The Mass Debate!

It's often said "Never enter a battle of wits with an unarmed man". But I like to think there's a footnote which runs "Except for practice, or curiosity, or because you've got nothing better to do...or you just really want to because it gives you a perverse pleasure".

And where better to do it than the home of witless battles, youtube comments. But as the bishop said to the actress, it's probably too long for one session, and there's a chuckle at the end.

Theaccousticaddict: Lol, i never said Jesus was God, Jesus was and still is the son of God, that's why God spoke while Jesus was being baptised, he said "This (Jesus) is my beloved son in whom i am well pleased". God clearly specified Jesus as his son. God is Lord, but only through Jesus can we get to him, only through Jesus can we be saved by the grace of God, why? Cos Jesus is the intercessor between man and God he paid the price salvation on the cross of Calvary and defeated death.

Kap: Congratulations, you've just rediscovered the Aryian heresies - the first big theological punchup of christianity. Actually the fudged solution was that god and jesus are 'of the same substance'. Later the holy spirit, not jesus, was given the job of intercessor.

So I'm afraid you've got the creed wrong, and you're actually a heretic. Bad luck.

[I was actually thinking of the Russian Orthodox position when I wrote that. Most of the European and American positions are less worked out.]

Theaccousticaddict: The holy spirit is our comforter not our intercessor, Jesus alone is our advocate and intercessor and the bible is quite specific about this fact. I think it would do you good if you studied the bible well rather than spend time believing in some "creed" that was developed not according to the word of God, but according to tradition. It looks as if you need a bit of schooling with issues in the bible. The holy spirit is not an intercessor, but only a comforter for the sons of God.

Kap: Actually in most forms of christianity it's Mary who's the intercessor. The bible is obviously not specific about the role of the spirit, as the spirit is an extrapolation of a single passage which, after 150 years, led to the father-son pair being expanded into the trinity we know today. You may indeed have read the bible but you don't know much about it.

Theaccousticaddict: well that's not what the bible says a true Christian adheres to the bible and anything apart from that is unchristian and not according to the word of God.Catholics base their mode of worship mostly on tradition rather than the word of God, they pray to saints and Mary instead of the true God. Mary is not an intercessor, she did not pay the price for that on the cross, Jesus did and Jesus alone is our advocate

Kap: So the protestant superstition of the magic sky daddy is more in accordance with a book of fairy tales than the *catholic* superstition of the magic sky daddy. Big deal.

Theaccousticaddict: I dont know what a "Magic sky daddy" is, maybe its one of your fantasised characters, but that is not scriptural neither is that Christian, so i have nothing to say to that. true Christian adheres to the bible, whether you are a protestant or not, it doesn't matter, what natters is adhering to the word of God. I dont know what you mean by "A book of fairy tales", i only know of the bible which is the word of God, stop confusing the bible with your fairy tale stories.

The bible is quite very specific about everything there is to know. We are spiritual beings, and we must live our lives according to the will of God as we will one day give accounts for our deeds. I dont know what you mean by "The role of the spirit". Right from the beginning, Jesus was the son of God and still remains the son of God, yes the trinity is made up of father,son and holy spirit, but that does not mean they are one being or entity.

Kap: Yes, the bible specifically says there are dragons and unicorns, bats are birds, insects have four legs, the world is flat, animals can talk, people come back to life, people fly, and human parthenogenesis is possible.

Theologins have added that jesus existed before he was born, there's a shadowy third 'spirit', and the three both are and are not the same thing in different aspects. Theologins are good at fudging.

[We'll rejoin this thread soon, but first a sideline....]

Theaccousticaddict: Listen, you have no idea what you are talking about. Catholic faith is based on tradition, a true Christian abides and adheres to the bible. Matthew 3;17 clearly specifies how God refers to Jesus as "His beloved son in whom he is well pleased with". Before you decide to proof me wrong, try studying the bible first, i,ve been a Christian all my life and i clearly understand what the bible is saying. Jesus is the son of God and God is our father which art in heaven.

Kap: The tradition changes constantly to suit the church. If you knew the history of your own faith you'd realise that. The term 'son of god' originally signified any (male) member of the Israel tribe. Misunderstanding this, theologins thought it referred to Jesus the prophet being the adoptive son of god, and then to him simply being the result of the divine impregnation of Mary.

Theaccousticaddict: I dont base the way i worship God on tradition, but on the holy word of God. Anything out of that is unspiritual, unchristian and unholy unto our God in heaven. There are so many false religions out there as well as false prophets and wolves in sheep clothings who are out there to confuse the mind of the masses from the path of light. If you want to know about God, then adhere to the word of God, the world will only just confuse you.

