Way Too Seriously

Well, it’s a good thing I’m not Catholic and particularly popular in the blogosphere. Jimmy Akin and Touchstone senior editor Leon Podles have generated a lot of heat (though not much light beyond the glow of their own intellects) for their support of the execution of Saddam. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the comments.

I’ve tried just reading through them and I find them all blending in together. Both seem to have attracted at least one raving lunatic cyber-stalking to respond immediately to all comers. Again, my commenters, fewer though they may be, appear sane most of the time.

Why there’s a W in Banker

I was in the city centre on Friday and Mrs H had asked me to get some 20p coins from the bank. I anticipated this would be a rather straightforward proposition.

Knowing that a teller would not be able to withdraw money with my debit card, I went the cash machine first so I would have something to trade in exchange for the coins. That’s when I discovered that as a result of refurbishment, my bank had reduced the number of cash machines inside from three to two, while at the same time increasing the paying-in machines from one to four. I got the impression that they wanted to get ahold of my money, but they weren’t nearly as keen to let it go.

Then I started looking for a teller. In all the refurbishment, they seemed to have taken away all of the tellers. Finally a woman told me they were upstairs. So I went up stairs. Didn’t see a lift anywhere. Once on the first floor, I looked around and saw no tellers. With more assistance, I was directed to the opposite side of the building and told to go around the corner. Sure enough, tucked away where no one would think to look, there were two tellers.

They used to have three, but is suppose that even with record profits of £11.7 billion last year (up from £10.8 billion in 2004), they had to make some cuts. There was a significant queue of other people who had managed to find this area, but we all need to share in the bank’s hardship.

Above the teller windows was a huge sign with a giant arrow pointing away from the area saying, “Have you tried our express banking?” In other words, “Go away! No, really, go away!” When I got to the window, I indicated to the teller that it made me feel like they didn’t want me there. She just smiled. I also noted that as difficult as it was to find her, at least it was closer than telephone banking, because I have to go all the way to India for that. She just smiled.

My 20p coins in hand, I walked back across the first floor and stumbled upon the unmarked lift. Fortunately, lift doors are fairly recognisable and for those still unsure, above the buttons on a tiny black badge was inscribed the word “LIFT”. When it arrived, I realised that the doors and word may have consitituted misrepresentation. It was the teeny-tiniest space. I’m glad I was alone, as that was the only way to avoid participating in a contact sport or an unnatural act.

When I appeared on the ground floor, asked the customer service woman how a full-size wheelchair and a carer would fit into the lift. She told me she had seen someone with a pram use it. I explained that there is a bit of a difference in size between a wheelchair and a pram. She told me again she had seen someone with a pram use it. Clearly I was dealing with an entirely difference sort of handicap here.

I asked to see someone to whom I could address my concerns, but I was informed that the manager was otherwise engaged. As with everything else, speaking face-to-face with a person is not encouraged. Instead, I was give a brochure on how to complain. This involves writing to the headquaters of this multinational bank which is the largest corporation in the world in terms of assets. And they’re going to care about the size of the lift and the lack of teller service in Hooterville? Yeah, right.

What’s my first New Year’s resolution? Change banks.

You Better Watch Out

That whole thing about being struck by lightning for misdeeds may have more credence than you’d think.

According to The Book of General Ignorance, humans are struck by lightning ten times more often than they should be under the laws of chance.

Just a bit of trivia to carry with you into 2007.

Stay safe.

Crunchy on the Outside

The kids are currently cracked on armadillos, ever since there was a picture in one of Aidan’s books and Mrs H quoted the Daim bar commericial, “Crunchy on the outside, smooth in the inside – Armadillos!” This has been Aidan’s catch phrase from the last couple of days. Abby tries to imitate him, as in everything, but never quite gets it right.

I was showing Aidan some photos of armadillos on the Internet and came across other names for them:

Hillbilly Speed Bump
Possum on the half-shell
Grave Robbers
“turtle-rabbit” (translation of the Aztec term)
and my favourite… Pillbugs on steroids

Selective Justice

Everybody
Loves to see
Justice done
On somebody else
– Bruce Cockburn

I’m not opposed to the death penalty. I think it supported throughout the Holy Writ, in both the Old and New Testaments. I would imagine that until the liberalism of the modern age, it was universally practised throughout Christendom, by Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant rulers alike. I would be interested to read any historical documentation to the contrary.

