Saturday, November 18, 2017

Planning Thanksgiving

With some help from Victoria:
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, nineteenth-century author and magazine editor, campaigned for more than three decades to have Thanksgiving recognized nationwide. She wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, urging him to secure the “permanency and unity” of its commemoration. When the final Thursday of November was officially declared a time of gratitude for our country’s bounty, its intermittent regional observance was already cultivating a rich culinary tradition. (Read more.)

And here are some favorite dishes:
Although the turkey often gets the most attention during holiday-menu planning, the trimmings can bring just as much harvest flavor to your celebration. Fresh and delicious, these unforgettable sides might just steal the spotlight on your Thanksgiving table. From the hearty Winter Squash-and-Mushroom Medley to warm Brown Butter Rosemary Yeast Rolls, these delectable dishes are certain to have guests asking for more. (Read more.)
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The Brave New World of Trial by Media

The same struggles on either side of the pond. From Conservative Woman:
The truth is, though, that the feminist zealots determined to wage this dialectical male-privilege gender struggle are but a small group of privileged women. They occupy positions of extraordinary power and influence and, under the gaze of the media, pretend to speak for all women.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as the majority of MPs are grossly out of touch with the people on Brexit, these ‘feminist’ MPs and Parliamentary staff are grossly out of touch with the majority of British women, only 7 per cent of whom would describe themselves as feminists. Many of the rest are horrified by the apparently self-serving obsession of some of the privileged women to have found their way to the top of the Parliamentary tree.

The danger now is that those in charge of Parliamentary discipline will capitulate to knee-jerk solutions. Engulfed by the media storm, they feel they have to do something – anything – to signal to the baying, illiberal progressive media that they are not dinosaurs. Under pressure to say that they are ‘taking steps to ensure this will never happen again’, they appear too afraid to tell the truth: that the reaction has been hysterical, out of proportion; that conflating flirtation and behavioural lapses with serious harassment and assault risks trivialising the latter. (Read more.)
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The Old Patagonian Express

From Reid's Reader:
In reading The Old Patagonian Express, it is wise to remember that it was written 40 years ago, and some of the political situations to which it refers have passed away. (For example, Theroux conspicuously avoids visiting Nicaragua, because a civil war was then raging there, and the Argentina he visits was still the Argentina of the junta).

So what are the pleasures of reading (or listening to) this book?

Much is the simple pleasure of decription as the various trains pass through barren deserts, or have Theroux gasping in the thin air as they cross the Andes, or allow him to see the wide reaches of the pampas. Much is the pleasure or surprise of the unexpected spectacular event, such as the football match in El Salvador which turns into a full-scale riot. In terms of human habitation, it is not always a pretty world that Theroux observes. From Mexico to Patagonia, there are many descriptions of urban slums, sprawling squatter camps outside the cities, naked and unwashed children begging and an indifferent (but much smaller) affluent class often living in what amount to gated communities. Nor does Theroux stint on recording the run-down quality of most Latin American trains and their discomfort, or the type of accommodation provided by rat-infested or flea-infested hotels. In short, there is much human squalor in this book. (Read more.)
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Friday, November 17, 2017

"C'est Mon Ami" and "Portrait Charmant"


 Although it is fairly well-known that Marie-Antoinette loved music, studying under both Gluck and the famous Chevalier de Saint-Georges, many people are surprised to learn that she composed her own tunes. This is at odds with the typical image of the Queen as being a thoughtless playgirl. She also wrote poetry and spoke Italian. She was not an intellectual, but she was very bright, contrary to the myths. She composed several songs, the most famous being "C'est mon ami" ("My Friend"). Here are the lyrics of "C'est mon ami" by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian:
"C'est mon ami"

Ah s'il est dans votre village
Un berger sensible et charmant
Qu'on chérisse au premier moment
Qu'on aime ensuite davantage

