Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Marie-Antoinette Gives Alms to the Blind

The Queen and Madame Royale assisting a blind man. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were founders of a charitable society called the Maison Philanthropique that cared for the blind, the aged and widows. Share

Fire at a Nuclear Security Facility in Tennessee

 From Townhall:

So, the good news is no one was injured and no radiation leaks were detected. Still, the cause of the fire remains unknown and Y-12 has undertaken an investigation. The complex is "a premier manufacturing facility dedicated to making our nation and the world a safer place and plays a vital role in the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Security Enterprise" while helping "ensure a safe and effective U.S. nuclear weapons deterrent." To conduct this work, the Y-12 National Security Complex says it also retrieves and stores nuclear materials, fuels the nation’s naval reactors, and performs complementary work for other government and private-sector entities. After responding, Y-12 officials reported that the fire remained contained and evacuations were ordered. No injuries or contamination was reported during the response. (Read more.)


Fiat Money and the French Revolution

 From FFF:

Fiat Money Inflation in France documents one of the causes of the French Revolution and the triggering cause that pressured Louis XVI to convene the Estates General in May 1789. The first sentence of Fiat Money Inflation describes the challenges the delegates faced: “Early in the year 1789 the French Nation found itself in deep financial embarrassment: there was a heavy debt and serious deficit.”

The cause can be traced as far back as the wars waged by Louis XIV as well as by his luxurious spending. At his death in 1715, a regency government faced a similar challenge and pursued a similar paper money strategy in order to avoid the harsh actions that economics dictated. The result was the disastrous Mississippi Scheme engineered by a charismatic Scot, John Law, who had made his way into the position of Controller General of Finances in France. The Mississippi Scheme collapsed spectacularly in 1720, less than 70 years prior to the crisis that the Estates General (soon to be renamed General Assembly) attempted to address. Although the danger of paper money was well known and there was adequate financial knowledge in the General Assembly, “oratory prevailed over science and experience.”

The rationalization for the issuance of irredeemable paper money was the familiar appeal to ignore history — “This time is different.” Part of the argument was that the money was backed by the value of land seized from the Catholic Church by the General Assembly. In addition, according to one paper money supporter:

Paper money under a despotism is dangerous; it favors corruption. But in a nation constitutionally governed, which itself takes care in the emission of notes, which determines their number and use, that danger no longer exists.

It was the ultimate statement of faith in the wisdom of the majority.

The first issue of assignats occurred in April 1790 in the amount of 400 million livres (later, francs). Initially, this was to be the only issue of paper money, but in five months the promise was broken, and 1,200 million francs were in circulation. Two years after the first issuance of paper money, the fifth issue had occurred, and 2,800 million francs circulated. In 1796, when the machinery, plates, and paper for printing assignats were finally destroyed, there were 40,000  million assignats in circulation, 100 times as many as were initially issued. Assignats were then replaced with new notes, mandats, which suffered a similar devaluation a year later when legal-tender protection of both paper currencies was revoked, rendering them worthless.

The immediate challenge for the government in 1790 had been the elimination of the deficit, but the Revolution’s leaders had another goal: “to get this land distributed among the thrifty middle classes, and so commit them to the Revolution and the government that gave their title.”

For some, the plan worked very well, as they paid off their obligations to the government with future devalued assignats. But overall, the plan had a flaw: “One simple fact, as stated by John Stuart Mill, … was that the vast majority of people could not afford to make investments outside of their business.”

Nor was the alleged relief of the debtor class relief of the poor. The wealthy could accumulate debt, but the poor live hand to mouth. Additionally, increasing unemployment from failed business and wages unable to keep up with price increases on necessities resulted in a situation in which “all that saved thousands of laborers in France from starvation was that they were drafted off into the army and sent to be killed on foreign battlefields.”

Inflation impacted the poor more than the wealthy. The washerwomen of Paris found they could no longer pay, nor could shopkeepers afford to sell the soap for the depreciated assignats.

[Radical revolutionary journalist Jean-Paul] Marat declared loudly that the people, by hanging shopkeepers and plundering stores, could easily remove the problem.

This was followed by forced loans on the wealthy, by repudiation of the first issue of paper money that was considered more valuable because it bore the image of the king, and by a decreed “maximum” of prices that might be charged. None of these measures addressed the underlying economic problems but served only to introduce further chaos into the economy. Those who did not comply with the government’s coercive measures found themselves at the guillotine, followed by those who were merely suspected of infractions or just lack of support for the Revolution. The Reign of Terror was on.

White observed moral deterioration: “Out of the inflation of prices grew a speculating class; and, in the complete uncertainty as to the future, all business became a game of chance, and all businessmen, gamblers.”

Some speculators were successful and became immensely rich, but the French nation in general abandoned thrift, which ultimately is the basis for sound investment in future improved productivity:

Financiers and men of large means were shrewd enough to put as much of their property as possible into objects of permanent value. The working classes had no such foresight or skill or means. On them finally came the great crushing weight of the loss. (Read more.)


Monday, February 27, 2023

Lent at Versailles

Versailles is not usually associated with Lenten penance, but fasting and abstinence, as well as some mortifications, were observed there by many during the old regime. For one thing, there would be no plays or operas performed; all the public theaters were closed in France during Lent. The daughters of Louis XV were known for their scrupulous observance of fasting and abstinence, although Madame Victoire found such penance especially trying. According to Madame Campan:
Without quitting Versailles, without sacrificing her easy chair, she [Madame Victoire] fulfilled the duties of religion with punctuality, gave to the poor all she possessed, and strictly observed Lent and the fasts. The table of Mesdames acquired a reputation for dishes of abstinence....Madame Victoire was not indifferent to good living, but she had the most religious scruples respecting dishes of which it was allowable to partake at penitential times....The abstinence which so much occupied the attention of Madame Victoire was so disagreeable to her, that she listened with impatience for the midnight hour of Holy Saturday; and then she was immediately supplied with a good dish of fowl and rice, and sundry other succulent viands.
Their nephew Louis XVI was also known for his fastidious observance of Lent, as recorded once again by the faithful Madame Campan:
Austere and rigid with regard to himself alone, the King observed the laws of the Church with scrupulous exactness. He fasted and abstained throughout the whole of Lent. He thought it right that the queen should not observe these customs with the same strictness. Though sincerely pious, the spirit of the age had disposed his mind to toleration.
Some of the King's tolerant behavior included the permitting of certain games at court during Lent. During the Lent of 1780, the Austrian ambassador Count Mercy-Argenteau was shocked to discover Louis XVI playing blind man's bluff with Marie-Antoinette and some members of the Court. Count Mercy described the scandalous scene to the Empress Maria Theresa:
Amusements have been introduced of such noisy and puerile character that they are little suited to Lenten meditations, and still less to the dignity of the august personages who take part in them. They are games resembling blind man's bluff, that first lead to the giving of forfeits, and then to their redemption by some bizarre penance ; the commotion is kept up sometimes until late into the night. The number of persons who take part in these games, both of the Court and the town, makes them still more unsuitable ; every one is surprised to see that the King plays them with great zest, and that he can give himself up wholly to such frivolities in such a serious condition of State affairs as obtains at present.
Given the long hours that Louis XVI devoted to affairs of state and the fact that people often complained that he was too serious and reserved, it seems that Mercy should have been pleased to see the King come out of his shell a little and take some recreation. But then, Mercy often tried to cast Louis in an unfavorable light. As far as the Empress was concerned, however, Lent was not the time for any games. Louis' devotion was sincere all the same; he was constant in prayer and good works, observing the fasts of the Church for Lent and the Ember days even throughout his imprisonment.

