Geroge Bernard Shaw

Further reading of the Giga Quotes site reveals the pages dedicated to one of history's most quotable men, George Bernard Shaw.

Among his famous quotes - such as "A family is a tyranny ruled over by its weakest member" and "Great Britain and the United States are nations separated by a common language" - lie a few worthy gemstones I hadn't heard before:

"Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it"

"Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve"

"Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of a splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations"

And my favourite:

"How can what an Englishman believes be heresy? It is a contradiction in terms"

The Soldier

I was wandering around the Giga Quotes site when I found the opening stanza to The Soldier by Rupert Brooke, a poem that I, as an Englishman, have heard many times since early childhood.

So, for no reason other than I like the poem, here it is:

The Soldier, Rupert Brooke, 1914.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.


22nd Praetorian Update

Another day of creatively glueing bitz together has produced two more characters for my Praetorian Command HQ, to join the standard bearer I assembled in April. Yes, it is still unpainted.

Shown l-r are:

Mastervox operator; Regimental standard bearer; medic.

Also, some experimenting with my camera has yielded results that are a little, but not much, better than I'd previously been able to take.


X-Men: The Last Stand

This movie is like the previous installments, but more. The story, as anyone who hasn't been in a cave for the last few months will know, revolves around a company which has developed a "cure" for mutation, which delights some mutants, but annoys the hell out of others.

One nagging absence is Nightcrawler, introduced in X2, who fails to make even a single appearance, and no explanation is offered. Wolverine fans will, however, be delighted. Strangely tamed for the first two movies (at least compared to the comics), he's on full form for the third, ripping his way through a series of brutal fight scenes in typically bestial fashion.

Speaking of all things bestial, Kelsey Grammer as Beast seemed an odd choice, but given the character's witty, urbane nature when not fighting, Grammer fits well, and doesn't damage the role for the fight scenes, where he proves he can be just as violent as his beclawed compatriot.

And if there's any casting choice that seems odder than Grammer as Beast, it's ex-footballer bad-boy turned actor Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut. But, again, the decision is vindicated when Jones shows he can pull this one off, too.

Ellen Page, who starred in that horrific waste of time, Hard Candy, actually manages to put in a decent performance as Kitty Pryde (the girl who can walk through walls).

This third (and possibly final) installment in the X-Men series pulls no punches. As the geeky guy in Scream 3 put it: Nobody is safe. Don't expect the cast to walk away from this one intact.

Doombreed rating: ****1/2


The other piece of news from this movie is a kind of good news/not so good news affair.

The good news: The next Marvel release is Ghost Rider, the story of a carnival stuntman possessed by Zarathos, a demon of vengeance, bound by his nature to avenge stuff. Like Anya from Buffy, just without the whole ditzy-blonde-cuteness.

The not so good news: Nicholas Cage is playing Johnny Blaze, the lead.

Okay, so I didn't believe Hugh Jackman would be any good at Wolverine, so maybe it'll work out. Ghost Rider was my favourite comic as a kid, narrowly squeezing out Iron Man (which, rumours suggest, is also in the works), so this movie is going to have to work hard to live up to my expectations.

Here's the official site.


Much, (oh, so much, oh, way, way too much) has been said already on the issue of immigration here in the US, and I have tried to stay silent on this contentious topic.

I'm an immigrant myself, albeit legally (and if you didn't know that, you probably fall down way more than is healthy), so people have asked me for "my perspective" on the issue.

I have refused to get involved until now. Now, there is a perspective I can get behind, a man with a vision, a man who promises a brighter future for the world. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to present..



Irrepressible.info is a new campaign from Amnesty International, which aims to fight censorship of the Internet.

You can sign the pledge on Internet freedom, and you can put a text box on your site which reproduces passages that some governments have banned their citizens from seeing. I have placed such a box on the right sidebar.

Scroll down and click on the text to find out where it came from, and who banned it.

Freedom of thought is a human right - one might say that it's the human right - and the Internet is an important tool in winning and maintaining that freedom.

Support the campaign. It'll take two minutes.

Dan Bown's Deception Point

Dan Brown's latest novel is, it has to be said, a little bit of a disappointment. Many of the literary conventions and set-pieces used in either Angels & Demons or The Da Vinci Code make an appearance, leading to a rather unfair impression that one has "read it all before".

