30 September 2008

Atheist irrationality and social blogrolling

Look Who's Irrational Now - WSJ.com:
The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

'What Americans Really Believe,' a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

Hat-tip to Stephen Murray.

I wouldn't really have paid much attention to this, were it not for the high proportion of militant atheists on Scoutle, a relatively new social blogrolling site that I've been trying out. As a result of that, I've seen an unusual number of atheists posts trumpeting about how rational they are, and how irrational everyone else is. An agnostic friend had a run-in with some of them about a year ago, and told me how irrational he found them, so there's not much new there. It's just interesting to see a bit of research backing up the anecdotal evidence.

As for Scoutle, well, it's an interesting blogging tool, and perhaps will improve once more people are using it and it has a bigger variety of members. The idea is that instead of going looking for interesting blogs on Google or Technorati or Amatomu and such sites, you send a "scout" out on Scoutle to go and do the looking for you. Your scout then presents you with a list of possibly interesting blogs, which you can then confirm or reject. I'm assuming that it learns from these confirmations and rejections and learns to revise its choices -- a bit like Stumble-Upon, only for blogs instead of ordinary web pages.

Though it has some quirks (like showing lots of militant atheist sites to a Christian blogger like me), I'm willing to give it a go because some of the other sites that are supposed to do something similar seem to have been misbehaving recently. , for example, has been quite slow. If you want to find out what they are saying in the blogosphere about Thabo Mbeki's ousting as president, you want to read it today, and not wait until Technorati gets round to pinging the blogs in two weeks time.

Another one that is disappointing recently is BlogExplosion. It is really a sort of manual version of Scoutle. You select a category of blogs you want to see, and a category of blogs you don't want to see, and it shows you the former and not the latter, and a few others thrown in for variety. In my case, I want to see blogs on books and literature, and don't want to see ones on business. But the last few times I've used it, it's shown me blogs on anything but books and literature, and very often repeats the same ones I saw last time, and worst of all, some of them haven't been updated since the last time I saw them. While you are looking at blogs on BlogExplosion, it shows your blog(s) to other people, so when I do that I try to do it just after I've posted new things on my blogs, so that the people who read them won't see the same old posts umpteen times. At least it gives you the option to say "don't show me this again".

As I said, Scoutle does much the same thing, but the process is automated. You don't have to go through five dull blogs to find one interesting one. Scoutle is supposed to find them for you. So if you've got an interesting blog, please join Scoutle now!

28 September 2008

Theological left? Theological right?

Yet another blogger has written about the "theological left" without explaining what it means. Bruce Alderman at it seems to me...: agenda-driven or christ-driven? quotes McIlWeb: Christology, Not Just Sex:
That said, in all honesty, it is my opinion that in recent years it has more often than not been the theological Left which has forgotten these truths. Many on the theological Left (not all) seem to be more agenda-driven than mission-driven, doctrine-driven, Scripture-driven, or Christ-driven. I believe the reason for this has to do with a failure to craft a Christology which is faithful to the authoritative truth of revealed Scripture and the Great Tradition of the Church, favoring other models with foundations that are less sure.

This time round I tried looking up "theological left" on Google, and the first page of hits told me that if I subscribed to their site they would tell me what it was about. I didn't bother to read further. I just wish that those who use such terms would say what they mean by them. As I said when A conservative blog for peace first drew my attention to the , which it claimed was able to measure where people are on a left right theological spectrum, it doesn't tell you which end of the spectrum is which. Which side of the petrol gauge points to "full" or "empty"? Is it left, right, or the excluded middle?

Any suggestions for determining where hamburgers fall on a left-right spectrum?

How about:

1) Does the hamburger have cheese in it?

2) Does it have a gherkin?

3) Does it have raw or cooked onions?

Once you have answered those questions, you will know by this infallible test whether the hamburger is on the culinary left or the culinary right. This I know because the Tmatt-trio tells me so.

27 September 2008

Interfaith synchroblog and forum

A group of us are planning to have a synchroblog on 8 October on the general topic "Interreligious dialogue".

If you would like to take part, just write a blog post on that day with your thoughts on interreligious dialogue, and, as soon as you have posted it, send me information about your post (see below) and add the list of other participants in the synchroblog to your post when the list is available. You should also tag your post with "metareligionrap" and a tag for your own religious (or irreligious) background, and post it to del.icio.us with those tags too. They will then appear on the Metareligion blog aggregator at http://religionrap.blogspot.com

I suggest that we post as follows:

People in North and South America post in the early morning
People in Europe and Africa post about noon
People in the Middle East, India etc post midafternoon
People in eastern Asia, Australia, New Zealand etc post in the evening

As soon as you have posted your contribution, copy the URL for your post from your browser and send it to me in an e-mail message in the following format

NA Poster's name
BL Poster's blog name
TI Title of your post
URL Url of your post
REL Your religious background
EM Your e-mail address

If you use that format -- with the preceding tags in capital letters followed by a single space, and each piece of information on a separate line (it can word-wrap), I will be able to import it straight into a database without re-typing, and produce a report with the HTML code for the links which can then be appended to your post. I will post them on my contribution, and the easiest thing will be to copy and paste them from there. But I will also send it by e-mail to all the registered contributors (to the e-mail address you provide, so don't munge it).

If you send it to me by e-mail at

shayes (at) dunelm.org.uk

it will avoid cluttering up the mailing lists with lots of messages about addresses and titles of blog posts.

We will discuss the Synchroblog post on the interfaith forum Religionrap

For what it's worth the membership of the interfaith list (Religionrap) is as follows (so far):

Pagan 53%
Christian 23%
Jewish 7%
Buddhist 7%
Other 7%

No Muslims or Hindus yet, it seems.

If you want to know more about the Religionrap discussion forum see Notes from underground: Interfaith dialogue and Religionrap.

26 September 2008

Threatfire antivirus?

My daughter has been having probelm with her computer crashing, and said she had tried a new antivirus program called Threatfire.

I downloaded it and tried it out -- installed it on my laptop -- and it slowed my computer down to a crawl, or actually brought it to a halt. The only way to get it moving again was actually to switch it off. It looks as though this program is not so much antivirus, but rather itself a virus. Has anyone used it successfully? Is there a trick to installing it, to get it to work?

I think I'm going to do a "system restore".

