Sunday, June 30, 2013

Snapshot of an American couple in Ireland*

OK, it's not a snapshot. It's a prose portrait. If you don't like reading, look at the Swazi girls.

This word picture appears in McCarthy's Bar (Hodder and Stoughton, 2000), written by Pete McCarthy, by birth but fully Irish in spirit. His mission in life is to visit any and every pub named "McCarthy's",  hence his travels to the Auld Sod which this book describes. This scene is set in Killarney...

Outside the big hotels, pony and trap drivers with the faces of medieval assassins are touting for business among gaggles of befuddled recent arrivals who are wandering around in a collective trance, like Stepford tourists. "Will the horse expect extra oats?" enquires an admirably self-aware American, who, at a guess, has won a trip to Europe as first prize in the Fattest Arse in the Midwest competition.

Perched on top of the card in baseball cap, stripy stretch fabric polo shirt and vast architect-designed shorts, he looks like Tweedledum. It takes two of the assassins to hoist his wife up there to join him, like Tweedledee in drag. The horse craps ostentatiously in derision, and off they trundle, to provide a bit of comic relief for the people stuck in traffic jams....

I'm beginning to realise that the parts of the country I've been in so far have been deserted because every bugger's here. Suddenly the gridlocked traffic is overtaken by Tweedledum and Tweedledee, careering along in their souped-up tumbril as the assassin cracks his whip.

To show that they've been assimilated into Celtic society, they're both now draped in tartan picnic rugs. He's smoking a large cigar, while she's opted for a packet of fudge as big as Dobbin's nosebag, to tide her over till dinner in half an hour's time.

Irish hotels catering for Americans are aware of the need to serve American-sized portions, so she'll soon be tucking into a whole spit-roast pig, followed by a main course, all washed down with pints of Diet Coke to stop her from getting fat....

As I'm about to leave [the pub], the crowded room is suddenly filled to bursting point as the Tweedles come in with great commotion, accompanied by an even heavier couple....
"So how are you enjoying your holiday?" asks the barman, as he pours whiskey for the men, and something green for their partners.
"Oh, it's just gorgeous," says Tweedledee.
"Yeah, terrific," agrees Tweedledum. "So old-fashioned."
"And so unspoiled," says Dee. "Say, do you have a rest room?"
"Guess I'll wait then," says Dee. "We don't do stairs."

"So where are you folks from?" asks the barman.
"Oh, we live in Chicago," says Dum, "but my father was Irish."
There's a general murmur of approval and I feel ashamed. This man I've been mocking as a stereotype of mindless tourism turns out to be as authentically Irish as I am. I feel like apologising, though we've never even met.
"Sure, that's great," says the barman. "So where exactly was your daddy from?"
"He was from Texas."

McCarthy's Pub is a fine book, a rollicking good read. And let me reassure American readers that McCarthy  is not anti-American. He's just anti-tourist, skewering alike the English, the Germans, the Italians, the Scandinavians...and did I mention the English? Here's a trenchant quote:

Once somewhere has more tourists than local people, more knick-knack shops than newsagents or groceries, then equilibrium has been destroyed, the game is up, and the balance has irrevocably shifted in favour of revenue, occupancy and the forces of darkness. Real life may continue, but to the visitor it's all but invisible.

Agent 3, who lives in a tourist trap (and sent McCarthy's Pub to me) says this is all too true.

* Note from Ed.: Walt wrote "Eire", not "Ireland", but I changed it so Americans would understand.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Video: Can you solve the Missing Square Puzzle?

Here's a very interesting, very puzzling video featuring Argentinian magician Norberto Jansenson. See if you can figure out how he does the Missing Square Puzzle.

Thanks and a tip of the top hat to Agent 6 for forwarding this video, which has been viewed well over 6 million times.

What you're seeing is what mathematicians call a dissection paradox, known since the 16th century A.D. The key to the puzzle is the fact that the diagonal edges of some of the component pieces don't match. If you watch carefully, you can see that they don't quite line up. Click here to see a complete explanation, complete with diagrams and an animation.

Major victory for freedom of speech in Canada. (Americans, take note!)

Those who, like Walt, believe in freedom of speech can rejoice this weekend. At least in Canada, that is. [Paula D. writes: "Only in Canada, you say? Pity!"] The infamous Section 13 of Canada's Human Right Act, long criticized by free-speech advocates as overly restrictive and tantamount to censorship, has at last been repealed.

A private member's bill sponsored by Conservative Member of Parliament Brian Storseth was passed by the House of Commons recently, in spite of not having received the official endorsement of Steve "Stephen" Harper's Tory government. It duly worked its way through the Senate which passed it before going on holiday this week.

Thus Section 13, which allowed [encouraged, surely! Ed.] complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission for "the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet" gets tossed into the dustbin of history... and not a moment too soon!

