Saturday, March 17, 2018

Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf

Battle of Clontarf, 1014
Brian Boru
 From Live Science:
The famous Irish king, Brian Boru, is widely credited with defeating the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf more than 1,000 years ago. But not everyone heaps praise on the king. For the past 300 years, historians have cast doubt on whether Boru's main enemies were the Vikings, or his own countrymen. Perhaps, say these so-called revisionists, the Battle of Clontarf was actually a domestic feud — that is, a civil war — between different parts of Ireland.

To settle the matter, researchers analyzed a medieval text used by both traditionalists and revisionists to bolster their arguments. The results are a boon for Boru: The hostilities revealed in the text largely indicate that the Irish fought in an international war against the Vikings, although Irish-on-Irish conflict is also described in the manuscripts, according to the new study, published online today (Jan. 24) in the journal Royal Society Open Science. [Fierce Fighters: 7 Secrets of Viking Culture]

The medieval Irish text, known as Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh ("The War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill"), describes how an army led by Boru challenged the Viking invaders, culminating in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. The Vikings weren't new to Ireland. Viking raids against the Emerald Isle began in A.D. 795. In the decades that followed, the Vikings took over Dublin and built camps that evolved into the settlements of Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford, said study lead author Ralph Kenna, a professor of theoretical physics at Coventry University, in the United Kingdom. But Boru wanted a unified Ireland, and the Vikings and various regional kingdoms stood in his way. Boru achieved his goal of unification in 1011, but merely a year later, the province of Leinster and Viking-controlled Dublin rose against him, leading to the Battle of Clontarf. (Boru's army defeated Leinster and the Vikings, but victory came at price for Boru, as he was killed at Clontarf.) (Read more.)
Brian Boru rallies the Irish

We're All Fascists Now

It goes without saying that I completely disagree with characterizing Trump as a fascist. From The New York Times:
Why are so many demonstrably non-fascist people being accused of fascism? 


Partly, as the writer David French and others have pointed out, this ritual we keep witnessing of an in-group wielding its power against a perceived heretic seems to come from a deep human desire for a sense of belonging and purpose. Organized religion may be anathema on the political left, but the need for the things religion provides — moral fervor, meaning, a sense of community — are not. Partly, too, it is the result of a lack of political proportion and priority....

But it is also a concerted attempt to significantly redraw the bounds of acceptable thought and speech. By tossing people like Mary Beard and Christina Hoff Sommers into the slop bucket with the likes of Richard Spencer, they are attempting to place their reasonable ideas firmly outside the mainstream. They are trying to make criticism of identity politics, radical Islam and third-wave feminism, among various other subjects, verboten. For even the most minor transgressions, as in the case of Professor Beard, people are turned radioactive.

There are consequences to all this “fascism” — and not just the reputational damage to those who are smeared, though there is surely that. The main effect is that these endless accusations of “fascism” or “misogyny” or “alt-right” dull the effects of the words themselves. As they are stripped of meaning, they strip us of our sharpness — of our ability to react forcefully to real fascists and misogynists or members of the alt-right. (Read more.)

Ireland’s Rise in Demonic Activity

The exorcists have been busy. No, it's not a joke. From Patti Armstrong:
One sign is the growing pro-abortion mood in Ireland. This May, the traditionally pro-life country, will have a referendum for the repeal of the Irish Constitution’s Eight Amendment which recognizes unborn babies as human beings. Ireland’s prime minister has declared he will campaign to have it repealed. The devil makes war on God’s creation through the wombs of mothers by influencing people to push for abortion.

The devil is both hidden and influencing people and harassing some of them. In The Irish Catholic, Fr. Pat Collins, a renowned exorcist, said that in recent years, demonic activity has risen exponentially. He has called on Church leaders to appoint a team of exorcists to cope with what he sees as a rising tide of evil in the country.

Father Collins reported that he is “inundated almost daily with desperate people seeking his help to deal with what they believe to be demonic possession and other evil goings on.” People are claiming to have ghostly encounters, being pulled from their beds, and even full-blown possession. (Read more.)

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Well-Preserved Roman Villa

From The Daily Mail:
Sprawling ruins of the 2,000-year-old luxury villa of a Roman military commander have been unearthed during work to expand the Italian capital's subway system. Archaeologists working on Rome's Metro C line uncovered the second century AD residence, or domus, adjoining a military barracks excavated in 2016. The richly decorated dwelling is complete with a well-preserved geometric design mosaic, marble floors and frescoed walls. Government official Francesco Prosperetti, special superintendent for the Colosseum, the National Roman Museum and the archaeological area of ​​Rome, described the find as an 'astounding archaeological construction site.' (Read more.)


