Saturday, October 31, 2015

Every Day is Judgement Day

My customers know that below the Tavern, just off the cellars, is a Crypt wherein I go from time to time. It is where I 'keep' the Holy Grail. It is a bit like Dr Who's Tardis insofar as Time and Space are but only a part of existence. Even the Dr appreciates that there is more, outside time and space, where we and he cannot go just yet.

Dr Who is the longest running 'Sci-Fi' storyline in TV History. He meets up with all sorts of strange creations, aliens, ordinary people and incredible events. He seeks them out and sorts them out.

I seek the Presence of The Creator of all things visible and invisible, and I go to the crypt to be Judged.

How the Dr deals with what and who he finds is how we judge him. I ask in the Crypt, as the Dr. does so often these days, 
"Am I a Good Man?"

I seek a Judgement.

Every time though the answer comes back with a big , "NO. Keep trying. There is Time yet. But it is running out for you". 

And so I continue allowing my very life to present me with the wherewithall to confront my weaknesses, failures, difficulties and choices, and improve. As we all have to. Some of those difficulties and choices, shared by others, get an airing in the Tavern's many bars and rooms. 

Dr Who is a good man, a complex man, and not even a man !  Recently he has become a curmudgeon sort almost like me. He worries about his ability to harm but is quite capable of judging himself, most of the time, until he reaches too far into the darker parts of his heart.  Then he questions himself. 

And others question his motives and actions too.

If you trawled through comtemporary commentry such as say, You Tube, you will find hundreds if not thousands of opinions about Dr Who. Everyone is a critic. The opinions vary. 

A very serious topic was portrayed in a recent episode.

Alexi Sargeant was in the US Room today to talk about one such topic that has caused a lot of angst. Alexi has an opinion. You see, it appears that the Doctor and I share a reverence for Life.  As yet the good (?) Doctor has not apprehended the Lord and Giver of Life, Himself, but nevertheless reveres the creations.

It is a Good start.

I shall finish later with another opinion. A rather ordinary, usual one. But first the insightful Alexi. I shall not make any comment during it, but let the words act upon you as your heart and mind allow.
Don’t Kill the Moon.
The long-running British sci-fi staple Doctor Who has quietly become one of the most pro-life shows on television. 
Under the tenure of showrunner Steven Moffat, there has been a strong pro-life subtext for several seasons of Doctor Who. Even before Moffat took the reins of the show, he wrote a pair of episodes called “The Empty Child”/“The Doctor Dances”(widely considered some of the series’ best) in which the climactic moment is a young mother saving the world by acknowledging her out-of-wedlock son as hers, and curing him of being a monster. As mother and child embrace, victims of a nanotechnology plague are unmasked and cured, and the Doctor says, overflowing with joy, “Everybody lives. Just this once, everybody lives.” 
The well-being of children is the center of the show’s moral cosmos.
Now, a work of fiction can have a strong thematic preoccupation with children and procreation without necessarily being pro-life. But the choices Moffat integrated into his main characters’ stories highlight the sacredness of life in all stages of development. 
One of the Doctor’s companions, Amy Pond, undergoes a traumatic, unexpected pregnancy. It turns out that, thanks to time travel, her child is actually another main character, the mysterious time-travelling archeologist River Song. 

River’s birth and early life are manipulated by evil forces trying to use her as a weapon against the Doctor, but she overcomes these villains and establishes a relationship with her mother Amy. 
The show plays this relationship as an unambiguous good. Despite the trying circumstances of her birth, River is a blessing to her mother and to the universe. Moreover, River’s special powers stem from the fact she was conceived during her parents’ honeymoon on a time machine—suggesting she was, well, her, from the very moment of conception. Even with a non-linear timeline,.. 
identity stretches back to the womb.
Recent seasons have brought the pro-life message of the show to foreground. In “Kill the Moon,” the Doctor’s companion Clara Oswald, chides him for his callousness towards one of her students, Courtney Woods, a black fifteen year-old and self-identified “Disruptive Influence.”
This Doctor, as played by Peter Capaldi, is an occasional curmudgeon. He’s upset Courtney by telling her she is not special. One thing leads to another, and Clara, Courtney, and the Doctor end up on the Moon in the year 2049, so that Courtney can become special by being the first woman on the moon.
But there’s another woman on the moon, and she’s on a mission. Astronaut Captain Lundvik has patched up earth’s single remaining shuttle to bring a hundred nuclear bombs to the Moon.  
The Moon has put on a lot of weight, wreaking gravitational chaos on earth, and Lundvik is here to solve the problem the way humans solve problems: 
by blowing it up.
The crux of the episode is a moral dilemma. 
The Doctor figures out what’s happening to the Moon. He delightedly announces, “The Moon’s an egg!” and summons up a hologram of what looks like a space-dragon curled up inside the Moon, getting ready to hatch. The Doctor speculates, “I think that that is unique, I think that that is the only one of its kind in the universe. I think that that is beautiful.” 
And Captain Lundvik stares him hard in the face and asks, “How do we kill it?”
At this point in the episode, I find it hard to imagine someone who is pro-choice not feeling at least a pang of discomfort. 
The Doctor’s response to new life is one of joy and wonder. It’s contrasted starkly with Captain Lundvik’s ruthless gray pragmatism. 
He says, “I think that that is beautiful,” and it’s followed by the abortionist’s response, “Doctor, how do we kill it?”
This is the moral dilemma the characters confront. Detonate those hundred nuclear bombs to end the Moon’s burgeoning, innocent life? Or risk allowing the Moon to hatch, with no idea what it or its shattering shell will do to the Earth?  
The Doctor acidly confirms to Lundvik that the bombs she brought would be effective, saying, “The gravity of the little dead baby will pull all the pieces back together again.” The bombs are set to go off in forty-five minutes unless stopped. The clock is ticking.
Recognizing that this choice belongs to humanity, the Doctor disappears in his time machine, leaving Clara, Courtney, and Lundvik to decide the moon’s fate. 
His parting words unavoidably connect their decision to decisions faced by so many earth-bound women in unplanned pregnancies: 
“It’s your moon, womankind. It’s your choice.”
So the fate of the Moon, and the world, rests with three women: a driven professional, an underpaid teacher, and a black teenager. Three women who, in many circumstances, would face the social and economic pressures that make abortion seem like an attractive option.  

