Sunday, October 27, 2013

William Lloyd Garrison. Smart Man.

I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.
- William Lloyd Garrison, Abolitionist, 1831

Saturday, October 26, 2013

REPOST:The Tattered Remnant:
Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865)

It has been observed that to be a conservative today is to be an advocate of the germ theory of medicine before Pasteur: which is to say, you're saying an obvious truth while everyone thinks you're crazy for believing that the unseen can cause harm.

There are those who went through this before. This man was one.

(Read all about the Tattered Remnants by clicking {here}.)


Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor who worked in Vienna in the mid 19th Century was a man who literally saved countless lives--by making a science out of something mothers have been saying for thousands of years.

Always wash your hands.

He should be remembered for two reasons: one, as an example of a courageous member of the Remnant, standing against established opinion; secondly, as an example of someone who, though absolutely and utterly right, might have made a bit more impression if he had been just a little more politic in what he had to say.

In 1846, Dr. Semmelweis was the Assistant (a title meaning, roughly, Chief of Surgery) in one of Vienna's finest hospitals. Vienna, then as now, had a small problem with infanticide that nobody really wanted to talk about. Since poor women lacking husbands were essentially rejected by society, the abandonment and death of newborns was a horrific, ongoing problem. Accordingly, those hospitals in place in Vienna opened special clinics that treated poor women who were expecting children. The fees were paid by voluntary contributions through charity and from the rich nobility.

His hospital was so well known, and so well regarded, that they opened not one, but two clinics, to treat the women in labor.

But there was a strange statistical fluke that nobody understood: at the hospital where he worked, for reasons truly unknown, the women of Clinic 1 died of puerperal, or childbed, fever at an astoundingly higher rate than the women in Clinic 2. In Clinic 1, deaths varied between ten to an astounding thirty three percent! from month to month. In Clinic 2, deaths were steadily under 5%.

This became so widely understood on the streets of Vienna that women literally begged not to be assigned to Clinic 1 for their cases.

But how could this possibly be?

The superficial difference between the two clinics was that Clinic 1 was run by medical students and Clinic 2 run by midwives, i.e., former prostitutes who had been retrained in childbirth procedures.

Furthermore, it was known that deaths at home from childbed fever did not come near matching the death rate of Clinic 1.

How was it possible that doctors and medical students were killing their patients through puerperal fever while those treated by women--whores!--were not?

You know the answer of course: dirty hands. He and his students had been working in a dual environment: with women in labor and then also with corpses under dissection. They carried "something" from the corpses to the women (we know of course that the something was germs, but this was some 25 years before Pasteur, so there was no germ theory as yet).

Dr. Semmelweis discovered that, once he had his students wash their hands in what was essentially a primitive form of Chlorox that the death rate dropped to near zero, almost immediately. In April 1847, deaths reached 17%. In July and August, under 5%. In September 1847, 0%.

You'd think that such an astounding advancement in treatment, such a dramatic drop in the deaths of the innocent–particularly as it required almost no expense to implement!--would be news that would be trumpeted from the rooftops and immediately incorporated by doctors worldwide. Semmelweis's name should have taken its place within his lifetime next to Galen, Edward Jenner, and William Harvey.

Such was not the case, at least not while he lived.

To begin with, Dr. Semmelweis, although a determined surgeon and statistical analyst, clearly did not understand the politics of the medical world. At the beginning of his successful discovery, he chose not to publish the results of his discovery immediately, or to notify other doctors through medical journals–the standard procedure, then and now, of publicizing key scientific discoveries, particularly those in the medical world. Word spread–but through word of mouth, not through rigorously challenged peer review. Semmelweis's discovery therefore was imperfectly transmitted, and, being imperfectly transmitted, was not well received.

His treatment required hand washing using a sort of diluted lime solution. However, other doctors, getting the word wrong through word-of-mouth, merely washed with soap and water, leaving infectious agents in place and not significantly improving survivability of the women in their care. His methods therefore were considered suspect even when he finally formally published them.

