Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Geography lesson for Muqtada al-Sadr: Britain is in the West

A new post from Riverbend, always worth reading but on this occasion especially saddening. What a tremendous improvement we have wrought in the lives of the Iraqis to make up for bombing them to bits.

That Muqtada can be such a clown as not to have noticed that actually football is quite popular in the West, and hasn't been abandoned to the Arabs (who last won the World Cup in, er..., er...) would be funny if he wasn't one of the Great Improvements On Saddam. And if he imagines that Israelis are uninterested in football, might I suggest that he decks himself in the colours of Hapoel and sit at the Maccabi end in a Tel Aviv derby. I can assure him that his being an Arab would be of no interest whatsoever to the Maccabi supporters, who would cheerfully eviscerate him even if he were a ringletted rabbi in a big black hat.

Yet in some way handing the government of Iraq over to buffoons like Muqtada is seen by Blair and his apparatchiks as progress. Well, I suppose for Bush and Blair any government based on religion must be better than Saddam's wicked secularism.

If opposition to this arrant hypocrisy debars me from membership of what supporters of the war call the "decent" left (Orwell thou shouldst be living at this time...), then I spit on its decency.

Cowabunga, dudes!

Edinburgh is currently playing host to the world's largest public art event, to wit the Cow Parade. This has been to various other places inclduing London and Manchester, so some of you may have seen it. Basically Edinburgh is full of cow statuary of various kinds. We sought out some of them on Sunday. They're rather cool. Or maybe that should be coo-l. Sorry, it's catching. (Cow-catching?)

A few pictures from the web (here):






There is a cow surgery where vandalised cows are mended. It came as a bit of a relief to us that the cows get unwanted attention from the local neds wherever they go, not just in Edinburgh.

All good fun and highly recommended to any visitors to Edinburgh in June or July.

Raindrops keep falling on my head (despite drought orders in the South of England)

Do you get tired of being told that we're in the fourth driest May on record, or the driest spring for 30 years, or whatever it is? Well so does this guy. What he says may be old hat to people who handle statistical data regularly, but other readers may find things to enjoy. As indeed they will here.

No witty title for this one

From Bad Astronomy Blog, this chilling tale. It's worth following the link to the original story on the BBC's website, and reading the comments left there, especially the fourth one from the Bangalore reader.

Television And Relocated Doctor In Schedule

I bet Lisa will have something to say about this.

And of course the time of Dr Who shifts around. Duh.

Incidentally, it struck me the other day that while Celia Darbyshire's famous theme music has been reinvented these days, as far as I can tell the sound effect for Tardis-taking-off-and-landing hasn't changed at all (though I imagine it's been digitally remastered). Somewhere there may be an old techie who can still listen to that electronic grinding noise and say "I did that".

It would never have happened in Scunthorpe

…or Penistone, or Cockfosters, or here.

This, that is, from the Guardian yesterday.

I'm posting this (or attempting to) via email in honour of the subject matter.

(....Worked fairly well though hyperlinks don't work properly and there's a lot of editing to do now I'm home....)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Doing Just What It Says On The Tin

In an amusing article in yesterday's Guardian, Andrew Mueller discusses the forthcoming film Snakes on a Plane. A snippet from the article to set the scene:

The most keenly anticipated film of 2006 is almost certainly going to be one of its worst. No possible cinematic good can come of a plot which revolves around an attempt to assassinate a mafia suspect, travelling under FBI protection, by smuggling several hundred deadly vipers, adders and constrictors aboard the aircraft transporting the miscreant to trial. This film - and nobody is pretending otherwise - will suck. It will blow. It will totally chomp, absolutely bite, and eat it raw. It is nonetheless guaranteed queues round the block, staggering opening week receipts, and colossal DVD sales. It is the talk of cyberspace. It has already spawned an extensive line in merchandise. Songs, poems, paintings and photo-montages have been created in its honour. And it's all because of the title. This self-evidently terrible, stupid, intelligence-mocking hound of a movie about snakes on a plane is called - with a contempt for its audience so undisguised that it has proved bizarrely endearing - Snakes On A Plane.

