To human eyes there are some 7-10± million different colors in the color-spectrum the eyes can process through various ophthalmological stages for the brain to interpret. Even though there are seemingly that many hues of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, the visibility and tidal wave of so many colors depends on the amount of sunlight available reflecting off of everything we gaze upon. But here’s another delightful twist to our fondness for nature’s bursts upon her color-palate: rainfall. Yes, water plays a huge role in the chances of what we might possibly see and perceive on her outdoor canvas.
There are other variables involved, not excluding warmer temperatures, shorter winters, and in the western United States wildfires prior to saturating rains, that have prepared for this 2019 Spring to probably be the best super bloom of germination, eye-popping stimulation surpassing the last two remarkable spring seasons! California’s super blooms are well-known nationally. This year Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas—to name just three more states—will join in these showstopping color festivals visible even from space. Care to get a quick glimpse of what splashes and vistas we are likely about to witness over several states?
On a cellular biological level it continues to dazzle me how given enough time life adapts in order to not only survive, but thrive and do so with such spectacular beauty. And think of how busy all of the thousands and thousands of different pollinators, butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, snapdragons, even ants to name only five, as part of a grande symphonic crescendo to masterpiece and finale. Each instrument contributes their important part to this extravaganza of biological flora we call life, a super bloom enmasse, the Super Bloom of 2019. I wish the show lasted longer than a few weeks because all this botanical beauty does my mind and body a world of good!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Just like as in a nest of boxes round, Degrees of sizes in each box are found: So, in this world, may many others be Thinner and less, and less still by degree: Although they are not subject to our sense, A world may be no bigger than two-pence. Nature is curious, and such works may shape, Which our dull senses easily escape: For creatures, small as atoms, may there be, If every one a creature’s figure bear. If atoms four, a world can make, then see What several worlds might in an ear-ring be: For, millions of those atoms may be in The head of one small, little, single pin. And if thus small, then ladies may well wear A world of worlds, as pendents in each ear.
—— Margaret Cavendish, “Of Many Worlds in This World“
Music: “Ocean” by Azam Ali & Loga Ramin Torkian from the album, Lamentation of Swans: A Journey Towards Silence
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
In Part I the various forms of ignorance raised five studied categories with applicable questions. For example, when does knowledge create ignorance? Ignorance for whom? Against whom? Selection and suppression are key factors influencing rise, stagnation, or fall among civilizations, organizations, or families. Recognizing how certain tactics impact you and those people goes a long way toward composing, testing, and restructuring the best available actions and reactions benefitting, as best as possible, the greater good. As A.B. Hill elaborates:
“All scientific work is incomplete — whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, or to postpone actions that it appears to demand at a given time.
Who knows, asked Robert Browning… [truthfully], but on available evidence most of us make ready to commute on the 8:30 next day.”
These are the wonderful rewards of living and working within a free open-system of inquiry, probabilities, plausibilities, and collective consensus! There is typically more — more accuracy in knowledge, more progress, and more accountability. As a slight apology, I realize this Part II post reached over 5,100 words. On the contrary, its content is so critical, so vastly unknown today by the general American public that I just could not reduce its word-count anymore than I have. I hope you’ll understand why when finished reading.
As I mentioned in Part I, in this post I am stepping extensively into manufactured uncertainty and ignorance, as well as into some women’s social and political issues, their implied status now and treatment throughout history with regard to learned forms of ignorance. However, I will do my best to allow women like Dr. Nancy Tuana and other highly credible female experts to do the talking as much as possible. Experience has taught me in the arena of Feminism, as a bumbling male at times, this is a wise and healthier approach. 😀
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In the world of athletic sporting events such as the Olympics, or the FIFA World Cup—both held only every four years—during the ensuing three years between, excitement and anticipation build to a fever pitch. In American sports in 2016 the three major pro leagues of football, baseball, and basketball raked in a mind-boggling $27.3-billion in revenues. Viewing the HowMuch.net infographic below it is easy to see just how much in dollars and socioeconomic values professional sports and their fans impact the entire globe.
In those stadiums and arenas of competition, both in the front and back offices, locker rooms, television broadcasting and sponsorships, in sports pubs and bars, and family homes, with that much annual revenues and profits flowing, how well do you think it would go over (to everyone in sports concerned) if none of these leagues, franchises, owners, players, and administrative offices had any sort of referees, umpires, or league policies and procedures? Zero. Would it upset some fans? To remain successful and winning, how would players and owners react to no enforcement of any league or game rules? Would parity exist? For how long might it exist?
