Saturday, 24 December 2011


It was a universe, not of our making, nor of our choosing. Yet it was beautiful and deceptively peaceful in German Silesia that Christmas Eve. For a brief moment the moon was alone and silent in the night sky. It softly and kindly illuminated the blanket of snow that hugged our barbed wire and the guard towers as we few survivors of aerial battles, some as long ago as five years ago, remembered distant homes and better times.
Suddenly, the quiet night was shattered by the foreboding wail of surens, soon followed by the ugly sounds of exploding flak and bombs as Bomber Command and the Luftwaffe were taking, and losing, young lives as hundreds of families were being killed or maimed in their own homes thus sickening us with a revulsion against all who claimed to worship the same god yet saw fit to continue the slaughter even on his birthday.
We all longed to be home with the war a receding memory, yet there was little or no animosity towards the Luftwaffe flak gunners or night fighters who were up there killing our comrades while defending their homeland. We were all victims of man's insanity. In a way we pitied them. We in Bomber Command were excused further operations on the completion of 60, a fond hope when the life expectancy was only 5, but they had to go on until they found 'The Heroes' Death'. Numerous were the obituaries of those who did.
Helmut Lent, in his Messerschmitt 110, destroyed 110 of our bombers over several years before he found The Heroes' Death in October 1944. Heinz Wolfgang Schnauder fought 164 night battles in an ME 110, destroying 121 of our bombers, survived the war, only to be killed in a car accident. These two men killed some 1,500 of us.
Men, boys really, like these caused us grievous losses, like the night of 30/31 March 1944 when, during a Nurnberg raid, destroyed 94 of 705 bombers, killing 658 of 4,935 aircrew.
In the end we prevailed, at enormous cost to us and even greater cost to them, but what did we learn? This Christmas our highly-flawed species remains at war.
For me, it all seemed so sad when in 1957 I met, and became friends with, the German who shot me down in March 1943. I felt that both of us were flanked by the ghosts of lost comrades, created by the inability of our victorious veterans of WWI to prevent inept politicians from setting the stage for WWII and robbing the world of the promise of the war-to-end-all-wars.
In wars it is the Military that creates, and endures, the greatest sufferings. So, in those countries where individual rights are cherished and where civil authorities control the military, is it not the responsibility of the less-restricted veterans associations to speak for the concerns of the Military that has such an enormous stake in world peace, and to ensure they get as much attention as commercial and political interests?

Saturday, 17 September 2011


   David Bashow has sent me a copy of his latest book, Soldiers Blue, in which he uses facts, figures, and eloquent arguments to refute all those who, over the years, have accused me of being a despicable murderer of women and children and a destroyer of famed cities.  David claims that actually I contributed to the force that played a major role in winning WWII.  Why do I agree with both assessments?

   David and I share many characteristics.  We both suffer from verbal diarrhea, and have both channelled this into books, articles, and lectures, as well as teaching history.  David did his teaching at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario.  Our Air Force hung on to him for 36 years while they dismissed me after 25 back in 1966 when the compulsory retirement age was 47.  David retired in 2004 after flying those frivolous Starfighters and Hornets whereas I was an Observer, you know - that triple threat that combined navigation, bomb aiming, and gunnery - in the more sedate Wellingtons and Halifaxes.

   As a veteran of 17 (3 mining, all precision, and 14 bombing, only 4 precision) Bomber Command operations and 800 days as a prisoner of war, I have watched films, attended talks, and read articles and books that ran the gamut from high praise to high condemnation.  So, I published my own book on my RCAF career, wrote hundreds of letters and articles, and gave over 200 hour-long talks on the topic.

   Some of us, who were history buffs and who analysed the news, knew what we were getting into back in 1939.  The slaughter of WWI was still a painful part of our boyhood, yet far too many, on seeing how devastating our old Lee Enfield rifles or our venerable artillery 25 pounders were, believed we could easily blast our way to Berlin.  But, really, what choice did any of us have?  Basically we were, in all countries,  a bunch of kids caught up in the folly of war so prevalent in our last 10,000 years as a species.  Those of us directed into the stream feeding Bomber Command discovered immediately on joining an operational squadron that our chances of survival were too low to contemplate, but still better than for those fed into the Kriegsmarine U-Boat stream.  Our average life expectany was 5 operations and we were tasked to complete 30 before our first break of 6 months, usually to train others, then to do another 30.  Mathematically close to impossible.  Something in human nature tells us that we will survive and that it will be our friends who get the chop, but almost all of us adopted an appearance of courage and duty to hide gnawing fear and a growing fatalism.

   We knew we had a dirty job to do.  We were our only weapon that could hit deeply into Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy so winning the war was up to us.  We had to convince ourselves that we were innocent in creating the environment that permitted monsters like Hitler to prevail.  Daylight operation had proven disastrous, so we flew at night over a blacked-out Europe with, for the first few years, only astro-navigation to guide us.  This meant holding the aircraft steady for 5 minutes, an easy target for flak and fighters, to get a 2-star fix which, if we were good, gave an accuracy of under 10 nautical miles.  New electronic aids were soon jammed by the Germans.  This, we knew, meant area bombing and the fact that most of our victims would be civilians.  We were not to see the dead, dying, and wounded, but visions of mutilated people and animals have haunted us survivors for the rest of our lives.  These deep wounds have been repeatedly re-opened by the many who have argued that were were immoral and that area bombing had little effect on the war's outcome.  They praise the accuracy of daylight USAAF bombing, ignoring the fact that widespread USAAF formations all dropped when the lead bomber did - thus also area bombing.  David provides many instances of Bomber Command precision and USAAF area bombings.  I was to endure a score of Bomber Command raids and two USAAF, one of which rained down on us hundreds of fragments of female clothing from a nearby school or factory they had hit.

   Of the 125,000 who flew with Bomber Command, 73,741 became casualties:  55,500 killed, 9,838 POWs, and 8,403 wounded.   For the most part POWs were well treated by the civilians who captured them and by the Luftwaffe.  I consider Stalag Luft III my Alma Mater.  German newspapers and magazines had fairly honest reporting, but revealed increasing pain from bombings by us Luftgangsters.  For us, with years to discuss Life with intelligent aircrew from over a score of countries and with interaction with the Luftwaffe we learned that people are people with good, bad, and indifferent in every culture.   Proportions vary.  For instance there was a world of difference between the Luftwaffe and the Gestapo and SS.  I met over a hundred German civilians.  All were respectful.  Yet, in those weeks between liberation and repatriation I was to know of numerous cases of rape, most by freed slave labourers but also by ex-POWs, fortunately by none whom I called friend.   There was harsh treatment to some of our guards who had been kind to us and our Kommandant, a gentleman and WWI ace, was jailed and denied access to his destitute wife for 2 years.

