Friday, October 31, 2014

Citation on Military Cross reveals the essential Martin Henry Dawson

Martin Henry Dawson 1915
Martin Henry Dawson , enroute to battlefields of WWI
Henry Dawson went to WWI as a private and came back an officer and a decorated war hero (MC with citation for bravery and leadership in the field).

He also had two grave war wounds which left him permanently partially disabled.

Time spent recovering from those wounds and the resulting infections, together with a year overseas as an orderly in Dalhousie's Number Seven Base Hospital, meant he had spent almost half of his war in hospitals or recovering in convalescent homes.

Perhaps as a result, he had decided to change his career plans and become a medical doctor.

Unfortunately,some highly ambitious medical students who successfully avoided war service ( such as Howard Florey and Chester Keefer) had a vital four year start on him in his new profession.

Despite all this, I argue that the war did not fundamentally change his personality.

His parents raised him right - and to do right.

Always a serious studious both as a schoolboy and as a young university student , he merely shifted his lifelong love of learning to medicine - becoming a research doctor rather than some kind of university professor in the humanities.

His parents had instilled in him and his brothers a Christian concern for helping others less fortunate and if he later fell away from a formal affiliation with the church , some of that upbringing clearly never left him.

It is that upbringing that earned him his MC .

He won it for his efforts during his first ever time in combat.

Partly it was won for his considerable physical triumph in rising up after being wounded in the big toe to lead repeated charges against the enemy through the heavy mud.

And for his efforts later that day re-organizing a badly disorganized general front line from counterattacks, after more senior officers failed.

A wounded big toe is a total game changer for combat activity - which is why so many soldiers deliberately shoot out their own big toe through a sand bag  to get out of war service.

Without two working big toes, we can't really run or walk , let alone while carrying heavy back packs through heavy mud.

It is our unique big toes, not our primate-shared and relatively common set of opposing thumbs, that truly marks out the humans from the rest of the lifeforms.

 But what really secured his MC was what he did when he was finally ordered off the field to hospital.

He gave up his place in a stretcher and instead walked through miles of mud to the rear hospital, at the cost of great physical pain and adding further damage to his wounded foot.

He gave up that seat he said so that a severely wounded ordinary soldier, who had been triaged to die out in the front line mud with a blanket as his only solace in his final hours, could exercise his 'faint hope clause' for a further lease on life.

Dawson's concern that all humanity should have a fighting chance ("a fair go") to enjoy a normal full lifespan was never more revealed than in this small wartime incident.

This same concern later made him notable for being the first doctor to use penicillin as an antibiotic.

A pioneering effort he did all because he hoped to save some patients he felt the wartime medical establishment were deliberately triaging to die by neglect.

His efforts (again achieved at a great physical cost because this time he was dying of a painful terminal disease) directly saved a few dozen of these patients.

But indirectly , his efforts have benefitted ten billion of us - so far since 1940 - all living longer healthier lives as the result of his initially small efforts.

Small bread cast on big waters....

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nazis manning 88mm gun might be eugenic but its shells were not - democratically wounding 1A soldier and 4F civilian alike

Deadly group A strep bacteria (GAS) will tolerantly and democratically carry off all sorts of injured and wounded individuals : Aryan, Jewish, 4F ,1A , fit, unfit , warrior or civilian.

It knows and accepts no hierarchy of worthiness but like any incoming artillery shell it kills and maims in perfect equal opportunity randomness.

Remember all this when the true wartime story of penicillin-for-all is made into a typical Hollywood fantasy.

Under Hollywood's blinkered gaze, wartime penicillin would have to have been manufactured by 1A handsome , virile/virulent , WASP military doctors with chiseled chins.

Their moral conflict driving the plot would be this : should they interrupt their vital violent combat work , just to rescue some weedy swarthy 4F civilians on the Home front who are once again revealed as too inept to resist fatal bacterial infections like GAS on their own ?

In reality , it was of course totally all the other way around.

In fact it was weedy 4F stay-at-home unfits who created the wartime penicillin that saved the lives of hunky virile 1As dying helplessly from bacteria-infected wounds from random 88mm shell fragments.

A plot so subversive of the established American literary cultural and political order that Jesus and the Gospel authors could probably write it in their sleep.

But equally so it is a plot that would be far beyond what the most supposedly 'radical' graphic novelist or Indie film director could ever write.

They - to date - have only unconsciously reproduced the traditional authoritarian rejections of democratic debate over values.

They have only unconsciously continued to hype the ageless American monomyth of regenerative violence that by-passes democratic debate ,compromise and tolerance , albeit a monomyth now cloaked in the hippest of counterculture colours...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Gotham Eight : 'everyday heroes' but definitely not in on the 9/11 NYC firemen model

How to make the tragedy of 9/11 into a national act of heroism soon proved a PR nightmare for the American media.

Because the 3000 real world victims were actually from about eighty nations with many being non-white, non-Christian , non-American , non-male, non-adult.

Some were even unborn babies.

How then to make them all seem to be 100% red-blooded All-American male heroes in the traditional mode ?

Couldn't - so didn't.

Almost instantly all the attention shifted to the everyday heroism of the hunky NYC firemen (about 10% of the total dead) (the equally heroic, equally dead NYC policemen basically need not apply.)

Why ?
Just like the Twin Towers, Pentagon and plane victims, the police dead looked too much like real reality , not imagined reality.

Too many colored folk, too many foreigners, too many women. too many children .

What a relief to focus then on the NYC Fire Department , still a hunky chunky bit of all white, all male-dom , circa 1895.

(Only 24 of the 343 NYC firemen who died were Hispanic or black.)

By contrast , my Gothan Eight were everyday heroes too but ones who were also awkwardly crips, darkies , swarthy Jews, middle aged women invariably called 'girls' by males half their age and experience - and a bit of basement slime.

Nothing there was Fox News friendly - but so what ?

Just think of the Gotham Eight as my figurative uplifted finger to the media types who debased most of those who died on September 11 2001 merely to score ideological points in defence of imagined traditional American values ....

Friday, October 24, 2014

New Yorker supermen in costumes before "Superman" : Fascists, the Bund and Popular Front organizations

 New York City has always been filled, will always be filled , with organizations advocating changes that they see as reforms, to what they see as an ongoing malaise.

But in the 1920s and 1930s , some of these organizations took to putting on colourful costumes and uniforms and engaging in deliberately provocative street marches , as a leading part of their efforts to effect reform.

