Tuesday, July 31, 2018


From Victoria:
Just as summer reaches its sizzling peak and many plants fizzle, dahlias rise and shine, flowering until the first frost. They do more than produce eye-catching blossoms for all kinds of arrangements and serve as nectar fonts for butterflies. Dahlias also inspire the passion of gardeners like Kathy and Ed Whitfield, who “grow for show.” The couple devotes much of their garden to nurturing heat-tolerant beauties such as Bo-bay, and they judge regional dahlia competitions. (Read more.)

Hit Job

From The Daily Wire:
Brett Kavanaugh was announced as President Donald Trump's nomination to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by Anthony Kennedy on July 9, 2018. On July 10, investigative reporter for the New York Times Steve Eder made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request under Maryland's Public Information Act....
Virtually nothing about his FOIA request could be characterized as not searching out embarrassing partisan information designed to make Kavanaugh look like a “Conservative Warrior” as the title of the July 15th article suggests. In other words, Eder's request was not objective or investigative. By contrast the AP's request was literally for everything, all the emails from the day Trump announced he was running for President to the present. It is understandable that Eder would make a more narrow request since FOIAs are sometimes denied for having too wide a scope thus creating an undue burden upon the government agency fulfilling the request. But this is the NYT! The number of times their FOIAs have been rejected is assuredly small. Especially when considering the AP press felt comfortable issuing a much broader request also casts suspicion upon the practicality of Eder's focus.

If Eder had made the same request as the AP did he could have electronically searched the documents for those key words anyway. Then he would have had access to all the relevant information not merely a partisan hack of the info he really wanted to write about. In some sense what is even more disturbing isn't just the partisan hit job that this research was designed to create but the lack of professionalism. Because this nomination really does matter. Former Justice Kennedy's decisions disappointed conservatives just as much as liberals on numerous occasions. That's the nature of being the swing voter on a severely divided court. Replacing him with a genuine principled originalist is a high priority for Trump's base and could have significant ramifications for 2020. (Read more.)

Fearing the Constitution

From The Federalist:
Normalizing the idea that the Constitution should be subservient to the fleeting will of politics or progressive conceptions of “justice” goes back to Barack Obama, who in 2008 promised to nominate justices who shared “one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.” The Left hailed this position as proof of a thoughtful and moral temperament, when in reality it’s an ideological position that allows judges to arbitrarily create law and subordinate their constitutional duty to their personal worldview. Of course there are a number of legitimate debates about how we should interpret the Constitution. Of course all justices aren’t political on all issues, nor are all conservatives pure. But it’s the Left that now embraces relativistic arguments about the intent and purpose of the Constitution. (Read more.)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Effie Gray (2014)

Dakota Fanning and Polly Dartford as Euphemia and Sophia Gray in Effie Gray (2014)
Tom Sturridge as John Everett Millais
Effie Gray with John Ruskin (Greg Wise)
 Sophie Gray: [narrating] Once, a beautiful young girl lived in a very cold house in Scotland. The house was cold because someone's grandfather killed himself there. One day, the grandson came to visit the house. He thought the beautiful girl was an angel came down to Earth. The grandson worked very hard. He read and thought and drew and wrote. He wrote a fairy story just for her. She was twelve years old. Her mother and father were kind, but his were wicked. When she grew up, he married her. ~from Effie Gray (2014)
 It is a wonderful to see a child actor or actress blossom in an adult role, especially when they surpass whatever expectations we might have had for them. Such is the case of Dakota Fanning in Effie Gray (2014), where she so adapts Victorian British mannerisms that the viewer can easily forget she is an American. Wearing a mask of serenity, Effie's inner torment is seen only in the eyes, which project an abyss of sorrow and suffering throughout most of the film. In the end, her eyes glow with radiant happiness, although the rest of her expression is immobile. I was in awe watching the film. The character of Effie, based upon John Ruskin's spurned bride, is a challenging role, full of subtleties, but Miss Fanning acquitted herself magnificently.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Genteel almost but not quite to a fault, "Effie Gray" is the decorous treatment of a story that shocked Victorian England: the romantic triangle of critic John Ruskin, his seriously unhappy wife, Euphemia "Effie" Gray, and his protege, the painter John Everett Millais. Starring Dakota Fanning as the young Scottish bride and written by costar Emma Thompson, "Effie Gray" is never less than gorgeous to look at both indoors and out, as cinematographer Andrew Dunn, production designer James Merifield and costume designer Ruth Myers and their teams collaborate to create an enveloping, almost rhapsodic look for the film.

But all this visual splendor puts "Effie Gray" in danger of treating its scandalous story the way Ruskin apparently treated his wife, as a beautiful object to be admired from a distance but never emotionally engaged with. Directed by Richard Laxton, "Effie Gray" is fortunate to have enough strong performances by Fanning, Thompson and top-flight costars (including cameos by James Fox, Robbie Coltrane, Derek Jacobi and even Claudia Cardinale) to eventually overcome the doldrums of decorum and create the feeling we've been needing.

Ruskin, the most influential art critic of the age, first met Effie when she was a girl of 12. The two were married when Effie was 20 and longing to leave rural Scotland for the cultural sophistication of London. There Ruskin held forth to the Pre-Raphaelite painters who were his disciples on his belief that "nature must rule every stroke of your brush. Paint what you see, draw what you see."

In this film, Ruskin (well-played by Greg Wise, Thompson's husband) looks on Effie as a perfect beauty and considers himself "the luckiest of mortals" when she agrees to marry him, and she feels fortunate as well. The newlyweds are to live with Ruskin's parents (professionally played by veterans David Suchet and Julie Walters), but things start to go badly from the moment they walk in the door of their new home. That's when the critic's doting, overpossessive mother lays hands on "my treasure" and announces that she can't wait to personally give him his bath.

It gets worse when, during a wedding night that has been much commented on from then to now, Effie disrobes in front of her husband, only to have him abruptly get up and leave the bedroom. The reasons for this non-consummation of the marriage have been endlessly speculated upon (the film refrains from expressing an opinion), but it was only the beginning of Effie's travails. Starting the very next morning, Effie finds herself a victim of Victorian decorum, someone with no real place in her husband's life. He doesn't want her around when he writes and thinks, not even to sharpen his pencils, and his officious mother, reminding Effie that "you have married no ordinary man," tells her to find solace in growing roses and reading the Bible. "What shall we do, what do married people do?" she asks her husband plaintively, and he replies, truthfully but unhelpfully, "I have as little idea as you."


The couple goes off to Italy, where Ruskin works obsessively on one of his books, "The Stones of Venice," and she finds herself romantically courted by a handsome Italian (Riccardo Scamarcio), a situation that only makes Ruskin crankier. "Venice was once a virgin," he tells her pointedly. "Now she is a harlot."

The only real ray of light in Effie's life is Lady Eastlake, the wife of Charles Eastlake (Fox), the influential president of the Royal Academy. As played by Thompson, who has given herself the film's best lines, Lady Eastlake is the fearless voice of reason this situation clearly needs. Fanning, for her part, completely understands her role and its gently feminist context. Her performance is understated but always effective, a through line for audiences when things on screen go quiet.

