Monday, November 12, 2018

The Most Beautiful Hotel Bathrooms in the World

From Brides:
The 3,350-square-foot Presidential Suite at The St. Regis New York is the epitome of opulence. And the carrara marble-swatched bathroom is certainly no exception. The pièce de résistance is the spa tub. Glittering above is a crystal chandelier. (Read more.)

Freedom versus Terror

From The Federalist:
Short for the German phrase, “Antifaschistische Aktion,” Antifa served as the paramilitary arm of the German Communist Party (KPD), which the Soviet Union funded. In other words, Antifa became the German Communists’ version of the Nazis’ brown-shirted SA. The KPD made no secret of Antifa’s affiliation. A 1932 photo of KPD headquarters in Berlin prominently displayed the double-flagged Antifa emblem among other Communist symbols and slogans. In a photo from the 1932 Unity Congress of Antifa in Berlin, the double-flagged banner shared space with the hammer and sickle and with two large cartoons. One supported the KPD, the other mocked the SPD, Germany’s Social Democratic Party.

Today’s Antifa embrace those roots. During February’s protest in Berkeley, masked Antifa agitators caused nearly $100,000 in damage by starting fires, breaking windows, assaulting bystanders with pepper spray and flagpoles, painting graffiti on nearby businesses, and destroying automatic teller machines. “Refuse Fascism,” the group organizing Saturday’s protests, is controlled by the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, which seeks to create a Marxist United States through violent revolution. (Read more.)

From The Daily Wire:
Matt Yglesias, co-founder and senior correspondent for the uber-left outlet, may have gone too far this time, even by his own standards. After attempting to defend Antifa terrorizing Fox News host Tucker Carlson's family and blame the threatening actions of the far-left on Carlson and the president, Yglesias not only deleted his tweet but wiped his entire timeline. "I think the idea behind terrorizing his family, like it or not as a strategy, is to make them feel some of the fear that the victims of MAGA-inspired violence feel thanks to the non-stop racial incitement coming from Tucker, Trump, etc." wrote Yglesias in a since-deleted tweet. (Read more.)

From The Federalist Papers:
 “Tonight you’re reminded that we have a voice,” Smash Racism DC wrote in a now-deleted Tweet. “Tonight, we remind you that you are not safe either.” … No arrests were made after police arrived on the scene, though there is an active investigation into the incident, Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Alaina Gertz told TheDCNF. …It is unclear why no one was arrested.

It’s also unclear who partook in the doxxing and mobbing of Carlson’s house, but it appears that Smash Racism DC began planning the action weeks ago. Smash Racism DC co-founder Mike Isaacson wrote on his blog Thursday that an active member of the group notified him that the personal information of Carlson and other “far right personalities” had been obtained. Isaacson wrote that he hasn’t worked with Smash Racism DC for three years, but he wrote that he “probably should have seen [the protest] coming” and referred to the group’s active members as his “comrades.”

“SRDC has really been on fire with the doxxes as of late,” Isaacson wrote. “Anyway, last night my SRDC comrades engaged in what’s known as ‘grassroots lobbying’ – showing up at a powerful person’s doorstep, usually at night, and generally making as much noise as possible. John Jay College fired Isaacson from his position as an economics professor after tweets surfaced of him promoting political violence and laughing at dead police officers. (Read more.)


From the Scottish Catholic Observer:
AS NOVEMBER 1918 arrived, there were many in St Patrick’s Coatbridge who were aware that the 26th of the month would mark 70 years since the first Mass in the old church, which had stood on the site of the splendid new building which had replaced it. But after four long years of war there was little call for celebration. The optimism of August 1914 had long gone. Some dared to hope that, with the German advance halted and the Allies at last making real progress, an end to the slaughter was really in sight. When the Armistice was declared on November 11 it did not stop all the fighting and dying, but it did represent a historic moment, and it is fitting that we should mark its centenary. Extensive coverage of the anniversary has made people very aware of the staggering scale of the slaughter. From school projects to TV documentaries, we have been told about the tens of millions who died.

