Monday, December 31, 2018

An Anglo-Saxon Christmas Sermon

From A Clerk at Oxford:
Angels often appeared to men under the old law, but it is not written that they came with light; that honour was reserved for the glory of this day, that they revealed themselves with heavenly light when the true light rose in the darkness for the righteous, the merciful and just Lord. The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which has come to all people, because now today for you the Saviour Christ is born in the city of David.” Truly he brought them tidings of great joy which will never end, because the birth of Christ brought gladness to the dwellers in heaven, in earth, and in hell. The angel said, "Now today for you the Saviour Christ is born in the city of David". He rightly said "today" and not "tonight", because Christ is the true day, who by his coming drives away all the dark ignorance of the old night and illuminates the whole world by his grace...(Read more.)

Human History and the Birth of Christ

From Life Site:
It has been argued by not a few individuals that the defeat of Germany during World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 meant any governing philosophy not named liberal democracy was destined for what Ronald Reagan once called “the ash heap of history.” 
The past twenty or so years has proven that theory false. The rise of Islamism, democracy’s devolution into despotism via a Deep State that spans multiple continents, and liberalism’s increasing hostility towards religion suggests the convulsions mankind experienced in the 1900s have not yet come to an end. 
Furthermore, the resurgence of anti-globalist, some might say anti-liberal, attitudes currently sweeping Europe indicate Christians are no longer willing to sit idly by as their heritage is torn apart under the guise of tolerance. 
Essential to a proper understanding of human events is the recognition of the social ramifications of the birth of Jesus Christ. As Pope Pius XII once remarked, “it is impossible for anyone to expound fully and impartially the history of events and institutions without the light of Christ and His Church shining clearly forth in superhuman brightness.” 
In the 21st century, partisans of liberalism, in an attempt to accomplish what their Communist forefathers could not — namely, eradicate from existence the Catholic faith — will often assert that supporting same-sex ‘marriage’, promoting transgender ‘rights’, expanding abortion, and the like, places oneself on “the right side of history.” 
No doubt many persons in our agnostic age fall prey to the sort of moral superiority the high-sounding claim of being on “the right side of history” brings with it. But the inconvenient truth for those who have succumbed to this fairy tale is that to place oneself on “the right side of history” means placing oneself on the side of Jesus Christ. (Read more.)

In Defense of Male Stoicism

From Quillette:
“Can we wean boys off machismo and misogyny?” wrote the author Tim Winton. “Will they ever relinquish the race, the game, the fight, and join the dance?” What is inherently wrong with racing, or gaming, or even fighting in controlled, consensual situations? Competitive and even aggressive instincts can be useful and satisfying if channelled properly. A thousand “How The Patriarchy Harms Men and Boys, Too” articles have blossomed across the internet. There is no subtlety here. “From birth,” claims one article in Bustle, “Men are discouraged from showing emotion.” As if there are moms and dads who try to silence their baby boys as they scream in the maternity wards.

Mental health is more complex than “repression” versus “expression.” First, there are differences in how we experience feelings. Depressive rumination is more common among women than among men which can make them more vulnerable to stress and depression. I would not recommend “Stop Thinking About It” as a mental health campaign slogan but it complicates the picture. Rational coping as well as emotional suppression is more common among men than among women and can be a productive response to the struggles of life. Psychological needs vary depending on the person and the situation—certainly not just between the sexes—and there is no single, simple model of how one should cope with hardship and pain. We can all agree that no one should feel shame for talking, crying or seeking professional help, but we should not pathologize aversion to doing so under unwieldy banners like “toxic masculinity.”

Stoicism is a good thing that, like all good things, becomes damaging in excess. Even in the relatively comfortable West our lives are hard. We have bills to pay, and jobs to keep, relationships to maintain, and children to raise. Many people live with illness, grief, or the pain of separation or dreams gone to ruin. Some people are just sad in a deep, persistent way. At times we have to grit our teeth amid stress and suffering or else our lives will fall apart and damage those we love. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Downton Abbey: The Movie

 From The Wrap:
“Life is settling into these new realities when this event happens at Downton that brings everybody together,” Engler told EW. “The story line has expanded the scale of it. It takes the things you love about Downton – the romance, the intrigue, the pageantry – and makes it bigger.” The cast and crew promises that the new film will be much more of the same of the original series but on a “grander scale.” They also addressed the challenges of taking the sprawling stories of 20 plus characters spread out across a season of television and making all their stories fit into a two hour film. “The minute we read it, already the story had gained in scale and in size so much, and Julian’s done a very clever thing … Everyone has to come together and combine as a household for the story,” Leech told EW. (Read more.)

The Neverending, Mysterious Saga of Michael Flynn

From Victor Davis Hanson:
What put Flynn in legal jeopardy were the general’s statements to FBI investigators that purportedly were false, and allegedly given deliberately to mislead two federal investigators. I express doubt here only because of media reports and leaks that Special Counsel Robert Mueller later either pressured Flynn for a confession, by strategies of financial exhaustion or leveraged him by threats to indict his son, or both. 
Without that pressure, one wonders how Flynn might have explained his earlier alleged inconsistencies in recounting a private off the record conversation with a foreign diplomatic official to two FBI officials. That is, had he had adequate legal resources or not faced prosecutorial threats to indict his son, would he have later claimed that months earlier that he had been dishonest to Peter Strzok and his fellow FBI investigator?

Had Flynn at the time been apprised of why Andrew McCabe was sending his agents over to the White House, Flynn would have had choices, perhaps Lois Lerner-like to plead the Fifth, or in James Comey fashion he initially could have told chief interrogator Peter Strzok on 245 occasions that he did not know or did not remember, or he simply could have told investigators in James Clapper fashion that he was giving the least untruthful version of the story. (Read more.)

From The Last Refuge:
DIA Director Michael Flynn, was on the job two months when the attack took place.  Flynn sent this intelligence information to the State Department, White House, Intelligence agencies, ODNI, and Defense Dept. on Sept 12th, 2012.  Director Flynn knew the motives, the players and also knew there was advanced warning the attack was coming.

While al-Zawahiri was organizing the Cairo Egypt,protest for the release of the Blind Sheik….  in Benghazi a jihadist attack by the Muslim Brotherhood group who supported the Blind Sheik was also pre-planned.   Both events were sending the U.S. a message centered around Omar Abdul Rahman, the “Blind Sheik”.   Both events (Cairo and Benghazi) had absolutely nothing to do with a YouTube video.

