Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The following news story got me thinking about forgiveness...
'Nazi hunt' launched in S America
A "final effort" is under way in South America to track down and prosecute ex-Nazi war criminals before they die.
Operation Last Chance - a scheme devised by the Simon Wiesenthal Center - attempts to locate Nazis in hiding.
It takes the form of a media campaign and offers financial rewards for any information that results in conviction.
The four countries involved are Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil - where large numbers of Nazis are thought to have fled following World War II.
The operation - launched in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in July 2002 - has so far provided the names of 488 suspects from 20 different countries, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said.
According to the group, 99 cases have been submitted to local prosecutors, resulting in three arrest warrants, two extradition requests and dozens of ongoing investigations.
"Given the large number of Nazi war criminals and collaborators who escaped to South America, the launching of Operation Last Chance has the potential to yield important results," said the Center's chief Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff.
The operation will formally launch at a press conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Tuesday.
The center's founder, Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, died two years ago.
He was credited with helping to bring more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice in the decades after the genocide of the Jews in World War II.
Six million Jews were murdered in the Nazi death camps, along with thousands of Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people and political dissidents.
The question that came to my mind was did Simon Wiesenthal forgive those who persecuted him, before he dedicated his life to hunting down Nazi War Criminals? Or did he squander the life he was given by becoming a vigilante, bent on bringing to justice anyone with Nazi connections that had fled the coming retribution? Is it possible to forgive a group of people responsible for killing so many humans? Would forgiving them give the survivors a better life? Or had these demonised Nazis gone beyond the realm of forgivability and were in Gods eyes beyond redemption?
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Labels: questions of faith
Ever since my wife made me an Ugly Monsta Softie, she's been wanting me to design some for her to make. I'm wanting to adapt a couple of Ashley Wood's creations into Softies, but need to wait till I have a clear space over the holidays. In a flash of inspiration this morning at the breakfast table, I came up with a quickly discarded Ashley Wood attempt from memory, a cat, a zombie and Hitler.
BJ came up with the elephant.
Moon Over Pigeon Point Lighthouse. This spectacular sky is mostly human-made. Once a year, the Light Station at Pigeon Point near San Francisco, California, USA is lit as it was over 100 years ago. During this time, light generated by five kerosene lamps pours through 24 rotating Fresnel lenses, warning approaching ships to stay away. Early last week, light emanating from the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was particularly picturesque because of a thin fog, also blurring the distant Moon. During the latter 1970s, the lighthouse was guarded by an 800 pound pig named Lester. In modern times, the light house is still active but has been supplied with a more efficient flashing aerobeacon.
"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)
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Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
So I took Guy Ritchie' Game Keeper home with me this weekend, figured it could jump the list as a graphic novel can be consumed within an hour or so, depending on size.
Quite good little yarn, including flash backs to explain the back story, evolving throughout the main story, and a little twist at the end. The artwork was ok, could have been a lot edgier though.
Interesting thing is that there is an introduction by Guy Ritchie where he goes into details about Warner Brothers turning it into a movie, but a quick look on IMDB comes up with nothing.
I think it would make a great transition to screen, though there's once scene that I think they would have difficulty in doing right, or even realistically, in a movie, but I guess time will tell.
I guess in reality it may all depend on how popular the Graphic Novel is, but if the movie does ever get made, you can bet there will be a first person shooter/stealth game to follow.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
We decided to do something radical; start growing vegetables. Not very radical you might think, as people have been doing such for years. But for us this is a big step - we're not gardening people you see - anyone who's visited us will probably have noticed an abundance of weed life in our front yard as proof of this.
The initial garden area seems to be going great, so it's time to start clearing the second area. It seems to have gooten very overgrown so could take some work. I won't be able to complete the task this weekend, due mainly to the fact that we have a cat buried in there somewhere, and i don' really want to be exhuming grave sites whilst the kids are around, that might have to wait for my day off on Wednesday!
But things are looking good for fresh vegetables for 2008, just in time to the inevitable zombie outbreak.... keep an eye on China, and anything called African Rabies... Trust me.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I've finished reading The Silver Sword, a book recommended by Hope, and one that I whole heartedly recommend to anyone else. Being a children's book - though probably more tween/teen fiction than children's per say, it took a little while to get used to, but was well worth it in the end.
I'm now fast approaching the halfway mark in World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, but my reading list is growing faster than I can read, with my wife passing onto me Mark Haddon's latest A Spot of Bother, and two more graphic novels arriving to increase my growing collecting; Guy Ritchie's Game Killer and Ted Dekker's Black: The Birth of Evil.
