Archive for November, 2012
30 Nov 2012

The Country’s In the Very Best of Hands

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Try getting university recognition, support, and the use of university facilities for your newly founded alternative conservative newspaper, a film society, or a polo team, and see how far you get. But ask Harvard to recognize a BDSM & kinky sex club, and Harvard’s Committee on Student Life is on board, Man.

As the Crimson reports, things will be better for those a little bit different at Harvard now.

“If you come to campus and you have the sexual interests we represent, you may not even suspect that such a group exists,” Michael said.

Munch is also now allowed to apply for DAPA food grants, making it easier to find a convenient time and location to meet, instead of gathering in small dining halls.

But for Michael, the biggest advantage to being recognized comes with “the fact of legitimacy,” he said. “[Our recognition] shows we are being taken seriously.”


Britain’s Daily Mail described the club’s founding and membership.

The group, which goes by ‘Harvard College Munch,’ first began its meetings in one of the university’s dining halls to discuss personal stories and broader issues related to BDSM and other forms of ‘kinky sex’. …

Munch’s membership has grown to about 30 members from seven when it began more than a year ago and is one of 15 student organization that will be approved by Harvard’s Committee on Student Life this Friday.

None of the group’s members quoted by the media have been willing to give their full names.

One group member, who goes by ‘Marie,’ told the New York Observer that she enjoys ‘Bondage, handcuffs and ice play.”

‘I’ve been hit with a riding crop, a belt, a paddle, canes, a flogger,’ she said, ‘Floggers are my favorite.’

30 Nov 2012

On, Dasher!

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30 Nov 2012

Blessing of Hounds and St. Hubert Mass For Brittany Boar Hunt

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The hunt is the Vautrait Piqu’Avant Bretagne, founded 2009, which hunts the wild boar in the forests of Brittany with a pack comprised of 35 couple of Anglo-French tricolor and black-and-tan foxhounds. The Hubert Mass and hounds blessing was conducted at the 13th century Gothic Basilica of Notre-Dame de La Guerche-de-Bretagne.

The French wear considerably more elaborate hunt uniforms than we do, and they accompany their hunting activities with the most splendid horn fanfares.

The ceremonies recorded in the videos took place November 10. St. Hubert‘s feast day is November 3rd. The ceremonies were probably the preliminaries to the hunt’s formal opening meet.

Saint Hubert du Vautrait Piqu' Avant Bretagne 10… by dm_50a761ee26328

bénédiction de la meute au rendez vous – La… by dm_50a761ee26328

Saint Hubert du Vautrait Piqu' Avant Bretagne en… by dm_50a761ee26328

29 Nov 2012

The November Insurrection

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Wojciech Kossak (1857-1942), Noc listopadowa [A November Night]. 1898, oil on canvas, Private Collection.

The succession in 1825 to the throne of the Congress Kingdom of Poland of the autocratic Nicholas I, who made clear his contempt for constitutional government, led inevitably to revolt. The reactionary order imposed by the Congress of Vienna was tested all over Europe in 1830. Greek independence was recognized by Britain. In July, the Bourbon monarchy fell in France. In August, the House of Orange was expelled, and Belgium declared its independence. Fear that the Tsar might use the Polish Army to suppress the revolutions in France and Belgium led to revolution in Poland. Wojciech Kossak, in two famous paintings (the other), illustrated Polish cadets and Warsaw civilians in combat with Russian cuirrasseurs in the attack on the Belvedere Palace, the Polish equivalent of the White House, then the residence of Grand Duke Constantine, the Russian Governor General. The statue of King Jan Sobieski appears to be leading the Polish assault. This was the opening battle of the November Insurrection of 1830-1831.

29 Nov 2012

Most and Least Emotional Countries

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The Washington Post has a colored-coded map of the world’s least and most emotional countries.

I’m an American (rated one of the most emotionally hysterical countries), but I’m of Lithuanian descent and Lithuania is (correctly) rated one of the world’s most stoical and phlegmatic countries.

I have a few problems with this map, however.

