Thursday, August 31, 2023

Charles I – the Boy Who Would Be King

From author Mark Turnbull (can't wait to read his new book) at Historia:

Many suggest Charles was overshadowed by Henry. The latter’s numerous talents, which he had no qualms of showing off, certainly made him a legendary figure. Athletic and good looking, he was paraded as the embodiment of honour, courage and princely virtue. The hopes of vast swathes of people were placed in him and as a result it is easy to write Charles off as irrelevant.

The elder, however, was not a good scholar and Charles was held up as an example to follow. Indeed, King James once threatened to leave the crown to Charles who was “far quicker at learning”. Despite his slim physique, Charles proved himself adept at running at the ring, handling a pike, hunting and riding.

His future had seemed mapped out from a young age. Many references pointed, surprisingly, to a military career. It was one that Charles seemed to relish, and on one occasion the six-year-old marched up to the Venetian Ambassador with a ‘harquebus’ on his shoulder to declare he was thus armed for the Republic’s service.

Though numerous siblings followed Charles (Robert, Mary and Sophia) they all perished at tragically young ages. As a result, Charles’s father called him ‘Baby Charles’ well into manhood.

Apart from being embarrassing, the sobriquet must have been a constantly reminder of royal mortality. Considering Charles’s rushed christening and fragile early years, it seemed as though God had preserved him. But for what?

The sudden death of Prince Henry at the age of 18 was a momentous turning-point that shocked the three kingdoms. King James retreated to the country, while Queen Anna shut herself away and refused to eat. Princess Elizabeth was also inconsolable. The 12-year-old Charles was left to lead the nation, whilst shouldering an impossible burden of expectation.

I was struck by the similarities between Henry’s funeral in 1612 and that of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. For Charles, who led the former through central London, it must have been traumatic to say the least.

A teenage sonnet Charles penned to his mother between the years 1613 and 1619 hints at innermost thoughts over the way his life and character changed forever. He wrote the sonnet to help explain their construction, but the contents are extremely poignant. The daily ‘fascherie’ [troubles] had, he wrote, quenched the heavenly furious fire that once burned inside him.

“In place whereof came sad & thorny cares
Which restlesly no time nor season spares.”

From that moment on, Charles pretty much had to take on the guise of his dead brother. His own personality was often suppressed and stifled. Peeling back the layers of propaganda (that of his own and his enemies) reveals a man with faults and foibles, courage and charisma. New evidence also sheds light on key events such as the start of civil war in England and his death upon the scaffold. (Read more.)



The Return of Animal Sacrifice

 From Spiked Online:

We look back with bewilderment at the ritual sacrifice of animals by our ancestors. Whether it was the Celtic people’s sacrifice of livestock to appease pissed-off deities or the Ancient Romans’ slaughter of oxen so that Jupiter might be more sparing with his stormy weather, it was all a bit mad. We would never be so superstitious, we tell ourselves. I’m not sure that’s true. Consider the proposed slaughter of hundreds of thousands of cattle in Europe in the holy name of Net Zero. This is the return of pagan lunacy, surely.

Irish farmers are under pressure to ‘cull up to 200,000 cows’ in order that Ireland might meet its ‘climate goals’, reported the Financial Times at the weekend. The Irish government is considering proposals to bump off that amount of cattle over the next three years to help it achieve a 25 per cent reduction in its agricultural emissions. Cows produce methane, you see, and methane is bad. It’s a greenhouse gas. Farming accounts for 40 per cent of Ireland’s greenhouse-gas emissions, so it has become a natural target for the Net Zero zealots. Every EU member state is under pressure to make strides towards Net Zero, and if that entails the sacrifice of livestock, so be it. Save the planet, slaughter the cows.

It’s so superstitious. A ‘mooted cow massacre’ to try to offset the angry climatic conditions apparently caused by man? If someone can explain how this is any different to an ancient people’s ritualistic killing of a poor bull in a desperate bid to placate the weather gods, I’d be most grateful. In fact, if anything, the proposed cow-culling in Ireland is worse than the paganistic antics of our ill-educated forebears. At least they were wise enough to offer up only one or two beasts to the gods of thunder – the neo-pagans of the Net Zero cult are offering up whole herds to try to assuage the heatwaves and floods they think furious Mother Earth has in store for us. (Read more.)

More on the green war on animals, HERE


The Death of Reading

 From Intellectual Takeout:

I am as guilty as anyone else is. A “quick” look at Twitter turns into thirty minutes or more of following links through articles across the web. I can’t remember the last time I got truly lost in a book where hours passed without me noticing. Where I once devoured books, I now “take a break” after each chapter or two to see what’s happening on Twitter. Five minutes turns into ten, and then, well, it’s time to put the book down and make dinner.

Our time online is not making us happier either. The more we use social media sites like Facebook the less happy we are. Looking at our friends’ carefully curated online lives leaves us with a sense that maybe our lives aren’t so great in comparison, plus the time we spend on our devices takes away from the face-to-face interactions we need to build a strong social network. We know our time online is making us unhappy, but we still struggle to kick the habit.

We need to find our way back to the deep, focused reading so many of us enjoyed in the past. “Commitment to reading is an ongoing battle,” Yancey declares. “We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish.” In an age of information overload, we could use the soothing balm of a good piece of literature; we need to tune out digital distractions and pick up a book. I’m making a commitment to myself to carve out more time for distraction-free, focused reading. I hope you will too. (Read more.)


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Unexpected Greek Roots in Slavic Folklore

 From The Greek Reporter:

Greek mythology has deeply impacted various cultures around the world, and its roots can surprisingly be seen in Slavic folklore and fairytales. Ancient heroes found their reflection in legends and fairy tales, and dangerous swamps and dense forests of Eastern Europe inspired many stories about mythical creatures and spirits. The Slavic mythological tradition is closely woven into the general mythological pattern. One of the strongest influences on its development was provided by ancient Greek myths, the echoes of which are clearly visible in many legends, epics, and fairy tales of the Slavs.

