Monday, December 5, 2016

Parody was never as Weird.

Everyone's an expert.  Everyone has something to say about even mild mannered Tavern Keepers.  If it isn't the 'too many sizes' of the typeface its the many typos. The background is too dark; my opinions are worth even less than those of my customers; the Bouncer is too slow in letting comments in; the very brightest people feel threatened by the sword under the counter, etc  People will take the piss, although if they leave it on the carpet, out they go.

Thankfully I had a visiting critic who put me straight on some matters, even in the restaurant.

His way of putting things in perspective while taking a rise out of everyone in sight were more than a little entertaining and after he'd made a song and dance about the problems some folk have with  blogging and the proper use of the English language he stayed on to give us a few songs and dances about other entertainers.  Yes, we were pulling the pints for Weird Al.

27. Counted.

He even took time to run a checker over the Tavern's computer. That was quite a task as we had to release all the steam pressure and rake out the wood burner.

Then before I could stop him he ran mayhem through the kitchens and the restaurant, dishing out culinary advice to the diners.

At this point we all wanted to join in. The words words and the virus words went by so fast that I had to put the next lot on a song-sheet so that all the customers could join in. Help yourselves. As he says " Have a big dinner, have a light snack, If you don't like it, you can't send it back." Michael Jackson will be rolling in his oven.

How come you're always such a fussy young man
Don't want no Captain Crunch, don't want no Raisin Bran
Well, don't you know that other kids are starving in Japan
So eat it, just eat it

Don't want to argue, I don't want to debate
Don't want to hear about what kind of food you hate
You won't get no dessert 'till you clean off your plate
So eat it

Don't you tell me you're full
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Get yourself an egg and beat it
Have some more chicken, have some more pie
It doesn't matter if it's boiled or fried
Just eat it, eat it, just eat it, eat it
Just eat it, eat it, just eat it, eat it, ooh

Your table manners are some cryin' shame
You're playin' with your food, this ain't some kind of game
Now, if you starve to death, you'll just have yourself to blame
So eat it, just eat it

You better listen, better do what you're told
You haven't even touched your tuna casserole
You better chow down or it's gonna get cold
So eat it

I don't care if you're full
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Open up your mouth and feed it
Have some more yogurt, have some more spam
It doesn't matter if it's fresh or canned
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Don't you make me repeat it
Have a banana, have a whole bunch
It doesn't matter what you had for lunch
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it

Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
If it's gettin' cold, reheat it
Have a big dinner, have a light snack
If you don't like it, you can't send it back
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Get yourself an egg and beat it (oh lord)
Have some more chicken, have some more pie
It doesn't matter if it's boiled or fried
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Don't you make me repeat it (oh no)
Have a banana, have a whole bunch
It doesn't matter what you had for lunch

Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it

His career has shown a marked improvement in 'production values' since his early days and the amount of cooperation he gets from those he parodies is a measure of his talent. 
Many of the cast and production staff gave him more than a glad hand making that. Look closely and you might see someone you recognise.

And no-one is safe.

Personally, as a knackered older chap from a very refined and combative history  I find him hilarious. He likes the 'eating' theme it seems, and Jackson. We cleared a space for him to tell us about 'Got more Chins than Chinatown' ala MJ.

And Lady Gaga didn't escape his mirth either.

OK. That was getting ridiculous, but it was from a while back. 

But I was happy to pay for his help, with a free-flow of pints. A chap that sings so outrageously needs a well lubricated throat.  Did you catch the trademark '27'?  Why 27, do you think? Answers in a comment.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Singing, Not Quite Alone

It is Music day ! Most folk who come to the Tavern know that I am not in the building on Sunday mornings. I go off to  a Church where many friends gather with me for a Traditional Latin Mass. I take a Nun with me. She does her shopping on the way afterward as I drive her back home.

We are blessed in our small TLM community with a fine Chorister.  Tony is a tall, elegant looking chap who has a family of faithful Catholics in tow.   He sings beautifully. The choir he leads are a faithful bunch too, but very few in number, and he tries his best with the talent available.  I do not sing, of course. I can ruin any effort they make. 

But I can imagine his frustration. It is the bane of choir-masters that all too often he has to cajole others to join and then struggle with stragglers at rehersals. If they turn up at all. My thanks to those who join Tony and give our Mass that extra air of sanctity.

He can and does often sing by himself. Complex latin music. So I thought he might like to  see what other good but frustrated choir-masters have started to do.  

Its 'Technology' you see. 

What can be done today with a little skill and organisation is bringing a whole new means for Glorifying the Great Supplier. I am pretty sure He approves.

I came across a chap who also has a problem getting others to sing. His solution was to clone himself and form his own quartet!  Here he is  singing a particularly complex song, the Agnus Dei (Adagio for Strings, Op 11) - Samuel Barber. Matthew Curtis sings all the parts.

Of course, it is nice when you can get others to come along too, but when they are far away, what are you to do?  

