Monday, September 30, 2019

Maria Carolina of Lorraine-Austria, Queen of Naples

Marie-Antoinette's favorite sister, mother of eighteen children. She is wearing a maternity dress in the picture above.

Maria Carolina was the last of Empress Maria Theresa's sixteen children to die.


Catastrophic Thinking Without Solutions

From Ben Shapiro at Townhall:
In July, Adam Grant, organizational psychologist at Wharton Business School, tweeted: "Agendas aren't driven by problems. They're driven by solutions. Calling out what's wrong without proposing ways to make it right is complaining." 
This week, complaining was the order of the day. 
The complaining was largely done by enthusiastic minors, to the raucous applause of Democratic politicians and the media. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist from Sweden, appeared before a UN climate summit to chide the adults in catastrophic terms usually reserved for bad B-disaster flicks: "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. ... We are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?" One student intoned at a weekend rally, "All of our futures are in jeopardy." Another student said, "We will be the last generation to survive." 
This, of course, is nonsense. We will not be the last generation to survive. The world will keep on spinning. The damage from climate change is uncertain -- it may be moderate, and it may be graver. But to suggest, as ralliers did, that the world will end without ACTION! (no specific action recommended) is factually untrue. (Read more.)

The Story of Father Ivan Kypriyan

In 1920, Father Ivan was arrested by the communist regime and exiled to Siberia. Unfortunately, there is no record of Father Ivan’s exact place of interment. The UGCC Historical Mission addressed an official request for information on Father Ivan Kypriyan to the Russian FSB, but has received no reply to date. 
In the gulag, the Ukrainian priest suffered hunger, illness, bullying and torture at the hands of the Bolsheviks. In his historical study Field Chaplains of the Ukrainian Galician Army: In Commemoration of the 45th Anniversary of the Liberation Movement, Winnipeg 1963 (Полеві духовники УГА: у 45-річчя участи у Визвольних змаганнях), Father Ivan Lebedovych writes:
“He was a saintly man, even though he was dirty, dressed in rags, and known commonly as “No.8986 from Barrack No.A-322”… His story is closely linked to the concentration camps in distant Siberia, where hunger, torture and daily beating set the tempo of everyday life, darken each dawn of the frosty Siberian sky, where evenings bring no rest to weary bodies, no peace to men’s hearts, nor even a glimmer of hope for a better tomorrow… in this dark hole of total misery and enslavement.”
The Bolshevik Gulag system spared no one. One day, a group of very young children was brought into Barrack No.A-332, where Father Ivan was also incarcerated. They were the children of “enemies of the people”, whose parents had been summarily executed by the soviet regime. As these unfortunate children received little food, few of them could survive the harsh Siberian winters. Dressed in filthy rags, these children were no longer children, but ghosts of themselves; many of them died silently from starvation and disease. (Read more.)


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Louis XVI on the French Constitution

From Vive la Reine:
I feel all the difficulties of governing so great a nation. I might say I feel its impossibility, but any obstacle I had placed in the way would have caused the war I was anxious to avoid, and would have prevented the people from judging of the Constitution, because they would have seen nothing but my constant opposition. By adopting their ideas and following them in all good faith they will learn the cause of their troubles; public opinion will change; and since without this change one can hope for nothing but fresh convulsions, I shall bring about a better order of things by my acceptance than by my refusal … I wished to let you know the motives for my acceptance, so that your conduct should be in accord with mine.
–excerpt from a letter written by Louis XVI to his brothers, 2 days after he accepted the French Constitution of 1791. [translation by Nesta Webster.]

How Catholics Must Survive

From Life Site:
Fr. Clovis pointed out that in the last 40 years, the “world and the Church” have “changed so completely as to be unrecognisable: the family, that fundamental cell of society and of the Church has, at least in the Western world, been destroyed.” 
“The family is destroyed and, with the contemporary rejection of the natural order, Satan’s victory seems complete,” he noted. The priest, however, that marriage itself cannot be destroyed, no matter how man may try to redefine it out of existence.

“Since God Himself is the author of marriage, it is not and can never be a mere human institution despite the many variations found throughout the centuries in different cultures, in social structures and in spiritual attitudes. It is rather a divine institution that, far from being contingent on the subjective and inconsistent whims of men, does participate, in some measure, in the immutability of God Himself, with respect to its nature, its ends and its laws.” 
Fr. Clovis urged Catholics to give particular importance to prayer, especially to devotion to Our Lady and never to lose hope. Drawing on the writings of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, he pointed out that the Church has experienced moments of great crisis before in her history but that “Christ was with his Church then and he is with her now. Our times and the future are in the hands of God.” (Read more.)

The Resurrection of Constantia

From Wine Mag:
This week Klein Constantia celebrated three decades of Vin de Constance with the launch of its 2016 vintage – and a taste of its maiden 1986.

First a disclaimer: it was the team at Klein Constantia who helped rekindle my interest in history a few years ago when they asked me to research the history of Constantia. It turned out (and continues) to be so much more interesting than I’d expected…
A few standout moments for me:
  • Discovering that the man who put Constantia on the international map in the 1720s, Johannes Colijn, was the son of a black woman, Maria Everts. His grandparents were the slaves Evert and Anna van Guinea, and their descendants owned and produced wine at Hoop op Constantia, the ‘original’ Klein Constantia, right up until the late 1850s.
  • Finding proof that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had more ‘vin du Cap de Constance’ than Burgundy in their cellar at Versailles in the early 1780s.
  • Hunting in vain for evidence that American founding father Thomas Jefferson was a fan of Constantia, only to discover with delight that his presidential predecessors, George Washington and John Adams, both drank it in the late 1770s.
There’s so very much more, but most of it had been forgotten over the course of the 20th century. After decades of KWV monopoly in an industry geared towards quantity rather than quality, with economic sanctions imposed and no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s truly remarkable that the ‘sweet, luscious and excellent wine of Constantia’ which had disappeared a century previously (years before the arrival of phylloxera, by the way) was resurrected at all in the mid-1980s.

Here’s how it happened…

Having bought Klein Constantia in a fairly rundown and overgrown state in 1980, Duggie Jooste was ahead of the curve in terms of clearing alien bush and planting virus-free material. Advised by SA’s top viticulturist, Ernst le Roux of Nederburg (who soon put himself forward for the position of general manager at Klein Constantia), he planted Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling on the cooler, south-facing slopes high up on the Vlakkenberg, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz on the warmer north-facing slopes lower down.

