Saturday, September 23, 2017

UN - tenable

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Bungy jumping is like that but the risk is to the one who jumps. The United Nations on the other hand..... perhaps at that dire time in 1945 it was a good idea, but now, for the majority of people in the western world - and there are a lot of us -  it is perhaps not able to be maintained or defended against attack or objection: indefensible, undefendable, unarguable, insupportable, refutable, unsustainable, unjustified, unwarranted, unjustifiable, inadmissible, unsound, ill-founded, flimsy, weak, shaky, flawed, defective, faulty, implausible, specious, groundless, unfounded, baseless, invalid, absurd, illogical, irrational, preposterous, senseless, unacceptable. Take your pick.

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization tasked to promote international co-operation and to create and maintain international order. A replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, the organization was established on 24 October 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.

Oz had a strong hand in establishing the UN through a third-rate socialist politician who must lie in his grave with a rictus, if not sardonic grin. He cannot take all the blame though.

In its entire history it has not employed a single cat-herder or pack of ratting terriers demonstrating to all that it should not be taken seriously. Except we have to. Its ineptness demands it.

The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, and is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world.

That is the official description. The unofficial and widely held suspicion is that it is a nascent One World Government. Perhaps that is what some folk had in mind in 1945. 

Everybody and his dog in the UN has a finger or nose in the trough.  It has more corruption than the Sicilian Mafia and the Russian Mafia and the Yakusa and the Bra-boys of Sydney combined.

It is a profligate waste of money, in the opinion of lowly customers of the Tavern and the President of the USA. Some quaffing Ales here in my bars think that such corruption might be decreased by re-locating the whole mob to, say Brazzaville, the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo. It could have fine river views too there from the north side of the Congo River, opposite Kinshasa. It is pretty certain that the corrupt monies would not have so far to go.

Perhaps though the Mayor of New York would miss all the money spent in his city. 

Mr Trump though may accept that loss as a small price to pay.  Kelsey Munro filled us in on some matters with a few facts and figures. But no names.
Who pays for the UN and where does the money go?
US President Donald Trump thinks the United Nations spends too much money, but who pays for it and where does the money go?
The US President is not a renowned fan of the sprawling global network of UN organisations, calling the institution "weak and incompetent" during his campaign. 
But if his first speech as President to the UN General Assembly on September 19 took a more measured tone, he still complained that the United States “bears an unfair cost burden”, and called for major reform, including for other countries to pay more. 
“The United States is one of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 per cent of the entire budget and more,” Trump said.
In this case, a President who has {some think and say} been famously loose with facts, is correct.
Who pays for the UN?
The US is by far the biggest donor to the UN, in 2016 contributing some $10 billion of its $49 billion annual revenue. 
The next biggest donors were Germany ($3.4 billion) 
and the UK ($3 billion).
The permanent members of the Security Council that most often oppose American agendas in the UN, China ($1.3 billion) and Russia ($562 million), are ranked 6th and 15th respectively in terms of the magnitude of their contributions.
Australia was the UN’s 13th biggest national donor in 2016, contributing $748 million. 

Countries’ relative contributions are decided by a complex series of formulas for different aspects of the UN’s wide-ranging operations, which are supposed to broadly reflect each country’s capacity to pay. The payments, known as "assessed contributions", are recalculated every few years to adjust for changing circumstances.
As if 'progressive taxation' was not bad enough curse for most taxpayers in western countries, the old adage is most appropriate for the UN.  Poor white people in rich countries pay tax to give to rich black people in poor countries so they can swan around the world in 'first class', eat lobster thermidor in fine New York restaurants and sit on innumerable committees for which they are totally unqualified. 
There are also significant non-government donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which donated just under $300 million to the UN last year. 
Where is the money spent? 

The biggest drain on the UN budget is its peacekeeping operations, which cost $8.7 billion last year. There are currently 15 peacekeeping missions worldwide, and most of the soldiers involved are from African countries. The UN pays nations for their troops’ peacekeeping service meaning it can be quite lucrative for poor countries.

 Peacekeeping soldiers are paid by their own Governments according to their own national rank and salary scale. Countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a standard rate, approved by the General Assembly, of a little over US$1,332 per soldier per month.
The World Food Programme had a budget of $5.9 billion last year, followed by the United Nations secretariat itself and the United Nations Development Programme at about $5 billion each.
Support for UN reform
Secretary-General António Guterres said 128 countries had pledged to back a 10-point plan for UN reform that would improve the member states' "value for money". 
“Our shared objective is a 21st century UN focused more on people and less on process, more on delivery and less on bureaucracy,” he said, following Trump's speech on September 19.
"Value for money while advancing shared values – this is our common goal.”
Hah! Believe that? I have a bridge over the River Derwent I could sell for a modest fee. 
Mr Guterres said the organisational problems of the UN kept him awake at night. “Fragmented structures. Byzantine procedures. Endless red tape,” he said.
Leadership from the top ! 
The UN also runs several agencies to tackle specific issues including the UN Development Programme which works to eradicate poverty; UNICEF, the children’s fund; and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Some autonomous agencies under the UN such as the World Health Organisation and UNESCO (the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) are also partly funded through contributions of member states. 

