Thursday, 14 April 2016

Background FAQ,
regarding purpose and conduct of this blog

Revision history: 

  • UTC=20160415T042019Z/version 1.1.0: Kmo made minor improvements: replacement of identifier "TK" with "Kmo", for conformity with existing David Dunlap Observatory documentation; addition under "What is the purpose of this blog?" of remarks on catabolic collapse, and on Prof. Joseph Tainter; addition under "How often is this blog updated?" of remark regarding "major.minor.patch" revision histories 
  • UTC=20160414T024307Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo wrote base version (tweaking it in small ways, as a here-undocumented "1.0.1", "1.0.2", "1.0.3", ...) over the approximate period UTC=20160414T024307Z/20160415T041700Z

What is the purpose of this blog? 

This blog is used by Toomas (Tom) Karmo ("Kmo") as a vehicle for publishing ephemeral, not necessarily very carefully written, comment on topics of week-to-week interest to him. 

The following are the three most notable of these topics:  

  • Developments (for instance, legal developments, including conceivable future litigation against Kmo) in Canada's David Dunlap Observatory and Park ("DDO&P") heritage conservation case. (Kmo is now too poor to afford a lawyer, having expended about a half-million CAD on the DDO&P case from 2007 through 2015. This blog makes it possible to have something in the public record in the event that Kmo, attempting to self-represent if someday sued by pro-business forces, is by his mild autism rendered tongue-tied before some judge in some courtroom.) 
  • The ongoing transition of the Western world, including both Estonia and Canada, from a condition of social stability into a condition of social breakdown. The breakdown may be anticipated not necessarily in the coming few years, but rather over the coming decades, as cultural regression, anthropogenic climate change, and the depletion of fossil fuels first stress, and then  rupture, the current hydrocarbon-intensive industrial economy. "Breakdown" is indeed not necessarily the best phrase: one contemplates here less the crash of a jet aeroplane than a slow-motion train wreck, played out over the course of more than one generation, and sometimes so slow that casual observers forget even to worry. (Think of it like this: your own life is relatively stable, but presents fewer employment and educational opportunities than did the lives of your parents; your children will do less well still; for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, things get again harsher, as key institutions fade away. Eventually, perhaps over a span of three or five or seven human lifetimes,  a Dark Age sets in. At that point, there are opulent little gated enclaves for warlords, and mean streets, in the manner of contemporary Kabul,  for the rest of us.) This is a breakdown well analyzed by John Michael Greer ("JMG") in several of his books, and additionally at his blog, in the overarching framework of his "Catabolic Collapse" theory. JMG's theory should be seen as a major further development, i.e., as a major refinement and extension, of an analysis developed by Prof. Joseph Tainter in his 1988 book The Collapse of Complex Societies, and applied by Prof. Tainter to (among other things) classical Rome. - A further relevant document is the 2015 Papal encyclical Laudato Si'. -  Kmo himself analyses the impending catabolic collapse, or in an alternative phrasing the impending inexorable-yet-slow catabolic decline, elsewhere on the Web, most notably at
  • Kmo's efforts to study physics (notably astrophysics and physics-of-radio) and the pertinent mathematics (notably multivariate real-valued calculus, in the context of Kmo's programme of notational improvement - Leibniz "d" largely purged, in the rigorous notational spirit of Spivak, and additionally clarity-promoting recourses made to functional-abstraction notation, in the spirit of 1930s logician Alonzo Church and 2000-era classical-mechanics (Lagrange, Hamilton) formalizers Gerald J. Sussman and Jack Wisdom).

Other topics of interest include the Liturgy of the Hours ("Divine Office", "Liturgia Horarum", "Officium Divinum" - perhaps especially Laudes Matitutinae and Completorium); the Catholic Worker movement; contemporary Catholic hermits, such as Julia Bolton Holloway in Florence and Sr Laurel O'Neil in the west-coast USA; Judaica; amateur radio, with some emphasis on traditional radiotelegraphy; railways; the history of Estonia; the contemporary politics of Estonia; international diplomacy, particularly as regards Estonia, the United Kingdom, and their respective principal diplomatic partner States or challenge States; international diplomacy in the context of international peacekeeping, even without reference to Estonia and the United Kingdom (Kmo wishes some day to learn more about Hugo Grotius); the study of Latin, especially in the context of efforts to keep good Ciceronian style current on the Web, and to promote the authentic classical pronunciation ("Yoolius Kai-sar said, Weni, widi, wiki, to signify that he arrived, saw, and conquered") in respectful correction of an unfortunate post-classical Church tradition; the study of Biblical Hebrew; the British cryptography effort at Bletchley Park during the Hitler war; 20th-century and 21st-century British intelligence and counterintelligence, notably at MI5 and MI6; V.I. Lenin's 1917 Petrograd putsch (inaccurately termed, by most writers, a revolution); the 1991 dismantling of the Soviet Union; classic cinema (for instance "Night Train to Munich", "The First of the Few", and the like, in pre-1960 Britain, and "Siin Me Oleme", "Kevade", and the like, in Soviet-occupied Estonia); the Canadian and British justice systems; and all aspects of Sherlock Holmes (including not only the Canon, but such things as the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection at the Toronto Reference Library, and Sherlock Holmes parodies and pastiches).  