C'est mon ami
Rendez-le moi
J'ai son amour
Il a ma foi

Si par sa voix douce et plaintive
Il charme l'écho de vos bois
Si les accents de son hautbois
Rendent la bergère pensive

C'est encore lui
Rendez-le-moi
J'ai son amour
Il a ma foi

Si même n'osant rien vous dire
Son seul regard sait attendrir
Si sans jamais faire rougir
Sa gaité fait toujours sourire

C'est encore lui
Rendez-le-moi
J'ai son amour
Il a ma foi

Si passant près de sa chaumière
Le pauvre en voyant son troupeau
Ose demander un agneau
Et qu'il obtienne encore la mère

Oh c'est bien lui
Rendez-le moi
J'ai son amour
Il a ma foi.
Translation :
Ah, if there is in your village, a sensitive and charming shepherd, whom we cherish at the first moment, and whom we later love more, he is my friend, give him back to me, I have his love, he has my faith.

If with his sweet and plaintive voice, he charms your forests' echoes, if the accents of his oboe makes the shepherdess thinking, it's him again...

If even not daring to tell you anything, his look only can move you, if never making you blush, his cheerfulness makes you always smile, it's him again...

If passing by next to his cottage, the poor seeing his flock, dares to ask for a lamb,a nd that he obtains the mother also, Oh yes it's him...

 Marie Antoinette completely composed "Portrait Charmant", music and lyrics, probably in honor of the Princesse de Lamballe. It is an example of the extremely florid and gushing language she used with her close friends and family. This is also typical of her era, and we cannot impose the same meanings to the words as they might have for us today. The song was written when she was barely out of her teens and still missing her family in Austria, most of whom she would never see again.
"Portrait Charmant"

Portait charmant, portait de mon amie
Gage d'amour par l'amour obtenu
Ah viens m'offrir le bien que j'ai perdu
Te voir encore me rappelle à la vie.

Oui les voilà ses traits, ses traits que j'aime
Son doux regard, son maintien, sa candeur
Lorsque ma main te presse sur mon coeur
Je crois encore la presser elle-même

Non tu n'as pas pour moi les mêmes charmes
Muet témoin de nos tendres soupirs
En retraçant nos fugitifs plaisirs
Cruel portrait, tu fais couler mes larmes

Pardonne-moi mon injuste langage
Pardonne aux cris de ma vive douleur
Portait charmant, tu n'es pas le bonheur
Mais bien souvent tu m'en offres l'image.
Translation:
Charming portrait, portait of my friend
Token of love, by love obtained
Ah come and give me back the good I have lost
To see you again brings me back to life

Yes here they are, her features, her features I love
Her sweet looks, her bearing, her ingenuousness
When I press you to my heart
I think I still embrace her herself.

No you don't have to me the same charms
Silent witness of our tender sighs
By recounting our fleeting pleasures
Cruel portrait, you make my tears fall.

Forgive me for my unfair language
Forgive the cries of my bitter woe
Charming portait, you are not happiness
But so often you give me the image of it.

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Our Secular Theodicy

From First Things:
The word “communism” needs to be used now, but it is misleading, and Bloch is partly responsible. Up until the late fifties, he was a supporter of both the Soviet regime and the German Democratic Republic (he fled East Germany for Tübingen in 1961, just as the Berlin Wall was being built). He called the Soviet Union of the 1930s “an achievement about which one can say with all one’s heart, yes, yes, yes,” and his defense of the show trials is obscene. Yet he never joined the Communist Party, and his writings placed him under its constant suspicion and occasional surveillance.

