Kate Stone’s Civil War: That land of desolation

Martial optimism mixes with frustration as Stone sits down to sew, only because her seamstress slave has escaped.

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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)

Martial optimism mixes with frustration as Stone sits down to sew, only because her seamstress slave has escaped.

May 29, 1864

Tyler, Texas

The news this morning is enough to make one hurrah. Grant is repulsed with a loss of 45,000 and Johnston is victorious at Dalton with 10,000 prisoners captured. Providence is smiling on our arms this year. Not a defeat. Peace, glorious Peace, will gladden our hearts before the spring flowers bloom again.

It is the fairest of May days and Mamma has gone to church. I stayed with Johnny, who is feeling unwell and is in bed. Mamma will find it unpleasantly warm walking that mile from church. Oh, for a carriage! My ambition reaches out only for a carriage and a riding horse for Johnny, then I shall be satisfied for a little while. I doubt that I was ever intended for a poor girl. Deprivations go hard with me. Mamma has more strength of mind than to worry about it.

A wagon just arrived from the prairie loaded with eatables. … Not a cent of money in the house for a week and only hard fare. As the wagon has come, Jimmy’s trip was useless. All the Negroes are well and affairs are flourishing in that land of desolation. The last few days have been as dismal as a rainy Sunday. We miss Julia. No letters, no visitors, and even the boys have half-way deserted us. … Mrs. Savage grows ruder every day. She is so often rough and unkind in her speech that the boys all stand in terror of her tongue and will hardly venture to go there.

May 30

Our first busy day this spring, sewing on the cloth from the prairie. We are at last using homespun. Hemmed a dozen towels today, looking much like the dish towels of old. Little Sister is to have an outfit from the same piece, but she quite glories in the idea of wearing homespun and coming out a regular Texan. The house servants are charmed to see the cloth. They have been fit suspects for the ragman for weeks. Mamma is readying up Charles, who has been a regular ragamuffin.

We are sorry Adeline, the seamstress, selected this as a fit time to run away. It keeps our hands full. Mamma sent Felix back to Mr. Smith and has Thomas in his place. We think he will be an improvement. …

BOB DYLAN | The Gospel of Bob

By David D. Robbins Jr. | Their Bated Breath

Bob Dylan is the greatest songwriter on the planet. Period.

Call him the voice of a generation. Or the Poet Laureate of Rock n Roll. Just know that he views those superlatives as shackles. It’s the burden of expectation he’d eventually learn was better answered with more music and obtuse off-stage answers. It’s better to think of Dylan as the ultimate shape-shifter. A chameleon. A kind of music escape artist as apt as Harry Houdini. He’s an old-world trickster, donning any guise that helps him create music. Dylan has played the hobo traversing the rails, a beatnik’s vessel for peace, a street-wise Shakespeare, a carnival showman, a bullshitter of the first order, a scorned savior with a thorn in his side, a waiting lover, a clown, a caustic wretch, and an angel warning of a wave large enough to drown the…

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Kate Stone’s Civil War: Our best fancy yellow organdies

Stone offers a slice of springtime social life in East Texas as friends and neighbors come and go.

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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 offers a slice of springtime social life in East Texas as friends and neighbors come and go.

May 25, 1864

Tyler, Texas

We have bidden Julia and Mrs. Payne farewell this evening. “It may be for years and it may be forever,” as they return to Camden the entire cortege, Negroes and all. Maj. Street sent an ambulance for them and they secured a wagon here. Julia is perfectly delighted to go back, but Mrs. Payne is not so pleased. I surely would let that strong, healthy Major come for me. I would not travel 200 miles over rough jolting roads to meet him. But then I am not in love with him and she is. That makes a vast difference, I suppose. I spent the night with her, and we sat up nearly all night having our last confidential chat together.

Thursday Julia and I, dressed in our best fancy yellow organdies, went calling with Mamma. Found nearly everyone out. Julia and I deserted Mamma and perambulated around town looking for flowers, stealing them through the palings and decorating our heads with them. At Mrs. Wells’, we were regaled on huge slices of poundcake and fine music. Jimmy Stone and I rode out to see Mrs. Prentice. She likes Jimmy very much and says he reminds her so of her young son Horace, who died at about his age. The ride was delightful through the woods, sweet with the wild grape fragrance.