   As a POW I was incarcerated in 5 different camps, was on the long march westwards fleeing the Soviets, and was also transported 3 times by very crowded boxcars.  On the first of these we had just pulled out of Dresden when it was hit.  Ageing German engines required frequent stops for repairs and we had stopped in Dresden.   The station was crowded with women and children and a few old men,  I saw no soldiers.  David tells me there were military plants there, but to me it was much too late in the war and the raids were overkill whose only purpose was to impress the advancing Soviets.  Later I got to talk briefly to the train driver whose family was in Dresden.  It amazed me that he remained civil to us.  We had to stop again in what was left of the city of Plauen, now little but rubble with numerous rain-filled craters containing bits of human and horse remains.  Scores of female French, Dutch, and Polish forced labourrs were repairing the rails so we could roll through.  We were ashamed of being human beings.  Our universe was no better when we crept into Nurnberg, another devastated city.  We walked to a camp on its outskirts where the hut to which I was assigned had no beds but hundreds of bed bugs.  With the Germans we got to know the cravings of hunger and growing apathy about survival.  A frequent visitor, Bomber Command ventilated many of our huts.  It denied the German transportation system the ability to get Red Cross food to us so our daily ration was a ladle of wormy soup, 2 rotten potatoes, and 4 thin slices of black bread.  Our guards had little more.  On days after raids they were pressed into rescue and cleanup allowing no time to bring our food in.  It was a diet I do not recommend.

   I came much too close to being killed by friendly fire on far too many occasions.  I was strafed by 3 passes of 9 Thunderbolts, bombed twice by the USAAF and many times by Bomber Command.  Other than for a few stray bombs and bullets I did miss the same treatment from the Soviets by a few hours but for weeks was well with earshot of their bombardments.  I spent a memorable night locked in a boxcar in the Munich marshalling yards rocked by the heat and blast of 4,000 pound bombs and a low-flying Mosquito disassembling our engine.  The train of boxcars on the adjacent siding was packed with creatures that had one been human - destined for the Dachau ovens and a reminder of why we fought.  In the morning it was a this-life-is-not-worth-living sight to see the man-made destruction of fine edifices man had built.

   Later, as I slowly made my way from Bavaria to wrecked Le Have for airlift to England  I saw Bomber Command's handiwork everywhere.  Frequent were the detours around large bomb craters.

   I had admired the stubborn British who refused to give in to the blitz, but what the Germans endured was far in excess of this, not to mention the Belgians, Dutch, and French.  I do agree with David that Bomber Command tactics were a major winning factor and that tanks and artillery are also cruel weapons.  Yet, while bombing I could never escape the feeling that all Life is one and what I was doing to others I was actually doing to myself and a lifetime of remorse and guilt has borne this out.  Some 125 valued friends who perished have remained painfully with me.

   What annoys me still is that we have not learned.  We continue to devote an excess of resources to arming ourselves against a few real and many imaginary threats while doing far too little to remove the causes of war:  greed, over-population, huge populations confined to insufficiently-fertile areas, the chasm between rich and poor, female subjugation, man-made climate change, environmental destruction, and the like.

   Are we really Homo sapiens or simply Homo the Sap?

   Yes, I do appreciate David's concern and his portrayal of the human spirit in two world wars as well as current conflicts.  May it help convince those who hold power to realize that wars beget wars and that salvation lies in directing our energies to the long-past-due task of setting humanity on a more peaceful voyage.  RIP (Rest In Peace) belongs to more than tombstones.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


From my comfortable sofa I can simultaneously watch TV and my plant-filled sun deck that is glassed in with sliding doors and a high ceiling.
Both views reveal lack of intelligence. On the television I can watch in disbelieve our elected representatives wasting endless hours in bickerings that evade what must be done to get us out of the mess they got us into. Sad, because some exhibit common sense plus responsibility for the welfare of the people, the nation, and the world while enough, who are beholden to interests from whom they rely on for financial aid, can block universally-beneficial remedies. With the sun deck I can watch similar actions.
When the glass sliding doors are closed, feral cats, raccoons, and squirrels find the cat door and shove open the curtains to enjoy the cat food and water left there, then leave the way they came.
In the warmer months the glass doors remain open. The flowers attract flying visitors. Some have no difficulty leaving the way they entered, but humming birds and bees often, after obtaining enough nectar, want to leave, they fly up to the glass ceiling where they can spend the rest of their lives seeking a higher ceiling - just like those forever raising our debt ceiling, never realizing salvation lies in coming down.
Fortunately for the humming birds and bees, I have a net on the end of a long pole and am adept at snagging and releasing them.
I am open to suggestions on how to modify the net to snag errant politicians.