More on Gun Control

From The National Review:
The CNN town hall might in other circumstances have been easy to write off as an outlier, a result of the still-raw grief and pain left in the wake of the Parkland shooting. But it was no less vitriolic than the “discourse” online, where progressives who hadn’t lost anyone in the attack were using many of the same words as the angry crowd that confronted Rubio and Loesch. The NRA has blood on its hands, they said. It’s a terrorist organization. Gun-rights supporters — especially those who oppose an assault-weapons ban — are lunatics at best, evil at worst. This progressive rage isn’t fake. It comes from a place of fierce conviction and sincere belief. (Read more.)
UPDATE: An insightful article from The Times Free Press:
However, emotional reactions to despicable and sad events such as school shootings are not solutions. They are Band-Aids. Politicians and community leaders are afraid to address real problems: the breakdown of the nuclear family (especially in minority communities) in which two parents assume responsibility for the discipline, character and moral development of their children; churches, many of which abdicate teaching God's word in favor of a milquetoast gospel that sounds appealing but leads to a spiritual wasteland; the government, which abandoned meaningful care for the mentally ill, the most unfortunate among us; and, all adults who turn a blind eye when our youth display bad manners, immoral behavior and a lack of respect and civility. (Read more.)

The Bizarre Case Of Sarah Winchester

From Spirit Daily:
You have perhaps heard of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester gun fortune and a woman who built what was at one time the biggest house in the United States, this in the San Jose area. There’s currently a major movie about it. We’re talking here of about 161 rooms. It’s thought through the years she actually had workmen construct — and periodically tear down — on the order of four to six hundred rooms, which she built to house angry spirits of the deceased: those who, she was told (by a medium), had been killed by the guns her husband’s family manufactured. Carpenters and other workmen labored in shifts that went on at the sprawling house for twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, over the course of thirty-eight years. It was seven stories tall.

And if that isn’t unusual enough, consider that some of the doors in the home led to nowhere — opened only to reveal a blank wall, or a drop to the ground — and there was a stairway that led only to the ceiling: little steps also to nowhere. It was a series of mazes. This, she explained, was to confuse spirits who might be after her. She changed bedrooms every night. Understandably, many thought that Sarah was wildly eccentric. In fact the board of the Winchester Repeater company even sent a psychiatrist to evaluate Sarah for a week at her weird residence. (Read more.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Well-Dressed Home

From Southern Lady:
Emily spent seven years working for an interior design firm, but she was still eager to find ways to express her own sensibilities. After starting a blog in 2010,  she received so many emails from readers asking for help with their homes that she started her own business, A Well Dressed Home. Her business grew rapidly, and she hired fellow designer Alli Walker in 2012. (Read more.)

The Crisis of Child Trafficking

From The Washington Post:
Some of these details might seem obvious; but, surprisingly, before the development of the IPC program in 2009 by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer named Derek Prestridge, there was no comparable, comprehensive training program to help patrol officers — those most likely to encounter children in distress — identify missing, exploited or at-risk kids.

The success of the program has been, unavoidably, difficult to quantify. Before the creation of IPC training, Texas DPS kept no record of “child rescues.” But Texas state troopers have made 341 such rescues since the program’s inception; and in formalized follow-up interviews, virtually all of the troopers said the training was key to spurring them to action.

The DPS has made the training available outside of Texas, and states that have participated are also reporting upticks in child rescues. But the training is far from standard. According to Prestridge, now a captain, IPC training has reached 7,709 patrol officers and child services professionals; according to the Justice Department, there are about 750,000 police officers in the United States (the statistics don’t seem to break out patrol officers). “If this training becomes routine,” Prestridge says, “we could be saving thousands of children.” Unfortunately, as he has learned, even the most promising approaches to the most disturbing problems can be difficult to implement. (Read more.)
 From USA Today:
The scale of the trade indicates that it’s not a small number of men who pay to have sex with kids.  A 2016 study by the Center for Court Innovation found that between 8,900 and 10,500 children, ages 13 to 17, are commercially exploited each year in this country. Several hundred children 12 and younger, a group not included in the study, also suffer commercial sexual abuse.

The researchers found that the average age of victims is 15 and that each child is purchased on average 5.4 times a day. I’ve interviewed victims who were forced to have sex with more than 30 men in a week; more than 100 in a month.

To determine a conservative estimate of the demand, I multiplied the lower number of victims (8,900) identified in the Center for Court Innovation study by the rate of daily exploitation per child (5.4), and then by an average of only one “work” day per week (52). The result: Adults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States. The number of identified victims in the U.S. is on the rise. The National Human Trafficking Hotline recorded a 35 percent increase in reports in 2016. Most of the cases involved sex trafficking and many of the victims were children. (Read more.)
UPDATE: Action is being taken to bring the horror to an end. From The White House:
President Donald J. Trump is taking a stand against human trafficking, dedicating our Government’s full resources towards fighting this repulsive crime.
  • The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) is working tirelessly to address all aspects of human trafficking.
    • As defined by the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act (TVPA), it is the policy of the United States government to address human trafficking via “The Three P’s:”
      • Prosecution of Traffickers.
      • Protection of Victims.
      • Prevention of Human Trafficking.
  • In March 2018, the President appointed nine human trafficking survivors to serve on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking for terms of two years.
  • President Trump declared January 2018 National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. (Read more.)