The film heats up, as does this young wife's life, when she gets to spend some time in her native Scotland with her husband and the young painter Millais, well-played by Tom Sturridge. His passionate nature attracts her, but in a culture where divorce was forbidden, this presents a problem. (Read more.)
The marriage of Effie to John Ruskin was eventually annulled and she was able to marry Millais, with whom she had eight children. No one really knows why Ruskin refused to consummate his marriage but it seems to me that he had so idealized Effie's beauty that he could not deal with her humanity. I wonder if he had a madonna/whore complex that can be exacerbated by looking at porn. Women to him were either untouchable statues or worthy only of contempt for their lack of purity. He had loved the child but not the woman. It was as if in his high-mindedness he saw himself as too good for the woman she had become, such was his disdain and contempt. He later tried to say that Effie was crazy, but the rest of her life as Mrs. Millais she showed herself to be mentally sound. The film does a great job in capturing Effie's misery in a dysfunctional relationship, and anyone who has ever been in such a relationship can identify.

The Deadly Abortion Pill

From The Daily Wire:
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at least 22 women have been killed by abortion pills, and thousands more have been injured. After receiving "reports of serious adverse events in women" taking the pill, the FDA updated its guidance on mifepristone, or Mifeprex, the drug given to women in the first stage of a medical abortion. Women take mifepristone in conjunction with misoprostol to terminate an unborn child up to 70 days since their last menstrual period.

"As of December 31, 2017, there were reports of 22 deaths of women associated with Mifeprex since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy resulting in death; and several cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis), including some that were fatal," reads the FDA guidance.

 Since 2000, thousands of women have suffered serious complications from Mifeprex. "Between 2000-2012, there were 2740 cases with any adverse event (an average of 228 per year.) In the last five years, there have been 1445 – or an average 289 per year. This includes 273 hospitalisations, 182 cases of blood loss so severe transfusions were needed, and 103 infections," reports Life News. As noted by the pro-life site, this number is likely to be higher than the report shows, since not all women who suffer complications notify their abortion provider or disclose the use of the pill to emergency services. (Read more.)

The Gift of Prometheus

From Smithsonian:
Every year, we find more evidence that our hominin cousins the Neanderthals shared commonalities with us; they made jewelry, appreciated beauty, buried their dead and possessed language. In fact, they are, at least partially, us—Neanderthal DNA makes up roughly 2 percent of the genome of people with European and Asian heritage. Now, Sarah Zhang at The Atlantic reports, a new study suggests they even possessed a technology that we believed only our species had mastered—making fire on demand.

Archaeologists have previously come across Neanderthal fire pits, and their ability to make fire-dependent substances like tar indicates that fire was an important part of their lifestyle. However, researchers surmised that the Neanderthals had to rely on natural events like lightning strikes and forest fires to give them Prometheus’ gift, which they then had to painstakingly tend to preserve.

But Andrew Sorensen of Leiden University wasn’t so sure about that conclusion. Ancient humans could make fire on demand by smashing the naturally occurring mineral pyrite against flint, making a small shower of sparks that could be nursed into a larger fire. According to a press release, he wondered if Neanderthals might have possessed that simple technology as well. To investigate, he first collected chunks of flint off beaches in England. When struck right, flint rocks will flake, creating sharp hand-axes known as bifaces, which Neanderthals and early humans used for lots of daily tasks. Sorensen created his own bifaces in the lab, and then used them and pieces of pyrite to produce fire. Then he examined the microscopic marks left on the bifaces by the pyrite, which leave a very distinctive type of mark.

Sorensen and his team compared those with bifaces found at archaeological digs, searching for telltale signs that the flint had been used to start fires. “A hand-axe was the Neanderthal Swiss Army Knife,” he says in the release. “They used them for everything. But only making fire with pyrite would have produced this exact suite of use-wear traces.” (Read more.)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rhett Butler vs. Ashley Wilkes

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler
Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes
From Hill Place:
In contrast, as everyone has noted, Rhett is a man of action.  He is a flawed, imperfect person with a rebellious streak who was kicked out of West Point, is not received by any good families in Charleston, and makes his living as a war-profiteering blockade runner.  On the surface, he does not appear to possess the presumed nobility that Ashley is perceived to have, but Rhett proves, through his actions, that he is the man who is truly honorable.  He is the one who pays to retrieve Melanie's wedding ring, after she donated it to help fund the Confederate war effort; has Belle Watling donate gold currency to the Confederate hospital in Atlanta (because he knows Scarlett would never accept the gesture); helps Scarlett escape from Atlanta with Melanie and infant Beau; rescues Ashley and Dr. Meade from a Yankee ambush at the shantytown raid, and provides an alibi for them by taking them to Belle Watling's brothel; allows Scarlett to spend the money to revitalize Tara; and proves to be a good father to their daughter Bonnie.  He might be a hard-drinking, womanizing gambler, but Rhett is a man who is totally pulled-together and who takes care of the people around him.  Unlike Ashley, who doesn't have the guts to reveal his true feelings, Rhett time and time again demonstrates the deepness of his feelings and caring for the people in his life.  He never stops loving Scarlett, even when she continues to disappoint him by loving Ashley, develops strong friendships with Belle Watling, Mammy (Hattie McDaniel) and Melanie, and unabashedly showers his daughter Bonnie with the love and affection that he wishes he could shower on Scarlett, if only she would let him.  (In contrast, we never see Ashley express any genuine caring for his own son Beau, or spend any quality time with him.  Furthermore, the scene where Melanie comes to comfort Rhett after Scarlett's miscarriage is a more insightful moment than the mundane romantic sequence with Ashley and Melanie at the Twelve Oaks barbecue, one of the few scenes the Wilkes's have alone with each another.  In Rhett's presence, Melanie becomes earthier, more self-aware, and more candid discussing the circumstances of all of their lives than we would have expected from her.)  Because Rhett is someone who is willing to put himself and his heart on the line, it must irk him to stand in the same room with the passive and ineffectual Ashley, who remains disconnected from the people and environment around him. (Read more.)


The Socialist Temptation

From Crisis:
Socialism never goes away. A quarter century after its collapse in Eastern Europe and Russia, and the success of market-oriented reforms elsewhere, many people once again see it as the ideal. This is true even in the Church. Not so very long ago Saint John XXIII reaffirmed the teaching of Pope Pius XI that “no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism.” And Saint John Paul II pointed to “the fundamental error of socialism,” namely, that it “maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice.”

That was then and this is now. Today we find people, some of them serious and well-informed, who call themselves Catholic socialists. This is not about bad or stupid people believing false and destructive things. Rather, there are good and intelligent people who believe these things. Why is that? Many people find socialism irresistible. Life is unfair, as we all know, but unfairness can often be remedied. When this is the case, justice seems to call for the remedy to be applied. And if similar situations keep arising—which they do—it can seem right to make the remedy a matter of routine backed by public authority. After all, shouldn’t a government establish justice?