A sweet wine was not on the agenda (not even for Jooste whose family had produced one of SA’s best-loved ‘sherries, Sedgwick’s Original Old Brown, for four generations). But one evening Chris Orffer, Professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, came for dinner. Orffer suddenly said: ‘Do you realise that in the 18th and 19th centuries only one truly great wine was ever made in the Southern Hemisphere, and do you know where it was made? Right here in this valley, and this farm of yours was part of those vineyards.’

‘Without Orffer, I don’t think Vin de Constance would have happened,’ says Lowell Jooste, Duggie’s son, now living in La Jolla, California, where he runs LJ Crafted Wines. ‘Orffer was the visionary.’ The Joostes realised they had ‘an awesome opportunity to develop Klein Constantia as a great estate, fulfilling its winegrowing destiny’. Pouring over old ledgers, letters and diaries, as well as research by academics including AI Perold (1936) and Diko van Zyl (1974), they decided that the original (white) Constantia had been a natural sweet made from mostly Muscat de Frontignan. (Read more.)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Chateau du Grand-Luce

From Forbes:
Originally, this 45,000 square foot mansion belonged to Baron Jacques Pineau de Viennay, a good friend of King Louis XV and his administrator of France’s eastern region, who spent four years constructing it starting in 1760 in then- cutting edge neoclassical style after doing a teardown of the medieval chateau on site. (Medieval walls on the 80 acre property are, however, still standing.) It’s regarded as one of the best examples of that architectural style in France and one of the rare bastions of aristocracy that survived the French Revolution intact. That was the result of the villagers’ fondness for the Baron’s daughter who harbored them in the estate’s outer buildings after a fire destroyed the village in 1781. (Read more.)

Putting Children First

If you’re not following Dr. Jennifer Morse on family issues and sexual morals, you’re missing out. I meet her every year at the wonderful gathering Acton University. It collects defenders of ordered liberty, virtue and economic empowerment from all across the world. This year she gave a terrific talk on her book The Sexual State. It’s an important read, because it highlights how the sexual revolution resembles the French and the Russian Revolutions. Each one saw utopian movements championed by intellectuals grab vast, unaccountable power, then set up a state to impose their ideas by force on anyone who resisted. 
That’s right, the Sexual Revolutionaries were every bit as interested in grabbing coercive state power as the Jacobins or the Bolsheviks were. Simone de Beauvoir famously said:
No woman should be authorized to stay home to raise her children. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.
She was a libertine, but no libertarian — in fact she obediently echoed the Stalinist politics of her mentor and master, Jean Paul Sartre. For whom she served as a pimp, recruiting younger women for her former lover. (Read more.)


Holy Shrewdness

From Fr. Paul Scalia:
Many Catholics misunderstand our Lord’s parables. We fall into a saccharine piety, thinking of them as fables, nice down-to-earth stories that teach religious lessons. This, by the way, accounts for a great deal of bad preaching. Suffering this superficial view of the parables, many priests think they can imitate the Master. Thus the banal personal stories or movie and cultural references that supposedly illustrate divine truths but in fact only empty them of significance. In fact, Jesus’ parables always have more depth than a first – or second or third – reading reveals. Far from being merely homespun wisdom, they often contain a twist or a shock to upend conventional thinking.

Particularly in Saint Luke’s Gospel our Lord gives us some puzzling parables. Thus far in the Sunday reading of Luke, we have heard about a hated foreigner who was better than Israel’s finest (Lk 10), cynical social advice on how to get ahead (Lk 14), and a shepherd with poor accounting skills (Lk 15). We will later hear about the unjust judge and the pious publican (Lk 18). The incongruity of these stories is meant stun us, precisely so that we will pay better attention to our Lord’s teaching. Which brings us to today’s parable, quaintly known as that of the “Unjust Steward.” (Lk 16:1-13) Reported for cheating his master, this steward makes provision for his eventual dismissal by further defrauding him. Then the master commends him! This is absurd, of course, and we should not nod in pious agreement with the master’s praise. The story is meant to shock, not edify. And it does so that we will sit up and appreciate a truth that contradicts worldly wisdom. Namely, the practicality of faith.

Now, conventional thinking has it that faith is impractical. It focuses on heavenly things, so worldly realities (time, money, etc.) must not be of any concern. Since the faithful look to heaven, they must have their heads in the clouds. It is just this error that our Lord targets in His summary of the parable (which also serves as a rebuke): “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” Put differently, The faithful should be as practical in striving for heavenly glory as the unfaithful are for worldly comfort.

The steward is a scoundrel, plain and simple. But he at least serves as a good example of practicality. Our Lord uses the word prudent to describe him. He does not mean the virtue of that name but a worldly prudence or shrewdness. Conversely, our prudence in seeking the things that are above might be termed a holy shrewdness. The unjust but shrewd steward knows three things that can help us be more practical: he will be judged, he will need housing, and he will need the means to secure it. (Read more.)

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Original Scary Fairy Tales

They were not for children. From National Geographic:
Folktales are as old as human civilization itself. A synthesis of the spoken and the scripted, a fusion of different accounts of the same story. The story of Cinderella, for example, appeared in ancient China and in ancient Egypt. Details in the telling change depending on the storyteller’s cultural origins. In Egypt, her slippers are red leather, while in the West Indies, breadfruit, not a pumpkin, is the transformative object. The story of Cinderella that appears in Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s collection of German folktales, first published in 1812, might shock those familiar with today’s version of a scullery maid turned princess.

In the brothers Grimm telling, the heroine is called Aschenputtel, and her wishes come true not from the wave of a fairy godmother’s wand but from a hazel tree growing on her mother’s grave, which she waters with her flowing tears. When the prince comes to find the dainty foot that will match the single slipper (which is gold, not glass), the stepsisters do not shove and shriek but dismember, one cutting off her big toe to try and make the shoe fit, the other cutting off part of her heel. And at the story’s close, Cinderella’s wedding to the prince includes two white birds, which rather than cheerfully tweet Cinderella on her way to happily ever after, peck out the stepsisters’ eyes. (See also: Germany's fairy tale road.) (Read more.)

