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Post New Year's Greeting from Vienna
Created by John Eipper on 12/31/17 3:45 PM

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New Year's Greeting from Vienna (Boris Volodarsky, Austria, 12/31/17 3:45 pm)

It is 11:45 pm in the whole of Europe (except the UK).

Happy New Year to all WAISers; peace and light!

JE comments: I'm posting this one hour later, so it's already 2018 on most of the (European) Continent. Our UK and Portuguese colleagues will ring in the New Year in fifteen minutes.

A joyful New Year to Boris Volodarsky and family.  Boris, I trust we'll get to raise a glass together in '18, in Vienna, or Cuba, or elsewhere.

Tonight Aldona and I are going out to dinner, and then we'll greet the New Year quietly at WAIS HQ.  It's too darn cold to be running around.  Pax, lux--and warmth--to all.

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  • Happy New Year from South Africa (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 01/01/18 5:15 AM)
    Happy New Year, Pax et Lux, Gelukkige Nuwe Jaar, to fellow WAISers from St. Francis Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

    I've had a few epic journeys in my life so far.  (One of my favorites was hiking the route of Hadrian's Wall from the Roman cavalry fort at Segedunum across the width of Britannia to Wallsend.)

    On January 11th, Rosemary and I will begin another, driving to the legendary Zulu War battle (massacre?) sites of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, with an overnight stop at the Boer War battlefield of Sopin Kop en route. I'll report whilst on the expedition, WiFi access permitting.

    JE comments: Best 2018 wishes for Tim and Rosemary. One of my many resolutions for the New Year is to meet Tim Ashby in person.  I know we'll have lots to talk about.

    Military history has long been an avocation of mine, but I know next to nothing about the Zulu and Boer wars. Please send a report, Tim, and happy travels.

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    • Thoughts for a WAISly 2018, from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/01/18 3:02 PM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      One of Auld Lang Syne's "lost" verses (approximating the archival Scots):

      We ran the full round did we not,

      And a full year filled in time,

      Since last this song soothed wounds we'd got,

      As we sang of Auld Lang Syne.

      Great New Year's adventures ahead on WAIS.

      I am very curious about Timothy Ashby's bygone hike along Hadrian's Wall, and about Rorke's Drift.

      And about coming reports Inside New Cuba, and from the Mears expedition in Mexico.

      Also, for A. J. Cave, after that great religion essay that included Galileo:

      When Galileo was finally pardoned after 200 years by Pope John Paul in 1979, did Galileo's soul then get to go to heaven? How did they work the transfer?  Or did they leave him down there, retorting sarcastically: "no, NON ti muovi"?

      Maybe light on this can be cast by Tor, Istvan and others in the religion discussion.

      Not to mention all the other fascinating possibilities for the New Year.

      JE comments:  Today's WAIS posts have all been from correspondents I've never met in person.  Add Gary Moore to the list.  Happy 2018, Gary!  May our paths cross before our next singing of Auld Lang Syne...

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      • A Scottish New Year's Toast (John Heelan, UK 01/02/18 7:17 AM)
        Gary Moore's reminder (1 January) brought back to me the wry toast of my old Scottish golfing partner (and professional soccer referee).

        When we we won a competition, my mate Jim--a teetotaller--would toast to our success with the old Scottish words, "Here's tae us/ Wha's like us?/ Damn few/ and they'r all deed!"

        Sadly, so is Jim.

        JE comments: Rest well, Jim. How, one wonders, did the Scots ever think up their vowel pronunciation? Kilts that are too tight?

        There's nothing like a wry toast.  Beats a white or whole-wheat toast every time.  (!)

        Painful punning aside, a very happy New Year to the most prolific WAISer, our dear friend John Heelan.

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      • Crossing Paths and Auld Lang Syne; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/03/18 2:36 PM)
        Gary Moore writes:

        JE's much-appreciated returned New Year's greeting seems almost telepathic, because next in the "lost" verses of Auld Lang Syne, to which John was replying, comes:

        To all ye here whose paths I've crossed

        On the journey lost and blind,

        Pray with my wrongs, recall my songs,

        And the light I sought to shine.

        I too, hope our paths cross in this new year, John.

