One of the things I would dearly love to do is write a proper novel, be it historical, sci-fi, action, drama – I’d love to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and produce something worthy of being published. The trouble is, I know myself, and I am my own worst enemy in these circumstances – I am too easily distracted. I lose focus too easily. My mind spins around too fast sometimes, and there are too many other things to steal my attention. I need to put myself into a little box and just devote an entire day to writing whatever I can.

Well it’s taken faaaaar too long, but we finally have a bit of warmth! Unfortunately, it’s the wrong kind of warmth.

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I know I know, I’ve been moaning about the lack of any degree of Spring heat for ages. Now I’m saying it’s bad that it’s warm? What’s wrong with me eh? Well, the problem is, it’s not so much outright heat, as humidity. It’s muggy. It’s close. It’s uncomfortable and sweaty.

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Stop giving me that look people. You know it’s true. We can’t yet do away with our coats because it will likely rain, but at the same time, it’s too warm to wear a coat. We’re in a Catch-22. Can we have a nice, dry day, with blue skies please?

 

Tonight’s voyage home is brought to you by the letter M for Moron – a remarkable idiot even by the standards set by the average fool. His reckless actions were, in a word, incredulous. To use another word, they were astonishing. They also had the impact of drastically hindering my journey home. The incident? A guy decided that, rather than going up the stairs and around to the right platform for his train, it was better to run across the railway tracks. The consequences of this act? The driver of the train refused to budge until the idiot had gotten off the train, which resulted in the driver actually marching down the platform to find the offender and remove him. Unfortunately the time delay resulted in the train getting held up at a set of faulty points further up the train. Cue lengthy delay and a long walk up to the next station.

What a complete muppet. Quite aside from his total disregard for the other passengers, this imbecile risked his own life and potentially the lives of others because he couldn’t be bothered to wait for the next train. I did see a police officer arrive at the station as I headed off to walk up along the beach, so hopefully he got what was coming to him. The upside? A nice evevning walk along the beach, even if I hadn’t banked on it. I just hope the next time I take a stroll along the beach, it’s by choice.

As many of you who follow this blog know, I work in retail. I have worked in retail since 2007, so it will be ten years this year since I took up a position on the ‘front lines’, so to speak. When dealing with customers face-to-face, you are exposing yourself to a wide range of interesting, frustrating and down right weird situations. Sometimes these are of your own making – I am human, and I make mistakes.

Meerkats don’t make mistakes.

True, but then, you live in a hole.

Equally, there are times when the customer is wrong, and I have ranted at great length at how the old adage ‘the customer is always right’ is completely wrong. It is one of the most damaging, ignorant and wholly stupid attitudes to hold in the retail (or any other business) sector. At the end of the day, a customer can be spectacularly wrong, and in this case, that very much applies.

If you buy something such as a tile, wallpaper, or any kind of covering for the floor or wall, and then, over a year later, need more of it (in this instance, because your fitters cocked up), you cannot be surprised to learn that the exact style you had before may not be available. Batches change. These companies don’t store these things indefinitely on the odd chance a customer might come back for that exact same pattern years later.

So admittedly there was more than a batch change at work here. The tile appears to have been completely redesigned, and the colour is noticeably different (whether intentionally or due to an error). I get that the customer is frustrated. However, having a go at me, blaming me for ordering the wrong thing (no I didn’t), isn’t making me inclined to sympathise with you or help you. I’m more likely to shelve your issue in favour of other things (such as pleasant customers).

 

Welcome to a rather introspective post. Any of you who follow the Coalition of the Brave will know that I’ve recently had reasons to stop and think about how I approach debate and discussion, and about the nature of open discussion. There are questions here that I have no easy answers to – what is the Coalition intended to be, a safe space for like-minded people, a forum for honest yet respectful conversation between people with opposing points of view, or some sort of weird amalgamation of the two? Can one be both honest and sensitive to opposing positions? 

I strive to be mindful of how my words can impact others. A statement which is harmless to one person can be hurtful to another, so how a point is conveyed can be as important as what that point is. This doesn’t mean I’m not capable of arguing passionately and forcefully, though even then I try hard to avoid descending into outright aggression or rude behaviour. Even here I don’t always succeed, because I am a human being, flawed beyond measure.

So was I right to hint that another site is something of an echo chamber, given the charge made against the Coalition? Am I a hypocrite? 

