Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Nature Made Me Do It" : All mass killings were Mercy Killings in the Modern Era

If you were fully Modern and truly believed that Nature and Darwin and Evolution had revealed the inevitability of the strong replacing the weak and the big the small, then can it ever  be said that you murdered the small and the weak ?

Weren't you simply tugging gently, tenderly, at their ankles, to hasten a merciful end, at a hanging that Mother Nature herself had ordained ?

Shouldn't you be thanked by their families , not despised ?

being Modern means never saying "The Devil Made Me Do It"

And why drag the Devil and the whole question of morality and evil into this : aren't we just talking about speeding up a scientific inevitability ?

Weren't most of the war deaths of the 20th century not military deaths at all but rather medicalized violence : death as therapy and death as mercy killings ?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ALL life is worthy of life as a full citizen or are just SOME judged 'worthy' ?

Nazi Germany - even at the depths of its imminent defeat - treated its full citizens well : recall that POW Kurt Vonnegut was working in a Dresden factory that made food supplements for pregnant mothers at the time of that city's Allied firebombing in February 1945.

But its non full citizens it killed outright or worked to death as starved slaves.

'Life worthy of Life' - 'Life unworthy of Life' are infamous German cum Nazi catchphrases that have come to symbolize THEM, so as to separate US for any shared responsibility for the horrors of  the
eugenic mass murder of WWII.

But when we re-cast those catchphrases as' life worthy or unworthy of life as full citizens' , we become uneasily aware that no society in the early 1940s was free of the sin of treating some of its members as less than fully human.

None .

When Henry Dawson proved this up for the Anglo Allies over their denying of life saving penicillin to young SBE patients deemed useless for the war effort - judged just 'useless mouths' consuming valuable medical resources - he made it clear to many just how close the Nazis and their erstwhile opponents really were, morally......

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

British surrender of LEROS spoils the smooth panty lines of WWII narratives

WWII began in early September 1939 and ended in early September 1945 : a net package of precisely six years with a seemingly nicely symmetrical 50/50 narrative arc about it.

(Conveniently for that oh so smooth narrative arc, truly significant events usually did occur around each of the seven Septembers.)

So go ahead ---- pick up any book on WWII at random and watch how smoothly the author's narrative is sure to unfold --- all the while bulldozing over any awkward facts in the process !

It will claim, for example , that for the first three years of the war, almost to a day, ie from early September 1939 to early September 1942, the Allies falter and fall back while the Axis advance ever forward.

Indeed, that month does mark the furthermost geographic advances of both Germany and Japan.

But then - almost on a dime, the tide turns - and now all the advances go to the Allies.

 From this moment forth the Axis only retreats , until its final formal defeat three years later, almost to the day.

(Here insert Stalingrad, Guadacanal, the Torch landings and El Alamein for colour illustration).

LEROS is one of the bumps in the panty liner of WWII narratives...

But then factor in the September 8th 1943 abject surrender of a sizeable British force on the island of Leros to the victorious Germans , more than a year later after the tide supposedly 'turned' , a big part of the little known British disaster called The Dodecanese campaign.

Little known today - though much remarked upon at the time - because it foils completely this nice smooth narrative arc and raises too many awkward questions about the whole Allied spin on WWII , as seen in virtually every book ever written on the war.

Seventy five years on, the whole world constantly pats itself on the back for the part its grandparents valiantly played in stopping the horrible horror and total evil of Nazism.

But if this is truly so, why were the Russians irrationally fighting to the death rather than surrender to the Nazis, even when beaten, only two months into their war, while the British were still rationally surrendering upon defeat to the Jerries, more than three years into their war ?

I do believe a lot of interesting and important things happened between 1939 and 1945, but the military battles were not among them.

Rather, WWII's  military actions were often deeply influenced by the results of mental conclusions already made, long in advance.

Made by the elites of the various nations of the world, all gauging each other in terms of the psychic distance between their elite values and the elite values of  any other potentially aggressor nation.

The conclusions reached decided whether that nation actively and determinedly declared war against other nations at war or whether the declaration of war was merely a formality, forced on them from the outside and not followed by any real action.

Or perhaps they decided to remain Neutral. If so, how 'neutral' ? Very friendly neutral ? Neutral Neutral ? or Hostile Neutral ?

In particular, the judged psychic distance between the various nations went into the political and military thinking of all nations as they pondered how readily they might surrender to the enemy , in the face of a likely military defeat.

Would they in the elite then all be lined up and quickly shot , or would they be treated with dignity as officer POWs and as the new passively collaborating administrative and commercial underlings ?

The conclusions reached then now seem startling in our present day eyes.

 The elites of the Western Allies and of the overseas Neutrals simply didn't think in ,the early 1940s, that their values and those of the ordinary German people and elites were all that far apart, deep down.

(The same goes for the elites of the 'colored' world, about the Japanese.

Excepting that the Slavs felt very differently about the Germans ---- as did the Chinese about the Japanese. And vice versa. As a result, most of the casualties of WWII occurred around these two combat zones.)

Back to the peoples of the Western Allies and their comparatively mild dislike of ordinary Germans .

Polls during WWII in Britain and America clearly demonstrate the existence of this view - even among ordinary people - and that it grew in popularity as the war went on. By contrast, Jews became less ,not more, popular as the war went on.)

So the people of the West didn't really want to go to war with the Germans, not merely to defend the interests of some unknown bunch of far off slavic peasants that the Germans were bringing their civilizing campaign upon.

And they didn't fear going into captivity as officer POWs or acting as the collaborating elite of a newly occupied subject nation within the German empire.

So why occur unnecessary military and civilian losses when you are clearly beaten ?

The Nazis were a bit of a different matter. They clearly did go too far, of course, way,way too far in actually acting upon their dislikes.

But even their dislikes were also largely in tune with the other countries' elites at that time.

They didn't like Socialist trade unionists, Modernist artists and intellectuals, Communists, Jews, Gypsy travellers, Homosexuals, Coloreds and those hopelessly deformed from birth --- but then who did - really ?

Most of the world's elite , in the early 1940s, believed as a fundamental of reality, that all Humanity could be scientifically divided into those Nature deemed worthy of full citizenship and those deemed worthy only of lesser citizenship - or worse.

Only a few - like Henry Dawson - among the world's elite, disagreed strongly with that global scientific consensus.

The elites of all the nations of WWII : victims, bullies, bystanders and reluctant intervenors were generally were united in sharing the supposedly scientific values of exclusion.

By contrast, fewer of our (younger) elites still feel so today and the (younger) non-elites among us are far more powerful overall, and most of them tend to favour values of inclusion.

Between the younger 'us' and our older grandparents and great grandparents there is a complete moral and scientific volte face of 180 degrees.

Until we accept that, we are going to keep getting the true history of WWII completely wrong .....

Monday, September 23, 2013

Churchill's bombers burn babies while FDR's bombers deliver penicillin to babies

I have tried awfully hard to find stories of Churchill's bombers delivering bottles of penicillin, rather than bombs of napalm, to the world's babies.

No luck so far.

