Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Release from Deception

From My Modern Met:
For centuries, sculptors around the world have adopted marble as their medium of choice. In order to both illustrate marble’s carving capabilities and showcase their own sculpting skills, these artists often select subjects that require a certain level of expertise. These challenging motifs include anatomical details, dynamic drapery, and, in the case of Il Disinganno, delicate netting. Every piece of this incredible sculpture is carved out of marble, including the carefully crafted knots in the draping net wrapped around the large figure of a fisherman. The Release from Deception depicts a scene that is both biblical and allegorical. It features two subjects: an angel and a fisherman. The angel stands on a globe as he untangles the man from a net and floats above exquisite drapery. (Read more.)

We Are a Republic, Not a Democracy

From Intellectual Takeout:
Many people whine that using the Electoral College instead of the popular vote and majority rule is undemocratic. I’d say that they are absolutely right. Not deciding who will be the president by majority rule is not democracy. But the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure that we were a republic and not a democracy. In fact, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or any other of our founding documents. How about a few quotations expressed by the Founders about democracy?

In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wanted to prevent rule by majority faction, saying, “Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.” John Adams warned in a letter, “Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.” Edmund Randolph said, “That in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.” Then-Chief Justice John Marshall observed, “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

The Founders expressed contempt for the tyranny of majority rule, and throughout our Constitution, they placed impediments to that tyranny. Two houses of Congress pose one obstacle to majority rule. That is, 51 senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators. The president can veto the wishes of 535 members of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto. To change the Constitution requires not a majority but a two-thirds vote of both houses, and if an amendment is approved, it requires ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures. (Read more.)

Are we headed towards a new civil war? From  The American Thinker:
In “No Hate Left Behind,” Thomas Edsall cites a study from political scientists Nathan Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason on the growing ease at which Americans are willing to employ violence against their partisan opponents. “Just over 42 percent of the people in each party view the opposition as ‘downright evil,’” Edsall despairs, unaware that one of his byline colleagues once suggested “good people can’t be Republicans.” The data only gets worse from there. When asked if their favored party loses the 2020 presidential election, “18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said violence would be justified on a scale ranging from ‘a little’ to ‘a lot.’”

One wonders the difference between a “little” violence and “a lot.” Perhaps a walloping with a bar of soap stuffed in a sock is seen as a small-beer beating compared to the guillotine or firing squad? Sure, there’s the difference in degree, but as any victim of domestic abuse can tell you, soft beatings inevitably turn hard. Then there’s the question of ontological moral status. The researchers found that “nearly one out of five Republicans and Democrats agree with the statement that their political adversaries ‘lack the traits to be considered fully human — they behave like animals.’” (Read more.)

From The Federalist:
I am a middle-of-the-road Republican who voted for Trump with the utmost reluctance in 2016. He sure wasn’t perfect. He was no Cicero, either––though he can give a decent speech when the chips are down. He had a few extra skeletons rattling in his closet, especially compared to colorless non-entities like Jeb. So yeah, I was queasy about voting for an ex-registered-Democrat-from-New-York-and-possible-liberal-now-turned-Republican.

Was I worried? Hell, yeah! Was I depressed? You bet. But, really, what options were there? Hillary? Jill Stein? Seriously? Trump wasn’t my first choice or my second choice or my third choice, but by the time November 2016 rolled around, Trump was the only choice on the menu. So I swallowed hard, took a leap of faith, and pulled the lever for the Donald.

And let me tell ya, every time one of these newly minted Democratic “stars” opens their mouth, the same thought goes through my mind: Thank God for Trump. Trump is my last line of defense. Trump is the only thing that stands between me and these hallucinogenic socialist nut jobs. Trump is what’s keeping chaos and left-wing insanity at bay. (Read more.)

Henry VIII and the Westminster Tournament

From Medievalists:
Henry celebrated the birth of his much-desired son with Katherine by hosting a grand tournament in Westminster. This might seem like the ultimate romantic gesture, but, in fact, the star of this show was Henry and no one else. Henry was the second son of the previous king, Henry VII, and was never meant to be king (that honour should have gone to his brother, Arthur). When Arthur died, the young Henry was dragged from his life of courtly leisure and into a role he hadn’t been prepared for. Henry brought with him his love of jousting – and all the extravagance, spectacle, and intense competition that came along with it. Unlike the popular modern image of the elderly, corpulent Henry, as a young man the king was slim and fit and bursting with energy.

