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Only a week ago, life was so different in the United Kingdom.

Political pundits were analysing Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first budget and Al Boum Photo won his second Cheltenham Gold Cup. Happy days:

That said, parts of supermarket shelves were empty for the second week running of toilet paper and pasta:

Last Friday — March 13 — Paul Waugh posted an article on BuzzFeed: ‘No, Boris Johnson Isn’t Behaving Like Donald Trump On Coronavirus’ (emphases in the original below, those in purple mine):

Central to the approach of chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance – and the entire team of advisers who sit on the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (whose acronym coincidentally suggests they are offering SAGE advice) – is the evidence that imposing drastic measures too early will simply mean inevitable ‘‘fatigue’ on the part of the public

One of the cruellest charges that some critics are making today is that the government is ‘putting the economy before lives’, that they are deploying a strategy to deliberately allow some people to die in order to get the overall numbers down. Their target is Johnson, but they should stop to think that they are also really targeting public servants like Vallance and [Dr Chris] Whitty.

After this crisis plays out, we will find out just whether the government’s approach has achieved the lower numbers of deaths it is aiming for. It’s essential that everything it does is scrutinised and when mistakes are made for them to be rectified. But right now, the worst thing would be to accuse scientists and their fellow public servants of anything like bad faith.

In fact, one of the most significant things Vallance said today was this: “We should be prepared to change our minds as the evidence changes. We cannot go in with a fixed plan that is immutable.” He’s ready to change tack, as long as there is evidence to do so.‌

That day, Emeritus Professor Ian Donald from the University of Liverpool, posted a thread on Twitter:

Professor Donald did not have long to wait. On Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson began updating the public daily by instructing us not to visit shops unnecessarily. Not only that, he told us to avoid pubs, restaurants and the theatre.

Parliament is similarly affected:

How true.

Nadine Dorries MP and her 84-year-old mother are recovering well from coronavirus:

Her mother took care of her:

I agree with Ms Dorries’s mother as to what the fuss is about.

On Wednesday, Boris and Health Secretary Nick Hancock separately announced us that schools would be closed to all pupils and students on Friday afternoon March 20, except to children of ‘key workers’ and those who have a social worker assigned to them. Good grief.

Churches and synagogues are closed to public worship. This is the Church of England‘s statement:

Churches should be open where possible but with no public worship services taking place. Prayers can be said by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone and churches should consider ways of sharing this with the wider community. See more below on digital resources that are under development and currently available.

For pity’s sake!

At least something Brexit-related got done this week:

Meanwhile, HuffPost UK was looking for more staff:

Because of hoarders, supermarkets still have empty shelves. This NHS worker cannot do her weekly shop. I feel for her. I had the same experience:

I fully agree. Even now, there are no limits on buying where I shop.

The following videos were taken at Tesco. Someone was bulk-buying bottled water. WHY?

The online supermarket, Ocado.com, shut down on Thursday. It is expected to return on Saturday. They should have limited the number of items per customer:

Access temporarily suspended to Ocado.com

Like all supermarkets, we are working round the clock to keep up with high demand and make sure all of our customers get what they need at this time – especially those more vulnerable and in isolation.

As a result, we have made a decision to temporarily suspend access to Ocado.com for a few days in order to make some changes to our service. This will allow us to better serve our customers, particularly the vulnerable and elderly.

We are fully booked and at full capacity, and will be delivering to over 170,000 households in the next four days. If you have a delivery booked for Thursday or Friday, cut-off times for editing these orders have already passed, but your driver will still arrive as expected.

We will soon contact customers with orders for delivery from Saturday onwards with details of how to edit their orders, and all customers will be able to access the website again from Saturday.

We are very sorry to cause any inconvenience. We’re managing a simply staggering amount of traffic to our website right now and more demand for products and deliveries than we can meet. Our first priority has to be to keep our service up and running and to play our part in feeding the nation.

I’d also like to take this chance to thank our amazing drivers and warehouse staff who are working tirelessly to deliver groceries to as many people as possible in these uncertain times. Their dedication and hard work is truly amazing.

Thank you for your patience and understanding at this unprecedented and challenging time.

Melanie Smith
CEO, Ocado Retail

Today — Friday, March 20 — the aforementioned Emeritus Professor Ian Donald tweeted:

The government decided some time ago not to invoke the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and is pushing ahead with new, emergency legislation — our version of the dreadful Patriot Act:

What is the government thinking?

All Western governments are doing this, however.

That doesn’t make it acceptable, though.

This is the reality of the situation — even in Italy:

As for the West’s love affair with China, it’s got to stop:

Draconian measures — and France will probably extend theirs (source: RMC) — for coronavirus are like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Sign me DISGUSTED.

Where do Democrats stand in defending the rights of the unborn? Sadly, nowhere.

