (with the strains of Phil Keaggy's 9:35 version "Time" in my ears), it is the reason I wanted to have a band - something that wouldn't actually happen for another 14 years.

I remember having it cranked up on the PA system at church while I would clean and set up chairs on Saturday afternoons. It was playing out of mono tape player into a mono PA, but it was glorious nonetheless. The only down side was when the foul-mouthed aunt of the flowershop owner next door would come over and tell me off because they could hear almost as well as I could.

How the West Was One is still (or back) in print. I don't suppose they will let me pay $11.00 for just one of the discs! I just hate to pay $22.00 (plus shipping) when I already have half of it.

Posted by david at 01:45 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004

So Close

I went to see Hooterville United play their last match of the regular season today. I was hoping it could have been the last match of the season, full stop. For our opponents it was, because they had already clinched the Conference championship. Their win over Farborough Town last weekend meant yesterday's match was meaningless.

We scored three goals and won 2-1. Chester City's only goal was an own goal by our team captain. We dominated most of the match. We dominated most of the season, except for a little slump in mid-winter when we relinquished the Conference lead. And that was enough for us to finish on 91 points and Chester on 92. Shrewsbury in third place has 74, so it was clearly a two-horse race.

So while Chester rest up for their re-entry into the Football League, we hopefully have four more matches. Those 91 points now mean nothing. Four teams have an equal shot at one remaining spot in the Third Division and they will be playing their hearts out. I will be at the home leg of the first round of the playoffs against Aldershot Town on bank holiday Monday.

Posted by david at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2004

The Silence is Deafening

I still haven't come up with a solution to the commenting problem.

I have tried everything I know.

I know I don't get a lot of comments, but I love the ones I do get and I miss them.

Posted by david at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Contrary Greeks

The citizens of Cyprus will be voting day after tomorrow on whether to re-unite the island that has been divided since 1974. Cyprus will be joining the European Union on May 1 either way. However, if the island is not politically reunified, then only the Greek sector will come within the fold of Europe.

A deal was worked out by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Now it is up to the Cypriots. Ethnically Turkish Northern Cyprus is set to vote "yes" by an overwhelming majority. It is the Greeks in the south who are like to vote "no".

Northern Cyprus has never been recognised by any country other than Turkey. Now that it want to join back with the thrice-larger ethnic Greek majority, the Greeks don't want them. The deal would require the Turkish Cypriot to withdraw from territory to allow 80,000 Greeks back to the homes they abandoned in 1974.

Even though this would benefit the Greeks, they will vote no just to harm the Turks. Otherwise they would be giving Turks a voice in unified Cyprus. I'm not one to generally favour the Turks, but it has to be remembered that Turkey only invaded Cyprus after a coup by Hellenists who were seeking political union with Greece. However, given that Turks gave the Greeks such a raw deal in removing them from Anatolia in the 1920s, the Greeks never want to miss a chance to return the favour.

Posted by david at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Russian Reaction to the Mel's Movie

A good friend and Orthodox archpriest sent me this article from the Moscow Times on the reaction to The Passion of the Christ among the Orthodox hierarchs, clergy, and faithful in Russia.

To give you an idea of the tone of the article, I will include the following excerpt:

"The film has overcome [my] prejudices and doubts," said Archpriest Maxim Kozlov, rector of Moscow University's St. Tatiana Chapel and associate professor at Moscow Theological Academy, in an interview published in Izvestia. "It is almost astonishing for the present state of cinematography and public consciousness -- I had not expected that such a profound and sincere return to the foundations of our faith would be possible in Western society. I think that 'The Passion of the Christ' has already become a fact not of cinema history, but of the religious history of Christianity."

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

April 19, 2004

Independence Day

On her second attempt and after millions of pounds spent on lessons, Mrs H has passed her driving test. The Government may be trying to prevent as many people as possible from getting licenses (and randomly culling drivers from the herd wherever possible), but they didn't get her.

This is independence for both of us. My role as exclusive chauffeur is at an end.

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

April 17, 2004

The Bottom Line

I have been away from the States long enough to have forgotten if the tin cans are shaped in the same way that they are here. I remember that they are cylindrical, of course. However, as we were shopping tonight, I noticed that it is only canned fish (as we were buying both tuna and salmon) that has a rounded bottom. Other products seem to have bottoms identical to the tops.

This means that while tuna and salmon are easy to stack in the cupboard, mushroom soup, corn, peas, and beans are not. With these items, the only way to insure fairly stable stacking is to place concentrically larger cans below smaller ones - thus placing all the beans on top of all the corn.

The appeal of the rounded bottom seems obvious to me. Why most canned food companies have taken their lead from fashion designers and gone for the uncurved model, I don't know.

Like I said, perhaps there are more rounded bottoms in the States. Unfortunately, as I still haven't solved the problem with the comments feature, no one can let me know unless they email me directly.