Stop Scaring the Children

I am furious at how so many children are hysterical with fear because they think the world is going to end in ten years. From The Guardian:
Scott Morrison has responded to an impassioned speech by the Swedish teenage climate activistGreta Thunberg at the United Nations by declaring the climate change debate is subjecting Australian children to “needless anxiety”. The Australian prime minister, who will address environmental themes in his address to the UN general assembly on Wednesday, including ocean management, plastics, waste management and illegal fishing, was asked for his response to Thunberg’s excoriation of world leaders at this week’s climate action summit, when she accused the political class of failing the younger generations. 
Morrison told reporters he acknowledged “how deeply people feel about this issue” but said the public debate was replete with disinformation about Australia’s climate change policies. “It often comes as news to people when I share with them Australia has the highest per capita investment in renewable energy of any country in the world,” 
Morrison said – in the process neglecting to mention that his predecessor Tony Abbott had tried to wind back the renewable energy target, which triggered an investment strike. Morrison said he would use his looming address to the UN – his final public commitment before leaving New York for Australia on Wednesday – to address the lack of awareness about “the action Australia has been taking”. 
“I do understand that people feel strongly about this, but I think we also have to take stock, we have to ensure we get a proper context and perspective,” Morrison said. “I want children growing up in Australia to feel positive about their future, and I think it is important we give them that confidence that they will not only have a wonderful country and pristine environment to live in, that they will also have an economy to live in as well. (Read more.)

From Dennis Prager at Townhall:
The entire American left -- the mainstream media, the environmentalist movement and Democratic politicians in particular -- are celebrating the involvement of teenagers and even younger children in protesting the world's "inaction" with regard to global warming. And not just the American left, of course. The left throughout the world is celebrating. A 16-year-old Swedish girl whose contempt for adults is breathtaking is an international hero. Congressional Democrats invited her to testify in Congress, and the United Nations has likewise invited her. 
The mayor and city council of New York City further politicized their city's public schools by allowing students to skip school to actively participate in a global warming protest. 
The message of young climate change activists is: "You adults aren't doing your job. As a result, we have no future." As a sympathetic reporter -- are there any non-sympathetic reporters? -- for the Los Angeles Times put it, "(T)eens are still waiting for a sign that their elders get it." 
The Times' coverage is typical. It reported: "Underneath the activism lies a simple truth: Young people are incredibly scared about climate change. They see it as a profound injustice and an existential threat to their generation and those that will follow. ... 
"'They do worry, and they worry kind of a lot,' said Maria Ojala, an environmental psychologist at Orebro University in Sweden. ... 
"Arielle Martinez Cohen" -- an 18-year-old Los Angeles activist with the youth climate group Zero Hour -- "remembers reading a report from an Australian think tank that warned the human species could face extinction by 2050 if society doesn't get its act together. 
"'I almost imagine, like, an apocalypse-type thing happening,' Arielle said. "Many young people say they can't fathom bringing kids of their own into the world. ... 
"'It's not ethical. It's literally a burning house,' Lana said. (Read more.

From David Harsanyi at The Federalist:
Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg lives in the healthiest, wealthiest, safest, and most peaceful era humans have ever known. She is one of the luckiest people ever to have lived. In a just world, Thunberg would be at the United Nations thanking capitalist countries for bequeathing her this remarkable inheritance. Instead, she, like millions of other indoctrinated kids her age, act as if they live in a uniquely broken world on the precipice of disaster. This is a tragedy.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg lectured the world. And maybe she’s right. We’ve failed her by raising a generation of pagans who’ve filled the vacuum left by the absence of faith, not with rationality, but with a cultish worship of Mother Earth and the state. Although, to be fair, the Bible-thumping evangelical’s moral certitude is nothing but a rickety edifice compared to the moral conviction of a Greta Thunberg. 
It’s not, of course, her fault. Adults have spent a year creating a 16-year-old because her soundbites comport with their belief system. It was “something about her raw honesty around a message of blunt-force fear [that] turned this girl from invisible to global,” says CNN in a news report about a child with a narrow, age-appropriate, grasp of the world. 
It should be noted that “blunt-force fear” is indeed the correct way to describe the concerted misinformation that Thunberg has likely been subjected to since nursery school. There probably isn’t a public school in America that hasn’t plied the panic-stricken talk of environmental disaster in their auditoriums over and over again. New York City and other school systems offer millions of kids an excused absence so they could participate in political climate marches this week, as if it were a religious or patriotic holiday. 
We’ve finally convinced a generation of Americans to be Malthusians. According to Scott Rasmussen’s polling, nearly 30 percent of voters now claim to believe that it’s “at least somewhat likely” that the earth will become uninhabitable and humanity will be wiped out over the next 10-15 years. Half of voters under 35 believe it is likely we are on the edge of extinction. Is there any wonder why our youngest generation has a foreboding sense of doom. (Read more.) 

How America Embraced Newman

From Dr. Joseph Pearce:
The recent news that the Bishop of Northampton has declined to move forward with the cause for the canonisation of GK Chesterton was not well received in the United States. At this year’s annual conference of the American Chesterton Society in Kansas City, the news was met with disappointment by the 500 Chestertonians in attendance. The consensus was that it would take nothing less than a miracle to overcome the hierarchical indifference and inertia with respect to Chesterton’s Cause.

Thankfully, Americans believe in miracles and are not averse to praying for them. It was, after all, the two confirmed miracles in answer to the prayers of Americans that paved the way for John Henry Newman’s beatification and imminent canonisation. First, in 2001, there were the prayers of Deacon Jack Sullivan, from Massachusetts, beseeching Newman’s intercession, which led to the miraculous healing of Deacon Sullivan’s spinal injuries. Then, in 2013, there was the inexplicable healing in Chicago of Melissa Villalobos, which saved her life and that of her unborn child. It is no mere coincidence that the prayers of Americans have played such a crucial role in Newman’s Cause and in his being raised to the altar. Devotion to Newman is widespread in the United States. His influence on converts is well documented, especially in the testimonies given on The Journey Home, a weekly EWTN programme in which those who have come home to Rome tell their stories.

Thomas Howard, one of the most prominent converts in recent years, paid tribute to Newman’s influence on his own conversion in the title of his book Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome, which alludes to Newman’s famous hymn. Another prominent recent convert, Holly Ordway, cites Newman’s Grammar of Assent as being an important marker on her own conversion from atheism. It is, however, in the field of education that Newman’s influence is felt most palpably. At colleges and universities across the length and breadth of the country, Newman Centers provide a hub for Catholic student activity on secular campuses.

The first such centre in the United States was established in 1893, only three years after Newman’s death, at the University of Pennsylvania. Today, there are more than 2,000 such centres, all of which are inspired by Newman’s own wish that Catholic students at secular colleges and universities should form societies on campus to serve their spiritual and social needs and to offer witness. (Pictured: a statue of Newman at the campus of Newman University in Wichita, Kansas.)

Newman’s seminal work on education, The Idea of a University, has proved inspirational in the design of the curriculums of many of the new wave of Catholic colleges and universities that have sprung up across the US in the past 40 or so years. The best of these are listed in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, which is published by the Cardinal Newman Society, one of the most dynamic and effective organisations on the Catholic scene today. Founded in 1993, its mission is to promote and defend faithful Catholic education in the face of what it calls the “creeping secularism in Catholic education that has often corrupted teachings and behaviours – both inside and outside the classroom – and replaced authentic Catholic identity with bland conformity to a declining culture”.

