Monday, June 30, 2008

ZenTiger Poor Nicky


Poor old Nicky Hager. A couple of things blogosphere: Nicky is a he. And his last name is Hager. Presumably no relation to Hagar the Horrible, due to the difference in spelling. He does have his own wiki page though: Nicky Hager.

See also: Nicky in action

ZenTiger Labour Naturals at Gutter Politics

Nicky Hager had a major blockbusting scoop of the century: the National Party use consultants that help with election strategies. The great evil crime though is that these particular consultants have suggested gutter politics campaigns to others in the past.

So why is this so funny, oops, sorry, serious?

Firstly, the implication that Key will accept all of their advice unconditionally and without thought. Err, maybe he will, but maybe he wont. Try fielding some real examples based on today Nicky. Actually, Nicky does come out with one clear example. He mentions how if you can frame the debate from the outset, and drop in negative references, you can influence voter opinion quite strongly, in an unfair way. The clearest example seen so far in the 2008 election is Nicky Hager's own article which spends a lot of time bad mouthing Crosby/Textor and then suggesting Key *might* be using them for advice in the election, and therefore, the hapless voter has been manipulated into voting for National. Brilliant. Do you have shares in the "Hollow Men" or something Hager?

Secondly, that Labour are such naturals at gutter politics, that they don't actually need to hire any-one. At least, that's what I'm presuming because look at some of Labour's past efforts. One in particular springs to mind:

The Great Eviction Notice Scam 2005
In this election period, the Labour Party sent fake "eviction notices" to several thousand individual State house tenants as part of a housing policy promotion. This action had two consequences for the State Services. Firstly, it raised trust issues as tenants were suspicious that a government agency had given their private information to a political party, and, secondly, Housing New Zealand staff had to manage calls from worried and scared tenants.

Oh yes, a marvelous bit of gutter politics thought up by the Labour Cabinet, or perhaps even Helen Clark herself? Trying to scare state housing tenants into thinking National were arranging to evict them from their homes. Then there is the issue of how exactly Labour managed to get the mail list from the Dept of Housing. Another leaked email problem Nicky? Oh for a good investigative journalist...

So, will Labour come out and declare all ideas for gutter politics were entirely their own, given the left wing supporters like Hager seem to think retaining consultants to come up with election advertising strategies is a big negative?

Somehow, it's actually refreshing to think that what Labour do naturally in the field of gutter politics, National are forced to outsource.

--ZenTiger


Related Link: Who leaked the emails providing the eviction notice address list?

Related link: Hager Sings for His Supper

Related Links: Dirty Tricks Campaign already started - By Hager!

Declaration: I hope all political parties refrain from gutter politics this election - leave it to the blogs! Also, I am not a member of the National Party, have never voted for the National Party and based on current performance, are am not looking too likely for voting for the National Party this coming election.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

ZenTiger The Day After Yesterday

Scientists have finally computed the effects of peak oil, global warming, global dimming, CFCs, CFL's, sunspots, the French Nuclear Testing, the population explosions, chicken flu, SARS, AIDS, drinking too much, second hand smoke, mobile phones, fast food, imperialism, the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the creation of excess yogurt tubs.

The data conclusively shows the world will end the day after yesterday. Around lunchtime. Possibly earlier if an additional 6.3 million pottles of yogurt are eaten for breakfast.

They acknowledged that there is a very small chance they could be wrong, by up to 6 hours (GMT) but thought on the strength of their scientific model and the full and total endorsement of the Greens party on the analysis of their published papers, that another research grant for $3.5 million dollars would undoubtedly lead to a breakthrough device to save the planet within 5 years.

Meanwhile a French team were close to announcing a break though vaccination that would resolve the looming environmental crisis.

A spokesman for the Association of Renowned Scientists For Ever Hoping Overseas and Local Environments Survive (ARSEHOLES) said the studies were all pretty much moot, as Asteroid RU1-2 was scheduled to hit the Earths atmosphere later this week. Probably. They cautioned citizens not to panic too early.

---------------------------
Something I wrote on my old blog in response to the never ending variations of death and destruction scenarios used daily to justify radical action. I guess if you keep at it, one day you'll be right. Although, ironically, some of the consequences of implementing the suggested actions might just be the thing that pushes us over the edge?

And here's a really good example of this: A Species Threatened

Lucia Poll on rejection of Lisbon Treaty by Irish

Why did the Irish vote to reject the Lisbon Treaty? The question was asked and answered. And the answer was fear of the liberalisation of abortion.
A Red C poll, on behalf of the Irish Sunday Business Post, has been released showing that simpler and more visceral matters were in the minds of the Irish on June 12. Although the pro-life warnings about abortion were dismissed by the Electoral Commission, 58 percent of those who voted against the treaty believed that it would make abortion more likely in Ireland, against 28 percent who disagreed. Of those who believed Lisbon made abortion more likely, a massive 74 percent voted No, the Sunday Business Post reported.

A Eurobarometer survey found that fears about the economy or unemployment were not mentioned, and just 1 per cent of survey responses showed the No vote was in response to immigration.
Related Link: Irish Who Voted Against Lisbon Treaty Had Abortion Fears in Mind

And the Irish get a mention in: Happy Birthday Magna Carta

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fletch Helen's Motorcade blocks Disabled Spaces

Well, I really almost couldn't believe this. Helen's motorcade, not content with whizzing through towns at breakneck speed has now taken to parking where they like - in fact, blocking disabled car spaces. And disabled people trying to park in aforementioned spaces told to move on or face arrest.

Marshall Leaf's wife Elizabeth tried to use a disabled space but a young policeman demanded she move on, and threatened to arrest her if she did not get out the way.

And she wasn't the only one -

That caused an 81-year-old Parkinson's patient to struggle 200 metres down a wet street after attending a concert in the Town Hall.

Oh, well done Helen...in election year, too. I've often driven past disabled parking spaces at Sylvia Park and wished I could park there but have had to drive on and find somewhere else.
As usual, one law for some, another law for the rest of us.

ZenTiger Cheese and the domino effect

Well, it had to happen. I decided to get Pizza last night, and Domino's is my favourite. At only $7.90 each, not a bad deal either. But then the guy taking my order said "And would you like Cheese with that?" and I finally read the fine print on my voucher (click image below to expand). At least whale meat is now affordable, albeit even if a bit buttery.



Related Link: Rancid butter story has nothing really to do with my post, but I thought I'd link to something for link junkies

[Note: Just so Domino's don't ring up to credit me with $10,000 of free advertising, I'll state the obvious: joking! (And I can tell you know, but anonymous commenters are often too stupid to know. I mean, they can't even spell their name.]

Friday, June 27, 2008

ZenTiger DPRK turn off the air conditioning

Friday afternoon saw the DPRK blow up a cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Destroying the air conditioning is a low cost way of avoiding further heat from the trade sanctions. Are they playing games?

If I were playing poker, I wouldn't be folding right now. Call? Nah, I raise you a cooling rod.

Related Link: There goes the air conditioning

Lucia Friday night free for all

Now that the longest night is past, it's still getting dark really early. I also feel sorry for anyone having to come home in tonight's weather! Though, I did manage to get some washing dry on the line today with all the wind.

Lucia Casual Sex Harmful to Women

A new study has found that casual sex is harmful to women. Pretty self-evident, really, but it appears studies like this are necessary to counter the Sex in the City syndrome that is spreading. Sex in the City sells the lie that women can act like men and can go out and have casual sex without consequence to their well-being. Well, newsflash! Women are not like men, no matter how much contraception they take!

Related Links: Study Finds Casual Sex is Emotionally Harmful to Women
The Interior Design of Sex and the City Reflects a Culture in Ruins

Lucia Chris Trotter: What went wrong?

Chris Trotter extols the economic benefits the people have gained under the current Labour government that should have locked in loyal support. But loyal support is nowhere to be seen. What's gone wrong, he asks? A taxi driver tells him.
The trouble with this government," he said, "is that it is always telling us what to do."
There ya go. Throwing money around will only get you so far. Once you start trying to be overly controlling, any money or gifts given will count for naught. That's just as true for individual relationships as it is for governments. You can't buy love.

Related link : How to build real majorities

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lucia John Key on Smacking

Colin Espiner has picked up on the strange position National seems to be putting itself into over the anti-smacking legislation. This morning I read in the Dom Post that John Key had said that National might overturn the legislation if good parents were criminalised and so far he hadn't seen any evidence of that.

