Authentic Scottish Castle Music

Today most of Scotland’s castles are dramatic ruins. It can be hard to imagine their bare stone rooms full of life, colour and sound but these castles were once home to thriving communities. Every castle has stories to tell.

Through the medieval age Scotland’s castles evolved from defensive timber towers with wooden palisades to massive stone fortresses and tower houses. Eventually the Scots built more comfortable and lavish castles, importing ideas from French chateaux.

Enjoy 10 beautiful Highland Scottish tracks from Authentic Scottish Castle Music now free on Amazon.com. If you like the Starz series Outlander, then this music is the perfect companion while waiting for the next show.

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The Medieval link to 911….Vienna 9/11/1683

battle_of_viennaVery few people seem to be aware of why it was that Al-Qaeda chose September 11 for the date of a devastating, carefully planned attack on the United States, but the information is illuminating and worthy of discussion. A better understanding of what drives Islamic terrorism assists in helping to understand why most Westerners’ lack of any sense of history is dangerous. Conversely, Islamic terrorists are driven by events that occurred hundreds of years ago. They comprehend that Islam and Western Culture have been locked in mortal confrontation for approximately 1,400 years with a brief interlude that has caused Western culture to forget what is at stake and what is at risk.

Part of the motivation of Islamic terrorists is to reverse the trend of decline in the Islamic world relative to Western culture that many trace as far back to September 11, 1683 when a large Turkish army was humiliatingly crushed by Europeans at the Battle of Vienna.

In 1683, the Ottoman Turks attacked Vienna. The Turks viewed Vienna as the gateway to hegemony over all of Western Europe. The resulting battle of Vienna was a watershed moment in history. The Turks had made elaborate preparations and had assembled resources and Jihadists eager for booty from throughout the Ottoman Empire. Europe was quite vulnerable as it was fractured into warring kingdoms and weakened by internecine squabbles that nearly allowed the Turks to conquer the European continent. However, the Turkish preparations were so elaborate that they could not be hidden and the Europeans were able to form agreements or treaties to assist each other against the Turks that proved decisive and which changed the course of human history.

Read the Full Article from Islam Watchсондажи

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Untether with Amazon Fire TV

amazon_fire1The Amazon Fire TV is a tiny box that connects your HDTV to a huge selection of TV episodes, movies, games, apps and more. Most importantly, this little technology box is a cable killer simply put.

Having been introduced to streaming TV first through the Microsoft XBox and the Nintendo WII, it was a natural progression to pickup a Roku to experience a fully functioning and dedicated streaming TV box. So when Amazon announced their Fire TV device, my thoughts turned towards possibly untethering from our cable company and going completely internet.

The specs on the Fire TV definitely supported this new direction for our family’s TV entertainment. The Fire TV boasts fast and fluid video thanks to a quad-core processor, a dedicated Adreno 320 graphics engine, 2GB of memory, voice search, instant start video and up to 1080p HD with dolby digital plus up to 7.1 through HDMI or optical out. This little box sounded like a dream!

Such a project and decision really requires input from everyone in your house. What TV shows does everyone watch and are they available online or not. We quicklwifi_extendery determined that while we could make the break from our $100 a month cable bill, it was going to require some additional setup and flexibility.

1. We needed to make sure that our Wi-Fi signal was powerful enough throughout the house, so we purchased a Netgear dual band Wi-Fi range extender. This was perfect for our second floor viewing which provided a strong signal as if the router was right next to our video streaming devices.

2. While the prospects of dropping our cable company was exciting, the one major hurdle was the news, local programming and sports. So in stepped our solution in the form of an HD antenna for each T.V. We never knew how many free HD channels there were, almost 35 for our local area and now we are seriously thinking on installing a roof antenna to pickup even more channels across the region.

3. And finally the last hurdle to overcome was certain programs that family members watch and could not part with. So we decided to have a monthly budget available to purchase season passes, rentals and movies. We set a monthly limit of $50 and so far we have come in way below this number mainly because season passes last 4-5 months. Plus our TV viewing goes up and down depending on the time of the year, so our expectation amazon_fire2was that we may not even need to make any purchases in some months.

