October 31, 2005


We live in a very mobile world. People often don't live in the same place for very long. I have previously mentioned how many places I have lived. But thanks to advances in technology and changes in pricing structure, physical addresses seem to change much less frequently than email addresses.

This has been particularly unhelpful in my genealogical research. The internet has made this work so unbelievably easier. Websites with GEDCOM files and family trees abound. Unfortunately when these are posted and the well-meaning poster even adds a note saying "Please tell me about anything inaccurate or missing" (or words to that effect), the email address is no longer valid. This is often true whether the stuff was left way, way back in say 1999 0r 2000, or even in the last year.

If something is posted somewhere asking for contact, it is important to keep one catch-all address valid. You might have a long-lost distant relative that is trying to get in touch.

Posted by david at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

Imperfect Images

I'm currently reading Encounter, the posthumous compilation of talks and interviews by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh of blessed memory. Answering a question about original and reproduction icons, he draws a wonderful analogy with the work of God's grace in our relationship to others.

There exist two completely different approaches among believers. Some, and maybe all iconographers, consider that an icon must not only be painted according to the canons but must be permeated with reverence and prayer and blessed in church, and that an icon which is reproduced in an artificial way is lacking something. I am made infinitely happy by the fact that contrary to the judgement of experienced iconographers, there are in Russia so many miracle-working icons which any experienced iconographer would call bad icons, but God bestows His grace not necessarily on perfect examples of the iconographer's art.

Just as through us, imperfect creatures that we are, grace is transmitted to others, so also God brings grace to people through imperfect human creations. I do not doubt that a paper icon, that has been torn, stuck together, attached to a board or to sticky paper, which represents the Saviour, the Mother of God or one of the saints, is holy in the fullest sense of this word (just as each one of us is made in the image of God , however much we are made ugly by sin and imperfection).

And an icon, I am deeply convinced, becomes holy not because it has been painted in one way or another, but because it has been taken, placed on the holy altar, and spinkled with holy water (in ancient times icons were anoined with oil just as Christians are anointed after Baptism) - and that it then enters into the mystery of the Church and of grace.

Posted by david at 08:45 PM | Comments (4)

Quiet Death

Until 2001 the abortifacient "morning after" pill coud only be obtained by prescription. This didn't fit with the Government's easy-come-easy-go attitude toward life, so they made it available over the counter.

So it was no big surprise tha this has become a very popular option. Now half of the women who obtain it do so without any advice from a health care professional. The number of 13-15 year olds attending family planning clinics has dropped. This is a bad thing - not because it indicates a drop in teen sex, but because they don't perceive the need for advice. Now only 9 percent of 13-15 year old girls in this country attended a family planning clinic in 2004-05.

Posted by david at 08:11 PM | Comments (1)

Digging Deeper

I'm all for using family names. I'm named after two great-grandfathers. I think I did fairly well.

Look through my family history I could have ended up with other traditional names. On my mother's side Hezekiah was quite popular as was Theophilus. On my father's side I have a two ancestors and an greatx4-uncle with the forenames Erasmus Lee and an great-great-aunt named Erasma. Solomon also runs through that family.

My parents used to say that they had considered naming me Solomon Hezekiah.

The discoveries continue. Tapping in a variety of family tree data (which is only as good as the research of those doing the compiling) it appears that I have found information on generations back to a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-
great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great (that's 18 of them, if you can't bother to count) grandfather Simon Cusack. I have reliable-looking dates back 14 greats to William Aldrich born in 1421. Prior to this, I could only go 9 greats back to Claus N Ganshorn born in 1594.

May all their memories be eternal.

Posted by david at 05:49 PM | Comments (4)

More Songs

Abby is singing more songs. She still sings Balamory, but she also sings "E-I-E-I-O" or more like "lee-li-lee-li-o". She tries to sing "Bob the Builder/Can we build it/Bob the Builder/Yes we can" - mostly ir comes out like "Bob a bo/da! da! da!"

But when I'm changing a poo nappy, she's started singing, "Dirty deeds done dirt cheap". She's not familiar with AC/DC, but rather one Mrs H's favourite bands, the bluegrass ensemble known as Hayseed Dixie. Surely she is clueless as to the humour in her choice of this particular refrain.

She's made up her own words to the Big Ben chimes that are imitated by our doorbell. She sings, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy."

Posted by david at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2005

Uncovering the Past

I thought I would get a lot more blogging done during this half-term break, but I have been absorbed in genealogy work the last few days. I'm well known in my extended family as the go-to person for genealogical information - it's something in which I have been interested since childhood.

I have been trying to get solid information across the board at least four generations back. Unil now I have been unable to get that information about my paternal maternal paternal great-great-grandparents. All I have had were names and a photograph. My great-great-grandmother is important because she provides my putative link to the Cherokee nation.

