Monday, December 31, 2012

The re-invention of a military-only antiseptic into "bedside penicillin for all" creates a global beacon of hope for a world at war

the tiny stone the builders rejected
Despite the self-centred claims of physicists, the greatest benefits to humanity have generally been ardently pursued (invented), not accidentally stumbled upon (discovered).

DNA was discovered in 1860s by an Swiss doctor, but for most of us, it was really only discovered 125 years later in the late 1980s.

That was when it began to first be successfully used to solve unsolved criminal cases, when British researcher Alec Jeffries re-invented 'DNA' as a means to definitely identify biological evidence left at the scene of a crime.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

1939-1945 : the modern Allies's real opponent was not Berlin anti-modernity but Manhattan ante-modernity ...

Conventionally , the Nazis were said to be anti-modern, though many of us feel they were the ultimate in hyper-modernity.

No, we think modernity in 1945 was defeated by ante- (or post-) modernity, of the Manhattan variety.

Henry Dawson, where ever you might be, take a bow .....

Even during Total War, its "who you know" not "what you know" : Richards, Queen and penicillin

Penicillin was not "reserved for military use only during WWII", as the cosy myth about wartime penicillin claims.

It was instead reserved as a plaything for medical researchers who would have quite happily have gone on polishing perfection until Judgement Day, if left to their own devices.

Consider how the American military finally got a look-see into penicillin, in early 1943 (remember the shooting war began back in the Fall of 1939).

Friday, December 28, 2012

Penicillin : from Modern to ante-Modern in six bloody years

The biggest battle of WWII was NOT Stalingrad ( physically huge but intellectually a mere bun fight between History's worst dictators) but rather the battle over wartime penicillin : who makes it and who receives it.

For WWII definitely had a 'war within a war' aspect to it .

Thursday, December 27, 2012

America sure loves its minutemen and riflemen - except during wartime

MOS 745 (circa 1780)
Do you accept - or do you deny - gun control and climate change?

Do you think that wartime penicillin should just be for healthy young  scallywags who cheat on their wives but are still fully combat-ready or do you think it should be "wasted" on the dying of all nations, races and creeds ?

Some things never change and the skygods and earthlings still mix it up to oppose each other as much today on gun control and climate change as they did back almost 75 years ago on the best uses for wartime penicillin.

Very last files UK National Archives plans to digitalize : FO 370/926, futile appeals from abroad for British penicillin

The very last files that the UK National Archives plans to digitalize and put on line won't be the ultra-secret Ultra files . Trust me : Ultra was a success.

No the very last files, if ever, to be digitalized and put on line will be the series FO (Foreign Office) 370/926 : requests from aboard , 1944-1945, for that wonderful British invention , penicillin.

That's because what should have been the greatest success for the UK in WWII turned out to be their worst total balls-up disaster.

Did Atlee - or PENICILLIN - defeat Churchill in July 1945 ?

In retrospective, the shock defeat of Winston Churchill's National Government in the General Election of July 1945 could have been foreseen in the Fall of 1944.

All that Fall, a long series of indignant Parliamentary questions were raised - and un-comforting answers were given - about the national government's refusal to find penicillin for UK civilians dying of endocarditis while Britain found the means to supply the same medicine to "Germans, Finnish Prime Ministers and Swiss footballers".

Germany and Finland were in the Axis and most Britons saw Switzerland as at least a fellow traveller.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

For a medicine Modernity reserved for the military, penicillin sure missed a lot of battles ...

The USSR had at least 3 million life-threatening cases of bacterial infection between August 1940 and August 1945 that penicillin could have successfully treated.

It is not well known that Russia did make it its own penicillin and did treat some serious infections with it and saved some lives as a result during those five war years.

Sort of.

Soviet doctors treated 300 cases with their penicillin over those five years : out of at least 3 million life-threatening cases.

Not surprisingly, the Miracle of Penicillin does not loom highly in Russian historical accounts of the Great Patriotic War.

This too might easily have been the fate of wartime penicillin in the Allied West as well.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The war began with Modern penicillin and ended with Postmodern penicillin

The war began with Modern penicillin and ended - quite unexpectedly - with Postmodern penicillin.

Began with micro-grams of Modern penicillin and ended, quite unexpectedly, with kilo-tonnes of Postmodern penicillin.

In fact we began WWII itself with Modernity at its very apogee and ended it - also quite unexpectedly - with the birth pangs of Postmodernity.

And penicillin was at the very heart of that fundamental change in world views.

