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God Has a Sense of Humour
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Atheist Divorce Rate Lower than Christian
Easter Fellowship Meal
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Video: Millimeters Matter
Thursday, 3rd May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 18:03:11
This video is fantastic. A real must see advertisement.

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Shooter
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 21:26:37

Empire magazine said that this movie is best enjoyed after 3 beers. The guys sitting behind me in the cinema seemed to take their advice and brought along a six pack for the event, despite the cinema not being one allowing alcohol. However, the boys were probably quite happy with themselves as Shooter is the perfect movie for sitting on the couch at home with 3 or 4 mates, a few beers and a whole bunch of pizza.

Shooter is the story of a one man A-Team that is made up with the talents of Rambo, Macgyver and Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper’s character in Saving Private Ryan – The Sniper Guy). In the film he takes out people from well over a mile away, gets up close with a machine gun and knife, while also employing home-made napalm as a distraction when needed. Take all those elements and mix it a plot reminiscent of Conspiracy Theory (Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts), and basically you have shooter. Oh and a fair portion of red neck jokes too. It really was a very entertaining film that doesn’t even attempt to take itself seriously.

Mark Walhberg doesn’t really light the house on fire with his performance like he did in The Departed. But he also did not let the movie down in any way. Danny Glover likewise wasn’t turning in his greatest performance, but was indeed great fun to see on the big screen again. So all in all a fun movie if you aren’t expecting any great depth or an overly realistic plot. But there are some great lines and movie moments to laugh at.

From a Christian perspective the film does have plenty of violence in it, along with a fair smattering of language. It is not overly non-Christian in any other way. Now, while it does indeed stretch the truth to form its conspiracy in its effort to complain against the corporate military structure in America. It is worth noting that the agenda of said military structure is often furthered by the candidates that some Christian groups support. So while it is not the most acuate portrayal that situation, it is acting as a reminder to people that choose to support need to be well rounded morally in all area’s, and not just vocal in a few issues that tweak our interest on a local level.
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The Lettuce is Mightier than the Shotgun
Saturday, 28th April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 22:35:35
Strange though it may seem, this was the case in an attempted robbery in england recently. A shotgun wielding perp tried to rob a store, but an 82 year old man with a bag of groceries managed to clock him a few good ones (wind mill technique?), after which the man fled. Classic.

An 82-year-old man wielding a bag of shopping has driven an armed robber from a village post office.

George Smith hit the man twice with a bag containing an iceberg lettuce and bottles of bleach and washing liquid.

The masked raider, who had a shotgun, fled from the shop in Speldhurst, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, leaving the takings untouched.

Police praised Mr Smith for his bravery, but did not recommend other people followed his actions.

Officers are linking the attempted robbery to three other raids in the area since 7 April.
Source
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300
Wednesday, 25th April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 22:17:35

Last week I finally got around to seeing 300. It had been delayed a week or two by the friends I was going through not being able to go previously. Which considering that I am a massive fan of the comic was a little annoying. If anything it may have resulted in building up the film in my mind even more. Which, having said that you can now assume that yes I did find it as somewhat of a disappointment.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I think the movie is really good. And I recommend that everyone catches it in the cinema as it really is the prettiest movie I have just about ever seen. They really did stick extremely close to Lynn Varleys artwork from the comic. That alone will guarantee that I will purchase the DVD when it comes out. It is great to see a comic that has translated so well to the screen artistry. Sin City is really the only other one that they have been so bold with that side of things.

But appearance of the film aside, very little else of the film really left me going “Wow” (with exception of some of the fight scenes that were flawlessly choreographed). The film follows two stories: Leonidas and the 300, and his wife back at home. The Leonidas story line really was quite fine. There were several cringe moments with hammy acting + poor writing. And a few of the Persians characters were kinda uninspired/tacky. But certainly passable for a movie of its type. David Wenham and Gerard Bulter were both great to watch in their different ways. The remainder of the film is where the wife story line is spliced into the battle story line. Basically this has Leonidas wife back in Sparta trying to rally support, to get the real army to head out and join him. I am mindful of giving spoilers, but let me just say this: that it felt like something out of Days of Our lives. And that I would happily pay more money to buy a shorter version of the film on DVD without that plotline. It was altogether lazy writing and cliché.