Yes, I am. You want to know something? I think we all are, in some way shape or form, at various stages in our lives. It’s human nature. We try to protect our own. 

So with that in mind, are my observations about this tweet, and the subsequent points raised in the discussion, valid? I invite you, the reader, to judge:

There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the question Paul asks, but the salient detail for me is that the tweet to Lambeth Palace wasn’t made altruisticly. It was (to use the expression I used during the discussion), ‘poking the bear’. If you’ve followed any posts on Blogging Theology (and if you check parts onetwo and three of my dialogue regarding bakers and rights) then you may understand a bit more as to why I raise this point. 

The key thing I wish to stress here is that what Paul did is no different to an experience I had in town a few months ago. I was looking for a particular building and asked a guy (chosen at random) where it was. He started to talk about God and was preaching to me. It was unsolicited and uninvited, and not appreciated. Paul’s question (based on his personal religious position as a Muslim) had nothing to do with the question raised (which was about encouraging job applications). The only genuine connection between the Palace tweet and Paul’s reply is the name Jesus. 

I called Paul out on this, and it didn’t take long before he steered the conversation away from the subject and onto questions about why I hate religion and why I post on his blogs if I hate religion (basically, classic examples of leading questions). I asked him whether he wanted genuine discussion on his site, or whether he just wants people to agree with him. Paul has now decided to put my comments into a moderation queue and the last couple haven’t been published. 

On my own blog, and on the Coalition, I try to let comments through at every opportunity. I don’t like blocking comments or people and try to avoid it, though sometimes it can’t be helped. Nevertheless, my own comments to Paul regarding the apparent ‘echo chamber’ nature of the discussion he appears to want to cultivate there has forced me to look in the mirror. Does this invalidate what I had to say on Blogging Theology? I don’t think so. Nor do I feel I have been rude to him. Then again, I am not him, and I cannot therefore judge what he finds to be rude.

All in all, the conversation has been interesting and enlightening, in more ways than one.

Meerkats are used to the sun and heat of Africa, so you can probably imagine what they think of winter. 

Cold?! Please, anything but cold!

Are we due a white Christmas? I don’t know. Whether we get a dusting of icy powder depends upon who you speak to. I for one wouldn’t completely reject the idea – but this idyllic landscape:

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Is a far cry from the reality:

Snow is cold. Snow is wet, and it is dirty. It’s nice to look at from a distance, but I for one have to go out in it. It’s not as much fun when you’re running about in it. Can it snow for maybe a day please, then melt?

I need to reword the title – it’s not really a celebrity fight, but you know what I mean…

So, in the blue (or should that be red white and blue?) corner, we have Steve Rodgers, aka Captain America, as per his appearances in the MCU.

 


In the red corner, we have Khan Singh, as per his appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness.

 

Both are superhuman, possessing strength and endurance well beyond normal means. In a fight to the death, who walks away alive?

Rodgers has demonstrated several remarkable feats since he appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger. Aside from the obvious displays of speed and strength, he has literally thrown a motorbike with enough force to dent a jeep, prevented a helicopter from flying away by using his bare hands, and whilst he wasn’t exactly beating Loki in hand-to-hand combat, he wasn’t going down easily. Rodgers’ fights against Hydra goons showed him to be way out of their league, dispatching them like they were ragdolls. He also went into hand-to-hand combat against Tony Stark’s Iron Man and, whilst he would have lost if not for Bucky’s interference, he held his own.

Rodgers is also very accurate with his shield – a lethal weapon in his hands.

Khan’s performances are in many respects similar. His accuracy with guns in the fight scene against the Klingons was astonishing, especially given a number of the shots were fired one-handed. He stood there and took several punches from Kirk without so much as a second thought, and would have killed Spock (impressive, given Vulcans are said to have three times the strength of humans) had Uhura not intervened.

So in many respects, they are actually similar in strength, which makes this a close-run fight. If Cap has his shield (and he rarely doesn’t have it), then he has a ranged weapon and a close-range weapon, that could do a lot of damage. However, the key difference between the two is their ruthlessness, and believe it or not, Rodgers is more ruthless in many respects, which is why he wins this one for me.

Khan could have killed Spock by simply throwing him off the aerial platforms they were fighting on. Instead, he toyed with him, and as such, gave away the initiative. Rodgers is more inclined to end a fight quickly, which gives him the advantage. That said, if they were placed into an environment like say, a boxing match, it would be too close to call.