Apply this line of thought again and again and you end up with a comprehensive bureaucratic control of social life for the sake of fairness. In a prosperous modern society, fairness could include providing everyone with all things necessary for well-being. Anything less would leave some harms unremedied. (Read more.)

Our Uncommon Earth

From Monsignor Charles Pope:
I have written more on these factors (sometimes called “Rare Earth” Hypothesis) here: Earth is a Rare Jewel.    But the essential point of the theory is that there are many factors that have made life possible on earth by providing a stable setting for life to arise and develop. Here are just some of the many:
  1. Earth is at just the right distance from the Sun so that it is warm enough for ice to melt, but not so hot as to boil and steam away. Water is also able, in this habitable zone (the so-called “Goldilocks” region), to both evaporate and condense at lower levels in the atmosphere, thus permitting a more even distribution of water and the cycle of water over dry land known as precipitation.
  2. For suns to spawn Earth-like planets they must have sufficient “metallicity,” which is necessary for the formation of terrestrial rather than gaseous planets.
  3. Earth is in a “habitable zone” within the galaxy as well. Closer to the center of galaxies, radiation and the presence of wandering planetoids make life there unlikely.
  4. Earth exists in a disk-shaped spiral galaxy (the Milky Way) rather than in an elliptical (spheroid) galaxy. Spiral galaxies are thought to be the only type capable of supporting life.
  5. Earth’s orbit around the sun is an almost perfect circle rather than the more common “eccentric” (elongated) ellipse. Steep elliptical orbits take a planet relatively close to and then relatively far from the sun, with great consequences for warmth and light. Earth’s stable, nearly circular orbit around the sun keeps our distance from it relatively constant, and hence the amount of heat and light does not vary tremendously.
  6. Two nearby “gas giants” (Jupiter and Saturn) attract and catch many wandering asteroids and comets and generally keep them from hitting Earth. The asteroid belts also keep a lot of flying rock in a stable orbit and away from us.
  7. Our molten core creates a magnetic field that holds the Van Allen radiation belts in place. These belts protect Earth from the most harmful rays of the sun.
  8. Earth’s volcanism plays a role in generating our atmosphere and in cycling rich minerals widely.
  9. Our sun is just the right kind of star, putting out a fairly steady amount of energy. Other types of stars are more variable in their output and this variance can utterly destroy life or cause it to be unsustainable due to the extremes.
  10. Earth’s fairly rapid rotation reduces the daily variation in temperature. It also makes photosynthesis viable because there is enough sunlight all over the planet.
  11. Earth’s axis is tilted just enough relative to its orbital plane to allow seasonal variations that help complex life, but not so tilted as to make those variations too extreme.
  12. Our moon causes tides that are just strong enough to permit tidal zones (a great breeding ground for diverse life) but not so severe as to destroy life.
It would appear that for complex life to be sustained, many factors must come together in just the right way. (Read more.)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ladies Taking Tea

From Mimi Matthews:
No formal invitation was required for an afternoon tea. Instead, a lady simply announced the day and hour of the tea by writing it on the back of her visiting card. If she must send a more personal note round to a friend or acquaintance, it was generally phrased in a casual manner. As an example, the 1900 edition of The New Century Standard Letter-Writer includes a sample of a letter for “Inviting a Lady to an Informal Afternoon Tea.
It reads:
“Dear Mrs. Salter:—
A few of our friends are coming to afternoon tea on Friday next, and we hope to have a little good music. Perhaps you may be able to look in for half an hour: if so, I should be very pleased to see you.
Believe me,
Yours sincerely,
Selma White”
Informal invitations—whether delivered by letter or announced via visiting card—did not require a response. (Read more.)

The Encyclical that Condemned the Sexual Revolution

From TFP:
The context of the encyclical letter was the Sexual Revolution of the mid-sixties. Fashion, literature and the entertainment industry all contributed to an atmosphere where sexual mores were overturned. This was especially seen in Hollywood movies and television shows, the discovery of the contraceptive pill and the advent of the miniskirt.

In May 1968, the outbreak of student riots in most university campuses of the West gave the Sexual Revolution an ideological foundation, unifying and giving meaning to a whole range of disorderly tendencies turned against traditional morals. It was an anarchist ideology mixing Marxism with Freudianism. It denied all order, authority and moral norms. It can best be summarized in the slogan painted on the walls of the University of Paris’ Sorbonne campus: “It is forbidden to forbid.”

At the same time, liberal Catholic circles increasingly called upon the Church to “adapt to the world.” Countless theologians began to contend that the Church should change her perennial morals and forfeit her intransigence in sexual matters by accepting sexual ‘freedom’ and the use of contraceptives.

It was in this climate of contestation that Pope Paul VI, after a seemingly long hesitation, decided to publish his much-awaited encyclical on contraception, Humanae Vitae. To the relief of faithful Catholics and the consternation of liberals, the Pope reaffirmed the Church’s traditional doctrine on the nature of marriage and the sexual act and condemned the use of the pill or any other artificial means of contraception. (Read more.)

Star Wars and the Feminist Agenda

I always saw Star Wars as being for everyone, both male and female. From Odyssey:
Kathleen Kennedy thinks that women can’t relate to the Star Wars male characters like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Han Solo. In their place, Kathleen has inserted Leia and Rey in the roles of lead characters to make Star Wars more female friendly. Let me just say this; Star Wars was created by a man. George Lucas wrote and created this magnificent tale. The first fans to flock to it were MALE. I mean sure there probably was a few female fans, but it was mostly directed at the male audience.

The feminist agenda is starting to take over the Star Wars saga and ruin a fictionary tale that has been treasured by fans all over the globe, male and female. Let’s look at what has taken place since The Force Awakens has come out. We meet Rey in The Force Awakens. Supposedly this mysterious girl that we know nothing about can hear the Force.

She’s never had any kind of Jedi training, but she automatically knows how to wield a lightsaber and can use a blaster. Oh, and let’s not forget that she can use the Jedi mind trick, which is supposed to take years of training to learn. Rey is made out to be the strongest character in this movie.
The male characters are made out to be stupid and unconfident in their abilities. Let’s take Finn for example, he’s a Storm Trooper for the First Order. He’s unsure of his place and decides to rebel against the First Order. In doing so he meets Poe, a pilot for the Rebellion. And what about Kylo Ren? He’s to be the big bad villain of the movie and it turns out that he’s insecure of his abilities and gets defeated in the end by, you guessed it, Rey the newbie to the Jedi ways. (Read more.)

