Saturday, September 19, 2020

Podcast: The Reign of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette

Connor at Plotlines and I had a great conversation about Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, HERE.


‘The Evil One Is at Work Here’

 From Crisis:

I don’t see any direct connection on the earthly plane. But the spiritual battle is always the real battle. I performed a minor exorcism at the site of the statue of St. Junípero Serra in Golden Gate Park because statues of holy saints are sacramentals; their destruction is a sacrilege. The Evil One is at work here.

To take something as beautiful and holy as the face of Our Mother and desecrate it? What demons those poor, battered souls must be fighting. In the midst of all our troubles, to be deprived of the Eucharist is both a serious imposition on our rights as Americans and a serious spiritual deprivation. (Read more.)


Victorians and Consumerism

 From Literary Hub:

American domestic life circa 2020 feels far removed from that of the 19th-century Londoner or Liverpudlian. But Victorian notions of décor and comfort crossed the Atlantic and held sway in stateside imaginations and homes long after the age itself had faded into history books and period pieces on TV.

Since then, Victorian material culture has been stamped on the psyches of modern readers and viewers. Its staying power owes a debt to the 19th-century novelists and journalists who documented the era’s tastes and excesses, and to the movie and TV producers who have kept alive those sometimes overheated but rich descriptions.

“Victorian” has persisted as a convenient if imprecise shorthand for a style that’s heavy in every sense. “Victorian decor” invokes curtains-drawn houses where light goes to die and where rooms are filled with furniture dark, heavy, and overstuffed. Victorian rooms, as we imagine them, were temples (or mausoleums) of things, with every surface— mantels, tabletops, shelves, sideboards—obscured by ceramic figurines and keepsakes, and every inch of wall covered with paintings and portraits.

In 19th-century Britain, during Queen Victoria’s rule, industrialization, urbanization, and the expansion of empire, together with an uptick in disposable income, put more objects within reach of more people. Mainstream conventions did not encourage those with means to be minimalists.

The burdens imposed by bourgeois domesticity were not lost on contemporaries. “It is a folly to suppose, when a man amasses a quantity of furniture, that it belongs to him. On the contrary, it is he who belongs to his furniture,” wrote a wag in an 1854 squib on “The Tyranny of Furniture” in the satirical magazine Punch. (Read more.)

Friday, September 18, 2020

The 'Mulan' Scandal


From Live Action:

China is already notorious for its human rights abuses, largely surrounding their population control policies. In recent years, however, the Chinese government has been specifically targeting Uighur Muslims, an ethnic minority group. It’s estimated that over one million Uighurs are being held in concentration camps, where survivors have told horror stories of what people there are forced to endure.

Haaretz investigations found that prisoners have been forced to have their heads shaved and forced to live in small rooms with only a bucket for a toilet. They are also monitored constantly by cameras. Prisoners are subjected to propaganda and re-education, and have been subjected to tortures such as having fingernails pulled out, having skin flayed, and receiving electric shocks in the so-called “black room.” They have been subjected to medical experimentation, with many left infertile, and women have been reportedly raped and forced into abortions. Women in particular have been victims of sadistic sexual violence and torture, including gang rape. Other victims had their organs harvested from them, without anesthesia, while they were still alive. (Read more.)


 From Reason:

The new Mulan movie is facing a barrage of criticism—and promises to boycott—for filming near Chinese concentration camps and then thanking the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for the privilege.

The filma live-action version of the 1998 Disney cartoon by the same name—is based on Chinese folklore about a young woman (Hua Mulan) who pretends to be a boy so that she can fight in her father's place when he is conscripted into the Chinese army. In a sense, it's a tale about cleverness, bravery, and familial love helping to overcome hardships brought about by a violent and overbearing government.

That's makes Disney's filming location—Xinjiang—an extra slap in the face. Xinjiang is where China has been holding Uighurs in concentration camps and subjecting them and other Muslim minorities to horrible human rights abuses.

"The repression of ethnic Uighurs and Kazakhs in the western part of the country has been increasingly brutal and systematic," explained Daniel Drezner at Reason in April. "The erection of a massive network of internment facilities, prisons, and forced labor camps speaks to the regime's ruthlessness and deep illiberalism." (Read more.)


From The Federalist:

First, while the basic storyline remains the same in this movie version, Disney has significantly altered the emphasis of Mulan’s story, from a universal value of self-determination to fidelity to family, and more importantly, unwavering loyalty to the state.

It’s crucial to note that the 1998 animation version of “Mulan” was a worldwide hit — except in China. Beijing initially barred Disney from releasing the animated film within its borders out of spite for another Disney venture, “Kundun,” the 1997 film that told the life of the 14th Dalai Lama. Even though the Dalai Lama gave up on demanding Tibet’s independence from China a long time ago, Beijing labeled him a “traitor” and a “separatist.”

Beijing was also worried about the universal message of self-determination in the animated version of “Mulan,” in fear that people who believe in personal freedom would ultimately demand democracy — the last thing the Chinese Communist Party would allow to take place in China. (Read more.)


Also from The Federalist:

In the new movie, we’re introduced to Mulan as a child with mysterious powers and skills that allow her to do awe-inspiring acrobatics on the roofs of her village. Think Marvel’s “Dr. Strange” as a Disney princess. She has these talents because she is in touch with her Chi, an Eastern concept of energy that permeates the world. But since she’s a girl, her father tells her she must hide her gift. “Chi is for warriors, not daughters,” he tells us.

After Mulan’s aging father is summoned to fight in the Imperial Army, Mulan leaves to take his place, disguising herself as a man. At this point in the animated movie, she’s an awkward but lovable young girl who wants to do what’s right but still doesn’t know what she’s doing. In the remake, she’s a mysteriously skilled warrior who has been forced by social constructs to conceal her identity.

In the original movie, she doesn’t have the brute strength of her male comrades, and has to think creatively to overcome obstacles. When the soldiers have to climb up a post while carrying two weights, she wraps the weights around the post to use as a balance; she doesn’t just beat the men by being stronger. (Read more.)

From The Washington Post:

The most devastating part of “Mulan,” Disney’s much-anticipated live-action remake of the 1998 animated film, isn’t the story. It’s the credits. The film retells the ancient Chinese tale of Hua Mulan, a filial daughter who dresses as a man to join the army, honor her father and save the emperor. While the film engenders pride for China, it does so with a subtle touch: Besides a few mentions of defending the Silk Road, a favorite trading route of Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, little links it to the modern-day country. The New York Times called it “lightly funny and a little sad, filled with ravishing landscapes.”