Yet, it has taken several years for this truth to dawn on lifetime Democrat voters.

It is unfortunate that Pete ‘Mayor Pete’ Buttigieg (pron. ‘Budd-uh-judge’) of South Bend, Indiana, is an Episcopalian. He puts the denomination to shame in his support of late-term abortion. Yet, many other Episcopalians — also Democrats — do, too:

On Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at least one Catholic Democrat saw the light, as Mayor Pete defended abortion until the bitter end. Interestingly, Mayor Pete’s dad was a left-wing professor at the University of Notre Dame who was a co-founder and past president of the International Gramsci Society. Who can make sense out of that? But I digress.

LifeSite News reported that the professor who termed Mayor Pete’s views as ‘the straw that broke this camel’s back’ is:

Charles Camosy, an associate professor of Theology at Fordham University, has also resigned from the board of Democrats for Life. 

Camosy, who specializes in biomedical ethics, explained his reasons for his decision in an op ed he wrote for Thursday’s New York Post: the Democrats’ complete disregard for the unborn child.  

Also (emphases mine):

it was same-sex married Pete Buttigieg’s attitude to late-term abortion, aired last week on The View, that convinced Camosy that pro-life Democrats are “fighting a losing battle” in convincing their party to respect their position. Buttigieg had indicated that he didn’t think the government should have any say regarding late-term abortion or post-birth infanticide

“The straw that broke this camel’s back was Pete Buttigieg’s extremism,” Camosy wrote. 

“Here was a mainstream Democratic candidate suggesting, at one point, that abortion is OK up to the point the baby draws her first breath.” 

He concluded that if the party was “willing to go all-in on the most volatile issue of our time with a position held by only 13 percent of the population, it was time to take no for an answer.”

Camosy also predicted that, thanks to its pro-abortion “extremism,” the Democratic Party will lose the next election

We can but hope. If they win, they will have cheated; of that, I’m sure.

Dr Camosy does not think he will be able to vote Republican, though:

My broader values mean I can’t vote Republican, however, and this makes me one of many millions of Americans for whom our political duopoly doesn’t work,” he wrote.

That’s too bad. Opening up other minor yet established parties does not work, either. The British proved that in their December 12, 2019 election.

LifeSite News has more of what Camosy wrote for the New York Post, all of it worthwhile reading. It also quotes Mayor Pete’s views for The View.

In closing, this is what Camosy had to say in his op-ed about the Democrats’ stance on late-term abortion:

Camosy asked them to participate in a thought experiment in which they suppose that “hundreds of thousands of children are being killed each year in horrific ways,” either because they have Down syndrome, or because their grandparents think their parents are too young, or because an abusive partner demands it.

And then suppose a political party claimed this killing was a social good. Just another kind of health care. Something to shout about with pride,” the ethicist asked.

“This party, it should go without saying, would be unsupportable,” he concluded.

Just so.

Sounds a lot like eugenics, doesn’t it?

More will follow on the Democrats’ views on abortion.

Super Bowl LIV (54, in new money) took place on Candlemas, February 2, 2020.

It is hard to imagine any half-time display less worthy of a Sunday, let alone on an important feast day in the Church.

February 2 is also Groundhog Day, and that found its rightful place in the advertising.

Half-time show

Not being an American football fan, I did not watch any of it but saw tweets about the half-time show the next day. You’ll have to click on the link to see the content.

Was this family viewing?

Jeb! liked it, though:

Yes, it does sound creepy. Quite something for a convert to Catholicism and a Fourth Degree in the Knights of Columbus.

The self-described ‘Follower of Christ’, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) also enjoyed it. He gave the half-time show an A+:

The SGT Report wrote about child grooming on February 7, mentioning the half-time show. This excerpt begins after the introductory section about a mother who posed online as an 11-year-old (emphases mine):

This is the new face of how predators are grooming young girls (and boys) to be trafficked, molested and raped. However, it starts much earlier, with a culture that has brainwashed itself into believing that sexual freedom amounts to a Super Bowl half-time show in which barely-clad women spend 20 minutes twerking, gyrating (some of it on a stripper pole) and showing off sexually provocative dance moves.

This is part and parcel of the pornification of American culture

Pop culture and porn culture have become part of the same seamless continuum,” explains theatre historian and University of Illinois professor Mardia Bishop. “As these images become pervasive in popular culture, they become normalized… and… accepted.”

This foray into porn culture—the increasing acceptability and pervasiveness of sexualized imagery in mainstream media—is where pop culture takes a dark turn. “Visual images and narratives of music videos clearly have more potential to form attitudes, values, or perceptions of social reality than does the music alone,” notes author Douglas A. Gentile in his book Media Violence and Children. In fact, music videos are among the worst culprits constantly bombarding young people today with sexual images and references.

