Monday, January 16, 2017

Three Generations No Imbeciles

Three Generations No Imbeciles

Adult nonfiction
"The emergence of feeblemindedness as a topic of public concern
signaled a changing role for physicians, educators, and social workers
who had ministered to the 'less fortunate classes.' The philanthropic
motive dropped in priority, giving way to the need to protect society
from 'the menace of the feebleminded.' This shift was simply a 'matter
of self preservation' needed to protect the country 'from the
encroachments of imbicility, of crime, and of all the fateful
heredities of a highly nervous age.' Feeblemindedness also opened
clear avenues of activity for a professional class of reformers that
could guide government policy in a Progressive direction.'"
Yes, folks, we are back to the Supreme Court miscarriage of
justice we first visited last month when I reviewed Im•be•ciles:
The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie
Buck. When I commended that book to my chum and soul sister, Mazie
Hough, who teaches up to the University, she mentioned that she had
another book, Three Generations No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme
Court, and Buck v. Bell, on the same topic. She was even kind enough
to lend it to me when the only copy I could locate by inter library
loan was unavailable. I found that the two books complimented each
other neatly in the aspects highlighted and the information provided.
The writing of Three Generations No Imbeciles has a fascinating
back story. In 1980 author Paul A. Lombardo was intrigued by a
newspaper story about a lawsuit filed to overturn the 1927 Supreme
Court case of Buck v. Bell. Finding the topic for a possible paper in
it, he rushed to his university's library to find the decision very
easy reading. "...With scandalously little justification, and in an
opinion of less than three pages, the Court approved the power of a
state to erase the parental hopes of its 'unfit' citizens."
Even after the paper was written Lombardo, quite fortunately for
us, couldn't "let go of the story." The case became the topic of his
thesis and followed him to law school. He even talked to Carrie Buck
before she died. Digging into primary sources, he became more and
more outraged, speaking and writing for decades on this judgement.
The shock and surprise his listeners showed led him to believe that,
rather than merely being mentioned in textbooks, it deserved a
comprehensive book of its own.
For much of the background information common to both books you
can read my review dated December 21, 2016 in this blog. What I found
most intriguing in Lombardo's work was the two arguments he considered
the theme throughout the entire narrative: sex and economics. These
themes continue to dominate much of today's rhetoric and attempted or
succesful legislation.
Then it was argued that ending procreation by Practitioners of
"problematic" behaviors such as incest, homosexuality, and
prostitution would lead to a world in which medical science cleansed
society. In the twenty-first century sentiments and activism on the
part of fundamentalists and their allies stalled the legalization of
gay marriage quite awhile.
It is quite easy to see the second theme, economics, in both the
past and present. Institutions like hospitals and prisons as well as
direct welfare payments are supported by tax money. "...The focus on
the economic rationale for surgery was commonplace, and in the same
year that the new [Oklahoma] law went into effect, a University of
Oklahoma scientist gave a speech entitled 'Democracy and the Genes' He
insisted that the 'desirable members of society are being ever more
heavily taxed to care for the undesirables,' leading to lower
birthrates among 'healthy, substantial' citizens. Fiscal stringency
was popular, and before long, a proposal to require sterilization as a
condition of receiving any kind of relief payment was on the
legislative agenda." I do believe these same motives lay behind Bill
Clinton's ending welfare as we know it.
In turn I find more disturbing themes running through Lombardo's
work that are still alive and well today. One is a shift from
philanthropy to protecting the rest of the society from, with its
implication that the "productive" should not be burdened with
providing for the "parasites." (Think welfare reform). In the service
of this the role of environment in shaping and limiting the prospects
of recipients is totally overlooked and misinformation is called into
play.
A very current (as in January 14) Maine example has been
unearthed by investigative reporter Matthew Stone of the Bangor Daily
News. Mary Mayhew, Health and Human Services Commissioner, has caused
Maine to forfeit $1.4 million in federal money by her insistance on
requiring photo identification on WIC (Special Supplemental Program
for Women, Infants and Children) benefit cards. This is despite lack
of evidence of the fraud that it is supposed to combat and the
probability that it could discourage participation. This alteration
would also greatly add on to administrative costs. It seems that in
Mayhew's mind making sure that no one milks the system is more crucial
than supporting a very effective and much needed program.
The book also alludes to the tendency of those with power to
constantly remind the populace of the wrong doings of the poor while
sweeping the far more costly machinations of the wealthy and their
corporations under the rug. Maybe that's why we are reminded often of
few welare recipients selling benefit cards or dumping water to get
bottle desposits to buy smokes and never of WalMart paying their
workers so little that they qualify for Medicaid and SNAP (formerly
food stamps) and even teaching them how to apply for them.
Which do you think is the most costly?
I would recommend both books to all who consider cruelty and
negligence to the have nots by the haves morally indefensible...like
that Rev. Martin Luther King junior whose legacy we are celebrating
today.
On a personal note, I very much enjoyed having my younger daughter,
Katie, home for the weekend. It was special having her sleep over and
spending time together. Joey was overjoyed to see his chum. Katie
and I, big time bargain hunters, went to both Orono Thrift Shop and
the Bangor Goidwill. We found ourselves a lot of good deals including
my gifts for Eugene who has his birthday coming up tomorrow. I now
have some books Katie recommended which I will enjoy reading and a
cute little journal that will bring up precious memories whenever I
write in or read it.
I've got a lot of shout outs going out today:
Mr. Paul Lombardo for letting his convictions impel him to write this
very important book;
My most excellent chum Mazie who hopefully had a good birthday (here's
looking at you, Kid);
Matthew Stone, investigator extrodinaire, who has the ability to make
us care about how policy effects our lives, and his wife, Erin Rhoda,
a journalist of substance in her own right.
All who are participating in MLK programs and doing our best to follow
in the great man's footsteps;
And, last, but not least, my three children who are doing amazingly
well despite inheriting my degenerate and debased (epileptic) germ
plasm.
jules hathaway


