Friday, January 20, 2017


The mind boggles more frequently by the day. In a few hours 'The Donald' will receive the official acclaim of the American People and be inaugurated at their #Nth/st President and Commander in Chief of their mighty military. Unofficially the people are divided, which is the legacy of the #Nth/st minus one. And the boggling? That is due to the masses of thick, sick and lazy Democrats who so strongly object to their democratically elected President. 

Many don't want him because he once mentioned doing something rather rude and adolescent to the private parts of ladies. He proposed 'grabbing'. Just what he would do then, he didn't say, but using a knife on them did not feature. Don't ask Bill Clinton what he would do.

Meanwhile the aformentioned outgoing, past President for eight, long, disastrous years was raised as a Muslim who do do nasty things with knives to ladies private parts, and he advocated for more and more Moslems to be brought into America.  He pressed for the Moslem causes more than any westerner in history.  Those Moslem causes included killing homosexuals, stoning women to death, old men 'marrying' pre-pubescent girls, and women mutilating the sexual parts of little girls. The Democrats and general mobs of lefty ratbags said nothing. The feminists said nothing.

Here in Oz we face the same blind leftism regarding Islam, even spreading into the more-expected conservative politicians. They say little or nothing either.

My friend Lori was in just the other day and she said, " The Royal women's hospital in Melbourne opened a special clinic dedicated to treating Female Genital Mutilation in 2012. They treat approx 600 to 700 per year!!!!! How evil is this that such barbaric cruelty is occurring in our state of Victoria in Australia."

Even I was taken aback at that. I had not known it. Perhaps it has been in the newspapers of on TV and I missed it. 

I did however listen to Caroline Overington who came by. I pulled a pint and shook my sad old head as she spoke about the very subject. Almost.

March on, but remember girls mutilated at home
Now, I’m a feminist, obviously. I believe in equal rights for women: to work, to vote, to drive, to travel. But the Women’s Marches around the nation this weekend has me worried.
It has me sad that clever, articulate, successful women today can be such dullards as to even admit to being a feminist. To me it is like claiming being a kiddy-fiddler  and being proud enough of the depravity to put it in a newspaper column.
The Women’s Marches have been organised so Australian women can “show solidarity” with American women as Donald Trump becomes president.
Why should Australians show any solidarity at all? Did she seek solidarity for the President of Uganda when he took power? Or the Chinese chap?  What is it to do with her? 
The organisers hate him, obviously. 
He’s the pussy-grabber. 
The misogynist-in-chief. 
The group behind the Women’s March has a Facebook page that promotes Meryl Streep’s speech at the Oscars,; and the hashtag LoveTrumpsHate. And that’s fine.
Hate is fine, eh, Caroline?  None of this 'love everyone' stuff for her.
Trump was democratically elected but nobody has to like him, and protests against government are an important part of democracy too. So, march away.
But where, I wonder, is the thousand-strong march, the loud protests, the hashtags and the Twitter campaign for women and girls suffering the vilest forms of misogyny right here at home?
A good question, and I am glad she asked it. I only wish it was a rhetorical question and she provide the obvious answer. But her 'feminism' precludes that. 
Last week the Australian pediatric surveillance unit at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in western Sydney released a report on female genital mutilation in this country. It found 59 brutalised girls. But here’s the line you don’t want to miss: the study’s author, Elizabeth Elliott, said “most of the procedures on the girls were performed overseas”.
Rather a low count considering what Lori told us. Has someone been releasing manipulated statistics? The authorities in Oz are masters of that dark art.
The key word in that sentence is “ most”. Most of girls had been cut overseas. But some were Australian-born. Meaning they had definitely been cut here. It’s very likely that some of the others had been cut here, too, after they arrived. Of the 59 — according to the report, that’s a gross underestimation of the actual numbers — only 13 were referred to child protection services. 
Why only 13?
These were girls whose parents — usually their mothers — had taken them to have them cut.
Ahhha, a slight nod toward the answer. It is women mutilating girls so we must tread very carefully lest we be accused to stopping woman doing whatever they want. 
What will happen to them next? Will they be shoved into an arranged marriage with a much older man to whom they already may be related? Because that, too, is happening.

Last October, a young Iraqi girl, Bee al-Darraj, told The Australian that she knew several girls from her former Islamic school who had been sent to Iraq to be married, while still underage. Nothing was done. 
She knew one girl who gave birth while underage in a public hospital in Sydney with her 28-year-old husband standing by. Nothing was done. 
She knew girls in Year 9 who were married and had 30-year-old husbands picking them up from school. Nothing was done. 
(To be clear, there’s no suggestion the school knew, for to know and not report would be a gross breach of mandatory reporting obligations. What we’re talking about here is child rape.)
No. There is no suggestion - a phrase no doubt pressed upon her by a lawyer somewhere. To expect a school, staffed predominantly and often wholly by women to adversly report a matter that would call a woman into question is almost entirely unexpected.  And who in the school would? The duty teachers who are 'in a relationship with' a schoolboy or girl, or was 'having an affair' with one of her underage charges? 
Last week, we had a prominent cleric, imam Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, charged with conducting a child marriage between a girl under the age of 16, and a man aged 30.
This is real, and it is happening here, and it is right now. Dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of girls are suffering vile abuse, but it’s like screaming in an abyss. Where is the march? Where is the hashtag?
Indeed. Where? 
Genital cutting is not as fancy a topic as Hollywood pay for women, obviously, but it’s a creeping tragedy that threatens the freedom of all Australian women. A freedom our grandfathers and great-uncles died for. A freedom the feisty Australian suffragettes of yesteryear, with their dry wit and their long skirts and their button-up boots, once marched for.
Oy Vey, Caroline. Australian women had the vote without marching a step. It was given to them in Perth first to counter the large number of men in Kalgoorlie who threatened to vote against Federation. It had nothing to do with 'equal rights for women'. 
I get that there’s cultural sensitivity. People don’t want to be accused of racism or bigotry.
And who would be first to shout that, m'dear? 