Screen time has become the primary culprit for the oversexualization of young people.

Danger, Will Robinson, danger.

Mar a Lago party

President and Mrs Trump held a large private Super Bowl party at Mar a Lago in Palm Beach.

It looks as if they were filing in to the dining room during the half-time show. Actor Terrence K Williams was with them. Good for him:

The US president gave a pre-game show interview to Sean Hannity. This was before his third State of the Union address and his impeachment acquittal:

Advertising

The Super Bowl is the advertising world’s biggest day of the year.

Some American viewers are just as interested in the adverts as they are in the game, if not more so.

However, some advertising themes are more worthy than others:

That day, Ad Week posted ‘The 10 Best Super Bowl Ads of 2020’. They chose ads in reverse order for Porsche, Tide, Microsoft, Mtn Dew Zero Sugar, Snickers, Hyundai Sonata, Amazon Alexa, Google AI (artificial intelligence) and Jeep.

What, no Budweiser? Well, the iconic Clydesdales were nowhere to be seen — at least not this year.

Jeep won the top spot, in Ad Week‘s estimation. Those responding to Jeep in the tweet below also raved about it. I found it rather frustrating to watch. Then again, I never liked Groundhog Day:

Although this next video on Super Bowl LIV advertising is just under 20 minutes long, the two presenters from The Corbett Report offer an amusing, yet sound, critique of three adverts, which one of them chose to analyse:

The three adverts chosen have one running theme: artificial intelligence.

The first ad they played was Budweiser’s. It was poorly put together. This is because most of the advert shows an Alexa-type device in a young man’s flat. Where’s the brew, you might ask? Nowhere. Or maybe a bottle showed up briefly at the end. I don’t recall. (That is what makes it a bad ad.) This is a safety announcement about drinking responsibly. The Budweiser logo shows up only at the end.

The next advert the men looked at was the one Ad Week rated second (see above): Google’s. A man went through old photographs of his late wife Loretta and spoke to Google, narrating a caption for each photo. Each of his phrases began with the word ‘remember’. The helpful electronic Google assistant confirmed that it was logging all his captions.

The two presenters rightly pointed out that people were unwittingly posting their life stories to the cloud. How would Google use those data? How many thousands or millions of lives would be logged for Google’s use? Food for thought.

The third ad was for Verizon. It showed clips of first responders in emergency situations. Verizon’s superior network capabilities help them get to the scenes of accidents and fires that much quicker. What’s not to like, right? Yet, as The Corbett Report presenters said, pandering to the public’s emotions is a very slick and underhanded way of getting people to accept and rely on artificial intelligence.

So, we have Alexa monitoring one’s drink levels, Google ‘helping’ with memory problems and Verizon’s GPS (tracking) capabilities.

Danger, Will Robinson, danger.

Next week: How Cannes Lions ad winners shape your worldview

British journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan effectively dismantles the snowflake generation and their parents in this two-minute video, which is subtitled:

It is amazing that some comments to that tweet ask how he would know about the snowflake generation. Uhh, the clue is in the first sentence:

Well, as a father of four kids …

Here they are, as seen on Christmas Day:

The person who tweeted the snowflake generation video received an interesting selection of comments. Half were critical and half were supportive.

I am glad to see that retired Australian cricketer Shane Warne agrees with what Piers said:

Morgan points out that there has never been a better time to be alive. We are living in peacetime, largely speaking. Our health advances are much greater than any time before. Our technological advances continue in leaps and bounds. What’s not to like?

Yet, he says, we are creating a generation of young adults who cannot accept the realities of life because we have sheltered them too much, whether at home, school or elsewhere.

Along with this comes the continued criticism of the world as it is: imperfect. Sure, we can always do a better job of things and, for the most part, we are. Yet, the criticism is vehement. Furthermore, most of it comes from the snowflake generation who expect a prize just for participating in an event.

As Morgan points out, kids are happy to place 25th in an event. He says that if one of his kids came home with 25th place, he would ask them why they didn’t do better. Absolutely! In my day — so last century — if we came second or third, our parents would ask why we didn’t come first!

This mollycoddling attitude of parents and teachers is not doing the current crop of twenty-somethings any favours. We have encouraged them to be too soft and to collapse at the drop of a hat.

I sometimes wonder whether much of this recent child psychology is a deliberate way of weakening, if not destroying, Western society. I very much doubt the Chinese or the Russians give out participation trophies to all. Nor do other non-Western countries. They make their respective younger generations toughen up from an early age. Consequently, their young adults move to Western countries for work, especially in technology. Their aptitude is better, because they had more structure in the classroom — no curved grades — and at home. Meanwhile, we have millions of children entering university who cannot do what used to be secondary school maths. Nor do they know the rules of grammar or spelling anymore. As a result, our universities offer remedial courses to bring first-year students up to speed.

