Friday, April 30, 2021

A Twist on Old-School Style

From Architectural Digest:

His client, Kelsey Brown, was more than enthusiastic about the idea of boldness. Brown is the cofounder of Pepper, a company that sells home textiles and wallpapers featuring whimsical prints. She wanted to include some of these prints in her home, which she shares with her husband, Alec Simpson, while also embracing her longtime affection for classic decor. “I grew up in a historical home with lots of antiques and also a lot of color,” she says. “Nicholas understood me and he also pushed me out of my comfort zone.”

Obeid did not hold back. He paired candy-colored walls with rolled-arm sofas, chinoiserie with abstract art, and rattan with velvet. In the vast parlor-level reception room, he replicated the colors of the existing ceiling fresco, a celestial scene painted sometime in the early 1900s, covering the decorative plasterwork and wainscoting in dazzling shades of blue. He then added pops of chartreuse and rose throughout the space. “It’s a pretty traditional room, it just has a brighter take,” says Obeid. “I mixed in some modern pieces to balance the weight of the more classic ones.” For example, he placed a substantial sofa with bullion fringe and two dressy velvet armchairs by Milo Baughman next to a Lucite-and-glass coffee table from the 1970s. At the other end of the room, past a central fireplace with an ornate wooden mantel and antique foo dogs standing guard, the designer mixed a Jean-Michel Frank sofa upholstered in camel mohair with a lacquered black coffee table and a Hollywood Regency brass torchère.

Although every corner of the two-story, three-bedroom apartment is full of personality, there is one particularly eye-catching nook: the so-called “sun room,” a cozy space facing the property’s leafy garden that’s used for informal meals. Here, the designer echoed Duquette’s famed Dawnridge estate in Beverly Hills (an over-the-top residence awash in green), painting the entire room a malachite shade called Parsley Snips. To add drama, he created ribbons of green rising from the floor all the way across the ceiling. Vintage rattan chairs with velvet pillows in a burnt orange hue complete the look. “My client and I share an admiration for design,” says Obeid. “Everything these days is safe and flat; we wanted something that evoked a little bit more.” (Read more.)


A Manufactured Jane Austen Controversy

 From Lit Hub:

If you’ve been seeing headlines this week that say things like “Jane Austen canceled for drinking tea” and “Woke Madness! Jane Austen under historical interrogation,” and are a.) worried or b.) simply confused, let me clear things up: Jane Austen has not been canceled for drinking tea, and there is no madly woke historical interrogation happening. What’s happening is a minor panic created by The Telegraph, who published an article misleadingly claiming that Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton planned to create an exhibit calling Jane Austen’s tea-drinking habit racist.

Here’s how it all went down: on the 18th, The Telegraph published an article entitled “Jane Austen’s tea drinking will face ‘historical interrogation’ over slavery links.” The article quoted Lizzie Dunford, director of Jane Austen’s House Museum, who said Jane Austen’s House was “in the process of reviewing and updating all of our interpretation, including plans to explore the Empire and Regency Colonial context of both Austen’s family and her work.” This includes both Austen’s abolitionist views and the fact that her father, George Austen, was the trustee of an Antigua sugar plantation; and that as purchasers of tea, sugar and cotton, the Austen family were consumers of the products of the Atlantic slave trade.

But then the Telegraph article went all-in on the tea claim, citing all the times when Austen expressed love for tea and mentioned her characters drinking tea. The (false) implication: Jane Austen’s House planned to condemn Jane Austen for drinking tea and including it in her work, and create a type of Jane Austen Hate Museum. The article also fearmongeringly invoked Black Lives Matter in regard to a display panel on Jane Austen and abolition.

In reality, the “historical interrogation” phrase came from Dunford’s quote, “This is just the start of a steady and considered process of historical interrogation.” You know, historical interrogation—what every museum does. But the scary headline plus the tea-centered angle were picked up by other sites. The Express called the museum’s planned update “woke madness” and compared it to book-burning; the Daily Mail called it “a revisionist attack” and put “historical interrogation” in scare quotes. The “canceled for drinking tea” idea from the Telegraph article was repeated wholesale in both pieces. Twitter users shared the Express, Daily Mail, and Telegraph articles (and are still sharing them) taking their claims at face value, with addendums like, “I suppose it was only a matter of time before tea became racist.” (Read more.)


The Disappearance of Susan Powell

 How porn addiction destroyed three generations of a family. From True Crime Times:

In 2005, the Powells welcomed son, Charlie. Two years later, Braden arrived. Susan hoped the addition of their children would be the glue that kept their family together because things had already started to sour between the husband and wife. But in 2008, Josh was struggling to hold down a job, which forced him to file for bankruptcy, which served to further erode his relationship with Susan. (Read more.)

More HERE, HERE, and HERE.


An Ancient Mayan Ambassador

 From Live Science:

Ancient hieroglyphics painted in a stairway near a Maya ambassador's burial tell the tale of his elite but tumultuous life nearly 1,300 years ago, a new study finds. The ambassador, a man named Ajpach' Waal, helped broker an alliance between two powerful dynasties — the Maya king of Copán, in modern-day Honduras, and the Maya king of Calakmul, in present-day southern Mexico, according to the hieroglyphics. But when the alliance fell through, Ajpach' Waal's fortunes tanked and he died in relative obscurity.

The finding reveals that playing politics could elevate or plummet the standing of "a nonroyal elite of Late Classic period Maya society (A.D. 600–850)," the researchers wrote in the study, adding that "little is known about their life experiences and mortuary practices." (Read more.)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’

From My Modern Met:

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère exemplifies Manet's not-quite-realist style. He renders the main figures, objects, and interior with expressive brushstrokes and close attention to the details. Each bottle of alcohol on the counter, for example, is presented with its distinct label and packaging. One of the beer bottles with a red triangle on the label has been identified as the brand Bass Pale Ale, which was founded in 1777 and still made today.

Like the majority of Manet's works, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is based on a real-life nightclub in Paris called the Folies-Bergère. In the late 19th century, this establishment was incredibly popular among artists as well as middle and upper-class Parisians for its array of entertainment including cabaret, ballet, and acrobatics to name a few.