It is of little surprise that the progress of Newman’s Cause has increased interest in his own words and works. To offer but two examples of this renewal of interest, the Augustine Institute has published Waiting for Christ: Meditations for Advent and Christmas, the success of which has prompted a follow-up volume, The Tears of Christ: Meditations for Lent, both of which consist of extracts from Newman’s sermons, selected and edited by Christopher Blum, dean of the Augustine Institute’s graduate programme in theology. (Read more.)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

On a September Day

From A Clerk of Oxford:
On or around 18 September in the autumn of 1066, the king of Norway, Harald Hardrada, arrived on the coast of Yorkshire with a large army. In his company was Tostig, the brother of Harold Godwineson, king of England, who had joined forces with the Norwegians against his brother. Harold Godwineson himself was occupied elsewhere, on the south coast, having spent the summer awaiting a Norman invasion which had not - yet - come. Soon after their arrival the Norwegian forces won a battle at Fulford, near York, but were defeated a few days later by the English king at Stamford Bridge. In this battle, Harald Hardrada was killed. Accounts of the Norwegian invasion of 1066 in medieval English sources tend to be fairly brief, since it came to be overshadowed by the Battle of Hastings a few weeks later; but in Scandinavian history Harald Hardrada was a major figure, and so many Old Norse sources tell detailed and powerful narratives about the last days of his life. Written centuries after the events they describe, they are not really intended to be reliable sources for what actually happened in 1066; instead, they show us how later Norse writers thought about this period of history, which was (among other things) a turning-point in England's relationship with the Scandinavian world. (Read more.)

Trump, Biden and Ukraine

From the Washington Free Beacon:
Joe Biden's family ties to an influence peddling scheme at a Ukrainian gas company could hurt the former vice president's 2020 campaign, political scientist Ian Bremmer told CNN on Tuesday. "[Joe] Biden does have a problem here. I have to say $50,000 a month for Hunter Biden—clearly to be selling influence because otherwise, no one would ever pay him that kind of money—for a company that, frankly, was pretty corrupt and has been before and has been since under investigation," Bremmer said. 
Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group and Time magazine editor at large. He told CNN's New Day Hunter Biden was named to the board of Burisma, Ukraine's largest private gas company, for his ability to sell influence during the Obama administration. Hunter Biden is the son of 2020 Democratic primary frontrunner Joe Biden. Bremmer said the former vice president was likely aware of his son's ties to the company and its ongoing corruption woes.

"It's hard to imagine Joe Biden wasn't aware of it," Bremmer said. "I expect that President Obama, if he had known about the reality of the situation, would've probably told Biden ‘get rid of this, we shouldn't have your son working in this situation.' That would have cost him something. I fear even if maybe Biden wasn't aware but Biden should've been aware that that would cause an issue for him." (Read more.)

From The Daily Wire:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has proven to be a voice of reason in the face of a national hysteria based over the White House’s newly unclassified phone call transcript. Shortly after President Trump released the transcript of his July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that gave no indication of a quid pro quo wherein Ukraine would investigate former Vice President Joe Biden using his influence to have a prosecutor fired for investigating his son’s business dealings, Graham flatly dared the Democrats to impeach Trump. 
“Those who believe that the transcript is a ‘Smoking Gun’ for impeachment, do something about it — have the courage of your convictions,” the South Carolina Republican tweeted. “The House of Reps should take a vote to formally open an impeachment inquiry. Let the American people see where Members of Congress stand!” Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Graham also said that it would be “insane” for the U.S. government to impeach Trump based on the phone call with Zelensky. “From my point of view, to impeach any president over a phone call like this would be insane,” said Graham. (Read more.)

From Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist:
Trump released the transcript of the phone call, which showed that the media and other Resistance figures’ early reports of the call mischaracterized it. Last week, it might be noted, Democrats were demanding the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh due to a false report in the New York Times of dubious provenance to begin with. 
What Tapper highlighted is worth highlighting, though. While during the Russia hoax, nearly all prominent Republicans expressed concern about collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election, rushed to microphones to condemn the president for what turned out to be a false smear of sedition, and went out of their way to protect the relentless investigation of him based on lies secretly funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, this time, it’s mostly just Mitt Romney. 
The standard of evidence required from Resistance figures in and out of the media to perpetrate yet another Russiagate is so high that it might be impossible to meet. But at the very least, it’s higher than what’s offered now. Yes, Democrats have wanted to impeach Donald Trump for the crime of winning the 2016 election, and they very well might do that no matter what they pretend the underlying reason is. But Republican politicians, Romney and those like him excepted, are either smart enough not to fall for this particular Resistance effort, or they’re simply savvy enough to realize there is no appetite for Republican politicians to assist Democrats in undermining a duly elected Republican president based on questionable hearsay, a complicated narrative that doesn’t even add up, and a desperate desire to undo 2016. (Read more.

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The Enigmatic Denisovans

From Gizmodo:
A pinky finger bone, some teeth, and a lower jaw. That’s all the physical evidence we have of the mysterious Denisovans, an extinct group of hominins closely related to the Neanderthals. Remarkable new research offers a physical reconstruction of the Denisovans based on genetic evidence, providing our first potential glimpse of this ancient human species.

paper published today in Cell has accomplished the seemingly impossible: a reconstruction of Denisovan anatomy using genetic information. The new work, co-authored by archaeogeneticists Liran Carmel and David Gokhman from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, suggests the Denisovans possessed several distinguishing physical characteristics that set them apart from both Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans, including a broad, projecting face, an exceptionally weak chin, and wide hips.

“The paper by Gokhman and colleagues is a pioneering piece of research, which at first glance seems almost like science fiction,” Chris Stringer, a physical anthropologist from the Natural History Museum in London who wasn’t involved with the new research, wrote in an email to Gizmodo. “This is exciting work, pushing the boundaries of what can be gleaned from ancient genomes.”
Science fiction is right. Very little is known about Denisovan anatomy owing to the paltry amount of available physical evidence. (Read more.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Tolkien Estate and 'The Silmarillion'

From Screen Rant:
The Silmarillion, however, was never part of this deal and has remained under the control of Tolkien's posthumous estate, run by Christopher Tolkien. Notoriously protective of his father's material, Christopher has constantly championed the original books over all else and was distinctly unimpressed with Jackson's movies, believing them to be too action-orientated and pandering to a mainstream audience by masquerading as typical blockbusters. As such, it's hardly surprising that he has staunchly refused to sell the rights to The Silmarillion and has blocked any advances for a movie adaptation. (Read more.)