The King's sister, Madame Elisabeth, also steadfastly kept the discipline of Lent in both good times and bad. In the Temple prison, the jailers mocked the princess' attempts to keep Lent as best she could. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette's daughter, Madame Royale, who shared her aunt's imprisonment, recorded it thus:
Having no fish, she asked for eggs or other dishes on fast-days. They refused them, saying that in equality there was no difference of days; there were no weeks, only decades. They brought us a new almanac, but we did not look at it. Another time, when my aunt again asked for fast-day food they answered: "Why, citoyenne, don't you know what has taken place? none but fools believe all that." She made no further requests.
As for Marie-Antoinette herself, she did not fast and abstain through every day of Lent as Louis did; her health did not permit it. However, after baby Madame Sophie died in 1787, it was noted that the Queen became more fervent in her devotions, especially during Lent. Jean Chalon in Chère Marie-Antoinette (p.235) notes that in 1788 she gave orders that her table strictly comply with all the regulations of the Church. Even the Swedish ambassador remarked: "The queen seems to have turned devout."

(Photo: http://www.cyrilalmeras.com/)


Britain’s Grooming Gangs

 From The Spectator:

Stead was most of all famous for the first great newspaper investigation, in 1885, ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’, on the scandal of child prostitution. Stead had bought a girl called Eliza for £5, on the premise that she was to be taken to a brothel on the continent, using quite dubious methods that got him sent to jail for three months.

Despite this, the story succeeded – a national scandal which led to a change in the law, the age of consent raised from 13 to 16. The idea of English girls being trafficked into sex outraged and horrified the public, Stead’s story imprinted itself deeply into the public psyche, to the extent of influencing George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion — thus, Eliza Doolittle.

On the continent it helped to inspire a genre of vaguely pornographic literature about the sexual perversion rife in England, a fantasy that belied the fact that late Victorian London was not a nest of vice, relatively speaking. Most measure of squalor and child abuse had declined in the 19th century and a teenage girl by the end of the century was relatively safe, compared to a predecessor in almost any era; public moral outrage offered protection, even if it could be unforgiving for those same girls who transgressed. 

Stead would become the most famous journalist of the era, so renowned that in 1912 he was invited to New York by the US President to attend a conference — and so booked a ticket on a famously unsinkable new liner. He was last seen helping women and children trying to get on to lifeboats, and, true to the chapel ethos of his parents, gave away his lifejacket. He was among the 1,500 who lost their lives on the Titanic.

A century or so later, in 2003, a journalist for the Times called Andrew Norfolk became aware of strange and disturbing rumours from Yorkshire. Originally reported by Labour MP Anne Cryer, they involved groups of mostly Pakistani men loitering around schools in Rotherham and sexually abusing girls, some as young as 13. There were supposedly whole gangs of men involved and the number of victims stood in the hundreds. Norfolk found it implausible; it sounded like a far-Right conspiracy.

Yet, as the Times journalist soon began to realise, this story was true. In fact, it was much bigger than anyone could really conceive, and it wasn’t just Rotherham, either; similar things were happening across the north of England and beyond. There were thousands of girls involved.

This was far more horrifying than the scandal Stead uncovered, yet no Parliamentary law resulted from the revelation. The story was extensively covered by Norfolk, and it inspired a drama and a couple of books by those involved. Yet no great national soul searching had followed — and that is why it is most likely still going on. (Read more.)


“Nothing” Doesn’t Exist.

 From Big Think:

These quantum principles have mind-bending consequences for anyone trying to understand the nature of nothing. For example, if you try to measure the amount of energy at a location — even if that energy is supposed to be nothing — you still cannot measure zero precisely. Sometimes, when you make the measurement, the expected zero turns out to be non-zero. And this isn’t just a measurement problem; it’s a feature of reality. For short periods of time, zero is not always zero.

When you combine this bizarre fact (that zero expected energy can be non-zero, if you examine a short enough time period) with Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2, there is an even more bizarre consequence. Einstein’s equation says that energy is matter and vice versa. Combined with quantum theory, this means that in a location that is supposedly entirely empty and devoid of energy, space can briefly fluctuate to non-zero energy — and that temporary energy can make matter (and antimatter) particles. (Read more.)


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Do Let's Have Another Drink!: The Dry Wit and Fizzy Life of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

The latest work of one of my favorite authors, Oxford-educated historian Gareth Russell, is a delightful literary portrait of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother entitled Do Let's Have Another Drink! As Mr. Russell makes clear from the beginning of the book, it is not a full biography, covering every aspect and incident of the late Queen Mother's life. It is rather a collection of anecdotes, arranged in chronological order, which nevertheless create a vibrant depiction of the Queen whom Hitler called "the most dangerous woman in Europe." While the book is laugh-out-loud amusing it  also has many poignant moments as befits the life of a royal consort who endured two world wars, accompanied by apocalyptic global changes, including the rise of Communism and the decline of the British Empire. Elizabeth suffered many personal losses throughout, such as the deaths of family members, and the scandals which haunt most royal families, including the relatively staid House of Windsor. The lady whom the more elegant and stylish set liked to ridicule for her love of cocktails, good food, and country life could also be the life of any party when she chose to be, taking Paris by storm in her white wardrobe. The Queen Mother became most known for her bright smile and spine of steel as she picked her way through the rubble left by German bombs in order to comfort the citizens of London. Her refusal to flee London with her children during the worst of the blitz made her a beloved figure, a larger-than-life legend in her own time, and in times to come.

