July 31, 2004

Mopping Up

Thanks to a minor spillage on the laptop keyboard by a user other that myself, all of the keys have been knocked out of commission except the "1", "a", and "q". (I am using an external USB keyboard to write this.) It is not clear what other damage may have been done.

This means that the machine will have to go into the shop. I'm not sure when it will go in or come out. Neither do I know if it will hold up in the meantime.

I'm just posting this message to explain any hiatus you may notice.

Comment are currently closed because I got bombed in a major way last night. In the future, I will be closing comments after entries leave the home page to reduce the opportunities for these detestable people post links to even more detestable sites. I am in the process of closing the rest of the comments, which has to be done manually for each entry. With nearly 500 entries, this may take a little while - especially if I don't have a computer.

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

July 30, 2004

Half the Story

I was reading to Aidie today and after The Bad-Tempered Ladybird, Aidie got The Story of Moses from the Beginners Bible series. I started it but I couldn’t get very far. I had never seen such unbelievable tosh.

It is one thing to simplify the story, but to completely misrepresent the facts is another. First, Pharaoh decrees that the first-born sons of the Israelites would be killed, not that all baby boys would be slaughtered at birth. Moses’ mother, Jochebed, floated the basket down the Nile to Pharaoh’s palace. Then this made up out of whole cloth:

The baby was named Moses and even though he was raised in the Pharaoh’s palace, his real mother was always near him. And she taught him right from wrong. Jochebed also taught Moses that the Israelite slaves in Egypt were unhappy because they were not free.

Since his mother was only his wet-nurse, it seems he took a long, long time to wean. And what, Moses wasn’t able to figure out the unhappiness of the Israelites on his own? But it gets even less biblical.

One day, when Moses was older, he stopped an Egyptian from hurting an Israelite. [He stopped him, alright, dead in his tracks.] Of course it was against the laws for someone to help a slave [it was?], but Moses knew he had done the right thing [he did?]. He knew Pharaoh would be very angry so he left Egypt all by himself. His plan was to live in another land as a true Israelite [what?]; that way he would have to see his people treated to badly [or be done for murder].

Well, I’d had enough of that, so Aidie got out his Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. This is where they take an entire story and reduce it to a paragraph and add a load of devotional comments. When he was just starting to look at books, Aidie always used to get this out and open it to the story of Solomon determining who was the mother of the baby. He loved anything with a picture of a baby.

Anyhow, I noticed that it jumped from Solomon to Elijah. So I leafed through paying closer attention and noticed just how much is left out of the stories included in the book. It’s not that it avoids all stories where bad things happen to people. It includes the earth opening up on Korah, Absolom getting his hair caught in the tree, and Samson pulling down the temple of Dagon. However, a lot of stories are missing, such as:

The stoning of Achan
Jael driving the spike through Sisera’s head
Ehud gutting Eglon
The Philistines getting haemorrhoids from harbouring the Ark the Covenant
The hanging of Saul’s sons and grandsons by the Gibeonites
Jezebel falling to her death and being eaten up by dogs

I think I need to start reading the stories to him straight out of the Bible. The only problem is that mine doesn't have pictures.

Posted by david at 01:12 AM | Comments (3)

July 29, 2004

Out of Almost Nothing

I have been reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. It's more of a history of science. As with all of Bryson's books, it is difficult to put down.

Bill starts with things cosmological and works his way down in scale. He devotes his first chapter to the history of universe. Following the accepted Psalm 14:1 wisdom, Bryson expounds upon the Big Bang. I found this to be really interesting stuff, because I wasn't aware of how refined this theory is.

The universe wasn't created out of nothing. No, according to current cosmology it began one of two ways. Either it started with an ounce of matter compacted into a space one billionth the size of a proton or all the matter now existing in the universe was squeezed into "a spot so infinitesimally compact that it had no dimension at all. It is known as a singularity." Seems to me that's about as close to nothing as you can get without actually admitting creation ex nihilo.

And the universe didn't just instantly appear. No, it took time. From a non-dimensional singularity (or billionth of a proton) it took a million million million million millionths (or 10-30 for those of you keeping score at home) of a second to grow to at least a million million million million (1024)miles across - that's the estimated size of the visible universe. It seems to me that basically science needs a universe instantly created out of nothing without a Creator actually doing it.

