Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Winter Lunch in Sydney

Doyles-on-the-beach at Watson Bay have a fantastic
winter-special fish and chips with chowder soup and a glass of wine for 23.90

Today we went with our friends Trish and Ernie and Rob and Janene and Paula who with Alan has been to Narooma. Paula is famous for getting a posed shot of Bill Connolly when he was at Bermagui filming "The man who sued God" - he very charmingly said "as long as it is for personal use only".

And Ernie took a group shot - that's Trish on right next to me and then Rob across from Janene and Chris and Paula

Last week we were freezing and today in the last week of the winter special it was up around 27c. Wonderful sunny day - I took a coat but just carried it. We went by ferry from Meadowbank to Circular Quay and I was surprised that the Supercat from Quay to Watson Bay was only 17 minutes.

The food etc was superb.

And Lo and Behold Clive James appeared for lunch - he had a film crew so perhaps he was interviewing or a doco on winter special lunches

Click above for the few photos I took. Trish will have some better ones. But mine show the wonderful day and the trip back around 4pm still warm - what will Summer be like!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The triumph of the airheads

I just finished reading
The triumph of the airheads : and the retreat from commonsense / by Shelley Gare

A great Australian book on the nonsense in our modern world. Very broad ranging covers a lot of issues.
SMH an overview
The Australian has Shelley's blog
also an extract)


Some quotes:

George Bush re wire tapping "Half the time they say I am isolated and don't listen. Then when I do listen they say I need a warrant." Shelley recalls Hurricane Katrina and I guess that is when my "respect" for George started to erode. How could he go on a vacation! Where were the helicopters to move people away from that Superdome?

A few years ago I remember spam email offering a "Paris Hilton Video" which I guessed was something filmed secretly at a hotel in France. I just did not know there was a young woman of that name. Now I keep hearing about her and her strange clique. And as you might expect Shelley devotes a lot of her exploration of Airheads to folk like Paris - one item being a quote from Naomi Wolf via Vanity Fair.

" It's almost like white noise in an overstimulated environment. Paris Hilton is like a palate cleanser. She's like, as semiotics would say, an empty signifier, so you can project absolutely anything onto her, which is the perfect situation for branding." (more here).
Shelley remarks "Now we take Paris more seriously than she takes herself"

Shelley mentions the great Ray Bradbury book
Fahrenheit 451- "but that nowadays there is no need to burn the books if no one can read them" and just today Sky News reported a survey that something like 25% of Americans had not touched any book in a year!

Do make Airheads one of the books you try. Warning No Solutions are offered!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Yum Cha and the election

Well I have been reading that Maxine has 47% of Bennelong and John only 44%. This based on a survey of 800 locals. I note that last election the Christian Democrat preferences got John over the line.

Anyhow Brendan and Ron went to Eastwood for Yum Cha today. As always the old Commbank building was absolutely packed. But what shook me was that the walls were covered with ALP posters - we were surrounded with large portraits of Maxine and Kev. I have never known a restaurant to do that before - I mean really support one side in an election.

Just finishing a BBQ pork bun and in came a party of folk with Maxine - they sat a couple of tables away. Will John be there tomorrow? He has a office outside in the Mall - presumably just for the election.

And a story hot from the ABC Howard outlines fifth term plan in which it says
"New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma says Mr Howard is simply electioneering by threatening more federal takeovers of state responsibilities." After the local council turn around in Queensland it sounds like a good idea.

The restaurant posters say "Maxine a strong voice for Bennelong". Can she get the Premier to stop the plan to make motorists use the Lane Cove Tunnel by chopping off lanes on Epping Road? What will she do for Bennelong?

Now Kev - 2 headlines I saw today

Rudd announces hospital takeover plan - Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has signalled that a federal Labor government would be prepared to take over the running of hospitals from the states.

Tas hospital takeover an election stunt: Rudd - The Federal Opposition has accused the Howard Government of cherry picking electorally important hospitals for funding, rather than dealing with the broader issue of health spending.

One person's policy is another person's stunt!

