Thursday, September 30, 2021


 From The Historian's Hut:

There are many ancient accounts and commentaries about the origin of the centaurs, a mythological race of half-horse, half-man beings supposedly located in the mountainous regions of Thessaly and Arcadia. Writers such as Pindar, Diodorus Siculus, Cicero and Plutarch all traced the origin of the centaurs to a scandalous incident that allegedly occurred on Olympus, the home of the ancient Greek gods.

As the tales tell, there lived a man named Ixion, who was a king of the Lapiths, in ancient Thessaly. He was a demigod, whose lineage varied depending on the source, but it often connected in some way or other to Ares, the god of war and aggression. Ixion was not a good man—his misadventure began when he murdered his father-in-law, a crime that required purification. So, seeking to be purified, Ixion used his divine parentage to be received as a guest to Olympus, where he mingled with the gods.

During his stay on Olympus, Ixion became obsessed with one particular goddess and was determined to seduce her. He could not have set his sights on a more dangerous target. She was one half of Olympus’ most powerful and most jealous couple—her name was Hera, queen of the gods.

Ixion’s desires did not go unnoticed by Hera, and he was so pushy with his feelings that the queen of the gods brought up the troubling matter in conversation with her husband, Zeus. The mighty sky-god was skeptical of the claim, but he was curious enough to put Ixion to the test.

In an ethically questionable move, Zeus created a new female life, a nymph, made from the clouds and shaped to look exactly like Hera. The cloud creature, however, was not a lifeless puppet; her name was Nephele and she had a mind and personality of her own. Nevertheless, Zeus ensured that this newly born deity crossed Ixion’s path. Some accounts claimed that Zeus went as far as putting Nephele directly in Ixion’s bed. According to the tales, when Ixion finally came into contact with Nephele, he lost all control of his desires and raped the unsuspecting nymph. (Read more.)


More HERE. And HERE.


We Have Met the Enemy, part XXI

 I recall being taught about Money's twin study in college psych courses as if it were gospel truth rather than the sham and child abuse it turned out to be. From Steyn Online:

The end of the David Reimer story is a sad one. I didn't begin this story to depress anyone. I began it so as to be able to eventually highlight a certain characteristic of our culture, in hopes we could trace back to find some ultimate cause—and therefore, a solution. But since I've come this far, I suppose I need to tell the end of the story, sad as it is, then trace back from there.

No sooner had Diamond and Sigmundson's exposé of John Money's failed experiment appeared in the March 1997 issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, than media picked up the story. The New York Times published a report on the piece with the headline, "Sexual Identity Not Pliable After All, Report Says". Time magazine—which had gleefully trumpeted Money's "success" 24 year earlier—followed suit, now announcing "the experts had it all wrong" and describing the story as "a lesson in scientific hubris".

You'll recall from last time Reimer's shock at hearing that Money had spent years describing his case as a success, and that because of Money's lies, surgeons around the world now routinely did to babies what Money's team had done to him. Determined to stop Money and his unconscionable medical malpractice, Reimer decided to keep sharing his story with the world.

Using an alias, Reimer first granted an extended interview to Canadian journalist John Colapinto. The result was arguably the most important article Rolling Stone has ever published—a 20,000 word piece called "The True Story of John/Joan". (Colapinto later turned his article into a book called As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl).

Reimer then decided to appear with his mother, using his own name, on the The Oprah Winfrey Show (a few minutes of which you can see here). Now feeling more confident, he appeared on various radio and TV shows, including Dateline NBC and Good Morning America. He next sat for an extended interview for the CBC show "The Fifth Estate", footage from which was afterward used in several documentaries. One was a BBC documentary which you can watch here, and whose narrator concludes by saying, "Nature, as far as gender identity is concerned, cannot be overridden by nurture...This (story) is what can happen when science pursues a 'beautiful' theory with scant regard for the human cost". Another was a Learning Channel documentary, whose four parts you can watch here: 1, 2, 3, and 4). Reimer even convinced his reluctant twin brother Brian to appear. Among other benefits of Brian appearing, David believed a second testimony would lend force to his own. That would help convince the medical establishment to reject Money's claims and cease the surgeries. At least, that's what David Reimer thought.

What happened next wasn't what David (or his brother) expected. Yes, Oprah, the BBC, Colapinto, and various other reporters and medical experts believed David and acknowledged Money's fraud. But to the brothers' distress, rather than widespread professional repudiation of Money and the surgeries he inspired...nothing much changed. The medical establishment just kept on doing what it had been doing for years: following Money's recommendations to turn boys into girls whenever boys had underdeveloped, damaged, or intersex genitals. Adding to their distress was that a parade of Money's cult-groupies in academia began publicly defending their guru, praising him as a visionary, endorsing his past practices, conveying his messages to the media, blaming the Reimer parents for the experiment's failure, and most woundingly of all, suggesting the Reimer brothers had hallucinated their memories of Money's abuse.

For example, starting at :37 of this video, you can watch lifelong Money acolyte Richard Green—then a research director at the Charing Cross Hospital Gender Identity Clinic in London—convey Money's denial of the abuse, and then suggest the Reimer twins' memories were false. (Elsewhere in one of the documentaries, Green proclaims Money a "genius").

Another Money cult groupie, Kenneth Zucker of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto, published an article in Pediatrics suggesting that Money's experiment only appeared to be a failure. The jury was actually still out. The reason, Zucker implied, was that no one could 10000% absolutely prove beyond any doubt why exactly it had failed—and therefore, it was possible that Reimer's parents had ruined the experiment by not following Money's child rearing instructions strictly enough. Consequently, everyone should assume Money's theory of psychosexual neutrality at birth remained viable.

(Where did Zucker get the idea for this absurd "sleight of mind" attempt? Most likely, from John Money himself. As Zucker later admitted to Rolling Stone journalist Colapinto, Money had essentially masterminded his article. Money had even provided Zucker with the article's main story about another little boy who'd received the surgery and the Money-style childrearing, but who—unlike David Reimer—was now living happily as a woman (meaning, of course, that Money's theory was true). But when Colapinto pressed Zucker for details on the fake sounding case, Zucker admitted he'd never met the person and hardly knew anything about him. The unverifiable story was obviously another Money fabrication—yet Zucker's article had already appeared in the high status, peer-reviewed, official journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics.)

In the few comments Money himself made about his now-exposed failed experiment, he blamed the media controversy on "right wing forces" with an "anti-feminist agenda" bent on "sending women back into the kitchen". He claimed his academic enemies had targeted him because of personal vendettas. He claimed he wasn't responsible for the failure since David Reimer never returned to see him after fourteen and Money didn't know how to contact him (which was not true) and a dozen other pathetic excuses. But most relevant to the Reimer twins was Money's accusation that the twins were making up their abuse claims, and that their motive was wealth and fame.

The accusations of lying from Money and his academic goon squad stung the Reimers. So did what looked like indifference on the part of the medical establishment. An exasperated David would later tell an interviewer: "I'm living proof...if you're not going to take my word as gospel, because I have lived through it, who else are you going to listen to? Who else is there?...Is it going to take somebody to wind up killing themselves, shooting themselves in the head for people to listen?" David's brother Brian, in particular, took the reaction hard. He'd never fully recovered from the bitter shock of finding out his parents had lied to him for fourteen years about his twin brother. Nor had he been able to reconcile himself to the incestous (and now, he realized, homosexual) sexual behavior John Money had forced him and "Brenda" to simulate on each other as kids, at times disrobed, as Money took photos. For years before his appearance with David on TV, he had struggled to overcome his feelings of revulsion, mistrust, resentment, dissociation, and humiliation. At times, these inner challenges, as well self-medicating alcohol and drug use, pushed him into schizophrenic states. (Read more.)