It’s a parlous state of affairs. Heaven forfend if we are ever in a national crisis.

There is winning, which is easy to handle. Then there is losing, which requires a) knowing how to cope and b) learning from it when it is one’s own fault. That pertains not only to sporting events but to employment as well.

Life isn’t easy. Life has never been easy. There are lessons to be learnt at each stage of our journey, whether individually or together.

Let’s stop indulging young adults so much. And let’s watch how we raise the next generation.

We can take a lesson from nature here:

Snowflakes are for winter and the great outdoors. They should not be a personality type.

For a change, below are three stories one can file under ‘happy news’.

This little fellow from England has taken his first steps at the age of four. He has a rare form of cerebral palsy and recently underwent an operation to reduce the spasticity in his legs. The video is subtitled, so you can read more about him. The joy on his face is a sight to behold. God is good:

Speaking of walking, the little boy thrown from the third floor of the Mall of America on April 12 is once again fully ambulatory. I bet his and his family’s Thanksgiving was extra special this year. God is good:

On November 23, Fox News reported (emphases mine):

The 5-year-old boy who was thrown from a Mall of America third-floor balcony and survived is “walking perfectly” and could be off his medication soon.

The family of Landen Hoffman gave an update about the boy on a GoFundMe page, saying the open wound on his belly had “finally scabbed over and new skin is growing.”

“Mom has been doing everything she can to speed up the healing of his wound and working toward getting off some of his medications,” the post said.

Hoffman was hospitalized with two broken arms, a broken leg and fractures to his face and skull when Emmanuel Aranda, 24, tossed him about 40 feet during a random attack at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. on April 12.

He was forced to undergo 15 separate medical procedures and surgeries due to the injuries and “severe complications.” He returned home months later.

Now, Hoffman [is] said to be enjoying life and is going to kindergarten with his twin brother and sister.

“He gets out of the car every morning happy and blows kisses all the way in! He’s a strong, happy boy,” the post added. “When his mommy asks him if she can look at his wound or asks how he’s doing, he always responds with ‘Mom, I’m healed, you don’t need to ask me anymore.’ Landen loves life and Jesus!”

It continued: “He tells people all the time when they get hurt, don’t worry, I fell off a cliff, but Angels caught me and Jesus loves me, so I’m ok and you will be too!”

Bless his heart.

And, finally, did you know the adorable baby portraits on the Gerber baby food jars are of real infants? Ann Turner Cook, the model for the original portrait, turned 93 last week:

ABC News reported on an Instagram post celebrating the occasion:

“For over 90 years, it’s been our pleasure to welcome countless babies to our ever-growing Gerber family,” the caption said. “Our dedication to each and every generation of little ones has long been part of our heritage, and we’ll always take time to celebrate a true classic!”

The iconic charcoal sketch was first created by Cook’s neighbor, Dorothy Hope Smith, who specialized in children’s portraits and submitted the sketch to Gerber, according to the company.

The irresistible baby first appeared on Gerber products in 1928 and became the company’s official trademark in 1931.

Many happy returns, Ms Cook!

It has long been an belief of mine that if you’ve never failed, you haven’t done much in life.

Anyone who is successful will have had at least one, if not more, spectacular failures. Donald Trump’s big professional failure was his casino closures in the early 1990s. We had to read and hear all about them again in 2016 presidential campaign. On a personal level, his first two marriages failed, causing a lot of hurt at the time.

Did the casino failures stop Donald Trump in the 1990s? Certainly not!

Therefore, my belief is that we need to take calculated risks such that, even if we fail, we have the mettle to dust ourselves off and keep going. In retrospect, failure looks stupid, but if the moves made sense at the time, we have to look for the next big success.

A friend of mine has a real problem with that concept, but, so be it.

On that subject, a month ago, I read an excellent post about learning how to deal with failure. One of my readers, Daughn, wrote ‘Why Are The Dems So Angry? Version 2.0’, which starts with the appalling reactions the Democrats have towards now-President Donald Trump, then explores how average citizens go into overdrive against others when they themselves fail (emphases mine below):

Worried about Trump becoming too popular because of his successes, attack him and his family personally
Worried about the country rejecting socialism/communism, re electing Trump, impeach him.
Don’t have enough votes for impeachment, then change the rules for a “hybrid Impeachment Inquiry”
Rather impeach Trump than resolve immigration.
Rather hire outside counsel, change the rules of the House, establish a mini-DOJ within the Congress, to defend Obamacare wherever it is challenged — than put together a good healthcare plan for the country …

And then it drifts down into culture,
Don’t get promoted? Sue the company for discrimination.
Don’t like your male boss, accuse him of sexual advances.
Don’t check out fast enough in line, can’t afford an item in a dept store = steal it.
Don’t want to take the time to work out problems with your spouse —>>> divorce.