Technology can take the problem away (while giving the tuneless techos something to do)

Eric gave a TED talk about how this idea got off the ground.  He had many good points to make even though his own compositions are not quite 'Church' music. Pretty good though. And he went the whole kit and kaboodle with a couple of thousand folk joining in.

 It is a fine way for Nuns to collaborate too. Some Carmelites had set a standard for others to follow.

And with the introductions over, let's see and hear the complete piece.

Today at Mass, Tony and his few faihful voices sang O Come Emanuelle. It was 'OK' but in my mind I was seeing and hearing Jamie. 'Tis a pity she is not a Catholic and at my Church 

Now, I must go and mop the floor of the crypt. That's where most know I am on a sunday afternoon.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Sex, Drugs and Women.

The observation that men and women are attracted to one another 'naturally' is not rocket science. We have grasped this basic fact of life by the time we are five and spend the rest of our lives exploring it.  Sex. For most people it is fun and quite pleasurable, this exploration. Even the 'stand-offish' can gain some vicarious insights while the more 'touchy-feely' ones amongst us tend to be better at gaining personal first-hand data.

I knew of an old Priest who said that he didn't mind young people 'sleeping together'. The problem was, he said that they don't go to sleep ! They are busy getting data.

But what do we make of that data is anyone's business. Much is misinterpreted. Some the stuff of myth. What we can be sure of but generally have little deep biological experience of is the way in which our different bodies and minds actually work differently. For that we have to turn to the 'Scientist'.  And we are mostly all well aware that 'scientists' these days often have an agenda. 

Its the 'natural' part with which scientists (or their employers) are most likely to interfere, in order to make a buck. They have a long history of buggering up bodily functions with drugs. 

And mental functions. And emotional functions. 

Indeed, since the '60's we have created a 'perfect storm' combining interference with all three.

And the drug the storm came up with goes by the everyday name of
 'The Pill'.

It was designed to fulfill a 'gender-political' agenda. As it was put, back then, it was to allow women to do what men have always been able to do. That is, have sexual congress without getting pregnant.

Freedom !!

That was not all, of course. The Feminists wanted to do as 'men do' and have indiscriminate sex with whomever they wanted to, whenever they wanted to.

As if men had ever had that licence. 

Freedom it never had been.  The social constraints upon men having sex were strong and very often violent. 

But, back to nature and what the drug, the Pill, actually does.  In short it alters the woman's body functions. 

And her mental and emotional functions too. 

That has a knock-on effect while disabling the knock-up one. 

It makes her behave differently at the deepest levels. It affects her ability to even choose a compatible mate. It makes his response to her un-natural too. 

Our society is suffering from the aftershock. I am sure you can join a few dots yourselves.

But one big dot has recently surfaced from under its blanket of obfuscation, and Lara Prendergast came by to tell anyone who cares to listen.  She had a lot to say and I had to put my oar in a bit to clarify where she spoke a bit fast.
The Pill has been linked to depression. 
Why isn’t this more of a scandal?

Because it is a sin to suggest that oral contraceptives may not be the greatest gift ever given to womankind.
A study came out last week that should have caused great alarm. For 13 years, researchers at the University of Copenhagen studied more than a million women between the ages of 15 and 34 who were taking a type of drug — one that is popular in all developed countries. Taking this drug, the researchers found, correlated with an increase in the risk of depression. The correlation was particularly strong in adolescent girls, who showed an 80 per cent higher chance of being diagnosed with depression.

Er.... now, that study.... here it is.
 Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression
JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(11):1154-1162. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2387

OK, we go on.
Usually when a story about women’s health and depression breaks, a phalanx of activists and campaigners pop up all over the media to ‘raise awareness’ of the issue. Last week, however, barely a peep — the papers carried the story and a few online sites ran delicately objective surveys of women on the pill, but there were few howls of outrage.

Why the muted response? The answer is that the type of drug in question was hormonal contraception, and it is today a sin just to suggest that it may not be the greatest gift ever given to womankind. Almost everybody agrees that female contraceptives — pills, implants, patches or intrauterine devices — have liberated us; set us free to be sexually active human beings. Few dare raise concerns about that, because to do so is to risk being called a prude, and nobody wants that.
Me again. It is a Ubiquitous drug, 'pushed' by the very worst drug pushers in the 'reproductive health' business.  They are quite happy to lie about it.
Birth Control Pills at a Glance

Take a pill each day to prevent pregnancy

Safe, effective, and convenient

Easy to get with a prescription

Cost about $0–$50 each month

I wonder how much of Planned Parenthood's income comes from drug sales and kickbacks. Just wondering. 

There are plenty of questions to be asked, though. Not least because 3.5 million British women are on the combined contraceptive pill — known as the ‘Pill’ — and the study showed that those who take it were 23 per cent more likely to be on antidepressants — possibly taking pills to cope with the Pill.

