Saturday, January 16, 2021

Jelgava Palace


Marie-Thérèse de France
From Atlas Obscura:

Constructed on the site of a medieval Livonian fortification, the property was acquired by the Duchy of Courland after the disbandment of the crusading order. Anna Ivanovna, of the ruling Romanov dynasty in Russia, lived in the old castle during her tenure as the Regent of Courland. This lasted until her accession to the Imperial Russian throne in 1730.

It was Duke Ernst Johann von Biron who commissioned the new palace in Jelgava to be built in place of the old castle. It was completed in two stages, reflecting the rise and fall in his fortunes. In the late 18th-century, the duchy was annexed by the Russian Empire and the palace in Jelgava came into the possession of its tsars.

Fleeing from the terror and bloodshed unleashed during the French Revolution, the future Louis XVIII, was given sanctuary at the palace at Jelgava. Here, he set up a court in exile, following as closely as possible the courtly rituals of Versailles. It was in this palace that Marie Therese, the only surviving offspring of the hapless Louis XVI and his consort Marie Antoinette, celebrated her nuptials. (Read more.)


What is Left to Say?

 From Dr. Malcolm Kendrick:

I have not written much about COVID19 recently. What can be said? In my opinion the world has simply gone bonkers. The best description can be found in Dante’s Inferno, written many hundreds of years ago.

In it, Dante describes the outcasts, who took no side in the rebellion of angels. They live in the vestibule. Not in heaven, not in hell, forever unclassified. They reside on the shores of the Acheron. Naked and futile, they race around through a hellish mist in eternal pursuit of an elusive, wavering banner, symbolic of their pursuit of ever-shifting self-interest.

I find this description of the desperate pursuit of an elusive wavering banner rings rather true. This, it seems, is pretty much the place we have arrived at. Which banner have you decided to follow?

The ‘COVID19 s the most terrible infection ever, and we must do everything in our power to stop it, whatever the cost’ banner.

Or the ‘What on earth are we doing? This is no worse than a bad flu, and we are destroying the world economy, stripping away basic human rights and killing more people than we are saving’ banner.

There may be others.

Between these two, main, completely incompatible positions, lies the truth. It is in pretty poor shape. It has been crushed, and bent out of shape, smashed, and left as a broken heap in the corner. I search where I can, to find the fragments, in an attempt to bring together a picture that makes some kind of sense.

But what to believe? Who to believe?

I feel somewhat like Rene Descartes. In order to find the ineluctable truth he scraped everything away until he was left with ‘Cogito, ergo sum’. ‘I think, therefore I am.’

I have stripped away at the accuracy of PCR COVID19 testing. I found myself left with nothing I could make any sense of. I hacked down to establish the way that COVID19 deaths are recorded. All I found were assumptions and difficulties. (Read more.)


Banking, Trade & Commerce In Ancient Phoenicia

 From The Collector:

The turn of the 12th century BC in the Eastern Mediterranean was a turbulent time, to say the least. Because of reasons unknown, numerous tribes of barbarian seafarers were ejected from their homes in the northern Aegean around 1,200. The tribes formed a confederation and came sweeping into Anatolia and the Near East on a bloodthirsty rampage.

Mycenaeans ruling from the island of Crete were first to feel their wrath. The Sea Peoples torched Knossos and sent ancient Greece spiraling into a dark age. Then they landed on the shores of Egypt but were repelled by the forces of Ramses III after a hard-fought war. Despite being victorious, Egypt’s conflict with the Sea Peoples jeopardized its colonies in the Levant and plunged the state into a thousand-year decline.

The Hittite Empire, located in modern-day Turkey, also faced the onslaught of these marauding refugees: it was wiped off the face of the earth entirely. But there was one civilization that survived this calamity: ancient Phoenicia. (Read more.)


Friday, January 15, 2021

What the Habsburgs Did for Us

 From UnHerd:

Last year was the 100th anniversary of the Empire’s final dissolution via the Treaty of Trianon, which fixed the lasting borders of the successor states. The coincidence spurred a minor flurry of books on the dynasty’s dénouement, of which Martin Rady’s huge — but gripping — The Habsburgs: The Rise and Fall of a World Power (Penguin) stands out.

As the title suggests, the volume is equally about the early as late phases of the Habsburg story. Yet, probing the Dual Monarchy’s pre-history alerts us to enduring traits which enabled the later Habsburgs to hold together their “rag bag” of heterogenous territories, in defiance of powerful romantic and liberal nationalist movements.

In 1848, in the face of a radical uprising in Vienna, and a nationalist one in Hungary, it looked to many observers as if the Habsburg Empire was finished. Yet, after restoring order with Russian help, in cultural and intellectual terms it thrived for another seven decades.

For Rady the unquestionable key to the dynasty’s might was its mystique. It was imbued with an aura of sacral legitimacy which not only held the loyalty of subjects but imbued the family’s members with a driving sense of vocation: “they conceived of their power as both something they had been predestined for and part of the divine order in which the world was arranged.” The self-concept was manifested through intense Eucharistic and Marian piety — well beyond that of other royal households.

Domestic super-piety put something numinous at the heart of the “Holy Roman Empire”, over which the family presided almost continuously between 1438 and its dissolution in 1806. It also meant that, whatever the personal moral failings of its leaders, the “odour of sanctity” clung persistently to the Austrian polity, and even more to the imperial personage.

Franz Joseph’s long reign (he ruled from 1848 to 1916) and the literature through which perception of its later decades is refracted, including the retrospective novels of Joseph Roth and Jaroslav Hašek, tend to anchor it in our minds as something tragic — an age of elegant uniforms and doomed politics.

For contemporaries, their own lived experience was different. Presentations of the royal house in popular literature had a sense of “sacred drama” about them. The personal sorrows of Franz Joseph, who lost both wife and son before their time, together with the burdens of ruling “were likened to Christ’s Crown of Thorns, confirming the emperor as not only the ruler of peoples but also their redeemer.”

Ethnic fragmentation was contained because the emperor “became the almost exclusive focus of loyalty and symbol of an idea that transcended nation.” Unlike in today’s culture war and Brexit battles, national-separatist ambitions were more pronounced among the intelligentsia than urban-worker and rural-labourer population bases.

In 1908, honouring the 60th anniversary of the Emperor’s accession, “hundreds of thousands of Galician Poles and Ruthenes bought cheap transparencies of the emperor, putting them in their windows so that at night the streets … shone with identical portraits of Franz Joseph.” Translucence and transcendence momentarily coalesced.