Having worked out all of these pieces prior to the arrival of the Fire TV, we anticipated our new setup until the day when the Fire TV finally arrived. Once hooked up we were pleased to learn that Amazon had already setup all of our account information. Within 5 minutes we had the Fire TV playing a few shows and checking out the app store with the many free games available.

The Fire controller fits like a glove and is very easy to use. Overall the controller and Fire TV itself are made of high-quality materials. We highly suggest that you pick up the Fire TV game controller, which is needed to play some of the online games, but also because it serves as an alternative TV controller which some might prefer over the smaller controller. Be sure to check out Serv Zero, the first game to be specifically developed for the Fire TV, which can be found in the app store for free. This console game is well worth the cost of the game controller and it even works simultaneously with the Kindle Fire version for multi-player cooperation!

While the Amazon Fire TV boasts some impressive technologamazon_fire3ies compared to Apple TV, Roku or Google Chromecast, it does have a few draw backs. For one, the menu system is not as easy as some of the other devices on the market. It took a few days to get use to how to navigate the menu. Second, it seemed that all of the shows and movies were grouped into one location, so it was hard to determine which shows were free (included with your prime membership) or that you had to pay for. For those that do not know, an Amazon Prime members gives you access to thousands of shows all for a yearly subscription which works out to about $8-$9 a month (If you are a frequent customer on the Amazon website, you get free 2-day shipping on all of your orders). And finally the voice search does not work across all of your video apps like Netflix. There is limited support for hulu which was a big plus for us.

Still, Amazon Fire TV is new and we do expect that a lot of these issues should be fixed over the next 6 months as Amazon hears feedback from their customers. This would servinclude opening up the voice search to all video apps and perhaps coming up with an easier navigation system.

In the end, we were able to drop our cable provider and save $100 a month. Fire TV made it easy with lightening fast videos and a lot of additional features such as Apps, Games and more. Purchasing this device as our main entertainment system resulted in our Roku and Nintendo Wii-U to be used in other rooms in the house. And for our kitchen we have a Google Chromecast for on the fly viewing in the family meeting area.

While this solution worked for us, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Untethering from the Cable company will require several hours of planning and work to accomplish your setup. It will also require a little technology savvy, so if you are not the best at configuring electronics and working with home networks, you might want to hire a local company. Or if you have a friend and family member that is good at networks and technology, invite them over for dinner to discuss how to best implement your multimedia network.

All in all we will give the Amazon Fire TV a 4 star rating. If it were not for the menu system and voice search working globallamazon_fire4y it would be a 5 star review, but again we expect Amazon to keep working on this product with future updates planned to address these short comings.

 

 

 

Purchase Fire TV Now!

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Battle of Bannockburn – 700 Years Ago

Battle of BannockburnThe 23 and 24 of June hold a special meaning for Scotland and England as the two countries commemorate one of the longest battles of Medieval times: the battle of Bannockburn. This battle marked a brief period of independence under the rule of King Robert Bruce, a much coveted time of relative peace in the tumultuous campaigns of Scottish independence.

Since historical events never happen in isolation, the best way to revisit the Battle of Bannockburn is starting with the campaigns that preceded the victorious clash.

Around the world, most people will remember the name William Wallace – represented inaccurately by Aussie Mel Gibson – and associate it with the campaign for Scotland’s independence. While Wallace did set the background for the success at Bannockburn, he died a gruesome death before seeing Scotland achieve this victory.

During Wallace’s time, England and Scotland faced each other in the battlefield several times. England wanted to invade and control Scotland, while Scotland fought to remain independent. Things were looking up for England at first, having won the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, and at the Capture of Berwick in 1296. The Scots, despite their fewer numbers and less equipped men, were victorious at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.

It was a brilliant and opportunistic victory, with William Wallace and Andrew Moray leading Scotland in a less than chivalrous encounter against England. Funnelled down Stirling Bridge, the English army quickly became sitting ducks as the Scottish forces waited in the other side to slaughter them. The Scots were also helped by what could have been seen as providence: the Stirling bridge collapsed under the weight of the armies, drowning many an English soldier. The spirits were high in Scotland, but the country would suffer a whiplash that would end in Wallace’s death.

