Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Teflon Winnie vs the Tubers" : Richard North tells how THE FEW replaced THE MANY --- and why

I read all (or at least major portions) of about 1000 books a year, year in and year out.

 So when I break my stride just long enough to strongly urge you to run out and read a copy of Dr Richard North's "The Many not The Few" (Bloomsbury Press) , I hope you realize this is not something I do lightly or frequently.

I guess on some issues (like climate change) , Richard and I might be seen as being on different sides, but I have absolutely no problem raving on and on about this particular book from him.

Dr North really tears into the university myth of  The Few (The Few also being mostly, and not so coincidentally, university lads).

You already know the Myth's script and its rarely well hidden subtext.

 Those (oh so few) RAF fighter pilots. On their high tech steeds . (Tally Ho !) Who prevented the German invasion of Britain. And saved Civilization. 

While craven trade unionists cowered deep underground . In defeatist Tube Stations, refusing to come out. To do a honest day's work. For a honest day's pay.

It all reads as if rehearsed from a 1940s Young Conservative pamphlet - which in fact is where it did originate.

But why then is it now mostly coming out of the mouths of tweedy history professors who usually swear intellectual allegiance to some brand or other of academic Marxism ?

I suspect this is because eugenics hasn't died away at all but gone sotto voce and gotten tenure , only to re-emerge as academic specialization .

No more eugenic chances for a truly pure Aryan race.

 But still hopes can be entertained for a pure history of the Battle of Atlantic and a pure history of the Blitz and a pure history of the Battle of  Britain - all providing jobs, with pensions, for the specialists in these three areas.

And then along comes a miscegenationist like Richard North to muddle all three battles together - just as Hitler himself  and his planners did.

I will return again to this book again and again in the future, in particular looking at what its research methods mean for bottom up history versus top down history, but for today let us look at that continuing marvel : Teflon Winnie.

No matter how much new academic research comes out in published history (specialist peer-reviewed articles by history professors) about the failings of Churchill during WWII, it seems to have no impact on popular history ( generalist book reviewer reviewed book, usually also written by history professors).

There the wartime propaganda myths still form the frame to fit awkward new facts into.

Historians are trained to give paramount credit to (a) contemporary (b) official (c) paper records .

But during Total War , government re-writing history on the fly (censoring bad news even from government ministers and bally-hooing semi-fictional accounts of victories) is usually seen as more important than combat itself.

(North's book is basically 300 pages of examples of this claim, taken from the PR Battle over the Battle for Britain.) 

So why then should historians treat (scant) wartime government records (found in a very hard to access Archives) on the wartime bombing of Belfast over the abundant locally collected recent records of that tragic event , found on a website that all can access ?

Oh I guess I answered my own question - didn't I ?

Top level government officials' public and private papers remain ,in practise, easily open only to prominent (full professor level) academics or to assistant professors with a healthy grant and a good set of letters of recommendation.

Self-serving and incomplete they are, but very respectable when cited in the endnotes of an academic journal article.

But citing the URL of the painstakingly abundant recording of the details of every ship sunk in WWII , day by day, ocean by ocean, maintained on an open website by a bunch of dedicated amateurs is simply not on, not in a serious paper - even if that URL contain information that can be found no where else.

One good example of how self serving and incomplete the official records can be are the Nobel prize winning volumes produced by Churchill on the history of WWII , as seen by about the only senior leader of the war to remain alive and at large.

These hugely influential volumes set the framework for writing about WWII because Churchill, at that time, had access to key records that no one else had.

And when those records didn't support his claims, he just made things up, certain that the Cabinet Minutes would never be opened up - or not until long after he had frozen his version of the truth into intellectual concrete.

Teflon Winnie

So Teflon Churchill never had a disaster personally stick to him - he always found someone else to blame, always claimed he had urgently minuted about the problem months before it became a full crisis, so he was not at fault.

Only now, with the wartime cabinet papers being released, can we check his 1948-1949 claims against the actual record.

And just as the 1940 RAF kill claims proved as phoney as a paper moon sailing over a cardboard sea, so too has Churchill in many areas.

Never more so than in the great "ACTING UP" of 1940, when hundreds of thousands of working class Londoners defied guards to occupy the Tubes and the fancy hotels of London, to protest the lack of safe bomb shelters, like the ones Hitler had already provided his cities.

Churchill had repeatedly led the charge to use force to pull the Tubers out - but when the protest became too big, he rushed to the head of the crowd to claim he had led it all along.

No evidence has emerged to support his mass of hot air on this major morale crisis - all points to the exact opposite.

Why was Churchill so willing to condemn brave people to horrific weeks of nights in unsafe and uncomfortable Anderson huts ?

Because Churchill always had his Second Front.

It's just that it came from the left of Normandy's beaches, from the mass of mostly young, mostly grammar school educated, voters demanding not just a victory of returning to the halcyon days of 1936 Jarrow , but moving forward into some bright new future.

A wiser Tory like Baldwin or such might have agreed with the young, but Churchill was a hard liner on what position he took at a time (his whims varied hour by hour).

This time all his instincts said that any , any , recognizing of the rights of ordinary people to have a say in the running of their lives was the beginning of the end for his style of Toryism.

So no,no ,no to any British public announcing of war aims and no accepting that the masses in the Tubes were vox populi.

 Instead the deliberate PR effort to paint them as working class cowards, saved by a few upper class flying officers in the RAF.

Naval destroyers and Bomber Blenheims might have served instead as models, but they were collectivist fighting machines - but the solo pilots of the Spitfires were all gentlemen and gentlemen only .

So they alone were hoisted as the solo saviors of Britain.

It didn't pay out for Teflon Winnie on Race Day in 1945, but it did in subsequent elections for the Conservatives - and still does.

Thanks to a lot of help from left-leaning historians....

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mite is Right - Might is Right. Both ? Or Neither ?

There are niches enough for all : the large, medium and the small.

There is no evidence in the Earth's current environment that contradicts the idea that there won't always be room for some big and medium creatures,  above the size of the ever-present microbes.

But the scientific assumption  that the trend of evolutionary Progress is moving in a direction that indicated that only Big beings - ie humans and their herds - will dominate the Earth is hardly borne out by long term evidence.

Or by the current evidence that humanity is well equipped, mentally and technologically, to instantly blow itself all up.