Posted by david at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2004

Knocking Some Sense Into Them

In some parts I am well known for the lyrics:

Take me south to the Amazon trees,
Chop one down; make a bludgeon for me,
'Cause I'm going to Africa to club a baby seal --
And throw another log on the fire.

Well, they it's not in Africa, but in Canada that they are currently clubbing baby seals. Most of the UK media is incensed.

Finally someone has come along who as as much sense about this as I do. Boris Johnson, MP has an op/ed piece in the Daily Telegraph.

Posted by david at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2004

Misleading

Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, refused to speak at the annual conference of the largest teachers union. He actually told the House of Commons that he had ďbetter things to doĒ. He snubbed the National Union of Teachers (NUT) because it refused to sign a national agreement on school workforce reform. The Government is trying to get teachers to agree with allowing unqualified classroom assistants to teach classes and the NUT refused to be bullied.

Clarke did go to the conference of the NASUWT, the second largest union, and used the opportunity to badmouth the NUT. He said ďThe idea that we would go down the path of reducing the number of teachers and increasing the number of teaching assistants is completely wrong. The suggestion is completely malicious and designed simply to mislead.Ē

Yet as I noted in February, this is entirely true. It is Mr Clarke who has been designed simply to mislead. He is a member of a Government which has spent the last seven years simply misleading.

Charlie Clarke is reason they can't find enough teachers. The combination of disingenuity and bureaucracy is more than most can take. If the Government would stop lying and stop the deforestation required for teachers to produce all of the paperwork, things might get better.

A secondary school teacher teaches about 20 hours a week. They work an average of 52 hours per week. Can you guess how almost 62% of their time is spent?

Posted by david at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2004

My Continuing Apologies

As some of have not seen my previous entry about this, please note that your inability to comment has nothing to do with you. You have not be blocked personally. I have had to turn off commenting because there continues to be a problem with MT Blacklist and without it I get many spam porn comments every day.

I have been seeking to get my entire website back to the condition in which it was running prior to a server change by my webhost, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

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

Let There Be Dark

With the lengthening of daylight here in the upper parts of the Northern Hemisphere, it has been increasing difficult to get Aidie to go to sleep at a decent time. The curtain in his bedroom has fallen down due to a bracket problem and even when it is up it does very little to block the light.

Most two-year-olds need to sleep more than just from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am. The parents of most two-year-olds need for them to sleep longer. The 37-week pregnant mother of this particular two-year-old has been getting very grumpy due to this sleep pattern. At 37 weeks grumpiness is already an issue Ė we donít need to exacerbate the situation.

We kept saying that we needed to buy a blackout blind. However, it appeared that all of them were expensive and none of them were of the dimensions of the window. Finally we found a cheap one. Last night we spent hours installing it.

First it had to be cut down to size. This meant a trip to the DIY store for a hacksaw. We had to go there anyway to get materials to repair the telly cabinet door that a certain in-law broke when we last moved and Aidie finally pulled asunder a couple of days ago. I never realised how cheap small hacksaws are. 78p. Anyhow, while Aidie and I played in the back garden, Mrs H carefully followed the instructions it cutting the blind down to size. It should have fit perfectly.

It didnít. Itís amazing how significant a few millimetres can be. So we slowly hacked it down to size. Each time we shaved it a bit, we tried to mount it. Mrs H made the first efforts, but eventually the strain was too much. So she climbed down and I worked at it. A one-legged man with a bad shoulder standing on a dining room chair in an upstairs window trying to force a cardboard tube between two brackets. This was a disaster looking for a place to happen. That it didnít is clearly an example of the mercy of God. How I ever got that blind in place I donít know.

Aidie still didnít get to bed before 9:00. Itís probably too dark in there for him to get to sleep.

Posted by david at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

And the Children Shall Lead

Following up on yesterday's topic, it has now been revealed that the Electoral Commission wants to lower the age limits for Members of Parliament to 18 or lower. Campaigners want it to be lowered to 16 like the voting age.

This brings to mind the words of judgment in Isaiah 3:4, "I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them." Since we are already ruled over by Blair Babes, fifth-formers are the next logical step. I'm not sure how this will fit in with their Year 11 studies and preparation for their GCSEs. It would be a shame for 16-year-olds to leave school with no qualifications because they were too busy at Westminster and holding surgeries in their constituencies.

It would ease the burden on their parents of supplying pocket money. As noted in The Times:

There cannot be too many 16-year-olds who earn the equivalent of a backbench MPís £57,485 salary, not to mention an £18,799 allowance for incidental costs and up to a £20,333 allowance for additional costs for those with constituencies outside London. MPs can also claim mileage or bicycle allowance when travelling on parliamentary duty. They are also entitled to a staff allowance of £64,000 to £74,000 and London-based MPs receive a London supplement of £1,574.