The Empty Promises of the World

 From Monsignor Charles Pope:

The world and the “prince of this world” are always promising results, yet when those results aren’t forthcoming there are only more demands. First the bird, then the ladder, the bell, the mirror, and the swing. There is always just one more thing that’s needed before the perfect result comes! But it’s a lie. The lie comes in many forms: you just need one more accessory, or the upgraded version of the app, or just one more drink, or a newer car, or a bigger house, or a face lift, or bariatric surgery. Yes, you just need one more thing and then you’ll be there. Happiness is always just past the next purchase.

In speaking to the woman at the well, Jesus said, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again (Jn 4:13). And that is the sober truth about this world: it cannot finally quench our thirst, which is a thirst for God and Heaven. But time and time again we go back to the world and listen to the same lie, thinking that this time it will be different. Surely it is sensible to make use of the things of this world to aid us in accomplishing our basic duties, but they are not the answer to our deeper needs. The big lie is that they are the answer. And when they fail to satisfy us, the lie just gets bigger, declaring that just a little more of it will surely close the deal. (Read more.)


Wednesday, September 29, 2021



From Ancient Origins:

The griffin is a legendary creature with the head and wings of an eagle, and the body, tail, and hind legs of a lion. As the eagle was considered the ‘king of the birds’, and the lion the ‘king of the beasts’, the griffin was perceived as a powerful and majestic creature.  During the Persian Empire, the griffin was seen as a protector from evil, witchcraft, and slander. Although the griffin is often seen in medieval heraldry, its origins stretch further back in time. For instance, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote

“But in the north of Europe there is by far the most gold. In this matter again I cannot say with assurance how the gold is produced, but it is said that one-eyed men called Arimaspians steal it from griffins. But I do not believe this, that there are one-eyed men who have a nature otherwise the same as other men. The most outlying lands, though, as they enclose and wholly surround all the rest of the world, are likely to have those things which we think the finest and the rarest.”  (Herodotus, The Histories , 3.116) (Read more.)

More HERE. And HERE.


An American Horror Story

 From American Greatness:

The Justice Department accused Caldwell and two Oath Keepers—Donovan Crowl and Jessica Watkins—of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6. “Records obtained from Facebook indicate that CALDWELL was involved in planning and coordinating the January 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol in which WATKINS, CROWL, and other Oath Keeper militia members participated,” the government’s criminal complaint read. Prosecutors claimed Caldwell had a “leadership role within the Oath Keepers.”

The lead prosecutor at Caldwell’s January 19 hearing argued he should remain behind bars. “The nature of the offense . . . is very much directed at the fabric of our democracy, the attempt of insurrection and to overthrow what was occurring on January 6,” assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh said. “These events threatened the safety of members, the staff, the police. Five people died including one Capitol police officer.”

Caldwell never entered the Capitol building, has no criminal record, and honorably served the country for 20 years in the military, but Judge Hoppe agreed with the government to keep him behind bars. “The conduct and the statements of Mr. Caldwell . . . it really just is pure lawlessness and contempt for laws of this country,” Hoppe said, referring to some of Caldwell’s Facebook posts and texts.

Caldwell spent 53 days in jail, 49 of them in solitary confinement. He could not access his medication to relieve excruciating back pain caused by spinal injuries Caldwell suffered while serving in the Navy. When prison guards asked why he was incarcerated, he said, “I’m a political prisoner because of January 6.”

In prison, Caldwell said he suffered “sadistic brutality by some correctional officers and there was warmth and compassion, the latter by other employees and every single inmate.” His faith, he said, and the love of his wife sustained him. “I thought I would die in jail.”

Caldwell also found a new attorney, David W. Fischer, to take his case. Fischer immediately filed a motion to release his client, slamming the Justice Department for its initial allegations. 

In less than a month, the Government’s theory as to Caldwell’s role in the claimed conspiracy has morphed from him being the Commander of Oath Keepers . . . who (presumably) led the attack on the east side of the Capitol, to a guy ‘associated’ with the Oath Keepers. Caldwell’s stellar background and military career was, unintentionally, slandered by the Government’s sloppy, rushed investigation. As the Court knows, the Government typically takes months and even years to build cases, painstakingly gathering and evaluating evidence and interviewing witnesses. By contrast, in this case the Government charged a 20-year decorated Navy veteran with no prior record based on a few hours of investigation and without giving him the courtesy of an interview. Authorities did virtually no investigation before branding Caldwell a felon, and have provided multiple inaccurate statements to the Court.

Caldwell finally went home in March; he remains on home detention with limited ability to leave his farm. (Read more.)


Dido of Carthage

 From Ancient Origins:

Belus had hoped that after his death, the governance of Tyre would be divided equally between Dido and Pygmalion. This, however, was not to be. When the king died, Pygmalion immediately seized power and had Sychaeus murdered, as he desired his wealth. The ghost of Sychaeus appeared to Dido in a dream, told her the truth about his death, the hidden location of his wealth, and issued a warning to flee from Tyre as Pygmalion would surely kill her next. Therefore, Dido went to retrieve her dead husband’s wealth and fled from the city with her supporters.

Having fled from Tyre, Dido and her band of followers sailed across the Mediterranean and arrived on the coast of North Africa. The former Tyrian princess met a local ruler by the name of Iarbas, who agreed to sell her as much land as the hide of a bull could cover. Dido demonstrated her shrewdness by first cutting the hide into strips and then used it to encircle a large piece of land. It was here that the city of Carthage was founded, and Dido became its first ruler. (Read more.)


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Mapping the English Civil War

From History Hit:

Military maps and plans are drawn and used for the purposes of defence, fortification, military policy, strategy and to deal with the threat of rebellion, invasion and war.

They are also used to record an action retrospectively and, as such, they are an invaluable military record. Furthermore, and importantly, they provide considerable social-historical and non-military information about the surrounding townscape and landscape; its development agriculturally, industrially and demographically.

Official military or topographical maps did exist in the early seventeenth-century, but these were mainly prepared for defence against invasion, fortification of the northern border with Scotland and of naval dockyards and depots. In the wake of the Civil Wars in England (but not Wales) only the major battles were retrospectively mapped and recorded.

In Wales, with the exception of the mapping of some fortifications, the military mapping seems to be non-existent. In Scotland, the mapping concentrated on the rebellion and its subjugation, while in Ireland the mapping tended to focus on Protestant colonialization and the subjugation of the Catholic Irish.

By the early seventeenth-century two cartographers, Christopher Saxon and John Speed, had mapped Britain, but despite advances in surveying technology and printing from engraved copper plates, their works better resembled Tolkien’s map of Middle-earth than the national mapping that appeared 150 years later in the wake of the Jacobite rising and the threat of Napoleonic invasion. (Read more.)



 From The Brownstone Institute:

Increasingly, totalitarian Western governments would then coordinate with other totalitarian governments and with the large international corporations that dominate global flows of information and goods, making it hard for resistance groups to organise. The other causes used to excuse continued control could most obviously be carbon emissions, other diseases including new Covid variants, or the supposed threats posed by other countries.

