Saturday, June 24, 2017

Knotting Shuttles in Art

Madame Adélaïde de France
Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine d'Autriche

From Anna Gibson:
Knotting was done through the use of a knotting shuttle, which allowed the user to wind thread which could be gradually turned into long strings of decorative knots. Most women would keep drawstring bags on their wrists so that the strings could be pushed inside as they knotted. After they were finished, the knotted strings were then couched or sewn onto dresses, linen, chair backings, and other types of fabric material. Knotting shuttles for upper class women were typically made from high end materials, including porcelain, ivory, tortoiseshell, or even gold, while shuttles for lower classes were more often made of bone.

The easy nature of knotting made it something women, once well-practiced, could keep themselves occupied with while barely needing to look at their hands. Knotting could be done during long coach rides, while sitting in drawing rooms and salons, while sitting in the theater, and any number of occasions. The practice was so popular with Queen Mary of England during her downtime that that Sir Charles Sedley made a ditty of it: ‘For here’s a Queen now thanks to God!/Who when she rides in coach abroad/Is always knotting threads.’ (Read more.)

The Guide for the Perplexed on Trump-Russia

The Russians and the Americans both try to interfere in each other's elections and have for a long time. From NewsMax:
With two congressional inquiries and an FBI probe underway over the last 6 months — not to mention dozens of voracious media organizations like The New York Times and Washington Post frequently reporting leaks of convenience — nobody has unearthed any evidence that Russians at any level worked with the Trump campaign. When President Trump responds to this madness, he's declared "crazy," "paranoid," and even "obsessed." With so many false reports and innuendo being placed in the public sphere, let's review key points the fair-minded person should consider:

1. To repeat, no one has provided any evidence the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. The closest they come is that the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak showed up at the Republican convention last year in Cleveland and rubbed shoulders with party big-wigs. The media reports conveniently forget to mention the Obama State Dept. organized the effort to have diplomats like Kislyak attend the convention.

2. There is no question the Russians tried to interfere in the U.S. election. 

3. This interference took place during Obama's watch. Obama did little to stop it. Putin took these actions with impunity because he viewed the Obama administration as weak. Putin saw this weakness first hand when he invaded Crimea and Obama slapped him on the wrist. It was only after Trump was elected did the Obama administration raise the temperature against the Russians over the interference.

4. The Obama administration took the unusual step of "unmasking" the identities of Americans, including people close to Trump, discovered in classified NSA and intelligence intercepts. Still, this highly questionable action found no evidence of collusion.

5. There is no evidence the Russian interference changed the election outcome or helped Trump. In fact, Russia's involvement may have actually hurt Trump. Any review of the election results shows Hillary not only won the popular vote, she actually outperformed Obama's 2012 result in many states, including Blue States like California (she won by over 4 million votes, Obama beat Romney by just 2 million) and Red States like Texas (Hillary cut Obama's loss of 16 points almost in half to 9).

6. Trump won the election fairly and squarely. He studied the rules, grasped the critical importance of the Electoral College and out-campaigned Hillary in key states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Remember, Hillary did not even campaign in Wisconsin during the general election.

7. Trump faced a brutal campaign onslaught. Liberal media savaged him with billions of free, earned media for Hillary's campaign. Additionally, Hillary and her allies raised $1.2 billion and outspent Trump by over $600 million. (Trump only raised $258 million through Joint Fundraising from the RNC, less than half of what the DNC raised for Hillary.)

8. Trump's election last November was greeted by immediate protests denying his legitimacy, and some Democrats even called for his impeachment before he took the oath of office.

9. A federal investigation that began simply as a "counter-intelligence" probe has morphed into a sprawling inquiry of Trump's advisers. Unable to find evidence of collusion, this probe is reportedly looking at the advisers' activities completely unrelated to the "collusion" claim and largely for activities after the election. For example, Gen. Michael Flynn is said to have received payments from Turkey that he did not disclose. And Trump's son-in-law had several business contacts with Russians after the election, which by itself is not improper. The FBI is said to be looking at Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort for his dealings in the Ukraine well before Trump ran for office. So what is this all about?

10. There has never been any evidence that President Trump or the White House sought to obstruct justice or close down any Congressional or federal investigation. By virtue of the investigations continuing, the president is actually cooperating with these probes.

11. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, which was his prerogative. Comey never complained during his tenure that Trump was seeking to obstruct justice. After being fired, Comey declined to tell Congress Trump had obstructed justice.

