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Wine Review:
Cristom Vineyards
Mt. Jefferson Cuvee 2009 Pinot Noir

Wine: Mt. Jefferson Cuvee 2009 Pinot Noir by Cristom Vineyards Region: Willamette Valley (Oregon) Price: $29.99 Aside from important and serious discussions about worldly matters, Ludovici Club members must reserve […]

Wine: Mt. Jefferson Cuvee 2009 Pinot Noir by Cristom Vineyards

Region: Willamette Valley (Oregon)

Price: $29.99

Aside from important and serious discussions about worldly matters, Ludovici Club members must reserve time to sit back and enjoy the lighter banter brought on by the joys of consuming alcohol.

To this end, let us travel to the Willamette Valley of Oregon in the United States.  Nestled to the south, east and west by mountain ranges and to the north by the Columbia River, the Williamette Valley is home to several hundred wineries.  Given its landscape as a valley and the resulting relative coolness, the wineries are well suited to grow the quickly ripening pinot noir grape.

For a 2009 vintage selection, Cristom Vineyards Mt. Jefferson Cuvee 2009 has a beautiful nose.  Unlike aged wines with deep blackberry and purple hues, Cristom’s pinot noir has a clean and illuminatingly cranberry red appearance.  To the nose, the rich smell of spice and red raspberry excite you to take the first sip. The body has remarkable structure, with a warmth that sings to you, coupled with bright flavors of the red raspberry and even a hint of black raspberry on your palette.  It finishes strong, not too dry, but with a bouquet that entices you to take the next sip.

Pinot Noir’s are not known for long shelf lives, so I recommend consuming this 2009 vintage within the next 10 years.  Cristom Vineyards has been a consistent brand in my wine cache.  The 2009 Mt. Jefferson Cuvee reinforces my opinion that this winery’s selections will remain in my collection.

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The Men of the North
and the Power of Norse Paganism (Part I)

THE NORSE In the Eddas, both the Younger and the Elder, the Gods are strong and definitive beings of staggering power and divine splendor. They embody various aspects of the […]

THE NORSE

In the Eddas, both the Younger and the Elder, the Gods are strong and definitive beings of staggering power and divine splendor. They embody various aspects of the world and our lives, through imagery pertaining to loyalty, honor, or the acceptance of difficulty; also joy and revelry in bountiful times, while in lean times determination and resolve. The various deities of Asgard and Vanaheim embody these tenets to the point of stubbornness in some situations. For instance, Thor is a being both bold and strong, yet quick to anger and susceptible to being goaded; Týr stalwart and efficient, and yet put upon most severely in the binding of Fenrir. There are many more Gods in the pantheon and I will touch on this more in the next part of this article, but for now we shall focus more on the aspects of the Gods that the men we now call Norse embodied in their everyday lives.

A man in ancient Norse Pagan society was more than just a warrior, although excellent warriors they were. Aside from being very knowledgeable in combat their role was also that of a land-owner, a provider of goods or perhaps a priest of the community. Some Norsemen were thoroughgoing men of war and consequently did not have time for other things, as there was an abundance of conflict in their world lasting for their entire known history. Clans fought each other and fought abroad often — for spoils or conquest usually, but the inter-clan blood feud was not an uncommon occurrence either. These conflicts led to immense battles and there were sagas written of legendary Viking warriors who often held off an impossible amount of enemies in small numbers and, in some stories, completely alone.

Aside from their fearsome resolve in battle and their various roles in society, Norsemen were intensely vested in their religion. Their Gods were the embodied spark of the divine, and that spark lives in all things, including men, who claim their descent from the Gods. By being like the Gods and upholding their teachings, a man could become God-like. A man of immense strength was ascribed the favor of Thor or a man of immense knowledge was thought to walk with Odin, the All-Father himself. Those who were exceptional at mediation or resolving issues were thought to be favored by Týr or Heimdall. Women who were very fertile were blessed by Freyja. Females of exceptional beauty were beloved of Sif.

Great warriors and women of legendary worth are written of in sagas, as the Gods themselves recorded their own exploits. It is a true honor to be remembered in festive song and story by those who knew you and, later, by those who revere you for being who you were and nothing else. This practice is very much minimalized in our modern world, where individual deeds seems to rarely be noticed let alone exalted by anyone other than your immediate family past the death of the individual who carried them out. The Men of the North knew that the strength of a great man was worthy of notice, that his blood and his upbringing were a direct cause of his greatness. This is why lines of lords and kings in their culture were from continuous lines of venerable descent.

