28 November 2007

Dorothy Day's anarcho-Catholicism:the way of love

Dorothy Day rejected Western individualism and collectivism, and proposed a new way: communitarianism
clipped from www.speroforum.com
Dorothy Day - a radical pacifist who had been a member of the I.W.W., met Leon Trotsky, had an abortion, and raised a daughter as a divorced single mother - may be the next American canonized a saint in the Catholic Church.
November 29th marks the anniversary of the passing of Dorothy Day, the foundress of the Catholic Worker Movement.
In 1933, she founded the Catholic Worker movement with the itinerant French illegal immigrant Peter Maurin, a sort of modern Holy Fool in the mode of Saint Francis of Assisi.
However politically heterodox Dorothy Day was, she was always religiously orthodox, saying, "When it comes to labor and politics, I am inclined to be sympathetic to the left, but when it comes to the Catholic Church, then I am far to the right."
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The author of this article on Dorothy Day has his own blog The Western Confucian, where you can also leave comments.

26 November 2007

US imperialism has created the worst of all worlds

US imperialism has created the worst of all worlds, says the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.
clipped from timesonline.co.uk

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the United States wields its power
in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday.

Rowan Williams claimed that America’s attempt to intervene overseas by
“clearing the decks” with a “quick burst of violent action” had led to “the
worst of all worlds”.

He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its
misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation
myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the
heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.
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Fraudulent Google searches

Having an idle moment waiting for the kettle to boil I remembered finding a blog with a similar name to mine, and decided to look for it on Google, where I found this:

Notes from underground: Urban legend: government to replace
12 Nov 2007 by laiiwjmi
bGovernment/b employees demand more bholidays/b and higher pay. When the Danish bgovernment/b intervened in spring 1998 to end the major private sector industrial b/bLink to Queensland bGovernment/b (www.qld.gov.au) b/b Public ...
btyu.mevent.org - http://btyu.mevent.org/

and a few others like it. That is not a blog similar to mine, but it has nicked the title of a post I wrote in my blog (Notes from underground: Urban legend: government to replace Christian public holidays), though the content is nothing like it.

Entering "Notes from underground: Urban legend: government to replace" into Google blog search produces some interesting results -- a long list of bogus blog sites.

Should one report this to Google, as it seems fraudulent, to say the least?

23 November 2007

Easy Rider through Western Transvaal dorps

Hat tip to spookyrach for the link. Unlike spookyrach, I rather liked the movie:

But as with the previous post, it brings back memories.

From 1969-1972 I lived in a kind of commune in Windhoek, which we called the Community of St Simon the Zealot. We sent an occasional newsletter, called The Pink Press to friends and well-wishers, and in one of them described an international tour (to South Africa, which at that time was trying to claim South West Africa/Namibia as its own, so we described it as "international" to emphasise Namibia's separateness).

An Anglican priest friend, Tom Comber, then living in Oxford, England, wrote saying that he had enjoyed the description of doing an "Easy Rider" through the Western Transvaal dorps. I hadn't seen the film (perhaps it was banned in those days), but after hearing of it from him, I always wanted to see it. But I only got to see the film many years later, when it was shown on TV quite recently.

Those were the days of ethnic cleansing in South Africa, and we went to a place called Morsgat (Messhole), subsequently renamed Madikwe because Cosmas Desmond, who was then a Franciscan priest, reported that the people who had been moved there lacked basic necessities like food and blankets. Cosmas Desmond wrote a book, The discarded people, which drew the ethnic cleansing then taking place to the attention of a wider public. The picture shows some of us on the road to Morsgat.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my diary entry for Saturday 15 November 1969, our "Easy Rider" through the Western Transvaal:
We set out early in the morning for Morsgat, in three vehicles. Ted Goodyer, now deacon at St Martin's in the Veld, was driving the Christian Institute's combi, and Mary Davies and Richard Schaerer went with him. Shirley and John and Mark Davies went in their own car. Elizabeth Davies came with me in an Opel station wagon belonging to a woman called Amanda, but nobody knew her surname. We drove out through Blackheath, Tarlton and Magaliesberg, and at Koster stopped for tea and biscuits at the side of the road. Just beyond Swartruggens we turned off to the right along a dirt road, and about 25 miles further on we came to Morsgat.

