Archive for August, 2014
27 Aug 2014

Father Jean-Marie Charles-Roux

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The Telegraph memorialized recently a colorful priest remarkable for the soundness of both his political and ecclesiastical views.

Father Jean-Marie Charles-Roux, who has died [August 7th] aged 99, brought the mystical aura of French royalism to London as a Roman Catholic priest of the Rosminian order; he was devoted to the divine nature of monarchy and the Tridentine liturgy.

Tall, elegant, and with a theatrically silky voice, Charles-Roux wore buckled shoes and medallions commemorating martyred sovereigns, and used an eyeglass to read a newspaper during more than 40 years at the medieval church of St Etheldreda at Ely Place, off Holborn. There he celebrated the Latin Mass every morning with his back to the congregation. Sought after as a confessor, he preached lively and eloquent sermons, flattering and shocking his listeners in equal measure.

He would emphasise the Christian duty to the poor while maintaining that the parable of the talents proved that capitalism was not only acceptable but also a moral imperative. He made clear his abhorrence of the Allied bombing of Dresden by celebrating Mass for its victims. And once, comparing the transformation of the soul to cooking, he described how it was more likely to be successful in black saucepans (meaning priests) than in grander copper ones (casting a glance at Cardinal Hume sitting nearby).

In conversation with even the humblest, Charles-Roux assumed a shared familiarity with the families of the Anjou claimant to the French throne, the King of Spain and members of other European royal families; and he championed the canonisation of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots and even Charles I of England who, he maintained, should be acknowledged as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

As communism tottered in Eastern Europe in 1989, the ambassadors of Poland and Hungary (possibly hedging their bets) were to be seen on their knees at a memorial service for the Empress Zita of Austria while Charles-Roux led them in prayers for the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire.

Jean-Marie Charles-Roux was born in Marseille into a French diplomatic family on December 12 1914. His first memories were of Rome, where his father was a member of the French embassy to the King of Italy.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Rafal Heydel-Mankoo.


Damian Thompson, the Spectator’s religious editor:

For many years he was based at the Rosminian church of St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place, where he celebrated only the Tridentine Rite.

‘When the New Mass came in I tried it in English, French, Italian, even in Latin – but it was like a children’s game,’ he told me. ‘So I wrote to Pope Paul, whom I had known when he was Cardinal Montini, and said, Holy Father, either you let me celebrate the Old Mass or I leave the priesthood and marry the first pretty girl I meet.’

27 Aug 2014

John Malkovich Makes a Good Vampire in French Commercial

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

27 Aug 2014

Isao Machii Selling Toaster Struedels

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Isao Machii is so skilled with the Japanese sword that he can draw his blade and cut a BB fired at him in two.

Even Iaido Masters evidently have to live, unfortunately and so we find the same man cutting up thrown fruit and starring in an inane commercial for Pillsbury. Sploid

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

27 Aug 2014

Weird Al’s Homage to Game of Thrones at the Emmys

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

26 Aug 2014

Dunkirk, 1940

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Daniel Hannan, Conservative MP, in the Telegraph.

My favourite World War II story is of the Highlander who, observing the rout on the beaches of Dunkirk, tells his sergeant: ‘If the English give in, too, this could be a long war.’

26 Aug 2014

Jean Redpath, 28 April 1937 – 21 August 2014

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The Times reports that the renowned Scottish folksinger Jean Redpath succumbed to cancer recently in a hospice in Arizona at age 77.

Redpath, in the course of her career, released forty albums. She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, and her portrait hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Three Scottish songs with comical texts from an album of Scottish song released in 1962. The first one is the best.

26 Aug 2014

Dog’s Head Drinking Horn (Rhyton)

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Rhyton in the shape of a dog’s head, made by Brygos and thought to have been painted by the Brygos Painter, early 5th century BC, Departmental Museum of archaeology Gilort (Jérôme) Carcopino, Aleria, Corsica.

26 Aug 2014

Man Bites Snake

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Blue krait, aka Common krait aka Indian krait (Bungarus caeruleus)

The Telegraph has a story of the tables being recently turned.

A man in central India killed a venomous snake by biting it after he saw the blue krait slithering towards him in bed.
Rai Singh, from Chhattisgarh, told a local television channel he feared the venomous blue krait was about to bite him and decided to bite the creature.

“At nine o’clock in the evening while I went to sleep on my bed, I saw a snake and tried to shoo it away with a stick but it attacked me. I bit it”, he told a local television channel.

His neighbour R.S Singh described the incident as “astonishing” and said it was a “miracle that he survived since this snake is highly venomous”.

Kraits are one of the four poisonous snakes which account for the most attacks in India where 50,000 people are killed by venomous bites every year.

The krait is nocturnal and often wriggles into homes at night during the monsoon season to keep dry. Its bites rarely cause pain and often go unnoticed by their victims as they sleep.

They are, however, highly venomous and up to 80 per cent of their victims die after suffering progressive paralysis.