Mr. Storseth called the law a "flawed piece of legislation" and characterized the human rights tribunal as "a quasi-judicial, secretive body that takes away your natural rights as a Canadian."

"[Section 13] had actually stopped being used as a shield, as I think it was intended, to protect civil liberties, and started being used as a sword against Canadians, and it's because it was a poorly-written piece of legislation in the first place," he said.

Chief wielder of the "sword" was a champion of political correctness fittingly named Richard Warman. The barking mad human rights zealot who, since 2001, brought no fewer than 16 complaints under Section 13. Warman's frivolous and vexatious accusations were all funded by Canadian taxpayers, since the CHRC covers the costs of the complainant, even if the complaint is dismissed.

One person who found this out the hard way, as Agent 9 reminds us, is Father Alphonse de Valk, CSB, the founder of Catholic Insight magazine. In 2006 he got dragged into the war against the excesses of human rights commissions when the CHRC charged him with hate speech after a complaint (from "guess who?") about some writings critical of homosexual behaviour. He was eventually cleared of all charges but still had to pay 1000s of dollars in legal bills.

Producing and disseminating "hate speech" remains a crime in Canada, but regulating it will be left to the courts (as it was previously), not to human rights tribunals. But while anyone -- even a raving loony -- could file a human rights complaint, charges of "hate crimes" under the Criminal Code of Canada require the approval of the Attorney-General.

Also pleased with this unexpected victory for free speech and common sense should be Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant, who have been demonized for writing the truth as they see it. In "How 9/11 killed Canadians' appetite for human-rights speech codes", National Post columnist Jonathan Kay says that "confronting the human rights industry...wasn't just a matter of free-speech principle but a matter of civilizational self-protection. The average Canadian may not give a hoot about his freedom to use the N-word. But he'll be damned if he's going to let the government prevent him from saying what he things about burkas [sic] and terrorists."  

Further reading: "Father de Valk winner of CCRL award". The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Military intelligence: the true story of Project X-Ray

Once the United States got (somewhat belatedly) engaged in World War II, it quickly became apparent that some Weapon of Mass Destruction [Did they really use that phrase, then? Ed.] would be needed to vanquish the treacherous Japanese. In 1942 the atomic bomb was barely a notion, so other options were considered.

The specs called for something that would inflict lots of damage on the Japanese home islands without loss of too many American lives. Dr. Lytle Adams, a Pennsylvania dentist, came up with an idea, perhaps while inhaling a bit of laughing gas. Bat bombs! Of course!!!

The experimental weapon consisted of a bomb-shaped casing with numerous compartments, each containing a Mexican Free-tailed Bat. (No, Walt doesn't know why they're called that.) Each bat would have a one-ounce timed incendiary bomb strapped to its wee chest. Dropped from a bomber at dawn, the casings would deploy a parachute in mid-flight and open to release the bats which would then land in the eaves and attics of Japanese buildings.

When the bats tried to fly away, they would chew through the straps so as to lighten their load for takeoff. The incendiaries would thus be ignited, starting fires in inaccessible places in the flimsy wood and paper construction of the Japanese cities. [Are you sure this wasn't actually Dr. Rube Goldberg? Ed.]

No, Walt is not making this up. But wait, it gets better... Dr. Adams happened to be a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, who submitted to her husband the President, who approved it personally. So the US military-industrial complex [Did they really use that phrase, then? Ed.] went into action.

After two years spent on research -- not to mention rounding up a couple of million of the critters -- the US Army tested the bat bombs in New Mexico. During the testing, several bats escaped, setting fire to a large aircraft hangar and a fuel tank.

The Army cleverly handed the bat bomb project over to the Navy, which named it Project X-ray and passed the buck -- the bats, actually -- to the Marine Corps. Some military genius decided the trick was to freeze the bats into hibernation before dropping them out of the bombers. In another test run, the frozen bats remained asleep and augured into the desert sands without setting off so much as a spark.

More tests were scheduled for the summer of 1944 but the programme was cancelled by Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King when he was told the bat bomb would likely not be combat ready until mid-1945. By that time it was estimated that $2 million had been spent on Project X-ray, afterwards referred to by Dr. Stanley P. Lovell, director of the Office of Strategic Services as "Die Fledermaus Farce".

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supremes say: Let gayety reign unconfined

Did you hear the bells pealing [tolling, surely! Ed.] today? The gay rights advocates and heavy hitters in the human rights industry -- for that is what it is -- are all agog because, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled the federal ban on benefits to same-sex couples unconstitutional.

That's right. The DOMA is doomed, and Christian/family values be damned. Walt thinks the weakening of the institution of marriage and the decline in family values generally is the cancer that's going to kill our Western "culture". The Supremes either don't see it that way or (more likely) have given up trying to fight the gay lobby in the media and in the Obama administration. (Presumably the gay lobby in the Vatican had nothing to do with this week's decision.)