They are hotly divided on the issue. Courtney wants to let the creature live. Lundvik scoffs at her. “Look, when you've grown up a bit, you'll realize that everything doesn't have to be nice. Some things are just bad.” I 
t’s a common pro-choice opening gambit: the claim that only people on their side of the argument are able to see moral complexity.
In fact, this segment of the episode uses so many of the clichés associated with the abortion debate, I have to assume the writers are intentionally evoking it. 
For instance, the terminology: is it a baby? Or just a parasite? 
Lundvik compares it to “a flea, or a headlouse,” but Clara remains adamant, “I’m going to have to be a lot more certain than that if I’m going to kill a baby.”
The women decide to let Earth make the decision: they’ll broadcast a message to Earth explaining the dilemma, and asking people to leave their lights on if they want the creature spared or turn their lights off if they want the bombs detonated. 
Slowly, the lights of Earth go out. 
The people have spoken.
But at the very last second, Clara and Courtney together veto this. They disarm the bomb. Ironically, the word “ABORT” flashes in red letters across the console as they halt the detonation. Instantly, the Doctor is there to whisk them down to earth.
And yet, when we try to help, when we pray outside of the abortuaries of the world, crying out to save the baby,
the intent women do not want to hear us.
They blame us then as well.
They watch in awe as a majestic space dragon takes flight, and the lunar eggshell disintegrates harmlessly. The Doctor shares the consequences of their decision: inspired by their cosmic neighbor, humanity will now start “creeping off to the stars,” exploring the universe and enduring till the end of time:
And it does all that because one day in the year 2049 when it had stopped thinking about going to the stars, something occurred that made it look up instead of down, it looked out there into the blackness and it saw something beautiful, something wonderful, that for once it didn’t want to destroy, and in that one moment the whole of history was changed. Not bad for a girl from Coal Hill School and her teacher.
It wasn’t a parasite or an invasion after all: it was our future. The dragon leaves behind another egg: a new Moon, unmarked by craters. Captain Lundvik resolves to restart the space program. It seems that through Clara and Courtney, mankind has passed a cosmic test, and avoided the terrible stagnation of being trapped on an Earth orbited by the body of its greatest victim.
The point of the episode is driven home by a throwaway line in the dénouement. The Doctor lets slip what he knows about Courtney’s future: “First woman on the moon, saved the Earth from itself, and, rather bizarrely, she becomes the President of the United States.” 
Casually ascribing this fate to a “disruptive influence” (who worried she was not “special”) extends the pro-life message from the fantastical creature within the Moon to, well, all of us. 
Human life is also sacred and replete with potential. 
We’re all unique, we’re all the only one of our kind in the universe, and we’re all beautiful.
The central decision of the episode is a metaphorical abortion that is deemed a military necessity—a medical operation to save the life of humanity. 
Nonetheless, “keeping the baby” is treated as the noble and correct decision, even in the face of universal opposition. 
The episode proposes something like a moral absolute: deliberately ending a nascent life can never be justified, not even by widespread popular consensus. 
Moreover, it suggests that the contrary choice (namely, abortion) is an evil on a world-historical scale. 
“It won’t be pretty,” says the Doctor when Lundvik first suggests killing the Moon. “An enormous corpse floating in the sky. You might have some very difficult conversations to have with your kids.” 
The Moon’s corpse, we’re lead to imagine, would fill future generations with guilt and shame, cutting off space travel and innovation. 
It is the blood of Abel crying out from the sky.
“Kill the Moon” doesn’t just say that new life is beautiful and worth saving. It suggests that embracing the unborn is a requirement for humanity as a species to rise to the moral challenge of our time. 
The rules of Doctor Who are constantly being rewritten. The way time travel works changes from episode-to-episode as the plot requires. What remains constant—what seems built into the underlying logic of the program—is the way Doctor Who’s characters keep meeting their ancestors or descendants. In this show, human genealogy is the fundamental force of the universe.
Alexi's opinion piece won a student essay contest and I am pleased to show it here.

As I said earlier, opinions differ. Not all are cogent and insightful. Not all commentary actually 'gets it'. Some are so 'light' and off the mark, stolen away into the land of trivia, that the mind boggles.

Well, there we have modern young woman in all her articulate glory: her command of language and communications (even her dog looks astonished); her empathy and nurturing facilities on display.

It is not just the 'trying to be Good' that need the taste of Saving Grace, but the way off track too. 

River Song, manipulated by Evil from birth.

Aren't we all.

Clara, rails against the Dr for 'making' her make a choice.  The 'choice' women demand for themselves anyway.

We all rail against the freedom to choose.

We are all in need of Mercy. Not just the baby dragons.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Professional Irresponsibility

It is not unusual for customers to swear into their ales at the bar. This or that event has irked them and they vent. Hey, a Tavern Keeper gets used to it. And much of the time it is over a matter of 'moment'; not something trivial.

