Filed under: Education, Environment, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, United Kingdom | Tags: The Industrial Revolution, Time Machine: 1880, Transforms Farming
If you have time this weekend, and need a respite from the Boston bombings, I recommend this documentary from the BBC. It is called Victorian Farm, and is an observational series following a team who live the life of Victorian British farmers for a year.
This is not ‘reality TV’. In Britain, the Acton Scott estate in Shropshire is a world frozen in time, the time of Victorian rural England. The buildings and grounds are cluttered with antique tools and machinery collected by the Acton family, who have lived on the estate since the 12th century.
The team consists of two archaeologists, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn, and historian Ruth Goodman who go back in time to relive the day-to-day life of a Victorian farmer. The team moves into a Victorian smallholding on the Acton Scott estate that has not been used in nearly half a century. Their first job is restoration of the cottage. As incoming tenants, they help thresh the previous summer’s wheat crop, their first experience of steam-powered machinery. Alex attempts to sow a wheat crop using horse power. Ruth and Peter install a range in the cottage and take a trip to the canals to load up on coal.
They have as a guide, an 1844 guidebook explaining Victorian tools, and local folk knowledgeable in traditional country ways come by to help them with unfamiliar tasks. It is very professionally done, and if you have no interest in history, probably not your cup of tea. The full documentary is six hours long, but broken up into manageable segments. I enjoyed it immensely. Not Kim Kardashian, but serious scholars discovering the past by doing. Watch a little, you’ll get hooked.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, History, United Kingdom | Tags: A World Historical Figure, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Britain
President Obama has decided to give the funeral of Baroness Margaret Thatcher the same treatment he gave to the funeral of Hugo Chavez, dictator of Venezuela. He has opted for a presidential delegation including no current politicians to be led by George Shultz and James Baker both of whom served as U.S. Secretary of State when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of England. Mr. Obama has gone out of his way regularly to demonstrate his ideological opposition to the United Kingdom and his small, crass, lack of manners. He forgets that he represents the country and assumes that, as usual it is all about him.
Whether he approved of Mrs. Thatcher or not, she remains a towering world historical figure who stood firmly with American President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul to bring down the Soviet empire. Lord Powell, her private secretary and friend wrote:
She was a remarkable woman, a true leader, relentless in her determination to improve the condition of Britain.” Lady Thatcher had faults, but to acknowledge them “does not diminish the unmatched scale of her achievements as prime minister. She killed off socialism in this country, changed the face of Britain and rescued us from being a nation in retreat.”
John O’Sullivan a long time confidante wrote that she was a mix of the meritocratic and the charismatic, “combination of towering world-historical figure and ordinary middle-class housewife”. The ordinariness is important: Lady Thatcher proved that a woman from a non-privileged background could rise to the top of the Tory party and become prime minister. But her flair and determination to win was what made her a true leader rather than a run-of-the-mill politician. Nothing better reflected that than the courage she showed during the Falklands conflict – her insistence upon liberating the islands rather than negotiating with the invaders. There was a similar refusal to compromise in her dealings with the Soviet Union, offering moral leadership abroad to millions resisting the tyranny of communism.
She was a great lady, and the world was better for her stubborness and determination.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, History, Politics, United Kingdom | Tags: A Most Significant Figure, Free Markets/ Free Speech, Lady Margaret Thatcher
Filed under: Economy, Environment, History, United Kingdom | Tags: BBC's Edwardian Farms, Sisal Weaving, The Rope Walk
In the BBC series Edwardian Farm, archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman work on a British farm for an entire year in the manner it would have been run during the Edwardian era (1901–1919). In this clip they demonstrate how rope was made from sisal fiber, and the tools that were used to make it.
The whole Edwardian Farm documentary is available here. It’s twelve hours long, so save it and watch it over time. Great fun, and worth your time. It’s very well done.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Election 2012, Health Care, Politics, Statism, United Kingdom | Tags: Inexorably Rising Costs, ObamaCare Exposed, Understanding Insurance
There has been a flood of articles recently on the forecasts of increasing costs for healthcare. The Society of Actuaries has said that health claims will shoot up an average 32% under ObamaCare. Some states will see claims rise as much as 80%, while only five states could see them drop a little. The reason is that millions of the uninsured will get coverage, or be forced to get coverage, and that will cause them to double their health spending. That will create upward pressure on premiums.