Edward I didn’t take lightly the English defeat in Stirling, and with the support of Welsh longbow-men claimed victory for his country at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. Defeated, Wallace handed over the power to the future king, Robert the Bruce, and to John III Comyn. It was in 1305 that William Wallace was captured and met his gruesome fate. And when we say gruesome, we mean it: he was hanged, drawn by horses, emasculated, disembowelled, beheaded and chopped into four pieces in the traditional torment reserved for traitors.

With Wallace gone, it was up to Robert Bruce to reclaim independence for Scotland, using the tried method of guerilla warfare and territorial advantage. Small victories against England cemented Robert Bruce’s leadership and the credibility as head of the Scottish armed forces, formal or otherwise.

By then, Edward I had died, and Edward II took his place on the throne of England. He wasn’t the warrior and strategist that his father had been, and this became an advantage for the Scottish forces. He fought and lost several encounters against Bruce, and was only able to hold onto a fortress in Berwick and one in Stirling. It wasn’t looking good for Edward II and his army, who suffered due to his lack of assertive military tactics and the constant disputes within his senior command.

Amidst this inner turmoil, the English forces moved forward to meet Bruce’s army in a woodland near Torwood. Where exactly, it’s hard to tell. Bannockburn is one of the most disputed battlefields, with at least 5 alternative locations in which historians assure the battle actually happened.

Numbers are hazy at best, but it is clear that the battle for Scotland’s independence was a David and Goliath story, with less than 10,000 Scots facing more than 16,000 English soldiers. Cavalry, infantry and knights against foot soldiers and a handful of horsemen, it became a war of wits versus power, and terrain advantages versus military training.

A trustworthy source of battle knowledge, The Complete Guide to the Battlefields of Britain by David Smurthwaite, states that the armies that clashed on the battlefield may have looked like this: on the English side, there were up to 18,000 men, which included 1000 to 2000 in heavy cavalry. On the Scottish side, Smurthwaite suggests there were probably around 6000 men plus some 3000 poorly trained and equipped local forces and up to 500 of light cavalry.

During the first day of battle, Scotland showed England loud and clear that they had learned from previous defeats. The heavy English cavalry and knights needed to traverse main roads, while the light Scottish forces could fight in the woods or the marshes, a definite advantage for them. To lure the English into their trap, the Scottish forces pretended to flee into the woods and hoped to be followed by their enemy. It worked.

Those who feel for animals should avert their eyes now, because Bruce’s forces devoted their first efforts to bring down the cavalry with traps, pikes and ditches designed to kill the animals that gave his enemies an advantage. During the first day of battle, the Scots demoralized the English forces with “hit and run” tactics that threw the invaders into confusion.

When the second day of battle started, the English started on foot and left the cavalry behind. Bows and lances came first and were met by the Scottish forces, including their light cavalry, though some historians suggest that the Scots were all dismounted. But England wasn’t exclusively fighting Scotland at the moment. The conflict inside their infantry and the weak command chain was at least partly to blame for the defeat that came by the end of the day. The English King fled, and the remaining of the army died in pits, drowned in marshes or barely escaped their lethal fate. Scotland was independent again, and the English army had ceased to exist.

Now, 700 years later, the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn will acquire a political tint as a referendum to vote for Scotland’s independence is held on the memorable date. The Yes or No that Scottish citizens will cross on a ballot on 18 September will be certainly charged with historical memories and anti-English sentiments, according to Sir John Major, partly stemmed of the battle of Bannockburn. It may or may not be deliberate that, as speculated by several No voters, the referendum will be held the same year of the 700 anniversary. Will Scotland be independent again? Time will very soon tell.

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New Poll: Gerry Adams and the IRA

Gerry AdamsMost Americans no little of the troubles of Northern Ireland and the I.R.A. We watched during the late 70s and early 80s on the news each night about the bombings and the murders – but the reasons for it all and the discord between peoples of the same stock seemed to escape us.

Perhaps it is our youthful United States that makes the glue that binds us stronger than the hundreds and thousands of years of troubles between the people of Ireland, Scotland, England seem trivial and in the past. Letting go of our history, our culture and our way of life for a new life in America allowed us to let fall these ancient hatreds in the ocean and start anew.

Still, when one begins to read the story of Jean McConville (mother of 10) and how she was murdered by the I.R.A. for simply helping a wounded soldier – you cannot help but feel thankful that we live in the country of America where this would hopefully never happen.

Read the full story and take the Poll on Celtic Radio!

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