Friday, July 27, 2018

America's Lost Buildings

The Waldorf Astoria
Never cared for Gropius, though. From CNN:
Many New Yorkers are familiar with the iconic Waldorf Astoria, which sits on Park Avenue. But they might be surprised to learn that this is the second iteration of the luxury hotel. The original was located along Manhattan's fashionable Fifth Avenue, and the structure took up the entire block between 33rd and 34th streets.But in late November 1929 -- after the stock market had crashed and the slow slide into the Great Depression began -- workers began demolishing it. Designed by the noted architect Henry Hardenbergh, the imposing building had been built in two parts, campaigns that reflected the progress of modern construction technology and a "bigger and better" mantra of American architecture.
The first building, the Waldorf, was an 11-story structure that opened in 1893. It was built on the site of the mansion where Mrs. Caroline Astor had entertained New York's "Four Hundred," an exclusive group of New York's social elite. In addition to 530 rooms, the Waldorf offered stately apartments on the second floor and a majestic ballroom that could be closed off for lavish private events.
In 1897, the deluxe Astoria section of the hotel was completed. Facing 34th Street, its 16 stories employed a steel skeleton structure -- at the time, a cutting-edge technique -- that allowed for taller buildings. With 1,300 rooms, it was the largest hotel in the city, and like many high-class "palace hotels" of the period, the Waldorf Astoria housed permanent and transient patrons; as The New York Times noted in 1890, they were designed "to provide a series of magnificent homes for wealthy New Yorkers as an economical alternative to maintaining private mansions." By 1929, however, the owners of the Waldorf Astoria decided to decamp to Park Avenue, where they erected an equally lavish modern, Art Deco monument. The demolition of the old hotel, completed by the winter of 1930, made way for the construction of the ultimate expression of the city's architectural ambitions: the Empire State Building. (Read more.)

Covert and Overt Treachery

From The Bruges Group:
As Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky showed in their history of the KGB, the naive idealism in the universities was an open goal for Soviet espionage. The Cambridge Spy Ring comprised five scholars who needed no incentive other than their zealous commitment to the new Jerusalem: Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. They were inspired by Cambridge don Maurice Dobb, the first British scholar to join the Communist Party of Great Britain, consequently drawing the attention of MI5. Led by Burgess, a predatory homosexual Marxist recruited by the Soviets in 1933, these alumni of Trinity College spent their careers in subversive activity against their own country. Maclean was first of the five to enter the corridors of power, recruited to the Foreign Office in 1935; all of them went on to work in the intelligence services, passing state secrets to the Kremlin. This treason was eventually exposed in the 1950s, after much damage had been done.

Is it fair to relate the actions of Burgess and fellow traitors to the present corpus of senior civil servants who are working to overrule the EU referendum and tie Britain to the Brussels regime? There are major differences, of course. The Cambridge men were working undercover, and their dastardly deeds risked the severest of punishment. Olly Robbins, by contrast, is performing an official role.

Yet there are significant similarities. Both Philby and Robbins were enthused by a supranational order that would eclipse ill-informed popular opinion expressed at the ballot box. In the 1930s the ogre was fascism in a very real form; today the danger is opposition to globalisation and open borders – allegedly also fascist, as displayed in hostility to mass immigration and Islam. In the 1930s the dubious leader of the anti-fascist movement was Stalin; today it is the financier George Soros.

It makes sense that Robbins was once an aficionado of Stalin and Soviet communism. In obstructing the people's quest for renewed nationhood by leaving the EU, he is not alone. Enlightenment values, it seems, are reserved for the ideologically enlightened. Our institutions are dominated by Remainers determined to defy democracy, by ideological curtailments of freedom of speech, and by a legal culture that is abandoning the premise of equality before the law. Was the case of Tommy Robinson not a Stalinist exercise of power over a dissident, with lack of due process uncritically accepted by biased media? Standing up to protect fellow citizens – whether vulnerable girls from rape gangs or society in general from terrorism, is a threat to the authorities. Complain too much and you will be a target of surveillance. (Read more.)

A Lay Model for Young People

From Zenit:
Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio (1817-1836), a young Italian layperson, on October 14, 2018, during the Synod of Bishops on Youth held in Rome. The pope, therefore, gives the young people a model of their age, in addition to the six other blessed who will be canonized that day. He announced this canonization himself at a public ordinary consistory on July 19, 2018, at the Vatican, an event all the more noticed that it took place during the summer.

Born on April 13, 1817, in Pescosansonesco, Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio was an orphan very early. He lived with a very violent uncle who beat him. Because of this violence, the young craftsman of Naples suffered from a wound in the leg, earning him the nickname “the little saint lame”. In spite of his illness, the young man assisted the other patients, and, in his poverty, relieved the misery of the poor. He spent the last two years of his life at Naples’ hospital for the incurable where he died on May 5, 1836, at 19 years of age.

Pope Paul VI, who beatified him on December 1, 1963, offered him as a model for young people: “He will tell you that you, young people, can regenerate within you the world in which Providence has called you to live and that it is up to you, the first ones, to devote yourself to the salvation of a society which needs precisely strong and intrepid souls.” Six other blessed will be canonized in October: Pope Paul VI and Salvadoran Bishop Oscar Romero as well as two Italian priests, a German nun, and a Spanish nun. (Read more.)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

100th Anniversary of the Murder of Royal Martyr Elizabeth Feodorovna

Here are some photos of the granddaughter of Queen Victoria who was killed by the Bolsheviks around the same time that her younger sister Empress Alexandra and family were also murdered. From Orthodox Christianity:
“O Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” was the final prayer of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna before the black abyss of an abandoned mine swallowed her.

She went consciously to this yawning abyss, categorically refusing to leave Russia when the lawlessness began. She followed after Christ, and from that abyss the light of the Resurrection sprang forth to the eyes of her soul. What brought this aristocrat from a foreign country to the distant Ural city of Alapayevsk, her Golgotha? What gave her over to the hands of that mysterious diabolic evil in demonically possessed people? Their paths could never have crossed any earlier. She saw these people for the first and last time in her life. She met with them only in order that they might carry out that sentence pronounced by a court of unknown venue. But this is according to human judgment. And what about God’s judgment? In God’s judgment it was human judgment—“for God” or “against God”.

And Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, a former Protestant who had accepted Orthodoxy in her new homeland, in Russia, and who came to love the Orthodox Church in Russia, “even unto death”, answered to evil. No matter what sentence that newly unleashed, mad evil might have pronounced on her, she accepted it as a sentence from above, as an opportunity sent down to her to confirm in deed what constituted the meaning and content of her life.

Love for God and love for mankind was the true meaning of her life, and it led the Grand Duchess to the cross. And her cross grew and met the Cross of Christ, and became her delight. (Read more.)
The Russian people remember the Grand Duchess and her companions with love and veneration, HERE and HERE.


"The Arrest Of Maria Butina Is Another Hoax"

From Paul Craig Roberts:
We can see the total failure of The Guardian, and all the rest as well, in the reporting on the arrest of the alleged Russian spy, Maria Butina by the utterly corrupt US Department of Justice (sic). The principal evidence against Maria is that she met with a former Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. According to the utterly corrput US Department of Justice (sic), an assistant US attorney, Erik Kenerson, “cited Butina’s encounter with Kislyak as proof that she was in touch with diplomatic or consular officials and must be detained while awaiting trial.”

So, in America if you get your photo taken with a former Russian ambassador to the US it is evidence that you are a spy. I have read the indictment of Maria Butina. She is not accused of any crime recognizable by Anglo-American law. She is indicted under Jeremy Bentham’s 18th century totalitarian argument that she is guilty of the “crime” of possibly intending to commit one in the future. (See The Tyranny of Good intentions by PCR and Lawrence Stratton.)

