A new Dan Brown novel is coming in May, and the subject is Dante.
Doubleday announced Tuesday that Brown’s book is called Inferno, named for Dante’s epic journey in verse. Brown again will feature Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, the protagonist for his blockbuster The Da Vinci Code and for the million-selling follow-up The Lost Symbol. The book might seem familiar in other ways, as Brown again takes on a masterpiece of Western civilization: The Da Vinci Code centred on an iconic painting, the Mona Lisa.
“Although I studied Dante’s Inferno as a student, it wasn’t until recently,while researching in Florence, that I came to appreciate the enduring influence of Dante’s work on the modern world,” Brown said in a statement. “With this new novel, I am excited to take readers on a journey deep into this mysterious realm, a landscape of codes, symbols, and more than a few secret passageways.”
Brown may also be returning to the religious controversies of The Da Vinci Code, when he infuriated some Catholics by suggesting that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children. Dante himself was a Catholic who was critical of church leaders.
Wonderful. I can’t wait for Brown to distort the history of Dante as he has Leonardo Da Vinci and early Christianity. I suppose it goes without saying that very little of this upcoming novel will be based on any facts about Dante’s life, though I am sure Dante will uncover the great conspiracy that the Catholic Church has been hiding for centuries. Its too bad really. Dante lived an interesting life and I wish that someone other than Dan Brown would write a book about him.
NARAL Pro-Choice America announced on Monday it has tapped longtime Democratic operative Ilyse Hogue to serve as its new president as the group seeks to appeal to a younger generation of pro-abortion rights supporters.
Hogue replaces outgoing president Nancy Keenan, who is leaving the post after eight years. In May, Keenan announced she would step down from the group after the 2012 election in order to bring in someone who could appeal to younger voters.In an interview with the Washington Post, Keenan said the group had found an intensity gap among young women who weren’t around when abortion wasn’t legal. She said the group needed to recruit a new generation of pro-abortion rights activists for different roles—including her own.
The move comes amid what the group has described as increasing attacks on women’s rights around the country. According to an NARAL report released earlier this month, 42 anti-choice measures were passed in 25 states last year. The finding came as preparations are made to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down state laws restricting abortion.
Well, the problem is that many of the women of the younger generation who would have been avid supporters of NARAL’s agenda have been aborted. This is not a mean joke. Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto has postulated that women who support abortion are more likely to have abortions and thus will tend to have fewer children than women who are against abortion. He has called this the Roe Effect. It is difficult to determine whether there is any validity to the Roe Effect and it is by no means certain that the children of pro-life mothers will themselves grow up to be pro-life, but the fact that support for abortion has been declining over time may suggest that there is some validity to the hypothesis.
Do you notice, by the way, that the representatives of groups like NARAL don’t really like to say what they are actually for. They argue in vague terms of choice and cast their opponents as being anti-choice. Why don’t they just come right out and say that they are for killing unborn babies? And why don’t I have any choice about whether my tax dollars go to an abortion mill like Planned Parenthood?
She is suing her school district for discrimination but I think that it is possible that she has chosen the wrong profession. Here is the story at Yahoo News.
A teacher from Mariemont, Ohio, is suing her school district, claiming discrimination. What makes the case unique is that the teacher, Maria Waltherr-Willard, suffers from pedophobia, a crippling fear of young children. She claims her disability led to the discrimination.
We first saw the news over at the Cincinnati.com. The paper reports that Waltherr-Willard began her career as a high school teacher, a position she held for decades. She was reassigned to teach in a junior high in 2010, despite, she claims, being assured earlier in her career that she would not have to teach younger children.
According to the Enquirer, pedophobia can lead to shortness of breath, vomiting and feelings of terror when around young children. Waltherr-Willard claims that she was discriminated against based on her age (she’s 61) and her disability.
“It’s a tough phobia. You can’t really get away from [children] when you’re outside,” Dr. Caleb Adler, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, told Cincinnati.com. Adler did not treat Waltherr-Willard.
The backstory, as described by the Enquirer, goes as follows: Waltherr-Willard taught foreign languages in high school for many years. Several years ago, word got to her that her district was considering putting those classes online, a move that would have had an effect on her position.
Waltherr-Willard apparently spoke to parents about the district’s decision to eliminate face-to-face French courses. Parents spoke out, and the district was not amused that one of its teachers was stirring the pot. Waltherr-Willard claims she was sent to teach at junior high as a kind of punishment for speaking out. She eventually resigned her position.