So it was the other day that several people were spitting chips over an incident at an infants school in outer Melbourne where the Principal - a woman teacher of course - allowed some 40 kiddies to walk out when the National Anthem was played.

This is our National Imagery we are talking of here. Something one just might think was important to teach our children in a school.

It isn't as though 'Advance Oz Fair' is an anthem that ranks highly amongst the stirring national songs of the world.  But it is ours. Personally I think it is a weak and silly song and should never have taken the place of 'God Save the Queen'. But allowing kiddies to walk out is insulting and sends the wrong message entirely to children. 

Again, personally, 'I still Call Australia, Home' is a far better song than both and always stirs the hearts of the crowds. I have not met anyone who dislikes it Both God and the Queen are an anathema to our lefty shool teachers and education departments. 

The walk-out children were Muslims. Of course. But the Principal was a dinky di Oz woman and she should have known better.  She should have 'done better'.

But again, she was a she. The dominant 'gender' in a female dominated profession.

There was a lot of talk, of course, but most seemed to deflect 'blame' away from the woman. She, personally, was not held responsible. Perhaps because irresponsibility is the hallmark of educational leadership these days.

Jennifer Oriel had a few things to say. Much was quite true but nevertheless, the Principal was given a free pass.
University courses make student teachers hostile towards the West
Scott Morrison is right to describe Muslim schoolkids walking out on the national anthem as pathetic, but he is wrong to point the finger at teachers. The problem does not begin with schools but in univer¬sities where budding educators are encouraged to embrace profound antipathy towards the West.
No. He is not wrong. It is a teacher's responsibility that was at fault here. We are not talking about a 'student teacher here, but a Principal. An experienced, adult, mature woman who seemingly simply allows this to happen. 
In universities across the Western world, students training to become teachers are commonly taught critical theory or post-colonialism as a part of arts degrees in education. Both subjects inculcate in students deep hostility to the Western world, its culture, creed and citizens. 
They were inspired by neo-Marxism, whose forefather Herbert Marcuse was a key figure leading the revolution against Western civilisation in universities and manufacturing the rise of radical minority groups to censor non-leftist thought in public life.
The most celebrated educational theorist in teaching or pedagogy, Paulo Freire, was inspired by neo-Marxism. The foreword to his seminal work Pedagogy of the Oppressed lists Marcuse as a key influence. Freire founded critical pedagogy, a theory that denounces the primary purpose of education, to teach students how to think, and replaces it with activist education where students learn what to think.
Yes, this is leftism, socialism, communism, totalitarianism.  Driven by dang furriners.
Freire’s technique reduces the teacher to the level of a student and both are instructed to become revolutionaries against the oppressor class, whose chief feature appears to be anything that resembles worldly success. Freire regards education not as the pursuit of objective truth but as an instrument of“cultural revolution”.
Teachers should “commit themselves to the people” by means of a profound conversion; a “rebirth” that requires them to take on a “new form of existence”. 
They must use the classroom to foment revolution against the core values of Western education: celebration of individual genius and achievement (individualism), freedom of intellectual inquiry, and the pursuit of objective truth.
And to start with the very young, of course. The little kiddies. 
Like Freire, the chief architect of post-colonialism, Frantz Fanon, believed education should be used to foment leftist revolution. 
He celebrated Islamism as a revolutionary activity, advocating a combination of militant socialism and neo-Marxist minority politics to provoke war against the West. 
Fanon did not seek only the end of colonialism but the destruction of Western civilisation by a sustained attack on its core values. 
In The Wretched of the Earth, he dreamt of a revolutionary climax where: “All the Mediterranean values — the triumph of the human individual, of clarity, and of beauty — become lifeless … individualism is the first to disappear.
Recent research shows post-colonialism is increasingly embraced in universities across the West. From 2004 to 2014, the number of Australian universities offering post-colonialism as a subject increased from 15 to 21. Among 34 universities surveyed by the Institute of Public Affairs, post-colonialism/imperialism was the third most commonly offered history subject.
Australian students learn to become teachers in the cultural context of neo-Marxism made manifest by critical theory and postcolonialism. Many graduate into a public school system regulated by laws that confer a superior status to state-designated minority groups, also consistent with neo-Marxist ideology. Federal anti-discrimination legislation and state-based vilification laws pose a significant risk to any teacher who may wish to buck neo-Marxist dogma and celebrate Western values. The risk increases when the teacher faces a state-protected minority group.
Even if she had wanted to promote social cohesion by requiring all students to sing the national anthem, the principal of Cranbourne’s Carlisle Primary School, Cheryl Irving, would face social, legal and possibly financial risks in doing so.
And a Professional person, with a code of Ethics would refuse point blank to acquiesce. She did not. 
The Victorian Labor government’s support for Muslim students walking out on the anthem shows how real the risk of advancing Australia fair in the face of minority rights remains.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino backed the principal, and in a statement, the Department of Education framed the decision in terms of religious and cultural inclusivity. Next year, a new curriculum will be introduced with subjects such as: “world views and ethical understanding, helping to build more inclusive schools and communities”.
Until our educational and legal systems are reformed to promote the values that sustain the free world, budding teachers will continue to be taught the values of neo-Marxism, and students will continue to believe walking out on the anthem is an expression of cultural inclusivity. 
You would think that children of all races and creeds, colours and shoe sizes, all standing as one when the National Anthem is played, would be an ostensive definition of 'Inclusive'.  
The upside-down world of neo-Marxist minority politics and its corrosive effect on public life must be understood and confronted if we are to bequeath the bountiful legacy of Western civilisation to future generations.
To my mind a Principal, a Head Teacher, a Professional, should be held accountable for their actions, commissions and omissions. They have a Duty. 