 The so-called Zar Ptitsa, which refers to a Firebird, is a magnificent creature that is extremely popular in the Slavic epic. It represents a symbol of good luck and at the same time a harbinger of imminent death. In many fairy tales, brave heroes hunt for a feather from its tail, overcoming many dangers on their way. In Slavic folklore, it is believed that possession of the feather of this bird promises untold wealth, success, and luck.

This Slavic tradition has obvious references to the Ancient Greek legend of the Phoenix. Herodotus recorded a legend about this wonderful bird, similar in appearance to an eagle, with red-gold feathers. This ancient story has it that the Phoenix rose into the heavens, sang a funeral song, and, burning in a solar flame, was reborn from ashes once again. Like the Phoenix, the Firebird flew, enveloped in fire, and illuminated everything around it, remaining immortal. (Read more.)


Mom Fired From Her Job After Speaking At School Board Meeting

 From The Daily Wire:

A mother of three became the target of local progressive activists and was eventually fired from her job after speaking out at a California school board meeting, where she voiced her concerns over LGBT curriculum for kids. Janet Roberson, though, is not deterred from speaking out, and says she’d do it all over again.

“I would do it again,” Roberson told The Daily Wire. “For me to lose a job is horrible and not okay, but I would be willing to do it again. Absolutely. To speak the truth and to stand for freedom and for what our Constitution stands for — 100%.”

Roberson was let go from her position as an independent contractor with Compass, a large real estate company based in New York. She was dismissed from the company by phone only 11 days after she spoke out at a Benicia Unified School District board meeting.

“Children are asked to identify their pronouns; and this is now part of the 10-year-old curriculum,” Roberson told the school board on April 20. “We are alarmed that gender identity is being discussed in math classes. This takes time from core learning and does not benefit the students or our community. Teaching kids that there isn’t any standard or truth and you can believe anything you want to believe is not scientifically accurate or medically correct. For example, the notion that a girl can decide to be a boy, or a boy can decide to be a girl, is not true and should not be taught.”

Soon after voicing her concerns, she was met with backlash from local activists. Two local papers published letters complaining about her comments at the board meeting. In the Vallejo Times-Herald, for example, a former City Council candidate named Billy Innes identifies Roberson as a “Compass Real Estate agent” multiple times — an emphasis Roberson believes was made in an attempt to get her fired — and claims the mother delivered a “lengthy, bigoted diatribe denouncing” “gender-inclusionary language.” He also claims Roberson promotes racism, transphobia, “anti-COVID safety,” and “content that favors Eugenics” on her website. Roberson denies all these claims and described them as horrifying.

There was also a letter written to Compass from a woman named Nathalie Christian, the treasurer of the Progressive Democrats of Benicia and self-described story development coordinator for The Benicia Independent, an openly left-wing blog. In the letter, Christian tells Compass that Roberson has an “anti-equity, anti-trans, anti-Black, and anti-choice” “agenda” and suggests the mother be fired or punished by the company. The letter also asks about Compass’ DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) practices and how Compass “disciplines” agents who are “openly engaging in divisive, hateful, harassing, or abusive rhetoric in their personal lives.” (Read more.)


On Loss-of-Innocence Narratives

 From Crime Reads:

The appeal of loss-of-innocence narratives lies, I think, in the way they invite us to experience a character’s seismic changes as they unfold—and in the way they can call up in vivid detail our own pasts. I suspect it was inevitable I would write a novel like Pet, that takes as its jumping-off point a deeply charismatic, glamorous woman who taught at my Catholic school. Every girl in my class wanted to be her, and every girl wanted to be her pet. This larger-than-life figure stayed with me for decades, and my memories of the intensity of our feelings around her sparked my story of manipulation and betrayal narrated by 12-year-old Justine.

Child narrators can be tricky to get right, but every syllable of Kit de Waal’s debut My Name is Leon feels authentic. The novel tells the story of a biracial boy growing up in 1980s Britain—Action Man is in the toy shops, The Dukes of Hazzard is on TV, and Margaret Thatcher is in power. When Leon’s brother Jake is born, their mother Carol struggles to care for her sons; in the grip of post-natal depression, she succumbs to her own demons. As a result, Leon and Jake enter the foster care system, where Jake is quickly adopted—because he is an infant and because he is white. Leon, left to face a harsher reality, becomes acutely aware of the racial disparities around him. His foster mother is affectionate, but he cannot help overhearing the conversations she has with her sister: there’s no chance a family will want to adopt him. Some of the most moving passages in the book centre around Leon’s love for his baby brother. He imagines that ‘someone else is holding Jake and kissing him. Someone else is looking into the perfect blue of his perfect eyes. Someone else is smelling him and touching the soft skin on the back of his hand.’ We feel his aching sense of loss; we long for him to be reunited with Jake. De Waal’s Leon is a stunning act of ventriloquism, bringing him to authentic three-dimensional life without ever veering into sentimentality. This book broke my heart and mended it again.

Kirsty Gunn’s debut Rain also features a superbly evoked child narrator. Twelve-year-old Janey spends summer with her family at the lake, passing ‘endless bright days of watery green’ with her little brother while their parents drink and their marriage cracks. Water suffuses this taut, luminous work, beginning with the title and leaking out to chill every page. The lush, claustrophobic descriptions of landscape—‘you were surrounded so closely by growth that you could have felt stifled by it, the way it pushed in on you, surrounded you with its dark odours’—take form alongside a mounting unease that permeates the story. When the shattering crisis comes, we know it will haunt Janey forever. It’s easy to see why Gunn’s dreamlike, poetic masterpiece heralded a major new talent. She brings an outstanding lightness of touch to this dark narrative of guilt, sacrifice, and mistakes that can’t be undone. (Read more.)