And the Oz Furrin' Minister, Julie Bishop also sends vast amounts - in the tens of millions - to the nations she represents from petty cash which she tops up from borrowings. Several days a year though she does represent Oz.

The most crucial aspect as far as 'other nation interference' is concerned is the Security Council.  I had one of my staff work through his lunchtime to compile this next bit for you. And yes, he was drinking throughout.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security as well as accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its United Nations Charter. 

Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946.

Like the UN as a whole, the Security Council was created following World War II to address the failings of a previous international organization, the League of Nations, in maintaining world peace. 

In its early decades, the body was largely paralyzed 

by the Cold War division between the US and USSR and their respective allies, though it authorized interventions in the Korean War and the Congo Crisis and peacekeeping missions in the Suez Crisis, Cyprus, and West New Guinea. 

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, UN peacekeeping efforts increased dramatically in scale, and the Security Council authorized major military and peacekeeping missions in Kuwait, Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Security Council consists of fifteen members. The great powers that were the victors of World War II—the Soviet Union (now represented by the Russian Federation), the United Kingdom, France, Republic of China (now represented by the People's Republic of China), and the United States— serve as the body's five permanent members. 

These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General. 

The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body's presidency rotates monthly among its members.

Security Council resolutions are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget. As of 2016, 103,510 peacekeepers and 16,471 civilians were deployed on sixteen peacekeeping operations and one special political mission.

Along with the five permanent members, the Security Council has temporary members that hold their seats on a rotating basis by geographic region. Non-permanent members may be involved in global security briefings. In its first two decades, the Security Council had six non-permanent members, the first of which were Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Poland. 

In 1965, the number of non-permanent members was expanded to ten.
These ten non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms starting on 1 January, with five replaced each year. To be approved, a candidate must receive at least two-thirds of all votes cast for that seat, which can result in deadlock if there are two roughly evenly matched candidates. In 1979, a standoff between Cuba and Colombia only ended after three months and a record 154 rounds of voting; both eventually withdrew in favour of Mexico as a compromise candidate. A retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election.

The African Group is represented by three members; the Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, and Western European and Others groups by two apiece; and the Eastern European Group by one. 

Traditionally, one of the seats assigned to either the Asia-Pacific Group or the African Group is filled by a nation from the Arab world.

 Currently, elections for terms beginning in even-numbered years select two African members, and one each within Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Terms beginning in odd-numbered years consist of two Western European and Other members, and one each from Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

This old Tavern Keeper is not a member.

Depressing, innit?

By the Lord Harry there are arses to kick.

Now, here we are on the day that the world is supposed to end, and I can pretty confidently suppose that the UN has made no contingency other than providing some well appointed holes in the ground for its knobs and ambassadors and perhaps some vital staff who can operate a word processor.

Have a drink.

You will need it.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Last Orders, Gentlemen, Please.

Tomorrow, 23 September 2017 will be the end of the world.  Our Number is Up. I have been assured of this by a chap standing outside the Tavern with a sign. I had a kind customer take a pint of cleansing Ale out to him as there are still some hours to go and I do not want him to go thirsty.

Have you ever noticed those chaps who carry 'The End is Nigh' signs? Have you noticed their expressions? They seem remarkably unmoved by how well all the passers-by are taking the news. This is not the first time such a chap has stood with such a sign in the vicinity of my modest rest-stop on the Road. It is unlikely to be the last.  

I say that with all the confidence of a fellow who has no clue at all when the world will be wiped out, but has seen many a time when folks around thought that Time was Up, and the 'Last Orders, Gentlemen, Please', shout should be made by the Tavern Keeper.

I am skeptical. Why it was only Tuesday, a few days ago, that I received a shipment from my Supplier and it was enough for a full week. I don't see Him as wasteful. On the other hand, perhaps He was preparing us for a rush.  The delivery angel did not give me any ear-plugs though. 

Skeptic or not, I think I am on a winner. If I am wrong the Tavern will be closed at the weekend and I shall have some time off. I may even get to go home. If I am right in thinking that the world has to go through a lot more toil and trouble, mayhem and finding its way up the mountain, then it will be more of the usual wiping of tables and bar tops and pulling pints as my Supplier requires.

There were other skeptics in the US room. Matt Walsh amongst them. 