But there’s a dark side to those landscapes. Disney filmed “Mulan” in regions across China (among other locations). In the credits, Disney offers a special thanks to more than a dozen Chinese institutions that helped with the film. These include four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang as well as the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region — organizations that are facilitating crimes against humanity. It’s sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating: Disney has thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China that is the site of one of the world’s worst human rights abuses happening today.

More than a million Muslims in Xinjiang, mostly of the Uighur minority, have been imprisoned in concentration camps. Some have been released. Countless numbers have died. Forced sterilization campaigns have caused the birth rate in Xinjiang to plummet roughly 24 percent in 2019 — and “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” fits within the legally recognized definition of genocide. Disney, in other words, worked with regions where genocide is occurring, and thanked government departments that are helping to carry it out. (Read more.)


The US & Its Constitution Have Two Months Left

 From Paul Craig Roberts:

We have reached the point in the demise of our country that a simple statement of obvious truth is not believable.  

As a number of carefully researched and documented books, some written by insiders, have proved conclusively, the CIA has controlled the prestige American media since 1950.  The American media does not provide news.  It provides the Deep State’s explanations of events.  This ensures that real news does not interfere with the agenda.  

The German journalst, Udo Ulfkotte, wrote a book, Bought Journalism, in which he showed that the CIA also controls the European press.  

To be clear, there are two CIA organizations.  One is an agency that monitors world events and endeavors to provide more or less accurate information to policymakers.  The other is a covert operations agency. This agency assassinates people, including an American president, and overthrows uncooperative governments.  President Truman publicly stated after he was out of office that he made a serious mistake in permitting the covert operations branch of the CIA.  He said that it was an unaccountable government in inself.

President Eisehnower agreed and in his last address to the American people warned of the growing unaccountable power of the military/security complex.

President Kennedy realized the threat and said he was going “to break the CIA into a thousand pieces,” but they killed him first.

It would be easy for the CIA to kill Trump, but the “lone assassin” has been used too many times to be believable.  It is easier to overthrow Trump’s reelection with false accusations as the CIA controlls the American and European media and has many Internet sites pretending to be dissident, a claim that fools insouciant Americans.  Indeed, it is the leftwing that the CIA owns. The rightwing goes along because they think it is patriotic to support the military/security complex. (Read more.)


Reading In Renaissance England

 From The American Conservative:

In the London Review of Books, Irina Dumitrescu writes about reading and language learning in Renaissance England in a review of two books on the subject. The early modern classroom was no safe space. It was loud, multilingual, and bawdy: “Like their Latin analogues in medieval and Renaissance schoolbooks, the sample dialogues in modern language manuals did not shy away from conflict. William Stepney’s Spanish Schoole-master includes a drinking party in which men accuse one another of not imbibing enough. A similar scene in a Latin colloquy written in England six centuries earlier features inebriated monks bullying each other. It seems that textbooks have always recognised the importance of drama and alcohol for language learning.” More:
For the bulk of British history, most pupils who had the comparatively rare opportunity of formal education had to become proficient in Latin as a bare minimum. In the British Isles as in the rest of Europe, most instruction in other subjects took place in Latin. From the early Middle Ages into the Renaissance, skill in Latin was a marker of elite status, as it still is, but it was also of practical use for international travel and communication. It was taught using many of the same techniques employed for modern foreign languages today: singing, lively dialogues, reciting poetry, taking dictation and giving speeches. Pupils learned the language orally, in other words, as well as through grammar and the translation of set phrases. (Read more.)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Gardens of Monteviot


From Country Life:

Initially a farmhouse, Monteviot was bought by Lord Lothian’s family in about 1700 and was extended over the following two centuries. The gardens were initially developed in Victorian times by the 9th Marquis, who, foreshadowing the current Marquis, had a political career. He served as Secretary of State for Scotland, 1887–92, but was also a keen orchid collector, indeed, the biggest private collector in Britain at the time.

The gardens as we see them today, however, have only been developed since 1960, when the present Lord Lothian’s parents engaged Cane, a renowned garden designer, to implement the River Garden. Set next to the Rose Garden terrace (which, together with the Herb Garden beside the house, is the oldest part), the River Garden takes the form of a high brick wall, U-shaped in plan, which supports a viewing turret from where one can enjoy the riverside panorama. Extensive mixed borders benefit from the shelter of the walls and one of Lord Lothian’s first tasks was to soften the strictness of these beds. (Read more.)


Skin in the Game

 From American Remnant:

It is difficult to know your family’s part in this history and still conclude that America has been an evil place. It is also hard to believe that your family members who came to America with nothing and spent long years doing demanding, even dangerous work owed what they managed to achieve to “white privilege,” especially when your family had been so “privileged” as to have been been serfs for centuries.

Knowing this history also makes it hard to swallow the notion that Americans should pay any attention to those who don’t have skin in the game. When Joseph Piatak filed a petition to become a naturalized American citizen in February 1917, he renounced all allegiance to his former country and pledged “in good faith to become a citizen of the United States and to permanently reside therein.” And so he did, dying in Cleveland 27 years later without ever once returning to Slovakia.

By contrast, some of the loudest voices presuming to tell Americans how we should vote and what we should think don’t have skin in the game. The Atlantic’s editor, Jeffrey Goldberg, who has turned that venerable magazine into a Never Trump propaganda sheet, is a dual citizen of Israel and the United States. He volunteered to serve in the Israeli military, but not the American military. The Atlantic’s David Frum, a fanatical Never Trumper, is a naturalized American citizen, but he remains a citizen of Canada, where his sister serves in the Canadian Senate. Frum has also forthrightly declared that his vote is determined in large measure by a candidate’s stance on yet another foreign country, Israel.

Both men and their fellow scribblers at the Atlantic are also members of a class that, as a whole, has come to view American jobs as exportable, American workers as replaceable, and Americans who support Trump or who cling to their Bibles and guns or who otherwise engage in practices the readers of the Atlantic cannot fathom as objects of disdain or even hatred. Members of this class are confident that, if America goes south, a pleasant new home will be found among people much like themselves in some foreign metropole in which they have connections or even citizenship. (Read more.)


