Persuasion: the Movie

Well, I’m sitting here wondering what to talk about – there’s surely no shortage of things to be either enthused or outraged about, is there. And you know, I decided it’s time for a movie. We used to do them a lot, and as my morale slipped simply got out of the habit.

But why not? This is the 2007 production of Jane Austen’s last complete novel Persuasion, some say the 1995 version is a bit better, but I couldn’t find it. But the people are a bit older, and that suits me, as well. So enjoy, cause I will.

My folk, what have I done to thee?

Our friend A Clerk of Oxford: ‘My folk, what have I done to thee? with some of William Herebert’s Improperia, appropriate to the day.

My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

For from Egypt I led thee;
Thou leadest me to rood-tree.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

Through the wilderness I led thee,
And forty years I cared for thee,
And angels’ bread I gave to thee,
And into rest I brought thee.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

What more should I have done
That thou hast not underfon? [received]
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

I thee fed and clothed thee,
And thou givest vinegar for drink to me
And with spear stingest me.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

I Egypt scourged for thee
And their offspring slew for thee.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

I divided the sea for thee,
And drowned Pharaoh for thee,
And thou to princes sellest me.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

With beam of cloud I led thee,
And to Pilate thou leadest me.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

With angels’ meat I fed thee,
And thou buffetest and scourgest me.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

From the stone I gave drink to thee,
And thou with gall givest drink to me.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

Kings of Canaan I for thee beat,
And thou beatest my head with a reed.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

I gave thee a crown of kingdom [i.e. kingship],
And thou me givest a crown of thorn.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

I great honour gave to thee,
And thou me hangest on rood-tree.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

Katie Hopkins, Canoe U, and John Paul Jones

Britain could use more, many  more, Katie Holmes. So could the United States. Case in point the US Naval Academy. Senator James Webb from Virginia wrote an article 38 years ago, and this happened last week. Hognose from Weaponsman

For the record, 38 years is more than double the amount of service the mean Academy graduate gives to the nation. And the Marine in question is still serving, albeit in a lesser capacity, as a United States Senator.

The individual in question was Jim Webb, United States Senator from Virginia, once (briefly: the high-strung Webb quit in a snit) Secretary of the Navy; once a bestselling novelist; and once, not long after graduation, a Marine platoon leader upon whom a grateful nation bestowed the Navy Cross, a decoration that used to be respected at the Academy. (Webb also has “lesser” decorations, including the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts). Unlike today’s Academy persons, Webb sought out combat, sought out the fight, and fought to win. It is the sort of person the Academy no longer respects.

Webb was to have been honored Friday as a “distinguished graduate” by the Naval Academy Alumni Association, but withdrew Tuesday evening: “I am being told that my presence at the ceremony would likely mar the otherwise celebratory nature of that special day. As a consequence, I find it necessary to decline the award.”

Better he should have spit in somebody’s eye — but once an officer and a gentleman, always an officer and a gentleman, one supposes.

At issue was a paper he wrote in 1979 objecting to the admission of women to the nation’s military academies on the even-then-unfashionable, but still-not-unreasonable, grounds that assignment of women to frontline combat roles is at best disruptive, and at worst dangerous. Perhaps lethally so.

No one talks about the changes that have come to the Academies since female integration. The cultural change is part of it. There is less direct and physical athletic competition, and more bureaucratic, social-climbing, and backstabbing competition. That suits the girls better. There is less focus on courage — as the Webb hecklers’ veto shows, it’s no longer a value — and more focus on careerism. That’s what the girls want. But even the curriculum has changed: the challenging, engineering-focused and math-heavy courses of yesteryear that provided a pressure all of their own have given way to touchy-feely verbal-games courses, because the girls all were channeling Math Is Hard Barbie. […]

The Navy cannot demonstrate that Webb was wrong. History, instead, seems determined to prove him right. But the new catechism of American public religion stands not upon a doctrine nor on an ideal, but a slogan: Diversity Is Our Vibrancy™. It’s the Mein Ehre Heißt Treue of a new orthodoxy that Shall Not Be Questioned. It’s institutionalized admiration for the Emperor’s New Clothes.