I have a first cousin who has been particularly focused on this set of great-greats. He made a breakthrough and the floodgates of information have opened. He found out that the name by which we knew her (Clara) was not her first name, but rather a diminutive of her middle name (Clarinda). History recorded no Clara, but of Nancy C. there is data in every census from 1850-1900. Unfortunately, nothing uncovered so far has corroborated the Cherokee link, though there is other family evidence in this regard.

I have also been continuing to uncover my family's sympathies during that Recent Unpleasantness, otherwise known as the War Between the States. Out of eight great-great grandfathers, I know of one that fought for the Northern aggressors and three that fought in defense of the South. One seems to have been a Yankee sympathiser who moved from a border state to union state during the war. Another family was so Confederate that some of them moved to Mexico rather than rejoin the Union, but I don't have any war records about my direct ancestor yet. I strongly suspect the other two were Confederate sympathisers if not soldiers.

The search goes on.

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

October 28, 2005

Historical Perspective

Jonathan Ross on the witch trials of the late 17th-early 18th century: "It wasn't a great time for people who were into herbal remedies."

Posted by david at 11:02 PM | Comments (1)

Document Tracking

Seems the US Government is concerned about how you might use your colour laser printer. Letting folks just print whatever and whenever may not be the best idea. Of course you are still free to print whatever you want to say - for now. But at least the Government will know who said it and when.

This isn't really news -- PC World published information about this a year ago. Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation has decoded the tiny yellow dots that are automatically printed on each page. They even have an web-based interactive decoder program. So now we can at least watch them watching us.

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

Mind Your W's and Q's

I'm starting to wonder if I should set up a whole category in this blog for things Turkish. Yep, those crazy Turks are at it again.

A Turkish court has fined 20 Kurds 100 new lira (about $75) each for displaying placards containing the letters "W" and "Q" at a Kurdish celebration. Those letters are not in the Turkish alphabet and under the 1928 Law on the Adoption and Application of Turkish Letters, it is illegal to display any signs using anything other than the official Turkish letters. It doesn't matter that the event was Kurdish.

Since W and Q are in the Kurdish alphabet, this make it difficult for Kurds to display their written language. The EU pressured Turkey to lift the ban on teaching and broadcasting in Kurdish, but the Turks have kept every possible loophole open to maintain as much oppression as they can get away with.

I wonder what Turkish ally George W Bush thinks of this.

Posted by david at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2005

Games Up

I stayed up last night to watch Game 3 of the World Series - the first World Series game to be played in the state of Texas.

Apparently this series has the lowest TV ratings of any World Series to date. I don't understand this. It is being played between teams in the third and fourth largest cities in the US. I don't know about Game 1, but Games 2 and 3 have been very exciting.

Well, Game 3 was exciting until I fell asleep in the 13th inning. It was nearly 7:00 am, after all. I had already taken out my contact lenses. I never should have stretched out on the couch.

I shouldn't be surprised that Houston lost in the 14th. They blew every possible opportunity to win. How many men can you leave on base and still expect to win?

So tonight may be the last game of the series. The 'Stros have played good ball. They have been competitive. They could have won any of these games. They just haven't.

I hope to watch tonight's game, but Mrs H might complain about my fourth all-nighter in a row.

Posted by david at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2005

Against All Odds, or, You Win Some, You Lose Some

October 25 is an important date in the history of wafare. Or more specifically, it is best known for lopsided battles.

It is the feast of St Crispin, which fans of Shakespere or Kenneth Branagh will recognise as the date of the Battle of Agincourt. It's the 590th anniversary of this key battle of the Hundred Years' War.

439 years later, the English were again outnumbered, but with encumbered with less competent leadership. The Charge of the Light Brigade was a disaster.

It was the Japanese who were outnumbered 90 years later in the climax of the largest naval battle ever. The Battle of Leyte Gulf sealed the defeat of the Imperial Navy in the Second World War.

Finally, 22 years ago, it was the Grendians and their Marxist allies the Cubans who were outnumbered as Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion of that little island nation to rescue 600 Americans who couldn't get into medical school anywhere under the jurisdiction of the Stars and Stripes.

Posted by david at 10:34 PM | Comments (3)

Spam Attack

For the last several days, the spammers have been out in force. My apologies to anyone who has to endure any of these attempts at advertising before i=I can get to them and remove them.

Posted by david at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

Are You Ready for Some Football?

A disappointing result to a very exciting game is how I would describe Game 2 of the World Series. Tonight is the night off for the change of cities, but that means I get to experience something else I don't get to see: Monday Night Football. Just because I prefer the Beautiful Game, also known as association football, this doesn't mean I don't like American football. And to make this possible, once again we have to thank the good folks at Channel 5.

