Monday, May 31, 2021

The Shirt of Charles I

 The knitted pale green silk vest worn by Charles I at his execution.

From Smithsonian:

In January 30, 1649, England’s Charles I arose early and dressed for the chilly weather. He asked for a thick shirt, one that would stop him from shivering—and appearing frightened—as he faced the public in his final moments.

The king, convicted of treason for purportedly placing his personal interests above the good of the country, was taken to a scaffold erected in front of the Banqueting House in London. His last words—“I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world”—were swallowed by the frigid air. The executioner’s axe swung. The huge crowd, though it had assembled precisely for this occasion, reeled. (Read more.)

 From Tatler:

The execution of King Charles I is one of the most significant moments in our history, when our former ruler was found guilty of treason and beheaded outside of Banqueting House in London, leading to a decade without any monarch at all under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell.

Now, the history books are set to come alive, with some of the garments that he wore on the day that he died set to go on display at the Museum of London as part of its Executions exhibition later this year.

One of the two vests that he wore to prevent him shivering with cold (that could have been mistaken for fear) as well as his gloves, sash and fragments of his cloak and handkerchief, will make up the display, which will be the first time that they have been seen in 371 years. (Read more.) 

 

More HERE.

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Musée Carnavalet in Paris Reopens

 From Travel and Leisure:

Opened in 1880, Musée Carnavalet is one of the oldest in Paris and an often-overlooked gem dedicated to recording the city's history. Set inside two neighboring mansions, the museum takes visitors through time with an eclectic mix of artifacts, including paintings, sculptures, and some of Marie Antoinette's belongings. From the Mesolithic period (9600-6000 BCE) to the 21st century, everything in Musée Carnavalet is presented in chronological order — a welcome change that came with the renovations, Lonely Planet reports. Musée Carnavalet closed in 2016 after the collection had grown so large that curators could not find a way to present all of the information in a layout that would make sense for visitors. But with the renovations, which were completed in part with the help of François Châtillon, chief architect for France's historical monuments, the museum is reopening with a reimagined, more modern experience. (Read more.)

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Prehistoric Cattle Cult Found

 From Live Science:

Sprawling rectangular structures scattered across northwest Arabia and dating back more than 7,000 years may have been part of a prehistoric cattle cult, researchers have found.

More than 1,000 of the mysterious structures, referred to as mustatils (an Arabic word meaning "rectangle"), have been documented in Saudi Arabia. While their appearance varies, they are usually rectangular in shape and often consisting of two platforms connected by two walls. Archaeological work indicates that some of the mustatils had a chamber in the center made of stone walls surrounding an open area with a standing stone in the center. The new research reinforces a theory proposed by other researchers that the mustatils had a ritualistic purpose and, in addition, provides evidence that they were part of a cattle cult.

"The mustatils of northwest Arabia represents the first large-scale, monumental ritual landscape anywhere in the world, predating Stonehenge by more than 2,500 years," Melissa Kennedy, assistant director of the Aerial Archaeology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia project (AAKSA), said in a statement. 

"These structures can now be interpreted as ritual installations dating back to the late sixth millennium B.C., with recent excavations revealing the earliest evidence for [a] cattle cult in the Arabian Peninsula," a team of researchers wrote in a paper published April 30 in the journal Antiquity. The team's research revealed "that these monuments are architecturally more complex than previously supposed, featuring chambers, entranceways and orthostats [upright stone slabs]," the team wrote in the article. (Read more.)


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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Royalist Ring


From Live Science:

A metal detectorist in the United Kingdom has unearthed a 370-year-old gold and crystal ring that might have been crafted in honor of a beheaded earl who lived during the English Civil War. The slender gold band has a diameter of 0.8 inches (21.5 millimeters) and is topped with a 0.5-inch-wide (12 mm) crystal stone that covers two ornate letters made with gold thread: the initials J.D. (or I.D.), according to Manx National Heritage on the Isle of Man.

If the first letter is a "J," that could mean this ring once belonged to James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby and Lord of Man, a supporter of the Royalist cause during the English Civil War. "Letters and documents from the time show that he signed his name as J Derby, so the initials JD would be appropriate for him," Allison Fox, curator of archaeology at Manx National Heritage, said in a statement. (Read more.)


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Fauci In 2012

 From The Federalist:

The revelation of Fauci’s 2012 defense of the research comes as new reports emerge, breathing new life into the lab-leak theory among the political establishment that dismissed the origin hypothesis, which was always credible, as a conspiracy theory.

Reporting on previously undisclosed intelligence this month, the Wall Street Journal published a story of three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who were hospitalized with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019, preceding the pandemic’s first outbreak in the Hubei province. The lab, known for its relaxed safety protocols, was reportedly collaborating with the Chinese military and conducting gain-of-function research into bat coronaviruses, according to the Trump State Department in a fact sheet not disputed by officials in the Biden administration.

Two years after Fauci’s defense of the high-stakes research, the U.S. government deemed the work so dangerous it was banned. According to longtime journalist and former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, however, Fauci circumvented the U.S. moratorium and supported gain-of-function with grant money from the NIAID funneled through EcoHealth Alliance, operated by Dr. Peter Daszak.

“From June 2014 to May 2019 EcoHealth Alliance had a grant from NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health, to do gain-of-function research with coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Wade reported in a lengthy Medium post.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul pressed Fauci on U.S. tax dollars going to the Wuhan lab during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions earlier this month.

“Gain-of-function research, as you know, is juicing up naturally occurring animal viruses to infect humans. To arrive at the truth, the U.S. government should admit that the Wuhan Virology Institute was experimenting to enhance the coronavirus’s ability to infect humans,” Paul said.

Fauci denied that the novel coronavirus was a potential byproduct of funding from the NIAID or its parent organization, the National Institutes of Health. (Read more.)


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Excavating the Life of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

 From Lit Hub:

I first heard about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings from my fourth-grade teacher at McNab Elementary in Pompano Beach, Florida. It was early spring, and Mrs. Chapman, a Florida native, decided it was a good time to share Rawlings’s best-known novel, The Yearling, with twenty nine-year-olds. Every day after lunch, for weeks, she read aloud a few pages, inviting the class to listen for the author’s beautiful sentences and the backwoods Florida world they brought to life. All of us, northern transplants whose families had been lured to the state by the postwar boom, were entranced by the story, delivered during that delicious drowsiness following milk and sandwiches by an old-timer whose voice was as soft and suggestive as distant radio waves.

The Yearling was our first impression of Old Florida, the peoples’ speech and traditions, and Mrs. Chapman’s reading seemed a private thing, a gift from her to us. We didn’t know that the book, a coming-of-age story about a boy, his pet deer, and his parents, who farmed the north-central Florida scrub, had been the best-selling novel of 1938. Nor did we know the book had won the Pulitzer Prize and been translated into 29 languages, or that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had made a popular film of it, starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman—all before we were born. By the time Mrs. Chapman read it to us, The Yearling had come to be thought of as a children’s book, because it centered on a young boy. It was a staple of the elementary school story hour.

