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Happy New Year!

Happy new decade!

I enjoy, albeit with trepidation at times, looking back at the decades I’ve lived through and charting the change from beginning to end.

O tempora, o mores!

1960s

In 1960, growing up in the United States, I remember that things were still quite formal. Most people took care in the way they spoke and in their appearance. They were careful to conduct their households in a respectable manner. By the middle of the decade, that began to change but not too noticeably.

By 1968, a social revolution was underway, including sexually. What was once private became public. Attire reflected that. Women began wearing skirts above the knee. Men’s clothes became more form-fitting.

Sloppiness and drugs became fashionable with the advent of hippies. Even though they were a small minority, they received a lot of media coverage. A slogan connected with them — ‘If it feels good, do it’ — began to pervade society at large.

Cinema and television reflected this change.

At home, Americans moved from watching westerns to tuning into a zany comedy hour. In 1960, Gunsmoke was the most viewed programme. In 1969, it was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Gunsmoke had moved to sixth place in the Nielsen ratings.

Film genres and themes also shifted. In 1960, the great epics were popular, with Spartacus the highest grossing film and Exodus coming third. Psycho was second. In 1969, while Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was in the top slot, Midnight Cowboy was at No. 3, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice was No. 6 and an X-rated movie, I Am Curious (Yellow) was No. 12. It would have been unthinkable in 1960 that an urban drama about homosexuality, a movie about swingers and one that was pornographic would have been so popular nine years later.

1970s

The cultural shift continued in the 1970s. American magazines and newspapers devoted many column inches to social drop-outs experimenting with communal living. Swingers were becoming popular in suburbia. Again, those were two small sub-groups of society, but everyone — even the most respectable — knew about these two phenomena.

Pop music got bolder, more sexualised. I remember in high school that we talked a lot about sex and could hardly wait to start dating so that we could experiment. Our parents wondered what was wrong with us. The idea of sin and the forbidden went out the window. ‘If it feels good, do it’ had spread to the middle classes. Previously forbidden carnal acts were encouraged as being completely ‘natural’. This furthered the evolution of a shame-free society. Today, I read that some teenagers don’t kiss on a first date; instead they engage in oral sex.

Interestingly, one of the most suggestive singers of the decade, Eric Carmen of the Raspberries, laments where this has led today:

I remember neighbours of ours getting divorced. The wife said that she could earn her own living now, thank you very much. The husband was heartbroken. We felt sorry for their two children. Until then, my family and I personally did not know any couples who got divorced. It just didn’t happen to everyday individuals. However, divorce rates continued to rise and, these days, no one bats an eyelid.

More women started working. What began as a liberating elective would turn out to be a mandatory means of survival in marriage in the years that followed. Few of us knew that then, though.

Returning to music, it was a great decade for youngsters. FM radio produced rather excellent stations devoted to little known genres that never reached Top 40 AM stations. Through them, we discovered prog rock from Britain: Yes, Rick Wakeman, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, to name but three musical greats. There were many more, too numerous to mention here.

Near the end of the decade we had disco. Saturday Night Fever was a huge box office hit and propelled John Travolta from television (Welcome Back Kotter) to cinema fame.

The most popular television sitcoms, such as Welcome Back Kotter, were all set in metropolitan areas. In terms of television in general, The Waltons was probably the only show with a rural setting.

Halfway through the decade, I spent a year in France, which was much quieter than the US socially and still quite formal, even though the more leftist state university students were generally unkempt and unwashed. In many respects, the country was a bridge between the 1960s and the 1970s in the nicest possible way.

1980s

Leaving university, I recall that many of my friends latched onto the Reagan zeitgeist and became conservatives.

They turned into their parents and lost the fun-loving verve they once had. I stayed single the longest, so was more acutely aware of a shift into respectability and suburban living.

I lived in a major US city then, earning my own way in life. For relaxation, I used to go to matinees at the weekend. The price of admission was cheaper and the cinemas were nearly empty, giving me the impression I had the big screen all to myself.

I saw a lot of world films in the first part of that decade, some from Brazil and Australia but mostly Britain and France. French film became a passion. Even one of the UHF television channels showed French films from the 1950s. Bliss.

As far as music was concerned, my favourite FM station played British and European singles apart from reggae on Sunday afternoons. More bliss.

Then, around 1986, something began to change. Although my favourite radio station stayed the same, the movie theatres weren’t showing as many foreign films. Within a couple of years, they stopped showing them altogether. One of my lifelines had vanished, sadly. The American films that replaced them were not very good, either, so I stopped going to the cinema.

Everything became very one-dimensional. America, somehow, had lost the link with the zeitgeist of European culture, which it never recovered. It used to be that people in the 1960s and early 1970s made a two- or three-week trip to western Europe to see the historic sites they learned about in school. It was what we today would call a bucket list item.

Fortunately, by the end of the decade, employment events intervened — and further improved — for me.

1990s

Living in England, I realised that I had an insatiable appetite for history and politics. I learned a lot about both thanks to a gift subscription to The Spectator, which I had read about in English lit class in high school. It’s been around since 1828.

In 1990s, my in-laws told me that Margaret Thatcher’s time was up. She had become too full of herself. We had high hopes for John Major.

I remember the 1992 election, which Major won handily. I could not understand the rage of my female colleagues who expected Neil Kinnock to win. They stayed up all night drinking, waiting for a Labour government that never came. The next day, at work, they were hungover, tearful — and, above all, angry. Why did they think he stood a chance? Perhaps I had been reading too much of The Spectator, but I had no doubt that Major would continue as Prime Minister.

