August 31, 2004

Embarrassment of Riches

As I was washing the dishes tonight, I had to throw away some peas, sweet corn, and baby carrots. There wasn't a lot left and they were already leftovers and I couldn't see re-refrigerating them and re-heating them.

But as I tossed them in the bin already full of other uneaten food, like some mackerel that had gotten lost in the fridge past the "use by" date, I thought of how there were people in Sudan starving at that very moment. I know it seems trite, and I know as a Republican my Democrat friends (and as a Tory, my Labour friends) would say I'm not supposed to think of such things, but it's true.

The thing is, there is no way I could have fed them my leftover veg or unused mackerel. And there's no way that I could eat less or even cook less that would somehow provide them with what I haven't used. Whether I like it or not, there are 280 grams of peas, 160 grams of corn, and 195 grams of baby carrots (drained weight) in their respective Tesco brand cans. Given the relative appetites of our family of three table-fed persons, eating in reasonable moderation, we more often than not end up with leftovers of leftovers that would be less than palatable the next time around.

Yes, we could say that it would be more than palatable to our Sudanese brethren, but eating something we don't like just because someone else would like it doesn't make us like it any more. Nonetheless it is both embarrassing and sad to think that we toss out those bits of excess here and there, and can even forget about something until it goes off, without appreciable economic consequences.

It should spur us on to contribute to ways that can make a difference for those who are suffering and have a real sense of gratitude for the grace that has resulted in the material blessings we have. When we pray, Give us this day our daily bread, we should realise just what a gift it is and how much more than bread we have been given.

We Thank Thee, O Christ our God,
That Thou hast filled us with Thine earthly goods;
Deprive us not also of Thy Heavenly Kingdom,
But as Thou camest in the midst of Thy disciples,
O Saviour, and gavest them peace,
Come also amongst us and save us.

Posted by david at 11:30 PM | Comments (2)

August 30, 2004

Back to the Chalkface

Tomorrow I go back to work. I am gainfully employed for the first time since I got the sack by email on New Years Eve 2002.

That's not to say I haven't worked hard, especially over the last year when I was in teacher training full time. I had to teach everyday and do all the academic work as well.

This blog actually began as something to do while I looked for work. I was putting out Meanderings fairly regularly, but this gave me a chance to write every day. Until I took up teaching, it seems I was either unqualified or over-qualified for everything. A few times I got an interview and came in second to someone with specific previous experience, and they don't give out silver medals to the best loser in the job race.

Only just a year or two ago, the Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year was just a probationary year and nothing to worry about. Now the Government has made it much more onerous and almost like a second qualification year. The difference is that you can repeat the training year if it doesn't work out the first time. The NQT year is make or break. If everything isn't perfect, there's no second chance and the NQT is barred from teaching at any level forever. Pressure?

I haven't blogged about teaching over the last year and I probably won't mention much about it during the coming year. That way if any colleagues (including those in a supervisorial role) or students come across this site, they won't find anything that compromises their privacy. I think it is better that way. If I was going to blog about the NQT year, I would probably do it anonymously.

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

Short Trousers

An odd thing happened this summer. I started wearing shorts. In public, I mean. (I wear them around the house, so I can easily pull down the silicon sleeve which otherwise keeps my artificial leg from dropping off.) I've never been one to go out wearing shorts. It has nothing to do with upbringing. My father has always worn shorts.

After I lost my leg, I suppose it isn't surprising that I wouldn't wear shorts, especially since I never had my prostheses padded and finished until I moved to the UK. It was included in the price - I just never had it done. I never minded showing people my leg, but I never fancied walking around in public with people seeing the steel pole connecting my stump and my shoe.

Now I just look like I'm wearing hose on one leg. This is because I am, in fact, wearing hose on one leg. That's what gives it the "natural" colour. It's not like I'm fooling anyone.

For some reason, when we were getting ready to go on holiday to Cornwall, I bought a new pair of shorts and I wore them. I even wore them when Mrs H was convinced it was too cold. I wore them everywhere. I thought maybe I didn't care because no one knew me.

Then the oddest thing happened last night. I wore shorts to shop at Tesco. Our local, just across the roundabout from us Tesco.

Maybe I am becoming my father and there is nothing I can do about it.

Posted by david at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2004

Hamsters for Fun and Profit

If you fancy a fur, but think mink, fox, sable, beaver, or chinchilla is just a bit too ordinary, there's still time left at the House of Bruar to get your hamster coat. And they're going cheap.

