Sunday, March 26, 2023

The Murderous Children of 19th Century Britain

 Anyone who has read Dickens is aware that the lot of the poor in Victorian England was dire, in spite of continuous efforts  on the part of both church and state to give aid. While the Industrial Revolution brought many advantages to society in general, such as more efficient transportation, cheaper and plentiful food and personal amenities, the initial transformation of society from agricultural and rural to urban and mechanized caused great upheavals. Family life, religious custom, moral guidelines, were seemingly trampled in the maze of crowded slums of those whose new center of life was the factories where health and safety measures were practically unknown. No laws existed initially to protect children from working all day and so they labored at many jobs all over the country. One would not therefore be surprised at children turning to crime in the cities, like Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger. 

What surprised me about Christina Croft's carefully researched book about child murderers of the nineteenth century were how the children in the countryside seemed as depraved as those in the towns. Little children killing other little children just out of spite, curiosity, or for no apparent reason occurred in idyllic country villages as well as in thriving centers of commerce. Some people blamed the Penny Dreadfuls, which were serialized bloody and lurid tales aimed at a youthful audience, for giving violent ideas to unformed minds. Others blamed the fact that many poor families drank gin or ale when clean drinking water was absent, which it was most of the time. And so it seems many poor children, bereft of an adequate breakfast, were stumbling around intoxicated by mid-morning. In order to feed them, many destitute families sent their children, as soon as they were old enough, to work in service to middle class or wealthy families. It was in respectable and prosperous homes that many of the most infamous murder cases occurred, for the child servants were given the task of watching over the babies of the family. It seems the repressed or suppressed anger of some servant children manifested itself when they were supposed to be caring for helpless infants. England was shocked by such incidents, and the death penalty did not distinguish between adult and child criminals.

Besides willful murder, there were also children who raped other children, as well as children who enjoyed throwing rocks at strangers' heads and seeing them collapse. There were no gun laws regarding children; many curious young boys found it exciting to steal their fathers' firearms but then accidentally shot innocent passersby or even their friends and family members. Christina Croft has recorded dozens of tragic cases of all varieties of crime which put one more in mind of twenty-first century Baltimore, Maryland than nineteenth century Great Britain. My Beatrix Potter-like visions of Victorian children having rustic tea parties in the garden along with bunnies, dolls and badgers have been smashed forever.


On the Signature Bank Fiasco

 From The Post Millennial:

Regulators shut down New York City based Signature Bank on Sunday, a financial institution which had previously cut ties with President Donald Trump following the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Signature Bank is the second financial institution shuttered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) this week after Friday's collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. According to CNBC, "Signature is one of the main banks to the cryptocurrency industry. As of Dec. 31, Signature had $110.4 billion in total assets and $88.6 billion in total deposits, according to a securities filing."

On January 12, 2021, the bank told The New York Post that it had begun the process of closing Trump’s two personal accounts and “will not do business in the future with any members of Congress who voted to disregard the Electoral College.” According to the outlet, Signature also posted a “scathing statement” on its website slamming Trump stating, “We have never before commented on any political matter and hope to never do so again.” (Read more.)


From Brownstone Institute:

Indeed, notwithstanding all the Mickey Mouse aspects of the SIFI capital standards regime, it might well be wondered whether Signature and SVB would still be open today had they needed to adhere to JP Morgan levels of capital and liquidity, but one thing is certain: Getting the benefits of a posthumous SIFI designation that they were never required to adhere to while they were still among the living is a new low in Washington servility to the powerful. In this case, the billionaire overlords of Silicon Valley and the VC racket whose deposits were at risk until about 6PM Sunday night.

And yet, and yet. The grotesque bailout of the large depositors who wear the Big Boy Pants at these institutions is just the tip-of-the-iceberg of the outrage warranted by this weekend’s pitiful capitulation.

It apparently became evident even to the brain-dead zombies who run the triumvirate in Washington that bailing out all SVB and Signature Bank depositors would trigger a massive run on deposits at other “small” banks—and for that matter most any non-SIFI institution. So they extended the bailout to the entire $18 billion universe of US bank deposits, more than $9 trillion of which are not covered by the existing $250,000 FDIC insurance limit.

