Monday, November 29, 2004

ah, yes, well, er....

Thanks to JerkyLeBoeuf for the link to Zoom Quilt a fantastic bit of collaborative artwork

And just a throwaway as I approach the stressful time of year for a employers are working very hard to inform staff to be tolerant of each others' religions, reminding staff that Muslims will not be eating in daylight during Ramadan, for instance (don't invite them to lunch, and try not to eat your sandwiches in front of them, presumably); there have been cultural updates on various 'alternative religions' (given that Britain still claims to be Christian, even if Church and State should be separate by now...)

There was one indication of a certain lack of early indoctrination today, however, in an apology relating to a previous Christian briefing, about the meaning of Advent etc:

Please note that this should have read "Son of God" not "Son of

Seems like the plot of Holy Blood, Holy Grail has finally seeped into common consciousness.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Another birthday!

It is going to be Tilda's 3rd birthday on Monday. Wow!

I am still getting used to the idea of being a proud grandad...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Gifts of Hope - from CONCERN

Although it pains me to start discussing Xmas a month in advance, I think I must.

Being a disbeliever (not even a pagan) I always try to avoid getting involved with this festival, and at the same time not spoil other people's fun or be accused of being a Scrooge.

Last year I decided to set aside what I could afford (I don't even understand buying friends and relatives gifts on credit!) and then buy gifts for poor strangers around the world (which seems in the original spirit of the thing). I bought a few goats, and bags of maize, and some school equipment. What my friends and relations got was a sort of reverse book-token - a card saying "I spent £25 on a goat in your name".
And yes I am a vegetarian, and yes I know that goats (eventually) get eaten...but I don't wish to impose my beliefs on anyone, as I said.

Emilia's mother Severina "We suffered much in the war in Angola, and things became very difficult after my husband died. last year I received maize and bean seed from Concern, which I just couldn't have afforded myself. This allowed me to feed my four children. More recently, I also received a pair of goats from Concern. They provide fertilizer for our crops and we have given away our first kid so that another family can have goats too. In future when our goat gives birth I hope to sell the offspring at the market which will bring in money to look after my family".

So why not think about it. At least spend the money you can actually afford on Concern, and then (if you must) use your credit to buy unnecessary (but no doubt fun) presents for people who don't yet have everything.

Check it out here or ring them on 0800 731 5249 - and yes, they will send you a paper order form if you prefer.

Goats £25 School Supplies £15 Tools and seeds £30 Manual Water Pump £125 (Did you know that 200 million hours are spent each day by women and girs to collect water from distant, often polluted sources?) Mosquito Nets £10
7 Fruit Saplings £5 5 Chickens £7 Shelter Kit £40 Maize for a family for 2 months £90 Teacher Training £55

Monday, November 22, 2004

Honk if you love Jesus!

This has been around a while, and there are various versions, but this is roughly the wording that I heard Johnny Walker (DJ) trying to read out from an email, between snorts giggles and howls....

The other day I saw a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker. I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance followed by a thunderous prayer meeting, so I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.

Boy, am I glad I did! What an uplifting experience that followed! I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord, and how good He is... and I didn't notice that the light had changed. It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed! I found that LOTS of people love Jesus! Why, while I was sitting there, the guy behind me started honking like crazy, and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, "For the love of GOD! GO, GO!! Jesus Christ, GO!!"

What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus! Everyone started honking! I just leaned out of my window and started waving and smiling at all these loving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love! There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a 'sunny beach'...I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. When I asked my teenage son in the back seat what that meant, he said that it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something. Well, I've never met anyone from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign back. My son burst out laughing...why, even HE was enjoying this religious experience!

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me. I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed, so I waved one more time to my loving brothers and sisters, grinning, and drove on through the intersection. I noticed I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and I felt kind of sad that I had to leave them all after all the love we had shared, so I slowed the car down, leaned out of the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one more time as I drove away.

Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Happy Birthday to K

Always good for a laugh! I hope you enjoy the 22nd and the 25th...

Always feel better for a laugh...

Click pic to see larger

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Okay, it's in bad taste - but so is Dubya

One day in the future, George Bush has a heart attack and dies. He immediately goes to hell, where the devil is waiting for him.
"I don't know what to do," says the devil. "You are on my list, but I have no room for you. You definitely have to stay here, so I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I've got some folks here who weren't quite as bad as you. I'll let one of them go, but you have to take their place.
I'll even let YOU decide who leaves." Bush thought that sounded pretty good, so the devil opened the first room.

