email to africa

(I wrote this to a friend who is with the Peace Corps in Africa and decided to post it to the blog.)

A fellow guerilla poet has gone to Palestine to be a human shield, to witness the situation there. Imagine, we need witnesses in Miami. Have you heard about the police riot? FTAA meetings in Miami, 6,000 police. The beatings and arrests and intimidation, and denial of first amendment rights has gone on for days. I think it will backfire, but right now the mainstream media is absolutely still. Not a word. In Florida the news media are expressing gratitude to the police for controlling the demonstrators. But these are peaceful demonstrators. What’s to control? They were smart, the demonstrators, they went around to downtown businesses the week before and talked to the owners and told them what they were there for and what they were going to do and asked them to stay open. Many of them did. They appreciated the fact that the activists informed them of their intentions. These people could be activists allies. They have a glimmer of what was really going on.

The New York Times reports that the FBI has a report which says that demonstrators take photos of the police to intimidate them. Imagine that. They must be terrified all those cameras shooting at them.

history is fluid

Been doing research, delving into the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance period. Here are some interesting tidbits that have debunked some assumptions I held about life in those times. Only about 10% of European women apparantly died in childbirth. The median age at which people married for the first time was not in the teens, but most commonly in their 20s. I am suspecting that a great many of our assumptions about the 17th century and prior centuries, are fictions developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, most particularly the 19th. With the abrupt shift from rural to urban, from agricultural to industrial economy, and the religioius paradigm moving from deist toward scientific, academics, historians, economists, and the industrialists who influenced all the others were deeply vested in writing recent history in terms that tended to cast the social conventions and life experience of those previous centuries in a negative light and by contrast to make the new wonderful industrial age seem to be a step forward in a continuum of progress.

The idea that a large number of women died giving birth may have been promoted by the relatively new profession of medical doctors. An attempt to draw women away from the practice of being attended by midwifes and toward reliance on doctors certainly would have been enhanced by the belief that birthing was a kind of medical emergency rather than a natural event with some inherent risk. It would be interesting to find out if mortality among birthing women increased during the 19th century when women of all economic classes were increasingly relying on the medical profession.

History is fluid.

by pattyjo