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Middle aged hetrosexual, WASP male. Middle of the road, reasonably sane and  reasonably employed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Pascal's Wager, or "That's all there is because there ain't no more!"

Although I am not an Atheist, nor will I ever be, the arguments put forth here by J.L. Mackie have very valid points and are some of the reasons I have gone on a spiritual quest while at the same time ranting against the church.

** Pascal's Wager: "It is safer to believe in God, even if there is no definitive proof that God exists!"

Pascal's call for us not to consider the evidence but to simply believe on prudential grounds fails.

Once the full range of such possibilities is taken into account, Pascal's argument from comparative expectations falls to the ground. The cultivation of non-rational belief is not even practically reasonable.

This is a call for the rejection of Pascal's wager. A call for all of us to use our reason to decide whether the central claims of Christianity are true or false. It is also a reminder that our choices have a moral dimension that cannot be ignored.

We have seen that many important details about Jesus' life given in the gospels are either false or historically suspect. The balance of evidence, far from being inconclusive, shows that the major teachings and claims of Christianity are false.

These parts show that one of the main assumptions of Pascal's wager, that we cannot know the truth or falsity or religious claims and are thus forced to make a wager, is false.

As we have mentioned above, there is a moral dimension to Pascal's wager. We have seen that Christianity, in all its forms - Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Protestantism and the Fringe Churches - has inflicted tremendous harm on civilization.

When one makes a wager to believe, then one becomes morally responsible for the propagation of suffering that Christianity have been bringing and will continue to bring upon the world.

The Roman Catholic Church continues its horrible track record of bringing misery to its followers and to non-Catholics. It's illogical stance on contraception leads to millions of unwanted pregnancies and, indirectly, to many thousands maternal and infant deaths.

It also means that poor third world countries with Catholic majorities, such as the Philippines and Brazil, continue to be burdened by overpopulation, poverty, hunger and disease.

It is widely recognized that the opposition of the Catholic Church to the use of condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS is at least partially responsible for the high rate of new infections in Africa and elsewhere.

Its irrational position on this has led to the pronouncement that if a husband infected with HIV/AIDS wants a normal conjugal relationship with his wife, he should do so without a condom. Life takes a back seat to theological nonsense.

The moribund structure of the Church also allows for the horrendously high number of sex abuse committed by its clergy on innocent young Catholics. The recently departed pope, John Paul II bears a huge responsibility for this continuing infliction of suffering on humankind.

The Fundamentalist Protestant churches inflict their own brand of horror on the world. With scientific creationism and intelligent design creationism, they are trying to bring science, and the world, back into the dark ages where faith and ignorance reign supreme.

The fundamental irrationalism of this branch of Christianity has meant that many of the flock have been fleeced by TV evangelists, some of whose have sexual escapades comparable to the infamous Pope Alexander VI.

This irrationalism breeds belief in the efficacy of faith healing to the detriment, and death, of many. Needless to say, fundamentalism breeds intolerance.

The fundamentalists have joined forces with the Catholic Church in their absolutist opposition to abortion, leading the current fundamentalist leaning U.S. government to withhold funds from organizations that aid poor women in third world countries.

It has been estimated that almost 5,000 women needlessly die each year due to this misnamed "culture of life" policy.

This moral responsibility for all these also partially falls on the so-called liberal Christians. While this group of Christians may do little harm directly, they provide the raw material (in "lukewarm" believers who are already positively disposed towards Christianity) from which fundamentalism builds itself.

Furthermore by putting a "respectable" veneer on religious discourse, they prevent a much needed and long overdue logical, philosophical and scientific demolition of religious claims - since to even attempt to question religion per se is considered politically incorrect.

As Sam Harris rightly noted in his book The End of Faith:
Religious moderates are, in a large part, responsible for the religious conflict in our world, because their beliefs provide the context in which scriptural literalism and religious violence can never be adequately opposed.


