Friday, October 31, 2008


Well, I don't know about the future, but the guy sure has the present pretty well wrapped up.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Every now and then I have a little "what the he..?" moment and think, Good GRIEF! I'm living in Rome! They normally come when I am deeply immersed in something like an article or a book or something and I momentarily stop thinking about the fact that the roar of traffic I'm hearing is not somewhere mundane and prosaic like Vancouver or Toronto, but Roman traffic.

Just had one a moment ago when I looked up from what I was doing at the sound of bells.

It's St. Peter's Basilica ringing for tonight's Papal Mass.

Status: slightly weirded out.

V. Busy

Too much to do today and not enough time to do it.

Stuff arrived safely this morning with not a single teacup broken and no "carrying fee" demanded by the rather surly driver and only two days late.

I am sure everything they say about Italian workmen is true, but all I can say is that St. Philip must like me best.

Have not yet unearthed typewriter, or the little computer gizmo one uses to take pictures off one's camera and put them on the internet, so...


Glorious pics to come.

Now. I'm busy so go away and read a book or do something important.

Go on. Shoo.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Soooooo embarrassing

"...follows growing calls in Ireland for future EU treaties to be ratified without a referendum to avoid embarrassing no votes and the prospect of re-runs."

Just what part of 'no' don't these Euros get?

Hitler wanted to try it, but didn't dare.

This in from Open Europe:

Commission wants EU-wide smoking ban

The European Commission is planning to start consultations on an EU-wide smoking ban in bars and cafés, EUobserver reports. EU Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, quoted in EUobserver, said that any ban would not come into place until the next Commission is appointed, and explained that the planned discussions on a blanket ban were "to start the debate and get the ball rolling". Currently only a minority of EU states have imposed a smoking ban in workplaces.

Spidla's a real prize isn't he?

I knew I had come to the right place on Monday when I arrived at the Rome office and the Monsignore in charge broke off in mid-sentence and said, "Would you like a cigarette?"


More offerings from our in-house versifier.

I got to Fiumicino on Friday, Oct. 22. It was growing increasingly chilly and autumnal in Cheshire. Not so Roma. It was easy to spot the people coming from Birminham airport. We were all blinking in the sun like bewildered moles dug out of our holes, pastey-faced and carrying our coats over our arms.
You will not (I trust) think it moronic
To insist that this heatwave is chronic.
It's so stifling hot
That you can't do a lot
But pour out yet one more gin and tonic.

We've had quite a bit of rain and yesterday, as I was wandering around the area surrounding the Vatican, I wished once or twice that I had worn my (lightweight) woolen coat I picked up from Marks and Spencer. Biiiiig thunderstorm last night over the Tyrrhenian sea, the flashes lighting up the whole dome of the sky and the palms whipping back and forth in the wind. But it is back to sultry and warm today.

It's Ok. We didn't get any summer in Blighty this year, so it's nice to have it now. What's funny is all the Romans dressed up in quilted coats and jumpers, scarves and gloves. And it's 23 degrees.

Now you may disapprove of my plan
To betray Princess Leia and Han,
But I have to comply
With the dark-armored guy,
Or my whole world will go down the pan.

If the Tsar had not entered the war,
His realm might have remained as before.
Soon the princes were dead,
And their Russia was red,
And the Christian West was no more.

We were watching the Italian news last night and there was some silly student protest going on, something about the government asking all the immigrant students who come here to learn Italian before they go to regular classes.

I remarked to my friend, "It's too bad Antonio Gramsci didn't live to see this. It would have warmed the cockles of his black little heart".

What is conservatism?

Living in Britain, I soon realised that the English, even those who work in their "pro-life" "movement", have been so brainwashed for so long that they cannot recognise ordinary conservatism and automatically regard any political or economic idea that is anything other than the Maoist playlist they are used to hearing from the BBC as "fascism".

So, in the interests of public education, I offer a short lesson in what a coherent conservative political and economic position looks like:

Thanks Kathy

Defender of Faiths

CallmeTony tells us what to believe

"The Foundation will expressly not be about chucking faith into a doctrinal melting pot. It is not about losing our own distinctive faith."

Tony Blair, Westminster Cathedral, 3 April 2008

"Faith is the belief that human kindness is at the core of our souls. Therefore, it doesn't matter what faith you believe in. What matters is that we all have the ability to use our faiths as a positive catalyst for peace and goodwill in our increasingly interdependent world."

Amanda and Anna from Connecticut, USA, who are organising a huge multi-faith concert in December at Yale University as part of [the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's] Faiths Act campaign

Hands up everyone who says "go".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Offer they Can't Refuse

So, in the EU, who gets to play Lucca Brasi?

Top EU official says partners are tired of "difficult" Irish;
Warns Ireland it must ratify soon in order to save its "image"

According to the Irish Independent, Ireland's highest-ranking EU civil servant, Catherine Day, has said that Ireland's 'no' vote has tarnished the country's image and damaged its ability to influence the EU. She told a parliamentary Committee on Ireland's Future on Wednesday that when Irish representatives at meetings try to voice concerns on issues other than Lisbon, the mood among other delegates is that "the Irish are being difficult" again. Day, who is the Secretary General of the European Commission, claimed the Irish government was not coming under any "undue pressure" to make a final decision, but added, "I do not believe that Ireland's image has been tarnished irrevocably, provided we are able to ratify in a reasonable time period."

She said she didn't think it was politically conceivable that the EU would "throw away" eight years of work because the Irish don't want to proceed. She said, "There is a sense of concern and frustration in other member states. Many years of debating went into it. I think the other member states are very keen to accommodate Ireland in providing reassurances. I don't see any willingness to re-open the treaty. The goodwill does not go so far as to changing the treaty."


My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse.


Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains -- or his signature -- would be on the contract.

...But of course, we mean it in the nicest possible way...
Such is the prevalence of sex education in schools that it seems to me that any British teenager, unless educated at home and a member of some obscure religious sect, already has sufficient knowledge by the age of 14 to lead a UN birth control programme in a small African nation.”

And, oddly enough, Britain still has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe.

Very odd that.

EU Regulations

This in from Open Europe:

Rate of EU regulations skyrockets
A report from TaxPayers' Alliance has found that that there are currently 16,980 EU laws and regulations in force in the UK and they are increasing at a rate of 2,000 a year. The study also argues that the UK Government's tendency to 'goldplate' EU regulations lead to unnecessary high costs to British businesses. A leader in the Sun argues, "It's not just the astonishing 9,500 new laws imposed by Brussels over the last ten years. It's the gleeful fanaticism with which Whitehall's Euro-fundamentalists enforce every new edict, no matter how petty or patently potty. Not to mention the absurdly disproportionate penalties they dish out to transgressors."

No EU regulations in Italy. least...there might be, but who can tell?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Status: Eternal

Yep. Rome is still here. It's still pretty much the same. More or less.

I suppose that's why they call it that.

The damn cobbles are ruining my new shoes. Other than that, everything's more or less OK.

Wandered across St. Peter's square last night, saw the Pope's office lights were on and so figured he was too busy to chat and didn't ring.

Pics later.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Facebook status update

Hilary is wound up so tightly that if you plucked her, she would emit a sound that would bring down buildings.

Hilary is listening to Hendrix and feeling slightly better.

I knew there was a reason I had a crush on Andrew

I know next to nothing about finance and economics, but since stock prices which had previously been ridiculously inflated are now falling to their actual value: isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t we be glad the correction is finally happening and shouldn’t we have wished it had come sooner? Isn’t this something that should provoke a sigh of relief? Doesn’t all this panic on Wall Street make the financiers look like a bunch of little girls?

The net tightens

This in from Open Europe:

French Europe Minister Jouyet: "More Europe is needed"

In an interview with La Croix, French Europe Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet says that Paris is in favour of creating European regulatory authorities for each main sector of financial activity. He told the paper, "The idea today is to advance together on all these sectors to arrive, in time, with the emergence of specific authorities for each of these." He suggested that, "more Europe is needed in the financial sector."