By 1997, most of us felt change was needed. The Conservative MPs on the front bench seemed like tired, bloated bureaucrats. None of them had an original idea. Most seemed to be lining their own pockets. I was most consterned by Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley, who started closing A&E (Accident and Emergency) services at local hospitals. What was she thinking?

When Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, nearly everyone I knew rejoiced. Change was coming.

And how …

2000s

The first few years of Labour were fine. I was enjoying my work too much to pay any attention.

By 2005, I longed for a Conservative government, especially when Gordon Brown became PM with no general election.

After that, Labour became unbearable, banging on about people’s personal lives and habits. The smoking ban came into force in the summer of 2007. Ministers assured us in television interviews that private members clubs and hotels would be exempt. No, not at all. It was a blanket ban everywhere.

It was during this decade that London elected its first mayor, Ken Livingstone. He served two terms and introduced the city-wide congestion charge for motor vehicles, which we called the Kengestion Charge. My colleagues at the time reminded me that, as head of the old GLA (Greater London Authority), he was known as Red Ken.

Boris Johnson succeeded him, also serving two terms. His administration made the streets tidy again and also lowered crime.

By 2006, I started looking more closely at the EU and the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels who seemed to rule our lives. I agreed with those disgruntled Britons who wanted a referendum on our membership.

Most of all, however, I was sick and tired of Labour, to the point of despair.

I also asked my far better half to cancel my gift subscription to the The Spectator, as it had changed its editorial line considerably after Boris Johnson left as editor. Although more people now read it, it is a former shadow of itself. I would not call it neither conservative nor traditional at all any more.

2010s

Hope came in the May 2010 general election.

The Conservatives had to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. It was the David Cameron and Nick Clegg Show, but at least Labour were out of the picture after 13 years.

David Cameron referred to himself as the ‘heir to Blair’. It took me some time to see it, but he was not wrong.

He set out to reform the Conservative Party and alienated older, faithful members in their local associations. CCHQ suddenly did not need their help.

On a broader level, Cameron will probably be best remembered for opening up marriage to same-sex couples and for offering us the EU referendum, billed by all parties as a ‘once in a lifetime’ choice which they all pledged to implement.

A number of televised debates took place in 2016. I watched them all. Some of my friends were less than convinced by the Leave proposition. The one clincher was Brexit The Movie, which is an hour-long eye-opener about the Brussels gravy train and better than any of the debates, no matter how good:

I stayed up until the early hours of the morning of Friday, June 24, 2016 to watch the result. When it was clear that Leave had won, I went to bed. The next day, my far better half and I woke up to Cameron resigning because he did not like the result. We had a celebratory lunch in London and went to a party that evening that had been planned months earlier. I remember the apprehension we both felt about sounding out the other party guests as to their views on the EU. We later discovered that were not alone. Finally, someone there broke the ice upon his arrival by exclaiming:

Is everybody HAPPY? I certainly am!

At that point, we were free to talk about Brexit.

Theresa May became Prime Minister later that summer.

Across the pond, another sea change was happening: Donald Trump’s candidacy. It was even more of a shock when he won. A startled nation awoke to find that Hillary Clinton was not their president.

The conflicts about Brexit and Trump continue today. Opponents to both have grown ever more vehement.

On September 20, 2019, the British website Spiked issued a thought-provoking documentary on Trump and Brexit. It’s 26-minutes long and well worth watching. To cover Brexit, their reporters interviewed residents of Southend-on-Sea in Essex. To cover the Trump phenomenon, they interviewed Pennsylvania journalist Salena Zito and residents of Erie, which was once a major industrial powerhouse in that state. It has fallen on very hard times, indeed:

The major theme running through both is, as they put it, ‘change’, which I believe they should have called ‘self determination’ and ‘recovering the aspirational dream’.

One thing that struck me was the interview with the owner of a gym in Erie. He said that his father raised seven children on a janitor’s salary:

You couldn’t do that now.

Too right. Both parents now have to work — unlike in the 1960s — and few households can support more than two or three children.

People in Britain and the United States want to work and save more of their hard-earned cash. They also want good job opportunities for their children.

A fisherman in Southend said that, because of EU rules, he is restricted to an ever-smaller part of waters in which to fish. The number of fishing boats has continued to decline, he added, and the number of fisherman has also dropped dramatically. That is why he, and many others in Southend, voted Leave in 2016.

The decade closed with Boris Johnson’s landslide victory on December 12. Historian David Starkey explores what this means for the nation in this 57-minute documentary from The Sun, ably conducted by a young reporter:

Starkey explores the evolution of Parliament since Victorian times, when it became the institution we know today. As many Northern constituencies flipped from Labour to Conservative, Starkey says that Boris’s pledge to revitalise the North will mean little unless he espouses their values of patriotism, which, he says, has been a dirty word for many years.

He says that Boris could well become a figure like Charles II, who restored the monarchy beginning in 1660. Many of their personality traits are similar, he notes, particularly their penchant for bringing a nation together and reforming it at the same time. It is well worth watching when you have the opportunity.

There is much more to Starkey’s interview than summarised here. He talks about the people of the North, Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, David Cameron, Tony Blair and, significantly, Benjamin Disraeli. Starkey hopes that the PM will study his Victorian predecessor’s successes closely.

With that, I must close for now. There are many developments over the past 60 years that I have not mentioned. This is merely to give an idea about the direction that Western society took as the decades rolled on.

Welcome to 2020. Let’s hope it brings many good tidings. I wish all of us the very best.

When Donald Trump discussed human trafficking during his 2016 campaign, I wondered how serious a problem it was.

Surely, no one else talked about it.

Yes, we knew about Jeffrey Epstein, but he seemed to be an outlier.

Since then, we’ve had the NXIVM trial which, thankfully, resulted in prison sentences.

