January 31, 2005

Memory Eternal

Today is the first anniversary of the repose of my brother Dean.

As is the Orthodox tradition on this occasion, your prayers are appreciated.

Remember as well my parents and my sister-in-law, for whom this has been an especially difficult year.

Memory eternal!

Posted by david at 12:00 AM | Comments (5)

January 26, 2005

Pot and Kettle

Brits like to characterise America as a violent lawless place, so unlike these gentle shores, populated with the sensible people sharing enlightened Euro-values. Once again, it is time to put this in perspective with those pesky little crime figures. With a Government that spins everything on an axis tilted to give it an eternal summer, they were hard pressed to get out of the hard, cold facts.

Violent crime is up by six percent. No big surprise there. This is a violent country. People used to just beat the crap out of each other, but since the Government took away all the guns in their first year in power, gun crime has steadily risen. Firearms offences rose by another five percent last year to 10,670.

Sexual offences rose by 22%. The Government explains that this rise is due to the creation of new offences, such as administering a date-rape drug. So in other words, people were doing some really bad things already -- we just hadn't bothered criminalising it until now.

Some of this may be related to the fact admitted by the Home Secretary that one in four boys between the ages of 14 and 17 admits to being a serious, or prolific, offender. The Government did not say what percentage they comprise of the 3.8 million active offenders in England and Wales. That is over 7% of the overall population.

The Home Secretary blames much of the problem on alcohol. We are building a massive problem for the future if we do not really hammer alcohol-related crime. There is no doubt about that, for both health and social reasons. Anyone who goes on to the streets of some of our town centres on Friday or Saturday nights knows there is a major issue that needs to be addressed. There has not been sufficient working together between communities themselves, police and the alcohol industry themselves to ensure people behave in a responsible way.

Notice that everyone else is to blame: communities, police, the alcohol industry. This is the same Government that has now changed the law to allow alcohol to be sold 24 hours a day. This is to reduce drinking. I kid you not. If pubs don't close at 11pm and clubs can stay open past 2am, then there will be a reduction in binge drinking, because everyone won't be trying to get drunk as fast as possible. Then they won't all spill out of pubs and clubs at the same time, so there will be no more street violence. According to opinion polls, no one believes this except for the Government.

The real Government policy: Let them get as drunk as they want to and stay drunk all night long. As long as they don't leave the pubs and clubs, there won't be that peksy CCTV footage of street fights to show on telly.

If most Americans could see the real Britain at night - and this sort of thing is the usual experience even in backwater cities like Hooterville - they would realise what a more civilised nation they are.

Posted by david at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

Super Relapsarian

The bug just won't die. I went to the doctor to see about it and he suggested that I stay off work at least until Friday, if not Monday. This means I will still be working fast and furious, but on marking assessments and writing reports and Targets for Learning, which are all due on Monday.

So if you wonder why I'm hardly writing, it the combination of work at home and staying in bed as much as possible, with paracetemol and plenty of liquids.

Posted by david at 12:38 AM | Comments (3)

January 25, 2005

Many Years!

It was three years ago just about now that 56 hours of labour came to an end with an emergency c-section.

Then:

And now:

Posted by david at 01:27 AM | Comments (4)

January 22, 2005

Recovering

This virus just won't let go.

I actually made it to work Thursday (but left early) and Friday. Tonight we were supposed to go out an celebrate the award of a PhD to a friend, but I just wasn't up to it. I rang with our apologies before I had been outside. When I did go out, it was very cold and snowing heavily. Probably would not have been a good night to brave the weather in my weakened condition anyway.

Aidan is the only one who is close to being back to normal. Kelly and Abby are still suffering as well.

Your continued prayers are solicited.

Posted by david at 11:18 PM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2005

Brainless

And in second hat tip to Greg Wallace (or the fourth in two days), I will only include the link to this article written back on 1993. I've worked in fast food - okay in pizza, which is semi-fast food - but this is the sort of brain power I often worked alongside.

It reminds me of the girl I used to work with who, upon meeting the then-future Mrs H, asked if there were a lot of African-Americans in England (nevermind that Mrs H is from Wales). When Mrs H tried to explain that there were almost no African-Americans in England but that there were lots of black people, the poor girl could just not get her head around it.