The profound irony is that people are more aware of these large numbers than they are of their own dead. At a local level, many Catholic communities, and indeed many individual families, have lost almost all memory of their own sacrifice. I say Catholic communities because it is among them in particular that the loss of memory is so marked. In the aftermath of the war there was a widespread movement to preserve the names of The Fallen and civic memorials were erected across the country. In addition, plaques were installed in thousands of churches and schools recording the dead of particular communities.

Yet, the number of such memorials in Catholic churches, and most especially in areas of high Irish immigration, is surprisingly small. The absence of these visible reminders has meant that with the passage of time the memory has simply faded away. An important part of the explanation lies in the nature and development of the Catholic immigrant communities. In the decades before 1914, the issue of Irish Home Rule was a source of tension and debate. Coatbridge, which had been the scene of extensive Orange and Green riots in the early 1880s, was home to three of the largest branches of the United Irish League (UIL), and regularly hosted visits from the leaders of the Home Rule campaign.

With the crisis surrounding the 1912 Bill seemingly resolved in their favour by the Ireland Act of 1914, the Nationalists were eager to refute any suggestions that they were not committed to the war. The UIL asked priests throughout Britain to record the number of recruits from their churches and the figures were published to show Catholic Irish support.

In February 1915, after barely six months, the Coatbridge Catholic parishes recorded a total of 1,096 volunteers, with 370 from St Patrick’s alone. Archbishop Maguire issued an appeal for recruits and his priests echoed this. In April 1915, Fr Geerty chaired a meeting in Coatbridge at which 2,000 crammed into the theatre to hear John Dillon, who had accepted Redmond’s decision to support the war. Although Coatbridge is noted as the birthplace of Margaret Skinnider, who fought in the Easter Rising, the great majority of Coatbridge Nationalists followed Dillon and Redmond and this was reflected in the flow of recruits.

The community paid a heavy price. It lost in effect one member each week for the four years of the war. On one day alone, September 25, 1915, fifteen were killed. Most died of course in the mud of Flanders, but there was deaths from Archangel to Basra, from Jutland to Macedonia and every battlefield in between. They included 14 pairs and three trios of brothers and numerous groups of cousins and ranged in age from 18 to 50.

It is only when detailed individual family histories are reconstructed and linked to one another that something of the full extent of the collective communal tragedy experienced in one small community can be felt. Take, for example, the Phee family. Peter Phee and his wife Margaret Clenaghan lost a son who fought, and died under the name Patrick Black, because his 16-year-old younger brother had used his older brother’s identity to enlist. Margaret’s brothers John and William Clenaghan were both killed. Peter’s brother married a widow, Margaret Dillon, whose two sons William and David also died. David had married Elizabeth Martin whose first husband and brother-in-law had been killed. Peter’s sister Mary Ann married Michael Downie and her son Peter, step-son John and nephew Peter were all killed, giving a total of 10 deaths in one extended family. Besides almost every Scottish Regiment, especially the HLI and the Cameronians, and many English regiments, the Irish regiments were of course well represented, but Canadian, American and Australian regiments also had casualties from St Patrick’s.

By the time peace arrived, mothers, fathers, wives, children and grandparents came to St Patrick’s to pray for more than 200 sons of the parish. They, of course, did not need a plaque on the wall to remember the names yet it is still surprising that, as memorials were dedicated in numerous surrounding churches, none were installed in Coatbridge’s Catholic churches, and very few in the Catholic churches across the West of Scotland.

By this time, the moderate Irish party had been swept away by Sinn Fein, and perhaps the same factors which led to the Irish in Ireland virtually suppressing the memory of those who had fought for the King rather than those who had rebelled against him also led the immigrants to balk at placing patriotic dedications on the walls of their churches.

Much has changed in the century that has passed and the Irish Government has been making strenuous efforts to recognise and honour the dead of the First World War. But in the face of the deficiencies in the official Scottish Public and Church records, it is arguably even more difficult here than in Ireland to recover the Catholic soldiers of such communities as St Patrick’s. Yet as the interest and enthusiasm for the project has shown, there is now an unqualified pride in these men and their sacrifice. Long ago arguments about Empire and Home Rule no longer concern the present generation, and nor is the focus on celebrating military triumph.

