Saturday, 29 March 2008

Another fine mess

Every Labour government ends in catastrophe for the country. A truism which has taken about nine years longer with the present Government than with its Labour predecessors. However, it is obvious that the wheels are coming off big time. The housing market is in freefall; banks are raising their interest rates at the same time as the Bank of England is cutting the base rate; unemployment is rising; the one industry we have left in this country is in banking and finance and that is a basket case right now; propping up a failed bank and its workers in Labour constituencies has burdened the country with a gargantuan debt.

And there is no end in sight. What brought it home to me was firstly discovering that the mortgage interest was going up, followed by learning that my lender is one of the banks currently increasing its rates in order to discourage new borrowers because the banks themselves don't have money to lend right now, then noticing that the interest charged on my credit card has shot up by a good 50% in the last few years. If times are looking more difficult for the Didactophobes there must be literally millions of our compatriots out there feeling the hurt.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Back to work again...

That's it. Just a wage slave after all. An all too brief interlude with a long weekend, then back to the grind tomorrow morning. And working all evening in preparation for it. Why do we do it?

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Manipulation of the weak

In Afghanistan, 5000 people have been protesting, chanting 'Death to the Netherlands' over the Wilders film; 'Death to Denmark' over the Muhammad cartoons; 'Death to America' and 'Death to Jews', simply because those are common refrains among protestors in certain parts of the world.

Let us crunch some numbers here. 5000 out of a population of 32 million ain't a massive amount. In Afghanistan, only 28% of the people can read; presumably fewer than that could find the Netherlands or Denmark or the USA or Israel on a map. If the map was produced in the Arab world, it probably would not show Israel even for the benefit of those who can read.

So, who are the protestors? Are they the minority of literate people who could have the faintest idea what the protest is about? Or are they illiterate people, being manipulated by those who should know better? What do you think?

Joseph Goebbels understood that, to control people, the best and surest way of doing it is to create a common enemy. In doing so, it takes people's minds off the 40% unemployment rate; that fewer than 10% have a landline or mobile phone; GDP per capita is barely $1000; that illiteracy among women is three times that among men; that nearly 16% of babies do not survive infancy.

These are the things people should be protesting about.

Apologies to my regular readers

And genuine ones, to boot. I see from the Statcounter that there have been people continuing to visit my blog during the month I have been offline. Thank you for continuing to visit and please accept my apologies for my absence. I promise that I shall try to post more regularly now I am back.

Amsterdam

Mrs Didactophobe and I visited it several years ago. It clearly was a beautiful city at one time, but in recent decades has been allowed to descend into being a sordid cesspit of perversion: prostitution, drugs, pornography etc etc etc.

Sadly, a large number of Dutch protested yesterday against Geert Wilders' film, Fitna. Is the film any good? Who knows? The nutters attending the demonstration yesterday hadn't seen it; nor has anyone else, since it has not yet been released. However, if the Netherlands really is a tolerant society, it should value Wilder's freedom of expression sufficiently to allow this film to be shown.

What has happened, of course, is that people worldwide are terrified of Islam. They know that it is too often used as justificatin for violence and murder. Yet, what has happened in countries with Shari'a law? In Afghanistan, the punishment for sodomy used to be the sodomites having a wall bulldozed on top of them. In Iran, the official line used by Ahmadinejad has been that there are no homosexuals in Iran. As the rest of the world knows, homosexuals in Iran are routinely executed. Do these ultra-liberal Dutch people want to see Shari'a law in Amsterdam? There would be a lot of harm caused to a lot of people.

Moderate Muslims will not want any harm to come to Wilders. They follow the precept from the Qur'an that there is no compulsion in Islam [Surah 2:256]. Anyone who believes this will accept that, therefore, there is no need for Wilders or anyone else to avoid insulting Islam.

Jesus is Risen

It is Easter Sunday, and the day on which Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you believe the story ultimately depends on whether it makes sense to you in the context of your own life. I certainly believe it, and I believe that it is proof that the sacrifice of Jesus in going to his Crucifixion was not in vain. All who believe in him will receive God's grace [Charis=a freely given gift], which is essential for salvation.

As we have seen with the Turin shroud, every time the scientific community provides evidence against the Christian faith, more evidence pops up to substantiate the Bible stories. Did Jesus' disciples risk their lives for a lie? Would anyone? Of course not. If the Resurrection had never happened, their movement would have been finished. They would have gone back to being anonymous fishermen and the Christian faith would be the merest footnote in history (if recorded at all) as a short-lived Jewish sect, no better known than Apollonius of Tyana. With Jesus dead, there was no need for them to face persecution.

You may argue that religious belief is irrational, but actually that is precisely the point. When I say that my wife loves me; I love my wife and my cat; I am happy today; I am in pain; none of these can be empirically demonstrated. You may find empirical evidence which is consistent with what you believe the empirical evidence should say, but that is as far as you go.

Our ability to value the irrational is what separates us from the animals. A goldfish swimming around its tank only needs its rational, physical surroundings. To be psychologically healthy human beings, we need more than that. We need faith. You might call it religious faith, or you might dress it in different clothes and pretend that it is 'rational' and 'scientific', but ultimately it is the irrational things in life, the qualitative rather than the quantitative, which makes life worthwhile.

The Turin Shroud

Rageh Omaar's documentary last night was one of the best things I have seen on TV in a long time. THAT is what the BBC gets our licence fee for - not the mindless gibbering or atheist, left-wing nonsense we hear from too many so-called stars.

Anyhoo, to say it was thought-provoking is an understatement. It is now clear that the original carbon dating was wrong and the shroud is almost certainly far older than the 14th Century. Of course, we can never say for sure that the Shroud is the actual burial shroud of Jesus. However, it is now clear that its features are far too accurate for it to have been a hoax and, frankly, it is looking more and more likely that it is the real artefact.

Infuriatingly, the DNA from the bloodstains on the shroud appears to have been contaminated too badly to ever extract a meaningful reading from it. THAT would have been the most fascinating thing of all. Is it proof of the Resurrection? No, but it is certainly another slice of evidence towards it. It looks very much as though a recently deceased body was wrapped in the shroud, but it did not decompose for any length of time in the shroud. It is at least possible that this was because of the Resurrection. I have certainly moved from a position where I thought that, on balance, the Shroud was not genuine, to one where I believe that, on balance, it probably is.