Aside from those on a throne or a seat of power, all of the people of the Norse world tracked their bloodlines in some way or other. It was important to know where you came from and who came before you, as they were a link to the past and the cause of your current station. Even a farmer could track back his line at least five or six generations to various men of means and great warriors, and the fact that he was now in agriculture instead of battle wasn’t shameful as his line had fought many great battles before him and brought the family honor. Women descended from strong lines were likewise proud and strong as their father’s fathers has also brought them honor through battle and great deeds. To marry into a family of strength and honor was an eminently good thing and was heartily encouraged. Linking together the two lines would only produce stronger progeny and further the greatness of the kin.

Along with ensuring the blood of your own immediate family, it was also important to maintain the strength of your wider clan. Weak marriages were looked down upon as they brought nothing beautiful, useful or salutary to the community. A man considered weak or incompetent should not have children, as he would pass down his weakness to them and weaken the line of the mother as well. Often, a man who had definitively shown he was of no worth or substance was sent away so as not to shame his people further; this applied to women as well, since the Norse were, in many ways, much closer to a gender parity in public life than other, more southerly civilizations, e.g. the Mediterranean civilizations of the Greeks or Romans.

This leads us to another point. In the ancient world, a woman had a small place in most cultures. In Norse society, by contrast, a capable and free-born woman could own land and property and also could divorce her husband if she found him lacking. Likewise, of course, a man could divorce a woman if she failed to produce heirs or was incompetent as a wife. Even though Norse women did not go to battle with the men, they were fearsome warriors in their own right. Any band of mercenaries or raiders attempting to take a Norse village while the men were away at battle were often killed or forced to retreat, beaten by a force of angry Norse mothers and housewives.

Both women and men in the Norse world took their religion seriously. The various rituals and tenets of the Gods applied at all times. Honor and loyalty were paramount, strength and valor were seen as virtues to which one could not but aspire, to become the greatest possible in everything they did is what the Gods expected of them and nothing short of that would suffice. It is no great wonder that the Norse people were seen since time immemorial as a strong and virile people when one recalls that the very core of their religion and myth expected them to excel in all things. Furthermore it was easy to flourish within a religious structure that did not apply guilt or fear to everyday life but instead pride and joy at accomplishment, along with the love of one’s family and people, side-by-side with the Gods themselves.

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[Marquis de Grey’s Selections] Socialism: A Means to an End? [PART I]

Socialism is often a dirty word for many proud conservatives, myself included in the not-so-distant past, conjuring images of revolution and the destruction of various old regimes, or of simply […]

Socialism is often a dirty word for many proud conservatives, myself included in the not-so-distant past, conjuring images of revolution and the destruction of various old regimes, or of simply rewarding the lazy. Often, we tend to prop up Socialism as a sort of bogeyman, along with the frequently misused and abused phrase, “Cultural Marxism”. To further complicate issues, within even the truest conservative circles, one can scarcely discuss economics without the over-bearing presence of both capitalism and socialism dominating the conversation, aside from the peculiar presence of those ever eccentric distributists.

I will be very quick to state that I, like the editors here, believe in a hereditary, Aristocratic elite. Spiritually speaking, socialism is very much opposed to this, even if these states often “collapse” into a sort of dynastic rule.  However, there can be no doubt that socialism is most often the ‘loser’ in these discussions, as most conservatives would wish to continue living with the devil they ‘know’ than the devil they do not.

One of the tenets of modern conservatism is to let individuals control every aspect of their own lives, to let a man rule in “in his own domain”, so to speak. Very quickly, however, one must realise this is an almost liberal sentiment, suggesting all men should be free to dictate their own lives, especially in regards to his economic station. Regardless of the liberal roots, this is the reason most conservatives would lean to the “capitalist” side of this discussion; the very fact it is ‘ideal’ to them is because we have grown up for successive generations believing in this very ideal, liberal and conservative alike. This makes the concept seem conservative to many of us, which has led us down a dangerous road indeed, particularly as so few wish to explore the possibilities a more ‘socialist’ mindset could bring.

In fact, if one must take a stance on either of these two economic systems, socialism inevitably shares much more with the old regimes than capitalism ever can, due to the very fact that it indeed does create a culture of servility. For my example below, I will be using basic tenets of actual socialism and the similarities shared in an Aristocratic society.

  1. The state provides housing for the citizen.
  2. The state ensures or provides work for the citizen.
  3. The state expects loyalty, military service, production and taxes from the citizen as a result, thus creating a sort of indentured servant.

These three points are simplifying what the socialist state seeks to provide the citizen, but let’s look at what feudalism would typically provide its subjects.

