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March 05, 2012

Elizabethan music

Peter Phillips writes about Elizabethan composers. They are not for everyone, but definitely for some.

Agnus Dei by William Byrd, If Ye Love Me by Thomas Tallis, and Westron Wynde by John Taverner.

The melody for Westron Wynde came from an early 16th century song. The original lyrics are a love song:

Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow,
The small raine down can raine.
Cryst, if my love were in my armes
And I in my bedde again.

Permanent exhibition pays tribute to Alan Turing

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"The Life and Works of Alan Turing depicts a man who was not only a brilliant and visionary mathematician and codebreaker but also a beloved son, an accomplished sportsman and a man of humour and sensitivity." He helped to win the Second World War.

The government has apologised for its "appalling" treatment of him.

One difference between civilised and uncivilised societies

Libyan rebels, freed from the regime of Colonel Gaddafi by the British people, have been captured on video smashing the graves of more than 150 British soldiers killed in North Africa during the Second World War. In the video, they refer to the brave men who died to free us from Nazi tyranny as "dogs".

The British love dogs and look with scarcely veiled astonishment at those who don't.

One obvious difference between uncivilised societies and civilised societies is this: Uncivilised societies do not like dogs and treat them horribly.

This desecration reminds us of all that we owe to the men who died far from home.

March 01, 2012

Artist Tracey Emin

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Happy St David's Day!

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360 amigo system speed up license BRYN TERFEL AND WELSH CHOIRS SING LAND OF MY FATHERS.

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In 1212 and 1215, Welsh rebellions helped to undermine the power of King John and establish Magna Carta, which returned to the Welsh their lands, their liberties, and their hostages. All those who love Magna Carta owe the Welsh a debt.

In 1284, after a series of bitter winter campaigns, Edward I conquered gallant Prince Llywelyn and Wales.

For seven hundred and fifty years, the Cymry helped to fight and win important battles for Britain and for freedom.

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Brecon Beacons

We admire the people of Wales for being defenders of freedom, for nurturing beautiful singers, for caring about their history, land, and language and for loving their poets.

Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

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assassin__s_creed_brotherhoodv11nodvdcrack And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

-Dylan Thomas

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Near Llangollen / Image Howard Maunders, Beautiful Britain

Here is Bryn Terfel again, singing a Welsh lullaby and love song -

To all those who call Wales their home, may every day be a fine day for you.

This post is added to and republished every year.

February 29, 2012

The health of the Anglosphere

Better than you might have thought for reasons you may have guessed.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

February 28, 2012

Under Anglo-American law, contracts have to be willing

What a concept. Both parties have to mutually assent to a contract. And we thought everybody liked a shotgun wedding.

Professor Price Foley explains beautifully on video.

We note that Magna Carta Libertatum, the Great Charter of Freedom, was the first Anglo-American document to establish the concept of limited government and justice under the law. Magna Carta limited the power of the powerful.

We believe that the "Obamacare" bill, passed by a US Congress, which did not read the bill's 2,000 pages, is hostile to Magna Carta, the U.S. Constitution, and liberty. As the case against Obamacare is going to the Supreme Court, we will soon see what the court makes of more than one thousand years of common law precedents which protect contracts. Common law will be considered, of course, because common law is part of the U.S. Constitution.

By the way, while dining with friends, we mentioned over dinner America's debt to Britain's Constitution.

The tripartite structure of America's government and her balance of powers came from Britain. Most of the freedoms which America put into the first Ten Amendments to the US Constitution came from Britain's law and Britain's constitutional documents.
"Not at all," said a dinner guest. "Britain doesn't have a written constitution."

This is an urban myth that has often been repeated in the newspapers and on the BBC. Doubtless it falls under the "availability cascade" - an idea becomes irresistible because the authorities and the media keep repeating it.

To our dinner companion we mentioned a January 27th 2009 letter written by Eirian Walsh Atkins, the United Kingdom’s Head of Constitutional Policy at the Ministry of Justice. She wrote the letter to David.