In Defense of Religious Liberty

Christians are persecuted more than any other religion. From the WSJ:
 President Trump....kicked off the U.N. General Assembly’s annual session with a “Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom.” Flanked by Secretary-General António Guterres and Vice President Mike Pence, the president declared: “No right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, flourishing society than religious freedom, yet it is rare around the world. As we speak, many people of faith are being jailed, murdered, often at the hands of their own government.” More than 80% of the world’s population lived in nations that restrict religious freedom as of 2009, and the situation hasn’t improved, according to Pew Research.

Mr. Trump is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders, including Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Administration officials say he will speak to them about violations of the human rights of religious minorities, including Christians. Topics will likely include Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and Egypt’s Islamic extremist groups.

Mr. Trump’s call to action was the culmination of a series of advances on international religious freedom over the past two years. U.S. officials at the U.N. have repeatedly issued statements indicating that religious freedom is America’s top human-rights priority. In July the State Department hosted its second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington. Officials from more than 100 countries and more than 1,000 civil-society leaders gathered to discuss the subject. Mr. Trump played a pivotal role in several religious-freedom victories, including the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy, and the freeing of Pastor Andrew Brunson after two years in Turkish captivity. Mr. Brunson attended Monday’s event.

At the U.N., Mr. Trump announced that the U.S. is committing $25 million to religious-freedom efforts and launching a coalition of businesses for religious freedom. A few weeks ago the administration launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance, the first international body devoted to advancing religious freedom. The alliance is intended to “build on efforts to date and bring like-minded countries together to confront challenges of international religious freedom,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in his keynote address at the July ministerial.

After the U.S. pulled out from the U.N. Human Rights Council last year, some wondered if the U.S. would withdraw from the U.N. altogether. Mr. Trump has now made clear that he intends to engage the U.N. system where it has potential to make a positive impact on those suffering human-rights abuses, particularly abuses of the right to freedom of religion. As the president said, it’s an issue of “urgent moral duty” for all nations. (Read more.)

Meanwhile, Trump's enemies are calling for his execution. From The Federalist:
Weld affirmed his stance and falsely said again that “the only penalty for treason is death,” adding that he believes Trump needs to be “carted off to save us all.”

“He’s daring us all to let him be totally lawless,” Weld said. “He has no respect for the law, he doesn’t understand the law. He has no knowledge base under any issues. Why do we want this man as president of the United States? I don’t get it, and now the path is clear.”

Weld’s claim that treason is only punishable by death is untrue. According to 18 U.S. Code § 2381, treason is punishable by either death or imprisonment of at least five years. The president has been under heightened scrutiny for a phone call with the Ukrainian president where Trump reportedly asked the foreign leader to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter over business dealings with a Ukrainian gas company, according to an uncorroborated claim based on hearsay.

Weld is one of three candidates challenging Trump in the 2020 Republican primary. Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and former one-term Illinois congressman Joe Walsh have both also launched campaigns seeking the GOP nomination next fall. (Read more.)

Finding Aoife

The sister of St. Lawrence O'Toole. From author Elizabeth Chadwick:
When I decided I was going to write the story of Richard de Clare and Aoife MachMurchada, I had no idea of the digging I would have to do to find out anything about the historical Aoife (pronounced Ee-fa)  and what a mystery she was, not to mention the false trails that exist in the mainstream, including in this case Wikipedia, where the entry for Aoife is unreliable with several wrong details. It is very difficult finding accurate source material.

I had written about Aoife before as an older lady and William Marshal’s mother in law in my novel The Scarlet Lion.  During that research, I had discovered that no one was exactly sure of her death date.  She supposedly disappears from the record in the mid 1180’s but the evidence is not precise and she may actually have lived much longer.  No exact birth date is forthcoming for Aoife either, although 1152 is a reasonable circa date and the one I used for the novel.  She was one of two known children born to Diarmait MachMurchada, King of Leinster and his third wife Mór Ní Thuathail. He had other sons and daughters born of earlier relationships but it would appear that Mór was the ‘officially recognised’ wife.  The second known child was a son, Conchobar (pronounced Connor). Mór’s half brother, Lorcan, was a priest and rose to become Archbishop of Dublin.  Forty five years later he was canonised and his heart tomb can still be visited in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin.
Aoife would have been in her early teens when her father ran into a spot of more than usual bother with his enemies and rivals and had to flee the country, burning his palace of Ferns behind him as he ran.  He took his family with him into exile, his first port of call being Bristol and the merchant, fixer, and nobleman Robert FitzHarding. (Read more.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The New Robert Bruce Film

From The Billings Gazette:
“Robert The Bruce” is not a sequel to "Braveheart." In interviews Macfadyen has described the different tone the new movie has from “Braveheart.” There is violence in “Robert the Bruce,” but Macfadyen told BBC News the movie “does not glorify war.” He went on to say, “The film I wanted to tell was about the consequences of violence and what it does to entire clans and families. It tears them apart. This movie is about the Scots versus Scots. There is not an Englishman in sight.” Director and producer Richard Gray said that “Robert the Bruce in the film is struggling to understand war and the need for war when he’s looking at how many soldiers have been lost.”
Bruce is on the run in the movie, hiding with a widow and her orphaned children. Their father died fighting in Bruce’s war, Gray said. About 80% of the movie was shot around Livingston and the Paradise Valley during the winter of 2017, Gray said. The rest of the movie was shot in Scotland. Gray said before he began “Robert the Bruce” he had been working on making a Western. Anna Hutchison knew Macfadyen and knew that Gray was a huge “Braveheart” fan, so she told him he should read the script, the director said. He got his hands on it in the summer of 2017.
“I read the script and I just fell in love with it,” Gray said. “We had to go quickly because the film had to be in winter, and that’s what forced our hand. We knew that we had to film in November 2017 or we’d have to wait another year.” Gray is originally from Australia but now resides with his wife and children in Livingston. The executive producer on the movie, Carter Boehm, is also from Livingston. “It was the hardest shoot I’ve ever been involved in,” Gray said of filming “Robert the Bruce.” (Read more.)

Children Love Plainchant

From The Catholic Herald:
Our experience has proven that children can learn chant, even difficult chant, and they can do so beautifully. They don’t need watered-down kiddie music. They don’t need hand motions and clapping. They don’t need gimmicks. They will rise to a challenge. They will sing the Missa Cum Jubilo, in Latin, from a choir loft, in a way that gives glory to God and helps the congregation to pray better.