Lefties. Feminists. Neck and neck even when one is not the other. 

I had to pour m'self a cooling ale !
They don’t want to discriminate. But what about the discrimination against girls going on right now in Australian schools? Don’t believe it? Cast your eye over this, the official uniform list for the al-Faisal College in Sydney’s west.
She showed the list here:

Boys’ summer uniform 
Blue school trousers Short-sleeve blue school shirt (with logo) Black school shoes School hat School tie
Boys’ winter uniform 
Blue trousers Long-sleeve blue shirt (with logo) Blue jumper (with logo) School tie Black school shoes Blue socks School hat
Girls’ summer uniform 
Blue summer dress (ankle-length) Long-sleeve blue school shirt Knee-high navy socks Black school shoes School hat/sky-blue scarf
Girls’ winter uniform 
Blue tartan school dress (ankle-length) Long-sleeve white shirt Blue jumper (with logo) Sky-blue scarf Black school shoes Navy stockings School hat.
What jumps out? Only the girls, from age five, have to wear long sleeves, even in summer.
Only the girls have to wear skirts to the floor (ankle-length) summer and winter. The hijab, or head covering, also is compulsory for girls, from age five. It is compulsory even for sport. The boys scamper about in short sleeves.
My mind was now aboggle. Caroline has seamlessly moved from the subject of cutting the clitoris from a small girl - indeed, thousands of small girls - to a consideration of sleeve and hem lengths in school uniforms. I needed a short  whisky chaser to my fine Ale. 
A friend of a friend who is a teacher at the school recently sent out some pictures of children at the school receiving certificates at an assembly.
The boys are relaxed and grinning. The girls are swathed in so much fabric you can see only their faces. You support this, with your taxes.
It’s blatant discrimination. It tells girls that there is something sinful about them, something that will drive men to distraction, something they need to keep covered while out in the world.
The sight of your wrists, or ankle, or forearm is offensive and wrong.
Now, Australian women are smart, and most of them are very used to carrying more than one bucket at a time. Meaning: they know that you can adore pretty clothes and still want equal pay.
Likewise, you can be outraged by female genital mutilation, and forced marriage, and lousy school uniform codes, and Donald Trump. But which is more important? Macho bragging about pussy-grabbing in a trailer on the set of The Apprentice? Or acts of extreme violence against girls — and the rights of girls — here and now?
Yes, it’s possible to carry more than one bucket, so, if you’re marching this weekend, good on you, that’s your right — but maybe also carry a placard for your Australian sisters, suffering vile misogyny as we speak.
They’re hidden from view but they deserve attention, too.
I am no longer astonished at the waste of time and effort and money our media hands to women who then cannot stick to the point long enough to make the point, even when it is of such importance.

Little girls are Mutilated. Lets bring in women's pay and some fashion notes!

The Prof, JJ Ray muttered something from a corner table. He was miffed too.

CAROLINE has some restrained comments about the butchered genitals of *Australian* Muslim girls.  I would add:  "What about Clemmie?" Alleged feminist Clementine Ford wrote recently and angrily about the rude way some young Australian men at a car rally spoke to some of the women present.  
Where is her sense of values?  There is no record of any women being hurt by men at the Summernats but there is ample record of what some Australian Muslim families do to their daughters.  If rude car-freaks burn up Clemmie, female genital mutilation should set her on fire.  But there is no record of that.  No rage at all. 
It is quite clear that Clemmie, like most so-called feminists, doesn't care about women at all.   

All that drives her is her hate of her fellow Australians -- in the best Leftist tradition.   

She is a towering hypocrite and a nasty piece of goods. 

She should be proud that even while in a drunken mob, young Australian men did women no harm. Her misdirected anger defiles Australian society.   

Does someone have to perform a clitoridectomy on her to get her attention to it?   

I think it would take that much.

Being rude and crude is a matter of poor manners. It could be seen as adolescent bravado. It harms no-one. 

Mutilating a little girl's genitals Traumatises.

It is almost the ultimate sexual abuse, but do not expect anyone in our government or abuse industry to do anything about it.

But hey, we don't want to get a mother in trouble now, do we.

And we do have to remember that all cultures are equal. 

Need a pint, "Bigot"?

