“We are all Thatcherites now”

Fareed Zakaria gives an overview of how the recently-deceased Margaret Thatcher changed the world’s economies:

Consider the world in 1979, when Thatcher came to power. The average Briton’s life was a series of interactions with government: Telephone, gas, electricity and water service, ports, trains and airlines were all owned and run by the state, as were steel companies and even Jaguar and Rolls-Royce. In almost all cases, this led to inefficiency and sclerosis. It took months to get a home telephone line installed. Marginal tax rates were ferociously high, reaching up to 83 percent. [Read more...]

Death of the Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher, the only female Prime Minister of Great Britain, who held office from 1979 to 1990, died yesterday of a stroke at age 87.  Mrs. Thatcher was the British equivalent of Ronald Reagan, with whom she worked closely, standing up to the Soviet Union and challenging the welfare state with free enterprise policies that led to an era of prosperity.

To honor her memory, to learn about her contributions, and to treat yourself to an interesting movie with a stunning performance by Meryl Streep, watch Iron Lady.  (OK, it got mixed reviews and annoyed some conservatives, but I enjoyed it, and it won Streep a much-deserved Oscar for Best Actress.)

After the jump:  Margaret Thatcher quotes. [Read more...]

Easter was NOT based on a pagan holiday

(This is a re-run from this blog in 2011, but it still needs to be said.  For more on this topic go here and here. )

The charge is that the word “Easter” derives from the name of a pagan fertility goddess “Eostre.” It is said that Christians took over a spring festival devoted to this deity. But this article by British historian Anthony McRoy debunks that claim: Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday? | Christian History.

Briefly, the connection to Eostre was made by the Venerable Bede, the medieval church historian, but we can find no other mention of the goddess or any festival associated with her. Prof. McRoy accounts for what may have been Bede’s misunderstanding with some other etymological accounts of the origin of our word “Easter.”

Besides, English and the other Germanic languages are the only languages that calls the Festival of the Resurrection “Easter.” Everyone else calls it some version of “Pascha,” which derives from the Hebrew word for “Passover.” And the holiday was celebrated extremely early in the church’s history, evidently by the 2nd century. And its original celebration in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean sea shows no connection at all to any pagan festivals.

 

LBJ tapes show Nixon’s treason?

You know about how Nixon taped everything that went on in the White House, a bit of historical preservation that blew up in his face with the Watergate scandal.  Well, it was his predecessor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who first wired the Oval Office.  Now the LBJ tapes are coming out, and they have some explosive revelations.

The biggest one is that Richard Nixon, while he was running against Vice President Hubert Humphrey, feared that the Paris Peace talks, which were making progress, would end the Vietnam War, thereby hurting his election chances.  So he secretly intervened, getting the South Vietnamese to pull out of the talks because they would get a better deal if he were elected.  The talks collapsed, thousands more died, and because LBJ did not reveal what he knew, Nixon was elected president.  See the details (so far being ignored by American media for some reason) from the BBC after the jump. [Read more...]

Historic preservation for modernism

The modernist architecture of the first half of the 20th century rejected ornamentation, tradition, and history itself.   In the age of reason, science, and progress, “form follows function.”  Buildings were bare structures of concrete, glass, and steel.  If they were beautiful–and some were–that is a byproduct of their pragmatic purpose.  Today, though, modernist architecture–like modernist art, literature, philosophy,and theology–has become dated, culturally-irrelevant, and old-fashioned.  But now the historic preservation movement is adding relics of modernist architecture to the buildings it is trying to save. [Read more...]

Richard the Lionheart’s heart

In more medieval forensic archaeology, researchers have found the mummified heart of Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199), which had been buried separately from the rest of his body.  Nothing is left of it but a brown powder, but tests show that he was NOT poisoned, as some have thought, and that the embalming methods used spices associated with the burial of Christ.  King Richard I ruled England beginning in 1189 and was a hero of the Crusades.  (See the heart after the jump.) [Read more...]


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