I loved The Yearling as one loves a fairy tale or a dream, and Mrs. Chapman’s reading became one of my fondest memories. Much later, I read the novel by myself, silently, admiring it as magnificent storytelling, as literature. The novel’s lyricism, its fine rendering of country life, its use of local dialect, its structure and emotional range revealed Rawlings the artist, and I wanted to know how she, born in 1896, had become one. For clues, I took up her 1942 memoir Cross Creek, also a best seller in its day, and reveled in stories of the tiny Florida settlement where she’d established her writing career in the 1930s.

Cross Creek was the place out of which she wrote, no doubt a magical spot, and finally, I traveled to the area, which had changed very little since she’d lived there. The hamlet was still a rural community on a stream between two lakes, Orange and Lochloosa, altered only by the soft conversion of Marjorie Rawlings’s farmhouse, outbuildings, and orange grove into a state park with a paved road and guided walking tours. It was easy to imagine writing here. Still, I wondered, who was the artist whose life and work had made a shrine of this outpost? Where, beyond her two best-known books and Floridians’ sentimental tributes to her memory, was evidence of the complex woman Rawlings must have been? (Read more.)


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Saturday, May 29, 2021

In a Field in Maryland


 From Live Science:

An almost 400-year-old silver coin found in a field in Maryland suggests that the remains of a nearby fort are all that's left of one of the earliest English colonial settlements in the Americas, archaeologists said. The coin is a silver shilling — worth the equivalent of maybe $8 in the 17th century — that portrays a likeness of the English king Charles I. Research shows it must have been minted in London in about 1633 — more than a decade before Charles was executed by his Parliamentarian enemies in 1649, during the English Civil War.

The coin indicates the underground remains of the structure where it was found are from the very first colonial fort built in 1634, said archaeologist Travis Parno, the director of research and collections at Historic St. Mary's City, an archaeological and historical museum funded by the state of Maryland.

Over the last three years, archaeologists have unearthed several artifacts — such as fragments of distinctive stoneware called "Rhenish" pottery from France and Germany, ceramics from Surrey in England and lead shot for muskets — that show the site was inhabited by early European colonists.

But the silver shilling finally verifies the age of the site and the fort, Parno told Live Science.

"It's a key dating tool that suggests this is a very early 17th-century site," he said. "We've got a lot of artifacts that are really pointing us to an early 17th-century date, so finding a coin that nails that down to a very early period is really helpful." (Read more.)
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Resistance to the Stigmatisation of Masculinity

 From Quillette:

There is now a growing international movement of men and women dedicated to resisting the anti-masculinity narrative. YouTube channels and podcasts for men and boys such as Order Of Man and The Art Of Manliness boast massive followings and provide a formidable global support network, while prominent dissident academic figures like Camille Paglia have called for greater acceptance of masculinity within society. Male students are suing their universities for anti-male discrimination, while a growing number of men express their discontent about unfairness in the workplace as women are prioritised in the name of satisfying equality quotas.

Inevitably, parents have become prominent players in this effort. Stories have emerged of parents’ angry letters to schools and petitions. Some have resolved to remove their children from school altogether. Homeschooling is experiencing a steady rise, reaching a staggering 11 percent in the US, and concerned parents have begun to establish action groups such as Parents Defending Education and Bettina Arndt’s Mothers Of Sons initiative. Dedicated channels have been set up so that individuals can report incidents of boys being shamed at school. These clashes between parents and the educational establishment are no longer relegated to the fringe. When parents discover, for instance, that a school is making their sons face their female peers and apologise on behalf of their sex for crimes of which they are personally innocent, they are understandably angry and are finding ways to express their anger in various online and media fora. In this way, awareness of the systematic stigmatization of masculinity is growing. (Read more.)


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First Human Inhabitants of Australia

 From SciTechDaily:

The best path across the desert is rarely the straightest. For the first human inhabitants of Sahul — the super-continent that underlies modern Australia and New Guinea — camping at the next spring, stream, or rock shelter allowed them to thrive for hundreds of generations. Those who successfully traversed the landmarks made their way across the continent, spreading from their landfall in the Northwest across the continent, making their way to all corners of Australia and New Guinea.

By simulating the physiology and decisions of early way-finders, an international team* of archaeologists, geographers, ecologists, and computer scientists has mapped the probable “superhighways” that led to the first peopling of the Australian continent some 50,000-70,000 years ago. Their study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, is the largest reconstruction of a network of human migration paths into a new landscape. It is also the first to apply rigorous computational analysis at the continental scale, testing 125 billion possible pathways. (Read more.)


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Friday, May 28, 2021

The Vision of St. Joseph by James Tissot

What a wonderful angel! Via East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

"I am poor, and in labors from my youth and being exalted, I was humbled and troubled." Psalm 87:16

Joseph of Nazareth
On a joiner's bench
You ply your trade.
Hands calloused
Fingers nimble.
Wood chips and shavings
At your feet.
Sawdust
In your beard.
You sing
The song of your people
Longing
For the Face
Of Him
Who is to come.

Joseph of Nazareth
Of David's line
You sing
The wedding song.
"My sister, my spouse
Is a garden
Enclosed..."
Virgin husband
Of the Daughter of Sion
You prepare a
Dwelling
For the Stainless One.

Joseph of Nazareth
In sweat of anguish
You ponder
Another Joseph
Thrown in the cistern.
Your song
Becomes sad.
"Save me
O God
For the waters
Are come in
Even unto
My soul..."
You sing
Then fall silent.
Sleep comes
With the breeze
That stirs
The curls of wood...
And then
The voice: 
"Joseph, Son of David,
Fear not...."

By a Carmelite tertiary Share

‘Dangerous’ New Wave of Censorship

 From The Epoch Times:

Critical race theory, which is rooted in Marxism, has been heavily promulgated throughout academia, entertainment, government, schools, and the workplace in recent years, coming to new prominence following the rise of far-left groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Some employers have included concepts from the doctrine—which some claim teaches that the United States is a fundamentally racist country and that one race is inherently superior to another—in their “racial and cultural sensitivity” training.

Like Marxism, it advocates for the destruction of institutions, such as the Western justice system, free-market economy, and orthodox religions, while demanding that they be replaced with institutions compliant with the theory’s ideology.

The legal scholar and author of the new book, “The Case Against the New Censorship: Protecting Free Speech From Big Tech, Progressives, and Universities,” accused Democrats and Big Tech companies of engaging in censorship.

“We’re in a very, very dangerous situation now where the left, which has enormous influence on American universities, has enormous influence on social media, has enormous influence on certain kinds of politics in the media, are trying to suppress free speech, and they’re succeeding, and we have to fight back,” Dershowitz said.

Big Tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google are today engaging in “massive censorship” that endangers the freedom of speech itself, Dershowitz said.