Many of my friends are on the Pill. We started taking it towards the end of our teenage years, prescribed by the NHS, and lots of us have continued to use it for the past decade. It has certainly done its job; we are now reaching the final years of our twenties, and not one of us has had a baby. I suppose that’s progress, of a sort. 
We’ve spent a large chunk of the most fertile period in our life taking state funded contraception. Only time will tell how fondly we look back on that fact.
And what does the average woman 'know' about the Pill? One imagines (woman and men would imagine) that most women know all there is to know. But that isn't the case, it seems.......
What do women know about the Pill?
When women first visit a doctor to obtain the Pill they are generally provided with information on how the medication is taken, risks/side effects and what to do if a pill is missed or its absorption is affected by diarrhoea or vomiting.

The actual mechanisms by which the Pill works to prevent pregnancy, however, are not always adequately covered by the doctor or, alternatively, understood by women. 
A study of 2,700 Pill users in Scotland, for example, revealed that almost one third of the respondents (incorrectly) believed the Pill worked by killing all spermatozoa . Similarly, a study of university women found the measures taken following a missed pill placed them at risk of unplanned pregnancy. 
If women do not understand how the Pill works, the rules about its use have little meaning and, therefore, are more likely to be overlooked or ignored.
But I interrupt. Back to Lara..... 
The advent of the Pill, which first came to Britain in the 1960s, is not just regarded as a medical breakthrough. The Pill is the great turning point of the sexual revolution; a Great Leap Forward for equality. It enabled women to take control of their bodies, whatever that means.

Children are now taught about reproduction from a very young age, and sex education is compulsory from the age of 11. Around the age of 16 — the legal age of consent — school nurses start circling, terrified that their sexually aware charges will get knocked up. Doctors’ appointments are booked, prescriptions are issued, and before long teenage girls are popping a little pill every morning as they brush their teeth.

To start with, girls were often put on a cheap one, such as Microgynon. If you reacted badly, you were given the chance to try a more expensive version. There seemed to be little method behind each prescription. It was trial and error, trial and error, until you found a pill that didn’t make you cry for days or turn you into a porker.
Most young women are familiar with the arguments for taking the Pill; we were taught them early on. It prevents unwanted pregnancies and abortions. It can reduce some types of cancer — though it increases the risk of others. But the overriding benefit is that the Pill makes us equal: it lets a woman approach sex as a man does — without the fear of pregnancy.

The substantial negative side effects tend to be ignored or brushed aside. 
Research such as the Copenhagen study should be noteworthy, but it will probably end up as a part of a warning in the small print. Nobody wants to stop women protecting themselves, or make them fearful of sex — even if it makes them miserable.

The big pharmaceutical companies now manufacture a number of ‘third generation’ pills that promise to reduce the unappealing side effects. Around a million women in Britain are on these new pills, which promise to be good for skin and help to stabilise weight. But in 2014, all British GPs were told to warn anyone taking the third generation pills that they were at risk of developing potentially fatal blood clots. A study had revealed that the annual risk of a woman of childbearing age having a serious blood clot was one in 5,000 if she wasn’t on the Pill. The risk went up to one in 800 for women on third generation pills. But these pills are still very popular, despite a number of women having had strokes while taking them.

When I was younger, sex education classes made you feel that you should be on the Pill, 
rather than relying on more unfashionable, natural methods of contraception, such as the rhythm method. It was what intelligent, responsible women did. 
Ten years on, I’ve begun to wonder whether the real rationale was more pernicious. After all, it’s far cheaper for the state to give out contraceptive pills than support mothers and children. No wonder birth rates are dropping dramatically across Europe. And so what if the Pill causes depression, cancer and blood clots? Maybe that’s just a risk worth taking in exchange for sexual emancipation and fewer unwanted babies.
It may be a worthwhile trade off. What’s disturbing, however, is how readily feminists fall into line when it comes to the Pill. Dissent is frowned upon. In 2013, Holly Grigg Spall published a book called Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control. It was met with much disdain, particularly in the US, where 11 million women use the Pill. 
Her book was called ‘a dishonest anti Pill treatise’ because she dared to point out that hormonal contraceptives are ranked by the World Health Organisation as a class one carcinogen alongside tobacco and asbestos.

Grigg Spall was dismissed as a ‘crank’ elsewhere because she tried to argue that ‘true liberation means being left alone to experience feminine bodily functions like ovulation, childbirth and breast feeding in all their natural glory’. 

One critic declared loftily that trials had not found ‘modern birth control pills to cause more depression, headaches, or weight gain than a placebo’.

Well, now a trial has shown a strong link between depression and hormonal birth control — and the normally loud feminist lobby is silent. It’s not surprising that hormonal contraception is linked to depression.
Hormones affect moods — and here we are, in an era where millions of women dose themselves up daily with powerful synthetic hormones in order to not get pregnant. We are sexually liberated, but emotionally depressed; free, but not all that happy. It’s reasonable to ask: is the Pill worth the pain?
Now, of course, the 'scientists' are trying to make a 'Pill' for men ! 

Come along folks.

Don't be depressed.

Take heart and listen to your doctor who listens to Roger and his pretty assistant.

It isn't as though there is not enough about our society that can cause depression. We have young woman - and young men - with no 'balls' or sense, demanding safe spaces and being offended by flies. The mental state of our society is breaking down. Emotional illiterates who cannot tell disappointment from entitlement abound. 