Our plan was that the clergy in the group - being Ted, John and me, would go in to
distribute the food, while the rest waited outside. But there were a lot of houses in the process of being built, and a bloke came out of the building yard and gave every impression of expecting us. He said we were expected at the school, because that was where the doctor had gone last time. Earlier on the journey I had seen a police van go on ahead, and I suspected a trap, but the bit about the doctor sounded all right, so we went. The school building was in the shape of a U, and sure enough, the police-van was there, waiting. So I didn't go into the school, but parked under a tree outside. The policeman came up and introduced himself as Sergeant van den Berg, so we all said good morning, and John asked him in a polite conversational way where would be the best place to distribute the food. This clearly embarrassed him, as he had obviously come to be professional and nasty, and he said in his best professional and nasty voice "Have you got permits to be here?", and John said "We don't need permits, we are clergy." The sergeant was a bit taken aback by this, and took down John's name and address, and went off somewhere, and a few minutes later returned with a Plymouth Barracuda with an SB man in it.

The SB man, Loots, was a real thug type. No flies on him, he couldn't smile or be friendly if he tried. He went round demanding permits, names and addresses, and took all names and addresses, including the children's. Then he insisted that Shirley and Richard and the children must leave and go to the Swartruggens police station, so they went off with the Fuzz, while we stayed and distributed the food after consulting with a bloke who claimed to be a headman. He and a few henchmen kept order, but eventually started using whips on the crowd. When it got too chaotic, we moved into the school, and distributed from classroom windows. The distribution of the food went off all right, but the clothes were an altogether different animal. Here, the majority of the henchmen tried to keep the best for themselves, and when we went outside the combi was almost mobbed. One or two of them were concerned to see that the old people got some, but the rest just grabbed for themselves. The combi was surrounded by about fifty shouting gesticulating people, and later John said he had seen nothing to equal it for sheer greed and grabbing, except perhaps in photos he had once seen of a scramble to buy shares on the Stock Exchange.

When the combi drove off I followed it a bit later, but it had disappeared, so I drove back to Swartruggens and found Shirley and Richard and the children. We stopped at a garage to buy some cold drinks, and then went back towards Morsgat to find John and Ted. Loots passed us going in the opposite direction, and looked puzzled. We drove about 100 yards up the dirt road, and stopped for lunch under some trees, and almost as soon as we got there John and Ted arrived in the combi. We had lunch there, and on the tar road I saw Loot's car turn around. We thought he would come up to keep an eye on us, but he didn't appear. On the way back, Mary rode in the car with me. We passed the place where Loots had parked, and Shirley saw him sitting in a tree, watching us from there. It seems almost as good as the story of Sergeant Ndlovu hiding in the butcher shop at Pevensey. In the evening Jill Chisholm, a reporter from the Daily Mail, came round to hear the full story of the day's doings.

The following day we burned a lot of posters showing B.J. Vorster. It was part of an antiremovals campaign the previous year, and showed Vorster and a quote from him, saying "You must not try to take a man's home away from him." The picture shows Cos Desmond and Liz Davies throwing some of the 20000 surplus Vorsters on the fire.

When I saw the film Easy Rider I could see why Tom Comber was reminded of it. Some of the communities in the Western Transvaal are a bit like those depicted in the film. But those were not the people we encountered on our journey. Ethnic cleansing created its own peculiar society, and some of those effects linger to the present, part of the legacy of apartheid that we are still struggling to cope with.

22 November 2007

Ian Smith and Bram Fischer -- memories of a bygone era

The death of Ian Smith calls to mind a memorable day when he issued his UDI, and Bram Fischer, after several months on the run, was rearrested.