On balance, competitive pressures between countries make this second scenario highly unlikely. Ambitious, fun-loving populations will flee from totalitarian places to other countries or states that are open for both business and fun. This type of voting with the feet has been a powerful force historically, and has already been observed in the Covid period, for example in the recent US migration from California and New York to less locked-down states like Texas. 

Humans can be manipulated by fear for a while, but they do have other emotions and desires that don’t go away and that eventually carry the day.

The third scenario is that there will be an enormous backlash against those held responsible for the Great Panic and its abuses. The only force we see as powerful enough to embody that backlash and channel it is nationalism. In this scenario, a violent nationalism would start to emerge in many countries that openly battles ‘international elites’, ‘woke culture’, and anything else seen as a threat to the idea of a great nation. We would then witness nationalistic crowds with all their capacity for both renewal and destruction.

This third scenario seems unlikely because life is still too good in rich Western countries to generate the anger and desperation required to make nationalism sufficiently appealing. Also, elites in rich countries already see nationalism as the main threat to their power and are therefore probably willing to strike a compromise that yields up the worst excesses of their own power and wealth, if this reduces the appeal of nationalism.

While we see the first of these possible futures as the most likely, we do not totally discount the other two, streaks of which have already been seen in different regions across the world. Our best bet is that the rich countries will follow the first scenario, and that this example will then be emulated in most of the remaining world, with some exceptions like China. (Read more.)


The Monk Archetype

 From The Christian Review:

Being ‘alone before God’ demands that we stop running from these inner experiences and let go of fear. In order to do this, it takes faith. When we face our inner existential situation in faith, you could say that we slowly learn to get out of the boat as Peter did and walk over the stormy seas. It must be done. The twelve-step spirituality is a good illustration of this. A conscious choice is needed in order to do this. We do not fall into trust. We choose it.

No matter our makeup, be we highly extroverted, or deeply introverted, our restlessness, and the destructive ways that we seek to self-medicate ourselves, has to be faced. It is our relationship with God that can help us to make this inner journey.

We are all inward creatures. Our inner lives are deep and it is from that place that we interpret the world around us. If we do not ‘deal’ with our inner lives, then ‘it’ will deal with us. We are often driven by unconscious forces that can wreak havoc in our lives.

We can only embrace our inner aloneness when we learn that we can always choose to open up our hearts to consciously allow God’s gaze to look into our depths. In order to do this, we have to trust in God’s love for us and swim upstream, which can be exhausting.

Most of our battles are with ourselves. Many of our outer altercations flow from our projecting our inner chaos and pain onto the community, or certain individuals, or  whole groups. The very human tendency to create stereotypes is seen in the daily news.

This kind of altercation is worthless and leads nowhere. This is the place where gossip often finds its beginning. Gossip and detraction is so common that the serious nature of this ‘sin’ is often overlooked and not even considered. Yet to gossip drains love from the heart and soul. It also leads others down that same path. As long as gossip is a habit in our lives, it will be very difficult to grow in the love of God and others. In fact, the opposite can happen without one even knowing that one is poisoning one’s soul.

In marriage, the wedding vows point to a steep path of inner transformation that is lived out in the sacrificial aspect of being wed, as well as raising children, and dealing with other family members. It is an often painful crucible that has to be traversed before inner peace can be found. This is done through prayer, study, growing in humility, which is the fruit of self-knowledge.

I have talked with many couples, and many of them have told me that marriage does not take away from that deep sense of being alone. They have found that living out their faith at its deepest levels is the only way to healing and overcoming the fear of being unaccompanied. As they both mature, they find that their hearts also expand outward to others. Marriages from my experience of listening come about when the man and wife have a listening heart for one another and are quick to forgive. (Read more.)


Monday, September 27, 2021

Charles I and Henrietta Maria at Oxford

 From Merton College:

The assassination of Buckingham in 1628 saved the marriage. Charles and Henrietta Maria found solace together and eight children were born between 1629 and 1644, a family famously celebrated in the portraits of Van Dyck. She developed into a discerning patron of the arts, an enthusiastic developer of houses and gardens, a confident participant in court politics and a committed patron of the Catholic cause in England. King and queen commissioned and participated in court masques that held up their mutual love as a model for the harmony of a wise king and his ordered realm. As tensions grew over Charles’s religious and fiscal policies across his three kingdoms, tensions that would lead in 1637 into a revolt in Scotland, his more anxious subjects saw in such productions evidence not of harmony, but of papist conspiracy at the heart of the court and of the queen at its head. Her elaborate baroque chapel, built by Inigo Jones at Somerset House, her cultivation of continental sacred music, her squad of French Capuchin priests, her encouragement of noble lady converts to Rome and her welcome to papal agents at court all fitted the picture.

As Charles turned reluctantly to his English Parliament to resolve the deepening crisis, criticism of the queen mounted. It was in part fear for her safety that led them to leave London in January 1642 and soon afterwards she crossed to Holland. She was both escorting her daughter to a marriage into the House of Orange and looking for support for her husband’s cause. Early in 1643, she sailed to Bridlington and set herself up at York, helping to direct the royal armies in the north, but her aim was always to re-join the king, who had made Oxford his base and Christ Church his home. Already in February she was writing to him, ‘I am in the greatest impatience in the world to join you’.

By mid-March 1643, rooms at Merton were being prepared for the queen and a route cleared between their host colleges so that king and queen could readily meet. She finally arrived on 14 July, entering the city by coach. There were speeches of welcome and the university authorities presented the queen with gloves and books of poems. Then she walked with Charles from Christ Church through one of the Canon’s gardens and ‘Corpus Christi backeside’ to Merton, where she settled into the Warden’s Lodgings at the junction of Front Quad and Fellows’ Quad. These were conveniently vacant as the Warden, Nathaniel Brent, had fled to London and sided with Parliament, which was by then busy trying to impeach the queen as well as to besiege her husband.

Henrietta Maria already knew Oxford. When she and Charles visited in August 1636, four-year-old Anthony Wood, the great chronicler of 17th-century Oxford who grew up in Postmasters Hall, saw them and remembered it for the rest of his life. Indeed, she already knew Merton, for Warden Brent had entertained the royal couple in 1629. Welcomed to the College with an oration by James Marsh, a long-serving fellow, they spent an hour in the long gallery that stretched from Brent’s lodgings along the top of Fellows’ Quad, enjoying afternoon sweetmeats.

She made her bedroom in Brent’s dining room, now the Breakfast Room, accessible from the stately carved staircase that Brent had just had built, while her entourage occupied the Queen’s Room over the Fitzjames Arch and adjoining areas. They included several servants who died at Oxford and were buried in the College Chapel – Richard North, Ellis Roberts, Mary Skevington – and the widows of aristocratic royalist captains, such as Lady Cobham and the Countess of Northampton. The Chapel hosted her Catholic services and at least one fellow, Dr John Greaves, the Savilian Professor of Astronomy, was later accused of spending far too much time with her Capuchin confessors. (Read more.)

Marriage Medal of Charles I of England and Henrietta of France

From the BBC:

A rare large gold coin from the reign of Charles I has fetched £54,560 at auction. The coin, known as the Triple Unite, was minted in Oxford in 1643 during the English Civil War and had the value of 60 shillings, or three pounds. It depicts the King holding a sword and an olive branch, possibly signifying his desire for peace. It sold earlier at auction house Dix Noonan Webb as part of the Micheal Gietzelt Collection. (Read more.)