What Lee Said About Monuments in 1869

 From the Abbeville Institute:

A frequent argument against Confederate monuments is a “sound bite” of a quote from General Robert E. Lee in 1869 in some variation to “I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war.”   The time of the event and the Monument Movement is significant.  Understanding this connection changes the meaning of the “sound bite” entirety.  Here’s the context.

The letter cited is Lee’s decline to attend a reunion of Gettysburg veterans from the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.  The Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association was chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on 13 April 1864, to preserve the Gettysburg Battlefield.[1]  David McConaughy was the president.[2]  

Lee wrote on 4 August 1869 his reply to David McConaughy’s invitation to participate in the  “reunion of Gettysburg veterans, who identified specific, historic battlefield sites, and offered personal accounts of the engagement.”[3]  Many letters in the Gettysburg College, Gett Digital collection of these letters are responses to David McConaughy’s invitation. They declined to attend for a variety of reasons, some even naming others to consider inviting for the desired information.[4]  Lee was not alone in his absence from the event.  The entirely of Lee’s letter is:

“Absence from Lexington has prevented my receiving until to-day your letter of the 26th [July 1869], inclosing (sic) an invitation from the Gettysburg Battle-field (sic) Memorial Association, to attend a meeting of the officers engaged in that battle at Gettysburg, for the purpose of marking upon the ground by enduring memorials of granite the positions and movements of the armies on the field. My engagements will not permit me to be present.  I believe if there, I could not add anything material to the information existing on the subject.  I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”[5]

(Read more.)


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A Belgravia Kitchen


From Country Life:

As part of a top-to-toe refurbishment of a family house in Belgravia, Alison Henry moved the kitchen to an orangery-style structure, opening up the ground floor and allowing natural light to reach as much of the interior space as possible. She worked with Florence-based company Officine Gullo to come up with a bespoke kitchen design that incorporates gleaming white steel units, smart nickel trims and Italian marble.

The starting point was one of the firm’s signature range cookers, behind which the designer added a splashback of deeply veined Italian marble. The centrepiece is the vast island, which measures just under 15sq ft. ‘I chose a neutral palette in order to create a contrast with the greenery from the garden. Wisteria grows up the wall behind.’

The space is visible from much of the house, so plenty of storage was vital to keep surfaces free of kitchen clutter. Two floor-to-ceiling units either side of the range accommodated a generous larder and fridge freezer; the island is home to the sink, dishwashers, bins and drawer units. (Read more.)


How The Left Learned to Love The Guillotine

 From Townhall:

In recent weeks, leftist demonstrators set up a large model of a guillotine in front of the house of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in Washington, D.C. In response to the news that Bezos — the richest man in the world – earns $4,000 dollars per second, the activists camped outside Bezos’ home to demand a minimum wage of $30 per hour. And it is not only left-wing radicals in the United States who have a love affair with the guillotine. In early September, left-wing demonstrators gathered in Berlin’s Grunewald villa district. They called on residents to come out of their villas and voluntarily give up their wealth before it is too late. One speaker loudly reminded Grunewald’s homeowners not to forget what had happened to people like Marie-Antoinette and warned them not to let history repeat itself. The warnings were clear: “We can’t afford to let the moment pass us once more as history rattles established power structures. We need to start redistributing wealth today!” Famously, the French queen Marie-Antoinette was executed by guillotine. (Read more.)


“Once in a Lifetime”

 From The Jerusalem Post:

A “once in a lifetime” find is how the City of David described three immaculately preserved 2,700-year-old decorated column heads, or capitals, from the First Temple period that indicate a connection to the Davidic Dynasty. Archaeologists from the City of David did not expect to find anything this special when they began digging near what is now the Armon Hanatziv Promenade.

“I’m still excited,” said Yaakov Billig, an archaeologist with the City of David who began exploring the Armon Hanatziv area about 30 years ago.

He was working at the site when the sound of a spade scraping a stone slab surprised him. After a careful excavation, archaeologists at the site uncovered the capital, whose style is found in royal and official buildings in the kingdoms of Israel and Judea during the First Temple period.“I thought, ‘Yaakov, maybe you’ve been in the sun too long.’ But I looked again, and it was still there,” Billig told The Jerusalem Post. (Read more.)


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Daring Nun

From the BBC:

The "free zone" in the south of France did not live up to its name. The government of Marshal Philippe Pétain, based in Vichy, passed anti-Jewish laws, allowed Jews rounded up in Baden and Alsace Lorraine to be interned on its territory, and seized Jewish assets. On 23 August 1942 the archbishop of Toulouse, Jules-Geraud Saliège, wrote a letter to his clergymen, asking them to recite a letter to their congregations.
"In our diocese, moving scenes have occurred," it went. "Children, women, men, fathers and mothers are treated like a lowly herd. Members of a single family are separated from each other and carted away to an unknown destination. The Jews are men, the Jewesses are women. They are part of the human race; they are our brothers like so many others. A Christian cannot forget this."
He protested to the Vichy authorities about their Jewish policy, while most of the French Catholic hierarchy remained silent. Out of 100 French bishops, he was one of only six who spoke out against the Nazi regime. Saliège's message struck a chord with Sister Denise Bergon, the young mother superior of the Convent of Notre Dame de Massip in Capdenac, 150km (93 miles) north-east of Toulouse. (Read more.)


Our Bishops Can’t Handle the Truth

 From Deal Hudson at the Christian Review:

A firestorm has erupted within the American, Catholic world. A humble and orthodox parish priest, Fr. James Altman from the Diocese of Lacrosse stands in the eye of this conflagration. This controversy is nothing new: Every four years there is a debate within Catholic circles about the duty of Catholics and their responsibility as faithful citizens to exercise their right to vote for the highest office in the land.

Again, as always, the main issue is the matter of abortion. A stain on this great country that will never go away as long as innocent human life is being taken in the name of “freedom,” choice,” and “reproductive rights.”

In a YouTube video of August 30, Fr. Altman instructed the faithful that the Democrat Party cannot be supported by any Catholic because of its extremist position on abortion. He stated, “Here is a memo to clueless baptized Catholics out there; you cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period.”

Then, of course, the gates of hell opened up, and the ‘progressive wing’ of the Church denounced him. And then, right on cue, his Bishop denounced Fr. Altman for his “tone.” Bishop Callahan (La Cross) released a statement that read like a press release from a contrite corporate CEO appeasing the cancel culture crowd. I guess Catholics who speak the Truth are expected to be ‘nice’ about it. Tell that to John the Baptist and the Old Testament Prophets.

