Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 26th, 2021

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Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 5:12 pm

Parents Want Justice for Birth Injuries. Hospitals Want to Strip Them of the Right to Make That Decision.`

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Carol Marbin Miller and Daniel Chang, Miami Herald, report in ProPublica:

Ashley Lamendola was still a teen when medical staff at St. Petersburg General Hospital delivered the awful news that would change her life forever: Her newborn son, Hunter, had suffered profound brain damage and would do little more than breathe without help.

“It was like an atomic bomb went off in my life,” she said.

Lamendola believed the hospital was partly responsible for Hunter’s birth injuries. But Florida is one of two states that shield doctors and hospitals from most legal actions arising from births that go catastrophically wrong. Lamendola filed a lawsuit against St. Petersburg General anyway, and when it appeared she was gaining traction, the hospital advanced an extraordinary argument.

It suggested that Hunter’s mother was not acting in her son’s best interest and that a critical decision about his future care should be put in the hands of an independent guardian and a judge. Lamendola, attorneys said, was pursuing her own self-interest by refusing to participate in the quasi-government program that compensates the families of children injured at birth.

Under the program, known as the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, or NICA, the state provides $100,000 upfront and pays for “medically necessary” care for the child’s lifetime. In exchange, parents give up their right to sue hospitals and doctors, lawsuits that can result in judgments or settlements in the tens of millions of dollars.

By choosing to “pursue her own speculative, complicated civil lawsuit” rather than permitting her son to accept his “vested” NICA benefits, Lamendola was trying to profit from Hunter’s injuries, St. Petersburg General attorneys argued in a court filing. They underscored the words “her own.

Had she accepted Hunter’s inclusion in NICA, “the Mother would be unable to pursue her own civil lawsuit, seeking her own separate monetary damages for the Child’s injuries,” the lawyers added.

“You carry a child for nine months, and then you finally get to hold them — eventually in my case,” said Lamendola, who was employed as a customer service rep at an AutoZone when she gave birth. “And you take care of their every want and need, and you put a child before you. I mean, once you have a child, there is no more you. It’s them. It’s us. It’s that baby that needs you and needs everything from you.

“I didn’t understand how somebody who wasn’t me could know what he wants and needs. I knew every sound, every movement, every seizure that he had,” Lamendola said. “And to think that somebody thought they knew better than me. It was wild to me.”

The battle between parents like Lamendola and hospitals like St. Petersburg General can seem like a gross mismatch: Lamendola was a single mom who made $10.50 an hour and lived with her mother. HCA Healthcare, which owns St. Petersburg General, is one of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chains, with 180 hospitals, 280,000 employees and revenues of $51.5 billion in 2020.

For hospitals facing stunningly high settlements or verdicts, NICA, the state’s no-fault program, is a valuable legal tool — a club to bat away expensive lawsuits. At the cost of $50 per live birth, hospitals can protect themselves from multimillion-dollar judgments.

Paolo Annino, who heads the Children’s Advocacy Clinic at the Florida State University College of Law, said attempts to restrict a parent’s authority through the appointment of a guardian are unusual: In child welfare disputes, for example, parents must be found unfit by a judge before being stripped of their right to decide what’s best for their children.

“What we have here is a scenario where there’s no allegation of offending parents at all,” he said. “The parent is, with very few exemptions, the one who makes the child’s health care decisions.”

NICA came under fire this month after  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 1:31 pm

John Milton’s defense of free speech

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Nicholas McDowell has an interesting essay in Aeon. Who is he?

Nicholas McDowell is professor of early modern literature and thought at the University of Exeter. He is the author and editor of several books on the relationship between literature, history and ideas in the 17th century, including The Oxford Handbook of Milton (2009). His most recent book is Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton (2020), the first volume of a two-part intellectual biography of Milton.

So he knows Milton, and here he discusses Areopagitica (full text here). He writes:

Published at the height of the first English Civil War, Areopagitica: A Speech of Mr John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing, to the Parliament of England (1644), remains a powerful defence of free expression. Printing might now have almost given way to digital media as the form in which beliefs and ideas are proposed, argued with and attacked, but the questions raised by Areopagitica about liberty of thought and speech, and more specifically writing, are more urgent than ever. John Milton, the poet who, in Paradise Lost (1667), composed an English epic that could compete with and even surpass the Greek and Latin classics, was also a prose writer of distinction. This fact tends to be eclipsed by his reputation as a poet. But in Areopagitica, he gave Western liberalism some of the language through which it still conceives of itself. It’s both illuminating and salutary, at a moment of crisis in the liberal tradition, to return to the principles that shaped that tradition. At a time when the possibility of civil war in the United States is openly entertained by some, literally as well as metaphorically, we can learn much about the tensions inherent in liberalism by returning to the origins of Milton’s arguments amid the actual civil war that raged in Britain and Ireland in the mid-17th century.

