Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Time for a Restoration

From The Catholic Thing:

The destruction of churches and art is strikingly similar to another area where beauty is under attack: women. Women have been made to be beautiful and have been the subjects of great art for millennia for good reason. It was International Women’s Day yesterday, but sadly, since the 1960s and 70s, true feminine beauty has been transformed into raw sex appeal. New trends in third-wave feminism and its fourth wave, the LGBTQ+ movement, have maintained high-pitched sexuality, but also splintered off into a different direction – the rejection of the feminine entirely and the embrace of genderlessness.

It’s human nature that, as women, we’re susceptible to trends. It’s seen as a virtue to be breezily trendy or to look as if you stepped out of a fashion magazine. But trends aren’t limited to fabric colors and hairstyles. They extend deeply into patterns of thought and behavior.

One well-documented current trend – a sort of social contagion among high-school and college women – is to venture into the world of testosterone injections and gender-fluidity. Planned Parenthood has pivoted to accommodate the new demand for body-altering hormones. One employee expressed how deeply conflicted she feels seeing the degree of casualness with which young girls are now seeking such dire physical alterations. It’s not unusual for girls to head there in groups, much like they did to get their ears pierced thirty years ago, but this time motivated by deep pain and confusion about who and what they are.

Other trends beyond hormones and selective hacking off of body parts include looking butch, piercing as many body parts as possible, and covering oneself in tats. Here is a 2018 slideshow of before-and-afters of young girls’ transformations (warning, includes explicit images). The saddest part about these trends is that, unlike renovating a church, many of these changes can’t be undone – it is very difficult to reset a female body after years of male hormone therapy and breast-removal surgery. It is also a challenge to heal the trauma from the lifestyles that often accompany these outward changes. (Read more.)


Abortion is Unconstitutional

 From First Things:

Plainly, there is an individual, a human being, as soon as there is a living individual in the mother’s womb. For some purposes (guardianship, for example) the law treats such an individual, even at that beginning stage, as equal to a born child. For other purposes, notably direct protection of the right to personal security by the criminal law, the life of the unborn begins “in contemplation of law” only when the “infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.” But an English statute of 1803, only a generation after Blackstone, made it a felony to attempt abortion even before the child was provably “quick.” Thus, by the dawn of the nineteenth century, English criminal law “established” the “great fundamental right” uniquely important for an unborn child, beginning when the child did: at conception. (Read more.)


Ethan Allen’s Daughter

 From The National Catholic Register:

Sister Frances Margaret (Fanny) Allen of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph died on Sept. 10, 1819 in Montreal at the Hotel-Dieu, the hospital and convent founded by Venerable Jerome Le Royer, Venerable Marie de la Ferre, and Jeanne Mance. She was a Vermonter in Canada, the first woman from New England to become a Catholic religious, and the daughter of deist, rationalist, and American Revolutionary hero, Ethan Allen.

Fanny Allen was born on November 13, 1784. Her father died when she was four years old and her mother, also named Fanny, remarried (to Dr. Jabez Penniman). Neither the Allen nor the Penniman household was particularly religious. In the midst of the great religious revivals in the British colonies and the post-revolutionary period, Ethan Allen had written and self-published Reason: The Only Oracle of Man (1785). So few copies sold that the printer demanded more money to cover his losses. Fanny laughed through her baptism ceremony when she was an adult. Her mother insisted she be baptized by an Episcopalian minister in 1805 before she went to Catholic Montreal to study French. The minister, Daniel Barber, did not appreciate her mirth. (Read more.)


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Stories in Stone and Mist


 From Victoria:

Amid the atmospheric moors and verdant knolls of the Emerald Isle, venerable edifices rise through the hazy dawn like ancient apparitions. When opportunities for travel return, these steadfast keepers of history and lore stand ready to welcome visitors as stalwart reminders of Ireland’s enduring and enchanting narrative. Surrounded by 840 acres, including formal gardens and pristine parklands, this Gothic Revival gem abounds with rich heritage. With its soaring ceilings, walls draped with tapestries, and stained glass windows tracing the noble lineage of those who formerly inhabited Adare Manor, the space balances monumental scale and exquisite detail. (Read more.)


Teen Depression

 From Science News for Students:

People are diagnosed with depression when they experience at least five of nine main symptoms. These include depressed mood and loss of interest or enjoyment in activities. Altered sleep patterns and appetite. Overall low energy. Anxiety and trouble concentrating. Feelings of guilt or low self-worth and thoughts about death. Some are more common than others, but few people experience all of them.

The various mixes of these symptoms number in the hundreds, Gotlib says. And that can make depression tricky to treat. Treatment that works for a teen with one set of symptoms might not work for an adult with a different set. Depression researchers are learning that different changes in the brain may be tied to specific symptoms. When those changes happen during adolescence, they can lead to long-term mental-health issues. But there’s good news, too. The flexibility of the developing brain means teens may be able to prevent long-term problems if they seek help. (Read more.)


Ancient Female Philosophers

 From The Conversation:

Aspasia of Miletus (most active around 400 BCE) was the most famous woman in Classical Athens — or should we say infamous? Although a foreigner, she became the mistress of Pericles, the leader of Athens at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War.

She was not only remembered for her captivating beauty, but also for her captivating mind. Socrates himself called Aspasia his teacher and relates he learned from her how to construct persuasive speeches. After all, he tells us, she wrote them for Pericles.

She plays a verbal role in at least three philosophical dialogues written by students of Socrates: Plato’s Menexenus and the fragmentary Aspasia dialogues by Aeschines and Antisthenes. (Read more.)


Monday, March 29, 2021

Gudrid: The Far Traveler

From Breakpoint:

As her name indicates, Gudrid was the daughter of Thorbjorn, a Viking chieftain in Iceland. A man named Einar proposed to Gudrid, but Thorbjorn refused on the grounds that Einar’s father was a slave. Instead, Gudrid married Thorir, a Norwegian merchant.

The family left Iceland for Greenland with Erik the Red, but bad weather delayed their arrival until winter. According to the Saga of the Greenlanders, Leif Erikson rescued Gudrid and fifteen men and brought them to Brattahlid, Erik the Red’s colony. Thorir died of illness that winter, leaving Gudrid a widow.

One winter in Greenland during a period of dearth, Gudrid was invited to the home of a chieftain named Thorkel. A seeress named Thorbjorg came to prophesy, but she needed women to sing a “weird-song” (i.e. a magical enchantment). Gudrid admitted to having been taught the weird-songs by her foster-mother Halldis, but she refused to do so because she was a Christian. Thorbjorg and Thorkel pressured her to sing, and she gave in and sang the weird-song with an exceptionally beautiful voice according to the Saga of Erik the Red.