He had a few words to say in his usual no-nonsense way. 
Christians, prepare yourselves. The end is definitely near.
I keep reading media reports claiming “Christians believe” the world will end on September 23. This is kind of odd considering the world already ended 46 times in the past decade, according to various predictions. But as for this prediction, I have not personally met a single Christian who believes it. 
I suspect “Christians believe” in this month’s doomsday prophecy in the same way that “Christians” believe a Starbucks cup is offensive. 
Which is to say, they don’t.
This latest fake apocalypse proclamation seems to have been cooked up by a “Christian numerologist” named David Meade, who has discerned the end of the world — or at least the beginning of the end, or the endish, or something — through certain signs in the Heavens, like the solar eclipse, and through his reading of the Book of Revelation. Perhaps a small collection of Christians have bought into this false prophet’s nonsense, but I think it is very small indeed.
Of course, a big problem here is that solar eclipses happen multiple times a year across the globe. There was nothing special about this year’s eclipse, other than the fact that you could see it in Bowling Green, Kentucky. 
Also, “Christian numerology” doesn’t exist. 
Numerology is a pagan superstition. 
You may as well tell me about Christian Tarot cards or Christian crystal balls. If a person does access any supernatural power through these methods, it isn’t God supplying it. You need to look further south for the source.
As far as Revelation goes, any Christian who claims to have definitively cracked the code and determined exactly what it means has either been deceived by the Devil or is a liar, or both. Revelation is a beautiful and important book, but I cannot give you a precise interpretation of its content, and I certainly cannot tell you with confidence when the world is going to end based on its mysterious verses. Nobody can. 
I know that nobody can because, rather than providing us with a formula to ascertain the date of the Second Coming, Christ does the opposite. He tells us specifically in Matthew 24 that no one will know the day or hour, not even the angels or the Son. The Apostles reiterate this instruction in Acts. 
So, that should be it.
But that’s not it because we are not willing to accept our own ignorance. 
Even if most of us haven’t bought into the September 23 “prophecy,” there still remains a great number of Christians who think they will be able to detect when the end is coming. Many of us think we can detect it now. The fact that Christians have been sure that the end is right around the corner for 2,000 years doesn’t dissuade us. Now is different, we say. 
Now is the time. Or almost time.
Well, maybe it is time. I don’t know. Neither do you. 
I mean, yes, it certainly feels like we’re at the end of something. But who can say that “something” is the world? Maybe we’ve just reached the end of our country or our civilization? Many civilizations have passed from the Earth, and they all thought the world was going with them. They were all wrong. We probably are, too. But who knows? I don’t. Nobody does.
Here’s what I do know: your world is coming to an end pretty soon. So is mine. I can’t say what will happen to planet Earth, but I can say that you probably have less than 50 years left, and you may be gone much earlier. You may be gone next week. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tonight. You could suffer a massive heart attack in November. You could get hit by a bus this weekend. You could be diagnosed with cancer and be dead before Easter. 
The chances are very, very high that you will die long before the world. 
Concern yourself with that. Focus on your own mortality. Scripture says to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, not to work out the Apocalypse with mathematics and astrology.
I think this — our fear of our mortality — is why we concentrate so much on predicting the Apocalypse. Ironically, the more a person is afraid of death, the more he wants to believe that the End of the World is around the corner.
Life is tenuous and uncertain, death is sudden and intrusive, and we cannot accept this fact. We cannot look our own mortality in the face. We cannot bear to contemplate the extremely high possibility that we will die, individually, while the world lives on. 
So we cling to this dark hope that Armageddon will spare us an individual death. And we tell ourselves that we’ll see it coming. We’ll have time to prepare. We will ease into it.
But that’s not how it has worked for billions of people, and that’s probably not how it will work for me or you. We aren’t special. You think things are so bad that the destruction of the world must be upon us? Well, 200 million people were wiped out by the Black Plague in the 14th century. We had four people get Ebola in this country a few years ago and we panicked like mankind was on the brink of extinction. Imagine how they felt as half of Europe’s population perished from the Earth. Yet the world lived on. And you think this rash of natural disasters portends something ominous?
Well, 800 thousand people were killed in an earthquake in 1556. 92,000 were killed by a volcano in 1816. 22,000 were killed by a hurricane in 1780. Yet the world lived on. You think our wars and international conflict must be apocalyptic? Please. The deadliest war in US history happened 150 years ago. The entire planet was in a near constant state of warfare for thousands of years. Civilizations clashed. Cities were destroyed. Death and starvation and bloodshed occurred on a scale we cannot fathom and will never experience. Yet the world lived on. A lot of people didn’t, but the world did. I bet they even had eclipses back then, too.
But who knows? Maybe the Heavens will open up right after I publish this post and I’ll be pretty embarrassed (and my web traffic will really take a hit).
That probably won’t happen, though. More likely, the world will continue existing and you’ll just die eventually, sooner than later, by yourself, while most everyone else keeps living for a while. 
That’s how it has always worked and that’s how it will continue working until God decides otherwise. Will he decide otherwise soon? I have no clue, but it doesn’t really matter. Our job is the same regardless.
My father-in-law had a neighbor who passed away recently. He was young man with a wife and three kids. He opened the door to his second floor patio and forgot that the patio hadn’t been built yet. He was dead within moments. Sudden. Tragic. Out of nowhere. That was it. Like a thief in the night it came. Just as it will come for us. Not with fire in the sky and the Lord descending upon the Earth, but with a shock. A cry. A 911 call. Or maybe it will come later, in a bed at the nursing home. Our kids will stop by for a visit with their kids, who will be very young and anxious to leave. And one of those visits will be the last. We’ll die quietly while the world buzzes on, too busy to notice. There will be a funeral and a eulogy, and that will be it.
That’s death. Face it. Accept it. 
Have faith. 
Have courage. 
Have humility. 
Admit what you do not know and prepare for what you do. 
The End is near, that is certain. But just your end. And mine. 
Pray that you are ready when the summons arrives.
And this evening whilst you wait for the midnight hour, drink deep of Grace.

