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Victor Davis Hanson: Is Trump Our Napoleon? 

Doesn’t America already have one Napoleon already? (Actual Newsweek cover from November of 2012 on left.)

What are Trump’s politics? Like Napoleon’s, no one quite knows, beyond an equally burning desire to make his nation ‘great again.’

victor-davis-HVictor Davis Hanson writes: Comparing great things to smaller ones, is Donald Trump, in spirit, becoming our version of Napoleon Bonaparte?

For a decade and a half Napoleon wrecked Europe. He hijacked the platitudes of the French Revolution to mask his own dictatorship at home and imperialism abroad. Yet today, two centuries after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, he remains an icon for many in, and a few outside, France. Why? How could geniuses like the novelists Victor Hugo and Stendhal acknowledge Napoleon’s pathologies and the damage that he did to the early 19th century European world, and yet enthuse that he made the French feel both politically and morally “great”? Most French even today believe that he did.

“Donald Trump is not going to invade Russia, but he is starting to sound a lot like Bonaparte, well aside from a similarly narcissistic convergence of America’s future with his own Napoleonic persona.”

Of course, for a while at least, Napoleon really did “make France great again,” at least in terms of territory and power.  At its pinnacle between 1806-11, Imperial France ruled the continent in a way not seen again until the Third Reich’s briefer rule between 1940 and 1942 from the Atlantic Ocean to the Volga River. It threatened to do away with the incompetent and reactionary regimes in every European country and replace them with a supposedly meritocratic class of social reformers, beholden to a natural Napoleonic hierarchy.

[Read the full story here, at Works and Days]

Moreover, Napoleon’s own political agenda was a mishmash of conservative authoritarianism and populist social justice. So effective was the strange brew that even to this day scholars fight over whether Napoleon was a proto-Hitler whose unhinged ambitions led to millions of innocent European, Russian, Caribbean and North Africa dead, or a loyal defender of the French Revolution, whose eleventh-hour iron hand alone kept alive the threatened ideals of fraternity and egalitarianism. Read the rest of this entry »

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St. Helena Island’s Secret Weapon: Some of the Rarest, Most Expensive Coffee in the World

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The rare beans have fans in independent coffee roasters and dealers in the European Union, Russia, Japan, the United States, South Korea and Taiwan

Jamestown (AFP) – Jean Liou reports: Most coffee snobs can only dream of sipping on a brew made from Saint Helena beans. Imported from Yemen in the 18th century, the tiny South Atlantic island’s green-tipped Bourbon Arabica coffee plant produces some of the world’s most expensive — and most delectable — beans.

St Helena coffee’s most famous fan was French emperor Napoleon, who said it was “the only good thing” about living in exile in a rat-infested house on the island for six years until his death in 1821.

“This coffee has a superb fragrant bouquet with no off flavours and pleasant floral fruity hints of citrus and caramel strongly hinting of its Yemeni origins.”

The sheer remoteness of the far-flung British island — stranded between South America and Africa — has preserved the genetic heritage of the coffee planted by the East India Company, the English trading company, almost 300 years ago.

But good luck getting your hands on the beans, which have become scarce after years of neglect.

The RMS Saint Helena anchored in the bay of the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena off the coast from Jamestown (AFP Photo/Jean Liou)

The RMS Saint Helena anchored in the bay of the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena off the coast from Jamestown (AFP Photo/Jean Liou)

Coffee groves on the island, which has a varied climate despite being on the equator, were left deserted until some enthusiasts started cultivating the crop again in the 1990s.

That renaissance was short-lived. The main producer went bankrupt, even after putting the beans on sale in London’s exclusive Harrods store.

“Our market is global but the quantities are tiny. For example, the harvest this year is 200 kilos (440 pounds), which does not take us very far.”

— Peter de Bruyne, director of British importer St Helena Trading

Then in 2009, Solomon & Company — a public company known as Solomons on the island — took over and breathed new life into the Bamboo Hedge plantation.

“It had become overgrown and there was die-back on many of the trees,” said Mandy Peters, Solomons’ executive director.

Bill Bolton, 74, a pensioner from Britain who has lived in Saint Helena since 1991, walks in his coffee plantation in Jamestown on March 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jean Liou)

Bill Bolton, 74, a pensioner from Britain who has lived in Saint Helena since 1991, walks in his coffee plantation in Jamestown on March 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jean Liou)

“It’s a hobby, really. It’s very slow and laborious, everything is done by hand.”