But newspapers in 1943-1944 were rife with stories of FDR's bombers delivering various tiny bottles of penicillin half way around the world to save babies.

It is usual to emphasis how well the left-leaning FDR government got along with the right-leaning Churchill government but it is also possible to overdo all the censor-approved bonhomie.

Wartime penicillin is a clear example where the two differed wildly, with dire permanent consequences for Britain and the British Tories.

The Tory-dominated Ministry of Supply ,egged on by the likes of Alexander Fleming and Howard Florey, successfully kept the miracles of penicillin out of the popular British press, so that it might remain below the radar of the German chemists.

The hope was secret penicillin could be a medical-military weapon, a nasty surprise to drop on the Jerries on D-Day when Allied troop casualties quickly returning to the front while Axis wounded festered and died with only the outdated sulfa drugs to heal them.

The cost of the beginnings of an adequate supply of penicillin for British civilian and soldier alike was only one or two of Butcher Harris's endless bomber squadrons, but the MOS successfully throttled back penicillin production expenditures so that only British troop needs could be ( just barely) met.

In America, FDR's new Deal was dying, a victim of the war.

But in its last hurrah, the very New Dealish WPB (War Production Board) set the USA supply requests at a level a thousand times higher than the British levels, despite a population only three times bigger !

Thanks to Henry Dawson and Dante Colitti and Citizen Hearst, an outraged American public, led by Doctor Mom, demanded to know why the American drug companies were not cashing in on those massive 'firm orders' from Uncle Sam.

Henry Dawson's early supporter from the drug industry, John L Smith of Pfizer, took up the public's challenge and soon was producing penicillin at rates many dozens of times higher than the rest of the world combined.

Flush with excess penicillin, America could easily afford to divert some of its bombers off the killing work and towards delivering tiny vials of penicillin to dying children world wide.

Widely reported in the world press, this penicillin diplomacy from America quietly replaced the Pax Britanica with Pax Americana despite the fact that the Brits had held an exclusive on the life-saving balm for more than a dozen years.

Back home in the UK, things got worse for Churchill.

He had been widely expected to win the 1945 election - not the least by his lackluster opponents in the Labour Party , for his efforts in winning the war.

But doubts over Tory fairness in the quality of medical care for rich and for poor, highlighted in a famous Daily Mirror cartoon of a wounded British soldier, silently moved many voters (in an era before 'public' public polling) over to their opponents.

Unfairness of who got or did not get scarce British penicillin ( versus news stories of obvious American abundance), highlighted by newspaper stories of dying British children with SBE being denied the life-saving mold , was an important part of that emerging move away from the Tory-led government.

Penicillin was British-born, damn it all, and Churchill's government had fumbled the ball, giving it away to the Americans and yet denying it to British civilians.

Who gave a hoot - now - about how many European babies Butcher Harris's bombers had burned while flying above a war won on the ground by millions of Ivans ?

Wartime penicillin never cured Churchill's pneumonia - that is a myth.

But its British failure surely killed his electoral prospects, just as its American success helped pull Harry Truman back out of his expected electoral defeat.....

1945's choices : the Modern exclusionary values that gave us Auschwitz or the post Modern values that gave us 'Public Domain' penicillin ?

In early 1945, two Manhattan doctors had dueling visions of the possible world ahead.

The prominent one, Foster Kennedy ,  wanted to kill all babies with developmental issues.

The unknown other, Henry Dawson, wanted all babies in the world to have access to cheap, abundant (Public Domain) penicillin.

By the end of 1945, the unknown Dawson was dead but - perhaps surprisingly - his idea lived on after him.

Because, with the beginnings of  public revulsion over the revelations of Auschwitz doctors and children coming out of the Nuremberg trials, it was clear that Dawson had won most of the educated public over to his vision.

And this only a few years after public polls indicated that the majority of the educated public favoured Foster Kennedy's murderous proposals instead.

Dawson's unstinting efforts to make wartime penicillin truly inclusive had greatly shortened his life, but clearly they hadn't been totally in vain ....

post Modern age ushered in by baby's whimper, not Bomb's bang

Two 'Booms' occurred in 1945 : which was more important ?

It was the year 1945, all historians seem to agree , that ushered out the Modern age and ushered in the post Modern age : and ushered it in with some sort of a bang.

But what sort of bang : was it the secretive Manhattan Project's Atom Bomb big Boom !!! ?

Or was it the smallest Manhattan Project's inclusive vision of penicillin priced and available for all , a vision that encouraged women all over the world to see a brighter future ahead and gave them reason to want to get pregnant ?

Was it then the penicillin-and-good-health fueled Baby Boom that really ushered in our current age ?

Was an old age ushered out by a newborn baby's contented whimper ?

That's sort of my take : yes, revulsion against yesterday's exclusionary values that gave us Auschwitz.

But also gratitude for today's inclusionary values that gave us  'cheap and abundant penicillin for all' , with its promise of a healthy childhood ahead for most newborn children.....

Saturday, September 21, 2013

After all, sharing unexamined assumptions is what makes two scientists 'peers' in the first place

Logically, the only thing worth examining is the unexamined assumptions that we all hold in common

The only real test of a scientific hypothesis is to have it reviewed by non-peers , for they will probably not share the underlying 'unexamined assumptions' that form the outer limits of whatever space a potentially new scientific theory can inhabit in a particular discipline.

By its very definition, peer review always fails, must fail, any truly ground-breaking scientific effort.

But having new ideas torn apart by non-peers is difficult in practise because many non-peers will fail to fully understand the context of the subtle internal arguments being made in support of that particular hypothesis.

Perhaps pre-publishing a particularly bold and unorthodox hypothesis to the world wide web and inviting critiques from all and sundry might get an useful blend of non-peers and peers tearing it apart.

But for most academics, the hypothesis in their potential article or monograph is simply too limited in 'newness' to be viewed as controversial by more than their fellow specialists.

This is a long roundabout way of saying that if a hypothesis really deserves a Nobel prize, it better have been first rejected by peer reviewers in all of the most influential journals in that scientific field.

Unfortunately, most Nobels are for normal science,  for works that only bites away at exciting new patches of grass , well inside the unexamined assumptions that form a scientific field's boundaries.

The Modern Age (and its Science) had a particularly strongly hegemonic set of unexamined assumptions to hold it together .

 This was in fact the main reason for the strength and uniformity of the underlying beliefs that united Modernity's many warring ideologies.

As a result, when a few minor and extremely non-charismatic  scientists fundamentally challenged those unexamined assumptions, they were not put on trial and burned at the stake, in a scientific sense.

Instead their views merely caused bemusement and puzzlement among the scientists and the science-following educated laity of the Modern Age.

These minor scientists might not even have been aware of how fundamental their critiques were.

Thus they saw no need to further nail their views dramatically, in a Luther-like fashion, upon the nearest lab wall as some sort of troop-raising manifesto.

One minor scientist however, did unite his intellectual opposition to the Modern Age's unexamined assumptions with his moral objections to the Modern Age's behavior and his impact, perhaps as a result, had world wide and prophetic impact.

His name was Henry Dawson (Martin Henry Dawson).

