Let Them Eat Tortillas

With protests against the insurgency operation in the Iraq (the war was over three years ago – we’re there at the request of, and to lend assistance to, the constitutional elected, internationally recognised government) in the Washington and against the banning of Catholic conscience in London, you may have missed the protests in Mexico City.

According to the BBC:

Tens of thousands of Mexican farmers and trade unionists have joined a march in Mexico City to protest against the rising price of tortillas.

The price of tortillas has risen by over 400%. Now this may not seem like a big deal for the occasional Taco Bell patron, but for poor Mexicans, tortillas are the staple source of calories. And whose to blame for this crisis? The US, of course.

Mexico’s Economy Minister blames the dwindling supply of corn on increased ethanol production in the US. Mexico got used to lots of cheap corn under NAFTA. Mexican tortilla companies got used to a very healthy profit margin. Now they’re not getting the corn.

But that’s the thing about free trade. It’s free. It’s just as free to sell corn for ethanol as it is to sell it to giant Mexican tortilla companies.

No, it is the responsibility of the tortilla companies to take an ethical approach and temper their profit opportunities. The Mexican President worked out a voluntary cap on prices, but tortilla makers have been ignoring it. There have also been accusations of unfair speculation and monopoly practices. They may have to shrink the traditional enormous divide between rich and poor in Mexico just this once.

But tradition being the power force that it is, this is unlikely. As is the case with so many corrupt economies around the world, the US will probably have to come in and bail out the situation. So they will be vilified at the same time they are saving the victims. Sound familiar?

Worth a Thousand Words

— “I died while waiting for a cure to be found by research on embryonic stem cells, and you?”
— “I was that embryo!”

Attributed to http://www.arbil.org/LTRHA.htm (though even with Google translator I can’t find the right link)
H/T to Fr Pat Reardon

Marginalised Men

First it was the middle class, now it is men. According to The Times:

A generation of young men risk being “locked out” of university and marginalised over jobs.

Latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show that 180,556 men enrolled on undergraduate courses in September 2006, compared with 210,334 women. Nearly half (47 per cent) of women aged 17 to 30 have enrolled on a university course, compared with just over a third (37 per cent) of men of the same age.

David Eastwood, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council, said: “If we are not careful we are going to arrive at a position where young lads are alienated.” Les Ebdon, head of student experience at Universities UK, was concerned about the figures.

Bill Rammell, the Minister for Higher Education, said that his department was “spending a great deal of time and money on the problem”.

This is only going to increase the problem. It is an unerring trend that when the Government spends time and money on anything, the problem only gets worse. Usually much worse.

I thought I would compare this to US statistics. Unfortunately I can’t compare apples with apples. The US Department of Education indicates that in 2004, 57.2% of students enrolled in degree-granting institutions were women. In 2003, women earned 58% of all degrees – 60% of associate’s, 58% of bachelor’s, and 59% of master’s.

Since 1984, the number of women in graduate schools has exceeded the number of men. Between 1994 and 2004, the number of male full-time graduate students increased by 25 percent, compared to 66 percent for full-time women. Among part-time graduate students, the number of men increased by 3 percent compared to a 17 percent increase for women.

I suppose it’s a good thing I’ve made it through when I did.

Memory Eternal

Today is the third anniversary of my brother’s repose.

May his memory be eternal.

Due Process

If nations want to establish the ultimate sanction for offences up to and including the full panoply of OT moral laws, I’m don’t have a big problem with that. That’s the residual theonomist still left in me.

I think the real reason people are shocked at the idea of criminal sanction, not to mention capital sanction, for certain violations of the Seventh Commandment, where they might have no problem with the death penalty for violations of the Sixth, is that they have fewer qualms about finding themselves in that situation.