Perhaps Caroline should think about her multi-grievance feminism and listen to this :


Presidents Come and Go

I suppose we all do too, for that matter, but most of us never get to be a President. America always prided itself that anyone could aspitre to the job and anyone could get elected to it. Who can ever disagree now ?  Just look at who has been sitting on the US Throne for the past eight years. But here we are at 'change-over' time and while many in the Tavern are looking forward, it is perhaps the right time to look back and see if the outgoing person of half colour  was a success. Was he effective?

The incoming chap need not make his main task the acquiring of personal income at least. He is a billionaire.  He is not even bothering to take the several hundred thousand dollar salary. The outgoing chap came in as a 'man of the people', quite modest in his small wealth, gleaned for his 'community' worker role and his short term as a Senator. He leaves as a multi-millionaire. Some how. How did that happen on a President's salary? Perhaps he skimped on his holidays.

The incoming chap is a bit short on detail but says he will 'Make America Great Again'. Will he be as successful at that as the outgoing Obama who delivered on his promise to 'Fundementally Transform America'. There wasn't much detail in that either. But at least we can now look back and see if he did.

Tending the bars does not put me in a great position to judge the success or otherwise of a President, but we were fortunate to have a Professor drop by to give his opinion.  Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His forthcoming book is A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century (April 2017). 

I pulled a pint and listened. I was as interested in any as to just how and why anyone would want to 'fundemenally transform' a USA that most people saw as the richest, most successful and free nation in history. Change it to what?
How Barack Obama Fundamentally Transformed the United States
The true Obama legacy has occurred not in economics, government, or foreign policy, but in culture.
“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
So declared Barack Obama in Columbia, Missouri, on Oct. 30, 2008, on the cusp of his historic presidential election.
It was a bold statement, revolutionary even, surpassed only by the response of those in attendance, who, rather than pausing to reflect upon such an audacious assertion, wildly applauded. To be sure, these Obama enthusiasts would have ecstatically cheered anything he said at that moment.
There was a full-fledged personality cult in motion at that time. The new president could have promised anything and received a giddy reaction. Obama himself admitted to serving as a kind of “blank screen” upon which Americans desiring some warm-and-fuzzy “hope and change” could project whatever they wanted.
But even then, the words “fundamentally transform” should have alarmed everyone. 
We Americans generally don’t do fundamental transformation. We make changes, yes, small and large, but who among us — other than the most radical revolutionaries — actually want to fundamentally transform the nation?
And to what? 
Many people think that America has many problems, but those can be addressed without a fundamental transformation. Ask professors who teach history or political ideologies (as I have for two decades), and we will tell you that totalitarianism is the ideology that fundamentally transforms.
Indeed, the textbook definition of totalitarianism, which I’ve scribbled on the chalkboard every fall and spring semester since 1997, is to seek to fundamentally transform — specifically, to fundamentally transform human nature via some form of political-ideological-cultural upheaval.
So, that being the case, I winced when Barack Obama said that, and then felt sick to the stomach when I watched people blissfully and blindly applaud without question or objection.
But now here we are, at the end of Obama’s two-term presidency, and the question begs to be pondered: 
Did Barack Obama fundamentally transform the United States of America, as he promised?
The answer is absolutely Yes.
That fundamental transformation, however, has not happened in areas where many might have hoped (or feared) in 2008. It has not been a fundamental shift in the attitudes of the vast majority regarding the role of government, taxation, regulations, economics, education or even health care, where Obama had his signature legislative achievement. It hasn’t happened in foreign policy, though Obama has made a seriously detrimental impact in regions from Eastern Europe to the Middle East.
The reality is that the true fundamental transformation has been in the realm of culture, notably in matters of sexual orientation, marriage and family. 
The shift there has been unprecedented and far beyond anyone’s imagination eight years ago.
Hmmmm. I thing some people, somewhere were imagining just what eventuated. And they are very likely rubbing their hands in glee. 
Looking back, I think that was where Obama’s heart was, and that was where his deepest impact will be felt. Changes there, more than anywhere, seem irreversible by anything other than the miraculous, than anything short of a religious revival or dramatic shift in spiritual-moral thinking.
Obama’s cultural revolution on the sexual-gender-family front is all around us.
We see it in the culture of fear and intimidation by the forces of “diversity” and “tolerance” who viciously seek to denounce, dehumanize, demonize and destroy anyone who disagrees with their brazen newfound conceptions of marriage and family, even as our position (not theirs) has been the prevailing position of 99.99% of human beings who have bestrode the earth since the dawn of humanity.
Instead, in the Obama era, we are the ones portrayed as the outliers, as abnormal, as extremists, as “haters.” If you dissent from this new vociferous breed of human-nature redefiners, they sue you, they jail you, they smear you, they boycott you, they harass you, they ruin you — and they do so (with no sense of their hypocrisy) in the name of “tolerance” and “diversity.
Whether you’re a Baptist grandma who bakes cakes or a Catholic photographer who takes wedding photos or a Mormon florist who arranges flowers, they refuse your appeals to your conscience; they steamroll you. 