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dusk To Dawn

Dusk To Dawn

Adult nonfiction
As many books as I've read about the Titanic, you'd think I'd
have had my fill by now. Wrong! When I got a chance to acquire Paul
J. Quinn's Dusk To Dawn: Survivor Accounts Of The Last Night On The
Titanic (a $29.95 book for about a dime) at the library book sale I
pounced on it like Joey cat on a new nip toy.
Quinn takes a novel and fast paced you-are-there format. The
ill fated night is broken into hour long segments. The text is
composed almost entirely by quotes by survivors with just the right
amount of expositary filler. You're everywhere from the posh first
class accomodations to the boiler room and steerage and the crow's
nest and finally the life boats.
At first people were contented with the total poshness of their
experience.
"Mrs. Douglas: 'The boat was so luxurious, so steady, so immense, and
such a marvel of mechanism that one could not believe he was on a
boat--and there the danger lay. We had smooth seas, clear, starlit
nights, fresh favoring winds. Nothing to mar our pleasure.'"
For a long stretch of time, even after the doomed ship hit the
iceberg, danger was downplayed, actions described by officers and crew
as cautions.
"Crowe: 'I got out of my bed. On E deck. I came out into the
alleyway and saw quite a number of stewards and steerage passengers
carrying their baggage from forward to aft. I inquired of the trouble
and was told it was nothing and to turn in again. The stewards were
making quite a joke of it...'"
It was this calming and minimizing on the part of those
considered experts, those whom the passengers took their cues from,
that played into so many life boats not getting filled to capacity.
Not knowing the true source of danger, many passengers chose to stay
on the large liner rather than taking chances with the comparitively
small and feeble looking boats.
Then the action speeds up. If this was fiction at this point
the novel would be impossible to put down. Even I found myself having
to step back mentally, breath in deeply, and remind myself that the
ending does not change.
My bias toward Titanic related literature may influence me
toward favoring Dusk To Dawn as a reading choice. Be that as it may.
It's a suspenseful narrative. It's real history. And there's a moral
to the story: when men get too confident and sure they can't possibly
fail BAD THINGS HAPPEN.
On a personal note, Orono Public Library had a really swell program on
the history of Orono fire fighting. It was very well organized and
informative. I especially enjoyed the pictures of old time vehicles,
equipment, and uniforms.
A great big shout out goes out to my son and all the other men and
women in this challenging profession--those whom our lives and homes
may someday depend on.
jules hathaway