Whether on the field of competitive sports or in the daily market-place, unchecked, all the worst human faults and ugly behaviors would run wild. Dog-eat-dog and survival of the fittest as they say… or rather the smartest, quickest, and most cunning would soon dominate. Those born disadvantaged would have dreadful, bleak, survival odds. Like it or not, the world and each of us NEED referees and umpires of integrity to keep the playing field equal and fair not just for survival, but for the innate right of livelihood for all.
Consequences of Deregulation or No Regulation The effects and impact of regulation, deregulation, or no regulation are never more central than in protecting the domains of public health and its environment where our health resides. This is more crucial for those who are disadvantaged and gullible, for unique reasons, and therefore are susceptible to acts of diversion and deceit. Following are five historical cases Dr. David Michaels, PhD, published concerning manufactured uncertainty and sustained ignorance.
Tobacco, Disease, and Doubt — in the early 1950’s as health researchers were discovering and publishing the negative effects of smoking, the tobacco industry launched major campaigns of counter-measures. “Doubt is our product” was one primary rallying cry directed to The Tobacco Institute, the industry’s voice or bullhorn defense against medical science as instructed via memorandum from Hill & Knowlton, Inc., one of the industry’s major public relations firms. With millions of dollars invested from large and small tobacco companies into these doubt campaigns, the success set the precedent for future successes against other scientific communities and their protection of public health and the environment, such as the effects of climate change.
VIOXX — and Merck. Before the FDA could approve Merck’s blockbuster pain-relief rofecoxib hit drugstore shelves, health professionals were finding and reporting in 1999, 2000, and 2004 the drug increased the risks of heart disease. With 88,000 – 139,000 heart attacks (30% – 40% fatal) attributed to rofecoxib, over four years later the drug was finally banned in November 2004. “On Friday, a Texas jury found Merck liable for the death of Robert C. Ernst, who died in May 2001 after taking Vioxx” reported the New York Times journalist. During the case it was found that Merck executives knew of the increased cardiac risks, but intentionally mislead physicians and the FDA in numerous documented company communications.
Beryllium — is a rare element in our universe produced by cosmic ray collisions. It increases the yield of nuclear explosions and thus has been highly valued in the U.S. production of weapons systems throughout the Cold War. As is corroborated by InvestorIntel.com, U.S. weapons manufacturers today dominate the beryllium market at more than 87% share of the world output. The revenues and profits are naturally a guiding economic force and investor’s criteria. The downside to beryllium manufacturing is exposure and lung disease, known as Chronic Beryllium Disease. Once again because of precedents set, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the DOE (Department of Energy) were constantly misinformed by the Department of Defense and funding-PR work by Brush-Wellman (now Materion Corp) the leading U.S. producer of beryllium products, that CBD-exposure was below hazard-standards and sporadic. Floor supervisors at Brush-Wellman were told by executives that when asked about CBD-exposure answer news reporters with more questions and uncertainty. This tactic leads us to another well-funded doubt campaign: PPA.
Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) — this particular case with PPA manufacturers and the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is a glaring use of well-funded misdirection and selling doubt. In the early 1970’s young females began suffering from hemorrhagic strokes when taking PPA. When these strokes were reported to the Mayo Clinic, only 20-years later did the FDA begin looking into the safety of the drug. Why 20-years? The manufacturers of PPA — organized together as the NDMA — were denying it was their drug causing the hemorrhagic strokes. They had hired and funded Yale University School of Medicine to study the effects of PPA. They also constructed the study to be approved by the FDA. In October 1999 when the results were finalized, the Yale study confirmed the link between PPA and hemorrhagic strokes. Did the NDMA remove the drug from pharmacy shelves? No. Instead they hired the Weinberg Group to attack the Yale study and science. The annual sales of PPA were well over $500-million despite over 200-500 men and women suffering strokes between ages 18 and 49 using the drug. These tactics stalled the removal of PPA from the market long enough (in 2000) to redesign them for a ready-made replacement that kept the flow of profits going — at the expense of crippled or deceased consumers. On their company website the Weinberg Group gloated* about their success for the NDMA.
The Funding Effect that $500-million in sales for an industry can elicit against protective science is a modern corporate tactic never to be ignored or taken lightly.
