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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

#HandfulOfMud

On March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi gave some parting remarks at Chandola lake to those who came to see his party off as they began the Salt March:

There were rumours of my arrest last night. God is great, mysterious indeed are His ways. I am here to say good-bye to you. But even if I were in prison, with your strength I could come back...

[B]e prepared to offer yourselves as civil resisters. Let there be no flinching. Your way at present, however, lies homeward; mine straight on to the sea-coast. You cannot accompany me at present, but you will have an opportunity to accompany me in a different sense later. . . .

The purpose of the March and this satyagraha was, in part, to break the British monopoly on salt manufacture through a form of economic non-cooperation (Method 90: Revenue Refusal).  By making their own salt, Indians would deny a small, symbolic amount of tax monies to the Raj in defiance of an unjust law that was part of the larger injustice of occupation.

By itself, that action wouldn't amount to much, so Gandhi had to generate what we'd call buzz today--without social media, no less--hence the March.  It generated popular interest in every locality his party passed through, and the media propagated the message far and wide.

Before embarking on this first stage of the satyagraha, Gandhi wrote to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin on March 2:

I know that in embarking on non-violence I shall be running what might fairly be termed a mad risk. But the victories of truth have never been won without risks, often of the gravest character. Conversion of a nation that has consciously or unconsciously preyed I know that in embarking on non-violence I shall be running what might fairly be termed a mad risk. But the victories of truth have never been won without risks, often of the gravest character. Conversion of a nation that has consciously or unconsciously preyed. 
...
[I]f you cannot see your way to deal with these evils and my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the 11th day of this month,1 I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram as I can take, to disregard the provisions of the salt laws. I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of all from the poor man’s standpoint. As the independence movement is essentially for the poorest in the land the beginning will be made with this evil. The wonder is that we have submitted to the cruel monopoly for so long.

It is, I know, open to you to frustrate my design by arresting me. I hope that there will be tens of thousands ready, in a disciplined manner, to take up the work after me, and, in the act of disobeying the Salt Act to lay themselves open to the penalties of a law that should never have disfigured the Statute-book.

It might seem odd at first blush to alert the authorities that you plan on breaking the law, but civil resistance is all about letting the people in power know what you're doing and why.  That way they can either amend their ways or be provoked into counterproductive actions that undermine their authority and give power to the resisters.

A few days before the March ended in Dandi, spoke at a prayer meeting:

Another piece of information that I have received is that the Government intends to use fire-engines to stop us. We have prepared ourselves for death from cannons and guns, compared to which this is nothing. Of course, even with jets of water, the Government can kill us through torture. It is certainly painful. However, you must bear in mind that not one of us will retreat. I do not think the Government will be so cruel, but we must be prepared.

The March arrived at Dandi on April 5:

That I have reached here is in no small measure due to the power of peace and non-violence: that power is universally felt. The Government may, if it wishes, congratulate itself on acting as it has done, for it could have arrested every one of us. In saying that it did not have the courage to arrest this army of peace, we praise it. It felt ashamed to arrest such an army. He is a civilized man who feels ashamed to do anything which his neighbours would disapprove. The Government deserves to be congratulated on not arresting us, even if it desisted only from fear of world opinion.

Tomorrow we shall break the salt tax law. Whether the Government will tolerate that is a different question. It may not tolerate it, but it deserves congratulations on the patience and forbearance it has displayed in regard to this party.

If the civil disobedience movement becomes widespread in the country and the Government tolerates it, the salt law may be taken as abolished. I have no doubt in my mind that the salt tax stood abolished the very moment that the decision to break the salt laws was reached and a few men took the pledge to carry on the movement even at the risk of their lives till swaraj was won.

If the Government tolerates the impending civil disobedience you may take it for certain that the Government, too, has resolved to abolish this tax sooner or later. If they arrest me or my companions tomorrow, I shall not be surprised, I shall certainly not be pained. It would be absurd to be pained if we get something that we have invited on ourselves.

Then on April 6 (as reported by The Bombay Chronicle):

When they made a beginning in the morning he had himself picked up more mud than salt, but after washing and cleaning he could get two tolas of pure quality which was sufficient for his day’s requirements. That was only a beginning but that signified great things.

In an interview, Gandhi suggested everybody ought to engage in this civil disobedience:

Now that a technical or ceremonial breach of the salt law has been committed, it is now open to anyone who would take the risk of prosecution under the salt law to manufacture salt wherever he wishes and wherever it is convenient.

My advice is that a worker should everywhere manufacture salt and where he knows how to prepare clean salt should make use of it and instruct villagers to do likewise, telling the villagers at the same time that he runs the risk of being prosecuted. In other words the villagers should be fully instructed as to the incidence of salt tax and the manner of breaking laws and regulations in connection with it, so as to have the salt tax repealed and it should be made absolutely clear to the villagers that this breach is to be open and in no way stealthy.