Many employers will dump their coverage for workers once ObamaCare kicks in, and those people will be more expensive to insure than people already in the individual market. In other words, higher premiums for almost everybody, and the “Affordable Care Act” will become much less affordable.
Back in 1960, people paid almost half the nation’s health care tab out-of-pocket. By 22012, that figure had dropped to just over 10% with the rest paid by government health programs or increasingly generous (tax subsidized) workplace health benefits. Natural reaction by ordinary people: when it’s free, you use more of it. And today there are far more inducements to use health care than there have ever been.
There have been campaigns for fitness, campaigns against obesity, with the intent of addressing “rising” health care costs, but is the awareness of fitness, good health, strength, diet, dental health, not to mention all the diseases that may strike that are causing the rising.
Saturday and Sundays on the radio are given over to paid programming for alternative medicine and alternative potions. “Health Food stores” offer goods free of any suspected unhealthy ingredient; and all things “natural,” and “organic” for you and your pets.
Each special ingredient is the one thing that, taken religiously, will give you a longer, healthier life. The latest seems to be green coffee beans, it was white tea for a while, and pomegranate seeds before that, and some Inca berry. And if all that weren’t enough, the First Lady of the United States and the Mayor of New York will remind you that they are keeping official tabs on what you do.
This intense focus on your potential health will drive you to ever-increasing use of the health care establishment. Increasing prices? The administration responds with a yawn. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), in charge of administering ObamaCare and its mandates and waivers, said those who are paying more will get more generous coverage, so what’s the big deal.
“Some of these folks,” Sebelius said, referring to those hit by ObamaCare’s price spikes, “have very high catastrophic plans that don’t pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus. They’re really mortgage protection plans, not health insurance.”
Astonishing. The HHS Secretary, a former state Insurance Commissioner, does not understand the principle of insurance.
Insurance operates on the principle that you pool the cost of the big risks that don’t happen often, but would be difficult for most people to pay. It is the big catastrophe that makes insurance a good deal. Insurance for every little thing that you could reasonably easily pay for out-of-pocket raises the cost of everything because you are paying administrative fees in addition to the cost. If you expect to spend $10,000 for groceries next year, you wouldn’t buy grocery insurance, nor would you expect your auto insurance policy to pay for new windshield wipers or oil changes.
What Obama and his administration are attempting to force down everyone’s throats is not insurance, it is massively expensive prepaid health care.
Attempting to drive down all out-of-pocket spending simply pushes up the cost of health care in its entirety. At the same time it creates an incentive to use more health care. That’s not all the incentives though. As increasing use raises the cost of health care, the government will be forced to devote more effort towards cutting costs, and forcing doctors and suppliers to cut their costs — seeing more patients in less time, ordering fewer tests, using fewer supplies, cutting back on personnel, and destroying the quality of medicine.
The incentive for doctors and hospitals becomes not only cutting costs, but finding a way to be adequately reimbursed. This is where Britain’s National Health Services (NHS) find themselves. Old people die sooner because of inadequate care, linen not changed, drinking water not supplied. Doctors retire early, fewer of our best and brightest go into medicine. Doctors have to be imported from other countries. We are already seeing the effects of the tax on medical devices. They are laying off workers, cutting back. The United States leads the world in new technology in medical devices, but when they are forced to cut back, it is innovation that gets cut.
ObamaCare began with a lie, that medical costs were rising inexorably. Not true. Costs were declining as new diagnostic tools and new medicines saved lives and expense. Democrats, behind the closed doors where they were constructing the plan, were not concerned with improving American health care, they were concerned with gathering in more Democratic votes by more voters dependent on Democrat largesse. Their admiration for Britain’s National Health Service spoke of the ability of NHS to capture British votes for the Labor Party, while Democrats told themselves how wonderful it would be when poor people could get health care for free.
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Latin America, Politics, United Kingdom | Tags: "The Special Relationship", The Falkland Islands, The Falkland War 1982
Reader Subsidy Eye posted this video in the comments, but it’s too good to miss. The great war for the Falkland Islands in 1982. A little long, but worth every minute. British pluck, daring, and wonderful British humor. Enjoy the story of the Tin Triangle.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Latin America, Politics, The United States, United Kingdom | Tags: Argentina Bullies Islanders, Negotiated Settlement?, The Falkland Islands Vote
The people of the Falkland Islands went to the polls yesterday and voted in an historic referendum to remain a part of the United Kingdom as a British Overseas Territory.