Jimmy Stone has gone to the prairie [Lamar County], and Johnny is lost without him. Our usual succession of visitors — boys, officers, doctors, and ladies.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Adm. McRaven speaks to UT’s Class of 2014 / Humans’ interest in animals / Key tech at Normandy / What the NYT innovation report means

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This week: Adm. McRaven speaks to UT’s Class of 2014 / Humans’ interest in animals / Key tech at Normandy / What the NYT innovation report means

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 Real Meaning of Julián Castro’s HUD Nomination
By Sara Ines Calderon | Todo Texas | May 19
“If the Castro brothers both go to Washington, Texas is gonna have to do some soul searching to find the next batch of rising stars.”

2. The leaked ‘New York Times’ innovation report is one of the key documents of this media age
By Joshua Benton | Nieman Journalism Lab | May 15
“It’s an astonishing look inside the cultural change still needed in the shift to digital — even in one of the world’s greatest newsrooms. Read it.”

3. The New York Times’ ‘Innovation Report’ Is a Disaster
By David Warsh | Politico Magazine | May 23
“Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. would be a fool to follow his son’s advice.”

4. To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed
By William McRaven | University of Texas 2014 Commencement | May 2014
“If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.”

5. Thug: A Life of Caravaggio in Sixty-Nine Paragraphs
By Stephen Akey | The Millions | May 16
“23. In Rome, being a lot better than everybody else (with the sole exception of Annibale Carracci) and loudly proclaiming it to the world wasn’t necessarily a wise career move. The long knives came out.”

6. Animal magnetism
By David P. Barash | Aeon Magazine | May 2014
“Humans are fascinated by our fellow animals — is that just an evolutionary hangover or something more profound?”

7. The Misery Of Air Travel And What We Can Do About It
By Laren Stiller Rikleen | Cognoscenti :: WBUR | May 20
“On a regular basis, air travelers face inexplicable delays, over-booked flights, lost luggage, long waits on the tarmac, cabins that are too hot in one half and too cold in the other and diminished service at every stage of the process. Pricing is incomprehensible.”

8. 12 Pieces of Tech That Turned the Tide At Normandy
By Martin K.A. Morgan | Gizmodo | May 20
“The Allied Invasion of Normandy was one of the single most logistically and strategically complex maneuvers ever concocted by the U.S. military. With a strike force numbering in the hundreds of thousands and the momentum of the entire counter-offensive hanging in the balance, there was simply no room for failure.”

9. Look Up In The Sky And Live Big
By Adam Frank | 13.7 Cosmos and Culture :: NPR | May 20
“If you can get far enough out into the country, the Milky Way can be be seen in all its glory.”

10. The Collective Intelligence of the Web
By James Surowiecki | Elements :: The New Yorker | May 19
“It’s easy to see how the Web has transformed the way we shop, the way we consume media, and the way we communicate with one another. But it’s also begun to change the way we make decisions and even forecast the future.”

The Real Meaning of Julián Castro’s HUD Nomination

Recommended reading …

Todo Texas

Over the weekend I received a text from one of my politics-obsessed friends: “NYT: Castro to get HUD.” As I was out and about, more interested in the conjunto festival in San Antonio than its political shakeup, it took a while for all of that political dust to settle on my distracted brain.

Once it did, however, the first thought that came to mind was not what Castro’s move meant for the 2016 election and whispers of a potential VP nomination from Hillary Clinton. No, my thoughts were much more local: too bad for San Antonio.

Julián and Joaquín Castro are among the most exciting rising political stars to come from Texas in a long time, replete with a rags-to-riches, against-the-odds story that had a happy ending. And as I recently explained to a friend from California, it’s not like there’s another dozen of them, or anyone similar to them, waiting in…

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Kate Stone’s Civil War: To kill and destroy

As a Tyler mob hangs suspected jayhawkers, disease ravages the Union prisoners of war, and an unsympathetic Stone refuses to help them. She hears rumors of a great battle in Virginia between the “Invincible Lee” and his new adversary, Ulysses S. Grant.

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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)

As a Tyler mob hangs suspected jayhawkers, disease ravages the Union prisoners of war, and an unsympathetic Stone refuses to help them. She hears rumors of a great battle in Virginia between the “Invincible Lee” and his new adversary, Ulysses S. Grant.