Kap: [The holy word of god] interpreted and institutionalised in, um, tradition. One of many traditions.

You're like someone who learned one version of a folk song in childhood, and on finding there are variations, insists that theirs must be the true one. Because it's the best. Because it's the one *they* learned.

Theaccousticaddict: No, not on tradition, but by the holy word of God. Traditions are man made, the word of God is life. You are clearly misinterpreting the bible.

Kap: Ah, so you admit that the bible has to be interpreted to be understood. Interpretation (and mistanslations) become traditional. You are following one tradition, claiming it as the only correct interpretation. All the other sects do the same thing. Simply asserting that your tradition isn't a tradition just isn't good enough.

Theaccousticaddict: There's only one true interpretation for what the bible is saying. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth", in what other way can that be interpreted to mean anything? the bible is clearly specific of its messages so i dont get what you are moaning about. You have no reason for not worshipping God, you are doing the same sand things your kinds do, and that is try to come up with all little and flimsy excuses to support your course, well you have no excuse so get over it!

Kap: I have no reason for not worshipping a small stick either - except that I have no need for superstition. You seem angry that others don't have the same needs as you - an odd position for someone secure in his faith.

In the beginning 'Elohim' created the land and sky. Elohim is plural, and female - you claim your god is neither. What was the order of creation? There's two irreconcilable account in Genesis. You call this 'clearly specific'.

Theaccousticaddict: No reason? well he created you in his own image, he gave you life, without him you would not exist so therefore, you owe your existence to him and therefore must worship him. Yet, out of love, he still gave you the freewill to chose whether to worship him or not. Most people might say "I created you, so you must worship me" but God out of love gave us freewill to chose.

You have nothing important to say, you just repeat after me.

Kap: So your reasoning is: I should believe god created me, because I should worship him, because he created me.

And I should believe in hell, because if I don't...I'll go to hell, which is a terrible threat, if I believe in hell.

And you should believe in the invisible gun pointed at your head, because if you don't, it will fire. So why don't you believe in the gun, Mr Accoustic? I'm telling you it's there, and you have the same reasons for believing in it as you do in god.

Theaccousticaddict: No, whether you believe God created you or not, it changes not the fact that he did actually create you, there's nothing you can do to change that fact except be used to it. He created you and therefore deserves your worship. Whether you believe in hell or not, it does not change the fact that it is real. You just keep twisting things to suit your point.

Kap: And whether you believe in the the flying spaghetti monster or not, he still sees you with his meatball eyes.

If you can provide any reason to believe beyond your repeated assertion, it's about time you did so. If you can't you must by your own thinking join every religion which has ever existed - or ever could exist.

Theaccousticaddict: Now you are trying to talk about God from an academic perspective instead of from a spiritual perspective. You cant learn about God by going to school, you learn of him by reading and understanding his holy word. The truth is right there in our faces, the door is open, its our choice to either remain outside or walk in. Jesus is the son of God, the only one ever who died and ressurected from the death. He is Lord and none can be saved except through his grace.

Kap: Jesus is unique. No one else rose after three days and will return again, and he is the only path to truth.

Apart from Osiris. And Isis. And Prometheus and hundreds of other religious figures with near-identical biographies. Check the dead sea scrolls for stories about many mythical figures which eventually coalesced into jesus.

Then check out the contemporary accounts of jesus' life. That should be easy, because there aren't any.

Theaccousticaddict: lol, Isis never died and ressurected, that is all pure myths. If you read the true history of Isis very well you,d realise that Isis never died, rather he merged with the son god Ra. The evil ones have twisted these myths to be identical with Jesus cos (1), they want to confuse the minds of the masses from the truth, (2), they want people to believe that the story of Jesus is a myth alongside these mythical characters. Read the real stories of Isis and Osiris.

Kap: Oh I see, there's a massive anti-christian conspiracy to discredit jesus, dating from 2-4000 years before he was supposedly born. Perhaps you think I'm part of this massive conspiracy, together with every single folklorologist in the world.

Or maybe the jesus story is the conspiracy, created to discredit Isis by 'the evil ones'. It's equally plausible, given the evidence.

Theaccousticaddict: You are not part of the conspiracy, but you,ve been brainwashed and denied the truth by these conspiracies. The story of Jesus i no conspiracy, its been supported by texts which are not biblical. Am asking myself why am wasting my time responding to your flimsy excuses.Listen to yourself, why would the "evil ones"create a story of salvation, hope and eternal life filled with bliss, no death and happiness? think before you speak.

