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The Catholic Sun

Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

If he were to return to us, what would the Anglo-French writer Hilaire Belloc writer make of the state of the Catholic Church? Would he be plunged into despair by its various scandals? Or would he simply walk away from the Faith? To guess the answer, and to help put today’s trials into perspective, it pays to dip into Belloc’s 1937 book The Crusades: the World’s Debate. In it, he wrote, “Our religion is in peril… There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine… We worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice…”

To understand Hilaire Belloc’s outlook, one needs appreciate the complexity of his worldview: he was anti-imperialist, but doubtful of parliamentary democracy; he opposed both capitalism and socialism, was suspected of anti-Semitism but was violently contemptuous of Hitler. His Catholicism, however, was uncompromising, and he believed that the Catholic Church provided house and home for the human spirit.

“Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative.” From a speech to the voters of South Salford in response to his Tory opponent’s slogan, ‘Don’t vote for a Frenchman and a Catholic.’ On polling day, 13 January 1906, Belloc, standing as a Liberal, overturned a Conservative majority to win by 852 votes, winning again four years later.

Sunflower


Relaxation reading

Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Thurn is staring at the computer screen, struck by how calmly the robbers seem to be working. She watches them methodically fill their mailbags with cash. When one sack is full, they swing it up onto their shoulders or drag it across the floor and out of the room. Since they’re coming and going, all dressed alike, it’s difficult to tell how many of them there are. Four, she would guess, but it could just as easily be three or five.

‘Where are they?’ she asks. ‘In the vault?’

‘No, no,’ says Lindahl. ‘No one gets into the vault. That’s where the big money is. No, they’re up on the sixth floor. We call it Cash. Counting. It’s where we send the notes to be counted. Then they’re sent back down to the vault. We never have more than a few hundred million up there.’

‘A few hundred million?’ Thurn repeats, amazed.

‘Right now, we have over a billion in the building,’ Lindahl points out, to put those hundreds of millions in context.

A snippet from The Helicopter Heist by Swedish author Jonas Bonnier, who was President of the Bonnier Group from 2008 until 2013. The story, which centres on the 2009 Västberga helicopter robbery, has been sold to 34 territories, and the film- and TV-rights were acquired by Netflix and Jake Gyllenhaal’s production company Nine Stories.

The Helicopter Heist


Walk beside me…

Monday, 24 September, 2018

“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”

— Albert Camus

Ann and Eamonn

Happy Birthday, Ann! Happy Birthday, Mary! You two share this unforgettable day with F. Scott Fitzgerald, who said, “You’ll understand why storms are named after people.”


And blackberries

Sunday, 23 September, 2018

“September. This is the month of quiet days, crimson creepers, and blackberries; of mellow afternoons in the ripening garden; of tea under acacias instead of too shady beeches; of wood fires in the library in chilly evenings.” — Elizabeth von Arnim

Blackberries


Bluetooth brush

Saturday, 22 September, 2018

“Download the Oral-B app on your smartphone and connect with Bluetooth technology to get real-time feedback on your brushing habits.” That’s what it says on the box.

Oral B


Elephant in the mushroom

Friday, 21 September, 2018

The French creative agency Les Creatonautes has spent a lot of time and energy this year producing a series of digital collages that combine animals and edibles. The project is a statement that our world is constantly evolving, but the changes are often invisible and, in the near future, they might be disturbing. How will we react when CRISPR and organisms and technologies and societies interact?

Elephant-mushroom

Les Creatonautes started the project on 1 January and have been publishing these “transformations” ever day since. Check out their Instagram.


Amazon man orders 20,000 Mercedes vans

Thursday, 20 September, 2018

The EU’s top antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager, has launched an investigation into whether Amazon is unfairly monopolizing data to outsell its rivals. There’s a growing chorus of voices on both sides of the Atlantic now questioning whether the company’s ocean of data gives it an intrinsic advantage. The problem, of course, is that there’s data and data and it depends on what exactly the definition embraces. Amazon relies more and more on “behavioral data,” which reveals who precisely is interested in what product, and this is priceless information. Margrethe Vestager will have quite a job to pry that from the calculating hands of Jeff Bezos.

Meanwhile, the same Jeff Bezos has just has ordered 20,000 Mercedes Sprinter vans for Amazon’s US Delivery Service Partner program, which enables small businesses to lease
vans for deliveries through third-party fleet management companies. Amazon also offers them fuel, insurance, uniforms and access to its delivery technology. Fedex and UPS, which each have around 60,000 delivery vehicles, will be keeping a close eye on this one while hoping Margrethe Vestager can slow or stall Bezos’ hyperdrive.


