Berlin Wall – then and now

Say what you want about print media, the New York Times come out with some freaking cool stuff on their website. Their current feature on the Berlin wall has some fantastically interactive pictures of Berlin from 1989 and today. Stop reading this and check that out, because it’s freaking cool.

The Brandenburg gate in 1989, and today
The Brandenburg gate in 1989, and today

The fall of the wall in Berlin seems to me to be one of those events that the West has a pure love for: mostly because (at least in the retelling) it is a triumph of “democracy, freedom and capitalism” over the tyranny of communism. It’s a story we can tell where we can unambiguously claim the moral high-ground. And make no mistake: this is a beautiful story: a triumph of the force of will of a people, to overthrow their oppressors. How nice it is to be sure that you’re the good guys in the story.

But I couldn’t let this opportunity go past, and while I have no ability to verify the accuracy of this story, that doesn’t change it’s worthiness. In my year 11 German class, we were studying a bit about the fall of the Berlin wall, and saw a great film: “Das Versprechen” (The Promise). In one scene they were showing the East German guards in their guard towers, while just the other side of the wall, West German propaganda was blaring from cars driving alongside. Through the loudspeaker came one of my all time favourite quotes:

“The Roman soldiers would wear red so that their enemies could never see their blood, and your soldiers wear brown pants”

Feel free to get someone to explain that to you if it doesn’t make sense at first pass.

A Picture In Need Of A Caption


This picture was taken at a wedding on the weekend. This is a photo that needs a caption.

(The girl with the awkward looking expression is Bec – my wife. The bearded monster holding onto her is yours truly.

Top 5 reasons it is fun to have friends with kids

One of the fun things about the last little while is that our social circle has altered a little bit to include a number of friends with young kids. With that comes a bunch of complications, but I thought I’d put together my “top 5 reasons why it is fun to have friends with kids“.

  1. Someone to play with: Lets face it – there are a bunch of things you can’t really do unless you’re hanging out with a little kid. For starters, reading Grug.
  2. Gets you out of helping with dinner: Whenever you have people over, there’s always that awkward part where Bec is sorting out dinner and I’m there trying to look like I’m ready to be helpful, while also trying to be the entertaining host. Once you have kids involved, I can play with them whilst holding a conversation and there’s no chance I’ll be needed to set the table.
  3. A great distraction from awkward conversations: Nothing changes the subject quite as well as “was that a child falling over?” or “was that a child crying?”. Absolute lifesaver.
  4. Source of competition: I’ve already lost count of the number of times we’ve come away from someone’s house and the conversation immediately goes along the lines of “<Child’s name here> remembered my name”, “I can’t believe <Child’s name here> let me pick him/her up.” “I totally got <Child’s name here> to push her sister over”. Way too much fun. Plus I’m winning (according to me anyway).
  5. Reminds you why you don’t want to have children yet: They don’t talk about “all care and no responsibility” for nothing. The beauty of wrestling with someone else’s kid is that if it all goes nasty, it won’t be you they are depending on to patch up their bleeding little head. And “I did a poo” is only funny when you know that you’re not the one who needs to clean it up.

Justin Langer’s Maths Lesson

The Age’s demographics are obviously slipping. Here they give the cricket tragics a little bit of a Prep Maths lesson:

The West Australian is captain of Somerset and yesterday he struck his 86th first-class century in his 345th first-class game. Bradman played 234 first-class matches. This week’s game will be Langer’s 346th.

via Langer breaks The Don’s 72-year-old record – Cricket – Sport –

“So kids, if this game is Justin Langer’s 345th game, what will his next one be?” Journalism at its finest.

My new favourite Steve Fielding quote

Heard this on the radio yesterday at lunch. Found it pretty funny. Thought I should share.

STEVE FIELDING: Look I think to get around any ambiguousness about the whole issue, principals shouldn’t be feeling under threat and they obviously, it is a concern and frankly it should be deleted from any condition.

via The World Today – Government accused of gagging schools over school computers 16/07/2009.

