Tuesday, 27 January 2015


It is human nature to desire to pass on to posterity what we have learned or accomplished in our brief stay here.  But now the certainty that there will be a posterity is crumbling.
   And what about the enduring belief that, even after all those molecules that made up our consciousness are diffused into other organisms, something will be retained of us who served in what we knew as “The Now”. 
  How can we allow to be wasted the 3.5 billion years it took to make us what we are?  Sadly, at this stage of our incredible and treasured evolution in an uniquely beautiful planet,  we just do not know whether we are a hologram or individuals trapped inside a bony skull dependent on a body composed of trillions of cells and even more non-human organisms needed to support us.  Are we part of a cosmic intelligence?  We have orifices to see, hear, smell, feel, or sense only narrow segments of what appear to be nothing but an immense variety of vibrations serving what purpose?  We can brag about the instruments and robots we have created to extend our knowledge but will we ever know how much we will have to know in order to know how little we know?  Is our mission to create the robots that will supersede us?
Creating a legacy worthy of passing on to future humans demands convincing current humans, who have such an impact on this lone Spaceship Earth, that each of us has a housekeeping responsibility.
Some fantasize on moving to a new planet as we are rapidly depleting this one.  Is this a remote possibility?  Travelling all those light years may be the easy part, but could any other planet sustain what we have become?  Barren planets would require billions of years of microbial work just to build the foundation.  In the millions of other planets scattered among the galaxies each one must be so unique in any life that has evolved that moving from one to another would be fatal for both locals and newcomers as immune systems would immediately engage in battle.   Humans have evolved here along with what could be a hundred million other species that are also evolving.  We are an interconnected, inter-dependent, and little-understood web.  We are only beginning to realize how disturbing one species can affect many more including us.  To survive each species uses the resources provided some renewable, many not.  Husbandry is essential as the spaceship we have may be the one and only.
It is estimated that our spaceship can sustain a maximum of two billion humans.  We have 8 billion.   We are greedily convinced that a healthy economy demands an ever-increasing Gross Domestic Product which in turn demands rapid depletion of finite and precious resources as well as deferring today’s debts to tomorrow’s payers.  As I have walked through numerous devastated and still-littered sites of exhausted and abandoned mines I feel like the Duke of Wellington amid the 1815 carnage of Waterloo when he lamented:  “Nothing, save a battle lost, is so melancholy as a battle won.”
      We know that our environment is fragile, requiring a narrow range of sunlight, water, gases, and solids.  We know that the likes of goats, otters, beavers, jellyfish, ants, bees, and bacteria have all created changes that alter the environment and affect other life forms and, of course, climate.  We also know that bacteria and humans have been the worst offenders and have been the cause of the extinction of thousands of species with ever-increasing damage to the biodiversity so essential to our continuance on this globe.
Some claim we are an intelligent species.  If so, Greed has infested and immobilized those with the power to  affect necessary changes.  The rest of us?    We too are to blame.  Too few support: Contraception, Using bicycles and horses rather than combustion engines for transportation, Mass transport, Turning off unnecessary lights, Gun controls, Governments free of control by selfish interests, Empathy and reaching out to groups not their own, Too many engage in: Poaching, Converting forests to cities and industry, Abandoning family farms with rotational fallow fields for huge commercial, fertilizer-imported, monstrosities, Over-fishing, and Hunting for no purpose other than to kill,   We do need to re-activate  those WWII signs that were everywhere in UK train stations and carriages, “Is your journey really necessary?” 
  Until we learn to safely harness for energy the immense forces that pervade the universe and until we extend more empathy to all flora and fauna including fellow humans it is essential we retreat to safer life styles.  Otherwise we will have no progeny to whom to bequeath our legacies.
I have had a share of aches, pains, disappointments, and frustrations, but I have also enjoyed varied, interesting, and challenging careers.  I am blessed with a wonderful family and much-appreciated friends.
What a shame it would be if I was just wasting my time in composing a legacy.

Ye Olde Scribe georgesweanor@comcast.net  27 January 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