Manet gives the viewer a peek into what goes on in the trendy music hall by featuring the legs of a performing trapeze artist in the upper left corner and a large crowd of onlookers in the reflection. Manet preferred to use real people as models for his paintings to make them more contemporary and naturalistic. The main female figure in this work is based on a barmaid named Suzon who worked at the Folies-Bergère in the 1880s. Beside one of her arms is a bowl of oranges, which suggests that she may have also been a sex worker—a subject that garnered Manet significant attention twenty years prior when he debuted Olympia. (Read more.)


The Johnson & Johnson Covid Vaccine, Birth Control, and Blood Clots

 From The New Republic:

Tolerance for medical risk is mediated by a variety of factors, all of which entwine with systemic erasures and biases: Women’s health concerns are dismissed more and studied less; Black women have an exponentially greater risk of dying in childbirth and of having their self-reported health concerns ignored (even if they’re as powerful as, say, Serena Williams); implicit bias has been shown in studies to result in objectively worse care, with doctors spending less time with Black patients....Tech has been no help: The health care system’s turn to algorithms to determine allocation of care was assumed to be a neutral effort, but a 2019 study found that a widely used algorithm’s racial bias was so severe, correcting it would increase the proportion of Black patients prioritized for care from 17 percent to 46 percent. Algorithms that determine allocation of health services used patients’ history of health care costs. Unsurprisingly, a profit-focused health care system that sees patients as wallets rather than people misses quite a bit.

Risks are tolerated in other ways: Poverty increases risk of mental illness, chronic disease, and death and is correlated to lower life expectancy. “Cyclically, poverty leads to poor health and poor health leads to poverty,” Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, director of the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for Vulnerable Populations, observed in 2016. “If that cycle happens across generations, then you are talking about major, seemingly intractable effects on communities living in poverty.” Yet we don’t treat poverty as a public health crisis. Instead, the wealthy biohacker boys of Silicon Valley play with “young blood” to see if they can attain immortality. (Read more.)


Another medical controversy. From Wired:

Up until the 1980s, psychiatry in the United States was still a quasi-Freudian undertaking. If a child developed tics or obsessive-compulsive disorder, the thinking went, it must be because her parents were emotionally frigid or had punished her during toilet training. (Mothers were also blamed for a number of other conditions, including autism.) So when a pediatrician named Susan Swedo joined the National Institute of Mental Health in 1986, she was delighted to be part of a new vanguard. Her mentor there, Judith Rapoport, was challenging the prevailing theories and seeking a medical explanation for OCD.

A few old papers in the literature had piqued Rapoport’s interest. They concerned a childhood illness that causes tics in the face, hands, and feet. Patients jerk their limbs in a strange and uncontrollable dance; their tongues flicker; their fingers seem to hammer the keys of an invisible piano. Thomas Sydenham, the 17th-century English physician who first described the condition, called it Saint Vitus’ dance, after the dancing manias that emerged in continental Europe during the Black Death, when large groups of people, sometimes thousands at a time, would cavort in the streets until they collapsed from exhaustion. He attributed the cause to “some humor falling on the nerves.” (Read more.)


Remembering Judith Reisman

 From The Washington Times:

Somewhere in the pits of Hades, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner probably is celebrating as best he can. Perhaps the porn magnate will be allowed a spritzer of hot vinegar. Or maybe he gave his life to the Lord moments before he died in 2017 and isn’t in the netherworld. Nobody knows the state of anyone else’s soul except God. Anyway, Mr. Hefner’s greatest earthly foe has died. Judith Reisman, Ph.D., passed away on April 9, two days short of her 86th birthday. Details are murky, but she reportedly was found at her office desk.

Mrs. Reisman should be far better known for her work than she is at present. She exposed legendary sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey as a predatory fraud in her 1990 book with Ed Eichel, “Kinsey, Sex and Fraud,” and compiled a study showing how Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler magazines had frequently used child porn imagery. Her work exposing Kinsey and the porn mags ignited an anti-pornography movement that led to President Reagan announcing the launch in May 1985 of what became known as the Meese Commission on Pornography. The ensuing report was well done, but it was viciously assailed. (Read more.)

Russia, Pushkin, and 1837

 From OUP Blog:

Take the death of Pushkin. Already acknowledged as Russia’s leading poet as 1837 began, Pushkin nonetheless secured his place in the Russian literary pantheon by the manner of his death: a duel precipitated by the romantic attentions of a Frenchman in Russian service to his wife Natalia. Extending over several months before the fateful day in late January, the drama and intrigue were intense. They implicated not just the poet and his family, but also diplomats, Russia’s secret police, other literary figures, and the emperor himself. Fatally wounded at a snowy clearing on the outskirts of Petersburg, Pushkin suffered in agony for two days before expiring as crowds gathered to express their sympathy. Though it took time for a full-blown cult of Pushkin to develop, its foundation was here, and it became a resource for tsarist, Soviet, and post-Soviet regimes to forge national and imperial unity. Pushkin became “our everything,” in the words of a literary critic in 1859, and the tsarist government sought by the 1860s to incorporate his image into the national pantheon. The centenary of his birth in 1899 became likewise an official affair, with new efforts to draw Russian literature into official culture. The cententary of his death allowed Stalin to exploit the cult even in the midst of the Great Terror. By the late Soviet era, the intelligentsia would contend, “Pushkin as a phenomenom is obligatory for us.” Modern Russia is inconceivable without the cult of Pushkin, and 1837 was central to its creation.

“Modern Russia is inconceivable without the cult of Pushkin, and 1837 was central to its creation.”

That same year saw an extraordinary trip by the heir to the throne, the future Alexander II, across nearly 20,000 kilometers of Russian territory. Visiting towns and villages across Russia and becoming the first member of the reigning Romanov dynasty to visit Siberia, Grand Prince Alexander Nikolaevich made a stunning impression on diverse subjects of the empire, Russians and non-Russians alike. An emerging periodical press followed his every move and made him the principal news item for many days across months. The trip accordingly permitted not only the heir himself, but also readers of the press to discover Russia’s provinces in all their diversity. The travel also laid foundations for his future rule, which among other things ended serfdom in Russia. But it was the prospect of actually seeing the young prince that was most intoxicating. Immense crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the heir, who became the day’s principal celebrity. For many people in diverse parts of Russia, 1837 was unforgettable because they had seen the tsarevich in the flesh.