Seoul Food and confidence building measures

Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

FOOD: South Korea is famous for affordable and delicious street food that’s sold at markets and train stations and from ‘pojangmacha’ (carts) in most urban areas. Dishes cost from 2,000 to 5,000 Won (€1.50 to €3.50) and one of the most popular items is Korean Egg Toast, which comes with lots of “trimmings”, as Mrs Fitz used to say.

POLITICS: The excellent 38 North, which is a must-read on all things concerning North Korea, has this to say about the meeting in Pyongyang between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in:

“The two countries should also eventually set their sights higher to make the peninsula, in their words, a ‘land of peace.’ Given the great wall of mistrust that Moon and Kim are attempting to tear down and the still fragile North-South relationship, the two leaders are right to adopt an incremental, step-by-step approach to CBMs [confidence building measures] and not burden their dialogue with unrealistic ambitions. But as the mutual mistrust melts and both countries create a successful track record on implementation, they should consider a more robust CBM agenda consisting of: 1) more aggressive measures to eliminate the NLL [Northern Limit Line] as a flashpoint for North-South conflict; 2) greater transparency and information sharing on military plans, programs, and operations; and 3) constraints on military movements and activities to reduce the risk of a North Korean surprise attack.”


Quote of the Day

Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

“More fiction is written in Excel than in Word.” — Troy Vosseller


Michael Fitzgerald: who would have been 100 today

Monday, 17 September, 2018

In memory of Michael Fitzgerald (17 September 1918 – 2 April 2011), farmer and fencer.

This hand fenced

Fencing is farmwork for the fall of the year.
The days are dry and so are the essential stones.

When given their allotted places in ditches,
They stand side-by-side patiently.
The rows look uneven but are never untidy.

Timber is crooked here as well,
And whitethorn offers no mercy.
So the fencer returns with bloody hands,
But the stigmata were earned honourably.

Robert Frost was right —
“Good fences make good neighbours.”

Eamonn Fitzgerald

Father


Will China collapse in 2019?

Sunday, 16 September, 2018

The joys of Quora are limitless. A typical day’s questions can include: “Why do C programmers use short variable names (e.g., ‘sz’ instead of size) when it makes code harder to read?” “Is Finland a real country?” “What is the opposite word for together?” “Why do Italians look European?” And this week’s favourite: “Will China collapse in 2019?”

The question was posed Frank Wang, who describes himself as “Sales at M&B Group (2011-present)”. His answer is more illuminating, and disturbing, than many an Economist article:

As a Chinese I want to say something here (please ignore any grammatical mistakes I may have made, Chinese is my mother language ^^)

The title of this question has raised my thoughts on blood and tears wiped by my poor compatriots during the development of China. I will put it like this: “Will it do the world any good if China really collapses?”

I’m working at an export company in China. We export shoes all around the world. The profit is low and the incomes of the workers in the factory are even lower. As some of you may already know: “this shit is from China! OMG. China makes all this shitty stuff and sells it to us.” Ok. Frankly speaking we do sell pretty well. Imagine one day we don’t make the cheap stuff and what will happen. I’m pretty sure the price of all your daily necessities will increase to a level you could never image at this moment. Why? Because China provides the largest amount of cheap products in the world.

Are we willing to be the biggest provider of cheap products in the world? Definitely not. The fact is, the percentage of people who are not well educated in China is still very big, both young and old, mainly people from the less developed areas. What can they do for a living? We provide jobs for them to work in the factories. The income is not much but enough for them to raise a family, to feed their kids and to afford to send them to school.

If China really collapsed, they will lose their way of living, they will become homeless and in the worst scenario become a criminal, and Chinese society will become a mess.

You ask how this will influence my life here in my country? Please look at what happened in some countries around the Mediterranean Sea. The refugees from those countries have already influenced European societies, and they will certainly do anything to survive. Remember the populations of these countries are not even close to the population of one single province in China.

So, if China collapsed, the first thing that will happen to you will be the price increase of your T-shirts and slippers. Then you may read in the news one day that some Chinese refugees broke into some random houses for food…by then China will literally become the biggest supplier of “shitty stuff.”

Alright, I just finished a business trip in Shanghai and I feel a little bit tired. But I hope I have made myself clear and please forgive my poor expression of my thoughts. Never good at it.

Cheers!

Frank in Hefei

Frank’s answer has had 89.8k views and it’s been upvoted 524 times. Deservedly so.