Friday, January 31, 2020

Recipes for Natural Hair Masks

From the Trianon Health and Beauty Blog:
From Women's Health:
 Whether you’ve just run out of your favorite  leave-in conditioner or feeling like your strands need more TLC, you  might want to take a look in your kitchen before heading to the  drugstore to restock. From dryness, to frizz, to flakes, and more, we’ve  asked the pros for their best DIY hair mask recipes to target every  kind of hair concern. Once you've decided which  mask is best for your strands (keep scrolling to make your pick),  you'll just want to make sure you follow these pro application tips to  get the most out of your recipe. “I definitely think the way to go when  applying DIY masks is to apply them to dry or damp hair, then shampoo  and condition as normal—this gives you a little buffer if you  accidentally over apply the mask,” says Judy McGuinness, a stylist at mizu Louis Licari.  “There’s nothing worse than putting a concoction on your hair only to  find out it won’t rinse out after a few shampoos!” Make sure to apply  the majority of the mask to the mid lengths and ends of the hair (unless  it’s a scalp detox mask), as that’s where the hair is the oldest and  most damaged or dry. With any hair mask, Mahshid Baghaei, a colorist at mizu Louis Licari,  recommends a 20 minute processing time to make sure it penetrates the  cuticles and seeps into the scalp, if trying out a scalp mask. “Adding a  shower cap will also help speed up the process,” says Baghaei. “After  the processing time, shampoo the hair lightly and condition as usual,  unless you have a heavy conditioning treatment in your hair—then just  rinse the hair after shampooing.” Another thing to remember: “Always be  extra careful when rinsing masks out in the shower,” Paul, celebrity  stylist and owner of Cucinello Studio NYC. “Most have a lot of oils and emollients in them, so they create a super slippery situation on the shower floor." (Read more.)

How to Fight Back Against ‘Cancel Culture’

From The Spectator:
All ages have their orthodoxies. And if writers, artists, thinkers and comedians do not occasionally tread on them, then they are not doing their jobs. Meanwhile human nature remains what it is. And just as some children will always pull the wings off flies and fry small ants with their toy magnifying glasses, so a certain number of adult inadequates will find meaning in their lives by sniffing around the seats in the public square until they find an aroma they can claim offends them. 
Which brings us back to the fixable matter: the wider cowardice, the societal silence. When Evergreen State College turned hooligan in 2017, the shock was not that American universities contained students unsuited to any education outside a correctional facility. Nor, frankly, was it a surprise that the college president George Bridges was so supine that he ended up begging the student protesters to allow him to go to the bathroom to pee (‘Hold it’ was the advice given by one hoodlum). What was surprising was that even when the professor who had inadvertently caused the breakdown (leftwing, Bernie-supporting, lifetime Democrat Bret Weinstein) was physically threatened, repeatedly defamed and finally chased off campus for good, not one of his longstanding colleagues took any public stance in his defence. Solidarity — perhaps the noblest aspiration of the political left — was totally absent. And these academics and administrators were not living in 1930s Moscow, but in 21st-century Washington State. (Read more.)

Helping African Americans Find Lost Ancestors

From Open Culture:
As we noted back in 2015, those records have become part of a digitization project named for the Bureau and spearheaded by the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. “Using modern, digital and web-based technology and the power of [over 25,000!] volunteers,” says Hollis Gentry, a genealogical specialist at the NMAAHC, the Freedman’s Bureau Project “is unlocking information from a transformative era in the history of African American families and the American nation.”

That information is now available to the general public, “globally via the web” here, as of June 20th, 2016, allowing “all of us to enlarge our understanding of the past.” More specifically, the Freedman’s Bureau Project and FamilySearch allows African Americans to recover their family history in a database that now includes “the names of nearly 1.8 million men, women and children” recorded by Freedman’s Bureau workers and entered by Freedman’s Bureau Project volunteers 150 years later. This incredible database will give millions of people descended from both former slaves and white Civil War refugees the ability to find their ancestors.

There’s still more work to be done. In collaboration with the NMAAHC, the Smithsonian Transcription Center is currently relying on volunteers to transcribe all of the digital scans provided by FamilySearch. “When completed, the papers will be keyword searchable. This joint effort will help increase access to the Freedmen’s Bureau collection and help the public learn more about the United States in the Reconstruction Era,” a critical time in U.S. history that is woefully underrepresented or deliberately whitewashed in textbooks and curricula.

“The records left by the Freedmen's Bureau through its work between 1865 and 1872 constitute the richest and most extensive documentary source available for investigating the African American experience in the post-Civil War and Reconstruction eras,” writes the National Archives. Soon, all of those documents will be publicly available for everyone to read. For now, those with roots in the U.S. South can search the Freedman’s Bureau Project database to discover more about their family heritage and history. (Read more.)

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Coronation Mass of Louis XVI by Giroust

 François Giroust (10 April 1737 – 28 April 1799) was a French composer. From Gramophone:
Francois Giroust was a French contemporary of Haydn who enjoyed considerable success as a composer of sacred music. In 1756, at the age of 18, he became maitre de musique at Orleans Cathedral where he stayed for 13 years. Then he returned to his native Paris, eventually becoming a sous-maitre at the royal chapel at Versailles in 1775 and surintendant de la musique de chambre in 1780. Giroust was chiefly admired for his grand motets, many of which were performed at the Concert Spirituel in Paris. In 1768 his grand motet, the Super flumina Babylonis won first prize in a competition run by the Concert Spirituel. The remaining works on the disc are a Coronation Mass for Louis XVI and a Prose des morts.

The earliest piece is the Prose des morts, a setting of the Dies irae which Giroust composed at Orleans in 1765. There are several interesting points of style which hark back to Rameau on the one hand and look forward to the classical idiom on the other. Some passages recall scenes in Rameau's operas while others are closer akin to later eighteenth-century vocal music. This Janus-like stance makes for interesting if not ultimately satisfying listening, and lovers of French baroque music especially will find something here to fascinate them. (Read more.)

