Sunday, February 28, 2021

Stewarding Treasures

 From Victoria:

Madame de la Maison, translated “madam of the house,” specializes in antique tabletop items and other pieces related to gathering. What began with tablecloths and plates now includes vases, books, and other decorative pieces to adorn the hosting space. Ajiri theorizes that the reason certain styles pique her interest is because they come from moments in history where there was pomp, circumstance, and fun. Similarly, she hopes the items from her shop will be used in celebration and moments of shared joy. (Read more.)


Death Sheds Light on Elder Care

I have heard other horror stories like this, and always about expensive long-term care facilities. I knew of one older gentleman at a facility for dementia patients who tripped in the night, broke his leg, and lay in agony for hours and hours until the staff deigned to check on him in the morning. He died shortly afterwards. From Mary Beth Bonacci at the Arlington Catholic Herald:

Four weeks ago, Mom was found in that facility’s back yard. Frozen to death. She had let herself out through an unsecured exterior door, unnoticed and unimpeded, on a cold winter evening. No one realized she was missing until the next morning.  A health department investigator told me that she had been out there at least 12 hours. Which means caregivers over three shifts failed to recognize her absence. I’m told she was wearing thin pants, a short-sleeved shirt and socks. The overnight low was 20 degrees.

We are devastated. Beyond devastated. Frankly, I don’t know that it has completely sunk in yet. I think the brain only lets in a little horror at a time. I re-read what I just wrote, and think "Wow, that would be a really horrible thing to happen to a loved one."

I debated what my first column after Mom’s death would look like. I have felt compelled, in social media, to celebrate the person my Mom was and the way she lived. To keep the memory alive of the truly amazing person she was. But I think I did it mostly to distract my mind from the horror of how she died.

But I am feeling more compelled, in this moment, to tell the story of how she died. Because I think it needs to be told. Because others are struggling with the agonizing decision to place a parent in memory care. Because when we were doing our research, we would have wanted to know that these kinds of things happen.

I am not naming the facility here. It will be public knowledge when the Colorado Department of Health and Environment report is completed. I figure by the time the investigations are over, they will be either closed down or the safest place in the nation to place a loved one.

My point here is much bigger. I am discovering the enormous problems we face in senior care, particularly in the era of COVID. I was told by someone in the industry that, since the facilities are locked down and families can’t get in to check on their loved ones, standards are slipping in many places. With no oversight, caregivers and managers are getting lazy. I was in regular communication with Mom’s house manager, and I raised flags every time I suspected a problem. But you can only ascertain so much in phone conversations with a dementia patient.

Now, since her death, we have discovered that her nightly 2 a.m. bed check — a state mandated protocol — had only been done once in the ten days before her death. She could have disappeared on any of those nights, and no one would have realized it.

I have racked my brain to figure out what we could have done differently. The facility had no previous infractions. Their reputation was stellar. Their people seemed very caring. Their website would make you want to move in yourself.

Knowing what I know now, I would have asked some very specific questions. How are the doors secured? Are they alarmed? Is the back yard accessible at night? Are bed checks actually done every night? Who checks the logs to confirm? (Read more.)


The Equality Act

From First Things:

The first, most fundamental provision proposes changing the 1964 Act by replacing the term “sex” with “sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity).” Groups supporting the imposition of LGBTQ+ ideology on the law have been attempting to persuade federal courts to define sex this way for many years. And they scored a historical victory in 2020 in Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the Supreme Court held that Title VII of the ’64 Act includes gender identity and sexual orientation in its definition of “sex.” Even some supporters of this ruling, however, recognize the sophistry of Justice Gorsuch’s majority opinion, and thus its vulnerability in future cases under the current structure of the Court.

HR5, if passed, will resolve that vulnerability. Or will it? One of the most vexing aspects of the ’64 Act is that, while its purpose was principally to outlaw discrimination because of sex, “sex” is not defined in the Act. While HR5 now defines sex as “including sexual orientation and gender identity,” it defines neither. In mainstream LGBTQ+ ideology, “gender identity” is “fluid.” Thus, I might identify as male one day and female the next—or according to which restroom line is longer at the ballpark, theater, or parish fish fry. 

For HR5 expands the ’64 Act’s definition of “public accommodation” to include any “place of or establishment that provides exhibition, entertainment, recreation, exercise, amusement, public gathering, or public display”; and “any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a . . . food bank, service or care center, [or] shelter.” This language means that parishes, parochial schools, and other religiously affiliated institutions could be sued under the bill. In fact, it is difficult to conceive of any place or program outside a private residence that is not included in this definition.

For example, any Catholic Youth Organization sporting event is a place of recreation and exercise. Every Christmas nativity scene is a public display. Every pregnancy counseling center is a service or program. Every diocesan-sponsored woman’s shelter and food bank is, well, a shelter and foodbank. If a church, mosque, synagogue—or any affiliated school, recreation center, or food pantry—provides any of these programs or services, it will be compelled to allow biological men, for example, to use the women’s restroom. Sports teams would be compelled to allow boys to use the girls’ locker room. Shelters for abused and battered women would be forced to admit males. And of course, girls would be forced to compete against boys in sporting events. The bill expressly denies any religion-based objection.

The bill’s sponsors, recognizing that it is an infringement on the free exercise of religion, explicitly deny application of the most important statutory security of the free exercise of religion, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). The bill specifically provides that RFRA “shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under” HR5. This means two things.

First, if an individual or institution wants to sue a governmental entity to prevent it from enforcing the bill, it may not use RFRA as the authority for its lawsuit. To bring a legal action against any person, one must have statutory or common-law authority under which one prosecutes her claims. As it stands, RFRA provides just such authority. It has been used widely and successfully across the country to protect churches, schools, and other institutions from otherwise generally applicable laws that would force them to violate their religious practice or conscience. Under HR5, this powerful shield against government intrusion on religious liberty would be removed.

Second, if a church, school, or any other place of “public accommodation” is itself sued by an individual or the federal government for violating HR5, it may not use RFRA as a defense against the lawsuit. The very purpose of RFRA is to protect the free exercise of religion from generally applicable laws that unduly burden religious freedom. Without invalidating the law, RFRA is used to fight for exemptions from it. The Equality Act will remove that defense, leaving churches, mosques, synagogues, and virtually any other institution without defense against its imposition of secular ideology. (Read more.)


From Newsweek:

 The Equality Act is 31 pages long, and devotes thousands of painstakingly drafted words to prohibiting "sex discrimination." In all those pages, however, the word "female" never appears.

