Atheist World Non-Prayer Network

It's getting late, I'm tried, and so I decided to subject you to more juvenile humour.

This was originally posted on AP as a response to one of our members informing us that his mother was gravely ill. For those of us with a sense of humour, such topics are often phrased as requesting that we - the other atheist members - continue to avoid prayer as a means of helping the patient.

Some thought this response too flippant, too disrespectful, but the member at which it was aimed thought it was hilarious and, I hope, gave him a bright spot in an otherwise dark time.



Atheist World Non-Prayer Network

Welcome to the Atheist World Non-Prayer Network, where atheists around the world stand ready to not-pray for you and your every need.

We at the AWNPN will spring into action and immediately commence not-praying for anything you wish, and unlike our would-be rival, the Christian Rejoicing And Praying Network (CRAPnet), we won't judge you or your requests. We're just as happy not-praying for world peace as we are to not-pray that you find a clap-free whore to spend the night with. We'll not-pray for the Red Sox to win the World Series just has hard as we'll not-pray that those red spots around your penis go away.

So advanced is our service that we don't even have to tell our members what to not-pray for. That's right, unlike CRAPnet, who has to send out emails to their members - our network will instantly begin not-praying the moment you decide what you want.

Research even shows that our members are already not-praying for you and your needs. In fact, studies from several major universities show that AWNPN members even manage to not-pray for things you haven't thought of yet, for needs that have not yet arisen, and for things that you didn't even know you needed!

This is because atheists spend their time not-praying about everything. That's right, we will, and do, not-pray for absolutely everything in the world. Right now, atheists all over the world are not-praying for the victory of every sports team. We're not-praying for the health and wisdom of all politicians in every country around the world. We're not-praying for the success of every movie, every Broadway play, every book, TV show, scientific, business, educational, and - yes - even religious venture. But there's more. We're also not-praying for the failure of every single one of those things. And we're not-praying for their continued mediocrity!

The true power of AWNPN lies in our uninterruptable service. Our members are not-praying all day, every day. Our members are even not-praying whilst they sleep! CRAPnet cannot say that.

Sure, CRAPnet may have the numbers, but we're constant, full on, 24/7, not-praying just as hard as we can.

And here's where we go from brilliance to genius. It's not just our members that are not-praying for you. Scientific studies show that people who are dead also spend their entire time not-praying. That means that every single person that has ever lived is right now not-praying for you! And for everybody else!

And that's not all!

Reliable scientific evidence shows that people who have not yet been born spend each and every day not-praying.

Did I say CRAPnet has the numbers? Oh, we have the numbers. We have every person who has ever lived, and every person yet to be born, for now and forever more and each and every one of them is not-praying all day, every day!

And our service has a guaranteed 100% success rate! We at AWNPN have spent our lives not-praying for every single thing that happens every single day!

So come join us, and we'll not-pray for you!

In fact, we already are not-praying for you!


Useless invention

Because boiling an egg is sooooo hard.

BBC NEWS | UK | Hi-tech ink perfects egg boiling


It is a numeric life

Another blog found by the simple tactic called The Next Blog Boogie. It is a numeric life collects together simple statistics. Often funny, sometimes surprising, mostly useless, but pretty fun.

For example:

Did you know that smokers are four times more likely to go gray early than non smokers? That cancer has overtaken heart disease as the number 1 killer in the USA? That Sioux Falls SD is the safest city in the USA when it comes to driving? That women buy more books than men?

Now you do.

Hat Tip

Interesting perspective on Mel Gibson's drunk-driving arrest the other day:

"You remember Mel Gibson, the Christianist poster boy who made the two-hour snuff film that was so popular a few years back, prior to which he was most famous for baring his hard Catholic ass in every film he made up to that point?

This devout, conservative Christian, when stopped for driving drunk with an open bottle of tequila on the front seat of his car, went on a tirade of f-bombs and Anti-Semitic slurs, threatened the life of the cop who had stopped him, resisted arrest and tried to run away on foot from the scene, and yelled 'Sweet tits' to a female officer. Classy, really classy. Then, the sheriff ordered the officer to take all of that out of his report -- and he still has a job."

Read the full article here.

Bleeding heart ends tradition

Sad. The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) was been raising money in Dorset by playing a giant game of skittles involving humans as targets and a dead conger eel to knock them down.

But - of course - some fool complains and now it stops:

Can it really be disrespectful to swing a dead 20lb fish at a group of men to raise money for lifeboats?

Somebody in Lyme Regis, Dorset, thought so and their complaint has now put an end to the 40-year tradition of 'conger cuddling' in the town.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has deemed that using a dead conger eel to try to knock down some of its members is 'inappropriate'.

Roger Fox, who introduce the game, has the best perspective:

Mr Fox said: 'I cannot see how it can be cruel to a fish that has been dead for two months.
'The whole argument is pointless.

'If it were a salmon bought from a supermarket would there be any complaints?

'The public loved it for 40 years and everyone has a hilarious time.

'I think it's all absolute rubbish.'

Indeed, Mr Fox. Indeed.


Friday Rodent Blogging

Selene is finally developing the gerbil laser eye. Beware.