Again, Wikipedia:

Beginning from 1861 Semmelweis suffered from various nervous complaints. He suffered from severe depression and became excessively absent minded. .... He turned every conversation to the topic of childbed fever. ...After a number of unfavorable foreign reviews of his 1861 book, Semmelweis lashed out against his critics in series of Open Letters. They were addressed to various prominent European obstetricians [and] were full of bitterness, desperation, fury, and were "highly polemical and superlatively offensive"at times denouncing his critics as irresponsible murderers or ignoramuses. ...The attacks undermined his professional credibility.
It also did not help that the violence of his critiques raised suspicions that he was mentally ill. Even today it is thought he may have suffered from some sort of psychosis. Again, Wikipedia:
... It is impossible to appraise the nature of Semmelweis' disorder. It may have been Alzheimer's disease, a form of senile dementia, which is associated with rapid aging. It may have been third stage of syphilis, a then-common disease of obstetricians who examined thousands of women at gratis institutions. Or it may have been emotional exhaustion from overwork and stress.

On July 30[, 1865, an associate, Dr.] Ferdinand von Hebra lured him, under the pretense of visiting one of Hebra's "new Institutes", to a Viennese insane asylum ... Semmelweis surmised what was happening and tried to leave. He was severely beaten by several guards, secured in a straitjacket and confined to a darkened cell. Apart from the straitjacket, treatments at the mental institution included dousing with cold water and administering castor oil, a laxative. He died after two weeks, on August 13, 1865, aged 47, from a gangrenous wound, possibly inflicted by the beating.

The autopsy revealed extensive internal injuries, the cause of death pyemia—blood poisoning.

Ironically, he died of the very disease he had fought so hard to prevent in women.

He was, like Mozart some 75 years earlier, buried in a pauper's grave. His death went unnoted by his professional compatriots–not surprisingly, as some of them had murdered him.

But he was not forgotten. Today, he is remembered with Pasteur, the discoverer of the germ theory of disease and Joseph Lister, the father of antisepsis. He has been honored on postage stamps and his birth home in Budapest is now a national museum.

If ever you have undergone a surgeon's knife or poke, thank this man. He may have saved your life. And the fact that he tried so hard to pound his truths into the head of an unthinking medical world–even if he was mentally ill by the time he began the effort in earnest–shows that, even ill, he was one of the Tattered Remnant.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Guest Blog: The State of the Nation

The following is an essay by a 13 year old youth for his History class. I thought you might find it interesting.....

The United States of America, born from a struggle from a powerful empire, was the most influential nation in the world and continues to attempt to be to this day, founded upon basic principles and rights all people should enjoy. Her idealisms bring immigrants from around the globe to her in flocks, looking for a better life. Yet, deep-rooted problems from within the government so carefully devised by the USA’s founding fathers threaten to undermine the natural rights colonists fought for way back in the 18th century. Such problems are subtle; you will never see them unless you are specifically looking for them. It takes one who scrutinizes the modern situation to see the flaws in the system that politicians exploit regularly and that alienate our natural human rights.

A key point in the Declaration of Independence is that it is the people who are to give the government power. With a population as large as that of the USA’s, however, statistics must be calculated to determine who the people want as representatives. Statistics can be manipulated to support a false conclusion. Gerrymandering is a prime example of this problem.
Gerrymandering is the practice of putting votes together so that votes against a politician are put in large clusters and votes for him are spread out; that way, he has the most groups of votes, or often times groups of groups of votes, and wins the election. Over the course of U.S. history, many times those in power that do not like a particular political party or discriminate against a certain part of the population have covertly cut their say on the law in this manner. Perhaps one does not really have as much say on who is representing his opinions as Americans as one would expect…