More HERE.
Coronation of Louis XVI, June 9, 1775
Louis XVI takes the coronation oath

To End the Long Night of Doubt

 Jacob Rees-Mogg on Brexit from The Daily Mail:
With the deal done and the agreement in place, we will leave the EU in five days’ time. Independence restored, the Government will focus on unleashing the potential of this country. It will be a Government acutely attuned to the will of the people. For that is the sine qua non* of our departure: Members of Parliament chosen by the people will decide the laws of the land. Those directly accountable representatives will have taken back control. We will be free to chart our own course and we are reclaiming mastery of our policy decisions, from agriculture to trade, foreign policy to fisheries, employment law to immigration. 
We can embark on this new age with confidence and excitement. Over two millenniums since mighty Augustus quelled the unrest and strife in ancient Rome and brought in a new golden age, our auriferous* Prime Minister is bringing in a new era of revitalisation to our nation. These two great leaders sought unity where there had been division; they saw the importance of a public-supported police force and they recognised the power of infrastructure to bring great economic and social returns. Under our Prime Minister, our police force is gaining an extra 20,000 recruits and powers to stop and search more effectively so we can begin to clamp down on the scourge of knife crime. 
In the Boris Johnson era, we are embarking on the biggest rail modernisation since Victorian times. With £48 billion dedicated to delivering rail projects such as the new high-speed line between Manchester and Leeds and electrifying hundreds of miles of track, people across the country will be closer to each other than ever before. We are investing in the future of talented workers with our ambitious plans for a dynamic, outward-looking economy. Outside the EU, our trade policies will be forged with the best interests of UK businesses in mind. (Read more.)

King Philip's Pride

I stayed on the island of Limasawa a few years ago and will never forget it. I enjoyed the lush tropical gardens around the memorial to the first Mass in the Philippines. From Crisis:
If one had to guess where Catholicism first took root on the Filipino Archipelago and where the first Catholic Mass was celebrated, one would probably suggest a big city like Manila or Cebu. However, the first Mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday in 1521 in Limasawa in Southern Leyte, located in what is now the Diocese of Maasin (formally erected by Pope Saint Paul VI only in 1968). In 2021, the Diocese will mark the 500th anniversary of that historic event with a special Mass and Eucharistic procession to take place on March 31.

The Diocese of Maasin belongs to the ecclesiastical province of Cebu, which is the country’s seventh-largest city. Somewhat counter-intuitively, we must say that Cebu, not Manila, is considered the spiritual heart and soul of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, given the plethora of pilgrimage sites and sacred shrines located there. The Cathedral of Maasin, which dates back to the early eighteenth century, is striking for its cool stone and airy feel. Near the Cathedral is a spacious complex encompassing the bishop’s residence and the diocesan seminary, one of two in the diocese.

The Diocese of Maasin is definitely on the Church’s missionary map. Bishop Precioso Cantillas, the Salesian Ordinary, known for his beautiful singing voice (a characteristic trait of many Filipinos for whom karaoke is a national pastime of sorts), generously shares priests with dioceses less blessed with vocations, thus manifestly expressing the diocese’s “catholicity” or “universality” in keeping with the missionary nature of the Church, as defined in the documents of the Second Vatican Council (see Lumen Gentium and Ad Gentes). Indeed, it has been said that the Filipino clergy are “the new Irish,” inasmuch as they are as prevalent in dioceses around the world today as were the Irish clergy of yore.

As the economically poor and remote Diocese of Maasin engages in three years of celebratory preparations for the 500th anniversary of the First Mass in the Philippines—a Mass attended by the crew of the explorer Ferdinand Magellan—the local Church is seeking to raise not only awareness of its vibrant presence in Southeast Asia but also much-needed funds for such projects as the renovation of a parish sanctuary, the construction of a light tower, the erection of lamp posts in secluded and dimly lit areas of the island, the formation on behalf of the Limasawa locals of a Housing Village, and the implementation of plans to improve living conditions and the environment on the island.
(Read more.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Kitsch Confidential in New York

 From The Guardian:
A white staircase snakes up to the two bedrooms (one of which is now a dressing room), where high ceilings allow for a good flow of natural light, and two bathrooms, which have yet to receive the Bikoff treatment. The entire apartment feels like a vintage emporium. Bikoff inherited her collector gene from her late grandmother. “She taught me how to appreciate vintage design and stylistically beautiful interiors and couture,” she says. Inspiration was also drawn from frequent visits to flea markets in Paris, where Bikoff studied art history at the American University. She started her New York-based business in 2014, with clients now including Versace, with whom she collaborated as part of Milan Design Week last year.

A glance in any direction of her home transports you to the 1950s or 70s one minute, or the 1980s or 90s the next. “I enjoy the hunt in finding antiques. I don’t think about where anything will go in a room, I just make it work and create a new story,” she says. “I think it’s quite romantic to imagine how the pieces in my home have all had multiple lives and owners in different settings.” Her hunting grounds include auctions and antiques markets in LA, Miami and Palm Springs.

In the living area, a mid-century chaise longue covered in gold and silk sits next to a walnut Vladimir Kagan chequerboard-pattern table and 1970s Tommaso Barbi “Rhubarb” floor lamp. They look like leftovers from a decadent cocktail party. In contrast, pink Campana Brothers plastic and steel Zig Zag chairs give a space-age feel around a 1970s French Lucite and mirrored dining table. “They’re not the most comfortable things to sit on, but I’m style over comfort every time!” laughs Bikoff.

Sentimental objects, including family photos and vintage Murano and Fenton glassware heirlooms, line the shelves of a floor-to-ceiling 1960s Pierre Cardin wall unit. She is also fond of chairs, and reupholstering them – no two are the same. “I love finding different shapes and then complementing them with the right fabric.” A croissant-like sofa in electric pink is teamed with leopard-print chairs and a pair of Milo Baughman swivel seats, which she calls her “marshmallow chairs”, are in crushed velvet. (Read more.)

The Chinese Population Crisis

From Ross Douthat at The New York Times:
In recent days both this newspaper and The Wall Street Journal have carried reports on one of the most important geopolitical facts of the 21st century: The world’s great rising power, the People’s Republic of China, is headed for a demographic crisis. Like the United States and most developed countries, China has a birthrate that is well below replacement level. Unlike most developed countries, China is growing old without first having grown rich.

Of course China has grown richer: My colleague David Leonhardt, who spent time in China at the beginning and the end of the 2010s, just wrote a column emphasizing the “maturing” of the Chinese economy over that period, the growth of start-ups and consumer spending and the middle class. But even after years of growth, Chinese per capita G.D.P. is still about one-third or one-fourth the size of neighboring countries like South Korea and Japan. And yet its birthrate has converged with the rich world much more quickly and completely — which has two interrelated implications, both of them grim.

