Friday, October 25, 2002

It Looks As If the Moscow Standoff Is Coming To A Conclusion
Russian SPETZNATZ units are said to be storming the theatre where Chechen rebels are holding some 600-700 hostages. The Moslem extremists said that they would begin executing hostages at dawn, and have begun doing so. May God protect the innocent.

Requiescat In Pace
British actor Sir Richard Harris died today at the age of 72 in a London hospital. He was born Richard St. John Harris in 1930 in Limerick. He was knighted by the King of Denmark, and was a Knight of Malta. Harris is known for his roles as Dumbledore in the first two (or did they film the third one, too)Harry Potter movies, as King Arthur in Camelot, and as Oliver Cromwell in Cromwell. Other credits include The Field, The Wild Geese, Tarzan, the Ape Man, Gladiator, Unforgiven, Patriot Games, A Man Called Horse, The Bible, Major Dundee, and Mutiny On the Bounty (the Marlon Brando/Trevor Howard version).

"I'm not interested in reputation or immortality or things like that...I don't care what I'm remembered for. I don't care if I'm remembered. I don't care if I'm not remembered. I don't care why I'm remembered. I genuinely don't care."

A hard-drinking and smoking boon companion to Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole in their roistering days, he was known for his craggy-faced prematurely aged visage. He was a very accomplished actor who appeared in a number of excellent movies. He will be missed. Requiescat in pace.

Requiescat In Pace
Minnesota Democrat Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife and one of his daughters died in a plane crash in Minnesota. Wellstone was described as the first 1960s radical to be elected to the US Senate. He was in a tight re-election fight with Republican Norm Coleman, former Mayor of St. Paul. It is not clear what will happen regarding a replacement for a lame duck session, or for the election. Democrats will presumably get someone on the ballot. Requiescat in pace.

Upon Saint Crispin's Day!
From Shakespeare's Henry V, Act IV, Scene 3, on the field of Agincourt before the battle, as the English nobles are figuring out they are outnumbered 5-1 by the French.

O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Henry won an historic victory. And his army lost relatively few men. Read John Keegan's The Face of Battle for more details on the battle of Agincourt.

The Sniper's Partner Was An Illegal Alien
At National Review On Line, Michelle Malkin reports on the disgraceful failure of the INS to hold John Lee Malvo, who was picked up as an illegal alien last year and released by the INS. Someone in the Seattle INS ought to lose his or her job, and pension, over this one.

Still Under the Weather
Today will be a another very light blogging day, as I'm still suffering fever, headache, aches & pains, and lack of concentration. I'll need what energy I can muster for my financial report, which is what pays the bills. At least the worst symptoms are behind me.

Monsignor George Coleman Elected Administrator of Fall River Diocese
Monsignor George Coleman, head of the Fall River Curia and vice chancellor of the diocese, has been elected temporary administrator of the Diocese of Fall River until a new bishop is named. Bishop Sean O'Malley did a splendid job cleaning up the Father Porter mess, and was named to be ordinary of the Palm Beach Diocese, following the resignation of two consecutive bishops on the grounds of buggery.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Very Interesting
WBZ Radio, quoting the Seattle Times, is reporting that John Allen Muhammed is a black US veteran who converted to Islam, and is sympathetic to the al Qaeda network and the September 11th hijackers, though not a member of it as far as is currently known.

An Angry Op-Ed
The Washington Times today carries an angry op-ed by Paul Steidler and Mark Serrano of SNAP, which accuses the Vatican of not caring about victims of pervert priests.

Their approach is not at all nuanced. If I were feeling better, I'd have something more to say about it.

Suffice it to say that I am tired of being lectured about the Church by disordered know-nothings with axes to grind. Yes, get rid of the pervert priests and the support network that has sustained them, even if that means a dozen or more bishops must resign and the staffs of every diocese and seminary in the country need to be decimated (or worse; decimation literally means getting rid of 1/10, and I think more like 2 or 3 out of every 10 need to go, in some places maybe 4 in 10). Yes the victims should receive counseling on the Church's dime. But let us not forget that the perverts picked them because they were damaged goods to begin with, boys from broken homes, with drug or alcohol problems, struggling with homosexuality, abused, etc. So their futures were not necessarily bright to begin with. Perverts usually don't single out the children of established intact families with a little power or influence (there are exceptions, of course). That is too dangerous. All of the ills the victims have suffered in life are not the fault of the Church. The fault, dear victims, lies not in the Church, but in yourselves and your families, if you are losers. Of course the Church has deep pockets, and some collective culpability. But pouring huge amounts of cash into the outstretched hands of the victims and their lawyers as winners of the pervert priest lottery has always struck me as inappropriate.