Originally £1,750, the Perthshire retailer has cut the price to move the stock. It seems animal rights activists threw a paddy and the coats were pulled. It also seems the store can't afford to just eat the costs, so they've had to put them back in stock to recoup their investment.

Unfortunately, if you were hoping to look like you belong in a cage running on a wheel, you will be disappointed. The hamster fur is only a lining for a loden coat. (A loden is a "jacket of Tyrolean origin, made of loden cloth, which was first handwoven by peasants living in Loderers, Austria, in the 16th century. The material comes from the coarse, oily wool of mountain sheep and is thick, soft, and waterproof" according to Encyclopaedia Brittanica Online.)

Nevermind - it is a great opportunity for animal rights activists to show pictures of little Syrian hamsters as the face of the fur industry. This has given them an opportunity to exploit the children's news media like CBBC with their message that no creature is made in the image of God and we are all a part of that great monist life continuum.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) only seems worried about the way the hamsters were killed. They were gassed and the SSPCA think the only way to kill animals without unnecessary pain is to put them down by injection.

News articles mentioned that it took 100 pelts to make the coat (or coat lining, as is the case). Now, we've had hamsters and even at his biggest, I don't think 100 Humphreys would have lined a large coat. However, it appears that the rodents in question are the size of guinea pigs. The pelts are supplied from Russia.

They say that guinea pigs are good eating. Hence the sign at a local farm park. I wonder what hamster takes like.

Posted by david at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

Death, Drugs, and David Blunkett

It comes as no surprise that the Government's sex education and teen pregnancy initiatives and policies continue to fail miserably. The abortion figures for 2003 have been released and the number of babies legally murdered in this country has reached an all-time high.

Last year, trained medical professionals separated the bodies and souls of over 190,000 children, beating the old record of 187,000 set in 1998. This does not take into account the "morning after pill" distributed like candy, nor the abortifacient effects of the Pill or other birth control methods. Of the 190,000+ abortions, 37,043 of the mothers were aged 15 to 19. That is over 1,000 more than in the 25-29 age bracket. 1,171 were under 15.

If you are a British taxpayer, you paid for 80% of those "procedures".

But it isn't just the teen pregnancy policy that's failing. Figures published Friday show that teenage drug use is increasing. Despite the hours and hours of anti-drug PSHE classes in school, levels of drug use amongst 14- and 15-year-olds is at its highest ever.

It's not just official policy that is the problem. It is the culture that the Government promotes. It has systematically and relentlessly attacked and undermined any residual Christian values and morality left in this godless land. It leads by example, when ministers have been caught up in scandals that would have required disgraceful resignation in the previous Government and any other before it. Instead they are supported, praised, and promoted. This is a Government that thumbs its nose - or more accurately gives two fingers (British readers will understand what I mean) - to any suggestion of accountability.

Most recently we've had a Home Secretary who refused to stop pestering his married ex-lover to such an extent that she had to use civil servants as witnesses to her demand that he leave her alone. Not that the civil servants weren't already aware of the relationship. After all, some of them were with him when he took her on foreign holidays, posing as husband and wife. It would be a bit ironic if the Cabinet minister responsible for law enforcement has to have a restraining order placed against him. But there is no suggestion that David Blunkett's position is less than secure.

That's the message of this Government. And they wonder why their policies don't work.

Posted by david at 03:42 AM | Comments (2)

National Death Service

Whatever you do, don't get sick in Portsmouth.

In not the first case of it's kind at St Mary's Hospital, doctors are trying to end the life of a child against the wishes of the parents. They are refusing to put Darren and Debbie Wyatt's 10-month-old daughter on a ventilator if she stops breathing. Just to be safe, because of the pesky European Court of Human Rights, the hospital is going to the trouble of getting a court order allowing medical staff to withhold treatment.

They wouldn't have to go to all this trouble if they had been allowed to kill David Glass six years ago. That's when they wanted to do a Harold Shipman and overdose him with diamorphine. They decided he was dying of lung disease and it would be in his best interests. His mother pulled out the drip and David Glass is still alive.

It wasn't until March of this year that the ECHR ruled that the doctors in the Glass case should have sought an order from the High Court before withholding treatment against the wishes of Mrs Glass. This new little hurdle shouldn't keep them from killing off little Charlotte Wyatt. There is an obligation to take into account (whatever that vague phrase means) the parents’ wishes, but the courts have yet to overrule medical advice.

