Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Hating the monoliths / Maradona’s darker legacy / How to press flowers / The missing in Mexico / Shakespeare’s heroines

This week: Hating the monoliths / Maradona’s darker legacy / How to press flowers / The missing in Mexico / Shakespeare’s heroines

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

1. Tributes to Diego Maradona show how easily violence against women is ignored
By Joan Smith | The Guardian | November 2020
“Too often we’re in denial about the fact that heroes — such as Maradona and Sean Connery — might also be abusers”

2. The Can-Do Power
By Samantha Power | Foreign Affairs | January / February 2021
“The Biden administration should … pursue foreign policy initiatives that can quickly highlight the return of American expertise and competence.”

3. Yo-Yo Ma and the Meaning of Life
By David Marchese | Talk :: The New York Times Magazine | November 2020
“It’s all the connections we make in life. Once you’re connected, you feel responsibility. And ‘connected’ means that it’s a circular loop. I know you, but you have to know me, too. There’s an energy circle that goes back and forth.”

4. How to Press Flowers
By Malia Wollan | Tip :: The New York Times Magazine | August 2020
“Each bit of plant material should be spread out carefully and sandwiched between layers of nonglossy blotting paper and sheets of cardboard.”

5. The search for the disappeared points to Mexico’s darkest secrets
By Mary Beth Sheridan | The Washington Post | December 2020
“More than 79,000 people have disappeared in Mexico, most of them since 2006. It’s the worst crisis of the disappeared in Latin America since the Cold War. … And Mexico’s numbers keep rising. Last year saw a record. Mexicans are uncovering two clandestine graves a day, on average.”

6. Witty women
By Rhodri Lewis | Times Literary Supplement | December 2020
“Shakespeare’s languages and the origin of his comic heroines”

7. The Monoliths Are Stupid and I Hate Them
By Sarah Jones | Intelligencer :: New York Magazine | December 2020
“They feel like the last authentic objects in the world. Next to them the monoliths can only be props, a brief and frantic distraction. Escape lies just beyond them, in open land and an unblemished sky.”

8. The history of First Ladies’ hairstyles, untangled
By Matthew Sweet | 1843 :: The Economist | November 2020
“Haircuts in the White House are never just cosmetic. There’s a political message in every strand”

9. 2020 Has Been Miserable. Is Extreme Masculinity to Blame?
By Peter Glick | Politico Magazine | November 2020
“Whether it’s the refusal to wear a mask during a pandemic or the win-at-all-costs approach to elections, 2020 has been a banner year for a particularly toxic masculinity”

10. Can mosquitoes spread the coronavirus?
Viral Questions :: Associated Press | August 2020
“No. While mosquitoes can spread some diseases, most notably malaria, experts say COVID-19 is not among them.”

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A fever of apprehension

Life amidst a Texas spring goes on, with blossoming flowers, sunshine, and church services. All stare into an unknowable future.

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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)

Life amidst a Texas spring goes on, with blossoming flowers, sunshine, and church services. All stare into an unknowable future.

May 20, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Still on the rack of uncertainty as regards our future. Flying rumors of the most exciting character keep us in a fever of apprehension. We do not know whether armed resistance is over or whether we are to fight on to the bitter end. If the news of the way in which the people of the Trans-Mississippi Department are ground to the earth is true, it would be better for us to resist as long as there is a man left to load a gun. Gloom and despondency cloud every face. … Better years of battle than a peace like this is the cry of all we see. Our latest news is that people in this department have an armistice of thirty days to resign themselves to the inevitable. I suppose it is a breathing space to collect our scattered energies and brace ourselves for the stern trials of the future.

And Nature smiles down on all this wretchedness. The loveliest of May mornings and the air is sweet with the perfume of the star jasmine. Our summer house in the yard is covered with it, and it is now white with blooms. The finest variety we ever saw. This soil suits it better than ours. That arbour is a favorite retreat, and we spend many gay, dolorous, and charming hours in its shade.

Sister is off to school, Sunday school, and we are all ready for church. It behooves us to ask aid from Our Maker when all else is failing us. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Out of time

An early-spring Texas cold front has scattered Stone’s beloved flowers, and she sinks into a depression as friends suddenly turn their backs and her brother wants to fight his school nemesis again.

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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)

An early-spring Texas cold front has scattered Stone’s beloved flowers, and she sinks into a depression as friends suddenly turn their backs and her brother wants to fight his school nemesis again.

April 1, 1865

Tyler, Texas

A wild March wind is howling around the house, scattering the glory of the white and pink blossoms that have made the town so lovely for the last week. The white and purple lilacs yesterday were in full bloom, great plumes, redolent of perfume, but today the rude norther has drifted the fragrant petals far and wide. On the mantle is our first spring bouquet, wreathes of flowering almond, tufts of brilliant phlox, a handful of the coral honeysuckle loved by the boys, gold and purple pansies, as large as those in Louisiana, and sweetest of all, the cluster of purple and white lilac. Lilacs grow so much better in this red soil than in the swamp.