Supernova Sue 'Rock Star: Supernova' Producers, Bandmembers

Speaking of Rock Star: Supernova, how many had heard that they're being sued by a band called - you guessed it - Supernova, who have been around since 1989 and have released several albums under the name?


MTV News - Supernova Sue 'Rock Star: Supernova' Producers, Bandmembers: "Nine days before the July 5 broadcast premiere of Mark Burnett's 'Rock Star: Supernova' on CBS, the three members of Orange County, California, punk trio Supernova — who formed back in 1989 and released four albums, including 2000's Pop as a Weapon — filed a lawsuit against the show's producers, charging trademark infringement.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Diego, names Mark Burnett Productions, Rockstar Entertainment Inc. and CBS Broadcasting as defendants, along with Tommy Lee, Jason Newsted and Gilby Clarke — the three future members of the group this season's 'Rock Star' is supposed to spawn and endow with a lead singer. After someone's chosen to front the band, the foursome will eventually record and release fresh material before touring the nation, all under the Supernova moniker "


Watching Rock Star: Supernova (warning: supremely annoying, hugely graphics-intensive intro page) today reminded me of a single I have in my collection from another virtually unknown group called Phema. They are a rock band from Milton Keynes, a city I used to live near.

The CD is called Blindside, and features the songs Blindside, Nearly Died Twice, and Addict.

The band is awesome, Blindside is easily one of the best songs I've heard in a long time.

By going to their website you can listen to their latest work, including The Answer, a very impressive piece.

If you're anywhere near Milton Keynes and you're into rock, give these guys a look.


More bloggy goodness

More AP member's blogs:

Damaged Goods is Vagrant's blog, and Azuredrake has a myspace blog. MrsMaintenance blogs about homeschooling, and CaptnMorgan gets his comedy thang on.

There. No excuses for having nothing to read, now.


Workers unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

I would, being experienced in such matters, like to preface this entry with the following disclaimer:

I have no interest in changing CWA's constitutional preamble, even if I could, nor would I support any effort by others to do so, beyond simply agreeing with it. This entry is simply meant as another Englishman's mad perspective on America.

The perspective is this:

Americans, by and large, seem to have this need to publicly wave their religion and their religious convictions at every opportunity, even when it is unnecessary and illogical, not to mention contradictory, to do so, as this example illustrates:

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is a union that represents people in America's communications industries, from 411 and 911 operators to cable layers, from ISPs to television. They are one of America's largest unions, with over 700,000 members nationwide.

As is usual for unions the world over, they have a manifesto, it's just that over here they call it a constitution.

The constitution comprises a statement of intent (the preamble) followed by the union's rules and organisational regulations.

The preamble reads:

"We, the Communications Workers of America, believing that as an integral part of society we are entitled to an equitable share in the products of our labor and realizing that our welfare can best be protected and advanced through the united efforts of all workers, do, through this Constitution, under God, seek to form a more perfect means of securing for ourselves and labor generally full enjoyment of the inherent rights and dignities which our institutions were ordained to preserve."

Astute readers will already see what caused this entry.

But I want to deal with this in two parts.

The first is the syntax. Apart from the fact that many probably had to read that last part again and again in an attempt to glean some sense from it (it seems that there really should be a comma after the word "generally", and the word "labor" seems to refer to workers, not working. Make sense now?), the "under God" bit seems out of place, at best.

This is a simple literary criticism. It's almost as if the preamble were finished, ready to go to print, and someone suddenly decided that The Big Guy had to be in there somewhere, and shoehorned the phrase in wherever it would fit. I'm an atheist, and I could write that piece with far more fluidity.

On to the second criticism. A union is supposed to be workers working together for a better workplace. Even the name - union - implies unity, togetherness, working as one.

So why include a phrase which is so exclusive and divisive?

Admittedly, on pure probability, the vast majority of CWA's members do believe in God*, but unions are supposed to represent all of their members, not just some, even if those some are in the overwhelming majority.

And it seems silly. Why bother putting your religion on the union's face anyway? I've checked out quite a few British unions and there seems to be an absence of the desire to proclaim the union as somehow religious.

But it's not just the CWA. The IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) declares "We will support our God, our Nations, our Union" in the preamble to their constitution.

It's not all the same, though. Take a look at how the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) does it:

We resolve to fulfill the yearning of the human spirit for liberty, justice and community; to advance individual and associational freedom; to vanquish ­oppression, privation and cruelty in all their forms; and to join with all persons, of whatever nationality or faith, who cherish the cause of democracy and the call of solidarity, to grace the planet with these achievements.

"Whatever nationality or faith"?

I like that. THAT'S unity.

*I don't think it can be stressed often enough that the term "God" is inclusive only of Christians. The Moslem god is called Allah, the Jewish god is Yaweh, Hindu gods have many names, Buddhists don't believe in a diety at all, and neither do many other religions. People try to blur the distinction between God and "a god", but it is extremely disingenuous to do so.


A quick mention today for EvolutionBlog, a great blog I discovered by hitting the "next blog" link in the top corner a few times. It's always worth surfing through the blogs by doing this. You never know what you'll find.


