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God Has a Sense of Humour
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Okay so my blog died..
How long can you hold your breath for?
Funny Signs
Beowulf Trailer
Did You Know?
Creationist Group Threatens Biology Lab
Christian Lobbies vs AWOL
The Anglican Church vs Sony
Atheist Divorce Rate Lower than Christian
Easter Fellowship Meal
The Long Hard Road out of Hell
Movies Movies Movies
The Transformers
Blades of Glory
Oceans 13
The Anglican Church vs Sony
Wednesday, 20th June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 19:04:21

Over the last week or so there have been plenty of coverage in the main stream press about the Playstation 3 game ‘Resistance Fall of Man’, and the fact that in part of the game a fight scene takes place in Manchester Cathedral. Now I won’t go in to many of the details as I am sure most people have heard about it, but basically the character in typical first person shooter style defends earth from alien invaders by shooting them; and in one level this takes place in the cathedral.

The problem being that Insominac (the Game Developer) and Sony did not get permission to model the level on the Cathedral. Further, Manchester has a gun problem, thus the Anglican Church is complaining that it is negative influence in a community with a gun problem, having such a scene set in one of their landmarks. And as such are now suing Sony.

Now, obviously in this situation it would have been far better for Sony to have got the full okay (which they have said they believed they had) to model a level after a building someone else owns. However, as to the rest of the situation, I do really find it a bit of a stretch. Studies have shown that games don’t actually drive people to go and shoot people, further that if anything movies might have more influence (although again its negligible, and really isn’t a causal factor). And yet where was the Anglican Church when films have been shot in their churches? Scenes set in churches in movies are extremely common, and this is no different for action films. The only difference that I can see here is that to film in a church is something you physically can’t do without letting them know you’re doing it. Whereas modelling a level in a computer game can be done without the priests and church members being aware.

As such, from what I can tell about this situation, and from what I have heard others say. This whole situation has the appearance of an Anglican Church pencil pusher trying to get publicity and probably money in a way that seems to reek of hypocrisy. Where were these Anglicans caring about public perception of the church while they were literally pimping out Westminster Abby (to Sony no less) for the anti-Christian thriller Da Vinci Code? I personally relished the opportunity to see a film with Christian (albeit anti-christian) themes with non-christian friends to chat about the content. But the bulk of the Church around the globe was publicly voicing opinions against the film while Anglican Church in England was lining its pockets with Sony’s money. At least with Resistance Fall of Man it is trying to be a work of Science Fiction, and not trying to portray history incorrectly in a way that takes away from Christ.

In this instance I think the best thing the Anglican Church can do is try to help the people of Manchester by ministering to them. Not trying to use them as an excuse to wrangle money out of a large corporation.
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Shrek 3
Wednesday, 20th June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 18:26:42

Last week I went to see my third second sequel of the movie season: Shrek 3. Having already seen Spiderman 3 (okayish.. but not great) and Pirates 3 (terrible film) I was rather tentative about how good this one was going to be. I was certainly hoping that the trend turned around with Bourne Ultimatum and Oceans 13 both just around the corner. And I must say that thus far it was the best 2nd sequel. Easily.

Now for context, I never actually saw Shrek at the cinema and was extremely surprised when I caught it on DVD. The second one I saw in the cinema and really enjoyed, although don’t think it’s quite as good as the first one (although Puss-In-Boots exactly what the doctor ordered). This third film I would probably rate as the weakest of the 3, but not by much. It sits right behind number 2 in my books. And really does justify it being made in the first place (which certainly can’t be said for Pirates 2 and 3 now that we have seen the whole story arc).

Just like the previous films there is a fair smatters of slapstick animated humour for the kids, and then a slew of jokes which will go straight over their head and have the adults smiling to themselves. I did also enjoy the way the story moved a little out of Fairy Tales and into legends, specifically Arthurian legend. It really is jumping to a group of characters that fits well, and is strong enough to keep the story motoring along.