Something popped into my mind when I read this. I don't remember which book it was, but some time ago now, maybe 15 years ago, I went through a phase of being interested in what the Church has to say about exorcism and demonic possession. I have always remembered the description one person gave of what it is like, on the inside, to be possessed.

The person receives a suggestion and gives some measure of consent. The suggestion is never to possession, but to some smaller, less obviously threatening thing that gives the demon a foothold in the person's soul. Then the influence spreads and strengthens, gradually overcoming the person's will and ability to resist.

The passage I particularly recall was that of a woman who said that the final moment came when she felt a kind of net surround her, wrapping itself around her like a web of immense strength. In a few moments, she said that it had entirely engulfed her and was tightening all over her so that she could not move or take any action that the net itself was not directing. She was trapped.

In the final stages, I remember reading, a complete possession is often undetectable since nothing of the person's will remains and little of the original personality is able to be expressed.

I don't know quite why, but the news snippet about the Eurocrats demanding more control of the European financial markets reminded me of this story.

Says it all

PinkNews is offering to those in same-sex civil partnerships a how-to guide for gay divorce.

There's something funny, and very telling, that among the grounds for the dissolution of a same-sex civil partnership is, "adultery".

"OK guys. Sit down and let me explain some things to you..."

Finished freaking out

Word of advice.

Don't move to a foreign country.

Or at least, do it only when you've got such a large bank balance that you can solve every problem by throwing money at it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not fishing

Am definitely freaking out now.

Is there some rule that says moving and shipping companies are dens of thieves liars and swindlers?

And if there is, why didn't I get the memo?

I think I'm coming down with Tourette's.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Not freaking out


Not one little bit.

And I am definitely not watching Matt Harding "Regular-Bloke-Makes-the-World-Smile" videos over and over again to make myself feel less freaked out.

Not even a titch.

How to get people to dance badly around the world.

The man with the best job in the world.

The outtakes are pretty good too:

Last Mass

As I arrived, the congregation was finshing the Gloria, and so I missed the twenty minutes of chattering and socialising that the Council, apparently, said should replace the introit.

I listened to the readings.

Then listened to the homily, about how the people who work for peace should be like Desmond Tutu and Mahatma Ghandi. I'm afraid I missed the end part because of the noise of my teeth grinding together.

Then we had the warm friendly intercessions about peace. And how the love of God has nothing to do with Ruuuuules, and we pray that all the peaceful people who work for peace will feel the nice warm peace of God...

Then I left.

Because I thought it unwise to allow the nice lady who takes up the collection (last week fifty pounds for CAFOD ! ) to be killed by the daggers coming from my eyes.

I shall not miss Fr. Birkenstock, Fr. Fluffhead, Fr. Marshmallow or Fr. Cottoncandy.

Not at all.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hah! it was a trick question

Funny that the Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland had nothing to say about, for example, the sanctity of human life made in the image of God, or maybe the Church's teaching on procured abortion, or Evangelium vitae, or...

anything religious at all.

Why do I get the feeling that the Irish bishops are just another secular political party? That the DUP has more religious devotion than the Bishop's party?

I wonder.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pop quiz: name that political party

OK, pop political quiz.

Read the following media release and tell me which Northern Irish political party produced it:

“In the coming weeks Members of Parliament in Westminster will be debating the final stages of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. This Bill has far reaching ethical implications. As part of this debate a number of MPs, not from Northern Ireland and acting contrary to the express wishes of the majority of people in Northern Ireland, intend to use the debate to introduce an amendment which would extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

“We appeal to every person of goodwill to reject this attempt to set aside the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland. After years of intensive negotiation for a political settlement here it would be most regrettable should the Westminster Parliament now fail to uphold a fundamental value which has consistently united the main traditions on the island of Ireland.

“Last year, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Shaun Woodward MP, stated that the Northern Ireland Assembly is the ‘best forum for discussion of these questions.’ We wholeheartedly agree with this position and ask that Members of Parliament work to ensure that any future debate on the law on abortion in Northern Ireland is solely the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“All the main political parties in Northern Ireland have expressed their opposition to the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act. We ask all Westminster MPs to take account of the clear position of the Northern Ireland political parties who represent the strongly held conviction of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, by voting against the amendment. We ask Westminster MPs to respect the particular cultural, historical and political circumstances of Northern Ireland and to avoid any action which may be seen as intruding on the carefully negotiated settlement of political aspiration, representative participation and human rights here.”

a) Ulster Unionist Party
b) Democratic Unionist Party
c) Progressive Unionist Party
d) United Kingdom Independence Party
e) United Unionist Coalition
f) Social Democratic and Labour Party
g) Sinn Féin
h) Fianna Fáil

i) none of the above.

If 'i', what party is it, and why?

Bonus question:

What issue(s) in the debate does it carefully not mention?

Have to do a paradigm shift.

In the last year, I have had a huge struggle getting to church on Sunday. The offerings at the hovel parish in the village is...well...let's just say, not very inspirational. (Except inasmuch as they tend to inspire in me a blinding rage and an almost irresistible urge to shout out "suggestions" from the back.)

I got a lift to the real Extraordinary Mass as often as possible. In this diocese we have what I like to call the Latin Mass Travelling Road Show where the Mass is held in a different church every week, in villages and towns all over the local area, none of which are accessible by bus.

In desperation, and with a strange sense of becoming spiritually anorexic, I thought hard about the options. No car means public transit. Which, on Sundays in the rural areas pretty much doesn't exist. That means moving. But this is England, and wherever you go, you're still in the same vast, thirsty and punishing wastes of English Novusordoism.

It also means that the only options are the cities, of which the local ones aren't all that inspiring: Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, the triumvirate that is associated quite justly with the Dark Satanic Mills of literature, and in my own memories with a monochromatic and soul-deadening greyness that crushes even the liveliest of spirits.

Other than that, we have London. Yes. Ah. Right.

So, Rome it is then.

The other day, I was looking at pictures of Solemn Vespers at the Toronto Oratory, a service to which I had grown quite devoted over the years. I found myself idly wondering if I would be able to get back to it in Rome.

Then I stopped, and shook my head.

"Hilary," I said, "it's Rome". The lean season will shortly be over. You will put a little spiritual flesh back on these starveling bones.

There are 900 Catholic churches within the Aurelian walls.

I mentioned my longing to return to Sunday vespers to a friend who lives there and he said, with what I think may have been studied casualness, "Well, St. Peter's might do."


St. Peter's Basilica might do.


Sorry. Blogging is going to remain intermittent and not very interesting for a while, I fear. But things are finally starting to jell. The movers will be here on Tues and we've settled on a price. Winnie is being taken care of for the 21 days she has to wait after her rabies shots to be brought over. Which is good, because it will take me that long to put enough money in the bank to pay the pet transport company anyway.

My little house wot I love so much is a forlorn sight with boxes stacked up to the ceiling and the kitchen half in and half out of packing cases.

But the reality is slowly hitting home. I'm moving to another country. Again. I hope I don't make a habit of it.

Still, once you're in Rome, where is there left to go except down?

Speaking of which, I thought this was quite a hopeful sign.

Vatican and Italian Police Stop and Seize Passports of Roman Catholic Womenpriests Advocates and Activists

ROME, Italy - Yesterday, at 6:00 o'clock, the Italian police stopped representatives of Catholic organizations from around the world as they walked into St. Peter's Square to deliver a petition calling for the restoration of women's ordination to the diaconate. The group was holding a banner saying "Ordain Catholic Women" and handing out educational materials. A total of thirteen members of the Italian and Vatican police gathered to question the eleven representatives. After taking their materials, the Italian police demanded their passports and called the Vatican police, who sent their chief.


"Our peaceful action did not merit the extreme reaction of the police-sending the chief down to interrogate us while seizing our passports," stated Aisha Taylor, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference. "However, I was not surprised. Time and again, when it comes to women's role in the Church, the Vatican overreacts and demonstrates just how fearful they are about the growing support for women's ordination. "

Wow. Imagine being trapped in the 70s for the rest of your life.