The conclusions he drew about the microbial small and the weak from his pioneering studies in HGT (and other such marvels) , put steel beneath the velvet of his moral objections as to how the human small and weak were being mis-treated by Modernity's Axis and Allied alike in WWII.

His heart was open, agape, to the sufferings of small but his mind was also open, agape, to the brilliance of the small as well.

And that made all the difference......

Dying life unworthy of wartime penicillin was Life unworthy of Life

"all Life is worthy of Penicillin"

The infamous term "Life unworthy of Life", created by a German psychiatrist Alfred Hoche in the 1920s , is generally thought of as bring used exclusively by the Nazis.

Used by them during a Total War to justify killing everyone from working class Aryan babies with developmental issues to the entire Jewish population of Europe.

But the term had a much greater transnational appeal than that .

Prominent American psychiatrist Foster Kennedy thought , in 1941 and 1942, during that same Total War, that the USA would be justified in killing its little Aryan babies with developmental issues.

Shamefully, America's leading psychiatric journal actually agreed with him and only one psychiatrist disputed his thesis.

And the Allies' medical establishment, led by Dr Chester Keefer and his NAS committee, used this idea to justify denying SBE-curing penicillin to young people dying of SBE all over the Allied world,  because they felt that even a cured SBE patient was still useless to the Total War effort.

("Life judged unworthy of Penicillin.")

By contrast, Henry Dawson and a handful of other doctors worldwide supported, and fought for, the notion that "All Life is worthy of Penicillin" - even in , particularly in , a Total War supposedly  fought precisely against the evil idea that some Life was, ipso facto, unworthy of Life.....

Friday, September 20, 2013

even DENIERS can govern well in abundant times , but ...

... when the available per capita resources get small, look to the small to govern best.

Former and soon-to-be-former PMs Howard and Harper are in the news again this week , charged with leading a renewed "war on science" (so called) but I doth protest - again.

These two, and their ilk, love science : Production science.

The science of dig it up, tear it up and burn it up.

The science of greed. Their science is so bright, you gotta wear shades.

The science they do hate is the science of second-guessing, of naysayers, of the cautious and the skeptical.

Impact science.

Canadian-born sociologist Alan Schnailberg's  seminal 1980 division of science into these two branches should be the foundational mother's milk of every Green intellectual wannabe - but sadly ( Elizabeth ??!! ) it doesn't .

Impact science denies ( OMG, he used the D-word !) the world's resources are infinite and it denies that the world's capabilities to be a toxic garbage dump are infinite.

The DENIERS merely deny the denial ; deny there are any limits to Man's god-like powers over nature and reality.

They deny the claim that we will never ever be able to replicate our Earth-like experience at a mass-level on any planet but this one.

The DENIERS have had a good run of it - with a planet this rich and the past population of humans so small and so technologically simple, they couldn't miss.

But now we are hitting the wall and their political parties and intellectual leaders are running out of moral authority and intellectual gas.

With three varieties of DENIER parties offering to form your next government, what can any fully-visioned voter do - besides cry in despair ?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

WWII was a conflict within nations and within INDIVIDUALS ... as well as between nations

War ,to give it a quick definition, is a violent conflict conducted between nations, not between individuals.

But the intensity of commitment with which individuals and groups within any nation fight in that nation's war can vary immensely --- perhaps never more so than during WWII.

(We are not considering the rare case when a citizen is in total non-compliance with their nation's war decisions, by becoming a complete conscientious objector or a traitor.)

The existing WWI paradigm ,within which all existing history on that war has been written to date , never denies that each nation had a somewhat divided mind between 1931-1945 on various war issues.

Still writers accepting of that paradigm tend to focus exclusively on the nation against nation conflict and - I claim ! - seriously distort what was really going on and what was truly fundamental in a 'long history' view.

These writings tend to limit the war's big moments to a military battle between the modern age's various ideologies : liberal capitalist democracies versus race (Japan, Germany,and Italy's fascism) and class based (communist Russia) dictatorships.

There is no denying that for the world's population living inside the modern age bubble seventy five years ago , it was the differences between the various strands of modern thought that so dominated their minds.

But what excuse have we historical-minded authors , living seventy years after that bubble began breaking, to be 'captured' by our protagonists' ways of thinking ?

Historians like to claim lots of time is necessary between historian and event to render the beginnings of an objective assessment of it.

Isn't seventy five years (and more) time enough to look anew at WWII ?

To see it no merely as a Modern war, but in fact the last Modern war, and the beginnings of the post-Modern world ?

If we look again at the three big Modern ideologies : liberal capitalist imperialism, fascist cum racial imperialism and communist imperialism, we could today try to see that what they had in common , as opposed to what divided them.

What they held in common was an exclusivist or imperialist worldview that divided all the world into those deserving and those undeserving of the basic rights of humanness.

Does it really matter now, except in the details, whether or not their 'undeserving' included blacks or Jews or well off peasants ?

A Leningrad communist harshly criticizing another young communist for sharing her ration with her dying grandmother, saying the grandmother can contribute nothing to the struggle against the Nazi siege, but that young girl could and she needed all that food to keep up her strength.

A Nazi plan to kill off all German mentally challenged children in taxpayer-supported institutions so that their hospitals and staff could be used instead to look after moderately wounded soldiers capable of returning to the front.

An Allied medical establishment ( take your pick : America, the UK , Canada or Australia ) callously saying SBE was not 'a war disease' and so wives dying from it must be denied life-saying penicillin, so erring husbands with VD can return to fight on the front-lines.

This modern age utilitarianism and instrumentalism run wild - can you really tell its practitioners apart,  without a label ?

But there was an individual-based counter-reaction against it.

People all over the world between 1931 and 1946 began to internally wrestle with the morality of a exclusivist versus inclusivist worldview.

Admittedly tiny in numbers at first when it came to open rebellion against the Modern worldview, this critique came to centre on the idea that wartime penicillin should be offered to all and any.

We do know it received widespread public support, from August 1943 onwards,  at a time when the polls said that most peoples' hearts were still hardened against treating the Jew or black as fully human .

SBE, a rheumatic heart disease, was primarily a poor person's disease : the people who got it tended to be the poor among the visible minorities and immigrants.

The world's daily press correctly sensed it first.

They sensed the widespread public support for the idea these young patients with SBE should be saved, war or no war ---- number one by making a lot lot lot more penicillin than had been produced during the 15 years to date.

By 1949, the once-radical change was complete and modern exclusivity was being replaced plank by plank by our current post-Modern inclusivity.

So, for example, the  idea that it was right that enemy children should die because members of the Allied population had cut their penicillin for illicit gain was now widely viewed by film-goers as the ultimate of all possible evils,  as indicated by the viewer love of  a film that still ranks in the top ten of all time : "The Third Man" .

If only Henry Dawson was still around in 1949, to see what change in the public morality that he had wrought ....

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WWII: the battle for inclusive medicine over exclusive medicine

In 1940, Big Pharma only wants to sell its profitable-expensive (patented drugs) to those who could afford to pay for them directly : just as the AMA only wanted doctors to heal those who could afford to pay directly for its members profitably-expensive services.

