Category Archives: Uncategorized

Help! Talk Radio Ate the Presidency!

In November 2016, my Facebook feed was filled with friends’ dreaded anticipation of Thanksgiving with extended family, and particularly with that uncle: the unapologetic Trump supporter full of crude, bigoted bluster. So many white families seemed to have an uncle like this — even if in liberal families everyone had written him off as a mean, eccentric old coot — that political pundits felt the need to weigh in on dinner etiquette.

At the time, I noticed the pattern, but I assumed that the similarities among uncles were organic, coming out of similar subject positions as older white men angry to see their privilege eroding. But after reading historian Brian Rosenwald’s Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States, I suddenly understood those obnoxious uncles, and so much more about the past few years’ politics, in a new way…

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This is Not a Culture of Life, This is a Culture of Un-Death

Last week at a Vatican conference on abortion, Pope Francis “argued that children who were not expected to live long after birth deserved to be treated in the womb ‘with extraordinary pharmacological, surgical and other interventions.’” He intimated that parents who did not use extraordinary measures were not caring for their children, saying that “Taking care of these children helps parents to grieve and not only think of it as a loss, but as a step on a path taken together.”

In other words, according to the Pope, a mother who chooses to care for her dying child by sheltering him in the safety and comfort of her womb, without medical intervention, is an uncaring, bad mother…

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Take Back the Net: Joy Rankin’s A People’s History of Computing in the United States

Should I post a tough parenting question on Twitter, ask my Facebook community, or email a few friends who are most likely to have useful suggestions? What would be the best place to reach people to share an intriguing job announcement? These days, we have a multitude of network options, and we assume that computers will facilitate our networked communities. Until I read Joy Lisi Rankin’s new book, A People’s History of Computing in the United States (Harvard University Press, 2018), I assumed I should attribute all these ways of connecting with my communities to the work of Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the self-proclaimed Silicon Valley heroes who have taken credit for our increasingly networked world.

A People’s History of Computing in the United States by Joy Lisi Rankin. (Harvard University Press)

Rankin shows, in contrast, that it was the hippie ‘60s and ‘70s, not the corporate and consumerist ‘80s and ‘90s, that first gave shape and possibility to connectedness via computing. She gives us a new origin story for computer-based connectedness…

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When Did We Get So Hormonal? An Interview with Randi Hutter Epstein

Randi Hutter Epstein’s new book, Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything, traces the development of our scientific and medical understanding of hormones from the late nineteenth century to the present. Each chapter focuses on a different hormone, linking the science of endocrinology to fascinating details about the social context that shaped the science.

Randi is a historian, science journalist, and medical doctor, and she’s also the author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank. We recently sat down for a great conversation about Aroused

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The Obstetrician Who Cried “White Privilege”

In December of 2016, I wrote an essay for Nursing Clio called Nurse-Midwives are With Women, Walking a Middle Path to a Safe and Rewarding Birth. In the piece, I advocated that all women be given the option of delivering with hospital-based nurse-midwives, whose evidence-based practice results in safe births and, in some settings, significantly lower rates of interventions such as cesarean section. I only recently, quite belatedly, realized that OB-GYN Amy Tuteur had responded on her blog to my essay. She offered a belittling (and inaccurate) representation of my position on hospital-based nurse-midwifery, specifically invoking the specter of “white privilege.” Why? …

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Face to Face with Sharrona Pearl

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sharrona Pearl about her new book, Face/On: Transplants and the Ethics of the Other. Below are excerpts from our conversation, which ranged from disability, to artistry, to parenting, to sex transitions, all illuminated by Sharrona’s insights from the history and culture of face transplants…

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