Saturday, April 21, 2007

unity and doctrine

There has been a lot of press recently about the Christian doctrine of Penal Substitution (if you want a better resource than Wikipedia, this book has received some excellent reviews).

You may be aware that Jeffrey John recently penned a controversial article on the issue, or that 'Word Alive' and 'Spring Harvest' have separated. In the wider context of unity you may have seen this blog article, which although very narrow-minded and quite patronising does at least raise some issues worth thinking about.

Unfortunately I find this all quite sad, and feel that once again we are being distracted from the Good News of the Christian faith; however this seems to be an opportune moment to welcome Caleb to my list of 'Other Parts of the Blogosphere'. Caleb, whom I met in Iona, has written an intelligent, balanced, and thought-provoking response to some of the more negative issues mentioned above, and if you're looking for something more positive, I suggest you head in this direction.

Friday, April 20, 2007

caption competition (Liberal Democrats in Bath)

Originally uploaded by JP1984.

It's coming up to election time again, which is as good an excuse as any to stick my nose once again in to the world of politics.

One of the many reasons why I won't vote Lib Dem (and why no-one with any sense should either) is that they seem to have a worse habit than most of slandering the other parties in their election leaflets without ever offering any sort of constructive solutions to the problems.

In the current campaign, they are blaming the Tories for the traffic problems in Bath. I've not lived here long enough to know how true this is, and - unsurprisingly - there is nothing at all to back up their claims. I would warrant firstly that the LibDems are also to blame, but that if I am wrong they are bound to have done far worse elsewhere.

The fact of the matter is however that there is congestion in Bath, and I was heightened to see that the LibDems have already been "working with our local community to ensure that we can sort [it out]". Or so the caption to the above photograph attempts to con the reader in to believing. If someone can tell me how looking like a toad and standing like a lemon with the problem behind you achieves anything at all along those lines I will be impressed. If, like me, you cannot fathom it, you may have more fun coming up with a better caption for the photo by adding a comment below.

Whilst we're on the subject of this particular leaflet I would also like to mention the atrocious grasp of the English language which is evident throughout. Personally I thought that the role of a councillor included standing up for, and communicating the views of the local residents. How is anyone who asks the reader to vote for 'Councillor Ball and I' (for example) meant to be trusted to have the necessary communication skills where it counts?

OK, so I've been a bit (hypo)critical, but hey, I'm entitled to my opinion. The thought that even some of you might vote for these people brought around a sudden need to vent my spleen.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

cynical, moi?

I was working this morning when ZoneAlarm popped up to ask me if I wanted to let Windows Genuine Advantage access the internet. I saw no good reason to send anything to Microsoft and so clicked 'No'.

Seconds later, a bubble appeared telling me that my computer is at risk because ZoneAlarm is switched off, and further investigation revealed that mysteriously ZoneAlarm had closed.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

milk and sugar?

I've been debating with my housemate as to whether tea or coffee is more popular world-wide. We've both done quick web-searches, and we've both got results to match our different claims. I say tea, he says coffee.

So, to settle the debate, it's down to you. Do you prefer tea or coffee? Please leave a comment below - one word is all it takes.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

more london fun

Originally uploaded by JP1984.

Despite arriving within three minutes of my connection leaving I still missed it and had to endure half an hour in which I felt trapped in East Croydon.

But before you sigh and say "oh dear he's talking about trains again" let's move on. Swiftly.

I had an excellent time in London, with great company, great weather and great food. I really enjoyed meeting up with people, and you can't beat a nice pint on South Bank when the sun is shining. I even got over the fact that I wasn't wearing shorts.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

more railway fun

The First Capital Connect representative at Three Bridges station this morning must surely be a contender for most unhelpful person ever.

I was awaiting the 11.12 departure, advertised at 11.16 as being "on time and formed of 8 coaches".

When I asked the representative when it was actually going to turn up her first response was "it's not late, because in the eyes of the railway if it's within three minutes it counts as being on time". After a fellow passenger pointed out the obvious that even by this definition it was still late I made the remark that I couldn't expect to turn up three minutes late for my connection and still catch it. This was met with a confusing ramble about exactly how late (in minutes and seconds) the train was in her eyes and "if I could stand up there and change the clock back I would".

This nonsense rendered me speechless so rather than ask her how that was meant to help I left her to resume her rude and insolent pose as she made no effort at all to find out what was going on and inform the many passenger on the platform.

Defined by user

Friday, April 13, 2007


...the Blacklist (drum-roll please).

After a couple of posts voicing my dissatisfaction with some companies I have created an official Blacklist, which you will find for your viewing pleasure on the right of the page.

Simply adding an object of my wrath to the Blacklist makes me feel better, but if just one person boycotted one of the companies - or better still, wrote their own letter of complaint (Mr B...) - it would improve my life no end.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

tony blair, prime minister

Originally uploaded by JP1984.