It was the religious dimension of Bloch’s thought that did so. It was apparent from his first book, The Spirit of Utopia, and led to the straining of friendships with Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Louis Althusser, mandarins of what would be known as Western Marxism. Bloch’s use of Marx was selective and unorthodox. When he drew directly from Marx, it was not from the late “scientific” works of political economy like Capital, but from early letters that spoke romantically of humanity’s “dream” for a better life. This was Marx’s translation of Feuerbach’s projection theory of religion. Where the earlier thinker saw the Christian idea of God as the screen onto which we projected our intuition about human fulfillment, Marx cast that projection forward as the end of history. Bloch’s communism, if it should be called that, therefore verges on the mystical. He envisions a “communism of love” as the eschatological completion of our spiritual, not economic, development. (Read more.)
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Teenagers and Anxiety

From The New York Times:
Anxiety is the most common mental-health disorder in the United States, affecting nearly one-third of both adolescents and adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But unlike depression, with which it routinely occurs, anxiety is often seen as a less serious problem. “Anxiety is easy to dismiss or overlook, partially because everyone has it to some degree,” explained Philip Kendall, director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University in Philadelphia. It has an evolutionary purpose, after all; it helps us detect and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Highly anxious people, though, have an overactive fight-or-flight response that perceives threats where there often are none.

But sometimes there are good reasons to feel anxious. For many young people, particularly those raised in abusive families or who live in neighborhoods besieged by poverty or violence, anxiety is a rational reaction to unstable, dangerous circumstances. At the Youth Anxiety Center’s clinic in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, which serves mostly poor and working-class Hispanic youth, teenagers would object to the definition of anxiety I heard often at Mountain Valley: “The overestimation of danger and the underestimation of our ability to cope.” (Read more.)
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Avocado Oil: A Hidden Treasure

From the Trianon Health and Beauty Blog:
I use avocado oil in the Morning Bouquet Facial Treatment for the special protection it gives the skin during the day. I have also begun using it as an astringent and as a make-up remover. I just put a few drops on a damp cotton ball and it wipes away the eye make-up without irritation. Indeed, avocado oil is a soothing way to both end and begin the day. (Read more.)
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Marriage Helps Families Escape Poverty

From Life Site News:
The marriage rate is “sinking” among lower and middle-class American adults; it’s now down to 48%. It has, however, remained stable among the wealthy.  And it’s “the proliferation of single-parent households” that “accounts for virtually all of the increase in child poverty since the early 1970s,” as Stanton quotes Jonathan Rauch.

In the early 1990s, sociologist Bill Galston said that to stay out, or climb out, of poverty, Americans needed to do only three things: graduate from high school, marry before having a child, and have that first child after the age of 20. Only 8% of Americans who follow these rules will be poor, Galston claimed, whereas 79% who fail in all three respects will certainly live in poverty.

This “success sequence”--high school, marriage, and only then baby carriage--still holds true today, and “working-class” women are three times more likely to have babies out of wedlock than wealthy women. Poor women are five times more likely than wealth women to have babies outside marriage. Both poor and working class women are twice as likely to be cohabiting than their richer sisters.

Marriage has a “extraordinary economic power,” Stanton wrote. “It boosts every important measure of well-being for women, children and men.” That includes income, health, savings, employment, educational success, happiness, recovery from serious illness--even a healthy diet.

“Marriage is an essential active ingredient in improving one’s overall life prospects, regardless of class race, or educational status,” Stanton observed. Astonishing as it may seem, the poverty rate for children living with two unmarried, cohabiting parents is similar to that of single-mother led households. Even so-called “shotgun” marriages, contracted when the bride was pregnant, help keep women and children out of poverty.

But doubters have asked if this is putting the cart before the horse. Does marriage really generate wealth, or does wealth generate marriage?

“That’s the criticism some scholars have had--the liberal scholars,” Stanton told LifeSiteNews. “But marriage itself is a wealth creating institution. That’s what the research is finding.”

Marriage creates wealth because marriage encourages men to become better, more committed workers, providers and savers. Married men are less likely to fall into substance abuse, they are less likely either to commit or fall victim to crime, they have better health and they’re even less accident-prone. “A married man is a far different kind of man than the single or cohabiting man,” Stanton told Lifesitenews. (Read more.)
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