This idea of evolutionary Progress was , in practise , further defined into the assumption that the only thing Big and complex, in an otherwise simple universe, were upper class western-oriented males .

People of colour, and other minorities, immigrants, the poor, women, children, the handicapped --- all were absorbed under the rubric of being potentially small and weak and unneeded on this evolutionary voyage.

This assumption guided the leadership of the Allies, Neutral and Axis nations of WWII - until it ended in disaster for all.

Instead we must accept that we are all, Big and small, stuck here together on Lifeboat Earth , willy nilly,  family : we Big can't divorce the small - and they can't divorce us.

We don't have to love each other - lambs and lions lying down together - but we must learn to accept the inevitably and agree to get along.

Accepting the fact is step one on Humanity's long course of post-Hubris recovery....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Defeating the PENICILLIN death panels

 Part One : the backstory

President Obama in 2009 had absolutely no intention of emulating Hitler's use of Aktion T4 death  panels,  but this does not mean that death panels were not in force under an earlier Democratic administration.

These death panels - common to all Allied nations during WWII - did not directly echo the German efforts, instead they and the German death panels were all part and parcel of a world wide ground swell among the well educated and the well off in support of 'eugenic' triage.

Starting at the very outbreak of the war in 1939, Hitler had authorized doctor-run death panels to met to decide which of the weak and elderly in Germany should be actively killed off.

He had wanted to do much earlier,  but judged it would be politically risky internally.

Now he could use the excuse of urgent war need as the reason to roll back the Weimar Republic's expansion of Social Medicine , supposedly in an effort to divert the freed up money towards War Medicine instead.

Sharing similar eugenic motives, the mostly eugenically-minded medical elite in Allied and in Neutral nations also used the urgent need for expanded War Medicine for the 1As, as an excuse to roll back Social Medicine for their society's 4Fs.

This roll back could lead  to patients dying - death by indirection rather than direct acts of murder, of course ,because these people prided themselves on not being Nazis .

(Vichy France, for example, so reduced funds to institutions for the chronically ill, that tens of thousands were "CODE SLOWED" to death due to inadequate food, heat and medical staff attention. Just as Britain had done similarly during the last years of WWI).

Asking, "how do we ration life-saving medical resources like the 1960s' supply of kidney dialysis machines ?",  is the totally wrong question 

What we first need to ask is , "why did the 1960s feel the need to ration life machines in the first place, when it didn't ration death machines ?"

Clearly the totally absence of any money isn't the real issue  but rather " how do we divide the very big but still limited bag of money that we do have"?

So hospital auxiliary bake sales did raise money for some kidney dialysis machines back then - but no bombers or nuclear weapons were ever fund-raised that way.

All politics is about rationing : 'the authoritative allocation of scarce resources' as the textbooks describe it .

The decision to allocate most of the available money to H-bombs and so to supply only a small amount for the supply of baby incubators and the such like was a human-made decision, not an Act of God or a Law of Nature.

Just as the President who intoned "bombs were dropped on Cambodia" in an academically-correct passive, nay wimpy, voice really meant that "men dropped bombs on Cambodian civilians and killed them, because I ordered it so."

Stalin and Hitler forthrightly ordered millions to be murdered  - they did not artificially create a shortage by a human political decision and  then sit around piously in death panels trying to decide how to allocate patients to that shortage as 'fairly' as they could.

Bad Faith and Hypocrisy were not among their many sins of Hot and Cold.

But the sins of the lukewarm might well be dealt with even harsher on Judgement Day and it is the lukewarm sinners of wartime penicillin that we now turn to.

Britain's Conservative-dominated government said it would only make enough penicillin in wartime to handle the military cases it wanted penicillin to deal with.

And their Labour and Liberal partners went along with that.

So, no penicillin for penicillin for civilians in Britain or in her colonies, none to Allied POWS, none for British military casualties judged of no further military use.

Canada and Australia "me -too-ed" in agreement - one government liberal the other Labour.

America having a government of competing agencies, on the same Social Darwin model as Hitler's government , spoke with two main voices.

The scientific medical elite (OSRD and NAS) ,with some support from the military and industry , wanted only enough made to deal with priority military cases. Think of FDR as the "Doctor Win the War" of 1940 onwards.

But think also of an earlier FDR, "Doctor New Deal", and all his New Dealer supporters' high hopes.

Because what was now left of all these New Dealers were huddled in a stockade known as the WPB (War Production Board),  surrounded on all sides by the hostile Republicans that FDR had brought into his administration, as part of his willingness to lose the internal social war to win the external military war.

The WPB proposed that enough wartime penicillin be made in America to generously supply all the penicillin needs of  the military, the civilians and the overseas allies, neutrals and residents of enemy occupied lands.

The WPB won the argument -- when the new Army Surgeon General switched sides .

But until industry went along with the gag, America would still have not enough for anyone domestic , let alone everyone domestic and their foreign cousin.

The year long delay until one industrial firm really climbed on board with gusto allowed the OSRD-NAS to play God by convening penicillin death panels.

They might have operated unchallenged but for one man : Henry Dawson.

He fought them , won and so changed history ....



When a journal celebrates the story of Henry Dawson's 'agape' penicillin ,which he so freely released into the medical public domain 75 years ago, it is best to act similarly.

 So the journal articles of Dawson's project will go into the literary public domain ,as archived html blog posts and as print version story-papers.

(Read more about what exactly is a story-paper)

So, just like Dawson's agape penicillin, the "All Life is Family" series of stories will be freely available to everyone, particularly to people who could not normally afford to buy them.

Consider them more like "Tracts for our Commensal Age" than your typical commercial New York Times bestselling potboiler .

The story of Dawson's project is actually a pretty big story (almost as big as the global war itself).

 So rather like a short story cycle or roman fleuve , it will be broken into maybe sixty or so smaller ones, at natural internal climaxes.

This is all with the intent to make it easier to read or download each story-paper freely.

Each of those sixty or so story-papers will treat its particular chief protagonist fairly, but I hope the cumulative effect from the clash of their different takes on reality circa WWII, will provoke as much reflection as enjoyment in the reader.

The Dawson project stories can all be freely read , in their entirety , as scattered and intermittent posts and remained archived and available forever on this blog.

 Thankfully, the blog will have an index page to make finding all of them , in the proper chronological order, very easy.

