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On a Journey


Conservation and Renewal


There was an old man who lived in a forest. As he grew older and older, he started losing his hair, until one day, on his deathbed, he was completely bald.
That day, he called his children to a meeting. He said, “Look at my hair. It used to be so magnificent, but it’s completely gone now. My hair can’t be saved. But look outside in the forest. It’s such a lovely forest with so many trees, but sooner or later they’ll all be cut down and this forest will look as bald as my hair.”
“What I want you to do,” the man continued, “is, every time a tree is cut down or dies, plant a new one in my memory. Tell your descendants to do the same. It shall be our family’s duty to keep this forest strong.”
So they did. Each time the forest lost a tree, the children planted a seed and grew a new one, and so did their children, and their children after them.
And for centuries, the forest remained as lush and pretty as it once was, all because of one man and his re-seeding heirline.

 

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Josh Frydenthatch


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Ghosts of Economists Passed


Thatcher and Reagan are figures of hate for the left because they were so successful.

Josh Frydenberg 26.07.2020
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Family Planning


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Conspiracies


Dumbing Down


Somehow we are all surprised that America is no longer the World’s Super Power?

Because Trump.

No, the signs were there long before that.

I really wish this was a cyber-myth – yet research shows it actually happened.

Image may contain: food, text that says '"Describe Americans using a single picture" Me: In the 1980s, A&W tried to compete with the McDonald's Quarter Pounder by selling a 1/3 pound burger at a lower cost. The product failed, because most customers thought 1/4 pound was bigger.'

 

 

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Return Scott Morrison


Mattias Cormann – Class Traitor


EARLY LIFE

Mathias Hubert Paul Cormann was born in the German-speaking town of Eupen in eastern Belgium, [1] to Herbert and Heldegard Cormann on 20 September 1970. [1]

‘Herbert Cormann was working as a turner in a local factory when he developed health problems. “My father was a very hard worker until serious illness struck him down at a time when he and my mum had four kids under 10,” Cormann recalls. Describing it as “a very personal matter”, he adds that Herbert became an alcoholic. “It is fair to say that the most challenging time for us as a family was during that time, from when I was 10 to when I was 15.” His father overcame that addiction and has not drunk since. “That was a great achievement and something we are all very proud of.”

Mathias formed a close bond with his mother. Speaking after her son’s appointment as Finance Minister, Heldegard Cormann told Fairfax Media that her son had “learnt everything necessary to look after the other children and to do the housework . . . He became, not like a father exactly, but much more grown up. He organised all the family affairs . . . My son and I always spoke a lot about things. I liked it because he wanted to change things that are not good.” 

The Cormann household was sustained through these difficult years by a state disability pension and the support of the local church, where Mathias served as an altar boy. He performed altar duties for weddings, and after each one was given a book from the Tintin series by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, books he chose. Cormann still has all 23 books. There are Tintin prints in his ministerial office – alongside a framed, autographed West Coast Eagles football jumper. His Belgian childhood hero was an intrepid, truth-seeking, crime-busting boy reporter; his Australian heroes are men who play a code of football he didn’t know existed before he migrated. [2]

The Catholicism with which Cormann grew up reflects the deep conservatism of the German-speaking region of eastern Belgium. Formerly part of Germany, the region was annexed to Belgium under the redrawing of borders that resulted from the Treaty of Versailles. Between the wars, German-speaking nationalists agitated for reunification with Germany. The retaking of Eupen was an important symbol of Adolf Hitler’s early military triumphs. Eupen was one of the first towns the Nazis declared to be “free of Jews” after Jewish residents were shipped out to concentration camps. Because of its symbolism, Eupen became a key target for American forces after the D-Day landings in 1944 and the region, including Raeren, was the scene of some of the most ferocious fighting in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. [2]

EDUCATION


Cormann graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven).

As part of his university studies Cormann participated in a one-year student exchange program at the University of East Anglia in Norwich in 1993–94, where he first learned to speak English. [1]

He was a law student in Belgium during the protests that marked the beginning of the end of communism in Europe. The chance to witness a great, historic event propelled him and some of his university friends to jump in a car and hurtle to Berlin just days after the Wall had been breached by huge, cheering crowds. What Cormann observed in Berlin still sits powerfully with him. Looking from the Wall to the East and then to the West, he says he saw why capitalism had triumphed over communism.

“You had two German populations divided by the Wall,” he says. “You had millions of people living side by side with the same challenges after the war, the same opportunities, same climate, same geography. All the preconditions were the same. But they were subject to different policy choices and different systems of government. On one side, you could see freedom, reward for effort and encouragement for people to stretch themselves and where that had led.

On the other side you could see where lowest-common-denominator policies had led.” These impressions were reinforced when Cormann studied in England. “There were students there from East Germany who had started to come to west European universities. I spoke to them and it was very obvious: socialism holds people back; policies based on freedom, free choice and reward for effort ultimately lift everyone.” [2]

(His) mother tongue is German. Growing up in Raeren, a small town in eastern Belgium, he didn’t speak a word of English for the first two decades of his life. His attempts to master his fourth language after German, French and Flemish came only after a solid period studying law in Belgium. [4]

 

EUROPEAN CAREER

In 1991, aged 21, Cormann joined the Christlich Soziale Partei (CSP) in Raeren, where he served as a municipal council member.