Such episcopal behavior has become commonplace: Archbishop Wilton Gregory recently chided President Trump and his Catholic wife, Melania, for making a trip to Saint John Paul II Shrine. Gregory fumed, “I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree.” What has the Church come to that the President of the United States and the First Lady cannot visit a Catholic shrine without the Archbishop of Washington, DC announcing they are not welcome?

Archbishop Wilton Gregory is the poster child for the Deep State Catholic American Hierarchy. Doesn’t Gregory realize his pontifications mean nothing when he sits in the seat of two previous archbishops who are predatory homosexual molesters? The U.S. bishop’s loss of credibility has only grown worse when, all but a handful, lack to desire or the courage to point out that Trump’s opponent, who calls himself Catholic, wants to make abortion legal until the moment of birth (and after, presumably).

The Deep State Catholic Church’s Godfather is Ted McCarrick. McCarrick famously ignored instructions from Benedict XVI to withhold Communion to “Catholic” officeholders who voted for and furthered the abortion regime and the “Culture of Death.” Of course, while ignoring the Pope, at the time he was abusing seminarians and cozying up to communist regimes. (Read more.)


Ernst Röhm, Maximilian Robespierre, and Democrat Party Stormtroopers

 From FrontPageMag:

Another radical proposal of Russian socialists – the closure of prisons and the release of all prisoners – has been partially implemented by some American Democrat Governors a hundred years later. In the spring of 2020, a massive number of criminals were released from local (non-Federal) prisons – allegedly due to the coronavirus – who then went on to make a significant contribution to pogroms, looting, and riots.

Minister Goering’s first step was staging a grand purge of the police and hiring National Socialist Party activists with no police experience to replace the thousands of dismissed policemen. How could the head of police practically leave citizens to their fate without police protection? This seems more than strange, but Goering had a different task.

The fact is that by that time, the Nazis had already created alternative police, which was subordinate only to the party – the so-called SA (Sturmabteilung). The SA stormtroopers wore light brown uniforms. This uniform was bought by the party of German National Socialists – the NSDAP – at a bargain price from the German army, which kept in its warehouses millions of units of these clothes, prepared for Germany’s invasion of Africa during the First World War. The invasion never took place, and the army was glad to get rid of unnecessary uniforms.

The stormtroopers of the National Socialist Party, the SA, went down in history as the Brownshirts.

As Minister of the Interior, Hermann Goering ordered the Prussian State police to work in parallel with the police of the National Socialist Party.

Soon this approach was extended to the entire Third Reich. The task of the Brownshirts was not to protect law and order but to organize riots, pogroms, arson, and intimidation of opponents of the National Socialist ideology to strengthen their political power.

In parallel with the radical reform of the police, a process of radical control over firearms began in Germany – at first, in 1933, it was only about the registration of military-grade weapons, and then it was time to register any gun. In 1935 and 1938, Germany adopted laws on the total confiscation of firearms from all “unreliable elements” (Jews, for example). At the same time, all restrictions were lifted on weapons for members of the NSDAP and related organizations (such as the Hitler Youth). (Read more.)


The Manosphere and the Church

 From Theopolis:

I was asked to write here about the attraction of the collection of online men’s blogs known as the “manosphere” and its successors, but that needs to first be put in context of the church’s lack of attractiveness to men.

It’s long been noted that Christian practice in America skews female, particularly among singles. “Where have all the good men gone?” is a familiar refrain in churches.  Economist Lyman Stone at the Institute for Family Studies looked at various surveys and found that indeed there are fewer single men than women in most American denominations. This imbalance is particularly acute in black and mainline churches, but also affects evangelical congregations. (Data from Barna suggests this gap may be closing, but only because more women are now abandoning the faith).

Why are young men so often turning away from the church and to these largely secular men’s gurus?

It can be tempting to blame the church for this state of affairs. Yet remember John 3:19: This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  The real thing that needs to be explained is not why people reject Christ but why anyone accepts Him. The answer being that only through the grace of God can anyone come to faith in Christ at all.

Because salvation is by God’s grace, I don’t blame the church for people who reject Christ. But I do hold the church accountable for its own faults. So let’s look at the church’s lack of appeal to men on that basis.

Various books have been written on this topic including David Murrow’s Why Men Hate Going to Church and Leon Podles’ The Church Impotent.  But British academic Callum Brown puts forth the most compelling view in his book The Death of Christian Britain. In it Brown notes a shift in public perception of piety around 1800 from a male register to a female register. He points out, for example, how angels shifted from being portrayed as primarily male to being portrayed mostly as female around that time.

Brown surveyed the evangelical literature of that era, finding that men and masculinity came to be seen as acute threats to holiness and the home, while women and femininity became associated with godliness. (Read more.)


Monday, September 14, 2020

The Artistry of Pastry

 From Resy:

Finding solace in his home kitchen, he traded stock pots of hearty savory fare, made in the tradition of his great-grandmother, Luella, for cake pans. This shift might sound familiar: Baking has been a dependable friend for many people throughout COVID and its various shutdowns. A welcome distraction, one that offers nourishment — physical, mental, even spiritual. A link to the memories and traditions that we hold dear. But of course Reed took on baking with his mastery of professional cooking, and a fervency that only a restaurateur might have.

Even so, a newfound appreciation for pastry, and the desire to learn its process, could not erase a sense of uncertainty on his part. The face of baking and pastry is primarily white and largely female. Rarely, do we see Black pastry chefs and bakers with lucrative cookbook and television deals. That lack of representation gave Reed pause. “I did at one point feel like it wasn’t for me,” noting that he didn’t see anyone like himself in any medium, including popular baking instructional videos on YouTube. “In my entire career, I only met one Black pastry chef,” he continues. “I know I even said it on a few occasions, ‘It’s just not for me,’ until I actually started to do it.”

At the same time, the act of baking can both be grounding to a cook — and simultaneously call them to new possibilities. Reed realized that pastry could be a vehicle to not only round out his experience, but to deepen it, while brightening his mood along the way. He signed up for The Butter Book, a digital baking and pastry course from Chicago’s French Pastry School — and immediately took to the program, a comprehensive online baking and pastry curriculum created by the school’s founders, pastry chefs Sébastien Canonne and Jacquy Pfeiffer. As Pfeiffer describes it, their course offers deep technical knowledge to match with students’ affinity for pastry. (Read more.)