I am still waiting for one or more of you out there to explain to me, in words that I can understand, what am I, what am I doing here, and, above all, WHY?  I can remember asking a question when I was just short of four years of age.  I am still asking but remain ignorant.  Why is the path I have so far travelled inadequate?  How different and informative has your path been?  My brain is like these new cell phones: capable of doing far more than I can imagine or manage.
My loving parents brought me up a Catholic yet tolerated my questioning.  I was an altar boy, really quite good and dedicated. I enjoyed learning Latin that lacked many of the flaws of English.  Judea-Christian history provided a good foundation.  We lived in 5 different cities and town in Ontario, with my teen years in a small town where I had an Irish parish priest whose Sunday sermons were repetitive and boring but with whom I had many conversations on world affairs in his den after week-day Masses and before rushing off to high school.  He seemed to agree with many of my complaints that included: lack of complete equality for women, the downplay of souls for non-humans, the advice “Marry your own” when the most attractive girls belonged to the town’s other religions, and the Index, a list of books forbidden to Catholics, so I read two of them, by Huxley and Darwin, surprised he did not chastise me for doing so.  I understood why the Church discouraged its members from reading the bible on their own when I started to read it myself but quit when it became mired in blood, vengeance, ethnic cleansing, and myths.  I discovered the common origin for the faiths of Jews, Christians and Muslims was worse than the current violent groups posing as Islamic States.  When imported from the Ur area of Iraq, Yahweh suppressed long-standing female Gods, and offered the migrating Semitic Jews the “Promise Land” but only if they first cleansed it by killing all  living things there much to the annoyance of the early Palestinians.  The subsequent history of all three religions reeks with blood and oppression yet with islands of empathy, some most praiseworthy.
     Growing up among numerous veterans of the Boer War and WWI, including two wounded uncles, I  became very anti-war and wrote school articles on the subject.  Later I learned my wife had 9 family members in WWI: 2 killed, 1 POW, and 5 wounded. yet . . . 
My ingrained faith in God, and the human species, continued until I found myself in Bomber Command.  We did have enemies worthy of our ire but we were ordered to lay waste the cities and populations of German and occupied French cities, often in the dead of winter,  in the belief we had to torture and kill the innocent to get at the guilty.  This cost us 59% casualties with only 17% of those shot down surviving while we killed 600,000 civilians.    It was a bitter pill to realize I was a member of a species with such a long history of cruel behaviour.  Yet I clung to Christianity, mainly to avoid offending family and friends, until months after being confined to a POW camp where the Luftwaffe treated us with respect.  We had time to think, discuss, and ponder with, in my compound, 2,000 educated men from 23 different countries.  I found growing affinity with those whose faith was slipping into Agnosticism whose motto is “I do not know and you do not know either, so let us discuss peacefully to see if we can find any answers.”   We had been part of so much destruction and the cruel deaths of so many excellent humans that many voiced “God is dead.”  
We humans all start out with the same ingredients that grow in a wide range of environments. Some end up with great empathy and ability to help humans and other life forms.  Others believe their paradise lies in torturing, maiming, and killing all who dent their narrow view of life.  Actually, does not the main interests of all of us lie in maintaining our poorly-understood Consciousness on a bed of poorly-understood Contentment? 
      Even though lacking understanding I do enjoy delving into the vast immensity of quarks, particles, waves, strings and vibrations we think form the basis of things as well as the expanse of a universe expanding into Nothing which must be Something to provide the space.  Faith and Philosophies, in numerous forms, do offer solace, but lack proofs, so tend to be a crutch, a money maker for directors, and an excuse for destructive actions.  But they, from Animism to Zoroastrianism, are worth studying to probe the human mind and to find treasures therein.
Today, a few of us are tinkering with those forces that dictate evolution.  What took Nature about 3.5 billion years to accomplish we can, at a faster pace, transform ourselves into creatures that, one day, may be gods.  Too late for you and me, our progeny could design more efficient and less troublesome bodies that approach immortality.  They could also improve the mind, but who will guide them and to what purpose?  It will all be pointless unless we program in the gang led by Empathy and exclude those led by Greed.
     But then, in the scheme of things, we are a young galaxy so have older galaxies gone this route and evolved gods?  Where are they and in what form?  We must not tolerate more God vs Devil creations.  What say you?

