Friday, 29 December 2017

Toomas Karmo: ADMIN: Blogging Arrangements over Christmas Week

[Revision history:

  • UTC=20171229T1834Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo added a modest envisaged astronomical upload to his blogging plan.
  • UTC=20171229T1700Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version of plan.] 

[I here merely remark on blogging arrangements over the Christmas week.

My current plans (subject to change) are the following: 

  • Attempt no significant blogging until 2018-01-01 (MON). 
  • On 2018-01-01 (MON), blog with reference to social justice and the David Dunlap Observatory and Park heritage-conservation file, and also with reference to Kmo summer-of-2017 work for the short Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Observer's Handbook brightest-stars essay. 
  • On 2018-01-08 (MON), attempt to resume the usual tempo of blogging. In this context, consider making further remarks on the analytical philosophy of perception, action, and "subjectivity". 

A blessed continuation of Yuletide to you all!] 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Toomas Karmo: As Christmas of 2017 Approaches

Quality assessment:

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his  grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: Kmo had time to develop the necessary points to reasonable length.
Revision history:
All times in these blog "revision histories" are stated in UTC (Universal Coordinated Time/ Temps Universel Coordoné,  a precisification of the old GMT, or "Greenwich Mean Time"), in the ISO-prescribed YYYYMMDDThhmmZ timestamping format. UTC currently leads Toronto civil time by 5 hours and currently lags Tallinn civil time by 2 hours. 

  • 20180103T0552Z/version 3.2.0: Kmo, upon reviewing this blog posting, found it necessary to correct some typos and add a few clarifications. All told, his changes amounted perhaps rather to a cumulative (small) change in substance than to a mere cosmetic tweak. - Kmo retained the right to make further tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 3.2.3, ... . 
  • 20171222T2001Z/version 3.1.0: Kmo made some adjustments of substance: he now explored his fears (not necessarily, he now stressed, realistic) of being sued by Corsica Development Inc. (and in this context developing also the theme of past Corsica legal action against persons with properties abutting DDO&P); and he adjusted some previously not-quite-cautious language regarding the OMB-prescribed DDO&P-remnant "wildlife corridor". He reserved the right to make tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmiet,c tweaks over the coming 24 hours, as here-undocumented versions 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.1.3, ... .
  • 20171221T0309Z/version 3.0.0: Kmo finished converting his fine-grained outline into coherent full-sentences prose. He reserved the right to make tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 3.0.1, 3.0.2, ... . 
  • 20171219T1843Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo managed to upload a duly polished fine-grained outline. He removed all material previously uploaded for the essay. Kmo realized that the pressure of other duties would over the coming 20 or so hours prevent him from taking the essay further. He hoped to start converting the fine-grained outline into coherent full-sentences prose by around UTC=20171220T1500Z, and to  finish this task of conversion, in a process of incremental uploads, by around UTC=20171220T2200Z.
  • 20171219T0224Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo managed to upload a coarse-grained outline and part of the ensuing necessary fine-grained outline. He hoped to finish the fine-grained outline within the next 3 hours, and within the next 5 hours to have made at least some modest start on converting the fine-grained outline into coherent full-sentences prose. He realized he would have to return to the conversion task around UTC=20171219T1400Z, thereupon giving it perhaps 3 or 4 or 5 additional hours - with some of these additional hours unavoidably delayed until the middle of the week.

[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past months shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity, at any rate when coupled with my erstwhile, out-of-date, Web-authoring uploading browser, to generate HTML that gets formatted in different ways on different downloading browsers. Some downloading browsers have sometimes perhaps not correctly read in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" (CSS) which on all ordinary Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect CSS problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Finally, there may be blogger vagaries, outside my control, in font sizing or interlinear spacing or right-margin justification. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via]

0. How to Read This Week's Essay

This week's posting has to be long. To help readers, I make the following suggestions: 
  • Everyone should have a look at the section headed "1. Background for This Week's Essay". (That "Everyone" takes in a heterogeous little mob. There are casual, so-to-speak innocent, readers from places like the USA. I suspect that from time to time there are local municipal authorities here in southern Ontario, checking up on me. There are the Russian readers, I presume for the most part in FSB, in SVR, or in some cognate government agency, who in their occasional frenzies of heavy downloading temporarily generate about as much traffic as the innocent USA.) For some readers, just a quick skim will do. For others, such as Ontario municipal politicians, or Ontario police worrying about files, or FSB-and-similar, a more careful inspection will be in order. A few such people will even want to take a few minutes to print out a few pages of hard copy. 
  • Readers should inspect, skim, or omit the ensuing sections, headed "3. Toward Healing and Peace in Ontario's DDO&P Heritage-Conservation File" and "4. Toward Healing and Peace in the FSB-SVR File", as appropriate in their particular situations. My small innocent readership (some of whom will be drawn here by my analytical-philosophy discussions of action, perception, Turing machines, and the innocent like) might be able to pass through these two sections very quickly indeed. 
  • Everyone should read my concluding, overtly theologizing, sections, headed "5. The Curious Incident of the Nazarene Baby at Holy Trinity, Toronto" and "6. The Blessed Example of Brother Dom Adrian Walker (OSB) at Pluscarden".

1. Background for This Week's Essay

As Christmas approaches, I recall my personal duties of amateur public service, in relation both (a) to Ontario's troubled David Dunlap Observatory and Park (DDO&P) heritage-conservation file and (b) to two principal security organs of the Russian Federation, the already-mentioned FSB and SVR. The first of these is a duty of service I principally incur through my Canadian citizenship, which I hold through being born in Nova Scotia (in 1953, to Estonian-émigré parents). The second of these is a duty of service I principally incur through my Estonian citizenship. I hold the citizenship because my parents were Estonian nationals, resident in Estonia until the 1944 beginning of Estonia's second, half-century, Soviet occupation.

In my two current spheres of amateur public service, I have been to some extent aided, and to some extent impeded, by a pair of special circumstances:

(1) I find myself able to survive on comparatively little money. (I buy no meat other than the occasional Dollarama sausage (or something similar), or perhaps in imitation of wartime Britain some such tinned meat as Spam. I use a slow cooker (an electrically heated ceramic pot, drawing around 85 watts) for making my own vegetable stews. I operate no motorcar. I rent a comfortable basement flat under moderate terms. And so on.) Further, I have over the years made correct family arrangements for persons to some extent financially dependent on me, in ways which safely decouple them from whatever legal or physical attacks might in some remote contingency get mounted on me. I have accordingly found myself over the period 2012-2014 able to dispense - admittedly toward the end of this period in a state of temporary inner terror - with about 500,000 CAD or 550,000 CAD. The sum, which in middle-rank-of-the-middle-class Canadian circumstances ranks as large, pretty much sufficed to pay for the legal representation of the Richmond Hill Naturalists ( at unsuccessful 2012 and 2014 Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearings, in our joint unsuccessful effort to save at least some of the trees on the 32-hectare subdivision being carved out of the 77-hectare DDO&P.

It has been forcefully stated to me by an Ontario conservationist that the Naturalists and I merely "pissed away" a half million, and that we should instead have short-circuited due legal process by spending a mere 30,000 CAD or so of my money in community agitation, with the usual petitions and placards. (This would be over and above the petition-and-placard actions which we did mount, including our multi-thousand-signature petition to the Ontario Legislature in 2008, a copy of which was also lodged - accompanied by a properly fearsome bagpiper, and by placards - with the University of Toronto's "Simcoe Hall".) The accusation is in essence that I have been an imprudent fool. I will digress for a few paragraphs to address this reproach, since it might well echo thoughts at this point running through the minds of more than a few of my blogspot readers.

It continues to surprise me that the OMB should have turned expert witness Prof. Bolton's "cannot" into a "can" when writing its 2012 decision. Prof. Bolton, testifying under affirmation or oath, had said that light pollution cannot be subtracted from aggregate signal at the spectrograph camera without degrading the stellar signal. The OMB Chair, in her 2012 decision (a public document), wrote that according to Prof. Bolton it "can" be. For documentation on Prof. Bolton's side, one can check the court reporter's transcript, a PDF file giving his testimony word for word. -  Surely, I say in response to my critic, my surprise in 2012 was justified, and my faith in Ontario's legal system prior to 2012 (notably in 2011, when I had to decide for or against embarking on looming costly legal adventures) reasonable.

There is more (I continue, responding to my Ontario critic). I am as baffled as ever by OMB's failure to make much at all of the testimony from the light-pollution experts flown in at my heavy expense by my friends the Richmond Hill Naturalists in 2014, from Arizona and Italy. If Prof. Bolton was not good enough for OMB in 2012, might not Shore and Luginbuhl, as foreign authorities, have carried proper weight in 2014? As far as I can see, no better experts could be found at all, from whatever set of countries. My Ontario critic must concede the reasonableness of my acting thus, proceeding as I was from a general picture of Canadian legal probity that all of us in Canada have from our school days onward been encouraged to form in our heads.

And (I continue, still responding) I continue to be baffled and vexed, in what I respectfully insist is a legitimate and reasonable bafflement and vexation, by the speech our lawyer, Ms Virginia Maclean ( gave at  OMB "Summation" on 2012-09-10. She said, to audible gasps in the OMB hearing room, that her client the Richmond Hill Naturalists would be willing to concede some subdivision development at DDO&P. My repeated efforts at having her explain to me why she did this to us have so far produced no results, beyond an exchange of irritated e-mails a few years ago. (What impelled her? Pity for a client she incorrectly perceived as incompetent? Fatigue, after many days in hearings, perhaps exacerbated by some touch of some moderate virus, such as flu? Fear?) How, I ask the critic to whom I herewith respond, could any reasonable person have predicted the Virginia Maclean legal event of 2012-09-10?