12. The FBI Director did admit that rather than bring his concerns to the attention of the Attorney General or Congress, he wrote memos-to-file of his private conversations with the president. Comey admitted to Congress he leaked at least one of these memos to The New York Times, a serious breach of presidential executive privilege and ethics. These are just some of the matters that can help guide the perplexed about the so-called Russian-Trump collusion story. (Read more.)

Europe: Choosing Suicide

From The Gatestone Institute:
After the Manchester terrorist attack, it was revealed that there are not "just" 3,000 jihadists on the loose in the UK, as the public had previously been informed, but rather a dismaying 23,000 jihadists. According to The Times:
"About 3,000 people from the total group are judged to pose a threat and are under investigation or active monitoring in 500 operations being run by police and intelligence services. The 20,000 others have featured in previous inquiries and are categorised as posing a 'residual risk"'.
Why was the public informed of this only now?

Notably, among those who apparently posed only "a residual risk" and were therefore no longer under surveillance, were Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, and Khalid Masood, the Westminster killer. It appears that the understaffed UK police agencies and intelligence services are no match for 23,000 jihadists. Already in June 2013, Dame Stella Rimington, former head of the MI5, estimated that it would take around 50,000 full-time MI5 agents to monitor 2,000 extremists or potential terrorists 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That amounts to more than 10 times the number of people employed by MI5. In October 2015, Andrew Parker, director general of the Security Service, said that the "scale and tempo" of the danger to the UK was at a level he had not seen in his 32-year career.

British politicians appear to have consistently ignored these warnings and allowed the untenable situation in the country to fester until the "new normal" became jihadists murdering children for Allah at pop concerts. Given the prohibitive costs of monitoring 23,000 jihadists, the only realistic solution to this enormous security issue appears to be deporting jihadists, at least the foreign nationals among the 3,000 monitored, because they pose a threat. British nationals represent a separate problem, as they cannot be deported. Nevertheless, deportation has been an underused tool in the fight against Islamic terrorism: politicians worry too much about international conventions of human rights -- meaning the human rights of jihadists and convicted terrorists, rather than the human rights of their own populace. (Read more.)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Early Modern Book Illustration

From The Collation:
Before the invention of lithography in the 1790s, two basic techniques for mechanically reproducing illustrations existed: relief printing and intaglio printing. In relief printing, the lines that carry the ink stand up higher than the surrounding surface. The image is created by cutting away the parts you don’t want, inking the block, then pressing a sheet of paper onto the inked block. It takes relatively little pressure to transfer the ink to the paper, so relief prints are made using a common press, the same press used for the text of a book. 

Relief blocks and moveable type use the same press, so they can be printed at the same time, making it simple to include image and text on the same page. Most early modern relief prints are woodcuts, though metal cuts were also made. In intaglio printing, the lines that carry the ink are cut into the surrounding surface. 1 Engraved lines are cut into the metal plate by a sharp tool. Etched lines are cut into the plate by acid eating away at metal exposed by scratching through a protective layer of varnish. The image is created by incising lines on a metal plate, forcing ink into the incised lines, wiping the surrounding surface clean, then pressing a dampened sheet of paper onto the plate under such high pressure that the paper is squeezed into the incised lines, where it picks up the ink. Because of the enormous pressure needed, intaglio plates have to be printed on a rolling press. In other words, if you see an intaglio print on the same page as the letterpress text of a book, that page has gone through two printing presses: a common press for the text (with a gap left where the illustration should go), then a rolling press for the image. (Read more.)

Abortion Kills Voters

From Matt Walsh:
In total, how drastically have Democrats reduced their own voting base through in utero execution? Nobody will ever be able to say with certainty, but surely the number is well into the millions. Yes, they have attempted to replace those lost voters by importing new ones from the third world — and in that effort they have been enormously successful — but imagine where they’d be if they had immigrant voters and their own homegrown variety. That’s what’s so astounding about all of this: the Democratic love for abortion is not only murderous but suicidal. It is not only a destructive act but a self-destructive act. Without abortion, there would be millions more black people, millions more women, millions more Democrats. Although we can’t quantify the missing in exact numbers, it is undeniable that the leftist movement and all of its key constituents are killing themselves through abortion. (Read more.)