Is she, 'hostile to the West'? 

If so, say so.

Yes the Universities and their poisonous professors and Lecturers can take some of the foundational blame but that does not excuse the teachers to who we parents entrust our children.

Perhaps Jennifer, the Political Scientist and Commentator should aim her arrows better, along with her history lessons.

Drink up. I poured a glass for her as well.

You, she and I all need it.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Christianity Evaporating.

Christendom is such a nebulous word.  Easily dismissed in this era of atheistic hedonism and cowardice.  But we don't dismiss and demean Nebulas. They may be gasous but they give birth to stars.

And the nebulous Christendom gave birth to our western civilisation; arguably the greatest civilisation this humanity of ours has produced.

When was the last time you heard a leading Politician or mainstream news reporting organisation in Oz being overtly critical of Sikhs? Or Buddhists. Or Muslims?  You will have to dig a long way into obscure reports to find anything. Yet Christians are 'fair game'.

It seems a similar picture across the western world, particularly the Angloshpere. In fact when it comes to the first two above, barely a word is heard at all. And Muslims are fawned over, despite being a violent ideology more akin to the Nazis than any 'monotheist' religion.  The Sihks are monotheists. 

Once it was just Jews who came in for sheer dismal hatred and demeaning. But now it is Christians.  And it is not just being critical. Politically there are increasing moves to make Christianity a 'proscribed' religion. Last year President Obama tried to forbid Catholic Mass being said on military bases. It took some courageous men to tell him where to shove his orders. 

It is all too easy to overlook that the entirity of Western Civilisation is built upon Christianity: indeed for the first 1500 years of the last 2000 it was Catholics who laid the foundations and built the edifice. One might say that the Protestants did the inerior decorating. And having shoved the originating Catholics into the background, the fabric of the building is falling apart. Evaporating. 

Our civilisation is crumbling and few seem to be shaking the collection tin to repair the leaking roof. Instead they are wanting to turn the churches into night-clubs, trendy homes or even worse, Mosques. 

But voices are starting to speak out.  Brett Stevens took an overview and our own Senator Eric Abetz brought Oz into focus.
In Defense of Christendom
Having ignored its inheritance, Europe wonders why its house is falling apart.
The death of Europe is in sight. Still hazy and not yet inevitable, but nevertheless visible and drawing nearer—like a distant planet in the lens of an approaching satellite. Europe is reaching its end not because of its sclerotic economy, or stagnant demography, or the dysfunctions of the superstate. Nor is the real cause the massive influx of Middle Eastern and African migrants. Those desperate people are just the latest stiff breeze against the timber of a desiccated civilization.
Europe is dying because it has become morally incompetent.  
It isn’t that Europe stands for nothing. It’s that it stands for shallow things, shallowly. Europeans believe in human rights, tolerance, openness, peace, progress, the environment, pleasure. These beliefs are all very nice, but they are also secondary.
What Europeans no longer believe in are the things from which their beliefs spring: Judaism and Christianity; liberalism and the Enlightenment; martial pride and capability; capitalism and wealth. 
Still less do they believe in fighting or sacrificing or paying or even arguing for these things. Having ignored and undermined their own foundations, they wonder why their house is coming apart.
What is Europe? It is Greece not Persia; Rome not Carthage; Christendom not the caliphate. These distinctions are fundamental. 
To say that Europe is a civilization apart is not to say it is better or worse. It is merely to say: This is us and that is you. Nor is it to say that Europe ought to be a closed civilization. It merely needs to be one that doesn’t dissolve on contact with the strangers it takes into its midst.
Hmmm. I would say it IS better. 
That’s what makes the diplomacy of Angela Merkel, undisputed regent of European foreign policy, so odd and disconcerting. The German chancellor leads a party called the Christian Democratic Union, one of the chief purposes of which is to rally the German right to a reasonable conservatism.
Yet there she was in Istanbul on Sunday, offering a deal in which Europe would agree to visa-free travel for Turks in Europe starting next year, along with quicker movement on Turkish membership in the European Union, if only Ankara will do more to resettle Syrian and other refugees in their own country. Europe would also foot the bill.
This is machtpolitik in reverse, in which the chancellor is begging small favors from weaker powers on temporary matters in exchange for broad concessions with far-reaching ramifications. 
There are 75 million Turks, whose per capita income doesn’t match that of Panamanians. 
The country is led by an elected Islamist with an autocratic streak, prone to anti-Semitic outbursts, who openly supports Hamas, denies the Armenian genocide, jails journalists in record numbers, and orchestrates Soviet-styleshow trials against his political opponents. 
Turkey also has borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran. These would become Europe’s borders in the event of Turkish membership.
This is the country Ms. Merkel proposes to bring into the bosom of Europe. Her apologists will say she’s being disingenuous, but that only compounds the disgrace of her overture.
It also compounds the danger. Could Europe’s liberal political traditions, its religious and cultural heritage, long survive a massive influx of Muslim immigrants, in the order of tens of millions of people? 
Not given Europe’s frequently unhappy experience with much of its Muslim population. Not when you have immigrant groups that resist assimilation and host countries that make only tentative civic demands.
And not when a heedless immigration policy, conducted in fits of moral self-congratulation, leads to the inevitable reaction. 
In Switzerland on Sunday, a plurality of voters cast ballots for the Swiss People’s Party, known mainly for its anti-immigrant stance. Its sister parties throughout Europe are also the political beneficiaries of the migrant influx, trafficking on legitimate grievances against the postmodern state to peddle illiberal cures. Few things are as dangerous to democracy as a populist with half a case.
It says something about the politics of our day that this column will be condemned as beyond the moral pale. Such is the tenor of the times that it is no longer possible to assert without angry contradiction that Europe cannot be Europe if it is not true to its core inheritance. This is the marriage of reason and revelation that produced a civilization of technological mastery tempered by human decency.
“It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost the capacity for self-love,” a prominent German theologian noted about a decade ago. “All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure. What Europe needs is a new self-acceptance, a self acceptance that is critical and humble, if it truly wishes to survive.”
That’s Joseph Ratzinger, better known as Benedict XVI. He’s out of fashion, which makes him that much more worth hearing.