The Culture Of Life

I was engaged in some deep thought whilst at work today and the end result is this little pondering.

Why is it that we have such a "culture of life" in our society?

Let me throw out some examples:

There's a series of popular phrases that show a preference for life over death, such as "any day above ground is a good day" or "any landing you can walk away from is a good one".

We talk about dying for your country as the "ultimate sacrifice" and we consider the death penalty the ultimate punishment.

We spend billions per year staving off death, with doctors and medicines. Our average life expectancy has doubled not just due to medical science, but also thanks to our willingness to use it.

We consider it an achievement to be old. People express awe at meeting those who've passed the century mark. In England, you get a telegram from the Queen on your 100th birthday, and every birthday thereafter.

We've made the killing of a human being, under almost any, every, and all circumstances a crime.

We refuse to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide, even though we regularly euthanise animals to save them pain. But no matter how intense the pain, no matter how debilitating the disease, no matter how horrific the suffering, humans must be kept alive.

And yet, we are told, 90-odd percent of the population believes in an afterlife. So why should death be something to be feared for those people?

I get it for atheists. Death is it. The big one. The end to end all ends.

But for those who believe in the afterlife, in divine judgment, in heaven, hell or whatever, a logical person would think that death would be welcomed.

Why is it deemed so great a sacrifice to die in combat? What do you really sacrifice anyway? This life means nothing compared to getting to the afterlife, right? And death as a punishment? Surely keeping a person alive for as long as possible would be greater punishment?

Why do we spend so much money - the elderly disproportionately moreso - staving off our audience with God? Surely it would make more sense to forget the medication and let nature - or God's will - take its course.

Why do we take so much pride in getting old? As Bones said in Star Trek: The Next Generation - Encounter At Farpoint: "what's so great about not having died?"

Why do we insist on keeping people alive for so long? Machines, drugs, surgery, all to prolong a life that's pointless, when the patient could be enjoying the harp music.

Why is it, if so many people believe that the Big Guy In The Sky awaits us at the end of our lives, that we spend so much time, effort and money in delaying that meeting?

I'm not talking about committing suicide to get there early, I'm talking about the senselessness of putting off the inevitable.

For an atheist, yeah. You have one life, so you might want it to be as long as possible (although, most atheists I've known prefer quality over quantity), but for theists, this life is only a precursor to the next. Why delay?

Survival instinct is hard-wired into us. We evolved that way. Had our ancestors not possessed the will to survive, they wouldn't have made it far. So those that didn't care about survival fell by the wayside, and only those that fought tooth and nail to make it to the end of another day lived and thrived. The same can be said for grief. Grief is the expression of an evolved sense that our group - our tribe, pack, herd, whatever - is lessened by the passing of this individual.

But, of course, most of the theists don't agree with evolution, so that answer's out.

Can it possibly be, for example, a Christian's duty to extend the life of a person, even to the point of causing constant, extreme pain and suffering? Aren't Christians commanded to be merciful?

Of all theists, I'd think that Christians would be most eager to meet their God, not put it off as long as possible.

And, when we die, why the crying? Why aren't Christian funerals joyous, glorious events? Why don't people express their envy for the departed, now relaxing in eternal heavenly bliss? I mean, the dude's in heaven, right? Why are you crying? Why are you sad? I know that some cultures try to celebrate at the funeral, but it's almost always buried in the avalanche of grief. When Pope John Paul II died, billions across the world grieved. Why aren't you partying? I mean, if anyone got in, he did, right?

Again, for the atheist, I get it. The person is gone, forever. You'll never talk with them again, never hug them, kiss them, share a joke with them. For the atheist, a funeral really is a time for grief.

But for the theist?

Don't get me wrong, I do believe in the use of medical science in extending lives. I believe that as long as a person wants to go on, they must be afforded every chance to do so.

But why do theists believe that? And why do they believe in the opposite? That people, even if they decide they don't want to go on, must be made to no matter what?

Is it because, deep down, in some dark, hidden corner, they suspect that there is no meeting set up, no appointment to keep? Or is it just that they're worried they might not like the result of that appointment?

Perhaps their faith just isn't as strong as they pretend it is.


Friday Rodent Blogging

Her Majesty is out of bed and is awaiting the Royal pumpkin seed bearer.


New Kid On The Blog

Stuffedstich, he of the Shorn Buttok fame (it's an AP insider joke), has started his own blog, called Shadow Blog.

Go check it out.


You, Me and Dupree

You, Me and Dupree is the story of newlyweds Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) who find themselves burdened with an inconsiderate roommate in the form of Carl's best friend Dupree (Owen Wilson).

Dupree disrupts their ordered life, destroys everything he touches and basically behaves like a single guy without a care in the world. Dupree is the kind of guy everyone knows. If you're a guy and you don't know a Dupree, you're the Dupree. He never grew up, never settled, never stopped partying. Dupree's the kind of guy your wife would rather you didn't hang out with, didn't invite to the wedding, wouldn't invite to birthday parties. But he's also the guy who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it, the guy that's always there to pick you up and make sure you get home safe, even if it is at 9am the next morning.

