Wednesday, February 28, 2018

By the Seat of your Pants

The talk was about flying and whether women make good pilots. Frankly if anyone, man or woman, gets a licence and time in their log book they are way ahead of critics who raise the gender issue. Nevertheless  whilst it is far more usual for men to fly aircraft and helicopters than for women, I hazard that a woman 'doing it' just to prove she is as good as any man will not get far.  He and she share some common features, the requisit skills and almost compelling love of flying being right up there.  The drive is what differentiates them both from the ordinary man and woman in an office job.

We had a helicopter pilot in for a few light bevvies: a charming young German woman.  Helicopters are her great interest - she is a chopper techie by trade, - and not all that expensive but they are slow. Helicopters can't carry very much either. Helicopters run out of fuel before they have flown very far. Compared to an airplane you sacrifice a tremendous amount of utility but.... in exchange for the ability to land anywhere and the ability to fly very low and/or slow.

'Choppers' can go where no man or woman has been before ! 

Helicopters are also fun and challenging.  They also often offer a better career path than airplanes; the world is drowning in airplane pilots (well, not quite) but desperately short of helicopter pilots.

Mona Seeburger is meeting that demand.

To be a chopper pilot takes 'application': fine motor coordination skills: a fast brain that can process a huge information and sensory flow; an excellent sense of balance and .... a sensitive bum. The 'feel' of an aircraft strapped to you is mediated through the seat and wearing thin pants and even thinner underpants gives a girl some advantage! 


It takes a lot of training, and like most fixed-wing pilots, that training never stops. The earlier you can get much of it in, the better. But to 'go beyond' the usual, you have to go to the back of beyond.

Mona went to Canada to fly with Mischa Gelb who owns BC Helicopters with his wife Amy and his brother Sancho. The flying is just superb. In this video they go through different mountain flying techniques, flying in one of two Cabri G2's, operating between 4000'-6000' in magnificent mountains. Just watch and wonder at the 'workload'.

Mona has quite a few flying hours under her skirts. She has a new YouTube channel with helicopter videos from her trip there in Canada and in Germany and different parts of Europe.

You can, should you wish, see some of the videos she has made and the sights she has seen here....

Leave a note saying I sent you.

Meanwhile here is one to be going on with.

We raised a glass or too of fine foreign bevvy of distinction to Mona and wished her well.

I see a long career ahead.

Perhaps she can take an old Knight up to the mountain tops one day.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Death of a Salesman

He has to be counted amongst the Greats of the 20C. A Good Man: not a hero as such and unlikely to become a Saint, but undoubtedly recognised and favoured by my Supplier as one who may join the throng in Heaven. He is the Judge, not me, and while I personally would like to see him welcomed through the Pearly Gates I do not make the Rules. Nevertheless, let a poor and hairy old  Catholic help you take a look at this man. Billy Graham was God's Salesman.

Billy Graham very likely brought more people to Christianity than the next ten together in the past thousand years. Just how they fared is not known but at least they had been sold The Word in great number.  He did well.

He travelled the world attracting enormous crowds. His message was clear, uncompromising, welcoming. He made expert use of the communications media, marketing and venue management of the day. Those may sound prosaic but they were tools he put to the use of God.

He was invited to meet and even advise Presidents and Popes: he spoke to crowds of over 100,000. In Oz he packed Melbourne's MCG with 130,000: a number not seen before (in an age of the Beatles and Frank Sinatra who both had crowds) or after. It was and is a record.

Catholics sometimes have an undeserved hubris, with the occasional pronouncement that only Catholics will get to Heaven.  Some, that is, as there are many backsliders who won't even get to stop by the Tavern let alone climb further up the hill. As I said, I do not make the rules, but we are all sinners and Mr Graham brought more  people to Faith and Hope and Charity than most others, attracting people from the wastelands and swamps, dark forests and even chasms of the Soul, to the road that passes my Tavern. Catholic most may not have been but there is still chance and time for many to become.

It is instructive to take a quick look at the traffic flow between Catholic and Protestant, before we go on to look at his effect on both. 
Conversion from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism has received attention over recent years, partly on account of autobiographies that describe the movement. For example, in 1993, a Presbyterian graduate of Gordon-Conwell, Scott Hahn, published Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism. In 1994, Professor Thomas Howard wrote his story, Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome. Two years later, David Currie wrote Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic. In 2009, Frank Beckwith, after his election to the presidency of the Evangelical Theological Society, wrote Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic.
In 2011, radio host and columnist, Michael Coren wrote, Why Catholics Are Right. And in the same year Professor Christian Smith of Notre Dame wrote his story in a how-to book titled: How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps. These narratives and others like them have garnered considerable attention.
A little focus shows.... 
A peculiar thing has been happening at Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina. This is an institution that values the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and many other thinkers one would not expect to find on the shelves of an evangelical seminary. While producing a number of successful and popular Protestant pastors, SES has also been the site of a mass exodus across the Tiber.
In the decade from 2004 to 2014, more than two dozen faculty members, students, and alumni of SES have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Keeping in mind that only around two dozen students graduate from SES each year, this is rather a significant percentage. The obvious question is: “How can a school co-founded by an Evangelical theologian-apologist known to be critical of Catholicism produce so many Catholics?” In an effort to answer this very question, Douglas M. Beaumont has collected the accounts of nine conversions from SES, including his own, in a new book, Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths to Rome, published by Ignatius Press. 
Not that the attractions, the push-pulls, are all one way.
The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has put hard numbers on the anecdotal evidence: One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a separate denomination, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists. One of three people who were raised Catholic no longer identifies as Catholic.
One weeps. But into fine Ale.