Bryson goes on to explain how exact the universe, our solar system, and our planet must be to sustain life. He even calls it "miraculous" - a godless miracle. If anything were out of place by such a tiny fraction, we would have never existed. Even the universe wouldn't exist if hydrogen didn't convert to helium in a way that converts exact 0.07% of its mass to energy. As he says, "with the slightest tweaking of the numbers the universe as we know it and need it would not be here."

Whenever I read science literature or watch science programmes on the telly, I am always amazed at how scientists miss God. He is there right under there nose. This demonstrates how much of scientific theory is bound up with philosophical presuppositions.

It really has to be, because there is so little evidence with which scientist can work. As Bryson notes, "Astronomers have sometimes been compelled (or willing) to base conclusions on notably scanty evidence. He quotes journalist Geoffrey Carr opining on cosmology in the Economist that we have "a mountain of theory built on a molehill of evidence."

In contrast there is a mountain - well, a universe, really - of evidence for the Creator.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools...

Posted by david at 11:17 PM | Comments (1)

July 25, 2004

Encyclopedic Knowledge

I looked for something on Wikipedia one time too many and now I am a confirmed Wikipedian. Yes, I'm a registered user and I'm writing and editing articles.

Editing is certainly nothing new to me. I've been editor on the Open Directory Project since February 2001 and a Meta Editor since last April. I've done over 34,000 edits there.

So I've gone from describing and listing websites to writing encyclopedia articles.

Encyclopedias and I go back a long way together. I got my first set World Book encyclopedias at Christmas of 1970. I got the 1970 edition because that was what was available. The 1971 set arrived a few months later. Even though the brown 71's were a year more up-to-date, I always used the red 70's. I read them cover to cover long before I ever reached double digits in age.

The problem with most encyclopedias is cost. They aren't cheap. I don't know how much the World Book sets cost in 1970, but their 2004 counterpart sells for over $1,000. That would be a very expensive Christmas present for most family budgets.

Of course you can get the same 2004 World Books on CD-ROM for only $23.00. It includes extra articles and all the multimedia bells and whistles. But this isn't an advert for World Book.

Why pay when you can get even more for free? That's the great thing about Wikipedia. Plus, it is unlimited in the number of articles it can contain or the subjects it covers. And anyone can create or edit the articles. Sure, World Book contains lots of maps and pictures, but does it have biographies of contemporary Christian music artists?

During my brief foray into Wikipedia, I have filled out the bio of Barry McGuire and created the entries for 2nd Chapter of Acts and the "band called David". I also greatly expanded the entry for Apollo 15 astronaut Jim Irwin.

Posted by david at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2004

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Edmonton

While I was looking at Wikipedia for something else, I found out on the home page that today is the anniversary of the flight of the Gimli Glider, the only funny story I've read about an air disaster, or at least near disaster.

I just thought I'd drop the link in for your reading enjoyment.

Posted by david at 07:47 PM | Comments (2)

Child Support Aggravation

If you are owed child support in this country don't hold your breath waiting for it. Likewise, if you don't owe it anymore because your kids are grown, don't expect to stop paying.

The Child Support Agency published its annual report yesterday. As best it can tell, because its £450 million computer system doesn't work, it had gathered only 40% of the support payments it was supposed to collect. It has 300,000 cases on its books, but processed only about half. It admitted that almost one-third of telephone calls to the agency were “abandoned”.

Staff took an average of three weeks of sick leave each year. If you add that to their four weeks holiday, and the eight statutory holidays (six bank holidays, plus Good Friday and Christmas), the average CSA employee is only on the job 217 days per year. That averages out to about four days a week.

I know someone who hasn't been obligated to pay child support since before Christmas. When she contacted the CSA, she got nowhere. After several months, they finally contacted her ex-husband, who made unsubstantiated claims that he was still entitled to the money.

Even though they could have found out the truth with just one phone call, the CSA just took his word and didn't look into it. After she insisted that her ex was committing fraud, and asked when the case would be investigated, the voice on the phone said, "I might get around to it Friday - I might not." Wanting to contact a supervisor, she asked her combatant's name. "I don't have a name," he replied.

He didn't get around to that Friday. He didn't get around to it until she contacted her MP. The case still hasn't been resolved.

Posted by david at 12:28 PM | Comments (2)

Would You Like to Hold Your Baby?

What do you give the girl who has everything?