Kap: You argue because your belief can't stand on its own - you need to find evidence because faith isn't enough.

There are no extrabiblical texts which mention a jesus of nazareth. The one paragraph in Josephus is a later insertion. The gospel of barnabas is a (bad) fraud. The gospel of thomas is a collection of quotes and miracle stories from over the 2000 years before jesus - most of which reappear in the synoptics with character names changed.

Theaccousticaddict: obviously there's an anti Christian conspiracy, there always was right from the beginning, that's why Satan made Adam and Eve sin cos he hated God and hated God's creation. He has also strived to destroy God's name and image right from then till now, pulling men to become his servants and rewarding them with worldly riches, fame and fortune.

Kap: Interesting that Satan seems to be winning the war. Especially as he's fooled 99% of all the christian groups into following the wrong interpretation.

You have given no reason to believe any of your claims, beyond asserting they're clear in the bible, and when they're not, Satan's obscured them, conveniently for you.

Theaccousticaddict: we pull men to God so that they might have eternal life not so that they might be rewarded with worldly riches, fame. The bible clearly specifies these things as vanity, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the world and looses his soul". You have no idea what you are talking about.

[And now, we return to the subject of, um zoology.]

Theaccousticaddict: No, the bible says nothing about 2Unicorns", that's another lies. Yes, the bible talks of mighty dragons, and that's a fact cos what the bible refers to as dragons are what we call "Dinosaurs" today. The bible does not say that the world is flat, again, another lies. Yes, God made Baalam's donkey talk, he created the whole universe so making an animal speak would be piece of cake fro him. Yes Jesus died, and came back to life, after which he ascended into heaven.

Kap: So dinosaur co-existed with humans...and then god erased all the evidence and made the world look like there were millions of years between the two. Because...well, he enjoys telling pointless lies. And punishing those who believe them.

Theaccousticaddict: Yes dinasours co existed with man, there are drawings of life dinosaurs on caves, rocks by ancient civilizations and its clear that they co existed. I dont know why you think dinosaurs existed millions of years before humans just cos some radiometric machine told you so, so lame.

Kap: So on the one hand there are cave drawings showing animals, which people who can't tell a psittacosaurus from an apatosaurus try to interpret as dinosaurs. And on the other, the most consistent and proven long-term dating technology in the world.

Only a creationist could take such pains to be so stupid.

Theaccousticaddict: Listen, the carvings were of dinosaurs, not like anything we,ve seen today, real life dinosaurs. That alone is sufficient proof that ancient civilization lived and co existed with these creatures. You can say otherwise, but that's just cos u re ignorant. Well your equipment may be the "most consistent and long term dating technology" but (1) that is your opinion and (2) it still does not change the fact that its answers and results are based on probabilities, not factual truth.

Kap: So you don't grasp what probability is - no surprise. And saying over and over again "These are pictures of generic dinosaurs" doesn't make it true.

There were 9000+ dinosaur species. Link to a picture of a painting or carving, and identify the species, explaining why it couldn't be any animal known by science to exist at the same time as early humans.

Theaccousticaddict: probability is not factual, its just almost like a presumption, there's no specific conclusion. The carvings showed real lived dinosaurs including the T rex and the rest of em, you are just ignorant based on the lies you,ve been fed with.

Kap: If probability theory didn't work, astronomy would be impossible. There would also be exactly zero point in taking a census every few years.

Show us the pictures. Link to to evidence that the Flinstones is a documentary.

Theaccousticaddict: Probabilities are not facts, simple as that. Facts are specific, probabilities aren't.

[Back and forth like this a few times]

Kap: A probabilistic estimate of the time the dinosaurs died out is around 65 million years. Let's say the estimate is out by a truly massive amount, much much more than has ever happened before - say 10 million years.

Lets say the evidence for humans is also out by the same amount. There's still 10.8 million years between the two. Even if you exaggerate the error of radiometric dating beyond any plausibility, you still can't put humans and dinosaurs in the same timeframe.

Theaccousticaddict: Well that estimation is wrong sir. I have witnessed occasions were radiometric testings has provided a variety of results for one test. That is no truth, truth is not based on estimation.

Again, i need proof from you that the universe is billions or even millions of years old.

Kap: The existence of Hubble pictures, combined with the Michealson-Morley experiments on the speed of light prove the age of the universe.