This condition being known they may manufacture salt or help themselves to salt manufactured by nature in creeks and pits near the seashore, to use it for themselves and for their cattle and to sell it to those who will buy it, it being well und- erstood that all such people are committing a breach of the salt law and therefore running the risk of prosecution or even without prosecution to be subjected by the so-called salt officers to harassment. Thus the war against salt tax should be continue...

Gandhi was not arrested yet.  That would happen a bit later when the satyagrahis escalated, announcing their nonviolent raid on the Dharasana saltworks.  But this was a real turning point in the struggle, massively mobilizing the Indian people while not alienating more moderate members of the Indian National Congress.

Wonder what the hashtag would be today?

ntodd

March 12, 2019 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Child Abuse

That's what anti-vaxxers commit, and not just in our neighbor to the north, but in our very own Orygun.  So once more with feeling: fuck those people.

ntodd

March 11, 2019 in Conscience, Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Restraint

On the same date that Gandhi wrote in Young India about non-violence in March '22, he instructed people what to do in case he was arrested:

The rumour has been revived that my arrest is imminent. It is said to be regarded as a mistake by some officials that I was not arrested when I was to be...It is said, too, that it is now no longer possible for the Government to withstand the ever-rising agitation in London for my arrest and deportation. I myself cannot see how the Government can avoid arresting me if they want a permanent abandonment of civil disobedience, whether individual or mass. 

I advised the Working Committee to suspend mass civil disobedience...becauae that disobedience would not have been civil, and if I am now advising all provincial workers to suspend even individual civil disobedience, it is because I know that any disobedience at the present stage will be not civil but criminal. A tranquil atmosphere is an indispensable condition of civil disobedience. It is humiliating for me to discover that there is a spirit of violence abroad and that the Government of the United Provinces has been obliged to enlist additional police...

He also admonished his followers to not engage in any demonstrations or hartal upon his arrest, nor should they revive mass civil disobedience, and they should strictly adhere to the principles of non-violence.  

Gandhi was, in fact, arrested at Ahmedabad late at night on today's date, under Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code.  His parting words were that "all who bore patriotism and love for India should strain every nerve to propagate peace and goodwill all over India, among all communities."

The authorities charged Gandhi with sedition for writing three articles in Young India:

Fans of Attenborough's movie might remember a stirring court scene that encapsulated the "Great Trial" which ended with this statement (necessarily summarized in the film) on March 18:

I know that I was playing with fire. I ran the risk, and if I were set free I would still do the same. Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also last article of my creed. I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am sorry for it. Their crime consisted in the love of their country.

I am here to submit not to a light penalty but to the highest Penalty. In my opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good Nonviolence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-co-operation with evil. I am here to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be the inflected upon me for what in law is a deliberated crime and what appears to me be the highest duty of a citizen.

The only cause open to, judge, is either to resign post and thus dissociate yourself from evil if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is evil and that I am innocent or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country and that my activity is therefore injurious to the public weal.

He was sentenced to six years in prison, though he was released early because of illness (he was 53 at that point and had an appendectomy two years into his prison term).  How much restraint can Trump supporters show?

ntodd

March 10, 2019 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, March 08, 2019

Never, Ever Compare Personal Or Historical Pain

I recall my mother having an experience during her PsyD program wherein a Jewish classmate had just given an emotional talk about lasting psychological trauma the Shoah inflicted upon not only survivors, but descendants.  An African-American classmate then stood up and said, "Honey, being burned alive for 30 minutes ain't nothing compared to being raped for 400 years!"

All of this shit is stupid.  Stop causing pain to each other, maybe?

ntodd

March 8, 2019 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Nevertheless, They Resisted


I've never seen you shine so bright, you were amazing...

Wannabeautocratsezwut?

[W]e must reject...resistance...We must choose between...results or resistance...

Like he never, ever resisted Obama's legitimacy, or midterm results, or reality...

ntodd

February 5, 2019 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Apartheiders Gonna Apartheid

Expect Trump and Nikki Haley to pitch a fit, amirite?

In a groundbreaking case, Israel has detained an American graduate student at its international airport for the past week, accusing her of supporting a Palestinian-led boycott campaign against the Jewish state.

The case highlights Israel’s concerns about the boycott movement and the great efforts it has made to stop it. The grassroots campaign has made significant inroads in recent years, particularly among university students and millennials.

Would that everybody exercised their free speech and market strength through the BDS movement...

ntodd

October 9, 2018 in Conscience, Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, June 01, 2018

[C]oncerning these quakers (so caled)

Before Handmaid's Tale, there was Mary Dyer:

On June 1, 1660, at nine o'clock, Mary Dyer again set out from the jail for the gallows on Boston Common, surrounded by a strong military guard. As she stood upon the fatal ladder, she was told if she would return home, she might come down and save her life. " Nay," she replied, " I cannot ; for in obedience to the will of the Lord God I came, and in his will I abide faithful to the death."

