Saturday, 9 April 2011


As a petrolhead, I couldn't resist posting this.

It's reblogged from Sucksqueezebangblow.

Sheik Shaken

Every now and again I succumb to the temptation to tweak the beards of some of the more extreme nutcases out there in the interweb.

It's a bad habit, I know, as I run the risk of encouraging them, but I can't resist the endless fun it provides. Below is a recent exchange. I won't post the original comment that generated the discussion, or the website it was posted on.

You have to draw the line somewhere.

The poster was smearing Ban Ki-moon because he condemned the Koran burning in Florida. Moon also condemned the resulting killings in Mazar-i-Sharif, but this was conveniently ignored,

(The Avatars didn't copy, but I couldn't be bothered removing their shadows).

“Proving yet again that violent intimidation works”
No it doesn’t, as the Yanks discovered on March 16th 1968 – it is counter-productive.
My Lai and Mazar-i-Sharif have a strange symmetry. In one, events in Vietnam influenced public opinion in the USA, in the other, events in Gainsville Florida influenced public opinion in Afghanistan.
What these two events have in common as they did no one any good and were damaging to American interests.
By the way, you conveniently avoided to mention the fact that Moon also condemned the violence against the UN workers calling it ”an outrageous and cowardly attack” .
Your arguments are Leftist & Muslim propaganda combined.
Islam is damaging to American interests.
Islam is a scourge on humanity.
You must be the last person alive who is impressed by the mealy mouthed mush coming from corrupt, incompetent UN officials.
“Islam is damaging to American interests”
Ever asked yourself the question why a religion that has been around for 1300 years has suddenly become “damaging to American interests”?
The religion hasn’t changed – the West’s reaction to it has – examine that and you might learn something.
“who is impressed” – where did I say I was impressed? Don’t put words in my mouth. I noted it because you didn’t.
“Mealy mouthed mush…..corrupt, incompetent…”
That’s name-calling – not an argument…..
“Ever asked yourself the question why a religion that has been around for 1300 years has suddenly become “damaging to American interests”?
Ever wondered why America needed a navy against the Barbary pirates?
“Mealy mouthed mush…..corrupt, incompetent…”
That’s name-calling – not an argument…..
Hardly. Learn to separate facts from tosh. They prove it every day.
“The religion hasn’t changed”
That much is true. Islam has been waging jihad against the world for 1400 years. Time to make an end to it.
The Barbary Pirates had as much to do with Islam as the IRA did with Catholicism – red herring.
“They prove it every day”‘ – gross overgeneralisation. Who are “they”? Do you mean my fruiterer down the road who sells me the best mangoes in town, but prays five times a day?
Are you referring to the pediatrician who delivered my daughters?
He’s a Muslim.
Are you referring to the Islamic population of democratic Indonesia of 239 million, for example? Are you talking about the 16% of Israelis who are Muslim? Do you mean the 74 million Muslims in Turkey or the 6 million in the USA. Do tell…..
The UN has taken on an almost impossible task – the development of worldwide peace and security, human rights and international law. They have supported millions of the most marginalised and powerless peoples worldwide. After my personal experience of war I consider the organisation, with all its faults, one of the best hopes for the future.
“Time to make an end to it” – Who are you to determine what 2 billion of the world’s population should believe?
The last time there was such a campaign of smear and vituperation against a religion, the target was the Jews, and history shows us where that led.
That Bus advert should read “Lies , Hypocrisy and Violence Islam has it all”
Our little Mohammedan or moonbat Islamophile apologist writes
“Ever asked yourself the question why a religion that has been around for 1300 years has suddenly become “damaging to American interests”?
Well apart from the fact that the USA has only existed for just over 200 years the fact is that before their ill gotten gains from Oil (which they never discovered, couldn’t recover, didn’t know how to refine and never invented anything to use it for) Islam was setting in to the sunset as a barbaric 7th Century CULT inhabiting lands which were backward Third World cesspits (which many still are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan for example, see no oil no progress) . So they weren’t the threat to the West that they are now just to each other, Islam has to have violence it can’t exist without it. This is what Islamic lands will sink back to once “their” oil runs out. Just look at Saudi for instance Mohammedans dont work they PAY kaffirs to work for them so oil gone kaffirs gone Saudi shuts down.
I’m already getting tired of this.
In 1786, Jefferson, then the American ambassador to France, and Adams, then the American ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the “Dey of Algiers” ambassador to Britain.
The Americans wanted to negotiate a peace treaty based on Congress’ vote to appease.
During the meeting Jefferson and Adams asked the Dey’s ambassador why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.
