Friday, July 30, 2021

Looking at 1630s English Fashions

From Sarah A. Bendall:

This woman wears a gown, falling lace band and also holds onto a fan. More interestingly though she appears to have a purse dangling from her waist. In the seventeenth century purses such as this were rarely used to actually carry money, as women such as the one depicted in this engraving rarely engaged in commercial exchanges that required cash. These purses could also contain mirrors (which is probably indicates what it was most commonly used for). They could also be used to carry around sewing materials or sweets, and other bits and pieces.

 Muffs in the seventeenth century, as they are now, were design to keep the wearer’s hands warm when outside. They are believed to have first come about in the sixteenth century, possibly originating from the fur trim that was common on the cuffs of a gown. Most muffs during this period appear to have been made from fur, although there are fabric muffs such as this one from the eighteenth century, so it is totally plausible that they were also made from fabric too. In my archival research on English royal wardrobes I’ve actually never come across a muff, well, in tailoring bills anyway. So I’m not sure exactly where they were sourced. Nor have I been able to find any extant seventeenth-century examples in museum collections. (Read more.)


Trump Was Right, Biden Was Wrong

 From Gingrich 360:

On Jan. 12, former President Donald Trump visited the United States-Mexico border to thank the Departments of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and other law enforcement officers for their work in helping to secure the border.  

Most importantly, President Trump said “In particular, if our border security measures are reversed, it will trigger a tidal wave of illegal immigration — a wave like you’ve never seen before… To terminate those policies is knowingly to put America in really serious danger and to override the great career experts that have worked so hard.” 

On Jan. 20, President Biden issued the Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities. This executive order reversed President Trump’s Executive Order 13768 which “called for the prompt removal of all undocumented immigrants living in the United States and withdrew federal funding from so-called sanctuary states.” 

On the same day, President Biden issued the Proclamation on the Termination of Emergency with Respect to the Southern Border of the United States and Redirection of Funds Diverted to Border Wall Construction. This proclamation “halted construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border and stated that funds for border wall construction would be reallocated following a review of construction contracts.”  

The DHS also announced the suspension of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. The MPP program, or the Remain in Mexico policy, allowed border officers to send non-Mexicans seeking asylum to holding facilities on the Mexico side of the border as they awaited their immigration hearings.  

President Biden also issued two more Executive Orders on Feb. 2. The first was The Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, which reversed President Trump’s “zero tolerance” Executive Order 13481.  

The second was the Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. This order “revokes the Presidential Memorandum of May 23, 2019, which called for more stringent enforcement of immigration sponsorship requirements.” 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that there were 188,829 migrants encountered at the southern border in June. In May there were 180,034 encounters, and in January when Biden took office, there were 78,442.  

According to Fox News, “33,049 migrants were encountered in June 2020… in June 2019, when the border was in the midst of what was then a historic crisis at the border — 104,311 were encountered… June’s numbers also take the number of encounters in FY 2021 to more than 1 million, with three months left to go. That’s in comparison to just over 458,000 in all of FY 2020 and 977,509 in all of FY 2019.”  

Furthermore, “meth seizures away from ports of entry are also up 85 percent so far this fiscal year. Fentanyl and meth seizures at the ports of entry are also up, 719 percent and 781 percent, respectively” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.  (Read more.)


13,000 Years Ago

 From SciTechDaily:

A cluster of comet fragments believed to have hit Earth nearly 13,000 years ago may have shaped the origins of human civilization, research suggests. Possibly the most devastating cosmic impact since the extinction of the dinosaurs, it appears to coincide with major shifts in how human societies organized themselves, researchers say. Their analysis backs up claims that an impact occurred prior to start of the Neolithic period in the so-called Fertile Crescent of southwest Asia.

During that time, humans in the region — which spans parts of modern-day countries such as Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon — switched from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to ones centered on agriculture and the creation of permanent settlements. It is thought that the comet strike — known as the Younger Dryas impact — also wiped out many large animal species and ushered in a mini ice age that lasted more than 1,000 years. (Read more.)


Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Unseen and Unnoticed Servants

 From Jane Austen's World:

Without much explanation, Austen’s contemporaries could easily gauge the number of servants that the Bertrams or the Woodhouses employed (at least 7-9 inside their grand houses and more in the fields and gardens) against the socially downward turn the Elliot family and Dashwood women experienced by the number of their reduced help, which in the latter instance was three. The Dashwood women were able to maintain some kind of social status within their unenviable income of £500 a year and with the help of a friendly (and very rich) Mrs. Jennings.

Mrs and Miss Bates employed a maid of all work to help them with their daily chores, although they were dependent on the kindness of their neighbors to help make ends meet. Fanny Price’s parents in Portsmouth engaged two housemaids, impoverished as they were, their poverty due no doubt to Mr. Price’s drinking and meager income, which needed to stretch to clothe and feed a family of 12. Only Mrs Smith, Anne Elliot’s old school friend, an impoverished widow, was too poor to “afford herself the comfort of a servant.” (Persuasion, Chapter 16.) She lived in public accommodations in Bath, whose landlady employed only one servant for her lodgers.

Austen’s descriptions of her characters reveal much about the way they treated their help. Imagine having to work under Mrs. Norris’s direction or Mrs. Elton’s! Those two exacting women, neither of whom possessed an ounce of compassion, set the most stringent standards, yet still found time to complain about their staff’s performances.

Compare their attitude to Colonel Brandon’s, who treated underlings with respect and caring, or Mr. Darcy, whose housekeeper’s admiration for her master helped change Elizabeth’s opinion of the man she rejected for being too proud, distant, and arrogant. 