These colourful street efforts were most successful if they ended in violent clashes between rival reform groups , where the strongest fists won the field.

Because the resulting media publicity benefitted both winners and losers in the fist fight.

Some of these groups were on the Right - sympathetic to the Fascist or Nazi view of reality.

Others were part of the Popular Front, comprising a wide spectrum of Centre and Leftish opinion.

The Popular Front was important historically because it was one of the first political movements to claim that political creations based upon popular art and culture could be the singly most effective way to affect political and social change.

Besting even the political ballot box or the revolutionary bomb.

Against all this ferment, is it really any surprise that an individual in costume, using violence to do good, was created , in these same years, in the very downmarket (popular) cultural medium of the comic book ?

Superman's origins, I submit , lay not just in an reaction against the Silver Legion's ideology but also in a tacit acceptance by Siegel and Shuster that the League's use of colourful distinctive uniforms and street violence was seemingly the only effective way to effect reform.

But as fellow New Yorkers Dorothy Day or Dr (Martin) Henry Dawson insisted , there was another less violent way to change hearts and minds ...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What superheroes are not : not inventors, discoverers, doctors,firemen , teachers , thinkers

Mother Teresa --- with an assault rifle

It is well known that all the superpower violence of the superheroes is designed only to save us from bad guys -- what could possibly be wrong with that moral stance ?

Saving an "us" who is not totally good but not really very bad either, from bad guys who are totally bad .

Well for starters, one might reply  that in the real world the good and bad guys rarely morally divide up as neatly as all that , under all circumstances.

Again, we might ask how do the superheroes marvellously manage save us with all that superpower violence without that same violence being lethal to human lives ?

They do seem rather like a fairy tale version of the real world US Air Force.

They superheroes are like super-efficient military pilots who somehow always destroy German - Japanese - North Korean - North Vietnamese - Iraq et al war factories ... without ever killing any nearby civilians or factory employees.

And even as fairy tale heroes, the superheroes are also heroes of the narrowest sort.

These superheroes are never heroic firemen or doctors, never inventing or discovering something that helps make human life better.

Nor heroes who inspire us by word and thought - never a public teacher (in the formal sense) or a public intellectual.

Never a saint - never selfless love for humanity even at the cost of their own deaths (no agape love).

Because the superhero is always very moral without ever being very mortal - which rather takes the sting out of their acts of bravery on our behalf.

Moral Flaws in the Superhero Model

The superheroes' original creators keenly wanted to do the right thing - fight all the bad people of the 1930s - but they failed morally.

They were physically and culturally small people in a world that exalted the big.

Big physically fit people, big battleships, big tanks, big bombers, big nations, big corporations , big hydro dams and on and on.

Tragically the superhero creators accepted their era's mantra that 'bigger was better' ---  even if in a a highly selective way.

To these comic book creators, 'bigger was better' was reduced or restricted to 'bigger is potentially morally better in practise' .

Because they felt that big goodness is the only practical way to defeat big badness.

And their super bigness was a solo super powerful America defeating the Axis all on its own.

But imagine a 2014 NATO response to a 1939 German threat to invade Poland.

Now we'd see two dozen nations, virtually all much smaller than Germany (but collectively much bigger) all vowing to go to war together, unless Germany backed off.

This is a viable alternative to the DC universe's solo superpower approach--- and the way that WWII was actually won.

WWII America - even allied to England and Great Russia - could never have defeated the Axis if the rest of the world had remained a hostile Neutral to their cause : from Canada to Liberia to the Free Danes, the small nations all helped.

And remember that the badness the superheroes combat is always highly visible, unsubtle, overt.

Morally easy stuff.

They concentrate on defeating bad guys robbing a poor grandmother with a gun on a public street corner.

Never do they work against the subtle and complex systemic circumstances that made her poor in the first place.

Or that led so many others to consider being a violent robber knocking off harmless old ladies as a better job than years of occasional part time work at minimum wages.

I think there are other ways to be a hero than obtaining the super powers that make inflicting violence risk free.

Dr Dawson's tiny team of misfits and unfits is set in the same 1940 Gotham as the original superheroes but it offers an alternative example of what a non-DC Universe, with un-super heroes - might look like ...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

1940s Super-Heroes : each an intoxicating - toxic - mix of muscles, magic, machine and mind

Comic Books in 1940 would never profess that "Might is Right" , rather that "Only Might can Do Right" .

But first : why then the need for a secret ID , if one is truly omnipotent ?

Well , remember that 1940 superheroes were merely the moral equivalent of that year's notorious enemy Fifth Columns : because while their great strength was impressive, their sneakiness was even more so.

While in perfect disguise as weak, meek , mild civilians, no police, military or intelligence service could destroy these superheroes in some predawn surprise attack.

With our workaday nerds and geeks instantly turned into cloaked avengers, sneak attacks of a sort were always the other way around --- now coming from the good guys.

So Superman : a Panzer tank disguised as a Peugeot.

But while these superheroes tried to avoid violence on the innocent, rather like a moral 1940 Norden bombsight, one can see that, once off the comic pages, that even their violence to physical structures were bound to kill real world innocent bystanders.

Surgical strikes by superpowers or superheroes rarely are.

More importantly, on a moral plane, exalting violence for social good allows others to equally and sincerely claim to also morally use violence for social good.

Many - perhaps most -  of those killing Jews, Romas et al truly believed their job were like that of social doctors , cutting out cancerous portions of the Aryan body politic to save its life.

Morality is in - or isn't in - all of us , any of us : morality does not come only SuperSized.

In 1940, Dawson's tiny team of unfits was certainly not super , but it definitely was heroic....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gotham's hunky comicbook super-heroes written and drawn by 97 lb Jewish weaklings and a 4F Negro with a bad heart

Forgotten black comic book pioneer Matt Baker, Harlem artist 1921-1959

In 1940 Gotham City (and in the rest of America and the world) , if we can judge by the popularity of certain new super-heroes, moral strength seemed to be equated with physical strength.

Perfect morals requiring a perfect body.

Unfits need not apply to be super-heroes or indeed any kind of hero - moral or physical.

Ironic then if we look deep behind the colourful covers of Gotham's Golden Age of Comics because there we see them mostly written and drawn by weedy Jewish kids from poverty row , along with at least black artist with a bad heart, Matt Baker.