As Rady points out, Franz Joseph’s recovery of the older Habsburg genius for “revolution from above” also served to forestall political radicalism, with timely social reform staving off dislocating socialist revolution after 1848.

The later Habsburgs, though devoutly Catholic, were, for the period, surprisingly unsectarian. As John Van der Kiste notes in The End of the Habsburgs: The Decline and Fall of the Austrian Monarchy (Fonthill) when the emperor travelled within his dominions, “he not only visited Protestant and Orthodox churches but attended services in them”. His interfaith encounters extended to synagogues and, after the occupation (later annexation) of Bosnia, mosques as well.

Franz Joseph occasionally made off-colour remarks about Jews in private but was a zealous defender of their civil rights — a reminder that the policing of language is not an invariable guarantee of social progress. Full emancipation of Jews in both halves of the empire came as an integral part of the emperor’s constitutional reform programme of 1867. Later he blocked the entry into office of vicious anti-Semite Karl Luger as elected Mayor of Vienna for two whole years from 1895.

Maybe Franz Joseph was influenced by the late medieval chroniclers who constructed elaborate lineages linking the Habsburgs back to the Kings of the Old Testament and even to Noah. Certainly, the very real affection the Empire’s Jews felt towards him is attested to in surviving silver Torah scroll holders, capped with the Habsburg double-eagle, produced in significant numbers during his reign. (Read more.)


From History:

Early in her reign, Sisi developed a deep interest in Hungary, then a rebellious part of her husband’s empire. She believed the Hungarian people deserved greater freedoms and respect, and collaborated with her close friend, the dashing Hungarian statesman Gyula Andrássy, to advance the Hungarian cause. She further alienated the Viennese aristocracy by filling her personal staff with Hungarian nationals.

In 1867, Hungary became an equal partner in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Franz Joseph was crowned King of Hungary and Sisi became queen. Hungarians were given new freedoms, and Franz Joseph was allowed back into the royal bed (the couple’s last child, Marie Valerie, was born in Budapest in 1868). For her part in the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Sisi was beloved by the Hungarian people. (Read more.)


Sex-trafficking Victims and Planned Parenthood

 From Live-Action:

Victims of sex trafficking are sometimes taken to abortion facilities or Planned Parenthood centers for forced abortions by their pimps and, in some cases, the doctors they are taken to may have been clients of their pimps. This was revealed in a stunning report published by the Annals of Health Law in 2014 and entitled, Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking, notes that survivors also had “significant contact with clinical treatment facilities, most notable Planned Parenthood.” (Read more.)


Why the Fossil Record Is Mostly Male

 From Atlas Obscura:

They found 75 percent of bison fossils in such collections were males. This wasn’t a surprise, based on what Pečnerová had theorized about mammoth herd behavior, since bison social structure similarly isolates young males. “By [the mammoth] anology, some of the male bison are going off and doing stupid things,” Gower says, adding that the researchers were not able to test for age to further support the theory, but he hopes to in the future.

Among the brown bear populations, two thirds were male, and this was a little more surprising. Bears don’t herd. “In America, you might observe a group of brown bears in Yellowstone congregating around a garbage bin, but they’re usually on their own,” Gower says. They would have to consider other behavioral differences that might explain the discrepancy. The researchers theorize that males had much larger ranges than females, so they died across a wider area and range of environments, which in turn made their fossils more easily discoverable by humans. The sex discrepancy thinned out for specimens collected at higher altitude, where food is more scarce and females subsequently have larger ranges. Pečnerová says she was surprised by these findings, as bear populations tell a very different story than do mammoths and steppe bison. “However, if you give it more thought,” she says, “it makes perfect sense.” (Read more.)


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the English College

From The Venerable English College Archives:

Christmas is a time for carols, even if this year we may only be able to sing them from the comfort of our home, and none is more popular than O Come, All ye Faithful. This is a Victorian translation of a Latin hymn, Adeste Fideles, probably written by John Francis Wade (1711–86), an English Catholic musician who spent most of his adult life in Douai, in France.

It has been suggested that the hymn contained a coded reference to a ‘joyful and triumphant’ event that took place in the Palazzo Muti, Rome, 300 years ago this New Year’s Eve: the birth, on 31 December 1720, of Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Silvester Severino Maria Stuart (1720–88), better known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. Indeed the words of the hymn, ‘born the King of Angels’ (Regem Angelorum), contained a wordplay on ‘King of the English’ (Regem Anglorum), for the new-born baby who, in the eyes of his supporters, would one day become the rightful ‘King Charles III’. (Read more.)


Four Lessons About the Left

 From TFP:

The first lesson that must be learned is that the left’s mode of operation is different from the right. The left’s moral relativism allows it to be selective in calling something wrong. The radical left has always taught that the end justifies the means. Its followers do not believe in objective right or wrong. Anything that advances its revolution is moral and praiseworthy. Anything that hinders the revolution must be scorned and vilified.

Thus, the Capitol’s storming was a wrong act that needs to be condemned. However, do not expect this censure to be applied to similar actions performed by the left. It does no good to contrast the Capitol incident with the hundreds of left-approved, “mostly peaceful” riots that caused an estimated $2 billion in damages over the summer. Conservatives will point in vain to a thousand inflammatory quotes and videos of liberal politicians justifying and validating the civil unrest during 2020. Leftists see such violence as well and good. It favored their revolution.

This is the left’s mode of acting. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. (Read more.)


From The Federalist:

So much for incitement. As to insurrection, at no point was the overthrow of the government of the United States even a remotely possible outcome, not even close. Those cosplaying idiots taking selfies in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and parading around with podiums had no intentions of forming a new government. This was an expression of anger, not a realistic, organized coup attempt. Anyone among the rioters who believed their actions would result in the overthrow of the government, if there were any, were delusional to the point of insanity.

So if it wasn’t incitement and it wasn’t insurrection, why do the Democrats, the corporate media, and the big tech tyrants want you to believe it was? That is quite simple, actually. The purpose is to create an atmosphere of crisis and emergency that gives cover to extreme and illiberal actions to punish and silence those with whom they disagree politically.

And that has worked. Trump is banned from Twitter, as are thousands of his supporters, and big tech has colluded to destroy its competitor, Parler. Democrats are moving forward with an absurd and pointless impeachment, Simon & Schuster has canceled Sen. Josh Hawley’s book that criticizes big tech, and people who merely attended the rally and never stormed the Capitol are being fired and abused. (Read more.)


