Labels

Sunday, December 31, 2017

NOW do you Believe?

It is the last day of the year and I cannot sleep. I have a big dinner planned for tonight but have some difficulty believing my chef can manage it. That's a problem. Belief is always a problem.  It either comes too easy or too hard: rarely at the right thickness and all too often at the wrong temperature for swallowing.



The Credible Hulk was having a pint. 

'Consider this, old and knackered Tavern Keeper,' he said. 'You believe Einstein? Correct?'

I pondered. Well, we all do, innit? But why.

Much of what we 'understand' we do not. Period. We haven't a clue. But we rely on others being right, even when we do not have a clue what they are talking about.  We need explanations.

The Hulk illustrated.
Einstein's Field Equations represent what many consider to be among the greatest intellectual achievements in the history of science.  
The relation depicted here consists of 
16 coupled hyperbolic-elliptic nonlinear partial differential equations 
that describe the gravitational effects produced by a given mass in general relativity, but is compactly represented by four symmetric 2nd order tensors comprised of 16 components each (10 unique components due to symmetry really). 
The big G is the universal gravitational constant, which also appears in Newton's original universal law of gravitation, and c is the speed of light.
Oddly enough, when down in the crypt, I sometimes refer to my Supplier as 'Big G'.  
The little g with the two subscripts is called the "metric tensor," or just the "metric." In math, a metric defines the meaning of distance, area, angles, volume, and curvature for a given space. 

The R with the two subscripts is called the "Ricci tensor." It can be derived by performing an operation called a "tensor contraction" on an object known as the Riemann curvature tensor. *As a side note, a tensor contraction can be thought of as a generalization of the inner product, which itself can be thought of as a generalization of the "dot product," which are operations likely to be more familiar to a larger portion of my followers than tensor contractions which are more advanced). 

The capital R without the subscripts is called the "Ricci Scalar," and can be derived by performing an additional tensor contraction on the Ricci Tensor itself. 
Perhaps a verbal explanation can help us here. 

Hmmmm. Perhaps not. 
The capital lambda term is the cosmological constant. Einstein included it in his original paper because he assumed that the universe was static, and the equations don't allow that unless there is some outward force canceling out gravitational forces. He later called it the greatest blunder of his career, but now we know that the expansion is in fact accelerating, and that his cosmological constant term can still be useful. It can be used as the "dark energy" term, and is sometimes described in colloquial terms as a "negative pressure" term of the vacuum. 

The capital T with the two subscripts is the Stress-Energy tensor, or the Energy Momentum tensor. It describes the density and flux of energy and momentum through a given region of space-time. It's the source of the gravitational field in the equation. Whereas in Newtonian gravity, you have a mass density term, (mass/distance-squared), in relativity everything contributes to the gravitational field (I.e. Pressure, mass/energy density etc. . . Instead of just mass density alone). 

Moreover, the Riemann tensor from which the Ricci tensor and scalar are derived is itself derived from the metric via a mathematical recipe involving tensor-like objects known as the "Christoffel symbols," a procedure that is beyond the scope of this post. 

Together, the Einstein Field Equations describe the space-time geometry and gravitational field in a given region.
How can you not believe that? 

He makes it so clear.

It is explained in words of occasionally few syllables.

The Hulk describes hisself thus: 
Skeptic, science communicator, blogger, musician, weight training enthusiast, and debunker of pseudoscience and science denialism. I tend to put emphasis on GE foods, climate science and vaccines, as well as other health, medical issues, philosophy of science, and conspiracy theories (especially ones related to science), and delivered with a mixture of in-depth analyses and short punchy posts with a dash humor (including some blatant satire). 

Who am I to argue?

Now, let us consider 'Man'.

One of my favourite staff members - OK, my very favourite - often asks me about 'Men'. 

She seems to have no trouble with 'God': my Supplier.

Many, however, do. 

I have no great trouble with the 'God' bizzo, but when it comes to answering her about 'men' an entire world of them opens up and pinning down just what a 'man' is becomes far too difficult.

Nevertheless I have promised that in the coming year I shall give some thought to the bizzo of 'man', having been one for far longer than is decent and knowing, partially and impartially, so many thousands of examples that the mind boggles.

I am fortunate in having only One Supplier.

Now, that is easy to understand.


I Believe. 




Have a Happy and Illuminating New Year.

Pax on you all...... unless you are politicians: then a Pox on many of you.


Happy New Year 2018




Thursday, December 28, 2017

What is Given Can Be Taken Away

Updated below:
The aftermath of the big Race that I mentioned last.  It was record breaking - by some five hours or near about - but several boats came in within the old time. But the Winner, Wild Oats X1 held the cup for only a day. 

You recall the close encounter in Sydney Harbour that resulted in a red flag from Comanche? Well an International committee sat today in Hobart and decided that Wild Oats should be penalised for its poor sailing. 

Actually I think it was fine sailing but cut a tad too fine, but what do I know?  David Roberson knows though.
Sydney to Hobart: Comanche takes line honours after Wild Oats XI penalised
Comanche has won line honours in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race after Wild Oats XI was penalised by an hour for breaking race rules.
International jury chairman John Rountree said because of the breach of race rules, Wild Oats XI was penalised one hour.
Wild Oats XI was found to have breached the rules over a tacking manoeuvre at the start.
Comanche crossed the line in second place nearly 27 minutes after Wild Oats XI.
Mind you, it was touch and go as to which would get there first.