Friday, December 21, 2012

During the Ultimate Battle against the Nazi Evil, most of the world spent it parked in NEUTRAL

Only one nation group ( the British Commonwealth) was an combatant during the entire six years of WWII (September 1939 to September 1945) : even the original aggressor, Germany, ceased to be a combatant with its surrender early in 1945.

Every other nation on Earth - bar none - was neutral in the battle against Hitler and the Nazi Evil : for some, most or all of World War Two.

The sad fact is that most of the world's independent nations 'dog-danced' around the greatest moral crisis Humanity has ever faced.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fleming vs Wright 1929: local surgeon vs general immunologist ?

It is not generally accepted that Alexander Fleming actually did fight hard with his nominal boss, Sir Almroth Wright, to ensure the inclusion of a brief paragraph in his 1929 article that introduced penicillin to the world - the one that said it might have antiseptic applications.

Many researchers are skeptical about the idea of an undocumented fight.

They fear Fleming and his supporters are merely using it as an excuse to shift the blame onto Wright for Fleming's 15 year failure to put the world's best ever germ killer to work saving lives.

I do think there was a fight and that the disagreement , in a sense, flatters Wright and diminishes a part of Fleming's current reputation (though I haste to add , Fleming himself never ever fostered this part of his reputation.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Alexander Fleming : surgeon manque ?

It is not well known that Alexander Fleming the bacteriologist actually trained to be a surgeon but never practised and apparently didn't mind the missed opportunity.

Or did he ?

I think he did, in fact, long to use a surgeon's lancet - albeit on a tiny/micro scale.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Penicillin, age 13, meets her first lover : Henry Dawson

Mad, is he ??
It was frequently said of Dr Henry Dawson (as it was of General James Wolfe) that he was quite mad.

But what can one say in response, that George II hasn't already said much better over two hundred and fifty years earlier ?

It is true that Henry Dawson was quite mad , mad on the subject of the "unlimited potential" of penicillin , at a time (1941) when almost all ignored it and even its own 'supporters' damned it with veiled praise.

Fleming's non-toxic antiseptic was useless (and was called penicillin)

Toxic - but effective - antiseptic
An extremely non-toxic ,wide-spectrum (for its time)  germ-killer that can be used as a huge-dose, long term, systemic (ie something we safely introduce into the bloodstream), is a very rare indeed.

And highly valuable, even priceless, whenever our body faces massive body-wide infections that can kill us.

By contrast, what Alexander Fleming claimed to offer between the Fall of 1928 and the Fall of 1942, was a slow acting, non-toxic, wide-spectrum antiseptic (externally applied) germ-killer that was in very short supply and very unstable.

Was there a Parran-Hearst Telegram ? (You provide the penicillin, I'll provide the pictures)

"Operator, get me Washington, tell 'em I'm from Hearst..."
There is no firm evidence that Citizen Hearst ever sent that infamous telegram to the famous war artist Frederic Remington in Cuba.

We all know which telegram:  the one where Remington is sent out to illustrate the ongoing civil war in Cuba, but finds all is quiet and begs to go home.

Hearst supposedly telegraphs him to stay : "(If) you furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war."

Politics as the authoritative "prioritizing" of values

A Canadian (but not Canada) morally defines wartime penicillin
There is a broad academic consensus as to the best way to differentiate political bargaining from economic bargaining.

That consensus says that "prices" are used to come to an informal economic agreement as to the allocating of scarce resources between alternative uses.

But politics authoritatively allocates (rations/triages) scarce resources between alternative uses.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The FAILURE of fiat during Total War

I insist that the truism that all politics is about the authoritative allocation of scarce resources is never less true than during Total War.

My claim is that this paradox is true because the successful waging of Total War is not really about gathering enough scarce physical resources but rather more about rallying all the possible psychic resources that your nation's citizenry possesses.

The demands of Total War are never ending and even the relatively simple task of commanding by fiat of 110% of all possible physical resources is never enough.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Raymond Chandler biographers' alert : his entire war records posted online

Sgt Ray Chandler, SIR !!
Perhaps a fan of Raymond Chandler at the Public Archives of Canada, exasperated beyond measure by all the bosh written by Chandler biographers about his war record in the Canadian Army in WWI, has decided to set the record straight by posting all his military records online, free for the downloading.