Changes by Obama and his allies here have constituted a major attack on religious liberty, where 200-year-old First Amendment guarantees have been torched by modern culture warriors discerning heretofore unknown higher rights like “marriage equality” and co-ed toilets.
That is a fundamental transformation of a culture and a nation that did not exist prior to Barack Obama’s ascent.
The manifestations of this are so ubiquitous that laying them out here isn’t necessary, but I’d like to offer just a handful of brief illustrations and images:
The first was the Newsweek cover from May 2012 showing Barack Obama with a rainbow halo over his head above the words, “The First Gay President.” This was in response to Obama coming out for same-sex “marriage,” which for five years he had claimed to oppose. This public shift occurred as Obama was ramping up his re-election campaign, just as Hillary Clinton would do later that year when she announced her 2016 campaign.
After that announcement, Obama employed an aggressive agenda of fundamental transformation on the sexual-gender-family front, one that picked up speed, depth and arrogance throughout his second term.
The second is another image, more profound than the Newsweek creation/coronation because it was real. It was from June 2015, when the Obama White House, the nation’s first house, was lit up in the colors of the “LGBTQ” rainbow on the day of the Obergefell v. Hodgesdecision, when a Catholic Supreme Court justice, Anthony Kennedy, led the liberal bloc of the court in redefining marriage and imposing this nonexistent “constitutional right” on all 50 states.
 If ever there was a picture of Obama’s fundamental transformation of America, that was it.
Third was the bathroom fiat, when, according to Obama’s word, all public schools were ordered to revolutionize their restrooms and locker rooms to make them available to teenage boys who want to be called girls (among other gender novelties).
It is hard to conceive a more surreal example of executive overreach.
Truly, George Washington is rolling over in his grave.
Fourth is an ironic moment of Obama’s own doing, one that got virtually no press coverage. It occurred at a town-hall meeting in London last April, where Obama was scolded by a young man for not doing enough to “recognize non-binary people” such as himself. This young man wanted the British government to “respect pronouns” — using not words like “he” or “she,” but rather “hir” or “ze” — in addition to “commit to gender-neutral toilets.”
“I really, really wish that yourself and [British Prime Minister] David Cameron would take us seriously as transgender people,” pushed the student. “And perhaps you could elucidate as to what you can do to go beyond what has been accepted as the LGBTQ rights movement, in including people who fit outside the social norms.”
It was almost hilarious to observe Barack Obama, of all people, reprimanded for inadequacies in this area, which brings me to my final example.
That London incident might have prompted a remarkable action by the Obama White House a few weeks later, which also got virtually no news coverage: 
The White House Press Office released two extraordinary fact sheets detailing Obama’s vast efforts to promote “LGBT” rights at home and abroad. 
Not only was it telling that the White House would assemble such a list, and tout it, but the sheer length of the list is striking to behold. It is hard to find any similar roster of such dramatic changes by the Obama White House in any policy area. The list runs page after page.
In short, what we see here is the true Barack Obama legacy, the genuine fundamental transformation.
It has occurred not in economics, government, or foreign policy, but in culture.
When we look back at Barack Obama’s eight years, we should visualize not Obamacare or something in foreign policy, but that White House illuminated in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, or a rainbow-haloed Obama celebrated as the “first gay president.”
Those are the crowning images of the fundamental transformation of America that Barack Obama achieved.
I think the Prof is pulling his punches, but then there is only a little one can say before a refill of the tankard is needed. And at that point another speaker stood and wanted to make a point. The Prof had mentioned the lack of 'press' coverage - and we all know why now - whenever Obama did something other than go on holiday with his super-expensive family. Transparency was a promise unfulfilled.

So  C.J. Ciaramella examined that for us.
'The Most Transparent Administration in History'
A campaign promise becomes a punchline.
It was hard not to snicker when one of the beleaguered White House press secretaries would stand in front of the journalist corps and claim that the executive branch was blazing new trails in openness.

Despite some promising open data initiatives, the executive branch under Obama was, on the whole, more secretive than ever. 
Since 2009, press access to the White House has been notably restricted, whistleblower prosecutions have spiked, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the federal government have reached an all-time high.
In 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists published a scathing report, written by former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr., on the Obama administration's obsession with controlling media coverage and burnishing its image, drawing comparisons to the pathological tendencies of one of the White House's previous occupants.
Already the critics are claiming that Trump will not speak to particular press people. Nor would I. 
"The Obama administration's aggressive war on leaks, and its determined efforts to control information that the news media needs to hold the government accountable for its actions, are without equal since the Nixon administration and in direct conflict with President Obama's often-stated goal of making his administration the most transparent in American history," Downie said when the document was released. "Parenthetically, I'm old enough that I was one of the editors on the Watergate story, so I make that comparison with knowledge," he continued.
But unlike Tricky Dick, who provided future presidents with a cautionary tale about how dirty tricks can come back to bite them, 
Obama leaves a blueprint on how to suppress information and get away with it.
The most immediate change was a sudden clampdown on unauthorized comments and interviews. The Obama administration made sure the word got out: The only people who talk to journalists are public affairs officers. In 2014, 38 national press organizations and transparency groups—including Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Poynter Institute—called on him to end "politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies."
"Over the past two decades, public agencies have increasingly prohibited staff from communicating with journalists unless they go through public affairs offices or through political appointees," the letter read. "We consider these restrictions a form of censorship—an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear."
This overwhelming urge to manage its image sometimes manifested in bizarre ways, like the time in 2011 when one of the vice president's staffers forced a reporter to sit in a closet during a fundraiser.
Long-running fights between the press and the government underscored the deep, pernicious reach of the secrecy state. Media organizations and civil rights groups were forced to file time-consuming, expensive lawsuits to pry loose information on the Obama administration's expanded use of targeted drone strikes and 
the legal justification for the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. 
Although part of Obama's day-one transparency pledge directed federal agencies to adopt a "presumption of openness" when dealing with public records requests and never to withhold information solely because it would be embarrassing, the directive was rarely enforced.
Instead, agencies delayed, stonewalled, and redacted as much as they could get away with (and often more than they were supposed to be able to get away with), forcing accountability groups and media to sue them if they wanted public information.
When a bipartisan cohort of federal lawmakers attempted to codify the directive, along with significant improvements to the Freedom of Information Act, Justice Department pressure effectively killed it. The Obama administration's work to torpedo the effort remained secret, until it was revealed a year later—through a FOIA lawsuit, naturally.
The bill was reintroduced in 2016, passed by Congress, and sent to President Obama, who of course was happy to sign it. He was, after all, running the most transparent administration in history.