Clarence Matthew Baker was born down South in December 1921 and suffered a bad childhood attack from "the polio of the poor" (Rheumatic Fever) which permanently weakened his heart valves.

Probably told not to play strenuous sports , he learned to love to draw and after high school came to New York to learn art skills at the famous Cooper Union and freelance as an illustrator.

His forte was extremely gorgeous women (and hunky good looking men !) and he soon found enough work to keep him fed and housed.

No comic book artist got well paid or published credits in those days, so he doesn't seem to have suffered any worse in his art career than his white friends and competitors.

(Baker lived at 103 E 116th Street in Harlem.)

Like athlete and coach Aaron Leroy Alston, Baker's story is another case of what might have been, if only his heart condition could have been prevented or cured so he could have lived longer.

Tragically he died, aged only 37, in 1959 --  well before comic book artists found world fame.

His return to partial fame is based on the fact he was the pencil artist for a pioneering graphic novel, "IT RHYMES WITH LUST".

This in turn led to a fuller examination of his total work and to ask - were there other pioneering black comic book artists out there being overlooked ?

But let me state as gently as possible that whether as white protestant or Jew or black, all these comic book artists of the 1940s only got work if they played ball within the social conventions of the day.

That meant no weedy Jew or weak-hearted black (or weedy weak hearted white) was going to be seen in these comic books defeating criminals and Nazis.

So even when non-Aryan hunks took on blond beast Aryan hunks - the Aryans lost the resulting physical battle but won the real (intellectual) battle : their claim that only the physically fit were morally fit.

By way of contrast, in 1940 Dr (Martin) Henry Dawson tried to save weak-hearted Alston's life and would have tried to save Baker's as well (if he had gotten sick in his early twenties instead of his late thirties.)

Dawson saw the 'unfit' as worthy of a full life and worthy of being allowed to do great moral deeds.

He saw potential moral super-heroes everywhere - in the physically fit and in the physically challenged ....

Picking winners and losers, triage, genocide,eugenics, artificial breeding : all plenticide by other names

When punters down at the casino continue to believe that they can beat the odds , we call them gamblers.

But when PhDs believed they can beat the odds, we called them modern scientists.

And modern planners and modern statesmen and modern leaders of industry.

Efforts to 'drain the gene pool'* to just a few types is a form of scientific gambling.

It is done by eugenists' sterilization schemes and by their slow coding of the 'unfit' and by outright mass genocide.

Implicitly , it says we humans think we can predict the whole course of the future as far ahead as the mind can see --- and the few genetic types we have picked are perfect to combat whatever surprises future chance can throw at us.

You can't get more collective hubris in one room than that ....

* The term Draining the Gene Pool , by the way, was first used in print (in its current sarcastic sense), in the years immediately after WWII's end had revealed the Nazi attempts to 'drain it' by euthanasia and genocide .

It thus is one of the first neologisms of our current post-Modern Era.

Why, after 4 billion years, most bacteria STILL can't swim

Back in the Modern Era (1870s -1960s , gone but hardly lamented) a strong proof for Darwin devotees' claims that bacteria were incredibly primitive was the established fact that after 4 billion years of existence, most bacteria still couldn't swim.

Couldn't move at all in fact , most of them.

Forced to go wherever currents of wind or water moved them.

How unbearably crude !

Actually, of course, a moment's reflection suggests that what these ardent Darwinists were actually saying was that Evolution didn't really work.

Because a few bacteria species actually do move under their own power - and many other species threw up mutations in the past that could move.

But in terms of evolutionary (reproductive) success , over an entire world, over 4 billion years , on the evidence , bacteria that had to rely on sheer caprice and chance to find food, water and shelter did far better than bacteria that could deliberately move with precision to where their senses' predicted food would be.

That should have served as a warning to Modern humanity but of course it didn't.

(Cue WWI and WWII's dashed war plans and ill-founded war predictions).

The bacteria results would be as if a handful of USAAF fighters had been sent out on random sweeps over Germany in early 1945 (and told to strafe any defenceless train they came across by chance).

And postwar studies indicated that these chance encounters, impossible for the harried Germans to counter, did far more than destroy the heavily leveraged German transportation system than did all the costly and carefully planned 1000 bomber raids plodding along predictably to massively defended Ruhr rail marshalling yards.

(Yes ? Oh the postwar studies do suggest that the fighters did do more ??!!)

But humanity ignored the bacteria and instead retained an absolute faith was put in our human abilities to beat the odds of chance by basing our distant future on precise and predictive plans.

In physics, still really emotionally wedded to Newton despite the quantum revolution , this was best seen in the science of ballistics.

The point of pride was the Norden bombsight, supposedly able drop a bomb in an enemy pickle barrel from 15,000 or more feet up.

From a plentitude of non-military objects below, the Norden would precisely destroy only the military target that bomber leadership planned to takeout today.

In chemistry, a similar urge to "plenticide the plentitude" was seen in the science of synthesis.

Chemists would replace all the many 'imperfect' natural materials in one particular area (women's fabrics for example) with one perfect, human-made, plastic substitute.

In biology, almost all agreed that while God might have an inordinate fondness for beetles ,
most biologists did not.

So planned precise genetics would weed out all the imperfect beetle species and aid the reproductive efforts of the few remaining - perfect - beetle species judged useful to Man.

After the beetle surplus had been cleared up, more precise plenticide would weed out the plentitude of humanity as well.

If natural evolution can be compared to a global stock market, then it can be said that Modern Era humanity really didn't trust the judgement of the marketplace .

The Moderns, in capitalist America or Stalin's Russia, both preferred a natural economy devised down to the nth detail using planned, precise, predictable evolution.

Soon it was expected , all children would be IQ tested not long after birth and the best - the geniuses-in-waiting - would be heavily tutored , sparing no expense.

Those falling below a certain IQ score would be 'put to sleep' (by lethal injection).

No more would we fear the untutored genius bubbling up energetically from the underclass , putting all the highly educated offspring of the well-off to shame.

In this perfect world, we would have Pat Boone singing Tutti Fruiti but not Little Richard , Paul Whiteman playing West End Blues but not Louis Armstrong.

Oh Joy !

By contrast, (Martin) Henry Dawson's quixotic efforts to save the 'unfit' SBE patients consigned to a Code Slow death by a heartless Allied medical establishment could be best explained by examining his lifelong interest in 'unfit' bacteria.