It is now time for me to finish my tense little digression, summing up for the Ontario critic to whom I have been been herewith responding: (A) A reasonable observer of the Canadian legal world - a "reasonable taxpayer" of conservationist bent - might in a gloomy way have expected the aspiring subdivision developer to be awarded something by the often pro-business OMB. The developer had, after all, a high-profile legal team, and was even conjectured by some conservation-friendly analyst, in a conversation at which I think I was present, to have spent 1,000,000 CAD or so on either a part or a whole of the OMB work. (I cannot, to my regret, now recall the analyst's exact assessment, and so must therefore hedge with my "either...or".) But (B) how could any reasonable observer of the Canadian legal world have predicted that the aspiring subdivision developer would get all the streets and houses asked for, the specially odious telescope-vicinity McMansion lots included, and in addition would get a 2015 OMB award of an unpayable 100,000 CAD costs for "frivolous and vexatious" casework, made out by OMB against the Richmond Hill Naturalists? - Surely my Ontario critic will agree with me that with the December 12 passing of Ontario's Bill 139, the "Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, 2017" - in other words with the abolition of the Ontario Municipal Board - our provincial legal system has been improved, and that I have had in a sense the mere blind misfortune to come onto the scene, my chequebook unfortunately in hand, five years too early?

(2) I find myself in some ways burdened, in other ways emboldened, by an autistic-spectrum disorder. In loose diagnostic terms, outside the rigorous formalism of that North American psychiatric-assessment canon which is "DSM-V", or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in its fifth (its 2013) edition, my disorder is "Asperger Syndrome". On the credit side of the ledger, this disorder makes forensic work, as putatively required for the discharge of my two current duties in amateur public service, congenial. I find, in particular, easy role models in fiction. One such model is the autistic-seeming current BBC detective anti-hero "Sherlock", as played by Mr Benedict Cumberbatch. (Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune of being shown "Season One, Episode One", on video-playback equipment in the living room of friends.) Another such model is the autistic-seeming juvenile detective first-person narrator in Mark Haddon's 2003 mystery novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I have skimmed this work to my profit, admittedly without up to this point mustering the energy or curiosity to read it from cover to cover. 


My current public-service tasks (both of them) currently centre on peacemaking. The concept of serious peace - of, so to speak, big-initial-letter, capital-P, Peace - is subtle. Some social arrangements are in a superficial way placid, or peaceful, and yet fall short of Peace. 

The 1914-1918 European war ended with a "peace treaty" that humiliated the losing side, with disastrous consequences by 1939. 

A somewhat parallel humiliation - a peace-with-mere-small-initial-letter - has been imposed on Russia through the triumphalist 1990s winding-down of the informal, yet nevertheless brutal, Cold War. 

I am rather confident that this particular quasi-peace will not end in a disaster analogous to 1939 (unless, perhaps, the pitiful Mr Donald Trump inadvertently triggers some crisis far away from Europe, for instance in the two Koreas). For think of it this way, O Gentle Reader.  - In what I am about to propose, I am much indebted to one or two particular discussants, drawing to my notice facts I might normally overlook. 

In 1939, nation-states were insular. The Reich leaders, in particular, educated their children within the borders of their own German-speaking world. They stayed similarly close to home in their various purchases of country estates, hunting lodges, urban-townhouse pieds-à-terre, and the like. In particular, they did not to my knowledge set up Polish villas for their wives and children. 

Now, however, things have changed. The highest functionaries of the Russian state have for ten, fifteen, or twenty years been accustomed to buying real estate in the world's Mayfairs, Manhattans, and Lausannes. At a lower level, but for present analytical purposes no less important, come the military colonels and their civilian counterparts. On the civilian side, these are the sort of ladies and gentlemen who in Ontario might serve as Deputy Ministers or heads of "Ontario Hydro", with salaries well up in Ontario's "Sunshine List", in the stratospheric per-annum brackets of 200,000 CAD, or 400,00 CAD, or 600,000 CAD, or a little more.

What do such people, anxious as they inevitably are to anchor their growing financial resource in something safer than mere corporate shares, try to do? Such a comparatively comfortable Russian's sole relatively safe investment (the sterile world of precious metals aside) is real estate. And so the Pod-Polkovnik or Polkovnik in Kaliningrad or Sankt Peterburg, or his correspondingly comfortable civilian counterpart, will try to buy some property which both (a) lies safely outside Russia and (b) can be reached by private road vehicle in under 24 hours. (In a political crisis, the prospect of, say, just six hours of easy travel might help reassure wives and children in Sankt Peterburg. Outside a crisis, that six hours would make it feasible for the hypothetical Sankt Peterburg family to spend quality weekend time together, in an agreeably non-Russian setting.) 

Now there are relatively few choices. Kensington, Mayfair, Hampstead, Chelsea, Manhattan, Monaco, Lausanne, Chamonix and so forth are out of reach for persons in the income bracket under consideration here, and therefore forced to ferry family members back and forth in mere motor vehicles, as opposed to private jet aeroplanes. For such individuals, of (I repeat) real-yet-finite affluence, there remain just the Helsinki region and the Finnish southeast, Estonia's Viru and Harju Counties, and I presume some range of potentially attractive addresses somewhat south of the Estonian-Latvian frontier. Under these circumstances, how likely can Russia prove to invade at any rate Latvia, Estonia, or Finland? With what enthusiasm is the normal Pod-Polkovnik or Polkovnik, with his so-finite wealth sunk into Baltic real estate, going to direct his artillery fire westward? And how eager will the corresponding civil-service ladies and gentlemen, again of merely finite affluence, be to support the (infinitely affluent) Kremlin in its conceivably too-bold wargaming?

NATO and tis Finnish friends must, to be sure, maintain a position of vigilance. They must at all hours of day and night remind themselves that weak defences - pre-2014 Ukraine is perhaps an object lesson - will tempt the opportunistic Kremlin. Estonia's current 2-percent-of-GDP spending on defence must therefore be judged legitimate. Further, the current battalion-scale deployments of British NATO forces in Estonia, and of Canadian NATO forces in Latvia, must be judged legitimate. 

This necessary qualification regarding NATO and Finland put on the record, I reiterate, then, my relative confidence that the current quasi-peace will not end in a disaster paralleling 1939.

And yet how unsatisfactory, how far from a true reconciliation, is such a small-initial-letter peace, such a mere absence of military hostilities! We know what true reconciliation, a Peace, looks like. We have seen it, from 1950s Monnet and Adenauer onward, with France and Germany. 


Real capital-P Peace, whether in Europe as just now discussed or in my own limited spheres of attempted amateur public service (my real topic this week) cuts deep. Real Peace, in however large or minuscule a domain, has to be built up with all the intellectual and technical resources at our disposal. The construction of Peace takes the same fierce think-tank and desk-analyst concentration that the more warlike among us might instead be inclined to accord to problems in (say) Partisan Resistance, in Maritime Covering Shore-Based Defensive Artillery Barrage, in "Cyber", or in countersurveillance. 

In the widest international domain, such tools of Peace are readily discerned. 

In Ottawa, there is that big building housing much of Canada's foreign ministry, perhaps currently under the styling "Global Affairs Canada/Affaires mondiales Canada". If I am right, this is the building at 125 Sussex Drive, into whose lobby I think I stepped in 2006. If my recall from 2006 is accurate, the lobby housed Mr Lester Bowles Pearson's Nobel Peace Prize medal, awarded for his constructive role in the 1956 Suez Crisis, during Mr Pearson's correct diplomatic distancing of cautious Ottawa from the temporarily bellicose London. 

In Tallinn, there is the Estonian School of Diplomacy (with English-language Web outreach at

My own question thus becomes the following: What can I in a think-tank spirit do to promote confidence-building and reconciliation, in other words big-P Peace, in my twin current DDO&P and Russian-organs files?


Some scenario-building will help readers see the context in which I must work, within my particular small sphere.

On DDO&P, to begin with, there are some scenarios of personal danger or discomfort. In listing these, I proceed downward from the most lurid and least plausible to the least lurid and most plausible:

(A) Someone, fed up with my 2007-through-2017 work on the DDO&P conservation case, may finally decide to arrange my exit.

I have been told of a case in the late, unlamented, Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic in which a divorce or marital separation got messy. Mr and Mrs Z____ had a child. Mr Z___, who although serving just in a minor posting in the external Soviet diplomatic service did allegedly have his contacts, was allegedly able to arrange a car accident. The accident allegedly liquidated his child, thereby securing successful redress for a perceived grievance against his estranged marital partner. The source of these various allegations to me was "Mrs Z___", in face-to-face or video-link conversation. Her face harboured, in my confident judgement, something not capable of being faked - the mouth and eyes, namely, of a person traumatized, as one might these days get traumatized in Syria.

My own superficial acquaintance with Canadian crime is almost entirely derived from newspapers. I have met just one deeply disturbed person, begging in the street, who has gone so far as to claim to me to have killed. His manner was bad enough to give his story something better than zero plausibility, while all the same rendering it less than (say) 70-percent probable. He did, ever so nicely, invite me over to his place to meet his girlfriend. This invitation was in my respectful snap-judgement best declined.

Criminal Number Two, a client of a church food-and-clothing service where I was briefly volunteering in some small capacity, averred to me that he had embezzled from a college credit union while still a college professor. He seemed chillingly impervious to my own attempts at explaining the moral dimension of his confessed act. Far from listening to my reasonable, and not stridently communicated, standpoint, he expressed to me his satisfaction over his comparatively light treatment by the Crown.

I have additionally been in the public seats at the 2016-03-29 sentencing of Marco M. Muzzo, in a drunk-driving case I have previously discussed on this blog. (Mr Muzzo had returned in a private jet from a stag party in Miami, inebriated when he climbed into his vehicle at Pearson International. Somewhat north of Pearson, in the City of Vaughan, he killed three children and their grandfather, reportedly by not stopping that Jeep Cherokee correctly at an intersection. - I have already in one or more previous postings here remarked that the young Marco is tangentially related to my own DDO&P conservation file, being the paternal nephew of a sometime (perhaps also a present) director, Mr Marc A. Muzzo, in the pertinent subdivision-development firm "Corsica Development Inc." That firm in turn has formal or strong informal ties to a De Gasperis corporate mother vessel, the "Metrus" which on 2014-04-15 announced its renaming as "DG Group".)

