Thursday, January 27, 2011

If it feels like AKTION 4F's alter ego - that's because it is

This is new, additional, blog that will largely parallel the theme of my AKTION 4F blog.

So why yet another blog?

It is because I am 'test driving' my book series' title and subtitle which will appear on the books' front cover, website, posters etc.

Should it be:

 The OTHER Manhattan Project 
(In between the big, top, title and the small, bottom, subtitle will be my painted illustration of an August 1944 faux 'group photo' ---  4 team members  using crutches, canes or wheelchairs, together with two patients in wheelchairs, all exhibiting an air of tired and tattered triumph.)
Aktion 4F

Or should it be :

(In between the big, top, title and the small, bottom, subtitle will be my painted illustration of an August 1944 faux 'group photo' ---  4 team members  using crutches, canes or wheelchairs, together with two patients in wheelchairs, all exhibiting an air of tired and tattered triumph.)
the other Manhattan Project

I am inclined to favor option one , but I will have to await further reader feedback....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ungrateful bastards : Manhattan's penicillin saved a family member of everyone of the nineteen 9/11 terrorists

I admit that I didn't start this project on Dr Dawson's penicillin crusade with any intention to call it "the OTHER Manhattan Project".

But here is how it all came about, as best I remember it.

I was watching a CBC TV debate about the reasons why Manhattan was attacked on 9/11; this was some time in 2005... or even 2006.

Someone on the panel was trying to explain that older people everywhere around the world, rather like Frank Sinatra, just loved the Hollywood movie version of New York City.

However the younger generation, in general and not just in the Muslim world, had some quite different, additional, images conjured up whenever 'Manhattan' was mentioned .

Such as the worldwide recession and high youth unemployment caused by the excessive 'Greed-is-Goodism' of a small handful of traders from Manhattan Island's Wall Street.

 And the prospects of Mankind blowing us all up, thanks to the nuclear bomb possibilities generated by "The Manhattan Project."

At this point, I yelled up to my better half, Rebecca, in my usual exasperated TV-watching tone, "What about the OTHER Manhattan Project??"

"I'd bet my life", I said," that someone in everyone of those 9/11 hijackers' families at some time or other had their life saved by the antibiotics that came out of wartime Manhattan and Dr Dawson's quixotic efforts ----- those un - grate - ful bastards !!!!"

I promptly forgot all about it after blowing off steam.

But I soon took to calling my effort, informally and only to Rebecca, Manhattan's other Project or the other Manhattan Project.

But I didn't take it too seriously as an actual concept or theme.

Like most of us, I had long thought the 'Manhattan' part of the Manhattan Project was a clever ruse to put the Nazis off the scent - everyone knew the atomic bomb was developed in the desert of New Mexico and also in desert-like conditions in Washington State and backwoods Tennessee .

Dusty - or muddy - areas as empty of people and urbanity as Manhattan was full of them.

Clever, very clever.

But actually the planners of the Atomic Project were even cleverer.

They took a page from Edgar Allan Poe and put the brainy bits of the atomic effort in Manhattan - "hidden in plain sight" - and only put the final production plants out in the desert. But all that high tech equipment and manpower out in the desert actually came out of the North East industrial core, in particular from the Greater New York City area.

Atomic Historian, Robert S Norris, set the world straight on the massive amount of  atomic history that happened first and foremost in the New York area.

But what I specially noted, even if Norris didn't particularly highlight the fact, was that the Cold War Nuclear Threat was actually birthed in Harlem, not out in the desert, and within a few hundred meters of the most dramatic single event in all the penicillin saga.

As a Baby Boomer, 1950s antibiotics ending childhood diseases and Cold War mass production of  A- bombs possibly ending childhood, period, interested me far more than the small amount of inefficient bomb materials developed out in the desert to end WWII but then were never used again to make A-bombs.

If our world should end tomorrow, it is gaseous diffusion uranium that did it - and that was the stuff developed in Harlem's Nash Building and then taken up by all the world's big nuclear bomb makers.

Now I had the two biggest news stories of the entire 20th Century ( according to a poll of 35,000 Americans ) happening in the same year in the same 80 acre space in North West Harlem - what a story !

And I stand by my claim - everyone on Earth, 60 years after the beginnings of the Antibiotic Era, has had a family member, now or in the past, whose life was saved by the antibiotic revolution.