First, China will have to pay for the care of a vast elderly population without the resources available to richer societies facing the same challenge. Second, China’s future growth prospects will dim with every year of below-replacement birthrates, because low fertility creates a self-reinforcing cycle — in which a less youthful society loses dynamism and growth, which reduces economic support for would-be parents, which reduces birthrates, which reduces growth …

The Times report on China’s birthrates also reminds us that this trap is cultural, quoting a young Chinese woman who remarks of her one-child-policy-shaped generation: “We are all only children, and to be honest, a little selfish … How can I raise a child when I’m still a child myself?” This is the glib explication of a real problem: Having kids, inevitably one of the harder things that human beings do, feels harder still in a society where children are invisible, siblings absent, and large families rare, where there aren’t ready exemplars or forms of solidarity for people contemplating parenthood.

In all this, what China is experiencing is part of the common demographic decadence of the developed world, which is enveloping developing countries too. As Lyman Stone writes in the latest National Review, the human race is increasingly facing a “global fertility crisis,” not just a European or American or Japanese baby bust. It’s a crisis that threatens ever-slower growth in the best case; in the worst-case, to cite a recent paper by the Stanford economist Charles Jones, it risks “an Empty Planet result: knowledge and living standards stagnate for a population that gradually vanishes.”


Within this general, global story, though, the Chinese case is also distinctive, because cruel policy choices made its demographic problems worse. For these choices — the one-child policy, and the forced abortions and sterilizations and infanticide the policy either required or encouraged — the Communist regime bears a heavy burden of guilt. And the guilt continues to build, because even with the one-child policy gone, the regime’s repression still effectively suppresses birthrates. As Stone noted recently on Twitter, by targeting minority and religious populations, Beijing is attacking the country’s more fecund groups, in what amounts to a statement that if Han birthrates have fallen, minority birthrates must be cut to match.

But alongside that Communist guilt there is Western guilt as well, because the one-child policy was linked to a project hatched by Western technocrats, funded by Western institutions, and egged on by Western intellectuals — a classist, sexist, racist, anti-religious program that sought to defuse a “population bomb” that, we know now, would have defused itself without forced sterilization programs in India and signs in Chinese villages saying “You can beat it out! You can make it fall out! You can abort it! But you cannot give birth to it!”

That last quote comes from Mara Hvistendahl’s gripping “Unnatural Selection,” one of two books I recommend reading on the subject; the other is Matthew Connelly’s “Fatal Misconception.” Both are mostly retrospective: The Western effort died away as the population bomb fizzled, and while its Malthusianism endures around the edges of environmentalism and in European anxieties about African migration, mostly the population control crusade is recalled as a mistaken extrapolation, a well-meaning mistake. (Read more.)

On the Trail of Purple

The port of Meninx was unusually situated and well protected. Incoming ships first had to negotiate a deep and broad submarine channel in the otherwise shallow bay, before approaching the city itself via another channel that ran parallel to the coast for much of its length. They then had to traverse a wide stretch of shallow water to reach the city's wooden and stone quays, which extended seawards from the strand. From these piers, stevedores could readily unload cargoes and transport them to the nearby warehouses. We know all of this thanks to the work of LMU archaeologist Stefan Ritter and his team, which has allowed them to reconstruct the port facilities of Meninx on the island of Jerba off the coast of North Africa. The city was an important trading center in the time of the Roman Empire, and had commercial links with many other regions throughout the Mediterranean.

In the course of a DFG-funded project that lasted up until the end of 2019, Ritter, together with his colleague Sami Ben Tahar (Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunis) and a joint German-Tunisian team, has surveyed and explored the remains of Meninx and its port facilities. With the aid of magnetometer surveys, the researchers were able to map the highly unusual layout of the city, whose main streets ran parallel to the coastline. In addition, on the basis of their mapping data, they carried out exploratory excavations on selected temples and shrines, as well as commercial and residential buildings. "We even discovered a well preserved private bathhouse, which dates from the Roman and included mosaic floors, splendid wall paintings and a range of statuary," Ritter explains. (Read more.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Habsburg Jaw

Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
Marie-Antoinette of Austria
From All That's Interesting:
But while the line was intact, this inbreeding caused this royal family to exhibit a number of peculiar physical traits, especially one known as the Habsburg jaw. The most salient indicator of the family’s inbreeding, the Habsburg jaw is what doctors refer to as mandibular prognathism. This condition is marked by a protrusion of the lower jaw to the point that it’s significantly larger than the upper jaw and creates an underbite sometimes bad enough that it can interfere with your speech and make it difficult to fully close your mouth. When the first Spanish Habsburg ruler, Charles V, arrived in Spain in 1516, he couldn’t fully close his mouth due to his Habsburg jaw. This reportedly caused one bold peasant to shout at him, “Your majesty, shut your mouth! The flies of this country are very insolent.”


Marriage between close family members also increases the chance that harmful recessive genes — which would normally peter out thanks to healthy dominant genes from non-related parents — will continue to be passed down (Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom unwittingly spread the recessive hemophilia across the entire continent thanks to the continued inter-marrying of the European royal families). For the Habsburgs, the most well-known trait that was passed down was the Habsburg jaw.

One of the most famous Habsburgs (not of the Spanish Habsburgs, however) did not entirely manage to dodge the family trait either: Marie Antoinette [Queen] of France, although famously good-looking, had “a projecting lower lip” that made it seem as though she had a constant pout. But Marie Antoinette got off easy compared with the last Habsburg ruler of Spain, who took the throne in 1665. (Read more.)

Stronger Than Ever

Sen. Graham pointed out that the democratic House managers told the Senators “that President Trump got a better deal from the House than Nixon or Clinton.” 
“And here’s what the response was. Not so. They impeached president in 78 days, President Trump. Imagine 78 days to remove the president of the United States from office, nullify the 2016 election, take him off the ballot in 2020. Do you think 78 days is proper consideration of something this grave? Seventy-one of the 78 days, the president was denied the ability to call witnesses on his behalf, cross-examine witnesses, present evidence.” 
“So the Nixon impeachment lasted for years. He went to the Supreme Court. The Clinton investigation lasted for four-and-a-half years. So the defense was able to tell the Senate that all the due process given Nixon and Clinton didn’t exist with Trump.” 
“And then they — the most stunning of all arguments, they impeached the president of the United States in 78 days. Why? Because they wanted to get it over by Christmas. Why didn’t they pursue witness in the House? That would require court action. That would delay their goal of impeaching him before the election. I think that is devastating to the House managers.”(Read more.)

