Sunday, May 30, 2010

A great gentleman

With much sadness I report that a great gentleman passed away this morning. He was by occupation a sawmill worker but he was one of those natural gentlemen you often used to find in country Australia. My father was one too.

I am not sure how I would define a gentleman formally but an unassuming man who instinctively does his best to put other people at their ease would certainly score highly -- and Bill was one of those. He was the second husband of Anne's mother -- married after Anne's father died at a relatively young age.

Bill was 93 and slipped quietly away -- with the primary cause being cancer. He was much loved by those who knew him well and despite my having known him only a little, the quality of the man was always evident to me and I feel keenly how sad it is for the world and his family to have lost such a great gentleman

Requiescat in pace Reginald William Wilkinson

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A birthday dinner

I hosted a small gathering to celebrate Jenny's birthday on Thursday. We dined at an Indian restaurant she likes near where she lives.

Present were Jenny, Nanna, Joe, Anne and myself. The dinner was good as always and I brought along a bottle of Seaview "champagne" for toasts.

Joe however didn't want to drink his champagne so Anne got it -- as she was the only one not driving and Nanna was on some medication. I used not to like champagne either so I was not surprised by Joe's reaction. He says that Scotch is his drink. I am mostly a Scotch drinker too.

Joe seemed in good spirits and that was probably in part due to the fact that his recent breakup with Samantha was amicable. I have mostly managed amicable breakups too.

Jenny told us a bit about her recent adventures down in Sydney when she went to see Paul and Sue off on their world trip aboard an ocean liner. We talked quite a lot about the dragon Japanese lady who runs "Wafu" -- Sydney's best Sushi restaurant -- where Jenny, Paul and Sue dined just before the departure. The lady is Yukako Ichikawa and she is famous for demanding that her customers eat up everything on their plates. As her food is so good, however, people are prepared to be bossed around a bit.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The "Nazi" Pope

I originally wrote the piece below for my DISSECTING LEFTISM blog, but as it was written with considerable personal feeling, I thought it might have some place here as well

I am not going to say one thing below that is original. But it always appalls me when people believe the opposite of the truth and I have to speak up about it.

Eugenio Pacelli was a small but determined man of great intelligence and high principle. He became Pope Pius XII in 1939 and was Pope throughout WWII. He had been papal nuncio in Germany for many years prior to that and came to speak perfect German -- a remarkable achievement for an Italian who had all his education in Italy. During his time in Germany he saw of course the rise of Nazism and regularly condemned it in no uncertain terms.

In 1937 he wrote on behalf of Pius XI the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge ("With burning sorrow") -- a condemnation of Nazi persecution of non-Nazis. Encyclicals are usually written in Latin so writing this encyclical in German showed how determined the church was to speak up on behalf of all those being oppressed by the Nazis.

The tiny minority of Pacelli's critics who have some knowledge of history sometimes point to the fact that in his role as nuncio, Pacelli was responsible for a Konkordat with the German Federal government that was signed in 1933. Pacelli's job was to arrange concordats (agreements) with various governments that would safeguard the independence of church schools, allow the preaching of Catholic doctrine etc. And he did in fact achieve many such agreements, an agreement with the Southern German (and very Catholic) State of Bayern (Bavaria) being one of the earliest. German Laender, were, like American States today, substantially independent and had their own legal and school systems etc.

Pacelli had been trying for some time to get such an agreement with the Federal German government but had always been knocked back. When Hitler came to power, however, he was keen to legitimate himself so he changed the prior Federal stance and signed up. At that stage Hitler was simply the newly-elected German Kanzler (Prime Minister) and there was of course no knowledge of his future deeds. So how was Pacelli at fault about that? It may be noted that when Mit brennender Sorge was issued Hitler broke his agreements in the Konkordat and persecuted Catholic clergy. So the arrangement of a Konkordat was a wise precaution, even if it was a precaution that ultimately failed.