However, behind the attack-motive was the much bigger State Department and CIA problem with the U.S. Libyan weapons and the flow to Syria.  The U.S. sending weapons into the hands of al-Qaeda was always the larger risk to the Obama administration.  This problem started with Clinton (State) and Panetta (CIA at the time), but now those weapons going to Syria was an even bigger problem.  Flynn was not in place at the time (2010 – 2011) when Obama, Clinton and Panetta carried out Operation Zero Footprint. Factually the U.S. policy that facilitated arming al-Qaeda was a big political problem.  All of the expressed false motives, false statements and political lies were intended to cover-up this issue. (Read more.)

A King is Born

From Steve Ray:
Luke and Matthew were not alone in writing accounts of the Christ. An old man named John, chosen by Jesus while still a young fisherman, wrote a personal account of his three years with the king. And Mark, who was Peter’s “secretary” recorded Peter’s recollections of his years with Jesus. Four witnesses wrote four accounts called the Gospels. They recount the one historical event from four different perspectives, just as in a courtroom four witnesses might testify about one case with four differing yet truthful accounts. Each Gospel writer had his own material, audience, emphasis and style.

For example, each author deals with the genealogy and birth of Jesus in very different and fascinating ways. Each account is true, non-contradictory, and essential to understand the whole story. Matthew was a Jew writing to Jews. He adeptly demonstrated that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and King with royal pedigree through the lineage of King David to Abraham the patriarch of Israel and the father of the Jewish nation.

Mark, on the other hand, penned Peter’s gospel from Rome and presents Jesus to the Romans as a servant with no genealogy. A key verse in Mark summarizes the whole Gospel, “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). A servant’s genealogy is irrelevant. Mark’s gospel begins with Jesus working. King and servant: no polar opposites could be more extreme. (Read more.)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

What the Vikings Were Really Like

From Twenty-two Words:
In Old Norse, Vīking means “pirate” or “sea rover,” and that couldn’t be more accurate. The Vikings were Scandinavian people who scavenged and pillaged a region encompassing Scandinavia, North America, the Mediterranean, and Central Asia and Russia from the 8th to 11th centuries. What caused their expansion is debated, as some historians believe it was spurred by the religious persecution of the Saxon Wars led by Charlemagne– while others insist it was due to the economic and political weakness that occurred in Britain and western Europe. Regardless of motive, the Vikings left an indelible mark on the lands they both raided and settled. Today, we have pieced together what their culture looked like– from religious and social structures, seafaring practices, clothing and appearance, and even cuisine. We’ve also dispelled certain purveying myths about them, like the belief that they wore horned helmets into battle and the idea that they were big-boned and hulking. If you want to get a grip on these well-known peoples, or if you want to call “B.S.” the next time a TV show about the Vikings is produced, read on. (Read more.)

Traditional Romanian Christmas

From Uncover Romania:
Pork is by excellence the main meat used to prepare the Christmas meals. Strongly related to the tradition of sacrificing the pig before the religious celebration, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without all the home-made pork products that include various sausages and ham recipes and a long list of specialties like toba, muschi, caltabos, chisca, the main ingredients of all Christmas appetizers. (Read more.)

Taking Refuge From Church Turmoil

“‘Lex orandi, lex credenda — the way we worship is the way we believe,’” said Joan Tussing, who converted to the Catholic faith in 1995. “This speaks so clearly about why I prefer and believe in the importance of the traditional Latin Mass.” 
Tussing was first exposed to the traditional Mass about eight years ago through a priest in Cleveland, Ohio, who is a family friend. More recently, after doing some reading of Church history as part of her concerns about the synod on the family and the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, she decided to seek out a traditional Mass at a parish in Florida, where she spends the winter. Tussing said she converted to Catholicism because she was drawn to the truth of the faith and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and that the Latin Mass better connects and unifies her with the fullness of that truth. Although she does not attend the Latin Mass exclusively, she said when she does, she experiences more fully the embodiment of what Christ instituted at the Last Supper and his offering of himself for the salvation of sins. “It’s not about what we’re doing,” she said. “It’s about what he’s doing for us.” (Read more.)

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Santons of Provence

From France Today:
In Provence the holiday season belongs to the colorful world of santonssantous or santoùos in Provençal, “little saints” to the rest of us. A wrinkle, the shining dot of an eye, a graceful pose, the tilting of a hat, a lace bonnet, a weary back stooped by toil and age, a smile of contentment, an ample fold in a garment—since these clay figurines are often no bigger than Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina, you will not be surprised that 85% of the cost goes to labor, a far cry from the modern mass-production Christmas industry. The making of a santon is a labor of love.

Figurines have been part of the human experience since time immemorial, often as effigies of the gods. The santons of Provence stem from the first living Nativity scene, said to have been created in 1223 by St. Francis, in Greccio, near Assisi. When these evolved into Nativity crèches (manger scenes), they were made of painted and gilded wood and set up inside churches. In time they became luxury artifacts, adorned with Venetian glass and fine porcelain, acquired by wealthy families as status symbols. When wax came into use in the 17th and 18th centuries, likenesses of the high and mighty rivaled those of the Holy Family, flattering the vanity of their owners, not least Louis XIV who owned seven scale models of himself. The mechanized crèches that appeared in the late 18th century were altogether removed from the church and displayed in small theaters. The kicking feet of the infant Jesus delighted the crowds but were hardly conducive to spiritual meditation. (Read more.)


Tariffs Are Working

From The Hill:
Throughout 2018, there has been a constant wave of criticism regarding the tariffs that President Trump imposed on an array of imports, principally from China. However, the evidence shows that the tariffs are actually working. Economic growth is up, inflation is under control, and many of the tariffed industries are enjoying strong recoveries in output, profits and employment. An economic analysis we conducted at the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) explains why we are seeing stronger economic growth this year and can also expect more gains over the next three years. The economic numbers in 2018 are already impressive. In the third quarter of this year, growth in inflation-adjusted GDP (the broadest measure of U.S. economic activity) came in at 3.5 percent. That's far better than most economists expected a year ago. (Read more.)