If you enjoyed the first two films I would recommend the third on to you, it is more of the same fun, although while unlike Pirates, at the same time building on the characters, telling you more about them as people (or Ogres as the case maybe).
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Nuns show that beer is good for you
Sunday, 10th June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 22:25:30
Its not that often that one finds a story about beer being good for you. Red wine? Sure. But beer? Not so much. As I don't mind the odd cold one (although I am becoming a bit of a beer snob, as can be seen by the cheap beer people have left in my fridge for 4 months and it hasn't been touched) this is welcome news.

Although the study, strictly speaking, showed that hops are what is good for us. And as such it doesn't matter if the beer is alcoholic or not.
MADRID (Reuters) - A study in which teetotal Spanish nuns drank a regular half-liter of beer showed that beer may help reduce cholesterol levels, a group financed by the Spanish Beer Makers' Association said on Thursday.

The study also showed that the beer did not need to contain alcohol or to be drunk in large quantities to be good for you.

The "magic" ingredient is hops.

"Hops, one of the basic components of beer, may provide benefits ... in reducing levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides," the Centre for Information on Beer and Health said in a statement.

The experiment did not appear to have won many new beer fans among the teetotal Cistercian nuns who took part, chosen on the basis of their steady lifestyle and balanced diet.

"To be honest, if I needed it to reduce cholesterol or whatever I'd continue to drink it, but I wouldn't just drink beer (for itself) because I don't like it," Sister Maria Jose told Spanish state television RTVE.

Fifty nuns drank half a liter of beer a day for 45 days, then stopped for six months. Then they took 400 milligrams of hops daily for 40 days.

The result was a six percent reduction in total cholesterol among those with high levels, the Centre said.

"We did it for the good of humanity," Sister Almerinda Alvarez told the newspaper El Pais.
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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Sunday, 10th June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 16:26:16

Last week I saw the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and since I saw it I have been trying to think of something positive to say about it other than the fact it has made money. And, the search has been rather fruitless. Looking around other reviews online I find that this comment at Apollo Guide sums it up pretty well.
“The first five minutes make it clear this is not a film for little ones. The rest of its overlong 168 minutes manages to also eliminate almost everyone else.”
The longer the movie went on the more and more I cringed and was shocked by how bad the movie actually was. Considering that is a very long movie, meant that I was thinking it was a bad piece of movie making for a long time.

There seems to be a few fundamental things wrong with the film. The plot is far too mangled for no apparent real reason (as it’s still predictable), and there so no real attachment built (in either of the sequels) to the characters. So by enlarge your attachment to the character’s is purely running on from the first film, and the tank is pretty much empty. So while the movie does look very pretty (another good point) you don’t really care what happens to any of the characters. Further, when action sequences appear, in which you already aren’t phased if they killed someone off, they don’t and the movie makes so much fun of itself there really is little to no substance remaining.

One scene in the movie I did quite enjoy (although I know many didn’t) is the first appearance of Johnny Depp in the film. That said it also doesn’t seem to quite fit the rest of the film, and could very easily have been a deleted scene and no one really would have noticed.

So to wrap up this brief review, Pirates really isn’t very good. #2 and #3 Pirates rank up there with Matrix #2 and #3 as movies that were the quest for more money that did not add to the original film, and only left one with a bitter after taste. Catch it on DVD or TV if you feel a need to see it. But try not to spend much money on it, it currently ranks as my worst movie for the year.
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New Nessy Footage
Saturday, 2nd June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 17:30:50
This week has brought some fresh footage of the alleged Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. Below is the recent footage.

It doesn't really answer any questions, but just brings another round of "What on earth (or "int the Loch" as the case may be) is that?" So for a video which doesn't quite have the same effect watch this one as well.