How about her own baby in a tube of water? That's what a nurse at Bishop Auckland General Hosital gave Stacey Storey. Well, they didn't really give it to her. They just asked her to take it home overnight, keep it in the fridge, and bring it back in the morning.

Thanks to the Government's teen sex policies, the 14-year-old found herself in the family way and despite the easy path to termination and her 17-year-old boyfriend's quick exit, she intended to keep the child. Unfortunately, she started miscarrying and her mum rushed her to Bishop Auckland. She finished miscarrying while waiting 20 minutes to be seen.

When the nurse came in, she put the 11-week-old foetus in a tube, asked if Stacey was okay, and booked an appointment with the gynaecology department for the next day. There seems to have been very little regard for her physical well-being, not to mention her mental state.

Is it any wonder that groups like Life have to offer counselling after miscarriage? If losing a baby wasn't enough, the callous disregard by medical professionals compounds the grief and depression.

This isn't an isolated case maternity mismanagement at Bishop Auckland General. Stacey's mum lost a baby at 38 weeks. The baby was breech and was supposed to be turned at the hospital. Four days before her appointment, the maternity unit at Bishop Auckland General was downgraded to only deal with uncomplicated births so a new appointment had to be made at another hospital. During the delay the baby died.

Between the babies deliberately killed and those lost through neglect, it is no wonder we don't have a replacement rate of population growth.

Posted by david at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

Babies Killing Babies

The Government has released new figures showing that the number of abortions continues to rise and last year hit a record of 181,000. The big jump was in abortions by girls under 16. These rose by 5.4%.

Every one of these pregnancies is the result of a criminal offence. Nevertheless, the Government does not encourage abstinence as strategy against under-16 pregnancies. Instead it throws more and more money into free condoms and demonstrations of how to use them. And this is the result they get.

Posted by david at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2004

Screened to Order

They're here! Everyone has to have one! Designer babies!

Last night, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority overturned their long-standing rule that embryo screening is acceptable only to weed out inherited disease. While there some opposition to this policy, it was accepted that tiny babies could be killed if they were potentially defective.

Now the HFEA will allow parents to choose children with desirable traits. The media-savvy motivation for this change is the pressure to allow the selection of embryos to donate tissue to sick siblings. The HFEA chairperson noted, “Faced with potential requests from parents who want to save a sick child, the emotional focus is understandably on the child who is ill."

She said further, "Our job is also to consider the welfare of the tissue-matched child which will be born. Our review of the evidence available does not indicate that the embryo biopsy procedure disadvantages resulting babies compared to other IVF babies." So there is no harm to the child that is born with the "right" genes. She completely misses the point that there is irreparable harm done to the undesired embryos.

Under the new rules, there is nothing to prevent selection based on a desire to have a boy or a girl or blond hair and blue eyes. It doesn't even have to be limited to appearance. Want the most intelligent? The most athletic? These traits can be screened as well. As genetics increasingly becomes a more exact science, you can have exactly the child you want, discarding the rest.

Posted by david at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)

Of the Buying of Books

I have finally started utilising my Books page on the website. I am including links for books you find in my "Off the Bookshelf" section of the column opposite. I offer links to both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

This really isn't a money-making enterprise. I just figured I might as well use the long-standing affliliate accounts I've had with the book (and everything else) distribution giant, just in case someone sees something they like.

Posted by david at 01:41 AM | Comments (1)

July 21, 2004

Stuck on You

Thanks to Serge for bringing this to my attention.

Just over a year ago, the Ontario Court of Appeal legalised same-sex marriage. A week after the court's decision and eager to pledge their undying love for one another, M.M. and J.H. were joined in unholy matrimony, notwithstanding the lack of a Y chromosome between them. They separated five days later.

Now they can't get a divorce. Ontario may have married them, but it doesn't have the power to put them asunder. Even though British Columbia, Quebec and the Yukon have joined Ontario in removing the gonadal diversity requirement for legal union, disunion will require action in Ottawa. The Divorce Act, which is federal legislation, defines spouses as "either of a man or a woman who are married to each other."

The lawyer for one of the women is using the opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of the Divorce Act. It looks to me like this is a prime opportunity to force gay marriage on all of Canada through the back door.

Posted by david at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2004

The Moon and the Stars Which You Have Ordained

It was 35 years ago today that the nation saw Walter Cronkite wipe the tears from his eyes and heard Neil Armstrong's voice: "Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed".