They'll need a lot of pockets for all that cash.

Posted by david at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2004

Never Too Young

The Electoral Commission is set to propose that the voting age in the UK be lowered to 16. The only other country in Europe to allow voters this young in national elections is Bosnia.

According to the results of a Mori poll, this would give Labour an extra 400 votes per constituency. A survey last year of 16- and 17-year-olds found that of those who expressed a preference, 60% supported Labour.

I actually expect this percentage to rise. Given that New Labour indoctrinating Citizenship is a required subject at school from age 4 to age 16, I expect little left-of-centre minds to be unleased on the voting booths of this country. The age will not be lowered until the General Election after the next one - probably 2009. That means that the 16-year-olds then will have had seven years of Citizenship.

For Americans who may be confused (or Brits who have no idea what is be done with their education system), Citizenship is not just about political literacy. It is not American-style Civics or Government. It promotes environmentalism and globalism. Being a "good citizen" means holding certain values in the spirit of this Age.

Tony Blair has taken very effective steps toward insuring that the election of 1997 represented a shift, not just in politics, but in the political spectrum. This is just another one of those steps.

Posted by david at 03:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2004

Christ is Risen!

Even though I've been chrismated since December 2001 last night was my first Orthodox Pascha. We went to Shrewsbury two years ago for Great Friday with every intention of going back on the Saturday night, but I ended up in the hospital instead. I can't remember why it didn't work out last year.

Mrs H stayed home with Aidie and I went to Shrewsbury by myself. I got there about 11:00 and thought I must be early because there were no cars in the lane leading up to the church. I didn't realise that for Pascha they open the gate onto the field to make room for more parking.

Since I normally can't make it through an entire Liturgy standing up, I staked out a spot at the end of the only pew in the church. I always feel a bit strange sitting down next to the old and infirm. Since my disability isn't obvious to most people, I'm sure they wonder what the healthy-looking middle-aged man is doing sitting while others are standing.

I know this is old hat to most of the Ortho-readers of this blog, but I was wonderful standing (and occasonally sitting) in the dark, listening to the choir sing about Jonah. The Church surrounded by darkness is the essence of Great and Holy Saturday. Unlike that first Great and Holy Saturday, when the Holy Apostles and the Myrrh-bearing Women must have sat in true despair, having forgotten the words of the Saviour, we sat there last night in true expectation. We knew the darkness was but for a moment.

Come recieve ye light from the Unwavering Light and glorify Christ, Who is arisen from the dead!

And just like the dawn of Resurrection morning, the light spread throughout the church getting brighter and brighter and reflected off of the gold surrounding the saints who were worshipping the Risen Christ with us.

After the procession outside, the Gospel reading, and the procession back inside, Fr Stephen shouted out Christ is Risen! in various languages. I'm not sure what all of them were. "Christos anesti!" was fairly obvious. (Those of you who have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding will remember that.) Since our eucharistic community in the Shire is of Russian jusidiction, I was also familar with "Khristos voskrese!". I could tell how familiar they were with the congregation in Shrewsbury by how strong the response was. There were lots of "Alethos anesti!" since it is a Greek church and even those who know no other Greek knew this. There was quite a strong group of "Voistinu voskrese!", but fewer of the others.

Given the long drive home, I had considered following the example of those who left after Matins. However, I figured I had come this far, I might as well see it through. I really had no desire to leave (and I'm baffled why anyone would want to leave), though by this point I had to sit quite a bit. Actually by this point, the few chairs had come out of the cupboard and there were other people sitting - even ones who looked otherwise able-bodied.

The Liturgy seemed to go very quickly. It was like any other Liturgy, except that the Royal Doors and the Deacon Doors were open the whole time.

I love the Gospel reading for Pascha. At 2:00 am in a candle-lit church, the words came alive:

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Is there any place darker than England? I thought of the neighbourhood behind the church and of the town beyond. Houses filled with people for whom Easter is a holiday, not a holy day. Children who have no idea why this night is different from any other.

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and His own received him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

That is Pascha. Through His glorious Resurrection, the Light of the World has given us power to become the sons of God.

Christ is Risen!

Posted by david at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2004

Paisley on the Passion

Reverend Ian Paisley, MP MEP MLA, has come out against the Passion. Not against the actual historical event, at least as far as I am aware. He believes the film is being "aggressively marketed by the Church of Rome" to win converts.

This is a strange position to take, considering that Mel Gibson isn't in communion with Rome (albeit because Rome isn't Roman enough for him). He probably hasn't noticed that Catholic leaders in France and Germany have publically distanced themselves from the film. I'm sure he's much more disturbed by the fact that the film is doing very well in the Republic of Ireland (which he probably considers that rebellious part of the Emerald Isle that has rejected its rightful Protestant overlords).