Posted by david at 01:03 AM | Comments (3)

Sometimes a Good Jury is Hard to Find

The first of a another double-bill hat tip is due Greg Wallace for this story which can only be copied in full. The story is from the Associated Press:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Defense attorney Leslie Ballin called it the "jury pool from hell." The group of prospective jurors was summoned to listen to a case of Tennessee trailer park violence. Right after jury selection began last week, one man got up and left, announcing, "I'm on morphine and I'm higher than a kite."

When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted of a crime, a prospective juror said that he had been arrested and taken to a mental hospital after he almost shot his nephew. He said he was provoked because his nephew just would not come out from under the bed.

Another would-be juror said he had had alcohol problems and was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. "I should have known something was up," he said. "She had all her teeth."

Another prospect volunteered he probably should not be on the jury: "In my neighborhood, everyone knows that if you get Mr. Ballin (as your lawyer), you're probably guilty." He was not chosen.

The case involved a woman accused of hitting her brother's girlfriend in the face with a brick. Ballin's client was found not guilty.

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

January 19, 2005

Lenten Justice

I know it's a long way off until Lent - since Clean Monday is the day before my birthday - but I was thinking about a conversation I had after Liturgy on Sunday during our patronal feast.

I'm basically a carnivore. I eat meat. Roast it, broil it, bake it, fry it, barbeque it - I don't care. I eat bread because it is useful for holding and eating meat. I tend to think of vegetables as a nice little garnish on the plate, just there to make the meat look even more attractive.

As you can imagine, I don't do Lent very well. I try really hard during the first week. Sometimes if Mrs H comes up with an attractive combination of fish and faux-meat dishes, I can go for week or so.

The bloke with whom I was in conversation at church is a vegetarian. When it comes to eating, Lent is hardly a bump in the road to vegetarians. I think vegetarians ought to be required to eat meat during Lent. That's right - every meal - a big ol' lump of juicy dead flesh on the plate. Bacon and sausage for breakfast, a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch, and a sirloin steak for supper. It only seems fair to me.

I am tempted to raise the issue of fasting foods generally. I know it is difficult to get readers to bite and leave comments if I get too controversial. Do you think that the designation of fasting foods was developed to best suit the needs of that place and time and have then been over-spiritualised to justify the lack of amendment since? Or, on the other hand, are they part of the Holy Tradition handed down by the Apostles, immutable and unchangeable?

And is it posts like this that keep me off a lot of Ortho-blogrolls? I wonder if I'm seen as a bit of an Ortho-liberal, what with admitting that I don't keep the Fast very well and questioning whether some traditions are entitled to a capital "T".

Posted by david at 09:43 PM | Comments (4)

Worthy Additional Reading

With a hat tip to Greg Wallace, I have to recommend two articles.

The first is P.J. O'Rourke's An Alternative Inaugural Address - what Bush should say on Thursday.

The other is Mark Steyn's op/ed piece in the Daily Telegraph about the furore surrounding Prince Harry's choice of costume for a fancy dress party. This is the story that won't die. Not only has it been front page news across the British media, but every other country in Europe has felt it necessary to pontificate on it.

One of my favourite bits from Steyn's piece:

The French sports minister suggested the "scandal" would undermine Britain's bid to host the Olympics. Londoners should be so lucky.

But, if I understand the concern of the sporting world correctly, being a totalitarian state that's killed millions is no obstacle to hosting the Olympics, but going to a costume party wearing the uniform of a defunct totalitarian state that's no longer around to kill millions is completely unacceptable.

The first bit of clear thinking published about all of this.

Posted by david at 10:32 AM | Comments (1)

January 18, 2005

Miracles Do Happen

Arhbishop Casmoussa has been released by his captors. They were initially asking for $200,000 in ransom. The Vatican has reported that he was released without any payment.

God is merciful.

Posted by david at 01:43 PM | Comments (1)

Struck Down

Our entire family has been struck down by a mystery illness. It started after church on Sunday. We are all in respiratory distress, with added digestive issues, if I may put it delicately.

It is so bad that I'm taking the day off of school. I struggled through yesterday, nearly passing out in period 1. I came home to find everyone else in ever worse shape.

Of your mercy, pray for us.

St Dyfrig pray for us.

Posted by david at 08:15 AM | Comments (1)

January 17, 2005

Targeting Christians

With all the fighting between Shi'a and Sunni groups in Iraq, we can forget that it has become a more dangerous place for indigenous Christians. Yesterday, Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, of the Syrian Catholic Church, was seized while walking in front of his church.