You say truth is not based on estimation. Go to your bible and count the estimates. You are confusing precision with accuracy - an elementary confusion when talking about statistics.

If you have any evidence that 'that estimation is wrong sir', post it. Together with evidence that cave paintings show dinosaurs.

[Ommitted rather pointless discussion of whether the bible outsells the Quran, and if it does, whether that indicates that it's all true.]

Theaccousticaddict: Tell me how the world looks like the dinosaurs and man are millions of years apart. What evidence do you have for this claim? and please dont refer me to some "radiometric" dating, that's not real and accurate facts, its based on probabilities. I have proof that dinosaurs and man co existed, there are human drawings of variety of dinosaurs on rocks, caves and even drawings of men hunting down these creatures.

Kap: You're forbidding me from using using radiometric evidence, because you think probabilities don't exist or something. Okay, look at the geological evidence. Dinosaurs in one set of bands, hominids in a higher set, laid down later.

You on the other hand have...some stick figures hunting some buffalo-like round things.

Theaccousticaddict: Am not forbidding you from using radiometric evidence, am just against you posing it as factual evidence when they are nothing more than information based on nothing more than probabilities. Now maybe ancient civilization did not really know dinosaurs like we do, but they co existed with them, hunted them and used them for food, all these evidence is recorded in carvings and drawings and that is sufficient for the wise man.

Kap: Show us the evidence.

Theaccousticaddict: Show me the evidence that dinosaurs existed millions of years before humans. Dont tell me anything about radiometric crap, give me believable evidence. No one was there, so for you to be so certain of this thing, then which means that you have evidence beyond reasonable doubt that you are right. Its amazing how you are in a blind faith without realizing.

Kap: I have given you the evidence - fossil bands. You ignored it because it was inconvenient. Address the issue or admit you can't.

Theaccousticaddict: fossil bands?? REALLY?? so fossil bands supercedes real evidences left by human beings?? and how the hell does fossil bands prove that dinosaurs existed millions of years before humans? cos to me it doesnt.

Kap: Then you don't understand the most elementary geology.

Oh, and you have yet to back up your claim of 'real evidences left by human beings'. Please do so, if you can.

Theaccousticaddict: i wanted to prove to you that dinosaurs and man co existed, and i did so by showing you the evidence of man's drawing and carving of dinosaurs on caves and rocks.

Kap: You have claimed this mysterious evidence exists. You have not shown the evidence. For the forth time, where is it?

You also have to show that what you claim are dinosaurs could not be drawings of animals already known to exist at the time. So far you've proven nothing beyond your own capacity for repeated baseless assertion.

No more prevaricating. Provide the evidence. Now please.

Theaccousticaddict: what re u talking about? we are talking about spirituality here not physical matter. Ok, what evidence do you have to show that love, hate, jealousy etc exists?

Please stop asking physical proof for things that are of a spiritual nature, it only shows you have no idea what spirituality is.

Kap: We are talking about dinosaur bodies and human bodies, living at the same time. Bodies are matter. Whether or not spirits and even emotions exist, bodies are corporeal. You are making claims about the corporeal universe. Stop trying to dodge the issue. Substantiate them.

Theaccousticaddict: Humans and dinosaurs lived together, that's a fact. spirits exists, like a bottle preserves wine, so does the body preserve the soul which is our spirit.

Kap: If it's a fact you should be able to show us the proof.

For the fifth time, please do so.

Theaccousticaddict: Jesus existed before he was born, that's fact. He always existed, he just came in form of man to die for our sins, after which he ascended back to heaven, to where he had always been before.

Kap: There is nothing in the bible to suggest any of that. You are imposing extra-biblical traditions onto the text.

Theaccousticaddict: humans and dinosaurs did really co exist.

Kap: How difficult can it be for your to find a link to some of this evidence you claim exist? Are you really unable to find something in AIG or a similar wingnut site? An article by an expert, some jpgs of the cave paintings, a youtube clip?

I've now asked you six times to substantiate your claim that cave paintings show dinosaurs and humans lived together. You say there's lots of evidence. Where is it?

After twenty four hours, he did something amazing. He posted a link to some evidence. And here it is!

I know. I'm as blown away as you are. A plesiosaur, which was a sea-dwelling dinosaur, badly drawn onto a muddy blob which might once have been part of a cave painting. Not a caveman painting from about 32,000 years ago - an Anasazi painting, from 400-1800 CE.

I never thought I could be overwhelmed by how underwhelming something is. But then I met a creationist.

Una Palone Blanca

The writer James Baldwin was a black man who grew up with virulent racism in America's deep south in the 1940s.