OK. It's the ending of the article I particularly liked, though:

...it is hard not to suspect that the reason that Snakes On A Plane has been so warmly embraced is its essential honesty. In an age in which so much of what we consume is spun, marketed or just plain lied about, our natural scepticism is inevitably wrongfooted when something just is what it claims to be: how many people would have bothered to demonstrate against - indeed, might have been persuaded to cheer on - a military intervention called Operation Let's Go Fuck Saddam Hussein Up Just Because We Can? Advertently or otherwise, the producers of Snakes On A Plane have made a singular contribution to the furtherance of transparency in public discourse, by demonstrating the depth of the public's desire for truth, and the affection we will return when it is granted us. It's just a shame they've made a film to go with it.

When you consider that "Operation Iraqi Freedom" contains two lies in three words (and some people might even consider it too badly-planned to be an operation), "Operation Let's Go Fuck Saddam Hussein Up Just Because We Can", while less snappy, has the advantage of some connection with the real world. Henceforth let the occupation of Iraq be known hereunder as Operation LGFSHUJBWC. Pass it on.

Ce n'est pas magnifique, mais c'est la guerre.

In yesterday's Guardian there appeared two letters. One was from 603 academics from various nations and called on the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) to reject a conference motion calling for a boycott of academic links with Israeli lecturers unless they are willing to voice public opposition to "Israeli apartheid policies". The other was from the Federation of Unions of Palestinian University Professors and Employees and was supportive of a boycott. Further details in this article.

Both letters contain some truth. The Palestinian letter states that "cooperation with the intelligence services, the army, and other agencies of the occupation regime is part of the routine work of the Israeli academy. No Israeli academic body has ever taken a public stand against the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, nor criticized their government's long-standing siege of Palestinian academic institutions." The authors of the other letter consider that "the political test for Israeli academics builds on a tradition established by McCarthy in the US and the anti-semitic purges in communist eastern Europe. We oppose forcing academics to sign a statement to demonstrate political cleanliness." Nothing to disagree with there, I think.

The danger of the proposed NATFHE approach is not hard to spot, in that reference to "Israeli apartheid policies". I shall accord the framers of the motion the benefit of the doubt and assume, possibly wrongly, that the phrase was intended to carry some meaning rather than merely serving as a lazy and gratuitous insult. Apartheid, if you recall, was a official, constitutionally-underwritten policy providing for separate and highly unequal treatment of sections of the South African population solely on the basis of their racial origins. Despite what many of Israel's supporters in the United States (an example) (another) would like us to believe, Arab citizens of Israel do not have anything approaching equal rights with their Jewish neighbours. (See this report by the US Department of State, especially Section 5, subheading National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities. Or this article by Human Rights Watch.) But however unpleasant such discrimination may be for those on the wrong end of it, it falls a long way short of any valid comparison with South African apartheid, or even the situation in the Southern US back in the 1950s.

Of course, the NATFHE motion isn't about Israel's treatment of its own Arab citizens at all; it is concerned with the Israeli occupation of, and military interference in, the West Bank and Gaza. And there the apartheid comparison instantly comes apart, because the occupation is just that: an illegal military occupation following an invasion. To describe any part of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories as apartheid is to imply that the OT forms part of Israel and that any human rights abuses there are simply an extension of domestic discrimination; and then to overstate that discrimination so as to weaken the argument. Read my lips: apartheid was not about illegal military occupation, it was about domestic racial policy. Read them again: Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza isn't domestic, because even the Israeli Government does not consider those areas to be part of Israel. Israel's policies in the West Bank are no more "apartheid policies" than are Britain's in Iraq, though similarly wrong-headed and illegal. Ironically, I find that people most prone to lazy characterisation of the Israeli occupation as "apartheid" were also keen to have Ariel Sharon arraigned as a war criminal. Well, which is it?

Even an Israeli academic who loathed the occupation might find himself unable to oppose "Israeli apartheid" (unless the quality of thinking in Israeli academia is no better than that of the framers of the NATFHE motion).

However flawed that motion may be (and however badly-timed in terms of NATFHE's own domestic preoccupations with industrial action and merger with the AUT) the alternative is not for British and other academics simply to sit on their hands and ignore the issue. My dislike for useless political gestures is matched by my enthusiasm for those who suggest constructive alternatives. The Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace published this excellent piece in Wednesday's Guardian, which recommends several actions which should be undertaken, including a specific boycott of a proposed university in an illegal settlement in the OT. I hope the FIPP's call will be heeded in our further and higher education instutions, whichever way the NATFHE vote goes this week.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Some stories just grow in the telling

Typical. You wait for ages for an update to the Blogstory , then when you check the site, two have come along. The story just gets weirder and weirder. Just goes to show what a wonderfully open-ended and adaptable storyline Clare originally came up with.

