21 November 2006

The Ashes

A few weeks ago, Heather and I went to the Museum of Sydney (where we won the cruise a year ago). The real deal Ashes urn was on exhibit, along with other historical items from the series. This was only the second time it has left England, so seeing it here was a big deal for the Australians. The only negative was they didn't allow photography--the pictures here are a replica we saw at the Bradman Museum two months ago. The exhibit also included the Waterford Crystal
Ashes trophy that was commissioned in 1998. This trophy is an exact replica of the original, only not four inches tall.
The Ashes urn has had an interesting history. Here's some of the highlights:
  • The Ashes tradition began in 1882, when Australia beat England and a mock obituary was printed for English cricket: 'In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET, which died at the Oval on 29th AUGUST, 1882, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances R.I.P. N.B. — The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.'
  • The urn was a gift from some Australian women to Ivo Bligh, an English player, in 1883 during an English cricket tour of Australia. Eventually, the urn became the property of the Marylebone Cricket Club in England.
  • No one is exactly sure what is in the urn. What are, or rather were, the ashes? Legend says they are from the stumps from the historic 1882 match. Some say it the remains of the stumps from the 1883 match in Australia. Others say the ashes are actually a burned handkerchief of one of the women. Yet another theory says that a housemaid at one time dropped the urn, spilled its contents, and refilled it with ashes from the fireplace.
  • The Ashes urn you see awarded the the victors is actually a replica. The real urn is too fragile for that. In fact, x-rays showed that at some point in the past, a bolt had been inserted to repair the damaged base.
Information about the 2006-2007 Ashes Test Series can be found at Cricket Australia. We will be at Melbourne Day 4.
As we left the museum, we entered the contest for a trip to England. Make it two for two?

12 November 2006

U2 (finally!)

In November last year, I bought a ticket for the U2 concert in Sydney on March 31. However, at the beginning of March, it was announced that the Australian leg of the tour would be delayed. Friday, November 10, I finally got to use my ticket. There were two other Sydney shows as well, each one with about 70 000 in attendance.
Heather didn't buy a ticket a year ago, but when she found out Kanye West was opening, she wished she had. When a friend of hers went back to Germany in July holding an unused ticket, Heather got it. She said she was going to watch Kanye then leave. Turns out, she stayed for part of the U2 show, but left an hour early. Yet another benefit of public transportation--she can go home while I stay for the rest of the show.
Why would she leave? Answer: she's not a U2 superfan. She saw the show five years ago--this was more of the same. I, however, am a U2 superfan. She thought the show was good--I thought it was great. So she will probably think some of the following commentary is silly. That's OK, she doesn't get Star Wars either.

Here's the set list:
City of Blinding Lights-Two minutes before U2 took the stage, it started to rain. When they opened with 'Lights', it seemed right--always felt like a light rain kind of song to me. While the early rain was OK, I was glad it only lasted twenty minutes.
Until the End of the World-Video screen featured Aboriginal art. Nice touch.
New Year's Day
Beautiful Day
Yahweh-One of the gems from Dismantle. If you don't know it, it's one of those songs that is way more spiritual than anything you would hear on a Christian CD.
Walk On
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own-Dedicated to Bono's brother, written for his father. Bono said if his father was there he would have one thing to say: 'Take off your f*ing glasses'--so he did. Might be the first time I've seen him without glasses in fifteen years, including his trip to the Vatican.
Love and Peace or Else-First of the 'peace trilogy'. Bono talked about and the video featured the word 'coexist', where the 'c' was an Islamic crescent moon, the 'x' was a Star of David, and the 't' was a Christian cross. Another interesting question he raised was 'do we have to become a monster to overcome a monster?' A separate post along these lines is forthcoming.
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet the Blue Sky
Miss Sarajevo
Pride (In the Name of Love)
Where the Streets Have No Name-An appeal for Make Poverty History led the song.
(encore 1)
Zoo Station
The Fly
With or Without You
(encore 2)
The Saints are Coming-U2's song written with Green Day to benefit musicians in New Orleans.
Angel of Harlem
Kite-Featured a didgeridoo played by a local musician.
As always, a great show, at least for a superfan.

06 November 2006

Republican 'values'

One last thing for you to think about before you head to the polls. Got this as an email today:

A young teenage girl was about to finish her first year of college. She considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat but her father was a rather staunch Republican.
One day she was challenging her father on his beliefs and his opposition to taxes and welfare programs. He stopped her and asked her how she was doing in school.
She answered that she had a 4.0 GPA but it was really tough. She had to study all the time, and she never had time to go out and party. She didn't have time for a boyfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of spending all her time studying.
He asked, "How is your friend Mary?" She replied that Mary was barely getting by. She had a 2.0 GPA and never studied. She was very popular on campus and went to parties all the time. She often didn't show up for classes because she was hung over.
Dad then asked his daughter why she didn't go to the Dean's office and have 1.0 taken off her 4.0 and give it to her friend with the 2.0. That way they would both have a 3.0 GPA.
The daughter angrily fired back, "That wouldn't be fair! I worked really hard for mine and Mary has done nothing." The father slowly smiled and said, "Welcome to the Republican Party."
Received from Andy Chaps The Funnies.