Dawson seemed to have felt the human species can't accurately guess what genetic skills might be useful, moment to moment, in a dynamically uncertain world , no more than the much older and much larger number of bacteria species ever could.

Better that we should let 'all life to live', rather than risking our futures by putting all our predictive eggs in one slender genetic basket : a small 'pure' genetic pool was actually a weak genetic pool.

The huge plentitude of life chances seems - on all the evidence that Dawson had  -to demand an equal plentitude of life forms , if life was to survive in the long term.

Because the world actually doesn't change incredibly slowly and so Darwin's predicted incredibly small and slow genetic changes simply couldn't be the main engine of Evolution.

Instead every species is always throwing up a vast variety of varying individuals - many that merely manage to barely survive their species' niche without actually perfectly fitting it.

But when that niche changes rapidly, some of those existing (and formerly ill-fitting) keys now fit this new keyhole much better and now flourish grandly rather than merely surviving.

I shall not credit Dawson with insights beyond the evidence.

I merely observe that Dawson always acted through the twenty years of his prematurely brief scientific career as if he felt that all of life's 'unfit' were worth studying for lessons for 'fitter' humanity , were worth helping to survive.

He always acted as if he suspected carefully planned experiments that had worked in vitro mightn't continue to work as well in vivo - out there in the real world.

The really dynamically complex and fluid real world....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Updating J D Ratcliff's wartime penicillin classic, YELLOW MAGIC

I like to think that my "UN-SUPER HEROES" is an 21st century updating of JD (John Drury) Ratcliff's written-to-order 1945 popular science classic "YELLOW MAGIC" .

Ratcliff wrote the facts as truthfully he knew them in 1945 (or was told about them by the few penicillin participants he was able to contact firsthand).

Since late 1941, Penicillin had been surrounded by an ever more effective wall of wartime censorship all over the Allied world.

This allowed anyone involved in wartime penicillin's development to spin their own take to Ratcliff, without fear Ratcliff would have any access to paper documents to query their oral account.

Since 1945 , many of the paper documents have been archived or made public via scholarly articles and books.

But no one has since tried to do with the dramatic tale of wartime penicillin what Ratcliff ( following somewhat upon Paul de Kruif's style) did so well in his little volume.

JD could make any Science story come alive simply by re-telling it in a series of dramatic scenes.

And by freely adding his purple imaginings whenever his participants' eye witness accounts of specific incidents failed to actually recall much color or specifics.

Remember - unlike with the contemporary workings out of atomic energy and atomic bombs - no participants in this particular medical story had any sense - until mid 1943 - that they were making world-shaking history instead of just making penicillin.

So the drama and the little personal details were generally liberally 'recalled' later - after penicillin had become world famous - rather than being accurately recorded at the time.

So we only know the distinctive smell of wartime (crude) penicillin because an otherwise ordinary 1945 war nurse recounts the smell , in passing , in her much later memoir of combat hospital experiences.

Like all writers and historians, JD had to first hear all and read all of the varying accounts about wartime penicillin and then insert his reasoned opinion as to which composite account was mostly likely to be correct.

I can't tell you what SBE patients Aaron Leroy Alston and Charles Aronson felt like on October 16 1940 - but I can and will tell you how SBE patients their age tended to act at that stage in their disease.

The same with the smell of Dawson's crude penicillin as that first historic ampoule was broken ---- I'll have to use that wartime combat nurse's description - his penicillin , being much cruder, could only have smelt worse.

 I do not know how the specific ward nurses looking after Aronson and Alston on October 16th 1940 felt about a new medicine that smelt like a return to dirty dank moldy old basements.

But we do know lots about the house-proud nurses of the 1940s , in the days before handling high tech machines replaced pails and mops in the priority list of nurse training !

I won't invent speech inside quote marks - if it is inside quote marks, it will only be there because it is a direct quote from a contemporary document.

Instead I will use a lot of an old fashioned form of free indirect speech - something quite common until the 20th century , when authors were strongly discouraged from commenting inside their own works .

I will freely intermingle my comments (my opinions) in a sound alike version of those particular participants' voice, as I try to imagine what typical participants of their age, nationality, class, gender etc would likely say at that place and point in time.

I call my book a drama in five acts - so dramatizing each scene really isn't much of a stretch  ....

Friday, October 17, 2014

Granddad's penicillin (G) still saving lives - from mushroom poisons, some of the most toxic poisons known !

Seventy five years young and still ticking, penicillin G (WWII penicillin, by the needle penicillin , the first of all the antibiotics) continues to amaze.

For reasons totally totally unknown, it helps saves lives of those who have eaten death cap mushrooms which contain some of the most potent toxins known.

Exactly why and how a anti-bacteria killer from one form of fungi reduces the impact of a RNA killing toxin from another fungus is so unknowable as to boggle the mind.

One might as well expect pumpkin spice to do the job as penicillin G.

Its wonders never cease to amaze ....

Modern Science : offering both Plentitude and Plenticide

New raw data is rarely important to scientists : far more important is what is the most currently socially profitable spin to put on this new raw data.

In their individual activities in their own small personal areas of interest,the collectivity of scientists were adding greatly to the Modern Era's overwhelming sense of sensory overload from a plentitude of new facts and sensations.

Life on Earth and Earth itself was much older than thought - from thousands of years to billions.

Ditto the Universe - billions of years old, trillions upon trillions of other suns like ours, other planets like ours.

An outwardly expanding and growing Universe - perhaps expanding and growing forever.

Ever more species being discovered, every more elements, compounds - ever more and more.

With no end in sight.

If scientists kept up with this, they'd soon be as popular as lions at a lambing.

And this was the first generation of  wannabe professional scientists - a generation hoping to be well paid and well pensioned for a lifetime of scientific work.

No more amateurs scientists free to say and do as they pleased.

Professional scientists sang to the public for their supper - what they the public wanted , the scientists gave them.

So plentitude of new facts , beings and objects on one hand.

But on the other - the meat cleaver of plenticide.

It took many forms (Social Darwinism being only the best known) but the bottom line was most of this plenticide was living mistakes, living fossils - early tentative working outs on the way to a few pure perfect forms.

Plato would rescue us from Aristotle .....

Howard Florey : a dominant Alpha Male ... fiercely defending the banal and conventional ideas of Normal Science !