Against this, some doctors like Henry Dawson believed that all life dined at a common table and that all life deserved a chance to live , all life deserved medical care, including penicillin.

He did not believe in dividing the world into "life worthy of wartime penicillin" and "life unworthy of wartime penicillin".

When the AMA and Big Pharma, working together at the OSRD and the NAS , thought and acted differently , he promoted among his fellow doctors the idea of hospital-made inclusive penicillin.

Inclusive Penicillin  was that hospital made by individual doctors , without thought of patents or personal gain, to save the lives of all those regarded by the government's medical establishment as being "life unworthy of wartime penicillin".

The movement consisted of just Dawson's team at first, then people he directly convinced to follow his ideals.

It then spread all around the world as more and more doctors , encouraged by an awakened and angered laity, urged them on.

All the dramatic new stories, on young mothers and young children snatched from certain death at the last minute by minute amounts of penicillin flown around the world by seconded heavy bombers, seemed to have had an unexpected secondary affect.

Suddenly many of the modern era's population rediscovered feelings of compassion and empathy they thought they had successfully exorcised under the rationalism and utilitarianism
of modern culture.

Their hearts softened at the sight of all those saved babies, children of strangers, and they looked at all their neighbours and all strangers in a new, kindlier light .

An post-modern light ...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Never Show it , if you can Tell It"

I'm a story-teller, not a story-shower.

If I was in the Showing Business, I'd be making a movies, not writing a book.

Not that I haven't thought seriously of the potential of Henry Dawson's penicillin story as a 21st century version of an oratorio.

 But I realize most successful musical-dramatic works - due to their need for textual brevity - must rely upon the audience's existing knowledge to fill in the gaps in the storyline and mood.

So this book first, then someone else can develop its musical and dramatic potential.

I do eventual see a successful musical story, set entirely in the Dawson team's tiny, tight little world of lab - clinician's consulting office- hospital ward at Columbia Presbyterian, and  running between September 1940 and September 1944.

But as for my book itself, I actually feel more comfortable telling it, using as few (real) direct quotes as possible.

It is popular history slash biography ,not popular journalism , after all.

For some reason,  biography slash popular history gets very little attention in any standard account of narrative non-fiction and creative non-fiction.

That account tends to regard lots of direct quotes from interviews and elaborate scene-recreating, complete with pages of dialogue, as the very exemplars of the art.

I instead want a narrative voice located somewhere between today's Economist magazine and the early Time Magazine : a voice that must smoothly synthesize lots of material ,hidden just below the surface in years of research, and present it to the reader in nice small digestible chunks.

Academic history, in contrast to popular history, tends to cast a much smaller net in each book , and replaces creative non-fiction mantra of lots of direct quotes with a need for lots of citations .

But popular history must self-consciously come to a lot of tiny final decisions, one way or the other, based on quite serious research, but done in areas academic historians would prefer to leave as (amply discussed) open questions.

So is the only Charles Aronson in the 1940 American Census   Henry Dawson's first penicillin patient ?

I believe so, based on a large number of closely reasoned probabilities. But I haven't proven him to be so - and an academic account would discuss all my possibilities and then leave it open to further debate and change.

Done repeatedly, this appraisal of the scant evidence history tends to leave behind, so slows the pace that 99 % of even determined readers bail out , let alone when we consider the high fail-out count among merely averagely motivated casual readers.

Perhaps upon publication, my book will provoke a lot of people to offer up contrary evidence on the exact indenity of Charlie and on many other points.

Fair enough, thankfully an ebook can be quickly altered to correct and expand its various points.

But my book has been researched as far along as I can afford to do it - short of months spent in London, then months in New York and then months in Washington DC and then again in Adelaide.

So : it is what it is......

"Collar the Lot" : Churchill's callousness push-starts A-bomb and Penicillin development

I don't like Winston Churchill.

Granted he was a very complex man, much given to uttering extreme verbal outbursts on whatever position he held that moment, replaces a few hours or weeks later by an equally exaggerated outburst on the opposite view on that same issue.

So it is easy to find vivid quotes from him displaying both humanity and brutality towards the German Jews and Leftists who fled Hitler for Britain before 1939.

For brutal , see his comment 'collar the lot' as soon as he became PM in May 1940.

Until then, the UK had sensibly only interned ( interned gently) those it deemed as obviously pro-Nazi.

But as he threw pro Nazi Aryans and very anti Nazi Jews together in internment camps, those few (because judged potentially 'valuable' to the war effort) German Jews still free in the English-speaking democracies could see dire times ahead for them too.

If they didn't move from being potentially valuable to 'actually valuable' and soon, they and their families would be interned with all the rest.

Ironically, existing restrictions on their current activities actually helped many succeed in becoming valuable ( very,very,very valuable) to the Allied cause.

We already well know about all those Jewish physicists, denied the right to work on important war efforts like Radar, who  fell back upon the then scientific backwater of a possible engine of atomic energy.

Their energetic development (hello Simon, Szilard and others) led directly to the idea of a possible A-Bomb becoming not the last but the first priority of the war.

It is not often thought of in the same way, but the Penicillin project (often twinned with the A-Bomb as one of the two big discoveries of the war) was push-started by two German Jewish emigres also facing possible internment for themselves and their families in the Spring and Summer of 1940, after Churchill's churlish actions.

Ernst Chain had to push and pull Howard Florey into realizing their peacetime, long term, basic research on microbe on microbe warfare could have huge wartime implications.

He probably pushed and pulled a little too hard in claiming credit on a back up project - this one on the chemical nature of the activity of the (mildly anti-bacterial) connective cellwall-destroying enzyme Lysozyme.

This had the effect of rousing the anger of , and the fear within, of another German Jewish emigre in America who had additional fears as he was also an WWI veteran of the Central Powers.

Karl Meyer had worked with (Martin) Henry Dawson among many others,to do the initial work on the chemical nature of Lysozyme and on some other important connective tissue destroying enzymes.

He saw himself as the pioneer in this small but valuable new field in bio-chemistry.

Meyer heard of Chain's forthcoming exaggerated claims for his Lysozyme efforts via the American-born Jew Leslie A Epstein (later Falk).

Like Meyer and Chain in those days, Epstein was a left-winger in politics and in medicine.

He got along with both of these two fellow Jews.

He had been forced, by general government order,  to flee Oxford University and a Rhodes scholarship before his year and PhD was completed.

So he completed his work, begun under Chain in Oxford, with Meyer in New York, because he was the other recognized expert on the topic.

He there mentioned Chain's part in the recent successful demonstration (May 1940) that the twelve year old nigh-on useless penicillin actually could cure bacterial disease inside mice without harming them.

This meant it probably could do likewise inside humans - humans perhaps even with guns and helmets. There was a shooting war on , after all.

This work was to be published in late August 1940 in Lancet.

Chain was soon tasked to try and synthesize the natural active ingredient as fast as possible.

Meyer - I believe correctly - felt that Chain was a far better 'big ideas man' than a working bio-chemist and that Meyer could do the job far better than Chain or the fungi ever could .

He couldn't beat the fungi, as it turned out - no one could - no one ever has.