"Shared Parenting"

From the Institute for Family Studies:
What many children of marital abandonment experience in this netherworld of hedonism and adolescent pursuits is—well, let’s just say a far cry from snuggles and Goodnight Moon.
  • It’s waking up Saturday mornings to fend for yourself until around noon when dad and his girlfriend emerge from a dark bedroom in the dumpy, dingy apartment that is now your temporary home.
  • It’s being left high and dry when mom forgets to pick you up because she’s getting it on with her boyfriend at their new place together.
  • It’s regular exposure to pornography and troubling shows like “13 Reasons Why” in the vacuum of parental supervision under a new Disney mom or Disney dad regime.
  • It’s subsisting on too-little sleep, junk food, and soda two weekends a month and coming home exhausted and grumpy to the responsible parent who suffers the consequences for days.
  • It’s the repeated and prolonged (court-ordered) exposure of a preteen girl to mom’s burly new boyfriend who vacillates between ignoring and ogling her—the very man responsible for the constant pain she is experiencing at the loss of her family.
  • It’s the tummy aches and nightmares that won’t go away.
  • It’s the teen boy with the sparkle in his eye and love for his faith who in the wake of his father’s abandonment and remarriage hates God and speaks of suicide.
  • It’s the daughter, who once contemplated religious life, who now posts half-naked photos of herself on social media, slathered in makeup as if to mask the anguish of innocence lost in the emulation of her mother’s behavior.
  • It’s feeling the guilt and sadness of knowing that church is important, but having to watch TV sitcoms every other Sunday morning instead; the knowledge that to raise the issue with daddy would bring that sickly, torn apart inside feeling to the surface again.
Where do the children above (each of whom is real) fall in the shared parenting paradigm of “post-divorce equality leads to better adjustment?” What about the responsible parents who wish to protect not only their children’s physical but moral and spiritual well-being?

These matters are not just a quandary for those who believe adultery is wrong. Children living with a parent’s new sex partner— especially when the partner is a man—are at significant risk of sexual and physical abuse. Record numbers of divorcees are cohabiting.

So, how do we have an honest discussion about where children should spend the most time after divorce without accounting for the impact of infidelity (and all its negative behavioral correlates)—and the marital abandonment and subsequent cohabitation or remarriage that so often accompanies serial infidelity—on their moral and physical well-being, in childhood and beyond? Professionals in every sphere of influence on this matter (family courts, social science, counseling) seem reluctant to acknowledge and investigate the distinction between consensual and unwanted divorce. Somehow abandoned spouses and their children are not represented in our representative studies of divorce. (Read more.)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Poetry of Giverny

From Victoria:
With a painter’s eye, French impressionist painter Claude Monet often combined flowers of like colors and allowed them to grow without constraint across the sprawling grounds of his home in Giverny, France. The water garden, inspired by the Japanese prints Monet collected, forms a mystical aquatic environment ensconced among weeping willows, wisteria, and thickets of bamboo. Originally, a local craftsman constructed the green bridge, a familiar feature in several of his celebrated paintings. As much a gardener as he was an artist, Monet landscaped the elaborate vignettes of flowers, water, and trees surrounding his iconic Normandy farmhouse, pictured above, with the passionate intent of capturing them on canvas. (Read more.)


An Orwellian History of Obamacare

From The American Spectator:
It’s an article of faith among progressives that they are intellectually and morally superior to conservatives and pretty much everyone else. In fact, the need to see themselves as a cut above mere mortals is far more important to them than any ideology, policy position, or set of objective facts. This is why Barack Obama was able, after being elected President, to reverse his position on the inclusion of an individual mandate in health care “reform” without losing a single supporter. And it is why Paul Krugman maintains a huge progressive readership despite his penchant for treating them like fools.

He has thus garnered the applause of progressives everywhere by rebuking Senate Republicans for proceeding with Obamacare “repeal and replace” without following the open process that he claims characterized the passage of the “Affordable Care Act.” In a recent blog post, for example, he accused the GOP of plotting to pass the bill in secret: “And they’ll try to do it by dead of night, of course.” The term “Orwellian” has regrettably become rather hackneyed, but no other word adequately describes this sentence. It is exactly how Obamacare was passed. As the Wall Street Journal reminds its readers:
On Dec. 19, 2009, a Saturday, then Majority Leader Harry Reid tossed the 2,100-page bill the Senate had spent that fall debating and offered a new bill drafted in an invitation-only back room. Democrats didn’t even pretend to care what was in it while passing it in the dead of night on Dec. 24, amid a snowstorm, in the first Christmas Eve vote since 1895.
None of this is news. It is, in fact, one of the reasons Obamacare has been reviled for so long by the voters. Indeed, an argument can be made that this single piece of legislation — and how it was passed — is largely responsible for the decimation of the Democratic Party that began with its loss of the House, continued with its loss of the Senate, and culminated with the defeat of Hillary Clinton. If Krugman’s progressive readers were the intellectual heavyweights they imagine themselves, they would consider his claims about the fictive transparency of Obamacare’s passage an insult to their collective intelligence. (Read more.)