Obviously to Key, having police turn up on a parent's doorstep to question them about smacking little Johnny is of no consequence, or at this point, Key seems confident that he can avert that point. But, at the same time, he's trying to gain all the traction he can with the latest referendum on smacking that Helen Clark doesn't want put on ballot at the coming election.
Just an update on the “smacking” legislation. I was intrigued today to see National’s leader John Key leading off questions in the House today on the timing of a referendum over the issue. National further followed this up with slots during the general debate this afternoon.

I think this is dangerous territory for National. Key appears to believe he can slate the Government for deciding not to hold a referendum on whether or not smacking should be a criminal offence with this year’s general election, while at the same time supporting the legislation the referendum seeks to overturn.

Key today accused Prime Minister Helen Clark of “suppressing the will of the New Zealand people” by holding the referendum by postal ballot some time next year, rather than at the election. Does this mean he will follow the “will of the people” and overturn Sue Bradford’s child discipline law if National wins the election?
Somehow, I don't think the will of the people is relevant to Key unless it is favourable. And so far, National seems to be in most people's eyes much better than the current Labour Government. And how could it not? But unless I see something definite about repealing the repeal, I will not vote for them. The smacking legislation is my measuring stick of trustworthiness.

Related link:National’s position on smacking confusing

ZenTiger Market Fundy Mentals


I've been lampooned over at the Fundy Post for my crazy ideas on the market. Fundy Post pointed out my apparently insane comment:

Finally, there is Zen Tiger, who thinks the Consumer should choose.

I tried to gamely defend the idea that the consumer, ultimately should get to choose what product they wish to buy with their money, but was shot down in flames:

There is no point in consumer choice if one option is markedly better than the other for all of us,


perhaps I'm taking this out of context? Let me add his rider clause:

There is no point in consumer choice if one option is markedly better than the other for all of us, but is sold at fabulous prices because the manufacturers know it will last longer than their usual product and so gain them less revenue.

Well, to me the last part of that idea is really a separate issue about market competition or at worst, price fixing - something that is only effective in a monopolistic situation, which ironically, would be more likely to occur by enforcing the first part of the idea. Or maybe you could go down the "truth in advertising" route?

Now, we were talking about the new light bulbs but ideas are important. Does the Fundy Market Mentals stand up to deeper scrutiny? Any-one game to discuss?

Just remember - if we leave the left in Government we might get a lot more people deciding which options are better for all of us - consumer choice be damned.

--ZenTiger


As well as the link to the source, here's where I came across my skewering: No Minister - Brains before Beauty.

And perhaps related: Ban the Bulb - Comments (and photo) from BBC News. The comments include:

I believe traditional light bulbs should be banned and there should be a fine for anyone who uses them after the date in which is declared. This mainly is because that the new energy saving light bulbs save so much more energy with the same amount of light produced. It is not expensive and it would save this high energy demanding country a considerable amount of money and less pollution through oil and coal. In addition I also believe that petrol prices are too high as cause of burning oil for electricity.
Sara Simpson, Norwich, England

The sad truth of most environmentalists is that in promoting energy efficient technologies, they rarely present information on the manufacture of those technologies. How much energy is consumed in manufacturing a single CFL, compared to the standard incandescent? I notice that statistic is significantly absent here. Do the energy savings of the bulbs outweigh the energy use to manufacture and ship to end-user? If not you've just off-shored your energy consumption.
Josh Berkow, Buffalo USA

I use energy saving bulbs where I can but find that it is difficult to use them in existing fittings because of their size. What about putting pressure on light fitting manufacturers to design for energy saving bulbs?
Mike Cleator, Mansfield UK

While incandescent light bulbs do use much more electricity than compact fluorescents, what Dr. Prescott chooses to ignore is the quality of the light they produce. Incandescent lamps produce a white light spectrum that is nearly equivalent to that of the sun, whereas fluorescent bulbs always have certain colours missing, even if they are the so called "sunlight" or "full spectrum" type. The chemical composition doesn't allow most red and green frequencies to be produced by a fluorescent light; even if it has been modified, it will never equal the output spectrum of an incandescent lamp.
Marit, Ithaca, New York, USA

Lucia Hilaire Belloc on Capitalism, it's parasite Socialism and Slavery

Ever wondered why Labour and National seem so much the same? Could it be that socialism and capitalism are two sides of the same coin. It certainly appears that way to me. Many National supporters expect National to save NZ when they get elected. I think they'll be disappointed.

Here's Hilaire Belloc on capitalism, socialism and slavery. Just a snippet from his book that I thought worth putting up and calling attention to.
If it were true that economic circumstances mainly decided the fate of society (and that is a more respectable error than the mechanical, for every human economic system or discovery or adaptation, proceeds from the mind) then we might waste our time, as so many do today, on discussing economic tendencies as determining the future of man. But it is not true that economic circumstance molds our destiny. Industrial Capitalism, for instance, did not develop of itself: it was the slow product of false religion. It arose out of the Reformation; and in particular from the influence of Calvin. But for the Reformation that economic arrangement would not be troubling us today. Its root is still in religion; a change in religion would kill it and its attendant parasite called Socialism.

Again, chattel slavery in the West slowly disappeared under the influence of the Catholic Church. There are those who regret its disappearance; the majority of us have been taught to approve its disappearance: at any rate it disappeared.

A group of intellectuals have argued that the gradual action of a Catholicism had no such effect upon the pagan world, and that the slow dissolution of slavery (it took more than a thousand years) was a function of material environment. They are wrong The old, absolute, pagan slavery which seemed essential to civilized society slowly dissolved because it was incompatible with the Catholic doctrine. It was not directly condemned by the Church, but it proved indirectly unable to live in an atmosphere not pagan. It had to be modified; and once it began to be modified it had started on its long road to dissolution: the slave became a serf, the serf a peasant. And by just so much as society is sinking back into paganism today, by just so much the institution of slavery begins to reappear in the new laws regulating labor.
Related Link: Survivals and New Arrivals: The Old and New Enemies of the Catholic Church

Lucia Gay NZ raises abolishing Citizens Initiated Referenda

What about New Zealand's wider future, though, beyond our own communities and their legislative needs? I have a few ideas for additional intermediate reforms to New Zealand's political structures, including the abolition of the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 and the establishment of a written constitution for New Zealand to safeguard our human rights and civil liberties.
Related Link: Our place in NZ's future ~ GayNZ

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lucia Gay mayo ad pulled in Britain



The amazing thing about this ad, is not so much the gay kiss, but that:
Though complaints were registered that the commercial was unsuitable for children to view, the ad would have been banned from running during children's television programming because of laws in Great Britain that restrict commercials for products high in fat, salt and sugar.
Related Link: Heinz sells mayo with homosexual kiss
TV ad includes deli man as 'mum,' smooch before work

Lucia Authentic Feminism in History

The role of women in history is greatly misunderstood. It is presumed that because it was only over the last hundred years that women the right to vote in many places in the world, and because the "right" to abortion has been granted, that women in the past have always been oppressed far more than they are now. Unfortunately, this is not quite true.

Not everything progresses, and in fact there has been a regression in the rights and position of women over the past many centuries. For instance, it is often assumed that what happened in the "dark ages" was regressive, yet during this time, in direct contrast to the pagans around them, Catholic Christians treated women in a way that was unheard of. Women even voted! Motherhood was elevated to the sacred and each child, each person was valued not for what they could contribute, but valued because God valued each and every human being. Unfortunately this situation has been reversing over time, and will most probably get worse before it gets better.

Last week, a Hand Mirror author, ex-expat, said:
Perhaps an avenue that pro-life advocates may want to mull over when talking about abortion, as aside from contraception having a society in which pregnancy and parenthood is valued and supported would likely encourage more women to choose the baby option than banning the practice altogether.
As I said at the time, I've been thinking about this very thing for a long time, and also writing about it in bits and pieces over the years. But I'd like to write a post that answers the proposition definitively. Unfortunately the only way I can do that is to continue to write in bits and pieces and then link everything together.

So to that end, I'm putting up the following comment by Poorclear, a commenter from the Being Frank website on the the influence of the Catholic Church on the Role of Women in History. It's long comment, but well worth reading and is reproduced here with the writer's permission. The comment is a summary of the book, Women in the Age of Cathedrals by Regine Pernoud, which is currently out of print, and was used as notes to a talk on that subject. At the end of the post are a number of links to more reading.