Since "1940s Chivalry" (what an oxymoron !) is the most important meme in my book de-bunking the current myth of wartime penicillin, I am deeply interested myself in Chandler's WWI experiences in the Canadian infantry.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Well-intentioned PhD supervisors are the death of good History writing : particularly in writing about wartime penicillin

Many a well-intentioned PhD supervisor, hoping to help their student across the mine-field of a PhD thesis which casts its net too widely, steers the student to a subject that has an existing treasure trove of unexamined (or under-examined) archival material.

But taken too far, this attitude kills good history stone dead.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Illinois credits CORN liquor, Wisconsin DAIRY sugar for success of wartime penicillin

Call me cynical, but if Florey had been steered to the University of  Wisconsin in Madison in 1941 instead of to the USDA lab in Peoria , we might have gotten wartime penicillin in serious production a whole lot quicker.

Albeit with only one (ahem) drawback: we'd all be deaf hearing  how it was the addition of lactose than finally made penicillin production commercially viable - and hear virtually nothing about the addition of corn steep liquor to the happy mix !

ROP on this penicillin milch cow is beyond astounding : and it is all down to lactose intolerance !

Ironic isn't it ? Hundreds of millions of people have enjoyed longer lives thanks to the lactose intolerance of some slimy little mold.

Between Wartime Penicillin's initial failure ( Chemistry) and its final success (Biology) stood a third party : the humanitarians

When I call Henry Dawson "Penicillin's Third Man", I am being more than ordinarily facetious.

Penicilin's problem was chemistry-besotted biologists, the solution was  biologically-pragmatic chemists and the connecting threat were a tiny group of humanitarian-minded clinicians.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

For the middle class of the Modernist Age, being double-dipped for their daily bread was a honor not a curse : hence their horror of hospital-made penicillin

Hard to believe that our grandparents were glad to be first soaked by milling corporations for the firms' processing away of life-giving vitamins from their flour and bread and then soaked a second time when the millers' added expensive man-made processed vitamins back in again.

It was called "Progress" and it was good.

To a hammer, everything is a nail - to a thermometer everything is fever: but was penicillin fever BAD ??

Fever is closely associated with virtually any and every kind of illness - but does it make the disease worse or is it one of its cures ?

Dawson,Humphrey & Chisholm : the three Canadians who helped formulate the final Allied 'war aims'

Dawson, Humphrey & Chisholm sounds like - to Atlantic Canadians of a certain age - more like a small town firm of accountants or insurance agents than a trio of 1940s Canadians who changed the world as we know it very much for the better.

George Redmayne Murray : moral predecessor to Dawson,Duhig & Pulvertaft's penicillin efforts

moral predecessor to Henry Dawson
Dr George Redmayne Murray is no longer a name that trips off the lips of scientists and doctors, but he still has moral lessons to teach us today.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

WWII : penicillin as punishment for self-inflicted wounds - or for saving lives ?

In WWII, they used PENICILLIN , instead....
Dr Howard Florey's deep and sharp (fundamental) differences with Dr Henry Dawson on the appropriate application of wartime penicillin were not over matters narrowly "scientific" or "medical" but rather were differences in philosophy and ethics.

Friday, December 7, 2012

HMS Birkenhead & HMS Nova Scotia: connecting the highs & lows of human behaviour to Star Wars

frequent visitor to Halifax Nova Scotia ends up the victim of Allied brutality
Two British troopships, sunk a century apart, on opposite sides of South Africa, probe the very heights and depths of human morality.

The battle over wartime penicillin, EUGENICALLY speaking : who makes it and who gets it ?

Eugenics dominated ALLIED war aims
Wartime America was consumed by "popular-eugenic" emotions, (as was the rest of the world of the early 1940s.)

These emotions lay just below conscious thought, but were often behind conscious deed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dawson jumps the gun on Meyer's penicillin project

Henry Dawson does not deserve the credit he always gets for starting the wartime penicillin project at Columbia University.

(Honoured for taking control of it and making it into something to be universally and eternally admired, is a different story.)

Karl Meyer started it up - pure and simple. And as it happens, purity and simplicity were also the goals of his penicillin project.

Did Phillips Thygeson fumble Penicillin in 1940?

Of course he did - but he was hardly alone.

Between 1930 and 1940 a series of unbroken successes with semi-purified penicillin in the treatment of very serious eye infections were unreported by the eye doctors who performed them.