“That’s not good for the country, it’s not good for the Constitution, it’s not good for freedom of speech. It’s not good by any standards, and it has to stop. And we the consumers have to demand that Facebook and YouTube and Twitter stop this censorship,” he continued.

Twitter executives have indicated that Trump—who had about 90 million followers on the platform—will remain suspended indefinitely, while Facebook’s “Oversight Board” ruled earlier this month to uphold his ban but set a time limit on it.

The companies have also drawn intense scrutiny for perceived political bias and alleged unbalanced moderation of users’ content. Critics say much of the companies’ moderation in the past year has unfairly targeted conservative speech and speech from individuals deemed to be supporters of Trump. (Read more.)

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The Power of Poetry and Silence

 From Brainpickings:

Poetry interrupts the momentum of story, unweaves the narrative thread with which we cocoon our inner worlds. A single poetic image can lift us from the plane of our storied worldview toward the gasp of a whole new vista, where in the spacious silence of the unimagined we imagine ourselves afresh.

For Adrienne Rich, poetry was a tool to “break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire”; for Audre Lorde, a lens for focusing “the quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives”; for Shelley, a tonic that “purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being”; for Elizabeth Alexander, a fulcrum for raising the fundamental human question that so easily falls by distraction, indifference, and confusion: “And are we not of interest to each other?”

Sometimes — not often — prose can do that, prose that carries the spirit of poetry, the spirit that opens up rather than pins down the concepts language conveys. Among the rare travelers between these twin worlds is the Irish-English poet and philosopher David Whyte. (Read more.)

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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Goya’s Maja


From Of Art and Wine:

This painting seems rather tame for our day, though the look in the model’s eye has a bit of “come hither” to it. Many art historians propose Manuel de Godoy, 18th century Spain’s Prime Minister for King Charles IV, as the man who commissioned this work of his then mistress, Pepita Tudó. Given the dates of the work and the face of the woman, though not exactly Pepita but passable, that assumption seems to fit. However, there has always been a bit of a problem sustaining that theory completely when comparing this later work with the original maja, The Naked Maja, done between 1797-1800. For a good view of The Naked Maja, I shall send you to the Museo del Prado web page on that painting museodelprado.es.

While the face is the same and again not completely identifiable, the body of the naked version is smaller. The pose is relatively the same, but of course, the frontal nudity plus the direct gaze of the model were indeed shocking for that time. Frontal nudity was for those loose-living Venetians (Titian’s Venus of Urbino, 1534) and even still caused pearl clutching in 1863 when Manet’s Olympia was shown. Here is where the controversy lies. The heads of the majas seem to have been refashioned. Some say it was because Godoy married another woman, so wanted to hide the face of his former mistress. However, since the naked version was painted earlier, perhaps in 1797 during Goya’s stay at the estate of the Duchess of Alba, it is also speculated that the duchess had the face changed to conceal her identity. Years later in 1815, the Spanish Inquisition wanted to get to the bottom of the source of these naughty commissions, so Goya was called before the Inquisitors to tell all. However, his reply is unknown. (Read more.)

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Running Against Trans Athletes Is ‘Devastating' For Young Women

 From The Daily Wire:

Former high school track athlete Chelsea Mitchell said that competing against trans athletes was “devastating” to her confidence and opportunities, and she pledged to continue her legal battle to ban biological males from girls’ sports.

Mitchell, the “fastest girl in Connecticut,” wrote an op-ed in USA Today on Sunday explaining why she and three other athletes sued the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) last year over the state’s decision to allow trans athletes to compete based on gender identity instead of biology.

Mitchell competed against biologically male athletes for most of her high school career and said that continuous losses to those trans athletes was demoralizing to her and other girls in the sport.

I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to male runners. I was bumped to third place in the 55-meter dash in 2019, behind two male runners. With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again,” she wrote.

“That’s a devastating experience. It tells me that I’m not good enough; that my body isn’t good enough; and that no matter how hard I work, I am unlikely to succeed, because I’m a woman,” she added.

Mitchell and fellow female high school athletes Alanna Smith, Selina Soule, Ashley Nicoletti sued CIAC in February 2020 for allowing two biological males, transgender students Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, to compete in girls track and field competitions. A federal district judge dismissed the lawsuit in April, ruling that the question was moot since Yearwood and Miller had graduated and were no longer competing in high school sports.

Mitchell intends to appeal the judge’s decision, however. While they competed, Yearwood and Miller dominated Connecticut high school girls track. As Mitchell writes:

The CIAC allows biological males to compete in girls’ and women’s sports. As a result, two males began racing in girls’ track in 2017. In the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons alone, these males took 15 women’s state track championship titles (titles held in 2016 by nine different girls) and more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher level competitions that belonged to female track athletes.

That’s because males have massive physical advantages. Their bodies are simply bigger and stronger on average than female bodies. It’s obvious to every single girl on the track.

 (Read more.)

 

More HERE.

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Psychological Dynamics

 From PsyPost:

While both men and women cultivate close relationships, the dynamics of these relationships appear to be quite different. A study published in Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology sheds light on the differences between men’s and women’s romantic relationships and best friendships.

Forming close bonds with others is an integral part of being human. From an evolutionary standpoint, people need secure and supportive relationships to survive and to reproduce. Be it a romantic relationship or a close friendship, there are certain attributes that characterize intimate relationships.

“Over a number of years studying friendships, we had become increasingly aware of very consistent sex differences in both social skills and sociality,” explained study author Robin I. M. Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford.

“These human patterns paralleled sex differences that are widely present in Old World monkeys and apes (the group to which humans belong). People do not often study sex differences in social style (bizarrely, some disciplines even forbid the study of sex differences in anything), and it seemed to us there might be something important that we were missing.”

The researchers noted that one common feature of close relationships is similarity — people tend to create relationships with those who are like them.  Evidence also suggests that similarity matters more for certain traits than others, but it is unknown how these traits might differ across male and female relationships. Dunbar and his colleagues set out to pinpoint the traits that support intimacy within relationships and to unearth any sex differences that might be at play.

The researchers recruited 260 participants between the ages of 18 and 80 to complete an online questionnaire that asked them about their close relationships. The participants completed scales to assess the level of intimacy within their romantic partnerships and best friend relationships. They also scored themselves, their partners, and their best friends according to 13 attributes (e.g., intelligence, kindness, athleticism). (Read more.)

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Evelyn Waugh’s Country House



From Mansion Global:

Combe Florey House in Somerset, England, is a Georgian home with an official Grade II historic designation and once belonged to the English novelist Evelyn Waugh. The renovated manor house, which presides over 35 acres on the edge of the village of Combe Florey, was bought by Waugh as a family home in 1956. The author of “Brideshead Revisited,” “Scoopand “Vile Bodies lived there with his family up until his death in 1966 at the age of 62. It remained in the Waugh family until 2008 when they sold it to the current owners.