Brown once again takes the notion of the "flawed hero" a little too far, but whereas Robert Landgon suffered from claustrophobia, Rachel Sexton suffers from hydrophobia, and as sure as you knew Langdon was going to end up stuffed into confined spaces, you just know Sexton's going into the water.

Brown weaves a good tale, with suspense and shock along the way. It's an engrossing story about politics, backstabbing and a cloak-and-dagger military unit, but it falls down in some aspects.

Brown repeats a few urban myths as if they are fact, including the utterly debunked theory that the head of the eagle on the US Presidential Seal faces the other way during wartime, and gives the US special forces group known as "Delta Force" a rather rough write-up. Brown sometimes goes to ridiculous lengths to preserve the suspense, leading to some cases of characters acting in ways that are just a touch unbelievable because they're trying not to give the twist away a few chapters early.

Other than those, though, the book is fun, fast, and fascinating. Just, as always, bear in mind that it's fiction.


Hoax email!

Yay! Fishing email! I've highlighted some bits that struck me as funny, especially that last bit about obeying instructions "religiously".

Yeah, right.

Bank of China (Hong Kong) is a real bank, but as far as I can tell, they don't have a Wan Chai branch, and, even if they did, I doubt they'd be involved in anything like this. Still, 30% of $17 million? I would have been tempted if I had the IQ of a glass of water.


Bank of China (Hong Kong)
Eastern Commercial Centre,
393-407 Hennessy Road,
Wan Chai,
Hong Kong.

Good Day,

It is understandable that you might be a little bit apprehensive because you do not know me but I have a lucrative business proposal of mutual interest to share with you.

Let me start by introducing myself. I am Mr. Chen Guangyuan operations manager of the Bank of China (Hong Kong), Eastern Commercial Centre, Wan Chai Branch. I have an obscured business suggestion for you. Before the U.S and Iraqi war our client

Mr. Hamadi Hashem who was with the Iraqi forces and also business man made a numbered fixed deposit for 24 calendar months, with a value of Seventeen million three Hundred Thousand United State Dollars (US$17,300,000.00) only in my branch. Upon maturity several notices was sent to him, even during the war early last year. Again after the war another notification was sent and still no response came from him. We later find out that Mr. Hamadi Hashem and his family had been killed during the war in a bomb blast that hit their home at Mukaradeeb where his personal oil well was.



After further investigation it was also discovered that Mr. Hamadi Hashem did not declare any next of kin in his official papers including the paper work of his bank deposit. And he also confided in me the last time he was at my office that no one except me knew of his deposit in my bank. So, Seventeen million three Hundred Thousand United State Dollars is still lying in my bank and no one will ever come forward to claim it. What bothers me most is that according to the laws of my country at the expiration six {6} years the funds will revert to the ownership of the Hong Kong Government if nobody applies to claim the funds. Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Mr. Hamadi Hashem so that you will be able to receive his funds.


I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successful. I have an attorney that will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to Mr. Hamadi Hashem, all that is required from you is to provide me with your Full Names and Address so that the attorney can commence his job. After you have been made the next of kin, the attorney will also fill in for claims on your behalf and secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favor for the movement of the funds to an account that will be provided by you. We are going adopt a legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessary documents in your favour.

There is a reward for this project and it is a task well worth undertaking. There is no risk involved at all in this matter, I have evaluated the risks and the only risk I have here is for you refusing to work with me and alerting my bank. I am the only one who knows of this situation, good fortune has blessed you with a name that has planted you into the center of relevance in my life. Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue. Once the funds have been transferred to your nominated bank account we shall share in the ratio of 70% for me, 30% for you but this can be subjected to further negotiations. I send you this mail not without a measure of fear as to what the consequences, but I know within me that nothing ventured is nothing gained and that success and riches never come easy or on a platter of gold. Please observe this instruction religiously.

Should you be interested please send me your,

1, Full names,

2, private phone number,

3, current residential address,

And I will prefer you reach me on my private email address below:

(ch_07guang@yahoo.com.hk) and finally after that I shall furnish you with more information’s about this operation.

Your earliest response to this letter will be appreciated.

Kind Regards ,

Mr.Chen Guangyuan.

- Guangyuan Chen

Friday Rodent Blogging

Can't you almost hear the Chariots Of Fire theme music?