There’s little evidence that what has become Milton’s best-known prose work had any wide impact on the thinking of his contemporaries: one German reader in 1647 suggested that it should be translated into other languages to ‘give it good circulation in other lands where such tyranny reigns’, but he also thought it ‘rather too satirical’ and that its arguments needed to be ‘more moderately set forth’. The real impact of Areopagitica ­– the title alludes to Isocrates’ seventh oration addressed to the Areopagus, the ancient council of Athens – came in later revolutions and in different lands. Thomas Jefferson quoted it, and the comte de Mirabeau’s translation into French went through four editions between 1788 and 1792.

Its eventual influence on British thought is apparent in the echoes of its argument and imagery in John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty (1859), in which Mill insists that freedom of expression is a precondition of a flourishing society. The occasion for George Orwell’s powerful essay ‘The Prevention of Literature’ (1946), in which he considers the twin threats posed to ‘intellectual liberty’ by ‘totalitarianism’ and ‘monopoly and bureaucracy’, was Orwell’s dismay after attending a meeting of the PEN Club – a society founded in 1921 to further intellectual cooperation among writers – to commemorate the tercentenary of the publication of Areopagitica. That ‘no speaker quoted from the pamphlet which was ostensibly being commemorated’ was, for Orwell, an indication of the failure of his contemporaries to live up to the ideals that they claimed to promote.

The resonance of Areopagitica for US ideals of the free exchange of ideas is, however, apparent to anyone who has been to the New York Public Library. A plaque on Library Way bears this quotation from the pamphlet beside an image of a printing press: ‘Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good persons is but knowledge in the making.’ More prominent is the quotation displayed above the entrance to the main reading room, which preserves the original spelling: ‘A good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm’d and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond life.’

These lofty and poetic declarations emerged out of a more prosaic personal context for Milton. The outbreak of civil war between parliament and the Royalist forces of Charles I in 1642 had caused the ecclesiastical and political mechanisms of prepublication licensing in England, according to which every publication had first to be approved by a committee of bishops, to fall into disuse. The early 1640s consequently witnessed an unprecedented spike in the number of publications in England, many of them polemical attacks on the other political side in the civil war. The Westminster Assembly, composed mainly of clerics of various Puritan beliefs, had begun, by 1643, to discuss what forms of worship should replace the structures of the collapsed Church of England. It was in this atmosphere of innovation and revolution that Milton felt that he could publish, in the same year, proposals for a reform of the divorce laws that would enable a husband to separate from a wife on the grounds, not merely of nonconsummation or adultery, but of unhappiness and incompatibility. For Milton, who was 34 at this point, the argument for reform seemingly had a deeply personal impetus: in the early summer of 1642, he had married Mary Powell, but she had left him after little more than a month to return to her family, and hadn’t come back.

The reception of his tract The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1643), which he published anonymously and unlicensed, deeply shocked him: it was condemned by the Puritan clergy as being heretical and intending to foster sexual libertinism, and it was cited in petitions to parliament as evidence of the need to reinstall a system of prepublication licensing. Parliament’s Licensing Order of June 1643 required once again that appointed officers, including clerics, examine books for heterodoxy, sedition and libel before licensing them for printing. It was in response to these attempts to restore prepublication censorship on the grounds of the appearance of his own book on divorce reform, among other books charged with promoting heresy, that Milton issued Areopagitica in November 1644 (again without a licence). Yet, as I show in my intellectual biography of the young Milton, Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton (2020), his interest in these matters wasn’t sudden, nor entirely the result of a sense of personal insult.

