Symphysiotomy is a controversial procedure that has left many Irish mothers with catastrophic long-term health problems. A compensation scheme has now begun, but questions remain over why the operation was used, and where the blame lies
When Mary discovered she was pregnant, she was more than delighted: she was relieved. It was 1981 and although she was just 23 years old, she had wanted a family since she had married three years earlier.
“Expecting our first child was the best thing ever,” Mary (not her real name) tells me from her home in Ireland, her voice softening at the memory. “It was what I had always dreamed of.” Her friends and her three sisters, already mothers themselves, reassured her giving birth was just “aches and pains”, she says. But for Mary – now a lively, funny healthcare worker – it was the beginning of a devastating experience that still affects her 30 years later. And the problems weren’t the natural complications that can trouble any pregnancy. They were the result of a doctor’s intervention.
"I thought it added something to the service, it didn't take away," Williams said Tuesday night.
The city councilor said he referenced Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated every Dec. 25 by Christians worldwide but not by Jews, after participants in the ceremony mentioned "the bright light" of 2,000 years ago – an allusion to Christ, according to Williams.
"They said it," Williams said.
"I thought I was being very positive," said Williams, clarifying his "Jesus is the reason for the season" remark at a Hanukkah event in downtown Springfield.
As the U.S. resumes diplomatic relations with Cuba, travelers can bring back $100 worth of booze.
Today, the Obama administration announced a historic new agreement with the Cuban government, easing travel and banking restrictions that had been in place since 1961. And in good news for booze fans, this means more Cuban rum might be hitting American shores — sort of. The Wall Street Journal reports the new diplomatic regulation will allow American travelers to bring up to $400 worth of Cuban goods back to the U.S., including cigars and rum, although only $100 of the allotment can be used on booze or tobacco.
Cuba's famous Havana Club-brand rum has already had a fraught history in the United States, with mega-distillery Bacardi fighting for the right to sell its own version of the Havana Club recipe in the U.S. (According to Bacardi, its own assets in Cuba were confiscated by the government in the 1960s.) But don't expect to see Cuban bottles hitting the back bar at your favorite watering hole. Not just anyone can take a trip to Cuba: Tourism is still restricted to those with family members living in Cuba or those with work-related projects in the country. And as the Washington Post points out, cigars and alcohol privately brought back to the United States will not legally be available for resale.
This headline certainly grabbed my attention. Read the account of Narayan Khandekar, Senior Conservation Scientist at Harvard University, who worked on the restoration of Harvard’s Rothko murals using lighting to recreate the original appearance. His description of the project in The Conversation, December 16, 2014 seems like it could be part of a future wave of non-invasive “treatment”. But does it count as treatment?
“You are looking at two people that stood shoulder to shoulder, faced rubber bullets, tear gas and discrimination. … To be a black woman in America is an unfathomably deep struggle to go through day in and day out. And being a lesbian black woman in America — you just see how each level compounds,” Spann said. “These two women represent the idea of freedom. They represent the idea of love and that black lives matter and have power and passion. It comes full circle; it’s like watching poetry write itself.”
The decline of western civilization continues! Some intrepid data-crunchers over at Proofreader went through the pop charts from Billboard, going all the way back to the 1890s to determine the most common words in song titles by their uniqueness to the decade. For example, no one in the 1920s said disco, because disco has always been dead. Just kidding, no one knew what the hell disco was. Narrowing it down to a top five for each decade, the results might surprise you.
In the Leave It To Beaver era of the 1950s, people liked Christmas. The actual words “Christmas” and “Rednosed” make it into the top five. Timewarp all the way to the 2010s and things aren’t so sugar-and-spice-with-everything-nice. HELL YEAH WE FUCK DIE. Those are our words. Seriously. That really could be the rallying cry of our generation.
Other random thoughts from the results:
“Uncle” was a really popular word for two decades. What’s up with that?
In the 2010s we may want to Hell Yeah Fuck Die, but “we” makes its first appearance after two decades of “U” and “You.” Does that mean we are coming together? Or are just inserting ourselves into the equation more often?
Genres of music pop up in titles often throughout the decades: Rock, Polka, Disco, Mambo, Rag all show up. But for the last 30 years, genres have been absent. We have to start using music genres as verbs; it’s the only solution. I think Trap music lends itself most readily. We need Nicki Minaj to make song called Trapped In The Club.
