Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Edith Tolkien

Image source
Edith Bratt Tolkien
I finally saw the Tolkien film and enjoyed it, although it took a few liberties with the facts. It made me want to do my own research on Tolkien's Lúthien, Edith Mary. From The Council of Elrond:
Edith was born in Gloucester on the 21st January 1889, the illegitimate daughter of Frances Bratt. Her mother had never married, and never named the father on the birth certificate though she did keep a photograph of him, and his identity was known to the Bratt family. It is not known whether Edith ever knew her father’s name. Frances brought her daughter up in Handsworth, Birmingham, and Edith had a relatively happy childhood, surrounded by both her mother and her cousin, Jennie Grove. She grew to be remarkably pretty, small and slim, with grey eyes and short dark hair.She quickly showed a talent for music, and played the piano very well.
When Frances died, Edith was sent to Dresden House School in Evesham, a girls’ boarding school that specialised in music. There she met Mabel Sheaf, who continued to be a close friend throughout Edith’s life. By the time she left, Edith was expected to be able to make a career as a piano teacher, or maybe even a concert pianist. However, her guardian, the family solicitor, didn’t really know what to do with the girl. He found her a room at Mrs Faulkner’s, supposing that her landlady’s fondness for music would provide a sympathetic atmosphere and a piano for practice. However, Mrs Faulkner only wanted Edith to play and accompany soloists at her soirees, and would not give her the time to practice. To add slightly to the problem, there was no urgency for Edith to seek employment as she had inherited a small amount of land in various parts of Birmingham, and the rent from these provided her with just enough income to live on.

 She met the Tolkien brothers at Mrs Faulkner’s and found them very pleasant, particularly John Ronald. Edith and Tolkien soon became allies against “The Old Lady” and took to frequenting Birmingham tea-shops together. They particularly liked a tea-shop with a balcony overlooking the pavement from which they could throw sugar lumps into the hats of passers-by. Romance was almost inevitable. Both Edith and Tolkien were orphans in need of affection, and they found that they could give it to each other. In the summer of 1904, they decided that they were in love.
In 1909, towards the end of the autumn term, Tolkien and Edith arranged to go for a secret ride in the countryside. But Fr Francis found out, and was deeply shaken by the romance. The priest considered himself a father figure to Tolkien, and demanded that the love affair should stop for both propriety’s, and Tolkien’s, sake. However, he did not specifically bid Tolkien not to see Edith, and so, with the ingenuity of youth, they decided that they could continue to meet clandestinely. One day they spent an afternoon together, taking a train out into the countryside. Another day they went to a jewellers where Edith bought Tolkien a pen for his 18th birthday, and he bought her a wrist-watch for her 21st birthday.
After some time of this secrecy, Edith decided she had to move away from the situation, and she took up an offer of lodgings in a house in Cheltenham with an elderly solicitor and his wife. Soon after that, Fr Francis heard word of their previous meetings, and he banned Tolkien from seeing Edith, only allowing him to see her once more to say good-bye. He put a ban on their communication until Tolkien was 21 – three years away. But until she left Birmingham, Tolkien looked for her everywhere he went, and they did manage a few accidental meetings. But then, as recorded in Tolkien’s diary, Fr Francis found out that they were still seeing each other: (Read more.)
More HERE.

Meanwhile, I am listening to this:

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FBI’s Russia FISA

To understand just how shoddy the FBI’s work was in securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting the Trump campaign, you only need to read an obscure attachment to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report. Appendix 1 identifies the total violations by the FBI of the so-called Woods Procedures, the process by which the bureau verifies information and assures the FISA court its evidence is true. 
The Appendix identifies a total of 51 Woods procedure violations from the FISA application the FBI submitted to the court authorizing surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page starting in October 2016. A whopping nine of those violations fell into the category called: “Supporting document shows that the factual assertion is inaccurate.” 
For those who don’t speak IG parlance, it means the FBI made nine false assertions to the FISA court. In short, what the bureau said was contradicted by the evidence in its official file. To put that in perspective, former Trump aides Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos were convicted of making single false statements to the bureau. One went to jail already, and the other awaits sentencing. The FBI made nine false statements to the court. (Read more.)

