the legacy of radical puritanism, nanoferries and target cells, fire dragon tattoo

Radical Puritanism ‘Rediscovered’: Elements and Legacies of Extremism and Anti-Egalitarianism

The paper approaches and reexamines Protestant Puritanism in terms of political extremism or radicalism. The paper argues and demonstrates Puritanism as an English-American offspring of Calvinism represents political extremism or radicalism, interlinked and mutually reinforced with its moral-religious absolutism. It ‘rediscovers’ Puritanism as an extreme or radical, anti-egalitarian  and authoritarian rather than, as widely assumed, moderate, egalitarian and democratic type of politics and ideology, just as relatedly an absolutist morality and religion. It does by exploring Puritanism’s elements and legacies of political extremism or radicalism, including anti-egalitarianism, in historically Puritan societies, especially America and in part Great Britain.

[   ]…In addition, recent sociological analyses identify and evidence neo-Puritan radicalism and absolutism in contemporary America in the generalized form of (once again) revived and expanded Protestant fundamentalism or sectarianism (Friedland 2001) which hence continues and even reinforces and expands its predominance in American history (Lipset 1996), up to the early 21st century. In particular, some sociologists adduce the “evangelist churches of the Bible Belt” (Bauman 1997:1984) as an instance of neo-Puritan or later-day Protestant political radicalism, absolutism and totalitarianism by placing them, alongside the “Islamic integrisme of ayatollahs”, into a “wider family of [proto] totalitarian solutions” to what they condemn or experience as the liberal “evil” (or “burden”) of individual liberty in (post) modern society (cf. also Davis and Robinson 2006; Friedland 2002; Smelser and Mitchell 2002; Turner 2002).

Like most academic papers this one is a little dry, but a valuable addition to the history of religion in America. That history, with the media’s acquiescence and laziness, become absurdly oversimplified into the mantra we’re a Christian nation. Modern day Calvinism, also noted in the full paper, has become entangled with neoconservatism. Thomas Jefferson had a rather low opinion of Calvinists of which colonial era American Purtaitanism and modern day American fundamentalists have their roots. In a letter to To Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, June 26, 1822 concerning Calvinists, Jefferson wrote,

These are the great points on which he endeavored to reform the religion of the Jews. But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin.

2. That good works, or the love of our neighbor, are nothing.

4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.

In another letter Jefferson wrote to W. Short in 1820,

The Presbyterian clergy are loudest; the most intolerant of all sects, the most tyrannical and ambitious; ready at the word of the lawgiver, if such a word could be now obtained, to put the torch to the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere, the flames in which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his Euclid the proposition which has demonstrated that three are one and one is three, nor subscribe to that of Calvin, that magistrates have a right to exterminate all heretics to Calvinistic Creed. They pant to re-establish, by law that holy inquisition, which they can now only infuse into public opinion. ( emphasis mine)

Presbyterians were originally a branch of Calvinism founded in Scotland. Heretics in this context meant anyone who was not a Calvinist.

natural symmetry

Microscope shows how nanoferries invade cells

Nanoparticles are so small that many barriers in the body simply can’t stop them. They can also use the bloodstream to reach any part of the body. Researchers and doctors alike hope that these tiny vehicles will one day be put to work in therapies carrying drugs directly to the seat of a disease. “Even genes can be transported this way,” says Plank. “That means we could be seeing new breakthroughs in gene therapy soon, which has seen more than its fair share of setbacks. After all, lacking most are functional transporters.”

Once you have developed one of these nanoferries or vehicles and inject them into the body how do get them to go where they’re supposed to go. A tiny GPS device with a map of the body is probably out of the question. This research team is not quite there yet as far as guidance, but they have been able to use and watch the paths taken by tagged magnetic nanoparticles in real time until they reach a cell and bind with its protein then enter the cell. Knowing how the magnetic field of the nanoferries work gives scientists a much better idea of how to optimize them to reach their target.

fire dragon tattoo


a little train history, master pat don’t do history

celebration completion of the transcontinental railroad by A.J. Russell

The First Transcontinental Railroad is the name commonly given to the U.S. railroad line (the Pacific Railroad) completed in 1869.

This iconic photo by Russell has appeared in at least two American history text books that I’ve seen. Not by way of some evil conspiracy, as far as I know, but for whatever reason it is used rather then one that was taken earlier the same day. That earlier photo shows some of the Chinese laborers that helped build the Transcontinental Railroad.

The first Chinese were hired in 1865 [sic] at approximately $28 per month to do the very dangerous work of blasting and laying ties over the treacherous terrain of the high Sierras. They lived in simply dwellings and cooked their own meals, often consisting of fish, dried oysters and fruit, mushrooms and seaweed.