From a Christian perspective, this is a film that depicts an ancient battle. And as such it has a lot of very well choreographed violent sword battles; often with hundreds of Persian soldiers being slaughtered. Further there are moments where the result of violence on civilians is shown and is likewise just as gory as the battle themselves. Battle aside; there is a sex scene, and some nudity. So generally speaking it really is not a film for people troubled by such things, and certainly not for children.
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Atheist Divorce Rate Lower than Christian
Thursday, 12th April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 23:21:18
The following snippet and source article I have seen scattered around the internet a lot in the last few days. I have seen it on at least 4 different non-christian (and some atheist) websites. So in the very least non-christians have certainly seen it, I hope plenty of christians have also seen it.
Barna’s results verified findings of earlier polls: that conservative Protestant Christians, on average, have the highest divorce rate, while mainline Christians have a much lower rate. They found some new information as well: that atheists and agnostics have the lowest divorce rate of all. George Barna commented that the results raise “questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families.” The data challenge “the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriage.”

Donald Hughes, author of The Divorce Reality, said: “In the churches, people have a superstitious view that Christianity will keep them from divorce, but they are subject to the same problems as everyone else, and they include a lack of relationship skills. …Just being born again is not a rabbit’s foot.”
Source

It really is a sorry tale, and one that probably is as the article states a reflection upon the poor support mechanisms within some churches, and possibly naivety on the part of the couples. Marriage is not a cake walk for anyone. It needs to be something that is entered into for the right reasons, and something that does require a lot of work to maintain to keep healthy. Christians are not excused from the trials and temptations of life purely because they are saved, in fact the direct opposite is true.
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Easter Fellowship Meal
Thursday, 12th April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 23:14:09
This comment isn't really any great in-depth opinion on anything really. More just a idea which my wife and I have put in action and recommend it to others.

As far as I can tell, across most Christian families, Easter and Christmas are times when they come together as a family. Both are great times. The food is usually great, especially with the turkey at Christmas. However, the meal is usually all about the family and often not a great deal about the event. Further its not like you can really learn a great deal from each other experiencing these special times of the year, having spent every previous one with the same group largely.

So what we decided to do was to have a fellowship meal at Easter each year. We have even opted to make it the thursday (allowing the weekend to be taken by family events) of the week and give the meal a slight passover theme. I wouldn't go anywhere near saying that we celebrate the passover. We celebrate the Last Supper far more then anything. But it is a great reason to have over friends (both christian and non-christian). The past two years I have done roast lamb (on the rack), with an array of veggies. My wife has done desert each year and also baked some bread (although slightly leavened, although less then tho normal bread she bakes). As its only been going two years (since we got married) it is still a work in progress, But I do heartily recommend you also think about spending some time with people outside your family around these important dates on our calendar.
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Wild Hogs
Friday, 6th April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 14:10:19

Last week I went and saw a movie that I really wasn’t expecting to catch at the cinemas, but some friends wanted to catch it, and so I went. The movie was Wild Hogs. My thoughts going in, and indeed when I first saw the trailer 6 months ago was “oh dear… what rubbish” and “I bet every funny line in the movie is in this trailer”. So as you can tell, I was well primed to not enjoy the movie. But, when walking out of the film I realised that I had just spent the previous 90 min smiling and laughing on a fairly regular basis. It was by no means a great movie, but it was a bit of fun.

The film is very reminiscent of City Slickers. You have the friends, in a mid-life crisis setting, heading out away from their big city lives. In wild hogs you have Martin Lawrence (plumber come wanna-be Writer), Tim Allen (dentist), John Travolta (deal maker) and Willam H Macy (programmer). I am really not a fan of John Travolta or Tim Allen, however I do enjoy Martin Lawrence and Willam H Macy in most things; so actor wise it was evenly poised. Willam H Macy was by far the best of the lot, but even the two whom I don’t normally enjoy watching did not irk me too greatly. The love interest is played very well by Marisa Tomei, and Ray Liotta also performs well as the token bad guy.

The movie is full of plenty of somewhat juvenile jokes and cliché moments, but that is really to be expected in such a film as this. The thing that was probably more surprising was the level of homosexual jokes that were spread throughout, often involving a gay highway patrolman that they stumble across several times in the film. But beyond those there are plenty of jokes relating the jobs and the somewhat ridiculousness of the trip and the situation they find themselves in. So while this is certainly not a movie any critic is going to rave about it is one that will make you smile at jokes you might normally not admit to smiling at, which in and of itself probably make it a good movie for a dvd night with friends. Especially if shown after a more substantial film.

From the Christian perspective, as I have already mentioned there is a fair amount of homosexual jokes in the film, along with some crude heterosexual ones too. This is probably the main downer for the film as there isn’t a great deal of swearing in the film, or violence beyond the expected slapstick in a film of its nature. If it had not been for the level of sexual related jokes it could have been a great movie for the whole family, but it results in one that isn’t for children.
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Computer Fried Chips
Thursday, 5th April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 16:24:32
As a computer nerd this is one of the funniest computer mods I have seen in a while. Basically a guy has taken a PC and immersed it in oil, started it up, and then once the oil got hot enough, proceeded to deep fry some chips in it. I wonder how they tasted :)



Source
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PhD Topic: The Everyday Life of Bogans
Tuesday, 3rd April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 21:06:32
I am a PhD student. When i explain my topic to people laughter isn't a result I usually get. However when I heard what this guy is studying for his I almost crashed the car from laughter. This is one lucky postgrad.
With his steelcap boots, dark jeans and black t-shirt, Dave Snell doesn't look like your average PhD student.