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28 Weeks Later
Saturday, 2nd June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 16:09:30

Last Week I fed my zombie craving with an outing to see 28 Weeks Later. I had not previously seen 28 Days (have since ordered the DVD) and so was not entirely sure what I was letting myself in for. Some friends said they liked the first movie, others said they hated it. So I went in with a very open mind, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

Now, as a brief comment to context in my tastes: I am a zombie movie fan. I love the original George Romero movies, the remake of Dawn of the Dead is probably the best movie remake ever done. Shawn of the Dead is an instant classic in my books. I also own the Dead Rising video game. The Walking Dead comic series is also awesome reading. So really if that list of items make your skin crawl this movie is probably not for you.

The movie, from a film making standpoint, is going to not be enjoyed by all. It actually does some things that are a little unconventional. Its certainly not a film to take an epileptic to (I am no expert but in the way the action sequences are cut and massive flashing of light and dark at times it is rather jarring and chaotic. This was obviously the intention). The first action sequence really drops you into the deep end rather fast. And if this was a normal Hollywood flick (as opposed to being from a smaller Fox spin off studio going for the more arty/alternative feel) one feels that they would have toned it down I am glad they haven’t as the brutality and the shock of the event that takes place really does setup the rest of the film. And then gives the lead actor (Robert Carlyle in his best role since The Full Monty) some real emotions to then play with from an acting/drama point of view later in the film.

As a whole I enjoyed the film, and will probably pick it up on DVD in the future. But there are two things I will highlight that I loved about the film and one thing I hated. The first is more sorta general, in that the movies real strength is that it isn’t the same as other zombie films in the way the zombies act. (Yes I know that they are infected with the rage virus and thus not the same as George Romero’s Zombies, but they are trying for the genre. And the fact that they are different is the point) They actually aggressively go after people. They are fast. They aren’t the docile zombies. This actually makes them much scarier. Second is that the film is mostly about living with the fallout from a Zombie situation. Yes other movies have touched on this, such as Land of the Dead, but I think this is just about the best version of this in film. The comic The Walking Dead is a much better version still, although that is in print not film.

Now the fact that the things I loved about this movie were general, and the thing I hate is a plot element shows not only that they have made a good movie, but they failed to kick it up into the Film category because of lazy script writing. Basically the plot is and the film is all going well, and indeed it continues well after it, but the turning point in the plot is when a civilian with military access gets access to a zombie in quarantine and gets infected. It takes you right out of the film, and simply not believable that the military with all these strict protocols elsewhere else through the film would allow this to occur. Further the problem is created could probably have been created in plenty of other ways without this lazy bit of writing.

From a Christian point of view, this film has a lot of graphic violence in it. There is also a fair amount of language also. So if this is a concern I recommend you don’t see the film. However, that a side there are several ethical issues brought up in the film, and indeed are the centre of the bulk of the story though the film if you pay attention to it. Is the one more important than the many? What if that one is a child? At what point is it okay for the military to act upon a civilian population “for their own good”? Most are very sticky questions, and its films/literature like this that provides a context for such debate without there being real lives on the line, while also being graffic/shocking enough to illustrate a scenario.
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The Pistol Shrimp
Monday, 28th May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 08:53:12
I am sure I am not the only one that is frequently reminded by the sheer number of amazing things that are in nature. This video further demonstrates the amazing diversity and design in creation.

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Shark Rescue
Saturday, 26th May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 12:02:13
A Spanish team performs the rescue of a shark, with a very interesting development at the end.

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Spiderman 3
Tuesday, 22nd May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 19:14:53

So last week I got along to see the latest installment in the Spiderman series. With a title like this it makes the review process much easier as I don’t need to explain what the movie is or who is in it so much, and I can jump straight to what I thought. However, before I tell you what I thought of the third film, I will briefly say what I thought of the first two. Number 1 Spiderman I absolutely loved in the cinema the first time I saw it. Sure I hated the acting (if you can call it that) of the Aunt and Uncle (not to mention the Power Ranger-esque Green Goblin), but the fact Tom dies early on relieves much of that annoyance. I enjoyed it so much I wanted to see the film again, so I did. The second time in the cinema to see it I had a very great urge to poke myself in the eye with my finger purely for entertainment value. The second time through the movie to me felt overly long, and boring. The second film I promised myself I would not watch it twice at the cinema, and until this day I have not seen it again. As a result my thoughts on the second film are very positive. To me it was much better than the first film, although the Aunt still was painful. The train action sequence was amazing. And so I was ready for the third installment.