On the superficial course of Canadian criminological study here summarized, I find no indication that staged car accidents are at all common in Canada.

A different modus operandi would be the staged suicide - as familiar in a hyped-up, grotesque, yet brilliantly acted way from "Season One, Episode One" in the BBC series Sherlock. Well, how, then, would be BBC-esque exit be achieved? If I were found dangling from a rope at the DDO main telescope dome, or dead from ingested Warfarin somewhere in the remnant portion of the DDO woods, the authorities would be well advised to raise their suspicions. Such prospective means are not my personal style.

If, on the other hand, I were to be found dead of exposure, somewhere in the DDO forest remnant, with my wrists slit, this would be taken by the Crown in a significantly more cheerful spirit. My thoughts have in the now-distant past turned on the opening of vessels, as I presume the Crown might eventually ascertain from 1974 Nova Scotian medical documentation.

But here again, the risks for the would-be assassin prove on consideration high - all the more so because I have herewith written my fears out, in black and white, in my general spirit of helpfulness-to-Crown. Philip, dear, Dr Karmo, in Upper Canada, does tend to be rather helpful, doesn't he? - If you say so, Liz... - PHILIP! You DO remember Upper Canada? 

(B) Someone, fed up with my decade of work since 2007 on the DDO&P conservation case, may decide to rough me up, perhaps just to the point of contusions and abraded skin. This, too, carries gigantic risks for whatever perpetrators might hypothetically be lurking.

I do here have to remark on a steady low-grade fear. It is a kind of persistent mental picture which I hope never proves prophetic. In the picture, or intrusive mental image, there are perhaps a couple of assailants, not just one. Their tools of choice, as I sometimes picture them, might possibly be wooden sticks or clubs, such as baseball bats or two-by-fours. Much attention is directed to the cranium. ("Sometimes, Tom, we just have to hit you over the head with a baseball bat," said a difficult friend of conservation -  a person other than the critic to whom I reply early on in this essay - in exasperation with what he thought was my own misconceived work on the case around 2009. But if anyone wields a baseball bat, it is unlikely ever to be that particular difficult friend.)

I suppose such a roughing-up, by hostile elements altogether unknown to me, would be consistent with the most significant piece of violence in our current case, namely sabotage of vehicle tyres, through a driving of nails-or-similar with the type of pneumatic device used for driving nails-or-similar on construction sites, quite a few years ago. The victim, yet another conservationist friend, in my private and subjective view ought to have filed a police report. She possesses, however (I do not write, "is cursed by", and neither do I write "is blessed by") a somewhat easygoing, quiet temperament. This is what I think led ultimately to her dropping her affair, with therefore no pertinent York Regional Police report going on file.

(C) I get framed. Something bad happens, perhaps at DDO&P, at some carefully selected time at which the frame-artists know I cannot easily establish an alibi. (Does something catch fire, with an anonymous "tip" then conveyed to "Crime Stoppers of York Region" via some such Web resource as I recall the incident reported by journalist Adam Miller under the heading "Jeep driven by Marco Muzzo in fatal Vaughan crash caught fire in police custody", uploaded to the Global News server at the URL  When I joined the crime reporters queuing outside the Newmarket (Ontario) courtroom on that bleak Tuesday morning which was 2016-03-29, their talk was centred on speculative scenarios of arson by Muzzo family members-or-friends. I, however, have had the advantage of minor Soviet case work, touching Gulag matters in the mid or late 1980s, and therefore tend to think more laterally than Toronto crime reporters naturally might. If it was arson, as opposed to mere spontaneous combustion, the arsonist might even have been, for all I and the others in our shared ignorance can now say, some Muzzo family opponent, out to frame the Muzzos.)

(D) Someone brings a fresh lawsuit, under the general inspiration of the proceeding launched against me in 2014 by the DDO&P subdivision supporter Mrs (as of later that year, Ward Councillor) Karen Cilevitz, and chronicled by me at and

But even this, the most plausible of my various scenarios, is none too plausible. For who would bring the envisaged suit? Karen is not herself a moral monster. (In the past, strident, yes. And in the past, the cruel betrayer of the Richmond Hill Naturalists, as made clear to me by all the relevant - and sorely affronted - parties. In both the written historical record and the tacit, unwritten, present, she is a friend of the DDO&P originally-520-odd-unit subdivision. (Now, in light of a fresh 2017 rezoning bylaw, this has morphed into a subdivision with something like 570 or 580 prospective units, as granny flats get added over garages.)  But a monster? No. DDO&P is no television soap opera.)

My guess is that Karen is now striving to do good, mindful of her record. My guess is consequently that she now sees as clearly as I the inappropriateness of attempting a suit against a community activist - let alone a suit in whose context a court injunction is sought, as in her 2014 papers, trying to bar the said targeted activist from door-to-door political canvassing, under the legally novel-seeming argument that such canvassing might cause her, the complainant-and-prospective-plaintiff, to lose a municipal election. "Being caused to loose at the polls" is not, on normal tort-law thinking, likely in and of itself to constitute an injury.

Indeed my guess is that Karen can now, having absorbed appropriate lessons from the past, take some of the credit for the happy resolution of the 2017 DDO-public-tours  question. The Town on whose Council she sits, and whose DDO "Steering Committee" she helps guide,  has in 2017 correctly decided to accord permission for the conducting of future telescope tours not to one grouping but to two (who will, their unhappy mutual past relations notwithstanding, now be working jointly, in a true big-initial-letter Peace). And, as is again correct, the Town which Karen helps govern decided this year to accord permission for the conducting of public outreach in the various DDO laboratory-cum-workshop spaces to a third appropriate grouping, the citizen-engineering "YLab" (aspiring to operations in the tried-and-true spirit of Kitchener's Kwartzlab and Toronto's Hacklab).

With Karen and the possibility of litigation I go further still: her self-denying, self-abnegating, draining experience of serving in the thankless position of Ward Councillor, over the past 36 months - constantly on call, I imagine even into the night; constantly on tenterhooks; even her weekends often ruined - is liable now to have mellowed her. Our Council, at any rate judging by its DDO&P performance, is not likely to get the Nobel Prize for Excellence in Municipal Decision-Making any time soon. Nevertheless, there are several people on Council who can guide Karen, in her role of a political neophyte lacking university degree or extended middle-management work record, and in high probability have guided her.

We judge Councillors not by such nebulous things as "charisma" and "personality", or even by the nebulous "personal work ethic". Rather, we judge them by the professional skills they bring to Council's mind-numbingly intricate affairs. One or two people on Council, Karen aside, I pretty much know to be lightweight, so far as education and workplace experience go, and one or two I have not investigated properly. That leaves, however, four Councillors who in high probability will by now have had some beneficent influence on Karen.

(i) Regional and Local Councillor Mrs Brenda Hogg has the  advantage of a degree in social work, and has somewhat to her honour rebuked me once, a little before a public meeting, in harsh private terms. (This redounds somewhat to her honour, in that it shows her ready to defend a political friend against perceived ungallantry - innocent of ungallantry though I myself in fact am. Due allowance must be made for understandable imprecisions or misperceptions on the part of the heavily burdened Councillor Hogg, who in all fairness cannot be expected to remember every tale, drop in on every palaver, and master every nuance.)

(ii) Ward Councillor Mr Godwin Chan has the advantage not only of being a lawyer (this, in itself, is not quite enough for distinction in Council) but of experience in pertinently heavy public legal service. He has, namely, served on the team of Ontario's Attorney General. That he for a time combined Council duties with Attorney General-team duties reflects not to his discredit but, at least broadly speaking, to his credit. In legal terms, to serve as a Ward Councillor is to take up a mere part-time appointment (although one with high financial compensation - already some years ago, I think around 76,000  CAD per annum). It takes a good manager to combine duties in these two positions, with even their significant geographical separation. Queen's Park, where typical "AG" things might be imagined to happen, is roughly twenty kilometres distant from our Town offices. Public transit is not ideal. Driving, for instance up and down the Don Valley Parkway, can be hard. I have never, in all my observations of our Council Chamber at work, seen anything to suggest that Councillor Chan has been anything but diligent in performing his Town duties. I recall, happily, no blatant texting while someone else is speaking, no egregious absences from the Chamber - nothing of that unhappy kind.

(iii) Regional and Local Councillor Mr Vito Spatifora has the specially strong advantage of a degree involving urban planning. This, on Council, potentially counts for more than almost any other form of professional development.

(iv) My own Ward Councillor, Mr Tom Muench, I regard with some mild apprehension, since I have found myself disagreeing repeatedly with points he has made in our Chamber, at any rate when I have gone in there, of course just sitting in our humble public seats. I must not allow emotions to get in the way, warm-and-fuzzy though I felt a few days ago upon receiving his delightful electronic Christmas card. I have not voted for Ward Councillor Muench in the past. In the event that I vote municipally in 2018 (but I might already be in Estonia, come the October polling), I shall have to consider my vote very carefully, perhaps for once actually not telling anyone how I decided. All the same, Ward Councillor Muench does bring a skill to the table. I see from at least one of our rare, and yet helpfully lengthy, conversations that he can interpret a balance sheet, probing the numbers. Folks, I gather from Ward Councillor Muench that the Town of Richmond Hill may be in a financial squeeze by 2019 or so, its rather solid historical balance sheets notwithstanding. If you have a chance, sound out some trained analyst. A management accountant - a KPMG or Grant Thornton high-flier, as opposed to a mere conventional preparer of income tax returns - might be a good bet. So might Ward Councillor Muench.