Duck Call

"Put de duck in the chuuuuute"

* ~ * ~ *

Trying to reach you by phone.


Am losing the ability to dial a telephone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Election Snoozies

It looks like a lot of us just kind of forgot there was an election on yesterday. And not all of them live on other continents:

I watched some of the coverage, but wow: politics really is show biz for ugly people. Arnie and I mostly made fun of people's hairdos without really listening to the returns. And Canadian media are still using giant black headphones and stuff that look like they got them at a USSR tv studio rummage sale.

I decided my time was better spent watching The Gene Krupa Story for the third time.

It doesn't matter to me who rules the nation. I plan to carry on as I have been, violating Section 13 and thus rendering it unenforcable through attrition.

Rick McGinnis:

Did you know...?

what they've done with the former home of the Canadian War Museum?

That's right - the "Global Centre for Pluralism," which "seeks to assist the creation of successful societies and was founded on the premise that tolerance, openness and understanding towards the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are now essential to the survival of an interdependent world."

Kathy comments: "That pretty much says it all, I think."

The Steyn:

reminisces about when Canadian elections were at least good for a laugh.

But, after the last couple of months, nuts to that. Mr. Martin went out in as graceless and classless a way as possible, presiding over a scorched earth campaign strategy whose viciousness was matched only by its witlessness. By the end, he seemed almost literally unhinged, his arms swinging loose, flailing wildly as he denounced Stephen Harper for an "extreme right-wing agenda." When you asked him to name specific examples of the extreme right-wingery, he'd cite the Tories' opposition to Kyoto or same-sex marriage. Three years ago, Mr. Martin was supposedly opposed to same-sex marriage and shared Mr. Harper's reservations about Kyoto. Was Paul an extreme right-winger back then?

Heigh-ho, even if he was, by January 2006 environmentally friendly gay nuptials had been added to the Trudeaupian roll call of eternal "Canadian values" and Mr. Martin was all that stood between them and the neocon Bush stooge Harper's destruction thereof. As they say at Canada Steamship Lines, any port in a storm or when tax time nears, and Cap'n Paul was running up flags of convenience on an almost daily basis.

I think what this election needed was a few outrageous attack ads. Remember those really hilarious ones put out by the Libs last time? And the attack ad parodies. Man that was a good time.

John Carriere also finds little to add to previous elections commentary... republishing my comment on the last provincial election. Although this election is federal, I find it applies.
The Party of Dirty Statist Pigs ('A') beat the Party of Dirty Statist Pigs ('B') in Ontario's thirty-ninth general Election.

'Twas a landslide for Dirty Statists ('A'), although we the Decent Citizens of Ontario, victims of the landslide, find that when one is to be crushed in a shower of falling muck, one finds it largely immaterial which particular brand of filth it is under which one labours.

Hence the record low turn-out. Half did not exercise their vote.

And for a bunch of the rest of us, the whole business just kind of slipped our minds.

Don't Panic

Time for a little poetry.

This just in from our in-house verisfier.

An uncouth academic called Barlow
Once taught lit in a college in Harlow.
He said: "Yes, you may rave
Saying Shakespeare's your fave,
But, quite frankly, I much prefer Marlowe."

It's my Death Star; I know how to man it.
If you have an objection, just can it.
For I'm setting the pace:
Tell me, where is your base?
Or this station will blow up your planet.

A musician who sang a cappella,
A most hapless but sensitive feller,
Driving home in a fog
Killed his landlady's dog,
And was quite at a loss how to tell 'er.

He suggests a new masthead for the blog when we make the transition:


Church, State and Gelato from the Capital of the World

Symbolic, but of what?

MEPs have today adopted the EU's anthem, flag and motto - meaning they will be flown on all European Parliament buildings and displayed in all European Parliament meeting rooms and at official events.

The anthem, based on the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, will be performed at the opening ceremony after each European election and at formal European Parliament sittings where heads of state are present.

The motto, "United in diversity", will be reproduced on all Parliament's official documents.

As PA reports, in reality the vote changes little - the flag and the anthem have been the EU's symbols since 1985.

But the decision to use them all the more - despite their removal from the Lisbon Treaty - shows just how cosmetic the changes to the original EU Constitution really were.

The Government justified not holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on the grounds it was "substantially different" from the original Constitution, because of the removal of references to the EU symbols. The MEPs' vote today proves the changes are absolutely meaningless in reality.

While I was looking the other way

So, in the last few days I've really done little more than put things in boxes and put the boxes in stacks. And worry. Lots of that. In fact, it was the worrying that finally motivated me to start putting things in boxes. Better make myself so completely exhausted that not even the gut-wrenching anxiety I'm experiencing can keep me awake. It's working, sort of. At least, I'm staying up till 4 am usefully putting things in boxes rather than just lying in bed worrying.


Like Ernie the cabbie, I'm no expert, but what's been going on in the last week or so has all the earmarks of a massive government take-over.

Since I've been otherwise occupied, I see that the British government has bought all the banks.

Good for Gordon.

I read the headlines on the papers before I wrapped the china with them.

It's 1929 and Jimmy Stewart saves his father's business, the Bailey Building and Loan, with his own money. And Mr. Potter saves the bank with his money. So, which do you think Gordon is? George Bailey or Mr. Potter?

At least Old Man Potter used his own money.

Uncle Mike and I were having a cuppa the other day and looking over the Mail and he said that years ago, a friend of his predicted that some day in this country there would just be "The Bank", in the way now that there is the NHS. That day seems to have come.

And it looks like I'm not the only one to notice.

This is from the Letters page of the Times:
Unconstitutional government action over banking leaves citizens powerless
Sir – The Government elected in 2005 had no manifesto commitment to nationalise insolvent banks, or socialise the capital markets' losses.

Yet this was done without a vote in Parliament. How can this be constitutional or democratic? What recourse has the British citizen to protect his historic liberties?
Nirj Deva MEP (Con) Brussels

Sir – Are David Cameron and the Tory party all on holiday?
Michael Hinchliffe Smeeth, Kent

Sir – Surely it is time to appoint a truth and reconciliation commission to hear the confessions and apologies of Britain's top bankers. Keith Flett London N17

Sir – £37 billion, £500 billion – these sums are presented as the way to rescue banks that failed by their own mismanagement. If such vast sums are suddenly available, why were we constantly told there was no money for state pensioners, medicines or the arts?

George Jonas, who I have learned is always right about everything, says not to blame capitalism.

Election results matter a great deal, but in one sense they don't, because all political parties in Canada are in the grip of the same panic. Make this the hemisphere, make it the Western world -- the whole world, come to think of it. "When in doubt, panic," is an old rule of thumb for all living beings, from stampeding buffalo to stampeding humans. Having been pitched headlong into doubt, panic we did.

What happened? We were merrily sauntering along our paths of confident prosperity, when suddenly the Earth opened and swallowed us -- or at least made 20%-25% of our "value" vanish into what might be a bottomless pit. Modern capitalism, which was supposed to be "not like your father's capitalism," turned out to be very much like your father's capitalism, after all. When it was out of kilter, it adjusted itself with a huge jolt.

When markets adjust, they behave like tectonic plates. They shift suddenly as they react to pressure, trading their glacial speed for tsunamis or volcanic outbursts. At times markets act like jet stream cores running through air masses, conjuring up moments of clear air turbulence (CAT) that can cause an aircraft cruising serenely at altitude to drop a thousand feet in a matter of seconds. When CAT hits the jolt can be awesome, but it doesn't signify that the sky isn't the ideal place for flight, just as the devastation of fissures or eruptions doesn't suggest that the Earth isn't the best place on which to build.

If everyone's a victim, who's committing the crimes?

Just reading the blog of a Metropolitan Police "problem solver", who was talking about his job of looking at the problems (drunks sleeping in parks) in new ways. He says:

We've changed the design of the benches. This doesn't disadvantage the lawful park users (victims) and the visual effect on the location in minimal. A lot of people probably wouldn't even notice the substitution. But the drunks will. Oh yes. Now they can't sleep on the benches any more, there's a good chance that they'll move on elsewhere. But solving a problem doesn't mean just pushing it elsewhere. If we think of these people as victims too, maybe we can work in partnership (I warned you about that word) with families, outreach workers, social services etc. to offer these unfortunates a way off of the Hellish merry-go-round that is their life.