The 11th of November 1965 was particularly memorable for me because that was the day on which I had been summoned to the chief Magistrate of Pietermaritzburg to receive an official warning under the Suppression of Communism Act.
clipped from www.guardian.co.uk
Ian Smith, Rhodesia's last white prime minister whose attempts to resist black rule dragged the country now known as Zimbabwe into isolation and civil war, died Tuesday at age 88.
Smith unilaterally declared independence from Britain on Nov. 11, 1965. He then served as the prime minister of Rhodesia from 1965 to 1979 during white minority rule.

He finally bowed to international pressure, and Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party won elections in 1980.

Just as Mugabe accused former British Prime Minister Tony Blair of interfering in Zimbabwe to protect the interests of whites, Smith poured vitriol on the government of the late Harold Wilson for pressing him to hand political power to the black majority.

Smith was born to Scottish immigrants in western Rhodesia on April 8, 1919, but renounced his claims to British citizenship in 1984.

Smith became premier of the British Crown Colony of Southern Rhodesia in April 1964. On Nov. 11, 1965, he issued a declaration of independence

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The other day I heard a radio announcer remarking that a street named after Bram Fischer had been spelt wrongly, saying that it should have been "Braam", not "Bram". But no, he was always known as Bram Fischer. For any of the younger generation, like that announcer, and for those interested in the history of those days, here is what I wrote in my diary on that memorable day:
I went to see the magistrate, at Room 116 in the Magistrate's Court, as instructed. I knocked on the door, which had been left slightly open. A deep voice inside said "Ja". So I went in and said "More, Omie" , and the beak looked slightly puzzled, so I said, in Afrikaans, that he had said I should come and see him. He continued to look slightly puzzled, and then suddenly his face lighted up, and he said, "Are you Mr Hayes?" in English. And I said Yes. He scratched around among the pile of papers on the table and pulled out a folder, and then asked me if I understood Afrikaans. I said I did, and so he read out this rigmarole about engaging in activities which were calculated to further any of the objects of communism, with a rather apologetic expression that implied it had nothing to do with him, and that he knew nothing about it, but had merely been asked to do this by the minister. He seemed very nervous and embarrassed. When he had read it out, he gave his interpretation of what he thought it meant, and advised me not to go to any political meetings. He asked me what the badges were that I was wearing on my blazer, and I told him that one was the church badge, and he looked puzzled again. I then told him that the other was the Liberal Party badge, and once again the light dawned. "O, ek sien." That explained everything.

I went outside and met Pam Taylor in Commercial Road. She said she had been worried about me, and had come down to see what had happened. Then I went to see Pat in the party office, and told him I had been warned, and told him I would have to give up my idea of having a political holiday between the last exam and going home to Joburg. It is not worth getting banned for five years for just two weeks of political activity.

After lunch I was in my room lying in my bed doing nothing, when John Aitchison burst in, with great jubilation, saying Ian Smith had just gone mad, and made his oft-threatened UDI. This means the beginning of the end of white supremacy in Southern Africa. We went up to see Isobel, who told us that all the Rhodesians in varsity had given up swotting and gone off to town to celebrate. And some of the Zambians had done as well, which was worse. Two of them came past waving a Rhodesian flag, so we sang "God save the Queen" and "Land of hope and glory".

In the evening John and I went to see Pat, and discussed the Rhodesian situation. Then we went to Pechey's place and listened to Wilson's broadcast on Rhodesia at 11:00 pm. He announced economic sanctions, said Rhodesian passports would no longer be recognised, and said Rhodesia would be placed under direct rule of the Crown, and that Britain would not abdicate her responsibility for Rhodesia. It was quite a good speech. The rest of the news followed, with a report that Bram Fischer had been arrested. So Pechey got some booze out and we drank three toasts: to Fischer, the Queen, and Wilson. Fischer may be a communist, but anyone who can keep the SB guessing for 11 months deserves admiration, no matter what his politics are. The stalemate has broken at last now that Smith has gone off his head, and things can start moving again.