Donald Trump, who lived in New York City for most of his life knew what he was talking about — once again.

Jeffrey Epstein’s mysterious death made the headlines over the weekend. I wrote about it here and here.

At long last, people are beginning to wake up to the horrors of human, especially child, trafficking.

Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, is one of them. He has pledged to start linking the dots surrounding this horrifying issue:

He wrote that thread before Epstein died:

The following day:

More power to his elbow in getting the job done!

Corey Lynn – Corey’s Digs has been investigating these issues for quite a while. She has more specifics on Epstein and his associates:

On Sunday, August 11, 2019, the day after Epstein’s death, Fox’s Life, Liberty & Levin featured South African film director and producer Jaco Booyens (pron. ‘Yaco Boyens’), whose recent film, 8 Days, is all about child trafficking. Mark Levin conducted a 32-minute interview with him. The original full length video link which I posted has been truncated to one second. I am grateful to one of my readers for letting me know. I found another video, but not of the full interview. A shorter — 9:50 — segment follows:

A second reader found the nub of the child sex trafficking stats in another interview clip here.

I urge everyone to take the time to watch that same video clip, which is not on YouTube, then read the summary of the full interview below.

It is very important in understanding the gravity of child trafficking.

Jaco Booyens, who now lives in the United States, also has a website about combatting human trafficking: SHAREtogether.org.

A summary of the interview follows.

Booyens made 8 Days because his sister Ilanka was trafficked when both were children in South Africa in 1994 or 1995. At the age of 13, Ilanka had just won a national song competition and was subsequently trafficked to a record company! She was trafficked for six years.

He said that the person who leaves or is abducted to be trafficked is never the same one who returns home. Fortunately, Ilanka now lives in Nashville.

Booyens has used aspects of his sister’s plight in the film.

Levin showed the trailer for 8 Days, which begins with a nice teenage girl who is enthralled because a classmate asks her out on a date. Her parents let her go. Unbeknownst to them, the boy, who is driving the two of them into town for the evening, pulls into a car park and stops the vehicle. Another vehicle pulls up, and a couple of people get out, abduct the girl and drive off. The next eight days are a living hell for the girl — and for her parents, who have no idea what has happened to their daughter.

Booyens said that statistics he has seen show that trafficked children normally die after seven years from drug abuse. Also, one imagines, the horrors they have been subjected to are another factor in premature death.

He came out with more statistics about child trafficking in the United States:

  • Currently, most victims are girls (average age 12), although the number of boys — especially those who are prepubescent — is rising;
  • The situation is now much worse than it was five years ago;
  • A pimp can earn $250k tax free per year off from trafficking one child;
  • 300k children are trafficked every day in the US; 76,000 are trafficked per day in Texas alone, despite Governor Abbott’s best efforts;
  • There is ‘rampant abuse’ in the ‘foster care system’;
  • The US has ‘more slaves today than ever in history’ and he lived through South Africa’s apartheid;
  • All classes are involved at some level: the pimp makes most of his money from executives earning $100k per annum, but ‘a janitor’ can purchase a child’s services from time to time, too;
  • Online recruitment is the norm. Procurers get to know a child and ask all the right questions;
  • It is not unusual for trafficked children to live with their parents and attend school daily;
  • Pimps advertise the children online: ‘You can order children the way you order pizza’.

Booyens says that the porn culture is to blame for child trafficking. Pornography is dehumanising and it objectifies not only women, but children, too.

He said that he has approached left-wing media networks for time to explain this dangerous trend, but they declined. He said that they apparently prefer to complain about Donald Trump, who, he said, has done the most of any US president to actively combat child trafficking. He said that could be a reason why the Left rails against him so much and goes on instead about his breaking up families at the border. On that subject, he said that as many as 30% of ‘families’ at the border aren’t family units at all — but traffickers and their victims. He gave credit to ICE and other law enforcement agencies, whom he said are ‘there to keep us safe’.

So far, only Fox News has agreed to have him on to explain the horrors of trafficking.

Child trafficking is a huge issue, and the Trump administration is doing everything it can to slow it down, then stop it.

All I ask is that people be aware of how destructive trafficking really is.

Booyens said that 8 Days (not to be confused with the sci-fi series) is available on Netflix and on DVD.

I will be returning to lighter subjects in my next post.

Saturday, July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Americans landing on the moon!

Marking this anniversary should have been the buzz (pun intended) of the Western world, right?

Instead, people tweeted a variety of negative remarks:

‘Who cares?’
‘This country stinks.’
‘That’s all in the past.’
‘Did it really happen?’

Even one of the commentators on ITV4 who mentioned it during the Tour de France coverage said:

Allegedly.

That’s a sad state of affairs for such a great achievement, one which I remember clearly as a schoolchild at the time. So does a Fox News correspondent:

Commemoration at the White House

I was delighted to see that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump paid the great heroes their due. As Neil Armstrong has gone to his rest, his family were invited. Good call.

Mrs Trump knocks it out of the park with this one:

I will get to Hollywood and the moon landing further down in the post, but, for now, let us recall one of Astronaut Armstrong’s quotes. Who alive then could forget the ticker tape parade, televised nationwide?

Returning to the White House commemoration, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin was thrilled:

Hollywood’s take: First Man

I have not seen this film, nor do I intend to do so.

First Man made its debut in August 2018.

As China is buying up much of Hollywood, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) asks a pertinent question, given the revisionist nature of the film:

Cotton was not alone.

Conservative columnist Don Surber also made his views known:

Hollywood made a movie about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin going to the moon. It picked a Canadian actor to play Armstrong …

Then the movie omitted the planting of the AMERICAN FLAG on the moon.