In a later meeting with the American Congress, the two future presidents reported that Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja had answered that Islam “was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”
For the following 15 years, the American government paid the Muslims millions of dollars for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. The payments in ransom and tribute amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800.
Not long after Jefferson’s inauguration as president in 1801, he dispatched a group of frigates to defend American interests in the Mediterranean, and informed Congress.
Save your spittle for the right occasion.
Of course I mean the Muslim ummah, the 1.5 gazillion muslims who scream ‘death to America’ and ‘death to Israel’ every day of the week.
“Are you talking about the 16% of Israelis who are Muslim?”
No. I’m wondering about the Jews who used to live in lands that are now occupied by Muslims. Perhaps you can tell us what happened to them? While you’re at it, perhaps you can also tell us what happened to the Armenian and Greek Christians and the Assyrians in Turkey, and in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and how the Coptic Christians in Egypt are forced to eek out an existence living under piles of garbage?
The UN has done nothing. The UN is a talking shop where 56 and a half Muslim nations bribe other corrupt officials from beggar nations to vote against Israel and America which is footing the bill for most of it.
The UN is working for “worldwide peace and security, human rights and international law?”
My ass. You must be living under a rock or working for the swine who wish to destroy us.
“Who are you to determine what 2 billion of the world’s population”- tells me that you are a Muselmanic blowboy who’s bragging, blustering and trying to intimidate me with overblown numbers of Koranimals coming to kill me if I don’t submit.
We will make an end to it because we must.
Because our culture and civilization is a million times better than the retarded cult of Islam.
And no, Muslims are not Jews.
Muslims have a genocidal mandate against Jews dating back to Muhammad. Muslims are Jew-killers.
Mullah Lodabullah April 7, 2011 at 5:53 am
* The UN has taken on an almost impossible task – the development of worldwide peace and security
That is the job of the Antichrist, who will bring ‘peace and security’, but destroy many in the process. The result of this ‘peace’ will be sudden destruction, much like the flood of Noah’s day.
Ahh the good old Mohammedan numbers game where they count all Mohammedans as one forgetting to tell you that Sunnis regard Shia as Kaffir dogs and vice versa and they both hate the Ahmaddis and the Salfists . Islam was born in violence spread by the sword and needs Terrorism and violence just to exist. Take away all the Kaffirs and they will be at each others throats just like they are NOW.
Mullah Lodabullah April 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm
Iran (aka Persia) obsesses over burnt blasphemous book – whines to Ki-Moon
[Representatives of Iran, Tajikistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Palestine and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) met with Ban to discuss the burning of a copy of the holy Quran at a church in the US state of Florida.
During the meeting, Khazayee said that "Quran is a holy book that includes text of other holy books, so insult to Quran is an insult to all divine faiths". ]
It is blasphemy to pass islam off as a “divine faith”, since allah is either Satan or one of his sockpuppets.
“Save your spittle for the right occasion”
I think you mean “spite”, but this still makes no sense. Indicate where my comment is “spiteful”.
I’m also struggling to fathom the relevance of your homily about the meeting of presidents-to-be. Apart from the fact that I’m an Australian, and not all that interested in what the Americans were on about all those years ago, I would have thought that the inhabitants of Algeria had a perfect right to determine what went on in their country.
This reminds me of the situation in Northern Ireland when people like Tony Blair were trying to negotiate peace after 200 years of bloody conflict.
The diehards kept bringing up the “what-about” factor, referring to past grievances – imagined or real – which would never allow for reconciliation.
Last week, a young Catholic policeman was killed, apparently by IRA extremists, but instead of riots and further killings, the catholic and protestant community united in condemnation and as one attended his funeral and followed his cort├Ęge from the church.
It was the first time in his life that the Unionist prime minister had seen the inside of a catholic church.
Thus in the midst of tragedy, there was a willingness to conciliate and hope for peace – something that would have seem a mad dream in the 1970s at the height of the troubles.
“you are a Muselmanic blowboy who’s bragging, blustering and trying to intimidate me with overblown numbers of Koranimals coming to kill me if I don’t submit” – Perhaps you should refer to your own guidelines – “Avoid tu quoque and ad hominem attacks”
Show me where I used or bluster or intimidation. I simply provided you with a list of facts.
“Muslims are Jew-killers”
Really? The professed religion of the people who killed 6 million Jews in WW2 was Christian.
Sorry bro, but I don’t have the patience to educate you.