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Color of the Year 2024: "Renew Blue"

 From Homes and Gardens:

Renowned paint and coatings brand Valspar has launched its Color of the Year for 2024: Renew Blue. Described as a 'balanced blue with a touch of grayed sea-green’, the hue hones in on the importance of using color trends for well-being in the home, inspiring homeowners to create calming and restorative spaces. 

‘Renew Blue is an incredibly versatile and all-season shade that anyone can envision in their space. Inspired by fleeting elements like fog, mist, clouds, and glacier lakes, Renew Blue elevates the everyday mood, encourages self-expression, and evokes a feeling of balance and calm, with a twist of unique spontaneity,’ explains Sue Kim, Valspar Director of Color Marketing.

Marking the brand’s 15th anniversary of its annual Color of the Year, the 2024 announcement signifies a simplified approach with one singular color, in contrast to the historical selection of 12 Colors of the Year.‘ (Read more.)


Georgia School Removes Pornographic Books

 [Warning! Graphic!] From Libs of TikTok:

A Win For Cobb County Students and Families!

On August 19th, we reached out to the Cobb County School District via email to ask them for comment on why they were offering pornographic themed books to their students.


Two days later we received a response from Chief Strategy and Accountability Officer John Floresta. His response is what all parents should want to hear! It read, “Any book, video, or lesson which contains sexually-explicit content is entirely unacceptable and have no place in our schools, period. Over the weekend, we have removed both books from all of our schools.” The district also reportedly sent out an email to parents and staff on Monday, August 21st notifying them they removed the two books in question. (Read more.)


The Image of an Upright Man

 From Catholic Exchange:

I must admit that I was overwhelmed with the discovery of the upright man. It caused me to back out of the room in awe and respect for what the image of the man of the shroud was visually telling me. My first thought was that indeed this image is a reflection of the moment of Jesus’ resurrection. It was a moment in direct contrast from all that I previously understood. Prior to that moment, I thought there was nothing on the shroud that revealed that this man’s image was a reflection of Jesus’ resurrection.

In the context of what I knew of Jesus’ life, the image of the upright man that I now saw was a visual declaration of his resurrection. But as I calmed down from my initial moment of awe, questions were screaming inside my head: “He is upright, but why isn’t he standing?” “Why is he in midair?” I had no answers and did not know where to find them. Then one source came to mind. I went to the Bible and read the four Gospels.

So I began a biblical search for answers as to why the image of the shroud shows a man whose hair falls to his shoulders and whose feet do not touch the ground. And that was the beginning of an exhilarating biblical journey. That journey opened the door to discovering the sign that John ingeniously concealed and much more. That journey also brought me to Pablo Eduardo, a master of artistic anatomy. The result is a new sculpture of the man of the shroud that now resides at Ave Maria University. This sculpture of the man of the shroud, called The Sign, visually shows that Jesus is not lying in burial but is raised up, lifted up in resurrection and ascension to his Father (figure 9). (Read more.)

Monday, August 28, 2023

"Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"

Rita Hayworth singing "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" in Pal Joey (1957)

From Debra Esolen at Word and Song:

Not all of the Rodgers and Hart tunes used in “Pal Joey” were newly written for that show. Many came from the team’s previous musicals. But “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” was composed for the female lead in to sing about her love for the scapegrace, Joey. The song — a capsulized version of the play’s main plot — was not an immediate hit on its own, apart from Broadway. It’s not that the public didn’t take to the song, but that they didn’t hear it. American radio broadcasters had put into place a boycott of all songs licensed by ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) in a dispute over use fees. For this reason the earliest recordings of “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” received no air time at all.

And so it happened that a Rodgers and Hart song destined to become an American Songbook standard took a full decade to become a hit. But when it hit, it hit! In June of 1950, six different recordings of the song held a spot on Billboard’s list of the 20 most-played singles on radio. And in May of that year Billboard listed the song’s sheet music as the most-sold for a single. “Bewitched” was covered by an amazing array of singers during the 1950’s — Doris Day, Jo Stafford, Mel Torme, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, and many others, including Sinatra, who had a single hit with it in 1958. (Read more.)


There Is Something Demented About Biden’s Lies

 From David Harsanyi at The Federalist:

One might be tempted to blame the president’s mythologizing on his mental decline, but this is not new. Though most politicians idealize or romanticize their past, it is unlikely that there has ever been a bigger fabulist in presidential history than Biden. Let’s again recall that this is a person who, during a presidential campaign, felt comfortable appropriating a stranger’s hard-boiled, mine-digging, poetry-reading life in Wales. And Joe didn’t merely steal Neil Kinnock’s words, as reporter Maureen Dowd noted in 1987, he copied the story “with phrases, gestures and lyrical Welsh syntax intact.” One might call that sociopathic behavior.

Certainly, Biden’s mendaciousness is abnormal even by the low standards we typically use to judge politicians. I mean, it takes a spectacular shamelessness for a man who began his political career sucking up to segregationists — even lying about getting awards from George Wallace — to retroactively place himself repeatedly at the center of the civil rights movement. Still, you might be able to rationalize those lies. Biden has never held any political principles. He’s willing to take any position that helps him hold power. And he has. But there is something quite demented about a person inventing misfortune or using real heartbreak to make himself the center of a story. Joe Biden does this regularly.

Until very recently, he’s been telling Americans that his deceased son Beau died in Iraq even though he passed from glioblastoma six years after returning home — really, an act of stolen valor by the president. After 13 service members were killed in Afghanistan, largely due to his administration’s incompetence, Biden visited the mother of Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola. “When Joe Biden, our elected president, entered the room, when he approached me,” Gold Star mother Cheryl Rex recently testified, “his words to me were, ‘My wife Jill and I know how you feel. We lost our son as well and brought him home in a flag-draped coffin.’” This story rings true because Biden has told much the same tale in public for years.