An irony there : the fearsome Howard Florey stands revealed as an intellectual milquetoast , behind his public persona as verbal and physical monster terrifying the calm corridors of 1930s British academic science.

By contrast, to fellow scientists the 1930s Henry Dawson was seen as a submissive and an Omega male , but intellectually his personal ideas created great unease among those same scientists , in almost an Alpha manner.

Howard Florey gauged his very public and very blunt opinions extremely carefully.

He was always - always - on the cutting edge of medical progress - never ever before that edge and never ever behind it.

He distilled the commonplace ideas of the scientifically powerful and then spat them back at them as bluntly and loudly as he could.

"Oh, what a roaring colonial rebel that Florey is - but his new ideas make perfect sense to me" said his flattered superiors about this artful sycophant.

But when the meek and mild Dawson mumbled his shocking personal ideas, his superiors shifted uneasily in their seats and dismissed him as a good ('sound') man in the relative backwater of arthritis studies - but wildly off base in his wide claims about the fundamental importance of microbial variance.

So the wartime clash between Florey and Dawson - over penicillin - was bound to lack verbal and physical fireworks , with no efforts by Florey to get into a fist fight with Dawson as he had done with others in the past.

The fight was all intellectual - all about Dawson's Paradigm Science surmounting Florey's Normal Science - and here the Alpha Male lost completely ....

Friday, October 10, 2014

This Era of Plentudism : the post modern welcoming of plenitude vs modern plenticide

We are - deniers aside - all plentudists these days.

We actually welcome and cherish the chaos and complexity of a multilayered world - welcome and cherish communities composed of  many wildly different little neighbourhoods.

'The more the merrier' is today our motto.

We are all Jane Jacobs and not Robert Moses today - we are all Henry Dawson and not Howard Florey these days.

We no longer have a an almost physical phobia against the mere thought of anything that is all mixed together.

Be that a bunch of different New York City ethnicities,  New York City neighbourhoods or various unknown compounds in New York City crude penicillin juice.

We no longer seek to replicate the chemists' process of separation and purification outside the beaker and flask.

We no longer practise it on human cities ( via the doctrine of widely separated uses and strict zoning) or on so called human 'races' ( with white separated and superior to blacks and Jews).

Adolf Hitler, Robert Moses and Howard Florey all tried that during WWII , and all failed and all were eventually discredited .....

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Un-Super Heroes, the Epilogue : Apollo Theatre , February 17th 1956

Scene 1, Act I of Un-Super Heroes opens on October 16th 1940 with the arrival of patient Charles Aronson at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City just as the last scene of the last Act (V) is August 15th 1944 with Charlie's departure from that same hospital.

But every drama deserves an epilogue and Un-Super Heroes's epilogue is set onstage at New York City's Apollo Theatre, just a mile from the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, on the night of February 17th 1956.

Appearing as a headliner in New York City for the very first time is a Georgia-born black singer from a dead poor family , a singer born with a badly handicapped leg.

But if racism, poverty and his affliction have held him back , he could only echo the sentiments from one of the first of Dawson's SBE cures, Miriam Laskowitz .

Because, like her , regardless of what problems life has tossed him, his heart and lungs certainly weren't one of them.

No siree Bob - or should that be no siree

Because from the moment Little Richard opened his mouth, the whole world noticed that while almost all the original rock'n'roll greats ( white and black) were dead poor by American standards , their heart valves and lung capacity were definitely in great shape.

This then was penicillin's most lasting legacy.

Unlike Aaron Alston (also from Georgia like Little Richard, also poor talented and driven) Richard and other rock 'n' rollers did not have their talents die unused when some infectious disease tragically cut them down in young adulthood.

Dawson's cheap abundant penicillin-for-all benefited everyone for sure - but it benefited the poorest amongst us the most.

And they gave it back to us - in particular in voice, melody and dance.

I can't see Henry Dawson ever becoming a true fan of rock n roll - ragtime was the rock'n'roll of his teen years.

 But I feel sure even he'd smile a broad ironic grin to think of how much of that 'God-awful caterwauling noise 'was all down to his untiring efforts from 1940 to 1945 to secure some penicillin for the poor and the unwanted ....

Penicillin meeting is just the cover story for atomic bomb meeting

On December 17 1941, the medical wing of America's famous OSRD war research agency held a rare - possibly unique - meeting outside the Washington beltway.

Even rarer was the presence of one attendee, the boss of the OSRD himself, Vannevar Bush, never one to think war would be won by advances in medicine.

What on earth was really going on ?

Manhattan's twin wartime projects collide

Supposedly the meeting was held in New York city's highly exclusive University Club to please the CEOs of America's drug companies - but to do that , Chicago would have been a more central choice.

The head of the medical wing, Merck chief scientific consultant A N Richards , had really brought his committee to New York City solely as a favour to Bush.

Bush needed a suitable cover story for a series of meetings on something he felt far more important than Henry Dawson's little Manhattan based natural penicillin project.

Bush was finalizing a plan to ask FDR to approve a wartime atomic bomb as the top Allied war project : the atomic Manhattan Project.

So far most of America's atomic bomb research had happened at the same university where Dawson was doing his penicillin work : Columbia.

Its dean of science George Pegram and its Nobel winning physical chemist Harold Urey had just returned from a special fact finding mission to check out Britain's atomic efforts.

On their return their letter to Bush had made it clear the British plans were well advanced and that America needed to get on board or be left behind in strategic strength.

Bush was there in NYC to hear this confirmed in detail by Pegram - a man he trusted completely to be 'sound' .

Bush had to be sure , before he gave the red light to this hugely expensive project that would suck scarce resources from other (possibly war-winning) new weapons.

Bush gave so much money to Columbia for its atomic Manhattan Project work during the war - money that the entire university badly needed - that Columbia was completely willing to throw Dawson's penicillin Manhattan Project 'under the bus' when Dawson's efforts roused Bush and Richards' ire.

For in Manhattan , the twin projects Bomb/ death and penicillin/life intertwine constantly....

Ironically, for a man in a hurry, Howard Florey takes a very very slow plane to America

By March 1941, according to young eye witness John Hedley-Whyte , Alexander Fleming and Howard Florey both knew (via gossipy trans-Atlantic letters between eye specialists) that there had been a gratifying academic response in America to Florey's August 1940 penicillin article in LANCET.

This, after it had fallen on deaf ears throughout the rest of the world.