Graves of Slaves

In Britain, from Roman times. From Live Science:
Archaeologists have uncovered what may be the graves of 50 enslaved workers who labored at an elite Roman villa just under 2,000 years ago in what is now southern England. These burials date to the Roman period in the United Kingdom, from about A.D. 43 to A.D. 410. Many of the deceased were buried with grave goods, such as pottery and brooches, in what is now Somerset, a county in southwest England.

"It's relatively rare to excavate this number of Roman burials in our region, but in particular, in this case, we are very confident that all the burials are people who worked on a Roman villa estate," said Steve Membery, a senior historic environment officer at South West Heritage Trust in the United Kingdom, which oversaw the archaeological excavation. (Read more.)

Monday, January 27, 2020

Godunov (2018/2019)

Sergey Bezrukov as Boris Godunov

Svetlana Khodchenkova as Maria Skuratova-Belskaya Godunova
The 21st century has seen Russian television come into its own with superb productions which are close to matching the quality of the theater, ballet and opera of the Russia of the Tsars. One of best historical miniseries ever is Godunov which, like the opera by Moussorgky, captures the turmoil, intrigue, and violence of the early 17th century Time of Troubles, as well as the mystical destiny of Holy Russia, always suffering, always in search of redemption. Filmed on location at many of the original sites of the historical events, I will ever after have trouble watching Russian history depicted by non-Russians outside of the land of the tsars. The sets, costumes, and acting are genuine and most especially the religious ceremonies.

From the Russian blog Awful Avalanche:
Then there are those gorgeous costumes:  An estimated 5,760 hours were spent sewing them!  Tsar Fyodor’s heavy robes and sable coat; the brocade was stitched especially for the film (5 centimeters per day) at an old workshop by master fabric seamstresses of the Novospassky Monastery. Authentic gems and handmade golden thread, everything that distinguished the clothing of the upper classes of that era.  The classy headgear donned by married ladies to cover their hair.  And not to mention the horses and carriages, and even down to individual items of jewelry, like rings. And all this wealth displayed on the screen, as if to say: “There you have it!”
Viewers will also note that the characters spend a lot of time eating and drinking, and all of this is authentic as well, with loving portrayal of Medieval Russian cuisine: honey, mead, cabbage soup, meat, sour cream, sunflower seeds, berries, you name it…A reminder, once again, as I noted in my previous “Giles Fletcher” series, that Medieval Russia was actually quite a prosperous country, in its own way.
What really makes the series good, of course, is the quality of the acting. And the producers did a really good job here, of picking the right actors for the roles. The leads are terrific, and even the smaller roles are well-played.  As actress Irina Pegova (who portrays Maria Nagaya) commented: “It is worth watching just to see such a rare and totally cool acting ensemble.”
Timur Alpatov (who directed, along with Alexei Andrianov): “This is a film about the Russian people, the Russian soul, and we tried to show that soul throughout the entire film.”  In my humble opinion, they succeeded. (Read more.)
[Spoilers Alert] Season 1 of Godunov begins with the end of the traumatic reign of Ivan the Terrible, as the young Boris Godunov, from an old Tatar family, rises in the household of the mad tyrant, becoming indispensable to the Tsar in managing his frequently disordered affairs. Boris is present when Ivan murders his oldest son and heir in a fit of rage, leaving the throne to the kindly but weak-minded prince Fyodor Ivanovitch. Fyodor marries Boris's sister and they encourage Boris to rule the country for them, which he does with justice, always rooting out corruption. Meanwhile, Boris marries Maria Grigorievna Skuratova-Belskaya, the red-haired, feisty daughter of the head of the secret police, Malyuta Skuratov-Belskiy. Boris brings trade and better education to Russia. The jealousy of the boyars grows along with Boris' success, and Maria, his wife, fears what will become of them when Tsar Fyodor dies. So she begins to scheme. The youngest illegitimate son of Ivan the Terrible, Dmitri Ivanovitch, dies under mysterious circumstances, leaving Tsar Fyodor without an heir.

Like the great Russian novels, the story of Boris and Maria is interwoven with those of other characters. The close friend of Boris is Fyodor Romanov, a prince who has served the tsars as a warrior and a diplomat. Fyodor encounters a lovely maiden named Xenia who heals him when he is wounded in battle. After losing Xenia, he searches until he finds her in a monastery and they marry and have a son named Michael. Season 1 ends with the death of the Tsar and the people begging Boris to take the throne.

In Season 2, Boris and Maria are Tsar and Tsarina. They have two lovely teenage children whom they have carefully educated. Boris has reigned over a prosperous Russia for several years but the plague strikes and then a devastating famine, causing mass starvation. Maria becomes paranoid, turning to fortune tellers and seers. She fears that their friends, Fyodor and Xenia Romanov, have turned against them, and are plotting to seize the crown. The Romanovs, expecting trouble, hide their little son Michael at the Ipatiev monastery. No sooner do they hide him than Boris arrests them, sending each to a monastery. Fyodor is forced to become a monk called Filaret and Xenia takes vows as a nun, Martha. It is an incredibly tragic episode since the two love each other deeply and have no desire for the monastic life. Fyodor/Filaret is treated with many indignities by the other monks and Xenia/Martha becomes deathly ill, longing for news of her husband and son. Filaret encounters a hermit deep in the forest who reveals to him the reason for his great suffering and how to accept his penance from God's hand.

Boris becomes ill, and the boyars find an ex-monk who claims to be the lost son of Ivan the Terrible, called the False Dmitri. False Dmitri has long lusted after Boris' daughter the Tsarevna Xenia Borisovna. With the help of the King of Poland, the boyars plan to put False Dmitri on the Russian throne. When Boris dies, False Dimitri's men murder Tsarina Maria and her son, while her daughter Xenia Borisovna is thrown in the dungeon, where she is violated by Dmitri. In the hands of Dmitri and his foreign wife Marina, Russia descends into chaos, with Poles, Swedes, and Cossacks pillaging the land. Fyodor/Filaret is summoned by Dmitri to become Patriarch of Rostov, and so he becomes a spiritual leader of his tormented people, while quietly playing off his enemies against each other.

