Frasier's dog Eddie dies aged 16

This is very sad news. Eddie, the loveable dog from the TV show Frasier, has died of old age.

Okay, so I may not admit it much, but I was, and remain, something of a closet Frasier fan. Eddie often made the show.

I can think of no more fitting epitaph than this:

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

- Bern Williams

Frasier's dog Eddie dies aged 16:

"Moose the dog, better known as Eddie in US sitcom Frasier, has died aged 16 in Los Angeles, his trainer has said.

The Jack Russell terrier passed away of old age last week at trainer Mathilde Halberg's home, she told People magazine and the Access Hollywood show.

'He just had an incredible charisma and was a such a free spirit,' Ms Halberg said of Moose, who appeared in 192 Frasier episodes from 1993.

Moose shared the part of Eddie with his son, Enzo.

He made his first appearance on the long-running Cheers spin-off in the first episode on 16 September 1993, retiring 10 years later in 2003. The show finished in 2004."

Germany 2006 Quarter Finals

Predictions for tomorrow's two matches:

Germany vs Argentina:

I predict a hard match, that may well go into extra time, but with Germany on top in the end.

Italy vs Ukraine:

As much as I'd love to see the only remaining World Cup virgins go through to the semi finals, I've got to give this one to Italy.

And here's a little factoid from the Germany 2006 site:

The final eight contains six previous World Cup winners, which is more than have ever been before.

For the record: Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, and Italy.

This is going to be a tough slog to Berlin, and an even tougher match for the two that make it.

Got the munchies?

Yes, this may well be the ultimate apres-pub snackfood, provided that a trip to the emergency room isn't engendered by either the preparation or the consumption:

The beer-battered, deep-fried, bacon double quarter-pounder.

I can feel my arteries going "clang" just reading the site.


Ladies and Gentlemen..

..we at Legal Alien are proud to present the 2006 award for the hugest double entendre in the world:

Carson Palmer Cornhole Classic.

Oh, but it gets worse. Please check out the blurb:

On June 17, 2006, Carson Palmer will host the first annual Carson Palmer Cornhole Classic presented by Cincinnati Bell and Huntington Bank to benefit his new charity partner, Lighthouse Youth Services.

The event begins at 2:00 p.m. on the Cincinnati Bengals practice field. Sponsors and guests will be treated to a unique event complete with amazing food and beverage, activities for all ages, prizes and giveaways, live entertainment by The Mukrackers and the opportunity to play cornhole against Carson’s teammates and other NFL friends.

Palmer developed the idea for the event soon after being introduced to the sport of cornhole while living in Cincinnati. “Shae and I got hooked on playing cornhole right after we moved out here. We have wanted to do an event that incorporates the sport for the past few years so we are excited that it’s finally going to happen,” said Palmer.

Okay. Carson Palmer discovered cornholing, and so excited about it that he persuaded the Bengals to hold a cornholing challenge.

Am I the only one who sees this as funny?

Phew, SbB sees it too..


Germany 2006 Day 19

Well, Simon was right. France did, indeed, send Spain out of the World Cup. I started watching when it was 1-1, and it looked like it was going to extra time. But then suddenly France smashed two home in quick succession, and the rotund female was belting out an aria at full volume.

In other news, the world of football was stunned when Brazil won again.

What's worrying me is that England's route to the final lays through Brazil, unless France can beat them first.

Brazil vs France, 1st July.

No games tomorrow, so I predict a series of no-score draws.


Germany 2006 Day 18

Australia are out, which is a real shame. I would have loved to see the Aussies go further. Italy hit one home despite being down to ten men, which is quite impressive in anyone's book.

And red cards are just flowing out of this tournament.

Switzerland got a lesson in just how annoying penalty shootouts are. This is the first time any team's been down to panalties in this World Cup, but I doubt it'll be the last.

Italy go on to play Ukraine on the 30th.

Tomorrow brings Brazil vs Ghana, and Spain vs France. You've got to favour Brazil and Spain to go through.

Ukraine and Ghana are the only World Cup virgins left in the tournament, and Ukraine are already through to the quarter-finals. It's be great if Ghana could join them.

All they need do is get through Brazil.

Yeah, because that should be a piece of cake.


Germany 2006 Day 17

England beat Ecuador and Portugal beat Holland, so now England faces Portugal in the quarter-finals.

First, the England game was weak. It lacked style, oomph, verve, whatever. Again, it was typical English football, where an ugly win is still a win. The Beckham goal was a delight, and Ecuador were extremely unfortunate not to score from one of their several shots on goal.

And now...

Okay, Portugal vs Holland was a complete bastardfest. Four players sent off (stat alert - this breaks the all-time World Cup record), sixteen yellow cards (stat alert - this ties the all-time World Cup record), fouls every thirty seconds, retaliation, fights. Both teams wanted this real bad.

England against Portugal looks like it'll be a good match, if England can actually show up this time.

The way we played today may cut it against Ecuador, but against the likes of Germany or Brazil, we'd get thrashed.

The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift

Tokyo Drift is as good as The Fast And The Furious, and way better than 2 Fast, 2 Furious.

Lucas Black stars as Shawn, an American teen shipped off to live with his father in Japan after causing one bit of trouble too many whilst street racing. Of course, the country that developed "drifting" is the ideal place to send a hothead like that. It takes Shawn all of thirty seconds to fall in with the drift racing crowd, thirty-five seconds to identify the nephew-of-a-Yakuza whom he absolutely must not piss off, and about fifty seconds to actually piss him off.

Cue some cool racing scenes, much drifting, much crashing, and plot that's there somewhere.

The movie is like the first. If you're expecting deep, meaningful dialogue and heart-wrenching character interaction, go see something else. This is pure, balls-out, testosterone-fueled mayhem.

The movie, like the first, seems set up to prove that Yank cars are better than Jap cars. This time we take a race-tuned engine - I'm reliably informed that it was a RB26DETT Nissan Skyline GTR engine, which means that it's used to carting around about 3 1/2 ounces of fibreglass bodywork and a tiny driver - and shoe-horn it into a '67 Ford Mustang body and chassis. Apparently, changing the suspension and tires means that this combo is faster than anything else on the road.

Still, willing suspension of disbelief and all that. The same suspension of disbelief is needed when a similar 3 1/2 ounces of fibreglass body rams the 'Stang repeatedly and both cars get damaged! (as opposed to the 'Stang ripping through the other car like a monkey on a cupcake).

If you can submerge that side of your personality, it's a great movie.

And watch out for the World's Greatest Cameo at the end.

Doombreed rating: ****1/2

Germany 2006 Day 16

No surprises today. Germany beat Sweden and, after extra time, Argentina beat Mexico.

Germany and Argentina meet in the quarter-finals on the 30th.

Tomorrow we have England vs Ecuador and Portugal vs Holland. I've got to go with Holland, horrible kit and all, and I've got to stick with England ovr Ecuador.