Thus when it comes to this story, the main problem I have is due process. There is no evidence that the couple in question violated any valid law, nor that they had the benefit of an impartial judicial process. This is one of the defining features of civilisation. For all of the denigrating of OT law (and there’s always some smarmy list of would-you-really-want-these-horrible-laws that pops up when someone says something positive about the OT), if you look at the procedural aspects of it, there is always due process. Someone’s brother is not allowed to tie a rope around their neck, tie them to a tree, and stone them to death within ten minutes.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Whenever Orthodox monastics make the news, it’s usually not a good thing. Recently there were the physical fights raging on Mount Athos. Now it’s nuns.

The nuns have fled the Saints Kirykos and Ioulittis monastery at Sidirokastro on the Bulgarian border in Greece because they can’t pay their debts. They appear to owe banks €500,000 and private creditors another €120,000. They are hiding out at the St Xenia monastery in the hills of central Greece. It’s a ready-made headline – one that Reuters, The Times, CNN, Ananova, The Australian, and many others have been unable to resist, referring to “nuns on the run”.

News reports also indicate that all 55 of the nuns are known as Maria, which I suppose is easier than making up names like Sister Euphemia of the Five Wounds and Sister Inviolata Of The Immaculate Conception (not that Orthodox nuns would ever name anything or anyone after the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception or any other Roman innovation).

The nuns had used the money to set up a knitting business. If you are thinking of them sitting in their cells and quietly clicking needles together when they are not in the chapel praying, think again. They had a factory with six large knitting machines. They sold their goods to 25 store chains around Greece. It’s not clear what caused the business to go belly up. Maybe it could never recoup the investment. They apparently used some of the money for travel to fashion shows throughout Europe to stay apprised of the latest trends in woollen wear.

This doesn’t appear to be a straightforward case of bankruptcy. Bank sources say that at least one loan application could have been forged. The nuns, who also had a candle-making and iconography business on the side, arranged to have their knitting factory equipment and furniture taken away to an unknown location in three trucks days before their own disappearance.

Even though it appears that some of their business activities may have been secret from Church authorities, the nuns initially asked their local hierarch Metropolitan Makarios to bail them out by selling other monastery properties. He declined. They want to settle at another monastery near Athens, but he won’t give them release papers. Now the head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos, has stepped in and is negotiating with them.

Skidboot

Some of you may have seen him on Letterman, Leno, Oprah, or Animal Planet. My cousin sent me a link to this video segment from Texas Country Reporter. This is truly an amazing dog.

At over eight minutes, it takes a long time to load, but it is worth it.

Working for the Weekend

The great thing about the final bell on Tuesday is that it is only three days until the same bell on Friday.

It’s almost the weekend!

Calling Time on Conscience

It’s final. The Catholics with their Anglican and Muslim advocates have officially been swept aside. There will be no exception for conscience.

In a small concession to soften the blow, at the urging of the PM and the Minister for Equality, the Cabinet has decided give the Catholic adoption agencies 20 months during which they have a “statutory duty” to refer gay couples to other agencies. After that they would have to assist gay couples directly or face the full force of the law.

There is no doubt that some gay activists, or their pawns, would immediately present themselves to a Catholic agency (or most probably as many as possible simultaneously) to force them to shut down. In fact, even shutting down to avoid such a case could in and of itself be considered discrimination and actionable at law.

It is the hope of the Cabinet that the 20 months will allow the Catholic agencies to see some sense and compromise their values. The opinion of some appears to be that the rank and file adoption workers are much more flexible on these things than the stodgy old bishops who seem to be stuck on their duty to uphold their outdated Faith.

Ann Widdecombe noted in a BBC television interview that we are treading on entirely new ground here. Never before has someone been required by law had to do something that violated their conscience.

Now that the law supercedes the conscience, there is little true freedom left. The Government has unequivocably staked out its position. The iron fist of totalitarianism is wearing an ever-thinner glove.

Uneducating the Middle Class

Ministers have spent nearly £350 million trying to increase student numbers from poor backgrounds, but the money has had no effect on the middle-class domination of places.