Click here to read "Supreme Court strikes down key part of Defense of Marriage Act", from today's Washington Post.

Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court also struck another blow (albeit a backhanded one) for the LGBT crowd by declining to rule on California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, just as it says in the holy books of all the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

Click here to read "Supreme Court clears way for same-sex marriage in California", also in the Washington Post.

Wonderful, isn't it? Now all the buggers and sushi-eaters in San Francisco can get "married" and enjoy the same rights as those who think homosexuality is unnatural. It may be disordered, but it's not illegal any more!
Ontario's openly gay premier, Kathleen Wynne, has applauded the decisions. So has the not-openly-gay President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama.

So... Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry are now the law of the land. In a country where there was an even balance between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature, the elected members of the last-named body could undo the wrongs which the "justices" have done. Sadly, as we have seen with the persistence of Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade, the USA is not such a country. In America, the Supreme Court rules supreme.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Don't put saints on your euros, Slovakia told

You don't have to be Slavic to know about Saints Cyril and Methodius, but it helps. Cyril and Methodius were brothers, born in Thessalonica (in modern-day Greece) in the 9th century A.D. They became missionaries bringing the Gospel of Christ to the peoples of eastern Europe, particularly Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they received the title "Apostles to the Slavs".

The Carpathian Basin, in which Cyril and Methodius travelled and preached, includes modern-day Slovakia, where the saints are highly revered. That's why, when Slovakia became a separate country and joined the euro zone, its government decided to honour the saints on its coins.

Sadly, the Slovaks are being made aware of the doggedly secular humanist policies of the European Union. The European Commission -- the bureaucrats in Brussels -- has now ordered the National Bank of Slovakia not to mint new euros that would feature images of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

Each member state within the European Union has the authority to mint its own versions of the euro, incorporating its own national designs. But the European Commission ruled that the Slovakian design, going back over 1100 years, violates the EU principle of "religious neutrality" -- freedom from religion.

The controversy over the Slovakian coins is the latest in a series of disputes over the role of Christianity in the European identity. See "A More Secular Europe, Divided by the Cross", from the New York Times.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI frequently observed that the shared Christian culture is the foundation of European identity, and without that common culture the European Union will be bound only by shifting economic interests. But is the European Commission listening? Errr, no.

Another Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary... not enough?

At the specific request of Pope Francis, the bishops of Portugal consecrated that country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of Fatima. This week Béchara Cardinal Boutros Raï, the patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, consecrated Lebanon and the entire Middle East to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin. Click here to read the report from Fides.

During the consecration, Cardinal Boutros Raï prayed:
Our Lady of Lebanon, we ask you to bestow your tenderness upon our beloved country Lebanon and all the Middle East, this region which soil witnessed the fulfillment of the events of His plan of redemption and from where the Church, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, took off to bring the Good News to the entire populations, bearing witness to the Lord Jesus until martyrdom and acting as the guarantor of the treasure of faith, in order to transmit it from generation to generation, until it reached us.

It is wonderful to see the aid of the Blessed Virgin being sought, for the intervention of Heaven is the only way the world will ever know a period of peace, as She promised when She appeared to the seers of Fatima.

Click here to read the report from Fides.

However... the princes of the Church and Pope Francis himself need to recall that what Our Lady asked for was the solemn and public Consecration of Russia, by name, by the Pope in union with all the bishops of the world. Nothing more...and nothing less. As Pope John Paul II said himself, Our Lady is still waiting.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The apostrophe is... like... such a problem... y'know?

Apparently Walt and Richard Nordquist are not the only ones concerned about the decline in standards of written and spoken English. Comments on yesterday's post have come from:

Agent 2 - What a relief to know that the apostrophe catastrophe is grinding on someone else. I see it everyday but of course it is not on something that has spellcheck. Signs in stores, or flyers, "store hour's" and "two pizza's" plus the name "the Caruso's (when it is not possessive!)

I am not a daughter of an English teacher. I have trouble with dangling participles and when to use lay, lie, who and whom, however can usually avoid those in a conversation, but you can't avoid seeing an apostrophe and that really makes you look dumb!

Agent 17 - It won’t do any good as it has metastasized, but please attack the creeping misuse of “I am like”. I even hear it from TV talking heads.....aaaargh!

Unfortunately, William Safire has shuffled off this mortal coil, but his column "On Language" marches on in the New York Times. [Shouldn't there be commas after "column" and the close quote mark following "Language"? Ed.] Walt also recommends the collection of columns published under the same title in 1980 and reprinted umpteen times since.

And... this is for Ed.... the UK news and satire magazine Private Eye has for years ended the letters column in its print edition with a section now called "Pedants Corner". The previous title was "Pedant's Corner", but a pedant argued that, since there were many contributors, it should be called "Pedants' Corner", and... you get the point. Perhaps Ian Hislop and Richard Nordquist are related? We should be told!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lets kill the apostrophe ???