Directing your mobile browser to my blog will be the best way to read them on tiny mobile phone screens.

But in addition, each blog post on Dawson's project will have a link to Google Docs, to download the free PDF of the story-paper.

Thus journal readers will also be able to download all the sixty or so stories ,as a 21st century story-paper.

A 19th century story-paper was simply today's tabloid newspaper but devoted 100% to non-news stories.

With no expensive hardcovers or binding or spine for a title, the story-paper was unattractive to regular booksellers but distributed to subscribers by mail, it was the cheapest way to get literature to a mass public.

Distributing Dawson's stories this way will be in homage to him and to my university's (Dalhousie) chief benefactor, story-paper publisher George Munro), who did so much to democratize print and literature for people of all incomes.

Like myself, Dawson also attended Dalhousie.

In addition he was raised in the same Pictou County Scottish Presbyterian tradition as was Munro.

Those these 21st century story-papers have been made into downloadable pre-imposed PDFs, for easy printing out as a complete chapbook-sized work, individually and without charge.

Because they are all in the Public Domain, like agape penicillin , you are free to copy them, pass them on or adapt them - even bind them into bigger 'books' and sell them for profit under your own name if you wish.

Just spread their message of hope, as if it was a penicillium spore in the wind.

And I won't mind : because passing on their message of hope - not making money - is what matters.

Each story-paper will be illustrated by my own color drawings , designed to 'degrade gracefully' (as computer types are wont to say) into black, white and gray illustrations.

This is to make them suitable for economic printing on black and white printers or for reading on older ebook readers.

Both the electronic blog posts and printed story-papers have the advantage of being 'open all night' and of being readily accessible all around the world.

Now there is a big disadvantage in not making these stories into a conventional for-sale 'book'.

 Very few book reviewers, whether working for a big newspaper or running their own small not-for-profit blog, will review a free (and worse: PUBLIC DOMAIN !) series of related stories.

It isn't just book reviewers who vote for capitalist parties at election time either - you'd be surprised just how adamantly left wing and green reviewers favour for-profit books and authors and despise not-for-profit authors.

Altruism and book reviewing simply don't seem to mix.

I believe the reason is that even non-paid book reviewers all secretly hope to become paid book reviewers one day and they know that will be totally depend upon reviewing the sort of commercial books from publishers that buy ads in their employers' media outlet that ultimately go back to pay book reviewers' wages.

('Scratch my back and I will scratch yours'.)

No doubt the professionals were just as suspicious in 1940 of Henry Dawson's motives : what was really in it for him , beyond all that phony 'amateur' altruism ?

So I will have to direct publicity about the series' message past the professional and wannabe professional book reviewing community and onto any and all potential readers.

That will mean asking all sorts of people, from professors to pastors, to read it , talk it up, review it and to pass it on to others.....

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The subterranean sewers of DARK MONEY killing our future

A long awaited peer-reviewed study out of Philadelphia's Dexel University by professor Robert Brulle tells an incredibly complex story about the largely secret way the rich and the elderly are working to destroy the world.

A world they simultaneously claim they wish to leave to their grandchildren...and to our grandchildren.

The old school of social Darwinists, those active in Henry Dawson's era, loudly and proudly proclaimed their merciless world vision of bulk and greed.

But my era's school of social Darwinists will only proclaim their faith sotto voce --- and even then largely in secret.

 They clearly fear the disapproval of someone - perhaps maybe their own dear grandchildren ?

Since this is Christmas Day, I might be permitted to tell you, just once, why I believe in a merciful Christ. 

I do , because that belief also allows me to believe in a merciless eternal Hell ---- and that some people are on Earth are going there.....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Print in 50 years : Downloadable pre-imposed PDFs , aka MUNROs

The book "as we know it now" will be dead in 50 years, but the book itself will not be dead, far from it.

I publish my own journal and write occasional book reviews, but I have also worked in four different bookstores for a dozen years and am a lifelong avid reader, so I hope I have seen the issue from various sides.

I insist that the book, Phoenix-like, will be revived as downloadable pre-imposed PDFs, (what I have labelled as a 'MUNRO') to produce story papers or even slim saddle bound books inside the ultimate reader's own home.

Today the average copy of a print book or magazine is written here, edited there, printed over there, shipped out to a warehouse, shipped to thousands of stores, shipped unsold back to the warehouse and then finally shipped out to be pulped.

In addition, the meaningful contents have often been deliberately padded up in size till it is at least 250 pages thick , to be profitable and or convenient to handle for conventional literary agent, publisher ,book critic, book store and library.

In the world of culture, print book publishing is like the Alberta Tar Sands in its impact on our planet.

In the commercial model of my alternative scheme, a customer would pay online for a link to a downloadable PDF of the book or magazine which they will print out in their homes or offices on their own duplex* computer printer.

*The scheme doesn't need "printing on two sides at once" (duplex) printers to work - that just makes it easier.

The key is that the PDF is already pre-imposed , in printing industry lingo , so it will read in correct order, when simply taken out of the printer and quickly folded in on itself like a conventional newspaper, magazine or booklet.

To wit : imagine an A4 or letter sized piece of paper as printed in 4 'page' panels - two to each side and then it is folded in the middle of the longest dimension.

So in a 64 printed page magazine, one side of a sheet of paper has page 64 on the left and page 1 on the right, flipped over, page 2 is on the left and page 63 is on the right.

64 printed pages from only 16 sheets of A4 paper.

The assembled pages no more need staples or a stiff cover stock cover than your everyday daily paper needs them to remain together ; thank friction of rough paper on rough paper for that.

If it is unbound by anything but friction, technically it isn't a book but a story paper --- a book in the form of a daily newspaper, in a sense.

Any history of publishing will reveal just how big this story paper format once was and how savagely the fearful elites opposed this democratization of literature.

Now there is a limit to the number of sheets that hang together in this fashion without need for a sophisticated trimming operation : perhaps 80 printed pages is the limit.

Still if the paper size is upped to A3 or tabloid (11x17)  (my home printer is that size and I bought it in 2013 for $150 Cdn), we do thus end up with a magazine sized product that can hold about 50,000 words in a two column layout - enough for a lot of novels or non fiction works.

But I expect most books will be printed on A4 paper and produce novella sized work of about 20,000 words.

As in Victorian times, 'books' might be once again produced in three or more volumes.