I’m not into circular reasoning either.
This website is aptly named ‘Winds of Jihad’ and here you can educate yourself on Islam and jihad. The Brits and the Irish can sort each other out, good luck to them, its not relevant to us.
Show me where I used or bluster or intimidation.
Read your comments again. “2 billion Muslims” is clearly bluster.
‘Muslims are Jew-killers’ goes back to the time of Muhammad. The hadith calls for genocide of Jews. The Koran is full of Jew-hatred. Muhammad committed genocide on Jews and drove them out of their homelands.
Nazis didn’t kill Jews in the name of Christianity.
Nazis used imam Husseini and the Handschar Brigades to do the dirty work for them.
Muslims killed more than 300 million people and enslaved even more during their 1400 reign of terror.
“2 billion Muslims” – That’s a statement of demographic fact.
To interpret it as “bluster” indicates a perspective best diagnosed as psychotic projection.
“I’m not into circular reasoning either".
Or any other kind of reasoning, obviously.
“Winds of Jihad” is apt. “Farts of Jihad”would be even more so, given the content.
“The hadith calls for genocide of Jews.”
To quote Tarek Fatah “The poison is not coming from the Quran, but from the man-made shariah laws of the 8th and 9th centuries as well as the works of such 20th century scholars as Syed Qutb, Hassan Banna and Maudoodi” and that “The swamp that needs to be drained is the swamp created by Saudi Arabia and Iran and their call for imposition of Shariah”
This meme has nothing to do with Islam, but everything to do with modern geo-politics. You seem unable to distinguish between the faith and the politics.
Your misintepretation of both the Quran and recent Middle-Eastern history is a school of thought likely to lead to further conflict and suffering. Hate is no antedote to hate – it operates as an accelerant.
“Nazis didn’t kill Jews in the name of Christianity.”
I doubt it matters what name they were killed in – they’re just as dead.
“Muslims killed more than 300 million people”
Provide a reliable source for this statement.
Mullah Lodabullah April 8, 2011 at 3:25 am
* “2 billion Muslims” – That’s a statement of demographic fact.
How many will be buried at Hamangog, in order to cleanse the Holy Land? (Ezekiel 38 / 39). Will need a serious mass grave to hold that lot.
Okay, from mush to the inevitable insults.
Tarek Fatah is a jerk. He doesn’t even know that Aisha was 6 when Moe married her and raped her with nine.
Tarek is no scholar. Sheik yer’mami is a scholar.
Tarek has a following of One. Tarek Fatah.
Islam is a socio-political ideology. Sharia is Islam. You can’t separate the two.
If you find any “misinterpretation” here you are most welcome to correct it.
Besides, it is fundamental to note that the Nazis didn’t kill one single soul to make Christianity the dominant religion.
Muslims kill and die for allah. (Koran 9:111)
Muhammad gave them a mandate to make the world Islamic.
You should know because you’re one.
Better get to know your stuff before you come blowing smoke up my butt.
“Tarek Fatah is a jerk. He doesn’t even know that Aisha was 6 when Moe married her and raped her with (sic) nine.”
Who’s “Moe”, and with nine what?
Your ignorance of the culture of the time of Aisha’s betrothal to Muhammad is astounding for someone who claims to be an authority on Islam.
‘She was the daughter of Abu Bakr, one of the Muhammad’s closest companions and one of the first converts to Islam. Aisha was contracted to the Prophet Muhammad at an age given variously as between 9 and 12 years, although her marriage was not consummated until after puberty (usually given as between 12 and 16 years of age), at which point she became marriageable according to the standards of the 7th century Arabia. Aisha’s marriage was seen as a political move in order to tie Muhammad to Abu Bakr’s family.’1
This custom of a betrothed young woman joining the household of a prominent male at her age was well accepted at the time. Joining the household did not mean that the relationship was sexual. This often occurred much later in the piece.
Applying the standards of 21st century western society to these events which occurred in the 7th century Arabia is an indication of your naivety or malice, or both. Frankly, it’s a smear. You could equally well smear Catholics by pointing out that The Blessed Virgin Mary , the mother of Jesus Christ, the mother of God, gave birth to her Son when she was about thirteen or fourteen years of age.2
“Sheik yer’mami is a scholar.”
Scholars don’t quote talk show hosts as factual sources.
“Islam is a socio-political ideology. Sharia is Islam. You can’t separate the two”.
I’ve obviously been misled when I studied Comparative Religion at the University of Queensland, and compared Islam with Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Somebody needs to talk to the Faculty Dean – he’s obviously been misled as well.
You can be an observant Muslim without observing Sharia law. 450000 Australian Muslims will attest to that.
“You should know because you’re one”.
Actually I’m Catholic, or at least that’s what was written on the tags I wore around my neck in Vietnam.
1. Source – Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: a Biography of the Prophet (New York: Harper Collins Publishers 1992).
2. Source – The New Advent Catholic Encyclopaedia
You will not be wasting my time any more.