To our kids:
Don’t get a cookie, scream until you do.
Don’t make the cheerleading squad, sue the school or spread false rumors about those who do
Not popular in school —->>>> kill your classmates.

It’s about never learning how to accept failure (Hillary Clinton is a perfect example).
If we cannot accept a failure, we’re stuck. Time stops. We cannot move forward to LEARN from the mistake, and grow, develop into a wise old man, change our tactics, and be a productive member of society.
Again, Hillary is a perfect example of someone who is “stuck”.

If we blame our failures on others, that’s a dangerous place to be.

We need to own our failures, learn from them AND MOVE ON.

The lady who wrote the post about Democrat and everyday anger related a personal anecdote about herself. She learned to deal with failure, thanks to her father, a Marine. He told her that if she never failed, she hadn’t done much in life (emphasis in the original):

When I was young, I worked on a case that I knew would make me successful and wealthy. I was so sure I was going to make a name for myself. Ahhhh, we’re all blind when we’re young. I worked on it for two years, and I did everything right. Every detail of the case was covered. I was so sure I would put the plan in motion, I even shopped for new homes. I knew the house I was going to buy. Suddenly, from left field, a competitor appeared. His plan was not as good, he was not offering nearly what my firm could, but he was older and the law firm was more comfortable with him than me. As I headed into a final meeting, where I feared I would learn the bad news, I called……….. Dad. I needed advice.

My Dad loved me. Surely, he would be empathetic or give me something magical to say or do to save the client. Instead, I got a swift kick in the a$$…. from my own Dad.

Dad was familiar with the case, of course, I talked about it endlessly for two years. Instead, Dad said, paraphrasing, “You’ve lost this one. Accept the beating and move on. You put all your eggs into one basket, and it’s a classic mistake. If you had 10 law firms- medium size, instead of going after the biggest one in the southeast, you wouldn’t be in this position. Yes, all the other guys in the office will make fun of you. This is your comeuppance. It’s going to happen. You failed to bring it home…… “

I was feeling like an old crusty barnacle on the bottom of a boat, whining a little bit (Gosh, I really thought Dad would have something magical. Dad hated it when I whined and he was getting impatient with me) when Dad continued, “…… but here’s the thing….. If you’re not failing, you’re not fu$king doing anything. If you never fail, that means you never tried. You want to be on the field of play, then expect to get fu$king hit. You’ll figure out how to win….. next time. You’re way too stubborn to stay down on the mat for too long…..”

My Dad was a Marine until the day he died and a very successful exec. I was 24 when that conversation happened and in 24yrs, I never heard him curse. Never. Not once. For Dad to drop the F bomb was a big deal. It meant two things. He was serious, and he was treating me like an adult, not a daughter. Mixed blessing. Lose a huge client, but in Daddy’s eyes, I was all grown up. Yeah, grown up enough to fail, …..miserably. And like all daughters seeking their father’s respect, Dad was much more important to me than any client. I was working on that “respect” thing…..but I was getting there.

I took my medicine from the client, and they were kind of surprised by how quickly I walked away. My competitor got a slot on Good Morning America…. and the sight of his face made me irritated for years. Salt in the wound. Yet strangely, I was walking a little taller. Yeah, I could figure it out. There would be many more failures to come. I embraced them and each time, the sting hurt a little less. Each failure taught me more, make me stronger. And no, staying “down on the mat” would have been easier, but was never a comfortable place to be.

Lying about it, selling out, compromising ethics was never an option. Can’t get respect that way….. at least not from my Dad.

I hope that makes us feel a bit better about personal failures, those big enough to attract ridicule or criticism.

Look at the people who focus on others’ failures. How much have they themselves done in life? Not much. They took the safe, secure way. They lived without taking the ‘What if?’ risk.

Better to have lived it large, taking that calculated risk and failing, rather than never have tried at all.

Failure is no bad thing. Failure teaches us lessons.

Above all, failure should teach us to keep reaching for the stars.

Before I get to the main story, October has been Theresa May’s best month this year.

Her birthday was October 1:

During the extraordinary parliamentary session of Saturday, October 19, 2019, she stood firm with Boris on his new Brexit deal. That was principled, considering that David Cameron didn’t stand with her when she was PM. In fact, he resigned as the MP for Witney (Oxfordshire):

She gave an excellent speech that day:

Now, let us cast our minds back to 1961. Theresa Brasier was nearing her fifth birthday. Her parents, the Revd Hubert Brazier and Zaidee ‘Mary’ Brasier, played host to a 16-year-old German teenager from Bonn that summer at the vicarage in Church Enstone, Oxfordshire.