We don't get a whole lot of comments on our posts. Some readers may think there's no point in arguing with someone who has his own printing press (figuratively speaking). But others, we think, don't write for fear that Ed. will catch a grammatical error and make fun of the commenter's inability to follow the rules of English grammar and composition.

This fear is not unfounded. Walt is the son of an English teacher. [Do you mean a teacher who was born in England or a teacher of the English language? Ed.] [Stop picking the nit. You know what I mean! Walt]

Aha! There's the problem, right there. It is possible to break the rules and still make oneself understood. "I seen it," grates on my son-of-an-English-teacher's ears, but I know what the speaker is trying to say.

Much of the time we cannot hear grammatical errors in oral speech. The speaker may not know whether he's saying "their", "there" or "they're", but the listener can work out the difference from the context. Consider these sentences. (1) Their coming was foretold by the prophet. (2) "They're coming," the prophet said, "just as I predicted." You don't even need to think about the spelling unless you have to transcribe what you heard.

Which brings us to the apostrophe. A mistake that makes me wild [and dangerous! Ed.] is the confusion of "it's" and "its", which we see nowadays even in "respectable" journalism. No-one knows which is correct because they have been taught (by teachers who themselves don't know the rules) that self-expression is more important than correct spelling and grammar.

If you were born after 1955, Walt will now teach you the rule. "It's" is a contraction for "it is". "Its" is the possessive of the third person singular neuter pronoun "it". Thus "It's raining outside so the dog went into its kennel" is correct... assuming the dog had been neutered. [Cute. Ed.]

But what difference does it make?! Someone could write "Its raining outside so the dog went into it's kennel" and the reader would understand perfectly well. You can't hear the apostrophe! It might as well not be there, as in "Its raining outside so the dog went into its kennel." Who cares??!!

That point has been made by many cunning linguists, including Richard Nordquist, founder of The Campaign to Abolish the Apostrophe. The comments on his six-year-old blog are worth reading, and largely support his case.

Mr. Nordquist's blog has inspired a newer website, Kill the Apostrophe, "for those who want to remove the apostrophe from the English language, on the basis that it serves only to annoy those who know how it is supposed to be used and to confuse those who dont."

Even purists like Walt and Ed. are just about convinced. The only problem is that if we get rid of the apostrophe, it won't be long before we're dropping the capital "I" (first person singular pronoun) in favour of "i", and writing abominations like "ur" instead of "you're"... Oh... Wait...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

OK plates not OK with militant Christian

Can you spot the pagan religious symbolism in this Oklahoma licence plate?

Neither could Walt, but Keith Cressman told the Tulsa World that he can. Mr. Cressman is suing the state of Oklahoma because, he argues, the state's standard license plate is contrary to the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state.

The image, brought in by the state in 2009, is of "Sacred Rain Arrow", a sculpture by Allan Houser of an Indian [Native American, surely! Ed.] shooting an arrow into the sky to bring rain. [Just what Oklahoma needs. Ed.]

The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled that the image of the sculpture could be seen as an endorsement of a specific religion. Mr. Cressman is not an anti-religion nut. It's just that native spiritualism is not his religion! He told the World he "adheres to historic Christian beliefs."

But here's the trouble. The "Sacred Rain Arrow" is standard on OK licence plates -- some 3 million of them -- and if you don't like it, you have to pay extra to get a vanity plate with some other image or no image at all. And if you try to cover up the image, you could be fined.

Mr. Cressman's attorney said that his client "doesn't want to be forced to say something that he does not want to say," hence the lawsuit. A fart-catcher for Oklahoma's attorney general said in a statement, "We'll continue to defend the state's position that Oklahoma's license plate design does not violate Mr. Cressman's constitutional rights."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A couple of thoughts about war from Gwynne Dyer

Gwynne Dyer know something about war. Born in Newfoundland almost six years before it became part of Canada, he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve at the age of 16. While still in the reserve, he obtained a BA in history from Memorial University in 1963. Later he earned an MA in military history from Rice University (1966) and a PhD in military and Middle Eastern history at King's College London (1973).

Mr. Dyer served in the Canadian, American and British naval reserves. He was employed as a senior lecturer in war studies at the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst) from 1973 through 1977. In 1973 he began writing articles for leading London newspapers on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and soon decided to abandon academic life for a full-time career in journalism.

In the mid-1980s, Mr. Dyer created and hosted War, an outstanding documentary mini-series that aired on BBC and PBS. As so often happens, the series begat a companion book (Crown Publishers, New York, 1985).

In the latter part of the book, the author discusses the future of war and the role of the military in today's society. More specifically, he considers the likelihood of an all-out nuclear war which would lead to the annihilation of mankind. Here are a couple of quotes which I think worth passing along.

