Archive for the ‘news’ Category

election brain dump

Friday, January 11th, 2008

I like this post from the Whatever blog, which features musings on the early stages of the presidential nominating process. One of my favorite quotes about the Democrats: “…having a President Obama would make it feel like the American people were doing a Ctrl+Alt+Delete on the previous eight years…” I hope that by now people outside of the US are realizing how exhausted and despondent this country is. I saw something a couple of days ago which said how enlightened the American people are that they would even consider voting for someone named Obama, and that Brits, for example, would be very unlikely to vote for someone named Hitner.

And about the Republican candidates: “…the GOP field? Monkeys. Or more accurately: Jesus Monkey, 9/11 Monkey, flip-flop Monkey with perfect hair, Monkey who wins teh Internets and fails everything else, and John McCain, who is not a monkey.”

octopus news

Friday, January 11th, 2008

What a fun story – Louis the giant octopus makes friends with Mr Potato Head. When I was studying biology the lecturers told us that giant octopuses are as intelligent as your average dog; this guy certainly seems smart.


Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

OK so if you just read my last post and followed the link to the new Toby/Dara pics you’ve probably had quite a bit of cute. But I just saw that Minnesota’s Como Zoo have announced that a baby orangutan was born a few weeks ago. Here’s the story from the local paper. They usually remove the links after four weeks or so, so here’s a photo to give you more of the cute:Baby orangutan


Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Yesterday Emma and I were discussing the nature of why lower class voters in America often support more socially conservative politicians, as I told her about some thoughts by writer Andrew Sullivan. She asked why then would someone very privileged, like George Bush, also hold these socially conservative viewpoints.

My thinking is that obviously Sullivan was talking about trends, not absolutes, but that also of course politicians will say whatever it takes to win votes, hence (especially) the Republican presidential nominees trying to out-conservative each other at the moment (“Double Guantanamo!” “I now do not support gay civil unions!” “Etc!”).

An interesting example in this story of a Louisiana town which persuaded the phone company to change their phone area code from 666. The political quote from the mayor:

Mayor Scott Walker said CenturyTel’s decision was “divine intervention”.

However, he admitted it helped that Louisiana’s two senators had also lobbied for the change with the phone company and the state Public Service Commission.

He’s either a slimy politician who will say anything to pander to the voters, or a nutter, or just maybe someone who has a very different theological view from mine and I’m just being mean for the sake of it.

comfort and joy

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

I visited Israel a number of years ago on a choir tour for a couple of weeks around Christmas. As well as some great concerts, we did the BBC Radio 4 Christmas service broadcast from Bethlehem University. We also had a good bit of time for touring, in groups and by ourselves. It was strange, visiting the religious sites – especially the Christian ones -how un-religious they felt (apart from the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth which was peaceful, beautiful and very moving). I think a large reason for this was that the sites -specifically the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity – are co-owned and run by a number of Christian factions, each of which seems to believe that they should have sole rights. If you follow the link on the Church of the Sepulchre you’ll see information on the famous immovable ladder, for example, where nobody could agree on who should be responsible for work on the church, and today I saw that there was actually a priestly brawl in the Church of the Holy Nativity where “long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning.” We didn’t see anything like that but we did see a number of ornately robed priests with big beards and heavy wooden staffs who were parading around in a very arrogant manner – you could easily imagine that getting in their way would result in fisticuffs:


poor iran

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Those poor Iranians. First they finally have vindication that they are not developing nuclear weapons, but Bush and Cheney are still on the warpath (although somewhat chided). It seems that their plans may be even more nefarious than previously thought. No bombing – instead a Chris De Burgh concert. Call in the court of human rights!

storm pics

Friday, December 7th, 2007

We’ve had a lot of snow this week. Lots of sidewalk shoveling to be done, which is a bit of a hassle, but can be nice to do if you’re out in the evening and it’s quiet, plus it’s a good workout.

Commuting has been tough – not so much for us, living and working centrally in Minneapolis – especially for people in the suburbs. One person at work left the office at 3:45 on Tuesday and didn’t get home till after 7:30 (it usually takes her a half hour). Here are some pictures of traffic issues in the snow.


Friday, November 30th, 2007

Doesn’t this story make you feel exasperated and sick to your stomach? Unless you are someone who says “Big man in the sky says this is what we should do.”

going well

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

A couple of nights ago on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviewed Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard (watch it at thinkprogress if you are interested). Kristol seems to be quite a right-wing shill guy, and said again and again that things are getting better in Iraq, and how the surge is working and the people running it should be trusted. Then, the news today: Deadly Iraq sect attacks kill 200

hand of …

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Well, it was just a matter of time till someone was quoted on this:

“If you ever need proof of the hand of God, just look where that bus is. Two seconds later, there’s a massive fire right where the cab of that truck is, and those kids would have been killed in a fire. Two seconds earlier, and it’s in the river.”

– Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Rob Allen, standing on a hill by the flattened I-35W bridge, showing First Lady Laura Bush how a school bus packed with 50 campers returning from a day at a water park came to symbolize an incredibly low casualty count.

“Unbelievable,” Mrs. Bush said.

(from the Chicago Tribune story)

Well, quite Mrs. Bush – for once I agree with you. An unbelievable comment indeed.

Yes, it was a very low casualty count in the bridge collapse (partly because only one lane was open in each direction) and yes, it seems a miracle that the school bus was not lost in a fire or in the river – almost incredible.

But, no matter where you stand on the existence of God, or what God does (interventionist God or not) surely saying that the fact that some people were saved while others were not proves the existence of God seems firstly dubious proof (because you can’t actually prove that God saved the bus unless someone actually documented in some way that it really, truly was God doing it) and secondly offensive to the people who were lost: why would God have chosen that the school bus should be saved, but the young Somali woman and her two-year-old should not, or the father of the young baby should not? By the way, the driver of the truck who was in the cab which had a massive fire was killed too.

Perhaps the police chief meant it as a figure of speech, but I don’t think that’s any excuse. This, basically, is the old argument: 300 people were killed in an air crash, but one child survived, therefore God exists.