Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Massacre of the Cossacks at Lienz, Austria



This image is a black and white version of “The Betrayal of the Cossacks at Lienz” by S.G. Korolkoff, with a German inscription.
Click on image for a full color, enlargement of the original painting


The Rutland Herald has a very interesting article about the 60th anniversary of the Massacre of the Cossacks at the end of World War II, by the British and Soviets. It mentions Fr. Michael Protopopov as speaking and serving the memorial service that took place.





I got to meet Fr. Michael when I went to Australia in December of 2000. I think he got almost as much a kick out of meeting a cowboy boot wearing Deacon (at that time) from Texas (with my accompanying mannerism and manner of speaking) who had converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism, as I did out of meeting a Russian Priest from an aristocratic Russian family, knighted by the Queen of England, with an Australian accent, a great sense of humor, an incredible sense of history, a deeply rooted and balanced Orthodox spirituality, and a jolly disposition. I enjoyed listening to him in particular, and he and the other Aussies apparently enjoyed listening to me. They kept asking me to repeat certain phrases, and then laughing. Some phrases, I could figure out why (like when I used the phrase "chewing buddy" to refer to a close friend), but other phrases I couldn't see the humor of... but they did.

I was fortunate enough to get to spend time with Fr. Michael again at a clergy conference in New York in 2003.

As I recall, he wrote a book about the Massacre at Lienz, and "Operation Keel Haul". It is amazing how many dark chapters of history, such as this, are almost completely unknown to the vast majority of people.

You can see pictures of the service that took place, as well as the monument in Lienz by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Ten Commandments On Display... at the Supreme Court and Other Federal Buildings



The Ten Commandments on the Doors of the Supreme Court


If you wondered why the Supreme Court split hairs over displays of the Ten Commandments, and didn't ban all of them in public buildings, it probably had something to do with the extensive redecorating that they would need to do in their own Court House... not to mention the rest of Washington, D.C.

See this article in Human Events for a number of photos of the 10 Commandments on Display at the Supreme Court Building, and in other federal buildings.

Click here, for another image of the U.S. District Court's display of the Ten Commandments.

I would suggest every court building in the united states should incorporate the exact same images of the 10 commandments that are found in the Supreme Court Building, and see what they have to say next.

I also think it's great that someone is trying to seize Justice Souters home on the basis of the the court decision that he signed onto this week.

These liberal justices should be impeached. We need to take back our country from judicial tyrants.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

New Welfare Computer System Costs

Note: These comments do not reflect the views of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in any way.



The System Cost 200 million Dollars. It was suppose to be more efficient, faster, require less staff, and provide better services. It will cost more to maintain, it is hardly working, much slower, and requires more staff to deliver the same benefits.
Fooled you, Colorado, didn't they?



Texas, on the other hand has paid 300 million dollars for an equally bad system, but the people in Austin making the decisions nevertheless still think they will save money, require fewer staff, and be more efficient. Colorado was fooled. Texas State leaders are simply foolish, or are being paid very well under the table to be willing to appear to be such.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is still charging ahead with its plans to introduce a flawed system. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they nevertheless, still plan to roll it out state wide, AND reduce staff at the same time. Consequently, we should expect to see a far bigger mess than Colorado had (and still has).

Welfare issues won’t end with computer fix


By PERRY SWANSON - THE GAZETTE


Running Colorado’s troubled computer system for welfare benefits will probably cost more than previous systems after its glitches are fixed, El Paso County’s top welfare official said Monday.

The system was supposed to streamline applying for welfare benefits and help in other areas such as detecting fraud. But even if the system worked as planned, managing welfare cases will still take more time and workers than required with the six computer systems it replaced.

Despite originally selling this to the Legislature as a big cost saving and a staff reduction, it’s very unlikely that’s going to be the case,” said Department of Human Services Director Barbara Drake.

Gov. Bill Owens ordered that the $200 million Colorado Benefits Management System be activated Sept. 1 over the objections of welfare administrators in all the state’s 64 counties, who feared the system was not ready.

It wasn’t.

The system mistakenly denied benefits such as food stamps to thousands of families, and welfare workers still haven’t caught up with a backlog of unprocessed applications for help. Some system flaws have been repaired and workers are making progress on the application backlog, thanks to help from the state including 35 temporary employees, El Paso County welfare officials reported Monday.