With that he took his bat and ball and went home.
This was disappointing. Arguing with him resembled shooting fish in a barrel.
My last comment was censored. A screen shot is at the top of the post. Click on the image it to read the text.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Riddle of Autism

I came across this article today.

Autism has always intrigued me, partly as a result of running five special schools (in an earlier life) two of which had a high proportion of kids with Autism enrolled.

Education systems struggle with the condition – and it is a condition, not a “disease”, despite its labelling as such in some media.

I’m no expert – there are very few teachers who are, and this is part of the problem. Last time I looked, there is no teacher preparation course in Queensland in the category. A search on “autism electives”   at Griffith University – one of the premier teacher training institutions in Brisbane revealed nothing.

Given that the incidence rate is 1 in 110, this is a major issue.

Working with kids with Autism in mainstream classes is a struggle for most teachers. The vibrant social environment that is a powerful learning tool for regular kids is often poison for kids with Autism. They can’t cope with the unpredictable and open-ended atmosphere, and either withdraw or act out. Managing asocial or anti-social behaviours in a class of 25 kids is very difficult.

I’ll take you through the article and comment as I go. My comments are based on 20 years of working with these kids – not on any study or research. I’ve made all the mistakes.

My notes are in italics. The rest of the post is the article and my commentary -

A few decades ago, autism spectrum disorders (also termed Pervasive Developmental Disorders) were viewed as relatively rare disorders that impacted around one in 1500 children. Since that time, the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has increased dramatically. Current estimates of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (2009) are about 1 in 110 children.

The reasons for this increase are attributed to several factors, although experts acknowledge that more research is needed to fully understand this trend. Some factors which appear to contribute to the increase include:
• Change in diagnostic practices among mental health experts, resulting in children that used to be diagnosed with problems like mental retardation, now being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
• Improved screening and detection of autism spectrum disorders.
• Potential ‘true” increases in the frequency of autism, due to risk factors such as increased parental age of having children.

There has certainly been an increase in diagnostic rates, and the points about screening and diagnosis are undoubtedly correct. There is, I believe something else happening. When I began working in Special Education in 1971, these kids were extremely rare. They just weren’t around. Now, they constitute up to a third of the enrolment of Special Schools.
I’m sure there are unknown exogenous factors. It may be diet related. These days we consume much more food which has additives designed to improve shelf life and appearance.

The built environment uses a range of chemicals to fit out interiors, many of which are not fully researched. The asbestos phenomenon is a reminder of how this factor works.

There are endogenous factors as well.

The way we rear our kids has subtlety changed. We tend to supervise them closely, often indoors. We park them in front of screens at an earlier age. They are often deprived of the free-flowing learning environment provided by extended family and semi-rural living.