Polio Outbreak in Africa

 From Big League Politics:

Just last week, the WHO was boasting about eradicating the wild polio virus from the African continent. In an ironically tragic twist, their own vaccines are now responsible for the rapid spread of the virus throughout Africa.

These type of vaccinations are being pushed with the backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The infamous organization is behind a consortium known as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). They have made massive strides to pump these potentially dangerous shots into third-world children the world over.

“Through polio eradication efforts, GPEI partners have learned how to overcome logistical, geographic, social, political, cultural, ethnic, gender, financial, and other barriers to working with people in the poorest and least accessible areas. The fight against polio has created new ways of addressing human health in the developing world—through political engagement, funding, planning and management strategies, research, and more,” the consortium writes on their official website.

“We support efforts to tailor communications to particular social, cultural, and political contexts to build demand for vaccination and to dispel myths about the safety and efficacy of vaccines,” the consortium writes. (Read more.)


The True, the Good, and the Ugly in “Till We Have Faces”

 From The Imaginative Conservative:

Most fiction features at least one appealing character—the one you cheer for, stumble with, return to. Therein lies one of the trickiest elements in Till We Have Faces. Perhaps one of the most exasperating characters of all of Lewis’s novels, Orual is an unlikely blend for a central character. At the beginning of the tale, she is practically an orphaned girl without love or looks, and so we naturally pity her. By the time Psyche is born, it seems that Orual now has a purpose in life. In spite of her abusive father, she can now care for Psyche and be loved in return by Psyche and the Fox.

Yet the same thing that brings joy to Orual also brings the most pain, and we begin to dislike Orual as she denies the truth of Psyche’s sincere faith and even the god who revealed himself to her. Orual’s long-term obstinacy and manipulation is offensive to us. We are frustrated by her resistance. But does this make her a lesser character?

Gwyneth Hood asks us to view her as an admirable heroine. She “strives to change for the better the ugly and undesirable situation around her.”[1] And there are moments of hope. When she ascends the mountain with Bardia, her heart delights in the beauty that surrounds her. In spite of the errand of grief, her heart is responsive. This is not just a sensitivity to nature, but a means by which God can speak to her.

As her audience, we too hope that she might know God. Hope might also spur her to pray and ask the gods for their help after her first visit to the Grey Mountain. Yet Orual hears and feels nothing after hours of prayer. When we look at her in those moments, we can see that she is likely manipulating her religion. Orual wants things her way because she only understands how to do things, to make things happen, in order to get something else. Her prayers are based on herself, not on a sincere relationship with God. (Read more.)


Sunday, September 13, 2020

The School of Athens: A Hidden Detail

From BBC:

As Raphael began to assemble his heady cast of anachronistic characters, the monumental muddle that might result must have seemed more and more pronounced. A puzzling throng of ambiguous figures splashing around in a soup of anonymous thought wouldn’t do. Sure, it might at first seem simple enough to tell the elder Plato from his student Aristotle, as the pair sashay in their scholarly way down the steps at the centre of the painting. After all, Plato is packing a copy of his treatise on the nature of man’s existence in the physical world, the Timaeus, while Aristotle awkwardly wields an instalment of his 10-volume Nicomachean Ethics. But forcing observers of the work to squint at the spine of hefty tomes shoved cumbersomely into the hands of each and every figure in the painting would have weighed the work down with tediously tweedy detail.

At some point in assembling his School, Raphael appears to have realised that establishing static and easily distinguishable identities for his celebrated students was the wrong approach. He should instead embrace the inevitable confusion, overtly invite a sense of irresolvable flux, and thereby make the indeterminacy of identity itself the very philosophy of his portrait of philosophy. (Read more.)


America’s 1984: Welcome to the Hate

 From AEIR:

Start with language. In 1984, one editor of the dictionary of Newspeak rhapsodizes about the destruction of words. By eliminating phrases, the Party destroys the ability of people not only to express ideas but to think them: “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”  

What words have ceased to exist in this dystopia? Honor, justice, and morality, to name a few. One cannot demand something one cannot express. 

Today we might build our own list, starting with civility. It is elitist, we are told, to insist on treating other individuals with dignity and courtesy. To use it in some contexts, particularly at universities, is to incite a frenzy akin to The Hate. 

To be safe, one must use sanctioned slogans, such as those in 1984: “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength.” 

And now we are on the verge of creating new slogans, such as “Riots are Peaceful Protests,” “Unequal Treatment is Equity,” “Looting is Justice.” After all, looting is “a political mode of action” that “attacks the idea of property” and the way in which it’s “unjust.”

Perhaps people really believe these mantras. Or perhaps they know that today’s Big Brothers are watching, ready to cancel them as quickly as the Party vaporizes its opponents. (Read more.)


End of the Great Commute

 From Country Life:

The advent of the steam locomotive pruned many rural communities, but it was the automobile that stripped them bare. When Edward Hudson launched Country Life in 1897, he saw that the car would transform our relationship with the countryside, opening up pleasures that were previously the preserve of those lucky enough to make their living there.

Thus began the great commute, which promised the best of both worlds, but increasingly failed to deliver. In the 30 years I have travelled to work by car and train, the length of the journey grew to more than four hours a day. It was what you did; the offices were in the cities and, if you wanted to see a green field, the compromise was to spend more than £5,000 on a season ticket and jump on the 7.03 every morning.

Earlier this year, everything changed when Covid-19 made it impossible to reach our places of work. Thanks to another kind of technology — this time broadband — many of us discovered that the daily commute wasn’t as vital as we previously thought.

The year 2020 will be seen as the age that the five-day-a-week commute died. Many companies are pondering the value of half-empty offices and employees are questioning the need to travel to them when they can achieve so much at home — with the advantage of more time with their families into the bargain. (Read more.)


Saturday, September 12, 2020

A Villa in Provence

From Architectural Digest:

Once the family found the perfect spot, Douzal set about installing a tennis court and a pool with a pool house and began painting the seven-bedroom, six-bathroom house pink. “I wanted a pale pink house, but it ended up looking like Disneyland [at first]!” she notes, laughing. “It took a few years [of weathering] and is really pretty now.” She kept the original red tiled floor, painted the existing wooden doors, and infused the interiors with special finds. Finishing touches have just been put on the final addition, a guesthouse—a place for the couple’s four kids and their friends.