You all remember the british policeman, one of the most famous patients in all history, who told his family when they saw the tiny dot of blood on his cheek, "Don't panic - I just got scratched by a rose while out gardening and you can't possibly die from that !"

But before antibiotics, you could.

 And he did.

Hospitals back then were filled with foul-smelling septic wards and filled with septic cases, sad stories of  healthy young people dying needlessly of blood poisoning that all started with a little infection.

You don't have to be at death's door to have a course of antibiotics 'save your life' ---- you just need to make the emotional leap back in time to think what might of happened to you if your minor infection hadn't been nipped in the bud.

So don't be like those ungrateful 9/11 bastards.

 Thank your lucky stars, and thank Dr Dawson, the next time your doctor yawns behind their hand while they write out a prescription for a course of antibiotics after discovering you have a minor bacterial infection.

 'May life-saving always be so routine' .....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Martin Henry Dawson was grandson of Independent MLA, John Barnhill Dickie

I was bemused to see John Barnhill Dickie's name re-emerge as one of Nova Scotia's relatively rare number of  MLAs who jumped the party they were elected under, to sit as an Independent or join another political party .

He represented Colchester County.

The same county represented by the province's newest ship-jumper, former Conservative Party leader (pro temp), Karen Casey.

Dickie is usually remembered today, if at all, because his inept actions as Speaker of the Nova Scotia legislature 125 years ago resulted in a very rare move by the legislature members to dump their Speaker.

He should be remembered, as well, as a very
successful businessman.

He moved from farming and schoolteaching into shipbuilding and then into banking and insurance -- all this success fueled by his extraordinary facility with mathematics.

Point of fact, he was one of the very,very first employees of the Royal Bank of Canada, aka RBC, (my bank) the largest bank in Canada and one of the largest in the world.

In addition,of course, he was the grandpa of the subject of this blog - Martin Henry Dawson  - who perhaps inherited some his scientific abilities from his grandfather....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Himmler: "Now I become Death"

I got it wrong, didn't I?

You know better than me - it was actually Robert Oppenheimer who uttered those famous words from the Bhagavad Gita when the Atomic Bomb successfully exploded on cue.

But actually Himmler never went anywhere without his own leather bound copy of BG - even slept with it at night.

It was the moral staff he leaned on to kill , kill and kill again without getting emotionally involved.

He paraphrased its main message quite closely in his famous Posen Speech, as he steeled the SS elite to do 'their painful duty' and kill every last Jew on the planet, children and all -- for the greater good of the greatest number - Himmler-Hindu-Utilitarianism as it were.

We see this same 'painful duty' line in the contemporary recorded and later re-counted justifications of the key participants for their actions in Aktion T4 and in the organized killings of Romas, Slavs and Homosexuals as well.

Menwhile, in the Allied World, Einstein also thought highly of this book and its main message : the self-sacrificing Will-To-Duty on behalf of Mankind , as did Ghandi and Herman Hesse.

The triumph of  sheer willpower, laid out in various forms, had a wide appeal across much of the world's educated elite in the years from the 1880s to the 1980s.

 I repeat: WWII was a fight within a family.....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Martin Bader and Charlie Aronson: different fates same disease

I had long suspected that there existed people who had exactly the same course of disease that Charles Aronson had, but who suffered an entirely polar opposite fate.

(Charlie was Martin Henry Dawson's Aktion 4F "posterboy", as it were.)

These would have been many people like Charlie in Germany , for example .

These would be people who had had a severe case of encephalitis lethargica (a form of sleeping disease) at the end of World War One but who had survived, albeit with obvious permanent stigmata of the disease's ravages.

This mysterious disease , a huge killer and crippler for the 10 years between 1917-1927, is only unknown to most of us because the Spanish Flu killed about 100 times as many victims in same time period.

Most of us first learned of its existence when Dr Oliver Sacks produced some incredible (but sadly short term) success with some of its long time catatonic victims, with a new drug called L-Dopa.

 You may have seen all of this in the book and film called "Awakenings".

Germany covered up then, and still covers up today, the real names of the the 250,000 "disabled/unfit" people it killed in the Aktion T4 program between 1939-1945.

Lately the new excuse is "privacy laws concerns for the victims".

I know that game: Canada can do this squalid "privacy law" game far better than even the Germans could ever hope to - only a small percentage of Germans are self-suited to become ask-no-questions bureaucrats, aka lifers.