If a doctor wants you dead, it's just a matter of time.

Posted by david at 02:42 AM | Comments (5)

The Cost of Truth

Surely they thought they were witnessing a miracle. West Yorkshire police (yes it's them again) clocked a Fiat Punto on the motorway at 115 mph. After all, the Punto doesn't even do 115. Not deterred by the laws of physics or the protestations of the driver (after he realised it wasn't a joke), they were determined to throw the book at him, get an automatic driving ban and an fine of up to £2,500 - not to mention sending his insurance premiums through the roof.

They picked on the wrong law student. It cost Steve Lucas £2,000 - cash he couldn't really afford - and 18 months, but he won his case when magistrates finally tossed the case. He had to hire a solicitor, a road traffic consultant, and a test track. They proved that the car in question, with a 1.2 litre engine, had an absolute top speed of 104 mph. That was only possible downhill assisted by a tailwind. At best, the cops were just plain wrong. More likely, they exhibited the level of integrity that we have, unfortunately, come to expect of our police.

Steve may have proved he was in the right, but the cops can at least boast that to beat them at their game is a Pyrrhic victory. The costs were such that he had to sell the car and drop out of his second year of university. He also had to plead guilty to overtaking a vehicle in the wrong lane, for which he was awarded three penalty points and £120 in fines and costs.

This story made most of the national newspapers here. You would think that West Yorkshire police would be a bit embarrassed. You would think a public apology might be in order. No, the police don't make mistakes here. They don't own up to anything. Several papers noted that the spokesman for West Yorkshire police refused to comment.

Posted by david at 02:12 AM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2004


One of the highlights of our trip to Cornwall was DairyLand Farmworld. We actually went there twice, because they give you seven consecutive days for the price of one.

Aidan was most impressed with the tractors everywhere. They were stationary, non-working models, but the steering wheel would spin on them. That's all he cared about. Give Aidie a large object with a steering wheel and he will stay occupied for hours. Once we got him inside the "Bullpen", the large indoor play area with giant slides and such, he really had fun, but as soon as we were outside it was back to the tractors.

The most interesting thing for Mrs H and me was the Cornish Heritage and Alternative Energy Centre - at least the Cornish Heritage part of it. It's the only adult thing in an otherwise children's attraction. (Otherwise, it cost £14 admission for us to supervise our under-3's-free toddler.) There were lots of displays of early machinery and implements. It was enlightening to see how people made a living in times gone by. By far the most resourceful seems to have been one Roger Giles.

And it wasn't all business. There was a spiritual side as well. I was surprised to see that Cornwall had anticipated one of the more popular aspects of late 20th century charismatic theology by 400 years.

The Alternative Energy Centre was a bit silly. All they had were a few little water pumps operated by little solar panels in a little patio area. A bit pointless, really.

Posted by david at 12:29 AM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2004

Ugly Anti-Americans

One of the advantages of travelling by train is the variety of reading material available. During the long train journey home on Wednesday night (see the blog entry below), I picked up a discarded copy of The Guardian, a national newspaper for which I would never actually part with money. As if I needed reminding why, I flipped through its pages to peruse the collection of what can only be termed piffle, drivel, and swill (a collection of adjectives first coined by George Grant).

In both "news" articles and op/ed pieces, the vitriol that pours out against America, Americans, and a certain American president is unending. And I'm sorry, but it just pisses me off. Sure, most of the press in this country is anti-American, and I suppose something had to take the place of the old Pravda when the Soviet Union collapsed, but The Guardian is just too much.

The worst of it all was an op/ed piece by veteran anti-American Polly Toynbee. She regards the fact that there are universities with unfilled places in American Studies programmes as a revelation of the increasing dislike of the US. She uses this as the jumping off point to attack everything supported by "Bushites in their daily, foul-mouthed email assaults on Guardian writers".

She talks about an ICM poll taken across a string of countries which she says reveals "a world that thinks America arrogant, less cultured, a worse place to live than their own countries and a threat to world peace". I have to wonder how many of the Brazilians, Indonesians, Jordanians, and Russians (about 1000 of each) have actually been to the US to know if it is a worse place to live than their own country.

She even lies about the data in the poll (perhaps assuming that no one would actually find it and look at it). She says that whilst all the countries polled except Israel have a majority against Bush, Canada, Australia, and Korea are least unfavourable. Of the three, Canada and Australia actually have less than 50% registering unfavourable responses. She also failed to mention that Russia also has a minority unfavourable to W.