I still don't understand why I like sports at all. I have never been particularly sporty. If anything I've always been the opposite. I was the puniest of the puny in school. You always hear about the kid picked last for all the games in PE? That was me. I had well-documented bad relationships with all of my PE coaches. I played one season of Pee-Wee league baseball, sat on the bench most of the time, and in my few at-bats never even swung the lumber across the plate.

In high school, the athletes were accorded a certain social status, which, given the usual seasonal statistics, was probably unmerited by any standard. They were the same ones who didn't pick me in elementary school and were not even in the same PE classes wth me in junior high (since they took "Athletics" instead).

Because I didn't live in a house with a telly from 1976 until 1986, I didn't see other than the occasional sporting event until I was into my 20s. Moving out to the western fringes of the Texas Hill Country, there wasn't must else to do other than watch the tube, so I became acquainted with accepted rituals of televised sports. I suppose boredom overcame resentment.

When I moved to Arkansas, I became ticket-buying crowd-participating fan of Division I college sports even though I had new bad experiences to put me off. During my first semester of grad school, I worked as a delivery driver for Burger Plus. The majority of our deliveries were to campus dorms.

I often made deliveries to the athletic dorm, serving up burgers, fries, and various other unhealthy fried foods to the stars of the hardwood and gridiron. On at least one occasion, the food I was delivering was stolen while the football players laughed at my attempt to discover which of them had absconded with it and exact any sort of payment. I remember that occasion because one of the chief culprits later became a big NFL star - a defensive player in the AFC West selected eight times for the Pro Bowl. I always enjoyed anytime I got to see him beaten by a wide receiver.

So I watch professional football knowing that most of the players, if not of such bad character as the aforementioned example, are at least the ones who treated the weak and the nerdy in their formative years with disdain and contempt.

I know that there are good seeds as well. There were at least one or two of the Colts who frequently the Christian bookstore where I worked in the early '90s. There are probably still some like Darrell Green in the league.

But all in all, there is not a logical connection between sports and me. And I'm not a fanatic by any means. Nonetheless, like Hank Williams, Jr., I'm ready for some football.

Posted by david at 12:13 AM | Comments (1)

October 24, 2005

Thank God for Channel 5

Being on this side of that great Atlantic expanse, I don't get to see many of the important sporting events that define American culture. However, flipping through the onscreen telly guide, I saw that Channel 5 was broadcasting a baseball game. 5 often shows baseball late at night (of course, given that we are five hours ahead of the Eastern time zone), but there is only one game going on tonight, Game 2 of the World Series. I have turned it on in the bottom of the 1st.

Being from South Texas, it is probably not a surprise that I am rooting for the Astros. I've never been a huge Astros fan, even though the first two major league games I attended were at the Astrodome (in about 1973 or 74, the first against the Giants and the other against the Big Red Machine). I've never been against the Astros in any way. However, I have no connection to the ChiSox whatsoever.

I have much less of an affinity for the Houston Texans and was perfectly happy that they were trounced by the Indianapolis Colts, taking the Colts to 7-0 and continuing the only unbeaten record in the NFL.

Posted by david at 01:56 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2005

National Inferiority Complex

There is something seriously defective in the Turkish national mentality. Why else would they need laws against "insulting and weakening Turkish identity"? Have you ever seen such a collective lack of self-esteem?

That is what Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk is charged with when he goes on trial in December. This is because he refuses to back down from published remarks acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. He didn't even use the word "genocide". He just stated facts of history.

Recently prosecutions under this law would indicate that he won't get the full three-year prison sentence. Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was convicted this month for the wording of a single phrase in a newspaper column and only got a six month suspended sentence. He will stay out of jail unless he repeats the offence.

The lawyers for the prosecution were not happy with the result. One of them said,"There was an obvious humiliation and result of this case should be at least two and a half years or three years criminal charge, but I think that Turkish courts are under big pressure due to these European Union accession talks."

The ironic thing is that Dink wrote the column with the aim of improving Turkish-Armenian relations.

Just to show that I don't have any hard feelings against the Turks, I'm going out now to have a kebab.

Posted by david at 02:27 PM | Comments (3)

October 22, 2005

Not So Stupid

If you visit this country from the United States, and you get past the historical sites and quaint quintessential tourist things, you will find that the British press treats America and Americans with extreme condescension. It is not that they are so much anti-American as such, but rather consider them rather stupid. If only Americans were more enlightened, their country would be a better place and could receive the official European seal of approval of which it is in need, if only it could understand this.

However, if I had a shilling for every student who has told me how much they wish they could live in the US, or even plan to move there at some point, I'd have, well, a lot of coins that are no longer legal tender. But I would have a lot of them. More than that, they respond with incredulity to my preference for living in the UK.