If you look very carefully ar 6.45 here you just might see my cave !!


Comanche skipper and owner Jim Cooney said the decision was "fair and reasonable".
"I'm thrilled to be installed as the line honours winner. It's something we've worked very hard for," he said.
"It's always a bit of a shame it may happen in these circumstances [but] ... the jury's decided very clearly that there was an infringement in the harbour that penalised us.
"And when things come down to the wire so closely like that I think it's only fair and reasonable that the jury acted the way they did."
The lengthy protest hearing on Thursday caused the race organisers to delay the announcement of the handicap overall winner.
It is expected that the overall winner will be announced on Friday.
Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards says the jury's decision is disappointing, disagrees the incident was unsafe

Comanche lodged the protest after the two yachts nearly collided when Wild Oats XI tacked near the start line, with Cooney claiming it tacked too late.
It is in the form of a tribunal that can call evidence from the skippers, tacticians, navigators and any others who the jury feels has information relevant to the complaint.
The jury can also view evidence such as television footage.
The allegation lodged with the jury was that Wild Oats XI was on a port tack, and Comanche was on a starboard tack, putting them on a collision course at the start of the race.
It alleged that Wild Oats did not complete its tack from port to starboard, failing to keep clear of Comanche, which was on a starboard tack.
The jury was told that under the rules Comanche had to avoid a collision and alter course before Wild Oats XI completed its tack, which was argued to be a breach.
So The committee imposed a penalty of one hour, and as Comanche was less than half an hour  behind across the line they have been awarded Line Honours this year, much to the chagrin on Wild Oat's crew.

But they are good sports: understood: and accepted with some dignity.

That is grown-up.

Let us raise a glass or three.

Update: Friday 29th
Not all the smaller boats are in yet (still some 50 out there somewhere: 4 retired from the 102 start line) but an overall Winner has been announced. Ichi Ban, an 'old sailor' in the Sydney to Hobart has won the handicap and the race.

Meanwhile an unholy row has broken out regarding the one hour penalty given to Wild Oats X1. Many in the game consider it far too severe and suggestions have been made that two 360 turns would have been more appropriate. They could have been achieved in less than the 27 minutes that seperated the two at the finish line and have Wild Oats X1 remain the winner.

It has made this record-breaking run rather controversial.

Further update.

The Line Honours.


The first boat in from the Port Philip mob was 'Fork in the Road', well ahead of its competirors. That passed by my cave just a few hours ago.

Pax

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Yacht Race

Updates below.
Yes, that yacht race at this time of the year. The Sydney to Hobart race (1100 odd kms) always starts on Boxing Day and I don't think St Stephen gets a look in. But I do, as my cave looks out over the final few kilometres of water to the finish line and I expect to see a great sight as the first winner takes 'Line Honours'. It is always a Big boat.

Not that it is always the overall winner as the smaller boats get handicap assistance. Those littler ones have to start a little beind the 'front line' as they would be likely run down and scattered in the first few hundred yards by the huge ones. Even smaller boats in this 102 boat fleet start even further back.

This year the start in 'light' breeze' was just a little slower than usual but the techologically advanced and enhanced big chaps moved ahead with haste. 

Here is the start. Take note of the near collision which nearly saw several million bucks go down to an early hosing. Note also that the TV cameras aboard which show the action have to be recovered pretty quickly along with their operators.  Otherwise the operators would have to go south with the crews instead of home to family. In this instance a young woman jumped of the back of one of the leaders when it was doing at least 20 knots. Brave gal.

Over the past 72 years, the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has become an icon of Australia's summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Open tennis and the Boxing Day cricket test. No regular annual yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage than does the start on Sydney Harbour.

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia have had a marked influence on international ocean yacht racing.  The Club has influenced the world in race communications and sea safety, maintaining the highest standards for race entry.  

The Club's members have also fared well in major ocean racing events overseas, with victories in the Admiral's Cup, Kenwood Cup, One Ton Cup, the Fastnet Race, the Clipper Race and the BOC Challenge solo race around the word, not to mention the America's Cup.

As well as the eclectic on-water racing, the Sydney Hobart provides various activities and events for people of all ages to be a part of. 

Boxing Day in 2016 was also Family Day in the JANUS et Cie Sydney Race Village, which is a tradition that will continue for the 2017 Sydney Hobart and into the future.  Face painting, popcorn, live streaming of the start and everything in between can be found in the Race Village on Family Day!

The Hobart Race Village - well, known down here as the Harbour, Sullivan's Cove, comes alive even before yachts start to finish, with live music, food and drink stalls, interactive information and game screens, and many activities to keep everyone happy! We have a 'gourmet' feast here at the same time called 'The Taste'. 

That very tall glass building in the centre does not actually exist. It is an 'artist's representation', for a developer who wanted to build it there. He was told 'NO' in no uncertain terms. As you may see, Hobart is an oldish fashioned, low-rise city.