Well that is the broad-brush.  But Eric pointed a stern finger directly at the purveyors of cant and bias. Sharri Markson told us. Eric is a Senator for Tasmania, so his words are heard in the Tavern. And what mournful, laboured and deliberate words they usually are, often tugid and slow but always Conservative and Principled. He is not the easiest speaker to listen to. But it is worth the listening work.
Godless Left gets clear run as media mocks Christian Right: Abetz
Senator Eric Abetz says the media had treated him and his conservative colleagues, in particular former prime minister Tony Abbott, ‘unfairly’.
Liberal senator Eric Abetz has unleashed an attack on the Canberra press gallery, arguing it is hostile to conservative, Christian politicians while giving favourable treatment to left-leaning or Muslim MPs.
 He said the media felt comfortable vilifying politicians like Mr Abbott because of their Christian faith, but would never dare speak the same way about people of other religions.
“Journalists will need to explain why they do this, but it is very clear that if somebody swears their oath on the Koran, this is a wonderful expression of diversity and to be encouraged, whereas if you swear your oath on the Bible then you’re an old fart and not to be taken seriously. Well, excuse me, what’s the difference?” he said. “There is a special negative-sentiment override for those that profess the Christian faith.”
Senator Abetz referenced a description of Mr Abbott as the “mad monk” that often appeared in the media. “Just imagine making fun of somebody else’s religion of a different nature, as in if you are a Muslim, Buddhist or a Hindu,” he said. 
“There is the double standard that you can basically vilify anyone from the Christian side of the tracks but don’t you dare touch anyone else.”
Senator Abetz, an employment minister under Mr Abbott who was dropped from cabinet by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said Australian political reporters did not give fair treatment to conservative policies, such as stopping the boats, scrapping the carbon tax and opposing gay marriage, often mocking the conservative point of view.
Mad Monk ? Or Good Man.?
He indicated that compared with other prime ministers, the media had treated Mr Abbott and John Howard far more harshly.
“The public can make up their own mind as to the coverage and treatment by the media of John Howard and Tony Abbott as prime ministers in comparison to others,” he said.
Members of the Canberra gallery gave more positive coverage to politicians and policies they agreed with, Senator Abetz said, arguing that journalists hardly ever referred to the far Left or the extreme Left when discussing the Greens or the Labor Party, but frequently referred to him, Cory Bernardi and other conservative politicians as being from the far, extreme or religious Right. 
“I’ve been referred to as from the religious Right a number of times in the media and when I’ve thrown out the challenge, when are you going to report on the godless Left? The answer is never,” he said.
The ABC was one of the worst offenders, he said, providing coverage that was markedly different for the politicians it supported. “I’m terribly loyal to my new leader but you might comment on the flirtatious approach of Leigh Sales when she interviewed Turnbull. Just ask yourself the question, did Leigh Sales ever apologise for interrupting Tony Abbott?” he said. “If you’re a conservative, you’re fair game to be interrupted.”
Senator Abetz said that when ABC host Tony Jones interviewed Joe Hockey onLateline, he interrupted him 33 times. However, when he had Wayne Swan on the previous evening, there was barely an interruption.
“Then they say Joe Hockey is unable to sell the message. Well, with 33 interruptions in one interview, one might understand why it is difficult to sell the message,” he said. Senator Abetz found the “groupthink” of political journalists had worsened since he entered federal parliament in 1994. And it was to the detriment of democracy, he said.
“If you promote conservative policies, you are immediately demonised and conservative policies are demonised,” he said.
“If you have a Christian, conservative point of view to offer, the media will have this negative-sentiment override which will simply be critical of any views that you may seek to express and that has, regrettably, been the case now for many years in the media gallery.”
The result, Senator Abetz said, was that some politicians were too intimidated to admit they agreed with conservative policies. “Parliamentarians are intimidated from stating their point of view because they know, no matter how sensibly they present it, it will somehow be misrepresented or a negative picture, negative commentary will be presented,” he said.
“I think the groupthink of the media gallery has got worse as the years have gone by and the concept of a diverse range of opinions or interpretations is now lacking.”
When asked if journalists were reflecting the view of their audience, particularly when it came to issues such as gay marriage, Senator Abetz said he did not subscribe to the view that conservative Christian values were unpopular with the public. 
He said they (the views) were unpopular with the media, which was unrepresentative of the Australian people.
“If you go to the footy, you’re a man or woman of the people, but if you go to church, what a strange individual you are. Yet around Australia, as I understand it, a lot more people go to church on a Sunday than go to football on a Saturday.”
Senator Abetz said the press gallery tended to report on issues in the same way.
“The genuine diversity of reporting just does not seem to be there as one would have hoped it might,” he said.

A Catholic would say that the media practices Calumny. A Sin. 