Thus, the first half of the movie looked like it was shaping up into an "all men are pigs" rant a la The Breakup. Dupree laments that his friend has gone from wildchild to boring married guy, and Carl tries to recapture some of his lost party spirit, which leads to much eyerolling and condescension. Men never grow up. Men can't take commitment seriously.

However, it does develop into a pretty deep movie, where Dupree helps Carl get back with his wife, get back at his domineering, overbearing, emasculating father-in-law and boss, Mr Thompson (Michael Douglas), and get back his essential Carlness.

Some genuinely hilarious dialogue, some truly side-splitting scenes, and, on the whole, the movie is pretty good.

You do get to see Owen Wilson's arse, though.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Doombreed rating: ****

Family Guy goes to Harvard

Freakin' hilarious. Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane gave the graduation address at Harvard. First, talking as himself, then going into Peter, then Stewie, then finishing up as Quagmire.


Mall Of The Dead

At the suggestion of Mrs Doombreed, who read yesterday's entry and remembered a comment I made a few years ago, here is part two of Old People Doing Things That Are Weird (or, at least, Weird To Me).

Here in America there's a phenomenon that weirds me out. Mall walking. That's what I call it, anyway.

Old people, for the purposes of social interaction and exercise, descend on indoor shopping malls early in the morning and walk around the perimeter.

If you think about it, it's a great idea. It's gentle exercise, in a pleasant, safe, well-lit, air-conditioned location, close to toilets and first aid, should either be necessary. It's brilliant.

Unless you've never seen it before and you stumble upon this phenomenon and, half asleep, behold what looks like a mall full of dead bodies lurching around.

One can be forgiven for thinking that one has wandered into a remake of George A. Romano's Dawn Of The Dead.

Old People In McDonalds

This is one of those things that just really weirds me out about America. Old people in McDonalds.

In England, you never see anyone over, say, 35 in a burger joint unless they have kids or grandkids with them, but over here they have, not to put too fine a point on it, old people in McDonalds.

In the USA, the burger joint has been part of the culture since the fifties, so many people who grew up with this have now become, in a manner of speaking, old people in McDonalds.

It's no more unusual than, say, going into a chip shop in England and meeting old people there, but still, y'know, it weirds me out.

Old people.

In McDonalds.

Culture shock: it's not just for bumpkins in cities any more.


What a world

The latest round of scrapping between Israel and the Palestinians has brought some things back into sharp perspective.

I guess anyone under 20 may not have much of a political recollection of the nineties. What's weird is that the nineties had us fooled.

A friend of mine is fond of describing the sixties as a "decade of hope", and I think of the nineties in a similar way.

Strictly speaking, the Berlin Wall (believe me, it deserved the capital letter) didn't come down in the nineties, but 1989 was, for many, the start of this weird, almost hallucinogenic decade. The Berlin Wall had stood for nearly thirty years, dividing democratic West Berlin from communist East Berlin. Then, it was pulled down. People from both sides came together - ceasing to be East Germans and West Germans, starting to become simply Germans once again - to topple the edifice. Hands reached through holes torn in the wall, people separated for nearly three decades embraced, and a new era was born.

It became a little rocky when Iraq invaded Kuwait, but after the allies kicked him back home - and after he brutally repressed the George H W Bush-inspired rebellion - Saddam Hussein almost faded into the background. He'd pop out for a speech or two, dedicate a new statue (usually of himself), make some disparaging remarks about the west, and go back to his palace.

This tailing-off was happening all over the world. The Protestants and the Catholics started talking and, along with providing Clinton some nice photo-ops, talking led to doing. The guns, as the old saying goes, fell silent. Northern Ireland knew weeks without sectarian violence. Weeks stretched into months, then into years.

The Palestinians and the Israelis started talking. And talking there, too, led to doing. So important was the peace talks that, in 1994, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts towards reconciliation.

Nelson Mandela made it out of jail, stood in South Africa's first free elections, and was made President.

Names like Colonel Gaddafi and Ayatolla Montazeri started to fade from our televisions.

The Soviet Union collapsed. Yes, for those who remember the cold war, this was the one. The Soviet Union collapsed! We woke up one morning and it was over! The Great Enemy was gone. The threat of nuclear annihilation was wafting away like a bad smell.

Peace was breaking out all over the world. In a century which had seen - maybe - four or five days without some form of war happening somewhere, this unexpected quiet was a little worrying, but welcome. We began, cautiously, to breathe out.

Decades of living under the shadow of world-wide nuclear destruction, of turning on the news every day to images of violence all over the globe, of wondering if we were going to make it to the end of the day, let alone the end of the millennium, were starting to seem behind us.

It almost looked like we might be headed towards that Utopia promised by Star Trek.

And it wasn't just war. Disease was being tackled. Illiteracy rates were down. Crime in a lot of countries was heading downwards. Abortion rates in the USA and the UK were dropping. The internet was opening up the planet. We were shaking hands with people on the other side of the world on a regular basis. We started working together to end environmental problems like the hole in the ozone layer and global warming.

And then the other shoe dropped. Hard.

Now, Iraq is a hell-hole for Iraqis.

Now, the Protestants and the Catholics are at it again.

