2005

Finally got Mozex going on Firefox with Mac OS X. This means I can edit my comments on LiveJournal with Vim rather than messing about with LJ’s comment posting box and the less powerful editing facilities from my browser. I can also use Danny O’Brien’s marvellous Google linkification script. Which is nice. It’d be even nicer if Firefox’s process creation API worked properly on Mac OS X, though.

As a result on all this mucking about, I’ve not had time to respond to comments on the God Hates Hair entry. I’ll get around to it sooner or later, though.

I have been arguing with nlj21 in another place. I must tell you that God gets quite irate about women with short hair, and about men with long hair (but beards are OK). My burden to see that the Scriptures are obeyed in this matter has caused me to seek a wider audience for my views, namely the countless tens of people who will read this. I may also look at establishing godhateshair.com if someone hasn’t already pinched it. Let us examine the matter:

<lj-cut text=”Grab your hermeneutics and exegete!”>
Our discussion started with an explanation of the Christian doctrine that a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ does over the church, as explained in Ephesians 5:22-25. Compare this with 1 Cor 11:1-3, where the Apostle Paul draws a similar relation between Christ, men and women, again using the analogy of a head (the same word for head is used in the Greek throughout, as you can verify at Blue Letter Bible).

Now, the Apostle’s argument the rest of the passage is not merely about marriage, but about hair. In the key verses 14 and 15 he writes: Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? (NIV), a rhetorical question which clearly expects the answer “Yes”, given the context.

We find a similar argument for the unnaturalness of homosexuality in Romans 1:27. We can see that when Paul argues from nature, his mind is on the divinely created order (here, he perhaps recalls Genesis 2:24).

Some might argue that this teaching on hair reflects Paul’s cultural background. However, the fact that Paul wishes us to consider the created order is made even clearer in a similar passage, 1 Tim 2:11-15, where Paul again writes about male authority, this time in leadership of the church. As others have also argued, when Paul writes that I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent, he writes not merely of his culture but of the created order, as 1 Tim 2:13 makes clear.

Returning to 1 Corinthians 11, we see that Paul again argues from the created order, in verses 8 and 9: For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (NIV again). Therefore this teaching (and the related implication about the importance of women wearing a hat or other head covering while praying) cannot be taken to be cultural.

What about the Nazarite vow of Numbers 6, which seems to show divine approval of long hair for men? This is a hard passage to understand, but let us concentrate on four points. Firstly, the vow was temporary, and does not sanction Christians who habitually sin by having long hair (or short hair if they are women). Secondly, the vow was an Old Testament sacrifice of a kind which is no longer required of Christians (q.v. most of the book of Hebrews). Thirdly, note that the eventual cutting off of the hair was pleasing to God. Fourthly, Numbers 6 in no way sanctions short hair for women.

To return from this somewhat technical digression, it is clear that Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11 is that long hair on men and short hair on women goes against the divinely created order.

Some might dispute the importance of this passage, given that Scripture does not mention God’s concern with hair elsewhere, but I would remind them that, as Paul writes in 2 Tim 3:16, all Scripture is God-breathed (NIV). Christians cannot pick and choose in these matters.

It is my hope that Bible-believing Christians will take this teaching seriously and act to remove the evil of bad hair in their churches, though this is probably somewhat forlorn as hair isn’t as exciting as bondage or buggery.

So say we all.

A fun weekend, full of late nights. On Friday, I joined scribb1e, bluap and a host of other potential villains at a murder mystery party. My character was Willie Wakeup, a German hypnotist, so was able to do my Gag Halfrunt impersonation. After bluap and I had used our Holmesian powers of deduction to correctly identify the murderer, people started swapping costumes, transforming David B into a French colonel figure. What do you think of this as a potential user icon?

chaos_natsci had a birthday party on Saturday, with lots of lovely food and interesting people. scribb1e, illusive_shelle and joanneelizabeth got started on reproducing the famous CDC Snog Graph. Note that the image enhancing technology that would enable you to read the graph from that picture only exists in films, so stop trying to zoom in using Microsoft Paint: the original is now in the hands of scribb1e, who is bound by the Hippocratic Oath, or something. There’s the suggestion that we should replace the nodes with blue or pink dots and then use it as a publicity poster. I think we slightly surprised the onlookers, who had thought that CDC was some sort of dancing club.