Billy Graham was a powerhouse who had a personal and historic impact on Christianity, Protestants and Catholics. Looking at his burial a little later we shall see his personal impact. For now though we heard from Jon Sweeney.
How Billy Graham shaped American Catholicism

It did not hurt that Mr. Graham was handsome, with a thick head of wavy brown hair. He was tall and thin. He spoke commandingly and convincingly. 
One of his early biographers, William Martin, wrote in A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story:
Only the large expressive hands seem suited to a titan. But crowning this spindly frame is that most distinctive of heads, with the profile for which God created granite, the perpetual glowing tan, the flowing hair, the towering forehead, the square jaw, the eagle's brow and eyes, and the warm smile that has melted hearts, tamed opposition, and subdued skeptics on six continents.
Mr. Graham’s early commitment to relationships with Catholics was muddled, at best. 
During the 1960 U.S. presidential election, for example, according to biographer William Martin, the evangelist made it clear to many that Richard Nixon was his man and that he was deeply concerned at the prospect of a Catholic president. Soon thereafter, however, Mr. Graham seems to have changed his perspective. 
He experienced a warming and openness to expressions of Christian faith that had been previously foreign to his Southern, fundamentalist, Southern Baptist roots. 
In Just as I Am, Mr. Graham would explain that ecumenical notions began stirring in him back at the very beginning of his ministry, before the Los Angeles Crusade. These took time to develop, he said, and he had to move carefully.
By 1961, Mr. Graham and President Kennedy prayed side by side at a Washington prayer breakfast. A few years later, in 1964, Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston (who, as archbishop, had even endorsed a Graham crusade in Boston in 1950) met with Mr. Graham upon returning from Rome and the Second Vatican Council, declaring before a national television audience that Mr. Graham’s message was good for Catholics.

Cardinal Cushing said, “God will bless [Graham’s] preaching and crusade.” 
Mr. Graham responded with gratitude, stating that he felt much closer to Catholics and Catholic tradition than he did to what was more alien to his message: liberal Protestantism.

Such an embrace of Catholic understandings of faith over liberal Protestant ones would give birth to the “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” initiative of Richard John Neuhaus and Charles Colson 30 years later. Their joint ecumenical document, published in 1994, used biblical and theological principles to rally around shared political issues such as the right to life. Catholic co-signers of the ecumenical document included George Weigel and Jesuit theologian and frequent Americacontributor, Avery Dulles, S.J.
Throughout the remaining four decades of his public preaching ministry, Mr. Graham was known for warm friendships with other prominent Catholics, including the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., who even gave his permission for Mr. Graham to hold a crusade on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in its famous football stadium. Of course, Mr. Graham filled the stadium. Then there were notable and public friendships with Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Cardinal Francis Spellman, even Pope John Paul II.

Mr. Graham sought out the pope in 1981, requesting a private audience at the Vatican, something his core audience surely found strange. A photo op with the pope was never something desired by an evangelical leader in the past. Later, Mr. Graham proudly—and perhaps again somewhat indiscreetly—repeated John Paul II’s private words to him: 
“We are brothers.” 
The effect was powerful, and evangelicals and Catholics warmed to each other.
He  died aged 99. A damned fine run. The Obituaries are everywhere so I will let you find them. His impact was sometimes quite unknown to the public. Here is an account. It concerns Angola Prison.
Inmates at Louisiana prison built casket for Billy Graham

In 1995, as inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola lowered the makeshift, cardboard casket containing the body of fellow inmate Joseph Siegel into freshly dug ground at the prison’s cemetery, Siegel’s body fell through the bottom of the coffin.
Then, as the pallbearers positioned the casket with care over his body and began shoveling dirt, the top collapsed.

Burl Cain, in his first year as warden at the nation’s largest maximum-security prison, where all but a fraction of the 5,000 men will die without ever walking back through the gates, had seen enough.
Cain gathered inmates for what, by Angola standards, would be an unusual warden-prisoner talk. Many of the prisoners were skilled craftsmen, who had worked for years to set up the popular Angola Prison Rodeo.

“I told them, ‘Men, you’re going to die here, and we’ve got to do this with dignity,'” Cain recalled. 
“‘Y’all are going to build a coffin, and it’s going to be a nice coffin. When you die, you’ve served your sentence, and there’s no reason for anybody to kick your body.'”
That event more than two decades ago led to inmates at the prison building the casket for the Rev. Billy Graham, the charismatic evangelical Christian leader who died Feb. 21 at age 99.