And why?

Perhaps the interference with the natural states of body, mind and emotion have something to do with it. Perhaps deliberate interference with those functions in order to 'prevent babies' and for women to have what they think men have, has something to do with it.

The Pill disrupts the woman's basic hormonal cycles. She is an 'Un-Natural' woman. She has particular and vital sensitivities stolen from her.

We were made, man for woman and woman for man, and both for God's plan, not some gender-bending and natural gender breaking scientist. Or politician.

We drank a round or three for Lara.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Taking Offence

Remember pet rocks? It was a fad some years ago. There were people who (usually) bought rocks with leads attached and took them for walks.  Some even came with 'nests'. They were dense of course; the people as well as the rocks. Well that fad died out  as fads do but the same sort of people - the dense ones - went on to other fads, such as 'being offended'. 
Some people could not cough up the money for a rock and used potatoes instead. That 'caused offence' to the rock people. It has become the epidemic du jour (just like using french words when perfectly serviceable English ones could be used - but for the French using those) with people being offended at the mention of certain words - which change and multiply by the day. Almost anything will do to be offended by.  

I am pretty sure you could not get away with taking a pet rock of this colour or that for a walk these days without some dork having conniptions and demanding a 'safe space'; or condemning you for having a 'black' rock or even a multicoloured one. Or a spud.

You would have to be stopped.

People are offended by words:  the 'Redskins' football team for example had to change the name because 'some people' were offended. Or so they said they were. 
In reality, taking offence has become weaponised. 

They blame YOU.

Thay want YOU to suffer because they have taken offence.

Jeff Jacoby tried to explain what to do. I have to admit that while I fully understood, even practiced what he preached, I still find it difficult not to occasionally whack some annoying offence-taker around the arse with the flat of my sword. I would, of course, explain to them as I did so that 'Arse' is a fine English word with a sound provenance in poetry.

But.... to Jeff. He told us:
OF THE PRAYERS that observant Jews recite each day, the one I appreciate most is offered before going to bed. Here is how it begins:

"Master of the universe, I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me or sinned against me — whether physically or financially or through disrespect, or in any other matter affecting me; whether involuntarily or willfully, carelessly or deliberately; whether by word or by deed. I forgive every person: let no one incur punishment because of me."
Yes, I get it. 'Tis best to go to bed and rest easy rather than stew in one's own distress. Perhaps he could tell the offence-takers that. Nevertheless I still harbour a small, nagging desire to see them stew and in a lot more than just distress. But, at least he hasn't completely won the day in himself yet.

But he had more to say, and topical too, so let's hear him out. 
Less Frank Costanza, more Mike Pence

One of the rules I try to live by is not to take offense when no offense is intended. A corollary to that rule is to presume, whenever possible, that no offense was intended. 
This is not, I admit, a discipline I've mastered perfectly.
But it's not as hard as you might think. Make a daily point of affirming that you harbor no ill will, and you tend not to smolder with resentment and unresolved umbrage. At a time when Americans by the millions seem to go out of their way to keep themselves in a state of high dudgeon, choosing not to be offended can be wonderfully refreshing.

Not taking offense isn't the same as not having pet peeves. (I've got a bunch of those.) Nor does it mean never condemning shameful, foolish, or destructive behavior.  It does mean recognizing that being offended is always a choice, and that other people's words and views can bend you out of shape only if you choose to let them have that effect.
And if we are a bit bent out of shape, get peeved or give in to our 'Fight of Flight' urges - particularly the Fight one - we should take note.....
This isn't a column about politics, but during last week's "Hamilton" kerfuffle, Vice President-elect Mike Pence provided a pitch-perfect demonstration of how not to take offense. 
Rather than bristle and fume when he was booed by audience members and pointedly addressed by the cast during the curtain call, Pence took it all with gracious equanimity. "I wasn't offended," he said afterward. He praised the "great, great show" and the "incredibly talented" cast, and made clear that actor Brandon Dixon's impassioned statement from the stage didn't trouble him or require any apology.

"I nudged my kids," Pence told Fox News, "and reminded them, 'That's what freedom sounds like.'"

And that, in turn, is what a mature emotional perspective sounds like. It would be nice to encounter more of it in our national discourse.
Unfortunately, picking at scabs has become a national pastime. Americans have lost their ability to shrug off other people's obnoxious comments or insensitive gestures or politically incorrect views. 
Instead of rolling their eyes and letting it pass, they proclaim: "I'm offended." 
They demand apologies. They insist on "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces." 
They howl about "microaggressions" and whinge about "mansplaining" and compile lists of banned words. When they get offended, they expect heads to roll or companies to be blackballed. They even take offense on behalf of people who don't take offense.

Remember Frank Costanza? He was the character on "Seinfeld" who invented Festivus, an idiosyncratic family holiday commemorated with a dinner, an aluminum pole, feats of strength, and — the high point — an Airing of Grievances. "I got a lot of problems with you people!" bellows Costanza to those at his Festivus table. "And now you're gonna hear about it!"

