Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Let's hope Australia is not the only country where this happens

Christianity will play a more prominent role in this year's City of Sydney Christmas decorations. Lord Mayor Clover Moore has announced details of the decorations, with emphasis on a Christian message. Last year Ms Moore came under heavy criticism for Sydney's decorations and her comment that the city had more than 200 nationalities, not all Christian. But this year she is spending more than $1.5 million on Christmas cheer. "Christmas in Sydney should have an Australian theme and a Christian message," Ms Moore said. "It is a spiritual and religious festival and the real importance of the season is generating peace and goodwill and caring about everyone in our community."

There will be Christmas trees in Martin Place, and new trees in Pitt Street Mall, St Mary's Cathedral forecourt and beside St Andrew's Cathedral at Sydney Square. Banners will be hung throughout the city and new decorations will be put in Pitt Street Mall, on the Sydney Town Hall and Customs House.

The towering brickpit chimneys at Sydney Park at St Peters will be decorated and fairy lights will be strung in trees in city parks. A series of free family concerts will be held. "We have discussed Christmas based entertainment with St Mary's and St Andrew's cathedrals, to take place in St Mary's forecourt and Sydney Square respectively," Ms Moore said.

In the spirit of giving, Meals on Wheels hampers and Christmas lunches for the disadvantaged have been included in the celebrations. "David Jones is discussing with us its annual Christmas concert in Hyde Park and its storefront windows," Ms Moore said. "We are in discussion with Westfield about sponsorship of Christmas projections in Martin Place and investigating options with Myer."

Better decorations would be put in parts of southern Sydney, which reflected the City's growth since its amalgamation with South Sydney Council, Ms Moore said.



As I have mentioned before, I received a HEAP of comments on my observations about America's North/South war. Below are just three that I personally found particularly interesting. I am of course aware that all three touch on matters that are NOT universally agreed.

First comment

I was raised and lived all my life in the North, and I'd always been led to believe the Civil War had been fought over slavery. Then, in 1993, I moved to Texas where I learned a different view.

The primary point of contention was over states' rights and the ratio of power, if you will, between state and federal governments. It was the South's opinion that the majority of power should be retained by the states, with only a small federal government while the North preferred it the other way around. While slavery was, indeed, on the table, what was really being fought over was the right of individual states to decide for themselves whether or not to permit slavery within its borders. I only wish more people were able to learn our history from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

As for the nearly Pavlovian response to blacks regarding the Confederate flag, the Stars and Bars, this can be blamed largely on the press. When Martin Luther King was leading civil rights protests back in the 1960s, people who didn't actually experience them cannot possibly comprehend the horrible inequities of society, particularly in the South. Since they're documented elsewhere, I won't go into them here.

The problem began when the KKK and their sympathizers started carrying on like the inbred polydactyl morons they are. While we have never had any official governmental censoring of what may or may not be said on the air (profanity excepted), it didn't take the TV and radio networks as well as newspapers to nut out that this type of dreck didn't belong in public media.

That put a chip on certain people's shoulders. People like Jesse Jackson found they could make a very comfortable living for themselves by acting as "black leaders" and ever since have seen to it that blacks are brainwashed to believe they're still being oppressed. It is virtually impossible to gainsay any of these jerks without automatically being labeled as a racist. In fact, I believe it was Jackson who said that it's not possible for blacks to be racists. Only whites were capable of that.

The latest bit of PC idiocy crammed down America's throat is that any mention at all of the Confederacy or the display of any of its icons is a hate crime, and the mainstream media go along with it, lest they be numbered among the racists.

There's one more interesting aspect to the whole thing. Even though the War Between the States ended 140 years ago, many folks haven't yet come to deal with it (sort of like the Democrats losing the last two presidential elections), and consider themselves Texans or Georgians or whatever first and Americans second. During the seven years I lived in the Dallas area, I was always regarded as the "f***in' Yankee". Of course, it didn't help any when I reminded my detractors that, to the rest of the world, they were also considered "Yanks". I was once forced to apologize for an imagined insult I had made (I stated an incorrect component had been installed in two consecutive radios, which is a fact and not an opinion). I told them "If I've said anything at which you take offense, I am sorry". However, this wasn't enough. They weren't satisfied until I replaced "you" with a long, drawn-out "y'all".

My introduction to Australia was a book called "They're a Weird Mob". Perhaps the same can be said about Americans. We really are a weird mob.

Second comment

The old history books told the story more or less correctly. The highly industrialized North demanded that the South remain agricultural and buy their finished goods from the giant industrial power. It was essentially a repeat of the England versus colony situation all over again. The South had legitimate gripes over this and so decided to separate. Giant monopolies existed in the North that were often ruining producers in other regions at the same time. The South did not even have arms manufacturing and so had to get guns from France (sound familiar - as in Iraq?). The North, specifically Connecticut and one town in Massachusetts, made all the firearms for the whole country.

Economic factors were the strongest effectors of all. Water powered mills all over New England were rapidly becoming obsolete as steam took over. This enabled building factories far closer to consumers and avoiding weeks or months of boat shipment costs and delays. Connecticut was also famous for often cheating people. Our nickname, the Nutmeg State, came from a habit certain people had of making imitation nutmegs out of wood and selling them to unsuspecting people everywhere.

At the time of the Civil War, Connecticut had no forests. All usable land was either farming, pastures, or factories, cities, and roads. Western Massachusetts was and still is undeveloped land, it having no streams at all. Goods made in much of Connecticut had to be moved by wagons to rivers and then by barges to ocean ports. It was a mess - and expensive.

Slavery would have ended soon anyway. Whitney's famous cotton gin was rapidly replacing hand cleaning of cotton balls, virtually eliminating this last and most labor intensive step in producing cotton for thread to use in mills.

Among the famous company towns of Connecticut were Collinsville, Manchester, and others. these towns were as bad as the old English factory towns and later coal mining factory towns of northern Ireland. Their remains still decay slowly as the years pass.

So it was largely a desire for major improvements in local economies that caused the split and the rebellion. Most of the guns used by the North came from the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was one of only two Army armories in the whole country and was the most innovative, sad to say. Oddly enough, Connecticut was also home for many who opposed slavery and formed part of the underground 'railroad' that aided escaping slaves. Hartford was home to Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe, authoress of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Frankly, the South was dependent on free labor just to make a profit from its agriculture until mechanization arrived with the gasoline engine. Steam was used to power some very large tractors and other machines but just wasn't practical for most chores, the units being far too heavy to be useful on wet land or on small plantings. The real revolution began in the 1900s and has left Connecticut a wasteland of mostly empty towns full of decaying old factory buildings, a testament to the stupidity of those who just wanted the world to stay the same.

Third comment

As am American who grew up in the South I am proud of my heritage. Several of my ancestors fought in the War of Northern Aggression and I am proud of their sacrifice. It bothers me however to hear them maligned as brutal sadists fighting to keep their slaves, when the were bravely standing for States Rights. I am ashamed that my country has been bullied by the NAACP into teaching our school children that the war was about slavery.

It is the same vein of thought that will not allow a discussion of the brutality of the Indians to captured whites, but goes in depth to expose any excesses by settlers. This land may have been theirs, but with all the resources they had at their disposal they still didn't get past the Stone Age. So quite frankly I don't pity them. Life is tough, and only the strong survive. Just look at what is going on in New Orleans. The only people who are not going crazy down there are a group of Vietnamese. Now why is that? Maybe they were raised to respect authority?

NOTE: I am going to cease posting here anything more about the North/South war after this as I want this blog to concentrate mainly on present-day issues

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