Archive for the 'culture wars' Category

12-6-3

12-6-3 = Innocent

There’s a kids book called ‘Where’s Wally’ and he’s always there right on the page dressed in red and white stripes but you have to look hard to find him. Choir singers are dressed in red and white too. So where are the Wallies in our story? They can’t be in the sacristy nor at the doorway. Nor standing around in the corridor. Where are they? That’s the problem right there. There is nowhere for them to be that can position them to later get them into the sacristy for the second 6 minutes and I will explain why below.

When we review what’s been said in the comments and some of mine are article length over the 5 Pell related posts – 5/ Andrews; 4/ The Stunt!; 3/ Pell out May!; 2/ Pell 2; 1/ Pell verdict – manifestly unsafe.; it’s apparent that Steve has literally dragged himself to understand that the whole Pell case rested on a maximum 5-6 minute total window of potential opportunity as the END 5-6 of the first 12 minute ‘after’ mass period. It could not happen by definition in the first 6 minutes after as people were either on route or it (the Sacristy) was occupied by the others who got there first.

Over these several months (and only after a chimp like struggle with the numbers) Steve has dragged his brain past the first 6 minutes to arrive at a full understanding that the external procession concluded in the sacristy with men putting away stuff they were carrying! ‘The altar servers included the crucifer carrying the cross at the head of the procession, the censer bearer with incense, and other acolytes assisting the service.’ ‘The crucifer left the cross on display in the priests’ sacristy and protocol demanded those who followed him bow to it before starting their duties in the room.’ and beyond!

For Steve, men in vestments are now in the room bowing to that cross and putting away their stuff and chatting etc., and red dress, white top wearing choir boys are not there YET, nor are they standing at the door ready to go in when the room becomes empty! Steve is not prepared to say where those 2 highly visible truant boys are but he fully accepts they are NOT in the ‘priest’s sacristy’ at the end of the first 6 minutes!

The altar servers ‘would then assist the sacristan [to] remove other liturgical objects from the cathedral sanctuary to the sacristy, clean them, and store them properly there. The objects included the wine chalice and cruets, bread patens, altar cloths, water jugs and flowers.’ And they would do so in some sort of order and priority and with some sort of hierarchy with the sacristan as the main man supervising. To make sure ‘the hive of activity’ of the sacristy functions properly is a big part of his job. People are always requiring his instruction and guidance on what’s to be done. This is for him all a very well rehearsed ‘theatrical production’ that has, I will now TOTALLY speculate, been going on essentially unchanged for decades. My guess will eventually be given substance or refuted when the Catholics involved start publicly speaking up next month. But modified activities or not, the work space has to end up totally clear and ready for the next mass when the sacristan locks up and goes for his Sunday lunch that he is wanting to do asap.

As a rule people don’t make extra work for themselves and that’s most clearly seen in routine procedures. After mass, our sacristan -Potter- was a busy man; first unlocking the door for the returning procession and (say) putting the lectionary where it belongs. He’s not going to make a trip to the sacristy without carrying something. That’s a simple work process. This man wants to get to his lunch just like the rest of us. A cathedral sacristan is sort of a ‘boss of the altar servers’. https://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Sacristan

The sacristan might be the first to turn on his heel and go get something else from the sanctuary but he also may very well not be the first or even one of the altar servers to return to the sanctuary at all. He might leave that for the juniors and stay where he is directing the ‘hive’. The first one to leave to get the rest of the ‘sacred’ stuff could well be the crucifer. He could just turn on his heel and go get the wine chalice and cruets if he did so then 3 minutes later he could be back and cleaning them!

The words ‘might’ and ‘could’ etc., are all very carefully chosen as they are only speculative because we don’t know who left first, all we know is someone did. To even begin to believe the J story we are compelled to empty the room! Not one person can be left inside! We then have to deal with that people traffic in the corridor to let 2 out of bounds boys back against the flow through to the sacristy and all the while time ticks away.

Only 1 man remaining or promptly returning with his sacred object to clean and put away would destroy J’s story. Having split the remaining theoretical 6 minutes and reduced the time to 3 nothing could be left to work with as a ‘crime’ can’t happen without opportunity.

So even though they ALL came IN and put away their burdens they don’t all turn on their heels like grenadier guards and all piss off back to the sanctuary. For the story to be true they had to do so BUT still reality dictates that the whole gang of about 12 of them are now going down the common corridor.

plan plan

No boys could come back the other way as the scandalous prosecutors know. The egress of one set prevents the ingress of the other. The speed that they theoretically ALL leave the room is of little importance because it does not alter the problem of where they are going through for going to. The ‘where is wally’ problem remains for the corridor and it’s one of the fatal problems for J’s story.