Now, the Israelis and the Palestinians are killing each other for who-the-hell-knows why.

Now, racist-inspired violence in South Africa is as bad as it ever was, it's just that whites are the target now.

Now, all of the former Soviet Union's nukes are in the hands of ex-Soviet states, under the command of whoever had the full clip this week. And hardliners are taking control of the Russian government, leaving Putin as just about the only moderate in the country. They're even talking about restarting their nuke programmes. Kim Jong-Il has nukes (he's had them for a while, it's true, but now he has the delivery method).

Peace is now a scarce commodity.

The nineties fooled us.

We hate the nineties.

Once again we're back to the eighties. Every news item is war, famine, death, recession, destruction, terrorism, corruption.

Wake me up in 2010. Maybe the next decade will be better.


Friday Rodent Blogging

Here is a picture of the wierd x-shaped mark that has appeared in the fur of Selene's forehead. Clearly, all the prophecies were wrong. It's not the mark of the beast, it's the mark on the beast that we need to worry about.


Blair: 'ID cards will go ahead'

Looks like it's only a matter of time before ID cards are to be issued to everyone in the UK.

Let's be clear, here. That's ID cards as in "thing that people in free countries do not have because they don't live in dictatorships".

What's worse is that, like so many similar harebrained schemes, this one is going ahead despite being horrifically flawed. Which means that UK taxpayers are going to have to pay for the cards, the mechanism to put them in place, the police to stop and demand to see them, and to fix everything that's wrong with a scheme most don't want to go ahead in the first place.

And my countrymen voted that grinning twat Tony Blair back into power.

Just look at this section from the Beeb's Q&A:

"During WWII the ID card was seen as a way of protecting the nation from Nazi spies. But in 1952, Winston Churchill's government crapped the cards. The feeling was that in peacetime they simply were not needed. In fact they were thought to be hindering the work of the police, because so many people resented being asked to produce a card to prove their identity."



Oh, fer cryin' out loud..

Sir Clive's at it again.

BBC: I'm sorry but no regrets - Zidane

Zidane has apologised for the headbutt incident that resulted in his red card against Italy in the World Cup final but says he doesn't regret what happened.

And I, for one, am on his side, despite calling him an "arsehole" before.

Zidane says he can't say he regrets doing it because that would mean that Marco Materazzi - the player butted - was right to say what he said.

But what did he say?

Sources using Italian speaking lip-readers are split. Some say that Materazzi called Zidane - son of Algerian immigrants - "the son of a terrorist whore". Others claim Materazzi wished "an ugly death" to Zidane and his family and then said "go fuck yourself".

Materazzi, for his part, claims he said neither, but does admit he threw an insult.

I don't much like Zidane. He's arrogant - though extremely skilled. But I do agree with him on this. Whatever the provocation, it must have been massive to provoke a seasoned veteran of the game into that kind of rash action in so important a match.


Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Like most sequels, of course, your enjoyment of Pirates Of The Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest will depend upon your opinion of the first movie.

I loved the first movie, so I loved the sequel.

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is once again captain of The Black Pearl, but how he originally became captain is central to the plot. In exchange for the captaincy, Sparrow pledged a century's bondage aboard Davy Jones' (Bill Nighy) legendary ship, The Flying Dutchman.

The deal was for 13 years. Time's up and Davy Jones wants his price.

Meanwhile, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) have been arrested and sentenced to death by slimey limey Lord Beckett (Tom Hollander) for their part in helping Jack escape (see the first movie). Beckett offers Turner a deal. Contact Sparrow and give him a pardon in exchange for the compass he carries (the one that points to the thing you most want in the world) and he and Swan go free. Of course, this is an American movie, and Beckett is English, so you just know he's not going to keep his word.

And Turner might just reconcile with his father (Stellan Skaarsgard) along the way.

Some overused plot devices appear (like: natives mistake white man for god, white man mistake natives for friendly non-cannibals type of thing) but generally it's a rollicking, rolling, epic adventure with knock-out special effects, funny dialogue, excellent supporting cast (Mackenzie Cook from the UK version of The Office is especially hilarious in reprising his role as the wooden-eyed Ragetti).

One word of warning, though. The makers are pulling a Matrix with this. The first movie is a self-contained, finished movie, but the sequel is split over two movies.

Pirates Of The Caribbean III will be a few months, yet (they're still filming it), so don't expect closure. The movie ends with a "to be continued" at what is probably the most suspenseful point.

But, like Matrix, I didn't mind - as long as Pirates Of The Caribbean III doesn't get all frikkin' preachy with us.

I'm looking forward to the third installment - Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End - whenever it's released.

Doombreed Rating: ****1/2

EDIT: It's called The Flying Dutchman, not The Flying Scotsman. Which is a train, not a ship.


one red paperclip: update

Some time ago, I mentioned one red paperclip, a site about a Canadian gent who was trying to trade a single paperclip for a house.

Well, it's done. He's managed it. This is truly incredible. Kyle MacDonald has traded from a paperclip up to a house.

Congrats, Kyle.


Germany 2006 Day 25

It seemed only apprpriate that this World Cup final went to a penalty shootout.