Funny. Misleading, but funny.
You can't seriously equate a GPA to health. Mary has made her own choices and her 2.0 will likely have no bearing on the daughter's life. Millions of people in America are disadvantaged through no fault of their own and despite a lifetime of hard work that you and I could not imagine.
'Yeah, but some...'
I didn't say all of the poor are victims. Some have made poor choices that have resulted in their current circumstances. But so have I. Why should I be favoured over them for a fulfilled, successful life? And even if they have made poor choices, does that mean they don't deserve adequate health care?
The Republican Party and the Religious Right have pushed a platform based on 'values', but I just don't see it anymore. What 'value' is there in not providing health care for everyone? What 'value' is there in giving tax breaks only to the wealthy? What 'value' is there in favouring corporations over individuals? What 'value' is there in the persistent damage of the environment by heavy use of fossil fuels when clean alternatives are readily available? What 'value' is there is providing vouchers to wealthy families while the poor are left to drop out in woefully underfunded public schools? People working for the current minimum wage live well below the poverty line--what 'value' is that?
I'm sick of it. For my entire life, the Republicans have talked about 'family values' like abortion and now gay rights. But in the thirty-four years since Roe v Wade, twenty-two years of Republican presidents have done nothing to reverse it. So what's the point? By the way, did you realise that the two Democratic presidents since then were both Baptists? (The Republican presidents were Quaker, two Episcopalians, Presbyterian and Methodist.)
I'm much more concerned about my government taking care of our social values. I can choose my religious values for myself. That's what our founding fathers had in mind anyway.
Values? The government is currently denying people basic human rights, even going so far as torturing suspected terrorists (The Economist, bmj.com). If they are guilty, they deserve punishment, but torture? What happened to trial by jury? Isn't the United States better than this?
You're still worried about giving 1.0 of your GPA to Mary? They're Democrats, not Communists. You still get your reward for hard work. It's just that everyone gets access to basic needs. Yeah, it's going to raise your taxes a little (although not as much as you think). Take out the ridiculous tax breaks for the wealthy and that would go a long way to cover it. But isn't a little tax worth a better society? I said in my first paragraph that Mary's GPA will likely have no bearing on the daughter's life. The joke is also misleading because that simply isn't the case in the real world. All of our lives are impacted by those around us who are unhealthy and uneducated. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If these people were provided with these basic necessities, it would benefit all of society. I've seen it work.

04 November 2006

Sydney Uni Lions Update

It's been a while since I've updated you on the Sydney Uni Lions season. We are 7-1 after a 53-12 defeat of the Sutherland Seahawks last night. We play them again next week, then finish the regular season against the Outlaws, who we squeaked out a win against in Week 3. The Outlaws are also a potential first round playoff matchup. Our only loss was the the Pirates, and that one was avenged last week.
During our film session Tuesday night, Coach had us make a list of goals for the remainder of the season. Mine were:
1) Give up no catches.
2) Run support: give up no RAC, contain/make all tackles to my side of the field.
3) Create one turnover.
As of Saturday's game, I'm on track for all goals and have amended Goal 3: Create two turnovers. Late in the first half, the Seahawks drove down the field on us, mostly on ticky-tack calls against our D-line for late hits. With my back to the goal line, I picked off an underthrown pass and returned it about 15-20 yards. Offense ran out the clock to close the half. Can't wait for Tuesday's film session this week.
Click the Sydney Uni Gridiron link to check it out. Game summary should be up there soon.

02 November 2006


In my last post I said I wasn't going to tell you who to vote for, but I'm going to push that a bit here. Just a little food for thought. My blog, my rules. I know most of you regulars are Christian, and even if you aren't, you likely have a Judeo-Christian background. So I want to look at some of the 'liberal' issues that will play a major role in the upcoming election.
The democrats seem to be leading the way on environmental issues. Isn't this something that Christians should be more concerned about? Weren't we commanded to be stewards and caretakers of the earth? When you consider energy consumption, carbon emissions, deforestation and other environmental concerns, it appears to me that we are not caring for the earth as God intended. As Americans, we should be leading the way to a renewable, environmentally friendly energy source. We need to be reducing our carbon emissions. We should have been the first to sign the Kyoto Agreement. Instead, our dependence on foreign oil increases.
I used to hear a lot of arguments against socialised medicine, but I was always kind of for it. Then I moved here. Now I'm really for it. Australia has a socialised medicine plan and Heather and I both feel it has a very positive effect on the quality of life here. We go to the doctor we choose and we go quickly. I have been twice this past year and got an appointment for the next day, late afternoon after work both times. It's not inconvenient and it's not substandard. The bottom line is that everyone has access to needed health care, leading to a healthier society that gets preventive care before it's too late and they need more serious and expensive treatment. Jesus was always concerned with the poor and the sick. Shouldn't we be doing the same?
Which leads me to my last 'liberal' issue: tolerance. Australia is a multicultural society that not only tolerates others but encourages and embraces them. America seems to be afraid of anything or anyone that is different. These differences are often seen as a threat. It doesn't have to be that way. Again, Jesus spent his time with people who were different, always accepting them for who they were. He never forced himself on anybody--why do we feel people need to change and be like us? America needs to reach out to other nations and be more open to others, both inside and outside its borders.
Please understand I don't say any of this to assign Jesus to a political party. In fact, I'm trying to do the opposite. The Religious Right has claimed the Republican Party, and in my opinion, that's a poor match, not that the Democrats would be a better. I don't need my government to tell me what to believe or define my morals. But I do think they should do as much as they can to improve the quality of life for all Americans and be an example of these qualities for the rest of the world. For more on these issues, check out Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter. Also see A Place to Rant, a blog by my friend Rus. I think it is on the decline since he hasn't updated it recently, but there are some interesting posts concerning religion and politics to consider.