And pray tell what lighting enactment of a Congress which was not even in session over the weekend, or prior enactment that no one on earth ever heard of, was this sweeping commitment of taxpayer funds based on?

The true answer is essentially institutional arrogance. Technically, the new Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP) was invoked under the Fed’s emergency authorities to handle “unusual and exigent circumstances” by cranking up its printing presses. But this new addition to the alphabet soup of facilities first stood up during the 2008-2009 crisis is just plain over the top.

It will allow banks to borrow 100 cents on the dollar against the book or par value of trillions of UST and Agency debt on their balance sheets. Yet much of it is massively underwater owing to the fact that at long last the yields on fixed income securities are being allowed to normalize. And unlike normal free market practice, BTFP users won’t even have to over-collaterize their loans.

Accordingly, this is a huge gift to banks which were sitting on some $620 billion in unrealized losses on all securities (both Available for Sale and Held to Maturity) at the end of last year, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It also means that just the Big 4 banks—as shown in the second chart below—are getting a $210 billion bailout. (Read more.)


Harriet Tubman: A Story Told Through Landscape

 From Mahan Rykiel:

The subject of a 2019 Hollywood film and new statue in the Maryland Capitol, Harriet Tubman began her life and incredible story on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She was born into slavery and later escaped and helped others gain their freedom as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy, guerrilla soldier, and nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War; she is considered the first African-American woman to serve in the military. Her life and legacy are influenced deeply by the landscape and communities in which she was raised, enslaved, and worked. In 2013, 100 years after Tubman’s death, the State of Maryland and the National Park Service broke ground for a new protected area within the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. This 17-acre state-owned site lay entirely within the refuge’s boundaries on Maryland Route 335. The state designated the land and honored Tubman’s legacy with the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park. On the same date, the State of Maryland unveiled the 125-mile Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway, a route along an existing system of county, state, and federal roads which mirrored the route Tubman took while rescuing slaves.

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center invites visitors to experience Tubman’s world through exhibits that are informative and emotive, providing an in-depth understanding of Tubman’s early years spent in Maryland’s Choptank River region and her legacy as a leader in the resistance movement of the Underground Railroad. The park, which sits on the trailhead for the 125‐mile Byway, interprets how the landscape of the Choptank River region shaped her early years and the importance of her faith, family and community.

“The core of the Tubman interpretive experience is rooted in the physical geography and topography of the fields, forests, paths, and waterways of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. These landscapes are physical and material, on the one hand, and intangible and nonphysical on the other…. Rooting visitors in these places, such as her birth site at the Thompson plantation at Harrisville, the fields and woods of the Brodess farm and Bucktown, the forests, fields, wharves and creeks of Madison, the rivers and streams of Blackwater and the Choptank River estuary, and the Underground Railroad routes through Caroline County, can help visitors visualize the breadth and scope of the physical and social landscapes of Tubman’s life.” (Larson, 2014)

(Read more.)


Saturday, March 25, 2023

“O Jewel Resplendent”

From MDPI:

St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) comes down to us as one of the most dynamic intellectual figures of the twelfth century. As a leader of religious women in the Rhineland, she authored extensive volumes of visionary theology; designed visual images for at least one of those; composed the largest corpus of liturgical music ascribed to a single author of the Middle Ages; wrote works in natural science and medicine; preached to religious communities throughout her region; and engaged in an extensive correspondence with people from all ranks of society, from popes and kings down to local monks and nuns. This extraordinary, interconnected body of work offers us a unique entry point into medieval intellectual life, at once rooted in tradition and recasting that tradition in startlingly innovative ways. Hildegard’s Mariology exemplifies this creative range.
The best overview of Hildegard’s “theology of the feminine” remains the foundational work of Newman (1997). She demonstrated that for Hildegard, the feminine can be understood at a cosmic level as the matrix for the manifestation of divinity into time. The Virgin Mary is the most concentrated focal point of a dynamic that stretches from the figure of eternal Wisdom ordering creation, through the fertile but fallen mother Eve, and then on to the Virgin Mother Church. Essential elements in this Mariology include the predestination of the Virgin (i.e., that God preordained from eternity that the Virgin would bear his Son); Mary’s restoration of Eve’s fallenness through the power of virginity; and the Virgin’s exemplarity for Ecclesia, the Church, who is a Mother to the faithful in baptism and bears for them the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.1
Most studies of Hildegard’s Mariology find their richest sources in her lyrics. She composed more liturgical music for the Virgin Mary than she did for any other single subject: sixteen pieces that survive with musical notation (including antiphons, responsories, a sequence, a song, an Alleluia verse, and a hymn), as well as several others that survive only in a textual miscellany (Hildegard of Bingen 1998). There is good reason for this: Hildegard’s thought reaches its densest and most sublime in her liturgical poetry, which summarizes her larger theological project. Hildegard’s music thus provides an entry point for exploring the deeper roots of her Mariology, not only through manifest images of the Virgin but also through what Denk (2021) has called “Mariological allusion.” Essentially, we can learn even more about Hildegard’s views on the Virgin Mary by tracing allusions, analogues, and motifs that make the Virgin present even in the absence of explicit invocations. Denk (2021) has done this principally through musicological allusions to the wider chant repertoire, a valuable line of inquiry pioneered in recent years by Bain (2021).
This study, too, will take two of Hildegard’s musical compositions for the Virgin as its springboard: the antiphon, O splendidissima gemma; and the responsory, O tu suavissima virga. The context in which we will explore their allusive power, however, will be the treatise in which Hildegard embedded them: her first work, Scivias, written 1142–1151. This book (whose title is shorthand for “Know the Ways of the Lord”) consists of twenty-six visions organized into three parts and serves as a kind of summa or “summary” of Christian theology. The first part surveys the order of creation and its fall, both of Lucifer and the angels and of humans in Adam and Eve. The second part articulates the order of redemption, with a focus on the Incarnation, the Trinity, and the sacraments of the Church. The third part, finally, dramatically retells the stories of the first two by setting them within a vast “Edifice of Salvation,” with the Virtues as our guide through salvation history and into eternity.
This study of Hildegard’s Scivias will proceed not only from its text,2 but also from its illustrations and music. Hildegard designed a detailed cycle of illustrations for a copy of Scivias produced in her monastery during the final decade of her life, which I will refer to as the Rupertsberg Scivias.3 Although no extant copies of Scivias include musical notation for the song cycle in the work’s final vision, the notation does survive in copies of Hildegard’s music in two other manuscripts.4 As Fassler (2022) has recently argued, Hildegard certainly intended that her nuns would know both the illustrations and the music when they engaged with the treatise.5 Meanwhile, as I have argued elsewhere (Campbell 2013, 2021), the illustrations produced about two decades later function as teaching tools to refine and highlight certain aspects of the text. Interpretation of the work is dynamically strongest when it attends to all three of its modes of communication: textual, musical, and visual.
Previous studies of the Virgin Mary’s place in Scivias have focused on the contrast with Eve (Garber 1998) and the place of the Annunciation as a model for authorizing female inspiration (Wain 2017). Wain (2017) offers a valuable critique of the ways in which many discussions of medieval Mariology rely too simplistically on the “Eva/Ave” trope to set up an oppositional parallel between Eve and Mary. She suggests that Hildegard instead sees the Virgin Mary as a model for her own intellectual fertility, positing the opening illustration of the Rupertsberg Scivias (which accompanies Hildegard’s preliminary Protestificatio) as an adapted Annunciation scene, with Hildegard gestating and giving birth to the work. Garber (1998), meanwhile, draws together the architectural metaphors found in several of Hildegard’s Marian lyrics with the imagery of the edifice of salvation in Part 3 of Scivias to suggest that Hildegard and her nuns shared with the Virgin a role as builders, not only of the physical monastery that they renewed at the Rupertsberg, but also of the life of monastic virtue. She contrasts the symbolic abstraction of Eve and Mary in much of Scivias with the more physically concrete personifications of the Virtues, who thus offer more relatable role models for Hildegard’s nuns.
The salient historiographical issue is the extent to which the Virgin Mary could serve as a viable role model for medieval women. It is sometimes suggested that she could displace the gross misogyny that often resulted from the identification of women as “daughters of Eve.” But how realistic would that displacement be if we recognize that the Virgin Mary was in many ways “an inaccessible paragon” (Wain 2017, p. 164)? In Hildegard’s hands especially, the Virgin takes on cosmic proportions. We do not find Hildegard meditating on the humanly relatable aspects of the Virgin’s life, such as her compassion or sorrow for her Son, that would become powerful models in later medieval spirituality. Instead, as we will see in this study, Mary appears as “majestic and impersonal” (Newman 1997, p. 166), a radiant light shining distantly, blinding in its brilliance like the sun. But this study will also show that Hildegard mediated the Virgin’s light through analogues of traditional Marian imagery. Building on the insights of Garber (1998) and Fassler (2022), it will reveal how the Virgin exemplifies the life of the virtues and through them could indeed serve as a model for Hildegard and the virgin nuns under her care. Again, in contrast to later medieval spiritual practices that encouraged interior meditation on details of the Virgin’s life—even when those details, such as her reading at the Annunciation,6 could authorize women’s learning and intellectual life—Hildegard’s focus for her nuns was on actively developing virtues that for her imitate the Virgin’s key role in salvation history. When her nuns would join their voices in the music of the liturgy, in particular, they would be transformed into resplendent gems, “living stones” to build up the heavenly Jerusalem and take their place as the perfected work of the Church. (Read more.)