I normally read the blogs of the, well, real policemen. The ones who don't work in an office. And they say that British policing is being utterly buggered up by this kind of thinking.

I have one question for the guy who gets paid to come up with new solutions for perennial problems:

What if the drunks don't want to be cured? What if the drunks are drunks because this is what they've chosen?

What if, in other words, they're not victims?

What is it with the left and being incapable of understanding human sin? The will, as I've said many times, is the one unbreakable lock in the universe.

Hey I'm brilliant

Heh. I just found out that the word inukshuk means "something which acts for or performs the function of a person." It's the Inuktitut version of "android".

I'm totally going to keep using that to describe the Canadians.

Early Returns

It's still only six thirty in Tranna so most of the Inukshuks aren't up yet. But this was funny from Andrew Coyne:

"Fascists 133; Crooks 88; Commies 34; Traitors 51; Tree-huggers 0; Loners 2."

If only Elections Canada did it like that, I bet there would be a better turnout. Probably not though. People are calling it an "election about nothing". I would add only, that it is being held over a country that has long since ceased to be about anything too.

Thanks Pierre.

Election Fever

It is a sign that I have truly moved on from Canuckistan that I actually forgot until about three am (five minutes ago) that my former place of residence is having a general election today.

I remember the weird frenzy that came upon me the last time, but tonight, I finished early and spent the rest of the evening packing, watching SG1 reruns and trying to placate the cat with treats and petting (it's not working).

The books are all in boxes as well as my collection of the World's Most Beautiful Shoes (it's a chick thing). All the pictures are off the walls and wrapped in bubble wrap. The clothes are all sorted and all the Canuckistani Deep Winter gear is stuffed into trunks. There is a local charity scheduled to come and get the furniture that I'm not taking and I've made three trips over to the Fam to stash various bits up in the loft. I'm calling the movers tomorrow to give a volume estimate.

Winnie is alternately bouncing off the walls and attacking my ankles in protest of all the upheaval. She clearly does not approve of moving. I tried to tell her I was just "putting things away" but she wasn't buying it. We're off to the vet's tomorrow afternoon to get a nice new microchip and rabies shots. At least she won't have to worry about the language problem. I imagine that Italian mice beg for mercy in a universal language.

So, I hope you voted. And I hope it makes a difference. Though that last is sort of one of those "long shot" kinds of hope.

No news otherwise.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Science is just so amazingly cool!

The Sun is now in the quietest phase of its 11-year activity cycle, the solar minimum - in fact, it has been unusually quiet this year - with over 200 days so far with no observed sunspots. The solar wind has also dropped to its lowest levels in 50 years. Scientists are unsure of the significance of this unusual calm, but are continually monitoring our closest star with an array of telescopes and satellites.

Go look at these pics.

Right now.

Thanks Steve.


Back soon.


Very busy doing important busy things.

Packing and whatnot.

Go away and come back later.

V. busy now.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Year in Retrospect - Quo Vadis Girly?

I think I have mentioned that there is a chap who lives just outside the village, in one of the farm cottages, who brings himself into the villlage once a week or so on his pony and trap. I thought no one would believe me, so here it is.

He was there today, parked outside the Bear and Ragged Staff pub, where there is still a mounting block. I see he is wearing his blankie, even though it was unusually warm today.

On September 20th, I had been here one year.

And it has been like living another life, as another person. A happy person. A happy, very very quiet and retiring person.

When I left Toronto, I could think of nothing but getting going. Now that I am faced with going again (my cousin and uncle are going to be by on Sunday to pick up some furniture they'll be storing), I find I am still very torn. It took a long time to decide to go, and a great part of me still doesn't want to. I decided only after trying very hard to solve the problem of where to go to Church. While I have everything material here I could possibly hope for, and am unlikely ever to have it again, I am still going.

I walked through St. Alban's churchyard today on the way home, and a thought popped into my mind: "I'm probably not going to live here again."

* ~ * ~ *

Some pics that I have not yet posted.

It's a funny thing, but it clearly started when my mum died and I went to Vancouver to sort out funeral arrangements. Something grabbed my brain and I knew that I would not have a moment's peace until I went to England to live. No more explanation was forthcoming. Just "Go to England, immediately." All hell was breaking loose in some personal areas when I got back, but I just couldn't think about them.

Two of my oldest friends after Mum's Memorial Mass. Vicky and Tony.

Best friend Vicky in Vancouver on funeral afternoon.

"We're eating Japanese, I think we're eating Japanese, I really think so..." (ba papa ba pa pa...)

I think it is fair to thank God for all the gobsmackingly beautiful places I have lived over my nomadic lifetime. I wonder if I'm ever going to see the Lion's Gate Bridge or Stanley Park again.

Granville Island Public Market.

Meanwhile, back in Parkdale...

Ooohhhhh yes. Toronto. How could I forget?

and we lived next door to the Oratory.

Got the passport. Got the bike box.

Gave away about 1000 books.

Saying goodbye,

and goodbye


Goodbye to all that too, I guess...

First morning in Ann's new apartment. It had AC. First time in a loooong time we both slept all night while the heat and smog and swelter stayed outside.

Having last teas with pals.

And one spectacular day with friends at Wards Island.

Getting gussied up and going out...

...with pals in the John Muggeridge Memorial Pub.

Just days away from blastoff day.

Last pint of Rickard's, half an hour to flight time at Pearson airport.

First glimpse of the patchwork quilt of England.

At Manchester airport. My uncle, whom I had not seen since I was six, but whose voice and accent I recognised instantly. Since being here, I have developed an instinctive trust of anyone with a Manchester accent. I've become acclimatised.

More to come.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pop Catholicism

Arturo is thinking again.

The man ought to stop that. It hurts. I know.
In conversation with others, I have found myself coining the term “pop Catholicism”. Well, I didn’t exactly coin the term, but I think it is a good working one. First of all, “pop Catholicism” invokes commercialist and individualist tendencies; the superficiality of a technicolor dream. It is consumerist, it wears its Catholicism on the sleeve as a “personal choice”. It also transcends the dichotomy of right and left; EWTN and America Magazine are both consumeristic from a social persective. “Pop Catholicism” is felt banners, Catholic rock music, apologetics CD’s and radio, along with other kitsch that is associated with modern culture. It is Catholicism for a non-Catholic, post-industrial, and postmodern society. It is the synthesis of many tendencies from formerly Catholic societies and their grafting onto a non-Catholic, inorganic context.

The only comment I have is that I keep getting invited by a facebook person to join a group he started and is very keen on, "John Paul II the Great is a saint. 1 Million person will say yes he is."



No thanks. I'm good.

And do I want to attend the "International Symposium On John Paull II" later this month in Rome? Oddly enough, even though I will be in Rome at the I don't.

I want points, in fact, I demand points, for not telling him what I think.

(No one ever counts the things I don't say.)

Need a little cheering up?

I like the one that looks like a big bassoon.

Got a whole Youtube playlist of recorder quartets. And another one of just a dozen different versions of Bach's Contrapunctus IV.

So, we've surpassed 50,000 visits.

And have had our first visitor from Norway.

How's the weather in Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag? Bet it's cold.

And in this corner, Wales and the Czech Republic are duking it out for most unpronounceable place name. Welcome readers from Cwmbran, Monmouthshire and Nymburk, Stredocesky Kraj, and I hope y'all find some vowels soon. Try the Dutch. I hear they have extras.

Welcome also readers from the randomly picked Livingston, West Lothian, Bratislava, Slovakia (hey, do you know my friend Fr. Derek Cross? He goes to Bratislava every year), Kidderminster, Worcestershire and Pismo Beach California (place name that for some reason has always made me smile.)

Isn't the internet cool? Where else can you have friendships with people you've never met and who live in places you're never going to go.

