January 23rd, 2009

intense Dr Who

In which the author returns to blogging (possibly temporarily)

Note: this is a serious journal entry. Feel free to skip it if you're not in the mood for a serious entry.
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About 95% of the time, I check my work email at home. I probably shouldn't. I have enough to do at home without keeping work ticking over in my head. I really do try to keep work at work. So, last night, I didn't check my work email. Which means that today was kind of odd.

I arrived at work to find out that our of building had been taken over by protesters.

Luckily, they weren't protesting against me. In fact, they were extremely pleasant and polite.

They were protesting about the recent attack on Gaza.

A writer's blog, for me, is different from a personal blog, despite the fact that it's nonetheless very personal.

For a start, I try to avoid politics (although it's surprising how often I end up writing the phrase 'I try to avoid politics') even though it's something I have strong views on. Another thing I try to avoid is religion.

I'm going to break those not-particularly-strict rules in this entry.

Anyway, these protesters who had taken over our offices, I have no idea who they were (other than students). I have no idea whether their group is a group I would totally agree with or whose views I would find completely abhorrent. It doesn't really matter, because I did support what they were doing.

I've been shocked at the relative silence regarding the enormous casualties, particularly civilian casualties, in Gaza. Maybe it's being a dad now, but hearing of dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, of children being killed sickened me more than I can express, and nobody, at least in politics or the media, seemed to care.

This has nothing to do with the rights or wrongs of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. It's about people--children--dying, and everyone turning away.

So, I'm glad those students did take over our offices today, even though I had a wasted trip. When children are being killed, it shouldn't be accompanied by silence. Someone should be outraged.

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Recently, buses have been driving around the UK with atheist adverts on the sides, saying something like, 'God probably doesn't exist. So stop worrying and enjoy your life.' I've been wondering what the point of them is. It's not like they're going to convert anyone, and they're not extreme enough to wind up religious people.

But today I noticed that the adverts contain the URL of Richard Dawkins website, and I exactly realised what the point of the adverts is. They are to give even more publicity to the great egotist.

Richard Dawkins irritates me. Until recently, he held a chair in the public understanding of science. The public understanding of science is something that is really lacking. He could have--should have--used his position to further understanding of science in all its complexities, but instead he used it to pursue his anti-religious agenda.

Science and religion have absolutely nothing to do with each other. They are neither mutually exclusive nor do they comment on the same thing. They are different ways of looking at the world, based on entirely different assumptions and different principles. Science doesn't have the tools to comment on religion, and religion doesn't have the tools to comment on science. (And by religion I mean the beliefs, not the organised entities). They are entirely different models with different purposes.

Dawkins could have done an awful lot of good for science, but instead he chose to engage in a pointless fight, the only outcome of which was to increase his personal profile and sell a lot of books for him, while science remains un-understood and many religious people shy away from it.

Dawkins is a religious fanatic, even though his religion is atheism, and as someone who cares about science, I am tired of him, just as I am tired of all other religious fanatics.

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Over the last week or so, I've been trying to start upgrading my web skills. When you're working on web stuff, it's very easy to fall behind the curve because you're so busy, but technologies and techniques advance, and if you're not careful, you can get left behind.

For example, until recently, javascript hasn't been so important and you could do a perfectly good website without any javascript at all.

That's changing. Javascript is becoming more and more important, it's evolving fast, and techniques have been coming on too. I can do javascript, but my skills have grown a little rusty. So, I'm going to spend some time really catching up on how to do javascript properly and try to get inside how it works.

When I'm done with that (!), I need to work on my PHP skills. Again, three or four years ago, I got fairly good at PHP, to the extent of programming my own content management system at work, but PHP has moved on too. I hardly touched on object-oriented programming, for example, when I was learning PHP. So, that's the next project.

Of course, I've no idea how I'm going to find time for these, but I don't have much choice. Realistically, they don't matter too much for my job at the moment; I spend more time on information architecture, planning, management, content management system integration, content strategy and so on. But right now I have no idea how safe my job is in the medium- or long-term, so I need to keep my other skills up to date.

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Okay, next entry I promise no politics or religion or computery stuff...