Tha harbour will be packed. Not only will the 102 boats who set out (God willing thay all arrive safely) be accomodated but also two other fleets that are on their way too. One fleet will be leaving Port Phillip, Melbourne and sailing down the west coast of Tasmania and across the southern end: while a third fleet will set out from the Tamar River in the north of the State to hug the east coast along with the Sydney mob.

They should add another hundred or so boats.

In prime position to view the New Year's Eve fireworks, the Hobart Race 'Village' provides the only outdoor festival on New Years Eve in Hobart.  So some think !! Not quite the only one, in fact, as my small cave will host an intimate dinner for three as we watch the fireworks from just a short distance away.

If you want to follow the fleet over the next few days, here is a link to the tracker.



Enjoy.

Now, I have pints to pull for thirsty landlubbers.

Pax

Update 14.45 Wednesday.
The leader, Comanche is off Coles Bay and the Freycinet Penninsula right now going like the clappers at a tad over 20 kts. A firm nor-easterly is powering them along and they are set for arrival and a new record this evening. 107nms to go, including turning into wind for the Derwent estuary.

However, looking from my cave at a glassy water last few kilometres to the finish line with barely a breeze stirring the leaves on the trees, they may all find the last leg hard and slow going. There may be a surprise or two as several 'Maxi's vie for line honours.
Comanche.

1855.
Comanche and Wild Oats X1are both just off Port Arthur 30nm away and heading west for the channel. The wind has been their power for a very fast run but now they will lose it as they turn northwest.
Wild Oats X1

Outside my cave a 'light and variable' breeze has grown over the past hour and a number of small local yachts have been making some progress on the water below. Maybe there is hope for the racing boats yet.

An hour or so ago several helicopters flew over and down the channel to give the  1800 and 1900 News something to see. Sails in the distance! 

With some luck and a freshening breeze I may see them pass by, challenging one another for the lead in the late evening failing light. I could be exciting, even for a non-sailor.

20.35
The slight breeze is struggling to stay alive but when it does stir it is going against the two leading boats which are so far ahead that they are likely to be the only ones in before midnight. Those leaders have rounded the Iron Pot and are in sight of Hobart.  I expect to see a tussle and some real sailoring skills very soon. Hopefully they will still be in the evening light.

Both have 9.0 nms to run and are doing little more than 5kts. Fortunately the tide is coming in !! 

21.45

And the flotilla of somewhere around 75 - 100 boats of all modest sizes escorted Wild Oats X1 to the finish line, in the dark, just ahead of Comanche some half a mile behind. I wanted to get a photo for you but the light had gone and I was treated to something akin to chinese lanterns moving slowly past.

Fortunately a friend was waiting at the Harbour.
Photo by the Frau :)


A new and very emphatic record. Most satisfactory.

There will be partying in the Town tonight and much fizzy wine will flow.



Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Most Momentous Event in All History

Things have been very busy in the Tavern as you might have guessed from the lack of postings. We have been preparing for Christmas and I have been mopping the floor in the Crypt. The bars - our Halls - are 'decked' with  boughs of holly (imported, as we don't have much of it in Oz) and the sounds of lalalalala ring around. And that ain't the finger in the ear sort of lalala we get from beyond the hedge. We take Christmas seriously here. 

And serious it is.  With tinsel too. Few in our 'post-modern', 'post-Christian' society seem to grasp just what a momentous event is celebrated. 


Heaven opened 
and God, the Son, begotten not made, One in substance with The Father through whom all things were made, Himself, came down to Earth. 
Et Homo Factus Est

Not one scientist since then has ever stirred himself to investigate that event.

Those scientist fellows - the new priesthood - busy themselves with finding  invisible quarks and leptons, electrons and 'charms', particles that 'tunnel' and affect one another although light years apart.

People believe them. 

Those scientists have complex runes and hieroglyphics that 'explain the odd 'fact' that while we live in four dimensional space-time, there are at least seven other dimensions that we 'know' of but cannot see or touch, sense or pin down.

People believe them. 

People have 'Faith' in science.


Not only do people believe them but we spend squillions of bucks building underground temples where they can whizz those invisible particles around. And some of those bucks went on a statue. 

Not to Christ. But to a pagan false-god. Shiva.

And the result?  

We have iPhones. 

God gives us Life everlasting.

But people lack faith in and ignore the fact that 


God the Father made Heaven and Earth and all things visible and invisible. 

We accept the earthy part but quite ignore the heaven part. We can't see it. He made all things visible and invisible, but unless a scientist tells us about invisible things mentioned above - and we hang on their every word about them - we shunt all the invisible right out of our heads. 

But what a subject for scientific study ! 

So, what happened at that first Christmas? 

God, in His Trinitarian essence, became a man.  The Son.  He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who together with the father and the Son is adored and glorified - another manifestation of His Trinitarian essence - and born to a young teenage girl, herself pure from birth. 

She, Mary, didn't have an iPhone and she hadn't even  been accepted into Uni.  She was not noted as a party-girl nor  for selfies, even in crayon. She had a boyfriend who had a start-up carpentry business but that was about it.

Not only was she a 'single mum' in post-modern parlance, but she gave birth while enjoying a 'lifestyle' that would horrify women of today, who, faced with a pregancy and having nowhere to live would go off and have an abortion. 

Mary simply said "Do unto me according to Thy will". 

