Friday, July 28, 2017

A Queen Anne Town House is Renewed

From Victoria:
Perhaps it is the mix of the old with the new, the grand with the humble, that is the secret to the beauty of this old house—that, and its palpably peaceful atmosphere. Today, the wide hall, with its pale oak boards and water-blue runner, welcomes.

It takes a woman of vision to buy a neglected circa-1760 Queen Anne London town house and, within a year, transform it into an elegant family home. That its graceful architectural features were intact and its room proportions generous naturally helped, and finding South African interior decorator Grant White to assist her was kismet. “When I walked into this magnificent period property,” says owner Georgie Penn, “I knew I need never move again.” (Read more.)
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No Longer a Leftist

From Truth Uncensored:
Reading this anecdote, I felt that I was confronting the signature essence of my social life among leftists. We rushed to cast everyone in one of three roles: victim, victimizer, or champion of the oppressed. We lived our lives in a constant state of outraged indignation. I did not want to live that way anymore. I wanted to cultivate a disposition of gratitude. I wanted to see others, not as victims or victimizers, but as potential friends, as loved creations of God. I wanted to understand the point of view of people with whom I disagreed without immediately demonizing them as enemy oppressors.

I recently attended a training session for professors on a college campus. The presenter was a new hire in a tenure-track position. He opened his talk by telling us that he had received an invitation to share a festive meal with the president of the university. I found this to be an enviable occurrence and I did not understand why he appeared dramatically aggrieved. The invitation had been addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. X.” Professor X was a bachelor. He felt slighted. Perhaps the person who had addressed his envelope had disrespected him because he is a member of a minority group.

Rolling his eyes, Prof. X went on to say that he was wary of accepting a position on this lowly commuter campus, with its working-class student body. The disconnect between leftists’ announced value of championing the poor and the leftist practice of expressing snobbery for them stung me. Already vulnerable students would be taught by a professor who regarded association with them as a burden, a failure, and a stigma. (Read more.)
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Spend Time With Your Mother!

From Simplemost:
Has it been awhile since you’ve seen your mom? A 2012 study says you should invite her over for dinner soon. The study concluded that loneliness is a significant factor in the decline of quality of life in older adults, including risk of depression, cognitive impairment and health problems like coronary artery disease, and may even lead to an earlier death. Specifically, the study looked at 1,600 adults with an average age of 71. Researchers found that 23 percent of participants who reported being lonely died within six years of the study, while only 14 percent of those who reported having companionship died during the same six year period. The results, which were published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, remained consistent even after controlling for health and socioeconomic status. Another study published in the journal PLoS Medicine in 2010 found that social ties can be as important to extending life as losing weight if you are obese and getting active if you are sedentary. (Read more.)
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fête Galante au Hameau de la Reine

From a series by Maurice Leloir, 19th century. (Via Vive la Reine.) Share

Land O’Lakes Conference

From Fr. Rutler at Crisis:
Exactly fifty years ago, fads ran wild at the “Land O’Lakes Conference” in Wisconsin organized by Father Theodore Hesburgh of the University of Notre Dame to update the culture of Catholic higher education. Its summary document was published on July 23, in a year when society seemed to be having a nervous breakdown. It was a time of Vietnam protest rallies, an exploding drug culture, the Cold War at fever pitch, and actual combat in the Six Days War. Instead of challenging the cultural neurosis, the Church succumbed to it, as theological and liturgical chaos disappointed what Joseph Ratzinger would call the Pelagian naivetés of the Second Vatican Council. The heads of Catholic colleges and universities who gathered at Land O’Lakes were fraught with a deep-seated inferiority complex, rooted in an unspoken assumption that Catholicism is an impediment to the new material sciences, and eager to attain a peer relationship with academic leaders of the secular schools whose own classical foundations were crumbling and whose presidents and deans were barricading their offices against the onslaught of Vandals in the guise of undergraduates.

Like Horace’s mountains that gave birth to a ridiculous mouse, the 26 conference participants labored for three days and then declared portentously in the first line of their Statement: “The Catholic university today must be a university in the full modern sense of the word.” Then they rallied the rhetorical anesthetics at their disposal to call for “warm personal dialogue” and “a self-developing and self-deepening society of students and faculty in which the consequences of Christian truth are taken seriously in person-to-person relationships.” While these cadences anticipate the cobbling of what in our present time have come to be “safe spaces” for students and faculty fleeing from facts or ideas they find upsetting or offensive, the Statement then trumpeted its real message: “…the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.” (Read more.)
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Jane Austen and Germaine de Staël

From The Conversation:
Two prominent writers died in July 1817. The first was arguably the most famous woman in Europe. The other was a country clergyman’s daughter whose life had revolved around her family and her home county.