Cain served as warden at Angola for 21 years and is credited with changing the violent and deadly prison culture through an emphasis on what he calls “moral rehabilitation.”

“I coined that term because everybody liked ‘morality’ and everybody liked ‘rehabilitation,’ and the ACLU would leave me alone,” Cain said. 
“I couldn’t say ‘faith-based’ and I couldn’t say ‘Christian.’ That would get me sued.”

Cain established seminary education, sponsored by the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and built several interdenominational chapels, including a hospice chapel funded by Catholic entities and an Alamo chapel, a replica of the original Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, used often by Catholic inmates.

Cain said he was being “selfish” when he decided to open Angola to the outside world, with an emphasis on theological training.
“I realized this: 
Moral people don’t rape, pilfer and steal,” Cain said. 
“So, if I could get these guys to become moral, I’d have a safer prison, I could survive.”

In 1997, Chuck Colson, an evangelical Christian who had served prison time for obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal and who had begun a national prison ministry, visited Angola with Tex Reardon, who was associated with the Rev. Graham and his worldwide evangelical crusades.

“In the 1950s, my mother would send a check for $5 every month to Billy Graham, even though she was a school teacher and my parents were poor,” Cain said. “So, I asked Tex Reardon if there was any way he could get Billy Graham to come here — because this prison needed him.”
Not long after that, Graham’s son Franklin visited Angola and was so impressed he set the wheels in motion for the construction of two more chapels — one for the inmates and another, Cain said, for “the employees of our little city.”

“They wanted their own people to come build it, because it was a ministry for them,” Cain said. “They wanted the pews to be just old-timey so that it would look like an old-timey church.”

They put an old bell in the top of an imposing steeple. The bell came from a locomotive that hauled sugar cane around the 18,000-acre Angola plantation the late 1800s, before it became a prison that was larger than the island of Manhattan.
“The Grahams wanted that steeple to be tall enough so that you could see the church from death row,” Cain said.
During one of Franklin Graham’s visits to Angola, he walked into the prison museum and saw an inmate-made casket. He was overwhelmed by the beauty and simplicity of the treated plywood. The white bedding for the inside of the coffins comes from Walmart.
“He told me, ‘This is one my Dad would want to be buried in. It’s so plain, but it’s built by prisoners. We’ve got to have these,'” Cain said.
Franklin Graham ordered six coffins, including for Rev. Graham and his wife Ruth, who died in 2007.
Three inmates — Richard “Grasshopper” Leggett, Clarence “Mr. Bud” Wilkerson and David Bacon — had the special assignment. Of the three, only Bacon is still alive. He was paroled in December 2012.
“They would pray before they started every day and ask that God would anoint their work, because this was a very serious thing,” Cain said. “Billy Graham was a human — he wasn’t God — but he was one of the godliest humans on the earth. They took it very seriously. And, it was a reverent operation.”
At Franklin Graham’s request, the three inmates wood-burned their names into the outside of each casket.

Rev. Graham was to be laid to rest March 2, in that Angola coffin, after lying for two days in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

Cain said the convergence of sacred circumstances — how Rev. Graham and faith brought peace to Angola and how Angola brought peace to the Graham family — leaves him almost speechless.

“If my mother in heaven knows what’s going on down here, she would be so proud, because when she wrote those little $5 checks, it influenced her son to like Billy Graham,” Cain said. “She led me in that direction.”
While, because of ill health, Rev. Graham never could visit Angola, Cain sent him a key to one of Angola’s old cells. A few years ago, Cain traveled to the mountains of Montreat, North Carolina, to offer his thanks for all that Rev. Graham and his son had made possible at Angola.
“I got to spend the afternoon with him, and he said, ‘I pray for you every day, and my nurse can verify it,'” Cain said. “And then he took out that key and he said, ‘Every day, I have a devotional, and I hold that key in my hand, and I pray for you and I pray for your prison.’ No wonder we were successful.”
When a great man dies, or even a not great but loved-one, we sometimes say, "We shall not see his like again".

I hope we do.

He was a Great Man and we could do with more.

Drink to the Soul of Mr Billy Graham.

A Good Man.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Only Kings can Drain Swamps

The Swamp is not just an American problem. There are swamps in all Anglophile western countries.  The age of Kings was ended in blood in western nations and replaced by Democracy. The blood has continued to flow. Electing the common man (and woman) to high power and to run our Institutions was supposed to be the way to go but it has not gained a sound track record. Maybe the old Athenian Tyrant is the way we need.
One looks in some horror at the efforts The Donald - hardly a tyrant despite the rhetorical shrieks of his detractors - is having to make to drain his home swamp and the hamstringing of those efforts: there are many in the ''public service' there that need their hamstrings cut and maybe even necks stretched. Yet look at Britain. Look at Oz. (One averts the eye and shakes the head at Canada!). I hazard things are no better here and there.