Friday Rodent Blogging

Remember a few weeks back when I snapped a pic of Selene staring into space like she was very carefully plotting escape?

Well, she's at it again..

Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties

Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties is the sequel to - well - Garfield, of course.

Personally, I thought that it was superior to the original.

The story is a rough take on The Prince and The Pauper storyline. Liz (Jennifer Love-Hewitt), girlfriend of Jon (Breckin Meyer) is heading to England to give a keynote address. Jon follows because he wants to pop the question. Garfield tags along because he doesn't want Jon to pop the question. Odie goes too because.. well.. just because. Meanwhile, living in the fictional "Carlisle Castle" is pampered noble moggie Prince (voiced by Tim Curry) who has just inherited the estate from his dead owner. Dead owner's nephew Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly) wants the estate, but as long as Prince is alive, he can't have it.

What follows is a mildly predictable romp through incompetent murder attempts, mistaken identity farce, some song and dance scenes, a few "getting to know you" moments, and some genuinely hilarious slapstick.

By far the funniest character in the movie is the one with the fewest lines: a pathologically stupid, but terminally violent rottweiler named Rommel (voiced by Vinnie Jones).

Altogether a good movie. Great for the kids.

Doombreed rating: ****1/2

Germany 2006 Day 15

100% right on...

Switzerland 2-0 Korea

Switzerland took Group G with this nice little win.

Togo 0-2 France

France held Group G runner up.

Ukraine 1-0 Tunisia

Ukraine qualified as Group H runner-up.

Saudi Arabia 0-1 Spain

Spain wins Group H.

Switzerland plays Ukraine on the 26th, and Spain plays France on the 27th.

Only two matches tomorrow; Germany vs Sweden, and Argentina vs Mexico. Germany should be a shoe-in. The Argentinian team should win, but it could be very tight.


Germany 2006 Day 14

Ghana 2-1 USA

Okay, so the USA went out. This was, I'll admit, quite a surprise. I guess the USA team found out just how annoying penalties are.

I was very disappointed at the ESPN team who went about three minutes after the final whistle before ripping into the players and the coaches and apportioning blame.

No blame is necessary. This is football. 22 men, green grass, and a ball.

The USA is the richest, most powerful nation on Earth. They have the world's most advanced training programmed, facilities, and some of the world's best coaches.

Ghana is so poor that its football governing body couldn't afford to pay the team members to go to the World Cup and, instead, their government stepped in and promised each player US$20,000 (an absolute fortune in Ghana) for each win.

Yet Ghana beat the USA and sent them out of the World Cup.

Population (USA: 292 million, Ghana: 20.47 million), size (USA:9,631,418 Sq Km Ghana: 239, 460 Sq Km), GDP (USA: US$37,600, Ghana: US$2,100). None of this matters. Ghana has a professional domestic football league, USA doesn't. Ghana is football crazy, USA isn't.

Ghana is through to the next round, USA isn't. Don't blame the coaches or the team. They fought hard. But the pure lack of interest back home was telling.

And, remember this:

For the USA, they must beat Ghana and Italy beat Czech Republic or beat Ghana and Czech Republic beat Italy with a combined +6 GAD or more to go through.
Had USA won, they'd have gone through:

Czech Republic 0-2 Italy

Well, Italy showed why they rank highly in the world when they slammed their way through to the second round with this very nice victory over Czech Republic. I guess that the Czech Republic being a man down for the second half didn't hurt either.

Japan 1-4 Brazil

What can I say? It's Brazil. Another team to go through with a full 9 points. Were you expecting anything less?

Croatia 2-2 Australia

Australia clinched their second round berth with this draw. That's the good news. The bad news is that they now have to face Italy.

Okay, four more:

Italy play Australia on the 26th, and Brazil play Ghana on the 27th.

Tomorrow brings Switzerland vs Korea, Togo vs France, Ukraine vs Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia vs Spain.

I'm predicting Switzerland, France, Ukraine, and Spain.

These matches conclude the group stage of the tournament, so on Saturday (Germany vs Sweden, and Argentina vs Mexico) we're down to sudden death. Win or go home.

Germany 2006 Day 13

I'm tired, it's late, so this is going to be quick:

Holland 0-0 Argentina

Giant game. Argentina win the group, Holland go through second.

Ivory Coast 3-2 Serbia & Montenegro

Both teams were going home even before this match, but they gave us a great show before they went.

Portugal 2-1 Mexico

Portugal finished their group with a full 9 points. Nicely done. Mexico go through as runner-up.

Iran 1-1 Angola

Angola could have gone through with a slight miracle. A draw was not it.

Four more teams for the next round:

Argentina play Mexico on the 24th, Portugal play Holland on the 25th. Both should be stunning matches.

Tomorrow brings Czech Republic vs Italy, USA vs Ghana, Japan vs Brazil, and Croatia vs Australia.

My money's on the Czech Republic (even after being beaten by Ghana), USA, Brazil, and Australia.

The Birthday Boy!

Yesterday was my birthday, and the celebrations ranged up and down the country.

Okay, so it went over two states.

Yep, two states. On Saturday, Mrs Doombreed took me on a little road trip up to Paul Brown Stadium (it's where the Bengals play).

The Bengals were having a "mini camp open day", which means that we got to go in and look around the stadium, watch the players train and run drills, and - if you wanted - pick out and test which seat you wanted for your season ticket.

We got to see the various players - though Carson Palmer wasn't there - put through their paces. We got to see "Who Dey", the team's mascot, and a couple of the Ben-Gals, the team cheerleaders.

We had good hotdogs and bad pizza, caught some rays because it was bloody hot, and had a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Then, on Sunday, we went to Mrs Doombreed's parent's house.

I could never become a stand-up comedian, because I have absolutely no "bad in-laws" stories. My in-laws - Mrs Doombreed's family - are wonderful. Mrs Doombreed's mother is nice, generous, caring, and a great cook. Mrs Doombreed's father the personification of the term "a great bloke". Heck, all of her family are great. And thanks to them, I now have completed my collection of Star Trek Collector's Edition Movie DVDs. Sweet.

(Yes, I'm a Trekkie. So what?)

Mrs Doombreed's mother also made the most delicious dinner, and a cake to follow.

I've said it before, and I'll no doubt have cause to say it again, but marrying Mrs Doombreed was the smartest thing I've ever done. I'm the luckiest man in the world.


Germany 2006 Day 12 (ii)

England-Sweden (from one fan's perspective)

At half time
(which was when I picked up my AlphaSmart and started blogging whilst watching):

Well, Owen going out was - stat alert - the fastest substitution in World Cup history.

Replacing Owen with Crouch may have been the stupidest decision in World Cup history.

Ah well..

Oh, and sports shows can stop showing how Owen's knee goes splurk as he goes down. It's making me squirm and we keep having to see it over and over and over again.


Joe Cole slotted home what may be the goal of the tournament so far - and that's not just my opinion, even the American commentators were talking about it in those terms.

England are playing better - far better - than I've seen them playing for years.