The most recent Spiderman film leaves me with several feelings. The first of which is that the movie wasn’t actually about Peter Parker the photographer, but a cunning demonstration of a Sin wave. The movie was great multiple times. The movie was total rubbish multiple times. It was basically a roll coaster between the two. I think this is the result of trying to make the movie everything to everyone. There was moments of great action (the first fight was great, and the best in the film), moments that fitted into the movie The Mask (not a good thing, what was that doing here), there were the required romance moments that are reminiscent of teenie-bopper flicks about high school romances, and then there were the comic book moments. In amongst all that there was obviously a good smattering of stunning visual effects, which in themselves alone justify seeing the film.

In the mad cram to fit in as much as possible into the film, they have created the problem of having too many villains in the film in my opinion. Sandman is the best in the film, and is great in the first half. However, his “reappearance” in the second half really is pitiful. Its almost like they have said “how can we ruin this great action sequences and general feeling we have with this guy?” and then set about doing it. Don’t get my wrong, the very final moments (I won’t spoil here) are fine, it’s the action component before it that was such a let down. Further Venom as a whole felt pretty clumsy. In my opinion they should have done Venom better (I can’t say how without spoiling things) and left Sandman in the first half of the film.

From a Christian perspective the movie is fairly benign really. There is no swearing, nudity or gore. This film is aimed for a wide a market as possible. Which as a result really means it also doesn’t have much substance other then a simple love story and a hero who has o find strength within himself (obviously no calling on God for assistance).

So my overall recommendation is to check it out, its not really bad, but its not really good either. An entertaining way to relax for a few hours and not use ones brain.
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What is Copyright Law?
Tuesday, 22nd May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 18:42:01
This is a pretty well made clip explaining what copyright law is all about. The irony is that it is made from lots of little clips taken from Disney films. For those who don't know Disney is one of the most well known studio's for protecting its own content. So to have its content "stolen" to explain what the law is brings a smirk to my face.

It is a bit odd to watch at first but once you get used to it, then it flows well enough. I hope you get a kick out of it too. :)

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100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers
Sunday, 20th May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 16:56:47
This has got to be one of the best youtube vids of a selection of snippets from movies I have ever seen. A must watch :)

For a list of the movies go here
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Wave Power Usage For Australia
Saturday, 19th May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 16:39:02
I just read this and found it pretty interesting. Odd that I did not catch this on the radio or in the paper here in Aus, but got linked to it from a US based website.

New technology harnessing wave energy could be the "holy grail" for providing electricity and drinking water to Australia's major cities, Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane said Thursday. The technology, developed with the help of more than 770 million dollars (636 million US) in seed funding from the government, works through fields of submerged buoys tethered to seabed pumps.

The buoys move in harmony with the motion of the passing waves, pumping pressurised seawater to shore to run turbines and pass through a desalination plant.

"The constancy of the waves even when the surface is dead calm means that you can build a base load renewable energy power station and that is really the holy grail for us, if you can produce renewable energy 24/7," Macfarlane told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Drought-ravaged Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth and the desalination of seawater is seen as one way of ensuring long-term water supplies for the big cities, which are all on the coast.

But with the process requiring large amounts of energy and Australia also trying to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming, the technology is seen as providing a double benefit.

Australia was uniquely positioned to take advantage of the technology for both its power and water needs, he said.

All of Australia's southern mainland cities' current water needs could be satisfied by CETO units covering an area of 155 hectares (about 70 football fields) of sea floor at around 75 percent of the price of current desalination projects, the statement said.