The state has picked up the tab for temporary workers in many counties, spending millions of dollars so far.

Drake cited an Adams County study that found the department would need more workers even if all the computer flaws were fixed. Commissioner Wayne Williams said that’s difficult to predict because computer experts are still working on the repairs.

Williams said the computer problems are taking attention from the welfare department’s mission.

The big consequence of this transition is that we’re not able to devote staff resources to actually help people move off the welfare system,” Williams said.

Drake is likely to face a staff reduction with or without the computer system fixes because funding for the temporary workers is expected to expire by late September or early October.

The welfare department’s budget was cut this year from $45.5 million to $44.3 million while the need for benefits such as cash payments, food stamps and Medicaid is rising.


Lawmakers balk at cost to fix welfare computers
By Steven K. Paulson, Associated Press
June 21, 2005


State lawmakers balked Tuesday at sinking another $8.2 million into Colorado's beleaguered welfare computer system, including $250,000 to rent office space from the computer builder for workers hired by the state to fix the problem.

"We're bringing in people to straighten this out, and they have the nerve to charge us rent to house these people?" asked Sen. Moe Keller, D-Wheat Ridge.

Keller and other members of the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee put off a vote on the funding request, submitted by Gov. Bill Owens' administration, until at least Wednesday.

Keller said Electronic Data Systems, which has the contract, should provide the office space for the 34 workers because it failed to live up to its obligations to build the $200 million system and got the state dragged into court over failures to provide welfare benefits on time.

"We were told by EDS they had a computer program that would address the needs of our constituents. It's a mess, it's a disaster," she said.

Sen. Dave Owen, R-Greeley, questioned the need for the state to hire more workers.

"Here we have this huge bureaucracy for this two-year period," he said.

Bill Ritz, a spokesman for EDS, did not return calls seeking comment.

The Colorado Benefits Management System, or CBMS, is responsible for processing welfare benefits that include Medicaid and food stamps. It went online in September even though some counties complained they weren't ready to make the switch.

The system was blamed for causing a backlog of nearly 30,000 cases, and a judge ordered the state to clear up the problems or face sanctions. In May, the state said the backlog had been reduced to 9,000 cases.

Owens stepped in after an independent report cited management failures as one of the reasons the system has major flaws. He put Republican former Rep. John Witwer, a retired physician, in charge at an annual salary of $110,000.

Witwer asked the JBC for $8.2 million and state budget officials pared the figure to $5.2 million, saying the money is needed because of "an emergency or act of God," a designation necessary for funding when the Legislature in not in session.

Witwer said the state needs to hire temporary technicians for up to two years to work with EDS to get the system working properly. He said the state and company will have to decide later who is at fault for the problems and who should pay.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Waltzing Matilda





Speaking of interesting songs, this song is considered Australia's national song. When I visited Australia in December of 2000, I was introduced to it at a Russian Orthodox Youth Conference in Western Australia. They sang this song with a lot of gusto, and it had a catchy Irish sounding tune, but the words didn't make much sense to me at the time.

If you have ever seen the movie "On The Beach" with Gregory Peck, you would have heard it throughout the movie (which is about an American Nuclear Sub that goes to Australia after a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, only to watch everyone eventually die off from the radiation).

There is an entire web site dedicated to this song, and it has several sound files you can listen to, if you have never heard it before.

Here are the words:

Waltzing Matilda
'Banjo' (A.B.) Patterson, c. 1890


Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
You'll come a-waltzing matilda with me

Chorus: Waltzing matilda, waltzing matilda You'll come a waltzing matilda with me And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled You'll come a-waltzing matilda with me

Down came a jumbuck to dri-ink at that billabong
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee
And he sang as he stuffed that jumbuck in his tucker-bag
You'll come a-waltzing matilda with me

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred
Up rode the troopers, one, two, three
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker-bag?"
You'll come a-waltzing matilda with me

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into that billabong
"You'll never take me alive!", said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pa-ass by that billabong
You'll come a-waltzing matilda with me

Here's the meaning:

billabong

An originally aboriginal word for a section of still water adjacent to a river, cut off by a change in the watercourse, cf. an oxbow lake. In the Australian outback, a billabong generally retains water longer than the watercourse itself, so it may be the only water for miles around.

billy

A tin can, maybe two litres (four pints) in capacity, usually with a wire handle attached to the top rim, in which 'swaggies' (and contemporary Australian campers) boil water to make tea (and to kill the beasties in the water they've taken out of the billabong).

coolibah tree (also coolabah)

A particular kind of eucalyptus that grows beside billabongs.