Rather people are pleased to be able to learn the details of how their own ancestors lived and died. Although some held cherished family mementoes, many knew virtually nothing beyond a name. St Patrick’s also forged a brief but no less intense link with another group of young men. Given the political climate in Ireland, many who wished to join the Army chose to travel to the UK to enlist. Some with known family links to Coatbridge came there to lodge with relatives while they enlisted. But there were many others, running into hundreds, who had no known links to the town, and who came from as far south as Cork to enlist, by-passing such obvious ports as Liverpool and Glasgow. More than 80 of them were killed.

Given the central location of the church, only a few hundred yards from the principal recruiting office, it is virtually certain that Mass there would have been the last time they were to attend a proper church. Given the new mood in Ireland, many, but perhaps not all, will no doubt be remembered in their home towns, but St Patrick’s will also call them back to mind. As part of the worldwide remembrance, representatives of the great and the good will gather in St Martin’s Cathedral, Ypres, rebuilt from the ruins after the war. Fittingly, St Martin, the soldier turned monk, is claimed as a patron by both soldiers and conscientious objectors, and November 11 is his feast day. (Read more.)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Outlaw King (2018)

King and Queen of Scots
Chris Pine and Florence Pugh as Robert Bruce and Elizabeth de Burgh
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Black Douglas
Chris Pine as The Bruce
For those who crave authenticity in history-based films, I cannot recommend highly enough David Mackenzie's Outlaw King, the saga of Robert Bruce, King of Scots. It has to be one of the most historically accurate medieval films ever, including the costumes, music, sets, characters, and sequence of events. Plus the acting and the casting are superb. The battle scenes are especially authentic depictions of medieval warfare and therefore not for those who are bothered by gore. There is one brief sexual encounter between a husband and wife, and a fleeting scene of a man bathing. On the whole, the film was surprisingly no where near the graphic levels of violence and sex of most other Netflix fare. That said, it is not a family movie. Nevertheless, it shows Robert Bruce as a man of honor, sacrificing everything to fight for his people's freedom, as well as being willing to do penance for his personal sins. It also portrays a wife being faithful to her husband amid threats, violence and torture. To the main characters of the film, having one's honor was more important than having riches, lands, or life.

It is my understanding that portions of the film were cut out of the Netflix television version, including a scene of Robert Bruce meeting the hero William Wallace in the woods, and a scene of Robert Bruce watching the spider's web, a  sacrosanct part of the Bruce legend. It seems that some people complained about too much historical background. I hope someday to view the unedited, extended version. In the rendition I saw, all one sees of Wallace is one of his quarters hanging in the market place of Berwick, and his head on London bridge. Outlaw King depicts medieval life as it was in Scotland during the Wars of Independence: muddy and bloody. It rained on and off throughout the entire story; people kept doing what they were doing, fighting, marrying, hunting, feasting, in spite of the weather.

Anyone expecting a continuation of Mel Gibson's Braveheart might be disappointed. Outlaw King is an understated film about a reluctant hero who became a true hero nonetheless. Outlaw King relies upon the wry humor and gritty determination of Bruce and his men, who resolve to win back their country against insurmountable odds. Chris Pine as The Bruce is being unfairly compared to Mel Gibson's portrayal of Wallace, but they are two very different actors depicting two utterly unlike heroes. Mel Gibson's brilliance as an actor and a director seems to combine both genius and insanity with charisma, just like Wallace himself. Pine, however, is a low key actor, who projects Bruce as being plodding, thoughtful and methodical in his quest for saving Scotland but ultimately successful, mirroring the truth. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is unforgettable as Bruce's supporter Black Douglas. It is the Douglas who many years later would take the dead Bruce's heart with him to Spain and in a battle against the Moors, threw the heart at the enemy, crying; "Lead on, Brave Heart, as you have led so many times before!"