If you like nerdy data you can see how it was processed here.
The Galway is a most classic English Country Boot, yet quite urbane by today’s standards. This pair is made in Edward Green’s new Utah leather, which is a printed version of their supple Delapre, and has Dainite soles and a smart tapered round toe.
These boots glide easily between dress and casual occasions. Wear them with a suit when the morning weather is sub-par or on a snowy Saturday stroll. Boots don’t have to be rugged to get the job done, but they do need to be well made, and Edward Green makes them as good as they get.
So you've already heard how many millions of volumes Harvard boasts. But did you know the University has 97 libraries? Only if you are extraordinarily myopic will you spend all your studying time in Lamont. Harvard libraries can be some of the most relaxing and stimulating preserves in Cambridge-you just have to know where to look.
Widener is the granddaddy of the system. Like Bloomingdale's, it sports a lot of everything, but finding it takes the perseverance of-well-a scholar. The ten floors of dark and musty stacks are reminiscent of catacombs, but at the same time the crumbling tomes inspire a rather stately awe. The basement floors are always cool, and despite rumors to the contrary, there are no ghosts of moth-eaten professors still trying to find their way out.
Death. Typically depicted as a skeleton with a sickle, one might suppose that if this card appeared in a tarot reading that you should prepare for an untimely demise, but it rarely signifies a physical death. Tarot card readings are a highly subjective topic depending on what you believe, but according to A.E. Waite, a recognized authority on the occult and tarot, the Death card usually means an end to a cycle or a transition into a new stage in your life.
Le Taro sacerdotal : reconstitué d’après l’astral et expliqué pour ceux qui savent déja published in 1951 consists of 22 beautiful lithograph cards, most of which are hand-colored with watercolors. The cards consist of an iconographic image with a corresponding description of the archetype below it, one of the exceptions being Death.
You can see that the style of the description scripts vary according to the image. Again according to Waite the Hermit represents guidance, introspection, solitude, and seclusion. The Hanged Man is based on a pittura infamante, a shameful image of a traitor being punished in a manner common at the time in Italy. Waite suggests the Hanged Man is associated with sacrifice, passivity, contemplation, and inner harmony.
The illustrator of these cards, Lucien Laforge, is also known for his illustrative work in magazines including La Charrette : “Charrie” Aujourd’hui which was a short lived serial publication in 20th-century France. Courtesy of the JMSD collection we have the very last issue no. 24 in Widener and it is possible we may uncover more as we continue to catalog.
Hoping to find more information about Laforge I discovered the Database of Modern Tarot Art. Adam MacLean, who is an enthusiast for alchemical texts and symbolism, is creating a database from his own collection of tarot decks. They are currently sorted by geographic regions though there is also a keyword search function. The description of the entries vary depending on the information MacLean has on the specific deck, but it is a pretty robust database with at least two images from the deck for each entry.
Le Taro sacerdotal : reconstitué d’après l’astral et expliqué pour ceux qui savent déja / Lucien Laforge [and] André Godin : prints, 1951. MS Fr 606 can be found at the Houghton Library.
Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager and Susan Wyssen, Manuscript Cataloger, for contributing this post.
If you're a fan of spy thrillers, you'll enjoy BBC America's miniseries The Gamethe way you might a dog-eared novel and a cup of tea on a winter's night. The pace is leisurely, and the plot elements familiar (an enigmatic young spy with tangled loyalties, a possible mole inside MI5).
The show is also a particular visual treat if, like me, you can appreciate a muted 1970s color palette and the Cold War Britain it evokes—the Britain of the three-day week, unfortunate cardigans, and National Health Service glasses. It's like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, with just as much suspense as you can handle before bed.
There is one area where The Game—which premiered Nov. 5 and is available on-demand—does make an original contribution: in its use of Brutalist architecture.
Filmmakers have, of course, long used muscular concrete buildings to connote dystopia and decay, especially in Britain. In Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971), the antihero Alex lives in a Brutalist housing estate in London and undergoes "aversion therapy" at a Brutalist facility played by the campus of Brunel University. Get Carter, a gritty gangster drama starring Michael Caine and released the same year, features a punch-up in the Trinity Square parking garage, a significant Brutalist structure (now demolished) in Newcastle.