Funding Effect & BPA — When there is a close correlation between the desired results of a study by a study’s funders and the reported results of that study, it is called the funding effect. Dr. Richard Smith, M.D., a member of CBE and former editor of the British Medical Journal explains:
“Why are pharmaceutical companies getting the results they want? … The companies seem to get the results they want not by fiddling the results, which would be far too crude and possibly detectable by peer review, but rather by asking the “right” questions — and there are many ways to do this [see list below] … There are many ways to hugely increase the chance of producing favourable results, and there are many hired guns who will think up new ways and stay one jump ahead of peer reviewers.” — Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies, by Dr. Richard Smith, May 2005
With regard to BPA, an environmental estrogen used in polycarbonate plastic found in canned foods and dental sealants, exposure to low doses of the poly-plastic was found to alter human endocrine functions. At the time there were many conflicting reports. In response to the negative reports, the American Plastics Council employed the services of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis to dispute the reports and found that the effects of BPA exposure were inconclusive. A separate group of scientists felt the HCRA study was too small given the number of studies already done. When reexamining the some 115 separate assessments of BPA exposure conducted in addition to the much smaller samples by the HCRA, the conclusions were drastically different! What was found to be more disturbing was…
“90% (94 of 104) of the studies paid for with government funds reported an effect associated with BPA exposure; not a single one of the 11 corporate funded studies found an effect.” — Protecting Public Health in the Age of Contested Science and Product Defense, David Michaels, Ph.D., M.P.H., Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, pp. 156-157
A New Regulatory Paradigm The debates, controversies surrounding corporate funding-effects versus independent science, the millions-to-billions of dollars involved, and the risks posed to public health and our environment has created another industry niche that could be termed as Product Manufacturing Defense. In recent years these law and consulting firms have popped up to oppose independent science panels they label as “Private Surgeon Generals.” Here is one such lucrative strategy the firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP in New York, NY advertises and utilizes:
“Private Surgeons General seek to force manufacturers and retailers of food, consumer and household products to post Surgeon General-like warnings, change package labels and advertising and refund hundreds of millions of dollars to unharmed and otherwise perfectly happy consumers who purchased perfectly healthful and untainted products. Why? Because a substance shown in the ingredient list is claimed to be dangerous or a statement in the product advertising or label is claimed to be misleading.”
In the fight to return and maintain the scientific integrity in federal policymaking, the Union of Concerned Scientists published their January 2017 report detailing why more transparency is needed due to past conduct between manufacturers, agencies, science, and their possible bias. No records of gross misconduct are greater, writes the UCS, than what took place during George W. Bush’s administration:
“Bush administration officials manipulated, misrepresented, and suppressed inconvenient data and censored experts. They systematically chose science advisors based on ideology rather than scientific credentials, they prevented federal scientists from sharing their research and expertise, and they rewrote scientific reports to help justify predetermined policy decisions.
The evidence is clear: when policymakers undermine science, the public is left with laws and regulations that leave them exposed to unnecessary danger.”
It is very apparent that some/many industry-related research is not published, or distorted, or delayed until financially-covering alternatives are in place at the expense of health and/or environmental risks and consequences, some irreversible. Government laws and regulations—our referees and umpires of the highest integrity—must be in place for pure independent research and results to be readily accessible. More importantly, to offer the public and our environment parity-protection from well-funded Congressional lobbyists and biased product defense firms, our federal agencies such as OSHA and the EPA must have the best impartial, scientific information available! A two-way street of the funding for the science and possible conflicts of interest encourages transparency and integrity for these agencies to make informed regulatory policy-decisions.
In many ways Western civilization has only just departed the Dark Ages concerning women’s necessary place in all of society. The lethargy belongs squarely on two agents: Men and ignorance. For over a millenia, going back to ancient Greece, any mental or emotional “peculiarities” of a woman’s behavior would be diagnosed as hysteria by doctors; and all doctors were male. It was believed the hysteria was caused by a disorderly wandering uterus. This irregular behavior, as the story goes, led to the invention of the vaginal vibrators as treatment! Until the 21st century some of Emily Dickinson’s passionate works were little known, suppressed by men in positions of power:
“Wild nights — Wild nights! Were I with thee Wild nights should be Our luxury!
Futile – the winds – To a Heart in port – Done with the Compass – Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden – Ah – the Sea! Might I but moor – tonight – In thee!”
Her publisher was horrified and distraught over whether to publish those first four lines due to “social norms” of 1860’s patriarchal puritan America.
By the 1800’s male doctors noticed the time-correlation between “hysteria” and PMS. By the 1900’s male doctors and medical societies were linking menstrual insanity with tuberculosis and sexual molestation. Fortunately, modern medical science has greatly dispelled the myths concerning women’s bodies, but there is a long bumpy road still ahead with respect to eliminating all the ignorance.
Dr. Nancy Tuana reasons that what a group or person knows cannot fully be appreciated unless the unknowns are equally appreciated and who the knowledge or ignorance benefits or handicaps. It is an area that Dr. Tuana says:
“Female sexuality is a particularly fertile area for tracking the intersections of power/knowledge-ignorance. Scientific and commonsense knowledge of female orgasm has a history that provides a rich lens for understanding the importance of explicitly including epistemologies of ignorance alongside our theories of knowledge.”