Recall also that Biden tragically lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972, which he also mentioned in Hawaii. But Biden has claimed or implied on numerous occasions that the driver of the truck that killed his family members was drunk — “drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch” – when there was no evidence that the man was intoxicated, much less did anything wrong. Biden made it up. (Read more.)


One of The Earliest Galaxies Ever Seen

 From Science Alert:

A red blob lurking in the background of a deep image of space has now been validated as one of the earliest galaxies known in the Universe. It's called Maisie's Galaxy, and spectroscopic analysis has confirmed the James Webb Space Telescope observed the object as it appeared just 390 million years after the Big Bang. That's not quite as early as scientists initially thought, but it is now officially one of the earliest confirmed galaxies in the Universe. According to a team led by astronomer Pablo Arrabal Haro of the US National Science Foundation's NOIRLab, the results not only help confirm the early Universe is indeed way more populated than we expected, but that care is needed in analyzing the JWST observations.

"The exciting thing about Maisie's galaxy is that it was one of the first distant galaxies identified by JWST, and of that set, it's the first to actually be spectroscopically confirmed," says astronomer Steven Finkelstein of the University of Texas at Austin, who named the galaxy in honor of his daughter, on whose birthday the galaxy was discovered last year. (Read more.)

Sunday, August 27, 2023

A Voyage Into the Past

 In which I am interviewed by my Alma Mater in Frederick, Maryland. From Hood College:

You publish under the nom de plume “Elena Maria Vidal.” How did you choose your pen name?

I took as my pen name a variation of the name of my Spanish grandmother, Maria Magdalena Vidal, to honor her. She was in the Philippines during WW2, and while her husband was captive in a Japanese concentration camp, she worked with the underground, hiding guerrilla soldiers from the invaders. She is one of the bravest people I have ever known.

In 1998, you came Home to Hood to host a book signing for your first Trianon book; had the campus changed much since 1984? What memories were conjured when you stepped back on campus?

Yes, the campus had changed dramatically. Everything was very elegant. Not that it wasn’t elegant before, just more upscale. It was 1998, and I graduated in 1984. There was a brand-new library, a student center with a coffee shop, a huge new bookstore and other new buildings. At the time, I could not help remembering that my first public speech occurred while I was a senior at Hood, at a Learning Lunch arranged by my history professor Dr. Len Latkovski. I spoke on the murder of the Russian imperial family and the mystery of Anastasia. So, returning there as a published author was a thrill as well as a way of validating the confidence that my professors had placed in me.

You shared in an earlier email that your French and history professors were your “favorites.” Who were they and what made them so special to you?

I was a psych major, but I received better grades in history and French, so I began taking more classes in those subjects to boost my average. My favorite professor was Dr. Latkovski, who did a lot to encourage me to change my course of studies to history. I also am grateful to Dr. Mindel, another history professor, who wrote many recommendation letters for me. And I will forever be grateful for the superb training in French I received from Dr. Kantor and Mademoiselle Moran. Knowledge of French has been indispensable in my travels and my research; I would not have accomplished anything without it. (Read more.)


Americans Fight Back Against Pentagon

 From The Western Journal:

Americans decried Arlington National Cemetery’s plans to remove the Confederate Memorial as an affront to the unity and reconciliation it symbolizes at a public comment session Wednesday evening. The Army solicited feedback from the public as part of a legal process determining the memorial’s historic significance and how to best carry out the dismantling after a congressionally mandated study found the structure troublesome, according to the removal page. Dozens of respondents — many identifying as veterans and claiming both Union and Confederate veterans in their heritage — offered feedback in a session Wednesday that ran three hours, making the case for saving the memorial because of its artistic value and function as a symbol of restoration. (Read more.)


Why Introverted Children Don’t Need to Be ‘Fixed’

 From Introvert, Dear:

Things have changed since the nineties. As the world becomes more aware of introversion and neurodiversity more generally — the idea that human beings come in a wide range of neurobiological flavors, and have diverse internal experiences that reflect that fact — people have begun to speak up for introverted children. Parents need to know that their quiet, sensitive children don’t need to be “fixed,” and that extroversion is not a requirement for health, goodness, or normalcy. But I think it’s important that we dig a little deeper into the impulse so many adults seem to worry about regarding introverted children, and, consequently, how they pressure them to change. What is it about quiet children that makes their parents and teachers so uncomfortable? What is it that makes them so afraid?


When we expect our introverted children to perform happiness (or extroversion) for our sake, the natural order of things gets turned upside down. Instead, we need to observe them carefully to make sure they are thriving, and to expand our understanding of childhood happiness to include introverted expressions, like getting lost in a book or creative project. In other words, we need to recognize quiet happiness when we see it. (Read more.)

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Bonnie Prince Charlie - a New Facial Reconstruction

From Once I Was a Clever Boy:

Dr William King was Principal of St Mary’s Hall in Oxford, which was owned and eventually absorbed by Oriel College. Wikipedia has a biography of him at William King (St Mary Hall) In addition to agreeing to let me quote from his e-mail Roderick also sent me the following additional information, for which I am most grateful:
 I found … descriptions of how Charles looked as he entered Holyroodhouse in September 1745.

Two of these were written by Whigs and they are worth quoting as you would expect them to be the least flattering. The first is from Dr Alexander Carlyle who wrote:

''I had the good fortune to see him, as I was close by him when he walked through the guard. He was a good-looking man of about five feet ten inches. his hair was dark red, and his eyes black. His features were regular, his visage long, much sunburnt, and freckled, and his countenance thoughtful and melancholy''.

