May 31, 2004

Back Home Again in... Wherever

I've lived away from Indiana for so long now that I forgot yesterday was the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500. For ten years, it was unavoidable. I lived just a couple of miles from, and on the same side of town as, the Brickyard. It is the focal point for the civic calendar during the entire month of May.

I had never really cared for motor racing, but upon moving to Indianapolis, I quickly learned the names of the perennial drivers and teams. I moved to Indy over a qualification weekend in May, so my baptism was preceded by a very short catechumenate. Reading the results of the race, I now recognise very few names - evidence of my apostasy since leaving the Circle City for the rolling hills of the Shire.

The downside of living in Indianapolis was that after all of the hype and whilst having to put up with all the extra traffic on the Westside, had to listen to the race on the radio. Apparently it isn't enough to have an estimated 750,000 people inside the walls of the Motor Speedway (estimated because the Tony George and the IMS never reveal how many tickets they sell). The television rights always include a blackout provision for a 90-mile radius. As far as I am aware, this hasn't packed more people into the infield, as it isn't a particularly good place from which to view the race.

Anyhow, it looks like David Letterman's joint venture with Bobby Rahal has paid off and good for him.

Part of me misses Indianapolis, not for the race, but for the friends, the familiar streets, and the days between the blistering hot summers and the freezing cold winters. I find that part of me misses everywhere I've lived since I left home - the coastal plains of Gonzales, the dry rugged hill country of Junction, the Ozarks of Fayetteville, as well as the sprawling small town of 1.2 million that is metropolitan Indianapolis. I've be blessed to have never lived somewhere I really disliked. In each case, except Junction really, I've been happy to settle indefinitely. I didn't dislike Junction - I just never planned to stick around.

Part of me has always wanted to put down roots and become an established and recognised member of a local community. My destiny has never allowed this. I'm sure I'm just a transient resident of the Shire. But at the end of the day, we are all just passing through, so I suppose it doesn't really matter that much.

Posted by david at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2004

Just a Reminder

Since this notice has dropped off the first page, for those who might be newcomers or interlopers, please note that the commenting feature for this blog has been turned off. This is nothing personal. I would love to have your comments. Unfortunately, spam adverts outnumber real comments by about 20 to 1 and it takes ages to dig them all out. My anti-spam software has been non-functioning since my webhost "improved" my service.

Posted by david at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

State-mandated Atheism

In this country we have an established religion, which, believe it or not, is a version of Christianity. However, most people who actually get married, and it isn't many of them, have the ceremony performed in a registry office. For those of you outside the UK, this is the same place that births and deaths are registered, kind of like a county clerk. It is like a JP wedding.

Even though Christianity is the legally recognised religion of the State, by Act of Parliament, "No religious service shall be used at any marriage solemnized in the office of a superintendent registrar." This has been intrepreted by the General Register Office as prohibiting the use of any religious words.

This means that all readings from poetry or prose are censored for anything that could be construed as religious content, even if it is unintentional. This was brought to the attention of the Sunday Times when someone wanted the 43rd of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese (you know the one: How do I love thee, Let me count the ways...) read at his wedding and he was told that he had to cut the last to lines because they included the word "God". It was also suspect because it contains the words "soul" and "grace". An undercover Sunday Times reporter approached several registry offices and got the same response.

It is one thing to allow for non-religious ceremonies. I can understand why non-religious couples would want to marry, as marriage has been reduced to a civil act carrying certain tax advantages. However, to bar any reference to a generic Almighty or even words like "soul" and "grace" is just silly. Clearly if the parties to the marriage want to include these words, then they are not offended by the references therein and that is all that should matter. In providing a non-religious venue, what interest is being served in censoring every single word of any religious origin which has seeped into the common vernacular?

Posted by david at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2004

Nowhere to Hide

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has announced that the Government is planning to tag released sex offenders. The tags will be monitored by satellite, so that the whereabouts of the convict will be known at all times any where in the world.