From 1994 to 1996, Cormann served as an assistant to Member of the European Parliament Mathieu Grosch. [1]  “He was my first personal assistant in Brussels; it was obvious he was intelligent, driven and charismatic but also blessed with youthful impatience and full of determination,” Grosch said in a statement on Cormann’s appointment as Finance Minister. “No road was too far for him to travel to reach his goal.” [4]

AUSTRALIA BEFORE POLITICS

Mathias Cormann vividly remembers arriving in Australia. It was June 1994, and the 23-year-old Belgian had flown to Perth to meet the family of a girl he had fallen for when studying English in Britain. “I still remember flying from Brussels to Singapore, which is a very long way, and then waiting for quite a while, and then flying for another five hours to Perth,” he says, as if recalling some sort of excruciating physical pain. If he’d had to add yet another five hours to get to the east coast, he might have been put off.

But on arrival in Perth he was mesmerised. Cormann’s first thoughts as he drove along the banks of the sparkling Swan River to a luncheon at a beachside restaurant with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, were (that) it really felt like the edge of the world. “Perth was just amazing to me, and it remains amazing today,” he says.  The relationship with the Perth girl didn’t last, but Cormann’s love of his new country did. [4]

After his initial visit to Australia, Cormann returned to Belgium intending to make a career in law there. But he returned four months later, this time for a summer Christmas. “The sense I had at the time was that everything was so big. There was so much opportunity. It sounds like a cliché but you could literally feel the likelihood that this place was going to develop quite incredibly strongly. At the time I thought, ‘Wow, this is great. I want to be part of it.’ ” He returned to Belgium yet again but Perth loomed ever larger in his head. In July 1996, Cormann formally migrated to Australia, a country none of his family or circle of Belgian friends had ever visited.  [4]

His Belgian law degree was not recognised in Australia, so Cormann fired off hundreds of letters to all sorts of potential Perth employers asking for work. All that came of these efforts was a casual job as a gardener. “What I found was that if you just write letters, people just write back polite replies. I said to myself, ‘You have got to be a bit smarter about this.’ ” [4]

Cormann decided to take a direct approach. With two years’ experience as a political assistant to Grosch under his belt and some knowledge of international law and treaties, he approached WA Liberal senator Chris Ellison, who was chairman of the treaties committee in Federal Parliament.  “I rang him and asked for a meeting. I suggested to him I might be able to help as a volunteer while I was trying to find a job. We met, had a chat and essentially just started talking politics. Chris said ‘Yep, give it a shot.’ Within two weeks somebody on his staff got crook and I got put in as a relief staffer. The rest, as they say, is history.”[4]

Cormann became a senior adviser to Ellison, who went on to become a minister in the Howard government. Cormann struck Ellison at that first meeting as a serious person of obvious intelligence, with a savvy political brain and a willingness to commit. Ellison was emerging as an increasingly powerful figure in the state Liberal Party. After years of turmoil and ugly factionalism in the WA branch, Howard gave Ellison the task of cleaning out the stables and uniting the party membership. Ellison did well, becoming political godfather to a generation of ambitious Liberals. Eight of his former staff, including Cormann, became state or federal MPs. [4]

Bob Fisher, one of the five members of the Abbott government’s National Commission of Audit panel, has known Cormann since soon after he arrived in Australia. Fisher was director-general of the WA Department of Family and Children’s Services. In 1997 he met up with the newly appointed minister for the portfolio, Rhonda Parker, who had with her “this tall, good-looking young fellow who talked like Arnold Schwarzenegger”. Says Fisher: “I couldn’t make this bloke out. Who was he? What was a bright young bloke from Belgium doing in Perth working for a state minister?” Fisher says he took Cormann out for coffee after the meeting, during which the young political staffer told Fisher he aspired to move into federal politics. “Then you will want to get into the House of Representatives. That’s where the action is,” Fisher told Cormann. “He said, ‘No, Bob. The Senate. With my accent no one would vote for me if I tried to get a seat [in the House].’ I thought, ‘Wow. This is a young bloke who knows what he wants.’ ” [4]

Party positions

  • Senior Vice-President of the Liberal Party Perth Division from 2000 to 2003.
  • Councillor of the Liberal Party State Branch (WA) from 2000.
  • Vice-President of the Liberal Party State Branch (WA) from 2003 to 2004.
  • Senior Vice-President of the Liberal Party State Branch (WA) from 2004 to 2008.   [6]

Qualifications and occupation before entering Federal Parliament

  • LLC (Notre Dame University, Namur)
  • LLL (Catholic University of Leuven)
  • Chief of Staff, Minister for Family and Children’s Services (WA) 1997-2000
  • Senior Adviser to the State Premier (WA), the Hon. RF Court, MLA 2000-01
  • Adviser to the Minister for Justice and Customs, the Hon. CM Ellison 2001-03
  • Health services manager, HBF Health Insurance 2003-04
  • General manager, Healthguard 2004-06
  • Acting general manager, HBF Health Insurance 2006-07   [6]

 

 

PRIVATE LIFE

One of the few esoteric Cormann behaviours is that instead of writing “lol” in texts he says “ha ha”, a phrase that instantly evokes his strong German accent in anyone who has met him. [2]

‘As I arrive at his Perth home, one of Australia’s most powerful politicians has a huge grin as he produces from his fridge a perfectly decorated cake in the shape of a Number 1 for his youngest daughter, Charlotte.

Cormann tells me he was up until 11pm baking the birthday cake, before reaching for his phone and showing me pictures of another cake he has made for his three-year-old daughter Isabelle in the shape of Thomas the Tank Engine. “Just in case you don’t believe me, here is proof I actually made the cake,” he said, studying pictures of the Thomas cake in different stages of development.