That was the sole purpose of the mission.

This flick shows Hollywood is anti-American.

The House UnAmerican Activities Committee was correct. Communist[s] were taking over Hollywood for propaganda purposes …

This week, John McCain died. I remember that one of the things that kept him alive in Hanoi was the knowledge that we landed on the moon. OK, he thought it was seven months earlier than it was, but Hanoi fed him Fake News but let the truth slip that Apollo 8 made it to the dark side of the moon.

JFK inspired us: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

He Made America Great Again.

I was 9.

Reagan Made America Great Again.

Trump Made America Great Again.

Hollywood can go to China.

Speaking of Trump, Hollywood and First Man:

As Dinesh D’Souza pointed out, the movie seems to have airbrushed out the Cold War:

Breitbart had more on Gosling on September 1:

Explaining the decision to omit the American flag-planting scene, Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who stars as astronaut Neil Armstrong, said that the landing “transcended countries and borders” and that it was a “human achievement” rather than an American one.

“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it,” Gosling said. “I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”

On September 3, 2018, Breitbart reported:

Last week, [director Damien] Chazelle dismissed criticism that the omission of the American flag was meant to be a political statement. “To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no,” the First Man director said in an interview with Variety. “My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon–particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours.”

Buzz Aldrin, the most visible member of the crew today, wasted no time in tweeting the historic photo of the American flag:

He had saluted the flag on the moon (look for his ring finger and pinkie):

The portrayal of Neil Armstrong rankled many Americans. Returning to Breitbart‘s September 1 article, fellow astronauts Aldrin and Chuck Yeager were not happy:

Aldrin indicating disapproval of the film’s anti-American sentiment would provide further embarrassment for its director Damien Chazelle, who has reportedly portrayed frontman Neil Armstrong as a “liberal progressive,” “anti-Trump,” and “non-flag waver.” When asked his opinion about such a portrayal, legendary pilot Chuck Yeager said that it would not reflect the Neil Armstrong he knew.

Yeager tweeted:

What really happened

On the 50th anniversary of the day Apollo 11 launched, Aldrin tweeted:

Even though the text is in French, those who were not alive for the ground-breaking, historic moon landing will enjoy seeing the many photos at L’Internaute, which bring back many fond memories for me.

This 20-minute film by David Woods shows the complete descent that day. Compelling viewing:

A NASA webpage features the video and gives us the following information. Yes, there was drama, too:

Explanation: It had never been done before. But with the words “You’re Go for landing”, 50 years ago this Saturday, Apollo 11 astronauts Aldrin and Armstrong were cleared to make the first try. The next few minutes would contain more than a bit of drama, as an unexpected boulder field and an unacceptably sloping crater loomed below. With fuel dwindling, Armstrong coolly rocketed the lander above the lunar surface as he looked for a clear and flat place to land. With only seconds of fuel remaining, and with the help of Aldrin and mission control calling out data, Armstrong finally found a safe spot — and put the Eagle down. Many people on Earth listening to the live audio felt great relief on hearing “The Eagle has landed”, and great pride knowing that for the first time ever, human beings were on the Moon. Combined in the featured descent video are two audio feeds, a video feed similar to what the astronauts saw, captions of the dialog, and data including the tilt of the Eagle lander. The video concludes with the panorama of the lunar landscape visible outside the Eagle. A few hours later, hundreds of millions of people across planet Earth, drawn together as a single species, watched fellow humans walk on the Moon.

Relive — or find out more about — the moon landing on a special NASA page.

Here are a few front pages. The whole country was buzzing:

If this were fake, would Buzz Aldrin and others be tweeting about it?

Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin

It seems Buzz Aldrin wishes he were younger so that he could fly to Mars:

Here he is making a visit to the pilots on a Delta aircraft:

On a more serious note, Aldrin — a practising Presbyterian — took Communion on the Apollo 11 mission, but the general public did not know.

A 2012 Guardian article has more (emphases mine):

Before Armstrong and Aldrin stepped out of the lunar module on July 20, 1969, Aldrin unstowed a small plastic container of wine and some bread. He had brought them to the moon from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder. Aldrin had received permission from the Presbyterian church’s general assembly to administer it to himself. In his book Magnificent Desolation he shares the message he then radioed to Nasa: “I would like to request a few moments of silence … and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

He then ate and drank the elements. The surreal ceremony is described in an article by Aldrin in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine: “I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.”

Not only that, Aldrin also read from the Gospel of John.

The public never found out until years later. This was because of Madalyn Murray O’Hair‘s objection to the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis:

Aldrin had originally planned to share the event with the world over the radio. However, at the time Nasa was still reeling from a lawsuit filed by the firebrand atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, resulting in the ceremony never being broadcast. The founder of American Atheists and self-titled “most hated woman in America” had taken on Nasa, as well as many other public organisation[s]. Most famously, she successfully fought mandatory school prayer and bible recitation in US public schools.

After the Apollo 8 crew had read out the Genesis creation account in orbit, O’Hair wanted a ban on Nasa astronauts practising religion on earth, in space or “around and about the moon” while on duty. She believed it violated the constitutional separation between church and state. In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin explains how astronaut Deke Slayton, who ran the Apollo 11 flight crew operations, told him to tone down his lunar communiqué. “Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general,” he advised. Looking back Aldrin writes that the communion was his way of thanking God for the success of the mission. Yet, later he hinted that he could have been more inclusive:

“Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion.
Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists.”

O’Hair’s case against Nasa eventually fizzled out, but it dramatically changed the tone of the Apollo 11 landing. Aldrin had originally intended a much more pioneering Christopher Columbus-style ceremony on the moon. That was never to be.