Karen aside, I suffer a nagging, potentially depression-triggering, fear of litigation from a different quarter. Corsica Development Inc. was merciless in reproaching my friends the Richmond Hill Naturalists at OMB. The Corsica counsel, Mr David Bronskill, considered our 2012 and 2014 efforts "frivolous and vexatious", and went so far in 2015 as to speak of ideological motivation. (This was wrong. People acting from philosophical conviction, in other words from strongly held values, are not in virtue of that sole fact ideologues. Who are textbook examples of ideologues? Bolsheviks V.I. "Lenin" (this was V.I. Ulyanov's operational name) and "Leon Trotsky" (born L.D. Bronstein) count, environmentalists Dr David Suzuki and Julia Butterfly Hill not. Is the suggestion somehow that my friends stood closer to "Trotsky" than to Ms Hill?) Mr Bronskill sought an award of 200,000 CAD in costs against the Naturalists, an unpayable 100,000 CAD of which was in the grotesque event awarded - thereby, I privately and subjectively speculate, scaring other conservationist organizations across Ontario.

There is more on the Corsica side. Somehow, in 2008-2012-era proceedings which I have not dared to probe, the residents of properties abutting the southern edge of DDO&P - individuals favourable to conservation, hostile to the then-already-looming subdivision - incurred Corsica's legal wrath. I vaguely gather that residents had made some claims about ill-defined property boundary lines, or something of this kind. I heard in an informal way that there had been some kind of legal proceeding from Corsica, with vast damages threatened (damages into, as it might be, six or seven figures). I formed the further impression that this got settled out of court, somehow. The only public trace of all this that came to my notice was a brief reference to a threatened suit or suits, or to something similar, by some or all of the affected residents, at the multi-day 2012 Ontario Municipal Board hearing. The Board heard their brief submission on one day, "Day X", and indicated that they would be allowed to speak on some particular subsequent day, "Day Y". When "Day Y" came round, there was to the best of my recollection and observation nothing out of them - not the most frightened little squeak, not the most courteous little peep.

So could Corsica sue me? Their management team has already been warned by some elected person (this elected person has confided in me, after issuing my opponents his warning) in one of our various levels of government - perhaps at a junior level - that were they to do this, it would reflect badly on them, affecting what might in an informal way be termed their diplomatic standing. To my opponent Corsica's credit, nothing has happened. If something were to happen, I would have to represent myself with at most the assistance of some duty counsel, in the now-terrifying courtroom. I would, as I imagine it, be blogging furiously in the lead-in to the court case, in the hope that if I broke down in the courtroom from stress and terror, the duty counsel, or other pertinent court officer, could ask my blog to be entered as evidence.

I am thinking that the Corsica suit is not likely to happen. As Karen is not a monster, neither are the Muzzo and DeGasperis families. (Monsters, no. Insensitive, yes - as we can see from their proposal to name the west wing of the new Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital the De Gasperis-Muzzo Tower. They sustained their proposal in the teeth of publicly stated opposition from the Vaughan family which was the victim of Marco M. Muzzo's inebriated driving. Some details of the philanthropy undergirding their tower are given at (with also a reference to previous Muzzo family philanthropy; the De Gasperises have been correspondingly generous philanthropists in the past, as can be ascertained from Google, although admittedly not from the just-mentioned newspaper article). The fact that both families have in their public actions or statements been philanthropic, even if insensitively so, perhaps helps diminish the probability of a lawsuit. So does their visibly Catholic stance at some points in the past - local people will note De Gasperis donations toward the construction of a new church in the western Greater Toronto Area, and the courtroom avowal that long-fatherless Marco M. Muzzo has been getting appropriate counselling from a priest.) 


So much, then, for my personal fears in relation to DDO&P. It will be appreciated that although all of these weigh on the mind (how can one not be depressed, part of the time?), none of these is in any high degree realistic. I turn next to two personal fears in relation to FSB, SVR, and cognate agencies. Here again, I shall be suggesting that my fears, depression-inducing though they are, do not attain a significant level of realism.

(A) Physical dealings, involving murder (as in the above-cited alleged vehicle "accident"), assault, or abduction? No. The classic physical approach is surely too expensive to arrange outside Russia, except in special circumstances.

(B) The "Offer"? This, I do admit, is better than murder-assault-abduction. I would not be surprised if it got used in the Cold War against some hapless victim or other in the Estonian diaspora. Admittedly, I do not here write from anything like direct personal experience, or even from meaningfully concrete reading: You, as an officer in the Organs, liaise in a friendly way with your target, X__, who holds dual Canadian and Estonian citizenship (and so, under USSR law, holds Soviet citizenship - whether he fancies it or not, whether he even knows it or not). In due course, after twenty-four months of liaison in innocent little Toronto film nights, or in innocent little cafés, you make X__ the Offer. In exchange for writing a nice 800-word feelgood opinion piece for some minor publication in occupied Estonia, your target X__ gets expedited treatment on his next tourist visit "Back Home". X__ is perhaps allotted a day on a folklore-intense island, lying within the normally forbidden "Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic border zone", or piiritsoon. His article is of little significance. His visit to normally-off-limits Kihnu Island (or whatever), although involving heavy paperwork, is laughably devoid of concrete operational (i.e., of concrete military) significance. What is important is just one thing. X__ now becomes discredited in diaspora political circles. As an officer in the Organs, you taint X__ only gently, confining yourself to just the lightest of brush strokes. You do it by having someone pay a delicate compliment, in some appropriate ESSR magazine known to be monitored by the diaspora, along the following lines: "We continue to note an improvement in cultural relations with the diaspora. In June, we had the honour of a visit from emerging Toronto English-and-Estonian poet Dr X__, for whom we proved able to supply documents facilitating a day trip to Kihnu." With his charming car-with-driver-and-sea-ferry jaunt briefly noted in the Soviet-Estonian press, the hapless Dr X__ can now forget about being elected to the Toronto team of the "Estonian Cetnral Council in Canada", or even to being welcomed as an Estonian-Independence-Day speaker at the various relevant Canadian podia. Dr X__, in other words, is now in diaspora terms an unperson. He had been something of an emerging cultural hope, in a Toronto-centred diaspora desperate for young people able to pick up freedom's torch from now-failing elderly, pre-1939, hands. And you, as the architect of the quiet little Kihnu jaunt, may be in line for a promotion. 

But in my case, what could the "Offer" consist in? I have already made it clear to FSB or SVR through this blog that I have a horror, grounded in abundant (for the most part in Canadian) personal experience, reaching right back to the late 1950s, of television. So a nice appearance in somebody's "Sputnik" or "RT" studio, as a "well-informed diaspora-Estonian analyst of North American social failures, now leaving Canada for the more congenial surroundings of his ancestral Estonia", will not happen.

I used to fear, I suppose, that I could get an Offer to visit some specially noteworthy Russian antiquities, say in the Volga-river town of Uglich, in exchange for some brief feelgood journalism. But even this now seems to me a non-starter. In just the last few days, I have had a chat - so much can be done with Skype or other video technologies, or with the gmail phone system, or with personal meetings in one's parlour or at Tim Horton's, or with you-name-it - involving an émigré or émigrée, say "Madame Blavatsky". "Madame B" would seem to have permanently crushed my appetite for Russian travel, no matter how mouthwatering the prospective antiquities might seem. "Madame B" had for me a tale of fleeing from corrupt police, either in Russia or just outside Russia, hair-raising in its squalid details. These involved a phone tip in the night, and a panicked ride to an unobtrusive station or whistle-stop, followed by the boarding of a specially long-distance bus or train - all the usual le Carré or Clancey, except that now it was for real. - Antiquities, perhaps if one can manage to save up, somehow, for some small trip out of Estonia? Well, sure: but from Estonia, one could learn just as much by visiting some Lithuanian monastery, or some Polish cathedral, or even (depending, I admit, on the price of the long-haul bus ticket) Prague.

Russia must be studied indeed. It can, however, be studied in the time-honoured way, by reading its novelists. Personal visits - the wind is in one's face as venerable monastery gates loom; the cobblestones prove firm underfoot; the birches rustle, yellowing in the already-cool September, as in every September since before the Mongol invasion - now seem Just Not Worth the Trouble.


This exercise in scenario-building will serve as a full and detailed disclosure of my personal operational fears, however far-fetched. It is good for me to vent on this blog systematically, now and again, so that all my conceivable blog readers (especially those who might be feeling less than friendly, even in this holy Advent season) do know what from an operational standpoint needs to be known.

3. Toward Healing and Peace in Ontario's DDO&P Heritage-Conservation File

As of this November or December, our local file is, yet again, and now for the umpteenth time, in crisis. I remarked above, in sketching background, that poor Karen might well now have mellowed, that she might indeed well have played a recent constructive role. Our new crisis does not pertain in any obviously direct way to her. It concerns, rather, something unexpected - the destruction, I suspect by (but I have to check this) the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), of trees and shrubbery. What is now, so unexpectedly,  lost are trees and shrubbery in our significantly lauded (that is to say, our significantly ballyhooed) narrow little wildlife corridor.

Under the malign Ontario Municipal Board 2012 Minutes of Settlement, which many correctly did their best to fight, a heritage wetland, near the developer's offensive new sump, or "Stormwater Management Pond", is to be conserved. To allow any surviving deer and coyotes, and any relevant surviving small mammals, to slake their thirst, a narrow (I would myself say, a pathetically narrow) woodland corridor is envisaged by the Minutes of Settlement, linking the wetland beside the new sump with the bulk of the conserved forest.

But as of this late autumn, the corridor vegetation is partially, largely, or entirely gone. I am reliably told that there are now 33 small stumps, where once there were modest trees. In addition, buckthorn - I do concede, to the enemies of greenspace, that this shrub species is invasive - has been taken down. If I am reliably briefed, then the buckthorn can only be eradicated for good by an aggressive herbicide, applied in the vicinity of the roots several times over several years. And this herbicide would be applied in places just a stone's throw, or less, away from the ancient wetland. I speculate that an infiltration of herbicide into its muck and water would be its most radical disturbance since the retreat of the glaciers. (Surely the First Nations did little to disturb the wetland, in the perhaps ten millennia of their tenancy. Around the time of Napoleon, a family ironically called "Marsh" began farming at DDO&P, until the Depression-area arrival of the Observatory as a University of Toronto facility. But I have found nothing to indicate that they tried do anything with the wetland. I have encountered in the various archives no record of relevant Marsh-family ditching at the wetland, or of relevant Marsh-family pond excavation.)