Much 'too gratifying' for Florey's taste (and potentially very embarrassing for Fleming).

After all, Dr Fleming had, for 12 years, consistently and confidently insisted penicillin would not work if used as an antibiotics, ie as an internal lifesaving drug against severe bacterial infections.

Fleming saw penicillin as a viable drug only if a synthetic form could be invented - and even then it would be only useful as a topical antiseptic.

Now seemingly natural penicillin had been used as an internal antibiotic by Canadian born American doctor Henry Dawson , to successfully save Charles Aronson from invariably fatal SBE.

"Ouch !" said the ever tender Fleming ego.

Florey was even more alarmed - alarmed enough to halt his own efforts to synthesis penicillin after he had treated two patients in February.

He returned, posthaste, to treating more patients and to preparing a massive - frank and complete - article.

An article completely different from his earlier short and secretive article of August 1940.

Time for The Big Dog to piss along his chosen territory limits - time for the Australian to completely destroy this upstart Canadian colonial rival , Dawson.

He would submit his article for publication before Dawson and then go to America armed with the unpublished manuscript to regain his claim to "own" penicillin's bragging rights.

His chance came in early April when Warren Weaver of the Rockefeller Research Foundation was unexpectedly delayed in London when his fact-finding trip was broken by a car accident.

Florey nabbed him in his London hospital , feeding him on exaggerated tales of bombed out British drug companies.

Florey neglected to tell Weaver that Oxford hadn't been bombed and never would be bombed . Or that many drug companies - particularly outside London hadn't and won't be bombed.

But it was a seemingly good excuse to justify Florey's willingness to trade his patentable-in-Britain penicillin process off to an American drug firm merely for producing one kilogram of 2.5% (semi-pure) penicillin, to help him resume clinical trials.

For just a relatively small amount of penicillin , 40 Mega Units , it remains unclear why if his own process was so good and if Oxford had totally escaped the Blitz, that he and his top production worker, Norman Heatley, didn't simply stay home and produce it themselves rather than slowly production why waltzing off to America.

Or why a series of letters to various American drug firms, via Rockefeller Foundation research executives, together with advance copies of his latest detailed article wouldn't work just as well as a personal pitch and at the same time allow the pair to stay home producing penicillin all the while.

It was because the kilo of penicillin was never the real point.

Florey spent little time in America (only one day three months) actually doing any penicillin research there.

Instead he spend the entire three months barnstorming countless university researchers and drug research heads alike , talking up how his team had been the first to discover the method purify penicillin and then to use it as an antibiotic.

Even in a wartime crisis, there are many scientists to whom claiming personal priority for discovery is the real priority.

So Florey, the infamous Bushwacker of medical research, was out on the warpath again and taking no prisoners because he played science like he played tennis : ruthlessly.

Pleasing then to report that the man-in-a-hurry Florey got hoisted on his own petard.

For he rejected taking the conventional two week long ship route to America via Liverpool to Halifax and then by train to New York .

And he rejected paying for it on his own nickel.

But by the time the Rockefeller Foundation approved funding and the US and UK governments approved Florey's passage on the supposedly fast clipper plane route, four months had passed.

Four long months since Dawson had first revealed his clinical results with three SBE patients, before a small public lecture audience at the New School of Social Research.

In that period, Dawson had revealed more details of his results with a total of 4 SBE patients and eight eye patients ,but this time in a paper delivered before the biggest medical research conference in North America.

The story had broken wide over the wire services and been published in the New York Times and Newsweek.

Had even got reviewed overseas in South Africa's medical journal !

The main reason Weaver and Rockefeller had given Florey $6000 was to have him go to America to pool his results with that of Dawson and Rene Dubos ( working on another antibiotic) ---  all for the good of the allied effort against Hitler.

Florey stiffed Weaver, the Rockefeller Foundation, Dawson and Dubos by dog-dancing his three months in America against any chance he might even accidentally run into Dubos and Dawson.

He wasn't about to share his glory with any others, war effort or not.

Florey was at least intellectually consistent  - he had also successfully avoided aiding the WWI war effort as well.

But his long delay in getting to America (not till July 1941) certainly didn't help his claim to be first - everywhere he went, he was asked about Dawson's earlier pioneering efforts .

Perhaps the slow ship, paid on his own nickel, might have been a lot faster than the fast plane paid for by others....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A biography that , like GOOGLE , will always be in beta ...

How can it be otherwise?

I can claim that Un-Super Heroes is a biography of penicillin but everyone knows it is really about Dr (Martin) Henry Dawson - the man who gave it its first real job.

But the sum of his personal papers is rather less than zero.

As a result,  I expect to be constantly re-writing the book as ever-newer information is uncovered - some of it hopefully brought up from deep in the ground by the interest 'roused' by the publication of my earlier volumes of the book.

That's my daft hope anyway ....

Un-Super Heroes : a biography of NEW DEAL penicillin ...

The post-modern NEW DEAL extrusion onto the landscape of the Modern Age

British Conservative wartime penicillin or American Republican wartime penicillin , if they had succeeded, would have totally altered the generally favourable image we have today of penicillin.

It would have been regarded as needlessly expensive and originally available - by design -  to only the richest and whitest classes.

By contrast the wartime penicillin we actually got in the end  - NEW DEAL penicillin - is probably the world's best known medicine almost entirely because it is also the most beloved of lifesaver.

It remains non-patented ( in the public domain) and naturally made and hence both cheap and available to all nations to make.

During the war this non-patented natural penicillin was made available to all those in the world dying from lack of it only because the New Deal oriented super agency known as the WPB (War Production Board) willed it to be so.

In many accounts, the New Deal was definitely on its way out in Washington and America by 1945 and the gift of cheap natural penicillin for all was merely its final, departing, gift.

But in my view, the informally postmodern New Deal morphed seamlessly into formal post-Modernity in late 1945 and the gift of  cheap natural penicillin for all became merely postmodernity's opening gambit...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 16 1940 : the Eyes of History focus in on a small hospital room on the nearly deserted Columbia University campus

Global contemporary opinion (and global contemporary journalism) was unanimous : the most important event in the world on October 16 1940 was Registration Day for America's first ever peacetime draft.

A world at war (Allied, Axis and Neutral) was momentarily united in wanting to know two things and two things only.

After the deprivation of the decade-long Great Depression and all the American university anti-war protests , were the young men of the world's greatest power able to fight and were they willing to fight ?

