Sunday, July 31, 2022

Princess Charlene at the Vatican



There was some discussion online of  privilège du blanc and Charlene, Princess of Monaco. As the Catholic wife of a Catholic head of state she may wear white in the presence of the Pope. Others with the privilege are Catholic queens, princesses of the House of Savoy, and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. From The Court Jeweller:

Charlene’s wedding and engagement rings sparkled on her left hand as she and Albert departed after the audience. The other big question I’ve seen raised about this meeting has to do with the color that Charlene is wearing. As the wife of a Catholic head of state, Charlene is entitled to wear white when meeting with the Pope. (It’s called the privilège du blanc.) So why wasn’t she wearing white for this audience?

The answer is that sometimes Charlene wears white when meeting with the Pope, and sometimes she doesn’t. There doesn’t seem to be an identifiable pattern to the instances where she wears white vs. black. I’m guessing it’s just a personal decision on each individual occasion. Above, for example, Charlene wears white for a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in January 2013. (Read more.)


 From The Federalist:

Get ready for a very dumb debate over the word “recession.” It’s true, there’s no scientific definition for a recession because economics isn’t an exact science. Yet for decades, the media, government, economic textbooks, and dictionaries have all, more or less, defined a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. But now, with the prospects of this week’s GDP report being in the red — the Atlanta Fed estimates GDP will contract 1.6 percent — the administration and media are engaged in a pedantic discussion over the real meaning of a recession.

“What is a recession?” the White House Council of Economic Advisers ponders. “While some maintain that two consecutive quarters of falling real GDP constitute a recession, that is neither the official definition nor the way economists evaluate the state of the business cycle.”

It isn’t? It is true that on rare occasions, as the National Bureau of Economic Research did in the early ’90s, experts will declare a recession when there are non-consecutive quarters of negative growth, but not once has the media covered two consecutive quarters of contraction as anything but a recession.

Every fresh report of Keynesian economic failure during the Obama years was treated as “unexpected.” When the same policy fails during the Biden years, the media depicts our sputtering economy as weird and unpredictable. Is it? This week, we’re going to see a new consumer confidence number. It will likely be bad. Interest rates will likely rise, as will inflation. And perhaps the best predictor of a recession, the yield curve inversion, is already with us. It’s not that weird.

The administration argues we aren’t technically in a recession because of the low unemployment rate. But simply because the Biden administration says we’re experiencing historic job growth doesn’t mean we have to play along. Indeed, the private sector hasn’t even regained the jobs lost due to the “man-made” downturn that was caused by needless government-compelled Covid shutdowns. The Chamber of Commerce says 3.25 million fewer Americans are working today than were in February of 2020. (In 2019, presidential candidate Joe Biden argued the economy was “teetering on recession” when there were zero quarters of negative growth and the unemployment rate was at 3.7 percent. Today it’s at 3.6 percent.)

Biden has been assaulting voters with these kinds of juvenile economic talking points from the start. It was a year ago that the president claimed “nobody” was “suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way — no serious economist,” even as many were. Biden’s National Economic Council deputy director Brian Deese had said early that inflation was “actually a good sign” for the economy. Then, the administration and its allies argued that the best method to alleviate inflation would be to shove through a $5.5 trillion welfare state expansion bill.

The president also claimed Build Back Better actually cost “zero.” This is a president who demands that “companies running gas stations and setting prices at the pump” bring down the price, as if the local 7/11 attendant can control the price of a fungible commodity. Then again, Mayor Pete just recommends everyone go out and buy an electric car.

Presidents don’t create or save jobs. They do, however, propel inflation when sending checks into an overheated economy, creating energy scarcity, and passing needless infrastructure bills (with the help of Republicans). So it’s not surprising that the same people who tried to redefine inflation are now, conveniently, treating a “recession” as an unknowable concept. (Read more.)

From Newsmax:

"It's absurd," Tenney said. "Janet Yellen said we were just in transitory inflation and now it looks like we're going to be in a recession and have permanent inflation for a long time. Hopefully, we'll be moving out of this, but they're not going to do anything because they won't do a thing about energy."

And while there are high energy prices and the country is not energy independent, the United States will continue seeing rising prices, said Tenney.

The high price of diesel fuel is affecting farmers, and New York has "tremendous supplies" of oil in its Utica and Marcellus shale capabilities, "which we can't touch," said Tenney. "It could bring also energy independence and energy security for our nation, as we now are looking and depending on enemies."

But instead, "we're right back to the ’70s," said Tenney. "We used to be in gas lines." (Read more.) 

History of Cameos

 From DSF Antique Jewelry:

Often in ancient times cameos depicted living heroes, rulers and mythological themes while paying homage to their respective gods and connecting cultures through trade like Rome, Greece and Egypt. In the centuries that followed, cameos have been used for various purposes and decorated with a range of carvings, precious stones and metals.

Of the earliest forms of cameo, many can be traced back to prehistoric petroglyphs depicting religious figures and mythological images onto rocks. With the rise of the Roman Empire, cameo craftsmen expanded upon their uses and portrayed political portraits into their artwork. Cameo carving greatly progressed during the Renaissance and Elizabethan periods when elite women wore cameos to showcase their cultural status. (Read more.)

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Art and The Portuguese Renaissance in Europe

 From Regia Marinho:

“Oh, salty sea, how much of your salt Is tears from Portugal?” -Fernando Pessoa.

The Portuguese Renaissance was a period of cultural development in Portugal, during the 15th and 16th centuries. It is considered by many to be a part of the Renaissance, which is a broader movement that occurred throughout Europe. At the end of the 15th century and the first half of the 16th century, fueled by expansion and financed by patrons such as the kings D. Manuel I and D. João III, Portuguese painting was in a golden age. Merchants, students, humanists, diplomats, scholars, and artists, from all over Europe, were drawn to Portugal during its Renaissance. The maritime trade of the Age of Discovery were a decisive role in the evolution of the Portuguese Renaissance. (Read more.)

To Veil or Not to Veil?

 So many women agonize over this when it is a matter of joy and reverence, not scruples. From Catholicism Rocks:

One day after Mass, I bravely approached a mother and her daughters to ask about their veils, which I'd noticed had been unceremoniously pushed back from their heads immediately upon exiting the church and now rested like dainty neck scarves around their chins.

“We wear mantillas as a token of modesty and purity,” the mother replied. “It covers the hair which is a women’s crown so that our beauty is not in competition with the Mass or distracting to those around us.”