I was only 5 years old. Now that I'm 40, we haven't gotten any farther. In fact, we haven't gotten nearly that far for almost 32 years. Some of my readers question why we should go back. How is it salvific?

I think it is. I think we have a responsibility to go. Do we have a obligation to understand the created universe? How else do we fulfil our dominion mandate? We can exercise stewardship over something we don't understand.

Why do we have an obligation to exercise stewardship over the Moon? Because we have a responsibility to use planet Earth wisely. If we harness the resources of the Moon, which can be done without harming it, we could remove the need for fossil fuels. We could make energy production a non-issue.

That's just one reason. I could name many more.

Is a trip to the Moon salvific on a personal level? It was for Jim Irwin. "The hours I spent on the Moon were the most thrilling of my life. Not because I was there but because I could feel the presence of God." As Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean recalls his friends of Apollo 15, "Dave [Scott] and Jim journeyed into space as test pilot astronauts and most of us returned the same way. But Jim changed outwardly." He quoted Irwin as saying, "I returned determined to share with others that profound experience with God on the Moon and lift man to highest flight in life."

Posted by david at 03:49 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2004

The New Forrest Law

I'm sure Tom Forrest never thought he would be thrust into the national limelight over the rules of his bed and breakfast. Nor did he expect to still be in it three weeks later. He has now become the whipping boy of the sodomy lobby.

The Deputy Women's Minister Jaqui Smith has announced a new piece of legislation prohibiting discrimination in the provision of goods and services to homosexuals. You might think that sounds silly. After all, who would know that an individual in receipt of good or services is a homosexual? And who would care?

No, what she means is that anyone providing goods and services will have to provide them on demand to homosexual couples. She said, "We are determined to press on with ensuring that same-sex couples get the opportunity to gain legal recognition of their relationships - and the equality and dignity they deserve."

In other words, it is the policy of this Government to defy the laws of God and nature, and create an Orwellian alternate universe where anything must be called a family. Everyone must conform.

The new legislation will be drafted by the new Equality and Human Rights Commission. It is the remit of this new super-quango to hunt down discrimination where it can find it in every walk of life.

Mr Forrest told the Daily Mail, "Everyone should have the right to decide who they let stay in their property. My guesthouse is also my home - but I would rather close down than yield to a law like this."

He has been the butt of jokes and the bugbear of newspaper columnists. But as they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity. If he has to close down, it would not be for lack of business. He said that his bookings have "gone through the roof" since he banned the the Romans 1:27 couple.

Posted by david at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2004

New Orthoblogger

Welcome to Douglas Dalrymple and his new Xanthikos blog. Douglas is a catechumen in California.

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

July 14, 2004

Protecting European Free Speech

The story about the Swedish pastor jailed for offending homosexuals has made its way throughout blogdom, and it has also come to the attention of the Christian Democratic Party (KDH) in Slovakia.

According to the Slovak Spectator, Slovakia's English language newspaper, the party sees this as a free speech issue. The party chairman, and Speaker of the National Council (parliament), Pavol Hrušovský, said the sentence is a sign that torture based on anti-discrimination legislation has began. He plans to send a protest letter to his Swedish counterpart.

The problem is that his counterpart is not in a very strong position. While the KDH is in the coalition Slovak government, the Swedish Kristdemokraterna has only 9.5% of seats in the Riksdag and these are on the wrong side of the aisle.

Slovak Interior Minister Vladimír Palko (and deputy leader of the KDH) may be taking a better approach. He sees this an example of the tyranny of "leftist-liberal ideology" in Europe. He has met to discuss the issue with the Swedish ambassador, Cecilia Julin. I don't think it will make a difference, but at least it is addressing an official representative of the Swedish government. Palko told reporters afterwards, "I explained to Ms Julin that my position was like that of Martin Luther when he said: 'Here I stand, I can do no other'."

Palko also promised that, "with a KDH interior minister in Slovakia, no investigator will proceed against anyone in such a way.”

It's too bad every other European government is allowing this to pass unnoticed. I wouldn't be surprised if David Blunkett uses the Swedes as an example of best practice to promote his own hate speech legislation.

The Slovaks, however, are putting their legislation where their mouth is. A new Penal Code is making its way through the parliament. no longer contains the article on the "defamation of nation, race, and belief". Instead it introduces the new crime of "disturbing the practicing of religion".

