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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 Good Shepherd
Monday, 5th March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 22:21:07

Since I started to review movies on GHASOH I have not yet reviewed a Matt Damon movie. Much too many of my friends amusement, I am a big Matt Damon fan. Good Will Hunting is among my favourite films, and I love the Bourne series. So I was more then happy to go and see The Good Shepherd, with it having Matt Damon in the lead role. And for my fellow Matt Damon fans out there I can recommend that you see it. The role is quite unlike anything else I have seen him play.

Edward Wilson, the character Damon plays, is a founding member spy of the CIA. But he isn’t wearing his Bourne persona here. He is more the puppeteer then marionette. The character he portrays is cold and rarely shows emotion. In fact the only real time he seems to show any warmth or kindness it is to his sweetheart form early on in the movie, but once he enters the service, and that relationship is ended he never really shows that again. Throughout the bulk of the film he really is not all that appealing as a person. We don’t see the Damon smile that he wore throughout the films like Good Will Hunting, Oceans 11 and 12 or parts of Rounders. His transformation was a complete one.

That said one of my main irks of the film is actually relating to the character Edward. The film covers a time period of about 30 years. Starting with Edward in his late teens/early 20s and finishing with Edward being in his 50s. The character barely aged in that time. His glasses changed every few years, but that is about it. Whereas Edwards wife played by Angelina Jolie (who can’t really play a 20 year old, sorry, not convincing in anyway), aged well through out the film, and by the end, with gray hair and plenty of makeup she really did appear to be in her 50s. The fact you spend 99% of the film with the Edward character, seeing him work in highly stressful work through WW2 and the cold war up to the Bay of Pigs incident, he really should have aged quite noticeably, if not from stress alone.

As a brief final note on the Actors, Joe Pesci was awesome. It’s just a shame that he was only in the film for one scene. His performance was a real highlight.

The film really doesn’t move one a great deal. Some of the sadder events in the film were somewhat predictable, and not overly troublesome. So there isn’t to get from those. However the film is a whole is though provoking in relation to the CIA and its role, and how it has changed since its inception. While I am no expert on such matters and so I don’t really know how close the Edward character is to CIA founder, James Jesus Angleton, which he is based on, it certainly gets the thoughts going. It is this that the writer and director are aiming for. Who has power in our world, and how do they use it? What kind of people are they?

Overall, while not a great movie, it was quite well worth watching. It is likewise not the most exciting or happiest film of the year, with the subject matter being that of a somewhat cold and almost emotionless man.
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Swiss accidentally invade Liechtenstein
Saturday, 3rd March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 15:37:42
You can't help but smile at news items like this.
ZURICH, Switzerland - What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered just over a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.

"We've spoken to the authorities in Liechtenstein and it's not a problem," Daniel Reist told The Associated Press.

Officials in Liechtenstein also played down the incident.

Interior ministry spokesman Markus Amman said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers, who were carrying assault rifles but no ammunition. "It's not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something," he said.

Liechtenstein, which has about 34,000 inhabitants and is slightly smaller than Washington DC, doesn't have an army.
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Italian teacher cuts off noisy kid's tongue
Saturday, 3rd March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 12:21:16
The thoughtlessness (Read: Utter Stupidity) of some people is really quite shocking sometimes.
Milan - An Italian teacher has been suspended by her school in Milan after cutting off the tongue of a lively 7-year-old child with a pair of scissors, daily Corriere della Sera reported Tuesday.

The boy has since had his tongue stitched back but is afraid to go back to school. His parents say he suffers nightmares and runs away whenever he sees a knife. They are now suing the school for damages.

The incident took place a week ago but was only reported on Tuesday.

According to Corriere, the 22-year-old substitute teacher threatened the child twice with a pair of scissors before actually chopping it off.

'Pull out your tongue. I'll cut it, and you'll no longer talk,' she was quoted as telling the child.

The teacher, who has only been identified by her initials R S, has since apologized, claiming it was an accident.

The school's principal, Anna Maria Dominici, has suspended the teacher and ordered an investigation, saying her conduct could in no way be excused.
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Victoria Bans YouTube
Friday, 2nd March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 12:57:40
Here is another example of Law makers being out of touch with technology. Basically there has been some bullying occurring in some Victorian schools via YouTube.

Now I understand the need to curb the bullying but what we have here is a case of treating a symptom and not the cause. Exactly what do they think they are gonna do by blocking YouTube from all the state schools? Its certainly not gonna stop bullying, and it isn't gonna stop bullying via internet based video. There is now a myriad of YouTube clone websites out there. So now instead of having the content on YouTube it will appear on metacafe, break, daily motion, veoh, videoegg, google video, blip.tv, gofish, yahoo video, home movie etc. Good luck trying to police that. I guess there really isn't a replacement for good parenting?
An Australian state has banned the online video website YouTube from government schools in a crackdown on cyber-bullying, a minister said Thursday.