It is time for liberal Christians to think through their belief system. Whether applying words which lose all sense of their normal meaning just to keep some semblance of the religious life, is really worth the harm they indirectly help inflict on the world.

Furthermore amidst all this proven negative effects of Christianity, it is hard to see if there is much good that comes out of it. Some believers have tried to argue that Christians lead healthier lives than non-Christians, but the studies cited have been shown to be seriously flawed.

Furthermore it is debatable whether Christianity actually makes a person moral. History seems to tell us otherwise. Many of the popes throughout history had been morally deficient human beings; so too were many of the church fathers, Protestant reformers and some modern evangelical preachers.

They preached intolerance and hate and sometimes actively encouraged the torture and murders of innocent people. Indeed recent sociological studies have shown that there is a negative correlation between religiosity and morality.

The world today, perhaps more than ever, is in need of our undivided, moral and rational, attention. The problems of the world, both natural and man-made are many: famine, floods, the greenhouse effect, the ozone hole and the irreversible extinction of countless species of plants and animals.

The only chance the world has is for humankind to understand that this world is all we have. Only we can solve the world's problems. The solutions for the problems of the world and for life in general are not to be found in Christianity.

Christianity is, in fact, part of the problem.


Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 (what the church doesn't want you to know!) at; www.God-101.com
And the petition to have people mind their own business instead of yours at; http://www.petitiononline.com/moses/petition.html

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The smoker you drink, the player you get!

I had 12 bottles of whiskey in my cellar that my wife instructed me to empty. She said, "Empty each and every bottle down the sink," so I proceeded with the task.

I withdrew the cork from the first bottle and poured the contents down the sink, with the exception of one glass which I drank. I extracted the cork from the second bottle and did likewise, with the exception of one glass which I drank. I then withdrew the cork from the third bottle and poured the contents down the sink, with the exception of one glass which I drank.

I pulled the cork from the fourth sink, poured the bottle down the glass, which I drank. I pulled the bottle from the cork of the next, and drank one sink out of it and threw the rest down the glass. I pulled the sink out of the glass and poured the cork from the bottle. Then I corked the sink with the glass, bottled the drink, and drank the pour.

When I had everything emptied I steadied the house with one hand, counted the bottles, corks, glasses, and sinks with the other, which were 29, and put the houses in one bottle, which I drank.

I'm not under the affluence of incohol, but thinke peep I am. I'm not half so thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here the longer I get.

Al

Everyone's ass is up for grabs!

The Department of Homeland Security in the States has instituted new rules for all major arirports.
Shown here is the "screening" process for all pasengers arriving and departing on International flights!

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Conspiracy Theorists!

Reading the Saturday morning paper and naturally it is full of 9/11 since this is the fifth anniversary. (Think I'll take the fifth and also drink a fifth.)

There were lots of articles including one about the "conspiracy theorists" and some of the different scenarios people had come up with. You know, the U.S. Government was behind it, the Jews did it, Buddy Whatshisname and the Udder Fellows did it, and so on.

Listening to these theorists is struck me that they used the exact same arguments and had the same mindset for their bullshit as is employed by "religious theorists" (Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu etc.) to promote their own particular belief system. No difference at all. Interesting eh?

Allan

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Quotable...Ayn Rand

I gathered some of my favorite quotes from Ayn Rand. Some of these were taken from interviews she did, her novels and her non-fiction writing. Rand has had a huge impact on my outlook to life. Why, because she makes plain old fashioned "sense." Not the politically correct, don't offend anyone, coddle your kids, go along with the crowd, don't make waves crap that is going around today.

- "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."

- "When 'the common good' of a society is regarded as something apart from and superior to the individual good of its members, it means that the good of *some* men takes precedence over the good of others, with those others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals."

- "The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it."

- "I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

- "Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others."

- "The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles."

- "I am a man who does not exist for others."

- "[I am] interested in politics for only one reason -- to reach the day when I would not have to be interested in politics. I wanted to secure a society in which I would be free to pursue my own concerns and goals, knowing that the government would not interfere to wreck them, knowing that my life, my work, my future were not at the mercy of the state..."