What is going on here?

The Town of Richmond Hill Parks and Recreation authority is said to have told Ward Councillor Mr Godwin Chan that letters of explanation went out to all residents with properties abutting the newly assaulted wildlife corridor, on 2017-11-06, in an effort to allay their presumed concerns. And yet I know of three residents who received no such letter, and I know of none who did receive it. In 2018, I shall have to start the usual Freedom-of-Information paperwork, in an effort to learn who has and who has not been truthful. Until the paperwork is in hand, I cannot in propriety make specific allegations of mendacity.

In addition, I shall have to consider a central legal question: have the 2012 Ontario Municipal Board Minutes of Settlement, establishing that corridor, themselves now been breached - perhaps by TRCA, as a Settlement signatory party?

One step toward healing and Peace here might be a kindly elucidatory communication from Karen to me, perhaps through my interface right here on the servers. From a civil-settlement standpoint, it suffices for me to indicate that any permission sought for communication with me would, now as at all previous times in our mutual out-of-court settlement work, be instantly granted from my desk. In making this comment, I perform (or rather, in essence I now repeat) a legally correct outreach to Karen, without in any way commenting on the terms of our out-of-court settlement. The terms are available at I do not herewith call those terms petulant, childish, and altogether a textbook illustration of the futility of defamation proceedings; I do not herewith call those terms judicious, Solomonic, a model for all to follow as we do our joint best to strengthen the perhaps-already-formidable traditions of our Ontario bar; I do not herewith praise those settlement terms for some perceived deep originality, or herewith condemn those settlement terms as (say) a shameless plagiarization from Dante Gabriel Rosetti, or from Isaac Asimov; I do not herewith laud their perceived Ciceronian stylistic elegance, and neither do I herewith damn them as soporific: no, I make herewith not the slightest comment at all, on any of those out-of-court settlement terms, available at


There is a further reason for concern at DDO&P. I am reliably informed not only of the 33 slender tree trunks and the felled buckthorn, but of a doe and three six-month fawns in the remaining 45 of the original DDO&P 77 greenspace hectares. Where half a year ago three fawns were born, there must in the past rutting season also have been at least one buck. So despite everything, some deer have managed to hang on.

At a certain point last week I had a four-minute conversation from my cellular phone, 647-267-9566, with the York Regional Police, through their standard switchboard number 905-881-1221. (I incline to think that 905-881-1221 rings right here in Richmond Hill, at some PABX within 171 Major MacKenzie Drive West.) The call was quickly routed by the duty telephonist to Officer 5463. "Badge 5463" was a female, working in Dispatch. I reported to Badge 5463 certain suspicions I had regarding the wrecked 32 subdivision hectares, involving the movement at a certain time of day of certain vehicles (not, or at least not all of them, motorcars). Some of the circumstances, as I explained to Badge 5463, were to me suggestive of a conceivable attempt at moving unnoticed. My argument was that if, as a subdivision developer, you have legitimate work on your terrain, you are not liable to enter it at that particular Witching Hour.

I managed to state to 5463 - I do hope with sufficient emphasis - that we must be alert to the possibility, whether now or in future, of a deer slaughter. Deer are something of a nuisance to subdivision developers. More generally, the hunting instinct runs strong in various humans, whether within the construction industry or outside it. I was reminded of this fact of human psychology before the 2008 DDO&P sale, when employed at DDO by the University of Toronto, and when consequently helping in a quasi-formal capacity with security. My remit included forest security. (When I was employed, security was formally and officially in the hands of the University of Toronto Police. But Telescope Operators, like me, were expected to be alert to the rather frequent security anomalies, such as after-hours woodlands trespass, and not to hesitate in making incident reports.)

In my native Nova Scotia, deer offences traditionally include "jacking", with flashlight, and I think with gun or rifle. I have witnessed at least one such putative offence from a distance of perhaps 200 or 500 metres, in 1977 or so, when on overnight guard duty at Halifax Country blueberry fields.

In urban Ontario, I have not heard of "jacking", but have heard in an anecdotal way of archery, I think in urban Ontario from time to time attempted with crossbow. The crossbow would certainly make sense: if we are criminals, then let us by all means resort to archery, confident (perhaps under cover of night) in the silence which such a deliciously mediaeval technology secures for us. Admittedly, a preliminary citizen arrest, with the discovering and photographing of a crossbow in the offending pickup truck (or whatever), would lead HM the Q to a vigorous line of interrogation, at least once her YRP agents reached the scene.

All I can now do is ensure that a number of us are duly vigilant, especially long after sunset - including, I would say, in that stretch of the night which shortly precedes sunrise - and most especially in that universal time-of-crime which is Christmas. However grim is the current loss of "wildlife corridor" vegetation, it does at least now secure dramatic north-south lines of sight, in some places altogether traversing the onetime 77-hectare DDO&P. Hillsview Drive suggests itself as one vantage point, among several, suitable for citizen vigilance.

My various relevant readers should be reminded herewith: we try not to use 911 for this type of thing; we dial, rather, a general York Regional Police PABX at 905-881-1221; and we do so mindful that we can be connected very quickly indeed with a pertinent officer once we indicate to the duty telephonist our desire to consult "Dispatch". In any conceivable Yuletide case work, it would not at all hurt for any conceivable vigilant citizen to cite the 4-minute conversation conducted last week, via  905-881-1221, betwen "Dr Toomas Karmo, of 406 Centre Street East" and, within Dispatch, "Badge 5463".


Finally under the troubling head of current DDO&P, I return to a recent blogging topic, the Big Mortgage. Is all well here, or must we now be vigilant against the possibility of corporate crime? Since, as I will explain in a moment, I have my fumbling, purely amateur, reaons for suspicion, I document everything. Proceeding with due regard to my responsibilities as a citizen stumbling across things that might eventually prove police-significant, I use the servers now, and use e-mail later this week, to draw the documentation I herewith create to the attention of the three relevant levels of policing:
  • to the York Regional Police (their normal remit is municipal nuts-and-bolts, such as break-and-enter, or again domestic violence; so they are the first port of call in DDO&P matters);
  • to the Ontario Provincial Police (their normal remit includes cases concerning provincial roads; I do not know at what exact point the YRP remit ends and theirs begins);
  • to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who I believe have a special interest in 'Ndràngheta.
Here, then, is my documentation:
  • What I am calling the Big Mortgage was taken out from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), as a loan for 135,000,000 CAD to Corsica Development Inc. The Debenture is to be viewed in the Land Registry as instrument  YR2601618. It was registered, in association with the Property Identification Number ("PIN") 03144-0876, on the Friday which was 2016-12-23 at "11:13" (this must mean "EST"), making the UTC instant of registration 20161223T1613Z). In "Schedule A" of this instrument is a reference to "Demand Debenture dated December 21, 2016".
  • There is, as far as I can understand from the paperwork, no schedule of repayment to CIBC. CIBC can for its part demand immediate repayment of the principal, I think in full, at any time. 
  • The interest rate on the loan may or may not make sense.  Having tried to consult with around four potentially knowledgeable individuals so far, I am left puzzled.  The rate is 21 percent - in other words far more than what one might encounter in what I gather to be ordinary small-business practice.  A real-estate expert, whom I shall call "Signora Abruzzo", and who has the advantage of having recently been one of Canada's more eminent realtors, offers me the non-lawyerly opinion that this rate is legal, although (says "Signora") a bit on the high side. "Signora" adds, in what seemed to me reasonable when we were exchanging our e-mails, that Corsica would be expected to pay high interest.  On this forensic detail "Signora's" argument was that Corsica as a corporation (whatever, I would add, the private affluence of its directors) holds no relevant assets beyond its 32 development-zoned hectares.
  • On the other side of the debate, however, stands another person, "Monsieur Flippingue", who has been near some real-estate operations without herself or himself doing the actual flipping. "Monsieur Flippingue" calls my attention to the odd timing. Why, s/he asks, is the loan taken out in December at all (let alone on the very last business days before Christmas), when the various construction trades seek payment for their labour and materials later - namely, when the weather is warming up? Why have a loan on the books so early, in a dormant season, when the said loan is so expensive?  Monsieur Flippingue additionally argues for me that an expensive CIBC loan does not make terribly good sense, when Corsica is anchored in a presumably dense network of family-friendly contacts. If, asks "Monsieur", money has to be put up, then why can it not be put up from somewhere within those two family empires, at some more advantageous rate?  (I do from the Web know the combined DeGasperis-and-Muzzo wealth to be on at least the order of 2,000,000,000 CAD or 3,000,000,000 CAD. This - to recall lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson's remark in the context of a squalid brewery civil-law case - is "wealth beyond the wildest dreams of avarice".)
I must at this point allay the possible fury of the Corsica Development Inc. legal team, notably including Mr David Bronskill, and indeed offer Mr Bronskill the opportunity to deepen our municipal big-P Peace. In, as the police perhaps say, "an abundance of caution", I propose to alert him via e-mail later this week to this present blog posting. I am proposing to ask him to notify me by the evening of the Friday which is 2018-01-05 if I have strayed into some putative tort, for instance into some putative tort of defamation, whether against the DeGasperises, against the Muzzos, or against that DeGasperis-Muzzo creation which has in legal formality been (and I am conjecturing still is) Mr Bronskill's client, Corsica. I propose to take it that if I do not hear from Mr Bronskill by the evening of 2018-01-05, either in the style "Yes, danger of tort, because..." or in the style "No answer for you yet, since my group needs more time to consider...", then I am off the legal hook. It is most helpful to have such an assurance if you are, like me, too poor to be able to justify spending money retaining your own lawyer.