So says the Sunday Telegraph.

So the Government is taking more action. If money doesn’t work, a firmer approach is required. There are, after all, a limited number of university places. The middle class will simply have to be denied places.

For several years, the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (which processes all university applications as the clearing system) has asked about parental employment and income for purposes of assessing fees. Now applications will also include details of any university degrees their parents have earned. The new form will ask applicants if they have ever been in local authority care. It will also request details of any courses that candidates have been on to prepare them for higher education, such as summer schools or taster courses.

All of this information will now be used for purposes of social engineering. This is not a hidden agenda. UCAS are open about it, even if they mischaracterise it. The chief executive of UCAS said, “It revolves around issues of widening participation in the sense of alerting institutions to people that are entirely new to higher education.” Does he not realise that everyone applying for a place on an undergraduate degree course is entirely new to higher education.

But with more accuracy, he said, “Universities have argued that if they are to be judged on how successful they are at targeting under-represented groups, they need detailed information about the family background of applicants before places are awarded.”

So the message is you need to try hard at GCSEs and A Levels, but you need to to try really hard if you are middle class, because some students are more equal than others.

Forbidden Protection

The head of the Islamic Medical Association in Britain is urging Muslims to avoid vaccinations. This is because they may be made from sources considered haram. He says that vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis and meningitis are un-Islamic.

Dr Abdul Majid Katme bases his view on the presumption almost all vaccines contain products derived from animal and human tissue and this tissue was not killed in a halal fashion. He is also opposed to them because some contain or have been made using pork-based gelatine.

Instead he suggests another way to avoid disease. “If you breast-feed your child for two years — as the Koran says — and you eat Koranic food like olives and black seed, and you do ablution each time you pray, then you will have a strong defence system.” Who needs an MMR or a DPT injection when you have olives?

Katme wields a considerable influence as the head of one of the two national Islamic medical organisations and as a member of the Muslim Council of Britain. There is already evidence of lower than average vaccination rates in Muslim areas and this will only exacerabate the situtation. However, his is not a home-grown British view. He has imported it from a global movement of Islamic leaders who are telling followers to refuse vaccines from the West.

In this anti-Western demonstration, Muslims leaders are willing to bend the truth to accomplish their goal. According to the Sunday Times, “In Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India, Muslims have refused to be immunised against polio after being told that the vaccines contain products that the West has deliberately added to make the recipients infertile.”

The Islamic world may be out-breeding the West, but if they insist on keeping rates of infant and child mortality high, this may sustain parity in the clash of civilisations.

Are All Cultures Equal?

I wouldn’t want to say anything that would run afoul of current legislation.

All I’m suggesting is that you read this piece in the Sunday Telegraph. I will only warn you by saying it is not very pleasant.

Population Redistribution

Babies are being taken into care by local councils to meet targets for adoption.

This sounds like a crazy anti-government conspiracy theory. Not according to 12 MPs who sit in different parties in the House of Commons. They are backing a motion by John Hemming, the MP for Birmingham Yardley. He calls it a national scandal.

The number of babies taken into care between 1995 and 2005 rose by 75%. That’s surprising enough. The number of children aged one to four adopted after being taken into care has trebled between 1995 and 2005.

The real push has come since 2000, when Government ministers set a target of a 50% increase in the number of children in local authority being adopted by March 2006. With the new regulations strangling the Catholic agencies, local councils will need to grab as many healthy white babies as they can, since these are easy to hand out. Catholic agencies handled 32% of the difficult-to-place children last year.

Never in Blue Jeans

Thanks to a single mention in a post by Laura Nee a few days ago, I have been listening to Neil Diamond all week. When I’m not listening to CDs (or CDs ripped to PCs), I’ve been singing or humming or whistling “Forever in Blue Jeans”. I don’t know why. I hardly ever wear blue jeans. Almost never.