I thoroughly enjoyed the account of the visit to Paris of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The Queen had just lost her mother the Countess of Strathmore and so she was in mourning. Black was not considered suitable for so important a state visit, so the Queen's designer Norman Hartnell designed a white wardrobe, since in France white was the color of mourning for queens. I have no doubt Marie-Antoinette would have approved. In the words of The Court Jeweller:

In the spring of 1938, Buckingham Palace was hard at work planning King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s first state visit. They were due to arrive in France for the visit in June, but the death of the Queen’s mother, the Countess of Strathmore, meant that plans had to be changed. So did the Queen’s state visit wardrobe, which was in the process of being made by Norman Hartnell.

Instead of remaking the tour wardrobe in black mourning colors, Hartnell suggested that the Queen’s clothes for the visit should be white instead, pointing to Queen Victoria’s all-white funeral as a royal precedent. The fittings for the outfits were finished in a hurried rush; Elizabeth wrote to her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, that she was “nearly demented with rushing up and down and trying to order and try on all my white things for Paris!” With the white wardrobe, naturally, the Queen packed lots of royal pearls in her bags, too. (Read more.)

According to The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor:

When the trip arrived, Queen Elizabeth left England in black and arrived in France in dazzling white. Dressed like a cloud, she was an ethereal sight to behold. There are several accounts of her presence inspiring gasps from the crowds, from the moment she stepped off the train to the flutter when she opened her parasol (in fact, she temporarily revived parasol production in Paris and London). The white color proved to be the perfect thing to make her easily seen in the crowd, as did her seemingly outdated style. Her romantic image was the opposite of what many French women were striving for with their sleek up looks and raised skirt heights; and as is the case more often than not, timeless elegance and working with what suits you before anything else easily surpassed the trends. (Read more.)

From The Enchanted Manor:

Normally not known as a fashion icon, especially in her later years, the famous “White Wardrobe” worn by the Queen in Paris during the Royal Tour of France in 1938 caused an international fashion sensation.  Hartnell had designed romantic day and evening dresses made of beautiful white fabrics such as the finest silks, chiffons, lace and tulle which were embellished with sequin and pearls.  Inspired by a Winterhalter portrait of Queen Victoria, Hartnell incorporated crinoline into the dress designs and the Queen also revived a past fashion trend by accessorizing her outfits with lovely parasols to match each dress.  With the great press coverage and wonderful reviews of her clothing, the Queen wanted to commemorate the success of the Paris visit by commissioning her favorite royal photographer, Cecil Beaton, to document the beautiful Hartnell dresses in a series of portraits taken in the State Rooms and gardens of Buckingham Palace.  (If you are interested in finding out more information about the life of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, please clink on the link) (Read more.)

I cannot recommend Gareth Russell's book highly enough. He is one of the best history writers in the English language, due to the thoroughness of his research and his marvelous expressiveness, as he is a novelist and playwright as well.


Interior Race Theory

Because houses can be racist, at least according to an article in Clever. Yes, white rooms are racist. So are columns. And mammy jars, of course. (Who would have those?) Oh yes, and rectangular dining room tables represent patriarchy. Such is critical race theory applied to American homes. Conservative values align to whiteness, but do not tell that to Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Candace Owens, Carol Swain, or any of the black conservatives who are brilliantly shaping the current conversations about morality, citizenship and civil rights.  From AD's Clever:

Jacquelyn attributes this ongoing absence of cultural competency to a lack of sensitivity, pointing out how some people still decorate their homes with racist objects such as mammy jars, colonial busts, war memorabilia, and Confederate flags. The intent behind the practice of interior race theory is to radicalize the disciplines of design and architecture by challenging people to think more critically about the home as an extension of self and how we represent ourselves. “What you fill your home with can also condition you to hold [certain] values,” Jacquelyn explains. For instance, “The use of the color white has been weaponized to symbolize purity…. There’s a lot of ways that this theory can deconstruct conservative values that really align with whiteness.”

Colors and lighting can be used to make people feel a certain way, but Jacquelyn argues that these decisions are not usually made with intersectionality in mind. Most designers, she believes, aren’t contemplating the nuances of what wellness looks like from the point of view of “folks who are either experiencing oppression or benefiting from oppression.” In the process of designing a space, she wants more people to think about how their home might influence the behaviors of others and consider what values they are trying to instill in the people that inhabit or visit this domestic environment. Jacquelyn notes how something as simple as the style of a dining table can enforce certain ideas within a space—a circular table could symbolize more community-oriented values, while rectangular shapes might represent patriarchal ideals (i.e. the man sits at the head). (Read more.)

I come from a white family...we are descended from people who lived in the British isles for more than a thousand years, and most of them are white. My mother was born in the Philippines and through her we proudly have Spanish, Chinese and Malaysian blood, but it does not show up much, except in the brown-black eyes which some of us have. One of my sisters wanted to be African American when she was little because we all loved Dionne Warwick. When we played with dolls, my sister insisted that her dolls be black. She had an entire family of black dolls. But now I wonder if her innocent admiration would be considered opposed to critical race theory and a symbol of oppression.


What Is the Longhouse?

I have never heard the term used in this way before. From First Things:

In certain corners of the online right you encounter a term that is at first glance puzzling, “The Longhouse.” Maybe you have heard this term. Maybe you have wondered what it means. Maybe this term means nothing to you. Even for those of us who use it, the Longhouse evades easy summary. Ambivalent to its core, the term is at once politically earnest and the punchline to an elaborate in-joke; its definition must remain elastic, lest it lose its power to lampoon the vast constellation of social forces it reviles. It refers at once to our increasingly degraded mode of technocratic governance; but also to wokeness, to the “progressive,” “liberal,” and “secular” values that pervade all major institutions. More fundamentally, the Longhouse is a metonym for the disequilibrium afflicting the contemporary social imaginary.

The historical longhouse was a large communal hall, serving as the social focal point for many cultures and peoples throughout the world that were typically more sedentary and agrarian. In online discourse, this historical function gets generalized to contemporary patterns of social organization, in particular the exchange of privacy—and its attendant autonomy—for the modest comforts and security of collective living.

The most important feature of the Longhouse, and why it makes such a resonant (and controversial) symbol of our current circumstances, is the ubiquitous rule of the Den Mother. More than anything, the Longhouse refers to the remarkable overcorrection of the last two generations toward social norms centering feminine needs and feminine methods for controlling, directing, and modeling behavior. Many from left, right, and center have made note of this shift. In 2010, Hanna Rosin announced “The End of Men.” Hillary Clinton made it a slogan of her 2016 campaign: “The future is female.” She was correct.