On the media's hypocrisy, The Hill:
My colleagues at many publications and networks were in full-throated hysteria, suggesting the nation is approaching the brink of disaster. Some actually used that very word. Things sounded so dire that I almost felt like I was reading a chapter from the Book of Revelations or a script from a new Bruce Willis movie. Take, for example: Tom Brokaw suggested the USS America is under the dark spell of Captain Queeg, one that needed to be broken by mutiny because Trump disagreed with his Defense secretary and summoned troops home. (FYI, I think the National Institutes of Health needs to develop a vaccine for the opinion disease that seems to afflict supposedly neutral ex-anchors these days.) 
A co-host, Brian Kilmeade, at “Fox and Friends” suggested the president just revived the terror group ISIS by pulling troops from Syria. The Washington Post ran an editorial with a headline exhorting Americans to “be afraid” because Trump dismissed ex-general James Mattis as Defense secretary. And then I remembered this is the same news media that took the opposite side on all these issues just a few months ago. For example, the Post, that bastion of journalism whose marketing tagline is “Democracy dies in darkness,” the same paper that lambasted Trump for dismissing an ex-general as a Cabinet secretary last week ran an article, a year ago with this priceless headline: “Let’s not staff a White House with generals ever again.” 
Okay, so hiring a general is bad — and firing a general is bad. Hmmm. Apparently democracy isn’t the only thing in darkness at the Post. Collective memory, common sense and consistency apparently are searching for a flashlight, too. Now to NBC, where Brokaw was the face of the network for decades and still is identified as a special correspondent on “Morning Joe.” His colorful tweet comparing Trump to an infamously insane Navy captain from American literature was prompted by the troop-withdrawal decision.  (Read more.)

Let’s Pray for Persecuted Christians

From Life Site:
A widespread crackdown on Christians in Iran led to the arrests of over 100 Christians, with many of them arrested for “proselytizing” Muslims to Christianity, which is a crime in the Islamic Republic. Those arrested were ordered to detail their past religious activities and cut contact with any Christian groups they might be involved in. Christianity has existed in Persia since shortly after the Crucifixion some 2,000 years ago. Despite this, many Christians fled after the Islamic revolution of 1979. Some reports indicate, however, a rising rate of conversion to Christianity despite the obstacles.

In China, police officers in some cities are apparently being given quotas for how many Christians they need to arrest. Open Doors, an organization that tracks the persecution of Christians around the world, noted that police officers could lose their jobs if they do not imprison the required number of Christians. This comes in the wake of a massive nation-wide crackdown which began with the arrests of the leadership of a prominent evangelical house church, with apartments being surrounded and entire families dragged off to jail. Chinese Christians are promising to stand firm in the face of this persecution.

In Egypt, some have been trying to draw attention to a silent epidemic for years: The systematic kidnapping of Christian girls by Muslims. Girls are pulled off the streets, held in captivity, sexually assaulted, and told they must convert to Islam. Violence is used to break their will: One young Coptic Christian girl from Minya was kidnappedby five Muslim men, forcibly stripped naked, and filmed. The kidnappers threatened to make the video public if she did not convert to Islam and marry one of them. Christians in Egypt keep a close eye on their daughters, and try to ensure that they never travel alone. The authorities rarely bother to assist those families who are robbed of their daughters. 
In Nigeria, the massacre of Christians by Fulani radicals has continued. Hundreds have been killed in the past several months in an ongoing humanitarian crisis that has been largely ignored by the world, with men, women, and children being hacked to death with machetes in what many in the press are simply writing off as a tribal conflict over farmland. Christian girls have also been kidnapped by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, and one fifteen-year-old schoolgirl named Leah Sharibu remains in captivity because she refuses to convert to Islam. (Read more.)

Ancient Humans and the Stars

From Popular Mechanics:
Studying cave paintings from Turkey, Spain, France and Germany, researchers have come to the conclusion that humanity’s ancient ancestors were smarter than previously given credit. These famed paintings were not simply decorative, a new study says—they represent a complex understanding of astronomy pre-dating Greek civilization. Going back 40,000 years, scientists now believe that ancient humans had the knowledge to keep track of time based on the movement of stars in the sky. They understood a concept called “precession of the equinoxes”—the idea that the Earth’s movement was causing the changes of star location, not the stars themselves.

History generally credits this idea to Hipparchus of Nicea, a famed Greek astronomer who is “regarded by many historians as a scientist of the highest quality and possibly the greatest astronomical genius among the ancient Greeks,” according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia. Several cultures, from China to Babylonia, discovered the idea independently. Now it appears that Hipparchus was late to the idea as well, thanks to a new understanding of the cave paintings.

Researchers used perhaps the most famous cave paintings in the world to help make their determination—the Paleolithic art inside the caves of Lascaux in southern France. Studying a drawing referred to as “The Shaft Scene,” scientists now believe the picture of a dying man was made to commemorate a comet striking the planet in around 15,200 BC. This determination was made through a combination of radiocarbon dating and studying the atmospheric history. Around the same time “The Shaft Scene” was being made, a climate change event was recorded in a Greenland ice core, ancient ice which has stored climate records for over 100,000 years. Through dating the paints of the drawings, scientists were able to find when they were applied to the walls. Using powerful computer programs, they were able to compare these dates to the predicted positions of the stars. (Read more.)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

On Future War

From Modern War Institute at West Point:
In August 1945, when America initiated the atomic age, the dominant character of land war between great powers transitioned from operational maneuver to positional defense. Now, almost a century later, the US Army is mistakenly structuring for offensive clashes of mass and scale reminiscent of 1944 while competitors like Russia and China have adapted to twenty-first-century reality. This new paradigm—which favors fait accompli acquisitions, projection from sovereign sanctuary, and indirect proxy wars—combines incremental military actions with weaponized political, informational, and economic agendas under the protection of nuclear-fires complexes to advance territorial influence. The Army’s failure to conceptualize these features of the future battlefield is a dangerous mistake. 
The modern context of positional warfare, as argued by British theorist J.F.C Fuller, thus renders “physical” land invasion between nuclear powers an “obsolete thing.” Regional powers like Russia and China are protecting sovereign and adjacent territories with unprecedented reconnaissance-strike defenses that cannot be degraded without attacking systems in home territory and incurring instant strategic escalation. The US Army’s renewed focus on large-scale ground combat against peer threats with maneuvering field armies, as directed in its capstone doctrine, FM 3-0: Operations, presents a mismatch of problem and solution to these hybrid challenges. 
While many strategists idealize the Napoleonic Era or Second World War as the theoretical foundation for nation-state warfare, the era of Frederick the Great in the seventeenth century better describes the current strategic landscape. That period of European rivalry featured interlocking cannon forts and political alliances at depth that made offensives by small and expensive armies problematic. Instead, states typically acquired territory though positional advances or dynastic realignment while protecting lines of communication. This approach, similar to contemporary threat strategies, saw regimes routinely extend influence by co-opting sympathetic populations and expanding hardened networks. 
Failure to recognize the ascendency of nuclear-based defense—with the consequent potential for only limited maneuver, as in the seventeenth century—incurs risk for expeditionary forces. Even as it idealizes Patton’s Third Army with ambiguous “multi-domain” cyber and space enhancements, the US Army’s fixation with massive counter-offensives to defeat unrealistic Russian and Chinese conquests of Europe and Asia misaligns priorities. Instead of preparing for past wars, the Army should embrace forward positional and proxy engagement within integrated political, economic, and informational strategies to seize and exploit initiative. (Read more.)

