Archive for October, 2006


Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Toby was much more into Hallowe’en than last year – he was happy to wear his Buzz Lightyear costume to school after only a little cajoling, and wore it all day. Tonight we went out trick or treating which was a lot more fun than I expected especially as we know quite a few of our neighbors now. Toby didn’t really say “trick or treat” at the houses but told us it was OK because he was saying thank you so nicely, which he actually was.

When we got home I think most of the kids had been past already because we only got four or five people coming round, which means we have about two tons of candy left over. The last kids to come round were really funny – they had big wigs on and said in fairly passable accents “Hello, we’re from Scotland”. Strange. I told them that I in fact am from Scotland and their dad, who was standing back on the sidewalk just cracked up with laughter. He said he had no idea what the whole thing was with them saying that, but they just got it into their heads and you can’t argue with 8 year olds.

contrasts in sportsmanship

Monday, October 30th, 2006

We’re really proud of Toby tonight. He had his fifth swimming lesson, and this week it was assessments for who should go up to the next class (here’s a listing of the very beginner levels – Toby is currently in the Little 1 class). The first couple of weeks he was clearly uncertain about being in the water but last week something clicked for him and his classmates, and they’re zooming around, going underwater, swimming with a lot less help from their teachers (still using a float though) and full of confidence. It’s great to see and he’s obviously pleased. So he has been approved to go to the next class in the new year.

On the other hand, I’m currently watching the Minnesota Vikings getting hammered by the New England Patriots. The Vikes are all over the place, and generally disorganized. Considering how much these guys get paid you’d think they should be doing better. Also a New England defense bloke weighing over 325 pounds just headbutted the Vikings quarterback in the back – not sporting.


Saturday, October 28th, 2006

We’ve joked a few times in the past that Toby appears to be something of a politician – there have been a few instances where we’ve asked him an awkward question and he’s answered confidently on a completely unrelated but much more positive topic.

Tonight I noticed politician tendencies but in a considerably more admirable way. For one of his bedtime stories I was reading The Great Goat Chase, in which a farmer’s three goats break into his turnip field and despite the efforts of the farmer and various animals (dog, horse, cow and pig) the goats can’t be chased away and stay in the field eating turnips. (Incidentally Toby remembered that a few nights ago we’d had turnips at dinner time, as part of a pork and apple roast thing Emma put together). Eventually a little bee comes by the group of sad farm denizens and offers to help – they ridicule the idea that a small animal could fix the situation but she flies past the goats and shouts that if they don’t leave the field she’ll sting their bottoms, which works and the goats go back to their field.

I think Toby originally got this book around the time that our adopted country was threatening Iraq, and the parallels of belligerence were grimly amusing to me. However tonight Toby demonstrated a rather enlightened political philosophy – he turned to me and said, “Daddy, why doesn’t the farmer just give the goats a few of the turnips? If he does that, they’ll just take them back to their field and not eat all the rest.”


Friday, October 27th, 2006

My friend Robin posted a comment in response to my take on the British Airways ruling about the woman being asked to remove or cover up the cross emblem she was wearing. Robin quoted George Galloway’s response, and provided a story link where you can see the quote in full. As usual Galloway getting the facts wrong.

He said that this is very insensitive “at this sensitive time when blood is boiling everywhere, when women are being attacked in streets and mosques are being attacked and firebombed.” I’m not totally sure, unless you happen to be a politician pandering to a group of people, what mosques have to do with this whole thing. And of course that particular religion’s record on women’s rights is so well understood.

Galloway continues, “No Muslim would ever complain about a Christian wearing a cross.” Except, of course if they were in Saudi Arabia, or several other countries in that part of the world.

Another quote in that story:

John Andrews, communications officer for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, said: “I think BA are being extremely offensive to members of the Christian faith.”

He continued: “It would be a great shame if Christians are prevented from demonstrating their own faith. It is a basic human right.

Maybe, but as mentioned before it is quite possible and in fact maybe even preferable to show your Christianity by being a good Christian which does not involve displaying symbols of your belief. And another quote:

Anglican Communion press officer Canon James Rosenthal said crosses adorn churches around the world and “many Christians find wearing or carrying a cross something very important to them” [my emphasis].

So, then, carry the cross emblem – you don’t have to be displaying it.

On a lighter note, one commenter on the story’s website pointed out that if Jesus came back he might not want to see crosses everywhere, what with the associations for him and all.


Friday, October 27th, 2006

I’ve been using FireFox 2 for the last few days and it’s just grand – easy and fast, exactly what you would want.

Even better today I came across some tips in Lifehacker which demonstrate how to consolidate your toolbar (otherwise known as the chrome). I’ve done this now and everything’s on one line, no extra menus, all nice and clean:

show him your cross

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

This whole story about the British Airways (BA) employee not being allowed to display her cross necklace is really driving me up the wall. Now a Member of Parliament (MP) is getting involved and seems to have the facts even more messed up. Here’s my take on the case:

First, the airline said that employees are not allowed to display jewelery (they probably said “jewellery” because they are British). This applies to all employees. This person is allowed to wear the cross necklace, just not to display it.

Secondly, the MP likens this to the wearing of headwear by people of other faiths. This, as Emma pointed out, is a rather bogus argument – some other faiths actually require and mandate the wearing of head coverings. Christianity does not mandate the wearing or displaying jewelery or religious imagery. In fact you could argue from many things Jesus said that displaying your religious imagery is not a holy thing to do – he said it was much better to modestly demonstrate your belief by your actions and piousness (piety?) rather than wearing opulent clothing as the Pharisees and priests of his time did.

Third, BA is a private employer and they can do what they like. I’m sure this rule was clearly indicated in their employee manuals.

Fourth, why is this woman’s argument supposed to get more credence just because it’s a religious belief? Why does that make it more valid than if someone says, for example, “I have a strong belief (with no religious backing) that I like to dye my hair green” but the employer says that employees are not allowed to dye their hair green?


Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

I saw this morning that google are now doing custom search boxes to add to sites, so I have tried installing a Google Co-op box on the left on this page. It seems to work so far, let me know what you think.

UPDATE: This has now gone since I moved to WordPress – let me know if the default search isn’t meeting your needs


Thursday, October 19th, 2006

A piece in Slate about the disproportionately high influence of Scots on political and media life in Britain as a whole (my friend Matt is Scottish and media editor for the Guardian). It also mentions that Scots get more spending per capita than anyone else in Britain.

All interesting and well and good, but it doesn’t mention, let alone explain, why the Scots are so miserable and complaining about why they feel run over by the English, and why there’s such racist anti-English sentiment in Scotland.

another headline

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

There are a few words in American English which mean a completely different thing in UK English. Hence this from the local paper: The latest wrinkle at the spa? Fanny facials (the link probably will expire in a couple of weeks). Yes, it’s amusing. But the fanny in the USA refers to the posterior – hence “fanny pack” in the US instead of “bum bag” in the UK. I had an alarming experience in my first week or two living here when someone invited me to “park my fanny” on a chair.


Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Not the best story ever, but the headline caught my eye: Spanish King Denies Shooting Drunk Bear. It just sounds so … 17th century.