These dozen men can’t all have decided to do nothing and go and divest in the utility room. That was how the ‘stunt’ achieved this miracle, or sought to, but the prosecutor failed and had to retract that fabrication because it was entirely unsupported by any evidence. Only some of these men have some very small but routine tasks to get on with, as do some other people coming the other way. People in the cathedral have some money to hand on to the sacristan for placing in the vault in the north east corner of the sacristy. They are on their way! But where are the con-celebrant priests in all this -for them- pointless movement? They are in reality back in that sacristy divesting and they do so in a ritualistic manner. They are older men taking their time and chatting quietly and perhaps waiting around to have a word with their Archbishop when he gets there with his MC Portelli a man who is tasked with staying with the Archbishop.

I’ve been an atheist for a very long time and have a general loathing for any church activity so I avoid nearly all of them. But how these men have disappeared is beyond any reasonable understanding because they are in no way needed for getting a few things from the altar and it is not the practice for the priests to attend to these very menial tasks. In a normal church the priest having ended the mass would have left the ‘stage’ and be in the sacristy ready to divest but also dealing with the sacred stuff that the altar servers would get from the altar as instructed. Often in my childhood at a parish church, one of the older nuns would fill the role of sacristan as I recall. Fine linen altar cloths were taken to be cleaned and ironed etc.. That’s about the best I can remember from the late 1960s. My point is that once a mass is over the clean up time is short and people want to get away asap. Just the size of the St Patrick’s priest’s sacristy and a dozen men milling about within indicates what the problem is. Priest’s have more ‘kit’ to get off and put away.

The altar servers only have a cassock and top and they have their small items to get from the sanctuary, they may as well turn on their heel and go get them. These servers eventually when the jobs are done get dismissed by the sacristan and go to the utility room to divest. There is no need for them in the utility room till then except if they have some flowers to take from the sanctuary. There is no room for them in the crowded sacristy where Potter, the priests and others have business as does the archbishop and his ‘shadow’ Portelli, because of the art works being restored leaving him no room of his own during that time. These were temporary arrangements so the now common space was a little crowded. But like any theater event this off stage room was a place to discuss the performance and to talk of all manner of work issues.

All that Steve is clear on is that offending by the fully robed, yet out of place and context offender is to unfold in the next 6 minutes if it’s to happen at all. Yet there are no clear 6 minutes! The priest sacristy is well known to be a ‘hive of activity’ at this precise time when the procession has returned. The entire catholic clergy, laity and community that is closely associated with the Cathedral has always understood this. That is why absolutely nobody that is connected to St Patrick’s Cathedral is having a bar of this! They are ALL silent for fear of somehow harming Pell’s legal matters and they are following ‘legal’ advice and ‘orders’ and remaining mute and dignified. But I say they are just waiting to tell the world -when Pell is free- what’s the reality of what they do in that sacristy. No clear time exists for such an idiot assault so J either hallucinated or made it up. Either way it never happened simply because it couldn’t happen.

Frankly this explanation of workplace practices must be fully told or the anti-catholic fruitcakes and pseudo-lefts will have their way and Pell and the Catholics will have doubt still hang over their heads. When the dozen or so men involved get their story out, there will be no doubt in the mind of fair observers that J is not a victim. Pell is the victim in this case.

Steve says it’s virtually impossible for us humble researchers to know 23 odd years later what the next 6 minutes brought forth. But that’s not true. Deduction works. It just seems like we can’t know perhaps because a ‘reconstruction’ is not yet on film! People are wise after the event. Why wasn’t that done?

On the one story catholic clergy business as usual, on the other 2 boys are raped and get back to singing! The later story seems to be -for the baying mob- to be catholic clergy business as usual anyway! 2 boys found swilling wine; a few possible uninterrupted minutes in an open door room ‘may’ be available; several other men are supposed to be like Pell himself coming into the room to do the well known hive of activity work and divest within, and YET away we go if you’re George Pell! Bullshit heaped on bullshit heaped on yet more bullshit. Nevertheless Pell, is in Jail so our legal system is in la la land and consequently Australians need a credible inquiry to look into this. It’s more than a legal error and more than a scandal.

Steve is not like the Broken Rites gang because he wants Pell released by the coming High Court decision but just not totally exonerated. The Broken Rites mob want Pell left right where he is, and that is locked up in a jail. They can’t be persuaded by Steve that this is an unsafe verdict. Steve still thinks it IS a possible crime but the case just not beyond a reasonable doubt. I have dragged him that far and no further. The verdict is in Steve’s view after many months of guided thinking now for him ‘manifestly unsafe’, the title of my first post.