Since it is the professional duty of military officers to identify threats to the security of the state, they are constantly searching for potential dangers abroad -- and virtually every other state within military reach constitutes such a threat simply by virtue of having armed forces of its own. The planning reflex of general staffs provides governments with detailed and regularly updated scenarios for conflicts in unlikely places with improbably enemies (as late as the 1920s military planners in the United States and Canada were maintaining carefully worked out plans to invade each other), which on occasion can lend undue military importance to minor incidents and alarms.

There is a new common factor discernible in all the armed conflicts that ravage the contemporary world, and especially in the majority of those conflicts that are irregular in nature. Military power is becoming less effective in achieving decisive, politically satisfactory results at every level of conflict. This is as true for enemies fighting with conventional weapons as for the nuclear-armed great powers, and it is equally true for governments and for insurgents in the lower intensity irregular wars that now account for most of the world's actual killing.

Gwynne Dyer wrote those words in the 1980s -- before 9/11, before the Gulf Wars, before Iraq, before Afghanistan, before Libya and before whatever is coming tomorrow. He has been criticized for his "anti-militarism" and "pacifist tendencies" by many warhawks, including Conrad Black who discontinued publishing Dyer's columns in his newspapers. But Walt thinks War makes some good points. I suspect Ron Paul agrees. 

You can find the War mini-series on YouTube. Here's the link to Part I (of 6), and a search for "War with Gwynne Dyer" will call up the rest. Each part runs about 55 minutes.

Also on YouTube is a more recent (and shorter) commentary by Mr. Dyer on the wars in the Middle East. It's called "The Mess They Made" (2007). Here it is.

Conrad Black no longer owns any newspapers. Gwynne Dyer's insightful columns continue to appear in the Fort Mudge Weakly and other fine newspapers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Does Russian Duma's political incorrectness mean the Fatima prophecy is being fulfilled?

Astounding news from Russia. The Duma -- the lower house of Russia's parliament -- has flown in the face of all that's politically correct by striking not one but two blows at the secular humanists, LGBT "rights" promoters and other "progressive thinkers".

Yesterday the Duma passed a bill imposing up to three years in jail on those who offend "religious believers". Most Russians who are "believers" are Russian Orthodox Christians, but the new law (once approved by the Senate and signed by President Putin) would presumably cover Jews, Muslims and followers of other faiths.

The law follows the imprisonment of punk rockers Pussy Riot for desecrating an Orthodox cathedral by performing an anti-Putin protest in February 2012. Two band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, are currently serving two-year jail terms for the offence.

So that's a good bit of pushback for Christians (and others) who feel that they're being belittled and demonized by the lamestream media and other "Forces for Progress" in the Western world.

Russian "gay rights" activists also have reason to feel dismayed. On the same day as the pro-religion bill was passed, the Duma also unanimously approved a law imposing heavy fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under 18.

Under the new law, private individuals promoting "homosexual behaviour among minors" face fines of up to 5,000 rubles (US$155) while officials risk paying ten times that amount. Businesses and schools promoting the LGBT agenda -- whether under the guise of "sex education" or otherwise -- could be fined as much as 500,000 rubles!

Although homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, anti-gay sentiment is running high. A recent poll found that nearly half of Russians believe that the gay and lesbian community should not enjoy the same rights as other citizens.

Walt wonder why this is. Why is it that the Russians are embracing new laws (and old beliefs) which the Western media tell us are backward, anti-progressive, and contrary to Everything that's Right and Good in our wonderful New Age Society?

Our Lady of Fatima warned us that if Russia was not converted (by Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart), its errors would spread throughout the world. And so it would appear to those "Fatimists" and others who have studied Our Lady's prophecy.

Some Catholics believe the Consecration has been done, and that the fall of Communism represents the promised conversion. The "Fatimists" say this is not so, that the Consecration has never been done publicly, by the Pope in union with all the bishops, as the Blessed Virgin asked. But if that's the case, how should we understand what's happening in Russia today?

Our Lady of Fatima also said that once Russia was converted, that nation would become the instrument by which the rest of the world would be converted to the Christian Faith. Traditional Catholics take that to mean to the Catholic Faith. But, given the diabolical disorientation of the mainstream Church today, perhaps that Faith is to be found elsewhere.

Footnote and WOW! Walt is not imagining the "diabolical disorientation" referred to in the previous paragraph. Just today we have a report from AFP that Pope Francis himself confirmed the existence of a gay lobby within the Roman Curia.

The Vatican's Chief Flak-catcher, Father Federico Lombardi, said he had "no comment" on anything the Holy Father might have said in "a private meeting". And that's all ye need to know.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stanley Cup: Chicago vs... errr... BOSTON?!

Walt will man up and admit when he's wrong. Or even half-wrong, as was the case with my predictions for the Stanley Cup semi-finals.