I didn't care much about who won - except for a slight sneaking lean towards Italy after that arsehole Zidane was sent off - but I was pleased with the result. Hard-fought, evenly matched, everything that a World Cup final should be.

Italy won, their fourth cup, another star for the shirt.

I'm typing this whilst watching the presentations. France are currently being given their second-place medals, which has to be the most bitter-sweet moment, ever. I'd bet that there's not one French player who is taking any solace in getting second, being in the final. I'll bet that all of them are looking at the trophy they didn't win, and thinking about what might have been.

Congratulations to Italy and commiserations to France.

More amusement from American pronunciation was engendered by the was "Zidane" sounds in the mouth of the commentators. It's eerily close to "Saddam" which is, some might know, the way that both the American media and politicians refer to deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. So, apparently, Saddam had been granted parole from his trial in order to play for the French team, serve as captain, and, indeed, get sent off for that head-butt.

And FIFA screwed up again with the presentation. After all these years, you'd think they'd understand that the winners of the Jules Rimet trophy want to climb on something to lift it. In Japan/Korea 2002, the Brazilians were reduced to a rickety podium that almost spilled the captain and the trophy several times. Here, the Italian captain had to climb on to a table clearly not designed to hold his weight and he, too, almost took a header.

How about, next time, we have some sort of dedicated steps to climb to lift the trophy for the crowd, hmm?

And on to South Africa 2010.

But first: Euro 2008!

THAT flag - the plot thickens

Football365 has made an offer - all their Germany 2006 assorted crap to the person who is responsible for the minge flag. All they must do is send in a snap of themselves with the item in question.

But in a new development, a reader informs F365 that the Minge on the flag may well be the nickname of a friend who is, predictably, ginger*, because the flag also contains the nickname of a mutual friend, Johnny T.

Whilst you're on F365, don't miss their selection of tshirts, including the awesome "I'm English, therefore I drink, swear and queue" and the equally awesome "England: Powered by chips and beer".

*for Americans, and other people who do not understand British humour, including many Brits, the word "minge" is a slang term referring to the female sexual organs. However, a person who is ginger-haired and of the complexion that makes one think that the carpet matches the curtains, so to speak, may often be referred to as "ginge minge", whether male or female.

Germany 2006 Day 24

Just one match left, and then all those World Cup Widows around the globe can get their significant others back for another four years.

Today saw Germany beat Portugal 3-1, which came as a surprise to absolutely nobody.

Tomorrow brings the final, and I've said all I'm going to say before the match.



I've noticed people finding my blog by way of searching for "minge flag" on various engines. Yes, I saw the minge flag. I saw it during the game and even snapped a very bad picture of it. Now, because I've searched and cannot find any better picture of it, here it is. This is the moment in the England vs Portugal game where Neville goes to take a throw in, and there, in all its glory, is the item in question. Enjoy.

Friday Rodent Blogging

Selene playing hide and seek behind her water bottle. Pretend you can't see her.

Jehova's Witnesses Gone Wild

Incredibly funny video from YouTube.

Hat tip to Mathyoo at AP.


Germany 2006 Day 23

Well, with Portugal out, it's an Italy vs France final in Berlin.

What a World Cup this has been, a rollercoaster of emotions. We were delighted when Ghana made it out of their group. Thrilled that first-timers Ukraine got all the way to the quarter-finals. Stunned beyond words when Brazil tumbled out. Depressed by England falling - yet again - to penalties. Saddened by Germany's exit. And completely indifferent to the prospect of Italy facing France in the final.

I just .. don't care.

Any other potential matchup from the quarter-finals on up, and I'd have picked a team to get behind. Any other teams in the final and I'd have moved mountains to watch. Yeah, I'll still watch, it's still the World Cup final, but I'm actually more interested to see Portugal get a crack at the hosts on the 8th in the third-place match.

I guess there's some pride that 6 out of the final 8 were European, and all of the final four were, too, but Italy vs France is, for me, like trying to decide between fried or boiled eggs. I don't eggs, so the method of preparation is meaningless. I don't like Italy or France. Why should I care which one wins?

I guess the major problem is that neither side is the clear underdog, and I do so love to pull for the underdog. And, failing the underdog, I like to pull for the team which is less smarmy, less arrogant. But they're both smarmy. I see nothing to justify one over the other.

I guess I'm going to predict Italy.

And Germany over Portugal.

And a mildly entertaining, if anticlimactic, final.

BTW, check out England's big achievement for this World Cup: The only team to feature on the top ten tallest and shortest players.

We rock.

Edit: It's Portugal who are out. Poland too, but that's not news to anyone.


Germany 2006 Day 22

Well, the hosts are out. Tense game, very tense indeed. It looked like it was all about to go Germany's way. Extra time was slipping away and it was still scoreless, so a penalty shootout was looming. Germany, it should be noted, haven't lost a penalty shootout since 1468 or something like that.

But it was not to be. Grosso hit one home (and German number 22, whatever your name is, you should have been on the line backing up the goalie, shouldn't you?). Germany went all out. They had scant minutes to hit an equaliser. Unfortunately, such a desperate rush leaves the goal lightly defended and, astoundingly, Del Piero made a fantastic run up the field and slotted one home with almost pinpoint accuracy.