The Bars will remain open.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Doctor, Doctor

I have always enjoyed the company of intelligent folk and even attended several Universities where, one might suppose, one could find them. And there were some there; you had to look hard for them though.  I do not have to look hard in the Tavern as we get some really interesting, intellectually stimulating folk in here of an evening. Some even wear cardigans or  tweed jackets with patches on the elbows, and some smoke pipes.

Of course the majority of people in Universities are students and most of them, frankly, are as thick as two short planks.  

They do have an excuse though... they are young, bold, determined and there to have their wooden minds shaved and shaped and turned and generally made more presentable. 

Unfortunately many think they know everything already and for most it takes two and a half of their three years to disabuse them so they can get at least six months of marginal benefit. Most, if not all, have been taught the basics in feminised schools so even that six months has a shape already. 

A bit of knowledge can go a long way, and a bit more can get you onto the Staff. With Tenure. For that they will  first need to get a PhD.

Once they were quite rare and a 'Doctor' of this or that was well regarded. Even 'doctors' - the medical sort -regarded them well. The PhDs did not give much regard to the  medical doctors, though as they were themselves a wholly different Doctor Class. They had gone to the very edge of  'Knowledge' and 'pushed back the Darkness' with 'Ground-Breaking' study, whilst the medical chaps had simply learned to apply a band-aid.

It is common knowledge that at least one person has been awarded a PhD for a one page (A4) thesis, of such brilliance that the Professors swooned.

No-one seems to know who it was.

Mark told us:
For physics, or for anything other than mathematics, I am pretty sure it is urban legend. In mathematics it might have happened a couple times. There is a famous example of one-page (actually "one-blackboard") proof which would easily have won a Ph.D. if Frank Cole did not have one already:
In 1903, Frank Nelson Cole was scheduled to give a lecture to the American Mathematical Society, whose title was "On the Factorization of Large Numbers". Cole went to the blackboard, and without saying a word wrote down a calculation to obtain 2^67 - 1 by repeated multiplication with two. 
He finally had the number 147573952589676412927 on the blackboard. Then, still without saying anything, he multiplied 761838257287 x 193707721 -- and got the same number. He went back to his seat, still in silence.
The audience erupted in applause. Cole had proved that 2^67 - 1 is not a prime number, contrary to what mathematicians had believed for centuries.
This old Tavern Keeper has no idea what that means, but it earned Mark a pint. Craig chipped in:
Ever seen the film A Beautiful Mind?
This ain't Nash. But you know that, don't you.

The mathematician that film was based on, John Nash, has one of the shortest PhD dissertations ever published: ‘Non-Cooperative Games’. It has a grand total of 26 pages, and only cites two references. That thesis went on to found the basis for his paper on the development of game theory, for which he won the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics.
A pint for the lad.

But what about Elkies, Noam D. "The existence of infinitely many supersingular primes for every elliptic curve over Q." Invent. Math. 89 (1987), no. 3, 561–567.  
7 pages all inclusive, but not a great physicist, so I am told.

I thank you for the applause. I shall have a glass too.

Rolfe had a go:
When I started my PhD, I was sent to a general lecture for all new doctoral students about how to construct a thesis. This was at Glasgow University, and they allowed a lot of latitude. Among the points raised was that there was no upper or lower length stipulated, with a maths thesis being mentioned that was only a page or thereabouts of actual thesis (just equations), but sandwiched in a small introduction and bibliography. 
That sounds similar to the Elkies one mentioned above, but it can't have been the same one as this lecture was delivered in 1978. At the other end of the scale, there are pathology theses running into several volumes.
I don't think it's possible to have an entire thesis taking up only one page - there are things you have to include like an introduction and the bibliography which are going to get it to a handful of pages at least. I do believe the actual "meat" of a maths (or physics, possibly) thesis might be a single page, if something very elegant had been discovered.
Clearly a 'realist'. A Real Ale for him.