Apollo 8’s Genesis message was delivered on Christmas Day 1968, incidentally.

Back now to Apollo 11. Aldrin’s home church still commemorates his out of this world Holy Communion, which was a beautiful way to give thanks to God for His Son and the successful moon landing mission:

at Webster Presbyterian church – the spiritual home of many astronauts – Aldrin’s communion service is still celebrated every July, known as Lunar Communion Sunday. Pastor Helen DeLeon told me how they replay the tape of Aldrin on the moon and recite Psalm eight, which he had quoted on his return trip to Earth (“… what is man that thou art mindful of him”). The church still holds the chalice that Aldrin brought back with him. Judy Allton, a geologist and historian of Webster Presbyterian church, produced a paper, presented at a Nasa conference, arguing that communion could be an essential part of future manned space travel. She claims that rituals such as Aldrin’s communion “reinforce the homelink”.

In 2002, Aldrin did not appreciate being poked with the Bible by an irreverent moon landing denier. Aldrin punched the man. Perth Now recapped what happened:

On September 9, 2002, Aldrin was accosted by conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel and a film crew outside a Beverly Hills hotel he was lured to on the pretext of being interviewed for a Japanese children’s TV show.

The footage shows Sibrel confronting Aldrin and demanding he swear on the Bible he walked on the Moon, calling the former astronaut out for being a “thief, liar and coward”.

“You’re the one who said you walked on the Moon when you didn’t,” Sibrel says.

Aldrin is also reported to have been aggressively poked with the good book.

The 72-year-old lost his cool and punched the heckler in the jaw.

Pleading self-defence Aldrin was let off by police on the basis of an absence of visible injury and a lack of criminal record.

Believers sided with Aldrin after the regrettable affair, though it could be said his heated response to the heckling provided grist for conspiracy theorists’ mill.

On a lighter note, in 2017, Revolution magazine, which discusses machines of all types, interviewed Aldrin about the watches he and his fellow astronauts wore on the mission. It also covered watches worn by astronauts on other Apollo missions. The brand of choice? Omega:

The Tribute to Apollo 11 45th anniversary limited edition is another phenomenal demonstration of Omega’s ability to thoroughly modernize its design language while retaining a salient link to the past. The watch is configured to evoke the ref. 105.012 Speedmaster worn by Revolution UK14 cover star Buzz Aldrin when he stepped onto the Moon in 1969. While Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon, his Speedmaster was left behind in the Lunar Module whose electronic timer had failed. Meanwhile, according to Aldrin, “It was optional to wear the watch [outside of the spacecraft]. Few things are less necessary when walking around on the Moon than knowing what time it is in Houston, Texas. Nonetheless, being a watch guy, I decided to strap the Speedmaster onto my right wrist around the outside of my bulky spacesuit.”

That’s right, he made a conscious decision to strap his Omega onto his wrist because what kind of Space Cowboy would be complete without his most heroic of timepieces? This made his Speedmaster the first watch on the Moon.

Wow. I never gave the astronauts’ watches a thought, especially with regard to the moon landing.

Conclusion

May we never say the moon landing didn’t take place or that it was an unremarkable achievement.

America’s moon landing was indescribable. People all over the world who were alive at the time remember the excitement and awe they felt that day.

In perusing the Internet the other day, I ran across this tweet which has film footage from 1912 about a variety of Manhattan neighbourhoods:

It’s just under two-and-a-half minutes long and well worth watching.

The comments on the video are enlightening, too.

The vast majority discuss the lack of obesity:

There is that. Walking, as a few people stated, also helped. Furthermore, there was no central heating at the time, so houses and other buildings were much colder, adding to the calorie burn. There was no air conditioning during the summer, either.

They also weren’t eating much carbohydrate then, including breakfast cereal and cakes. Sugar was expensive back then, too:

My late grandmothers, both of whom were born at the end of the 19th century limited their carb consumption to morning toast and, if they had guests, a slice of pie or cake after dinner.

The next set of frequent comments concerned personal attire and comportment:

Unfortunately, we are where we are today:

Ugh!

One person mentioned the decline in Christian values since then.

I will add ‘Judeo-‘ to that, as a few of the neighbourhoods shown were predominantly Jewish. The point about the decline in faith and worship still stands, though.

Of course, it’s not only New York City where social standards have deteriorated. They have gone downhill everywhere in the Western world, which used to be a beacon of hope for those searching for a better life, when hard work often led to prosperity.

The generations alive today have some work to do if we want to recapture what once was with regard to dignity and integrity.

Thankfully, Abby Johnson, upon whose life the film Unplanned is based, is a staunch pro-life advocate.

However, it was not always that way.

Many people know that Johnson worked for Planned Parenthood — and, as a local clinic director, was their Employee of the Year — until she had to assist with an abortion herself.

What most of us do not know is that Johnson actually had two abortions before being employed by Planned Parenthood. These episodes are covered in the film.

After reading a Christian Post article by Brandon Showalter, ‘”Unplanned” movie will cause men to repent for mistreating, abandoning women and shift the culture’, I was amazed that any woman who went through two traumatic abortions would even want to work for Planned Parenthood.

One cannot help but think that God was trying to send her a message. When the first one did not reach her psyche, He seemed to have tried again. Incredibly, that one also failed.

These, quite possibly, involved Johnson’s two abortions, both of which involved her boyfriend, then husband, Mark.

Showalter tells us that Johnson’s first abortion took place while she was in college and partying quite a bit with Mark. The inevitable happened, and Mark offered her a lift to an abortion clinic to ‘take care of it’. He couldn’t afford to pay for her abortion, so:

Abby applied for her first credit card to pay for it herself.