Well Steve, I think one thing that could cut out ambiguity it if we started using real words in public discourse. (Apologies to Mr Fielding for mis-remembering the quote last night and claiming that he said “ambiguiness”. That would be just plain ridiculous)

Dylan interviewed by Huffington Post

Thought I’d post the below quote for three distinct reasons. 1) Brian McLaren linked to it; 2) it follows the theme of fun quotes from the mouths of great songwriters; and 3) any interviewer who can get sense out of Bob Dylan deserves all the publicity they can get.

BF: Does that mean you create outsider art? Do you think of yourself as a cult figure?

BD: A cult figure, that’s got religious connotations. It sounds cliquish and clannish. People have different emotional levels. Especially when you’re young. Back then I guess most of my influences could be thought of as eccentric. Mass media had no overwhelming reach so I was drawn to the traveling performers passing through. The side show performers – bluegrass singers, the black cowboy with chaps and a lariat doing rope tricks. Miss Europe, Quasimodo, the Bearded Lady, the half-man half-woman, the deformed and the bent, Atlas the Dwarf, the fire-eaters, the teachers and preachers, the blues singers. I remember it like it was yesterday. I got close to some of these people. I learned about dignity from them. Freedom too. Civil rights, human rights. How to stay within yourself. Most others were into the rides like the tilt-a-whirl and the rollercoaster. To me that was the nightmare. All the giddiness. The artificiality of it. The sledge hammer of life. It didn’t make sense or seem real. The stuff off the main road was where force of reality was. At least it struck me that way. When I left home those feelings didn’t change.

BF: But you’ve sold over a hundred million records.

BD: Yeah I know. It’s a mystery to me too.

via Bob Dylan Exclusive Interview: Reveals His Favorite Songwriters, Thoughts On His Own Cult Figure Status.

Blind Riches

Mahatma Gandhi - Capitalist?
Mahatma Gandhi - Capitalist?

I don’t know of a better story of people completely missing the point. A guy has just bought a bunch of Gandhi’s possessions for $US 1.8 million.

The buyer was one of India’s richest men. The chairman of United Breweries, Vijay Mallya had been on the phone all along, talking to his representative Toni Bedi – a sharply dressed man in an immaculate white turban, sitting near the front.

Afterwards, as the scrum pressed forwards towards him, Mr Bedi asked for “a little breathing room”.

Were the items really worth $1.8m I asked him?

“Absolutely. I think it’s well worth it, and a lot more. If you look at the heritage of Mahatma Gandhi and what Mahatma Gandhi was teaching it is well worth it.”

via BBC News | World | South Asia | High Drama at NY Gandhi auction

Worth it?!If you look at what Mahatma Gandhi was teaching it was well worth it?!?! Which teaching? How do you idolise the man to the point of wanting to spend that much money on owning his stuff, without actually having any real grasp of what the man taught, and lived for?

Well – that does sound a little familiar.

They like the Church but not Jesus

There’s a fantastic post at “Letters from Kamp Krusty“. Brant Hansen is a Christian radio host in the states, and as such has some fantastic insights on Christian culture. But I think he’s peaked with his latest post:

“I know you think I may be exaggerating. I’m not. Not in the least. Today, I read where Jesus told us that when we’re praying, we shouldn’t babble on “like the pagans do”.

I got three very Christian emails of protest, citing scripture to rebut Jesus.”

via Letters from Kamp Krusty: Can Jesus and Christian Radio Co-Exist?.

It’s the same point that (if I’ve read the blurb correctly) Hirsch and Frost are getting at in their latest book (which I’ll read really soon): ReJesus. We’re really quite OK with Christianity as we’ve fashioned it over the years, and as such can’t afford to have Jesus’ words get in the way.

They don’t like it.  I’m serious.  “You know, all the commandments can be summed up with love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus said that, and…”

Ringing phones.   “Hello?”

“You forgot one:  Evangelize.”

Jesus stands corrected.


“Well, it’s not quite that simple, you see, because…”

No, no.  It can’t be that simple.  Not here.

Theology is a beautiful thing. As is church tradition. But we’ve got to be able to see the times when we’re wanting to use scripture to contradict Jesus.

(Aside – Brant’s review of U2’s new album is spot on the money. If I was funnier, I’d have written it).