After a usual Sunday Mass, one of the complaints I hear from adult parishioners is that they have never learned Latin or how to chant. Because of this, they are uncomfortable joining in the singing. Those who are willing to learn can catch on fairly quickly, but I also understand that for some of us chant is always going to feel somewhat foreign, to an ear that has been formed for decades by a certain style of metrical hymnody and modern folk-influenced music at Mass. This means that one of the best ways (maybe the only way) to truly restore a vibrant cultural tradition of chant is to work with the children and help form their musical experience from a young age.

Some doubt the value of spending time teaching the children to chant. This is a sentiment with which Second Vatican Council disagrees, maintaining in Sacrosanctum Concilium that chant “should be given pride of place in liturgical services”. Redemptionis Sacramentum, an instruction issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, adds: “It is the right of the community of Christ’s faithful that especially in the Sunday celebration there should customarily be true and suitable sacred music…” In other words, if I do not help my parishioners to learn sacred chant, I am failing them as their pastor.
Pope St Pius X explains in his encyclical Inter Sollicitudines that chant is the pinnacle of sacred music because it is holy, of high artistic merit and universal. For this reason, he writes, “Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian chant by the people.”

The beauty of sacred chant is as important as truth when it comes to revealing the gospel and evangelising our culture. For instance, St Augustine learned the truth of the Catholic faith through sacred chant. He writes in his Confessions, “The voices flowed into mine ears, and the truth was poured forth into my heart.” He further explains, “I am moved, not with the singing, but with the things sung.” (Read more.)

Globalism and the Tower of Babel

From The Stream:
Soviet Communism collapsed in summer 1991. So did its domestic empire. Several former Soviet Socialist Republics proclaimed their sovereignty. Many of the former autonomous republics restructured themselves into smaller nation-states based on geography and ethnicity. Likewise, the former Yugoslavia broke into seven different countries. Czechoslovakia split in two. The United States elected Donald Trump, showing that such sentiments lived here too. Trump rejected or criticized some of the international postwar institutions. He cited the advice of President George Washington’s Farewell Address. It suggested that America be wary of entangling themselves in foreign alliances.

President Trump forcefully stated his case at the United Nations. He promised that “the U.S. will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control and domination.” In an early foreign policy address, he was clear that the USA “will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism.” In doing so, he sought to strengthen “America’s greatness” and its sovereignty. In the process, he could better protect his political base of blue collar workers. Furthermore, President Trump pulled the USA out of several treaties that he believed might undermine U.S. authority. These included the Paris Climate Agreement and the International Arms Treaty. (Read more.)

Monday, September 23, 2019

Taste and Elegance at the White House

 From BPR:
America’s popular first lady is bringing her impeccable style and elegance to the White House. President Trump and wife Melania are getting ready to host their second state dinner at the White House and will be able to show off some needed improvements and restorations. In keeping with the museum-like quality of the rooms that are accessible to the public, the first lady has had everything from wall fabric to furniture repaired or replaced, Time magazine reported.

“Those rooms should always look their very best and it was just very faded and really, really needed to be done,” Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association told Time. The White House Historical Committee works closely with the Association and typically receives $1 – 1.5 million for restoration projects every year. Mrs. Trump has been working with a team of curators, the Historical Association and Historical Committee, as well as White House staff to determine what restoration projects need priority. “The White House does get a lot of wear and tear,” McLaurin said.

The people’s house sees approximately half a million visitors each year, excluding dignitaries and special guests of the President and first lady. In a thrifty move, Mrs. Trump refreshed the Green Room’s draperies by flipping the material from the backside to the front, Time reported. The fringe on the curtains was the only thing that needed to be added, saving time and money.

Sunlight had reportedly stripped the Red Room of some of its color, fading the wall fabric until it had become “so faded it was almost pink.” She’s also added her own personal touches where appropriate while respecting the history of the famous rooms. A new rug was designed by the first lady for the Diplomatic Reception Room after a path was worn by foot traffic, McLaurin said. The border of the new rug showcases flowers of the 50 states, and is a touch that is all Melania, according to Time. (Read more.)

The Holocaust and the Destruction of Femininity

Read and weep. From History Today:
After deportation to camps and ghettos, due to malnutrition and shock, a significant number of female Holocaust victims of reproductive age stopped menstruating. Many were afraid that they would be left infertile after their bodies were forced to their limits, making the intrinsic link between periods and fertility apparent and increasingly central to their lives. Gerda Weissman, originally from Bielsko in Poland and 15 years old during her incarceration, later reflected that a key reason she wanted to survive was because she wanted to have children. She described it as ‘an obsession’. Similarly, the French publicist, resistance fighter and Auschwitz survivor Charlotte Delbo mentions a discussion that took place among a room full of women:
It’s upsetting not to go through those unclean period … You begin to feel like an old woman. Timidly, Big Irene asked: ‘And what if they never come back afterwards?’ At her words a ripple of horror swept over us … Catholics crossed over themselves, others recited the Shema; everyone tried to exorcise this curse the German were holding over us: sterility. How could one sleep after that?
These reactions reflected both religious and cultural diversity, showing that regardless of faith, culture or nationality, it was a worry all could relate to. The historian of Holocaust literature S. Lillian Kremer argued that, in addition to the fear of becoming infertile, the prisoners’ uncertainty over whether their fertility would return if they survived made the loss of menstruation a ‘dual psychological assault’ on female identity.

Upon entry into the camp, prisoners were given shapeless clothing and had their heads shaved. They lost weight, including from their hips and breasts, two areas commonly associated with femininity. Oral testimonies and memoirs show that all of these changes compelled them to question their identities. When reflecting on her time in Auschwitz, Erna Rubinstein, a Polish Jew who was 17 when in the camps, asked in her memoir, The Survivor in Us All: Four Young Sisters in the Holocaust (1986): ‘What is a woman without her glory on her head, without hair? A woman who doesn’t menstruate?’ (Read more.)

When John Wayne Met Wyatt Earp

From Vintage News:
Many of the most famous characters in the Western movies were either loosely or wholly based on real people. However, there is no other character mentioned more often in films or on television than Wyatt Earp. The colorful life of this complex individual and icon of the Old American West has been an inspiration for movie makers and profoundly influenced the genre. He is probably the best-known lawman, but on the other hand, had been arrested several times during his life for various offenses, including horse theft, burglary, attacking a law officer, and consorting with prostitutes. However, Earp achieved iconic status mostly due to his role in one of the most famous gunfights in American history – the gunfight at O.K. Corral.
The famed lawman of the American West spent the final years of his life in California where he worked as a consultant on some silent cowboy movies. While there, Earp became good friends with many famous actors of the early Western movies, including William S. Hart and Tom Mix. Tom Mix became very close friends with Earp and even tried to convince some of the most influential people in Hollywood to make a film about Earp’s legendary gunfight, but his efforts were fruitless. In fact, the two of them were so close, that Mix served as a pallbearer at Earp’s funeral.