A pint for CJ too.

The next few days should see fireworks at the Inauguration. And not just the pretty sort. The diversity and tolerance brigade have already signalled - nicely transparent, guys - that they will disrupt the proceedings in an unprecedented National Tantrum. 

There will be many sore heads.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reaching for Mars

It is a national disaster that a person of historical importance is driven out and across the seas to another nation. And thence into Space. But South Africa is a disaster nation. The ANC who gloat still about Mandela and giving the marxist-racist boot to white people have lost whatever place in history they may have tried to grasp with a man like Christian Barnard - you recall he was the first to do a Heart Transplant - and have again proven their incompetence by losing Elon Musk.

And Musk is a man on his way into the history books. 

After several splendid attempts, some failure and much advance his 'Spacex' organisation has made possibly more achiement in the 'Space' bizzo in 10 years than all other nations together in 70 years.  

And last week he passed not just a milestone he set for himself but a pathway for many others to follow down. 

He successfully launched a rocket carrying 10 satellites and recovered the first-stage main rocket on a platform out at sea.

It was a staggering success.

The entrepreneurial young man has gained many accolades along with critics and fans.  He has turned his hand, imagination, business acumen and personal fortune to a number of enterprises, some of which have yet to prove themselves, and some of which are technically brilliant.

This year will make him or break him. My money is on the former.

Let a small boy enthuse before we go on. Who knows.... he may be a Martian Colonist one day.

Wiki says: Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California, United States. It was founded in 2002 by Tesla Motors CEO and former PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of creating the technologies to reduce space transportation costs and 

enable the colonization of Mars.

It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both designed to be reusable, and the Dragon spacecraft which is flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to supply the International Space Station (ISS) with cargo. A manned version of Dragon is in development.

SpaceX's achievements include the first privately funded, liquid-propellant rocket (Falcon 1) to reach orbit, in 2008; the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft (Dragon), in 2010; and the first private company to send a spacecraft (Dragon) to the ISS, in 2012.

The launch of SES-8, in 2013, was the first SpaceX delivery into geosynchronous orbit, while the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), in 2015, was the company's first delivery beyond Earth orbit.

SpaceX began a privately funded reusable launch system technology development program in 2011 and, in December 2015, successfully returned a first stage back to a landing pad near the launch site and accomplished a propulsive vertical landing. 

This was the first such accomplishment by a rocket on an orbital trajectory.

On April 8, 2016, with the launch of CRS-8, SpaceX successfully vertically landed a first stage on an ocean drone-ship landing platform on a mission that also delivered a Dragon space capsule to Low Earth Orbit. On May 6, 2016, SpaceX again landed a first stage, but on a geostationary transfer orbit mission, another first.

NASA awarded the company a Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract in 2006, to design and demonstrate a launch system to resupply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX, as of July 2016 has flown nine missions to the ISS under a cargo resupply contract. NASA also awarded SpaceX a contract in 2011 to develop and demonstrate a human-rated Dragon as part of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program to transport crew to the ISS.

In September 2016, SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk unveiled substantial parts of the launch vehicle, spacecraft, and mission architecture of the Interplanetary Transport System program, an ambitious privately-funded initiative to develop spaceflight technology for use in interplanetary spaceflight, and if demand emerges, could lead to sustainable human settlements on Mars over the very long term.

The race to Mars is on and there is no prize for being the second man on the planet. 

Meanwhile his current achievement has excited small boys, hrad-nosed grown men and a host of men and women in the companies that he owns who have done such a brilliant job.

Small boys can be impressed. Large boys can have just as much wonder.

The really significant aspect is the hardware recovery. Rather than lose the rocket, have it burn up on re-entry or become space junk. Musk wanted to re-use it and so save costs.

He achieved that.

Why at sea? Let a pretty girl explain.

Now, for all who want to see the History being made, and keep a record of those involved, here is a re-run of the 'Live' broadcast. It is an hour of technical wonder at several levels so I shall pull pints for everyone. Oh, and you will have to go to You Tube to see it.