Pacelli did however learn from what happened when Mit brennender Sorge was issued. When war broke out, Pacelli fell largely silent. He saw that he would probably bring down further persecution of the church by adding to his existing criticisms of Nazism. Instead he concentrated on deeds rather than words. The Vatican became a lifeline for endangered Jews. It supplied money to get them out of Germany and false ID documents saying that they were Christians. And note that this was at a time when the church regarded the Jews as enemies. In the theology of the time, the Jews had killed the Catholics' God and that was one hell of a bad way to start a friendship.

And when the Germans came to Italy itself, Pacelli rose to even greater efforts. He exempted monasteries and nunneries from their normal rules so that they could take in and hide Jews that the Nazis were pursuing. Even his own summer residence at Castel Gandolfo was said at one time to be hiding 3,000 Jews, though nobody knows the exact number.

And this is the man whom many Leftists refer to as "Hitler's Pope"! So why the lie? Why is this exceptionally fine man "controversial"?

Easy: Soviet disinformation. As we all know, the church utterly opposed "Godless" Communism and the Soviets rightly perceived the Vatican as an important enemy. So the Soviets and their fellow travellers in the West put about this abominable lie that Pacelli was antisemitic and sympathetic to the Nazis. And it suits the anti-Christian stance of modern-day Leftists to believe it too.

So it grieves me greatly that this true man of God is taken for the opposite of what he was. The world needs more men like Eugenio Pacelli -- perhaps now more than ever. Even I as an atheist salute him.

There is an interesting story here about how one man finally broke through the lies and found out the truth about Pacelli.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Leftists and the armed forces

I originally wrote the comments below for my DISSECTING LEFTISM blog but I think they have some place here too

I have long argued that the difference between Left and Right can only be understood psychologically rather than ideologically. Leftists run on pure emotion. Conservatives have emotions too but they are governed by reason as well.

Leftists will use ANY argument that suits their emotional needs of the moment. They have certain recurrent themes in their arguments -- such as "poverty" being the cause of all ills -- but such themes are little more than verbal tics. They are not a serious attempt to explain anything.

A rather hilarious proof of that is that Leftists for quite a while after 9/11/2001 explained Muslim antagonism to America as being caused by poverty -- even though Osama bin Laden is a billionaire! The Leftist mouths uttering such nonsense were clearly not engaged in any serious way with thought or any sincere effort to understand.

And one of the things that Leftist emotions will never engage with is the army. Leftists just can't understand why anybody would LIKE being in the army and Leftist governments will always cut back military funding if they can plausibly do so. Australia's Leftist government has done so this week, even though there are frequent calls on the Australian army for overseas deployments to various theatres of conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan included.

Yet lots of people DO like being in the army, including women. In my far-off military days the corps with the longest waiting list was the WRAACS (Women's Royal Australian Army Corps). Each corps has a certain "establishment" -- meaning that the corps can only enlist as many people as they are allocated by the defence bureaucrats. So a popular corps will often have a waiting list of people waiting for a vacancy in the establishment. And LOTS of women wanted to get into the WRAACS.

And that continues to this day. Even exceptionally attractive women often love the army. G.I. Jill won a beauty contest as Miss Utah but still was keen to get back to military duties. And Miss England (aka "Combat Barbie") at the moment is keen to get back into army uniform too. And my most recent bride spent 9 years in the army and you can see what she looks like here (scroll down).

And who could be more privileged than a member of the British Royal family? But it IS a military family and Prince Harry in particular is well known for his devotion to the army and his keenness for active service. He even once said of his very attractive girlfriend, Chelsy, that he loves Chelsy but the army comes first! I doubt that any Leftist mind could comprehend that! I can, though.

Left to right above: Prince Charles, Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry. Photo from earlier this month

And in the most minor of ways, my own totally undistinguished military career shows a little of that spirit too. In the Vietnam era I was at a university in Brisbane where there were vast anti-Vietnam rallies. So I joined a local army reserve unit. While most of my fellow students were marching around with placards, I was trying my best to acquire some military skills. And I enjoyed it immensely.