I think Saddam deserved to die. He perpetrated heinous acts upon countless people.

I don’t buy the conspiracy theories that say the US had him killed to keep him from talking. There’s not really anything he could say that hasn’t been suggested by bloggers, if not the MSM. Everyone knows he killed thousands of people using gas supplied by the US. He was tight with former US administrations. They supplied him with what he needed to kill Persians. As long as he killed Persians, they weren’t so worried that he killed some of his own people. But that’s just geopolitics. It didn’t involve the present US administration, so no one is particulary worried about it. He didn’t have anything new to say.

Saddam would be alive today, but for one foolish mistake: the invasion of Kuwait. If there had been no invasion, there would have been no Gulf War, no sanctions to violate, no excuse for another Gulf War. Otherwise, no one in Washington would have cared about his human rights violations. There are human rights issues all over the world. Lots of people die because of lots of repressive regimes and no one raises an eyebrow. No one in Washington, no one in the MSM, no one except maybe an obscure blogger with an axe to grind.

If you are hoping to become a vicious evil dictator (or if any current vicious evil dictators happen to come across this blog), let me give you some advice. Don’t do anything that requires the US to take action against you. If you invade another country, the UN is gonna get all irritated (well, except for the Russians and the Chinese, who have made a regular business of invading other countries and getting away with it) and they will have to send a force to evict you. The Russians and Chinese, after opposing everyone else in the Security Council (again, for obvious reasons), aren’t going to send any troops. That means the Americans will have to take charge and provide all the money and manpower.

Otherwise, the US couldn’t give one excretal deposit what you do to your own people. If you have ethnic groups you don’t like, genocide is always an option. Washington won’t blink a collective eye. No one would even know about Kim Jong Il starving all of his people if he wasn’t trying to build a nuclear missle.

Yes, Saddam should have just kept to killing Kurds and left Kuwait alone. He’d still be on the other end of the rope.

It Pays to Delay

Even though the US gave away billions of dollars to the British Government during the Second World War under the Lend-Lease programme, Number 11 was still in a bad way as the war ended in 1945. This time the US forked out a $4.33 billion loan to help keep HM Treasury afloat.

The terms were pretty favourable. The interest rate was only 2% and the Brits had 50 years to repay, starting in 1950. So you’re thinking this debt should have been settled in 2000. Unfortunately, the Exchequer couldn’t pay up in 1956, 1957, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1976. Times were just a little too tight. However, under the ever-so-scrupulous Gordon Brown, the debts will have been paid by midnight tonight because today is the last business day of the year. Gordon wants it off the books in 2006.

It’s not just the US Treasury that will see money appear in the credit column on a computer screen somewhere. The year after the Americans ponied up for their friend in need, the Canadians loaned another $1.19 billion at the same 2% interest rate.
Gordon is paying that on off as well. The US will get $83.25 million and the Canadians $22.7 million. The Canadians will be paid in US dollars, I’m sure their glad to know. At today’s rate of exchange, they are getting CD$26.44777 million.

And sometime it pays to take a debt over time. The UK will have paid the US a total of $7.5 billion. There are a number of ways to compare old money to new. One of the most common is the Consumer Price Index. The $4.33 billion loaned in 1945 would be the equivalent of $48.248 billion today.

The Murderer, the Cockold, and the Plan of Redemption

Today is the commemorate of the covetous adulterer and murderer David. He was also a prophet and a king and wrote the hymnal of the Church. If there was ever an example of how God uses flawed people, he would be one. He is an inspiration to all Davids who spend more time sinning than singing.

I’m sure I could write no end of devotional commentary on the life of David, but there are few Biblical personalities who have been the subject of more. Find something someone else has written and read it.

Perhaps this Feast of Holy Innocents is an appropriate time to remember Uriah the Hittite. He was an innocent victim in the plan of redemption. We even read about him in the Gospel last Sunday, “David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.” Without the murder of Uriah, there would have been no Solomon. Now that seems like a raw deal. God works in mysterious ways.