So Much for Transparency

 From American Greatness:

The Left and NeverTrump Right spent four years claiming “democracy dies in darkness” while extolling the virtues of resistance and transparency. Thus, their extreme overreaction to Tucker Carlson’s acquisition and release of raw video footage from the January 6, 2021 Capitol protests is startling and a bit tin-eared. The leadership basically are saying: “Who you gonna believe, us or your lying eyes?” 

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) condemned Carlson as an enemy of the people and seemed to imply something bad would happen to Fox News for permitting the dissemination of videos of the January 6 protests. Schumer, and pretty much all of Carlson’s other critics, never explain why what happened on January 6 should be hidden from the American people, and they never assert the videos being shown are doctored, fake, or inauthentic.

Critics can call this release a lie all they want, but the footage doesn’t lie. In fact, compared to the cherry-picked material already in the public domain, the broader record undermines some of the key narratives Democrats have concocted. For example, Officer Brian Sicknick is seen walking around, apparently in perfect health, after his supposed murder. An alleged violent insurrectionist, the QAnon Shaman, appears being led calmly from door to door by helpful Capitol Police

Carlson’s critics from both wings of the uniparty seemed to think they could keep a lid on reality and use their extravagant and overwrought rhetoric about an INSURRECTION to reinforce their false narrative. No such luck. This fragile edifice was already starting to crack before Carlson’s exposé. 

Before Carlson, there had been many videos circulating showing grandmas politely and respectfully walking through the capitol, and American Greatness’ Julie Kelly earlier exposed the two-tiered justice system defendants have faced for what are mostly minor offenses. (Read more.)


Joe Biden: Guilty Of Foul Deeds

 From David Horowitz at American Greatness:

This first Biden bank record to be surrendered showed three members of the Biden family, including Beau Biden’s widow Hallie and one person identified only as “Biden,” received payments amounting to $1 million from a Chinese Communist State energy company. 

What were the payments for? Forget asking the Bidens, who have a long history of silence and denial on such material questions. When asked, Joe Biden denied he ever discussed Hunter Biden’s Chinese business affairs with him, even though he flew with Hunter on Air Force Two to China and met with his business associates. Never at a loss for brazen lies to extricate himself from difficult circumstances, Biden, without a second thought, denied that the bank records were “true.” 

To date, there hasn’t been one attempt by the Biden camp to try to explain what service the Bidens actually supplied to the Chinese Communists to earn such ample rewards. At the lowest levels of this corruption, Hallie Biden, who is a school counselor, received $25,000 from the Chinese Communist Party. For what?

When you have no answers to such material questions, when you lie continually about the operations themselves (“I never discussed Hunter’s business with my son!”) when you suborn your intelligence services to carry out an elaborate and expensive effort to suppress the story of an incriminating laptop, and do it right before a presidential election, you are in fact telling us that you are guilty of the obvious crime you are covering up. In this case, treason: colluding with an enemy power to hurt your own country.