Germaine de Staël travelled widely and her work had been translated into several languages. She was the only daughter of wealthy Swiss banker Jacques Necker, who became finance minister to Louis XVI, and was brought up in the stimulating environment of Parisian society. She published major treatises on the influence of passions on individuals and nations, on literature and its relationship to society, not to mention on Germany (1813). She wrote on Marie Antoinette’s trial, on peace, on translation, on suicide.

Her novels Delphine (1802) and Corinne or Italy (1807) were bestsellers throughout Europe. She was also a commentator on, and historian of, the French Revolution in texts which only appeared after her death. Most periodicals felt that anything she penned, fact or fiction, political or philosophical, was worthy of a mention – whether to praise or to condemn it.

Unlike Staël’s father, George Austen encouraged his daughter Jane’s literary pursuits: he bought her notebooks for her early stories, gave her a mahogany writing desk and attempted (unsuccessfully) to get her work into print in 1797. Jane Austen’s first published book, Sense and Sensibility, “a new novel by a lady”, which came out in 1811, bore no author’s name on its title page. The same would go for the other novels published in her lifetime – all sold well and brought a welcome income but, to the outsider, nothing could connect them with the discreet woman who, through her richer brother’s generosity, lived with her mother and sister in a cottage on his estate. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dunkirk (2017)

A review from World at War:
Dunkirk is not a war movie: it’s a movie about war and the experience of war, cleverly crafted by weaving three timelines together covering a week, a day and a single hour. That is the essence of its brilliance as the timelines only collide in the final sequence of the film, resulting in an incredibly moving conclusion. I won’t spoil that for those who haven’t seen it.

Watching this as a military historian who has worked on several documentaries about Dunkirk, I could not help cast a critical eye over it. Yes, there were discrepancies in kit, equipment and weapons, but only minor ones. The beaches did not look crowded enough at times, perhaps there wasn’t enough smoke over Dunkirk and perhaps the seas did not look busy enough with ships. There was arguably an over-focus on Little Ships, and the littlest of them, and some of the dialogue was occasionally questionable. But none of this was major, nor distracting, and it was clear my friend Joshua Levine had done his job well, as historical consultant.

Which begs the question: does historical accuracy matter? Of course, but Dunkirk is a film not a documentary. Many veterans of both world wars felt they could portray more of the truth of their experience through fiction and Dunkirk is all part of that genre. It doesn’t tell us the full story of Operation Dynamo, with every detail and nuance, but what it does do is give us a glimpse of so many angles, often with such intensity that even someone with no knowledge of WW2 could fail to walk away without an appreciation of what the experience at Dunkirk was like, or an appreciation of that generation.

The acting throughout this film was understated, and brilliant because of it. Many of the main characters hardly say a word, and don’t need to much of the time. Mark Rylance brings depth to the Little Ships story and Tom Hardy, as the pilot, captured the spirit of the RAF in 1940 in my opinion. The two lads who tell the story of the British Tommy were my favourites, though. Fair play to Harry Styles; he played his character well, and I liked it when he apologised for not having done anything brave except survive: that was enough, came the reply from the blind man, maybe even a WW1 veteran? But for me the previously unknown Fionn Whitehead was the real star of this film. His sequence at the end in particular, where he reads out of the newspaper, was incredibly moving. Again, I won’t post spoilers!

The World War Two generation is fast slipping from us. I have known them all my life, and I’m already half a century now. What that war meant to Britain, to the British people who lived through it, must never be forgotten, and its incredible story needs to inspire a new generation. That inspiration begins here, with Dunkirk. Not only a worthy film, but a great film, a film we have long needed. (Read more.)

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The Disdain of the Left for the American People

From The American Thinker:
From the left's perspective, the Trump presidency is illegitimate not because it lacked a plurality of votes or because of the supposed Russian connection.  It is illegitimate because it gives voice to those who do not deserve representation.  Hillary Clinton let it slip when she mocked the "basket of deplorables," those whom she accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.  Having at first insisted that "half" of Trump voters fall into these categories, she then retreated from that figure: it was somewhat less than half who are deplorable.

Rarely has a presidential candidate been so candid and so obtuse at the same time, for "deplorable" is exactly what the left thinks of average Americans.  And for that reason, Trump's presidency cannot be allowed to succeed, even if sinking Trump means sinking the country.  The left is willing to savage our economy, trash health care, weaken our national defense, and lose the fight against terrorism just to see that the deplorables are kept in their place.  That is the central motive of the anti-Trump forces.
That sort of disdain for the heartland has a long history stretching back to John Quincy Adams, with his determination not to see Jackson achieve the presidency.  After the Era of Jackson and the Civil War that followed, it continued with the political dominance of the Northeast, the victory of McKinley over William Jennings Bryan, Wilson's expansion of government powers during WWI (including the Sedition Act of 1918), FDR's reversal of Coolidge's small-government policies, Johnson's disastrous anti-poverty programs, and Obama's governance by executive order in defiance of the people's elected representatives.  Ordinary Americans have always had to struggle against the ambitions of a political elite that assumes it has the right to govern in their place. (Read more.)
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