Maria, who has long red hair but otherwise is unremarkable, especially in contrast to the women that the interest groups, such as the military/security complex, Wall Street, and the Israel lobby are believed to provide to the executive and legislative branches of the US government, is certainly not the seductive Russian spy that Americans know from James Bond films. The woman has not done a thing. She is indicted for a non-crime. She is indicted because she is Russian and living, according to the presstitute media, with a congressional staffer. Maria has no way whatsoever to spy on the US through the low level congressional staffer with whom she was allegedly living. Her arrest is just another hoax perpetrated on the American people in order to fan the distrust and hatred of Russia, distrust that protects the totally unnecessary $1,000 billion annual budget of the US military/security complex. (Read more.)

Students in Detroit Are Suing

From The Atlantic:
What to do when a school is infested with vermin, when textbooks are outdated, when students can’t even read? Perhaps the answer is sue the government. That’s what seven students in Detroit have done. Their class-action suit filed against the state of Michigan asserts that education is a basic right, and that they have been denied it. Usually, such education-equity cases wend their way through state courts, as all 50 state constitutions mandate public-education systems, while the country’s guiding document doesn’t even include the word education. But this case, Gary B. v. Snyder, was filed in federal court, and thus seeks to invoke the Constitution. And as of this week, it’s headed to the federal appeals court in Cincinnati. (Read more.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A French Country Cottage

From Victoria:
A wisteria vine drapes over the front door of Tanja Paff and Tim van de Tooren’s stone farmhouse, clusters of purple blossoms wafting a sweet fragrance with every passing breeze. Freshly washed laundry dries on the line, illustrating one of the simple joys of country life. The first time the couple glimpsed the house sixteen years ago, it looked very different. A mix of cheerful prints, above, lends country charm to the kitchen overlooking the courtyard. Tanja has gathered much of the vintage crockery, as well as her collection of old metal kitchenware, from local flea markets. Both breakfast and dinner are served in the dining room. (Read more.)

The Genocidal Assault on Nigeria's Christians

From Front Page Mag:
With the election of President Trump and the reported rise of nationalist parties across the Western world, leftists in America and beyond are having a blast self-styling as “resistors” to “fascism.” They are outraged explicitly over the so-called “Islamophobia” of the President’s “travel ban.” Yet the perpetually indignant, unsurprisingly, are utterly silent regarding the massive slaughter and persecution by Muslims of Christians throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. For example, how many people know that just last month, over a span of four days, militant Islamic Fulani herdsmen embarked on a killing spree that reduced a dozen Nigerian villages to dust and claimed the lives of at least 200 Christian men, women, and children?  

Open Doors, an organization dedicated to serving persecuted Christians throughout the world, describes these targeted villages as Nigeria’s Plateau State, and describes the region as “the epicenter of Christianity in northern Nigeria’s Middle Belt.”  The organization is still trying to piece together the events surrounding the genocidal attack of Nigerian Christians on June 25th. According to reports, 120 villagers were hunted down and hacked to death by machete-wielding Muslims while traveling home from the funeral of an elderly villager in In the Nigerian ward of Gidin Akwati. Also slaughtered that day was a Christian pastor, the Reverend Musa Choji - murdered by these savages along with his wife and son. These terrorists scorched the entire community of Gidin Akwatito the ground.  Reports claim that some of those forced to flee their homes are now hiding in the Bush - remaining ever vulnerable to future attacks.

In a neighboring community of Gidin Akwati , another Christian pastor reported “more than 50 heavily armed Fulani herdsmen” laid waste to his whole village via fire and murdered 100 of his neighbors. Predictably, these Islamic militants destroyed that town's Christian churches while also laying waste to all the homes in the community. Remarkably few people managed to save themselves that day. This pastor’s wife’s childhood home was also “decimated” - home to 15 people and another unlucky 13 visitors. World Watch Monitor reports that the two soldiers and one police officer who was present in the village of Nghar during the attack fled when the Islamic militants invaded. (Read more.)

Prosperity and Babies

From Return to Order:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the 2017 fertility rates reached a forty-year low. The rate now stands at 1.76 lifetime births per women. This is well below the 2.1 births needed for population replacement. This is also the second year in a row that it has dropped to a record low.

The decline reflects all major population groups. In fact, the steepest decline is recorded among minority women. All age categories, except those over 40, saw significant drops in birthrates. Even the age thirty category, which normally reflects deferred childbearing saw significant decline. In fact, nearly one in five births now occurs to women 35 or older, when childbirth is riskier. This trend signifies lower rates and also a lowering of the actual number of babies born. There are 500,000 fewer babies in 2017 than there were in 2007. At the same time, there are seven percent more women of prime-childbearing age today.

This great plunge in births is happening just when it is not needed. A booming economy needs more people, not less. It needs bigger populations in countries that are trading partners. Thus, the even worse birthrates in Italy, Spain, Japan, China and other industrialized countries are ominous signs of disaster. The present boom has no future if populations everywhere are not replenished. That is why demographers are perplexed by the low birthrates in full prosperity. The normal rule of more babies seems to be broken. Mentalities have changed. (Read more.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Mary Shelley (2017)

Mary Godwin (Elle Fanning) writing at her mother's grave

 The Sexual Revolution of the 1960's was not the first time in history that restraint was thrown to the winds. The generation which was born during and immediately after the French Revolution came of age as the era of Romanticism reached full bloom. Romanticism capitalized on the energy of the political revolutions to challenge the mores of Christian civilization. Its adherents sought to live lives based upon raw emotion, free from the hypocrisies of society, while delving into the depths of passion, of horror, of despair, with the occasional moment of ecstasy. Such was the sort of existence that young Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, born in London on August 30, 1797, thirsted after with all her heart. In Mary Shelley (2017), Mary (Elle Fanning) is shown growing up her father's London bookshop, which the great minds of the age frequented with regularity. The household is rich with ideas and learning but poor as far as money and opportunities.

Mary, being the daughter of two renowned radical intellectuals, William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, loves to write and wants to see the world. It seems natural then for Mary at age sixteen to run away with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, her father's student. Percy, a married man, has fallen in love with the teenager, who of course is with enamored with him. Flouting convention, they create a major scandal, and Mary is soon pregnant. Mary's free-thinking father, who is all for open relationships, is horrified and refuses to speak to his daughter for years. Her vivacious stepsister Jane Clairemont alias Claire, joins the naughty pair in their exile from respectable society, which in real life transpired mostly in Italy. In the film, the trio is confined mostly to a dreary garret in London, with an occasional stay in a grand home.

The climax of the film is when Mary, Percy and Claire manage an invitation to stay at a castle in Switzerland with Lord Byron, by whom Claire is pregnant. Byron is played as an utterly narcissistic boor by Tom Sturridge, merrily leading his guests into depravity. By that point in the movie, Mary has become disillusioned with free love and loose living, finding that although she and Percy are free to love each other, he feels himself free to love other women and even encourages her to be with other men, a scenario which disgusts her. Meanwhile, her baby has died, her health is ruined, she has no home, Percy is temperamental and drinks. Instead of the utopia promised her by the new ideas, she has found only monsters, within and without.