The mighty Germans went down to the floor, completely stunned, beaten on their home turf in a game they should have really had in the bag.

Full kudos to both sides. A beautiful example of football at its finest. No red cards and only three yellows.

Some humour was engendered from the American commentator's pronunciation of Michael Ballack's surname. See, just like "mall" (in England - "maul", in USA - "maal"), this announcer was lengthening the "a" into something that sounded eerily like an "o". So this commentator kept announcing that Bollock had the ball. Quick pass by Bollock. Great shot by Bollock! Bollock on target that time!

Anyway, deserving win to Italy. Tomorrow brings Portugal vs France. And, loathe as I am to admit it, France has the edge. Portugal couldn't put the game away against a 10-man England squad. What chance have they against the team that slew the Brazilian dragon?


History repeating?

So, it appears that there's some trepidation concerning how the England fans will react to Rooney's red card which - it's believed the fans will think - cost us the game. Several team-mates have already come out in support of the Manchester United striker and outgoing manager Sven-Goran Eriksson faced the press and said "Pay attention, please", before stating "he is the golden boy of English football. Don't kill him, because you will need him."

Now, nobody thinks Rooney is facing death over this, but precedent suggests that he may die a million symbolic deaths over the next few months.

During England's ghastly exit from France '98 against Argentina, captain David Beckham was red carded for kicking an Argentinean player after a foul. His return home was less than welcomed. He was booed on his home field, burned and hanged in effigy, vilified by the press, and even received death threats.

Ultimately, though, this is a different story. Beckham was sent off for what most fans perceived as a pathetic breach of the rules. Rooney stomped on an opponent's genitals. Beckham went off whilst laying on the ground. Rooney was on his feet, fighting for the ball with all the skill and tenacity we expect from him.

Let's face it: Beckham's a big girl's blouse. Rooney's a striker on the England football team. Beckham's a pretty boy. Rooney would slot right into the '66 line-up and nobody would think him out of place.

And Rooney got sent off for doing exactly what he's paid to do.

No, I believe that the bulk of the reaction will be squarely behind Rooney.

Sure, some will bitch and moan. Some always do, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

But most, like those that gathered to welcome our boys home, will not forgive because there is nothing to forgive.

Wayne Rooney is an England striker in the classic mold, tough, tenacious, hard-hitting and strong.

If only the media could stop stirring things for a few minutes...

Germany 2006 Semi Finals

Tomorrow brings the first of the semi-finals, Germany vs Italy. These two titans of the beautiful game will match up in Dortmund.

Will Germany's clinical style outmatch the Italians famed passion?

I think so. I'm predicting Germany in the final, here.


Superman Returns

Superman Returns is a pretty self-explanatory title.

It's about Superman, and he is returning. To Metropolis. To Lois Lane. To our screens. Whatever he's returning to, you can be sure that returning is what he's doing.

But the film is a return, too. A return to how Supes was under the guidance of the late, great (and atheistic) Christopher Reeve. Compare and contrast, if you will, how Reeve managed to pull of bumbling, mild-mannered, uber-geek Clark Kent, whilst somehow managing to pull of handsome, rippling, suave Man Of Steel, with the way Dean Cain made a pretty good Superman, but was utterly shite at Kent.

Well, Brandon Routh almost performs the same Reevian miracle. Sure, his Kent isn't quite as good, and his Superman is a little less ... well ... super, but the job is better than Cain managed.

Combine this with Kevin Spacey out-Luthoring Gene Hackman (I'm serious), and the fact that the "message from Jor-El" actually is Marlon Brando - in scenes filmed for the original '78 release - and you've got a Superfan's dream.

But wait. The music. The titles. The way the opening credits "whoosh". They're all there! Mix these in and it's a Superfan's wet dream.

Alas - and you knew it wouldn't be all good news, right? - Kate Bosworth is no Margot Kidder. Nor is she Teri Hatcher.

Lois Lane is pretty much the only low point in the movie.

The effects are staggering. The story is great. The continuity with the previous films is near-flawless.

But the Jesus references got a little tiresome.

If it wasn't enough that Superman kept adopting the spread-armed pose (a la crucifixion) at every opportunity, we had him described by Lane as "a savior" and by Jor-El as "the light" which would guide humans in their path to be "a great people".

Still, it didn't kill the movie, it simply made for a few eye-rolling points.

Overall, a worthy addition to the Reeves set.

Doombreed rating: ****


Germany 2006 Day 21(ii)

Well, Brazil are out. Which makes this morning's result all the harder to swallow. Had we gone through, it would have been up against France instead.

I've calmed down and I've realised two things:

First, that there are plenty of reasons to be happy with England's performance this World Cup:

There are 208 teams eligible to compete in the FIFA World Cup. England ended up in the top 8. That's 200 teams who did worse.

England went out at the same stage as Brazil, current World Champions, the team that has won the World Cup more than anyone else, and the only team to have qualified for every World Cup since the first one.

England didn't score, but neither did Ronaldinho, the so-called "greatest player in the world".

Despite being a man down and with our captain out injured, England held Portugal, a team ranked 3 places higher in FIFA world ratings, to a goal-less regular and extra time.