To her if a stable was good enough for Christ it was good enough for her.

She had Faith.

The sky opened. An Angel from that other-dimensional Heaven came down and spoke to some quite startled shepherds. And entire choir of Angels parted the sky, clouds and all, and sang the sheer stupendous news of this event of all events.

A Star had been pointing the way to the stable, we are told. Indeed we are told in many places by many people of the time.  Some were wise and some, like me, were Kings.  You don't believe wise old Kings ??

Scientists tell us it was a comet. Oh, wait, it was a conjunction of planets. Yeah, right.  No. It was a supernova. Sure. They give us pap and nonsense. Keep looking chaps. Listen to the King.


And while you are at it, look into this business of Heaven and Earth being visible even momentarily - well, in enough time for a long series of verses and choruses from the  Angelic choir. They didn't come all that way to be shunted off stage after only one stanza.

Think of all the practice that must have been done. ! 

Christ, the only begotten Son of God Himself, my Supplier, was begotten right there and then. 


The entire history of the Universe balanced on a point and turned.

And not one nation today has a budget line for investigations. No Uni department has a scientist professor looking at the event with a microscope or a synchrotron.  The Large Haldron Collider does not whizz in a prayer for Spiritual Enlightenment. 

And that is not because the entire world is stunned in awe.


It should be.

If you are a customer with Faith, then we raise our glasses. 

Drink deep.

This is the best time of the year.


Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, I shall be treated to two Latin Masses. And another on Christmas Day too.

I count myself to be a most fortunate tavern Keeper.

Pax.

Post-script.

I was asked by a customer who took me aside, about Mary being a single mum (in modern parlance I hastened to make clear). There was also a point about being refugees and so on. The usual. So I had the good Fr. John Zuhlsdorf make the responses.
ASK FATHER: 
Mary was an “unwed mother”? 
The Holy Family were “refugees”?
From a reader…
QUAERITUR:
At this time of year the inevitable ‘Mary was an unwed mother‘ and The Holy Family’s flight into Egypt makes them migrants sermons are very confusing. Can you clarify these interpretations? Or recommend a source that does.I discount them as political or ‘Social Justice’interpretations that use both events to their own purposes, which I think is wrong! A recent example was USCCB using the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe as ‘a day of Solidarity with Migrants’. I see my church becoming way too political. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you!
Yes… this sort of thing is inevitable: force the narrative into an agenda.
1 – Mary was an unwed mother… not.   
The Jewish marriage practice was to make the contract with the bride’s father and pay a bride-price (mohar) and the betrothal was the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony. The bride would remain in her father’s home for up to a year, but she was considered to be married. Joseph would have paid the bride-price at their engagement, when the marriage contract was solemnized, but Mary would have remained in Joachim’s house. They were formally wedded in a ceremony after the angel instructed Joseph in the dream.
So, from the moment Mary was betrothed to Joseph she was legally considered to be the wife of Joseph.  Their relationship was sacred as if they had already had the wedding ceremony.  The bond could not be dissolved except, as after formal marriage, by divorce.
Calling Mary an “unwed mother” is dangerously close to blasphemy.
I stopped well short Fr. 
2 – The Holy Family were “refugees”.   Sort of, but not in the way that liberals want you to believe.
The Holy Family goes first to Nazareth because of the census.   If you are going to your ancestral town mandated census, you are not a refugee.
“But Father! But Father!, libs are squealing, “They were denied a room in the inn.  Those innkeepers were mean refugee hating meanies!  They were undocumented migrants and the haters refused to let them in.   That’s what YOU would do!   That’s because you HATE VATICAN II!”
If you register in the census, you are not “undocumented”.
They weren’t migrants, because they were only there to register and then return home to Nazareth.
They didn’t get to stay at the inn or the khan, because – try to follow this – there was no room at the inn.  Which means there was no room at the inn.   They weren’t give room because there wasn’t any.  If there had been a room, they would have been given a room.  It was customary to take travelers into homes, as when people journeyed to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice.  As Alfred Edersheim explains the denial of a room had nothing to do with their poverty.  The rabbinic teaching was that travelers were to be received as the shekinah should be received.   So, they weren’t rejected because they were poor, or “different” or foreigners, blah blah blah.  The inn or khan was FULL.
The Holy Family went to Egypt.  Why?   Just before the Patron Saint of Planned Parenthood, Herod, ordered the slaughter of all the babies, an angel told Joseph in a dream to take his family to Egypt.   If an angel tells you to do something, you do it.  So, the flight into Egypt was not just due to the awful circumstances caused by Herod, it is also divinely directed because of what Herod was going to do.
Also, they had to to Egypt so that the prophecy would be fulfilled:
That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son. (Matthew 2:15)
So, no, they Holy Family, seeking refuge in Egypt at the specific direction of God, is not the archetype of all refugees today.
If they sought refuge in Egypt, they were, in a sense, “refugees”.  However, they were a) they were three people, not thousands and they were b) fleeing the concrete danger of murder of their Child.  They sought sanctuary.  Moreover, the Holy Family were no threat to the national security of Egypt.  When the danger was over, they went home.
It is interesting to note that the Joseph of Genesis was driven into Egypt, which led to the enslavement of the People. Joseph of the New Testament was driven into Egypt, which led to the salvation of the People.  Herod and Pharaoh both ordered the slaughter of infants. Moses and Jesus both escaped slaughter in Egypt and both led an exodus from bondage.
OK? So all the baying mobs beyond the hedge and the occasional 'unsure' supping some much needed grace in the bar corner, there is your answer.