As of 2022, women held 52 percent of professional-managerial roles in the U.S. Women earn more than 57 percent of bachelor degrees, 61 percent of master’s degrees, and 54 percent of doctoral degrees. And because they are overrepresented in professions, such as human resource management (73 percent) and compliance officers (57 percent), that determine workplace behavioral norms, they have an outsized influence on professional culture, which itself has an outsized influence on American culture more generally. (Read more.)


Saturday, February 25, 2023

A Hundred Marriages at Notre-Dame de Paris

At the birth of her first child in 1778, Marie-Antoinette personally provided for the dowries of a hundred poor girls, enabling them to marry. Encouraging marriage led to a decline of illegitimacy and abandoned children. From Rodama:
Marie-Antoinette refused the celebrations offered to her by the municipality of Paris and asked instead that the money be employed to provide dowries for a hundred deserving poor girls, who would be married en masse on the day of the Royal thanksgiving service in Notre-Dame.  Additional allowances were be paid when a first child was born, with a higher rate available for mothers who breastfed.  As a further celebration of family life,  an elderly couple would be chosen to renew their marriage vows in front of their "children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren".

It is hard to gauge what the municipal corporation might have thought about  this charitable effusion of Rousseauist sentiment.   No doubt the requirements were both expensive and troublesome to arrange.  The brunt of the organisation fell on the church. A 1923 article  in the Revue des études historiques, by Gabriel Vauthier, publishes a copy of the rather terse circular, dated 14th January 1779, from Archbishop Christophe de Beaumont to each of the curés of  Paris's forty-three parishes:

It is the Queen's intention to endow with a dowry, one hundred girls to be chosen from the different parishes of Paris.  Each one will be furnished with the sum of five-hundred livres, as well as outfits and robes, to be delivered to her on the occasion of her marriage.  In addition,  Her Majesty wishes to pay ten livres per month for a year during the time that the baby is being nursed.  If the mother feeds her own baby, she will be payed fifteen livres a month and given a layette.

You should, Monsieur,  without delay, find the means to fulfil the charitable wishes of the Queen and bring about their speedy execution.  You must choose from among your parishioners,  individuals who are poor and of good moral character, worthy to be recipients of Her Majesty's kindness.  You must make your choice within eight to ten days.  The marriages will follow the ordinary order of precedence for the parishes of Paris.  Kindly come to the Archbishop's palace next Monday at five in the evening. You can inform me of the results of your research so far, and, if there are any difficulties, we will resolve them.
(Read more.)
Marie-Antoinette Giving Alms   

The Problem with a ‘Gender-neutral’ God

"This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father, and the Son." (1 John 2:22) From The Catholic Herald:

The Church of England Bishops, we are told, are going to debate whether God should be gender neutral, and thus not referred to as “He” or “father”. Among items on the agenda within the debate is the proposal to remove the word “father” from the Lord’s Prayer, for example.

How much do these CofE bishops have to scrape away before they finally see what is true? How deep into manure must they descend before the “gender-neutral” caregivers house doesn’t look so bad after all? How long will it take for them to realise that there are some things that simply are not up for debate? Even Descartes got there in the end.

They appear to be trying to find language that they believe more accurately describes the mystery that is God, and which will, at the same time, appease all those who don’t identify as “he”.  But this fails to understand why we use the language that we do.  It’s not so that we can accurately describe who God is, but so that we can understand and describe who God is to us.  It’s a relational description and the “He-ness” matters.  

God is not “He” to us because of the oppressive patriarchy.  His masculinity does not need to be rooted out and eradicated by grievance archaeologists.  God’s “he-ness” is not something decided upon and rubber-stamped at a synod, like the horse designed by a committee. It is something revealed. Something as deliberate, distinctive and all-pervasive in scripture as the “He-ness” of God is no mere accident. (Read more.)


Educating the Tudors

 From Amy McElroy at Janet Wertman's blog:

The educational opportunities of the humble population compared to the aristocracy shows a wide gap in the quality and expanse of their curriculum. The humble would be lucky to read whilst wealthier folks would be learning languages, law, history and arithmetic, amongst other topics. The differences in education even between Henry and his siblings, let alone humble people, is enlightening.

The Tudors had different schools to meet different objectives, some were aimed at the humblest of children whilst others were reserved for the elite. Girls were not allowed to attend the majority of schools reducing the number of opportunities they had to receive a formal education. That does not mean they did not receive any, their education was much more practical and focused on managing their household, keeping accounts and caring for her family. Apprenticeships and domestic service also taught children  the skills they needed to earn a living or set up their own household. Apprenticeships may appear to be fairly modern but the Tudors had accomplished guilds which monitored the standards and wages of its members along with the requirements for completing an apprenticeship in a specific trade.  Many apprenticeships were formal, with a fee paid, contracts issued and the roles clear for both apprentice and master.

The tutors who taught the royal children and the aristocracy are fascinating in their own right. Many were part of a humanist circle which at the time was encouraging a humanist education amongst ranked society. There are of course names many people will recognise such as Roger Ascham and Juan Luis Vives but I enjoyed finding out more about the more obscure Bernard Andre, John Skelton and Giles Duwes. These men were responsible for tutoring some of the most famous Tudors we know but they were not the only ones to have an influence on education. Sir Thomas More and Desiderius Erasmus encouraged the spread of humanism across England. Whilst writing Educating the Tudors I became captivated by Erasmus so much so that I am currently researching a book on the man himself.

When looking at what they did for fun it is strange to think we still participate in some of the pastimes today. One thing that did surprise me was that the Tudors gambled on everything! Mary I played cards regularly as a girl and Henry VIII lost hundreds of pounds playing dominoes. The Tudors certainly knew how to enjoy themselves, dancing, music and singing were common amongst all classes, though I expect the masques held at the royal court would have been a sight unlike any other. (Read more.)


Friday, February 24, 2023

The Royal Hospital ‘Greate Peece’ – Van Dyck or not Van Dyck?

This painting is described as "propaganda" but most of the depictions of the royal family were for themselves, not for the public. From JVDPPP:

Anthony Van Dyck was born in Antwerp in 1599 but is of course most closely associated with the doomed court of Charles I, from Van Dyck’s second stay in England from 1632 until his death in Blackfriars in 1641. A child prodigy and a genius, he is perhaps the greatest portrait painter that ever lived. When Thomas Gainsborough died in 1788, his last words were reportedly “We are all going to heaven and Van Dyck is of the party.”

With the exception of two small black and white sketches executed in England, one of which we will discuss later, Van Dyck painted on oak panels only whilst he was living on the continent. These were mainly religious subjects and some portraits, large and small. They included a number of Apostles, who were a very popular subject in counter-reformation Antwerp.