Readers are invited to review that post to note how far I have now dragged myself as well as Steve.

But less than a month from the scheduled High Court hearing and for Steve, Pell and his church ought then be happy to just live with a public doubt because the case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. According to Steve, that is the best that can be done for ‘big George’ Pell, who has, Steve is quite keen to tell us, other child sexual abuse issues to deal with anyway; so let’s not forget that!

Well Steve will get his wish. The High Court will only acquit Pell and that will do Steve just fine. That outcome is a great consolation prize for Viv Waller and the Broken Rites cabal. They don’t want any further wind back in this case! But they can’t stop us atheist democrats and the Catholics fighting back still further and consequently revealing what actually goes on in the next 6 minutes usually at least.

The Catholic silence will end when Pell is released. Then people will have their say and it will be filmed as well. The procession is the key to the case. Where are the wallies?

SANO and Waller etc., have managed to get a ridiculous conviction from presenting a fantasy world which will, after Pell is released be right out in public view to be compared to what actually happens and why it happens. The ‘mystery’ of the priests’ sacristy and the actual work of the sacristan and his altar server helpers plus the role of all the others in the procession will be revealed. The shameless of course just won’t care. They can be shown up or be ignored but they can’t be shamed for behaving like an hysterical lynch mob. Shame will only be felt by all who have just honestly failed to think this case through. Only the fundamentally honest can be shamed!

Whatever were a huge string of people thinking to have let this nonsensical imagined collection of disjointed near impossibilities from a disturbed mind end up in a trial and finish in a conviction and a lost appeal? How did this rot end in a last ditch chance? The whim of the High Court choosing to take this case is on display and the answer for many is that ‘he was rich and powerful’ what do you expect? Well that’s just not so; this case is right up there with Lindy Chamberlain as an utter travesty and so for all our sake’s George Pell must be acquitted.

In the real world 6 minutes is NOT what we are stuck with for our 2 alternatives. First we have to get those men back out of that room then we have to get 2 boys in there and all the while the seconds tick by and 1 minute is gone from the end in the rush to get back to the choir rehearsal room! How quick can men be got out and boys in? Not to worry how quick can the 1st of the acolytes get back? About 3 minutes! Out and back with a missal or a chalice. Right in the middle of the assault! That destroys the whole case.

Just recall the main aspects of this incredible case. J was a 13yr old boy soprano all those years ago and with George Pell all over the media about child abuse issues for years, J says as a 32yr old that (has had mental issues to deal with) that he and R, another soprano now dead, once left the front section of the procession when it had arrived at the rear gate. He says they made their way past dozens of adults and other boys unnoticed and 2 decades later un-recalled by the others. They made their way around and back into the Cathedral to eventually, because of a physical traffic jam -and after hiding and waiting somewhere unexplained- enter the priest’s sacristy. There they engaged in a spot of poking about. 2 unnoticed, red-dress-wearing, utterly out of place and context sopranos – when they are supposed to be at 1 of 2 possible after mass Christmas season choir practice sessions. Looking in cupboards they found wine and quickly started swilling it from the bottle. Then they were suddenly discovered by the arch demon himself, who asked what they were doing; told them off and then set upon them in an astounding manner for a man who knows this room is about to become a hive of activity. When all the vile acts were over J and the other abused singer R retraced their miscreant steps. They took the long way round. They got through what was a normally locked gate and then a normally locked rear door and there is just no explanation for not choosing the simpler alternative route either.

Though now 10 minutes late for rehearsal they entered the rehearsal room. No other member of the Choir boy or man noticed the 2 late tear-stained, recently traumatised 13yr olds entering the practice room. They were not missed -their 2 empty spots in the choir unnoticed- not just their late entry and lastly they obviously sung like larks as usual because no one recalled any bad singing! That is the madness that our legal system has reduced to! I have no doubt at all that other men were occupying that room. Priests, returning altar servers perhaps even money collectors. And let us not forget a sacristan in normal control of his sacristy. We know one version is reality the other a ‘lie’ i.e., a false memory at best.