THE INFLUENCE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN HISTORY

The particular nature of the Christian revelation and the emerging Catholic Church brought about a progressive liberation and flowering of women in European history until the 13th Century. After that, the gains of Christianity were gradually eroded with a desire to emulate once again the ancient Roman and Greek worlds. The feminism that emerges anew in the 20th Century lacks many of the healthy characteristics of an authentic feminism that flourished, despite what many might imagine, in the middle ages.

France as a nation begins with Clovis, the king, largely through the influence of his wife Clotilda. She was instrumental in the conversion of her husband to Christianity. The Roman empire had floundered, the only remains of order was the unity between bishops throughout France. With Clovis’ conversion, he got the support of the bishops. Gregory of Tours records the Queen’s pleadings with the reluctant king:

The gods you venerate are nothing, as they are unable to provide for the needs of others. They are idols made of wood, stone or metal … They are magicians, their power does not have a divine origin. The God who must be worshipped is he whose Word brought out of nothing the heavens, the earth, the sea and all they contain … It is by his will that the fields produce their harvests, the trees their fruits, the grapevines their grapes. It is by his hand that the human race was created. Thanks to his liberality, all creation has been set to serve man, is submitted to him and showers him with its blessings.

The king wanted proof of God’s divinity. Clotilda bore his first son, insisted he be baptized and had the Church draped in beautiful cloths to touch her husband. The child was baptized and received the name Ingomer, but died a few days later. Clotilda’s reaction is recorded: “I thank Almighty God, Creator of all things, who has deigned to honour my unworthiness by opening his kingdom to this child to whom I gave birth. My soul is not touched by pain, for I know that, taken from the world in the innocence of his baptism, my son is being nourished by the contemplation of God.”

Her second son, Chlodomer was also very sick after birth but recovered “thanks to his mother’s prayers.” Clovis himself became Catholic after invoking ‘Clotilda’s God’ when his own strength was defeated. With him came 3000 soldiers, and the ruler was united with his people by religion. It is important that Clotilda was Catholic and not Arian, like the barbarians from the north.

Clovis and Clotilda made their residence at Lutetia (in modern Paris) and met the famous virgin Genevieve (who was 70 years old when they were married and 89 when she died.) At the age of 28, she had prophesied to the Parisians not to flee the invading Huns, because they would not reach Paris. She was proved true and this established her reputation as far as Simon Stylites in Syria.

In the sixth century in Italy, Theodelinda of Bavaria married Agilulf, an Arian and succeeded in having her son Adaloald baptized Catholic, leading in the end to the conversion of Northern Italy to the Christian faith. In Spain, the duke of Toledo, Leovigild, restored royal authority and married a Catholic in 573, Theodosia, who converted him to Catholicism (she was the sister of three bishops). 20 years later in England in 597, Bertha of Kent succeeded in having King Athelberht baptized. To this we could add mention of the nuns in Germany who ardently helped St. Boniface and the first Russian convert, Olga, princess of Kiev, and the Baltic countries who owed their conversion to Hedwig of Poland.
The emergence of women in European history coincides with the emergence of Christianity and is intrinsically linked to it.

We can see the nature of the emerging liberation of women by examining the legal situation in the ancient Roman Empire and contrasting it to the Middle Ages.

Women were not the subject of Roman law. A woman’s personal condition, relationships with parents or husband, all fell within the competence of the father, father-in-law or husband, who was the all powerful chief. Women were only objects. Women exercised no political role nor administrative function in the assembly of citizens or the magistracy or the tribunals. They could take part in feasts, spectacles and banquets. The father’s power over the life and death of children was total. His will in who she was to marry was very important. Only he could take her life if she was guilty of adultery, while the husband could kill her accomplice. A son’s adultery was only punished in the later empire and this by the return of the wife’s dowry. Only in the later empire was their any protection for women against being kidnapped or raped.

The preaching of the gospel contained an amazing newness with regard to the equal dignity of women:

“The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she is guilty of adultery too.” (Mk 10:11-12; Mt. 19:9)

Jesus gave the doctrine of the coming worship of God in spirit and in truth to a Samaritan woman; he had refused to condemn a woman caught in adultery but merely commanded her: “Go away and sin no more”; and he first appeared to women after the Resurrection.

This had profound effect on the first few centuries of the history of Christianity: for example, in the Petit Larousse dictionary, the names given for the second and third centuries contain only 3-4 men, but 21 women. 19 of them are saints, who are remembered by the Church, while the names of emperors have been forgotten. Almost all are young women or girls who died for their faith: Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Catherine, Margaret, Eulalia etc.

In the days between the apostles and the Church fathers, it is women who were honoured by the Church. In a page of the martyrs of Lyons, Blandina, a slave girl, is alongside Bishop St. Pothinus of Smyrna. As a slave she could have been put to death at any time by a pagan master without thought – but she is elevated in the Church’s memory for her death for Jesus Christ.

Agnes, Cecilia and Lucy were killed for refusing to marry those designated by their fathers, because God had called them to holy virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

At this time, Roman fathers might only let one girl live (the eldest), though he would keep his healthy sons to serve the military. Each boy received a first name, while the eldest girl had only the father’s family name. Cornelia’s brothers are Publius Cornelius, Gaius Cornelius etc. The attitude where a daughter would refuse her father’s marriage plans was radical in the Roman world. The defiance earned them their deaths.

In 390, the father lost his right in law to kill his children. In the Roman world the father could have killed his children after birth, or try to kill them in the womb. Christianity upheld the right to live for every child from the earliest time in the womb. The Christian respect for the life of a baby was a new thing in the ancient world.

Married women had always enjoyed some status in the ancient world. But Christ extends it to all: “There are eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 19:12)

From the beginning of Christianity, women understood that they had a new freedom: to follow their vocations. The gospel gave them what no ancient law had granted them. They could decide their own existence in that they were free to respond to God’s call for their lives. And they were prepared to die out of fidelity to this vocation. This was effectively a living out of what St. Paul taught about the equal dignity given in baptism: there is no more Jew or Greek, man or woman.

There was a new and equal dignity: that of PERSONHOOD.

Christianity, in needing to proclaim the Trinity, had to develop a language to express what had been revealed: God was one, but in Three Persons. What then is a PERSON. This concept, brought to the fore in the Trinitarian discussions, was to have huge ramifications for women, children and slaves, for all were PERSONS.

Virgins and widows had a special status in the early Church. Widows were more pitied than respected in the pagan or Jewish worlds. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that in the first Christian communities, widows were the first to be helped. They soon progressed, with virgins, to have a real function in the work of God in the early Church. St. Paul gives instructions for both vocations, and St. Luke’s gospel also makes clear the extraordinary prominence of women in the early Church.

In the Roman world, virgins had some status, and were donated by their fathers for the task of keeping the sacred fire burning. But this was again a mark of the father’s ownership.

In the Roman aristocracy in the fourth century, conversions to Christianity mainly concerned women. It was only in the following generations, through marriage that many pagan husbands converted, marrying Christian wives.

Fabiola was a woman of the Roman aristocracy who became a disciple of St. Jerome. She founded a house for the sick to tend to pilgrims who came to Rome – thus, she established the first hospital. In Ostia she created a pilgrim’s landing port, the first hostel. The medieval hospital system, which became very well developed, and the network of hostels for pilgrims that developed bear witness to her influence on future generations.

Nursing sisters or nuns had great influence on the development of care for the sick. In 651 in Paris, the Hotel-Dieu was founded, where for 1200 years now, women and men religious have given free care to the sick who came to them. The scope of activity was great: eg in 1368, the prioress Philippe du Bois notes that daily linen has reached 3500 sheets and other cloths. In the same time, the Parisian hospital of Saint James nearby gave asylum to 16690 pilgrims a year.

Two of Fabiola’s contempories, Melania the elder and Melania the younger. Melania the younger inherited immense estates from her grandmother and distributed them to her more than 1000 slaves. She later retired to the Holy Land joining a community of pious women that her grandmother had founded in Jerusalem. Her actions were concrete in the movement for the liberation of slaves.

The abandonment of slavery is a significant achievement of the Middle Ages, that began as early as the 4th century. The idea that the slave was a thing owned, without rights, could not survive the preaching of the gospel. From the time of Constantine the freeing of slaves became easier and the slave was given the right not to be separated from his family, along with the right to marry. The Code of Justinian decreed that a stay in a monastery with the view to joining it annulled any slavery. Justinian abolished the law that forbade freeing more than 100 slaves at a time. Church councils enacted measures to give slaves more and more human recognition. The Council of Elvira in Spain in 305 imposed a seven year penance on anyone who killed his slave. This was in the midst of a pagan world, where the murder of slaves was not considered to be a crime. The Council of Orleans in 511 gave the right of asylum in Churches for fleeing slaves, and the Council of Eauze in 551 automatically freed a slave whose master forced him to work on Sundays.