But Meyer's secret plan to repay Chain for stealing his Lysozyme credit AND secure his family from possible internment with Nazis by synthesizing penicillin was not without its own profound consequences.

Because he badly needed his friend Henry Dawson and his two skills , if his project was to succeed.

Dawson and his co-worker Gladys Hobby were expert micro-biologists.

They were highly skilled in growing large amount of microbes, like the penicillium.

Their skill was needed to provide the huge amounts of raw natural product Meyer had to destructively analyze, all to guide the process of synthesis of penicillin from pure chemical compounds.

Secondly, only Dawson the clinician had the licensed legal access to animal and human subjects to test the biological effectiveness of any new results at synthesis.

Then Dawson abruptly decided Meyer's penicillin might do a lot more than just be tested on human patients.

It might just cure patients otherwise doubly-fated to an inevitable death from the dreaded SBE.

 Doubly fated to needlessly die, because in the Fall of 1940, it seemed the medical establishment was using the upcoming war effort as an excuse to treat research upon them as the very lowest priority.

In addition, American Big Pharma had shown no interest in providing any raw starting material of a potential - natural - drug they considered far tougher to work with than the still tractable and still profitable - chemically-oriented - sulfa family of drugs.

And they had no interest in developing a consultant-style relationship with a virtually unknown emigre Jewish biochemist, even with a growing reputation for the quality of his work.

(Meyer did have some sort of relationship with German-controlled Schering but they didn't see the potential - at least for their firm at this time - in the area of fungal-based antibiotics.)

Dawson saw this growing indifference to the sad fate of the poor SBE youths as part and parcel of the growing general meanness of the Modern Age itself, as exemplified by humanity's attitudes to small nations under attack from their big bullying neighbours.

This indifference to the fate of smaller 'others' started in Manchuria in 1931, then extended to Ethiopia and Spain in the mid 1930s  and then Austria and Czechoslovakia at the end of the decade.

Now it was Poland, Finland, the three Balt states, Denmark, Norway and Belgium turn to be attacked and generally conquered by bully neighbours.

Still America's population and hence government remained firmly 'neutral' - as did the vast majority of the still sovereign nations of the world.

In hindsight, it is better to regard them all , us all , as being cold-hearted bystanders in the global schoolyard, watching indifferently as bullies beat up babies.

When Dawson decided to use Meyer's penicillin project to confront this indifference to the small of the world, starting with the specific case of the young people needlessly dying of SBE , he eventually set in motion a globe-wide reaction against Modernity's cult of callousness.

But let us never forget it was Winston Churchill's own particular callousness that first set it all in motion , back in May 1940 ....

Saturday, September 14, 2013

WWII: Bullies and Bystanders vs Innocents and Intervenors

NYC-based Dr Henry Dawson in 1941 was clearly an intervenor with his 'inclusive' penicillin (and may I point out that adult intervenors (as I well know) were often bullied themselves as children).

 SBE patients , such as his patients Charlie and Miss H were clearly the innocents.

NYC-based Dr Foster Kennedy in 1941 was clearly a bully, particularly telling that he would use the excuse of the shortage of staff and resources during an upcoming war as an excuse to finally implement his long held plan to kill all the deformed children.

Shades of Adolf Hitler in an exactly similar setting.

His active verbal supporters at the very top of the world's largest and most influential mental health body, the American Psychiatric Association, were clearly the stone-hearted bystanders a bully needed to get away with his deeds.

In the wider world of WWII, one can easily spot the bullies, the innocents and stone hearted bystanders (aka Neutrals)  as individuals and as (almost) entire nations.

But sadly, no one nation stands out as a whole hearted intervenor.

That noble task is left to a few in all nations, to try and heal the hearts of the stone-hearted majority by rousing their consciences  to the sad and unfair fate of the small and the weak in face of bullies.

Bullies like Hitler, Stalin, Tojo and sometimes even people like Churchill and others on the Allied and Neutral side.....

Friday, September 13, 2013

Penicillin flown to save Mrs Frank Oxford ,Amisk : 70 years ago this week

It is the first case I could find of penicillin being used to save a life in Canada : 70 years ago this week, Mrs Frank Oxford dying in a Hardisty hospital of childbirth fever was given penicillin specially flown all the way from the Banting Institute in Toronto.

The Americans a week earlier had specially flown penicillin ( in a bomber no less !) to save a dying girl and the Canadians authorities scurried to play me-too catchup.

A life and death story involving women and children that successfully and repeatedly made it to the front pages of North American newspapers that usually only told the life and death stories of men - men fighting overseas.

Let us see if the Edmonton Herald et al misses this anniversary of this historical story .....

So I am a punster , is that such a crime !?

Stone-heartedness : physical or moral affliction or both ?

I am sure a gene is responsible.... or its early neural damage while a child-to-be is still resting on the placenta.


Punning can't be cured - only endured.

So my 'stone-hearted' : a play on the stone-like calcined formations on the heart valves that defines the SBE disease that Henry Dawson eventual cured with his 'inclusive' penicillin ?

Did Dawson merely want to see these teenagers and youth enjoy all the courting and dancing that all the others their age enjoyed : 'dancing' over stone (hearted valves) ?

Did he merely hate to think of the SBEs slowly dying inside mentally and emotionally as well as physically, as their medical condition forbade them doing anything vigorous and youth-like , in case it hastened their inevitable early end ?

Or is my title a broad hint that Dawson's real target was much bigger than the few dozen lives he saved directly : was his inclusive penicillin really aimed at curing all of the morally stone-hearted ?

That is to say, the majority of us between 1931 and 1945.

The us who were so determinately indifferent to doing anything concrete to save our weaker and smaller neighbours when they were under attack by big bullies like Hitler , Stalin and Tojo ?

The same morally stone-hearted of us who refused to allow any live-saving penicillin go to the physically stone-hearted SBEs ?

Or all of the above .......?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fred J Stock : righteous among the nations ? (Part I)

Part I : the Era of Sulfa has run out of steam...

In May 1943, almost 15 years after the world's best lifesaver - Penicillin G - was first discovered , the whole world was making about a 100 million units of it a month.

That sounds like a lot but it is not at all - that amount of Penicillin G today would be only sufficient to treat one ordinarily sick patient requiring it !

A severely ill patient today requiring penicillin G might need a whole year's worth (1200 million units) at May 1943 production rates.

But May 1943 was hardly ordinary times with ordinary patients - it was the height of WWII , the biggest deadliest war ever seen : a seven ring circus of sickness and injury where the box office never closed.

The only other lifesaver around at that time - the wonderful sulfa drugs - had had a great five year run of success (cheap and easy to make in huge amounts, easy to give to patients) but had now run out of steam and were in grave danger of collapse.

By the Fall of 1942 , the chemists had a convincing scientific explanation for why they had run out of places on the basic sulfa ring to insert new additional  "side chain" molecules, to provide additionalanti-bacterial action via new variants of  sulfa.

So : no new sulfa drugs for germ-killing ---- ever .

The existing ones were now meeting unexpectedly rapid bacterial resistance - the normal solution : up the dosage amount and duration of treatment to overcome that resistance - had revealed just how dangerously toxic the safe sulfa drugs could be at high and prolonged dosages.