Still, arguably the most dramatic event of 1837 was the destruction of the Winter Palace in a colossal fire. Indeed this palace, one of Europe’s largest and a key edifice for the Romanov monarchy, occupied a central place in the imperial capital of St Petersburg and in emerging conceptions of the Russian nation. Its destruction was not just a material loss, but a deeply symbolic one representing an ideological challenge in an age of revolution. The monarchy therefore undertook a campaign to shape the narrative of the palace’s destruction, including also an effort to shape foreign opinion. Most shocking of all was the intention to reconstruct the palace entirely within 15 months. Amazingly, this goal was accomplished. The famous Hermitage State Museum, boasting one of the world’s greatest collections of art, is housed precisely in this reconstructed Winter Palace, a product of 1837. (Read more.)


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Van Gogh’s Sister

From Art Net:

Vincent Van Gogh’s bouts with mental illness are well documented. But a new book makes a startling revelation: that his sister, Wil van Gogh, was able to pay for her own mental health treatment by selling 17 of his works upon his death.

The new book, The Van Gogh Sisters by Willem-Jan Verlinden, which will be published in April, details correspondence between the three Van Gogh sisters; Vincent’s brother, Theo; Theo’s wife, Jo Bogner; and other friends of the family.

The hundreds of letters, which are only in Dutch and have never been published before, are held in the Van Gogh Museum archives in Amsterdam. A senior researcher at the museum, Hans Luijten, describes them as “a real goldmine, with wonderful observations.”

“One by one, we intend to publish them in the near future,” he says. (Read more.)


Gatorade for the Gulag

 From The Missive:

The real value of Gulag is not just in Solzhenitsyn’s lived experience that depicted the cruelties of such a regime (and this book was read by tens of thousands of “me too” survivors who validated every word of it). Gulag exposed what Communism and Socialism really are about, and presents a brilliant psychological analysis of what is at the core of both systems:

The thirst for power.

It is amazing what people will do to get it and secure it, and how it changes and twists those who first taste it and like it.

Communism and Socialism ultimately amount to be deadly Ponzi schemes where everyone who signs on ends up contributing to make those at the top more rich and powerful. Remember the pigs in Animal Farm?

The fact that neither system can be implemented peacefully, the fact that they have been and can only be established upon the corpses and shattered lives of millions, the fact that they require the silencing and cancellation of a majority and the rewriting of history, the fact that they promote the advancement of a few upon the exploitation and enslavement of many, reveal an atheistic and conscienceless ideology that has no concern for any eternal consequence. Solzhenitsyn observes:

Power is a poison well known for thousands of years. If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others! But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us, and is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal. For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison. For them, there is no antidote. (Gulag, 4)

The flashpoint emerges when power is wedded to ideology, and this is when things get dangerous – and quickly. That is because ideology is not the same as truth.

In contradistinction, notice how careful Christ is to define power in terms of service; at the Last Supper, He washes the feet of His Apostles and commands that they follow His example (Jn. 13:13-15). He further forbids the use of force as a means to make converts (a slightly different approach from Islam’s methods). (Read more.)


The Pequot War

 From World History Encyclopedia:

The Pequot War (1636-1638) was a conflict between the Native American Pequot tribe of modern-day Connecticut and the English immigrants who had established settlements in New England between 1620-1630. The immediate cause of the war was the murder of two English traders, Captain John Stone (d. 1634) and John Oldham (l. 1592-1636), allegedly by the Western Niantic tribe, allies and tributaries of the Pequot. In 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s third governor, Sir Henry Vane (l. 1613-1662) sent John Endicott (l. c. 1600-1665) on an expedition to Block Island, where Oldham was killed, to demand from the Western Niantic the surrender of the murderers. Endicott wound up burning the native villages there and killing one man before sailing on to a coastal Pequot village, burning it, killing more people, and destroying crops. In retaliation, the Pequots began raiding English settlements and killing colonists.

The conflict escalated, and on 26 May 1637, a company of militia from Massachusetts and Connecticut colonies, assisted by members of the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes, attacked the Pequot stronghold at Mystic. The fort was set on fire and over 700 Pequot, mostly women and children, killed. Survivors fled to another fortification and were led by their chief Sassacus (l. c. 1560-1637) toward safety in New Netherlands (modern-day New York State) where they hoped to find welcome from the Iroquois Confederacy. The Mohawks of the Iroquois instead executed Sassacus, sending his head and hands back to the English.

Of the approximately 3,000 Pequots who lived in the region at the time, only a little over 200 survived the war. Some of these were sold into slavery in the West Indies, Bermuda, or to local farmers while others were given as slaves to the Mohegans and Narragansetts. The Pequots were forbidden to call themselves by their name or inhabit their ancestral lands and, even after the war, bounty was paid by colonial authorities for Pequot scalps.

The war resulted in the near extermination of the Pequot tribe and opened up the regions of Connecticut and Long Island to further English colonization, allowing for easier westward expansion afterwards. Modern historians generally agree that the Pequots were not responsible for the conflict and the causes were fabricated by the English in the interests of expanding and securing profitable ports and routes for trade. (Read more.)


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Characteristics of Baroque Architecture

 From My Modern Met:

It is difficult to separate Baroque architecture from art and sculpture. Since ornamentation was such a critical component to this architectural style, these buildings also introduce us to other mediums that follow the same ideals. Grandeur, or drama, is probably the most obvious characteristic of Baroque architecture. This theme is also the reason for other characteristics like ornamentation or curves. In churches, the grandeur of the architecture was used to inspire awe that made visitors feel connected to God or to feel small in comparison to the size of God—and the church. Grandeur, in this sense, often means size—both in height and in the sheer size of the building—but grandeur can also be applied to the amount of ornamentation and decoration. It makes sense that Baroque architecture would feature unexpected curves and organic shapes considering the term is roughly translated to “irregularly shaped.” These movements regularly occur in grand façades and are often concave entrances or places of statues. However, these organic design moves can be found anywhere in Baroque architecture, especially in the domed roofs of cathedrals or churches. (Read more.)


ISIS Returns

 From The Daily Mail:

A separate piece of footage then shows two other militants executing two tribesmen in a similar fashion, after accusing them of fighting with the Egyptian armed forces. Salama had been missing since last November, the Coptic Church said, when he was kidnapped while walking along the streets of Bir al-Abed by jihadists in a car.  

A spokesman for the Coptic Church, which confirmed Salama's identity from the video, said he had been involved in rebuilding churches destroyed by Islamists in the region. He kept the faith till the moment he was killed,' the spokesman said.