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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ethical Communication

Ethical Communication

Adult nonfiction
"To write about Jesus is to invite critique. Those who believe
he is the Son of God will take issue with the recitation of cold
facts, as if he were simply someone who lived long ago and whose
teachings remain influential even to this day. To those who believe
that he was simply someone who lived long ago and whose teachings
remain influential to this day, any nod toward his life as salvific or
his death as a sacrificial necessity will raise eyebrows if not
hackles."
We've just gone through a presidential election where press
coverage was basically all sound and fury signifying nothing--heavy on
rumors and ratings, tiptoing around policy and anything else useful.
Now we're back to the more everyday journalistic malpractice. If it
bleeds, it leads not only keeps us in a state of fear (so not good for
our health), but makes relatively minor dangers (terrorism) into major
perils we most focus on and give up our freedom for--all the better to
keep the stuff we should be afraid of (polluted air and water) outta
sight, outta mind. A lot of space is wasted on crap like what celeb
is in rehab. The dismal cherry on the putrid sundae is the rapid
consolidation of news sources into the hands of the wealthy.
Do you find yourself wondering if journalism and ethics have
even a passing acquaintanceship? Do you believe the latter should
strongly influence the former? Do you still have hope that this can
happen? If you can say yes to all three questions you will probably
find Ethical Communication: Moral Stances in Human Dialogue, edited
by Clifford G. Christians and John C. Merrill, to be quite a thought
provoking read.
Twenty leading philosophers across a wide historic span
(including some who might not have considered themselves to be
philosophers) are grouped into five major schools of thought based on
their priorities. Loyalty to others motivates those who take the
altruistic stance. Those who take the egoistic stance put número uno
first and foremost. Those who take the autonomy stance place a lot of
stock in freedom, especially when it is necessary to oppose
dictators. Legalists are big backers of law, order, and authority.
Communitarians (my people) put community first.
Although the essays are written by different authors, they
follow a similar format: biographical information, major issues and
ideas, and applicabili to journalism.
Lutheran minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer is considered one of those
who took the autonomy stance. He came into a world in which it was
dangerous to be a philosopher or think for oneself in general:
Hitler's Germany. He protested against Hitler (whom he considered
evil) and the Nazi regime until he was silenced by being executed. He
portrays for journalists the necessity of courage in the face of a
world where good does not always win out.
Not all the writers are enamoured of their subjects, some taking
them as cautionary tales rather than exemplars. Pity the poor guy who
drew Machievelli.
I think Ethical Communication is a great text for journalistic
ethics classes and a good time investment for students and
practitioners in the field as well as laypeople with a good grounding
in the liberal arts.
On a personal note, after church on Sunday I went to a wonderful art
show at Wilson Center. The paintings were beautiful with a Hispanic/
Native American sensibility. One of a butterfly emerged from a
coccoon and ready to fly reminded me of me. The artist was there for
people to talk to. There were refreshments including chocolates and
sparkling cider. It was delightfully posh but not the least bit stuffy.
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated in that
magnificent event.
jules hathaway