How are the occasional eccentricities in this blog to be excused or explained? 

Kmo suffers from a mild autism, called in some clinical circles "Asperger Syndrome". Among the effects of this condition in Kmo's case is a compulsive desire to spell things out, beyond the requirements of ordinary polite discourse. Kmo suggests that this feature of his writing style constitutes only a mild barrier to understanding.

How often is this blog updated?

Its day-of-launching (2016-04-14) aside, Kmo seeks to post fresh essay, as opposed to mere comment-on-essay, material to this blog exactly once a week, on Tuesdays, at some point in the four-hour interval from 00:00:01 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) to 00:04:01 UTC, making one or more essay postings in that interval. UTC leads the winter civil time of New York and Toronto, "EST", by 5 hours, and leads the summer civil time of New York and Toronto, "EDT", by 4 hours. (Or, from a Nordic perspective: UTC lags the winter civil time of Helsinki and Tallinn by 2 hours, and lags the summer civil time of Helsinki and Tallinn by 3 hours.) 

It is possible, however, that an update will be made either before or after the scheduled time, as some emergency arises - for instance, some legal proceeding by opponents of Kmo's greenspace-conservation case at Canada's David Dunlap Observatory and Park, or some medical matter. 

It is also possible, and indeed is probable, that an update will be made either before or after the scheduled time in the event that the four-hour interval falls, in Kmo's current given locality, within the conventional periods for locally marking Christmas, the Holy Thursday (Easter Triduum) evening, and Good Friday. 

Kmo reserves the right to post visitor comments-on-essays (as opposed to outright essays) onto the blog, or to post his own comments-on-essays, at any time at all (without regard to the restriction of the just-specified four-hour window). He will try, but cannot guarantee, to process any submitted visitor comments-on-essays - whether rejecting  them, with stated reasons as appropriate, or uploading them (see  below, "Under what conditions may the public comment on this blog?") - within 24 hours of the visitor's transmission, unless the day of transmission-to-Kmo is a Sunday. (Kmo does not normally do blogwork, or even monitor e-mails, on Sundays. Further, on Sundays he normally switches his telephone over to a voicemail answering mode.) 

It may sometimes be that Kmo has to make some revision to an already-posted essay, to correct some error or oversight. He undertakes in all significant such cases to prepend to his essay a revision history, with UTC timestamping, and additionally with the "major.minor.patch" three-number formalism which has become standard in many software development shops.

Under what conditions may the public make comments-on-essays? 

Comments-on-essays  by the public are welcome in Estonian, English, Latin, French, and German,  under the following (admittedly, rather stringent) conditions: 

  • Contrary to normal blogosphere practice, anonymous comments will be deleted by Kmo. For a comment to pass moderation, the comment may be made under some blog-software login name (for instance, "NightWatchman" or "I.B. Citizen"), but must be accompanied within the body of the comment, as the last points in the comment (1) by the commenter's first name and surname (for instance, "Pat Smith"), and (2) by an e-mail address sufficient for contacting the commenter (for instance, ""), and (3) by an adequately clear indication of the commenter's municipality and country (for instance, "Paistu vald, in rural Viljandi County, Estonia"; or "Debert village, near Truro in Nova Scotia, Canada"; or "Calgary, in Canada").  Kmo reserves the right, in cases where he suspects identity spoofing or some similar abuse, to contact the would-be commenter via the offered e-mail address, as a first step in the possibly multi-step process of verifying that the would-be commenter has supplied his or her correct name, and has additionally supplied one of his or her correct e-mail addresses, and has additionally been accurate in specifying his or her municipality and country. - Call this the "Tripartite Identity Requirement". 
  • Comments containing profanity or other types of abusive language will be deleted by Kmo. The following test cases illustrate the difference between the non-abusive and the abusive: "Pope Francis is the naive tenant of the most offensive ivory tower since Hitler's  Reichskanzlei" (a silly comment, but not abusive); "I can't wait for the end of the Francis papacy" (abusive); "The obscenely self-confident Baroness Thatcher did more harm to the community than any other recent British Prime Minister" (a harsh comment, but not abusive; indeed Kmo would regard this with some sympathy, the harshness of its language notwithstanding); "Baroness Thatcher was a harridan" (a very harsh comment, probably unfair, but nevertheless falling just short of abuse); "Baroness Thatcher was a bitch" (abusive); "Baroness Thatcher was a b***" (still abusive; asterisks no real remedy here); "I used to dream of Lord Carrington's canoe tipping over at Greenwich, with Baroness Thatcher thereupon racing madly up and down the shoreline, yelping and barking" (in poor taste, and very close to the forbidden line, but just short of abuse; the b-word is here insolently hinted at, yet is not deployed).  As a rule of thumb, language - however strong -  counts here as  abusive if, and only if, it would be rejected on grounds of abusiveness by the administrators of the op-ed columns of that respected metropolitan daily, Canada's newspaper-of-record, the Globe and Mail.  Readers familiar with the Canadian press will note that the Globe and Mail is occasionally pompous, and yet invariably clean. Good equivalents outside Canada are perhaps Postimees in Estonia and the New York Times  in the USA. - Call this the "Courtesy Requirement". 