A sound Abstract is usually demanded too, to alert the Professors and anyone who wants to cite the thesis, just what it is about. Abstracts can run to several hundred words in a language only three people can translate in a day.

Ask a PhD student to be honest and summarise his/her years of work and you may get this. 20 of the better:
1. Does music express emotions or just elicit them? Read the next 200 pages to not find out. 
- Welldogmycats 
2. Girls take birth control. Girls then pee out unmetabolized estrogens from birth control. Pee goes to water treatment plant, estrogens not treated, male fish become female fish.
- Altzul
3. Nanoparticles are weird and I accidentally made a bomb and electrocuted myself.
4. People trying meditation for the first time get aroused.
- PainMatrix
5. When I get rid of this gene, it messes the brain up. A lot.
- NeuroscienceNerd
6. Computer AI systems can learn to operate a warp drive and automatically build an instructional system to train people how to do it. My dissertation is probably the only one in existence to reference the Star Trek technical manual.
- DrBiometrics 
7. My experimental drug does NOT cure addiction.
- NotSoCleverPork 
8. Making new magnets from old magnets because we're running out of magnets.
- IAmAHiggsBoson
9. Inpatients with schizophrenia are happier and socialize more in the context of a music listening group. It was obvious before we began the project and we learned nothing.
- Wouldyestap
10. Little things stick together. Here's a slightly easier way to calculate their stickiness.
- Born2bwire
11. There are amoebas living in volcanos, but I never captured Bigfoot on film (I tried).
12. We can take random pieces of bacterial DNA from beaver poop and put them into other bacteria to discover new things, like how to break wood down into biofuels. Yes, I had to dissect dead beavers and handle their poop.
- Geneius 
13. This protein looks like it might contribute to asthma. Oh, turns out it probably doesn't.
- Bear_Ear_Fritters
14. I crunch numbers using a supercomputer in the hopes of ensuring a fusion reactor in France doesn't get fried on the inside.
- PhysicsFornicator
15. Two proteins touch each other in a specific place in the developing heart. No idea if it's important for anything.
- Penguinpaige
16. I can make models of galaxies in a computer, but I can't explain why they don't act like real ones. Even if I bash them together or stir them around.
- McMillan_Astro
17. People sometimes think about animals as if they're people. People like those animals a little more than regular animals. Except when they don't. I can't believe they gave me a PhD.
- too_many_mangos
18. Sand washes away, don't build important stuff on it
- Zoidy
Choosing your Professor is a 'must'.

19. Why does a coffee stain looks the way it is, and how you can use it to make anti-laser glasses.
- Stockholm-Syndrom

20. You can make antimatter move in strange ways if you set your equipment up wrong.
- DrTBag
The likelihood of getting a  PhD these days is 'good' to 'high'. Universities almost kidnap people to do them. Professors require them for justifying their own existence.  Students are trawled from lower and lower depths of the public and school pool.

Professors, those high flyers atop the Ivory Towers, have changed. Many professors today are dwellers in the depths of a stagnant pond. True bottom feeders.

Down in the murk and darkness they promote one another and create 'disciplines' that have never been seen before and whose DNA was created in the black labs of the Frankfurt School. 

You are not allowed to ask them questions. You are not allowed to say some things at all. 

They would prefer that you did not think any thought that had not been passed through themselves first. They are interested only in and dissect their own turds.

Who would be a student in a University today?

You are better off in the Tavern. Believe me.

Drink up and chat amongst yourselves.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Do You Know God?

It was a question put to me by an atheist chap in the Tavern last evening. We get all sorts in here. "So", he asked, "this God of yours, do you know Him?"

It is not often I am asked personal questions. Perhaps it was time to give a little of that history.

"Know Him ? ", I said. " Why only a few years ago now, he boxed my ears and knocked me off my horse".

"No. I mean, do you Know Him?", he said. Perhaps he thought I was kidding him.

"Like I know you, Sir, but you have not knocked me over, so I know Him better".

I had had enough, frankly. Not with this customer, for whom I pulled a pint of His grace and handed it to him as I told my tale: but with Him Himself. My Supplier. 

Actually, not with Him, but with what He had put me through. 

Atheistic folk do not even approach the issue of faulting God, so they are in a better position than I was at that time. They simply ignore His very existence. 

I didn't. 