It is far easier to break something than make something. Civilisations can be undermined, white-anted, demeaned, dismissed and destroyed as easily by fools and charlatans as by a vigourous enemy.

Religions too.

But if the Great Evaporation is occuring then perhaps we can look to the residue left behind. 


Think on't, and drink deep.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Agincourt: 25 October 1415

My, but doesn't time fly.

600 years.

By the Lord Harry, not many of us 'Band of Brothers' left.

The English are so very like the French. I know, I know, that is almsot a heretical thing to say, but two nations that have always coveted one another's lands have to have more in common than differences. 

The Battle was a reknowned event for both countries, and much remarked upon in the past 600 years. I am grateful to not have to retell it as Gildas the Monk dropped by for a swift half after addressing the crowd in Anna's pub down the road.

They Say Azincourt; 

We Say Agincourt
Agincourt, with the assistance of Shakespeare, has become renowned as one of the greatest English (and Welsh) victories in battle. I have a passing interest in that it is just possible, though not at all certain, that I had a relative in the English ranks. Henry V, King of England, was young, tough (he had taken an arrow in the face in a battle at Shrewsbury and had it pulled or cut out, but lived to tell the tale), smart, energetic and had a gift for man management. He was also fanatically pious by our perspectives, and had, I think, the total belief that if his cause was just, he would have God fighting on his side then he would prevail. 

And he had, I think, a fanatical belief that he was indeed entitled to the French throne and his cause was just. 

In the summer of 1415 Henry had landed near and with the intent of taking the walled city of Harfleur, and thus using it as a base from which to pursue his further campaign. He landed in a France which was split by civil war between the Armagnac and Burgundian factions, into which the English has actually been sticking their noses, just to keep the pot boiling, largely on the Burgundian side, I believe. 

France was thus dangerously divided. The French King, Charles VI, was mad as a hat stand, and his heir, “the Dauphin”, was just 18 and considered not up to command of a united French army.
By October Harfleur had finally fallen but the campaigning season was drawing to a close. Henry could have left for England from Harfleur, but that might have looked suspiciously like a failed campaign, and determined to march his men to the then British held Calais. The English army trudged along and started to run out of food. By the evening of 24th October it was clear that a huge French army blocked his passage to Calais,... 

and there was no option but to fight. 

Significantly, it was raining heavily. The English army was about 6,000 – 6,500 strong. Much greater controversy surrounds the French number and disposition of the French, but the best guess is somewhere around thirty to forty thousand, around six to one. One contemporary has the figure at 50,000 but even if that is true it is unlikely all these troops were on the battle field. 

On the evening of 24th October the two armies faced each other in a standoff. The fields across which they looked were newly ploughed sowed, and the soil was the thick clay of the Somme.

Before dawn, the pious Henry celebrated his customary three masses, and at first light the two armies resumed their battle formations. After weeks of campaign and then forced march the army would have been bedraggled to say the least, the armour of the men at arms and knights dull and suffering from rust and clothes filthy. Not so king Henry, who appeared amongst his men in the clever mix of royalty and the common touch. 

Henry made what is recorded as a superb speech, rallying and inspiring his troops with a common touch and shrewd psychology. It is recorded that it was Henry who told them that the French intended to cut the two forefingers off any captured archer, but it seems this was probably clever propaganda, because it is more likely the French would have simply killed the archers, who were both feared and hated because of their effectiveness, their low birth and their lack of chivalry.
The English formation provokes great debate but I think the probable one is the generally accepted one. The main force of some 1,000 – 1,500 heavily armoured men at arms stretched along three or four deep with the archers on the wings. One of the issues about the French order of battle is: where was the cavalry? I think it is likely that the main French cavalry force was at the rear. 

For some hours the two armies stood still. The French had no particular reason to attack. All they had to do was block the way to Calais. Fear and hunger would do the rest. 

Perhaps around 11 am, Henry made a move to break the deadlock. According to some chroniclers he made a fine speech full of rhetoric as he ordered his army forward. The French force was so overwhelming in number that the question can rightly be posed ........

not “how did the English win?” but “how did the French manage to lose?” 

There are a number of reasons…
One was the battlefield was too small to accommodate all these men on foot, so other compromises had to be made. It seems that the French had about 4,000 of their own archers and cross-bow men. In the initial battle plan they were supposed to give covering fire and harass and suppress the English archers. 

But with so many important noble men on the field all vying to be at the front there was no room for them (the archers) at the front of the army. 

Next, the size of the force and the lack of overall command also must have slowed decisive acts and communication. 

There was also Armagnac versus Burgundian rivalries and splits within the main French cavalry force, and personal rivalries too. 

And it seems that when the English attack was launched, only part of the cavalry responded, less than 500 men. And they were to ride straight into the face of the English. 

And thus the great tragedy of Agincourt began.
What the plate armour could not protect was the horses of the knights in the charge, and it upsets me terribly to consider the damage the hail of arrows must have done. I will not dwell on that save to say that the charge was a disaster and must have served only to churn up the already muddy field. Those very few brave French knights who actually made it to the English archers were dragged down amongst the wooden stakes and finished off in short order. 

As many before me have observed, the English archers had no counterpart to a chivalric code; and they knew that if they lost they would be worthless and not ransomed, but simply killed. Still they struggled on through the sucking mud. Behind them, the second huge battalion of French men at arms began the long trudge too, the sodden field ever more churned up.
Worse, the mud was a killer. A knight in plate armour who fell in the glutinous mud would have been stuck, sucked down as if by magnets because of the suction on his armour. If he couldn’t get his helmet off he would have drowned or suffocated. 

