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More Christian advice needed

So now we know the Bible says it’s bad to be gay, I have a couple of other questions regarding Christianity which regularly find their way to my email inbox…

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

Anyone have any advice?

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

The Mail’s coming to get you…

From Catherine Bennett’s column in Thursday’s Grauny:

Readers of the Daily Mail are used to being frightened out of their wits, usually by you-couldn’t-make-it-up announcements to the effect that Tony Blair is developing plans to hand out morning-after pills to war veterans, or to sell sick puppies into the white slave trade. But the most hardened readers must have been shocked, yesterday, to find the paper resorting to outright threats. “Free Christmas Cartoon DVD”, it announced on the front page. Adding, in the spirit of we-know-where-you-live: “Collect yours from WH Smith today, or we’ll post the whole collection to your home”.

Be afraid; be very afraid.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

Issuing guns to all police officers

Following on from yesterday’s post about the suggestion that capital punishment should be brought back, today I thought I’d comment on the equally silly suggestion that all police officers should carry guns.

Before I make any argument, let’s look at the figures. 11 police officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty in the UK in the last twenty years. 30 civilians have been shot and killed by police officers in the line of duty in the UK in the last twelve years. That means that about one police officer is shot dead every couple of years, while the police shoot dead five civvies in the same amount of time. To the best of my researching powers, every single one of the police officers shot dead in the last twenty years have resulted in prosecution of the civvy with the gun. Of the thirty civvies shot and killed, not one has resulted in a police officer with a gun being prosecuted – even in the cases where the civvies were completely innocent.

To me, that alone suggests that arming every police officer is not a bright idea.

Figures aside, let’s think about this. The suggestion is that every police officer should be given a two-day training course, then sent out on the street with a gun. Frankly, after a two-day training course, they’ll be lucky to be able to hit a guy at six paces without some ‘collateral damage’. Then there’s the medical aspect – you don’t need great eye-sight to be in the police. I could be in it. But I have a squint. Should I ever try and fire a gun, I’ll miss the target by a mile. What are you going to do with police like me? Not arm me, so I become the obvious target in a force of armed officers? Or kick me out, despite loyal service?

People claim that the police would only use the guns in the most extreme circumstances. To be frank, I say that’s bollocks. You see a guy coming at you with a knife. You’re unarmed, so, with heart thumping, you try to negotiate. Worse case scenario, you fail. You’ve got a knife sticking out of your abdomen, because you weren’t wearing your knife-proof vest. That’s not a good state to be in, but you’re pretty certain to survive, and get over it, returning to complete health. Yes, it would take time, but you put yourself on the front line, that was your choice. Now consider that you’re armed. Before the guy gets to you, you pull out your gun. He keeps coming towards you. Luckily, you’re quite talented at shooting, avoid the rest of the people on the busy street, and shoot and kill the guy. He ain’t going to recover. He’s dead. No court will ever be able to decide whether he was guilty, psychiatrically impaired, in need of help, or whatever. He’s dead. He’ll never get a chance to tackle his problems.

I’m by no means suggesting that all attackers would continue to lunge. But some would, and those would die. And that can’t really be too good.

All police being armed raises the stakes of the game significantly, and means that much more premeditated crime will involve guns. If the police have them, the criminals will have to match or even beat them. Gun crime soars, the streets become inevitably more dangerous. And then there’s the issue of the guns falling into the wrong hands, or even new, inexperienced police officers being attacked for their guns. Not a healthy prospect.

And the final point… It completely changes the relationship between the public and the police. For example, I’m quite heartened to see the (very) occasional police officer on the beat now and again. Would I be so heartened if I knew he was carrying a gun, and capable of lethal force? I think not. And I think some in the police would let that power go to their heads, and imagine (even more-so than now) that they are an untouchable, greater class, rather than public servants policing by consent.

So, as far as I can see, there are many more arguments of greater power for keeping the police unarmed than there are for routinely arming them. So it’s not something I’d support.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

Capital punishment

Following the killing of PC Beshenivsky, several people who should know better have been calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty for those who kill police officers. This is a pretty silly proposal, as anyone with a handful of brain cells can recognise (too harsh?).

First and foremost, why is the death of a police officer any more terrible than the death of someone with a different job? Why is it more terrible than the killing of a child? Heck, why is it more terrible to kill a single police officer than it is to kill a tower block full of civvies? Especially when you consider that police officers are actively remunerated for the risk that they may be harmed on duty?

Secondly, people who kill police, by definition, do not expect to be caught. They’re killing the police either in a moment of clouded judgement or because they think they’re going to get away. No criminal is going to stand there and say ‘Fair cop, guv, slap the ol’ han’cuffs on then’ just because killing a police officer carries the death penalty, because they’re not considering the penalty at the time of the crime.