How Trump Brought Christmas Back to America

From Life Site:
When, after Trump’s inauguration, conservatives began celebrating what they saw as the new president’s overthrowing of the “War on Christmas,” they were soundly mocked for thinking there had been a war in the first place.

This leads to the big question: Did Christmas really leave America under Obama and his administration? Has Trump really brought Christmas “back”? The only way to go about answering this question is to compare how the two presidents have commemorated Christmas. There are no better examples of this than the presidential addresses at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies and the annual White House Christmas Cards. What messages about Christmas have Obama and Trump conveyed on these occasions? (Read more.)

Ross Douthat On Staying Catholic at Christmas

From The Deacon's Bench:
The case for remaining Catholic in this moment, then, is basically that all this has happened before and will happen again — in what G.K. Chesterton once called the “five deaths of the faith,” the moments across two thousand years when every human probability pointed to the church of Rome passing into history, becoming one with Nineveh and Tyre.

For American Catholics at least, this era feels understandably like another death — in which the saints seem hidden, the would-be prophets don’t agree with one another, the reformers keep losing. And it is all-too-understandable that people would choose to leave a dying church. But it is the season’s promise, and in the long run its testable hypothesis, that those who stay and pray and fight will see it improbably reborn. (Read more.)


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas in Poland

From Voice of Europe:
It becomes a familiar recipe in Europe: If you want to see a traditional Christmas, head East. While you can barely see the Christmas trees through barricades and road blocks in Germany, in Poland it’s a completely different story. We’ve selected some images and videos to bring the Christmas spirit to your home and to show you what Christmas in Europe should be about. Thank you to Beautiful Warsaw for the images. (Read more.)


From Townhall:
Somehow Trump is the unprecedented danger to our democracy.  From Trump’s activities I can think of two incidents where he has caused violence.  One is the guy in his 70s who smacked a 20-something being escorted out of a rally after interrupting it with a disruptive protest.  The other is this nutcase in Florida that was a Trump fan apparently.  But this guy was sick for years and I don’t believe any of these nut jobs should be blamed on any political figure of either party.  They are just mentally ill people grasping onto some thought at the moment.  We are told to accept manifestly demented individuals have a rational political agenda.

The comparison of the supposed negative, violent rhetoric coming from Trump and the negative violent actions coming from the Left is not even close.   Who is the real unprecedented danger to our society? Any action against Trump is OK in these people’s minds because he is a “clear and present danger.”  Though they cannot point to exactly what he has done that is so dangerous.  They just echo chamber the opposition and then it becomes the truth to them even though it cannot be substantiated with actual examples.

The latest proof of Trump being a “danger to all free people” was his recent run-in with CNN’s Jim Acosta at a press conference after the mid-terms.   Never-Trumpers used this as proof that Trump is on the road to dictatorship and suppression of our free press.  I watched the entire press conference.  Trump answered two questions from Acosta even though he tried to only answer the first one, if you can call the first one a question.  Acosta began his comments by saying “I want to challenge you.”  He went on to lecture President Trump about the migrants coming in mass groups to our border from countries in Central America.  We know how that turned out.

The reason Acosta had his WH press credentials taken away was for his ensuing rude and selfish behavior.  He insisted on keeping the microphone, trying to either ask another question or further lecture the president. Other members of the press were waiting their turn to address the issue they were concerned with at the time.  Acosta does this regularly with Press Secretary Sanders. (Read more.)

Domus Aurea

Immediately after the fire of 64 AD, which destroyed most of the centre of Rome, Nero built a new imperial residence. This was far bigger and more luxurious than the previous one, the Domus Transitoria. Its walls were decked with gold and precious stones, giving it the name the Domus Aurea or Golden House. Designed by the architects Severus and Celeres, the new palace was immense: it covered the Palatine, Velia and Oppian hills and the valley where the Colosseum was later built.
The astronomic orientation of the building confirms the theory that Nero saw himself as the sun god and therefore frequently used symbolism of the stars and sun. The head of his colossal statue, too, was surrounded by a corona. 
Nero’s successors constructed other buildings within the unfinished complex, such as the Colosseum on the site of the artificial lake and the Baths of Trajan, which replaced palace buildings that burned down in the year 104. During the Renaissance, parts of the substructure and ground floor rooms of Nero’s palace were exposed, revealing many ancient works of art, including the Laocoön group in 1506. (Read more.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Short History of Ice Skating