And despite its Catholic imagery, the film has been most aggressively marketed by evangelical Protestants. Perhaps what disturbs Rev. Paisley the most is that the Pope is right when, in his non-endorsement, he said, "It is as it was." If the Pope simply notes that it is an accurate representation of historical events, then it must not be.

Paisley will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief that the Passion is no longer at the top of the box office in the UK. After only a week at number one, it has been supplanted by the undoubtly stirring, life-changing, and more biblically accurate Scooby Doo 2.

Posted by david at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2004

ID Cards Through the Back Door

Home Secretary David Blunkett has been trying every which way to get mandatory ID cards imposed on everyone in this country. Even though he has the support of Tony Blair, there was such opposition in the Cabinet to his plans he thought he was going to have to shelve them for years.

If there's one thing we can't afford in this new era of the War on Terrorism, it is personal freedom and privacy. The only way for the Government to stop the terrorists is to keep tabs on everyone at all times. Don't think this is just a Blair/Blunkett obsession. If you are on the other side of the Pond, just read the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II.

Blunkett is going to get his cards by starting with foreigners. No one cares what they do with foreigners, as long as they keep out as many as possible. It is anticipated that all non-EU citizens will have to register for the mark...er...I mean the card by 2007.

It has now been revealed by Mr Blunkett himself that this legislation will be extended to everyone else by order in Parliament, not by proper legislation. This means all that is required is to schedule a single day for floor debate with a simple majority up or down vote at the end.

Once there is full coverage, the card will be compulsory for access to any and all public services.

Posted by david at 03:00 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2004

For the Healing of Soul and Body

Having been unable to blog for the last few days, I don't know where to start again. It has been a usual Holy Week for us, with only one service and that was tonight with the Service of Anointing. Our community considered having a Paschal service, but it didn't seem that there would be enough of us there and there is always the problem of using another church's facility, as we do.

I'm glad we have the Anointing, and I'm glad to have it after I've seen Mel Gibson's film which opens with words of Isaiah 53. This all brings together the healing work of the Christ's Passion. However, as I have moved away from Western soteriology, I think I have a better understanding of Isaiah 53.

It also helps that in the last few weeks, I have been present at two Chrismation services. One of at our 21st March Liturgy and the other was in Shrewbury on Lazarus Saturday at the Vespers of Palm Sunday. I noticed that the words spoken during the anointing in the service as the same as those during Chrismation, "For the healing of soul and body."

By his stripes we were healed. As a good charismatic, I grew up with that verse. And it is true that God does many healing miracles on the body. It is entirely out of context to say that Isaiah is referring primarily to the healing of physical infirmities. It is because of our transgressions and iniquities that we need healing. Salvation is a healing process of taking a soul injured by sin and making it whole again.

Posted by david at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

Up and Almost Running

Well, I have the blogging back, but my MT Blacklist is not working. I have been gotten lots of spam porn ads in comments and have to delete them one at a time. Until I can get this situation rectified and get Blacklist up and running again, I have to turn off comments.

I hope to have comments open again very soon.

Posted by david at 01:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2004

This is Only a Test

I'm just testing to see if my blog is working correctly.

It worked.

Posted by david at 11:15 PM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2004

Trouble with Comment Spam

My web host has made some changes which are keeping me from rebuilding my site when I delete spam comments. If anything particularly rude is found, please accept my apologies until it can be eradicated.

Posted by david at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2004

Many Years!

It is days like today when the distance across the Atlantic is at its greatest. My father turns 72 today. May God grant him many years! (This is altogether likely, as he shows no signs of slowing down.)

I know a couple of presents have arrived, because we mail-ordered from Amazon.com. I hope the other one gets there in time. It would just be nicer if we could give them in person.

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

April 02, 2004

Scammer in the Slammer

Has someone in Nigeria specially chosen to entrust you with millions of dollars or pounds, because they know you are honest? Are they willing to launder their hard-earned money through your bank account to keep it out of the hands of an unscrupulous government? Do they just need your bank details and you will get to keep a substantial percentage, just for being a good neighbour? Oh, and then there's an unexpected problem and they just need a little cash to facilitate freeing up the money in Africa?

In at least one of those cases, that someone was Peter Ewalefoh Okoeguale. He may not have fooled you, but he did con thousands of pounds out of victims. He wasn't in Nigeria. He was in the UK and Ireland. It was as he was about to catch the ferry from North Wales to the Irish Republic that he was caught.

According to the Press Association, "North Wales Police said that discs found on Okoeguale contained thousands of e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of companies and individuals from Scotland, the US, the Middle East, and the Far East. Using the documents officers traced 11 victims, including one in Scotland who lost up to £20,000, and a retired 72-year-old American businessman who lost $46,500."

Okoeguale was jailed for 20 months at Caernarfon Crown Court today.

Posted by david at 09:41 PM | Comments (1)