Pax.







Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hell Was in Session.

Before we move to celebrate the birth of the Greatest Child ever to come forth from a womb, intact, we need to clear the decks and hose out some really dark and dank matters. In Oz the TVs and newspapers have been full of the finalisation of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse. It is a huge report from a huge inquiry that has lasted five years or more.  And thousands were affected. But today we heard a little about just one, and not an Australian. 



I speak of my friend Moira. This is a lady I have refered to occasionally. She plays the harp and she sings. Moira is a splendid lady: a Good Woman. Damned lucky too: she survived.

She did not feature in the Royal Commission because she is not in Oz and wasn't abused by the Catholic Church. And let's face it, the whole intent of the Royal Commission, established by that hateful, nasty, feminist harridan of a Prime Minister, JuLiar Gillard, was to 'get' the Catholic Church. Destroy it's reputation. 

Moira was abused nonetheless. 

She was raised by perverts. Nasty people; wicked people; and would you believe it, quite famous and feted people. 

She has written a book about her upbringing.  

You can find it on Amazon...  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0787XLK4H

The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon 
by Moira Greyland (Author),‎ Vox Day (Foreword)


Marion Zimmer Bradley was a bestselling science fiction author, a feminist icon, and was awarded the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. She was best known for the Arthurian fiction novel THE MISTS OF AVALON and for her very popular Darkover series.

She was also a monster.

You may want to read a review of it before you buy it - and I hope you do both. And we have one at hand.

Into the US Room bar came  a chap I had not had the pleasure of serving an Ale to. His name is Amir Larijani, alias ReconsDad.  He says, of himself: "I’m an American of Kurdish-Iranian descent. While Islam is the religion of my national heritage, I am a Christian. As for my national loyalty, I was born in the United States, and I bleed red, white, and blue. For all her faults, the United States is the greatest country in the world. For a living, I am a systems architect for an outfit in the mid-western United States.

He read the book. He spoke to it for us. I let him tell the customers because he shares a Taverner's respect for bravery, courage, tenacity and strong Character.
The Last Closet: 
Moira Greyland Tells Her Story
In another life, I am very good friends with a retired Marine Corps Colonel who served as a co-van (advisor) in Vietnam; one of my great privileges has been to help him tell his story. He is an advocate for the cause of POWs and veterans with traumatic injuries including PTSD. 
In the course of helping him, I became enamored with the heroism of a select group of POWs: James Stockdale, Jeremiah Denton, Sam Johnson, George Coker, Harry Jenkins, George McKnight, James Mulligan, Howard Rutledge, Robert Shumaker, Ronald Storz, and Nels Tanner.

I am pleased and was pleasantly surprised to hear him refer to Jim Stockdale.  A 'blast from my past'. Jim was a good friend of mine, way back. A fine warrior back in those days (Vice-Admiral). No, I am not name-dropping: neither is Amir.