What you see here ladies and gentlemen are exclusive photographs of Tony Blair's helicopter, in West Wales where he was out yesterday preaching his sugar coated lies to those he believes will be stupid enough to vote for him.

I know that the quality of the images isn't great (although they do have a rather pleasing Tabloid 'Scoop' feel to them) but it's the thought that counts.

Unsurprisingly, this corner of the world isn't exactly very busy but that didn't seem to bother His Toniness; one of the very few people on the airfield at the time said that it was hilarious to watch him emerging from the helicopter and waving at precisely no-one. Idiot. (Un)fortunately I had to leave before Mr Blair returned to his helicopter and so the question of whether my index finger should accompany my middle finger when I returned said 'wave' was purely academic.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

better late than never

I feel that it would be wrong to move on from Good Friday without completing the picture. After all, as Paul put it, "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith". (1 Cor 15:14).

He Has Risen! Hallelujah!

Wishing you a belated Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

that friday feeling

Originally uploaded by JP1984.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of life at the moment I feel that it was important to take space yesterday and reflect on ‘Good Friday’.

Typically I am behind to the point of almost missing the boat, but nonetheless I would like to share the poignant image from yesterday’s session in church, and refer to a couple of verses from John’s Gospel.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
(Joh 3:16-17 ESV)

You may have seen the news this week which highlighted the fact that many people claim to be ‘Christian’ and yet never attend church. Perhaps you are one of them.

Church attendance figures aside, there are clearly a lot of ignorant people, who are clueless about what it means to be a Christian. Are you one of them? Are you one of those for whom the very mention of church is uncomfortable; for whom it conjures up misconceptions and makes you put up barriers? Would you rather not think about the wider issues in the hope that they will all go away, and that we’ll all live happily ever after?

Why not take the opportunity to think for yourself and get off the fence?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

more blacklisting

This time it's the "delightful" people at the Student Loans Company who are the objects of my wrath.

They sent me a letter a while back wanting to arrange repayment of my loan. I filled in the forms, enclosed proof that I was continuing in Further Education, and popped it in the post.

However, it was returned to me today with an 'incomplete' stamp and an extra information sheet covered in yellow highlighter. The original form asked for a letter from the Funding Body (in my case the EPSRC) but I do not possess such a thing because although they pay my fees it's all been organised through the University. Neither do I have any formal evidence of my 'subsistence'.

For the jobsworths at the Student Loans Company in Glasgow however this is evidently not a good enough excuse.

I tried to rectify the situation by ringing them this morning - on an 0870 number, of course - and having worked my way through the confusing and not particularly relevant menu system I had the misfortune of speaking to one of the least helpful people in the world.

I had to go through the various security hoops (Customer Number, Full Name, DoB etc) but I failed at the last hurdle when he wanted my "Secret Answer". I told him that I hadn't got a clue what he was talking about*, but he assured me that as I would have been sent this in the post there was nothing he could to do access the specific details of my account. No matter, I figured that I could go under the guise of 'General Enquiry'.

I was offered an alternative to the two Funding Bodies mentioned on the original form, but in all honesty it amounts to beauractic paperwork serving no useful purpose other than to give our socialist friends in Glasgow something to read.

I then suggested that the original form should be updated to make it a bit clearer and include such options, but I was told that this would be impossible to please everybody "without about seven lines of text". I failed to see what the problem was, but was told that if there was nothing else he could help me with that we were going to get nowhere.

How rude.

If you're the sort of person who enjoys making prank and abusive phone calls (regretably I feel that I should be seen as too mature for this) then please do give the Student Loans Company a call.

*Does anyone?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

banking blacklist

I don't really have time to blog at the moment, and if I did I should probably be writing about my time in Iona, which was excellent. More on that to follow.

However, I feel the need to have another rant after spending 17 minutes on the phone to HSBC yesterday. I rang them because I had received several letters informing me of various (small) banking charges, for which I couldn't see the reason. Neither it seems could the woman I eventually spoke to, even after she put me on hold for a while while she made some investigations. I suppose that the good news is that some of the charges have now supposedly been cancelled but this does not dispel my worries and complete lack of trust in HSBC.

Given that there is no HSBC on campus, or in my home town, this is perhaps the shove I need to move my money* elsewhere, but this poses me with something of a dilemma. I've heard too many complaints about Barclays to touch them with a barge-pole let alone bank with them, and although NatWest seem good they have annoyed me with their ID policy. Apparently because I am over 20 my Provisional Licence is not a valid form of ID and I would need a full one instead. I can't see a good reason for this, and I am particularly put out because it is for medical reasons, not laziness, that I have nothing more than a Provisional. If I were to stick with my principles they would not get my custom, but then at this rate neither would anyone else.


*lack of money would be more accurate, as ultimately it will be my overdraft which gets moved.