Read the whole thing.

26 Aug 2014

British Embassy Commemorates the Burning of the White House on Twitter

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The British Embassy in Washington commemorated the recent 200th Anniversary of the Burning of Washington by tweeting a photo of a cake in the form of the White House with the witty message:

Commemorating the 200th anniversary of burning the White House. Only sparklers this time!

Some Americans were appropriately amused, like Joanna Tompkins who awarded a: hat tip for the sheer ballsiness of this post!

But there are sufficient numbers of the pious and easily-offended out there that, before very long, the Brits were issuing an apology. At least, they did not remove the original tweet, though.

25 Aug 2014

Chinese Chef Dies From Cobra Bite, Bite Occurring Twenty Minutes After Head Was Cut Off

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IBT (australia):

An already decapitated cobra head was still able to bite a chef twenty minutes after the head was cut off from the snake’s body. The chef died immediately before being given an anti-venom medication.

In preparing for a specialty menu, known as the Snake Soup, chef Peng Fan severed the cobra’s head, left it aside while he diced its body.

Twenty-minutes after his preparation, he picked the cobra’s decapitated head and plans to throw it in the garbage can. This was when the head bit him, and injected its poisonous venom into the chef’s body.

The incident took place in a high-end restaurant in Guangdong province, southern China.

Restaurant guests said that they heard commotion from the kitchen. The staff at the restaurant then called for a doctor but the chef was already dead when the medical assistance arrived.

Probably Naja siamensis

Hat tip to James Harberson.

25 Aug 2014

Yesterday, 200 Years Ago

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Two hundred years ago, Admiral Cochrane with 4500 troops defeated a mixed American force of militia and naval personnel at Bladensburg, Maryland, then captured and occupied Washington, D.C. On August 24, the British burned the President’s Residence, the Capitol, and the Library of Congress. The British, however, refrained from burning the Marine barracks and the Marine Corps Commandant’s House, as a compliment to Captain Samuel Miller and the 116 Marines who had brought two 18-pounder guns and three 12-pounder guns from the Washington Navy Yard, and placing them astride the Washington turnpike, defied British frontal assaults, until out of ammunition and under attack from the flank, the Marines made an orderly withdrawal functioning as a rear guard and preventing the British from overtaking the routed American militia.


Marines at Bladensburg

25 Aug 2014

New York City, 1900


Uncredited Photographer, Central Park, New York City, c.1900.

Via Ratak Monodosico.

24 Aug 2014

“The General”

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I was reading recently a book describing the contemporary practices and ethos of the Marine Corps, and found reference to a publishing house (Nautical & Aviation Publishing Co.) offering a product line, principally composed of well-selected reprints, aimed at a professional military readership.

One title, mentioned as a popular favorite almost rang a bell: C.S. Forester’s (non-Hornblower novel) The General.

I could almost swear that I had read it long ago, but the book I remembered had not inspired any particular attachment or respect, and this title was extravagantly praised. I got hold of a copy and could hardly put it down. Its wry and affectionate portrait of the fictional General Sir Herbert Curzon K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O. was meat and drink to my reactionary and Anglophilic imagination.

Curzon, known to his family and subordinates as “Bertie,” is a classic British Blimp.

The picture of Curzon in the years immediately before the war seems to verge closely on the conventional caricature of the army major, peppery, red-faced, liable under provocation to gobble like a turkey-cock, hidebound in his ideas and conventional in his way of thought, and it is no more exact than any caricature. It ignores all the good qualities which were present at the same time. He was the soul of honour; he could be guilty of no meannesses, even boggling at those which convention permits. He would give his life for the ideals he stood for, and would be happy if the opportunity presented itself. His patriotism was a real and living force, even if its symbols were childish. His courage was unflinching. The necessity of assuming responsibility troubled him no more than the necessity of breathing. He could administer the regulations of his service with an impartiality and a practiced leniency admirably suited to the class of man for whom those regulations were drawn up. He shirked no duty, no matter how tedious or inconvenient; it did not occur to him to try to do so. He would never allow the instinctive deference which he felt toward great names and old lineage to influence him in anything which he conceived to be his duty. The man with a claim on his friendship could make any demand upon his generosity. And while the breath was in his body he would not falter in the face of difficulties.

Bertie blunders accidentally as a subaltern, while commanding a squadron of cavalry during the Boer War, into a superb position on the enemy’s flank where he is able to deliver a quick charge, gaining Britain a notable victory and winning himself the D.S.O.

When WWI eventually breaks out, Bertie’s previous status as a hero, along with his unrelenting dedication and unflinching courage propel him rapidly upwards in rank. He immediately receives command of his regiment. In the First Battle of Ypres, his commanding general is killed and Bertie inherits command of the brigade.

He continues through the war as a model soldier of the old school, perfectly courageous and reliable, free from selfishness or nerves, entirely a sound man, the soul of duty and loyalty, faithful to tradition, suspicious of novelty, theory, or demonstration or display of any kind.