His novels were my teenage introduction to gay literature - and almost surreptitiously to African American literature. I'd recommend it to everyone.

His journey out of the mental scarring of his Harlem childhood was difficult, but one moment in it seems revealing. He'd casually chatted with a stranger in a car park, and later in the day...was amazed when he couldn't remember whether the man was black or white.

Actually I'd always doubted the story - Baldwin was a writer after all, and anecdotes are almost always exaggerated.

But today...I was waiting for a friend outside a pub. I looked in and saw someone sitting in our customary place - or at least their teeshirted arm.

I spent several long seconds trying to work out whether the arm belonged to my friend, thinking it was probably too thin, and the hairs too long, and the nails didn't look right. Then I remembered.

The arm belonged to a white guy, and my friend is black.

This could just be Kapitano having a senior moment. But if not, I hereby christen it a Baldwin Moment.

The moment when you realise the whole race and skin tone thing had completely slipped your mind.


You know there's something wrong with your life when you find yourself thinking, "I ought to do something different - because I can't make an interesting blog post out of what I'm doing."

What I've been doing is:

* Failing to get my laptop to crunch 840,000 numbers for a vaguely defined music tech project. Or rather, failing to find a way to do this in less than a solid week.

Instead, I spent a week trying to make it take less than a week.

I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere.

* Spending quite a lot of money trying to find a cheap bargain in mobile phones. I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere.

* Failing to make some idiots on youtube understand, well, anything actually. Least of all that they're idiots. I'm sure there's a...well, anyway.

Here's one scintilating exchange, on the subject of George Takei's wedding:

Zailaach: lol who the cares about this fag's wedding, Shatner is the one and only star of the Star trek ok he's the one who made that show so cool not that faggot, Shatner's soooo right now that he's close to death he should find a peace in his life but instead he's so revengeful talking sht about Shatner 40, 50 yrs later like come on !!!

Kap: Obviously *you* care. Enough to find references to it on youtube, and post some idiot spleen. Odd how so many homophobes can't stay away from gay stuff.

Zailaach: shut up u fag messed up brain dead sob

Kap: Yes, you *really* can't stay away. What is it about manlove that makes you come back again and again? And dropping those little asyntactic blobs of rage in comments.

Zailaach: omg would you leave me alone with your fagging little **** stars n shit, wtf is wrong w you retard bitch? leave me alone what a lunatic!!!

Kap: Why should I? Every time you dribble into your keyboard you confirm my original point, and your excuse for a brain goes a little further into meltdown - which is vaguely entertaining to watch. You obviously can't cope with anyone talking back, which may be why you seem never to have learned anything, ever.

Zailaach: go fuck your dog or your boyfriend's asshole or whatever you usually fuck! loser! you know you're going to hell right? with your lil stars and your dick n poop all over it eww haha your nasty! well I hope god bless you Mr. Psychopath, I've nothing to say, say whatever you wanna say idontgiveafuck TATA

Kap: In other words..."Look at me! Look at me ignoring you! Everybody look at how I don't care what you think!"

Apart from that, your growing scatological obsession is, um, interesting. It seems to vary inversely with your grasp of grammar. Perhaps you would care to post a *third* comment about how you're not going to post any more comments?

Regrettably my corespondent did not comment further. But he did leave a charming and insightful message on my profile page:

you must be a liberal lunatic who just sits on his ass probably wayy too gay and lazy to work, lives on welfare, and from the sound of his comments definitely a drug dealer or some sort, I honestly feel bad for you, what a sad way of living, Get a job and be useful instead of stealing my tax money and be pathetic have a good life !!!!

This has been a selection of my hate mail.

Me Time

January was meant to be the start of a slightly new direction. Healthy eating, exercise, writing, recording, doing things that I wanted to do. Instead I spent most of it proofreading (and to some extent rewriting) a PhD thesis in return for a few dozen cups of tea and a slightly underwhelming thanks on the Acknowledgements page.

Oh, and a request to urgently proof another PhD - this one on investment risk models used by big banks.

The upshot is that I now know more than I ever expected about why a series of lab experiments on prostate cancer genomics failed, and why banks can't predict levels of debt default beyond "what's happend before will probably happen again, more or less".

But February was to be different. Participaton in FAWM, reading all those classic novels I'd never got around to, and maybe even throwing away the three sacks of paper rubbish that've been sitting in the corner since December.