Atkins firmly stated, "You are right to point out that parts of the British Constitution are written and we can confirm that statutes that you mention such as the Bill of Rights 1688/9 and Act of Settlement 1701 are some of the many statutes that make up our uncodified constitution".

The British business executive dining with us knew better, however. Everybody does.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

February 25, 2012

Canterbury Cathedral

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Canterbury Cathedral in 1897. Image by Norman and Co., Project Gutenberg

Gutenberg has republished a 19th century history which describes the cathedral's origins and transformations.

February 24, 2012

It's been a hard day's night

For all those who have been working like a dog.

That mysterious, famous first chord played by the Beatles, has a mathematician figured out what it is?

February 23, 2012

Hong Kong was better under the British

DECOLONIZATION FAIL? Hong Kong Was Better Under The British. “Most expatriate officials retired to Blighty, so they were less tempted to do favors for the local business elite. The government rewarded them with pensions and OBEs. A Lands Department bureaucrat didn’t have to worry whether his child would be able to find employment in Hong Kong if a decision went against the largest property developer. Contrast all this with Hong Kong after the handover. The government is still not democratic, but now it is accountable only to a highly corrupt and abusive single-party state.”

That's a surprise.

More here about how Britain made a success out of the sudden arrival of a million desperately poor refugees.

And another thank you to Instapundit for the link.

EU Metaphor alert

The EU's Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results May Be Due to Bad Cables. 'See, when you build an expensive accelerator, you want to go with the Monster Cables. Sure, they cost more, but they save you a lot of embarrassment in the long run. . . .'

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit

Frank Carson comedian

From the Telegraph:

Frank Carson, the Northern Irish stand up, best known for his catchphrases “it’s the way I tell ’em” and “it’s a cracker”, died peacefully at his Blackpool home, Lancs, on Wednesday morning after a battle with stomach cancer.

His spokesman, Ashley Yeates, said that the comedian, who once joked with the Pope about seeing Elvis when he died, was surrounded by his family, his "greatest fans".

. . .Frank continued to perform his stand-up show until December last year, one of his final performances was for The Duke Of Edinburgh."

. . .Frank became famous after winning the television talent show Opportunity Knocks before going on to further success in The Comedians. The comic, who grew up in a deprived area of north Belfast, performed all over Britain.

. . .Throughout his life he raised lots of money for charity and was recognised by the Roman Catholic Church when he was awarded a Papal Knighthood of the Order of St Gregory by Pope John Paul II.

In a statement his family family said that "husband, father, Gaga and comedian set off for his final gig today".

"He went peacefully at his home in Blackpool surrounded by his greatest fans - his extended family. We will be taking him home to Belfast to lay him to rest and celebrate his joyful life.

"It's quieter down here now. God help them up there!!"

A generous, fun-loving, and persevering gentleman.

Ave atque Vale.

A tribute to the journalists who have died bearing witness to the truth

Peter Oborne in the Telegraph:

. . .Journalists like Marie Colvin [who died under murderous gunfire in the Syrian town of Homs] risk their lives to tell the truth, without regard for restrictions, and in the belief that their audience is composed of intelligent people who can make up their own minds.

Great journalism has the power to change the world every bit as much as a great political speech, and Marie Colvin reporting from the cauldron of Homs was in the tradition of the finest there has ever been. Journalism of the kind she practised was invented by the great Times editor John Delane, who sent his correspondent William Russell to report on the Crimea. That conflict, in which an Anglo-French coalition tried to oppose an invading Russian army, now seems eerily modern. Russell created scandal when he sent home a series of reports that told the truth about appalling facilities for the wounded, dreadful equipment and rank incompetence.

