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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Sooo European!

I just realised that 20 days lapsed between postings! And it's August!
Therefore I can conclude that as far as my status as a blogger goes I am definitely very Continental. Next thing you know I'll be going on strike over no good reason at all...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Still Here...

Hey folks.
Just moved house last friday. Very busy time at the moment but I will be back...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Serious Help Needed

I hate cricket. I used to quite like playing it at school but watching it? No thanks, it bores me rigid. I prefer watching golf, I find cricket that boring! Not as boring as baseball which must be well up there in the 'most boring sport in the world' stakes, but it isn't far off.

But God help me, I found myself getting drawn in to the latest Ashes tests. I even found it exciting as England actually beat Australia by two wickets in the last test. I am even slightly looking forward to watching the next test which starts tomorrow.

Basically I need help!!!!

come on England!

Join Him!

I just finished reading a book by Danny Wallace called:

Join Me
The true story of a man who started a cult by accident

I highly recommend reading this book. Not only is it highly amusing and entertaining but it also charts a quite incredible journey of one man's obsession to honour the memory of a dead relative and descibes his own awakening along the way.

I won't divulge too much more information except to say that you can check out the related website at

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

When am I not what I am?

I have been following this discussion and this follow up over at It has been interesting and I see Meryl's point; her argument is highly compelling since the groups she refer to are clearly outside of the Jewish faith. I'm all for freedom of expression but one must have respect for other cultures and traditions. At least one must in my world. Anyway, it threw up an interesting question as a complete sidebar.

Being a Jew seems fascinating to me insomuch as it encompasses two facets: one is the 'race' or ethnicity of being Jewish and the other is the religion. But how are the two intertwined?

One can convert to Judaism and become Jewish (as far as my limited understanding tells me). But what about if an ethnic Jew decides to convert to Buddhism, Christianity or whatever? After they convert are they still considered Jews by the Jewish community or are they something else? If so what? I cannot see this being the case since your ethnicity is not a badge, it is part of what you are whether you make a big deal of it.

For example I am a White Briton of mixed Irish, Scottish, Welsh and anglo-saxon heritage. For simplicity lets call me anglo-saxon. Now I was raised as a Roman Catholic and though I do not attend mass and even have days of severe agnosticism I have not been excommunicated so far as I know. Does this mean that when I was baptised I became a Roman? No. I am clearly still anglo-saxon and will be until the day I die, even if I actually move to Rome I will never be able to adopt that ethnicity.

So my question really is can there be a Christian Jew, or a Buddhist Jew? Or perhaps I am misunderstanding the whole deal. It occurs to me that you can have a semitic Christian, i.e. the ethnicity is not Jewish (though the shorthand is used) but rather it is semitic and Jew relates only to the faith? Except it relates to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Okay I have confused myself again. Can anyone explain the concepts to me in simple terms that I can understand?

Breaking News

I see that the former director of the UN's oil-for-food program has been accused of taking kickbacks by a UN appointed investigation. So clearly we can see that the invasion of Iraq was totally justified. Thought I would beat some of the more crazy weblogs to the punch there. When news of this scandal first surfaced there seemed to be a cadre of pundits/commentators who, to my ears at least, implied that this was evidence of the gross crapness on behalf of the UN which somehow delegitimised its existence and so clearly made the case for ignoring it and invading Iraq without an additional resolution. I seem to recall Scarborough ballet dancing around this possibility.

'See how corrupt they are? We were right to invade Iraq!' {not a direct quote from anyone}

Of course I got this report from the BBC so it must be tainted, plus it was from a UN investigations so it must be wrong somehow as well!

Sorry I'm in a slightly cynical mood at the moment.

I do not doubt that dodgy dealings went on and probably still go on in a bureaucracy like the UN. I am in little doubt that dodginess surrounds activities in the BBC, or the UK civil service or UK government, or the EU or even in the US government. Wherever a bureaucracy grows up there are the chances to cash in for certain individuals. Does this delegitimise their existence? Not always, no. I have my own issues with the UN; I think we need a rethink in how it works and how it is structured. But lets not descend into stupid attempts at some sort of illogical moral equivalence.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Battle for the Sun Lounger

Apologies to my American readers who might not understand this post. For many years now, there has been a titanic battle of wills between the British and the Germans. This has not manifested on the international political stage nor in the echoing corridors of the European Union. No, this battle has been fought on the poolsides of hotels across the Mediterranean, sometimes spilling into more far-flung locations, like the Bahamas, Florida or Skegness.

The battle of which I speak, my friends, is the Battle for the Sun Lounger. For years the wily Germans have been accused of hogging the deckchairs and loungers. British tourists arise from their sweaty beds and eschew breakfast knowing full well that they will soon partake of their traditional mid morning snack of a few pints of lager. Instead they pull on their speedos, tucking the elasticated waste in beneath the pasty beer belly (or lobster-like, depends on how long since they arrived), grab their towels and stroll down to the pool. Upon arrival they are faced by a multitude of Germans and no spare sun loungers.