In it was Ronald Reagan and a large pool of water. He kept diving in and surfacing empty handed. Over and over and over. Such was his fate in hell. "No, George said. "I don't think so. I'm not a good swimmer and I don't think I could do that all day long."

The devil led him to the next room. In it was Richard Nixon with a sledge hammer and a room full of rocks. All he did was swing that hammer, time after time after time. "No, I've got this problem with my shoulder. I would be in constant agony if all I could do was break rocks all day," commented George.

The devil opened a third door. In it, Bush saw Bill Clinton, lying on the floor with his arms staked over his head, and his legs staked in a spread eagle pose. Bent over him was Monica Lewinsky, doing what she does best. Bush took this in disbelief and finally said, "Yea, I can handle this." The devil smiled and said "OK, Monica, you're free to go."

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Just to prove how old I am

I recently heard Bob's "4th Time Around" again, and remembered that it was a kind, satirical(but more honest) echo of John Lennon's "Norwegian Wood" (still singing in code about almost getting laid, while married to someone else). Bob's is so much closer to the stoned relationships of the 60s (getting laid, and then trying to get away - after 'liberating' any drugs lying around, and smuggling them over to someone 'kinder'). You have to hear the arrangements to hear why I think the songs are related. Here are the words, anyway (what the hell, everyone knows I am an old fogey by now). They were all at it then (Let it Be - Beatles /Let it Bleed - Stones)

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.
She showed me her room, isn't it good, norwegian wood?
She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere.
So I looked around and I noticed there wasn't a chair.
I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine.
We talked until two, and then she said, "It's time for bed".

She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh.
I told her I didn't and crawled off to sleep in the bath.
And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown.
So I lit a fire, isn't it good, norwegian wood.

Recorded: October 12, 21, 1965, Abbey Road Studios, London
- Rubber Soul
- The Beatles/1962-1966 (The Red Album)
© 1965 Northern Songs. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.
complete sample here

4th Time Around Bob Dylan

When she said,
"Don't waste your words, they're just lies,"
I cried she was deaf.
As she worked on my face until breaking my eyes,
Then said, "What else you got left?"
It was then that I got up to leave
But she said, "Don't forget,
Everybody must give something back
For something they get."

I stood there and hummed,
I tapped on her drum and asked her how come.
And she buttoned her boot,
And straightened her suit,
Then she said, "Don't get cute."
So I forced my hands in my pockets
And felt with my thumbs,
And gallantly handed her
My very last piece of gum.

She threw me outside,
I stood in the dirt where ev'ryone walked.
And after finding that I'd
Forgotten my shirt,
I went back and knocked.
I waited in the hallway, she went to get it,
And I tried to make sense
Out of that picture of you in your wheelchair
That leaned up against . . .

Her Jamaican rum
And when she did come, I asked her for some.
She said, "No, dear."
I said, "Your words are not clear,
You'd better spit out your gum."
She screamed till her face got so red
Then she fell on the floor,
And I covered her up and then
Thought I'd go look through her drawer.

And, when I was through
I filled up my shoe
And brought it to you.
And you, you took me in,
You loved me then
You never wasted time.
And I, I never took much,
I never asked for your crutch.
Now don't ask for mine.

Copyright © 1966; renewed 1994 Dwarf Music
Small sample here

Monday, November 08, 2004

It might be a long winter of discontent...

apologies to Niall Benvie - and the publishers of The Art of Nature Photography - David & Charles - used without permission - © Niall Benvie 2000 2004

Click pic to see larger

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Happy Xmas! - oh no! that's months away...

Click pic to see larger


Jonathan Miller's programme on a History of disbelief was most excellent. What a delight to hear someone else say they don't want to call themselves an atheist or an agnostic (why define yourself as against anything?) We don't have a special word for people who don't believe in ghosts or witches, after all. It just dignifies a stupid idea (that has admittedly been around a long time) to spend time trying to deny or disprove it. Who tries to disprove the Greek Gods any more? We just 'know' they don't exist, and are just folk tales - maybe instructive or entertaining, but not to be confused with 'real'. Anyway - I stumbled over another cheerfully blasphemous site today, which contained, amongst other things, this:

Top 10 Reasons Why Beer Is Better Than Religion
(by Steve Berry of the Texas A&M University Agnostic and Atheist Student Group)

10. No one will kill you for not drinking Beer.
9. Beer doesn't tell you how to have sex.
8. Beer has never caused a major war.
7. They don't force Beer on minors who can't think for themselves.
6. When you have Beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.
5. Nobody's ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured over their brand of Beer.
4. You don't have to wait more than 2,000 years for a second Beer.
3. There are laws saying that Beer labels can't lie to you.
2. You can prove you have a Beer.
1. If you've devoted your life to Beer, there are groups to help you stop.