For quite some years I had been in pain and despair. The wound - gained in an unKnightly fashion - would not heal.  Appeals had not been successful. A quick despatch would have been welcome but none of my retainers were willing to do the deed. So I decided to go to see Himself, personally, and to take the whole shebang and hand it all back.

I packed the lot - everything I had and was, all experiences, failures, successes, pain, disappointments, achievements, betrayals, heartaches and so on - in my saddlebags and set off on my trusty steed which had carried me for many a year. 

I knew where to find the bridge twix this world of woe, this vale of tears, and that next, less material one where woes were banished.

That fine steed found his way - I barely knew which way was up by this time - and was half way across the dark river, over the cold stone bridge to the deep forest on the other side, when, whack ! I can still feel it.  I can still feel me hitting the floor.

I had been unhorsed before, indeed many a time, but never by such an Almighty opponent.

I never saw my steed again. I was taking him as a gift anyway, and my saddlebags, packed with 'everything' I had been, plus a special gift. A rather presumtuous one. Small.  My Supplier took the lot. 

Well almost all. He didn't take that small gift as it was 'inappropriate', not suitable or proper in the circumstances. It was 'forgiveness'.

I was actually grateful, you see, for the good bits. For being allowed to be and to be in this wonderful creation. But the bad bits, I didn't like at all.  I could not, would not understand why I had to suffer from such an awful wound.  I was a king !! It should not happen to a King. I was 'special'. That was His fault, so I thought. But as it was all His doing and His rules and I had actually benefitted in some small part, I wanted to forgive Him. My forgiveness.

I would take His judgement, cuz, well, it was His bizzo, innit?

Instead he returned my piddling forgiveness with a much larger one of the same of His own.

"You are a cheeky bugger, Amfortas", said a small, light voice. "And a bit thick. But He likes you. In fact He Loves you, and there are things you have yet to do. Including earning that proper, real, forgiveness for daring to offer your piddling, self-pitying one !" 

 I felt a kiss. Well, I think it was. I was quite dazed at that moment.

So, I was sent back.

I never saw that horse again.

He sent me to this place, the Tavern.

I have no worries: no pain: no wound. No despair.

Apart from that little has changed.

So, do I know God?  I have felt His hand on my ear. He opened it.

I have a thick ear though. And a job.

Pax. The drinks are on Him.

Monday, September 18, 2017

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It is an old phrase and a tad cynical, but for all that it is all so often true. No good deed goes unpunished. Old indeed: 2000 years at least. A  Good chap can feed 5000 people, cure the sick, raise folk from the dead and even help His mates haul in a boatload of fish: and there will be some sick sod who will denounce Him and demand 150 lbs of flesh. 

And it can happen to you, even if you simply try to give help and a hand to the sick, lame and lazy and you do not have much else in terms of powers.

CherryPie brought in some information about a good man who has been 'doing time' for a very long time, through the viciousness of a 'poor soul' and the deliberate hounding of a wicked one.  It is unlikely that you have heard of him. I had not. But his tale is topical. He is a Priest.  Such men are prime targets for the false accusations of the sick of mind and heart and soul, and while anyone can find fault with sexual pest priests, most of whom are homosexual, they are a tiny proportion amongst generally very good men who try hard.
Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage.
If I have freedom in my Love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above,
Enjoy such Liberty.
But stone walls are real and do make prisons. Iron bars, cages too. We were told of one man,  Father Gordon MacRae. A tale of horror. His case has been pressed by Bill Donohue.