The other was by Henderson who's description is as follows:

''He is a slender young man, about five feet ten inches high, of a ruddy complection, high nosed, large rolling brown eyes, long visage; his chin was pointed and mouth small, in proportion to his features: his hair red, but at that time he wore a pale Peruke: he was in Highland dress, with a blue sash wrought with gold coming over the shoulder, red velvet breaches, a green velvet bonnet with gold Lace round it, and a white cockade which was the cross of St Andrew. He likewise had a silver-hilted broadsword, was booted, and had a Pair of Pistols before him''.

No mention of blotches, open pores or unkempt hair.

(Read more.)


Also from Once I Was a Clever Boy:

Today is the 278th anniversary of the raising of the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan in 1745 and by a fortunate coincidence that coincides with publicity for a facial reconstruction of the central figure on that day, Prince Charles Edward. Several news sites have reported about a project done by a masters student from Dundee University to reconstruct the appearance of the face of Prince Charles Edward as it was in 1745-6. The existing death masks from 1788 were scanned and then adjusted to allow both for the stroke which ended his life and for the intervening forty and more years of aging. Other features such as skin tone and hair were based on descriptions and paintings.

The BBC News website reports on the work at Death masks recreate face of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The Daily Telegraph has an article about the result at Not so Bonnie Prince Charlie? 3D mapping reveals true face of 'handsome' Jacobite leader.

The Scottish Daily Express also covers the story at Prince Charlie was not as Bonnie as we thought as Jacobite's face recreated.

A previous facial reconstruction made in 2019 of the King-in-exile based on the death masks and other contemporary sources can be seen at New facial depiction created of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The effect created by the resulting portrait bust is rather of someone with a hangover or perhaps what the Prince might have looked like whilst on the run after Culloden, although for part of that time he let his beard grow. (Read more.)

Barack Obama: President for Life?

 From Dr. Zmirak at The Stream:

Okay, okay, I can hear you saying. Maybe Obama is running the show at the moment, while the Former Joe Biden mutters into his ice cream cone in between his ever-lengthening naps. But while Trump was in office?

Well, Trump didn’t have control of the Department of Justice, with Jeff Sessions recused and career bureaucrats running most of the show. (Bill Barr came along later, and made matters even worse.) Nor could he control the FBI. In fact, as we’ve documented here, Obama had used the Patriot Act to politicize and make permanently partisan the entire intelligence wing of the U.S. government. He elevated it to the level of a fourth branch of government, able to defy Congress, the courts, and even a sitting president.

Obama’s men, whom he left in place, spent four years undermining and defying the people’s choice for president. Then they helped steal the next election—by certifying that Hunter Biden’s laptop was “Russian disinformation” and getting social media to censor the facts of the matter. Now they are still in place, and running things while Joe Biden sleeps. (Read more.)


The Marriage of King James IV and Margaret Tudor, 1503

 From Once I Was a Clever Boy:

The marriage was a return to the policy pursued, without success, by the bridegroom’s father King James III of peace secured by a royal marriage with England. For all its promise this marriage was to end a decade later when the King was killed, along with so many of his nobility at the battle of Flodden when he invaded England as an ally of France.

Nonetheless the marriage did lead a century afterwards in 1603 to the Union of the Crowns in the person of King James VI, who was descended twice over from Queen Margaret through his paternal grandmother the Countess of Lennox. From the personal Union there flowed the parliamentary Union of 1707.

To mark the anniversary the Royal Collection Trust had an online lecture about the wedding by Dr Lucy Dean, which I booked into. This was extremely interesting and showed how the extensive surviving records can be correlated about the clothes made for the couple, the repairs to the King’s crown and sceptre and the preparation- just to be prepared - for the King’s tomb at Cambuskenneth. (Read more.)

Friday, August 25, 2023

The (Mug)Shot Heard Around The World

 From The National Pulse:

Former U.S. President Donald J. Trump has once again been arrested and booked, this time in perhaps the most brazenly political prosecution yet – a tall order given the litany of ludicrous charges which have already befallen the ex-Commander in Chief.

Trump, 77, arrived in Georgia on Thursday evening just one day after trouncing his own party’s ratings with an exclusive interview with Tucker Carlson. At the same time, his futile challenger Ron DeSantis played baseball, instead of protesting the arrest of the man he once claimed to be a “pitbull defender” for, while begging for votes in his home state.

Now, Trump has been booked in, with the following mugshot heard around the world produced by the Fulton County jail in Georgia, at the behest of political prosecutor Fani Willis. (Read more.)


From The Federalist:

Former President Donald Trump is immensely popular. It’s a simple fact that poses an uncomfortable reality for the deep state. Water is also wet. In lieu of participating in the Aug. 23 Republican presidential primary debate, Trump sat down for a one-on-one discussion with Tucker Carlson in which the two discussed Joe Biden’s puppet presidency and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Jeffrey Epstein’s death, among other things.

One of the more pertinent topics of conversation, as one might expect given the ongoing persecution and politically motivated indictments of Trump and his allies, was the near-total weaponization of the American justice system.

At one point, Carlson asked Trump point blank if the only way for the deep state to end his political influence is to permanently incapacitate him. After all, Trump has been indicted four times now — most recently in Fulton County, Georgia, with 18 of his associates on phony trumped-up charges — and it isn’t slowing down his presidential campaign. 

“Indictment is not working, your poll numbers go up,” Carlson said. “What’s next? Trying to put you in prison for the rest of your life, that’s not working. Don’t they have to kill you now?” (Read more.)

From Just the News:

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan launched a probe Thursday into Fulton County’s probe that resulted in charges against former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election results. Jordan, an Ohio Republican, asked Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, to turn over all documents related to the case. The letter comes hours before Trump is expected to surrender to the Fulton County jail.