That's by design. And it spells disaster—not only for females, but for all of us who believe that our laws and language must be grounded in reality. Human beings are created male or female. Our biological sex matters, not only in law but also in practice.

Sex is a basic fact about who we are. It is the whole body's organization for a particular reproductive role; from conception, each individual's body is organized to produce either large gametes (ova) or small gametes (sperm). It's in our DNA. "Every cell has a sex," says the Institute of Medicine. Sexual difference has meaning and consequences. Sex cannot be reduced to "stereotypes," "sex characteristics" (breasts, genitals, etc.), sexual desires ("sexual orientation") or self-perception ("gender identity")—the terms the Equality Act uses to define "sex."

 Notably, the Equality Act's definition makes no mention of what sex actually is: the unchangeable reality that a person is either "male" or "female" (intersex conditions are disorders of sexual development, not a different sex). Only females go through female puberty, get pregnant, give birth and go through menopause. That's biology, and no one can self-define into or out of a biological reality. (Read more.)


From CNA:

The House on Thursday passed the Equality Act, a bill that the U.S. bishops have warned would trample religious freedom protections while codifying gender ideology in federal law. By a vote of 224 to 206, the House passed the Equality Act only six days after it was introduced on Feb. 18. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under civil rights law and forbids discrimination on the basis of those classes in a number of areas.

The U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) has opposed the legislation, saying it upholds gender ideology and the redefinition of marriage and frames gender as simply a “social construct.” Furthermore, it would “punish” religious groups opposed to these beliefs, the conference warned. Through the bill, Congress is forcing “novel and divisive viewpoints regarding ‘gender’ on individuals and organizations,” stated a Feb. 23 letter by five USCCB committee chairs to members of Congress. (Read more.)

From Dr. Michael Brown at The Stream:

It’s one thing to stand against the mistreatment of those who identify as LGBTQ (or anything else). It’s another thing to turn the world upside down, throw out common sense and logic, and trash the religious liberties of the majority of the nation in the name of equality.

As expressed by the Catholic bishops, “Human dignity is central to what Catholics believe because every person is made in the image of God and should be treated accordingly, with respect and compassion. This commitment is reflected in the church’s charitable service to all people, without regard to race, religion or any other characteristic.”

Consequently, “It means we need to honor every person’s right to gainful employment free of unjust discrimination or harassment, and to the basic goods that they need to live and thrive. It also means that people of differing beliefs should be respected. In this, we wholeheartedly support nondiscrimination principles to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected.” (Read more.)

From LifeSite:

Here are five things all Catholics and Christians should know about the drastically pro-LGBT, pro-abortion Equality Act that could become law in a matter of days.

It would force Catholic institutions to hire transgenders, female “priests” — or face sanctions

The Equality Act would mandate that “existing Federal statutes prohibiting sex discrimination in employment” cover gender identity and sexual orientation, outlawing Catholic hiring practices.

“Any church or private school which refused to hire persons who engage in sodomy and other same-sex behaviors, or who support abortion, even though it violates church teaching, will be held to be in violation of the Act,” said Robert Marshall, writing for LifeSiteNews.

“Businesses run by Christians or those who believe in Natural law, who fail the implement the LGBTQ+/abortion agenda, will be fined, just as they would be for engaging in racial discrimination,” he continued, adding that churches may lose tax-exempt status if they reject Democrats’ dictates.

“[C]hurches which ordain male-only clergy would be compelled to change their policies under the Equality Act or lose their tax-exempt status,” he said.

A 2019 letter signed by three high-ranking Catholic bishops, as well as leaders of dozens of Catholic and Christian institutions, raised similar issues, stating that the Act would “subject private employers and others to expensive lawsuits if they fail to adhere to strict preferred pronoun policies.”

“This would affect not only small, family-owned businesses but also charities and other nonprofits that are organized with a specific mission,” it continues.

The Equality Act specifically neuters religious protections provided for in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993 and sponsored by both current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The limitations on RFRA would be the first since the pro-faith bill became law.

The Equality Act would force Christian doctors and hospitals to perform transgender mutilation surgeries, abortions

The act would redefine sex discrimination in federal civil rights law to include “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” codifying and expanding abortion protections, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pro-life committee has noted.

“The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act to forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but it would also fulfill the abortion industry’s long-fought desire to establish abortion as ‘health care’ officially and legally,” Kenneth Craycraft of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology recently wrote in First Things.

“It requires that access to ‘treatment’ for pregnancy must not be any different from access to any other kind of health care treatment for any other ‘physical condition.’ But this is all code language for implementation of a vigorous national policy of abortion on demand for any or no reason,” he added. (Read more.)


A Supplement That Actually Boosts Memory?

 From SciTechDaily:

Walk down the supplement aisle in your local drugstore and you’ll find fish oil, ginkgo, vitamin E, and ginseng, all touted as memory boosters that can help you avoid cognitive decline. You’ll also find melatonin, which is sold primarily in the United States as a sleep supplement. It now looks like melatonin marketers might have to do a rethink. In a new study, researchers led by Atsuhiko Hattori at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) in Japan have shown that melatonin and two of its metabolites help memories stick around in the brain and can shield mice, and potentially people, from cognitive decline.

One of the easiest ways to test memory in mice is to rely on their natural tendency to examine unfamiliar objects. Given a choice, they’ll spend more time checking out unfamiliar objects than familiar ones. The trick is that for something to be familiar, it has to be remembered. Like in people, cognitive decline in mice manifests as poor memory, and when tested on this novel object recognition task, they behave as if both objects are new. (Read more.)


Saturday, February 27, 2021

The World's Most Misunderstood Novel

From The BBC:

Misunderstanding has been a part of The Great Gatsby's story from the very start. Grumbling to his friend Edmund Wilson shortly after publication in 1925, Fitzgerald declared that "of all the reviews, even the most enthusiastic, not one had the slightest idea what the book was about." Fellow writers like Edith Wharton admired it plenty, but as the critic Maureen Corrigan relates in her book So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, popular reviewers read it as crime fiction, and were decidedly underwhelmed by it at that. Fitzgerald's Latest A Dud, ran a headline in the New York World. The novel achieved only so-so sales, and by the time of the author's death in 1940, copies of a very modest second print run had long since been remaindered.

Gatsby's luck began to change when it was selected as a giveaway by the US military. With World War Two drawing to a close, almost 155,000 copies were distributed in a special Armed Services Edition, creating a new readership overnight. As the 1950s dawned, the flourishing of the American Dream quickened the novel's topicality, and by the 1960s, it was enshrined as a set text. It's since become such a potent force in pop culture that even those who've never read it feel as if they have, helped along, of course, by Hollywood. It was in 1977, just a few short years after Robert Redford starred in the title role of an adaptation scripted by Francis Ford Coppola, that the word Gatsbyesque was first recorded.