A Controversial Sculpture

 From ArtNet:

It’s a question haunting many monuments toppled in 2020. In this case, the simple answer is the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond, where it arrived Tuesday morning. More complicated, though, is what the museum, which is currently closed for renovation, will do with it. 

“Since we first learned that the statue may come to the museum, we had always intended to display it,” Andrew Talkov, the museum’s senior director of curatorial affairs, tells Artnet News. “There was never a thought of simply putting it in storage and hiding or holding onto it simply for posterity.”

Indeed, when the museum reopens in the spring of 2022, one of the most divisive symbols in the ongoing debate over historical public statuary will be on full display, likely in a larger exhibition about the history and evolution of “Confederate memorialization, from a variety of viewpoints,” Talkov says. 

But display does not equal endorsement, the curator is quick to clarify. “We’re not going to decide,” he says. “It’ll be our society that decides how they want to handle these types of monuments in the future.”

Though programming plans are in the early stages, the curator says he intends to present the statue in a balanced, historically-informed manner. It won’t be neutral, but it won’t be geared toward the polemical either. The goal, he says, is to “connect our past with our present. It’s difficult to understand why the monument was removed if we don’t understand how the monument came to be in the first place,” he says. (Read more.)


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Mystery of Harriet Tubman’s Cabin

 From Atlas Obscura:

Born Araminta Ross, she married John Tubman and renamed herself Harriet, after her mother. As an adult, Tubman helped around 70 enslaved people flee through and hide within the landscape, living off the creatures it provided, and passed her knowledge to several dozen more. “This place we’re looking for, where she grew up, this was her training ground,” Schablitsky says. “This is what gave her the tools and experience to be successful as a conductor of the Underground Railroad.”

Experts have been looking for this site for at least 20 years, says Kate Clifford Larson, a Tubman biographer. Before the search for Ben Ross’s cabin began along Harrisville Road, there was a misconception that Tubman had been born in nearby Bucktown. Local papers in another nearby town, Cambridge, had reported on Tubman’s roots in the 1940s, but a 1943 biography by Earl Conrad placed her birthplace in Bucktown, and the town began claiming her as a daughter, Larson says. That idea lost traction when researchers found a note in the account record of the Thompson family, who enslaved Ross, indicating that they had hired a midwife to help deliver a child in 1822—presumably Araminta. Court records from the 1850s also set Tubman’s birthplace on the Thompson plantation; she and her mother would be enslaved by the Brodess family, who hadn’t yet moved to Bucktown. “It’s a fascinating study about how memory shifts when certain people become empowered to tell their version of the story,” Larson says. For years, the former Thompson land was privately owned. Now, much is government-owned—the current search covered land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—and deed-mapping efforts are ramping up, as is work to map census records of enslaved and free Black residents. (Read more.)

The Full List of President Trump’s Accomplishments

 We will never forget. From LifeSite:

As the world focuses on the deletion of Trump’s accounts from the most prominent social media sites, LifeSite presents these lists so that Trump’s pro-life, pro-family accomplishments are not forgotten. They are long lists, but worth reading all the way through.

Broad pro-life accomplishments

An important part of being pro-life is protecting the rights of people with disabilities

The above-mentioned Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has taken many actions to protect the rights of vulnerable people, particularly those with disabilities. It is this office that was part of the Trump administration’s efforts to get California and Vermont to comply with laws protecting conscience rights in healthcare, and its intervention to ensure people hospitalized with the coronavirus had access to a priest and the Last Rites.

Below is a list from OCR of its many accomplishments in the area of protecting and helping Americans with disabilities. Many of these also intersect with bioethics, like the rationing of healthcare. OCR compiled this list in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Defending Rights and Supporting Critical Needs During COVID-19

  • Awarding Funding to Address the Needs of Individuals with Disabilities in Emergency Responses: CDC has awarded $3 million in COVID-19 funding to support the development of resources for people with disabilities who have extreme low literacy and the creation of national standards to inform emergency response communications for reaching people with disabilities. CDC also awarded $10 million in COVID-19 funding to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities to address the needs of Americans with disabilities in COVID-19 preparedness, planning, mitigation, and recovery efforts.
  • Unprecedented Support for Independent Living: Through the CARES Act, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) awarded an unprecedented $85 million in direct funding to more than 350 Centers for Independent Living (CILs), community-based organizations led by individuals with disabilities. With this funding, individuals received food and prepared meals, personal care and basic home items, personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves to ensure continuity of support services, housing assistance, and alternative transportation for medical appointments. CILs also transformed direct services to include virtual options and supported people with disabilities by providing access to technology and the Internet.
  • Guidance on Disability Rights Protections: In March 2020, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Bulletin on Civil Rights laws and HIPAA during the COVID-19 pandemic, reminding covered entities of their obligations to provide effective communications and reasonable modifications to persons with disabilities. This follows emergency guidance issued in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
  • Preventing Disability Discrimination in Triage Decisions: In April 2020, OCR resolved a complaint against Pennsylvania after the state revised its interim Crisis Standards of Care to prevent disability discrimination in triaging of vital health care.
  • Preventing Disability Discrimination in Ventilator Allocation Decisions During COVID-19: In April 2020, OCR resolved a complaint with the state of Alabama concerning ventilator rationing guidelines that categorically excluded persons with profound intellectual disabilities.
  • Preventing Disability Discrimination in Hospital “No Visitor” Policies During COVID-19: In June 2020, OCR resolved a complaint with the state of Connecticut after the state issued an executive order on no-visitor policies in hospitals to ensure these policies do not deny reasonable access to needed support persons for people with disabilities. OCR also resolved a complaint with Hartford Hospital after it agreed to grant a 73-year-old woman with aphasia access to support persons to help with her communication and comprehension in her treatment.
  • Protecting Rights and Preventing Abuse in Long-Term Care: ACL began issuing guidance in March to help State Long-Term Care Ombudsmen continue working to protect the health, welfare, and rights of nursing home residents, most of whom are protected under the ADA.
  • Protecting Against Disability Discrimination in State Triage Plan: In June 2020, OCR resolved a complaint against Tennessee after it updated its crisis standards of care plan to ensure that the criteria does not discriminate against persons based on disability or age. Through technical assistance, the state updated its policies to ensure that hospitals do not deny life-saving care during a crisis based on stereotypes about disabilities or other impermissible factors.

