Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Farming in Virginia



From my sister Sarah's blog:
How do I begin to describe the astounding trust and communion with the land that I witnessed last week? Meet the McIntyre family, owners of Goshen Homestead who also work for Roffey Cattle Company. A homestead means living a life of self-sufficiency. Vegetables, fruits, cattle, chickens…all can be found on this gorgeous piece of land about 25 minutes from downtown Abingdon.

Winding my way up the driveway, I found myself speechless from the overcast views of rocky pastures that reminded me of the Irish countryside. You already never want to leave. With 6 laughing children running about the kitchen, I chatted with Stacey and Dwayne, while taking turns holding the 2 and 4 year olds. Stacey was in the middle of roasting coffee beans. Heaven may in fact be a place on earth. Just saying.

After caffeination had taken it’s full affect, we explored the land they call home. With the youngest daughter, Rachel, by my side we walked through the garden, visited cattle, made friends with chickens, and my personal favorite…suited up and got close with some bees. Stacey and Dwayne’s oldest son, Nathan, has taken a fancy to bee-keeping, and boy is he excellent. This fearless 10 year old introduced me to the art of bee-keeping, and what’s abuzz these days with honey. I’m so sorry, I had to.

Over the course of the morning, we talked about modern-day issues that have been bouncing around in all of our heads, such as the rise of allergies and why all of a sudden our bodies can’t tolerate natural foods. Perhaps because our bodies no longer know the difference between natural and processed? It’s all a fast moving train with an evolution of folks attempting to slow it down with every fibre of their being. Our society has decided that slow is bad, fast is good. But by speeding everything up, we are negatively affecting the art and beauty of our natural systems.

Barefoot and smiling, the McIntyre children run to show me the chickens and apple tree. The work here never stops, but neither does the bounty. I feel lucky to have met this beautiful family. They sell at the Abingdon Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, as well as provide the kale for White Birch Juice Company. What can you purchase from these lovely folks? Coffee, pickles on a stick, kombucha scoby, honey, eggs, chicken, beef (I’m currently enjoying a divine tip roast), raw milk and raw cream.

Enjoy the interview and photographic journey! (Read more.)


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Rising Violent Crime in America

From The Washington Post:
In June, well before Obama’s remarks and most of the fact-checks of Trump’s claims, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri at St. Louis documented, in a study of 56 major cities conducted for the Justice Department, that homicides were up 17 percent on average. Forty of the cities saw homicides increase, and 12 of those cities saw them increase by more than 50 percent. Furthermore, data collected by the Major Cities Chiefs Association indicate that this trend has continued into 2016. In the first half of the year, homicides are up 15 percent over 2015. Non-fatal shootings (up 4 percent) and aggravated assaults (3.4 percent) both jumped in the first half of the year as well. 

Our own analysis of 20 large cities, gathered directly from publicly available police department data, finds that crime is rising overall, although the increases are spread unevenly across the country. And compared with 2014 lows, some types of violent crimes are not just rising; they are rising at alarming rates. (Read more.)
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Military Service in Tenth Century England

From Casting Light Upon the Shadow:
Just as the heriot (war gear) varied according to rank, so the military service requirement differed for men of varying resources. The king had at his disposal his household troops.* Mercenaries were employed, (the career of Thorkell the Tall is evidence of this) but in essence the composition of the fyrd was based on a territorial levy. The requirement was for one man from every five hides of land. Service was basically for sixty days, in a system of rotation, but only in times of war. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 920 tells us that “when this division of the English levies went home, the other came out on military service and occupied the fortress at Huntington.” [5] A landowner with more than five hides of land would be responsible for providing the requisite number of men.

A fine was payable for neglect of military service, and this ‘fyrd-wite’ was set at around forty shillings per man. Commutation, a payment in lieu of service, was lower, at around twenty shillings per obligation. A thegn liable to service could have his lands confiscated if he defaulted. [6] This did not necessarily mean that a thegn had to fight. He could send the required number of men without going himself; he would still be fulfilling his obligation. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Uncle Jim and Camp Perry

From CMP:
With over 60 years of marksmanship experience, Jim’s life has taken him all around the country and has allowed him to compete with some of the most recognized individuals in the world of shooting. And, it all began at Camp Perry.

“When I come to Camp Perry, there are a lot of ghosts I know, walking around,” he said. “I’ve had so many highs here.”

His first taste of Camp Perry was in 1955, when he was just 17 years old. Excited to compete in his debut 300-yard match, Jim even skipped his first week of high school just to be able to go to the National Matches. The trip was so successful that by the end, Jim, who was unclassified, left an Expert Marksman.

