Thursday, November 23, 2006

I have Moved

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Monday, November 13, 2006

How about this

mmm.....Stuff isnt posting right now. But will this post work. Please ignore this post, its just for fixing stuff's sake

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Kooks, Musical tastes, Anger anyone?

I am becoming a bit of a fan for The Kooks, as a musician I want to see a little more in band than just staying in time with each other, what I enjoy about the Kooks other than imaginitive guitar playing, fun bass and brilliant drums is that they are pushing it a bit, genre wise they are everywhere and a good way. You get a good feel of their influences, and I swear the top gear theme tune is at the end of one of the tracks! Anyway I have a habit of hearing bands names, that start with "The" and then I just hear white noise after that because of the explosion of "The" bands and write them off, Well feel free to listen to the Kooks, a fun rock album. As I was listening to the Kooks this morning, I was thinking about how popular rock/indie (I dont claim to be able to tag genre very well) has changed, then I wondered whether it was just my tastes that had changed? Firstly though, I think rock has changed, evolved if you will, some more funky edges coming (see Maroon5) and even lines being blurred (LP/JZ -Collision Course). Secondly as I have branched out, and enjoy many different types of music (probably due to the lack of peer grouping in School/College, where you were labelled by your music) I've had to pitch my music tent in the middle a bit. So for example, I dont listen to quite so much (if any!) hard music that I used to listen to, this I guess is a combination of musical tastes being affected by becoming a musician, also the acceptability of certain music types in (Christian) social circles, and the fact they have a less anger probably (which is what most would like to attribute the lack of listening to, but Im afraid they all take a fairly equal part)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Truth isnt Sexy

 The Truth Isn't Sexy

This is a campaign from Protest4, a Social Justice movement run by some Christians and as I read, while browsing Schotts Almanac 2007, That its the 200th Anniversary (1807)Parliament abolishing the slave trade. I thought I would give some space on the blog for this important organisation, The Truth Isn’t Sexy campaign has been devised to expose the truth between human trafficking and prostitution. Networks of criminal gangs are exploiting impoverished communities across our world and are buying and selling women and children as though they were commodities. Promised a life freed from poverty, these girls are easy targets. All it takes is an unfortunate response to a carefully worded advert in a local newspaper, a new boyfriend skilled in the art of manipulation, or a scheming family. The girl is then passed from the hands of care-less traffickers and sold on to brothels. The atrocities these innocent women suffer can be compared with the worst type of slavery. Many of the girls have no idea that they will be involved in the sex-industry and those who do are often misled about the violent and brutal entrapment that awaits them. Often having to service 30 to 40 men a day, they are kept locked up in brothels unable to access help. They are brutalized and threatened until they are broken and compliant. Technically this is organised rape. Trafficked girls usually have no control over their earnings. They are told by their owners to pay off the highly inflated expenses of the journey; a journey they were either duped into taking or took without the knowledge of such costs being incurred. However, working off these ‘debts’ is almost impossible owing to constant fines and additional charges for food and board in the brothels. As well as the financial trap, they are caught in a physical and mental trap that uses violence and emotional coercion to maintain their enslavement. The Truth Isn’t Sexy Campaign aims to raise awareness about the reality of this trade.
  • It is estimated that 80,000 men in London regularly pay for sex.
  • Of the girls solicited by these men, one in three are not ‘happy hookers’.
  • Trafficking will continue to increase where there is money and demand.
  • More lives will be ruined.

Please Love Ted

I struggled with whether to say anything on the whole Ted Haggard thing, which is going so crazy on the blogs and news that I can call it such an undescriptive name as I have, for those of you this side of the pond who missed it get the news here. TallSkinnyKiwi has written the first post I have read which focusses on the important issues, which motivated me to write this in order to link that My thoughts have been 3 fold in this: For him: The shame and difficulty of an inward battle, ravaging your life as it emerges from the shadows, effecting your family, friends and ministry. While what he has done was clearly wrong, Im sure Ted Haggard doesn't need to be told. He needs grace, understanding, Love, and to be out of the spotlight, to work with his family out of the rubble of what has happened His Family: Who can know the pain, shock and shame they must feel, Andrew@TSK has written a beautifully compassionate post about Ted Haggards kids and our prayers for them can be guided by his own reflections. His Family: How do you deal with this, when a friends seriousl dirty laundry gets hung out. My Hope for his friends, and my aspirations for myself, were I ever to be in this situation is that I would abandon any thought of self preservation, or reputation, and invest all the love, grace and mercy I could muster, being loyal in my love for a friend.