These 2 boys were exceptional in several respects; in being keen to go back into the Cathedral where they had only just been bored 13yr olds, at mass 5 minutes ago at the start of their procession. These highly visible out of place and context boys HAVE somehow to know they can’t be there in the sacristy just then and then they also have to know when they CAN go in. But how do they know it’s empty? Steve has conceded that others are already there and about to walk out on cue. But now that we have the boys back inside the Cathedral at the 6 minute mark we have to also place them within entering distance of the priests sacristy YET they must not be visible to those walking out of it or the game would be up. Somehow they must see but not be seen as all those inside make their way out! That is about a dozen men; 6 in front and 6 in the rear of the procession. If there were only 4 in each tranche that would still be 8 men that have to come back out after putting stuff away. A High Mass with as few as 8? That would be a notable event. Then there are the side issues such as when would the money turn up for the safe? What is the sacristan’s role in opening the safe and putting in the money? What were the money movers waiting for? We can follow the money as well. Every Sunday the plate gets passed around and nobody is compelled to put in anything but quite a few do as I recall from ½ a century ago. Perhaps the money people go off to the utility room for a counting house. I don’t know but the involved Catholics can tell us! What of the staff that are going back to the Knox building after Sunday Mass; they pass down that single corridor as well!

Only 1 adult has to block entry to that sacristy. Only 1 of these obviously somewhere about the place people have to actually be where they are supposed to be and the whole story becomes an obvious mad romp.

We are all left wondering what happened to the con-celebrant priests? They have disappeared or been turned into altar servers off to the sanctuary or the utility room! Why? Well we don’t know other than to get rid of a problem that it is now clear never goes away! The conclusion is Pell is innocent and an inquiry needed.

living with offence

Kindly Inquisitors: The new attacks on free thought (1993) by Jonathan Rauch

Frances Widdowson published a review (The Kindly Inquisitors), some time ago, of this book on her blog. I haven’t read the book but I like her review. These brief notes are based on her review.

In our civilised democratic society (not Iran, China, North Korea etc. where different forms of Fundamentalism are the main problem), the modern day equivalent of the Inquisition are the philosophies of Egalitarianism and Humanitarianism

ie. the principle of the Inquisition was that people with wrong or hurtful opinions ought to be punished for the good of society

Egalitarianism – the beliefs of all sincere people deserve equal respect
Humanitarianism – one must never offend

Taken separately and in particular when combined these outlooks undermine the pursuit of scientific truth by introducing a variety of mental and ideological barriers to free and open discussion. This is explained more in the review.

It is essential to learn the hard discipline of living with offence that will inevitably follow from this approach rather than fudging the quest for truth out of fear of offending others or being offended ourselves. Words might offend but as long it remains just words then we need to accept it and either argue back or move on, not try to censor it and to reject philosophies which attempt to censure open, vigorous discussion

steve jobs: capitalist entrepreneur

Steve Jobs’s range of achievements is impressive: the Apple computer, the NeXT computer, Pixar and then his return to Apple to lead development of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. eg. Tim Berners Lee spoke very highly of NeXT and used it to develop much of his world wide web technology.

Many people love his products (hi pat!) because they enabled them to make use out of computer technology that they could not achieve through the relatively clunky alternatives provided by Bill Gates and others.

I’ve been thinking about Jobs from the POV of how his talents would have played out, if at all, in another type of society, call it socialist or post-capitalist. It has been an interesting thought experiment for me. Jobs definitely did have a dark side as well as being quite talented in certain respects (and not talented in other respects). I’m interested in the question of creativity in the development of computing and in this case what type of creativity Jobs had and how that played out in our current social system.

Of course it’s trite to say that Jobs had a dark side. Everyone has a dark side. The political point is that the focused ruthlessness he directed against some others and institutions was magnified and rewarded by the capitalist system. From my reading (see references below for more detail) Jobs as a capitalist personified was worse than some of the others. Marx’s fundamental point about commodities is very relevant here. In pursuing commercial success in perfection in things Jobs treated many people badly.

It’s clear that much of what Jobs achieved was achieved by his partners. Wozniak did most of the work in developing the Apple computer. In Wozniak’s words (recent interview) it was he who worked in the famous Silicon valley garage while Jobs worked out of his bedroom, making phone calls, doing the marketing.

The same is true for the development of the WIMP interface (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers). The fundamental work here was done by teams led by Doug Engelbart and Alan Kay and made available for free for others to use. Jobs could see the potential and developed it commercially.

The truth of the matter is that the fundamental developments in both computing hardware and software were given away by the real pioneers of the computing revolution. Their motivation was that of scratching a personal itch, of immersing themselves in the exciting possibilities of a new technology and what could be achieved with it. The names of those pioneers are less well known than the names of those who converted their spirit of freedom into commercial success.

Jobs said about the Mac development:

“I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on something, but working on Macintosh was the neatest experience of my life. Almost everyone who worked on it will say that. None of us wanted to release it at the end. It was as though we knew that once it was out of our hands, it wouldn’t be ours anymore. When we finally presented it at the shareholders’ meeting, everyone in the auditorium gave it a five-minute ovation. What was incredible to me was that I could see the Mac team in the first few rows. It was as though none of us could believe we’d actually finished it. Everyone started crying.” [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985, source, my emphasis]

The words I have bolded sums up the dilemma of creative people who decide to become highly successful under capitalism. Once the interesting, creative process is completed then you have to do the hard work of promoting and selling your product in a highly competitive market. Clearly Jobs was very good at the latter.