Perhaps some crucial phases of early social development are being compromised by this. I've noticed an anecdotal relationship between Autism and middle ear problems.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, children with autism spectrum disorders have difficulty in three primary areas: 1) social interaction, 2) verbal and nonverbal communication, and 3) repetitive behaviours or interests. In addition, they will often have unusual responses to sensory experiences; such as certain sounds or the way objects look

The earliest signs of autism spectrum disorders usually are evident shortly after a child’s first birthday. However, reliable diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder is usually not possible before a child is slightly older, around at least 1 and ½ to 2 year old.

Possible early signs of an autism spectrum disorder in a child include:
• Does not babble, point, or make meaningful gestures by 1 year of age
• Does not speak one word by 16 months
• Does not combine two words by 2 years
• Does not respond to name
• Loses language or social skills
Other indicators may include poor eye contact, not seeming to know how to play with toys, not smiling, or excessively lining up toys or other objects.

This is a useful summary.

Again, I’ve heard from so many mums and dads who describe that they noticed something changing in their child’s reactions between age one and two. They sense it, as much as anything, especially if they have experienced the normal development pattern of older siblings.

At this age, diagnosis is not always possible.

Diagnosis is based on a behavioural checklist. There is no “test” – you can’t take a blood or tissue sample which indicates Autism. Paediatricians I have spoken to admit they sometimes provide what they call a “charitable” diagnosis. By this they mean that if a diagnosis is borderline, they will confirm it, as they know that the education system will provide additional resources that will help the child and family.

Treatment for Autism

Behaviour Modification: Significant progress has been made in treating autism spectrum disorders over the past 25 years. Treatment typically focuses on the use of behaviour modification (applied behaviour analysis) to help a child with an autism spectrum disorder learn social skills, communication skills, skills to complete schoolwork, and skills to function as a family member. By combining a child’s interests, a regular schedule, and principles of behaviour modification, most treatment programs help a child participate in a range of activities that would not be possible without treatment.

Dietary Modifications: There are many reports of specific food restrictions (for example, gluten free) or dietary supplements helping children with autism.

Medications: There is no single psychotropic medication that has been developed to specifically address symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. For some children, medications may help with certain problems like aggressive outbursts.

In the first place – the word “treatment” is misused. Autism is not an illness – you don’t “treat” it.

In fact, I’d argue that using the medical model for dealing with children with Autism is a mistake. An educational (developmental open-ended) model is more useful. Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) as mentioned above, does work, but it requires enormous amounts of specialist input.

Most schools do not have access to these services.

There is learning and teaching model that works. I learned this as a special school principal faced with the challenge of programming for these kids with a limit on the resources available. Remember that special schools are staffed much more generously than regular schools.

Described simply, you need to set up three different environments for the child.

The first is intensive one-on-one instruction using basic stimulus-response principles. You need to teach specific communication and social skills in short intensive bursts. Strategies such as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) are useful in this context.

The next level is small group skill and practice sessions. This can be supervised by a trained Teacher Aide or Teacher (if available). These sessions are longer and less intensive, but there still needs to be heaps of structure, and they need to be carried out in a controlled supportive environment.
The third level is pretty much the open school environment. The child/children with Autism needs to be kept in sight by a staff member, and there should be carefully planned time-out and refuge strategies available if and when the environment becomes too overwhelming.

The activity during these sessions can be structured or unstructured, but it’s better to use strustured class time for this process. Few kids with severe autism can abide the free-flowing school playground.

The art in it is the fine-tuning of daily scheduling. The intensive programming probably is best applied during what is for the rest of the kids their playtime. Whilst the others are playing, the child with Autism is somewhere in a quiet structured environment in a training session. "Play" breaks for the child on the spectrum need initially to be structured and may have to take place in a secluded setting until his/her social skills are up to the regular play session. The child with Autism can join the outside school environment in structured times. He/she is managed more easily in these settings and less likely to become anxious.

The school day can be divided into thirds of about the same length.

The challenge, of course, is to timetable this programming arrangement in a way that makes sure the staff get a break, the kids are safely supervised, and the classroom space is available.

April is Autism Awareness Month. These kids and their families aren't getting a fair deal at the moment.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

At It Again

I watched Insiders on Sunday as I usually do, without realising Andrew Bolt was a guest.