Later, in a book explaining the treasure and tradition of the Latin Mass, I found this explanation:
When we think of those things which are most sacred, we find that they are often veiled in mystery: the secret vessels are kept under a veil; the tabernacle is veiled; the Ark of the Covenant is veiled. Out of respect for the dead, we cover their faces; at Life’s beginning we are hidden in our mother’s womb. Our Lady, the blessed vessel by which our Lord was made flesh and dwelt among us, is never without a veil. God created woman to fulfill the sacred mystery of bringing new life into the world. Thus we should consider it a privilege to be veiled in the Sanctuary.[1]
It should be noted that on the occasion when these same women are present at Mass in the Ordinary Form, they still veil and dress modestly. Veiling has meaning to them that goes beyond Tradition. (Read more.)

To the Young Who Want to Die

 When a young person wants to die it is the greatest tragedy. From Marginalia:

By the time we can even begin answering for ourselves the question of whether or not is worth living, myriad things have been answered for us by the fundamental forces that have conspired into the confluence of chance that is our self. None of us choose the bodies or brains or neurochemistries we are born with, the time and place we are deposited into, the parents we are raised by, the culture we are cultured in. Any sense of choice we might have is already saturated with these chance inheritances and is therefore, as James Baldwin so astutely observed, part illusion and part vanity.

And yet live we must, with the cards we have been dealt, daily answering Camus’s question with our pre-answered fundaments of chaos and chance.

On those days when we are so life-weary, so defeated by the chance-circumstance of our situation, so tempted to answer in the negative, the smallest gesture of kindness can be nothing less than a lifeline. That is what Gwendolyn Brooks (June 7, 1917–December 3, 2000) realized over breakfast at a hotel one day in her late sixties, when the young waiter met her simple bright “Good morning!” with a gasp on the verge of tears: “Oh, thank you, thank you!”

She wondered what he must be living through, if so early in life and so early in the day he was already so heavy with despair, so grateful for the salvation of a simple smile from a stranger. (One such smile had saved Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s life half a century earlier.) (Read more.)

Friday, July 29, 2022

Between Leonardo and Hildegard: The Universal Man

 From Folia Magazine:

May 2, 1519: on this day, exactly 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci died at 67 in Château du Clos Lucé, a castle in the city of Amboise, France. As one of the most popular and widely-known artists of all time, Leonardo's works are unsurprisingly among the most famous in the history of art. Besides what many consider to be his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, his most popular work is probably the Vitruvian Man: the representation of ideal human body proportions. Unknown to many, however, are the striking similarities between the Vitruvian Man and a medieval illustration in Hildegard of Bingen's Liber Divinorum Operum, her book of visions. More than 300 years before Leonardo's work, in fact, St. Hildegard of Bingen had created what is known as the Universal Man: just like the Vitruvian Man, the Universal Man represents the ideal of perfection; unlike Da Vinci's, however, Hildegard's idea of perfection is born not from science and measure but from poetry and music. These arts, in fact, are seen at the symbolic link between the philosophical concepts of macrocosm (the universe) and microcosm (man), and, similarly, between God and His Creation. (Read more.)

The Loss in Annual Wages under Biden

 From Fox Business:

The average U.S. worker has lost $3,400 in annual income as a result of skyrocketing inflation since President Biden took office nearly 18 months ago. Overall, the Consumer Price Index, a key inflation measurement, surged 9.1% year-over-year in June, a more-than-expected increase that marked its highest level since November 1981, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report Wednesday. The decline amounts to a roughly $3,400 yearly income decrease for the average worker and a $6,800 reduction for families in which both parents work, E.J. Antoni, a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told FOX Business. "There are plenty of families that that's more than their food budget a year," Antoni told Fox Business in an interview. "I can't emphasize enough how much this is really crushing consumers." (Read more.)

Africans at the Court of James IV

 From The National Trust for Scotland:

It’s often assumed that African people arrived in Scotland in the 18th century, or even later. But in fact Africans were resident in Scotland much earlier, and in the early 16th century they were high-status members of the royal retinue. This is clearly recorded at the court of James IV (1473–1513). One African, ‘Petir the Moryen’ (Peter the ‘Moor’) seemed to have had a special relationship with the king – he was free to travel and was given five French crowns at the king’s request for a journey to France.

James IV was an enlightened and cultured ruler who, from 1501, continued the transformation of his old castle at Falkland into a beautiful Renaissance royal palace. Falkland became a popular retreat for the Stewart monarchs. They used the surrounding forests for hawking, and hunting deer and wild boar. (Read more.)

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Victorian Jewelry

From Antique Trader:

AT: How do you determine a piece of jewelry is from the Victorian era?

RN: The Victorians had very distinctive styles when it came to their jewelry. Pieces tend to be larger, darker, ‘heavier,’ than the styles before or after the Victorian period. Large cameo brooches worn at the throat come to mind. Mourning jewelry in particular tends to be distinctive and identifiable because pieces are typically black, often with hair or photo compartments. Victorian jewelry can be extremely ornate, what we think of as gothic in style. Besides these aesthetic considerations, I identify Victorian jewelry based on its construction and the materials used.

AT: What advice do you have to help people avoid buying a fake or reproduction piece?

RN: It’s good to have a handle on what kinds of materials were used in the Victorian era as well as how pieces were constructed. Oftentimes simply looking at the back of a piece and its hardware can tell you a lot about when a piece was actually made. Brooches did not really have rollover locking clasps until the early 20th century, so if you look at the back of a brooch and see a rollover clasp, it’s probably not Victorian, unless you can see evidence that the clasp is a replacement of the original ‘C-clasp.’ When I am buying pieces online, I will usually avoid listings that don’t show the back of a piece. It is just too hard to tell from photographs what is genuine when you don’t have a complete picture of the piece and its construction or hardware. As you handle more and more pieces, you will develop a better instinct and notice patterns in construction. A celluloid cameo may look very detailed and beautiful, but with experience you will immediately know the difference between celluloid (an early plastic) and actual carved shell. (Read more.)


Don’t Be Fooled By “Nice”

 From Leila Miller at Crisis:

I fell into the trap that ensnares many souls today: believing that if a person has a pleasing personality, is affable, attentive, and “accepting” (whatever that means), then the person is good. Somewhere along the line, Catholics began making crucial judgments based on feelings rather than reason. We are lulled by a hearty laugh, a twinkling eye, a hug with a knowing smile. We get sucked in by a sense that someone loves us, even though we are being led down a garden path.

The friendly person who accepts us, the one who reaches out to “accompany” and affirm us—that person may not always have our best interests at heart. And sometimes a person who does want the best for us is harming us unknowingly despite his good intentions. We cannot know by outward appearances or our emotions whether or not the other is truly being Christ to us. The only standard we can use to measure another’s advice and guidance is whether or not that advice conforms to objective truth and goodness.

However, because we have been conditioned to use our feelings as a gauge for what is true, discernment has become difficult. The one who laughs at our jokes, is affectionate, and is interested in what we have to say appeals to our senses; we are drawn to him, we like how we feel when we are with him, we want him to like us. We even find it harder to resist or say no to such a person, even when we know we should. (Read more.)