It was funny as a sitcom shtick. As a national pastime, perpetual outrage is exhausting and debilitating. America could do with a little less Frank Costanza and a little more Mike Pence.
Waxing wroth when we're offended may feel temporarily satisfying, but the weight of all those chips on our shoulders does long-term damage. 
"In my work treating alcoholics," writes Abraham Twerski, a psychiatrist and founder of the renowned Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, there is "great emphasis on divesting oneself of resentments," since "resentments are probably the single greatest factor responsible for relapse." Twerski quotes one recovering alcoholic's insight: "Carrying resentments is like letting someone who you don't like live inside your head rent-free." No lasting benefit comes from that, but all kinds of misery do.

In a society that often seems to thrive on taking offense — just turn on talk radio, or read an online comments section, or follow Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren on Twitter — 
it can't be overemphasized that nursing a grievance is always optional. 
You may not be able to control other people's opinions, ignorance, bad jokes, or political loyalties. But you alone determine how you react to them.

Everyone knows the biblical injunction to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Less well known is the first half of the verse: "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge." 
That's excellent counsel, for believers and nonbelievers alike.
It is not as though there are no good models for adult behaviour. We have politicians like Mr Pence that we might look to with hope. Not that he is the usual sort though.

Here in Oz we have politicians that really do beong in safe spaces. We really do need to construct some, well away from normal people, just to keep these loony flowers in.  An example?

Prof. JJ, explained a little about a recent election in Oz.
NSW has a Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, the name of which is self-explanatory.  They mainly want an easing of gun laws but you can see similarities with Trump and other recent uprisings against political correctness.  They have previously got seats in the NSW Upper House only -- with the help of proportional representation.  Now that they have taken a lower house seat it is therefore quite an upset
An upset for some in particular.
Another Trump/Brexit/Hanson event and the Australian Greens have a fit
The NSW MPs of the Australian Greens have chucked one of the most childish and immature tantrums ever seen in any Australian Parliament, after Orange elected Mr Phillip Donato from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFFP).
The three Greens MPs including Tamara Smith, Jenny Leong and Jamie Parker have announced they do not want to sit with the newly elected MP from the SFFP.  Resorting to behaviour better suited to your local primary school, they have asked that Mr Donato be seated with the Labor MPs.
Ms Leong who has clearly been triggered by this event has spoken out and declared that Mr Donato should sit “with his Labor mates,” a swipe at Labor for preferencing the SFFP over the Greens in the by-election. It is clear to see that the Greens are deeply and emotionally scarred by the tragic preferencing deal.
The people have spoken and it is time for the greens to take a big spoonful of cement and harden up.  Our parliaments are not places for the weak hearted.
Perhaps they need some toughening-up lessons, lest others start to dish it out too.

We don'y hold grudges because that only upsets our digestion. People take offence at us and what we say and do, regardless of what we say and do. It does not matter what we say and do.

They will take offence.

Like in Canada, for instance, where you cannot even have a party where everyone is supposed to get pissed and fall over, without someone getting mightily offended, eh?  Gary Mason alerted us.

Queen’s controversy:

Sometimes a monk costume is just a monk costume
"Cultural appropriation" in Canada
A group of students at Queen’s University is the target of vitriolic attacks for attending an off-campus costume party at which the theme was “Countries of the World.” Among other things, the mostly white participants dressed up as Buddhist monks, Middle Eastern sheiks, Viet Cong fighters and Rastafarians.

Toronto comedian Celeste Yim came across pictures from the event and was immediately incensed, branding the behaviour of the students “shockingly racist” “offensive” and “tasteless.” Things went crazy from there. Predictably, the Queen’s administration quickly condemned the party, and said it was investigating.
To which I ask: Investigating what?
When did going to a costume party become a racist activity?  

I’ve attended many in my life, certainly lots in my twenties, where people of varied ethnic backgrounds (and sometimes not) dressed up in all sorts of crazy ways, depicting people of all racial makeups. A friend who is black once donned Lederhosen for an Oktoberfest bash. Today that would be cultural theft, I suppose.
Should I have felt wronged when a neighbour of Chinese descent showed up for a Halloween party dressed as a “Canadian hoser,” replete with red plaid over-shirt, tuque, and a couple of missing front teeth? I doubt there was a soul in the house thinking, “Way to perpetuate a negative stereotype.”
I understand that lines can be crossed; jokes, sometimes in the form of costumes, fall flat or are just plain offensive. At the same time, I think we need to be extremely careful about making a distinct connection between what we witnessed at Queen’s and overt racism.
The exhortation... 'Father, forgive them: they know not what they do', extends a lot further than that specific moment. Most people can, at times, be as thick as two short planks. Many are young. That in itself, along with its attendant sheer ignorance of anything of note, is cause enough to forgive them, or at least overlook their stupidity. 

Be kind and carry a sword.

As General Mattis is said to have said: "Be polite. Be Professional. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet." Or to 'forgive those who trespass against us'.