Six miles from Taunton, Combe Florey House has the rolling Quantock Hills as its backdrop and is accessed via a long drive that meanders through parkland and overlooks a lake. It was built in the 17th century and extensively remodeled in 1730 by former owner William Frauncies, who gave it an “appealing” classical look in the style of the architect James Gibb, with red sandstone ashlar facades and yellow sandstone window surrounds. It lies on the site of an Elizabethan home, which was pulled down after the English Civil War.

In his 1980 autobiography “Will This Do?,” Waugh’s eldest son, Auberon, the author and journalist, describes Combe Florey as a “comfortable house, furnished with an eye to grandeur rather than elegance and the Somerset countryside was never lovelier.”

Later on in the book, he writes that his father called the house a “plain, square house on a hill” in a letter to his mother-in-law in 1961. Waugh, who is celebrated for his satirical novels, was known for both his cutting remarks and sharp wit.

The house, which has been renovated by its current owners, has a striking staircase portico and grand rooms with open fireplaces and wooden flooring. Its entrance hall is open to a stair hall with an 18th-century newel staircase and is flanked by the drawing room and library, which have large windows with different views of the grounds. Behind the stair hall is the orangery, a new addition to the house set on part of the inner courtyard. The grounds include a pool and a pool house, a party barn, a tennis court and a range of traditional-style outbuildings. (Read more.)

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Nurses to be Beatified as Martyrs in Spain

From Crux:

Three Red Cross nurses are to be beatified as martyrs in Spain, 85 years after they were raped and shot while caring for wounded Civil War soldiers, having refused to renounce their Catholic faith.

“These martyrs were not linked to either side — the Red Cross went wherever it was summoned, regardless of who was in control,” said Bishop Jesús Fernández González of Astorga. “Nor did they carry weapons, or use even words to attack anyone. They were simply moved by human compassion and Christian charity, knowing the risks and dangers when signing up as volunteers.”

His message was published ahead of the May 29 beatification of María Pilar Gullón Yturriaga, Octavia Iglesias Blanco and Olga Pérez-Monteserín Núñez at Astorga’s Santa Maria cathedral. Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, will celebrate the beatification Mass. (Read more.)


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The Troubled Catholicism of Ernest Hemingway

 From Angelus:

Hemingway was raised in a Congregationalist Protestant home, and his first conversion to Catholicism occurred when he was a 19-year-old and volunteer ambulance driver in Italy during World War I. Two weeks into the job, he was delivering candy to soldiers on the frontlines when he was hit by machine-gun fire and more than 200 metal fragments from an exploding mortar round. An Italian priest recovered his body, baptized him right on the battlefield and gave him the last rites. 

Hemingway later described what happened this way:

“A big Austrian trench mortar bomb of the type that used to be called ash cans, exploded in the darkness. I died then. I felt my soul or something come right out of my body, like you’d pull a silk handkerchief out of a pocket by one corner.  It flew around and then came back and went in again and I wasn’t dead anymore.”

After having been anointed, Hemingway described himself as having become a “Super-Catholic.” It was a near-death experience that changed the course of his life. After the war, he went to work as a foreign correspondent in Paris. And eight years later — after his first marriage failed — he undertook a second, more formal conversion process in preparation for marriage to his second wife, devout Catholic Pauline Pfieffer.

It was at this time that Hemingway changed the title of his unpublished first novel, tentatively titled “Lost Generation,” to “The Sun Also Rises.” And writing to another friend, he declared, “If I am anything I am a Catholic . . . I cannot imagine taking any other religion seriously.”

He attended Mass (albeit irregularly) for the rest of his life and went on pilgrimages, received confession, had Masses said for friends and relatives, and raised his three sons as Catholics. Most of his novels are set in Catholic countries, and his last great hero (Santiago of “The Old Man and the Sea”) was a devout suffering servant, much in the cruciform mold of most of his heroes. When he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954, he gave away the medal as a votive offering to “Our Lady of Cobre” in Havana.

Unfortunately, his subsequent divorces and additional marriages, drunken brawling, domestic abuse, poison pen letters, paranoia, megalomania, and habitual womanizing tarnished his youthful sense of himself as a “super-Catholic.” Hemingway never wanted to be known as a “Catholic writer” because he simply felt he couldn’t live up to the responsibility.

In a letter to his friend Father Vincent Donavan in 1927 just before he married his second wife, Hemingway wrote, “I have always had more faith than intelligence or knowledge and I have never wanted to be known as a Catholic writer because I know the importance of setting an example — and I have never set a good example.” (Read more.)


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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Anniversary of the Paris Commune


 From the Catholic News Service:
On Paris’ Rue Haxo, a white-brick church commemorates dozens of Catholic clergy who fell victim to one of modern Europe’s bloodiest uprisings. Its 150th anniversary will be marked in the last week of May with a series of commemorative events.

“The Paris Commune was an attempted revolution, and it was essentially anti-religious — seeking not just separation of church and state, but the confiscation of church properties,” explained Father Jacques Benoist, a French theologian and historian.

“It sought to erase the Catholic Church from the public domain and view its functionaries as just private citizens, bound by unconditional loyalty to the prevailing power. This is what provoked such conflict.”

The commune’s proclamation in 1871, just four years after Europe’s royal families had come to Paris for an exhibition of modern fashion and business, shocked the continent. A negotiations offer by President Louis Adolphe Thiers was rebuffed by the rebels, and on March 18, in a blaze of red flags, the workers’ commune was announced.

City factories were turned into cooperatives, wages standardized and empty houses commandeered for the homeless, while a column celebrating victories by Emperor Napoleon was pulled down. Two months later, after shelling Paris, French military forces crossed the River Seine and entered the city. It took them a week to clear Paris of suspected Communards. The military summarily executed at least 20,000 and arrested 43,000 more in what became known as the “semaine sanglante” (bloody week.)

The Communards had targeted France’s Catholic Church, abolishing religious education and using places of worship as political clubs. In early April, some 200 clergy were detained with other prominent figures as hostages against French government army reprisals. They included Archbishop Georges Darboy of Paris.

“For 19 centuries, you’ve stifled free thought in the name of your Christ religion,” Raoul Rigault, the commune’s 25-year-old security chief, told him. “Now it’s the turn of free thought to get the better of you!”

The commune offered to swap Archbishop Darboy for the revolutionary Louis Auguste Blanqui, who had been elected commune president from his government prison cell. Thiers rejected the offer, effectively sealing the archbishop’s fate. On May 24, the archbishop and five priests died against the wall of La Roquette prison; the archbishop is said to have blessed his executioners.

A group of 30 Dominican priests was shot a day later on Rue d’Italie, while on May 26, 11 Jesuit and Sacred Heart priests were marched with other captives to Rue Haxo in the commune’s last northeastern stronghold and similarly gunned down.

“Atheism and internationalism were in the air, inspired by Karl Marx and others, so it was logical the Communards chose to make an example of Darboy and other clergy in a bid to appear strong and resolute,” explained Father Benoist.