There are differences in 'democratic' political systems that feed different sorts of swamp. American Presidents have some 4000 political appointments that can be made to 'seed' and lead the large administrative institutions. It can take up the first few years of a Presidency just clearing out all the last one's appointments. There is resistance. Now the Donald is finding sheer opposition. 

He is finding traitorous actions from top levels to bottom. But he does not have the power to take decisive and terminal action. He cannot be a Tyrant and run things by decree, as Obama did. The Donald 'tweets' and exposes the rats. It is slow and painstaking and requires a Legal System that is impartial. The American one is anything but, with the DoJ that actively plotted against him. Even the FBI is actively involved in traitorous acts, in conspiracy with and conformity with the Obama- Clinton mafia.

In Oz and Britain there is a 'Westminster System', whereby the political party that gains in election inherits a Permanent Civil Service.  Political' appointments do not get a look in. They are supposed to be impartial, but what do we see? 

In Britain the weak female Prime Minister, elevated because the last PM  resigned having 'gone against' the wishes of the People, and no-one else wanted the hard task of implementing Brexit, is adrift in a 'character' far different from the last female Prime Minister.  

Her civil servants are, as she is, Remainers (Bremoaners) almost to a man and woman.  They cannot simply be 'replaced' by other more politically friendly people. The place is a shambles. While Brexit dominates the discussion the nation itself is becoming less British by the day.

In Oz we have had a long period of political slaughter with three Prime Ministers in a row being knifed in the back by their own side. 
The public service was and is without political or even democratic direction. 

One might have hoped that the civil service here would hold fast, but what do we find? 

Holding fast they are, but not to Oz. 

One wonders how long and how deeply the attitudes and actions have been going on, with civil servants deliberately ignoring the best interests of Oz and even the directions of the politicians. 

Fiefdoms are ingrained. 

Only some firm action can stop the rot. 

Heads must roll. Perhaps literally.

It is almost ironic that amid all the political turmoils besetting us today, one of the most popular media entertainments is the fictional  'Game of Thrones'. It is enjoyed by so many who do not realise that it is based on reality.

 Yes, Kings were problematic, often, but we have not improved by having Democracy. 

At least Kings could rid themselves and their nations of pesky traitors, time wasters and depleters of the treasury. History is replete with examples of good Kings and Bad ones. 

One could speak widely but we had a chap in to have a pint and a chat about one aspect of the Oz situation which no-one is even keeping an eye on let alone kicking arses. 

Our 'foreign' service. We call it DFAT. It should be called Defeat. 

Some of the matters he held forth about may seem trivial compared to FBI conspiracies and the legion of people connected to the modern Lucrezia Borgia Hilary that have died mysteriously. 

But they speak to the woeful mindcast. Most of the 'civil servants' in DFAT do not have what it takes for real traitorous behaviour. Ineptitude is more the order. But it is ineptitude in a particular direction. 

Leftist, cultural marxist, feminist, PC attitudes lie barely beneath the surface. 

They are anti-western in character and colour.

Mark Higgie was Australian ambassador to the EU, 2014-17, so has not only been 'close' to DFAT but was also a former adviser to Tony Abbott. 
Political bias: 
leftist DFAT holds our foreign policy hostage

Bureaucracies are shaped as much by the political views of those who staff them as their commitment to implementing government policies. Having observed our diplomats from the prime minister’s office as an adviser to Tony Abbott and on five diplomatic postings, I have no doubt that their views of the world, advice and decision-making in the main reflect — to a greater extent than other parts of the federal government machinery — the politically correct pieties that also dominate the ABC, the Fairfax press, our universities and, increasingly, our schools.