It’s careerism, institutionalized.

Go and read the whole thing at Canoe U: Twilight of the Naval Academy. And the next time you’re in Annapolis, go on over there, not many have seen John Paul John Jones weep, but I think he may well be.

Welcoming Britannia Home

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, …

And so it is done, and the hard work of making the Mission Statement true begins.

Last Tuesday, 28 March 2017, Prime Minister Teresa May signed the letter invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, giving notice that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union within two years. It’s been a contentious debate since the people were asked. They said pretty clearly, “Let’s get out of here.” After the fall of the Prime Minister who promised and held that referendum, a court case that would have done the sue-happy United States proud, and enabling legislation passed by both houses of Parliament, with the Queen’s consent, the UK has decided to regain its independence.

Many of us here, and in the UK saw the analogy as we came up to the referendum, between the American Revolution, and Brexit, both bore very heavily indeed on the sovereignty of the people. It is a true analogy. But it will also hold in the days, weeks, months, and yes, years to come. Invoking Article 50, like our Declaration is a mission statement. It says we will be our own nation.

We fought a war against the most powerful empire in the world for seven long years, to make it so. The UK may not have it quite that hard, but it will be hard. There are forces, especially in Scotland, that wish to dismember the Union. They control Holyrood, at the moment, although their incompetence at governing is becoming legend, thus they use devolution as a smoke screen to remain in power, as they hurt the people, especially the poor. Personally, I think their time has come, and gone. The Scots are canny people, they can see through this wisp of smoke, and as they said a couple years ago, England and Scotland are better together.

Europe will try to browbeat Britain, of course. Thing is, that’s all they really have. The EU is a crumbling house of cards, with centripetal forces all over Europe trying to tear it asunder. In truth in large measure, it has become a Deutsches Zollverein, as Germany becomes more and more dominant in it. Along, of course, with the autocratic, corrupt bureaucracy in Brussels.

It is, in fact, and partly because of the Union itself, the only market in the world that is not growing. The United Kingdom has very much indeed to offer the world, once it is no longer stifled by Europe. This is, after all, the people that taught Americans to be Americans. Almost all that we are, and believe, comes directly to us from British history. From the power of trade, and the necessity of freedom of the seas, to the evil of slavery, this was our school marm. We learned well, we hope Britain has remembered the lessons, as well.

But you know, the British, especially the English do have form on this, as well. Almost 500 years ago King Henry VIII turned his back on Europe, broke with Rome, founded the Royal Navy and started the adventure that led to the modern world. That was the point where the die was cast, that the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Modern India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and many more would happen. It all dates to that day, 3 November 1534, when Parliament declared that Henry was “the only supreme head on Earth of the Church of England” and that the English crown shall enjoy “all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity.”

That was the day that made 4 July 1776 possible, and I think it possible that 4 July 1776 made possible 28 March 2017. Such are the ways of history. People who have tasted freedom find it good, and are not amused when others try to take it away from them.

And now it is time for us to support the cousins, as they have supported us. Not because we owe it to them, but because we owe it to ourselves. And you know, I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t profitable to us and our economy, as well.

We are very pleased indeed that the United Kingdom will again “ have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.” Although we would be remiss not to remind them that it is a very rough road, and that they will need to do as our founders did.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Welcome home, Britannia.

The Centre Cannot Hold; but All Shall be Well

Turning and turning in the widening gyre 
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity. 