Second half

England coming out attacking. This is encouraging.

But Sweden are also starting to wake up, and this could fall into..

Okay. I was about to type that this could fall into the old pattern of England laying back and Sweden replying with an equaliser.

And guess what happened?

Sweden equalised.


Stat alert - that was the 2,000th goal in World Cup history.

54th minute: Here's a wake-up call for England: The crossbar should not be saving goals.

What happened?

England need to get back into this game and quick or we'll loose and have to face Germany, and we will loose that match.

But the good news: Eriksson just brought our man Campbell on. Excellent. We like Sol Campbell. He used to play with Spurs, and is a giant in defense.

What's worrying is that England are looking more and more like we're playing for the draw. That's never good.

Again: This is why England aren't allowed to score first any more.

59th minute
: And AGAIN with the crossbar!

61st minute: Campbell just showed why he's there. Excellent defending.

69th minute: Sheeit. Rooney's out. And he is not a happy chappy about it. Great save by Gerrard, his replacement, though.

75th minute: The first lesson in FOOTball, Mr Hargreaves, is that we use our FEET, not our HANDS.

85th minute: That goal was textbook. Bloody textbook. 2-1. Sweet strike, Gerrard.

89th minute: Sweden pulls it out and now it's 2-2. What the hell was Ashley Cole doing? The ball just dribbles into the net and he just watches it go in. Great. 3 minutes of stoppage time and we've got a draw.

Game over
: 2-2.

Sweden faces Germany, England faces Ecuador.

Stat alert: England haven't beaten Sweden since 1968.

Germany 2006 Day 12 (i)

Okay, four games today, and we're wrapping up the group stages and seeing who is really going through to the next round.


Group A

Ecuador 0-3 Germany

Costa Rica 1-2 Poland

Germany are first, with 9 points, and play the runner-up from Group B.

Ecuador are second, with 6 points, and play the winner of Group B.

Poland are third, with 3 points, and are going home.

Costa Rica are fourth, with 0 points, and are going home.

Group B

Paraguay 2-0 Trinidad & Tobago

Sweden 2-2 England

(commentary on the Sweden - England game with follow in the next post)

England are first, with 7 points, and play Ecuador on the 25th.

Sweden are second, with 5 points, and play Germany on the 24th.

Paraguay are third, with 3 points, and are going home.

Trinidad & Tobago are fourth, with 1 point, and are going home.

Germany 2006 Day 11

Group G

Togo 0-2 Switzerland

This game wrapped up Group G's second week:

Switzerland are first, with 4 points and +2 GD

Korea are second, with 4 points and +1 GD

France are third with 2 points and +/- 0 GD

Togo are fourth with 0 points and -3 GD

Switzerland go through if France loses, no matter what the result of their game with Korea. If France wins, Switzerland must also win, or draw if France wins by 1 goal.

Korea is the same.

France must win in order to go through.

Togo are going home.

Group H

Spain 3-1 Tunisia

Saudi Arabia 0-4 Ukraine

Spain are first, with 6 points and +6 GD

Ukraine are second, with 3 points and +/- 0 GD

Tunisia are third, with 1 point and -2 GD

Saudi Arabia are fourth, with 1 point and -4 GD

Spain are through.

Ukraine must beat Tunisia to go through, or draw with Tunisia and Spain beat or draw with Saudi Arabia, or draw with Tunisia and Saudi Arabia beat Spain by 4 goals or less.

Tunisia must beat Ukraine and Spain beat or draw with Saudi Arabia, or beat Ukraine and Saudi Arabia beat Spain by 2 goals or less.

Saudi Arabia must beat Spain and Tunisia beat Ukraine by more than a combined +2 GD in Saudi Arabia's favour (eg, Tunisia win by 1, Saudi Arabia win by 4) or win by more than 4 goals and Tunisia and Ukraine draw.


Germany 2006 Day 10

This post was written on Sunday, but I was unable to post it until today. Time and date on post are correct for when it was written.

June 20th 10:41PM



So maybe the Brazil thing didn't work out. I get it. The better team will only be upset by the underdog when I predict they'll easily win..

Brazil 2-0 Australia

Now, Australia didn't make it easy on Brazil, so it's way too early to count them out yet.

Japan 0-0 Croatia

Not a lot that can be said about this. Brilliant save against a penalty for Japan, though.

France 1-1 Korea

France took the lead early, Korea pulled an equaliser late. Hmm.. somebody's obviously translated the English playbook into French.

Tomorrow brings Togo vs Switzerland, Saudia Arabia vs Ukraine, and Spain vs Tunisia.

I'm calling Spain, Ukraine and Switzerland.

BTW, check this out. A guest column by former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. This guy's a former world leader - and he's writing a column about football!!. This game really does extend to all peoples and all levels.

Just one group to check out today:

Group F

Brazil are first (naturally) with 6 points and +3 GD

Australia are second with 3 points and +/- 0 GD

Croatia are third with 1 point and -1 GD

Japan are fourth with 1 point and -2 GD

Brazil plays Japan, Croatia plays Australia, with only Brazil guaranteed to go through no matter what.


In order to qualify, Australia must beat Croatia. A draw against Croatia will only help if either Brazil beats Japan or Brazil and Japan draw or Japan beats Brazil by 2 goals or less.

Croatia, in return, must beat Australia, and have Brazil beat Japan, or Brazil and Japan draw, or Japan beat Brazil with a combined GD of less than +1 in Japan's favour.

Japan needs to beat Brazil and have Croatia beat Australia, or, if Australia and Croatia tie, must beat Brazil by more than 3 goals.

Germany 2006 Day 9 (ii)

Okay, two more groups to look at:

Group D

Portugal are first, with 6 points and +3 GD

Mexico are second, with 4 points and +2 GD

Angola are third, with 1 point and -1 GD

Iran are fourth, with 0 points and -4 GD

Portugal are through, Iran are going home.

Mexico can go through if they beat Portugal or get a draw or Iran beats Angola or Angola beats Iran with a GD (between both matches) of less than +3.

Angola can go through if they beat Iran with a GD of more than +3 and Mexico loses to Portugal.

Group E

This one's complicated:

Italy are first, with 4 points and +2 GD

Czech Republic are second, with 3 points and +1 GD

Ghana are third, with 3 points and +/- 0 GD

USA are fourth, with 1 point and -3 GD

Okay, pay attention.

Nobody is guaranteed to go anywhere yet.

Italy can qualify, if they beat Czech Republic or draw with Czech Republic. The other game is irrelevant to them.

Czech Republic can qualify, if they beat Italy or draw with Italy and have the USA-Ghana game end in a draw or draw with Italy and have USA beat Ghana by less than 5 goals.

Ghana will qualify if they beat the USA. The other game is irrelevant to them.

For the USA, they must beat Ghana and Italy beat Czech Republic or beat Ghana and Czech Republic beat Italy with a combined +6 GD or more to go through.

Okay, I think that's all cleared up...