- "The right to vote is a consequence, not a primary cause, of a free social system—and its value depends on the constitutional structure implementing and strictly delimiting the voters' power; unlimited majority rule is an instance of the principle of tyranny."

- "Just as man can't exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one's rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property."


Allan W Janssen is the author of the petition to have people mind their own business instead of yours at; http://www.petitiononline.com/moses/petition.html

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Also spoke Ayn Rand!

I will let this piece speak for itself!!! But it will be referred to in our next look at the Middle East.

The Terrorists' Motivation: Islam - Their attempt to practice religion consistently explains the terrorists' actions. By: Edwin A. Locke and Alex Epstein
It is now five years since September 11, 2001--and since that horrific day we have witnessed numerous additional attacks by Islamic terrorists against the West. In the face of a seemingly never-ending supply of suicidal killers, many still do not understand the motivation of the terrorists. Commentators are eager to offer a bevy of pseudo-explanations--poverty, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc.--while ignoring the motivation the terrorists themselves openly proclaim: Islam.

The near silence about the true role of Islam in motivating Islamic terrorists has two main causes: multiculturalism and religion. Multiculturalism asserts that all cultures are equal and therefore none may criticize another; intellectuals and politicians are therefore reluctant to declare the obvious superiority of Western culture to Islamic culture. And the strong commitment to religion of many Americans, especially conservatives, makes them reluctant to indict a religion as the cause of a massive evil. But if we are to identify the fundamental cause of the terrorists' actions, we must understand at least two fundamental premises of the religion they kill for.

First, Islam, like all religions, rejects reason as a means of gaining knowledge and guiding action; it holds that all important truths are grasped by faith in supernatural beings and sacred texts. The Koran explicitly states that knowledge comes from revelation, not thinking. (Christianity in pure form entails a similar rejection of reason, but it has been heavily diluted and secularized since the Renaissance.)

Islam advocates the subordination of every sphere of life to religious dogma, including the legal system, politics, economics, and family life; the word "Islam" means literally: submission. The individual is not supposed to think independently but to selflessly subordinate himself to the dictates of his religion and its theocratic representatives.

We have seen this before in the West--it was called the Dark Ages.

Second, as with any religion that seeks converts, a derivative tenet of Islam is that it should be imposed by force (you cannot convince someone of the non-rational). The Koran is replete with calls to take up arms in its name: "fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them . . . those who reject our signs we shall soon cast into the fire . . . those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads . . . as to the deviators, they are the fuel of hell."

These ideas easily lead to fanaticism and terrorism. In fact, what is often referred to as the "fanaticism" of many Muslims is explicitly endorsed by their religion. Consider the following characteristics of religious fanatics. The fanatic demands unquestioning obedience to religious dogma--so does Islam. The fanatic cannot be reasoned with, because he rejects reason--so does Islam. The fanatic eagerly embraces any call to impose his dogma by force on those who will not adopt it voluntarily--so does Islam.

The terrorists are not "un-Islamic" bandits who have "hijacked a great religion"; they are consistent and serious followers of their religion.

It is true that many Muslims who live in the West (like most Christians) reject religious fanaticism and are law-abiding and even loyal citizens, but this is because they have accepted some Western values, including respect for reason, a belief in individual rights, and the need for a separation between church and state. It is only to the extent that they depart from their religion--and from a society that imposes it--that they achieve prosperity, freedom, and peace.

In the last year, there has been more and more of a call for a "War of Ideas"--an intellectual campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of the Arab world that will discourage and discredit Islamic terrorism. Unfortunately, the centerpiece of this campaign so far has been to appeal to Muslims with claims that Islam is perfectly consistent with Western ideals, and inconsistent with terrorism.