Work in the beginning was slow and difficult. After the first 23 miles, Ten Miles of Track Laid in One Day, April 28, 1869.Central Pacific faced the daunting task of laying tracks over terrain that rose 7,000 feet in 100 miles. To conquer the many sheer embankments, the Chinese workers used techniques they had learned in China to complete similar tasks. China Labour, CPRR Payroll, March, 1865 They were lowered by ropes from the top of cliffs in baskets [sic], and while suspended, they chipped away at the granite and planted explosives that were used to blast tunnels. Many workers risked their lives and perished in the harsh winters and dangerous conditions.

By the summer of 1868, 4,000 workers, two thirds of which were Chinese, had built the transcontinental railroad over the Sierras and into the interior plains. On May 10, 1869, the two railroads were to meet at Promontory, Utah in front of a cheering crowd and a band. A Chinese [and Irish] crew was chosen to lay the final ten miles of track, and it was completed in only twelve hours.

Estimates vary, but it is generally thought that at least 2,000 Chinese workers died building the first transcontinental railroad. Many were buried in shallow graves next to the rail line. Picture gallery that includes some of the Chinese workers here.

Also not included in the Russel photo are any of the several hundred African-Americans that help build the transcontinental.

Labor issues like length of work day, pay and working conditions are not new, The Chinese Workers’ Strike

Chinese workers On June 25 (1867), Chinese workers left their grading work along a two-mile stretch on the eastern Sierra slope and went back to their camp. One-eyed construction chief James Harvey Strobridge lit into the men, but his bluster produced no effect. The workers demanded $40 a month instead of $35. They requested a reduction in hours. A workday on the open Sierra lasted from dawn till dusk; the Chinese laborers wanted to work no more than ten hours daily. They also asked for shorter shifts in the cramped, dangerous tunnels. Charles Crocker called in leaders of the movement and promised them he’d stop work entirely before considering a single one of their demands. The men took his message back to the camps, but still the workers refused to budge. Two days later, workers struck all along the line, and raised their wage demands to $45 a month.

[  ]…Search for Replacement Workers
In Sacramento, E. B. Crocker and another CP executive, Mark Hopkins, feared that their work would be permanently paralyzed. They advocated taking advantage of the Freedmen’s Bureau to provide African American labor from the East. Hopkins theorized, “A Negro labor force would tend to keep the Chinese steady, as the Chinese have kept the Irishmen quiet.”

Busting organized labor is also old news. Crocker and Strobridge eventually got the Chinese back to work without meeting a single demand, cutting off supplies and starving them out. The workers had to pay fines to the railroad for their behavior. Via the Library of Congress, History of Railroads and Maps. Funny how things change,

“The United States of America and the Emperor of China cordially recognize the inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free migration and emigration of their citizens and subjects respecctively, from one country to the other, for the purposes of curiosity, of trade, or as permanent residents.”
—Treaty with China, proclaimed July 28, 1868

I had already planned to do some kind of post with the Russel picture a few days ago since I hadn’t posted any historical photos for a while. This recent inanity just happened to coincide, The intellectual dishonesty of Pat Buchanan – “This has been a country built, basically, by white folks”.

The implicit argument offered by Buchanan is that African-Americans sat on the sidelines during the Civil War. The reality, however, is that by the end of the war, 10% of the Union army was black. 200,000 Union soldiers were black and 38,000 died. Moreover, at the onset of the war, much of the African-American population was enslaved.

[   ]…As the above picture shows, Buchanan’s claim is wrong. Not only did 2,000 African-Americans storm the beaches of Normandy, but 1.2 million blacks served in World War II. Moreover, it’s important to remember that during this time, black soldiers were segregated from white. So even if Buchanan’s claim were true, the reason would have been traceable to institutionalized racism, not the moral superiority of white people.

The history of people of color or non-white non-Anglo-Saxons and their contributions to the creation of the U.S. could and actually has taken up quite a few history books. Master Pat, having attended Georgetown, should know Slaves Built the White House and U.S. Capitol. One of the South’s arguments against emancipation was that without slave labor they would face economic ruin. If going without slaves would supposedly condemn the South to ruin, doesn’t that assume slaves were making a very valuable economic contribution via their unpaid labor. How would the U.S. be different if people of color has been given the opportunity to fully participate. Those stats from DK are significant especially considering those achievements in the context of the Civil War and WW II, but its easy to imagine that if we had not had such a segregated society, African-Americans and other citizens of various ethnicity would have had more opportunity to contribute. Its group behavior 101. When people feel they are a valued member of the group, most people regardless of race, national origin etc want to be  part of and contribute to the success of the group.