A repeat of WWI's deadly combo pandemic of Spanish (viral) Flu and (bacterial) Pneumonia and maybe this time more than a 100 million people (one in twenty) might die.

A huge potential disaster loomed, just offstage.

The problem , as always , was that scientists were in charge of public policy on penicillin - not politicians.

The academic scientists - on penicillin - had made common cause with their normally mortal enemies : Big Pharma.

Penicillin had long been ready to report for war duty - but only as a public domain natural substance made up in medieval brews by rural peasant midwives from mold slime ( I am paraphrasing the scientists' and CEOs' mutual objections here.)

The CEOs were chemically-minded as only executives matured during the chemistry-made interwar years could be and really wanted a synthetic penicillin.

Synthetic means man-made means patents : patents to raise prices and secure world markets free from profit-cutting competitors.

The scientists claimed to abhor profit-making but loved reputation making instead.

And for scientists still unsure if their new found high social status was really secure , it would be a retrograde step for the world's best ever lifesaver to be seen as something a housewife could brew up in their kitchen and apply directly.

Because that meant all its lifesaving prestige would bypass both the male academic basic scientist and the male applied scientists in medical labs and hospital wards.

(For the Gender War raged on , military war or not.)

The OSRD/NAS in America and the MRC in the UK ,dominated by Republican/Conservative Party scientists (for virtually all tenured academics in those years voted Republican or Conservative), controlled the production of penicillin until May 1943.

Their conservative views even continued to dominate the Conservative Ministry of Supply in the UK.

But in America they were soon to be defeated - in great part because they were now to deal with the very New Deal and Democratic Party-oriented War Production Board (WPB) and the formidable head of its Drugs and Cosmetics Branch, Fred J Stock.....

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WWII was all about who we include , who we exclude ...

When we say that Henry Dawson's vision of wartime penicillin was 'inclusive', while that of Howard Florey was 'exclusive' , we are really getting at the key issue that divided all the world during, before and after WWII.

 " Just who do we include in ;  just who do we exclude out of our civil society's blessings ?"

Florey never called his vision for wartime penicillin 'exclusive' , but he did much use another term that means the same thing and in any case , his definite actions spoke much louder than his unspoken assumptions.

The word he always used to describe his goals for penicillin was 'pure' , chemically pure.

A dose of penicillin that excludes everything else in the original penicillin juice, whether that be helpful, neutral or harmful.

A 100 gram Vitamin C rich orange not merely concentrated into Vitamin C rich orange juice but further purified until it is a mere 100 mg of 100% chemically pure Vitamin C powder ... with all that impure orange taste and texture safely removed.

If Calvinists ever become our leading chefs, this is what our food will look like : pure carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals in enormous pill form and worked down with many cups of sterile water.

Hitler wanted to exclude Jews, Romas, Queers, the chronically ill and the handicapped , socialists, Blacks - you name it - to make Germany one big pure homogeneous Aryan nation and race.

Left-leaning Social Medicine, of which Dawson was a proponent , wanted to see that Medicine helped all those sick : it was inclusive.

 And not just by helping those American blacks, aboriginals and immigrants usually neglected under 'for-profit' medicine either.

Its proponents also wanted to intervene (medically and otherwise), overseas ,to help those under attack by Hitler, Stalin and Tojo.

By contrast, the conservatives behind the idea of "War Medicine"  wanted to use the defence of America as an excuse to roll back the New Deal emphasis on Social Medicine by claiming that in a Total War lead-up, all precious resources had to shift away from the (generally poorer) 4Fs to the (generally better off) 1A citizens.

Just because they talked war did not mean they were pro intervention overseas, just the opposite.

Their vision not just excluded helping sick 4F Americans at home, it also excluded helping sick 4Fs overseas as well.

Florey and Fleming both wanted penicillin to be chemically 100% pure and synthetic before it was produced in big volumes.

They were also both in intimate lockstep with the War Medicine proponents at Britain's Ministry of Supply and America's OSRD who wanted to restrict civilian access to (and knowledge of) the miracle cure , all the better to make penicillin a weapon of war.

If it could be kept exclusively as a secret weapon of war, the Allies could return wounded troops to combat quicker than the Germans or Japanese could.

By contrast, Dawson felt that doctors should help the sick and wounded soldiers of both sides (including Allied POWS !) and help the civilians of all sides : Neutral , Axis and Allied.

And  he wanted penicillin - whether synthetically pure or naturally impure* he didn't care - produced in mass levels now , not after the war was over.

(* His team never let the impurity of their self-proclaimed "crude penicillin" stop them from being the first in history to give it systemically, via needle, to save a life.

 They later even published a journal article speculating crude penicillin had additional beneficial substances that made it a better medication than just pure penicillin itself...)

Dawson definitely did not want to see the medicine produced in tiny levels so as to render acceptable the rationing of it, to justify   giving it only to those civilians who were useful because of their involvement in the war effort.

He felt even a person incapable of almost any work still deserved penicillin, a warm meal, a warm bed and a warm smile.

Dawson felt this sort of American medical establishment thinking was far too close to that of Hitler's Aktion T4 projects - where people judged non-useful were starved, denied warm shelter and medicine or killed outright.

He believed if the Allies were seen saving the lives of people most of the educated world saw as 'useless' - even during an all-out Total War - this would help defeat Hitler morally in the many many Neutral countries and also strengthen the resolve of those Allied frontline troops facing death to defeat him militarily.

If the OSRD and Florey used penicillin as a weapon, we need ask did Dawson use it as a weapon, as well ?

Yes he certainly did.

As a weapon in a moral battle.

Dawson's touting of the inclusive use of wartime medicine definitely did have a moral cum political/diplomatic impact, in addition to the extra patients it medically admitted to be saved.......

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Despite Eric Lax, Howard Florey is still "Box Office Poison" to women readers

And as every book editor well knows , most readers of narrative fiction/non-fiction  are women.

But in the Lax take on the wartime penicillin saga, the hero offered up is a man who leaves his deaf middle class wife to ride around on her bike in the rain collecting urine from penicillin patients while he 'has it off' with his aristocratic mistress in the luxurious bath and bedroom suite he had at his office in (never-Blitzed) Oxford England .

And this at a time when millions of Britons in the rest of the UK were being bombed out their homes by the Blitz and (barely) living in makeshift shelters.

Charming, really charming !

Just of the sort of hero women readers want to cuddle up to - Not.

The character - or lack of it - of Howard Florey  is what made Eric Lax's recent biography such a flop among ordinary readers.

So, despite the fact that a survey of thousands of American women found they considered penicillin the most important news story of the entire 20th century , we still have never had a successful popular book or movie about the dramatic wartime history of penicillin.

What is missing in all past efforts is a focus on the one classical hero in the whole saga : the dying Dr Dawson and his unrelenting efforts to make penicillin inclusive not exclusive.

That and a too trusting reliance by previous writers upon the official histories rather than digging deeper into the primary records.