These POWs resisted the threats, beatings, and other tortures of their captors, and–in some cases–even turned the tables on their captors. (Denton’s and Stockdale’s exploits are the stuff of legend.) They strengthened the morale of other POWs and, as such, represented a special threat to their captors. 
For this reason, they were isolated from everyone else.
They were the Alcatraz Gang.
They didn’t take their abuses lying down; they fought back to the extent that they were able. They would become the standard-bearers for POW conduct: Stockdale would receive the Medal of Honor; Denton and Coker would receive the Navy Cross. Denton and Johnson would even go on to political careers. Denton’s book–When Hell Was In Session–is a classic.
But what does this have to do with Moira Greyland, who–a year older than myself–never saw action in Vietnam?
Moira was every bit the badass as every member of that Alcatraz Gang.
For most of her life, Hell was in session. Her story– The Last Closet– is now in print.
Fair warning: if you have endured and form of ongoing abuse–particularly physical and/or sexual – this book can be triggering, although Moira does a splendid job of providing warnings about very difficult paragraphs.
OK. This is not a book to be given as a Christmas present. But it is worth getting and giving for the new year. 
The daughter of science fiction legend Marion Zimmer Bradley (MZB) and famed numismatic expert Walter Breen (WB), Moira– on the very top of the surface – had a good life. Like her parents, she is very intelligent: a member of Mensa. She has many talents from sewing to singing to fencing and especially the harp.
OTOH, to call her home life horrific would be charitable.
While MZB and WB were very intelligent and accomplished, they were incredibly perverted: WB and MZB were extremely libertine about sex. To them, inhibitions were the result of religious persecution. MZB called marriage “an outdated screwing license.” To WB, homosexuality was the natural state, and heterosexuality was a product of religion. To them, “anything goes” meant “have sex with whomever and however”, including with children.
In WB’s case, especially with young boys.
MZB was abusive both sexually and physically, in many cases using the physical abuse to force her children to provide her with sexual gratification.
To Moira’s credit, she provides about as charitable a presentation of her parents as anyone could. They each were themselves abused sexually and physically; WB was raised by a very abusive Catholic mother, and was bipolar and a paranoid schizophrenic; MZB was herself raped by her father; WB was molested by a Catholic priest.
So he says. It is astonishing just how these perverts will calumnise the Catholic Church. But what does one expect from such a follower of the Prince of Lies.
They each had horrid upbringings that undoubtedly put them behind the 8-ball.
At the same time, Moira, also to her credit, does not excuse their abuses, and in fact lets their record speak for itself: when they were victimized by their parents, that was their parents’ sins. But when WB and MZB chose to abuse their own children–and, sadly, other children–they transcended even the depravity of their parents.
They did this in no small part because each, after enduring their abuses, rejected God. In effect, they said, “God didn’t save us from our parents, so we want no part of that deal.”
Their resultant lives–aside from their professional successes–were a complete descent into the worst of sexual depravity, leaving a trail of damaged lives. Some of their victims, broken from the abuses, would die young from suicide or other forms of self-abuse. Others would fight off various addictions and hangups for years.
Moira struggles with complex PTSD to this day, and probably will for decades to come.
(I am aware of complex PTSD because a family member on MrsLarijani’s side, also a sexual abuse survivor at the hands of her father, described that form of PTSD to me recently, as she has undergone much therapy and has even started her own initiatives to educate people in her profession about PTSD issues. And some of her reactions to certain things are similar to what I know from a friend of mine from my SBTS days who–also abused in such a fashion–experiences the same reactions.)
Here are my takes:
(1) Moira is brutally honest, even about herself. I’ve always contended that, if you’re going to recover from abuses–no matter how terrible they are–you must be willing to face the truth. 
She shows a lot more courage in her honesty than she credits herself. 
That also is probably why, in spite of suffering more than even her parents did, she is a Christian today whereas her parents rejected God altogether.
Moira is not just a 'christian'. She is a Catholic.
She was not perfect in her life; the abuses she endured left her with thin, marginally-existent boundaries. That led her to a level of experimentation in her teen and adult life that could have led to disaster. It also weakened her ability to see which men had her best interests in mind when they pursued her.
Thankfully, she escaped from that with a comparatively moderate level of self-inflicted baggage. I’ve seen people suffer far less than she did and make far worse decisions, and never learn from them.
(2) Moira shows, in stark, stomach-turning detail, the telos of the Sexual Revolution.

Her father, WB, was one of the early movers and shakers in NAMBLA, which promotes “man-boy love”; i.e. pederasty. They were the ones who coined the slogan “sex before eight or it’s too late”. Their view: pederasty is the purest form of love, and will prepare boys for adulthood.
Her mother was herself very “uninhibited”: she was a lesbian, but had many liaisons with men, multiple partners, etc. MZB and WB were polyamorous.
There were no sexual boundaries in her home. Nudity was expected; 
any expression of affinity for heterosexuality was met with hard criticism and derision; 
orgies were common; 
and MZB molested both Moira and Patrick frequently.
Every time Moira brought a boyfriend home, her father would pursue him for sex.
Her parents, obsessed with sex, dehumanized their children. Emotional support was all but nonexistent, with MZB always living on the edge of rage and WB lacking the stones to stand up to her. MZB, rather than being supportive of her daughter and complimenting her on her singing skills, was always hitting her with hard criticism. Moira could never be right about anything. WB, in contrast, was passive and often distant, chiding Moira for being a prude.
Early on, when Moira tried to report WB to police, her complaints fell on deaf ears. It was not until the late 1980s when, with the help of a counselor, she was able to successfully intervene on behalf of a child that WB was molesting.
Moira does a wonderful job articulating the whole problem with the paradigm of “consent”, even among adults, and why, even in libertine arrangements, it isn’t as cut-and-dried as the word connotes.
(3) Moira does a great job articulating the problem with gay “marriage”, and masterfully destroys the notion that sexual orientation is unchangeable. While Moira does not condemn gay people, she does confront the profound level of toxicity and dysfunction that is inherent in that lifestyle. That has rankled many in the sci-fi community who otherwise supported her, but that is her strength: Moira is, if nothing else, a truth teller.
My only criticism of her book: I wish she had shared more detail with respect to the spiritual side of her journey. She does point out that she became a Christian in her teen years, and she does a good job quoting Scripture in context in describing various situations. But other than that, not a whole lot about that side of her life.
In fairness to her, though, it could be that it’s still too early in her recovery–and the wounds are still raw–for her to do an adequate assessment of that.
—–
In this review, I do not refer to Moira by initials or even by last name; I call her by her first name. There is a purpose for that.