Shouldn’t England be pretty much the same (unemotional) color as Lithuania? It makes sense for Poland to be rated a bit more colorfully volatile than Lithuania, but so should Latvia. I would think that Russia ought to be rated as dangerously emotional, prone to Dotoyevskian fits of violence, despair, and afflicted with a yearning for governmental brutality and oppression. Belarus, on the other hand, traditionally has exhibited a bovine, peasant obliviousness which ought to win it a rating as even less emotional than Lithuania. Its emotional rating ought to resemble the moon’s.

The results are full of anomalies. Is Mexico really less passionate and demonstrative than the United States? Is Japan really as calm as Switzerland? Don’t these people watch any samurai movies?

On the whole, I think getting Lithuania basically right was merely a fluke. Otherwise, this map is mostly open to question.

28 Nov 2012

Counterfactual Second Civil War


Jon Davis and contributors to Quora, in Salon, have come up with a seriously defective speculative history of the Second American Civil War.

How and why all 50 states suddenly wound up separate and independent is not explained here.

I would say the assumption that every state would operate independently and most states would not immediately re-ally, even re-unify, is dubious.

But where all this really gets silly is the naive assumption that the largest population, big city states are natural winners at aggression.

Here are the states that held the greatest strategic value from day one. They have the ability to be self-sufficient, economic strength, military strength, the will to fight, and the population to support a powerful war machine.

New York

Others that have many of the qualities that gave them an advantage are also listed.


Fat chance of New York mysteriously achieved a never-explained annexation of Pennsylvania to its empire. The Keystone state has a larger rural and small town population than New York and it fields 750,000 deer hunters annually, the 4th largest army in the world.

In the event of a breakdown of order, Upstate New York would probably join Pennsylvania and/or Vermont, and it would be the farmers and deerhunters with the guns calling the shots, not the communicators and arbiters of elegance in the urban metropolis. The rural people would probably just let New York City starve and sink into cannibalism as the primitive residents of the welfare projects wind up viewing the haute bourgeoisie as desirable dinner entrees.

It would be the same story, only even funnier, on the left coast. California’s strike force, consisting of Code Pink and the newly-formed Burning Man Brigade would never even make the Sierras, the SF and LA armies being stopped in their tracks by a handful of Central Valley farmers armed with shotguns, who’d tell them to Scat!

It would be heavily armed and very-different-philosophical states like Wyoming that you’d need to worry about.

Texas, of course, would be in great shape, but it is far from clear that Texas would actually want California or New York.

Virginia, too, has a strong military tradition, and the Old Dominion could undoubtedly defend itself, but I certainly do not see Virginia setting up in business to re-erect the current federal monstrosity, particularly against the will of fraternal states.

I’d rate the simulation a failure. It operated on faulty assumptions from the beginning.

28 Nov 2012

The California Way

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Cormorants in La Jolla Cove

Non-interference with sacred and beautiful wild creatures (Just look at those beautiful cormorants!) is obviously a higher value to all Californians than mere human convenience.

UT San Diego

The saga now playing out in La Jolla Cove is the epitome of regulatory stupidity. In a rocky area by the cove once open to people but now fenced off for safety reasons, the feces of cormorants and seagulls just keeps piling up, generating a stench that can carry as far as a mile. Dry conditions, a hot summer and other factors have made this a gross everyday problem for the cove area, not an occasional annoyance.

So why can’t city work crews simply take care of the problem? Why can’t biodegradable cleaning products be used to make the stench disappear, as suggested by San Diego Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who represents the area? Why can’t any reason or common sense come to the fore?

Because of complex environmental rules stemming from the cove’s designation as a state-protected “Area of Special Biological Significance.” Officials say it could take two years to get various state agencies to OK cleaning procedures.

28 Nov 2012

Who’d Win If Game of Thrones Characters Took on Characters from The Lord of the Rings?

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George R. R. Martin discusses.

28 Nov 2012

Virginia’s Northern Neck

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The New York Times visits the region many would contend is actually the best portion of Virginia. People describe it in whispers, using phrases of approval like “preserved in amber.”