One qoute: Queensland Premier Peter Beattie praised Mr Rudd's plan in State Parliament.
"It's the sort of thing that the Queensland Government has been demanding for years," he said.

I bet if Howard rather than Rudd - it would be "they are taking us over" .

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Alternative Gospels

Recently I have read two books on what might be termed Alternative Gospels.

Have just finished
The lost gospel : the quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot by Herbert Krosney.
Click image for some detail and visit the Wiki Article

I thought the book was comments on the content and of the Judas codex but instead it was an adventure story about how it was found and finally got to be published. The book keeps declaring the codex to be a most important document especially as it turns our ideas of Jesus and Judas upside down or something like that.

Following the book along it details some Egyptians involved in its discovery. Except what is said about is vague and it says false names are used. So are these details correct?

Then the main Egyptian dealer puts the codex in a safe deposit box somewhere in a suburb along the Long Island turnpike. He leaves it there for 16 years. Basically the events described become like a farce and the people involved treat the codex quite strangely for something they describe as so earth shattering. The codex falls apart over the time its floating around amongst all these dealers etc. Finally in the last couple of chapters the codex gets put back together - however some of it is still "lost".

The early Christian writer Irenaeus comdemned the Gospel of Judas as a fraud and heresy. He was talking about a book in Greek. This codex is in Coptic - ah they say it is a translation. But even if it is the book Irenaeus meant then it is still a fraud and a heresy. The Bible is clear that Judas died soon after he betrayed Jesus - so how were the details in the book passed on? The Bible is also clear that Jesus knew what Judas was doing but does not indicate that Judas was given the task - it was rather that his own nature took him along that sad path.

This book is not earth shattering - we could do without it.

Further November 2007
Rice University professor debunks National Geographic translation of Gospel of Judas
April DeConick contends that the Gospel of Judas is not about a "good" Judas or even a "poor old" Judas. It is a gospel parody about a "demon" Judas written by a particular group of Gnostic Christians who lived in the second century.

and more on how Judas written in the "gospel" as "daimon" was translated initially as spirit rather than demon see Judas is a 'demon' in new read of gospel

Yes that's right we don't need it

Now previously I read The missing Gospels : unearthing the truth behind alternative Christianities by Darrell Bock.

An excellent detailed overview of the texts found at Nag Hammadi in 1945 . These texts are some of the material used in the Da Vinci Code and some other books as examples of early Christian thought that is different to now and that the Church destroyed these other ideas which were really viable Christian alternatives. Darrell shows that these ideas were not in main stream Christianity at all. They were not there at the beginning and were later concepts from people who were trying to change things.
The Alternative Christianity is not Christianity and
are not worth the re-discovery - so whether it is the Gospel of Judas or Thomas or Philip etc - ignore it - stay with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Please visit Ron's Faith page

Safari vs Firefox versus MAC

Now that I have a Macbook I started to look at using Apple's Safari browser.

It is reputed to be fast. So I might use for some things. It seemed to handle banking aok.

However I tried to write a blog and found that the edit page only had 2 of the icon functions I get with firefox when using Blogger!!! Just the image and ABC functions

So on a Mac you do need both browsers

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Do we offend Muslims?

I think this Slate article offers some good points re causing offence

Here is Daniel Pipes on the various head garments for Muslim women
  • These are the four
  • The hijab (a hair-covering)
  • The jilbab (a garment that leaves only the face and hands exposed)
  • The niqab (a total covering except for the eyes)
  • The burqa (a total head and body covering)
I have been amazed at women who convert to Islam and this program may have some clues. SBS TV August 2007 will air "Margie (Connor) demystifies Islam on the small screen" a woman from Victoria becomes a Muslim.

Then there is this woman
Ayaan Hirsi Ali » The western world would be wise to recognize the realities of Islam, a religion laid down in writing over a millennium ago with violence and oppression at its heart.