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

July 13, 2004

Bureaucrats on the Street

In Chancellor Gordon Brown's spending review, he has decided that 100,000 civil service jobs must be cut. A first glance this sounds like a good thing. Cutting down the size of the bureaucracy - why not?

This means that 100,000 people will be out of work. If they can't find 100,000 jobs in the private sector, then all of the savings to the Budget in terms of salaries will be paid out in unemployment benefits.

One of the departments hardest hit will be Work and Pensions. When all the staff of the Job Centres are made redundant, they will walk around to the other side of their old desks and file Jobseeker's Allowance forms, if they can find anyone to receive the paperwork and process it.

Posted by david at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2004

The Most Dangerous Place in Britain

It's not a specific place. It's any number of hospitals across the country.

When Mrs H got an infection in her C-section wound before she left the hospital, we feared the worst. We are fortunate that it healed after only 6 weeks or so. We were never told that the adjacent Special Care Baby Unit, as well as a ward on the floor below, had been closed down due to infection while she was in the maternity ward.

The rate of infections acquired in hospital is roughly the same in the UK as it is in other developed countries. Given that we have a third world health care system, perhaps that is heartening. However, the problem is the proportion of infections that are caused by a superbug (or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA]). In Britain, 44% of hospital infections are from MRSA, whilst the proportion is only 1% in the Netherlands and Denmark, 11% in Austria, and 19% in Germany.

Get a bug in an NHS hospital and you have a good chance of being very, very ill for a very long time or just dying in a very short time. It is estimated that in the UK, 100,000 people are infected with the superbug every year, resulting in 5,000 deaths.

What is the main cause of this problem? Sure, it is exacerbated by the overuse of antibiotics, but that isn't the cause. Ineffective antibiotics do not cause infections - germs do. Why are there so many germs in British hospitals? Filth. Dirt. Grime. Lack of basic hygiene. Unwashed hands.

The Government is now going to go to extra lengths to encourage staff to wash their hands and observe basic hygiene. Should this require a Government initiative? Shouldn't doctors, nurses, and other health care workers just do this instinctively? John Reid, the Health Secretary, said "I want NHS patients to demand the highest standards of hygiene and, since human contact is a major way infection spreads in hospital, to feel happy to ask staff if they’ve washed their hands." Should you have to ask a doctor if he has washed his hands?

Posted by david at 05:34 PM | Comments (1)

July 10, 2004

Make Bones About It

As you will note from the information in the grey column to your right, I have been reading The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millenium by Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger. Just to clarify things, it has the sub-sub-title An Englishman's World. So it's what life was like in England at the turn of the first millenium.

It takes the year month by month, not in the specifics of what happened that month (as that would result in a pamphlet rather than a book), but around the themes of drawn on a perpetual monthly calendar (called the "Julius Work Calendar" for complex historiographical reasons) created around the year 1020. The January chapter, entitled "For All the Saints" discusses the importance of the Christian year at the beginning of the 11th century.

The authors close the chapter with some very perceptive comments.

This was an age of faith. People believed as fervently in the powers of saints' bones as many today believe that wheat bran or jogging or psychoanalysis can increase the sum of human happiness.

Then down a bit further:

You were not on your own. That was the comforting message of the little Julius Work Calendar with its twelve monthly recitations of saints' festivals. God was there to help, and so was a whole network of fellow human beings from the distant past up to your own era. In the year 1000, the saints were a presence as vital and dynamic as any band of elves or demons. They were a living community to whom one prayed , and among whom one lived.

The authors never show where the Christians of the 11th century particularly believed in elves. I'm sure they believed in demons. Clearly the authors themselves have little understanding of spiritual things, but they do capture the essence of Orthodox Christianity.

If I had to choose between the Holy Spirit-energised bones of saints on the one hand and wheat bran or jogging or psychoanalysis on the other, I think I would have to go with the bones. After all, bran may keep you regular and jogging may keep your circulation flowing (psychoanalysis having no valid function), so they may keep you alive, but they have never brought anyone back from the dead.

Posted by david at 01:40 AM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2004

Britain's Most Expensive Mediaeval Experience

Mrs H had been wanting to visit Warwick Castle for ages. It's not a cheap ticket, so the ever-economical Mrs H traded in Tesco Club Card vouchers using a special deal they have with Warwick Castle and other attractions. Unfortunately, when we got there, the ticket people refused our Great Day Out vouchers because they didn't specifically say "Warwick Castle" on them. This despite the fact that Mrs H specifically ordered them for the castle. The castle folks blamed Tesco for sending us the wrong vouchers. I'm sure when we write to Tesco (and you can be sure we will) they will blame the castle.

