Fascinating History Files – The NY Doctors Riot of 1788

This amazing story intersects two interesting historical lines: the history of New York and the history of medicine. So much of medical knowledge to this day is imparted by the study of cadavers. But how early medical students got those cadavers was controversial to many in a less ethically structured, more superstitious time.

A very large riot took place in 1788 New York, in which as many as 20 people were killed, over the collection of cadavers by the medical students at Columbia College.

The New York Doctors Riot was just one in a stream of so-called “anatomy riots” that plagued the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Medical historian Michael Sappol has counted at least 17 such incidents between 1765 and 1854, in New Haven, Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia. These riots were sparked by anger over dissections and grave-robbing, which was how most schools got their bodies, since there was no legal supply. People saw grave-robbing as an affront to the honor of the dead and the sacred nature of graveyards, and dissection frightened many Christians who believed that only complete bodies could be resurrected. Dissection also had a veneer of criminality: in England, the only legal source of bodies was executed criminals, and many saw anatomical dissection as an extra layer of punishment suitable only for the wicked.

Students generally got their cadavers from the Negroes Burial Ground outside the city proper with little controversy except for those that saw the entire business as sacrilegious; however, fear mongers of the day passed around rumors of white people’s bodies being stolen from more hallowed city cemeteries (like Trinity Cemetery in lower Manhattan where Alexander Hamilton is buried). True or not, this outraged people who didn’t much respect or understand the early practitioners of medicine anyway, and so the horrific stories spreading around the City smacked of such ghoulishness that people were outraged to riot. At the time, New York was the Capitol of the young nation (it still had that new nation smell in 1788) and such founding fathers as Alexander Hamilton (while still alive) and (soon to be first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) John Jay were involved in stemming the riots.

Fascinating stuff. To me, at least.

Totally trivial historical side note: Duane Street in lower Manhattan was named after Mayor James Duane. At the corner of Duane and Reade streets in 1960 a drug store was opened that became the largest chain of drug stores in the New York area:  Duane Reade. That chain was eventually purchased by Bain Capital. Coincidence? Yeah, totally.

The Funny Things You See When You Travel

The Funny Things You See When You Travel

People live on, and get mail delivered to, their homes on Small Pox Trail. Now that’s an interesting address.

Near Kingston, Rhode Island by the University. I imagine this is where they infected the blankets that killed off the native population so there was some pride in that, way back when.

Tell Me Palin Hasn’t Converted to Judaism.


Amazed she wears a Star of David rather than cloves of garlic around her neck. 

Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods (hat tip Charlie Pierce) last night threatened to maybe go rogue to the max and go THIRD PARTY nuclear on the GOPs ass. 

I’ve long predicted a massive party ending schism for the GOP coming by 2016. The activities of the last week in Mississippi have outraged the Tea Party base. They were already at war with the establishment, as the establishment kept creeping ever rightward to appease every one of the TPs malignantly stupid impulses: stop minorities from voting – check; abortion restrictions – check; birth control illegal – check. But now it’s like they’re both going Chicago on each other, the insurgents whacking Eric Cantor and the establishment bringing out their tommy guns to save Thad Cochran’s bony white ass.

Between the Tea Party, the Rand Paul libertarians and the establishment crony greedheads, something’s got to give with the party of the big grift. 

Just have to point out the delicious brilliance of this paragraph:

“Well if Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what’s the use in getting all gung-ho about getting more Republicans in there? We need people who understand the beauty of…. the value of … allowing  free market to thrive. Otherwise our country is going to be continued to be over-regulated, driving industry away, driving jobs away. We’re going to be a bankrupt, fundamentally transformed country unless those who know what they’re doing, and aren’t going along just to get along with those in power, it being today the Democrats. That does no good. So yeah if Republicans aren’t going to stand strong on the planks in our platform then it does no good to get all enthused about them anymore.”

That woman is an idiot.

Another Shoe Drops on Christie (f/k/a The Luckiest Man in America)

With the GWB lane blockage investigation, the Hoboken intimidation, the Pulaski Skyway misappropriation, I count this story as the fourth shoe to drop as newspapers and the like commit actual journalism to show what a nasty, bullying, partisan, thieving, corrupt, blowhard piece of crap Chris Christie is.

Christie’s administration has granted $1.25 Billion in taxpayer funds to GOP donors since 2012. 

Corporations that contributed millions of dollars to the Chris Christie-led Republican Governors Association and other GOP campaigns have received public funding deals worth almost $1.25bn from his New Jersey administration in less than two years.

Just a shame that so little journalism was committed BEFORE his reelection. New Jersey actually needs some real leadership but we’re stuck with a zombie lame duck governor. At least all this scrutiny may slow down his political steamroller. The Dems in Trenton should be pretty empowered by now, you know, rather than the fat ass kissing toadies they were until the GWB scandal broke.

Love, Love, Love Ikea!

