Friday, October 28, 2005

Creationist Quotes

In the United States, the creationists are back, only this time around they are calling themselves intelligent designers.

This is great news for anyone who needs a laugh. For example:

Not all of the young-earth creationists are scientists. One of the creationist witnesses at the Arkansas trial was Dr. Norman Geisler, a fundamentalist theologian at the Dallas Theological Seminary. During his pre-trial deposition, Geisler was asked if he believed in a real Devil. Yes, he replied, he did, and cited some Biblical verses as confirmation. The conversation then went:

Are there, sir, any other evidences for that belief besides certain passages of Scripture?

Oh, yes. I have known personally at least 12 persons who were clearly possessed by the Devil. And then there are the UFOs.

The UFOs? Why are they relevant to the existence of the Devil?

Well, you see, they represent the Devil's major, in fact, final attack on the earth.

Oh. And sir, may I ask how you know, as you seem to know, that there are UFOs?

I read it in the Readers Digest.

(Trial Transcript, US District Court, McLean v Arizona, 1981, cited in Gilkey, 1985, p. 76)

It's marvelous isn't it? You just couldn't make this stuff up. Bringing us right up to date, here's another quote:

We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.

- Ray Mummert, creationist from Dover, Pennsylvania, 2005

How horrid and unfair life is, Ray.

The source for all this great stuff is this website.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dinner with Tracy

Eating chips on the way home last night.

Delicious, as only really-bad-for-you-fast-food can be.

One of the local working girls is at the corner of London Road. This one is blonde, wearing too-high heels, a too-short denim skirt, and a dark hoody. I vaguely recognise her, she and her colleagues often ask for cigarettes, phone money, and of course business.

They should know by now that I never give them any of these things, but undaunted this girl wobbles over (those silly shoes) and says, Gizachip darlin? in a part request and part order kind of tone.

It seems mean to refuse, so I offer her the bag. Energised by a friendly transaction that doesn't involve money or sex, she grabs a chip and gobbles it down. Close up, she's got that very thin pale look that I associate with thin genes (myself) or drugs (everyone else).

Take another, I say, and she does, along with a cue to start chatting. Very quickly I learn:

  • Her name is Tracy
  • I have a nice smile
  • She comes from Chester
  • My hair is nice
  • She lives just around the corner
  • Some Serbs were pestering her earlier only offering £5 for sex.
  • I'm very polite and kind
  • She's charging £25 for oral followed by sex.
  • The chips are nice
  • I have a nice voice
  • She has a child
  • The father was very violent.
  • I'm a gentleman.
  • She's 22.

A few more chips, then as we part she whips up the skirt from the back to show a flash of white skin and black thong. I'm not sure if this supposed to be an advert, a thank you for the chips, or a show of contempt. Maybe all three.

Back at the flat I finish the chips and watch a documentary on Ceaser's Conquest of Gaul. I wonder if the police could have done me for soliciting, and can you catch AIDS from chips?


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Amy Knight

There's an insistence in business and professional writing circles that you can really teach writing, and it isn't some weird arty-farty skill that people either have or haven't got.

Apply the right method and technique and a good report or advert or manual or whatever automatically follows.

Well... up to a point Lord Copper.

It's true there are plenty of little tricks and techniques that technical and copy writers use that you can demonstrate and teach to people. But as teachers know, learning and technique and practise only get you so far - you can't put in what god (or evolution) left out. This applies especially to most 'entertainment' writing - creative, fiction, and comedy.

Which brings me to Amy Knight's amazing blog entitled Always Bored at Work. When it comes to writing, Amy has got it, pure and simple.

Lucky cow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Early Morning in Cambridge

Walking to work this morning, I stop for a moment on the Victoria Avenue bridge to watch a girls crew push off from the boat house quay.

Their first time in a rowing boat, they look curious yet relaxed, and glow with the natural fitness of people in their late teens. One or two tentatively dip their oars into the water, while the instructor on the bank holds an imaginary oar and demonstrates the movements.

The slow ripples from the boat bend the reflections in the water - like a mirror today.


Monday, October 17, 2005

The Very Bad Idea

Tom Tomorrow, whose cartoons are often worth a 10,000 earnest well written words...


Friday, October 14, 2005

Meet the War Nerd

Ever had a friend you're sometimes ashamed of?

I have, and still do. Several in fact.

Gary Brecher a.k.a the War Nerd, isn't a friend.

In fact we've never met, and in any case it may be impossible to meet Gary, a data entry clerk from Fresno, because he doesn't exist.

The War Nerd definitely exists though - he's the best military correspondent of our time (yes really) and he writes for a cult website aimed at ex-pat Americans in Moscow called

Here's how the War Nerd describes himself:

I'm a war nerd. A backseat sergeant. I know what I am. All I have to do is look down at the keyboard and there's my hairy white gut slopping over it, and there's crumbs between the keys from the fake homemade soft'n'chewy big cookies in the vending machine downstairs. I mean they made me pay for the last keyboard because I spilled Diet Coke all over it. Diet Coke, the most fattening drink in the world. Every web pig in the world is
swimming in it, farting off the side of the swivel chair, aroma-free carbonation farts, or at least you hope they are.