Unplanned shows Ashley Bratcher, who plays Abby:

being handed a few crackers as she’s seated alongside several other dazed and traumatized women dressed in pink hospital gowns as they’re herded in and out of the procedure room at the clinic like cattle.

Abby’s father warned her about Mark, but she went ahead and married him anyway. A year later, on Valentine’s Day, he was cheating on her. She filed for divorce, then found out she was eight weeks pregnant with his baby. She went to the Planned Parenthood clinic which later employed her as its director. Perhaps she worked there to improve standards, because this was her experience (emphases mine):

she’s told that because she’s only eight weeks pregnant she qualifies for a chemical abortion that she can perform by herself at home.

Actress Ashley Bratcher turns in a stunningly convincing performance as Abby Johnson. She fully inhabits the role. And in my view, the most unforgettable scene was how she portrayed the grisly, excruciating night of desperation that a young, panicked Abby endures as she bleeds out and discards the pieces of her second pregnancy. One can palpably feel her anguish as she writhes in intense pain, sobbing all alone in the fetal position on her bathroom floor.

Her ordeal was followed by several weeks of severe abdominal cramps and blood clots, health risks Planned Parenthood never warned her about when they gave her the RU-486 abortion pill couched in professional-sounding assurances that she’d be just fine.

Wow.

So she went to work at a place that could have killed her. She also encouraged, even indirectly, other women to have abortions there.

Thankfully, the Lord got through to her mind and heart in the end.

Fortunately, everything ended well. Showalter elaborates:

It’s extra hopeful in that she was fortunate to find a good man in her second husband, Doug, a stay-at-home dad who I interviewed in the latest CP podcast, and with whom she’s now expecting their eighth child.

The one thing Showalter does tell us is that his reaction to the abortions portrayed in the film — Abby’s and the one in which she had to participate — is not unusual for other men who have also seen Unplanned:

The film’s promoters told me that my visceral response to the movie was something they’d seen from many men at other prescreenings around country. If that’s true, then I dare say we are on the cusp of a massive shift in the national conversation about abortion. And it won’t just be about this or that legal restriction and the usual toxic politics we have trained ourselves to tune out or compartmentalize as just another issue.

Go see “Unplanned” this weekend. Take several friends with you. I’d advise taking a box or two of tissues. This one is not to be missed.

Make sure your sons, nephews and their friends see Unplanned. Just because it’s about abortion does not mean it’s ‘only’ a ‘woman’s’ film.

Unplanned, the movie based on ex-Planned Parenthood Employee of the Year Abby Johnson’s experience, premiered a week ago on Friday, March 29, 2019 and came in fourth out of new releases. It even showed in fewer theatres than those films:

And it has an R rating because of the abortion scene — not sex:

Even more amazing about Unplanned‘s success is that major television networks refused to allow adverts for it:

NewsBusters reported that family networks also refused to air the advertising. Oh, the irony! Emphases mine below:

Several mainstream channels like HGTV, Lifetime, and Hallmark have straight up rejected advertising for Pureflix’s new movie, so if you’ve been wondering why you’ve only seen ads for the film on Fox News Channel, the promotional fix is in. Oddly enough, this is coming from channels that we regularly consider as providing wholesome, family friendly material.

THR reported that, besides FNC, “every other mainstream television outlet has declined to air the ad.” Among these, the Travel Channel, Cooking Channel, HGTV and Food Network, — all owned by Discovery — “refused to sell ad time for Unplanned due to the ‘sensitive nature’ of the movie,” Unplanned’s promoters claimed. Unplanned producer John Sullivan claimed, “We were looking to spend money, but they didn’t want to get involved.”

The Hallmark Channel and USA Network (NBC Universal) also firmly rejected the film’s ads, objecting to the controversial nature of the movie. Another producer, Joe Knapp, surmised, “Most of the networks didn’t go into detail beyond citing the subject matter of the film and that they didn’t want to get into politics.”

Yeah, maybe. Though it’s not like some of these networks have ever shied away from promoting a certain left wing bias. Lifetime for example, (owned by A&E, a Walt Disney/Hearst Communications Venture) “previously promoted an interview with Scarlett Johansson where she pitches Planned Parenthood.” Sounds about right.

Twitter proved problematic, too:

Twitter reinstated the account. Even the US ambassador to Germany noticed:

I hope this happens:

And this:

Abby Johnson, who became a pro-life activist once she saw the horrors of abortion for herself at Planned Parenthood, appeared on Fox and Friends last Saturday:

She says:

I worked at Planned Parenthood for eight years, rising through the ranks from volunteer escort, to clinic counselor to clinic director. I was awarded the Employee of the Year prize in 2008 and was one of the youngest clinic directors in the country, setting an example of how to run a clinic to churn out as many abortions – the biggest money maker – as I could. Then it all changed when I was asked to assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion

The fetus was 13-weeks-old and I could easily see it’s head, arms, and legs. The abortion instrument – a suction tube – was on the screen as well. The baby jumped away from it but it was all for naught. The abortionist turned on the suction and I saw that baby get sucked apart right in front of me on the screen and inches from the probe I was holding.

In mere seconds, that fetus’ life ended and the screen only showed a black, empty uterus. The life that was there just a couple minutes ago was gone. In that moment, I saw for myself what I was supporting for the last eight years and it broke me.

How do you deal with something so profound that completely turns your worldview upside down? Everything I knew to be true was flipped. The lies exposed. I cannot have just seen that. I’ve been told this isn’t a baby, that it’s just tissue. How could not have known?