Yes, the end reader must come up with a dollar or two for their own paper and ink , but the market will see the price for the link is set at below an equivalent of today's $5 to $10 dollars.

Some of us, very old, can remember having to cut the pages of books we brought ourselves, or only receiving the text block of a book and having to have a cover put on ourselves at a book binder.

Somehow, we survived.

The competition is bookstores with incredibly expensive machines that can print out thick "perfect bound"* books very slowly and expensively one at a time, when the customer requests them.

* Ie, books with a thick square spine.

Bookstores and book publishers hate/fear slim staple bound publications and teach us all quality literature and intellectual thought can't live within them.

Is this is because anyone can make them - and then what will they do for a living ?

Strange when we consider all the good literature and intellectual heft that has traditionally come out of the slender , staple bound, magazines.

If the Book Trade can be believed,  the literary or intellectual quality of a work falls off alarmingly, when the material is shifted from a lot of small pages in a book to a few big pages in a magazine. 

Bosh, a cartel is a cartel whether it involves drug company presidents in a smoke filled backroom or cosy publishers,booksellers and critics laying down the rules in public at a wine and cheese salon ..... 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our monoculture of "BIG" is killing us and our only home - Earth

As was the case (on both sides) during WWII, we live in a (human) monoculture that worships the BIG and dismisses the small , despite the fact that Nature itself hardly reflects this scenario, in fact, much the reverse.

We do so because our powerful and elderly (the two conditions are often related) still support the values of their teenage to young adult formative years under the Late and not so Great era of Modernity.

Modernity's proponents felt it was inevitable that the "fit" ( ie the BIG and the ponderous) would inevitably have all the innings ,all the time, against the small and the nimble.

Today more and more of us younger folk are leaning into the values of post-Modernity, which shows an increased receptiveness to diversity , variety , the local and the small.

But will death take out the Modernists in our midst ( those deniers of any limits on the abilities of the BIG to laugh in the face of Nature's worst), before they take us all out ?

It is a grim race against time  --- which is why I think it is worth re-examining the last time Modernity and the BIG really got sand kicked in their face : WWII ....

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Modernity's K-selected eugenic monoculture

If we limit our understanding of K-selection to an old high school biology class, of eugenics to what the Nazis did (75 years ago) and of monoculture to what North American farmers are doing today , we will miss this trio's intimate connection to that old old old peasant's adage : 'never put all your eggs in one basket' .....

Restoring the small , to a monoculture of the Big, 1939-1945

As a moral argument it was very old , with lots of powerful support still.

Maybe not an argument as old as Methuselah, but surely as old as Jesus.

But as a scientific argument it was quite new, without any influential scientific supporters.

It argued that there was no hierarchy of worth in biology based on bigger size or greater physical complexity : big and small were but equal variations on Life, each cast to better fit particular niches.

And it said that that, strictly speaking, the small were much more successful than the big in terms of sheer survival --- the only criteria that biology, rather than ethics or theology , could legitimately measure .

They been around  much, much longer, had vastly greater numbers of individual members, inhabited more niches and had survived all the worst disasters that Nature had thrown life on Earth, unlike the Big.

The biological sense of the survival of the fittest for each particular niche had morphed , by the 1930s, into the belief that it was the survival of the fit ( one size to fit all niches), with fit being code for big and powerful.

The small, human and non human , were becoming seen as losers and a waste of space  - life unworthy of life.

Henry Dawson joined many many others in opposing this idea on moral grounds.

But he was basically all alone in contesting it scientifically, based on what he had discovered in his small lab.

He was far too cautious a personality to be successful contesting the opposing vision by mere words.

But his is a biography of deeds --- against all odds, he succeeded in fatally shattering that vision.

He did so by simply embarking on an attempt to save the lives of just ten people, over the opposition of his own colleagues, his own wartime Allied government and his own failing body.

But thanks to the quixotic effort that Dawson began in 1940, ten billion of us, so far, have had our lives immensely improved : Bread cast Upon Waters, indeed !

WWII : an EUGENIC war , on both sides - nay, all sides

A truly moral Nuremberg Trial would have considered the war conduct of the Allied and Neutrals, as well as that of the Axis...

Now it is well known that Germany spent its second world war preoccupied, not with winning the military war itself, but with eugenically killing all the 4Fs it could find and then tossing them in open pit graves or into furnaces.

(Cite here the Holocaust, Aktion T4 and the Hunger Plan.)

Eugenic Triages from all sides of WWII

Less well known is the fact that the Allies and the Neutrals were also preoccupied with matters eugenic in the midst of an all-out military war : in this case, a steely determination to avoid killing any of their 1As if they could at all help it.

Naval blockades, aerial bombings and denying the spreading of information about new life-saving medicines and pesticides were the ways the Allied hoped to avoid engaging their 1A young males in hand to hand combat with 1A males from Germany, Japan and Italy.

The British scientists and the military had been united as one with British politicians is disclaiming any need for British troops to invade Germany to fight German troops there.

Britain declared war on Germany at the beginning of  September 1939, but it was not until the sixth year of the war and during the last months of the
European part of that war, that British 1A males finally engaged in deadly combat with 1A German males on German soil.

(The whole war might have ended in months not years, if only the vastly larger manpower pool of the French and English empires had been conscripted into a ground army intent on invading western Germany while the bulk of her army was in the East , invading Poland.)

Instead, they said, naval blockades and aerial bombings and denying new lifesaving medicine would kill enough women, children and elderly in Occupied Europe and Germany to make the young male German 1As want to voluntarily surrender, far in advance of any British invasion with ground troops upon German soil.

Of course, the Neutrals did the best eugenic job of the lot in preserving their own 1As and not diluting them with any 4F gene pools.

They did so by (A) not joining the effort to defend the weak and the small and the innocent and by (b) not letting any of the weak/small/innocent into their countries as hapless refugees.

The dysgenic myth of WWI

It was claimed by avid eugenists during WWI (and by most educated people after the war ) that only the best had died in the Great War while back home the cripples and mentally deficient had breed like rabbits.

No evidence was put forth to support either of these claims - it seemed so common sensical.

In fact by the end of it,  the Great War had killed millions of men who either had been or would have been rejected as 4F material at the start of the war - a war this big cut a wide swath through all men with two legs, from 18 to 45 , in most combat nations.