Dr. Tuana closely examines seven subjects concerning women’s bodies and pleasures for a contemporary understanding: Epistemologies of Orgasms, Unveiling the Clitoris, Fingering Truth, The Issue of Pleasure, The Either/Or of Women’s Orgasms, Sisterhood Is Powerful, and finally Bodies and Pleasures. As mentioned before, I will let Dr. Tuana do most of the speaking and attempt to single out her key points within the first three areas.
Epistemologies of Orgasms The 19th century constructed and taught that sex, and women’s bodies and pleasures were a “problem of truth.” Dr. Tuana goes on…
“Can my investigations of the power dimensions of ignorance concerning women’s orgasms not fall prey to a constructed desire for the “truth of sex”?
…The bodies of my attention are those of women; the pleasures those of orgasm. But bodies and pleasures are not outside the history and deployment of sex-desire. Bodies and pleasures will not remove me, the epistemic subject, from the practice of desiring truth. Bodies and pleasures, as [Michel] Foucault well knew, have histories. Indeed the bodies that I trace are material-semiotic interactions of organisms, environments, cultures. Bodies and their pleasures are not natural givens, not even deep down. Nor do I believe in a true female sexuality hidden deep beneath the layers of oppressive socialization. But women’s bodies and pleasures provide a fertile lens for understanding the workings of power/knowledge-ignorance in which we can trace who desires what knowledge; that is, we can glimpse the construction of desire (or lack thereof) for knowledge of women’s sexuality. I also believe that women’s bodies and pleasures can, at this historical moment, be a wellspring for resisting sexual normalization.”
Hence, Dr. Tuana begins with the clitoris.
Unveiling the Clitoris Remarkably most adults in America, including university campuses, know more about the penis than they do about women’s genitalia and pleasures. In her many years of teaching at Penn State University, when Dr. Tuana has asked her students to sketch a drawing (from memory) of a woman’s internal and external sexual organs they are vague and typically exclude the clitoris.
“This pattern of knowledge-ignorance mirrors a similar pattern in scientific representations of female and male genitalia. Although the role of the clitoris in female sexual satisfaction is scientifically acknowledged, and well-known by most of us, the anatomy and physiology of the clitoris, particularly its beginnings and ends, is still a contested terrain. A brief history of representations of the clitoris provides an interesting initial entry into the epistemology of ignorance.
As I and many other theorists have argued, until the nineteenth century, men’s bodies were believed to be the true form of human biology and the standard against which female structures — bones, brains, and genitalia alike — were to be compared. The clitoris fared no differently. Medical science held the male genitals to be the true form, of which women’s genitals were a colder, interior version.
Even after the “two-sex” model became dominant in the nineteenth century, with its view of the female not as an underdeveloped male but as a second gender with distinctive gender differences, the clitoris got short shrift. It was often rendered a simple nub, which though carefully labeled, was seldom fleshed out or made a focus of attention.”
Not until the 1980’s did women’s health take another grand step forward in medical science. “…the clitoris expanded in size and configuration to include three structures: the shaft, the glans, and the crura.” Yet, this new expansion still fell short.
“But none of these [medical] texts focuses attention on coming to understand the sexual response patterns of these and other bits. Feminist imagery diverges significantly from nonfeminist in providing us far more detailed views of the impact of sexual stimulation on the glans and crura of the clitoris, as well as the labia majora and the bulbs of the vestibule, the latter of which possess a very extensive blood vessel system that becomes very engorged during arousal, doubling, even tripling in size, we are told, during sexual arousal… The always-found illustrations of male erections… are now accompanied by an illustration of female erections, …something absent in nonfeminist texts. Feminist texts also lovingly detail the other bits that are part of our seat of delight. Reminding us that the clitoris, impressive though it be, is not our only sensitive bit, feminists also provide us with images of the urethral sponge that lies between the front wall of the vagina and the urethra, which expands with blood during sexual arousal… It was this structure that was allegedly “discovered” with Columbus-like gusto (Christopher, this time, not Renaldus) by Ernst Graffenburg and popularized as the “G-spot.” Although a few nonfeminist anatomical illustrations, post-Graffenburg, provide us glimpses of this pleasurable sponge, apparently neither they nor Graffenburg have gotten the hang of the feminist speculum, for they continue to overlook feminist presentations of the other sponge, the perineal sponge located between the vagina and the rectum, which also engorged when a woman is sexually aroused… Pressure on any of these engorged structures can result in pleasure and orgasm.”
Thus, clearly the clitoris and her compliments are far more than a simple nub.