On July 24, 2019, Detlev J Piltz wrote a fascinating article about his four weeks with the Brasiers for The Oldie magazine, outstanding reading for anyone over the age of 40. He learned invaluable lessons about the English during his time in the Cotswolds.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

The Brasiers took young Detlev everywhere:

The four weeks I spent there enriched my life. Not only did I improve my schoolboy English and become more fluent, but the family took me with them on their shopping trips in their plush Morris Minor, usually to Chipping Norton.

On Sundays, the family and I attended the village church together. We all went to watch the motor racing at Silverstone, picnicked in the country, and the vicar showed me Oxford University and explained about its colleges.

He especially appreciated his time with the vicar:

What impressed me most were the many conversations that the Reverend Hubert, to call him by his first name, then in his mid-forties, carried on with a rather wet-behind-the-ears teenager.

The vicar, as folk in the village referred to him, was a good-hearted soul: clever, educated, helpful and gentle, yet quite clear about his moral and ethical principles. Perhaps this was also partly due to his slight stoop which, as he himself put it, had focused his concentration more on the spiritual than on the physical.

The parishioners – who visited us, or whom we visited – and the congregation in church always displayed an aura of love and devotion, but also respect, for their vicar.

I still admire him today for how he and his wife managed the not-so-easy duties of an English country clergyman. During my stay, I also learned something about Englishness and even about the English class system, although this knowledge was more sensed and intuited than consciously understood.

The Brasiers had just purchased a television set. A Test Match between England and Australia was being broadcast, so the vicar explained the rules of cricket to Detlev. Detlev also learned a lesson about the English. Only they can criticise their country. Foreigners cannot.

This is very true — and anyone coming here should remember it. It’s just how things are:

He straightforwardly concluded that the Australians would win, as they were both bowling and batting better than the English, an assessment with which I dutifully agreed.

This proved to be a mistake. My host took me to one side and explained, ‘You are quite right, Detlev. Australia is playing better than England. But perhaps I can give you a piece of advice for the future. As a foreigner, you would do well not to say so. Leave it to us.’

In a few words, the vicar had borne out a rule of English interaction with foreigners, summarised succinctly by George Orwell, ‘We spend our lives in abusing England but grow very angry when we hear a foreigner saying exactly the same things.’

Fortunately, comments in the opposite direction are allowed. If a foreigner praises certain features of England, the English are pleased, although they will immediately play down the merits of what has been admired and claim that it is actually not so great.

The bishop of the diocese visited the Brasiers on the last Sunday that Detlev was there. The couple made a point of impressing upon the young German the importance of manners:

something they had never previously done.

They told him to stay silent unless the bishop spoke to him:

I was also kindly advised not to engage the bishop in conversation myself, but to wait until he spoke to me, and to address him as ‘Bishop’, rather than Mr Johnson, or whatever his name might be.

They impressed upon him the finer points of tea drinking — always two cups:

a single cup was deemed impolite, as not enough; three cups were considered impolite, as too many.

Detlev did not like the special tea that Mrs Brasier served but refrained from commenting until later. It was probably Lapsang Souchong, a smoky tea:

‘It was Chinese tea,’ the vicar’s wife explained. When I asked why it was different from the tea we otherwise always drank, I heard for the first time in my life that it was ‘because of the bishop’.

The high point of his visit was when he accompanied the Brasiers to the local landowner’s for tea. Detlev had a keen interest in historic Royal Navy battles. When they arrived at Sir John’s house, Detlev could not contain his enthusiasm:

When we arrived in the entrance hall of the large and rather grand residence, I spotted on the opposite wall a painting of a scene from the 1916 Battle of Jutland, details of which were well known to me.

Without thinking, I stopped in front of the picture and said, ‘Oh, the famous manoeuvre of crossing the T [when a line of warships crosses in front of a line of enemy ships at right angles] by Admiral Jellicoe.’

Sir John treated his guests to tea and scones. Then he turned his attention to the young German:

Afterwards, Sir John asked me how I recognised the scene in the picture, and I told him about my interest in the Royal Navy. He signalled to me to follow him and we entered a room full of English naval memorabilia.

It transpired that Sir John had fought in the Battle of Jutland. For nearly a whole hour, he described the events and his role. I was eager to know whether he had known the English admirals, Jellicoe and Beatty, personally. It was an hour suffused with mutual affection between old and young, with never a word out of place, and certainly no nationalistic undertones. I remember it clearly and vividly to this day.

On the way home, Mrs Brasier expressed her disappointment that Sir John had not spent more time with them. The vicar responded:

Well, it may be years since he had such an admirer, let alone such a young one – and, by the way, he can do whatever he thinks fit.

Detlev’s stay with the Brasier family fostered in him a lifelong love of England.

