Archive for June, 2013

The Fate Of Flies

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

“The Fate of Flies”

Archimedes squats contemplating
Circles and cylinders, a guttural voice interrupts
Demanding compensation for grasping
Claw and scorpions bite in mangled barbaric intonation; a
Buzzing heavily laden fly
Lazily drifts on heat waves from bronzed helm to
Hoary head interrupting the proceedings

The “Sword of Rome”
Desires a performing monkey;
Shouts and cries of pleading
Citizens muffled by the buzzing,
Archimedes swirls fingers in dust, contemplates this
Sweaty farmer whose
Leader’s fame, murderous greed
For a shiny suit of Gallic armor, has
Sent this goat boy for a bit of Greek plunder

Civic duty demands a Leonidas, fair Syracuse,
Gem of Dorian grace, sacrificed in Artemis’s
Hour, her virgins splayed and sullied.
Archimedes cries out only
Moments before
“Destroy the papers lad…,”
Considering the option, teaching
Geometry to donkeys, wolves, worse men

And in a flaming effervescence
Poor science tossed, the
Vestibule empties
Mere reddened
Circles wetting fly embellished

By Gary Crethers
Long Beach

Lazy Cat

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Stretching filament of
Sun brokered space
Atop piled papers
Claws flex

By Gary Crethers
Long Beach

Kidney Failure And Disaster Preparedness

Friday, June 28th, 2013

A paper I wrote a couple of years ago in Kidney Failure and Disasters.

Disability and Disasters: The Case of Katrina, Kidney Failure and Disaster Preparation
By Gary Crethers

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast in 2005 not only were the preparations inadequate but the community of persons with kidney failure had to scramble to find places to go to get their dialysis. Some 148 persons died who had kidney failure and 92 dialysis clinics closed down. In Louisiana alone 26 of 43 dialysis facilities were closed a month after the hurricane had passed (Kenney). “The lack of organization and miscommunication following Katrina prompted providers at all levels to ask just how prepared dialysis facilities are for future catastrophes,” says Dr. Kenney. “Working with the large dialysis organizations and the ESRD Networks, CSC located and tracked some 95 percent of the displaced patients within six weeks” (CSC). This is not a very good track record. End Stage Renal Disease or ESRD patients need to have treatment at least 3 times a week. If they miss more than a couple of treatments there can be serious to deadly health effects.
“Immediately after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the survival of more than 5,800 Gulf Coast kidney dialysis patients was threatened as the storm forced closure of 94 dialysis units. Within a month 148 of these patients had died” ( A recent study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, indicates that only about half of Kidney patients are ready for a disaster with at least a 3 day supply of water, food, medicine and supplies such as a battery powered Am/Fm Radio, flashlight, propane portable stove, medical records ready, and knew where to go for alternative treatment if their normal facility is out of service (
Hospitals turned away patients after Katrina. “Many arrived at our emergency room doors but due to scarce resources, were turned away if they didn’t meet established screening criteria. Ironically, the summer heat may have reduced admissions, thanks to the excessive sweating it induced. Although diminished in patients with kidney disease, sweat glands will excrete at least a marginally effective amount of excess water, urea, ammonia, and electrolytes” (Ellis qtd.Yosipovitch et at, 1994).
Historically the emergency response to disasters related to kidney disease came after the 1988 Armenian earthquake. At that time there was no international emergency network and many people died due to inadequate dialysis and unprepared emergency personnel. A “Renal Disaster Relief Task Force” was created in 1989 by the “International Society of Nephrology”. This was divided into three sections, one, the Americas, two, Southeast Asia, and three, Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa. They have been active in disasters since and provided consultation for Katrina (Kenney).
The CMS or Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, held a summit in January 2006 attended by over 100 providers to deal with situations like Katrina. The group formed became known as the KCERC or Kidney Community Emergency Response Coalition. Eight action groups were created and were in place by the 2006 hurricane season. The added a group to deal with pandemics at their 2007 conference (Kenney).
The CDC or Center for Disease Control has a natural disaster recovery fact sheet for patients with peritoneal dialysis. That is the type of dialysis that is performed by placing a sterile solution into the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen via a catheter that has been surgically implanted and flushing it daily either through a machine known as the cycler or manually with a gravity feed tube. The CDC recommends keeping the exit site (the place where the catheter emerges from the body), clean and dry. They recommend vinegar and water solution if it gets red or sore (CDC). They have no suggestions if the peritoneal cavity becomes infected which can happen from exposure to water that has not been sterilized, dust in the air, germs from other persons, dander from cats and dogs, and germs on the hands or dialysis devices. This is a problem as in an earthquake or other disaster there may be no access to sterile water or a means of sterilizing the water. The assumption is that the patient has on hand a supply of dialysis solution, and the equipment to apply it. This may not be the case.
A patient normally gets a supply of peritoneal solution once a month. This should last for a month with a couple of days overlap. The patient takes this liquid in plastic containers, attaches it with supplied sterile tubing to a machine called the cycler and spends 8-10 hours hooked up to this machine at night. The machine requires electricity and would not work in a disaster where the power was lost. The next option is to manually flush the peritoneal cavity with a gravity feed system. Patients normally have a supply on hand that will last several days. This has to be done once every 4-5 hours, approximately 4 times a day. If the patient is out of supplies then he or she has approximately 3 days in which to get access to a facility with supplies or that person will start to suffer toxic effects and could die.
There are clinics in most communities that perform hemodialysis. This is dialysis in which the blood is cleaned by a large machine that looks like the robot from the old TV series Lost In Space. The machine is hooked up to the body through a catheter called a fistula that is attached permanently to the veins normally in the arm. Persons on this type of dialysis go to a facility 3 times a week for 4 hours approximately where their blood is cleaned. This demands sterile water and power. During the Katrina hurricane 92 facilities were closed down and there was serious problem for those that were open, communicating with patients and doctors who could provide information about the particular needs when patients went to emergency clinics (Kenney). Apparently from the U. of North Carolina report, there are serious lapses in preparedness on the part of patients and this patient can state categorically that the facilities that trained him for dialysis had little or no training for emergency preparedness, and he lives in earthquake country. There is a serious need for emergency preparation especially in light of the disaster in Japan.
According to a WHO situation report of March 28, 2011, the Japanese are having trouble providing dialysis in the area affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor failure. This is two weeks after the event. Dialysis patients are dead because of a lack of care. Imagine this scenario in southern California. If there was an 8.0 quake, something the nuclear power plant in San Onofre is not prepared for, and there is a subsequent tsunami, striking North San Diego County, Orange County and South Los Angeles County, the result could be as catastrophic as in Japan.
One suggestion would be locating dialysis supply centers within walking distance, in every community. This could be a larger scale community center with supplies for all types of an emergency. It would be a major commitment but in a region as vulnerable as Southern California, setting up emergency supply locations, similar to fire stations but unmanned except in emergencies, and then with volunteers trained in first aid, and other emergency services assigned to each depot, would go a long way to solving the potential health emergency. The problems are real and if lifesaving is important in our culture then it is important that health services in a disaster be seen as something that needs to be planned for.
Lives are at stake and if people with serious chronic medical conditions, like kidney failure are to survive serious disasters, such as Katrina, where there was advance notice, or an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster as just occurred in Japan, there must be serious planning down to the neighborhood level. It is not enough to simply tell people to stock up on supplies. Often supplies are only available at medical facilities, or at best the nearest fire station. Much more detailed and specific preparations need to be made and for the average citizen to take this seriously, there should be neighborhood disaster preparedness meetings, at least once a year. With a disaster warden, like an air raid warden assigned to each block.
What is required is something like what the Cubans do when preparing for a hurricane. This is from a report in MEDICC REVIEW:
Cuba’s evacuation procedures prioritize vulnerable populations, from pregnant women and the elderly to residents in low-lying villages; and importantly, transportation is provided for all those evacuated. During Wilma for instance, the entire seaside community of Playa Rosario on the southern coast of Havana Province had to be moved to safer ground, so scores of buses were brought in to evacuate the townspeople. Once the storm had blown through, only three of 113 homes were left standing, but no injuries or loss of life were reported (Gorry 7).

Below is a list of preparedness suggestions based on the example of Cuba, again from MEDICC Review quoting from an Oxfam report “Cuba Weathering the Storm Lessons in Risk Reduction from Cuba.”
The Cuban example, “ raises the distinct possibility that life-line structures (concrete, practical measures to save lives) might ultimately depend more on the intangibles of relationship, training, and education than on high cost procedures and resources, a possibility that holds great hope for other poor countries facing high risks of disaster.” Towards this end, the report outlines 12 factors called the “golden dozen” that Cuba manages successfully in it’s risk management program:
• social cohesion and solidarity (self-help and citizen-based social protection at the neighborhood level)
• trust between authorities and civil society
• political commitment to risk reduction
• good coordination, information-sharing, and cooperation among institutions involved in risk reduction
• attention to the most vulnerable population
• attention to lifeline structures (concrete procedures to save lives, evacuation plans, and so on)
• investment in human development
• an effective risk communication system and institutionalized historical memory of disasters, laws, regulations, and directives to support all of the above
• investments in economic development that explicitly take potential consequences for risk reduction or increase into account
• investment in social capital
• investment in institutional capital (e.g. capable, accountable, and transparent government institutions for mitigating disasters) ( MEDCC 46).