Fingering Truth How has the clitoris historically and socially remained as a mere nub? Because I am male I think it more wise to yield the floor to Dr. Tuana in her own words. She explains:
“Despite fifteen years of clear illustrations of this [modern] view of clitoral structures, our impact has been surprisingly minimal, at least so far. A review of anatomical illustrations in standard college human sexuality textbooks reveals a surprising lack of attention to the functions and structures of the clitoris. No surprise, then, that my students have, at best, a passing knowledge of the depths and complexity of its structures.
There is a politics of ignorance at work here, one that is linked to the politics of sex and reproduction… There has been little dispute from the Greeks to the present of the importance of male pleasure and ejaculation for conception. In contrast, the question of female seed and the link between it and female pleasure was always a point of controversy… Women’s sexual pleasure came to be seen as inessential to reproduction, although many scholars admitted that it might be useful in promoting the desire for intercourse.
Now to this view of the functions (or lack thereof) of female erotic pleasure add the politics of sex, namely the view that the only or at least the main function of sex is reproduction. To this view add the politics of female sexuality, namely the tenet common in scientific and popular accounts well into the nineteenth century that women were more lustful than men and that their sexuality was a danger to men, and a path is cleared to an understanding of why clitoral structures get lost in the process. The logic becomes quite clear: (a) There is not good reason to pay attention to the clitoris, given that it allegedly plays no role in reproduction and that sex is to be studied (only) in order to understand reproduction. (b) Worse, there is good reason to not pay attention to the clitoris lest we stir up a hornet’s nest of stinging desire. From Pandora on, and well into the nineteenth century, women’s stinging desire and limb-gnawing passion had been branded the cause of the fall of mankind. What better reason to construct and maintain an epistemology of ignorance? What better way to disqualify and perhaps even control women’s sexual satisfaction?
Leaving Sigmund Freud aside for the moment, genitals came under scrutiny during the end of the nineteenth century as science constructed the category of the “invert,” namely, those who mixed with members of their own sex. Evolutionary theory linked the newly “uncovered” sexual identity of the homosexual to degeneracy, and widespread societal fears of the degeneration of the race (that is, the white race) led to broadened support for eugenics movements… Belief in the degeneration of the race led many to believe that so-called inverts were proliferating. Anxiety led to a desire to be able to track such undesirables and an equally strong desire to believe their perversity and devolution would be clearly marked on their bodies… Although through images to be kept only for the eyes of professionals, whose objectivity and dispassionate nature would protect them from corruption, science began to turn its gaze on the structures of the clitoris to seek out and control deviancy.”
From 1935 — 1941 sexual deviancy outside the accepted binary norms was conducted to ‘learn the physical marks‘ of such behavior in order to stop contamination of the white race by other races (see p. 211 here).
“The point here is that this epistemology is not about truth. …What is missing or only sketchily attended to in nonfeminist anatomies, at least when the focus is on the “normal” rather than the “deviant,” is the desire to map the geographies and functions of the clitoris and our other pleasurable bits.
…What I am arguing is that the history of our knowledge-ignorances of the clitoris — indeed, our lived experiences of its beginnings and ends — is part of an embodied discourse and history of bodies and pleasures.”
For the sake of length and my time-constraints, and probably yours too, I am leaving out the next four sections — The Issue of Pleasure, The Either/Or of Women’s Orgasms, Sisterhood Is Powerful, and Bodies and Pleasures — all four of which are well worth the read! If you are interested, here’s the complete version: Coming to Understand: Orgasm and the Epistemology of Ignorance.
Abortifacients and the Making of More Ignorance
It is as easy as sipping a cup of Pride of Barbados herbal tea and washing herself with the same herb/flower in a morning bath. Doing this shortly after intercourse, according to secretancient medicine in the Caribbean islands, prevents conception safely and comfortably. In fact, a woman could do this repeatedly two or three days after intercourse accomplishing more assured results. Why has this profound medical knowledge NOT been circulated around the world, especially in European civilizations? That is literally the million-dollar question.
Age of Discovery? 1500 — 1899 Advances in European maritime navigation and ship-building saw an unprecedented extent of exploration far beyond the continent’s seas between the 1500’s and 1900’s. Empires such as Spain, Portugal, France, and Great Britain were economic competitors and often bitter enemies when the riches of the New Worlds were discovered and calculated. The magnitude of historical influence on the world by just these four maritime empires cannot be overstated — three of the world’s most widely spoken languages today are Spanish, English, and Portuguese. During the Age of Discovery and Exploration humanity witnessed and experienced at the time what might be described as the biggest economic boom in recorded history, for European nobility particularly, followed by a new age of scientific breakthroughs. But not all breakthroughs found in the New Worlds made it back to European headlines. Why?
