Mementos 7: The Joy of Family, Stories of David

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Chicago Labor & Arts Festival Blog

Mementos 7:  The Joy of Family, Stories of David

[I’m preparing for mitral valve surgery in November, 2016. One of the instructions is to bring mementos with me. The best way to do this without hiring a moving truck (Diana’s suggestion) is to put some of what I would bring with me on this blog. I can then access it on my phone. That is my goal here]

JoAnn held an annual Thanksgiving dinner for all of us expatriates (many from Los Angeles) without a Chicago family, where her legendary brownies were nearly matched by stacks of home baked pies and, of course, a huge turkey.  It was a family get-together for many engaged in political work, an opportunity to share conversation, watch a movie or a football game, and chat with Nelson and Sue.  In the summer of 1991 Sue had finally broken through my anxiety and…

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Psychiatric Refugees? Give me a Break!

If you follow me at all, you will know that I am a rebel. This caused me unjust care at Read Zone Hospital and Lake Shore hospital in the 70s. When these kind of involuntary laws prevail, all one has to do is get on the wrong side of the powers-that-be. Often, rebelling against injustices is not cause for forced psychiatric treatment like I experienced: strapping down to my bed, injected with psych med to which I was allergic and a most outlandish use of seclusion as punishment. When one survives unjust treatment and cannot go home, I call this a ‘refugee’ situation. I admire Sarah that even though the BC system really did her wrong, she had the wisdom to seek further psychiatric treatment even though it was so risky. I don’t know if I would be that brave! My hat’s off to you, Sarah. I hope you may go home soon.

Mind You

By Marvin Ross

For years, we’ve had a small group of very vocal people who call themselves psychiatric survivors — people who have had psychiatric treatment, do not agree with it and consider that they have survived it. Now, thanks to CBC radio, we have someone dubbed a psychiatric refugee — a woman who fled British Columbia for Ontario to escape her involuntary status in a B.C. hospital. And, it was said, she is not the only so-called refugee.

Comparing yourself to people who survived a genocide like the Holocaust or saying that you are comparable to Syrians and others fleeing in leaky, dangerous boats from war is absurd. But what is also absurd is the story that this anonymous person called Sarah by the CBC told. It is just not logical but it is being used to justify the Charter challenge to the B.C. Mental Health Act that I…

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Look! It’s a noun! It’s an adjective! It’s a number! No, it’s…

A couple of points are raised here!


My latest piece for The Week is an introduction to that double-agent class of words, there in the numbers but not of the numbers: quantifiers.

Singular or plural? It’s complicated.

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On Activism and Organizing: There is a Distinction

This is a demon to which I fight daily. Sometimes it is hard to ‘organize’ when people engage in personal wars that tear down a solidarity effort. Thank you, Kelly, for bringing this up.

Transformative Spaces

What’s the difference between an organizer, an activist, and someone who is just plain fighting for their life, on a personal level? Often, there is no discernible distinction, as these roles often blend together in ways that could never be separated. But for some people, there is no such complexity. I point this out because, in recent years, there has been a verbal shift in social justice spaces towards referring to everyone involved as an organizer. As a person who believes that we too often negate the meanings of words by transforming them into umbrellaed concepts, I have to say my piece about the matter.

Not everyone who is involved in movement work is an organizer, and that’s okay. And to be real, if you find that you’re spending more time condemning the imperfect ideas and practices of others than you’re spending lifting folx up, you are not healing or building anything — and that’s…

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That old bad rule-seeking behaviour



Linguistics is great for making you aware of things you were already doing consistently but weren’t consciously aware of. In fact, that’s the basic point of several subfields of linguistics. There are a few particularly memorable examples that one learns in the course of an education in linguistics. One of these is the order of adjectives: we have a standard order for adjectives when there are several before a noun. We may not be analytically aware of it, but if someone says “a red big balloon” it will sound wrong.

If you’re a linguistics student, you take that as more data, and the point of such data is to use it to help you figure out why we tend to do that, and to do that you have to see what exceptions there are and sort out what the various inputs and influences are. It’s explanation-seeking behaviour.

If, on the…

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