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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tartan Day on Ellis Island, 01 April-03 April, 2011

Everything you ever wanted to know about tartan but were afraid to ask....
Think of tartan and many colorful images appear. 
Like a flag, tartan evokes the Scottish nation and its kilted clans. One look at tartan, and you can almost hear the skirl of Highland bagpipes. 
Tartan, more than anything else, is the symbol of Scotland. 
Yet, tartan – thanks to Scotland’s gift of it – is beloved throughout the world. No other fabric or pattern is so steeped in tradition. 
Or, paradoxically, so consistently at the forefront of fashion. 
Historians study it. 
Designers design in it.
Branders use it to sell products– think Scotch Tape.
Tartan – so steeped in history – just seems to appeal to something deep within us all.
Rockers and royals alike agree– tartan rules.
So, join us on Ellis Island as we explore and celebrate tartan–this national fabric of Scotland which has managed to capture the world.
To learn more, visit the website for Tartan Day on Ellis Island

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Scottish clans: cadets, septs & more

A Scottish Clan is a tribal concept, generally meaning an extended family all related by birth. A Clan is usually named for one person -- for example, Clan Mackenzie derives its name from Kenneth, its Progenitor. In theory, all Clan members are descended from him. In reality, some may not be, as over time a Clan may have been joined by other people. The seniormost branch of the family is the direct line of descent from the Progenitor to the current Chief [this is where the concept of tanistry meets the concept of primogeniture]. The senior branches of the family, or cadets, generally signify a subgroup, or family, that each descend from one of the Chief's sons. The affiliated branches, the septs, are often said to be unrelated by those who assume that a sept's allegiance to the Chief was a matter of safety during dangerous times. In fact, members of the septs are often the descendants of the Chief's daughters. Only DNA tests can show these relationships, but descendants of the septs would then show up as having the Y DNA of the men the daughters married, not the DNA of their father. It would take a very detailed DNA analysis to prove all the links.
Finding the above confusing...? Many Clans today welcome new members based on a mutual desire to respect and preserve Scottish heritage. A good place to find your Clan is in the Highlander Magazine, where they list their mailing addresses. Many Clans have a presence at the Highland Games. See also Electric Scotland.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

SCOTUS and Snyder v. Phelps

The US Supreme Court, sometimes referred to as SCOTUS, has issued an historical opinion regarding free speech, from which Justice Alito dissented. I am grateful to him for being the lone voice of reason. Hate crimes and free speech are not the same thing. This case appalls me, and my deep sympathy goes to Mr. Snyder for his suffering.

To read the Court's documents on the case, follow this link:

For other information about the Court, visit:

And for the National Archives' link to the United States Constitution, visit:

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