In conclusion, if we are to save lives the social response has to be complete and serious. Certainly we should learn from Katrina and Japan and create adequate disaster programs. Lives are at stake. It is a question of values. If we value humanity as we claim, then we should establish institutions that support that claim, as the Cubans have done so remarkably with their much more limited resources. It seems strange that the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States, had such a pathetic response to Katrina and has in place such a threadbare emergency infrastructure. But this is symptomatic of a nation that spends more on military resources than almost the rest of the nations of the world combined. No wonder there are few resources available for emergencies and people with chronic illnesses are left to die, or fend for themselves as happened after Katrina. If we truly are in a time of limited resources, and that is a debatable point, then it is even more critical to be spending the resources available on human services and not on wasteful wars.
There is no reason why the United States of America, the richest country in the world cannot have a first class public health and emergency disaster preparedness system. What is lacking is the political will, but when disasters strike and people are dying, then the hands start wringing but even though action has been taken as I have indicated. It is not enough. The social willingness to talk to your neighbor and plan must be reintegrated into the fabric of daily life in America. Disasters often bring out the best in people, we should seek means to bring out the best before a disaster occurs. To co-opt a phrase, yes we can.
“DISASTER RECOVERY FACT SHEET Infection Control for Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) Patients After a Disaster.” CDC. (September 10, 2005). n. pag. Web. 27 March 2011.
Ellis, Kathy, J. “Article: Disaster readiness: lessons from Katrina (Clinical Consult)” Highbeam Research. Nephrology Nursing Journal. (January 1, 2007). n.pag. Web. 27 March 2011.
“ESRD Program: Continuity of Care for Dialysis Patients in the Aftermath of Katrina” CSC. (March 27, 2011). n. pag. Web. 27 March 2011.
Gorry, Conner. “Hurricane Wilma: Living To Tell The Tale.” MEDICC Review Health and Medical News of Cuba MEDICC Presents… In the Eye of the Storm: Disaster Management Lessons from Cuba (2005). 6-8. Web. 4 April, 2011.
Kenney, Robert, J. “Emergency Preparedness Concepts for Dialysis Facilities: Reawakened after Hurricane Katrina.” CJASN Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. (2007) 809-813. Web. 27 March 2011.
“Study: Most kidney dialysis patients not prepared for emergency evacuation.” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (June 3, 2010).n. pag. Web. March 27, 2011.
“Weathering the Storm: Lessons in Risk Reduction from Cuba.” MEDCC Review. (2005). 46.
Web. 4 April, 2011.
World Health Organization Western Pacific Region. “WHO SITREP NO 19 Japan Earthquake &
Tsunami Situation Report No. 19 28 March 2011.” (March 28, 2011). n. pag. Web. 28 March

Moby Djinn, Sleep Paralysis, Shadow People, Horse Prophecy, And Cartoon People

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

It is taking me forever to get through Moby Dick, not because it is overly long, but because I am constantly stopping to look something up, and then following the links of my curiosity. Yesterday it was the harpooner “Tashtego, an unmixed Indian from Gay Head” (Melville 127). I wanted to know if there still was an Indian community on Martha’s Vineyard, and there is, the Wampanoag tribe, once a major tribe of southern New England and the tribe that helped the pilgrims, they were very much part of the early history of Massachusetts and Rhode Island in particular. I read about them and then about the coastal islands, including Block Island and then I linked to the battle of Judith Point, in which the last German U-Boat was sunk in American waters on May 6th, 1945. Pretty far from Melville.

Tribal site

This Wikipedia article is quite good.

Today I was reading about Stubb’s run in with Captain Ahab. He says in his monologue the phrase “Tic-Dolly-row” (136). I found this to be curious so I looked it up but the on line definition was pretty inadequate. “Tic-Dolly-row - that which disturbs the mind and feelings” from Purcell as recorded on the blog site “Classic Case of Madness.”

I wanted to look up the Oxford Dictionary definition but to access for free I would have to go to my library web site and it is closed still for the holiday. Tomorrow school starts and I assume that is when I will be able to access again.

Then I went to look up Stubb talking to Fisk about his dream and he says “Slid! man, but I was frightened. Such a Phiz!” (138). Now this was interesting, Phiz is a face, or visage as defined. But I wanted to know why Melville would use this and I decided to check around and found an interesting article about the illustrators for Dickens. This was a Mr. Browne. The quote below tells a bit of the story:

“Browne was, in other words, a nonentity replacing a widely known and popular artist, and he took at first the pseudonym “N.E.M.O.” — “no one” — suggesting a self-effacing hack laboring away for others. (When Dickens sixteen years later gave such a nom de plume to a character who very much fits this description, he may have been having a little joke at Browne’s expense.) N.E.M.O. became Phiz — a more appropriate companion for Boz, as well as a logical title for one who did “phizzes” — with the third plate he did for Pickwick. Browne’s first six etchings for Pickwick are as overall designs perhaps already superior to Seymour’s efforts, but as Harvey has pointed out, Browne has trouble with the poses of his figures (Harvey, pp. 106-109.), and equal trouble, I think, creating adequately distinct faces; in this respect the schoolmistress in the sixth plate of this series is as wanting as Sam Weller in the second” (Michael Steig, n.p.).

Thus I conclude that Melville, being a writer of his times and very aware of Dickens, and often critical of Dickens, may have been having a bit of fun, as Stubbs is talking about a “badger haired old merman, with a hump on his back” (138). This merman appears to grab him and “slews me around” (138), while he had been kicking at Ahab who had turned into a pyramid. My jump is that Phiz, a face in a dream, is also a Phiz as in a drawing by Browne and perhaps one with a not very well done face, as in a dream. A slight upon the whole Dickensian publishing enterprise perhaps. Just my guess.

Melville, Herman. Moby Dick or The Whale. Norwalk, CT. Easton Press. 1977. Print.

Shadow People

Anyway some how in the process I came on a reference to Shadow People and thought to myself, I wonder if this is a phenomena that people actually write about.

First I watched some sensational stuff on youtube, that went all over the place, like some lady who was into the Djinn. and then listened to an Art Bell interview with some occultists, like Brad Steiger, a real mixed bag with spooky sound track and all that, but it was kind of interesting. I thought of my own experience with the poltergeist and then looked up Sleep Paralysis which seems to be the closest thing to scientific analysis of the subject. I found this series of interviews with David J Hufford, who seems to be a bit more academically inclined and is interviewed sans the special effects.

Dramatic sensationalist approach to shadow people and other phenomena, with a smorgasbord of sources.

The talk of Djinn is interesting because they are considered to be the third race in the Koran along with Humans and Angels. These are supposed to be the same as Succubi and Incubus in European mythology.

Art Bell show, this is not quite as dramatic as the previous video, he interviews a semi-native American shaman, he sounds like a good old boy from Texas. His name is Thunder Strikes, and he was a marine for twenty years. I miss the old Art Bell show. A friend of mine used to record them and send copies to me, back in the 90’s. I never really took it seriously, but every once in a while I find it interesting enough to take a listen. So starting August 17, 2012, the calendar’s ended and we entered into the period of being autonomous human beings, according to this interview. Lots of stuff, like crystal skulls mentioned here, remember the “Legend of the Crystal Skulls”? I love the way these guys flippantly toss off all this so called occult wisdom like it was just common knowledge, its a common trick of the spiritual trade. Draw the suckers er believers in by making the esoteric seem as if they were reasonable propositions, but still exotic, as if this hidden knowledge had actual answers to every day problems, and ultimate truths to explain the meaning of life.

This is a link to the Deer Tribe.

This is a link to the description of the Rainbow Bridge Prophecy. This is the story of the 8 horse race, interestingly on a race horse blog.

Archeological explanation for the crystal skull legend.

Sleep Paralysis

The next series of clips are from the interviews with Hufford. This series explains Sleep Paralysis and some of the side effects of it in terms that are more sensible, than some of the stuff above. Perhaps because he is a P.H.D. Hufford makes an interesting point about cultural amnesia or what I call cultural blinders that are placed on what is considered valid and what is considered to be invalid knowledge or data. I got into a long debate on Facebook with some atheists about this, what I call socially constructed scientific validity in the search for truth.

Article on sleep paralysis and some names for it in other cultures.

I have written about my poltergeist experiences and they sound very similar to descriptions of Sleep Paralysis. But also classic poltergeist experiences. Waking up with a frozen body, hearing someone walking down a hall, rattling keys, whistling and then coming into the room, standing over my face, blowing or touching my forehead with something like feathers and finally when I was able to make my fingers move, fading away. The first few times it happened in San Francisco around 1982. It was scarey, later I decided to laugh at the phenomena, considering it to be an irritant, and that made it go away for years. Later it came back more as the classic pressing on by a succubus, a dark figure, real and felt and sexual at the same time a black figure. This happened several times when I lived in Santa Monica around 2000, before it ended. In this case I was happy to have the visit, it was very erotic.

More moving and a grooving on the weird stuff in the world. I didn’t even go into my cartoon space people experience, but I did write a poem about it.

“Cartoon People”

They were calling…
At dodge ball hit repeatedly, he was listening
He almost gave away Mickey Mantle and Hank
Aaron, happily instinct prevailed, baseball cards were gold
After school, plastic solders waited vainly for orders
He went to bed
They were not Bugs, not Daffy, sitting around
Round room cushions in domed kettle of secrets
Murmuring all is well; bright eyes danced watching
Beamed stories inculcated like summer dusky mosquitos
Cartoon people smiled silent reassuring pantomimes
Three nights; morning
He whiffed at bat
Didn’t play statues, gave up king of the hill
Cousin Billy’s Indian rub burned mournfully, an unappreciated pain
Horses, dogs and cats whinnied, barked and hissed…ignored
Cartoon people whispered come, come…
To bed, to the round room beaming images
Cold and clear, warm and snug watch
History’s vermillion squiggles, space-time’s ochre Mayan glyphs,
Three nights, cartoon people….

By Gary
25 May 2013
Long Beach

Break The Lock Benefit

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Friday night June 21, the Summer Solstice, my GF and I went to a benefit event for “Break the Lock” in a storefront on the near west side of LA, in a little block of alternative businesses on the 1900 block of Rodeo Road near Arlington. The train passes right behind these buildings. There is a leftist book store and meeting place run by a Cuban guy from Miami who is a fan of Castro and Che. Next door is a Gay Drag club and down the street is a head shop. On the other side of the bookstore is a dispensary. I like these little islands of social liberalism, especially when they are in low rent neighborhoods, before they become hip and chic with the monied set. Whether they are leading gentrification or edgy entrepreneurs trying to stay one step away from the high rent districts. But unless they are politically committed and aware of the effects of gentrification on the local community, often these alternative businesses would love to have wealthy clients “revitalize” their neighborhoods, even if it does mean rising rents and driving out long term tenants who could not afford to stay.

With thoughts like these in mind, none the less I was happy to discover this new island of alternative culture, even if it is a T.A.Z. (temporary autonomous zone). I met Amari Shakur, activist with “Break the Lock” which is a group dedicated to the abolition of incarceration according to Amari when I talked to him. He did not elaborate as to who they were attempting to abolish incarceration for, he did say that 80% of the population incarcerated are people of color. It was not clear if he meant locally, state wide or nationally. The benefit which consisted of people hanging out, drinking beer, eating, listening to Tupac on a boombox, and a poker tournament was pretty lame, but the people mostly twenty-somethings, seemed pretty enthusiastic. There were about thirty people there when we arrived around 10:30.