My life was forever changed. I walked out of Planned Parenthood a week later, after failing to justify what I had seen. I couldn’t stop thinking about that baby I saw on the screen and what had happened

Two directors – both men – in Hollywood approached me five years ago about turning my book, “Unplanned,” into a film. It tells the story of what I saw that day on the ultrasound screen, how I started working at Planned Parenthood, and what happened when I walked away. This is my story, my voice and I was surprised that someone in Hollywood wanted to tell it. It’s not a mainstream story but it’s my story. And it’s the story of many, many abortion workers, those who have already left the industry and those who are still in it.

You won’t be able to unsee what I saw if you go see the movie, which I implore you to do. But you also won’t be able to say you didn’t know what abortion is or what happens when a woman walks into Planned Parenthood. If you are pro-life or pro-choice, you will know exactly what you are supporting.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the life story of Ashley Bratcher who plays Abby Johnson in Unplanned. Ashley was almost aborted herself — at her grandmother’s insistence.

For those in the US who would like to see Unplanned, I would suggest doing so sooner rather than later. There is likely to be a shutdown of it, just as there was with another top box office abortion film, Gosnell, in October 2018.

Do not wait. Please take sons and/or nephews with you, too — not just daughters, their friends and nieces. More to follow on men’s reactions to Unplanned in a future post.

A new film about the reality of abortion clinics makes its US debut on Friday, March 29, 2019.

Unplanned tells the true story of Abby Johnson, a former abortion clinic manager. Ms Johnson won a Planned Parenthood Employee of the Year award. Then, one day, she saw just what an abortion entailed — and that the baby was very much alive and moving. She subsequently resigned and became a pro-life advocate.

This moving trailer provides a synopsis:

Unplanned is rated ‘R’ because it shows the graphic detail behind an abortion.

On February 22, Life Site News reported (emphases mine):

“UNPLANNED is an ‘R’ rated film which has no MPAA cautions for profanity, nudity, sex or violenceexcept for violence directly associated with the abortion process,” said writers/directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, reported Movieguide

“Ironically, the MPAA seems to be indirectly endorsing the pro-life position: namely that abortion is an act of violence,” they added. They do not plan to contest the rating.

A double irony of the rating did not go past Solomon and Konzelman.

“Even more ironically, as a result of the MPAA’s decision to give us a ‘Restricted’ rating, many teenage women in this country who can legally obtain an actual abortion without parental permission will be prohibited from going to see our film containing simulated images of abortion, without obtaining parental permission,” they said. 

Abby Johnson, a pro-life advocate, had this to say about the film:

We are pushing the boundaries of what has never been before on such a wide scale by showing America exactly what abortion is — and abortion is disturbing. It’s violent. No one will walk away from seeing this movie and say ‘I didn’t know.’

I would urge everyone with teenagers to get them to the cinema at the end of March to see this film. The Unplanned website lists a number of US locations, so please click the +More box to see additional towns and cities where it will be shown.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, Americans were told that abortion is simply ‘a medical procedure’ to remove ‘a mass of cells’. Now we know better.

I would also highly recommend that readers watch Ashley Bratcher’s interview on Fox News. Bratcher plays Abby Johnson in the movie. She did not have time to speak with Johnson, because she got a last-minute call to pack her bags — for seven weeks — and head out to Oklahoma to begin filming.

While she was in Oklahoma, Bratcher received a call from her mother, who told her that she — Ashley — was almost aborted herself. Her mother and father were in their late teens and did not feel ready for a child. Her father pawned a family shotgun to pay for the abortion. Ashley says that she finds it odd that the price for a human life would have been a shotgun.

In the end, Ashley’s mother felt sick on the operating table and said she could not go through with the abortion.

Oh, the irony of it all — but what a blessing!

Bratcher says that Unplanned has all sorts of elements to it and that it is not a judgemental film, but rather one of hope, forgiveness — and grace.

Most of my American readers who are pro-life will remember the horrifying case of Dr Kermit Gosnell, a serial abortionist, who was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder and felonies various.

Actor and director Nick Searcy has an excellent article on the doctor whose medical procedures on babies shocked a nation: ‘Gosnell 2: The Exoneration’. He directed the 2018 film, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.

Let’s look at Gosnell’s convictions first (emphases mine):

On May 13, 2013, Dr Kermit Gosnell was convicted in Philadelphia of 3 counts of first degree murder for snipping, with scissors, the necks of infants who had been born alive, and 21 counts of felony late-term abortion, among other charges. His unlicensed staff members were convicted of “theft by deception” for performing medical procedures — abortions — for which they were untrained and unqualified. Stephen Massof, an unlicensed medical school graduate, pleaded guilty to two counts of third degree murder for snipping the spines of babies born alive according to Dr. Gosnell’s instructions. Many other members of his staff testified, in exchange for immunity, that they had participated in countless acts of “snipping.”

Ugh! The nation was shocked.

Six years later — 2019 — and we read that New York State recently passed a law that allows abortion up to birth. That is infanticide. It will probably be done via one, if not two, injections of poison inside the baby’s torso. Any babies undergoing this will be suffering a slow 24- to 48-hour tortured death.

Infanticide is also up for consideration in a handful of other states. I will have more on this as time permits.

Kermit Gosnell would say that he accurately predicted this would happen all along, as the Townhall article states. After his conviction, he said:

I continue to feel optimistic of the eventual outcome…the vindication of what I’ve done, why I’ve done it and how [it] will become accepted within my lifetime.

He was not wrong.

Further to the New York law, anyone can participate in a late term abortion, à la Gosnell:

He was convicted of killing breathing infants that had already been born. It is now legal in New York to kill an infant that survives an abortion.

He was convicted of allowing untrained and unlicensed non-medical personnel to perform abortions. It is now legal in New York for non-physicians or any “health professionals” (undefined) to perform abortions.