I was right about the Western Conference clash between Chicago and Los Angeles. Last night, in the second double-overtime game in a row, the Blackhawks prevailed to win the game 4-3 and the series 4 games to 1.

Noteworthy: The Los Angeles team's first goal was scored by #74, known to those fans not afraid of being punished for blasphemy as "King of Kings".

Trivia: The Blackhawks have (IMHO) the second-coolest sweaters (not jerseys!) in the league. Not counting black and white as colours, how many colours can be seen on said sweaters? Answer later.

Meanwhile in Beantown... the Pittsburgh penguins folded up like a cheap suit and were swept by the big bad Bruins of Boston in four straight games. Walt is ahhh-mazed. How a team with Crosby, Iginla, Malin, Neal and Letang could have trouble scoring is beyond me.

Score on Walt's prediction for the semi-finals: .500. Lifetime pct. .978.

What about the Stanley Cup final? It's axiomatic that it winning playoffs all comes down to goaltending. Chicago's Corey Crawford is usually very good, "usually" being the key word here. Boston's Tuuka Rask is almost always excellent. Although I'd love to be wrong, I'm betting on the Bruins.

Answer to trivia question: Looks like SIX (6) colours to me: red, tan (or whatever colour the Indian is), yellow, green, dark red and orange -- the most colours on any NHL sweater.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Marg Delahunty has a chat with Senator Puffy

The fat and shameless face of the Conservative Party of Canada (= CPC, not to be confused with "Communist Party of Canada") is still in the news, you betcha. Even more so now that the existence of a secret slush fund with Prime Minister Harpoon's office has been revealed by the CBC (not to be confused with the CPC).

This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which airs on CBC-TV when there's no hockey game scheduled, brought comedienne Mary Walsh out of retirement, and sent her to the world's second-coldest capital to ambush the Senator from Kanata (or PEI, not bloody likely). Here's the video!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Turns out Walt is a Recusant!

Walt is a sometime student of Church history but still has a lot to learn. For instance, what should one call Catholics who refuse to attend the Protestantized "New Mass" which is one of the poisoned fruits of Vatican II? Some traditionalists go even farther and have abandoned the Society of St. Pius X because it uses the "transitional" Roman Missal of 1962.

But what do you call these "Ultra-traditionalists"? Pope Francis recently called them "extremists". Cardinal Bertone inveighed against "Fatimists". But there is an older term, dating back to the days of Henry VIII. Those who refused to attend the "masses" of Henry's schismatic "Church of England" came to be known as Recusants.

The faithful Catholics (and others) who refused to conform to the beliefs and practices of the new English "church" were made criminals by the Recusancy Acts. They suffered fines, confiscation of their property, imprisonment, and even capital punishment -- the death of martyrs like St. Thomas More, who happens to be Walt's patron saint.

Taking their cue from the St. Thomas and the other English martyrs, a group of clergy and laity have separated from the Society of St. Pius X, because they disagree with the desire of it's Superior-General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, to reach some sort of compromise with Rome.

The breakaway group has started a new publication aptly titled The Recusant. The raison d'être of the newsletter/website is to fight "a guerrilla war for the soul of Tradition." This is declared in a signed Letter of Entreaty dated 21 May 2013, which attacks Bishop Fellay and the SSPX for "wilfully pursuing a new direction and a new agenda, remaking the Society in their own image with reckless disregard for the souls which Divine Providence has placed in their care."

The letter charges the SSPX with "having deviated from its essential mission of fidelity to Catholic Tradition and opposition to Modernism due to the betrayal of its liberal leadership." The Recusants argue that the faithful must secede from the corrupted society, which they describe as a "sinking ship, which is beyond repair."

Walt finds the lack of unity in the forces of Tradition within the Church deeply disturbing. Still, one must cling to that which is known to be right -- to the eternal truths taught to us by Our Lord Himself and handed down to us through His Church. If that means refusing to conform to the novelties and outright heresies which was are told are necessary to adapt to the modern world, then yes, let us be "nonconformists". Let us be Recusants!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Going to confession after a long time

For all you Catholics who haven't been to confession lately, Agent 9 sends this item...

A man goes into the confessional box after years of being away from the Church. He pulls aside the curtain, enters and sits down.

There’s a fully equipped bar with crystal glasses, the best wine, Guinness on tap, cigars and liqueur chocolates nearby, and on the wall a fine photographic display of buxom ladies, who appear to have mislaid their garments.

He hears a priest come in, and says, “Father, forgive me for it’s been a very long time since I’ve been to confession and I must admit that the confessional box is much more inviting than it used to be.”

The priest replies, “Get out, you idiot. You’re on my side!”

Sex crimes in the military and police: Walt has the solution

Interesting to watch the chiefs of the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard testifying about the sex crimes scandals in front of a Senate committee yesterday. They were flanked by countless underlings, all in dress uniform. Why, there was more salad in that room yesterday than on the buffet at the Willard.