Out of Africa

 From Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing:

Students of religion have been saying for a long time that Africa is the future of Christianity. Twenty years ago, Philip Jenkins argued, in his still enlightening book The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, that by 2050 there will be more Catholics in Sub-Saharan Africa than in Europe, and by the end of the century more than there were in the whole world then. (And that was before the rapid decline of Christian numbers in Europe and America.) He also predicted that “global” Christianity, which takes its most dynamic forms (both Catholic and evangelical) in Africa and Asia, will change the face of the churches in the rest of the world.

I have to confess that when I first read that, shortly after the book appeared, I assumed that Jenkins was right, if only owing to sheer population growth in Africa. But if you reflect on the matter a bit, Church growth is never automatic. Children abandon the faith of their parents, the parents themselves drift away or grow indifferent, other influences – notably militant incursions from Islam or economic infiltration by the Chinese – may lead people astray in various parts of the developing world. It takes evangelization – not our first-world fears of  “proselytizing,” but a robust presentation of the Gospel and the truth about the living God – to transmit the Faith across generations, even in Africa.

Happily, the effects of that evangelization don’t stay in Africa. During the past few synods in Rome, the African bishops have stoutly helped hold the line on matters such as marriage, homosexuality, and the formation of young people. Cardinal Kasper, whose work helped get Communion for the divorced and remarried on the table at the two synods on the family, became so exasperated when things didn’t move in the direction he hoped that he was caught on tape saying “they [the Africans] should not tell us too much what we have to do.” If you agree with him about where the Church should go, of course, he had a point. Those traditional societies aren’t intimidated by what they see happening in our confused and – let’s say it frankly – decadent cultures.

For certain churchmen, that’s a potent threat. When you see a picture like this one of people actually happy and devoted to the Faith, you realize what the Church might be again if it returned to its roots and used resources properly. (Read more.)


This Is Just The Beginning

 From Brian Cates:

The indictment of Sussmann is a huge tell about where Durham’s investigation is headed. Many commentators noted that this indictment could have been just a single page in length. All a prosecutor is required to do is establish the basic facts of the offense.  Instead of doing that, Durham spends 27 pages of the Sussmann indictment taking the reader on an extensive and detailed journey into a criminal conspiracy to create fake Russia scandal evidence and then approach federal agencies with it.

I made a note in my recent Substack column that Durham wrote this Sussmann indictment in such a way as to open a door and point himself right at both Hillary Clinton and Perkins Coie super lawyer Marc Elias.  The indictment makes it clear that Elias was intimately involved in the Alfa Bank hoax, supervising and directing Sussmann’s activities while carefully and meticulously billing the Clinton campaign for it.  That’s why I fully believe Elias is also going to be indicted.

How Did Durham Get This Stuff Anyway?

As I was reading the indictment, one thing that leaped out at me is that over it’s 27 pages it quotes extensively from internal documents from Perkins Coie such as billing records and email chains.

So the question that instantly formed in my mind was: How did the Special Counsel’s Office get their hands on these internal documents from Hillary Clinton’s law firm? Wouldn’t the attorney/client privilege have shielded this stuff from any grand jury subpoena? Suffice to say Perkins Coie and the Clinton campaign would not agree to give these documents up willingly. (Read more.)

Fraud vitiates everything, HERE and HERE. There was a definite pattern of cheating.


The Christening of Prince Arthur

 From Virtual Grub Street:

We have already seen the lying-in instructions [link] that Margaret Beaufort wrote for her daughter-in-law’s royal servants and visitors. The weeks among lavish hangings and every possible protection, physical and emotional, ended in a successful delivery, mother and son both healthy by all indications. The kingdom had an heir.

The instructions are provided in the great antiquary John Leland’s de rebus Britannicis collectanea, V4, where we also are informed of details around the prince’s christening. All involved were aware that the condition of mother and/or child could suddenly decline. In those days, a royal child was baptized immediately in order to assure salvation should it suddenly die.

ON St. Eustachius’ Day, which was in the Year of our Lord M.CCCC.LXXXVI. the Dominical Letter A, and and the ijde Yere of the Reigne of our saide Souveraigne, the Prince Arture was born at Winchester, whiche was the firste begotten Sone of our said Souveraigne Lorde King Henry the VIIth, and cristened in Manner and Forme as ensueth,…

The John, the 13th Earl of Oxford, was at his seat, at Lavenham, at the time. (Read more.)


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Remnants of an Army

 From Larry Gatlin:

On a cold January day in 1842, a half-starved soldier – slumping across the neck of a dying horse - appeared at the gates of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The horse and rider had survived a 10 day, 90-mile “retreat” over and through the Spin Ghar Range that sprawls between Kabul through Jalalabad to the Khyber Pass. Behind them lay the frozen, mangled bodies of General Sir William Elphinstone and more than 4,500 soldiers of The British and East India Expeditionary Force. The General had been promised a safe withdrawal to India by Muhammad Akbar Khan, the leader of the Afghan tribesmen who had revolted against British rule; but after evacuating Kabul, the British force was attacked by Khan’s tribesman army at Gandamak, where the British Force made a valiant but futile last stand. When Dr. William Brydon, the lone survivor of that first Battle of Kabul was asked where the rest of the army was, he simply answered, “I am the army.”  In 1879, Dr. Brydon and his horse were immortalized on canvas by Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler. Her painting, “Remnants of an Army,” ranks with Picasso’s “Guernica,” Goya’s “The Third of May,” Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” William Bass’ “The Battle of Bosworth Field,” Paul Phillipoteaux’s “The Battle of Gettysburg” and God knows too many more paintings depicting the horrors of war. (Read more.)


To Save Our Culture

 From Crisis:

Excellence is a pathway to God. To imitate excellence is to ascend to the heavens, to climb Mount Sinai as many of the patristic fathers long ago noted. The insistence on excellence is also a hallmark of humanism—not the false humanism of affirmation, but the genuine humanism of molding and reforming to the Divine.

Nowadays we see schools across the country, including Catholic ones, abandoning the insistence on excellence in the name of atoning for supposed inequalities in educational life. The argument, repeated ad nauseum to the point of nauseating putridity, is that excellence is an expression of white supremacy that disenfranchises minorities. The problem, however, of affirming mediocrity (at best) is that we set people up to fail in life. Greatness is a noble virtue to strive for, it is something that will also prepare any student for the realities of life.

Moreover, excellence can—and should—be understood as an expression and manifestation of love. Love, as we know, is to will the good of another. Excellence, and its demand, is a form of willing the good of others. To strive for excellence in education, work, and study is a training in love and how love guides us to the good things in life. The love of excellence in education can lead to the love of the highest excellence of all: God. (Read more.)

From The Western Journal:

Freedom permeates the Old Testament: The Bible begins with the story of Adam and Eve, a story about man’s assertion of his God-given freedom — freedom even to disobey God. The primary story of the Old Testament is the Exodus, a story about God liberating slaves.

For the Founders, the most obvious reason freedom was dependent on faith in God was that only if God is regarded as the source of freedom could men not rightfully take it away. If men are the source of freedom, men can rightfully retract it. This is precisely what is happening today. Freedom is being destroyed primarily by those who scorn the idea that freedom comes from God. (Read more.)