Henry Rollins On ID

Watch this video

Mr Rollins, it seems, rocks on more than one level.

Over The Hedge

In a William Shatner voice:

This.. movie.. is excellent. You.. must go.. and.. see it immediately.

Seriously, it's a slow starter, but it concludes with the funniest 30 minutes in cinematic history. I laughed so hard I almost puked.

Doombreed rating: *****

Pat Robertson's magical protein shake

Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network website contains an ad for his "Age Defying Shake" and claims that he, a 76-year-old man, can leg press 2,000lbs.

2,000 lbs? Shit, I can't even think about 2,000lbs without breaking into a sweat.

Here's a wake-up call from those who know:

CBS SportsLine.com:

"There is no way on earth Robertson leg presses 2,000 pounds. That would mean a 76-year-old man broke the all-time Florida State University leg press record by 665 pounds over Dan Kendra. 665 pounds. Further, when he set the record, they had to modify the leg press machine to fit 1,335 pounds of weight. Plus, Kendra's capillaries in his eyes burst. Burst. Where in the world did Robertson even find a machine that could hold 2,000 pounds at one time? And how does he still have vision?

It's rare the ClayNation Guarantee makes an appearance, but here, it is justified. There is no way Robertson leg presses 2,000 pounds. Period. If he can, I will box a round against Andrew Golota without wearing a jockstrap."

Now, where's that bible? I'm sure there was something in there about not lying..

Edited to add:

I just looked it up: 2,000lbs is 7.8 x Jerome Bettis (the now ex-Pittsburgh Steelers player nicknamed "the bus" because of his size) or 5.4 x the legendarily huge ex-Chicago Bear William "The Refrigerator" Perry.


Am I?

This blog seems to have attracted a new commenter who goes by the name of "The Logical Truth" who has repeatedly accused me of prejudice against Christianity.

Now, I'm used to this kind of accusation. I've even, in the past, referred to it as "the martyr complex", where anyone who disagrees with something a Christian says - however mildly - is painted as hating Christianity. So I was tempted to blow it off as just another nutbar surfing the web and being obnoxious.

But, then, I paused. Am I? And what if I am?

To a certain extent the accusation has some basis in truth. If you check back through my posts there does seem to be a certain justification. Notice that whenever I've mentioned the excesses of religion it's been - with only one exception that I can remember off of the top of my head for Islam and a few for Scientology - about Christians.

But does this indicate an irrational prejudice?

I live in - and am from - a country dominated by Christians. My daily life is surrounded by them. You can count the number of Muslims I meet every day on the fingers of one head. Not only that but in both the country I live in and the country I am from, it's Christians who run the show. There are no Buddhist national holidays. Hindus have never knocked on my door to proselytise to me. I've never had a Wiccan be nasty to me because I'm an atheist. My tax contributions don't support Shintoist projects. I've never had to listen to some politician's plan to allow Zoroastrian teachings into a science class. No Sikh has ever informed me that they will pray that I see the truth of their faith. So, if my target always seems to be Christianity, it's because Christianity is the religion that targets me.

Between the two countries there is a population of 350-odd million people, most of which claim some form of Christianity (42 million people in the UK and 159 million in the US is 201 million Christians), and, like any human demographic, these 201 million people run the gamut from the reasonable to the extremist, from the nice to the nasty, from the sane to the insane. Even if only the most whacked out one half of one percent of those people espouse views that agree with - for example - former (then future) US President George H.W. Bush's comments about how atheists should neither be considered US citizens nor patriots, or pretty much anything Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell or Fred Phelps might say, we're still dealing with over a million nutbars.

Consider, also, that quite a lot of those who tend even towards the reasonable end of the spectrum look to those people, and their ilk, for guidance and enlightenment, and there's a shit load of Christians out there that believe I worship the devil and/or eat babies.

Am I defensive? You bet. Sometime a little too defensive? I'll admit to that. Prejudiced? I try not to be, but I am human, after all. Irrational? Try walking a mile in my shoes.



BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Deserter life sentences 'inhuman': "Proposals for British soldiers to get life sentences for desertion have been criticised as 'inhuman and barbaric'.

John McDonnell led Labour backbench calls to scrap the life imprisonment provision of the Armed Forces Bill.

He argued the plan was part of a crackdown on soldiers opposed to the war in Iraq, but his proposal was later rejected by MPs by 442 votes to 19."