'The church affirms its steadfast support of the Egyptian state's efforts in quelling hateful terror acts.' 

Egypt has been fighting a jihadist insurgency in the northern Sinai since at least 2011, including local tribal groups, Al Qaeda, and Wilayat Sinai - a pre-existing militant group that swore allegiance to ISIS in 2014.

Originally founded as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis according to Stanford University's terror monitoring service, the group's initial aim was to rid nearby Jerusalem of western influence and eradicate any Israeli presence in Egypt.

But following the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarack in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring, the group switched their attentions to driving the Egyptian army out of Sinai and assuming control of the region.

In 2012 the group carried out its first attacks - on a pipeline exporting gas to Jordan and Israel and on Israeli forces near the border.

When the army removed the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi from power in 2013, Ansar again switched its attentions to government forces, accusing them of suppressing jihadist groups.

A series of deadly and sophisticated attacks on Egyptian forces in 2014 that killed at least 50 soldiers saw the group dubbed 'the most dangerous in Egypt' by the New York Times, and saw the government launch counter-insurgent operations. Faced with the might of the Egyptian army, the group pledged allegiance to ISIS in November 2014 and renamed itself Wilayat Sinai, or Islamic State – Sinai Province.(Read more.)


7 Ways to Avoid Mistakes When Writing Historical Fiction

 From ProWriting Aid:

1. Have a Clear Idea of How Much Fact You Want in Your Historical Fiction

Think of historical fiction as a spectrum. There are some books, like Wolf Hall, that are heavily factual. In these types of stories, the author fills in only the details they cannot know like specific conversations, internal monologues, or physical reactions.

Then there are other books that are only vaguely historical. Many historical romances, like Harlequin or Regency, fall in this category. You get a sense that it happened in a specific time or place, but the history is mostly limited to the fashion and the setting.

Most historical fiction falls somewhere in between. And let’s be honest, most of us aren’t history scholars. Some information you might get wrong because it’s so obscure (and some reader somewhere will be grumpy about it!) Other things you might want to change to fit your story.

Decide early on how factual (or not) you want your story to be. Let me give you two personal examples. My current work-in-progress takes place in the Golden Age of Piracy, when most ships didn't use wooden wheels for the helm: they had tillers. But that’s not the image most people have of pirate ships, so my ships have wooden wheels.

Another decision I made was what to call my characters’ corsets. Corset wasn’t a word used until later; generally, these were referred to as stays or bodices. But corset is the common term now, and I don’t want to confuse readers who aren’t obsessed with historical fashion like I am.

You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache if you know where you can play with the facts early on. And you can always add a disclaimer at the beginning of the book or an appendix with all the facts you changed at the end. (Read more.)

Monday, April 26, 2021

Italian Fairy Tales

From Beyond Foreignness:

The theory of a purely written tradition is unlikely. Storytelling is undoubtedly much older than the invention of writing. The relationship between the oral “stories of the people” and written works (and their influence on each other) is much debated.

Dante understood the importance of the common tongue. When we read the works of Dante, it is easy to forget that they too are linked to the oral tradition. Dante’s Inferno was in part inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid, which in turn was inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. It was hundreds of years before anyone wrote it down. In other words, the Inferno is only one degree of separation from the older oral tradition.

Further, in Dante’s time, his works were primarily sung and heard on street corners rather than read. This was particularly so because of the cost of handwritten manuscripts. Only after the invention of the printing press did books become widely available.

Despite Dante’s views, formal written Italian after Pietro Bembo applied his strictures to it, became for centuries a language distant from the people. It was a special preserve of a small minority who treated it like a new Latin. A gulf opened between the written and the oral. The latter was the domain of Italy’s many spoken dialects. Italian almost exclusively read, rather than spoken. (Read more.)


The Misperception That Bigotry Is Everywhere

 From Rasmussen Reports:

Floyd's death generated enormous publicity and a sizable increase in support for the Black Lives Matter movement among whites (to 43% in Civiqs polling) as well as blacks (to 69%).

That support was accompanied by widespread misperceptions of the magnitude of police shootings of blacks. As Canadian political scientist Eric Kaufmann points out, a Quadratics survey in fall 2020 found that 8 in 10 African Americans believe black men are more likely to be killed by police than die in an auto accident, as did 53% of white Biden voters but only 15% of white Trump voters.

Actually, thousands of black men die in auto accidents every year, while fewer than 300 a year, according to The Post, are killed by police. Similar questions showed that similarly wide divergences from reality are apparent on other racially charged questions, and indeed, ordinary people often have enormous misperceptions of many statistical relationships.

In any case, as Manhattan Institute scholar Coleman Hughes has argued, "The public perception of bigotry has surpassed the reality to such an extent that it has become a moral panic." Hughes blames "critical race theory and intersectionality" for "the misperception that bigotry is everywhere, even as the data tell a different story: racism exists, but there has never been less racism than there is now." (Read more.)

From Live Action:

Beyond committing abortions, Planned Parenthood has been found to have repeatedly discriminated against even their own employees for their race, and even for choosing to have children. Hundreds of former employees have accused Planned Parenthood of systemic racism and of embracing white supremacy, which affected both staffers and patients alike.

Employees claimed Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY), for example, put into place “a revenue-driven, assembly-line approach to PPGNY clinics – one that put patients, and in particular Black and other patients of color, at potential risk.” Planned Parenthood staffers would allegedly also visit schools where the majority of students were Black, or other minorities, and pressure them to receive long-term contraceptives like IUDs. “You’re talking about public schools where black and brown children are because they’re so hypersexual and need to be controlled? It’s a direct link to the history of forced sterilization,” former employee Michelle Adams said in an interview with Jezebel.

Laura McQuade, PPGNY’s former CEO, was eventually fired after hundreds of staffers accused her of racist, abusive behavior.

Planned Parenthood staffers who were pregnant have said they received no allowances for their condition, claiming they were forced to work long shifts, on their feet for hours and with few breaks. One staffer was harassed into coming back to work from maternity leave early, even though she had given birth prematurely. Others also said they faced discrimination, simply for being pregnant — ranging from managers refusing to hire pregnant women, and staffers feeling pressured to never get pregnant. Most Planned Parenthood facilities reportedly do not provide maternity leave.

