Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Decollation of Sir Walter Raleigh

The History website tells us why Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded on October 29, 1618:
He was a celebrated soldier, a hero on land and sea. He was responsible for the first ever English colonies in the New World. And he wrote poetry that ranks with some of the finest in early modern England. Yet at the age of 54 Sir Walter Raleigh was executed for treason. What caused the downfall of this beloved Renaissance courtier? 
For a court favorite, Raleigh actually spent quite a bit of his life locked up in the Tower of London. The first time, in 1592, it was because he’d secretly married his lover, Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Throckmorton, a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I. Bess was already pregnant, which explained both the marriage and the secrecy. Enraged by their plotting behind her back, Elizabeth dismissed Bess and imprisoned both of them in the Tower. 
 Raleigh did regain the Queen's favor eventually and then explored the New World, founding the Roanoke colony in Virginia, and returning from El Dorado (Guyana) promising more gold every time he visited.
While he remained in Elizabeth’s favor until her death, James VI’s of Scotland’s accession to the English throne as James I meant that Raleigh’s fortunes plummeted. This was largely because James was attempting a diplomatic rapprochement with Spain, England’s longstanding enemy, against whom Raleigh had been a formidable foe. England’s funds were depleted by their endless struggles against Spain’s richer, mightier forces, so James decided it was time to end the rivalry. . . .
So Raleigh was tried in a sham trial--never allowed to face his accuser and question him--and imprisoned again:
But James, in his determination to get on Spain’s good side, locked up Raleigh once again in the Tower—this time for 13 years. . . .It was likely Raleigh’s promises of gold that got him released from prison before his sentence could be carried out: in 1617 he was pardoned so that he could once again travel to Guyana in search of El Dorado. But that quest would ultimately prove fatal: during the expedition a detachment of Raleigh’s men (against his orders) attacked a Spanish outpost, an action that directly contravened the conditions of his pardon.
Because Raleigh's men, led by Lawrence Keymis, had violated the 1604 Treaty of London, the Spanish Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Diego Sarmiento de Acuña, Count of Gondomar, demanded Raleigh's execution (Keymis having committed suicide--Raleigh's namesake eldest son had died in the attack) and James I complied. Raleigh was executed at Whitechapel in London. (Read more.)

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Slave Markets on Instagram

Slavery is alive and well. From the BBC:
Posing as a couple newly arrived in Kuwait, the BBC Arabic undercover team spoke to 57 app users and visited more than a dozen people who were trying to sell them their domestic worker via a popular commodity app called 4Sale. The sellers almost all advocated confiscating the women's passports, confining them to the house, denying them any time off and giving them little or no access to a phone. The 4Sale app allowed you to filter by race, with different price brackets clearly on offer, according to category. 
"African worker, clean and smiley," said one listing. Another: "Nepalese who dares to ask for a day off." When speaking to the sellers, the undercover team frequently heard racist language. "Indians are the dirtiest," said one, describing a woman being advertised. The team were urged by app users, who acted as if they were the "owners" of these women, to deny them other basic human rights, such as giving them a "day or a minute or a second" off. One man, a policeman, looking to offload his worker said: "Trust me she's very nice, she laughs and has a smiley face. Even if you keep her up till 5am she won't complain." He told the BBC team how domestic workers were used as a commodity. "You will find someone buying a maid for 600 KD ($2,000), and selling her on for 1,000 KD ($3,300)," he said.(Read more.)
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The Murder That Inspired Hardy’s ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’

From Nancy Bilyeau at Medium:
In Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles, the title character possesses the kind of beauty that draws a certain sort of attention: “A small minority, mainly strangers, would look long at her in casually passing by, and grow momentarily fascinated by her freshness, and wonder if they would ever see her again: but to almost everybody she was a fine and picturesque country girl, and nothing more.” 
But that attention leads to tragedy for Tess, who, after being abused and mistreated by the man whom she lives with, finally murders him. At the end of the novel, Tess is hanged in the “city of Wintoncester, that fine old city.” The reader is spared the details of this execution, only being told that a black flag slowly moves up the staff after the execution is finished. 
It was otherwise for Thomas Hardy, author of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, who when he was 16 years old witnessed the public hanging of a woman charged with murdering her husband. Martha Brown became the last woman to be hanged in Dorset when in 1856, aged 44, she was found guilty of murdering her violent husband after he had beaten her with a whip during an argument. (Read more.)
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Monday, November 11, 2019

An Anglo-Saxon Hoard

From The Daily Mail:
A collection of Anglo-Saxon gold artefacts known as the Staffordshire hoard has been hailed as 'one of the greatest finds of British archaeology' by researchers. The 'war hoard' collection was discovered by metal detectorist Terry Herbert who was using a £2 metal detector he bought from a car boot sale to explore a field near Lichfield belonging to farmer Fred Johnson. Their find on July 5, 2009 was sold off to museums for £3.285million and the funds were split between them. The artefacts are from what is widely considered the 'holy war of the dark ages' in which Pagan leaders fought against rival Christian kingdoms. Since then, the ancient haul dating back to between AD600 and AD650 has become an international sensation. And scientists now believe the hoard belonged to one of the most most powerful Anglo-Saxon Kings of the time.  Penda was part of the Battle of Hatfield Chase where Northumbrian King Edwin was defeated.

