April 2004

AD&D is 30! Rejoice and be glad. Slashdotters’ comments on the story predictably revolve around how little sex AD&D players (or other geeks) get. This is reverse psychology applied to the universe at large: if the Slashdotters make enough jokes about it, the universe will feel compelled to prove them wrong. Or so they hope.

Among the votive offerings to an uncaring universe, there appeared RPG player staples like Eric and the Dread Gazebo and The Dead Alewives sketch. I’d like to add The Lord of the Rings: The RPG to the list.

Darque Dungeon (spot the LJ Goth references) is a parody of Jack Chick’s Dark Dungeons, a Chick strip in which the best part is Mike praying for her… That’s Christian for “I’d like to be buried with you [shurely “in you” – Ed.]. Up to the balls”. It’s funny, because you know it’s true.

While we’re on Chick, it seems he lawyered the original site of Cthulhu Chick, a parody of Chick’s The Choice. Luckily, Eric S Raymond has a copy. Chick vs ESR! Fetch the popcorn. Fetch the precedents cited by Brad Templeton. And remember: ESR has guns. Lots of guns.

Had a fine barbeque at PaulB’s last night. I’ve put up some pictures of the goings on. For terriem, here’s the perfect Chris de Burgh karaoke song, from Bill Bailey (I’ve linked to it before, but it seems some people shockingly don’t read all the crap I write).

We also visited Milton Country Park again yesterday. The weather’s just too nice to be indoors all weekend.

In blogland, ladysisyphus posted this and then this about The Passion of Christ, wherein it is revealed that it’s a very bad film. I don’t really like horror films, so I’m not in a desperate hurry to see it.

A copy of a letter to the Grauniad from a raging fundy led me to Steve Locks’s huge site on leaving Christianity. And you thought I was verbose. Lots to read there.

I was quietly moved by aldon‘s posting on the war in Iraq. S sang No Man’s Land to me a little while ago. Unk… I’m divided between admiration of people who will make the ultimate sacrifice for what they believe and Diziet Sma’s far more cynical explanation (it’s in the signature of that posting).

Let’s play out on badgers.

I had a pleasant weekend of eating out. S and I hit the town on Saturday; I went out with robhu and Safi on Sunday.

Much discussion of religion on Sunday. I remember mentioning James Fowler’s Stages of Faith (surely begging for a Quizilla meme), and N.T. Wright’s thoughts on what the Apostle Paul meant by the word gospel.

If I’d had time, I would also have mentioned this article on Process Theology which I found after Googling for stuff ladysisyphus mentioned. It’s good to see my own thoughts about Romans 1 being thought of by someone else too. As usual, I find myself asking why don’t you just give up? when I read this sort of thing, but it’s also kind of interesting.

No great insights from all this discussion, apart from Slartibartfast’s: that I’d far rather be happy than right any day. Logic is occasionally over-rated.

Update: The discussion continues in the comments, with contributions from me, robhu, and someone called FoaF.

This weekend we went to Walberswick and Southwold, walked along the beach and looked at stuff. As is traditional when soaking up the faded seaside grandeur(OMT), lunch was eaten in the car to avoid the inclement weather.

I’ve also had a spring clean and found my original notes, dated 6th June 1998, on a talk to graduates at StAG on how to avoid plummeting back into the outer darkness when you leave university. I’ve mentioned the talk before, but it was in one of those postings from last year, so, for people who can’t read it, <lj-cut text=”here’s what I said”>here’s what I said:

does this not cause said evangelical Christians to examine their methods as obviously ineffective

Hmm… You’d have thought they would have addressed this, if so many people were giving up on leaving university. I did some further research into this: the UCCF discussion forums contain this posting which confirms it “anecdotally”. However, the UCCF webmaster then says that they know of no survey giving a high percentage falling away and quotes another survey from the 1970s with a large proportion of leavers still carrying on in the faith. I’d a feeling I’d discussed this before, and it turns out I have. Google hasn’t indexed my own postings to the thread, annoyingly, but my own archive has me saying “I thought this was one of those urban legends, but my curate said something before I graduated about the percentage having gone up from the last time the UCCF did the survey.” So, my evangelical church certainly believed it, whethers it’s true or not, and people have a generally feeling that it happens, but there’s no survey known to the CU’s umbrella organisation. Odd.

I heard about the high fall away rate in a talk to leavers about the importance of getting into a good church and not going out with non-Christians (this sucks if you’re a girl anywhere but Oxbridge, I think). So it’s possibly a scare story. But assuming the curate wasn’t knowingly dishonest, which I find hard to believe, I’d say they think that people fall away because they do not look after their faith by establishing themselves in good churches and so on, ie it’s the fallers’ fault, not the CU’s. Christianity does expect some people to give up: take a look at the parable of the sower, for example.

My notes say that over half of CU leavers will no longer be committed within 5 years. It’d be interesting to know where that figure came from, given that the UCCF itself can’t reproduce it. Edited to add: Fall-away rates are discussed a bit more in a later post of mine. But there’s more:

Q1. Why do people give up?

  • World – not being in Χian community.
  • Flesh – sin, eg sexual, or whatever.
  • Devil – “was I ever a Χian?”

Q2. What mistakes did the Israelites make?

  • Idolatry – something takes God’s place.
  • Sexual immorality – 1 Thess 4 love vs lust. Χianity not about being morally perfect but about trusting God for forgiveness.
  • Testing God – pushing the boundaries, rejecting commands.
  • Grumbling.

There’s also the obligatory mention of Hebrews 10, although to my mind that’s about lax Christians (ex-Christians are still doomed of course, but not by that passage, ISTM).

I’m trying to work out where I fit into this little scheme. I never quite felt I fitted in at church, and in fact had a closer circle of friends among the CDC people. It’s interesting how the evangelical obssession with sexual sin comes out here: without breaking confidences, I think it’s fair to say rank-and-file evangelicals are assenting to one thing and doing another when it comes to sex, and that’s certainly a source of guilt and uncertainty. And of course, anyone going through the doubts which must lead up to leaving the church is going to wonder whether their experience was ever real in the first place. Can I have “all of the above”, please Bob?

Mozex is an extension to the Mozilla/Netscape browser. It works on both Windows and Linux. Among the useful things it does is enable you to edit textareas in forms (such as, say, the LJ “post comment” form) using an external editor. I’ve been looking for something which like this for a while. While my client lets me use an editor to compose journal entries, it doesn’t work for comments. I like being able to use my own favourite editor, where I can use Google tricks like the ghref script.

Among the best April Fools jokes today are LJ’s own pranks of changing “Friends” to “Stalkers” and creating lj_serialadder, who appears to have friended just about everyone, at least briefly. Count the sheer number of whining lamers in that journal. Astonishing.

I also liked morayallan‘s apt-gentoo. And IF Quake is rather good, too. I loaded it into Frotz and it plays! Hmm… not quite sure I believe them about needing the .pak files from the original Quake.

This year’s crop of April Fool RFCs was not a patch on RFC 1149.

Gmail, Google’s proposed mail service, seems to be for real. One to watch, anyway.

I got into a brief flame war on lj_biz for pointing out that it’s possible to spam via LJ by sending out lots of community invites. People, if you’re using the DCC you know you have to whitelist sources of legitimate bulk email. So, I’ve not caused LJ’s emails to disappear into a bottomless pit.

On that subject, the DCC plugin for Spampal is in beta-testing, so the DCC is not just for Unix users anymore.

DoeS aNy Boydie know how to get friends of friends to only display people who are connected via other users and not via communities?