From The Spectator:
In landscape terms, the Fens don’t have much going for them. What you can say for them, though, is that they’re flat — a selling point for lovers of flat racing. This aspect was not lost on James I when, while out hunting in 1605, he came across the village of Newmarket, and 60 years later his grandson Charles II, who inherited the Stuart love of the sport of kings, would build a palace and stables in the Suffolk village. Today the remains of Palace House and the King’s Yard are home to the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, which houses a world-class collection of sporting art by Stubbs, Landseer, Munnings and Skeaping. But its latest exhibition focuses on a sport with a more surprising Stuart connection — skating. While in exile in the Netherlands in 1648, the teenage James II acquired a taste for scooting over the ice with blades strapped to his boots, and he introduced the sport to the English court on his return. 
In Holland skating hardly ranked as a sport. When frozen waterways became impassable to boats, skates were an alternative mode of transport. In Cornelis Beelt’s ‘Skaters on a Frozen River’ (c.1660), a peasant loads hay on to a horse-drawn sled; in Anthonie Verstraelen’s ‘Ice Scene’ (c.1640), an urban couple teeters across a river in fashionable bustles and pantaloons. By the following century, skating had become a spectator sport: in Cornelis Troost’s ‘Winter Fun’ (1740), a drinker at a pop-up bar trains his eye glass on an avalanche of petticoats as a passing lady slips and performs a horizontal cancan. 
In France, where Louis XVI had introduced skating to Paris, displays of petticoats were confined to dance halls. On the flooded fields of La Glacière, gentlemen pulled ladies across the ice in carriages shaped like swans or gondolas. The rink was an arena for male display; an excuse for Parisian dandies to don tights. The balletic moves outlined in Jean Garcin’s ‘Le Vrai Patineur’ (1813) were explicitly designed to ‘seduce weak mortals’ of unspecified sex. They included ‘L’Adonis’ — right arm raised — ‘L’Apollon’ — left arm raised — and ‘Le Beau Narcisse’ — both arms raised and bent above the head in a half-Mobot. Only French skaters, sniffed Garcin, had any style; with the Germans, English and Danes either ‘the body is bent, the arms swinging… or straight as a picket, all stiff, inflexible, without grace, without attitude’. 
True of the English, perhaps, though not the Scots, as demonstrated by the effortless ease with which the Reverend Robert Walker glides across Duddingston Loch in Henry Raeburn’s famous painting of the 1790s. The National Galleries of Scotland wouldn’t lend this iconic image, but in its place there are two paintings by Raeburn’s pupil Charles Lees: ‘Skaters on Duddingston Loch by Moonlight’ (1857) (see p69) shows an Edinburgh swell in top hat and frock coat swooping swallow-like over the ice as lesser mortals totter and topple around him, and ‘Skating on Linlithgow Loch’ (1858) features a major pile-up. 
If figure skating was for dandies, speed skating was for oiks, with the Fens — drained with Dutch help in the 1650s — providing the perfect surface. By the 1890s fixtures at Littleport and Lingay were attracting international competitors, with punters packing on to trains from Liverpool Street. Victorian lantern slides document the speed skating heroes of the day, from hunky New Yorker Joseph F. Donoghue in natty racing sweater and matching headband to veteran local talent William ‘Turkey’ Smart, who acquired his nickname from his bent posture and flapping arms — a style confirming Garcin’s worst prejudices about the English, while keeping this agricultural labourer from Welney at the top of his game for 40 years. But the show’s star turn, captured going like the clappers in a 1920s Pathé film, is Wisbech-born blacksmith Cyril W. Horn, his clinging jersey revealing good honest pecs earned in the forge rather than the gym. A girl can tell. (Read more.)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Joyeux Noël from Québec City

From Victoria:
Snow falls gently along the cobblestone streets of Old Québec, near the banks of the St. Lawrence River, turning this historic neighborhood within the walls of Québec City into an authentic winter wonderland. From Upper Town to Lower Town, the Christmas spirit comes alive with every boutique, bistro, and abode reflecting the area’s distinctive French character amid the exuberance of the season. (Read more:)

Religious Upbringing Better for Kids’ Health

From The Stream:
A recent Harvard study reveals that children who had a religious upbringing are likely to be healthier and have a higher degree of well-being in early adulthood than those who did not. The study, conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and released last month, shows a link between a religious upbringing and better physical and mental health in young adults. Researchers found that people who attended religious services weekly or who practiced prayer or meditation daily in their youth reported having a higher life satisfaction and positivity in their 20s. Individuals were found less likely to smoke, have symptoms of depression, use illicit drugs, or have sexually transmitted infections than people who engaged in less regular spiritual practices.

“These findings are important for both our understanding of health and our understanding of parenting practices,” said first author Ying Chen in a university press release. “Many children are raised religiously, and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their health behaviors, mental health, and overall happiness and well-being.” The researchers followed 5,000 young people for between eight to 14 years, controlling for variables such as maternal health, socioeconomic status, and histories of substance abuse or symptoms of depression.

Results show that those who went to religious services at least once a week as children were about 18 percent more likely to report higher levels of happiness as young adults between the ages of 23 and 30 than those who didn’t. They were also shown to be 29 percent more likely to volunteer in their local communities and 33 percent less likely to engage in the use of illicit drugs.

Those who prayed or meditated at least once a day in their youth were shown to be 16 percent more likely to report higher levels of happiness as young adults and were 30 percent less likely to have become sexually active in their adolescence. These individuals were also 40 percent less likely to have contracted a sexually transmitted infection than those who never prayed or meditated.

Emilie Kao, the director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, said she was not surprised by the researchers’ findings, noting that the Harvard study joins a long list of studies showing a positive link between religion and well-being. “I think they’re consistent with other research that we’ve seen that shows religious beliefs give people spiritual strengths that lead to healthy habits and build their social networks and gives them the ability to overcome obstacles in their lives,” Kao said. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Royal Snow

From Royal Central:
The onset of winter provides another opportunity to look again at the links between the many fascinating outdoor pastimes and pursuits enjoyed by royalty, which I touched on in my article of December 2017, Snow and Royalty. Whilst the German Christmas was much popularised by Prince Albert, the preference of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort to spend Christmas at Windsor Castle with the royal children was in fact, a continuance of an earlier, medieval pattern, English monarchs having wintered at Windsor since the twelfth century. The winter wedding of King Henry I – his second marriage – to the French Princess Adeliza of Louvain, was celebrated at Windsor on 24 January 1121. Windsor Castle came to be closely associated with Christmases within the Royal Family until the death of Prince Albert, after which Queen Victoria generally took to celebrating Christmas at Osborne. 
I am particularly interested here to explore a little closer the actual royal pastimes enjoyed with the snow itself, as opposed to the various charming winter pastimes on the ice such as skating and sledging – Prince Albert having been an extremely keen and enthusiastic skater. Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria – the French Queen Marie Antoinette – adored the snow, which she ever associated with her Viennese childhood; indeed, she remained excited at the mere sight of it for the rest of her life. (Antonia Fraser, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, 21). Snow, therefore, provides the setting for many charming vignettes and provides the background for generations of royal play. 
In Tudor England, the court used the snowfall as an opportunity to make royal winter sports, as might befit the cycle of seasonal entertainments it enjoyed around its yearly calendar. We know from the accounts of Henry Courtenay, Earl of Devon and Marquess of Exeter, that the courtiers of Henry VIII engaged in snowball fights (Alison Weir, Henry VIII: King & Court, 94; 519) and thanks to the records contained within the Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, that on at least one occasion, the King joined in. This occurred in January 1519, when a 28-year-old Henry VIII borrowed a cap from a boy to keep out the cold. (Ibid, 94). The King once travelled by winter sleigh over the frozen Thames from his Palace at Whitehall to Greenwich in 1536. (Louise Cooling, A Royal Christmas, 110). (Read more.)

