Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sudeley Castle



From Victoria:
On the castle grounds, tendrils of clematis vines wind around seemingly brittle ruins that have endured centuries of weather and war, as well as a number of monarchs. Vestiges of the estate’s earlier days, the stones are what remains of the old Banqueting Hall and the Tithe Barn.

The gardens are simply breathtaking. Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe, chatelaine of the castle, explains: “Sudeley’s gardens are made up of a collection of cameo gardens, each expressing a theme or period of [the estate’s] history.” Among these botanical inspirations is the Queens’ Garden, named for the four queens who have strolled the grounds, and the Tudor Physic Garden, which contains healing herbs and plants the Tudors and the Elizabethans would have grown. (Read more.)
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Porn and Lack of Desire

From Defend Dignity:
Porn users can become sexually triggered, or hyper-reactive, to porn-related cues. This can cause the motivational systems of the brain, which spur us to engage in activities like eating or having sex, to fixate on pornography in a way that results in real-life, partnered, sex failing to meet the users’ expectations.

After all, how could one person in bed compete with Internet pornography’s endless novelty, voyeuristic perspective, and lack of boundaries regarding particular sex acts? Real sex, then, registers in the brain as less arousing than Internet pornography. Even with a desired partner. And therefore, the team stated, “sexual centers of the brain may not produce adequate neurochemical response to attain and maintain an erection or climax without difficulty.” (Read more.)
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Billy

From Patti Macguire Armstrong:
Billy Lutter tumbled to the wooden floor of his home. His parents picked him up and tried again to help him walk. It was no use. Doctors had been telling the Lutters to institutionalize five-year old Billy for some time. This was 1939 and institutionalization was commonly advised for children with physical and mental disabilities.

Billy’s parents, a steelworker and a homemaker, struggled with the decision to send Billy away. "This was back in the Depression. Things were tough all around,"says Fred Lutter, Billy's older brother by two years. "I was a very tearful situation." Their hearts breaking, the Lutters drove Billy from their home outside of Chicago to a state facility 200 miles away. They visited regularly for a year. But administrators, worried that such meetings upset the residents, advised them to stop coming.
"My brother realized who his parents were. To be left like that was very traumatic," says Fred. “I felt very sad to see my parents in such turmoil." 
The years rolled by. Billy's siblings got married and had their own children.  Everybody thought about Billy, but his name was not spoken. Billy's parents grew old and, as they aged, grew infirm. They had done what they thought was best for Billy, but his absence had left a gaping, raw wound for the family.  (Read more.)
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Farming in Virginia



From my sister Sarah's blog:
How do I begin to describe the astounding trust and communion with the land that I witnessed last week? Meet the McIntyre family, owners of Goshen Homestead who also work for Roffey Cattle Company. A homestead means living a life of self-sufficiency. Vegetables, fruits, cattle, chickens…all can be found on this gorgeous piece of land about 25 minutes from downtown Abingdon.

Winding my way up the driveway, I found myself speechless from the overcast views of rocky pastures that reminded me of the Irish countryside. You already never want to leave. With 6 laughing children running about the kitchen, I chatted with Stacey and Dwayne, while taking turns holding the 2 and 4 year olds. Stacey was in the middle of roasting coffee beans. Heaven may in fact be a place on earth. Just saying.

After caffeination had taken it’s full affect, we explored the land they call home. With the youngest daughter, Rachel, by my side we walked through the garden, visited cattle, made friends with chickens, and my personal favorite…suited up and got close with some bees. Stacey and Dwayne’s oldest son, Nathan, has taken a fancy to bee-keeping, and boy is he excellent. This fearless 10 year old introduced me to the art of bee-keeping, and what’s abuzz these days with honey. I’m so sorry, I had to.

Over the course of the morning, we talked about modern-day issues that have been bouncing around in all of our heads, such as the rise of allergies and why all of a sudden our bodies can’t tolerate natural foods. Perhaps because our bodies no longer know the difference between natural and processed? It’s all a fast moving train with an evolution of folks attempting to slow it down with every fibre of their being. Our society has decided that slow is bad, fast is good. But by speeding everything up, we are negatively affecting the art and beauty of our natural systems.

Barefoot and smiling, the McIntyre children run to show me the chickens and apple tree. The work here never stops, but neither does the bounty. I feel lucky to have met this beautiful family. They sell at the Abingdon Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, as well as provide the kale for White Birch Juice Company. What can you purchase from these lovely folks? Coffee, pickles on a stick, kombucha scoby, honey, eggs, chicken, beef (I’m currently enjoying a divine tip roast), raw milk and raw cream.

Enjoy the interview and photographic journey! (Read more.)