The "Pat" referred to there was Pat McKenzie, the national secretary of the Liberal Party of South Africa.

Ian Smith went on for another 15 years, and turned Rhodesia into a police state. When that came to an end there was a brief flicker of hope, but Smith's successor Robert Mugabe has turned out to be just as bad, driving millions of Zimbabweans into exile with his oppressive policies.

And Harold Wilson's successors, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, have been doing their best to turn Britain into a police state, as South Africa was in 1965.

The "warning" issued by the magistrate was the preliminary to a banning order, issued by the Minister of Justice (then B.J. Vorster). These banning orders were similar to the "control orders" recently introduced in Britain by the Blair/Brown regime.

The day after I received the warning the South African Prime Minister, Dr Verwoerd, spoke at a National Party meeting in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall. The national and international press were there, waiting to hear what he would say about Smith and his UDI, and had to listen to a long diatribe against Sir de Villiers Graaf and the United Party, and he dismissed the whole Rhodesian UDI business in a couple of sentences, when he said smugly that South Africa didn't believe in interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries and that was a matter for Britain and Rhodesia to sort out between them.

The security police reported to the Minister of Justice that I had ignored the warning I had been given by attending the meeting -- ie that by attending the National Party meeting I was "engaging in activities that further, or are calculated to further any of the objects of communism".

I wrote my final exam on 15 November, and returned to Johannesburg, where I got a job as a bus driver with the Johannesburg Transport Department to save money for postgraduate study in the UK. On 11 January 1966 Mr Vorster signed a banning order for me. A few days later a Detective Sergeant van den Heever phoned and said he wanted to come and see me, though he did not say why. I was about to go to work to do overtime, so I told him I would go and see him the following day, between my overtime and my main shift. I suspected that he either wanted to give me a banning order or to confiscate my passport., so instead of going to work I went to ask the advice of John Davies, the Anglican chaplain at Wits University, and decided to skip the country. We left immediately and drove to Beit Bridge where we crossed into Smith's Rhodesia, the first impression of which was notices in the immigration office saying "Please do not allow your children to scribble on the blotting pads".

We reached Bulawayo at lunch time, and had lunch with a local Anglican priest, Leslie Gready, who told stories of how the Rhodesian police used the rainwater tanks of black peasants for target practice, thus depriving them of drinking water.

Late in the afternoon I got a plane to Salisbury (now Harare), and from there to London via Rome.

Such are my memories of Ian Smith and his Rhodesia.

As for Bram Fischer, he spent most of the rest of his life in jail. Unlike Smith and Mugabe, he wasn't a racist.

21 November 2007

What are conservatives looking for?

What are conservatives looking for?

The stats page at Statistics - Conservapedia shows:
Most viewed pages

1. Main Page‎ [1,904,028]
2. Homosexuality‎ [1,553,890]
3. Homosexuality and Hepatitis‎ [516,945]
4. Homosexuality and Promiscuity‎ [420,450]
5. Homosexuality and Parasites‎ [387,937]
6. Homosexuality and Domestic Violence‎ [356,828]
7. Gay Bowel Syndrome‎ [349,077]
8. Homosexuality and Gonorrhea‎ [331,267]
9. Homosexuality and Mental Health‎ [282,372]
10. Homosexuality and Syphilis‎ [265,250]

20 November 2007

Blogger, WordPress and LiveJournal

Today my Khanya blog on WordPress caught up with my Blogger one (this one) on Technorati. They are now running neck and neck with "authority" of 100, and a "rank" of 66360.

It's nearly five years since I started blogging on LiveJournal, with a post on Arthur Shearly Cripps and St Herman of Alaska.

I found LiveJournal interesting, with its "friends" system making it possible to share blogs with people of overlapping fields of interest. Actually it was more a journal than a blog, so the name LiveJournal was accurate.

Two years ago I discovered Blogger, almost by accident. It seemed more like a true blog, a web log, and what persuaded me to start using it was the "Blog this" feature, which made it easy to record and comment on memorable blog posts.