It should have been 0 votes to 461.

Life imprisonment for a soldier who refuses to go fight in a war they have a moral objection to?

We used to call countries that did that kind of thing nasty names like "fascist" and "dictatorial".

Now we're supposed to call them "home"?

Ten Things I Hate About Commandments

This is hilarious:

Ten Things I Hate About Commandments

Hat-tip to 3vil g3nius for the link.

Millions flock to Da Vinci Code

Y'know, Dan Brown owes a lot to the Catholic church. If they hadn't made such a stink about The Da Vinci Code, he would still be a relatively unknown author and his book would have never made it to film. Then, had they not made such a fuss about the movie, it wouldn't have grossed $224 million at the box office on its opening weekend.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Millions flock to Da Vinci Code: "The Da Vinci Code movie took $224m (£119m) at box offices around the world at the weekend despite controversy and bad reviews, its distributor has said.

That is the second most successful film opening in history, Columbia said."

It seems like, in this, the church is its own worst enemy. Seriously, just ignore it and it wouldn't have been a problem.

And, of course, they're still at it.

More TV documentaries, more books, more magazine articles, more crap and wind, keep appearing, all seeking to "refute" the book and movie.

(BTW, most make the mistake of trying to refute the book because it, and Holy Blood, Holy Grail, do not agree with established views of history. Which, of course, completely misses the point of both the movie and the two books, which is that established history is a fiction created in part by the Catholic church to consolidate their grip on power, and in part by the group The Priory Of Sion in order to conceal their true agenda.

It's like using The Da Vinci Code to refute all the refuting because the refuters don't agree with the book. Stupid.)

There's even some blowhard here urging Christians to take "legal action" against the movie.

Sort of a "who would Jesus sue?" kind of thing.

Again, I'm forced to wonder why Catholics are taking such pains to refute a book and movie that they are so anxious to remind us is fictional.

I don't recall this much fuss over the historical licence taken with U-571 or Braveheart, not to mention The Passion Of The Christ (there always seems to be one too many "the" in that title) or, when you get down to it, Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Maybe this one hits a little too close to home?

I would urge anyone who wants to know more about the background to the story to actually sit down and read Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

At least then you'll know why many of the charges brought against Dan Brown are simply so much guff.



Mrs Doombreed and I went to see Poseidon today.

Those of you who have see The Poseidon Adventure will already know the plot. But here it is in a nutshell:

The world's biggest, fanciest, most expensive ocean liner has stupidly been named after Poseidon, the god of the sea. Presumably pissed at the blasphemy, the sea sends a big wave which capsizes it, trapping our heroes in an upside-down and sinking ship. Cue a romp through the bowels of the liner as they try to escape.

This movie is not earth-shaking.

There, I said it. It's not going to feature on the Oscar lists. It doesn't eclipse the original. But it's fun. It's okay. It's gripping, in its own way.

Best of all, it makes no excuses. This is 99 mins of over-the-top action, CGI explosions, death (and logic) defying escapes and sheer entertainment, take it or leave it.

Doombreed rating: ****


The Da Vinci Code, the movie

Mrs Doombreed and I went to see The Da Vinci Code today. It's pretty good. Not as good as the book, but then, it never was going to be. Hanks as Langdon is almost convincing, but Ian McKellen as Teabing was not how I'd imagined him (I saw Teabing as more like Freddie Jones' "Kenneth Aubrey" from Firefox, for those with long memories).

Jean Reno was smooth and incredible, but then, when is he not?

The movie does take a slightly different direction than the book did - Langdon and Teabing being more confrontational over their interpretations of the Priory "myth", and Langdon being slightly less "militant atheist with an axe to grind" - but the same message is there.

Mrs Doombreed - she who is the Christian yin to my atheist yang - thoroughly enjoyed it, and came out of the theatre with her faith completely unshaken, scoffing at all the Catholics who have their panties in a bunch.

Worth a watch. Especially if, like us, the projector breaks halfway through, providing a much-needed restroom break and apologetic management handing out free movie passes as we left at the end.

Doombreed rating: ****1/2

Friday Rodent Blogging

Today, being that time, being that day, and being that day when I was not at work, became the day when the contents of Selene's home was freshened for the purposes of not stinking.

Translation: I changed Selene's cage today.