May 18, 1864

Tyler, Texas

There was a terrible tragedy enacted here today. Three men, noted Jayhawkers, were taken out of jail and just out of town were hanged by mob law. It is horrible and makes one shudder to think of it, though it is said they richly deserved their fate. The leader of the gang was the sheriff of the county, and the two who suffered with him were his sons-in-law. They were not from this county.

Three Yankees died today at the hospital, which is not strange as they are so dreadfully crowded and have the roughest fare. But we cannot help them. They should have stayed in their own bountiful country instead of coming down here to kill and destroy. Our good news continues. Steele and Banks are still falling back. A great battle is rumored in Virginia, Grant’s first fight in his “On to Richmond.” He is opposed by the Invincible Lee, and so we are satisfied we won the victory. But it makes us anxious for My Brother.

Hutch Bowman was here for two or three days and has gone on to his command. He and Joe are together. Hutch is dreadfully tanned, looks a regular Texan, a slow, good boy but a great romp. We see Mrs. Savage, Julia, and Mrs. Carson every day. Julia is crazy to get back to Camden. As we prophesied, she does not like it here. But I would let the Major come for me. I would not go to him even in times of war.

For the last few days no stages have come in, and how we do miss the mails, one of Tyler’s chief attractions. Jimmy Stone has stopped going to school and studies English at home. He is eager to get off to the army. Uncle Johnny, Kate, and the baby are all improving and look less like shadows and more like human beings.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Deadly Africa / Celebrating ‘Dr. Strangelove’ / Our nation of secrets / Touring the 9/11 museum / Attacking Obama’s drone war

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This week: Deadly Africa / Celebrating ‘Dr. Strangelove’ / Our nation of secrets / Touring the 9/11 museum / Attacking Obama’s drone war

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. Between Life and Death
Lifeline :: Al Jazeera English | May 15
“Why is Africa still the most dangerous place in the world for mothers and babies?”

2. Robert Capa’s Longest Day
By Marie Brenner | Vanity Fair | June 2014
“Seventy years ago, the great war photographer joined the first slaughterhouse wave of D-Day, recording WWII’s pivotal battle in 11 historic images of blur and grit. But that is only a fraction compared with what he shot — and lost.”

3. The half-century anniversary of ‘Dr. Strangelove’
By David Denby | Culture Desk :: The New Yorker | May 14
“It may be hard to believe now, but Kubrick’s original intention was to do a straight, serious movie. In the late fifties, he became obsessed with the possibility of an accidental nuclear war. …”

4. ‘So Jayson Blair Could Live, The Journalist Had to Die’
By Sridhar Pappu | New York Observer | May 2013
“Why had he done it? Why had a promising 27-year-old reporter with a career in high gear at the most respected news organization in the world thrown it all away in a pathological binge of dishonesty?”

5. A Grandson Traces His Grandfather’s Voyage to Auschwitz
The Takeaway :: WNYC | May 13
“The ship was the MS St. Louis. It departed from Hamburg, Germany on May 13th, 1939, with 937 Jewish refugees seeking asylum abroad. But the ship’s passengers were denied refuge by the United States, Canada, and Cuba. The ship returned back to Europe on June 20, sealing a tragic fate for many aboard.”

6. The United States of Secrets
Frontline | May 13
“How did the government come to spy on millions of Americans?”

7. 9/11 Memorial Museum: an emotional underworld beneath Ground Zero
By Oliver Wainwright | The Guardian | May 13
“Scorched car doors, salvaged firefighters’ uniforms, banners, toys and the hallowed ‘last column’ to be removed from the World Trade Center clearance … the relics of the twin towers have been elevated into art objects at the new museum. …”

8. Jeb 2016: The Bush battle within
By Maggie Haberman | Politico | May 13
“Jeb Bush’s decision whether to run for president in 2016 is being driven by competing impulses within his own family.”

9. #BringBackYourDrones drive launched against FLOTUS
Al Arabiya English | May 14
“A relatively small group of social media users said the first lady was overlooking the victims of the U.S.’s drone program which is operated mainly in Yemen and Afghanistan.”

10. This is the world’s oldest sperm
By Jamie Condliffe | Gizmodo | May 14
“The samples found themselves in the hands of John Neil, a specialist ostracod — that’s fancy for shrimp — researcher at La Trobe University, who realized they may contain something a little more… ballsy.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Solar-powered White House / Interactive Afghan wars / 10 overlooked novels / Political apologies / The new Army

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This week: Solar-powered White House / Interactive Afghan wars / 10 overlooked novels / Political apologies / The new Army

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. Solar panels return to the W.H.
By Alex Guillen | Politico | May 9
“Three decades after Ronald Reagan had Jimmy Carter’s solar panels tossed into the energy dustbin, the White House has finished putting sun-powered electricity back on top of the executive mansion in a small but symbolic gesture.”