But in an article about how bad America is, why does she use opinions of Bush? Because in the same poll, the opinions about America don't match the point she wants to make. Of all the countries, which ones actual have a majority with an unfavourable response about how the feel about America? Well, there's Brazil, France, Indonesia, and Jordan. I'm not sure what the Brazilians' beef is, but do the others really surprise anyone? Skipping France for the moment, you have two Muslim countries, one the world's most populous and the other sitting next to US ally Israel.

If America is so bad, why is everyone trying to get in and no one trying to leave? Maybe it's because when asked which best describes America, "free" or "unfree", even 87% of Indonesians responded "free".

And who cares what the Frogs think? After all, the French celebrated the 1944 liberation of Paris this week with no mention of the Americans, reprising the de Gaulle fantasy that Ike let him live when he entered Paris 60 years ago. The French had about as much to do with the liberation of Paris as I did. Two times in the last century Americans saved their collective sorry glutes and their lack of collective gratitude is as shameful as any American foreign policy with which they have disagreed over the same period of time.

But back to Ms Toynbee and The Guardian... Why don't these pinko whingers find the socialist paradise they crave? Maybe it is because it would have to be subsidised by American tax dollars in the form of foreign aid to survive.

Posted by david at 01:42 AM | Comments (1)

August 26, 2004

Public Transport

Yesterday, Mrs H and I took Abby to the US Embassy in London to get a Consular Report of Birth and apply for her US passport. We almost didn't make it.

Because of the cost of petrol, cost of parking, London congestion charge, and general chaos of driving in London, we decided to take the train. You can get from Hooterville to London by train via two different routes. One is cheaper than the other by £8, so it seemed reasonable to take the less expensive way. Wrong.

We had to change at Worcester Foregate. The train we were suppose to change to arrived at the station shortly after we did. However, to change platforms at Foregate with a pram requires taking a lift down to a subway and walking under and taking another lift up. The lifts will hold two prams. We were not the first in the queue for the lift, nor second, nor third. Our train left while we were still on the other platform.

Our appointment at the Embassy was for 2:00. Our original travel plans put us at London Paddington by 12:45. The next train to London didn't leave Foregate until after 1:00. But there was hope in sight. We took the train to Worcester Shrub Hill to catch the 11:08 Paddington.

Now we were going to be there at 1:30. A very tight squeeze, but we could still get there on time. Wrong.

The 11:08 doesn't go to Paddington these days, due to work being done on the tracks. We were told we should know that, because it had been posted at the station for days. The 11:08 now goes to Swindon, where we had to catch another train for Paddington. This put us at Paddington at 1:57. Not enough time to get to the Embassy by 2:00.

But this is the reason God gave us mobile phones. After an extended registration process to be able to put money on the phone, which took two calls, I rang the Embassy to explain our situation. After being put through to the US Citizen Services section, no one would answer the phone. It took ten minutes before anyone would answer. Fortunately, they didn't seem fussed that we were going to be a little late, but advised us to take a cab to get there ASAP.

It was Mrs H's first London cab, so I suppose it was worth the extra cost.

The experience at the Embassy was actually much better than we had with Aidan two years ago. Back then, it took all day. Because of the appointment system now in place, we were out of there in a couple of hours. We met a nice couple who are moving back to Wisconsin in four months. They will need to buy a snow plow. I didn't envy them.

We thought we might take the Tube to Paddington (since we had paid for it with our rail ticket). When we made it to the bottom of Marble Arch station at about 5:00, the trains were packed. An earlier disruption on the line meant that usually sardined Central Line trains were packed even tighter. There was no chance we were going to get on the Tube any time soon, so we ascended to the real world and wandered around Oxford Street for a while, sometimes in the pouring rain, thinking that we didn't need to be back at Paddington until the 7:18 to Hooterville.

We had a nice dinner at Garfunkels. We contemplated how we would get back to Paddington and decided to take one of the many buses with "Paddington" displayed. First we weren't sure which direction we needed to go, and the locals we asked were equally divided on which direction Paddington was.

Once we determined we were on the correct side of the street, we couldn't find a stop for the Number 23. Time started getting short. The 7:18 is the last train to Hooterville. We started looking for a taxi instead of a bus. Yet somehow, one minute there are taxis everywhere and the next there is not one to be found. Finally, we stumbled upon a bus stop for the Number 23. But you can't buy a ticket on the bus.