And drink up.

And eat your greens.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Summer is upon us here. And we can expect Bushfires. 

It is nearly 50 years since the huge devastation of the '67 fires that took so many lives and wiped out so many homes. 

Every year we have huge fires. 

Every year we struggle, watch homes go, send men and machines into forest and farm.

Last year we lost a huge tract of the State: wilderness, where firefighters could not get to because it is locked away with no access roads. Entire species were lost. Forever.

Why? Greenies.

The year before an entire town went and the Tasman Penninsula was cut off for weeks.

And we still do not have even ONE fire-fighting plane.

Not one.

Just one of those could serve the entire State.

Or one or two of these.

Something agile to help MEN

Something that can uplift a lot of water fast and get it to the right spot quickly. And douse the fires.

But we do not have even one.

Hundreds of Millions of dollars will go up in smoke and flame again this summer.

Keep a wet towel handy because there will be no fire-fighting planes to save you.


The Scourging of the Church

Where are the Knights who would  ride to save Christendom?  They were two a penny back in my day. Every lad wanted some shiney armour and a sword. Heck they made them from wood and bits of cloth and played in the fields. The 'Good vs Evil' game was played long before cops and robbers. 

Most little lads never became Knights of course. Second sons had a better 'push' than first sons, and the farm boys rarely made it to high rank. Many from high family and low went to the Monastic life, or trade or profession, farming, fishing etc: only a few fought for Good; there were even those who went to the dark side. . But we needed those 'Good warrior' sorts. We still do.

Because the idea, the practice, the life-changing positivity of Christ's Church was, is and for a while yet will always be countered by dark forces. It would be no exaggeration to say that Christianity has always been put to the test - and the whip - by both secular and supernatural forces.  And often those corrosions operated right within the Church.

The recent American elections shone light onto some dark corners of the battlefield. There the corruptions  apparent when the Church does the State's bidding or where in Thrall to State operators, were made clear to any with eyes to see and a mind acute enough to understand. 

And America is not alone, or even ahead. It used to be said that where America goes, Oz follows. That is barely the case anymore what with the speed of communication and the ubiquity of socialism's mendacities and downright lies. And not just socialism - itself a mean, skanky, deceptive  shadow of proper Christian cooperation and help to one's neighbour : feminism, atheism, 'humanism', communism, Islamism and the plethora of isms that water-down 'truth', demean and diminish life, abound.

We had two fine folk in the Tavern yesterday, shine more light. My good friend Mishka Gora for one.  And a double-act of  Jason & John. Mishka was lamenting the Oz situation and asking hard questions. Jason and John gave some hard and frankly depressing answers from the other side of the Pacific.   

They all needed good Ale to lubricate their throats.
A Crying Shame
“How did we get into this mess?” 
That is the question that has plagued and paralysed me these past few months. 

You see, my archbishop is currently embroiled in a legal and political controversy. He’s got better things to do – he knows he is responsible for the souls of so many and he shepherds his flock accordingly – but the laws of the state have made it illegal for one person to offend another. 
Predictably enough, someone has felt offended by the Church’s teaching on marriage. 
Whooda thunk, eh? 
In effect, the jobs of the archbishop and all his priests have become illegal.
In the midst of this turmoil, I came across a photograph of a priest and a little girl at her First Communion. I was just after a suitable picture for my own daughter’s upcoming First Communion, but my focus was drawn to the priest each time I looked at it, and I recognised it was exactly what I had been looking for, a picture that emphasised the priest acting in persona Christi rather than the pretty white dresses of most First Communion snapshots. But the historian part of me wanted to know more.
It turns out the priest in the picture was Blessed Andrés Solá y Molist, a Catalonian-born Claretian priest martyred in Mexico on the 25th of April 1927 at the age of thirty-two.
He was executed by the state, merely for being faithful to the Church and continuing to do his job. His so-called crimes were to hear confessions, conduct marriages, baptise children, and administer Communion. 
And once again the question popped up: “How did they get into such a mess?” How did a Catholic country get to the point where priests were shot for doing their job?
Now, Mexican history is not my area, and I have no intention of delving into it in any depth, but even a cursory glance at 'what happened' reveals that it was all legal. 
The Mexican Constitution of 1917 forced secular education of Mexican children. It didn’t allow Church officials to vote or comment on public affairs. Public worship was only permitted within Church buildings by government-registered priests (who were often forced to ‘marry’), and institutional buildings such as schools and hospitals were handed over to the state. Monasticism was prohibited. These anticlerical articles were not amended until 1991.
It’s eerily familiar, but it is not at all like the persecution of Christians we’re seeing in the Middle East. There, the pattern is ‘the Saturday people, then the Sunday people’. 
First, they came for the Jews, and now they are killing and expelling the Christians. 
The warnings are clear. Things in Australia hardly bear comparison, and yet there are hints of persecution more along the lines of the Mexican Revolution… ‘in the wind’. 
We have state-sanctioned indoctrination of our children into transgender experimentation (masquerading as an anti-bullying campaign). A retired brigadier has been arrested for praying the Rosary outside an abortion clinic. My archbishop has been taken to a tribunal for commenting on marriage (within a Catholic school). 
All this has been legal. 
Indeed, all of these developments were enabled recently by either the election of legislators – practising Catholics among them, alas – and/or the passage of legislation.
Obviously, laws matter. The buck stops with the legislators. They make the laws, and they are the ones who can undo the laws. But why don’t these restrictive laws stop at merely containing the Church within certain bounds? What is so threatening about the job priests do?
The answer to this can also been seen in the photo I mentioned – 
Solist’s ‘crime’ was to act in persona Christi. 
It is through the Eucharist that we have Communion with God – we receive Him physically as well as spiritually. It is a foretaste of Heaven. In my daughter’s catechism, there is a picture of a ladder leading to Heaven and on each of the rungs the names of the Sacraments are inscribed. 
If the state has the power to take away our priests, they can pull out that ladder from underneath us. 
And this is why the story of one hundred children receiving Communion for the first time in Alqosh, an Iraqi town near the ISIS front line gives us such hope. The last Jew was expelled in 1948, but Christians still guard the synagogue and its tomb of the prophet Nahum. These children and their parents have not given up the good fight.
So where does all this leave us, Western Catholics who face a different sort of threat? No doubt there are a multitude of ways in which we will be called to defend the Church, but what can each and every one of us do?
I registered an answer to that question as I listened to my archbishop on the radio. He had answered the host’s questions with clarity, insight, and humility, but the host ended the conversation with an attempt to undermine everything he had said by bringing up the topic of sex abuse. 
And I realised that the attacks on our Church rely so much on us being too ashamed to defend ourselves, too ashamed to defend our priests who are the lynchpin of our future as Catholics. 
Daily we pray to Jesus “lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy”, but do we extend our own mercy to those who need it most?
There is a direct correlation between the clergy and the faithful. If we are so faithless as to be ashamed of being Catholic, there will be fewer and fewer babies to baptise, fewer and fewer children making their First Communion, and fewer and fewer boys called to the priesthood. 
Not just decorative