More specifically, a friend tells me that it's eucalyptus microtheca, a small to medium-sized tree to 20m, widespread in arid and semi-arid areas near watercourses and seasonally inundated areas in open woodlands, found in all states except Victoria and Tasmania.

jumbuck

A sheep.

The Macquarie Dictionary suggests that the term is an Aboriginal corruption of 'jump up'. A correspondent, Leslie (Lee) Harvey advises me that the term derives from 'jombok'. "Jomboks are those big, white, fluffy clouds that typically drift across the inland Australian skies in late summer and Autumn. When the aboriginals first saw sheep they were reminded of jomboks and they just changed one letter to avoid confusion in their spoken language. I also think the first European translators misspelled the word jumbuck".

squatter

As Australia was settled, there was of course little or no authority and bureaucracy in place. People 'squatted' on patches of land, grazed their animals, grew their crops and built their houses and fences. In due course, as authority arrived, it generally accepted the claims of whoever was in apparent possession of the land (aboriginals had been no match for armed white men, and anyway were largely nomadic across reasonably large areas). Particularly in good quality grazing country, squatters quickly became relatively very well off, hence the term 'squattocracy' which blends 'squatter' with 'aristocracy'. The constabulary tended to work with them to maintain law and order. To non-land-owners, squatters were an object of resentment.

swagman

A gentleman of the road, an itinerant roaming country roads, a drifter, a tramp, a hobo. Carried his few belongings slung in a cloth, which was called by a wide variety of names, including 'swag', 'shiralee' and 'bluey'. Given the large number of names for them, they must have been a pretty common sight.

troopers

A cavalry soldier, or perhaps a mounted militia-man or policeman. To a swaggie, what was the difference??

tucker-bag

A bag to keep tucker in. Tucker is grub, victuals/vittles, or food.

waltzing matilda

Matilda was a mock-romantic word for a swag, and to waltz matilda was to hit the road with a swag on your back. Very few non-Australians seem to understand this, and hence regard the song as gibberish or cute, something like 'Jabberwocky' set to music. "'Twas brillig and the slithy toves ..." indeed.

The term is thought to come from a German expression. Auf die Walz gehen means to take to the road (as of apprentices in the Middle Ages, who were required by their Master to visit other Masters and report back, before they could secure their release. In some trades, at least in some parts of Germany and I believe Denmark, they still do). The dance, anglicised as 'waltz', came several centuries later). Matilda is a girl's name, applied to one's bed-roll. As a correspondent points out, this is a bit of a come-down for a name that originated as the Teutonic Mathilde - 'Mighty in Battle'.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So the poem (doggerel? folk song?) can be interpreted as yet another Aussie complaint about them in authority. We're one of the most urbanised nations in the world, who sort-of yearn for the wide open spaces (there's so much of it out there!), and the freedom that goes with it (or at least seems to go with it, to those that don't live there). So Waltzing Matilda strikes a chord (so to speak), generation after generation, for the same reason that Crocodile Dundee was as popular here as anywhere else - we know we're not like that; but it's fun pretending for a while that we are.

Note: These are my own explanations and interpretations, checked against the Macquarie Dictionary; except for the origins of the term to 'waltz matilda', which, like most Australians, I didn't know until I looked it up.

Another Note: The only one of these words that's basically died out of Australian english is 'jumbuck', although 'troopers' is a bit dated, and 'waltzing matilda' only survives because of this song.

An Aside: When the trooper says "where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tuckerbag?", he seems like a right galah (twit, twerp, nerd/nurd, fool), asking a question he's already declared he knows the answer to. Actually, it's quite sensible, because, at least in Australian english, you say it with your hand extended expectantly, and it means "give it back!". There's lots of examples of such perversity in the language, derivative, I reckon, from the significant Irish element in early Australia (ever wondered why a redhead's called 'blue'?).

