It's amazing how uplifting a little light and beauty can be when the world has gone mad. Take a few minutes and get 2022 off to a pleasant start with the latest two episodes of Chateau Love.
The December 27 episode (21 minutes) features a private tour of the Christmas decorations at Château Gaillard Amboise (not to be confused with the Château Gaillard built by Richard the Lionheart). This castle is historical as well as beautiful, and I felt as if I were walking through a famous European museum. Unfortunately, YouTube is not allowing me to embed this video, but you can watch it directly on YouTube here.
For New Year's Eve, the show is twice as long (41 minutes) but much more personal, including a flashback visit to Tuscany, with a guest appearance of Vivienne's sister Ashley. Visit a magical European Christmas market and accompany Vivienne and Simon as they shop, create, and decorate in preparation for Christmas at their own château. Best of all, Vivienne's amazing artistry shines in this episode. Christmas decorations from citrus slices. Stunning hand-painted bird plates. Amazing food, artistic table settings, and indescribably beautiful decorations gilding an already beautiful home.
I was swept right back to our own magical Easter visit, nearly 15 years ago, to Simon and Vivienne's previous French château.
I hope you enjoy this delightful break from all the troubles of the world, and head into 2022 with a lighter heart.
My grandson persuaded me to take this personality type quiz because his own results matched so perfectly with his personality that he had his family rolling on the floor when he read it out loud. My own results (INFJ-T) were less spectacular: right on in places, but far enough off in others to make me wonder if it's really much better than a horoscope. But some of the questions were hard to answer, so I think I'll play with it and see if I can do better.
Speaking of better, my grandson then suggested I try Brandon Sanderson's Knights Radiant Order Quiz. My results from this one were much more impressive.
I am a Truthwatcher.
If you click on this link and scroll down a bit, you'll see the characteristics of a Truthwatcher, which as far as I'm concerned are pretty accurate. For example,
These make their opinions known loudly and forcefully, particularly if they think someone in power is abusing that power or lying about fundamental truths. ... They generally prefer to write their opinions rather than speak them.
Truthwatcher was my grandson's second guess as to what my results would be. His first was Edgedancer.
Truthwatcher and Edgedancer were the top two in my results, and pretty close at that. Considering that I also see myself as more of a mixture of Truthwatcher and Edgedancer, I think his Perspicacity rating is pretty good.
Now I just have to read the books.
Point 1: What is the good of euphemisms? They enable us to express something without resorting to offensive words (whatever the offense may be). That's better for the ears and hearts of the listeners, certainly. But does it do anything for the speakers? If I say "darn" instead of "damn," what do I gain? Is the attitude of my heart any better for it? I think that's a good question to ponder.
Point 2: As I've said many times, of presidents from both parties: our chief executive deserves respectful treatment by virtue of the office he holds—not to mention as a human being. Chanting "F--- Joe Biden" like a football cheer is puerile at best. Moreover, it's probably worse than useless, venting people's frustrations without driving them to work toward changing the policies they hate. If I were President Biden, I would hear those chants and think, "As long as they're shouting and not actively working for my opponents, I'm okay with that."
That said, I have to admit that I find the whole "Let's Go, Brandon!" story hilarious. And maybe even a little useful.
Good humor can be an effective antidote to hate, and it's hard to say, "Let's Go, Brandon!" without smiling.
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
I ran into this quote, called Hanlon's Razor, in an episode of the detective series New Tricks. It was new to me: as far as I can remember I'd never heard it before. However, it is sufficiently like one of my own favorite sayings that either (1) I heard it somewhere and filed it away subconsciously, or (2) it's so obvious that there must be dozens of variations on the same theme, or (3) I'm just brilliant.
Wikipedia attributes this form to Robert J. Hanlon, from about 1980, though, as I suspected, the idea's been around a long time. If I did pick up the idea subconsiously, I suspect it would have come from the Robert A. Heinlein story referenced in that article.
Here is one of my variations on the idea:
Most so-called conspiracies can be more readily explained by simple human stupidity.
It would make a somewhat confusing hand-me-down, but I think this is a great t-shirt. You can see where a black cloth marker has been used for updates.
Many a true word hath been spoken in jest.
As a friend of ours expressed, "I thought the [Babylon] Bee was satire."
Three generations of raw cookie dough fans here!
Did you know that landlocked Switzerland has a navy? Or at least they did in World War II; I saw some of their boats in a museum. Here's a short Wikipedia article about what they have now. (Do not, for the sake of not having to see things you can't unsee, google "Swiss Navy," which is apparently a brand name of something you'd rather not know about.)
The much more pleasant purpose of this post is to alert you to other maritime news: apparently Switzerland also has pirates!
Armed forces, indeed.
Despite My Rocky Relationship with Penzeys Spices, I hold no grudge against the Penzey's mugs I've acquired over the years.