25 September 2008

Time to curb the ‘asset strippers and robbers’ who ruin the financial markets, say archbishops -Times Online

For more than thirty years the ideology of neoliberalism has spread throughout the world. It was enthusiastically propagated in the Reagan-Thatcher years and led to the mania for privatisation, which continues in South Africa and has led to the deterioration of our roads, the quality of our water, and many other things.

Church leaders have been slow to speak out about these things. It takes a well-publicised financial crisis to get people like the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury to start using words like "idolatry" when referring to it in public.

Time to curb the ‘asset strippers and robbers’ who ruin the financial markets, say archbishops -Times Online:
Leaders of the Church of England launched fierce attacks on the world’s stock market traders last night, condemning them as bank robbers and asset strippers and calling for a judicial review into Britain’s financial services.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York demanded stronger regulation and an end to speculation and living on debt.

Dr Rowan Williams spoke out in defence of Karl Marx, defending key aspects of his critique of capitalism and gave a warning that society was running the risk of idolatry in its relationship with wealth.

(Hat-tip to Fr David MacGregor)

The hidden and unintended consequences of the privatisation mania are now beginning to appear. Mutual building societies and insurance cooperatives went commercial, bribing thier members with "windfall" shares (actually, it was only part of their investment received in advance -- they were mortgaging their future value to external shareholders). Some of them, like the Old Mutual, continue to use the word "mutual" in their names, to deceive the public. The Old Mutual should actually be called the "New Commercial". One result of this can be seen in the collapse of Northern Rock in Britain.

Another unintended and unforeseen consequence of the privatisation mania can be seen in the deterioration of the quality of South Africa's water.

News - Environment: SA water quality is fast deteriorating:
South Africa's water quality is fast deteriorating but the shrinking scientific and engineering capacity to counter this is emerging as the 'real crisis' to strike the country.

This is according to Dr Anthony Turton, a senior water researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), who maintains that up to 50 percent of municipalities 'do not even have one qualified engineer' on their staff...

"The original work for that was done in the 1980s in massive programmes based at the CSIR," says Turton. "Those programmes generated many PhD graduates, but also did the primary science on which future management will be based.

"Those programmes are no longer in existence and this is a national crisis of note. We need to recover the bits and pieces we can and then develop new national capacity," says Turton...

"Nowhere else in the world is this happening so we cannot turn to other countries and say: 'Please help us'. We as a nation will be required to solve this problem as a nation. This is where national science councils come in. They are national assets, but the current funding models are so restrictive that their potential is being reduced and the capacity they have is being privatised."

The privatisation of national resources like the CSIR was begun under the National Party government in the 1980s, and has continued under the Thatcherist policies of the ANC. One of the reasons that our water supply has deteriorated under privatisation is that nobody stands to make a lot of money out of water research.

And only when it is actually staring them in the face do Christian leaders publicly speak out, and then mostly against the symptoms, not about the causes of the disease, which has been growing unchecked in the Western world since the 1980s, and metastatising throughout the world through globalisation.

24 September 2008

Atheist's bizarre attempt to convert Christian

One sometimes hears of fanatical Christians with over-enthusiastic in-your-face proselytising, but it seems that Christians don't have a monopoly. Atheists sometimes resort to such methods too.
clipped from www.eadt.co.uk
AN ATHEIST subjected a devout Christian woman to a “relentless” campaign of harassment in which he smeared dog faeces on her car and urinated on her doorstep.

Timothy Brown, of Edwin Avenue, Woodbridge, may seek medical help after a year-long bid to change Helen Watson's religious beliefs.
Brown, 37, who is married and has a child, pleaded guilty at South East Magistrates' Court in Ipswich yesterday to racially aggravated harassment between September 1, 2007, and September 10 this year.
The ordeal began in September last year after Mrs Watson had placed a religious fish sticker in her car.

After that point, she would regularly find that another sticker had been put on top of it with words such as “myth”, “deceived”, “sucker” and “fiction”, which she said were derogatory to her religious views.

blog it

Hmm, Clipmarks doesn't seem to work tto well. Let's try "Blog this":

EADT - Atheist's bizarre bid to convert Christian:
AN ATHEIST subjected a devout Christian woman to a “relentless” campaign of harassment in which he smeared dog faeces on her car and urinated on her doorstep.

Timothy Brown, of Edwin Avenue, Woodbridge, may seek medical help after a year-long bid to change Helen Watson's religious beliefs.

Brown, 37, who is married and has a child, pleaded guilty at South East Magistrates' Court in Ipswich yesterday to racially aggravated harassment between September 1, 2007, and September 10 this year.

Hat-tip to Solomon Hezekiah.

23 September 2008

Clash of civilizations redux

A new book on the role of the Orthodox Church in the new Russia seems to confirm Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis.

Garrard, J. and Garrard, C.: Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent: Faith and Power in the New Russia.:
In the new Russia, the former KGB who run the country--Vladimir Putin among them--proclaim the cross, not the hammer and sickle. Meanwhile, a majority of Russians now embrace the Orthodox faith with unprecedented fervor. The Garrards trace how Aleksy orchestrated this transformation, positioning his church to inherit power once held by the Communist Party and to become the dominant ethos of the military and government. They show how the revived church under Aleksy prevented mass violence during the post-Soviet turmoil, and how Aleksy astutely linked the church with the army and melded Russian patriotism and faith.

Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent argues that the West must come to grips with this complex and contradictory resurgence of the Orthodox faith, because it is the hidden force behind Russia's domestic and foreign policies today.
Thus far, however, all the glowing comments and reviews seem to be from Western scholars. It would be interesting to see what Orthodox scholars have to say about it.

Hat tip to Eastern Orthodox Librarian.

The phrase Old Masters is sexist, authors and students are told - Telegraph

You can't even take the mickey any more. Some sociologists seem determined to behave like caricatures of themselves. And yes, I checked, the newspaper was not dated April 1.

The phrase Old Masters is sexist, authors and students are told - Telegraph:
Publishers and universities are outlawing dozens of seemingly innocuous words in case they cause offence.

Banned phrases on the list, which was originally drawn up by sociologists, include Old Masters, which has been used for centuries to refer to great painters - almost all of whom were in fact male.

It is claimed that the term discriminates against women and should be replaced by 'classic artists'.

The list of banned words was written by the British Sociological Association, whose members include dozens of professors, lecturers and researchers.