Some sources attempt to date Gudrid’s conversion to much later in her life after she returned to Iceland. However, this story shows that she came to her Christian faith early in life, probably in her childhood. Christian missionaries had arrived in Iceland in 980, about the year of her birth. They made only slow progress at first, though after Olaf Tryggvason, a native of Iceland, became king of Norway, he put increasing pressure on the Icelanders to convert, including banning trade with Iceland until they became Christians, taking hostages and threatening to kill them, and the like. In 1000, Christianity was made the official religion in Iceland. (Read more.)


From Smithsonian:

As a 17-year-old widow, Gudrid could’ve chosen where to live and whom, if anyone, she would wed next. Both sagas report that she decides to marry the Icelandic merchant Thorfinn Karlsefni, whose nickname means “the makings of a man.”

Gudrid sails to the New World with Thorfinn. There, they have a son, Snorri, and after three years, sail back home. Though one saga has the young family taking a detour to Norway, both accounts ultimately find Gudrid back in Iceland at a farm called Glaumbaer.

It’s only in Greenlanders that we hear what happens to Gudrid next. Now a much older woman, somewhere in her 40s or 50s, she embarks on a pilgrimage to Rome, making the journey almost entirely on foot before returning to her farm to live out her days as a “nun and recluse.” (Scholars aren’t entirely sure what being a Viking nun looked like in the early 11th century, as Brown points out in her biography of Gudrid.)

The Gudrid presented in both sagas is dignified and sensible. In Eirik, she’s the “fairest of women” and has a lovely singing voice. In Greenlanders, she’s described as knowing “well how to carry herself among strangers”—a reference to a later scene in which she speaks to an Indigenous North American woman. (Read more.)


45-Year Low in Human Smuggling — Now It’s All Back

 From The Gateway Pundit:

Brandon Judd: It’s human smugglers who have absolutely no regard for life and it the administration who is allowing these smugglers to generate billions of dollars in profit becaust they’re not securing the border like the last administration did. We were able to stop this huge flood, to go to 45 year lows in illegal smuggling of humans just to get it all back once the election was finalized. (Read more.)


From Dan Bongino:

The rationale behind this request is that Congress appropriated 1.4 billion dollars for building the wall as part of the December 2020 Coronavirus stimulus package and Joe Biden doesn’t unilaterally have the authority to scuttle it. So, what happens from here?

GAO managing director of public affairs said that it will take weeks for GAO to fully investigate this, and at that point, they’ll make a ruling. If the ruling is against Biden, which seems entirely possible, there are unlikely to be any legal penalties for him. He will just have to spend the money and the Biden Administration has said they’re willing to do that. The best guess is they’d want to spend it on expenditures related to the wall instead of putting a new section of the wall in place. They might make repairs, fix roads nearby, make more cages for the illegal kids that are pouring in, etc.

However, the argument from Republicans is that Congress specifically set that money aside for building new sections of the wall and that’s what must be done with it. We probably won’t know more about how this will play out until the GAO ruling, but it is now possible that Joe Biden will be required to build a small portion of Donald Trump’s wall. (Read more.)

Also from Dan Bongino:

Of course, Obrador is dramatically underselling it. Biden didn’t just change “expectations,” he made changes to policies. He got rid of Trump’s remain in Mexico program that was stopping many illegals before they ever got here. He told the world he didn’t intend to deport anyone, didn’t want more security on the border, and wanted to make illegals citizens. If you are inclined to break the law by coming to the United States, you are never going to have a softer touch than Joe Biden in office. Just about the only thing he hasn’t done is sent squads of soldiers down to South America to force people to come here at gunpoint.

As a practical matter, we don’t have a border with Mexico right now. Illegals, drug dealers, terrorists, and criminals are allowed to come in and go where they please. It is a dangerous state of affairs, it’s bad for the country and it’s an incredibly radical policy designed to change the demographic make-up of the country, undermine the rule of the law and help the Democrats in future elections. It’s not a policy someone who puts their country first would ever support. (Read more.)


More HERE.


The Best of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

 From ClassicFM:

British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is famous for rich orchestral works and brilliant instrumental writing. Here’s where to start with his music. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was an English composer and conductor, known for his Violin Concerto in G minor, The Song of Hiawatha and his arrangement of African-American spiritual, ‘Deep River’.

A contemporary of British composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst, he studied with Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College of Music in London. He first gained recognition for his ‘Ballade in A Minor’, which publisher August Jaeger described as “genius”.

Here’s where to start with discovering Coleridge-Taylor’s rich orchestral music and brilliant instrumental works. (Read more.)


Read more: Who was Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, the English composer referred to as ‘Black Mahler’?


Sunday, March 28, 2021


I have a weak spot for A-frames since there was one at the lake where we went for vacation in Canada. From Contemporist:
Crump Architects has designed a small A-framed cabin for two boys and their neighborhood friends. The ‘hideout’ is surrounded by Australian bushland and is positioned between a gum tree on one side and a hill on the other. The architects explain that the cabin was largely built from recycled materials, including a recently demolished carport, and was an exercise in getting the most – from as little as possible.(Read more.)

Notre Dame’s Rebuilding

 From TFP:

Something about Notre Dame Cathedral overwhelms and fascinates the postmodern mind. Even in its present damaged state, the charred building commands the world’s attention. The cathedral’s authenticity prevailed over all attempts to disfigure it with a restoration of brutal modernistic redesigns.

When the spire and roof burned and collapsed on that fateful April 15, 2019, everyone was transfixed by the event. It was a day when the world wept, as something of France’s soul seemed lost. Outpourings of condolences and financial support arrived from around the world.

Now, as the first oaks are selected for the rebuilding, the world looks on in awe. Media everywhere carried stories on the selection process and felling ceremony. This is no ordinary project; it touches the Catholic soul of France and the world.

The intense interest in the reconstruction process is a reminder of the Church’s tremendous power over souls. Despite the apocalyptical crisis of faith within the Church, things like Notre Dame speak to the shallow emptiness of today’s postmodernity. The poor metaphysical orphans of this lost century crave the beauty, depth and sublimity that only the Church can offer. (Read more.)


“Pro-Choice” is a Misnomer

 Life News:

Moreover, it can be difficult to talk “choice” when a woman is coerced into having an abortion by a husband, boyfriend, parent, or even a grandparent. When, as research indicates, as many as 60% of abortions are coerced, the so-called “choice” is often made by someone other than the mother of the child.

Still, what finally made me abandon the term “pro-choice” was the recognition that anyone who laid claim to the term was campaigning to shore up the abortion industry—to continue the tragedy known as abortion on demand. Pro-choicers were making a conscious decision to see that the abortion trade continues, in spite of the fact that abortion takes one innocent life and leaves a mother to grieve the loss of an irreplaceable child.