Victoria, Australia's second most populous state, has banned the popular video-sharing site from its 1,600 government schools after a gang of male school students videotaped their degrading assault on a 17-year-old girl on the outskirts of the state capital of Melbourne.

The assault, which is being investigated by police, was uploaded on YouTube late last year.
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The Last King of Scotland
Friday, 2nd March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 12:48:59
The Last King of Scotland is the best movie I have seen this year. The movie, while not 100% accurate, portrays some of the inner workings of the brutal reign of Idi Amin.

The film follows a young doctor who all but flees Scotland and his parents to Uganda. Garrigan (played by James McAvoy) starts at an Aid Station, but soon enough changes career to become Amins personal physician, and advisor. Throughout the vast bulk of the film Garrigan oozes ignorance and naivety about what is going on in the country and it is this that the film studies.

Idi Amin is played amazingly well, indeed oscar winningly well, by Forest Whitaker. While I am no expert on who Amin was, my 10 min of internet research about him after I got home from the movie confirmed to me how well Whitaker portrayed him in the film. At times very whimsical, while others extremely brutal. The range of emotions displayed not only in his face but body language was amazing, and the movie is well worth seeing just for his performance.

My only complaint about the movie is one that occurs with most movies portraying historical characters. There were plenty of things that were not correct and were there for entertainment value. The main one of these is that of the character of Garrigan barely resemble the real character in history. In the film he is a doctor, newly graduated from university. In reality, he was an Engineer, who was much older, and had been in the country 10 years prior to Amin coming to power. This was a disappointment to me after so much of the rest of the film was not that far removed from the historical events.

Despite the nature of the events that take place (hundreds of thousands of people murdered) there is not a great deal of violent content in the film as it focuses so much on the personal relationships. There is some violence, and some sex, but not a great deal. There is only one scene that could be classed as being gore, and its fairly brief, and takes place in a morgue.
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Pizza Vending Machine
Friday, 2nd March, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 11:47:53
This is just plain cool. Although I wonder if it actually tastes any good.
You can purchase all sorts of things from vending machines these days, from soda and candy to iPods and cell phones. But freshly made pizza? That just doesn't seem to make any sense. How can you make pizza in a vending machine? Has the whole world gone mad?! Well, guess what? It's coming. Wonderpizza vending machines provide you with a 9-inch pizza in 2 minutes without you having to worry about humans touching it at any point in the process. That is unless the secret of the Wonderpizza machines is that they have very small people inside making pizzas very quickly. In which case I would feel pretty bad about buying pizzas from them.

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Christian Doctor Refuses To Give Treatment
Saturday, 17th February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 23:51:40
Here is a story of a Doctor who turned away a sick patient on the grounds that they didn’t like the way that they looked, citing the bible as their reasoning for this.
A family is turned away by a local pediatrician, they say because of the way they look.

The doctor said he is just following his beliefs, creating a Christian atmosphere for his patients.

Tasha Childress said it’s discrimination.

She said Dr. Gary Merrill wouldn’t treat her daughter for an ear infection because Tasha, the mother, has tattoos.

The writing is on the wall—literally: “This is a private office. Appearance and behavior standards apply.”

For Dr. Gary Merrill of Christian Medical Services, that means no tattoos, body piercings, and a host of other requirements—all standards Merrill has set based upon his Christian faith.

“She had to go that entire night with her ear infection with no medicine because he has his policy,” Tasha Childress said.

Now I am all for people leading their life as the bible prescribes. However, the crucial thing in that is you need to do what it actually says. This doctor really needs to read the bible that they so merrily push forward as an excuse to be a snob and to pick and choose between prospective patients. Jesus not only didn’t refuse to help anyone who asked, but spent a lot of time during his ministry with people who were social outcasts; people who were viewed by the Jewish elite to be unclean; Tax collectors, prostitutes and others. Further Jesus told a story once which we refer to as the Good Samaritan. Dr. Gary Merrill is in effect being the priest (or the Levite who likewise refused help) who left the man to die on the side of the road.

(it is also worth noting that the doctor, in refusing help to someone based on their appearance is not in keeping with the Declaration of Geneva which has replaced the Hippocratic Oath.)
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Hannibal Rising
Friday, 16th February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 19:18:29

The second movie I caught this week was the most recent installment in the Hannibal Lector series: Hannibal Rising. Looking around the net one seems to see a lot of reviews of negative reviews of this movie. Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 17% across 110 catalogued reviews. Box Office Mojo rates it a little higher with 60% rating it a B or above, with B- overall. Now while I don’t think this movie was amazing, or a must buy on DVD, it isn’t as bad as many people seem to say Being partly due to them having Silence of the Lambs on a pedestal in their minds the whole time while watching the film.