Crook and Flail

 From Ancient Origins:

The humble crook (known as the  heka in Egyptian) used by shepherds, is a long, multipurpose stick with a hook at one end, to herd and sometimes catch sheep. It made a useful weapon against predators and helped with balance when negotiating rough terrain. In Egypt, the crook was carried by gods and high officials, and represented the pharaoh's role as a shepherd caring for the people of Egypt. The crook was also adopted as a Christian symbol of care, as in the ‘crosier’. Metaphorically, church leaders care for their "flock", with Christ portrayed as the  Good Shepherd .

The flail (known as the  nekhakha in Egyptian) was made up of three strands of beads attached to a rod. Although historians cannot agree exactly what this was used for, there are two primary interpretations of its origin. When used as a weapon to defend livestock, the flail represented the pharaoh's responsibility to establish the order, through punishment if necessary. Toby Wilkinson, an English Egyptologist and academic, theorized that the flail was a symbol of the ruler's coercive power. As shepherd of his flock, the ruler cared for his subjects while restraining them.

Secondly, a flail is an agricultural tool used for threshing - the process of separating grains from their husks. English Egyptologist and author, E. A. Wallis Budge, who worked for the  British Museum , interpreted the flail as representing the pharaoh's role in providing for the people of Egypt and protecting his kingdom and farmlands. The flail is made from two or more large sticks attached by a short chain. When one stick is firmly held and swung, the other stick hits the pile of grain and loosens the husks. The dimensions and shape of flails changed to suit the particular grain they were harvesting.

The flail is thought to be an origin of the baton known as the nunchaku and was first recorded as a weapon during the 5th crusade, at the siege of Damietta in 1218. Because the crook and flail were such important symbols, they were often illustrated and added to sculptures with the pharaoh holding them crossed over his chest. Some of these images date back over 5,000 years. Both items were typically embellished by gold or ivory with blue bands. 

 The earliest known example of a royal crook is from the Gerzeh culture, and comes from tomb U547 in  Abydos, one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt. The culture dates back to between circa 3500 BC through to circa 3200 BC. By late Predynastic times, the shepherd's crook was used as a royal symbol of rule. The flail was initially depicted alone on early representations of royal ceremonies, but by the Second Dynasty (c. 2890 – c. 2686) the crook and flail were paired.

The only surviving examples of both the crook and flail come from the tomb of Tutankhamun. The staffs are made of bronze decorated with stripes of  blue glassobsidian, and gold, while the flail's beads are made of gilded wood. The crook and flail, which were carried by the pharaoh to all public appearances and among the most famous symbols from ancient Egypt, symbolized the power and majesty of the king. Both these items were associated with Osiris, and later Horus, and signified their early rule of the land.

Osiris, mythical first king of Egypt , was the god of fertility, agriculture, life, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, and vegetation. He was portrayed as either green (the color of rebirth) or black (alluding to the fertility of the Nile floodplain) with a pharaoh's beard, wearing a feathered white  atef crown, and holding a symbolic crook and flail. The crook represents Osiris as a shepherd god while the flail dates back to the god Andjety, a precursor of Osiris, who was one of the earliest Egyptian gods with roots in prehistoric Egypt.

According to the myth, Osiris was murdered by Set, who then usurped his kingdom. Osiris was resurrected by his sister-wife Isis , who bore him a son, Horus. Set was defeated by Horus, and order was restored to the land. The pharaohs were almost always associated with Horus during life and with Osiris in death. Once Horus avenged his father and defeated Set, he took the crook and flail of his father to represent the legitimacy of his reign, and so it was for the kings of Egypt who identified with these gods.

After he was murdered by Set, Osiris' soul, or rather his  Ba which was the personality part of the multi-faceted soul , was occasionally worshipped in its own right, almost as a distinct god. Since the  Ba was associated with power, as well as meaning “ram” in Egyptian, he was depicted as such, or as Ram-headed. With Osiris as the ram, the god's crook and flail represent him herding the tribes of the upper Nile. As with the gods, when crossed over the chest, the crook and flail presented the ruler as a shepherd whose might was tempered by benevolence.

In Egyptian society, as pharaohs were the representation of the gods on Earth, the crook and flail connected the sacred with the secular. The symbols appeared regularly in the Early Dynastic Period during the reign of the first physical king, Narmer. (Read more.)


Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Wrecking of New York City

 From Jeffrey Tucker at the Brownstone Institute:

Here we are 19 months later. Millions are still gone. Entire skyscrapers are empty. Retail outlets are still leaving. One never knows whether the vaccine mandate is going to be enforced. The outflow of people from the city to the suburbs, then from the suburbs to Florida is continuing. Ground-floor storefronts are available for a song, with one quarter empty in lower Manhattan and one third open in major tourist areas like Herald Square. Owners of huge office buildings still pay the mortgage, electricity, and taxes but the employees are not coming back. 

Broadway is finally back and ticket sales seem solid. But other signs are not so bullish. The luxury furniture retailer ABC Carpet & Home has now filed for bankruptcy protection because of “a mass exodus of current and prospective customers leaving the city.”

My friend noticed a new sign in the subway. The old signs demanded a full face covering and staying away from people. The new sign demands that people on the subway not speak to each other. Instead, instructs the sign, people should just look at their phones. Detach from society. Be a big alienated collective. Stop with normal life, forever. 

If you live in a place like Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, or many states in the Midwest, you are reading this with a sense of bewilderment. I might as well be describing life on Mars. But I promise you, it is all real. 

In many places in the Northeast of the US, the Karens still patrol the grocery aisles, denouncing people without masks and telling people to stand further apart. The frenzy and hysteria is as intense now as ever – with people still imagining that their masks, plexiglass, and unrelenting terror somehow protects them against an enemy they cannot see. And this is after 19 months of this parade of grotesquery. 

As for New York City itself, does it have a viable future? It certainly did a year ago, even six months ago. But it is getting very late in the day. The current structure cannot last under these conditions. In a few years, we could be observing scenes out of an apocalyptic novel, with skyscrapers crumbling and criminal gangs ruling the streets. It’s a grim prospect but it is increasingly difficult to imagine conditions under which things change enough to restore the city’s greatness. 

I was in midtown Manhattan on March 12, 2020, the last moment before the beginning of the end. I had gone into the city with a friend to do a television interview. We had two more friends set to arrive the next day. We had tickets to a jazz club that Friday night, and all four of us were set to catch two Broadway shows the next day. I could tell upon arrival that Thursday morning that something was very wrong. The traffic flows were out, not in. People were scrambling through the streets as if preparing for a storm. 

Sensing something very wrong, I made a call to tell my friends not to bother catching the flights to the city. Something was up, and they could be in danger. I knew from reading the federal regulations that at any point, governments could invoke their quarantine power. We could be grabbed off the trains, even out of cabs, and rounded up and put into Covid camps. 

I told people this at the time, and people said I was losing my mind. Something like this could never happen in America. (Read more.)


A History of Money and Debt

 From Newsmax:

Money creation and distribution is and will always be the exclusive privilege of the state, for no other reason than to manipulate its value for international commerce needs. The tempting ability of the state to create too much credit is widely practiced, except too much credit debases the value of paper money as one finds out when going to the grocery store.

The intrinsic value of currency in the Middle Ages held up quite well since it was based on gold or silver coins whose supply was controlled by private bankers such as the Medicis in Italy and the Fuggers in Germany. During this period, there were only two major periods of inflation.