I talked to a couple of other people but spent most of my time checking out the books, most all of them used, some very old, and I bought a few choice items, mostly info about early 20th century black liberation activists like W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, and C.L.R. Jones. I also got a group of pamphlets about the Tupamaros of Uruguay, Maurice Bishop and the Grenadian ” People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada,” something about John Brown, and an anti-war poem by Mark Twain, among other things. I spent some time talking with the owner of the place and he seemed to be convinced that Cuba will not go capitalist.

The place is called “The Left Side Lounge” at 1905 Rodeo Rd, LA. near the Western/Expo line stop. If you like Communist, Third World Liberation, Latin and African American liberation literature, this is a good place to check out.

“Break the Lock” appears to be a project of “Turning the Tide,” and the “Black Ryders.” Members of both groups were there along with something called the “Inter-Communal Solidarity Committee.” This is a quote from their site on line.

“Break the Lock applies the spirit of the “serve the people” survival programs of the original Black Panther Party for Self Defense to the 21st Century conditions of oppression faced by Black, Brown and other oppressed communities, in which mass incarceration — the new Jim Crow – is a key phenomenon.”

“The Prisoner Communications project is archiving and publishing on the Internet prisoner letters to the Black Riders Liberation Party and Turning the Tide. The Prisoners Revolutionary Education project provides reading and educational materials and is in the process of digitizing many crucial works from the Black liberation struggle and other critical social, political, historical and economic analysis for subsequent distribution to prisoners.”

“And the Family Transport to Prisoners (FTP) project will help incarcerated parents maintain contact with their kids, and family members to keep in communication with incarcerated children, spouses, partners and siblings.”

I have been familiar with “Turning the Tide” and the “Black Ryders” for years. Michael Novick publisher and editor of “Turing the Tide,” has been doing this for 25 years.

General T.A.C.O. leader of the “Black Ryders” was at the “Break the Lock” event. He was his usual enigmatic self.


Contact information.
323 289 4457 (LA) 925 752 1215 (oakland)
Email or

Most recently I worked in the Occupy committees involved with Novik on May Day actions in 2012. I eventually left because of the lack of alliance with local unions who should have been natural allies.

This is info from the “Inter-Communal Solidarity Committee.” from their facebook site:

“The Inter-Communal Solidarity Committee is a round table, a connecting point for Los Angeles social justice activists who want to plug in and raise funds.
To build inter-communal solidarity through participation in revolutionary survival/serve-the-people programs.
The Inter-Communal Solidarity Committee is a round table, a connecting point for Los Angeles social justice activists who want to plug in, raise funds, raise hell, and break the chains of capitalism. We are an anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, pro-emancipation collection of urgent radical grassroots projects created by a diverse and changing tapestry of ideologies. We will smash until we win, and we will do it together.
General Information

Donate Online:

Please contact the ICSC by phone at: (323)834-2720 or by email at:

Hood Improvement Program Health Organizing Project AIDS education and prevention community health/wellness awareness program
Break the Lock prisoner communication, education and visitation program
George Jackson Freedom School educate to liberate program
Turning the Tide: Journal of Anti-Racist Action, Research and Education”

Thoughts On Drugs, Kidney Failure, Hypertension And Disease.

Friday, June 21st, 2013

A friend of mine pointed out that yesterday writing about food and diet, when I mentioned my kidney failure I listed the cause as hypertension. What about drug abuse he wanted to know. I have thought about it and decided to do a little research. As I used drugs for much of my life in one form or another, and still do, although all the drugs I take now are prescription, except coffee, black tea and camomile tea.

The doctors diagnosis for me was kidney failure due to complications from hypertension. At first there were indications of exposure to hepatitis C but the kidney doctor said that there was no indication that I had hepatitis.

Various drugs have side effects. Methadone for instance can cause low bone density and osteoporosis could be a side effect, night sweats, constipation, sexual dysfunction and some sleep disorders, but most of these effects are minor. Taking calcium or vitamin D would for the most part take care of the possible bone problems and many clinics offer these to clients at no cost.

More recently a study with rats has indicated that there may be some neurological impairment from long term use in attention deficit and memory impairment.

For the most part methadone, heroin and most opioid drugs have few side effects although overdoses of any opioid can cause respiratory failure and cardiac failure leading to death, as any ER room doctor could testify. Often terminal patients die earlier than they might have from these system failures that are enhanced by large doses of pain medications and is an ethically accepted cause of death in medical practice.

The problem with street drugs is adulterants in the drug, variable dosing, and even more serious sharing needles among IV users which can lead to hepatitis, HIV and other diseases spread through the blood.

Another related problem is the addictive nature of opioid use. If not available legally, then the black market prices prevail and cost becomes a factor that often leads to anti-social and high risk behavior to pay for the medication. This is a serious argument for legalization.

As for the effects of Heroin and Cocaine on the renal system a recent study indicates that heroin has little evidence as being a cause, cocaine more likely. They also mention adulterants and socio-economic factors as well as genetic predispositions as being more likely than heroin to cause renal problems.

“Chronic Nephropathies of Cocaine and Heroin Abuse: A Critical Review”
Jared A. Jaffe, and Paul L. Kimmel

“We conclude that although there is a paucity of evidence to support a heroin-associated nephropathy, the evidence from in vitro cellular and animal studies to support the existence of cocaine-induced renal changes is more convincing. However, clinical evidence of the association between cocaine and CKD also is sparse. In the future, well-designed, epidemiologic studies may help to elucidate the association between cocaine and renal disease.”

Studies on the effects of various drugs such as heroin on cardiovascular system indicate arrhythmia, pulmonary edema and reduced output, thus more likely lowering chance of hypertension.

“Cardiovascular manifestations of substance abuse: part 2: alcohol, amphetamines, heroin, cannabis, and caffeine.”
Frishman WH, Del Vecchio A, Sanal S, Ismail A

“The abuse of alcohol is associated with chronic cardiomyopathy, hypertension, and arrhythmia. Abstinence or using alcohol in moderation can reverse these cardiovascular problems. Alcohol is also distinguished among the substances of abuse by having possible protective effects against coronary artery disease and stroke when used in moderate amounts. Amphetamines (eg, speed, ice, ecstasy) have many of the cardiovascular toxicities seen with cocaine, including acute and chronic cardiovascular diseases. Heroin and other opiates can cause arrhythmias and noncardiac pulmonary edema, and may reduce cardiac output. Cardiovascular problems are less common with cannabis (marijuana) than with opiates, but major cognitive disorders may be seen with its chronic use. It is still controversial whether caffeine can cause hypertension and coronary artery disease, and questions have been raised about its safety in patients with heart failure and arrhythmia.”;jsessionid=EuYgiKndHNqaauCxoh5x.6

An article on emergency room poisonings indicates that there is a relationship between pulmonary edema and heroin overdoses.

“Etiological characterization of acute poisonings in the emergency department”
Malek Khlifi, Leslie Zun, Giffe Johnson, and Raymond Harbison

“The association of drug abuse and respiratory co-morbidities, particularly between cocaine and asthma, has been reported sporadically in the scientific literature. In an investigation conducted in Bronx, NY, a correlation between cocaine use and new onset asthma was reported amongst substance abusers.Steensen et al. 1993 reported a relationship between heroin abuse and pulmonary edema, which was supported by Marby et al. 2004 who found a pattern of heroin overdose-induced pulmonary edema. Levine et al. 2005 found that cocaine and heroin abuse increased the rate of intubations and hospital utilization in patients with acute asthma exacerbation.”

Hypertension is a well documented and very serious cause of kidney failure.

“Hypertension and kidney disease: a deadly connection.”
Barri YM.

“Kidney disease may be the cause or a consequence of hypertension. Hypertension affects 25% of the adult population in the United States. Similarly, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) have been steadily increasing in incidence because of the increasing age of the US population and rise in the incidence of risk factors, including hypertension. Substantial evidence supports the notion that elevated blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for developing CKD.”

Causes of hypertension are listed below. This is interesting because kidney problems are listed as possible cause, while hypertension is a known cause of kidney disease. In the mid 2000’s I had hyperparathyroidism, that is the gland was producing too much PTH resulting in increased calcium being released into my blood stream causing undue pressure on my kidney (it was determined also that I only had one). This at the time was initially diagnosed as kidney failure but the doctors later decided it was hyperparathyroidism and after having a surgery removing an enlarged parathyroid the symptoms abated. Just before all of this the initial discovery was made that I had high blood pressure when I went in for some dental work. Four years later I suffered kidney failure.

By Mayo Clinic staff
There are two types of high blood pressure.
Primary (essential) hypertension
For most adults, there’s no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure, called essential hypertension or primary hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years.
Secondary hypertension
Some people have high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including:

Kidney problems
Adrenal gland tumors
Certain defects in blood vessels you’re born with (congenital)
Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines”

Cocaine seems more of a culprit than heroin would be. I was never a big fan of cocaine. Other questions arise such as when did I develop hypertension. I know that for several years prior I had been getting headaches at work, but attributed them to stress on the job.

This is a series of recommended measures to reduce hypertension. I certainly was not getting enough exercise, was overweight, probably drank too much and spent long hours commuting and sitting at a desk at work.

“The 2004 Canadian recommendations for the management of hypertension: Part III–Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension.”
Touyz RM, Campbell N, Logan A, Gledhill N, Petrella R, Padwal R

“RECOMMENDATIONS: Key recommendations include the following: lifestyle modification should be extended to nonhypertensive individuals who are at risk for developing high blood pressure; 30 min to 45 min of aerobic exercise should be performed on most days (four to five days) of the week; an ideal body weight (body mass index 18.5 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2) should be maintained and weight loss strategies should use a multidisciplinary approach; alcohol consumption should be limited to two drinks or fewer per day, and weekly intake should not exceed 14 standard drinks for men and nine standard drinks for women; a reduced fat, low cholesterol diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products, and maintains an adequate intake of potassium, magnesium and calcium, should be followed; salt intake should be restricted to 65 mmol/day to 100 mmol/day in hypertensive individuals and less than 100 mmol/day in normotensive individuals at high risk for developing hypertension; and stress management should be considered as an intervention in selected individuals.”

Stress and genetics as factors is being investigated with studies on rats and mice. One report that evaluates the effects of meditation etc. on blood pressure levels showed some moderate ability to make improvements.

“Essential hypertension and stress. When do yoga, psychotherapy and autogenic training help?”
Herrmann, JM.