Oh boy. Was she pissed..

This is Selene who is Not Talking To Us. Just like Imo used to...

Darth Vader Soundboard

I know I posted a link from DevilDucky last night, but here's another, which is even more awesome:

The Darth Vader Soundboard.

And, because I believe in recognising genius:

Madness Combat 4: Apotheosis

Ever wondered..

..what it might look like if characters from The Matrix played table-tennis*?

No, I hadn't, either. But now I know.

Bear in mind that there are no computerised special effects, here. It's all filmed live. And it's hilarious. So low-tech, yet such genius.

*Yes, American readers, that is "ping-pong".


It's what?

Mrs Doombreed and I just purchased a new bed. Bigger, more comfortable, more cool headboardy, and, apparently, the frame came with everything needed to put it together including - vital for attatching that headboard - all the required "nust and bolts."

Can't forget those nust. Nust are a must.


Atheism Online

I just wanted to introduce Atheism Online to you, gentle reader. I'm already listed there (hence the linky graphic down there towards the bottom of the page with my other campaign ribbons*), but it's a great resource for people looking to read atheist blogs, opinions, forums or websites.

It's through Atheism Online that I discovered Bligbi's blog (a fascinating read, well worth the effort) and this fascinating, if long, discussion about why various atheists are - well - atheists (a question I have already answered here).

*See below the Firefox and Thunderbird graphics are two columns of little retangular graphics? They're not there for decoration, y'know. But they do remind me of those little medal ribbons that military uniforms usually have.


Creationism dismissed as 'a kind of paganism' by Vatican's astronomer

Here's an intriguing article. Apparently, the Vatican's astronomer has dismissed creationism and declares it "a form of paganism":

"BELIEVING that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday.

Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a 'destructive myth' had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a 'kind of paganism' because it harked back to the days of 'nature gods' who were responsible for natural events."

And kudos to him for this wise quote:

"Knowledge is dangerous, but so is ignorance"

I didn't even know the Vatican had an astronomer.

This, however, makes me a little suspicious of the whole thing:

Brother Consolmagno, who was due to give a speech at the Glasgow Science Centre last night, entitled "Why the Pope has an Astronomer", said the idea of papal infallibility had been a "PR disaster". What it actually meant was that, on matters of faith, followers should accept "somebody has got to be the boss, the final authority".

"It's not like he has a magic power, that God whispers the truth in his ear," he said.

Actually, I thought that was precisely what we were supposed to believe.

Anyway, if true, it's a nice hint that maybe the Roman Catholic church might make it into the 20th century before the rest of us leave the 21st.


The Atheist's Nightmare

This is absolutely stunning. Incredible. Amazing. I hereby renounce my atheism and swear eternal loyalty to Jesus Christ, our Lord.

As soon as Whacko McStupid here can answer this question:

If the banana is so perfectly made for us, because of its shape, texture, peel, taste and colour, why aren't all fruits the same?

Seriously. Why are oranges round and - er - orange? Why are melons too big to hold in one hand and covered in that thick skin? Why don't mangoes have three ridges on the top and two on the bottom? Why don't apples have the easily removed peel?

And why can I eat the peel on some fruit, but not on others, hmmmm?

Isn't it just that the idiot picked the one fruit that his arguments would work on?

Hat tip to Bligbi.

How Sinful Are You?

S. Setterbo over at AtheistExposed2 pointed out this fun little game. I'm a little offended, I think. Though, that Star Trek thing was a little close to home...

Your Deadly Sins
Sloth: 60%
Gluttony: 20%
Wrath: 20%
Envy: 0%
Greed: 0%
Lust: 0%
Pride: 0%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 14%
You will die with your hand down your underwear, watching Star Trek.

Can't buy me love...?

Further proof, as if it were needed, that America is not so different from England. Here, too, money may not be able to buy love, but it can buy a different set of legal standards. Here, too, rank hath its privileges.

Dr Ernie Fletcher, Kentucky State Governor, was indicted for his part in the state's recent discriminatory hiring practices scandal on three counts, one of criminal conspiracy, one of official misconduct in the first degree, and one of political discrimination. Fletcher's office, it's alleged, hired, fired and promoted people based upon whether they supported Fletcher or his Democrat rival in the election. State laws make this a crime, as positions within the state government are supposed to decided on merit only.
Fletcher maintains that the investigation has been politically motivated (which seems a given, seeing as the crime was politically motivated, but there ya go) and has filed to have the State Attorney General removed from the case, but admits "mistakes were made" by his administration.