The military chiefs were shocked, shocked to learn of the 10s of 1000s of cases of sexual harrassment and assault -- meaning everything from ass-grabbing to violent rape -- reported every year. Not to mention an equal or higher number which are not reported for fear of retribution or at least diminution of mililtary career prospects.

They were more shocked to hear that the rate of conviction in cases brought before military tribunals is substantially lower than for similar prosecutions in civil courts. Worse yet, many commanders, for reasons known only to them, set aside convictions, leaving the guilty horndogs with not even a reprimand on their records.

If these were war crimes -- like the slaughter of innocent villagers in Afghanistan -- exonerating the perps would be Standard Operating Procedure, because war is hell. But we're talking about incidents at home in the USA, not in theaters of war. And we're talking about crimes committed by soldiers, sailors and airmen against female soldiers, sailors and, errr, well, you know what I mean.

Such criminal behaviour is not confined to the US military. It's the same in police forces too. Nor is the abuse and humiliation of women to be found only in America, where notions of "gender equality" are strongest. North of the border, the famous (or infamous) Royal Canadian Mounted Police are on the sharp end of a class action lawsuit alleging serious and persistent harrassment and abuse of female Mounties.

In all the testimony as to the reasons for these crimes and what should be done to the perps, one basic point has been overlooked. It falls to Walt to point out that the incidence of heterosexual rape and other sex crimes in the military was just about nil until the 1970s. That's because until the feminists started nagging for gender equality, there were virtually no women in regular units of the police and armed forces. Security and law enforcement was a man's world!

But, the bra-burners and wimmin's libbers insisted, whatever a man can do, a woman can do too! (Walt can think of one exception but that's a topic for another day.) Not only can do, but ought to do. Including combat duty in the war zones of Baghdad or Trenton NJ.

Some old-fashioned types (like Walt) said that if you put a few even moderately attractive women in the same barracks or shelter half with men who haven't had the "comforts of home" in months (and who are bullies by nature anyway, otherwise why would they be in uniform), there's bound to be sexual tension and sexual trouble. And that's exactly what happened.

So the solution is simple. If women want to be in the armed forces, put them in segregated units, as was done before. Keep them away from the men!

Then the guys can go back to having sex with each other, if they're desperate enough. It was good enough for the Royal Navy, which in the old days was said to "run on rum and buggery". And in today's PC world, no-one's going to make a fuss about homosexual rape.

Footnote: The soldiers in the picture are Israelis. They have been disciplined for posting this photo on Facebook. Walt supposes that if US wimmin soldiers looked like this (instead of like Ellen DeGeneres) the problem would be even worse!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Check out the "Barvinok" dancers -- doing multiculturalism the right way

Let it never be said that Walt is against multiculturalism. What I'm opposed to is the promotion of other cultures to the detriment of our own culture!

In the same vein, it seems to me that if one migrates to another country, one should make an effort to adapt to the culture of that country. It's fine to remember and keep alive the traditions of your own country, but "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

One group of immigrants who have done a great job of integrating themselves into the host culture, while at the same time maintaining the culture of their homeland, are the Ukrainians who came to Canada and the USA in two waves, during the first decade of the 20th century and in the decade following WWII. How they managed to survive and thrive -- in the face of considerable discrimination -- is quite a story. You can read about it in Helen Potrebenko's No Streets of Gold: A Social History of Ukrainians in Alberta. (New Star Books, 1977)

Of course there are Ukrainian-Canadians outside of beautiful downtown Vegreville too! In fact, some of Walt's best friends [etc. Ed.] Hey... No... Let me finish. Agent 1's niece belongs to the estimable Barvinok Ukrainian Dance School, which is doing a fine job of teaching and performing traditional Ukrainian folk dancing -- the most exciting folk dances in the whole world. Here's a sample (10:35) -- the famous hopak!

Last year, Barvinok had a successful tour of eastern Europe, so successful that they've been invited back. The trip is planned for August, and the basic costs of the tour are covered, but they need help with transportation. Please take a few minutes to check out this (shorter) video. You'll see some more dance clips and news about this summer's tour. Then, if you can help with the funding, click on the red button. Thank you!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What's wrong with Sweden? Could it be "the I-word"?

In the latter half of the 20th century, Sweden was, by most accounts, a prosperous and successful country. Its nanny state society and social harmony were admired, even envied by most other nations. With the exception of the owner of Ikea, almost no-one was really rich, and no-one was really poor. All the blonde, blue-eyed people lived harmoniously in a land of plenty.

But was that good enough for the social democrats and secular humanists who dominated Sweden's politics and public discourse? Certainly not. How can you be a do-gooder if there are no poor and downtrodden people to uplift? What Sweden lacked was an underclass, of the type America has in spades. [Careful there... Ed.]