Germany 2006 Day 9 (i)

Well, that may well have been the freakiest day I've ever seen in professional football..

Portugal 2-0 Iran

Okay, except this game, maybe. I was pretty much expecting Portugal to see off Iran and secure a place in the next round to boot.

Italy 1-1 USA

Never mind the score, what about the red cards? Three in one match? And USA playing a man down against Italy managed to hold to a draw?

I was seriously impressed with the USA during today's game. Very, very nice work. Shame it won't do much good. See, the USA needed a win today, because there's no way Ghana's beating the Czechs.

I mean, come on. Never gonna happen.

Czech Republic 0-2 Ghana

Ladies and Gentlemen. We have now entered crazy-arsed backwards world.

If there are three unwritten rules to football they are:

1) Commentators can always be relied upon to say the dumbest things at the most inopportune moment.

2) In order to win the World Cup, one must beat Germany.

3) The Czech team does not lose to Ghana.

Even a man down this should not have been a loss, let alone a 2-0 loss.

Wow. I'm convinced. Anything can happen now.

Tomorrow brings Brazil vs Australia, Japan vs Croatia, and France vs Korea.

In reverse order: I'm picking Korea over France, Croatia over Japan, and Australia over Brazil.

No, I am not insane. Korea are doing pretty well, and France couldn't beat Switzerland. Croatia held the mighty Brazil to 1-0, and Japan got spanked by Australia. And Australia over Brazil? Well, the numbers have been wrong a lot recently, and Australia are still hungry, but now they've got confidence with it.


Friday Rodent Blogging

"Now, I know there's a treat here somewhere..."

Selene, who is performing the dangerous task of taking a pumpkin seed out of my hand without biting my fingers. She nuzzled, she nibbled, and then she decided to go for the seed.

Selene's doing well with the hands. She'll let me pick her up - though she does give me the runaround just for fun - and she'll let me pet her, although she's a little nervous about being scratched behind the ears. If I put my hand in there, she'll climb all over it quite happily, untill she figures out there's no pumpkin seed, then she usually sits and gives me the "forget something?" look.

Germany 2006 Day 8 (ii)

Group C was decided today:

Group C

Argentina are first, with 6 points and +7 GD.

Holland are second, with 6 points and +2 GD.

Ivory Coast are third, with 0 points and -2 GD.

Serbia & Montenegro are fourth, with 0 points and -7 GD.

Argentina and Holland are through, and only ranking needs to be decided when they play each other on June 21st - which should be a killer match. Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro are going home, and on the 21st, they play for national pride.

So, another boring group.

Germany 2006 Day 8 (i)

Two out of three, again.

Argentina 6-0 Serbia & Montenegro

Foly Huck!

Yeah, see, Argentina whomping on poor little Serbia & Montenegro for ninety minutes was actually pretty boring, unless one is an Argentinian fan, of course.

Holland 2-1 Ivory Coast

Still a great team. Still a horrible kit.

Mexico 0-0 Angola

Flippin 'eck! Go Angola! I caught the end of this game, and it was tense as Ken Dodd passing a tax office.

Uh, okay, that was a very old and obscure joke.

How about .. as tense as White House staff riding through Baghdad?

Both sides kept fighting right to the bitter end, and only some incredible saves from two talented goalies kept the score 0-0.

Tomorrow brings Portugal vs Iran, Italy vs USA, and Czech Republic vs Ghana.

I'm thinking Portugal, Czech Republic and, yes, Italy. I think USA has a chance, but ultimately, the smart money has to be against them.

Germany 2006 Day 7 (ii)

We've reached that special and magical time in the life of a young World Cup, where we can now start looking at what each team has to do to get through to the final rounds.

So, without further ado:

Group A

Ecuador are top of Group A, with 6 points and a goal difference of +5.

Germany are second, with 6 points and a goal difference of +3.

Poland are third, with 0 points and a goal difference of -3.

Costa Rica are fourth, with 0 points and a goal difference of -5.

Poland and Costa Rica are out of the tournament and nothing can change that. Ecuador and Germany are through to the next round, and the only thing left to decide is which goes through as winner and which goes through as runner-up, which will be decided by their game on June 20th. Poland and Costa Rica play each other for nothing except national pride.

Boring group.

Group B

England are in first place, with 6 points and a goal difference of +3.

Sweden are second, with 4 points and a goal difference of +1.

Trinidad & Tobago are third, with 1 point and a goal difference of -2.

Paraguay are fourth with 0 points and a goal difference of -2.

Now, England are through, Paraguay are going home, but nothing else is settled.

Okay, deep breath..

If England win, beating Sweden, and Trinidad & Tobago win, beating Paraguay and the goal difference between the two games is higher than +3 (eg, Sweden and Paraguay both loose by 2 goals), Trinidad & Tobago go through.

If Sweden wins or draws, or if Paraguay wins, or if Trinidad & Tobago wins by a goal difference of +3 goals or less, Sweden goes through.

If Sweden does win, they take the group. Otherwise England takes the group.

And remember, both games are at the same time, so neither knows what the other did.


Good, there may be a test later.

Germany 2006 Day 7 (i)

Three pretty good games today, and my score is 2-1.

Ecuador 3-0 Costa Rica

Fun fact: This is the first time Ecuador have ever got out of the group stages. Okay, so it's only the second time they've been to the World Cup, but still, impressive.

Ecuador are looking quite dangerous right now, certainly a team to keep an eye on. And as for Mr Kaviedes and his yellow spiderman mask, what a great way to celebrate. But, hadn't that been in his sock for over 90 minutes of hard play? Mmmm.. cheesy..

Sweden 1-0 Paraguay

Okay, Sweden needed 88 minutes to score against Paraguay. England needed a Paraguayan player to score for them. Who did better?

Nothing truly shocking about the game, but Sweden shows that slow and steady can, indeed, win the race.

And wasn't there another game played today...?

Oh, yeah...

England 2-0 Trinidad & Tobago

Rooney came back. I like Wayne Rooney, even if he does bear a passing resemblance to Shrek. Mrs Doombreed likes David Beckham, just not the way I like Wayne Rooney, if you catch my drift.

A few comments, though.

This game was English football through and through. Nothing flashy, nothing to make any "greatest Word Cup moments" DVD, but a victory nonetheless.

What's surprising to me (and, probably, to many an England fan) is how we're scoring a lot later in the game. We're used to seeing an England team that goes out and plays well for 45-60 minutes, then falls to pieces in the end. Now, we're staying the course, which can only be good.

Peter Crouch needs to grow up. Before he scored the excellent goal, there was a bad moment where he was called for holding in the goalmouth. I say holding, but in order to keep his opponent down any more efficiently, Crouch would have had to have nailed his feet to the floor. And, when caught, Crouch reacted like it was a unfair call, and he's done that a lot over the last two games. Here's a message: You did it, you got caught, take it like a man and move on. The childish temper tantrums are unbecoming.

Having said that, nicely done with the goal.