St. Caesarius of the fifth century defended his actions in buying the freedom of slaves with Church money saying: “God, who gave himself as the price of man’s redemption, will not reproach me for redeeming captives with the money from his altar.” 5th and 6th century books of tribunals show various formulae for emancipation of slaves for religious reasons.

In this reputedly brutal period, the slave who was considered a thing, became a person – he would progress to being a serf, who enjoyed the rights of a person. He gained the right to live, and more, to have a family and a home and lead his life as he wished, with the sole restriction that he remain on the land according to the norms of the feudal age.

The women around St. Jerome in the 4th Century provide the roots for female religious culture. The monastery in Bethlehem where Paula, Eustochium and companions lived, was a centre of studies. Paula learnt Hebrew. “She succeeded so well that she sang the Psalms in Hebrew and could speak this language without mixing any Latin with it.” The nuns studied the Psalms and the Scriptures and requested St. Jerome write a commentary on Ezekiel. Women’s monasteries from the beginning were marked by a desire for intellectual as well as spiritual life.

In the feudal age, women were the most devoted and ardent helpers of the Church. Fabiola started the first hospitals, Melania abolished slavery on her estates, Paula helped develop knowledge in herself and her companions … in all this we see the beginnings of monasteries where a high culture flourished, as well as those of chivalry, where the influence of the Church and of women would educate men and inculcate in them the ideal of the learned prince and the concern for the defense of the weak.

THE NUN

The first female monastery in France was in 513, when St. Caesarius wrote a rule for a group of virgins living around the Church of St Jean. The rule was similar to St. Benedict’s rule for monks more than a century earlier. The prioress would decide on the length of novitiate for an individual. Self-renunciation was important, with the relinquishing of all possessions before entering the convent. Within the monastery there would be no difference between rich and poor, noble-born or common. All would dress identically in simple white robes made by the community. Baths for hygiene must be taken without murmur. Work each day (spinning wool) must be done in silence. Everyone would take their turn in the kitchen. Every nun must learn to read and spend two hours reading every morning. The custom of reading silently was developed by monks and nuns. The religious dissociated reading from speaking. Silence was the rule for most things, including dinner time. There were times of silent prayer. The nuns would also care for the sick who lodged in a separate building, the infirmary. The nuns rose at night, prayed briefly, attended to bodily necessities, went to the oratory while praying Psalm 26 (To you O Lord I lift up my soul), bowed to the altar, went to her place of silent prayer. At the bell, the community would pray the Office. At the end of Matins (around midnight) they would rest again and rise at dawn (6am, earlier in Summer) at the ringing of the bell for Lauds and Prime. Then they confessed their sins. They rested again, then had reading, washing, and went back to Church for Terce and Mass. Breakfast followed (bread and drinks). They held chapter in the Chapter room, where the monthly calendar was announced with the saint of the day. The manuscripts were illuminated to honour the various saints and feasts. The chantress knew the calendar for the liturgy and the level of feast affected the day and the work. In chapter a part of the rule was read and the ceremony of faults took place. The abbess could give penances for graver faults. Silence was the rule for the church, dormitory and refectory. Talking was permitted in the cloister and elsewhere. Sext would take place around midday and a second Mass. The washing of hands and then lunch. The nuns took their place at table at the sounding of the cymbal and could begin once the abbess arrived. The reader read during the meal. The nuns on weekday service served the others, beginning with the last ones in and ending with the abbess. Then came siesta. At 3 pm was None followed by an afternoon drink. Then manual work. A light meal followed Vespers and at dusk, Compline concluded the day, followed by lights out and sleep.

They were not enclosed, but should leave the monastery only in twos and with permission. Enclosure was the rule for double monasteries (men and women). Only in 1298 did Pope Boniface VIII insist on enclosure for every nun. Even at this time, there were consecrated lay women who did not have to keep to the rules of enclosure.

There were fewer nuns than monks, but some convents had a wide influence.

Queen Radegund entered a monastery that she founded, taking the veil after her husband died. She gained a great reputation for holiness and inspired poems by Fortunatus (b. 530) who was to greatly influence the development of poetry and courtliness. In 567 he took Holy Orders and became a steward of the convent of the Holy Cross before becoming its chaplain in 576. At their request he wrote Pange Lingua Gloriosi and Vexilla Regis Prodeunt – which are still sung in the Church. These are among the oldest surviving hymns of the Church. He sent ‘courtly’ poems to the Queen and the abbess, inspired by the Virgin Mary and celebrating a pure admiration for womanhood that anticipated the Troubadours of the late middle ages.

“Honoured mother, sweet sister,
whom I revere with a faithful and pious heart,
with heavenly affection, without bodily touch,
it is not the flesh in me that loves
but rather the desire of the spirit …
which words shall I say to a beloved mother, to a sweet sister,
when alone, suffering the absence of the love in my heart?”

Fortunatus saluted the new abbess Agnes (only 20 years old) as ‘virgo, mater, domina’ – words borrowed from devotion to Mary. The beginnings of the ideal of womanhood in courtly poetry were made here at the monastery of Sainte-Croix in Poitiers.

A hundred years later, Queen Batilda founded the monastery of Chelles, and when her husband was ill, she administered the kingdom. Once he died, she entered the monastery. She was noted for her humility, undertaking the domestic tasks in the monastery. Many monasteries grew up, and they kept close ties. Some were founded by the Irish and the British. Many English monasteries were ravaged by the Vikings in the 7th century. Some survived, only to be methodically destroyed by Henry VIII in 1539.

Whitby in Yorkshire is the most famous. In 627, Edwin, the first Christian King of Northumbria and his grandniece Hilda were baptized. The king was killed by pagan Anglo-Saxons, but Hilda survived and founded the double monastery in Whitby. She took charge of studies herself. The nuns became protectresses of the arts and letters and also had a considerable influence on the evangelization of Germany.

Boniface had close contacts with English nuns. At his request, several went to Germany to assist evangelization by founding convents in Germany. Willibald wrote to a nun Eadburga: “Beloved sister, with your gift of holy books you comforted with a spiritual light the one who is exiled in Germany. For in this dark exile among the people of Germany, we would be distressed unto death if we did not have the divine Word as a lamp for our steps and the light for our way. Entrusting myself totally to your love, I beseech you to pray for me.”

Aldhelm of Malmesbury (639-709) wrote thanking the nuns personally (Justina, Cuthburga, Osburga, Ealdigth, Scholastica, Hidurga, Burngith, Eulalia and Tecla) for their labour in copying the holy books, and compares them to bees gathering from everywhere the honey of science, which they have given to him. He calls them ‘flowers of the Church, pearls of Christ, jewels of Paradise.”

The religious life flourished in Germany, with abbesses relating well to Empresses. The convents were centres of culture as well as prayer.

The nuns learned Latin, Greek, literature and law. They often converted women who would then convert their husbands. In the 10th-12th centuries, abbesses and emperesses have great influence in Germany, equivalent to their male counterparts.

Nuns also emerged as writers and composers. Notable is Hroswitha who wrote legends in verse and comedies that were played in the convent. She wrote in 965 an epic poem on Emperor Otto I for the use of his son Otto II (then aged 10). Hildegard of Bingen is one of the first known composers (most before then are anonymous). Born in 1098, the tenth child of the family, she was educated from 8 years by a nun called Judta and entered the convent at 15. She founded her own convents later and lived into her 80s. She had supernatural visions from aged 3 and transcribed them in 1141 in several books. She also wrote books of medicine and composed music that was collected with her cause. She was consulted by popes, emperors and saints (eg. Bernard). She wrote an encyclopaedia of world knowledge for the 12th century, touching on theological matters not yet ruled on by the Church, as well as containing poetry and music. She composed 74 hymns sequences and other works. She dictated her works to monk scribes. She made scientific discoveries that would become common only 500 years later: the sun as the centre of our world; the circulation of blood and so on. On Heretics she advised: “Chase these people out of the Church by expelling them, not by killing them, for they too are made in the image of God”.