As to the question of the Vatican, it took a badly designed policy that the American bishops drafted in haste, and said no to it. It quickly formed a new commission, in which the Curial figures probably will take the lead to draft a new policy. It is important to point out that, if the local bishop is doing his job properly, the national policy is irrelevant. Once he knows about a pervert, he will begin the de-frocking process promptly.

Most importantly, the Holy Father is issuing a new set of instructions to the American bishops directing them to exclude homosexuals from admission to the seminary. That is the long-term solution that will eliminate 85% of these cases in the future. It is much more important than anything the US bishops have officially adopted. Not only does the Vatican care about the problem, it is the only one taking steps to genuinely put this sorry episode behind us.

So, the victims, who indeed have been wronged, but by the American Church, not by the Vatican, ought to suck it up, try the stiff upper lip thing, and get on with their lives. There is much more to the Faith than the actions of any priest, bishop, or entire hierarchy and clerisy can possibly detract from.

Two men, identified as John Allen Muhammed, aka John Allen Williams and his step-son John Lee Malvo, both of whom are originally from the Washington state area, were arrested at 3:19 this morning at a Maryland rest stop. They were sleeping in a car that matches the description of one of the cars sought in connection with the sniper case. We don't know if this is the sniper or not yet. A warrant for Muhammed was issued last night in connection with the case. I'm sure we are all praying that this scourge has been ended, but it is too early to know for sure.

Light Blogging Likely
I'm a little under the weather this morning. If this continues, it will be a light blogging day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Al Qaeda's Chechen Allies Take Moscow Audience Hostage
Al Qaeda and its local allies continue their fall offensive. This one, though, is pretty bizarre.

Requiescat In Pace
Elizabeth Countess Longford, who wrote the excellent two-part biography of the Duke of Wellington, Wellington: Years of the Sword, and Wellington: Years of State, died today at the age of 96. Her husband Lord Longford died last year at the age of 95. Their daughter is historian Lady Antonia Fraser. Requiescat in pace.

Who Will Draft the US Abuse Policy
The Vatican has named US and Curial members of the commission that will draft or re-work the policy on pervert priests. The Americans are Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill, and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT. The Curial figures are Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Congregation for Clergy, Monsignor Julian Herranz, leader of the Council for Legislative Texts, Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Monsignor Francesco Monterisi, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.

It is nice to see that a protege (presumably) of Cardinal Ratzinger is on the committee. But the Americans are fairly unpromising material at first glance. They are loyal and orthodox enough, but not outstanding. I suppose if American bishops need to be on the panel (and there would be a revolt if the four Americans were Chaput, Bruskewitz, Dulles, and Timlin), these will do.

Let us hope that the commission is just for show, and that the Vatican has already drafted the appropriate plan. It is conceivable that the long delay in "considering" the US bishops' proposal was because alternatives were floating around the Vatican.

They Chose Freedom Over Slavery
A Cuban priest reflects, in comments carried by Zenit, on why 23 Cubans in Canada for World Youth Day decided not to go back to Castro's Caribbean Gulag.

"And it lets them know that what they did, even when they thought that they had reasons to do so, is not what is done and cannot be applauded. They should have thought about many other things."

Like not injuring Comrade Fidel's prestige by escaping his island prison? This guy is either a mouthpiece for the bloody communist tyranny there, or a fool of the highest order.

Freaking Even Hearty New England Yankees Out
It is still snowing.

Al Qaeda Opens A New Front, Or Just Young Jerks?
On Monday, denial of service attacks knocked out 7 of the 13 main servers that process Internet traffic. This was the most sophisticated and large scale assault on the root servers that serve as the backbone of the Internet in history. The attack lasted an hour. One wonders if it was only a test for an even more comprehensive attack. The damage was controlled by the companies that maintain the root servers. Most users did not even notice the disruption caused by the attack.

Your Children Are Not Safe (From Liberals) Anywhere, Anytime
Edgar B. Anderson, writing in FrontPage Magazine, takes a long, hard look at two grade school literature texts, and finds them absolutely riddled with anti-Americanism and multicultural claptrap of the worst kind. Indoctrination begins quite early these days. These two text books, and the educationoids who thrust them upon children, are powerful arguments for home-schooling using old texts.

The Battle To Keep Spanish-Only ("Bilingual") Education
TownHall.com carries Linda Chavez' column on the desperate crusade of the left to keep Spanish-only education for Hispanic children in Colorado (and here in Massachusetts, too). The tactics are getting ugly, including intimidation, violence, destruction of property, and a nasty $3 million advertising campaign. Linda has experienced it all before herself. That is why she is a conservative.