(1) The social service bureaucracy has once again lost my files (for the third time), so once again I have to spend hours filling out a lot of incompetently worded forms, assisted by civil servants who don't understand the system they administrate. They've taken to dealing with their ignorance by telling me it's not their job to clarify the questions they're asking me.

Yesterday there was a form demanding a full tally of my business expenditures over the last three years. That's easy - three pages of zeros. Another wanted me to predict when (if?) the recession would be over.

(2) My laptop contracted a boot sector virus - requiring a complete data backup, disk format, plus OS and software reinstall. Which took two solid days - I hadn't realised I had 75 programs installed.

But there is a bright side to backing up you data - you find things you'd forgotten making, including half-written short stories. So I finished one of them and put it here.

Sidelights 9

I'm rechristening these sideblog roundups to something...slightly more dignified.

"England isn’t a country, it’s an American aircraft carrier."
- Gore Vidal

The only difference between simple bullshit and nuanced bullshit is the nuance.

“Someday the slaves will rush to put on their chains.”
- Jean Jaques Rousseau

"Serious matters seldom break through to cliché-ridden minds."
- Gore Vidal

"No society so marinated in falsity can long survive in a real world."
- Gore Vidal

Postmodernism was a passing fashion within modernism.

I get more pleasure out of downloading a film than I do from watching it.

The twentieth century devides neatly into two parts - pre-WW2, which started around 1880, and post-WW2, which started around 1945 and continues today.

In the first there was the atom theorised, national empires, Freud, Jack the Ripper, Esperanto, class war and hope. In the second there is the atom split, globalisation, McLuhan, Vietnam, binary, class consciousness and perplexity.

"Fiction is a branch of neurology."
- JG Ballard

RealDoll: What we think we want, until we get it.

"The psychopath never dates."
- JG Ballard

In a totalitarian state, a single mediocre mind decides the eternal truth of the moment, punishes and rewards arbitrarily, and tries to make its delusions real. In a bureaucracy, a thousand identical mediocre minds do the same.

The difference is, you can't love a bureaucracy.

Paranoia, like fame, is easy to create but hard to control.

"The taboos of a society may well reveal its deepest preoccupations."
- JG Ballard

One can only be obsessed with fucking the same way one can be obsessed with a pop song - as something brief, pleasant and inoffensive with its simplicity and unimportance hidden by vast hype.

But one can be obsessed with sexuality the same way one can be obsessed with music - as something eternal, protean, barely understood and somehow necessary to life being worth living.

I try to not be a hypocrite, but I've a nasty feeling the only people who aren't hypocrites are paranoid scizophrenics.

Lapped (Part 2)

In the morning, we explored our holiday home, and the surrounding area. There were two bedrooms...and two bathrooms, one with a sauna. Unfortunately nothing in the second bathroom worked at all.

There was also a kettle - a metal kettle which you boiled by putting it on the stove. There were teabags - but only because we'd brought them with us from England. Eventually there was milk from a local market, so we sat drinking our tea trying to decipher the writing on the milk carton.

From hazy memory, Finnish milk contains "Kolhidrat" and "Zukker", which is pleasantly familiar, and is called "Lattomjoelke". "Latt" as in "Latte", and "Mjoelke" as in the East European "Mjlako" - so we were drinking "Milk-Milk". Unless "Latte" meaning "Milk" comes from a word meaning "Cow", in which case it's "Cow Milk".

Speculative linguistics - the holiday game for the educated family.

Breakfast in the restaurant was a buffet affair. One one side, a big tub of cornflakes, a big tub of alpen, a big jug of milk and an enormous tub of yogurt, all to be mixed to your taste.

I chose from the other side, which offered two kinds of cheese, two types of spiced ham, assorted breads, various butters and marmalades, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced gherkins, sliced salmon...and three different kinds of pickled herring. I adopted a philosophy of 'one of everything', and settled down at the table of my brother's friends to get to know them.

There was Rob - one of those immensely clever people who feels absolutely no need to show it off, and who seemed impressed that I could spot his south German accent. Gareth - a young bespectacled nerd who can consume truly vast quantities of cake yet remain slim and toned thanks to constant mountain biking and running. And John, a big beardy bear with a big bellowing belly laugh.

As is traditional, the two women at the table barely spoke and I can't recall their names at all. Which means I either was too busy being shallow and fancying one of the boys or...erm. Well anyway.

I spent the second half of the morning exploring the campus with Rob. The roadsides are littered with bits of 'folk art', put there mainly I think to serve as reference points for guests who can't tell one track of packed snow bordered with snowy trees from another.