The list of allegedly racist words includes immigrants, developing nations and black, while so-called 'disablist' terms include patient, the elderly and special needs.

It comes after one council outlawed the allegedly sexist phrase 'man on the street', and another banned staff from saying 'brainstorm' in case it offended people with epilepsy.

I am inclined to agree with another sociologist, Peter Berger, who described this kind of thing as "infantile misunderstandings masquerading as hermeneutics".

22 September 2008

I love your blog

Nemeton linked here saying "I love your blog".

I thought about this a couple of weeks beofre responding, and wondered which criteria I should use for blogs I love.

Finally I decided on three:

  1. Blogs I visit frequently because I enjoy reading them
  2. Belonging to bloggers who visit my blog
  3. And who send lots of visitors to my blog
And so here are the ones I love for those three reasons (in no particular order)

  • Again and again by Fr Milovan - an Orthodox blogger, who also sends large numbers of visitors to my other blog, Khanya -- more visitors came from his blog last month than from any other source.
  • Bishop Alan's Blog. An English Anglican bishop with lots of interesting, amusing and varied content.
  • A conservative blog for peace. Lots of links, mostly relating to war and peace, Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Churches, and libertarian politics, often with rather cryptic comments.
  • Nemeton. A Wiccan/Unitarian blog. We may disagree about theology, but the discussions are always interesting, and thanks for the link love.
Of course there are lots of other worthy blogs, but those are the top ones meeting all three of my criteria at the moment. The rules are:

Put the logo on your blog.
  1. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
  2. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
  3. Put links to those blogs on yours.
  4. Leave a message on the blogs nominated.

NB - it is not compulsory for nominees to also nominate blogs.

Mbeki: ‘Thank you and goodbye’

The Prez has gone.

President Thabo Mbeki resigned under pressure from his own party, after hanging on for nine months after he was replaced as ANC president at its conference at Polokwane last summer.

The Times - Mbeki: ‘Thank you and goodbye’:
Announcing his resignation as president last night, Mbeki defended his legacy, which suffered a major blow when a Pietermaritzburg High Court judge ruled that he and his cabinet had interfered with the work of the independent prosecuting authority.

'We have never done this and therefore never compromised the right of the NPA to decide whom it wished to prosecute or not to prosecute. This applies equally to the painful matter relating to the court proceedings against the president of the ANC, comrade Jacob Zuma,' Mbeki said.

Other bloggers have commented ad nauseam, so why am I adding my chirp? I suppose it's because of the reference to his legacy, and because the manner of his going is reminiscent of the departure of Tony Blair last year, which invites comparisons.

Thabo Mbeki and Tony Blair were pretty much political contemporaries, though in character they were very different. Tony Blair was more extrovert, Thabo Mbeki was always more taciturn. But they both dominated the politics of their countries from 1997-2007 -- though Mbeki only became president in 1999 he was nevertheless taking a more active role in the couple of years before that as Nelson Mandela neared retirement.

Both made an impact on foreign affairs, though in different ways. Tony Blair was a belligerent warmonger, and led his country into three foreign wars -- in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Thabo Mbeki was more of a peacemaker, trying to bring peace to troubled areas of the continent, though his extraordinary patience with dictators like Robert Mugabe did not seem to produce much fruit.

When I looked at the leaders of other countries, like George Bush and Tony Blair, I was glad we had Thabo Mbeki.

At home, however, he was far more ruthless, and just how ruthless is only now beginning to be revealed. He was ruthless in eliminating potential rivals -- like Tokyo Sexwale, Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma. When Sexwale and Ramaphosa abandoned politics for business I at first thought they were selling out, and showing that they were more concerned with making money than nation-building. But it now seems that they were keeping quiet out of loyalty to their ANC struggle comrades, and preferred not to cause a split. Only now has it been revealed to those outside the inner circle how they were forced out of politics.

One day historians will have to add up the pros and cons of Thabo Mbeki's legacy, but on the whole I'm inclined to be sympathetic.

For me the most memorable moment of his career, and perhaps symbolic of the positive aspect of it, was when he acted out of character, threw aside his usual taciturnity, and joined in the celebrations of South Africa's victory in the rugby world cup last year. The team hoisted him on their shoulders and that moment captured the best of his presidency and the best of South Africa and South Africa's hopes. I can't imagine the English team doing that to Gordon Brown if they had won.

It didn't last, of course. The rugby team came home to acrimonious in-fighting and the dismissal of the successful coach, and Thabo Mbeki came back to much the same thing. But whatever his faults, and they are many, history can't take that away from his legacy. It was a glimpse of what might have been, and in some sense still is.

21 September 2008

Anglican church linked to terrorism

No, we're not in a time warp, reporting on a speech from B.J. Vorster in the old South Africa. This one was from a UK TV network, which made the link to St Mary and St George Sands Church in High Wycombe.

Bishop Alan’s Blog: Keeping the Faith in High Wycombe:
SMSG featured on one UK TV news channel after the arrests of nearby alleged terrorists in 2006, as an extremist mosque! OK, it’s got a green dome. It’s also got a 9 ft Cross on top. You'd think that would be enough to make a UK TV editor question whether it really was a mosque but, er, you’d be wrong.
Just goes to show you can't believe everything you see on TV, especially when they're reporting on religion. A reminder, if one were needed that the media don't get religion.

20 September 2008

The moral high ground -- or is it?

After a long description of a Sarah Palin rally, Judith Warner closes her piece with

No Laughing Matter - Judith Warner - Domestic Disturbances - Opinion - New York Times Blog:
Jonathan Haidt, an associate professor of moral psychology at the University of Virginia, argues in an essay this month, “What Makes People Vote Republican?”, that it’s liberals, in fact, who are dangerously blind.

Haidt has conducted research in which liberals and conservatives were asked to project themselves into the minds of their opponents and answer questions about their moral reasoning. Conservatives, he said, prove quite adept at thinking like liberals, but liberals are consistently incapable of understanding the conservative point of view. “Liberals feel contempt for the conservative moral view, and that is very, very angering. Republicans are good at exploiting that anger,” he told me in a phone interview.