His troubles began in 1983. Father Gordon MacRae was working at a clinic for drug-addicted youths in New Hampshire when a 14-year-old told his psychotherapist that the priest had kissed him; there was nothing to the story, so nothing came of it. Three years later, when the young man was expelled from a Catholic high school for carrying a weapon, he started telling his counselor how MacRae had fondled him. It turns out that the adolescent was quite busy at the time making accusations: he said two male teachers also molested him. An investigation into all of these cases was made, and they were all dismissed. 
No one has covered this story better than Dorothy Rabinowitz, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. 
MacRae’s accuser, Thomas Grover, has a history of theft, drugs, and violence. More than anyone else, he is responsible for the ordeal that MacRae has endured. He provided not a single witness, even though the alleged offenses took place in populated areas; the places were so busy that it is unlikely that no one would notice if something were awry. 
Moreover, Grover was coached by professionals, people more interested in getting a priest than justice. 
His attorney put him in touch with a counselor who came in quite handy. She stood at the back of the courtroom during Grover’s testimony, away from the sight of the jury, instructing him when to feign crying. On cue, he cried loudly, often at some length. 
Ten years after the first charges against MacRae were tossed, the same man, Grover, resurfaced with new accusations. The preposterous nature of the charges meant they would go nowhere, but as fate would have it, they would nonetheless play a role in helping to bolster a criminal charge against MacRae one year later.
It wasn’t over for MacRae, not by a long shot. In 1988, a teenager at a hospital that treats drug abusers told the priest about sexual encounters he allegedly had at the hospital and then exposed himself. MacRae, taking no chances, reported this to his superiors. While they believed him, they nonetheless suspended him pending an investigation. 
But the effect that this incident had on a local detective was not sanguine. In fact, he proved to be a zealot who made it his duty to get all the goods on MacRae, even to the point of making some details up.
The detective went on a tear interrogating nearly two dozen boys whom MacRae had counseled—looking for dirt—but he came up empty. Then MacRae met a teenager who worked for the detective in a “family-owned business,” and whose mother worked for the police. The young man said MacRae had molested him after the priest turned him down for a loan of $75; the same teenager was accusing others of abuse. Under considerable pressure to end this ordeal—MacRae had no legal counsel and was interrogated for four-and-a-half hours—he signed a statement saying he had endangered the welfare of a minor. 
The detective, who wanted more, said, “though no actual molestation took place, there are various levels of abuse.” It must be noted that the accuser refused to speak to an FBI investigator about what happened, and his own brother said the whole thing was “a fraud for money.” 
It is not a matter of opinion to say the detective was obsessed with MacRae: the evidence convinced independent observers that he was. For example, when the priest received letters claiming he had abused a male youth, little did he know that 
the detective had authored the letters for the accuser. 
Also, it was learned subsequently that a witness signed a statement saying the detective had given him cash, offering “a large sum of money” to make a false claim against MacRae.
Word on the street was that the Catholic Church was writing checks (sic)
to get accusations of priestly abuse off its desk, a process that kept feeding the next frenzy.

MacRae was caught up in it, and his superiors were ever quick to clear themselves. 
Before the trial, MacRae had twice been offered a plea deal, but he turned them down. 
Midway through the trial, he was offered another opportunity. It sounded reasonable: plead guilty and the sentence is one to three years; refuse and risk spending decades in prison. 
He refused for a third time. 
The trial moved forward and he was found guilty. The sentence was obscene: it was thirty times what the state had offered in the plea bargain. 
On September 23, 1994, MacRae was shackled and led out of Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene, New Hampshire. He had been convicted by a jury of sexual assaults that allegedly happened nearly twelve years earlier. 
The 41-year-old priest was sentenced to a prison term of 
33 1/2 to 67 years.
 MacRae arrived in prison on September 23, 1994. He did not know it at the time, but it was the Feast of Saint Padre Pio, himself the subject of false allegations of sexual abuse. A dozen guards in riot gear surrounded him, forcing him to stand naked in the middle of them for an hour while they laughed at him. 
“For the first three nights while locked alone in a cell with nothing—naked and with no bedding but a bare concrete slab—tiers of prisoners stomped their feet in unison chanting, ‘Kill the Priest’ for hours on end into the night. It was maddening.” 
Prayer allowed him to persevere. “I lifted the cross willingly—though perhaps then more like Simon of Cyrene than like Christ—but I lifted it. 
The Lawyers always get a cut
 When the trial was over, and Grover got a check for over $195,000 from the Diocese of Manchester, he photographed himself with $30,000 in cash. He bragged to his buddies, with bags of cash in his hands, that he had succeeded in “putting it over on the church.” That was in March 1997. In August, he took his former wife with him to Arizona where he blew it on alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, and other vices. In a three-day gambling spree, he went through $70,000 and he even had a Nevada casino hunting him down for another $50,000.
MacRae says he is innocent. So do those who have looked into his case. “I did not commit these crimes,” MacRae says. “In fact, no one did.” Pointedly, he maintains that he wasn’t the one on trial. “The priesthood itself was on trial. No evidence whatsoever was introduced to support the claims. My accuser committed a $200,000 fraud, the amount in settlement he received from my diocese.”  
December 23, 2006, MacRae calculated that he had been a priest for 4,125 days before he was sent to prison. He then tallied the number of days he had been in prison and came to the realization that on the very next day he would be a priest in prison longer than in freedom. “For the first time in 4,125 days in prison, I sobbed uncontrollably at this realization. I was losing myself.”
New evidence has been placed on record in order to have the good Priest's sentence overturned. These startling new discoveries are largely the result of the thorough work conducted over three years by veteran investigator James M. Abbott. Abbott served in the FBI for over a quarter of a century in numerous capacities.