So many Brits want to move to the US that they are not eligible for the Diversity Lottery to get a US Green Card. In 2004, 3,180 American were naturalised as British citizens. During the same period, 7,785 Brits became Americans. That's nearly two and a half times as many becoming part of the much-maligned US electorate. That's something you don't see mentoned in the Guardian. Nor do they do the real math. The US has roughly five times the population of the UK. That means as a percentage of population, emigration to the US has 12.5 times more impact on the UK than immigration received from land of the free and home of the brave.

Even if many Brits have let themselves be influenced by the leftwing MSM in this country, and aren't always bright enough to think for themselves, most have more in common with their trans-Atlantic cousins than they think. For example, 70% of Brits favour the death penalty. Nonetheless, it will never ever be reinstated in this country. Our politicians are far too enlightened. They know they would be excoriated in the press. They also gave away their ability to decide such things when they signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and gave the European Court of Justice the ultimate say.

Silly Americans. They have the policies the British public want, and have kept their sovereignty as well. How stupid is that?

Posted by david at 10:10 PM | Comments (1)


It's that wonderfully feeling of knowing that Monday morning I don't have to start the day with back-to-back lessons of obnoxious 15 year olds.

This half-term is longer than usual. We get Monday to Monday off, then two days of professional development, so the kids don't come back until a week from next Thursday. That is a good long time not to see their little faces or hear their little voices.

Or so you would think. We made our weekly pilgrimage to the city centre today and I have never seen so many of my students in public in a single outing. And it is always the naughty ones that say hello. The nice ones - the ones I wouldn't mind greeting - always blank me.

Posted by david at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

Everyone is Happy

One source of conflict in our house has been resolved. Not conflict like fighting and arguing, but as in competing interests. We have gone wireless. At the same time there has been a reversal on the information about using my work laptop on a home network.

Now Mrs H and I can both surf at will. She can window shop (or should it be called it Windows shopping?), buy and sell on eBay, and whatever else she does, while I blog and browse fellow bloggers, read the endless news sources, edit Wikipedia articles, find lesson resources, and play online arcade games (have you been to PopCap yet?).

No more, "Can I look at my email?" This is Mrs H way of saying, "Even though you are really involved in something, can I now use the computer for the next three or four hours, so I can annoyingly laugh at funny links people have sent me or posted on my favourite forum - funny things I may occasionally let you see while you are sitting there watching the TV show about dirty houses (or fashion sense, or getting toddlers to behave, or whatever) I turned on that I'm not longer watching because I took the computer, but for which I have kept the remote seclude on or about my person."

Posted by david at 09:31 AM | Comments (3)

October 21, 2005

Up, Up, and Away

The new crime figures are out and here we go again.

From April to June this year, there were 6% more violent crimes than in the same quarter last year. There were 12% more than there had been during January, February, and March. Robbery is up by 4% over last year. And it's not just happening here and there. Street crime is on the rise in every police area.

Of course in the land of no guns, gun crime is up once again. This time it is another 5% increase over last year.

The big jump is in sexual offences. These are up by 12% over last year.

How did the Government respond to these figures? Unless you are used to the incredulity that is the normal reaction to New Labour spin, you will find it incomprehensible.

According to the Home Secretary, "This is a considerable achievement demonstrating the success of Government initiatives on crime reduction and should not be underestimated.

''However, I recognise that the fear of crime is too high - it is not enough to reduce crime if people do not perceive that reduction.''

That's right, it's our fault because we don't understand how an increase in crime is a reduction in crime. First there was Newspeak. Now there is Newmaths.

Posted by david at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2005


Tonight I was doing countries with Aidan before he went to bed. We now have a sort of children's world atlas and flag book, which divides the world into regions and shows the flags of the countries in each area.

We are looking at Western Europe and this map includes the various city-states. He pointed to the Vatican and said, "What's that?" I said, "That's where the Pope lives." He said, "Does he work in a shop?"

I told him that the Pope has his own little country. "He's a bad man, isn't he?"
"No, he's good man. Why do you think he's a bad man?"
"Is he the one that killed all the people?"

I didn't think he was referring to the Counter-Reformation, or even the sacking of Constantinople. "The one who killed all the people? The Pope didn't kill anyone."
"Where's the country with the man who killed all the people?"
Then I remembered the last time we talked about someone who had killed lots of people. "No, that's Uzbekistan."

He had managed to confused the Pope with Islam Karimov.

Only in the mind of a three-year-old.

Posted by david at 11:26 PM | Comments (2)

October 18, 2005

I've Been Tagged! I've Been Tagged!