America has,with little success, groveled to so-called moderate Muslim leaders to strongly repudiate terrorism. (Those leaders have focused little energy on damning Islamic fanaticism, and much on the alleged sins of the U.S. government.) Such a campaign cannot work, since insofar as these "moderates" accept Islam, they cannot convincingly oppose violence in its name. A true "War of Ideas" would be one in which we proclaim loudly and with moral certainty the secular values we stand for: reason, rights, freedom, material prosperity, and personal happiness on this earth.

Why We Are Losing Hearts and Minds
By: Keith Lockitch


Our leaders have failed to answer the evil moral ideal of Islamic totalitarianism with a rational ideal of our own. Five years into our "war on terror," the Iraqi insurgency is raging, with no apparent end to the new recruits eager to wage jihad against the West. Support for offensive action has faded among a disheartened American public, while the terrorists are growing in number and in boldness.

Where have our leaders gone wrong? What kind of leadership failure can demoralize a whole nation of honest, productive citizens, while leaving suicide murderers stirred to righteous action?

The power that inspires righteous action--and which, by its absence, breeds discouragement--is the power of moral idealism. What has brought us to our present state is our leaders' moral weakness in response to the jihadists' moral zeal.

Observe that what draws the recruits to terrorist cells is a powerful ideal: the advancement of their religion. The jihadists believe fervently that Islam is the revealed word of Allah, that selfless submission to Allah is the purpose of life, and that all individuals should be subjugated to Islamic law under a theocracy. They believe in spreading the rule of Islam worldwide, and killing any "infidels" who stand in their way. They are morally outraged by the American ideal of individual liberty and regard our this-worldly, capitalistic culture as an evil that must be destroyed.

America can only defend itself against such a zealous, militant movement if we have moral confidence in our own ideals--and fight for them. We must repudiate the Islamists' "ideals" of other-worldliness, of blind faith, of renunciation and suffering, of theocracy, and proudly uphold the superior, American ideals of reason, freedom, and the pursuit of worldly happiness.

But our leaders have not shown such moral confidence.

When the terrorists of Sept. 11 struck in the name of Islam, President Bush did not identify them as Islamic totalitarians and condemn their murderous ideology and its supporters. Instead, he painted the hijackers as a band of isolated lunatics who had "hijacked a great religion." (Only recently has President Bush even acknowledged that our enemy is Islamic, with his use of the term "Islamic fascism.")

In response to Muslim denunciations of America’s secularism, our leaders did not defend this attribute of America, but instead stressed Americans' religiosity. A mere two weeks after Sept. 11, with the ruins of the World Trade Towers still smoldering, our planned Afghanistan campaign, "Operation Infinite Justice," was renamed to appease Muslims protesting that only Allah can dispense "infinite justice."

Unable to defend America intellectually, our leaders are unable to defend her militarily.

Have our leaders acted consistently against terrorist regimes? Consider our policy toward Iran, the primary state sponsor of terrorism. Refusing to identify Iran as the fatherland of Islamic totalitarianism, our president initially beseeched its Mullahs to join our "war on terror." And he has consistently answered their chants of "Death to America" and their quest for nuclear weapons with negotiation and spineless diplomacy.

Have our leaders asserted that they will use America’s formidable military to secure our way of life by whatever means necessary? No. Lacking the moral confidence to defeat our enemies, they have instead squandered our military resources and sacrificed our brave soldiers in a futile quest to spread "democracy" around the globe--as though bringing the vote to Muslim mobs sympathetic to Islamic totalitarianism will somehow end the terrorist threat.

The reason the terrorists and their state sponsors are not demoralized is that our leaders have failed to demoralize them. Our leaders' words and actions have signaled that we are not as morally committed to our lives and freedom as the terrorists are to our destruction.

We must make it clear to the jihadists that we will destroy anyone who takes up arms for Islamic totalitarianism. No one wants to fight and die for a hopeless cause. The jihadists will continue to be emboldened and to attract new recruits until they are convinced their goal is unachievable. They must see that we have the moral confidence to defend our lives--to answer their violence with an overwhelming military response, without pulling punches. They must see us willing to visit such crushing devastation on them that they fear us more than they fear Allah.