Having no native-born underclass of its own, the Swedes did the next-best thing, and imported one. Sweden was one of the first European countries to put out the welcome mat for immigrants from the Third World. Underlying their open-door policy is a broad humanitarian desire to do good, combined with the belief that the right kind of social policies – education, welfare, job training – can transform newcomers into Swedes faster than you can say "Sven Svensen".

Unfortunately for them, the Swedes didn't pay attention to the warnings of Charles De Gaulle and Enoch Powell. Why would they? After all, Swedes have never been imperialists, colonialists or racists like those awful British and French. But now their peaceful social democracy is experiencing a reality check!

As a footnote to "Geert Wilders warns USA: Muslims taking over Europe -- you're next!", Walt called attention to last week's riots in Stockholm and other Swedish cities. Who were the rioters? No prizes for guessing they were unemployed "persons of colour" who immigrated from the sandpits of northern Africa and the Middle East.

Why did they do it? In an insightful piece in yesterday's Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente quotes a Social Democratic politician as saying, "This is not a question about immigration, it is a class question." Others blame a lack of jobs, social exclusion, bad schools, poor living conditions, growing inequality, police brutality and racism, and the erosion of the welfare state -- everything but the country's unrealistic immigration policy, about which Sweden's liberal elite is still in denial.

There is an obvious explanation for the recent unrest (Ms Wente continues) but in Sweden, it's almost impossible to discuss. The country has opened its doors to a flood of people from some of the most troubled parts of the world – especially the Muslim-majority countries of Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. Hundreds of thousands have arrived in the past decade alone. Many will not be able to succeed in Swedish society. They are destined to become permanent wards of the state.

...semi-literate people from the tribal cultures of the Middle East or Africa are not the same as the Western middle-class Chileans who fled Pinochet. The culture clash extends from the importance of religion, the rights of women and the proper way to raise children to the benefits of exercise.... To put it mildly, assimilation is a challenge.

...frank discussions of the country's immigration problems are virtually taboo. Anyone who brings them up is likely to be labelled as a xenophobic racist. When the immigration minister, Tobias Billström, mildly suggested that "we need to discuss the volume" of immigration, his own party nearly disowned him. What accounts for this excruciating excess of political correctness?

The best explanation I have heard comes from Jonathan Friedman, an American anthropologist who is married to a Swedish woman, and lived in Sweden for several years before moving back to California. He blames a "politics of submission by Swedish elites." Continued large-scale untenable in a situation of economic decline. But Sweden's elite "refuses to see what is really happening and instead holds on to absurd ideologies of immigration as enrichment." [My emphasis. Walt]

In other words, such outbreaks are bound to happen. And they are bound to create big cracks in Sweden's famous tradition of social cohesion. As Swedes redistribute more and more of their wealth to people whose habits are culturally alien, and who are permanently dependent on the state, the immigration consensus is bound to crack.

Memo to the political "leaders" of the USA and Canada: If you won't learn from the mistakes of the British, the French, be warned by the example of Sweden. If policies of multiculturalism and assimilation don't work there, they won't work anywhere!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ron Paul, Romeo Dallaire... and Bishop Bernard Fellay too!

On May 22nd, in "Thunder on the right! Politics and religion meet in Niagara Falls", Walt congratulated the Fatima Center on having lined up Ron Paul and Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire for its "Path to Peace" conference, coming to Niagara Falls (the pretty side) on September 9th through 13th.

Now the "Fatimists" have announced that Most Rev. Bernard Fellay will be attending and speaking as well. Bishop Fellay is the Superior-General of the Society of St. Pius X, the religious society founded by the late Archbishop Lefebvre in opposition to the Protestant/Jewish "reforms" of Vatican II, particularly the suppression of the Mass of All Time.

Missing from the Fatima Center's press release is any reference to the split in the SSPX over Bishop Fellay's attempts to bring the society back into communion with the mainstream Church. The three other bishops consescrated by Abp. Lefebvre have condemned Fellay's overtures to the Vatican as a sell-out, and one -- Bishop Richard Williamson -- has quit the society entirely. 

Walt is hoping to attend at least part of the Path to Peace conference, to hear Ron Paul. Now if they could get Bishop Fellay and Bishop Williamson to debate the nature of Catholic Tradition, I'd be there for the whole week!

Print your own Duffybuck!

On May 17th, Canuck cartoonist Dan Murphy decided to poke a little fun at Mike Duffy, the "independent" Senator from Kanata, and devised a special $90,000 bill, which he calls "the Duffybuck". Here it is, complete with callouts of the Bank of Canada special security features.

Predictably, the Bank of Canada/la Banque du Canada was not amused, and is trying to get the image taken off the web. Walt is happy to help -- NOT -- and wishes them good luck.

Regarding the scratch'n'sniff security feature -- when you rub the bill it should smell faintly of pork -- Walt has been told that the new Canuck $100 bills smell like maple syrup. Why not, eh!