As the bus approached I found the ticket vending machine, which of course requires change. Digging around in my pocket, I found two pound coins - then the machine rejected one of them. The bus and it's very impatient Afro-Caribbean driver were waiting as I wrested the second ticket from the machine. We didn't know how irritable he was until later when someone tried to get on the bus when it was stopped but not at a bus stop. He shouted out a stream of sexual profanity, though it didn't seem to phase his London-hardened passengers.

We got to Paddington with moments to spare - or so we thought. When we walked in, there were too many people standing around for 7:15 in the evening. Then we found out that there had been no trains running for over an hour. Points failure in Southall. Fourteen platforms and no trains.

As trains started coming in and their outbound destinations were posted on the electronic boards, great masses of people rushed for them. Ours was the last of the trains in the backlog. We had to run from the area of platform 6 to platform 14. We made it in time and found seats. We should be able to sit tight all the way to Hooterville. Wrong.

At Oxford, we were told that we would have to move to the front three carriages of the train, as the back three would not be proceeding. So we bundled everything out onto the platform and up to the front of the train. Then they announced that in fact it was the back three carriages that would be going on. So everyone got up and pushed toward the doors to get off the train. But the doors never opened. Then they announced that, no, it was in fact the front three carriages. So everyone shuffles back to find seats. Finally, we left Oxford.

We got as far as Moreton-in-Marsh when they annouced that there had been a signal failure and we had to wait for the train coming in the opposite direction to pass us before we could go anywhere. It was about this time that we changed Abby into the last nappy we had.

They said it would just be about six minutes. They were wrong. Eventually we got to Hooterville about 11:30. The station was closed, so there was no one to open the gate to let us across the the tracks (we couldn't get the pram up and over the top). Fortunately the train driver had to turn the train around, so he took us up the track a ways and back to the nearside platform.

We had left our car at a nearby garage to get the MOT done, but despite the fact that it is just a short walk from the train station, Mrs H insisted on taking a taxi because it involved going down a small dark road into the industrial estate. So after two minutes and another £3.50 (10% of the cost of a train ticket all the way to London) we got our car.

It was a very, very long day.

Posted by david at 12:55 PM | Comments (2)

August 24, 2004

Fishing for Minnows

The cops are out in force. Like the boy detective Encyclopedia Brown in the eponymous stories I read as a child, West Yorkshire police have a policy of "no case too small".

It took 30 uniformed officers and 15 marked cars, but they nabbed Sandra Hughes. Not that she offered any resisitance. But you can't too careful with dangerous criminals like her. After all, she had allowed her local garage to use a black screw intead of a white one to attach her number plate. She drove around for 18 months obliviously flouting the law, but she was caught and punished. No warning for her. That'll be £30.

West Yorkshire police knew that a job like this wasn't one they could handle alone. They had back up. Their operation included Customs & Excise, the Vehicle Inspectorate, and trading standards officers.

And in case the nefarious 57-year-old grandmother was lying about her identity to get someone else to take the rap for her crime, she was fingerprinted on the spot. After all, identification is all important to the police. That's why her crime was so serious. Because the screw is the same colour as the numbers and letters on the plate, it might interfere with the automatic number plate recognition system. In other words, it might keep the cops from knowing who she is and where she is at all times.

Posted by david at 07:22 PM | Comments (2)

August 23, 2004

I'm Back...

Well, the computer never made it into the shop, as I didn't realise that they were closed on Saturday. However, we went to Cornwall on holiday in the meantime.

The day after we arrived, so did the flood that destroyed the village of Boscastle, just 10 miles up the coast from where we were staying. Boscastle is noted for its Witchcraft Museum. Mrs H and I were speculating that perhaps this flood reflected the judgment of God, but it appears that the museum was one of the survivors of the deluge. All of the cars in the car park, swept by the torrent down the main street and into the harbour, were not.

The only direct effect of the Boscastle flood was that we happened to be on the main highway in the area at the time and got stuck in traffic for two hours. Despite Abby crying her eyes out the whole time, our situation was not really comparable to the one up the road.

It was a rainy week generally. This limited some of our activities. Often we stayed inside expecting it to rain any minute or we ventured out only to get drenched.

Still, it was good to get away and have a change of scenery.