        (As January 6 approaches, three modern Wise Men on GPS-equipped camels converse by night: "No, not that star. That's just Galileo, repositioning to Heaven.")

        And if possible, the Wise Men also append a thanks to John Heelan for that great Scottish toast.

        JE comments: We'll make it happen, Gary. I haven't been to Memphis (Home of Elvis and the Ancient Greeks) in a dozen years or more.

        Gary's follow-up New Year's greeting makes me realize that each January I overuse the expression "I hope our paths cross in [insert year here]." A cliché? What are some alternatives?

        • May our ships pass, but not in the night?

        • I hope that sometime this year, we both get stuck in the Atlanta (O'Hare, DFW) airport?

        • Maybe I'll be in town and mooch a night's lodging?

        • Let's do sushi?

        • WAIS '18 conference?  Yeah!

        Better suggestions?

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  • Happy New Year from Caracas (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 01/01/18 5:28 AM)
    A very happy and successful 2018 to the entire WAIS community!

    Picture: Caracas, December 31st, 2017, at noon.

    JE comments:  Nacho, I've immensely enjoyed our friendship and WAIS conversations in 2017, and look forward to another great year.  When time permits, could you send us your predictions for Venezuela in the New Year?

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  • Buon Capodanno (Salvatore Bizzarro, USA 01/01/18 8:04 AM)

    Buon Capodanno and a happy and uneventful New Year to all WAISers. Cheers!

    JE comments:  Same to you and yours, Salvatore!  I especially appreciate the uneventful part of your greeting.  Reminds me of the Chinese blessing:  May you not live in interesting times.  Tumultuous events make WAIS more, well, interesting, but I'm also pleased as punch to talk about prosciutto, Cuban cars, and the endlessly pleasurable topic of exotic travel.

    Here's to a boring 2018...?

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  • Happy New Year from Lisbon (Mendo Henriques, Portugal 01/01/18 12:36 PM)
    Bom Ano Novo and a happy New Year to all WAISers.

    Praise the Lord and be afraid of the new G.O.D.

    JE comments:  Obrigado, Mendo!  May you have a healthy and joyful 2018.

    Look below to find G. O. D.  But aren't gold and diamonds a thing of the past?  And oil--isn't it steadily going the way of gold and diamonds?  Finally, why does Iran get to be yellow and by itself?

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  • Science and Religion, Dan Brown and the Palmarian Catholic Church (Enrique Torner, USA 01/01/18 3:32 PM)
    I have been reading with great interest all the WAIS posts on science and religion, creation and evolution. I have kept postponing jumping into the discussion because this is one of my recent research subjects, and I would have a hard time being succinct in a WAIS post. However, I finally decided to give it a try.

    First of all, I would like to point out, as I already did in the past, that religion has played a big and important role in recent literature and cinema. I mentioned Dan Brown some time in the past as one of the most important current novelists exploiting this theme. Coincidentally, three or four months ago, he published his last novel: Origin. This last novel happens to takes place, in its majority, in three main Spanish settings: the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Gaudí's "Sagrada Familia" temple in Barcelona, and the cathedral of Seville. The usual protagonist of Brown's novels, Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, is invited to the Guggenheim museum to attend a major announcement, "the unveiling of a discovery that will change the face of science forever." The evening's host is "a forty-year old famous scientist who had been a student of Langdon at Harvard: Edmond Kirsch." Kirsch "is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough--one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence." (I am quoting from the book cover).

    Of course, something happens at the event that sets the thriller in motion. As you can imagine from the title, the announcement has to do with a discovery having to do with creation/evolution. Major representatives of the Catholic Church, Judaism, and Islam will rise together against this threatening announcement, causing further suspense in the novel.

    I want to bring attention to one Spanish Catholic schismatic sect that plays an important role in the novel: the "Iglesia Católica Palmariana."  I had never heard of this sect! Does anybody know about it? It turns out it actually exists: it was founded in 1978 in Andalusia by Pope Gregory XVII, and has had an anti-pope ever since. The current pope is Peter III. You can find more information online: it even has a Wikipedia entry. It seems there have been some scandals regarding their finances and other matters.