One, after the Black Death created severe labor shortages and, secondly when Emperor Charles V flooded the country with silver coins from a newly discovered silver mine in Bohemia.

This system finally collapsed once the state invented paper money and then printed and distributed it starting in the 17th century.

You might think that paper money was invented in Europe; not true, it was in invented in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-927) AD.

The temptation to create too much paper money led to the fall of Louis XVI in France.

The British in the early 19th century invented bonds to finance their overseas expansions. They issued bonds (called Gilders because they were backed by gold) and were sold to investors due to the promise of interest. (Read more.)


More HERE.


Friday, September 24, 2021

Who Was Nancy Mitford?

Unity, Diana, and Nancy

Peter Rodd Marries Nancy

There is a great deal online right now about Nancy Mitford since the debut of the Prime series The Pursuit of Love. I found that program to be entertaining although I did not care for the anachronistic soundtrack. From Vogue:

Nancy’s own family were all the muse she needed. The Pursuit of Love, written in three months, is partly autobiographical. “Nancy has written a novel full of exquisite detail of Mitford family life,” her friend and fellow writer, Evelyn Waugh, wrote in his diary after it had been published. Nancy is, of course, the witty heroine Linda Radlett, with the Mitford family being fictionally portrayed as the Radletts. It was the novel that set her star alight, maybe that’s why she returned to writing about her family in a fictional setting in Love in a Cold Climate and Don’t Tell Alfred.

During her lifetime, she wrote eight novels, several essays and countless letters; penned four biographies, and translated Madame de La Fayette’s anonymously published French novel La Princesse de Clèves. Nancy’s romantic relationships weren’t as successful as her writings. First she was engaged to aristocrat Hamish St Clair Erskine for a few years, before he broke it off with her for another woman. In 1933, she married Peter Rodd. He was apparently hopeless with his finances, had numerous affairs, and was nicknamed “the Toll-gater” by her family, due to his habit of rambling on about uninteresting topics. Throughout their marriage, Nancy suffered several miscarriages, and eventually had to have a hysterectomy in 1941. (Read more.)

From Diary of a Londoness:

Nancy was the eldest of seven children – six girls and one boy. They were as famous as the Kardashians – some for all the wrong reasons. Nancy, the writer and wit, went onto become a bestselling author; Pamela was the domestic one who bred chickens; Diana was the great beauty and bagged herself a Guinness first, followed by the fascist Oswald Mosely (for whom she would eventually go to prison); Unity was Hitler’s number one fan and shot herself when the war started; Jessica the Communist eloped and went to live in America; and Deborah “Debo” became Duchess of Devonshire and ran Chatsworth House. Tom was killed in Burma during the war.

 These little darlings were the offshoots of David Freeman-Mitford (the second Baron Redesdale) and Sydney Bowles, whose father founded and owned The Lady and Vanity Fair. They were eccentric stock, to say the least. The Radletts from The Pursuit of Love could just as well be the Mitfords: the children are modelled on Nancy’s colourful siblings and the grouchy, opera-loving and whip-cracking Uncle Matthew who hunts children for fun is a fictional facsimile of her father.Other characters in the novel mirror her real life. Nancy would marry Peter Rodd (Tony Kroesig), but it was an unhappy marriage and they spent much of it apart. During World War II, she became involved with a Free French officer named Gaston Palewski (Fabrice de Sauveterre) who became the love of her life. (Read more.)


From History Hit:

The Mitford Sisters are six of the most colourful characters of the 20th century: beautiful, smart and more than a little eccentric, these glamorous sisters – Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah – were involved of every aspect of 20th century life. Their lives touched many of the 20th century’s biggest themes and events: fascism, communism, female independence, scientific developments, and the declining British aristocracy to name but a few. (Read more.)

The Mitfords

From Vanity Fair:

For the sake of clarity, not to mention sanity, let’s fill out the lineup card first. Scion of an aristocratic family that traced its heritage back to the Norman Conquest, David Freeman-Mitford, who would become Baron Redesdale, and his wife, Sydney, bestowed upon the world six daughters—in order of birth, Nancy, Pam, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah—and a son, Tom. They grew up in a series of country houses and cottages where their eccentricities and enthusiasms flowered like orchids. Only the son was formally schooled (owing to finances as much as to male entitlement—the Mitfords were socially privileged but not economically flush); the girls’ education was a more spotty, haphazard affair, with their mother and an array of governesses teaching lessons in reading, arithmetic, and French, leaving big blanks in the curriculum. Left to their own madcap devices, the girls formed a tribal bond, speaking their own slanguage and minting a clattering thicket of nicknames for their parents (Dad was Farve, Mum was Muv), one another (Unity was Bobo, Diana was Honks, Jessica was Decca, Deborah was Debo, and so on), their nannies, governesses, menagerie of pets, and anyone else who strayed across their radar. Although taken to extremes by the Mitfords, with their “shrieks of laughter and floods of tears,” as Nancy would later put it, this sort of upper-class twittering was very common in the pre- and postwar eras among the smart set, as anyone who has waded knee-deep through the footnotes explaining nicknames, barnacled in-jokes, veiled allusions, and genealogical connections (who was whose idiot cousin) in the biographies and journals of the period can wearily attest.

What elevated the Mitfords above the prattle and privileges of their upbringing and put their reputation on a collision course with history was the fissure in the household between the two raging ideologies that would rip apart the 20th century: Fascism and Communism. “When they talked about what they wanted to be when they were grown-ups,” writes Mary S. Lovell in The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, “Unity would say, ‘I’m going to Germany to meet Hitler,’ and Decca would say, ‘I’m going to run away and be a Communist.’ ” And so they did. Flighty as they might have appeared, the Mitford girls did not lack for follow-through.

In 1933, Unity and Diana traveled to Germany as delegation members of the British Union of Fascists, whose chrome-domed leader was Oswald Mosley, with whom Diana was having an affair—both were married to others at the time—and whom she would later secretly marry in the home of Nazi propaganda maestro Joseph Goebbels with Adolf Hitler among the guests. To many, Mosley resembled a knockoff version of Hitler, the black moon to Hitler’s black sun, but he possessed his own magnetic exertion. Dec­ades later, Clive James, writing about a television interview with Mosley, observed, “As always, the streamlined head of Sir Oswald looked simultaneously ageless and out of date, like some Art Deco metal sculpture recently discovered in its original wrappings. Nor have his vocal cords lost anything of their tensile strength.” Where Hitler had his Brownshirts busting chops and smashing glass, Mosley recruited his own paramilitary band of bullyboys, the Blackshirts, which the sainted P. G. Wodehouse would parody as the Black Shorts in The Code of the Woosters. Mosley wasn’t the demonic orator Hitler was. He lacked the infernal throb. Attending the Nuremberg rally on their 1933 visit, Unity and Diana saw Hitler in oratorical action for the first time, and he more than lived up to advance billing. The spectacle was spellbinding, the message drum-pounding. Compared with the maundering walruses running En­gland and Europe downhill, here was a man who had dynamized, industrialized, and mobilized a nation—destiny incarnate. (Read more.)

And from The Conversationalist, an article about the Nazi-loving Diana and Unity, HERE.


Modernity's Monsters

 From Church Life Journal:

In the nineteenth century, novels such as Frankenstein and Dracula grappled with the challenges born from the rise of scientific materialism and its seeming obverse, Romantic expressionism. But the obsession with vampires began earlier, and it figures as an especially modern example of the ways in which blood, William Harvey’s research topic, served as a multivalent sign.