Researchers, lead by Dr Chris Fern, have identified nearly 700 items, out of 4,6000 pieces, from a time where Anglo-Saxon kingdoms engaged in brutal battles. Dr Fern believes the items were taken from Northumbria and east England by Mercian armies from a kingdom in the centre of what is now England, The Guardian reports. The hoard, which was likely hastily buried but never recovered, includes what could be a 'battle shrine' containing a processional cross that suggests that Christian emblems were used as good-luck charms for battle. An inscription from the book of numbers, the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, is also included in the collection. It reads: 'Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee,' The Times reports. (Read more.)

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Triggering "The View"

From Charlie Kirk at Newsweek:
Don Jr., along with Dr. Sebastian Gorka and others, have been rightly outraged by the double standard shown by the media in protecting this person who is not entitled to legal protection. Accordingly, they shared the worst-kept-secret in Washington with the social media universe. This has caused an outpouring of self-righteous indignation from the usual gang of triggered Orwellians who call themselves "progressives." 
And now, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to The View. Huntsman, one of the show's two presumed "conservatives," who is about as conservative as Bill Kristol, shared how disturbed she was about his leaker "outing" (which, remember, wasn't an outing) because she "lived in China" and this is what governments like that one do. Sunny Hostin (who mentions her life as a former federal prosecutor about as often as Forrest Gump said his name) declared that her law degree tells her Don Jr. broke the law. Earlier in the week, Hostin told the audience that if she were still a prosecutor, she would have Paul arrested for witness tampering for suggesting the name of the leaker be released. Hostin's intolerance would make her an excellent government prosecutor in China should she ever decide to leave television. (Read more.)
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How Pornography Removes Empathy

From a couple years ago but worth reading again. From The Conversation:
In short, empathy and sexual objectification are incompatible. There is evidence that when observers hone in on a woman’s physical appearance, she becomes “less human” and “more object” in the eyes of the observer. Under a sexually objectifying gaze, women’s bodies momentarily become the “property” of the observer – whether they have consented or not. 
Psychologists have also argued that pornographic scripts emphasize culturally accepted standards of beauty. They also propagate the myth that women (and men) have insatiable sexual appetites, and glamorize sexual novelty and sex outside of a romantic relationship. Such narratives tend not to involve affection, intimacy, or expressions of love in any “real” sense. 
Recent analyses of the 50 bestselling adult films also suggest that objectification and lack of empathetic concern for women’s feelings and welfare are the norm. Of 304 scenes analysed, almost half contained verbal aggression, and over 88% contained physical aggression. Most of these aggressive acts were perpetrated by men, and the most common responses by female actors were either of pleasure or neutrality. 
In essence, pornographic “reality” (an increasingly normal reality for millions of men) is a reality devoid of empathetic concern for women. It is a reality where women are routinely treated as sexual objects, and where women respond positively or neutrally to such treatment. With pornography so popular and so accessible, it is perhaps unsurprising that such relational attitudes are embedded in the male psyche. (Read more.)
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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Mourning Dress - Black Clothing Worn During Bereavement

The Infanta Margarita
From Bellatory:
For over 500 years, wearing black signified bereavement. In Europe and America, black was the color of mourning, worn at funerals and for some time after the death of a loved one. Originally a custom for royalty and aristocracy who were experiencing grief, mourning dress eventually became a fashion statement worn by people who wished to imitate the elite. 
Wearing black clothing has often taken on a social significance. During the Middle Ages, wealthy Spanish gentlemen wore black velvet to display status as black dyes were expensive. 
In the mid 20th century, beatniks in the United States wore black to separate themselves from the herd, as a sort of counterculture trademark. More recently, certain groups of young people wore black to distinguish themselves as Goths. 
Black clothing has long been associated with the clergy and asceticism. 
And Johnny Cash called himself The Man in Black in a song in which he claims to wear black for political and social reasons, for the poor, and people living troubled lives. (Read more.)
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Why Is Christopher Steele Still a Thing?

From Rolling Stones:
If you read this and thought it was silly, you weren’t alone. In early 2017, CNN anchor Jake Tapper wrote to Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith in a snit, complaining that Smith had been “irresponsible” and “uncollegial” when he published the dossier. Was Tapper upset that Smith had broken with ethical tradition by publishing unverified material, defaming a string of named human beings as traitorous spies without evidence?
Nope. Tapper was mad that Smith had defamed the story by showing where it came from! “I think your move makes the story less serious and credible,” he wrote, in an email produced as part of a lawsuit against Buzzfeed. “I think you damaged its impact.” Tapper apparently liked the Steele tale better when it was coming out in bits, through more politically astute sources like his buddy and future co-worker, the former director of national intelligence James Clapper, one of the four Sneaky Petes who presented Trump with the Steele synopsis.
The now-accepted notion that Steele’s importance lay in his “central claim” of Russian cyber-interference is still more revisionist propaganda. The headline of Steele’s first report was about Trump’s “compromising relationship” with the Kremlin, and the heavy focus of the “original” (i.e., non-verifiable) material in the dossier is the “two-way” Trump-Russia plot.
The American intelligence community published a conclusion about Russian interference in early January 2017 (the many coverage oddities surrounding that story comprise another subject for another time). America didn’t lose its mind for the two ensuing years because of Russian hacking, but rather because of the widespread belief that the new president was a long-cultivated Russian agent who would be found out at any moment, across years of “tipping points” and “beginnings of the end.” (Read more.)
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