Got this via email from another blogger whom I actually have met in real life: "You're to me an email address that will work every bit as well from Toronto or Chester, or Mumbai."

It's the way I like to have all my relationships: texty.

If I get a choice, I'll probably opt for the Beatific Facebook Page for all eternity.

Repost: Taken for Chumps

I just happen to be thinking about it.

Now, I know that the principles of rational thought are not popular these days, equally in schools as in parliaments, but one has to wonder at the willingness of so many to have their intelligence, whether real or imagined, so brazenly insulted, and their compassion manipulated, as it is by the abortion lobby in the case of the "rape exception".

The rape exception is the one argument that most irritates me. Not because of its inherent dishonesty - one expects only dishonesty from people conniving to murder helpless infants - but for the blind, drooling stupidity of the people who buy it, normally without the slightest examination. Or perhaps I should say the willing connivance of the marks. It is said that people who go to carnivals with a few shillings to spend on the ring-toss game, actually want to be swindled. Why else would one to go a carnival?

When I am talking to school groups about abortion, naturally after we have painstakingly gone through and demonstrated the existence of a human being in the womb (don't they tell these kids any more where babies come from? What are they doing in all those sex-education classes in kindergarten anyway?) someone in the back of the room will invariably put his (it is always a he) hand up and say "Yeah, but what about rape?"

He says this for two reasons: he has been taught that favouring abortion for rape is a mark of deep sensitivity and that "sensitivity" is a sure fire method of getting girls into bed, and that it is a stumper. He believes, in effect, that because the pro-life position is inherently flawed by its hatred of women and desire to oppress and subjugate them, that this is The Big One that will always end the discussion. This, he believes will establish his feminist political cred...which is also a sure fire method of getting girls into bed.

He expects me to have no answer, and sadly, this is the case with most of the people who consider themselves pro-life. In Britain, I would suggest, because there is no pro-life movement to speak of and those who imagine themselves to be pro-life have not the slightest notion of what it means, it is doubly the case. The British "pro-life" "movement" has failed so absolutely because it is based on warm fuzzy feelings towards cute little babies and depends wholly on a vestigial culturally generated moral sense that can now be found only in the previous generation, who themselves only ever had a hazy grasp of the meaning of the word "principle". Once the little old ladies, cooing gently over the sight of a sweet-faced cherub are gone, even that will vanish. And nothing will replace it. The world will belong to Generation Why. Maybe we could re-name them Generation Why Not?

What is saddest, and most ironic, about the eagerness of most of our progressively minded modern people, as well as many "pro-life" people, to defend the rape exception, is that they love it because it is held up as a model of compassion and toleration towards the victimised. This is especially tempting to pro-lifers who are possibly tired of being called EVIL FASCISTS. They long to be included in the ranks of the tolerant and compassionate. The same people will, with precisely the same earnest expressions, tell you all about the evils of capital punishment. They have such strong feeeeelings, you see, for the downtrodden, the oppressed, the victimised.

But no one stops to wonder who it is exactly that is doing the "holding up". Who exactly, has told them that abortion is a requirement in cases of pregnancy due to rape? And what are their motives?

But these goodthinkful people will not question the motives or origin of the received wisdom. That's why we call it that. When you ask them why they support the death penalty for the children of criminals, they simply look at you with a fullwise goodthinkfully blank expression and you can almost see their grey cells desperately rushing to batten down the hatches and close the sea doors.

"Doubleplusungoodthink. unoft, plusungoodthink or ungoodthink. Oldthink is unwith BB and party. oldthinkers unluv doubleplusgood waylive BB command. Oldthinkers oft is crimethinkers. Oldthinkers oft make crimethink."



When giving talks in schools, I was able to relieve the tedium by setting these sorts of traps and watching the poor chumps dive eagerly into them. (Even more amusing than tripping blind people).

"Hands up everyone who supports the death penalty." Never any takers for that one, especially in Catholic schools.

"Good. It is true that most western progressive countries, those who have been governed for centuries by the rule of law, have abolished the death penalty. Even for serious crimes like treason, murder and rape.

"We do not execute rapists, in the hopes, perhaps, that they will be reformed. Or perhaps only on the grounds that it is simply wrong to kill, even to kill a dangerous criminal."

General agreement, but at the same time a vague sense of discomfort growing...they know something is going on, but haven't the acuity to guess what.

"Now, let's examine a country that does have it. Communist China has more capital offenses [brief pause to explain the terms 'Communist' and 'capital offense'] than any other country in the world. And they carry out more executions than any other country. Even than the United States.

"Let us pretend for a moment that you are an official of China's legal system charged with carrying out executions. Would you consider granting clemency to a rapist?" [pause to explain 'clemency'.]

...nod nod nod...

"What about to the rapist's 18 month-old daughter?"



If you can get to London tomorrow,

go to this:

THE BLESSED VIRGIN has quite the legion of followers at her beck and call, and a good many battalions (perhaps even a regiment?) turned up on October 14 for the annual Rosary Crusade for the reparation of sins. The event began with a procession from Westminster Cathedral near Victoria Station, through the streets of London, to Brompton Oratory in Kensington. A statue of Our Lady was borne aloft by members of the Catholic Police Guild the whole way to the Oratory, where Benediction was held. We bring you these photos, taken by Vernon Quaintance, Matt Doyle, and Ken Simpson, all of which we found via ‘Joee Blogs‘, a Catholic medical student in London.

H/T to Andrew for the pics.

The idea is reparation for sin. The secondary idea is to ask Our Lady for her intercession in stopping the HFE bill.

This just in on the domesticity front:

elderberries do not taste good.

Even when you boil them with a lot of sugar and cloves and cinnamon.

But they're supposed to be medicinal. So...

Nope. Probably not.

"When the council chose to put us here we did not say no. If someone gave you a lottery jackpot would you leave it?...

He added: 'The property had been refurbished before we arrived, but there were certain aspects that I was not happy with so I phone up the council and it sent people to fix the drive and clean up the garden.'"
... and make me a cup of tea, while you're at it, will you Jeeves?

Working is obviously for chumps.
Mother-of-seven Toorpakai Saiedi, 35, receives £170,000 a year in benefits - a staggering £150,000 of which is paid to a private landlord for the rent of their seven-bedroom house in West London.

The detached property in Acton has two large reception rooms, two kitchens, a dining room and a 100ft garden.

Ealing Council is picking up the £12,458 a month bill - which is nearly five times the rent for a similar property in the same road.

I was saying to my uncle the other day that now that we have IVF paid for by the NHS, and are soon to have a law that says you can buy a baby receive treatments at IVF facilities without the consideration for the need for a father, and seeing as how single mothers get free houses as long as there's no dad around, I should have it made in the shade.

Just walk up to the nearest IVF baby factory, get signed on and you're set for life.

(Too bad about that whole spending-eternity-in-hell thing.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Important Political Terms 101

"Useful Idiot" (from wiki):

The term is attributed to Vladimir Lenin, sometimes in the form "useful idiots of the West", to describe those Western reporters and travelers who would endorse the Soviet Union and its policies in the West.


"Useful idiots" would be literally translated from Russian "poleznye idioty". Taking into account possible imprecise translation from Lenin's native Russian into English, other similar quotations exist, such as his assessment of US President Woodrow Wilson in a speech delivered at a meeting of activists of the Moscow Organization of Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (RCPB) on December 6, 1920, first published in 1923 according to the verbatim report in V.I. Lenin Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966, page 449 (translated from Russian):[5]
"Nowhere has the Versailles Treaty been analyzed so well as in the book by Keynes, a British representative at Versailles. In his book Keynes ridicules Wilson and the part he played in the Treaty of Versailles. Here, Wilson proved to be an utter simpleton, whom Clemenceau and Lloyd George twisted round their little fingers. Thus everything goes to show that America cannot come to terms with the other countries because of the profound economic antagonism between them, since America is richer than the rest."

Stalin said "They must be idiots" when his envoy came back from a tour of England during the 1930s depression and said "Your recruiting grounds for party-members will not be in the factories, but in the universities."