We stayed in the village of Port Isaac - not named for the biblical patriarch, but rather mutated from the Cornish word for corn - yzak. It is built on the side of a cliff, so as you might guess there is a lot of climbing involved in just getting around. The streets are so narrow that cars can only go one way at a time. However, they are so winding that entire queues of cars are travelling in opposite directions oblivious to each other until the lead vehicles come to an abrupt meeting. Even then, the occupants of cars further back in the pack may have no idea why things have come to a standstill - or stand off.

Travelling to other villages, we discovered this situation was not unique to Port Isaac, so each time we ended up in one of these queues we dubbed it a "Cornish situation". The one thing for which Cornwall does not seem suited is lots of visitors in cars. Unfortunately, owing to the natural beauty of its coastline, this is the one thing it possesses in abundance.

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

August 14, 2004


The computer is going into the shop later today for what is anticipated to be a week. Sadly, I shall be silent until it returns.

I will also be closing comments before it goes, because despite my efforts the spammers are continuing to use what little window of opportunity I have given them, managing just tonight to put 40 comments in just two pages of entries. So if you have anything to say, say it now!

Posted by david at 02:17 AM | Comments (1)

I'm Just a Re-tread

Karl commented in the previous post that he had blogged about YWAM and the Olympics last year. Actually, it was at the very beginning of this year, but nonetheless it is a good discussion.

Because I can't allow html in the comments, thanks to the evil spammers, I have moved the link up here so you can click to it, rather than copy and paste out the URL.

But don't let this keep you from commenting on the post below.

Posted by david at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2004

Losing the Saved

I debated about what to title this. It could also be "Invasion of the Faith Snatchers" or "Preaching to the Choir" or "What a Friend We Have YWAM".

Yes, folks it's that time again. Thanks to Serge for reminding me that the next fortnight will see a new invasion of Evangelicals into an Orthodox land.

Now I don't want anyone to think that just because I am complaining about the actions of a few Evangelicals that I am against Evangelicals altogether. I value my Evangelical background. (Most Ex-Ev Orthodox do.) I like Evangelicals. Some of my best friends are Evangelicals.

However, because one of the key symptoms of evangelicalism is historical short-sightedness, they often fail to realise that the first Christians weren't an off-shoot of an off-shoot of an off-shoot of the Protestant Reformation. The early Church would find their theology incomprehensible. So do cradle Orthodox.

One of the groups going to Athens to evangelise is Youth With A Mission (YWAM). On their website they say:

Recently, Greek believers asked Youth With A Mission to come and help them bring a witness to the world and to Greece at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. They requested that YWAM play a leading role in mobilizing international believers and locals and to help strategize a national evangelism campaign.

The spiritual state of Greece is poor. Probably worse that the YWAMers know. The problem is that they don't have the solution. The solution isn't to turn them into evangelical Protestants.

In their downloadable PowerPoint strategy presentation, they use phrases like, "Not a conversion but a relationship", and "Come as fellow Christians promoting commitment". Is this a ploy? Are they promoting committment to Jesus within an Orthodox context? Unlikely.

As Joshua notes on his blog (and I'm paraphrasing), will they be encouraging the Jesus Prayer or "quiet time", Divine Liturgy or American praise pop, the Sacraments and the Real Presence of Christ or a "personal relationship with Jesus"?

It is also our dream for the land of Greece to be re-awakened and revived from the spirit of religiosity that it is bound in. The problem is that Greece lacks "religiosity". If Greece is "re-awakened" and revives to the true religion it once had, it won't look anything like American charismatiosity, if I can coin a term.

Coin... It reminds me of how a small child will trade a small coin for a large one. Both are of value. Both are real money. But one is a tuppence and the other a pound. The Greeks don't need to bother with the tuppences they are offered - they just need to find the pound already in their pocket.

Posted by david at 12:39 AM | Comments (5)

August 12, 2004

License to Kill

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has granted a licence to perform therapeutic cloning using human embryos for the first time. This means that Briatin has become the first Western nation to embrace the cloning age. Parliament legalised it in 2001, but this is the first license granted under that legislation. Outside the UK, only South Korea, Singapore and China allow it.

The scientists at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne will not be the first to clone humans. South Korea researchers did it last year.

The purpose of therapeutic cloning is to create spare parts. The idea is to create a human, extract some stem cells and throw away the rest. Ethically and morally, this is not much different from IVF or embryo screening. The difference is that the life is being created outside the natural method of conception. Throwing away excess babies is nothing new.