I've always been out of the meme loop. David at Duc in Altum has tagged me to answer the following:

Five things I plan to do before I die:
1. Write a book
2. Finally get a Master's Degree
3. See my grandchildren
4. Visit Australia and most of Europe
5. Play in a band again

Five things I can do:
1. Play rhythm guitar
2. Teach people who want to learn
3. Turn a phrase (occasionally)
4. Write music
5. Sing

Five things I cannot do:
1. Keep any area tidy
2. Teach people who don't want to learn
3. Bookkeeping
4. Play any sports
5. Play lead guitar

Five things that attract me to the opposite sex:
1. Smile
2. Brain
3. Reasonably symetrical feature
4. The ability to do bookkeeping and tidying
5. Derriere

Five things I say most often:
1. "Excuse me, people!" (to my students to get them to shut up)
2. "Alright?" (to all the students who call out my name as I walk by, whose faces I can't place with names)
3. "Did I mention that I'm hungry?"
4. "Quick, like a bunny!"
5. "Come on, people! (after No. 1 doesn't work and before repeating No. 1)

Five Celebrity Crushes:
1. Reese Witherspoon
2. Katie Melua
3. Charlotte Church
4. Keira Knightley
5. Kylie Minogue

This has probably been around for a while, so I might be tagging people who've already been tagged. And I guess I better tag people that seem to some along here fairly regular, like:

Jim N.
Michael and

Posted by david at 01:34 AM | Comments (6)

October 17, 2005

Has the Trick Been on Us?

Greg Wallace has some very good observations on Halloween and the consequences of Christian withdrawal from culture.

Posted by david at 01:59 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2005

Price of Promiscuity

BBC's Panorama programme has has lifted the lid on the sexual health crisis in the UK.

Under the previous Government, STIs actually dropped. When Labour came to power, they deprioritised sexual health. They promoted promiscuity. Rates of every possible disease have shot up. Surprise?

All the old diseases are back with a vengence. Syphilis is on the rise. So is gonorrhea. But these are bacterial and easily curable with antibiotics. HIV infection is on the rise, at least in part because of the increased popularity of condomless sodomy. However two-thirds of new HIV cases are as a result of heterosexual relationships.

In Year 10 (ages 14-15), as a part of the RE GCSE unit which covers marriage and the family, we do a survey about views concerning views about sex. The survey asks for a response from 1 (strongly agree) to 10 (strongly disagree). The first statement is, "Casual sex between consenting adults is always acceptable." Without thinking about it or batting an eye, the majority give it a 1. Likewise, to the statement "Sex is a gift from God to be enjoyed within marriage," the response is overwhelmingly 10.

In the early 1990s, there was no wait for appointments at sexual health clinics. Now the wait is anywhere from two to nine weeks. 10% of sexually active people under 25 know they have chlamydia. How many don't know? With no timely treatment available, more and more of these cases will result in infertility. The birth rate is already way below replacement. In the next generation, who will actually be in the workforce?

Posted by david at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

Leading the Blind off the Plane

It is one of the most disgusting things I have heard about in a long time. Ryanair is a cheap airline. Really cheap.

Ryanair doesn't like disabled customers. Thursday,evening nine blind passengers were seated on a Ryanair jet at Stanstead, waiting to depart for Italy. Unfortunately, the airline allows a maximum of four disabled people on each flight. The crip quota had been met already, so the nine blind people were forced off the plane.

They were herded back to the departure lounge. They were gven no accommodation, no money for food, and some of them had to sleep on the floor.

Ryanair attempted to blame it on safety regulations. The Irish Aviation Authority said there was nothing contrary to the regulations in carrying those passengers. No other airline has a limit on the number of disabled people on any flight.

Ryanair also charges them extra. Since they don't use those fancy jetways, because its cheaper to stick to the stairs out on the tarmac for access to the fusilage, they were charging £36 for the use of a wheelchair to reach the plane. They did that until they were sued for discrimination and lost.

I hope these nine people sue Ryanair. I hope a court awards more than the £1300 compensation Bob Ross got for his wheelchair incident. And I don't think I will fly Ryanair any time soon.

Posted by david at 01:17 AM | Comments (5)

October 15, 2005

Barry's Bio Blog

The internet filter at school can make very strange decisions at times. One of these is to block the website of Barry McGuire as pornographic. Now that I'm back on broadband, I remembered to have a look here at home.

Sure enough, as expected, there's nothing in the least bit unseemly. In fact, the main part of the website is down, undergoing a makeover. However, since July, Barry has become a blogger. Most of it is biographical stuff. The latest entry is the story of his biggest mainstream hit, "Eve of Destruction" in 1965. I was particularly interested in this, because very early on in my occasional outings as a performer it used to be a part of my set.

At the time it was released, many people thought of it as a protest song. Barry explains why this was never intended.

If you wander through the archive of entries, you can also read about how his mother and aunts blew up his house and more of what it was like to work on a fishing boat out of San Pedro (for those who are familiar with the story about the dolphins on To the Bride before he sings "Calling Me Home").