This is usually enough to make me switch channels, as he invariably spends most of the programme indulging in attention-seeking behaviour, which turns it into a circus.

Foolishly perhaps, I kept watching.

At one point he was attacking Lenore Taylor about his pet peeve (AGW).  His technique is to verbally harass journos (especially females) in order to get some kind of reaction - which he writes up on his "blog". I use the parenthesis because by definition a blog encourages sharing and discussion. His effort allows real dialogue only with those who agree with him.

It reminds me of an arsonist lighting a fire in a school and returning to watch the fun.

Taylor tried to answer his question - but he kept interrupting her. Barrie Cassidy showed an uncharacteristic lack of backbone as moderator.

Eventually she said something sotto voce. She had shown courtesy and patience up to this point. What is said is barely audible. When I watched it, it sounded like "for pity's sake".

Her patience was phenomenal, given the fact that he had interrupted her over and over again, wagged his finger like an outraged school marm, and turned himself into some kind of grand inquisitor. The fact that she didn't tell him to "piss off" is remarkable. But she didn't.

Bolt made a great fuss about the non-existent comment - his invention. Today there was a reference on his MTR post admitting to the fact that  she didn't use those words, but the previous post remains. He made have said something on MTR, but I have better things to do in the morning than listen to that self-indulgent nonsense.

A gentleman would withdraw the smear and apologise publicly.

His confected outrage had the carefully crafted result he sought.  The language (not used by Taylor) became the issue - not the logic of the argument - not the dialogue. This is the time-honoured technique perfected by the likes of Jones and other lightweights.

Having said this, I think I've found a good match for Bolt's penchant for making up "facts" and making himself, rather than the issue, the story. He should be on the Onion.

It's a successful "news" site in the USA. It has a following from Generation Y and the Millenials. Basically, it makes up stories, and turns them into entertainment - right up Bolt's alley - the "making up" bit at least. I'm not sure about the entertainment value.

On second thoughts, he probably takes himself too seriously to be comfortable in the role.

We had a name for this behaviour in the army, but I wouldn't use it here, gentle reader. I won't be accused of ungentlemanly behaviour.

Posted is my censored comment on Bolt's blog. Click to enlarge.

Monday, 4 April 2011

A Bleeding Heart

There's is a view (often promoted in the right-wing blogosphere) that compassion is a vice.

This has always bewildered me, possibly because I'm the product of a boarding school run by the Sacred Heart order. Their logo is quite literally a bleeding heart. The use of the word as an insult is un-Australian. It's crept into our language from across the water to the East.

Anyway, compassion is, to me and always will be, a human virtue. I believe that this world would be a much better place if more of this human vurtue was demonstrated by individuals, government and community.

To celebrate this virtue, I'm posting a tribute to a Father Kevin Ryan, a prison chaplain who died on March 13th. I would never miss reading his weekly column in the Catholic Leader. I'll miss it now.

The first part of the post is a tribute to him from last Sunday's Leader.

The second part is one of his last columns.

Rest in peace, Kevin.