Men at arms must have been slipping and falling all over the field. I think there was a collapse, and a wall of stranded French men at arms, and as the thousands behind pressed on the tragic barrier grew. All across the line piles of dead and dying start to build up in the press, with men being crushed and asphyxiated in the chaos  

less a battle than colossal crowd disaster 

- as the men in the vanguard slipped and fell and tripped over, and the endless press of men kept coming from behind. Men fell and were crushed by the relentless press and great heaps of men built up.
It was a battle for survival, kill or be killed. The English finished off the stricken and helpless French with daggers, war hammers and the lead hammers they had used to hammer in their staves. Without saying too much about the brutality with which they did this, this partly explains why it proved so difficult to identify many of the dead knights once they had been stripped of their chivalric emblems. Their faces were smashed. 

There is also the matter of the fact that towards the end of the battle the Henry gave the order to massacre all but there must important prisoners there was the rumour of a possible second wave of attack from the French. This the English archers did with alacrity. Some suggest 2000 men met their fate in this way. 

Agincourt, then, is not simply of a battle, but in a way of a catastrophic accident. For Henry it was proof he had the righteous cause and God’s support.
The cost? It is as ever difficult because the sources differ. 

The English probably lost no more than 400 men. 

As for the French, it is difficult to know. Author Bernard Cornwell suggests 5,000 but my sense of the catastrophe is greater. It cut a swathe of death through the nobility of northern France, and wiped out very many of the Armagnac leaders. Hardly a family was untouched and some lost fathers sons and cousins. Many wives and mothers waited for months without news of the fate of their loved ones, before reluctantly concluding that they had been slain in the battle.
The English can indeed celebrate Agincourt as an extraordinary victory against all odds. 

And yet I am bound to say I look on it with a touch of sadness rather than triumph. 

Unlike a battle like Trafalgar where I can see the point, I can’t really see that it achieved much at all, and the terrible death toll of man and beast seems to my now middle-aged perspective a tragedy as much as a triumph. 

I would rather advance on my French counterpart armed with a glass of vin de pays and some fine cheese than a war hammer. 

Such is the perspective of the older. 

I have to agree.

Let us raise a Tankard to the French foe.


Sport: From the Sublime to the stupid.

We like a bit of sport in the Tavern, this old Tavern Keeper having been sort of sporty in his youth.
Mind you, that was a while ago and since then I became a passable archer and parachutist, both of which can be competetive but really demand that a chap be better than he was the last time.  Apart from Rugger I was rarely a team man.
A younger Tavern Keeper. !
I used to use a bow and arrow to hunt wild pigs too. (Mind you, that was in Malaya and I did have a chap behind me with a rifle too). I much prefer the sort of sport where a man is constantly seeking to 'go further, go deeper' in himself. Develop his skill and courage; his agility and strength.
Like this:

I once started and ran a 'club' for military assault course running. It was a splendid way to spend an afternoon in the forest. But such things rarely get onto our screens or get set up on our local sports grounds. They would be great fun to watch and take part.  I would have those Chilean chaps on my Tavern grounds to watch from the patio.

Mind you, we have had quite a bit of daring-do here as you might have seen.

But in general, modern team 'sport' is really boring and sports fans are encouraged to be brainless. Spectators are treated to dancing girls in America before armoured men 'play' football. It is a very frantic game, full of pre-game hysteria, but I can watch barely ten minutes of it; and they themselves seem only able to play in three-minute bursts of quite mind-numbing unsporting activity in which players who are nowhere near the ball simply knock each other over.  Why? And did I mention the armour, including helmets? Odd lot, Americans. It is combative and tough. It is a game for very tough chaps. But....

At least in Rugger the chaps are monsters, unarmed and unarmoured. True 'contact' sport, with blood!  It is just as rough as American football but the chap with the ball is the target that everyone goes for.  I doubt many Americans, raised on highly armoured football would ever last ten minutes on a rugger pitch.

Look for yourself. Compare. 

As for English football, it is all one can do to stop falling asleep in the rain and wind. 


Basketball and baseball, cricket and such dominate the 'ratings, and the players recieve a small fortune in salary,  for what?  Playing for an hour or so?  And don't get me going on Australian Rules.  James, a regular here, loves it, but to me it is a gargle-mixture of a game where thuggish players routinely cheat and foul and even the scoring is aided by multiple points for goals and goal posts either side of the goal posts to make even blind Freddy able to get through.