In 2015, he and his wife visited the Cotswolds and passed through Church Enstone, where they stopped.

Detlev Piltz did not want to bother the present occupants of the vicarage, but he asked at the church what happened to the Brasiers:

… in the church, someone showed us a roll of past vicars, and there was the name of ‘my’ vicar, and his dates in office, from 1959 to 1971.

Piltz thought nothing more about it until the following year, which featured that momentous summer of the Brexit referendum and David Cameron’s immediate resignation, which was completely unnecessary but was perhaps for the better, given his Remainer views.

Lo, Theresa May won the Conservative leadership contest that summer:

The candidacy of Theresa May spawned widespread reporting about her background and early life. And only then did it become clear to me how small the world really can be.

For the idyllic village in the Cotswolds was Church Enstone, and the vicar and his wife were Hubert and Zaidee Brasier, although he always called her Mary. Sadly, I then learned that Hubert Brasier had been killed in a car accident in 1981, and his wife died the following year.

And I also learnt what had happened to their young daughter. She was called Theresatoday known to every Englishman and woman as Prime Minister Theresa May.

I thought that was such a terrific anecdote.

People have either made fun of Theresa May or criticised her mercilessly. We still don’t know what fully took place between her people and Angela Merkel’s regarding Brexit. Certainly, May’s downfall began when she put forward that London-Berlin Brexit deal in July 2018 at Chequers, when her own Brexit team, lead by David Davis, was putting together a proper exit plan (Canada ++), working together with Michel Barnier from the EU. May told a shocked assembly of her own ministers that it was her deal or the highway. The Evening Standard reported that she told ministers they could pay for their own transport back to London if they wanted to leave early. Brexit minister David Davis tendered his resignation afterwards as did Boris Johnson, who was Foreign Minister at the time.

My, how much water has passed under the dam since then. I hope that our former PM continues to vote in support of our present one, Boris Johnson.

I regret to report that our new exit deadline is January 31, 2020.

Activity in the Church of Gaia continues.

The other day we saw that students at New York’s Union Seminary confess to plants.

Another recent development is the anointment with chrism of Washington DC’s Catholic school students in a pledge to the environment.

Last Friday, September 20, 2019 — Greta Thunberg’s first school strike day of the autumn — some students in the Archdiocese of Washington assembled in churches for Catholic Charities’ Season of Creation Prayer Service:

This included showing Greta’s climate address to the UN — and anointing students’ hands with blessed chrism (sacramental oil):

Chrism is used in Catholic sacramental rites of Baptism, Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick and Dying.

Therefore, use of sacramental oil is suspect when used in another context, such as this one.

Furthermore, anointing of the head — not the hands — is the general practice for Baptism and Confirmation. The brain rules what our hands do.

Devout Catholics had this to say about the service which elevates the environment above God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ:

There was more reaction here:

I’ll end with this tweet:

The practice you are depicting is blasphemy and idolatry. Pray for the conversion of all who participate in this sinfulness.

Indeed.

This ceremony is blasphemous and idolatrous. It also opens the door to heresy, elevating God’s creation above God Himself.

These are dangerous days for young Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant. Pray that the Holy Spirit works in them, turning them away from error and heresy towards the eternal truth as expressed in Holy Scripture and the Sacraments.

As we know, Greta Thunberg has resumed worldwide calls for children to bunk off school on Fridays in order to call attention to climate change.

Alan Jones, an Australian commentator on Sky News, had a pointed message for ‘little turds’ who should ‘get the facts’ before protesting. A partial transcript follows:

I couldn’t agree more.

Here is the partial transcript:

Also — wouldn’t it show more dedication to protesting climate change if the students got up early on a Saturday morning so to do?

Just a thought.

ADHD diagnoses became prevalent in the 1990s — from my recall, anyway.

They involved Ritalin prescriptions for children.

Now those adults are having children. Are they still on SSRIs — psychotropes — of some sort?

What chances their offspring will be diagnosed with ADHD, too?

There once was a time when children could play outdoors. They built forts or played in treehouses. They played as cowboys in the US or knights in the UK imagining appropriately shaped sticks as guns (‘Pew pew!’) or swords. They played baseball or football in someone’s back garden. They ran around. They rode bikes. Their mothers called them home for dinner.

In the 1980s, the milk carton children began appearing in the US. Those were missing youngsters whose photos were on the sides of milk cartons with a phone number to ring should they be sighted.

Understandably, parents — particularly mothers — panicked. Even I, as an adult, found the idea of so many missing children disturbing. What started out as one photo on a milk carton extended to several by the end of that decade.

Consequently, boys and girls spent more time indoors. Television became more popular with them. Family-oriented video games entered the market.

More women worked outside the home, whether married or divorced.