It is in Switzerland during a story contest that Mary begins write her novel Frankenstein, based upon recent scientific experiments with electricity and corpses. A young scientist creates a humanoid creature out of corpses, a creature he is unable to control and thus abandons. The creature goes on to wreak havoc and devastation. The novel shows a sophisticated grasp of the forces at work in politics, education, and the sciences, unique for an eighteen year old. Perhaps it is one reason many scholars are convinced the novel was actually written by Percy. However, if Percy had authored the book, there would have been nothing to stop him putting his name on it. As it was, it was only after the book became a best-seller that Mary's name appeared on it. Frankenstein is Mary's rejection of the Enlightenment philosophies embraced by her parents, which had created its own brand of monsters. Interestingly, Dr. Frankenstein's monster is created at the University of Ingoldstadt, home of Adam Weishaupt and the Illuminati who vowed to destroy the throne and the altar. As one article says:

At the time of Frankenstein’s birth, the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, Germany, a well-known medical school, would have been equipped to support Victor’s scientific experiments. Not only did Ingolstadt provide the perfect setting as the home of the medical university, but also provided the mystery needed as the home of the Order of the Illuminati.

The Illuminati was reported to be a secret society founded in Ingolstadt, specifically the university. The members, said to be students and faculty, are known to have favored freethinking and radical politics and are allegedly tied to the Jacobins. Specific knowledge about the group is unverified, but the myths that were created around their legends provide sufficient influence for believers and for tho se attracted to the mystery surrounding their existence.  Because of the Illuminati, the city of Ingolstadt itself was known for its "intellectual fervor" and for its "revolutionary reconstruction of European society." (Curran) Despite the failure of such factions, Shelley was very interested in these political stirrings, making her choice of setting unsurprising. (Read more.)
Elle Fanning is a lovely Mary, perhaps more beautiful than the girl she portrays; it seems fated that Douglas Booth's devastatingly handsome Percy will fall in love with her at first sight. The couple declare their love while Percy is behaving blasphemously in a church, which many might find disturbing. The Percy Shelley character is a reprobate as is the Lord Byron character. It will be awhile before I can enjoy either of their poems again.The film does not wade into the topic of the Illuminati or the theme of Revolution, but instead contends that Mary has been emotionally abandoned by her husband, even as Frankenstein abandoned his creature. By the end of the film Percy realizes how he has hurt Mary by his behaviors and begs her forgiveness. Both he and her father proudly proclaim her authorship of the work, which is a spectacular success in intellectual circles as well as with the general public. Critics have claimed the film is too shallow a treatment of the relationship of Percy and Mary Shelley and their works. However, I think it accurately portrays the hardship and heartbreak of Mary's youth, as she navigates the most sordid aspects of society in the name of a great romance and free love. It shows how a young girl's sufferings were channeled into the making of a literary masterpiece, a masterpiece which exposes the disorders which occur when man tries to be like God. Share

Texas to Pass Iraq and Iran in Oil

From Island News:
Don't mess with Texas. It's a global oil superpower. The shale oil boom has brought a gold rush mentality to the Lone Star State, which is home to not one but two massive oilfields. Plunging drilling costs have sparked an explosion of production out of the Permian Basin of West Texas. In fact, Texas is pumping so much oil that it will surpass OPEC members Iran and Iraq next year, HSBC predicted in a recent report. If it were a country, Texas would be the world's No. 3 oil producer, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia, the investment bank said.

"It's remarkable. The Permian is nothing less than a blessing for the global economy," said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group, a consulting firm. The hyper growth out of Texas is needed because oil prices have risen sharply and major players like Saudi Arabia are quickly maxing out their production. Much of the excitement in Texas centers around the Permian Basin. Some oil execs believe the amount of oil in the Permian rivals Saudi Arabia's Ghawar Field, the world's largest conventional oilfield. Rapid technological advances have dramatically brought down the cost of pumping oil everywhere, especially out of the Permian. Wells there can be profitable below $40 a barrel.

"The industry cracked the code on fracking," said McNally.

The rise of Texas, which is also home to the Eagle Ford oilfield in the state's south, shows how the shale oil revolution has reshaped the global energy landscape. The United States is pumping more oil than ever before, making it less reliant on the turbulent Middle East for imports. "It's not going to make the world peaceful, but it will make it less volatile," said McNally, a former White House official.

Scott Sheffield, the chairman of major Permian player Pioneer Natural Resources, told CNNMoney last month that the United States will become the world's biggest oil producer by the fall. The combined output of the Permian and Eagle Ford is expected to rise from just 2.5 million barrels per day in 2014 to 5.6 million barrels per day in 2019, according to HSBC. That means Texas will account for more than half of America's total oil production. By comparison, Iraq's daily production is seen at about 4.8 million barrels, while Iran is projected to pump 3 million. Oil supplies from Iran are likely to plunge due to tough sanctions from the United States.

However, the boom in Texas has been so rapid that growing pains have emerged. The Permian Basin is quickly running out of pipelines to transport oil out of Texas, forcing companies to explore costly and potentially dangerous alternatives like rail and trucks. More pipelines are getting built, but they won't be ready in time to fix the bottlenecks that have formed. Fifty-five percent of executives surveyed by the Dallas Federal Reserve expect the lack of crude oil pipeline capacity will slow activity in the Permian. HSBC called the Permian a "victim of its own success" and predicted that logistical constraints will cause production growth will slow in the future.

The pipeline shortage is already hurting local prices. The price of oil in West Texas recently traded at a $15 discount to Houston prices. Some oil companies are also tapping the brakes. The number of oil rigs in the Permian dropped by five in June even as the overall US rig count was stable, according to the International Energy Agency. "We're not in a hurry to grow it fast against a system that's completely constrained today," ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance reportedly said in May.

Another headache: the rush to pump in the Permian is making it more expensive to pay for supplies and services. The cost to service oilfields has spiked by 10% to 15% for some companies in the Permian, HSBC said. At the same time, oil executives are complaining that it's difficult to find employees. The challenge is magnified by low unemployment in Texas and nationally. (Read more.)

