Archive for April, 2005

Another Myers-Briggs result…ESFJ

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005
ESFJ-The Provider
You scored 77% I to E, 57% N to S, 35% F to T, and 31% J to P!
Providers, a subgroup of the Guardians, take it upon themselves to arrange for the health and welfare of those in their care, as well as being quite sociable. Wherever they go, Providers take up the role of social contributor, happily giving their time and energy to make sure that the needs of others are met, that traditions are supported and developed, and that social functions are a success. Providers are extremely sensitive to the feelings of others, which makes them perhaps the most sympathetic of all the types, but which also leaves them rather self-conscious, that is, highly sensitive to what others think of them. Because of this Providers can be crushed by personal criticism, and will work most effectively when given ample appreciation both for themselves personally and for the service they give to others. This is not to say that Providers are afraid to express their own emotional reactions. They are quick to like and dislike

I am participating in Mystery Worshipper Sunday

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

If anyone isn’t aware of it, tomorrow is Mystery Worshipper Sunday here in London. The website Ship of Fools is running this event.

Mystery Worshipping has been going on for a while, and is the ecclesiastical equivalent of the Mystery Shopper. We worshippers go to a church where we are unknown and rate the service we attend. It’s been lots of fun for me.

I have been doing this for quite a while, and have rated such places as St. James Cathedral in Chicago, St. Michael’s Episcopal in Marblehead (my home town), and St. Peter’s Lutheran in Manhattan, as well as All Saints Margaret Street, St. James Garlickhythe and Southwark Cathedral here in London.

I can’t yet say which church I’ll be visiting tomorrow (need to keep it a secret in case they’re looking around the ‘net) but I will say that it’s not Anglican (bummer!).

I will post the URL of the report on 10th May, when the reports of all 60 London Mystery Worshippers are posted on the website.

I must look at my friends list more often

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

…as there were two people who have me on their Friends list but who were not on mine. I have remedied that.

How odd!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

I took this “test” and came out with Chicago and Philadelphia tied on top at 65%. It seems that my not driving matters little to the quiz: they think that Los Angeles fits me 55%.

Oh dear…

American Cities That Best Fit You:

65% Chicago
65% Philadelphia
60% Honolulu
60% Washington, DC
55% Los Angeles

Today’s Benedict XVI Story

Friday, April 22nd, 2005

From Father Paul Woodrum, via another source, comes the following story:

“A clerical colleague reports that, while dining at a German restaurant in Chicago this last week, he overheard the following snippet he kindly translated from the German.

“1st Person: ‘I hear it’s Ratzinger.’

“2nd Person: ‘I guess that means its out with the Swiss Guard and in with the Storm Troopers.'”

Father Guido Sarducci on Ratzinger

Thursday, April 21st, 2005

This clip is 5 MB but it’s worth every single byte.

Back from dinner…

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

…with . it was delightful to meet him, and we even got HWMBO to talk a lot. We had dinner at Wagamama’s, and really loved the duck gyoza and the coconut ice cream to end. We escorted him to the King’s Arms on Poland street and left him there; what adventures his buttons are now going through we cannot say.

The Pope’s apostolic lineage

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

If you’re interested, the guy who has the stats on every bishop of the RC Church since the 17th century or so has updated Ratzinger’s entry.

Reflection on Ratzinger after a sleepless night

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

I think that we will now see Benedict as John Paul II-Light: All the authoritarianism, none of the charm.

It is now obvious that the Cardinals (or, at least, the 2/3rds majority who voted for Ratzinger) see the main problem in the Church not to be justice for those who languish in poverty in the Roman Catholic bastions of South America and in the mixed cultures of Africa and Asia. They see the main problem of the Church to be the abandonment of Christianity in the cultures and governments of Europe and North America. They are looking for someone who can re-evangelise Europe. Curiously, Ratzinger’s latest book (unfortunately, I do not know the title) is a study of just this problem. I would study this book to see what direction Benedict’s papacy will take. That is, I would study it if I gave a Ratzinger’s ass.