Sadly, as the murder of Margaret Hassan made clear, the terrorists hold Christians in at least as much disregard as those subject to their internecine warfare. Pray for his deliverance from evil.

I'm sure that short of a miracle, Archbishop Casmoussa will face martyrdom. Fortunately, his would not be a martyrdom based upon false hopes of sex with 72 white virgins. No, he will be hoping to see the Virgin Mother of God and with her worship her son, the true and living God.

Posted by david at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

Motivational Meteorology

If I ever wonder why I live in this country, I just have to check the weather. I see that it may be 40F here and down to 32F tonight with the possibility of a little snow or ice, but it is 11F in Indianapolis with a low tonight of 0F.

I didn't move here for the weather. It's just an added bonus.

Posted by david at 08:17 PM | Comments (1)

January 15, 2005

Colour My World

And this is what it really looks like.

Posted by david at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2005

All of Creation

The first pictures of the surface of Titan are in.

As regular readers will know, I have been an enthusiast about space exploration and travel since the days of the Apollo program. By my calculation, this is only the third heavenly body to have been viewed from the surface.

Space exploration is encouraged by the Psalmist, who said,

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?

For the Christian, Huygens presents new opportunities to glorify the Creator of all of the universe. In Titan, He created a world that wouldn't even be discovered by humans until 1655 or explored until 2004. And yet He crafted it as carefully as His terrestrial work. It may not contain the variety of Earth and probably contains no life, but it was spun into space by His hand for His glory.

On a sad note, many scientist with their non-theistic presuppositions will use Titan to try to bolster their cosmology, and once again they will heap upon themselve their own condemnation. Though he will not have been aware of Titan, St Paul tells us:

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 His as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

I am thankful for all the photographs, even if I can see what they cannot. If they had the eyes to look closely at every rock on the surface of Titan, they would see the fingerprint of God.

Posted by david at 11:53 PM | Comments (3)

January 13, 2005

The Sinner's Prayer

It will hearten all the Evangelicals out there to know that last night Aidan prayed the sinner's prayer. Okay, it wasn't some sort of recent version developed during the Second Great Awakening or the Jesus Movement, requiring the mention of various elements of the "Roman Road". He learned the original, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

Actually, I was trying to teach him the Lord's Prayer, because it is that with which we open our evening meal prayers, but after one run through realised that it was too much for him. We were working on it during our time together while Mummy was getting her 3-stone sticker (and her usual "Slimmer of the Week" sticker) at Fat Club. I decided that developing Scripture memory and tools for a rule of prayer deserved equal footing with our usual Wednesday night fare of "doing countries".

Now you may think that something like Jesus Prayer might be lost on a child 12 days away from his third birthday. You would be wrong. The only definition we had to learn was that of a sinner. He knows about prayer. He knows who Jesus is. (He can even explain the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.) And he knows about sin, even if he didn't know to call it that. He knows we he does something bad, like disobeying Mummy or Daddy, it makes Jesus sad. Whenever he apologises to whomever he has offended on earth, he knows to go to the icon of our Lord and say, "Sorry, Jesus". (If it is the little icon he can reach, he automatically picks it up and kisses it as well, though he was never told to do this.) He also knows that if he doesn't take it seriously, he has to repeated it until he respects the gravity of his actions. He even knows he's not supposed to do it again.

Posted by david at 11:25 PM | Comments (2)

Keeping Us Helpless

Despite all the pressure to strengthen the law in favour of householders who confront burglars, the Government has announced that it will do no such thing. The announcement by Home Secretary Charles Clarke was made to pre-empt Tory MP Patrick Mercer's private member's bill. This means that the Government will not support the bill and it is virtually doomed to failure.

Under the Tory plan only those using "grossly disproportionate force" would risk being prosecuted. I suppose this is an appropriate daytime response. In some instances you can assess the situation before acting. At night, a very simple formula should apply: dark + burglar = dead.

Posted by david at 02:06 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2005

Polemic Vacuum

I'm surprised no one took the bait with the last entry. Either my suggestions are so far outside the pale for my Ortho-readers that they don't merit discussion or my readership has dropped off considerably. Probably the latter.

Posted by david at 11:06 PM | Comments (5)

January 09, 2005

Beyond Tom Becket's Jurisdiction

Busy, busy, busy. Thanks to Year 11 reports, Year 10 coursework, lesson planning, and sorting out a new classroom, not to mention things at home, I have hardly had a chance to blog about anything. It's not that I haven't had things to say - just no time to say them.