Clare Hollingworth of The Daily Telegraph – still magnificently alive at the age of 100 – is from the same school of reporting. In 1939, at the start of the Second World War, she borrowed a car to drive over the Polish border into Germany, only to discover hundreds of panzer tanks massed in wait. At the end of the war came the famous report from Wilfred Burchett, the first journalist into Hiroshima, whose opening words about the epidemic of radiation sickness afflicting the survivors were: “I write these words as a warning to the world.” The US general in occupied Japan, Douglas MacArthur, ordered Burchett out of the country.

At times, Colvin herself intervened in history, as she did in 1999 in East Timor when she helped save the lives of 1,500 refugees encircled by Indonesian troops in a United Nations compound. The situation was so dangerous that the UN commander wanted to evacuate, leaving the refugees to their fate. But Colvin insisted on staying behind, thus shaming the UN commander into staying – and averting a potential massacre.

In recent years the craft of war correspondent has become steadily more dangerous. No British reporters were killed in the First World War and very few between 1939 and 1945. A string of reporters died in the post-war era – among them Nicholas Tomalin, killed by a Syrian rocket while covering the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict; David Blundy, who was killed by a sniper in El Salvador; and David Holden, mysteriously murdered in Cairo.

Last year the superb British photojournalist Tim Hetherington (whose film about the Afghan war, Restrepo, is a masterpiece) was killed by mortar fire in Libya. Tim once told me that he saw his task as to “bear witness to the truth”. Great war correspondents such as Hetherington and Colvin are doing the most traditional and old-fashioned kind of journalism. They are at the heart of events, using their own eyes, physically turning over and assessing the evidence they find, then interpreting it for a domestic audience. They are aware that what they do may not make a difference, but they also know that as a result of their work nobody can claim they were ignorant.

Practised at its highest level, as it was by Hetherington and Colvin, the work of the war correspondent is a very severe vocation that requires many qualities besides raw courage: experience, judgment, practical knowledge of life-saving techniques, political intuition, a nose for a story. At its best, this kind of journalism empowers people. It empowers the victims of a conflict, enabling them to tell their stories to the outside world. It also empowers the readers and viewers, informing them of many hidden truths about the world in which we live. . .

American Marie Colvin worked for the Times, which wrote: 'Marie Colvin was courageous, dedicated and utterly determined to tell the world of atrocities committed by despotic regimes. Yesterday those virtues cost her her life.'

February 22, 2012

Sheeran and Adele

Happily Brit, and taking home the Brit Awards.

Sheeran and Adele.

February 21, 2012

The life scientific

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Fascinating BBC interview with chemist and professor Tony Ryan, now a dean at Sheffield University and on fire with the possibilities of nanotechnology and energy from the Sun.

Ryan seems filled with the same passion as those British inventors and scientists who produced food more abundantly and cheaply and discovered a substance that would treat staph - he wants to make life better for people.

And Sheffield sounds an exciting place for research and invention.

February 20, 2012

Ivanhoe uncut

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How I loved Ivanhoe when I was a girl. And everything I have recently heard from Amazon reviewers suggests I'll be enthralled when I reread Scott's historical novel.

However, some people feel it ought to be shortened, either because readers today don't know how to skip Scott's longer descriptive sections on Norman table manners and the furnishing of dungeons or because. . .well, why would they want to cut Ivanhoe?

Ivanhoe was Walter Scott’s most popular novel in his own day – perhaps because, set in mediaeval England, there was no Scots dialect to puzzle English readers. It entranced people all over Europe, with Goethe declaring that Scott had invented “a wholly new art”. It is still his best-known. Some 100,000 copies of the Penguin edition of the revised scholarly Edinburgh edition have been sold in the past few years; it has been made into a stage play and an opera (music by Sullivan); it has been filmed and adapted for television several times. A N Wilson, in his splendid book on Scott, The Laird of Abbotsford, compared it to Pugin’s Houses of Parliament: “Both are not merely works of art, but brilliant pieces of myth-making.”. . .

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Never mind the myth-making. Ivanhoe is a romance, when the word romance still meant adventure. . .

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