But more importantly, I propose to suggest to Mr Bronskill that he write me a pleasant, reasonably friendly, letter, helping to reduce present tensions, and so to build our occasionally elusive Peace. Here is a possible model. I offer it not as a model of saintly good temper, but as the kind of thing that would be humanly attainable, and therefore would be reasonable. The Peace project has to take people more or less as they are, and not as we in some wild Catholic fantasy of sanctity might wish them to be. Although my model blogspot comment, or template-for-a-blogspot-comment, communicates a degree of irritation, it does succeed in staying safely within the bounds of propriety:

Dear Dr Tom Karmo:

Thank you for alerting me to your blog posting.

You will perhaps allow me to remark that I find your style and approach somewhat unusual.  But I realize that you lack training in law and that you have almost no relevant legal experience.

I realize, in light of the blog rules which you posted at the servers in 2016 April, that I can respond in either of two ways - either (1) by sending you private e-mail, which you may then elect to publish or not, and may elect to redact if you do elect to publish; or (2) by commenting with the normal blogspot blog-comment interface, secure in the assurance that you shall post my material unaltered provided I supply, in the body of my blog comment, my name, my municipality and nation of residence, and one of my current functioning e-mail addresses.

After thinking about this for a couple of days, and conferring with my client, I have chosen option (2). I am accordingly using your blogspot blog-comment interface.

My name is David Bronskill. I am resident in the municipality of xxxxxx, in Canada. One of my functioning e-mail addresses is - This is the information you require of your commenters, in your remarkably restrictive 2016 April blogging rules.

It is possible that you do not understand the commercial world fully. I must draw your attention to the fact that xxxxxx and that xxxxxx. Further, xxx and xxxxxxxxxx. In Ontario, it is additionally quite normal to xxxxx, and to xxxxxxx, as you can verify for yourself upon continuing your researches.

You ask why the mortgage was taken out at the very end of the 2016 December. Here is the explanation you desire: A subdivision developer is in normal circumstances forced to xxxxx, because xxxxx and xxxxxxxx. So it is normal enough to xxxxxx, especially in December (which does, after all, typically constitute the end of an income-tax year).

If you need confirmation of this point, then I would recommend you have a look at the xxxxxx subdivision, in the City of xxxxxxxxx, with mortgage registered in xxxxxxxxx around 2015-12-22. You might also examine the xxxxx subdivision, Town of xxxx, with mortgage registered in xxxxxxx on 2016-12-20.

If further assurances are desired, especially in relation to corporate taxation, do please feel free to ring my assistant xxxxxx on 416-xxx-xxxx and ask him to supply you with references to xxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxxx.


David Bronksill

To this I would have to upload a follow-up blog comment, along the following Peace-making lines:

Dear Mr David Bronskill,

Thank you for your vigorously argued and informative blog work, as a comment submitted to my in response to my end-of-December essay headed "As Christmas of 2017 Approaches".  I agree with you that xxxxx is xxx and xxxx is xxx, and further that xxxxx is generally xxxxxx. Without having time, or perhaps even ability, to delve into corporate tax law, I note that you seem to me, in my own position as a rank layman, to be right in additionally suggesting that from a taxation standpoint xxxxx.

It therefore now looks to me as though my suspicions were ill-founded. Please accept my apologies to you and Corsica.

extending to you and your family
a happy continuation of the
"Twelve Days of Christmas",

Toomas (Tom) Karmo

I think I have here hit just the right notes, with the right alternation of pianissimos and più pianos and mezzo fortes. But I do add, in an effort to entertain bystanders (such as my so-innocent USA readers, should any of them be wandering into this week's dreary DDO&P material), that if we want to tickle the ivories in a more Liberace spirit, the following hypothetical exchange, with its fortissimos and glissandos, would still be acceptable. I am modelling my language on what I have learned from irritated others at the Bar - Ms Virginia Maclean, in our unhappy exchanges, and the now-retired Ms Daphne Williamson (she had represented Karen Cilevitz's team in the 2011-and-2012 OMB Settlement mediations, and threatened to sue me when I pointed out that she had claimed "learning disability" a decade or two ago at Dalhousie Law School, and seems to have handled only one OMB case prior to taking DDO), and Karen's lawyer Mr Jason Cherniak (the aspiring, but in the event unsuccessful, Liberal Party federal candidate; this is not the eminent Mr Lloyd Cherniak, who has been practicing property law for Oak Ridges Moraine developer Lebovic, but is rather the son of Lloyd). These various pieces of unhappy legal correspondence give me a measure of practical training in what members of the Bar can legitimately allow themselves, when they are feeling the need to vent.

In particular, the language I am proposing for Mr Bronskill, although not quite dignified, would not in and of itself induce me to file a complaint against him at the Law Society, via the complaint-against-lawyer online form. 

"Feisty" is the journalistic euphemism for the language I am about to offer. It is one of those useful terms, like "modest" for "in poverty", and perhaps "snug" for "cramped", and I rather suspect "passed away suddenly" for you-know-what. - I briefly illustrate what I take to be the journalistic application of "feisty", "snug", and "modest" by showing what I might fancifully hope to see some day in some colour-illustrated full-pager in some Saturday or Sunday Toronto Star: Tom Karmo, perched in his snug book-lined parlour in his modest (and evidently much-loved) forest-green army jacket, pours out our tea while recalling a recent feisty exchange with Corsica lawyer David Bronskill: "Well,, I really think he got the tax-law and financial facts right. Of course it was hard for me to do a lot of checking, because that takes time and money /.../"

Liberace, then:

Mr Karmo:

Thanks for alerting me to your blog posting.

You will allow me to complain that I find your style as eccentric as anything any of us within the big team here at Goodmans LLP, here on Bay Street, are liable to encounter, ever.

I do realize, in light of the blog rules which you posted at the servers in 2016 April, that I can respond in either ot two ways - either (1) by sending you private e-mail, which you may then elect to publish or not, and may elect to redact if you do elect to publish; or (2) by commenting with the normal blogspot blog-comment interface, secure in the assurance that you shall post my material unaltered provided I supply, in the body of my blog comment, my name, my municipality and nation of residence, and one of my current functioning e-mail addresses.

After thinking about this for a couple of days, and conferring with my clienbt, I have chosen option (2). I am accordingly using your blogspot blog-comment interface - with, if you will allow me to be frank, a certain lingering distaste.

My name is David Bronskill. I am resident in the municipality of xxxxxx, in Canada. One of my functioning e-mail addresses is - This is the information you require of your commenters, in your remarkably restrictive 2016 April blogging rules.

Mr Karmo, you do not seem to understand the commercial world fully. I must draw your attention to the fact that xxxxxx and that xxxxxx. Further, xxx and xxxxxxxxxx. In Ontario, it is additionally quite normal to xxxxx, and to xxxxxxx, as you would have learned had you been more diligent in your research.

You ask why the mortgage was taken out at the very end of the 2016 December.

You wonder out loud about the timing, in a manner which has significantly distressed my client. You have indeed gone so far as to submit your half-baked, meandering ideas to all three pertinent levels of police. This is no tort, but neither is it nice of you. Maybe I should start wondering aloud, to all three levels of police, if you are guilty of "harassment". Look it up. You can pull of stunts like this two or three times, maybe-maybe, but (so I respectfully submit to you, Sir) no more.

Here's the scoop you said you wanted, Sir. (Is "Sir" in our circumstances fully satisfactory, or would you instead prefer me to call you "Benedict Cumberbatch"?) A subdivision developer is in normal circumstances forced to xxxxx, because xxxxx and xxxxxxxx. So it is normal enough to xxxxxx, especially in December (which does, after all, typically constitute the end of an income-tax year).

If you need confirmation of this rather elementary fact - I know you are stubborn, using your autism as the aluminum crutch with which you occasionally flog passers-by -  then I would recommend you have a look at the xxxxxx subdivision, in the City of xxxxxxxxx, with mortgage registered in xxxxxxxxx around 2015-12-22. You might also examine the xxxxx subdivision, Town of xxxx, with mortgage registered in xxxxxxx on 2016-12-20.

If you still want to quibble, for instance in relation to corporate taxation, do please feel free to ring my assistant xxxxxx on 416-xxx-xxxx and ask him to supply you with references to xxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxxx. I really have had enough of this today.

Extending to you, Sir, the compliments of the season,
I remain yours sincerely,
for the team at Goodmans LLP,
and for my client, 

David Bronskill

Dear Mr Bronskill,

Thank you for your vigorously argued and informative blog work, as a comment submitted to my in response to my end-of-December essay headed "As Christmas of 2017 Approaches".  I agree with you that xxxxx is xxx and xxxx is xxx, and further that xxxxx is generally xxxxxx. Without having time, or perhaps even ability, to delve into corporate tax law, I note that you seem to me, in my own position as a rank layman, to be right in additionally suggesting that from a taxation standpoint xxxxx.

It therefore now looks to me as though my suspicions were ill-founded. Please accept my apologies to you and Corsica.

Mindful of the fact that a landowner,
one would presume a Teutonic baron,
caused the punitive 
(and I would imagine public) whipping
of my grandfather's grandfather in either
the Estonian or the Livonian Gubermang,
conceivably under Tsar Nikolai I,
and that I must on no account 
now allow family history to repeat itself,
and therefore
feeling it now QUITE right to extend
to you the compliments of the season,
I beg to remain sincerely yours,

Toomas (Tom) (Karmo)

One problem with waxing feisty is that feistiness might then have to be brought up in the Sacrament of Penance, leading to inner agonies over the question "Have I Perfect Contrition or Imperfect Contrition?"


Before quite leaving this troubling side of my affairs, I remark perhaps for the benefit of Mr Bronskill, but first and foremost for the benefit of Corsica Development Inc. decision-makers, that if (to propose a pure hypothetical, without intention of innuendo) - if, I say - Corsica has strayed into some kind of deep moral or legal trouble, then the right thing might be for Corsica to abandon its subdivision, working carefully with all the pertinent levels of government toward fair terms either of sale or of land-swap. By way of a modest lifejacket or modest under-seat flotation cushion, I once again offer Corsica the idea that the threatened 32 hectares would serve what in my semi-informed terms are contingency needs at the Department of National Defence.