“Good Morning America” reports that the lawsuit says “both parties agreed the phobia and anxiety disorder fell under the Americans With Disabilities Act and exempted her from future transfers within the school district.”
Parts of the lawsuit have already been dismissed by a federal judge. Three allegations remain. The case is scheduled to go to court in early 2014.
This is ridiculous. There was always the possibility that as a teacher she might be called to teach younger students. If the presence of children really makes her anxious, than she shouldn’t be teaching. I am a little bit concerned about the seeming expansion of the definition of disabilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act. It seems to me that before too much longer everybody will be considered disabled.
Ministers said that a new curriculum “goes further” than previous documents drawn up under Labour by requiring schools to place imperial units at the heart of maths lessons.
Under new plans, a draft primary school syllabus requires pupils to understand and use the “basic equivalencies” between metric and common imperial systems.
The document also makes greater reference to miles to make sure children are fully aware of the standard measurement of speed and distance on British roads, it was revealed.
It represents a partial return to the mid-70s when state schools were first required to prioritise the metric system over imperial.
Andrew Percy, the Tory MP for Brigg and Goole, who obtained the latest information, said: “Of course children should learn metric, but I’m concerned there isn’t enough focus on the prominence of imperial given that it is the lawful measurement of almost everything we do in this country.
“The fact is, it is illegal to use anything but imperial measures on the roads. When you get into your car, you measure petrol in miles per gallon, speed in miles per hour, road exits are in yards and the height of bridges is in feet and inches.
“Beyond that, we buy our beer and milk in pints and measure our height in feet and inches, so it is vital that we properly teach our children about imperial measurements.”
I didn’t know that the British used the old system at all. I thought they had converted entirely to metric. The Imperial system is not quite the same as the traditional system used here in the US because the Imperial system was standardized in 1824, after the US obtained independence. I don’t think there is much difference between the two. I agree that the metric system is the more scientific and rational system, but I think I prefer the traditional measurements. Inches, based on the thumb, yards, based on arm span, and feet, based on, well feet, seem to be more natural and intuitive. The metric system seems tome to be a product of the French Revolution with its passion for abolishing traditions and customs in favor of reinventing society on a rational basis from the year zero. Inches, feet pounds just seem more natural than centimeters and kilograms. But,maybe I am just being too set in my ways. If so, I am not the only one in America, given our continuing resistance to meticication.
These days, there are few things to admire about the socialist, bankrupt and culturally degenerating USA, but at least so far, one thing remains: the right to bear arms and use deadly force to defend one’s self and possessions.
This will probably come as a total shock to most of my Western readers, but at one point, Russia was one of the most heavily armed societies on earth. This was, of course, when we were free under the Tsar. Weapons, from swords and spears to pistols, rifles and shotguns were everywhere, common items. People carried them concealed, they carried them holstered. Fighting knives were a prominent part of many traditional attires and those little tubes criss crossing on the costumes of Cossacks and various Caucasian peoples? Well those are bullet holders for rifles.
While President Putin pushes through reforms, the local authorities, especially in our vast hinterland, do not feel they need to act like they work for the people. They do as they please, a tyrannical class who knows they have absolutely nothing to fear from a relatively unarmed population. This in turn breeds not respect but absolute contempt and often enough, criminal abuse.
No it is about power and a total power over the people. There is a lot of desire to bad mouth the Tsar, particularly by the Communists, who claim he was a tyrant, and yet under him we were armed and under the progressives disarmed. Do not be fooled by a belief that progressives, leftists hate guns. Oh, no, they do not. What they hate is guns in the hands of those who are not marching in lock step of their ideology. They hate guns in the hands of those who think for themselves and do not obey without question. They hate guns in those whom they have slated for a barrel to the back of the ear.
So, do not fall for the false promises and do not extinguish the light that is left to allow humanity a measure of self respect.
AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.
Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?
Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.
“I say to you forget the extremists. It’s simple — no one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer and too many people have died already,” Cuomo said.
I wouldn’t know how many bullets it takes to kill deer, nor do I care. The second amendment isn’t to protect the rights of deer hunters but to protect all of us against tyrants. It often takes a lot more than ten bullets to kill a tyrant.