Along with Baz Luhrmann's divisive 2013 movie extravaganza, the book has in the past decade alone spawned graphic novels, a musical, and an immersive theatrical experience. From now on, we're likely to be seeing even more such adaptations and homages because at the start of this year, the novel's copyright expired, enabling anyone to adapt it without permission from its estate . Early calls for a Muppets adaptation may have come to nothing (never say never), but a big-budget TV miniseries is already in the works, and author Min Jin Lee and cultural critic Wesley Morris are both writing fresh introductions to new editions. (Read more.)



 From TFP:

The sense of shame comes from a metaphysical perspective of the world. It holds that the only way to interpret reality meaningfully is to look beyond the material existence of things. In the classical and Christian traditions, people did this by searching for the ultimate principles and causes of things.

This meant that they tried to understand the nature of things, and from this perception, they derived principles and ways of dealing with the world around them. Thus, they developed those vehicles of the soul found in art, philosophy and religion. They valued the spiritual things over the material; the beautiful over the vulgar; the virtuous over the sinful.

This “metaphysical society” developed a rich body of philosophical ideas, laws and principles. People applied these ideals to the culture and customs of their lands. This vision created high standards of behavior that all were expected to respect. It identified the lower levels of conduct deemed shameful that were unacceptable, immoral and base.

Shame is a product of a society that prioritizes the soul over the body. It is a defense mechanism against all that is low, vulgar and sinful.

In his insightful book, The Cunning of Freedom: Saving the Self in an Age of False Idols, the Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko explains how the sense of shame is “the reaction of human nature’s loftier elements to the incursion of its baser instincts.”

The ordered soul naturally rises up and clamors against our disgraceful appetites. We instinctively perceive that we are giving in to temptations, weaknesses or bad desires. Our sentiments rebel against these incursions. Shame may even have physical manifestations in the form of blushing and awkwardness.

Thus, when we fail to live up to high standards, we feel shame for our ignoble deeds or words. When we betray faith or family, it should awaken in us sentiments of shame for our perfidy. When we gravely sin, it stings the conscience which calls us to contrition and to seek pardon. (Read more.)


Restoration of Minor Orders

 From Bishop Athanasius Schneider at Crisis:

The theory expressed by Pope Paul VI in the motu proprio Ministeria Quaedam (August 15, 1972) and then disseminated in the life and practice of the Church and juridically sanctioned by Pope Francis with the motu proprio Spiritus Domini (January 10, 2021), which says the minor liturgical services (which do not require sacramental ordination) are a particular form of the exercise of the common priesthood, is alien to the 2,000-year tradition of the universal Church, both in the East and in the West. This idea represents a novelty that comes close to the liturgical views of Protestant communities. Further, it also manifests a yielding to the demands of the feminism movement in the life of the Church, since it positions women within the presbytery by dressing them in clerical robes such as the alb, the common vestment of clerics of different degrees (bishop, presbyter, deacon).

If minor liturgical services were a peculiar form of exercising the baptismal priesthood, the Apostles and the subsequent constant and universal tradition of the Church would also have admitted women to liturgical services in the presbytery or at the altar. The tradition, however, of not admitting women to the altar dates back to apostolic times (cf. 1 Co 14:34) and has always been maintained in the tradition of the Church both in the East and in the West (cf. Synod of Laodicea [fourth century], can. 44). 

At the end of the fifth century Pope Gelasius I reiterated the apostolic tradition of not admitting women to the liturgical service at the altar: “With impatience, we have heard that divine things have undergone such contempt that women are encouraged to serve at the sacred altars, and that all tasks entrusted to the service of men are performed by a sex for which these [tasks] are not appropriate” (Mansi VIII, 44). In the Capitula Martini, a sixth century Gallic collection of canons which originates from both Greek and Western sources, the same apostolic tradition is again recalled in these terms: “Women are not permitted to enter the sanctuary” (can. 42).  (Read more.)


Friday, February 26, 2021

Old-World Kitchen


Candis and Andy need to make a kitchen that will be big enough to cook huge meals for their jumbo-size family. The couple love the history and simplicity of old working kitchens, so they want to give their kitchen a similar old-world look. To do this, Candis installs simple hardware with an aged appearance and brings in a custom 13-foot island with lots of antique style. Still, there's one more detail that Candis knows will help bring that old-world vibe to life.

“The biggest thing I think will make it feel like an old kitchen is plate racks versus upper cabinets,” Candis says. (Read more.)


Mel K on Jim Caviezel's New Film




 From History Extra:

In Europe, feathers first became common as a hat decoration in the early 14th century. During the 16th century, hats adorned with ostrich feathers were in demand by those wealthy enough to purchase them in the fashion centres of Europe: Paris, Vienna, Florence and Prague. Wealthy ladies, courtiers and high-ranking military officers wore them too.

A famous panache of feathers, comprising no fewer than eight plumes, each over four feet long, was worn by the ever flamboyant King Henry VIII when he rode majestically into Boulogne, his forces having seized it from the French in September 1544. They were probably the tail feathers of a species of Indian peafowl.

This kind of panache, usually comprising naturally white or black ostrich feathers – but sometimes dyed in other colours – atop an officer’s hat was deemed to have a practical function as well, and was not simply an adornment. It made the wearer much more visually obvious to his soldiers. Before the battle of Ivry in Normandy in 1590, King Henry IV of France commanded his leaders “not to lose sight of his white panache, that it would lead them to victory and honour”. His forces won the battle, thanks to his panache or otherwise.

The ostriches whose magnificent feathers were used to make these panaches originally inhabited virtually all of north Africa, much of eastern and southern Africa, the Arabian peninsula and large parts of the Middle East. They had always been hunted for food, but once a market developed in Europe for their feathers to adorn hats, the killing was stepped up. Chased on horseback until they were exhausted, or shot, their populations were soon being depleted. In 1807, an estimated 509 kilos of ostrich feathers were imported into France alone. By 1850, they had been reduced to near extinction across the Arabian peninsula; they had all but disappeared from north Africa before the 19th century was out. (Read more.)


Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Real 'Gigi'

Yola Letellier

Leslie Caron as "Gigi"

 The character of Gigi was based upon Yola Letellier. From Wikipedia:

Yola Letellier (born Yvonne Henriquet (also spelled Henriquez or Henriques), c. 1900 – 1977)[1][2] was a French socialite and the wife of a newspaper owner. Yola is widely credited as the model for the main character in Colette's 1944 novella, Gigi.[3][4][5] As such, she became the basis of a 1949 French film in which Gigi was played by Danièle Delorme; a 1951 stage adaptation by Anita Loos, in which Colette cast the as-yet-unknown Audrey Hepburn to play Gigi; and an Academy Award-winning 1958 musical film starring Leslie Caron with a score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.[6] (Read more.)

From Love Letters to Old Hollywood:

Gigi Alvar is a girl who has had many lives. She first appeared in 1944 as the heroine of French author Colette's novella, which tells the story of Gigi's progression from a mischievous tomboy to a lovely young woman as she is groomed by her Great-Aunt Alicia and Grandmama to become the mistress of wealthy Gaston Lachaille. While the premise sounds vulgar, Colette's novella manages to be humorous, romantic, and sharp, much like Gigi herself. Readers loved it, and in 1949, the first film version was made in France. Just two years later, Anita Loos adapted the story for Broadway; Gigi would return to the Great White Way as a musical in 1973 and as a short-lived revival in 2015.

But, of course, when we think of Gigi, the first thing that comes to mind is Vincente Minnelli's 1958 masterpiece. This film holds a really special place in my heart, so much so that I knew doing a regular review of it wasn't what I wanted to do. Instead, I decided to do a deep dive into the world of Gigi, Grandmama, Aunt Alicia, and Gaston by looking at the three most important versions of their narrative: the original novella, the 1951 play, and Minnelli's film. So, grab some licorice and a cup of chamomile tea, because this is going to be super long extensive. (Read more.)


Former Iranian Crown Prince Warns Biden Admin Not to Rejoin Nuclear Deal

 From Jeffrey Lord:

In a telling interview, the former crown prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, gave the Biden administration a crucial message: rejoining the Iran nuclear deal is a mistake. Pahlavi is the son of the late shah of Iran, who gave an interview to Israel Hayom published Sunday. In a nutshell, Pahlavi explains that the deal “will not happen.”

At the heart of the matter is the misconception that the Iranian regime would ever change its ways. “It will not happen, says Pahlavi. “The Iranians know that the regime is not led by its national interests, but by its corrupt and criminal interests.”

Biden has stated he will rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran returns to its prior commitments, but Pahlavi stressed that as long as the Islamic Revolution is in power, “the ayatollahs’ regime defines itself through what it opposes. This is not a tactic, but a hatred that will not go away.” (Read more.)


Two Charlies: Darwin vs. Hodge

 From World:

Once its 2,260 pages were published in 1871-1873, Hodge turned to a critique of evolution, What is Darwinism? (1874, and now Internet-available for free). Hodge, like Charles Darwin, did not know how wonderfully complex each cell is, nor did he know that 150 years of effort would bring us no closer to explaining the Cambrian Era explosion of species. Hodge was well aware of micro-evolutionary change within species, as in moths changing color to blend in with soot-darkened trees. He saw micro-evolution by design, as in the breeding of dogs.

Hodge also saw that science low on the ladder of abstraction, based on observing and measuring, is not in conflict with Christian belief—but “science” high on the ladder, with faith in things unseen like macro-evolution, is. Here’s my pretend 1874 interview with Hodge about Darwin. Hodge’s own words form the answers.

What are the pluses and minuses of Darwin’s writing? Darwin does not speculate on the origin of the universe, on the nature of matter, or of force. He is simply a naturalist, a careful and laborious observer; skillful in his descriptions, and singularly candid in dealing with the difficulties in the way of his peculiar doctrine. He set before himself a single problem, namely, How are the fauna and flora of our earth to be accounted for?

He writes about species but skips by their origin? He assumes the existence of matter: Its existence he takes for granted. He assumes the efficiency of physical causes, showing no disposition to look for a First Cause. He assumes also the existence of life in the form of one or more primordial germs.

How did we get from “primordial germs” to the complexity of today? He emphasizes the law of Variation, that is, while the offspring are, in all essential characteristics, like their immediate progenitor, they nevertheless vary more or less within narrow limits, from their parent and from each other. Some of these variations are indifferent, some deteriorations, some improvements that enable the plant or animal to exercise its functions to greater advantage.

Is there room for all? Darwin posits the law of Over Production. All plants and animals tend to increase in a geometrical ratio, and therefore tend to overrun enormously the means of support. If all the seeds of a plant, all the spawn of a fish, were to arrive at maturity, in a very short time the world could not contain them. Hence of necessity arises a struggle for life. Only a few of the myriads born can possibly live.

Who wins? It’s the Survival of the Fittest. That is, if any individual of a given species of plant or animal happens to have a slight deviation from the normal type, favorable to its success in the struggle for life, it will survive. This variation, by the law of heredity, will be transmitted to its offspring, and by them again to theirs. Soon these favored ones gain the ascendency, and the less favored perish. The modification becomes established in the species. After a time another and another of such favorable variations occur, with like results. Thus very gradually, great changes of structure are introduced. (Read more.)


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Changing of the Garden

 From Tatler:

Charles Maurice Petty-Fitzmaurice, 9th Marquis of Lansdowne, is passionate about soil acidity. A surprising interest, perhaps, for the businessman, peer and Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, but one that has served him well at his family seat in Wiltshire. ‘Bowood is extraordinarily fortunate, as there’s a range of soils here,’ he says. How is that fortunate? He laughs. ‘Plants only grow where they want to grow.’

 It certainly does seem that a dazzling variety of plants want to grow across the 4,000-acre estate – and have done for centuries, thanks to green-fingered marquesses past and present. William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne (who became the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne in 1784) commissioned Capability Brown to design the 1,000-acre park in 1762 for a fee of 30 guineas – roughly £5,500 today. The undulating landscape is dotted with perfectly positioned oak and beech trees and a 700-species-strong arboretum. The south-facing Terrace Gardens, which today are edged with box hedging and filled with formal beds of seasonal tulips, alliums, Corinda geraniums and fragrant roses, were added by the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, to remind him of his time in Italy. But it is the Woodland Gardens, which the 3rd Marquess laid out in 1854, planted with 300 rare hybrids of rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas, that would delight his soil-savvy successors the most. (Read more.)


President Biden Just Shut Down Nationwide Operation to Track and Deport Illegal Alien Child Sex Offenders

 From The Shore News Network:

Since taking office, U.S. President Joe Biden has suspended all deportation of criminal illegal aliens, but a broad stroke of the President’s pen this month also wiped out a nationwide operation that allowed for the arrest and deportation of illegal aliens who preyed upon children.