Until one turned out to be an IED, that is. (Click to enlarge.)
It had given me no trouble whatsoever for years. Then one day I noticed the cup seemed exceptionally hot when I took it from the microwave. That should have been a clue. The next time I tried to warm up my tea was more exciting: Pieces of the cup exploded off with loud bangs, revealing rusty metal underneath.
The odd thing is, there had been no previous evidence of a problem. No worn spots, no places that looked thin. And who knew there was metal around the rim of the mug?
You never know what might be lurking in your cupboard.
Since it changed hands, I haven't found the Babylon Bee as interesting as it used to be. Or maybe Facebook has only been showing me their worst efforts recently; sometimes I think Facebook is a conspiracy theory dream all by itself.
In any case, this one is funny on more than one level. Be sure to watch to the end; it's only two minutes long.
I realize that for very few of my readers is the question of whether or not a pregnant woman should get a COVID-19 vaccine of any importance. Nonetheless this is worth a post just because it is one of those laugh-or-cry articles.
The source is the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, which I generally respect. Here's a link to the whole article for those of you who seriously want the information. It's a serious business and an important decision to make.
For everyone else, however, here are a few snippets that caught my eye and inspired me to write. The bolded emphasis is my own.
Globally, over 200 million people are pregnant each year. Whether they should be offered the new COVID vaccines as they become available is an important public health policy decision. Whether pregnant people should seek vaccination is a deeply personal decision.
Note the term "pregnant people." The article goes out of its way, to the point of being very annoying, to avoid the term, "pregnant women." Exactly how many pregnant men have there been in the history of the world? I do, however, appreciate the acknowledgement that it's a personal decision, although later on the article seems to find a problem with that.
Evidence to date suggests that people who are pregnant face a higher risk of severe disease and death from COVID compared to people who are not pregnant. For instance, pregnant people are three times more likely to require admission to intensive care and to need invasive ventilation. The overall risk of death among pregnant people is low, but it is elevated compared to similar people who are not pregnant. Some studies suggest that COVID in pregnancy might be associated with increased rates of preterm birth.
There are still significant unknowns: How do risks vary by trimester? What are the risks of asymptomatic infection? Further, most current information about COVID and pregnancy comes from high-income countries, limiting its global generalizability.
Although there is not yet pregnancy-specific data about COVID vaccines from clinical trials, the vaccines have been studied in pregnant laboratory animals. Called developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) studies, research with pregnant animals can provide reassurance about moving forward with vaccine research in pregnant people.
All three of these vaccines offer a very high level of protection against severe COVID. There is little reason to believe these vaccines will be less effective in pregnant people than they are in people of comparable age who are not pregnant.
The next sentence is the one that made me sure I had to write about this. It's the kind of thing I would have shared on Facebook, except that I'm trying to reduce my Facebook presence, so it goes here instead. With more words, naturally.
Professional societies, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal-Fetal-Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, all support COVID vaccination in pregnancy when the benefits outweigh the risks.
What, pray tell, does that say that has any usefulness? Who in his right mind would support something when the risks outweigh the benefits? So how is this a meaningful statement at all?
The absence of pregnancy-specific data around COVID vaccines continues an unfair pattern in which evidence about safety of new vaccines for pregnant people lags behind. This unfairness is ethically problematic in at least two important ways.
So, it's unfair because we don't have enough data on the effects of the vaccines in pregnancy? Would they have held back the vaccines until sufficient data had been gathered so that the information was "equal" for everyone? That would truly have been unfair to pregnant women, because letting the rest of the population get vaccinated helps them whether or not they feel safe getting the vaccine for themselves.
First, people may be denied vaccine, or may face barriers in accessing vaccine, because they are pregnant.
I agree that's a problem. Because the data is insufficient, in absence of a clear danger to mother and/or child in getting the vaccine, it should not be withheld from a woman who feels comfortable with it.
Second, even when pregnant people are eligible for vaccination, because public health authorities have not explicitly recommended COVID vaccines in pregnancy, the burden of making decisions about vaccination has shifted to pregnant people.
And where else should it be? Medical advice should not be handed down like commandments from heaven. People need the best information available, and the freedom to make their own decisions—even wrong ones.
Come to think of it, even commandments from heaven come with the free will to ignore them.
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I've mentioned before situations in which fear has led to unreasonable responses to the COVID-19 threat. Whether by governments or by private citizens, that's a bad thing. However, this is still funny.
For those who are wondering, HEMA stands for Historical European Martial Arts.
With the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution now joining the First and Second under attack, it's time for a brief review of the first ten, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
That's the bare bones; I leave analysis of these amendments as an exercise for the reader.
Just for fun, here are a few Sporcle games (roughly in order of diffculty) to help keep the bones of these amendments (and more) fresh in our minds.