In America, after the indictment comes "the arraignment", where the charges are read before a judge, the defendant is formally asked to enter a plea, and either pleads guilty or not guilty and, if necessary, the question of bail is addressed.

Fletcher, however, as of yesterday, still hadn't made up his mind whether he's going to bother turning up to the arraignment hearing because doing so would provide his political opponents with "a dramatic perp walk."

Most normal people are led to their arraignments in handcuffs by burly, armed court officials, and those aren't face contempt of court charges if they don't voluntarily appear.

The Evolution Of Dance

This is hilarious. Watch as comedian Judson Laipply takes us on a journey through six decades of dance.

Oh, yeah, and don't forget to cringe when you see those dances that you did in your youth.

Hat tip to Wreckage-Elite at AP for the link.


Friday Rodent Blogging

This is the cuteness that is Selene trying to enjoy a pumpkin seed in peace. Foiled again by the mad human with the flashing silver box.


The Da Vinci Deception Deception

Before I commence, here's a little info:

In order that I should not spoil, for anyone that has not read it, the "twist" in The Da Vinci Code, I shall, henceforth, refer to it simply as "The Theory."

Anyone who has read The Da Vinci Code knows what The Theory is, and exactly why it's caused the Vatican to get its knickers in a twist, not to mention getting Christian apologists everywhere foaming at the mouth.

In response to The Da Vinci Code, several of these apologists have published books claiming to refute it. Titles like The Da Vinci Deception, The Truth Behind The Da Vinci Code, The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing The Errors In The Da Vinci Code and Cracking Da Vinci's Code stand in bookstores, often sharing displays with the book which was their inspiration.

Firstly, let's examine the dichotomy here. Christian apologists are falling over themselves to remind us over and over that The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction. Now, why are these people spending so much time and effort in refuting a work of fiction, and a self-admitted work of fiction at that? Why are they searching its pages for even the tiniest of errors so that they may trumpet its fictional status from the rooftops?

Okay, I always remind myself to look for the lowest common denominator. Some of these authors, at least, are likely to be simply jumping on the bandwagon, using the hype surrounding the upcoming movie release in order to make money or increase their literary standing amongst the Christian bookbuying public.

But at least some must be doing it because they genuinely believe that The Da Vinci Code represents a genuine threat to the Roman Catholic church - and to Christianity in general - and desperately want to refute it.

But that's not what prompted this entry, per se.

I was in Waldenbooks today, where I picked up a copy of Deception Point by Dan Brown and The Massianic Legacy by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

Both of these books were on a display with various books related to The Da Vinci Code including the Christian apologist books named above.

What startled me is that most of the books that seek to refute The Theory contain, on their back-cover blurb, the same error. Most describe The Theory as being "Dan Brown's wild theory", or some variation thereof.

But it's not Dan Brown's theory, wild or otherwise.

The Theory was first advanced in the pages of Holy Blood, Holy Grail which, remember, was first published in 1982.

Dan Brown even mentions Holy Blood, Holy Grail in The Da Vinci Code as being the first place that The Theory was brought to the attention of the public.

But it's easier to undermine The Theory if it's the work of one novelist than if it's the product of three highly respected historians' years of painstaking research.

And if these apologist authors cannot even get the basic facts straight for the back-cover blurb, what makes them believe we'll trust them with what's inside the book?


Post-op care, Doombreed style

No blog yesterday because I was looking after Mrs Doombreed, who had surgery on her arm.

It was less fun for her than it was for me, and it was pretty much no fun for me. We did have some darkly funny moments because Mrs Doombreed was dosed up with a drug called "versed" (pronounced ver-said) which works by temporarily blocking the mind's ability to create new memories. The upshot of this is that when you talk to someone, you can't remember the conversation. So Mrs Doombreed asked me the same series of questions at least five times in a row, because she couldn't remember the answers.

Anyway, I'm keeping track of Mrs Doombreed's meds, making sure she sticks with doctor's orders, making dinner, fetching and carrying, and basically looking after She Who Is The Centre Of My Universe.

Pretty much everything I signed on for when we got married. Doing the husbandly duty. Being a man. Stepping up to the plate. Doing what any good spouse would.