You saw it here in the Tavern as it happened 

(Well, almost).

So, Elon can get things up and down and do it far more cost-effectively than others to date. So when do we go to Mars.

First find $10 billion. That should not be difficult for any nation that can waste a $Trillion or so a year.  America is well experienced at that.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Critique of the Pope

Every military organisation has them. Barrack-Room lawyers. They are untried and untested usually, and young. They delude themselves and others in thinking (hah!) that they know better than the Generals who have generally tasted the fight at least and have Experience.  Not that Generals have immunity from criticism and assessment; not that the Generals may differ in competence; not that some indeed, may be 'desk-men' rather than having a tank or aircraft as  favoured work-space.  
See. Hands-off.
But the  young Knight yet to earn a battle spur, and the young squire who cleans his boots often think (hah!) that they have sufficient nous to comment unfavourably. 

I was a military youngster m'self once. Fortunately I resisted putting my meagre knowledge up against that of my superiors but instead listened, watched and learned. OK, Sometimes. I still had a mouth  which would often try to operate without a brain in gear behind it.

We see much the same in the Ultimate Military. The Church. The Commander-in-Chief has been under much criticism lately, and while some might have some justification, we must be mindful that many if not most doing the criticising are  quite 'unlearned'; some are from 'other churches'; some are totally opposed to religious orrganisation altogether or seem unable to tell one mob from another. Plus of course the ignorant and unstable who enjoy the chaos of distorting things.
They never studied.

Frankly, the atheists and even some protestants, as well as any other religious sects are in no position to add anything cogent.

Even the well experienced and studious criticise and can see things from different perspectives, and they at least are worth listening to for something sensible and sensitive and knowledgable. And while we have had folk in the Tavern speaking their confusions about Pope Francis we here are always welcoming to sound views and encouraging cautions too. 

Two came by this week. Both of 'stature'. Not that I as a simple Tavern Keeper had much to add despite the odd difference of view here and there. You form your own.

First up a fairly tough line from Michael Voris's barracks.  I caught only the 'stop it or you will go blind' part of a longer chat. Very military. Go in hard:then ease up. (Remind me to tell you one day about Stacy and Greene and the orgy in the temple). 

I cannot knock that because it works and saves souls. He was followed by a more constructive one from Michael Cook, for the thinking person whatever their current view.
Public Criticism of the Pope
It is our judgment that most Catholics should neither read nor have easy access to articles and essays that could be judged insulting to the Pope. 
Such writings should be published and reserved for those capable of engaging them without risk of damage to their faith in the Church and the Vicar of Christ.

I always have difficulty with this. Most troops in barracks, and even their Sergeants and Captains do not like the 'confidentiality' system that puts some matters out of their hearing and reserves it for the  Generals only. It is a fact of life that the generals have 'aides' of dubious experience too who do get to see, hear and comment.  

Michael and his team would baulk at being refused sight of articles 'judged insulting'.

And in this era of ubiquitous communication we are swamped by reports and comments, and woe betide those who try to impede it. 

What is more pertinent is the veracity and validity of what we see, hear and say. And our ability and facility to discuss and counter carping criticisms that are ignorant, mendacious, destructive and intended to deceive.
We make these recommendations for the same reasons that we discourage people from visiting sedevacantist and pornography web sites: They are potential occasions of sin, from which masters of the spiritual life are unanimous in their recommendation of "flight" rather than "fight."
I understand the rationale, but again discriminate between those who 'have studied' and those that have not, but are in progress. 
They lead people to think or do things they would not otherwise have thought or done and, almost without exception, those things are harmful to one's spiritual life.
Since this judgment is not self-evident, let's try to understand it by way of hypothetical scenarios.
Assume, for the sake of argument, that everything one learns from such sites and articles is true. Every claim, every allegation, is true. Bad news all around for the Church. 
Question: How are you a better Catholic for knowing all this, and what is the proper Catholic response? 
Will reading these sites strengthen your faith, or will they cause you to question the validity of the One True Faith, or the legitimacy of the Supreme Pontiff?
Conversely, what if everything one learns from these sites and articles is false? Every claim, every allegation, is false, but they are so persuasive that all is accepted as if true. Again, bad news all around for the Church. 
Question: How are you a better Catholic for believing what is false as if it were true, and what is the proper Catholic response to all that?
The first hypothetical scenario is more troubling and requires a response: How can it ever be a bad thing to know that something true is true? 
The second hypothetical scenario is more obviously harmful: believing something false to be true is always a bad thing. 
But for both hypotheses, the same questions arise: How is a Catholic better off believing bad things about the Church, whether those things be true or false, and how should a Catholic respond to those things? 
If someone believes that the Catholic Church has become a bad place to be, what is that person supposed to do? Join another Church? Break away from the visible, corrupt Catholic Church and form an alternative, allegedly more faithful version of the Catholic Church? Leave the Catholic Church and join a more faithful Evangelical Christian assembly? Give up on religion entirely and go the "I'm spiritual but not religious" crowd? Organize "Recognize and Resist" movements within the Catholic Church and relentlessly attack Her from the inside? Seek Church reform via some kind of coup d'etat and replace current leadership with ... what?
None of these responses is authentically Catholic. 
Each is facilitated and encouraged by harsh papal criticism almost indistinguishable from what is found in the writings of virulent anti-Catholic apologists. 
The only authentically Catholic response is the example of Our Lady who, throughout Her Son's Passion, stood by Him with full confidence, in spite of all appearances, that God's will was and would be done. 
No matter how bloodied, beaten and defeated Our Lord appeared throughout His Passion and death, He was still Our Lord, and neither the flight of the Apostles nor their fear is remembered as a positive example to follow.
No good is served by giving people the impression that the Pope is not Catholic, even if it can be alleged that there is reason to believe he is not. Trashing the Holy Father discourages those struggling to remain faithful to the Catholic Church as well as those considering conversion to the Catholic Church. 
OK. I do not disagree with any of that, but we are still left with the ubiquity of communication. Even a Hermit Tavern Keeper hears things. We all have to deal with it. Follow the link to see what else he said.