We need to ‘come out’ rather than avoid telling people we are Catholic. We need to wear crucifixes; display them in our homes, schools, and hospitals; and never be ashamed of “Christ crucified”. 
We cannot fulfil Our Lord’s great commission while acting ashamed. 
To quote His Holiness, Pope Francis: “The Church is holy because it proceeds from God who is holy. It is not holy by our merits; we are not able to make her holy. It is God, the Holy Spirit, who in his Love makes the Church holy.” 
And that is something of which we must not ever be ashamed.
Mishka goes right down to the farm-boy and girl in us. We may not be powerful, or in the news, nor do we exercise Legislative Power, but we can show the world that we are Christians.          


For example (I would not have you do what I would not), you will rarely see me around the Tavern or the Town without my Rosary clearly visible. Not ostentatiously, but 'there'. 

But we do have some matters to be ashamed of. 

Perhaps not so much of what we, individually, have done (commission) but of what we have not done (omission). We have not spoken out to and at the leadership. Just as we all too often do not turn out to vote in civil elections, so to do we act in a lacsidaisical manner with our Bishops and priests. We  allow tham to let the Church fall into disarray and do not stand with the sound and fearless ones when the firing sqauds are formed up.

Jason Jones and John Zmirak helped us look at the 'political' situation in America.

Bishops and politicians: God or Mammon; you cannot have both. 