Under what conditions may the public post original ("guest") essays (as opposed to mere comments-on-essays) on this blog? 

Guest essays are more than welcome, provided they meet the Tripartite Identity Requirement and the Courtesy Requirement. There is no requirement that a guest essay defend Catholic orthodoxy or environmentalism (though an essay attacking orthodoxy or environmentalism is liable to garner subsequent comments, of a more or less critical kind, from Kmo, in the usual blog comment-on-essays format). 

Kmo does reserve the right to reject any offered guest essay, for any reason whatever, simply stating his reasons in a private e-mail to the author. It might be, for instance, that an essay is offered which passes the Tripartite Identity Requirement and the Courtesy Requirement, and yet which is trite to the point of lowering the overall (already painfully modest) intellectual level of this blog.

Proposals for guest essays should be made by e-mail, to 

What undertakings does Kmo give regarding freedom-from-censorship? 

(1) Kmo undertakes to publish all comments-on-essays which meet the Tripartite Identity Requirement and the Courtesy Requirement.    

Such publication does not signify agreement by Kmo with the content. In some cases, Kmo may disagree with part or all of what is said, and may find it polite not to indicate the full extent of his disagreement.  But Kmo will do his best, following the example set by JMG at, to make at least some reply of his own - either expressing essentially full agreement, or else conveying and articulating at least some (adequately polite) part of his disagreement. Kmo will do his best to ensure that whenever he posts a comment-on-essay, he will add some comment or other of his own (perhaps just a brief nod of agreement, in the approximate style "Thx muchly m8; no quarrel there, obviously"). 

(2) Kmo undertakes to keep a fully visible record, in the usual blog-comment space and style, of any comments-on-essays which meet the Tripartite Identity Requirement and yet fail the Courtesy Requirement. Kmo undertakes to incorporate in this record a discussion of the relevant factors in each case. 

A hypothetical example: Have just deleted, as failing the Courtesy Requirement even though passing the Tripartite Identity Requirement, a comment by an individual having as first character of login name "P", and reading e-mails at Reason: Individual used four-letter vulgarism in referring to USA Republican politician Donald Trump. Kmo has much sympathy with the view expressed, but cannot accept the mode of expression. Would-be commenter: please consider resubmitting, with abusive language excised.  

A second hypothetical example: Have just deleted, as failing the Courtesy Requirement even though passing the Tripartite Identity Requirement, a comment by an individual having as first character of real surname "R", and giving as place of residence a Cape Cod municipality. Reason: Posting accuses Truman Capote of 'shameless plagiarism from Hemingway'. Kmo judges this accusation to be a form of abuse, since it is prima facie so implausible as to fail the usual 'Fair Comment' defence unless accompanied by strong supporting evidence. The fact that victim is dead makes defamation case in essence impossible in law (at any rate in Canada: an attempt to find for libel-of-a-dead-person in Quebec has failed, and no other such Canadian attempt has to Kmo's knowledge succeeded).  Law aside, however, there is a moral (an ethical) delict of abuse, through contravening spirit of usual 'Fair Comment' jurisprudence. Phrase 'shameless plagiarism' is not in and of itself abusive. Rest of posting - as in asserting Mr Capote would have benefited from taking out a subscription to Field and Stream magazine - in Kmo's judgment foolish but not abusive. Would-be commenter: please consider resubmitting, with abuse remedied either by excision or by addition of corroborative evidence substantiating the (prima facie implausible) allegation of literary theft. Would-be commenter is herewith reminded that Kmo has minimal-censorship policy of allowing comments, however foolish they may be, provided they satisfy the Tripartite Identity Requirement and the Courtesy Requirement. 

