Archive for February, 2006

Posted on February 2, 2006 in Science by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish5 Comments »

I have to thank Irregular Times for bringing me this long overdue, coherant argument against evolution from South Carolina’s Governor, Republican Mark Sanford. Promoting the teaching of Christian intelligent design theology in public schools, he declared, “There are real chinks in the armor of evolution being the only way we came about.”

And what about those ‘chinks’? In Sanford’s own words:

“The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics, which is the law of, in essence, destruction.”

And he is, of course, absolutely right if you can work out what the hell it is he is saying in the first place. At least I’m pretty sure my mum wasn’t a mosquito.

Posted on February 2, 2006 in Religion by Andy @ Yellow SwordfishComments Off

Here are a few choice quotes for you to consider:

“Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman”
- St. Clement of Alexandria – 2nd Century

“Woman is a temple built upon a sewer”
- Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius – 6th Century

“To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure”
- St. Odo of Cluny – 10th Century

“Nothing deficient or defective should have been produced in the first establishment of things; so women should not have been produced then”
- St. Thomas Aquinas – 13th Century

“If women become tired or even die that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth – that is why they are here”
- Martin Luther – 16th Century

“Girls begin to talk and stand on their feet sooner than boys because weeds always grow up more quickly than good crops”
- Martin Luther – 16th Century

There are countless quotations like these but the point is made. 3 Christian saints. 1 Christian philosopher and the founder of the Christian Protestant movement. Is it any wonder that when the Catholic Inquisition started to wind down having tortured and murdered thousands of victims – often just to line the pockets of the Church – and having found the authority of the Church still unaccepted amongst the common people, that the witch hunts began? And while the demonising of ‘witches’ was not gender specific, is it any wonder that the vast majority of those accused, tortured and burnt alive were women?

I am aware that the modern, neopagan sect of Wicca is not truly a full descendant of middle ages thinking and ritual but it does borrow heavily from pre-Chrsitian traditions. It is certainly anathema to modern Christianity, especially Catholicism and the fundamentalist movement as witnessed in the USA.

So I was somewhat surprised to learn (Religious Identification In The U.S.) that:

  1. 76.5% (159 million) of Americans identify themselves as Christian. This is a major slide from 86.2% in 1990. Identification with Christianity has suffered a loss of 9.7 percentage points in 11 years – about 0.9 percentage points per year. If this trend continues, then by about the year 2042, non-Christians will outnumber the Christians in the U.S.
  2. The fastest growing religion (in terms of percentage) is Wicca – a Neopagan religion that is sometimes referred to as Witchcraft. Numbers of adherents went from 8,000 in 1990 to 134,000 in 2001. Their numbers of adherents are doubling about every 30 months.

Good luck to them is what I say. But they also need to be careful. With the current fundamentalist and jingoistic Christian mania sweeping the States my bet is there are quite a few with a spare box of matches who are only waiting for the likes of Pat Robertson to say the word!

Posted on February 2, 2006 in NFL by Andy @ Yellow SwordfishComments Off

Back in November in an item entitled Superbowl XI – Another Dubious Prediction, I incorrectly suggested that the Indianapolis Colts would meet the Seattle Seahawks in this years Superbowl. Well to get one of them right is a bonus for me although had I put money on one of these teams at the time, me, and I suspect a whole lot of others, would have bet on the Colts being there. Which would have been a big mistake as the Colts blew up at the end – as they did last season in fact.

I don’t know what their problem was as they looked invincible right up to the end but I suspect rather than losing their ability to win it was more that their opponents in the last two or three games stepped up their gameplay. The Pittsburgh Steelers, the other Superbowl contenders and slayer of the Colts, played flawlessly and despite being a wild card team, look the stronger to take the prize.

So that’s my prediction. The Steelers. If nothing else because I’m rooting for the Seahawks! So I hope I’m wrong.

On an NFL related note, and being firstly an Oakland Raiders supporter, I was intrigued to see that Mike Martz interviewed for the head coach job although subsequently seems destined for Detroit. I am not a Martz fan but he is one man who does seem to have a quite unique approach to play-calling. I actually think he would have been a good fit for the Raiders and for Al Davis. Another opportunity missed.

Posted on February 2, 2006 in The Web by Andy @ Yellow SwordfishComments Off

I’ve not been writing much these last few days as I have been preparing my site for the release of WordPress version 2.0.1 which happened yesterday. I have been getting some of my in-line code out into callable and reusable functions and, being fortunate enough to run a local test server, have been testing it with all the plugins that I use. I have been lucky as everything appears to work and I have now fully upgraded.

But leafing through the support forum it is obvious that not everyone is that fortunate. They have upgraded their main site – because it is recomended – only to find that some third-party plugin code crashes the whole thing and has to be turned off. This can often then cause it’s own problems because there may be unresolved function calls that will also stop the site working. I touched on this problem last June (Problems In The WordPress Camp) and sadly, nothing has changed. I have enormous respect for the design and development team of WordPress but open-source and free software still comes with obligations to the user base and this morning, as after each update, there are a lot of unhappy and confused non-technically minded users tearing out there hair and clogging the volunteer run support forums with exactly the same, old questions.

I am not suggesting that the WP team test their release candidate with every piece of third party extension available. That would be impossible. But having designed a system that allows for third party development there should be an official central repository of plugins and pressure on the developers to ensure their offerings work. WP users should be able to view a list – as they can with Firefox for example – of what has been upgraded and what has not. In this way – they can wait to apply the new version or change their site accordingly.

Which brings me to Firefox who also yesterday released version 1.5.0.1. With Firefox I can go and see what plugins are consistent with each new release. But I didn’t! For the first time that I recall, I opened Firefox yesterday and it offered me the update. I clicked on download. What it has always done in the past is download the files leaving me to install it. But with 1.5.0.1 it downloaded and then installed it for me. Nice touch but infuriating as it gave me no chance to check if my extensions were all going to work. And no – they don’t.

I am working now with at least three extensions that I somewhat rely on awaiting updates. So my request to the Mozilla team is – if you are going to force the install on me then fine, I can accept that, but check my extensions first and give me the opportunity to decline the update before you destroy my chosen way of working with your software.