At this point the saga reminds me of The Lord of the Rings, with the main characters separated by war and imprisonment, to be united and separated again, as everyone struggles to survive. Tsarevna Xenia Borisovna is released from prison and seeks to become a nun. However, her spiritual father refuses to give permission for Xenia Borisovna to take vows, saying that she seeks death and the religious life is not a replacement for death but a way of life. Miraculously, after a long siege, the enemies are driven from the land. Michael Romanov, the son of Fyodor/Filaret and Xenia/Martha, is brought out of the Ipatiev monastery and made Tsar. A new epoch in Russian history begins, and the daughter of Tsar Boris is at last allowed to become a nun. Her personal suffering, and that of the Romanov couple, have helped win grace for their country.

My only criticism of the magnificent series is the way the Poles are portrayed as evil Catholic caricatures, complete with a black-robed Jesuit lurking in the shadows, ready to plant Romanism in Russia. But from the Russian point of view, that is probably how it seemed. At any rate, the breathtaking beauty of the forests, meadows and palaces, as well as the mud of the city streets, make watching Godunov a trip into the past worth taking for its realism and authenticity.

My post on the opera Boris Godunov by Moussorgsky is HERE.
 False Dmitri harangues Xenia Borisovna Godunova in prison
Tsar Boris oversees his son's education
Tsar Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov and his children
Murder of the Godunovs

Watch on Amazon Prime with English subtitles:

Life, By the Numbers

From Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing:
Well, to begin with, though all such numbers are a bit uncertain, roughly 55 million people died, globally, last year. And numerous public health organizations intensely scrutinize the slightest increase or decrease in mortality, in a laudable effort to identify what factors may be harming or helping the health of diverse peoples around the world.

That number does not include the number of babies killed by elective abortions, which at one time would have been thought a rare, emergency measure. The Guttmacher Institute, an advocate for abortion, estimates that there are roughly 56 million abortions around the world every year. So allowing for the lack of statistical accuracy, we can say in broad terms that as many innocents are slaughtered every year in the womb as there are deaths from all other causes in the entire world. That’s the kind of mayhem you associate with murderous ideologies like Nazism and Communism, not “reproductive health.”

Because of an ill-advised accord with China, the Vatican refrains from speaking about that government’s persecution, brainwashing, organ harvesting, and interference with the internal life of religious groups, including Catholics. But how about the more than 300 million abortions there since the 1970s, many forced – a number about equal to the entire population of the United States? Or the more than 60 million abortions in America since Roe v. Wade? That’s more or less the population of the United Kingdom or France or Italy; much larger than Spain; a figure close to the populations of Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, and Poland combined.

Would even a materialist utilitarian believe that such prodigal slaughter of the innocents has not and will not have enormous consequences?

At their annual meeting last November, the American bishops, recognizing the moral questions in play during this year’s presidential campaign, tangled over whether abortion was the “pre-eminent” issue.

Or not. (Read more.)

Neanderthals on the Beach

From Haaretz:
As for the aquatic Neanderthal, there is a lot of evidence that they did not shy from water. Separate studies have shown that Neanderthals fished for shells to eat and caught fish in shallow freshwater too. For example, a 2011 study reported on the earliest known consumption of shellfish in Spain, 150,000 years ago – thus debunking the notion that shellfish are a modern human passion. Neanderthals also bored holes into shellfish by the hinge (the umbones) and colored and decorated the mollusks too, 115,000 years ago in Spain. Isotopic studies have indicated that Neanderthals preferred meat but also ate shellfish and fish, whether out of necessity or choice.

Further supporting the theory of aquatically competent Neanderthals: Last year, Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis reported evidence of “surfer’s ear” in Neanderthal skulls – abnormal bony growths in the ear canal that are relatively prevalent among humans who swim in cold water. Presumably the Neanderthals weren’t surfing – but for that painful syndrome to develop, it’s possible they swam for fun as some of us do today, even in icy water (Polar Bear Club, looking at you, uncomprehendingly). (Read more.)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Pre-Raphaelite Sisters

John Everett Millais, Sophy Gray, 1856
Elizabeth Siddall by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in The Loving Cup, 1867

The exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London ends today. From Smithsonian:
Per Encyclopedia Britannica, the Brotherhood’s work focused on religious and medieval themes. Painted with maximum realism inspired by 15th-century Florentine and Sienese paintings, the young artists’ naturalistic creations were populated by beautiful women. The cryptic initials “PRB” appeared in the bottom corner of early Pre-Raphaelite works. Simply put, the Brotherhood was a boys’ club that intentionally excluded women.

“Though its goals were ‘serious and heartfelt,’” explains Dinah Roe, a senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, for the British Library, “the PRB was founded in a spirit of waggish male camaraderie which expressed itself in pranks, late-night smoking sessions and midnight jaunts around London’s streets and pleasure gardens.”

The Brotherhood’s models, who often doubled as the artists’ lovers, were usually at the center of their creations. But some, like Siddal, used their seemingly passive roles as models to fund their own artistic careers alongside their elite husbands. Siddal is among the Pre-Raphaelite women painted over by history. She started modeling not to gain the attention of men, but to fund her own artistic practice. Initially working part time at her parents’ hat shop while modeling on the side, Siddal gained an unprecedented amount of popularity in the Pre-Raphaelite circle, with her likeness becoming a symbol of feminine beauty. (Read more.)

More HERE.

The Plundering of Ukraine

From The Unz Review:
Indeed, John Kerry, the Secretary of State in Obama’s administration, was his partner-in-crime. But Joe Biden was number one. During the Obama presidency, Biden was the US proconsul for Ukraine, and he was involved in many corruption schemes. He authorised transfer of three billion dollars of the US taxpayers’ money to the post-coup government of the Ukraine; the money was stolen, and Biden took a big share of the spoils.

It is a story of ripping the US taxpayer and the Ukrainian customer off for the benefit of a few corruptioners, American and Ukrainian. And it is a story of Kiev regime and its dependence on the US and IMF. The Ukraine has a few midsize deposits of natural gas, sufficient for domestic household consumption. The cost of its production was quite low; and the Ukrainians got used to pay pennies for their gas. Actually, it was so cheap to produce that the Ukraine could provide all its households with free gas for heating and cooking, just like Libya did. Despite low consumer price, the gas companies (like Burisma) had very high profits and very little expenditure.