It is often said that we must win the "hearts and minds" of supporters of totalitarian Islam. Indeed we must: their hearts must be made to despair at the futility of their cause, and their minds must be convinced that any threat to our lives and freedom will bring them swift and certain doom.

The ideologues of totalitarian Islam have seized the power of moral idealism in the service of our destruction. It is time we reclaimed that power in defense of our freedom.


Keith Lockitch, Ph.D. in physics, is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA. The Institute promotes the ideas of Ayn Rand--best-selling author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” and originator of the philosophy of Objectivism.

Copyright © 2006 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 (what the church doesn't want you to know!) at; www.God-101.com
And the petition to have people mind their own business instead of yours at; http://www.petitiononline.com/moses/petition.html

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Why should just the religious nuts get heard?

Why should just the religious nuts get heard? After all, this is a democracy isn't it? We give equal time to any asshole or idiot!

http://www.crank.net/

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Monday, September 04, 2006

"Life is funnier than shit!"

There was a line from a ganster movie I watched a few years back (Once Upon a Time in America)that upon reflection makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

But, if you hear it and don't think about it too much, then it makes perfect sense! (I'll get to it in a moment!)

Now that the Israeli / Hezbollah war seems to be over, (at least for a while) the task of rebuilding Lebanon has begun. Families that are homeless are recieving twelve thousand dollars from Hezbollah (with money donated by Iran) to help them start to re-build and millions are being spent on reconstructing Southern Lebanon's infrastructure!

The money is flowing fast and furious because the group that helps the most will gain favour with the masses and their loyalty as well.

Millions of dollars, - some for you - some for you - some for you! There you go, start over and repair the damage that the "Great Satan" America and it's lap dog Israel has done to you yet once again.
So says Hezbollah, Hammas, Iran and Syria.

The incredible irony here is that all this fence mending and bribery and sculduggery to gain the loyalty of the Lebanese people is being paid for in AMERICAN dollars.

Yup, life is funnier than shit!

Allan

"If I ruled the World" (Part 3) or; "Death to America."

Back in “If I ruled the World,” (Part 2) we looked at some of the factors that contribute to the unrest in the Middle East. Now in Part 3 I think we should look at the effects of this set of circumstances.

I believe in Karma and Serendipitous occurrences so it is no wonder that on the day I start to examine these factors Haroon Siddiqui prints a feature article in the Toronto Star about the exact same thing.
Makes my job (research) all the easier. Haroon almost handed me this article on a platter. Thank you Haroon!

Anyway, he gave me a lot of information on what I suspected were some of the major contributing factors in the Middle East situation. Even some stuff I never would have found on my own since he is an expert on the dynamics of this whole area.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the Americans who are the main victims of Muslim extremists, but rather the Muslims themselves. (Just as in the States, it is not the whites who are besieged by the blacks but rather the blacks themselves.)

While some 3000 Americans have been killed by Middle East Extremists, (All of them from 9/11) at least 50,000 and maybe as many as 100,000 Iraqis have been killed between the Americans and their own Sectarian violence.

In addition, the Bali bombing victims were mainly Muslim as were most of the other terrorist acts during the last five years with the exception of the bombings in Spain and London.

These acts must not be attributed solely to Religion since they are more ideological, social, and economic than anything else. As I say in my book “The Plain Truth About God” (what the church doesn’t want you to know!) “The problems in the Middle East are not only religious, insofar as the clergy and the Politicians are all to glad to foster discontent to further their own ends. It is cultural and political. It is what might be described as a: “Political agenda seeking justification in religion!”

The big question now is what brought about these socio-economic conditions in the first place and how has that affected society?

Before we go further, (Dear Reader, I still need some of your input on this) let us look at some of the effects they have had on the average citizen in the Middle East.