The tournament was held over two days: 12-13 February. The cost for those two days came to over £4,000 – a hefty sum. The announcement for the event came in the form of an elaborate allegorical letter, which was said to be sent out by the queen of the land of Cuere Noble, who was sending her four champions to joust against any who wished to challenge them. These champions were to include, of course, Henry, jousting under the moniker Noble Cuere Loyall, and three other prominent knights of his court, each of whom also competed under assumed names – a romantic tradition common to the form of tournament known as a pas d’armes held in the prosperous court of Burgundy. (Read more.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Why You Shouldn’t Sleep With Your Boyfriend

From Regina:
For 2000 years, the Church has regarded marriage as a sacrament, an outward sign of God’s grace. This is in contrast to most religions, where marriage is a contract, which can be terminated when one or the other partner is unhappy. Marriage was instituted – like all other sacraments – as a way to help you get to heaven. A Catholic husband knows what his job is: to help his wife and children get to heaven. That’s his Prime Directive: He needs to do whatever needs to be done to help his wife and children be holy. Why? Because he loves them, and he wants eternal life for them and himself.

This is why he works hard to earn a living. Not so he can have all the latest toys. That is called selfishness – just the same as you blowing all your money shopping.  This is why he insists on practicing your Faith. Not because he’s weird. Because he knows that is the way to grow closer and stay in the state of grace. This is why he helps you whenever he can. Not because he’s a fair-minded feminist. Because he knows you need help, and he wants to make your life better. Why? Because that will help you be holier—and get you to heaven. This is why he avoids pornography, excessive drinking, gambling, drugs and womanizing. Not because he’s boring. Because he knows all of that is ‘sin’ — the road to deep unhappiness for you, for him and for your future children.

So, does your boyfriend know all this? Do you think he is capable of committing himself to this goal, for the rest of his life? (Read more.)

Meanwhile, the hook-up culture is making people miserable. From Evie:
Oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “love hormone,” is one of the chemicals your body releases during sex. It encourages bonding behavior in us, and also inclines us toward trust, empathy, and relaxation. This same hormone is released in women during childbirth and breastfeeding as well, and considering how strong we know the bonds are between mothers and their children, it should give you an idea of how powerful this chemical can be. Oxytocin has been cited as one of the biological mechanisms promoting monogamy in humans, which incidentally, puts our bodies in direct odds with the concept of casual sex. 
Feelings of emptiness and unhappiness that people report after casual hook-ups aren’t a sign that they just need to “get over it” or that they’re “too clingy.” They’re a completely natural response to pair-bonding with someone who won’t actually be sticking around for the close relationship your brain has now conditioned you for. And what’s even more distressing is that some people may think that yet another hook-up is exactly what’s needed to cure that hollowness. In reality though, engaging in more sex that lacks the accompanying emotional intimacy will likely only exacerbate the feelings of emotional vulnerability, not heal them. (Read more.) 

The Hidden Nightmare

From The New York Times:
On America’s southern border, migrant women and girls are the victims of sexual assaults that most often go unreported, uninvestigated and unprosecuted. Even as women around the world are speaking out against sexual misconduct, migrant women on the border live in the shadows of the #MeToo movement. The stories are many, and yet all too similar. Undocumented women making their way into American border towns have been beaten for disobeying smugglers, impregnated by strangers, coerced into prostitution, shackled to beds and trees and — in at least a handful of cases — bound with duct tape, rope or handcuffs.

The New York Times found dozens of documented cases through interviews with law enforcement officials, prosecutors, federal judges and immigrant advocates around the country, and a review of police reports and court records in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The review showed more than 100 documented reports of sexual assault of undocumented women along the border in the past two decades, a number that most likely only skims the surface, law enforcement officials and advocates say. In addition, interviews with migrant women and those working with them along the border point to large numbers of cases that are either unreported or unexamined, suggesting that sexual violence has become an inescapable part of the collective migrant journey. (Read more.)

Everyday Beauty

From The Spectator:
Our need for belonging is part of what we are and it is the true foundation of aesthetic judgment. Lose sight of it and we risk building an environment in which function triumphs over all other values, the aesthetic included. It is not that there is a war of styles — any style can prove acceptable if it generates a real settlement, and the point is recognised by a great range of contemporary architects, and not only by those committed to some traditional grammar. The issue is no longer about style wars but about a growing recognition of the deep truth that we build in order to belong. Many committed modernists begin from this truth — for example, Alain de Botton in The Architecture of Happiness and Rowan Moore in Why We Build. Among the new settlements that are proving popular there are as many built in polite modernist styles as there are in some kind of traditional vernacular. The important point is that all of us, the homeless and the disadvantaged as much as those who have invested their savings in a property, wish for a house that is also a home. (Read more.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"New information!"

From an Audible customer on Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars:
This book had tons of new tidbits I previously didn’t know about Marie Antoinette as well as corrections to facts I THOUGHT I knew. As it turns out much of the “common knowledge” about this remarkable woman lacks context or according to this author is flat out false. It was really very interesting and the whole book just flew by. The narrator was smooth and unobtrusive, had a very pleasant cultured voice, and did a fantastic job with a LOT of French to pronounce. I’m easy bumped by narrators that mispronounce words or try accents they can’t pull off - not a problem with this book and narrator. Definitely worth the credit.