So I'm unhealthy. No shit, Sigmund. I live in Fresno which is a death sentence already, and I do about fifteen hours a day at this desk. 6 or 7 hours entering civilian numbers for the pay check and the rest surfing the war news. I like war. So do you or you wouldn't still be reading. So shut up or leave.

Brilliant isn't it?

But that's just the aperitif. The war nerd has written so many great articles, it's really hard to pick a few of the best ones, so here's a semi-random sample.

On the French:

...the notion that the French are cowards is total bullshit, and anybody who knows anything about European military history knows damn well that over the past thousand years, the French have the most glorious military history in Europe, maybe the world.

It takes considerable courage to write stuff like that in today's climate, especially when you think of the War Nerd's core readership of Republican, (and moderate Democratic party) patriots and extremists...

On the RPG:

I love the hardware as much as anybody. I used to spend every free hour, back before there was an internet, going over those big heavy reference books in the library: Jane's Tanks, Jane's Missile Systems, Jane's Combat Vehicles. I had those things memorized.
Seriously, you could open any of Jane's handbooks at random, read me the name of a weapons system, and I'd recite its stats from memory -- Norwegian anti-ship missiles, South African APCs, you name it.

But eventually I had to face the facts: most of those weapons are never going to get used. If you look at all the real wars going on right now, you come across the same two weapons, over and over: the AK-47 and the RPG-7 -- both Russian designs, and both older than your Dad.

Again, this flies completely in the face of most Internet conflict discussion, where the equipment fetishists never fail to post less than 1000 illiterate words.

But the War Nerd's finest moments thus far have come in his objective and illuminating analysis of the current war in Iraq. Here's a tiny extract, I urge you strongly to read them all, then write to the politician who represents you and ask him or her to vote for pulling our troops out. Now.

Insurgencies don't start right away. For a while after the invading army grinds in, the locals are intimidated by all that firepower. And depressed at what a bad showing their conventional army made against it. We saw a clear case of this after the fall of Baghdad: it was months before the Iraqis' morale rose again, and it wasn't until November 2003, eight months later, that the attacks on our troops really spiked.

What happened in those eight months is that the invincible invaders turned into occupiers, and the locals started to see what dummies they were when it came to running the neighbourhood. Going against the Brit generals' advice, Rumsfeld dissolved the Iraqi army, so we had no native allies to work with. That meant our GIs were running security without a clue. They couldn't speak the language or read faces, tell friends from enemies, or even get the power and water working.

I'm tempted to cut and paste even more for you, but it's getting late and the week-end is here.

The War Nerd's archive is

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Disturbing Phonecall

My colleague Jane's phone rings, she's not at her desk, so I answer:

Hello. Jane's desk.

(heavily accented, female, Spanish perhaps?): Is Jane there?

I'm sorry she's working from home this morning, can I leave a message?

[long pause] No... [long pause] No.


Yes, sure. Can I borrow you for a moment?

Yes, of course, where are you?

Standing up behind you.


I put the phone down, and turn around.

Nobody is standing.

I stand up and look down the office.

Nobody is standing.

I look to my half right.

Nobody is standing

I look to my half left.

Nobody is standing.

I look out of the window at the car-park.

Nobody is standing.

I sit down, and await the call-back, which will say "where are you?" or "why didn't you come over?"

I wait.

I get back to work. Distracted. Looking over at Jane's silent phone.

It's been nearly an hour now, and it's really bothering me way more than it should... Grrrrr!

Saturday, October 01, 2005


It was my last day at work yesterday. I'm tempted to go into a very long, very boring, technical explanation of the troubles I've had with software applications over the past few days.

Suffice to say that nothing is more frustrating than when technology stops helping you solve problems and instead creates them.

It was an unusual situation in that two of us left within the same week, so two handovers had to be done, instead of the usual one. The fact that one of us was in Scotland, so the whole thing had to be done over the phone and by e-mail made the game more... interesting.

I finally wrapped it up at about 4:30pm, which didn't leave much time to do the enjoyable part of leaving a company - clearing your desk, chatting to colleagues, gazing at the pages and pages of notes filled with senseless scribble about projects nobody remembers or cares about any more. "What was that all about?!?" you wonder, leafing through a notebook from September 2004.

My colleagues were great, as always, and gave me some nice pressies in the pub at lunchtime, although even that was far from perfect - we couldn't get lunch for an hour after we arrived because the "chef is too busy with a big order." Hummmmm, at least 20 people won't be going there again.

So until Tuesday morning I'm in an enjoyable limbo, unemployed for a long week-end.

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