Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The French Revolution and the Terror / Cuba after Castro / The older genius / A new planet’s secrets / How Cheney remade the world

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This week: The French Revolution and the Terror / Cuba after Castro / The older genius / A new planet’s secrets / How Cheney remade the world

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. The French Revolution’s reign of terror
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC Radio 4 | May 2005
“How did the French Revolution descend into such extremes of violence? Who or what drove The Terror? And was it really an aberration of the revolutionary cause or the moment when it truly expressed itself?”

2. Why should female characters have to ‘behave’?
By Barbara Ellen | SheSaid :: The Guardian | March 27
“Did people demand that Travis Bickle shut up and get back in his cab in ‘Taxi Driver’? Did anyone tell Jack Nicholson that Jack Torrance made all men look bad in ‘The Shining’?”

3. The Dangers of a Cuban Collapse
By Daniel Serwer | Politico Magazine | March 26
“It could happen sooner than we think. Is Obama ready?”

4. Late Bloomers
By Malcolm Gladwell | The New Yorker | 2008
“Why do we equate genius with precocity?”

5. Mammy Revealed, and Not Just Her Red Petticoat
By Julie Bosman | The New York Times | March 26
“‘Gone With the Wind’ Prequel Coming in October”

6. Dwarf planet discovery hints at a hidden Super Earth in solar system
By Ian Sample | The Guardian | March 26
“Though exciting in its own right, the discovery raises a more tantalising prospect for many astronomers: that a ‘Super Earth’ up to 10 times the mass of our planet orbits the sun at such a great distance that it has never been seen.”

7. He Remade Our World
By Mark Danner | The New York Review of Books | April 3
“Cheney believed in a ‘unitary executive,’ believed quite literally that ‘the executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.’ ”

8. Could a tsunami such as the one that affected the Indian Ocean [in 2004] happen in the United States?
Can It Happen Here? :: U.S. Geological Survey | 2014
“We outline the sources of data that can help answer the question, and then indicate when and how large tsunamis have been for specific regions of the U.S.”

9. Unraveling the mystery of Vivian Maier, one of America’s great street photographers
By Kristin Hohenadel | The Eye :: Slate | March 24
“Maier was intensely private, socially awkward, estranged from family, a loner; even those who shared the same roof with her seemed merely to observe the eccentric woman who insisted on locking her bedroom door and fiercely guarding her boxes of worldly possessions, without ever knowing exactly who she was.”

10. Ankara: ‘Israel to compensate Turkey’ over flotilla raid
Al-Arabiya | March 25
“The May 2010 Israeli assault on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara while it was in international waters on its way to Gaza triggered a severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries.”

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TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Band Of Heathens — Jenny Was A Keeper
2. Dr.Wu — Nothing Like Texas
3. The Arc Angles — Good Time
4. Albert Collins — Iceman
5. Rory Gallagher — Loanshark Blues
6. Red Hot Blues Sisters — Ocean Beach
7. The Fabulous Thunderbirds — Got To Get Out
8. Mick Hayes Band — Maria
9. Robin Trower — 21st Century Blues
10. Cross Canadian Ragweed — Boys From Oklahoma
11. Jimmy Thackery — Empty Arms Motel
12. The Blue Dogs — Make My Way
13. Devon Allman — Midnight Rider

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The petted darling

Stone endures some new Arkansas friends as she chokes back tears over the loss of one from Louisiana.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone endures some new Arkansas friends as she chokes back tears over the loss of one from Louisiana.

March 20, 1864

Tyler, Texas

I spent last week in the country, just the wildest most remote section of civilization, with the Goddards, who were complete strangers until then. They are from Arkansas and were recommended to us by Julia some time ago.

We had seen some nice-looking strangers at church in the morning. In the afternoon in the midst of our animated chat with Capts. Smithy and Empy, callers came. The young ladies were announced and introduced themselves. They were so cordial and said they had come the twenty miles to meet us and to carry me home with them and were so insistent that I could hardly refuse, particularly as Mamma urged me to go. So I accompanied them next morning just twenty miles from anywhere.

Mr. Goddard has a hat factory established there, and we spent the time as pleasantly as one could in a rough new house perched on a white sandbank in the midst of a limitless pine forest with rather silent strangers. No amusements except riding horseback on rough horses over roads of deep white sand studded with stumps. Only the necessaries, none of the luxuries of life. On the seventh day I was only too glad to come home, though I had to do what none of us had ever done before — drive home in a buggy driven by an old, old Negro man. Mr. Goddard had promised to bring me home at any time. He would not hear of Mamma’s sending for me, and so I was helpless to get away. I shall not forgive any of them for sending me back in that style, and I never want to see any of them again. I was scared all day long, coming so slowly through those lonely woods, few houses on the way. The old driver was as respectful as possible, but the idea of the trip was perfectly repugnant. Mamma did not like it one bit more than I.