Matt Jones on Blogging-the-Quran which may help with understanding Islam

Actually the blog is on Hotair so perhaps visit them Hot-air-introduces-blogging-the-Quran

But how come you can come to an understanding with people who have the following aims?
Indonesian group rallies for world Islamic rule More than 70,000 members of a Muslim group have held a rally in Indonesia calling for a caliphate - or Islamic rule - to govern the world. The supporters of the Hizbut Tahrir group filled up most of an 80,000-seat sports stadium in the capital Jakarta, waving flags as they heard speeches saying it was "time for the caliphate to reign".

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

General Custer and Errol Flynn and soldiers in battle

Recently re-watched Errol Flynn as Custer see

Always like an Errol Flynn movie - what a great Robin Hood and his exciting "The Charge of the Light Brigade". But strangely all these films were historical nonsense. The Wiki article recounts what was wrong with the Custer film. Although I do think the section on the Civil War was fairly on the ball - he did succeed because he was flamboyant.

Last year I saw Battlefield Detectives on the Archaeology of the Custer Little Big Horn battle and also read
Legend into history ; and, Did Custer disobey orders at the Battle of the Little / Kuhlman, Charles, 1872-1959. which discussed the topography of the battle in great detail. No I don't think Custer disobeyed orders. He would have been expected to attack if he came across the Indians. He just did not realise how many there were.

This is a great narrative on Custer and the course of the Battle


Note in the Flynn film the Indians make a final charge on mass across the circle of Custer's men. It did not happen. I remember seeing that "clip" from the film being used in other films. One was in colour and the battle was being looked at through a telescope which showed the old "clip" in B&W - I was most amused - I did not know telescopes did that......

Years ago I remember reading that the Indians had better rifles than the Cavalry. One surviving officer recounting that his saddle was struck by a bullet even though as far as he was concerned the Indian who fired was out of range of the Cavalry's carbines.

Yet the modern data is the single shot Springfield carbines did out range the Winchester repeating rifles that many Indians had. Perhaps the officer was mistaken and the Indian who fired at him had a longer range Sharps. Yet the article above credits the Winchester with greater range than the following articles which seem to me to be fairly definitive on the weapons and their effectiveness


The first also goes into the confusion and chaos of battle and how reluctant men are to kill even the enemy. It contains comments on the Battle of Gettysburg - in which it well known weapons were found after the battle which had been reloaded on top of undischarged rounds. The soldiers concerned did not even know their weapons had not fired and loaded again.

As I was composing this blog - our friend Neil published a general comment on war

His source continues the point that soldiers don't really want to shoot and kill.

So Big Horn - Custer split his force and attacked an overwhelming number of Indians who were armed with rifles that could hurt his force. Custer's 7th Cavalry was not the elite highly trained force that Flynn's film implied. There is a strange comment on one of sites that the Springfield which was a single shot with a funny find of extractor ejector could with training be fired at 15 shots a minute - I find that hard to believe and the number of rounds found by archaeologists around the firing positions does not bear that out. The Cavalry did take up their planned firing lines - not a mass group altogether as in the Flynn film. But I think it was more individual fire not the controlled volleys the British used so effectively say at Rorke's Drift as seen in the Zulu film see Zulu: The True Story

The British won the Battle of Quebec because their training enabled musket fire at three shots a minute versus the two of the French army. Soldiers have to be trained to fire fast - it is the number of shots that decide battles.

A classic film "The Three Feathers" had a nonsense re Kitchener at the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan. (Sudan was a problem a 100 years ago and still is). Kitchener says the immortal words 'Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes". In fact the British rifles at that time were effective at a long range and they were killing the enemy horsemen when they were over 1000 yards. If Custer's men had had such weapons and training they would most likely have won. But their government armed them with a cheap single shot carbine so as to save money on ammunition. The Americans obviously do not make that kind of mistake nowadays.

Farewell Michelangelo Antonioni

Wrote the blog on Ingmar and then next day found that the great Italian film man died with hours of Ingmar.


Michelangelo made films that were difficult to understand BUT they were sure interesting. Monica Vitti was so good in the first films of his that I saw.

Then he was making films using English players. "Blow-up" had so much strange stuff. Was there a murder? and the ending with David Hemmings picking up the "imaginary" ball to throw back to the people miming a tennis match. Zabriskie Point I was completely at sea - what was it about but the scenery.