If these striking successes with serious eye infections had been reported, penicillin would have gone into commercial production before the war and saved millions of lives world wide.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Penicillin : both its mold and its morals seem to hang out in basements and sewers

Rollo Martins the Canadian naif to Harry Lime's evil...
When I started looking into wartime penicillin, back in late 2004, I quickly felt like that other Canadian , Rollo Martins, learning far more about the immoral underbelly of  the official - and sunny - penicillin story than either of us wanted to know.

Was Alexander Fleming a coward ?

FLEMING avoided this ....
Hard to say --  but he definitely didn't have a chivalrous bone in his body.  And twice - while still a young man - when given a chance to be brave,  he fearlessly declined.

Scots wha hae wartime penicillin : chase Fleming's synthetic chimera or save lives with Dawson's shovel-ready ?

Dawson vs Fleming decided wartime PENICILLIN 
The battle over the direction of wartime penicillin can be presented, semi-accurately, as a showdown between two Scots with widely different concepts of the continuing value of chivalry in a Modernist Age.

1942's key question : not can penicillin save lives but can SULFA still save lives ...

wartime PENICILLIN's unlikely saviour
Popular and academic historians alike continue to treat the histories of wartime penicillin and wartime sulfa as if they existed on separate universes, when, in fact , they were fierce, close competitors.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Were Stalin's COMMIES the best at making crude penicillin ? Say it ain't so, Joe !

Here is what Howard Florey, normally the most hostile critic of crude penicillin, found in his analysis of the crude Russian penicillin liquids in early 1944: 30 to 40 Oxford units per cc/ml.

Amazing !

The Allied governments and Henry Dawson had a serious disagreement on the Allied war aims : but I happen to think that Dawson won the argument...

Superficially ,WWII came down to a physical battle between a democracy that lynched Negroes in Georgia (America) and a dictatorship that hoped to lynch Jews in Georgia ( USSR).

 But really it was much more than that.

The bigger, more permanent, conflict was the battle for the hearts and minds of the whole world, fought between the eugenic forces of modernity and the commensality forces of an emerging post-modernity.

Like Germany, Howard Florey effortlessly won all the tactical battles, losing only the strategic war to Henry Dawson

Eugenics was on the side of the Big Battalions...
Howard Florey was a WWII chicken-hawk, so it little surprises that his chosen hobby-horse, Allied war medicine, was vigorously and publicly 'On the Side of the Big Battalions'.

That meant making a virtue of denying aid to dying 4Fs, to give it instead to healthy 1As.

 But as Hitler had earlier found out to his cost, this was not a position designed to win over the small battalions of the world's hearts and minds.

The Allied battle for the world's 'hearts and minds' : NS-born Henry Dawson's patient-penicillin vs OSRD war-penicillin

Army is - wrongly - blamed for her SBE death
The idea that successful American governments need first to win over the 'hearts and minds' of people, before they rush to impose their objectives by legal and military fiat is an old, old , old one.

Presidents John Adams used the phrase "hearts and mind" in this sense early in the 19th century, long before Presidents FDR, Kennedy and Johnson made it famous in the 20th century - and before recent presidents George W Bush and Obama dragged it out of the archives to use in this century.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Florey vs Dawson : penicillin to be perfect & a war medicine OR an imperfect but universal medicine ?

patricia (Patty) Malone penicillin breakthrough september 1943
Baby Patty Malone helped the whole world discover penicillin 
As should be well known, penicillin-the-molecule and penicillin-the-lifesaver were discovered September 1943 by the whole world, (not in September 1928 by Alexander Fleming) while natural-penicillin-the-universal-livesaver was invented on October 16th 1940 by Henry Dawson.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The mercky history of pre-war synthetic B1 ... and synthetic penicillin

What if Merck had quickly synthesized penicillin early in 1939, when it first started looking at the substance ? Remember this was before Europe was at war - let alone America, so Merck's normal peacetime behavior would have applied.

Romney economics in other words - not for nothing was the owner George W Merck a part time company owner and a full time back room Republican activist.

His behavior around thiamine is instructive on how he would have acted with synthetic penicillin.

 Thiamine is also called vitamin B1 and it prevents beriberi-like disease (like pellagra) among poor people forced to eat mostly over-refined grains.

It is the same life-giving stuff that millers so carefully remove from flour and bread and rice.

But now they were willing to put back in again - in a synthetic form - but at a price high enough to ensure few of the Great Depression's hungry could actually afford its benefits.

An altruistic chemist named Robert R Williams had searched for and invented a cheap way to create thiamine in the lab - he had then given the  resulting patent to the non-profit Research Corporation and hoped to see it got to supplementing the poor diets of the poor - by going into flour and bread at no charge.