On Thursday, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson joined a Missouri-led coalition of 18 state attorneys general in urging President Biden, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Johnson, to reverse the Biden Administration’s last-minute cancellation of Operation Talon. Operation Talon is a nationwide ICE operation that focuses on removing illegally present convicted sex offenders from the United States.

 “We’re working hard to fight human trafficking and sex crimes in South Carolina and allowing convicted sex offenders who are here illegally to remain in our country makes absolutely no sense,” said Attorney General Wilson. “These trafficking and sex crimes are repugnant to human decency generally and to children specifically.”

 “Today, I’m pleased to lead this coalition of 18 states in urging President Biden to reverse the decision to cancel Operation Talon, which targeted convicted sex offenders who are illegally in the United States. Broadcasting that sexual predators and traffickers are potentially immune from deportation or other legal action only worsens the crises of sexual assault and trafficking at the border and potentially in Missouri,” said Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. “In combating human trafficking in Missouri, we strive to send the message that our state is inhospitable to trafficking through our actions and initiatives – The United States needs to send the same message.” (Read more.)


From The National Pulse:

Joe Biden’s open borders radicalism invites a human tsunami of illegal migration. Consider the startling, latest evidence from the US Border Patrol: apprehensions of adults at the southern border in January 2021 vaulted 182 percent higher vs. January of 2020, from 86,449 to 244,053 total encounters. People respond to incentives, including would-be trespassers into our homeland. Biden’s moves to effectively vaporize the US border threaten an economic, humanitarian, and national security nightmare scenario for America.

Specifically, Biden’s America has already suspended deportations and is dismantling Trump’s highly effective “remain in Mexico” policy regarding asylum applicants. Biden is also asking Congress to provide mass amnesty for trespassers already here, alongside promises of generous public benefits to new illegal aliens, such as taxpayer-funded healthcare. (Read more.)


4 Practices for a Simple, Tidy Home

 From The Nester:

This one is from Marla Cilley, the Flylady and expert on all things to do with a clutter-free home. Basically, she believes that the sink is like the welcome mat and boss of the kitchen. When your sink is empty of dirty dishes, and beyond that– sparkling clean and shiny, it will have a positive effect on the rest of the kitchen and the house.

Shine your sink every night after you do the dishes with a powdered cleaner or surface scrub. Then, do a quick spray with something that smells great and shine it up. She even encourages us to dry out our sink when we are done using it. A clean, dry sink?! What a luxury right? Bonus points for putting a bunch of flowers in your shiny sink like an Instagram Influencer–it really does make for a pretty photo! (Read more.)


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Celtic Warriors and Celtic Feasts

From Ancient History:

Another problem with any study of the Celts is the lack of written sources produced by themselves. These largely illiterate tribes stored and passed on their culture orally, especially through learned druids. Consequently, besides scarce short inscriptions and the physical finds of archaeology, we must rely on Greco-Roman writers for much of the details of Celtic warfare and life in general. Naturally, the Romans were the ultimate victors and so sources like Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars may be invaluable but they were not designed to record Celtic culture for posterity. Nor were these classical writers free from bias, misunderstanding and perpetuating stereotypes. When the 1st-century BCE writer Strabo noted of the Celts that "the whole race…is madly fond of war, high-spirited and quick to battle" (in Cunliffe, 213), was he accurately depicting an enemy or making the warriors of his own culture seem even more successful for conquering such a valiant foe? Nevertheless, classical authors are invaluable, and the Celts were well-known to them not only as an enemy but also later as mercenaries in Punic, Greek and Roman armies. (Read more.)

Also from Ancient History:

Feasts were an important part of ancient Celtic culture, and items used in them such as spits, cauldrons, and flagons have been excavated from burial sites across Europe. These finds of feast paraphernalia date from the 12th century BCE and into the period of the Roman Empire. Celtic feasts were held to commemorate and celebrate important dates in the religious calendar and to celebrate community successes such as building new defences or constructing a new building. A famous secular feast was the Feast of Tara (feis Temro), held from antiquity to the 6th century CE to celebrate the inauguration of a new Irish High King at Tara in County Meath. Feasts might also celebrate marriages, victories in war, and successful raids against rival neighbouring tribes or commiserate relatives when a loved one had passed to the Otherworld. (Read more.)


‘Feeding Frenzy’

 From The National Pulse:

Hundreds of British schools financially strained by COVID-19 are being targeted with Chinese Communist Party investment. 

“Experts anticipate a ‘feeding frenzy’ as firms, including some run by high-ranking members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, seek to expand their influence over Britain’s education system,” the Daily Mail notes. Currently, 17 British schools are under Chinese control, and nine of which are “owned by firms whose founders or bosses are among China’s most senior Communist Party members.” But that number is set to multiply. Schools, which are being used to spread a “whitewashed” view of the communist country, have also seen their owners admit acquisitions are part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. (Read more.)

From The Daily Mail:

The world is being taken over by stealth by the Chinese Communist Party. Under a neo-colonial project, President Xi Jinping hopes to achieve global economic domination via massive international investments. It extends way beyond buying up mineral assets or Western telecommunication systems. There’s a cultural dimension that reeks of propaganda and indoctrination. Not content with financing some British universities, we now learn that Chinese companies directly linked to the highest ranks of the Communist Party have serious financial interests in our schools.

 The Government must wake up to the dangers and act quickly. Particularly at risk are private schools. Inflation has meant that fees have risen rapidly over the last two decades and so they have become unaffordable to all but the richest. As a result, such schools – especially those with boarders – are reliant on Chinese students to help balance the books. Since 2014, a network of Chinese companies has been quietly buying up struggling establishments. (Read more.)


First Flowering Plants

From Sci News:

Flowering plants (angiosperms) are the most diverse of all land plants, becoming abundant in the Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years ago) and achieving dominance in the Cenozoic (66 million years ago-present). However, the exact timing of their origin remains a controversial topic. To resolve this discrepancy, a team of paleontologists from Europe and China estimated the ages of angiosperm families on the basis of the fossil record and their living diversity. Their results, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, support Charles Darwin’s hypothesis of a rapid Cretaceous diversification of angiosperms and indicate that several families originated in the Jurassic, strongly rejecting a Cretaceous origin for the group. (Read more.)