WOMEN AND EDUCATION

The first treatise on education was written by a lay woman Dhuoda, “Manual for my son” in 841. Women are the natural first educators of children and know how to apply the principles of education for the particular child that they know better than anyone else. She wrote in Latin, the language of culture. Her husband Bernard took their second son with him on the campaigns to defend their territory and their oldest, William was in the service of the King as a ‘hostage’ or proof of loyalty. Dhuoda remained behind and looked after the estate, though she wrote the treatise to educate her elder son from a distance. She included many poems of the time and her own works. Her teaching is humbly prefaced: “I beseech you my son … I pray and suggest humbly to you ….” The first principle she set down was love: Love and seek God, love your younger brother, love your friends and companions among whom you live at the royal or imperial court, love the poor and the unhappy, love everyone so that you may be loved by all, they will all love you.”. She used the image of a herd of deer crossing a river, where the weakest is upheld by the others, with head and neck leaning on the back of another, taking turns, to exhort him to sympathy and compassion for the weak. She often taught by means of images and anecdotes. She alluded to Old Testament figures as though her son already was familiar with them. She assumes readily that he understands that the Bible is the Word of God and the font of endless knowledge and wisdom. She exorted him to pray, especially the psalms and alluded to praying them seven times a day herself. She constantly exorts him to read and pray and not be preoccupied with lesser concerns to the neglect of these. She sought to inculcate virtue over desire for wealth and status. She combined numerology, arithmetic and the learning of the essentials of theology and virtue. Her work is steeped in the Bible, the Church Fathers, quotations from the time as well as her intimate thoughts and inspirations. She also knew the work of poets and philosophers. She had interest in the work of craftsmen and in games. Her grandson, also William, may have taken up her wisdom more than his uncle William, for he founded the monastery of Cluny in 910 through which would eventually come the reform of the whole clergy.

There are many references to women advanced in learning, trained in literature and writing. Many illustrated books of Hours were decorated for women, some of whom were queens or princesses. The historian Karl Bartsch who collated the observations and listings of works copied for ladies was able to conclude in 1883: “In the Middle Ages, women read more than men.” The manuscripts were also often copied by women. Many manuscripts that are arduously copied have a postscript asking for blessings for the copyist who is sometimes named. A significant proportion of these are women.

Noble women could have a tutor or educator appointed to them as they grew up, and these teachers could be women. Nuns were entrusted with the education of girls and often of little boys from noble families. The rule of St. Caesarius for the female monastery was that people couldn’t be admitted to the monastery until they were 6 or 7 years old, for educating, and thus they were in a sense also schools. In the feudal era and the Middle Ages, a nun was in charge of the education of children (boys up to age 12 and girls even beyond that). Lay women also ran schools. From the tax register, at the end of the 13th century, there were 22 school mistresses in Paris. Women also organized food for needy children at the school.

Children learnt Scripture, the psalms, literature and grammar. Some nuns taught Hebrew and Greek. In the 14th Century, Villani’s chronicle estimates that 1 in every 2 children attended school, and this applied to both boys and girls. Yet it was at this time, especially where ancient Rome was being rediscovered and idolized, that the education of girls began to be questioned. Some thought it a waste to educate them, others thought they should be only educated in domestic tasks, unless they were to be nuns, but even here, it began to be considered that their theological studies need not be comparable to men and the universities that developed at this time tended to become the province of men. Part of the collapse of Europe around the 14th century was due to the famine of 1315-17, the plague of 1348 and the Anglo French wars.
We could also note that the best known encyclopaedia of knowledge in the 12th Century was “Garden of Delights” by a woman Herrad of Landsberg.

FEMININITY

Feminine beauty was commented on constantly by poets of the Middle Ages, and also by philosophers and theologians. Guibert of Nogent saw in the beauty of women a direct and immediate mirror of God’s immutable and infinite beauty. Hugh of St. Victor saw visible beauty as a reflection of invisible beauty. The influence and activities of women in the Middle Ages had not been won at the expense of femininity, which is prized, valued and celebrated, and clearly manifested in the elegance and beauty of the feminine dress of the time.

COURTLINESS

The man of the late Middle Ages needed to be courtly – but in what did this consist? The lady demands that her courtly suitor be rich in generosity to all and this includes never blaspheming his God, honouring his master, being humble toward all, mocking or slandering noone, never lying and bring reconciliation to the quarrelling. Further, the lover should pursue no one he is unwilling to marry, his love must refuse nothing and must be jealously guarded, kept secret and persevere through difficulties. True nobility is that of morals and manners and not of high birth. In this vision, true love refines men and women and obstacles spur them on to greater valor. Women were the ‘judges’ in a ‘love court’ as men auditioned for their hands. The love poetry of the Troubadours is a tradition singing to the perfect and unattainable woman – imaging the Virgin Mary in fairness and purity.

FONTEVRAULT

The double monastery of the order of Fontevrault is a significant one in the 12th Century. In 1119, Pope Calixtus II visited there in person to consecrate the main altar. There were some 300 nuns and 60-70 monks at this time. By the mid century there were 5000 members, and at the head was not an abbot but an abbess. The monks that entered the order owed obedience to her and promised it with their hands in hers.

The founder, Robert d’Arbrissel had willed that an abbess be at the head, and said in the statutes that it should be a widow rather than a virgin. He compared the monks relationship with her to that of St. John with Mary: Behold your mother.

WOMEN AND SOCIAL LIFE – MARRIAGE

Three times the gospel proclaims: “What God has joined, man must not divide” (Lk 16:18, Mt. 5:31-2; 19:3-9). Christianity taught from the beginning that Christ had made marriage a sacrament and would supply the necessary graces for its success. Christianity is the only religion that insists on life-long monogamy. It radically affects and improves the place of women in a society.

St. Paul teaches a radically new relationship between husband and wife: husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, as Christ sacrificed himself for his bride the Church. The wife must return the gift of self to her husband as the Church does to Christ. His sayings have a reciprocity: For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does, likewise, the husband doesn’t rule over his own body, but the wife does (1 Cor. 7:4)

The Church viewed the Lord’s presence at Cana as a divine elevation of marriage, and the early Fathers conceived Christ’s death on the cross as marital, forming his bride the Church. From the beginning, virginity is honoured, but always on condition that the great good of marriage is not disparaged by the person seeking admittance. Virginity is seen within a marital framework in the Church, and so is the celibacy of the priesthood. The Gnostic shunning of marriage and the physical components involved is long condemned by the Church. For the Christian, marriage is between two equals, bringing duties and responsibilities toward the other.

We can compare this to the situation in the ancient world where the father had rights over the daughters’ life, and adultery had to be punished by the death of the woman, while the man went largely unpunished.

Church councils guarded against incest, which here meant the marriage of those who were distantly related (eg. A second or third cousin). Consent of father or mother was dispensed with by the Church. What was needed was their free mutual consent, as the spouses themselves ministered the sacrament. Some of this was eroded in the 16th Century as the ancient Roman world was modeled. In some places, laws were introduced to insist on parental permission for marriage. In 1556, Henry II gave parents the right to disinherit their children if they married without their consent. During the 17th Century, it became effectively obligatory for the wife to take the husband’s name, whereas in the Middle Ages, either one might be adopted. Though many marriages in the Middle Ages were still arranged from when the children were infants, especially among the richer classes, the Church was the force for ensuring the freedom of the consent, and allowed many nullities of contract were permitted in canon law. The contrast is clear when comparing the practice in Moslem lands today.

POLITICAL POWER

In feudal times, the crowning of the Queen was carried out in the same manner as the crowning of the King, that is, at the hands of the Archbishop in the Cathedral. She would exercise the power of ruling when her husband was sick, absent or dead, as in the case of Elanor of Aquitaine and Blanche of Castile, who really dominated their own centuries. Blanche of Castile arrived at the siege of the castle of Belleme in 1229 and realized that the army was literally paralyzed with cold. She commanded that wood be cut from the forest to warm them up, which greatly boosted morale. They soon ended a siege that had dragged on for weeks.