The vote was not exactly close. There was a 92 percent voter turnout, and 99.8 percent voted to stay British. Only three residents voted otherwise.
When the people in Argentina get critical of their government, as happens under authoritarian governments, the Argentine government stirs up trouble over the Falklands, just 300 miles off their coast. Argentine officials describe the Falkland Islanders as a population, not a people. The Foreign Minister Hector Timerman recently said that Falkland Islanders “do not exist” and refused to talk with their government ministers. He told a press conference in London that the 3,000-off residents of the South Atlantic archipelago are simply British citizens who live there.
As a result of Argentina’s recent campaign of bullying and intimidation against the islands’ inhabitants, and in order to send a clear message to the world, the Falkland Islands’ government decided to put the question of its relationship with the UK to a popular vote.
Argentina, of course said that it will not recognize the outcome of the vote. Sadly, instead of backing America’s closest ally, the UK, the Obama administration has sided with Argentina by supporting its calls for a negotiated “settlement” over the islands. Making matters worse, the administration has repeatedly refused to say that it will back the outcome of the recent referendum.
Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated this embarrassing U.S. policy in London a couple of weeks ago, saying “I’m not going to comment, nor is the President, on a referendum that has yet to take place and hasn’t taken place.”
The Falkland Islanders do not need American support for their referendum, nor do the British. The Islanders are asking for recognition of their right to self-determination — a right guaranteed by the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. But President Obama has turned out to be not as expert in foreign policy as he claimed, based on living briefly as a small child in Indonesia. And he’s made it clear that he is irritated by foreign policy matters that keep interfering with his domestic agenda. Nevertheless, as a nation that is a champion of free people and free elections, we should be championing the free choice of an island people to continue their alliance with their parent country.
Last year Jaime Daremblum wrote at PJMedia about Argentina’s Slow-Motion Disaster: massive capital flight and high inflation:
Whenever Argentina starts rattling sabers over the British Falkland Islands, it’s a surefire sign that the South American country is experiencing some type of domestic turmoil. So it comes as no surprise that President Cristina Kirchner has responded to high inflation and massive capital flight by picking a diplomatic fight with London over a sparsely inhabited archipelago that has been a U.K. possession since 1833. …
American observers should not be fooled: The ongoing diplomatic row between London and Buenos Aires is nothing more than a political smokescreen designed to benefit Buenos Aires. Kirchner would rather have Argentines railing against British “colonialism” than railing against their own government, which has become an international embarrassment.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Europe, Freedom, National Security | Tags: Confused National Aims, Learning From History, The Collapse of Europe
Why anyone would want to imitate the catastrophe into which Europe has been descending is beyond me. Food for thought.
Filed under: Europe, History, United Kingdom | Tags: circa 7000 B.C., The Canyon Cave Man, Today's Direct Descendant
…..The Canyon Cave Man. Not long after the last Ice Age, not far from the western sea, a young man was buried in a cave set high in the walls of a limestone canyon. Beside him lay a strange long object made of antler bone, variously described as some sort of secptre or perhaps a spear-straightener. The shallow grave on the cave floor was surrounded by thousands of flints — the non-perishable parts of Stone Age spears, knives, scrapers and burins. These in turn were accompanied by heaps of bones from the birds and animals which had supplied the cave dweller’s diet; hence wild horse, reindeer, and red deer; blue hare, brown bear, Arctic fox, and willow grouse; pig, ptarmigan, peregrine falcon; and one solitary and much older, mammoth bone. The cave and its contents remained undisturbed until rediscovered in modern times.