I felt, and was giving vent to my feelings, that England was going to pull back and defend, and we'd conceed a goal. Minutes later I was proved wrong when Gerrard left-footed a scorching ball straight into the top corner. Nice.

Trinidad & Tobago should have equalised from a brilliant 92nd minute cross tapped in by John, but fell foul of the offside rule. Which I then had to explain to Mrs Doombreed. Fun.

Overall, not a lot of razzle-dazzle, no great amounts of vroom-vroom-vroom, little to bother keeping the DVR recording for (I was at work for most of the first half), but a victory is a victory.

So, as I said, pretty much 100% England.

Tomorrow we have Argentina vs Serbia & Montenegro, Holland vs Ivory Coast, and Mexico vs Angola.

I see no reason to go against the numbers on these three, so Argentina, Holland and Mexico it is.


Germany 2006 Day 6

Prediction-wise, I was right, half-right, and wrong.

Spain 4-0 Ukraine

Well, the Spanish have arrived, and in no uncertain terms. Two goals within 17 mins, and another two after the Ukrainians had a man sent off.

(BTW, I wonder what the stat is for the most number of players red-carded in the first round of the group stages. Maybe I should have been paying attention to the commentary, they probably told me)

Simply put, this is the way most teams would like to kick off their World Cup campaign. Viva Espana! (with apologies for the lack of the accent).

Tunisia 2-2 Saudi Arabia

Well, I called Tunisia, and until stoppage time, I was dead wrong. Then I became half-right. Neither side really impressed me, but both seem worth keeping an eye on.

(BTW, I wonder what the stat is for the most number of games whose result has changed in stoppage time .. wait .. didn't I already try this line?)

Considering how bad of a drubbing the Saudis received at the hands of Germany in Korea/Japan '02, I'd bet they were grateful to get away with this group this time around...

And, finally, on to the game to which everything else that happened today was mere background:

Germany 1-0 Poland

A lot more Americans I'm meeting are starting to grasp the huge rivalries that exist between teams on the world's biggest stage. England and Argentina, which goes back to us handing them a drubbing over the Falkland Islands not long before Diego Maradona was using the infamous "Hand of God" to send us out of the World Cup. England and Germany, which most people think goes back to WWI and WWII, but in fact goes back way further than that. England and France, which goes back to 1066, and further. Oh, and those are just the ones that England are involved in.

An ESPN commentator identified the German-Polish rivalry as dating from the German invasion of Poland in the beginning of WWII, which is true, but not the whole story. Germany and Poland are neighbours which, in Europe, means they've been scrapping since before they even were Germany and Poland.

Okay, so nowadays we exchange flags at the beginning of the game and shirts at the end, instead of bullets and bombs on the battlefield, but we're all still fighting.

And what a fight this was. Evenly matched, neither side could get anything until Sobolewski was sent off (that's another for the stat) in the 74th minute. Even down to ten men, Germany couldn't quite finish until stoppage time (and there's the other stat) when Neuville slotted one home.

But never mind the goal, what about those two misses in the dying seconds of regulation time? First Klose slams a header which seems certain to go in the net, only to have it bounce back off of the crossbar, and then Ballack hits the same frikkin' spot from the rebound!!

I was on my feet, heart in my throat, eyes wide, screaming. I was completely gone. I didn't care who was about to win or lose, all tactical thoughts about England being better off if Germany lost this one were gone, this was football, pure and simple.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is why there is a World Cup.

Okay, tomorrow brings Ecuador vs Costa Rica, England vs Trinidad & Tobago, and Sweden vs Paraguay.

I'm taking Ecuador, England (but, of course) and Paraguay to upset the Swedes. And that last one isn't such a long shot given how well Paraguay played against England, and how pants the Swedes were against Trinidad & Tobago.

BTW, England vs Trinidad & Tobago beautifully illustrates another reason why there is a World Cup; tiny first-timers Trinidad & Tobago get to go up against one of the most established teams in the world. The team ranked 1,000-1 against winning gets to square off against an England side that many bookies have as one of the favourites.

And as the great Jimmy Greaves put it, "Football: it's a funny old game".

There are no guarantees.


Germany 2006 Day 5 (iii)

Brazil 1-0 Croatia

Okay, so you can always count on the Brazillians to do the right thing. And Croatia, kudos uncounted to them, gave the mighty world champions a hard time.

This, their eighth consecutive World Cup victory, spelled another world record for the Brazillians.

And watch those Croatians. If they can cause Brazil to struggle, they're the match for just about anyone.

Tomorrow brings Spain vs Ukraine, Tunisia vs Saudi Arabia and Germany vs Poland.

I'm taking Spain, Tunisia, and sticking my neck out to say that Poland will upset the hosts.

An American in London

In the spirit of Englishman Turning American that I linked to the other day, I present to you a blog that looks at the reverse. An American in London is the blog of an American living in, well, London. Worth the read.

Germany 2006 Day 5 (ii)

France 0-0 Switzerland

Holy crap, I'm 0-2 today. Hope Brazil still wins!

Germany 2006 Day 5 (i)

Korea 2-1 Togo

Okay, I got one wrong, even though it looked okay at halftime. Still, great game, very exciting, both teams must be very happy with the way they played this one, especially Togo who fought hard despite being a man down.

And didn't the Koreans just look fabulous in their pink shirts?

Next up - France vs Switzerland.


Judge in intelligent-design case still fighting

KRT Wire:"He rattled off a string of incidents that occurred last year: The murder of a Chicago judge's husband and mother by a disgruntled litigant. The oral attacks - led by congressional Republicans - against a Florida judge who ruled that Terri Schiavo could be removed from her feeding tube. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter's suggestion that U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens should be given 'rat poison' for voting to uphold Roe v. Wade. (Coulter later added it was only a joke.)

And an e-mail death threat that Jones received shortly after the Dover ruling caused him to seek U.S. Marshal's Service protection for the first time.

'Judges are really unnerved by this,' Jones said. 'My wife couldn't walk the dog without a marshal walking beside her in the days after the case was decided.'

He wants to remind audiences, he said, that the judicial branch was not designed to react to public opinion as the executive and legislative branches were.

'If a poll shows a majority of Americans think we should teach creationism in schools, we should just go with the flow?' he asked. 'There's this messy thing called the Constitution we have to deal with.'"

Death threats? Isn't this supposed to be the "turn the other cheek" good guys we're talking about?

Germany 2006 Day 4 (ii)

Well, coming off of getting the Australia-Japan match right (see last post), I also hit the final two matches of the day.

USA 0-3 Czech Republic

I was wrong about it being close, but I did get the winner.

I found myself strangely torn over this game. I wanted my adoptive home to do well, I want them to move on to the next round (unlikely, now they've really got to get at least a draw against Italy to even stand a ghost of a chance), and I really wanted the USA to recapture the excitement of Korea/Japan 2002 when they made it to the quarterfinals, but on the other hand, I wanted those smug bastards at ESPN2 to be shut up in no uncertain terms.