“…in the eighteenth century, both European science and societies were structured to cultivate certain types of knowledge over others. Funding priorities, global strategies, national policies, structures of scientific institutions, trade patterns, configuration of technologies all pushed investigation toward certain parts of nature and away from others.”
Centuries of European gender politics and mercantile profits were the undercurrents of this knowledge-ignorance. Following were two basic distortions in 18th century botany. Taxonomists like John Ray asked: What is the uniformity of plants and flora across various continents? It was postulated that Caribbean flowers and plants were brought to the islands by the Tainos of South America and afterwards by the Dutch, Spanish, and English. What botanists failed to observe was crates and sacks of produce awaiting transport in harbors inadvertently collected soil and seeds of other weedy species. Thus, trade routes/winds, their imports/exports, and human mixing/influence caused taxonomists to wrongly conclude that “uniformity” in tropical flora was global rather than diverse according to regions and climates.
Two centuries later famed English botanist, William T. Stearn, along with earlier recorded scientific excursions from several other renown 18th century European botanists corrected this faulty science. Where 17th century science was in favor of profitable trade and commerce, Stearn also noticed European taxonomists then were not as interested or invested in the notion of boring, all the same, un-lucrative uniformity. Highly novel filled the pockets of East and West Indies shipping and commerce.
The second distortion in 18th century botany which fueled cultural ignorance was technology and transcontinental movements. Not until the early 1800’s did European botany more accurately know and understand taxonomies of the New World’s resources as opposed to their own. Voyagers crossing the oceans preferred succulents and bulbs over heavy stones and minerals simply because they’d survive the journey back to Europe; they weighed much less and cost less to transport. These trade conditions didn’t change until ships became larger and faster. However, New World abortifacients like the Pride of Barbados or the peacock flower, was not embraced in Europe even though the knowledge of its use had been known for centuries in indigenous cultures and in select scientific disciplines.
Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th century German-born Naturalist and botany-entymologist illustrator, documented that both Amerindians and African slave-women used the abortifacient flower almost exclusively because they did not want their child born into the slave-trade for life. There are several possibilities of the origin of the Pride of Barbados (peacock flower) and its use, but Dr. Schiebinger feels the more likely origin-knowledge is South America:
“The historical record of the peacock flower used as an abortive from Surinam up through the French Antilles to Jamaica suggests that the plant was known to the forebears of the Tainos, the Saladoid peoples, and followed their migration out of South America into the[Caribbean]islands. …While it is possible that displaced Africans taught the Tainos the use of the peacock flower, I find it more likely that the Tainos and Arawaks taught its uses to the newly arrived Africans.”
Despite the fact that so much Amerindian, African, and Caribbean resources and knowledge entered Europe during the Age of Discovery, their knowledge of abortifacients like the peacock flower did not. Again, why? What induced this European ignorance? Dr. Schiebinger explains pre-19th century social-moral legalities:
“Throughout the early modern period, the general consensus was that for legal purposes a woman was not pregnant — not truly with child — until “quickening” or “ensoulment” took place, usually considered to occur near the midpoint of gestation, late in the fourth or early in the fifth month of pregnancy (or according to Aristotle, forty days after conception for a male child and ninety days for a female child). …Even though abortion was legal in this period, it was never undertaken lightly: moral trepidation and physical danger argued against it.
Cultivating knowledge of West Indian abortifacients in Europe was discouraged by the fact that European colonial enterprises were largely male. The majority of Caribbean planters and slaves were men, as were colonial administrators, naturalists, and physicians. Colonial governors, such as Hendrick van Reede and Philippe de Lonvilliers, chevalier de Poincy (for whom the Poinciana pulcherrima was named), were most interested in medicines to protect traders, planters, and trading company troops, among whom few women were found.
Developing abortifacients or any drugs used predominantly to control fertility also worked directly against the interests of mercantilist states. Mercantilist governments sought to augment the wealth of nations by PRODUCING growing and healthy populations.”
There is simply no other more pleasant way of putting it. Women, in the Age of Discovery, were breeders, meant to bolster the wealth and resources of male nations. For European states and their foreign colonies, abundant population — both slave and citizen — was to increase production of crops and goods. Domestically large populations filled the armies and navies. It generated workers who would pay substantial taxes and rents. In the empire’s colonies it grew negroes that would push and pad the empire’s wealth. The moral issues surrounding abortifacients were just as centered around a company’s and nation’s wealth-accumulation as it was (or less so) seen in God’s eyes and prosperity for “true believers.”