To any Canberra insider, especially those in Coalition circles, the fact most of our diplomats are leftish is a given. 
But the foreign service’s political bias matters and is a real issue for Liberal-National governments — obviously not so much for Labor. If the bias isn’t corrected by close government management, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s bureaucracy and operations (cost: $5.1 billion this financial year including overseas aid) will go their own way and capture ministers and even prime ministers along the way.
That is if they, the Ministers, care. Most seem to be in the business of reefing as much money and perks for themselves. And fighting amongst themselves.  And buying 'international office'. That is their priority.  The drivel discussed (if that is the word) in Parliament is mostly a distraction from what is really going on.
The spirit of Gough Whitlam continues to hover over DFAT’s RG Casey Building in Canberra. Most of our diplomats dream of an Australia less aligned with the US and have an often unqualified enthusiasm for the UN. 
They prefer Greens/Labor approaches to climate change to those of the Coalition. They’re deeply uneasy with recent Coalition border protection policies and like the 1970s version of multiculturalism that “celebrates diversity” without much concern for common values and integration. 
They want us unshackled, as they see it, from our symbolic linkages with Britain.
As if we were not an independant nation and have been for 118 years.  Great Britain in its heyday was Parent to all Anglophile nations which should honour it. These 'multiculturalists' would wish we had 'parents' from Nigeria.
A few examples of DFAT’s thriving leftist bias and the tendency among many of its staff to make judgments out of step with mainstream Australian attitudes:
• Yassmin Abdel-Magied has become notorious for her contemptuous attitude towards Australia, highly controversial views of Islam (“the most feminist religion”) and preparedness to seek advice from the extremist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir — banned in many countries because of its defence of Islamist terrorism, one of its spokesmen having described Australian troops in Afghanistan as “fair game” whom Muslims had an obligation to attack. 
Nevertheless, Abdel-Magied was appointed in 2015 to DFAT’s Council for Australian-Arab Relations and the following year, after she said on the ABC’s The Drum that sharia law was “about mercy” and “kindness”, DFAT funded and promoted her travels around the Middle East, representing Australia.
OK. it is not as though DFAT loaded pallets of cash - 150 billion bucks of cash - and sent them to a foreign power. They sent poisonous emissaries.
• This case of DFAT’s desperation to prove itself hip to Islam wasn’t an exception. Its Twitter account for some years has extended greetings to Muslims on the occasion of Ramadan and last year the usual message was supplemented by an additional message from the DFAT secretary. But no equivalent courtesies were tweeted last year to the world’s Jews — or indeed to the world’s Christians.
• DFAT also recently created a Twitter storm by enthusing about the Muslim “modest fashion market” of hijabs and burkinis — apparently oblivious to the fact the pressures and in some cases requirement to wear such garments are deeply controversial in many Muslim communities, as highlighted by recent anti-hijab protests in Iran. There was much social media incredulity that DFAT could imply that women who don’t wear such garments are somehow immodest and what this says about an organisation that is supposed to represent Australia to the world and to champion the rights of women and girls.

• Most Australians would be aghast that about $44 million of their taxes will be paid this financial year for aid projects in the Palestinian territories, while the Palestinian Authority managed to find $US347m last year for payments to convicted terrorists and their families under its “martyr payments policy”, thus encouraging terrorism. 
The US House of Representatives in December unanimously passed the Taylor Force Act, which would link continued US aid to the Palestinian Authority ceasing such payments. But the Australian government, advised by DFAT, continues to resist any such linkage.
Ve vish ve had vays of silenzink you.

• In June last year the EU funded an EU-Australia Leadership Forum in Sydney, with round tables discussing various matters of mutual interest, organised in co-operation with DFAT. One of the round tables was focused on migration issues, an opportunity for European participants to learn more about Australia’s success in stopping the people-smugglers’ trade while maintaining a generous refugee intake — an achievement in which Europeans have been increasingly interested since their catastrophic and continuing migration crisis. 
But the round table was chaired by then Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs, one of the most strident critics of the government’s border protection policies.

• In Brussels I discovered widespread awareness that a DFAT officer at the mission was moonlighting openly as the president of a political lobby group, using social media to make charges of racism and homophobia against prominent European political figures, including the leader of an EU and NATO member-state with which Australia enjoys cordial relations.

• Another DFAT official at the mission used Twitter to call for Rupert Murdoch to “become a hermit”, to describe the government as “utterly backward” on gay marriage — but Julia Gillard as “a personal hero” and “a strong female progressive” — and to barrack for a Labour win in the 2015 British election.
Who authroised Gillard to give Au$Millions to Hilary Clinton? Was it she herself, or was it some functionary who slid a cheque for signing into her red box? Who did the same with Bishop who seems to have added to the Clinton Foundation's pot of embezzeled taxpayers' monies. Such 'donations' insult every decent Australian.
• At a US embassy reception arranged on November 9, 2016, to watch the results of the presidential election, a DFAT officer present wept openly once it became clear Donald Trump had won.

The problem with our foreign affairs bureaucracy isn’t just the consistent political correctness and suspicion of the Coalition. Much effort is devoted to activity often marginal to Australia’s international interests.
How very diplomatic. They are traitors. Parasites. Playing for the other team. 
Much fretting goes into how to achieve increased staffing diversity in DFAT, including through “diversity networks” and “champions” — even though the days when it was dominated by Anglo heterosexual men are long gone.
From DFAT's blog.

No one wants discrimination against minorities, but most taxpayers would see DFAT’s participation in last year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as an activity remote from the protection of our international interests.

Agonised introspection chews up much effort more broadly, with the regular generation of often impenetrable managerialese: for example, with its “capability improvement program” — not to be confused with its “capability action plan” — DFAT is on a “capability development journey”, ever on the lookout for “capability champions” (to supplement the “diversity champions”).
Every one with a budget, of course. 
The effort put into this gibberish, which now includes “unconscious bias” training for managers, requires much expensive staff time. 
The appalling lapse by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in losing hundreds of cabinet documents raises the question of whether these fashionable corporate obsessions distract attention from important priorities, such as ensuring national security and maintaining the confidence of our allies in sharing their secrets with us.