Milton had been thinking hard about how censorship and state persecution suppressed intellectual and literary achievement for some years prior to Areopagitica. After leaving Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1632, he had embarked on an intensive period of reading about the history of Europe and became particularly interested in episodes of literary censorship in Italy, the country in which he lived and travelled from 1638 to 1639. In 2014, Milton’s copy of the 1544 edition of Giovanni Boccaccio’s book Vita di Dante (c1360), translated as Life of Dante, was discovered in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, complete with annotations, dating from around 1637 to 1638, that mark Boccaccio’s account of how Dante’s political work On Monarchy (1313) was burnt as a heretical text by the papal authorities. Milton even shows his awareness that Boccaccio’s account of this censorship of Dante was itself later censored and that parts of it are missing from some editions of the Life of Dante, marking in his annotations the passages that were excised by the authorities between editions. In other words, Milton identified a process of double censorship that had been imposed in different centuries on two of the Italian writers whom he most admired.

Milton’s fascination with the topic of censorship and the Catholic Church’s Index of Prohibited Books, before he wrote Areopagitica, is evident also in his surviving commonplace book, a manuscript notebook compiled mostly during the late 1630s and early 1640s, in which he gathered a list of  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 1:06 pm

Defund the police? Instead, end toxic masculinity and ‘warrior cops’

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Angela Workman-Stark, Associate Professor, Organizational Behaviour, Athabasca University, writes in The Conversation:

The police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd has been convicted in Minneapolis amid continued calls for defunding or abolishing police forces — not just in the United States, but in Canada and other places that have also grappled with police brutality.

The problem with these proposals is that they’re presented as solutions to police abuse without an appreciation that some element of coercive authority will still be required in society. Consequently, these efforts are unlikely to be successful.

Many of the calls for drastic change highlight the failure of police reform efforts. While many attempts at change have met with limited success, I suggest the reason for these outcomes is not because change is impossible; it’s more to do with an unwillingness to confront systemic issues within police forces.

For example, the former commissioner of the RCMP indicated that workplace misconduct and other forms of abusive behaviour were simply the actions of a few “rotten apples.”

As a former chief superintendent with the RCMP, where I held leadership roles implementing cultural change within the organization, I believe this statement ignores the potential potency of the police socialization process and what happens when new recruits come in the door.

An emphasis on danger and risk

From the early days of training, police recruits are socialized by war stories that glamorize the dangerous aspects of police work and place an exaggerated focus on the mission of police to deal with danger as the supposed gatekeepers of society.

Ultimately, these narratives shape expectations of what it means to be a “real” police officer. For some individuals, becoming a real police officer means doing the dirty work that no one else wants to do, including whatever it takes to put “bad guys” in jail.

But rather than promoting an image of police working with communities to solve problems, this emphasis on physicality and fighting crime has helped craft the image of the “warrior cop” who is ready to do battle and is isolated from the public.

The continued preoccupation with danger and crime control means that aggression, competitiveness and physical action are often associated with the image of the ideal police officer.

To determine who fits in and who doesn’t, clear distinctions are frequently made between the tasks of “real policing” and those discounted as feminine, such as the prevention aspects of the job.

Building on prior studies, my research shows that the pressure to conform and fit in can be so intense that officers engage in masculinity contests (the competitive pursuit of workplace status that is defined by traditionally “masculine” rules) by adopting these supposedly desirable forms of masculinity and avoiding any actions that might be deemed weak or unmanly.

Toxic masculinity

As noted in a report on sexual harassment within the RCMP, when masculinity contest norms are endorsed by police organizations, they can have grave consequences for the women (and even men) who are viewed as a weak fit.

In addition to officers hiding poor health or taking excessive risks, I also illustrate in my research how . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

And to illustrate how police training currently instills destructive ideas and dangerous values, watch this clip from a police training session

Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 11:44 am

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: He botched it.

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Teju Ravilochan wrote a piece for GatherFor: on Medium. The thrust reflects the priorities and purposes of the group, which is based in New York City and works to develop and network small community groups to build community belonging and resilience. The piece begins:

Some months ago, I was catching up with my dear friend and board member, Roberto Rivera. As an entrepreneur and community organizer with a doctorate and Lin-Manuel-Miranda-level freestyle abilities, he is a teacher to me in many ways. I was sharing with him that for a long time, I’ve struggled with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The traditional interpretation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is that humans need to fulfill their needs at one level before we can advance to higher levels.

Maslow’s idea emerged and was informed by his work with the Blackfeet Nation through conversations with elders and inspiration from the shape and meaning of the Blackfoot tipi. Maslow’s idea has been criticized for misrepresenting the Blackfoot worldview, which instead places self-actualization as a basis for community-actualization and community-actualization as a basis for cultural perpetuity, the latter of which exists at the top of the tipi in Blackfoot philosophy.