And the evidence shows in fact that the physically and mentally challenged people around the world and through all the ages marry less frequently and have kids less frequently than the average population.

It is pretty hard to marry and raise a family without first having a steady well paying job  - as most of us who are physically and mentally fit already know first hand.

How much harder for those with mental or physical challenges ?

So, absorbing this false lesson , all the post WWI world's elites sought to avoid wars where their 'best' took on the 'best' from a nation of equal or greater demographic and military power.

This didn't mean no more war - it just meant that post WWI nations tended to attack nations smaller than themselves or to invade countries bigger than themselves that they thought were divided internally or were inept as warriors.

So Germany and Japan invaded Russia and China under reason one, while Japan attacked America under reason two.

And in any and all cases, nations tried to first win wars by killing or terrifying or starving/freezing the civilians of an opposing nation of a size similar to their own, rather than in engaging in direct combat with that nation's armed forces.

But because eugenics was invented in the victorious Allies's nations and only later taken up by the Axis and Neutrals, anything vaguely universally eugenic about the whole war was strictly excluded from consideration at Nuremberg - only crimes unique to the Axis were considered crimes against humanity.

Trust me on this one, every school child one hundred years from now will know WWII to be an eugenic war from push to finish - and on all sides ....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Henry Dawson as the Margaret Atwood of medicine : heterogeneous survival

Margaret Atwood made famous the old quip that  Americans want to leave the wilderness a success, while Canadians are merely grateful to leave it a survivor.

Henry Dawson, a Canadian doctor, encountered this for real when he went to New York to work among American medical scientists who expected him to focus on virulence in bacteria.

These are incredibly tiny , often immobile, beings who yet are successful in attacking their human hosts and frequently even kill them , despite the army of human medical opponents ranged against them.

In the alpha male world of medicine circa 1940 , virulence = success.

But Dawson was more interested in how these tiny beings persisted in surviving with, on and in us  , despite our bodies' best efforts to detect and kill them.

Because virulence is very much a two edged sword for bacteria : it may kill the host and then where do the successful bacteria live ? 

Or it might provoke a counterattack on the virulent bacteria that kills all of them but ignores their non-virulent kin.

Dawson seems to have been agnostic on the whole division between virulent and avirulent : merely seeing endless varieties of sub-strains among his chosen area of focus : oral commensal strep bacteria.

His team (as well as others) gave the different appearing sub strain bacteria colonies letter descriptions : R , S , L , M.

His team members later went on to study others that have been given names instead, such as vegetative/biofilm, dormants and persisters.

R were rough in colony appearance and didn't seem virulent in many species - unlike the smooth looking  S colonies, while the mucoid M were very virulent in some species.

R had normal bacterial walls, but S and M also had extra jelly-like capsules that made them harder to eat by our white blood cells, if they got in our blood system.

To over-simplify , R forms, because they lack a thick jelly cover , do much better at clinging to our throats and surviving long term by being low key and avoiding entering our blood streams.

L forms ,named after the Lister Foundation in London where they were first discovered, are wall-less. 

The strong but flexible wall of a bacteria (a wall beyond the sack like skin that all cells must have to be a cell ) is usually considered the secret to the bacteria world's successful survival as Life's oldest and most widespread form.

So a bacteria without a wall is a real curiosity - it seems to survive in places of calm where the water around it doesn't suddenly get very salty or very un-salty (to describe vital things osmotic as simple as possible ).

Its lack of bacterial wall even fools the human immune system into considering it not a harmful microbe but rather a part of us.

That film of bacteria we can easily feel on our unbrushed teeth is a biofilm .

When it lands on our previously slightly damaged heart valves, it becomes bigger and harder (literally heart valve calculus) often called a vegetative form and in both cases, provides a safe home for various types of bacteria and their sub strains.

We could call them B or V type bacteria.

Dawson started studying them when he started his pioneering use of penicillin to cure vegetative type endocarditis.

Some sub strains, his team members were the very first to discover in 1942, are naturally slow growing and survive antibiotics because they normally only hit bacteria that are actively growing.

These P types are called now called persisters and they make both teeth bacteria type endocarditis and TB truly awful diseases to fully conquer.

Others deep inside the biofilms don't grow at all normally and are called dormant (D type).

They will happily grow when the normal bacteria population closer to the surface of the biofilm have all been killed by antibiotics , leaving more food for the dormants to eat.

Wow : R,S,M.L,V,P,D forms --- where will it all end ?

Who knows?

The point Dawson was trying to make was that bacteria weren't really invaders, seeking only to enter Man to kill him, but extremely tiny creatures to whom a human adult body was literally the same size to them that the Earth is to us.

They saw us merely as home - just as we regard the Earth .

Yes a sometimes comfortable and sometimes hostile home - just as Earth often is to us - and seemingly they survived life's ups and downs by being 'careless' in their eugenic practises, as least as seen by eugenically-minded humans in the 1930s.

There were, in fact, no perfect pure bacteria clones ---- nothing an Aryan superman would recognize as perfection --- instead they shockingly seemed to tolerate all kinds of cripples and defectives in their population.

Because as the environment varied, what was a defect one day (slow growing or no growing, no capsule, no wall) was a means of survival the next day as the formerly virulent fell like ten pins all around them.

Dawson didn't dismiss the 4Fs of the bacteria world as "useless mouths and life unworthy of life" anymore than he later didn't dismiss the 4Fs of the human world either.

Dawson's close examination of how messily but effectively Reality really works proved much more accurate than all the armchair theories of the purist scientists, like Hitler or Einstein....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dawson's Follies...

... have improved the lives of ten billion of us , so far.

Dateline Manhattan : Something green and life-nurturing is brewing down the mean corridors of wartime science...

In the stereotyped description of  the biggest teaching hospitals of the mid twentieth century, there is always a strict hierarchy cum pecking order of prestige, power and authority.

At the top were the surgeons, particularly those who had combine high technical skill with the cool ability to save lives under very rushed emergency conditions ; brain surgeons operating on newly discovered operable brain tumours probably being at the top.

At the bottom were the staff in the hospital's day or outpatient clinics, dealing with chronic non-life-threatening conditions - aging-related (osteo) arthritis patients being the classic example.

Henry Dawson was the director of one such arthritis day clinic, at New York's world famous CUMC (Columbia University Medical Centre).

But this clinic work was not the reason why his bemused colleagues referred to his 'Follies' , far from it.