The standard of living in the Muslim Nations is horrendous compared to the oil wealth that is generated by some of these Countries. There are 56 members of the Islamic Conference, who represent a quarter of the world’s population.

BUT, they only produce 5% of the world economy and most of that is oil - which is a non-renewable resource. Even in the oil rich countries the disparity between those who rule and those being run - no sorry, ruled over is almost beyhond belief.

As an example, (Thank you Haroon.) a quarter of Pakistan’s budget and most of the two (2) billion dollars a year the U.S. gives to Egypt for peace with the Israelis goes towards the military.

Throughout the Islamic world, the most undemocratic and economically backward States are those that happened to be the closest allies of the U.S.

Then they wonder why everyone keeps yelling “Death to America!”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T89y01dZc1c&search=jazeera

The Arab nations, with a population equal to that of the United States, (280 million) have a total GDP less than that of Spain. (Believe me, Spains economy is not that great!) Even more importantly, the rate of literacy amongst the Arab population as a whole is between 40-45% and of that, well over three quarters of the women can neither read nor write!

The most educated Arabs live in either Europe or the U.S. and they have not come home to help jump start their native lands economies, as have the diasporas in India and China.

Because of this crushing economic burden and the illiteracy of the unwashed masses, Fundamentalism has been on the rise. Where the Governments cannot guarantee certain social services the Islamists step in and provide relief.

This is the case in Egypt where much of the emergency health care and education is provided by the Muslim Brotherhood. In the Occupied Territories it is by Hamas and Hezbollah and in Pakistan by groups that are far less political but no less Islamic.

On top of all this, we have an unbelievable amount of corruption and nepotism that would cripple even a robust society. (As has been proven in Central and South America.)

To quote Haroon once more:
“Feeling abandoned, the Muslim masses find comfort in religion.” “The Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation was a secular struggle before it became Islamic.”
And:
“The same was true of the Lebanese resistance to the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon, and the Afghan and Chechen resistance to Russian repression.

The result of all of this is that Muslims have developed a “siege mentality” toward anything that disturbs their comfort zone. (Religion)

From “The plain Truth about God-101” Islam now enjoys the same sort of power over the masses as Christianity displayed a thousand years ago. Why should the power structure of Islam give up any of their benefits?
It does not matter whether it is Al-Qaida, the Taliban, the clergy running Iran or the militants in Egypt and half a dozen other countries. They all want to turn their little piece of Eden into an Islamic state. Even the despots use religion for their own nefarious ends.
In other words, a state that is run according to their own ideals, beliefs and benefit; and to hell with everyone else! (Literally)


This double whammy of ignorance and religious extremism combined with the Israeli/Palestinian question is what we will look at in Part 4 of “If I ruled the World!”

Your Humble scribe;
Allan W Janssen

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 (what the church doesn't want you to know!) at; www.God-101.com
And the petition to have people mind their own business instead of yours at; http://www.petitiononline.com/moses/petition.html

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A thought I had. Yes! (Yoda)

Just finished watching episode 11 of Star Wars on T.V. when I had a strange thought. (Which you might have guessed by now is not that unusual!)

If you could somehow take someone from exactly one hundred years ago (1906) and plunk them down in a modern movie theatre with all the computer special effects, surround sound etc. etc. By the time they came out at the end of the movie they would probably be quite insane. I mean it would just be WAY too much for the human brain to handle all at once.

We grew up with this stuff and saw it evolve, so even though it might be impressive, it is in the normal sphere of things. But a hundred years ago, when the biggest thing was electricity, the beginning of powered flight and silent films that were unbelievably primitive, the average person off the street would see things which were totally beyond his or her comprehension.

Aftrer all it was Authur C. Clark who said " Any civilization that is sufficiently advanced, would seem like magic to us!"

Technology is steadily accelerating and this brings us to the question; "What will the world of five hundred or a thousand years from now look like?"

(Provided we don't blow ouselves up in the meantime, after all we have almost done that a couple of times already.)

Allan