It’s a bittersweet feeling . . .

Two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers are paying an official visit to South Africa at present.  They landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria yesterday.  Here’s video of one of them on final approach, escorted by two South African Air Force Hawk trainer aircraft.  I know the area where the photographer was standing very well;  I’ve stood there myself more than once, watching aircraft arriving and departing. It was a bittersweet sort of feeling for me to watch that video, for two reasons. The first is that, back in the days of my active military service, any such Russian (i.e. Soviet) aircraft showing up within

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Pain can do that to you . . .

I was saddened to read that a Belgian athlete has chosen euthanasia as the only way she could see to end her pain. Belgian paralympian Marieke Vervoort, who won gold and silver medals in wheelchair racing at the 2012 London Paralympics and silver at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, died by euthanasia Tuesday, officials said. Vervoort, 40, suffered from incurable, degenerative spinal pain. She said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro three years ago that she only got about 10 minutes of sleep some nights and described the pain that caused others to pass out from just watching her. She said sports

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A sobering reminder of an eternal reality

Daniel Greenberg, who blogs at Sultan Knish, is going through the slow, but inevitable loss of a loved one.  He’s written about it, very personally and very movingly. Our lives are defined by numbers. Our deaths are defined by them too. Somewhere out of sight, in the world or in our bodies, a clock ticks insistently away. Most of the time we are fortunate enough to be deaf to the relentless clockwork march of time. Until we begin to hear. And are unable to stop. There are many clocks in the hospital room where she lies dying beneath a plastic blanket inflated

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RIP, Tim Conway, and thanks for all the laughs

Beloved actor and comedian Tim Conway died this morning in Los Angeles.  He was famous for his roles on The Carol Burnett Show, as well as other productions. He was truly a comic genius, and a master of timing.  To illustrate, here’s one of his most famous sketches from The Carol Burnett Show:  the Elephant Story. Hilarious, human, and touching.  God rest you, Mr. Conway, and thanks for many happy memories. Peter

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Notre Dame

I share the sadness of millions around the world at the loss to fire of much of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris yesterday. In cultural and historical terms, it was a tragedy of the first magnitude.  What’s lost can be rebuilt, but the original can never be replaced.  Of greater cultural import, at present it’s believed that something like 70% of the religious relics housed in the sacristy at the cathedral have been destroyed, or are still not accounted for.  Their loss (if confirmed) will be a grievous blow to the Catholic Church, where such items are regarded with far greater importance

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The forced Sovietization of American private farms?

A recent article suggests that collective farming is being imposed on American agriculture – not by the state, but by agricultural companies.  I know it’s a controversial subject, but this perspective shows the human impact of “big ag”. Chris Petersen, a third-generation hog farmer who says “I bleed rural” and tears up at the fate of family and friends, has found a way to keep his small holding going, and avoid the exodus that so many are making. His grown son and daughter have, too. But meanwhile, Petersen is at war with the big companies that he says are destroying the culture

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Quick road trip on a sad occasion

Sadly, and suddenly and without warning, the father of a friend died last weekend.  Miss D. and I will be heading south this morning for the funeral.  Please keep us in your prayers for traveling safety and the like; and also for the survivors of the departed, for whom funerals are always tough. We hope to be back by this evening. I’ve queued up a couple of blog posts for later in the morning, so you won’t be short of reading matter. Peter

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Sunday morning music, for the centenary of Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, fighting ended in the First World War with the implementation of an armistice.  Since then, 11th November has been celebrated all over the world, particularly in Britain and her former colonies, as Armistice Day.  The full peace treaty took many months more to negotiate, but at least the killing was over. It was one of the very worst, most destructive, and most pointless wars in the history of the world.  Untold millions died, or were maimed, or were hurt, yet their sacrifice

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Sunday morning music, for the centenary of Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, fighting ended in the First World War with the implementation of an armistice.  Since then, 11th November has been celebrated all over the world, particularly in Britain and her former colonies, as Armistice Day.  The full peace treaty took many months more to negotiate, but at least the killing was over. It was one of the very worst, most destructive, and most pointless wars in the history of the world.  Untold millions died, or were maimed, or were hurt, yet their sacrifice

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Maserati lovers must be in tears

A fire in the Italian port of Savona has destroyed hundreds of Maseratis awaiting export.  The Local’s Italian edition reports: After sea waters rose and flooded the port last night, including the two parking areas, local media reports that the salt water caused car batteries to explode and catch fire in the early hours of this morning. Most of the vehicles destroyed in the blaze were brand new Maserati. Several hundred were reportedly stored at the terminal ready for export to the Middle East. . . . The car terminal fire is still ongoing, with the port reportedly enveloped in smoke and ‘continuous’

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