This a bad thing. Yes, I know everyone thinks of sex offenders as the lowest of the low and that they should all be strung up. And in the current environment, "sex offender" principally conjures up the image of child sex offender, the lowest of the lowest of the low. How could anyone think that any restriction placed on these people be challenged?

But sex offenders are just the easy target of the Government. They provide a means for implementing the first stage of its overall plan to tag all offenders and ex-offenders. This way, they can prove where the tagged individuals are at any time.

This is just another step toward a total surveillance society. Other aspects of this have been detailed in this blog from time to time. It's ever multiplying CCTV camera (I absolutely marvelled at the number I casually observed on the highways whilst driving back from London on Thursday) and road sensors linked to microchipped cars. This used to be the stuff of crack-pot conspiracy theories. Now this Government (and others such as the US Government, with it's all-access Patriot Act and Patriot Act II) are open about plans to keep tabs on the unwashed masses. It's not just criminals - we have to remember that anyone might be a terrorist or at least a supporter of terrorism.

Think the idea of limited government is rapidly becoming an historical concept.

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

May 28, 2004

Good Riddance

It has been reported in the news that there was a fire in East London and that a lot of modern art had been destroyed. Then I saw that it included "works" by Tracey Emin.

Sounds to me like someone was just burning the rubbish out back.

Posted by david at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2004

From a Distance

Just when you think the ubiquitous heavyhandedness of traffic control by speed camera couldn't get any worse, they have managed to add something new to the arsenal of weapons of mass driving license destruction. Having increased fine revenues and penalty points four-fold in just a couple of years, there is still more money to be made and more drivers to disqualify.

Heretofore, speed cameras have had one distinct disadvantage. If you can spot them before they spot you, you have a chance to slow down and get under the limit. In fact, with fixed cameras being housing in yellow boxes, they slow many more drivers than they actually catch. The mobile units tend to be in white vans parked on the side of the road, and though they do their best to hide around the bend to catch someone doing 10%+2mph over the speed limit (e.g., 35 in a 30 or 47 in a 40), sometimes they merely clam traffic.

So now police will be using the all-new the ProLaser III camera. It sounds like science fiction, but believe you me, it is factual enough be introduced in Dorset next month. As reported in The Times:

The policeman who operates the camera can stand on the road and point it at a car up to 2,000 metres away. The laser is then projected on to the vehicle and it bounces back to the camera, where the speed is recorded. The video in the camera then records the numberplate and the driver and the notice of impending conviction is sent through the post in the normal way.

For those of you who still measure distance the old fashioned way, the range of this camera is 1.25 miles. That's right, you can be more than a mile down the road, with no warning sign required, and you and your number plate will be photographed at the same time your speed is recorded. The first you will know about it is when the penalty notice comes through the door.

Posted by david at 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2004

Foreign Race

In a post somewhat related to yesterday entry, the High Court in London has ruled that using the phrase "bloody foreigners" can be racist. This seems strange to me, as I didn't realise that "foreigner" was a particular race.

The case arises from the case of a 16-year-old who used the phrase in an argument with a Turkish-speaking chef in a Portsmouth kebab shop. The argument was about whether the youth had paid for his food. The drunk teenager then cracked the window of the shop.

Charged under the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, he faced greater sanctions if it were shown that his criminal damage was racially motivated. The magistrates who originally heard the case decided that since he was motivated by the disagreement concerning payment, there could be not a racist element. The High Court overruled this. For the offence to be committed, all that was necessary was for the defendant "to demonstrate towards the victim hostility based on the victim's membership, or presumed membership, of a racial group", said the judge.

I'm still not clear what membership of a racial group, presumed or otherwise, was demonstrated. Is there a Turkish race? But the defendant didn't even say "bloody Turk". Apparently all foreigners are a racial group.

Now, tying this into the subject of yesterday's blog, it would seem that all the proponents of the migrant worker village need to do is have every opponent of the plan charged with racial hatred and jailed.