It is fascinating to note that many abortion advocates themselves are abandoning the “pro-choice” terminology and instead embracing phrases such as “reproductive justice” or “repro rights.” In a real sense these new monikers are even more deceptive than “pro-choice.” But, no matter what you call it, the result is the same—more than 62 million preborn children’s lives tragically ended. (Read more.)


English National Opera Announces New Ring Cycle

 From OperaWire:

The English National Opera has announced a new Ring Cycle. The company announced that Richard Jones will direct the production and will be conducted by Martyn Brabbins. It was also confirmed that the Metropolitan Opera will coproduce the production.

The production will mark the first time the ENO stages the tetralogy in 15 years. The ENO will present the complete Ring Cycle over the next five years.

“The Valkyrie” will be presented this Autumn, subject to any further lockdown restrictions. “Rhinegold” will premiere in 2022-23 followed by a reprise of “The Valkyrie,” and new productions of “Siegfried” and “Twilight of the Gods” in 2024 and 2025 consecutively.

The production will be designed by Stewart Laing with Adam Silverman as Lighting Designer, Sarah Fahie as Movement Director, and Akhila Krishnan as Video Designer.

In a statement, ENO’s Artistic Director Annilese Miskimmon said, “It is thrilling to announce this new ENO Ring Cycle, starting with Valkyrie this Autumn. Richard Jones’s theatrical vision is designed to be emotionally and narratively gripping both for long-time Wagner-lovers and for those seeing this amazing opera for the first time.  This epic story of a rebellious warrior maiden who defies the gods in defense of humanity combines myth with modernity alongside some of the most powerful and recognizable operatic music ever written. An unmissable experience for opera lovers old and new, we are delighted to welcome them all to the London Coliseum to join us at the beginning of this Wagner journey through the complete Ring over the next 5 years.” (Read more.)


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Botticelli’s Depiction of Dante’s Inferno

 From Medium:

In the 15th century, Botticelli (the pioneer of colorful and aesthetically pleasing paintings including The Birth of Venus and Primavera) was commissioned to depict Dante’s Divine Comedy on canvas. Translating words of such a complex narrative was not only an ambitious project but also a time-consuming activity. Unsurprisingly, it almost took a decade for Botticelli to interpret and visualize each canto and create a thematic sequence of drawings.

These drawings were lost for more than 400 years until in the 19th century, eighty-five sheets were found and auctioned by the Scottish Duke of Hamilton to Friedrich Lippmann, then the Director of the Berlin Kupferstichkabinet. The rest seven of the drawings were found in the Vatican with the Map of Hell housed in the Vatican collection.

This article would explore the conception and technique of the Divine Comedy drawings, Botticelli’s pictorial depiction of Dante’s Inferno, and what motivated Botticelli to paint such dark and disturbing drawings of hell. (Read more.)


Botching the Border


A Mysterious, Recipe-Filled Diary From 1968

 From Atlas Obscura:

One hot day in May 2019, Georgie Williams went to a South London market to buy antique furniture for her new place. Later, within the vintage cabinet she brought home, she found something intriguing: a brown booklet, with Official Diary 1968: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office inscribed on the cover. Inside, she discovered 150 handwritten recipes, scribbled down by a mysterious cook.

Williams was stunned by the hard work the diary owner had dedicated to preserving her beloved recipes. Apart from recipes and tips, the 365-page diary had personal notes, cooking notes, magazine cut-outs, and names with phone numbers that Williams speculates may have belonged to cooking teachers. (Read more.)


Friday, March 26, 2021

Schoolteacher’s Coup

From Brownstoner:

Made of brick and stone with a bay and round-arched windows, the 1899 Romanesque Revival/Neo-Renaissance home was neglected but intact when they bought it from an out-of-town relative of the previous occupants, who’d lived there since the 1920s. Although unoccupied, it was completely furnished.

“We crossed out ‘broom swept’ on the contract of sale and told them they could leave anything they wanted, so there was a lot of junk and papers but they left a lot of nice pieces,” said Bob. Finds included a sideboard in the dining room, a library table in the middle parlor, light fixtures and even some jewelry.

The three-story, single-family house has an expansive parlor floor with all manner of woodwork, including a coffered ceiling, and fireplaces with colorful tile spread over its three parlors and library. Upstairs among the bedrooms is a well-preserved bathroom with a skylight, original tile, claw-foot tub and handsome 1910 pedestal sink.

On the garden floor is a well-appointed dining room with paneling and a built-in sideboard. The kitchen, in the rear overlooking the garden, was little changed when they first saw it, with a built-in dish cupboard and a row of deep soapstone laundry sinks. As most Brooklyn row houses of its era have, out back was a shed with a dubious foundation and a tiny room with a toilet but no sink. “It was really literally a dirty hole,” Elaine said. (Read more.)


Biden Blames Trump

 From The Daily Signal:

To end the problem, the Trump administration sought help from Congress in the form of additional funding to build the border wall; an end to the Flores Agreement, which a single federal judge expanded over the decades into an unrealistic order that children could not be detained more than 20 days; and a legislative fix so that the Department of Homeland Security could treat unaccompanied alien children from Central America the same as those from Mexico.

Congress refused. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and others on the left denied there was a border crisis (sound familiar?) and the government shut down in a stalemate.

The Trump administration had to end the crisis on its own. Choosing a heretofore unused, but statutorily authorized “Remain in Mexico” program, it negotiated with Mexico to house migrants seeking U.S. asylum on the Mexico side of the border during their pending court proceedings.

When would-be migrants learned claiming fear alone was no longer their ticket into the U.S., the caravans stopped coming.

The Trump administration also used leverage with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to negotiate Asylum Cooperative Agreements that resulted in those countries (and Mexico) enforcing their own borders to prevent migrant flows, building up their own asylum systems, and receiving nationals back who traversed their country, but had not requested asylum before seeking it at the U.S. border.

In short, the Trump administration imposed consequences for illegal immigration and ended “catch and release.”

It worked.

The number of Customs and Border Protection encounters rapidly declined to 52,000 by September 2019, and fell further to 36,000 in February 2020, before COVID-19 travel restrictions were imposed. (Read more.)

Observations of Womanhood in the Homeric Epics

 From Inquiries:

In summary, the Homeric epics The Iliad and The Odyssey utilized the motifs of storytelling and the loom to demonstrate the ideal and unideal poles on the Ancient Greek spectrum of femininity. In the same way women of the era were defined by the men surrounding them, ideal and unideal femininity were defined by their relationships to male dominance. Helen’s storytelling and weaving exhibited her desire to gain agency and reject the narrative forced upon her, therefore disrupting male dominance; meanwhile, Penelope’s storytelling and weaving exemplified her loyalty to her husband, supporting male dominance. However, Helen and Penelope were not foils of one another, nor did they themselves represent the poles of femininity -- merely their actions did. While “wise” and “prudent”23 Penelope embodied ideal femininity almost exclusively, “lovely haired”24 yet “accursed”25 Helen exhibited aspects of both ideal and unideal femininity. The construction of each character signifies the complexity the Homeric poets desired each one to have, despite their statuses in the Ancient Greek world as inferior to men. Although female characters rarely received the spotlight in either epic, the subtle ways in which the poets revealed their contributions to the plotlines signified that there would simply be no epics without the actions of women. (Read more.)


