Monday, August 21, 2006


Brilliant post on CatBlog - Sunday thoughts
The problem is not Christianity.
The problem is Fundamentalism.

It doesn't matter what religious (or political, or philosophical) belief you hold - if you claim that your belief is The Only Truth and that all those who disagree are not just Wrong, but Evil... then you are part of the problem.

It doesn't matter if you are on the Right or the Left, if you are Christian, Moslem, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Scientific Materialist Atheist or something you made up for yourself... if your belief is True and all others False, then you are part of the problem.

If you can genuinely talk with those who believe differently to you and compare notes on the Universe - and actually listen to and learn from the points on which you differ - then you are not part of the problem.

If you are willing to change your beliefs on the basis of life experience or finding wisdom from the minds of others, then you are not part of the problem.

If you hold compassion for all people, regardless of how much they do not resemble you, you are not part of the problem.

Yes, that includes compassion for the Fundamentalists.

For all that their attitudes scare and horrify us, they are humans too - with the same potential for change and growth. It is hard to reach them through the armour of their hardened belief and their fear and hatred of the Different - but that should never stop us trying.

To see them as a single Enemy is to fall into the same trap they are in.
I couldn't have put it better. Hooray for the rainbow of possibilities and the multiplicity of truths!

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Just been to Amanda and Sandra's wedding, it was lovely. It was the first civil partnership ceremony we had been to, and we were thrilled to be invited. The tears started welling up at the beginning of the vows, and then when Amanda started, I really got going. I never cry at straight weddings, but I find same-sex ones very moving (mostly because it wasn't allowed till recently) - even the ones where I just saw some photos on the web brought tears to my eyes. The ceremony was very nice (it was the first one that the celebrant had done apparently) and the reception was lovely - the pub where they had it, the Blue Bowl, had really pushed the boat out, and it looked splendid. The food was fab too, and the cake was brilliant; it had a little icing model of Amanda and Sandra on top. Cute! And all the people at the wedding were really nice. Someone managed to get them a "Mrs & Mrs" card, and there was a love-spoon too (well, a wooden spoon with lavender ribbons on it).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

tall trees, warm fires

Fortunately my upbringing (despite the Exclusive Brethren trying to make it severely uncool) had a number of intimations of things to come:
  • my parents always had a Christmas tree; this was forbidden by the Brethren killjoys, on the grounds of it being Pagan, so my mum told me not to tell anyone at the meeting. I said "What's Pagan?" and my mum told me it was where in ancient times, people would go up to the top of hills and light bonfires to make sure the sun came back after the shortest day. I thought that sounded really great.
  • there's this bit in the Acts of the Apostles where the silversmiths get annoyed with Paul and start shouting "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" - I liked the sound of her too.
  • one day I asked my dad if animals had souls; he said they did, even though doctrine says not.
All of which reminds me of a rather nice Pagan chant:
Tall trees, warm fires
Strong winds, deep waters
I feel it in my body
I feel it in my soul
And another thing, there were legends about Aleister Crowley among the Peebs - deliciously scary tales for a dark winter's night....

woolly thinking

Excellent post from Joe about weapons of mass literature - after all books are so obviously a dangerous terrorist weapon.

My personal theory about why books have been included in the ban on hand-luggage being taken onto planes is either that the person who decided on the ban is a total idiot who doesn't read and doesn't think other people do; or that they are in the pay of the purveyors of headphones for the in-flight movie.

Either way, the fact that someone has come up with the nifty idea of printing literature onto scarves reminds me of the days of samizdat literature. Though of course, in the hands of a Thuggee extremist, a scarf was a dangerous weapon too...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.

Batman, the Dark Knight -- 83%
El Zorro -- 79%
Captain Jack Sparrow -- 79%
James Bond, Agent 007 -- 79%
Neo, the "One" -- 79%
Lara Croft -- 71%
Maximus -- 71%
Indiana Jones -- 67%
William Wallace -- 67%
The Amazing Spider-Man -- 63%

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

Hmm, I'd rather be Zorro, but Batman is OK.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Don't be fooled by the cranky exterior of the Exclusive Brethren. They're the religious equivalent of Vogons.

I know because I was brought up in them till the age of 9. For those who don't know me, no, this does not make me sad and repressed. (Aleister Crowley was brought up in the Exclusive Brethren also - it's why he was so vehemently anti-Christian and outrageously hedonistic).

The Exclusive Brethren prevent their members from watching TV, listening to the radio, using mobile phones and computers, using contraception, eating with non-believers (this includes other Christians), going to pubs, having pets, and talking to members of their family who have been thrown out for committing any of these offences. They make their women wear headscarves and don't allow them to cut their hair (you can spot them very easily, they're the exhausted-looking ones with the bovine expressions and umpteen kids in tow). And the Gods help you if you were discovered to be gay. Two women who lived together (dunno if they were lesbians or not) were excluded on suspicion of being lesbians. Pets were banned sometime in the mid-sixties; this resulted in a number of people gassing their budgies (this was still the time when gas ovens used coal gas).