Okay, yeah, so I'm enjoying looking after The Most Wonderful Woman In The World. So what?

I also want to thank Mrs Doombreed's mother. Mrs Doombreed's mother is the remedy to all the comedic mother-in-law jokes. She's a great person. She drove us over to the surgery centre, stayed with me whilst Mrs Doombreed is in surgery, even bought me dinner (Arby's chicken salad wraps are incredible).

Finally, of course, thanks to the doctor who performed the surgery, and all the staff who gave her such good care, before, during, and after.

The operation was minor and routine, but any time general anesthetic is used, it carries with it a risk that the patient might not come out.

Still, she came through with flying colors, and now a combination of the pain meds and lingering after effects of the anesthetic have sent her off for an afternoon nap, allowing me to indulge in a rare and forbidden pleasure.

I'm watching Zulu.


From The Da Vinci Code to..

I've gotten into the habit of reading two books at once recently. One book stays at home, and the second is kept, usually, in my backpack or in the back pocket of my jeans (if it fits). This is because I like to read on my breaks at work, and I know that if I take my "work" book out of my backpack tonight, tomorrow I'll leave without it.

Anyway, this moment's "work" book is Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, he of The Da Vinci Code fame (or should that be infamy?). Angels & Demons is the book that came before The Da Vinci Code, also featuring Robert Langdon as the lead (yeah, Tom Hanks' character), but this time he's defending the Vatican against a dastardly plot by The Illuminati.

Brown again delves deep into the we'd-rather-you-kept-that-secret history of the Roman Catholic church, and reveals some surprising architectural and historical insights. So far it's keeping me enthralled and has almost made me late returning from break on two occasions.

Yes, it is fiction. I get it.

My "home" book is currently Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the book that, apparently, inspired The Da Vinci Code. This book is not fiction. It is the account of a number of scholars who, through researching various mysteries and trying to put together documentaries for the BBC, stumbled across clues to what might be the most startling secret in history.

If you've read The Da Vinci Code, you know what it is. If you haven't, I won't spoil it. And if you have, and liked it, you'll enjoy Angels & Demons. Holy Blood, Holy Grail is less entertaining, but then, it's not a novel.


England Germany '06 squad finalised

Sven-Goran Eriksson has named the England squad for Germany 2006, leading to a slight storm-in-a-teacup over bringing Theo Walcott up to the world's premier sporting event, even though Sven's never seen him play.

I say good luck to the kid. England's most dazzling players have always been the ones that nobody thought should be there, so maybe Sven's got the right idea.

I was especially chuffed to hear that four 'Spurs players made it to the squad.


There's no such thing as flying saucers

Well, now we can lay all that speculation to rest. The Ministry of Defence says so, according to Auntie Beeb.

Just one question, y'know, call it my need to know, but just how much did this frigging ridiculous project cost us?

The real creationist agenda

I stumbled across a very telling quote today. The Grauniad ran a piece about John Mackay, an Australian creationist who is visiting England in order to show his support for forcing religion on people and forcing the taxpayer to pay for it (hat tip to Red State Rabble for the link). In the article is a quote from Kurt Wise, author of In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation.

The quote goes:

"[i]f all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand."

If you don't get why it's so ominous, read it again carefully, and think on this:

Can a person who feels this way accept anything less than total victory? Could this person be happy with "teaching the controversy"? Would he be content with a brief aside in science class about how some won't accept evolution as fact? How about "opposing viewpoints"? A section of the syllabus dealing with creationism as an idea?

What about, when you get right down to it, "equal time"? Is this person, who openly admits that he rejects all evidence that doesn't fit with his religion, going to be happy with his religion being presented as equal to evolution?

In a word, no.

Such a person is not likely to be happy until every trace of evolutionary theory is wiped from the schools, the libraries, from the world.

Sure, they tell you they just want kids to get a well-rounded education, that things should be fair. But fair isn't even on the agenda.

And we can see how good Mr Wise's word is by his quote. All the evidence in the universe already does point to evolution and yet, he wasn't the first to admit it.

Now will he, apparently, ever admit it.

It reminds me of a show that I was unfortunate enough to catch the arse-end of on one of the US religious television networks. On the show was a self-described "paleontologist" who said that, although he's willing to admit that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that humans and dinosaurs lived together (and, failed to admit the absolute mountains of evidence that they didn't live together) he still believed it was true because of what he called "scriptural evidence."