Not so much of the shoes, ships and sealing-wax, but bouncing cats, insane drivers and Zen masters we have a-plenty.

A few gems via linkbunnies.org:

This amazing game to which I am becoming addicted.

A truly bizarre video. Though I suspect it's a clever fake.

A list of Zen koans for all occasions. Well, you never know when you'll want one. Number 88 is rather good, actually, if not exactly a koan.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I never could get the hang of Thursdays.....

I'm a little surprised that Google doesn't have a special logo today to celebrate Towel Day.

So, people: which is your favourite minor character from HHGG? (Defined by this list.) Mine is Hig Hurtenflirst, who only happens to be the risingest young executive in the Dolmansaxlil Shoe Corporation.

And one of my favourite lines is that the knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. I'm not sure about flying, but if anyone can come up with a more succinct description of what it means to be in orbit, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

My two Euros' worth

Much has been written about Eurovision 2006, much better than I could do it, by Mike, Anna, Rachel and others. However, for the record, I watched it all and enjoyed it. I thought the British entry deserved to do much better (not only do I keep humming it, but it reminds me in a strange way of Keith West's "Excerpt From A Teenage Opera", which is going back a bit). I voted for the Danish one ("Twist Of Love") but then I've always been a sucker for retro. I liked the German country one. My notes scribbled at the time also read:

Norway - elves
FYROM - cleavage, legs, but no.
Bosnia - folkies (no)
France - OMG!
Lithuania - We Are The Winners (or not)
Ukraine - legs, skipping rope (but no)
Croatia - REAL folkies (no)
Ireland - half decent ballad

(By "no" I didn;t especially mean that I didn't like the song, merely that it didn't seem to me like a potential winner.)

But Finland - yeah, well, how can one fail to love a band dressed as demons from Buffy whose song includes the fabulous phrase "The Day of Rockoning"? And Mike tipped them for the win!

Not waving but typing (probably fruitlessly)

Our ISP (Telewest) seems to be having a bit of hub trouble at present. So our Internet access, when wee have it, is very fast. And when we don't have it, it isn't. Mostly we don't have it, so I'm typing as fast as possible before we lose it again.

Which is to say, posting may be a bit sporadic for a while. I'm still here though.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

And to prove it, he's here

Here's Mike posing (and I mean that most sincerely) along with Daz and his merry crew in Athens. Mike is on the far left.





Mike surely needs no further introduction. Daz is Britain's Great Hope in Eurovision 2006. (Those of you who consider that all his votes will come from perverts who are into school uniforms should log off now, even though you may be right.) (Did I blog that out loud?)

Good luck Daz. Good luck, sexy school-uniformed ladies. Good luck, Mike.

Bah!

Barcelona 2 Arsenal 1

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

An die Musik

This is a great article. I agree with almost every word of it. OK, I personally like Mozart, but I don't consider it a crime against humanity to be left cold by him. I know people who don't get Wagner, or Bach. When he says that "The Planets" excited him in a way that King Crimson or Deep Purple never did, I can relate to that; though there is still a place in my life for those bands, and indeed for Nirvana, The Smiths, The Incredible String Band, The Orb, Gomez.... I don't think it's what he means, but I feel very sorry for people who view the whole classical/non-classical divide as some kind of binary either/or split. Nor is it even a case of "music you listen to carefully" vs. "music you groove to". I listen to a lot of non-classical stuff carefully (had you noticed that in Shania Twain's "Rock This Country", every time she says "rock" the accompaniment switches to a slightly distorted electric guitar, and every time she says "country" you get C&W fiddles?) and let my hair down to a lot of classical music (the climax of Richard Strauss's "Alpine Symphony", or Mahler 2, or Beethoven 8, or Weber's "Grand Duo Concertant"). I can do both at once: Iron Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" or Thomas Tallis's "Spem In Alium" engage both head and heart (and of course so do the Beethoven and Mahler!) All music is a dialogue between the heart and the head. Or it is if you're doing it right.

I adore his son's comment on the Ligeti piece. And his Associated Board examiner's comment.

I propose a toast. To music. Of all kinds. From Bruckner to Boyzone, from Sting to Stockhausen.