Blood was from ancient times regarded as the confluence of two necessary elements for life, fire and water, and the use of blood (human as well as animal) in medicine is well-testified by Marsilio Ficino in the sixteenth century, who continued rather than invented a therapeutic tradition.[1] But the new rationality of the mechanistic circulatory system proposed by Harvey was shadowed by an increasingly occult use of blood, sometimes combined with semen (believed to be the distilled essence of blood). For example, in the last half of the seventeenth century, some alchemists proposed the use of a mixture of blood and semen, both obtained clandestinely in a church to aid their magical powers, as an elixir of youth.[2] In a similar way, vampires functioned as the shadow cast by the clarity of Enlightenment science, in which the self-constituting life that is blood was drained and repurposed in orphic ways.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) is especially important for our analysis because of its blood-symbolism. The novel meditates on the strange mobility of our literal life-blood and its vulnerability to loss through the violation of our seemingly solid contours. Further, the modern context, evoked memorably a few decades before by Charles Dickens, of anonymity amidst industrialization made for new horrors; Stoker acknowledged that Jack the Ripper was a source for the novel.[3] In grappling with such new realities, the book also casts a glance backward at a vanishing age in which blood meant solid class boundaries. The novel, therefore, presents blood as straddling solid and liquid modernity.

The solid force of modern scientific progress is presented by the author as both powerful and helpless. The vampire-fighting professor Abraham Van Helsing is introduced with all his degrees, “MD, D.Ph., D.Lit., etc., etc.”[4] One of the “etc.” must be a J.D. or an LL.B., given that Van Helsing tells a friend, “You forget that I am a lawyer as well as a doctor” (182). Professor-doctor-lawyer-philosopher Van Helsing combines rationalistic omniscience with supernatural faith: “He is a philosopher and a metaphysician and one of the most advanced scientists of his day,” a colleague describes him, “and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind” (126).

Van Helsing is the cause of many of the novel’s moments of inadvertent hilarity. When Van Helsing creates a seal around the newly vampiric Lucy’s tomb using a consecrated Host, his companions express shock. He reassures them by saying solemnly, “I have an Indulgence” (233). Irish Anglican Stoker must have thought indulgences meant that the Catholic hierarchy would indulge the (mis-)use of the Eucharist for good causes.[5] But Stoker, perhaps unintentionally, highlights the contrast between the vampire and the consumption of the Eucharist: the former, who drinks blood to dominate and to survive bodily, versus the latter, which is the reception of a divine self-gift for eternal life.

In any case, Van Helsing’s religiosity combined with his scientific omniscience is necessary for a plot in which evil is defeated not only through consecrated hosts and crucifixes but also through such up-to-date tech as shorthand and steam engines. The character of Van Helsing personifies the meeting of Enlightenment science with Eastern European myth that Nick Groom has argued is the “strikingly modern” context of the European fascination with the vampire, beginning about 150 years before Stoker’s novel. As Groom puts it in The Vampire: A New History, “In the early eighteenth century, the traditional bloodsuckers of Eastern European folklore came face to face with empirical science and became vampires” (4).

An example of European science is Count de Cabreras, who in 1730 slayed no fewer than three vampires, whose corpses flowed with fresh blood as he alternately beheaded, cremated, or nailed the skull of each. According to Groom, the Emperor Charles VI did not simply dismiss de Cabreras’s actions but instead sent a retinue of “officers, lawyers, physicians, chirurgeons, and some divines” to investigate, according to a contemporary clergyman, Dom Augustin Calmet (29-30). A scholarly French Benedictine, Calmet wavered in his judgment whether vampires were an example of God’s posthumous punishment of the dead or a mere fantasy. The latter judgment was rendered during Calmet’s lifetime by Pope Benedict XIV in 1757, who argued his point in a document on canonization, in a section entitled De vanitate Vampyrorum (“On the Vanity of Vampires” [V 76-81]). It appears that Benedict XIV would not have indulged Van Helsing’s extra-ecclesial appropriation of sacraments and sacramentals.

Around the same time, military surgeon Johann Flückinger investigated a vampiric outbreak in Serbia, performing an autopsy on one victim, whose body Flückinger stated had fresh blood and growing nailbeds. He wrote a report that was read across Europe, and medical journals and dissertations were dedicated to the topic of vampirism, although a healthy contingent of skeptics emerged in reaction.

Vampires were everywhere; Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, in their psychedelic concoction of philosophy, history, and science, A Thousand Plateaus, accurately state of 1730: “From 1730 to 1735, all we hear about are vampires.”[6] Perhaps singularly in his lifetime, on this matter Voltaire showed himself on the side of the pope, expostulating, “What! is it in our eighteenth century that vampires exist? Is it after the reigns of Locke, Shaftesbury, Trenchard, and Collins? Is it under those of D’Alembert, Diderot, St. Lambert, and Duclos, that we believe in vampires?”[7] Nevertheless, Groom recounts how accounts of bloodsucking revenants were treated seriously and methodologically, with permissions being needed to exhume corpses (and presumably frequently denied, when sought at all). Prescribed courses of action were offered in manuals. Thus did the realm of the vampiric dead bleed into that of science.

According to Dracula, all this scientific advantage was necessary but not sufficient to combat the supernatural evil of the vampire. In many ways, the novel seems to fly in the face of the nineteenth century’s atheist humanism, given how often the characters invoke God and his omnipotent providence. Yet the ambient skepticism comes through in the religiosity that the novel portrays, a religiosity that is quite literally other-worldly. In ordinary situations, the novel implies, modern science has everything under control.

The vampire and his minions are not ordinary, of course, and their very extraordinariness aligns with the purely fantastic nature of the religious talismans combating them. The perhaps unintended result is that Dracula portrays religion, and Catholicism in particular, as operating at the level of the grotesque but otherwise wholly irrelevant to everyday life. God is exoticized and hence made optional (until, at least, you have a vampire or two to dispose of), despite the religious nostalgia that saturates the book. (Read more.)

From Chronicles:

For some among the chattering classes, the electoral defeat of Donald Trump in November must have been a mixed blessing, though they doubtless could not admit it publicly. After all, the fall of political figures who have been relentlessly and lewdly painted in the press with Hitler makeup for the entirety of their time in office must be enthusiastically and wholly embraced by the morally righteous.

Yet the professorial Chicken Littles who busied themselves during Trump’s presidency producing a whole library of monotonous books announcing the end of democracy in America must certainly be wondering, now that the Queens bogeyman is gone, who will buy the follow-up to their New York Times bestseller enumerating all the ways in which the past four years in America echoed the early 1930s in Germany.

I confess this dismal literature provides me an illicit pleasure. To be sure, good books are the reason readers, and book reviewers, exist. But let us acknowledge that bad books have their place too. For one, they do us the salutary service of teaching us how not to think about a topic. Awful books written by pedigreed intellectuals celebrated among the cultural elite provide us a perhaps even greater good: they can reveal the abject emptiness on which the status claims of those elites are based.

In keeping with the rules for writing apocalyptic prophecies for the Trump-era, Anne Applebaum and Ruth Ben-Ghiat have studiously avoided applying any objective social scientific or historical analysis to the question of what’s happening politically in the West today.