The fate of the world literally hung in the balance.

So all contemporary eyes were on the registration of America's potential A1 males.

But the Eyes of History, distilling events through the long glass tubes of time and sober second thoughts , may differ from global contemporary opinion , even when that global opinion was as united as it was on October 16 1940.

Because history - 75 years on - is agreed that a rare world-changing event actually did happen in America on October 16 1940 but it wasn't the coming of the Draft.

Instead it all happened, unnoticed at the time , in a small hospital room on the medical campus of New York City's Columbia University.

Despite the fact that almost all assumed that both in that hospital room would shortly be dead from then invariable fatal subacute bacterial endocarditis , the young black man (Aaron Leroy Alston) and the Jewish youth (Charles Aronson) had been earlier been dutifully registered by a selective service team specially assigned to hospital patients.

Clearly these two were not just 4F , but 'the 4Fs of the 4Fs'.

But one man - Dr (Martin) Henry Dawson - didn't assume their death was inevitable.

He hoped to have them both up and around and turning up for their selective service medical exam when called.

The engine of his hopes lay in a small hypodermic needle in his hand.

By his own admission his medicine was new, untested, crude.

To the sceptical nurses watching in the corridor, it was also as dirty as rust and smelt like a moldy old damp basement.

Their response was natural - successful 1940 nursing was less about high tech machines and more about extreme cleanliness.

The nurses in the corridor couldn't believe that Dr Dawson was actually thinking of injecting something so dirty and foul smelling into the temple of the human body.

But he was - and he did.

And with that needle sliding into the young mens' arm began the Age of Antibiotics - because that crude moldy powder was penicillin, made - as the nurses suspected - from a mold of the penicillium family .

This was the first time ever that penicillin (available for a dozen years as a lab clearing agent) was given its proper - real job - lifesaving.

Thanks partly to that October 16 1940 penicillin shot, Charles Aronson went on to beat his endocarditis death sentence.

A small Brooklyn supplier to the soda pop industry (Pfizer !) got inspired by Dawson's success with penicillin and went on not just to produce most of WWII's penicillin but also to develop the biological production techniques that still used to produce most of today's antibiotics.

All of this was reported in a seminal book (Penicillin : Meeting the Challenge) by a women scientist (Dr Gladys L Hobby) who was not merely a close participant at many of the seminal events of the entire Age of Antibiotics but who was part of the tiny team that day in that small hospital room.

She confirmed her memories by consulting hospital records that have since been destroyed and she too has since died.

It has been possible to trace relatives of Aaron Alston but the sole survivor of the pair, Charles Aronson, has slipped from the grasp of historians.

The best hope we have of learning more about this Patient Zero of our Age of Antibiotics is - ironically enough - in those registration records complied by the Selective Service personnel and now held in the US government archives in St Louis.

So in the end, in a surprisingly satisfying way - both stories (Draft and Penicillin) come together to a happy conclusion...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Henry Dawson DIDN'T discover penicillin , but after penicillin endured underemployment for 12 years , he did give it its first real job : lifesaving

There are always tons of people who claim to have "discovered" this or that movie star, after the fact, but only a handful who actually gave them their first part way back when.

As Scottish Christians are wont to say : there is a huge difference between all those who just talk the talk and the very few that actually walk the walk.

They should know.

Because when it came to giving penicillin a real job (saving lives) old scotsman Alexander Fleming only talked the talk - it was new scotsman Henry Dawson who actually walked the walk : October 16th 1940...

Henry Dawson's Social Medicine vs The Holocaust

Sometimes anonymous online commentators glibly refer to Canada's Medicare (a system of taxpayer-supported medical care for all) as a holocaust.

It has plenty of problems but it is not a holocaust - in particular it is not The Holocaust.

That because Social Medicine , to use that term in its 1930s popular political sense rather than in today's restricted academic sense , was in fact the very antithesis of all the medical holocausts that WWII threw up.

The Holocaust , the Hunger Plan , Aktion T4 and certain German and Japanese medical experiments are merely the most infamous of those moral disasters.

Canadian Medicare is a good 21st century example of 1930s Social Medicine.

In theory (and hopefully in practise too) it says that a guilty war criminal with a life threatening infection is triaged to greater and earlier medical care than his innocent victim who has a broken finger - though both will be treated as promptly as we can , to the best extent we can.

Regardless whether or not that they can pay , regardless of whether they are criminal , regardless of whether they brought the illness upon themselves, regardless of their future economic contribution (or burden) to society.

It says all life has an intrinsic absolute right to life and the best health humanly possible and -crucially - it says this right is not contingent but is permanent.

All other medicines can also value any individual life as highly as Social Medicine does but when circumstances change against their own criteria, they are then inclined to view that same life as a 'life unworthy of life-saving medical care'.

Medicine for Profit has no inherent bias against any sexual orientation, race, gender, social class etc : their skin color may vary but the color of their money remains the same.

But if an injury causes someone to lose work and to be no longer able to afford medical care that could get them back to work , Medicine for Profit no longer want to treat them.

At a turn of a dime, an individual goes from "most favoured nation 1A" to "4F outlaw state".

Even in wartime, Medicine for Profit will continue to give the best possible care to people who can't or won't contribute anything to the war effort, - regardless of their race or gender - as long as they can pay handsomely.

But uniquely during wartime , War Medicine emerges and it is equally unbiased as Medicine for Profit seemingly is.

It is willing to give the best possible medical care - free or cheaply - as long as the person will be, after treatment , able to return to combat or can continue to provide a scarce skill vital to the war effort.

But if in wartime, one is both too poor and too permanently disabled to continue to do vital war work, one falls between two harsh cracks and becomes the 4Fs of the 4Fs, now becomes a life judged 'life unworthy of life-saving medicine'.

Dr (Martin) Henry Dawson successfully cured many such 4Fs of the 4Fs, public ward SBE patients regarded as having an invariably fatal disease , despite the wish of the Anglo American medical establishment that they be quietly Slow Coded to death.

They were to be denied the only medicine that could save them - penicillin - and instead deliberately given medical treatments that had always proven useless to stop their disease.

They were passively put to death because they judged - morally - as having no permanent inherent instrinsic value - only one contingent on their continuing to have lots of money or lots of health and scarce skills.

Others were actively put to death during wartime in America to aid the war effort.