Outlaw King begins with young Robert Bruce, his several brothers and kinsmen, and his father Robert Bruce the elder, Lord of Annandale, being feted by Edward I Longshanks near Falkirk, after they have all pledged allegiance to him after a disastrous Scottish defeat. To give some background, Bruce senior had gone on crusade with Edward I when they were young and they had always been friendly. Young Robert had spent a good part of his youth at the English court and had been knighted by Edward I. He had married his first wife Isabella of Mar in the royal chapel in the presence of the English royal family. He owned lands in England and had a companionable relationship with King Edward and with his son Edward Prince of Wales, later Edward II. Bruce's beloved wife Isabella died as a result of childbirth, leaving him a daughter Marjorie, from whom the Stuarts are descended. King Edward helps arrange a new marriage for young Robert with Elizabeth de Burgh, of the Norman-Irish de Burghs.

Whiles the Bruces are making merry with the Plantagenets, the Scottish people are suffering horrifically under the English invaders. When William Wallace is captured and executed, and old Bruce dies, young Bruce is jolted from his comfortable life in his castle to take a stand on behalf of his people. He realizes that as chief claimant of the crown he is the only one who can unite the Scottish people and drive out the English. However, before charging into battle, Bruce seeks the advice and support of another powerful noble, called Red Comyn. They meet in a church for safety, since to shed blood on holy ground was sacrilege. Red Comyn is so rude to Robert Bruce, threatening him and making him so angry that Bruce loses his temper and stabs Comyn, right there on sacred ground.

Bruce is seriously repentant and goes to the local bishop to confess his sin and be absolved, before the pope excommunicates him. The bishop tells him that he needs to be crowned king before the pope hears about the sacrilege. So Bruce and his youthful wife Elizabeth and all of the Bruce clan hasten to Scone where Bruce is crowned King of Scots by Isabel MacDuff, Countess of Buchan. It was a Scottish tradition that the monarch had to be crowned by a member of the MacDuff clan. Once Bruce is crowned he is declared an outlaw by his former friend King Edward. His life becomes one of constant peril and of hiding in the hills. His lands are confiscated, his family is killed or imprisoned and anyone caught helping him is disemboweled alive, including his brother Neil.

Bruce's spirited young Irish bride Elizabeth de Burgh is magnificently brought to life by actress Florence Pugh. When Bruce marries Elizabeth she is a young teenager and so he postpones consummating the marriage until she is older. Meanwhile, they gradually fall in love and grow in profound esteem and respect for each other. When troubles fall upon the Bruce family, Elizabeth rises to the occasion, being a mother to her little step-daughter Marjorie and steadfastly refusing to abandon her marriage to Bruce in spite of pressure from her parents and the English crown. She is  tortured by being suspended in a cage from a castle wall where she kneels and prays the Pater Noster in a stunningly heartrending scene. The Countess of Buchan and Bruce's sister Mary were likewise put in cages at the order of King Edward although it is not shown in the film. Little Marjorie is taken away by a scary-looking nun. The little actress who plays Marjorie Bruce is enchanting as well able to convey the terror and confusion of a child when her family is attacked and dispersed. According to Refinery 29:
The movie takes liberties with what actually happened to the women in Robert's life while he was away fighting the English. In real life, 12-year-old Marjorie (Josie O'Brien), Elizabeth de Burgh (Florence Pugh), Robert's sisters Mary and Christina, Robert's brother Niall, and the Earl of Atholl were captured by the English as they were fleeing to the Orkey Isles. Niall and the Earl of Atholl were murdered; the women were sent to Edward I to await their punishments.
Sentenced to house arrest in the Tower of London, Elizabeth was treated the most leniently of the women, since the king didn't want to anger her father (and his ally), Richard de Burgh. Mary Bruce, not Elizabeth as in the movie, was kept in a cage for years. Edward I had actually built a similar wood and iron lattice cage built for Marjorie, but advisors convinced him to send the girl to a nunnery instead, where she was kept in solitary confinement. She remained there for seven years. After Scottish victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Robert was able to exchange English noblemen for his wife, daughter, and sisters. (Read more.)
I must point out that the violence in the film intensifies after the MacDougall clan (my ancestors) come rampaging through the glen. Bruce asked them for help but instead they attack him because of the death of Red Comyn. The MacLachlans, from whom I am also descended, refuse to help Bruce although later they come around. Better late than never. The film ends after the Scots win a decisive victory against the English, although complete victory is not yet won, which leaves me hoping for a sequel about Bannockburn.