 One of the greatest directors in film history, John Ford, also met Earp who often visited Ford’s film sets. Earp described the gunfight at O.K. Corral to him and even drew it out on paper. Ford later used the sketch to film the fight in My Darling Clementine.

In California, Wyatt Earp also befriended a young actor named Marion Morrison who would later change his name to John Wayne and would become an American acting icon. Director John Ford hired John Wayne as a prop boy and extra, so he had the opportunity to meet Wyatt Earp. He made an impact on the young actor who later credited his walk, talk, and persona to his acquaintance with Wyatt Earp and on one occasion he reportedly said, “Earp was the man who had actually done the things in his life that I was trying to do in a movie. I imitated his walk; I imitated his talk”. Eventually, John Wayne became one of the most popular film actors of the 20th century, and with the help of the famed lawman, Wyatt Earp, he created the model for the iconic hero of the American West. (Read more.)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Raising Armies In The English Civil War

From War History Online:
Cavalry went through a number of tactical changes in the Early Modern Period. The charge of the armored knight designed to sweep all before it had been made obsolete by the range, accuracy, and rate of fire of the longbow. Whilst the aristocracy remained wedded to their armor and horse, large bodies of horse declined in effectiveness on the battlefields of the late medieval and renaissance. With the advent of handguns, the horseman became little more than a mobile firing platform. Tactics like the Caracole were designed so that the Horse could keep up near constant barrages, with constant rotating of reloading and firing men. However, the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus had revolutionized warfare on the continent, including how to use the Horse and the charge was becoming important once more.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine was one of the first to recognize the potential of the charge in the English Civil Wars. At the first major pitched battle of the war (Edgehill October 1642) Parliament’s poorly trained Horse planned to receive Rupert’s Horse with pistol fire – no doubt expecting the Prince’s troops to return the compliment. Instead, Rupert led his men in a direct charge on the enemy, discharging their pistols at the last moment, and closing with the sword. The roundhead troopers were swept away in a panic with the Cavaliers chasing after them. (Read more.)

Here is an article on the fighting women of the English Civil War:
Stoyle traces the concern about the prospect of women wearing men’s clothing even before the conflict, then looks at who responded how to the then controversial issue, as well as how those responses varied across the political spectrum. There’s a sense that Royalists loyal to Charles I were a bit less stern than the severe, devout Puritan parliamentarians. But there were concerns on both sides about the practice—which was associated with camp followers and specifically sex workers. Charles I very nearly issued a strictly worded proclamation against it—except a) that it would have simply provided ammo to propagandists among his parliamentarian opponents and b) also there was the sticky fact of his own queen having appeared a few years before in an amateur theatrical as an Amazonian warrior.

But the most detailed account of a woman cross-dressing during the English Civil War actually comes from the Puritan side, via a publication called The Scottish Dove, which praised a soldier who “being examined, he sayd, he was indeed a female, and said that her selfe and three more sufficient men’s daughters came out of Shropshire, when the King’s forces commanded there, and to get away, came disguised in that manner, and resolved to serve in the Warre for the Cause of God.” (Read more.)

They Watched Him Die

Here is a story which is beyond heart-breaking. How we must pray for our young people to recognize the value of human life. From Aol:
Khaseen Morris, a 16-year-old student at Oceanside High School in New York, was lured to the parking lot of a nearby strip mall after class Monday by students who reportedly threatened his life if he failed to show up, Nassau County officials said.

When he arrived, Morris was attacked by a group of six to seven teens and a fight ensued, during which Morris sustained a fatal stab wound to his upper torso. Dozens of teens allegedly looked on as Morris bled out on the ground, taking videos of the incident instead of calling for help. The victim was eventually taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition, where he died of his injuries.

"They videoed his death instead of helping him," Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick of the Nassau County homicide squad said at a Tuesday press conference. "I don't know what to make of it, my generation versus this generation," he continued. "This can't go on. Your friends are dying while you stand there and video it. That's egregious."

According to Morris's sister, 22-year-old Keyanna Morris, the attackers' vendetta first began when her brother walked a girl home from a party on Saturday night after she asked him to do so, WABC reports. Keyanna now believes the girl, whose identity has not been released, made the request in order to make her ex-boyfriend jealous, a mission that was apparently successful. (Read more.)
 More HERE. Share

How New York’s Indie Bookstores Survive

From Washington Square News:
Rent hikes continue to threaten small, independent shops like Bookbook, but the city’s bibliophiles won’t give up without a fight. In October 2018, SoHo staple McNally Jackson Books seemed to face an inevitable relocation when the rent on the Prince Street store was bumped up from $350,000 to a staggering $850,000, according to Vulture. Owner Sarah McNally was, however, able to negotiate a mangeable deal with the landlord ($650,000 for now with gradual increases over the next five years), and within weeks was in the process of opening not one but two new locations in Downtown Brooklyn and South Street Seaport.

“McNally said that prospective landlords had approached her — and not the other way around — for both the Seaport and City Point projects,” Vulture reported.

Despite the threat of Amazon and unprecedented rent hikes, indie bookstores continue to crop up in New York City, such as Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill, which opened its doors in May 2017. Owner Emma Straub told “Elle,” “When my husband and I found out that our local bookstore was closing, there were only two clear choices: Open a bookstore, or move.”

In 2015, six-year-old Greenlight Bookstore, located in Fort Greene, opened a second location in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Cafe con Libros opened shop in Crown Heights in January 2018, describing itself as a “feminist community bookstore […] born from and are guided by the lush cannon of Black Feminist thought producers and activists.” The space seeks “to advance and uplift stories of womxn and girls around the globe who are redefining the word feminist and feminism with every day, ordinary culturally informed acts of resistance and love.” The feminist bookstore even prices their books at less than full retail value.

On the Lower East Side, Bluestockings Bookstore, Cafe & Activist Center hosts readings, workshops, performances, discussions and films almost every night. The store is volunteer-powered and collectively-owned.

This past May, Noëlle Santos opened The Lit. Bar in the Bronx in response to a 2014 petition to save a local Barnes and Noble, the last bookstore in the borough.