Their brilliance is that they are in fact portraits of living persons who served as studio models. And Van Dyck’s brilliance as a portrait painter was evident even in his teens. So popular were these paintings that they were seemingly endlessly copied by other artists and to date, we have seen and examined a tremendous number of Bearded Apostles. So, it’s a pleasure to be giving a talk today on something other than a bearded apostle. (Read more.)


From Country Life:

Charles II retrieved what he could following the Restoration but much of what was once Britain’s most important collection of art is now dispersed across the globe, forming the highlights of key museums all over the world. The Royal Academy has secured some impressive loans, including Titian’s The Emperor Charles V with a Dog, (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid); Titian’s Supper at Emmaus and his Conjugal Allegory, (Musée du Louvre, Paris) as well as four Mortlake Tapestries designed from cartoons by Raphael and an array of other impressive works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. A jubilant rehanging of Mantegna’s monumental nine-part sequence, The Triumph of Caesar (usually at Hampton Court), occupies the largest of the galleries.

The piece we’re looking at here, however, comes from rather closer to home, having been among the paintings restored to the Royal collection.

By the time Anthony Van Dyck was appointed Court Painter to Charles I, in 1632, the King’s reputation as an art collector and patron was already widely recognised across Europe. Charles I and Henrietta Maria with Prince Charles and Princess Mary (‘The Great Peece‘) of 1632 was Van Dyck’s first major commission and showcases his skilful propaganda.

Charles I, who had rickets as a child, appears to have overcome his physical infirmity. He is depicted in this painting as having natural dynastic charm and regal power. (Read more.)

More HERE.



The Unforgivable Sin?

 From Brownstone Institute:

For panic on this scale is dangerous; it is devastating. And in the end, there is no difference between burning witches out of fear of sorcery, and locking down whole societies due to wildly exaggerated fear of a virus. In both cases, unfounded fear leads to utterly self-centered behaviour, it prompts us to ignore others, or worse, to sacrifice them, in a misguided attempt at protecting ourselves. And in both cases, people lose their lives. At the heart of panic lies despair. Despair, in the Christian sense, is when one gives up the hope for salvation. This is why despair is the sin that cannot be forgiven.

What would be the equivalent for the modern atheist? When someone decides not to have children, out of fear that the world is coming to an end; this is despair. When someone severs all ties with other people, ceases to take part in life, out of fear of a virus; that person despairs. Religious or atheist, despair is when we give up on life. It is a negation of life. This is why it is an unforgivable sin. And now we clearly see the moral importance of critical thinking: Our language is incomplete, our messaging is ambiguous. Unlike the animal that knows for sure, we never know for sure, we always need more information, we need discussion, deliberation; we must talk and we must think. Without thinking, we succumb to irrational reaction to whatever hits us, ignoring all but ourselves and the object of our fear; we succumb to despair, we abandon life. This is why, in the end, thinking is a moral duty.

It is in this light that we must view Dr. Fauci‘s fear-mongering in the 1980s and how it severely harmed an already ostracized minority. It is in this light also that we must judge the authorities all over the world who relentlessly pumped out panic-laden, often knowingly false propaganda during the past three years, in order to provoke fear and despair, while deliberately silencing and censoring all attempts at promoting a more balanced and healthy view; how they stifled critical thinking. And it is in this light that we must view the disastrous consequences of this conduct, and how it first and foremost harmed the young, the poor; our smallest brethren. (Read more.)

The Remains of Patrick Sarsfield

 From The Irish Times:

The remains of Patrick Sarsfield, the Earl of Lucan, have been located and it is hoped to repatriate his remains back to Ireland, researchers have claimed. Sarsfield was one of the Wild Geese who fled Ireland after the defeat of King James II in the Williamite Wars by King William III. He is best known for his rousing defence of Limerick in 1690 after the Battle of the Boyne. He was finally defeated in 1691, but negotiated a treaty to keep the remnants of the Jacobite army together.

Under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick, Sarsfield and 15,000 Jacobite soldiers and their families left for France never to return. Sarsfield was killed in the service of the French king Louis XIV at the Battle of Landen, which took place on July 29th, 1693 during the Nine Years War. He died some days later of his wounds. According to contemporary reports, he was buried “a few days later” on the grounds of St Martin’s Church in the nearby town of Huy in modern-day Belgium. The town is about 30km southwest of Liege. (Read more.)



Thursday, February 23, 2023

Blue Living Rooms


From Shabby Fufu:

Blue is a color that evokes feelings of serenity and luxury. It can make a room modern and striking or serene and delicate. Blue can accentuate light and openness or create a moody and mysterious feel. It all depends on what shade you chose and how you use it. Blue can adapt to any style and is easy to work with. It pairs beautifully with other colors but you can mix different shades of blue together, and the result will always be a fabulous one. And that’s why blue is one of my favorite colors, especially when it comes to home decor.... In the traditional style, the use of clean lines and a neutral color palette conveys an air of elegance and sophistication, making blue an ideal choice to add a modern twist. If you don’t want to paint walls, paint your furniture! Look at the lovely example of this San Francisco home, where the bookshelves were painted in a subtle Shadow Blue hue that plays beautifully with the formal set up but gives it a modern edge. (Read more.)



A Cardinal Misunderstanding of the Hierarchy of Truths

From Catholic World Report:

Catholic media has been reacting the last two weeks to Cardinal McElroy’s recent piece on synodality and “radical inclusivism” in the Church. Responding to some of his critics, his Eminence appeared on the America magazine podcast “Jesuitical: A Podcast for Young Catholics” to explain his views more fully. Part of Cardinal McElroy’s clarifications about both his article and the general contention among Cardinals included the concept of the “hierarchy of truths.” He used this concept to position the subject matter of his article—LGBT, women’s roles in the Church, etc.—as part of a debate of truths that are of “much less important” when compared to “those elements at the heart of the Gospel.”

My focus here is not those specific topics and debates over them. What I will point out is that whatever the merits or weaknesses of his positions on those contentious issues, McElroy’s use of the concept of the “hierarchy of truths” is at best misleading and even very inaccurate. In fact, McElroy appears to be under the common but erroneous impression that the hierarchy of truths is a categorization of Church teaching in which the unquestionable, most certain truths are at the top, while the less certain and more debatable “truths” are at the bottom (and those we can bandy about, though whether indefinitely or not is not clear from his commentary).

If this is what McElroy means, he is mistaken. The hierarchy of truths is not a classification of levels of certainty or importance, but rather an expression of the analogy of faith—the Regula Fidei—that illustrates how the various true doctrines and propositions of Church teaching relate 1) to each other and 2) to the most fundamental or central truths of the Faith on which they are based and from which they flow. (Read more.)