This has been picked up by several people who have blogged about it. or written about it on Usenet, and have quoted passages such as the following:

In several large internet surveys, my collaborators Jesse Graham, Brian Nosek and I have found that people who call themselves strongly liberal endorse statements related to the harm/care and fairness/reciprocity foundations, and they largely reject statements related to ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. People who call themselves strongly conservative, in contrast, endorse statements related to all five foundations more or less equally. (You can test yourself at www.YourMorals.org.) We think of the moral mind as being like an audio equalizer, with five slider switches for different parts of the moral spectrum. Democrats generally use a much smaller part of the spectrum than do Republicans. The resulting music may sound beautiful to other Democrats, but it sounds thin and incomplete to many of the swing voters that left the party in the 1980s, and whom the Democrats must recapture if they want to produce a lasting political realignment

So I went to the web site and did a couple of the tests.

I took the basic test to see what they were talking about, and I concluded that
their reasoning is dangerously flawed.

Their theory is that in all cultures morality is based on five factors:

Harm, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority and Purity

Their finding was that self-described liberals tended to rate the first two higher, and self-described conservatives tended to rate the last three higher.

My own score (I'm a self-described liberal) was somewhere in between on all points except the last (purity) where my score was higher than the average for both liberals and conservatives.

I disagree with the conclusion that the results show that conservatives have more empathy for liberals than liberals have for conservatives. I believe that is a false inference, because the test questions did not test for that kind of empathy.

A more valid inference would be that conservatives are more likely to be suckered into supporting totalitarian governments, like Communist and Nazi ones, because of the higher value placed on loyalty and authority. And that has been shown by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in South Africa.

If you regard respect for authority as very important in determining morality, and more important than not harming or fairness, then when deciding on whether or not it is right to exterminate Jews or Kulaks would depend on whether it was ordered by those in authority. One of the questions in the test was whether one thought it right to kill others if ordered to do so by someone in authority, so it is precisely this kind of thing that is being tested, and not empathy for supporters of the US Republican Party.

Fr Alexander Schmemann in his book For the Life of the world makes the same point, when he shows that obedience is not a virtue, because Adolf Eichmann, who sent a million Jews to their deaths in Nazi Germany, claimed as his justification that he was simply obeying orders. Fr Alexander pointed out that obedience is not a virtue, only obedience in love. I noticed that the morals test said nothing whatever about love.

The set of questions I answered appeared to be measuring how far people thought something was good because it was backed by authority.

Of course there are many different ways of looking at authority.

Jesus spoke with authority and not as the scribes. I take that to mean that his teaching was authoritative rather than authoritarian.

It is the same with a holy spiritual father who speaks with wisdom from above.

But it seemed to me that that was not what the questions were testing. Perhaps I misunderstood the questions, but if the questions are so easily misunderstood, it seems to put the validity of the test into question.

Not only do the conclusions not seem to be warranted by the data, but the data themselves are flawed, because the assumptions underlying the collection of data appear to be incomplete. Morality and its foundations are a lot more complex than Haidt and his colleagues seem to assume. The analogy with an audio equaliser is fundamentally flawed. It is not simply a matter of mixing five ingredients in the right proportions to achieve a good morality. As Fr Alexander Schmemann points out, obedience in itself is not a virtue. Obedience in love can be. I can't speak for others, but for Christians, love is the foundation of morality. Without it, I'm a clanging brass of a clashing cymbal. Bang goes the audio mix.

19 September 2008

Interfaith dialogue and Religionrap

About 10-15 years ago I belonged to the RELIGION conference on the RIME BBS network. It was an interesting forum where people of different religious backgrounds and traditions discussed various topics and learnt about each other's beliefs and practices.

BBS networks and forums began to die after 2000, partly because much of the software that made them so useful was not Y2K compatible, and there were bugs in the date format, and partly because Windows 95 and later versions hid the software one needed to access BBS networks.

But I still miss that forum.

There were interesting people there, like Deke Barker, Soonand Myosurus, John Eveland and many more.

Recently there has been a proposal for an interfaith synchroblog. That is OK, but it is not really the best medium for interfaith dialogue. In a blog individuals express their views, and people can respond to each individual by way of comments. But there is no real back-and-forth discussion.

A couple of us have therefore started an interfaith discussion forum, called Religionrap. I hope that if any of the people from the old RIME religion conference are around and see this, they may join in. I hope that the people who want an interfaith synchroblog will also join in -- after all, there has to be somewhere where one can discuss the topic for the next synchroblog, and some of the points raised in the synchroblog.

For anyone interested, the people who started it are me, Steve Hayes, an Orthodox Christian from South Africa, and Yvonne Aburrow, a Wiccan Unitarian from England. For the time being we are the moderators, to try to keep discussion civil.

Group Email Addresses

Or got to the web site at:


The Times - Let’s stay off Resentment Road

Jonathan Jansen writes about visiting Durban recently and finding that many of the streets had been renamed, and questions the wisdom of renaming places to commemorate political party hacks.

The Times - Let’s stay off Resentment Road:
Imagine, for example, naming a street after Julius Malema, the youthful idiot who found a way of remaining in the news by threatening to “eliminate” or “crush” the enemies of his campaign to seat Jacob Zuma in the presidency.

As the Sarah Palin of South African politics, he is a dangerous demagogue rescued from obscurity and not sure what to do with his new-found power other than display his limited vocabulary with words like “kill”. Apartheid taught him well.

I have to admit a certain amount of sympathy. I too visited Durban recently, and had the problem of finding myself in Problem Mkhize Road, and wondering what Problem Mkhize had done for Durban. Though I have to admit that I didn't really know what Mr Cowey (after whom the road was previously named) had done for Durban either.

One of the nice things about the 1990s was that after our first democratic elections a lot of places and buildings named after politicians got renamed with neutral names. The Marais Viljoen Building down the road from us was sensibly named Compensation House (it houses the offices of the Workmens Compensation Commissioner). The Hendrik Verwoerd Dam was renamed to something neutral. Jan Smuts Airport became the Johannesburg International Airport -- that was a bit silly, because it isn't in Johannesburg, it's in Ekurhuleni. Now it's the O.R. Tambo International Airport, so it doesn't really matter where it is.

I liked the idea of removing the names of politicians (especially living ones) from the names of places, because naming things after politicians smacks of totalitarianism to me. In Moscow, Kalinin Propekt is now Arbat again, and Kaliningrad is back to being Tver.