From Trending Politics:
The Department of Justice's Inspector General Michael Horowitz released the FISA Application report on Monday, detailing the reasoning for the FBI's spying on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. "The Department of Justice (Department) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) undertook this review to examine certain actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department during an FBI investigation opened on July 31, 2016, known as "Crossfire Hurricane," into whether individuals associated with the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign were coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election," the report starts. 
For reasons unknown, the inspector general claims that the start of the investigation was justified, however he also admits that their was extreme bias against then-candidate Donald Trump. This kind of lax vetting would have never been acceptable by Democrats if it was against someone like former President Barack Obama. "We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions" to open investigations into four Trump campaign aides," the report says. 
Shortly after the original report was released US Attorney John Durham released a rare statement, saying that his investigation does not coincide with the main conclusions found in the IG report. “I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” John Durham said. 
Attorney General Bill Barr also released a statement of his own, shredding the FBI for their reasoning on why they started the investigation in the first place.“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," Barr said. (Read more.) 

From The Epoch Times:
“We identified at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications, and many additional errors in the Woods Procedures,” the report states, referring to the procedures guiding the verification of claims in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications. “These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to OI and failing to flag important issues for discussion,” the report continues, referring to the Office of Intelligence and the National Security Division at the FBI. Horowitz concluded that the errors and other failures constitute “serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents.” (Read more.) 

Also from Trending Politics:
The Department of Justice's Inspector General Michael Horowitz released the FISA Application report on Monday, detailing the reasoning for the FBI's spying on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. While the report claims that the start of the investigation was justified, Inspector General Horowitz lays out seventeen “inaccuracies and omissions” that weren't shown to the Office of Intelligence before the FISA application was filed. Check out seven of the inaccuracies and omissions below relating to the first FISA application:
Omitted information from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an operational contact for the other agency from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application;
Included a source characterization statement asserting that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by Steele’s FBI handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures; 
Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1, a key Steele sub-source (who, as previously noted, was attributed with providing the information in Report 95 and some of the information in Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in the application), namely that (1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a “boaster” and an “egoist” and “may engage in some embellishment” and (2) [redacted] 
Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele did not directly provide to the press information in the September 23 Yahoo News article, based on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that he only shared his election-related research with the FBI and [Fusion GPS Founder Glenn] Simpson; this premise was factually incorrect (Steele had provided direct information to Yahoo News) and also contradicted by documentation in the Woods File-Steele had told the FBI that he also gave his information to the State Department; 
Omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI CHS in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of emails; 
Omitted Page’s statements to an FBI CHS [Confidential Human Source] in August 2016 that Page had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page’s emails; if true, those statements were in tension with claims in Steele’s Report 95 that Page was participating in a “conspiracy” with Russia by acting as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign; and 
Selectively included Page’s statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Page was an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements contradicted the claims in Steele’s Report 94 that Page had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton. (Read more.) 
 From The Right Scoop:
MSNBC has just released an interview with AG Bill Barr where he drops some cold, hard truth about the Russia investigation that will be most uncomfortable for liberal ears, especially because it defends Trump from an egregious and baseless attack by both the FBI and the media. In this first clip, Barr explains why he believes the FBI acted inappropriately to begin their investigation of the Trump campaign and points out that there never has been any evidence of collusion, despite the hounding the Trump administration has received over the last three years: (Read more.)

From Breitbart:
During a portion of an interview with NBC’s Pete Williams that aired on Tuesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Attorney General William Barr said the FBI ignored exculpatory evidence when obtaining FISA warrants in the investigation of any possible Trump campaign ties with Russia. Barr said, “From day one — remember, they said, okay, we’re not going to talk to the campaign. We’re going to put people in there, rile them up and have conversations with people involved in the campaign because that way, we’ll get the truth. From the very first day of this investigation, which is July 31st, 2016, all the way to its end, September 2017, there was not one incriminatory bit of evidence to come in. It was all exculpatory. The people with the tapings denied it with Russia, denied the specific facts that the FBI was relying on. So what happens? The FBI ignores it, presses ahead, withholds that information from the court, withholds critical exculpatory information from the court while it gets an electronic surveillance warrant. It also withholds from the court clear cut evidence that the dossier that they ultimately relied on to get the FISA warrant was a complete sham.” (Read more.)
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An Historic Manuscript

From the BBC:
It was while searching in the library for translations of Tacitus that Dr John-Mark Philo found the mysterious 42-page manuscript. He established it was written on a very specific kind of paper, which had "gained special prominence" in the Tudor Court in the 1590s. "There was, however, only one translator at the Tudor court to whom a translation of Tacitus was ascribed by a contemporary, and who was using the same paper in her translations and private correspondence - the queen herself," added Dr Philo.