How the 20 Questions Game Came to America

From author Shannon Selin:
The idea that the 20 Questions game was invented in the United States can be traced to a book published in New York in 1882. Twenty Questions: A Short Treatise on the Game – essentially a rule book with some examples of the game for beginners – did not base its claim on strong evidence.
The origin of the game of Twenty Questions, like that of many other things, is lost in the mists of antiquity. Like everything else, it probably had a prototype among the upper Himalayas. The internal evidence, however, is strong from its purely intellectual nature, that in its present form it is a game of New England origin, and was probably invented by some intellectual Pequot, near the mouth of the beautiful river where has long been its chief dwelling point. (1)
In fact, the first references to 20 Questions appeared in Great Britain. In 1829, Scottish teacher William Fordyce Mavor recommended the “Game of Twenty” as a means of agreeably passing a long winter evening. (Read more.)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Trailer for New Film about Mary Queen of Scots

From Refinery 29:
Their rivalry was one of Europe's hottest scandals and, now, five centuries later, they're finally getting the film treatment they deserve with Mary Queen of Scots, which stars the incomparable Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan. And, judging by the trailer that was released on Thursday, the women — and their fabulously absurd orange-red wigs — are going to give the Academy a run for its money come 2019.
The film follows the tumultuous relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, who constantly competed to be the most powerful and influential ruler in the region — and also the most beautiful. To Elizabeth's dismay, Mary birthed a son, prolonging her family's bloodline. Elizabeth never had children. Of course, that wasn't the only tension in their relationship. Mary, a Catholic, had long eyed the throne in England, knowing she'd have the support of English Catholics. Ultimately, she abdicated the throne in Scotland (it belonged, then, to her son, a literal baby), and went to England to find refuge with Elizabeth. Spoiler: That didn't go so well for her. Elizabeth imprisoned her cousin and, eventually, had her executed after uncovering an assassination plot that Mary (probably) knew about. (Read more.)
The trailer is really more of a teaser, since so little is revealed, but the fleeting glimpses offered  are compelling. I think Saoirse Ronan is a wonderful actress and makes a radiant Queen Mary, showing more grace, innocence and brashness than common sense. I thought at first that Margot Robbie was too pretty to play Queen Elizabeth but I was wrong. She appears to capture all the magnificence and bitterness of the last Tudor queen. Of course, any film produced in the present will have a feminist slant, although being female never held either ruler back from doing what they had to do. Mary even escaped from a coup when she was six months pregnant, riding for many miles in the dead of night. Mary, however, did have to contend with John Knox, who did not think women should rule, especially Catholic women. She also had to face being raped and forced into a marriage to Bothwell. I do not know if that will be portrayed. I love Saoirse's Scots accent. Mary actually did speak Scots Gaelic and spoke French and other languages with a Scots accent although she never really mastered English. The trailer shows Mary and Elizabeth meeting face-to-face, which as far as we know never happened. But it is fascinating to think what might have been said if they had done so, and the film affords such a moment.
Margot Robbie as Elizabeth Tudor
Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart


A Gift from Louis XVI

I personally do not see the comparison with Trump. From The Washington Post:
Benjamin Franklin sailed home from France in 1785 carrying an awkward goodbye gift from King Louis XVI: an oval-shaped gold box that held a miniature portrait of the king, surrounded by 408 diamonds. The extravagant box created a dilemma for Franklin. Goodbye presents to diplomats, customary in France, were banned by the United States. Fearful of the corrupting influence of wealthy Europe, the young country had adopted a strict rule: American officials could not accept gifts or second incomes from foreign governments. Careful not to violate the rule, Franklin offered the box to Congress, which let him keep it. (Read more.)

The Mouse That Roared

From Return to Order:
The name of this tiny victorious model is a kirana.And the vibrant market is India’s 1.3 billion people with their rising incomes. Kiranas are small family-run shops and vendors found on every city street in India. They are usually the size of a one-car garage and their walls are lined from top to bottom with an amazing variety of goods. These mom-and-pop wonders control 90 percent of the nation’s retail market. Despite repeated attempts to break their hold, giant retailers have hardly put a dent in their market share.

The secret to the kirana’s success is scale. They cannot compete with the huge economy of scale enjoyed by giant retailers that buy massive amounts of goods cheaply. However, they save money on their smallness. They have little overhead. They employ family members and pay lower wages for other help. Usually there is little or no rent involved since the shopkeepers may own their small properties. Their volume of sales insures they have little or no inventory expenses. Thus, their overhead costs are half that of major supermarkets. With these advantages, kiranas will often undercut the prices of the giant retailers. (Read more.)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Isabel and Her Daughters

Queen Isabel of Castile was a conscientious and vigilant mother. To quote:
Isabel was highly preoccupied with her daughters’ moral and religious education and, if her library is a guide, they would have spent time studying the lives of saints and other devotional works. The Carro de las donas, by the Franciscan monk Francesc Eiximenis, was one of a number of “how to raise your daughters” manuals that sat on the royal bookshelf…

In Isabel’s fastidious court, men and women stayed apart. Catherine slept in Isabel’s chamber, along with her sisters. Doctors and other men were not allowed into the quarters until all of them, and the ladies-in-waiting who also slept there, were up and dressed. The women also ate apart in the intimacy of Isabel’s chambers. The infantas and their mother emerged from this feminine bunker only to eat with others when there were important visitors, in which case the full spectacle of the public court went into action…

Segregation did not mean that there was no fun to be had at her mother’s side. Tales of chivalry were told or sung after dinner with Isabel herself sighing at the tragic bits. Among other things, Catherine would have heard the retelling of old battles from the war in Granada. She must also have heard the famous romantic legends of the land she was destined to travel to. Arthur, the Round Table, the Holy Grail, Lancelot and Merlin were all characters in the rich chivalrous imagination of the Spanish court. They were there in Isabel’s books and on her tapestries too…

Board games, chess, word games and cards were played. There was music too, at the table. This may have been devoted to chivalry or courtly love when Isabel was there… Musicians were always on hand. They were, indeed, among the best-paid people at court. Spain already boasted a long tradition of troubadours and popular songs coming especially from north-west Galicia and the Moslem territories of al-Andalus. (Read more.)

Update on ICE

From Townhall:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency many Democrats want to abolish, recently conducted a raid in Newark, New Jersey and arrested dozens of illegal aliens. The overwhelming majority have serious criminal records. ICE targeted Illegal aliens who had been incarcerated in the Middlesex County Jail and released into the community by local law enforcement without notice to federal immigration officials. The aliens arrested had ICE detainers that were not honored. Newark is a "sanctuary city."

"Of those arrested, 16 subjects had been previously released by MCJ without honoring the ICE detainer and 78% had prior criminal convictions or pending criminal charges. The individuals arrested as part of the operation were nationals of Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, and Turkey," ICE released Friday. "These individuals range from 21 to 68 years old and all were previously arrested or convicted of a variety of offenses. Some of the arrests and convictions included: aggravated criminal sexual contact, aggravated assault, DUI, hindering apprehension, endangering the welfare of a child, battery, theft, burglary, possession of a weapon, forgery, domestic violence assault, disorderly conduct, and illegal entry." ICE also provided additional details on the individuals released by Middlesex County Jail. Here are a few (bolding is mine):
A 32-year-old citizen of Mexico was arrested by the New Brunswick Police Department on August 12, 2016, in Middlesex County for Aggravated Sexual Assault- Helpless Victim, Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact, Sexual Assault-Force/Coercion, and Criminal Sexual Contact and booked into the Middlesex County Jail. On August 16, 2016, ICE issued a detainer. On May 18, 2018, he was convicted of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact and sentenced to 644 days’ time served, parole supervision for life and registration under Megan’s Law. On May 21, 2018, Middlesex County Jail refused to honor the detainer and he was released.