But then, his PhD isn't exactly average either.

Titled The Everyday Life of Bogans: Identity and Community Among Heavy Metal Fans, Mr Snell's studies focus on the friendships and sense of community between fans of heavy metal music.

The 27-year-old was this week announced as one of four Waikato University students to receive government funding under the top achiever doctoral scholarships scheme.

Over the next three years Mr Snell will receive $96,165 to go towards his studies.
Source
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George Orwell's House is Surrounded by Video Cameras
Monday, 2nd April, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 09:43:06
I am a fan of Georges work, but the irony of this is a little sad. This image shows the location of video cameras around the streets surrounding his house. While none are looking in a window, big brother is certainly not far off.

According to the latest studies, Britain has a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras - one for every 14 people in the country - and 20 per cent of cameras globally. It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

Use of spy cameras in modern-day Britain is now a chilling mirror image of Orwell's fictional world, created in the post-war Forties in a fourth-floor flat overlooking Canonbury Square in Islington, North London.

On the wall outside his former residence - flat number 27B - where Orwell lived until his death in 1950, an historical plaque commemorates the anti-authoritarian author. And within 200 yards of the flat, there are 32 CCTV cameras, scanning every move.
Source
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Hot Fuzz
Thursday, 29th March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 23:27:47

There are two movies that I am especially looking forward to this year. One is a New Zealand flick called Black Sheep, the second is a British film called Hot Fuzz. Last week I went to see the later of these. It was fantastic.

Hot Fuzz is from the same people that made the great horror zombie spoof Shawn of the Dead a few years ago. Shawn is one of my favourite movies. I really can’t go past a good spoof, and Shawn was nigh on perfect. So needless to say I had massive expectations for Hot Fuzz, and I am glad to say that it delivered.

Hot Fuzz stars Simon Pegg (Shawn from Shawn of the Dead) as a big city cop who is too good. So good he gets transferred because he makes the rest of the police force in London look bad. So within the first 5-10 min of the movie he finds himself in the most crimeless place in all of England. The picture perfect town. A place where there hasn’t been a murder in 20 years, although, there does seem to be plenty of accidents. It is these that the story rides on as Simon’s character investigates these.

The movie does a great job at spoofing action and crime investigation shows of sorts, as one expects. Although I do quite enjoy the fact there are two levels of these sorts of jokes. There are the really overt jokes, where they even mention the source film (the American source material in 995 of cases) where as throughout the rest there is an endless list of little things that have been drawn from the likes of Midsummer Murders and Heart Beat. It is these subtle jokes which are there for those who have seen British TV shows that make the movie. They are pure gold.

From the Christian angle this film is, when boiled down, an action film that does in places depict purposeful and accidental violence; and sometimes quite graphically. My wife who does not like Shawn of the Dead because of the gore, but she did not have a great issue with the content in Hot Fuzz. Although it really didn’t appear that different in some respects to me. Its possibly a difference in sense of humour, and this one being in a context she enjoyed. There is also a fair amount of language through out the film. So be sure to go in expecting this.

Basically this is a movie that is a must see for the year, so if you have the stomach / sense of humour for it, then I recommend that you catch it.
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Choir with Added Subtitles
Monday, 26th March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 10:53:34
The church I go to has a choir, and quite often when they sing I sit there in total bewilderment as to what they are singing about, or of what musical value a piece has. It really does nothing for me whatsoever on a personal or spiritual level. C.S Lewis wrote about this once with similar sentiments. His discussion argued that so many hymns sung in churches, whether by the choir or otherwise, are no longer considered good poetry, or good music (this was over 50 years ago, and yet many churches still have the same hymns). Yet, as some of the laity do still enjoy it, that he would not object to this. Instead he would take it on as an act of humility on his part, to sit through the choirs item or perhaps participate in the corporate versions. It was advice I have taken on, and assuming the rest of the service is fine, I don't really have a great problem with these hymns anymore. However, the following youtube clip did really bring a smile to my face, and in some ways express my thoughts on many choral items I have heard while in church.