The Film starts with Hannibal when he is about 9 or 10, living with his parents. World War 2 impacts his life dramatically when his parents are killed, and his sister is viciously eaten by starving soldiers. Eight years later we find him in an orphanage, from which he shortly escapes and flees to France. From there he hunts down the men who murdered his sister while studying medicine.

Many people who critic this movie complain it is over simplistic, or that the Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs would be bored with his younger self. Unlike his interest in helping Clarice find Buffalo Bill. But it is truly the obvious differences between the younger and older Lector that I actually enjoyed the most. In the story we find Lector discovering that he enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and kill while taking out the revenge for his sister. A character Steve Buscemi plays in another film states that “most murders are crimes of necessity”. Early in the movie Lector finds that he is talented at violence, but avoids killing a bully in his sleep when the opportunity presented itself. Yet in defending his Aunt and in fulfilling his promise to his sister Lector finds himself a murderer. The effects of this, and indeed the trauma of his sister’s death leave him not caring in the least for the crimes. He is totally apathetic about his crimes, or the possible consequences. It is here that the Hannibal of the earlier movies is born.

Along the journey that Hannibal takes, in his transformation, he is not quite as calculated as the character played by Anthony Hopkins. Plenty of reviewers have picked up on this. But again this is something that I liked about the film. Hannibal is an 18-19 year old. He makes mistakes during his early crimes. I think this only adds to the film. Further I think that the fact the entire movie is about Hannibal (unlike Silence or Red Dragon. The better of the previous three movies), we don’t get the same aspect of him solving other crimes. I think generally that they do make for more watch-able films as a result. But, I am glad for the extra insight into his history, even if the film isn’t quite as strong; it is certainly far better then the second film: Hannibal.

From a Christian perspective the movie portrays revenge, murder and cannibalism. Although these topics are shunned by the entire cast with the exception of Hannibal. Even those he is tracking down for committing cannibalism loath the concept. The film is obviously not one for everyone, or one that you would recommend widely. If you have seen Silence of the Lambs and enjoyed it then you will probably enjoy this also, it is not really any more or less shocking.
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Smokin Aces
Friday, 16th February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 18:25:00

The first movie I saw this week was a much anticipated movie for me: Smokin' Aces. I am a big fan of this style of movie. It is kinda a middle point between the likes of Natural Born Killers and Snatch. Going in this is what I expected, and is really why I was so excited to see it. However, the movie shows that while it smacks of Tarantino and Guy Richie, Joe Carnahan it is nearly as good as either of them.

The movie is set in Nevada, the land of casinos. The movie is about a hit put on a Sinatra inspired vegas showman. The showman with large mob ties is the target for not only the FBI (trying to take him into custody) but 4 or 5 hit teams. Needless to say with them all trying to get to the one guy they end up doing more then stepping on each others toes. Their variations in method produce some interesting humour moments, with one team opting for the Doom-esque chainsaw for their weapon of choice, while others opt for the simple needle in the neck job; with the remainder of the hit men opting for everything in between.

The depth of the differences between the characters really does suit the movie. So really Carnahan has all the pieces he needs: decent special effects, location, interesting characters. Where did he go wrong? He seemingly couldn’t decide what to do with the movie. He has a twist at the end of the movie to try and be clever. But it was already somewhat predictable before that, because he was waving it under our nose at every opportunity. With the twist, and the way some characters react to it, he tries to ad more substance to the movie then everything that went before it (guns and explosions fest). So when you leave the cinema you are left with the thoughts of “why did the movie end like that? Its like the last 5 min are from a different film.” Sorta like, somehow taking the last 3 min of Usual Suspects and Armageddon splicing them together and then putting them in vegas.

Now that I have said that, Carnahan has posted on his blog saying that the movie had an allegorical message in it about WMD and Iraq. He writes that hysteria, mania and ultimately misinformation lead to horrible violence. Now with that information on board, one can see that message in the movie. But again it doesn’t really fit the ending. Unless he is trying his hand at prophesy.

As a note from a Christian angle, this movie has very graphical violence, and strong language throughout. As to the message of the movie, Carnahan’s own description is pretty tight on any moral that could be taken from the movie. With the possible exception that sometimes the person who is in the right (righteous) will get persecuted for the actions they take. This is not a reference at all to the bulk of the movie, but a scene that involves Ryan Reynolds who does a superb job in this movie.
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Batman Shuts down School
Friday, 16th February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 09:34:22
This is pretty funny. I wonder if the kid really saw anyone, or was just having fun. That said with all the school shootings in America I am not surprised they are on edge over security. But that then leads the question, why didn't they wait till it was dark and put a bat symbol on a flood light. Then he could have come and protected the school :)
Three schools in the north Phoenix suburb of Cave Creek were on lockdown for about 45 minutes Wednesday morning after a student at Desert Arroyo Middle School reported seeing a person dressed as Batman run across campus, jump a fence and disappear into the desert, Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said.