The Vanished Kingdom of Alt Clut

 I am listening to Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies and the second chapter is about the lost Pictish Kingdom of  the Rock or Strathclyde, also known by the Britons as Alt Clut. Some scholars think it might be the site of the legendary Camelot. St. Patrick probably came from there as well, as did my MacLachlan ancestors. From The History Files:

The tribe of the Damnonii were never fully conquered by Rome. Instead, at some point during the Roman occupation of Britain they seem to have created an independent kingdom of their own in the region of Scotland that is now known as Strathclyde. This kingdom quickly became known by the Brythonic name of its capital at Dumbarton: Alt Clut or Alclud ('Rock of the Clyde'), or Alcluith (an older version of the name). Centred on the Clyde headwaters and its capital of Dumbarton, the kingdom's borders can only be vaguely estimated. They seem to have stretched a little north of the Antonine line, then over to the ridge of the Campsie Fells (roughly between Lennoxtown and Balfron, and taking in the later county of Dumbarton), up towards Loch Lomond where two huge ice age stone deposits both bear names that possibly mark out a British border (see AD 711, below), and westwards to the head of Loch Long. Its southern border seems usually to have abutted that of Galwyddel (Galloway), while to the north it was bordered by Pictland, to the north-east and east by the Guotodin, and to the south-east by Caer Guendoleu.

Essentially re-established in AD 382 by Magnus Maximus, it may in fact have been much older. The original first century Roman conquest of southern Scotland did not include Alt Clut's British Damnonii territory, although there were periods when it later fell under Roman administration. For the most part, however, it seems to have remained independent. Certainly it was one of the few British kingdoms never to be conquered by the English or Normans, instead eventually being taken over by the Scottish crown. Its southern region of Cumbria was gained after the fall of North Rheged and a period of possession by Bernicia, and simply bore the name of its 'people of the same land', the Cymri, which is the same source of the name for Cymru (Wales).

Many of Alt Clut's kings are obscure or are only poorly attested. Only two stand out - Coroticus and Rhiderch Hael. Many of them are often only known by the Welsh or Irish versions of their names. Little of the Cumbric dialect of Brythonic which was used by the Britons between the walls was written down by them. Mostly their actions were recorded either due to Irish attacks on the coast or by Welsh storytellers who were remembering events from several generations away in time. Where both Alt Clut's British and later Welsh forms are known, the latter is always shown last. Edward Dawson suggests the theory that the somewhat mysterious Attacotti of AD 364 could be the Alt Clut Britons....(Read more.)


From English Monarchs:

The kingdom emerged after Roman rule was withdrawn from Britain at the beginning of the fifth century. Its capital was Dumbarton Rock, a 240 feet high twin-peaked volcanic rock with the River Clyde on one side and the River Leven on two more, 'the Fortress of the Britons', known as Alt Clut in brythonic Celtic. A Celtic settlement on Dunbarton Rock was first recorded in a letter of St Patrick to King Ceretic, the British King of Strathclyde in about AD450. In which he complained about a raid the Britons had made on his Irish converts.

Strathclyde covered the area from Loch Lomond to the Celtic kingdom of Rheged around the Solway. At the head of Loch Lomond in Glen Falloch a great boulder, known as the Clach nam Breatann, the Stone of the Britons marked the northern reaches of Strathclyde.

It was bordered to the north by Pictland, to the north-east and east by the Goutodin, and to the south by Caer Guendoleu, and Galwyddel. the kingdom's southern region of Cumbria was acquired after the demise of North Rheged and acquired its name from its people, the Cymri, or comrades, from which same source the Welsh people referred to themselves as Cymru. (Read more.)

From Sean Poage:

Alt Clut, as part of what the Welsh called “The Old North” is full of fascinating history and legend and likely the longest-lived of the Brythonic kingdoms. Their imposing citadel at Dumbarton was never taken until the year 870, when the defenders ran out of water after a four month Viking siege. The king, his family and hundreds of Britons were taken as slaves to Dublin.

This finally gave the Scots their chance and it appears that Alt Clud becomes a mixed Gaelic and Brythonic kingdom, known as Strathclyde. This means “Valley of the River Clyde”, the center of power of the region. The Scots would fully take over Strathclyde by the mid eleventh century, controlling as far south as Cumbria until the end of the eleventh century. (Read more.)

From Kings and Queens:

Ceretic Guletic was king of Alt Clut in the 5th Century AD. He was identified with Coroticus a Britonnic warrior mentioned on a letter by Saint Patrick. One of the letters is addressed to the warband of the Coroticus people. The letter mentions the enslavement of newly Christianised Irish and the sale of Christians

‘Soldiers whom I no longer call my fellow citizens or citizens of the Roman saints, but fellow citizens of the devils, in consequence of the evil deeds; who live in death after the hostile rite of the barbarians; associates of the Scots and Apostate Picts; desirous of glutting themselves with the blood of innocent Christians, multitudes of whom I have begotten in God and confirmed in Christ.’

In the letter Patrick announces that he has excommunicated Coroticus’ men. The connection between Coroticus to Ceretic Guletic is based largely on the 8th Century AD gloss to Patrick’s letter. It has been suggested that sending the letter provoked the trial Patrick mentions in the Confession. The ‘Apostate’ Picts are the southern Picts that were converted by Saint Ninian and ministered to by Palladius who subsequently left Christianity. The Northern Picts of Flortriu were later converted by Saint Columba in the 6th Century AD. As they were not yet Christian they would not have been called Apostate.

From using the above you would be able to date Ceretic in the 5th Century AD. Ceretic also appears in the Harleian genealogies of the rulers of Alt Clut. This lists his father as Cynloyp, grandfather as Cinhil and great-grandfather as Cluim. It is from this source we get the nickname Guletic which means land-holder. In the Book of Armagh he is called ‘Coirthech rex Aloo’ or Ceretic, King of the Height (of the Clyde). (Read more.)

A site both pixilated and interesting. From Land of the Fae:

I subsequently found out that this whole area is tied up with the earliest myths of King Arthur and Merlin. I believe that when Britons migrated from Strathclyde to Wales and Corwall that they carried the stories of King Arthur and Merlin with them and transfered the stories to places that were more familiar to them.

Arthuret is the site of the Battle of Arderydd that was fought in AD 573 between the pagan king Gwendollau and the Christian kings Riderch, Peredur and Gwrgi. Riderch was the king of Alt Clut (Dumbarton). Gwendollau was defeated and his court magician Myrddin (Merlin) went mad with grief and fled to the woods of Celidon where he lived on wild food and became a prophet. (Read more.)

For further reading, go HERE.