After the 2014 coup, IMF demanded to raise the price of gas for the domestic consumer to European levels, and the new president Petro Poroshenko obliged them. The prices went sky-high. The Ukrainians were forced to pay many times more for their cooking and heating; and huge profits went to coffers of the gas companies. Instead of raising taxes or lowering prices, President Poroshenko demanded the gas companies to pay him or subsidise his projects. He said that he arranged the price hike; it means he should be considered a partner.

Burisma Gas company had to pay extortion money to the president Poroshenko. Eventually its founder and owner Mr Nicolai Zlochevsky decided to invite some important Westerners into the company’s board of directors hoping it would moderate Poroshenko’s appetites. He had brought in Biden’s son Hunter, John Kerry, Polish ex-President Kwasniewski; but it didn’t help him. (Read more.)

The Legendary Giant Squid

Today, important clues about the anatomy and evolution of the mysterious (Architeuthis dux) are revealed through publication of its full by a University of Copenhagen-led team that includes scientist Caroline Albertin of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole. Giant are rarely sighted and have never been caught and kept alive, meaning their biology (even how they reproduce) is still largely a mystery. The genome sequence can provide important insight.

"In terms of their genes, we found the giant squid look a lot like other animals. This means we can study these truly bizarre animals to learn more about ourselves," says Albertin, who in 2015 led the team that sequenced the first genome of a cephalopod (the group that includes squid, octopus, cuttlefish, and nautilus). Led by Rute da Fonseca at University of Copenhagen, the team discovered that the giant squid genome is big: with an estimated 2.7 billion DNA base pairs, it's about 90 percent the size of the human genome. Albertin analyzed several ancient, well-known in the giant squid, drawing comparisons with the four other cephalopod species that have been sequenced and with the . She found that important developmental genes in almost all animals (Hox and Wnt) were present in single copies only in the giant squid genome. That means this gigantic, invertebrate creature—long a source of sea-monster lore—did NOT get so big through whole-genome duplication, a strategy that evolution took long ago to increase the size of vertebrates. So, knowing how this squid species got so giant awaits further probing of its genome.

"A genome is a first step for answering a lot of questions about the biology of these very weird animals," Albertin said, such as how they acquired the largest brain among the invertebrates, their sophisticated behaviors and agility, and their incredible skill at instantaneous camouflage. (Read more.)

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sins of the Borgias

And they were Spanish, not Italian. From Air Mail:
Such evil and bravado were all too necessary for success in Renaissance Italy, especially during the last days of the 15th century and beyond, the time when the Borgias attained the pinnacle of their success. Worse still, in Italian eyes, the Borgias were Spanish. The close family guarded their secrets by speaking Catalan among themselves—a language opaque to Italian ears. The Borgias’ detractors labeled them conversos, the name given to Spanish Jews who had been forcibly converted to Christianity by the Spanish Inquisition. The secret language spoken among the Borgia family was evidently Hebrew, according to inquisitive outsiders.

 Not surprisingly, the streets of Rome became abuzz with rumors during the time of Alexander VI (the Borgia Pope) that the family were guilty of all the sins and evil practices that had grown up around their reputation. The rumors were for the most part not true, yet they frequently germinated from a seed of truth. No, the Borgias were not incestuous, as the rumors claimed. Yet, as I learned during my research, the spread of rumors was quite understandable: the Borgias were a very close family, often embracing or caressing one another casually in public, in “the Spanish fashion.” And it’s likely that there was more than a hint of Freudian practice at play in their close family relations—Alexander VI seemed to love his daughter Lucrezia with an ardor which would certainly raise suspicions in our more psychologically aware age. (Read more.)

Aborting the Wanted Child

I think we all know of women who aborted because of pressure from others. From The Public Discourse:
Putting these together, I found that by age 28 the risk of affective psychological disorder—meaning depression, anxiety disorder, or serious thoughts of suicide—was almost four times higher (69 percent versus 18 percent) for women who had aborted a child in a wanted rather than an unwanted pregnancy, compared to those who had delivered children in such pregnancies. Clearly, the abortions of children in wanted pregnancies are much more disturbing for women, and their births much happier, than is the case with unwanted pregnancies. 
Wanted-pregnancy abortions most often occur because the mother may want the child, while others involved do not. In the Add Health data I examined in the study, one in five women who had ever had an abortion said that they had aborted a pregnancy by which they had wanted to have a child. In patient surveys by abortion providers, over a third of women reported that they were acceding to the wishes of their partner or parents in having the abortion. A research review by the pro-life Elliott Institute estimates that “30 to 60 percent of women having abortions feel pressured to do so by other persons.” (Read more.)

Graham Greene and Victorian Detective Fiction

From Crime Reads:
And so in 1962 Greene and Glover, who managed to stay on good terms and still swapping and collecting Victorian detective fiction, decided to issue a catalogue of their joint collection in a limited edition of just five hundred copies published by The Bodley Head. The book, simply entitled Victorian Detective Fiction, eventually became available in 1966 and featured a preface by Greene, an introduction by the bibliophile John Carter, and was bibliographically arranged by Eric Osborne—both Carter and Osborne were friends of Greene’s and Victorian book specialists at Sotheby’s Auction House. Each copy was individually numbered and signed by Greene, Glover, and Carter. Greene hoped that the bibliography of approximately five hundred books would be a useful aid to both second-hand and antiquarian book dealers, as well as crime fiction lovers. It is indeed a comprehensive list of Victorian crime fiction. But how did Greene and Glover, engaged in their affair amidst Blitz-torn London, come to their mutual love of early crime novels and amass the collection? 
Greene claims that their shared interest in Victorian writing and a desire to build a collection came during the war, where he spent most evenings at Glover’s small flat on Bloomsbury’s Gower Mews. The couple had spent an evening rereading Wilkie Collins’s 1868 novel The Moonstone. They began to think about the origins of the detective story and who, before Collins and Poe, may have been writing detective fiction. They decided to try and build a collection of detective fiction written and published in the Victorian-era from the cheap shelves of London’s used bookstores. The British capital was home to numerous second-hand bookstores in the 1930s. Paper rationing during the war meant new titles were few and far between and so hungry and deprived readers especially sought out used books to feed their literary habits. Living in Bloomsbury, London’s literary centre, and working at nights watching for fires during the Blitz, the couple were largely free to roam the city’s book districts during the day. (Read more.)