Unlike Laura, I didn’t grow up listening to Neil Diamond. Other than Christian music, about the only artist I listened to in my childhood was John Denver. My father was the general manager of the local radio station and put all the John Denver singles on a cassette tape for me, back when commercially produced cassettes were not generally available (yes, that long ago). However, the first “secular” tape I purchased was The Jazz Singer soundtrack. It was the one rogue tape in a case full of Keith Green, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Phil Keaggy, and Barry McGuire. I even got the sheet music and learned to play “Love on the Rocks” on the piano.

A few years later a friend in college taped off Twelve Greatest Hits Vol. II. That kept me going until I was seconded to Texarkana in 1985 to work on a Congressional campaign. Living on my own for the first time (albeit just for a couple of months) I bought a cassette stereo. Needing something to play on it, I went into a record shop (you could still call them record shops back then) and bought a cassette of the live album Love at the Greek. In the evenings, without a telly or telephone, I played that tape and read Battlefield Earth.

Since then I go through phases where I just have listen to Neil. The live albums make me wish I could be a showman like that. I have three (the aforementioned and both the 1972 and 1986 Hot August Night discs) and tonight I’m ordering a fourth, Live in America, because I found a great deal online.

The Science of Gay Adoptions

Following on the previous entry and with a H/T to Greg Wallace, the American College of Pediatricians has published an article on homosexual parenting.

As Greg opines, “This is one of those serendipitous little moments when science and morality align themselves… and the only group group neither surprised nor outraged is probably the conservative segment of Christians.”

Fundamental Values

If you needed further evidence that the more serious enemy is secularism and not Islam, the Government have eagerly provided it.

The big news over here is the attempt by Christians of every stripe to stop the full impact of the Equality Act. This is the legislation which will require, inter alia, that all adoption agencies give equal consideration to homosexual couples when placing children. And by “all”, I do mean all.

The Catholic Church has 16 such agencies, putting their pro-life money where their mouth is. However, eternal immovable doctrine being what it is, they will shut their doors rather than put a child in a gay “family”. They have strongly pressured the Government for an exemption.

As the husband of a practicing Catholic with children who are baptised Catholic, Tony Blair has been in favour of one, but never has his lame-duckness been so evident. He and his power are so yesterday at this point.

Ruth Kelly is the Equality Minister and you would think she might have some pull. As a member of Opus Dei, you would expect her to throw her weight behind the Church, but the forces of the New Morality will do anything to oppose the Church and Ruth has found herself rather isolated.

The Anglicans have even come along side the Catholics and said there should be an consicence exemption. But pink is in the ascendency and neither the Archbishop of Canterbury not his counterpart of York have made a dent.

So who do you call when you want secularists to bow to religious pressure? The Muslims of course. But the statement that “The Muslim Council of Britain fully supports the principled stand taken by the leaders of the Catholic and Anglican Churches” had no effect.

It doesn’t help that some Catholics in Government have sided with those who oppose Catholic doctrine at every turn. Home Secretary John Reid told reporters, “I don’t believe you in this country have the right to overrule some of the fundamental values on which the country is based because you have a conscientious objection.” So allowing gay couples to adopt has become a fundamental value on which the UK is based.

Yes, that’s right, the Catholic Home Secretary has said that Holy Scripture and the unbroken teaching of the Holy Church is inherently anti-British – that the United Kingdom at it’s core is in opposition to the Kingdom of God. Not only that, but there is no right to object to those values. You can conscientiously object to a lot of things, but not something so fundamentally British as the right of gay couples to adopt children.

Reconnecting With the Past

Of interests to guitarists and amputees (hence my excitement), while checking my Wikipedia watchlist, I found that a video link had been added to the Phil Keaggy article. It is recorded at Phil’s childhood home in Ohio and begins with him describing the accident while standing at the water pump that took off his finger. He then sits on the well housing and sings “Way Back Home”, the eponymous title track to his 1986 release.