More on Marie-Antoinette and sleigh-riding, HERE. Share

The Meltdown Over Syria

From the American Conservative:
And what about if the United States withdraws? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is likely to attack the Kurds, which he sees as a threat to his homeland. (Though even there, the crystal ball is murky. As Joshua Landis pointed out on Twitter yesterday, the Kurds helped fight off Arab rebel militias, and Assad may decide he needs them as allies in post-war Syria.) Some combination of Assadists and Russians will then move in against the straggling rebel and ISIS remnants, the latter of which are still committing horrific atrocities but largely defeated and shut out of major population centers. Syria after that will be changed, tense, bloodstained, aggrieved. But it will be more stable, at least, than it was during the war, perhaps enabling the trickle of refugees returning home to become a gush. And even if that scenario proves too rosy, even if Turkey and Syria somehow end up skirmishing, what is America supposed to do? What justifies the expenditure of another dollar or soldier in a conflict as intractable as that? What net good do we accomplish by planting ourselves in front of a powerful NATO nation on the other side of the globe? (Read more.)

From the Spectator USA:
Warmongers on the Left and Right are united in their fury at President Donald Trump’s extraordinarily bold and brave decision immediately to begin withdrawing all US troops from Syria. For those of us who prefer peace, it is a sure sign that Trump deserves our unconditional support and gratitude, no matter how we view the rest of his presidency. After all, the only other time Trump united the neocons and liberal hawks was when he launched a futile cruise missile barrage last year at an empty Syrian airfield in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians.

It is a sad reflection on the state of the Western media that it is only by unleashing deadly weapons against a sovereign Arab country that – in the infamous words of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the time – the Commander-in-Chief can appear ‘presidential’. A year later, we still have no incontrovertible evidence that a chemical attack had in fact been carried out or, if it was, who was responsible. Now Zakaria is whining that Trump’s latest decision to remove troops from Syria feels worse than the moment former President George W. Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq – an invasion, incredibly, Zakaria’s lies helped pave the way for.

For those of us living in the real world, Trump’s decision to remove the military from the Syrian quagmire is the bravest and most logical decision in the Middle East by an American president since Eisenhower ordered Britain, France and Israel to withdraw from Suez. After all, US troops – unlike those from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, who were invited to fight Isis by the Assad regime – were stationed there illegally, and served no discernible strategic American interests. Worse, they were fighting an Islamic State partly armed by the Obama administration, which had recklessly backed other Sunni terror groups in an effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

During the election campaign, Trump was uniquely eloquent in pointing out all this. He was also alone in highlighting the disastrous consequences of earlier military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. This, then, is one of those moments those of us not fond of death and destruction can once again celebrate that Hillary Clinton – who championed the Libya campaign, wickedly joked about Gaddafi’s murder and supported regime change in Syria – never made it to the White House. In stark contrast, by withdrawing US troops from Syria, Trump is guided by a rational and humane assessment that Western military intervention in the Middle East always ends in disaster so should be avoided wherever possible. (Read more.)

A Christmas Miracle

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act touted by President Donald Trump is one of three reasons that at least 19 states are reporting unexpectedly high general fund revenue halfway through fiscal year 2019, tax policy expert Adam Michel told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday.

“[Trump] can also take credit for the larger economy to the extent that that’s now fueling additional spending,” Michel, a Heritage Foundation policy analyst, told TheDCNF via telephone. “It’s not only the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that’s growing the economy but his deregulatory agenda is fueling economic growth. All of those things wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t push for them.”

Increased spending in the larger economy gave state sales tax revenue a boost.

“I think we will see most states end up with more revenue at the end of the year,” Michel told TheDCNF. Heritage is a conservative think tank located in Washington, D.C.

The current fiscal year will hit its halfway point on Dec. 30. The National Association of State Budget Officers (Nasbo) released a report Thursday that said 19 states have received general fund revenue that exceeded expectations for fiscal year 2019. Those states include Georgia, Pennsylvania, Washington and Connecticut, reported The Wall Street Journal. The latter state expects to take a $600 million chunk out of its budget gap by summer 2021 thanks to the increased revenue, reported WSJ.

Fourteen states say their revenue is meeting expectations for fiscal year 2019, while five report falling short, according to the report cited by WSJ.

The revenue increases are directly tied to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) touted by Trump, Michel told TheDCNF.

“Because the federal tax code expanded what is taxable income — the main change being they eliminated the exclusions for individuals and children and they compensated in other areas — income that is taxable at the state level for many states went up,” he said. “So we should expect to see in a majority of states income tax revenue rise because of the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” (Read more.)

Tolkien, Chesterton and the Adventure of Mission

From Word on Fire:
There is a common, and I’ll admit somewhat understandable, interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy that sees the great work as a celebration of the virtues of the Shire, that little town where the hobbits dwell in quiet domesticity. Neat, tidy hobbit holes, filled with comfortable furniture, delicate tea settings, and cozy fireplaces are meant, this reading has it, to evoke the charms of a “merrie old England” that existed before the rise of modernity and capitalism. As I say, there is undoubtedly something to this, for Tolkien, along with C.S. Lewis and the other members of the Inklings group, did indeed have a strong distaste for the excesses of the modern world.

However, I’m convinced that to see things this way is almost entirely to miss the point. For the ultimate purpose of Lord of the Rings is not to celebrate domesticity but rather to challenge it. Bilbo and Frodo are not meant to settle into their easy chairs but precisely to rouse themselves to adventure. Only when they leave the comforts of the Shire and face down orcs, dragons, goblins, and finally the power of evil itself do they truly find themselves. They do indeed bring to the struggle many of the virtues that they cultivated in the Shire, but those qualities, they discover, are not to be squirreled away and protected, but rather unleashed for the transformation of a hostile environment. (Read more.)

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Cost of the Wall

From One News Now:
Both Pelosi and Schumer agreed with Lowey’s contention that investing $5 billion on the wall was a “waste of resources.”