Because Kelly had to go to the car and get the voucher cover letter from Tesco for the castle staff to photocopy and all of the rest of the hassle, they gave is student rate tickets, which were about £4 off. This wasn't as good as if we had brought the £5 off coupons we left at home.

Warwick Castle bills itself as the "Britain's Greatest Mediaeval Experience". It ought to be for the price. After next week (the peak season) the adult price goes from £13.50 to £14.50 (about $29.00). That gets you in the grounds, but not into everything. There are special ticketed events as well.

They don't charge for children under 4, but what they should do is give a discount to anyone with an under-4. It wasn't the best place to take Aidan. He didn't get a lot out of it and the need for constant supervision meant that no one else did either. By the time we got there, changed Abby's nappy, waited through the whole ticket fiasco, changed Abby's nappy, got some food, and yes, changed Abby's nappy, we didn't have a lot of time left.

The castle was set to close an hour early today because of a Cliff Richard concert on the grounds tonight. Thus we had to cram everything in before 5:00.

Mixed in with the usual school groups and American tourists were a lot of chubby ladies in the 50-70 age bracket wearing t-shirts that appeared to have been acquired from the hucksters at the last Cliff Richard concert they attended. Yes, Sir Cliff's groupies were out in force.

One of the centrepiece attractions at the castle is not medieval at all. It is the re-creation of a 1898 Royal Weekend Party. The Royal Weekend Party has been there since I last visited the castle in 1990. In fact, it has been there since 1982. All of the guests look unbelievably lifelike.

This is because Warwick Castle is owned by the Tussauds Group. They bought it off Charles Guy Greville, Earl of Warwick, in 1978. Yes, as in Madame Tussauds. In addition to the famous wax museum on Baker Street, they also own Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, Alton Towers, and the London Eye.

There are a couple of other waxwork attractions within the castle, one that focuses on the Restoration period (late 17th century) and the other that actually deals with something medieval - the household of the most famous Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville, the Kingmaker. I think that was Aidie's favourite bit, because he kept going into it and dancing to the recorded music.

Well, his second favourite bit. The most interesting things for Aidie were the bins. There was nothing special about them, but he wouldn't leave them alone. While he and I waiting for Mummy to - you guessed it - change Abby's nappy, he had an ice cream. When he finished it, he put the paper in the bin. Then he put other bits in the bin. Then found other people's bit of trash and put those in the bin. Then he got a baby wipe out of the pram, cleaned off a little spot of dripped ice cream and ran over and put that in the bin. Everywhere we went in the castle, he had to look in the bins. They were all the same, but he had to mess with them.

After Mrs H's knee gave out, she and Abby waited at ground level. Aidie and went exploring to greater heights. We climbed up into the gatehouse and barbican. It is a good thing that the Mrs was out of sight. Let's just say that winding spiral stone staircases without handrails have intrinsic health and safety issues. They weren't designed with 2-year-olds in mind.

We then went to the top of the Mound - the bit of the castle dating from 1068. We climbed and climbed and climbed, until we looked over all of the castle and lots of Warwickshire countryside. I think Aidie appreciated neither the geography nor the history. While we were at the top, Sir Cliff began his sound check.

The last trip we took was about as far down as the Mound was up. Aidie and I walked down and down and down to the Mill and Engine House. Unfortunately, he was too young to appreciate the various turbines and their function. I think it would have been very interesting to a child of 7 or 8.

At the Mill and Engine House we uncovered one of the great mysteries of Warwick Castle. There is no disabled access to the Mill. However, once we got down there, it included a disabled toilet and one of those little wheelchair mini-lifts for moving from one level to the other. Why?

This mystery unsolved, the time came to leave the castle. On the way out, we saw a bloke in costume doing an archery demonstration. He was very good. He could shoot 18 arrows a minute and shoot the skull off a dummy at 50 yards without aiming using a medieval longbow.

So our afternoon at Warwick Castle was at an end. As we were leaving, more Cliff groupies kept pouring in. We -you guessed it - changed Abby's nappy and headed home.