We went to a Proms in the Park concert in Bedford last night. There were the usual favourites, finishing up with singing Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory, and then watching a firework display while the orchestra played 633 Squadron and Live and Let Die. Great fun. The people waving flags all over the place gave me an unusual burst of national pride.

Aled Jones was there, much to the delight of the grannies. He has an excellent singing voice: I don’t think I’ve heard him sing since Walking in the Air all those years ago. Among other things, he sang How Great Thou Art, which is apparently the nation’s favourite hymn.

I once sang it on a hillside in Derbyshire, on a CU houseparty. It was night. We could see the lights of the village below (whose residents hopefully couldn’t hear us). There was a cloudless, starry sky. I see the stars, indeed. Aled Jones’s singing, beneath another clear night sky, was fiercely evocative of that moment, one of those echoes which left me feeling strangely dissociated. The music can revive the emotions from that time, but the reason behind them has gone, and, of course, these days any emotional response associated with Christianty is also tinged with something of the pain of loss (although it’s not particularly searing, thankfully, more a sort of nostalgia).

So, I came home and watched the latest episode of season two of Battlestar Galactica, which fell off the back of a lorry and landed at my feet, guv’nor. It’s good stuff, although as some fans have said, I live in fear that the writers don’t actually know where they’re going, and the whole thing will end up like The X-Files. Still, there are some obvious future plotlines being set up, so we live in hope.

Someone on a web page I was reading the other day compared the present unpleasantness to the Idiran-Culture war. I do hope not: the things a highly technological society can do when forced to defend its very existence don’t bear thinking about. With that in mind, and with my Stephenson “some cultures are better than others” hat on, Blair’s latest proposals sound like a good idea.

Linkage from the other blogs I read:

By careful experiment, someone proves that the fundamentalists are wrong to say that roleplaying games and Harry Potter are dangerous.

There’s an interesting post over at Metafilter discussing Austrialian broadcaster Philip Adams, who faces off with quite the most arrogant atheists you could ever hope to meet.

Finally, Jacqueline Passey seeks traveling companion and lover. And why not? I think you’d need to be a devotee of Ayn Rand to be in with much of a chance, though. Ms Passey has a quite straightforward view of religion too, as it happens.

I got into a discussion on cam.misc (the local newsgroup) on drunks in Cambridge (as it’s on cam.misc, the thread dissolves into local politicians saying it isn’t their fault and a discussion of Cambridge traffic). Apparently, the Mayor gave an interview to the local rag about it, which was picked up by the Torygraph. I also found an interesting article in the Observer, which accuses the Government of being double-minded about drink.

As I said on the group, in the case of the big chain pubs who blight the centre of town by disgorging drunks onto the narrow streets at 11 pm, I’d favour the police being a bit more rigourous in enforcing the law, which says that pubs may not serve someone who’s visibly drunk. Having the chains pay for extra policing also seems like a good plan. While, as the original poster said, it isn’t downtown Detroit, and as someone else said, this is part of a national trend, it’s also an observable fact that the city centre is a less friendly place than it used to be before the arrival of the big chains.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect the forthcoming liberalisation of opening hours has on all this: I’m not particularly optimistic, but I take the point that staggered closing times at least mean all the drunks aren’t on the street at once.

Brits have never been good at handling their drink, of course, but there seems to be frustratingly little official will to actually do anything about this at the moment (doing something about it does not equate to passing new laws, since we have plenty of those already, but rather, seeing them enforced).

Peter Watts came up with the presentation on the biology of vampires I mentioned a while back. He’s finally published two of his novels, Starfish and Maelstrom, on the web. You can download PDFs of them on his site.

The books tell the story of some physically and chemically modified deep sea divers, working on a powerstation built on a geothermal vent in the deep ocean, who find something unexpected down there (and no, it’s not aliens :-). The books have been described as dystopian, but I didn’t find them particularly depressing, possibly because I was enjoying the ideas so much. Watts’s characterisation is better than that of certain other writers with great ideas, though, with people who are believable, if not always very pleasant.