David Limbaugh Has Two Good Ones Today
Columnist (and brother of talk radio's Sublime High Mightiness) David Limbaugh has two excellent columns available today. TownHall.comcarries his column on the New Jersey Educational Association's revocation of its invitation to the New Jersey Coalition for Abstinence Education to present a workshop at the NJEA's convention. Meanwhile, the Washington Times carries his column on the chilling ability of the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches whose pastors preach their politics from the pulpit.

AG Reilly Says Archdiocese Is Still Withholding Information
Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly told reporters that the Archdiocese of Boston is fighting tooth and nail to withhold every scrap of information sought by the AG's office. The Archdiocese has not been prosecuted only because the laws that were enacted last year requiring reporting of abuse of children cannot apply to past actions. He also took a shot at the Vatican's rejection of the US bishops' pervert priest policy:

``I think that canon law is irrelevant when it comes to crimes against children,'' he said. ``I don't care about canon law. They can talk about canon law until the cows come home.''

It is not easy for faithful Catholics to think of the local branch of the Church being operated as a criminal enterprise. But that is just what has been going on for a long time. To restore the confidence of Catholics, the Archdiocese needs to do more than mouth platitudes. It needs to be committed to cleaning house. Part of that is full, complete, and immediate cooperation with prosecutors trying to get a comprehensive picture of the extent to which the Lavender Mafia still controls the bureacracy and priesthood of Boston. Stonewalling and Clintonian stalls are what got us here in the first place.

Oh My!
I just glanced out my window, to see that it is snowing! It won't amount to anything, and does not mean that we are necessarily going to have a hard winter. It snowed about this time last year, and preceeded an amazingly mild and snowless winter. But it is unnerving to see snow this early, when most of the trees have not even turned yet, and the air conditioners are still in the windows.

Blessed Marie Clothilde and the Ursulines of Valenciennes
Today the Church honors more holy women martyred by the Jacobins. These Ursuline nuns, led by Mother Marie Clothilde, taught at Valenciennes, until deprived of the right to teach in August, 1792. In September they were ordered by the revolutionaries to vacate their convent and given passports to go to Belgium, then held by the Austrians. In November of 1793 Valenciennes fell to the Austrians, and the Ursulines returned in their baggage wagons to resume the job of teaching. At Valenciennes, they were joined by two Brigittines and a Poor Clare who had been deprived of their convents by the revolutionaries.

In August, 1794, the Austrians pulled out of Valenciennes, and the revolutionaries resumed control. The Ursulines were at first confined to the convent. Two-thirds were able to escape. But eleven, including Mother Marie Clothilde, remained, to face the guillotine. They were executed in two groups, on October 17, and 23rd. All died courageously for the Faith, happy they proclaimed, to teach the "Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion."

Requiescat In Pace
I just read that Derek Bell, the long-time harpist for the Chieftans, died last week after minor surgery here in the States at the age of 67. Bell was a highly skilled and classically trained musician who performed with several orchestras. He has solo harp albums on the market. But he will be remembered best as a mainstay of the group that did more than any other, with the possible exception of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, to popularize Irish music. An obituary appears here. Ireland has lost one of her greatest musical performers. Fans of Irish music have good reason to mourn. Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Focus On the Academy
Today, FrontPage Magazine concentrates its efforts mostly on issues concerning the leftist environment of the nation's colleges and universities. John J. Ray discusses the intellectual legacy of fascism for the left. Jennifer Sutcliffe and Andrew Ackerman report that a David Horowitz speech at Emory is causing lefties to have conniption fits. David Horowitz himself reports on the censoring of an ad he submitted to the Emory campus newspaper in response to the controversy. Dan Flynn talks about the anti-American attitudes prevalent in most universities.

The Sniper Again?
A man was shot in the chest at 6:00 this morning while he waited at a bus stop in suburban Washington. The Ponderosa killing put to rest the theory that there would be no more shootings, because the sniper had sent a message of 9 killed in 11 shootings (9/11). Also, this shooting was back closer to D.C., after recent shootings tended to draw attention further away from the capital. That is an interesting tactic which tends to support the view that this bastard has had some sort of military training.

Meanwhile, Mona Charen, courtesy of TownHall.com, tells us what it has been like living in suburban DC during all of this.