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Pocket Change

Pocket Change

Picture book
"Over the years, I've lived in small places where stores offered
very few options. When I ran out of shampoo in Peru, for example, I
bought the only kind sold in the village shop. When I returned to
Canada, I felt completely overwhelmed the moment I walked into a
store. So many things to choose from. And so few I really needed..."
Not long ago a song informed us "I'm living in a material world
and I am a material girl." Our kids are bombarded by the message that
this is not only a necessary, but admirable state of affairs, even as
we gobble up resources, some nonrenewable, widen the gap between rich
and poor, drive species into extinction, and change the climate. Only
with the right brands and constantly changing styles of clothes, the
must have acoutrements, and, of course, the most technically advanced
smart phones can they be happy, well liked, and successful. How do we
counter those pervasive messages?
Michelle Mulder's Pocket Change: Pitching In For A Better World
is a very valuable resource for curbing the materialism today's
society works overtime to instill in our children and us. Mulder has
the courage to ask questions many consider heresy:
*Do we need so many varieties?
*Do we need so much stuff?
*What would our world look like if we spent a lot less and valued
people and community more than things?
Her message is upbeat, her book an invitation to take a voyage of
discovery.
"Lately, I've been reading about creative ways that people can
meet their needs without buying much at all. It's all about
community...And strong communities aren't just fun to live in.
They're good for the environment and can reduce poverty too. How?
Grab a friend and a snack to share, come along and find out!"
Pocket Change, however, is not just a book to read and set
aside. It is full of inspiring projects youngsters, families,
religious organizations, and other groups can tackle such as:
*library based repairs cafes where people with expertise can help
others mend and fix still useful belongings;
*Habitat For Humanity summer programs;
*Community gardens and gleaning;
*Libraries for stuff like tools and toys;
*Bartering
and *Freecycling.
So whatcha waiting on? Whether or not you have children,
there's so much we all can do to make this less of a material world.
Maybe you can start by making sure your public library acquires Pocket
Change and displays it prominently.
On a personal note, my carry along cross stitch project is rather
ambitious. I have a book of patterns for 83 miniature pieces with
inspirational sayings. I'm going straight through from 1 to 83. They
will be perfect for my grad assistant office in the fall if I get
accepted to grad school. Right now I'm stitching a picture of three
birds that says, "Friebdship is the essence of a happy life."
A great big shout out goes out to my grad school friends who I hope to
be joining in September.
jules hathaway





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Jazz Day

Jazz Day

Picture book
Jazz and Harlem. Peanut butter and jelly. Raggedy Anne and
Andy. Some pairs go together so well it's hard to imagine one without
the other.
Back in '58 jazz buff Art Kane had an idea. How about doing a
photograph of as many jazz musicians as possible in front of a Harlem
brownstone? With an American jazz issue in the works, Esquire
magazine was the journalistic big fish that took the bait. Kane
located the right building, arranged with the police to have the
street blocked off, borrowed cameras, put the word out on the street,
and waited.
No telling who, if anyone, would show up. Jazz musicians
traveled a lot. Many worked late nights and slept well into the
morning.
Roxane Orgil's Jazz Day: The Making Of A Famous Photograph
captures this piece of history beautifully in free verse that can't be
read aloud without a jazz beat. Readers get to see famous musicians
up close and personal. But they aren't the only ones in the hood on
that momentous day. There are the dozen little boys sitting on the
stoop, watching and finding a way to participate in the event.
Jazz Day is a great read aloud for the bitter cold days we'll
get in the part of Maine where I review books in the weeks and months
ahead or grey, rainy days for those of you in more temperate climates.
On a personal note, Sunday there were only six of us in Universal
Fellowship choir. But we totally owned the anthem: Do You See What I
See?
A great big shout out goes out to both my choir families.
jules hathaway


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Growing Peace

Growing Peace

Picture book
If you're like me you probably need or want at least one cup of
coffee when you get up. If you're like me you probably know little
about the source of your preferred morning beverage. Finally, if
you're like me you will find Richard Sobol's Growing Peace: A Story Of
Farming, Music, And Religious Harmony absolutely fascinating. In my
mind it's a must read/listen to for folks from 5 to 105 who haven't
given up on making a difference in our world.
In 2001 Ugandan J. J. Keki journeyed to America to teach music
at a children's summer camp. After the camp season his travels led
him to New York where he saw a plane hit the World Trade Center. The
experience left him questioning how to defeat religious prejudice by
bringing people together.
J. J., the father of a large family, noticed how well
neighborhood children played together. Religious differences did not
get in the way of their friendships. Their parents grew coffee
beans. What about a cooperative for growing and selling their coffee
that could increase their income and set an example of hope for the
world.
You gotta read the book to see how that went down. The
photographs that accompany the text are vivid and full of life.
In today's world where the rich and their gubmint bedfellows
keep the rest of us divided and squabbling along faultlines like
religion, race, native/immigrant, deserving/undeserving poor we need a
lot more solidarity builders like J. J. Could you be one of them?
On a personal note, I noticed I was only doing small, relatively easy
counted cross stitch pieces. Some time ago I'd started and put aside
a beautiful piece with a dragonfly and flowers that looks like stained
glass. I couldn't imagine carrying such a complex piece around. Then
I decided to work on carry and at home pieces simultaneously. The
chair in the studio is now my crafting chair. The shelf under Joey's
patio is perfect for my materials. It is the hardest piece I have
ever tried and very slow going. But I plan to stick with it.
A great big shout out goes out to fellow crafters including my very
talented daughter, Amber. If you're looking for fun winter boredom
busters check out her blog: http://amberscraftaweek.blogspot.com
You'll be glad you did!
jules hathaway