After completing my first degree, however, I moved down to Sydney and naturally assumed that I would join the Sydney reserve unit of my corps. But they were "up to establishment"! They had no vacancy for me. So did I just say "too bad!". No way! I went on full-time duties with the regular army instead! The regular unit of my corps had vacancies even if the reserve unit did not!

I can't imagine that any Leftist would understand that. Personally, I think they are inadequate people who are simply too cowardly for the army. They will of course think that I am simply stupid but as I have a Ph.D. and 200+ academic publications that explanation would be as silly as their "poverty" explanation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A history night

Paul and Sue are off on another big world trip shortly so we had a small get-together at my place to discuss history and politics before they went away. They want to know as much as possible about the many places they will visit worldwide and Paul in particular wanted to fill in his knowledge of the history and politics of the places they will visit.

That is of course a very large order so we mostly talked about current British and Australian politics but also about how the world got Hitler. I gave a broad outline of how Hitler rose to power and what the secret of his success among Germans was.

I pointed out that Hitler had many predecessors as a Leftist nationalist, noting particularly Napoleon, Napoleon III and Mussolini and that the combination of nationalism ("we are great") and socialism ("we will look after you") has powerful appeal.

But I cover that all in great depth here of course

Surprises for Paul were where the word "Nazi" came from and the fact that the Nazi Hakenkreuz was NOT a Swastika. I showed Paul what a real Asian Swastika looked like, and assured him he would see thousands of them in India.

Sue very kindly took on the job of feeding us as well as taking part in the discussions. Her Cuban sandwiches were a great hit and the apple and rhubarb crumble she followed it with was a most pleasant surprise. Maybe she knew I am a great fan of rhubarb. There is a picture if it below:

We washed it all down with a bottle of Seaview champagne. Sue even opened the champagne for us. What a woman!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers' Day today

My mother is deceased but Jenny, the mother of my son Joe, is certainly not. All four of her children wanted to visit her today and with partners etc., there were about 10 of us in all. So Jenny put on a BBQ lunch for us all at her place and we had a good and harmonious time with lots of laughs and recollections of times past. There was much talk of babies with one present and one on the way.

The lunch included some very good Boerewors and satay sticks as well as the usual chops and sausages. Despite his current stockmarket woes, Paul was his usual ebullient self but Joe seemed rather quiet. I figured that he had some problems on his mind. I think that your teens and early 20s is a time for problems but we all work them out eventually.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Baby Sahara at 5 months

She can sit up now. Last time I saw her, I was surprised at how chubby she was -- but Anne tells me that she should be chubby at that age. And Anne is a former mothercraft nurse so she should know.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A concert of "Royal" music

That mostly meant Handel of course. It was held in St John's cathedral tonight and all the brass that Handel uses sure sounded good in the great stone cavern of a neo-Gothic cathedral. We had both the Fireworks and the Water music. Plus a rousing rendition of "Zadok the Priest", complete with enthusiastic cries of "God save the King". It did my old Royalist heart good.

It was given by the Camerata of St. John, who have an unfortunate addiction to talking about the music before they play it. Music should speak for itself in my opinion. You get it or you don't and talking about it won't alter that.

We also had Elgar's "Land of Hope and Glory" both as a program item and as an encore. Looks like patriotism is not dead yet among those of us of British origins.

One program item had me puzzed: "Old 100%" by Vaughan Williams. But as soon as I recognized what it was I got the joke. It was a powerful setting of the popular hymn "All people that on Earth do dwell".


I should have mentioned that we went to the local Sushi train for dinner before the concert. And they had some excellent offerings that Anne had not seen before so I put some of them on her plate and she was most pleased. A Japanese dinner and a Handel concert to follow comes pretty close to the high life in my humble world