The only downside is that the video window is very small. So small that Phil appears almost life-size. The whole thing is 11 MB and lasts 5:48.

Unlike Phil, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to I-65 near MLK and stand in the inside hard shoulder, even if I ever incorporate my experience into a song.

Of Your Mercy

I have just learned that my Aunt Norma has suffered a massive stroke and is not expected to live. She is 82. My Uncle John had to cancel his doctor’s appointment about chest pains. He is also 82 and has been her principal caregiver, as she has suffered from Alzheimers for a number of years.

Your prayers are appreciated.

Being a Good Citizen of Heaven

Thanks to a tip from Greg Wallace, I read a great blog piece weighing in on the immigration debate in the US. Republicans are split on this issue and I tend to side with the President and against much of the GOP Congressional delegation. Sigmund, Carl and Alfred address it with a thoroughness that I have not. They base their arguments on the historical patterns of immigration throughout US history. Within that article is an excerpt from another SC&A article about why Europeans are anti-American. Very interesting and worthwhile analysis.

I have heard critics of the accommodationist view argue that the Welfare State (such as it exists in the US, which is a matter of perspective after immigrating to Europe) offers too much to the new, predominently Hispanic, immigrants. They don’t have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps like the Irish and Italians and the other European groups did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I think it is unreasonable to suggest that 21st century immigrants should play by 19th century rules while 2nd, 3rd – or in my family 8th, 9th and even 10th – generation Americans enjoy 21st century advantages. And I don’t blame those who scale fences, dig tunnels, or swim rivers to get in. I think “secure borders” are a repudiation of the Gospel that played such a fundamental role in the founding of the nation. After all, who is my neighbour?

We have created, by the grace and mercy of God, a land of milk and honey. And now we want to turn around and become the giants in the land. We worship false gods and build walled cities. We offer incense and even our own children on the altar of convenience, letting generation after generation drift further and further into the immoral morass. And that’s before taking into consideration the unborn sacrificed on the altar of promiscuity. Yet we have the audacity to suggest that immigrants don’t share our values. We can only hope that some of them don’t.

Secure borders even keep my family out. As I alluded above, Aidan and Abby are Americans of long lineage. The earliest ancestors about whom I have reasonable certainty of immigration is their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents who were married in Pennsylvania in 1726. They have several ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, including their great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Holford. They have ancestors who fought on both sides of the War for Southern Independence. That they are well and truly American, there can be no doubt. Nonetheless, having been born abroad, they are required to live in the US for certain lengths of time after certain ages (legislation changeable at the whim of Congress) before they can pass on the benefits of that heritage. If they haven’t complied with these requirement before having children, those children will not be American citizens.

I do not believe in the Social Gospel, but I believe the Gospel has social implications. Christians who realise that their true citizenship is in heaven have a hard time justifying their treatment of others based upon the temporal realities of the modern nation state, a political concept that really only began to develop in the 15th century. In other words, Jesus’ words and example have been with us four times longer. In the US, the idea of national sovereignty didn’t even evolve into a form recognisable today until the aftermath of that Great Confligration of the 1860s and it could be argued is in itself nothing like the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

Secure borders is about selfishness. Its about keeping hold of what I’ve got.

Five

It’s hard to believe that five years ago right now I was in the operating theatre of the local hospital wearing scrubs and watching the doctors and nurses get ready to cut open Mrs H’s belly. The 56 hours of labour were coming to an end because Aidan just couldn’t get out head first and at this point he was stuck.

I was on the other side of the curtain when they made all of the incisions and the registrar, under the supervision of the consultant, reached in and pulled him out. I didn’t see the blood and guts until Aidie wouldn’t breathe and they brought up the paediatric consultant to help out. At that point I went back and forth from Mrs H’s head to the resucitation table a few feet beyond her feet.