  1. The lord provides land for the subject
  2. The lord provides work in the way of farming or other tasks for the subject, which the subject uses to sustain himself and his family
  3. The lord in return expects service (militarily when needed) and taxes for compensation, as well as a share of the subjects crops.

In effect, ‘the State’, i.e. the lord, provides these with the assumption that in return he will receive payment, though the pecuniary portion of the payment is arguably the least important, depending on the individual lord/state. The difference between these two, however, is in the principle and what it seeks to achieve and I need not explain that part. Another difference, which most will overlook, is that the lord is primarily a man more at home with a sword in his hand than politicking; the bourgeois statesman, conversely, is more inclined towards politicking than personally defending his realm.

When one examines how the capitalist views the function of a government, one would arrive at a vastly different conclusion. The state exists to ‘protect’, although it’s debatable if this is to protect the citizens of the nation, or the economic interests of the plutocrats running said nation. There are many times when the two things are considered one in the same, that all matters of humanity, especially the governing of individuals, can be reduced to mere economics.

At this point, I’d like to return to a previous term that I italicized above so you’d hopefully remember it (it can never be said that I don’t enjoy playing mind games), that phrase being ‘servility’. As stated above, the modern conservative movement does indeed tend to promote this idea that we’re all capable of ‘pulling up the bootstraps’ and ‘making something of ourselves — without handouts’. A fine sentiment when applied to the right group of people, to be sure! The issue is that these people want it to apply to everyone, very much a notion that we all have a right to be a landowner , that we have a right to be without a master, that we have a right to be a lord. That, my friends, is liberalism; it shares absolutely nothing in common with true conservatism, for it rejects hierarchy based on heredity, but instead proclaims that with ‘hard work’, we may all be a lord, of course defined by our monetary wealth rather than blood!

Socialism may seek equality among all as a stated end-goal, but capitalism itself does this as well and, unlike socialism, creates absolutely none of the material conditions required to promote servility.  Do we believe in an egalitarian society? Absolutely not, but hopefully at some point conservatives may wake up and realise that capitalism can never and will never lead them to the traditional society they seek, at least when the idea of ‘Independence for all!’ is applied to even the lowest common denominator.

A master may do as he wish and a subject may not. Make no mistake, socialism is not the answer, but “socialistic” (dare I say traditional!) elements of society may very well hold the key towards re-establishing a culture of servility. When the common man relies upon the superior man to provide him his land, housing, healthcare, protection and livelihood itself, the common man becomes intimately indebted to the superior man — and this is, of course, a salutary state of affairs.

If from this we are to accept the obligation of providing for our subjects, so as to create a society that is much alike a well-oiled machine, are we to do so as an organized body (a state), or is this an individual responsibility of each lord? In my next article, I will answer this question and explain the distinctions clearly. Until then, good sirs, I wish you well.

Charles, Marquis de Grey

 

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Mitt Romney: Say ‘No’ in 2012

The presidential race is on and the upcoming election date is grinding ever closer, with November only a couple of weeks away. President Obama looks to be re-elected after a somewhat […]

The presidential race is on and the upcoming election date is grinding ever closer, with November only a couple of weeks away. President Obama looks to be re-elected after a somewhat disappointing first term and Mitt Romney wants to capitalize on Obama’s downturn and seeks to take the White House for himself. As usual the smearing, slandering and negative publicity tactics have been under way for months — which is no surprise in American politics — and as the campaign of blame continues, the populace of this once great nation is watching and waiting to see which scandal will rise from the mire of political battle and be fed into the media grinder next. Mitt Romney has been under heavy scrutiny from the aimless Democrats and his own uptight GOP rivals alike for months on various issues concerning his character and his background. What with all the controversy surrounding his campaign, it has become more and more painfully clear that Mitt Romney, with his underhanded business ventures, sinister associates, uncommon and damaging religious beliefs, and constantly changing viewpoints, would be a horrible choice for president in 2012.

The first negative Romney association which makes him a poor presidential choice is his involvement with Bain Capital, a buyout firm that deals in the restructuring of companies in order to promote investor profit along with the profit of those creating the purchases. Established in 1984, co-founder William Bain chose a 37-year-old Romney recently out of Harvard to helm his company. We can see how Romney chose to turn a profit for Bain Capital with the closing of SCM Office Supplies Inc. in 1995 which put over 200 people out of work. After being acquired by Bain the entire staff was laid off directly following the 4th of July and then treated to a giant smack in the face when they were optionally allowed to re-apply for their jobs at reduced wages and benefits. The workers of course went on strike soon after, and Bain called their bluff and coldly and in the name of investor profit closed the plant. Mitt Romney became a multi-millionaire during his time with Bain by living off the backs of the US workers he has put out on the street. With such a ruthless and heartless business mind set along with his underhanded business history Romney is clearly not fit to be the leader of the free world or any world in existence for that matter.