In Belgium, almost every principality was governed by a woman at some point in the Middle Ages. At the time of the 100 years war in France, the King’s role as head of defenses assumed more importance and the crowning of the King became more of a military action. By the 17th century, the Queen literally disappeared from the scene in favor of the ‘favourite’. Women had a background role after that and weren’t considered capable of ruling or administering property. In the Middle Ages, property of barons would pass to women or to men depending on circumstances. In a study made in France for the years 1152-1284, of 279 fiefs, 104 are owned by lords, 48 by ‘ladies’, 10 by ‘damsels’and the others by squires and various others. Joan of Arc could have emerged no later than the end of the Middle Ages to have the audience and following that she gained. Even as the military leader, she didn’t lose her femininity – and had great motherly concern for the well being of soldiers before the battles! In the country rather than the cities, women had more of an equal footing with men, as land administrators etc. They didn’t tend to be mayors or counselors in cities, though they did have voting rights.

Phillip the Fair in the late 14th century was the first to limit the powers of the Queen, and he exluded women from succession to the throne. He was greatly influenced by the Southern French jurists who had excitingly rediscovered and studied ancient Roman law. This law was really for the military, merchants and functionaries and gave land owners the power to use and abuse their property. This was in contrast to customary law in the Middle Ages, but it suited well the wealthy and those who wanted to centralize power and so became a great temptation in the later Middle Ages. It is the seeds of a centralized and even colonist mindset that would come to the fore in the later centuries. Emperor Frederick II made it common law in Germany, suiting his centralist tendencies.

The effect of Roman law can be seen in changes that took place affecting marriage: In the Middle Ages, the age of consent for women was 12 and 14 for boys. It was changed in the 17th century to be the same as in Roman law, ie 25. In Roman law, the father had the rights to determine the procedure in any case. In Medieval times, if a couple died without heirs, what was from the father’s family would return to them, and what was from the mother’s family would return to them. This too was eroded.

Through the monasteries, women could be great land owners and administrators, equivalent to feudal lords – for example Heloise (who herself was very well educated and taught Greek and Latin). The general imposition of the cloister on all convents of nuns at the end of the Middle Ages and the fact that the new universities only allowed men, led to the eventual loss of the status of convents as centres of learning. By the 16th century, the King took for himself the authority to appoint abbesses and the great centre of Fontevrault became a dumping ground for his old mistresses. Most of the monasteries of women declined, some were saved by reformers, such as Carmel and the Poor Clares.

Every day life can be gauged by what is in the records of town statutes, legal documents, or in a special case, the inquiries of King Louis, who sought to get the response of the common people and remedy their complaints. There we see little facts that build a picture of the place of women in the Middle Ages: women were hairdressers, salt millers, farmers and even Crusaders. They voted like men in rural assemblies and parishes. Women could also open shops, begin trades, without their husband’s authorization. The tax roll of Paris at the end of the 13th century shows that there were women school mistresses, doctors, plasterers, dyers, copyists, miniaturists, binders and so on.

Yet in 1593, women were excluded from all state functions. In the Napoleanic Code she was not even mistress of her own property, but played a subordinate role. From then, only men would compose educational treatises, etc.

The reaction in our own time is for a feminism that is content to seek after what is ‘masculine’ and to make inroads into what is perceived to be all ‘masculine domains’. It is enough to imitate men, being judged equal in the same trades, behaviour, dress, attitudes, etc. Some will ignorantly trumpet the idea that women have finally left the Middle Ages. Yet there is a long way to go before the true genius of women is manifest and celebrated in the modern age, as it was in so many aspects in the Middle Ages, after the gains of Christianity had transformed the ancient world. Modern feminism is suicidal in its core – it is revolted by the feminine. The loss of the feminine is the loss of the greatest treasure of God’s design – for it is the loss of the receptivity to God’s covenant with creation. The middle ages had lifted women from the status of objects in the ancient world, to stand next to men in a delicate complementarity that empowered both to be what they are. The loss of the feminine results in the loss of the truly masculine – for each is completed by the other. The crisis of a neutered humanity is most acutely felt in our day.

The 20th Century was the age of totalitarian regimes, where a univocal oneness was attempted to be enforced. Our own time suffers greatly from the collapse of the family and of the care to provide a stable and loving home where the children are educated first of all in love and secondarily in the skills to lead them to love to the full. The time has come for women to again discover their originality – their feminine genius. It is the time for an authentic feminism that safeguards what women have a genius to safeguard – the concrete, the particular, the heart and the home that is more than a mere house. It is urgently required that women reject the rejection of motherhood and femininity that is embodied in contraception, sterilization and worst of all, abortion. The woman must crush the head of this serpent, not the head of her own child at the request of the serpent.

The great guarantee of the celebration of the genius of woman is the devotion to the Virgin Mother Mary – so important in the middle ages and so neglected in the parts of the world where an unhealthy anti-mother feminism has taken hold. Mary, greatest of creatures, beautiful one, full of love, the true power of God, pray for us – most blessed among all women, pray for women to be truly blessed in their authentic identity.

Related Link: The Early Church ~ Being Frank

Other reading : The Interior Design of Sex and the City Reflects a Culture in Ruins
Contraception and the Catholic Vision
The Moral and Social Influence of Devotion to Mary

ZenTiger Not only contraception

Lucyna's post below reveals plans for protesters to disrupt the Catholic World Youth Event in Sydney next month. They want to hand out condoms to youth and children in support of their own personal unholy trinity: condoms, promiscuity and abortion.

This stems from many non-Catholics taking offense over the Catholic Church's stance on contraception, and the use of condoms. In some ways, it's a strange attitude.

I say this because when people protest against the Church's stance on contraception they conveniently ignore that this is part of a bigger message. At the very least, we could mention two things, not one:

1. Contraception is bad.
2. Sex outside of marriage is bad.

It would make for an interesting post to outline the reasons behind this stance, but that is a post for another day.

In reality non-Catholic people don't give a toss what the Catholic Church's position is on both points are.

Sure, they get offended at the Pope expressing an opinion, but they wouldn't stop for a second and think "what would the Pope say about my behaviour?"

These messages ultimately only apply to Catholics. No-one else listens, except to scoff, protest or act offended.

And for Catholics, the contraception message is not to be taken in isolation; the kinds of Catholics that reject the first message are just as likely to reject reject the second.

Why would a Catholic think "The Church is against sex before marriage, but I'm doing it anyway" and then in the same thought say: "Gee, I wish I could use a condom, but the Pope said no." ?

For married Catholic couples, in a committed and loving relationship with no thoughts of infidelity, the only issue for them is the one of contraception - and I urge them to read up on Pope JPII's "Theology of the Body".

And I absolutely guarantee the protesters at the World Youth Day will not be in the category of "married Catholic couple respecting the Pope's wishes on contraception" and I wonder why these people think they have to protest on behalf of these people?

[Part II]
Whilst my point above is a good one, it has been a bit tongue in cheek. Obviously, there is a fear factor in play by liberals on all matters to do with the Catholic Church.

The Pope may be able to change the hearts and minds of Catholics, who in turn have some small influence in our democracy and in representing Catholic values. In a democracy, you convince enough people of an idea, and they can change the rules. We see it all the time with various interest groups tugging society in different directions.

Perhaps the liberals are detecting that there may be a backlash coming. It's always been fine rhetoric to say "give us freedom, and we will use it responsibly", but the evidence is that the new found freedoms have been terribly abused and responsibility is always assigned to "them, not me". Freedom without responsibility yields evil.

It hasn't helped that as we work to attain personal freedom, the State very craftily increases its power, often in the name of "protecting" freedom - freedom is cast as "rights". The State wants the power for assigning "responsibility", which, at its worst is the power to blame, and act unconstrained by justice.

We are being squeezed from both directions - and the moral core that made a powerful State unecessary and ensured freedom only sprung from respect for others has been dangerously eroded.

Non-Catholics don't listen to the Pope, but they fight every word. Their greatest fear is that Catholics will listen.

Related Link: Catholic Youth to be targetted

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ZenTiger It is a simple question

It is a simple question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense in New Zealand?". There are 390,000 people in New Zealand who were prepared to put their name to paper to have that question asked.

So what does Helen say?

"There is very little evidence I can see of parents being dragged before the court"

Well, quite frankly, so what?

The DomPost article today indicates Helen Clark doesn't see much sense in this petition. She doesn't see a problem. This is the person who bans smacking to end child abuse. The person who wants to ban bottle stores to end armed robberies. (Not to mention that alchohol is also sold at Woolworths, Pak N' Save, New World, 4 Square and Countdown supermarket chains all over New Zealand).

The issue here is that sending a message to people who abuse children by making smacking illegal for every parent is as undesirous as banning driving to send a message to people who excessivley speed. You don't make driving illegal, and then let off the people that are driving safely after putting them through an interview with 5 policemen.