2. Portait of the Army as a Work in Progress
By Rosa Brooks | Foreign Policy | May 2014
“The service’s plan to revamp itself for the post-post-9/11 world is ambiguous and rife with contradiction. That’s what makes it brilliant.”

3. How Russia arms America’s southern neighbors
By Ioan Grillo | GlobalPost | May 9
“Russia is now the largest weapons dealer to governments in Latin America”

4. 10 overlooked novels: how many have you read?
By John Sutherland | The Guardian | May 6
“A hilarious romance by a precocious nine-year-old. The fantasies of a septuagenarian foot fetishist. An aristocrat’s life spent doing nothing on a sofa. Just some of the riches contained in 10 little-known books that deserve to be treasured”

5. Interactive Timeline: War in Afghanistan
By Zack Stanton | The Wilson Quarterly | May 2014
“If you want to understand the U.S. War in Afghanistan, place it in a larger historical context: Afghanistan’s 35-year civil war.”

6. The Art of the Political Apology
By Edwin Battistella | Politico Magazine | May 7
“From Bill to Monica and everyone in between, a guide to saying sorry.”

7. America’s Purpose and Role in a Changed World
By Carl Gershman | World Affairs | May/June 2014
“One important question we face today, however, more than five years into the Obama presidency, is whether the current policy of retrenchment is a standard correction after a period of maximalism, or something else.”

8. John Oliver, Charming Schold
By Ian Crouch | Culture Desk :: The New Yorker | May 8
“Regarding the death penalty — which was in the news last week, after a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma — Oliver reached for simile: ‘The death penalty is like the McRib. When you can’t have it, it’s so tantalizing. But when they bring it back, you think, This is ethically wrong.’ ”

9. Onward to Europa
By Lee Billings | Aeon Magazine | May 2013
“The oceans of Jupiter’s ice worlds might be swimming with life — so why do we keep sending robots to Mars?”

10. All the World’s Glaciers, Mapped
By Megan Garber | The Atlantic | May 7
“The first statistical analysis of the world’s glacier distribution offers insight into melting ice. ”

Kate Stone’s Civil War: To every young lady

Recent Confederate victories still warm Stone’s heart, and neighboring Louisiana refugees are optimistic they will be home soon. But Stone thinks otherwise even as she rides past a prison camp filled with thousands of Union prisoners.

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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)

Recent Confederate victories still warm Stone’s heart, and neighboring Louisiana refugees are optimistic they will be home soon. But Stone thinks otherwise even as she rides past a prison camp filled with thousands of Union prisoners.

May 7, 1864

Tyler, Texas

Uncle Johnny and family are living with us now. They are all in bad health, but Tyler will build them up. …

Jimmy and Eddie have just left. Both the Jimmies are in a high state of indignation and contempt at an order signed by Gen. [Edmund] Kirby Smith just received from Shreveport detailing them as overseers. So Mrs. Carson was successful and sent it on. The boys consider it a perfect outrage and say they will not submit to such a thing.

Jimmy and I went out to see Mrs. Levy and found them most sanguine as to the speedy close of the war. They think we will be traveling homeward by fall, but I think not before next spring. …

We have company nearly all the time now. It makes it seem something like the old home days, a crowded house. Mrs. Gen. Roane and Capts. Smith and Empy were out recently. She is very pleasant, though Julia has taken a prejudice against her. Julia has liked only one person she has met Capt. Empy. He is a great flatterer with a stock of ready-made compliments that he weighs out to every young lady as a grocer weighs out sugar. He is persuaded that he is irresistible. Capt. Smith has long hair and is a rollicking, jolly young fellow overflowing with fun.

Dr. McGregor says there is much sickness in town, and he is too busy for much calling. Jimmy Carson and I rode out beyond the Yankee camp yesterday. The blue-coated prisoners are swarming within the stockade, several thousand of them, and those captured in Arkansas are expected every day. I rode Gold Dust. He is so well-gaited. Joe begs me to keep him and to ride him to death if I wish, but to let no one else ride him.