  “We hold these truths to be self-evident… that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [to secure the rights of the people], it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. This statement is reflected through the Constitution’s checks and balances; a president may be impeached if two thirds of the House of Representatives and two thirds of the Senate agree. However, a bad president is harder to remove than one would think. One thing the Founding Fathers hadn’t counted on when they wrote the Constitution was politicians around the nation joining political parties large enough to shape U.S. history, faithfully enough that they would put their re-election on the line to support the cause of that party.
Impeaching a president of your own party is just not done, for better or worse. Presidents have gotten away with heinous crimes in the past without getting the boot; the only president to have lost office to his bad nature in history was Richard Nixon, and even he resigned before checks and balances took care of it for him. One can only hope that the United States’ voter base has the common sense to choose its president wisely.
Right now, the USA is weak in its rights today, and poor choices of politicians, representatives, and leaders are largely to blame. With great power comes great responsibility, as any superhero will say. Yet, the most responsibility of all falls on the common United States citizen on voting day. Two of the worst things a person can do for his country are to not vote and to vote carelessly. The only way to make an educated vote is to find out not only campaigns, but histories and implications of candidates as well to make an educated vote. It falls on every man and woman to ensure the security of the rights of us all, and the population, to be frank, isn’t doing a very good job at the moment. The future is in the hands of everyone… will things take a turn for the better?

As you have likely guessed, the youth is my son, Paul.

Smart kid.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Twenty years.

Where has the time gone?

Happy anniversary, angel.

A Wednesday Morning History Reminder

1935: Winston Churchill warns of funny looking guy with moustache. He is ignored.

1936: Winston Churchill warns of funny looking guy with moustache. He is mocked.

1937: Winston Churchill warns of funny looking guy with moustache. He is cursed.

1938: Winston Churchill warns of funny looking guy with moustache. He is shouted down....

1939: Winston Churchill warns of funny looking guy with moustache. He is listened to.

1940: Winston Churchill saves the West.


2016: Ted Cruz elected President of the United States by a grateful nation.

Not by "teakkklukkkers."

By the nation.

All rights to say "Itoljaso" reserved in full.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

From My Email: An Amazing Freudian slip.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Just MOVE?

It's being reported that the USPS has gone to great expense to print, and then destroy, an entire run of stamps intended to encourage young people to exercise.

Mrs. Obama's "Just Move" initiative was memorialized -- temporarily it turns out -- on a run of Forever stamps portraying young children at play.

Turns out they were politically incorrect. The kid on the skateboard wasn't wearing kneepads. The kid jumping in the pool was doing a "cannonball." And the kid standing on her head.... wasn't wearing a helmet!

Think about this. Millions of dollars of stamps destroyed (and Mrs. Obama publicly embarrassed) because *some* people *might* have criticized the stamps for not being sufficiently nannystatish.

I mean, ferChrisssake.... a helmet for a kid standing on her head?

I've never seen the need for such nonsense, much less actually witnessed a child with a helmet standing on her head. 

Of course, they didn't take something else into account... doesn't "JUST MOVE" conjure memories of something that didn't involve standing on heads? (At least to those of us with long memories....)

Monday, October 7, 2013

William Ayers Whines Again

                                           (Source: Wikipedia)

Bill Ayers is complaining that Sarah Palin left him "road kill."

Boo. hoo.
There was no way to prepare for what was about to hit me, of course, and at the outset I could barely glimpse it on the far horizon of my imagination—the great speeding locomotive designed to derail Obama would run me and others down as just some unavoidable debris or collateral damage, the inevitable road kill. No one really knew its shape or its power yet, no one could guess at its velocity. I grasped a couple of small things right away, but my family understood a lot more, and they were in fact already gearing up.
Cry me a river, professor.

The spirits of Diane Oughton, Ted Gold and Terry Robbins await you at the gates of Hell; Police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell, at the gates of Heaven.

Sucks to be you.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Obamaha Beach"

Friday, October 4, 2013

L'Chaim. (If I may use the term.)

I just came home from a lovely (yes) funeral for my cousin ("second niece") Maire Kent. She got as beautiful a sendoff as anyone can ask and truly looked as if she do be but sleeping.

I am reminded now of something a dear friend of mine told me once of a trip she took to the Paris catacombs. After spending several hours looking at the skeletons of millions of dead Parisiens, she emerged again to the light... to find a sign over the exit. It read thus (in French of course):

"You have contemplated death long enough today.

  Now go and contemplate life."

I think I shall. L'chiam, Maire. God be with you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Lincoln Memorial under Obama....

....says it all.