Seriously, after talking over most of the Australia-Japan game with their endless speculation over who would play, how they would play, and just how many goals the US would win by, they spent the buildup to the USA-Czech Republic game taking it to extremes. First, they showed the playing of the US national anthem, and then cut to commercial before the Czech anthem could be played. Yeah, I know that the US is kinda new to this, but the point behind the playing of both team's national anthems is that both sides start the game honouring and respecting their opponents. Teams are supposed to remain respectfully silent during their opponent's anthem, and this extends as an unwritten rule to the commentors who are, also, supposed to shut the hell up.

Then, one commentator went on and on about European teams not respecting the USA. As evidence he sited the fact that one bookie in England has the USA at 80-1 to win the tournament.

Okay, wake-up call. Trinidad & Tobago are the real outside bets, at 1,000-1 against taking the trophy. And you think you have something to complain about with 80-1?

As the game progressed, the slightest trace of skill had praise heaped upon it - if it was the USA. A desperate toe-to-the-ball stretch which sent the ball flying off for a corner was described as "brilliant defending", but Czech talent was ignored. Okay, it's home team commentating, so bias is expected, but this circle-jerk got grating.

The Czech Republic's first goal was pretty much dismissed, and constant whining about every refereeing decision - even when the replay showed the ref was 100% right - eventually soured the game for me and I switched off in disgust.

I'm sorry to say I was sneakingly pleased when I later found out the final score.

I just wish there was some way the smug bastards could have been silenced without having the USA loose so badly.

On a positive note:

Italy 2-0 Ghana

I predicted Italy, but I expected it to be worse than this. Italy almost seemed at times to be struggling a little against the African players. But, of course, eventually they came through.

Still, the way they were playing, I wouldn't write off the USA just yet. If the Americans can recover from today, dust themselves off and come at the next game in the right frame of mind, anything could happen.

Tomorrow brings Brazil vs Croatia, France vs Switzerland, and Korea Republic vs Togo.

One would have to have one's head firmly up one's arse not to pick Brazil, but I believe that, whilst they will loose, Croatia will put in an impressive performance, and this will be tighter than it looks on paper. France over Switzerland seems a foregone conclusion. I'm calling on Togo to pull the upset over Korea.

Edit: Yeah, it's Germany 2006, not Germany 2004.

Germany 2006 Day 4 (i)

Today brought even more stats, the only one of which I bothered to memorise was that Australia had never scored in the World Cup. There was a borderline obsession over the US-Czech game, and listening to the commentators during Australia-Japan one would almost get the impression that it's the most important game in the tournament. Endless speculation, dissection, examination, over and over. Oh, and the stats. Oh, the stats. The US is 0 and some really high number against teams in the World Cup when they give up the first goal, so therefore it's vital they score first.

Missing the point, much? It's bloody vital to score, period. It's how you win games. Scoring first performs an action called, in technical terms, "putting you ahead", and failing to score the first goal "puts you behind", and - I'm fairly sure - any team's stats will show that when they are ahead, they tend to win more than when they are behind.

Just a thought.

Australia 3-1 Japan

I'm writing this whilst watching the game, it's currently 1-0

Well, that was a nice little cheating goal that put the Japanese team ahead. Where was the ref? This tournament is starting to look like it's going to be another that's characterised by bad refereeing. Admittedly, the goal against Germany didn't change anything, but the Japanese goal may still decide the match.

84th minute - Australia just equalised. First World Cup goal - ever!

Sweet. Still five minutes plus stoppage to play. This could go either way.

88th minute - 2-1 Australia!

Japan had been hanging back, pulling everyone to defend, which is why the Aussies couldn't get close. But when they equalised, Japan had to start spreading out. End result? Goal in 4 minutes.

3 minutes of stoppage. Australia must win this because they've got Croatia and Brazil, so this is an absolute must-have victory.

92nd minute - Well, so much for playing the game out - Australia just slotted a third home.

Full time, it's over. 3-1.

Okay, that's one Doombreed prediction down, can we make it three out of three?

Back later to see.


Germany 2006 Day 3

Okay, not so long ago I wrote a piece about America's obsession with stats in their sports. Watching ESPN2's coverage of the England-Paraguay game showed that it doesn't just extend to US sports. I don't know if these stats rated a mention in UK coverage of the match, but did you realise that Paraguay's substitution of their goalie was the fastest substitution - of a goalie - in World Cup history? How about England's goal? Did you know that it was the second fastest goal - scored by England - in World Cup history? How about that Paraguay team? Did you know that their win-loss record - against European teams in the World Cup - at the beginning of the match stood at 1-6? And is now 1-7?

And, more importantly, did you care about these stats?

Anyway, on to today's games. No surprises.

Serbia & Montenegro 0-1 Holland

Holland. Horrible kit. Great team.

Mexico 3-1 Iran

Mexico are just sneaking around, aren't they? I mean, ask anyone to name the world's best teams and you'd get Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina. You might get France, England, Spain, Czech Republic. Most people would miss Mexico. Which is a shame, because they're really pretty bloody good, and honestly deserve to be up there in the first group.

Angola 0-1 Portugal

Portugal are another one of those teams that virtually nobody mentions when listing off the greatest football teams, but always seem to crop up on the winning side of the sheet. One to watch.

Okay, so yesterday's predictions were spot on - not that they were hard matches to call. Tomorrow brings Italy vs Ghana, USA vs Czech Republic, and Australia vs Spain.

I'm calling Italy, because one would have to have never heard of football to do anything else, Czech Republic, sorry my American friends, I just think the Czechs are too tough an opener, though I do believe it will be close and hard fought, and Australia, because those buggers are hungry for this, and they may just upset the Japanese side.

Englishman Turning American

Quick link to another blog by a Brit in the USA. Englishman Turning American is written by a Brit living in California, and is quite brilliant.

Germany 2006 Day 2

Well, day 2, and there are still few people over here who care. Now, Tuesday may be a different matter, when the USA goes up against Czech Republic.

England 1-0 Paraguay

Yea, see, this is why England isn't allowed to score first any more. When England are down, we fight like lions. When we're up, we lay back and relax. It's only because Paraguay aren't all that good that this match ended 1-0. Against a really good team, an equaliser would have been a foregone conclusion. Still, a win's a win, three points is three points. We're on top of our group. For now.

Trinidad & Tobago 0-0 Sweden

Yeah, er, what happened to Sweden? Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't they supposed to be quite good? Unalloyed kudos to Trinidad & Tobago, in their first World Cup they hold Sweden to a no-score draw, and after spending almost half of the game down to ten men. Brilliant. They may be a threat despite their low ranking.

Argentina 2-1 Ivory Coast

Well, nothing to say here. Nobody was expecting much different from a team as talented as Argentina is. Despite their piss-poor showing in Korea/Japan, they've got to remain in any coach's sights as an obstacle to climb.

Tomorrow brings Serbia & Montenegro vs Holland, Mexico vs Iran, and Angola vs Portugal.