Consider the simple fact that though pieces of this story have become objects of public concern over the last half dozen years, the Biden camp has constructed no narrative to provide a plausible explanation of these extraordinary payoffs from the Chinese Communist dictatorship; in other words, no effort has been made to provide an alternative explanation to the apparent one of personal greed and national betrayal.

I ask readers to put themselves in the position of the president. You are taking massive payments from a government that deliberately sent millions of its subjects from the Wuhan center of a deadly pandemic to countries around the world to celebrate the Lunar New Year. This criminal action resulted in the deaths of 9 million people globally, including a million Americans. You then backed this same criminal dictatorship’s efforts to cover up the origins of that outbreak in a Chinese Communist military lab which was running “gain of function” research, paid for by your government, on the deadly virus at the heart of said pandemic.

At the same time, the dictatorship from which you were receiving payments making your family rich beyond its wildest dreams was organizing alliances with America’s deadly enemies, Russia and Iran. And thanks to your deliberate destruction of America’s southern border, which effectively put its control in the hands of Mexico’s drug cartels, you created a new mortal threat to the safety of American citizens in the form of a new drug—fentanyl—which is produced by the Chinese Communists and distributed to Americans by the Mexicans. 

The annual death toll from fentanyl poisoning among Americans now equals the annual death toll of American soldiers in World War II. But Biden has made no effort to deter the Chinese from poisoning American citizens by, for example, ending the subsidies we provide to their economy or revoking China’s Most Favored Nation trade status, or closing all the Confucius Institutes ensconced at our universities and designed to steal our technologies. From the Chinese Communist point of view, this alone would be worth the tens of millions of dollars they have poured into the Bidens’ pockets. (Read more.)


A Century-Old Trout Hatchery in Virginia Is Making Waves

 From Garden and Gun:

Ty Walker is up to his ears in trout. From his home in New Castle, Virginia, Walker raises thousands of rainbow trout on a nearly hundred-year-old hatchery situated on a mountain spring. The hatchery, built in the 1930s by the federal government, still operates the way it always has, relying on gravity and an abundant supply of limestone-filtered water to fill the raceways and ponds where the fish grow to maturity. In 2022, Walker estimates that he and his brother-in-law, Matthew, processed around eight thousand trout by hand, cleaning, gutting, and packing the fish before they could be sold. This year, the trout count is up to twenty thousand, and Walker is committed to putting them front and center (and whole) on plates around the state of Virginia. His hatchery, called Smoke in Chimneys, sells to chefs, as well as by mail-order online. “Our goal is to make eating a whole trout right up there with shucking oysters or picking crabs,” Walker explains. “Eating whole trout should be in that sphere, but the barrier to entry is like walking into a cigar shop and not knowing anything about cigars. You already feel like an idiot.” Walker wants to change that, and he hopes that people will be willing to learn about the beauties of eating the state fish, grown in its home state, with a little help from some of Virginia’s best chefs. (Read more.)


Friday, March 24, 2023

Four Table-Styling Tips


From Victoria:

Texas-based tastemaker Nicola Bathie McLaughlin is a household name to those who long to fill their dressing rooms with sparkling bespoke gems and elegant fashions. The interior designer–turned–jewelry designer creates necklaces, earrings, and other baubles for her namesake brand, Nicola Bathie Jewelry, and has collaborated with notable clothier Antonio Melani for a Dillard’s clothing line. Her impeccable sense of style reaches well into her San Antonio home, featured in our March/April 2023 issue, where she entertains family and friends. Exclusively for Victoria, Nicola shares four tips for creating beautiful tableaux. With connections to England and a love of antiques, Nicola’s china collections embrace a distinct European elegance. A combination of blue-and-white plates become a unique work of art on her dining room wall and complement the ruffled gingham covering on the table. “Don’t be afraid to layer,” says Nicola. Salmon-shaded placemats from Mrs. Alice offer a charming contrast to the cool tones of the cloth underneath, while etched crystal goblets and Herend plates in the Queen Victoria pattern provide even more pattern play on the surface. (Read more.)