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

October 14, 2005


I have been teaching my Year 9s about worldviews. We have been dealing with the nature of reality and therefore trying to understanding how our worldview might affect our concepts of reality.

As part of the lesson, each student answers a bank of seven questions, including "What is really real?", "What is the nature of the world around us?", "What is a human being?", "What happens when you die?", "Why is it possible to know anything?", "How do we know what is right and wrong?", and "What is the purpose of human life?"

With each questions they choose from six options the description closest to their belief. The answers are set up to help them define their worldview within six broad categories: rational agnostic, nihilist, theistic believer, humanist optimist, spiritual postmodern, and Eastern (i.e., Hindu/Buddhist). Note that there isn't an option for explicitly Christian - just theistic believer - you know, Christian, Muslim, Jew, culturally residual monotheist, or whatever.

This isn't a scientific survey and I only teach half of the Year 9s in the school, so I can't vouch for the other half. There was a broad range of views and a lot of 13-year-olds had equal aspects of more than one category. However, one aspect of the results was overwhelming. The number of students with a predominately theistic worldview was infintesimal. Out of all five groups I teach, there may have been two students in total.

Not only that, but there were very few whose answer to any of the questions was theistic. Not Christian, but just with reference to some sort of singular personal Supreme Being.

When the Son of Man returns, will he find any faith on the earth? Maybe, but England would not be the first place to come looking.

Posted by david at 11:27 PM | Comments (2)

October 12, 2005

Back on the Superhighway

The broadband is finally reconnected at the new homestead. Goodbye, dial-up. At the same time we have upgraded to 2MB, since it was the same price we were paying for 512.

My laptop had been in the shop for a warranty-covered repair, but after a week they still couldn't get the manufacturer to send the part. They've called and complained, but Acer haven't even responded to the complaint. Since it works okay as is, I picked it up until they let me know they have the part. Once they get it, the repair time is less than an hour.

Posted by david at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2005

A Peek Through the Wardrobe

Barbara Nicolosi over at Church of the Masses has attended a pre-release screening of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This is a review very much worth reading.

It's going to be very much worth seeing.

H/T: Kathryn Judson at Suitable for Mixed Company

Posted by david at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

Just Like I Said

The Telegraph has published the results of a teacher survey which echoes comments I made in my July Mental Meanderings. I didn't go so far as to say that parents should have to stay home with excluded pupils, but it's not a bad idea.

A re-worked version that that Meandering, focusing even more on the issue of parents and education, will appear in the December issue of Touchstone Magazine.

'Parents to blame' for poor school discipline
By Liz Lightfoot, Education Correspondent

Teachers blame parents for worsening discipline in schools and believe that they should be made to stay at home to supervise excluded pupils, a survey says today.

More than four in five said the biggest contributory factor to poor classroom behaviour was parents who could not control their children. Fifty-eight per cent of the classroom teachers interviewed wanted parents to be forced to stay at home to supervise children suspended from school.

Almost a third wanted parents punished for the bad behaviour or truancy of their children with the youngest teachers being the most keen on measures to force families to take responsibility. The vast majority said they wasted teaching time dealing with troublemakers.

Posted by david at 04:49 PM | Comments (2)

Contempt in the Press

Mark Steyn is his usualy brilliant self in the Daily Telegraph today, focusing on how the a supposedly secular press find intolerable anyone whose views are framed in any way by Christianity, but has all the time in the world for any issues raised by any Muslims.

Toward the end of the article, Steyn says:
Why is George W. Bush's utterly unremarkable evangelical Christianity so self-evidently risible but complaints from British Muslims hung up over the 11th century are perfectly reasonable and something we should seek to accommodate? Where is the secular Left's "insensitivity" when you need it? No doubt the bien pensants will still be hooting at born-again Texans on the day the House of Lords gives a second reading to the Sharia Bill.

Posted by david at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

Rummaging Through the Past

While sorting out the spare room, I pulled out my guitar to bang around on it. I wanted to see just how many songs I had forgotten.

I was rummaging around in the top of the case, under where the headstock rests, looking for a pick. I didn't find an elusive plectrum, but I did find the original draft of one of my best-known worship songs, the "Nicene Hymn". I wrote it on December 5, 1990, for those keeping score at home.

There was a brief time when it was being sung by churches on three continents. I taught it to a church I attended when I lived in London in 1992. The friend who had introduced me to that church while we were both visitng students from American law schools later that year went to China and introduced it to various churches there (whether he translated it into Chinese I don't know).

He found the woman who would eventually be his wife while he was in Shanghai. I sang at their wedding in Toronto - not the "Nicene Hymn" though. That was the wedding where I was also the official photographer (which was a job for the whole day) and helped re-write the wedding between the first and second rehearsals. The wedding was mostly in Chinese, though part in Cantonese and part in Mandarin. I was one of about half-a-dozen non-Chinese people in attendance. But that's a story for another time...