The Game is set in a British Brutalist landmark, too, but it's different from those precursors. The series was filmed in Birmingham, and the primary location is the Birmingham Central Library, a massive inverted ziggurat of concrete that opened in 1974. The library was designed by John Madin, a local architect who found inspiration across the Atlantic in the equally imposing Boston City Hall.
It was the era of ambitious urban renewal, and Madin, along with Birmingham's city fathers, imagined the library surrounded by water gardens, the proud icon of a new and thoroughly modern civic center that would include schools, offices, and stores, all connected by skywalks.
The money ran out before that vision could be achieved. However, as critic Jonathan Glancey noted in a 2003 ode to the library, "[t]his was not a cheap building: concrete slabs were faced in Hopton Wood stone; ceilings were coffered in much the same way as the great libraries of Ancient Rome would have been; furniture was custom-designed by the architects."
The Game makes the most of these material riches. In the show, the library is a stand-in for the headquarters of MI5, the U.K.'s counter-intelligence agency. The operation's nerve center is a board room where "the fray," a special committee, meets to discuss a mysterious KGB plot. And what a room it is: deeply coffered, sparsely furnished, and looking across an atrium to the stacked glass-and-concrete layers of the ziggurat.
Rough, ribbed-concrete walls provide the backdrop for scene after scene, giving this viewer the urge to reach out and touch her TV.
The Game is about the Cold War, and yes, there's an atmosphere of menace and paranoia hanging over it. But this is no dystopia—it's 1970s Britain, and MI5 agents are the good guys (well, basically). We see the characters in the show—men and women, it should be noted—whisper and kiss in a Brutalist setting. The Game humanizes Brutalist architecture. It makes Brutalism the scene of interactions that for once aren't thuggish or sinister.
The show's set design helps, warming up the concrete with furnishings in jewel and earth tones. Leather sofas, paintings, bookshelves, and lamp lighting make the spy agency seem not quite domestic, but lived-in.
The BBC crew built a number of sets inside the "fantastic basic structure" of the library, bringing in new items but also making use of existing bookshelves and other "stuff that was lying around," says the show's production designer, Michael Howells. They painted walls in dull blues and grays, and for the offices of the senior MI5 officials, carefully chose objects—a golf tchotchke for one, contemporary art for another—that suited the respective characters.
"My age group, in their 40s and 50s—the fact that we've grown up in the '60s and '70s, in a way it almost becomes nostalgic," Howells says. "You get into your 50s, you have the money and start buying those pieces. That's when you start really looking at it ... People do respond to it."
The Game humanizes Brutalist architecture. It makes Brutalism the scene of interactions that for once aren't thuggish or sinister.
Mad Men, which first aired in 2007, helped push the long-percolating revival of mid-century modern design into the mainstream (as a glance at any homewares catalog today will prove). Could The Game signal a comeback, a similar wave of nostalgia, for the Brutalist era? There have been glimmers of it for a while now, in, for example, the writings of Owen Hatherley and the popular Fuck Yeah Brutalism Tumblr (which spawned the #fuckyeahbrutalism hashtag). The successful campaign to save the U.K.'s Preston Bus Station proves the style has admirers outside of a coterie of designers and historians.
The Game may tap into a growing appreciation for Brutalism, but it wrapped up shooting in the nick of time: Birmingham Central Library is slated for demolition next month. A blingy new ziggurat of a library by the Dutch architects Mecanoo opened in Birmingham last year, and soon, Madin's more austere one will join Chicago's Prentice Women's Hospital and Baltimore's Mechanic Theatre up in Brutalist heaven.
The library will be mourned. Howells, for one, is sorry to see it come down, and thinks it could be reused as a museum. "I completely fell in love with the building," he says. "It was a real shame in the end, thinking, 'Well, when we leave and close the door, this will be demolished.'"
In the fate of buildings, lovability counts for a lot.
The Game may not be able to save the Birmingham library, but it makes a difficult style more accessible than any book or lecture could. It reveals the softer, tactile insides of an architecture that can seem hard and blank from the outside, which is all we're usually able to see.
In the fate of buildings, lovability counts for a lot. If we want more people to care about Brutalism, we shouldn't preach to them about architectural history—we should tell them to watch The Game.