Meanwhile, I highly recommend:


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Real Jane Avril

The star of the Moulin Rouge, immortalized by Toulouse-Lautrec. From Messy Nessy Chic:

Born Jeanne-Louise Beaudon, Avril’s mother was a prostitute and she believed her father to be an Italian marquis who had abandoned them when she was only 2 years old. She was spirited off to a countryside convent by her grandparents in order to escape her mother’s dire influence. As fate would have it, her mother returned her to Paris in 1877 to a life of child prostitution. Jeanne attempted numerous escapes from her mother’s control and eventually at the age of 14, was given refuge at the forbidding Salpêtrière Asylum, a mental institution for women in Paris.

 Within the sanctuary of the Salpêtrière Asylum, Jeanne was diagnosed with a neurotic condition, regarded at the time as a ‘female hysteria’. This was a physical affliction which produced sudden and erratic twitching and thrashing movements of her limbs. There was little understanding of such conditions at the time, far less any known ‘cures’. Fatefully, the institution, perhaps to satisfy the voyeuristic afflictions of its patrons’ fascination with abnormal human conditions, regularly held open day events for governors, staff and patients, known as Le Bal des Folles (‘The Ball of the Mad’). Jeanne soon discovered that dancing was not only therapeutic and aided her condition, but that she was able to move in ways like no other dancer could. Belgian born Parisian architect, author and critic Frantz Jourdain later described her as ‘this exquisite creature, nervous and neurotic, a captivating flower of artistic corruption and sickly grace”. (Read more.)


More HERE. And Zsa Zsa Gabor Gabor played Jane Avril in the 1952 film, HERE.


Climate Emergency?

"This is all an excuse to control your life." From Dennis Prager:

Fly airplanes on wind power? On electric batteries? And you know how electric batteries are made? See our video on electric batteries, on electric cars. See how lithium is used, what it does, where it’s mined. And then tell me that the electric car is really, really environmentally wonderful, a gift. It’s a gift to China.

A new emergency. We just had an emergency of lockdown. That’s what they live for, these people on the left. To lock you down, to control you. The fact that you are free, that you will ride in a car on your own and live where you wish to live, in a house as big as you want. This bothers people on the left. The smaller your house, the happier they are. The less you drive, the happier they are. Get into a train, you sheep! The car is the symbol of independence loathed by the left, which is always, always totalitarian. A state of climate emergency. It’s up there with men menstruate.

So, what will they do? All these emergencies? They all do the same thing. They control more of life in America.

“White House officials are scrambling to advance the president’s environmental agenda after talks with Senator Joe Manchin III stalled. President Biden is considering declaring a national climate emergency as soon as this week, according to three people familiar with the matter. The potential move comes days after Senator Joe Manchin told Democratic leaders he does not support his party’s efforts to advance a sprawling economic package that includes billions of dollars to address global warming.” (Read more.)


A Lesson in Gardening

 From Southern Living:

Dominique Charles knows her way around the garden. The founder of Plots & Pans is known as a garden expert, garden consultant, and even chief executive gardener, but she can't have her hands in the dirt without thinking of her grandmother, who she called by one title: Maw Maw. 

"I think the biggest lesson she taught me about gardening would be to grow what you love or will actually use," says Charles. For her grandmother, that meant lots of okra and tomatoes. "She canned jars and jars of them at the end of the season," she says. "My mom used those jars of okra and tomatoes as an essential element in her gumbo." Charles stands firm in her belief that her mama's gumbo rivaled just about any other version out there, and she thinks it was the okra and tomatoes that were to thank. (Read more.)


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A Moment for Duck-Egg Blue

 From House and Garden:

In the restored fishing lodge of Jeanetta Rowan-Hamilton, the bathroom is painted a soft duck egg blue. 'Half La Seine' from Zoffany is a similar shade. It's a colour that suits bathrooms particularly well, as it can be an incredibly soothing colour....Elsewhere in the house, the scheme of a formal sitting room features a combination of soft, sugary tones with walls lined in a de Gournay silk in a delicate duck egg blue, and sofas upholstered in a Pierre Frey yellow linen and a pale blue Lelièvre velvet. The coral on the lampshades is a colour that pairs particularly well with duck egg blue. (Read more.)


The Cathedral as the Allegory of Strength and Beauty

 From The Chivalry Guild Letters:

Of all the wonders achieved by the builders of the Gothic cathedrals, my favorite lesson they teach involves the relationship of strength and beauty, specifically the ennobling of strength by bringing it into the service of beauty. “Architecture is,” as Archbishop Sheen wrote, “a reflection of a philosophy of life.” This connection has unmistakable implications for anyone interested in the code of chivalry.

It’s easy enough to take for granted what the medieval builders achieved and to assume that the Romans and Egyptians and other ancient societies did something comparable. But that is not the case. The great cathedrals followed from an outburst of creative energy unlike anything the world had ever seen. Before them all upward aspirations in architecture were, in the words of Kenneth Clark, “limited by problems of stability and weight.” A building was a load on the ground. You could dress it up with all sorts of fanciness, but it was still a load. Medieval builders wrought something like a miracle in raising structures higher than ever thought possible, making “stone seem weightless."

Engineering innovations enabled this elevation—particularly the pointed arch, ribbed vaulting, and flying buttress. Once upon a time, I assumed these features were nothing more than frills or adornments, put there because people thought they looked cool. That was all I understood aesthetics to be—just about looking cool.

But arches, vaults, and buttresses are anything but frills; they are pure strength. And their make room for beauty, as the walls of the Gothic cathedral draw the eyes ever upward in awe. Not only that, these innovations free the high walls from having to bear weight, which meant that they could be decorated with stained glass windows that tell the stories of the Faith and flood the church with otherworldly glowing light. The overall effect, as Clark says, is to make the visitor feel vibrations in the air.

Beauty depends on strength to create the conditions in which it can flourish—no engineering fortifications means no high walls and no stained glass. And in the service of beauty, the arches, ribbing, and buttresses are ennobled and become strangely beautiful themselves, particularly as part of a larger unity. Beauty and strength fuse in this created order of the cathedral. (Read more.)


The Hobble Skirt

 From Messy Nessy Chic:

Fashion has always had the uncanny ability to mimic the drama of life, there’s no doubt social norms, political shifts and cultural changes are reflected in what we wear. Die-hard fashionistas, sociologists and anthropologists alike tell us clothes are our social armour, they mirror how we choose to interact with the world. Having said that, just be grateful you didn’t have to interact with the world while sporting a suffocating corset, a massive crinoline skirts, the absurdly voluminous gigot sleeves that prevented Victorian women from lifting their arms or the ridiculously restrictive stiff collar of the Elizabethan era. Arguably very few of these outrageous trends, however, can hold a candle to the curiously controversial and wacky, and to say the least, illogical hobble skirt. (Read more.)