“Marx himself, from the safety of London, believed the commune had broken the church’s power and welcomed its anti-religious excesses as the glorious beginning of a new workers’ society.”

With the commune crushed, Thiers claimed to have vanquished the revolutionary cause forever, while photo-montages were used to incriminate the rebels as degenerates. The body of Archbishop Darboy was recovered from a ditch and given a state funeral, while Sacré-Cœur Basilica was built at Montmartre to symbolize the restored moral order. With dozens of its clergy murdered, the Catholic Church made efforts to embrace reforms. (Read more.)
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The Wrong Kind of Mess

 From Archbishop Chaput at First Things:

Like any family, the Church has basic rules for inclusion that require certain behaviors. No family can endlessly sustain behavior that compromises its own identity and well-being. Nor is any family borderless. If, as Vatican II insisted, the Eucharist is “the source and summit” of Catholic life, then reverence for the sacrament, its meaning, and its proper reception mark our family’s border. In Germany, the violation of that reverence involves sharing the Eucharist with persons who quite consciously do not accept Catholic belief and thus do not belong to the Catholic community. In the United States, the circumstances may be different, but the substance of the issue—who can and should receive the Eucharist—is essentially the same.  

Persons who do not believe in the Real Presence, who ignore or do not accept Church teaching, or who are otherwise objectively in a state of serious sin, should not present themselves for Communion. It’s that simple and that serious. If they do, they not only put their own souls in grave jeopardy, but—just as grievously—they also violate the rights of Catholics who do seek to live their faith authentically.  

This Eucharistic discipline, the coherence of Catholic belief and the behavior it requires, is rooted both in Scripture and constant Church practice. It applies to all Catholics, not merely public officials, and it applies all the time and everywhere. There is nothing intentionally “political” about it. Claiming that it weaponizes the Eucharist for political ends is both misleading and, when advanced by anyone in Church leadership, inexcusable. No bishop eagerly seeks to punish or publicly humiliate anyone by denying a person Communion. Such an action is always a last resort for the salvation of the sinner’s soul. Additionally, in today’s thoroughly cynical media environment, any such action invites a storm of faux outrage over the “martyrdom” of the wounded public figure. But the obligation of “eucharistic coherence”—i.e., conforming our private and public lives to what the Church teaches and what we claim to believe as Catholics—remains as a matter of personal integrity. And Denver’s Archbishop Samuel Aquila and San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone have articulated that fact very well.

Today’s dust-up over Communion for the likes of President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the latest rerun of a 48-year-old argument that began with Roe v. Wade. Roe’s permissive abortion license created a profoundly inconvenient problem for Catholics who describe themselves as “progressive.” There is nothing progressive about allowing the intentional killing of unborn human life. Early Church Fathers quite rightly called abortion a form of homicide, and while other serious issues like racial equality, immigration, poverty, and health care clearly demand our attention, none of them alone nor all of them together can balance or cancel out the iniquity of tolerating a regime of systematic homicide against innocent human beings. Arguing (as some do) that the child in utero is not fully a person, and thus not entitled to the protection of the law, is, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggested decades ago in his Ethics, a uniquely obscene form of self-deceit.

The Democratic party now functions as a franchise of the abortion industry, with the right to abortion as a new kind of sacrament. Saying this does not excuse the many examples of callousness and hypocrisy—their name is Legion—one can easily find in Republican ranks. But what now distinguishes self-described Catholic public figures like President Biden and Speaker Pelosi is not just their surrender to the abortion lobby, but their enthusiastic embrace of its policies. For this, there is no precedent.

Or perhaps not quite. As Randall Smith noted recently, many prominent American Catholics in the 1800s, including clergy and some bishops, defended slavery or owned slaves themselves, despite centuries of vigorous papal attacks on the evil of slavery. It’s thus ironic that U.S. and Roman roles today seem to be reversed. Most American bishops seek a strong, faithful, and unified conference statement on eucharistic coherence in the face of an entrenched abortion regime. It is Rome’s Cardinal Luis Ladaria that now counsels a more patient approach on the matter of Communion and politicians, with more dialogue and discussion—as if that strategy hadn’t already been tried and failed, repeatedly, for the last four decades. There’s a reason Nancy Pelosi was “pleased” (her word) with the recent letter from the CDF’s prefect Ladaria to USCCB president Archbishop José Gomez. It can only provide her with cover, assuming she even bothers with such details. The letter also fleshes out what Rome may actually mean by that ambiguous word “synodality.” (Read more.)


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Durrington Walls

 From Atlas Obscura:

Stonehenge is notorious for its scale, with its trilithons (the Jenga-block constructions of two upright stones with a large stone lying flat across the top) clocking in at over 20 feet, and a total site diameter of nearly 100 feet. The newly found pits—20 have been found so far, and there are likely more—are about two miles from Stonehenge, near the town of Durrington, and are about 16 feet deep. The pits form an arc with a diameter of over a mile, with a gap on its western side—like a giant crescent moon partially encircling the site of Durrington Walls, another “superhenge” enclosure. It brings to mind a giant eye, with Durrington Walls, itself 1,600 feet across, as the pupil. The complex is just a couple of miles from Stonehenge.

It’s clear that across Salisbury and beyond, such sites were an inescapable part of Neolithic life. They were used by people across the island, likely for ritual purposes (though Durrington Walls also hosted a village at some point). The Wilsford Shaft, a 90-foot hole just southwest of Stonehenge and excavated in the mid-1960s, turned up a number of ancient objects at the bottom. Gaffney’s team found bone and struck flint at the bottom of the holes near Durrington. (Read more.)
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Monday, May 24, 2021

Hudson Valley Weekend Retreat



 From Architectural Digest:

The ramshackle horse barn, which sat quietly among the lush maples and oaks of New York’s Hudson Valley, was barely salvageable. But it had a sort of nobility that captivated designer Richard Felix-Ashman. “At first I didn’t know whether to go the extra mile—or the extra thousand miles—to renovate something that was dilapidated,” he says. “But the proportions were just remarkable; in architecture we only get those kinds of spaces in religious buildings or railway stations, so my clients and I began to think of ways to reimagine this fallen-down structure that had so much dignity to it.”

Felix-Ashman’s clients, a bicoastal couple with grown kids, wanted a place where they could host friends and family. One of their priorities was to build an ultraspacious restaurant-style kitchen, a request that could be easily accommodated in the barn, what with its double-height ceilings and nearly 4,000 square feet of living space. And so they decided to go ahead with the reconstruction of the 1920s structure, which included raising the pitched roof of its nave to create a higher clerestory with more natural light. (Read more.)


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Woke-ism is Swallowing Our Children

 From The New York Post:

"I’m terrified of the woke radicals at my kids’ school”: Rarely a week goes by when I don’t hear some variation on this gripe from fellow parents in New York City. Invariably, they lower their voices, lest prying ears catch them objecting to the official ideology.