And so the simple, safe, and comfortable remedy for a possible (objectionable? shameful?) conception — drinking an herbal tea of peacock flower and bathing in a warm “peacock floral” bath — went disinterested and/or suppressed throughout an apparently ‘advanced’ European people. How much has changed today in our knowledge-ignorance of safe, simple, ancient and Renaissance abortifacients?
For further information about women’s bodies and pleasure: OMGYes.com — “See What Science Says About Women’s Pleasure”
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In Part III of Games of Unknowledging, I want to cover the art of Fabricating Facts, the Revelations of Indigenous Fossils and their knowledge-ignorance, as well as gaining a better understanding of the benefits and advantages of thorough Historical-Interdisciplinary Hindsight. I hope you’ll join me there with your thoughts and comments.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Oh the carnage, the humanity, the bio-economy of it all! The constant mating everywhere! The constant devouring everywhere! Does it ever end!?
Daughter’s amaryllis ferrari
It was a very mild winter. Many don’t remember winter being so non-existent. Then came the abnormal rainfall. Many Central Texas lakes and rivers had been well below normal water levels for several years due to drought. Not this Spring! Texas endured record flooding across much of the state. That’s the good news and the bad news. If you are an avid gardener or farmer, it’s bad news — the insects normally killed during cold hard freezes in winter, all survived. If you are a bird, a frog, a pond goldfish, a field-mouse, an armadillo, a rabbit, a skunk, a cat, a grey fox, a raccoon, a ring-tail cat, or a white-tailed deer, no winter means TONS of food everywhere! And if you are a birder or Naturalist (me), it is wildness galore and heaven on Earth for you and all creatures! So as it goes… “it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.“
Our mild winter, our Christmas, and a sign of things to come began with my daughter’s gift of Amaryllis Ferrari. For about two months it constantly flowered with a total of nine blooms throughout the 8-weeks. On a sidenote, my apologies for the substandard quality of my pictures and videos. It’s my LG camera-phone’s fault.
In late March I cranked down the Martin-house in back overlooking the Guadalupe River valley and Kerrville. I cleaned it out in the hope that Purple Martins would move-in before the common Sparrows, like they’ve so often done. For about a week the two bird-breeds fought fiercely over the 12-unit two-story house. As I watched the battling and wing-flapping, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the many times our neighbors complained about my high school rock-metal band practicing in our downstairs garage. It was so loud at times we shook the living room and kitchen floors above us. Upset and not at all proper fans of quality high-fidelity music, Mom and my sister sounded strangely similar to this yelling and screaming…
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.“
By the end of April and several back-to-back fronts seemingly every 10-12 days bringing more rainfall, the entire property lit up with golds, pinks, yellows, indigos, crimsons, and every possible types of greens and textures imaginable. This year, instead of two sets of lantana camara, we have three sets. And surprisingly, the once strictly yellow-blooms have turned to a mix of pinks and yellows. How is it possible when we did no transplanting? Then it hits me.
The evil, insatiable Odocoileus virginianus.
This outdoor caretaker, this gardener, this beautification security guard (myself), has a few thoughtless nemeses roaming about at night. The most villianest of them all is Odocoileus virginianus and it knows no limit to its diet! If it’s colorful, green, and designed for human admiration and enjoyment, it’s on the menu! But their insatiable appetite is only half their evil doings. While lounging and munching during the moonlit darkness, as I slumber they leave their calling-card… EVERYWHERE! If you walk the lawn with your head up so as not to bang your head on bird feeders or Live Oak branches, then you will certainly step in Odocoileus virginianus evidence, or shit warmly left behind for a morning reminder of who is ultimately in-charge outside. Yet, there’s a silver-lining to these animal bowels: transplanted lantanas!
Our family’s 12-acre property and ranchita home has a surrounding lush St. Augustine lawn, a waterfall with pond, and many spectacular plants and native herbs carefully placed and landscaped. Because I have no desire to patrol at the godforsaken midnight, 2:00, or 4:00 a.m hours, I have brilliantly constructed protective cages around our plants or tasty menu items! There is another downside.
Thriving from nature’s touch and my superb care, our stunning plants quickly outgrow my short-sighted fixed protections, sticking through the wiring offering-up their appetizing blooms to my ever-present, always hungry 4-legged nemeses, who then ironically and quite unintentionally shit more flowers for us… sort of. The deer must loiter long enough for full lantana recycling, or mobile intestinal planting. There’s another thinly silver-lined benefit — thinly in the most invisible sense. Excited neighbors mention they now have “wild native” lantana growing in their yard. Hmm, nothing like sharing the bowels of beauty with everyone!