Friday, 22 July 2011


What a difficult and thankless task it is to govern this country! It elects an energetic, capable individual with long-range vision of what the country, and the world, needs, then allows the opposition, with vision limited to bringing him down, to place in his path formidable obstacles that have prevented him from enacting many of his promises to the dismay of his supporters who accuse him of compromising too much.
Successful and enduring democracies, especially those linked to a capitalist economic system, require a human population whose majority is responsible, honest, and willing to share in the burdens of contributing to the welfare of the environment it temporarily holds in trust from Nature for future generations. How, then, does the United States rate? By force, theft, and purchase, it has taken over from others a vast stretch of forested, fertile, resource-rich land blessed with a varied climate, most in the best range for humans. It has cemented over much of this land to accommodate a bulging population, but it has kept 50 states united to contribute to the world some of its best scientists, engineers, builders, thinkers, writers, musicians, athletes, and benefactors. Militarily, it has been top dog at least from the Cold War, but the use of this power has produced few benefits for the world while exacting huge costs in lives and resources. Because of its size it ranks #1 in the amount of foreign aid donated, but 11th as a percentage of GDP.
It leads the world in flag waving and heart-clenched emotion over the national anthem, giving the impression of solidarity in love of country, yet . . . . .
105,000 familis, earning from $211,000 to $2 million annually avoid paying any income tax, but efforts to close their loopholes as well as those for major corporations that pay little or no taxes on huge profits are strenuously opposed. There is widespread distrust of government, its taxes and regulations that curtail individual rights to live free and unfettered. This, of course, allows Greed to run rampant. Greed does provide incentive to work, to invent, and to provide services, but it also enhances the exploitation of man by man. We do need regulations, safety nets, and the police to enforce them. We then need police to police the police.
Numerous armed, anti-government militias flourish among far-right extremists who seem to know only frontier individualism while embracing racism and religious bigotry.
Over 5 million citizens, addicted to drugs to the tune of $65 billion annually, create a $40 billion profit for 6 major and many minor Mexican cartels that purchase from US dealers 70% of their weapons that have taken over 50,000 lives including 17 journalists.
While Canada ranks the 8th most peaceful country, the US ranks 82nd. Mexico is #121.
Of the ships that use US ports, 88% fly 'flags of convenience' to avoid US taxes, safety regulations, and pay scales.
The legal use of off-shore tax havens costs the IRS up to $70 billion annually. And then there are 1,485 in 2010 who made their fortunes in the US, only to renounce their citizenship, and take their wealth to a lower-tax country.
Unregulated US financial institutions created a world economic meltdown resulting in the foreclosure of millions of US homes, high unemployment, and increased poverty, but enhanced profits for the already-rich. Jobs have not been lost - they were just moved to low-cost countries for increased profits.
The dangerous, and frightening, distrust of government is understandable as understanding the maze of appendices that have grown in and around 3 branches of government is most confusing. The Judical Branch has 5 agencies, the Legislative 11, and the Executive 17. That is just the beginning. In the Executive Branch, the Agricultural Department has 19 sub agencies, the Department of Defense has 28 plus 8 in Homeland Security which has 27 sub offices. This leads to redundancy, duplication, bureaucracy, lack of transparency, empire building, inefficiency, confusion, delays, and extravagance.
Income tax specialists thrive because so many of us are unable to retain a modicum of sanity when preparing a tax return then mailing the forms to one address and the remittance to another, doubling postage and creating the straw that breaks the camel's sanity.
As a percentage of GDP, the United States, that lives highest on the hog, has the lowest tax burden of industrialized countries. Yes, we can save by streamlining government but refusing to raise taxes, or at least close the loopholes, is irresponsible, unpatriotic, and disastrous.

Thursday, 21 July 2011


I was composing a blog along similar lines when my friend, Tom Kupecz of Trenton, Ontario, sent me this and is allowing me to share it with you:
It is difficult these days to figure out what is up with the economy. The world over, capitalists seem to have borrowed way more than they can repay, banks have lent way more than their clients can handle, the soup lines are getting longer, and the authors of our misfortunes are getting even more obscenely wealthy. It might do to look at how we got into this mess in the first place. It may have to do with human nature, not a happy idea, since it would be close to impossible to counter.
People are competitive beasts. When we cooperate it is mainly to make it easier to win in whatever we do, be it work or play. It is only the artsy folk who do not need to get that promotion or win that game. The rest of us are fulfilled by doing better than, well, everyone around us. Studies have shown that to be content all we need is to be as well off as our friends and neighbours; do better than them and we are perfectly happy. If we had twice as much, but they had twice as much plus a little more, we would be in despair. It is very relative.
Now these studies are conducted by social scientists, a set of researchers who seem to be able to prove anything they set out to, but this particular finding feels right. Jealously is very powerful. One of the assumptions here is that having more stuff is better. We measure well being by how much we possess. Watch TV and you see the ads, and most programs, reinforce this idea. The path to happines is paved with shiny new stuff!
We live in a Democracy, the best form of government ever, in a Capitalist economy, the most successful system ever devised. We know this because we have been told so for years. And over time we have defeated all the other systems of government and of economy. At least up to now. As the foreclosures continue and the bread lines persist it may become harder to keep the faith.
A few questions: Why is the US congress locked in ideological squabbling. fiddling while the economy burns? Why are the authors of the economic meltdown more wealthy than ever? Why is the totalitarian Chinese economy succeeding so stunningly? Could it be that we have got something fundamentally wrong?
The basis of Capitalism is the accumulation of money to be able to create business, whatever it may be. Raising the funds can take many forms, but in the end it is the ability to persuade and convince others to lend money that marks the successful Capitalist. Wall Street financiers are very good at gathering together large amounts of money, but they have proven pretty mediocre at applying it sensibly. When the profits from simply selling stocks and bonds became merely huge, the Wizards of Wall Street invented a panoply of "derivatives". The Heart of Capitalism has become a casino where investors gamble on the rise or fall of an index of selected stocks, or bet on the market value of a stock rising or falling in a certain period. And other weird ways of increasing a portfolio's value. This has no relationship with creating business.
Something else that everyone knows is that the Economy must grow, or we face Stagnation, Recession, and Depression. But why? To accommodate the increasing world population? To pay interest on all that Capital borrowed to create business? Or so wealthy Capitaists can become wealthier? Probably all of the above - the first two are driven by the laws of Nature or Finance but the last one is most likely the main driver.
When you can afford to live well, life is good. But what is really good? Once you get beyond poverty and its resultant malnutrition and illness, what makes you happy? It seems that we are fulfilled by our relationships with other people, humans developed as tribal creatures, and are desperately unhappy when unable to interact at the personal level with family and friends. In our frenetic lifestyles we seem to have forgotten that.
Once upon a time we were going to live in a futue Utopia, served by all manner of machines while we fulfilled ourselves, freed from drudgery. Well, the future is here, and the machines are taking over the drudgery (read: jobs) and the machine owners are getting wealthy, while mankind is sinking into poverty. Governments, which rely on taxes for income, are finding that personal income tax revenues are falling with increasing unemployment, while the wealthy Capitalists are able to have corporate taxes reduced in the name of creating jobs. Since the jobs they create are increasingly performed by machines, more people have leisure time with no money to enjoy it.
The problem is not so much how to put the economy back on track but how to adapt to an economy that will never again offer ever-increasing salaries. Since the people in charge are the competitive ones who are succeeding in the present environment, this will be difficult.
The explosion of technologies from information management to robotics to genetics may be able to provide means to adapt. We need to give some thought to our political system that appears not to possess the will to adapt.

Sunday, 29 May 2011


It is gratifying that, unlike Harper and Netanyahu, Obama and European leaders agree with my long-time stance that Israel will only know peace if it withdraws to its original borders or gives up equally-valuable land to keep a few of its West Bank illegal settlements. And Jerusalem, sacred to 3 religions, must be an international city. Failure to do this will repeat what the Middle East has known for 5,000 years and, by association, destroy US interests in the area. Netanyahu's militarily-defensible borders do not exist short of the English Channel and the Urals.