However, the only thing that divides therapeutic cloning from reproductive cloning, i.e. implanting and gestating clones to full term, is the majority of a quorum of both Houses of Parliament - or just the House of Commons if the Parliament Act is invoked. That means 21 MPs.

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

August 11, 2004

Things You Never Cared to Know

The spork was patented on this day in 1970.

Eating at KFC and Taco Bell has never been the same.

Today is also the independence day of that country which played such a pivotal role in the 2000 Presidential election - Chad.

And it is the 2484th anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae.

Posted by david at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

As She Looks Out Her Window

Welcome to another UK Orthoblog, Elizabeth's The Garden Window.

Elizabeth has commented frequently here. Now I will must return the favour!

Posted by david at 02:32 PM | Comments (1)

August 09, 2004

Piping Up

I was praying before the evening meal tonight, chanting the Lord's Prayer in a fairly deep pitch. I never can remember the usual tune, so I find it easier to plain chant it.

As I was about far as "forgive us our trespasses..." when Aidan found something close to the pitch and started chanting, "Bless Daddy's dinner... and Mummy's dinner... and Aidie's dinner... and Uncle Michael's got a new bed..." Uncle Michael does in fact have a new bed, but how he worked that into the prayer, I have no idea. Suppose he just wanted Jesus to be aware of this.

Posted by david at 08:41 PM | Comments (4)

Thing I've Learned as a Wikipedian

Do you remember the functions of all the buttons on the Mach Five in Speed Racer?

Laura Ingalls met and married Almanzo Wilder after her family settled in De Smet, South Dakota.

Kim Sun-Il, who was beheaded by Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'l Jihad in Iraq, was hoping to become a Christian missionary in the Middle East. May his memory be eternal.

John Newton was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1982, 13 years before Charles Wesley and 21 years before Amy Grant.

One of my favourite dishes, the doner kebab, was invented in Germany.

Enoch Powell turned from atheism to Anglicanism, but believed that Jesus had been hanged rather than crucified.

Taco Bell was founded by a man named Glen Bell, hence the name. The first run for the border was in 1962 in Downey, California.

Posted by david at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2004

Forgotten Heritage

Why am I a history teacher? I am the last bastion of hope - the last chance to turn the tide of darkness in this ignorant land. Okay there is me and the BBC.

The BBC conducted a poll of 1006 people over the age of 16 in the run up to a new series on BBC2 called "Battlefield Britain". The results were, well, sad.

A third of 16 to 34-year-olds did not know that William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings. This, despite the fact that every 11-year-old in this country learns about it. It is a key fact in world history, not just British history.

Move ahead in time to the question of who defeated the Spanish Armada. I am not joking when I tell you that 6% of 16 to 24-year-olds thought it was Gandalf. You know, the tall bloke with the pointy hat that looks a lot like Ian McKellen and seems to fancy short, hairy-footed companions. The blending of fact and fiction doesn't end there - 13% thought it was Horatio Hornblower. Christopher Columbus was also a popular choice.

Or advance up the timeline again to the Battle of the Boyne. How many knew it was Catholic King James II's troops who were defeated by Protestant William III in 1690? Only 18% of those 16 to 24-year-olds - the group most recently out of school. Over the Pond, you may not be as aware of this, but realise in this country it is celebrated every July 12 by Orangemen and is the highlight of the marching season in Northern Ireland, a time always marked with strife. And everyone studies the Stuarts in Year 8 (7th grade) here.

But how about something even more recent - within living memory of some? How many knew the Battle of Britain happened during the Second World War? Despite all the media coverage of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings and that WWII is covered in both Year 9 and by most GCSE pupils, almost one-third of all age groups didn't know this.

Despite this, the Government wants to do away with the history GCSE and replace it with a "Making sense of the modern world" course, with watered down bits history, geography, and a good dose of citizenship. Of course when you have a Government that has systematically destroyed the historical institutions of this country, it is hardly surprising.

Posted by david at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2004

Indulgence Education

The Government's teen pregnancy initiatives are not working, even by their own admission. Last week the Department of Health sent out new guidance to health practitioners re-emphasising "a young person's right to confidential sexual health guidance". This new guidance also makes explicit reference to abortion for the first time.

In other words, just so everyone is clear, parents do not need to know if their daughter under 16 is having a surigical procedure to kill their grandchild.