Monday, July 25, 2022

The Marriage of William II, Prince of Orange to Mary, Princess Royal

Mary of Great Britain and Ireland with William of Orange

 Mary, Princess Royal and William of Orange were the parents of the more notorious William of Orange, who also married a Mary Stuart. From Everything I Ever Loved:

On Sunday, May 2, 1641…William and Mary were married at Whitehall. Standing side by side, the two children made a handsome couple: William, with pink-flushed cheeks and long, curly brown hair, was every inch the elegant cavalier with a gold sword at his side; Mary, half a head shorter, was all in white, with ringlets and pearls in her hair; the huge diamond brooch William had given her was clasped on her bodice. There had been no time to prepare the usual grand festivities. Instead, around 2 p.m., the royal family sat down to dinner in the king’s withdrawing chamber, “with the greatest privacy that might be.” That evening, the Dutch ambassadors joined them to “see the married couple bedded together.” For the newlywed children, it was a mere formality, designed to ensure that the marriage could not be annulled; in the half hour they spent in bed together, nothing more was exchanged than a few kisses. Then William spent “the rest of the night in the bedchamber of the king of Great Britain, who looks on him most fondly.” ~A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France, by Katie Whitaker (Read more.)


From Melanie Clegg:

Back to the royal wedding of 1641, which seems to have had plenty of the drama that all weddings manage to engender. In this case, the bride’s mother, Henrietta Maria was a bit narked that her eldest daughter was being married off to a relatively obscure Dutch princeling, while her father would have preferred her to be married to her cousin, the son of the King of Spain. To add further complications, their nephew, the Prince Palatine, who sounds like a most unpleasant chap and who had none of the famous charm of his mother, Elizabeth of Bohemia or other siblings (which included the heavenly but rather grumpy Prince Rupert), rolled up in the country in a right old sulk because he thought the Princess Mary had been promised to him.

Oh dear. Vivacious Mary herself was nine at the time and appears to have seen nothing wrong with her fifteen year old suitor, who was pretty good looking for a prince if a bit quiet. She was escorted down the aisle of the Chapel Royal by her brothers Charles and James and followed by her watchful governess and an ostentatious troupe of sixteen aristocratic bridesmaids. Her father waited by the altar to give her away, while her mother, sister Princess Elizabeth and grandmother, Marie de Medici watched from behind a curtain at the side. (Read more.)

Mary, Princess Royal, and her husband William of Orange


Habits for a Happy Marriage

 From Dr. Fitzgibbons at CERC:

Excessive anger is one of the major sources of marital and family stress. Couples benefit from knowing that they have basically three options for dealing with anger: denial, expression and forgiveness. Forgiveness is the most effective for diminishing marital anger.

An immediate forgiveness exercise can be used whenever one feels overly angry. Here, a person thinks repeatedly, "Understand and forgive, understand and forgive." This exercise usually diminishes feelings of anger, and only then should one begin to discuss the hurt or disappointment that caused the anger initially.

Likewise, past forgiveness exercises are important to resolve anger from previous hurts in the marriage or in the family background. Here, the spouse might imagine oneself as a child thinking, "I want to understand and forgive the parent who hurt me the most." This forgiveness is essential for marital happiness because most couples bring into their adult life unresolved anger that, under stress, can be misdirected at each other.

Every time a spouse forgives, a certain amount of anger is removed from his or her heart. The virtue of patience is also essential in this process, as it is required to gain mastery over the passion of anger.

Selfishness harms marriages severely because it turns a spouse inward and interferes with cheerful self-giving. The selfish spouse thinks "me" not "we" and regularly overreacts in anger. Selfishness is the major cause of separation and divorce, and many popes have written that selfishness is the major enemy of marital love.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture in which selfishness is epidemic. The use of contraception further intensifies the negative attributes of self-centeredness and mistrust and should be avoided for the good of the marriage.

Instead, a commitment to grow daily in generosity, humility, chastity and temperance is helpful in diminishing this personality conflict. The sacrament of reconciliation is also helpful in resolving selfishness and excessive anger. (Read more.)

Battle of Sherburn-in-Elmet

 From Allegiance of Blood:

If you ask anyone about the most decisive battle of the English Civil War, they are most likely to answer Naseby, which took place in Northamptonshire on 14th June 1645. Considering this is where King Charles I’s veteran infantry were obliterated and his cabinet of private letters captured, then you can understand why. The royalist cause is billed as being irretrievably finished after Naseby and victory for Parliament merely a matter of time.

But … thousands of the King’s elite cavalry survived. His Lieutenant-General in Scotland, the Marquis of Montrose, had just secured that entire kingdom. New infantry recruits were due from Wales and more reinforcements expected from Ireland. Naseby was a decisive defeat for the King, but it was an almost forgotten battle at Sherburn-in-Elmet four months later that dealt the real killer blow. 

Lord George Digby – an English Rasputin – had been King Charles’s Secretary of State since 1643. He was a silver-tongued, self-obsessed man with a devious streak and a hypnotic charm. Like an impervious cockroach, he would successfully crawl out from under the destruction he had wrought in the royalist ranks. The hard shell of this deluded politician had the King believe that every setback was someone else’s fault; and that there was always a silver lining just around the corner. It was Lord George Digby who was placed in command of the King’s elite cavalry. His last hope. 

On 13th October 1645, at Welbeck, Digby’s fateful appointment as Lieutenant-General of the forces north of the River Trent was confirmed. It seems to have been the result of his private connivance, because none of the King’s officers – including the council of war – had any inkling that it was going to happen until the monarch revealed the decision in a speech to his cavalrymen. And well may Digby have wanted it this way, for the King had no less than 24 officers with him ranked colonel or above who could have filled the role, and the surprise prevented any coherent protest. Of course, Digby claimed never to have known that the appointment was coming and wrote, ‘At half an hours warning having (I protest to God) not dreamt of the matter before, I marched off from the rendezvous’.1 The experienced Sir Marmaduke Langdale was to support him. Typical of the two-faced Digby was the fact that he had described Langdale as ‘a creature of Prince Rupert’s’2 but now that he needed this ‘creature’ he embraced Langdale.

The Parliamentarian, John Rushworth, noted Digby’s next move. ‘It was agreed, that the northern horse, commanded by Sir Marmaduke Langdale, my Lord Digby … should march into the north, to join [the King’s Scottish general, the Marquis of] Montrose’.3 Once united, Digby and Montrose would restore royalist fortunes in England. The one snag, unbeknown to Digby, was that Montrose had been defeated several weeks earlier. 