Just since WWII, we have endured much bloodshed and suffering with borders in Germany, Poland, the USSR, Jugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Eritrea, Kashmir, Pakistan, India, etc. Enough already!

To understand, if that is possible, the current problems in Palestine, we need some history. As most N&S Americans are Caucasians, most outside of Egypt, Turkey, and Iran in the Middle East are Semites who emigrated with female gods in groups over centuries from Arabia. By 2000 BC the first were in firm control in the Babylon of the older Sumerian culture. Hebrews were one of the later groups and the Israelis an offshoot.

Now, there is much myth and the deliberate creation of altered Hebrew history for political purposes mixed in here and archaeologists have yet to confirm all that is written. Israeli archaeaologists are also digging for the truth. The many discrepancies in the stories of Abraham, Sarah, David, and Solomon now indicate that at least Abraham was fabricated about 600BC in order to justify Jewish claims and the forceful introduction of the Aryan male god Yahweh who ordered the destruction of all other gods including the goddess Ashtoreth (she had many names). This was not without strong opposition just as in 632AD when Islam moved in.

Over the centuries, scores of villages and city states took turns in prospering, attaining dominance, and grabbing more land from neighbours which eventually led to all of their downfalls, some to rise again only to fall again. During all this, the Jews, who were just as quarrelsome as all the rest, faced expulsions and captivity from Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, Turks, and Crusaders, not to mention the plagues of the 14th and 15th centuries BC. But page room dictates we jump to 1831 when the Ottoman Palestine ruler opened the area to Western interests permitting Baron Edmond de Rothschild, a Jew who made a fortune financing the British victory over Napoleon, to buy up housing complexes from landlords, evict the Palestinians, and import Jews who had a big advantage as they had western skills, money, and backing while the Palestinians were emerging from 400 years of Ottoman-Turk rule with little outside help.

For considerble Arab and some Jewish assistance in defeating the Ottoman Empire in WWI, the UK promised both a homeland. The UK did try to allot land fairly. As Jewish refugees multiplied with the rise of Hitler so did frictions which really erupted in 1937 when 5,000 Palestinians, 1,200 Jews, and 500 British were killed. Jewish terrorists, led by Menachem Begin, massacred some 91 more in 1946 at the British headquarters in the King David Hotel, then their Irgun and Stern Gang went on to massacre 250 Palestinians in Deir Yassim in 1948.

Due to this terror, increasing streams of Jewish refugees, and sympathy over the holocaust, we kept our promise only to the Jews. With more Jews in North America than Palestine, and with far more room, we declined to offer them Nova Scotia or California for a Jewish state but placed the entire burden on tiny Palestine, ousting 800,000 to make room, resulting in enormous problems for Jordan and Lebanon. Yes, the Jews have done an amazingly good job in creating modern Israel, albeit with much help in money, weapons, and people from other nations. Understandably, they wanted, and took, more, all at the expense of Palestine whose protests went unheeded, forcing the creation of Hamas and Hezbollah whose terror tactics we deplore while tolerating Israeli crimes. The delayed, feeble, and ineffective rocket attacks by Hamas brought massive and bloody retaliations that the Jews learned from the Nazis.

Fair play has been in short supply in the Middle East. The Arab Spring is long overdue and we do need to support it with all the help and guidance we can give.

Had the Germans entered the Ukraine as liberators rather than oppressors they might have won WWII. The Israelis have the talent, wealth, and backing to be the spark that can change their area, starting with Palestine and Lebanon, into a bastion of tolerance, equality, and dignity for all - and an economic common market.

Please, Israel, do not blow it again. And insulting, boorish behaviour towards your benefactor, the President of the United States, in his home is no way to ensure your future, let alone any respect.

Saturday, 21 May 2011


On her recent visit to Eire our Queen apologized for all the wrongs Britain had committed in Ireland. She did the same when she visited the USA. Great! Apologies are needed.

But I am still waiting for the other sides to own up to the fact that they have just as many, if not more, sins to repent.

While the Irish may be a likeable lot (I am one of them), they are a quarrelsome bunch and have never been united. They had a habit of raiding Britain and it was an Irish king (one of many) who invited England's Norman conquerors in to help him defeat a rival Irish king. The Normans, then English, stayed just as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who came to help the Britons oust the Romans, stayed. And, many Irish prospered by siding with their occupiers who were often oppressive. Irish were a big help in building the British Empire. The Sullivan family alone contributed 4 admirals. Droves enlisted in the British Forces in two world wars and Britain did contribute considerable help during the potato famines.

The revolt of 13 of Britain's 29 American colonies was due more to outrage over Britain's kindness to the defeated French Canadians in safeguarding for them their lands and culture than it was to such issues as taxes that amounted to sixpence per household to help pay for the regiments Britain could ill afford to guard the colonists from the anger of the Natives.

Confessions are good for the soul, and do help to dilute retained grievances.

Friday, 20 May 2011


Emotions, never far below the surface, erupted when my friend, Larry Best, told me this tale. In the 1960s Larry was a Sabre pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. When he, his wife Debbie, and daughter Denise, were transferred to the RCAF base at Baden Soellingen that housed 3 of Canada's 12 NATO fighter squadrons, they used their first leave to look up Debbie's relatives, including cousin Irvin Zellmer. Here is a brief extract from Larry's account:

"Over local Schnapps and the V.O. Seagrams I brought, Irvin and I developed a warm rapport with him attempting English and me German.

Irvin grew up in Neuburg am Donau near Munchen (Munich). Before the war he was a railway engineer. In 1939 he was pressed into service to drive troop trains throughout Europe. As the tides of war turned against Germany in 1944 it was a daily occurrence for Allied fighter bombers to sweep across the European countryside seeking targets of opportunity. Troop trains were especially sought. Initially, RAF/RCAF fighters would make a pass which gave Irvin time to stop the train while all raced for cover. On the second pass they would blow up the train. Irvin would make his way back to Munchen, pick up another train, only to repeat the experience. He escaped serious injury until late 1944 when a section of fighters strafed the troops racing from the train. Irvin took hits in his back which passed through lungs, blew his left leg off above the knee, and took most of his right hand - a miracle he survived.

Irvin dug up a mememto he had buried and gave it to me for safekeeping as such objects were now verboten in Germany - a bronze and silver swastika, 12 by 15 inches."