I'm tempted to see if Guy Ritchie is as good at graphic novels as he is movies after I've finished World War Z, and then maybe onto A Spot of Bother, although Behind the Screen has been on my list for a while now, maybe I should read that first?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
They use words like "didactic device" to describe the beloved but carb-heavy god of Pastafarianism. They say the FSM is cloaked in a "folk-humor hybrid body," and reveals a web-fueled movement toward "open source theology" that challenges existing beliefs.
Pastafarianism is "quite clearly confronting order with disorder, a profound kind of religious activity that we often overlook," said religious-studies professor and author David Chidester on Monday during a panel discussion about the belief system at the American Academy of Religion's annual conference in San Diego, which drew 9,000 attendees.
Sober words for a male deity made of two meatballs and a "noodly appendage." The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has largely been popularized through the internet. The church boasts of a long history and "millions, if not thousands of devout worshippers," according to its website. But it only entered the public sphere after self-described prophet Bobby Henderson, an unemployed twenty-something physicist from Phoenix, demanded in 2005 that the religion receive equal time in Kansas schools.
At the time, education officials in the state wanted to raise the profile of "intelligent design" in public schools and offer it as an alternative to evolution.
Henderson says Pastafarianism -- the official religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- is as serious as the religious-studies wonks are taking it. "The Church of FSM is real, totally legit and backed by hard science," Henderson writes on the site. "Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental."
While the five academics drew laughs while discussing topics like meatballs, pirates and "saucy baptisms," they spent most of the time discussing how the faith illuminates their own debates over the secular versus the profane, the fake versus the real, and the roles of communities and parody in religion.
Conference organizers received "hateful" e-mail and voice messages from Christians offended by Monday's panel, said Northwestern University religious-studies professor Sarah Taylor. Whether other religious leaders agree the Flying Spaghetti Monster deserved such a forum is unclear: The panel drew an audience of only a hundred.
One panel member defended the discussion. "Most people don't think we're serious. They just keep saying, 'You're having a lot of fun,'" said University of Florida graduate student Samuel Snyder. "Yes, we're having a blast. But ... this is quite serious, too."
Reaction to public disclosure of the spaghetti deity's existence has ranged from hysterical laughter to staid criticism. "It is a serious offense to mock God," wrote one Kansas state school-board member.
Henderson, the world's leading Pastafarian, didn't return an e-mail message seeking comment about the panel. According to one speaker, he's traveling, using proceeds from his book on the religion.
As for other followers around the world, one declared that the speakers in San Diego should be boiled in marinara sauce, a scary if tasty fate, according to graduate student and panel member Alyssa Beall of Syracuse University.
After hearing from the panelists, the audience in San Diego broke for dinner. No word on whether any said grace with the proper closing word for Pastafarian prayers: "Ramen."
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
A religious fanatic goes overseas to fight for his God and then returns home to attempt a bloody act of terrorism. As Britons celebrate the capture of Guy Fawkes, a Catholic jihadist who attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, they might reflect how dismally modern the Gunpowder Plot and Europe's wars of religion now seem in 2007.
Back in the 20th century, most Western politicans and intellectuals (and even some clerics) assumed religion was becoming marginal to public life; faith was largely treated as an irrelevance in foreign policy. Symptomatically, State Department diaries ignored Muslim holidays until the 1990s. In the 21st century, by contrast, religion is playing a central role. From Nigeria to Sri Lanka, from Chechnya to Bagdad, people are being slain in God's name; and money and volunteers are pouring into these religions. Once again, one of the world's great religions has a bloody divide (this time it is Sunnis and Shias, not Catholics and Protestants). And once again, zealotry seems all too relevant to foreign policy; America would surely not have invaded Iraq and Afghanistan (and be thinking of striking Iran) had 19 young Muslims not attacked New York and Washington.
It does not stop there. Outside Western Europe, religion has forced itself dramatically into the public square. In 1960 John Kennedy pleaded with Americans to treat his Catholicism as irrelevant; now a born-again Christian sits in the White House and his most likely Democrat replacement wants voters to know she prays. An Islamist party rules once-secular Turkey; Hindu nationalists may return to power in India's next election; even more children in Israel and Palestine are attending religious schools that tell them that God granted them the whole Holy Land. On present trends, China, the world's largest Communist dictatorship, will also become the world's largest Christian country-- and perhaps the largest Muslim one too. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, not usually a reliable authority on current affairs, got it right in an open letter to George Bush: "Whether we like it or not," he wrote, "the world is gravitating toward faith in the Almightly."