“Making the birthday cakes is my job. This one (for Charlotte) was not as involved as the other one for Isabelle. “I did the Thomas cake for Isabelle’s second birthday on request. We did a fair bit of it together, which was fun.”

Cormann the baker? Where did that all start?

Cormann’s mind goes back to when he was a child in Raeren, a small town in eastern Belgium, where he grew up with his father Herbert, mother Hildegard and his three younger sisters. “I was responsible for the baking. I started when I was about 10,” he said. “They were pretty straight-forward cakes, but I enjoyed doing them a lot — apple strudel and things like that.” [5]

POLITICAL LIFE

Parliamentary service

  • Chosen by the Parliament of Western Australia on 19.6.2007 under section 15 of the Constitution to represent that State in the Senate, vice Hon. I Campbell (resigned). Elected to the Senate for Western Australia 2010. Re-elected 2016.

Ministerial appointments

  • Minister for Finance from 18.9.2013 to 23.8.2018.
  • Cabinet Minister from 18.9.2013.
  • Special Minister of State from 18.2.2016 to 19.7.2016.
  • Special Minister of State from 20.12.2017 to 28.8.2018.
  • Vice-President of the Executive Council from 20.12.2017.
  • Acting Prime Minister from 21.2.2018 to 26.2.2018.
  • Minister for Finance and the Public Service from 28.8.2018 to 29.5.2019.
  • Minister for Finance from 29.5.2019.

Committee service

  • Senate Standing: Regulations and Ordinances from 13.2.2008 to 27.11.2010.
  • Senate Select: Fuel and Energy from 26.6.2008 to 30.8.2010; Scrutiny of New Taxes from 30.9.2010 to 1.11.2011; Electricity Prices from 10.9.2012 to 3.10.2012; Electricity Prices from 4.10.2012 to 1.11.2012.
  • Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing: Finance and Public Administration from 20.6.2007 to 10.9.2007; Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade from 17.8.2007 to 16.10.2008; Education, Employment and Workplace Relations: References from 2.2.2010 to 24.11.2010.
  • Joint Statutory: Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings from 11.3.2008 to 25.9.2008; Corporations and Financial Services from 25.10.2010 to 5.8.2013.
  • Joint Standing: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade from 14.2.2008 to 23.9.2008; Treaties from 14.2.2008 to 11.3.2008.

Parliamentary party positions

  • Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration from 22.9.2008 to 8.12.2009.
  • Shadow Minister for Employment Participation, Apprenticeships and Training from 8.12.2009 to 14.9.2010.
  • Shadow Assistant Treasurer from 14.9.2010 to 18.9.2013.
  • Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation from 14.9.2010 to 18.9.2013.
  • Deputy Leader of Government in the Senate from 21.9.2015 to 20.12.2017.
  • Leader of the Government in the Senate from 20.12.2017 to 23.8.2018.
  • Leader of the Government in the Senate from 28.8.2018.   [6]

Identifying goals and systematically working to achieve them have been hallmarks of Cormann’s professional life. At key points in his career he has overtaken potential rivals by clever back-room networking and astute political judgment. His surprise elevation to the cabinet and finance ministry – over the former shadow finance minister and one-time Liberal Party national director Andrew Robb and his presumptive successor Arthur Sinodinos, the influential senior adviser to former prime minister John Howard – marked Cormann as an inside player par excellence. [4]

Appointed a Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration by Malcom Turbull. Cormann repaid the honour by voting for Tony Abbott in the leadership spill of 1st December 2010, effectively sacking his boss.

NUCLEAR POWER

On 3rd December 2009, Cormann took part in a public debate on Nuclear Power in the Perth Town Hall [7]
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann’s future has been a much-discussed subject in Canberra since he famously withdrew his support for Malcolm Turnbull during the failed Dutton coup of August 2018.  But in recent weeks the scuttlebutt has been particularly intense. The well-regarded senior minister has, according to every DFAT official you bump into on the street, been weighing up the merits of running for the role of secretary-general at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Belgium-born senior minister would certainly have been a solid candidate for the position currently occupied by Mexican economist Angel Gurria, who concludes his third five-year term at the end of 2021. Sources even contend Cormann had talked to Prime Minister Scott Morrison about having a tilt for the position, which is apparently open to a non-European. Morrison’s support would have likely helped with US government officials. Cormann’s strong grasp of French was also regarded as a selling point given the organisation’s headquarters are in Paris.

**********************

Respected political commentator Laurie Oakes this week (in 2016) described Cormann as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s “go-to man”.

Oakes said Cormann had developed a reputation as an effective negotiator with minor parties.

WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith, the Government Whip, said Cormann’s negotiating skills had been crucial to the coalition getting the Greens onboard to support the backpacker tax.

“In the last two weeks of Parliament, Mathias was at the epicentre of the Government’s success in securing passage of key legislation such as our industrial relations and tax reforms measures and the very tricky backpacker tax,” he said.

Cormann says he is somewhat “bemused” at being singled out as a crossbench vote whisperer.

“The reason I am bemused is because there is nothing remarkable, extraordinary or unusual about this,” he said.

“Firstly, it is always a team effort, I would have thought it is just common sense that if you need someone’s support for something you have to talk to them and treat them with courtesy and respect.

“The reason One Nation is there, the reason Derryn Hinch is there, the reason the Xenophon team is there is because a significant number of Australians voted for them, and you have to respect that.”

Mathias Cormann and One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson after the Backpacker Tax Bill vote in the Senate.
Mathias Cormann and One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson after the Backpacker Tax Bill vote in the Senate. Credit: PerthNow

Illustrating his political smarts, Cormann is complimentary of Pauline Hanson.