Friday, January 24, 2020

A Heartbreaking Endorsement of Staggering Pretense

From The National Review:
I had no doubt whatsoever that Elizabeth Warren would get the New York Times’ endorsement. An endorsement, I should add, that may have no worth whatsoever. Hillary Clinton received it in 2008 just as Barack Obama was about to beat her in Iowa. But, through the human power of stereotyping, I knew that Elizabeth Warren would get it. Elizabeth Warren and the Times simply belong together. The age of social media is an age that teaches us to become great at rough-and-ready categorization. And Elizabeth Warren is the candidate of elite college professors and the highest wage earners in the liberal professional classes — the clerisy of our age. Of course she is the candidate of Times readers and workers. 
But apparently, even though they have the job of describing “the world as it should be,” the editorial board couldn’t manage to tell you which Democrat should be the party’s nominee. At the end of their rose ceremony, they cut the flower in half. The bud goes to Elizabeth Warren, the fighter who could take on Trump, said the opinion-havers. The thorny stem goes as a co-endorsement to Amy Klobuchar, who was showered with half-compliments about her practicality. Is this like the Golden Globes, where some years they have one man as a host and in other years they hire two women for the same job? But the drama of the hour told us a lot as well. Ahead of the interviews with candidates, we were told by the deputy editor that the Times editorial board was posting questions to the candidates that they were “not being asked.” (Read more.)

Being a Cat Lady Is Good for Your Health

From Martha Stewart:
Sorry dog people, but not only do most of us know plenty of decidedly normal cat lovers, but years of scientific research suggest that cohabitating with cats has zero effect on developing psychosis later in life. (Take that haters!) 
If that's not enough to get feline fans purring, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology certainly will. In it, scientists found that cat ownership can be beneficial to our health in a number of ways. Most significantly, researchers observed a decreased risk for death due to heart attack and all cardiovascular diseases (including stroke) among persons with cats.

"Acquisition of cats as domestic pets may represent a novel strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in high-risk individuals," the study's authors mused. A kitty cuddle session can also ease symptoms of anxiety. As Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and author of The Stress-Proof Brain explained to NBC News, the act of petting your cat releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone or "cuddle chemical," which can make you feel less stressed. (Read more.)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Baptismal Record of Jean Amilcar

A copy of the baptismal record from the parish church of Versailles of the child Jean Amilcar from Senegal who was adopted by Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. From Louis de Bourbon et la famille Royale de France: "Louis XVI has always felt great compassion for his people. With Marie-Antoinette, they even collected and adopted several children including Jean Amilcar, born in 1782 in Senegal and mentioned on 20 August 1787 on the register of baptisms of Versailles."


A Shadow Government

From Victor Davis Hanson The National Review:
All those Marquess of Queensberry Rules of post-presidential decorum abruptly ended in 2017. What superseded them was, at best, a kind of British-style, European shadow government, in which mostly ex-Obama officials became nonstop activist critics of almost everything Trump has done. 
At worst, the endless opposition turned into a slow-motion sort of coup in which progressive, life-tenured bureaucrats leaked, obstructed, and connived to stop the daily operations of the administration — as they often proudly admitted to the media. The subtext was that the Obama-progressive-media complex would create enough momentum to abort Trump’s first term. Or was it that Trump represented such an existential danger to the administrative-state way of doing business that any means necessary were justified to end his presidency? 
The locus classicus was Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national-security adviser, and Jack Sullivan, who had been Obama’s White House deputy assistant. Together, they formed the National Security Action organization in early 2018. The two promised that they would offer an “effective, strategic, relentless, and national response to this administration’s dangerous approach to national security.” Translated, that meant that Rhodes and Sullivan would aggregate former Obama officials and progressive analysts to launch nonstop attacks on all of Trump’s foreign-policy efforts. And they have. (Read more.)

How Almond Milk Kills Bees

From Deseret News:
The demand for almond milk has jumped by over 250% in the past five years, reports The Cut. The demand is so high that California beekeeper Dennis Arp told the Guardian he makes more than half his income from renting his hives out to almond groves. But in December he started to notice the practice was having a negative effect on his bees, and he wasn’t the only one. Beekeepers who loaned their bee colonies to almond farms were seeing record high bee deaths upon their return, according to the Cut. And that number may be as high as 50 billion bees just this winter, Delish reports.

Patrick Pynes, a beekeeper who teaches environmental studies at Northern Arizona University, told the Guardian the bees in almond groves were being “exploited and disrespected.” Senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity, Nate Donley, likened sending the bees to almond groves to sending soldiers off to war. “The high mortality rate creates a sad business model for beekeepers,” he told The Guardian. “It’s like sending the bees to war. Many don’t come back.”

But why are the almond farms so bad for bees? Scientific American reports that focusing on just almonds, or just any other one crop for that matter, prevents bees from getting the diversity of nutrients they need to be healthy, which makes them more vulnerable to disease and pesticides. The practice also requires beekeepers to pull their bees out of hibernation two months early, People magazine reported. This is the latest in a list of concerns for the bees, which have been suffering from a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder since 2006, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (Read more.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Fille de Louis Seize

A print of Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France, daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, made during the Bourbon Restoration of 1815. Share

The New Pagans

At least the old pagans believed in something. From The Washington Times:
“They have no knowledge, no practice, no anything,” he said. “It’s not that they’re antagonistic to religion. Some of them are, but often times it just has no meaning to them.” Never before in American history has religion — and in the U.S., that inherently means Christianity — been so tested. Cultural distractions abound and church attendance is dropping, and faith leaders mired in scandal are struggling to figure out how to connect with the next generations of potential churchgoers.

People of faith are still a majority, with more than 75% of the country ascribing to some religion. All combined, Christianity counts for nearly 63% of the population. Yet all the growth is on the other side of the spectrum, the so-called “Nones,” or do not have a religious affiliation. That includes atheists and agnostics, but the real stunning rise within the Nones has been those who don’t so much actively question or reject God, as much as they don’t see a reason to bother with religion. Call them the apathetics.

The apathetics don’t attend services, don’t ascribe to any one creed, and often don’t even have much familiarity with the faith world. They account for a bigger share of the population than the agnostics and atheists combined, and their numbers are growing by millions each year. “They’re terrifying,” said Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Baptist pastor. (Read more.)

Butter is Healthy

From Daily Health Post:
Unlike processed trans fats found in junk food, ruminant trans-fats in butter which are commonly called dairy fats can actually be very beneficial for our health. While there are many varieties of trans fats, the most common type found in butter is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). According to one lab study, CLA can help protect human cells from numerous kinds of tumors including melanoma, breast, colorectal, and lung cancer (23,24).