Captain John Webb, the commander of the military, said to her that she had been there before, and had the sentence of banishment on pain of death, and had broken the law in coming again now, as well as formerly, and therefore she was guilty of rer own blood. " Nay," she replied, " I came to keep blood-guiltiness from you, desiring you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust law of banishment upon pain of death, made against the innocent servants of the Lord, therefore my blood will be required at your hands who wilfully do it ; but for those that do it in the simplicity of their hearts, I do desire the Lord to forgive them. I came to do the will of my Father, and in obedience to his will I stand even to the death."

Then her old Puritan pastor, the Rev. Mr. Wilson, bade her repent, and be not so deluded and carried away by the deceit of the devil. To which she replied, "Nay, man, I am not now to repent."
...
And more she spake of the eternal happiness into which she was about to enter; and then, without tremor or trepidation, she was swung off, and the crown of martyrdom descended upon her head. Thus died brave Mary Dyer. Her remains were buried on Boston Common, and there they now rest in an unknown grave.

Wonder if this gave Kevin Williamson his edgy ideas...

ntodd

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June 1, 2018 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, April 09, 2018

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Etc.

Dann gleitet das Bild des Führers über in das des Verführers:

If he [the Führer] understands his function in any other way than as it is rooted in fact, if he does not continually tell his followers quite clearly of the limited nature of his task and of their own responsibility, if he allows himself to surrender to the wishes of his followers, who would always make him their idol—then the image of the Leader will pass over into theimage of the mis—leader [the Verführer], and he will be acting in a criminal way not only towards those he leads, but also towards himself.

The true Leader must always be able to disillusion. It is just this that is his responsibility and his real object. He must lead his following away from the authority of his person to the recognition of the real authority of orders and offices...He must radically refuse to become the appeal, the idol, i.e. the ultimate authority of those whom he leads...

He serves the order of the state, of the community, and his service can be of incomparable value. But only so long as he keeps strictly in his place...[H]e has to lead the individual into his own maturity...

That would be Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged on this date in 1945.

ntodd

April 9, 2018 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, April 06, 2018

April Hartal

Let's begin with this scene from a movie:

PATEL: [I]t seems to me it's gone beyond remedies like passive resistance.

GANDHI: If I may – I, for one, have never advocated passive anything.

GANDHI: I am with Mr. Jinnah. We must never submit to such laws – ever. And I think our resistance must be active and provocative.
...
AZAD: And what "resistance" would you offer?

GANDHI: The law is due to take effect from April sixth. I want to call on the nation to make that a day of prayer and fasting.

JINNAH: You mean a general strike?

GANDHI: I mean a day of prayer and fasting. But of course no work could be done – no buses, no trains, no factories, no administration. The country would stop.

PATEL: My God, it would terrify them! 

Now, a little more backstory.  Gandhi used a tactic similar to the general strike quite effectively during India's struggle for independence.  His approach is called hartal:

"Hartal" is a Gujurati word. "Har" means "everything" or "always"; "Tal" or "tala" means "to close". The word "hartal" means a day of mourning or protest, on which all the shops are shut and no-one goes to work or does any shopping.

The first time we saw hartal employed was in 1919 to protest of the Rowlatt Act, which severely limited civil liberties in the Raj:

The idea came to me...in a dream that we should call upon the country to observe a general hartal. Satyagraha is a process of self-purification, and ours is a sacred fight, and it seems to me to be in the fitness of things that it should be commenced with an act of self-purification. Let all the people of India therefore, suspend their business on that day and observe the day as one of fasting and prayer. The Musalmans may not fast for more than one day; so the duration of the fast should be twenty-four hours. It is very difficult to say whether all the provinces would respond to this appeal of ours or not, but I feel fairly sure of Bombay, Madras, Bihar and Sindh. I think we should have every reason to feel satisfied even if all these places observe the hartal fittingly.

...I drafted a brief appeal. The date of the hartal was first fixed on the 30th March, 1919, but was subsequently changed to 6th April. The people thus had only a short notice of the hartal. As the work had to be started at once, it was hardly possible to give longer notice.

But who knows how it all came about? The whole of India from one end to the other, towns as well as villages, observed a complete hartal on that day. It was a most wonderful spectacle.

What's interesting is that Gandhi soon came to believe this action was an error:

[W]hen I reached Nadiad and saw the actual state of things there and heard reports about a large number of people from Kheda district having been arrested, it suddenly dawned upon me that I had committed a grave error in calling upon the people in the Kheda district and elsewhere to launch upon civil disobedience prematurely, as it now seemed to me. I was addressing a public meeting.

My confession brought down upon me no small amount of ridicule. But I have never regretted having made that confession. For I have always held that it is only when one sees one's own mistakes with a convex lens, and does just the reverse in the case of others, that one is able to arrive at a just relative estimate of the two. I further believe that a scrupulous and conscientious observance of this rule is necessary for one who wants to be a Satyagrahi.