Even more effort goes into DFAT’s favourite activity, campaigning for more influence in the UN. 
If this didn’t require such effort, money and distortion to our foreign policy, it might not matter. But, as with Labor’s campaign for the UN Security Council, that’s rarely the case. In that instance, in pursuit of votes, hundreds of millions of dollars of extra aid money were pumped into Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, and we softened our traditionally strong support for Israel.
The phenomenal outflows of Taxpayers' monies to cronies all over the world make the mind boggle. Oz has a huge foreign debt. To give away a dollar, we have to borrow it and enough to cover the ever growing interest accruing. Our debt grows by the day and Mrs Bishop spends $30,000 on  a dress to woe dictators and muslims, both of which sorts sneer at her behind her back. 

We send hundreds of millions of dollars to larger populated nations that have nuclear power, nuclear weapons, huge armed forces and space programs.

 We ourselves have none of these other than a small armed force. No political party has a mandate to give such wasted largesse. 

No Minister has a list in her handbag. The cheques are raised in DFAT by some nameless (to the public) civil servant who says "Sign Here".

Those civil servants say it is a drop in the ocean in GDP terms, and perhaps it is. But the fact is we are in enormous debt and that is not going to be paid for by cups of coffee.

There are just 13 million income tax payers in Oz. $5000,000,000 is just $385 per head. I do not begrudge 'foreign aid' to those that need it, but I also know many people in Oz who could keep their nostrils just above the waterline with $385. And it does appear that some of that money goes to waste and to people not in need. For example Oz gives $330 million to Indonesia, which has an enormous military: much larger than ours. Indonesia has 230 million people: ten times our population. They are just as capable as any to manage their affairs but seem to have a GDP of just under a $Trillion compared to our $1.2 Trillion. Why are we giving them a cent? 
Dane Gelt.

When Indonesia was hit by a Tsunami our Government gave Au$One Billion in aid. It was generous and needed. No-one begrudged it. In addition though, the people of Oz collected from amongst themselves another one Billion bucks to give to Indonesia.  

Indonesia does not give us aid when we have natural disasters - which are annual in Oz.

No-one elected the civil servants, who seem scared of Indonesia. They are the bloke and the woman down the street. Commoners, like you and me. (Well, not me). They rise up the greasy pole by conforming to the dogmas learned in University at their Marxist lecturers' knee.

To avoid a repeat performance, Abbott resisted DFAT pressure to launch a campaign for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. That partly reflected its particularly dubious nature — its members include Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China. But after Abbott lost the leadership, DFAT quickly got the green light. 
As The Australian’s Greg Sheridan observed, this signalled that the Turnbull administration was going to be a bit more cuddly and progressive internationally. 
It chewed up huge amounts of effort as we hawked our credentials to be admitted into the company of some of the world’s worst human rights violators.

With its managerial and UN preoccupations, DFAT has long neglected some of the basics of what we should expect of a foreign service. Foreign language skills, one of the keys to understanding other countries, aren’t taken all that seriously. Unlike most diplomatic services, foreign language ability isn’t compulsory for recruits. Several officers in Brussels, after years in the city, hadn’t bothered to learn enough French to be able to order a cup of coffee.

The writing skills of recruits are generally poor considering the competitive selection process. Many struggle to string together a coherent paragraph, let alone reports that may find their way towards the top of a minister’s or prime minister’s in-tray.

An especially insidious manifestation of DFAT’s right-on tendencies is the widespread instinct to shun political forces its officials disapprove of, be it members of Trump’s team during the US presidential campaign or Brexiteers ahead of the British referendum on EU membership.

On networking skills, many DFAT staff are painfully shy and passive about developing contacts. More useful than unconscious bias courses for DFAT staff would be training on developing networks, writing well, and developing conversation skills.
Meetings, meetings, and the essential sandwiches.

A curiosity is that as skills once considered core for our diplomats have declined, accommodation of dietary preferences has seen explosive growth. Colleagues at Meat & Livestock Australia have encountered vegetarianism so often among DFAT staff at their promotional events that they would occasionally ask in semi-jest if it was a selection criterion. 
One of our young diplomats once, when told that fish was to be served at an embassy function, demanded evidence that it had been sustainably sourced.

Our foreign affairs bureaucracy can be sloppy when it comes to what should be basics such as how we define our key area of strategic interest — where precision is important. The recent foreign policy white paper confirmed this as the “Indo-Pacific”, defined as the eastern Indian Ocean to the Pacific — so excluding the western parts of South Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. But at another point in the document, the authors treat the whole of South Asia as part of the Indo-Pacific.

Another basic is that DFAT should be prudent with taxpayers’ money. 
In 2012 it famously paid $388,000 to send 23 officials to a climate change summit in Rio de Janeiro; four years later it paid $192,000 to send a similar number to Paris to find ways to save costs. There was further extravagance last year when our 113 heads of mission were recalled home for discussions at a cost of $1.17m. As reported by The Australian, Alexander Downer, when foreign minister, rejected proposals for such meetings as a waste of money and time. Nothing about last year’s meeting suggested this assessment needed revision.

