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Wednesday, 7 Apr 2010

Do you buy computers from Dell? I do. I have bought them for myself and for my friends, family and clients. Why do I do it? Because they are reputable and supply reasonably reliable machines and what you get for your money is pretty good value.

But I have *never* bought online. Online is - I believe - the preferred sales channel with Dell. I have always ended up speaking to a sales rep on the phone and cutting a deal in person.

I hate the Dell web site. It is shockingly difficult to use and unpredictable. It is also flaky. I have to share here with you the result (two tries was enough) of my attempt to chat with a sales expert about the spec of a laptop I am considering buying.

This sort of crap really annoys me. Am I asking too much?

Monday, 5 Apr 2010

Damian Thompson is a prodigious blogger at the Telegraph Online. It says there:-

"Damian Thompson is Blogs Editor of the Telegraph Media Group," but his blog entries are usually to do with religion - Catholic stuff, mostly. He's usually a good read.

He has added a couple of musings on Archbishop Rowan's recent exercise in kicking himself in his own backside.

On 3rd April 2010 he wrote:-

Archbishop Rowan Williams should think twice before commenting on the Catholic sex abuse crisis…
… because there are plenty of unexploded bombs lying around his own back yard in the shape of sexual relationships between Church of England priests and teenage boys that have never come to light. Believe me. When I run through my mental checklist of Anglican clergy who were widely and credibly rumoured to be using their status to pressure post-pubescent boys and young men into sex in the 1970s, 80 and 90s, I realise that it is quite a long one. Also, that some of the prelates who chose to ignore this situation are still alive and highly respected retired bishops. As it happens, I agree with every word that the Archbishop of Canterbury has said about the Irish Church, and I do not suspect his motives in making those comments. It’s just a bit rich, coming from the leader of a Church in which traditions of English reserve have managed to keep so many scandals politely concealed.

It seems that we Catholics have more in common than I appreciated with our Anglican brethren.

Here is the link to the original article. The comments thread is full of strong reactions and agreements and is worth a wade through.

On 4th April 2010 Damian followed up with:-

The Archbishop of Canterbury eats his words

Well, that stunt backfired, didn’t it? Archbishop Rowan Williams’s Requiem for the Irish Catholic Church wasn’t scheduled to be broadcast by BBC Radio 4 until Monday’s Start The Week. But someone released it as a single just in time for Holy Saturday, thinking that no one outside the Vatican would object. Bad call.

The irony is that Dr Williams wasn’t really wrong about Catholic Church in Ireland. He said:

“An institution so deeply bound into the life of a society suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility – that’s not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland.”

Sounds about right to me, though I’d take issue with “suddenly”. The Catholic Church in Ireland has been busy draining itself of dignity and credibility for decades. The Vatican’s Apostolic Visitation can’t happen soon enough, and why is Cardinal Sean Brady still in office?

But obviously it didn’t occur to Dr Williams that the Irish hierarchy wouldn’t like their painful Easter made even more humiliating by a rebuke from the main Protestant denomination in England, the country they dislike above all others. And so now he’s had to apologise for basically telling the truth, adding rather less convincingly that “nothing could have been farther from his intention than to offend or criticise the Irish Church”.

What were you thinking, Dr Williams? You were apparently persuaded – perhaps in the studio on the spur of the moment, perhaps in advance – that your scathing thoughts on Irish Catholicism would enhance your moral authority on this holy feast day. Possibly your friends in the media convinced you that anyone can get away with saying anything about the Catholic Church right now: it doesn’t matter whether it’s true (the Irish Catholic Church has lost credibility) or false (the Pope is complicit in sex abuse). But they, and you, reckoned without the hair-trigger Irish temper, which is easily provoked by British patronising.

Oh, and nice cheap shot about the Ordinariate, by the way. But it won’t have the desired impact, because all anyone will remember about this weekend is that you had to eat your own words.

I confess that I found this rather strong. I have friends who must know better than me that think this Rowan bloke is okay but I have found him unconvincing most of the time. So I am no big fan. But Mr T here is clearly showing a significant lack of respect for him.

I have less respect for him that he did not stick to his guns. What he said had merit. He could have apologised for the timing and the tenor of this thrust but he should have shown some spine and backed up his words. As Mr T said, what people will remember is the embarrassing climb down.

Here is the link to the original article.
Rowan Williams expresses 'regret' over church remarks.

And so he should.... Or should he?

Okay this is a tough one for me, being a Roman Catholic and having not much time for Rowan Williams - the one state not caused by the other, you understand; it's just coincidence.

Here's a copy of the story from the BBC web site.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed his "deep sorrow" for any difficulties caused by his comments about the Catholic Church in Ireland.

His claim that the Church had lost all credibility because of its handling of child abuse by priests was criticised by both Catholic and Anglican clergy.

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said he was "stunned".

Dr Rowan Williams later telephoned Archbishop Martin to insist he meant no offence to the Irish Catholic Church.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said Dr Williams' words represented unusually damning criticism from the leader of another Church.

He made his comments about the scandal in an interview to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week programme.

Dr Williams said: "I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it's quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now.

"And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society, suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility - that's not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland."

The Archbishop of Dublin said those working to renew the Church did not need the remarks.

He said: "I still shudder when I think of the harm that was caused to abused children. I recognise that their Church failed them.

"I also journey with those - especially parents and priests - who work day by day to renew the Catholic Church in this diocese and who are committed to staying with their Church and passing on the faith in wearying times.

"Archbishop Williams' comments will be for them immensely disheartening and will challenge their faith even further," he said.

The Church in Ireland said the issue of abuse was being taken "very seriously".