A further clue was the presence of three watermarks - a rampant lion and the initials G.B with a crossbow countermark - which are also found on the paper Elizabeth I used in her personal correspondence. But the clinching argument was the handwriting. The translation was copied by one of her secretaries but it is covered in corrections and additions which match the queen's highly distinctive, indeed rather messy, hand. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Common Sense Advice for Eating in Company

From author Mimi Matthews:
With the holiday season well under way, it seems an appropriate time to review a few of the many Victorian era rules for dining in company. The etiquette of the table hasn’t changed a great deal over the years. Some rules are merely a matter of basic common sense. Nevertheless, we could all do with a refresher now and then. To that end, I’ve gathered ten tips from various Victorian era etiquette books and articles addressing the basics of dining etiquette. I present them to you below.

1) Remove Your Gloves
“At the time of taking refreshment, of course, they must be taken off. No well-educated person would eat in gloves.”
Etiquette for Ladies, 1843.
2) Don’t Eat Too Much or Too Little
“Be careful to avoid the extremes of gluttony or over daintiness at table. To eat enormously is disgusting; but if you eat too sparingly, your host may think that you despise his fare.”
The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, 1874.
3) Eat and Drink Quietly
“It is decidedly vulgar to make a noise, either in taking the food into the mouth, in its mastication, or in swallowing.”
Good Housekeeping, 1893.
4) Don’t Chew with Your Mouth Open
“Do not fill your mouth so full that you cannot answer if you are addressed; nor open your mouth so wide during the process of chewing that your opposite neighbor may see the semi-chewed viands, which, if she be a delicate lady, might destroy her appetite altogether.”
The Golden Rule and Oddfellows Family Companion, 1847.
5) Don’t Abstain from Taking the Last Piece
“Avoid also, that most vulgar habit which prevails among half-bred country people, of abstaining from taking the last piece on a dish. It amounts almost to an insult toward your host, to do any thing which shows that you fear that the vacancy cannot be supplied and that there is likely to be a scarcity.”
                                                                                                      Etiquette for Gentlemen, 1847
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The Real Reason the Dems Want Trump Gone

From Townhall:
The calls to remove Donald Trump from office began before Donald Trump assumed office. They’ve wanted him gone from pre-day one and remain determined to run him off Pennsylvania Avenue by hook, crook, or any other means necessary. If not for firing James Comey, then go to Michael Flynn. If that peters out there’s Stormy and Avenatti. No traction? Russian collusion. Didn’t get him? Ukraine’s up next. The effort to oust Trump has been nonstop for three years and shows no signs of slowing.

Why? Why is the inside-the-beltway permanent political class so determined to send Trump packing? Because he’s not a member of “The Club.” Yes Trump is ruff, gruff, combative, and bombastic, but there’s lots of Club members who are all of those things, yet they’ve been around Washington for decades. Truth is that The Club has been effectively insulating itself from the American people, enriching itself and its family members by burying self-pay schemes in the largess of government, and Trump is a threat. There are dark corners inside The Club’s clubhouse, lots of them, and Trump is wandering around with a flashlight.

Upon her private email server being subpoenaed by a congressional investigative committee, Hillary Clinton sent the computer to be professionally wiped clean of all files and then turned it over. Yet, the same people who expressed no interest in pursuing that clear obstruction of justice have been calling secondhand witnesses to a phone call, whose transcript has already been made public! (Read more.)

Andrew Klavan on the painful American truth at The Daily Wire:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s daughter once said her mother would “cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding.” But at her Thursday press conference, Pelosi looked instead like someone who had been cut off at the knees and could not stump her way out of the mess she was in. Pelosi’s pitifully transparent lie that her party’s attempts to impeach President Trump had “absolutely nothing to do with politics” and her embarrassing rant that her Catholic upbringing had taught her a “heart full of love and to always pray for the president,” were not — despite the left’s desperate #don’tmesswithNancy spin — signs of strength but of panic and weakness. Her party’s ascendant left flank has maneuvered her into a position that is both morally and politically unfeasible, and she knows it. Unless moderate Blue Dogs somehow manage to thwart the vote, Pelosi will be forced to “lead” her party into precisely the partisan and ill-prepared impeachment she warned against for so long.

While I confess the vengeful Little Rascal that dwells within my breast hopes that this pack of Democrat fools is walking straight into Cocaine Mitch’s House of Horrors — a long drawn-out Senate trial that will include subpoenas for Hunter and Joe Biden and perhaps the phone records of McCarthyite bad guy Adam Schiff — it may be that cooler rascals will prevail. As they did during the vicious attempt to smear Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his crew may simply choose to let the public judge for themselves between the left’s hysterical abuse of the system and the right’s fair and balanced adherence to procedure. Donald Trump may suffer from occasional lack of impulse control, but it’s pretty clear which side has utterly lost it now.