"Was Fulton County DA Fani Willis working with Jack Smith?  Was she communicating with the Executive Branch? Were any federal funds used in the investigation of President Trump?" Jordan posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, when he announced his probe.

The state charges brought against Trump in Georgia are separate from the federal indictment brought against the former president in special counsel Jack Smith's two probes involving Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents and his alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all federal criminal charges. (Read more.


The Nazi Playbook for Taking Power

 From Dr. Zmirak at The Stream:

Let’s keep in mind what else has happened in the past few years, how the George Floyd rioters went unpunished, and are now winning civil settlements against the police who stopped them from burning and looting our cities. They were praised and bailed out by Kamala Harris. But peaceful January 6 protestors still languish in prison, or die by suicide — under the condemnation of former President George W. Bush, who called them the “children of the same foul spirit” as the 9/11 hijackers and mass murderers. Kyle Rittenhouse was charged with first degree murder for defending himself. Protestor Ashli Babbitt and bar-owner Jake Gardner are dead, God rest their souls.

President Trump was impeached for looking into the Biden family’s corruption, which now will be swept under the rug by the “special counsel” who cut a sweetheart, lifetime immunity deal for Hunter Biden that a court rejected. But Trump faces possible prison time for questioning the 2020 election results. Trump’s own attorney general, Deep State scion William Barr, is defending as constitutional the Department of Justice’s attack on Trump’s First Amendment rights.

What’s happening here? We can only call such a wildly double standard, worthy of the lynch-mob era Jim Crow South, Anarcho-Tyranny. That is, “Anarchy for me, and tyranny for thee.” (Read more.)


Also from Dr. Z at The Stream:

Liberation Theology is actually quite simple: You pretend that Jesus came here to conquer not sin, but the Roman empire. (Forget what a bad job He seemed to do at that.) Obsess about worldly wealth and power and fixate on stuff that other people have … which you want for yourself. But instead of doing something non-violent (like praying or working) to grow your own share, you join a revolutionary movement that wants to seize wealth and power from your neighbors, and put them in prison camps if they object.

Liberation Theology got pushed heavily by the KGB and duped Catholic clergy from the late 1960s on, and its attempt to remake Jesus as a proto-Marxist zealot intent on world revolution … drove off real Christians in droves. Many became Pentecostalists instead, creating thriving churches from Mexico City to Patagonia. (Read more.)


Scientists Turn to Human Ancestors’ DNA in Search for New Antibiotics

I know. It does sound weird. From Smithsonian:

“We’re motivated by the notion of bringing back molecules from the past to address problems that we have today,” de la Fuente tells Nature News’ Saima Sidik.

To do so, the researchers used a machine learning tool to look at the proteins in modern humans and our closest extinct relatives, Neanderthals and Denisovans. Many organisms make bits of proteins called peptides that can defend against microbes. The tool examined these molecules in our ancestors’ genomes and predicted which ones might be successful antibiotics for living humans. Then, the researchers created the most promising candidates in the lab.

The team used six peptides—four from modern humans, one from Neanderthals and one from Denisovans—to treat mice that had been infected with bacteria, writes Nature News. The treatments stopped one type of bacterium from growing in muscles, but they didn’t kill it, per the publication. With high doses, five of the peptides killed a different kind of bacterium that grew in skin infections.

Jonathan Stokes, a biochemist at McMaster University in Canada who wasn’t involved in the research, tells Vox that this approach to finding new drugs is creative. “I think this technique will augment other antibiotic discovery efforts to help us discover structurally and functionally novel antibacterial therapies that overcome existing resistance mechanisms,” he tells the publication. (Read more.)


Thursday, August 24, 2023

Griffins of the Desert

 From Greek Reporter:

We can combine the fact that the griffin was a creature of Central Asia, probably near Mongolia, with the fact that the Greek writers consistently describe it as guarding gold in the country in which it lived. Aeschylus, one of the earliest sources of the griffin, directly associates it with a desert. Interestingly, in Mongolia, the Gobi Desert was known in ancient times for its gold. Even today, it still has huge deposits of gold.

Therefore, it is likely that the Gobi Desert was the land that the griffins were supposed to have inhabited. Hence, how does this relate to the origin of the griffin? Well, in the Gobi Desert, there are many fossils of dinosaurs. One of the most commonly-found dinosaurs there may well explain the origin of the griffin: the Protoceratops.

The Protoceratops was similar to the more famous Triceratops, except it was smaller and did not have any horns. This dinosaur was a four-legged creature, thus having the same basic structure as a lion. Yet, it also had a beak, like a bird. (Read more.)



Jenna Ellis Turns Herself In

 Appalling. From The Post Millennial:

Ellis has been accused of racketeering and asking a public official to violate their oath as part of Fulton County District Attorney’s indictment alleging attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. All 19 co-defendants in the Georgia case, including Trump, are facing state RICO charges alleging a criminal operation to keep the former president in the White House after losing the 2020 election. Ellis is the ninth defendant to be submitted to the jail. Former President Trump is expected to turn himself in on Thursday. (Read more.)

Grazing Goats and Sheep Help Uncover Historic Headstones in Ireland

 From Smithsonian:

Uncovering graves buried by centuries of plant growth is hard work—for humans, at least. For sheep, it’s actually a tasty task. That’s why volunteers at a church in Ireland have brought in the herbivores to help with historical conservation work. As BBC News reports, the sheep are clearing an overgrown graveyard by St. Matthew’s Church in the Cork County parish of Templebreedy. They are helping to bring a forgotten history back to the fore,” Cork County Councilor Audrey Buckley tells BBC News.

The Templebreedy Save Our Steeple committee, which aims to preserve the historic site and connect it to the local community today, is spearheading efforts to recover the graves. St. Matthew’s was built in 1788 and has since fallen into ruin. A different church stood at the site before St. Matthew’s, and the grounds’ earliest grave dates back to 1711.