POSTSCRIPT: I may have known Irvin. In fleeing the Soviet advance I had tramped many miles in snow but I was also transported by box car, getting to talk on 3 different trains to 3 drivers, all tired, cold, hungry, despondent, and facing a bleak future. One had lost his entire family to our bombs in Dresden, but all remained civil to us "Luftgangsters".

About 03 April 1945 I was among hundreds of Allied POWs being transported by crowded box car from Nurnberg to Moosburg. We had painted Red Crosses on the roofs. Near Regensburg a swarm of Liberators, Italy-based, escorted by Thunderbolts, appeared. Our driver stopped the train by some trees adjacent to farmland. As we raced across the field seeking ditches, nine Thunderbolts peeled off in groups of three to swoop on us, all guns firing. The passes they made lasted an eternity as 50-calibre slugs ploughed the ground on both sides of my prone body, hitting the Australian next to me. Not a pretty sight! We survivors catered to the dead and dying, then were herded back and locked into the box cars. The holed engine was patched up, as was the driver, and we struggled on to Moosburg across the Danube on the sole remaining railway bridge. One USAAF survivor had been a Thunderbolt pilot and recognized the squadron letters. He was furious at them ignoring our Red Crosses and the non-military clothing we long-time prisoners were wearing. He kept repeating "I know those bastards and I will have them all crucified."

There are a few wars that do have to be fought, but all wars leave participants with life-long pain and a sense of shame at belonging to the human species.

Saturday, 7 May 2011


Dear Barack Obana:

While we know that you will never read this letter, I must address it to the person whose signature appears on this 3-page request for electioneering funds an alarming 18 months before the election. We continue to place you among the best presidents this country has had but we do feel insulted being asked to contribute to what, at this early stage, can be those endless TV sound bites so meaningless and that engender accusations that are half truths as well as outright lies. They imply to the world that we are a nation lacking in intelligence.

As you well know, governing this nation, and contributing to the welfare of our world, is a colossal task that is greatly hindered by the time and money spent on fund raising - funds that are mostly wasted.

It is high time we adopted a much-more-sensible and economically-sound approach and, like Canada and the U.K., limit electioneering to a maximum of 8 weeks, thus allowing the past four years to judge whether or not incumbents earned their pay and perks and deserve re-election, not to mention the elimination of the waste of time, money, and electorate patience, all badly needed for worthier pursuits. So, if you need a few dollars for the 2012 election, get back to us in September 2012. In the meantime conserve your energies for governing.

And, while I am at this keyboard, let me emphasize that we admire your energy, intelligence, devotion, principles, and promise, yet we do have many concerns:

1. Compromise, as you argue, is what makes the world work, but we do feel that you are too quick to sacrifice principles to satisfy opponents who are more dedicated to your downfall than to the welfare of our world.

2. Good government is needed and we the people must fund it, each according to his/her ability through avenues such as income, property, and sales taxes which are made overly painful by a jungle of collection agencies. Highly frustrating and annoying. Could not all those high-priced economists you employ devise a single simplified agency? - and that goes for health care as well. While greed, self interest, and crime have been dominant among humans we have had, over 10,000 years, a number of good and just rulers with equitable solutions. We believe you are up to the challenge.

3. We, like every other nation, achieved our current form through means fair and foul. Let us strive for honesty in our use of history and strive for a future devoid of the foul.

4. We can bask in the fact that we have contributed much humanitarian aid to less fortunate people, but must admit that self interest has been too dominant in our support of unsavory regimes. Our largesse must be contingent upon it being used in accordance with our principles. One example is Israel. We can sympathize with them and admire their accomplishments but must deplore, and cannot fund, their continued expansion at the expense of others. Our lack of firmness here continues to create justified anger among all of the many versions of the Muslim world, thus adding to our problems.

5. Although a veteran of Bomber Command, 800 days as a POW, and the Korean airlift, I believe this country is overburdened with military might designed for an aggressive empire and not the current world. Why does it need 11 carrier groups, 50 attack submarines, the F35, over 900 bases and over 900 generals?

Yes, we have a daunting array of other major concerns like over-population, climate change, environmental damages, the rich-poor gap, the ruinous debt, drug addiction, crime, and so on - concerns that are heaped on your plate.

And yes, we expect too much of you, but to paraphrase King Abdullah, you may be our last best chance. Good performance, of which you are capable, precludes the need for electioneering funds.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


No one has said it better than Mikhail Gorbachev: "Communism is man exploiting man. Capitalism is the reverse." Exploitation has been rampant throughout history and remains today entrenched even in the so-called Lands of the Free. Unions, built to lessen inequality, became powerful but, as Lord John Acton in 1887 warned, "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." Sadly, unions like Canada Post, the railroads, and automotive have abused power. An ideal society is a two-way street: employees loyal to, and working hard for, employers who, in turn, appreciate and reward them commensurate with their accomplishments and the employer's ability to do so. So, what did I encounter with 3 major and 6 minor employers?

After various summer jobs that paid up to 20 cents an hour, I found in 1938, on graduating from high school with senior matriculation plus a year of commerce courses, a job with the Royal Bank of Canada with a starting salary of $400 a year in a town of 4,000 with 3 competing banks, each with a staff of about 7 men and one woman (the secretary). Room and board in private homes cost $7 per week. Pay raises averages $100 per year and you had to be making $1400 before allowed to marry so you would be about 28. Bank managers were paid about $3,000 per year. Their responsibilities included monitoting the staff for efficient performance of banking duties plus dress, deportment, and affiliation with local sports and social clubs to promote the bank as an important community asset. It was a safe and efficient banking system. No depositor lost a cent during the Great Depression. But, when employees in one large-city branch tried to form a union to achieve higher wages, bank officials moved in, locked out and fired the entire staff and moved in replacements.

I was making $850 a year when I enlisted in the RCAF is the summer of 1941. In an all-out war discipline was not as strict as feared and most of us were quite happy in the Service. The only mutiny I witnessed (crews refusing to bomb Germany in antiquated training aircraft) was settled amicably. By the time I was bombing Germany as an officer I was making $6.25 a day! This was double RAF pay so a wise government, to avoid friction, withheld half our pay for a nice post-war nest egg (for survivors). Our greatest pain was the nightly loss of so many cherished friends. A post-war RCAF career was most interesting but we found we were married to the Service. Families were secondary and wives endured a lot. Every two years we were expected to be proficient within days in a new job in a new location with no extra time allowed to hunt for family housing in a very tight market with no building during six war years while the population doubled. Twice we had to buy holes in the ground and wait two months for a house to be built. With provincial school systems that were superior to, and disdainful of all others, it was often a fight to get children accepted without dropping a grade. All five of our girls were born on the move. Numerous advanced courses and secondary (unpaid) duties also took time away from families. Today, this has been corrected with generous financial and time allowances.