Monday, 12 January 2015


    NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN:   a weak, umbrella-toting, short-sighted prime minister whose policy of appeasement encouraged Adolf Hitler to greater aggression. 
     Really? . . . In a democracy a leader can rarely exceed the bounds set by the electorate.   Yet a democracy is often cruel to a leader who, thus shackled, fails to cope with situations not of his own making. The statesman is the scapegoat for the electorate.  Thucydides (455-400 B.C.), great Greek historian and general, was given inadequate forces to defend Thasos, yet was exiled from Athens for 20 years when the brilliant Spartan, General Brasidas, took Amphilpolis, Thagos, in a winter attack.  Even  winning  statesmen are often faced with ingratitude. Themistocles, who in 480 B.C., saved Athenian democracy from vastly superior Persian invaders, was later forced into exile.  Woodrow Wilson, who inspired the world with his conciliation and his League of Nations, was disavowed by his own United States.    Winston Churchill, a major architect of Allied victory in World War 11, was dismissed by the British electorate as soon as victory was won.  In the Great War of 1914-1918 the upper classes in the United Kingdom lost proportionately more men than did the other classes, so there was pressure from all sides to avoid any path that might entangle the nation in another war. Throughout the Commonwealth, France, the United States, and like-minded nations, there lingered a vivid memory of the horrors of war, so military preparedness was shunned or actively opposed.
      Chamberlain was bound to do his utmost to avoid war.  He was no fool; he had a commendable political record; and he feared what the dictators were doing. To deter them he had to put his faith in personal diplomacy.  As chancellor of the exchequer, Chamberlain did start rearmament in1934.  Had he not done so we would not have won the war.  He had to proceed cautiously so as not to arouse the electorate. They say that a good minister of finance can, on the books, quietly charge appropriations to HANGERS, Coat, when actually going to HANGARS, Aircraft, and Chamberlain had to resort to something like that.  The great fear of the day was from aerial bombardment, but Chamberlain pushed more money into bomber, rather than fighter, development.   Obviously, he knew that wars are not won with defensive fighters.  He targeted for 500 bombers to be ready by 1939.  It takes from 5 to 9 years to design, build, and bring to operational status fighters or bombers.  In 1937, after Sir John Simon and Anthony Eden visited Hitler, Chamberlain raised his target to 840 bombers by 1937, truly a rush job.  In 1936, specifications were approved for "heavies" (Stirlings, Halifaxes, Lancasters) that could carry 12,000- pound (5400 kg) bombs. This is appeasement?  To try to woo Mussolini from Hitler, he wanted his 1934 sanctions (Ethiopia) removed in 1935.  In 1937 he got assurance of Canadian support from Prime Minister MacKenzie King, but both men had to tread lightly.  King wanted a united Canada - and Quebec could be alienated by precipitous action.  King allowed Royal Air Force (RAF) recruitment in Canada without fanfare.  Canada, with depression hangovers, welcomed the armament orders Chamberlain placed in Canada where the British electorate would not notice the alarming course of events.  In Canada plans were laid for a sudden, and tremendous, expansion.
        During the 1938 Sudeten crisis the RAF had only 93 fighters to face 1,200 Luftwaffe bombers.  The French had fewer than 25 bombers. Chamberlain and Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax knew they could not fight Hitler over Czechoslovakia, but did force out of Hitler his "no further territorial ambitions" promise. 
    A year makes a big difference. The fact that the RAF mushroomed to include 26 Hurricane and Spitfire squadrons by September 1939 reveals that Chamberlain placed little faith in Hitler's promise.  British output of combat aircraft was now up to 100 per month, and growing.  Army and Navy units were steadily strengthened.
    Chamberlain helped arrange the highly-successful 1938 Canadian tour of George VI and Queen Elizabeth to cement British-Canadian solidarity.  After Hitler's broken promise and conquest of the rest of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain offered guarantees to Poland, Romania, and Greece.   In 1914 Britain had offered no such guarantees even to France.  With growing strength Chamberlain was more willing to try to frighten Hitler into desisting.  In the 1940 blitzkrieg prior to Dunkerque, it is often overlooked that the RAF inflicted 1,284 losses on the Luftwaffe at a cost of 959 RAF aircraft, a feat that would have been impossible had Chamberlain been the appeaser it is said he was. 
       Fans are fickle.  They were willing to provide a human carpet for Chamberlain to walk on when he returned from Munich with "Peace in our Lifetime".   They were willing to crucify him when appeasement did not work.  Chamberlain failed in directing public opinion;  so did MacKenzie King.  Churchill and Roosevelt were better at this sort of thing.  Churchill and Roosevelt, however, needed the right climate to help them with the directing.  Chamberlain did not have the climate, so he had to work quietly and unobtrusively.  Rather than rave about his shortcomings, perhaps we should criticize ourselves and the shortcomings of democratic electorates. 
Neville resigned as PM 10 May 1940, but remained in the coalition government of Winston Churchill to whom he gave invaluable support until his death 09 November 1940.

Thursday, 1 January 2015


     We widespread Celts enjoyed song, dance, and story telling in a society with equal rights for men and women, yet we were a quarrelsome lot never coming together in an empire.  We fought others but mainly ourselves.  Tales tell of both sexes venturing into battle in the nude but covered with frightening designs created by woad, a brilliant blue plant dye.  Caesar reported painted Britanni and the northern Celts were named Picts from Picti (Painted Ones).       To honour them students at Eton College (founded 1440 near Windsor, Berkshire)  in 1914 composed this: 

What’s the use of wearing braces
Socks and pants and shoes with laces
Other things you buy in places
Down in Saville Row.
What’s the use of shirts of cotton,
Studs that always get forgotten,
Such affairs are simply rotten
Better far is woad.

Woad’s the stuff to show men
Woad to scare your foemen
Boil it to a brilliant hue
Then rub it on your back and your abdomen.
March up Snowdon with your woad on
Never mind if you get rained or snowed on
Never want a button sewed on-
Tailors, you be blowed.

Romans came across the channel
All dressed up in tin and flannel
Half a pint of woad per man
Will dress us more than these.
Saxons you may waste your stitches
Building beds for bugs in breeches
We have woad to clothe us which 
Is not a nest for fleas.

Romans keep your armours
Saxons your pyjamas
Hairy coats were meant for goats
Gorillas, yaks, retriever dogs, and llamas,
Ancient Britons never hit on
Anything as good as woad to fit on
Necks or knees or where you sit on-
Go it Ancient Bs.

Ye Olde Scribe