I'm going to try my hand at predicting these games. I'll probably be 100% wrong, so make no bets based on my dodgy advice. I'm predicting Holland, Mexico and Portugal to win.

We'll see if I'm right this time tomorrow.

Edit: This is what working on a Sunday does to you. USA plays Czech Republic tomorrow, not Tuesday.


Germany 2006 Day 1

Germany 4-2 Costa Rica and Poland 0-2 Ecuador. No real suprises in today's matches. Germany were as dominant as expected, and the scoreline would have been 4-1 had the referee been awake enough to spot the offside.

Tomorrow brings England vs Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago vs Sweden, and Argentina vs Ivory Coast.

Let's see if Group C can pull a repeat of Korea/Japan 2002 and boot Argentina out in the first round, and we'll see how Theo Walcott (who is the youngest player in the tournament) survives his baptism of fire.

And, yes, I keep hearing this. 2006 is the 40th anniversary of the last time England won the World Cup. Time will tell if the date is significant.

Friday Rodent Blogging

I thought that this week, for a change, I'd reach back into hallowed antiquity and post the equivalent of a baby picture. This is, of course, Selene. Pre-colour change, looking cuter than a kitten in a boot.


Diet Coke and Mentos - The Next Generation

This is amazing. I'm sure most will have heard of what happens when you dump Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke. Nope? Watch the movie and find out. Then, keep watching to see what happens when mad people get an idea and run with it.

Oh, and don't try the experiment in your stomach. You may think you'd get the world's hugest belch. You'd be wrong.

Hat tips: Videos courtesy of Eepybird.com via Moonmint at AP.

Edit: I found that having the video embedded was causing this site to undergo impressive slowdown for some people, so I removed it. You can watch the video by clicking here.


The Omen

I hate so-called "reimagination" movies. Hate them. Loathe them. If there's a classic movie, beloved by millions, nothing good can come from some idiot being arrogant enough to believe they can improve on it with a "reimagined" storyline. See exhibit A: the 2001 remake of Planet Of The Apes for details.

Which is why I approached The Omen with some trepidation. Would it, I wondered, be a faithful reproduction of the original? Or would it be some pillock's "reimagined" version of the movie that should never have left the studio?

I'm pleased to say it was the former. There are some changes, certain scenes get a slight twist, and, of course, the special effects - rare though they are - are updated. But it's an almost 100% faithful update to the classic horror movie. The changes are forgivable because all they do is bring the movie in line with current events.

Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick manages the seemingly unassailable task of being even more creepy than the original Damien, Pete Postlethwaite is, as ever, outstanding, Leiv Schreiber steps into Gregory Peck's shoes with a convincing performance as Robert, and Julia Stiles very nearly outshines them all as Katherine.

Worth watching.

Doombreed rating: ****

The fight to keep flying the flag

This is so typically bloody English.

When the Ivory Coast qualified for the World Cup, both sides of that country's bloody civil war declared a truce in celebration. A civil war in Nigeria was put on hold so that people could watch the legendary Pele play. In Nazi-occupied Ukraine, FC Start refused to give the occupiers an easy propaganda match and made martyrs of themselves by whopping their oppressors 5-3.

The English wring our hands and worry about whether flying our flag is appropriate.

Okay, for those wondering:

Yes, it is bloody appropriate.

This is the World Cup. The most watched sporting event in the world, ever, anywhere, at any time. To even qualify is a victory. To do so consistently, tournament after tournament, is a triumph.

Fly your flag with pride.


Prayer vigil targets Devil's Day

Prayer vigil targets Devil's Day:

"Dutch evangelical Christians are to hold a round-the-clock prayer vigil to ward off the forces of evil on Tuesday - the so-called Devil's Day.

They believe that the sixth day of the sixth month of 2006 has great significance for evil-doers and Satanists who revere the number 666.

In a bid to counteract the forces of evil, more than 2,000 Dutch Christians will hold 'a violent day of worship'.

They will be joined by Christians in 23 other countries, organisers say.

The reference to 666 is taken from the Biblical book of Revelation, which talks about the events leading to the end of the world."

It's sad, very sad, that tomorrow's date is causing such knicker-twisting amongst the faithful.

Yes, as well as being the National Day Of Slayer, tomorrow is 6th June 2006 - 6/6/06 - which, if one ignores that inconvenient zero, can be rendered as 666.

Based, of course, on the insane ramblings of one alleged "John of Patmos" (not John the Baptist nor John Whose Name Was Arbitrarily Added To One Of The Gospels Because The Author Never Names Himself), 666 is the "the number of the beast", although John never rambles coherently enough to explain exactly what the number means, why the beast has it, and why it would take "him who hath understanding" to "reckon the number of the beast" when John then goes and names the number.

Anyway, I wonder how this dire number was received on dates that actually do meet without the numerical blindspot. Like 6 June 6AD. Actually 6/6/6.

How about the entire month of June in 66AD? 6/66? Surely people were running screaming at the apparent end of the world?

Well, no. See, the book wasn't even written in 66AD, let alone sixty years earlier.

So, two dates that were far more "prophetic" with respect to the number 666 went past without incident because the prophecy wasn't around then.

What about the year 666 AD?

Well, nobody alive in the year 666AD called the year 666AD, because the Gregorian Calendar (which dates the alleged birth of Jesus as 0, and everything before or after as BC and AD respectively) wasn't adopted until nearly a thousand years later.

Okay, so now three far more prophetic dates have slipped by.

Also remember that this year is 5766 in the Hebrew calendar, 1455 in the Armenian calendar, 1384 in the Iranian Calendar, 1427 in the Islamic calendar, 2256 in the Runic calendar, 2061, 1928 and 5107 in the various Hindu calendars, and Heisei 18 in the Japanese calendar.

One wonders what kind of person could possibly see any kind of significance in an entirely arbitrary dating system which happens to share a few digits with the ramblings of such a disjointed book of prophecy.

Seriously, have you read it?

Oh, and then figure that real Satanists don't give a single ounce of credence to The Bible, biblical prophecies, or the figure 666, and tomorrow is better spent just playing Slayer records. Or going to see The Omen.

Oh, and early versions of The Bible render the number of the beast as 616.

Now, what happened on January 6th this year?

(or, for American readers, what happened four days ago?)

Anyone see any daemons?

I did, but that's only because I have a model of one sitting not four feet away.

Happy June 6th, everybody.

If you must mark it, remember it's National Yo-Yo day here in the USA.

Ohhh.. that's ironic..

Mortal Peep Fight!!!

This is the definition of "too much time on your hands"

Hat tip to Captnmorgan over at AP


The Breakup

Well, The Breakup started well. Very well. The opening thirty minutes or so were hilarious. And then it degenerated into a long, painful tirade against men in general.

Every problem in the relationship is Gary's (Vince Vaughn) fault. Brooke (Jennnfier Aniston) is the poor, put-upon innocent bravely battling against typical male chauvinism, laziness, slobbiness, and just plain, annoying maleness.