Because the people in Washington and London who wrote the official histories determined, above all, to cover up their very expensive and very time-wasting wartime flop : the synthetic penicillin project led by Florey and George Merck and paid for mostly by the taxpayers - as always.

So they tried to pretend that the stone these builders rejected had really been their idea all along. With Dawson prematurely dead at war's end and unable to set the record straight , it was - literally - dead simple.

Women, around the world , will buy a popular history about wartime penicillin by the tens of millions of copies - with the right set of heroes and villains laid out before them.

"The smallest Manhattan Project : the unexpected triumph of inclusive penicillin" will do just that .....

It was the smallest of the wartime Manhattan Projects, but it had the biggest impact on making our world a kinder gentler place

Has the Manhattan-based Atomic Bomb and nuclear reactors really made our world a kinder healthier place ?

Was the Manhattan-based Norden bombsight and its delusion of mass bombing of civilians as way to end all future wars really the way to a kinder gentler world ?

Was Manhattan-based Dr Foster Kennedy's wartime project to propose the gassing of all the retarded children ,in emulation of Hitler's Aktion T4 project, really going to make us a better people ?

But Henry Dawson's tiny project was completely different : it was to see that abundant cheap natural penicillin was made available to all, without exception, at the height of a total war.

 Even those judged medically in the Allied nations as being ' life unworthy of wartime medical care' .

Dawson wanted them saved not in spite of it being wartime, but rather precisely because it was wartime, because morally this was the best single way to combat Hitler's deadly yet globally popular eugenic ideology .

The legacy of the belief in life's 100% inclusivity, born from his tiny Manhattan-based project , lives on more than a half century after he's been gone.....

Irony : the smallest Manhattan Project has had the biggest impact in making our world better

If size truly mattered (the bigger the better), then the smallest of the wartime Manhattan projects wouldn't matter.

But it doesn't and so it did (matter).

The inclusive delivery of cheap, safe, non-patented natural penicillin was the biggest single improvement that the world saw in the 20th century.

Not primarily because of penicillin's life-saving abilities, awesome as they were and remain.

It is more from the fact that wartime penicillin was so successfully and so surprisingly converted from its intended use as a scarce, patented, expensive, exclusive-to-the-Allied-troops-only medicine by a tiny ragtag group of "acting-up" civilians and doctors.

Wartime penicillin was turned into something that was mass produced cheaply from non-patented natural penicillin for all the wartime world to benefit from : friend and foe, civilian and soldier, those judged 'worthy' and those judge  'unworthy' of life alike.

The 'inclusively of all life' was the finest legacy that the smallest Manhattan Project left for us.

Henry Dawson had intended it to combat wartime medical eugenics at home and in Germany.

But later his example was used time and again to combat any future possible attempts  to go down the deadly eugenic medical route.

The biggest Manhattan Project was all about exclusivity and secrecy - even claiming that mere unspoken thoughts about nuclear energy were born secret and were the exclusive property of the American government.

But what main stream politician today dares aim for majority government by running on a platform of race, gender, class and eugenic exclusivity ?

This then is Henry Dawson's true legacy and the tiny size of his project matters not a jot or tittle .....

High tech drugs uphold White Man's Burden (1940)

It is still not often recognized that by the late 1930s, particularly after the huge success of the totally-not-from-nature Sulfa drugs (because they were 100% artificial) , high tech pharmaceuticals had became the key pillar upholding "The White Man's Burden".

Firstly - but still relatively unimportant compared to today - the biggest high tech pharmaceutical nations intended to earn lots of  of export revenues, via exclusive sales of high tech drugs to their informal (Germany and America) or formal (Britain and France) empires.

To do so, they had to strongly imply that that the only really safe and effective drugs were made of pure chemical synthetics produced in the leading medical research and chemical industry nations - conveniently , themselves and themselves only.

But this claim has much bigger 'legs' .

Because high tech drugs could also be used as the best single way to defend an old and failing hegemonic trope : the so called "White Man's Burden".

In the recent past, Europeans and European Americans had justified invading and ruthlessly exploiting others' societies as part of a holy missionary drive to bring Christianity, peace and democracy to primitive or despotic cultures.

Doctors and nurses had always been a big part of that mission effort but only as clinicians : hands-on, bedside doctors and nurses.

This hands-on help was all part of the (now-fading) 19th century belief in empathy, charity and humanitarianism.

In the sparkling brand new Twentieth Century, cold hard rational Science was the new God.

Pharmaceutical research could be used to hold off the many new opponents Civilized European Man faced by the time of the Great Depression.

Let us imagine a drug company ad's illustration from circa 1940.

In one corner of the illustration : a white European-origined  man , well educated and upper middle class,  stern-faced  in a white lab coat in a gleaming porcelain white laboratory located in a big country's biggest city, staring thoughtfully at the synthetic contents of a beaker.

In the other corner : a dark-faced peasant woman, poor and uneducated, cooking up some foul-smelling 'healing' Nature-based brew in her rural hovel, somewhere in the dank Tropics.

Implied strongly in the text copy below was the claim that her mishmash of a folk remedy would only harm rather than help, while his 100% pure synthetic drug cured - completely, cheaply and safely.

No Oxford-educated-darkie  was going to be able to "outside agitate" his way around that winsome storyline.

Obviously ,no one expected an "inside agitator" would come along and betray both his race and his profession.

But that is exactly what New York's Columbia University based Henry Dawson did.

In 1941, in the august pages of the New York Times itself, house organ of modernity , he gave a loud defence of his life-saving "crude penicillin" as  home-brewed himself from foul-smelling natural mold slime.

No wonder his ultimately hugely successful efforts were so resisted while he was alive and so buried with him after his premature death......

Monday, September 9, 2013

In one of those ironies of history, the smallest Manhattan Project has turned out to have had the biggest impact ...

The historian is always being assailed by new generations of social scientists and new generations of wannabe social scientists (utopians) both who claim that we can safely predict the future from our study of the repeating patterns of the past.

But the poor naive historian only sees that the past repeats itself so imperfectly each new time around as to require everyone to be cautious in predicting the future, merely from the events of the distant past and the events of the recent present.

Case in point : who in 1940 (besides perhaps Adorno) would have predicted that our present age's moral cum cultural views would look more like the moral cum cultural values of the smallest Manhattan Project rather than those of the biggest Manhattan Project ?

But as we approach 2015, that fact seems increasingly obvious......

The smallest Manhattan project had the BIGGEST impact : the irony of 75 years on ...

With the hindsight of 75 years on, for the Modern Age 1945 turned out to be "the best of times and the worst of times" , its apogee and  its nadir.

The triumph of the biggest Manhattan Project : America's exclusive patent on the ability to synthesize and destroy the atomic building blocks of reality, seemed to demonstrate how potentially profitable the total control of Nature could be.

By contrast, the smallest Manhattan Project seemed a throwback to an earlier age.

It went back to Nature and to the penicillium mold to provide a medical miracle and then compounded this affront to the modern ethos by inclusively and cheaply offering it to all :  to the poor, to the tired and to the huddled.

But if exclusivity and the synthetic were the hallmark of the Modern Age, our present age always seeks the greatest possible inclusivity and much prefers the natural over the artificial.