Let us now see what the Himalayan miscalculation was. Before one can be fit for the practice of civil disobedience one must have rendered a willing and respectful obedience to the state laws. For the most part we obey such laws out of fear of the penalty for their breach, and this holds good particularly in respect of such laws as do not involve a moral principal.

For instance, an honest, respectable man will not suddenly take to stealing, whether there is a law against stealing or not, but this very man will not feel any remorse for failure to observe the rule about carrying head-lights on bicycles after dark. Indeed it is doubtful whether he would even accept advice kindly about being more careful in this respect. But he would observe any obligatory rule of this kind, if only to escape the inconvenience of facing a prosecution for a breach of the rule. Such compliance is not, however, the willing and spontaneous obedience that is required of a Satyagrahi.

A Satyagrahi obeys the laws of society intelligently and of his own free will, because he considers it to be his sacred duty to do so. It is only when a person has thus obeyed the laws of society scrupulously that he is in a position to judge as to which particular rules are good and just and which are unjust and iniquitous. Only then does the right accrue to him of the civil disobedience of certain laws in well-defined circumstances.

My error lay in my failure to observe this necessary limitation. I had called on the people to launch upon civil disobedience before they had thus qualified themselves for it, and this mistake seemed to me Himalayan magnitude.

Constant, courageous learning.  I'm not so sure he was wrong in the particular, but his principle was right: we endure, follow the law scrupulously, and then showing our virtue, make the calculated decision to break social norms in civil ways. 

That's what we've seen in Black Lives Matter, West Virginia, and now Oklahoma.  And we need more.

ntodd

April 6, 2018 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Highest Perfection Is Unattainable Without Highest Restraint

On the same date that Gandhi wrote in Young India about non-violence in March '22, he instructed people what to do in case he was arrested:

The rumour has been revived that my arrest is imminent. It is said to be regarded as a mistake by some officials that I was not arrested when I was to be...It is said, too, that it is now no longer possible for the Government to withstand the ever-rising agitation in London for my arrest and deportation. I myself cannot see how the Government can avoid arresting me if they want a permanent abandonment of civil disobedience, whether individual or mass.

I advised the Working Committee to suspend mass civil disobedience...becauae that disobedience would not have been civil, and if I am now advising all provincial workers to suspend even individual civil disobedience, it is because I know that any disobedience at the present stage will be not civil but criminal. A tranquil atmosphere is an indispensable condition of civil disobedience. It is humiliating for me to discover that there is a spirit of violence abroad and that the Government of the United Provinces has been obliged to enlist additional police...

He also admonished his followers to not engage in any demonstrations or hartal upon his arrest, nor should they revive mass civil disobedience, and they should strictly adhere to the principles of non-violence.  

Gandhi was, in fact, arrested at Ahmedabad late at night on today's date, under Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code.  His parting words were that "all who bore patriotism and love for India should strain every nerve to propagate peace and goodwill all over India, among all communities."

The authorities charged Gandhi with sedition for writing three articles in Young India:

Fans of Attenborough's movie might remember a stirring court scene that encapsulated the "Great Trial" which ended with this statement (necessarily summarized in the film) on March 18:

I know that I was playing with fire. I ran the risk, and if I were set free I would still do the same. Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also last article of my creed. I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am sorry for it. Their crime consisted in the love of their country.

I am here to submit not to a light penalty but to the highest Penalty. In my opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good Nonviolence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-co-operation with evil. I am here to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be the inflected upon me for what in law is a deliberated crime and what appears to me be the highest duty of a citizen.

The only cause open to, judge, is either to resign post and thus dissociate yourself from evil if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is evil and that I am innocent or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country and that my activity is therefore injurious to the public weal.

He was sentenced to six years in prison, though he was released early because of illness (he was 53 at that point and had an appendectomy two years into his prison term).  How much restraint can Trump and his supporters show?

ntodd

March 10, 2018 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Did I happen to mention that I'm impressed?

Already retweeted, but this needs to be re-emphasized:

Oh yes, a good old social intervention in the form of Method175. Overloading of facilities:

Overloading facilities involves the deliberate increase of demands fo services far beyond their capacity, so that the operation of the institution (government department, business, social service, and so on) is slow down or paralyzed.  Such overloading may be initiated by customers, the public, or employees of the institution.  The objectives may vary and may include improved services, wage increases and political ends.

In 1965 at the Los Angeles County Hospital in California, for example, interns protesting pay policies initiated an overloading of facilities by admitting far more patients to the hospital than existing facilities could accommodate--even persons not needing hospitalization were admitted.  This was called a heal-in.  The interns' aim was to obtain a better bargaining position with the hospital administration.  The hospital was filled with patients within four days, and the action cost the city around $250,000 in increased costs.

[The Miami News reported at the time:

Representatives of resident physicians and interns at Los Angeles County General Hospital, miffed by a pay raise of less than $10 a month, said they would flood the huge facility with patients. They called it a "heal in." 