“One on one, I find Pauline Hanson very good to deal with,” he says.

Cormann is up for re-election in 2022. He says he has no intention of being a long-term career politician.

“I won’t be in politics in 20 years time. I can promise you that,” he says. “But I’m not about to leave, either.” [5]

5th July 2020

He announces he is going to retire by the end of this year.

I shall stop collecting and documenting his parliamentary history now and conclude with this iconic photo.

CONCLUSIONS

Born in a poor area of Belgium, which had been occupied by Nazi Germany, Matthias relied on church and state help to grow up.

He then chose to see that help as Communism and, having grown up and done the University thing, rejected the basis of his life and became a class traitor.

He continued this life when he arrived in Australia and joined the Liberal Party, eventually representing them in this Nation’s Parliament.

Now he is retiring from that place and will retire with an oversized State funded pension. He will spend the rest of his life in State supported comfort much more generous than his state supported youth.

MATTHIAS CORMANN

CLASS TRAITOR!

 

 

REFERENCES

 

[1] Wikipedia
[2] https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/thethingsmathiascormannwonttalkabout-20180308-h0x6il

[3] https://www.theage.com.au/national/cbd-melbourne-mathias-cormann-s-european-getaway-20200610-p551ed.html

[4] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/mathias-cormann-a-tale-of-two-lives-20140502-zr37g.html

[5] https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/wa/mathias-cormann-family-man-baker-negotiator-ng-8a3d53c4b3cf85de6b0072a1480c6eeb

[6] https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=HDA

[7] https://greensmps.org.au/articles/nuclear-debate

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Sid and Sod #886


BackPacking Across Europe


In early summer, a man was backpacking across Europe with his friends. They had been hiking for most of a day and eventually stopped at a stream to freshen up. They had decided to setup camp for the night and have a few drinks while they cooked some fish they had managed to catch. After several drinks, the men were fairly drunk, and one man headed into the woods to answer nature’s call. Due to his drunken state, he ended up wandering too far out and got lost. Despite his efforts and the efforts of his friends, he was separated from the group for the night. The man wandered through the forest for several days, scavenging what food and water he could.

One day, as the sun was setting, he stumbled into a clearing where a large and expansive stone building stood. The stone was covered in moss and ivy that climbed to the various peaks of the building. There were polished iron bars that formed a seven foot tall fence around the structure, and well tended flower beds were arranged in geometrically pleasing designs. Despite the apparent age of the building, it was clear that it had been well maintained over the years. The man was awestruck until he noticed another man clad in simple monk’s robes on the other side of the iron fence.

The man ran to the gates and desperately called out for help. The monk answered him and saw how ragged he was. The monk opened the gates and invited the man inside. The monk provided the man with food and water, which the man accepted graciously. Once the man had ingested his food and drank his fill of water, he explained his situation to the monk that had let him in, and asked if it would be possible for him to stay the night. The monk listened to the man’s story and told him that he was more than welcome to stay for the night and that one of the monks would escort him to town in the morning.

The monk lead the man through several prayer rooms and down several corridors to a plain room containing only a bed. The monk told the man that this was where he may sleep for the night, and the man thanked the monk profusely. The man entered the room and closed the simple wooden door, took his shoes off, and eagerly climbed into the bed. As his head hit the pillow he silently offered thanks to whatever deities may have been listening at that moment that he had a bed to sleep on and had been taken in by such kind people.

The man took a deep breath and let out all of his stress in a long exhale that eventually turned into a deep yawn. He closed his eyes and felt himself drifting to sleep when he noticed a very faint sound emanating from somewhere within the monastery. Something about the sound caught the man’s attention and he sat up in the bed to hear it better. He strained his ears for a minute or two before he got out of the bed and walked to the wooden door of his room and pressed his ear against it.

The sound was imperceptibly louder now, but the man was still unable to ascertain what the sound was. Cautiously, the man opened the door and peered into the dark corridor. He poked his head into the darkness and looked left then right and saw no one. He took a quiet step into the hallway, leaving the wooden door open behind him and listened intently once more. The sound was coming from somewhere vaguely to the man’s right, more towards what he assumed was the heart of the monastery itself.

He took careful steps down the hallway, taking extra care to avoid making noise. The monastery was dark and the man was unfamiliar with the layout, which slowed his progress all the more. He crept in the direction of the sound until he came to an intersection. The man’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness, but due to the fact that there was no electricity in the monastery and all of the torches had been snuffed out already, the man’s sight was limited to a few yards at best.

The man stood at the intersection and trained his ears on the sound once more. He couldn’t be certain which direction the sound was coming from at this point. Figuring it would be better to keep moving than risk standing still and be discovered sneaking around at night, he chose to go to his left. The hallway he followed was of plain cobblestone punctuated every fifteen feet by a torch sconce, only a handful of which actually contained any torches. He passed by several doors very similar to the one to his own room, which he assumed lead to similar bedchambers that were likely occupied by the other members of the monastery.

The man felt uneasy sneaking around this unfamiliar place after he had been so kindly taken in. He felt that he was betraying the trust of the monks that so graciously allowed him to rest here. However, the strange spell that the sound had cast upon the man seemed to be unbreakable, and the man’s curiosity compelled him to seek it out. The sound was ever so slightly louder now, and the man thought he could hear sounds within the sound, almost as if the sound were perhaps coming from two sources.