The other night at bluap‘s, I was muttering at somebody about parasites which alter a host’s behaviour to benefit the parasite, and mentioned that I’d read on Watts’s site that a parasite which affects rats and cats also affects humans, making women more friendly and less choosy sexually, and making men cantankerous and unkempt. I couldn’t remember the name of the beast, but it turns out that the organism in question is toxoplasma gondii, which is a parasite endemic in cats. According to the Times, it has the effects in humans I remembered. I think I was making slightly ranty comparisons to the unequally yoked doctrine of evangelical Christianity at the time, as that was where the conversation had started. Unlike Unequally Yoked, it’s not clear whether toxoplasma does benefit from modifying human sexual behaviour, or whether that’s a side-effect of the lack of caution it induces in the brains of the other mammals which host it. Still, it’s fascinating stuff, and the sort of thing which Watts explores in his books.

ladysisyphus wins at the Internet (contains spoilers for the latest Harry Potter book, sort of). Apparently The Wasteland is one of the most parodied poems in English literature.

scribb1e graduated on Saturday, and now has degrees in medicine and surgery. Cambridge’s graduation ceremony is marvelous pantomime: largely in Latin, with doffing of caps and each group of graduands in turn holding on to the finger of the person presenting them to be graduated. Mercifully, there are no speeches telling you how to be a good citizen or giving advice on wearing sunscreen (personally, I favour this version). The college Praelector did a good bit at lunch about how the Proctors used to be able to arrest young ladies caught about town with undergraduates and sentence them to a few weeks labour in the spinning house (mind you, if Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver is anything to go by, being a Person of Quality meant you could get away with whatever you liked), but it wasn’t clear that we were supposed to draw from this example.

Speaking of things medical, I ran across the blog of Magnificent Bastard the other day, and liked it enough to read back through the archives. He’s funny, occasionally cynical, and writes about life and religion as well as the usual funny doctor stories.

This post doesn’t contain spoilers, and I’ll warn if I link to one which does.

scribb1e bought the new Harry Potter book, and I read it after she’d finished with it. I didn’t particularly enjoy the last one, which I thought was very long and which we both thought was confusing in places (I couldn’t honestly say I felt I could imagine what the interior of the Ministry of Magic was like, for example). I did like this one. I’m still not quite sure what the fuss is about, but it was enjoyable, well written and more coherent than the last book.

I’d already been spoiled for the book’s biggest surprise by the countless trolls on LJ with their marvelous flashing icons. It’s my own fault for reading Encyclopedia Dramatica (WARNING: Not Safe For Anything), I suppose: I’m a sucker for sarcastic toilet humour. I liked the mock spoilers broin posted in andrewducker‘s journal.

Apparently, some of the people who’ve been writing fanfiction about which characters will get it on have been disappointed. kenboy gives the fanficcers some helpful suggestions (contains spoilers). The people over at Fandom Wank have helpfully collated the very best of Half Blood Prince drama (even more spoilers). It’s all good.

Update: mistful posts some thoughtful comments (spoilerific) on the book.

Greasemonkey is an extension for the Firefox browser which lets you write little programs to change how websites appear. For example, ilishin has created a script which lets you expand collapsed LJ comment threads in place (that is, on the same page, rather than on a new one). It only seems to work with the standard comment layout at the moment, but I hope the author will fix that soon (if not, it doesn’t look so hard that I couldn’t do it myself).

I noticed that the later versions of Greasemonkey support a key/value database which persists when you shut down and restart your browser. This means that it’s probably possible to write something which remembers how many comments there are for an entry and will highlight items (on your Friends list, say) which have new comments. It might even be possible to highlight the new comments themselves, although it’s not clear how good the database is, so you’d want to avoid overloading it, I suppose. I was vaguely aware of Greasemonkey, but I don’t think I’d realised just how much it can do. Greasemonkey may be the thing which makes me switch from Safari to Firefox (it’s just a shame nobody has sorted out Mozex for the Mac, as that’d certainly clinch it for me, too: I miss being able to edit LJ comments in a proper text editor).

Think I’d better dance now.