…..Caves were one of the favorite places of refuge for prehistoric people. They provide shelter in all seasons, an even temperature, and protection from wild animals. Unlike a neighboring cavern, which had once served as a den for hyenas and which had been used by humanoids in far remoter ages, the ‘Canyon Cave’ had not been inhabited before the last ice had melted. Its cool, but never freezing air was ideal for the growth of of stalactites and, in our own times, for the fermentation of cheese. When the Anglo-Saxons arrived some seven or eight thousand years after the cave burial, they founded the nearby village, and called it Ceodor—their word for a canyon or ravine. When the Normans came five hundred years after the Anglo-Saxons, they called the ravine a gorge — their word for a throat and for a narrow valley. …
…..For ninety years after its discovery in 1903 in Gough’s Cave, Cheddar Gorge, the skeleton of ‘Cheddar man’ was kept in London’s Natural History Museum. But in 1996 it was the subject of an extraordinary experiment. It was sent to the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford for DNA testing, and samples of its mitochondrial DNA were compared with a score of similar samples taken from volunteers among the villagers in the present-day Cheddar district. To the astonishment of the scientists, as The Times reported, ‘a close match was found between Cheddar Man and Mr. [Adrian] Targett’, a forty-two-year-old history teacher at the Kings of Wessex Community School in Cheddar Village. The experiment had proved beyond reasonable doubt that a man living in late twentieth century Britain was a direct descendant through the maternal line, of a person living in the same locality in the Middle Stone Age.
This account comes from Norman Davies The Isles: a History. Mr. Davies goes on to explain that the Targett case would indicate that a substantial proportion of people in modern Britain form part of local kinship groups which have had a continuous existence for three or four hundred generations.
Then came the Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, and Angevins of historic times. The head, above, is a forensic reconstruction from the skull of Cheddar Man, c. 7,000 BC.
I have long found this account absolutely fascinating, and thought you might too. This is what thinking about Richard III got me into.
Filed under: History, Literature, United Kingdom | Tags: Battle of Boswerth Field, Last Plantagenet King, Richare III King of England
What a fascinating story. DNA testing has confirmed that the skeleton dug up below a parking lot behind the council buildings in Leicester, is that of Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England. Richard III was one of Shakespeare’s great villains. The bones were found amid the foundations of a Franciscan friary, the very place where history said Richard’s body was taken after the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Modern science could compare mitochondrial DNA taken from the 500-year-old skeleton with DNA from a living descendant of Richard’s sister. Richard became king in 1483, taking power from his nephew, the 12-year-old Edward V. Richard was said to have imprisoned his two nephews in the Tower of London, and within months of Richard’s taking the throne, the two nephews disappeared. Tudor supporters claim that he had his nephews murdered.
This portrait from the National Portrait Gallery dates from the 16th century, so it may not be representative, or may be derived from lost sketches.
Plantagenet supporters say a closer look at Richard’s reign shows him as one of the most progressive rules of his time who promoted trade and books. Another battle will occur over where Richard’s remains are to be buried. Leicester wants to keep him as a tourist attraction, others believe he should be interred. Richard III enthusiasts had called for the skeleton to be buried in York and others in Westminster Abbey or Windsor Castle, where other monarchs are interred.
What is most fascinating to me is the extent to which the discovery of the skeleton confirms the history as it is known. The body’s hands appeared to have been tied, and the skeleton shows that he probably died from blows to the head, which is consistent with contemporary accounts. The skeleton shows severe spinal abnormality from scoliosis which shows that Shakespeare’s depiction of Richard as a hunchback was accurate. The discovery will renew interest in the last Plantagenet King of England, and perhaps renew interest in history as well.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Europe, Foreign Policy | Tags: Jose Maria Aznar, Prime Minister of Spain 1996-2004, Spain
José Maria Aznar, was the former Prime Minister of Spain from 1996–2004, and quite a good one. His two terms were subject to all the battles of the rest of Europe. The Euro was introduced, Spain joined the single currency, the Aznar government maintained the previous government’s commitment to join and took political risks to meet the requirements for membership. He introduced a strict budget which the opposition claimed would hurt the disadvantaged, help the rich, and announced a decision to freeze the wages of civil servants which brought protest marches by thousands of civil servants. The Euro was introduced in 1999, and Spanish voters reelected him in 2000 with an outright majority.
Spain became one of the fastest growing economies in the EU in 2001, university reforms, student protests, strikes, demonstrations. Global economic downturn in 2002. At the end of his term, three days before the general election 10 bombs killed 191 people in the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings. He founded, in 2010 a Friends of Israel Initiative, to counter the attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel.
Kind of a quickie introduction to one of the world’s most interesting men, who tells us what at least one European believes.