During his career, he has shot with the Washington State National Guard and the New York National Guard, 71st Regiment. While there, he earned his Master Classification. In 1961, he won the NRA Smallbore Sectional Match in New Jersey and helped lead the New York National Guard to a State Championship title in 1962. That same year, he moved to Baltimore and joined the Maryland State Team which went on to win the Hilton Trophy at Camp Perry for the High National Guard Team in the National Trophy Team Match. (Read more.)
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Winter of the Soul

Analyzing Game of Thrones. From Catholic Lane:
More subtly, Game of Thrones can be used to validate Machiavellian politics and shadowy character traits. Instead of mixed characters simply being portrayed as sympathetic due to the human condition, their warped aspects are made to seem acceptable and even heroic. It becomes more important to be “clever” than to be good, which is seen as nothing short of dull and unrealistic. Indeed, not only unrealistic, but illusory. To quote the character Peter Baelish: “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, given a chance to climb, they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”

This monologue summarizes much of the philosophy behind Game of Thrones. Survivors are the ones to root for, even if they get their fingernails dirty in the process. Indeed, true conversion of life and redemption of heart come to be seen as undesirable and simplistic. This is reflected in other popular series such as Wolf Hall, which features Thomas Cromwell as one such sympathetic survivor anti-hero. In contrast, Thomas More, renowned for his moral integrity, is recast as a priggish, masochistic religious fanatic. Moral orthodoxy is swiftly passing out of style, and moral ambiguity (not just within characters, but within themes) is en vogue.

But secondly, perhaps more profoundly, the celebration of anti-heroes simply reflects a growing ambiguity in society’s moral compass in which “gray is okay.” While fallen human nature is a fact of life worthy of sympathy, it is not worthy of applause. Indeed, we have come to the point when we are unable to sympathize with or applaud true acts of virtue and heroism. In the eyes of many, even the historical reality of Thomas More’s courageous refusal to betray his conscience at the cost of his own life simply demonstrated foolishness and a lack of political savvy. Even with all his internal struggles, they find him a bore precisely because he actually did conquer his fears and stand firm in his beliefs. They find more appeal in Cromwell, who might have been willing to sell out his own mother for a farthing, but at least seemed to have “street smarts”…until even he overplayed his hand by hooking up Henry VIII with homely wife number 4, an act of critical misjudgment that cost him his head! (Read more.)
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Germ Warfare

From Military History Now:
Muskets might be burnished bright, straps pipe-clayed gleaming white, and boots smartly blacked but a private soldier’s uniform was often dirty and lice infested. Uniform replacements were issued infrequently, at uncertain intervals, so coats and pants were often patched and worn long after they should have been discarded. Lice bred freely and every morning soldiers gathered in groups to rid each other of the pests. Yet eggs hidden in seams hatched and by the end of the day the problem was back. Holding their clothes over campfires forced legions of the vile creatures to leap into the flames, exploding like kernels of popcorn, but often left the already threadbare clothing badly singed. The only truly effective remedy was boiling the uniforms in heavily salted water. This wiped out the lice but was very hard on already tattered uniforms and so was not done nearly often enough.
Lice carried typhus, a deadly disease, but far from the only one which plagued soldiers. Armies were cities in themselves, far larger than most, but without any built in municipal safeguards for health. Thus militaries served as force multipliers for disease. Dysentery and typhoid were common killers, usually arising from drinking polluted water; often caused when fecal matter from the latrines penetrated hastily dug regimental wells or seeped into a local stream used for drinking water. Flies who had been feeding on dead men and horses bore all manner of diseases; in low lying swampy areas, clouds of mosquitoes carried malaria. Prolonged diarrhea, caused by poor food and bad water, was a surprisingly common killer, doing its deadly work through simple dehydration. (Read more.)
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Sub Tuum Praesidium

 We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God! Despise not our petitions in our necessities but deliver us always from all dangers, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin!
From Catholic Pop:
Written originally in Greek, it was used in the 3rd century Coptic Orthodox Christmas liturgy. Amazingly, it is still used today in the Coptic liturgy, as well as the Byzantine, Ambrosian, and Roman liturgies. Regarding the dating, note that the A.D. 250 origin date is simply the earliest point to which we can date this prayer. That doesn’t mean this prayer didn’t exist earlier, and it doesn’t mean there weren’t other Marian devotions in use. But what this shows is that explicit Marian devotion has existed at least since A.D. 250. Also note that the A.D. 250 origin date puts the practice of Marian devotion two decades before Emperor Constantine (b. 272, made emperor in 306) was even born, let alone made emperor. That should put to rest the tired trope that Marian devotion was the result of Constantine bringing pagan ideas and practices into the Church. (Read more.)
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Turkish Christians

From CNS News:
You probably know that Turkey, a key NATO ally that is 98 percent Muslim today, has deep Christian roots. The Book of Acts tells us that the followers of Jesus in Antioch, Antakya today, were the first to be called Christians. Revelation’s Seven Churches of Asia were in what is now Turkey. The first seven Ecumenical Councils in church history were held there. The magnificent Hagia Sophia in Constantinople—today, Istanbul—was one of the crown jewels of Christendom, until the city fell to the Ottomans in 1453. For the past 85 years, the Hagia Sophia, under secular rule, has been a museum, a cultural artifact of a proud Christian past. However, Muslim prayers are again being heard from within its walls.

There are other sounds in Turkey, too—the sounds of glass shattering, of fires burning, of shots fired, of people screaming. You likely heard of the failed coup by the military against the Islamist-leaning government of President Recep Erdogan. The government has rounded up or jailed more than 15,000 people suspected of participating in the coup. Scores are definitely being settled.

All of that is bad enough, but we are seeing something else in Turkey common in Muslim-dominant cultures when chaos breaks out: Christians become convenient targets. London’s Express newspaper reports that hardline Sunni Muslims, whipped into a frenzy by imams calling on them to take to the streets, targeted a small, Protestant church in a shopfront in Matalya. Shouting “Allahu Akbar,” the mob smashed the church’s windows, although no one was hurt. (Read more.)
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