The man’s pace had quickened a bit as he drew nearer to where he believed the source (or sources) of the sound to be. Some of his trepidation had been replaced by a growing need to identify the sound, which lead to him carelessly slapping his bare feet against the stone as he plodded along.

In the distance behind him, he heard the creak of a door opening and his heart jumped into his throat. He moved quickly down the corridor he was in and noticed an archway which led to an open room. He stepped through it and pressed himself against the wall on the other side, hoping it would be enough to hide him from whomever had awoken. He heard the sound of footsteps drawing nearer and was certain that the hammering of his heart in his chest would give him away. The footsteps grew louder as the person approached, and the man held his breath as the footsteps began to grow quieter once more as their owner walked further down the corridor.

The man let out a silent sigh of relief once the footsteps had faded away entirely, and he began his mission to find the sound once more, making doubly sure to be quiet on his way despite his growing excitement. The man pressed on for another couple of minutes and finally arrived at a dead end corridor with a thick, wooden door inset into stone at the end. The sound was coming from behind this door, the man was sure of it.

The man moved closer to the door and examined it. It was different from the simple wooden doors that served to section off the bedchambers he had passed on the way here. The door was made from what appeared to be solid oak, and had been stained and lacquered a deep shade of brown. There were iron bands across the top and bottom of the door with large nails firmly holding the bands to the wood. The handle was a polished iron ring that had an oddly shaped keyhole underneath it. The door was inset into the stone by several inches, and the man couldn’t tell how exactly it had been anchored in place. There were no hinges visible, but due to marks on the floor the man was certain the door was able to be opened.

The man reached out and grasped the handle of the door and gently pulled. The door remained closed. The man tugged slightly harder and realized that the door was locked. He pressed his ear against the door and could hear the sound more clearly. It had notes of a mechanical whirring, but something about it sounded as though it was organic in nature, like some kind of exotic creature. The longer the man listened the more complex and beautiful the sound seemed to become, almost as if whatever was producing the sound was aware that it had an audience. The man was frustrated, but decided it would be best to return to his room before he was discovered.

The man made the short journey back to his room as quietly as he could and fortunately was not spotted on his way back. He closed the door to his bedchamber and slipped back into bed, his mind still wondering what could have made such a lovely sound. As he drifted to sleep he had vivid and unusual dreams about all sorts of fantastic beasts and machinations coming together to produce the sound that had so thoroughly captured his interest.

The next morning, as the sun slowly crested over hilly peaks outside the monastery, and the first rays came flooding into the man’s room he opened his eyes. He hadn’t remembered falling asleep, but the sound was no longer there. As he got out of bed and put his shoes back on he wondered if he had perhaps dreamed the entire ordeal. He left his room and ventured down the corridors, through the prayer rooms, and back into the main area that one of the monks had lead him into last night for food.

The man entered the room and noticed that the same monk that greeted him last night was already in the room enjoying a small bowl of fresh fruit. The monk motioned for the man to join him and indicated a second bowl of fruit. The man walked over to the table and sat down. He thanked the monk again for his kindness and ate the food that was prepared for him. The meal was eaten in silence, and when both men were finished with their food the monk told the man he was ready to take him into town now, but it would be a bit of a hike. The man said it would be no problem and that he was ready to leave when the monk was.

The monk and the man set out in the early hours of the morning, the crisp air carrying the floral scents of the various flowers planted around the area. The monk lead the man out of the clearing and into the woods along a slightly worn path. The two walked together for several miles with only the occasional bout of small talk to break the soft sounds of nature. As the two drew closer to their destination, the man finally decided that he needed to ask about the sound he heard last night, if anything just to make sure it hadn’t been a dream.

When the man asked the monk about the strange sound coming from deep within the monastery, the monk smiled knowingly and asked the man if he had tried to seek it out. The man, ashamed of himself, admitted the truth that he had attempted to find the source of the noise last night, but came across the locked wooden door in the dead end and gave up. The monk chuckled slightly and only told the man that he couldn’t say anything about the sound as the man was not a fellow monk. The man was visibly disappointed, but decided to drop the issue to avoid angering his guide.

The rest of the journey was walked in silence, and eventually the two men reached a small town. The man thanked the monk profusely once more, and the two parted ways. As luck would have it, the man’s friends had ended up coming to the same town in order to get help in locating their missing friend. The group went to a tavern and the man told them his story of wandering through the woods and finding the monastery. The friends told the man about how they had searched for him before coming to the town to enlist the aid of the local police, only to find that the town was a small farming collective and that there wasn’t any official police force in the area, so they continued searching the nearby wilderness for the next couple of days.

The group of friends drank to their good luck and stayed an additional night in the town before continuing their backpacking trip in the morning. The group was much more careful about where they set up their camps and made sure to stick together and not let themselves get too full of beer and whiskey while in the wilderness. The journey lasted two more weeks before the group flew back home to the United States of America. The friends shared their photos and parted ways, returning back to their normal day to day lives.

The man went back home to Chicago and spent the rest of his vacation time unpacking and lounging about his empty apartment. He resumed his office job the following Monday and his life went back to the normal routine of day in and day out. He continued his mind-numbing routine for several more years, occasionally having odd dreams about the sound he had once heard.

The man went to work one day several years after his backpacking trip across Europe and while he was sitting in a meeting regarding expense reports for the quarter, he realized just how unhappy he was. His work was meaningless to him and he had no family waiting at home. He didn’t even have a pet. He put in his notice that same day and went back to his apartment and packed up his few belongings. He got out of his lease, put most of his belongings into long-term storage, and then booked a flight back to Europe.