And dragging parents before the courts? Dont make me laugh. 90% of issues with parents and children happen at the CYFS level, and they can remove children without a court case. They have also proven in New Zealand that they can remove children from parents even if the court finds the parents not guilty of the charge. And Family Court gets to keep this all secret. Family Court proceedings are not open to the public. Journalists have limited access, and are bound by strict privacy rules. We would need to have full access to CYFS cases and Family Court proceedings to test the validity of this claim.

Whatever the position on smacking, one thing we should respect in New Zealand is that we have nearly 400,000 signatures who think making a smack administered in discipline should not be a criminal offence, and who believe that the current law is one waiting to be abused.

This petition has the numbers. It could easily be included in the upcoming election. That would be the most effective and efficient time to ask it.

The people of NZ want a simple question asked.

Will the people be allowed to ask it?

Lucia What is it with the condoms???

PILGRIMS in Sydney for World Youth Day will be handed condoms in a protest against Pope Benedict XVI's opposition to contraception and homosexuality, demonstrators say.

The NoToPope Coalition, which includes members of Sydney's atheist, gay and environmental communities, will march to Randwick Racecourse on Saturday, July 19, alongside Catholic pilgrims who will be walking to Randwick after a pilgrimage trek across the Sydney Harbour Bridge that day.

The coalition is planning a rally at Taylor Square in Sydney's inner east, followed by the march to the racecourse, where Pope Benedict XVI is holding a prayer vigil that evening.

Coalition spokeswoman Rachel Evans said the "peaceful protest" would condemn the Pope's stance against condoms, homosexuality and abortion.
Words fail me.

Related Link: Pope protesters to hand out condoms ~ News.com.au

Fletch Blackouts Already?

black We in the Counties area lost power for some 10 minutes tonight. Did a car hit a power pole? That was my first thought, being that it's rather wet and nasty and cold out there. So, torch in hand, I called our local power supplier. What's happening, I ask? He tells me that he's been ordered from higher-up to shed power. He doesn't really know when it will be on again or why it's happening (but he does mention the 'G' word - government):  just that they have to 'shed power' in our area (ie, to cut power to our area).

I don't know what happened either, but I'm glad I have power back on the coldest night of the year so far.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lucia Cheek kissing deja vu

I experienced a strange sense of deja vu this morning as I read Linley Boniface's column on What's with hugs and kisses? You see, last night I was reading an article at CERC on almost exactly the same thing: Are the handshake and the cheek-peck on the way out? I didn't even have to search for the article to double-check if I'd read something like that last night - the article was still on one of my open tabs.

So, I'm left wondering if either Linley reads CERC and thought the whole concept of writing about hugging and kissing would be a good one, or if some sort of cosmic coincidence is involved. For the record, I do think Linley's column is very funny.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lucia Debate: Is God a Delusion? [UPDATED]

The debate last week at Auckland University between Dr William Craig Lane and Dr Bill Cooke on Is God a Delusion is available for viewing at MandM

Being Frank has a their impression of the debate. EyeWitness says:
I was a little disappointed the atheist doctor (I’m sorry I cannot remember his name) could not present better rebuttal to Dr Craig’s arguments. He didn’t really argue on the debate topic of proving God does not exist.
You can't prove that God does not exist. Hence, that's probably why Cooke did not go there.

UPDATE: I forgot to add that Ian Wishart went along. Sounds like it was crowded in there!

And now for an edifying excerpt from Touchstone that I came across a couple of weeks back through a Insight Scoop article.
“Is there anything more?” is the scientific question, but as Pascal asks it, the “scientists” vanish.

The agnostics ski down the mountain into the woods, searching for hard evidence on the basis of which to decide whether God exists—which is very odd, given that a moment ago they were standing here with us, ready to climb as declared skeptics. Agnostics, plainly, are wafflers in their skepticism: As the team gets going, they U-turn back to the foothills, where every true skeptic says there is nothing to find. They do not care about the truth.

But even more astonishing than that, the atheists have just gone home. They are not down in the valley looking for evidence; they are not looking at all. They have packed in the science without lifting a boot, as if the summit were already taken, the question answered.

The atheist is the team-member who was always talking up the loftiness of the mission, but after all his fervid urgings to “search for what is true, even if it makes you uncomfortable,” to go on no matter how hard and painful the going gets, he is the chap who grandly announces, without bending a knee, that victory is ours: “God should be readily detectable by scientific means.” “Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.” We now “rule out the God worshipped by most Jews, Christians, and Muslims.” The climb is done, and the atheist scampers back to town to meet the press.

Hattip: Put Up Thy Sword

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lucia Interesting posts [UPDATE 2]

Do you ever feel living your Christian faith is like fighting a battle? Do you feel constantly attacked from the world around you and perhaps from within as well? Do you feel worn out, almost ready to give up? The Scriptures this week address the reality of being persecuted because of our faith in God...
Read more: God is the strength of his people ~ Catholic Exchange


Tom Wolfe, in his 2004 novel I Am Charlotte Simmons, explores the connection between the mind-brain reductionism of contemporary neuroscience and sociobiology and the moral depravity rampant on contemporary college and university campuses. Philosophical materialists who reviewed the book were, by and large, unimpressed by the idea that mind-brain reductionism should lead to the libertinism endemic to contemporary campus life. But Wolfe, who is generally more prescient regarding the culture than those purely literary types who review his books, was simply expressing a sense of a connection that honest philosophers since the time of Socrates have recognized as their vocation to articulate. Namely, it is impossible that there should be such a thing as objective moral goodness if reality is nothing more than matter in motion...
Read more
: Mind-Brain Reductionism, Gay Marriage, and Overcoming the Depravity of it All ~ Cosmos Liturgy Sex

Okay, so Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant, Kate, and Kathy and other writers are being hounded for daring to presume a freedom to express themselves in a country that has fixated on “being nice” over being “sensible” or “honest” or “provocative” or even “cranky” if one wants to be cranky...
Read more: Is Canada the Stepford Nation? ~ The Anchoress

Will be updated during the day.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lucia Passion of the Christ You Tube clips [UPDATE]

I'm trying to find a particular one that I watched a few months back, but use this post to store the ones I come across that are pretty good.



Set to rock music


Set to Remember Me

UPDATE:


The original "Remember me" by Josh Groban

I've put the second one up because the contrast between the two clips to the same music is very disturbing. I'll explain why, later.


ZenTiger For Andrei

Something I know Andrei will like. Wishing you good health mate. And for anyone else who needs it. A song by Emmylou Harris.

Lucia Friday night free for all

Lucia Home schooling like driving drunk in Germany

Ah, Germany. Where home-schooling has been illegal since the days of Hitler. Now a judge in Germany has sentenced home-schooling parents to three months jail for continuing to home-school their children.

I'm a home-schooling parent. We're coming up to our one year anniversary of home-schooling again this time around (my oldest was previously hs'ed to age 7 before he went to school). So, I'm with the parents on this one.

Home-schooling may be "illegal" in Germany, but there are some laws that were made to be broken. Laws that are immoral, for instance. The state has absolutely no right to require children to go to school, for the sole reason that the family has precedence over the state in the education of children.

For this reason, I support the breaking of the law in Germany by these home-schooling parents.

Related Link: Judge: Homeschooling like driving drunk ~ WorldNetDaily

For more, see Link to http://educatinggermany.7doves.com

Lucia Here we go again



Pope Pius XII is on the road to sainthood. However, The Times Online has to mention in their article title that he was 'silent on Holocaust'. Nevermind that anything he did say was met with deadly repercussions by the Nazis.

Related Links: Holocaust survivors announce symposium on Pius XII’s work to save Jews during WWII ~ Catholic News Agency
Pope Pius XII who was 'silent on Holocaust on road to sainthood' ~ TimesOnline

Previous Post: Soviet KGB falsly linked WW2 Pope with Nazis ~ NZ Conservative

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lucia You've got to wonder about abortion and sex activists [Under contention]


Their desire to change society could hide deep perversions in their own natures as in the following example:
LOS ANGELES, CA, June 16, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The chief judge of a U.S. circuit court of appeals, which has been described by American Family Association founder Don Wildmon as "the most liberal court in the country", has just been caught operating a website containing explicit sexual content, while presiding over an obscenity trial...The site featured photographs of a sexually aroused animal being "cavorted" with by a half-naked man, nude women painted as cows, as well as many other photos and videos too graphic to describe.
Related Link: Homosexual and Abortion Activist Judge Caught with Bestiality on Website ~ LifeSite

Lucia Move to remove govt funding from late abortions in Australia [UPDATE]

I wonder what Guy Barnett's attempt to remove state funding from late-term abortions will result in? He's not trying to ban late term abortion, just remove state funding for them. Somehow, I don't think he will succeed, but good on him for trying.