Thirdly, if we go about killing people based on a single decision taken in a split second, set against the background of their whole life, why are we any better than the criminals?

This proposal serves no serious purpose other than to allow some barbaric form of satisfaction for the bereaved. And, frankly, I thought humanity was better than that.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

Pretty amazing Christmas lights

You think you’ve seen Christmas lights? You haven’t, until you’ve seen these. Whack up the volume, and be impressed… though how on Earth the people in that house sleep at night with those lights, I’ve really no idea. (via)

To save you having to download the video in bit-hungry format, here it is streamed for you…

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

Austin has died

David Austin, one of my two favourite newspaper cartoonists, has died, aged seventy. It’s strange to think that despite never having met the man, he’s made me smile probably thousands of times, even laughing out loud on occasion. The Guardian, which carried an Austin on its front page and another inside for many years, has a tribute by my other favourite, Steve Bell, a leader column in his praise, and, of course, a full obituary. I will miss him.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

62m Americans wanted this guy’s finger on the button…

President BushHe’s apparently leader of the free world. He’s arguably the most powerful man on the planet. Yet, like the greatest of heroes, he’s thwarted by the simplest of things. Like locked doors. Or micturition. Or bicycles. Or pretty much anything, really. I may have to rethink that ‘Greatest of Heroes’ bit…

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

A ‘thing’ about memorials and Acts of Remembrance

Last week, we had a memorial service for those killed in the London bombings. Today is Remembrance Sunday, where we remember those killed at war. And next week, there’s probably some other memorial service for people killed in another horrific tragedy. And all of these kinds of events make me feel the same way: If I died in some extraordinary fashion, I wouldn’t want to be remembered at these services.

There are very few things I can think of which are more depressing than the thought of being remembered for your death, rather than for your life. How many of those killed in the London bombings would want to be remembered as the person killed in a terrorist attack? How many more would prefer to be remembered for the happiness they brought to their family, and the good they did with their lives?

How many servicemen killed in battle would want to be remembered for enduring the worst possible conditions, far from home, only to die in unimaginable pain at the hands of the enemy? How many more would prefer to be remembered for the time they spent with their families, friends, and colleagues before being forced to fight for their country?

When the time comes, if some great atrocity carries me off, if I’m lucky enough to be remembered then please put the end to the back of your mind, and remember my life before you remember my death.

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

More than a penny for your thoughts

For the last year or so, I’ve been taking part in internet research with a couple of online companies, which basically involves filling in the odd survey they email to me. It’s not bad work – for five minutes here and there, I’ve earned over £35 in the last year – not bad going, I think! Which is why it surprises me that I’ve never blogged about it before. So, as I’ve just requested another £5 voucher for surveys answered, I thought now was as good a time as any to recommend the idea to you.

The two companies who’ve sent most surveys my way are Valued Opinions and YouGov. The former tend to be more generous than the latter – Valued Opinions tend to pay between £1 and £2 per survey (though some offer much, much more), and they’re generally quite short and sweet. They also pay out once your account balance reaches £5, which it obviously does quite quickly at that rate. YouGov tend to be a little more stingy, usually offering about 50p per survey, or just entry into a prize draw. Their surveys often take quite a while to complete, too, and you only get paid when your account balance reaches £50. However, surveys tend to land in your inbox more often with them, and you get paid by cheque whereas Valued Opinions pay you in shopping vouchers of your choice.

Of course, you’re never obliged to take part in any surveys if you don’t have the time or inclination to do so, but the more you take part in, the higher the account balance gets. Some of the surveys are quite interesting too, particularly when it’s research where companies are looking at launching new products, or adverts are being tested out – It’s fun to then see the results of the research hit the real world.

So there you go – it’s a good, easy, and relatively painless way of getting paid (admittedly not huge amounts) for doing relatively little. And isn’t that what we all want?

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

Humour in the aftermath of Blair’s defeat

Clearly, the fact that Blair has finally been defeated is humourous in itself, but the reactions to it have also tickled. Start off with the desperate-to-be-loyal Blairites, who insist that, despite the fact that 30 of his own MPs have defied him, he has apparently not lost his authority. Yeah, right.

And then, on the other side of the political fence, the amusing interview with IDS, in which he said it was important to stand together and vote as a party on these issues. Until it was pointed out that several Tories had voted Labour’s way. When suddenly he completely contradicted himself and told us he’d always thought that it was on issues like these that politicians should vote with their consciences. Well done with that one.

Today, we descended further into the realms of bizarre claims and general ridicule as Mr Blair claims that he’s more in touch with the common man than his MPs. I think there’s a chance his head is more in touch with his own rectum that most people’s, but that’s pretty much all he’s in touch with.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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