But anticipating that this will not be a sufficient strategy, they have a new plan. They want to start handing out condoms to 12-year-olds. The scheme will be piloted in Halifax, West Yorkshire, starting in September with a view to introducing it throughout the country.

This will mean that school curriculum for Personal, Social, and Health Education (PSHE) will need to be changed. After all, as the teenage pregnancy co-ordinator in Halifax said: “Something needed to be done to not only encourage young people to use condoms but teach them how to use them properly. We have a checklist of criteria which has to be met . . . we want to ensure the young person knows what they are doing and has made an informed choice to have sex." Currently, pupils don't learn how to put on a condom until they are 13 or 14.

Posted by david at 04:40 PM | Comments (1)

The Real Issues

Pubicizing it as an effort to get rid of George W. Bush, ten different musical acts are involved in a 28-city tour through the states expected to be the swing in the November election. But if you think it is some sort of anti-war effort or even about Bush personally, you would be wrong.

In the words of Eli Pariser, executive director of the liberal political action committee presenting the tour, "The tour is aimed squarely at the radical right wing policies of Republican ideologues throughout the country." What are these radical right wing policies?

The political action committee is MoveOn PAC and they aren't spending any money on John Kerry. They are funneling donations to seven different congressional candiates. Who and why?

They are supporting Jon Jennings in the Indiana 8th, because the incumbent John Hostettler favours the "radical Marriage Protection Act (HR 3313) which removes the power of courts to determine the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act." They are supporting Lois Murphy in the Pennsylvania 8th, who "has spent her career fighting for women and families as the past president of NARAL-Pennsylvania". Or you can donate through them to Richard Romero in the New Mexico 1st because he is "pro-choice and opposed to the constitutional ban on gay marriage."

Do we see a common thread here? Let's see...

There's Jim Stork in Florida-22, "who is openly gay...focusing on critical issues including stem cell research...has been a leader on gay rights issues..."

And if you prefer a Senate race, spend your money on Joe Heoffel in Pennsylvania running against the never particularly conservative Arlen Specter. How can a Democrat stand out against Specter? According to his website, Hoeffel opposes the ban on late-term abortions, abstinence-based sex education, abstinence-based global AIDS funding, and any judicial nominee who opposes abortion.

So what are the "radical right wing policies"? When it comes down to it, they are anything that restricts sexual immorality in any way. For MoveOn PAC and the Democrats the real agenda is creating a legal and social climate where anything goes.

If you are thinking about whether to vote Republican from the top of the ticket down, all worried about the war in Iraq and whether it is the right thing, please don't be stupid. Wars come and wars go. And - shock! horror! - soldiers die. What is at stake is not control of a piece of desert in the Middle East.

Don't get me wrong, there are lives at stake. Lots of them. Most of them unborn. But there are also those lives that are influenced by political leadership that says right is wrong and wrong is right. Our salvation is not in the State, but though we are not of the world, we are in the world. And what we do in the world makes a difference.

Posted by david at 03:38 AM | Comments (4)

August 04, 2004

The Pooh

Aidie got a new Winnie-the-Pooh video a couple of days ago. This made me think...

Why is he called "Winnie-the-Pooh" or "Pooh", but never "Winnie"? Does this not strike you as a bit strange? I can't think of anyone else who has ever been known like that.

After all, a lot of people have been known "the" something or other.
No one refers to William the Conqueror as just "Conqueror". I don't think anyone ever called Attila "Hun" - except maybe his wife.

You can't really argue that it's because he's a fictional character. I've never heard Bob just called "Builder" or Thomas just "Tank Engine". What makes Pooh so special?

And what is a "Pooh" anyway? It may be strange, but generally appellations that include "the" seem to always mean there are others outside the immediate context. If he is "the Pooh" this implies that there are other Poohs. After all Uriah wasn't the only Hittite, nor Eric the only redhead, nor even Jack the only ripper.

Clearly I have too much time to think during the summer holidays.

Posted by david at 02:13 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2004

Where in the World

Aidie's geography skills are improving.

On his world map, he can now identify the UK (he knows that where he lives), the US (that's where Papa and Honey live and he goes there on the airplane), Canada, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, the Philippines. Sometimes he can point out India, Thailand, and Australia, but we are still working on getting those 100% the first time.

It may be too ambitious to hope he will identify all of the countries of the world before he is turns three, but we have over five months to work on it.

Posted by david at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)