These are solidly liberal Manhattanites, mind you. They just don’t want their children being told they carry the ­unwashable stain of racial sin. And they’d ­really rather have their kids master real knowledge, instead of ­being taught to meditate endlessly on their own race, gender and sexuality. 

As the only “out” conservative they know, I’m often the only person these parents can pour out their ­anguish to. And I’m wearying of the job.

I worry just as much about the rise of the woke. Yet I’ve come to view the ambient liberalism these New Yorkers take for granted as a big part of the problem. It doesn’t suffice to overcome wokeness, because it forms people to be selfish and self-maximizing, to avoid deep commitments of any kind. (Read more.)


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On the Issue of Divorce

 From Leila Miller:

This is the mind of the Church, from Canon Law (emphasis mine):

1153 §1. If either of the spouses causes grave mental or physical danger to the other spouse or to the offspring or otherwise renders common life too difficult, that spouse gives the other a legitimate cause for leaving, either by decree of the local ordinary or even on his or her own authority if there is danger in delay.

§2. In all cases, when the cause for the separation ceases, conjugal living must be restored unless ecclesiastical authority has established otherwise.

The Church, in mind and teaching and law, gives permission for physical separation, but always with the hope of future reconciliation. Even should circumstances require separation to be indefinite, the marriage bond remains, with no “moving on” of the spouses. And, although in limited cases the Church will “tolerate” civil divorce if it’s the “only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights” (CCC 2383), such a decree does not make one “unmarried”—and Catholics must never adopt the dangerous mindset that it does.

How many of us know and understand the mind of the Church on this? Further, how many of us fight for the mind of the Church on this?  (Read more.)

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Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Stockholm Apartment

 From Architectural Digest:

“In Sweden, we have this concept called Jantelagen,” says Joanna Laven. “It means that you should not think that you are better at something than anyone else.” Because of this, Swedes are not likely to outsource parts of their lives with nannies, cleaning support, and, notably, interior designers. To the Swedish, it is hard to be proud of something you did not design yourself. Luckily for designers Laven and David Walgren, citizens of the Scandinavian nation are beginning to realize that designers can help a space reach its full potential.

Walgren and Laven collaborated on this late 19th-century Stockholm apartment on Strandvägen, a sought-after waterfront boulevard. Typically, Swedish design is not too showy, with a focus on simplicity and minimalism. These clients, however, had a penchant for grand interiors, albeit ones with clear taste. Because of their busy work lives, they wanted space to unwind in, and a space that felt like home. Zeroing in on what exactly is the clients’ vision is “almost like being a shrink,” comments Laven. Often, she finds herself asking: “What do you like? How can we channel that throughout the space?” The result of her collaborative mindset are interiors that often appear more warm and striking than what one might expect. (Read more.)


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Men Give Birth, America Was Founded in 1619, and Other Delusions

 From Dennis Prager at American Greatness:

The Left demands we believe and announce that men menstruate and give birth, and that it is in no way unfair to girls and women when biological men compete in girls’ and women’s sports.

In tens of thousands of American schools, students are brainwashed to believe that America was not founded in 1776 but in 1619, the year the first Africans were brought to North America as indentured servants or slaves. This is the “1619 Project” lie: It was labeled a lie by almost every leading historian of early America, many of whom are Democrats and liberals who supported the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

And now, with Hamas—a totalitarian theocratic Islamist terror group—unleashing thousands of rockets on Israel’s civilian population and Israel responding to this latest of repeated attempts at mass murder, the world’s left demands that we believe Israel is the villain and Hamas is the victim. The Left’s condemnation of Israel and sympathy for Hamas is just another example of the morally inverted world the Left has constructed.

We live in a world in which the mass media and academia—all nothing more than mouthpieces of the left—repeatedly tell the world that America fought the Revolutionary War in order to preserve slavery, that men menstruate, and that Hamas is a victim of Israeli aggression. (Read more.)
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Was Edward IV Illegitimate?

 From J-M's History Corner:

There are, however, multiple problems with this.

First off, some background information: Edward IV was born on 28 April 1442, the second son – but eldest surviving – of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (later Prince of Wales) (1411-1460) and his wife Cecily Neville, Duchess of York (and later Princess of Wales) (1415-1495). His father Richard was the senior legitimate descendant of King Edward III of England (1312-1377) according to male-preference primogeniture, and was thus a fierce rival of his cousin King Henry VI, whom he fought for the throne, dying just a year before Henry’s deposition.

Now, what is the reasoning used for King Edward’s alleged illegitimacy?

Well, assuming that Edward was born neither early nor late, then he would’ve been conceived in either late July or early August 1441 (since he was born on 28 April 1442). In 1441, Richard and Cecily lived in Rouen – but between 14 July & 21 August, Richard was in Pontoise, lifting the siege on the city.

It’s generally argued that Edward couldn’t have been premature since that would’ve been recorded, and therefore he couldn’t have been Richard’s son since the two were “over 100 miles apart” at the presumed time of conception. Also, unlike some of his other siblings, Edward received a low-key baptism. He also didn’t look much like Richard, and unlike Richard, was rather tall.

That’s the main evidence for Edward’s illegitimacy; some also point to a claim that Cecily threatened to oust Edward as illegitimate when she heard his choice of bride, but there’s little evidence that that exchange ever took place. It’s like the claims of Queen Elizabeth II being mad at Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, or the general press claims about the Duchess: no evidence or particular reason to believe it, just gossip and rumours.

What about the other claims? Well, whoever originated the claim that Pontoise was “over 100 miles” away from Rouen was extremely ignorant about French geography; the two cities are actually about 57.6 miles, or 92.7 kilometres, apart, and in medieval times they were connected by a Roman road. In short, the distance is much shorter than what some Edward-was-illegitimate promoters would have you believe. Some say it’s feasible that Richard could have come to Rouen during that time for a brief visit or two to his wife – or perhaps she could have briefly visited him.

But another important detail is that whereas Richard’s whereabouts during this time are documented, Cecily’s are not. Despite some claims, it’s not known for certain whether she stayed in Rouen during this time, or whether she accompanied her husband to Pontoise. If she did accompany her husband, then dates of conception are no objection to Edward’s legitimacy.

And even if she didn’t accompany her husband, and Edward was Richard’s son, then he was only born either 2 weeks late or 3 weeks early. One of my brothers was 2 1/2 weeks late (now THAT was a wait!). And despite some claims, premature births weren’t always noted as premature back then. And given the higher infant mortality rates & the belief that unbaptised babies couldn’t be saved, a premature baby would be likely to have a quick, low-key baptism – exactly the baptism that Edward IV received. A premature birth would be especially worrying for the Yorks since they lost an infant son just a year before Edward’s birth – all the more reason for a quick, hurried baptism.

You’ll find some claim that if Edward was Richard’s son, then he would’ve had an 11-month pregnancy. As anyone can determine by simple maths, if he was overdue, it was probably a 9 1/2 month pregnancy, which my mother has had TWICE.