Newly released signed statements in a recent court motion contend that the primary accuser, Thomas Grover, 
made up the accusations to extract money from the Church.
Grover's former stepson: "On several occasions, Grover told me that he had never been molested by MacRae."
Grover's former wife: Grover is a "compulsive liar" and a "manipulator" who "can tell a lie and stick to it 'til its end." Most notably, Grover "never stated one word of abuse by [MacRae]."
 Grover’s former wife, who acknowledges that he “never stated one word of abuse by [MacRae],” knew early on in their marriage that something was wrong. She had two daughters when they met, and both were frightened of him from the start. They saw him as a “sick individual who was obsessed with sex and teenage girls”; thus did they label him a “creep” and a “pervert.” They recall that he was “constantly eying” and groping them. When they woke up in the middle of the night, they would sometimes find him in their room, between their beds, staring at them.
The former wife and stepson testify that Grover bragged how he was going to set up MacRae and “get even with the church.” What was said is worth repeating at length:
“Grover would laugh and joke about this scheme and after the criminal trial and civil cash award he would again state how he had succeeded in this plot to get cash from the church. On several occasions, Grover told me that he had never been molested by MacRae…[and] stated to me that there were other allegations, made by other people against MacRae and [he] jumped on and piggy-backed onto these allegations for the money.”
Former friend of Grover and accuser who recanted: I knew "full well that it was [all] bogus … I did not want to lie or make up stories."
Former drug and alcohol counselor for Grover: Accuser Grover claimed abuse "by so many disparate people that his credibility in the [counseling] program was seriously in doubt"; Grover seemed like "he was going for some kind of sexual abuse victim world record." Plus, aggressive New Hampshire detectives applied "coercion, intimidation, veiled and more forward threats" and "threats of arrest" upon the counselor to try to extract a false incrimination of MacRae from her.
Courtroom spectators during Fr. MacRae's 1994 trial: A therapist hired by Grover's contingency lawyer used hand signals from the back of the courtroom to coach Grover on the witness stand.
Veteran FBI detective, after three-year private investigation: "I discovered no evidence of MacRae having committed the crimes charged, or any other crimes."
 It was also recently disclosed that the detective who had earlier hounded MacRae was guilty of badgering witnesses, misrepresenting what they said, offering inaccurate reports, and even collaborating with Grover’s civil lawyer. No wonder that another detective, a former FBI investigator, exonerated MacRae. “During the entirety of my three-year investigation of this matter,” James M. Abbott said, “I discovered no evidence of MacRae having committed the crimes charged, or any other crimes.”
Plus: A lengthy criminal rap sheet of accuser Grover reveals numerous arrests, before and after trial: multiple forgeries, multiple thefts, multiple burglaries, and assault on a police officer (after breaking his future ex-wife's nose). The jury at the trial never heard any of this.
Then there are the recent declarations from Debra Collett, who is Thomas Grover's former drug and alcohol counselor. After spending much time with Grover, Ms. Collett found Grover to be sorely lacking in integrity.
According to Collett, Grover claimed to be molested "by so many disparate people that his credibility in the [counseling] program was seriously in doubt." It seemed "he was going for some kind of sexual abuse victim world record."
Most notably, Ms. Collett indicates that she was a victim of intimidating and corrupt detective work.
In the course of trying to nab Fr. MacRae, Detective James McLaughlin and another detective interviewed Collett. They desperately wanted Collett to corroborate Grover's claims, but she could not give them what they wanted. Collet has said:
"Neither [detective] presented as an investigator looking for what information I had to contribute, but rather presented as each having made up their mind and sought to substantiate their belief in Gordon MacRae's guilt … I was uncomfortable with [the other detective's] repeated stopping and starting of his tape recorder when he did not agree with my answer to his questions and his repeated statements that he wanted to put [MacRae] where he belonged behind bars … I confronted [the other detective] about his statements and his stopping and starting the recording of my statement, his attitude and his treatment of me which seemed to me to include coercion, intimidation, veiled and more forward threats as well as being disrespectful. At that point and in later dealings, I was overtly threatened concerning my reluctance to continue to subject myself to their tactics, with threats of arrest
"My overall experience personally in interacting with the detectives was one of being bullied, there being an attitude of verbalized animosity, anger and preconception of guilt regarding Gordon MacRae. They presented as argumentative, manipulative and threatening via use of police power in an attempt to get me to say what they wanted to hear."
Collett's statements are indeed disturbing.
The work continues.

Too many senior people are implicated, from detectives, through Lawyers to the Judge. The District Attorney too. They close ranks: they hold the power. 

A finding that the good Father is innocent would cost reputation and a vast amount of compensation.

Bishops would be in the firing line too.

The Church has paid out $ Billions to false accusers. It is all so easy.

Pray for  my Supplier's Justice. Pray for Fr MacRae.

Drink up, because man's justice is all too often flawed.

We are told to be charitable, but there is danger in giving charity to the wicked - and drug addicts are eyes-wide-open sorts - who are apt to bite the hand that reaches out to help them.

Be charitable anyway, but keep a hand on your sword.