The centerpiece was a frozen lake (with bridge for those who don't feel like walking across) actual igloo. Or "Ice Chapel", as it was called. A small church, roughly circular and maybe forty feet in diameter, decorated with relief sculpture on all sides.

There's no way this could be ordinary snow - it must have been compacted and mixed with something concrete-like, then transported to the site and assembled. There must be a thousand little tricks of the trade used in making these things for tourists. We'd return to the chapel later for the wedding.

There was a great deal of teadrinking on this holiday. The restaurant had more than a dozen varieties, and you could drink as much as you liked for free, just by filling a cup from the spout. Mornings, evenings and nights we spent boiling the kettle and pouring the result on teabags quietly taken from the restaurant, as punctuation between naps, reading, listening to audiobooks, going for walks and trying to get that dratted sauna to work.

We also drank it having agreed to wake up at five in the morning to look for the aurora borealis - as we'd been told that was when the cloud cover would lift. Well, it didn't, and we spent quite a long time staring as a vague green blur in the sky, waiting for it to turn into a laser show.

It wasn't just my family - half of the cabins had people outside, staring at the sky and waiting. It was not the Day of the Triffids.

Anyway, the wedding. Beforehand, I had absolutely no idea why my brother and his girlfriend wanted to get married. Now, having watched it happen, I still have no idea why they wanted to do it. But they do love each other and it makes them happy so...that's reason enough.

We got bussed to the chapel, and spent the minutes waiting for the happy couple photographing it mercilessly. Eight cameras, each with a wedding guest attached, snapping at any anything which doesn't move. We then arranged ourselves in the customary way (groom's people on the right, bride's on the left), and in they came. My brother Richard in a starchy grey suit from circa 1972, and his bride Debbie in a black ballgown and flowing white cape, with hair held up with a band and a green gemstone necklace.

I've been to exactly three weddings in my life. The one before this was between a bewildered former drug-addict who (I was told) needed someone to help him get his life back on track. The blushing bride was (I could see) a bully who just wanted someone malleable to control. The two families were seemingly not on speaking terms and I gave the marriage a year at the outside.

However, the thing I remember most clearly was the bizarre service, in which he priest told us that the sole purpose of marriage is "The continuation of the species". I mention it because for my brother's marriage, a minister had made the two hour journey to declare a different sole purpose in not-quite-grammatical English: "The continuation of the culture".

The couple exchanged vows, then rings, giggling and embarrassed, and managed an awkward kiss - before dissolving into a laughing hug as genuine as the last few minutes had been forced.

The moment of authenticity over, we guests were shepherded into a room where there was a table made of solid ice, and served chilled champagne as a prop for the official wedding photographer.

Outside there was a man in a harlequin-like costume, with a sled and two reindeers. Now, I thought reindeers were rather like horses with antlers, but no. These were like nervous little grey ponies - and one of them hadn't grown his antlers yet. There's something quite doglike about them - including the way they absolutely refuse to look at the camera.

Ten minutes later, the newlyweds were on the sled, being dragged off into the distance to begin their honeymoon. Actually the honeymoon starts in London, and will consist of pointing the car in a random direction and driving until they find somewhere interesting - for two weeks.

Back to our cabins for more tea, then a trip to the souvenir shop to buy something...furry, overpriced and memorable.

And on to the food, sat next to the one of the boys I fancied, and quite a lot of red wine. A good combination with lots of potential - potentially. For starters, grated reindeer in mayonnaise on a dense, half leavened bread. Then salmon cream soup with dill. Then the main course which in my case was elk steak - think of something with the mouthfeel of beef, and the taste of a rabbit that's eaten nothing but bacon - with baked potatoes and assorted vegetables in red Cognac gravy.

By now we were all feeling just a little too full - and drunk. I was sufficiently drunk to do my Kenneth Williams impersonation, my father was drunk enough to be even more of an opinionated pain than usual, and Debbie was far gone enough to tell her new father in law to just shut up.

Then there was pudding, with more wine. And then there was wedding cake. And then another slice. I was up for more but, well, there wasn't any more room inside and I didn't have the strength to stand up and get some.

Somehow we all got to our cabins - at least I assume we did because that's where I woke up.

There's a saying that the journey back is longer than the journey there. In this case it was just the same, but in reverse. I'd survived getting there by listening to Tom Baker reading "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde". On the way back it was Freema Agyeman reading something about Dr Who in the wild west.

When we got home, we celebrated with a fry up, and the chocolate bars from the restaurant.