It is indicative of the ideological predispositions of Ben-Ghiat’s book that the anecdote with which she opens, intended to illustrate the most monstrous characteristics of the political strongman, concerns not an episode of egregious political authoritarianism, but rather the prelude to a sexual encounter between a man and a woman. Ben-Ghiat devotes an entire prurient chapter to the strongman’s interest in having sexual relations with women. Virility, she is eager to inform us, is a dangerous thing in political leaders.

As a professor of Italian Studies, she is particularly affascinata by the amorous pursuits of Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi, but we are of course also treated to banal commentary on the “Access Hollywood” tape from Trump’s 2016 campaign, the porn star Stormy Daniels, and even a tweet in which Trump jokingly pasted his own head on the muscular body of the fictional boxer Rocky. The book’s subtitle might more accurately be rendered “Mussolini to Trump,” as Trump-related topics are the single most numerous entries in the index.

A common academic feminist compulsion is to prattle constantly, in contradiction of all the empirical evidence, about how immersed we are in patriarchal domination, and Ben-Ghiat vigorously asserts that we are now living in an Age of the Strongman. Yet, traditionally assertive masculine figures in politics are less visible now than at any point in history, and women and men who share Ben-Ghiat’s disdain of such masculinity are in positions of political power in many states in the West.

Applebaum’s conceit is not the fatuous feminism of Strongmen, but her argument proceeds from the same subjectivist, emotive logic. She begins with a New Year’s Eve 1999 party at her home, with a group of “free market liberal” intellectual friends, celebrating their cultural power.

Alas, some of those friends have since given in to “the seductive lure of authoritarianism” referenced in her subtitle, and the triumphalist liberal consensus of those heady days is no more. Why and how did it happen? Applebaum has nothing more substantive to offer than the risible psychologizing established in the Frankfurt School of authoritarian studies: her former friends are, for the most part, resentment-filled liars, anti-Semites (she invokes the Dreyfus Affair as a parallel to the present moment), and greedy careerists who realized that, lacking the requisite talents, they would not be able to rise in a meritocracy and have therefore hitched their professional wagons to authoritarian patrons in a tawdry effort to get “rich and famous.” (Read more.)


Royal Women and the Black Death

 From History of Royal Women:

 Joan II, Queen of Navarre (1312-6 October 1349)  Daughter of King Louis X of France and Margaret of Burgundy.  She was a niece of Blanche, Countess of Savoy and Joan the Lame, Queen of France, who also both died from the plague.  Joan was Queen of Navarre in her own right.  In 1314, her mother was involved in the Tour de Nesle affair, imprisoned, and died the next year, possibly murdered.  Because of Margaret’s adultery, there was some doubt if Louis was really her father.  Louis remarried, but died in 1316, leaving his second wife, Clemence of Hungary pregnant.  Five months later, she gave birth to a son, John, who was proclaimed King of France and Navarre from birth, but he only lived five days.  Soon afterwards, the Salic Law was put in place, which barred female inheritance to the French throne.  This law was put in place mainly because of Joan’s alleged illegitimacy.  In turn, her two uncles succeeded as Kings of France and Navarre, but they also did not leave any sons.  In 1318, Joan was married to her cousin, Philip of Evreux.  Her last uncle died in 1328, and Joan became Queen of Navarre in her own right since that Kingdom did not use the Salic Law.  Joan and her husband ruled Navarre together until Philip’s death in 1343.  Together they had nine children.  Joan died from the plague in France in October 1349. (Read more.)


Thursday, September 23, 2021



Another fine old Maryland house. From The Chestertown Spy:

“Widehall” was built in 1769 on the Chester River at a time when Chestertown vied with Annapolis as an important port. Through the years, many prominent people called “Widehall” home. The builder and original owner, Thomas Smythe, was one of the wealthiest men of that time due to his being a merchant, shipbuilder and shipowner who traded with the British West Indies. He also became Head of the State’s provisional government and served in this office until 1776. In 1782, after service to Washington Collage as a founder and benefactor, he was appointed its first Treasurer. Other well-known owners were Robert Wright, Governor of Maryland between 1806 and 1809 and Ezekiel Chambers, State and United States Senator and Judge of the Court of Appeals.

Built on a high stone basement, the house’s many noteworthy details begin at the street. Two short flights of sandstone steps, interrupted by a sandstone terrace, lead up to the front door. In front of the landing, the stone retaining wall with brick piers capped by stone finials were once part of an original “claire-voie” (open-work gate or grille for a vista to the landscape beyond). Two towering trees next to the end piers frame the front of the house.

“Widehall” is one of the largest five-bay brick Georgian style houses along the Chester River and its corner location off High Street provides additional prominence. Its exterior color palette of red brick with white window frames, trim, superimposed keystones at the window headers, roof dormers and the Widow’s Walk railing is classic. The front door is centered in the middle bay, surrounded by a Doric style architrave supporting a full pediment with fluted columns below. The windows have twelve-over-twelve sashes whose louvered shutters were added later. In the 1910 restoration, both the two-stored kitchen wing on the northeast side and the magnificent waterside Ionic two-story portico that spans the full length of the house were added.

The compact floor plan has four rooms off the center hall for easy flow among the rooms. The front door opens to the center hall with arched molded openings to the stair hall opposite the front parlor’s deep wall opening with double pilasters. Another smaller arched opening leads to the hall past the dining room opposite the rear parlor and to the exterior door at the main level portico. The interior color palette of creamy white plaster walls, beautiful wood floors with the crown dentil and arched moldings painted a deep blue green with deep blue bases is striking. Each of the four rooms has a different cornice detail including one design’s alternating courses of dentils and beading. Throughout the main floor, the rooms are furnished with period pieces and other antiques.

In the stair hall, the staircase cantilevers from the wall as it gracefully ascends around three walls to the second floor. The six-inch stair risers, railing, fluted newels, wall pilasters and turned balusters are all crafted from mahogany. I could well imagine being greeted by the Owners as I arrived for an elegant party or fundraiser and being serenaded by a musician playing Cole Porter tunes on the grand piano.

The front and rear parlors are mirror images of each other with back to back fireplaces and above the front parlor’s mantel is a portrait of George Washington. Both rooms are detailed with broken pedimented headers over the wall openings to the center hall and the deep wall openings between the chimneys are clad in panels at the top and sides of the openings.

The moldings in the formal dining room are painted a warm mocha and flanking the fireplace are floor to ceiling built-in china cupboards with a clever detail of two drawers intersecting the paneled wainscot around the room. The period chandelier and the antique table and chairs set the scene for a memorable repast. Between the dining room and the kitchen is the well equipped butler pantry with built in cupboards, some with glass fronts and a porcelain enamel sink with an integral drainboard. The deep exterior wall ledge at the window above the sink is a perfect spot for flowering plants or herbs to flourish.

When I spoke with one of the Owners, I told him I love to cook and he said the kitchen is one of their favorite rooms. How could a cook not enjoy the white cabinets with bases to resemble furniture, upper glass fronted cabinets for display, dark countertops for contrast, the recessed nook for the stainless steel gourmet stove, and the island furniture piece with a painted lilac base and a granite top. The kitchen is open to charming breakfast room with wrap-around windows for views to the landscape and water beyond. Between the kitchen and the stair hall is a service stair and powder room. I had noticed several appealing folk art pieces throughout the house, especially the one over the kitchen sink that was a view of “Widehall” from the water. The Owner told me they own several paintings by this artist, Jimmy Reynolds in their collection. (Read more.)