Guess That Logo

If you're a regular internet go-er you'll be familiar with the logos for ebay, google and myspace, but are you sure you know them? Heres a much more difficult than I imagined test on Internet Logos

iTunes thrift store

Yesterday, I was reading Live a Big life, I love Andy's design work on this site, and conceptually its a great idea (once Id worked it out), so I decided to jump out of Google Reader and have a read the post in its design context (I wonder if RSS will ever address that...I guess not actually seeing as the letters stand for Really Simple!). Anyway I thought Id have a quick look at the side bar, seeing what Andy is watching, listening to etc. I clicked on this AllofMp3 link.


I started seeing album covers I recognised and crazy low USD prices on them. I thought there must be some catch, like you rent the MP3 for a month, or it streams, has a crazy encoding that needs its own player, Nope.....well surely its illegal...Nope! I got the full bio of it here when searching for all of mp3 review, thinking this must be wrong! Here is the reason for this much cheapness!- Copyright organizations in Russia, unlike most of their colleagues abroad, are willing to close favorable deals with online music services. For one thing copyrights for downloads in Russia are more or less equal to the rights radio stations have to pay for broadcasting music. But the most important factor is that one US dollar is worth lots of rubles. In Russia CDs cost about 100 rubles ($3). So to Russians Allofmp3 is in fact almost as expensive as iTunes to Americans. - So it seems ladies and gents we have found (with major hat tip to Andy White) the iTunes thrift store...but wait is everything as it seems? heres a review from my frenzied usage last night: I drove home imagining all the albums, I could legally download for a couple of quid!...and still sleep sound knowing I had actually paid for them, and not having the trouble from P2P (now clearly illegal) downloading of crappy qualities and files being hi-jacked. I got home and set up an account with allofmp3, all OK so far. Then I tried to add some money to the account (it works as a top up scheme instead of iTunes pay per download) All was lost!....they were not accepting credit cards at the moment, but I thought I saw a way round by buying an xrost prepay card and transfering it to allofmp3, but when trying to add money that way, they didnt accept VISA....argh! This was excrutiating, so near yet so far, like a glass of water to a thirsty man, stuck in a glass box (apprently!). Then again another way round, you could also buy xrost pre pay cards through Click and Buy, a BT service! SO off I trotted rubbing my music desiring mitts, but then NO again, the BT (horrifically designed site) would accept the city I lived in, and the error message was cut off half way through so there seemed no way to do it. I was beaten...but I thought maybe a little persistence would help, 7th time it went through I opened an account, paid up $20 (£10.47), registered the card on allofmp3 and added the albums to my basket like a squirrel on the last day before winter gathering nuts. SO how did they download, I thought this was meant to be a review not a collection of strange metaphorical images?? Once placed into the basket, you go to the album, and save target as.. a right click option most will be familiar with, but you have to do it for each song, which is a bit of an inconveniece. Another inconvenience is that the files are mixed and matched and some have tags (for their importing into iTunes with Album and Artists etc then some dont. So basically theres a little leg work in getting them ship shape, for the iPod transfer. The files were excellent quality, and (not that I see that Ill ever need to use this function, you can choose the bitrate (quality) and file extension you want the file in!....

So in Conclusion to this sporadic and strange review of All of MP3, I give it a 5/10 for usability, 7/10 for Quality of Service, 9/10 for Value for Money (lets face it the only thing better would be free, legal music!) The usability issues are easy to overcome with a couple of minuites of playing around and are well worth the while for the money your paying compared to iTunes.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Blogging for an audience?

Ill tell you Im blogging to get my thoughts out, and alot of the time that would be true, but there is also something in there that hope somebody somewhere is reading it. Most of the time I write a post with a person in my mind, it helps me to write clearly, and not rely on connections Ive made in my head but havent expressed. I read blogs that are from both ends of the spectrum and I feel like I live somewhere in the middle. TSK, is often talking about his stats, readership, Google and Technorati rating, whereas Antony at Coming to the the Quiet, seems to actively flee any type of rating. Now both of these guys I have relationship with to a greater and lesser extent, and I dont see anything negative in these approaches to web readership. Both taken to the extreme could be unhelpful, but then it depends who or what your blogging for. Even though I would say the traffic or lack of it doesnt really bother me, I am always interested in blog design, and connection technology, partly because I was involved in a little web design before I even knew blogging existed! I love the new developments in web2.0, ajax, rss etc and was interested to read about minimalism creating a more readable blog. Although I LOVE functional technology such as rss links, clever picture shows etc, side bars can often become overwhelming. Before I knew what a blog was in fact, as Andrew moved up to Orkney and made contact with my friend Miriam, I was told this guy might need to stay in Aberdeen sometimes, and he has a website. SO I checked it out, and it was clear he did indeed have a website. But not really like a website I had seen before. It looked like a page of an encyclopedia! Never having heard of blogging, I struggled to know how to read, and to get my head round of the concepts of bars without lines, organisation through date etc. But still I kept on, and over the years became quite the blog reader, and somewhat bloggEr. So maybe minimalism is the answer, ht:maggi dawn now I understand the concept of blogs and the agreed format I read blog intuitively, but how accesible a technology are blogs?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Truth, and Love, and Love and Grace, and Truth and Grace and Love