Thursday, March 25, 2021

A Street Scene In Montmartre


From BBC:
A Street Scene In Montmartre has been owned by a French family for most of the time since it was painted in 1887. Sotheby's estimates it could fetch up to eight million euros (£6.9m) when it is sold at auction next month.

Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey told BBC News that this is "the first time we are able to see it properly".

Small reproductions have been made in the past, often in black-and-white. "What is exciting is that it is a Van Gogh painting which has been hidden away ever since it came off the artist's easel," Mr Bailey said.

"It has always been in private collections, so only the owners and their friends knew it.

"It is an interesting picture because it is a transitional work between Van Gogh's Dutch years, when he painted in dark, earthy colours, and the exuberant works that he did in Provence. It was in Paris that he discovered the Impressionists, and this led him to explore colour." (Read more.)

Catholic Politicians and Canon 1375

 From Fr. John Hollowell at Crisis:

There has been much discussion in recent years regarding what the Catholic Church can do about self-identified Catholic politicians who support policies considered gravely immoral by the Church. Most of the conversation has centered around Canon 915, which states that those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Debate in the Catholic Church has focused on whether Catholic politicians who vote in favor of expanding grave evils are guilty of manifest (public) grave sin. But it is another canon—Canon 1375—that might become more applicable for disciplining Catholic politicians.

The argument for applying Canon 915 is most commonly applied to Catholic politicians supporting legalized abortion. In his 2002 Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, then-Cardinal Ratzinger argued in paragraph 4: “When political activity comes up against moral principles that do not admit of exception, compromise or derogation, the Catholic commitment becomes more evident and laden with responsibility. In the face of fundamental and inalienable ethical demands, Christians must recognize that what is at stake is the essence of the moral law, which concerns the integral good of the human person. This is the case with laws concerning abortion.” (Read more.)

Why Shirley Jackson is a Reader’s Writer

 From LitHub:

Jackson is one of American fiction’s impossible presences, too material to be called a phantom in literature’s house, too in-print to be “rediscovered,” yet hidden in plain sight. She’s both perpetually underrated and persistently mischaracterized as a writer of upscale horror, when in truth a slim minority of her works had any element of the supernatural (Henry James wrote more ghost stories). While celebrated by reviewers throughout her career, she wasn’t welcomed into any canon or school; she’s been no major critic’s fetish.

Sterling in her craft, Jackson is prized by the writers who read her, yet it would be self-congratulatory to claim her as a writer’s writer. Rather, Shirley Jackson has thrived, at publication and since, as a reader’s writer. Her most famous works—“The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House—are more famous than her name, and have sunk into cultural memory as timeless artifacts, seeming older than they are, with the resonance of myth or archetype. The same aura of folkloric familiarity attaches to less-celebrated writing: the stories “Charles” and “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts” (you’ve read one of these two tales, though you may not know it), and her last novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Though she teased at explanations of sorcery in both her life and in her art (an early dust-flap biography called her “a practicing amateur witch,” and she seems never to have shaken the effects of this debatable publicity strategy), Jackson’s great subject was precisely the opposite of paranormality. The relentless, undeniable core of her writing—her six completed novels and the 20-odd fiercest of her stories—conveys a vast intimacy with everyday evil, with the pathological undertones of prosaic human configurations: a village, a family, a self. She disinterred the wickedness in normality, cataloging the ways conformity and repression tip into psychosis, persecution, and paranoia, into cruelty and its masochistic, injury-cherishing twin. (Read more.)


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Orpheus Sinfonia

The Swing by Fragonard

 From Culture Whisper:

Music and visual art meet in perfect harmony in a series of five concerts inspired by the Wallace Collection, where the Orpheus Sinfonia and gallery experts appear side by side. Four centuries of art and music unfold over two months with introductions by Wallace Collection director Xavier Bray. To launch the Synergy Season of streamed concerts, he takes a close look at Canaletto, as the spirited Orpheus Sinfonia conjures up the artist's bustling 18th-century Venice in the music of Vivaldi (Sun 21 March, 6PM and on demand). Works include the bubbly Oboe Concerto in A, with soloist Peter Facer.

Next, the team turn to the Wallace Collection's fizzing Rococo treasures, including Fragonard’s The Swing and spectacular Meissen vases, to the accompaniment of music by Rameau, Couperin and Gluck (Sun 4 April at 6PM). The Wallace Collection is famous for its formidable collection of arms and armour. Cue an evening of martial music, Ceremony and Battle (Sun 19 April, 6PM). The brass and percussion of the Orpheus Sinfonia let rip in fanfares and rallying cries, and are in reflective mood for the funeral marches. (Read more.)


Craftsmanship Can Save the World

 From Joseph Pearce at The Imaginative Conservative:

“Right before me, in full view and in all its perfection, was that work of beauty, no, that miracle, the Cologne Cathedral. More than its intricate ornamentation, it was its spiritual depth that struck me, its towers and spires striving up to the heavens. I gasped, and stared with my mouth open…” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s description of the moment that he first set eyes on the Gothic splendor of Cologne Cathedral echoes the way that countless others have seen it across the centuries. It takes our breath away. It lifts up the heart and the mind to the heavens. Its spires inspire us, pointing us upwards towards higher things. It is, in this sense, a prayer, a praising of God in stone and form. An edifice that edifies.

And what is true of Cologne Cathedral is true of Chartres, or Saint Peter’s Basilica, or countless other churches and cathedrals with which Christendom has blessed us. When we see them we experience the kiss of beauty shining forth goodness and truth.

When we ponder the presence of such splendor, we should be moved to rejoice not only in the finished work of architecture but in the work of men’s hands which had made it possible. What skill and craftsmanship were necessary to bring forth such masterpieces of stone and glass!

Such thoughts come to mind when considering the radical vision of a new college in Charleston, South Carolina. The American College of the Building Arts (ACBA) is unlike any college that I know. Indeed it is the only school in the entire country offering a four-year degree in traditional craftsmanship. “Along with pens, paper, books, and computers, students here learn with trowels, chisels, hammers, and anvils,” writes Logan Ward in the current issue of Garden & Gun. “They shape timbers into soaring architectural statements, carve fireplace mantels from limestone, twist red-hot iron into filigreed gates.” (Read more.)

