Tuesday, October 15, 2019

On this date, in AD732, Charles Martel led the Franks against Muslim invaders near the city of Tours and turned back the tide of Islamic advance at the Battle of Tours (sometimes called the Battle of Poitiers).

In the preceding 110 years, Islam, thanks to the diligent efforts of polite young men in white shirts and neckties on bicycles going out two-by-two, had spread from its origins in the Arabian peninsula through south-central Asia and across the north of Africa, and up into the Iberian peninsula.

Did I say polite young men in white shirts and ties on bicycles going out two-by-two?  Just kidding.  That’s Mormons.  The Muslims did it by going out conquering and to conquer, slaughtering everyone who would not submit, in a tide of blood across all their conquered lands.

It seemed that Muhammed and his successors did not understand that “Jihad” meant internal struggle over oneself and that “Islam” meant “peace” and the meaning of “submission” was one’s own submission to Allah.  They apparently thought “Jihad” meant real war against unbelievers, using real swords and spears, leaving real dead and mutilated bodies in its wake and the “submission” was forcing those not in Islam to submit to it.  But what did they know?  They only founded the religion or followed in the footsteps of the founder.

Muslims of the Umayyad dynasty, chiefly Berbers, invaded the Iberian peninsula (really, it was a military invasion, not a lot of missionaries on bicycles.  Besides, the bicycle hadn’t been invented yet).  Within a decade they had essentially conquered the Iberian peninsula and were expanding across the Pyrenees into what would eventually be part of southern France.

In the spring of 732, these Umayyad Muslims defeated Duke Odo at the Battle of the River Garonne, thus setting the stage for what was to come.

Odo, surviving the battle, asked the Franks for help.  Charles Martel, “Mayor of the Palace” (Ruler in all but name but it would wait for his son, Pepin the Short, for his line to officially claim the throne) would only promise aid in return for Odo submitting to Frankish authority.

While this was going on, the Umayyads, in apparent unconcern about possible Frankish might, advanced toward the Loire river.  Lax in scouting and unconcerned, they did not note the power massing to oppose them.

The Umayyads were mostly cavalry.  Charles, according to accounts, was mostly infantry, but heavily armed and armored infantry.  One of the Frank’s main weapons was the Francisca, a heavy-headed, short-handled throwing axe.  The Byzantine historian Procopius (c. 500–565) described the axes and their use thus:

…each man carried a sword and shield and an axe. Now the iron head of this weapon was thick and exceedingly sharp on both sides while the wooden handle was very short. And they are accustomed always to throw these axes at one signal in the first charge and thus shatter the shields of the enemy and kill the men.

And at the time of Charles Martel, the axes were still in common use.  It would be some time yet before the Frankish forces converted to being primarily cavalry under the successors to Charles Martel.

When the Umayyad’s reached the Franks and their allies, they faced off with skirmishes while waiting for their full force to arrive.

Finally, the forces were all ready and the day of battle arrived.  Abd-al-Raḥmân, the leader of the Umayyad forces, trusted to the strength of his cavalry and had them charge repeatedly at the Frankish infantry lines.  The incredibly disciplined infantry stood its ground staunchly despite (according to Arab sources) Umayyad cavalry breaking into their formation several times.

A charge of Umayyad broke through, attempting to reach Charles reasoning, probably correctly, that if they could kill Charles the Frankish army would break.  However Charles’ liege men surrounded him and held off the attack.

While the battle still raged, rumors went through the Umayyad forces that Frankish scouts were threatening the Umayyad baggage train and threatening to carry off the loot they’d already gathered in their march northward.  Arab reports indeed claim that this was the case (in a second day of battle where Frankish reports say it only lasted one day).

This, apparently was too much for many of the Umayyads.  Fight them on the field of battle.  Throw axes at them.  Stab at them with spears and slash at them with swords.  All good.  But threaten their loot?  No way.

However, they didn’t appear to make clear to their compatriots what exactly they were doing and why.  The others saw them heading back the way they’d come and thought they were in retreat.  And “if he’s retreating, maybe I should be too” is a thought soldiers have shared many a time throughout history.  The result was the Umayyad’s went into full-fledged retreat.  Abd-al-Raḥmân tried to stop the retreat and, as a result, was surrounded and killed.