I suppose it’s obvious by now that Aidie made it okay. In fact, after just a little encouragement he seemed to be fine and I took him over to meet his Mummy. That was the last she would see of him for a couple of hours. I took him downstairs to the maternity ward and dressed him and took the first pictures of him, which I emailed as soon as they kicked me out of the ward and I had to go home.

A few days later, they kicked out Aidie and Mummy as the next-to-last occupants of the old hospital (maternity was the last bit to close and move next door to the new facility). The friends we met in our antenatal group were the last. Now there is just a patch of grass where Aidan spent his first few days.

Yes, it is hard to believe that it has been five years. May God grant him many more!

Culture of Death

Life ain’t what it used to be.

The latest British Social Attitudes Survey conducted by the National Centre for Social Research indicates that 80% of the British public now support the right to physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. It won’t be long before we go the way of the Dutch.

There are reports that we have already gone the way of the Dutch informally – that there are doctors who just do what they want and no one says anything. This was the case in the Netherlands before the Dutch courts set out guidelines for properly reporting of these type of murder-suicides. It rose from 18% of cases reported in 1990 to 45% reported in 1995.

And when you consider case after case of the maltreatment of elderly patients in hospitals resulting in death – and these are the ones reported in the newspapers (and logically many more that are not reported) – it is easy to see how cheap life is.

Even when people want to live, the NHS mathematically calculates whether a life-extending drug is value for money. If it comes up short in the equation, the patient is left to die. That’s what happened today when the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (as I have noted before the preferred acronym NICE is right out of That Hideous Strength) rejected the appeal by Cancerbackup and Bowel Cancer UK against its ruling last August to reject Erbitux for bowel cancer.

In other words, life cannot be allowed to get too expensive. It becomes the same decision people often have to make at the vet’s surgery. But if humans are not uniquely the image of God, but rather just the latest development in animal evolution, is there anything that differentiates a vet from a physician?

Thus it is quite a logical step within the dominant scientific and world view to not only allow physician-assisted suicide, but encourage it. A nation that has rejected God devours itself.

The Chosen One

It’s official. In the words of the three-eyed aliens of Toy Story, “He’s been chosen!”

Tom Cruise is the new Jesus. That’s the word out of Scientology HQ. Scientology bigwig David Miscavige has said that in future, the world’s shortest Messiah will be worshipped like Jesus because he’s raised the profile of the cult.

In fact, it may have been three-eyed aliens who declared him to be Christ. Okay, well, it’s still fiction, but the difference is that only Scientologists don’t realise this.

It will be interesting to see how many people are willing to die for their faith in Tom.

Plans for Eradication

“There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practised.”

That is the opening line of a document human rights groups have shown The Sunday Telegraph. It is believed to be a secret document leaked from a Burmese government ministry. It is entitled “Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma”. It includes point-by-point details on how to drive Christians out of the state.

It’s really not any secret that the junta wants to get rid of Christians. They have been bulldozing and burning churches for years. They have mercilessly attacked predominently Christian ethnic groups, the best known of whom are the Karen and Chin people. This is something I have blogged about and Meandered about for a long time now.

For the military regime, Buddhism is not a tolerant religion. In the unique form practiced by the Bamar (the majority ethnic group in Burma), the Theravada school combined with Nat worship, it is mandatory. It is a means of control.

The Burmese document says, “The Christian religion is very gentle – identify and utilise its weakness.” But that’s where the junta is wrong. Christianity’s gentleness is not its weakness.
“Because,” as St Paul says, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

They also don’t know that the Lord told St Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Christians have faced more determined and skillful persecution than the two-bit Burmese dictatorship. They may be able to attack individuals, churches, villages, and ethnic groups, but they cannot extinguish the fire of the Holy Spirit brought to Burma by missionaries like Adoniram Judson.

Pray for Burma. Pray for the Christians of Burma.

Colts Win!