McGill Johnson can disavow discrimination, but it’s still happening within her organization.

McGill Johnson claims that Sanger’s reckoning lies in the work that comes next. This is very true. Planned Parenthood, if sincere, could truly leave this mindset behind, and embrace actual health care. They could help Black women overcome the injustices and obstacles that lead them to feel their only option is to have an abortion, and empower them to keep their children. They could provide prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum care to low-income women. They could use this moment to truly make a difference, and leave Sanger’s legacy behind, once and for all.

But this seems unlikely to happen. After all, former Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen was fired for hoping to focus less on abortion and more on legitimate health care. Any talk of abandoning Margaret Sanger’s dangerous beliefs is meaningless when Planned Parenthood is fulfilling her ideals every single day. (Read more.)

From Dr. Alveda King at LifeNews:

Racism not only rears its ugly head in situations such as the George Floyd tragedy. Racism is deeply rooted in the socio-economic systems of America. A classic example of this travesty is the foundation of the organization Planned Parenthood, whose racist founder was Margaret Sanger.

In her April 17, 2021 op-ed for the New York Times, Planned Parenthood CEO Alex McGill Johnson said her organization would stop making excuses for Sanger. What she meant is that she wants her friends inside the Beltway and in the media to stop talking about Sanger’s sordid past, so the organization can quietly continue carrying out its genocide in the Black community while also giving lip service to the Black Lives Matter movement and helping to portray abortion as the very best of things on television and film. (Read more.)


Also from LifeNews:

Thomas, probably the strongest pro-life justice on the high court, mentioned abortion in his concurring opinion in the case Jones v. Mississippiaccording to National Review.

The case had noting to do with abortion; the justices upheld a decision to give life without parole to a minor who was found guilty of murder. But Thomas noticed that the court seems to treat children differently depending on the issue.

“The Court’s language in this line of precedents is notable,” Thomas wrote. “When addressing juvenile murderers, this Court has stated that ‘children are different’ and that courts must consider ‘a child’s lesser culpability.’”

On the issue of abortion, however, Thomas said the court has made the opposite determination for children.

“… when assessing the Court-created right of an individual of the same age to seek an abortion, Members of this Court take pains to emphasize a ‘young woman’s’ right to choose,” he continued, citing previous rulings. “It is curious how the Court’s view of the maturity of minors ebbs and flows depending on the issue.”

Supreme Court rulings do allow states to enact parental consent or parental notification laws for minors seeking abortions. However, the court also ruled that these laws must include exceptions for young girls to seek a judicial bypass, meaning permission from a judge, rather than notify or seek permission from her parents.

Currently, 37 states require some type of parental consent or notification before an underage girl can have an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

But abortion advocacy groups are making a concerted effort to end all parental involvement laws for abortions. An Illinois law requiring that a parent be notified at least 48 hours before their underage daughter has an abortion is one of their key targets this spring.

Victims of human trafficking and abuse are speaking out about the need for such laws, emphasizing how they protect young girls from being forced or coerced into abortions by abusers. (Read more.)


John Keats and F. Scott Fitzgerald

 From The Spectator:

Keats was a Romantic, perhaps the Romantic, with his lyric gift and tragically brief life. Fitzgerald loved the Romantic poets, and romance in the lower case, but was at the heart’s core a modernist, far more egoist than romantic, and quite hard-boiled. The little quatrain above is rather like T.S. Eliot’s ‘jug jug’ in The Waste Land — homage of a sort, but also showing ironic distance, and no intention of writing like Keats. Indeed, it’s all about his own novel in the last line, with ‘Night’ capitalised; the moustache on the Mona Lisa.

Jonathan Bate, in Bright Star, Green Light, speculates on the convergence of the twain. Taking Plutarch’s paralleled Lives as his model, Bate yokes Keats and Fitzgerald together to compare the leading achievements of this oddly matched team — Keats’s mature poems and Fitzgerald’s novels. Some of the parallels work, and some strain. Basic parallels of their lives are well known. Keats died in 1821 at the age of 25; Fitzgerald had his first and most lucrative success a century later, with This Side of Paradise in 1920, when he was 23. Keats loved and lost Fanny Brawne because he died before they could marry; Fitzgerald loved and lost Ginevra King because she married a rich boy instead, and then loved Zelda Sayre, only to lose her to her increasing mental illness.

As Bate chronicles their lives and writings together, his book bounces from Keats to Fitzgerald in alternating chapters. At times this feels like a tennis match, with one’s head as the ball, from reading two disparate narratives that are not always adequately linked. Bright Star, Green Light is chronological, following both writers from boyhood through youth, school, first loves, marriage (in Fitzgerald’s case) and selected works. Bate knows Keats’s life and poetry inside out, and his readings of ‘Isabella, or the Pot of Basil’ and ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, among other poems, are elegant and incisive. Using Sidney Colvin’s biography of Keats, a copy of which was in Fitzgerald’s library, Bate selects anecdotes, letters, major events and friendships to flesh out a comprehensive account of the man and his art. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Maudie (2017)

Maudie is an exquisite film about a Canadian folk artist. From The Atlantic:

As the subject of the biopic Maudie, Maud (played by Sally Hawkins) is fascinatingly opaque. Hawkins plays her as always possessing a kind of coy, rueful smile, but it’s one that betrays a hardscrabble life marked by trauma and abuse. The director Aisling Walsh tries to portray her protagonist even-handedly without swerving into outright misery or rose-tinted romanticism. This is not so much a film about her art as the strange conditions it arose from—especially concerning Maud’s difficult romance with her fisherman husband Everett (Ethan Hawke), a man to whom she was first a live-in maid, who nurtured and encouraged her art while also often treating her subserviently.

Like so many true-life biopics, Maudie feels annoyingly sincere at times, but it does well to present the facts of the Lewis marriage bluntly. Maud and Everett Lewis’s relationship can be tough to watch—he’s at times plainly abusive (physically and emotionally), and at other times hurtful and dismissive. The circumstances of their getting together are unusual, to say the least: Maud showed up at Everett’s house in response to an advertisement for a live-in maid, he insisted on her sleeping in his bed, quickly made a romantic advance, and they were married several weeks later. Eventually, she began to clean the house less and paint more frequently, accompanying Everett as he peddles fish to try and sell her work.