“Psychosocial factors play an important role in the development and course of essential hypertension, although “stress” can account for only 10% of blood pressure variance. A variety of psychotherapeutic interventions, such as relaxation techniques (autogenic training or progressive muscular relaxation), behavioral therapy or biofeedback techniques, can lower elevated blood pressure by an average of 10 mmHg (systolic) and 5 mmHg (diastolic). As a “secondary effect”, such measures may also prompt the hypertensive to adopt a more health-conscious lifestyle.”

The more research I do, the more I realize that there are more questions than answers. For instance how did I get hyperparathyroidism? Links between drugs, genetics, environmental conditions all affect the body, and to blame one thing or anther for the cause of a disease is tricky business, that is probably why most doctors are more concerned with taking care of symptoms than seeking out causes. Causes get into political, social and environmental issues that can lead to trouble. It is easier to simply focus on mitigating symptoms.

Public health officials are more concerned with modifying behaviors once there has been developed significant scientific evidence for the damage from particular causes. Smoking was a battle for decades before it became the consensus view that it causes cancer. Air pollution did not become an issue until the 1950’s when a massive inversion over London caused the death of thousands.

Personally I think my emotional problems, relationship problems, unhealthy work conditions and possible genetic propensities were more causes than any drug use, but it is hard to link them with physiological outcomes other than in the broadest terms. It is easier to link specific conditions with specific causes and not go too far away from the most direct seeming links. For instance I worked for close to a decade a block away from a major oil refinery. But I could not prove there was a link. Any more than I could blame on the job stress, long commutes, my personal sense of dissatisfaction with life and the political economic philosophy of the USA, or my childhood, my attitude, and so it is easier to simply say hypertension as a cause for kidney failure. It is reasonable, although ultimately doesn’t get at root causes.

Most of the data comes from abstracts of articles in various medical journals. I did not want to pay to subscribe and the campus library is closed during the break so I could not access the articles for free. But for the purposes of this blog, abstracts should be adequate.

Latest Omelet And Some Diet/Food Source Info.

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

I made this omelet Wednesday morning and it came out great. I was going to write down the recipe before I forgot, but it is fading fast. I never make the same exact thing twice, so if I don’t record notable experiments immediately then, they are lost in the ozone. So this is my attempted reconstruction.

Olive oil in cast Iron pan, heat medium, wash and throw in a handful of pre-cut and cleaned fresh Nopales. I don’t like taking out the spines myself so I buy them already removed. But you want to get them really fresh and green, not turning brown, or soapy. They get pretty gooey as they get older, but washing removes most of that. I like their taste, sort of like zucchini only more flavorful. Ok, next you chop up a fat slice of onion, a half a Roma tomato, maybe a quarter of a largish bell pepper, an El Serrano pepper with the seeds removed, throw them in the skillet, wash and chop up 4 mushrooms, I used regular commercial white ones, can’t afford the fancy ones, add some veggie hamburger, like 3 oz, enough to thicken it a bit and then spice it with chili powder, oregano, and basil. Lower the heat to less than medium heat but not quite low heat. Chop up half a zucchini and add that. Peel and chop up three or four pieces of a garlic clove, throw that in. Then take a couple dozen green grapes, slice in half and throw them in. Add three eggs with some water whipped up with a fork, four eggs if it is for two. Then place a couple of scoops of ricotta cheese on top, a couple fingers of extra sharp cheddar cheese chopped up, then fold over if you can, and there you have it. I sprinkle a bunch of black pepper, squeeze a lemon slice, and pour some kind of hot sauce on top once it is ready to serve, I used Tapatio. All together I spent maybe 20 minute to half an hour preparing this. I had a cup of coffee or black tea too, and one small cherry pastry, and water.

I got a huge bottle of the hot sauce from Food 4 Less, there is one within walking distance and I like not having to drive, also I go several times a week, and just get a few things at a time, especially with fresh stuff, otherwise they go bad. It’s the same place I get most of my produce, except stuff I can get better deal at Trader Joe’s like roasted, unsalted peanut butter, and sunflower seeds, sesame oil, brown eggs, my veggie hamburger, veggie Chorizo, low sodium soy sauce, big bottles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and fresh Basil. The Trader Joe’s I like is the one on one of the bus routes from school. With a pass I can hop on another bus and be home almost as fast as driving. Most other stuff is cheaper at Food 4 Less, but some stuff like Sweet Chile sauce, big bottles of chili powder, Turmeric, oyster sauce, plum paste, crab paste (very strong), lemon grass, Galanga powder, and Indian Curry Powder I get from the local Cambodian market on Anaheim at Orange here in Long Beach, as well as whatever exotica I sniff up that I get curious about. I get my jams, some bread, good German hot mustard, fresh sauerkraut, real horseradish, any sausages I ever eat like Hungarian smoked sausage or Polish Kielbasa, European coffee if it is on sale, and perogies imported from Poland, at the German market in Torrance, Alpine market. I don’t get over there much, maybe every other month. The sausages are good, but they have a lot of salt and drive my blood pressure up, and their prices are kind of high so I don’t indulge much. They have good beers too, but I don’t drink much anymore.

Right now I am looking for a good bulk source for sage and other regular spices like thyme, rosemary, and such, those small dollar bags of the Mexican brands don’t last long enough and the fresh stuff is usually over priced, as are the McCormick’s etc. I use a lot of fresh veggies, dried beans, bulk rice, mostly Basmati but the last 10 lb bag I got of Royal, the Indian brand I usually get, hasn’t had that nice nutty taste I like. I think I am going to switch to Jasmine next batch.

I would go to the farmers market but the nearest one is in a wealthy neighborhood and prices are high. I eat organic if it is cheap, but I am on a budget and have to watch how much I spend. Besides I found that as long as you wash most things they are fine. This is meant for poor people who don’t have a lot of money and can’t afford places like Whole Foods. I spend maybe $150-$200 a month on groceries, maybe another $50 when I do my every other month trip to the Cambodian and German markets. You can eat well and good quality if you watch what you buy and eat. Study nutrition wheels, read the labels, watch out for added ingredients and you can eat well on very limited budgets. More people in your family may cost more, but then there are economies of scale. I end up throwing stuff out because I am alone, and if I was more efficient or cooked for more people that wouldn’t happen. I freeze meats, buy dried stuff in bulk and try not too buy too much of everything else. I don’t spend money on juices or milk, and no soft drinks, candies, and very little canned or processed food, mostly salsa, hot sauce, stuff like that. the occasional pastry, etc.

Well that’s my omelet and some info about where I shop. Don’t add salt to anything, there is enough in your cheese, hot sauce and anything else you eat processed. Avoid unhealthy fats, refined sugars and red meat or too much meat, and eat lots of veggies, and fresh fruits, that’s my plan, Also eat a big breakfast, and a medium dinner one night, the next night only have a salad. That will keep the weight from accumulating as long as you get out and walk every day. If you want to lose simply skip that other day meal at night, so you only eat breakfast one day and the other day have breakfast and a salad. I lost ten pounds in a couple weeks and a couple months later haven’t put any back on. I plan on doing another 5 to 10 pounds later this summer. I am within my BMI now, so I am pretty happy. If you must snack, and I do once in a while, then I eat unsalted sunflower seeds.

For specific dietary needs you should check with your doctor and get blood work done once every couple months, if your insurance coves it to check your mineral and fat, and how other levels are doing, then adjust your diet accordingly. If not you can still be in control with a few simple devices, buy a blood monitor and if you have blood sugar problems get a sugar diabetic kit, a scale and a thermostat, take daily readings and record them several times a day, along with how much water you are drinking and if you really get into it monitor your urine output and color. Read up on foods, and their effects, most of this stuff is on line. I had diabetes and have almost eliminated it by diet and exercise. My kidney failure was caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure. If I had monitored it, and done something about it I might have avoided the whole kidney failure experience. Drink lots of water every day. Avoid sodas and such. If you must have pastry consume small amounts, I eat one lady finger, or one bite sized cherry strudel, the key is keep that stuff to a minimum and mostly eat fresh stuff. If you have beans get the dried ones, not the canned ones, because the canned ones usually have salt and chemicals. You don’t want to starve yourself, and with most fresh stuff you can have a lot, like salads, just avoid fast foods, and prepared foods for the most part. That’s my diet advice for the day.

Final note, I have to take medications still, for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, anti-rejection drugs, and for my hemorrhoids. Diet alone is not enough once you have developed a chronic condition. But diet and exercise can alter your state of well being, reduce the amount and number of medications and generally enhance your quality of life. They can help prevent getting certain diseases, and ameliorate genetic predispositions. But if you do develop a condition, it cannot be wished away. I tried it before I went to the doctor when I was showing symptoms of kidney failure. I was tired, couldn’t sleep, or concentrate, I tried all kinds of stuff, even crystals, but I finally realized whatever it was, I needed medical attention I almost waited too long. That was a mistake, Modern medicine may not be perfect, and you have to educate yourself, and participate in your own well being, but medicine works much of the time and should be seen as an effective tool to be utilized and not ignored.

Gandhi, Jinnah And British Responsibility For Indian Subcontinent Division

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

The following is a conversation between myself and Ken Surridge on the causes of the separation of the Indian subcontinent and the responsible parties, British, Muslim and Hindu, focusing on Gandhi and Jinnah as key players. This discussion took place on Facebook June 18 and 19, 2013. Link with pictures

Gary Crethers: Pakistan’s military has long supported fundamentalists and separatists in Kashmir, in a proxy war with India. Now the Baluchi independence movement is, as the cartoon shows, burning the military in the butt. My own contention is that the nation states of India and Pakistan were colonial creations, compromises made by the British as they headed out the door after WW2. I also think that the two state solution was like in Palestine a poison pill planted by the British in the hopes of keeping things unstable and pliable for British long term interests, with an eye to return, something that didn’t happen and now the consequences of such ill thought out actions are being lived by the people. It will be interesting to see if Pakistan in particular survives.

Ken Surridge: Gary. I think you underestimate the role that Ghandi played in the division of the country. I don’t doubt that my country wanted to keep influence in the country but I think they did that with the system of government with different states and Rajahs. Ghandi deserves huge credit for forcing the British to grant independence to the region but he was very divisive among his own people. I think Ghandi’s inflexibility was the prime cause of separation.

Ken Surridge: He is credited with his non-violence in achieving independence and in my opinion rightly so, but the conflict he caused that lead to the partition of the country into India and Pakistan brought about many, many deaths and I think his stance played a part if not the main part in bringing about the bloodshed that preceded partition. I would argue that hundreds of thousands died and were displaced as a direct result of the conflict Ghandi caused among the parties negotiating the future of the region with the British.