Posted by david at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2004

Dangers of Migrant Workers

It's not often that we make the national news here in the Shire. Unfortunately, we have made it thanks to the pervasive xenophobia of this county, which is equally only by those quaint Home Counties villages and their NIMBY attitudes toward detention centres for asylum seekers.

To briefly digress... One of the women in the one of those villages was recent sound-bitten on the Six O'Clock News and the only reason she could articulate against the asylum seekers was that they would bring sexually transmitted diseases with them. Actually, it is the asylum seekers who should be warned. They may not realise that in some areas 20% of all women are infected with chlamydia. Clearly the locals aren't waiting for some foreigner to lead them astray.

Anyhow... Here in the Shire we raise many agricultural products. One of the most important of these is strawberries. The problem is that picking strawberries is uncomfortable work. Manual labour. It is piece work, which means pays is related to productivity.

There are lots of manual labourers in this country. You can see them taking their break around worksites all day long. They aren't about to go picking soft fruit. But they will challenge the opportunity of someone who speaks a different language from doing so.

The largest strawberry operation in Europe regularly brings in hundreds of workers. Until this year, most of them had to had a special summer work permit, but now many of them are members of the EU. In order to meet their various needs of food, relaxation and entertainment, and reduce their burden on local services, their employer intended to build a mini village for them on his land. They would have had a swimming pool, cinema, shops, and other amenties, in addition to a static caravan site for accommodation. This would all be surrounded by a gaint fence, so as to not disturb the neighbouring farms.

Nothing could have been more controversial. Planning permission has been a running battle, even going up the High Court in London.

What is the basis for this xenophobia? I think many Britons are worried about people coming in who do not share the values of the dominant culture in this country. As I look at it, they have a point. Many of these people coming in just aren't like us.

They actually want to work and aren't afraid to do it. That is an affront to the can't-do won't-do underclass in this country. They have a lower per capita incidence of crimes of dishonesty. How is that going to make those feel who have lived a life of welfare-fiddling and nicking anything that isn't tied down (and some things that are)? Some of them even go the church! (I know, because some of them attend our little community during the picking season.)

Yes, they do present a challenge to our way of life. Can't have anyone around raising the standards. No sirree.

Posted by david at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2004

Twenty Years of Ignorance

I have had certain principal musical influences at different times in my life. There was, amongst others, my Keith Green phase, Eric Clapton phase, Van Morrison phase, and yes, believe or not, my Neil Diamond phase. Other than the 2nd Chapter of Acts, Neil Diamond probably inspired me more than any other in the art of the live performance. Not that I ever actually incorporated any of his style or skill, but inspiration can be more ethereal than that.

The first "secular" tape I ever owned was "The Jazz Singer". For some of my friends at the time this was a bit scandalous. (Just a year or so before, I had been scandalised by a pastor in Wales [who I will see tomorrow for the first time since then] who had records by the group War in his collection.) However, vaguely knew of Neil from my junior high days when we sang "Sweet Caroline" as one of our concert pieces in choir.

I later had a cassette copy bootlegged of a friend's LP of what I think was titled Twelve Greatest Hits or somesuch - the tape is somewhere in Texas and the record is long out of print - ecplised by half a dozen other greatest hits collections.

When I was living in Texarkana working as a political consultant in the summer of 1985 (I was involved in mobilising the Religious Right in a Congressional Special Election), I had no television in my little apartment on 13th Street above the second-hand furniture shop, so I listened to Love at the Greek and read Battlefield Earth.

Tonight I was listening to one of the few Neil Diamond CDs I have - his third live album recorded at the Greek Theatre in LA - Hot August Night II and after all these years, the light came on. Have you ever noticed (you Neil Diamond fans out there, and you know who you are) that "Song Sung Blue" is a happy song? This is clearly the reason I have never understood it until now. That's right. I just now realised that it should have a comma. It's about a song, sung blue.

Posted by david at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2004

Food and Liturgical Rocking

I did two things for the first time tonight. I fed my daughter and I rocked her in the rocking chair.

