Dan’s Online Diary 

# 28.11.03 by Dan
I gotta new template again
This one I like more

# 28.11.03 by Dan
New template is yucky. A more better one is in the pipeline.

# 27.11.03 by Dan
Not quite as good-looking as I had anticipated, but there you go...

# 26.11.03 by Dan
It must be time for a new blog template. Lets see what I can come up with...

[Racism in the Health System]
Research shows that minority groups are disadvantaged by the current health system.
Is this the same research that gives us this?:
"Reid points to evidence which indicates, for example, that Maori men in the top occupational group have a higher death rate than non-Maori men in the bottom group."
- Tapu Misa in today's NZ Herald
Hmm... a higher death rate?
Does this mean that more Maori men than non-Maori men die? Or does it mean they die faster than non-Maori?
We're all going to die - so what is a 'death rate'?

# 25.11.03 by Dan
Can you believe this???
Next thing you know being addicted to pornography will be classified as a disability, and people won't be able to be fired for looking at porn at work!!

# 24.11.03 by Dan
Well, well, well. I happened to glance unconsciously at the T.V. yesterday evening, and was suddenly struck squarely with a most enlightening revelation.
Advertising is all about getting people to buy stuff. It uses all sorts of clever, calculated, viciously underhanded ruses to arouse the desire of the deceived deponent. One of these methods of misguided manipulation is to show the viewer a random punter who is ridiculously happy with the product that is being advertised. Breakfast cereals, toothpaste, overseas trips, you name it - one of the most common utopian situations shown is that of the happy family, living together in sickening harmony, sharing the advertised product with intense joy.
The happy family you will nearly always see consists of - would you believe it? - father, mother and kid(s).
The incredibly intelligent advertising masterminds have, through comprehensive market research, determined that a family consisting of a father, mother and kid(s), is the most appealing to consumers.

So, why do we not see the happy single-parent family as touted by Steve Ma-hahaha-rey?
Why do we not see same-sex parents in advertisements for consumer products?
Maybe they just aren't everyone's idea of a happy family?

I fixed the permalinks on my posts.
They've never worked properly.
But now they do.
Just click on the time at the bottom of this post.

# 22.11.03 by Dan
We watched 'Bowling For Columbine' last night

This documentary really does alert the viewer to the fact that the citizens of the US are really quite different to those of any other country.
I was struck by the significant difference in the number of shootings between the US and Canada. Both gun-loving countries - neighbours even. Michael Moore investigates a number of possible reasons why there are so many gun-related crimes in the US. But each possible cause can be eliminated by comparing the US to other countries where that particular reason does not hold.
The documentary is relatively inconclusive, but just asking the questions does get people thinking. I can imagine that this movie would have considerably more impact on a US citizen, than on, say, a British citizen, simply because I think that the people of the US need to stop, take a step back, and have a long hard look at themselves. They just don't see the state that they are in.
As far a cause/solution goes, I don't know. I think the only clear possible cause is that of the media influence in the States. According to Michael Moore's quoted statistics, despite the drop in violent crime, violent crime reporting in news media has increased dramatically. This has instilled a quality of fear in the average US citizen, making them more suspicious, and feeding an element of racism - '...the suspect is a Afro-American in his early-to-mid twenties...' - that may be causing people to over-react.

I don't see an issue with gun laws, the NRA, or the fact that many of the people featured in the documentary were apparent obsessed with firearms. I mean, I'm obsessed (to a degree) with cars, and cars are very dangerous in the wrong hands.
To an extent, I do wonder about the ownership of military assault rifles, and other such non-sporting weapons, but then if you look at a country such as Switzerland, military training is compulsory for all young men, and they all have a rifle at home, meaning that they can mobilise very quickly in defence of their country. This is important given that they're in the middle of Europe, surrounded by many other countries, and are potentially right in the middle of any conflict that may arise there. The US is in a similar position, with Russia and South America not far away, so perhaps the availability of military weapons is necessary.

One thing that did concern me was the fact that New Zealand, our country, is beginning to display similar characteristics to the US. With military style weapons being illegal, and tough restrictions of other types of firearms, there just isn't the same attitude towards firearms. But I don't think the firearms are the issue. Violent entertainment and violence in the media may be a significant contributing factor, and this may be something that we need to assess here in New Zealand, and maybe there is something that we can do about it.
But deeper still is the selfish individuality that is fast taking a hold through the increase in 'Human Rights' and the thrust of much of our recent legislation. We are fast turning into a bunch of self-focused, inconsiderate and uncaring people who, without thinking, will turn a blind eye to the misfortune of a neighbour if it means putting ourselves out.
The breakdown of the family is evidence of this attitude; people care more about themselves than their spouse or children. People are not taking responsibility for their actions (or inactions).
This is a deep heart issue, and is a direct result of our sin, both personally and as a nation, in turning away from our God. He has turned us over to 'the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.'