The 2015 review of DFAT led by Brendan Nelson recommended extending postings to four years, which would have saved millions of dollars. But after union objections, DFAT dropped the idea. To her credit, Julie Bishop, on becoming Foreign Minister, banned first-class travel in DFAT, prompting probably the most bitter objections from its leadership to any decision of the current government.

But probably DFAT’s worst failing is its lack of alertness to opportunities to advance the national interest. Why, for example did it not persuade Kevin Rudd or Gillard to pursue a free trade agreement with the EU?

The EU is the world’s second largest economy but its protectionism heavily restricts Australian exports in key areas such as beef and lamb. During Labor’s last term in office, the US, Canada and Japan launched talks on securing free trade agreements with the EU. The Canadians in 2012 estimated that an FTA with the EU would result in a $C12bn increase in Canada’s gross domestic product and 80,000 new jobs. Such analysis should have prompted Australia also to bang on doors in Brussels to start FTA talks. Why did that have to await the Abbott government?
Our elected politicians - of all stripes - are inept and corrupt. The civil service is the same. It is a swamp. 

Or perhaps a moral desert. 

We have a lot of desert on Oz. We call it the Red Centre.

There is a marxist-red centre in the mindset of our 'authorities': the leaders and servants.

Between them they advocate and implement the killing of near 100,000 Australian babies in the womb every years and bring in as immigrants twice as many. Many of those foreigners who come here do not like us; they do not like our Institutions; they do not like our Government and Governance.

I do not either.

The Democracy we 'enjoy' does not work. Those we elect do not act on our behalf first and foremost. Their hired hands actively work against the will and tenor of the ordinary Australian. Most if not all are Immoral.

They all need to be swept away.

So, I refer you back to the video at the top. Who do you get to Govern? 

I give my allegiance to the King of Kings. He who shall come again will sweep away Prime Ministers and Presidents. I have little doubt He will sweep away all those men (and women) who are not of 'Goodwill' who populate our Departments of State.

Meanwhile a firm hand is needed and I would welcome a Morally Righteous King to Rule over Oz.

Not that I am putting m'self up for the job (I am a knackered old chap) but I do have experience.

I might be a bit terse in the first few years.

Drink up and pray for the day when my Supplier comes to take charge.


This is the 1000th post from the Tavern.

I am also pleased to say that we have just had our 400,000th customer take a tankard of fine ale to toast my Supplier.

That represents 400 'page views' per post overall, although the number has grown over time and some posts have had as many as 2500 visits.

Many thanks to all the readers and drinkers. Please continue to drop by.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Birds in the Bush

In Oz the 'bush' is that vast interior far away from civilised cities, towns and even villages. Some other countries have their wild and desolate places too, where only the hardy individuals dare to share isolation with wild animals and wild weather.  Outback, Bondu, wilderness, the 'Back Country', whatever the name, such places are largely inaccessible by ordinary means or by ordinary men and women. The 'frontier' places. Getting there and through is not for the city car driver. Planes are necessary. Hardy, agile planes. In such places the ladies are few. But today a few of those ladies were spoken of in the Tavern and glasses raised to courage, persistence, sheer hard work and adventure.

A bird in the hand, it is said, is worth more then two in the bush, but there are exceptions to every rule. Here are two with whom any man would hold hands. For an aging Knight who loves women and planes, I, for one, was in for a treat. Here were men's women.

First up we heard of Leighan Falley, a spunky gal who has proven herself a hero's companion when the going gets tough.
Alaskan Bush Pilots have been the brave and iconic adventurers of the skies for over a century. They have tamed America's most outlandish natural landscapes thanks to their outstanding courage and one-of-a-kind gut instinct – and Leighan Falley, a Talkeetna-based pilot, is one of them. 
Falley is one of the very few female Alaskan pilots to continuously push boundaries in the great northern skies. 
Always graceful, even when under pressure, she explores Alaska's idyllic yet raw nature with the courage of an explorer, following her instincts, while calculating risks. 
“The first memory of my entire life is being in the backseat of my father's airplane,” Falley recalls. “I must have been a tiny baby, I remember feeling the airplane moving through the air and seeing the trees and the river below.” 
In Talkeetna, situated some 115 miles north of Anchorage on the southern edge of the Denali National Park, Falley is one of the Talkeetna Air Taxi pilots. The company was established in the 40s, the early days of Alaskan aviation, and currently runs 10 bush aircraft. 
“I moved to Talkeetna about 13 years ago and the summer I moved to town I learned to fly,” Leighan Falley smiles. “The first time I flew an airplane by myself – they call it your first solo – was probably one of the most amazing moments in my life.”