— Bill Bolton, who runs a cafe near the port of Jamestown, the capital of the island

“We have been slowly rebuilding the plantation.”

Still, the organic beans are in short supply.

Solomons produces between one and 1.5 tonnes a year, a tiny amount considering world coffee production was about 8.5 million tonnes in 2014. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! Saboteurs Deflate Sex-Toy Artwork, Paris Installation Reduced to a Flaccid Heap

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A giant inflatable sculpture that caused outrage in Paris for its resemblance to a sex toy will not be reinstalled after being reduced to a flaccid heap by vandals, its creator said Saturday.

American artist Paul McCarthy, 69, was slapped three times in the face by an outraged passer as “The Tree” was put up on the city’s ritzy Place Vendome on Thursday next to a column topped by a statue of Napoleon.

deflated sex toy paris

And on Saturday vandals cut a support cable to leave the 24-metre high work — which provoked a storm of mirth on social media for its resemblance to a “butt plug” — slumped on the pavement.

The FIAC contemporary art fair, which organised for the sculpture to be put up close to the Ritz Hotel, said in a statement that “the artist was worried about potential trouble if the work was put back up”.

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“Instead of a profound reflection about objects as a mode of expression with multiple meanings, we have witnessed violent reactions.”

— Artist Paul McCarthy, pretending to be unhappy about the notoriety he’s enjoying as a result of his infantile ass-toy stunt

“Individuals waited until the security guard’s attention was elsewhere and cut the cable that kept the sculpture in place,” a police source told AFP on condition of anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Inside ‘Mad Men’ Season 7, Episode 7 ‘Waterloo’: Recap

For Speakeasy – WSJ, ‘Mad Men’ Recapper Gwen Orel writes:

Moon landing! Moon landing! For everyone who wondered whether we’d see the moon landing, it’s all over “Waterloo”—the lead-up to it, where people worried about the astronauts, and the landing itself. The title “Waterloo” is made explicit by Bert in a conversation with Roger about Don’s attempt at a comeback.peggy-madmen

The episode looks at defeats and comebacks.

Ted takes Sunkist clients in a plane and, for kicks, cuts the engine. Jim and Pete yell at him over the phone about how Ted expressed a death-wish. Turns out that what Ted really wants is for Jim to buy him out, so he can leave advertising.

The Don comeback comes to a head after Lou storms in Jim’s office, furious that they didn’t get Commander cigarettes. Jim snipes at him that “you’re only a hired hand,” but then writes a letter with all the partners’ names on it, firing Don for his breach of contract meeting with Commander. Don is furious and stomps into Jim’s office, then shouts for Roger, Joan and Bert. There’s an impromptu partners’ meeting in he hall—Joan sends Harry away, reminding him he’s not a partner yet. Don says they should raise their hands if they want to play parliamentary procedure. Jim says he has Ted’s vote by proxy (we know he may not), but only he and Joan vote Don out. Pete, Bert, Roger and Don vote he stays. And though Joan says she’s tired of Don losing them money, she also tells Jim, “You shouldn’t have done that.” Read the rest of this entry »


Don’t Even Think About it, You’ll Never Be Able to Open Champagne Like Alton Brown

Alton-Brown-Champagne

From Daily DotMike Fenn writes: If there is anyone who would know how to open a bottle of Champagne like a boss, it would be Good Eats and Iron Chef America personality Alton Brown.

“…under no condition do I advocate you attempting to undertake this desperately dangerous display of panache.”

In a May 7 YouTube video, Brown explains a method of popping open a bottle of bubbly that has not been seen since the days of Napoleon: ditching the corkscrew and instead using a saber. Yes, Brown enthusiastically endorses “sabering” a bottle of Champagne. Read the rest of this entry »


Lust: A Hidden Influence on Foreign Policy

Prince_Metternich_by_Lawrence“Many a good man has been put under the bridge by a woman,” states Charles Bukowski’s alter ego Henry Chinaski at the beginning of his novel, Women. This statement is of course naturally applicable in the reverse: Many a good woman has been put under the bridge by a man. Yet, in the historically male-dominated realms of foreign policy, it is mostly male heartache that impacted statesmen and may have exerted undue influence on international relations. Looking back in history there are countless examples of grand statesmen letting emotions get the better of them. Read the rest of this entry »