Even as I am typing this, I am in the middle of putting together a lesson on Henry II and St Thomas Becket - oh, wait, 1170 is after 1054, so I have to call him just plain Tom Becket, I suppose.

Now even though the East and the West can't recognise each other's post-Schism saints - since of course being the real Church only that Church can actually glorify/canonise - I have always wondered if there are those on each side of the 11th century divide who are just a bit uncomfortable with the miracles attributed to the intercessions or relics of the other side. I know all the boilerplate answers, even going so far as the standard, "We know where the Holy Spirit is, but we don't know where He is not." (In other words, there are things we don't know that we don't know - this would be a great one for Donald Rumsfeld.)

I'm probably far too ecumenical for a lot of my fellow Orthobloggers. Someone may be piling up the kindling to burn me at the stake, but think both sides may be assuming too much in their ability and or jurisdiction to effectively declare the other lot to be outside the Church.

But since I deal with Becket as a history teacher and not an RE teacher, this doesn't affect my lesson planning one bit.

Posted by david at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2005

Georgia on My Mind

The best thing to come out of Georgia in a long time (and I mean Tbilisi, not Atlanta) has to be Katie Melua. I got 2-disc special edition of Call Off the Search with the DVD.

Mrs H had to exchange a Christmas present for her brother on Amazon and if I ordered something the postage would be free. It was cheaper than just buying the CD in the shops.

What a voice. Okay, she's also gorgeous, but I really hadn't noticed that so much. Being the ascetical, otherworldly, almost saint that I am, such things just pass me by. Yeah, right. But what a voice.

Posted by david at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2005

Crime, Policing, and Redefining History

The independent think tank Civitas has published the same conclusion that I reached a long time ago: Britain has some of the worst policing in the world. When you combine this with one of the highest crime rates in the developed world, the results are not good.

There are more than twice as many police officers today as there were in 1921. That's good, except that there are 57 times as many crimes committed today. The most spectacular rises have been in the post-war era. From the mid-1950s to the end of the '60s crime rose three-fold. By the end of the next decade, the numbers of crimes had almost doubled again.

Some areas of crime have been particularly profitable for perpitrators. In 1964 there were 3,000 robberies. Forty years later there were 101,000. That 30:1 ratio for outstrips the five household burglaries for every one in 1964.

Though it cites the change in attitude toward policing as a significant factor, the Civitas researchers, Norman Dennis and George Erdos, correctly find the root of the problem is in the amorality of this society. "A society on a large scale or a small scale ceases to exist when its members lose the capacity to agree on what facts are true and what conduct is good". It is no surprise that the police suffer from this same lack of moral compass.

This does not explain why equally amoral France and Germany do a better job of tackling crime. The best this Government can do is ignore the numbers before they came to power in 1997 and trumpet any reduction in crime they can achieve by manipulating the numbers, classifying and reclassifying offences. Any claim that crime is at historically low levels can only be based on the narrowest and shortest-term definition of history possible.

Yes, technically, yesterday is "history". As I write this, I still haven't had breakfast, so you could say that I'm eating at an historically low level. My calorie intake has dropped so dramatically in the last eight hours you would think I'm nearly starving. None of this changes the fact that I'm a fat bloater. Big as a house.

What the Government want to avoid at any cost is the obvious connection between the problem and their own social and moral policies. They cannot acknowledge that their assault on every institution which inculcates morality, especially the family, will necessarily result in a continuing disintegration into chaos.


Posted by david at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

Turks Behaving Badly

As longtime readers of this blog or my Meanderings will know, I don't think much of the Turks.

If you have been lulled into thinking that Turkey joining the EU is a good thing and that all the Turks need to do is clean up their prisons and stop gassing Kurds, you need to think again. With a hat tip to Minor Clergy, Major Problems, I recommend an article in the Hellenic News of America on just how badly the Turks continue to treat the Orthodox.

Posted by david at 04:24 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2005

The Circumcision of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ

It seems to me appropriate that the Feast of the Circumcision falls on New Years Day. Both represent new beginnings.

Circumcision on the eight day, the type and shadow of baptism, demonstrates our our new life in Christ. We even make resolutions, such as saying "I do" to the question, "Dost thou renouce Satan and all his Angels, and all his works, and all his service, and all his pride?"

How often do you see that on a list of New Years resolutions? You would only need that one resolution and the rest would take care of itself.

Posted by david at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)