The Church’s difficulty is that it looks at the situation as: We have the keys of the kingdom and the well of eternal life. All we have to do is sit around and guard it, and they will come. Society and the Roman Catholic Church are _not_ inhabiting a “Field of Dreams”. Spiritual values no longer emanate purely from a religious ethos. Humanists, atheists, Buddhists, and people of all types of creed and none also espouse spiritual values of a most valuable and insightful nature. The challenge that the Church faces today is to make itself acceptable to those who have abandoned it. Ratzinger is probably not the man to do this.

But then…my memory goes back to America of 1968. When Richard Nixon was elected, we were all horrified and convinced that it was the end of American civilisation as we had known it. And yet, Nixon was surprisingly effective in casting aside the Cold War rhetoric of his youth and opening the United States to the People’s Republic of China and to the world at large. Sometimes people’s perspectives change when their job description changes. I do not think that Ratzinger is going to moderate his attacks on those who in his view are heterodox. He is not going to go to charm school. He is also not going to be as energetic in his first days and months as John Paul II was in his first days and months. He will probably not see his 5th anniversary as Pope and almost certainly won’t see his 10th.

Things to look out for:

— What kind of cardinals will he appoint in his first Consistory (which will probably happen before autumn is well-advanced and may happen as soon as June)?
— Who will he appoint as his successor at the Holy Office?
— What will his first encyclical be about and at whom will it be aimed?
— How will he handle relations with other Churches and with other faiths than the Christian faith, especially the Jews, who must privately be wondering whether you can take the boy out of the Hitler Youth but can you take the Hitler Youth out of the boy. He was put in a re-education camp for a while after the surrender of Germany, and he served in the army for two years before deserting just a month before the end of the war in Europe. “His Heil-iness”, they must be thinking. Imagine the double-s at the end of the word replaced by the SS symbolic s-shaped thunderbolts. It’ll look good on protest signs.

Nostradamus predicted that there would be two popes after John Paul II. I put no faith in such predictions; however, it’s possible that Ratzinger can make this prediction come true by what he is, thinks, and does.

Oh shit, it’s Ratzinger

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

Oh, well. The only consolation is that he’s 78 so may not live very long. God willing, we’ll be doing this all over again in a few years.

However, the conservative tendency in the Church will now be reinforced, and Benedict XVI may put the nail in the coffin of liberal Catholic theology.

Have mercy!

I hope it’s not Ratzinger

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

White smoke and bells mean a new Pope.

If it’s Ratzinger we’re all down the spout.

Joblessness may be coming to an end Chez Hansen and Tan

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005

I sent an email out to my former boss, who had arranged to bring me back for a while as a contractor, reminding him that I couldn’t remain available forever. This seems to have done the trick, as I have to call him today to work out the arrangements for my triumphant return as a contractor. I also have to arrange for my umbrella company to bill my chum Steve for my services and pay me my pittance, less tax and etc. I was so enjoying my freedom.

In fact, it will probably be something like 5 days per month. However, that will be net fairly good money and might allow me to do something else with the other 25 or so days a month, such as education. It would be nice to have a graduate degree in something interesting.

I’m still trying to atone for lying down on the job when I was an undergraduate, I suppose.

Today’s Religious Comestible link

Sunday, April 10th, 2005

I guess recovery from heart surgery is quite difficult; may affect your religious beliefs.

What’s the best website visit tracker?

Friday, April 8th, 2005

I have had Nedstat as the visit tracker on my website for a long time (the free version). It’s OK, but I want more! I would like to be able to analyse and keep track of the search terms used to get to my website, and also do some analysis of where and when hits are made.

So I wonder if people reading my journal (a very select group) have any recommendations on visit tracking software they would care to share with me? I wouldn’t mind paying a small sum for it; free is good, but useful software is better.

An example of what Nedstat produces for my home page is here.

Popewatch finally over

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

Well, thank God it’s over.