Protecting Rights in Healthcare

  • Access to Health Care for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: In February 2019, OCR resolved a case in North Carolina alleging discrimination against an individual with autism who was deemed ineligible to be on a heart transplant wait list because of his disability. After OCR intervened in the case, the medical facility reversed course and allowed the individual to be eligible for the waiting list.
  • Access to Sign Language Interpreter for Deaf Child: In July 2019, OCR resolved a case with Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute to protect a 6-year-old patient’s rights to effective communication while attending physical therapy sessions.

(Read more.)


Ancient DNA Reveals Genetic History of Caribbean World

 From Sci News:

Prior to European colonization, the Caribbean was a mosaic of distinct communities that were connected by networks of interaction since the first human occupations in Cuba, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico around 6,000 years ago.

The pre-contact Caribbean is divided into three archaeological ages, which denote shifts in material cultural complexes.

The Lithic and Archaic Ages are defined by distinct stone tool technologies, and the Ceramic Age — which began about 2,500-2,300 years ago — featured an agricultural economy and intensive pottery production.

Technological and stylistic changes in material culture across these periods reflect local developments by connected Caribbean people as well as migration from the American continents, although the geographical origins, trajectories and numbers of migratory waves remain under debate.

“The islands’ first inhabitants, a group of stone tool-users, boated to Cuba about 6,000 years ago, gradually expanding eastward to other islands during the region’s Archaic Age,” said Dr. William Keegan, an archaeologist in the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.

“Where they came from remains unclear — while they are more closely related to Central and South Americans than to North Americans, their genetics do not match any particular Indigenous group.”

“However, similar artifacts found in Belize and Cuba may suggest a Central American origin.”

“About 2,500-3,000 years ago, farmers and potters related to the Arawak-speakers of northeast South America established a second pathway into the Caribbean.”

“Using the fingers of the Orinoco River Basin like highways, they traveled from the interior to coastal Venezuela and pushed north into the Caribbean Sea, settling Puerto Rico and eventually moving westward.”

“Their arrival ushered in the region’s Ceramic Age, marked by agriculture and the widespread production and use of pottery.” (Read more.)


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Queen Really Did Condemn Margaret Thatcher's Position Over Apartheid Sanctions

I enjoyed Season 4 of The Crown. Yes, I am aware that some dramatic license was taken. From Elle:

This particularly dramatic moment in The Crown is absolutely true. Following their face-to-face argument about the sanctions (this particular confrontation most likely didn't happen in real life), the queen is so disturbed by Thatcher's refusal to back the plan that she takes matters into her own hands. Aside from her concern about Britain being on the wrong side of history regarding apartheid, the queen is also concerned with the future of the Commonwealth itself, which she holds dear. The optics of Britain being the one holdout are so bad that they could have a real impact on the future of the union, or at least her own position as its leader. In real life, documents declassified in 2017 show the queen was so incensed over Thatcher's position, she considered cancelling one of their weekly meetings. (Read more.)


China, Communism and American Schools

From The National Pulse:

A 2011 Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filing with the Department of Justice reveals CUSEF’s American lobbyist – BLJ Worldwide – working on behalf of the Chinese government-linked organization to influence American textbooks.

Concerning Tibet, which has been occupied by repressive Chinese Communist Party forces for over 70 years, CUSEF sought to counter this by “introducing” a “strong, factual counter-narrative to defend and promote the actions of China within the Tibet Autonomous Region.”

“By creating a factual account of the Chinese impact on Tibet and producing a report that eliminates the emotion from the situation, we believe we will have a strong platform from which to address critics of China,” the report continued.

To do so, BLJ promised to liaise with “editors and publishers” of American textbooks:

“BLJ had conducted the first stage of a textbook analysis, and will proceed with contacting editors and publishers once the CUSEF sponsored study is published and there is material with which to approach the relevant parties.”

Other aspects of the campaign included:

  1. Initiate a short-medium term US campaign to influence key constituencies (politicians, academics & experts) as well as general public opinion regarding China’s true efforts and intentions in Tibet
  2. Change the debate about Tibet in the US to one that reduces the purely emotional arguments and promote accurate, factual evidence
  3. Develop and promote a positive and cohesive narrative description of China’s engagement and history with Tibet, noting the many educational, infrastructure, and other investments in the region
  4. Begin implementing a long-term strategy for better informing the next generation of US thought leaders about China-Tibet.

(Read more.)


A Brief History of Royal Pets

 From Vanity Fair:

Charles II of England, the “Merry Monarch,” loved amusement and being amused, and besides women, nothing amused him more than his beloved dogs. First pictured with a little spaniel in a Van Dyck painting at the age of five, he would become so famous for his love of these small dogs that a breed—the Cavalier King Charles spaniel—would eventually be named after him.

After he became king in 1660, he would often bring his dogs to council meetings, much to the annoyance of famed diarist Samuel Pepys. “All I observed there is the silliness of the king,” he wrote of a trip to Whitehall in 1667, “playing with his dog all the while, and not minding the business.” Others were more amused by the king’s indolence, with Lord Rochester composing the following ditty: “His very dog at council board / Sits grave and wise as any lord.”

According to the journalist H.V. Morton, the king’s lighthearted nature also won the praise of the general public. “Nothing endeared Charles to the ordinary folk of his time more than his habit of walking in St. James Park with his dogs, and the hours he spent playing with the birds in his aviary in Birdcage Walk or in feeding the ducks on the canal,” he writes. Unfortunately, the king occasionally lost his dogs in the park. In 1660, he placed the follow (Read more.)


Monday, January 11, 2021

Colonization of Polynesia

 From Sci News:

Humans reached the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific by 3,500 years ago, contemporaneous with or even earlier than the initial peopling of Polynesia.

They crossed more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) of open ocean to get there, whereas voyages of similar length did not occur anywhere else until more than 2,000 years later.

There is debate over where people came from to get to the Marianas, with various lines of evidence pointing to the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, or the Bismarck Archipelago.

“We know more about the settlement of Polynesia than we do about the settlement of the Mariana Islands,” said Dr. Irina Pugach, a researcher in the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Dr. Pugach and her colleagues from Germany, Australia and Guam wanted to find out where people came from to get to the Marianas and how the ancestors of the present Mariana Islanders, the Chamorro, might be related to Polynesians.

To address these questions, the researchers obtained ancient DNA from two skeletons from the Ritidian Beach Cave site in northern Guam, dating to around 2,200 years ago.