Reaching the compulsory retirement age of 47 in 1966, I retired on a pension that was to remain at $5,000 for 14 years before indexing for inflation set in. My desire to be a teacher required anothe 4 years of university courses. I crammed 9 hours of classes into Mondays and the rest into evenings so that I could be available for part-time employment by a moving company. Unions disliked part-time non-union employees so dictated to the company when they could hire me for $2 an hour. Winning a teaching job in 1970 the pay was $5,000 annually from which a painful slice was taken by the union with which I became disillusioned. I objected to their considering as the enemy the unpaid school board that had to balance taxpayers with teacher demands for higher pay and reduced class size. I also disliked seniority rules that caused us to lose excellent teachers every time we had to downsize while keeping entrenched low-performing ones. Public relations were all-important, so pass rates remained high by lowering standards which some of us refused to do. Too many students came from broken homes, needing much more care than a school curriculum provides. I found teaching a full-time job, getting to know parents and home problems and being always available. I worked students hard, giving no multiple-choice tests (graded by machine) but all essays which kept me up late at night grading, yet I had no shortage of students seeking my classes. I quit the union when they went on strike in 1975 in the middle of a school year. Those of us who refused to desert our students made enemies of friends by crossing picket lines. Substantial pay raises, plus increased taxes, were later achieved but I loathed the methods used. Unions do serve good purposes but dues are too high, political ties too strong, and too many members serve the union rather than the employer and the public. Like climate change and over-population, the increasing gap between rich and poor is an explosive danger. We need the common sense to realize we are all in this together and that rewards and sacrifices need to be shared.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


My neighbour, Marilyn Fife, has spent many years living in Japan, studying and teaching. She married Pepe from Ecuador who was running a business there. Both are now teaching here in Colorado Springs. Pepe flew back to Japan 23 March to assist in recovery efforts there. This letter is from Etsuko, a Japanese friend of theirs.

"Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is now even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food, and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone one has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets. Utterly amazing, where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, 'Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.'

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often. We got water in our homes for a few hours last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time. Other unexpected touches of beauty are, first, the silence of night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I can usually see only two but now the whole sky is filled.

The mountains near Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhoueted against the sky magnificently. And the people themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day. Now to send this e-mail as the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no. They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend's husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occuring all over the world at this moment. And somehow, as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide.

My brother asked me if I felt so small because all this is happening. I do not. Rather I feel as if I am part of something happening that is much larger than myself. This wave of birthing, worldwide, is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and love of me.


It would be kinder if you thought of me only as obsolescent rather than obsolete, even though the facts point otherwise. When 8 years of age I started a world-wide stamp collection. For over 80 years I worked diligently at it while most other collectors faded away. Now, I have a fantastic collection with over a score of albums and countless duplicates. Who cares anymore?

I also enjoyed music so I built up a good collection of records, 33, 45, and 78 rpm. When they went out of fashion, I built a nice library of reel-to-reel tapes. Progress dictated that I convert these to VHS tapes, but just as soon as I had a respectable collection of a few hundred 8-hour tapes of music and documentaries that I taped from TV, they discarded all that and championed DVDs. They also ditched analog TV that was quite good enough for me and in my opinion superior to digital.

Now, instead of one remote, I need three to give me 2 hours of DVD recording when my VHS tapes would accommodate 8 hours in a much-easier-to-use format. Not only have I had to buy a new digital TV but also a converter to allow the VCR to record.
No, DVD and Digital, you cannot relax. The guillotine is waiting for you too.
And, to aggravate my wounds, they have not composed any music for half a century. They do have some loud noises they mislabel music that, like Merlin engines, have contributed to my deafness.

I am grateful for Lawrence Welk on Saturday-night PBS and Walter Chronkite from Vienna every New Year's Eve.

And, I can still find solace in the paper-printed word. It was with me when I started first grade with the 4-cent reader and my current 2,200 books remain excellent. They do demand a lot of room but who can trust any electronic reader to hang around for more than a year or two?

Friday, 18 March 2011


Seeking truth over myth in Human affairs is a difficult task. The written word is predated by oral accounts, sometimes amazingly accurate over millenia, but that are also embellished by bards who were influenced by sponsors who benefitted from doctored versions of the truth. Archaeologists and anthropologist have been helpful, but bones and ruins can tell only part of the story.
The search over 59 years for my Irish and French roots has amassed a bewildering array of myths and facts, wound together and from which I can infer and weave various tales. Here is one which I hope will tempt you to do your own research.
Some 3,600 to 3,300 year ago, areas from the Danube to the Urals were suffering from climate change, some of it induced by human activites that included producing more humans than resources and technology could nurture. One evening in this environment, dust swirled around them as Miles (Miletus) and his band of Scythian archers rode their horses homeward, carrying a stag, the only food they could find during a long day of roaming the parched plains.
Pleased that, tonight, they would feed their families, Miles knew that only a long migration could save them. He had heard that an Egyptian emissary had arrived in the Crimea, seeking mercenaries. Egypt, with annual flooding of the Nile, could still provide adequate food, but Libyans and waves of Sea People, refugees from Europe, were encroaching on lands the pharaoh considered his. His armies were hard pressed to oppose them. Historians disagree on which pharaoh it was. However . . . .
After days of cautious questioning and negotiations, Miles agreed to lead a score of families and horses to board a fleet of ships to sail for Egypt where their encampment grew as more Scythians joined them and Miles organized and executed lightning raids behind enemy lines from Gaza in the east to Libya in the west. His strategy was to destroy supply bases. The pharaoh was so pleased with the successes Miles achieved that he gave him one of his daughters, Scota, as a second wife. She became primary wife when his Scythian wife died in childbirth.
The transformation of Scota from a pampered daughter to a Scythian warrior was amazing. She learned quickly and relished being a fighting member of the marauding teams. She became a driving force, all the while bearing sons for Miles. After Egypt was saved she learned from traders of a "Green Island" far to the west. Intrigued, she persuaded Miles to lead an expedition there. She converted her wealth into easily-carried silver and gold trinkets. She bought a Phoenician ship and crew and set out. En route they soon discovered that the world was over populated with every bit of desirable land occupied by people who welcomed traders but who would become quite hostile in they remained for more than a few days.
Realizing that establishing a homeland in Ireland would require more force than they now had, they found an isolated peninsula on the south coast of Spain that they were able to seal off and build a base where they could attract more Celts to join them, breed their horses, build ships, and become a formidable force. Here, Scota had four more sons: Heber, Ir, Heremon, and Erannan, but disaster struck when Miles was killed in a skirmish. Scota, her sons, and two from Miles' previous wife were determined to carry on with their vision. On completing their 30th sea-worthy vessel, they set out.
The long journey necessitated numerous stops where the natives were happy to sell supplies and to provide a night or two of rest on dry land. Scota gradually learned more about her Green Island. It had been inhabited for 5,000 years and was now controlled by the Tuatha da Danaan (People of the Goddess Danu) who had defeated the Fir Bolg. Most of this data was obtained during a stop in what is now Plymouth.
Approaching Ireland, Erannan, climbed the mast for a better view, fell into the sea, and was drowned. Then Ir died in a rowing accident. There were acouple of disastrous attempts to land in eastern Ireland, forcing the fleet westwards, eventually making a successful landing in what is now Kenmare Bay, Kerry, but bloody battles soon ensued. The newcomers, horsemen and archers, were at a disadvantage in the heavily wooded land. Scota was killed, but her sons prevailed, establishing a kingdom that grew to encompass all of Ireland, calling themselves Scots after Scota. Heremon and Heber divided the land between then with Heber taking the north and Heber the south. After a year or so of this they fell out and Heber was killed. But the numerous sons of both carried on with intermittent warfare. Ireland was never united.
Centuries passed and, in the 400s AD, the Scots invaded the land of the Picts, also Celts, established their dominance and gave the name, Scotland, to the land. They also brought the bagpipe, of Scythian origin.
Today, Many Irish and Scots are proud to trace their their ancestry through Heber and Heremon to Miles and Scota.
You will find many versions of this tale. Take your pick.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


