Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sweetpacks Revenge?

I have been having a mess of trouble with Google products since I went to war against the Sweetpacks invader  on my computer, even going back to Fireox to try to quash it.   

Some online say that Sweetpacks counterattacks when you try to remove it.  All I can say is that I'll never believe the line "verified virus free" in an online download, ever again.

Friday, December 6, 2013

For St. Nicholas Day

Peaceful revolution at Leipzig, October 9, 1989

The peaceful revolution in Germany began in my hometown Leipzig, when the courageous parish priest, Christian Fuehrer, opened up a dialogue at the St. Nicholas Church with prayers for peace each Monday. They attracted large crowds – so many, that in time the church with its 2,000 seats could barely contain them.

From September 4, 1989 on the peace prayers resulted in the so-called Monday Demonstrations, with thousands of people holding candles, showing banners and shooting paroles. The authorities tried to check the demonstrations by means of road blocks and the presence of armed security forces in the city. However, the number of protesters steadily grew.
The government had given orders to shoot and the fear of an impending bloodbath was great. Nonetheless on October 9, 1989, on the all-decisive demonstration, up to 100,000 demonstrators showed up in downtown Leipzig – face to face with the 8,000 armed security forces deployed by the state, shooting in mighty choruses “We are the people” and “No violence” - an incredible and unforgettable experience!

What transpired would go down in history as the “Miracle of Leipzig.” Given the immense number of peaceful protesters, security forces did not dare to shoot. The demonstrations ended with a victory of the people over the authorities. Thus, the dam had broken. Protests quickly swept through the whole of East Germany, ultimately leading to the opening of the borders on November 9, 1989 and the fall of the communist regime.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

George Walker Piano Sonata No. 2

George Walker, composer and pianist

I Theme and Ten Variations
II (@ 02:43) Presto
II (@ 04:00) Adagio
IV (@ 08:00) Allegretto tranquillo

I love this sonata and this is, by definition, a definitive rendition of it. I mean, he's the composer and a very fine pianist.

Bollocks From The Freedom From Religion Website

Note:  I see in the paper that it's the anniversary of Mozart's death.  Here's a re-run for the occasion.

On this date in 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. Son of a Catholic musician, the child prodigy conducted his first original Mass at age 12 in Vienna, was later made a Knight of the Golden Spur by the pope, and was concert master to the Archbishop of Salzburg for many years. Accused of neglecting his religion, he resigned the appointment in 1781. Mozart joined the Freemasons, who were condemned by the Catholic Church, in 1781. Mozart refused to ask for a priest when dying. His wife sent for one anyway, who refused to attend. Mozart was buried in a pauper's grave without a religious service. Referring to the orthodoxy of his youth, he said: "That is all over, and will never come back. (Mozart's Leben, by A. Ulibichev, 1847, i, 243). D. 1791.

I think that inch for inch, this might be the most deceptive thing I've ever read about Mozart, apart from the fictitious play, "Amadeus". 

The first thing to note about this little bit of tripe claiming Mozart for the atheists is that he was known to be a Mason.   While there are conflicting sources as to whether or not a Catholic in Vienna could manage to be both a Mason and a Catholic, one thing, it seems,  wasn't possible, to be an atheist and a Mason.  Atheists were explicitly barred from being a Mason.  You would have had to believe in the creator of the universe, a designer of the universe, to have been a Mason.  Some of the sources say that the ban on Catholics joining the Masons wasn't promulgated in Austria until the year after Mozart's death.  I have been unable to find verification of that.

While Mozart might have had his differences with the Catholic Bishop of  Salzburg, for the record, he quit the gig with the Bishop to run away to Vienna.  He was repeatedly away from his post, touring, which is what he was accused of neglecting.  Far from getting canned, the Bishop was not very happy to have his resident prodigy take it on the lam and rather belatedly fired him and, to express his unhappiness, his father, Leopold.  Though apparently Leopold kept his job, in the end.

Why would young Mozart want to leave? 

Salzburg is no place for my talents. In the first place, professional musicians there are not held in much consideration; and secondly, one hears nothing, there is no theatre, no opera; and even if they wanted one, who is there to sing?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to his good friend, Fr Joseph Bullinger SJ  (Summer 1778).

As for the death and funeral of Mozart, so many myths has been told about it that it's very difficult to get any kind of accurate picture of what happened.   Two things are known, he had a funeral at St. Stephen's Cathedral and a Requiem at St. Michael's Church. 

In 1791, the year he died,  Mozart had been appointed assistant organist at St. Stephen's so his relationship with the church couldn't have been all that bad.   The story about a priest refusing to give him the last rights would seem to originate with his sister-in-law Sophie, (I believe she was there at his death) and Constanze, his widow's second husband G. Nicholas von Nissen, who said he had received extreme unction. [see update below]  Which I was taught comprised the last rites.  His burial in a "common grave" (that would be a grave of a commoner, as opposed to one where the myriad of aristocrats in the city would have been buried, not a mass grave) was in accordance with local customs.  The idea that Mozart "refused to ask for a priest" would seem to be an exaggeration.  From what I've read, all that is known is that Mozart doesn't seem to have asked for a priest.  Given the descriptions of his physical and mental condition, his desperation to complete the Requiem Mass he was working on, he might well have not been in any condition to have accepted it was time.   Apparently the evidence from his sister-in-law is that one came and gave him the last rites.  Though, like so much to do with that day, it is ambiguous. 

Given the amount of religious music, both Catholic and Masonic, that Mozart wrote right up to the day of his death, for atheists to claim him as one of their own is pretty silly.   While his letters don't seem to contain a lot about his developed thoughts about religion on the cusp of middle age, some of what he is known to have said probably wouldn't be very welcomed news for atheists.