But Merck had partially funded his research so it to had a say in how it would be used and sold.

Williams , son of Baptist ministers and a telephone company scientist in his day job, had long hoped to end the many nutrition-related deaths he saw caused by modern milling practises that only gave empty calories.

He did his work, much of it, in his garage, using his wife's washing machine as a centrifuge --- but Merck had helped with money and testing equipment, as had Martin Henry Dawson's university, Columbia.

Aaron Bobrow-Srain, consulting Williams' diaries from that period (found in the archive of Williams' papers), discovered that Merck (and General Mills) wanted an exclusive license if they were to mass produce and use synthetic B1 in bread .

They would charge a premium price and thus ensure it would only go to the bread eaten by the well to do - who hardly needed diet supplements to prevent the diseases more found commonly among poor people like southern share-croppers !

It took the war and a government order for the price of B1 to drop so that all bread got its life-saving qualities.

During the war, Merck made lots of B1, but at less per unit profit, but with a much greater volume they didn't exactly starve --- so busy in fact that they hardly had any time to make public domain natural penicillin.

First synthesize penicillin , then perfect it and patent it  with hopes to make tons of money on it : that would  enough to get George W Merck excited .

Too bad that only the well-to-do dying from infections would be able to afford the resulting perfectly synthesized penicillin ...

World War Two as an "Auto Immune" disease ...

Two examples readily at hand can give an 21st century insight into the faith-based/man-oriented science of 20th century Modernity.

Gently nurturing of natural penicillium plants or brute force chemical synthesis : wartime penicillin definitely had "gender issues"

Recollect early wartime pictures of  clearly nubile young women holding milk bottles of live-giving penicillin to their chests.

Impure natural penicillin, atomic steam engines versus pure synthetic penicillin and atomic bombs

Was Howard Florey the Harold Urey of wartime penicillin - was Harold Urey the Howard Florey of  wartime atomic energy ?

Why urban solutions to rural problems delayed life-saving penicillin for 15 wasted years ...

It is a lie to say that natural penicillin is highly unstable or filled with deadly impurities. It is true however that Fleming's original strain of penicillium yielded so little penicillin that the resulting un-concentrated penicillin filtrate was too weak to cure a patient when given by IV, without literally 'watering' the patient to death in the process.

A philosopher could have brought us life-saving penicillin years earlier than ten thousand chemists did

The claim that the only solution to penicillin's tiny yield, instability and impurities was to synthesize it sounded so good back in the 1930s and early 1940s - to scientists.

Would penicillin have been available for patients in 1930, if Fleming had produced his '29 paper - and then died ?

If only pneumonia had killed Alec, not John....
Imagine - if you will - that you're at a medical meeting - one of hundreds and hundreds that Alexander Fleming routinely attended between the Fall of 1928 and the Fall of 1942 and you happen to overhear Fleming regaling a small audience in the corridor about his 'wonderful' penicillin.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Penicillin, "the" substance produced penicillium molds"

Penicillin was not doing anything useful throughout the 1930s ( like being injected into dying patients), but it was not exactly unknown in many areas of science : biochemistry, botany and mycology, general medicine, microbiology , pharmaceuticals.

I have sufficient articles and references from that time period to notice a very interesting pattern, I believe, in terminology.

"Goaty Penicillin" : how Big Science contaminated natural penicillin at least as much as it 'purified' it

GOATY penicillin
Is it actually a legal requirement that academic historians write peans to Van Bush, the OSRD and Big Science in World War II , before they get a sizeable grant ?

One might think so.

Dawson long been obsessed with SBE ? Show me ! 'Cause I'm from Missouri ...

Dawson & SBE ?! well I'm from MISSOURI
Even Gladys Hobby says so.

And God Knows, she should know almost better than anyone but Dawson himself.

Almost 15 years after Penicillin discovered, most of the world's serious penicillin cases had been treated by one doctor : Martin Henry Dawson

1943 Annual Report, Columbia University
In the Spring of 1943, Columbia University released its Annual Report and mentions , in passing, that Dr MH Dawson had supervised the treatment of 65 serious cases with penicillin for the National Research Council.

(Generally Columbia's lengthy wartime annual reports successfully managed to avoid talking about penicillin - a sure sign that it was ignored by academic science elsewhere as well throughout the war.)

If we can take "serious" to mean "treated systemically" , that probably means that the largest percentage of the world's systemic penicillin cases up to that point in time had been done by Dr Dawson alone !