In the first instance, I have not had the God-given equipment to feed heretofore. I'm not saying that I have that equipment now, obviously. However, Mrs H expressed some of that white infant libation to keep Abby from using a particularly over-used apparatus. The joy of the moment was brief. Even after a long feed, Abigail took the two ounces in that bottle practically in one gulp. Later Mrs H provided a further three ounces to supplement what should have already been a full meal and that, too, was gone in an instant. We have a hungry little girl.

She is hungry enough that I was sent out into the night to find some formula, should the need arise in the wee hours. I mentioned offhandedly to Mrs H a few days ago that with all the costs of raising a child, at least we didn't have to buy formula. Feeling I was not fully appreciating her contribution, it soon became apparent that I might continue to hear my remark repeated back with just that little edge of sarcasm until at least next Forgiveness Sunday. However, having now purchased formula at the recommended retail price, I'm not so sure I take back what I said.

I bought 4 little 250ml cartons for 43p (approx. 80¢) each. If this becomes a regular occurance, this is going to add up. We don't need additional costs. Mrs H recently calculated that our nappy bill right now works out to about £2000 a year. This is no doubt due in part to Aidie's reluctance to potty train. Hopefully he will soon reduce our outgoings by redirecting his.

On to that other thing... Rocking is something I experienced a lot of as a child. My father rocked me every night from when I came home from the hospital until I was about 8 years old. He also rocked my brother, but like Aidan, he never really took to it.

My father also made up lullaby songs using the tunes of invitation hymns from the Baptist Hymnal (the old green Baptist hymnal, to which he still remembers all the hymn numbers, even though neither it nor he have been used by the Southern Baptists for nearly 30 years). I would follow his example, though I'm not sure whether to use the tune to O Heavenly King, the Cherubic Hymn, or rather to just pick one of the Tones, or maybe rotate them weekly. (Should I start by chanting, "The Lullaby in Tone 4..."?)

We'll have to see how it all works out.

Posted by david at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2004

Gary's Got it Right

Thanks to Serge, I read this article by Gary North on the implications of the Abu Ghraib situation.

I have been known to disagree with Scary Gary in the past, but I think he has it right in this instance.

Posted by david at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2004


Abby is now eight days old and she is doing all the usual stuff. You know, like lifting her head and rolling over.

Okay, so it's a little advanced for eight days, but then she was half-grown when she was born.

Posted by david at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2004

Gainfully Employed

The months of searching are over. I have a job for the autumn.

Posted by david at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2004


I had hoped to spend the days after Abby's birth rambling on about the glories of fatherhood and how wonderful it is to have a little girl and all that. But as circumstances would have it, I have been occupied with going to London overnight to pick up the paternal grandparents, retrieving them from the airport and driving back to the Shire, picking up Aidie at the maternal grandparents, and hundreds of little things that need to be done.

While I was waiting through a three-hour flight delay at Gatwick, I did work on a Meandering. When I will have a chance to finish it, who knows. There will be a link available when it actually comes out.

Must go. Need sleep.

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

May 12, 2004


I'm sorry that commenting is still down, and in light of that I especially thank those of you who have emailed congratulation and well wishes.

Mummy and Abby are doing well. Aidie got to meet his little sister for the first time. As you can see, he took to her immediately.

Posted by david at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2004

It's a Girl!

At 7:36pm BST, by emergency caesarian, Abigail Leticia Holford joined our family. She weighed in at 9lbs 12½oz and is 21½ inches long.

Daddy is very tired. Well, Mummy is too.

More later.

Posted by david at 11:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2004

Motherhood is Contagious

Mrs H is expecting to give birth at any time. She has good reason for such expectation, as she is rather evidently great with child.

Bubby is also expecting to give birth at any time. However, she has no good reason to expect this, because she has never "known" a buck. Nevertheless, she has built quite a nest in her hutch, pulling out her fur and lining it heavily. Bubby is experiencing false pregnancy.

