9.11.2019

Godfrey's Thoughts on the Battle of Endor


Well, thanks to the magic of iMovie and the ability to guard my children's eyes from the outrageous Princess Leia slave costume, my children were initiated into Return of the Jedi a few months ago (after asking me for years when they could see the conclusion of the trilogy). Re-watching it with them, I was reminded of the rather abrupt end to the Battle of Endor.

I always wondered where the heck the entire Imperial fleet vanished to after the Death Star blew up. It's pretty obvious from the film that they still heavily outnumbered the rebels and could have easily crushed their puny fleet.

But as I thought about it some more, aside from how fast they took off, it's not totally crazy. Morale and leadership is a huge part of warfare and there are countless episodes in history where vastly superior forces managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory because they basically wimped out. Off the top of my head, the most obvious example I can think of is almost any battle of the War of 1812. Take the capture of Fort Detroit, for example. Sir Isaac Brock on the Canadian side had about 1000 troops, only 300 of whom were regulars. The American fort was garrisoned by 600 regulars and close to another 2,000 militia. But by being bold and preying on the fear that the American general had of the Indians, Brock took the fort with only two wounded. Even the Battle of Queenston Heights, where Sir Isaac Brock was killed early in the fighting, ended up a British/Canadian victory due to the timidity of the American generals.

So, when we consider that the Imperials just watched their prized flagship blow up (for unknown reasons -- no idea how the bridge blowing up would suddenly make it fly into the Death Star) -- and then seeing their prized super weapon carrying the Emperor evaporate, it's not too much of a stretch that they would lose their nerve and decide to fight another day, especially if the next officer in the chain of command was timid or otherwise not a great leader (conceivable since Darth Vader seemed to choke out the better officers who could think for themselves or had honour).

9.09.2019

9.04.2019

Book Review: Crusader King


Author: Susan Peek
Publisher: TAN  
My Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
Summary in a Sentence: [An] historical fiction novel about the unusual life of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, the leper crusader king who - despite ascending to the throne at only 13, his early death at 24, and his debilitating disease - performed great and heroic deeds in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Teenagers and avid readers of all ages will be amazed at this story and be inspired by a faith that accomplished the impossible (from TAN Books' description)

This novel is geared towards teenagers and certainly reads at a lower level than my usual fare. Nevertheless, I must recommend it as a very well written tale about Christian virtue. I was inspired to study the life of King Baldwin IV after reading this novel, and overall it is reasonably historically accurate although a fair bit of artistic license is taken (as admitted by the author in her afterward). As a novel I found it highly enjoyable, full of great characters and stirring events. King Baldwin's heroic actions despite being afflicted by Leprosy and his quiet resignation to the Will of God is truly inspiring. The depiction of the Battle of Montgisard is one of the greatest scenes I've read, where the king prostrates himself before the True Cross and begs God to save his kingdom as his army of 300 faces Saladin's army of nearly 30,000 (as portrayed in the novel -- historical sources vary and some of them do offer the 100:1 odds, but others but it at closer to 10:1). The friendship portrayed between King Baldwin and his childhood friend Theodore is purely fictional, but an excellent study in a true Catholic friendship.

This is definitely a book I would recommend for any parents with teenage sons. Even adults will enjoy this book, I think. At any rate, it is a quick read -- I read it in between three or four hours total. It is a fairly light book, and therefore I don't have anything particularly deep to say about it. It's just a good, solid, Catholic book which is especially good for kids. I'd give it an 4 stars on my scale of rating.

8.23.2019

BATTLE OF THE TWO DRAGONS

By Anna Blackwell (June 2019, age 11)

     In the land of Myths and Legends ,there lived a huge bird called Garuada .In Hindu myths he was the King  of birds ,part eagle and part human.As well as being the bird of life , Garuada was a destroyer, feared by snakes and dragons. Because of his great strength, he was the supreme ruler of the sky.

     All dragons were of this but many were to scared to face Garuada. But there were two dragons who did have the fury to face him these were a lightning dragon named Strike who brought the storms and the crash of his wings brought thunder.And his sister  who was a fire dragon named Scorch who lit the sun every morning and made the deserts dry and forests burn after the stroke of lightning from here brother.Accepted a challenge from Garuada and made a agreement to meet upon the Grey Mountain the next Day.

   Upon that day Scorch did not light the sun making the sky dark so if they lost the land would forever be cloaked in black till the next fire dragon took her place.Strike crashed his wings causing a storm as he prepared to meet his apoinent. When Garuada came Light formed around him.And as he spread out his wings,he let out a soft cry that sounded like a note of music.It was a sign that meant the battle was about to begin .

   Strike attacked first,he let out sparks of lightning at Garuada da who dodged them and through a ball of light at Strike who distroyed it with a lightning stroke. Scorch was perched on a rock casting flames at Garuada but failed .Garuada through a ball of light a her, Scorch unable to dodge it was knocked out. Strike seeing that his sister had fallen launched himself at the bird King.The two fought with such violence the it caused earthquakes to occur. The creatures of the land's only light was Garuada who battled the Lightning dragon at the top of the mountain.The two showed each other no mercy soon the Side of the mountain was splashed in blood.Strike grabbed Garuada's arm and broke it. Garuada shrieked and with his beak bit the dragons neck.Strike pulled him of wailing in pain and shot lightning at him. Garuada's side burned from the bolt .Strike charged at the bird king,teeth barded,claws unsheathed hoping to shred Garuada to bits.But He was ready and grabbed Strikes  head and through it in to the mountain crushing it.Scorch who came to saw the tragic scene shot out at Garuada full of fury and anger and let down a rain of fire .Almost roasting him alive, then with flick of her tail bashed him out of the sky. Garuada through near sure death was spared and he returned to his nest and was barely ever seen again .

   After Scorch re-lit the sun,she carried the limp body of her brother and buried it at the foot of the mountain.Scorch left the mountain to return to her den and continued to light the sun every morning till the end of her days.


                                            THE END


8.21.2019

Godfrey on Private Space Exploration


It's frequently shocked me that in the 1960s men were able to visit the moon at a time when the necessary calculations still had to be done with a slide rule and pencil-and-paper, yet fifty years later we have neither visited again nor gone any further. Things seem to have stalled as governments (except maybe the Chinese) lost much interest in space exploration. And as much as I'm interested in space exploration, I'm not sure it's a bad thing for government to get out of it. Is it really something the public purse should be paying for? Perhaps, perhaps not ...  but regardless, privatization of space exploration seems to be the way things are going ...

I think the Russians, in practical non-hyper-safety-sensitive Slavic style, were the first to start with a sort of "space tourism" to help fund their space programme in a faltering economy. Starting in 2001 they sent seven fee-paying individuals into space (halting the project when the space shuttle was retired and Soyuz became the only way of getting to the ISS). For $20-35 million USD a number of wealthy adventurers were able to spend 1-2 weeks aboard the International Space Station (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_tourism)

Then there is SpaceX, founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, which has developed two families of space craft (including a re-usable rocket) which now routinely transport supplied to the International Space Station.

More ambitiously, Virgin Galactic (owned by Sir Richard Branson), has been preparing for years to take the first tourists into space. For $200,000 USD, 430 very wealthy people will supposedly be able to fly on a suborbital flight into space. Virgin Galactic recently unveiled its "Gateway to Space" launch centre/star port, although they still have no timelines on flights.

Then there was the Red Bull Stratos project, where stunt man Felix Baumgartner successfully sky-dived from low earth orbit -- the first time I can remember in my lifetime that a space "first" was achieved, and this one completely by private interests and for a publicity stunt.
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