Gary Crethers: Gandhi was against the separation. He opposed Jinnah in that. But ultimately gave in to pressure from others in Congress. I would say it was more due to Jinnah’s insistence and British appeasement than Gandhi, also there was the war, the cooperation of Congress was dependent on some promise of Independence after the war. If Labor hadn’t won the 1945 parliamentary elections, the British might have stalled a lot longer. But Labor had a social agenda at home and the war debt was enormous, so the empire was a judicious sacrifice. My poison pill theory is more a proposition than anything else at this point without access to British policy files. That sort of thing would not be easily accessible even at this late date. “Jinnah’s inscrutability and stubborn support for his Pakistan demand frequently frustrated Mountbatten during the series of meetings which took place between them early in April 1947. After one marathon session during which Jinnah appeared not to have been listening to any of his arguments, Mountbatten wrote in exasperation that ‘Jinnah must be a psychopathic case’.”

Jinnah and the Making of Pakistan
The worldwide Islamic revival of the 1970s has overshadowed the attempts made by Muslims earlier in the century to unite religious and political authority. Muslims led the revolt against the colonial…(see link)

Ken Surridge: Ghandi was against separation. Jinnah was initially against separation too. Ghandi though wanted the independent country to be created on his terms and he was completely unwilling to compromise. Because of his public standing the British did not feel he could be pressurised into compromise which lead to a very frustrated Jinnah. Jinnah wanted formal assurances that the minority muslims of the country would be treated as equal citizens in the new country. Ghandi refused to agree to any such reassurances and insisted that the basis of the new country would be Hinduism. Ghandi was totally inflexible, trust broke down, and the British chose not to intervene. Jinnah felt the only way he could safeguard muslims in the region was to push for an independent Pakistan. I would hardly consider Mountbatten a credible judge of character - his admiration for cruel dictators is well-documented.

Gary Crethers: Interesting analysis of the separation of the subcontinent putting a lot more blame on British administrative practices.

» Partition of India Postcolonial Studies @ Emory
“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” - Jawarharal Nehru, “Tryst With Destiny” speech celebrating Indian independence…(see link)

Gary Crethers: this BBC version is very close to my own understanding. I know Gandhi was opposed to separation but I don’t think he was about to impose Hinduism. He was killed after all by Hindu Nationalists who thought he was an appeaser of Muslims.

BBC - History - British History in depth: The Hidden Story of Partition and its Legacies
by Dr Crispin Bates

Ken Surridge: I agree with most of the analysis but I think it ignores a few important points. Firstly, Jinnah was an ardent anglophile with no apparent religious convictions. Instead of praying, he would sit on his verandah drinking whiskey; he loved whisky. He dressed like an English gentleman of the day usually. He considered himself culturally muslim. I think he would turn in his grave if he saw what the company had become. Secondly, the region allocated for Pakistan included only a minority of the muslims in the region. In fact, there are more muslims in india today than there are in Pakistan. Thirdly, the analysis acknowledges the anti-muslim feeling in the country but underestimates the strength of it. Hindus talked openly on muslims getting their just desserts. Forth, the analysis acknowledges Ghandi’s vision of a Hindu india but it does not deal with his many pronouncements that it would a hindu country only. Lastly, it doesn’t deal with the conflicts that developed and the reasons for them between the parties negotiating the terms for independence.

Gary Crethers: True, Jinnah was not exactly a good Muslim, he was interested in power, and Islam was for him a tool, perhaps as a means of pressuring the British, perhaps as a way to counter the influence of the Hindu nationalists. As has been written Muslims supported the British war effort while Congress opposed and many went to prison. As a result Muslims gained influence during the war years and that added pressure on the British to grant a separate state. The Labor government also wanted out. due to the post war situation at home, remember Britain had rationing in place until the 1950’s and was in bad shape for years after the war.

Ken Surridge: I agree that Britain just wanted out and as a result made some very poor decisions. However, I think both the articles you have presented do not take into the following items into account - (1) Ghandi’s determination that India would be hindu and a refusal to provide assurances for muslim citizens, (2) the hostility in the country towards muslims and their genuine fear of reprisals after the British left, and (3) Jinnah’s initial commitment to a united country.

Ken Surridge: I would argue Gary that a close analysis of Ghandi reveals a very different person to the only that is publically bandied about. I think the image of Ghandi generally presented is very romanticised as is often the case with popular heroes.

Gary Crethers: This site is very critical of Gandhi but they are critical not because he insisted on Hindu nationalism but just the opposite for being a dreamer and idealist who believed in an ecumenical state. This is a site advocating nationalism and has little good to say about Gandhi. I just don’t see him as being intransigent in favor of Hinduism. Can you site some sources?

The Gandhi Myth
The lesson of Gandhi’s failure is clear: In interracial relations a group that defines itself by its tolerance will lose against a group that doggedly pursues its own self-interest. Shrewd ethnocentrism is more politically powerful than compromising tolerance.

Ken Surridge: Gary, that’s a fair question. You will need to give me some time to dig through my books. Some them may even be in storage but it will be a good test of my memory. I will update as I find relevant sources.

Gary Crethers: Thanks, I have researched enough to know that Gandhi was a pragmatist and his pacifism was more a tactical response also ultimately became part of his world view. For a critique of Gandhi from a pacifist viewpoint see

A Pacifist Critique of Gandhi | Peacework Magazine
Peacework Magazine, a peace and social justice webzine, investigates, uncovers, highlights, catalyzes, and mobilizes the nonviolent success stories of today — and tomorrow.

Gary Crethers: But all in all, despite his flaws, he was a great man and advanced the cause of human freedom, at least to the extent of being an inspiration for people like Martin Luther King, who went to India. “From the early days of the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to India’s Mahatma Gandhi as ‘‘the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change’’ (Papers 5:231). Following the success of the boycott in 1956, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles.”

India Trip (1959)
From the early days of the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to India’s Mahatma Gandhi as ‘‘the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change’’ (Papers 5:231). Following the success of the boycott in 1956, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding…(see link)

Gary Crethers: Now I am no pacifist, but I am a pragmatist and seeing people getting killed for political ends is not my idea of how to conduct a social revolution, but on the other hand there are times when as Maximilian Robespierre said in 1790 “On ne saurait faire une omelette sans casser des oeufs.” Translation: “One can’t expect to make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

Ken Surridge: A Hitchens article, although I have better sources and will find them.

The Real Mahatma Gandhi
Questioning the moral heroism of India’s most revered figure

Ken Surridge: If you read Gandhi’s letters and articles while living in South Africa, he comes across as deeply racist. He objects to the treatment of Indians but takes no issues with the treatment of kafirs and low caste Indians. The word ‘kafir’ is the South African equivalent of nigger. It is a deeply offensive and racist word. Read the original letters at

M.K.Gandhi, mahatma, Philosophy, non-violence, photographs of mahatma gandhi, Ghandi, Mahatma, Mohandas, peace, conflict resolution. Comprehensive site for Researchers Scholars Activists Students everyone. Includes a large collection of links on Gandhi, Non-Violence Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Ken Surridge: Note Gandhi’s support for ‘Purity of Race’ when he stressed racial separation and the leadership of whites with approval.

Gandhi wrote in his Indian Opinion of 24 September 1903:
“We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do, only we believe that they [the white leadership of South Africa] would best serve these interests, which are as dear to us as to them, by advocating the purity of all races, and not one alone. We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race.”

On 24 December 1903, Gandhi added this in his Indian Opinion newspaper:
“The petition dwells upon `the co-mingling of the colored and white races’. May we inform the members of the Conference that so far as British Indians are concerned, such a thing is particularly unknown. If there is one thing which the Indian cherishes more than any other, it is the purity of type.”

Ken Surridge: Jinnah was the architect of the Lucknow pact for which he earned the title of “the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity”. Jinnah was a member of both the Congress Party and the Muslim League when the Lucknow pact was created in 1916. He fought hard for a united India in which Muslims would be fairly represented. The main clauses of the Lucknow pact were presented to the British as a united front. Jinnah was the main driver for a united India until the collapse of the Lucknow pact when he concluded that the hindu majority would limit the rights of muslims.

Ken Surridge: This is brief article that draws some attention to Jinnah’s role but does not do it justice. It is useful in that it points out that Jinnah was committed to a united India in the beginning and he, not Gandhi, was the main force behind the unity of Muslims and Hindus.

The Lucknow Pact
When All India Muslim League came into existence, it was a moderate organization with its basic aim to establish friendly relations with the Crown. However, due to the decision of the British Government…(see link)

Ken Surridge: The text of the Lucknow pact can be seen on the following web-site.

Lucknow Pact between Congress and Muslim League 1916
Agreement between Congress and Muslim League in 1916.

Ken Surridge: The main clauses of the Lucknow Pact were:
•There shall be self-government in India.
•Muslims should be given one-third representation in the central government.
•There should be separate electorates for all the communities until a community demanded for joint electorates.
•System of weightage should be adopted.
•The number of the members of Central Legislative Council should be increased to 150.
•At the provincial level, four-fifth of the members of the Legislative Councils should be elected and one-fifth should be nominated.
•The strength of Provincial legislative should not be less than 125 in the major provinces and from 50 to 75 in the minor provinces.
•All members, except those nominated, were to be elected directly on the basis of adult franchise.
•No bill concerning a community should be passed if the bill is opposed by three-fourth of the members of that community in the Legislative Council.
•Term of the Legislative Council should be five years.
•Members of Legislative Council should themselves elect their president.
•Half of the members of Imperial Legislative Council should be Indians.
•Indian Council must be abolished.
•The salaries of the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs should be paid by the British Government and not from Indian funds.
•Out of two Under Secretaries, one should be Indian.
•The Executive should be separated from the Judiciary.

Ken Surridge: The Nehru report was produced in 1928. It was shaped by Nehru the protégé of Gandhi and rejected everything agreed in the Lucknow pact. Jinnah responded in 1929 with 14 points from the 1916 Lucknow pact for a united India from the 1916. The now Hindu Members of the Nehru committee rejected all the points outright. A meeting of all the Muslim parties subsequently rejected the Nehru report. If the Nehru Committee had shown some flexibility and willingness to incorporate some of the demands of the Muslim leadership, partition might have been avoided. The inability of Congress to concede any points was a major factor in the eventual partition of India.

Ken Surridge:[1928].html

Nehru Report

Ken Surridge: The above report is right on the facts even if its pro-Pakistan sympathy is rather obvious.