What’s sad to me about all this noise, is that it drowns out the quieter voices discussing the things that really matter: why the wiser people in this country elected Donald Trump in the first place, and what his election tells us about the nation’s pain. The left’s ferocious defense of the power of its unconstitutional and unconscionable deep state, and the Never Trump right’s continued eye-rolling about the president’s attempts to give some semblance of fairness and sanity to our international political and trade relations both ignore what, to me, is the most important fact about our current political moment. (Read more.)

From Mark Levin on Fox News:
Alan Dershowitz: It would be unconstitutional for President Trump to be impeached on the current record. It would be an utter abuse of the power of Congress. The Constitution sets out four criteria for impeaching a president. Treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Unless one of those criteria is met, Congress does not have the authority to impeach, and if they do, their impeachment would be void. Alexander Hamilton said any act of Congress that is inconsistent with the Constitution is void. Now, Congress maybe can get away with impeaching because there won't be judicial review. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't be violating their oath of office. They would be abusing their power if they impeached President Trump on this record. (Read more.)

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Why Neanderthals Went Extinct

From Vintage News:
Any parent can tell you that babies get ear infections; sometimes they get them often. That’s because a baby’s Eustachian tubes are at an angle that is relatively flat. As a result of the angle, otitis media bacteria tends to linger in them, rather than draining, and can cause infections. As human babies grow, and their heads get larger, their Eustachian tubes also grow, which changes the angle of their position and improves drainage. For humans, by the time a child starts school, the incidence of ear infections has reduced significantly.

For Neanderthals, the relatively flat angle of their Eustachian tubes remained unchanged into adulthood, meaning that they never lost the higher potential for ear infections. Furthermore, ear infections can easily lead to developing other complications, such as meningitis, respiratory infections, hearing loss, or even pneumonia. Unlike in the modern era, when such ailments can be easily addressed with antibiotics, for the Neanderthals, the potential for such infections and the complications that can come with them would be both lifelong and impossible to effectively treat.
 
Besides making it more likely that the sufferer may die of an infection, there would have been other, lifelong implications. People who are ill aren’t functioning at their best capacity, which impairs their ability to do the things they need to do to survive. Shortness of breath would be a serious barrier to being an effective hunter. The inability to hear a dangerous animal or enemy coming at you until it was nearby would significantly decrease your chances of making an effective defense or escape. Such indirect consequences would generally make it harder to effectively compete for resources against your rivals, including Homo sapiens.

Looked at from that perspective, it’s not that surprising that Homo sapiens won the contest. There are a couple of things that made this study so unique. One of them is that it gave researchers a totally unexpected insight into something that science has been puzzled by for a very long time. Another thing that’s fascinating is that something on such an enormous scale, the extinction of an entire species, could have been caused by something so small and unexpected. (Read more.)
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Monday, December 9, 2019

Coins from Imperial Russia

Found in Moscow. From Express:
A chest containing 60 coins believed to have been in circulation in the 19th and 20th centuries was discovered in the basement of a dilapidated building, Russia’s state news agency TASS reports. The find is estimated to be worth up to 1 million rubles, or £2,200. The discovery in the downtown area of Moscow marks one of the most valuable archaeological finding in the city this year. Tsar Nicholas II, the country’s last emperor, from November 1894 until March 1917 when he was forced to abdicate. Nicholas and his family – Tsarina Alexandra, Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duchess Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei – were brutally executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. (Read more.)
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Bo Snerdley's New Journey PAC

I love Mr. Snerdley. From WND:
To Rush Limbaugh listeners, he's the man behind the man behind the golden microphone. But James Golden -- professionally known as Rush producer “Bo Snerdley” -- is stepping forward as the 2020 presidential election looms near with a new medium and new mission. He’s co-founded a political action committee -- the New Journey PAC -- aimed at building conservative support among black Americans. That’s a voting group which has been key to Democratic election strategy for decades, but Golden and his partners are aiming to change that. And they’re going to use the reality of Donald Trump’s presidency to do it.

“For 80 years, the Democratic Party has taken the black vote for granted. Under the leadership of President Trump, Black-Americans enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded. The Trump approach has produced an economy that works for all Americans, yet Democrats are promising more of the same -- votes for crumbs. It is simply not enough to stand on the sidelines and hope for the best,” Golden and conservative activist Autry Pruitt say in PAC’s mission statement, according to The Washington Times. There’s no doubt Trump has built an economic record to be proud of, particularly as it relates to record-low unemployment rates for blacks and Hispanics. (Read more.)

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