Posted by david at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2004

Home Improvement

In an effort to reduce Aidie's use of the self-service kitchen in the middle of the night, Mrs H installed a new gate across the door. Because it cannot swing forward, thanks to the washing machine, this means backing up against the front door to open it and it is very difficult to exit the kitchen with hot food containers (whether this be saucepans, serving bowls, or cups of tea) in both hands as it swings open to block access into the lounge. The biggest problem may prove to be keeping Aidan from figuring out how to open it and hoping that the amount of pressure required to spring it open remains greater than his manual strength.

The other achievement by Mrs H today was the installation of a corner shelf for our first icon corner. In every place we have lived since we have been married, it has not been possible to install an icon corner. Instead we have used the shelves of various bookcases. I think Mrs H finally got fed up with them being strewn across the front of the books and saw this as a opportunity to consolidate them into one place. Well, not all of them, but at least some of them. I also moved our table-top thurible to the shelf. Now I just need to hang a lampada.

Posted by david at 04:46 PM | Comments (3)

Labour Supports Labour?

It is hard to believe. Tony Blair maybe supporting a move to lower the gestational limit on pre-natal infanticide. The current limit is 24 weeks. This was set during a free vote I observed from the Strangers Gallery in 1990.

However, current undeniable medical evidence has made arguments for 24 weeks based on fetal viabiliaty unviable. While insisting that it would be a free vote, Blair told MPs that “if the scientific evidence has shifted, then it is obviously sensible for us to take that into account”.

Ian Gibson, Labour chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, told The Times Wednesday, “There has been such a big inflow of information since we last set the limit that, putting all the political issues aside, there is a case for looking at it again.”

All of this has been brought to the forefront by a national newspaper - I think it was the Daily Mail - showing photographs of babies at 12 weeks moving and otherwise showing signs of sentience. Various pro-abortion rags have suggested that the photos are deceptive because they enlarge the actual size of the baby. After all, a 12-week-old baby is quite small. Apparently size is everything.

Though some campaigners are calling for the law to drop the limit for what some refer to as "social abortions" - what would better be called "selfish abortions" - to 12 weeks, this is unrealistically hopeful. I think 18 weeks is achievable and that will save at least a few more lives.

Posted by david at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2004

Undisciplined Nation

Parental rights are on the ropes here in the UK.

We are used to being under attack by the Government or the House of Commons (otherwise known as the Government's legislative puppet). Now it is the House of Lords.

There was an attempt to ban smacking (that's Britspeak for spanking) outright. Every parent who smacked a child would be guilty of a criminal offense and subject to a possible custodial sentence of six months. Amongst "child advocates" that is still the goal of their relentless campaign.

The total ban did not have the support of the Government, which supporters know they must have if they are to get it through the Commons. Instead, a compromise was agreed by 226-91. Under the compromise parents are allowed to use "mild smacking". This means that "causing bruises, reddening of the skin and mental harm" will become a criminal offence in England and Wales. This means that parents will have to consider carefully the implements they use. (There was a push by some groups to ban anything but the hand.)

I have to say that Tony Samphier of the Children Are Unbeatable! alliance was right when he said the outcome of Monday's vote was "shameful, unjust and irresponsible". Of course I don't agree with his namby-pamby flower-child completely out-to-lunch reason. It is people like Tony Samphier who are irresponsible.

How absolutely stupid are these people. They spout absolute rubbish like Liberal Democrat Baroness Walmsley who urged peers to vote in favour of the full ban. She said Britain's "culture of violence" was rooted in the acceptance that children could be smacked. The culture of violence in this country - and believe you me there is one - really only began after the unbiblical psychology of the 1960s took hold and there have been two generations with foolish bound in their hearts because they have not had the rod to drive it far from them. After all, it is the fool who says in his heart there is no God. Those who are still left believing in God don't believe He has anything particularly relevant, not to mention binding, to tell us.

The Government, through it's compromise with the Lords, has drawn its line in the sand. They are passed redefining families to include all manner of unnaturalness. They are now saying if families choose to follow the Bible, they will be criminals. It's time to break out the incense to Caesar folks. Maybe it will cover up the stench of children being sacrificed on his altar.

Posted by david at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2004

Early Childhood Development

Aidie is drawing circles. Yes, I know, this seems like a simple thing to you and me, but for 2½ years old, this is apparently very advanced. According to the Denver II test, only 25% of children can do this by age 3.