Monday, February 22, 2021

Canceling the Classics

 From World Magazine:

Late last January, the U.K.’s University of Leicester sent out a staff email proposing that authors prior to the year 1500 be dropped from the English curriculum to make room for “a selection of modules on race, ethnicity, sexuality and diversity, a decolonised curriculum and new employability modules.” That would put Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Thomas Malory, and Beowulf on the chopping block. Just what students expect from an English degree, Micah Mattix wryly observed at The American Conservative: “politics and vocational training.” 

In spite of strident protests, the proposal is still on the table. If it goes into effect, there’s another brick removed from the wall of Western culture for the sake of contemporary relevance. Also for the sake of future English majors who can’t navigate “Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote.” 

The university administration insisted it was not removing Chaucer because of his “whiteness.” The same can’t be said of educators here in the United States, where #DisruptTexts has quickly gone from hashtag to movement. On its website, #DisruptTexts is described as “a crowdsourced, grassroots effort by teachers for teachers to challenge the traditional canon in order to create a more inclusive, representative, and equitable language arts curriculum that our students deserve.”

The influence of these teachers is significant: They speak at conferences, write for publications, and have the ear of organizations like the International Literacy Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. They are recruited by publishers to promote diverse literature for children. They insist that “disrupting” does not mean book-banning but elevating authors of all races, genders, religions, and sexual orientations to a platform previously dominated by whites. 

Opening the floor to diverse views is a reasonable, even praiseworthy, objective. Often, though, the implementation means either shouting down historical voices or putting them under a social justice microscope. Writing in School Library Journal, novelist Padma Venkatraman recognizes the literary excellence of the classics. But, she argues, justice demands we relegate them to social studies classrooms, “where inherent ideas of inequity are exposed and examined; where Huckleberry Finn may be viewed as an example of literature that showcases the white lens.” Students should not read classic texts as literature, or even as valuable insight into the faults and virtues of the past, but as analytical challenges: to dissect the subtle and unsubtle underpinnings of white supremacy. (Read more.)


Death Of A City

 From Forbes:

Cities can die. Death can be sudden, as with Pompei, or gradual, as with the Mayan city of Tikal and the Jordanian city of Petra. The United States abounds with ghost towns in the mining country as well as communities left behind by economic change. Down the road from Portland are a number of mill towns that have emptied out.

Economists tell stories about the growth of cities, usually starting with trade. Most of our old cities are on the ocean or other waterways: New York, Boston, Philadelphia. Most of the not-so-old cities are also on trading locations: New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco. Railroads pushed some cities forward, such as Atlanta. Although moving cargo is still important, these cities are no longer dependent on being cargo terminals. (Read more.)


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Photoarchive Centennial Project


From The Frick Collection:

The Frick Photograph Campaigns turned out to be especially significant for the history of American art, most of which was unknown to art historians because it still hung in private homes. Having access to photos of these works of art allowed art historians to work systematically to improve scholarship. Books on American colonial painting that began to appear in the 1940s (such as James Flexner's First Flowers of Our Wilderness(link is external) and Waldron Phoenix Belknap's American Colonial Painting(link is external)) consistently cite the Frick photographs as the primary source for their visual material. Even today these images are of immense importance, for many of the works remain unpublished or, in some cases, have been lost or destroyed. In addition, they serve as documents of the state of American collections of art in the first half of the twentieth century.

As color photography had yet to be developed, the images the Frick obtained from its photography trips were all in black and white. While these images are very high quality and show more detail than current viewers may imagine, many have faded over time and some of the original negatives have deteriorated, making the images less valuable.

In 2019, Global Art Access came to the library and discussed a new project to digitize and make accessible to the public works of art belonging to private collectors. Global Art Access reasoned that while digitization and access initiatives have been prevalent within publicly accessible collections throughout the past decade, private collections remain largely inaccessible. By giving private collections the same digitization treatment, the works of art they contain could be more accessible to the public and more easily available for research purposes. (Read more.)

A Syllabus We Should All Be Studying

 From One Peter Five:

The banishment of religion from civil society and government cannot but darken and eventually extinguish justice and rights, replacing them with egoism, avarice, and violence (§4). The Pope states that the modern opinions mentioned in the encyclical—and, implicitly, those catalogued in the Syllabus—are to be held “reprobated, proscribed, and condemned by all children of the Catholic Church” (§6).

What, specifically, were these opinions? The Syllabus of the Principal Errors of Our Time, to give the document its full title, consists of eighty propositions, divided into ten categories. The first three (“Pantheism, naturalism, and absolute rationalism”; “Moderate rationalism”; “Indifferentism, latitudinarianism”) are predominantly speculative in content, regarding errors about the existence of God and His providence, the divinity of Christ and the truth of Christian revelation, the relationship of faith and reason, and the necessity of the Church for salvation. The seven remaining categories concern chiefly social errors. (Read more.)

America's Stonehenge

 From Discover:

Later, a Harvard scientist named Barry Fell studied apparent inscriptions on stones at Mystery Hill and claimed these markings were Phoenician or Iberian in origin. Fell, it's worth noting, was a marine biologist, your go-to guy if you wanted to know about, say, sea urchins. But his forays into epigraphy were perhaps less accomplished and won him mostly skepticism and ridicule from the scientific community.

All we know for sure about the early history of the site is that it served as a homestead and a rock quarry in the 19th century, and that Native Americans were once active there, possibly for centuries. Nevertheless, amateur researchers, New Age devotees and the current owners continue to support the belief that America's Stonehenge's features are as old as 4,000 years, were built by prehistoric European visitors, and may even have some connection to the people who built Stonehenge on England's Salisbury Plain. In fact, the only link between America's Stonehenge and the real thing is the name itself, and that bit of rebranding didn't occur until the 1980s. Runnels notes that no verifiable evidence has ever turned up to support any of the wilder claims surrounding the site. (Read more.)


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Roman Baths

The Baths at Caracalla by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
 From The Collector:

Bathing is synonymous with the Romans in a similar fashion to roads, legionaries, and togas. The Romans relished the simple enjoyment of warm clean water, a luxury compared to much of the ancient world. Some emperors had luxurious bath complexes named after them called thermae. The historian Suetonius even notes that the best time to ask emperor Vespasian for favors was immediately after his bath. 

Stereotypical Roman baths had several rooms on a central axis, which were likely passed through in the following order:

  • Apodyterium: A changing room with niches for clothes where bathers would prepare.
  • Laconicum and Sudatoria: Dry and wet sauna style rooms.
  • Destrictorium:  A room where visitors were oiled before entering the rooms of varying temperatures below.
  • Caldarium: A hot room with high humidity and a plunge bath.
  • Tepidarium: A medium heat room with a luke-warm bath for transitioning between hot and cold rooms.
  • Frigidarium: A cold room, often with a large pool.
  • Palaestra: A light exercise area.