Douzal ends up going every other weekend in the spring and summer, leaving right after school on Fridays and arriving in time for dinner in the garden by 8 p.m. “We don’t generally go in the winter but always celebrate Christmas there and have Christmas dinner outside!” she notes. The house, she adds, is usually full of friends and family: “ ‘Buy a house in Provence and you will have a lifetime of friends!’ This is true!” (Read more.)

Raging Wildfires

 From The Federalist:

Many on the left will name climate change as the bogeyman. For example, a recent opinion article in The New York Times reads, “Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide.” Yet more evidence points to failed environmental policies.

This isn’t to say weather or climate doesn’t create dangerous fire conditions. Droughts create drier conditions, and hot air worsens wildfires, but there is even contention over the supposition that Australia is hotter and drier now than in the past. One researcher argues that, with a few exceptions, most of Australia has become wetter since 1910.

Climate alarmists also point to the fact that Walgett, Australia, reached 112 degrees last month as evidence that Australia is getting hotter due to climate change. Admittedly, this is hot, too hot, but for Walgett it isn’t unheard of. For example, in 1903 Walgett reached a record 120 degrees, and in December 1883 the temperature was 118 degrees. So if the weather or the climate hasn’t changed, what has? (Read more.)

From American Greatness:

“Sen. Feinstein blames Sierra Club for blocking wildfire bill,” reads the provocative headline on a 2002 story in California’s Napa Valley Register. Feinstein had brokered a congressional consensus on legislation to thin “overstocked” forests close to homes and communities, but could not overcome the environmental lobby’s disagreement over expediting the permit process to thin forests everywhere else.

Year after year, environmentalists litigated and lobbied to stop efforts to clear the forests through timber harvesting, underbrush removal, and controlled burns. Meanwhile, natural fires were suppressed and the forests became more and more overgrown. The excessive biomass competed for the same water, soil, and light a healthier forest would have used, rendering all of the trees and underbrush unhealthy. It wasn’t just excess biomass that accumulated, but dried out and dead biomass.

What happened among California’s tall stands of Redwood and Ponderosa Pine also happened in its extensive chaparral. Fire suppression along with too many environmentalist-inspired bureaucratic barriers to controlled burns and undergrowth removal turned the hillsides and canyons of Southern California into tinderboxes. (Read more.) 


From The Sun:

So far 24 people have been killed though the authorities in Oregon have told residents to brace themselves for a “mass fatality incident”.

Oregon Live reports Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, has been arrested on two counts of arson, 15 counts of criminal mischief and 14 counts of reckless endangerment.

The fire Bakkela started is considered to be one of the origins of the Almeda fire and the two quickly merged, said Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office spokesman Rich Tyler.

Photos show the towns of Phoenix and Talent reduced to ashes after the Almeda fire tore through.

It has killed two people, destroyed a thousand homes and laid waste to 5700 acres.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said on Tuesday evening, a Phoenix resident saw a person, who was later identified as Bakkela, lighting a fire behind their house. (Read more.)

From American Greatness:

When an officer questioned Acord, he claimed that he was looking for his $1,000 recording equipment because the camera case had supposedly fallen out of his backpack while he was biking the previous day.

“I’ve been out here all day searching for my camera,” Acord told police. “I’m trying to cover the area thoroughly.”

During his Facebook Live broadcast, Acord did an Oscar-worthy job sounding alarmed by his fire.

The fire was contained to the interstate and extinguished by the local fire department, although Puyallup Police were forced to close the northbound ramp.

“There’s nothing you can connect to me to this at all,” Acord stated before the video cut out. “I was literally calling this in.”

Acord was detained in the Puyallup City Jail with bail set at $1,000 and then transferred to the Pierce County Jail where he was booked under a separate burglary charge.

The suspected antifa militant has a history of anti-police protesting and encounters with law enforcement, court records show. According to his Facebook, Acord also attended a Black Lives Matter march in Seattle on June 5 of this year. (Read more.)


Meanwhile, many innocent people have died. More HERE and HERE.


When Monuments Fall

 An interesting perspective, although it must be kept in mind that BLM is an unabashedly Marxist organization. From the NYR Daily:

“We stand today at the national center to perform something like a national act—an act which is to go into history.”

So said the great nineteenth-century former slave and staunch abolitionist Frederick Douglass at the unveiling of the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., in 1876. “That we are here in peace today,” Douglass told a crowd of almost 25,000, many of them African-American, “is a compliment and a credit to American civilization, and a prophecy of still greater national enlightenment and progress in the future.”

The idea for the memorial had come originally from former slave Charlotte Scott, of Virginia, who wanted a monument in honor of Abraham Lincoln. She gave five dollars to begin a funding drive, and the monument was eventually paid for entirely by former slaves.

Almost a hundred and fifty years later, many African Americans feel differently about the memorial. In June, Black Lives Matter protesters attempted, unsuccessfully, to topple the statue. D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton vowed to introduce legislation to have the memorial removed. The Boston Art Commission unanimously resolved to take down a copy of the statue in Boston. (Read more.)

From three years ago, but more pertinent than ever. From Intellectual Takeout:

In the aforementioned piece on Chicago’s high black-on-black crime rates, my colleague Devin Foley cited CNN black commentator Don Lemon. In Lemon’s eyes, the 72 percent out-of-wedlock birth rate in the black community and the subsequent absence of fathers is responsible for the cycle of destruction which young black men are subjected to.

Given the above crime numbers, combined with the fact that the black out-of-wedlock birth rate in Minneapolis measured at 86 percent in 2014, do you think Lemon’s assessment of the situation is correct? Would we see a decline in crime, not only in the black community, but in others as well, if we abandoned the hook-up culture and returned to one of strong families headed by two married parents? (Read more.) 


The Vikings and Byzantium

 From Medievalists:

The account of De Administrando Imperio shows that the Vikings sailed all the way to Byzantium by including the names of various waterways and lakes along the way. The first step to proving that contact between two remote areas took place is proving that it is possible to travel between them.