It's the same thing. Evidence is irrelevant. What's real doesn't matter. Whether or not evolution is true is immaterial because the creationists don't care - they already have their Truth and nothing can change their perception of that.

And, in the face of that, is meaningful dialogue between scientists and creationists even possible?


Friday Rodent Blogging

We don't know where Selene got these from. A new, bigger wheel and this weird crawl tube just suddenly appeared in her cage one day. Presumably she's building some sort of obstacle course in order to maintain fitness.

Mighty Optical Illusions

Seeing as I missed yesterday's blogging, because the damn computer wouldn't connect to the internet, I'll post last night's tonight.

This is just a quick link to Mighty Optical Illusions. An excellent site with some amazing optical illusions.


The Da Vinci Code

Nope, I haven't seen the movie (it's not out yet), but I did finally get around to reading the book. And boy, I can understand why various Christian organisations are pretty pissed about it.

The book - and, presumably, the film - brings into the popular consciousness many facts about the Roman Catholic church that they'd rather remain hidden.

Author Dan Brown brings together a staggering array of church history and weaves a tight little story around them, often leaving one wondering exactly where the facts end and the fiction begins.

The book begins with two facts and a kind of "inverse-disclaimer":

Firstly, that the Priory of Sion is an actual organisation, a so-called "secret society", formed in 1099, which has had, apparently, amongst its members Sir Isaac Newton, Boticelli and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci.

Second, that Opus Dei is, also, an actual organisation which claims over 80,000 members worldwide. A very powerful sect within the Roman Catholic church, Opus Dei (lit. "work of God") is ultra-conservative and is rumoured to have had a strong hand in the election of conservative Benedictine XVI as successor to the relatively liberal John Paul II.

The author then goes on to state that all descriptions of "artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals" are also factual and accurate.

What the author studiously avoids stating is whether the little tidbits of background on the church are also accurate.

Now, I'm not going to go into detail here, because that would spoil the book and/or the movie - but there a few facts - that may, or may not make it into the movie - which might cause more than a few people to draw in a startled breath.

Opus Dei is already preparing a response to The Da Vinci Code, and has repeatedly taken great pains to remind people that the story is fictional.

(Yeah, we know that. But if I write a story about a guy who drives a Ford Mustang, lives in Tampa, Florida, and shoots people with his H-K PPK, does the fact that it's fictional mean that Mustangs, PPKs and Tampa, Florida do not, in reality, exist?)

The book is outstanding, and it's amazing to be able to go send Google off to find actual pictures of the buildings, carvings, pictures, and places that the characters are dealing with.

And, yes, you have a choice. Either let the book spoil the movie, or let the movie spoil the book.

I've already done the former.


12 year old dead, airgun blamed

BBC News carries the story of a child shot and killed by a friend who had an ND with his father's air rifle:

A 14-year-old boy killed his 12-year-old friend when he accidentally shot him in the head with an air rifle, a court has heard.

The boy was showing off his father's new gun in his bedroom when it went off, firing a pellet through Alex Cole's eye and into his brain."

Now, I have nothing but sympathy for the boy's family, and, yes, this was a terrible tradgedy and an avoidable death.

So why do I get the uneasy feeling that this may be the rallying point for those who want to add airguns to the list of things we Brits can't own because we're too dumb to be trusted?

Why do I hear the sound of a bandwagon going past and the hush caused by thousands just waiting to jump right on?

Maybe I've been corrupted, living in the US, but when I see this kind of story, I don't see a dangerous weapon that needs to be banned.

What I see is a full-grown adult who needs a serious, hard, and repeated cock-punching because he's dumb enough to leave a dangerous weapon around loaded.

What I see is the usual bleeding-heart suspects gleefully leaping on this poor boy's coffin in order to get their latest piece of "I know best what's good for you" legislation passed.

I hope I'm wrong, but I know I'm not.


National Day Of Slayer

March 4th is the National Day Of Prayer here in the USA. So, in response to this, but mostly because the date only comes up once a century, 6th june this year (06/06/06 or 666 for the symbolically blind) has been designated The National Day Of Slayer.

The level of awesome in the world has gone up by at least an order of magnitude.