One of the last acts of the last Nationalist city council of Pretoria was to rename Kilnerton Road to C.R. Swart Drive. Part of it has been re-re-named back to Kilnerton Road, but the rest remains with the name of C.R. Swart. That, it seemed to me, was a calculated insult to black people. The Kilnerton Institute was a well-known educational institution in eastern Pretoria, run by the Methodist Church. Many black South African leaders received their education there. In the 1960s it was closed down as part of the ethnic cleansing that took place to implement apartheid, and renaming the road seemed to be a deliberate attempt to remove even its memory. C.R. Swart, however, was Minister of Justice in the 1950s, and presided over the introduction of some of the most oppressive and racist legislation ever to disgrace our statute book. I would not be at all sorry to see his Drive go.

I've got nothing against O.R. Tambo or Pixley ka Seme, or Rick Turner or Alan Paton. They were certainly not repulsive like C.R. Swart and worked for freedom and justice rather than to oppress people. But I wonder how happy they would have been to have things named after them?

But the Nationalist City Council of Pretoria has gone too. Pretoria joined with twelve other local authorities to become part of the megacity of Tshwane, and Pretoria no longer has its own city council; it is only part of a bigger city. There is now only the council of the City of Tshwane. I'm quite happy about that. Nobody seems to quite know who Tshwane was, except that he is said to have once lived in the area. That's a bit like Cowie's Hill. Unlike Mr Cowey of Cowey Road, Mr Cowie lived on his hill.

The amalgamation of municipalities and local authorities seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. As Jasper fforde, the author of the books about Thurday Next, the literary detective, points out, the Cheshire Cat of Lewis Carroll's Alice books is now the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat. And "City of Tshwane" is much easier to say than "Unity Authority of Warrington" or "Nelson Mandela Metropole".

Now suddenly we seem to be back to the 1950s, when the Nationalists were renaming everything after their party hacks. As Bob Dylan once sang, "Oh no, no no, I've been through this movie before."

17 September 2008

Western re-think on Caucasian war?

Are Western countries beginning to doubt the wisdom of their rush to support Georgia in last months Caucasian conflict?

Did Saakashvili Lie?: The West Begins to Doubt Georgian Leader - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International:
But now the volume is being turned down on the anti-Moscow rhetoric. Last week German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier publicly called for clarification on the question of who is to blame for the Caucasus war. 'We do need to know more about who bears what portion of the responsibility for the military escalation and to what extent,' Steinmeier told a meeting of Germany's more than 200 ambassadors in Berlin. The European Union, he said, must now 'define our relations with the parties to the conflict for the medium and long term,' and that the time has come to have concrete information.

If there is a re-think going on, however, the signs are very faint -- "nuanced" as they like to say in academia.

Der Spiegel reports

But now, five weeks after the end of the war in the Caucasus, the winds have shifted in America. Even Washington is beginning to suspect that Saakashvili, a friend and ally, could in fact be a gambler -- someone who triggered the bloody five-day war and then told the West bold-faced lies. "The concerns about Russia have remained," says Paul Sanders, an expert on Russia and the director of the conservative Nixon Center in Washington. His words reflect the continuing Western assessment that Russia's military act of revenge against the tiny Caucasus nation Georgia was disproportionate, that Moscow violated international law by recognizing the separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and, finally, that it used Georgia as a vehicle to showcase its imperial renaissance.

But there's no sign of any acknowledgement that Russia's response was no more "disproportionate" that Israel's attack on Lebanon in 2006, the US attacks on Iraq in 2003 and Yugoslavia in 1999, or the British attack on Argentina in 1982.

If Western hypocrisy is cracking, the cracks are still painted over.

Synchroblogs -- maturity and post-charismatic

The synchroblog phenomenon seems to be taking off.

It was started as a once-off thing by Phil Wyman and John Smulo in December 2006, when they proposed that a group of Christian bloggers, mostly with an interest in the "emerging church" movement, all blog on the same general topic on the same day, to compare and contrast different views. The topic of the first one was Syncretism.

Some people liked it, and agreed to continue to do a synchroblog once a month. This month's topic, published today, is "maturity" -- what it means to be adult. You can find my contribution at Adult content, with links to the other contributions -- there are nearly 20 contributions this month.

There is a mailing list for the regular participants in the synchroblog, where they discuss future topics, when they will post etc.

The idea seems to be catching on now.

There is at least one other Christian synchroblog, and next month they will be having a post-charismatic synchroblog. As Jonathan Stegall puts it

Should you be unaware of what a post-charismatic is, give the above blogs, as well as Mike Morrell’s, parts of this blog, and several others, a perusal. In any case, I had actually been planning to give an account of my first encounter with the Spirit. In the near future, I believe I will be telling my story, in a very broad way, for the people of Revolution.
If you're interested in that one, you can find more at robbymac: Getting Here From There (Synchro-blog Invitation)

There has also been a Pagan/Mythology Synchroblog, and several more. There's even a controversy about synchroblogs. To see just how popular it is becoming, check on Technorati for . You might be surprised.

15 September 2008

What a friend we have in Whatsisname

In the last two days I have been informed by BlogCatalog that four people have listed me as their "friend". I don't actually know any of them, and as far as I can tell (and Blog Catalog is supposed to tell you these things) not one of them has actually visited any of my blogs.

On BlogCatalog I am told I am a friend of 30 people, and probably about 20 of them I don't know at all, and they have never visited any of my blogs. By contrast, I have three people listed as my friends. Two of them I have met in the flesh, and the third, whom I haven't actually met, I have been communicating with on line for nearly 20 years.

BlogCatalog is a social blogrolling site; it is primarily a way of seeing who has visited your blog recently, and keeping track of the blogs of people you know. In that, it performs a useful function, but it gets a bit counterproductive when people add as "friends" people they don't know and who don't know them, and in whom they have no interest and with whom they have no desire to communicate.

Another similar social blogrolling site is MyBlogLog. Instead of "friends", they have "contacts", but the principle is the same, and so is the abuse. MyBlogLog allows you to categorise contancts into "Family", "Friends" and just "Contacts", but again, it really makes little sense to list as contacts people with whom you have no contact, and no desire to be in contact.

I list as "contacts" or "friends" only people I actually communicate with. At a minimum, I would say that they should have left at least three comments on my blog, and I should have left at least three comments on theirs. But preferably they should also be people I communicate with outside the blogosphere, either by e-mail or face to face.