Walsh and the film’s writer Sherry White could try and create easy connections between Maud’s tough upbringing and her tumultuous marriage and her art, but they’d feel facile. Maud’s bright, vibrant work spoke of a world more delightful than her own, one dotted with pastel-colored birds and boats, filled with rolling green landscapes and sky-blue seas. Rather than portray some eureka moment, as so many artist biopics strive to do, Walsh’s camera quietly observes as the paintings begin to pour out of Maud, who usually worked on incredibly small canvases (she also painted directly onto her one-room home’s tiny window frames) because of the limited range of her arthritic hands.

Hawkins has always been a wonderfully charismatic screen presence, but her Maud is far less ebullient than the protagonist of Happy-Go-Lucky and less outspoken than her Oscar-nominated work as the blue-collar sister of Cate Blanchett’s character in Blue Jasmine. She invests the bulk of her performance in that mysterious smile and her darting eyes—Maud always seems to understand more than she’s conveying in what she says. She puts up with Everett’s closed-off chauvinism and they build up a strange sort of affection over their years together, though a lot between them is obviously unsaid.

Hawke is the louder of the pair and seems to get more of the film’s dramatic weight as a result, but his performance is wonderfully deferential to Hawkins’s. His Everett is an oafish brute at first glance, but his behavior becomes something more fascinating when refracted through her love for him. Hawke does a fantastic job presenting Everett plainly, rather than injecting him with movie-star charisma; his fits of rage and rarer moments of (largely unspoken) compassion never feel like showboating for the camera. (Read more.)


More HERE.


How France Lost Her Dignity

 From UnHerd:

The French National Assembly is currently considering a proposed law “giving and guaranteeing the right to a free and chosen end of life”. The first article of the bill proposes a “rapid and painless death” with “medical assistance”. Since 2005, France has had a “let die” law that permits “deep and continuous sedation until death”. 

Proposition one: no one wants to die. As a rule, we prefer a diminished life to no life at all; because we think we will always have the little pleasures of life. And are there any pleasures other than little ones? That is a subject worth exploring.

Proposition two: no one wants to suffer. Suffer physically, that is. Moral suffering has its charms, it can even generate aesthetic material (as I have discovered for myself). Physical suffering is pure hell, devoid of interest and meaning, from which no lessons can be drawn. Life has been sketchily (and falsely) described as a quest for pleasure; it is, more accurately, an avoidance of suffering; and more or less everyone, given a choice between unbearable suffering and death, chooses death.

Proposition three, the most important of all: physical suffering can be eliminated. At the beginning of the 19th century, morphine was discovered. Many similar substances have appeared since then. At the end of the 19th century, hypnosis was rediscovered; it remains little used in France. (Read more.)


Whales and Whalers

 From Live Science:

Catching a sperm whale during the 19th century was much harder than even Moby Dick showed it to be. That's because sperm whales weren't just capable of learning the best ways to evade the whalers' ships, they could quickly share this information with other whales, too, according to a study of whale-hunting records. 

By analyzing newly-digitized logbooks kept by whalers during their hunting voyages in the North Pacific, the researchers found that the strike rates of the hunters upon their targets declined by 58% in just a few years. And it wasn't because the whalers had gotten worse at landing their harpoons — the mammals had learned from their fellow whales' fatal encounters with humans, and they weren't going to repeat them, the researchers explained.

"At first, the whales reacted to the new threat of human hunters in exactly the same way as they would to the killer whale, which was their only predator at this time," study lead author Hal Whitehead, a professor of biology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, told Live Science. "[The sperm whales] all gathered together on the surface, put the baby in the middle, and tried to defend by biting or slapping their tails down. But when it comes to fending off Captain Ahab that's the very worst thing they could do, they made themselves a very large target." (Read more.)


Saturday, April 24, 2021

A Neoclassical Hudson Valley Estate

 From Veranda:

“I learned my lesson the hard way,” says the owner of a Greek Revival home in New York’s Hudson Valley and the extraordinary collection of antiques that fill its rooms. They are primarily 18th- and early-19th-century English pieces he’s been collecting for the last 30 years—well, minus the one that got away. “Early on, there was a piece I really wanted but I hesitated. When I went back, it was gone,” he says.

Now, he trusts his instincts, honed over decades of studying the finer points of carving, timber, proportion, and craftsmanship—details that reveal provenance and time period to the trained eye. “I love imagining the stories behind the antiques, the love letters written at a desk,” he adds. “They don’t make pieces like these anymore, so now I act fast.”

The lesson paid off in spades when it came time to build a home to showcase his collection. The owner and his wife were looking for something larger than the farmhouse they owned in Millbrook, New York. Though it sat atop 100 acres of undulating meadows, it was small, and the pair was seeking an architectural style more suited to their regal antiques, many of which had been in storage, awaiting the right home. (Read more.)


Fighting Child Slavery



Dark Watchers

 From Live Science:

For hundreds of years, people have looked up at the hazy peaks of California's Santa Lucia Mountains at sunset and seen tall, cloaked figures staring back. Then, within moments, the eerie silhouettes disappear. These twilight apparitions are known as the Dark Watchers — shady, sometimes 10-foot-tall (3 meters) men bedecked in sinister hats and capes. They primarily appear in the afternoon, and according to a recent article on, visitors to California have seen them perched ominously on the mountaintops for more than 300 years.

"When the Spanish arrived in the 1700s, they began calling the apparitions los Vigilantes Oscuros (literally "the dark watchers")," SFGate managing editor Katie Dowd wrote in the article. "And as Anglo American settlers began staking claims in the region, they too felt the sensation of being watched from the hills." (Read more.)


Friday, April 23, 2021

A Historical Children’s Fiction Collection

From Canterbury Christ Church University:

The collection is richest in books from the late 19th century (post-1880), and the most recent publication (that I’ve found so far) is a book from 1972. The collection can be divided up into several areas (although they are in purely alphabetical order of author’s surname on the shelves)...From the tales of Charlotte Yonge, to Captain Frederick Marryat’s novel The Children of the New Forest set in the English Civil War, children’s historical fiction was burgeoning during the Victorian era. Inspired by the past, writers sought to educate as well as entertain, with sometimes turgid or moralistic accounts of the heroic deeds of our forebears. Unlike modern children’s authors such as Terry Deary who have focused on the humorous and sometimes grisly events of the past, the Victorian writers delighted or dismayed their readers with the derring-dos of knights, captains and adventurers, and there are plenty of examples of this type of fiction in the collection. There are several works by early fantasy fiction writers, such as George MacDonald (1824-1905) in the collection. He was a Scottish author, poet and Christian minister, and apart from being well-known in his own right, is famous for his influence on later writers such as C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, and J. R. R. Tolkien. (Read more.)