The tsunami sweeping the Arab world, while welcomed and long overdue, is nothing new. Greed, that has been part of the human psyche, has controlled far too many human organizations, creating Haves and Have-Nots. Greed even invades egalitarian-minded people like monastics, socialists, and communists. To retain their privileges, the Haves must share their wealth with sufficient knights, nobles, generals, and executives to monoploze the weapons of force. All of this can go awry as Lesser Haves vie to become Major Haves.

Periodically, the Have-Nots become Have-Had-Enoughs and revolt, often peacefully, but the fearful Haves use bloody force, torture, and murders, to maintain the status quo. Revolts that are eventually successful, like the French Revolution, require the Army, drawn from the ranks of the Have-Nots, to switch sides. Knowing this, the Haves build into their armies harsh punishments for deviations from the rules. They also use large quantities of Brain Wash. And, they often forget reform promises they make while the Have-Nots are assembled.
We, in the Western World (and China) pride ourselves that we have, albeit with slow and painful steps, opened the doors for ever more Have-Nots to become, at least, Partial-Haves. And, we have established procedures for the peaceful transfer of power.
A few minds, blessed by geography and resources, created the necessary cultural, commercial, and industrial revolutions that slowly gave rise to the current notions of Fair Play and the Dignity of Man (while we forget that the nomadic Celts had this 3,500 years ago). Too often our high ideals have been restricted to utterances rather than actions. We have become too satisfied with our comfortable lives and in order to enhance them we have supported dictatorial regimes, creating enemies among their Have-Nots, giving rise to al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups that run the gamit from freedom fighters to terrorists. Middle East oil and the Suez Canal are important to us so we pay dictatorial regimes to do our bidding. Much of the $70 billion that Mubarak has pocketed comes from our taxpayers. The courage, dedication, and stamina of the protestors is admirable. Continuing to support Mubarak can lose us their future co-operation. The revolt against the abusive Shah we supported led to a regime not to our liking and one that also can subdue popular uprisings. We have allowed our interests to relegate our principles to second place. Israel also accepts our money, but declines our advice, not endearing us to Palestinians or Lebanese.
At home we allow the gap between the Haves and Have-Nots to become a chasm. Is a CEO, a banker, a sport or entertainment star worth that much more than the essential farmer who toils in the hot sun to feed us? There was good reason for the rise of Communism. Why and how did it go off the rails?
This latest Arab tsunami demands our immediate support, guidance, and sacrifices that can be interpreted as genuine help devoid of self commercial interests.
And, we cannot shrug off the world-wide disatisfaction with governments and multi-nationals. There are no easy answers, but as we press on we must keep in the driver's seat Human Rights who also respects the rights of all living things.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


I have just finished Robert Lanza's excellent book "Biocentrism". He weaves in interesting life experiences as he explains the 7 principles of Biocentrism and the fact that we need to search Biology rather than Physics for answers. He argues that Space and Time, the realm of Physics, require a conscious observer to become reality.

I can vouch for this in my dreams which I can sometimes control. In them I can effortlessly jump among scenes and people long gone, some for centuries. It seems so natural, and almost all are pleasurable. Why, then, can I not do the same in my waking moments? Robert provides much appreciated food for thought but, like me, he still seeks answers that remain elusive. This spark of energy we call Consciousness may be immortal even if it is arrogant to assume that the trillions of cells that have supported it in this life may not be. Are not cells also Conscious Observers?
I also relate to Robert's "All life is one" (Solipsism). During my lone period of aggression - my 17 bombing operations over Germany - I could never escape the feeling that what I was doing to others I was, in fact, doing to myself as were the flak gunners and night-fighter crews thinking that I, and those like me, were their only victims.
Immortality is great if it means continuance of what we enjoy, but there are far too many frightening scenarios that we could stumble into while we struggle to learn how to pilot Consciousness.
For now, the thrill remains in the chase.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