I was refreshing the screen constantly in the last two minutes. I couldn’t have been more on the edge of my seat had I been watching the television. I would have preferred to have watched the television, of course, but I was still following closely.

The play-off choke-hold is finally broken.

Frustration

With no television coverage here, I’m using Yahoo to watch the play-by-play line on the Conference Championship games. Yahoo are not up to their usual standard today and the 30-second refresh is rather meaningless.

The Bears have put away the Saints and now the Colts and Patriots are in the first quarter. With the Pats scoring first, the inevitable here-we-go-again feeling is setting in. I’ll watch the score for as long as I can while I read a book.

My own test post

This is my own first test post on WordPress.

 

I’m just trying to see how impressed I am. So far, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. But I’m give it a test drive. Surely it deserves the courtesy of a test drive. Read more of this post

Staying Put for Now

I was thinking about moving over to WordPress. I even got an account and a blog address over there, just to see what it’s like. It looks pretty good, I suppose, though I can’t say I’m just overwhelmed.

Then I discovered that they can’t import from new Blogger. Old Blogger is no problem, but apparently new Blogger is. Perhaps when they get this worked out, I’ll give it a whirl.

Maybe as I play around with it more, I’ll be more impressed.

In Defense of Jade Goody

Yep, you heard me. If you are in the US, that phrase probably means nothing. If you are in the UK, India, or anywhere else, you may think it is outrageous.

Jade Goody was one of the contestants in Big Brother four years ago. Even though she ended up in fourth place, she has been the most successful all former contestants ever. Thanks to her omnipresence on chat shows, variety shows, and in magazines, her wealth is estimated at £8 million – not bad for a former dental nurse who thinks that East Anglia is a foreign country called East Angular. She was sent into the Celebrity Big Brother house as a surprise housemate, several days into the run.

But Jade is still Jade. You can take the chav out of the council estate, but you can’t take the council estate out of the chav. That is, after all, why she’s popular and why producers Endemol hired her to go into the house in CBB.

Jade wears her feelings on her shoulder and she’s almost bi-polar in her mood swings. Add copious amounts of alcohol (always a priority item on the contestants’ shopping list) and some personality conflicts (part of the key to good ratings). Endemol were betting on a marvelous fireworks display. Instead they got a diplomatic incident.

When people get into explosive situations, they pick at whatever their intellect will allow. Jade’s runs at a very basic level. The differences she could see between herself and Indian actress Shilpa Shetty were socio-economic and ethnic background. I’m sure to someone more intelligent, the differences would have been manifold and the repartee erudite, but that’s not Jade.

Other than looking down upon Shilpa’s comfortable upbringing, racist (or more accurately, ethnist) comments were all Jade had left in her arsenal. And if when in her right mind, Jade has little idea what others are saying, when out of it, she has little idea what she is saying.

That does not mean I condone what she said. Jade herself said in the post-eviction interview that she was embarrassed by what she said and did (in the video playback) and that she didn’t think it reflected who she is. I think it reflects who she is, but as she has been conditioned by the same contemporary morality and ethics as the rest of us, it’s not the person she wants to be.

Sadly, Endemol played to her weaknesses. They caused her to stumble and perhaps the millstone should be hung around their collective necks. But as they put her on the regular Big Brother in the first place and edited it so that she came out the way she did, perhaps they can be credited with her success. Now that she’s lost millions of pounds in endorsements and other deals, perhaps we can say, “Endemol giveth and Endemol taketh away, blessed be the name of. . .” Okay, maybe not that last bit.

Even though host Davina McCall and the Endemol video editors showed Jade some of the media coverage related to her racism, they didn’t show the effigies being burnt in India. At least the Indians had the good sense to burn effigies of producers rather than Jade, according to various news reports. I mean, if you are going to take to the streets in protest over the mistreatment of a film star on a television show, it’s important that focus your rioting toward the appropriate culprits.