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How Parke-Davis could have made a fortune in 1929 from the ultimate in generic drugs : natural penicillin

Parke-Davis, as seen from my folks' homes
A medication made by some natural being out in Nature is the 'ultimate generic drug'  ---- being PD (Public Domain) from its birth, which possibly occurred hundreds of millions of years before Humanity first noticed it.

Penicillin - in theory - is one such 'ultimate generic drug' , but was it in fact, in 1929 ?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Penicillin Diplomacy DOESN'T come to Franco's Spain

Falangist denied penicillin August '44
Allied post-1943 "Penicillin Diplomacy" was not exactly perfectly aligned with the humanitarian values of Dr Martin Henry Dawson.

He felt his fellow doctors and scientists should buck down and make lots of his "imperfect but good enough" natural penicillin and give it out freely to all who are dying of diseases it could treat.

Instead they were standing around, as at a railway siding outside Auschwitz with jack boots and whip , dividing seriously ill humanity into two lines : you live/ you die.

Penicillin Diplomacy comes to Cuba November 12 1943

Batista wooed by PENICILLIN
An American warplane flies south throughout the night in November 1943, all in an effort to deliver scarce American government penicillin to save the life of a small son of Cuban lawyer Angel Diaz Soto.

The effort is widely reported in all the semi-official American media such the New York Times, media that were read all around the world by government elites seeking to discern the attitudes of the largest member of the rising Allied powers of World War Two.

This particular tea leaf wasn't hard to read : penicillin was no longer to be a secret weapon of war, just for American soldiers ; but now was to be an instrument of peace , open to all the nations of the world willing to take up the yoke of defeating the evil Nazis.

HARRY LIME : from war hero to infamous cinematic villain

Just one of HARRY LIME's "dots"
(See note below added, Dec 4 2012)

It is easy to imagine our Harry (Lime) in July 1943, just back from Hamburg as an Allied bomber pilot dropping fire bombs on Axis children, mere "dots", thousands of feet below him : a war hero, in other words.

Just as easy as imagining our Harry in 1949 Vienna, still a member of an Allied nation and still killing Axis children, only this time with watered-down penicillin.

But something has clearly changed : because now he is regarded as a a villain, in fact one of cinema's all time worst villains.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meet the DOCTOR MOM who brought us wartime penicillin when it could do us some good, not 5 years after the war ended

Her name is Mary Louise (Pelliter Becker) Smith,  but she was much better know as Mrs Mae Smith or Mrs John L Smith.

Florey's first IMPURE penicillin injections were definitely forced upon him, as a PLAN B sop

When Howard Florey at Oxford University had decided in early 1938 that he would investigate the theoretical aspects of  antibiotic antagonisms, he said he would not inject them to test for their therapeutic possibilities until they were pure : crystalline pure.

Florey & Dawson's argument over wartime penicillin : Analogue or Parable?

Sharp eyed grammar experts will quickly argue that there is no real difference between analogue and parable :  they are both forms of analogy and denote the same basic things. But even they will admit, their connotations are quite different.

When it comes to drugs like penicillin, an analogue (aka the so called "me too" drugs) are knockoffs of another drug, often one produced by nature and hence in the public domain. They differ just enough from the original to be deemed patentable : profitably patentable. All easily understood.

But penicillin as a parable - like Jesus's parables, for Christ's Sake ! - how on Earth is that possible ?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wartime penicillin : patient-oriented or patent-oriented ?

MH Dawson
Martin Henry Dawson was Systemic Penicillin's earliest and biggest true believer. He ardently and publicly advocated producing 'second rate' penicillin for 'second rate' patients.

He didn't want to wait till systemic penicillin had been perfected, purified, synthesized, analyzed, patented, censored and marketed. Dr Dawson didn't want to wait till the war was long over before lives - on the battlefield and off - could start being saved. His only invention was moral : giving up his own life to fight for  patient-oriented, humanitarian, wartime penicillin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Dawson Does a Banting" : the impolite Canadian doctors who fought , and I do mean FOUGHT, to bring us life-saving penicillin and insulin

Canadians have a reputation for being excessive polite and for not being aggressive , pushing, forward, loud and emotional.

And the other hand.

There is the old joke about "going to a peaceful American boxing match and suddenly a Canadian hockey game broke out...."