Surely some revelation is at hand; 
Surely the Second Coming is at hand. 
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out 
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi 
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert 
A shape with lion body and the head of a man, 
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, 
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it 
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. 
The darkness drops again; but now I know 
That twenty centuries of stony sleep 
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, 
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, 
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

That bit of Yeats pretty well sums up my feelings this morning, both as to where our 
countries are going and my personal life as well, which perhaps means I take current events 
too seriously. But I detect that same near despair in many of my friends. Many of them 
continue to fight and speak for the right, often getting at best, no response, and often a 
kick in the teeth for their trouble. Still, it’s what one does, if one has our temperament.

Is it possible to win this war against the allies of liberal progressive ( I struck that out 
because there is nothing liberal about them), the so-called media, and Islam (or Islamic 
terrorism, if you prefer)?

Sure it is possible, but it is about as likely as that the British Empire would hold on 
between Dunkirk and Pearl Harbor. In other words, yes, it's posssible, if we act with 
determination and steadfast will. Is it likely? 

I have no clue. But I notice that as I go on, my spirits begin to flag, as they do in 
others. Not all, of course, and for me, it is a lessening of intensity, a spiritual 
tiredness, and others keep me on track, as I hope I too do others. 

But it is going to be long war. But I do believe in the long run it is our war to win 
or lose. 
And perhaps Elliot is the truer poet. One prays so.

 If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.

 If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

As Mother Julian reminds us -

“In my folly, before this time I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, 
the onset of sin was not prevented: for then, I thought, all should have been well. 
This impulse [of thought] was much to be avoided, but nevertheless I mourned and sorrowed 
because of it, without reason and discretion.

“But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that is needed by me, answered with these 
words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all 
shall be well,and all manner of thing shall be well.'

And, Now Again, in London

Well, Londoners, and the British, in general, have form on this, not very different from how they greeted the Blitz. Doesn’t seem to show as often these days, but there are not all that many threats against Britain, or are there? Best writing I’ve seen so far comes from an Englishman living in Romania. Here’s what he says,

We are at war with an idea that kills people

Yesterday several people were murdered just outside the House of Commons. Killing people outside security barriers makes much better sense for a terrorist than trying to pass them, though the murderer did that too in the end, before being shot dead.

Tim Stanley, the British journalist and historian, spoke for many when he called it “A barbaric attack. Monstrous for shedding blood, but impotent because it will not change us or our way of life.” Lots and lots of other people said the same thing.

They may be right. There’s no way of knowing. I hope, though, that they’re wrong and that it does change us and our ideas about immigration.

For some reason, there is a reluctance to discuss the links between terrorism and immigration. Instead we get appeals not to blame Muslims for a few mentally ill people in their midst.

So much mental illness these days.

Next will come candles, a hashtag, someone will pull off a girl’s headscarf and Islamophobia will become the big story.

My first job after university was in the House of Lords. I was 23 and on my first day I was greeted by the policeman on the gate with ‘Hello, my Lord’ and no request for my pass.

In those days (now they seem like the Edwardian era) the peers were mostly hereditary, almost entirely male, all save two were white (one of those an Indian hereditary peer who lived in obscurity in Delhi) and some were in their twenties, but for actuarial reasons very few. I was flattered to be taken for a peer (I was wearing a good suit), but I always thereafter entertained doubts about security at the Palace of Westminster.

Especially since, or despite the fact that, poor Airey Neave M.P. had been murdered by Irish terrorists in the underground car park of the House of Commons, just before Parliament was dissolved for the 1979 general election.

On Monday, the former head of the IRA Martin McGuinness, who became Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, died on Monday after a painful illness and received much praise.

The IRA kept murdering people and, in the end, they got much of what they wanted. This was, I think, worse than a crime. It was a blunder. The IRA were in the process of being not fully but largely defeated by the British security forces, when the ‘peace process’ began.

From: We are at war with an idea that kills people

I don’t disagree with much of what he writes here. At least the perpetrator won’t be out of jail in 5 years, well done, armed police. I’ll have some thoughts about it, perhaps later, but for now, it is time to grieve the dead, comfort the grieving, and start preparing. God bless them all, the long, and the short and the tall.

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