As a result of the behaviour of this delightful organisation, I didn't see either of my sets of grandparents for the last 20 years of their lives (they were forbidden to talk to us); and my aunt's husband intercepted all my mum's letters to her mum (when her mum was dying) and didn't give them to her. I only found out that my other grandmother had died because someone who worked in the Register (of births, marriages, and deaths) told me.

They stick rigidly to everything it says in the Bible (you can find sources in the Bible for all the practices listed above). So if you ever hear me being anti-Christian in my remarks, the above will explain why. (I do realise that not all Christians are like this, but they're all referring to the same holy book. I have the deepest respect for many individual Christians, but I have a strong philosophical objection to the basic premises of their religion.)

There's a support site for people who have suffered from the Exclusive Brethren.


The Birdhouse in Doctor Ashen's Soul: Technobabble and Social Engineering 101

What a great way to relieve tedium at work (if you don't have access to the internet). And I love the pseudo-scientific explanation.

Friday, August 11, 2006

V vindicated

Starfisher: Masks - excellent post about V for Vendetta, masks, politics, and psychoanalysis.
Consider the recent political climate and government use of fear prevalent in the UK as well as the US. Is it dangerous to acknowledge that every terrorist is someone else's freedom fighter? If so, where do you draw the line between the two? And at what point should human rights to a fair trial take second place to the 'greater good'? Who actually decides this? Are we all, even now, consenting through our silence to a process which will lead to the denial of basic human rights? Or has that already happened, and are we ignoring it?
All these issues, and the balance of power between the state and the individual, and the nature of identity itself, were raised by both the film and the book of V. And I really enjoyed the imagery in the film - the bit with the fried egg on toast in the frying-pan, and the way the camera gradually panned out from it, and numerous other motifs; especially the roses.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Luther Arkwright film

"Luther Arkwright" Goes To Film (July 20th 2006) - wow that announcement was made on my birthday.

Hope the film is true to the spirit of the books. But I'd really like to see a Luther Arkwright film, I think it'd be great. I actually liked the film of V for Vendetta, but maybe that's because I saw the film and then read the book, not the other way around.


I had a really weird dream this morning. I dreamt that I was in Pakistan, and that there had been some enormous natural disaster (flood or famine or drought), and that I had volunteered to drive a bus-load of people to somewhere out if the disaster zone. I dreamt that I drove 78 miles without stopping, and then went into an empty house and slept for ages. That's weird, I've never before gone to sleep and then woken up in a dream. Nick and a friend, Adrian, were with me. Then we got up, wandered around the village (vivid images of dry brown fields with a dusty lane and an irrigation ditch lined with green bushes), and then came to a house with a lot of books in the porch. We knocked on the inner door, and an elderly local couple came downstairs and welcomed us in and offered us lovely food. From their balcony was a splendid view of rocky coastline and blue water. I don't know what that was all about, but it was very vivid.

DNA petition

Protect innocent people's DNA - sign the petition At the moment the police can retain DNA samples on their database indefinitely, even if the owner of the DNA is innocent of any crime. There are now around 140,000 people on the National DNA database who have never been charged with a criminal offence. Nearly 25,000 of them are children. A quarter of the records are from members of minority ethnic groups whilst they only make up under one in ten of the overall population; looks like racial discrimination.

Monday, August 07, 2006

live your dreams

When did we forget our dreams? - a repudiation of the axiom that bloggers should be careful what they write, in case future employers might see it. I can only concur - if "future employers" have no sense of humour and a narrow, crabbed and conformist attitude to life, then I don't want to work for them.

Don't dream it, be it!

ceasefire now!

Ceasefire Campaign: CeaseFire Now Petition It's not much, but it's the least we can do to sign this petition. It's so sad that Lebanon was just rebuilding after so many years of bloodshed and destruction, and now it's in an even worse state than it was before. And they can't get aid to the people, because the bridges have been bombed.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Was off in Scotland for a week last week, which was very pleasant. Went walking in the Pentland Hills and in the area of Carlops, visited Rosslyn Chapel, and met up with the Silvereel and Joe Gordon. It was fabulous to meet them at last, and we had an excellent chat about literature and all manner of things.

Also met up with various other friends, which was a lot of fun.

I had been to Rosslyn Chapel before (in around 1997 or 1998), but it's always enjoyable, and it was quite fun to compare the reality with the film version. Also explored further around the castle this time.

On the way up to Scotland, we visited Little Moreton Hall, and stayed over in Lancaster, where I caught up with another old friend; Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur's Round Table. On the way back, we visited Brough Castle and Boscobel. I had always wanted to visit Boscobel, and I wasn't disappointed. It was very moving to see the priest hole where Charles II hid for 9 hours, and the site of the famous oak tree. I am not a royalist in general, but I am a Jacobite.