County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn called it "a deliberate plan to disrupt good hospital service." Ho said a delegation of three doctors claiming to represent the 200 interns and 350 resident physicians said their strategy was to admit as many patients as possible and, at the same time, retain present patients longer. 

Hospital administrators said there was a 25 per cent increase in admissions yesterday and a 40 per cent drop in discharges. The doctors had asked fot $400 monthly for interns and a sliding scale foi resident physicians from S510 to $713 a month Interns now get $330 to start and $337 after six months — plus room and board. Resident physicians receive from $435 to $645 a month.]

A similar case occurred in Massachusetts at the Boston City Hospital in 1967, where it was called an "around-the-clock heal-in."  This action was begun by 450 residents and interns at Boston City Hospital on Tuesday, May 16, 1967.  The purpose of the heal-in was to dramatize salary demands by doctors at Boston teaching hospitals; at that time the take home salary of an intern was only sixty dollars per week.  The doctors felt that it would be in violation of their oaths to go on strike, so they chose instead to practice "ultra-conservative medicine in order to overcrowd the hospital.  Dr Philip Caper, President of the House Officers' Association, said: "Everyone gets the best of care," which was ensured by having all the interns and residents work twenty-four hours a day.  "Every patient who might benefit from hospitalization will be admitted, and no-one will be discharged until he is completely well."

The heal-in was patterned after the similar action at the Los Angeles County Hospital eighteen months previously.  The Boston City Hospital doctors began their heal-in as an unannounced experiment on Saturday, with 874 patients in the hospital.  On Sunday there were 890, on Monday 924, and on Tuesday at 7am (after the main action was begun) there were 982.  An unidentified doctor stated; "With 1200 or more patients in the hospital the laundry will not be able to keep up, the kitchens will have trouble getting the food out, the X-ray and laboratory departments will be swamped, and people will begin to listen to our demands..."

By Wednesday morning there were over 1000 patients, and 1075 on Thursday.  The heal-in was supported by private doctors and house officiers at the other major Boston hospitals.  Action was taken only at Boston City Hospital because house officers there had full responsibility for medical procedure, unlike the private hospitals.

Countermeasures by the administration began Tuesday afternoon with an announcement that there were no more beds for male patients, which was disproved that evening by the admission of two more patients.  They next tried to influence the chiefs of services to override the admittances, which these doctors refused to do on the grounds that these patients were indeed getting the best of care.  The administration's final effort was to deny their competence to make salary changes.  On the evening of Thursday, May 18, they relented and promised to make salary adjustments.  The doctors ended the heal-in voluntarily that night.  Observers felt that it was a "safe, effective way of backing up demands for higher wages."

[An LTE in Psychiatric News, 2001:

I was at the time a chief resident in psychiatry on what was then a Harvard service. I recall no mention of proposed union affiliation or concern about compensation, since the vast majority of residents felt privileged to be training under such notable clinicians as Dr. Derek Denny-Brown.

At issue were deplorable conditions for patient care such as grimy, open-bay wards with water-filled grapefruit juice cans filled with cigarette butts, an absence of bed linen, and no assistants to transport patients for X-ray studies or other procedures, such that interns had to push the gurney stretchers themselves.

The city administration had turned a deaf ear to the repeated pleas of the interns and residents. The “heal-in” was a last-ditch effort to draw public attention to the plight of the patients, who were, many of whom were poor and African Americans. We were determined during the heal-in to provide superior round-the-clock care. I recall being on duty for 36 hours straight. There were no “nonpatients” admitted, as described in Dr. Avram’s article. Rather, the decision was made not to discharge patients until every outstanding laboratory or X-ray study result was on the chart—this was had also been a significant problem in the precomputer era because of an absence of lab result dispatchers.

The Boston Globe was contacted in advance, emphasizing that superior care would be provided to patients during the heal-in. Thus, there was widespread public sympathy and support for this effort.

As I recall, the patient census soared from 800 to the full 1,200-bed capacity in two days. This required that some patients seeking admission were temporarily deferred to Massachusetts Memorial and Massachusetts General, New England Medical Center, and other area hospitals.

The city of Boston finally got the message, and the necessary patient care improvements were initiated.

This was not an action taken lightly and indeed only as a last resort. The interns and residents at Boston City Hospital felt totally vindicated by these positive results.]

These kids could gum up the works at their school, and maybe even more than that if they expand the effort.  Increased attention, increased potential.  And yes, this WILL look good on a college application...

ntodd

February 22, 2018 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Kinder, Kirche, und Kuche

Defender of Womanhood, General Kelly:

When I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country.  Women were sacred and looked upon with great honor.

Reminded me of das Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter, and the Rosenstrasse wives' resistance in Berlin:

By the third day SS troops were given orders to train their guns on the crowd but to fire only warning shots. They did so numerous times, scattering the women to nearby alleyways. But the wives always returned and held their ground. They knew the soldiers would never fire directly at them because they were of German blood. Also, arresting or jailing any of the women would have been the rankest hypocrisy: According to Nazi theories, women were intellectually incapable of political action. So women dissenters were the last thing the Nazis wanted to have Germans hear about, and turning them into martyrs would have ruined the Nazis' self-considered image as the protector of motherhood.