His was a pioneering clinic and he was a nationally and even internationally respected expert in arthritis, well regarded for his common sense caution over the possibility of  quick cures.

Not much for a prior hypothesises, he preferred the naturalist's method of gathering all sorts of data from hundreds of cases, to see if any common 'tendencies' emerged.

No, it was Dawson's private (non-day job, non-grant approved) scientific interests that bemused or angered his fellow medical scientists.

A traditional boon granted to the staff of hospital labs was the right to work on their own private research projects on equipment and in lab corners not in current use.

A boon usually available to the staffer in his off-work hours : evenings, weekends and holidays (hence the term EWH Research).

His day job bosses didn't directly oversee this research if the staffer had something like tenure and nor did senior members of the discipline ride shotgun on it by controlling the issuing of grant money, as is done today.

Nevertheless , the hope was that while this private research might be on the fringes of conventional science, its aim was ultimately to be useful.

And here Dawson seemed to have crossed some sort of line.

He was seen as being too interested in both avirulent commensal bacteria and in avirile 4F patients.

An applied scientist if there ever was any, a medical researcher was expected to be only concerned with virulent pathogens , ones that actually could kill or harm patients.

'Best leave the study of avirulent bacteria to the basic scientists in university biology departments'.

And so between the Spring of 1939 and the Winter of 1941 , the medical elite in America steadily moved staff and money away from the New Deal's emphasis on social medicine - helping to heal the avirile 4Fs in society - towards medical research directed towards helping 'our soon to be fighting boys' (the virile by definition 1As from the draft boards) .

This elite, being mostly Republicans sympathetic to popular eugenics and thus privately and publicly hostile to FDR's social medicine, they eagerly welcomed using the excuse of preparing for the upcoming war to shift emphasis away from this silly 'socialized medicine' stuff .

And they even had FDR's backing , as he publicly said he was no longer Doctor New Deal but now Doctor Win the War.

But Dawson's comeback was that using the excuse of 'war necessity' to throw the weak under the bus was exactly what Hitler did (in his notorious Aktion T4 program) and weren't we supposed to be opposed to his values ?

So his bosses grumbled and restrained but his not stop the work of this respected tenured polite member of their staff.

In the end he was forced to use the corridors of his hospital to house the five gallon bottles of agape penicillium he had brewed up.

But he still could extract enough under these conditions so hostile to the production of penicillin , to treat his pioneering series of  '4Fs of the 4Fs'.

These were young men with subacute bacterial endocarditis (the invariably fatal SBE that tended to befall the survivors of the then endemic Rheumatic Fever) that wartime medicine had directed should be 'code slowed' into an early grave.

Himself dying from an autoimmune disease, Dawson kept at it, in the face of the overt hostility of his colleagues.

Eventually, ordinary GPs, patients' families and ordinary journalists all "ACTED UP" on behalf of his project to see  that wartime penicilin  was made available to all those dying who could benefit from it.

Dawson died as the European part of the war was ending but not before knowing his tiny EWH project had changed world history.

Ten billion of us, to date, can only agree ....

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The purist science...this side of Heaven : fabricating the scientific canopy

As a Christian may I quickly say that I prefer my atheists to lose all of their religion, not just some of it.
Replacing a transcendental God with human gods cum masters of the universe cum lords of the human kind , is to combine the worst aspects of religion and atheism, with all the good bits of both left out.

When scientific discoveries (made out in the field by dirt-on-the-hands science) destroyed what Peter Berger calls the sacred canopy for most people in the western world , theoretically oriented scientists (natural philosophy indoor types rather than the dirt-on-hands natural history types) set about erecting a scientific canopy in its place.

This immediately set up an internecine war within science.

Because, after all , hands-on science had just discovered about how complex, dynamic and intermingled Reality really was, and this was the direct and immediate reason for the decline in the public belief in a simple, predictable, stable cosmos set up by a clockmaker God.

So to immediately claim, without proof , that a few fundamental laws in fundamental physics had been more than enough to create our simple, predictable, stable cosmos together with all human culture, might be thought to take a great deal of chutzpah on the part of the theory boys.

But such is the basic human need to believe that Life and Reality are simple and orderly and purpose-driven , it must be said that the theory boys had all the initial innings.

That is , until 1945 or thereabouts....

Friday, December 13, 2013

WWII : pure science collides with impure reality

If anyone learned the key science lesson of WWII, it wasn't the adults of the day.

Rather that science lesson was partially absorbed by children born in 1938 and afterwards , children too young to share the glow most in the Allied world felt about the supposed leading role science played in defeating the Axis.

I say partially because wartime science was generally blamed by these young people only for deliberately  promising and then succeeding in killing as many people as it possibly could possible , particularly killing as many civilians as possible.

When its actual biggest scientific and moral failures were for what it promised both sides during the war but then didn't deliver.

Sins of omission rather than sins of commission.

So bad efficient science merely replaces good efficient science in the baby-boomer academics' eyes, when a more accurate and devastating charge is to say pure science was, and is always, overwhelming inefficient.

As it must be, as long as it continues to deny that reality is inevitably and invariably dirty , mixed , intermingled and impure.....

Thursday, December 12, 2013

1939-1945, as a cure for overweening science ...

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln 

In the end, it turned out that the only way to clip modernist science's wings were to let it fly : WWII was modernist science's first and thankfully, only, world war it fully commanded.

If  'commanded' is the right word for what actually transpired.

What an unholy, immoral, mess it was, too.

Six years later, even the partisans of modernist science cum scientism must have felt a bit more humble (though they never really recanted, not even on their deathbeds).

But fortunately, even they must eventually all die out and the generation after them, born 1940 or later, never really bought into modernist science's hubris-filled visions.

The period 1945 - 2015 marks a period of transition : the men of scientism gradually aging and gradually tiring of the game while the new generation gets bolder and bolder in denouncing the earlier generation's utopian visions.

What comes after , Heaven alone only knows....

People born between 1930 -1938 probably rare as PMs or Presidents

Try out my thesis in the case of your nation's PMs or Presidents - you'll probably find lots of national leaders  born before 1929 or after 1939 but the decade in between seems to have gotten skipped.

Look at two of Britain's more recent Labour PMs : Callaghan born in 1913 followed by Blair born in 1953  --- a 40 year spread !