That, my friends, is the root cause of our selfishness, The bad fruits of that selfishness are the violent crimes, rapes, frauds etc that are becoming more evident in our society today. How the media reports it all is driven again by those same desires.

Self-gratification reigns on the throne. We must overthrow it.

The fact that this movie is riddled with deception, half-truths, and outright lies is not really relevant. Moore's lack of credibility in this documentary does not change the fact that no-one is clear why we (or more contextually, US citizens) behave as they do. (see here for the fiction of 'Bowling...') falsified facts and figures are all very well, but nonetheless, the evidence is plain for all to see.
Examine first your own heart, sort your stuff our with God, and then get out there and be Christ to this world. Share His Word, that the tide of selfishness that is washing over our society might be turned by the almighty power of the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts of His people. Serve your neighbours (you know who they are), as an example of humility and selflessness, in the same way that Christ was humble in the will of His Father, even unto death on a cross.

The massacre at Columbine was merely the manifestation of the same struggle we all face in our own hearts, whether we are aware of it or not. You have to realise that you and I - each one of us - has the same capability and potential to pick up an automatic weapon, walk into a crowded school, and pump lead into innocent children. Whether we are Canadians or Kiwis, we are all affected by the rebellion in our hearts toward God.
This is the conclusion that Michael Moore did not find. Why? Maybe he was unwilling to admit that he himself was affected by the same power that drove Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to commit their crime at Columbine?
I dunno.

# 21.11.03 by Dan
[The White Lies]
This is prolly old news, but anyway...
The White Stripes - you know the brother-and-sister band that dress in red and white?
Jack and Meg White are, in fact, John Gillis and Megan White.
John and Megan married in 1996, and John took Megan's last name. But within a couple of years they divorced, with the band remaining intact.
Interesting piece of music triva for you.

[A recommendation...]
I can highly recommend walking around.
Walking around in the city is okay, walking around in the suburbs is better, and walking around in unadulterated creation is even more better.

[A thought...]
Would people still steal if they:
a) knew that 'the stealee' was no more happy or satisfied with life than they, 'the stealer'?
b) knew that the goods that they were stealing would leave them feeling even more empty and frustrated than before?

# 18.11.03 by Dan
This is probably one of the clearest and most simple, yet still rather useful CSS tutorials I have come across recently.

[Smith and Caugheys...]
...have the bestest most window displays. Their displays are so creative and eye-catching, that I often completely miss what they are trying to sell.

[The State...]
...is at it again...
...and again

[Gossipy Trash]
I was in the cafe waiting for my espresso this morning, and glanced at an old 'Womans Weekly" or something, and saw and 'article' on old Arnold Schwarzenegger, now governor of Californ-eye-ay.
It mentioned a number of his vices, including the fact that he had been unfaithful to his wife of 17 years on a number of occasions.
Tabloids and crappy magazines are full of stuff like this. They pass judgement on the rich and famous (or infamous) for their 'scandalous' and 'outrageous' acts.
What strikes me as ridiculous, is the fact that the rich and famous are just a sample group of the world's population. Therefore, there is just as much scandal and outrage in the lives of those who read (and those who write) this crap, as there is in the subjects/objects of these damning articles.

It comes down to this : making other people look worse than us makes us feel good.

But he problem here is the word 'feel'. A feeling never lasts. Making other people look bad, doesn't actually make us good, it only makes us feel good.
So, when that feeling fades, its off to the store for the next issue, where we can feast on the misfortunes of others until our appetites are again satisfied, if but for a time.

# 17.11.03 by Dan
[Welfare and CYF]
The following is a quote from "Michael Bassett: Money won't cure cycle of child abuse"
Over the past decade the problems have grown to such an extent that the police cannot contain the fall-out from what the domestic purposes benefit, plus too-readily available sickness and unemployment benefits, are doing to society.

All people, even the stupid, respond to incentives. Pay them to breed, then advertise your willingness to accept responsibility for their fecklessness, and they will produce more children.
Sure, there will always be a need for welfare benefits, and sure, there will always be child abuse. But the government needs to act to reduce these, instead of exacerbating the issue, as they are doing now.