Nevertheless, Digby’s small force struck at Doncaster, beating up some of the enemy there and then scattered some more at Cusworth. Upon nearing Sherburn-in-Elmet, Digby ran into an infantry regiment of 1000 parliamentarians commanded by a Colonel Wren. The royalists went on to defeat Wren’s force, but no sooner had Digby taken them prisoner and had them hand over their arms and weapons, than he was informed of the approach of a second enemy detachment. (Read more.)


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Queen of Mary's Land

Unknown artist after Anthony van Dyck's 1637 portrait
Medium: Oil on canvas, late-18th century

 A portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, for whom the state of Maryland was named, hangs in the Governor's Reception Room of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, the state capital. Annapolis was named for Charles' and Henrietta Maria's granddaughter, Queen Anne. From The Maryland State House:

The history of the room now known as the Governor's Reception Room dates back to the original construction of the State House between 1772 and 1779. A floor plan published in 1789 in the Columbian Magazine indicates that the large corner room (the modern-day Governor's Reception Room) was then the Council Chamber, home to the Governor and Council, the state's executive body. Adjacent to this room was a jury room for the Court of Appeals and a repository for stores and arms.

The Constitutional amendments of 1838 sparked a reorganization of the executive branch by replacing the Governor and Council with a popularly-elected governor and the establishment of the office of secretary of state. The large corner room served as the public office of the governor, as well as the offices of the secretary of state and staff of the governor and the secretary of state. This room was referred to as the Executive Chamber until the 1860s, when it became known as the Governor's Reception Room. Because of the reorganization of the executive space, the governor may have set up a private office in the former jury room.

When the State House was enlarged and completely refurnished in 1905, the offices of the adjutant general and secretary of state were relocated to the side now used by the lieutenant governor. The Governor's Reception Room was used solely as the ceremonial public room of the executive department. To improve the appearance and to demonstrate the ceremonial function of this important space, Governor Edwin Warfield ordered the room be restored to its colonial appearance and that portraits of former governors and secretaries of state be displayed in the room. (Read more.)

The Widowed Queen by Sir Peter Lely in 1660

Another Van Dyck portrait of Henrietta Maria in black, from 1632.

My Queen, My Love: A Novel of Henrietta Maria by Elena Maria Vidal


Why Wait for Marriage?

 From Phil Lawler:

In June the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life released new guidelines for marriage preparation, suggesting—among other things—that the normal period of formal preparation for marriage should be one year. The longer period of engagement, the Vatican explained, would encourage the practice of chastity.


Am I missing something? Take two healthy young people who are in love, anxious to fulfill that love and begin their life together. Now tell them that they’ll have to wait a year. Yes, they might practice chastity, and gain much grace in the practice. But let’s face it: there is another option. The 97-page Vatican document makes the argument for chastity, but the arguments for unchastity are coursing through the bloodstreams of ardent young couples. Is it wise, is it prudent, is it pastoral to say that—as a blanket policy, applied to every couple—they must wait?

(Just by the way, there are some good people who find love late in life. Isn’t in uncharitable to tell an older couple that they must wait a year—when they might not have many years left?)

Faced with that one-year waiting period, some couples will remain chaste. (Those couples, I suspect, will be those who are least in need of extra marriage preparation, because they have already formed habits of virtue and already gained a reverence for the sacramental bond.) Other couples will aim for chastity, perhaps with the best of intentions, but fail, because the natural drives—not merely for sex, but for healthy human love—are strong.

Still other couples will nod their heads when the priest (or other marriage-prep counselor; see below) advise them to practice continence before marriage—and then go home to the apartments where they are already living together, having set up joint housekeeping long ago. For them too, the year-long wait will produce no dividends; it is simply a paperwork requirement. So as a practical matter the longer wait does not promote chastity; it merely adds hypocrisy to the indictment.

But again there is another option. The young couple, ready and anxious to marry, visit their pastor to tell him their plan. He announces that they must wait at least a year. They don’t want to wait; they are deeply in love. So they walk down the street to the Protestant church, or to the justice of the peace, and begin their life together without the grace of the sacrament.

Surely that is not the intent of the Vatican directives: to discourage couples from marriage in the Catholic Church. Indeed the document cites the decline in church weddings, along with the frequency of divorce, as reasons for better marriage-prep programs. But is it not quite predictable that, when the formal requirements for a marriage in the Church become more onerous, many couples will look elsewhere?

The Vatican document traces many of the problems with marriage to “too superficial a preparation” for the sacrament. True, but if Catholics have not received a fundamental understanding of the sacramental bond by the time they reach marriageable age, a year of coursework is unlikely to remedy that problem. Real preparation for marriage begins in childhood, with the example of the parents, and continues in church with the preaching of pastors. If parents and pastors have failed in their responsibilities, marriage-prep counselors will need more than a year to do the remedial work.

Especially because—and here we must consider the practical application of the Vatican guidelines—many of the lay couples who volunteer to be marriage-prep counselors are actively discouraged from offering an uncompromising version of Catholic teaching. A clear rejection of divorce might not sit well with young people whose parents are divorced; a condemnation of fornication would offend the couples already living together. And although the goal of the class might be proper preparation for sacramental marriage, another unspoken goal—and one much easier to measure for success—is to keep couples involved, to minimize the dropout rate.

“Even in the case of cohabiting couples, it is never useless to speak of the virtue of chastity,” the Dicastery tells us. But for the young priest tackling his first marriage-prep classes, things aren’t so simple. He has been instructed by the pastor not to drive people away from the parish. He is keenly aware that at the parish down the road, his counterpart doesn’t challenge cohabiting couples on the matter. How can he persuade young people to comply with what they see as simply a rule—and a rule that seems to apply only within the geographical bounds of this one parish?

The one-year period of marriage preparation gives counselors more time to offer compelling arguments for chastity. And there are many available volunteers—armed with the best of intentions and with coursework in theology and apologetics, confident in their powers of persuasion—ready for the job. But how often are people argued into chastity, or any other virtue? How many loving couples carefully weigh the pros and cons, and break off a passionate embrace? Marriage preparation is not like an academic course; it is a lifelong process.

Years ago I heard an Orthodox rabbi explain why the rate of premarital pregnancy is so low among young Orthodox Jewish women. From their early days, these girls have been trained to avoid things that their friends and neighbors enjoy—things that have a powerful natural appeal. The smell of bacon is tantalizing, but they do not eat it. So when they feel the power of sexual impulses they are not defenseless. They have practiced self-discipline and they have learned the Law. (Read more.)