Granted, some of the subtitles can be seen as being a bit rude. But, when listening to the choir, exactly what else could be written that that fits? What springs to mind here is something my mother has said many times during my life: "God has Perfect hearing. Not that he hears what we are saying perfectly, but what me mean to sing". i.e the fact that many of us can't sing to save ourselves doesn't matter. As its still accepted as worship if it comes from the heart.
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Portuguese discovered Australia
Thursday, 22nd March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 23:18:58
It turns out that those cheeky Portuguese discovered Australia in the 1520's but decided not to tell anyone (incase they colonised it). However, the french then stole the maps of the east coast and managed to joined them incorrectly, and didn't seem to realise what it was. One way to avoid a war ;)
A 16th century maritime map in a Los Angeles library vault proves that Portuguese adventurers, not British or Dutch, were the first Europeans to discover Australia, says a new book which details the secret discovery of Australia.

The book "Beyond Capricorn" says the map, which accurately marks geographical sites along Australia's east coast in Portuguese, proves that Portuguese seafarer Christopher de Mendonca lead a fleet of four ships into Botany Bay in 1522 -- almost 250 years before Britain's Captain James Cook.
"It was even so accurate that I found I could draw in the modern airport runways, to scale in the right place, without any problem at all," Trickett told Reuters on Wednesday.

He said the shop had a reproduction of the Vallard Atlas, a collection of 15 hand drawn maps completed no later than 1545 in France. The maps represented the known world at the time.

Two of the maps called "Terra Java" had a striking similarity to Australia's east coast..
Source
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Man of the Year
Friday, 16th March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 21:44:28

The Second movie I saw last week was Man of the Year, with Robin Williams. I had high hopes for this movie, being a fan of fake news shows like CNNN, Chasers War on Everything, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. The trailer had me buying a ticket for this film after about 30 seconds.

The movie portrays a late night fake news presenter deciding to run for president and winning. Although, within the first part of the movie we find that there are problems with the voting machines (Laura Linney’s character works at the company that makes them). This makes the movie into a multi-political message movie. Not only is it making the statement that the politicians in the U.S are rubbish and someone like John Steward should run, but also highlights the issues within the voting machines. The film kinda from the perspective of the latter topic picks up where the HBO special “Hacking Democracy” left off. If anyone has not seen that documentary I really recommend it to you. Beyond that I will leave the political message of the film, and the discussion of it to you and any friends you watch the film with.

The film I found was very much like a childs drawing of an ocean. It was basically one big long wavy line. The movie had lots of highs, but equally kept falling into the lows. This is in part to some muddled writing and directing with them not seemingly being able to make up their mind as to whether to make a joke, make a political statement, or to develop the characters more. So in the end, the sum total is that it doesn’t really do any of these three things all that well, but does make for an entertaining movie, especially if you have friends around that can pass you food or drink to keep you entertained during the lows. Robin Williams and Christopher Walken are both great, although neither at their best really.

Basically, I think that the movie Dave with Kevin Kline was a better comedy that expressed the same basic message. And Hacking Democracy obviously covers the electoral problems in the United States in a far better fashion (the technology/flaw in software that is uncovered late in the film left me, a computer science grad student, and my similarly educated friends very disappointed, to the point of being insulted). Its worth a watch, but maybe wait for it to be on TV, or not a new release rental.

From the Christian perspective this film does have plenty of jokes in it that some people will find offensive. Christians are also the butt of a few jokes if I recall correctly. However, this is purely because some plenty of Christians in America do put their neck out there on issues they possibly shouldn’t and then in not leading by example then draw such fire for appearing hypocritical. A Christian should be evident in their works, not because of a badge they try to wear in the political arena. Granted some people who do this really aren’t Christians. But anyways, this comment has got way off track :)
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Rocky Balboa
Friday, 16th March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 21:18:55

I didn’t have time to go to a movie this week, and I was a bit sick. But as hadn’t written up last weeks 2 movies here we go.

The first movie I saw last week was Rocky Balboa. Now, this movie, as a concept, strikes me as odd. Pretty much for the same reason as anyone else. In some ways one expects the title to actually be something like Rocky: Stallone’s Grab For Cash. So needless to say going in I was somewhat skeptical.

Now as background, I have not seen all of the Rocky movies. Only 3 of them (1, 3 and 5 I think). And the bulk of those were a decade or longer ago. The only one I own in my DVD collection is the first one which I enjoy from time to time. So while I am no Rocky die hard fan, I am a fan in on a small scale. That said, this film, with its pie in the sky premise, sucked me right in and took me on a ride that I totally enjoyed.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a great movie by film judging standards. But it is a good film for entertainment value, which is often really all one needs. It really is just good, clean, fun, with plenty of touching moments as the persona of Rocky gushes on everyone around him. If you haven’t seen the other Rocky movies, but feel that you want to see this one, you are guided through some of his memories as we go. And also, Rocky’s son (played by Milo Ventimiglia from Heroes) has never seen his father in a boxing ring, so he is also lead through that process along with the viewers.

I hearily recommend it to movie nights on couches with friends everywhere.
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