The next day, Charles, fearing the possibility of an ambush, kept his troops in formation in their relatively secure position.  He did, however, send out extensive reconnaissance which discovered that the Umayyad’s had abandoned not only the field of battle but their own camp so fast that they’d left their tents behind, heading back to Iberia as fast as their horses and wagons could carry them taking what loot they could carry with them.

Had to protect that loot.

The Umayyad’s retreated south back over the Pyrenees and that remained the end of Muslim advance into Europe.  Further attempts into the European heartland were made but they came to naught in the end.  Charles Martel and his forces had broken the back of the Muslim conquest of Europe for many centuries to come.

How Charles Martel would weep to see Europe inviting in a new generation of invaders with open arms.


Citizens in a new study blame U.S. politics for stress, depression, lost sleep and other physical and mental problems

The constant outpouring of rage from the Left would be the biggest problem

AN IOWA MAN is so bothered by the political climate that his psychologist says he asked for a higher dosage of his anxiety medication. A Chicago woman is so uneasy about politics that she has needed two dental implants to deal with her teeth-grinding habit. And a New York woman says she suffered her first flare-up of multiple sclerosis in 10 years due to political angst.

Americans are stressed and politics is a major cause, according to psychologists, psychiatrists and recent surveys.

A study published in September in the journal PLOS One found that politics is a source of stress for 38% of Americans.

“The major takeaway from this is that if our numbers are really anywhere in the ballpark, there are tens of millions of Americans who see politics as exacting a toll on their social, psychological, emotional and even physical health,” says Kevin Smith, lead author of the study and chair of the political science department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The study included 800 people in a nationally representative poll and asked them 32 questions. Among the findings:

* 11.5% say politics has adversely affected their physical health.

* 18.3% say they’ve lost sleep because of politics.

* 26.4% say they have become depressed when a preferred candidate lost.

* 26.5% say politics has led them to hate some people.

* 20% say differences in views have damaged a valued friendship.

Dr. Smith notes that the survey explored people’s perceptions of their health, not actual diagnoses.

The effects seem to be more pronounced for those who are younger, on the political left and interested and engaged in politics, Dr. Smith says.

Amanda Johnson, a psychologist in Newton, Iowa, says she’s noticed the impact of politics on many of her patients.

One was so distressed recently he wanted to abstain from politics altogether.

“He identified as an independent, and when he voiced this to several family members and friends, he got some backlash from them saying he needed to pick a side,” Dr. Johnson says.

That same day she spoke with his psychiatrist about increasing his anxiety medication. The longtime patient hadn’t previously identified politics as a source of stress and had been stable and on an antianxiety medication for the past three years without needing any changes.

“I’ve seen a lot more patients like that,” Dr. Johnson says. “It’s been pretty steady since the election. It seems like there’s an uptick any time there’s a big event.”

Common problems include sleep disturbances and falling out with family members and friends with divergent views. Social media battles are another source of tension. She advises patients to take breaks from social media and watching the news. “If they want to be engaged, we work on finding ways they could have some effect on change, like becoming more involved with a campaign,” she says.

She also encourages patients to set boundaries with family and friends to avoid inflammatory conversations.

Vaile Wright, director of research and special projects for the American Psychological Association, says politics-related stress is coming up more in the organization’s annual report called Stress in America.

The annual online survey polls 3,000 to 4,000 people. This year’s results will be released in November. In the 2018 survey, 69% of respondents reported feeling stressed about the nation’s future, compared with 63% in 2017, a statistically significant increase, Dr. Wright says.

Daniel Bristow, president of the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association, says he’s had to prescribe antianxiety drugs or antidepressants for some patients for the first time and increased dosages for others.

For patients with pre-existing conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, an increase in uncertainty can make old symptoms surface. “I’ve seen that many times, the newer stress worsening older symptoms that were previously under better control,” Dr. Bristow says.

He has seen people on both sides of the aisle impacted by political-related stress.

11.5% of people in a new study say politics has adversely affected their physical wellbeing.