He was convicted of performing at least 21 late-term abortions past the legal limit of 24 weeks. It is now legal in New York to terminate a pregnancy up until the due date. In New York, there is no longer any such thing as a “late-term” abortion.

Nick Searcy is no doubt right with this prediction:

I would bet that Gosnell is now in his prison cell preparing his appeal for when the State of [Pennsylvania] follows suit and passes their own version of New York’s law.

Searcy’s article points out the totalitarian, Communist regimes that also murdered on a massive scale. Those rulers and the authorities under them believed they alone had control over life and death. He says that Gosnell feels the same way.

Ultimately, he says, none of these people — from totalitarians, to Gosnell, to New York State legislators — believe in God, because, if they did, they would know that a child is His creation. Because of this, we should be mindful of what the future brings:

What the Left ultimately wants to acquire is the power over life and death at ANY age, and that is why they have decriminalized Kermit Gosnell.

And history shows that they will not stop there.

This came up for discussion last week on a Fox News show. The star of Searcy’s movie said that Gosnell will indeed be vindicated. Check out the bit about Oregon — insurance will cover such a murder:

Here is the powerful trailer for Searcy’s film, which premiered on October 12, 2018:

One week after it opened, The Daily Wire had a good article on the film’s trajectory.

It was a box office phenomenon during that time:

“Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer” surpassed box office expectations upon its release last week by entering into the Top 10 grossing films with a revenue of $1,235,000 on just 668 screens.

Then, cinemas across the United States stopped showing it:

Despite the solid performance for an independent film of this sort, nearly 200 theaters have inexplicably dropped the film, including those in major cities where it was performing the strongest. Coming into its second week, “Gosnell” has dropped from 668 theaters to 480 theaters — a full 188 theater drop, 15 of which were top-performing multiplexes.

John Sullivan, the film’s marketing director and one of its producers, told The Daily Wire that it was probably because of the film’s hard-hitting content:

“It’s hard not to believe it isn’t about the content of the movie,” he added. While some of the smaller theaters may have dropped “Gosnell” to make way for “Halloween” this weekend (a major release projected at number 1), the same could not be said for multiplexes housing 20 or more theaters where the film performed in the top 10.

Sullivan and others involved in Gosnell had also received reports that these multiplexes were actively discouraging customers from seeing the film:

Conversely, the filmmakers have received varying reports of theaters actively preventing customers from buying a ticket by not advertising the film or declaring it “sold out” before capacity is reached. While some of those situations may be the result of human error, Sullivan says the apparent blackballing is too consistent to go ignored

He continued: “One report out of Nashville had people being told the movie sold out simply because they didn’t have the staff to cover the theater, and they chose our theater to do that to. Why? Too many things have stacked up and it just doesn’t smell right.”

Sullivan directed the top-grossing “2016: Obama’s America,” and while that film certainly faced some resistance, the box office numbers were too strong for theater chains to simply toss it aside.

In a public statement on Facebook, the film’s producer, Phelim McAleer, said he had received “worrying reports from across the country” regarding customers’ inability to buy tickets.

People are saying that they are going to the box office and being told that the film isn’t being shown when it is,” McAleer said. “We are being told that people are also not able to buy tickets online. Some theaters are trying to cut this down, trying to exclude people from going to see it.”

The Daily Wire article also included first-hand accounts of people attesting to the fact that they could not buy tickets — or that, when they had, tickets were cancelled and customers refunded.

I have no explanation other than to say that, when movie theatres try to prevent Americans from seeing a successful, truthful film about a brutal, unrepentant abortionist, it’s time to start questioning the moral shift that is going on in the United States today.

If there is more about the mysterious disappearance of Gosnell, because there’s sure to be a back story to it, I’ll write a follow up.

People say that Twitter is a waste of time.

However, over the past year, it has become quite the source for analysis of news and current events, especially the long threads of multiple tweets.

People also tweet the occasional Bible verse, such as Ezekiel 25:17 — a verse to ponder:

Many readers unfamiliar with the Bible will remember this verse from the film Pulp Fiction (language alert at link).

It is worth reading, rereading and keeping at the forefront of one’s mind, as it is one of the most powerful verses in the Old Testament.

A new film — Paul, Apostle of Christ — is now showing in cinemas across the United States and parts of Canada.

Although St Paul is the principal character, it tells the story of how St Luke came to write Acts. If you’ve been following my Forbidden Bible Series on Acts, one of the most recent entries discussed when Luke joined Paul, Silas and Timothy in Troas (Acts 16).

The film looks at Paul’s imprisonment in Rome before his martyrdom and Luke’s reaching him there (excerpted):

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is the story of two men. Luke, as a friend and physician, risks his life when he ventures into the city of Rome to visit Paul, who is held captive in Nero’s darkest, bleakest prison cell … Before Paul’s death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the church.

Bound in chains, Paul’s struggle is internal … Alone in the dark, he wonders if he has been forgotten . . . and if he has the strength to finish well.

Two men struggle against a determined emperor and the frailties of the human spirit in order to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and spread their message to the world.

The content as well as costumes, acting and lighting look terrific:

James Faulkner of Downton Abbey fame plays Paul. Jim Caviezel plays Luke. He played Jesus in the 2004 Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ. Although Gibson was not involved with this film, Andrew Hyatt the director appears to have taken a few leaves out of his notebook in general, including an international cast and a dramatic soundtrack.

The film is rated PG-13, because there are violent persecution scenes.

The film’s website has more videos, resources and clergy endorsements.

Easter is a perfect time to see a depiction of what happened in the earliest years of the Church in Rome thanks to one of the greatest Apostles that ever lived. If anyone has seen it, please feel free to comment below. I would be most interested in reading what you have to say.

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