Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Nom de Blog

This is a post I made on my other blog, but just as relevent here.

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep I thought: "I really should write a blog post to explain why 'Grendel' is my blogging name".

Then I had a truly original thought "Hey - a blogging name is a 'Nom De Blog'!"

Of course, when I Googled 'Nom de Blog' this morning I found 59,400 results, this post will make that 59401 - so much for an 'original thought'!

Sadly I have not coined a new term, and has even been defined in online dictionaries.

Ah well - doesn't change the purpose of this post!


Grendel is a march-stepper, a 'boundary-land walker', and an antagonist of the hero Beowulf. He is described in an early anglo-saxon epic 'Beowulf' that is found in the Nowell Codex and as such represents one of (if not the earliest) anglo-saxon work of fiction written and recorded.

JRR Tolkien - a professor of the Anglo-Saxon language, knew the saga well and inevitebly elements of the story found their way into his own fiction.

A march-stepper was one who wandered the desolate reaches of a land and they could be both admired and feared for they spent their lives away from the closeness of a village existing amongst the monsters of the mind and the night that anglo-saxons feared.

Years ago, I was studying to be an english and science teacher and while much of the literature we discussed was modern, we did have a lecturer with an interest in earlier works. References to Beowulf, Grendel and Heorot were made and peaked my interest for I had only recently read a science fiction story by Larry Niven called 'Legacy of Heorot' in which a creature that comes to be known as a 'grendel' terrorizes the recent arival on a planet.

All of a sudden I had some context for the modern story from the early one and my interest in the characters and situation of the early anglo-saxon tale has continued since that time.

My career has in some ways also stretched my comfortable boundaries making me a 'march stepper' to myself and at times I seemed to end up working 'on the edge' of situations more often than not.

Now of course my life is a lot more settled and the wildernesses that I range now are more of the imaginative and intellectual types.

When choosing a name to use online, I chose Grendel - I still don't really know why, but I've used it in online games, forums, bulletin boards, chats and blogs for a decade now and I notice that there are a lot of other 'grendels' out there these days. It seems the character has become quite popular and used in modern literature and event comic strips. There is a computer array known as a grendel and more recently a number of movies about the events at Heorot.

It seems that one of the earliest stories and its characters will live on for quite some time. Googling images of 'Grendel' delivers a bewildering array including some wonderful sketches of a dark and mysterious monster, lurid covers from comic books and even (curiously) a small white child's shoe with flowers on it.

Nothing at all to do with coffee or scrapbooking eh?

Monday, 6 August 2007

Howard and Rudd – Christian Confidential

John Howard and Kevin Rudd will be using a webcast to address voters this week, but only Christian Voters.

In a message tailored for Christian audiences alone, Howard and Rudd will lay forth their positions on a number of issues. To access to the webcast your church as to register here by noon tomorrow: http://www.australiavotes.org/index.php

But what if you are not in a church, or like me, not a Christian?

Has my relevance slipped because I am not a Christian – am I no longer interested in what they have to say about issues that are important to one segment on the population?

I’d suggest that I am very interested and as part of a democratic process I am appalled to see access to the presentation limited to only the members of “The Club”.

Sure, the media have access and will report on the webcasts – but I’d like the unfiltered, unspun version, straight from the horses’ mouths.

I support the concept of speaking with a message for a particular group and I think it is important for Christians to hear the positions of political leaders on matter that are important to them – but excluding the non-Christian population sends a message that somehow they are perhaps less worthy to participate in the discussions that are likely to centre on moral and ethical as well as religious (Christian) issues.

The event has been organised by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and is being held at the National Press Club – strange then that at an event of this importance the content should be restricted ‘to Christians only’.

ACL seeks to drive policy change to support the Christian viewpoint – which is fair enough since that is what they are founded to do, but for a broader impact why not make the webcast available to every Australian?

If I were one of the supporters of ACL I’d be asking why the opportunity to witness to non-Christian Australians was being lost – or perhaps they think we’ll misconstrue the message?

I wonder if the restriction of access to churches only was something that came from ACL – or was a request of the political parties involved in the webcast?

On the website for the broadcast they have an FAQ section. One of the questions is in fact:

Q. I am not a Christian or member of any church, can I watch the webcast?

A. Unfortunately, Mr Howard and Mr Rudd will be specifically addressing the Christian voter and only churches and Christian organisations will be able to register for the webcast. However, media will have the opportunity to attend the Canberra event and will be freely available to report on the speeches.

Okaaaay – specifically addressing the Christian Voter? When our political leaders speak, they are always potentially speaking to the whole country and while I am happy, nay ecstatic that they address specific segments, that address should be equally available to all whenever possible – I would understand an attendance restriction if it were in a venue that could only hold a few people – but this is being broadcast on the web.

Not Happy, John.

And Kevin.

And especially ACL.

Am I just being Unreasonable?

Rant over – back to your scrapping!