After establishing that such travel was possible, and by which routes, scholars turned their attention to why the journey was undertaken: trade. Angus Somerville and R. Andrew McDonald’s book, The Vikings and their Age, explains accounts of trade between Byzantium and the Rus’ preserved in several later medieval chronicles, noting that typical trade goods included furs, honey, wax, walrus ivory, high-grade weapons and the slaves which De Administrando Imperio mentions. (Read more.)


Friday, September 11, 2020

Paris’s Most Anticipated New Garden

From Architectural Digest:

With her design for Le Bristol, Lady Arabella looked “to get away from the usual hotel good taste, with the ubiquitous white-and-green themes,” she tells AD. To do that, she sought to bring a pastoral feeling to the space, combining formal elements like topiaries and hedges with those more typical of the gardens of a country cottage, like loose plantings and flowing grasses. Her aim, she says, “was a countryside feeling in the city.”

She kept the garden’s existing grand magnolias, but little else remains as it was. “From the beginning, I wanted to break up the courtyard with new shapes for planting beds, focal points, and a complete redesign of the treillage wall.” By doing so, she established a new geometry, both on the ground and vertically. (Read more.)


Purge of ‘Critical Race Theory’ from Federal Agencies

 From Breitbart:

At the direction of President Trump, the White House Office of Management and Budget will move to identify and eliminate any trace of “critical race theory” in the federal government.

Critical race theory is the leftist, racist doctrine that forms the intellectual underpinnings of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other radical organizations currently engaged in unrest on America’s streets.

It alleges, among other things, that the United States is a white supremacist country, and that all white people are guilty of racism, whether they intend it or not.

President Trump has brought the issue of far-left indoctrination to the forefront of the national conversation in recent months. It was a major theme of the President’s Independence Day speech at Mt. Rushmore, in which he condemned far-left theories that “defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”

Russ Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, announced on Twitter that the Trump administration will bring any dabbling in such theories by the federal government to a swift end. (Read more.)


The Age of the Mega-City is Over

 From The American Conservative:

By May 2020, The New York Times reported that 420,000 residents had fled America’s largest city, not a few of them permanently (my literary agent among them, whose pre-virus life revolved around eating lunch with editors every day). The wealthiest neighborhoods were the biggest losers—and they were the city’s leading taxpayers. Of course, the initial impetus for flight was fear of catching Covid-19 in an environment densely packed with people. But as corporate offices shuttered, many of these refugees performed their work duties at home over the Internet, and it dawned on the corporations that perhaps it was a waste to lease expensive, high-status headquarters in Manhattan. The iconic Time-Life Building at 1271 Sixth Avenue had accommodated 8,000 workers before Covid-19. In mid-summer 2020, 500 people were showing up there. 

Meanwhile, as politicians forced lockdowns, the city’s restaurants and shops went dark, along with theaters, museums, stadiums, and the other organisms that made up the city’s rich ecosystem of daily life. The prospect of midtown perhaps permanently abandoned by office workers made an eventual return to normality even less plausible. After four months of virus, the June riots and looting that followed the horrific death of George Floyd sealed the deal, with the luxury stores on Fifth Avenue smashed up and burgled. Who would reopen such a business when riots and looting could break out over a fresh pretext at any time?

All of that completely changed the business model for the owners of skyscrapers—whole floors going empty and now the ground-floor businesses shut down, too. These buildings, with their massive maintenance costs, no longer produced enough revenue to operate them. Overnight, they were transformed from assets to liabilities. The situation also harmed the condominium model for residential towers. Without the ground-floor rents, the homeowner’s associations would have to steeply raise the monthly maintenance fees for each apartment owner, while significantly lowering each unit’s resale value if the owner had to move out. All of this would thunder through the banks and REITs (real estate investment trusts) which owned and managed many of these properties, and ultimately through the city’s dwindling treasury coffers.

Many like to believe that office towers can be easily converted to apartments. That’s just not true. Apart from purely physical issues, like the layout of plumbing stacks, the coming scarcity of capital will obviate these ventures, and, anyway, tower apartments only exist because they’re companions to office towers, which may now be permanently obsolete. The age of giantism is over. Cities are certainly about the concentration of life and work, but it doesn’t have to be at the colossal scale. For many centuries it wasn’t. (Read more.)


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Robin Hood – The Man, The Myth, and The History

From Medievalists:

Perhaps the most readily identifiable trait of the literary Robin Hood is his status as an outlaw – spending his life in and out of the Royal Forest of Nottingham with his band of merry comrades as they preyed upon the wealthy and evaded their evil nemesis, the Sheriff. However, the image of medieval outlawry we get in the Robin Hood corpus is a decidedly saccharine one – the criminal exploits of Robin and his band are often colored with a sort of chivalry and a playful cheekiness, as if being an outlaw in late medieval England was something equivalent to a clever prankster who just so happened to “borrow from those who can afford it” from time to time.

The reality, as we will discuss, was far less rosy and the experience of the historical 14th century English outlaw was vastly more violent and cruel than the myths would have us believe. Also, this piece will look at how the depiction of Robin Hood both bears similarities and critical differences to the lives of the real outlaws from that period.

First, in order to better understand the outlaw, one must understand the legal system of which he had run afoul. The exercise of legal authority in medieval England was a decidedly interpersonal affair – far more so than the impersonal, bureaucratic systems we in the modern era are accustomed to. In post-Magna Carta England, all municipal judicial and law enforcement roles were almost entirely filled by members of the local minor gentry or the landed yeomanry, giving each shire and county their own unique flavor when it came to law and order. From the 12th to the 16th Centuries, the primary law enforcement official of medieval England was the Sheriff, appointed in the King’s name to exercise a wide variety of both judicial and law enforcement responsibilities for his local shire – all collectively classified as “keeping the King’s Peace.” Assisting him through most of the 14th and 15th centuries was a body of men known as the “trailbastons” – essentially a posse of officials that served as both a law enforcement body and a roving trial court that could hear both civil and criminal cases wherever they went. (Read more.)

Constitutional Crisis

 From The New American:

On Thursday, the Washington Post ran an article written by Georgetown professor Rosa Brooks that presented the frightening conclusion that the only safe outcome for America in this year's presidential election is a Joe Biden landslide victory. The story read like a veiled threat to Americans who might be persuaded to vote Trump in November.

The Post's tweet promoting the article put it this way: “The election will likely spark violence — and a constitutional crisis. In every scenario except a Biden landslide, our simulation ended catastrophically.”