Ooh-err, look at the size of that organ, missus

I must say this comes as a relief. I was aware of the potential threat to organ-building, which is something we're actually pretty good at. It still seems odd to see pipe organs described as "electrical products", but there you go.

Here are a couple of pictures to be going on with, taken during restoration of the organ at the Dome, Brighton.


Teabags, Taxes, and Tears (Without French)

1) Teabags

We've been clearing out the piles of music which have accumulated in the music room, spurred into action by the collapse with major spillage of the cupboard in which we kept most of it. The cupboard was an old (waaay pre-Ikea) flatpack kitchen cupboard which we'd had for 27 years; these things don't take too kindly to being moved about and it was in its fourth house. Now replaced by new Ikea job.

Anyway, one thing we found was a bit of music from vanessa's early piano lessons. (Her first piano teacher was Magnus Magnusson's sister Lolo - the actual spelling is something like Snojlaugh but everyone understandably calls her Lolo). This had lyrics which I felt I should share with the world:

I'd like to be a teabag, and stay at home all day,
And talk to other teabags in a teabag sort of way.
I'd love to be a teabag, in a little box,
And never have to wash my face or change my dirty socks.

Isn't that wonderful?

2) Taxes

Last week Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra did a concert of Sibelius and Nielsen, for which I wrote programme notes. Some of you will know the first movement of Sibelius's "Karelia Suite": Keith Emerson and The Nice did a version of it back in the seventies, plus it was the theme music for some 1960s fore-runner of Newsnight whose name escapes me. Anyway, it was written to illustrate a scene in a historical tableau, and its description runs "Narimont, the Duke of Lithuania, levying taxes in the province of Käkisalmi". Levying taxes? Now whenever I hear that music I shall think of a Finnish Inspector of Taxes, Nokia phone in hand. Sometimes it's better not to know these things.

3) Tears (Without French)

I can't resist including (= stealing) this wonderful extract from one of Little Red Anna's recent posts on CD language courses, and why she hates the consersation exercises therein. Here is her version of such an exercise:

Man: Babbles away in fluent French. About something.
Anna: I’m sorry, I have no idea what you’re saying.
Man: Frenchy frenchy frenchy frenchy frenchy.
Anna: Yes, again, I have to admit, I’m afraid, that I have NO idea what you’re talking about. Sorry. English.
Man: Augh-hee-haugh-hee-haugh.
Anna: Um. Pardon. je suis desole. Je ne parlez pas Anglais. No! Hang on! Je ne… um…
Man: Francais Francais Francais
Anna: Oh, shut up


Douze points there for Anna.

Appy Polly Loggies

....for not posting for a while. Our Internet access at home has been, er, patchy (a carrier signal on the cable but no bandwidth to speak of, and much of the time nothing at all) and as I can't post from work any more it's been "Downtime for Saunders and EKN" (you can sing it if you like). Still, as of now we're back,. so if it stays up long enough I'll post some stuff.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

...and take your B-52 s with you

Some good news.

Here's some background to show why it's such wonderful news. And of course to remind everyone that ethnic cleansing isn't something that only happens in Bosnia or Palestine: we do it too. But, as Lord Denning put it, "Be you never so high, the law is above you" (Gouriet v Union of Post Office Workers).

Obviously the American military aren't being kicked out; but they won't like having to share the island with folk they can't push about. (Heck, they don't like sharing the planet with folk like that.)

I'm surprised they haven't given him an OBE

This guy, that is.

Multi-hanging mobile public execution systems? Woo-hoo. And the wicked Europeans are going to stop him? No wonder Blair and Bush hate Europe so much.


Thank heavens we can still sell arms to dictatorships around the world, eh? Who says British manufacturing is dead?

Friday, May 12, 2006

A picture may be worth a thousand words...

....but in this instance I'd rather have Rachel's 783 (I think) words than any picture of her lover. Adrian Henri's "Love Is" may be the best love poem of our era, but surely this is up there with the best prose.

(The Adrian Henri poem is the second one at that link. There are several links which point directly but they all share a stupid misprint of "funclub" for "fanclub" . The other Adrian Henri poems are ace anyway. Read them all.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Nothing to do with Prospero or "The Little Mermaid"

Thanks to Meg for this link.

Not many people know that. I certainly didn't.

I see Arial mainly as "The one that doesn't look too shitty and isn't Times Bloody Roman", meself.