The position of pro-Second Amendment Americans is that gun ownership is part of the fundamental human right to self-defense, explicitly stated in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers due to an overarching political philosophy regarding the balance of power between the individual and the state.
The position of the anti-gun activists in the Obama administration is “guns are icky.”
The media consider them the intellectuals in this debate.
And so Fox News reports “White House In Gun Control Sprint.” President Obama wants to fast-track a stack of new gun laws before the lingering pain and horror of the Newtown, Conn., massacre fades.
According to the Washington Post, Obama’s task force has already blown past the return of the so-called “assault weapons” ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines. They’ve moved on to “regulations that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.”
I thought the point of this White House task force was to “prevent more tragedies” like Newtown, as the president said when he announced it. If so, please re-read the last paragraph. Am I missing something?
“Universal background checks” — whatever that means — might or might not be a good thing. They certainly sound reasonable to me. But how would they have prevented Adam Lanza from shooting up that elementary school? He took a rifle that belonged to his mother.
The same with “tracking the sale and movement” of guns. I’m not sure about the constitutionality of forcing me to report to the government when I pass down my father’s shotgun to my son one day, but once again — this prevents another Newtown … how?
And sure, I’m all for “strengthening mental health checks,” but unless you’re going to make your local gun store owner a licensed therapist, how does he stop a guy like Lanza — with no diagnosis of mental illness — from buying a gun?
Most laughable (and this is no laughing matter, which makes the White House’s position even more angering) is the “stiffened penalties for carrying guns near schools.”
So Joe Biden’s telling me that Lanza, overcome by his mental condition to the point that he’s murdered his mother and is headed to an elementary school on a killing spree, is going to stop 1,000 yards from the playground and think, “Hey — I don’t want Obama to take away my student loan subsidy. I better keep these guns away from school!”
These are the thoughtful, well-reasoned ideas from the Obama brain trust?
And we haven’t even mentioned the fact that gun laws are utterly meaningless to criminals, anyway. Don’t believe me? Ask the families of the 506 people fatally shot in Obama’s “gun-controlled” hometown of Chicago last year.
I’m not one of the knee-jerk pro-gun types who oppose all laws. I don’t think of gun ownership as the highest form of patriotism. Show me a law on law-abiding gun owners that will have a meaningful impact on gun violence, and I’m all ears.
But that’s not what the White House is offering. In the face of undeniable evidence that, for 20 years, gun ownership rates have gone up while gun deaths have plunged (the lowest since at least 1981, according to FactCheck.org), Obama’s pushing for a large-scale “punish-all-gun-owners” approach.
So much so that some Senate Democrats are already backing away from the task force’s work.
If the White House would stop playing on emotions for the sake of far-left politics, we could actually get something done about gun crime in the U.S.
I don’t quite agree with Mr. Graham. I do not think that the Obama administration has misfired at all.They know exactly what they are doing.
The long term goal of the Democrats has been to disarm the American people. I do not know whether this is because they consider guns to be icky or whether the conspiracy theorists are right and they want to inaugurate a one-world Socialist dictatorship and really it doesn’t matter. With that in mind and considering Obama’s ambition to be a transformative President who brings fundamental change to this country, it is unlikely that Obama is interested in compromising with anyone or in introducing the sort of do-nothing but pretend to do something policies like an assault rifle or high capacity magazine ban. Obama can take pride in the fact that he achieved the long standing Democratic goal of socializing health care in his first term and I don’t doubt that he would like to be the one who achieved comprehensive gun control in his second term.
What this means is that that President Obama is going to try to enact the most sweeping and draconian gun control measures that he can get away with. If he cannot get what he wants through legislative action, he is perfectly prepared to issue executive orders. Nor is Obama reluctant to get into a confrontation with gun rights groups such as the NRA. Indeed, he seems to be deliberately provoking gun owners. Obama has shown a preference for attacking and demonizing people who oppose his policies, rather than working with them in the past. Since he can count on the support of the main stream media in labeling his opponents as unreasonable extremists, he has a record of winning these confrontations and forcing his opponents to back down. In this way, Obama has often got everything he has wanted rather than having to settle for only a portion. Of course, this has embittered his opponents and cause more division and polarization in the country, but I don’t think Obama minds that at all.
I think, then, that we can expect sweeping and unprecedented gun control proposals to come out of Biden’s task force. We can expect continuing demonization of gun owners as crazed extremists in the media and the NRA getting the full Alinsky treatment. Don’t be too surprised if major retailers such as WalMart “voluntarily” remove objectionable firearms from their shelves. We are in for some interesting times ahead.