Pandemic Politics

 From The Federalist:

Little did I understand, however, that two weeks to slow the spread wouldn’t just morph into wait until there’s a vaccine. Now we appear to be in an endless lockdown where a population that doesn’t even take care of itself now demands life with absolutely zero risk at the expense of everyone else.

Thirteen months later and I’m finding it harder and harder not to blame Anthony Fauci and his allies in the political establishment for all the nights I never went out, the singles I never met, the dates I never went on, and the memories I never made. The drive-in raves are lame, distanced bars feel pointless, and most places are closed by an early hour anyway. These are all by the orders of Fauci, whose word carries the most weight in the country on coronavirus, like it or not, while he intimidates contrarian experts from speaking out by controlling their research funding. But Fauci’s not lonely, he’s not single, and at 80 years old, he’s likely not eager to go out.

There’s no evidence to prove the lockdowns prevent massive spread of the coronavirus. To the contrary, there’s plenty of research from elite academics finding otherwise, but to follow actual science would reject left-wing “science,” the only acceptable standard, which also characteristically carves out exceptions for those who say “Black Lives Matter.” (Read more.)

The Psychology Behind Overreacting

 From Boundaries:

When a person is hurt — emotionally, physically, traumatically, or in other ways — it causes a deep reaction inside. Withdrawal, fear, anxiety, and anger are typical reactions to being hurt. It can be about something far back in the person's past. It can be a pattern in the couple's connection. It can be a symbolic representation of something that has occurred before.

The normal process of resolving this sort of pain is through love, support, grief, forgiveness, and healing. Support and acceptance from a caring environment renders the person capable of expressing the pain, working through it, and letting go in the grief process. Over time, and with the right steps, most hurtful events can be transformed into normal memories that instruct, teach, and warn us about life. But when this healing process does not occur, those unprocessed memories are still experienced as occurring in the here and now. Whatever the specific cause, the overreactions you or your lover are experiencing could be mild or severe hurts that have not yet been healed. (Read more.)


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dhaka Muslin

Joséphine Bonaparte

From the BBC:

In late 18th-Century Europe, a new fashion led to an international scandal. In fact, an entire social class was accused of appearing in public naked.

The culprit was Dhaka muslin, a precious fabric imported from the city of the same name in what is now Bangladesh, then in Bengal. It was not like the muslin of today. Made via an elaborate, 16-step process with a rare cotton that only grew along the banks of the holy Meghna river, the cloth was considered one of the great treasures of the age. It had a truly global patronage, stretching back thousands of years – deemed worthy of clothing statues of goddesses in ancient Greece, countless emperors from distant lands, and generations of local Mughal royalty.

There were many different types, but the finest were honoured with evocative names conjured up by imperial poets, such as "baft-hawa", literally "woven air". These high-end muslins were said to be as light and soft as the wind. According to one traveller, they were so fluid you could pull a bolt – a length of 300ft, or 91m – through the centre of a ring. Another wrote that you could fit a piece of 60ft, or 18m, into a pocket snuff box.

Dhaka muslin was also more than a little transparent.

While traditionally, these premium fabrics were used to make saris and jamas – tunic-like garments worn by men – in the UK they transformed the style of the aristocracy, extinguishing the highly structured dresses of the Georgian era. Five-foot horizontal waistlines that could barely fit through doorways were out, and delicate, straight-up-and-down "chemise gowns" were in. Not only were these endowed with a racy gauzy quality, they were in the style of what was previously considered underwear.

In one popular satirical print by Isaac Cruikshank, a clique of women appear together in long, brightly coloured muslin dresses, though which you can clearly see their bottoms, nipples and pubic hair. Underneath reads the description, "Parisian Ladies in their Winter Dress for 1800".

Meanwhile in an equally misogynistic comedic excerpt from an English women's monthly magazine, a tailor helps a female client to achieve the latest fashion. "Madame, ’tis done in a moment," he assures her, then instructs her to remove her petticoat, then her pockets, then her corset and finally her sleeves… "‘Tis an easy matter, you see," he explains. "To be dressed in the fashion, you have only to undress."

Still, Dhaka muslin was a hit – with those who could afford it. It was the most expensive fabric of the era, with a retinue of dedicated fans that included the French queen Marie Antoinette, the French empress Joséphine Bonaparte and Jane Austen. But as quickly as this wonder-cloth struck Enlightenment Europe, it vanished. (Read more.)


Justice is Dead

 From Matt Walsh


The Rise and Fall of Númenor, Explained

 From Nerdist:

Amazon’s hard at work on their Lord of the Rings series, which is set to debut in 2021. But despite that fast-approaching debut date, we still know very little about the show. In fact, even calling it a Lord of the Rings series isn’t really accurate. (Thank you, Elijah Wood, for pointing that out.) We know that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, a land in the world of Arda, is still the setting. But the show won’t chronicle the same events depicted in Peter Jackson’s original film trilogy. Those movies—which followed Frodo and the Fellowship on their quest to destroy the One Ring—take place during the Third Age of Middle-earth. The Amazon show, on the other hand, takes place in the Second Age.

What’s special about the Second Age? Well, for starters, it’s probably the least documented timeline in Middle-earth history. That means it’s a rich era for creation. But due to some complicated rights issues, there are also plenty of limitations. From what we’ve been able to parse out, the show can only reference the Second Age as it appears in The Lord of the Rings novels and its appendices. It cannot reference Second Age events depicted in other Tolkien writings like The Silmarillion. It also can’t reference any First Age events, as those rights belong to The Tolkien Estate. Nor can it mention the specific events of the Third Age, as those rights belong to Middle-earth Enterprises. Additionally, when Amazon negotiated rights to the series, it also agreed not to contradict any of Tolkien’s writings. So while there’s room to explore in the margins, it can’t outright break canon.

So, what Second Age events can the Lord of the Rings series cover? The appendices are detailed, but not totally comprehensive, which is again where the whole creative element comes in. As long as the writers don’t disrupt canon, they have plenty of room for invention within the set parameters. But there’s one major event all but confirmed to occur in the series: the rise and fall of Númenor. (Read more.)