Perhaps then, in one of history's frequent ironies, 1945's smallest Manhattan Project turned out to have had the biggest impact after all......

Friday, September 6, 2013

" Crude is more than 'good enough' ...

... if it can save lives right now ! "

Lifesaving's perpetual understudy , Penicillin, unexpectedly made her long overdue debut in a medical theatre in uptown Manhattan on October 16th 1940 .

Albeit more than a dozen years after the best lifesaver ever known was first discovered.

It all happened when Dr Henry Dawson suddenly broke his understanding with biochemist Karl Meyer that penicillin would not be used systemically (given to save a life), until she had been synthesized or at least very highly refined.

It had been assumed that this happy event would probably occur sometime early in the new university term starting in January 1941.

But it had all changed now.

For Dawson was facing not just one but two young patients dying on his ward of the invariably fatal untreatable disease SBE that he was convinced penicillin could finally cure.

SBE usually hit the poor, immigrants and minorities.

Naturally enough, on the very first day of the new draft, they were judged by the eugenically-minded medical elite as being the 4Fs of the 4Fs,  life unworthy of wasting too much expensive and scarce medical attention upon in a time of war.

Dawson felt passionately different - he felt that saving the 4Fs of the 4Fs in a time of war was the best possible riposte to Hitler and his values : because not a military victory but a moral victory for the Allies was what was really needed to fire the world up to tackle the Nazis with serious energy.

'If crude penicillin can start saving lives now, it is more than refined enough' was Dawson's new mantra , as he introduced this neologism into the medical-chemical vernacular.

To a chemistry-besotted medical fraternity, wedded to ever greater purity and refinement , this deliberate use of the term crude tied together with their main job, lifesaving, was like a red flag.

Crude penicillin for crude patients was their unspoken sentiment.

It didn't make Dawson popular then or now with the medical and chemical communities..... or their historians.

Because it reminds us all, that as Hippocrates looked on in horror, for 15 wasted years the world medical community choose to put refinement before life-saving.

But what ordinary patients thought of Dawson's notions has hardly ever been asked.

I am a patient who has received cheap, abundant , natural , non-synthetic, non-patented, "inclusive" penicillin of the Henry Dawson variety and I am grateful to him : eternally grateful.

I don't think I am alone.

"Hyssop in a time of Cedar" then is a 'patient's eye view' of Henry Dawson's impact on the genesis of wartime penicillin : from exclusive, secret, patented and militarized to inclusive, public, public domain and de-militarized.

Because the knowledge that cheap, abundant penicillin was being made available - now - to dying people of all classes, colours and genders around the world was more than just WWII's equivalent of WWI's promise of a return to "a land fit for heroes" : it was the Word made visible.

It was not just the fact that penicillin , like the sulfa drugs before it, saved lives - that was not enough.

It more in the way news reports revealed that it was carried  literally around the world, by bombers diverted from their normal killing work, during the Total War to end All Wars, to save the lives of dying babies.

This - the promise of returning home to a world 'healthy enough for heroes' - finally seemed an Allied cause worth dying for.

This sentiment was best expressed, not by a British Prime Minister in a barnburner of a open air speech, but by the phrase-makers of an new age : an anonymous copywriter slaving away for a booze baron from somewhere out in the American Mid West.

Over a painting of a severely wounded American GI getting  penicillin in a vividly colourful jungle battlefield, were the evocative words , "Thanks to PENICILLIN - he will come home! "

And thanks too, to the bog-ordinary mold that created this miracle this ad reminded its viewers.

That something ordinarily so small and despised could wrought such miracles - that too put paid to Hitler and Tojo's claim that Might made right and Bigger was always better.

If inclusivity , rather than unitary exclusivity, is the hallmark of our post-modern era, then Henry Dawson's crude penicillin for crude patients was one of the physical first artifacts of postmodernity...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

thank GOD the Vatican isn't run by book reviewers...

...or we'd never have any Saints and Martyrs.

The book reviewers' world - amateur and professional - seems a material one , consumed by the almighty dollar figure on the cover of any book they choose to review.

Or so it seems : but there is actually a more acceptable reason for their surface shallowness.

Simply overwhelmed by all the books offered up for review, they share among themselves one simple - brutal - rule of thumb : if a book is really, really good a big canny commercial publisher would be offering it up for sale, at a hefty price.

If it is merely good, it would be at least published by some sort of commercial publisher or , if self-published, at least offered for sale at a hefty price on Amazon.

But a book researched, written and offered up for free on its own website, in an act of charity, merely because the subject of the book after all offered up his life in an act of charity ?

Interesting concept - worthy even - but we don't have time to review it.


So dear blog viewer, if you want to read all of "Life's Manhattan Project" for free - with colourful illustrations by the author to boot - cling to this blog site like a shipwrecked sailor clings to a log.

Otherwise, be prepared to pony up $9.99 and taxes to get the e-book version from Amazon Kindle : black and white text without the illustrations.

Or patiently wait for the off chance it might published in hardcover by one of the Big Six/ Five/ Four  publishers at $39.95 a pop.

On that lachyrmose day, it might be expensive enough to be dissected by even the very overwhelmed book reviewers at the New York Times....

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Wartime Penicillin intended to be secret and synthetic

It ended up public and 'public domain' natural, thanks to Henry Dawson and his supporters.

The British War Department and the American OSRD (run by Vannevar Bush) had expected to quickly, cheaply and, above all, secretively mass produce synthetic penicillin.

Enough artificial penicillin to supply the Allied front lines in the big pushback against Tojo and Hitler, while the enemy had to make do with the rapidly failing Sulfa drugs or try to produce tiny amounts of impure natural penicillin.

The whole project depended on keeping accounts of penicillin's miracle cures away from the Allied public.

That would only create a public sensation , as it had earlier for Sulfa's first miracle cures, which the Axis would soon learn about , thanks to newspaper articles in Neutral papers.

Once alerted, clever German and Japanese chemists would also soon synthesize penicillin and negate the temporary military advantage the Allies had gained via secrecy.

So : the potentially morally shabby story of wartime penicillin : medicine as a weapon.

But when the normally-stodgy Henry Dawson actually dared to steal government-sanctioned war penicillin to successfully save some young 4F kids banefully abandoned by their government as just 'useless mouths' , word spread rapidly in the gossip-driven circles of wartime medical New York.

A young doctor with his own burden of prejudice from the anglo protestant medical elite to rouse his ire, Dante Colitti,  got the newspaper chain that invented yellow journalism (Hearst) to come to the defence of the yellow magic and no sooner than you could say 'that darling little Patty Malone', the jig was up for the OSRD and War Department.....

Read enough already of Death's Manhattan Project ?

Tired of seeing way, way, way too many books on wartime Manhattan's atomic death rays at your local library or friendly neighbourhood bookstore ?

Would you like to read instead of another wartime project from Manhattan ----- one  that radiated hope and life , instead of death and destruction ?

Not convince that all wartime Manhattan Projects must come from Mars , and none from Venus ?

Then I have a forthcoming book just for you :  "Life's Manhattan Project" ......