Much the same sort of thing can be said of Twitter, where I am sometimes informed that someone new is "following" me, and when I have a look, I discover that that person is "following" (seems more like "stalking" to me) several thousand other people. Twitter isn't even a social blogrolling thing. It's where I let my wife know that I have or haven't bought black plastic rubbish bags at the supermarket so that she can know whether she does or doesn't need to get some on her way home from work. Actually, I have great difficulty in getting my wife or other members of my close family to read Twitter, so it seems that there isn't much point in it, and the only people reading it are people on the other side of the world whom I've never met, and am never likely to.

And to such people I would say, don't follow me on Twitter -- read my blog(s), and comment on them, then at least we'll be communicating. If you don't want to read my blogs, if you find them boring, or irrelevant to your interests, then there is no conceivable reason why you would want me as a friend or a contact.

My wife watched a TV programme a few months ago that mentioned that the average person knows about 1750 people in their life time. Out of curiosity I've tried to list all the people I've known to see if I can reach 1750. I've almost reached 500. It boggles the mind when people are apparently "following" over 8000 people on Twitter, or list over 8000 "contacts" or "friends" on social blogtolling sites.

One social commentator remarked that " The Rushdie affair showed how dangerous is the present stage of global development - a stage of communication without community". [1] But I think Anderson underestimated it. It certainly isn't community, and there doesn't seem to be much communication either. It seems that the more tools we have to communicate, the less communication actually takes place.

I've ranted about this before, so perhaps some people are finding it boring (another reason why you don't want me as your friend). So perhaps I should end this rant with something positive, some hints on how to get the best out of social blogrolling sites like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog:

  • Log in to social blogrolling sites you belong to, and don't log out. If you are logged out you won't show up on the widget on other people's blogs, so they won't know if you've visited and so are less likely to pay your blog a return visit.
  • Put the "Recent visitors" widget somewhere on your blog. Visitors can then find other blogs that they might find interesting, since if they are interested in your blog they will probably find the blogs of frequent visitors to your blog interesting as well.
  • List your interests ("tags" in MyBlogLog) so that others can find your blog more easily.
  • Don't list people as "friends" or "contacts" unless you actually know them and want to communicate with them. And above all don't list anyone as a friend if you haven't read their blog.


[1] Anderson, Walter Truett. 1990. Reality isn't what it used to be. San Francisco: Harper. Dewey: 909.82. Page 241.

13 September 2008

Antioch Abouna: The Monastic Call

Antioch Abouna writes about the place of monasticism in an age of secularisation:

Antioch Abouna: The Monastic Call: "In this new setting for monasticism the call of the angelic life has a profound opportunity and challenge. By its very distinctiveness and isolation from worldliness monasticism is presented with a renewed prophetic vocation by its ability to present a transformation of the common life in God. The city is now the desert where the spiritual meadow must bloom.

In short I think that monasticism will help to restore the credibility of Christianity again in the west. Familiarity with innocuous, adaptive heterodoxy, the bourgeoisification of the Christian tradition has bred a certain contempt and hardness of heart toward the gospel in our culture. Only an Orthodox Christian witness that is both radically obedient to God and warm in its love for Him will now make a difference."

12 September 2008

Chile's 9/11 terror.

Pete Grassow reminds us of another 9/11 anniversary.

Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow): Chile's 9/11 terror.:
Pinochet's memory still conjures up different meanings for different people. Some still view him as the leader who transformed Chile into a prosperous economy -- despite the human and social costs. But as Chile continues to prosper under democratic rule, Pinochet more likely will be remembered as a notorious symbol of repression, one that casts a shadow on the history of U.S. foreign policy.

While Pinochet's dictatorship at least brought some economic benefits, one cannot, unfortunately, say the same for his fellow-dictator Robert Mugabe.

11 September 2008

What's wrong with these pictures?

What is an ikon?

Is it religious art? Is it something meant to make church buildings look beautiful? Is it a visual aid, used for teaching?

In a sense ikons are all of these, but none of them captures the essence of what an ikon is.

Perhaps it is easier to see what an ikon is if we look at what an ikon is not.

Ad Orientem: What's wrong with this picture?

Yes. That's an Orthodox bishop in a Romanian Orthodox Church.

For the record, I have a rather high opinion of the late Pope. I am not unaware that he is widely regarded as a saint within the Roman Church. He may well be a saint. I don't decide those things. But I do know one thing. Neither he nor George H. W. Bush (a true gentleman and a better than average president), nor Mikhail Gorbachev were or are Orthodox. Two of the three depicted in iconography are still alive and one is I believe an avowed atheist!

Hat tip to Ken over at Hallowed Ground.

At least one can say that the figures in the pictures don't have haloes. That means they are not ikons, and one would not venerate them, even if they are in a church.

Here is a slightly different example. Some years ago a colleague of mine in the Missiology Department at the University of South Africa, Klippies Kritzinger, showed me a postcard with a picture of Steve Biko, painted in an icon style, and asked me, as an Orthodox Christian, what I thought of it. He also showed me a similar one of Gandhi. Both of them came from Bridge-Building Images, and there are several others available from that source (hat-tip to Book Reviews and More: Robert Lentz's Icons).

My answer was that I did not regard them as ikons. First because neither Steve Biko nor Gandhi were Orthodox Christians (Gandhi wasn't any kind of Christian). Secondly, because even if Steve Biko had been Orthodox, no Orthodox ikonographer would have painted him like that, with heavy prison bars in the background. If he had been Orthodox, and an ikon had been painted of him, then the prison bars would have been reduced, and he would probably have been showing either holding them, or with his hand resting upon them, to show that a martyr's death is a triumphant one.

This can be seen, for example, in ikons of St Catherine, who, it is said, was put to death on a wheel. She is shown with her hand resting on a wheel, not with the wheel dominating the background.

This is not to say that I don't think Gandhi and Steve Biko were good men. On the tomb of St Alphege of Canterbury, who was boned (rather than stoned) to death by heathen Danes, is the inscription "He who dies for truth and justice dies for Christ", and I think Gandhi and Steve Biko died for truth and justice, and the manner of Steve Biko's death was similar to that of St Alphege.

But that does not make the pictures of them Orthodox ikons.

My blogging friend Matt Stone writes quite a lot about Christian art, and gives many examples, including some examples of ikons. But many of the works he shows I wouldn't regard as ikons.

In my own writing I usually distinguish between "ikons" and "icons". Ikons with a "k" are Orthodox ikons, icons with c "c" are what you see and click on on your computer screen, or are celebs on steroids (often described as "iconic").