The sheep aren’t the first grazing creatures to help out with the project. Last summer, four goats were recruited to munch on overgrowth around the old headstones. As Buckley told the Irish Times’ Olivia Kelleher last May, she learned about “goatscaping” on a visit to Wales, where goats and sheep often help clear unwanted vegetation from churchyards. The animals can remove weeds in a more environmentally friendly way than power trimmers while presenting less danger to fragile tombstones. (Read more.)


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Lost Connections

 Between Ancient Ireland and Egypt. From Brehon Academy:

The Stowe Missal is an early Irish liturgical manuscript written in the 8th century. It is one of the most important sources of information about early Irish Christianity. The manuscript contains a number of prayers and hymns, as well as a calendar of saints. One of the most interesting passages in the Stowe Missal is a prayer that mentions the desert monks, and in particular, Anthony of Egypt. The prayer reads:
May God protect us from the dangers of the desert, and may he grant us the grace of following the example of Anthony of Egypt.
Anthony of Egypt was a famous early Christian monk who lived in the 3rd and 4th centuries. He is considered to be the founder of Christian monasticism. Anthony left his home and family to live in the desert, where he devoted himself to prayer and asceticism. He became a popular figure, and many people came to him for guidance and spiritual advice. The teachings of Anthony of Egypt had a profound impact on early Irish Christianity. Irish monks were inspired by his example of asceticism and his commitment to prayer. They also adopted many of his practices, such as solitary living and the use of the desert as a place of spiritual retreat.

The passage above suggests that there was a connection between early Irish Christianity and the desert monastic tradition of Egypt. It is possible that some Irish monks travelled to Egypt to study with the desert fathers, and that they brought back with them the teachings of Anthony of Egypt.

In addition to the Stowe Missal, there are a number of other early Irish sources that mention the desert monks. These sources include the Book of Armagh, the Book of Leinster, and the Annals of the Four Masters. These sources suggest that there was a significant interest in the desert monastic tradition in early Ireland.

The Litany of Irish Saints by Oengus of Tallaght (fl. 800) also mentions the burial of seven Egyptian monks in County Antrim. The passage reads: In Uillaigh, Co. Antrim, seven Egyptian monks (manchaib Egipt) were buried. The passage does not give any further details about the monks, such as their names or the date of their death. However, it does suggest that there was a community of Egyptian monks in County Antrim in the 8th century. The evidence suggests that there was a connection between Ireland and Egypt in the 8th century, and that some Egyptian monks may have travelled to Ireland. Reference to the burial of seven Egyptian monks in County Antrim is a reminder of this connection, and it is a fascinating piece of Irish history. (Read more.)

Congress Subpoenas FBI

 From The Post Millennial:

Members of the House Judiciary and Ways and Means committees are demanding that FBI and IRS agents who sat in on a key meeting that was said to have exposed special treatment for Hunter Biden testify before Congress. According to the Daily Mail, Jim Jordan and Jason Smith say that four agents have knowledge of a meeting that took place on October 7, 2022, in which David Weiss allegedly said he was not the "deciding person" on whether charges would be filed against Hunter Biden, despite being the top prosecutor in the case. Two FBI agents and two IRS agents have been subpoenaed as a result. According to The Hill, those subpoenaed were IRS Director of Field Operations Michael T Batdorf, IRS special agent in charge Darrell J Waldon, FBI special agent in charge Thomas J Sobocinski, and FBI assistant special agent in charge Ryeshia Holley. (Read more.)

Natural Harmony at Stonehenge

 From Ancient Origins:

What appears to be emerging from my mapping research is that during the British Neolithic there once existed a body of knowledge relating to the positioning of  monuments in the landscape. This knowledge seems to have demanded an acknowledgement of the importance of the natural features in the landscape and their corresponding dimensions. Once this “knowledge” was understood, it was then translated into both a monument’s location and its inherent dimensions.

So why would the Proto-Druids behave in such a manner? The answer to this question is difficult, especially as the Neolithic communities were pre-literate. But is there any evidence for such a body of knowledge ever once existing within British pre-history? Maybe so, and the nearest explanation that can be offered here belongs to the late Iron Age druids.

Of course, these druids appeared almost two thousand years after the creation of Stonehenge and its ritual landscape. But we can comfortably place their appearance in British pre-history between 300 BC and 400 AD, when they are directly referred to in classical sources. I cannot find any earlier evidence from these written sources, even though a number of pre-historians are starting to think that the origins of the British Druidry might extend much further back in time than previously thought. For instance,  Iron Age  specialist Barry Cunliffe now considers the possibility that aspects of druidic knowledge could have originated as far back to the start of the  Bronze Age , or 2,500 BC.

Undoubtedly, I believe that we are looking at some kind of specialist surveyor who possessed the ability to accurately measure on a large scale, in a way that would later be observed by the historical  Greek and Roman classical authors. Obviously, for this to happen then the practice of their surveying would have had to continue across many generations (from the Neolithic, through to the Iron Age). (Read more.)


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Secret Ingredients To Give Fries An Earthy Burst Of Flavor

From Tasting Table:

The leaves of fresh tarragon can be prone to bruising, so you should handle them with care as you strip them from their stems. You can add the leaves whole or roughly chopped to french fries fresh out of the fryer or oven. The hot oils from the french fries will help release fresh tarragon's aromas, giving you an earthy, sweet preview of your herb-upgraded fries. You don't need to use much tarragon on your fries to achieve the desired subtle flavor and aroma. In fact, it's best to start by under-seasoning, because adding too much could overpower the savory flavor of the fries. You can find fresh tarragon sold bundled or packaged in the produce section of most larger grocery stores. That said, fresh tarragon isn't as widely available as other popular herbs, so if you can't find it fresh, dried tarragon is usually available in the spice aisle. (Read more.)