The ladies of the Bruce family
Elizabeth protects Marjorie from seeing Uncle Neil executed
For reviews go HERE,and HERE. From the soundtrack, HERE. Share

Honoring Victims of Communism

From Breitbart:
President Donald Trump marked the National Day for the Victims of Communism for the second year running on Wednesday, a day that honors the over 100 million killed in the name of that ideology.... “On the National Day for the Victims of Communism, we honor the memory of the more than 100 million people who have been killed and persecuted by communist totalitarian regimes,” read the statement. “We also reaffirm our steadfast support for those who strive for peace, prosperity, and freedom around the world.”
It continues:
Since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, we have witnessed the effects of the tyrannical communist ideology—anguish, repression, and death.  Communism subordinates inherent human rights to the purported well-being of all, resulting in the extermination of religious freedom, private property, free speech, and, far too often, life.  These horrors have included Ukrainians deliberately starved in the Holodomor, Russians purged in the Great Terror, Cambodians murdered in the killing fields, and Berliners shot as they tried to escape to freedom.  The victims of these and many other atrocities bear silent testimony to the undeniable fact that communism, and the pursuit of it, will forever be destructive to the human spirit and to the prosperity of mankind.
“Today, we remember all who have been denied the great blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness under oppressive communist regimes,” it concludes. “Together, we mourn the unbearable losses so many have endured under communism, and we renew our pledge to continue advancing the cause of freedom and opportunity for all.” Marion Smith, the Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Foundation, which seeks to educate people about the stark reality of history’s socialist and communist experiments, welcomed the statments. (Read more.)

Benjamin Franklin Sails to France, Oct. 26, 1776

From Politico:
On this day in 1776, one month to the day after the Continental Congress named him ambassador to the court of King Louis XVI, Benjamin Franklin, at age 70, set sail from Philadelphia for Paris with the mission of helping to negotiate a formal alliance between France and the rebellious British colonies in North America. Scientific and literary circles feted the accomplished colonial envoy. He learned to speak French, albeit haltingly, soon becoming a familiar and popular fixture in high Parisian society. He declined, however, to wear a powdered wig, unlike nearly all the aristocrats with whom he associated.

As the Encyclopedia Britannica noted, Franklin violated protocol by dressing “in a simple brown-and-white linen suit and wore a fur cap, no wig, and no sword to the court of Versailles, the most formal and elaborate court in all of Europe. And the French aristocracy and court loved it, caught up as they were with the idea of America. ... His face appeared everywhere — on medallions, on snuffboxes, on candy boxes, in rings, in statues, in prints; women even did their hair à la Franklin.”
Franklin’s diplomatic successes, however, were slower in coming. Although the French had been secretly aiding the American rebels, providing them with military supplies since the outbreak of the revolution, they balked at signing a formal allegiance with the patriots until an American victory over the British crown became more assured. It was not until the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777 that French policymakers sensed the Americans might in time defeat their powerful foe and win the war. (Read more.)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Pull-apart Bread

From Hummingbird High:
When I worked in corporate, I've never been the kind of person who glorified being busy. I always tried to work smarter, trying (but not always succeeding) to contain all my work within the 8-hour-day/40-hour-work-week. Because let me be honest with you: the work I did, which was hard and boring and consisted of me and my team moving data from one database to another in faster and more efficient ways, was NOT saving anybody's life. To me, it was always more important that me and my team members went home to get well-rested and motivated for the next day.