You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

This just in from Open Europe:

Government votes against transparency for EU legislation;
Denis MacShane claims German government estimate is non-existent and "a lie"

Conservative MP Mark Harper yesterday introduced a new Bill in Parliament which would have required Ministers to declare, on the front of every Bill and regulation, whether it is the result of an EU decision. The idea of the EU (Transparency) Bill was to make the legislative process and the role of the EU in it more transparent and accountable to the public. However the Bill was voted down, with the Government whipping its MPs to oppose it and, in an unusual practice, even Government Ministers were told to oppose the Bill. Mr Harper said: "The aim of my Bill was simple: to improve openness and transparency in the way our laws are made. It is extraordinary that the Government are opposed to openness and transparency. It makes you wonder what they have got to hide."

Leading opposition to the Bill was former Europe Minister Denis MacShane. He said the Bill should be opposed because, "If we think honestly about what takes up our time in the House, what worries our constituents and what fills the front pages of our newspapers, we find that very little is connected with the EU."

MacShane also wrongly claimed that one German estimate of the percentage of national law originating in Brussels, mentioned in passing by Mark Harper, was a "lie". He said, "The BBC and others have been trying to find this German Government source--is it Goethe, Schiller, or Mrs. Merkel?--and find that they cannot. It really is not good enough to come to the House and quote anonymous Germans, whoever they may be, in defence of the preposterous position that 80 per cent of all our laws come from the European Union."

In fact the estimate was made by Former German President Roman Herzog in an article in Welt Am Sonntag on 14 February 2005. Herzog calculated the figure using information provided by State Parliamentary Undersecretary Alfred Hartenbach, who in April 2005 gave details of the number of acts passed by the German Parliament between 1998 and 2004, and the number of EU regulations and directives passed. This information is available in the German Parliamentary Journal of 6 May 2005.

Of course, you must mean the "three democratically elected council representatives"


Nope. No bias under here.

ARMY chiefs provoked fury last night after they invited a senior BNP politician to a swish do at a school.

The far-right party’s Cllr Cathy Duffy was among local politicians asked to attend a drinks and buffet reception at the Ministry of Defence’s sixth form college.

Two more officials from the racist British National Party joined Duffy at the Welbeck College event, hosted by the Army Presentation Team.

Enjoying free food and drink paid for by the taxpayer, the three extremists spent the evening mingling with military personnel. The invite to the VIP event in Loughborough, Leicestershire, came from Army chief Brigadier J E Richardson, Commander of 49 (East) Brigade.

Yes. People have (gasp) different political opinions from the ones that are officially allowed.

That's what we like to call "democracy".

Might be a good idea to start getting used to it, latte-boy.

Oooohhh I remember 1983

I was, what, 17? We thought it was silly then too. But cool.

Gads. When was the last time I was a young person? Can't remember.

But who could forget...

Never me. (If you're over 35, you can probably sing right along. Admit it.)

I hope Rev. Mullen tells the Church of England where to go

and starts blogging again soon.

Wonderful to hear that the social services are rewarding junkies who provide them with a "clean" urine sample with the drug of their choice. Heroin addicts may be given methadone or antidepressants - or even diamorphine (prescription heroin)

I should like to see this arrangement extended. If I supply a sample of clean wee wee may I claim my free case of Chateau Margaux please?

And the scheme has even wider possibilities: why not reward successful slimmers with cheeseburgers and Black Forest gateau; smokers who've managed to quit with 200 packs of Capstan Full Strength; fill the swag sacks of unsuccessful burglars with pieces of household silver etc etc?

Isn't logic a scream?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

In case it disappears:

Gay wedding at St Bartholomew’s EC1
by Rev. Dr. Peter Mullen, rector of St Michael’s Cornhill and St Sepulchre without Newgate
The Bishop of London is in a high huff
Because Dr Dudley has married a puff;
And not just one puff – he’s married another:
Two priests, two puffs and either to other.
“It isn’t a wedding, for that’s not allowed;
They’ve just come together and promised and vowed
To shack up and snug up, to have and to hold:
Ooh aren’t we radical! Ooh aren’t we bold!”
Now here’s a most queer and most wonderful thing:
He’s given his hand, he’s offered his ring;
And each to the other forever will bend,
After their troll in the coach up West End.
Not a flash wedding, no pics in Hello!
Just a honeymoon cottage, convenient so.
Of such Dr Dudley a goldmine has found,
From shaven-head puftas the nuptial pink pound.
The new Church of England embraces diversity,
A fresh modulation on ancient perversity:
“I’m C of E and PC so don’t think it odd of me
To offer a licence and blessing for sodomy.”

...the love that won't shut up.

Sodomy can seriously damage your health

Actually, it can and does.

But, as we know, truth ... you know, that thing that has no interest in our preferences, fantasies or delusions .... is no defence in Upsidedownland.

As this is mostly a family-oriented blog, I won't give the headline here. But I was advised that a useful keyword to use when searching for information on the physical harms of anal sex is "lesions".

Pretty much says everything right there.

I've probably mentioned this before. I had a conversation with a friend of mine a while ago and summed up the opposition to the whole "gay rights" movement, saying, "It's very simple. That does not go there. She responded, "But if fits there." Yeah, said I, and it would fit down a vacuum cleaner hose too, but it's not supposed to go there either.

But the truth of the matter is that it doesn't fit there. Homosexual activity does a lot of really horrible damage to men. It's just one of those nasty little facts (you remember 'facts' don't you?) that sits like a grumpy troll on the bridge to the happy gay fantasyland where it's all about "equality" and "rights".


You can look it up.

Anti-Realism [2]: Rejection, in one or another form or area of inquiry, of realism, the view that there are knowable mind-dependent facts, objects, or properties. Metaphysical realists make the general claim that there is a world of mind-independent objects [objective reality]. Realists in particular areas make more specific or limited claims. Thus moral realists hold that there are mind-independent moral properties, mathematical realists that there are mind-independent mathematical facts…[etc]. Anti-realists deny either that facts of the relevant sort are mind-independent or that knowledge of such facts is possible [3].

Relativism [6]: The denial that there are certain kinds of universal truths. There are two main types, cognitive, and ethical. Cognitive relativism holds that there are no universal truths about the world: the world has no intrinsic characteristics, there are just different ways of interpreting it[7]… [Philosopher Richard] Rorty says, e.g. That “’Objective truth’ is no more and no less than the best idea we currently have about how to explain what is going on.” Critics of cognitive relativism contend that it is self-referentially incoherent, since it presents its statements as universally true [i.e. It is presented as a “fact” that there are no facts], rather than relatively so.

Ethical relativism is the theory that there are no universally valid moral principles: all moral principles are valid relative to culture or individual choice … Subjectivism … maintains that individual choices are what determine the validity of a moral principle. Its motto is ‘Morality lies in the eyes of the beholder.”…The opposite of ethical relativism is ethical objectivism, which asserts that although cultures may differ in their moral principles, some moral principles have universal validity. Even if e.g. a culture does not recognize a duty to refrain from gratuitous harm, that principle is valid and the culture should adhere to it.

Thoughtcrime of the Day: there is no such thing as "transsexualism"

In the world of reality, when a man thinks he was "born into a woman's body" it's called "being insane".

Once upon a time, not long ago and not far away...

For some reason, I seem to have found a lot of Canadian stuff in the picnic basket today.

Want to know a secret Canadian code word?

In any international crowd, just say the words, "Look up. Look waaaaay up," and all the Canadians in the room will start going all mushy and happy. (If you're Canadian of a certain age, you're probably smiling goofily already).

It's like one of those trigger things the CIA implants subconsciously in its sleeper agents. Like a Manchurian Candidate kind of thing, only nicer.

"It's getting chilly lately hey?"

I hear that a lot.

In England.

I usually laugh.

These people run the country

Why Canadians don't like Tranna.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Y'all know how much I love journalistic jargonry.

Here's one I haven't come across before.

"patient groups" is the new word at the Grauniad for the abortion lobby.