Another decidedly good reason Romney should not be considered for president is his political associations. Every good politician needs his friends much like a mafia don Romney needs his consigliere to support him and see that the little people of the political world don’t make waves and to ensure the success of all ventures undertaken, and in the political realm Mitt Romney has Bob White, a 56-year-old lifelong “friend” is an unscrupulous, ball-busting slug-for-hire and one of Romney’s original acquisitions from the Bain Capital days and he has been at Romney’s side the whole way since, much like a dark shadow in the background yanking the puppet strings of his favorite toy bitch. White loves advising from the darkness and making sure Romney stays on the campaign trail. When Romney ran for governor, White was there organizing and keeping it all on track. When Romney put in his bid for the presidency, White was appointed, as a surprise to no one, to chair his campaign. A man is a reflection of the company he keeps, and Ben Coes, a Romney campaign manager, describes White as “the kind of guy who could be urinating on your shoes while talking to you, and you’d thank him afterward.” This description gives a clear picture of this man, who will do anything it takes to win and explains how Romney has gotten as far as he has. (Scheiber 5) With a man like White in his corner some of Romney’s major missteps were reduced to lost face and allowed him to stay in the presidential race when he should have been out on his uptight thieving ass months ago. While a potential presidential candidate needs excellent backing to achieve his goals; who they surround him or herself with will determine the atmosphere for their time in the Oval Office. And as we can see from Romney’s close ties to Bob White and White’s sinister way of keeping Romney on track, the type of dealings that would be sliding through the White House door immediately makes the words “rotten” and ‘unsavory’ come to mind along with other more colorful ones that will not be mentioned. You would think that America would rather avoid that kind of trouble on Capitol Hill, and Romney along with White should be kept out of office and politics in general and it demonstrates that he is unfit to be the Commander-In-Chief.

Next we have an important realm in which Romney is a poor choice, his personal religious beliefs. Mitt Romney, as a member of the Mormon faith, has had his views questioned repeatedly in the past and also currently. As a member of what some would consider a cult religion hell bent on corporate profit and the subjugation of followers it is no surprise that some wonder what Romney would do if he was ever in a position of authority? In 2007 during a speech at the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University, Romney was quoted as saying “I do not define my candidacy by my religion.” In order to dodge attention on his upbringing and of course maintained that personal religion should not determine whether a person is elected or not. He went on to say “let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions.” To further attempt to reduce any heat he might have taken on his alternative religious choice. But where his statements lose their weight is the fact that he is most certainly a devout Mormon, and as anyone call tell you concerning the Mormon faith, the elders of the church most certainly have an influence on what a follower does especially a prominent member such as Romney. (Wallace 9) Not only would there be influence on his decisions but Romney lives his life by the Mormon tenets of non-tolerance of all non-Mormons along with the direct and tyrannical control of every aspect of a follower’s life and would most certainly attempt to shape the US into that image during his time in office. Not everyone is Mormon in America nor would they want to be forced to live like one in a country where religious views are supposed to be free and supported by liberty. This potentially forced religious disaster would cause nation-wide unrest along with the potential for public protests which could lead to religious revolts which clearly demonstrates to any logical and thinking human being another viable reason why Romney should be kept out of the White House.

Lastly and very importantly a huge reason Romney is unfit to be president is what he says, and how he blatantly and with feverish abandon contradicts his own statements. Often in an election debate the dialogue, albeit dripping with bullshit and tactless mud- slinging, is the relative lifeblood or the destruction of a campaign especially concerning standpoints on important political issues such as federal finance and debt, along with abortion laws and other sensitive American concerns. A candidate’s view on paramount issues is what their campaign is built on as he or she attempts to sway voters based on what they believe on the current situations being presented. Romney follows this blueprint like many others, but with the somewhat dangerous (and not all that surprising) shallow addition of constantly changing his position. And so it is not all that shocking that some of his statements are coming back to bite him in his lying, plutocratic ass and have had a direct and immediate negative effect on his already shady credibility as he has recently been accused of flip-flopping from one standpoint to another on every hot button topic since the inception of the current political race.