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

Playing Games

What do the words emir, knoll, mice, cuffed, dales, goth, signet, dimwit, aborts, hailer, carob, quay, and tiara have in common? They all appeared in the first game of Scrabble® that Mrs H and I played with our new set. This is the set we bought Saturday from Sainsbury before we knew that the £5 spent on plumbing supplies was not going to fix the broken toilet tank apparatus.

I had been wanting Scrabble® for a long time, but Mrs H wasn’t to be persuaded. Why she decided Saturday that it wasn’t such a bad idea I don’t know. Maybe it was the ⅓ of the regular price. She still won’t go for Trivial Pursuit® but there is still hope.

As someone of reasonable vocabulary I always felt I was a natural Scrabble® player. I did, however, suffer a famous defeat back in the early '80s playing against a Filipino with almost no formal education and English as a second language. I was also playing against an oceanographer contracted to the NOAA to measure tides, but he wasn’t the one who gave me trouble. We both lost to the Filipino.

In the game against Mrs H, I’m not going to say who won, because she thinks I’m only blogging about it to gloat.

Posted by david at 12:45 AM | Comments (2)

October 10, 2005

Flushing Money Down the Drain

I managed to break the toilet on Saturday. It’s the bit that pulls up when the handle is pushed down. This is the second broken toilet since we moved in.

The first one mysteriously stopped working while workmen were alone in the house. It was on a Sani-flow system that had to be replaced to the tune of £400. At least the first toilet needed a modern device. We can’t repair the other.

Mrs H went all around town to get parts. She found out that the toilet is at least 30 years old, because that’s the last time the model was manufactured. The parts can’t even be obtained from specialist dealers in London. All it needs is a particular little piece of plastic. I hope we don’t have to buy a whole new toilet over a little piece of plastic.

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

October 09, 2005

Bring Back the Dreary Weather

I don’t know that it is global warming. The non-alarmist scientists seem to think these things run in long cycles and we are just in a warming trend. Whatever it is, it seems like this country has gotten more temperate in just the last few years.

Here it is pushing toward mid-October and I have only worn a sweater for the last two days. Even that has only been tolerable in the mornings. I really wore them more out of the convenience of not ironing a shirt when I needed to be out of the house in short order. I’ve worn my leather jacket to school on a couple of occasions, but both times it has spent the day on the back of my chair.

Yesterday we had a short time of typical autumn weather – grey, cool, and rainy. I like warm, sunny days as much as the next person, but it was kind of like the return of an old friend.

Posted by david at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2005

Counting Again

I've been getting some mileage out of my revelations concerning the shortness of time.

Yesterday, one of my students was asking what the date was because it was covered up by the LCD projector screen. I replied that it was 7th of October 2005 and there would never be another one, so she should make the most of it. She didn't seem to think it was very important. She thought she had a lot of days ahead of her and this one didn't really matter too much.

I said, "I'm guessing you're 14." (It wasn't a difficult guess - nearly everyone is 14 at the beginning of Year 10.) "Let's say your life expectancy is 85. [Actually is it probably closer to 90, but I only calculated that later.] So you have 71 more years. Sounds like a long time. That's less than 26,000 days."

She was a bit shocked. "That's all?!"

"It's shorter than you think. How long do you think it would take to count those days, if you did it slowly - just one per second? Just over seven hours."

"That's like a school day!"

"Yep, if you came to school one day and spend the whole time counting, by the time you went home you would have counted out every day of your life. That's how important each day of your life is. You only get one shot at it."

Posted by david at 10:19 PM | Comments (4)

October 06, 2005

Reductionism Exposed

I have been thinking about the inherent problems with the idea of sola scriptura ever since I stumbled across a Baptist blog linked in comments on another blog. Fortunately, someone else more intelligent that me has decided to write about it at the same time. I thoroughly recommend Clifton's post.

Posted by david at 05:24 PM | Comments (1)

More Perceptions of Time

Last night I pondered upon the realisation that there are already only two more days left in the work week. It's almost time for the weekend again.

With some particularly difficult groups, you'd think my perception would be that the week would never end. But it zips by nonetheless. I does have its negative side, as in, I can't believe I'm already seeing this group of reprobates again. And an hour can seem like an eternity. But the week is over quickly.

We are definitely past the autumnal equinox. The mornings are darker and darker, so that even if I leave late for work - as I did this morning - most cars are running their lights on full beam in town. Another winter will roll around soon, with it getting light about the time the school day begins and getting dark by the time it ends.

I should look forward to the light and warmth of next summer, except that it will be the summer of 42.