Once in Europe, the man began his trek following the same route that him and his buddies had taken years ago. He passed through many of the same towns and areas, and camped out several times for the nostalgia of it all. Finally, the man had made it to the town that the monk had lead him to back then. The man asked the locals if they were aware of a nearby monastery, and fortunately several of the locals knew of the area the man described. The locals pointed the man in the right direction and he set off to find the monastery once more.

After multiple hours of hiking through the wilderness in the vague direction he had been pointed, he finally saw more familiar surroundings and walked into the same clearing where the monastery was. He looked upon the building and a smile grew across his face. He walked up to the iron gates and called out for someone. After a couple of seconds, the monastery door opened and out walked the same monk that had taken the man in.

The two men recognized each other and the monk once again invited the man inside. The man told the monk his story of how he realized that his life in America had been unfulfilling and how he desperately needed a change. The man told the monk that he also wanted to become a monk. The monk asked the man if he was serious. When the man indicated that he was very serious about it, the monk explained to him that the life of a monk was not one of glamour or material goods. It was a simple life filled with bare necessities and hard work. The man still insisted that he wanted to become a monk, and the monk said he would have to consult the elders for a decision.

The man waited eagerly as the monk disappeared into the inner sanctum of the monastery and hoped that he would be allowed to become a monk as well. As he waited, his mind began to drift back to the memories he had of this place. The night that he stayed floated back into the focus of his mind’s eye and the sound came along with it. Before the man was able to delve too deeply into his memories, the monk returned followed by a much older looking man.

The older man asked the man about his desires to become a monk and the man repeated his story of how his life in America has lost all meaning to him. The older man listened patiently, asking a couple of questions here and there, but eventually decided to accept the man into the monastery as a member of the order. The man was overjoyed and thanked the older man.

The monk that let the man in then took him to his new permanent room, which just so happened to be the room that he stayed in years ago. The monk provided the man with his own set of monk’s robes and began to fill him in on what his duties at the monastery would be. The man was told that he would have to help tend the gardens as that’s how the monks get their food. He was told he would have to help with the cleaning and cooking and that everyone within the monastery was to work for the common good of all of the members. The man listened intently and memorized his duties.

The man was instructed in many arts and disciplines for his duties, and over the course of a year he was taught the basics of farming, cooking, sewing, weaving, and more so he could be a contributing member to the good of the entire order. The man had fully dedicated himself to his new life as a monk and to his duties. He wasn’t entirely certain about the religious side of things, but was indeed finding a spirituality blossoming within him as he continued on in his duties. Every night though, he would hear that same hauntingly beautiful sound faintly reverberating down the corridors to his room, as if it were calling out to him. The man put aside his curiosity to focus upon his duties, and was soon able to set aside his curiosity.

On the eve of his first full year at the monastery, a very modest celebration was held and the monks that lived within the monastery gathered together to congratulate the man on all of his hard work over the past year. The monks produced a bottle of wine that they had bottled decades ago and the usual supper had a bit more flair to it for this particular night. The man was overjoyed that he was so accepted into this new family of his and elated that his days seemed to have purpose. The celebration lasted several hours and was closed when one of the elder monks pulled the man aside for a conversation.

The elder monk told the man that he was proud of his efforts and that his dedication to his new life was quite apparent. The elder stretched his arm out and opened his palm, revealing a key. The key was fairly simplistic. It was made of iron and measured about 6 inches in length. The teeth of the key were unusual though, and were arranged diagonally in 3D space instead of inline along the same plane like most keys. The man took the key from the elder with a look of confusion. The elder smiled and said that the man was now one of them, and every monk of this monastery possessed a key just like that one. The man thanked the elder and then turned the key over in his hands several times before placing it into his robe pocket.

The festivities died down and most of the monks went to bed to get an early start for the next morning. The man was still fairly awake from his excitement and decided to look over the monastery and reminisce about his time spent here. He walked down the various corridors and ran his fingers along the cool stone as he did so. He visited the prayer rooms and the kitchen and even went outside. He eventually came to the dead end with the locked wooden door once more, with the same beautiful sound emanating forth.

In a surge, the man’s curiosity and desire to know the source of the sound came back to the forefront of his mind. He reached a hand into his robe pocket and produced the iron key. He looked it over and proceeded to the door. He examined the oddly shaped keyhole and realized that his key just might open this door. He twisted the key this way and that until he lined it up and inserted it. He turned the key and heard a deadbolt slide open within the door. The man took a deep breath and grabbed the handle of the door. He pulled gingerly upon it, and the door slid open easily.

Behind the wooden door was another door, but this one made from stone. There were carvings upon the stone depicting a myriad of flowers and other plants from centuries ago and a small stream that meandered to and fro across the door itself. The carvings were skillfully made and the details were still quite crisp despite the fact that this door was obviously over a century old itself. There was handle made of silver on the right side of the door, and beneath it was another oddly shaped keyhole. The man examined the keyhole and his key and saw that the two were not compatible.

The man felt incredibly letdown. He was very disappointed to have gotten this close to finally knowing what produced the sound only to have his hopes dashed by this second door. The man gathered himself and remembered parts of his training and time at the monastery and was content enough to simply let it be. The man closed the wooden door and locked it once more before turning around to head back to his room.

Along the way to his room, the man ran into the elder monk that had given him the key once more and stopped to ask him about the stone door. The elder smiled and told him that while he was one of the monks now, there are some secrets that must still be kept, and that he can’t tell him anymore about the doors and the sound because he isn’t an elder. The man thanks the elder for the explanation and resumes making his way to his room. The man climbs into bed and falls asleep nearly instantly.