Sleepy and rural, gently undulating, known variously as “the garden of Virginia” and “the Athens of the New World,” the Northern Neck is a 61-mile peninsula bracketed by the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

Originally settled by members of eight Algonquian tribes, it was scouted in the early 17th century by Capt. John Smith, the English explorer, and eventually settled by planters whose impressive wealth derived mainly from stoking a global demand for a modish new stimulant: tobacco.

The British historian Arnold J. Toynbee once wrote that never was there a crop of genius such as was produced here in the colonial era. For the production of genius, it seems, Northern Neck soil was especially rich.

George Washington was born here near a bend of pretty Popes Creek, and so in other nearby towns were James Madison and James Monroe. Among other early colonists who got their start in life on the Northern Neck were the brothers Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, both signatories of the Declaration of Independence, and their descendant, the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The Lees’ ancestral great house — an imposing H-shaped structure noted for its elegantly laid brickwork facade, high chimneys and a cube-shaped great room acknowledged as among the handsomest chambers in the United States — was built on a rise commanding a broad and strategic view of the Potomac, and was just a short walk along a farm road from my cabin in the woods.

There are many such houses here, salted away on the Neck, and seemingly forgotten by all but their caretakers or inhabitants. There are scruffy graveyards scattered with the tumbledown headstones of neglected worthies. There are remnants of terraced boxwood parterres and early brick orangeries. There are poplar groves surrounding historic temperance camps and churches of such refined severity that architects from around the world come to study them. There are wineries, too, because the Northern Neck is a developing winemaking region, but these I never saw because day drinking is something a writer on his own is well advised to avoid.

Despite or perhaps because of its historic import, the Neck is largely untrammeled, its monuments scarcely visited, the rural two-lane Historyland Highway bisecting it empty of traffic as often as not.

Why so few visitors make their way to places like Stratford Hall, in my eyes one of the architectural wonders of the nation, is a source of bafflement. Maybe it is because we are becoming, as David McCullough said, a nation of historical illiterates. Or perhaps it is because, as locals improbably assert, the Northern Neck is so hard to reach, although the peninsula lies no more than two hours by major Interstate from the capital of the nation and an hour and change from Richmond, the capital of the state.

Read the whole thing.

There can be no doubt of its historical significance. The Northern Neck is the real birthplace of the Virginia aristocracy, and by extension the fons et origo of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the American Republic.

It is today an isolated and neglected backwater filled with history and bathed in the marine light that falls only on special places intimately connected to the sea.

Some of Karen’s photos of Stratford Hall are here and here.

28 Nov 2012



Black conservative Walter Williams delivers a spirited defense of secession.

Since Barack Obama’s re-election, hundreds of thousands of petitions for secession have reached the White House. Some people have argued that secession is unconstitutional, but there’s absolutely nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it. What stops secession is the prospect of brute force by a mighty federal government, as witnessed by the costly War of 1861. Let’s look at the secession issue. …

The ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said that they held the right to resume powers delegated, should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution would have never been ratified if states thought that they could not maintain their sovereignty.

The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech, “It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense.” Lincoln said that the soldiers sacrificed their lives “to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth.” Mencken says: “It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves.”

Read the whole thing.

My liberal friends always attribute opposition to Barack Obama to racism. I’d have no problem with having a black president if that president was Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams.

27 Nov 2012

“Girls” For Obama

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Betsey Woodruff, in National Review, identifies Lena Dunham’s HBO comedy Girls as a cultural canary-in-the-coal-mine which, if observed carefully, could have told you where the recent presidential election was heading.

At its core, Girls feels like a deliberate, dissective examination of a group of people who stubbornly refuse to grow up and are lucky enough to be able to pull it off. The main thing Dunham’s characters share is the idea that just because they exist, somebody else should give them stuff. In and of itself, depicting that isn’t at all a bad thing. Girls is an interesting project, it’s well executed, and it can be really, really funny. Look, I like Girls, and I’m excited about the second season.