One of the things Moira struggles with is the depersonalization that she suffered at the hands of her abusers. 
She was effectively a nobody. 
She wasn’t allowed to have a personality; she wasn’t even allowed to have a sexual identity: her father wanted her to look neither masculine nor feminine; her mother eschewed all semblance of femininity.
I will end this with a note to Moira:
Moira, you have a name. And, given that you are in Christ, you have a gift that no one can take from you.
That is important, as your parents failed you on just about every relevant front, not just sexually. While, through their successes, they were material providers, they failed to provide a stable, loving home life that even mediocre parents provide their children. Even worse, they subjected you to the most dehumanizing of abuses, stealing from you what was never theirs to receive let alone take.
Thankfully, in Christ, you have a reward that will never perish, nor shall any man (or woman) take it from you.
Some may ask why God didn’t stop the abuses. 
Almost every survivor of profound hardship will wrestle with that question. There are various theological answers based on particular schools of thought, most of which don’t rise to the level of useless.
My take: your experiences, Mark’s experiences, and every experience of every one of their victims, will be a witness against them on the day of judgment. There will be a day when they will receive the payback for their atrocities. And as the saying goes about payback, it is, in fact, a Biblical truth.
On the upside: your perseverance will also be a witness on the day of judgment. Jesus Himself said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give to them eternal life. Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
Your parents, having suffered a great deal in their childhoods, rejected God on account of what was taken from them. Their thinking was, in spite of their God-given intelligence, short-sighted and temporal. The results were tragic.
Your parents took a lot of things from you, including most of what was your earthly identity. You are recovering that, even if–at times–the progress comes in inches rather than miles, and takes years where you are used to accomplishing things in hours and minutes.
Having said that, the identity that matters most–the fact that Jesus has your name written on his hands–no one can take that away.
You were raised by two of Satan’s most devoted worker bees. 
Their abuses went far beyond sexual, although those alone were worse than horrid enough in their own right. They did everything they could to indoctrinate you in a secular paradigm that would gross out most hedonists. They tortured you like the Communists tortured American POWs in Vietnam.
But, by the grace of God, you fought back against your captors in a way that would have made James Bond Stockdale and Jeremiah Denton proud.
I know you don’t always feel like you acted with courage. But you did. In spades.
Hell was in session, and the gates of Hell lost.
You have fought valiantly, and have prevailed. There are still battles to fight, and there will always be times when those demons rear their ugly heads. But you will prevail, not because of great works you have done, but because you received Him who does great works.
Keep fighting the good fight!
Many a pint was shouted for Amir this day, I can tell you.

And many a glass raised to the courage and fortitude of the Good Woman, Moira Greyland (now with 'Peat' added), who took on the devil's disciples and won. 

I am pleased she considers me her friend too.

Pax.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Presents Time Again.

It is all too often left to the last minute. Just what can you give a chap or chapess who has far more than you do? My Christmas list always start with the three things I am not likely to ever get unless by some miracle.....So I shall pass over #2 and 3: the ten million bucks and the sporty aeroplane again. I still hold out hope for the first.

I was out and over the hedge today scouring the consumer palaces in the sinful city, the teeming metropolis, and was fortunate to acquire some quite nice things for those I am close to. I have to keep those secret though.

Meanwhile, as usual this time of the year,  Tavern customers have suggested some stocking fillers and perhaps some pleasant surprises for waking up to on Christmas morning (that did not include Rose from Dr Who).

So, let us see what they have come up with. The travellers amongst them seemed to like this one.



MY TRAVEL SCRATCH MAP

Fancy yourself as a bit of a globe trotter? Heading towards the Ten Million Miles Club like George Clooney? Then don’t waste time showing off by sticking pins in world maps - get yourself a My Travel Scratch Map!

Brilliant in its simplicity, this smart wall map depicts the world in all its jiggidy, jaggedy continent covered glory. So far, so what? Well here’s the clever bit: the land masses are covered in foil that can be scratched off to reveal the countries you’ve visited. Let’s see…New Zealand, Hong Kong, France…and oh yes, Timbuktu, erm somewhere...


Don’t worry if you’re not exactly Phileas Fogg in the travel stakes. The thought of scratching off new destinations serves as a great incentive to pack your suitcase. Failing that, lie. Just make sure you’ve got a good story if you scratch off Antarctica. Happy trails!

Not that many Oz folk go to colder climes for Christmas when there is a BBQ on the beach to be had. And what does a BBQ need?

CUSTOM BBQ BRANDING IRON

It's called the Custom BBQ Branding Iron because you can customise what you brand onto your steak!

That's right, folks! The 52 interchangeable letters means you can change what you brand onto your meat. Will you brand each steak with the owner's name? What about branding a cheeky message onto your friend's steak? 

It's so easy to use. Simply:
Choose the letters for the message you'd like to brand
Slide the letters into the Branding Iron
Heat the Iron
Press Iron down onto the steak
Hold for 10 - 15 seconds
Voila! Branded Steak!


A great way to keep track of which steak is for whom, so you never give the 'Rare' to Mr. Well Done ever again! A practical novelty BBQ gift for backyard BBQ Kings and Queens.

And Knights and Tavern Keepers of course, I shall have on mine........
The Knight & Drummer Tavern.

A problem always arises though around BBQs. Flies. So.....


FLY ASSASSIN | FLY GUN SWATTER

When the mercury starts warming up, do you find yourself with the swatter out instead of a nice cold drink? Flies are annoying, gross and for some, a challenge. Get your game face on and go into this fight with a real fly weapon. This Fly Assassin Gun Swatter is fast, fun and guaranteed to get you results.

Features:
Get rid of that annoying buzz
Fun, fast and effective
Great for the office

Safety string so the dart doesn’t fly far.

Mind you how are we to know if the day will be right for a BBQ? We need some sort of weather predictor.