The man continued in his dedicated fashion to his duties at the monastery. The days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, and the months to years. The man’s face was beginning to show signs of his aging; wrinkles were becoming more pronounced and the color was beginning to fade from his hair. He had been with the monastery for nearly fifteen years at this point, and had seen the men around him also grow older as time continued passing them by. He saw new faces come in to the monastery and had helped instruct them as he himself had once been instructed. He saw older members pass on and helped bury them within their sacred land. The man reflected on his life and was still content with all that he had done since leaving his old life behind.

One night, the man was reorganizing old scrolls within the library when he was approached by one of the remaining elders. He greeted the elder and the elder asked him to walk with him, to which the man agreed. The two of them walked out into one of the gardens, the moon hanging full in the starry sky. The elder informed the man that his time and dedication to the order were impressive, and that his efforts had not gone unnoticed. The elder told the man that he would from now on be considered an elder among the order and bestowed upon him an ornate silver key. The key was emblazoned with the mark of the order and had been recently polished. The teeth of the key were unusual in much the same way as the iron key he had been given fourteen years ago.

The man thanked the elder and wished him a good night. The two parted ways and the man knew what he had to do. He walked along the corridors and made his way to the dead end with the wooden door once more. The sound was once again beckoning the man to come closer. He inserted his iron key into the wooden door and opened it up. He looked over the stone door once more and carefully inserted his silver key into the keyhole. He twisted the key and heard something within the door click loudly. He pulled on the handle of the stone door and it opened effortlessly even though it was very heavy.

The man was met by yet another door. This door was made of pure gold and had depictions of creatures so expertly carved that the man nearly mistook them for still breathing beasts. The creatures themselves were like nothing the man had ever seen before, and something about them carried a strange air of times long since forgotten. The door had no handle, and only a small recess where something appeared to have once been set. The sound behind the door was louder than the man had ever heard it before, and he was determined that he must know what’s beyond this door.

The man closed the stone and wooden doors, retrieving his keys once more, and proceeded to bed. In the morning, he found the elder that gifted him the key and asked him about the golden door. The elder smiled and stated that he had no idea what was behind the golden door. He told the man that the only person to know how to open the golden door is the master of the order itself, and that that master has never mentioned anything about that door to anyone. The man was amazed by this, and accepted the answer he was given.

The man’s time at the monastery seemed to blink by faster and faster with each passing day as time slowly ravaged his once youthful body, leaving him more and more withered. The man became a very respected elder within the order, and many of the younger monks came to him for advice and for lessons. The man also lost many more friends as time went on. The man had been with the monastery for another twenty years and was very clearly an old man at this point.

The elder that had given the man his silver key had become the master of the order some seven or eight years back, and was now a frail old man that was confined to bedrest. The man often visited the master and tended to his needs as he approached death. The two shared many nights of fond reminiscing and in depth discussions about the master’s wishes for the monastery after his passing. During one such conversation, the master told the man that he would be the next master of the monastery, and that the master was certain he’d lead it well.

Several weeks after that conversation, the master had passed away. He went quietly and peacefully in his sleep and was found with a soft smile still upon his lips. The man organized the funeral service and the old master was buried in a special section of the sacred land. The man remained at the grave for several hours after the service had concluded, having one-sided discussions with his late friend. At some point, the elders came to the man at the grave-site and reminded him of the late master’s wishes that he become the new master. The man composed himself and thanked them for coming to get him.

The man returned to the interior of the monastery and went to the master’s chamber… his chamber now he supposed. He sat upon a chair and let his grief slowly wash over him. Losing a friend is never easy, even when you know they are at peace, and despite the man’s decades of mental training, he still lost himself to his emotions and ended up crying softly at the loss of his friend.

Once the man regained control of himself he realized he was tired. He made his way to the bed and threw the covers back to crawl in when something glimmered underneath his pillow. He lifted the pillow and saw an ornate sphere made of glass with masterful carvings and spirals of colors arranged in impossible patterns and angles within. The man turned the sphere over in his hands several times trying to determine what it could be when it hit him all at once that this must be the key to the golden door.

The man quickly pulled himself together and made his way to the dead end with the wooden door and sound that had haunted him for the majority of his life. He inserted his iron key into the wooden door and almost threw it open in his desperation. He slid the silver key effortlessly into the stone door’s lock and opened it as well. When he saw the golden door once more, he took a deep breath and let the moment wash over him. He carefully placed the glass sphere into the recess of the door, and a strange whirring and clicking could be heard. The golden door slowly shifted itself to the left, into the wall in which it was set, and the passageway was open.

The man peered into the darkness of the hallway and heard the sound in full force for the first time in his life, and was moved to tears at the beauty of it. The man stepped inside and torches along the walls of the corridor lit themselves. The light revealed a magnificent carved marble corridor that lead into some kind of larger room. The marbled was carved with more of the strange and forgotten beasts that adorned the golden door, and the way the flames flickered made the carvings appear to be moving as if the creatures were still alive. The man marveled at the beauty before him and proceeded down the hallway.

At the end of the hallway, there was a large, circular room with a rounded ceiling that rose nearly fifteen feet high. The room was built with perfect acoustics, and the sound was definitely coming from this room. The man was awestruck by the perfection he had discovered and was walking through, and that’s when his eyes drifted to the center of the room. An altar of polished quartz sat in the center of the room, and atop it was the source of the sound that had beckoned the man for so many years, and when he laid his eyes upon it, his view of reality was left fundamentally altered forever.