So, hearing the cacophony of cant from all sides, how are we to discern any 'Truth' ? Perhaps different hearing aids are needed. 

It is the 'criticisers' making all the noise and confusion that need to consider their views. It is they, who even when having the 'best intention" (the one's that so often lead to Hell) who need to take a broader, deeper and more comprehensive view. Get the Big Picture'. It is also a means for the troop in the field to gain confidence that his generals know what they are doing. 

Michael Cook acknowledges the problem and points to that better view.  I pulled a pint of fine Ale for both Michaels.
Reframing Pope Francis
His critics need to adopt a new approach
Perhaps annus horribilis is too strong to describe Pope Francis’s experience of 2016. But it cannot be far off the mark. Apart from events like refugees drowning in the Mediterranean and flooding into Europe and the pulverisation of Aleppo, there was a drumbeat of criticism in the media after the publication of his document on marriage, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).  
The most entertaining of these was La sacrée semaine: qui changea la face du monde (The Holy Week which changed the world), a novella by an eminent French anthropologist, Marc Augé. This is a fanciful tale about Pope Francis. He steps on the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica on Easter morning 2018 (which, as it happens, is April Fool’s day) and announces to an immense crowd: “God is not dead – because God has never existed.” Immediately the cardinals whisk him off to a mental hospital and he submits his resignation the next day.  
Augé is a modern pagan (the more gods, the better) for whom rationalism and relativism are religious dogmas. The point of his jeu d’espirit is not to criticise Pope Francis but to show that the world would be much better off without religion.
More troubling is the stance of Catholic critics who feel that the world would be much better off without Pope Francis. 
Ross Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times who has been channeling this hostility into the mainstream media, recently wrote that “same-sex couples, polygamists and unmarried straight couples can all reasonably claim that the most liberal interpretation of ‘Amoris’ applies to their situations”.
This is as preposterous as Augé’s novella; as in a failing marriage, Douthat & Co can see almost nothing good in Papa Bergoglio. Vaticanistas and bloggers have been decoding shuffles in the Vatican bureaucracy, doorstop interviews with the media, and appointments of bishops and announcing that they have uncovered a plot to explode the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church.
The latest broadside comes from two highly respected moralists from the English-speaking world, both laymen: Germain Grisez, an American theologian, and John Finnis, an Australian who is an emeritus professor at Oxford. They wrote a letter to the Pope and then published it online in the Catholic journal First Things in early December.
In it they listed eight positions opposed to traditional Catholic teaching which, they say, could be supported by passages in Amoris Laetitia. 
No doubt this is true. 
“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose,” 
says Shakespeare. In fact, twisting the meaning of church documents has a long history. 
The first Pope, Peter the Apostle, wrote to his flock in about 65AD that Paul’s “letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
But surely the Pope cannot be held responsible for the misuse of his words. If he can be, shouldn’t his critics consider un-canonising St Pius X, in whose name the most serious schism of the last century took place?
The real point is: did Pope Francis affirm any of these supposed errors? And the answer, thanks to the careful documentation of Grisez and Finnis, is: 
No, he did not. 
Despite their best efforts, they failed to catch him in flagrante haeresi.
In any case, Finnis and Grisez’s eighth position is curious: they appear to have created their own dogma and then criticized the Pope for not teaching it. 
The offending position is: “A Catholic need not believe that many human beings will end in hell.” 
But the Church has never taught that hell is crowded, only that it exists and that each of us might end up there. There may be standing room only; the hotels may be half-empty. This is one area of Catholic belief which is open to debate. 
We’ve all heard of fake news; this is fake dogma.
Why are some highly intelligent and faithful Catholics so jaundiced towards Pope Francis that they see heresies everywhere, as if they were playing a theological version of Pokemon Go in the Vatican Gardens?
We are somewhat (hmmmm - To a large and perhaps overwhelming extent)  at the mercy of the newspaper reporters.  They can be merciless.

It is through their eyes and ears that we get to hear what the Pope says in the aisles of the planes he travels around in. 