The taxpayer is taken for a ride so that bishops have 'influence', but strings are attached. If bishops are to command votes, they need to be damned careful lest they be damned. And they need to be clear.
Catholic America
Could the Democrats’ Anti- Catholicism Teach Bishops to Stop Feeding the Crocodile?
The recent batch of emails released by Wikileaks reveals that leaders in the Democratic Party, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, are engaged in a high-level conspiracy to 
infiltrate and corrupt the Catholic church. 
These high-level Democrats speak of the church as if it were a murderous Arab dictatorship (like Gaddafi’s) which must be overthrown in a “Catholic spring.”  
They hope to help that project along by crafting hand-puppet organizations of pro-choice, anti-marriage activists with Irish or Italian last names, whose leaders claim (as Tim Kaine claims) to be Catholic. 
Those groups act in the media to counter and discredit the moral teachings of actual, faithful Catholics, including our shepherds, the bishops.
Back in the 1930s and 40s, the Democratic Party in America used to act like the Catholic bishops’ friendly pet iguana — and the Church was able to do enormous good in the public square, rebuking evil elitists such as Margaret Sanger, defusing sympathy for Communism among Catholic union members, and inserting family-friendly policies into Roosevelt’s New Deal. (Back in this time, the Catholic bishops could also cripple a Hollywood movie they deemed to be immoral by issuing a boycott via the nationwide Legion of Decency.)
Catholic bishops’ influence has nearly vanished in recent decades, and the Democratic Party has grown up to be something quite different: 
an abortion-hungry secular crocodile that wants to devour Americans’ liberty — including our First Amendment rights. 
But Catholic bishops have never been willing to face this ugly fact. 
They’re still hazily dreaming about the decades when they walked the corridors of power, chit-chatting with President Kennedy or Mayor Daley. They imagine that handing the lizard one tasty snack after another will make the Democratic Party once more the friendly pet they remember.
Instead, they need to heed Churchill, who said: 
“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
Hillary’s campaign chairman hopes to usurp the authority of Catholic bishops, who are obliged under pain of hellfire to repeat the Church’s 2,000-year teaching on such fundamental doctrines as the sanctity of life and of the family. 
Earlier this year, we learned that billionaire leftist (and Democrat party donor) George Soros tried to hijack Pope Francis’ visit, and turn it into a campaign tour for pro-choice Democrats.
Combine this revelation with:
the fact that Hillary Clinton told the United Nations that Christian churches must be forced to change their beliefs about abortion, in the name of women’s “fundamental rights” guaranteed by international law.
the fact that President Obama’s solicitor general implied that church institutions that won’t recognize same-sex marriage are equivalent to white supremacists, and could have their their tax exemptions revoked.
the fact that California Democrats tried hard to close every faithful Christian college in that state by revoking routine federal funding.
This adds up to just one thing: The Democratic Party wants to persecute the Catholic church, and every other Christian church that has stayed faithful to core biblical principles.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
We were glad to see Archbishop Charles Chaput respond with outrage to the latest Democratic attack on Catholics’ religious liberty. But we have to ask Chaput and other American bishops — 
what took you so long? 
Why have you appeased the Democratic party for so many decades by fudging Catholic social teaching, distorting its core principles to skew to the political left, making it appear to any uninformed observer that the Democratic party is in line with Catholic teaching on every major political and economic issue — except for that party’s curious blind spots on abortion and sexual politics?
But it gets worse. I have seen this all too often. Some Catholics confuse socialism with Christianity: Marx with Christ. They see 'community' where communism and the boot exist. They ignore Christian fellowship and 'Love they Neighbour', unless it comes with a State (Taxpayer) hand-out and the inevitable strings.
Catholic bishops have given the false impression that the Democratic Party is “more Catholic” than its conservative opponents on a long list of issues:
Immigration, where the GOP platform is much closer to the Catechism of the Catholic church than the Democrats’ call for virtually open borders and generous welfare for illegal foreign residents. But bishops have pretended that the Church somewhere (not in the Catechism, certainly) demands virtually unlimited immigration.
Gun rights, where bishops have repeatedly claimed that advocacy of Americans’ fundamental right to self-defense is somehow a violation of the “seamless garment” of Catholic concern for innocent life.
They forget 'sell your coat and buy a sword'. 
Health care, where Catholic leaders such as New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan implied that the church demands something close to socialized medicine, and backed Obamacare — then were shocked, shocked to discover that when a secular government gains control over 1/6 of the U.S. economy, it will impose its own secular values — including abortion and contraceptive coverage.
Economics, where Catholic bishops routinely back the extreme demands for raises in the minimum wage, pretending that Pope Leo XIII’s call to deal justly with starving factory workers in 1880 requires that every employee in America, at every age and level of expertise, receive a so-called “living wage” that can support an entire family.
In two books, The Race to Save Our Century and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism, each of us has gone carefully through the actual texts of binding Catholic social teaching, and refuted these politicized claims. 
Instead, we presented the core (Whole Life) principles of historic Christian teaching on politics and economics, and applied them carefully to contemporary conditions. 
We invite all Christians to read them, and see which party’s platform is more Catholic, more Christian. 
As conservative Catholics — also demeaned in Clinton campaign emails — have argued over decades, it is no accident that the same Democratic Party that supports abortion and sexual license also backs big government and secularism. 
The lockstep support of every important Democrat in the U.S. for abortion on demand in fact flows from the same core premises that yield every other plank in the Democratic platform:.......................
Human life is not dignified, not sacred, not informed by the order of divine creation which we can know by the same natural law that tells us of our political rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
No, life is cheap, and short, and kind of sad, so it’s our job to make people as comfortable as we can. To yield the greatest number of pleasurable moments for the greatest number of voters, we need a big state that protects us from ourselves, guarantees our sexual “freedom,” and doesn’t rely on discredited virtues such as thrift, diligence, self-control or prudence. 
A party that believes that, and forms all its social and economic policies accordingly, will never let bishops graft onto it extraneous claims that unborn life is somehow sacred, and religious liberty more important than sexual liberation. 
The left knows better — as John Podesta and company have made painfully clear. The progressive left cannot be appeased with support for open borders, big government, even actual socialism. 
You will have to surrender marriage. 
You will have to back abortion and like it.   
You will have to worship the emperor.
 We are in dire need of Muscular Priests. Warrior Bishops. Lay people willing to stand and 'Hold the Line'. 

We, and I include all people of good will and unsullied hearts, need to arm-up, practice their Holy Warcraft skills, and take back the City.

Here we had three in the Tavern showing us the way.

Drinks for each.