The Catholic church is exhorting Catholics to oppose parliamentary reform of abortion law (Catholics must mobilise against abortion reforms, says archbishop, September 30) despite support for pragmatic modernisation from medical and nursing bodies and patient groups. The legal requirement for two doctors' signatures can delay women from abortion care. Reforms would permit abortion under the 24-week limit to be offered on the basis of informed patient consent and good clinical practice, as with other medical treatment.

Probably only "startling" to you, though, hey?

The left discovers that other people have different political opinions from theirs.

Always a nasty shock.
The BNP is a growing force in Britain. In May's local elections it averaged 13.9% in the 612 wards it contested across the country, while in London it polled 130,714 votes in the London assembly elections. Locally, its results have been even more startling. It averaged 41% in the wards it contested in Barking and Dagenham in 2006, and this year it averaged 28% in Rotherham and 27% in Stoke-on-Trent.

Oh, stop crying pony-tail boy, and have another latte. It will all be over soon.


"Pope reaffirms existence of God, a position that has driven millions of people away from the faith."

Do these people know how stupid they sound?

They can't still be waiting for the Great Enlightenment in the Church, can they?

We've had that.

It's called "the United Church".

Episcopal Stockholm Syndrome

An Anglican vicar was was asked BBC Radio 4's Moral Maze whether he thought the Established Church was a good thing:

The Evangelical vicar Steve Chalke didn't quite face the issue, but kept insisting that the churches must reject any form of privilege in order to serve society. "Is that OK? I mean, I wouldn't want to offend anyone, really. You know, the Church of England has rejected all that triumphalist religious stuff anyway. The CofE really cares about the poor... no this microphone even on?"

No. He didn't really say those last things.

At least, not out loud.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Classic script

Old bigotry; new players:

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and city supervisors threatened to withdraw Catholic Charities funding and questioned its status as a non-profit. The board of supervisors unanimously passed a resolution accusing the Vatican of being a "meddling...foreign country"; said Archbishop George Niederauer and Catholic Charities should "defy" Cardinal Levada; and urged the cardinal "to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive."

An interesting time to live in "Europe", I guess...

From Open Europe:
Wolfgang Munchau takes a similar line in the FT, arguing that "A systemic banking crisis is one of those few conceivable shocks with the potential to destroy Europe's monetary union."

Guardian Economics Editor Larry Elliot argues that the "Contagion could fracture the eurozone". He writes that, "The week's events have challenged the smug notion that the credit crunch is a purely Anglo-Saxon affair. A glance around Europe shows this is far from the truth: from Iceland to Greece, there are signs of acute stress accentuated by the same marked slowdown as in the UK... In the long term, monetary unions do not survive without political union, and so the...conclusion is that there are pressures both for closer integration and for disintegration. The crisis could strengthen those who argue that the halfway house is inherently unstable and will remain so until there is fiscal as well as monetary union. On the other hand, the growing threat of recession may make some countries question the value of remaining in a monetary union."

Religious apologies

"As a believing Muslim, I'm ashamed at the violence against Christians in Muslim-dominated countries..."



Wrong primitive savage pagan "belief system".

Pop quiz: name that murderous sinister religious organisation

Two religious groups get heavily criticised in the world's press. Films are made accusing them of being evil murderers who like to chop people up who stand in the way of their plans for world domination.

They respond:
a) by staging riots, murders, embassy bombings, and general global mayhem and issuing death threats against anyone who dares to question their absolute perfect peaceful wonderfulness.

b) by making films and TV shows of their own in a media countermeasure depicting themselves as senisble and normal people whose religious beliefs inspire them to good works.

Sparing whom?

Good old Times: apparently completely unable to resist temptation. Maybe they should start praying to the Ven. "Cardinal John Henry Newman" (that's "the Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman", btw.)
There is no conspiracy theory over what has become of Newman’s remains: experts believe that damp conditions led to their complete decomposition.

The decision to exhume Newman’s body had been fiercely resisted by gay rights campaigners because the priest had asked to be buried close to the body of Father Ambrose St John, a lifelong friend. With Newman’s grave now lying empty, the controversy is expected to fade away, sparing the Vatican any possible embarrassment over claims that the priest was a closet homosexual.

It couldn't possibly be that it is the grotesque hacks in the homosexualist movement who staged the "furore" as a publicity stunt at the expense of the English Catholic believers who might have anything to be embarrassed about...

Nope, no bias under here...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I was going to write a post about Socialism, but realised half way through that I really didn't have anything clever or undying to say about it, so decided to ditch it.

Instead, today, I'm going to announce that I've surpassed 2000 posts.

A milestone, I suppose. This is the two-thousand and seventh. So, nyuh.

Buona Domenica.

(I'm calling removal and shipping companies tomorrow. I figure it's just easier to get someone else to do the entire thing and pay them money. That way it won't hardly feel like I'm moving. Just going on a little visit...with all my furniture. Winnie-the-Cat doesn't suspect a thing, but Mr. Bear has it all figured out. Twenty days left. Time to start making some serious lists of things to do.

A while ago, a friend in Rome said to me, "Hilary, you can't just move to another country every time you're bored." But I don't know why not. )

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Political Compass

I'm told so often that I'm an evil far-right fascist that I occasionally take a moment or two to re-take the Political Compass test. It's like checking my pulse or blood pressure because people keep telling me I look pale and wan.

Of course, every time I take it, I get the same result. I get "moderate conservative". Less "authoritarian" than Mrs. Thatcher.

But taking the test is a good way to give some thought to various aspects of the political and social realm.

I've noticed that my economic answers have grown more towards the rightist side, but they remain pretty wishywashy in general. There's a good reason for this: I really don't know enough about the current economic state of things to have an opinion. I realise that this is a huge gap, but at least it has the effect of allowing me to keep a relatively open mind. But what I have seen is that governments trying to take over the running of people's daily lives, and taking their money by force, is nothing but destructive to society. Socialism is bad. Government isn't bad, in theory, but government that thinks it can tell people what to do with their money seems inevitably to become very bad.

But I remain somewhat softer on these things than most of the evilrightwingfascists of my acquaintance. I guess I'm just not trusting enough of the private sector to look after the poor, any more than the government. At least not the "private sector" of our times and in our current economic condition, in which it appears there is not a great deal of difference between these heavily subsidized mega-corporations and the governments propping them up.

As I've said, being pretty mystified by contemporary economics, my opinions are developing only very slowly and tentatively. I wish I knew more but it seems nearly impossible; even the people called experts by the press can't agree. But I do have a few basic principles: the rights of private property, subsidiarity, and a firm conviction that government paying for everything with money they take by force from private citizens to redistribute to officially sanctioned "needs groups" has worked very badly.

Over the years, I've developed a method of figuring out complex and difficult things that I like to call the "Laws of Rational Thought". I've applied it pretty succesfully to religion and philosophy and various areas of politics and it has stood me pretty well. Principles and evidence. I'm betting that starting with a few principles that we know are true, and examining the evidence and data available to us, we could probably figure out more or less the arcane economic mysteries as well.

I suspect that the reason none of the experts seem to know what is going on is that most modern academics don't have principles. They, being in the postmodern academic world where there cannot be anything certainly true (except the idea that nothing is certainly true...) don't have a solid idea about human nature, about how the world is supposed to work, about what is good for people. But again, that is simply an extrapolation from a combination of principles and the available data. I've never met an academic economist, so maybe I'm wrong. It is certainly true of the political class. At least the ones I've met. The Laws of Rational Thought are nowhere more scorned than in Houses of Parliament. (Which is why their speeches are so dull).

I suppose that in today's parlance, being against socialism; thinking that "the poor" are a largely imaginary subclass invented by social workers and politicians; that people should be responsible for themselves and their families; that the state, if it has anything to do with the private lives of its citizens should concern itself with bolstering and protecting the family and should thereafter leave them alone; that all attempts to have government seize private property for redistribution in order to "eliminate poverty" have failed to eliminate anything but social stability...

makes me economically firmly on the right.