Roman baths were used by both rich and poor citizens alike and were spread throughout the empire. By the 4th century AD, there were around 850 baths in Rome alone. Here is the story of their origin, rise, and decline. (Read more.)


Looking Forward as the West Declines

 From Chronicles:

Germany’s defeat in World War II was accelerated by Hitler’s unwillingness to accept reports at odds with his increasingly fantastical view of reality. His self-deceptions were believed with such firmness that, by mid-1944, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel concluded that the Führer was living in a Wolkenkuckucksheim (“cloud cuckoo land”).

The same diagnosis applies to the establishment Right, both in Europe and the U.S., which still assert that we live in an imperfect yet improvable world in which the West is dominant and has the energy to reinvent itself. The luminaries at Heritage Foundation, their Euro-doubles, and assorted believers in civic nationalism reject all evidence that the Western world is declining vis-à-vis its global competitors, still advocating legislative solutions to civilizational challenges. For Conservative Inc., any warning that Western power is but a façade which conceals rot and weakness is paleo-reactionary propaganda and unpatriotic defeatism.

On the other hand, for over a century—at least since Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West was published in 1918—there have been warnings by philosophers, political scientists, theologians and others, mainly disbelievers in “progress” and the improvability of man, that our civilization is in peril. They make use of a massive body of evidence to point out that we live in abnormal times, characterized by the collapse of moral norms and civilizational standards on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The malaise is strikingly augmented in our own time by the metastatic growth of Weiningerian self-hatred throughout the Western world.

Over the past year the U.S. sociopolitical system’s crisis has acquired a mature form, with increasingly frequent outbursts of acute dysfunctionality. The process is manifested primarily in the legitimization of violence, debasement of the “democratic process,” imposition of crude forms of censorship, and criminalization of words and actions unacceptable to the Beltway regime and its cohorts in the media, Big Tech, the academe, and Hollywood.

A horrid new order is being set up. For a brief while it may yet resemble the Old Republic, but only as Count Dracula resembles a living person. (Read more.)

The Fall of the Fitzmaurices

 From The Irish Examiner:

Francis Fitzmaurice, third earl of Kerry, and his wife, Anastasia Daly, a Catholic divorcee 20 years his senior (a scandal in itself) went on living as they had always done, printing as many as 500 invitations to their lavish soirées and ordering the very best of food.

Whet your appetite on this sample from the caterers’ menu: smoked salmon from the Atlantic, olives, oysters, pâtés and terrines, smoked beef, pork, sausages, ham, lobster, several types of cheeses, gateaux, the best of wines, champagne and Cognac.

The earl used the “suppliers to the King” — Louis XVI, the man who would soon lose his head — to buy his tailored clothes, wigs, opera glasses and spectacles. Lady Kerry, meanwhile, frequented Marie Antoinette’s preferred designer and hatmaker, and was fond of perfume, lingerie and expensive jewels.

If you were to make it up, you might draw the line at the couple’s daily jaunts around revolutionary Paris in their luxurious four-wheeled carriage, which was emblazoned with the Kerry coat of arms and attended by liveried coachmen with powdered wigs.

The common people in Paris could not afford to buy bread while, back in north Kerry, the tenants on the earl’s once-large estate of 90,000 acres were living in cabins, eking out a miserable living to pay rents that did not even come close to funding Lord and Lady Kerry’s extravagant lifestyle.

Despite mounting debts, the spending continued and, by 1818, Francis Fitzmaurice had squandered his family’s titles, estates, wealth and lands, putting an end to a dynasty that had been Kerry’s most powerful family since their arrival in the county in the 13th century.

The story is told in fascinating and vivid detail by historian and genealogist Kay Caball in her new book, The Fall of the Fitzmaurices: The Demise of Kerry’s First Family. (Read more.)


Friday, February 19, 2021


The Amazon Queen Thalestris in the camp of Alexander the Great, Johann Georg Platzer

From Live Science:

Were the Amazons of ancient Greek mythology — fierce female warriors said to have roamed a vast area around the Black Sea known as Scythia — real? Or were they as fictitious as other Greek myths, such as Aphrodite emerging from genitals thrown into the sea or Jason stealing a golden fleece?

Modern historians assumed that the Amazons, first documented by the poet Homer in the eighth century B.C., were fantasy. But then, in the 1990s, archaeologists began identifying ancient female skeletons buried in warrior graves in the same region.  

Some skeletons were found with combat injuries, such as arrowheads embedded in their bones, and were buried with weapons that matched those held by Amazons in ancient Greek artwork, according to Adrienne Mayor, a research scholar in the classics department and History of Science Program at Stanford University. 

"Thanks to archaeology, we now know that Amazon myths, once thought to be fantasy, contain accurate details about steppe nomad women, who were the historical counterparts of mythic Amazons," Mayor, who is also the author of "The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World" (Princeton University Press, 2014), told Live Science in an email. (Read more.)


More HERE.


London and the EU

 From The Spectator:

The Cassandras have had to eat their words following their predictions that there would be tens of thousands of Brexit-induced job losses in the City after 2016. The Financial Times’s own survey shows that rather than delivering a big hit to financial services, nine of the world’s largest asset managers have ramped up their headcount in the capital by 35 per cent over the past five years, and most international banks have also increased staff, including French BNP Paribas. Of course, asset managers have set up EU funds to be able to sell to European investors post Brexit, but the numbers are limited.

It would have been a major challenge to the City if the EU had prepared for Brexit by developing a single European financial centre to encourage deeper capital markets and an accompanying financial eco-system of lawyers, accountants and fintech companies. In fact the reverse has happened. Rather as with Napoleon’s 1806 blockade, the continent has splintered. Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and Amsterdam have each taken a share of the underwhelming relocations, allowing the City to divide and rule among increasingly fragmented European capital markets by sheer dint of volume and concentration of high value business.

It is the clustering in London that cannot be recreated easily. By way of illustration, on Monday Le Monde carried a piece about the creditable performance of French high-tech start-ups achieving the coveted billion-dollar valuation – ‘unicorn’ status – and their ability to attract finance. The figures speak volumes. In 2020 France had 10 ‘unicorn’ companies, Germany 15, and the UK 26 – the third highest globally. On the crucial issue of finance, UK start-ups attracted £11 billion in funding, France £4.7 billion, and Germany £4.5 billion. But even then, it seems that much of the European financing came via London.