More Brazilian Bishops Visit the Pope
As we have come to expect, when Brazilian bishops have had audiences with the Holy Father lately, the Holy Father has had something very important to say , not just for the Church in Brazil, but for the Church in the US as well. Zenit reports that this time the Holy Father urged the bishops to couple charitable works with preaching the Gospel. "It is not an act of charity to feed the poor or visit the suffering by taking human resources to them but not communicating to them the Word that saves." He urged the bishops to look beyond mere political goals and circumstances ( a rebuke to the political activism of much of the clergy caught up in the "social Gospel) to preach the Gospel above all. The bishops have a three-fold duty to teach, santify, and govern. Most important of all, it is their task to invite their people to "accept in all its fullness the teaching of the Church in regard to matters of faith and morals." With regard to sanctification, the Holy Father urged more concentration on baptism and the Eucharist.

All of this applies to us here, as well. One hopes the people at Catholic Charities heard what he had to say about the necessity of Catholic teaching as an accompaniment to charitable works. Politically active priests and bishops needed to hear what he had to say about putting the preaching of the Gospel above mere politics. And priests, liturgists, and church architects needed to hear what he said about making the Eucharist central to Christian life. I am sure that the Church in Brazil needs particular guidance. But their problems differ only in degree from ours. If only he would say this directly to an American Catholic audience, and they took it to heart.

A Little Frost On the Pumpkin
At 5:30 this morning, it was 34 degrees here in Salem, after aclear night with radiational cooling. A little further inland, it was colder, bringing the first frost to most of Eastern Massachusetts under a full Hunter's Moon.

More Details On the Ossuary of "James"
The Washington Times carries more details today on the discovery of the ossuary of "James, son of Joseph, and brother of Jesus." It is worth pointing out that in Aramaic, "brother" has several meanings including cousin or kinsman. Assuming that we are talking about the Holy Family here, which is a really big assumption, and one I am not willing to make at this point, and that the ossuary is absolutely genuine (again, who knows?) it could mean nothing more than that Joseph had children before he married Mary. Church teaching is silent on the life of St. Joseph before he became betrothed to the Blessed Mother. We only know that he was a righteous man. We are not told if he had been married before and had sons.

This is an interesting artifact. But is not needed to "prove" the existence of Jesus. Without the New Testament, there are six textual or archeological contemporary references to Him, making Him one of the best-documented personalities of first century Palestine.

Nor is there anything here that in any way calls into question the traditional teachings of the Church regarding the Holy Family.

Father Desilets Arrested
Father Paul Desilets, wanted for abusing 18 altar boys between 1978 and 1984 at Our Lady of the Assumption parish in Bellingham (Worcester Diocese) has been arrested in Quebec, and will be extradicted to Massachusetts. The clock stopped on the statute of limitations because Desilets left Massachusetts in 1984 for Canada. The Boston Globe has more details here.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Fascinating If Not a Hoax

A Chocolate Fest In Perugia Sounds Like More Fun Than Halloween in Salem

Monsignor Ryan Admitted to Abusing Three Minors
Monsignor Frederick Ryan, former Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Boston admitted to friend and former Boston Bruin Chris Nilan that he abused three minors twenty years ago, and maintained a sexual relationship with one of them until three years ago. Nilan was deposed in litigation against Ryan and the Archdiocese back in June. This is the case where one of the plaintiffs drove past Ryan's current residence, and was intercepted by police. Ryan has been under suspension since March. The Boston Globe has more details here.

Our Prayers For the Shaidle Family
Kathy Shaidle of Relapsed Catholic lost her mother today. May the Lord bring peace and comfort for the Shaidle family, and the repose of the soul of Mrs. Coffell.

Russell Crowe As Jack Aubrey?
I just read that a Patrick O'Brian film, variously known as Master and Commander and The Far Side of the World (it does make a difference, M&C is the first in the series, FSOTW is the 10th, but my favorite) is wrapping up filming and should be out next year. Like any Patrick O'Brian fan, I'm salivating at the prospect. But the surly Russell Crowe as jovial Lucky Jack Aubrey? I had Last of the Mohicansand Ivanhoe'sSteven Waddington in mind. Paul Bettany, who plays Stephen Maturin, starred in Sharpe's Waterloo as The Young Frog, and in the dreadful The Knight's Tale as Chaucer. Thin enough, yes, but blonde, where Stephen is supposed to be dark, and probably too handsome (Stephen is usually described as ugly). And then there is the height thing. Crowe is said to be 5'11, Jack is supposed to be well over 6'. Stephen is supposed to be small, Bettany is 6'3".