Duncan BC's forgotten wartime PENICILLIN pioneer, Donald MacRae

Duncan's Donald MacRae
The June 29th 1945 issue of the Canadian Army wartime newspaper, The Maple Leaf, records a Vancouver interview with a medic , Private Donald MacRae of Duncan BC , recounting his 1943 Italian experience making battlefield penicillin and saving lives.

It was just something humanitarians of all nations were required to do, in the decade and a half before Big Pharma was forced by Doctor Mom to finally start making commercial penicillin.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

By 1945, Martin Henry Dawson's 1940 war aim had become OUR war aim too

Baby, dank Harry Lime, werden nicht neeeding Teddy

In September 1940 , at the height of the Battle of Britain, war hero Martin Henry Dawson decided against rejoining the Canadian Army to help fight Hitler.

He would fight Hitler instead by saving the lives of the very people that Hitler (and a lot of Dawson's medical colleagues) judged to be "lives unworthy of life" --- particularly in wartime.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

For Howard Florey's mausoleum of an institute, penicillin's therapeutic value was incidental to putting paying bums on seats

Howard Florey's discovery that impure natural penicillin could cure experimentally induced infections in mice was incidental to his number one concern : getting enough paying guests in his mausoleum of an institute, to pay its annual heating bills.

How doctors rationalize "uncomfortable" successes : natural penicillin and others

Vaccines, Salvarsan, natural penicillin
Obviously, injecting live germs into someone's bloodstream can be potentially very dangerous.

Medicine's all dominant "anthropocentricity", before the unexpected triumph of NATURAL penicillin

The world's best loved, most important medication lay "hidden in plain sight" for 15 wasted years because of medicine's unconscious anthropocentric biases.

Only when Dr Martin Henry Dawson came upon slime-produced penicillin fresh from his explorations of "The Triumphs of the Weak" among oral commensal Strep bacteria, did a doctor see no problems of using impure natural products of a weak species (fungus) in the blood stream of that most superior species known as (Man).

Friday, November 16, 2012

1945 : it was the best of times and the worst of times for the Modern Age

In 1945, the Allied forces of Modernity were celebrated by contemporary (1945) academic opinion for turning back the anti modern efforts of the Nazis and the Axis.

But today's academic opinion also credits 1945 as the beginning of the new  Post Modern Age ( in effect signalling the start of the decline of Modernity.)

Seventy Five years later, has Death and Il-Health finally allowed a post-Modernist look at WWII to receive a fair hearing ?

Does Hamburg '43 still sizzle ?
All the grownup men who made the decisions to send tens of thousands of teenage boys off to die on German city bombing runs have long since gone to their rewards.

For Alexander Fleming's business firm, discovery of penicillin was incidental, as well as accidental

Penicillin the life-saving antibiotic ( Penicillin-the-systemic) was more of a threat than an opportunity to Alexander Fleming's main activity, which was making money from dodgy vaccines not making new science , which is why he always preferred to promote penicillin (weakly) as an antiseptic and (strongly) as an aid to vaccine production.

Martin Henry Dawson vs the American Red Cross 1940 on mixing blood of blacks , whites and slime

Heroes ????
The American Red Cross began WWII on the side of Hitler, banning the mixing of Negro blood with that of the pure white (Ayran) race when it came to blood transfusions, just as Hitler also opposed the mixing of Jewish and Ayran blood in German blood transfusions.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Skygods vs Earthlings: a post-Modernist history of WWII

Modernity finally gets its own WAR

The historians of 75 years ago could only see the things that made the leading warring nations different but with the passage of time and today's new era, younger historians are beginning to see the thing that all the leading warring nations held in common: Modernity.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

School Days Over, come on then Pen

School Days Over, Come on Then PEN
In September 1940 , Penicillin was just over 12 years old and yet had never gone to real work. Henry Dawson thought that real work for Pen was very much overdue, and well, it was probably Ewan MacColl who sang it best in one of his Radio Ballads :

"Time you were putting your work boots on, it's time to go, time you were working down below; Time you  were on your way, time you were learning a lifesaver's job and earning a lifesaver's pay..."

The MORAL invention of impure-systemic antibiotics by Martin Henry Dawson

When asked, in strictest confidence by a worried Howard Florey, "what's this guy Dawson really like ?" , establishment bacteriologist Stanhope Bayne-Jones said  'he is honest - but much too enthusiastic at times'.

Monday, November 12, 2012

1940 : Henry Dawson invents antibiotics - without ever quite realizing it !