Changing Name for Earth’s Changing Poles

 From Eos:

Every now and then (on a scale of hundreds of thousands of years), Earth’s magnetic field does a flip-flop: Magnetic north becomes magnetic south and vice versa. In between these major realignments, the magnetic poles wander over shorter distances, throwing models of Earth’s magnetic field off kilter. A record of these polar wanderings, the paleomagnetic timescale, is preserved in successive layers of volcanic and sedimentary rocks. Scientists take great pains to ensure that they interpret this record accurately. Unfortunately, they have not been as careful with their spelling.

 Occasional shorter polarity reversals or large perturbations of the magnetic field are called excursions, events, or microchrons [Laj and Channell, 2007; Roberts, 2008]. The first evidence of such a geomagnetic excursion was identified by Bonhommet and Babkine [1967] in lava and volcanic features from the Chaîne des Puys, a volcanic chain near the village of Laschamps in the Auvergne region of central France.

Signs of this reversal have since been observed in volcanic and sedimentary rocks in many places around the world, and the event has, logically, been incorporated into paleomagnetic timescales as the Laschamp excursion. The most recent—and we hope the most accurate—dating by Guillou et al. [2004] indicated that the excursion occurred about 40,000 years ago; its duration was probably less than 2,000 years [Laj and Channell, 2007; Roberts, 2008]. (Read more.)


From The Weather Channel:

Before us—the modern human beings or Homo sapiens—tens of thousands of years ago, the planet was dominated by an ancient sibling of ours called Neanderthals or Homo neanderthalensis. While their existence dates back to at least 200,000 years ago, Neanderthals went extinct roughly 40,000 years ago. Several theories have emerged in recent years explaining the cause of their extinction—from climate change to a deadly disease.

Now, the latest study has offered a completely different explanation for the demise of Neanderthals. Roughly 42,000 years ago, Earth’s magnetic poles reversed, leading to dramatic changes in the Earth’s life history. This period is dubbed the Laschamp Excursion. Coincidentally, the extinction of Neanderthals coincides with this period and hence the new research indicated a possible link. (Read more.)

From SciTechDaily:

The temporary breakdown of Earth’s magnetic field 42,000 years ago sparked major climate shifts that led to global environmental change and mass extinctions, a new international study co-led by UNSW Sydney and the South Australian Museum shows. This dramatic turning point in Earth’s history – laced with electrical storms, widespread auroras, and cosmic radiation – was triggered by the reversal of Earth’s magnetic poles and changing solar winds.

The researchers dubbed this danger period the ‘Adams Transitional Geomagnetic Event’, or ‘Adams Event’ for short – a tribute to science fiction writer Douglas Adams, who wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that ‘42’ was the answer to life, the universe, and everything. The findings were published on February 19, 2021, in the journal Science. (Read more.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Arthurian Stamps from Royal Mail


From East of the Sun, West of the Moon. More from Linn's Stamp News:

New stamps of Great Britain illustrate scenes from the legend of King Arthur. Royal Mail issued this set of 10 stamps March 16.

Royal Mail said: “The Legend of King Arthur is one of the most enduring stories of all time. Though his tale is rooted in the fifth and sixth centuries, it has captivated people for a millennium and a half, with its sword in the stone, knights of the round table and the wizard Merlin. At least 50 films and hundreds of novels have been produced about the story, which over centuries has come to symbolise part of British identity.”

The first written account of Arthur dates back to the ninth century. According to an article by Chantry Westwell on the website of the British Library: “The earliest written account of King Arthur as a historical figure is the Historia Brittonum (History of the Britons), a history of the British people. The history was assembled from a variety of sources in 829 or 830, by a cleric sometimes known as Nennius, probably under the patronage of the king of Gwynedd (r. 825–844).”

Later accounts, especially Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (A History of the Kings of Britain) in the 12th century provided more details. Westwell said, “This work, together with his Vita Merlini (Life of Merlin) gives the first detailed account of Arthur’s education by Merlin, the sword in the stone, his death on Salisbury plain and his final resting place at Avalon.”

Since then, the tales of King Arthur and his famed knights have been told and retold through countless works of art, music, literature and more.

Even previous Great Britain stamps celebrate the legend, including a set of four issued Sept. 3, 1985 (Scott 1115-1118), to mark the 500th anniversary of William Caxton’s edition of Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory, and two stamps in the March 8, 2011, Magical Realms set of eight (2879, 2880).

Great Britain’s new the Legend of King Arthur stamps feature original illustrations by concept artist Jaime Jones.

Royal Mail spokesman Philip Parker said: “These atmospheric illustrations bring to life the timeless stories of the King and the Knights of the Round Table. With its themes of magic, chivalry and quests, the enduring legend of King Arthur has entranced for centuries and will continue to do so.”

The stamps are in two strips of five se-tenant (side-by-side) stamps each, beginning with the birth of Arthur on the first stamp in the strip of nondenominated first-class stamps and ending with his death on the last stamp in the strip of £1.70 stamps. (Read more.)

Making Americans Your Enemies

 From The American Mind:

Early in the Global War on Terror, the U.S. government decided to regard its Islamic terrorist foes as unconnected to any larger political or theological movement. Al Qaeda (and all its predecessors and successors) came to be regarded as a handful of extremists unconnected to any larger ideological base. As former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Stephen Coughlin noted in his book Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad, early in the war the government became allergic to the notion that Islamic terrorists were anything other than extremists on the very outskirts of an ideological movement. “The prevailing theory is that Islamic ‘extremists’ are at the periphery of Islam,” Coughlin wrote. “Hence, all that is needed is to cleave the radicals from the mainstream.”

In reality, jihadist terrorists are the militant vanguard of a larger ideological movement, known as Islamism or political Islam, which is fundamentally hostile to the United States and its foundational principles and favored by a group far larger than the U.S. government was comfortable admitting, including domestic pressure groups. “Extremist” became the preferred term because the word contains within itself an explanation of the relationship between the extremist and the rest of society. An extremist, by definition, is not part of the mainstream.

Forbidden from discussing the actual nature and ideology of the threat which they were instructed to counter, America’s intelligence and law enforcement officials lived and died by euphemism. And like the bureaucracies which perpetuate them, government euphemisms tend to expand even beyond the original logic for their creation. So, when “Islamic extremist” was no longer sufficiently vague, the phrase “homegrown violent extremist” was adopted, where “homegrown” paradoxically refers to those operating in service to a foreign ideology perpetuated by international terrorists. (Read more.)


From The American Thinker:

But that was then, and it’s possible that America has grown closer to that European model for the elites have nothing but disdain for the demos. Take, for example, the judicial ruling last week that Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, representing the party founded by Jefferson, had broken several state laws, including an order, made all by her lonesome, to send out absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state.

