Thursday 26 March 2009

They came

First they came for the Moslems, and I didn’t speak up for I was not a Moslem;
And then they came for the Christian, the Jew and the Hindu too;
And I remained quiet for I thought they knew

Who had won?

They came for hate, and that seemed OK;
But passion as well, that went the next day

It’s for the best, they explained;
There’s too much pain
When you get into bed
With love

Now few dare dispute
Their truth absolute

There were some

But whilst they came for Martin
They never came for me
For there was nothing worth taking
Or nothing left to take

Monday 16 March 2009

Cheese and pineapple on a stick

Cheese and Pineapple on a stick
One of the great things about having children, besides the supposed excuse for watching films you ought to have grown out of, is the readily accepted defence for behaving strangely in public. Thus I found myself at a wedding reception dancing in the most peculiar way and, since there was nothing about it in the news, you can trust me when I say that no one was hurt in the process. I even came out with my dignity intact.

OK, that bit’s not true but dancing with a seven year old affords a certain level of absolution; for a short period of time I truly enjoyed myself. Though the worst thing about any reconnection is that no matter how good the moment, there are the moments that follow. Enough maudlin nonsense, here’s the report.

The GPS got me to the church on time. I’m so enamoured of my new best friend that after a stop at the service station I still got her out for a chat despite knowing the rest of the way home. She can take me to the third exit at the roundabout (and back again) anytime.

The church service was nice - though for me the pastor overdid the smiling with his eyes closed, holding his palm upwards and swaying during the hymns. I know there’s nothing wrong with this but I had my religious radar on and it was a little over sensitive. The bridegroom was smiling and relaxed, the bride looked lovely and Little Miss R was totally carried away with excitement.

The reception was good too. The best man was nervous, about half my age, and still gave a far better speech than I could ever manage. Most of the guests may have had strong religious backgrounds but contrary to popular perception the few I spoke to were easy going, genuine and a far better example of kindness than most. They looked just like ‘normal’ people…

I will close by making the following observations.
  • There are far too many middle aged men, or any men for that matter, who know the Macarena… stop it. Conversely there is nothing wrong with the YMCA. This dance personifies cool… as anyone who saw me can testify.
  • The pastor may have thought it was love but personally I think its cheese and pineapple on a stick.

Friday 13 March 2009

Striped pyjamas

I spent part of last week and most of this week being fought over between Texas and Canada. Canada won, so the Texas catch up meeting will be one where I have to explain why I haven’t caught up. I’m spending a lot of time creating large “to do” lists and then farming the work off to other people. This week I had to work on some problems on our next rather than current project and they weren’t even the problems that originally caused me to offload my work. The first turned out to be a fault with the live version of the software; the other error was process rather than software but it took me an age to track it down.

The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas film
So I spent ridiculously long hours at work, drank way too much coffee, learnt how to butter toast yet still had time to watch another film.

My 3rd film of the week (three in one week is a modern day record) was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Now if I were analytical I could point out the limited budget, the stage school child actors who weren’t wholly convincing and compare it to other films on the same subject. But for me the small scale brutality was effective, as it was sudden. I appreciated the different perspective and though it was simply told this didn’t affect my appreciation of the film; the end may have been predictable but it was nonetheless moving.

Thursday 5 March 2009

Welcome to the temple of Richard Dawkins

There are would-be murderers, all around the world who want to kill you and me, and themselves, because they are motivated by what they think is the highest ideal.
--Richard Dawkins
I'm agnostic. I believe the theory of evolution, that’s ‘theory’ in its scientific rather than popular sense. There’s a part of me that wonders why I should have to qualify myself, but the larger part thinks it easier that way.

Charles Darwin portrait
With the recent anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth I somehow found myself reading a Richard Dawkins blog. This was in response to a colleague of mine who had read of a report showing an ‘alarming’ percentage of science teachers who didn’t believe in evolution. It later turned out that actually it was a percentage who weren’t convinced that evolution offered all the answers… then later again we agreed that not only did we not know the result of the survey but that, since we didn’t know the question asked, the previous discussion had been rather pointless… but still a lot of fun.

Regardless, I found myself reading Dawkins’ blog and it wasn’t long before I had this strange feeling of déjà-vu. If I remember correctly (I don’t care to go back because it was an ugly read) the discussion originated on correspondence between Dawkins and a journalist; in which the journalist had the temerity to infer that Richard Dawkins appropriation of Darwin’s significance was counter-productive to the teaching of evolutionary theory.

The journalist suggested that the teaching and acceptance of evolution was best served by keeping it separate from any debate on religious belief. Dawkins reply missed the point; he repeatedly commented that this was irrelevant as the science stands for itself. He either couldn’t, or wilfully refused, to entertain the idea that a person forced to choose between truth and love will sometimes choose love. Personally I think this rather wonderful; though Dawkins and his acolytes would doubtless roll their eyes at the very suggestion.

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and an atheist; like most of us he combines what he knows (which is considerable) with what he believes. This is perfectly natural and in Dawkins case it helps to shift a lot of books; but in presenting the two tenets of evolution and atheism as a package he undermines that with which we can all agree. I say this because I don’t know any Christians who disagree with the theory of evolution. If he were to separate the two then science as a whole would find it easier to educate, and sloppy ideas such as ‘intelligent design’ would lose their grip and slowly die away.

So why doesn’t he? Judging from the many contributors to his blog I found it difficult to escape the feeling that they enjoyed the conflict; the intellectual bullying of people considered their inferior. It was unpleasant but I can hardly blame the great man for his following. There’s a certain irony in this fundamentalist approach to following their highest ideal, for they fail to consider the possibility that it’s not so much religious belief that is the ‘root of all evil’ but religious intolerance; and in that respect they condemn themselves.