The Hard and Dirty Life of a Medieval Peasant

 From Ancient Origins:

At the bottom of the medieval peasant hierarchy were serfs or villeins. These peasants were tied to the land of the local lord they worked or labored for. To move or get married, they had to request the permission of the lord, and to obtain the land in the first place they had to swear an oath of obedience to the lord on the Bible. In turn for being tied to their lord and his land, serfs were allowed to farm a section of his land from which they were obliged to give him some of the produce every year. Effectively, they were owned by the lord for whom they worked. Not all medieval peasants were tied to the land or the local lord in this way, however. At the top of the peasant hierarchy were the freemen who owned their own land and could travel and marry freely. Despite their additional freedoms, they were not rich and would have often struggled alongside the serfs.

Peasants did not get this land for free, however, and were obliged to pay rent for their land and a tax to the church (a tithe). The tithe was 10% of the value of what their farmland produced every year, which was a considerable amount. This could be paid in kind (with produce from their farm) or in cash. Paying in kind could also include payment in seeds or in equipment.

As one can imagine, this tax was highly unpopular. It could make or break a family and determine how much they would have to suffer in the coming year. If they were unable to pay in cash and therefore had to rely on paying in kind, they were often forced to sacrifice things they relied on. For example, equipment. It was so common that the Church was given an overwhelming amount of produce that special barns called tithe-barns had to be built to store it all. For many medieval peasants, these tithe-barns simply acted as a visual reminder that their hard-earned farm work was going to waste. (Read more.)


Saturday, July 23, 2022

Art Begins Its Quest to Paint the Soul

 From Catholic Exchange:

To many casual visitors, this Madonna and Child, at first glance, looks similar to the Byzantine icon paintings, familiar to us from the Berlinghiero, on whose spiritual and artistic heritage it draws. Key elements of the Byzantine formula remain very much intact, including the gold backdrop signifying Heaven and the pose of Mary, cradling the Baby Jesus in her arms, her eyes firmly focused on Him, our God.

But look again. Something very different is happening here. Notice the balustrade along the bottom of the painting. It is not part of the frame. Duccio painted it as if to invite us to look in on this scene through the window of an inn in Bethlehem, not in Heaven—as if it is here, on Earth. (Read more.)


You're a Scientist? So What?

 From Dennis Prager:

A caller to my radio show yesterday, a physician, took strong issue with me regarding COVID-19 therapeutics. He accused me of not believing in science. His last words before we had to go to a commercial break were, "I'm a scientist." 

Given that I am not a scientist, he assumed that comment would persuade me -- or at least persuade many listeners -- that I was not qualified to disagree with him.

If that was his assumption, he was wrong.

"I don't care," I responded. "It's irrelevant. Scientists have given science a bad name."

I would not have said that as recently as three years ago. 

But in recent years, and especially in the past two years, some basic suppositions of mine have changed.

I no longer assume when I read a statement by a scientist that the statement is based on science. In fact, I believe I am more committed to scientific truth than are many scientists.

The American Medical Association advocates the removal of sex designation from birth certificates. If many doctors or other scientists have issued a dissent, I am not aware of it. 

"Assigning sex using binary variables in the public portion of the birth certificate fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity." Those are the words of the author of the AMA report, Willie Underwood III, M.D.

Sarah Mae Smith, M.D., an AMA delegate from California, speaking on behalf of the Women Physicians Section, said, "We need to recognize gender is not a binary but a spectrum."

When the American Medical Association and a plethora of physicians tell us that human beings, unlike every other animal above some reptilian species, are "not binary," i.e., neither male nor female, the assertion "I am a scientist" becomes meaningless. (Read more.)


On Progressive Christianity

 From The Wine Patch:

Progressive christianity is no longer an off-broadway troupe serving up budget performances like Deconstruction The Musical and Affirmation Nation. In true form of how the left is relentless until it ruins everything it touches, the Christian progressives have broached the rotunda of time-honored theology, are taking selfies in the sacristy, and mooning the cross.

An immutable attribute of the father of lies is that he is forever incapable of creating anything. Adonai is the only One who called forth life from the dank hollows of inert chaos. This is why the den of serpents never lights up the marquis to promote an original work — they don’t have one. No, this accuser of the brethren is only able to twist a truth, dim the light, and insatiably kill babies.

As I peruse the progressive playbills, I see nothing beautiful, nothing noble, nothing lovely, and certainly nothing divine. Therefore, while I’m not sure I wholly identify as a conservative Christian, I can confidently state that I am an avowed anti-progressive.

Progressives routinely accuse conservative Christians of infusing too much politics with their faith. The catch-all charge levied most often is; Christian Nationalist. I’ve been tracking this nascent trend these past few years and can confidently state: It’s the progressives whose foundational fixations are fueled by the yeast of politics, not the conservatives.  (Read more.)

Friday, July 22, 2022

The World of Alfred the Great

 From Lady Carnarvon:

Wyverns look a little like dragons but have only two legs, unlike a dragon which has has four, and they are an imaginative mixture of a scaly reptile and dragon type often used in heraldry. Typically a wyvern is depicted resting upon its legs and tail but it can also be shown with its claws in the air and supported only by its tail. These carved figures recall the Anglo-Saxon times and are symbols often associated with the Kingdom of Wessex which was nearly completely overrun by the Vikings around 870AD but was finally united and protected through the military endeavours and the later cultural leadership, of the renowned King, Alfred (849-899AD).

Under King Guthrum, the Vikings had swept down from their northern kingdoms and, in a lightning strike, seized much of what is now Wiltshire and from there laid waste to Wessex. Alfred withdrew in haste to the Somerset tidal marshes with what few followers remained. From there he reorganised the fyrd (existing army), calling more to his cause but keeping them to a rota basis to enable him to could raise a ‘rapid reaction force’ to deal with the raiders whilst ensuring that farming could continue, thus preserving food supplies. Apart from mythically burning the cakes (his mind might have been elsewhere), Alfred proved himself a creative and innovative leader on the battlefield. Finally, in May 878, his army defeated the Vikings (Danes) at the battle of Edington and they all sued for peace, creating a north south divide across England.

The centre of Alfred’s world was his royal palace in Winchester from which he developed a network of burghs so that no one was more than 20 miles from the refuge of one of these settlements. In addition, he built new fast ships to create a navy which helped support and protect Wessex and southern England. The very word 'borough' comes from the Anglo Saxon meaning a fortified market place as Alfred needed both to promote trade – markets – and defend the population. Towns today still bear reference to these origins – New-burgh-(bury) is one example which is the town closest to Highclere. (Read more.)

Pediatric Gender Medicine and the Moral Panic Over Suicide

 From Reality's Last Stand:

In a recent exchange between Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Berkeley Law professor Khiara Bridges on the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Hawley wanted to know whether the Court’s decision affected women as a class. After initially informing Hawley that not all “cis women” have the “capacity for pregnancy” while some “trans men” and “non-binary” people do, Bridges appeared caught between her loyalties to gender identity ideology and to the long-held idea that abortion is a women’s issue. And so rather than clarify her position, Bridges berated Hawley for his “transphobic” line of questioning, insisting that he and those like him are the reason why “one in five” transgender people attempt suicide.