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Breaking Clean

Breaking Clean

Adult nonfiction
"The main schoolroom held it all--students, teacher and eight
grades' worth of books, materials, and supplies. Bookcases and
shelves lined the walls below the windows and rose to the ceiling in
places, every inch of space crammed with books, paper, flash cards and
art material...We used the flattop heating stove as a storage table
until it had to be lit in October. Standard-issue portraits of George
Washington and Abe Lincoln glowered down upon us, and before Health
Inspection every morning, we stood beside our desks and pledged
allegiance to a flag propped in a corner behind Teacher's desk."
Many of the books I review are ones I seek out carefully, titles
gleaned from lists or bibliographies or discovered in topic searches.
Others fall into my hands by sheer serindipity. Judy Blunt's Breaking
Clean falls into the latter category. I picked it up at the Friends
of the Orono Public Library book sale. It looked good. Boy, was it
ever. It led me into a world I'd never before imagined existing
during the very years I was growing up.
Does the above quoted paragraph bear any resemblance to the
school(s) you attended or sent your children to?
Although I was a contemporary of Blunt, the daily pledging of
allegiance and learning under the glowering portraits of Washington
and Lincoln were the only commonalities I could discover. In my
primary school we had individual rooms for different grades, a central
heating system with noisy, clanking radiators, indoor plumbing, a gym,
a cafeteria, and a universally feared principal to ride herd on the
student body and teachers. But then again a bustling Massachusetts
seaside city was worlds away from frontier farming isolation.
An episode from the book's second chapter neatly sets the stage
for the narrative. Blunt's parents had made arrangements to move to
their own ranch. An interim abode had to make do until the previous
owner could harvest his crops and vacate. Her pregnant mother was
carrying poultry into their temporary chicken house when she ran into
an obstacle in the form of a large and lethal rattlesnake. She yelled
for her husband to come decapitate it with a spade. Both knowing the
protocol would indicate this was not an uncommon occurrance.
Blunt grew up in a sparsely populated area where livelihoods
were very uncertain and nature was unforgiving. Work was a constant
for all but the very youngest family members. That, however, did not
guarantee survival.
"...Always we waited for the next year, hope whispered on the east
wind, snatched away by the west, trusting as blood turned to dust that
the rains would come. And they did. Sometimes too late, when the
wheat stood like straw, other times in a wide swath that buried crops
in a mire of roots and mud. But always they came, just enough to stir
the imagination of more."
Because her local school only went through grade eight, Blunt
and her peers faced in their early teens a challenge today's students
typically contend with years later: leaving home. High school
students had to live in a larger town--either baching (renting a place
together) or boarding (paying for room and board in a home.) This
surely constituted culture shock. And, for Blunt, it happened when
she was coping with self image, dating, and rebelling against the
patriarchal nature of the world in which she grew up and to which she
was expected to return. It was a world in which, although, for a
family to survive, it was essential for wives to be every bit as
strong, stoic, and competent as their spouses, men held all property
and power and intended things to stay that way.
Breaking Clean is an excellent read for women's studies
scholars, illuminating a time and place that is relatively neglected.
It is also a darn good narrative. I highly recommend it.
On a personal note, sadly we've had to take the Christmas tree down.
Every year Joey cat and I get so much joy from it! Luckily I have an
artificial tree in my for my very favorite ornaments and a miniature
tree with tiny little ornaments to keep the spirit of Christmas alive
in my heart all year long.
A great big shout out goes out to all others who keep the Christmas
spirit burning in their hearts and lives.
jules hathaway




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