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Rising Violent Crime in America

From The Washington Post:
In June, well before Obama’s remarks and most of the fact-checks of Trump’s claims, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri at St. Louis documented, in a study of 56 major cities conducted for the Justice Department, that homicides were up 17 percent on average. Forty of the cities saw homicides increase, and 12 of those cities saw them increase by more than 50 percent. Furthermore, data collected by the Major Cities Chiefs Association indicate that this trend has continued into 2016. In the first half of the year, homicides are up 15 percent over 2015. Non-fatal shootings (up 4 percent) and aggravated assaults (3.4 percent) both jumped in the first half of the year as well. 

Our own analysis of 20 large cities, gathered directly from publicly available police department data, finds that crime is rising overall, although the increases are spread unevenly across the country. And compared with 2014 lows, some types of violent crimes are not just rising; they are rising at alarming rates. (Read more.)
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Military Service in Tenth Century England

From Casting Light Upon the Shadow:
Just as the heriot (war gear) varied according to rank, so the military service requirement differed for men of varying resources. The king had at his disposal his household troops.* Mercenaries were employed, (the career of Thorkell the Tall is evidence of this) but in essence the composition of the fyrd was based on a territorial levy. The requirement was for one man from every five hides of land. Service was basically for sixty days, in a system of rotation, but only in times of war. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 920 tells us that “when this division of the English levies went home, the other came out on military service and occupied the fortress at Huntington.” [5] A landowner with more than five hides of land would be responsible for providing the requisite number of men.

A fine was payable for neglect of military service, and this ‘fyrd-wite’ was set at around forty shillings per man. Commutation, a payment in lieu of service, was lower, at around twenty shillings per obligation. A thegn liable to service could have his lands confiscated if he defaulted. [6] This did not necessarily mean that a thegn had to fight. He could send the required number of men without going himself; he would still be fulfilling his obligation. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Uncle Jim and Camp Perry

From CMP:
With over 60 years of marksmanship experience, Jim’s life has taken him all around the country and has allowed him to compete with some of the most recognized individuals in the world of shooting. And, it all began at Camp Perry.

“When I come to Camp Perry, there are a lot of ghosts I know, walking around,” he said. “I’ve had so many highs here.”

His first taste of Camp Perry was in 1955, when he was just 17 years old. Excited to compete in his debut 300-yard match, Jim even skipped his first week of high school just to be able to go to the National Matches. The trip was so successful that by the end, Jim, who was unclassified, left an Expert Marksman.

During his career, he has shot with the Washington State National Guard and the New York National Guard, 71st Regiment. While there, he earned his Master Classification. In 1961, he won the NRA Smallbore Sectional Match in New Jersey and helped lead the New York National Guard to a State Championship title in 1962. That same year, he moved to Baltimore and joined the Maryland State Team which went on to win the Hilton Trophy at Camp Perry for the High National Guard Team in the National Trophy Team Match. (Read more.)
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Winter of the Soul

Analyzing Game of Thrones. From Catholic Lane:
More subtly, Game of Thrones can be used to validate Machiavellian politics and shadowy character traits. Instead of mixed characters simply being portrayed as sympathetic due to the human condition, their warped aspects are made to seem acceptable and even heroic. It becomes more important to be “clever” than to be good, which is seen as nothing short of dull and unrealistic. Indeed, not only unrealistic, but illusory. To quote the character Peter Baelish: “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, given a chance to climb, they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”

This monologue summarizes much of the philosophy behind Game of Thrones. Survivors are the ones to root for, even if they get their fingernails dirty in the process. Indeed, true conversion of life and redemption of heart come to be seen as undesirable and simplistic. This is reflected in other popular series such as Wolf Hall, which features Thomas Cromwell as one such sympathetic survivor anti-hero. In contrast, Thomas More, renowned for his moral integrity, is recast as a priggish, masochistic religious fanatic. Moral orthodoxy is swiftly passing out of style, and moral ambiguity (not just within characters, but within themes) is en vogue.

But secondly, perhaps more profoundly, the celebration of anti-heroes simply reflects a growing ambiguity in society’s moral compass in which “gray is okay.” While fallen human nature is a fact of life worthy of sympathy, it is not worthy of applause. Indeed, we have come to the point when we are unable to sympathize with or applaud true acts of virtue and heroism. In the eyes of many, even the historical reality of Thomas More’s courageous refusal to betray his conscience at the cost of his own life simply demonstrated foolishness and a lack of political savvy. Even with all his internal struggles, they find him a bore precisely because he actually did conquer his fears and stand firm in his beliefs. They find more appeal in Cromwell, who might have been willing to sell out his own mother for a farthing, but at least seemed to have “street smarts”…until even he overplayed his hand by hooking up Henry VIII with homely wife number 4, an act of critical misjudgment that cost him his head! (Read more.)
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