The student described the person as 6 feet 3 inches tall and possibly male. “We’reassuming it was male, although they did have a mask on,” Clark said.

Officers combed the desert around the middle school. A nearby elementary school and high school also were on lockdown as officers sought the caped crusader. The result - no Batman.

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Top Gear Crew Attacked by Rednecks
Tuesday, 13th February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 09:38:42
You hear about it. You joke about it. But really, some parts of America really are full of total nutjobs without an ounce of tolerance in their body. The fact these people are described as "christian" is an embarrassment. Granted, they probably aren't and its a stereotype. But still, scary stuff.

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How to Shower: Women vs. Men
Monday, 12th February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 11:57:23
Just watched this with the wife. Much laughter occurred at the moments where it was correct :)

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Stranger than Fiction
Saturday, 10th February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 15:53:05

This week I went to see Stranger than Fiction. It came out in the U.S last year, and was a delayed release here in Australia. It is a bit of a shame having to wait 2 months for it to appear on a screen, especially after hearing positive things about a film. Such are the ways of the movie industry, not pushing through titles that quickly that they don’t expect to make large returns on.

But all that said, the wait was well worth it. The performances of the main 4 characters (Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman) were all superb. I am big fans off all 3 of them, so no real surprise that I enjoyed their performances.

The movie wasn’t exactly what I expected going in. Having Will Ferrell I had expected more humour then actually resulted in the film. But that isn’t a bad thing as such, as the love story was a much stronger element that was enjoyable. Likewise the eccentric characters that Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman play also add depth.

The movie is very enjoyable, and I will certainly be picking up the DVD in the future, but as far as films go it wasn’t a masterpiece. It briefly played with the topics of fate and free will, but doesn’t really dig into these aspects of the plot to the point of any real thought provoking films such as The Butterfly Effect. That said it will hold a privileged place on my shelf with the likes of Love Actually and Notting Hill. So if you are fans of those films are sure to check this one out.
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Rape victim denied morning after pill by prison guard on a power trip
Saturday, 3rd February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 19:17:19
This sort of story really saddens me. People, who are of one opinion on a debate, trying to force others to conform, when it totally violates their rights as a person.
Now, I am Pro-Life the whole way in the abortion debate, but this news story really is not only detrimental to the health of these young woman and her baby, but also the debate as a whole.
First, police say, a 21-year-old woman was raped at Gasparilla. Then, she was handcuffed and jailed - for two nights and two days.

A jail worker with religious objections blocked her from ingesting a morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy, her attorney says, keeping her from taking the required second dose for more than 24 hours longer than recommended.

The Hillsborough Sheriffs Office wouldn’t talk about her medical treatment in jail. But Tampa police are investigating why more compassion wasn’t shown toward the woman after she reported her sexual assault to law enforcement.

Firstly, even if the prison guard objects to the morning after pill (even in the case of a rape victim) he has no right to deny the second half of the treatment to the woman. Exactly what does he think he is going to achieve by doing this? He is firstly stepping all over the woman's rights to chose herself. If the baby does then survive by his actions does he think its going to be okay? After already having the first treatment the baby could have all sorts wrong with it, and then you have it possibly suffering immensely. Thirdly he was always going to get found out, then fired, make the headlines as he has, and convince more people that those who are pro-Life are total and utter nut-jobs who should be ignored. His actions could well have convinced other possible mothers that pro-Choice is the way, and they intern may murder their unborn child in the future.

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Paranoia in Boston
Saturday, 3rd February, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 18:52:54
I have been following a story this week which really has made me laugh several times, for various reasons. It all takes place in Boston where an advertising campaign was conducted for the tv show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Basically, as can be seen in this video, a bunch of LED signs were made, and were installed around the city in public places, rather high and out of reach.

What then ensued was a day of panic by some people in Boston which had not only the general public, but also law enforcement thinking that these signs were bombs. Some of the devices were even blown up by the police department. Others shot at apparently. The fact that anyone could think these items are bombs surprises me, the fact they then even got blown up somewhat scares me. That the people who are responsible for protecting the public don't appear to have a brain among them.

All that said, the ridiculousness of the situation has not escaped the two people shown in the video above, who have since been arrested. They know how totally stupid the media and law enforcement agencies have been, so they are now pumping their moment in the spotlight as seen here.

The ad's which weren't blown up have since appeared on ebay. And I am sure the tv series is pretty happy with the publicity. I am sure they are about to hit a ratings boom. The vast bulk of the general public seem to realise how stupid the situation was.
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