But all the histrionics aside, India is one of the big winners in this. Anytime you can make such a fuss that the visiting British Prime Minister-in-waiting has to apologise for his whole country, you have more leverage to send more call centre jobs your way.

This was also an excuse for the India Tourism Office to place full-page ads in major British newspapers which said,

Dear Jade Goody, Once your current commitments are over, may we invite you to experience the healing nature of India. … As a beauty therapist, you may be especially interested in visiting one of the many spas where you can cleanse your stresses away, enjoy yoga in the land that invented it and experience Ayurvedic healing, which promotes positive health and natural beauty. … We look forward to welcoming you soon — yours sincerely, India Tourism Office.

And Shilpa is a big winner as well. She may win this series of CBB, but more than that, Jade has put her on the bigger entertainment map. Bollywood is big, I’m not denying that. It’s the biggest thing in the second most populous country in the world. But Hollywood is bigger. This sort of international exposure in a Western country will be worth something. Played right, it could be worth a lot. A lot more than Jade with ever earn or lose.

Jade will see the ad in one of the newspapers and probably take it personally. I mean that in a good way. She will probably visit India and any newspaper or celebrity magazine editor in his right mind will cover it. She may even become the spokesperson for Sharwood’s. I hope she does.

Behaving in Church

Today was liturgy in Hooterville. It was a good opportunity to see that our kids are growing up.

Aidan didn’t want to go to church because he thought he would have to serve in the altar. We have been encouraging him to consider it, but never implied we would force him to do this. He doesn’t turn 5 until Thursday, so technically it was a bit early for him to do it anyway.

Normally we take things to keep the kids occupied, like books and colouring books and quiet toys. We were in a hurry to get out the door, as we were providing both the Christ icon for the makeshift imaginary iconostasis and large bowl for the antidoron (the basket in which it was usually served was ripped to shreds by the owner’s dog), so we forgot the entertainment supplies. Aidan had a small R2D2 and a C3PO in his pocket.

The kids behaved very well. Everyone commented about them. Both Aidan and Abby go up and venerate the icons on their own now. They rolled around on the carpeted floor a bit, but didn’t make any noise. I should say, didn’t make any inappropriate noise. Abby did sing along with the service, particularly the “Lord have mercy” responses to the litanies. She was even in tune with everyone else. Not bad for two years old. Everyone was quite impressed.

She enjoyed it so much that when we were in Sainsbury’s shopping several hours later, she was still singing “Lord have mercy” over and over, as she rode in the trolley up and down the aisles. I normally only say it when we get to the till and total appears on the screen above the register.

Symbolic Victory

After weeks of waffle about whether employees can wear cross necklaces, British Airways have finally officially caved in. Employees will now be allowed to wear visible religious symbols.

When when check-in agent Naida Eweida insisted on wearing her little cross on the outside of her uniform, BA bosses said no. She went on unpaid leave as an alternative to suspension. She appealed and lost. The outrage at, and criticism of, the management from every side, including every side of the House of Commons, forced them to review their rules.

They will now allow “a lapel pin symbol of faith such as a Christian cross or a Star of David, with some flexibility for individuals to wear a symbol of faith on a chain”. Compared to a turban or a hijab, which were already allowed, you wouldn’t think this would be such a big deal, requiring consultation with the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and the Muslim Council of Britain before making the changes.

As usual, the moderate Muslim community has to stand with Christians against the secularist multi-culturalists. I have seen this since the very early days of this blog when Tower Hamlets Council allegedly pulled hot cross buns off the school menus to avoid offending Muslims (then threatened to sue me for relating the story from the Sunday Telegraph). At that time a spokesman for the Mulsim Council of Britain said: “This is absolutely amazing. At the moment, British Muslims are very concerned about the upcoming war with Iraq and are hardly going to be taken aback by a hot cross bun. . . British Muslims have been quite happily eating and digesting hot cross buns for many years and I don’t think they are suddenly going to be offended.”