The Inheritance of Rome by Chris Wickham is the second book in the series the Penguin History of Europe, following The Birth of Classical Europe. Like the earlier book, The Inheritance of Rome is more concerned with the uses the people of the era made of their understanding of the past than with giving a straightforward chronology of the era. In other words, this book deals with the inheritance the Roman Empire bequeathed to the peoples living in the centuries after its collapse in the West. These peoples, whether of the post Roman kingdoms of Western Europe, the Roman remnant of the Byzantine Empire in the East, or the Islamic invaders made differing uses of the institutions and cultural norms left behind by the Romans, each society adapting Roman ways to their particular needs.
The Inheritance of Rome covers the centuries between 400 and 1000. While these endpoints may seem somewhat arbitrary, in neither case do they indicate any sort of sharp division, they nevertheless are appropriate as the endpoints for the transformation of Europe from a continent dominated by a centralized empire to the decentralized, feudal Europe of the Central Middle Ages. At the beginning of this period, the Roman Empire was still the same empire that had existed for centuries. No one could have guessed that the western half of the empire would soon be overrun by invaders within 80 years would be gone. For centuries afterwards, no one quite believed that the Roman Empire had actually passed away and much of the history of the Early Middle Ages is the history of trying to restore the Empire, culminating in the great Carolingian project.
The Carolingians very consciously made use of the rhetoric of restoration in their policies. They sought to create a universal Christian Empire and were, at least in theory, concerned with the souls of their subjects as much as their lives. The project failed in the end when the Carolingian dynasty died out. The Ottonians tried to continue this legacy, but Europe, under attack from Vikings, Arabs, and others was less inclined to see itself as a whole towards the end of this period. In fact, starting in the middle tenth century, we can begin to speak of the modern nations of Europe, France, Germany, etc. Europe was beginning to grow beyond the inheritance of Rome.
The period covered in this book is often referred to as the Dark Ages. Wickham deals with this question through his book. On the one hand, the era was not nearly as dark as is sometimes supposed. There were some strong continuities between the society and institutions of the Roman Empire and the post-Roman polities that succeeded it. The Germans invaders did not simply sweep away Roman institutions and customs, but were rather, eager to adopt Romans ways. On the other hand, Wickham describes a clear simplification and localization of the economies of the entire region, particularly in the centuries of the worst crises, about 500-700. There was a step backwards for much of the region for which the reasons are not entirely known.
The Inheritance of Rome is an excellent way to learn about an interesting and important period of our past.
Yesterday, I suggested that right now might be a good time to invest in gun stocks. It may be that I was premature. The anti-gun zealots are not going to be content with regulating what sorts of firearms the peasants can own. They also seem to want to put gun manufacturers out of business, or at least to try to shun them. From cnsnews.
Bank of America has reportedly frozen the account of gun manufacturer American Spirit Arms, according to its owner, Joe Sirochman.
In a Facebook post dated December 29, Sirochman wrote the following:
“My name is Joe Sirochman owner of American Spirit Arms…our Web site orders have jumped 500 percent causing our Web site e-commerce processing larger deposits to Bank of America. So they decided to hold the deposits for further review.
“After countless hours on the phone with Bank of America, I finally got a manager in the right department that told me the reason that the deposits were on hold for further review — her exact words were — ‘We believe you should not be selling guns and parts on the Internet.’”(emphasis added)
Sirochman also wrote that he told the bank manager that “they have no right to make up their own new rules and regs” and that “[American Spirit is a] firearms manufacturer with all the proper licensing.”
He also noted that he has been doing business with Bank of America for over 10 years, but will now be looking for a new bank.
According to Unlawful News, this isn’t the first time Bank of America has targeted a customer involved in the firearms industry.
McMillan Group International was reportedly told that its business was no longer welcome after the company started manufacturing firearms – even after 12 years of doing business with the bank.
I guess the idea is to imply that anyone having anything to do with guns is somehow disreputable. They are playing a long game with this.
In an authoritative and dynamic open letter written by David Green, the openly religious Christian CEO of Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts company with 525 stores, Green indicts the Obama Administration for its war on religion and his company’s decision to file suit against the HHS mandate that discriminates against the religious. Hobby Lobby is a remarkable company; it started as a miniature picture frames business located in Green’s garage in 1970, now has stores all across the nation, and carries no long-term debt.
