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Archive for February, 2016

Paradise Lost

There's a Weatherspoons now, where Pooh once napped.
The bee-tree succumbed to ash die-back.
The rabbits' field is a parking lot,
And the heffalump trap's now an office block.
Where the Woozle wasn't, a Tesco's is.
The Floody Place—drained. (T'was unsafe for kids.)
Eeyore's place, though boggy and sad,
Was a wildlife haven, which made us glad;
But now, with the Council's eager backing,
They'll soon be using it for fracking.

Daz

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Even Educated Fleas Do It

Six songs of love and lust for Valentine's day. Hopefully these are unusual enough that you won't find 'em on any of the gazillion-and-one other song-lists people post today. As ever—keeping that desire to be a bit unusual in mind—feel free to add suggestions in comments.
Daz

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On Predestination

If there's one form of Christian belief which gets my "if this were true" goat more than any other, I would have to say that it's the hard-line calvinistic idea of predestination. The Fount Of All Knowledge™ puts it well:

Reformed theologians teach that sin so affects human nature that they are unable even to exercise faith in Christ by their own will. While people are said to retain will, in that they willfully sin, they are unable to not sin because of the corruption of their nature due to original sin. To remedy this, Reformed Christians believe that God predestined some people to be saved. This choice by God to save some is held to be unconditional and not based on any characteristic or action on the part of the person chosen.

They wilfully sin but they are unable not to sin—the very definition of "not wilful." Huh?

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We’re All In It Together!

I wonder if Davie Cameron's ever picked the mould
Off a loaf of bread and eaten it sans butter.
Does he pick up pennies from the gutter?
I wonder if he watches the electric metre
As his heater eats the power
Of an exactly measured kilowatt-hour.
To save money to feed
His son or his daughter
Does he shave in cold water?
Has he walked five miles for a tin of beans
That's just tuppence cheaper
Than his local Price Beater?
Is his bed the only place where it's warm?
Does he always sniff the milk before making tea?
How does David cope with aus-terity?

Daz

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Having fallen asleep over a book containing lots of quotations from letters and what-not from the seventeenth century (Antonia Fraser's The Weaker Vessel; which I highly recommend), I half-woke up several hours later and, for some reason, couldn't stop pondering on the seemingly ubiquitous non-use of apostrophes therein. Some vaguely-remembered advice from an English Language teacher on the subject of writing which was meant to be read aloud versus writing which wasn't, kind of bubbled to the surface. When confronted with a sentence containing many "s" endings, he told us, if the sentence is to be read aloud, be sure that there's no possible confusion between possessives, plurals and words which merely happen to end with the letter.

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So it seems we're stuck with the Lords and Ladies Spiritual. Not unexpected, but still sad.

Separation of church and state?
You'll have theocracy and like it!
We're going nowhere, we're here to stay.
Stick that in your smoke and pipe it!

We bring a message from on high.
You're ours; we don't need your consent.
What you need is pie from the sky;
Government that's Heaven-sent.

Piety by proclamation,
Force-fed though you clamp your jaw.
Our creed shoved down the throats of a nation—
Religion forced at the point of law.

Welcome to the seventeenth century, Gentle Reader. Please remember; prayers should be read only from the Book Of Common Prayer, on pain of, well, pain.
— ✝ William Laud Cantuar


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"The saddest words in the English language," says Bob Hutton, are "'If only…'." And there's many would agree with him. So many, in fact, that it's something of a cliché. But Bob's extremely predictable pious prattle aside, I got to wondering where this cliché first took flight.

Well, as far as a half-hour of googling can tell, surprisingly recently. In an eighteen fifty-four poem, Maud Muller, by the wonderfully named John Greenleaf Whittier, these lines appear:

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