Apparently this is rather common in unspayed doe rabbits. It also may give an explanation to her aggressive behaviour and her very territorial attitude toward her hutch. For a while it has been common for her to attack even when I'm giving her food.

The solution for all of this is for Bubby to have a hysterectomy. However, from what I have seen in my research on the web, the cost is significant. It averages between £50 and £80. I will be ringing around the area vets and shopping for the best price.

Like I need something else to do.

Posted by david at 12:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2004


Today is the due date for the little sprog still nestled in utero. Despite Mrs H's continuing discomfort and off-and-on contractions for the last couple of weeks, there has been no dramatic event to indicate imminent arrival.

We had a scan and visit with the consultant on Friday. The scan indicated that the baby is about 10½ lbs. The doctor indicated that this is accurate only with 2 lbs either way. So it is probably only 9ish, but to Mrs H is definitely feels closer to 13.

As it stands now, if proper labour hasn't begun by tomorrow, the baby will probably be born by c-section Tuesday or Wednesday. Induction is contra-indicated for Mrs H, as is an excessively large baby. Plus, Papa and Honey have already bought their tickets and we don't want them to come and go before the new grandchild has arrived!

Going into labour tomorrow would be rather inconvenient, as that is the day of Mrs H's grandfather's funeral. It is going to be a busy week for us!

Posted by david at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2004

It's Not Your Fault

I'm just bumping up the message that I have had to shut off commenting for the time being do to a software fault that prevents me from blocking all of the porn and enlargement advertising.

Feel free to email comments about anything.

I am working to resolved this ASAP, but we have a lot going on at the moment.

Posted by david at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2004

Tea for Two

Aidie is definitely British. Today he had his first proper cup of tea. He has sipped out of Mummy's mug before, but today he insisted on having his own.

When I got home today, Mrs H informed me that when she had a cuppa this afternoon, he refused squash or milk or any other drink. He wanted tea in his Bob the Builder mug. He sat down with his tea and even dunked his biscuits.

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

May 05, 2004

Restored Memories

In response to my moaning about only having one half of How the West was One, a kind reader and fellow Orthoblogger has been kind enough to provide a replacement copy of the first CD. I don't know if he would want me to mention him here by name.

As I have been listening to it, it brings back so many memories. Some are directly related to the album, others only tangentally so. I remember spending hours playing the songs out of my 2nd Chapter of Acts songbook on the old upright piano at the church. As I started listening to HTWWO I was playing quite a bit of air guitar. However, when it got to "Now I That I Belong To You" I started playing air piano, because despite my fairly modest skills, I could play all the argeggios and runs of the instrumental break. It was like my fingers still remembered the motions. At least it was much more authentic than my digital emulation of Phil Keaggy.

The CD also reminds me of the various times I saw 2nd Chapter and Keaggy in concert (separately, of course). One of the times I saw the latter, I arranged to do an interview for a book I was hoping to write (an ambitious project for a 18 or 19 year old). I must have the cassette tape of that interview somewhere. No doubt it is buried in the boxes and boxes of tapes in my parents' garage.

I think about the first time I saw 2nd Chapter. My parents took me up to Houston to a church, the name of which escapes me but it seems like it was somewhere around 12th and Shepherd (any ideas?), and sat in the back while I sat right behind Buck Herring's bald head at the sound board. I had no idea then that I would have breakfast with Buck and Annie in their home six years later. But that's another story...

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

May 04, 2004

Memory Eternal

Mrs H's grandfather reposed in the wee hours of this morning. She was very close to him. This will be a difficult time for her, given the added burden that labour may begin at any time.

We ask for your prayers for his soul and his family.

Posted by david at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2004


Today was the day. The home leg of the Nationwide Conference semi-final. We drew 1-1 at Aldershot and now it was time to show the what the team with the most goals and the longest winning streak in the Conference could do on their home pitch.