Say what you will about Hitler, he never grabbed a mutter by die Muschi.

ntodd

October 21, 2017 in Conscience, Constitution, Schmonstitution, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Self-reflection Is Hard

I know from personal experience.

Also, too, my company has been struggling with Inclusion of Diversity, addressing race in American society, etc.  Any self-reflection is hard.  We white (men) have a lot of work to do.  And we kinda suck at it in general.  But it must be done.

ntodd

September 17, 2017 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

So, Fuck This Guy

No need to worry about white saviour complex with this Ohio supreme court justice.  Prolly would never be caught dead in the Dawg Pound, anyway.

ntodd

August 22, 2017 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (2)

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

No matter my philosophy, I am saddened by this judgement against my friend Des:

On Wednesday, a jury convicted a 61-year-old female activist who had laughed during Sessions’s January confirmation hearing in the Senate. Desiree Fairooz, a longtime protester affiliated with the anti-war group Code Pink, had been escorted out of the room for laughing in response to Senator Richard Shelby’s assertion that Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” history of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” (Sessions had, in fact, been denied a federal judgeship in 1986 because of a history of racially charged remarks, and Shelby himself had once run a campaign ad suggesting that Sessions was a Klan sympathizer.) Fairooz, along with two other protesters, faces up to a year in prison.

Some post-verdict reporting suggests the jury would not have convicted had Des not been loud after the rookie cop tried to remove her for laughing.  Whatever.  We are accustomed to such abuse of power, and calls to not be uppity.

For now, let us remember what another noble person said when testing the bounds of civil resistance:

know that I was playing with fire. I ran the risk, and if I were set free I would still do the same. Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also last article of my creed. I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am sorry for it. Their crime consisted in the love of their country.

I am here to submit not to a light penalty but to the highest Penalty. In my opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good Nonviolence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-co-operation with evil. I am here to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be the inflected upon me for what in law is a deliberated crime and what appears to me be the highest duty of a citizen.

The only cause open to, judge, is either to resign post and thus dissociate yourself from evil if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is evil and that I am innocent or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country and that my activity is therefore injurious to the public weal.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, etc.

ntodd

May 3, 2017 in Conscience, Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, February 24, 2017

We Are Not Afraid Of The word 'Tension'

My company's CEO and President signed an open letter to Lord Dampnuts about his immoral, unconstitutional, and counterproductive Muslim ban:

We believe that immigrants and visitors from these nations should be allowed into the US to help increase the efficacy of the work we do to build peace and prosperity both at home and around the world. Collectively, we employ tens of thousands of people, and we have always found that the most powerful solutions for societal ills only emerge with the intimate involvement of those whom we work to serve. Diversity is the lifeblood of social, economic, and political progress, and policies that impede this value weaken our ability to innovate and implement social change.

We fear that such policies limit opportunity, inclusion, and our nation’s opportunity to engage with the world. We stand with the millions of people around the globe who have joined hands in resistance to efforts to sow fear and create false divisions along the lines of religion, ethnicity, country of origin, gender, or any other degree of difference.

I'm just an infosec guy, but I'm very glad to be working with people who have great courage and vision, especially in these unsettled times.

ntodd

February 24, 2017 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Show And Tell

Jenny Boylan:

I’m so over defending my own humanity. I’m so over providing a power-point presentation about the fact that I exist. And I’m completely done with engaging with anyone who has a clever theory explaining why they actually understand my soul better than I do.

To be blunt: if your crazy-ass theory of the world doesn’t ease the suffering of people whom you do not understand, maybe what you actually need is a new theory.

Look, I’m going to continue all of the work I’ve been doing these last 15 years talking about identity and story and love. I’m going to try to support other people in the community whose work I admire, or find challenging or engaging.

But in creative writing circles we have a saying: Show, Don’t Tell. [ed. note: she drilled that into us in class] In writing, that means that a scene — with dialogue and texture and character — is much more convincing than narration — explaining and lecturing. And it strikes me that this is true of our movement now as well.

To exist is to resist.

ntodd

February 19, 2017 in Conscience, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Monday, January 30, 2017

I will not give up repeating the names of Rama and Rahim, which mean to me the same god.

Back in 1908, Gandhi was released from the first of his many imprisonments in South Africa.  He'd been arrested essentially for refusing to register per the Asiatic Registration Act (only about 500 of 13,000 Indians complied).  His trial on January 10 was quite a circus:

The eastern side of Government Square presented an extraordinary scene of excitement this afternoon. All through the lunch hour there was a big gathering of Indians, and at two o’clock precisely a continuous stream of Indians indicated the approach of the leaders. Mr. Gandhi was the first to appear. It was drizzling, and his ardent admirers sheltered him with umbrellas as he walked along slowly reading the first edition of The Star. The Indians kept pouring on to the Square, and the public entrance to the Court was blocked.