    Regarding the subject of Creation vs. Evolution, I had the honor of meeting the founder of Creation Science in the early 1990s: Dr. John Whitcomb. He was a guest speaker at a church my wife and I attended, and was giving a two-day seminar on Creation. The book that he co-authored with Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (1961), is a seminal book on Creation Science. The seminar I attended started a friendship between Dr. Whitcomb and me, and he got me started in translating Christian books from English into Spanish. Anecdotally, a few years ago, he mailed me a copy of a page of his diary dated May 19, 1947. At the time of this entry, Dr. Whitcomb was a student at Princeton, and an active leader in a campus Christian organization. On that day, his group was showing a movie open to the whole campus entitled "The God of Creation." Guess who attended the movie? Albert Einstein himself! You can see it yourself in my attached document.

    One final comment before I end this post: I really enjoyed A. J. Cave's essay of December 31st, and had been thinking of writing a post similar to hers, but she beat me to it! I would like to add that scientists have been disagreeing among themselves about the subject of evolution since Darwin's publications, and they continue to do so. Many present-day scientists find gaps and errors in this theory. Science, Theology, and Philosophy have been battling among themselves since the French Revolution about the definition and description of knowledge. Even scientists debated among themselves, as they still do. That's because there are different types of science. Scientists base their theory of evolution on assumptions which are criticized by other scientists, philosophers, and theologians. That's why we could say that, in a way, scientists operate on the basis of faith when dealing with some issues, especially when dealing with the remote past or the future. The assumption of uniformity cannot be applied to creation or the remote past, since this cannot be observable or reproducible, a scientific requirement. As Dr. Whitcomb states in his book, "the second law of thermodynamics implies decay, but does not say anything about the rate of decay. There is nothing fundamentally inviolable about even rates of radioactive decay." (xxvii)

    In case you think that all of today's scientists embrace evolution, here are a couple of links with lists of scientists who believe in Creation:



    I want to wish all WAISers a very happy and healthy New Year!

    JE comments:  See below.  To have Einstein show up at your campus event--how cool is that?  Prof. E riding his bicycle around Princeton is the stuff of legend.

    Enrique, I'm another Hispanist who had never heard of the Palmarians.  Their cathedral is located in tiny El Palmar de Troya, a village halfway between Seville and Jerez.  The Palmarians, per Wikipedia, have 30 bishops, 30 nuns, a pope, and 1000-2000 faithful.  Isn't that a lot of bishops per capita?

    A happy 2018 to you and the family, Enrique!

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    • Palmarian Catholic Church Controversies (John Heelan, UK 01/04/18 4:17 AM)
      WAISers comfortable with the Spanish language might like to read a newspaper report alleging that the head of the Palmar Church (Pope Gregory XXIII) absconded in his BMW with 75,000 euros and his Granadina girlfriend. He now is reputed be living in the Sierra Nevada.


      JE comments:  WAISer Rodolfo Neirotti (next) has also commented on the Palmarian Catholic Church (see Enrique Torner, January 1st).  (Ex-) Pope Gregory himself is making the strongest accusations of financial impropriety against the church.

      Sex, lies, intrigue, and illicit money (see link above).  Where have we heard this story before?

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    • Palmarian Catholic Church Controversies (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 01/04/18 4:31 AM)
      Religion has been a major topic on WAIS recently, and the "The Iglesia del Palmar de Troya" was mentioned (Enrique Torner, 1 January).

      Please see the link below regarding an article published in El País in Spain.

      Best regards and happy New Year.


      JE comments:  Best to you, Rodolfo!  So glad you checked in.  I look forward to WAISing with you in 2018.

      Speaking from exile, ex-Pope Gregory (birth name, Ginés Jesús Hernández) now claims that the miraculous apparition of Mary which spawned the Palmarian schism was a hoax.  El País speaks of the superlative wealth of the Palmarians, who among other revenue streams, have one single donor chipping in €250,000 per month.  I am not clear why the article describes the Palmarians as "ultras."  In Spain this implies extreme Right or neo-Fascist, but the political nature of the Palmarians is unclear.

      There's a photo of Gregory and his girlfriend Nieves at the above link.  Say what you want about the Palmarians, but Gregory doesn't seem Pontifical.  He does, however, look like a guy whose name is Ginés Hernández.

      The Palmarians' numbers have been on the decline apparently, but the Dan Brown novel should renew interest in the sect.

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