The quarter-finals is our third best performance of all time, with only '90 (fourth place) and '66 (champions) better.

Not only that, but three times since we've been entering, we've failed to even qualify, so we did good.

Second, that all that doesn't matter. I'm still pissed.

Penalties. Why is it always bloody penalties? Euro '04 against Portugal. Euro 2000 against Germany. France '98 against Argentina. We suck at penalties.

Well, South Africa 2010 is a mere four years away. We'll have a new coach, probably a new captain. And we'll probably end up going out on a penalty shootout there, too.

2014 is provisionally scheduled to be held in Brazil.


Germany 2006 Day 21(i)

5 minutes in and no score, but I'm encouraged by a few hard shots and some reasonable playing, but discouraged by the fact that half of it is coming from Portugal.

It seems like every time England takes a shot, Portugal answers, and the fouls are coming thick and fast.

Robinson is shooting up in my estimation, twice now he's saved the scoreline. I'm more than a little surprised and pleased that England's showing some sparks in defence, unusual for us.

14th minute - If there ever was a time for England to show some razzle, this is it. We're pulling back and defending. Defending well, but simply defending nonetheless.

(And Ashley Cole's pink boots are freaking me out, Why are they pink?!)

16th minute - This is better, England. Pressure, attack, shots.

18th minute - And here comes Portugal right back atcha. Robinson had it covered, but that was some nice attacking.

20th minute - whoa.. I don't know how many more of these near misses I can take. Sooner of later one's got to go in.

28th minute - And Terry gets a yellow card?! WTF?! That was a 50/50 collision, why does Terry get the card?!

Terry has to sit out the next game - if we go through.

Halftime - Still scoreless, but it's looking like it may get all the more physical.

Note: I was at work whilst this game was playing, so we recorded it and now I'm watching it. What's annoying is that Mrs Doombreed knows the final score. I don't want to know, I want to watch the game, but she's giving me the smug "I know something you don't know" treatment.

On to the second half.

52nd minute - Bye bye Beckham. This is a terrible shame, no disrespect to Lennon. If this game remains scoreless and goes to penalties, Beckham's exit won't help us.

58th minute - Oh, I see, that was almost Argentinianesque playacting by Maniche. Wanker.

61st minute - Rooney gets a red card. FUCK! FUCK FUCK FUKKITY FUCK!

And Crouch is coming on.

Oh bollocks.

Stat alert - England are 9-0-1 when Crouch plays.

Oh, and if we win, Rooney's out for the game against Brazil or France.

Listening to the crowd around the 67th minute, you can tell that England's fans are in the majority. Every time a Portuguese player gets the ball, it's boos and jeers, and cheers for England's players.

Ronaldo is joining the Argentinian squad with his Oscar-worthy diving. Play the fucking game, people.

And now the Portuguese are bringing out a sub with pink boots. Nice.

Okay, I just spotted an England flag in the crowd with the word "MINGE" written on it in big letters. What's that all about?

Robinson and Ferdinand. Fuckin' A. These guys kept the Portuguese out. I get the impression that when he retires, Robinson is going to have his name spoken in the same breath as Banks, Clemence, Shilton and Seaman. [post-game edit: I still believe this, even with the penalty shootout result]

3 minutes of stoppage time and the attack's on. And on! We haven't seen England play like this the entire tournament.

Okay, regular time over. Now we're into extra time, and there's no Golden Goal here. It's 15 mins each way.

No matter how this goes, there's pride in fighting even when down. We're the underdogs, and we always were. And that's how we fight best. We're a man down and still Portugal couldn't score.

This is exactly what I mean about England not scoring first. The donkey's off the field and the lions are loose.


YOU FUCKER!!! I do NOT believe this!

Because of the extra time, my DVR STOPPED RECORDING!

So now I have to go to the Germany 2006 website for the final score.

And wouldn't you know it. England go out on sudden death penalties AGAIN.

Maybe in a few days I'll be able to approach this game pragmatically, but for now, I'm just drained and pissed off.

I'm going to bed.

Friday Rodent Blogging

Selene takes time out of her busy schedule - which currently revolves around destroying her crawl tube - to wave to all her fans.

Germany 2006 Day 20

So, Germany went through to the semi-finals, after a long, punishing game that went to extra time and then penalties.

I can't say I'm upset that Argentina's going home (yes, as someone who saw it live, I'm still annoyed about the "Hand Of God"), especially as it means Germany goes on. Somehow, a World Cup where the hosts go out too early just doesn't seem fun to me.

And Italy went through, at the expense of Ukraine, but nobody was surprised by that.

Two for two on yesterday's predictions.

England are up tomorrow.

Portugal, despite being minus two players, are more dangerous than they seem. Like the hosts, and unlike England, they've won every game of the tournament so far. Just because they're not Brazil or Germany, does not make for an easy match.

I'm biting the bullet and predicting England to win. Also Brazil, but you knew that.

France, however, could, in theory, produce the upset of the tournament and send the champions home.


Watch out. If the England - Portugal game goes to penalties, we're going home. We just have no luck with sudden-death penalty shootouts.