Ken Surridge: Was Nehru Report a Reversal of Lucknow Pact?
Yes. The Motilal Nehru Committee Report, published in 1928 recommended reservation of seats for Muslims only in provinces where they were in a minority. The report proposed to abolish separate electorates, to discard reservation of seats for Muslim majorities in the Punjab and Bengal and to rekect the principle of weightage for Muslim minorities. This was a reversal of the Lucknow Pact. The Nehru Report asked for a political status of India as a dominion, which should be the same as that of British dominions like Canada, South Africa. It asked for a similar reservation for Hindus in NWFP. The provinces of Sindh and Karnataka shall be separate any further reorganisation of proposed report was good but not practical. The joint and mixed concept was practically unacceptable for the Muslim league.

Nehru Report 1928
Moti Lal Nehru Report 1928 At the annual session of the Congress in Madras in December 1927, a resolution was passed which advocated the boycott of
Ken Surridge Sorry Gary, I realise that I am overwhelming your notifications so I will finish with some book recommendations. India 1900-47 by Rosemary Rees, and the Lancaster Pamphlets on British Politics of the time.

Gary Crethers: I would not say he was deeply racist, but typically racist at that time racism was fairly common. But it is certainly a blight on his early days. I have noted that above in the Peacework critique. Gandhi certainly was no saint, remember he also slept with his young nieces, not having sex with them, but still it was a kind of creepy thing and several of his fellows left his movement because of it. But it does not take away from the fact that he was an influential force for liberation of the Indian subcontinent from colonial rule and did his best to do it without violence. The violence that occurred after partition cannot be blamed on him, he did his best to stop it. I would say it was more a result of the withdrawal of British troops, the demobilization of Indian forces, the rush to independence, the lack of experience on the part of many Congress politicians and the agitation of Hindu and Islamic fundamentalists and nationalists who spread fear and panic, also the lack of adequate police forces, lack of clear border demarcation, and inadequate preparation of the population at large, besides the fact that it was a bad idea to start with as far as I am concerned.

Ken Surridge: The Lucknow pact was agreed before Gandhi took the leadership of the Congress party. The Nehru report was created when lead, in fact, ran the Congress party having reorganised and put in place only people deeply loyal to him and his views. Had he been willing to compromise the Muslim League may have accepted the Nehru report and partition could have been averted along with the killing. Jinnah certainly indicated support after the publication of the Nehru report for a united India.

Gary Crethers: This site has an interesting description of Gandhi supporting the British war effort, his rather idealistic position, that by being good Commonwealth citizens, the British would reward Indians with greater political freedoms was naive and put him out of favor with his more realistic brethren. Gandhi had withdrawn from independence agitation and focused on labor issues working for workers rights during the war. Although in 1918 he helped recruit soldiers for the war effort and earlier had organized an medical unit at the war’s outbreak. He felt betrayed by the British when at the wars end the British determined that Indian civil liberties were to be curbed.

Gary Crethers: the site

Mahatma Gandhi : Pictorial Biography
This is the first pictorial biography of Gandhi in which the narrative-concise, readable and incisive is illustrated with contemporary photographs and facsimiles of letters, newspaper reports and cartoons, adding up to a fascinating flash-back on the life of Mahatma Gandhi and the struggle for India…(see link)

Gary Crethers: As for the 1916 Lucknow Pact between Congress and the Muslim Brotherhood that was as you say largely the work of Jinnah, also as a result the radical Tilak faction and the moderate Gokhale factions in Congress were brought together. The ultimate goal was to gain access to concessions from the British for self government as well as to protect Muslim interests. They saw World War One as an opportunity to pressure the British. Gandhi was not involved in this process being opposed to using the war to pressure the British. Things began to change after the Chauri Chaura incident in 1922 during the non-cooperation campaign after the war. Gandhi and Congress decided to call off the campaign when enraged protestors burned down a police station killing some 21 officers trapped inside. Leaders of the Muslim Khilafat Movement became disenchanted with Congress for ending the campaign. Later in 1928 the Nehru report written as a response to British claims that Indians could not come up with a constitution, provided an outline of a path to Dominion status and Independence. Unfortunately it did not include provisions for separate Muslim elections or protections that were included in the Lucknow pact and caused members of the Muslim league and Khilafat movement to become more critical of Congress. This becoming a point that led to increased support for Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s two state solution, as was proposed in 1930 by Allama Iqbal in a speech. The 1935 Government of India Act had adopted many of the concessions requested by the 1928 All-Party Muslim Conference which had demanded a 33% representation in a unified government. At that point a unitary state was still possible as the separate state movement could only garnish a small percentage of Muslim support, gaining only 5% of Muslim votes in a 1937 election. But under Jinnah’s leadership they pressed on and in the Lahore resolution of 1940 presented the two state solution. I don’t see Gandhi being the primary player in this process of separation between Muslim and Hindu interests, he certainly was a factor, but I don’t think he was as critical as you suggest. As to why Jinnah decided to give up on a unitary state and push for separation, there were many factors, Gandhi may have failed to understand Jinnah, and Nehru may have pushed him into a corner where he felt he had no option after the Nehru Report. Jinnah’s ambition may have led him to conclude that a separate power base using Islam as a means was the only way to have the impact he desired. He certainly was no devout Muslim and was a secularist. Ultimately the factors in the failure to form a unified country are complex and have their roots in history as well as in the personalities and forces of the times. Certainly the British divide and conquer methodology contributed to the current states.

Gary Crethers: I don’t agree with your analysis of the Congress Party at the time of the Nehru Report. Gandhi was not on the committee and he was not some omnipotent force in Congress.

Gary Crethers: On the other hand Gandhi was a very influential figure and his own rejection of a legislated approach to the communal problem in favor of an apocalyptic civil war as a sort of purifying experience for Indians was in my view both irresponsible, idealistic and ultimately led to his not taking Jinnah’s demands seriously enough. This is in marked contrast to his insistence on Non-violent struggle for independence. This is reported in “Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life”
by Kathryn Tidrick, on page 221. Although Gandhi did tell Jinnah that he personally would agree to the demands of Jinnah, he suggested that the Sikhs would withdraw their support. “Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire” by Rajmohan Gandhi page 297. Gandhi was more concerned with the split between the elder and younger Nehru who disagreed over whether to accept Dominion status or complete separation. Gandhi brokered a compromise in which they would give the British a one year ultimatum for dominion. if it was not accepted then complete independence would be on the table. This is an interesting link to the British reaction and the various parties involved

Gandhi and British Public Opinion Part Two: Nehru Report to the Lahore Conference 1928-29
The Nehru report, published in 1928 began a sequence of dramatic events in which the Indian Independence Movement became central to British Politics for the following three years. These events would…(see link)

Gary Crethers: Ultimately I think you have some good points and Gandhi certainly is not the idol some people make of him. His Hinduism was both a strength and a hindrance to his success. Also his reading of history, particularly the way he interpreted the American Civil War suggested that he anticipated a violent future for India before a truly communal state would arise. Was he being prophetic or help create the conditions of the ultimate bloodbath of the separation is debatable. Certainly the worst of two worlds resulted, a war and a separation, rather than peace and unity. Although he certainly was a key player, I still don’t believe that his actions determined the ultimate course of history, but they did play an important part.

Ken Surridge: Gandhi was not party to the creation of the Lucknow pact or a supporter of its goals but he was behind the decision to ignore it and the concerns of Muslims in the creation of the Nehru report.

Gandhi became president of Congress in 1921, and immediately reformed the party. He restructured the hierarchy filling many positions with loyal followers. He reduced the membership fee, opened new party branches and campaigned aggressively. Party membership grew rapidly and Gandhi became the darling of the public. Gandhi became very powerful with his control of Congress and his public image.

Gandhi expressed regret for the Chauri Chaura incident in 1922. It is true that officially Gandhi and Congress decided to call off the campaign, however, the party was at this stage very much doing his bidding. Gandhi was indeed very powerful and it was not easy or wise to disagree with him. Along with some other members, the Khilafat Movement did become disenchanted with the campaign ending. Gandhi’s control of the party is underlined by the fact that while Gandhi’s was in prison internal factions formed within the Congress party which looked at one stage like it might split the party. On leaving prison Gandhi took control of the party and reunited it.

The 1928 Nehru report was the second attempt at a constitution for India. There were 2 Muslim representatives who were part of the committee that drafted it. They refused to sign it because it ignored Muslim concerns. It was rejected by the All Muslim league shortly afterwards. Jinnah’s 14 points were the only attempt made to see if any common ground could be found. Nehru as a loyal supporter of Gandhi made sure the report reflected his vision for India. The Congress party very much under Gandhi’s influence ignored Muslim concerns.

I see Gandhi’s influence and his beliefs as the main cause of the stance that the Congress party adopted towards the concerns of the Muslim league. I believe his speeches and actions show that as his influence grew so did his confidence to assert himself and his refusal to compromise. He is known in meetings to have simply refused to even respond to questions or discuss topics on which he had made up his mind. He left many British officials deeply frustrated because of his refusal to enter into negotiations. He drove Jinnah and his allies to conclude that the two-state solution touted by others was the only way to safeguard Muslims. It is true that once Jinnah believed this to be the case, he threw himself behind the idea and campaigned aggressively for it.

I agree that there were other factors at play, but I think you underestimate Gandhi’s influence. Even after he relinquished the leadership of the Congress party no decisions were taken without consulting him.

Gary Crethers: As much as I would like to continue this discussion I have other matters to attend at this point. I will say that the debates over the Nehru Report at the time indicate that many in Congress saw Jinnah as petulantly sticking to a position that insisted on a 33% Muslim stake as opposed to the 25% offered, a compromise of 27% was not accepted by Jinnah. Shuaaib Qureshi was the only one of the panel members who seems to have not signed it according to the Wikipedia article but that could be wrong. Gandhi certainly was influential, I guess what we disagree on is how much that influence impacted the ultimate results. A very interesting analysis indicates that it was due to the inept work of Jinnah’s aid M. C. Chagla. “In the summer 1928 when these negotiations went on and a draft of Nehru Report was being finalised Jinnah had gone to London and Paris – his wife Ruttie was on her deathbed in Paris at the time. Around the same time, the Nehru Report was finalised. Under pressure from the Hindu Mahasabha, the Nehru Report did not go far enough to meet the Delhi proposals. Instead of the 33% proposed reserved representation, the Hindu Mahasabha insisted on a lower number, agreeing ultimately at 25% i.e. 1/4th instead of 1/3rd. A meeting of the Nehru Report attended by M C Chaga on behalf of the League became the turning point. While Motilal Nehru was ready to even accept separate electorates as an interim measure to allay the minorities, M C Chagla forcefully advocated joint electorates on behalf of Jinnah’s faction and also went on to accept the Nehru Report on League’s behalf. When Jinnah returned, M C Chagla went to receive him at the harbor only to find his mentor furious. For Jinnah the Nehru Report was a counter proposal and with 1/4th instead of 1/3rd reserved representation was a non-starter. In this he was right. Muslims were giving up their separate electorates and the Hindu majority was expected to give something in return – an increase in reserved representation.”