So I was especially excited to find myself home after all my work travels with a calendar completely clear and free of any commitments for the week. Blank calendars excite me; it's almost as if I've been given permission to tackle a time-consuming baking project like this incredibly delicious pumpkin pull-apart bread. (Read more.)

The Victimization of Roger Scruton

From The Spectator:
‘Once identified as right-wing you are beyond the pale of argument,’ wrote Sir Roger Scruton. ‘Your views are irrelevant, your character discredited, your presence in the world a mistake. You are not an opponent to be argued with, but a disease to be shunned. This has been my experience.’ Unfortunately, that experience is due to intensify for the 74-year-old conservative philosopher. Last weekend, the government announced it had set up a commission to try and make new housing developments ‘beautiful’ and appointed Sir Roger as its chair. It’s one of the few sensible things the present government has done; so, of course, it’s caused a scandal.

Within minutes of Sir Roger’s appointment, the offence archaeologists had gone to work, digging through everything he’d written in the hope of finding ‘inappropriate’ comments they could be outraged by. It didn’t take them long, and earlier this week the mob started to form up. His most egregious sin, we are told, was giving a speech in Hungary in which he said that many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish and ‘form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire’. Taken out of context, that looks as if Scruton is endorsing an anti-Semitic trope, particularly if you simplify it to remove any of the nuance, which is what the Daily Mirror did. ‘New Tory housing tsar claimed Hungarian Jews form part of “Soros Empire”,’ screamed its headline.

But if you bother to read the speech, you’ll discover that its subject is a defence of nationalism and how it came to be regarded as toxic by the architects of the European project. The reason he brings up the fact that some of the pro-EU Hungarian intelligentsia are Jewish is because he goes on to explain that they, along with George Soros, are ‘rightly suspicious of nationalism’ since they see it as being ‘the major cause of the tragedy of Central Europe in the 20th century’. He then makes it clear that this isn’t the sort of nationalism he is defending. Rather, the creed he has in mind is loyalty to the nation state and, in the very same paragraph, he lambasts the ‘indigenous anti-Semitism’ that ‘still plays a part in Hungarian society and politics’ because it is ‘an obstacle to the emergence of a shared national loyalty among ethnic Hungarians and Jews’ — which is something he would like to see.
This is not, then, an example of Scruton ‘aping’ Viktor Orbán’s ‘insinuations of Jewish conspiracy’, as the left-wing website Red Roar would have us believe. On the contrary, he was criticising anti-Semitism in that speech — and the reference to its continuing presence in Hungarian politics feels like a swipe at Orbán.

Other comments by Scruton have been taken out of context to rev up the outrage machine, including some mildly sceptical remarks about ‘Islamophobia’ in The Spectator. The offending passage reads: ‘If you express outrage at crimes committed by Muslims against women, and hint that Islam might have something to do with it, you will be accused of “Islamophobia”.’ I can’t say I feel particularly ‘triggered’ by that, but then again I hired Scruton to write the column those words appeared in.

Numerous Labour MPs have now called for Scruton’s scalp, including Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary. ‘Nobody holding those views has a place in modern democracy,’ he told BuzzFeed, momentarily forgetting Jeremy Corbyn’s attic full of baggage. ‘The prime minister needs to finally show some leadership and sack Scruton with an investigation into how he was appointed in the first place.’

Yes, let’s have an investigation into how a fellow of the British Academy, the recipient of the Czech Republic’s Medal of Merit and the author of more than 50 books, including The Classical Vernacular: Architectural Principles in an Age of Nihilism, was asked to lead a commission on the aesthetics of new housing developments. Or rather, let’s ask the Commissioner for Public Appointments to look into how a bona fide conservative managed to end up in a public position. Didn’t the Prime Minister learn her lesson when she was foolish enough to appoint me to the Office for Students? Tsk, tsk.

This is what the left in this country has been reduced to — online metal-detectorists searching the internet for material they can pretend to be shocked by. Sir Roger Scruton is one of the great intellects of our age and these commissars of political correctness aren’t fit to tie his boots. (Read more.)