“We found that the ancestry of these ancient skeletons is linked to the Philippines,” Dr. Pugach said.

“These findings strengthen the picture that has emerged from linguistic and archaeological studies, pointing to an Island Southeast Asia origin for the first settlers of the Marianas,” said co-author Dr. Mike Carson, an archaeologist in the Micronesian Area Research Center at the University of Guam.

“We also find a close link between the ancient Guam skeletons and early Lapita individuals from Vanuatu and Tonga in the Western Pacific region,” Dr. Pugach said.

“This suggests that the Marianas and Polynesia may have been colonized from the same source population, and raises the possibility that the Marianas played a role in the eventual settlement of Polynesia.” (Read more.)


The Enemy Of The American People

 From The Federalist:

For all its talk about safety, community, and the health of discourse, we see today that Twitter acts in favor of one interest and one interest alone: its own, even when it means destabilizing the American people. On Friday, the company permanently banned Trump from its platform and began a purge of conservative voices.

They claim this is needed to protect America from a coup. That is a farcical lie. They did it because their political enemies such as Trump and Sen. Josh Hawley are now out of power, and they mean to keep it way.

As a private company, Twitter is free to do as it pleases. And I am free to call them what they are: a shill for communist China that seeks the destruction of America.

Do you doubt that? Then explain why Iran can call for Jews to be killed on Twitter’s platform and China can spread propaganda about how rounding up Uyghur men and forced sterilization of Uyghur women is actually good, but Donald Trump can’t tweet. It is evil. And anyone defending Jack Dorsey’s death machine is complicit.

We live in two Americas right now. In Republican-led Florida and Texas, economies are open, people go to restaurants and movies, small businesses can prosper. In Democrat-led New York and California, lockdowns are crushing the people. They are not allowed to gather in person, only on big tech platforms. Guess which outcome Twitter prefers?

Now compare the effects of COVID on these two Americas. There is no rational way to argue that the lockdowns led to better results.

I want to put this as clearly as possible. Twitter attempted and largely succeeded in silencing dissent to policies that were against its own interests. They don’t care about the suicides, overdoses, missed cancer screenings, or poverty caused by these actions, they only care about money and power. Blood is dripping from Jack Dorsey’s hands across the globe and here at home as he counts his billions.

Feckless Democrats and faux conservatives applaud or look the other way at Twitter’s actions because it serves their purposes; the poor, blind fools have no idea that they will be next. This has nothing to do with the Constitution, or laws, this has to do with Dorsey being a liar who orchestrates mass disinformation campaigns on the American people. Twitter’s safety guidelines have nothing to do with safety, they have to do with profit.

I am not writing here about Section 230, or legislative approaches to rein in Big Tech. That can come later. I am writing to make it clear that Twitter has played a central role in destroying Americans’ lives through lockdowns, lying to them about Hunter Biden to win an election, and enabling the world’s most brutal regime to practice genocide in peace. (Read more.)

More HERE.

From The Post-Millennial:

Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, said on Sunday morning that there should be an investigation into possible racketeering on the part of tech giants.

Nunes, a member and former chairman of various House committees and subcommittees, was referring to the recent events pertaining to the social media platform Parler, which has been banned from Apple, Google and now Amazon within a 48-hour period. This has been criticized by many on both the political right and left as full-blown media censorship. (Read more.)


Bring Back Vocational Training In Schools

 From Forbes:

Throughout most of U.S. history, American high school students were routinely taught vocational and job-ready skills along with the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. Indeed readers of a certain age are likely to have fond memories of huddling over wooden workbenches learning a craft such as woodwork or maybe metal work, or any one of the hands-on projects that characterized the once-ubiquitous shop class.

But in the 1950s, a different philosophy emerged: the theory that students should follow separate educational tracks according to ability. The idea was that the college-bound would take traditional academic courses (Latin, creative writing, science, math) and received no vocational training. Those students not headed for college would take basic academic courses, along with vocational training, or “shop.” (Read more.)

Early America had widespread literacy and a vibrant culture of learning. From FEE:

Parents the world over are dealing with massive adjustments in their children’s education that they could not have anticipated just three months ago. To one degree or another, pandemic-induced school closures are creating the “mass homeschooling” that FEE’s senior education fellow Kerry McDonald predicted two months ago. Who knows, with millions of youngsters absent from government school classrooms, maybe education will become as good as it was before the government ever got involved.

“What?” you exclaim! “Wasn’t education lousy or non-existent before government mandated it, provided it, and subsidized it? That’s what my government schoolteachers assured me so it must be true,” you say!

The fact is, at least in early America, education was better and more widespread than most people today realize or were ever told. Sometimes it wasn’t “book learning” but it was functional and built for the world most young people confronted at the time. Even without laptops and swimming pools, and on a fraction of what government schools spend today, Americans were a surprisingly learned people in our first hundred years.

I was reminded a few days ago of the amazing achievements of early American education while reading the enthralling book by bestselling author Stephen Mansfield, Lincoln’s Battle With God: A President’s Struggle With Faith and What It Meant for America. It traces the spiritual journey of America’s 16th president—from fiery atheist to one whose last words to his wife on that tragic evening at Ford’s Theater were a promise to “visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior.”

In a moment, I’ll cite a revealing, extended passage from Mansfield’s book but first, I’d like to offer some excellent, related works that come mostly from FEE’s own archives.

In 1983, Robert A. Peterson’s "Education in Colonial America" revealed some stunning facts and figures. “The Federalist Papers, which are seldom read or understood today even in our universities,” explains Peterson, “were written for and read by the common man. Literacy rates were as high or higher than they are today.” Incredibly, “A study conducted in 1800 by DuPont de Nemours revealed that only four in a thousand Americans were unable to read and write legibly” [emphasis mine].

Well into the 19th Century, writes Susan Alder in "Education in America," "parents did not even consider that the civil government in any way had the responsibility or should assume the responsibility of providing for the education of children." Only one state (Massachusetts) even had compulsory schooling laws before the Civil War, yet literacy rates were among the highest in our history.

Great Britain experienced similar trends. In 1996, Edwin West wrote in "The Spread of Education Before Compulsion in Britain and America in the Nineteenth Century" that “when national compulsion was enacted ([in 1880], over 95 percent of fifteen-year-olds were literate.” More than a century later, “40 percent of 21-year-olds in the United Kingdom admit[ted] to difficulties with writing and spelling.” (Read more.)


