Friday, October 12, 2007

Human Tetris

Tetris is one of the only computer games I've ever liked. I liked 'Pong' too but it's best played on a Commodore 64. The Japanese have come up with a version that can be played without a computer. Admittedly this is an odd thing for the Japanese to be doing but the results are pretty inspiring.

Thanks to Gareth Saunders for this clip

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Time is running out!

Fr Knisely over at Entangled States is constantly coming up with interesting stuff. . The latest installment - quotes the following paragraph:

"'The Universe is about to flip from having three dimensions of space and one of time to having four dimensions of space. That's the conclusion of a group of Spanish astrophysicists who have calculated that observers inside such a Universe would see it expanding and accelerating away from them just before the flip. "

Going back to the original article doesn't help. I've as much chance of reading this as I have of flying to the moon. I suspect, though, that this could be serious. The astronomer in my congregation has noticed that the universe is expanding away from us. I hear he's not alone. That's why we get the 'red shift' in certain stars, right? So we must be 'just before the flip', non?

Is it even worth purchasing the 2008 Parsons Pocket Book? Should I get more furniture instead to fill the extra space?

Nick - you gotta help me!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Times has the following report on the New Zealand reaction to the loss at rugby to the French:

Newspapers printed match reports in white type on a black background, reflecting the sombre mood. The foreign minister, Winston Peters, called the result a tragedy and suggested it could even drive distraught men to "beat up" their wives and children.

And we're talking about Kiwis here - they're supposed to be milder mannered than even the Canadians. Who'd a thunk it?

Without a false note

I was tremendously taken with the adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel 'Atonement' which I saw in Glasgow the other night. Even taking into consideration the denouement at the end of the film, the story remains a simple one. I read the novel a year or so ago and I am usually hesitant to see a film where I've enjoyed the book and cultivated a set of visual images to go with it. In this case the film adapts the novel well - I even found myself thinking I had seen certain parts of the film before.

The movie opens with words being typed on an old Corona and it is the power of uttered and written words which is at the centre of the film: Words spoken or written which can never be taken back.

We never simply record events. We inject ourselves into the story we are relating. The desire of a budding young writer - Briony Tallis - to have the world conform to her hopes and, ultimately, to her anger and jealousy forms the core of the plot. A community of men and women reel from the effect of a young girl's testimony and attempt, over time, to reestablish what has been broken by her words.

The film has been well crafted. I cannot think of a single regrettable image or badly crafted scene - not one false note. This was a very satisfying film.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Liberal Defence critic Denis Coderre was in Afghanistan yesterday talking to Canadian troops there. Would somebody please tell the honourable member that just because he's in the Opposition in Ottawa doesn't mean he has to grow a beard and look like the Taliban in Kandahar.

Yes you can be too careful!

A report commissioned by the Church of England advises us to leave our clerical collars at home because they make us a target for violent criminals. The whole question of the advisability of wearing clericals on the street has been discussed elsewhere. This is different - now we're into the realm of health and safety where we know that......

You can't be too careful

Let's deal with how the report begins. It begins with the pictures of murdered clergy.

It then goes on to state in one of the introductory paragraphs that a 2001 study found that "70% of clergy suffer from some sort of violence". That's a lot! Me, I've got the same package of plasters that I had back in Chibougamau in the late 80's. I'm not even sure that the adhesive works any more. Maybe I've been lucky. The author then states his own findings from 2006 that "48% of them (clergy) had suffered at least one violent incident in the preceding 12 months". Fine.

First you want to know what 'violence' in this context means. I'm just off the phone with somebody with whom I raised my voice. Was I being violent? I was being aggressive. What is violence anyway - being shouted at - given sideways glances? The definition given in the article ends up being pretty wide indeed

4.4 Often in a parish are one or two people who can use violence as described in footnote 2 above [which I can't find]. These can be people who have a grudge against the church, the vicar themselves [sic] or God. The vicar becomes the target of the abuse which can often take the form of anonymous letter writing to the bishop, attempts to discredit the vicar and accusations of improper behaviour. These are often long term problems that are seldom dealt with in a satisfactory manner according to those clergy who suffer from this sort of violence.

Ah. We're back in Britain again.

First - show pictures of four clergy murdered between 1996 and 2007. Truly horrifying stories, all of them.

Second - give statistics for a generalized form of violence which includes disgruntled Altar Guild presidents writing the Bishop under the name of Outraged of Penicuik and saying that the Rector is an utter shit who should never have been sent to the congregation in the first place. I'm sorry - that's not violence. That's the reality of ministry in some places (tho mercifully not Penicuik).

Thirdly - propose a series of over-the-top safeguards.

My favourite? From the appendix at the end:

All front doors should reach the European Standard ENV 1627

(This means that the door should withstand assault with crowbars for five minutes, withstand pressure on the lock of 600 kg and withstand pressure on the corners of 300 kg)

All I have to say is that on the day my Altar Guild starts to assault the front door for five minutes with crowbars I'm gonna start checking the Church Times in earnest for available positions.


On a more sober note. I had somebody decide to kill me once - back in the early nineties.

His marriage had broken apart, he was seriously manic depressive and we had found alternate accomodation for his wife and daughter when he had beaten them rather badly.

His plan was to lure me to the 17th floor apartment/hotel room he was living in and pitch me off the balcony. He was waaay manic when I arrived after his phone call. He was a round but still very well-built fellow and when I arrived he was sweating profusely and wearing nothing but a small pair of bikini briefs and kept telling me that it was too hot in the room and he wanted to talk to me on the balcony. "Not here" he snapped in a staccato voice, "on the balcony. On - the - balcony!"

I was clever enough not to advance into the room. I backed out slowly on a pretext and got the hell out of there.

I must admit that I had ignored any number of little warning bells in my head as I was driving over to his place. I shoulda known better. The next day he was threatening over the telephone to throw himself off the same balcony and I managed to do a two-telephone trick and have the Montreal cops sneak up and haul him down. On his way to the hospital he told the police about his plans to throw me off the day before.

I'm not sure that risk can ever be completely avoided or should be avoided, for that matter. The cultivation of good common sense pays great dividends, however. My one risky encounter with an unwell parishioner was cleary my own bloody fault.