Once I found this out, I thought I should see where Aidie is in the other test areas. Apparently he's also not supposed to be able to play card games, brush his teeth without help, prepare cereal, understand four prepositions, name four colours, know three adjectives, count five blocks, know opposites, or explain the use of three objects.

I looked for naming the nine planets, operating the VCR and DVD (the latter placed so high he has to do it with the tips of his fingers while standing on tip toes), knowing which primary colours combine to make which secondary colours, and feeding pets without help. Those don't seem to be included.

I'm sure that bragging about one child is bad form. Sometimes I just can't help myself. It doesn't make us love him any more than we would otherwise. It's just exciting to see him do these things.

Posted by david at 11:49 PM | Comments (1)

Eleven Score and Eight Years Ago

The Fourth of July goes fairly unnoticed over here. I suppose it isn't in the collective psyche of a nation to celebrate great defeats.

I wonder how things would have turned out if there had been taxation with representation and any major grievances had been addressed by Parliament and the King.

What would that representation have looked like in 1807 or 1833 when the major slavery legislation passed through Parliament? How would the slave states have reacted to the passage of that legislation? Would there have been a war of independence by just the southern colonies?

Would the American colonies have devolved, like Scotland? Or would they have been granted (or wanted) independence in the great break-up of the Empire?

Just thoughts I ponder as I sit on the other side of the Atlantic.

Posted by david at 02:44 AM | Comments (1)

July 02, 2004

Shoddy Journalism

Okay, one last thing about Cromasaig.

In the article in The Times, the writer tried put a little more umph behind his bias to get his point across.

He closed his article with this little non sequitur:

John Knox, in his 16th-century tract, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, was taking a stand against women ministers. Today, the Kirk has lots of them. In some respects at least, the stern North has moved with the times.

Unfortunately, he didn't even bother to check his facts. The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women has nothing to do with women ministers. Such an idea would have been unthinkable in Knox's time. It is rather about women rulers - specifically Catherine de Medici (Queen of France), Mary of Guise (Regent of Scotland and mother of Mary, Queen of Scots), and Mary I of England.

I have emailed the home news editor of The Times about this inaccuracy, though I doubt I will get a response.

Posted by david at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

When I Consider the Heavens

Cassini has reached Saturn. This is the first space probe to go into orbit around the second largest planet in the solar system.

The response of some is, "why?" I say because God created it and to know more about His creation is to know more about Him and to worship Him all the more. When I saw some of the first images of the rings close up, I just said, "Wow. Good job, God." The precision of these massive rings surrounding a massive planet flung out in space 888 million miles from the Sun is absolutely amazing. You need to see it.

Creation declares the glory of God.

Posted by david at 02:08 AM | Comments (0)

More on Cromasaig

This story has really taken off over here. Both Stephen Nock and Tom Forrest were guests on the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2, though not simultaneously. There were other guests - all of whom were homosexual. They were, of course, all outraged that this man would have some sort of choice concerning behaviours permitted in his own home. None of the guests on the show could grasp that Cromasaig is this man's home. They compared him to Nazis (comparing themselves the Jews, of course) and racists.

All of the guests also ignored the fact that the Forests have hosted many gay and lesbian couples. They have nothing against them personally. Tom Forrest even conceded that some of them many commit acts against nature in one of the twin beds. His point was that he drew the line where he chose to draw it in his own home.

Posted by david at 01:49 AM | Comments (2)

July 01, 2004

Remanded for Righteousness

Thanks to Elizabeth who emailed the following story to me, due to the problems I'm having with spam comments.

Swedish pastor sentenced to one month's jail for offending

Stockholm (ENI). A Swedish court has sentenced a pastor belonging to the Pentecostal movement in Sweden, Ake Green, to a month in prison, under a law against incitement, after he was found guilty of having offended homosexuals in a sermon. Soren Andersson, the president of the Swedish federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights (RFSL), said on hearing the sentence that religious freedom could never be used as a reason to offend people. "Therefore," he told journalists, "I cannot regard the sentence as an act of interference with freedom of religion." During a sermon in 2003, Green described homosexuality as "abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society".

Posted by david at 08:33 PM | Comments (2)

Another Invasion

The spammers have struck again. About 80 times today. Comments shut off again. This is unbelievably frustrating.

Posted by david at 01:54 AM | Comments (0)