 In a northern wilderness filled with hazards – think blizzards and whiteouts, snow-covered glaciers, unexpected storms, heavy rains and wild rivers – raw survival skills are needed in addition to tech-savvy expertise, and Leighan Falley excels in both. “The part of Alaska that is accessible by road is very different from the one accessible by plane. The first is more comfortable, the second keeps you away from the craziness of the big city life. It's like having two different Alaskas. I like both parts, but prefer it when the road ends because this is when airplanes begin. 
I like to fly the Beaver, it's my favorite Alaskan Bush Plane,” she continues. “There's a famous sign in Talkeetna which is an advertising board for the early air taxis that says 'Fly an hour or walk a week'.” 
She flies to the remotest locations in Alaska in order to capture the adventurous everyday life of the Great North, while bringing mountaineers to their final destination and helping those in need.
Living her dream, Leighan Falley is not only a brave pilot, but also a mother, a ski guide, an alpinist, having reached the peak of Denali Mountain six times out of twelve expeditions. 
“Alaska is probably my favorite place on earth,” she continues. “I've been through different continents, climbed different mountain ranges, including the Himalaya, but Alaska is my favorite. It is so big and so wild, vast and untouchable. The biosphere is intact, the animals live in their natural habitat. Mountain ranges rise from a hundred meters to six thousand meters – it's simply beautiful. In a place as beautiful as Alaska, you have to have an airplane to see all of it,” she concludes. 
“Discovering Alaska and climbing its mountains is a journey that involves a lot of beauty, 
a lot of hardship, and a lot of testing yourself mentally and physically.”.
I am unsurprised she favours the Beaver. The quintessential Alaska bush plane, the DeHavilland Beaver occupies a seat of honor in the annals of aviation history. Perhaps no other airplane ever built has seen such a long career, and proven to be as indispensable today as it was when developed over 65 years ago.

The sturdily-built Beaver was designed to carry a lot of weight and operate effectively on either wheels or floats. Alaska Seaplanes' Beavers, for instance, all operate on straight floats in the summer for maximum payload, and amphibious floats in the winter for optimum flexibility. All their Beavers have advanced Capstone avionics packages with ADS-B real-time positioning capability.

With an ample useful load and the ability to carry up to six passengers, the Beaver is the perfect airplane for ferrying you to wilderness camping destinations—remote lakes, Forest Service cabins, islands and rivers.

It has 'reach', just like the fine gal above. 

Such 'reaching' is not confined by age  or to planes though. Leighan may be a modern young woman, cut from a very different cloth from 99% of her peers, but she shares a similar weave of hardiness, effort and self-reliance as several Oz ladies of a... ahem... more matured vintage.  They have reached out and tested themselves too.

Lydia Burton told of three ladies of the bush, of which I shall tell of just one here. Penny Button. She and the two others that you can follow the link to see, persisted alone after tragic losses of their menfolk. And continued life in the Bush on the vast 'stations' that are found in the Oz outback.

Meet the women who stay and work the land on their own despite tragedy
Three graziers, who each lost their husbands in separate tragedies, have taken on the running of enormous, remote sheep and cattle stations almost on their own.

Ann Ballinger, Penny Button and Ros Wood all lost their husbands suddenly.

Penny Button's eldest son Rodney died in a plane crash in 2003. Her husband Ian died of heart failure in 2006.
Losing both within three years, she found her connection to the property and community was her saving grace.
She owns Crossmoor station near Longreach, a vast 32,000-hectare property that, in a good year, can run up to 5,000 head of cattle.

"There's no truer saying than 'you don't know what you've got until you haven't got it'," she said.
"I just realise now the stress in running these properties and the tough side of things that he [Ian] shielded me from forever."
While for some the thought of flying again is unfathomable, Ms Button said it was just part of life in the bush. 

"My father was killed in a car accident, but you don't just not drive," she said.
"I did think about it and I don't think I did have a fly for a while. It wasn't deliberate bit I just didn't do it.
"Rodney was a very positive character and I think of him a lot. One of his great sayings was 'every day is a good day' and I often think of that."

Despite the tragedies that have struck her family, Ms Button's youngest son Hugh has come home to take over the family property with his wife Amanda and young son Charlie.
Hugh Button cannot imagine living anywhere else.
"I just love the adventure of the country life. I love the adventure and the freedom of it and getting out and about in the wide open spaces … every day is so different," he said.
"The support network in the bush — it just says so much about the bush.
"People stick together through the good times — and they celebrated the good times crazily — and when times get devastating they all stick together and get amongst it."
The tale of strong women left to make it on their own is not uncommon in western Queensland.
Watch and listen to these woman at a video on the link above. See Penny in her plane going out to round up her cowboys.

Oz has cowboys. Many Americans see the cowboy as their own, but hey, Oz has been herding cows as long as has America. Now our lads ride choppers as well as quarter horses. They are even faster ! 

And Oz has buffalos too. But not like those in North America. 

Planes suited for the bush are many, but some are a cut above the rest. Here are five for you to gauge and rank. 

It makes one wish the bones did not creak so much. It makes one wish for an adventure away from the Tavern for a few months.  Getting a bit of testing again.

Anyone care to take over the bars for a bit?

If I were only far younger. Freedom in total wilderness. Sunscreen, snickers bar and a Glock. And a Cub with fat wheels. 

Drink to those fine ladies. And the men who have the skies.

Drink to hardiness, courage and Character.

And fun.