Woke Snow White

From The Daily Wire:

The 22-year-old star has been making headlines recently for her comments regarding the original 1937 film’s storyline, which is based on a German fairy tale. Zegler said she “hated” the classic love story and thought it was “weird,” plus labeled the prince as a “stalker.” As for the new live-action version, the “Snow White” star alluded to some major updates.

“She’s not going to be saved by the prince and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love,” the actress promised. Branding expert Carla Speight predicted Zegler’s highly publicized comments could hurt ticket sales. She told the Daily Mail that even though old Disney movies “hold old values,” taking revisions “to the opposite extreme” in an effort “to inflict strong and loaded messaging on the viewers” is a mistake. (Read more.)


Ancient DNA Sheds Light on Machu Picchu’s Past

 From SciTechDaily:

Who lived at Machu Picchu at its height? New research, recently published in the journal Science Advances, leverages ancient DNA to unveil the origins of workers buried over half a millennium ago within the lost Inca Empire for the first time. A team of researchers, including Jason Nesbitt, an associate professor of archaeology at Tulane University’s School of Liberal Arts, conducted genetic examinations on bodies buried at Machu Picchu. Their objective was to gather more information about the people who lived and worked there.

Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Cusco region of Peru. It is one of the most well-known archaeological sites in the world and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. It was once part of a royal estate of the Inca Empire.

Like other royal estates, Machu Picchu was home not only to royalty and other elite members of Inca society, but also to attendants and workers, many of whom lived in the estate year-round. These residents did not necessarily come from the local area, though it is only in this study that researchers have been able to confirm, with DNA evidence, the diversity of their backgrounds. “It’s telling us, not about elites and royalty, but lower status people,” Nesbitt said. “These were burials of the retainer population.”

This DNA analysis works in much the same way that modern genetic ancestry kits work. The researchers compared the DNA of 34 individuals buried at Machu Picchu to that of individuals from other places around the Inca Empire as well as some modern genomes from South America to see how closely related they might be. (Read more.)


Monday, August 21, 2023

Bess of Hardwick’s Tapestries

 From Apollo:

In 1592, Bess of Hardwick was in search of a bargain – and she got one. From the estate of Sir Christopher Hatton, a favourite of Elizabeth I, Bess purchased one of the largest sets of tapestries in existence for the knock-down price of £326 15s 9d, approximately £100,000 in today’s money. The Gideon Tapestries, as they are known, have hung ever since at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, where the National Trust has just completed a 20-year conservation programme – at a cost of around £1.7m – to restore them to their former glory.

Many layers of history can be read in these remarkable tapestries. Hatton commissioned them from a Flemish workshop for his own Long Gallery at Holdenby Hall, completed in 1583 in tribute to Elizabeth I. The house was decorated with its political role in mind, and the choice of tapestries may reflect this. The Old Testament story of Gideon tells how he was called by God to save the Israelites from idolatry and win a miraculous victory over the Midianite army. Besides the religious significance of the story for Elizabeth’s Protestant regime, at one point a sheep’s fleece becomes the vehicle for a sign from God.

Elizabeth called Hatton her ‘sheep’ (a weak pun on mutton), so this may explain the choice of subject matter. On the other hand, at 20 feet high, the Gideon tapestries are prodigiously large, and there may have been a limited number of subjects available for weaving at this scale. The designs had originally been woven c. 1560 for the Medici family, but as textile historian Helen Wyld has pointed out, Hatton’s set was almost a third taller again, an effect achieved by extending landscape details and widening borders. Perhaps due to their size, Hatton was forced to compromise on materials. The weaving is relatively crude, with lower grade dyes and less silk thread than is found other examples: the Gideon tapestries aim for a big effect on a budget.

After Hatton’s death, savvy Bess of Hardwick acquired the tapestries at a reduced rate, partly because Hatton’s heir needed to pay off the debts of the ‘dancing Chancellor’, and partly because Bess needed to replace his coats of arms, woven into the borders, with her own. In the event, however, she saved almost £4 (£1,265 in 2023) by having her arms painted on cloths, not woven, and sewn over Hatton’s, with a bit of brown paint and antlers to convert his crest, a golden hind, into the Cavendish stag – alterations that can still be seen today. She installed them at Hardwick New Hall, the house she was then building on her family estate, with money from three previous marriages (and widowhoods). The 13 Gideon tapestries have hung in the Long Gallery ever since their purchase, forming the visual climax for centuries of visitors to Bess’s dream house. (Read more.)

Via Once I Was a Clever Boy.


John Calvin and Gnosticism

Part 1. From Catholic Answers:

For the purpose of this article, I will define an article of faith as “gnostic” if it is imparted to the individual by God directly. This is the opposite of a “public” article of faith, which God imparts to everyone by means of a duly authorized representative—i.e., apostolic (“sent”) authority.

The Christian faith has always been fundamentally public. Christ commissioned the apostles to disciple the nations, and in doing so, he gave them authority to teach, in a public fashion, articles of faith to be believed by all Christians.

Thus, from the beginning, Christians could not claim that God gave them a personal revelation as a means to contradict, add to, or subtract from articles of faith publicly taught by the apostles and their successors as duly authorized representatives of God. If someone claiming to be Christian did make such an assertion, it would be gnostic, as it would amount to the claim that the Christian revelation publicly imparted by authorized representatives had in fact been privately imparted directly to them.

This public nature of the Christian religion is evidenced all over Scripture. Perhaps the most significant example is the Council of Jerusalem, in Acts 15. When a theological controversy was “unsettling [the] minds” of Christians (v. 24), the apostles and elders they had already begun to appoint to succeed them settled the controversy with divine authority, declaring, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . .” (v. 28). Of the men who had initiated this controversy, they said, “We gave them no instructions” (v. 24). (Read more.)

Part 2 is HERE