On the 135-million-dollar mortgage, I am a helpless idiot - as Mr Bronskill may soon be reminding me publicly through blogspot, I hope in tones mannered (as I illustrated with my first template) rather than feisty (as I illustrated with my second template). On radio and civil defence, on the other hand, I am not an idiot. So let any affected parties revisit my posting from 2016-08-29 or 2016-08-30, headed "Toomas Karmo (=VA3KMZ): Open Letter re DDO&P DND (Department of National Defence) Implications". A graceful, dignified Corsica withdrawl - such is the flotation aid I am once again proposing - would involve the halting of subdivision development and the eventual reforestaton of the land, along the lines I already offered on 2016-08-29 or 2016-08-30.

I may as well now just recycle the greater part of the scenario exercise already posted here at blogspot, on 2016-08-29 or 2016-08-30, trimming a little and adjusting just a few inconsequential words:

  • DND embarks on discussions with the developer. DND points out that an acquisition would relieve the developer of its growing public-relations embarrassment, while at the same time serving the national interest over coming decades.  
  • DND acquires the prospective 32-hectare subdivision land on fair terms from the developer, conceivably in a land-swap context.  
  • DND does as little as possible with the land in the short term, mindful of the imperative to minimize peacetime defence expenditure. In the short term, DND welcomes citizen groupings to undertake the slow, hard work of reforestation. 
  • DND puts into place legal machinery ensuring that in an emerging national crisis, it can with the full cooperation of the Town of Richmond Hill erect any necessary antenna farm on its 32-hectare terrain, and if necessary even put radio installations onto the 45-hectare Town-of-Richmond-Hill rump park, and can erect any needed outbuildings on its 32-hectare terrain, and can requisition any needed lab and solar-panel space in and on the DDO Administration Building. (In general, the erection of a rhombic antenna, as suitable for a robust Toronto-Ottawa emergency link, requires some trimming in whatever forest may in future be present, and yet  - so I conjecture, subject to correction - is unlikely to require a wholesale clear-cut.) DND and the Town are in making these contingency plans guided by the precedent set in the Hitler war, in which DND as a DDO on-the-grounds guest carried out research into magnetism (in some such field as the degaussing of naval vessels, as a precaution against magnetic mines) - housing its then personnel, in fact, in what was later to become a DDO building, the extant 1960s-onwards "Radio Shack". 

The fact that streets in the 32 hectares are by now graded (even paved), pipes by now laid, and lamp standards by now erected (I have not, fortunately, in my recent quick night-time inspections from Bayview seen any lights yet shining, to degrade the sky at what have through Corsica's laudable donation become our Town's telescopes) will in this scenario not at all bother the DND. The presence of such infrastructure might even prove something of a mild plus for DND engineers.

The public-relations benefit for the Town of Richmond Hill, with deer again browsing placidly amid trees and brush right out to Bayview Avenue, even under those forever-dark lamp standards, will of course prove substantial: "This remarkable urban forest," someone could write, "with a compact ancient wetland, comprising fully 77 hectares - a thing with few, if any, North American parallels - this tribute to successful federal-municipal coordination, is now under consderation at Parks Canada, along with its embedded world-class Observatory, as the subject of a possible UNESCO World Heritage List application... [and so on, and so on]."

4. Toward Healing and Peace in the FSB-SVR FIle

Although I could wax fulsome on FSB and SVR, my blogging time is running short. Let me then just reiterate what I wrote in my posting of 2017-10-16 or 2017-10-17, headed "Remarks, Including Duly Diligent Advisories to Organs, on the R.F. Garrison 2017-10-14 Memorial". I will pretty much recycle what I used there, with at most incosequential verbal changes. I do this week think it polite to omit my abrasive 2017-10-16/2017-10-17 references to a молодой человек and дебушка, stationed outside the Toronto Hacklab one evening a few years ago, and a bit of further material along these general abrasive lines. And there is also now perhaps no pressing need for me to belabour my advice to a specific University of Toronto scientist-administrator, regarding the need to ponder the integrity of the world-class main DDO telescope should he at any point suffer an Approach.

I do add that now, in a holy Advent season whose meaning is no less appreciated in the Moscow Patriarchy than it is here in Western Christendom, it is more than ever important for us to build Peace:

  • I am most desperately sorry for the current situation in Russia. I wish Russia no ill. Quite the reverse - I wish Russia to turn aside from its current trajectory, which can only end badly. (On the current trajectory, things hold together, more or less, for twenty years, or even for thirty. Then, however, Vovan Vovanitch is dead - he may, I grant, as a person from my own generation, now reasonably aspire to high old age, in imitation of Mr Robert Mugabe - with the oilwells running dry (in their own eventual, sad, imitation of Britain's now-departed "North Sea Oil"). What comes next? On the current trajectory, the Russia of the mid-century has no world-class universities, no manufacturing capable of competing with China and Germany, and perhaps not even any correctly managed forests. So I think people to the east of the Urals will have to throw their mid-century political lot in with China, and that the people to the west of the Urals will have to do all in their now-limited power to avoid becoming a failed state. I know we in Estonia, surveying this impending meltdown from our own side of the Narva River, may not always be too keen on east-bank wild dancing, on east-bank vodka binges, on east-bank balalaikas,  on those teary east-bank folk songs - I do, on the other hand, in a certain russophilia, applaud two such songs in my blog posting of 2017-03-20 or 2017-03-21, headed "A Russia Situation Appraisal, for Kmo Case Officer and Others" - or on the noisy, wearisome, kinda-sorta American-patriot exaggeration of legitimate love-of-родина-or-отечество. But Russia deserves something better than failed-state status. A country with Tolstoy, Rachmaninoff, geometer Lobachevsky, and theoretical physicist L.D. Landau in its history deserves better.)
  • I appreciate that my presumed FSB or SVR case officers are unlikely to themselves be recruited from the criminal and near-criminal classes. The old rule from the pertinent recruitment folklore - The organs check you out, they find out if you fight dirty in a street brawl, or again are capable of killing some small animal; if those initial observations are promising, the organs set up a situation, harvest the resulting компромат, and make you a recruitment offer you cannot refuse - is in their case unlikely to apply. They do, to be sure, know who pays their nice salaries. But they are themselves no criminals, merely analysts - not even all that different from me in their training, their literary and musical interests, and their temperament. There is not the slightest point in shaking a fist at them.
  • It is interesting that FSB and/or SVR should be working hard on my case (with all that blogspot downloading, now and in past months). All the same, I cannot in the legitimate Russian public interest encourage Russian officials in fostering illusions. The organs need NATO dirt. Mere dirt on a Canadian municipal matter, such as DDO&P, is of scant Foreign Ministry utility.  
  • Racking my brains for some way the FSB or SVR could play the DDO&P card, I still come up with nothing better than what I was able to offer in the posting of 2017-03-06 or 2017-03-07: if (if, if) you want to run a big public-relations risk - and I advise against it - then first buy up some of the DDO&P developers' lots, as currently promoted at, and then with diplomatic fanfare turn them back into greenspace. Explain, as the rootballs of birch saplings enter newly humus-remediated soil by way of a graceful botanical tribute to the родина or отечество, that Vovan Vovanitch is "as a worried friend of Canada doing for Canadian natural and scientific heritage what Canada, in its hour of need, lacked the courage and skill to do".

5. The Curious Incident of the Nazarene Baby at Holy Trinity, Toronto

Here is a true story, from the Toronto of 2017. I hope it will help all of us in our quest to pay the Prince of Peace due homage. I especially hope it will help the Town Council, and Corsica, and Mr David Bronskill, and the recent slayers of trees and buckthorn in our pathetic little "wildlife corridor". And I especially hope it will help those scary people in Russia whose interest, judging hastily from some download records, seems to be piqued both by DDO&P and by my 2017-01-02/2017-01-03 blog posting regarding one specific Sankt Peterburg building. (I had posted in the just-mentioned January under the heading "Troll Farms (55 Savushkina Ulita?) and Mainstream Media".)

The story shows that we are not all that much in control of things happening in the communities in which we are embedded. The story also shows that Grace can enter our dull-seeming communities suddenly, in (as it were) an outburst of outright Divine humour.

It is rather early in the 2017 Advent. A Toronto Catholic known to me is assisting, as he often does, with a public performance. This time it is a Nativity pageant, presented at the old Holy Trinity Anglican church.

Holy Trinity dates back to 1847. For Toronto, starved as it is of antiquities (Toronto is not Montréal, is not Ville-de-Québec), so early a construction date is already, just as a fact by itself, remarkable.

Still more remarkable, however, is the preservation of the church as a functioning Anglican assembly, demonstrating the feasibility of fully functional heritage conservation in even such a commercialized spot as the Yonge-Dundas block. Holy Trinity nestles up against that monstrosity, that temple to consumerism, which is the Eaton Centre as timid kitten might nestle up to protective tabby.

But now my friend sees a crisis. The baby slated for the Nativity pageant has fallen ill, and so is unable to perform. In desperation, a call goes out, to the very secular Eaton Centre Christmas-"gifting" crowd hard by the church: "We are in  trouble with a church pageant! Can some kind parent, or some kind couple, right away loan us a baby?"

Soon enough, a Baby is found. This small citizen is aged perhaps six or seven months, and sports an abundant head of black hair.

The Baby proves thoroughly content with the proceedings. The Baby waves its arms in evident satisfaction - more than this, in evident relish - as the adoring Magi, in resplendent coloured robes, and accompanied by royal assistants, present gifts. (An infant of this age will be impressed by movement and colour, and may well flail its arms in enthusiasm - this one sure did - when confronted by long-robed Magi bearing gold, frankincense, and myrrh.)

The pageant concluded, the Baby is carried around the audience, whereupon many greet it.

It then emerges (Toronto is something of an international crossroads, I suspect with many a Middle-Eastern flight reaching Pearson International) that the Baby is a newcomer to Canada, being the child of Palestine-cum-Israel Catholics really and literally from Nazareth.