But in Canada, it seems to be bred in all of our bones. But I digress.

A German historian, Dr Petra Fuchs, has wormed herself deep into a cache of medical records of 60,000 or so of the T4 victims found in the HQ of the old East German secret police.

Strict privacy laws keep the names concealed - so German youth can not put a human face on these 250,000 dead and start asking grandpa and grandma why did they let it happen.

 But by tracking down clues, Dr Fuchs has located some families who can tell the story of their dead relatives from the family end of the affair.

A elderly son named Helmut Bader got to put a face on one victim - his father,  Martin Bader.

Martin  had had the sleeping disease real bad - but not bad enough to kill him or stop him from running a business and earning a living afterwards.

But Hitler had a particular fear of this disease - based I suspect on the waxy catatonic features of its most severely affected survivors.

So Martin was swept up and killed and his family lied to.

Charlie also had the sleeping sickness bad, along with a half dozen other different Group A strep diseases ( this rare variant on sleeping disease is today felt to be a form of auto immune reaction to a highly particular variety of strep throat).

He had survived and he worked.

Prominent doctors here too wanted him dead - either directly with a needle (Dr Foster Kennedy) or indirectly by not-so-benign neglect (Dr Chester Keefer).

Dr Dawson felt differently - so differently  he made Charlie, this 4F of the 4Fs, the very first success story of the penicillin effort - and did so on the very day dedicated , above all else, to exalting the 1A above the 4F.

If you ,or someone you know, has ever been saved by antibiotics -------- raise a glass to Charlie, to Aktion 4F, and to a life, like all life, totally worthy of life.

 And raise a toast to Martin Bader who never got a chance to live out his life, thanks to Aktion T4 .....

BIG MO goes south - sort of....

In response to many puzzled potential readers of my ebook project on the lost history of wartime Manhattan's OTHER Project, I have re-titled it.


Here is the post from my new blog, Aktion 4f, that tells more.

Republican bloggers opposed to Obama's new health program re-introduced the term Aktion T4 (Aktion 4F's older, evil, sibling).

Millions of North Americans seemed to have missed its first introduction during what so many of us foolishly still call "The Good War".

I have changed the ebook's title many,many times.

This is because while each title was good ( and usually good-er than the last one) none was capable of encapsulating a big, big, complex story and theme in a short catchy title.

 This critical in today's world where most new books are first viewed from with a tiny, low resolution, 1 inch x 2 inch thumbnail photo online.

That is all that all online publishers and bookstores allow of any book's cover - from famous author or not.

With 1 million new book titles released in America alone, in just one year, we all do - and all must - 'judge books by their cover art and title' .....

my Aktion 4F posts are migrating - here's why

Read all about it in this post from my  new blog.

I try to explain why I am re-titling my ebook project about wartime Manhattan's OTHER Project as "Aktion 4F" .

It is entitled thus because that term (a) accurately describes the bulk of the project's medical staff and of their patients.

 In addition, (b) it reminds us that the project was begun to rebuke the Aktion T4 type of programs set up in Germany and throughout the Allied and Neutral worlds during WWII.

And it was changed because my readers and would-be readers are (almost) always right ...

Feedback back from would-be readers leads to new blog...

I had originally thought that the story of Dawson's "AKTION 4F" was a smaller story inside "MO goes po" (when Modernity suicided - and why) but my would-be readers disagreed.

They always immediately got the implications of something sub-titled "wartime Manhattan's other Project" because to them "The Manhattan Project" was a vivid shorthand for all that had gone wrong with the so called "Modernity Project".

Anybody who rose up as an alternative to, and rebuke of, the thinking behind the Manhattan Project was a hero in their eyes and someone well worth reading about.

But how and why and when Modernity became Post Modernity immediately seemed to evoke visions of french intellectuals speaking academic babble and my potential readers fled me as fast as they could.

They did want to hear about the decline and fall of Big Mo in a sense, but only if told through a 'life and times' biographical approach. I had thought I was doing that - I am doing that - but my title belied my claims.

Soooooooo - now the story of Big MO going postal (and postmodern) during WWII is inside Dawson's story - the minnow having succssfully swallowed the whale....

PS : A big thanks to Rebecca Mosher, my most ardent would-be reader of them all