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

An Exuberant Milan Apartment

From Architectural Digest:

Two days later, an apartment on the third floor of a 1910 building with beautiful bones, a magnificent frescoed entryway, original marble intarsia floors, 4.5-meter-tall molded ceilings, and an extra-large balcony was mine. What to do? I couldn’t afford a decorator; I didn’t have a lot of money for expensive furnishings. My move-in date, March 1, 2020, was one week prior to Milan’s full lockdown, in which we were prevented from even leaving our homes.

 You know what I did? I surrendered to faith and fate. I gave the house over to my higher self, my creative self, and the part of me that believes intrinsically that all will be well and that I am capable of anything when I follow my heart. Guess what? The house danced to life in a way I could never have imagined. I have my friend Raimondo Garau, a vintage-store owner with the best taste in town, to thank for helping me channel my creative geyser into practicality. Yes, there wouldn’t be a single white wall in the place; no, we would not paint every room a different color. Yes, I would make a few splurges on new purchases—like the Arflex sofa in peacock-blue velvet—but, no, the house would not be precious. Raimondo dug up astonishing 1910s sconces and a 1990s vintage Poliform kitchen from an old signora’s home in Milan, which cost me less than a fully applianced cheapo. I also harnessed the power of IKEA for closets that have La DoubleJ printed-fabric curtain covers and a shoe closet made from an IKEA lacquered kitchen topped with rose-colored mirror, Raimondo’s genius invention that now displays my Murano-glass collection. (Read more.)


Dirty Jobs

 From The Federalist:

Well, Rowe may have never worked a dirty job for minimum wage, but I did. From when I was a toddler to age 17 when I left for college, my family home was a trailer in a run-down mobile home park in rural Wisconsin. To Erika the Socialist (and James Carville), I likely qualified as “white trash.” So, with the credential of a life originally lacking credentials, let me confirm my first minimum wage job was a rung — on which I didn’t stay on long.

Early on the following summer, while I was still only 14, my boss sent for me. Nervous I had unwittingly done something wrong, I went to his office. Contrary to my anxious expectations, he told me even though I had only worked a few weekends the prior fall, my work matched the more experienced girls returning to work at the summer camp. Then, he gave me a five-cent per hour raise to match their pay rate.

Over the next two years, I volunteered to fill in whenever needed, helping out the kitchen staff, and then, I climbed another rung, when my boss arranged for a professional baker at a neighboring summer camp to train me. From ages 16 to 21, I served as the head baker at the small Wisconsin camp, earning well above the minimum wage full-time in the summer and on weekends in the spring and fall. The savings I accrued helped finance college, while the job experience and learned work ethic opened doors for me in the white-collar world when I needed a part-time job during the academic year. After college, I paid for law school, worked at a law firm, then made a career as a full-time faculty member and a part-time career law clerk. Now, I have my most important (and most difficult) job: Mom.

Reading now over Rowe’s S.W.E.A.T. pledge, I see I followed it. It wasn’t a pledge “to gratuitous abuse and disenfranchisement.” What Johnson, who mocked the pledge as “bourgeois propaganda” marketing “very basic human needs” misses, is that hard, honest work genuinely satisfies basic human needs. Indeed, that five-cent raise I earned at 14 still brings me more pride than most of my later white-collar job achievements. (Read more.)


Rarest of the Rare

From Live Science:

About 70 million years ago, an ostrich-like dinosaur brooding atop a nest of blue-green eggs met its doom, perishing with its nearly-hatched babies in what is now southern China. Now, the remains of that beast — an oviraptorosaur, or a giant feathered dinosaur that walked on two legs — represent the only dinosaur fossil on record to be found sitting on top of eggs that still contain dinosaur embryos, a new study finds. 

"Dinosaurs preserved on their nests are rare, and so are fossil embryos," study lead researcher Shundong Bi, a paleontologist at the Center for Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology at Yunnan University in China, said in a statement. "This is the first time a non-avian dinosaur has been found, sitting on a nest of eggs that preserve embryos, in a single spectacular specimen." (Read more.)


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Mozart, Masonry and Catholicism

From National Catholic Reporter:

According to historians, Mozart was initiated into a Masonic lodge in Vienna at 28, and eventually became a Master Mason. He wrote at least eight pieces of music for the Masons. Conoscenti also detect influences of Masonry in his famous opera "The Magic Flute."

Mozart joined despite the fact that Pope Clement XII had prohibited membership in 1738, and this antipathy is still alive. In 1983, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterated: "Faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion."

One understands, therefore, why links between the pope's favorite composer and the Masons make Catholics nervous.

Yet Mozart also composed some of the most famous Roman Catholic Masses and other liturgical scores in Western history, more than 60 pieces of sacred music altogether. How to reconcile these two aspects of his biography has long been a puzzle.

Once again, Schönborn is at the center of the debate.

Speaking July 16 in Chieti, Italy, at the opening of a Mozart festival, the Austrian cardinal asserted that "there's no foundation for his frequently mentioned membership in the Masons." (Read more.)


From Catholic World Report:

Born on January 27, 1756, he was baptized the next day as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, at St. Rupert’s Cathedral in Salzburg. He would later drop the Johannes Chrysostomus (added by custom because he was born on the feast of St. John Chrysostom), and change the Greek Theophilus to the Latin equivalent Amadeus (one who loves God, or one who is loved by God).

Wolfgang and his sister were raised in a devout and strictly observant Catholic household. Their parents, Leopold and Anna Maria, encouraged family devotions and prayer, fasting, regular attendance at Mass, frequent confession, the veneration of saints, and other typically Catholic devotions.

Leopold was a moderately successful composer himself, and a teacher of music, working as a court musician for the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. While Leopold and Anna Maria had seven children, all died in infancy except Anna Maria (affectionately called “Nannerl”) and young Wolfgang.

Herr and Frau Mozart were always concerned for the spiritual well-being of their children. Leopold once wrote to his wife and son on their way to Paris in 1777, “God must come first! From His hands we receive our temporal happiness; and at the same time we must think of our eternal salvation.” These words were written out of fear that Wolfgang had become “a little lax about confession.” Leopold saw it as his duty to impart to his children the truth of the Catholic faith, and to instill in them a personal piety that they would maintain throughout their lives. (Read more.)