“It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times.“
They have 4-6 broods a year and are taking over the neighborhood. I speak of the bull-headed pigeon-offshoot, the white-winged doves. Even their newborn offspring begin nesting a few months after leaving their parent’s nest! Eat, nest, eat, shit, lay eggs, eat with bigger flock, mate like it’s going extinct, eat, shit more, lay more eggs, eat more, repeat. Essentially I’ve described the incredibly vigorous head-bobbing life of the white-winged doves. Their cooing sounds like a bunch of yawning bored unintelligent dinner clubbers. We had enough! Time to take action on the other nemeses.
Some wonderful person invented a deterrent called bird-shot for .22-caliber long rifles. The ammo isn’t too powerful — I used it to hit white-tailed deer in the ass when sneaking up to the St. Augustine grass and bird-feeders in daylight until they figured out I meant serious daytime business… until I was in bed in the middle of the night, when the All-You-Can-Eat buffet begins. The sting on their buttocks makes them scatter… far! Oh the pleasure I would receive watching them kick-up their hind legs when the pellets stung. Admittedly, I felt all-powerful, King of this hill and my Kingdom and all who dwelleth within. Hear me roar.
Then a magnificent natural event took place.
While shooting the bird-shot at the thousands of white-winged doves over running our baths and feeders, I wounded one of them. He or she tried to fly away, but could only hobble hop in the grass. Another ww-dove came out of the tree tops to be with it — its mate? And then as quickly as it came down it flew back up! I thought how odd. Before I could think of why, WOOOSH! From some nearby tree our familiar red-shoulder hawk in seconds swooped down and tackled the wounded ww-dove, pinning it to the ground within its sharp talons! As it sat on top of the dove, our Martins and Swallows dived-bombed the hawk three or four times, the hawk’s head ducking each time, but unrelenting of its catch. A minute or so passed and the gorgeous bird launched, carrying with it the meal for its family.
“It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.“
It wasn’t long before when that hawk took natural liberties upon our soothing well-designed and maintained waterfall and pond complete with leopard frogs and Goldfish. Two years prior we placed four goldfish in the empty pond. Two were male and fully vivid orange. One was a spotted female Koi, the other an all-white albino Koi. Today, we have some 40-50 fish living happily in our pond I maintain daily. See following video…
One early morning as I was sipping my coffee, out of the corner of my eye through our 11-windowed living room I glimpse a huge brown shadow fall from our rooftop into our pond. As I turned to see what it was the red-shouldered hawk flapped its 4-foot wingspan several times on the water surface, then once it snagged its prey it carried off our albino Koi which had grown to 6-inches in length. She was pregnant too because the all-orange males were both mating her with unending voracity the previous week sometimes wedging her against the rocks splashing water in all directions. In fact, all the fish were having orgies everywhere in the pond! When spring sprung, so did all the raging hormones it seems. But our pure-white albino Koi was no more; sushi for the red-shouldered. As the red Claret-cacti flowers in the header image above alludes…
“It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times” depending where in the food-chain you exist.
If it weren’t for my 6′ 0″ frame and build, I might be on the menu too. However, before I get to that, allow me to share a few images of how vivid spring has arrived or attacked, along with a cat (Foster) that when outside is constantly twitchy-jumpy from all the overstimulating wildlife 24-hours a day. When it becomes too much, well… you’ll see how he copes:
One of this spring’s entertainment packages enjoyed by Foster-the-cat is the neck bending flybys — looks like torture sometimes — from the new resident cliff swallows nesting in our back porch. They’re a bit anti-social. They do not welcome Foster hanging around. Some days when he wants to lie in stealth around the pond for incognizant leopard frogs sunbathing on the warm rocks, he rudely interrupts the cliff swallow couple! They are trying to make a risk-free mud home atop our music speakers. HAH! They seem to want what everything else is enjoying: LOVE. It seems to be the trend — to follow suit with all the other rampant mating orgies which proceed from sun up to sun down and beyond! The cat leaps into the air with delusions of grandeur that maybe, just maybe the gods of trajectory and velocity will smile upon him. Foiled! Foiled again! Why can’t I have wings! Perhaps this is the view from Foster’s perspective providing us evolved humans with endless springtime entertainment…
And so to borrow from Dickens with slight modification…
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times,
it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness,
it is clearly the age of birth, death, and near-death!
It is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity,
it is the season of Light, it is the season of Darkness,
it is the spring of hope, it is the orgy of feasting.
We have everything before us, we have nothing before us,
we are all going direct to Heaven,
we are all going direct the other way–
In short, the cycle was so far cycling,
that some of its noisiest authorities
insisted on its being received,
for good and evil when spring has FULLY sprung!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always