I could go on but fortunately Mike Cunningham was in the bar saying what many think.
and the Answer is?
Listening with only one ear this morning, to the usual tripe and propaganda bilge from the BBC, care of their Toady Programme. The original discussion, as far as remembered, was about how teenaged girls would jump into hysterics over some spotty-faced Boy band, and how this differed from people watching a rugby or football match. 
The presenters and some bloke were talking about sport, and how it was ‘understandable’ for a grown man to cry if his team had lost, or won for that matter; but this ‘emotional response’ was totally different to a bunch of adolescent females showing off their hormonal urges as a group.
Now, as for myself; I just cannot understand the whole idea of ‘my team’ or being ‘the winner’, or the ‘best’: or whatever is shovelled out by the sports-lovers lobby, which of course is vast and all-pervasive.
You and me both, Mike. 
Sport itself, in all its forms, is just another Industry, and all its individual tendril offshoots are dedicated to doing one thing, and one thing only, to take your cash, and endeavour to get ever more of your cash, and business’ cash, and tv and broadband cash, to enrich the Empire whilst delivering: exactly what? 
Emotional release? Team loyalty? Admiration of individual endeavour? 
Let’s face it, sports fans are just as deluded as any other mass entertainment audience. 
When the  Chelsea fans roar their approval, what are they actually stating? That their team is better than their opponents? That they are ‘winners’? What actually have they, the spectators, silly, deluded people that they are, really won, or achieved? 
When an Olympic crowd of eighty-odd thousand cheers a victory in a distance race, are they applauding the winner, or are they stating that their country, and its political philosophy, is somehow on a higher plane than the runners who came second, or last? What I am asking, in admittedly a roundabout way is this: 
What’s the Point?
So your team wins, or the runner comes first, or the penalty-taker misses, or whatever god-forsaken physical activity which you hew to makes the headlines on the back pages of some gutter-press production. Why the glorification? Why the deluded doom when the ‘Team’ is headed, inexorably, for the demotion area of the League? There seems to be a total lack of awareness that, for every winner, there must be a ‘loser’. 
I remember reading some ‘pop-ed’ piece where the female writer came home on a Saturday afternoon to find her fiancè lying on the floor, beating his fists into the carpet, whilst moaning ‘Liverpool lost!’ 
Big deal! 
The governmental, with the emphasis on the ‘mental’ part of that word, push when the Olympics were being touted around as the saviour of all things British is but typical of the hype surrounding sport and its promotion. The Olympics would give new emphasis to inclusivity, and general health, along with all the usual mealy-mouthed phrases from the lowest of the low: an ex-Government Minister.
The words which shape the phrase ‘role-models’ are used, especially in football, to determine who is being hero-worshipped by the plebs this month; but just let us examine those who are being touted as the ‘role-model’ for impressionable youngsters in today’s shabby little universe. 
The likes of Ryan Giggs, of whom I wrote  “a footballer whose ‘clean-living’ image was parlayed into a huge array of sponsorships was found, after the removal of not one but several ‘super-injunctions’ was found to be leading such an amoral lifestyle as not only carrying on a liaison with some prostitute, but also to have had sex with his brother’s wife over an eight year period: is portrayed as a role-model; no wonder men of my generation shake their heads in silent sorrow.” 
'Image' is it. Not the substance. And young people are suckered in to part with their cash and emulate the crude and thuggish.
In my younger days, our heroes were heroes, worthy of the name, but that sort of individual wouldn’t stand much chance of reward in these days of instant glory, and of fame for fame’s sake. I wrote of a young man who was being touted as the ‘next great thing’ in football, but I also wrote of that same youngster as being an amoral thug who threatened a contemporary with violence because his friends had been charged on evidence given by this young man. The footballer was named Ravel Morrison; and I musingly asked if an elderly man would post a picture of Ravel Morrison on a blogsite some twenty-three years after his death? Somehow, I doubt it!
The huge business of Sport, whether it is football and the fatally-corrupted & -flawed FIFA, or Athletics and the dope-ridden IAAF; cricket, and the fantastic numbers of Indian enthusiasts; or any one of a dozen differing sporting endeavours, are all inextricably linked with cash, with sponsorship, with the huge deals for global television. 
But again I ask the only question which counts: What’s the Point? Does it really matter if one man or woman runs faster, jumps longer, or moves a ball more skilfully than his opponent? 
Apart from individual earnings, that is? 
Why this adoration of certain people because of either a natural or learned ability to perform certain manoeuvres? Why the fevered following for a team of a certain city, or even a locality; despite there being hardly any native sons in that team? When I was much younger, my Dad and my brother went to all Newcastle home matches, and there they could watch and cheer men who came from the same villages and vicinity as the fans. But could a similar family identify with a team today? I doubt it very, very much indeed!
Mike nails much of what is wrong. The appalling 'stars' who gain fame and fortune, paid for by people earning barely above poverty line wages. 

And that's just the men's sports. Women also want into the fame and fortune but can't seem to attract the same level of ludicrous hero-worship and sponsorship. 

But they whine about a 'pay-gap' and the lady reporters feed their envy. Until a hard working and talented woman slaps them down.

And all the time they miss the point.  It's not about gender. Nothing to do with 'men' and 'women'. Its about money. Industry. Taking vast amounts of money from drongos who are more like rock concert fans willing to pay $150 to watch some children or geriatrics gyrate crudely and make raucous noise in a stadium. Oh, by the way, the 'ladies' seem to make a lot of money there.  Miley Cyrus, for instance is just a grown-up three year old at home showing her knickers to visitors. For that and her screetching she gets a fortune that a family man wage earner cannot even dream of ever earning in his lifetime.

Your Daughters'  Role Model ????

Have you never wondered just what 'music' audiences see or hear to scream about? 

It is an hysteria. Not 'appreciation'.

Sport as it is presented today is no different.

I have watched women's football and woman's cricket.  Clearly the ladies enjoy playing it and they can often acquit themselves well. But it is just as boring as the men's game. I have watched women's basketball (they call it netball here) and that is boring. Ten minutes and I am back to the bar, wiping down splashes.

Too few woman are daft enough to want to spend $100 to stand for an hour and a half to watch them in a stadium. 

That's why they don't get paid much.

The men are not 'worth' more.

There are many 'sports' of skill and strategic brilliance that rarely make it into popular sight. I go back to archery again, as an example. It is a fantastic sport, taking in styles beyond target shooting. There is field shooting and Clout and even archery golf! Golfing is incredibly boring until you put golfers up against archers. THEN it is a great competition. 

You will never see it televised.

Crikey even Lawn Bowls is more exciting  and skillful than football.

Drink up and list the sports that YOU would like to see.

I'll get a fresh pint in for you.