A 68-year-old citizen of Mexico was arrested by the Perth Amboy Police Department on January 23, 2009, in Middlesex County for the crimes of murder–purposely and hinder prosecution-false info and was booked into the Middlesex County Jail. On June 14, 2011, he was convicted of aggravated manslaughter and hinder own prosecution-false info and was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in state prison. On May 5, 2015, the subject was transferred from state prison back to the custody of the Middlesex County Jail as he appealed his convictions. On May 5, 2015, ICE issued a detainer to Middlesex County Jail. On May 22, 2018, the original charge was overturned and he was found guilty of a single felony charge of hindering-oneself-give false information and sentenced to time served.  Even though an ICE detainer was previously issued he was released.

A 27-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic was arrested by the Perth Amboy Police Department on January 25, 2018, in Middlesex County for aggravated assault - significant bodily injury to a victim of domestic violence, criminal restraint – hold victim, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon and booked into the Middlesex County Jail. On January 30, 2018, ICE issued a detainer, but the detainer was not honored and he was released.
(Read more.)

The Origins of Money

From Intellectual Takeout:
Money has been around for most of human history. From Mesopotamia (or even earlier), all civilizations have employed some kind of medium of exchange to facilitate transactions regardless of their geographical locations, legal and economic systems, religious beliefs or political structures. Have you ever wondered why? In a brief essay entitled "On the Origins of Money," the nineteenth-century Austrian economist Carl Menger provides an answer to this question. Menger argues that money emerged spontaneously in different times and places to overcome the disadvantages of barter and facilitate the expansion of trade. Which disadvantages?

Imagine Sandy, a farmer in the Midwest, produces wheat, which she expects to exchange for barley. Two problems arise at this point. First, she needs to find a barley producer with whom to barter her products. This problem can be easily overcome if Sandy goes to a market where another farmer (let’s call him Billy) sells barley. Since both proucts are harvested during the same time of the year, the exchange would easily take place.

But what if we are dealing with products with different life cycles? In this case, Sandy and Billy could only agree on exchanging their products if Sandy accepted the deferral of the payment until Billy’s products have been harvested. This is what economists call deferred barter. Even though deferred barter solves some problems, it has an important limitation: it can only take place within small communities based on mutual trust due to the risks involved for one of the parties. What if Billy decides not to deliver the promised barley? Thus, the use of deferred barter as a system of exchange prevents the expansion of trade beyond the limits of one’s community.

Barter has a second problem. Billy could refuse to trade barley for wheat. He might prefer exchanging his barley for any other commodity or good that better satisfies his needs. This represents another obstacle for the expansion of trade. How did societies overcome these problems?

They did so by using certain commodities as generally-accepted media of exchange, and more specifically precious metals. But why precious metals and not other commodities? According to Menger, gold or silver possess a high degree of saleableness, which he defined as “the greater or less facility with which they may be disposed of at prices corresponding to the general economic situation”. Today we call this property liquidity.

The relative high degree of saleableness of precious metals in relation to other commodities is fundamentally linked to their durability, divisibility, low transport and storing costs as well as the traditional demand for these goods in most places throughout history. The fact that precious metals are more saleable than other commodities implies that it is easier to exchange them for other goods: even though Sandy doesn’t need gold (she wants barley), she will accept it as payment because she knows she won’t have any problem to trade it for barley.

That’s why most civilizations adopted precious metals as money. Since then, money has gone through many changes, some of them spontaneous (e.g. the emergence of paper money) and some induced by the State (e.g. the replacement of commodity standards for central-bank fiat money). (Read more.)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

One Hundred Years Later

From left to right: Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Anastasia, Empress Alexandra, Tsarevitch Alexis, Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Maria
The Russian Orthodox Church commemorates the murder of the Russian Imperial Family on July 17, 1918. From Metropolitan Hilarion:
The 20th century was a difficult time for Orthodox Christians on the territory of the Russian Empire, which became the USSR after the Great War, the October Revolution and Civil War. But the more the Church endured persecution, the brighter the lanterns of faith and piety shone in the Russian land. From the Tsar and the members of the Royal Family close to him in spirit, from archpastors and simple monastics, priests, deacons to laypersons came forth a powerful spiritual army of the Church Militant. By 1918, the Russian Church showed two sorts of podvig—that of martyrdom and that of confession. Thank God, today we see how the blood of many millions of the host of Martyrs and Confessors who turned the Russian land red became the seeds of salvation for the spiritual rebirth of our people, in the Fatherland and in the diaspora. (Read more.)
A eulogy in honor of the Tsar from Archpriest Andrei Tkachev:
The sovereign emperor has more power today than one hundred years ago. A hundred years ago, propaganda efforts turned him into a monster, personifying the state system, earmarked for ruthless annihilation. Cruelty, indifference, luxury, and debauchery were attributed to the regime. All of this was automatically transferred to the image of the reigning house, and so successfully that yesterday’s “loyalists” silently partook of the murder of the head of state and the whole household.

And today? Today we have been sobered by the events of the previous century. After all, we know that the luxury of the oligarchs exceeds that of the tsars at times, although wholly devoid of any moral justification. The debauchery of today’s global Sodom makes us look at many sinners of former times as at kindergarten students. And the indifference of people to one another in a world where money is the main value is unmatched. As for cruelty, the twentieth century surpassed all. The tongue goes numb here and fingers refuse to type.

The Tsar rises above the age-old lies, appearing before our contemporaries in his human greatness and martyric crown. The question is not in the restoration of the monarchy, but first in the awareness of our past and the improvement of the present. Now, love for the last Tsar is easier and more explainable than at the beginning of the previous century during the treason of some, the indifference of others, and the demonic hatred of others. If at that time he was surrounded by “betrayal, cowardice, and deception,”1 then today, in the world into which he entered with his family, he is surrounded by the fellowship of the saints; more precisely—the triumphant synaxis and the Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (Heb. 12:23). Today he truly has much more power and personal freedom.

Death clarifies many things. This is one of its functions. Thus, behind the apparent timidity of Sts. Boris and Gleb was hidden their willing sacrifice and refusal to commit fratricide. Not weakness, but strength of a special kind was soon seen in their deaths. As for the ability to fight, Sts. Boris and Gleb have manifested it from the other world—upon enemies, not upon their brothers.

Something similar has already partially happened and continues to happen with the person of the murdered Nicholas Alexandrovich and his assessment in the historical Russian consciousness. But the question does not concern only the identity of the emperor. There’s a whole range of burning questions involved in the discussion: the guilt of the people, the global deep state, the treason of the elites… Inevitability or accident? The head spins.

The Tsar was alone. Between him and the people was a dense, impenetrable layer of bureaucracy and various local authorities acting on behalf of the Tsar, but, obviously not always for the common good. “The Tsar is good, but the boyars are wolves.” This phrase can also be meaningfully said without a monarchy. (Read more.)

Reflections about the sin of regicide, HERE. Pictures of the last Imperial Family, HERE.A Russian liturgy in Ekaterinburg in honor of the family, HERE. Share