I am disappointed

As I stumble into my 92nd year, the hope that, by now, I would have some vital answers is fading fastly. Oh, sure, I have accumulated zillions of facts since I first started asking questions long before I embarked on my formal education in kindergarten. Although these facts include tempting clues, they fail to give me the answers I crave. Yes, I now know a little about quarks, photons, quantum, the human and other species, but my most worrisome questions remain unanswered. I feel answers are there - just out of reach.
Biologists tell me that this facility, called a Brain; or is it a Mind?; or is it Me?; is identical to all those 6 or 7 billion owned by other humans and, for that matter, similar to those in many other species. Then, why do we have so many conflicting emotions towards each other? And do I really understand what an emotion is?
I have read thousands of books and even more magazines and newspapers. I have attended no end of lectures. I have studied the utterances of great minds over thousands of years - but nothing and no one tells me what I crave to know. What am I? Where am I? How am I? Why am I? I have no memory of volunteering so why, and by whom, was I drafted into this existence , and is there any meaning or follow-up?
Over the years, many have told me that they have the answers - but every one is based on Faith with a lot of Hope. Worse, they disagree with each other - often violently.
I long to move towards the Light, but, if I get there, what can I do with a bunch of photons? Can I ever understand the basics? Everything, it seems, is nothing but a mess of vibrations, the speed of which determines which are Energy and which are Matter, but they both get quite entangled, creating all sorts of entities that, in turn, combine to form what we see as suns, planets, universes, and you and me. We know that on at least one of these planets, the speed at which things vibrate, called Temperature, was just right for Life to evolve. But, what is Life?
The interplay of Energy and Matter created a huge broth of elements that just milled about until a few of them collided to create Intelligence who realized that a Command Centre was a must to give it a home in which it could thrive. So, it decided to build a Mind. To do this it needed Food in the form of mobile Electrons that coulde be found in Oxygen, Nitrates, Sulphates, and Iron. Many were needed because Mind had to be housed in a Brain that in turn needed a protecive shield. Not realizing what it was getting into, Intelligence plodded on, finding and recruiting suitable entities with which to construct such a centre that also required Communications and the allocation of Responsibilities . Then there were sights, sounds, and smells out there so Sensors had to be formed from cells that needed Incentives. As the Present was all that Intelligence knew, it neglected to include Longevity, so by trial and error learned how to reproduce itself and its creation so that a form of survival could be ensured through its progeny.
Soon, Intelligence and all it had produced was divided among numerous similar life forms that used inorganic sources of Food like sunlight, water, and soil with their vast stores of chemicals. They continue to be, by far, the most numerous and successful life forms today, and they evolved into millions of species such as Shewanella that, when deprived of its preferred food, will grow hairs that can seek and snatch electrons from iron flakes in rock, and continue to survive and reproduce without harm to other species. Some bacteria can, when the environment becomes hostile, lie dormant for centuries until conditions improve.
But, things went wrong. Intelligence was so pleased with its its creation, Mind, that it nelected to build in Gratitude, so Mind grew dominant, took over, and relegated Intelligence to a minor role. Intelligence became pregnant, giving birth to Wisdom who, throughout its long childhood, was largely ignored.
With hordes of bacteria milling about, all needing Food, some found it easier to invade other species without bringing Symbiosis, thus killing their hosts. Other renegades found it better just to use their neighbours as food, but they first had to devlope mobility and weapons for the chase and capture - and, of course, advanced methods of ingesting, digesting, and excreting.
We, unfortunately, have evolved from this last group. In our race to multiply and diversify we became addicted to different sources of Food so, when it became scarce, we invented Greed which had no tolerance for Compassion. Also, as we grew, the vast lines of Communication that Mind had set up among all these components sent back electrical impulses that could be interpreted as Pain or Pleasure. They also told us that Environment could turn hostile so offered us Fear and Curiosity as safeguards. Minds, here and there, realized they could profit from creating explanatory Myths that could give them power over others. A few Minds, that had taken a liking to young Wisdom, quesioned this practice, but they were so far in the minority that they could not prevail against the hordes that seized upon a particular Myth and used it to justify the exploitation of those addicted to different Myths. Eternal conflict spells Failure of Mind to organize itself successfully.
The story does not end there. The human species has created sub species called Computers and Robots with superior circuitry that will soon permit another take over.
Even if Intelligence is given a more influential role in future species it must be under the control of Wisdom if they are to find the answers that elude us.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


The January Tucson massacre is one more statistic among the 98,000 annual gunshot wounds that cause 30,000 deaths. Amid all the rhetoric and tears, there is little heard about the obvious need to outlaw today's easy access to guns. From its founding, guns have been considered a cherished personal right. in the US. Being born in violence, both Mexico and the US remain with problems not known in Canada with its relatively peaceful evolution. The settlement of the Canadian West came after that in the US. To avoid the legacy of gun-slinging cowboys and massacres of the Natives, Canada established law and order first, but this was prompted by US whiskey traders causing enormous harm to Natives who drank their "Fire-Water". In the Cypress Hills, 20 Assiniboine, including entire families were slaughtered by drunken traders in 1873 and other traders had set up posts like fortified Fort Whoop-up (near Lethbridge) trading bad whiskey for furs. Chiefs wanted the return of British troops but the problem was now Canada's, so in 1874 PM John A. MacDonald organized a force of 300 North West Mounted Police to capture the whiskey traders and establish law and order in 300,000 square miles. These "Mounties" made a show with an 800-mile parade westwards from Fort Dufferin, Manitoba, to Fort MacLeod, Alberta, with each troop having horses of a different colour. They were followed by a supply train of 114 carts, 73 freight wagons, and 93 head of cattle. The message was broadcast to the tribes that the red uniform of the Mounties meant a friend as opposed to the enemy that the blue uniforms of the US cavalry implied. Leaving detachments at selected points, the last remaining troop reached Fort Whoop-up to find that the whiskey traders had fled to Montana, so the fort was taken intact without firing a shot.

It is an amazing and successful story of scattered detachments of 2 or 3 Mounties maintaining the law in a vast territory. Sitting Bull and his group, fleeing the US Cavalry, were surprised to be met by only 2 Mounties who welcomed them into Canada provided they adhered to the Queen's law. The NWMP grew into The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Different gun philosophies were also apparent in WWII. US airmen carried pistols. Commonwealth aircrew did not, arguing it was suicidal for a downed airman to be seen with a gun as he would be more likely to be shot than captured. A lone airman with a pistol was unlikely to shoot his way home through 90 million enemy.

Today in the US 70% of murders are by firearms, in Canada 30% usually by shotguns or rifles as handguns are strictly controlled. In 2004 the homicide rate in Canada per 100,000 people was 1.8. In the US it was 6.3. Canada has 1 policeman per 529 people. The US has 1 per 412.

Today, Canada maintains strict gun laws so suffers much less from gun crimes although drug-related violence is seeping across the border. It is a criminal offense to carry a gun into Canada.

Restricting the availability of arms has not prevented Canada from contributing some of the world's best airmen, sailors, and soldiers to world conflicts.