Here are some ideal casting notions I've had over the years for any Aubrey/Maturin movies:

Steven Waddington (Jack Aubrey)
Richard E. Grant (A&E's The Scarlet Pimpernel) (Stephen Maturin)
Pete Postelthwaite (Preserved Killick)
the late David Wayne or Patrick Stewart (Admiral Harte)
Janine Turner or a younger Diana Quick (Diana Villiers/Maturin)
Jamie Bamber (Archie Kennedy in Hornblower) (Tom Pullings)
Lady Alison Steadman (Mrs. Bennett in the 1995 A&E Pride & Prejudice)(Mrs. Williams)
Benjamin Whitrow (Mr Bennett in P&P and Squire Allworthy in Tom Jones) (Admiral Lord Keith)
Sir Derek Jacobi (Sir Joseph Blaine)
Joss Ackland (Admiral Earl St. Vincent)
Nigel Havers (Captain Heneage Dundas)
Sean Gilder (Styles in Hornblower) (Barrett Bonden)

I'm open on who would be the perfect young Midshipman Babington, and Sophia Williams/Aubrey. A not-particularly attractive older teenager would do for Babington (something like a very young version of Hugh Grant), and a young blonde with a very ample chest is needed for Sophia. Fifteen years ago, the actress who played Dot Clapton in Rumpole would have done nicely, but she is too old now.

Interestingly, O'Brian was very much disconnected from Hollywood. He initally sold the movie rights to Disney, which would have made absolute hash of the project, and disappointed Aubrey/Maturin fans for a generation. Thank heavens that deal fell through. When O'Brian met Charlton Heston in the late 1980s, he thought he would make an excellent Jack Aubrey. Heston was at the time in his early 60s. The novels start with a roughly 27-28 year old Jack Aubrey.

I have a feeling the cast will include no one familiar to most of us, other than Crowe. It will be interesting to see how badly Hollywood mangles the storyline. Time to start a re-read of the series. It's only 20 volumes. I might finish before the movie comes out.

All You Need To Know About Weekend Sports
The seemingly hapless Patriots were off this weekend. BC clobbered Navy. Two teams from the Left Coast are in the World Series. I think they are tied 1-1.

Palestinian Barbarian Outrage Du Jour
A bus in Northern Israel has exploded, injuring at least 20. No word on fatalities yet. Just keep telling yourself, Islam is a religion of peace.

Update: There were fatalities. At least 13 civilized people going about their business were murdered by the barbarians. It was a car bomb that exploded as the bus came along side, not a suicide bombing.

Very Odd Things Going on Regarding the Sniper
One wonders if he is demanding ransom to not shoot again. There is so little good information being released, that it is very difficult to comment on this intelligently.

Day of Glory
In 1805 on this date, the British fleet under the command of Admiral Horatio Viscount Nelson decisively defeated a combined French-Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar. The victory set the tone for the remaining ten years of the wars with Bonaparte, with Britannia ruling the waves, and Napoleonic France supreme (more or less) on the Continent. Bonaparte's threat to invade England was smashed at Trafalgar.

At the end of September 1805, Bonaparte marched off his army, which had been cantoned on the Channel ports waiting for a favorable wind and control of the seas to invade England, to fight the Austrians (this was the campaign when he beat them and the Russians at Austerlitz in December, which meant the end of the Holy Roman Empire). Part of Bonaparte's reason for abruptly turning to deal with the Austrains was that he lacked confidence in the commander of the Combined Fleet, Admiral Pierre Charles Villeneuve's ability to ever get control of the Channel. Currently blockaded in Cadiz by Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood's squadron after a fruitless chase across the Atlantic and back, Villeneuve knew he had to do something to regain the Emporer's confidence.

On the morning of October 19th, after a storm, the Combined Fleet of 33 ships of the line, including the massive Spanish Santissima Trinidad of 130 guns, began to slip out of Cadiz. Lord Nelson had joined Collingwood now with his squadron, his flag flying from HMS Victory a 102-gun first rate launched in the Year of Victory, 1759, but laid up until the crisis of the American Revolution.

Nelson had long planned for a general engagement with an enemy fleet. He planned to ignore the prevailing tactic of fighting in line ahead, with ships of the line sailing one behind the other with their broadsides to the enemy, who would be doing the same thing. Such tactics produced only stalemates. Nelson planned to sail his ships through the enemy line, raking the ships on either side with his own broadsides and creating a general melee. The enemy fleet strung out in a long line would find only two-thirds of its strength fighting the entire British fleet. By the time the rest of the enemy fleet could come up to aid its comrades, it would be too late. "It will surpise and confound the enemy."