The affirm-or-suicide mantra has become the central strategy of contemporary transgender activism, and at times it would seem that activists have little else in their rhetorical arsenal. Federal courts have used it to impose new policies on schools under Title IX. When Florida passed the Parental Rights in Education Act—a law that limits classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation to “age appropriate” circumstances and that requires schools to notify parents when their children are being “socially transitioned” to the opposite gender—Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg agreed with his husband Chasten that it would “kill kids.” Florida’s law was in response to, among other things, books like Gender Queer: A Memoir, which contains graphic depictions of oral sex, appearing on school library shelves. The book’s “non-binary” author, Maia Kobabe, countered that her book’s presence in libraries was “life-saving.”

A few weeks later, transgender Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services Rachel Levine used the same word to justify the federal government’s support for “gender affirming” interventions. Neither Levine nor President Biden, who has given his own imprimatur to the controversial practice, seemed to care much that Europe’s most progressive welfare states have been moving in the opposite direction, placing strict limitations on the use of puberty blockers to treat adolescents in distress presumably because of their “gender.” Scandinavians are not indifferent to teen suicide. Rather, they have examined the evidence behind the affirm-or-suicide claim and have found it wanting.

Despite the unwaveringly confident manner in which these claims are often asserted, there is no good evidence that failing to “affirm” minors in their “gender identity” will increase the likelihood of them committing suicide. As I discuss below, that claim is based on a small handful of deeply flawed studies that, at most, find loose correlations between “affirming” interventions and improved mental health. Some find no reduction of suicide at all, and a new study claims to find that puberty blockers actually increase the risk of suicide.

Not only is the empirical basis for the affirm-or-suicide mantra shoddy at best, but its dissemination is also profoundly irresponsible. Such extreme rhetoric limits our ability to better understand and respond to mental health problems in vulnerable youth, and may itself contribute to the real and documented phenomenon of “suicide contagion.” (Read more.)

The Ancient Greek Tradition of Birthday Cake

 From Greek Reporter:

The global tradition of blowing out candles which adorn a birthday cake to be shared with well-wishers might be rooted in an ancient Greek votive ritual to honor the goddess Artemis, the female archetype associated with childbirth, wildlife, and the moon.

The Ancient Greeks started making cakes that were modeled after the moon as tribute to Artemis, the goddess of the moon. The cakes were circular and then lit with candles to shine like the moon, notes Columbia Daily. Tradition tells us that a long-lost connection with devotional cakes to Artemis may survive today as part of the most popular celebratory habit in the Western world and beyond. (Read more.)

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Nemours Estate

 From Bright:

A good place to begin exploring the area is where the story started. The Hagley Museum and Library features the restored original gunpowder mills, the Eleutherian Mills estate where five generations of du Ponts resided, historic gardens and orchard, and the hillside village where workers lived. The residence is packed with antique furnishings and valuable art. It’s also home to the second-largest museum collection of original patent models, topped only by the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

In the powder yards strung out along the Brandywine River visitors can view historic mill buildings that include a working 19th-century machine shop, along with the wooden Birkenhead waterwheel and a coal-fired steam engine. They also learn about the process of manufacturing gunpowder.

Workers’ Hill provides a glimpse of the lives of original mill employees. It includes a foreman’s home, a Sunday school for children and a garden where factory families grew vegetables. The modest plots contrast with the elaborate ornamental plantings at du Pont homes.

The 77-room Nemours Estate was constructed by Alfred I. du Pont, the great-great-grandson of Pierre, for his second wife, Alicia. It was modeled after a chateau that was built during the reign of French King Louis XV and occupied by Queen Marie Antoinette. The setting is enhanced by acres of formal gardens, greenhouses and a planted maze area. (Read more.)


Failing to Recruit

 From Sara Carter:

Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville said the United States’ inability to make military recruitment numbers is a “national security emergency.” Since the National Guard Association of the United States issued a statement June 28 explaining that every branch of the U.S. military has been having difficulty meeting recruiting goals for fiscal year 2022.

Struggling the most is the Army, which stated they have only recruited 40% of its total goal thus far in fiscal year 2022 with only three months left. A devastating reality is not just that the military is unable to recruit prospects, but that the number of qualified candidates and recruits are severely lacking.

The Army’s official website made the terrifying announcement that they have not faced this tough of a labor market since the military became completely volunteer based in 1973. “71% of youth do not qualify for military service because of obesity, drugs, physical and mental health problems, misconduct, and aptitude,” according to the Army recruiting website.

Another blow to recruiting which was pointed out by Senator Tuberville is that many recruits are ineligible due to their refusal (often upon religious ground, he said) to get the Covid-19 vaccinations. The Senator said he will continue to push for hearings on the issue with the Senate Armed Services Committee, on which he serves.

The Alabama Daily News reports on specifics, as well as the role the Biden administration has played into what has become a national security emergency:

The Army has shown hesitation to grant religious exemptions for its current soldiers. The branch released a statement in June along with data that showed that 4,736 active soldiers had filed for permanent religious exemptions from the vaccine as of June 23. Only 16 of those have been approved, and 1,185 have been denied. (Read more.)


Wealth in Jane Austen’s Fiction

 From Wondrium Daily:

Austen’s own personal philosophy of class, economics, and money remains much debated. Whether we look into her stories and see a ratification of her era’s emerging market capitalism, or whether we see a deep skepticism of it, one must agree that her novels manage to raise enduring economic questions.

Austen does this successfully as her fiction focuses on the proper role of wealth, landownership, and social status in relationships and in communities, as well as on whether or how wealth ought to be passed down from generation to generation. Her fiction imagines a world in which moral worth, and economic value, aren’t strictly tied together. Qualities of character and mind might matter more than the class one was born into.

Jane Austen’s fiction also makes us look closely where all the wealth is going, how it’s being moved around and consolidated, used and misused. She looks at how young men and women are compelled to serve as economic carriers and pawns in their families and communities. Austen shows us how wealth is structurally tethered to social status, yet need not be tethered to opinions about character and moral worth. (Read more.)


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

That Ascot Feeling...

 From Redbook:

The Royal Ascot has been one of the most popular horse racing events in Britain since it was founded by Queen Anne in 1711, and the weeklong affair is guaranteed to be attended by the majority of the British royal family. While Queen Elizabeth did not appear in 2022, several members of her family showed up throughout the week, including Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall, and more.

There's a strict dress code at the Royal Ascot; men are "required to wear a full morning suit with waistcoat and either a black or grey top hat at all times," and women need to wear hats, and dresses that cover their shoulders. The royals, too, often have to wear name tags. (Read more.)