Had an excellent weekend.
Bible Society Touch Tournament - Waiwera hot pools - (don't mention the rugby) - Sunday morning worship - lunch with family - sunny walk around Panmure basin - lying on the grass, sipping Vanilla Frappacino, listening to Bob Marley - late afternoon nap - evening with parents-in-law.
All most enjoyable.

How was your weekend?

# 12.11.03 by Dan
[We all suck]
It seems lately that every time I read scripture I'm struck more and more by the grace and mercy of God, as seen in the light of our own utter unfaithfulness and depravity.
I grieve, mourn and wail for the sins of mankind.

[Dog Control]
Re: Chris Carter on microchipping dogs
How in the whole wide world is microchipping dogs going to a) be any less deficient than the current tagging system, or b) make dogs any safer?
It is still a remedial measure, and in no way prevents dogs from attacking people in the first place.
Where is the personal responsibility here?
It seems like the only penalties being incurred under the proposed Dog Control Amendment Bill are those being incurred by the dogs.
An ineffective waste of money, I say. Enforcing tougher penalties for dog owners who act irresponsibly is a much more better plan.

# 10.11.03 by Dan
[Reply to my letter re: Religious Tolerance]
Just this afternoon I received a reply to the email I sent in response to Tapu Misa's NZ Herald column (see Wed 5th Nov).
The reply reads as follows:
Hi, thanks for your letter. Cheers, TM
Very concise.
Oh well, as the song goes, 'What more can a poor boy do?'

[Genetically Modificated Crops]
Read this.
This is what NZ is in for, whether you like it or not.
It is plain and simple stupidity. Farmers wanting to remain non-GM face a lose-lose situation and it is wrong.

Patented GM seeds are going to cost farmers millions, whether farmers choose to sow them or not, and to cover their costs, they are going to have to sell their products for more, driving up the cost of base food products such as flour and corn. Of course this will also affect the food grown as animal feed, driving up the coast of meat, eggs and milk.

So its pretty much GM or die.

[Pirates of the Carribean]
I thought this was an excellent movie.
I was intrigued by the curse that the pirates were under - while Cortez's gold medalions remained scattered, those responsible for their theft (namely the pirates of the ship, The Black Pearl) would find that nothing would satisfy them - no food could stave off their hunger, no drink could slake their thirst. Nothing at all would satisfy. And yet they were invincible, unable to sustain injury or death.
Is this not a picture of man in his ntural state? Always wanting more - ruthlessly climbing the corporate ladder, stealing, grabbing, pursuing all pleasure, yet never satisfied, and facing this for eternity, eternal separation from all that is good, namely God.
Johnny Depp acts really well (IMHO), as always. The camp, yet apparently straight pirate with a quick mind, and a quick wit.

# 5.11.03 by Dan
[Religious Tolerance]
Read this, and then read the following :
Dear Ms Misa,

In reading your column this morning, I get the distinct impression - please excuse and correct me if I am wrong - that you believe that being a Christian should equate to being tolerant.

A quick skim through the Bible should show that this is not the case, by any means.
In the first instance, the God of the Bible does not tolerate nor overlook disobedience to his Word in the slightest. Even among his own beloved and chosen people.

Jesus Christ, who is God himself, although he came to earth as a servant in meekness, humbling himself before humanity, even unto death on a cross, was not tolerant.
John 2:12-14 shows Jesus scattering coins and overturning the tables of those selling cattle and changing money in the temple at Jerusalem.
Jesus was intolerant to the point of saying to one of his disciples and closest friends, Peter, - "Get behind me, Satan!"(Mark 8:31-33). If you read the passage, Jesus had been trying to tell his disciples that he had come to be rejected by mankind, and to ultimately die at their hands. Peter received the above rebuke when he said to Jesus - "No - that will never happen".

But, as you quoted Kristof in your column, there is a division between intellectuals and the religious America (assuming Christianity is implied here).
And this has always been the case, and always will be.
You see, Peter, in his intellectualism, in the wisdom of man, thought that Christ's death would mean that everything he believed in was in vain. And so he rebuked Jesus for talking like that.
But Christ has the wisdom of God, and knew that He needed to die, as the perfect and once-and-for-all sacrifice for the sins of his people.
And as it has been since the time of Adam and Eve, right through to the present, and so it will continue on into the future, the wisdom of the world (the wisdom of the intellectuals) is always at odds with the wisdom of God (the wisdom that Christians pertain to).

A Christian is called to godliness, to be more Christ-like. This means a Christian should not be tolerant of anything that is contrary to God's law and command.