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Hotel De Crillon and “Les Grands Appartements” by Karl Lagerfeld

From Forbes:

Commissioned by Louis XV in 1758 and built by his favorite architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, the property was occupied -around 1820- by the family of Duc de Crillon. In 1909, it became a hotel. For 250 years, the Hotel de Crillon has been the witness of the tumultuous and rich history from the French Revolution and the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte and the scenes of final war combats for the Liberation of Paris in 1944. Hotel de Crillon has always owned a strong reputation for its exquisite hospitality and  its great success with royal families, heads of states and celebrities. So many artists have written their names in the hotel’s guestbook. (Read more.)


Meanwhile, in Italy....

 Press Release from Nations in Action:

Rome, Italy (January 5, 2021) – An employee of the 8th largest global defense contractor, Leonardo SpA, provided a shocking deposition detailing his role in the most elaborate criminal act affecting a US election. Corroborating the DNI Ratcliff’s report of international intrusion, Arturo D’elio outlined the scheme that proved successful in using Leonardo computer systems and military satellites located in Pescara, Italy. Recent reports of a hack at Leonardo now appear to have been an orchestrated cover to mitigate blowback on the corporation which is partially owned by the Italian government.

Nations In Action, a government transparency organization, partnered with the Institute of Good Governance to thoroughly investigate and research the election irregularities which yielded the long awaited proof that a flawless plot to take down America was executed with extraordinary resources and global involvement. Americans and elected officials now have proof that the election was indeed stolen.

This provides the mechanism for each state to recall their slate of electors immediately or face lawsuits and request all federal government agencies to lock down all internal communications, equipment and documentation from the Rome Embassy. “Make no mistake, this is a coup d’etat that we will stop in the name of justice and free and fair elections,” stated Maria Strollo Zack, Chairman of Nations in Action.

The Institute for Good Governance issued the following statement:

Our mission is to provide the full truth, expose the perpetrators of this horrific crime, and ensure that every person involved, regardless of position, be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Nations In Action and the Institute for Good Governance are making the following demands on elected officials:

• Depose State Department officials starting with Rome staff including Stefan Serafini
• Immediately strip Leonardo SpA of all contracts and seize assets
• All congressional members must speak out against this foreign and domestic interference or face recalls and suspicion of involvement
• Implement the most severe penalties for participants who had knowledge or participated and refuse to assist in the investigation, (Read more.)

From Americans for Intelligence Reform:

The bombshell statements of a former American 007: Italy and Conte played a key role in the international computer plot to take out Trump. Among the means used the satellites of Leonardo Finmeccanica.

“The Italian government and Conte are directly involved in the electoral fraud that conditioned the American elections, leading to the illegal victory of Joe Biden.” TNT statements that former CIA spy Bradley Johnson released to during a Skype interview. According to the former CIA agent, the American embassy in Rome would have been hacked against Trump, with the complicity of Leonardo, a company 30% owned by the Italian government.

Leonardo, once better known as Finmeccanica, according to the former 007 USA would have used one of its satellites to send the manipulated votes to Frankfurt and then sent to the United States via Rome. Leonardo SpA is active in the defense, aerospace and security sectors. The largest shareholder is the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, which holds a stake of approximately 30%. The activities of the previously controlled companies such as AgustaWestland, Alenia Aermacchi, Selex ES, OTO Melara and Wass have merged into Leonardo-Finmeccanica. Leonardo is the 10th largest defense firm in the world and the third largest in Europe with defense revenues accounting for 68% of its turnover. The company is listed on the FTSE MIB index of the Milan Stock Exchange. The company is structured in 5 operational divisions: Helicopters, Airplanes, Aerostructures, Electronics and Systems for Security and Information. Conte in recent days had been the subject of press articles about plans to establish private intelligence agencies. (Read more.)


From Conservative Firing Line:

WHEN history is written, this moment in time will stand out as pivotal. Epic. Such is the gravity of the #2020electoral steal! IN this regard, while an avalanche of evidence has been unveiled at this site and elsewhere, it is beyond imperative to listen to, to absorb, and to pay forward the below videos, as well as to read the attached report and sworn affidavit, that is, before its entirety goes down the (censorship) rabbit hole. Poof-like. ENOUGH said. (Read more.)

Maria Zack - Italy did it from Robin Hanley on Vimeo.


More HERE, HERE, and HERE.


The Fewer Toys Children Have, The More They Play

 So true. From Raised Good:

Kathy Sylva, Professor of Educational Psychology at Oxford University, concluded after studying over 3000 children aged three to five that “when children have a large number of toys there seems to be a distraction element, and when children are distracted they do not learn or play well.” Her research shows that children with fewer toys whose parents spend more time reading, singing or playing with them surpass those from even more affluent backgrounds.

Dr John Richer, Pediatric Psychologist at John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford explains that when children receive a new toy they go through two stages: exploration followed by play.

During exploration mode, a child asks: “What does this toy do?”

And in play mode, a child asks: “What can I do with this toy?”.

It is during play mode that creativity, imagination, initiative, and adaptability thrive. When children are confronted by too many toys, they spend more time exploring and less time playing. (Read more.)


Saturday, January 9, 2021

A Brief History of St James’s Palace


From Royal Central:

King Henry VIII had St James’s built as a smaller residence to escape court life’s formality and stresses in Whitehall. Two of Henry’s children died at the palace; first was his illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset in 1536, and second was his daughter Queen Mary I, who died at St James’s in 1558. Henry’s other daughter, Queen Elizabeth I was also known to reside there often and is believed to have spent the night there whilst awaiting news on the Spanish Armada’s progress.

During the Stuart era, King Charles I’s mother-in-law, Marie de Medici lived at St James’s Palace for three years. However, as a Catholic former queen of France, her residence in England proved unpopular with Parliament, and she was asked to leave and return to Cologne. In 1649, Charles I spent his final night in the palace before his execution on January 30. (Read more.)

More HERE.


Target Africa

 From Catholic World Report:

Nigerian biomedical scientist and pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha first made headlines when she penned an open letter to Melinda Gates, cautioning her not to impose her markedly Western understanding of women’s liberation onto African countries. The Gates Foundation’s funding of reproductive health efforts in Africa, claimed Ekeocha, ultimately aims to “replace the legacy of an African woman (which is her child) with the legacy of ‘child-free sex.’”