Though the buds and flowers of fair spring are with us, we are feeling the truth of the poet’s song, “What is friendship but a name?” Our refugee friends, Mrs. Carson and Mrs. Savage, have grown cold toward us, and we do not know what is wrong. It worries Mamma very much. Though we may pretend not to feel the wound, it is no less painful. As to Mrs. Carson, Mamma long ago realized that she had no conception of real friendship. Her nature is too shallow to be true to anyone. The last friend is always the best with her. But Mamma had a right to look for real friendship at Mrs. Savage’s hands, but she has not secured it. Her friendship is … worthless. … She showed plainly in the affair of the house that Mamma’s interest was as nothing to her compared to Mrs. Alexander’s, a friend of a few months. Mamma is disturbed by it, for she considered Mrs. Savage one of her very best friends.

Mrs. Alexander sent to ask Mamma to let her keep the house, but that would deprive us entirely of a home as Mamma had given up the one we are in and planted a garden at the Alexander house. It was impossible and we will move in May. We will be glad to move to the Brazos this fall and put the past and its false friends behind us. …

Beauregard is all right. We hear that Gen. Sherman is dead. …

Johnny is in a dreadful humor and makes us all feel it because Mamma will not allow him to have another fight with Charley Ligruski. Boys of Johnny’s age are generally self-willed and disobedient, Mamma can do but little with him, and now he is of no assistance to her. Everything seems to be going wrong, most probably because I myself am out of time, and so no more scribbling until I am myself again.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The breath of flowers

Stone’s seamstress slave returns, which Stone notes with sarcasm. Later, she and a friend spend a day lounging and criticizing Texas.

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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’s seamstress slave returns, which Stone notes with sarcasm. Later, she and a friend spend a day lounging and criticizing Texas.

June 1, 1864

Tyler, Texas

Adeline got back today from her “rustication” so we turn the sewing over to her. …

Made Lela Lawrence a pretty fan today, but Jimmy has not the handle ready yet. Jimmy Carson and I have been having some charming rides over the steep hills and through the deep valleys, all fragrant with the breath of flowers.

June 6

Nearly a week of rain. … No visitors, no books, no letters, no anything. …

Emily and I spent Saturday alone at Judge Richardson’s and had a lovely time. The Judge and Mrs. Prentice went off on business, and Emily and I took possession of comfortable rocking chairs on a low shady gallery with plenty of books and a basket of green apples. Just as we were tiring of these luxuries, a gentleman, a refugee as we discovered, came to call on the Judge and made himself very entertaining for the rest of the morning. We compared notes on Texas, and I fear we rendered harsh judgment.

The Richardsons live in a secluded spot five miles from Henderson but have more comforts than anyone we know. With few neighbors, it must be awfully lonely with only her little girl and Judge Richardson. …

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

Less marriage / Buttercups’ secret / Facebook targets suicidal intent / Ongoing Iran war / Social media myths

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. Married couples at a record low
By Carol Morello | The Washington Post | Dec. 13
“Just 51 percent of all adults who are 18 and older are married, placing them on the brink of becoming a minority, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census statistics. …”

2. The Buck Stops Here: $1 Coins to Be Curtailed
By Jefrey Sparshott | The Wall Street Journal | Dec. 13
“More than 40% of the coins that are minted are returned to the government unwanted, the Treasury said. The rest apparently sit in vending machines — one of the few places they are widely used — or in the drawers of coin collectors.”

3. Secret to Buttercups’ Yellow Spotlight Revealed
By Wynne Parry | LiveScience | Dec. 13
“Children have long known that if you hold a little buttercup flower under your chin on a sunny day, the underside of your chin will be bathed in a yellow light.”

4. Hope in a Sea of Dictatorship
By Ahmed Rashid | NYR Blog :: The New York Review of Books | Dec. 13
“One of the uncomfortable results of Pakistan’s late November decision to close down US and NATO supply routes to Afghanistan is that it has forced Washington to rely more on the Central Asian countries that border Afghanistan to the north.”

5. Facebook offers counselling to suicidal users
By Emma Barnett | The Telegraph | Dec. 13
“Facebook has launched a new initiative which will allow those users with suicidal thoughts instant access to crisis counsellors via its instant messenger service.”

6. Iran war: Has it already begun?
By Noga Tarnopoisky | GlobalPost | Dec. 12
“Analysts say the war with Iran began years ago, and is now reaching its apex.”

7. Rives: A story of mixed emoticons
TED Talks | Feb. 2008
“Rives tells a typographical fairy tale that’s short and bittersweet ;)”

8. Five myths about social media
By Ramesh Srinivasan | Five Myths :: The Washington Post | Sept. 15
Myth 1: “Social media gives power to the people”

9. Civil War women: Anna Surratt
Civil War Women Blog | Sept. 4
“Anna Surratt is remembered chiefly for her heartbreaking efforts to save her mother from being hanged by the U.S. government. After the guilty verdict, a tearful Anna tried to see President Andrew Johnson at the White House to plead for her mother’s life, but she was prevented from doing so.”

10. Waco siege
Witness :: BBC News | April 19
“In 1993, around 80 people died in the fire that ended the siege at the headquarters of a Christian cult in Waco, Texas.”