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI apologised to all victims of child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland.

He has also rebuked Irish bishops for "grave errors of judgement" in dealing with the problem.

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Dr John Neill - a senior figure in Ireland's Anglican communion - said he had listened to the remarks of Dr Williams with "deep regret".

"As one who... acknowledges the pain and deep suffering of the victims of abuse, I also feel for the countless priests and bishops who daily live out their Christian vocation," he added.

Fellow Anglican the Most Revd Richard Clarke, Bishop of Meath and Kildare, said Dr Williams' remarks were "careless and reckless" and "deeply hurtful".

"It should be remembered that the archbishop has neither experience of Irish life nor any direct ecclesiastical authority in this country. I hope that he will reflect on his comments, and I deeply regret the hurt that he has caused.

"As those of us who live in this country know very well, most bishops, priests and religious of the Roman Catholic tradition minister faithfully and selflessly under very difficult conditions with the love and support of their people," he added.

But Catherine Pepinster, editor of Catholic weekly newspaper The Tablet said Rowan Williams' comments were "very striking" and that many Catholics would share his opinion.

Vows of silence

Dr Williams' comments came after Pope Benedict's personal preacher, the Rev Raniero Cantalamessa, compared criticism of the pontiff and Church over child abuse to "collective violence" suffered by the Jews.

Speaking at Good Friday prayers in St Peter's Basilica, Father Cantalamessa quoted a Jewish friend as saying the accusations reminded him of the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism".

The Vatican said this was not its official position and the comments were criticised by Jewish groups and those representing abuse victims.

On Sunday, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, is expected to apologise during his Easter address in Edinburgh to the victims of paedophile priests.

The Catholic Church has had this problem, and not just in Ireland, for years. The various men in charge have consistently done a cover-up job, often moving priests from one hunting ground to another unsuspecting parish. Perhaps the real question is why this hasn't blown up into a bloody outcry much earlier. Maybe it was just the weight of evidence that finally broke the intransigence and exposed the shocking neglect of their duty of care.

Now, I am certain that the massive majority of priests are as disgusted as the next man on the Clapham omnibus. Unlike an old colleague of mine, I do not believe that all priests are wrong-doers. I do believe, however, that the men in charge are to blame for not dealing with the paedo-priests when they could have - and should have - done. The perverts who messed up young people's lives over the years are unquestionably the first criminals here, but the leaders who shielded them from justice deserve no lattitude.

Would you trust a bishop if you found out that he had essentially been harbouring a sex criminal? Of course not, so that's a dumb question. So is Rowan Wiliams dumb when he says that the institution has lost credibility (even if he was quoting a friend in Ireland)?

I have no doubt that the good men and women involved in the Church's repair work in Ireland, such as the Most Revd Richard Clarke, Bishop of Meath and Kildare, are doing all that they can to restore trust and good relations with the Faithful. Were Williams' comments the most encouraging thing that he could have said? No, and having salt rubbed into a wound is not a nice feeling. But then that was not their purpose; he was reflecting on what he saw and what had been shared with him. He was not saying anything that the people did not know. And you have to be able to articulate what the score is becfore you can start to fix things.

I am trying to decide if Rowan Williams is being rightly censured for his careless and destructive words or is suffering unfair villification at the hands of the press and other critics for telling it like it is.

And it's rare for me to say this: I do not know.

Here is the original article at the BBC web site.
I wonder if I should introduce a Political Correctness or Brainache Beaurocracy category for some of my rants. How about this story from the BBC? It's a great example of the authorities stifling the efforts of well-intentioned citizens trying to make their community a better place.

Or is it? At the top of the article it gives the time of publication:-

Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 17:00 UK

So it was published on April Fool's Day, but it was the afternoon and, traditionally, April Fool's gags are supposed to apply only before midday. So who knows? If this was an April Fool's joke I think it was in somewhat poor taste, with its reference to a desperate true story of a soldier who died in a road collision involving potholes.

Kent man told to remove makeshift pothole warning sign

A Kent plumber has criticised police for asking him to take down a home-made sign warning motorists about potholes near his home.

Ted Relf, 59, erected the makeshift sign outside his home in Shadoxhurst, near Ashford.

But he was told to take it down by a police community support officer (PCSO) who said a complaint had been made.

Kent Police said the sign could have been a distraction for motorists because it hung over the pavement.

Mr Relf said he erected the sign because he was frustrated by the sub-standard work by his local highways authority.

He said: "I was a bit annoyed because police time and resources were being used to investigate a trivial matter.

"The police told me it was a distraction but I pointed to the potholes and said that they were too.

"Making people aware of the potholes is a serious issue.

"It's just stupid to think that someone would complain about a sign."

His wife, Carole Relf, 55, said she was alarmed to read about soldier Capt Jonathan Allen, who was killed when he was hit by a lorry as he cycled near his base in Wiltshire.

It is believed the 29-year-old was struck as he swerved to avoid a pothole while riding home to Burbage from his barracks.

Mrs Relf said: "We don't want anyone else dying as a result of potholes. It is a serious problem around here."

Mr Relf has vowed to put the sign up again if the potholes are not repaired within two weeks.

A Kent Police spokesman said: "There was a complaint from a local who doesn't want to be identified.

"The PCSO went to speak with Mr Relf and he agreed to take the sign down. We didn't go in heavy-handed."

Kent County Council said it has repaired 45,600 potholes county-wide on 1,595 roads since the beginning of the year.

A spokesman said potholes were a "huge problem" but the authority had earmarked at least £1m to help fix them.

Here is the original article at the BBC web site. Beacon