The Hidden Meaning of Incense

 From Pints with Aquinas:

Incense has a long history in the Catholic liturgy. Like so many aspects of worship, it has roots in the Jewish liturgy of the Old Testament:

“And he [Moses’ brother Aaron] shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small; and he shall bring it within the veil and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat which is upon the testimony” (Lev. 16:12-13).

Modern Catholics have different opinions about incense. Traditional Catholics generally love it. Certain modern types complain about the “smells and bells.” “Smells” mostly refers to incense — unless you happen to be in the cry room surrounded by a bunch of babies. The use of incense in the liturgy is full of symbolism. We’ll focus on one of the lesser-known — and most beautiful — meanings. (Read more.)


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Mercredi des Cendres

From author Catherine Delors:
Ash Wednesday follows Fat Tuesday, and the mood could not be more different. Today, a day of fast and prayer, marks the beginning of Lent. The day of ashes on foreheads, and the admonition Memento, homo, quod pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris (“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”)

No better illustration of the contrast between Carnival and Lent than this work by the 19th century Bavarian artist Carl Spitzweg. Spitzweg, though classified as a Romanticist, admired and emulated the genre paintings of the 17th century Flemish school. His style is often humorous and down-to-earth (two qualities I find somewhat lacking in Romantic art.) (Read more.)

The Return of the Antichrist

 From Crisis:

Where then will the spirit of the Antichrist be found? He will be found in the one who refuses to believe the Incarnate God has come down into our world; not as an idea or supposition—no mere abstract construct of the mind, thank you—but as an event, a happening, one which we are free to encounter at any time in the life of the Church He founded two millennia ago.

The Apostle Paul is very clear and specific on the matter, calling him in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, “the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2:3-4). Not only does he disdain to recognize the real appearance of God in the human being Jesus, but he substitutes himself for God, laying claim to the majesty and power which properly belong to God alone.

A very great novel written over a century ago by a priest named Robert Hugh Benson casts a piercing light upon the subject. Called Lord of the World, it imagines a world not so very different from the one taking shape before our very own eyes, into which the Antichrist suddenly appears, bent on possessing everything and everyone. And far from repelling people by the ruthless exercise of his will to power, he is instead welcomed—worshipped even!—by everyone. (Read more.)

The spirit of Antichrist is already here. From Elizabeth Johnston:

A recent university “Sex Week” event featured, among its many workshops on sexuality and sexual identity, a workshop on bondage for which rope would be provided. Although taxpayer funds were not used to put on the event, it nonetheless took place at a taxpayer-funded school, Ohio State University, and was par for the course with what we have come to expect from such events on college campuses. That is, it was packed with workshops and events centered around so-called “sex positive” philosophy and promoting everything from discussions on how to procure “ethical” pornography to abortion. (Read more.) 

Destruction, Deconstruction, and Dereliction

 From Cambridge Core:

In 1585, Raphael Holinshed gloatingly celebrated the end of the cult of St Thomas of Canterbury in England in his Chronicles: ‘What remembrance is there now of Thomas Becket? Where be the shrines that were erected in this church and that chappell for perpetuities of his name and fame? Are they not all defaced? Are they not all ruinated? Are they not all conuerted to powder and dust?’Footnote 1 In his enthusiasm to outline how St Thomas had been rooted from the cultural landscape, Holinshed focused on the physical building blocks of his cult; on the shrine that had stood in Canterbury Cathedral from 1220 until it was pulled down in September 1538, on the churches and chapels that were named in his honour, and on the images and statues of the saint that had once existed in abundance.Footnote 2 Concentrating on the mortar and stone of the cult, Holinshed’s depiction of St Thomas’ obliteration is one of physical iconoclasm and the removal of devotional places and spaces from the map.Footnote 3 It did not have an aural dimension, bar the sound of bricks being ground to dust.

However, despite Holinshed’s evocative description, it was not only the physical statements of Becket’s sanctity that were damaged during the Reformation, as the music that had been composed to honour him was also systematically destroyed. Some of this music was strikingly recent. The surviving bass part of a mostly lost motet entitled Gaude pastore makes the central role of Becket in early sixteenth-century English devotional life obvious.Footnote 4 As a motet, Gaude pastore was probably intended for performance commemorating the Becket Jubilee in 1520, and did not have a part to play as music for public ritual worship. That honour remained with the official liturgy, the most famous of which were St Thomas’ offices for the passion (29 December) and translation (7 July), but the motet attests to an interest in composing devotional songs in St Thomas’ honour.Footnote 5 Indeed, there were a large number of non-Office St Thomas songs, covering such diverse genres as motets, conductuses, and carols that had been composed over the centuries, of which only a small fraction survive.Footnote 6 The survivors give us an insight into the cultural importance St Thomas held between the twelfth and early sixteenth century, and of how his sanctity was conceptualised; he was seen as a noted martyr, a confessor, and as England’s patron.

Yet Becket’s paramount cultural position was not to last forever. Although reformer James Bainham was burnt at the stake partly for daring to question Becket’s saintly status in 1532, by the late 1530s the mood had turned decisively against St Thomas.Footnote 7 As part of the fallout of annulment proceedings against his wife, King Henry VIII (1491-1547) broke with the pope and in some regards aligned himself with the reforming movement that had been sweeping the continent ever since Martin Luther had supposedly nailed his ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517. Alongside a general questioning of the role of saints in Christian worship, Henry objected to the way Thomas Becket — an archbishop who had been murdered due to his opposition to reforms made to ecclesiastical courts by Henry II (1133-1189) — had come to be venerated as a saint, viewing him instead as a traitor. This was a dramatic change from Henry’s earlier stance on St Thomas: around 1520, he likely commissioned a surgical instrument complete with an image of the saint which attests to his orthodox piety in this regard.Footnote 8 (Read more.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

"If Ever I Cease To Love"

It is Mardi Gras. "If Ever I Cease To Love" was once the theme song of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It is a song which does not make sense, but then neither does love, most of the time. Tomorrow it will be Lent.
In a house, in a square in a quadrant
In a street, in a lane, in a road.

Turn to the left on the right hand
You see there my true love's abode

I go there a courting, And cooing to my love like a dove;
And swearing on my bended knee, if ever I cease to love,
May sheep-heads grow on apple trees, If ever I cease to love.