Gary Crethers:
Gandhi according to this author is only mentioned in the context of having a positive opinion. “The package Jinnah gave for a settlement became famously known as the Delhi Muslim proposals. There is enough evidence to suggest that Motilal Nehru and Gandhi were thrilled by this proposal.” Thus all I can say is this subject is still being debated and as I am not an expert, I will have to leave it lie as it stands perhaps in the future I shall attempt a paper on the subject.

Jinnah, M C Chagla and the Nehru Report | Pak Tea House
The All India Reporter in its obituary on Jinnah wrote this very revealing line: “The change in his views and ideals leading to such cataclysmic developments in our national annals will remain one of the strangest things in history.”

A Few Thoughts On Melville and “Moby Dick”

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

I was reading Melville’s Moby Dick and wondering at how Clifton Fadiman, in his introduction, could say Melville had no sense of humor.

“A pessimism as profound as Melville’s, if it is not pathological- and his is not- can exist only in a man who, whatever his gifts, does not possess a sense of humor” (Fadiman, xii) .

He goes on to describe by contrast Shakespeare as a humorous sort, and then contradicts himself by saying “Perhaps I should qualify these strictures, for there is a kind of vast, grinning, unjolly, sardonic humor in him at times-Ishmael’s first encounter with Queequeg is an example”(xii).

Then he goes back to his somber take on Melville.

“But this humor is bilious, not sanguine, and has no power to uplift the heart” (xii).

Not exactly an appetizing come on to read the book, but then perhaps the expectation is that the reader has already made a purchase and the reader is a captive subject to Fadiman’s willful darkening of the portrait Melville paints. I found the book at least up to chapter seventeen, to be somewhat hilarious. The scene whence Ishmael meets Queequeg, with the landlord’s description of a head hunting cannibal, for this recent school teacher, the idea of sharing a bed with some creature selling shrunken heads to the locals, is quite comic. Melville’s description of Ishmael’s scruffy shoes, the indecipherable painting he finds in the down and out inn; and then look at his philosophical ramblings, “Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged into his deepest reveries-stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going , and he will inevitably lead you to water, if water is to be had in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor” (Melville, 4), this is the stuff of wry comedy.

I don’t find the comments to be bile filled. I don’t get Fadiman’s take at all. I see a Candide or young Christian from The Pilgrims Progress, in the first part of the novel, certainly not a dark foreboding except perhaps in the wintery setting. Perhaps there is a certain acerbic parodying of Dickens whom he equated with the soft sentimental tales the public seemed to desire and the pandering of New York editors to that degraded taste that Melville in Moby Dick attempts to rise above, see Suchoff (95-96). He went so far as to try to dissuade his neighbor and friend Hawthorne away from that model, while at the same time praising him for being so high brow. Perhaps that is what Fadiman is talking about as Melville wrote to Hawthorne speaking of Moby Dick, “I have written a wicked book and feel spotless as a lamb.” (xi). Melville was striving to write not to palpitate the public demand for sentiment but to dig a bit deeper into the human condition. If that means his humor is dark, well so be it, he is certainly in good company.

But that is not the only point I wish to make, although I must admit, it got in my craw, to think Melville had no humor. I purchased an Easton Press leather covered hardbound edition of Moby Dick that I picked up for a mere $20 from a used book store across the street from where I live. Whilst on my break between semesters I am determined to read it. I have saddled myself with Byron’s Don Juan at the same time, thus perhaps dooming my endeavor to failure or at the very least some long nights. I took it upon myself to write this bit, not quite a review, not really a critique but simply because my interest was piqued as to how certain words and phrases had been defined in Melville’s time.

For instance, the term “Monkey jacket.” What is this jacket Ishmael describes? “I sat down on the side of the bed, and commenced thinking about this head-peddling harpooneer, and his door mat. After thinking some time on the bed-side,I got up and took off my monkey jacket, and then stood in the middle of the room thinking. I then took off my coat, and though a little more in my shirt sleeves” (Melville 22).

I assumed it an overcoat or rain coat. But looking it up on line I found it to be a tight fitting jacket worn most commonly by sailors. Then what was a coat? I found a posting about eighteenth and nineteenth century jackets and there was an advertisement for pre-made clothing from 1813. It mentions monkey jackets and waistcoats. OK, a waistcoat is probably what Melville is referring to. The link is below if you want to read the reference.

For more information than you probably ever wanted to know about coats of the time see the link below. Lot of tips on making the costumes in this. I think it is for theatre or re-enactment.,d.cGE

Or a bit about sailors costumes in the civil war. This has pictures also.

There was a pull over shirt that perhaps Melville is calling his coat. But then what was his shirt sleeves

“A man might be an artisan working in the back of his shop in his shirt sleeves, but if a customer came in, or if he was going out, he would put his vest and coat on. The shirt was regarded as underwear and was covered up by the waistcoat or vest. If any part of the shirt was actually shown through the vest, it was fancied up with lace or frills. Towards the middle of the 19th century the vest was cut to expose the shirt front and the shirt was then pleated. And if a fancy shirt front was not worn, then a cravat or tie was used to cover it up - but a plain shirt was never worn with ladies present!”

This quoted from a site that describes what a shirt was in that time.

Having solved that mystery to my satisfaction, I remember how I had been amused reading the line in bold type “Bloody Battle in Afghanistan” (Melville ,7) while Ishmael is musing over his assumed fame as a world traveler. This would have been referring to the British incursion into that country. Perhaps Melville is sardonically referring to the massacre of the entire British expeditionary force to Kabul in 1842. This might be a reason for Fadiman calling Melville’s humor bilious. One man was allowed to survive the massacre to tell the tale as a warning to the world. Seems that nobody has learned that lesson yet. Marry into the clans of the Pashtuns if long term dominance is an expected result. Look at Alexander. Obama had better find his Roxanne. The old adage comes to mind, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

So I am wandering around a bit. Yesterday I wrote about my poltergeist and Melville slipping his own experience into the novel with an uncannily similar description of the same otherworldly manifestation (Rumor, 17 May 2013). Today I want to write about this paragraph below.

“But as for Queequeg–why, Queequeg sat there among them–at the head of the table, too, it so chanced; as cool as an icicle. To be sure I cannot say much for his breeding. His greatest admirer could not have cordially justified his bringing his harpoon into breakfast with him, and using it there without ceremony; reaching over the table with it, to the imminent jeopardy of many heads, and grappling the beefsteaks towards him. But that was certainly very coolly done by him, and every one knows that in most people’s estimation, to do anything coolly is to do it genteelly” (Melville, 33).

Mostly it is that last line, “to do anything coolly is to do it genteelly.” that caught my sense of wonderment. Thinking about the word “coolly,” did it mean the same thing in the nineteenth century as it does now? I went to the internet and searched for a dictionary from the period. The best I could do was a 1913 edition of the Century Dictionary Online, with an entry about the word. It has five meanings, the first two having to do with the climate. The next three seemed closer to the mark. Number three “calmly, without haste, deliberately,” this seemed close. The fourth was “indifferently” implying a slight, this seemed a bit off the mark. The fifth though that was gold, “With quiet presumption or impudence; nonchalantly; impudently: as he coolly took the best for himself” (Century Dictionary Online, 1249).

The remark “genteelly” would seem to imply the third definition. I go back to my dictionary and find this:

“In a genteel manner; in the manner of well- bred people.

‘Most exactly, negligently, genteelly dress’d!’ Steele, Grief A-la-Mode, xx. 1.

‘I have long neglected him as being a profligate (or as Mr. Browne more genteelly calls him) a privileged writer, who takes the liberty to say any thing and whose reproach is no scandal.’ Waterland, Works, X. 414.” (2488).

Ah, perhaps I was right in picking definition five. The word “genteelly” seems to imply the ability to slide by some of the rules of society because one is assumed to be a proper civilized being, and thus above some of the conventions that rougher creatures, the unwashed masses would have to hew to as school children to the teaching to tests in modern so called education. This harkens back to some of Ishmael’s earlier observations earlier in the novel, after succeeding in awakening the sleeping savage Queequag from their sojourn together as bed partners (Melville, 30).

Also Melville was having fun with the whole Bea Brummell dandy phenomenon that was popular at the time. “No town bred dandy will compare with a country-bred one-I mean a downright bumpkin dandy-a fellow that, in the dog-days, will mow his two acres in buckskin gloves for fear of tanning his hands” (Mellville, 34-35). That is funny, and an acerbic commentary on mans foolishness, hearkening back to the biblical “all is vanity” (KJV, Ecclesiastes 1.2) and perhaps contrasting to Ishmael’s own shabby condition, but more we are given a parade of characters to establish the exotic world in which things, values and beliefs will be turned upside down. Already meeting Queequeg there is a taste and then out on the streets of New Bedford, more exotica taking the reader while even on shore, out to sea.

“he [Queequeg] turned round–when, good heavens! what a sight! Such a face! It was of a dark, purplish, yellow colour, here and there stuck over with large blackish looking squares. Yes, it’s just as I thought, he’s a terrible bedfellow; he’s been in a fight, got dreadfully cut, and here he is, just from the surgeon. But at that moment he chanced to turn his face so towards the light, that I plainly saw they could not be sticking-plasters at all, those black squares on his cheeks. They were stains of some sort or other. At first I knew not what to make of this; but soon an inkling of the truth occurred to me. I remembered a story of a white man–a whaleman too–who, falling among the cannibals, had been tattooed by them. I concluded that this harpooneer, in the course of his distant voyages, must have met with a similar adventure. And what is it, thought I, after all! It’s only his outside; a man can be honest in any sort of skin. But then, what to make of his unearthly complexion, that part of it, I mean, lying round about, and completely independent of the squares of tattooing” (23).

He had wondered about this savage as he put on his clothes and after a long night together, admiration. Melville’s social commentary, a dark skinned native, with tattoos all over his body, a creature that had earlier, the night before struck fear in Ishmael’s heart.