But quite soon after I started using it, a new and "improved" version of Blogger was introduced, in which most of the features that attracted me to Blogger in the first place no longer worked, including the "Blog this". And as functionality was reduced, more and more Blogger users migrated to WordPress.

Eventually in February this year I started a WordPress blog, called Khanya, as an experiment. It didn't seem to have many of the features I missed in the "new" Blogger, but it did have a "trackback" system for linking to other blogs, which worked (sometimes).

I found that if I wanted to blog on something in WordPress blogs, I used the WordPress one, and when I wanted to comment on Blogger blogs, I used the Blogger one, at least for the ones where the "Link to this post" feature was enabled. That was for more than straightforward comments, but rather a spin-off post inspired by an idea in another blog.

Now Blogger has improved, and most of the missing functionality is back. The "Blog this" feature has been improved, and now works with any web page, and not just Blogger blogs. The only thing missing, at least that I notice, is the "Search all blogs" link at the top of the Blogger page. But there is a workaround if one goes to Technorati.

But just at the point where Blogger has regained most of its missing features, my WordPress blog has overtaken my Blogger one, not only in Technorati links, but in page reads as well. The WordPress blog, Khanya, has caught up to this one in just eight months, in terms of "authority", and surpassed it in number of visitors. Has Google left it too late?


33 113 1,879
Notes from underground

26 91 1,425
Those are visitor figures for today (so far), yesterday, and for the month so far.

It's also interesting to see where visitors come from:


Num Perc. Country Name
drill down21653.07%United StatesUnited States
drill down4711.55%United KingdomUnited Kingdom
drill down4110.07%South AfricaSouth Africa
drill down194.67%CanadaCanada
drill down

Notes from underground:

Num Perc. Country Name
drill down20045.15%United StatesUnited States
drill down9020.32%South AfricaSouth Africa
drill down388.58%United KingdomUnited Kingdom
drill down235.19%CanadaCanada
drill down92.03%Korea, Republic OfKorea, Republic Of
drill down

Notes from underground (this blog) gets twice as many South African visitors than Khanya.

As for LiveJournal, responses in the form of comments have dwindled to almost nothing. I now use it mainly for personal stuff and family news and pictures.

19 November 2007

Dion's random ramblings: Some steps to follow if you're wanting to do a research Masters or Doctoral degree in South Africa.

Dion Forster posts some useful hints for people who are thinking of doing a postgraduate degree at a South African university.

Dion's random ramblings: Some steps to follow if you're wanting to do a research Masters or Doctoral degree in South Africa.: "There are many reasons why people wish to do senior degrees in South Africa. Foremost among them are that we have one of the highest standards of Graduate education in the world, whilst our prices for registration are among the lowest in the world."

18 November 2007

Christian responses to "Satanism" and journalists who write about it

Commercial pressure leads Rapport to scrap column : Mail & Guardian Online: "Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport has scrapped writer Deon Maas's column after his piece on satanism prejudiced the paper's commercial interests, its editor said on Thursday. Following the appearance of the opinion piece on November 4, readers started an SMS campaign calling for a boycott of sales on Sunday, said editor Tim du Plessis in a statement."

The controversy has spilled over into the blogosphere, but in the confusion the points made in the original article have been been lost.

In the original column Deon Maas wrote about a woman who was arrested for possession of heroin and cocaine, but found it disturbing that the police, after searching her bedroom, were now investigating her for Satanism, after finding Satanist documents written in blood, candles, human hair and more.

Maas notes that he had candles in his house, because of Eskom's lack of planning, and wondered why no one had informed the investigating officer that the constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Maas said that he himself was not religious, and that if he were in the market for a religion, Satanism would seem like too much effort, slaughtering peaceful domestic animals, and rising after midnight to practise your faith.

Maas also observes that the Satanist ethic of do to others what they do to you or before they do it to you might not go down too well among those raised in religions with an ethic of turning the other cheek, but that it sounds to him like standard behaviour in the business world of Johannesburg.