Poor , confined, powerless people , 4Fs of the 4Fs, who were manipulated into contracting a potentially fatal disease that the scientists experimenting on them sometimes then proved unable to cure, despite their best medical efforts.

Prisoners, GIs, orphans, people in mental institutions or poorhouses, blacks, aboriginals, the rural poor and uneducated in foreign lands.

All varieties of the powerless, with families unlike to bite back effectively even when they awoke to what was happening to their relatives.

These poor subjects - not patients , because they did not start out with the disease that the experimenters were examining - were reduced to mere tools - on the moral level of the 100 million animals we kill annually for medical science or the countless disposable hand wipes we throw into the landfill.

All this Anglo American wartime abuse of inherently worthy life is a long way from today's Canadian Medicare.

But what it is morally very close to is the sort of values the Allies claimed they were willing to die to defeat - the medical values of Hitler and Tojo ....

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why are humans never 'sacrificed' to find a cure for monkey diseases ?

The Collectivist Fallacy that some monkey primates must die painful deaths so that other (human) primates might live free from disease because all primates form one big 'moral community' simply doesn't wash.

Yes monkeys are close to humans biologically but we still treat them - morally - as equal to the rocks we grind up without remorse to make concrete.

As instruments created merely to serve us human primates.

A Christian notion --- but spouted mostly by atheists ( for it is a fact the vast percentage of experimental scientists today are not just indifferent to religion but avidly atheist !).

Young grandson soldiers sacrifice themselves to save their granddads just as those granddads when young would do the same to save others. To that extent we humans do form one big moral community.

But no humans are ever killed in experiments to find a cure for monkey diseases - and if killing monkeys does result in finding a cure for a disease that afflicts both us and monkeys we do not then give that cure to sick monkeys - only sick humans.

Wartime allows medical experimenters greater opportunities to drop the monkey primate research and try their experiments on human primates instead and a lot of doctors and scientists can't get started quick enough - and not just in Axis Japan and Germany either ...

Utilitarianism's "War Medicine" and its "Collectivist Fallacy"

Just a beginning note on a big big subject:

WWII's proponents of 'War Medicine', citing their utilitarian philosophy of 'the greatest good for the greatest number' forced some humans to undergo horrific and even fatal medical experiments and also refused to give some other humans the medicine needed to keep them alive.

Their moral claim for doing all this horrific stuff was that these relatively few people would only endure short term (fatal) pain while the vast body of humanity would benefit from this painfully necessary research , now and into the future.

Unstated in all this was their rhetorical claim that their overall medical vision was a collectivist one, where some would willingly give their lives for the medical good, like fit young soldiers, so that their grandfathers, mothers and little baby brothers would go on living.

But in fact the people behind War Medicine oppose peacetime's collectivist Social Medicine with all their individualist, libertarian, heart and breath.

Social Medicine's vision  was truly collectivist - it said wealthy people should be taxed so that no human, no matter how poor, would be denied lifesaving medical care.

But War Medicine proponents - to a man - felt that individually one should only get the medicine one could pay for - case of every individual for themselves.

But against this was their 'collectivist' vision for War Medicine that included injecting metallic plutonium into sick people - without telling them why - so we could learn the effects of internal radiation and heavy metal poisoning from metallic plutonium and how to reduce its dire effects.

But - a tremendously BIG but - these sick civilians did not and would not ever benefit from suffering this horrific treatment.

They would never even come into contact with metallic plutonium in their daily lives - not even during an atomic attack.

The only people who would benefit from this horrific research were the fit young doctors and scientists who ordered up these horrible experiments.

They were all fit and young enough to be real gun-toting soldiers , but who were living safe at home during a war andfearful lest they ingested any of the plutonium they were experimenting with as part of the Manhattan Project.

In this revised scenario we see grandfather and baby brother dying horrible deaths ---- all to keep young healthy soldier boy away from harm.

That has to be the sick sick sickest version of how war sacrifice normally plays out - in the long history of the abusive use of American medicine , this shameful episode has to be the moral low point ....

Snot, vomit , excrement, spit , semen : physical monsters vs moral monsters

We've all seen enough films and TV to be wrongly confident of what a typical lifelong serial contract killer looks like.

They are ultra normal looking .

Even good looking.

Oh so symmetrical in features and body shape, modest in speech, polite, neat , always tipping the waitress well, always picking up a fluffy animal 'for the daughter' on these infrequent way-from-home business trips.

But their quick, clean, cold hits include a lady doctor who advises on abortions, an investigative journalist and a small time drug dealer who ran short on his returns to his supplier, Mr Big.

They are , in a word, a moral monster : with our fascination for them entirely wrapped around how such seemingly normal people can be so evil.

Now physical monsters are not merely scaled up ten feet tall versions of Ms Right, the serial killer, a monster who can now kill with her bare hands instead of with a high powered sniper rifle.

Instead these monsters are always disgusting and repulsive , as well as being cold blooded determined to kill on sight.

Why ?

Tall and powerful these monsters might be but the very opposite of handsome --- an asymmetrical body shape is always a given with them.

And the edges of that misshaped body are not neat and tidy and sweet smelling - oh no, never.

Instead a ten foot tall blob of evil jelly-like snot - albeit a big piece of snot with huge arms with razors for fingers.

Or a rancid ten foot tall used condom ...with huge arms topped by razors.

Maybe a ten foot tall blob of foul smelling vomit ..with long arms ending in razors.

A ten foot tall mouth ,who kills by projecting a lethal, foul-smelling and tasting spit from that huge misshaped mouths onto our faces.

A really disgusting ten foot tall feces, again with huge arms lanced with murderous razors.

Or - to neatly segue into the theme of this blog - a ten foot tall slippery , slimy smelly basement fungal mold ( penicillin-producing penicillium anyone ?) ...with long arms topped with murderous razor blade hands.

One can't help but note that physical (or old fashioned) book, movie and TV monsters all seem connected in some way to the body functions that entail slippery excretions .

Urine is noticeably absent from this list - it is a clearly liquid body excretion - but these others are in the littoral zone between dry solid solids and wet fluid liquids - not being one or the either but dynamically being a sticky slimy bit of both.

Our body excretions cross boundaries we very much like to keep distinct - not just across the boundary between our bowels and the toilet bowl , but the that all important mental and emotional barrier between the solid/fixed and the wet/fluid.

In other words, we'd still fear these physical slime monsters ---- even if they did not try to kill us....