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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
Creationist Group Threatens Biology Lab
Saturday, 14th July, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 11:49:25
The following article is one that I find very disappointing.
University of Colorado police are investigating a series of threatening messages and documents e-mailed to and slipped under the door of evolutionary biology labs on the Boulder campus.

The messages included the name of a religious-themed group and addressed the debate between evolution and creationism, CU police Cmdr. Brad Wiesley said. Wiesley would not identify the group named because police are still investigating.

"There were no overt threats to anybody specifically by name," Wiesley said. "It basically said anybody who doesn't believe in our religious belief is wrong and should be taken care of."

The first threat was e-mailed to the labs - part of CU's ecology and evolutionary biology department housed in the Ramaley Biology building - on Friday. Wiesley said Monday that morning staff members found envelopes with the threatening documents slipped under the lab doors.

Wiesley said police will have increased patrols in and around CU science buildings.

"What's written on paper is what's written on paper," Wiesley said. "One of the question marks here is who wrote it and who delivered it."

There is simply no justification for this kind of behaviour in the bible. We are told to spread the gospel to all nations through preaching and teaching. No through threats and violence. I have no problem with people using Creationism as a method of spreading the gospel. The "Where do we come from?" question is one that is highly relevant to everyone. However, threatening those who disagree with you is not a solution. The Spanish Conquistadors are not models we are to hold up on how to evangelise people. Likewise the people who bombed abortion clinics in the past have also strayed along way from the Truth.
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Christian Lobbies vs AWOL
Saturday, 23rd June, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 13:51:21

I have recently seen a few articles online about Alcohol Without Liquid (AWOL), such as this most recent one here. I am not generally in favour of government protecting people from themselves. Obviously in some cases it’s needed, especially if their behaviour is affecting others around them (especially if children are involved). But in this instance I don’t personally believe that AWOL falls into that category. So in general terms I disagree with the concept of outlawing these devices for the current reasons being given.

My major beef, and the reason I have posted this opinion, is that what one does see on this issue is christian groups pushing for them to be outlawed. I am all in favour of active christian advocacy, but it’s a shame to see people who are active chasing something like this. They argue that by using these devices side step hang overs which argue are punishment for sinning. Further that using the device accelerates the process of intoxication.

Now both of these things may well be true, and I would like to see actual evidence of the former beyond the marketing spiel of the company selling the devices. But at the end of the day the devices take 20 min to get an amount of alcohol equal to a normal shot, further the recommended usage is only twice in 24 hours. So anyone who is actually going to get drunk (and thus effect others around them) is going to drink a lot more alcohol in the old fashion liquid form, and in all likely hood get each of their shots much faster. It takes literally seconds to down a shot and then order a second. Sure, the vapour based system, shot for shot, affects a user faster, but you can ingest a far greater amount in the same time in the traditional fashion before it takes effect. So you could easily have 3 or 4 shots before noticing any real effect. So in reality the vapour based system can actually slows the ingestion rate of alcohol by users. Further as it acts faster the user gets the “high” quicker without drinking more in the mean time. So it could feasibly reduce the amount consumed on the whole.

Those comments about its use are one thing, but what about the campaign to stop its use. In one sense I can understand that the christian lobby groups see something about alcohol and try to do the right thing, and cut down on usage. They probably fund all sorts of social programs and try to stop all sorts of alcohol related things (to reduce the need for social programs at the other end). They think they are doing the right thing. However, if you look at whom else is fighting for this to be outlawed in the U.S you notice something: one of the biggest lobbyists against AWOL is Diageo and another is DISCUS. Who are they? Oh just the biggest beer, wine and sprits companies in the world (Diageo is the biggest, DISCUS is a coalition). And guess what. They don’t own AWOL; they are a competitor in the liquor market. The christian lobby groups are acting as the bad press lightning rod for massive corporations who are protecting their profit margins.

So what we have here again is christian lobbies in the press, getting the usual “If we think it's wrong, it should be illegal.” tag. Meanwhile what is really going on is liquor companies are probably funding politician’s campaigns purely to keep the status quo. It is just like the Christian lobbies blocking the .xxx domain name for porn (which would allow very easy filtering of pornographic content, allowing children to be protected) again, with the Porn industry being the not so vocal partner in the debate, happily letting the Christians do the dirty work for them.

Personally I would rather christians didn’t get the bad press such a device. Although, I personally think it’s all a moot point, having seen the devices in action most people I know (christian and non-christian inclusive) did not see the appeal. A novelty sure, but not really a thing they could see themselves use on a regular basis. The social aspect is somewhat lacking compared to traditional liquid based alcohol. Their efforts are much better off with the existing causes of alcohol abuse (generally), smoking (come on people it kills), and drugs such as cocaine/heroin/meth.
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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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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.”

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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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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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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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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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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Up to 40 Years in Prison for Popups
Friday, 12th January, 2007 Posted by Beren @ 09:34:34
The following news item it appears to me to be one of the stupidest miscarriages of justice in quite a while. A teacher showing members of her class things on the internet gets stuck in a loop of pornographic popups. Result: Police get brought in, she gets put on trial and is found guilty of "four counts of risk of injury to a minor, or impairing the morals of a child".

Oct. 19, 2004, while substituting for a seventh-grade language class at Kelly Middle School, Amero claimed she could not control the graphic images appearing in an endless cycle on her computer.

"The pop-ups never went away," Amero testified. "They were continuous."

The Web sites, which police proved were accessed while Amero was in the classroom, were seen by as many as 10 minor students. Several of the students testified during the three-day trial in Norwich Superior Court to seeing images of naked men and women.

Computer expert W. Herbert Horner, testifying in Amero's defense, said he found spyware on the computer and an innocent hair styling Web site "that led to this pornographic loop that was out of control."

"If you try to get out of it, you're trapped," Horner said.

In looking around at other sites one finds that the security expert who examined the computer wasn't allowed to fully testify. His examination it has been reported showed that there was a lot of spyware on the PC. Further the schools content filtering software's licence had expired. The investigating detective admitted on the stand that no search was made on the computer for malicious software during his investigation.

Now I am all for protecting children from pornography and other content on the internet that is not suitable for them. But just because they are children doesn't mean that the teacher (in this case a substitute teacher) has no rights at all. Because looking at what one can read about this trial, Amero is getting anything but a fair trial. The possibility of 40 years in prison for popups is ridiculous.
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Saddam Executed
Saturday, 30th December, 2006 Posted by Beren @ 00:00:47
Saddam Hussein was hanged at dawn on Saturday, a dramatic end for a leader who ruled Iraq by fear for three decades before a U.S. invasion toppled him and was then convicted of crimes against humanity.

As day broke on one of the holiest days of the Muslim year and the call to prayer echoed out from minarets across a dark and bitterly cold Baghdad, officially-backed television channels flashed the news shortly after six a.m. (10:00 p.m. EST).

"It happened before my eyes," one Iraqi official said.
Story here

Now while I am sure there are many people in Iraq, and other places around the world that are happy for this news. It does strike me as somewhat of a shame that the county not yet back on its feet, now has yet more blood on its hands.

Now I understand that many people would feel that this was justified when examining the things he has done in the past. However, I can simply not agree with the usage of capital punishment in any instance. And the fact that some people such as Rick Roberts (radio personality) have been calling for it to be televised really does kick the whole issue into a new level of barbarity. Whether you are Christian or not, this is still the 21st century.
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