So why the storm of protest, threats of boycotts etc.?

What should a Christian response to Satanism be?

In the Christian understanding Satan is an over-zealous public prosecutor who got fired for exceeding his powers. He was the prosecutor in the heavenly court ("satan" is a noun rather than a name, an office; it means "accuser" or "adversary" as does the Greek diavolos, from which the English word "devil" is derived).

Like many human prosecutors, Satan wanted to up the conviction rate, thought the judge (God) was too soft on criminals (sinners) and thought it better that the innocent should be punished than that the guilty should escape (sound familiar?) He brought accusations against the high priest Joshua, representing God's people (Zechariah 3) which Christians see as typologically referring to Jesus ("Jesus" is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua). Jesus was found guilty in the magistrate's court (Annas and Caiaphas), and in the high court (Pilate), but in the supreme court of appeal (heaven) he was acquitted. Not only was the verdict reversed (guilty to innocent) but so was the sentence (death to resurrection). Satan not only lost his case but lost his job, and was thrown out of court (Revelation 12:7-12) and is going around looking for revenge.

Another image of Satan given in the Bible is of a concentration camp commandant. He has turned the whole world into a jail (Luke 11:14-26) but Jesus has come into the jail in the guise of a prisoner, tied up the chief warder, and smashed the gates, asks his followers to go around telling the prisoners that they are free.

That is a very brief and over-simplified account of the Christian understanding of Satan.

And if we look at things from that point of view, the last people Satan is going to be concerned with is Satanists. Far from trying to escape, the Satanists are in the prison voluntarily. Satan doesn't have to worry about them at all.

No, where Satan is most active is among the Christians, and in the churches. He's not worried about the volunteers, he's worried about the conscripts who have deserted. It's in the churches where we need to be concerned about satanic activity, because that is where Satan is most active. And the most characteristically satanic activity of all is the making of accusations, because Satan is, above all else, the Great Accuser.

17 November 2007

Shuck and Jive: Render to my ex-wife what is my ex-wife's...

This would be a worthy addition to the Synchroblog on The Church and money

Shuck and Jive: Render to my ex-wife what is my ex-wife's...
The estranged wife of a pastor claims her husband blended his professional and personal finances so thoroughly that his church should be counted as an asset in their divorce.

16 November 2007

Iraq troop withdrawals cut violence

In Basra, violence is a tenth of what it was before British pullback, general says - International Herald Tribune: "Attacks against British and Iraqi forces have plunged by 90 percent in southern Iraq since London withdrew its troops from the main city of Basra, the commander of British forces there said Thursday. The presence of British forces in downtown Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, was the single largest instigator of violence, Maj. Gen. Graham Binns told reporters Thursday on a visit to Baghdad's Green Zone. 'We thought, 'If 90 percent of the violence is directed at us, what would happen if we stepped back?'' Binns said."

So there's perhaps a great deal to be said for immediat withdrawal of all foreign occupation troops from Iraq.

15 November 2007

November Synchroblog: money and the church

The theme for this month's Synchroblog is Money and the Church.

I have posted my contribution this month at The Church and Money on my Khanya blog.

Here are the links to all the contributions:

The Check That Controls at Igneous Quill
Pushing The Camel: Why there might be more rich people in Heaven than in your local Church at Fernando's desk
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz at Hello Said Jenelle
Zaque at Johnny Beloved
Walking with the Camels at Calacirian
Greed and Bitterness: Why Nobody's Got it Right About Money and The Church at Phil Wyman's Square No More
Wealth Amidst Powers at Theocity
Money and the Church: A Fulltime Story at The Pursuit
But I Gave at Church at The Assembling of the Church
Moving Out of Jesus Neighborhood at Be the Revolution
Money and the Church: why the big fuss? at Mike's Musings
Coffee Hour Morality at One Hand Clapping
Bling Bling in the Holy of Holies at In Reba's World
Magazinial Outreach at Decompressing Faith
Money's too tight to mention at Out of the Cocoon
Bullshit at The Agent B Files
The Bourgeois Elephant in the Missional/Emergent Living Room at Headspace
When the Church Gives at Payneful Memories
Who, or What, Do You Worship at at Charis Shalom
Greed at Hollow Again
Silver and Gold Have We - Oops! at Subversive Influence
The Church and Money at Khanya
Tithe Schmithe at Discombobula

14 November 2007

Bottled water may threaten health

I've never understood why people bought plain bottled water where tap water is available (unless you live in Delmas, of course).