This led to the latch key child phenomenon in the US, which involved children letting themselves in the house after school and staying there until their mothers came home. Although the children were safer indoors, they had few outlets to let off steam and their natural energy.

All of that has led to more prescription drugs for youngsters to control their behaviour. And if their parents were on childhood medication, then, they are less likely to see their own children’s prescriptions as worrisome.

It’s time everyone stopped becoming so dependent on SSRIs. Whether we realise it or not, multiple generations of Westerners swallowing these tablets is unhealthy:

I agree wholeheartedly. Yet, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to do battle with schools. Sometimes, parents are obliged to put energetic children on medication in order for them to get an education.

Not having a husband makes parenting particularly difficult, too. Daycare isn’t really an answer. The solution has to come from the home.

Note that with so many mothers working, there are more kids who have gone haywire. The easy answer — put forward by our governments, pharmaceutical companies and health experts — involves prescription drugs. The harder — yet, better — solution is to create a structured home life from the start.

I also accept that, even in the suburbs, it isn’t safe for children to play outdoors.

Bottom line: all of this is having a detrimental effect on society.

Addiction to prescription pain relievers is another huge problem.

Some prescription pain relievers can be obtained through criminals operating through pharmacies and clinics:

The DOJ issued the following press release on Wednesday, August 28, 2019:

Charges Filed Against Dozens in Trafficking Network Responsible for Diverting Over 23 Million Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Carisoprodol Pills

DEA Also Takes Administrative Action and Immediately Suspends Seven Pharmacies and Two Providers; DOJ Announces Expansion of Health Care Fraud Strike Force into Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio

Emphases mine below:

A total of 41 individuals have been charged in nine indictments for their alleged involvement in a network of “pill mill” clinics and pharmacies. Those charged include medical providers, clinic owners and managers, pharmacists, pharmacy owners and managers as well as drug dealers and traffickers. Their actions allegedly resulted in the diversion of approximately 23 million oxycodone, hydrocodone and carisoprodol pills.

In addition, federal law enforcement agents executed 36 search warrants including 15 pharmacies and six “pill mill” clinics, as well as other offices and residences, aimed at disrupting networks of opioid diversion.  The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also served immediate suspension orders on seven pharmacies and two providers involved in dispensing controlled substances without legitimate medical purpose.

The Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section (HCF Unit) led the enforcement actions in conjunction with U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAOs) for the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas and District of Massachusetts as well as the DEA and task force officers from greater Houston police departments and the FBI.

The charges allege participating doctors, medical professionals and pharmacies knew the prescriptions had no legitimate medical purpose and were outside the usual course of professional practice.  In some cases, “crew leaders” and “runners” allegedly filled or had the individuals who posed as patients fill the illegal prescriptions at Houston-area pharmacies.  The owner and pharmacist in charge at one pill mill pharmacy allegedly dispensed the second highest amount of oxycodone 30mg pills of all pharmacies in the entire State of Texas in 2019, and the ninth highest amount in the nation.  One hundred percent of the oxycodone dispensed by this pharmacy – every single oxycodone pill that left the premises – was in the highest available dosage strength of that drug.

On certain occasions the indictments allege that drug dealers and traffickers then allegedly diverted and distributed the controlled substances to the streets, with some pills trafficked from Houston to Boston.

The press release goes on to state the names, professions and places of employment of those charged. Here are just a few of them:

Bobby Hobbs, M.D., James John Jackson, Jr., MD, Tameka Moore, Kondre Graves, owner of Chasen Clinic of Houston, Texas, and Tara Graves, for their alleged participation in a scheme to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose through Chasen. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Drew Pennebaker of the Fraud Section.

Brandy LaDawn Fears, 44 of Houston, Texas, owner of Meds R Us Pharmacy of Missouri City, Texas, and Ricky Moten, 44 of Houston, Texas, alleged crew leader, for their alleged participation in a scheme to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Drew Pennebaker.

Arthur Billings, 55 of Missouri City, Texas, owner of Healthfit Pharmacy of Houston, Texas; Jeremy Branch, 32 of Houston, Texas, pharmacist-in-charge; Deanna Michelle Winfield-Gates, 50 of Houston, Texas, pharmacist; Frank Cooper, 49 of Houston, Texas, pharmacist; and Donna Hooper, 56 of Houston, Texas, pharmacy technician, for their alleged participation in a scheme to distribute and dispense controlled substance without a legitimate medical purpose. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Drew Pennebaker.

It’s shocking.

I had a friend who fell into pain reliever addiction several years ago. I only found out about it from him after he was clean. As we didn’t live near each other anymore, I wasn’t seeing him very often. He said it was a very difficult time for him. It took a couple of years for him under medical supervision to recover.

We should be taking stock of our dependence on prescription drugs. My guess is that our notional betters — the great and the good — shy away from them. So should we.

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