“This neighborhood is gentrifying, and we’re going to start seeing more and more businesses that look more upscale coming into this neighborhood,” Santos said. “I don’t want anybody from the existing population to walk by this place and question for a second that this place isn’t for us.” 
The indie bookstore of 2019 is not just a place to buy books, but a place to find community, have a coffee, do some writing, attend literary events — or even take crochet and knitting classes at the BookMark Shoppe in Bay Ridge.

We’ve all heard that millennials are investing in experiences, not things. The city’s independent bookstores are keenly aware of this, and are staying afloat by doing what Amazon cannot: bring people together, carefully curate their selection and provide an experience beyond the page.

These stores also have a moral conscience that is appealing to New Yorkers. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe and Bar, for example, gives 100% of its profits to their foundation, dedicated to “ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness.” (Read more.)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Exiled Princess

Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, Madame Royale, around the time of her marriage to her cousin Louis-Antoine, Duc d'Angoulême. Share

The Missing Bones of a Scottish ‘Witch’

In the early 1700s, a Scottish woman named Lilias Adie was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to burn at the stake. But before the brutal execution could be carried out, she died in prison, possibly of a suicide. Adie’s body was hastily buried along the shores of the country of Fife, in an ignominious spot. To ensure that the devil did not reanimate his purported collaborator, the grave was covered with a hulking, half-ton slab. 
In the following centuries, morbid curio hunters were nevertheless able to access the humble wooden box that served as Adie’s coffin and pilfer her bones. Now, as Nan Spowart reports for the National, officials have put out an appeal for the return of Adie’s remains, in the hopes of finally giving her a respectful memorial. On Saturday, exactly 315 years after Adie died in custody in the village of Torryburn, Depute Provost of Fife Council Julie Ford laid a wreath at the site of Adie’s grave. 
“It’s important to recognize that Lilias Adie and the thousands of other men and women accused of witchcraft in early modern Scotland were not the evil people history has portrayed them to be,” Ford said. “They were the innocent victims of unenlightened time.” By boosting Adie’s profile, Ford added, perhaps “we can find her missing remains and give them the dignified rest they deserve.” (Read more.)

Friday, September 20, 2019

A Proper Afternoon Tea

From Victoria Trading Company:
It is important to use proper etiquette when attending afternoon tea.
  • After sitting down, place your purse on your lap or behind you against the chair back.
  • Unfold your napkin and carefully place it upon your lap. 
    • If you must leave the table, temporarily, place the napkin on the chair.
    • Never blot or wipe your lipstick with a linen or cloth napkin or use it as a handkerchief!
  • Sugar is placed in your teacup first, then thinly sliced lemon.
    • If you like to have milk in your tea, add it after the tea is poured. Never use milk and lemon together.
  • Hold the handle of the teacup using your thumb and your first one or two fingers.
    • Never put your pinkie out whilst drinking. That is deemed rude.
    • Do not loop your fingers through the teacup handle or cradle the side or bottom of the cup with your hands. 
    • A guest should look into the teacup when drinking, never over it.
  • When stirring your tea, be careful not to clink your spoon against the cup. 
    • Gently swish the spoon back and forth without touching the sides of the cup.
    • When through stirring, remove the spoon and place it on the saucer behind the tea cup and to the right of the handle. 
    • Of course, never take a drink of your tea without removing the spoon first, and please never, ever sip from the spoon.
(Read more.)


Why The Constitution Is Still Important

From Andrew Klavan:
It's interesting to remember, for instance, that the Constitution was the Founders’ attempt to replace the Articles of Confederation, the 1781 document that reflected the determination of the original states to preserve their sovereignty and independence. The problem was [that] the Articles of Confederation — the "AOC," as it was called before that became an insulting term for a bobble-headed dingbat — did not give Congress enough power to hold the states together as a single nation.

So the Founders went back to the drawing board and brought out the Constitution. The states were so wary of giving the federal government even more power that a long debate ensued in which both sides argued for and against the new document. That was how we got The Federalist Papers, which gathered the arguments for the Constitution as made by John Jay and James Madison ... and Alexander Hamilton, before he embarked on his legendary career as a rapper. (Read more.)

To Really Live You Must Nearly Die

From TFP:
Marcia Fraleigh described the first time she met Sgt. Canley in a telephone interview with the author. It was an emotional moment as she approached the giant, six-foot-two Marine with the gentle brown eyes. “I began to say thank you,” she said, “then burst into tears.” He also wept and then walked away as if not wanting to relive a day, which could have turned out much differently. This reaction is understandable, considering her profound gratitude to the man who saved the life of her future husband. However, the impact of this remarkable man extends beyond grateful wives. Gen. Ray Smith, who earned a Silver Star during the Battle for Hue and the Navy Cross during the 1972 Easter Offensive, described Sgt. Maj. Canley as someone “totally, completely and absolutely without fear.” Choked by tears, he added, “All of us literally worship the ground he walks on. He is a very, very special human being.” (Read more.)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Marie Antoinette’s Bridal Journey

The new Dauphine enters Strasbourg
The fourteen-year-old Marie-Antoinette crosses the border into France in May, 1770, clothed in a golden dress. In the background can be seen the pavilion where the new Dauphine surrendered all of her Austrian clothes and possessions and was dressed in French garb.
The Dauphine Marie-Antoinette
From Royal Central:
The procession had its afore-planned route, which had been worked out well in advance, to meet the necessary needs of both the practical and the ceremonial. Horses had to be ready at their posts to be changed when the procession met them en route. En route stops meant fireworks, music, triumphal arches, receptions, theatrical performances. In short, it was a justly apt preparation in more ways than one, for the court of Versailles, from where Marie Antoinette would write a mere two months after her arrival, “I put on my rouge… in front of all the whole world.”

Bells rang when the procession entered; canons were fired. Invariably for such a huge retinue, it was necessary to find places to stop overnight, which could accommodate the Dauphine as well as her suite, ladies-in-waiting and attendants. Often, monasteries and castles appear to have been chosen, as they represented places equal in size as well as importance which could be deemed worthy of receiving en route both an Austrian Archduchess as well as a future French Queen. As such, the roads had to be made passable, streets improved and food and fine cutlery sourced in enough quantity as would be needed.

Marie Antoinette’s journey would cross much of the Holy Roman Empire, of which her father had been Emperor in his lifetime, her mother being Holy Roman Empress also, albeit by marriage. Crucially, she would then be handed over formally to France as its future Dauphine, but this time in order to ‘become’ fully French, thereafter entering Strasbourg and then her father’s former duchy of Lorraine. Many of the cities and towns through which she passed would count the passing of her procession through them as a high point in their cultural history. (Read more.)
More HERE.