Anyway, here are some interesting quotes and references I have discovered in my search for the real Steve Jobs:
Richard Stallman:

“Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died”
source

Eric Raymond: On Steve Jobs’s passing

Commerce is powerful, but culture is even more persistent. The lure of high profits from secrecy rent can slow down the long-term trend towards open source and user-controlled computing, but not really stop it. Jobs’s success at hypnotizing millions of people into a perverse love for the walled garden is more dangerous to freedom in the long term than Bill Gates’s efficient but brutal and unattractive corporatism. People feared and respected Microsoft, but they love and worship Apple – and that is precisely the problem, precisely the reason Jobs may in the end have done more harm than good.

The Eric Raymond article links to a very interesting NYT article titled Against Nostalgia by Mike Daisey but unfortunately it is now hidden behind their firewall.

There were some correct criticisms of Eric Raymond’s dismissive attitude to China’s sweatshops at reddit.

What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs

What can we do about Xmas?

Xmas reminds us of what life used to be like prior to the modern era. In the old days it was “Xmas” everyday in one way or another, when people’s lives were ruled by rituals and festivals, and our relatives had to be endured on a constant basis not just once a year. Social pressure was even greater then than now. There was no space for the individual. What you did and how you thought was totally prescribed.

By Xmas I mean the in-your-face stuff that fills the public space, physical and electronic. What Christians (or quasi Christians) do in the privacy of their own dining room or in church of course is their business. We will call that Christmas.

Oliver Cromwell and the Pilgrim Fathers banned Xmas. We can’t do that, but it would be helpful if some Christians were to denounce the whole thing as a pagan travesty, which it is, of course. George Washington had the right spirit when he crossed the Delaware River and launched a surprise attack on Hessian mercenaries while they were singing Stille Nacht (or doing something equally Xmasy) on December 25 1776.

An interesting way to spend Xmas. Washington crossing the Delaware

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Winning the war against Internet censorship

Below is an article by David Jackmanson (youngmarxist) which was published at OnLine Opinion last week.  If you go to the original article you can read the discussion which followed.

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History that looks forward

The Australian National Curriculum Board was set up by the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, in January this year. A ‘Proposal for Discussion’ on ‘The shape of the National Curriculum’ has been developed by the board for public discussion. There are separate discussion proposals (called ‘Initial Advice’) relating to English, Science, and History. The Advice can be checked out at the NCB’s site: http://www.ncb.org.au/verve/_resources/History_Initial_Advice_Paper.pdf I have only considered the Advice relating to History, as that is my field.

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“Academic Freedom” is a cop out by the fearful liberal-left

Academic Paul Norton has written an article at left social-democrat blog Larvatus Prodeo. It’s about the Senate’s Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee’s Inquiry into Academic Freedom, and specifically about a submission by the “Make Education Fair” campaign (pdf, over 4 1/2 Mb), which appears to be run by right-wing Young Liberals and the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation. Norton’s article is in response to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of Friday October 10th, 2008, headlined “Academics Rally Against Young Liberal Witchhunt”.

Most of what Norton says about the Make Education Fair submission seems fairly true. While some of the examples may be true (there’s rarely enough proof to clearly say that bias is as bad as they say), it’s a reactionary document, which seems to push the idea that any sort of university course that questions the status quo is illegitimate in itself. It’s also poorly argued and appears to take quotes out of context to push its point.

But pointing that out is like shooting academics in a barrel where free wine and cheese are on offer. Norton’s argument against the Make Education Fair campaign is that it is a threat to academic freedom. This appears typical, as it is repeated in this article by Katharine Gelber, an academic at the University of New South Wales, and this page at academicfreedom.com.au, set up by the NTEU (the academics’ union).

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Public criticism of academics is not an attack on academic freedom, nor is it McCarthyism

There is an online argument brewing about an attack on Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) Associate Professor Dr Anthony Burke, among others. The attack on Dr Burke was published in a Quadrant Magazine article, written by Mervyn F. Bendle. Bendle argues that Burke represents the “political Left” who have taken over academic terrorism studies, “with all the anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Israel, pro-terrorist, and postmodernist ideological gobbledygook that entails”, and appears to suggest that Dr Burke should not be employed by ADFA.

Continue reading ‘Public criticism of academics is not an attack on academic freedom, nor is it McCarthyism’