The question in my mind is this: for the UK, where a General Election is imminent, political news will vie with news first about the Pope’s funeral, and then the election and coronation of the new one. If my recollection is correct, John Paul II’s funeral will be sometime towards the end of next week (Thursday or Friday). The Conclave begins 15 days after the pope’s death, or 20 days at the latest. That would mean April 17 or 18th for the start of the Conclave, and probably an election by the 20th. The Coronation (perhaps they don’t call it that any more) will then happen sometime toward the 25th to the 30th of April.

Parliament is probably going to be dissolved by the end of next week, and an election will probably happen on May 5th, when local elections for most of the local councils in England and Wales are set. So people’s attention will be divided between the two elections, one Papal, the other Presidential…er…Parliamentary (sorry for the slip; it’s so easy…) It will be difficult for the political parties to capture the mood and mind of the electorate when the media will be full of Roman Catholic pomp and ceremony.

This is probably one of the worst things that could happen to UK politics short of an assassination or the death of the monarch.

Oh, and that little soir

Music from the Hearts of Space

Friday, April 1st, 2005

I am a devotee of this program, and have been listening to it, on and off, almost since its inception. First it was in New York City, a hiatus in Chicago, then back to listening again in San Francisco, then a hiatus until they placed their program archive on the Web a few years ago. I subscribed to unlimited access, and have been able to hear the programs over the ‘net since then. Getting broadband has made it even better.

So imagine my surprise last weekend when their website changed formats and, all of a sudden, I couldn’t get access (which I had paid for). I emailed their helpdesk, and got a reply back on the weekend itself (commendable). The old service was hidden under the new interface, but, surprise surprise, it doesn’t support Opera. When queried, their support person said: “Thanks, Chris. We do intend to keep the current service active for the foreseeable future, and will most likely integrate the RealAudio streams into the new service. We cannot guarantee support for Opera, however, as it is losing the browser wars. Safari yes, We intend to support Firefox, and of course IE.”

I suppose this means that no matter which browser one picks, losing “the browser wars” means that websites will stop supporting it. I am getting a bit miffed with Opera, mainly because it’s not very resilient when it comes to detecting site encoding. If the site isn’t specific on how it’s encoded, Opera doesn’t do a good job of discovering what it’s encoded in and showing it to the punters as well as it can.

So my options are:

  • Go back to IE. I want to resist this; if I have to, I’ll save it for Hearts of Space and other inflexible providers.
  • Try Firefox. I was not cheered when I read this week that it has more open security problems than IE does.
  • Stop listening to HOS. I don’t want to do this.

What a pain this all is! While I don’t particularly like RealPlayer, I’ve come to an accomodation with it such that it doesn’t intrude on my “computer experience” and only docilely appears when I want it to, and is free.

I suppose I could get a MacMini…but HWMBO isn’t keen until I get a new job.

Today’s funny travel joke

Friday, April 1st, 2005

I subscribe to the “Travel Insider”, a very incisive report on various aspects of travel throughout the world. It’s written by David Rowell, and the URL for this week’s issue is here, although I get mine delivered via email.

At the end of this week’s newsletter, he said:

“Finally this week, did you hear about the passenger who had three bags to check for his flight to Los Angeles. He asked the gate agent ‘Could you please send the first bag to Las Vegas, the second bag to London, and the third bag to Hong Kong?’

“The gate agent said that would not be possible. The passenger replied

“‘I don’t see why not. That’s what you did with my bags when I flew to LAX last week.'”

Sadly, David’s newsletter (well worth a subscription for anyone who has ever flown or who ever plans to fly someplace) usually has bad news about travel and the industry in general. But it’s news that’s important to know. His homepage is here.

The History of the Universe…..

Friday, April 1st, 2005

in 60 Seconds or Less??? That’s the title of a video produced by the US National Science Foundation, from an original conception of the Annals of Improbable Research. It’s comprehensive, hilarious, and thought provoking.

The video is here. Be warned, it doesn’t work in Opera (you have to use IE, I fear) and you need RealPlayer.

The Annals of Improbable Research website has a bit of history on the History. All you need for this is a browser!