The mention of Linotype reminded me of a school visit to the Manchester Evening News offices, where one of the sights was a row of Linotype machines (and their operators). I remember being impressed by the properties of type metal, which was a very low-melting-point alloy, so the reservoirs of molten metal were not, it seemed, much hotter than a cup of coffee. But the awesome thing was when one of their operators asked my name (he did this for everyone). I told him, and he swept his right hand over the keyboard (these were one-hand-operation "etaoin shrdlu" keyboards designed, unlike typewriters, for logical groupings and speed) in a single pass with no more care than if he'd been brushing a crumb off it. Yet out came "Rob Saunders". It was scary, yet made me realise why linotype operators earned so much money.

And from the Wikipedia article on type metal I now know that both bismuth and type metal share water's property of expanding on freezing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur

Thanks to Neil for the link to this splendid site. Though they don't have my old school motto "Vincit qui patitur" (No Pain, No Gain).

I noticed the sundial inscription "Sine Sole Sileo" (without the sun I'm silent). There are some better ones in English, mostly from Hilaire Belloc:

I am a sundial, and I make a botch
Of what is done much better by a watch

I am a sundial: ordinary words
Cannot well express my thoughts on birds.

I am a sundial, turned the wrong way round;
I cost my foolish mistress fifty pounds.

Monday, May 08, 2006

My Family And Other Delightful Inconveniences

This post from Dooce.

Hands up everyone else who ever thought "I'm so glad we had a baby and ruined the rest of our lives"?

Did any parents out there miss out on either half of the equation? It certainly strikes a chord with this father.

Be Seeing You (Not)

Hmmm.... I'm not at all sure about this.


No Portmeirion? No pennyfarthings? No Patrick McGoohan?

Christopher Ecclestone may have been OK as Dr Who, but when it comes to real sacred cows you would have thought he'd have had the sense to leave them well alone.

There comes a time, Time Lord, when every lonely little boy must learn how to dance.

The last Doctor Who adventure (The Girl In The Fireplace) I thought was especially good. Logically consistent, witty, and dramatically well-structured. And clearly they are emphasising the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time-Traveller, as both this and the previous episode got a lot of mileage out of the fact that the Doctor doesn't age and therefore can't readily form relationships with, er, mortals. This one also brought up his lonely childhood; I don't know whether that has been touched on before (I have a LOT of gaps in my Dr Who viewing)?

I also liked the Citizen Kane-like explication of the plot in the final frame....

As Mancunian as.....




You Are Apple Pie



You're the perfect combo of comforting and traditional

Those who like you crave security




I would have said rhubarb, myself, but maybe the quiz doesn't give that kind of resolution.


(Thanks to Kate for the link).

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Now with added snail

I've posted a better informative link to Donoghue v Stevenson in my Pepsi post. Enjoy.

Future attractions

I won two tickets to see Billy Bragg tomorrow night. His tour is being sponsored by my trade union (and others) and I won one of their online competitions. Funnily enough I've never seen him before.

Also just booked to see Ray Davies (formerly of the Kinks) in Edinburgh in October. Hilary and I have been wanting to see him for ages and keep missing him. And Al Stewart (whom I last saw in Newcastle in 1975). And Iron Maiden. What busy lives we lead.

Next week is Mamma Mia! at the Edinburgh Playhouse (Hilary & Vanessa are going in a party from Stevenson College, Ruairidh and I are going together on Monday). This will be the third viewing (first London, then last time it came here) and we're still looking forward to it. A really well-put-together show which demonstrates that not having any original music need be no bar to producing an original musical. The way in which the songs are spliced into the story is often very surprising. And it's all very funny. ("Lay All Your Love On Me" cracks me up every time.)

Billy Bragg, Iron Maiden and Mamma Mia. Hmmm. Go figure.

Update

Life is a bit weird at present. My father-in-law has been taken back into hospital, having become too weak to be looked after by his wife even with Hilary helping out. WHen he went in we thought he probably wouldn't be coming out, especially as there are strong suspicions of something cancerous in there somewhere but he's been too weak for a biopsy). Anyway, he went in on Thursday night, and has rallied to a surprising extent with the help of oxygen, drips and broad-spectrum antibiotics (they found another infection - his immune system is pretty much shot right now). Almost certainly it's only a short-term thing, though they're hoping to get the biopsy done which will give everyone more information.

All very confusing, most of all for Ron himself.

Which One's George?