She garnered further attention on BBC World News when she debated a reporter who claimed that the distribution of contraception in Africa would alleviate poverty and provide Africans access to what they need. “According to whom?” fired back Ekeocha. “These are colonial thoughts, so you better be careful with how you express yourself. It’s kind and generous people like yourself from the West who come tell [Africans] that what they need is contraception. So you give them contraception, and the next year they still don’t have an education, they still don’t have work. Westerners don’t ask Africans what they actually want.”

Her 2018 book Target Africa draws from “a broad array of well-sourced materials and documents,” telling “the story of foreign aid with strings attached, the story of Africa targeted and recolonized by wealthy, powerful donors.” Strings Attached, a documentary she produced last year, further exposes the neocolonialist threat imposed by Western corporations and NGOs onto African nations.

Ekeocha is an anomaly in today’s cultural landscape. Her pro-Africa, pro-woman, and pro-life rhetoric doesn’t exactly fit well in ideological boxes. This is due in part to the nature of the lines demarcating the factions in today’s “culture war.”

Many align themselves either with proponents for or reactionaries against ideals rooted in postmodern critical theory. Social justice warriors aim to subvert structures of power that have historically disadvantaged oppressed and underprivileged communities. And populists are wary of elites encroaching upon their established lifestyles and values. One tends to to carry out its goals with little regard for first principles, while the other does so with little regard for how the status quo has engendered unjust and inhumane conditions for the most marginalized. (Read more.)


Black Synagogues

 From The Times of Israel:

Among the Black congregations highlighted by Sapoznik were The Moorish Zionist Temple founded by Rabbi Mordechai Herman, who claimed direct Ethiopian lineage, and Congregation Beth B’nai Abraham founded in 1929 by the Barbados-born Rabbi Arnold Josiah Ford. Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew, a West Indian immigrant, founded The Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in 1919, and would go on to establish a network of synagogues in the US and the Caribbean based on traditional Orthodox Ashkenazi traditions. Sapoznik surmised that Blacks from the Caribbean may have adopted the religion of Jewish slaveholders, and that Blacks claiming Abyssinian (Ethiopian) lineage did so as a way of claiming a connection to Old Testament Hebrews. (Read more.)


Friday, January 8, 2021

Chesworth House

From Sussex Live:

Later, Chesworth was given to the Howard family, and their daughter Catherine spent her childhood at the Sussex estate. Catherine would grow up to become Queen Catherine, fifth wife to Henry VIII and scandal of the English court. Catherine, while growing up in Chesworth House, allegedly had flings both with a secretary and her music teacher before she married the king. However, she soon after marriage she was accused of getting involved with a courtier, which, alongside reports of her flings at Chesworth, resulted in her trial and execution in 1541.

Chesworth House is a serene and quiet place, but the peace of its surroundings are completely at odds with the house’s colourful past. Lord Thomas Howard, a relative of Catherine, was arrested at Chesworth House for plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth I. The Ridolfi Plot was set up Italian banker Roberto Ridolfi and aimed to replace Elizabeth with Mary, Queen of Scots, and make England a Catholic nation. Thomas Howard, a suitor of Mary, was arrested in Sussex at Chesworth and subsequently beheaded for high treason. (Read more.)


More HERE.


What Happened at the Capitol

From The Epoch Times:

Empty streets and a subdued atmosphere characterized Washington on Jan. 7 as Trump supporters processed the events of the previous day and the certification of the Electoral College votes by Congress overnight. Many were packing up to go home, at the same time a fence was being erected around the Capitol; the National Guard presence was obvious.

Marine veteran Tony Good traveled from Florida and walked to the Ellipse to hear President Donald Trump speak in the morning. He said Trump didn’t incite violence in his speech.

“No, absolutely not. There’s a line between inciting to riot and standing on convictions,” Good told The Epoch Times. “He wasn’t telling anybody to riot, he was just telling them it’s our right to protest. That’s a right we have in America.” Good became separated from his group and returned to his hotel to regroup after the speech. He didn’t go to the Capitol, but said he wishes he had.

“I call yesterday the first day in the 10-year war,” he said. “It’s going to be 10 years before this gets turned around. It’s going to take that long. War in the sense of … getting things to where they should be in America, as far as fair and free elections, election integrity. (Read more.)


From Townhall:

Footage from Wednesday's infamous pro-Trump rally, which turned into a riot, shows that not every Trump supporter was on board with the decision to trespass into the Capitol and ransack congressional offices.

"No Antifa, no Antifa," a woman is heard shouting as protesters break their way into the Capitol. Another Trump supporter can be seen attempting to physically restrain an individual damaging the doorway leading into the building. 

"Don't break that window," a person yells. 

A Twitter user who says she attended the rally captured the footage, claiming it was members of Antifa who started breaking windows. (Read more.)


From The Gateway Pundit:

Trump Supporters at the Capitol yesterday’s event in Washington DC told people to stop damaging property. For some reason Big Media doesn’t want to report this. Yesterday after the President spoke in Washington, the million or so followers of the President marched to the Capitol. This is when some individuals in the crowd started damaging the Capitol building. When this occurred, the Trump supporters in the crowd starting yelling at them and telling them to stop. (Read more.)


A woman was shot and killed by the capitol police outside the Senate Chamber, HERE.


Video of Capitol police leading protesters into the Capitol, HERE.


The Secret History of High-Society Gossip

 I watched two episodes of Bridgertown and it is not my cup of tea. But I found this article by Nancy Bilyeau to be fascinating. From Town and Country:

There have been rumblings among fans that this sort of “gossip sheet” comes from a later time than the early 19th century Regency period of Bridgerton, which based on a series of historical romance novels written by Julia Quinn. However, for two experts in the social customs of the Georgian and Regency period, a chronicler like Lady Whistledown has definite real-life precedents.

“Newspapers were plentiful during the Regency Era, with most of the stories published centering on politics, crime, fashion, infidelity, or royal doings,” says Geri Walton, author of Marie Antoinette’s Confidante and regular writer on 18th and 19th-century Europe. “I think any story that might stir up controversy and increase readership was covered by the press at the time. I’m also sure there were rumors and gossip about debutantes. The newspapers did focus on aristocrats and wealthy socialites.”

Historian Catherine Curzon, author of The Daughters of George III: Sisters and Princesses, says readers could closely follow the comings and goings of the upper classes in the popular “Fashionable World” newspaper columns, which were concerned with clothes, jewels and the general round of court balls and society events.(Read more.)