No wonder then that the socialist Callaghan supported the maintenance of the British empire while the centrist Blair (and his conservative opponent John Major) did not.

They were simply generations apart.

I think the reason for the absence of those born in the 1930s is because they were either too young to convincingly support WWII's values from personal experience and too old to convincingly oppose WWII's values from lack of any personal experience with it.

And I think the key date in the changeover was 1990 : a date by which virtually all WWII veterans had to have retired from powerful positions at the top of the workforce because they had reached 65 .

Also a year when baby-boomers too young to share the war hype finally were old enough to be taken seriously as the national leader.

A baby-boomer, in my definition, is someone who is more exercised by why the Allies did so little to prevent the Holocaust (a story revealed post 1945) than they are emotionally stirred by stories of the Battle of Britain and Dunkirk of 1940.

I think you'd have to be born in 1929 or earlier to really get caught up in the emotional high of 1940's Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain --- only a few children in 1940 who were younger than ten would really understand what all the fuss was about.

A person born in 1935 (a tweener) was simply both too young for the Dunkirk spirit and too old for the Woodstock spirit...

1943 : Africa's poorest get penicillin BEFORE well-to-do in America and England

Not, admittedly , a headline you're ever likely to see soon above mainstream (ie , American and British) penicillin histories , but that doesn't make it any less true.

George Marshall Findlay (1893-1952) , together with Kenneth R Hill and A MacPherson, brewed up his own crude penicillin in 1943 to apply upon the open ulcers of the dreaded disease Yaws on West African sufferers and got great results.

He had to do it all himself because Britain and America were too busy fighting over how to divided the world into two big markets after they had synthesized penicillin to actually make any serious amounts of (natural) penicillin to save lives in the here and now*.

*here and now : aka WWII.

America ,as is well known, has a pathological resistance to ever signing international treaties but there it was , in the middle of an all out war, negotiating a international treaty with Britain on the post war market division for their shared patented synthetic penicillin.

The two planned an exclusive on the lifesaver even tighter than they planned to have on the A-bomb.

That meant no encouragement of natural penicillin plants in Africa, South America, India and East Asia .

The Anglo-American fear was that in these places ready access to very cheap labour and even readier access to cheap sugar cane waste (as a carbon source feedstock) would permit the local crude penicillin to undercut the price of profit-inflated synthetic penicillin shipped in from thousands of miles away.

But penicillium spores are like the A-bomb's radioactive fallout clouds : no respecter of national borders and international commercial treaties.

They drifted in and out of Britain and its distant colonies alike and that meant crude penicillin could be made everywhere under cottage industry conditions.

(Even at the battlefront in Italy by barely trained Canadian medics using potato washings as a feedstock !)

"All Life is Family" Pt 1. (1939-1945: a cure for science) , will detail all the world-wide WWII efforts to make crude penicillin that it can find.

All this in an effort to combat the Whig history of wartime penicillin that strongly suggests that the actual end result - cheap abundant natural penicillin - was what the Anglo-American governments and their medical cum scientific cum commercial elites wanted all along.

It intends to bring the dreaded "C" word into science talk : conflict , as in conflict between scientists working on the same wartime "side".

And it will detail scientific winners and losers , again both working on the same wartime side.

A welcome change from the zillions of WWII science stories that always seem to show Allied scientists beating Axis scientists in a dramatic race against time - when in fact, the evidence is much more mixed as to who did what first -- and whether coming first ever really mattered.

Yes, the Axis lost the war, but no , it wasn't at all due to their low quality of science.

Seventy five years after the war, can't we stop re-fighting WWII based on propaganda lies ...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1945 : annus mirabilis or annus horribilis for Scientism ?

I have always been fascinated by the Janus-like nature of the year 1945 in its relationship to Science and the undue worship thereof.

1945 was the year that it was widely admitted that it was only the Allies' mild-mannered/white-coated men of modern science who had bested the superior combat skills of the jackbooted henchmen of the Axis and so won the war for humanity.

A good year for Scientism.

But 1945 was also the year that we now conventionally mark the start of post-modern science... and hence marks the end of modern science.

Surely then a bad year for Scientism.

Clearly we have two views on the alleged success of modern science in 1945 - one made at the time and still held firmly by elderly academics and citizens and another made forty years later and just as firmly held by young academics.

One credits it for ending the war on behalf of the morally right side and the other blames it for starting the war and behaving so beastly during it.

All Life is Family , part one and two, explores why it was possible for most of the modernist audience of 1945 not to see the many failings of wartime science on both sides, technical as well as moral, running from 1939 through to war's end.

And why historians ever since have repeated this initial error.

The war is simply never broken out of its narrative mode to present the predictions that each and every participant had made at a particular point in time together with an assessment of whether those predictions came to pass.

Who, for example, predicted that Hitler won't conquer Moscow within four months after June 1941 ?

No one that I am aware of, as Stalin himself soon had his doubts about this capitol's survival - some military 'experts' even publicly ventured that Moscow would fall in mere weeks not months !

Predictions proved about as inaccurate during WWII as they had all throughout history - only this time they were pressed forward with the strong claim that they were backed by the best science.

If so, the best science was wrong, over and over and over for six long years.

And if "All Life is Family" is the first to say so, so be it .....

Saturday, December 7, 2013

All life is family : science at War (1939-1945) with reality

During the era of modernity, 1870s- 1960s , politics was science and science was politics , both united around the idea that ultimately physical reality was really quite simple and so should human reality be.

Simple, pure, few/big,slow to change, predictable.

Modernity and its science had never had a war where it could show its stuff, earlier wars being run by the old men who grew up before scienticism replaced religion.

Now there were old men running this war who were teenagers when scienticism was in its fullest flower.

Let the games begin !

But their best laid plans were soon burnt out shells and nobody survived WWII with their predictions intact, as the actual complexity of reality confounded the mightiest and wisest over and over.

Supposedly 1945 marked the apogee of modernist science, winning the war for the Allies etc ( insert A bomb and penicillin here).

In fact it was its nadir , the birthdate of post-modernity , post-modern science ...

Friday, December 6, 2013

"You can't divorce Family" : the failure of eugenic autarky

There are many theories why the world's species all either use "sex between two different but related genomes" or "cloning combined with highly unstable individual genetics" , to reproduce themselves.

This, rather than merely reproducing pure clones of each species' best individual samples , forever and forever.