His military faith is in punctilious planning, perfect execution of classic tactics, and the application of overwhelming force.

He spoke vehemently against the effect on the troops of life in the trenches, and this system of petty ambuscades and sniping and dirt and idleness. And, with his experience of improvised attacks and defence to help him, he was able to say how advantageous it must be to be allowed ample time to mount and prepare a careful attack in which nothing could go wrong and overwhelming force could be brought to bear upon the decisive point. Curzon checked himself at last when he suddenly realized how fluently he was talking. It was un-English and lawyerlike to be eloquent.

Of course, the result of all that planning is the Somme.

Forester then plays tricks on his reader, deliberately undermining his hero by making him suddenly begin to behave meanly and out of character.

Bertie ignores his humble aunt’s request to transfer her son to a non-combat position out of snobbery, and displays actual jealousy of the new-fangled tank arms’ success at Cambrai.

Forester is, of course, arranging Bertie’s downfall and destruction. Now a lieutenant general and commander of a corps, Bertie returns to France to find his sector of the line at the very center of a major German offensive in overwhelming strength. As the Germans begin to achieve a breakthrough, Bertie is obliged to send his former divisional command as a sacrifice into the middle of the breach. Bertie then sends for his horse, buckles his sword onto his Sam Browne belt, and rides toward the enemy, gathering up retreating soldiers as he goes.

Bertie must be made to pay for his fidelity to the tactical approach of General Grant, so at the next crossroads, Forester has him cut down by German artillery, his horse slain, one leg blown off.

General Curzon (out of character, it seems to me) then becomes an invalid in a bathchair, incapable of adapting to an artificial leg, rolled about the promenade in Bournemouth by Lady Emily, his tall and raw-boned wife. Sic transit…

I thought the book was fine, until the author turns upon his character. Still, I suppose Forester is entitled to make the argument that inutile destruction and enormous waste of life of WWI had some specific connection to the virtues (and limitations) of the old school British military. They ought not, it is possible to contend, have been so suspicious of intellectuality and theory. Like the Hun, they should have studied war and built an intellectual General Staff. (But, of course, intellectualism and General Staff and all that, the Hun still managed to lose two wars.)

23 Aug 2014

“Mustn’t Say That About ISIS!”

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Michael J. Boyle, an assistant professor of Political Science at LaSalle, in the New York Times, wags his finger, and sermonizes against describing beheadings and mass murder as “immoral” because that might lead to US actions which could trouble his conscience.

Boyle provides a perfect example of the kind of liberal double-think which insists that murderous foreign barbarians are always entitled to complete immunity from morality, the Geneva Convention and other international law, and the rules and customs of war, but any American responses must always be subjected to microscopic ethical analysis and found to be free from any and all contamination by self-interest, world-wide disapproval, collateral damage, or potential untoward consequences of any kind before they can be regarded as licit and be supported by the pure of heart. The enemy is always immune to judgement, but the United States is always in the position of Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinner in the hands of an angry God.”

The beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has rightly provoked global condemnation of the insurgent group and its horrific tactics. Yet it has also led to a disturbing return of the moralistic language once used to describe Al Qaeda in the panicked days after the 9/11 attacks.

In an eerie echo of President George W. Bush’s description of the global war on terrorism as a campaign against “evildoers,” President Obama described ISIS as a “cancer” spreading across the Middle East that had “no place in the 21st century.” Secretary of State John Kerry condemned ISIS as the face of a “savage” and “valueless evil,” while Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, called the group “barbaric.”

There is no question that ISIS has committed thousands of grave human rights violations against civilians in Iraq and Syria, and that many of its most gruesome acts, like the execution of Mr. Foley, constitute war crimes. Anyone with a conscience is disgusted by their brutality toward not just Mr. Foley but the thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians whom they have killed, raped and even buried alive.

It is natural to want to condemn this organization and to do so in harsh language that fully expresses our revulsion over its tactics. Indeed, condemning the black-clad, masked militants as purely “evil” is seductive, for it conveys a moral clarity and separates ourselves and our tactics from the enemy and theirs.

But if the “war on terror” has taught us anything, it is that such moralistic language can blind its users to consequences. Describing a group as “inexplicable” and “nihilistic,” as Mr. Kerry did, tends to obscure the group’s strategic aims and preclude further analysis. …

he Obama administration should be very careful about lapsing into language about “destroying” the cancer of ISIS without thinking through, and articulating publicly, exactly what that would mean. The strategic drift produced by this moralistic language is already noticeable, as an air campaign first designed to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe has morphed into an effort to roll back, or even defeat, ISIS.

The Obama administration needs to ensure that the just revulsion over Mr. Foley’s murder and ISIS’ other abuses does not lead us down an unplanned path toward open-ended conflict. The language of good and evil may provide a comforting sense of moral clarity, but it rarely, if ever, produces good policy.

Read the whole blithering thing.

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