“When, at last, his mind seemed made up touching the character of his bedfellow, and he became, as it were, reconciled to the fact; he jumped out upon the floor, and by certain signs and sounds gave me to understand that, if it pleased me, he would dress first and then leave me to dress afterwards, leaving the whole apartment to myself. Thinks I, Queequeg, under the circumstances, this is a very civilized overture; but, the truth is, these savages have an innate sense of delicacy, say what you will; it is marvellous how essentially polite they are. I pay this particular compliment to Queequeg, because he treated me with so much civility and consideration, while I was guilty of great rudeness; staring at him from the bed, and watching all his toilette motions; for the time my curiosity getting the better of my breeding. Nevertheless, a man like Queequeg you don’t see every day, he and his ways were well worth unusual regarding” (30).

Slavery still existed at the time MobyDick was written and Melville is showing some solidarity and compassionate understanding of the man, as a man. Someone he would share a bed with not even considering the homoerotic potential in the scene, especially the bit about Queequeg having his arm around him as if he were a woman (28). So Melville is showing some sympathy after all with a Dickensian view point as Suchoff quotes Weisbuch “Melville both acknowledges his agreement with aspects of Dickens’s social critique and asserts his own capacity to write in such a manner” (qtd. Suchoff, 95).

Melville is also living in New England and in the same social circles as noted abolitionists, Moby Dick is dedicated to Hawthorne. It would be strange for him not to show sympathy, but in this case he goes beyond polite middle class theoretical empathy, he rubs shoulders as an equal, much more radical for the times, demonstrating Melville’s “evil” and his feeling “as spotless as a lamb,” he knew he was in the moral right and ahead of his times. This was no hand wringing account like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a contemporary popular fiction of the type that he criticized for its sentimentality, but a bold step into acknowledging equality, even admiration, this was a man who would rub shoulders with the dark man, even a suspected cannibal, parodying white southerners views of black savagery. Melville stands like Whitman, speaking of the common humanity, and does so in a humorous manner. For example after they become fast friends and spend their second night together smoking and talking, Melville has Ishmael and Queequeg out in public together, ignoring the comments and looks of passers by and even showing up the bumpkins on their passage to Nantuket when Queequeg saves the live of the fool. “The poor bumpkin was restored. All hands voted Queequeg a noble trump; the captain begged his pardon” (Melville, 67).

To restate “every one knows that in most people’s estimation, to do anything coolly is to do it genteelly” (33). Or as Ishmael imagines Queequeg saying to himself “It’s a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians. We cannibals must help these Christians” (67). Society is enticed to admit the truth and Melville is leading his own bit of the charge, even if he is a bit of a cynic regarding the common run of humanity. He intends to lead, no mistake about it, in his own somewhat “bilious” manner to use Fadiman’s term. Even though it is not specifically slavery in the USA that he addresses, here, it is racial stereotyping that he is playing with and perhaps having a little fun with his own ‘noble savage’ mystique developed in novels like Typee and Omoo. Melville is after bigger fish in this novel, literally and figuratively, it is not the political issues of the day that he dwells upon but the human condition at large. Influenced by his new friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne, after moving to Massachusetts, where they met and Melville started Moby Dick, He is attempting greatness, and at this writing I am barely into chapter seventeen (very short and sweet these chapters are) and already have found much food for thought. I won’t even go into his preacher’s over the top version of Jonah and the whale. Or the pagan ritual Ishmael then shares with Queequeg where in his rationalizing a conversion ritual, he himself seems to be converted to the pagan’s ways. Fun stuff, Fadiman, you are wrong.

(sort of a botched MLA citation job).

Century Dictionary Online. Global Language Resources, Inc.2013. Web. 18 June 2013.

Fadiman, Clifton. Moby Dick. Norwalk, CT. Easton Press, 1977. Print.

Melville, Herman. Moby Dick. Norwalk, CT. Easton Press. 1977. Print.

Suchoff, David Bruce. Critical Theory and the Novel Mass Society and Cultural Criticism in Dickens, Melville, and Kafka. Madison. U. of Wisconsin, 1994. Google Books. Web. 18 June 2013.

Atheism Versus Theism And A June Poltergeist

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Facts are conditioned by cultural viewpoints. When cultures change the types of facts that are considered to be valid or interesting change. I am reminded of the Iconoclast controversy in eighth and ninth century Byzantium. Icons were considered to be an anathema, under the pressure from Islam, which was winning victory after victory over the old Romans. Leo III Roman Emperor, had come under the influence of Islam at least that is the modern view and decided that Icons were pagan and had led to Roman defeats. He forsake them and succeeded to drive the Muslims from the gates of Constantinople. Instead of simply claiming to have succeeded due to superior strategy etc, he claimed it was the renouncing of Icons that did the trick, and proceeded to attempt to have them banned in the Roman Empire that remained.

Unfortunately for the Iconoclasts, Icons were very popular and there was a big industry in making Icons…after a century or so of attempting to impose the ban on Icon worship, the effort was abandoned, even if it was more “rational” just as Soviet efforts to wipe out religion failed because the people enjoyed having objects of faith.

The Soviets, especially in WW2, desperate to rally popular support for the war began to relax their control over the Orthodox church, attempting even to create a secular version in Stalin “big man” worship. But to no avail once they had loosened the bag, the cat was back out.

“Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, and many churches were re-opened under the German occupation. Stalin ended the anti-religious campaign in order to rally the country and prevent a large base of Nazi support (which existed in some areas in the early stages of the invasion). In September 1941, three months after the Nazi attack, the last antireligious periodicals were shut down (officially because of a paper shortage. Churches were re-opened in the Soviet Union and the League of the Militant Godless (LMG) was disbanded. Emelian Yaroslavsky, the leader and founder of the LMG, who had led the entire national anti-religious campaign in the 1930s, found himself writing an article in praise of Orthodox Christian Fyodor Dostoyevsky for his alleged hatred of the Germans.”

Now especially in industrialized nations secularism is popular and on the ascendant. If only the Soviets had had our Hollywood machine, they might have succeeded. Things after all go better with Coke. All interesting cultural phenomena but not really “Truth” in a scientific sense, interesting cultural trends that influence the faith or lack of faith in a society. Universities are the bastions of secularism in modern society but are aided by a secular culture industry and advertising industry. The scientific approach at least since Darwin, and in philosophy at least since Voltaire in the more modern period although there have been skeptics and atheist thinkers at least in ancient India and Greece.

“Thus, what little we know about comes from others. Diogenes Laertius reported that Protagoras also said:

“As to the gods, I have no means of knowing either that they exist or do not exist. For many are the obstacles that impede knowledge, both the obscurity of the question and the shortness of human life.” ”

Ajita Kesakambali was a contemporary of Buddha and a materialist, his ideas becoming part of the Lokayata school of materialism in India also known as Carvaka. I like the way Hinduism is able to incorporate atheism in its scope of possible approaches to enlightenment.

“Cārvāka is classified as a heterodox Hindu (Nāstika) system. It is characterized as a materialistic and atheistic school of thought. While this branch of Indian philosophy is today not considered to be part of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, some describe it as an atheistic or materialistic philosophical movement within Hinduism.

Cārvāka emerged as an alternative to the orthodox Hindu pro-Vedic Āstika schools, as well as a philosophical predecessor to subsequent or contemporaneous nāstika philosophies such as Ājīvika, Jainism and Buddhism (the latter two later spinning off into what may be described today as separate religions) in the classical period of Indian philosophy. As opposed to other schools, the first principle of Cārvāka philosophy was the rejection of inference as a means to establish metaphysical truths.”

Industrialism with its fragmentation of family life and its reliance on science, has been a fertile ground for anti-religious sentiment. Although as can be seen with the rise of fundamentalist Christianity the ability to separate the evolutionary and Darwinian aspects of scientific inquiry has led to a science that is based on a focus on practical benefits for capitalist enterprises sans the more metaphysical aspects of science. There is a tendency to Scientism in the west that one can see fundamentalism as sort of reaction.

“For sociologists in the tradition of Max Weber, such as Jürgen Habermas, the concept of scientism relates significantly to the philosophy of positivism, but also to the cultural rationalization of the modern West.”

Site with an interesting contrast between Christian and Scientific fundamentalism

Personally I find that the entire debate is interesting and tend to agree with Feyerabend although I am biased in favor of both scientific method and subjective experiences from experiments with psychoactive drugs and meditation practices. Also simple experience, like when you walk into a room and say something that is inappropriate in that context, you feel some sort of emotional warning sign, and that I attribute to a sort of collective unconscious.

“[S]cience can stand on its own feet and does not need any help from rationalists, secular humanists, Marxists and similar religious movements; and… non-scientific cultures, procedures and assumptions can also stand on their own feet and should be allowed to do so… Science must be protected from ideologies; and societies, especially democratic societies, must be protected from science… In a democracy scientific institutions, research programmes, and suggestions must therefore be subjected to public control, there must be a separation of state and science just as there is a separation between state and religious institutions, and science should be taught as one view among many and not as the one and only road to truth and reality.”

— Feyerabend, Against Method, p. viii

It is June 17 and in my experience this is interesting in that I have been reading both Don Juan by Byron and Moby Dick by Melville. I have noticed that yesterday I read in Canto One of Byron’s work, the day June 6th as significant, the day that young Juan is introduced to his infatuation with Donna Julia an older woman and he, like I was seduced at that ripe age by the same, in my case my Spanish teacher. Today in Chapter 4 of Melville’s tome I find the date June 21st as being significant. Also interestingly he describes an experience from childhood of being touched by a cold invisible hand and being frozen in place. “I lay there, frozen with the most awful fears, not daring to drag away my hand; yet ever thinking that if I could but stir it one single inch, the horrid spell would be broken.” Page 29. Well I had exactly that same experience, and even thought to myself if I could only move one finger ever so slightly the spell would be broken. I was in my twenties, living in San Francisco and trapped by what to me was a poltergeist. I awoke frozen, heard keys jingling, whistling, a cold presence and then blowing across my forehead. Frozen I could not move and yet, I made myself move a finger ever so slightly and gradually the power of this unseen presence faded. Is there a moral here, only that literary coincidence is interesting and when it validates a personal experience, liberating, is it scientific, only in the sense that here is something repeated that has happened over a distance of some 150 years. Not exactly laboratory conditions, but repeated none the less.

Science and mystical experiences can and do coincide and in my own experience I am able to contain both without much trouble.

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