This intolerance however, should not be exercised for the sake of division, for the sake of creating oneself a holier-than-thou attitude, for the sake of advancing oneself. This intolerance is in the over-arching context of love. Love for ones neighbour, even love for ones enemy. For while we were His enemies, God sent his only Son to die for us.

I believe that a Christian who attempts to integrate with the intellectualism of mankind can only do so at the expense of godly wisdom, and is thereby rendered ineffective.

Being a Christian, 'High Level' or otherwise, is not about abstaining from the pleasures of life, for God has created all things, and these for our enjoyment when used according to His will.
Being a Christian is not striving for a degree of piety.

The 'good works', the helping of widows and orphans, the selfless giving of time and money to others etc etc - all these are side effects of an effective in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit within a believer. They have 'put on the life of Christ' and are acting 'as Christ to the world'.

Being a Christian is not about 'doing' anything. It is about acting in response to what has already been done for us by another, namely Christ.

Also, the incident in Sodom is merely one place in the Bible where sexual impropriety is mentioned. Read the first chapter of the book Romans - it says there that the wrath of God against the wickedness of man is worked out through God allowing man to be turned over to their own sinful desires. At the top of the list that is subsequently quoted is "women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
You can see that this is much more than a dispute over the translation of the place-name 'Sodom'.

Disobedience to God brings serious and dire consequences, many of which are becoming increasingly apparent in our society and culture, both globally and here in our own local communities. To ignore this fact is to turn from the wisdom of God to the wisdom of man - hence the polarisation you comment on - and reap the wrath of God.

I hope that this can help you understand why some Christians appear to be intolerant, but I hope also that you might see that their intolerance comes from a motivation of love, and a desire that others may not be turned over to their own sinful desires, and in doing so, face the wrath of a mighty, powerful and yet just God.

Thank you for having the concern to raise these issues in your column.
I would love to discuss this with you further. Please feel free to respond to this letter by return email.

Kind Regards,

Daniel Willis,

# 4.11.03 by Dan
This article reports on the opening of a controversial mosque in Christchurch.

Is the government happy to support a religion that, by its own teaching, is openly hostile, to the point of murder, towards anyone who is not of their faith?

A Pakistani friend of of mine is(was) a pastor in Pakistan, who ran a Christian bible college teaching Pakistani Christians how to evangelise. When the Muslim authorites turned up with guns to kill him, and were only driven away by gunfire returned by his mates up on the balcony, the church decided he should leave the country for a time.
He is currently in NZ, but repeated applications to the NZ immigration authorities to allow his wife and daughter to join him have been refused.

So, you see, we have a government who funds Muslim churches, yet refuses to allow a Christian family to be united in safety.

My friend is very active in the local Pakistani community, and according to his reckoning and given the fact that the population is in decline, and that an increasing number of immigrants in NZ are Muslim, in 50 years time, New Zealand could potentially have a Muslim majority.

Not a pretty thought.

# 3.11.03 by Dan
sometimes i feel like we are all just hurtling along, with very little control, getting by by pure trial and error.
i really think each of us has such a severely limited understanding of our own selves, and an even lesser understanding of others... with a deep-and-meaningful conversation not even really scratching the surface.
in much the same way as we are only truly familiar with a microscopic portion of the surface of this earth, there is so much uncharted territory both within and without.
like the scene in the last matrix - with the never-ending corridor of doors - we open one door, and experience the contents of that one room for a time, and then back out into the corridor to find another door, but having to leave so many rooms unvisited, as we simply do not have the time or resources to extensively examine each and every room.
in sharing with others we can hear tales and echos of other rooms, but still, the experience is not ours.
how can we grow? how can we explore more faster and more thoroughly? how can we better share our experiences with others?
it frustrates me - a computer can get a bigger hard-drive, more ram, a faster processor, but how do we upgrade? how can we improve our interfaces?
we can compress our data. cut out the empty space. cut out the meaningless banter(I don't need to tell you about the weather - just look at the sky for yourself), speaking only necessity. we can improve our vocabulary, so that the equivalent quantity of data contains more, and is of greater precision.
perhaps less time spent generating our own data will give us more time to receive, and process externally generated data?
one thing, we can know though, is that there is One who has all data at His fingertips. One who is simultaneously processing the data responsible for the creation and action of every single sub- and sub-sub-atomic particle ever. who knows every single bit of our own information, and of any information that was, is, and will ever be. who can act upon this information, who can manipulate this information with the greatest of ease, and in perfection. producing unspeakable beauty, wisdom, strength, justice, love, and every other resultant outcome of His information processing.