There is one more non-example of an ikon (or example of a non-ikon) that is perhaps worth mentioning. This one is supposed to be based on some famous painting, though I'm not sure which one. If anyone can tell me, I'll be grateful.

This too is not an ikon, but is rather a satire or parody of a religious picture, and is almost, in a sense a political cartoon. I'd say in belongs in the same genre as the pictures of the political figures in the Romanian Church, with the exception that those are admired, while this one is not.

If you'd like to know where we saw it, and how we came across it, you can read the story here.

See also Differences of Western religious art and Orthodox iconography.

Hey, I'm a sage!

it seems to me...: spiritual type posted a link to this quiz on What's Your Spiritual Type?

The quiz is meant to help you learn about yourself, see how you compare with others, and have a little fun.

I tried the test, and it tells me I'm a Sage (The other types are Prophet, Lover and Mystic).

You are a Sage, characterized by a thinking or head spirituality. You value responsibility, logic, and order. Maybe that's why you were voted "Most Dependable" by your high school classmates. Structure and organization are important to you. What would the world be like without you? Chaos, that's what! Your favorite words include should, ought, and be prepared. What makes you feel warm and fuzzy? Like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof it's tradition! tradition! tradition!

Because you love words, written or spoken, you enjoy a good lecture, serious discussions, and theological reflection. Prayer for you usually is verbal. You thrive on activity and gatherings of people, such as study groups. Sages on retreat likely would fill every day with planned activities, leaving little time for silence or solitude.

We need Sages for your clear thinking and orderly ways. You pay attention to details that others overlook. Sages make contributions to education, publishing, and theology. You often are the ones who feel a duty to serve, give, care, and share with the rest of us.

On the other hand, sometimes you seem unfeeling, too intellectual, or dry. Can you say "dogmatic"? You may need to experience the freedom of breaking a rule or two every now and then. God's grace covers Sages too, you know!

It's probably fairly accurate. I wonder if it correlates with being INTP on Myers-Briggs.

You can try it here.

10 September 2008

A plea bargain for Zuma?

Yesterday the media were reporting that Jacob Zuma's legal representatives and supporters were looking at the possibility of a plea bargain in his impending corruption trial. They spoke of this as a way of going forward.

It seems to me that that would be the worst possible outcome. As I understand it, a plea bargain means making a guilty plea in exchange for a reduced sentence. Far from being a way of going forward, it is a way of moving rapidly backwards. We then have the opportunity to vote for a party whose leader is not merely suspected of being corrupt, but one we know is corrupt because he himself would have admitted it.

If, on the other hand, Zuma is tried and acquitted, we can go forward into the next election, knowing that his record has been cleared. If he is tried and found guilty, and the court determines the degree of his guilt, then voters can weigh that up with other factors in deciding whether or not to vote for the ANC. But with a plea bargain, one cannot escape the suspicion that the corruption goes far deeper than anything that has been revealed up till now.

But the biggest problem is not Jacob Zuma and the unresolved accusations of corruption. Corrupt politicians are a universal problem. Most countries have them. One almost expects them to be corrupt, and encountering a politician with a degree of integrity is a pleasant surprise.

No, what threatens our infant democracy is not Jacob Zuma and the suspicion of corruption. It is rather the attitude of some of his supporters. As one columnist has put it:

The Times - If Vavi is so concerned about SA he should allow us justice:
CONGRESS of SA Trade Unions secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi has me confused.

Last week he told us that the union federation is deeply concerned that if ANC president Jacob Zuma is brought to trial, then workers would plunge the country into chaos.

The only way to prevent this chaos, he told us, would be to dump the looming trial against Zuma.

He said: “We fear what could happen should something happen to him [Zuma]. The belief among workers and South Africans — that the ANC president is a target of machinations, runs very deep."

This is shocking and preposterous blackmail by Vavi.

There is zero evidence that “workers” are angry that Zuma is facing the music, as any ordinary citizens would do, if there were such serious allegations against them.

Protests held to drum up support for Zuma (such as the marches on KwaZulu-Natal courts on Friday), draw pathetic responses.

The two persons who have threatened violence if Zuma is not let off are Vavi himself and the ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
So one is left wondering what revelations Cosatu has to fear from a Zuma trial that makes them so anxious to prevent it.

One of the problems in South African politics over the last few years is that there is so little choice. That may seem a strange thing to say when our elections have been contested by upwards of 20 parties, and we have a system of proportional representation, so that for the first year or two after the election we have a parliament that generally reflects the will of the people (that is, until the crosstitutes start their floor crossing, after which parliament represents no one but the politcians themselves -- that is a corruption that has to be weighed against any possible corruption of Zuma).

But the fact is that Cosatu represents one political force that is not represented in parliament. If it were not part of the tripartite alliance with the ANC and the Communist Party, Cosatu could serve as a counterbalance to the Thatcherism of the ANC and its policies of Black Elite Enrichment (BEE), on the one hand, and the white racism of the Democratic Alliance on the other. Cosatu could be the voice of the working class and the poor.

But now that Jacob Zuma has become president of the ANC, in part with the support of Cosatu, one is not quite sure whether Cosatu thinks it has bought Zuma, or whether it has sold out to him. Before last December, if Cosatu had stood on a separate ticket I might have voted for them, but Vavi's utterances since then have shown that that would have been a mistake.

I think I'll stick with Patricia de Lille and the Independent Democrats.

08 September 2008

Memoirs of a Neophyte: The 2008 South Ossetia War: A Guide

Memoirs of a Neophyte: The 2008 South Ossetia War: A Guide: "There are two basic facts to keep in mind about the smokin' little war in Ossetia:

1. The Georgians started it.

2. They lost.


They were doing something they learned from Bush and Cheney: sticking to best-case scenarios, positive thinking. The Georgian plan was classic shock’n’awe with no hard, grown-up thinking about the long term. Their shiny new army would go in, zap the South Ossetians while they were on a peace hangover (the worst kind), and then…uh, they’d be welcomed as liberators? Sure, just like we were in Iraq. Man, you pay a price for believing in Bush."

Palin, Pentecostals, and Pacifism

Sub Ratione Dei has some interesting quotes and comments on how Pentecostalism seems to have changed over the last 80 years.