Sometimes I would stop at a garage, and people I was travelling with bought bottled water, and I would buy Coke or Mirinda or Sprite or something like that. Yes, I know it is only sugar and artificial flavouring, but I felt that at least there was some value added.

Then the bottled water people started adding flavours, and I tried a few. I like aQuelle naartjie flavour, and Selzer tangerine, and started to buy them, especially after the price dropped below that of Coke and such things. Selzer and aQuelle claim to be spring water rather than tap water, but a lot of the brands of bottled water are just plain tap water sold at vastly inflated prices.

And the thing that gets me is that a lot of people use that plain bottled water at home, on the table. It's much cheaper and less polluting when it comes straight out of the tap into a jug than putting it into plastic bottles that just get thrown away, and transporting it around the country on lorries.
clipped from www.iol.co.za
Consumers are waking up to some startling facts about buying water in bottles, the National Consumer Forum (NCF) said on Friday.

"Apart from being ripped off, consumers are also threatening their health and the environment," the NCF said.

In the United States, public pressure has been growing to force powerful corporations to disclose where their bottled water comes from, after research indicated that up to 40 percent of bottled water uses tap water as its source.

In the US, some consumers are already paying a 3 000 percent premium on water by buying it in bottles instead drinking it from their taps, the NCF said.

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13 November 2007

Free software to use after Windows reinstallation

I've saved this in case I ever have to reinstall Windows!

One day all software will be free, is the message at the top of the page, and the author created the page/site after reinstalling windows clean, and outfitting the system with free and open source software. He goes through his installation step by step, and there are user comments under his post, with feedback and other freeware suggestions by users.

Gparted screenshotDescription: I recently clean installed Windows XP on my laptop, and this meant that I had to re-install all the essential software that I use. It also presented an opportunity to write a posting about how you can outfit your computer with all the essential (and non-essential) software you need using strictly 100% freeware and/or open source titles.This posting could have been titled any of the following:

  • How to never use a paid program again (aside from Windows).
  • 53 essential freeware programs that can take care of the majority of your computing needs.
  • I am writing this from the perspective of myself clean-installing Windows and re-installing all the software I find to be essential afterwards. This post took a long time to write, please Digg and/or Stumble it ;).

    Pre-installation: before reformatting my hard drive, I used the following programs:

    1. Gparted Live CD
    Gparted screenshot
    2. Unstoppable Copier
    Unstoppable Copier Screenshot
    3. Amic Email Backup
    Amic Email Backup Screenshot
    4. DriverMax:
    5. Produkey
    Produkey Screenshot

    Post installation: now the fun begins.

    6. PC Decrapifier
    PC Decrapifier Screenshot
     blog it

    Claims mother died during Maori exorcism

    Claims mother died during Maori exorcism:
    "Claims a young New Zealand mother-of-two died as relatives tried to remove a Maori curse from her are being investigated by police. A homicide investigation is under way into the death of Janet Moses, 22, at a house at Wainuiomata near Wellington on October 12 as relatives looked on."

    Anglican Maori Church archdeacon Hone Kaa told the newspaper makutu-lifting ceremonies were often used to cleanse victims.

    The curse was believed to have been linked to a relative stealing a taonga.

    Dr Kaa said water was often used in such ceremonies, but not the amounts understood to have been involved in Ms Moses' case.

    He said lifting curses was a difficult process and was wary of doing it.

    In some cases victims needed to be held down by several people as the spirit fought, but he was not familiar with injuries such as scratches and grazes being inflicted.