Early on the 21st, the two fleets maneouvred for position and to gain the weather gauge, but the Combined Fleet was clumsy in its movements due to poor seamanship and training. Nelson's 27 ships had the advantage of the wind, better seamanship and training. Nelson, ever the showman, paced the quarterdeck of Victory with all the medals he had won in his previous victories at Teneriffe, the Nile, and Copenhagen on his coat. He signaled the fleet, "England expects every man to do his duty." He followed it up with the signal to Engage the Enemy More Closely, his favorite signal. The men of the fleet cheered loudly enough to be clearly heard aboard the ships of the Combined Fleet. Aboard the Spanish ships, many were busy receiving Extreme Unction.

Admiral Collingwood (whose first important action had been ferrying Howe's redcoats from Boston to Charlestown for the Battle of Bunker Hill) in the massive HMS Royal Sovereign took the lead, holding his fire until his broaside was between the Spaniard Santa Ana and the Frenchman Fougueux. As Royal Sovereign squared off with Santa Ana, Collingwood calmly munched on an apple while pacing the quarterdeck. Nelson's flag captain, Hardy, asked if it might be better to wear undress rather than full dress, as the decorations would surely single Nelson out for attention from enemy sharpshooters in the rigging. Nelson, with an eye patch and missing an arm, as well as being a slight man in a service filled with large ones, stood out anyway. Nelson said it was too late to be shifting his coat.

Victory and the ships of Nelson's sqaudron did just as much damage as Collingwood's ships. Nelson broke the enemy line between the Redoutable, whose captain Lucas had vigorously trained his men for sharphooting, and even equipped some with rifles for the purpose, and the flagship Bucentaure. Just as Nelson had predicted, his ships were closing on their chosen adversaries, while the remainder of the Combined Fleet was having difficulty coming to their comrades' aid.

But Lucas brought his 74-gun Redoutable alongside Victory, and clawed her with everything at his disposal. His sharpshooters were firing at the upper deck of the Victory from a mere 50 feet. And every one of his sailors knew who the little one-armed man on the Victory's quarterdeck was. The medals on his chest made Nelson an excellent target.

A few minutes later, Nelson was brought down to the orlop deck, with a musket ball lodged in his spine. He could feel a gush of blood every time he took a breath. He had no feeling in the lower part of his body. He said that he had felt the ball break his back.

Lucas' men had managed to litter the upper deck of Victory with dead and wounded, and almost succeeded in boarding her. Then another British ship, HMS Temeraire (as the name implies, she had been captured from the French) came up, and gave Redoutable a heavy broadside. Then a French ship, Fougaux, joined the tangle. Victory was also still firing on Bucentaure and on Santissima Trinidad.

The battle as a whole was going according to Nelson's plan. Collingwood's 15 ships captured or sank 12 of the 16 enemy ships they engaged. Unaccountably the first seven French ships continued on a northly course away from the battle.

Nelson, meanwhile, below decks on Victory, was dying. Hardy came down to report that he could count 14 or 15 surrendered enemy ships. Nelson managed, "That is well, but I bargained for 20." A few minutes later, after kissing Hardy goodbye, he whispered, "Thank God I have done my duty." He breathed his last shortly afterwards.

Losses were lopsided in the British favor. They lost 1,600 killed or wounded. The Spanish had 1000 dead, and about 1,400 wounded. The French did not report their losses, but had about 3,000 dead and at least 1,100 wounded. Over 8,000 French and Spanish sailors were captured.

With Collingwood in command now, British crews worked frantically to rescue wounded adversaries from ships in danger of sinking. A powerful storm threatened the lives of all. The Santissima Trinidad, with a crew of more than 1,100, had been ganged-up on by a half dozen British ships. Half her crew were lost. A cat who had taken shelter in a gun barrel was the last rescued from that ship. A dog lowered overboard had stayed on a ledge of HMS Conqueror throughout the battle, exposed to cannnon and musket fire throughout. Aside from being in understandable shock, the dog was fine. In the week-long storm that battered the survivors, many damaged ships went down. Many men wounded in the battle died due to the rough handling of nature.

Nelson was placed in a barrel of spirits, and brought to England for burial (he did not wish to be buried at sea). It was December 22nd before the badly damaged Victory reached Portsmouth. He was given a magnificent state funeral.

Bonaparte reported to the French people only that "some ships were lost in a gale after an imprudent engagement." Villeneuve committed suicide the next year after being exchanged. French naval power was broken (though the blockaded remnants of the fleet grew to an even larger size by the time Bonaparte abdicated). Never again could Bonaparte seriously contemplate an invasion of England. Britannia indeed ruled the waves, and would for more than a century to come.