The Magistrate, Mr. Jordan, was seen walking through the crowd, and of course he attracted considerable attention. At ten minutes past two the lock was heard in the door, and the press outside became greater. The doors were flung open and the crowd was met by Captain Potter, Superintendent Vernon, and two police. The officer ordered the entrance to be cleared and considerable confusion followed. The dense mass swayed backward, and when it was possible for egress to be obtained by a few people at a time, people were allowed to pass in.
...
Mr. M. K. Gandhi was first called, and he pleaded guilty to the charge, which was one of disobeying the order of the Court to leave the Colony within 48 hours.

Mr. Fred Klette, clerk in B Court, went into the witness-box and produced the records in the case Rex v. Gandhi heard in that Court on the 28th of December. Defendant was on that occasion ordered to leave the Colony within 48 hours. Witness served a written order personally on the accused.

On being asked by the Magistrate if he had any questions to ask, Mr. Gandhi replied:

No, Sir.

Superintendent Vernon, B Division, said that at 2 p.m. that afternoon he arrested the accused for failing to comply with the order. He had seen the accused repeatedly from the date the order was made until today.

Mr. Gandhi had again no questions to ask.

Mr. Schuurman intimated that this was the case.

Mr. Gandhi asked leave to make a short statement, and, having obtained it, he said he thought there should be a distinction made between his case and those who [sic] were to follow. He had just received a message from Pretoria stating that his compatriots had been tried there and had been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour; and they had been fined a heavy amount, in lieu of payment of which they would receive a further period of three months’ hard labour. If these men had committed an offence, he had committed a greater offence, and he asked the Magistrate to impose upon him the heaviest penalty.

MR. JORDAN: You asked for the heaviest penalty which the law authorizes?

MR. GANDHI: Yes, Sir.

MR. JORDAN: I must say I do not feel inclined to accede to your request of passing the heaviest sentence, which is six months’ hard labour with a fine of £500. That appears to me to be totally out of proportion to the offence which you have committed. The offence practically is contempt of Court in having disobeyed the order of December 28. This is more or less a political offence, and if it had not been for the defiance set to the law I should have thought it my duty to pass the lowest sentence which I am authorized by the Act. Under the circumstances, I think a fair sentence to meet the case would be two months’ imprisonment without hard labour. Mr. Gandhi was then removed in custody

It was around this time that Gandhi's fundamental concept of nonviolent struggle was formed:

The principle called Satyagraha came into being before that name was invented. Indeed when it was born, I myself could not say what it was. In Gujarati also we used the English phrase 'passive resistance' to describe it. When in a meeting of Europeans I found that the term 'passive resistance' was too narrowly construed, that it was supposed to be a weapon of the weak, that it could be characterized by hatred, and that it could finally manifest itself as violence, I had to demur to all these statements and explain the real nature of the Indian movement. It was clear that a new word must be coined by the Indians to designate their struggle.

But I could not for the life of me find out a new name, and therefore offered a nominal prize through Indian Opinion to the reader who made the best suggestion on the subject. As a result Maganlal Gandhi coined the word Sadagraha (Sat=truth, Agraha=firmness) and won the prize. But in order to make it clearer I changed the word to Satyagraha, which has since become current in Gujarati as a designation for the struggle.

General Smuts let Gandhi out of jail after they'd reached a tentative compromise about the legislation, but the struggle continued for many years.  Even throughout their disagreements, Gandhi viewed Smuts through the lens of common humanity (as Howard Thurman always advised decades later):

[F]or much of the rest of the time Gandhi spent in South Africa, Smuts tended to prevaricate on the "Indian Question", continually disappointing Gandhi. It was only in 1914 that Gandhi was able to negotiate a lasting compromise, the Smuts-Gandhi agreement. While not resolving all the issues plaguing South African Indians, it lead to an amelioration of previous laws, passed under the name of The Indian Relief Bill of 1914.

Nevertheless, they never lost respect for one another. As can be seen in the passage below, Gandhi tried, at all times, to look for the positive in Smuts, even according him a "high place among the politicians of British Empire and even of the world". At other times, however, Gandhi could not shake his concerns about Smuts’s duplicity.

By 1914, however, the relationship between Smuts and Gandhi came to something of an end. In an act of supreme generosity, Gandhi presented Smuts with a pair of sandals (which he had learnt to make at Tolstoy Farm), which Smuts was to use late into his life.

Sadly, not everybody got the message, which is why he was killed exactly 40 years after his first release from satyagrahic confinement.  His last words?

A few days after Mahatma Gandhi died, his secretary, Pyarelal, wrote a detailed account of the assassination, including the following: "At the first shot, the foot that was in motion, when he was hit, came down. He still stood on his legs when the second shot rang out, and then collapsed. The last words he uttered were 'Rama Rama'."