If ever I cease to love, if ever I cease to love,
May the moon be turn'd to green cream cheese,
If ever I cease to love

Death Clarifies What We Love

 From Church Life Journal:

In the midst of increasingly intense and competing narratives within the church and without—but especially within it—Rosemary, my Gram, reminds us that the Little Way is always possible. We can always choose to love. The simplicity of such a decision should not prevent us from grasping either its difficulty or its profundity. It is love that clarifies our thinking, not more thinking. It is love alone that can dissolve that inveterate bias native to our nature. Love is always the encounter of a person, preeminently Jesus of Nazareth, as Benedict XVI and Francis never cease to remind us, but through him it is also the desire for encounter with everyone else. Love alone rents asunder our petty and self-serving horizons and holds out to us the beautiful possibility of loving God with God’s own love. A love wherein we become capable of earnestly desiring the good of our neighbors and capable of the sacrifices it would demand.

Rosemary was a model of that kind of love and so she is a model for all of us living in the meanwhile, the time between confusion and clarity, between injury and healing, between the earnest desire for peace and its accomplishment. Her life invites us, has invited me, to consider how to live amidst the coming-of-age that is the story of our own lives no less than those of our grandparents. Caught between serious questions and their answers, between the Gospel and a secular age that further unlocks its inner riches, between faithfulness and selfishness; such a predicament demands that we earnestly and honestly seek clarity, but it also demands that we often live before it is reached. Is not the testimony of our sacred texts that we must gradually become certain kinds of people through sacrifice before we can “see” and “hear” and “understand” the fullest answers to our deepest questions? At least then, as we drive back and forth making our Little Way, let us not forget to love in the meanwhile. (Read more.)


From National Catholic Register:

There is, nonetheless, often the notion that doctrinal fidelity is somehow in tension or even at odds with pastoral concerns. The truths of the faith, so the thinking goes, are not as important as the unqualified welcoming of all. It is as if the purpose of the Church is to create a safe space. This is both wrong and dangerous. The Church should never be satisfied to leave a person in his or her sin. This is a false idea of love and a disservice to the sinner. We are called to love the sinner so that he or she may live within the light of truth, a reality that is both liberating and one that saves. This is much more difficult for the person accompanying the sinner than simply letting him or her stay in their sin, but it is essential. True love calls for a change in heart — ask any husband or wife. A good spouse demands more from the other than he or she would give on his or her own. (Read more.)


From Crisis:

The biggest threat facing America today isn’t China or Russia. It’s not radical sexual or racial ideologies, nor globalism and widening economic disparities. No, all of these threats, however real and legitimate, all dim in comparison to a much graver menace to our shared future: the dramatic decline in citizens’ religious affiliation and belief. A recent anti-religious op-ed by the Washington Post’s Kate Cohen hints at what awaits an America untethered from Christianity.

“In America, you have to opt out of religion in public life. That’s backward,” reads Cohen’s provocative title. Citing a number of examples, from court-mandated addiction recovery programs, to the language of the Pledge of Allegiance, to abortion restrictions, Cohen claims that it is “backward” that the religiously unobservant are the ones who must opt out of various aspects of American civil life that retain, however tenuously, a religious character.

She approvingly quotes a recent legal argument that Americans have the “absolute right to live free from the religious dictates of others.” She adds: “But as long as this country’s default setting is religious—both culturally and politically—we have to fight for it.” (Read more.)


The Blessed Unreality of American Musicals

 From Deal Hudson at The Christian Review:

Musicals, in retrospect, stamped my imagination and sensibility with aspirations that no doubt are questionable from a philosophical point of view, but the mark on my inner life was already deeply set before I began to scrutinize it.

What did that mark contain? First and foremost, a celebration of love, of falling in love, and romance. I still think that lovers should sing and dance. What’s more natural than that? And the music should be singable with a melodic line whose beauty is irresistible and memorable. My use of should is deliberate and normative in the least offensive way to those who disagree.

Love songs should be capable of being taken home, so to speak; songs that can be sung offstage or offscreen are the heart of great musicals. Musicals without them,​ those​ that contain only a form of rhythmic patter or rap speech ​(like ​‘Hamilton’) are fakes.

Sadly, the musicals of the last twenty years have suffered greatly from that problem, the inattention to melody, whether from disinterest or lack of talent I don’t know. (Read more.)

Monday, February 20, 2023

Mass Formation

Oh, boy. From Human Events:

Human Events Daily host Jack Posobiec explained how the media, the government, and the military are lining up the population to accept a narrative, and how they are using mass formation psychosis techniques to get the populace to demand more surveillance, thereby giving more authority to the Biden regime.

Posobiec said that the powers that be are doing so by training the population to accept the idea that UFOs are above US airspace. "Ladies and gentlemen, they're here. We've made first contact, and it turns out that the extraterrestrials are all a bunch of midwits. Apparently, they have the ability to fly across interstellar distances, they can soar across the cosmos, and yet they end up in Lake Huron in a balloon, and they can't seem to figure out how to get their balloon over the lake. The media expects us to buy this. The government expects us to buy this, and the government wants you to buy this. (Read more.

And now the insects have viruses? From Newsweek:

The U.S. government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been accused of trying to create a new class of biological weapons that would be delivered via virus-infected insects. The Insect Allies program was announced by DARPA in 2016. It is a research project that aims to protect the U.S. agricultural food supply by delivering protective genes to plants via insects, which are responsible for the transmission of most plant viruses. Scientists believe loading the bugs up with viruses that would offer plants protective benefits could be one way of ensuring food security in the event of a major threat.

In an editorial published in the journal Science, a group of researchers led by Richard Guy Reeves, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany, says Insect Allies isn't exactly what it says it is. Instead, they claim DARPA is potentially developing insects as a means of delivering a "new class of biological weapon. (Read more.) 

History, as Told by a Dress

 In earlier times, pink was for boys and blue was for girls. That changed in the nineteenth century. From Laura Crockett at The History Desk:

Nudity leaves one too vulnerable in the face of power. Indeed, if a tyrant wants to break down an individual, the tyrant strips them. From the Inquisition, to the strip searches of the drug wars, it is a method that works quite well. Those who conduct such searches think of themselves as the god of Eden.

To those that believe Genesis is a true story, that it is, actual history, the meanings remain the same. The orthodox and conservative of the monotheistic religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims, do not parade around in skimpy clothing. All are well covered. Only husbands and wives may play Adam and Eve. Liberals, who are the descendants of the Early Modern Age, that period beginning with the Renaissance (late 14th century) to the end of the Enlightenment, get to wear skimpy clothing. However, the naked ladies in the paintings of those years, were usually models with a side gig as someone’s mistress.

When the Adam and Eve story was written, clothing was still a rather primitive production. There was no tailoring, no scissors, no metal needles. The tools and machines they had to make clothing were carders, spindles and looms. Hand made clothing it was, woven by the hands of women. Clothing was not made to fit, but was draped on the body, and then was tied, belted or pinned to the contours of the person wearing the garment. Wool, hemp and linen were the first fibers used. Later on, cotton was added, and then silk.