Take a virtual tour of HMS Victory here. Here is an excellent tribute to Lord Nelson. For more of the flavor of naval warfare of the time, visit the official Patrick O'Brian site, or the better unofficial site by Gibbons Burke. You could spend a day in the links alone.

A glass of wine tonight to the immortal memory.

I Don't Think Al Qaeda Would Leave Notes
If the Metro-DC sniper is indeed leaving notes to the police, I think that limits the possibility that he is al Qaeda. He is probably a domestic nutter.

The House of Lords: Bulwark of Traditional Morality?
The British House of Lords rejected the Government's bill to allow gay and lesbian "couples" to adopt children. The vote was 196-162, with only life peers able to vote now.

This was the third time since Labor came to power in 1997 that the Lords have opposed the government on gay rights. They blocked attempts to scrap Section 28, which bans schools from promoting gay lifestyles. They also rejected plans to lower the age of homosexual consent to 16, but the government forced it through by using the Parliament Act.

EWTN has more details.

No Female Deacons
EWTN reports that the International Theological Commission is not going to leave the door to female deacons open. No opening for the ordination of women as deacons is possible, according to Father Georges Cottier, the ITC's secretary. Agreed. Let us not venture down another slippery slope.

The Limitations of Labels
FrontPage Magazine carries J.P. Zmirak's look at the imprecision of political labels, and the strange bedfellows general characterizations cause. He uses an interesting metaphor of trying to politically peg national cuisines, calling Japanese leftist, and French rightist.

But surely good old English food is to the right of French comestibles, at least in the American context. All that we are that really counts comes from Britain/Ireland (any doubt of that, read David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four English Folkways In America). France is an alien interloper (and sometime ally), in the American way of life. Nothing could be more rightist than preferring to eat as our great-great-great-great-great grandfathers did.

NARAL's Power Grab
Maggie Gallagher, carried in TownHall.com, notes NARAL's drive to force all hospitals, including (especially?) Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. Will NARAL only be happy when every single American woman has had an abortion? Rush Limbaugh used to say that feminism had become a religion, and abortion is its primary sacrament. He was, of course, absolutely correct.

Peggy Noonan On the Rosary
Peggy Noonan had a splendid column on the new Luminous Mysteries, with which I heartily agree. As I've said here, it seemed to me, too, that something was missing from the Rosary before they were added.

Compromise Keeps USS Constitution Open
Apparently, the Navy won on the bus/security issue. The funding for the security is yet to be allocated. USS Constitution was launched on this date in 1797.

US Priests Not Happy With the Bishops
A majority of US priest believe that the national sex abuse policy is too soft on offending bishops, according to a Los Angelese Times poll, picked up by the Boston Globe here. The poll finds that many priests share the Vatican's expressed concern over the lack of due process rights for accused priests. A majority of priests believe the bishops have been too lax in disciplining pervert priests, and that genuine abuse has gone essentially unpunished.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Al Qaeda's Philippine Local Working Overtime
Abu Sayyaf has exploded a bomb near a Philippine Catholic church, killing one.

Six New Blesseds

By the Pricking of My Thumbs/ Something Wicked This Way Comes
First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren't rare. But there be good and bad, as the pirates say. Take September, a bad month: school begins. Consider August, a good month: school hasn't begun yet. July, well, July's really fine: there's no chance in the world for school. June, no doubting it, June's best of all, for the school doors spring wide and September's a billion years away.

But you take October, now. School's been on a month and you're riding easier in the reins, jogging along. You got time to think of the garbage you'll dump on old man Prickett's porch, or the hairy ape costume you'll wear to the YMCA on the last night of the month. And if it's around October twentieth and everything smoky smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight, it seems Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bedsheets around corners.

From the Prologue to Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, published in 1962.

I just happened to remember that it is October 20th. Who can't remember feeling that way as a child?

Ray Bradbury is a prime example of what Robert Locke meant in his conservative theory of art, which I blogged about a week or so ago. He is very much a modern. But his work is not imbued with modernism. Modernity without modernism. Others achieve the same plateau of excellence: Tolkien, Lewis, Frost, O'Brian, Wodehouse, Waugh, Faulkner, Wolfe, maybe Rowling. Their stuff will stand the test of time.

A Feast Of Our Own
This occasional feature focusing on food appears on weekends at Verus Ratio when I am in the mood for it.