    The Archdeacon does not say that this particular ceremony was an Anglican one. I wonder if they are done by other denominations.

    10 November 2007

    US quietly garrisons Africa

    In an ominous development, the USA has started establishing military bases in Africa.

    Why should they want to do that? Are they wanting to start wars here, as they have done in Europe and Asia?

    "With little scrutiny from Democrats in Congress and nary a whimper of protest from the liberal establishment, the United States will soon establish permanent military bases in sub-Saharan Africa," write Glover and Lee in The Nation. "An alarming step forward in the militarization of the African continent, the US Africa Command (Africom) will oversee all US military and security interests throughout the region, excluding Egypt."

    Several African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, and Libya, are opposed to Africom, and late Tuesday, West African military chiefs denounced the US approach to the project.

    Africom officials claim the project will strengthen humanitarian and peacekeeping operations and is not about building more US bases. But critics allege that it's a move to secure US access to natural resources and counter the growing Chinese presence across the continent. African nations supply the United States with more than 24 percent of its oil
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    08 November 2007

    Persecution and tradition

    Protestants often denounce "tradition" as something evil, and yet tradition is what keeps the church going in times of persecution.

    Hat tip to A conservative blog for peace

    In effect, among the victims of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, two thirds of the small but vibrant Japanese Catholic community disappeared in a single day. It was a community that was nearly wiped out twice in three centuries.
    In 1945, this was done through an act of war that was mysteriously focused on this city. Three centuries before, it was by a terrible persecution very similar to that of the Roman empire against the first Christians, with Nagasaki and its "hill of martyrs" again the epicenter.

    And yet, the Japanese Catholic community was able to recover from both of these tragedies. After the persecution in the seventeenth century, Christians kept their faith alive by passing it on from parents to children for two centuries, in the absence of bishops, priests, and sacraments.

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    In the Orthodox Church one saw the same thing in the same country, though in the far north. Fr Nikolai Kasatkin went to Japan in 1861, officially as chapl;ain to the Russian consulate at Hakodate, but in his heart as a missionary to proclaim the gospel of Christ to the Japanese people.

    He learnt the Japanese language, and gave lessons in Russian language and culture to Japanese who wanted to learn. As part of the lessons on Russian culture, he talked about the role of the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Christian faith in Russian history, culture and society.

    Some samurai (members of the military class) heard of this and one of them, Sawabe by name, went to see the Russian priest, accused him of "destroying Japanese culture", and threatened to kill him if he did not stop. Father Nikolai said, You have not heard what I have said to people. Should you not hear first, before making such accusations?

    Sawabe agreed to hear, and, having heard, brought two fellow samurai to hear, and became the first to ask to be baptised. But then the Japanese government began to clamp down on Christianity, and so the three scattered to their homes in the country, but as they went they told friends and family about what they heard, and soon there was a flourishing Japanese Orthodox Church. Father Nikolai returned to Russia where he was consecrated bishop and by his death in 1914 there were more than 20000 Orthodox Christians in Japan. He is now known as St Nicholas of Japan.

    His method of evangelism was simple, and was the same as that advocated by St Paul: "what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who wil be able to teach others" (II Tim 2:2). That is the essence of tradition (paradosis), and that is how the Church has been able to withstand and survive through persecution at many different times and places.

    06 November 2007

    Terrorist threat to UK

    Britain's MI5 chief recently said that several thousand young people in Britain were being recruited by terrorist organisations. A growing number of them are seriously considering the possibility of becoming suicide bombers.
    The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were justified.
    More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalised or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organised training events here and overseas, by images on television, through chat rooms and websites on the Internet.

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    One of the biggest recruiting factors is British foreign policy over the last few years. These young people can watch on TV and see the devastating effects of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and for many what begins as a burning sense of injustice ends in the despairing decision to become a suicide bomber.

    A very good analysis, with lots of links to sources, may be found at The People's Republic of Teeside: All apologies.


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