But I can’t tell you what it is because you’re not a monk.

Whoever Fights Monsters (a repeat)


I posted this in July 2013. Since then Australia has seen the cases of David McBride, Bernard Collereay, Bernard Collaery and WitnessK, Witness J along with others which have probably escaped any reference in the media. It seems reasonable to think about this erosion of the basics of the Magna Carta now in 2020.

 

Whoever fights monsters

The USA has fought many monsters in its short history as a Nation.

Religious persecution, a battle which continues to this day. The British Monarchy which was a successful battle. Slavery where they had to fight themselves with mixed results. Spain and Mexico in successful American Imperialism. German Imperialism which was not quite so successful so they had to do it twice. Russian Communism which eventually worked after unleashing many potential horrors upon an undeserving world.

should see to it that in the process

The Founding Fathers of the USA set up an apparently fool-proof process so that the citizenry could see what was happening within a tripartite form of Government.

An elected President limited to two terms. An elected Congress subject to the will of an informed electorate. An appointed Supreme Court where the best minds in the country could rule, in Law, on the decisions of the first two branches.

All open and visible to the public.

Successfully fighting against the casual cruelties of Nazism and the secret arms of Eastern Europe’s tyrannical Governments.

he does not become a monster.

Yet somewhere along the way the USA lost its integrity.

The cruelty of mid-Century Germany was mirrored in the drug experiments by the CIA in the 50’s and 60’s.

The secrecy of the KGB became the norm in the CIA and the Gulags of Russia have found an echo in the creation of the Guantanamo Bay prison.

The stop and search and constant inspection of its and other Nation’s citizens, the intrusion of the NSA into every corner of the cyber-world and the use of drones to remotely kill people are all symptoms of the USA having tipped over the edge into becoming one the monsters it was trying to eradicate.

And if you gaze long enough into an abyss,

After looking into the Abyss created by megalomaniac rulers throughout the world; After counteracting the terror unleashed upon the world by those with extreme religious and secular ambitions; After close association with the worst the world can produce, the USA has become infected with the evil virus it has spent so long trying to eradicate.

Consider this new step in the sickness and hubris of the secret American State.

In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data . . . . . the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.

So now there are secret laws, secret courts and secret committees and people making the rules Americans have to live by.

the abyss will gaze back into you. Friedrich Nietzsche

st judeThe one lesson we, as a species, have learned is that bureaucracies outlive people.

They outlive nations.

The new American intelligence bureaucracy has an un-elected leader.

One whose name we will never learn.

In the coming struggle between America and China and between America and its people, there will be many casualties.

Not the least of which will be truth and freedom.

As well as those brave people who try to lift the lid on this new terror organisation.

Daniel Ells­berg, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Thomas Drake and Edward Snowdon are just the tip of the iceberg. There will be many more who who will try to save the ideals of honesty, openness and accountability and who will pay the price.

Yet the Abyss will almost certainly win. And the contagion which now infects America will spread, in epidemic form, to all of America’s allies.

St Jude, Pray for us indeed!

Thoughts Caused By Imminent Extinction.


A vague 3am thought which has been bugging me.

With the combined efforts of a changing climate, evolving virii and bacteria, increasingly possible nuclear war and the poisoning of our environment for short-term benefits and shorter term bottom lines, extinction of the human species is, at least, a possibility. Oh, and never forget the chance of a stray asteroid impacting on our planet.

At the same time our ever-present human curiosity continues to look for life beyond this planet. There are growing signs that there may well be extra-terrestrial life and proof is being actively sought.

Since homo sapiens first thought of the possibility of life on other planets there has been an assumption that it will be intelligent life. Possibly friendly, possibly hostile.

But intelligent. Evolved from single cells into intelligent beings.

Yet must this be so?

We, as a species, have evolved from earlier species which have not developed intelligence to the level of creating science. Evolution has created many lines of specieal existence, yet only one with ‘human’ intelligence. An attribute which seems to be counter-productive to all other living beings.

Should our intelligent species become extinct, is there any guarantee that another species, of whatever lineage, would develop the intelligence to continue the progress of earthly life to the stars?

There is a distinct possibility that star-gazing, star-reaching intelligence may be a one off, not only on this planet, but also on all planets throughout the Universe.

 

 

WOOF


There once was a woman with 100 children ..

She named each of them after numbers in the order they were born. First one One, second Two, ..and so on ..you get the idea.

She had her own church in the village. You ask why? Well how else would 101 people attend Sunday church service together? Not a church in any village nearby was big enough. So they had their own church with their own Priest and nuns and everything. Raised very religiously, all the children were true to the Lord, except for Ninety. Ninety did not believe in God, and the family had begun to live with it, hard as it was.

On one such bright and sunny Sunday, everyone set out to Church. Everyone but Ninety. The service began and everyone was humming and praying, until suddenly smoke emerged from under all the benches. It was the most smoke everyone ever saw, and soon the fire began to engulf the entire church. It was the worst fire the village ever saw, and sadly no one in the church made it out alive.

Ninety was now all by herself in this world, but she stayed determined to live her life fully. Those dark events make Ninety start believing in God. Ninety went off to get married and have children of her own. They were very kind and loving. One day they found an injured dog. They took it home and nursed it back to health. They hid the dog and never told their mother; afraid she would kick the dog out. In fact they never told anyone. To keep from arousing any suspicions they named the dog “This” so the name could be used in conversation. One day This ran away. They never saw This again. No one else knew about This. No one even knew a dog named This existed.

Only Ninety’s kids will remember This.

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Winter Solstice