The 50 cent hot dogs and frozen yogurt, the Swedish meatballs par excellence and of course Bille! Now Ikea is raising the minimum wage for their U.S. workers and linking it to a living wage calculator for their locations!

The famous seller of ready-to-assemble home goods will base the wage floor for each of its stores on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which estimates what salary a worker would need in order to get by in a particular geographic area.

Go Bille, Go!

Civil War in Iraq and the GOP are Similar Failures

The Tea Party and ISIS are brothers from other mothers. Much, much darker mothers, but just as angry and well armed.

These things don’t happen overnight, they brew and bubble like a witch’s cauldron for years, or decades or even centuries. When US forces invaded Iraq in 2003 in order to achieve for George W. Bush the venerated status of “double war president” they removed the scab from the long festering Sunni/Shia conflict. The only thing that seems to soothe such worried and bloodthirsty brows are strong arm maniacs like Saddam Hussein. Like a game of human Jenga, when Saddam was removed the tower was inevitably coming down. We spent 9 years propping up, fighting and bribing anything that moved in order to keep the tower standing.

Maliki’s “government”, if that term can be so loosely used, of course made no effort to heal the wound by bringing Sunnis in and making them a part of the process. A strong leader would have lead an effort of reconciliation and forgiveness in Iraq. The weak and doomed Malaki government would not, so the wildings out in the hinterlands gathered their resentments and their AKs to march on Baghdad.

Meanwhile, back in the States, venal, cowering Republicans like Eric Cantor have paid lip service to the Tea Party since it’s rise as the culmination of 30 years of hard right propaganda reincarnating the John Birch society as the right flank of a Southern rump party. The weak Republican establishment wed themselves first to the Moral Majority and Christian Right in the late 70s in order to elect Reagan and before long the entire party was spouting nonsense they couldn’t imagine themselves saying a few years before. They began the expelling of moderates as the party of Eisenhower and Nixon, managers and statesmen of varying degrees of honesty, became the party of Falwell and Limbaugh.

They were happy to take the votes of the self-righteous and kowtow to their evangelical beliefs and ends-justify-the-means mentality in order to win the presidency- and repaid them with absolutely no movement on their social issues.  Abortion is legal and prayer in schools isn’t, sorry fellas, keep the money and votes flowing Republican and someday we can change that (Not!)!  And then as they lost 5 of 6 popular votes and found themselves becoming a Southern rump party, the true believers that had been brainwashed by 30 years of talk radio bluster and bullshit rose up to say that they were the one true faith and they weren’t going to stand for party apostasy anymore.  They were sent by God to save the party and the country from the black man who won the White House.

The Tea Party may have begun as a fake grassroots movement financed by Koch Brothers money and organized by Dick Armey’s Americans for Prosperity, but soon the motivated dupes decided that they were the party and the establishment could not control them. Not that surprising that milquetoasts like Michael Steele, Reince Priebus and John Boehner found themselves overwhelmed by firebreathers like Palin, Cruz and the talk radio beast. But to this day they are unable to admit it. They still say in public that they can control the monster, that it won’t destroy them too. Unlike Chief Brody, they see the Great White Tea Party coming but do not realize they need a bigger boat.

The Republican Party of Reagan was bad enough, but now it is the fundamentalist Tea Party, the American Taliban with no mechanism to weed out the fringe, the crazies – the nutty uncle whose rants you ignored at Thanksgiving is now your representative in Washington due to a weak GOP and gerrymandering.

As Republicans keep saying about foreign policy – weakness does indeed invite monsters to fill the vacuum – if only they’d taken the same advice about their own party.

Obamacare Moving Forward – More Insurers Want In for 2015

Haven’t heard much complaining about Obamacare lately because it seems to be working and not bringing down society as a whole in any appreciable way. The latest good news that will have to be ignored by the media (who if they do not have something bad to say, say nothing at all) is that in every state more insurers want in. Hm, must be looking profitable.  Which, since it’s a market based system and not in any way socialism, is a good thing. 

Last week we saw where Minnesota had hit 95% insured for their population.

So the GOP can run against Obamacare in 2014 all they want. Go for it!

Tesla is Opening its Patents to the Open Source Crowd

Dr. Salk gave away his patent to the Polio vaccine for the sake of the world. This may not be quite in that league of selflessness, but it’s not that far off.

In short, Tesla is opening up its patents to competitors. Like so many of Musk’s ideas, it sounds crazy but might just be brilliant.

Tesla, Musk explains, was founded with the goal of taking electric cars mainstream. At the outset, it filed patents like any other company, because it was worried that bigger automakers would simply copy its technology and drive it of business. Instead, with a few exceptions, major automakers have continued to ignore alternatives to gasoline-powered engines. And Musk has decided that’s even worse.

The faster battery technology can move forward and we can stop burning carbon the better for the future of humanity on Earth. So, it’s a pretty goddamn big deal. Elon Musk, good on ya!