And another:
By now, most savvy audiobook and physical book buyers know you must discern who wrote a biography or history and what is their ideological and methodological slant. I've read almost all of the biographies of Marie Antoinette and as a professional historian, I know that Elena Maria Vidal got it right with "Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars." Instead of the prevalent views portrayed in recent fluff-piece movies and popular books, Vidal has captured her essential qualities and authoritative historiography in an accessible, entertaining, and what is essentially a Christian view of a devout Catholic queen. Readers of any religious confession can be informed and edified by this much-needed correction of the "let them eat cake" myths that surround this martyr of the French Revolution. One small example is Vidal's clearing up what the French word dissipation actually means —love of distraction, not the love of fast living — which only a scholar of all things French would understand to be faux amis. The secularists have taken it and run with it!

This biography is of great interest to Catholic readers who'd appreciate the devotional quality of this historical - not ahistorical - view of the Queen's life and French history which is greatly tainted by modern prejudices and secular blather.

Socialism’s Bloody History

Socialism and communism both involve ceding to the state control over the distribution of goods and services for the masses. This involves giving up individual rights, and giving the state a good measure of control over our personal lives. This road always leads to tyranny, no matter what you pave it with, and no matter what you name it. 
Socialism requires a power clique—or, as Lenin put it, an elite “vanguard”—in order to pretend to function. This means going heavy on executive power and rubber-stamp light on the legislative. Socialism demands that we place blind trust in whoever takes the reins of power to distribute society’s goods and services. This tiny elite, by the way, typically enjoys enormous privileges and a much higher standard of living than the hoi polloi, simply by being a part of the elite “nomenklatura.” (Read more.)
Here are the steps from socialism to societal breakdown:
Step 1. Massive Government Spending. Socialist states have government at the center of their economies and feature enormous spending programs. In early 1990s Sweden often cited as a socialist state, government spending exceeded 70 percent of its economy.  Under President Jefferson, government spending was approximately 2 to 3 percent of the economy. Today, we are at 36 percent. Sweden, now walking away from socialism, has reduced its spending share to just over 50 percent. Government education, retirement, and medical care -- nearly cradle to grave spending -- are three cornerstones of future socialist states. Obama once said you can create a governing majority of those dependent on government. Elizabeth Warren is now promoting “universal child care,” which would extend that dependence.

Step 2. Massive Tax Systems that Reduce Incentives. Increased tax burdens go hand-in-hand with spending.  Throughout history, tax systems start out simple and wind up complex and burdensome.
By the end of Rome’s socialism under Diocletian, according to the historian Will Durant, taxation “rose to such heights that men lost the incentive to work or earn, and an erosive context began between lawyers finding devices to evade taxes and lawyers formulating laws to prevent evasion,” which led Romans to flee, seeking “refuge among the barbarians.” We have a tax code so complicated and long that few can do their own taxes. Not satisfied, politicians threaten massive income tax hikes, wealth tax confiscation and penalties for those who want to leave the country.

 Step 3.  Reduced Growth Leading to Economic Stagnation. Over the last 20 years, the European Union, which featured socialist and semi-socialist states, had almost zero economic growth.  Over the last 60 years, while our governments grew to 36 percent of the economy and imposed trillions in regulation, our growth slipped from an average of 4 percent to 2 percent.

Step 4. Deficits. In semi-socialist Greece, once on the brink of being a failed state, government debt, as a percentage of the economy, is nearly 180 percent. That would be like you having credit card debt nearly double your income.  In the U.S., that debt ratio has exploded in the last decade, rising to nearly 106 percent.

Step 5. Governments Print Money. Undeterred by deficits or debt, governments print money to pay for programs. Inflation is the result of governments increasing the money supply beyond the needs of economic growth. In socialist Venezuela, inflation is expected to be at least one million percent in 2019. In other words, its money isn’t worth the paper on which it’s printed.

Step 6. Government Fixes Prices and Declares When Goods Can be Sold. Diocletian set wage and price controls for socialist Rome.  In Venezuela, people can only shop on certain days and shopping malls can only be open two days a week. Free of that today, in the 1970s, we had gas rationing and double-digit inflation. (Read more.)

From The American Spectator:
You will never find grace with the left. You will never find forgiveness with the left. Only endless guilt, recriminations, acts of penance, indulgences, and repressed self-loathing. There’s one place left in the world where you can find mercy. It’s called the Christian church. (Make sure you inquire at a traditional or biblical church — not the mainline kind where they’ve traded their freedom for slavery to cultural fashion.) All your life you’ve been told that traditional Christians are scolds and hypocrites, dispensing scarlet letters left and right and pointing bony fingers at sinners. In fact, we’re the last refuge of mercy in today’s world. We don’t care what you used to be — the worse you used to be, the more we’ll celebrate your changed life. Redemption is what we’re all about. That accounts, by the way, for the fact, which leftists find incomprehensible, that we can appreciate the good things the current president does without obsessing on his past sins. Leftists don’t see how we can forgive, being incapable of forgiveness themselves. (Read more.)