“Milk fat contains approximately 400 difference fatty acid, which make it the most complex of all natural fats” said study author Helena Lindmark Månsson in a 2008 study published in Food & Nutrition Research. [23] “Almost 70% of the [milk] fat… is saturated of which around 11% comprises short-chain fatty acids, almost half of which is butyric acid.”

Butyrate is a type of short-chain fatty acid that is normally produced by microbes in your gut. Studies have found that eating foods rich in butyrate can help to reduce inflammation in the digestive system (25,26). Butyrate has also been associated with improved weight loss, brain function, and gut health. Out of all the foods you can eat, butter has the highest concentration levels of butyrate (27). (Read more.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Gulags Were a Soviet Hell

From Liberty Nation:
The labor camps are synonymous with the Soviet Union. Following the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin erected the first camp in 1919 to house political dissidents, prosperous peasants (kulaks), petty criminals, and individuals who joked about the communist system. It was not until after Lenin’s death that they became centers for industrial production, mining output, and victims of Stalin’s Great Purge.
Not all camps were the same; some were worse than others. Solovki was considered the grandfather of all Soviet camps, a testing ground for mass prison labor. It was later described by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as being “soft” because of what would follow. Bamlag adopted a “no work, no food policy,” Karlag had “never-ending” work, and Vorkutlag was “especially dangerous.” The worst of them all was Sevvostlag, according to Varlam Shalamov, who spent more than ten years there and described:
“To turn a healthy young man into a physical wreck takes 20-30 sixteen-hour days, seven days a week, with permanent hunger, ragged clothing, and nights spent in -60°C frost in a hole-ridden tarpaulin tent.”
By 1960, as many as 18 million people were sent to the gulags. Stalin’s campaign first targeted laborers, Communist Party opponents, military officers, and government officials. The initiative extended to educated citizens such as artists, doctors, scientists, and writers. Eventually, family members of these men, including women and children, were ordered to the camps. Prisoners would be arrested by security police and transferred to the gulags without a trial or right to an attorney. Why? For the accusation of being disloyal to Stalin.
If you were not detained, you would shudder for months waiting to be captured. The wife of an engineer named Aleksandr Petrovich could only sleep calmly following German aggression. “Now I can have a rest at least!” she wrote in a diary.
Each inmate was provided a sentence. The minimum was five to eight years of hard labor, and it was typically the family members of suspects who were given the minimum sentence. The only way prisoners would be granted an early release was if they exceeded quotas, worked hard, and perhaps had some influence among the guards. Historians estimate that between 100,000 and 500,000 people were released from the gulag every year between 1934 and 1953. (Read more.)

The Weapon of Choice

From MIT Technology Review:
Although it may seem as if cyberattacks target mainly networks and computers, conflict on the internet can affect every human being both directly—when, for example, medical equipment is compromised—and indirectly, by forcefully reshaping the geopolitical reality we’re all living in.
“Today, the full scale of the threat Sandworm and its ilk present loom over the future,” Greenberg writes. “If cyberwar escalation continues unchecked, the victims of state-sponsored hacking could be on a trajectory for even more virulent and destructive works. The digital attacks first demonstrated in Ukraine hint at a dystopia on the horizon, one where hackers induce blackouts that last days, weeks, or even longer—intentionally inflicted deprivations of electricity that could mirror the American tragedy of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, causing vast economic harm or even loss of life.”
As we start a new decade, the most immediate threat in the minds of many Americans is—once again—election interference. The 2020 election threatens to move forward the pattern of escalation that began when Barack Obama’s campaign was hacked in 2008, and spiked when Donald Trump became the first to directly benefit from hacking by a foreign power. Hacker States, an upcoming book by the British academics Luca Follis and Adam Fish, distinguishes between the different dimensions of destruction. Whether or not a hack achieves a specific technical goal—malware installed, account taken over, data breached—it can undermine public confidence and democracy.
“It is not just about tampering, information warfare, or influence campaigns, but it is also about the very physical infrastructures and complex systems responsible for everything from healthcare to tallying votes,” Follis and Fish write.  (Read more.)

Monday, January 20, 2020

All Of A Sudden Hollywood Cares About Morality

From The Washington Times:
They expose themselves on their red carpets while they bemoan the objectification of women. They claim that “black lives matter” while they enslave generations of African-Americans to government largesse. They lament homeless children at our borders while they celebrate the killing of infants in their clinics. They tell us walls are evil while they live in their gated communities. These are the folks who, to quote their high priest, Barack Obama, believe they are “the ones we’ve been waiting for and they are the change we seek.” They celebrate sodomy, normalize dysphoria, demean women and abuse our kids. They encourage 10-year-old boys to pretend they are girls. Their teachers instruct primary school students in the techniques of masturbation. Their magazines coach teenage girls how to engage in anal sex. They cheer at the loss of innocence. They champion debauchery. They mock fidelity. They malign virtue while they practice vice. And yet, Ron Howard presumes to lecture us about morality. (Read more.)

The culture war is indeed a war. From Andrew Klavan:
This week alone, the left renewed its attempts to vilify the Oscar-nominated film Joker as somehow racist, which it’s not. When a Bible that was used to swear in commanders of the new Space Force was blessed in a ceremony at Washington National Cathedral, an anti-religious group called the blessing a “shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy, dominance, triumphalism and exceptionalism.” Even Stephen King, one of our great storytellers and a reliable anti-Trump leftist, was attacked when he said he would “never consider diversity in matters of art” but would only judge it by its quality.

These attacks are relentless and can often be costly. Writer Chadwick Moore, a gay former liberal, says he has been repeatedly banned from Facebook for not towing the homo-leftist line. His latest thirty day expulsion was for posting an article he wrote entitled “Rednecks Are the Least Racist People in America,” based on his own experiences bolstered by research by Thomas Sowell and historian Colin Woodard. And much worse. In Australia, a young gay conservative who protested Drag Queen Story Hour at a library in Brisbane, committed suicide after being viciously defamed by the so-called LGBTQ Community.

Conservatives tend to treat the fight against such leftist bullying as a side skirmish compared to such major battles as who wins the 12th district in Ohio. They may roll their eyes and tweet their tweets — but at the same time, they teach themselves to watch their words lest they lose their social media platforms or their sponsors or their jobs. (Read more.)