What about King Edward IV not looking like his father, the Duke of York? I don’t look like my father. Does this make me not my father’s son? No! I look like my mother. No contemporaries noted whether or not Edward looked like his mother, or one of his 4 grandparents. (And yes, sometimes someone will look more like one of their grandparents than one of their parents – Henry VIII, for example, apparently most resembled his grandfather Edward IV, the subject of this article.) Medeival paintings aren’t the best way to compare resemblance, but I’d say that Edward didn’t look unlike his mother.

What about his height? Edward’s forebearers on BOTH sides included many tall people (Richard and Cecily were second cousins), with Cecily’s grandfather John of Gaunt being famously over 6 foot. Throwbacks are a thing – for example, no-one knows where my Mum’s olive skin comes from, as her family is white.

AND the resemblance and height, if used as evidence for Edward’s “illegitimacy”, also implicate his brother George – the one Tony Robinson and others tout as the “rightful heir” – as George and a couple of the other York children were noted to resemble Edward and be unusually tall. IF Edward was illegitimate and inherited his looks & height from his biological father, then the Abney-Hastings simply don’t have a claim to the throne.

WHY IT WOULDN’T MATTER EVEN IF EDWARD WAS ILLEGITIMATE

Edward IV didn’t inherit the throne; he seized it by force. He gained the throne BY CONQUEST, same as William the Conqueror – WHO WAS INDISPUTABLY ILLEGITIMATE, yet no-one questions the legitimacy of him or his successors. EDWARD’S ALLEGED ILLEGITIMACY, IF TRUE, HAD NO EFFECT ON HIS LEGITIMACY AS SOVEREIGN. (Read more.)

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Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Psychology of Green


My grandmother always said that green walls matched with everything. It seems they help people stay calm. From ArchDaily:

How many changes have you done to your interior space during this past year? Whether it was a change of furniture layout, repainting the walls, adding more light fixtures or perhaps even removing them, after spending so much time in one place, the space you were once used to didn’t make sense anymore. We could blame the overall situation for how we’ve been feeling lately, but as a matter of fact, the interior environment plays a huge role in how we feel or behave as well. However, if you were wondering why some neighbors seem much more undisturbed and serene even in the midst of a pandemic, it could be because the interior is greener on the other side.

In previous articles, we saw how colors change the perception of interior spaces; light colors enlarge rooms, while dark colors compress spaces and make them appear smaller. This is why when designers want to convey a specific mood or create an illusion, they play around with where they place dark walls. The same applies to materials and lighting; their choice selection and placement greatly influence the way people behave within that space.  (Read more.)

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Supreme Court Ruling Against Warrantless Gun Seizures

 From American Greatness:

On Monday, in a rare unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against the Biden Administration in a case regarding the legality of warrantless searches and seizures of firearms, The Epoch Times reports.

The case, Caniglia v. Strom, began oral arguments roughly two months ago. The case stems from an incident in Cranston, Rhode Island, back in August of 2015, where a man named Edward Caniglia had an argument with his wife of 22 years. Eventually, Caniglia withdrew an unloaded gun and suggested that his wife shoot him and “get me out of my misery.” His wife then called the police asking them to carry out a welfare check, where Caniglia was taken to the hospital.

Despite the police’s assurance that his guns would not be confiscated, they ultimately did seize his firearms without a warrant after he had been hospitalized, and refused to return them to him after he was discharged. Caniglia subsequently sued, claiming that the exception for community caretaking, which is what the police claimed to have used in this case, should not apply inside his home.

The Biden Administration’s Department of Justice, represented by DOJ lawyer Morgan Ratner, argued in favor of the city’s actions, claiming that “the label you give it is not nearly as important as principle. And the key principle is if someone is at risk of serious harm and it’s reasonable for officials to intervene now, that is enough.” (Read more.)
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Rennes-le-Château

 From Atlas Obscura:

Plantard used the chance to popularize the Priory of Sion, which was allegedly a 1000-year-old secret society, founded in Jerusalem during the first Crusade. With the intent of restoring a Merovingian order across Europe and fulfilling prophecies of Nostradamus, the Priory became one of the most discussed orders in the world during the 1960s when Plantard proposed the idea.

Unfortunately, the Priory of Sion was not real. It was never real, and was in fact an elaborate hoax. He created a number of false documents and led the world to believe a secret society existed. These claims were later picked up in bestselling books, and most notably, in the “Da Vinci Code.” Despite the excitement generated by Plantard’s claims, the order was completely debunked.

However, while the myth was destroyed, the small commune of Rennes-le-Château was changed forever. Thousands of tourists poured into the town, whose native population had hardly reached 100. Excavations were performed looking for treasure and clues to the world’s biggest conspiracy theory. Today, even after all conspiracies have been proven false, hundreds search Sainte Marie-Madeleine Church and other buildings in the village for clues proving the sleepy town is in fact more interesting than it really is. (Read more.)


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Friday, May 21, 2021

Home Farm Cooking

A very monastic-looking setup. From Architectural Digest:

The architect and designer behind high-profile projects like the recently-opened West Hollywood Edition and London’s Design Museum, John Pawson is known for his light, minimalist touch. Pale woods. Clean lines. Never an overstuffed sofa. And the new Cotswolds country house he shares with his interior designer wife, Catherine, is no different—as evidenced by their latest project, Home Farm Cooking (Phaidon). The book of 100 recipes—from gooseberry fool to venison pappardelle—showcases their rustic, restrained home, as well as the meals they make there.

 This isn’t John’s first foray into cookbooks. Twenty years ago, the architect collaborated with food writer Annie Bell on Living and Eating, a publication that combined his pared-back aesthetic with simple-to-make recipes. The 2001 title went on to become a cult classic, inspiring a second iteration. This time, it’s all about a project with Catherine, which celebrates the minimalist home (and kitchen, of course) they’ve created in the Cotswolds. “Twenty years on, we thought, now could be time to do a new one,” says Catherine on a call from their Cotswolds home. (Read more.)


From House and Garden:

There are three kitchens, one at each end of the 50 metre line-up, and the third in the converted hay wain guest house. None of them is immediately obvious. Everything - the batterie de cuisine, ice cream makers, juicers, the Magimix - are either hidden behind bi-fold doors that spring open at the touch of a fingertip, or housed in the pantry and larder. Everything is in triplicate. A first for Catherine. 'Extravagant, I know,' she says, 'but the kitchens are used all year round.'

The family spent the winter months inside the central farmhouse with its low ceilings and fireplace, then moved to the light and airy barn in the summer. A massive sash window, made in Germany with a raw stainless steel frame from Sweden, frames the view and connects the interiors to the outdoors. Spring recipes feature foraged fresh spring greens, wild garlic pesto, nettle risottos; summer marinades for seared meats and salad dressings for al fresco eating. Autumn is spent harvesting wild mushrooms and pumpkins, roasting nuts, pickling red cabbage, caramelising fennel, and making soups. Then Christmas, which Catherine admits is, 'the one time of the year when John indulges my desire for over decoration.'