How frightening is this prospect? The idea that religion has "re-emerged" in pubic life is to some extent an illusion. It never really went away-- certainly not to the extend that French politicans and American college professors imagined. Its new power is mostly the consequence of two changes. The first is the failure of secular creeds; religion's political comeback began in the 1970s, when faith in government everywhere was crumbling. Second, although some theocracies survive in the Islamic world, religion has returned to the stage as a much more democratic, individualistic affair; a bottom-up marketing success, suprisingly in tune with globalisation. Secularism was not as modern as many intellectuals hoped, but pluralism is. Free up religion and ardent believers and ardent atheists both do well.
From a classical liberal point of view, this multiplicity of sects is a good thing. Freedom of conscience is an axiom of liberal thought. If man is, after all, a theotropic beast, inclined to believe in a hereafter, it is surely better that he choses his own faith, rather than follow one his government orders. But this also makes religion a politically difficult force to deal with. In domestic policy, adults who choose to become Pentecostals, Orthodox Jews or Muslim fundamentalists are far less likely to forget those beliefs when it comes to the ballot box. The "culture wars" that America has grown used to may become a global phenomenon. We can expect fierce battles over science, in particular.
Abroad, yes, there is a chance of a full-blown war of religion between states. A conflagration between Iran and Israel would, alas, be seen as a faith-based conflict by millions; so would a war between India and Pakistan. But compared with Guy Fawkes's time, when wars sprang from monarchs throwing their military might at others of different faiths, religious conflict today is the result as much of popular will as of state sponsorship: it is bottom-up, driven by volunteers not conscripts, their activities blessed by rouge preachers not popes, their fury mostly directed at apostates, not competing civilisations. Ironically, America, the model for much choice-based religion, has often seemed stuck in the secular era, declaring war on state-sponsored terror, only to discover the main weapon of militant Islamism is often the ballot box.
-From "The New Wars Of Religion," lead story in the Nov. 3rd edition of The Economist.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Dilbert creator is quoted as saying the following about atheists:
This brings me to atheists. In order to be certain that God doesn’t exist, you have to possess a godlike mental capacity – the ability to be 100% certain. A human can’t be 100% certain about anything. Our brains aren’t that reliable. Therefore, to be a true atheist, you have to believe you are the very thing that you argue doesn’t exist: God.
It's an interesting train of thought that lead me to conclude that atheists don't actually not believe in God, it's just that they don't WANT to believe in God....
Why they don't want to is probably the question that is harder to answer.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I brought home a new Bible for Aimee on Friday, and she was so taken by it that she read the entire Old Testament in a day! By the end of the weekend, even with Grandparents wanting to take her out all the time she managed to finish the entire Bible before bedtime.
She's a budding little Bible scholar.
So how much Bible could you read on a given weekend?
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Nasa Faked the Moon Landings
And Arthur C. Clarke wrote the script, at least in one version of the story. Space skeptics point to holes in the Apollo archive (like missing transcripts and blueprints) or oddities in the mission photos (misplaced crosshairs, funny shadows). A third of respondents to a 1970 poll thought something was fishy about mankind's giant leap. Today, 94 percent accept the official version... Saps!
The US Government Was Behind 9/11
Or Jews. Or Jews in the US government. The documentary Loose Change claimed to find major flaws in the official story — like the dearth of plane debris at the site of the Pentagon blast and that jet fule alone could never vaporize a whole 757. Judge for yourself: After Popular Mechanics debunked the theory, the magazine's editors faced off with proponents in a debate, available on YouTube.
Princess Diana Was Murdered
Rumors ran wild after Princess Diana's fatal 1997 car crash, and they haven't stopped yet. Reigning theories: She faked her death to escape the media's glare, or the royals snuffed her out (via MI6) to keep her from marrying her Muslim boyfriend. For the latest scenarios, check out www.alfayed.com, the Web site of her boyfriend's dad, Mohamed Al Fayed.
The Jews Run Hollywood and Wall Street
A forged 19th-century Russian manuscript called "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (virtually required reading in Nazi Germany) purports to lay out a Jewish plot to control media and finance, and thus the world. Several studies have exposed the text as a hoax, but it's still available in numerous languages and editions.
The Scientologists Run Hollywood
The long list of celebrities who have had Dianetics on their nightstands fuels rumors that the Church of Scientology pulls the strings in Tinseltown — vetting deals, arranging marriages, and spying on stars. The much older theory is that Jews run Hollywood, and the Scientologists have to settle for running Tom Cruise.