(3) Kmo reserves the right to act in any way at all - commenting publicly, or not commenting publicly, as he may from one case to the next decide - when a proffered comment-on-essay in one or another way fails the Tripartite Identity Requirement. 

What is Kmo's background? 

Kmo is currently a resident of Richmond Hill. Richmond Hill is a  lower-tier municipality with an approximate population of 200,000, incorporated in the style "Town" as distinct from "City", about 20 kilometres north of the downtown core of Toronto, Canada. 

Kmo holds the dual citizenship of Canada (through birth in Nova Scotia on 1953-07-12) and Estonia (through his parents; despite some legal discussions around citizenship, Estonian constitution does not allow such citizenship to be extinguished without the citizen's consent).  Keeping this present dual citizenship in view, Kmo hopes to transfer his residency to Estonia around 2018, while retaining dual citizenship. 

Kmo is pursuing, without vows, a perceived vocation as a private, i.e., as a non-diocesan, hermit, within the disciplines of the ordinary Catholic laity. This type of informal eremitical vocation is to be distinguished from the more formal eremitical vocation, with vows, defined in Church law by Canon 603. 

Details on Kmo's education, career, and skills are provided in the "Business" section of Kmo's private Web site, The following quick summary suffices, however, for practically any currently reasonable purpose: 

  • 1974: B.A. (Hons.) in philosophy  from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia
  • 1979: B.Phil. and D.Phil. in philosophy from Oxford University, with concentrations on Aristotle, tense logic, formal semantics, and ontology (e.g., differences in modes-of-being: being-a-knot ("substantial being") versus being-knotted ("accidental being"))
  • 1996: B.Sc. (Hons.) as "Computer Science and Physics Specialist"  from the University of Toronto
  • 1996 through 1999: all required "AST*" courses in the B.Sc. "Astrophysics Specialist" stream, from the University of Toronto
  •  2006 November through 2008 June: employment at the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) in Richmond Hill, under aegis of University of Toronto, on two concurrent part-time contracts (on the one hand as "Telescope Operator", i.e., as what in most observatories is termed "Night Assistant", and on the other hand as research assistant to Prof. C.T. (Thomas) Bolton; the three-letter identifier "Kmo" used here in fact derives from the internal documentation, such as telescope-dome logs, at this period in DDO
  • conversational fluency in Estonian (first language), English (mastered at school late in 1958), French (mastered, but with some modest conversational hesitations or errors, and a light (Anglo?) accent, through travels in France in 1970, 1972, and 1974); reading knowledge of German (acquired in late 2013 and early 2014); reading knowledge of classical and koine Greek (as self-training, 1974 through 1979; most difficult author attempted was Plato (which Kmo was able to read around 1979 with recourse to lexicon but without recourse to crib); Greek allowed to fall into disuse after 1980 or so, except for occasional current tiny forays into New Testament koine); rather strong reading knowledge of Latin (Aeneid one book 1983; Sallust 1983; de Bello Gallico one book around 2010; several hundred lines in de Bello Gallico around 2015 and in assorted Cicero around 2015; Laudes Matitutinae or Completorium or similar in Latin in  private devotions, four or five or six days a week, from 2015 or so onward); Biblical Hebrew in progress (2009 through 2013, and then again from the Lent of 2016 onward, currently at rate of 4 hours/week); minor foray into Russian (started 2015, with a target of just 60 hours/year)
  • second-year linear algebra in reasonable shape as of 2015; div-grad-curl and related topics in multivariate real calculus (but not at level of rigorous analysis) in reasonable shape as of 2015; self-training in tensors in progress in 2016
  • Industry Canada "Basic-with-Honours" amateur radio licence, as VA3KMZ 
  • Morse code reception (copying-to-paper) skill of around 15 words/minute
  • strong interest in electromagnetics (as of early 2016, up to grasp of Maxwell's equations in integral and differential form, for propagation of electromagnetic radiation through vacuum as opposed to through materials - including derivation of general wave equations in E, B for propagation-through-vacuum)  
  • efforts from 2007 September onward, largely under aegis of "Richmond Hill Naturalists" local nonprofit organization, to conserve the 77-hectare David Dunlap Observatory and Park in Richmond Hill (particulars on lawsuit brought against Kmo by politician Karen Cilevitz, who advocated development of 32 hectares out of the 77, available at and; other particulars on the conservation case available at, and at the work-in-progress  which is (because work-in-progress, password protected: use login i.d. "jessie" and password "accuracy"); a useful bare-bones summary can be had by reading the full Web page, including Kmo comments, retrievable by Googling on the phrase ugly battle dunlap observatory, or alternatively by pointing one's browser directly to

(real name) Toomas (Tom) Karmo


(indication of municipality and country) Richmond Hill (Ontario), in Canada

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