 But most of those theories boil down to the fact that a highly diverse (dirty) (mixed) population presents less of a static target to incoming diseases and parasites , compared to a select and unendingly stable clone line.

Eugenic scientists everywhere knew all of this, even in the 1940s, but they thought of themselves as the smartest men and women in the universe and just assumed we humans could beat the odds.

But even as Germany tried to institute eugenic autarky during WWII, the worm of romantic love and the attraction between opposites , bit its way into their Aryan apple.

Many an enslaved foreigner and a German woman or a German male occupying troop and an enslaved female from the occupied population ended up falling in love and making babies : mixed babies.

Just as blood studies of Aryan and non-Aryan blood suggested has always happened in times of war, invasion and conquest.

(And no, I am not forgetting children born of war rape .

But remember despite German eugenicists hating this activity and making it among their 'crime of all crimes', it still went on regardless.

As did the equally hated 'true love matches'.)

Yes, the Nazis talked much of blood politics but were in the event forced to keep the results of their own Nazi-directed blood typing studies well out of their public rhetoric.

Because as Rachel Boaz has discovered, those studies totally failed to find pure populations of anyone - friend and foe  - to back up their soil and blood rhetoric.

Interestingly, occupied populations hated the sight of teenage Germans and their own teenagers falling in love and treated these girls and their children worse than they tended to treat the powerful adults who profited so well off collaboration.

We all recall the news reels of girls with shaved heads - they were actually the lucky ones .

Many others were shot outright in the local non-judicial killings that happened just after Liberation in every country.

Purity obsessions don't wear well on German or Frenchman - they should instead admit that opposites attracting does more to keep our species fit than any amount of positive or negative eugenic measures....

Did WII begin when first small nation was attacked or when first big empire was attacked ?

The peoples of the world's last big empires (whether wartime winners or losers) still produce the most books on everything - unfortunately including those on WWII.

They all insist that the war began on the evening of September 2nd 1939, when the British parliament indicated strongly to the wavering British cabinet that the British and French empires should declare war on the German empire unless it retreated completely from its Polish invasion.

But the peoples of smaller nations (and perhaps some of their bolder historians) insist equally strongly that the war actually started eight years earlier.

That war began on September 19th 1931 when the Japanese empire invaded smaller Manchuria unopposed.

Japan and other empires then proceeded to gobble other small nations, unopposed militarily, until September 3rd 1939 when British and French bombers began to hit Germany.

All this matters because it forces us to 'fess up as to what WWII was actually about when it began : not really about big empires attacking small nations (1931 et al) but about big empires attacking other big empires (1939 et al).

So now we know the intentionality of WWII , but we should not correct one error merely to espouse another : that the end results of WWII for any party were anything like what was intended at the beginning by that party.

Most all histories of WWII are literally 'one damn thing after another' with no attempt to contrast what each party in the conflict proposed should happen, week by week and year by year, against what actually did happen.

And by party, I mean to cast my net as widely as possible to include any individual or organization with opinions on the course of the war.

If we see WWII as some sort of multi-party SIX YEAR PLAN and judge its results accordingly, we find that everyone's (utopian cum scientific) plans for the war never ever touched reality even fleetingly throughout its long course....

Science's internecine war : simplifying production science vs complicating impact science

A production scientist, indoctrinated by parents to keep things neat and tidy and to see things as neat-able and tidy-able , grows up seeing his or her job as a very simple one.

"Dig up uranium as cheaply and quickly as physically possible, full stop".

(And what happens afterwards is not any of their business.)

An impact scientist, raised differently, says wait a doggone minute, that uranium was lying beneath the earth's surface for millenniums, not disturbing the endless generations of humans living above it.

It wasn't lying there as a metal either - but bound together to some highly reactive (chemically reactive) compound.

Now the millions of tonnes of rock above the ore body has been disturbed, along with many underground water flows.

That highly reactive compound is now free in the air and water to tightly bind to other materials (maybe human livers) and the uranium metal will have many many diverse effects upon the world it has now been loosened into.

God, the production scientist whines, those impact scientists can make things seems so complicated !

They can do so, because that's the way things actually are.

Just as messy and as impossible to divorce from your day-job, as your or my extended family are impossible to divorce from our home life....

Thursday, December 5, 2013

science LOST world war two...

'What ?! Don't be foolish : if historians of all stripes agree on one thing, it is that 'science' won WWII - the freedom-loving Allies simply had better 'science' then did the dictators of the Axis.'

I doubt that all historians think that way.

 I am fairly sure that British historian David Edgerton hardly agrees that mere science , rather than an extraordinary advantage held by the Allies in terms of population, territory and resources, 'won the day' (albeit six long years after the war began).

What I think best describes WWII is that all sides constantly expected one thing to happen, based on their scientific beliefs, and over and over another unexpected thing actually happened.

Let us look at the mid term American elections for what I mean : if ,when asked 'who won' I said 'the politicians' , you'd think me very rude indeed.

'Yes, yes, but who won :  Republicans or Democrats ?'

We expect conflicts , with winners and losers , in almost every aspect of human life - but not in science.

Everything that happened scientifically in the war is simply credited to 'science' , with no sense of the possibility of scientific winners and losers or of scientific conflicts.

1940's Allied plans for precision bombing with the Norden bombsight and the 1945 Allied atomic fire bombing all of civilian Hiroshima merely to burn down its naval base are in 100% opposition to each other - scientifically - but they get rolled up together as just two of the many scientific triumphs of WWII.

Wartime penicillin was delayed for decades by the Allied scientific elites' determination to first make it as highly profitable patentable synthetic penicillin.

But when this failed and the underdog natural penicillin proved the real winner, the academic history of penicillin elided synthetic penicillin from our memory banks, like a Stalinist commissar vanished from a group photo.

Reading the published histories of penicillin, one might think that the OSRD proponents of synthetic penicillin (and the steadfast opponents of the OPRD's natural crude penicillin) had been ardent champions of the natural method all along.

Here are two rival Washington bureaucracies , competing. No surprise surely, but because they are scientific bureaucrats , conflict is denied by science-cheerleading historians and the great triumph of the tiny OPRD is transferred to the mighty OSRD, by implication.

So if the story of wartime penicillin's fierce internecine war is ever to be told, a political scientist, not a medical scientist, is the best person for the job....