You've probably already seen this, but the full text of the George Bush impersonator's speech at the White House correspondents' dinner is pretty funny.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It's the real thing

There isn't much one can say about this story except euuuw.

It reminded me of Donoghue v Stevenson, one of the most famous legal cases ever.

Maybe future Blogger profiles will have as their siily question "Condom or partly-decomposed snail? Which would you rather not find in your fizzy drink?"

Forget the shooty dog thing

This week's Doctor Who was rather splendid, with Anthony Head as the villain. Apparently a few years back he came top of a Radio Times readers' poll for who they'd most like to see as Doctor Who. Ah well, second best. He'd have been great though.

Nice to see K-9 again. Actually, in my case for the first time, as I managed to miss him altogether first time round.

Also on TV this week, Comedy Connections looked back at That Was The Week That Was. I'd no idea qute how star-studded the writing team for TW3 was. Frank Muir, Dennis Norden, Bill Oddie, John Cleese, Dennis Potter, Jack Rosenthal, Keith Waterhouse... I wasn't old enough to stay up for TW3, though my big brother was so he told me all the bits he reckonedI'd understand. The most interesting things about the programme were a clip of a song-and-dance routine about prostitution featuring Barbara Windsor, and the discovery that the TW3 spin-off Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life was the direct cause of Mary Whitehouse's foundation of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association.

From sewage to logarithms: an Edinburgh journey

Another Dooce post. I'm happy to say that we've never had this kind of problem despite living in a house that is around 120 years old and will, trust me, have had minimal sewer maintenance over that period. We've been here twenty years and while we had substantial replumbing done when we moved in I don't think it went as far as the sewer, though it may have done. Before we bought the house it had stayed in the same family since it was built, and I think their motto was "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Which is fair enough. It means that there are still some wonderful echoes of olden times about this house. A bit of kitchen wall that sounds hollow, because before it was boarded over it was the window into the maid's room (now the pantry). The little handle, shaped like a hand gripping a bar, inside the front door which used to operate a gate release; you rang a bell at the front gate and someone vetted you from inside before opening the gate remotely (a sort of Victorian entryphone). We no longer have the mechanism at the gate end, though a few doors away there's a house that does.

I think I'm a bit tuned in to domestic disasters as we're in the throes of transferring our mortgage from one provider to another. The enormity of the commitment sinks in somewhat. Mind you, the totality of the loan is around one-third of the estimated value of the property I'm sitting here typing in, even without considering the Ballater flat. Property values being a reasonable indicator of inflation over a long enough term (especially in the UK), that makes a roughly sevenfold increase over twenty years (and years which don't include the huge oil-related shocks of the mid-seventies). Which according to my sturdy calculator is 10% per annum.

Of course, when there's no more oil and no more batteries, I can fall back on even older technology (my own version is housed in a grey plastic case with ineradicable permanganate staining from some lab session or other). Well, the university directly across the road from us is named after the inventor of logarithms (whose ancestral home is only half a mile away).

Awwww.

Cool doggy picture. Thanks to Dooce for the link.

Happy Star Wars Day......

......or May The Fourth Be With You.

Those of you in France, Belgium and such places have already passed it, but here in the UK the magic moment of 01.02.03-04/05/06 will shortly be upon us. Americans had it last month because they're weird and think 9/11 is in September.

I belive there are pregnant women who plan to induce labour later this year to avoid giving birth on 06/06/06. (That one works on both sides of the Atlantic.) I am amused to note that Delta Airlines begins its new service direct from Edinburgh to Atlanta on that day.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Actually, the Devil doesn't have all the best blogs

So there I was, minding my own business, reading Boob Pencil, when Clare's request for information about charismatic religious groups got me searching on the web. I vaguely remembered a three- or four-part series which I thought was on the BBC, though maybe it was Channel 4, dealing with various forms of the American Protestant revival: charismatics, fundamentalists, evangelicals and others. I didn't find what I was after, but I found an interesting blog which will be appearing on my blogroll in a few minutes. The author is an American Protestant now working in Northern Ireland, and while I dare say there's plenty we'd find to disagree about, from his blog he seems a good guy: a living, breathing reminder that not every American Protestant has a white sheet with eye-holes in one hand and an M-16 in the other, nor are they all homophobes in thrall to corrupt televangelists.

His most recent post I thought was particularly worthwhile, and I recommend it even if the mention of "religion" or "Christian" makes you queasy.

And I thought this post outstanding as well.