Dr Martin Henry Dawson knew (from the published medical literature of Alexander Fleming) he was not the first person to treat a person clinically with penicillin, so he modestly limited himself to saying only that he was the first person in America to do so.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

PRODUCTION scientists pro Romney and Denial ; IMPACT scientists pro Obama and climate change reality ?

undergrad scientists DENY climate change, vote Romney
The latest Washington Post/ABC TV poll has a few figures you probably hadn't seen in this polled-to-death election season : the difference in GOP/DEMOCRAT support between people with undergraduate and post graduate degrees : undergrads pro Romney, post-grads pro Obama.

Watching the Deniers lose the election over Climate Change is Grim : Ryan Grim, the blogger who brought them down

KOCH BROS suffer a GRIM fate
Out here in rural Nova Scotia, people have a particularly vivid way of saying their chances are toast : they are "screwed : screwed and bored". That is what the feckless Democrats and Obama would have been, if not for a relatively obscure blogger named Ryan Grim.

VWB : "Voting While Black" : the WHITE PROTESTANT drive to steal elections they can no longer win legally

The 2012 election in America was probably decided a few years ago, well before this year's $6 billion in ads and hoopla, when Republicans looked at new demographic figures and decided that the long-assured White Protestant voting majority, a fact for over 400 years, was toast.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

War as Entropy : its permanent costs

Pure - useless - ENTROPY
"Think about Germany and Japan : smashed to pieces in the last war, but look at them now." "So, no real - permanent - harm in a little war now and then is there ?" " Boys must be boys, etc."
(Sample conversations of conventional economists their cups.)

Artillery Shells : Entropy for Economists

Politically and economically, entropy simply means that today's concentrated, useful, work-able, matter and energy invariably  becomes tomorrow's "useless-to-humans because too-finely dispersed" matter and energy. All we can hope to do, is slow the process as best we can.

Is Earth gaining or losing MASS and why this matters...

Herman Daly "GETS IT"
The vast majority of economists are in fact 'psychic' economists only, and they  greatly resent attempts of rebel economists like Herman Daly to re-establish their discipline on a physical basis.

Monday, October 29, 2012

99% of the world tacitly agrees with Italian "earthquake" court : no such thing as a natural disaster, only human negligence...

MODERNITY sentences scientists
It should be, by far, the biggest news story this year - in fact, one I feel sure historians will be referencing two centuries from now, when they try to assist citizens of the future to understand the 'spirit of the age' of this still very modernist early 21st century.

Globe and Mail : will the Commercial paywall become merely a Conservative echo chamber ?

Hoisted on his own Petard !
Ironic, ain't it ? Most of the world's loudest & most bombastic right wing newspapers have totally disappeared from public view --- behind a commercially-oriented paywall --- reducing their public influence to zero. This certainly wasn't their original intention (money,money,money was their intent) - but this situation is the totally unexpected results.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The GREAT DISCONNECT : our 200 year old party ideologies vs today's Science

Today's parties are as old as her !!
It might surprise many but all of our governing party ideologies - ALL of them - are as old as Queen Victoria.

As Brits reel from Jimmy Savile coverup scandal, Nova Scotians yawn : been there, done that, got the semen-stained T-shirt to prove it ....

Jimmy Savile "NOT GUILTY" ??
If you are a very powerful figure, someone who dines with the Queen and Prime Ministers, you can safely "interfere" with teenage girls for decades and decades and everyone in a position to do something about it will decide, on sober second thoughts ---- to do nothing at all about it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"DENIER science" aims for the stars : but sometimes hits London instead...

To Stars..or LONDON
A whole lot of Denier-Watchers themselves deny that DENIERS even have have "a science" - mostly because they insist that deniers deny and disbelieve the basic tenets of "Science".

Monday, October 8, 2012

Extreme optimism leads , inevitably, to extreme Paranoia : it sounds counterintuitive but its true

Optimistic Paranoia
If you think reality and the Natural World is far too simple and far too benign to pose much of a threat to Modern Man and you have lost your belief in the possibility of Divine (or Devilish) Acts of Providential Intervention, how do you account for why even simple things can go wrong with no obvious signs of intervention ?

Romney, calling little children "takers not makers" and "part of the 47% , says NO to Nickelodeon

Kids are "TAKERS, not makers"
Taking an axe to Big Bird on live nationwide TV, saying no to the traditional presidential candidate visit to Nickelodeon TV's "Kids Pick the President" special ---- Mitt Romney sure knows how to erase that huge, crucial, gender deficit he has with young "waitress moms" and their children doesn't he ?