FITZROY'S STORM GLASS | TEARDROP

The storm glass was developed by Admiral Robert Fitzroy and used on his historic voyage with Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle.


Darwin actually stepped ashore not 500 metres from my cave. 
Not many people know that.

The unique liquid inside the sealed tear drop responds to changes in the weather, allowing the observer to forecast the possibility of storms, snow, wind, rain or clear skies. Although modern meteorology is far more accurate, these elegant glasses still hold aesthetic appeal.

Fitzroy spent years carefully documenting how the specific mixture inside the storm glass would respond to changes in the the weather:
If the liquid in the glass is clear, the weather will be bright and clear.
If the liquid is cloudy, the weather will be cloudy as well, perhaps with precipitation.
If there are small dots in the liquid, humid or foggy weather can be expected.
A cloudy glass with small stars indicates thunderstorms.
If the liquid contains small stars on sunny winter days, then snow is coming.
If there are large flakes throughout the liquid, it will be overcast in temperate seasons or snowy in the winter.
If there are crystals at the bottom, this indicates frost.
If there are threads near the top, it will be windy.
This Tear Drop Storm Glass comes with an elegant stand, making it a wonderful gift and a conversational room ornament.

FEATURES
Great gift for science geeks
Predict the weather by observing the changes in the size and shape of the liquid crystals
Stylish and beautifully designed
Comes with elegant stand & beautifully gift boxed
SPECIFICATIONS
Dimensions: 24 cms tall including stand
Material: Glass

What do people drink at a BBQ, when the beer is all gone? The 'correct' Oz chap with some class will take that timeless beverage - Tea.


DOCTOR WHO TARDIS TEAPOT

Is your teatime a little dull? Don't you wish you could be sipping tea aboard the Tardis? We do... but we'll add that we hope that it's not choppy on the time-stream because we don't want to scald ourselves. Nothing's worse than the combination of hot tea and astral turbulence.

You may need to get ahold of one of these toot sweet maties as changes are afoot: the next Doc is to be a woman !! She may well want a new paint job - Pink !! -  and a blue Tardis may be a collector's item.

FEATURES
For the Earth beverage known as tea
Lid helps keep the heat in so you don't have to reheat between cups
Drink up and escape to a different time
Great gift for Doctor Who fans

Proper Taverners though will want some of the Good Stuff and I recommend coasters under your glass. Here are some splendidly blokey ones. I am ordering twenty dozen m'self.

MINI WOODEN PALLET COASTERS – SET OF FOUR 

Wooden pallets are the trendy, new age life accessory that recyclers, trendsetters and everyone in-between can’t get enough of. Creating a classy, minimalistic edge in any environment, wooden pallets have been turned into all manner of household furniture from coffee tables to deck chairs. However, if your house is already crammed full and you really don’t have any room for this hip and happening d├ęcor display, then these coasters are the perfect solution. 

Made to resemble their full size big brothers, these mini pallets are prefect for hot and cold beverages alike. So get your hipster on, spread the pallet appreciation and add a trace of industrial chic to your home.

FEATURES
A set of four mini pallets for hot and cold drinks
Industrial chic, perfect for any living space
Stay trendy and acknowledge your inner hipster

And when your eyes get a tad bleary, you may need these....

MIMICRO MINI MICROSCOPE

Have you ever had a close look at a five dollar bill? A REALLY close look? What about the wing of a butterfly? Or even the back of your hand? Turn your world upside down with this pocket-sized miraculous microscope. Explore invisible worlds you’ve never experienced and reveal hidden details full of beauty, weirdness and wonder.

The MiMicro magnifies objects by 60x their original size. When turned on, a soft light illuminates your subjects and the focus wheel helps you find maximum details. There is even a built in black light; bank notes and even some bird feathers become magical patterns of light when viewed under this UV light. Included is a handy LED torch available for times of need as well as a soft pouch for storing. Children and grownups of all ages will never tire of exploring these unseen worlds. So prepare to have your mind blown with wonder as you start your adventure into the unseen.

FEATURES
Illuminates and magnifies objects to 60x their size
Pocket size and super powerful
White and UV illuminating lights will brighten up any subject

Nothing can escape your super stare!

There, those should keep you entertained. But for the really lonely chap over in the corner, all on his tod, a girlfriend might be appreciated. Someone give him one of these.

GROW A GIRLFRIEND 

Looking for the girl of your dreams? Psst, want a girlfriend without the pesky dating, silly questions, nagging, jewelry and - gasp - mother-in-laws? With Grow A Girlfriend novelty toy, all you have to do is add water!

FEATURES
Perfect gag gift for a mate
Grow the perfect girl within 72 hours
Yes, she will not nag!

INSTRUCTIONS 

1. Put your girlfriend in a jar or container full of clean water at room temperature to watch it start growing
2. Note that the water temperature should be between 59-95 °F or 15-35°C
3. Do not expect instant results as it takes up to 72 hours to fully expand
4. Take it out of the water to watch it shrink back to its original size.

You can find these and more, with some prices too at....




But don't tell'em I sent you.

Of course, YOU might have some other gift ideas.

Tell us.

My own choices may differ from yours but some of the things I see at a friend's place could fit someone's bill. Take a look...



Drink Up.

Choose wisely.

Pax.