Paul Is Dead
Maybe you're amazed, but in 1969 major news outlets reported on rumors of the cute Beatle's death and replacement by a look-alike. True believers pointed to a series of clues buried in the Fab Four's songs and album covers. Even for skeptics, McCartney's later solo career lent credibility to the theory.
AIDS Is a Man-Made Disease
A number of scientists have argued that HIV was cooked up in a lab, either for bioweapons research or in a genocidal plot to wipe out gays and/or minorities. Who supposedly did the cooking? US Army scientists, Russian scientists, or the CIA. Mainstream researchers point to substantial evidence that HIV jumped species from African monkeys to humans.
Church's Fried Chicken Sterilizes Black Men
Sociologists call this decades-old urban legend a cultural echo of the very real syphilis study carried out on blacks in Tuskegee, Alabama. In another version, KFC is the culprit — and secretly run by the KKK. There's less controversy over whether the biscuits clog your arteries.
Lizard-People Run the World
If a science fiction-based religion isn't exotic enough, followers of onetime BBC reporter David Icke believe that certain powerful people — like George W. Bush and the British royals — actually belong to an alien race of shape-shifting lizard-people. Icke claims Princess Diana confirmed this to one of her close friends; other lizard theories (there are several) point to reptilian themes in ancient mythology. And let's not forget the '80s TV show V.
The Illuminati Run the World
The ur-conspiracy theory holds that the world's corporate and political leaders are all members of an ancient cabal: Illuminati, Rosicrucians, Freemasons — take your pick. It doesn't help that those secret societies really existed (George Washington was a Mason). Newer variations implicate the Trilateral Commission, the New World Order, and Yale's Skull and Bones society.
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Labels: thats whack
Saturday, November 03, 2007
If there's a sadder commentary on the state of American society, we can't think of it -- we've grown so fat we sink the boats of It's A Small World.
According to Miceage, the boats routinely bottom out under the weight of super-sized riders, bringing the popular ride to a grinding -- literally -- halt. That's increased the wear and tear on the fiberglass boats, which have been in use since the ride opened during the 1964 World's Fair, when Americans, on average, weighed 25 pounds less than we do today.
Other rides, including the drop in the Pirates of the Caribbean, face the same problem, Miceage says, but nowhere is it more of headache than It's a Small World.
The ride features several twists and bends where overloaded boats easily bog down, including the "S" bend through the Scandanavian room.
Employees -- Disney calls them "cast members" -- have been aware of the issue for some time now and so discretely leave empty seats in boats carrying heavy riders. But backups persist, and in some cases no one realzes there's a problem until boats stop emerging from the ride.
Disneyland is putting the ride in drydock for 10 months to make it ship-shape again. The boats will be replaced with more buoyant models, and the new flume will be one inch deeper. Work will begin in January.
Friday, November 02, 2007
I was out with my lovely wife on a date last night, we popped into BK for a quick bite to eat before heading to see This Is England at the Rialto. Whilst waiting in line, The Hooters All You Zombies was playing on the stereo which brought back memories of the 80's when I was into The Hooters (yeah, go on, mock me). If you can get past the eighties-ness of the whole thing, it actually has some pretty interesting lyrics:
Holy Moses met the Pharaoh
Yeah, he tried to set him straight
Looked him in the eye, "Let my people go."
Holy Moses on the mountain
High above the golden calf
Went to get the Ten Commandments
He's just gonna break them in half
All you zombies hide your faces
All you people in the street
All you sittin' in high places
The pieces gonna fall on you
No one ever spoke to Noah
They all laughed at him instead
Working on his ark, working all by himself
Only Noah saw it coming
Forty days and forty nights
Took his sons and daughters with him
Yeah, they were the Israelites
All you zombies hide your faces
All you people in the street
All you sittin' in high places
The rain's gonna fall on you
Holy Father, what's the matter
Where have all your children gone
Sitting in the dark, living all by themselves
You don't have to hide anymore
All you zombies show your faces...
Written by Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian, who founded The Hooters. It is filled with biblical images and created some controversy. Said Hyman, "I think the spirituality of it wasn't premeditated. I think everyone is a spiritual person in whatever they believe or not. There was no real agenda on our part." Hyman and Bazilian went on to work with Joan Osborne on her album Relish, with Eric writing the hit One Of Us.
If the eighties brings back too many bad memories, German singer Sandra (ex-Enigma) has done a cover, but the only sample of it on YouTube is a fan made video by a guy who seems more interested in scantly clad women and promoting his own website.