Related Link: Barnett moves motion against late-term abortion funding ~ ABC

UPDATE: Meanwhile, in NZ Garth George calls our politicians "gutless". Bernard Moran, of Voice for Life says that politicians could avoid dealing with the fallout from the recent court ruling that has called into question most of the abortions in NZ, by commissioning a study to double check if women are in fact more likely to suffer mental health problems if they abort their child as found in a 2006 study.

Related Link: Garth George: Politicians gutless on abortions ~ NZ Herald

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lucia What radical feminists want

Modern feminists maintain that their highest goal is equality and liberty, but their agenda runs far deeper than that. It is summed up in the phrase, "bodily autonomy," an idea first developed and promoted by Margaret Sanger in her 1914 book, The Woman Rebel. This old-new catchphrase is still used by her ideological descendants. For the sex-obsessed feminism that Sanger helped create, simple equality is not enough. Women need to free themselves not only from men, but also from families, from religion, and especially from pregnancy. They must be completely free to do what they wish, when they wish, with no responsibility to anyone else but themselves.
For those that don't know, Margaret Sanger was also heavily into eugenics and started off Planned Parenthood, a world-wide contraceptive and abortive organisation. The aim of PP is to reduce the number of children born to the the "unfit"; ie the poor and certain races. This really links in well with the goals of radical feminists who don't want children (though maybe one or two, so they don't miss out too much).

It's really amazing how something so anti-woman and anti-life can be considered "good", for as long as a woman "chooses" what to do with her body, it's all good. Except that the higher number of mentally ill among those that aborted puts lie to that mantra.

Related Link: Just in time for Father's Day ~ LifeSiteNews
Picture from : NZ's abortion law: musings on the strategy from here ~ The Hand Mirror

Lucia Something strange

I've noticed something very strange. At first I just thought this sort of thing happened on the Friday Night Free For Alls, but it seems that the same principle holds true for other blog posts as well.

As soon as I start commenting on posts, very few people comment.

Why is this?

Lucia NZ Conservative has slipped!

Tumeke's blog rankings came out last night and NZ Conservative has slipped a few places over the last two months down to Number 21. I can't say I'm surprised as I haven't been posting much lately due to needing some down time from the internet.

But Tim Selwyn has raised an interesting point about using Alexa for traffic. I can't see how Alexa could in any way be reliable. When I compare what Alexa says about our traffic compared to Stat Counter, the latter is lower. Of course, that could have something to do with how a unique visitor is counted, and I must confess I haven't looked it how our visitors are counted beyond ZenTiger telling me a while back that he'd changed it.

The weird thing also is that the Technorati authority for our blog is currently sitting at 54, which is reasonable. And when I look at the higher volume blogs (ie those with a large number of commenters) that have a higher authority than us, that makes sense. What doesn't totally make sense are those in the top 20 whose authorities are quite low.

It also looks to me that if I sat here churning out post after post, that I could actually artificially inflate our rankings. However, doing that would drastically change the nature of our blog, as posts that people might be commenting on would get pushed down and therefore almost forgotten. One to four blog posts a day is probably the most we would want to do on that basis.

So, I'm curious as to how people think the blogosphere ought to be ranked, if the formula used is a good one or if there is some better indicator?

Related Link: NZ Blogosphere Rankings May 2008 ~ NZ Blogosphere

Lucia Light bulbs being banned! [UPDATE]

This is just too much. What about my sewing machine lightbulbs that cost $15 each - are they going to be banned as well?

I'll be down at the supermarket stocking up on those soft tone lightbulbs that I like having in my sidelamps by the bed.

Oh and get this. The fluorescent bulbs tend to blow if you use a dimmer switch on them! Wonderful! All the big who har about how they last longer, bladde-blah-de-blah and just apply a dimmer to them and they blow up!

Related Link: Fancy lights don't like new bulbs ~ Stuff

UPDATE: I was listening to NewsTalk ZB talkback this morning, and it seems alot of people are 1) incensed that the normal lightbulb will be banned and 2) going out to stock up on normal lightbulbs. Looks like the greenie religion is not quite as entrenched as the government thinks it is!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

ZenTiger The Scientific Approach


A biologist, a physicist and a mathematician see two people walk into a house. A few minutes pass, then they see three people leave the house.

The biologist concludes that the people must have reproduced.

The physicist concludes that the original measurement must have contained an inaccuracy.

The mathematician concludes that if one person enters the house it will be empty again.

Lucia The Media and Abortion [UPDATE]

Being Frank has a great post up on the media using a young woman's recent abortion as propaganda. Also mentioned is the blogosphere's most recent troll (eat your heart out, Millsy!) video effort linked to by GayNZ's forums.

Related Link: Media Propaganda and Tolerant Bigots ~ Being Frank

UPDATE: Pro-life spokesman calls video "sickening" ~ NZ Catholic

Lucia Muslims in danger of conversion for the first time in history


I continue to be amazed at what our local paper doesn't cover in it's international news. The President of the US visited the Pope at the Vatican recently, amid speculation that he would convert to Catholicism. Not a peep from the Dom Post. The only event of note that they registered was the Pope meeting the Fijian leader, which warranted a photo and a cartoon. But bigger things are at work in the world. Much as New Zealanders are working to destroy Anglicanism, the following article points out how much that really shoots civilisation in general in the proverbial foot.

For the first time, perhaps, since the time of Mohammed, large parts of the Islamic world are vulnerable to Christian efforts to convert them, for tens of millions of Muslims now dwell as minorities in predominantly Christian countries. The Muslim migration to Europe is a double-edged sword. Eventually this migration may lead to a Muslim Europe, but it also puts large numbers of Muslims within reach of Christian missionaries for the first time in history.

That is the hope of Magdi Allam, the highest-profile Catholic convert from Islam in living memory (see The mustard seed in global strategy Asia Times Online, March 26, 2008).
I would highly recommend the whole article as what I've put up here is just a small part of it all.

Related Link: The pope, the president and politics of faith ~ Asia Times Online

Photo : My favourite image from President Bush's visit with the Pope ~ What does the prayer really say

Monday, June 16, 2008

ZenTiger Policy Picker Pledge Pack Pact

Congratulations to the ACT party for it's 20 point pledge card brochure. So, there's already too many things to do for me to review this any time soon, but I daresay there will be others rising to the challenge (Gooner? Liberty Scott? NotPC? ) as well as the loony left that I predict will either dismiss the points without actually offering any substantial arguments or prove they don't get that central planning and management of "the economy" is just a pipe dream.

If you love something, set it free!

There, that's my contribution from the Conservative Camp. I'm not letting the right off the hook for delivering on social justice, but I'm not expecting big government, left wing authoritarians and left wing liberals to deliver on this either. Crushing the middle class isn't actually my idea of egalitarianism.

Oh, and who is going to fisk the Labour Party's 2005 Election Pledge Pacts? Not the one to pay it back - the actual policies they pledged at the time. I'm already regretting using them as kindling to save money on electricity.

Related Link: ACT release Policy Picker Pledge Pack Pact

Sunday, June 15, 2008

ZenTiger No Rich Pricks Please, We Are Socialists

The Labour Party are presiding over an apparently dysfunctional immigration service. Except that their recent actions, where bureaucratic stupidity seems to be the new "law of common sense" also mirrors Labour rhetoric.

"We don't want rich pricks here. Specifically, we don't want rich, white, hard working pricks here."

Quite keen to pack them off home, but probably not so keen on refunding the money invested to date.

From Canada, to the UK. The message is clear. Investing in New Zealand with your hard earned cash is a high risk venture. The government will block you one way or other. So much for the rule of "common sense".


Related Link at No Minister: Couple buys the farm - colloquial expression in NZ for "Thanks for investing in NZ, the tax rate is 100%"
British couple who came to New Zealand to live their dream of running a farm are being booted out of the country after a nightmare experience with an "incompetent" Immigration Service.

Roger and Alison Schenn estimate they have spent about $1 million upgrading a formerly dilapidated farm near Wellsford, north of Auckland, but immigration officials say the business is of no benefit to New Zealand and have refused to grant them permanent residency.
--Stuff Article