But those impacted most severely are those with personal concerns, like immigrants separated from their families due to immigration policies or who fear deportation.

Carol Sabransky, a Chicago resident and executive at a management consulting firm, says her habit of grinding her teeth has kicked into high gear over the past few years. The habit started years ago, after she gave birth to her children. She lost one tooth from it in 1992.

In the past year she’s lost two more teeth from grinding too much and had to get implants, which cost $7,000 each. She now wears a night guard, an appliance put in her mouth at night to help prevent grinding during sleep. She says she objects to the “ugliness that has been exposed from all the lying and corruption” in Washington, D.C.

“The cost of this emotionally wrenching political environment has certainly been physical for me, and emotional,” she says. “Maybe the positive side to this is I have been educated in civics and government to a degree I never have been before. But it’s very costly, both mentally and in my pocketbook.”

Laura Beatrix Newmark, a Brooklyn, N.Y., resident, says she had her first flare-up of MS in nearly 10 years after the 2016 election. “Everyone agreed that it was 100% stress,” Ms. Newmark says.

She has tried to channel those feelings by posting angry haikus on Facebook and producing a women’s resistance comedy show. She downloaded a meditation app and goes to sleep listening to it every night.

The political climate, she says, has “made me operate on a much more hyped up level and that’s not been good. I’m not a comfortable flier, and I’m that much more anxious now when I fly.”


Owning a dog may be the key to living longer, study finds

Dogs are not only man's best friend, but also may be the key to living a longer life, a new study claims. Our four-legged friends have long been praised for their ability to help mental wellbeing, reducing anxiety and loneliness, but less has been reported about how they might have a positive effect on physical health.

Combining patient data of 3.8 million people from multiple studies, including England, researchers found owning a dog can lead to better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone.

Scientists at the American Heart Association say that compared to those without a pet dog, owners experienced a 24 per cent reduced risk of all-cause mortality and are 65 per cent less likely to die after a heart attack.

Those who had suffered cardiovascular-related issues were also 31 per cent less likely to pass away.

The results support a separate study carried out by Sweden's Uppsala University, which showed a 33 per cent reduced risk of death for heart attack patients living alone after being released from hospital if they owned a dog.

A similar drop was seen among stroke patients once they were discharged, at 27 per cent lower than those without a dog.

"These two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality," said Glenn N Levine, from the American Heart Association.

"While these non-randomised studies cannot 'prove' that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this."

Professor Tove Fall, from Uppsala University, said keeping a dog can also help because it is a good motivation for physical activity, but warned that further research is needed.

"The results of this study suggest positive effects of dog ownership for patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke," she said.

"However, more research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and giving recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention.

"Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life."

The study was published in the Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes journal.


Australia: The ABCs of race relations

ABC Chairwoman Ita Buttrose laments that the Australian media landscape is “too white” and not representative of our multicultural society. She even suggests we may need quotas.

Quotas assume employers are biased because, whether they know it or not, they might be favouring one race over another.

Using quotas to ensure representation of racial groups on the telly, or the boardroom is a move in the wrong direction and could lead to more social division as merit gives way to affirmative action.

It used to be progressive to be colour-blind –  to focus on character over skin colour. But we have flipped this over: now we see race in everything.

If Buttrose wants to “better reflect the culture of Australia” she should focus on who we are — and not what colour we are.

We are a nation of larrikins who, regardless of where we were born, or our level of income, believe this is the best country on Earth.

This was a finding of the Australian Talks National Survey that Buttrose was spruiking while complaining about our pale media.

If we want a more egalitarian, liberal society we should resist blunt instruments such as quotas.

Australia has developed a harmonious, multicultural society by accepting our differences — and sometimes even making fun of them.

Historically, this has been the argument against the introduction of federal ‘hate speech’ laws. Dividing Australians by race would threaten social cohesion.

Racism is not accepted in Australia.  On the rare occasion a politician or commentator says something even remotely racist, they are swiftly mobbed and sometimes sacked. These are not the responses of a deeply racist country. They are the responses of a nation that has long been driven by a determination to move beyond racial differences.

Buttrose needs to do the same.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here.


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