I judge that at the moment when she violated the law, this woman was either a conscious, conscienceless criminal or an idiot for not caring about the potential for voter fraud. And, I fear, this is more evidence that the United States has become what the great Jefferson, father of American Liberalism, knew to be a mortal threat to the republic – an uneducated mass ruled by an uneducated, conscienceless elite class.

The same societal “cancer” is seen in those who demand police defunding. The institution of police is basic to a civilized community and is as old as the Bible. In Deuteronomy 16:18, God commanded the Israelites to create “judges and constables,” to enforce law and order. So those today who demand police defunding are idiots. They are not just uneducated, but mal-educated.

This should not be a surprise since today’s universities, where they went to school, are staffed by leftist jerks who were students in the 1960s. These academics seem to miss the excitement of that decade when they protested authority by protesting the war in Viet Nam. So, they encourage their charges in this century to more or less do the same -- in this case, protest against “systemic racism,” never mind that there is none.

There used to be. For the first seventy-two years of the Republic, slavery was regulated by laws. What changed was that the ordinary Americans Jefferson knew to be good people went to war in 1861 to end that systemic injustice. Some 300,000 White American males in the North gave up their lives to end Black slavery in the South, a fact that is apparently unknown to today’s “woke” decrying “systemic racism” and believing in America’s true birth in 1619. (Read more.)


Where Two Ancient Civilizations Meet

 From Travel Awaits:

On Spain’s magnificent Costa Brava, in the province of Girona, an invisible time portal beckons you to enter and explore the region’s distant past. The Empuries Archeological Site presents the remains of the Ancient Greek city of Emporium and the Roman city of Emporiae, which for a time existed peacefully side-by-side. This was the gateway through which the Greek and Roman empires introduced their culture to the Iberian Peninsula.

Empuries is located approximately 40 minutes from Girona and approximately 2 hours from Barcelona by car. A bus or train will also get you there, making it an ideal day trip. If you stay in either city, you can book a guided bus tour, but this will limit your time at Empuries and allow you less flexibility. (Read more.)


Monday, March 22, 2021

Pure Springtime Joy

 From Architectural Digest:

David Hockney is an artist most often associated with California, as his enchanting landscapes, enviable pool, and past AD coverage all prove. But fans of the artist are no doubt well aware of his British roots. And as it happens, English landscapes, in particular those in the Yorkshire countryside, are one half of a new exhibition’s focus. The other component of this joyful new show, which first debuted in Amsterdam and has now received an update courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is none other than Vincent van Gogh

“[What] really unites them is an absolutely ecstatic joy of nature,” Ann Dumas, MFA Houston’s consulting curator of European art, as well as the driving force behind “Hockney–Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature,” says to AD. Of course, an ebullient sense of happiness, and one ushered in by the great outdoors, is exactly what many are in need of these days. After all, this show comes not only almost a year after the coronavirus pandemic first arrived in the U.S., but also just as a harrowing winter in Texas and throughout the country is (hopefully) in its waning days. (Read more.)


True Elites and False “Elites”

 From Return to Order:

In more than one progressive-inspired publication I have run into the adjective, “elitist,” needless to say employed in a strongly pejorative sense. Indeed, it makes sense because from the psychological standpoint, the progressive philosophy is a fusion of all kinds of mediocrity, triviality and even vulgarity. Thus, it is viscerally contrary to any form of refinement or kind of elite.

By using that adjective—so questionable from a linguistic perspective—the more common progressives insinuate that every member of an elite is by definition a selfish, unproductive and mediocre snob full of vanity and only capable of joining with other “elitist” persons into parasitic cliques that conspire with one another on how best to extract the fruits of their neighbors’ labor.

In light of this concept (what light!), the “elitists” supposedly gather in small groups and victimize the public at large.

Who can deny the existence of “elites” just like those described by the progressives? Shouldn’t every sensible man reject them? However, are these “elites” really elites?

These “elites” have abandoned everything that they should believe, forsaken their mission, and allowed themselves to be infected with gangrene and putrefaction.

In seeking to define a star, can anyone give an example of a dark celestial body that gives off no light? It would be like presenting a rotting cadaver as an example of a man.

This is precisely what progressives do with elites. Starting from their pejorative concept of “elite,” they perform some kind of magic trick in which all true elites end up as “elitists.” In so doing, they managed to label all privileged groupings as genuine bloodsuckers of the great majority of authentic hard workers.

Thus, in the eyes of the public, a perfectly shocking overall picture comes together that incites class struggle. It fits perfectly the needs of communist propaganda. On the one hand, are the great masses of the workers and, on the other, several select minority groupings who (maliciously fused together with the vain, lazy, mediocre and feckless “elitists” mentioned above) legitimately stand out for their excellence in cultural achievements, talent, education, selflessness in serving the nation or charitable work, etc.

The outcome of the clash between these groupings and the incited masses can only be the gobbling up of the “elitist” mouse by the communist cat…(Read more.)


The Sovietization of the American Press

 From TK News:

Reality in Soviet news was 100% binary, with all people either heroes or villains, and the villains all in league with one another (an SR was no better than a fascist or a “Right-Trotskyite Bandit,” a kind of proto-horseshoe theory). Other ideas were not represented, except to be attacked and deconstructed. Also, since anything good was all good, politicians were not described as people at all but paragons of limitless virtue — 95% of most issues of Pravda or Izvestia were just names of party leaders surrounded by lists of applause-words, like “glittering,” “full-hearted,” “wise,” “mighty,” “courageous,” “in complete moral-political union with the people,” etc.

Some of the headlines in the U.S. press lately sound suspiciously like this kind of work:

— Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty

— Champion of the middle class comes to the aid of the poor

— Biden's historic victory for America

The most Soviet of the recent efforts didn’t have a classically Soviet headline. “Comedians are struggling to parody Biden. Let’s hope this doesn’t last,” read the Washington Post opinion piece by Richard Zoglin, arguing that Biden is the first president in generations who might be “impervious to impressionists.” Zoglin contended Biden is “impregnable” to parody, his voice being too “devoid of obvious quirks,” his manner too “muted and self-effacing” to offer comedians much to work with. (Read more.)


The Powhatan Wars

 From World History Encyclopedia:

The Anglo-Powhatan Wars (also given as Powhatan Wars) were a series of conflicts between the English colonists of Virginia, North America, and the indigenous people of the Powhatan Confederacy between 1610-1646 CE. The Powhatan Confederacy (also known as the Powhatan Empire) was led by the chief Wahunsenacah (l. c. 1547 - c. 1618 CE) who presided over more than 30 tribes in the region when Jamestown Colony of Virginia was established by the English in 1607 CE. Wahunsenacah (also known as Chief Powhatan) at first thought the English could be valuable allies against Spanish raids and hostile Native American tribes, but relations between the Powhatans and English deteriorated as the colonists demanded more land, especially after 1610 CE when the English began cultivating tobacco.