But Dunham’s stupid little YouTube ad for the president might have ruined it all for me. That’s because she sounds like she’s channeling her character, Invasion of the Body Snatchers–style. They share the same baffling, naïvely egomaniacal understanding of justice — they both seem to think that because they exist, the universe needs to make sure that all the sex they choose to have is consequence-free.

You can almost argue that Lena Dunham sees President Obama as the perfect surrogate for everything missing in her characters’ lives: He’s their gentle lover, supportive parent, and empathetic friend. He’s special. He won’t let them down. He’s Prince Charming. And that kind of defeats the purpose of feminism.

You’d think the feminist elevation of agency would result in women who take pride in being responsible for their own bodies. You’d hope that telling women that they can do whatever they want would imply that they’re responsible for what they do. You’d think serious feminists would argue that true empowerment is something you lay claim to, not something the federal government dispenses in all its benevolence. But for Dunham, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

In fact, for all practical purposes, the patriarchy no longer decides whom American women can sleep with and when. That’s great. But if you don’t want men in Washington telling you how to use your sexuality, you shouldn’t expect them to subsidize it. But Dunham seems to actually believe they should. Dunham makes tons of money, and I’m quite confident she can afford to pay for her own birth control. But she doesn’t seem to take pride in that; it’s not what her characters aspire to, and given her foray into the delightful world of presidential-election ads, it doesn’t seem to be something she aspires to, either.

Second-wave feminists lionized the independent woman who paid her own rent and busted through glass ceilings and ran for Congress. Being totally self-sufficient was the goal. The idea was that women didn’t need men, whether those men were their fathers or husbands or boyfriends or presidents. By contrast, Dunham’s new vision of women as lady parts with ballots is infantilizing and regressive.

So Girls isn’t the eschaton, and neither is one vapid YouTube video. But if Dunham’s show were a metaphorical canary in a metaphorical coal mine, it would be struggling pretty hard right now. There’s a reason it’s called Girls, not Women.

27 Nov 2012

Sts. Cyril and Methodius to Have Halos and Crosses Restored

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The religious-symbol-neutered version previously scheduled for production.

Original story

After strong objections by the Catholic Church which were taken up in the national parliament of Slovakia by the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) and some representatives of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) caucus to the elimination of halos from the heads of Sts. Cyril and Methodius and the removal of the image of the cross from the saints’ vestments, the Board of Directors of the National Bank of Slovakia has announced that the halos and crosses will be restored on the 2-Euro coins scheduled to be released in 2013 to commemorate the 1150th Anniversary of the Mission of Cyril and Methodius to the Slavs.

Slovak Spectator reported, however, that restoring those halos might preclude the Slovakian €2 coin being released throughout the European Union.

The NBS [National Bank of Slovakia, country’s central bank – ed. note] Bank Council approved the original proposal of the design, even though it realises that the new approval process may lead to frustrating the original goal of releasing the commemorative coin throughout the 17-nation eurozone,” said spokesperson for the bank Petra Pauerová, as quoted by TASR.

The European Commission earlier stated that the commemorative coin cannot contain crosses and halos in order to observe the principle of religious neutrality in the European Union. Later it was revealed that it was not the EC as such, but certain eurozone members that objected to releasing the coin with religious symbols.


The same paper separately identified the countries who had a problem with Christian saints being depicted with such particularist Christian symbols as halos and crosses/

It was certain eurozone member states that expressed disagreement with the original artistic proposal for a Slovak commemorative coin depicting Saints Cyril and Methodius with crosses and halos set to be released in 2013, Andrej Králik from the Representation of the EU Commission in Slovakia said on Thursday, November 22.

The commission subsequently asked Slovakia to submit a modified proposal, which was later approved by the EU Council, Králik told the TASR newswire. He rejected statements by certain Slovak politicians who said that the case involved a ‘dictate of Brussels’ and ‘high-handedness of officials from the EU Commission’, describing these assertions as untrue and deceptive.

The commission stated that the removal of the religious symbols was due to the need to observe religious neutrality, as set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. German MEP Martin Kastler earlier on Thursday revealed that the countries that had raised objections to the original Slovak proposal were France and Greece

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