The Breakup was just a condensed version of the whole Ross-Rachel painful breakup from Friends.

However, if nothing else, the movie does provide some advice on the stupidity of both parties getting advice from stupid friends about intricate plots to make the other jealous. Seriously, it never works.

A reasonable movie, with some really funny bits, but overall, not outstanding.

Doombreed rating: ***

A question, seemingly, as old as belief (or lack thereof)

It's time for another standard atheist rant. I guess most atheists have ranted on this subject, be it on blogs, on forums, in chatrooms or, often, in real life conversations. What I'm saying is that it's been done before, but I'm pissed at the world right now (for reasons I won't go into) so, I'm going to rant.

Atheism is not a religion.

I'm gonna repeat that:

Atheism is not a religion.

Seriously, I'm getting pissed off with hearing theists trying to equate atheism with religion.

The first step in addressing this is to explain exactly what atheism is, then I can get into discussing exactly what atheism is not.

Atheism comes from the Greek word "atheos", meaning "without gods".

And that, more or less, is it.

An atheist is simply a person who lives his or her life without gods.

It seems counter-intuitive, but Buddhism is an atheistic religion. It's not such a contradiction in terms when you realise that Buddhism is a religion without gods.

Atheism, as a concept, is also a privative. This means that it is a concept that only exists in order to express the lack or absense of something.

A great example, for those who are having problems with the idea, is hot and cold. Cold is simply defined as "the absence of heat", nothing more. We, as warm creatures, define cold as the privative.

Now, the very first time that a human on this planet decided that there was a god (or gods), he (or she) immediately made everyone else on the planet an atheist by default.

What's interesting is that the example of hot and cold is especially apt, because the ground state of the universe is pretty damn cold. In the same way, the ground state of a human being is to be atheist. Only once we've been exposed to concept of gods - indoctrinated, educated, converted, call it what you will - does a human become a theist or, if they reject the concept, remain an atheist.

And it cannot be stressed too much that that's it. That's the lot. There is nothing else that can be definitively said to link atheists together. Atheists come from all spots on the political and social spectrum.

Atheists are not linked by age, race, gender, educational level, marital status, income, height, weight, hair colour or anything else you might name.

I've met atheists who vote Republican and atheists who vote Democrat. I've known atheists who believe religion is a blight on mankind which should be wiped out and atheists who don't care what anyone believes as long as they're left alone. I've met atheists who celebrate at Christmas and those who absolutely refuse to allow any mention of Christmas in their houses.

Even the charge that is most often brought - that atheists all accept evolutionary theory - is not true. Buddhists are, as previously noted, atheists, too. Not to mention that I've had a surreal conversation with one atheist who firmly believes that human life was introduced to this planet by aliens.

Anyway, that is what atheism is. Now on to what it is not, and why it is not.

Atheism is not a religion. I've already mentioned that religions can be atheistic, but atheism is not, itself, a religion.

Ask anyone to name ten things that defines a religion and none of those things will apply to atheism, even if you twist their definitions. Faith, belief, commandments, worship, churches, temples, synagogues, priests, scriptures, prayers, holidays, ceremonies, sermons, none of these has anything to do with atheism. None of these even has a parallel in atheism.

And just as the definition of atheism does not fit into religion, the definition of religion does not fit into atheism, no matter how you try to turn either of them.

Even if we take a more esoteric approach to defining religion, such as defining it as something like "a worldview based upon one's beliefs" (which is one definition I've heard) or "a philosophy of life" (ditto, but c'mon, that's just bullshit), atheism does not fit in. Atheism is a lack of belief. And, even though I reject that second definition, atheism is also the lack of anything that could be defined as a philosophy.

Now, I'm going to head the next part off before it's even been pointed out.

Yes, some atheists choose to define themselves as believing that gods are not real. Some even refer to this as "positive" (because it revolves around a positive statement of belief - "I believe" - rather than a negative - "I don't believe") or "strong" (because it is active rather than reactive) atheism. There are those, who wish to be obnoxious, who refer to this as "real" atheism, because it's a - they say - "real" statement of belief that gods do not exist.

And, of course, anyone who wishes to believe such is free to do so, but it is not this belief that makes one an atheist. Many debates have raged over whether the "strong" or "positive" atheism needs a new name - "antitheism", perhaps - but the belief is irrelevant. Atheism is the lack of gods, no more, no less.

Atheism is not a religion.

And that, gentle reader, is how I will leave this, for now.


Friday Rodent Blogging

I caught Selene in this thoughtful pose earlier, gazing intently at the top of her wheel.

After checking to make sure there was nothing moving up there that could have caught her attention, I'm forced to conclude that some sort of escape attempt is being plotted.

Extra security has been brought in.


I love Technorati

Down there, towards the bottom of the page, lies a link to a site called "Technorati", which is a bloglist I'm a member of. I like to keep it around so I can see who is linking to me. Call it me being nosy, if you will - it's through them I found out that the inestimable Diamond Geezer had linked here.

So, clicking the "Blogs that link here" link a few minutes ago led me to their error page. Apparently, too much traffic had overloaded their servers and produced slight downage.

But no mere error message suffices. The Technorati error message reads:

The Flying Spaghetti Monster has arrived and we have all been taken to planet Zeus 94 to kneel before Zod. All this is a little much for us to handle at the moment so come back later please. And leave a quarter in the collection tray on your way out.

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

The Oozinator

From Jeffrey Rowland via August J. Pollak comes a hugely wierd toy from Hasbro.

It's called The Oozinator and is from their Super Soaker range. The toy gun shoots "globs of gooey bio-ooze", which sounds harmless. Until, that is, you see this commercial for the toy.

It even ends with the disclaimer "major pumping required".

Seriously, this is a joke, right? I mean, nobody at Hasbro thought to themselves "are we selling a toy gun or a bukkake simulator?"

And, yes, my apologies. That first line was a pun.


Ooooh.. bad timing..

Okay, if God really exists, he must hate US President George W. Bush.

Imagine. You're the President. Your approval rating just dipped below 30%. You're presiding over the worst war - and the most unpopular war - since Vietnam. Gas prices are rising. Jobs are leaving for other countries with less restrictive labour laws. The world thinks you are the greatest threat to world peace, period. And, as if that wasn't enough, about the only friend you have left on the international stage is a grinning twat like Tony Blair.

Oh, but even that's not enough.

You try, as is standard political procedure, to manufacture an issue to take the heat off. You pick on illegal immigrants. I mean, they're illegal immigrants, right? Who could possibly support them? And you send 6,000 US National Guard troops to help police the border. They're there to protect America, right? So, have them protect America.

And you go down to do an "I'm an ordinary guy who is as concerned about the future of this country as all you voters" interview somewhere along the US-Mexico border. People love that stuff. They just lap up that whole "ordinary joe" line.

And just as you're hitting your stride, this happens.

Fer cryin' out loud, Lord.. Gimme a break will ya?