Thursday, January 7, 2021

People With Tidy Homes

From The Nester:

Tidy People don’t over decorate. They value a cleared off surface more than a highly decorated surface. Listen, I’m the biggest fan of tchotchkes that has ever been. I LOVE me some smalls and cute little decor. But over the years I’ve learned that having a bunch of pretty small things all over every surface was only making my life more difficult as someone who was already prone to being messy. Now I’m really picky about what I allow on my surfaces. I aim for 1-3 decorative pieces per surface depending on the surface size. This allows our house to still look pretty but at the same time, it seems clean, even if there’s a layer of filth! (Read more.)


The Sovietization of California

 From The Toronto Sun:

Yet, here I am, sitting in a state where corruption reigns (one of the leading Democrats of the last half-century told me years ago that politicians in California are window dressing; the real power in California is wielded by unions) and where, for nine months, normal life has been shut down, schools have been closed and small businesses have been destroyed in unprecedented numbers.

During these last five days in Florida, a state governed by the pro-freedom party, I went anywhere I wanted. First and foremost, I could eat both inside and outside restaurants. At one of them, when I stood up to take photos of people dining, a patron who recognized me walked over and said, “I assume you’re just taking pictures of people eating in a restaurant.” That’s exactly what I was doing. I even took my two grandchildren to a bowling alley, which was filled with people enjoying themselves playing myriad arcade games as well as bowling. None of that is allowed almost anywhere in California. It is becoming a police state, rooted in deception and irrationality.

Restaurants have been shut down (except for takeout orders), even for outdoor dining, for no scientific reason. After ordering Los Angeles county restaurants closed, the health authorities of Los Angeles county acknowledged in court that they had no evidence that outdoor dining was dangerous; they ordered restaurants closed, even to outdoor dining, solely in order to keep people home. The left’s claim to “follow the science” is a lie. The left does not follow science; it follows scientists it agrees with and dismisses all other scientists as “anti-science.” Science does not say that eating inside a restaurant at least six feet from other diners, let alone outside a restaurant, is potentially fatal, but eating inside an airplane inches from strangers is safe. (Read more.)


What is Truth?

 From Catholic Stand:

Maybe one good result of our polarized politics is that we as a society are getting out of the Relativism, or Subjectivism, which had become entrenched since the 1960s. One typical expression of Relativism is “You have your truth, and I have my truth.”

Relativism is the philosophy which says that a thing is whatever someone thinks or feels it is, that there are only points of view and opinions. According to Relativism, not only beauty, but all reality is in the eye of the beholder. U. S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy once wrote in a majority opinion, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”  You cannot get more Relativist than that.

The opposite philosophy is Realism, or Objectivism, which says that a thing is what it is  – regardless of what someone thinks or feels it is. Realism is the elaboration of the common sense possessed by every two-year old. There is an objective difference between a wall and a door, a piece of candy and a vegetable, walking and falling, getting attention and being ignored.

We all think philosophically, whether we want to or not, know it or not. As St. John Paul the Great said, “The human being by nature is a philosopher” (Fides et Ratio, 64). At the bottom of all our thoughts are assumptions about reality. Human beings cannot not philosophize just as they cannot not breathe in order to live. The question is not whether each of us has a philosophy; the question is whether each of us has a good philosophy or a bad philosophy.

Relativism is tempting because it is rooted in the common phenomena of two different people, who are experiencing the same thing, but in different ways, having different perceptions, and having different tastes or preferences. For example, it is no surprise when two people like different ice cream flavors. This is subjectivity. Everyone agrees that human beings can be subjective.

The opposite of subjectivity is objectivity, which is experiencing or seeing something as it really is. For example, seeing that a scoop of ice cream is not a scoop of mashed potatoes is being objective about that scoop. What people have disagreed about is whether, or about what, or to what degree human beings can be objective.

Have you heard “You have your truth, and I have my truth” or “different people think different ways” when the topic is racism, climate change, Donald Trump, lockdowns and masks to avoid Covid, or any other current hot-button topic? I haven’t. We are not hearing “One person’s racism is another person’s justice, and who’s to judge?” Or “You don’t want to follow the science, and I do want to follow the science, but it’s all good.” Those who believe in climate change and systemic racism propose them as objective truths. These proponents do not allow “climate deniers” and the “biased” to define their own “concepts of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life” in ways that exclude climate change and systemic racism. (Read more.)


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Epiphany and the Nobility of Humankind

 From Smoking a Ziggurat:

Christmas is the great festal season of the Mystery of the Incarnation. On the Twelfth Day of Christmas we celebrate the manifestation of this mystery. In the modern West, we focus on the story of the Magi, and the manifestation of this mystery to the Gentiles. In the East, the focus is more on the Baptism of Our Lord. (But note: in the modern Catholic Church we still celebrate the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism on the Sunday following Epiphany).

In any case, both of these Gospel events are all about helping us enter into the wonder of the Mystery of the Incarnation. The Eternal Word of God has entered into Time and Space and taken on our very humanity. The Creator Himself now has a created body, crafted from the same dust that we are. He whom the heavens cannot contain has come down among the lowly things. A new mediator, a new Adam, bridges heaven and earth once again. Shalom returns to the picture. The visit of the Magi and the Baptism of Our Lord both bring us face to face with the epiphany of the nobility of humankind as uniquely embodied in Jesus. (Read more.)


A recipe for galette des rois from The Spruce Eats:

For an extra-special holiday treat, bake this delicious galette des rois, a traditional French cake usually served on Epiphany, the day the Three Kings visited the baby Jesus. The name translates to "king cake," and is similar to the Mardi Gras king cake in that it also features a small prize hidden inside the filling.

A galette des rois is made of an irresistibly creamy almond filling sandwiched between two flaky, buttery layers of puff pastry. The ingredients for almond cream all go into a food processor to blend, and then the paste is spread onto store-bought puff pastry, making this impressive cake simple to put together. Once you master this foolproof recipe, you can experiment with different fillings or make your own puff pastry. Serve slices of the galette with tea or cafe au lait to balance the cake's sweetness. When it comes to the small prize (called a fève) hidden inside the filling, bakeries opt for porcelain or plastic figures, but a home baker can use a dried fava bean instead. The lucky guest who finds the fève becomes the "king" or "queen" of the evening and wears a paper crown. Of course, make sure to warn everyone about the fève—if you don't, some guests may leave the party with broken teeth. If you're making this cake for children, consider leaving out the fève altogether. (Read more.)