However, after looking at statistics, allowing illegal immigrants to continue to invade the U.S. by breaching the border and using up taxpayer-funded resources was found to be many times more costly to Americans than a $5 billion wall.

“They could not be further from the truth,” Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft contended. “Actually, the illegal alien financial burden, per year, in the United States is $155 billion.”

The astronomical cost of absorbing the expenses of illegal aliens would be even larger if other factors were included.

“That number does not count externals such as: 1) American jobs lost; 2) commerce affected by remittances to Mexico; 3) Health crisis due to illegal drugs trafficked into our streets and; 4) American deaths due to the illegal drugs in America today,” Hoft stressed.

In the face of Pelosi’s and Schumer’s argument, it is impressed that spending a mere $5 billion on the border wall would reap dividends 20 times over.

“Building the wall – no matter who pays for it – IS Mexico paying for the wall, because we’d save nearly 100 billion dollars each year,” Hoft concluded.

The numbers presented by Hoft were taken from a Federation for American Immigration Reforms (FAIR) report published last year that highlighted the detrimental effects of illegal immigration.
Breaking it down, FAIR indicated that the $155 billion drain on taxpayers amounts to Americans shelling out $8,000 per illegal immigrant and dependent every year. (Read more.)

How the Wall will stop most tunneling, HERE. Share

A South African Skeleton

From Archaeology News Network:
The over 90% complete skeleton of an old female, much more than twice as complete as the famous Lucy, and considerably older as well, Little Foot is a member of the genus Australopithecus, a widespread and varied genus of hominins to which Lucy belonged, and which was an early precursor to modern-day Homo sapiens which appeared roughly 300,000 years ago. Little Foot is the first fossil of Australopithecus ever to have been discovered with its limbs intact. 
The studies support the argument of her discoverer, Professor Ronald Clarke of the University of the Witwatersrand, that there were two species of Australopithecus living at the same time in South Africa’s ‘Cradle of Humankind’, Australopithecus africanus, which was small, like Lucy, and probably primarily tree-dwelling, and Australopithecus prometheus, which was probably just within the range of modern human stature. (Read more.)

Friday, December 21, 2018

Compton Wynyates

From The Tudor Travel Guide:
We can thank Sir William Compton, Henry VIII’s childhood friend and long-time companion, for much of the house we see today. William’s father died when he was just eleven. As a young boy, his wardship was granted to King Henry VII, and the king placed him as a page to his infant, second son, Henry, who was then just two years old. William could not have foreseen how such a placement would have paved the way to glory, riches and great favour, for at the time, the little  prince was only second in line to the throne.

However, the wheels of fate turned; Prince Arthur, the Tudor heir, died at Ludlow Castle in 1502, and Prince Henry succeeded his father seven years later as King Henry VIII. Although Compton was nine years older than Henry, the two seem to have developed a close friendship, for after Henry’s succession, Compton was soon appointed Chief Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and Groom of the Stool, physically the king’s closest companion.

William also shared the king’s love of vigorous physical exercise, which no doubt bound them further in their bonhomie. On several occasions, there are accounts of the two of them  successfully challenging all-comers, ‘with spear at the tilt one day, and at tourney with the swords on another’. If the contemporary accounts of Elizabeth Amadas are to be believed, then it seems Sir William also played a key role in hosting clandestine trysts between the king and fair ladies of the court at his London home on Thames Street. So great was the king’s favour towards William that a year before his death, he was given the unusual permission to wear his hat in the king’s presence.

As a result of such favour, grants and money would soon follow, bolstering the Compton coffers. Amongst many other offices, he was made constable of both Sudeley and Warwick Castles. This meant he had use of the properties, and could make money from the estates, in return for keeping the buildings in good order for the king. Such appointments were lucrative – and much sought after. It was the making of William Compton, and as money flowed in, so Sir William (knighted on the steps of Tournai Cathedral after the glorious English victory there in 1513) turned his attention to his main country residence. (Read more.)


Women of the Right

From The Federalist:
The women of the Right are allowed to believe things that the women of the Left are not. They are allowed to believe there is a difference between women and men, female and male, and that those differences are real, not a false cultural construct imposed by a self-interested, manipulative patriarchy. Unlike Gloria Steinem, they can express their femininity in any way they choose to, without fear of being accused of a calumnization of the sisterhood.

Even more, women of the Right are allowed to accept obvious things rather than engage in exhausting psychic gymnastics to get to a place that is politically correct, while preposterous. If a thug murders a pregnant woman, he should be charged with two murders, not just one, and women of the Right feel no compulsion to weary themselves by filing amicus briefs on behalf of the murderer to nullify the second killing because the unborn baby does not qualify as human life.

Even further, they have no difficulty with the notion that the woman in question had every right to effectuate her own protection, if she chose, with whatever weapon she preferred to use, for the easily understood and non-controversial purpose of blowing the thug away before he could murder her and her baby. It’s not tiring to get to that conclusion; it’s tiring to get to the opposite one.

They are allowed to love their gay friends and want all good things for them, but still believe it’s a bad idea to start redefining marriage without being labeled a bigot by those same friends, and that, too, removes a burden. They are allowed to go through life treating people—all people—with dignity, respect, and friendship, and not be concerned about being called racist, even if they are called racist, because they know they are not. (Read more.)

The Seven Bloodiest Battles in Scottish History

From The Scotsman:
Despite boasting far greater numbers, King Alexander III’s Scots struggled to gain the upper hand over the Norwegian King Haakon IV’s 800 maritime marauders. King Haakon’s flotilla ended up at Largs as the result of poor weather encountered while negotiating the Ayrshire coast. Some reckon they were outnumbered by ten to one, but they managed to survive a Scottish onslaught and patch up their longships. It is not known how many perished in the battle, but scholars estimate that many hundreds would have been slain. One legend goes that the Norwegians revealed their location to the Scots by yelping in pain after stepping on a field of thistles, and this was the moment responsible for the thistle becoming a national emblem. The result of Largs is given as ‘inconclusive’. Had the Scots decisively lost the battle, history may have been very different - Scotland gained control of the Hebridean isles back from Norwegian hands just two years later. (Read more.)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas at Little Latches

From Victoria:
As frosty winter winds sweep across the British lowlands, residents from Birmingham to Bromsgrove wrap their scarves a little tighter as they dart in and out of local shops, carrying daunting to-do lists. But in the village of Little Aston in Sutton Coldfield, Sarah Wilton-Basi is happily putting the finishing touches on her holiday décor, warmed by a blazing fire and her enthusiasm for the task at hand. Sarah and her husband, Param, moved into their circa 1660 semi-detached cottage in 2009 after a six-month renovation restored many of the home’s original features. The structure, which formerly served as the local schoolhouse, was christened Little Latches because of the number of latched doors on the property. It is a particularly appropriate venue for Sarah, who taught theatre studies at a performing arts school in Liverpool for many years. Filled with Shakespearean-themed keepsakes, from volumes of plays and poetry to art prints, the shelves are also laden with antique books of classic literature—treasured heirlooms passed down from her great-grandparents. (Read more.)