As John Maynard Keynes once said “When circumstances change, I change my mind. And what do you do, sir?” Romney has taken such tactics to heart and perfected his talent at misdirection and spineless statements as he spews meaningless drivel about his standpoints and then changes them from one debate to another. Also Romney has been jumping to the other side of the spectrum on the extreme views he has taken in the past to defeat his Republican rivals. To beat out Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich he became an anti-immigration hard-liner and agreed to slash the federal budget, although since he has flipped his position and said he will not agree to deep cuts during the ‘current’ recession, as if the plunging American economy ever had a change to recover under the watchful eyes of recent corporate handling much like Romney’s Bain days. This of course resulting in the shooting of the rich one percent into the stratosphere atop a champagne cork of corrupt profits as they ride the brackish spray of the sewage the rest of the populace is forced to swallow. To defeat Rick Santorum, Romney opposed abortion and even contraception, but now has backed off the issue since acquiring the primary Republican ticket even though his Mormon beliefs are clearly opposed to any and all abortion or contraception with the church’s standpoint being the absolute control over all female members for breeding purposes. This has been demonstrated in American media as the Mormon norm as seen in the all too public legal actions against so called Mormon “breeding strongholds”. Romney seems to go whatever way the voters do, and he is all too happy to please the mob. He will pick up a viewpoint based on how many new votes it will potentially get him, and drop it just as fast if the crowd seems to be changing their minds. This display shows that Romney has no morality and has no spine and is weak willed when it comes to his viewpoints, or perhaps he is utilizing a more devious way to gain ground and gain points in the polls for the upcoming elections in November. Either way this shows that the character and tactics he uses in his speeches reek of flaws and that his words are feeble and worthless and at his core he is not the kind of man America needs as a president now or ever.

When shown all of these various examples of his many undesirable qualities combined with the public evidence records to back the statements of detriment to his character and his political views it is not only a valid opinion but a painfully obvious one that Mitt Romney would only be a bad choice, and a potentially destructive one for America. With him at the head of our floundering nation the US would certainly only see more social and economic hardships and continue the downward trend of recent years. Romney’s own thoughts and ideas seem to be erratic at best and his views often do not concern what the American populace think and only serve his personal agenda which make him a poor choice as a leader of anything from an ice cream shop to any substantial office, political or otherwise. His past dealings in finance can only be described as blatantly underhanded and greedy and when combined with Romney’s various “friends” who he has hand-picked to continue the corporate slaughter in the name of investor profit we have the makings of a portrait of a man that deserves to be shoved off a cliff and who is entitled to nothing from America let alone the chair of the man in charge. Add to this mix his stern and imposing cult religion which could lead to stringent and unwanted laws that would make Big Brother look like Little Sister and his trampoline level flip-flopping in the political arena and what you have is a recipe for four years of economic and political disaster that would push this country to the breaking point. It is imperative that in November all Americans that can vote do so and it is paramount that Romney not be allowed to take the presidency. When faced with the lesser of two evils at the polls the people can become disillusioned about what choice to make; but it is far better to have another term with a semblance of stability than to allow a man like Mitt Romney to take the White House and drive our country straight into the gaping maw of utter destruction, which he most certainly will.

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Work of Art

Title: Janissary Smoking

Artist: Jean-Léon Gérôme

Completion Date: c.1865

Style: Academicism

Genre: genre painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: Height: 35.6 cm (14.02 in.), Width: 25.4 cm (10 in.)

Painted in 1865, Gérôme’s Janissary Smoking continued to explore his fascination with the Orient. Here, Gérôme depicted an Osmanli trooper in momentary placidity. Immersed in thought, the janissary reposes whilst smoking from an elaborate narghile. Late afternoon sunlight streams in from the latticework windows and illuminates his uniform’s creases. Although covered in brocaded silk, his developed biceps strain against the fabric. The janissaries composed an elite unit of the Sultan’s military and were renowned for their ferocity. Gérôme cleverly chose to depict this soldier off-duty in order to highlight his hardihood. What proves more remarkable about this work is the artist’s extraordinary use of light and shadow.

Gérôme’s precise detailing in his Janissary Smoking illustrated his artistic training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. This particular work showcased an advanced chiaroscuro evident within Academicist paintings. Inheriting an artistic patrimony, Gérôme adroitly incorporated established techniques into this reflective work. By clearly delineating sunlight from the delicate wooden latticework, this detailing demonstrates his extraordinary abilities. Few artists whose works are displayed in contemporary galleries can imitate this talent. Gerome’s Janissary Smoking serves as a vital model for dissident traditionalist artists in our decadent epoch.

 

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