I must give you a piece of intelligence that you perhaps already know, namely that the ungodly arch-villain Voltaire has died miserably like a dog, just like a brute. That is his reward! 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Letter to Leopold Mozart (3 July 1778)

I have been unable to make any sense of the last sentence from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.   Looking at page 243 of Ulibichev's book, I find a rather nonsensical letter to a friend.   Another book translates it:

To Herr von Hefner 

I hope that we shall still find you in Salzburg, my friendly slug. 

I hope that you are well and are not an enemy spider, for if so I'll be an enemy fly Or even a friendly bug. 

So I strongly advise you to write better rhymes, for If not, our Salzburg Cathedral will see me no more.  For I'm quite capax to go off to Constantinople, that city whose praises all chant. 
And then you won't see me again nor I you; yet When horses are hungry, some oats they get. 
Farewell, my lad, I'm ever to infinity 

Or else I'll go mad. From now to all eternity. 

As the previous letter on the same page in the book the FFRF cites contains the phrase "All good souls praise the Lord God", the idea that Mozart had become an atheist at that time is entirely absurd. 

In googling to find Mozarts Leben by Ulibichev, I found that this little passage has been adopted as fact all over the atheist internet, repeating the blatant distortions and errors contained in it.  Such has been my experience just about whenever I go online to research things said by organized atheism. 

UPDATE  What Mozart's sister-in-law Sophie and his widow, Constanze's second husband said in their statements is extremely confused and its interpretation by different scholars seems to differ.  Some read Sophie's statement as I first did, that the priest was slow in coming but eventually came, some read it to mean that they didn't come.   G. Nicholas von Nissen, Constanze's second husband, is translated to say both that that Mozart didn't receive last rites and that he received extreme unction.  Some assert that the priests might have been confused because Constanze seems to have wanted the priest to come but for Mozart to not understand he was there to give him the last rights.  From looking at various assertions about their accounts, it would seem that the nature of what is asserted depends largely on what other motives are held by those asserting it. 

What is clear is that by the 1820s when Sophie and Nissen were writing about the confusing night of Mozart's death, the lurid romanticization of the event was well underway. If you want a good idea at what a total mess the narratives  surrounding the death of Mozart are, this is an interesting paper dealing with just the medical theories and conspiracies invented to "explain" things.  About the only thing I'm pretty sure of, other than the documented facts,  is that, thanks to a second rate playwright what most people think they know, that Antonio Salieri did him in, is an absurd fiction. 

UPDATE 2.   This account of the funeral mass and requiem said for Mozart are far more detailed than what was known when I took a course in Mozart in the late 1960s.   It goes a long way to dispelling some of the more lurid myths about the days after his death, though it does little to clear up the actual night of his death.  The account by his friend, Benedikt Schack, of Mozart wanting to get together with other musicians to go over parts of the requiem eleven hours before his death is quite compelling.  I don't see any reason to not believe it.  It reminds me of the stories of how Alban Berg was caught up in his opera, Lulu, as he was lapsing into his final delirium and Bach dictating an appropriate chorale to his son-in-law.  Note the very end of the paper, where poor Sophie seems to be confused as to whether she went to St. Peters and St. Michael's church to find a priest that night, perhaps remembering the requiem sung for Mozart in her memory lapse. 

The picture of Mozart being surrounded by his friends and fellow musicians in the hours before his death is certainly more humane, though less romantically tragic -as if tragedy had to be heightened in this case - than the traditional stories. 

UPDATE 3.  One of the results of doing this day of research into the question has made me a lot more skeptical of the Mozart biography that is attributed to von Nissen.  It was, apparently, largely unfinished at his death, completed by two of his friends.  While von Nissen seems to have been making a real effort at documentation, it's difficult to know how much of the ambiguity of the account of Mozarts death could have been the product of so many different hands being involved in producing it.  I sort of get the idea that the account might have been written by someone who wasn't familiar with the Catholic sacraments.

Also, the picture I have now of Constanze, Mozart's widow, is a lot more positive than the ditzy flighty songbird presented by a male professor during my college years.   She seems to have done a good job of managing the family finances, especially considering the debts that Mozart left.  She effectively promoted and preserved his music, and did a fairly good job of raising her sons.   How she might have seen or used the ridiculous romantic legends that began growing up around Mozart as soon as he died, I don't know.  I'm left imagining a lot of it must have made her discretely roll her eyes but figuring if she couldn't stop it she might be able to use it to the advantage of her family.  She became quite well off and took care of her sisters and reconciled with Mozart's sister, Nannerl  late in their lives.   I've got a lot more respect for her than I used to have.

Issues In Long Term Care Giving

The problem isn't whether or not you're going to burn out, you are.  The question is how many times you can burn out.  

We're still taking care of our very old mother.  She's able to tell us that she hurts and where she hurts and she knows who we all are now.  She's off of the morphine, which is a far more devastating drug than I'd been aware of before.  That was no picnic.  And she's down to three halves of a Lorazepam but only on her really bad days.   It's no fun, getting your very old mother off of drugs her incompetent doctor got her addicted to.   

She, a woman who worked in some of the most well known hospitals in Boston and Philadelphia during the period before and during the introduction of penicillin, "It was like a miracle, the first cases we used it on," someone who had complete faith in the medical profession, has been led to being a skeptical victim of it.  She has been trying alternative treatment, having some good results with some of it. That was something she was extremely skeptical of before this happened.   I am hoping she will recover enough to write about her experience.  She is totally disillusioned with the for-profit hospitals, the only kind around, these days. 

Anyone in a country where they're trying to make medicine more market based, beware.  What happens here is what they want to do to you.