Terrifying government by cracked pot

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Paul Waldman of The Washington Post writes that the selection of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser is "Donald Trump’s most terrifying appointment." Flynn has a history of making incendiary and Islamophobic statements that have drawn much crtiticism.

"Donald Trump has gone about picking his Cabinet and senior advisers in much the way one might have predicted. Instead of looking for people with the highest levels of experience, expertise, and competence, he seems to be making his choices based on criteria like who he’s seen on Fox News, or who praised him effusively, or who has a cool nickname. There may be no more dangerous choice Trump has made so far than picking Michael Flynn to be his national security adviser. There are few more important positions in the White House, and few where the wrong choice could have consequences quite as catastrophic. If we contemplate how President Trump might handle an international crisis—which he will face, probably before long—we see just how troubling Flynn’s appointment is. … But to put it plainly, Michael Flynn is a crackpot."

Waldman goes on to give abundant evidence of this.

The national security adviser coordinates policy between the multiple US agencies whose work touches on national security, so that that the president has the best, clearest, and most accurate information with which to make decisions. "For a President Trump’s unique combination of ignorance, inexperience, and impulsiveness, it’s particularly vital to have a national security adviser who can encourage calm and thoughtfulness, and not be distracted by what’s irrelevant or downright false. … When it comes to matters of national security, Donald Trump will not be like other Republicans. He’s likely to be reckless and foolish in ways we can’t yet predict. And people like Mike Flynn reinforce his worst instincts, including his own propensity to believe ludicrous conspiracy theories. … The only way Flynn will be replaced by someone less likely to push us toward some kind of disaster is if Trump decides to push him aside. There’s no indication yet that Trump is inclined to do so. But we had better hope he changes his mind."

Lord have mercy.

A void at the heart of soulless technocracy

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In an editorial on 4 December 2016, The Guardian view on Christianity in Britain: neither here nor there, the paper finds there to be "something very strange" going on. "The chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission feels he must tell employers it is OK to celebrate Christmas, and that this will not offend unbelievers. The prime minister announces in parliament that of course people should be able to speak freely about their religious convictions. A thinktank argues that there should be a duty of "reasonable accommodation" to religious belief. All these, the paper says, are symptoms of "a deep unease and confusion about the role of Christianity in British life."

The Guardian observes that Britain is largely secular and its population "largely indifferent to distinctively Christian beliefs, with "a growing hostility to the notion of ‘religion’ at all." On the other hand, to claim that Christians who are prevented from discriminating against gay people, for example, are thereby themselves discriminated against, "is hardly convincing."

All that said, "A compassionate society is one that treats its members compassionately. […] More subtly, the values of a society are developed and maintained by its institutions [of which] many will always be religious. It would be stupid and self-destructive to make such groups feel useless and unwanted. The nervousness over Christmas, or even over expressing religious belief, is an absurd expression of a real void at the heart of soulless technocracy.

Just so — in Australia as much as in the United Kingdom.

Come sweeping through us

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Thursday, 6th December 2016, will be an important day for our local parish, as we welcome our new minister, the Revd Martin Johnson. The music will include this hymn, which is very much my prayer:

O breath of life, come sweeping through us,
revive your church with life and power;
O breath of life, come cleanse, renew us,
and fit your church to meet this hour.

O wind of God, come bend us, break us,
till humbly we confess our need;
then in your tenderness remake us,
revive, restore: for this we plead.

O breath of love, come breathe within us,
renewing thought and will and heart;
come, love of Christ, afresh to win us,
revive your church in every part.

Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating
while harvest fields are vast and white?
Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting
equip your church to spread the light.
—Elizabeth A. P. Head, (1850-1936)

The moose test

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This is a 2016 Toyota Hilux failing the “moose test” a.k.a. the “elk test”.

View a few more spectacular failures here.

Our humble middle-aged Subaru Impreza passed such a test when we swerved to avoid being taken out by a careless lane-switching taxi driver yesterday.