A Final Aside: Many non-Australians assume that the cute-sounding place-names and other words in Australian english are from the Aboriginal language. In fact, there were hundreds of aboriginal languages, and many language families largely unrelated to one another. An illustration of the confusions that this has led to relates to the 'kangaroo'. The word was brought back to Britain by Captain Cook in 1770, along with the first drawings of the animal. He had heard it used by North Queensland aboriginals during one of his landings up there. When the first white settlement was established at Sydney in 1788, over 2,000 kilometers south of Cook's landing, the local aboriginals heard the white men referring to the animal as 'kangaroo', and assumed it was the white man's name for the thing. I wonder if anyone knows what it was called in the language of the local tribe on the shores of Sydney Harbour (the Dhurag - spelt whichever way you like, because they had no written language, and are long since extinct). The sailors, marines and convicts didn't have an anthropologist with them at the time, let alone a linguistics professor.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Great Movies with Great Music



Eric Liddell, aka "The Flying Scotsman" whose life was partially depicted in the movie "Chariots of Fire"


Recently I commented on some of the music from the movie "We Were Soldiers". I was sent two articles that give the background of the hymn "The Mansions of the Lord." I had assumed it was an old hymn, though I wasn't sure where I had heard it before. As it turns out, it was sung at Reagan's Funeral, and it was written for the movie "We Were Soldiers".

The other article provides these details:

"A new song written by the movie’s musical director, Nick Glennie-Smith, and director Randall Wallace, “The Mansions of the Lord,” begins the final suite on the soundtrack. This reserved yet moving tribute to fallen sons and daughters has become the unofficial US Army hymn and was even selected as the processional music for the state funeral of Ronald Reagan.... Mr. Wallace would later state that they were so inspired by those who made the courageous choice to serve our country that he and Glennie-Smith wrote the emotionally binding hymn in only ten minutes."

Wow.

While reading the article on NPR, they had the audio of another hymn that was sung at Reagan's Funeral: "O Love of God, How Strong and True" by C. Hubert Parry. This hymn was written to the melody of another song that played a prominent role in another great movie: "Chariots of Fire" -- "Jerusalem"

Jerusalem - by William Blake


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.



This poem references the legend that Christ visited England as a young man.
And is considered almost a second British national anthem.

You can listen to this hymn here.

This hymn provided the movie with it's title, and with a moving ending. "Chariots of Fire" remains my favorite movie, and Eric Liddell has been a hero ever since I saw it for the first time. His life after the time covered by the movie was even more moving to discover when I read the book "The Flying Scotsman" (which I believe is out of print, unfortunately, but is still listed on Amazon. In short, he left fame (he was hugely famous in Scotland), and headed off to China as a missionary. He died in a Japanese prison camp. While in that camp, he coached the kids in various sports, but at first refused to do so on Sunday (as he refused to race on Sunday in the Movie), but when he saw that the kids would play on Sunday any way, but would get into fights without him being there, he decided to coach on Sunday after all -- something he would not do for olympic gold, but did to keep kids from getting into trouble in a prison camp.

How's that for a stream of consciousness.

Why Heather Shouldn't Have Two Mommies





Michelle Malkin on Rosie O'Donnell's reaction to the bonding that was occuring with her "partner" when she was breastfeeding her baby, before she demanded it be stopped.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Christophobia



Dracula... obviously a liberal Democrat, backs away from the Cross


Howard Dean rages against Republicans, who all look alike, and are all white Christians (This from a man who grew up on Park Avenue, and was governor of the whitest state in America).

But liberal political correctness rules about benedictions on College Campuses, show us what they mean by "diversity". They are all about diversity, as long as everyone agrees with them (or is at least forced to speak and act in ways acceptable to them. (Hat-tip to Fr. Joseph Huneycutt)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Obi-Wan Puts Foot in Mouth





Darth Vader: "If you're not with me, you're my enemy."

Obi-Wan Kenobi: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

Mr. Spock: "Illogical. That, Mr. Kenobi, is an absolute statement."

Read more on this from Terry Mattingly.