Tribute to Fr Kevin Ryan 

Kevin was a man of great experience and compassion, a man sensitive to other’s needs who did his best to respond to them. His closeness to God was not the over-spiritual which he mistrusted, but in everyday happenings and people. He was no one's fool, but could evaluate character without needing to judge it. He quickly established rapport with even those who were least open to an approach from a clergyman. His response to one of these challenges: "I don't like Catholics", was, "That's all right, and there are plenty of them I don’t like too".
Kevin's communication style was direct, uncomplicated and easily understood. As a priest and a man in a man's world, he said what was needed when it was needed, especially in his writing. When you read his columns in The Catholic Leader, you can always hear his voice saying it - the words are exactly as he preached - practical and down to earth. He The Leader for a reflective column that was not too "learned". He did something about it.
It seems everyone who read The Leader read his columns.
Fr Kevin was well respected by the prisoners and they looked up to him as a father figure for help. Once I saw a rare joyous smile light up the face of a young man (under observation for continuing self-harm), when Fr Kevin entered the room. The young man rushed to embrace Kevin. I doubt I will ever forget his joy when he saw Kevin arrive.
In the corrections system his humility and empathy gained him a reputation among the residents as someone who could be trusted to share the most intimate details of their experiences. But always on matters of principle it was recognised that he would not be compromised. He was non-judgemental and for a man who was universally respected he had exceptional humility. But he also had amazing empathy and an ability to hold confidences.
Some of these traits must have been instinctive as Kevin himself used to say, "You can't teach a dingo to round up cows". I don't think he had a strong sense of ceremony in the liturgy - he could rush on to the altar
with his vestments a bit awry.
What a down-to-earth, sensible, caring and practical man he was - respected and loved. Compassion and practical caring marked Fr Kevin. He never asked why, he just gave - he was the channel from a loving God to anyone in need.
Like the Lord, Kevin had us all in the palm of his hand. There are many tales of his countless acts of kindness; when Indonesian boat traffickers (arrived) he sourced an Indonesian-English dictionary to help those with limited English to cope in that environment.
Whenever the media broadcast or published news of the most appalling and horrendous crimes, Kevin would scan the nominal roll at Arthur Gorrie to seek out the offenders and offer them emotional support. When residents expressed anxiety about how their families were faring,
Kevin would call parents or partners or children, and without breaking confidences, would reassure them they could rely on him for emotional or spiritual support.
If Banjo Paters on were alive he would have penned a poem honouring "Kev, the Chaplain"

This was one of Kevin Ryan's last columns - 

Greed is the Knife

Today’s column draws on the thoughts of Marie Gallagher, a writer in the January edition of Reality, published by the Irish Redemptorists. While she writes specifically of Ireland, much of what she has to say can apply to Australia and gives food for thought in this time of Lent.

A dapper young man was telling his friends in the pub of how big a success he was financially. He had land, investments, money in the bank and a healthy insurance policy. His future was assured.

An older man sitting nearby with his paper and beer intervened.
"I have something you'll never have."
The dapper young man stopped and with a smirk said: "What might that be?"
To which the older man replied - "enough".

In a society driven by money and what it will buy, there is always the risk we will let it take over our lives. There are people who have ability to make lots of money. There's nothing wrong with that provided it doesn't dominate their thinking and damage other people along the way.

We know that St Paul was right when he said money is the root of all evil. We don't doubt the wisdom of Jesus when he said we can't serve two masters or that where our treasure is that is where our heart lies. In a world where money just seems to pop out of an ATM it is so easy to think all this refers to big companies, governments or other people, but the Gospel message is for everyone.

In some ways money does talk. A man down on his luck admitted that when he said his just said goodbye. We hear about false gods and those bits of coloured paper we have in our wallets can be signs of false gods.

Our response to a natural disaster is to give heaps of goods we don't need. Even if we don't shop there, just walk through our charity shops and see what we've thrown out. We keep on buying to fill up cupboards that are already full. This is a long way from the thinking of the late Sr Kate Flannery, of Our Lady's Nurses of the Poor, who used to say that we had to keep our cupboards empty, so God could put more in.

When is enough, enough? A bit of street art in the docklands area of Dublin said, "Greed is the knife and the scars run deep".
It is easy to be greedy, even for those who have little. What is true wealth? What is the bottom line in our relationships, our help of others or living out high ideals? We picture ourselves standing before God one day. He'll be looking at what we're worth without money. Many of our achievements will be left behind as we leave this world as we came into it.

I remember this story from the housekeeper at a priests' house in Ireland. She told how the richest man in the village died the night before. He was mean with money.
Following local custom she went to Mass before visiting his home.

She said, "there he was, lying dead on his bed. I looked at him and said, "your money isn't much use to you, now."
In the spirit Lent could of we begin in our families to realise that debts have to be repaid, that money must be managed, that we have to save for what we want. That we learn from the careful lives of our old people and not from economists. Who is our model – our grandmother - or Murdoch, who at the age of 80 goes on another spree?

As deterrent to reckless spending we could keep in mind that bit of street art reminding us that “Greed is the knife and the scars run deep".

A Pinch of Common Sense

Courtesy I found this posted in Facebook a few weeks ago, when the faux outrage about mandated vaccination first began to ...