Green, fed up with the HHS mandate that threatens the Christian way he does business, minced no words. The text of the letter follows:
When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God‘s word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.
We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.
Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.
So, Hobby Lobby – and my family – are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.
My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American – and no American business – should have to make.
Sincerely, David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
The threats and bullying by the Obama Administration against those of religious faith continue apace. But those of us who honor faith know that we will fight back: the pendulum will surely turn.
Do you begin to see a pattern here? Businessmen who wish to run their businesses by Christian principles, whether it be Hobby Lobby, Chick-Fil-A or hospitals run by the Catholic Church, are being singled out for harassment because they hold their principles to be of greater importance than the dictates of the state. In other words, they are rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Unfortunately, that is not good enough for our modern Caesars. They demand our sole loyalty and hate and detest anything that might come in the way; churches, businesses, families. It is bad enough that these people are entrepeneurs and do not rely on the state for direction. Now they insist on following their own conscience.
I think the following quotes will give a good idea what our Caesars are really after.
Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State, which is the conscience and universal will of man in his historical existence. It is opposed to classical Liberalism, which arose from the necessity of reacting against absolutism, and which brought its historical purpose to an end when the State was transformed into the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual. And if liberty is to be the attribute of the real man, and not of that abstract puppet envisaged by individualistic Liberalism, Fascism is for liberty. And for the only liberty which can be a real thing, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State. Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value,-outside the State. In this sense Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State, the synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops and gives strength to the whole life of the people.
It would seem that President Obama is going to move ahead with some form of gun control policy in the next few months. Now, there are two way in which he could go about this. One would be to meet with Congressional leaders of both parties and even with gun rights advocates such as the NRA and craft legislation that would be acceptable to a broad base of the American public. Such legislation wouldn’t amount to much and would probably have no real effect on gun ownership or gun crimes, but he, or a future Democratic president, could use such legislation as a precedent for the more draconian anti-gun laws they really want. This would be gun control and eventual confiscation by slow degrees, and would have a good chance of succeeding. The other option would be for Obama to propose a series of wide ranging restrictions on gun ownership, which would be certain to arouse opposition in Congress from all the Republicans and many Democrats. He could demonize the NRA and gun owners generally as fiends who want to see children murdered and, when it became obvious that his proposals had little chance of getting through Congress, simply enact as much as he could through executive orders.
Knowing President Obama, which course do you think he will follow? My guess would that he will pursue option two. Obama does not seem to be interested in any sort of incremental action. He wants to be a transformative president. Obamacare could have passed a whole lot more easily as a series of small acts than as the unpopular monstrosity it became, but that is not Obama’s style.
US president Barack Obama is reportedly considering implementing the most comprehensive gun control measures seen in decades.
A task force led by vice-president Joe Biden is reportedly considering wide-ranging proposals going well beyond simply reinstating a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition.
The Washington Post reports that a national data base tracking gun sales, mental health checks, and background checks are all on the table.
And in a move that is set to anger opponents of gun control, the taskforce is reportedly looking at measures that can be implemented by the president’s order without the approval of Congress.
The White House is understood to want swift action while the public remains outraged over the deaths of 20 children and six adults in the Newtown school shooting in Connecticut last month.
Some reports suggest Mr Obama will have the proposals on his table within weeks.
Democrat congressman Chris Van Hollen says any approach the Obama administration takes must be comprehensive.
“The argument against gun safety provisions is always because it doesn’t solve everything we shouldn’t do anything and I don’t subscribe to that,” he said.
“I believe we need a comprehensive approach, we need to look at all the different elements here and just because a particular effort won’t prevent something in one particular incident, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything that might help in other incidents.
“Right now you can be on the terrorist watch list, you can be prevented from boarding an aeroplane, but you can go down the street and buy a semiautomatic assault weapon.”
With the new Congress sworn in just days ago, 10 different bills are already on the table dealing with gun laws separate to Mr Obama’s working group.
So, he is going to move fast and he is not going to pay to much attention to the what the law or constitution says about the matter. Now might be a good time to stock up on ammunition. It is probably a terrific time to invest in gun manufacturers’ stocks. And, if things keep going the way they have been, it might be a good idea to prepare for another Civil War.