All three wars were won by the English as they resulted in further loss of land for the Native Americans and greater restrictions placed upon them. Although hostilities broke out before and after the official dates of the wars, the generally accepted dating is:

  • First Powhatan War: 1610-1614 CE
  • Second Powhatan War: 1622-1626 CE
  • Third Powhatan War: 1644-1646 CE

The third war ended when the Powhatan chief, Opchanacanough (l. 1554-1646 CE), who had succeeded Wahunsenacah, was killed after being taken captive and his successor, Necotowance (l. c. 1600-1649 CE), signed a peace treaty which effectively dissolved the Powhatan Confederacy. Necotowance was succeeded by his son, Totopotomoi (l. c. 1615-1656 CE) who ruled only over his own tribe of the Pamunkey and greatly diminished lands. He was succeeded by his wife, Cocacoeske (l. c. 1640-1686 CE) who held even less power and fewer lands, especially after Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 CE which led to the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677 CE and the indigenous people’s loss of almost all of their traditional lands. (Read more.)


Also from World History Encyclopedia:

The Indian Massacre of 1622 CE was an attack on the settlements of the Virginia Colony by the tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy under their leader Opchanacanough (l. 1554-1646 CE) and his brother Opitchapam (d. c. 1630 CE) though credit for its success is always given to Opchanacanough. The attack was carefully planned and carried out with such speed and precision that only one settlement, Jamestown, received warning and was able to prepare a defense. Out of approximately 1,250 English colonists, 347 were killed on 22 March 1622 CE, mostly before noon, and hundreds more would die in the following months from malnutrition, starvation, and disease due to the destruction of their crops as well as further periodic engagements with natives.

The attack was a complete surprise and total military victory for the Powhatan Confederacy. Peace had been established between the colonists and natives since the end of the First Powhatan War in 1614 CE. Natives and colonists partnered in trade, visited each other’s settlements, and natives were often guests in colonist’s homes. Since 1610 CE, however, the colonists had begun to spread out from their initial settlement at Jamestown, taking more and more lands from the Powhatan Confederacy, abusing the people, stealing food, and allowing livestock to destroy crops and desecrate sites sacred to native rituals. Opchanacanough’s attack had three objectives:

  • Demonstrate the military might of the Powhatan Confederacy
  • Demoralize the English colonists
  • Encourage them to pack up and return to their own country

The attack succeeded in the first two objectives but, instead of leaving, the colonists entrenched and fought back in the Second Powhatan War (1622-1626 CE) which they won. Afterwards, trade with certain tribes was discouraged and more land was taken for tobacco plantations. Opchanacanough launched another offensive in 1644 CE, setting off the Third Powhatan War (1644-1646 CE) which ended when he was taken captive and killed.

Following this conflict, the Treaty of 1646 CE dissolved the Powhatan Confederacy and led to the reservation system for Native American tribes in the area. The 1622 CE massacre also influenced Anglo-Native relations elsewhere in the English colonies, contributing to English policies and military campaigns during the Pequot War (1636-1638 CE) and King Philip’s War (1675-1678 CE) in New England and the development of laws concerning Native Americans afterwards. (Read more.)


Sunday, March 21, 2021


 From Country Life:

The end of winter might seem an odd time to think about a fire; actually, though, it’s the ideal time. If you don’t get around to ordering until you actually need it in Autumn, you’ll be lucky to get it delivered and installed in time for Christmas. Get it sorted out now and you can choose at your leisure, and any work (for installing flues etc) can be done while the weather is drier.

But what should you go for if you don’t yet have one? Our round up of the best log burners is an ideal place to start— and if you’re not sure whether you want a log burner or open fire, read our ‘grate debate’ (ho ho) on open fires v wood-burning stoves. Once you have your fire set up, you’ll want accessories to really make the most of it. Here’s some suggestions to get you started. (Read more.)


Darkness Falls: One Year Later

 From Crisis:

One year ago today, darkness engulfed the United States. On March 18, 2020, the final holdout American dioceses suspended public Masses, making it impossible (or at least disobedient) for a lay Catholic in this country to attend Mass. 

I followed the shutting down of public Masses closely, creating maps on Twitter so Catholics could see which dioceses had shut down, and which remained opened. Although looking back it seems like the process took a lifetime (March 12-19 last year in general packed a decade’s worth of news into one week), the process was actually quite rapid. On the evening of March 16, 2020, I made my first map:

 (Read more.)


Development of Language in Early Humans

 From Neuroscience News:

A new paper by Dr. Miki Ben-Dor and Prof. Ran Barkai from the Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University proposes an original unifying explanation for the physiological, behavioral and cultural evolution of the human species, from its first appearance about two million years ago, to the agricultural revolution (around 10,000 BCE).

According to the paper, humans developed as hunters of large animals, causing their ultimate extinction. As they adapted to hunting small, swift prey animals, humans developed higher cognitive abilities, evidenced by the most obvious evolutionary change – the growth of brain volume from 650cc to 1,500cc. To date, no unifying explanation has been proposed for the major phenomena in human prehistory.

The novel theory was published in Quaternary Journal.

In recent years more and more evidence has been accumulated to the effect that humans were a major factor in the extinction of large animals, and consequently had to adapt to hunting smaller game, first in Africa and later in all other parts of the world. In Africa, 2.6 million years ago, when humans first emerged, the average size of land mammals was close to 500kg. Just before the advent of agriculture this figure had decreased by over 90% – down to several tens of kg. (Read more.)


From The Conversation:

 Cave bears were giant plant eating bears that roamed Europe and northern Asia, and went extinct around 25 thousand years ago. They hibernated in caves during the winter. This was a dangerous time, as those which had failed to fatten up enough during the summer would not survive hibernation.

As a result, many caves across Europe and northern Asia are now filled with the bones of cave bears, each one containing potentially thousands of individuals. In our new study, we analysed a bone from a cave in the Caucasus Mountains.

Our team recovered the genome from a 360,000-year-old cave bear, revealing new details of the animals’ evolutionary history and almost rewriting their entire evolutionary tree. As well as what it can tell us about cave bear evolution, this discovery is a breakthrough for the field of ancient DNA.

February 2021 was an important month for the study of palaeogenomes – the analysis of genomes from extinct species. Two studies were published just one day apart, one reporting the oldest genome from a permafrost environment – from a 1.2 million year old mammoth tooth – and our new research, reporting the oldest genome from a non-permafrost environment. (Read more.)