Cheer Up!

OK, so I don't post regularly right now - most of my online time is spent at the Maybe Logic Academy, and the few hundred words a day (I promised myself I would write) all go into online courses I am doing there, as well as posts to the general forum (you can join in for $60). Even if you don't want to read/write in the forum, you can go visit to see 'story of the day' - and today's is "17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists" by Michael Moore. Rather than ask you to click through twice, I'll post it here:

Dear Friends,
Ok, it sucks. Really sucks. But before you go and cash it all in, let's, in the words of Monty Python, 'always look on the bright side of life!' There IS some good news from Tuesday's election. Here are 17 reasons not to slit your wrists:

1. It is against the law for George W. Bush to run for president again.

2. Bush's victory was the NARROWEST win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

3. The only age group in which the majority voted for Kerry was young adults (Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%), proving once again that your parents are always wrong and you should never listen to them.

4. In spite of Bush's win, the majority of Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction (56%), think the war wasn't worth fighting (51%), and don't approve of the job George W. Bush is doing (52%). (Note to foreigners: Don't try to figure this one out. It's an American thing, like Pop Tarts.)

5. The Republicans will not have a filibuster- proof 60-seat majority in the Senate. If the Democrats do their job, Bush won't be able to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues. Did I say "if the Democrats do their job?" Um, maybe better to scratch this one.

6. Michigan voted for Kerry! So did the entire Northeast, the birthplace of our democracy. So did 6 of the 8 Great Lakes States. And the whole West Coast! Plus Hawaii. Ok, that's a start. We've got most of the fresh water, all of Broadway, and Mt. St. Helens. We can dehydrate them or bury them in lava. And no more show tunes!

7. Once again we are reminded that the buckeye is a nut, and not just any old nut -- a poisonous nut. A great nation was felled by a poisonous nut. May Ohio State pay dearly this Saturday when it faces Michigan.

8. 88% of Bush's support came from white voters. In 50 years, America will no longer have a white majority. Hey, 50 years isn't such a long time! If you're ten years old and reading this, your golden years will be truly golden and you will be well cared for in your old age.

9. Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now.

10. Five more African Americans were elected as members of Congress, including the return of Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. It's always good to have more blacks in there fighting for us and doing the job our candidates can't.

11. The CEO of Coors was defeated for Senate in Colorado. Drink up!

12. Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away.

13. At the state legislative level, Democrats picked up a net of at least 3 chambers in Tuesday's elections. Of the 98 partisan-controlled state legislative chambers (house/assembly and senate), Democrats went into the 2004 elections in control of 44 chambers, Republicans controlled 53 chambers, and 1 chamber was tied. After Tuesday, Democrats now control 47 chambers, Republicans control 49 chambers, 1 chamber is tied and 1 chamber (Montana House) is still undecided.

14. Bush is now a lame duck president. He will have no greater moment than the one he's having this week. It's all downhill for him from here on out -- and, more significantly, he's just not going to want to do all the hard work that will be expected of him. It'll be like everyone's last month in 12th grade -- you've already made it, so it's party time! Perhaps he'll treat the next four years like a permanent Friday, spending even more time at the ranch or in Kennebunkport. And why shouldn't he? He's already proved his point, avenged his father and kicked our ass.

15. Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn't ever need to pander to the Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear that he should spend these last four years building "a legacy" so that history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and arrogant -- and thus, reckless -- that he will commit a blunder of such major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from office.

16. There are nearly 300 million Americans - - 200 million of them of voting age. We only lost by three and a half million! That's not a landslide -- it means we're almost there. Imagine losing by 20 million. If you had 58 yards to go before you reached the goal line and then you barreled down 55 of those yards, would you stop on the three yard line, pick up the ball and go home crying -- especially when you get to start the next down on the three yard line? Of course not! Buck up! Have hope! More sports analogies are coming!!!