Austen’s oblique descriptions of other characters’ interactions with their servants – Mr. Woodhouse (Emma’s father), for example – causes the reader to contemplate poor James’s situation as his coachman. James was asked to ferry guests like Mrs and Miss Bates back and forth, regardless of time or weather, which was considered a terrible imposition by Austen’s contemporaries. Mr. Woodhouse’s cook, who probably failed to satisfy her employer’s exacting standards for boiling an egg or making gruel, must have suffered silently through his passive aggressive sighs of disappointment for not achieving perfection. 

Then there is Sir Walter Elliot, whose ego was twelve sizes larger than his income, and whose ability to employ the help he was accustomed to was reduced to such a degree that his daughter Elizabeth chose not to invite the Musgroves to dinner, but only to an evening get-together where the lack of servants would not be so obvious. Sir Walter’s major sin in the eyes of Austen’s contemporaries was to squander his fortune to such an extent that he had to rent out his estate and downsize to a mere townhouse in Bath. (Read more.)


Soros and the Minneapolis Police Force

 From Just the News:

The Minneapolis City Council voted 12-1 on Friday to push a petition drive to replace Minneapolis' police force with a department of public safety onto the November ballot.

The proposal asks voters if they want to approve a plan to replace the police department with a new public safety department focused on a "comprehensive public safety approach" that would include police officers "if necessary to fulfill the department's responsibilities."

A new political committee calling itself Yes 4 Minneapolis gathered 20,000 petition signatures to place a question on the ballot to amend the city's charter. In February, The Reformer reported the group is fueled by a single $500,000 donation from progressive activist billionaire George Soros' Open Society Policy Center, citing campaign finance documents.

The plan would eliminate the charter's minimum number of police and remove the mayor's "complete power" over the department.

The plan's advancement follows a June court order for the 435,000-person town to hire more police since it's currently violating its charter by understaffing police after many quit or claimed disability after the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson's writ of mandamus ordered Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to "immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force" of at least 730 sworn officers, or more if required by the 2020 Census to be published later this year, by June 30, 2022.

The writ of mandamus follows a year after the Minneapolis city council unanimously passed a resolution intending to disband the police force and create a new public safety model in response to George Floyd's death in police custody.

Meanwhile, violent crime surged in the city. Carjackings increased 537% year-to-date in November 2020. More than 550 people were wounded by gunfire in 2020, exceeding a 100% increase over 2019, Minnesota Public Radio reported, while people shot more than 24,000 bullets in Minneapolis in 2020.

(Read more.)


Unicorn Bones?

 From Live Science:

A German cave once famous for its "unicorn bones" during medieval times is home to a far-rarer non-mythical treasure: a piece of symbolic artwork created by Neanderthals, a new study finds. 

The artwork, a chevron design, was carved into the toe bone of the now-extinct giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus), said the researchers. The team dated the bone to 51,000 years ago, a time when Homo sapiens hadn't yet ventured into the region, suggesting that the Neanderthals had carved the bone on their own, without influence or help from anatomically modern humans, the researchers wrote in the study, published online Monday (July 5) in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The symbolic artwork suggests Neanderthals had a greater cognitive capacity than previously thought. 

"Neanderthals were very smart," study lead researcher Dirk Leder, an archaeologist at the State Service for Cultural Heritage Lower Saxony in Hanover, Germany, told Live Science. "They were able to communicate and express themselves by symbols. They were probably cognitively very similar to us as a human species." (Read more.)


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Basque Cake

From BBC:

The rounds of raw dough, now shiny from a brush of egg wash, are loaded onto wooden planks and carried to the brick oven. These 150 traditional shortbread cakes – called Gâteau Basque – are the bakery's pride and joy.

Gâteau Basque has become an emblem of the French Basque Country, a region known for fierce cultural pride. Like the trendy burnt Basque cheesecake that hails from the nearby Spanish coast, the popularity of the Gâteau Basque lies in its elegant simplicity and a recent interest by international visitors looking to sample a decidedly regional treat.

While the exact origins of the recipe are unclear, legend has it that a Basque woman named Marianne Hirigoyen is to thank for the modern version of the cake. Originally from a thermal village called Cambo-les-Bains, Hirigoyen began to make and sell her Gâteau Basque in the market of Bayonne sometime around the 1830s. Over the next century, the cake remained a traditional dessert eaten after Sunday dinners as each household's recipe was passed down from one generation to the next. (Read more.)


Pelosi: Abuse of Power

 From the New York Post:

Nancy Pelosi used to point her angry finger at Donald Trump, but she leaves him in the dust when it comes to busting norms, dividing Congress and causing mayhem. If anyone is to blame for the hyper-partisanship in Washington these days, it’s the spiteful House speaker. 

She behaves more like a Mafia don waging a gang war than a dignified, fair and honest presiding officer, which is what the speaker’s role requires. 

Pelosi abuses her power in ways that once were unthinkable. Her speakership has been the antithesis of Lincoln’s entreaty to “the better angels of our nature.” Everyone in Congress — and, by extension, the nation — has been sullied by the spite and vitriol she has injected into the political sphere. There is no grace or Christian charity, just the barren wasteland of the zero-sum game, power for power’s sake. 

It’s made all the worse by her increasingly frantic claims to be a “devout Catholic.” 

The fact that all this venom is packaged in the shape of a small, elderly, expensively shod woman has bestowed upon her an element of deference her actions do not deserve. But last week there were a couple of signs that she’s finally worn out her welcome.  (Read more.)