Palin, Pentecostals, and Pacifism:
It is true that there are exceptions such as the excellent Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship but it is revealing to note that in the space of one century the predominant, and nigh on exclusive view, has turned from pacifism to holy war (I don’t see how Palin’s remarks can be interpreted in any other way).

When it started, Pentecostalism was pretty countercultural, and sociologists noted that it tended to attract marginalised people. As time has passed, however, it has tended to become more respectable, and this seems to have been accompanied by a move to the right, politically. I wonder if this change in outlook was, consciously or unconsciously, part of an attempt to become more accepted and acceptable in society?

Now, however, there seems to be a strange inversion. On a pagan newsgroup someone said of Sarah Palin, "Since she an 'pro life' anti - abortionist i assume she also favors the death penalty."

Why should it be possible to assume that?

In another forum someone accused Sarah Palin of being a "Jesus Freak". My initial response was, "She's too young". The Jesus Freaks appeared on the scene 40 years ago as the evangelical Christian arm of the hippie movement. Hippies were called "freaks" by straight society, as an insult, but the hippies adopted the term as a badge of honour, and the Christian hippies were likewise nicknamed "Jesus Freaks", and were distinctly countercultural.

But to return to the specific question -- why is it that 80 years ago one could expect Pentecostals to be inclined to pacifism, but now people can safely assume that they will be warmongers, and that the only life they are pro is unborn humans?

If you look at the bottom of this blog, you will see that it is part of the Christian peacemakers blog ring. That means there should be a post on the topic of peace once a month, and this is it.

06 September 2008

Do Americans live in an alternative reality?

Perhaps I should have got used to it by now, but I am still sometimes astonished by American arrogance and ignorance.

An apparently serious article, in an apparently serious publication, has the heading "Russia is still Third World". How can one take seriously anything written by anyone who displays such appalling ignorance?

Today in Investor's Business Daily stock analysis and business news:

In Long Run, Russia Is Still Third World


Posted 9/5/2008

I was in Moscow just before the collapse of the Soviet Union and spent most of three days at the Russian Parliament building, watching as Boris Yeltsin, standing atop a tank, rallied thousands of fellow Russians to defend their emerging democracy against a then-in-progress coup attempt by Soviet hard-liners.

One can only assume that the writer arrived in Russia from another planet, from another galaxy, another universe, or an alternative reality.

Russia was never a Third World country.

The author witnessed one of the events that marked the end of the Cold War, but seems to be unaware of what the Cold War was all about.

The Cold War was between the West (First World) on the one side, and the East (Second World) on the other.

The "Third World" comprised those countries that were neutral in the Cold War. They refused to take sides, and were prepared to do business with both sides (sometimes playing one against the other to gain the advantage). The Third World, also known as the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) or the Afro-Asian Bloc, was founded by India, Indonesia and Yugoslavia.

Russia, on the other hand, was at that time part of the USSR, and was in fact the dominant country in the USSR, which was the leader of the Second World.

Now it seems that the media in both Russia and the USA are determined to fan the embers of the Cold War into a flame again, and so perhaps people like Ebeling are not so much ignorant as disingenuous, and are simply writing to confuse people about recent history in order to pave the way for another nuclear stand-off.

So perhaps it is time to recall the Cold War. Do we really want to return to those days?

The day God gave thee, man, is ending
The darkness falls at thy behest
Who spent thy little life defending
From conquest by the East, the West.

The sun that bids us live is waking
Behind the cloud that bids us die
And in the murk fresh minds are making
New plans to blow us all sky-high.

Jean Charles de Menezes Inquest

Justice for Jean has set up a blog to raise public awareness of the forthcoming inquest on the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent commuter who was shot as a suspected terrorist by officers of London's Metropolitan Police as he boarded a train three years ago.

Jean Charles de Menezes Inquest:

* We know that the IPCC “Stockwell 1” investigation raised grave concerns about the effectiveness of the police response on 22 July 2005, not only the risk of an entirely innocent member of the public being killed “but also whether the police response would stop a terrorist who was intent on causing harm.”

* We know that the Old Bailey jury at the trial into breaches of the Health and Safety Act found that Scotland Yard commanders had made a string of errors that culminated in an unwarranted risk to the public and ultimately to Jean’s death.

Hat tip to Nemeton.

05 September 2008

Technorati kaput?

Quite soon after I started blogging I found Technorati, which was a fairly useful guide to what was going on in the blogosphere.

But I was away for a couple of weeks and came back to find that it is apparently no longer working. My internet access was fairly patchy while I was away, but I did update my blogs a few times, and also pinged them on Technorati. But when I got back, it seems that the pings hadn't "taken".

Welcome back, hayesstw! When you update your blog let us know with a ping.

The thing about wanting to know what is going on in the blogosphere is that one usually wants to know what is happening NOW, not what was going on a couple of weeks ago.

Has anyone else noticed this with Technorati?

Technorati tags: , ,

Square No More: Next SynchroBlog - Sept 17th - on Maturity

Square No More: Next SynchroBlog - Sept 17th - on Maturity: "The next posting for our SynchroBlog event will be September 17th, and the subject is Maturity.

September 17th SynchroBlog - Discussing Maturity in the Light of our Faith"

Americans whinge about proposed Internet bandwidth cap

For the first time ever, it seems American ISPs are thinking of implementing bandwidth caps to curtail Internet usage, and many users are up in arms about it.

But Comcast's mooted 250 Gig cap seems infinitely generous compared with Telkom's 3 Gig monthly maximum, and anything else one has to pay extra for.

The era of unlimited Internet usage for a flat monthly price is one step closer to its end, as cable giant Comcast officially announced today that residential subscribers would top out at 250 gigabytes (GB) per month of data bandwith availability, beginning October 1.
Critics of metered broadband say that the plans offer too little bandwith for too high a price. Customers will shy away from using high-speed Internet's full potential, such as uploading or streaming videos, if they are afraid of going over their limits in doing so, and that companies who are supporting metered plans do so to protect their own video channels and hamstring competitors such as YouTube.

blog it

For a long time I've been annoyed by URL-only posts on Usenet newsgroups, and sometimes respond to them with a URL-only reply, to explain why I find them annoying. I never even try to look at You-Tube or other streaming video, I get annoyed with too many unnecessary graphics on web sites, and blogs that play music on all posts. Even with this, I find that I often run out of bandwidth before the end of the month, and have to pay extra to retain access.

If Telkom offered 250 Gig, most South Africans would be delirious with joy.


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