When the Governor of the Bank of France, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, detailed France’s four great financial challenges for 2021, Brexit was top. After his embarrassing miscalculation about relocations after Brexit, the Governor now estimates that just 2,500 staff and £148 billion assets have moved from London to Paris (with no mention of French transfers to London). But he knows only too well that these British relocations and virtual asset transfers are there to allow the City to continue selling its own packages to EU clients after ‘passporting’ ended on 1 January.

Ignoring European financial fragmentation since 2016, the bank chief affirmed that it was ‘now or never’ to construct ‘European financial autonomy’, especially for derivatives trading where he claimed, somewhat audaciously, that Paris had advantages. Similar Paris exhortations were uttered at Britain’s accession to the EEC in 1973, after the ‘Big Bang’ in 1986 and the creation of the Euro in 1999.

In the mild-mannered world of central bank governors, the aristocratic Villeroy de Galhau was probably not expecting the riposte three weeks later from his colleague at the Bank of England. In a speech last week, Andrew Bailey – clearly taking a leaf from the UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost’s book – did some plain speaking to Paris and Brussels about forthcoming financial negotiations, particularly around granting ‘equivalence’ status to the UK.

Bailey accused the EU of holding the UK to standards it would ‘not agree to be held to itself’, of wishing to apply discriminatory restrictions not applied to other financial centres and insisted that the UK would not be a post-Brexit ‘rule-taker’. It was ‘not acceptable when UK rules govern a system ten times the size of the UK GDP’. He might have politely added that given the City is one of the world’s biggest financial hubs it is stretching credibility for it to be a ‘rule taker’, when EU cities hardly make the top ten. Indeed, the recent risible claim from the FT that ‘Amsterdam ousts London as Europe’s top share trading hub’ was briskly debunked by the economist Gerard Lyons, who pointed out that most EU trading is a subset of the international trading that takes place in London, not to mention derivatives and currency trading where London is the global leader on which the EU is cruelly dependent. (Read more.)


The Race to the Dan

 From Journal of the American Revolution:

Like most of the war in the south, the Race to the Dan is overshadowed by Yorktown. The mere fact that George Washington was not a participant relegates the story to a second-tier status. The Race, however, holds unique challenges for the historian and the storyteller. It occurred over more than two hundred miles, depending on how you count it, rather than at one identifiable spot. Nathanael Greene’s genius is to be found in his mastery of logistics and strategy, which are subjects that make many people’s eyes glaze over. Though heroic and difficult, it was still a retreat and retreats don’t lend themselves to celebration. Its significance is not so much in what it achieved but rather in what it made possible, which requires detailed explanation.

Consequently, the Race to the Dan has been given short shrift for more than two centuries. It is mentioned in the war’s histories, but almost never in detail. In writing this book, Mr. Waters was determined to correct that and he has succeeded. One can’t resist noting the appropriateness his name: the waterways of the Carolinas play a central role in the story. He makes plain from the beginning that the story is personal to him. He is a conservationist and doctoral candidate in South Carolina who has made a career of conserving the Palmetto State’s watersheds. “Rivers are my business,” he says at the very beginning of the book. He also plainly declares, “We all need heroes, and . . . Greene has become one of mine.”[2]

Mr. Waters holds out John Buchanan as the lone historian who has previously given the story proper attention and he credits the publication of The Papers of Nathanael Greene, completed in 2005, with making his own work possible. He is a gifted storyteller with a unique style. French military terminology appears frequently. He often addresses his readers directly, reminding us sometimes to recall important bits of context. He uses contractions where other writers are more formal. The result is a book that is intelligent but unaffected, written by an author who is more interested in drawing us in to his passion than in demonstrating how much he knows. It is a pleasure to read.

When Major General Greene took command of the Continental Army’s Southern Department, he inherited a string of failures. Horatio Gates had been humiliated at Camden. Abraham Buford had been clobbered at the Waxhaws. Benjamin Lincoln had surrendered at Charleston. The Department’s first commander, Charles Lee, oversaw a tremendous victory at Sullivan’s Island in 1776 but deserved little credit for it. The Carolinas’ real successes had been achieved by state and militia forces. William Moultrie had won on Sullivan’s Island by defying Lee’s instructions. The Overmountain Men had won at King’s Mountain without a Continental officer in sight. Locals like the Swamp Fox (Francis Marion) and the Carolina Gamecock (Thomas Sumter) had kept the cause alive while most of the Continental lines from Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina sat imprisoned at Charleston. (Read more.)


Thursday, February 18, 2021

A View from Abroad: The Story of John and Abigail Adams in Europe

From University of Denver Magazine:

Most people look at the American founders as mythical figures of almost superhuman proportion and assume that the success of the American Revolution and the republic was inevitable. I have been fascinated by the fact that the creation of the American republic was in reality simply a grand experiment and that the founders, for all of their pivotal accomplishments, were at the same time very human, with all the flaws and frailties that all people exhibit. John and Abigail Adams were indeed a remarkable couple, but they were also ordinary people who had to deal with family and economic issues, and the severe health challenges, including devastating epidemics, that all their contemporaries faced during the era. (Read more.)


The Harm to America

 Sidney Powell speaks. Listen HERE. To quote:

Sidney Powell served in the Department of Justice for 10 years and for the last 20 years has devoted her private practice to federal appeals. She was the youngest Assistant U.S Attorney and later became Chief of the Appellate Section for the Western and Northern Districts of Texas. Sidney Powell is recognized by her peers as a “Super Lawyer” and named as one of the “Best Lawyers in America”. Her Amazon best-selling book Licensed To Lie reads like a legal thriller. Her latest book is CONVICTION MACHINE: Standing Up to Prosecutorial Abuse. Learn the TRUTH about the 2020 election and what it means to America.


Royal Purple

 They claim Jesus wore it but only during His Passion. From The BBC:

A purple dye dating back to the...reign of the Biblical King David has been identified on a piece of fabric by Israeli archaeologists. The dye is said to have been more valuable than gold and was associated with royalty. It is the first time textile from that period with the colour has been found in the region. Israel Antiquities Authority expert Dr Naama Sukenik called it a "very exciting and important discovery". The fragment was unearthed during excavations at a site in Timna, about 220km (137 miles) south of Jerusalem.

"In antiquity, purple attire was associated with the nobility, with priests, and of course with royalty," said Dr Sukenik.

"The gorgeous shade of the purple, the fact that it does not fade, and the difficulty in producing the dye, which is found in minute quantities in the body of molluscs, all made it the most highly valued of the dyes, which often cost more than gold." (Read more.)