In addition, the "Wave Farms" would generate around 300 megawatts of zero-emission power, enough for about 300,000 households.

"If the project gets the go ahead this year, then we will be able to start construction in 2009, with full capacity achieved in 2012," Ottaviano said.
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Judge Doesn't Know What a Website is
Thursday, 17th May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 22:14:14
This is really quite surprising on several levels. For a start, that a person still doesn't understand what a website is, especially when it has been explained to them. And that a Judge, presiding in a case relating to material posted on a website would not make an effort to understand what he was actually meant to be passing judgement upon.
LONDON (Reuters) - A British judge admitted on Wednesday he was struggling to cope with basic terms like "Web site" in the trial of three men accused of inciting terrorism via the Internet.

Judge Peter Openshaw broke into the questioning of a witness about a Web forum used by alleged Islamist radicals.

"The trouble is I don't understand the language. I don't really understand what a Web site is," he told a London court during the trial of three men charged under anti-terrorism laws.

Prosecutor Mark Ellison briefly set aside his questioning to explain the terms "Web site" and "forum." An exchange followed in which the 59-year-old judge acknowledged: "I haven't quite grasped the concepts."

Violent Islamist material posted on the Internet, including beheadings of Western hostages, is central to the case.

Concluding Wednesday's session and looking ahead to testimony on Thursday by a computer expert, the judge told Ellison: "Will you ask him to keep it simple, we've got to start from basics."

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Greensburg: Before and After
Saturday, 12th May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 21:18:32
The disaster that took place a few days ago in the US that effectively wiped a town off the face of the map really is quite sad. While it is very sad for those that died, its a marvel that so many people escaped. The tragedy could have easily been worse if it was not for the early warning system in place. The following two images really do show exactly how complete the devastation really is.

(click the images for larger versions)

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The Host
Saturday, 12th May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 21:04:18

Last week I went and saw the Host, a (south) Korean scary monster type movie. Going into this movie I wasn’t expecting it to be that great. I have never been a huge fan of the mysterious killer monster genre. I am still yet to be bothered to see Peter Jackson’s re-imagining of King Kong. So I really was not expecting to enjoy the movie very much, however I found myself very pleasantly surprised by the film. And over the last week and a half I have been telling everyone I have seen to see this movie.

The movie is without a doubt a solid monster flick, but it also has so much more. The main characters feel like they could probably fit into an ensemble comedy movie that stands by itself minus the monster. The setup for the movie, and then many references to the American military throughout the film, also add enough material to label the film a political commentary. So with such a rich depth of elements in the film and with many genuine funny and scary moments, the film really does rise above most other movies in this genre. The movie also does away with a lot of the normal Hollywood gaff that makes such movies predictable. Overall this movie is like a breath of fresh air.

The characters in the film really are quite well written. They are a very believable normal family that certainly has many conflicts within itself, but when some person (whether it is a massive monster or the military with their scientists in plastic suits) tries to come between them they defend each other fervently.

There is some fairly cynical commentary of American within the film, including the implied creation of the monster as a result of pollution caused by a U.S military base. This part of the plot is in reaction to an actual spill that occurred in the year 2000. Further comments are in relation to the past usage of Agent Orange, although in the film referred to as Agent Yellow. In relation to these things the director said the following: "It's a stretch to simplify The Host as an anti-American film, but there is certainly a metaphor and political commentary about the U.S."

From a Christian perspective, if you compare the movie to a hollywood monster movie it is far more wholesome. If you directly compare it to Hollywoods latest monster flick "Snakes on a Plane" (which in itself was quite humourous), The Host has virtually no swearing that I can recall. Further, there is no nudity or sex scenes. The Host does not resort to such things to please the audience, and results in not only a better movie, but a much cleaner one.

So, to sum up: go see this movie before you see the American rip off version which won’t be a patch on the original. While I usually also watch American versions of foreign films, The Departed released last year was the first one that I have seen (of many) that was actually better then the original.
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