Most teams play against 11 men. Seems fair. 11 vs. 11. Aldershot played with 12. That 12th man was Andy Woolmer. I have never seen one person contribute so much to a team's performance. He was so special he even wore a different uniform. Whilst the rest of the Aldershot team wore red, Woolmer wore all black. He was clearly the man of the match. They couldn't have done it without him, and he didn't even touch the ball.

From the 21st minute Hereford were clearly outnumbered 10 to 12. That was when Andy Tretton was sent off as a result of an Oscar-worthy acting performance by Aaron McLean. Had McLean's acting been believable, Tretton should have gotten nothing more than a yellow card. Even Aldershot's manager commented, "A lot of referees would not have given that. If that had been one of my boys sent off like that then I would have been screaming and shouting."

From then on, it was clear that Andy Woolmer was playing for Aldershot. For the rest of the half, the crowd that had been loudly singing was loudly booing. It was like a black cloud came over the Edgar Street stadium. From that moment many people in the crown realised that 91 points, the most consecutive wins, and tying the Conference record for the number of goals in a season was all for nothing.

We had three more players booked for the tiniest of fouls and another for expressing his disbelief at one of these bookings. Aldershot clearly handled the ball three times. Remember, this is the kind of football where using your hands is a no-no. Aldershot would seem to be exempt from this rule. One of these handballs was in the penalty box, which should have given us a penalty kick. To quote the official Nationwide Conference website match report, "Referee Woolmer also infuriated Hereford fans by his failure to award a late spot-kick when Tim Sills clearly handled a cross from Tony James."

I did not agree with the comments of those in the stands who suggested that Mr Woolmer had invested a large sum with the bookmakers contingent on the outcome. Yet is does seem incomprehensible that one man could be so incompetent.

We held off their 12 with our 10 for 100 minutes. 90 minutes of scoreless regulation were followed by two 15-minute overtime period. Eventually it had to be decided by penalties. Aldershot won those 4-2.

If this was a one-off occurrance of a ref completely losing the plot, it would be one thing. But when I got home, I decided to do a little research. I have to say that Andy Woolmer has quite a reputation.

In March, Shrewbury Town beat Woking 1-0. However in both the Shrewsbury and Woking newspapers, the articles about the game were really articles about Andy Woolmer. The hometown rag of the winners, the Shropshire Star begins with: "It was very kind of referee Andy Woolmer to try and brighten up a mundane midweek match at the Meadow with his one-man comedy show." It goes on to use the terms muppet, wacky, pedantic, fussy, ropy, and "the man in the muddle". And that was what the winners had to say.

It's not his only poor performance at Edgar Street this year. Hereford only lost 4 home matches all season. Who refereed one of them? You guessed it. Andy Woolmer. Again, as the official Conference website match report states: "And referee Andy Woolmer also left an unwanted impression on the game," though it cites 2 red cards and 5 yellows, when the stats note a total of 10 yellow cards (two of which were second bookable offenses and resulted in the 2 reds).

He's bad enough that club managers, who face fines and other penalties for saying anything disparaging about referee, have been speaking out all season. This includes everyone from the manager of champions Chester City to another opponent of Aldershot Town that lost two points (in other words, a win became a draw) on the award of a dodgy penalty.

You may be thinking "what's the big deal - it's only a game". No, really, it's not. People's livelihoods are at stake. Not just the the folks that work for the club. Football brings money into the local economy. The bigger the club and the higher the division, the bigger the economic stake.

Andy Woolmer cost Hereford United and the local economy many, many thousands of pounds. Possibly millions of pounds. You'd think he'd understand this, because the crowd indicated he was involved in the financial services industry. They kept chanting in unison, "The referee's a banker!" Or at least it rhymed with that. I can't be sure.

I can be sure that Andy Woolmer needs to take off his whistle and little black outfit and sit at home and watch football from the comfort of his easy chair. We can't afford for him to do anything else.

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

May 02, 2004

Memory Eternal

Today would have been my brother's 35th brithday. Please remember the repose of his soul and the grief of his widow and my parents in your prayers.

Memory eternal!

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