A different exclamation, "Hey, Ram!", is normally attributed to him. (An American scholar has suggested that this version is due to Gurbadu Singh.) In the 1960s his niece, Manu, who was near him, recalled his last words as "Hey Ram, Hey Ram." According to one of the conspirators who was in the crowd, he produced only an inarticulate guttural rasp.

At least some of the witnesses seem to have heard what they expected or wanted to hear. The "guttural rasp" version, for example, might well be dismissed as hostile. However, the fact that two of the other three accounts imply that he said more than just "Hey Ram" once - which a devout Hindu might be assumed in principle to say - suggests that this "normal" version is probably also incorrect.

"Rama, Rama" would beautifully express surrender to Rama's will, whereas "Hey Ram, Hey Ram" would more likely express an un-Gandhian sense of helplessness. However, the mere existence of so many contradictions makes it seem likely that he was heard indistinctly. And indeed, he was frail and old and two bullets had just entered his chest.

In this light it may be of interest that nine months earlier, Gandhi in one of his talks after a prayer meeting suggested unequivocally that his very last words, if he were assassinated, would be "Rama, Rahim": "Even if I am killed, I will not give up repeating the names of Rama and Rahim, which mean to me the same God. With these names on my lips, I will die cheerfully."

Thus he was finally released from service to India and nonviolence.

ntodd

January 30, 2017 in Conscience, PaxLives | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

We All Got Coal This Year, But We Can Get Back On The Nice List In '17

RMJ:

How do you "earn" a gift?  Even Santa Claus doesn't really work that way.  Ever know a kid who actually got coal and switches for Christmas?   It is God's gift that we should eat and drink and take pleasure in our toil.  What gain do we have from it, aside from pleasure in doing it?

The year ended has left us wondering what the year ahead could bring; and dreading it.  We assumed the system would take care of us, and it didn't.  But neither did the system turn reality on its head.  A sliver of the population elected Donald Trump, because a larger sliver of the population decided there was no merit to trying, no reason to care, no purpose in turning out.  They decided the system would function with or without them, so why bother?  They thought the system didn't matter; or didn't matter to them; or they didn't matter; or that the system would save them from themselves; when, of course, the system rolls blindly on if no one steps up to guide it.  To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.  Those are words of guidance, not words of reassurance that it will all be fine, and you will be taken care of.  You should find pleasure in your toil; but you still have to toil.

There is a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance; a time to build, a time to pull down, a time to keep, a time to throw away.  But you have to act to keep, or it will be taken away from you. You have to decide to throw away, or you may not be able to discard what burdens you.  Laughter and mourning are activities, not spontaneous and involuntary actions; dancing and building and even tearing down require your involvement; you cannot leave it to others.

Yea, verily, amen.  A less poetic presentation is something I've been flogging for a few years...

ntodd

January 1, 2017 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Where Does My Nose Begin?

What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty.

 - Elbridge Gerry, debating the Second Amendment on 17 August, 1789

Not that I agree with Prohibition, nor total bans on any particular firearms, but John Finch, Chairman of the Prohibition National Committee, does offer some counsel from the 19th century that we might consider:

Unrestrained natural liberty is the enemy of civil liberty. Let me illustrate: It was personal liberty that enabled Guiteau to send the bullet through the back of President Garfield. It is civil liberty which will hang him on the 30th of June. Do you see the difference? It is personal liberty that would let me meet you on the street and knock your brains out with a club; it is civil liberty that would punish me for the crime...

Personal liberty means individual or brute liberty. Civil liberty means the restraint of personal liberty. I have a legal right to fill my mouth with tobacco, and chew, and chew and spit. I do not believe I have the physical and moral right.

I have a right to chew and spit that way, or chew and spit the other way—it is none of your business. You grant that right if I am alone on the prairie. I go into a crowd of men and exercise the right. I chew and spit in one man's facer and chew and spit in another man's ear. I would be knocked down in a minute. As a man hits me on the ear, I exclaim, "Is not this a free country?" "Yes." "Have not I a right to spit?" You would teach me that my right to spit ceased where your right not to be spit upon began.

This arm is my arm and my wife's; it is not yours. Up here I have a right to strike out with it as I please. I go over there with these gentlemen and swing my arm and exercise the natural right which you have granted;. I hit one man on the nose, another under the ear, and as I go down the stairs on my head, I cry out:

"Is not this a free country?"

"Yes, sir."

"Have not I a right to swing my arm?"

"Yes, but your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins."

Here civil government comes in to prevent bloodshed, adjust rights and settle disputes.

Natural rights have inherent limits because they inevitably come into conflict with other natural rights.  Constitutional rights have explicit and implicit limits, even the precious RKBA.  You might claim that you're protecting yourself, but the political process exists for all of of us to protect ourselves.  Trying to find a balance is not infringement: it's the way this shit is supposed to work.

ntodd

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June 22, 2016 in Conscience, Constitution, Schmonstitution, RKBA | Permalink | Comments (0)