Now that we are done with apple picking, here is something to do with all those apples. Mincemeat is one of the best ways to make use of apples, and preserve meat, which was a necessity in the days before refrigeration. Make your mincemeat now, before the holiday rush, and freeze it in gallon-sized Ziplocs. If you double-bag the mincemeat, it should keep in the fridge for many months. At Thankgiving and Christmas, nothing says "home" like a warm mincemeat pie.

This pie was actually outlawed in New England during the Puritan days, as it is a symbol of Christmas, the celebration of which was also against the law. The pie has been variously known as Neat's Pie, Shrid Pie, Christmas Pie, Mutton Pie, and of course, Mince Pie (which was more or less common by the end of the 18th century). As a staple of English and Irish cuisine, it dates back to medieval times at least.

Little Jack Horner's Christmas Pie, was, of course, mincemeat. The plumb (plumbs are not in mince pie, or in plum or figgy pudding, or fruitcake, and neither are figs; "plumb" and "fig" are regional English words for raisin) he pulled out with his thumb was, in fact the deed to a plundered parcel of Church property, the deed to which, along with many others, was inserted into a huge Christmas Pie to be delivered, by Horner, to Henry VIII. Somehow, the property found its way into the possession of Horner, rather than Henry.

I am a firm believer that the better the quality of the ingredients you use, the better the finished product will taste. That is why I use sirloin tips rather than suet or stew beef. This recipe will make many pies. If there is a lot of liquid, drain it off and freeze it separately, as it can be served by itself either hot or cold as plum porridge. I suspect that the extra liquid from making mince pie was how that soup got started. Eat the plum porridge in small amounts, as even I would say it is very, very rich.

10 cups chopped apples, preferably freshly picked
4 cups diced sirloin tip meat
2 cups of beef stock
2 cups of fresh sweet apple cider
8 cups of sugar
1 cup of molasses
3 tablespoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of ground cloves
4 lemons, rind and juice
3 tablespoons of salt
3 pounds of seedless raisins
1 pound of currants
1/2 pound of citron
1/4 pound candied or fresh orange rind
1/4 pound candied or fresh lemon rind
1 cup brandy (don't use "cooking brandy")
1 cup Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum

at pie-making time

orange flower water to taste
brandy to taste
Captain Morgan's to taste
freshly ground nutmeg
cinnamon-sugar to taste (No, your teeth will not fall out, at least not right away.)

Chop the apples and beef finely and place in a large pot with all the remaining measured ingredients. Simmer slowly for up to three hours, stirring every few minutes. The aroma is incredible, and will make the house smell like the holidays in no time.

Once the mincemeat has cooled, drain the excess liquid for plum porridge, and freeze it in a separate container (that won't leak in your freezer). Put the mincemeat into gallon Ziplocs, and freeze.

There should be enough mincemeat for 6-8 mince pies. But the mince pie is so rich, you might want to serve it in tart or individual serving-size pie pans.

When it's time for making the pies, thaw the mincemeat in the refrigerator for a day or two. Make two short crusts for each pie. Line the pie pan with crust. Add the mincemeat. Pour on some orange flower water, Captain Morgan's, and brandy, and a grating of fresh nutmeg to taste. I use fairly liberal doses of all in my mince pies. Put on the top layer of crust, and seal the edges, leaving ventilation slits in the top crust. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees (you may want a drip tray under the pie in the oven), and then for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, but watch the crust carefully.

When the pie is fresh out of the oven, sprinkle the top with a generous portion of cinnamon-sugar. Once baked, the pies keep in the fridge for a week. They taste terrific warm or cold. Vanilla ice cream is great on top.

I Could Not Say It Any Better
Collegue Amy Welborn takes a hard look at a letter supporting abortion signed by three "Catholic" pastors and a seminary professor in Michigan. A first rate dissection of the lame arguments put forward in support of this infamous practice. She even helpfully provides contact numbers for Cardinal Maida, who has already slapped down one pro-abortion priest in support of Granholm.

So Much For the Theory That He Takes Weekends Off

After Apple Picking
For those of you not familiar with Robert Frost, this is a wonderful introduction. "After Apple Picking" was published in his 1914 volume North of Boston. Apple picking is almost done here, with only some late-season ripeners still on the trees. It is very appropriate to this chilly mid-fall day in New England, which we spent planting spring bulbs at our parish garden, while the Halloween madness continued to rage on the street under our windows.

"After Apple Picking"
Robert Frost, North of Boston, 1914

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Did you know that a half bushel of apples, after being peeled, cored, and sliced, and dried from old oak beams for a week, takes up just enough space to fill one Ziploc gallon storage bag? Without going into the deeper meanings Frost intended, I too, am tired of apple picking.

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