So after all that, can I summarise it twitter-like? Went to Finland, saw a lot of snow, ate too much, watched my brother get married, met some cool people, still hate flying.

Lapped (Part 1)

We planned, packed and checked. We set the video, arranged petcare and tried to look forward to going. We filled and charged our mp3 players, selected books, and phoned for a taxi.

My father gets travel sick, as do I. His solution take a tranquiliser. Presumably on the grounds that travel sickness pills make you sleepy and stop you throwing up, and seeing as tranquilisers make you sleepy....

These pills, um, made my father high. Stoned. Mashed. Out of his tree. So while we were travelling, he was Travelling.

I should note that my father is (a) seventy two years old and (b) long in the habit of criticising anything and everything, so that he can do what he really wants, which is to blame someone for it. He's quite gregarious, which means he likes to find new people to blame, and new people to sound off to while he's doing it.

On this day though, it was the gregarious, chatty part which shone through, as he chucklingly held forth on whatever thought was passing through his mind at the time, to whoever was nearby.

This included Heathrow's pretend-security staff. These are men in pretend-bulletproof jackets, carrying pretend machine guns. Actually, I'm told that sometimes the guns are real and not the plasticky things they were swinging on that day, but aren't loaded. These men were handing out leaflet sized questionnaires - asking the public to evaluate Heathrow's security and suggest improvements.

They dealt with the crazy old man's jokes about smuggling and terrorism with Professional Smiles. It's the kind of warm, friendly smile developed by anyone in a service industry who needs to Put People At Their Ease. Some teachers have an entire method built around smiling at the class to make it feel comfortable.

My father objected to being patted down, because it wasn't being done by 'a girl'. For some reason, the tall handsome strawberry-blond man in charge of touching up passengers said he didn't need to pat me down at all. Thanks dad.

On the plane, he twittered to each of the hostesses in turn, who demonstrated not just the Professional Smile but the Professional Very Brief Noncommittal Response. Eventually, the three of us found our row of seats and sat, scrunched like sardines with muscle cramp, for three hours.

Now, I'm not sure Finnair airlines actually has any planes of its own, because all the flights we were on were 'in association with' another air travel company - British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Quantas and others. But all were identical, and had the same innovation - small LCD screens which lowered to give the pre-flight safety announcement (in several languages), showing bad CGI renderings of A Passenger putting on his seatbelt, his oxygen mask and his lifejacket in the correct way.

This left the flight crew with nothing to do but stand mute and point at the emergency exits when the video mentioned them. But it did give us something to watch during the flight - silent, subtitled CNN documentaries. Or it would have done except that (a) all the passengers were trying to sleep and (b) the screen in front of me developed a fault and showed a psychedelic digital kaleidoscope instead.

Fortunately it had no effect on my mile high father - he watched with a vague, distant smile as the cabin crew tried to make repairs in the time honoured way, by hitting it. Then hitting it again when the first hit made the fault worse.

The in-flight meal was a new experience though - meatball and cheesy-potato sandwiches. Actually quite nice.

Eventually we landed at Helsinki airport, with a warning from the pilot to wrap up warm because Finland is a very cold country. In fact the temperature outside was minus three - about the same as back in Portsmouth at the time. I know it was -3 (and as low as -80 in the air) because this and other useful statistics were flashed up on the screens at intervals. Though I'm not sure the altitude estimate of '360,000 ft' was accurate - an extra zero in there, I rather suspect.

Helsinki airport has about forty terminals. I know this because we had to spend half an hour walking past all of them in an almost-circle to get from our first flight to the connecting flight. It also has signs in three languages - Finnish, English and (I think) Swedish. Plus the announcements add Chinese and French.

Finland has a large Chinese population - and I think many from other oriental countries like Thailand and Korea. In Saudi Arabia, the menial jobs tend to be done by Indians. In France, your hotel room will probably be cleaned by a black woman. In Finland, your chefs and waiters will be Chinese - and they'll have Professional Smiles too.

Our flight in and the connecting flight conveniently shared matching delays, so after another hour of staring at a screen that was faulty in a different way, we arrived at Ivolo. From where a cheery santa-claus-like man drove us for another half hour in his coach to the resort - which he turned out to own. Previously it had been called...Kamakura. Now it was called 'Igloo Village', because the guests stayed, log cabins, referred to as igloos.

Having eaten nothing for over twelve hours, we stuffed down a three course meal in the village restaurant. Instantly regretting it and groaning with indigestion, we managed to pull each other the ten minute walk to our cabin igloo, where we collapsed on the beds.