Mamma returned Saturday. She succeeded in her mission and My Brother will be transferred to this department if he can get across the river, but that is very doubtful. …

Mamma heard that Kate Nailor is dead, leaving a little child. My darling girl, I can never love any other friend as I have loved her. She was all that was good and pure and most beautiful, and hers was a happy, lovely life but for My Brother whose hand alone had given her myrrh to drink. She was the petted darling of her entire household never refused any wish that could be gratified.

Looking Back: Her honorable adventure

When the U.S. entered World War II, Bertha Flores faced down family tradition to serve in the Navy. It was an adventure she would never forget and an experience she would never regret.

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Today in 1921, Guadalupe Berta Rodriguez Flores was born in San Antonio, Texas. When the U.S. entered World War II, Flores faced down family tradition to serve in the Navy. It was an adventure she would never forget and an experience she would never regret.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series will highlight a few of these fascinating lives.

Bertha Flores, born on March 16, 1921, was raised in a quiet San Antonio family. Her father believed women belonged at home and no where else. The U.S. entered World War II in 1941, and he was not happy when his daughter joined the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES in 1943.

Her first big adventure came simply on the cross-country train trip from San Antonio to basic training in New York City. Flores marveled at every city and town she passed. She loved the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and the variety of women she encountered as she prepared herself for wartime military service. Flores was one of only a handful of Latinas in her class. She made friends, danced, and trained to become a teletype operator.

She served at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, and she never forgot what the experience taught her. Read her wonderful profile here.

Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The mournful whistle

Some domestic drama disturbs the March boredom at the Stone home when an old family friend decides to move.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Some domestic drama disturbs the March boredom at the Stone home when an old family friend decides to move.

March 8, 1864

Tyler, Texas

I am quite alone tonight, not even a book for company. Mamma is in Shreveport trying to get a transfer for My Brother. The boys are in their room studying, and Sister, after suffering agony for the last twenty-four hours, has at last fallen asleep. The Negroes have left the yard. Even the dogs have forgotten to bark and are dozing on the gallery. The only sounds to break the stillness are the constant chirps of the crickets, the croaking of the rain crows heard afar off, and the mournful whistle of some Texas night-bird borne up from the thickety banks of the little stream … at the foot of the hill.

The wild March wind has subsided to a gentle zephyr, rustling the dry leaves still clinging to the stunted oaks till now when the new shoots are budding out to push them off.

But to descend to dry facts. Our greatest event has been the breaking up of the pleasant household of the last four months. We were all getting on quite pleasantly and all seemed satisfied and happier than ever before in Texas. None of us thought of change, when suddenly one frosty morning came the announcement from Mrs. Carson that she knew of a house to be rented and she would move to it. She thought the households would be better apart. Of course there was nothing to be said, and Mamma at once assented, only offering to take the other house and let Mrs. Carson remain here. But she preferred the new domicile, and so, presto-change, before we hardly realized it they were packed up and away a mile across the hill.

There had not been the shadow of disagreement, and we thought Mrs. Carson perfectly satisfied. We never have known why she left in such a hurry. All the children but Jimmy Stone were disgusted at the change. They were so enjoying themselves together. Mrs. Carson has kept most closely at home rarely calling on either Mamma or Mrs. Savage and she will seldom allow the boys or Katie to come. Such a change from her former habit of going out once or twice every day and doing nothing but talk between times. It seems very odd. She says she is entirely taken up with her housekeeping and sewing, two things she was never known to do in the past. … I think Mamma is rather relieved. Mrs. Carson often bored Mamma by insisting on talking to her hours at the time. I could not have stood it as Mamma did.

We have refugee visitors but the natives … still hold aloof. Capt. King with his dark, sleepy eyes and grand air is a frequent visitor. … The other afternoon we were enjoying our ease, Mamma lolling back in one chair, her feet on another, Sister romping over the bed, and I reclining on several pillows, when we heard a knock at the door. Thinking it one of the servants, we called out, ” Come in.” Who should stalk in with his most dignified air, flashing in crimson and gold, but Capt. King, calling to say good-bye, having been ordered off.

Fortunately for us, he is too near-sighted to notice much, and so the disorder of the room escaped him. …