What about Neanderthals? From SciNews:

The linguistic capacities in Neanderthals have long been an area of active research and debate among scientists, albeit with little resolution. The last two decades have seen increasing archaeological discoveries documenting complex behaviors in this sister species to Homo sapiens. These have been linked to the possible presence of language, since it seems reasonable to suggest that such behaviors require the presence of a complex and efficient oral communication system. Nevertheless, a different point of view maintains that the distinctive features of human language, absent in other organisms, include a symbolic element as well as a recursive syntactic process called merge. This latter process, at its simplest, uses two syntactic elements and assembles them to form a set and is argued to be exclusive to Homo sapiens and to have appeared no earlier than 100,000 years ago.

Tracing the presence of symbolism and syntactic processes in the course of human evolution currently lies outside the realm of possibility in paleontology. Nevertheless, the study of human fossils can prove key to determining whether past human species, and in particular the Neanderthals, possessed the anatomy necessary to produce and perceive an oral communication system as complex and efficient as human speech, the usual vehicle for language. In other words, although paleontology cannot study the evolution of the ‘software’ of language it can contribute to our understanding of the evolution of the ‘hardware’ of speech.

“For decades, one of the central questions in human evolutionary studies has been whether the human form of communication, spoken language, was also present in any other species of human ancestor, especially the Neanderthals,” said Professor Juan Luis Arsuaga, a researcher at the Centro Mixto (UCM-ISCIII) de Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos and the Departamento de Geodinámica at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Using high-resolution CT scans, Professor Arsuaga and his colleagues created 3D models of the ear structures of Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and the Sima de los Huesos hominins, considered ancestors of the later Neanderthals. They then entered the new data into a software-based model, developed in the field of auditory bioengineering, to estimate the hearing abilities up to 5 kHz, which encompasses most of the frequency range of modern human speech sounds. Compared with the Sima de los Huesos hominins, Neanderthals showed slightly better hearing between 4-5 kHz, resembling modern humans more closely. (Read more.)    

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Enigma of Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’

From Medium:

The painting was created around the 1470s and supposedly commissioned by Lorenzo de’ Medici, a wealthy Italian statesman and enthusiastic art patron, probably for the marriage of his cousin Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco. Primavera portrays nine mythological figures positioned around an orange grove that might reflect the family tree of the Medici family.

  • To the far left of the painting is Mercury, clothed in red, wearing winged shoes and the caduceus he uses to dissipate the clouds.
  • Next to Mercury, are the Three Graces (dancing figures), adorned in a translucent white and represent beauty and purity.
  • The center of the composition is the Roman goddess, Venus, a red-draped woman.
  • In the air, above Venus, is cupid who is blindfolded and aims his arrow to The Three Graces.
  • To the extreme right of the painting is Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, chasing the nymph Cloris.
  • Botticelli shows the spilling of flowers from Cloris’s mouth who transforms into Flora, the goddess of spring.

(Read more.)


Cardinal Siri Revisited, Again

I was going over some old posts which have grown with meaning over the years, especially those concerning the abandonment of traditional female attire for masculine clothing. Archbishop of Genoa Giuseppe Cardinal Siri made some excellent points in June 1960 when he composed his Notification Concerning Men's Dress Worn by Women. It was written as a guide for the pastors and teachers of the Archdiocese of Genoa but is still worthy of consideration nevertheless by all mature Catholics. The cardinal did not think slacks on women were immodest but feared they were a symptom of the eventual and overall masculinization of women to the detriment of their role in the family and in society. The cardinal was initially concerned about lady tourists wandering around Genoa in slacks and Capri pants during the summer of 1960 and influencing the women of who lived there to dress the same. The cardinal feared that masculine apparel donned by women would effect the psychology of women, saying: "The clothing a person wears...modifies that person's gestures, attitudes and comes to impose a particular frame of mind on the inside." In many ways, his words were prophetic.

Cardinal Siri prophesied that the masculinization of women's attire would alter their relationships with men, since the attraction between men and women is due to their diversity; they complement and complete each other. "If then this diversity becomes less obvious because one of its major external signs is eliminated...what results is the alteration of a fundamental factor in the relationship." The de-feminization of women will diminish the relationships between men and women to "pure sensuality, devoid of all mutual respect or esteem." The cardinal insisted the male dress would also harm the dignity of the mother in her children's eyes. "What matters is to preserve modesty, together with the eternal sense of femininity which, more than anything else, all children will continue to associate with the face of their mother." He mentions how the violation of the natural order, even in small ways, leads to social disorder.
"Aligned on the wrecking of the eternal norms are to be found the broken families, lives cut short before their time, hearths and homes gone cold, old people cast to one side, youngsters willfully degenerate and, at the end of the line, souls in despair and taking their own lives..."

All of the above has certainly happened since the sexual and feminist revolutions of the 1960's and 70's. Women wearing slacks to church was a minor change, although a cardinal of the Church seemed to think that female attire plays no small part in the general scheme of things.

Here is an excerpt from Cardinal Siri's Notification Concerning Men's Dress Worn By Women:

Male Dress Harms the Dignity of the Mother in Her Children's Eyes

All children have an instinct for the sense of dignity and decorum of their mother. Analysis of the first inner crisis of children when they awaken to life around them before they enter upon adolescence, shows how much the sense of their mother counts. Children are as sensitive as they can be on this point. Adults have usually left all that behind them and think no more on it. But we would do well to recall to mind the severe demands that children instinctively make of their own mother, and the deep and even terrible reactions roused in them by observation of their mother's misbehavior. Many lines of later life are here to be traced out and not for good in these early dramas of infancy and childhood.

The child may not know the definition of exposure, frivolity, or infidelity, but he possesses an instinctive sixth sense to recognize them when they occur, to suffer from them, and be bitterly wounded by them in his soul.

Let us think seriously on the import of everything said so far, even if women's appearing in man's dress does not immediately give rise to all the upset caused by grave immodesty.

The changing of feminine psychology does fundamental and, in the long run, irreparable damage to the family, to conjugal fidelity, to human affections and to human society. True, the effects of wearing unsuitable dress are not all to be seen within a short time. But one must think of what is being slowly and insidiously worn down, torn apart, perverted.

Is any satisfying reciprocity between husband and wife imaginable, if feminine psychology be changed? Or is any true education of children imaginable, which is so delicate in its procedure, so woven of imponderable factors in which the mother's intuition and instinct play the decisive part in those tender years? What will these women be able to give their children when they will so long have worn trousers that their self-esteem goes more by their competing with the men than by their functioning as women?

Why, we ask, ever since men have been men, or rather since they became civilized, why have men in all times and places been irresistibly borne to make a differentiated division between the functions of the two sexes? Do we not have here strict testimony to the recognition by all mankind of a truth and a law above man?

To sum up, wherever women wear men's dress, it is to be considered a factor in the long run tearing apart human order.

 It seems the once unthinkable leap has been made from women causing consternation by wearing slacks to women now being able to become men, and vice versa. Not only adults, but small children can alter their gender at will. Confusion and mental illness reign, breaking down families, careers, communities.