So....central themes to our lives and our walk with Christ clearly, but where do they exist, which aspect should be in primacy. I was reading alot of Christianity Today articles yesterday, and there was a comment mentioned that a new generation of Christians had grown up with Grace centred Christianity, instead of truth centred Christianity. I found it very interesting and wish I had kept the article and could link it. I grew up in an evangelical church which was called Grace, and it has always been an enforced (searching for a better word than that!) value in my mind. That the Gospel is Grace and God is Grace and all of these things. While I believe this to be true, and Grace is the liberating beauty that is the glory of God. I think many of us can be more graceful, or certainly more compassionate than God!? By this I mean that we can forfeit truth, for grace which in essence is a universal acceptance, of everything, which is not the central theme of God's Grace. Clinging to the Truth of the Gospel, always means a theology full of Grace, but clinging to Grace, does not always being truth...What do you think?, my cogs are turning on this one.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Speaking of God...

I love it when I read scripture,and something new about God comes alive to me, the nature of who he is. This is often called revelation of course, and I think that it can be found almost everywhere. I realise this may have been taken to the extreme (though Im lost for examples of that) and some may find it somewhat heretical if we speak of revelation in God's word in equality to the revelation for example in God's creation. I imagine this negative reaction has come about due to people adding their own crazy twist to their interpretation to extra-spiritual revelation. In some ways I can understand negative reaction to "crack pot" ideas that people attempt to attach to established doctrines of the Church, but for a moment (I say this to myself in writing this as much as anyone reading it) lets let go of the worry that someone will destroy the truth (Im not asking us to abandon the pursuit of keeping purely scriptural theology, just asking us to loosen the grip and allow ourselves not to have the monopoly on the mind of God I addressed that here earlier this week. I love to see art, music, film, writing, anything creative (and if humans are involved, things, even the most mundane have a creative aspect to them) that speaks to me something about God, sometimes it shouts it, sometimes its just being whispered. But almost everything creative is inspired and created through the creator, the one that creativity began in, through and continues with. He is the one that made the ultimate act of creativity,and everytime a chord is played, a piece of prose is written and a picture is painted, something in it, quietly or loudly allures to the order, and beauty of the original creator. Every experience of beauty points to Eternity - Hans Urs Von Balthasar Often creativity has been perverted, and so often satan seeks out ways to put a twist on the best things, mix a lie up in some truth, or point good intentions down the wrong directions. We see it particularly clearly in religious devotion, essentially a good practice,to give ourselves to the things of God, but how easily our intentions slip and we begin to do things that originated out of love and worship, and do them out of duty and image itself. In the midst of the madness of work, the business of theology for study, I try and read something relational, pastoral, fictional, anything that has the focus of enriching, or edifying me, whether through speaking of the heart of God, or simply letting me escape somewhere to rest, over the last little while I have been reading (less rather than more unfortunaly) Captivating, which has been around for a while and was one of the those books I always "intended" to read! John Eldredge (who wrote Wild at Heart) and his wife Stasi Elderedge, share some thoughts concerning the God's plan for the feminine heart. They speak about how God speaks about himself through the distinct ways in which he has created men and women. "For Adam is captured best in motion, doing something. His essence is strength in action. That is what he speaks to the world. He bears the image of God, who is a warrior. On behalf of God, Adam says "God will come through. God is on the move" - Captivating pg36. As the book is written primarily in relation to women, there is not quite such a succinct passage regarding women, but the book (so far as you can see im not past the second chapter) challenges us to look at women (as men or at ourselves as women) and say what is she telling me about who God is? I have done this many times in music, creation, writing,and painting but Ive never done it in relation to gender! The immediate things that come to note are that Women are beautiful, they desire to be loved, they are relational, and that their relational status is much of the time how they give find self-worth. For example the breakdown of a relationship or friendship is normally alot more emotional for women, as Men will often although affected by it not be shaken to the same depths because they dont give the same value, or meaning to the relationship/friendship. Men often find themselves self worth in the "doing" of things, the busyness of employment, the playing of sport. It is not that either male or female are boxed into only finding their self worth in those examples, but that primarily Men and Women find their self worth, and attach values in different ways and to varying degrees. Try looking at different people today, different works of creativity, even the smallest of things,and ask yourself, What can I learn about God? Often you will find parables which allure to God and his kingdom, exist all around us.