Some are quite smart and some are well 'immersed' in Church matters, but ALL have their eys on the Headline and the columns and their 'commercial',  career aspirations.
Perhaps we need a fresh framework to understand him. 
Francis is not a conventional Bishop of Rome. After 150 years of Popes who have been mostly diplomats or intellectuals, in 2013 the cardinals elected a Latin American Jesuit, a bishop with a 
profoundly pastoral heart. 
In John Paul II, the Church had a strikingly original philosopher; in Benedict XVI, one of the world’s finest theologians; and in Francis, a distinguished spiritual director.
The figure of the “spiritual director” is a familiar one in the Catholic Church and the Jesuits are famed for producing them. They are priests (usually) who “direct souls”, that is, give prayerful and practical advice to people one-by-one.
Their role is to help each person reach the heights of Christian life, sometimes by comforting and consoling, sometimes by scolding and berating, always by helping people to be more prayerful and centred on Christ. It’s no accident that the Pope’s Christmas present to the members of the Roman Curia – the officials at the Vatican – was an Italian translation of stern textbook by a 17thCentury Jesuit, Industriae ad curandos animae morbos (Curing illnesses of the soul).
The harsh side of Francis as a spiritual director seems to have deeply offended some clergy. “We’ve stuck with the Church through thick and thin, we get paid peanuts, and this guy rips into us for not being holy enough! Just who does he think he is?” But this has always been the reaction of weary clergy in past eras of reform. Just read the lives of the 16th Century Counter-Reformation saints Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. 
It’s an understandable complaint, but it’s not holiness.
Sadly, a bit of berating seems to be in order after the world-wide sex abuse scandals, profligacy in the Vatican, and, worst of all, a collapse in the number of church-goers. 
Francis seems to believe that if there had been more Padre Pios in the pulpits, there would be more Catholics in the pews.
The important thing to remember about a spiritual director—unlike a philosopher or theologian -- is that his advice is imparted personally, soul by soul. It is not delivered in sermons, books, or Facebook groups. It is not an off-the-rack suit but bespoke spiritual tailoring. 
All of Francis’s advice in Amoris Laetitia is perfectly conventional if viewed through the prism of personal spiritual direction. 
He is showing the Church how to apply to prodigal sons and daughters the principles of Vatican II and of the two great Popes who implemented its spirit.
There are risks, of course. 
Francis’s approach will only work if priests (all Catholics, actually) are willing to be shepherds with the smell of the sheep. If too many of them settle for being managers or “collectors of antiques or novelties”, it will fail.
History will be the judge of how effective this will be, but Francis is taking for granted that John Paul II and Benedict XVI had already created a robust intellectual framework for evangelization by producing the Catholic Catechism and their brilliant encyclicals. Now it is time for action, for reaching out, for bringing the Gospel message to a secularized world.
So the critics’ view is topsy-turvy. 
Instead of contesting traditional Catholic notions like exceptionless moral norms, the indissolubility of marriage, or the possibility of living according to the moral law, Francis assumes them. OK, he is saying, we’ve spent the last 40 years updating the language of traditional moral theology. It’s time to roll this out on the battlefield and set up our field hospitals.
That is what he means when he writes in Amoris Laetitia:
""...this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church. For this discernment to happen, the following conditions must necessarily be present: humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it”. These attitudes are essential for avoiding the grave danger of misunderstandings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant “exceptions”, or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favours. When a responsible and tactful person, who does not presume to put his or her own desires ahead of the common good of the Church, meets with a pastor capable of acknowledging the seriousness of the matter before him, there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard (n. 300)..'''
In fact, he insists time and again in this document that only the truth can heal and that priests (working as spiritual directors) must remain faithful to traditional moral teachings. But the path to the truth may be different for each soul. To use a homely analogy, a doctor cannot cure recalcitrant patients by giving them poison or by redefining what it means to be healthy. But he can and should try different treatment programs, some shorter, some longer, to nurse them gradually to health.
It is amazing that the Pope’s critics have seized on Amoris Laetitia like a dog with a bone but ignore his first encyclical, which is the real key to his pontificate, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). When I wrote about it in 2013, shortly after it was published, I was bowled over:
It is a challenge for Christians to scrape back the layers of paint and dust and soot which have darkened the glowing light of the Gospel message. Evangelii Gaudium has a vigorous innocence and freshness about it; it is a young man’s shout to the world that love is possible, justice is possible, anything is possible, if the world would only listen to the plain words of Jesus Christ.  
Critics have every right to insist that Jorge Bergoglio, like every Catholic, must be faithful to the traditional teaching of their Church because these are the teachings of Christ. 
But doesn’t the traditional teaching include the command “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations”? 
No one could accuse Pope Francis of not taking the re-evangelisation of the world seriously. Would that the same could be said of all of his critics.
 Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

While I refreshed the tankards of these two fine men, I found that I was refreshed too.

Drink up. Be less ignorant. 

The alternative is .... what? A celebration of the deadened souls around us? Or should we be trying to rescue them?  

Up above we had a 'Ghostbuster' musing on 'study'.  Let us see Bill Murray fronting an award ceremony where he dares to mock in his own quiet way the very fallen world he finds himself in and the dead he looks out over.  His 'ovation' is more 'Hillside Church' than the sort of Catholic gathering that the Pope generally sees. And while the Pope gently blesses, Bill gently ridicules.

He still gets the wild cheers from the dumberatti, who simply do not know what he is saying.

"You are all dead".

Don't be.