The Imprisonment of Eddie Gallagher

U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher has been imprisoned for 13 weeks for a crime he and numerous others maintain he didn’t commit. Throughout his ordeal, Eddie’s wife Andrea has championed for his freedom. “These allegations are malicious and shameless, and I know that my husband did not do what is alleged,” Andrea recently told American Military News. “I will stand by him and I know he will be exonerated of these charges,” she added. 
The Navy alleges that Eddie fatally stabbed an ISIS prisoner in the neck and torso after other SEALs in his unit stabilized the fighter, who was critically injured from wounds sustained from an earlier gunfight with Iraqi forces. The incident reportedly took place on May 3, 2017. Other evidence, including witness testimony, argues that the fighter had succumbed to his wounds while still in the presence of the Iraqi Emergency Response Division (ERD) due to excessive blood loss from a severed artery.
Eddie’s attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, told Task & Purpose in October, “What we’ve learned in our independent investigation into these allegations is that a crime simply didn’t happen.” It’s been a month since Eddie’s preliminary Article 32 hearing to hear the evidence in the case and determine whether or not to proceed with a full trial. A full trial date still hasn’t been set. He’s remained in confinement for 13 weeks so far, with no end in sight. 
“Eddie is stuck in pre-trial confinement – treated like a criminal, and treated as guilty until proven innocent,” Andrea said. Eddie faces 14 charges, including other accusations unrelated to the ISIS fighter incident, all of which were reported by other SEALs in his unit. Andrea, along with Eddie’s brother Sean Gallagher, say the allegations have been fabricated in retaliation against Eddie. (Read more.)

Jane Austen in Pakistan

From 1843:
Founded by Laaleen Sukhera, a journalist, JASP is two years old. It has chapters in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and a Facebook page with over 1,000 followers. There is just the one dress-up party annually but they meet two or three times a year to discuss all things Austen. 
The members of JASP, while perhaps a tad more ardent, are not alone in their passion for Jane Austen. For the truth – universally acknowledged – is that Jane Austen is enduringly popular in Pakistan. Bookshops have whole shelves dedicated to her novels, critiques of her novels and novels inspired by her novels. Visit a DVD rental store and you will find film and tele­vision adaptations of her work. She is taught in schools and read at home. “Pride and Prejudice” has been translated into Urdu, and “Aisha”, the Bollywood adaptation of “Emma”, was watched by millions of Pakistanis. Plans are afoot to publish adaptations of all six novels with contemporary sub-continental settings. Meanwhile, “Austenistan”, a book of short stories written by members of JASP and edited by Laaleen Sukhera, has been acquired for publication. 
“Austen resonates with us because Regency England is so much like today’s Pakistan,” says Sukhera, 40, a mother of three girls. “I know her books are 200 years old and set in small English county towns and villages but, really, her themes, her characters, her situations, her plots, they could have been written for us now.” (Read more.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Women and Books in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

From The Medieval Manuscripts Blog:
Whenever I talk to members of the public who have visited the British Library's Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition, one of the most common reactions is, ‘I didn’t expect there to be so much about women!’ As Claire Breay recently discussed on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4, more evidence survives about early medieval women than many people realise. Our exhibition includes a prayerbook connected to the wife of Alfred the Great; chronicle accounts of the victories of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians; the oldest substantial woman’s will that survives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms; the first surviving political tract written for (and about) a woman in England; and one of the fabulously jewelled gospel-books of Judith of Flanders.

The majority of the population in Anglo-Saxon England — including the majority of women — probably couldn’t read or write. That said, women made up a sizeable proportion of the part of the population that was literate. In Anglo-Saxon times, literacy was highest among monks, nuns, priests and other clergy, who had committed to a religious life. Religious women, such as abbesses, were at the forefront of several literary developments. Additionally, we have evidence that some lay noblewomen owned books. (Read more.)

Swedish Citizens Rise Up

From News Punch:
“It’s not about political colours, it’s about the people, one of the speakers,” journalist Katerina Janouch stated. “I am here for the 9-year-old girl who was raped and beaten in a junk room. I am here for all the women who no longer dare go out.

“I am here for the poor elderly who paid tax their whole lives and now are forced to starve. I am here for the homeless. I am here for those who don’t get what the social contract promises.” According to Janouch, all Swedes, regardless of political affiliation, should participate in the demonstrations and protest against the politics in Sweden. (Read more.)

Mindfulness and Management

From Forbes:
Self-awareness. I've said it before at different times and in different places, and I'll say it again: Without a reasonable degree of self-awareness, you can't be a highly effective manager. Without some awareness of how you're coming across to others and how they perceive you, it's hard to thoughtfully exercise authority over the long term. Without an accurate idea of how your employees are responding to you, you'll always be (avid fly fisherman speaking here) a trout swimming upstream. Meaning against the current. 
Empathy. Studies have shown that empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another) is a critical driver of successful management -- and that only 40% of "frontline leaders" are "proficient or strong in empathy." This stat doesn't surprise me -- if anything, maybe sounds a little high. People are usually selected for management more for reasons of authority than empathy. Though as noted earlier, the ability to understand employees (what their issues are, what motivates them and what doesn't) is no doubt part of managerial success. 
Patience. Amid the chronic deadlines and stress of the working world, employees appreciate working for managers who are patient, as opposed to say, those who are short-tempered. Why wouldn't they? This I can say with confidence: A management coaching style that patiently supports an employee when he or she needs help will 9 times out of 10 (at least) be better received than a traditional command-and-control style focused more on authority than assistance. 
None of this should be hugely surprising. (Read more.)