During the Middle Ages, cloth fairs were held in various locations around Europe. At these fairs, the idea of fashion took hold. Anyone who could afford it, wanted the latest styles. Men and women still dressed somewhat the same, but the gown for men began to lose favor as new ideas in clothing took hold. The church was outraged at some fashions, but nonetheless, the clinging hose, and tight doublets became a thing for men, no matter how much the church frowned. (Read more.)

Sunday, February 19, 2023

BREAKING: Final Epstein Docs to be Unsealed After New Ruling

 From Trending Politics:

After four long years the final batch of court documents relating to Jeffrey Epstein’s associates and victims is set to be released. The documents contain ‘salacious’ allegations and even include new information on Prince Andrew and law professor Alan Dershowitz. Prince Andrew is accused of having sex with Epstein victim Virginia Roberts who was 17 at the time. As per a declaration filed on Wednesday, the papers mention individuals labeled as ‘alleged perpetrators’ or those charged with ‘serious wrongdoing,’ along with law enforcement officials and prosecutors. Bill Gates and Bill Clinton are among the notable men who have been linked to Epstein, but it remains uncertain if they will be referenced in the upcoming documents. (Read more.)


A Culture of Beauty

 From The New Liturgical Movement:

On the whole, the beauty of artifacts is a function of design rather than materials. This means that, contrary to what many believe, mass production and industrialization are not processes that automatically create ugly products. It is as easy to mass produce something beautiful as it is something ugly. The ugliness of today’s culture is not driven by economics, but rather by poor design, because artists and designers are no longer aware of how traditional values are manifested in design, or else because they deliberately reject those values. A large basilica built in modern design is typically more expensive than one built in, say, a traditional Romanesque design, as evidenced by the recent building of the Neo-Romanesque church of St Mary in Kansas, which compares favorably with say, Los Angeles cathedral. 

Sometimes the cost can be greater but not because designing beautifully is intrinsically more costly, but rather because, particularly for lower priced housing which might ordinarily rely on mass produced units, the current templates of mass productions, e.g., for window dimensions, are not reflective of traditional harmony and proportion.  But this could change in time if the demand for better proportioned units increases . Furthermore, even if greater cost is incurred before we reach that point, it is an investment that pays off economically. Houses that are now being built in traditional proportions typically have a higher price on the open market that more than offsets any additional costs in their building. This was the experience of building the experimental village in Dorset, Poundbury, which is an urban extension of the larger town of Dorchester.

I would argue that if we wish also to consider the souls of those who use what we create, then we must endeavor to make beautiful objects, and to do so in a cost effective manner. An ‘investment’ in the souls of men will always pay off. For example, when faced with the dilemma about whether or not money should be spent on beautiful churches and sacred art, some object and say that it would be better given to the poor.

This is an old but false argument that I would counter as follows: consider the Gospel account of Martha, Mary and Judas (John 12, 1-9). The two women acted as hostesses, Mary washed Jesus’s feet with expensive nard, while Martha attended to the other guests’ need. Judas, who was the keeper of the funds for the apostle, also complained that the money spent on expensive nard would be better given to the poor. (Read more.)


Saturday, February 18, 2023

US Nord Stream Sabotage

 From The Post Millennial:

On Wednesday, the White House denied a report from journalist Seymour Hersh that claimed the September 26, 2022 destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline pumping natural gas from Russia to Europe was a deliberate act of sabotage orchestrated by the United States overseen and approved by Joe Biden. A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Adrienne Watson, said, "This is utterly false and complete fiction," Reuters reports.

The denial came in response to a report Hersh published to his substack revealing that Biden's National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, introduced the plan to take out two of the Nord Stream pipelines and that the administration committed themselves to destroy the pipelines as of December 2021. Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, months after the White House planned the sabotage, Hersh reports. (Read more.)

From Trending Politics:

The Northern Fleet warships regularly went to sea with nuclear weapons during the Cold War era, but this is the first time the modern Russian Federation has done the same, the report added. While Russia also has submarine capabilities, anti-satellite weapons and cyber capabilities that could threaten Norway and the NATO military alliance, tactical nuclear weapons are “a particularly serious threat in several operational scenarios in which NATO countries may be involved,” the report said. The Norwegian intelligence also noted that an escalation of a localized war into a wider conflict involving the Unites States, NATO and Norway cannot be ruled out. (Read more.)



The Spiritual Testament of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

 From Vatican News:

I thank my parents, who gave me life in difficult times and prepared a wonderful home for me with their love, which shines through all my days as a bright light until today. My father's clear-sighted faith taught us brothers and sisters to believe and stood firm as a guide in the midst of all my scientific knowledge; my mother's heartfelt piety and great kindness remain a legacy for which I cannot thank her enough. My sister has served me selflessly and full of kind concern for decades; my brother has always paved the way for me with the clear-sightedness of his judgements, with his powerful determination, and with the cheerfulness of his heart; without this ever-new going ahead and going along, I would not have been able to find the right path.

I thank God from the bottom of my heart for the many friends, men and women, whom He has always placed at my side; for the co-workers at all stages of my path; for the teachers and students He has given me. I gratefully entrust them all to His goodness. And I would like to thank the Lord for my beautiful home in the Bavarian foothills of the Alps, in which I was able to see the splendour of the Creator Himself shining through time and again. I thank the people of my homeland for allowing me to experience the beauty of faith time and again. I pray that our country will remain a country of faith and I ask you, dear compatriots, not to let your faith be distracted. Finally, I thank God for all the beauty I was able to experience during the various stages of my journey, but especially in Rome and in Italy, which has become my second home.

I ask for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart from all those whom I have wronged in some way. (Read more.)

Friday, February 17, 2023

The Clintons Push ‘Digital Cash’

 Trying it out in India. From Slay:

According to a press release, a cryptocurrency organization called the Algorand Foundation will join forces with the Self Employed Women’s Association and the Clinton Global Initiative. They say the funds will be used to help “women micro-entrepreneurs address climate change” in India. Clinton made a speech recently to announce the massive partnership. The twice-failed Democrat presidential candidate says the fund will help fight climate change by addressing “extreme heat” and providing energy through solar panels. Clinton also confirmed that the partnership will include multiple Rockefeller organizations.

“Today, I’m proud to announce that the Clinton Global Initiative, started by my husband, will work closely with SEWA and with our partners the America-India Foundation, the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, the Desai Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, and the Algorand Foundation to launch a $50 million Global Climate Resilience Fund for Women,” the former secretary of state said. “This fund will empower women and your communities to have access to resources that will make you resilient to the effects of climate change, like extreme heat,” she added. (Read more.)