Brooks and her colleagues at the Transition Integrity Project — a supposedly bipartisan election monitoring group — ran through a series of scenarios that concluded that unless Joe Biden wins and wins convincingly, the United States is in for a violent few months.

As if we haven't seen enough violence already from Democratic front groups Black Lives Matter and Antifa. (Read more.)


The Habsburgs and Catholicism Today

 From The Spectator:

Damian Thompson is joined by Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen, Hungary's ambassador to the Holy See. A member of one of Europe's most historically influential families, Eduard explains how his religious practices have adapted to the acceleration of new technologies, and tells Damian how the Habsburgs keep in contact. (Read more.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A Flash of Scarlet

The rise of Cardinal Richelieu. From Leaves in the Wind:

The scarlet color  represented the willingness to shed your blood for Christ, although Richelieu stated that the color he now wore would always remind him of the vow he took to shed his blood in the service of the Queen (Marie). The “cappa magna” or great cape had a very long train on it (as in a bride’s train) which had to be carried, quiet magnificent.

He maintained his post at the head of Marie de Medici’s household which enabled him to provide well for the members of his family. He continued to be protector of the Sorbonne and acquired the land and manor of the family home.  Louis was unable to find a First Minister who could control the royal finances at the time and after the then Minister, Le Vieuville asked that Richelieu be appointed in an advisory capacity to the council, Richelieu refused. After some thought, Louis realized that something had to be done. Le Vieuville was arrested for disrespecting the king’s authority and the people of France welcomed someone they felt they could trust because he was a religious man. They were worn down from years of poverty and war just as Richelieu was worn down from his long and uncertain climb to the top . His problems with migraines still persisted. The King was a somewhat enigmatic character who could just as soon go riding off into the forests on extreme hunting forays as go to war. The nobles were still out of control and violence prone, dueling was a major cause of death at the time and the aristocracy was always looking for ways to tap the King’s fortunes for themselves. The Protestants were agitating the people for religious reform and the country was surrounded by Habsburg powers , in particular Spain, whose fortunes by now were dwindling. Had Richelieu learned enough to prove himself to the King and people? (Read more.)


Stealing Our Faces

 From The Imaginative Conservative:

The issue of mask mandates has been gobbled up by our polarized nation. There are fierce arguments about the medical effectiveness or need for masks. Some people go blindly insane when they see others not wearing a mask in public. On the other side, many people sense that masks are just one more thing that the ruling elites are imposing on the unquestioning masses. The battle-lines over masks have drawn up largely according to political lines now. However, most of the controversy does not really address the true meaning of what is happening. Whatever the motives are, the effects of mask-mandates transcend health and safety.

It seems that official parlance has now settled on the term “facial covering.” This subtle shift and coordinated resolution regarding a more precise term is telling. It reveals the deeper effects and perhaps the motives of the mandates themselves. There is a significant distinction between masks and facial coverings. Historically, masks have been associated with playing a role, like in the theatre. In fact, the Latin word persona comes from the Greek word prosepon, which means mask. From this understanding, wearing a mask is more like putting on the face of another or portraying someone else. In moving to the precise term “facial covering,” instead of “mask,” it becomes clearer that the effect is to blot out the human face and ultimately blot out God from our sight.

In continuing to reflect upon my realization in Charleston, the C.S. Lewis book, Till We Have Faces, came to mind. I have to admit that even after reading the work twice at different times in my life, I still don’t really understand it. However, among the multiple levels at work in the book, Lewis is undeniably trying to connect the discovery of self through the gods to discovering the One True God ultimately. The intersection point lies in the title. Toward the end of the book, Orual says, “How can [the gods] meet us face to face till we have faces?” Lewis tries to draw this connection through a retelling of a pagan myth. The connection between God and man becomes fully concrete in the Incarnation. God becomes man and bears a human face.

Icons are commonly known as “windows to Heaven,” but what do they usually feature? The majority of icons feature the face of Christ or one of the saints. Usually it is exclusively the face. The theology behind iconography further illustrates the connection between the human face and the face of God. (Read more.)

From The Conversation:

Seemingly everyone has an opinion on masks: when to wear them, how to wear them, which ones are best and even whether we should be wearing them at all. For those in this last camp, a popular argument is that the coverings aren’t the problem, but being forced by a government entity to wear one is. It’s the mandate, not the mask, some might say.

Some anti-maskers have claimed that being forced to wear a face covering violates their religious rights. Back in May, Ohio State Rep. Nino Vitale, a Republican, publicly rejected mask-wearing on the grounds that covering one’s face dishonors God. This view is echoed by some individual faith leaders, with churches flouting requirements that congregants wear masks. Meanwhile, media-savvy pastors have put anti-mask posts on Facebook that have been viewed millions of times. And a recent study revealed that the rejection of masks is higher in populations that associate with conservative politics and the idea that the United States is a divinely chosen nation. Is it that masks are a religious matter, or is religion being used to suit people’s political agendas? Socially speaking, both things can be true. (Read more.)


From AEIR:

Each year, 650,000 Americans die from heart disease, 600,000 die from cancer, 430,000 die from lung disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. To fight these diseases Congress allocated $6 billion for cancer research to the National Cancer Institute and another $39 billion to the National Institutes of Health in 2018. 

The lockdown will cost us more than three hundred times this amount. For a three-hundred fold increase to NCI and NIH budgets, we might well have eradicated heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and Alzheimer’s. Over just a couple of years, that would have saved far more than two million lives. 

The lesson here is a simple one: There is no policy that just simply “saves lives.” The best we can do is to make responsible tradeoffs. Did the lockdowns save lives? Some people claim they did – at a cost of $7 million per life saved if the initial estimates were correct – while others fail to establish any connection between lockdowns and lives saved. 

Regardless, there are all manner of other tradeoffs here. The lockdowns didn’t just cost millions of people’s livelihoods, they also cost people’s lives. Preliminary evidence points to a rise in suicides. Nationwide, calls to suicide hotlines are up almost 50 percent since before the lockdown. People are less inclined to keep medical appointments, and as a result life-saving diagnoses are not being made, and treatments are not being administered. Drug overdoses are up, and there is evidence that instances of domestic violence are on the rise also.

But what if the lockdown actually didn’t save 2 million lives? There is strong, if not irrefutable, evidence that the initial projections of Covid-19 deaths were wildly overstated. (Read more.)