6. The Blessed Example of Brother Dom Adrian Walker (OSB) at Pluscarden

I have to finish with remarks on one of the deepest and happiest pieces of pastoral theology I have read. It quite rivals the authoritative Fr Henri Nouwen, and yet is nothing but a simple homily for the 2017 November funeral of an evidently problematic Scotland Benedictine.

The monastery in question is Pluscarden.

Onto my little map of the world's "Happy Places", I stick the ancient Volga-river city of Uglich (which, as I remarked above, I do not seem to have now much hope of ever visiting), and I suppose also Zagorsk, Pskov (in archaic Estonian, "Pihkva") and Novgorod. From Estonia, I stick on at the very least the Tallinn Old Town, much or all of Tartu, and the Kaali meteorite crater out on our large, map-dominating, western island of Saaremaa. (Kaali! That Saaremaa impact is nowadays, according to, dated by the best available authorities to between 1530 BC and 1450 BC. Estonian folklore does not on my hasty consultations of Vikipeedia and Wikipedia seem to have preserved a memory of the impact. Somewhere else, years ago, I did read something to the contrary, possibly citing some ancient Saaremaa folksong or song-scrap. On the other hand, does consider Runes 47, 48, and 49 of the Finnish Kalevala (which I have not read) to be possible folkloristic impact reminiscences.)

And of course I confer on this mental map stickers for such monuments to civilization as Oxford, Cambridge, Norwich, and Florence. In Florence, a particular sticker must be accorded to Sister Julia Bolton Holloway's "English Cemetery" hermitage-library, I think some modest distance outside the mediaeval city walls.

The North American part of my mental map is rather bare of stickers (DDO&P, in particular, having since 2008 been maltreated). And yet the North American stretch of my mental cartography does manage to feature at least Hah-vud (Hav-vud Yard, plus the Arnold Arboretum, plus the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), and Walden Pond. At Walden, I have seen with my own eyes actual surviving foundation stones of the celebrated author's actual pond-side shack.

Nova Scotia, as the most striking and culturally successful part of the global Scottish diaspora, and as additionally the cradle of New France, merits several stickers.

I might as well here digress for a moment: so anchored is this Scottish outpost in Scotland that one little patch of ground in an Edinburgh castle was deemed by James VI (or James I, depending on your perspective regarding the Act of Union) to be Nova Scotian. If that royal pronouncment can somehow be upheld in international law (if, if), then my native Canadian province achieves the distinction, surely alone among Canadian provinces, of straddling the Atlantic. Admittedly, the patch of transatlantic Nova Scotia is tiny. King James needed it to be able to create Nova Scotian baronets, by slap of royal sword on shoulder of kneeling subject, without subjecting any such subject to the inconvenience of a transatlantic sea voyage.

One Nova Scotian mental-map sticker I apply to even a minor-seeming thing. If you drive along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, you may see - I hope it still exists - a cairn, whose plaque inscription I have memorized, as I hope many will have:

From the lone shieling of the misty island 
Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas; 
Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland, 
And we, in dreams, behold the Hebrides.

If Nova Scotia merits stickers, still more does its now-dominant point of overseas cultural reference, Scotland. Figuring prominently among the Scottish stickers will have to be Pluscarden.

Pluscarden is at present the sole set of monastic buildings in Great Britain (a large island, rich in monastic remains) used for its originally intended monastic purpose. Admittedly, monastic observance fell silent even there, from the Scottish Reformation until just after the Hitler war. Its vigorous new Benedictines are therefore not in an administrative sense continuous with the pre-Reformation community.  

At Pluscarden, I privately treasure in a particular way the strong devotion to Latin liturgy. It is well said somewhere on the Pluscarden Web site,, that liturgical prayer can for some people assume a special subjective force when conducted in so ancient a language. - To be sure, I must not let this well-said truth deflect me from my eventual hope to pray the psalms in Hebrew, or from my eventual hope to urge my Church more generally to develop itself, as occasion may in future allow it, in a Hebraizing spirit! - I also note, for the benefit of Web surfers wishing to study Pluscarden, the availability at of a new short Polish- and English-language film on Pluscarden entitled "In Search of God". It is pleasing that this film is from a Polish auteur (and so, then, from an auteur geographically rather close to Estonia).

Of all the places in the British Isles, it is this corner of Scotland which suggests to me the most real British connection to ancient Estonia. Hard to the west of Saaremaa and more minor Estonian islands, across comparatively modest water, lies Sweden. Until 1905 or so, the Swedish monarch's writ ran not only to the Swedish southeastern coast-and-islands, but also all the way to the Scandinavian western coast, to what we now think of as the fjords of the Kingdom of Norway. Pluscarden lies in turn not far from the Scottish east coast, in a rugged terrain culturally and administratively dominated by Aberdeen. From that particular Highland coast, it is just a modest sea crossing to those particular fjords.

The diplomatic history, as enshrined in treaties or other instruments, or perhaps alternatively in ecclesial chronicles, of the Highlands reflects this. As the Vikings were the near neighbours of the ancient Estonians, so also were they the near neighbours of the ancient Scottish Celts (namely, the Picts).

Treaties or the like aside, I think that just parts of Scotland, perhaps particularly a few of the isles, came under formal Viking rule. The situation in Estonia is parallel, with the Vikings (I am fairly sure) proving rather admirable, and yet gaining a legal foothold on not much beyond our biggest island Saaremaa. I am fairly sure that from a Pärnu County or Harju County perspective they generally remained mere legal "neighbours", and that the Danish rule of Tallinn ("Taani linn", "Danish town") has to be judged a mere footnote in a long, often Teutonic, chapter.

At Pluscarden was Brother Dom Adrian Walker, OSB. I finish this long Advent posting by reproducing, with kind Diocesan permission, a part of his funeral homily, as preached this autumn by Bishop Hugh of Aberdeen. How swiftly did the diocesan and monastic permissions come, when I apprehensively transmitted my pair of queries!  And how generously were those permissions phrased by the pair of swiftly responding desks!

In the excerpt that follows, I reproduce verbatim, retaining at one point an emphasis (on the word 'this') present in the original, at

In today's Gospel (from St John), and others we have been hearing recently at weekday Mass (from St Luke), our Lord has been saying the one, same thing: 'you are invited to a banquet.'  'Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God' someone said at table with Jesus. And he says, 'When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.' This banquet isn't first one we give. It's one Christ gives. It's the banquet of the Kingdom of God.  And we are 'the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.' There's our passport, our letters of credence, our badge of entry. And this is who we are: souls invited to a banquet. And this was Dom Adrian, Michael (also known as Norman) Walker, the memorable man we are burying today, who passed to the Lord aged 91 on the Eve of All Saints – invited to the banquet.

It remains a mystery how much Dom Adrian ever 'clocked' this. It was always rather uncertain whether he had a spiritual life at all. But, in retrospect, so what? By the grace of God, Dom Adrian found himself in the right queue on the right street, heading for the right house and, by the grace of God, just kept shuffling along on his way to the banquet. /.../ His wedding garment had holes and stains, and sometimes smelt, but it just about held. He was an unforgettable man, visibly and audibly. The wonder, though, the gratitude that trumps any sadness, is that the Lord became and has become visible in him. /.../ He had a gift of associating many things with himself: the horses at Farnborough or Rafford, the pigs we once had, a neurotic, distinctly unappealing dog, a certain style of toast, the rotivator, the cello, the violin, the organ, the army greatcoat. He was his own constellation, so to say. But the joy is that Someone else, out of inscrutable mercy, had linked himself to him. 'Am I not free to do what I wish with my own?'

/../ ultimately in Pluscarden his stability was fixed. He joined this queue, as it were, of brethren on their way to the banquet. And he was always there, generously shuffling (and blinking) along. To paraphrase the Rule: in the garden (for some 50 years), on the tractor, in the choir (for over 60), at the organ, reading in the refectory, washing up, serving, occasionally boiling rather watery eggs, swimming in the burn. Always there. He could land himself in constant trouble but always emerged. He could exasperate but inspire affection at the same time. He was quite incorrigible, but perfectly gentle. He could never be given any responsibility, but was always dependable. He could write sensitively and well. He could make unexpected contributions to Chapter Meetings. He would say, humbly, 'I've had a very easy life', while his brethren knew another side (not least in the garden!). Liturgy and work filled his days. He suffered, I suppose, from a species of autism. It exposed him and protected him at the same time. But beyond that, this large man had a great child within - and Christ. 'It is good to wait in silence for the Lord to save.'

There is more, in fact a significant amount more (including some apposite quoted poetry). I would urge my readers to consult the original, which (I repeat) is published at Perhaps particularly my Russian case officers might take a moment for such a healing consultation?

But I have quoted enough for present, Advent, purposes. Advent may well be considered a time of silence and waiting. The story of Brother Dom Adrian Walker, OSB, at Pluscarden, like the story of the "Baby" at Holy Trinity in Toronto, conveys something of the surprising, fresh, adventual, childbirth, quality of Grace.

We may well remind ourselves, with reference to the current fresh DDO&P troubles, that Heaven, being a place of humour, can bring surprising good even out of situations that seem harsh to earthbound eyes. Let Karen and Mr David Bronskill, in particular, read these present words and meditate on them. It may be that all of us in the DDO&P casework can at some point sit around some common table (or at least, in view of my hoped-for 2018 Estonian relocation, video-confer over some common transatlantic circuit) and smile wanly at each other, and find ourselves sincerely agreeing.

No less so do I think this of Russia, the Country I Now Guess I Am Doomed Never in Future to Visit, the country which I now guess I am doomed forever to contemplate from the left (the western) bank of the Narva River. Brother Adrian should be regarded as saved not despite his limitations, but in and through them. Cannot the same notion be applied to whole nations - even to what has, with some reason, in bygone centuries been termed, despite all its darkness, "Holy Russia"?

[This is the end of the present blog posting.]