Married to a world famous minimalist whose projects include a Benedictine monastery in Czechoslavakia, Calvin Klein’s flagship stores, and London’s Design Museum, Catherine’s decorative skills - honed at the Inchbald School of Design and at Colefax and Fowler - have generally been somewhat curbed. It is the first time in 32 years of marriage that John has ever countenanced curtains, even if they are plain white wool ones, and zooming in on their library reveals that in this house their books are no longer covered in fishmongers’ white marbled paper for uniformity. The Donald Judd sofa she bought, a signed and numbered work of art, is, 'madly comfortable, everyone piles into it,' John says approvingly. 'I think the whole thing with marriage is that it is much more important to be with someone you get on with, than someone who has architecturally the same taste.' (Read more.)




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The Progressive Dream Of A Welfare State

 From Gregg Jarrett:

True to form, that’s what Biden has done.  As the most recent dismal jobs report showed, he’s managed to screw up the economy by creating an insensible welfare state where workers earn more sitting on their duffs and collecting Joe’s stimulus checks.  It will only get worse as Biden seeks to expand government largess beyond sustainability.

Biden’s tax and spending plan will increase corporate taxes to 28% from 21% costing a million jobs, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.  It gets worse.  He wants to double the capital gains tax to 43.4%, as well as hike death taxes and the top individual income tax rate.

The net effect is that the American economy —still struggling to revive from the pandemic precipice— will crater.  Investments in small businesses and new tech companies will dry up with less money available.  Consumers will pay higher prices as businesses pass along the new tax to them.  Jobs will slowly vanish and wages will diminish when the tax shock forces companies to revamp and retract.

But Joe thinks it will all be worth it.  His perverse dream of a welfare state will come true.  In reality, it will be an economic nightmare.

My wife and I went to a restaurant the other night.  There was only one waiter and one chef to service the crowd intent on celebrating Mother’s Day.  But the hungry diners were told that the only thing the kitchen could handle was pizza.  And it would be an hour wait just to get that.

What was the problem?  It turns out that no one wanted to work at the restaurant anymore.  Why would they?  When the government pays you not to work, it’s nicer to sit on the couch watching ball games…or frolicking at the beach…or playing with the kids in the park.

We found the same scenario unfolding at the nearby market.  There was only one cashier to service a store full of grocery shoppers.  Again, the reason was familiar —workers had no incentive to work.  Indeed, Biden had created a disincentive.  His $2 trillion stimulus package handed workers a “Biden Bonus” of $300 on top of their existing unemployment check each and every week.  Factor in other sumptuous government payments and it makes little financial sense for millions of Americans to work when they can pocket more money by not working.

Thus, I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that no one showed up at a nearby job fair —except prospective employers desperately anxious to fill needed jobs.  I shared all of this with a few friends of mine over coffee.  They repeated identical stories.  They noted signs on store fronts and restaurants warning of staffing problems.

There is no scarcity of available jobs, mind you.  It’s just the opposite.  Fewer people have a monetary motive to work.  As the Wall Street Journal noted, any worker earning less than $32,000 annually would get a raise by going on unemployment, thanks to Joe’s “Biden Bonus.”  Thousands of employers have been complaining about it.  Loudly.  But Biden either can’t hear or won’t listen.

All told, there are more than 8 million vacant jobs waiting to be filled, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Labor Department.  The problem is especially acute in food services and accommodation, leisure and hospitality, state and local education, and arts and entertainment.  All of those open positions will never be filled as long as idle workers can make more money collecting government checks that will continue to roll in for the next six long months.  I can’t say that I blame them.  Who wants to make less money by actually working for it when you can make more money by not working at all?  It’s common sense.

What defies common sense is why Biden pushed for the increased benefits just when the pandemic turned the corner, lockdowns were lifted, more people got vaccinated, and businesses started opening up again.  That’s when the financial safety valve should have been turned off.  Instead, Biden kept the money spigot flowing wide open causing direct harm to the recovering labor market…which, in turn, led to further damage to companies and the economy.

Is it any wonder that 125,000 people quit their jobs in one month alone?  Should we be surprised that the U.S. added just 266,000 new jobs in April —shockingly below the 1 million forecast by Wall Street or the 2 million estimated by some economists?  Of course not.  As Obama coarsely predicted, Joe could screw up a free lunch.

All Biden had to do was nothing at all.  The jobs market was poised to take off like a SpaceX rocket.  After a year of shutdowns that devastated businesses, the engines of economic growth were primed and ready to roar back to life.  Then Joe stepped in and mucked up the works.

Without a single Republican vote in either the House or Senate, the president and his Democrat allies jammed through his $2 trillion-dollar spending spree that dropped like an anvil on the jobs market.  He was warned it would happen, but he refused to unclog his ears.  He was so dedicated to the progressive ideal of a vast welfare state that he was deaf and blind to the reality of fundamental economics.  That is, while it may be constructive to provide an emergency (and temporary) safety net when jobs are in short supply, it is destructive and foolhardy to do it when there’s a glut of open jobs.

Even an economic neophyte knows that a remedy only works during a crisis, not when it recedes.  You don’t apply iodine to a wound when the infection subsides.  You leave it alone and let it heal on its own.  The U.S. economy, like the human body, is resilient.  It will recover if you don’t over-treat or over-medicate.  But Biden, who views himself as the second coming of FDR, couldn’t help himself.  His lame effort at replicating the New Deal turned into the New Raw Deal.  His decision to hand out money like candy at the local fair made the economy sick at the very moment it was poised to get well.

There is some good news.  Nine governors who recognize the insane and corrosive effect of the Biden give-away are rejecting the enhanced federal benefits.  They are following the lead of the U.S Chamber of Commerce which called for the end to the “Biden Bonus.”  But that still leaves 41 states stuck with Joe’s program that actively discourages people from returning to work.  Thanks to Joe, the economy cannot possibly produce enough goods and services to meet the soaring demand now that the pandemic has eased.

Biden seems to be in denial that he overplayed his hand.  He refuses to accept the obvious facts corroborated by statistical evidence.  He dismissed the notion that his wasteful payments are to blame for the anemic jobs numbers by saying, “We don’t see much evidence of that.”  Really?  When was the last time you talked to a real employer, Joe?  Or a real worker?  How long has it been since you shopped in a store or dined in a public restaurant?  Biden is oblivious.  He has no idea what’s going on outside his sequestered bubble.

Remember that Biden spent last year in a basement bunker in his Delaware compound.  Since being sworn in as president in January, he’s barely emerged from the White House.  When he does, everything is carefully choreographed by his handlers.  He rarely talks to reporters.  He’s been scolded for doing so and recently admitted it.  His remarks are always scripted in a teleprompter written by some unnamed aide who takes his marching orders from…well…no one really knows.  If Nixon was the imperial president, Biden is the clueless president. (Read more.)

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