Ah, but the British are canny! The next morning they get there even earlier sure in their desire to get a deckchair. But what do they see? They see towels; hordes of German towels, strategically placed to claim the sun loungers. The following day they get up earlier still, sometimes before they have even got back from the bars and clubs, and yet there are towels facing them! The more paranoid stay up late at night to ensure that the towels are not placed out the night before. They go to bed satisfied that the loungers are towel free and so drift into a sweet, blissful sleep, arising some 30 minutes later to get down to the pool before their German neighbour's. Once there they break into a hollow scream, muffled only by the multitude of Teutonic towels decorating the pool area.

It has been the bane of the British holiday maker for years. Except now a German lawyer has informed us that the German tourist is not legally entitled to hog the loungers with their towels. We Brits are completely entitled to remove the towels and inhabit the seats ourselves.

We know this you moron! That is not the point! It just wouldn't be polite to do that and so we suffer and moan. It is the British way, damn it!!! Besides now we no longer care about the sun loungers... it's about getting to them before the Germans do. We must prevail!

'"Nobody knows this in Germany, that it is a stereotype. It is the same with the football rivalry," Mr Hoecker said.'

Well fine, but that is hardly the point. We don't care that they don't get it. It's the fact that they do it that gets our goat. My apologies to Hrun for propagating this stereotype, but if he wouldn't leave his towel lying around I wouldn't have to...

Fighting Back, Cracking down

The lovely Tony has some ideas for combatting terrorists/militants/extremists/whatever in the UK. He wants to target those who incite to cause terrorism, including the possible deportation of such people. This has caused some worry and unrest in a number of quarters, both from the left of Labour and from the right. Personally I am starting to wonder more and more about how we can deal with what is a growing threat. I think that many of our recent actions have worsened the immediate problems though I would argue that it is more a speeding up of a process that was already coming rather than the creation of a whole new problem.

Do I support Tony's new measures? I don't know, I would need to know more than I do at this early stage but they do sound appealing. The best I could do at the moment is say that I support them in principle but that I am unsure of how confident I feel in the current government to exercise any further powers with sensible precaution. Quite frankly the only person I would trust with the powers so far described is myself. Though, I have almost given up on becoming benevelent dictator for life of the UK. It doesn't help that I am a Royalist anyway.

I feel that the correct way to go is being initiated now. Treason. We already have quite a nice, broad law that we could nail some of these bastards with. In fact one of them seems to be fleeing the prospect already.

Now I have a suggestion for who we could perhaps consider first. I nominate this evil snake.

Sad News

A little over a week ago we had a loss in the family. On the day we returned from Toulouse my wife's father died. Thankfully with a little forewarning my wife had grabbed a much earlier flight home with the most excellent assistance from a highly efficient and friendly French BA employee at Toulouse airport. This meant that she got to see her dad before he passed away.

He had been ill for quite some time. Diagnosed with prostate cancer he had managed to fight it long past the time that the doctors had expected him to survive to. Prostate cancer can be 'cured' if caught early enough, unfortunately it was not caught in time in my father-in-law. I urge any readers who are male to consider regular checkups when they are older or if they are already past 40. It may seem weird to think of someone probing you but quite frankly it has to be worth it.

I have been hesitant to post about this simply because the news is somewhat personal for my wife and since she reads this blog I wanted to be sure that she did not mind before I started spouting her business all over the web. I also like to retain some measure of anonymity and so I will not disclose his name. My wife and I have been staying with her mother since it happened (though I took a few days to head north and do some work related things) and both of them, mother and daughter, have been coping very well. The funeral is on Wednesday and I hope that they both manage through that as well. I am sure they will.

About my wife's father. He was a nice man, easy to get along with from my point of view. He worked very hard for his local church and will be sorely missed in the local community. He was also an excellent scientist who had made many contributions to the field of aviation. My wife will correct me if I am wrong but I recall that he played a part in the early years of the Harrier VTOL jet and (along with his wife) in Concorde. In fact if you ever have, indeed if you ever do find yourself coming into land at an airport in a large thunderstorm say a little thank you to my wife's father since it is partly due to him that the pilot can land that plane without fear of microbursts causing them to crash.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Hi folks,

just touching base with my loyal readers. It is amazing how fast your stats drop off when you stop posting regularly for a while :-)

Still too busy to write anything substantive but hope to be back on the job sometime late next week.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Back but... gone

Hello all. Back from France. A very useful conference, lots of work spun out of a number of talks and useful conversations. Toulouse: not a city I would neccessarily recommend for a holiday: not as nice as Nice though the central squares are very picturesque and the food was great on the whole.

Due to personal reasons and being very, very busy I will be blogging at a minimum for the next few weeks. Thanks to all who have been checking in on my weblog whilst I was away. I shall be (hopefully) back again soon.

p.s. Hrun I haven't forgotten our evolution discussion and I think that for the time being I cede to what you were saying... though I do have some further thoughts along a slightly different tack.