Posted by david at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2005

What's the Story in Balamory

Abby likes music. Radio, TV, the doorbell - she doesn't care. She'll start dancing.

She's been singing the sound of the doorbell as well. It sounds like a grandfather clock just before the chimes begin.

Now she's finally singing words. For some reason she sings the beginning to the theme song of the BBC children's programme Balamory. She never watches the show. Even Aidan never watches the show. But he started singing the theme all the time and she's picked up on it.

So now she sings, very loudly, and over and over, "Ba-la-mo-ry."

Posted by david at 01:14 AM | Comments (3)

October 03, 2005

Talking Turkey

After hours and hours of talks, Turkey and the EU have reached an agreement on the terms of negotiating Turkey's membership. In other words, they have decided what issues will be on the table. And despite the visibility of protesters outside the meetings, one key issue will not be under discussion.

If you have followed my constant harping on Turkey, then you will easily guess which issue it is. It's that little matter of the Armenian Genocide and Turkey's persistent denial of it.

Only the French have had the balls (and how often can anyone actually say that?) to official recognise the genocide. It's no surprise that France's popular antipathy towards Turkey's EU membership is exceeded only by Cyprus and Austria. It would be hard to top those two, given that Turkey invaded and still occupies one-third of the former and was stopped from conquering Europe by the latter.

Even the US favours Turkey's admission. They need ostensibly secular Muslim states on their side.

Forget the malarky that Turkey is a secular state. Try sharing the Gospel openly. Try getting them to recognise the Ecumenical Patriarch, even though everyone else has for centuries. Try getting them to take all of the surveillance bugs out of the Phanar. Try getting them to give back all the church buildings they have stolen. Try getting them to stop bulldozing away the Armenian heritage of eastern Anatolia.

No, the US is concerned with where it can place a few warplanes.

The UK Government is more concerned about multi-culturalism. When Austria's foreign minister voiced opposition, UK foreign minister Jack Straw warned of a "theological-political divide, which could open up even further down the boundary between so-called Christian-heritage states and those of Islamic heritage".

That's right, Islamic heritage is real. Christian heritage is suspect, if not altogether imaginary. Everyone seems to have forgotten that Europe's Christian heritage far pre-dates Turkey's Islamic heritage. In fact, Turkey's Christian heritage far pre-dates its Islamic heritage, even if Turkey, in collusion with the US and UK, tries to obliterate it.

Posted by david at 10:40 PM | Comments (4)


You can never know everything that's going on around you. Particularly, you never know who might be watching.

A woman showed up at my parents' church yesterday and after the service asked if they had been around my hometown very long. My dad replied that he had been there since 1961. She then asked if he was related to me.

In my life it has usually been the other way around. My parents are well-known in town, so people would ask if I was related to them.

Anyhow, this woman was at school with me, though she wasn't aware of any classes that we had together. (Her name sounded vaguely familiar when my dad mentioned it.) She just remembered seeing me with my Bible and standing up for my faith under the sort of persecution especially reserved by teenagers for their peers.

She wasn't a Christian at the time and this apparently had a significant impact upon her. She said the memory of it had particularly significance for her when she had children, because even though we are about the same age, our kids aren't. Hers range from about 20 to about 13.

I know she hasn't seen me for at least 25 years. So you just never know the impact of living before a watching world.

Posted by david at 02:37 AM | Comments (2)

October 02, 2005


Today is the 170th anniversary of the Battle of Gonzales, the beginning of the Texas Revolution.

It is also the 55th anniversary of the Charlie Brown's first appearance in major newspapers in the Peanuts comic strip.

Posted by david at 01:11 PM | Comments (2)

The View

The other evening at dusk I was looking out the window that is opposite the landing on the stairs. The view is across a large parkland, with the dog run in the foreground, stretching to the trees lining the river, with the cathedral in the background. It is certainly the most picturesque view from any place I've lived.

First I thought to myself that it better be, as it is the most expensive view I've ever had.

But more significantly I thought about the simple fact that I will be able to enjoy it relatively few times. I looked at my watch and realised that in twelve hours time I would be looking out that window at the dawn. Then I would get home from work and it would be dusk again. But even if I saw it every day, those days will run out very quickly. Even if I live beyond the expectancy of the actuaries who set the premium for my life insurance policy, I've got less than 15,000 days left.

If I counted to 15,000 at a very moderate pace of one number per second, it would take just over four hours. I can count out my days in four hours. And frankly, the days seem to go just about that fast. It's no wonder as I spin toward each new day and away from the previous at about 700 miles per hour.

And the wheels go round and round
The sun comes up and the sun goes down
On the trivial and profound
Like Ezekiel we all watch
As the wheels go round.

In the meantime, I'll try to get my money's worth out of the view.

Posted by david at 12:16 PM | Comments (2)