The Blackfoot Tipi

This is a slide from a presentation by Cindy Blackstock, a member of the Gitksan First Nation and University of Alberta Professor, shared in Karen Lincoln Michel’s blog. She describes Maslow’s theory as “a rip off of the Blackfoot nation.”

Maslow’s Failure to Elevate the Blackfoot Model

Continue reading. There’s much more.

It does strike me that in the US today the prevailing view of individuality above all — one’s own individual desires and needs being paramount, with community needs much less in the picture — has resulted in some bad outcomes for all.

Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 11:01 am

A Scar on His Soul: A conversation with a Vietnam veteran

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Stephen Chamberlain has an interesting article on Medium, which begins:

Fifty years have passed and the trauma and memories of a 12-month hitch in Vietnam have not faded a bit.

John volunteered for the Army in 1969 when he was 19 years old. The war in Vietnam was raging and he knew it. Joining the Army was not something a kid did if he wanted to avoid combat. John knew he was signing up for trouble but did it anyway out of a sense of blind patriotism. There was no way a 19-year-old New York boy understood the politics or rationale for the war. Like so many of us he felt it was the right thing to do.

I wonder what he’d have done if he realized that although he’d survive the war, he’d carry the trauma with him for the rest of a long life. Would he still have signed up? Probably.

He was trained as a Combat Engineer, that is he drove a bulldozer, which served as a primitive method to remove landmines and clear roads.

John, now 71, enlisted in the army just before the Woodstock music festival and then requested a deferral until he could attend the event. The good old Army assented, affording him the opportunity to precede one life altering event with another. After seeing his favorite performer, Janis Joplin, on the stage he headed off to boot camp.

Woodstock to Saigon

Three months after Woodstock, shorn of his hair and his individuality, he was one of many young Americans about to be transported out of the world they had known to a violent, unfamiliar and bewildering world that would never leave them. Nothing that happened to John in the years prior to his tour in Vietnam or the decades after — including the loss of his son to a fentanyl overdose — would mark him more than 12 months in Southeast Asia — risking his life for unknown reasons, fighting people who were unknown to him in a place that was unknown to him.

Dozing for Mines

One of his duties was using the dozer to plow up potential landmines. He  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 10:27 am

Posted in Army, Daily life, Military

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“Dominion”: A full-length film about the relationship between human and non-human animals

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Watch this film to see the degree to which it reflects your own values and outlook.

Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 9:51 am

Punctuation in novels

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Punctuation in Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (left) and in Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (right).

Adam J Calhoun has an interesting article in Medium from a few years back:

When we think of novels, of newspapers and blogs, we think of words. We easily forget the little suggestions pushed in between: the punctuation. But how can we be so cruel to such a fundamental part of writing?

Inspired , I wondered what did my favorite books look like without words. Can you tell them apart or are they all a-mush? In fact, they can be quite distinct. Take my all-time favorite book, Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. It is dense prose stuffed with parentheticals. When placed next to a novel with more simplified prose — Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy — it is a stark difference (see above).

Yes, the contrast is stark. But the wild mix of symbols can be beautiful, too. Look at the array of dots and dashes above! [omitted here; click link to see – LG] This morse code is both meaningless and yet so meaningful. We can look and say: brief sentence; description; shorter description; action; action; action.

Want to see more? I have a few posters of books up on and . Why not print out all of the punctuation of Pride And Prejudice and cover your walls?

As I mentioned above, the difference between these novels is stark. Look at the contribution of each type of punctuation: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 9:06 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Writing

The wonderful Monday-morning shave, today with the superb Fine slant

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Monday shaves are exceptional in that I get to shave a two-day stubble, and for that task I prefer a slant — and today’s slant is now one of my favorites.

But prep first. I of course started with Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave, and then today elected Creed’s Green Irish Tweed shaving soap, which made a high-class lather thanks in part to the Plisson HMW 12 shown in the photo whose handle, as you see, is horn.

The Fine slant is such a great razor IF you maintain light pressure and a good blade angle (which has the handle far from your face, the razor riding on the cap’s edge). Three passes left my face with ultimate smoothness and totally undamaged: a perfect shave.

A splash of Barrister & Mann’s Fougère Classique finished the job. He said he may bring this one back. If he does, get a bottle. It’s the best fougère aftershave I have.

Written by Leisureguy

26 April 2021 at 8:34 am

Posted in Shaving

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