But what qualifies as "far right"?

Obviously it is unwise to expect journalistic slogans and bafflegab like "far right" to hold up to rigorous examination, but perhaps it is useful to explore the question a bit.

Anyway, here is today's outcome for my Political Compass test:

slightly higher on the authoritarian scale than the last time, but still pretty firmly "moderate conservative".

Oh well. I suppose much depends also upon whom one is standing next to. In Britain, with a population so completely brainwashed and it having been such a long time since anyone has actually met one, I might look like a "fascist".

To give a little perspective, and to give you an idea whose company one is keeping, the P.C. site gives us an estimate of some public figures:

Next up: more on Socialism

Friday, October 03, 2008

"letterbox ladies"

Welcome to Saudi Britain

I hear Pat's been censored by Youtube.

I wonder how many threats of violence that took.

Lying near a sea of blue and a lush forest is the European country that holds out against the might which is Brussels

The elections in Austria have gone the wrong way.

That's the trouble with democracy, it lets people who aren't experts or professionals decide things. Things more important than breakfast cereals and radio stations, that is.

As long as good, decent, ordinary people must cower under the bed in fear of being called racists, change is impossible. Muslim immigrants will continue to pour into Europe, the freedom of European citizens will be further eroded, and the possibility of a non-violent solution to the crisis decreases every day.

General elections this past Sunday changed Austria’s political landscape with a pull to the right.

The Social Democrats lost votes, and the Conservatives lost even more. Both can no longer be considered “forces” in the political spectrum; they are, at best, mediocre in size (29% and 25%, respectively). The Green Party has withered into irrelevance. On Sunday, party leader Alexander Van der Bellen proudly announced that he considers the Greens the last Gallic village in Austria with regard to upholding human rights (he was alluding to Asterix, the famous comic series).


The winners on this historic day were, however, the FPÖ (Freedom Party) and BZÖ (Haider’s “new” party), which together make up the right-wing parties. Heinz-Christian Strache was able to increase the number of his voters from 11% to 18%, while Haider tripled his support to 11%. And while the center-left parties pretended to be stunned, political commentators and many others were not surprised: the parties’ success had been looming for the last couple of weeks. Polls were in complete agreement about the outcome. Together FPÖ and BZÖ gathered nearly 30% of the votes.

FPO platform:

* No accession of Turkey into the European Union
* No intrusion of EU policy in Austria
* No increase in the Austrian contribution to the EU
* Restrict Austrian citizenship law
* Stop the misuse of the asylum system

a bit of history:
In the 1999 general election, the FPÖ received 27% of the votes, more than in any election before.

Naturally, because "the right" had won a huge electoral success with the voters, it could not be allowed to stand.

In early 2000, the FPÖ joined a coalition government with Wolfgang Schüssel's People's Party. The Freedom Party had to take a junior part in the coalition, as otherwise the ÖVP would have continued their coalition with the SPÖ. There was a great degree of outrage both within the country and internationally. The heads of government of the other 14 EU members decided to cease cooperation with the Austrian government, as it was felt in many countries that the cordon sanitaire against coalitions with parties considered as right-wing extremists, which had mostly held in Western Europe since 1945, had been breached.

And how do we know the parties in question are on the "far-right"?

Well, how do we know anything?

That's correct. Because the BBC says so.

The rise in support for the far-right parties is the result of protest votes on a variety of issues, the BBC's Bethany Bell in Vienna says.

The resurgent far-right can be attributed to a mixture of anti-European Union sentiment, some anti-immigrant positions and a general sense of discontent with the two traditional centrist parties, our correspondent says.

The far-right showing was even stronger than in 1999, when the Freedom Party won 27% and gained a place in the coalition government with the conservatives.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

John Paul the Weird

Got sent this (excruciatingly long) article today on Catholic traditionalism. Or the revival of it...or something. (I didn't read the whole thing, to tell the truth.)

But I saw that it contained a rather interesting personal anecdote:

Nearly 25 years ago, a Pole was dining in my college in Cambridge. He told us that he had been an altar boy in Poland, and had often served the masses of the Archbishop of Cracow. [Karol Wojtyla] A year or two after that prelate, Karol Woytila, [sic] had been installed in the See of Rome, he decided to visit him, for John Paul II never became too grand for his old Polish friends.

The Pope (so he told the story) strode up to him, punched him lightly in the chest, and began: Introibo ad ad altare dei … to which our guest responded: Ad deum qui laetificat iuventutum meum. ("I will go unto the altar of God’’ "To God who giveth joy to my youth.’‘) This was the opening exchange between priest and server of the old "Tridentine’’ Latin mass, abolished in the early1970s, and the two continued it right down to the Confiteor.

Then the Pope shrugged his shoulders and said: "Well, that’s no use to us anymore." His old altar boy replied: "No, Holy Father, and that’s why I no longer go to church." To which the Pope (he said) instantly rejoined: "Don’t blame me. Blame that maniac John XXIII!"



That's the "maniac" that Jaypeetooweeluuvyoo wanted to see canonised.

Do I remember someone once suggesting that the reason nothing John Paul II did ever made any sense, was that he was "slightly nuts"? I think I do.


oh never mind.

Am I the only one...

who still thinks the words, "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger" look really weird together?

learning foreign

Am I right in thinking that "non abbiamo" means "we don't have"?

cause if I am, then Google translator is pretty much useless.

from the US State Dept.

c. Freedom of Religion in Sweden

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Government did not prohibit the practice or teaching of any faith. There is no state church.

Citizens are tolerant of diverse religions practiced in the country; however, the numbers of reported anti-Semitic crimes and tendencies have increased over the past several years. There is also a very small, but sporadically active, fascist and neo-Nazi movement. In April, there was an attempted arson at the purification room of the Jewish cemetery in Malmo.

The Government continued to take steps to combat anti-Semitism by increasing awareness of Nazi crimes and the Holocaust. [Sooooo, the government thinks that Germans or skinheads are the big problem with anti-semitic attacks in Malmo? Or do they just want everyone to think they think that?]

Since 2001, threats against the Muslim community have increased. In April, the Islamic school and large parts of the Islamic Center in Malmo were destroyed in a fire that police later determined was arson; the police investigation continued at year's end.

Multiculturalism in practice. Works great huh?

Ethics question revisited

So, the cruise liner is sinking with 2500 souls aboard. There are only enough lifeboats for half the people. When your boat has reached capacity and you are desperately rowing away from the ship, hundreds of people are still equally desperately trying to get in the boat. Are you justified in beating off people who are still trying to get in? Even if it means they will die if you leave them behind? Even if it means you have to kill them?

You have twenty years to answer.

Plus a bonus.
Metaphysics question:

You pour yourself a glass of orange juice. You think, it's a bit thick, so you pour in some water.
It should be noted here that Sweden alone in 2006 accepted almost as many asylum applications from Iraqis as all other European countries did combined. Native Swedes, who live in a country that was one of the most ethnically homogeneous nations in the world only 30 years ago, will be a minority in their own country within a few decades, if current trends continue. Sweden is self-destructing at a pace that is probably unprecedented in history, but for the extreme Left, even this isn't fast enough.

The wave of robberies the city of Malmö is experiencing is part of a "war against the Swedes." This is the explanation given by young robbers from immigrant backgrounds. "When we are in the city and robbing we are waging a war, waging a war against the Swedes." This argument was repeated several times. "Power for me means that the Swedes shall look at me, lie down on the ground and kiss my feet. We rob every single day, as often as we want to, whenever we want to." Swedish authorities have done virtually nothing to stop this.

How much water do you have to pour in before it isn't orange juice any more?
In September, another Islamist website claiming to speak for Ansar Al-Sunna, the Iraqi terrorist group, said the group had established "a small isolated training camp in southern Sweden."

"We wish to inform the Ummah," said the website, referring to the global Islamic community, "that the Army of Ansar Al-Sunnah in Sweden are well-trained to defend our holy countries ... having established a Mujahideen training camp, located in Skane [the region in southern Sweden that includes Malmo] ... with the help from Allah."