17. Finally and most importantly, over 55 million Americans voted for the candidate dubbed "The #1 Liberal in the Senate." That's more than the total number of voters who voted for either Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Gore. Again, more people voted for Kerry than Reagan. If the media are looking for a trend it should be this -- that so many Americans were, for the first time since Kennedy, willing to vote for an out- and-out liberal. The country has always been filled with evangelicals -- that is not news. What IS news is that so many people have shifted toward a Massachusetts liberal. In fact, that's BIG news. Which means, don't expect the mainstream media, the ones who brought you the Iraq War, to ever report the real truth about November 2, 2004. In fact, it's better that they don't. We'll need the element of surprise in 2008.

Feeling better? I hope so. As my friend Mort wrote me yesterday, "My Romanian grandfather used to say to me, 'Remember, Morton, this is such a wonderful country -- it doesn't even need a president!'" But it needs us. Rest up, I'll write you again tomorrow.

Michael Moore

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

From Pravda

Theo van Gogh was killed for his views and support of freedom

03:34 2004-11-03
Theo van Gogh, the Dutch artist's great grand-nephew and a provocative filmmaker, was shot dead in a street in Amsterdam yesterday, police said, apparently because of a film he made about Islamic violence against women.
Van Gogh, 47, was stabbed and then shot several times by a man who witnesses said arrived on a bicycle as the film-maker was getting out of his car outside council offices in the Linnaeusstraat, in the east of the city, at 8.45am, a city police spokeswoman, Elly Florax, said. He was dead by the time ambulances arrived.
The suspected killer, a 26-year-old man with dual Dutch and Moroccan nationality, fled into the nearby Oosterpark and was later arrested after a gunfight with police that left an officer and a bystander wounded. The man was last night under police guard in hospital, being treated for gunshot wounds to the leg.
As the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, appealed for calm, one witness told Dutch media that the suspect had a long beard and was wearing Islamic or Arabic garb. The Amsterdam public prosecutor said the man had left a letter on Van Gogh's body, but declined to reveal its content until technical and forensic tests had been completed, informs the Guardian Unlimited.
According to the Scotsman, in a report by the Dutch national broadcaster NOS, an unidentified witness who lives in the neighbourhood said she heard six shots and saw a man concealing a gun. She said he walked away slowly, spoke to someone at the edge of the park and then ran. She added that he was wearing a long beard and Islamic garb and appeared to be Arabic or disguised as a Muslim.
Another unidentified witness told Dutch Radio 1 that the killer arrived by bicycle and shot van Gogh as he got out of a car. "He fell backward on the bicycle path and just laid there. The shooter stayed next to him and waited. Waited to make sure he was dead," the witness added.
The killing, which has been widely condemned by Muslim groups, could raise the political temperature in the Netherlands, where security for politicians was stepped up after the killing of the anti-immigration populist Pim Fortuyn ahead of the May 2002 election.
Mr van Gogh, who made a controversial film about Islamic culture, was shot dead as he cycled through the city.
Police say they have arrested a man with joint Dutch-Moroccan nationality.
Instead of holding a wake, protesters were asked by Mr van Gogh's family to make as much noise as possible in support of freedom of speech.
People banged on pots and pans, car horns were honked and whistles blown in response, publishes BBC News.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Look, I am a sort of anti-ritual guy. It annoys friends who don't get 'birthday cards' and it annoys people who want me to celebrate 'Xmas'. One thing I ask, though, is that if you are going to do rituals (and ask me to join in) then please be precise. Don't have your birthday party on 'the nearest Saturday'; don't start nagging me about Xmas in October, etc.

When I grew up in the UK I was told that November 5th and the bonfires were a drift/shift from the pagan Halloween date. Same bonfire, co-opted for political/religious reasons.

OK, but it wasn't the pagans who brought Halloween back in the UK, it was the capitalists (unless they're the same?) giving us the USA's 'Trick or Treat'. 'We' also had Mother's Day already in place, but 'they' gave us Father's Day and Granny's Day and you name it (buy a card for a couple of quid).

So, although I am not a pagan, I will point out (from my past astrological study) that if you must do rituals then at least get them right (empower them):

"Halloween's origin is ancient and astronomical. Since the fifth century BC, Halloween has been celebrated as a cross-quarter day, a day halfway between an equinox (equal day / equal night) and a solstice (minimum day / maximum night in the northern hemisphere). With our modern calendar, however, the real cross-quarter day will occur next week. Another cross-quarter day is Groundhog's Day. Halloween's modern celebration retains historic roots in dressing to scare away the spirits of the dead."
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