Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Janus Manhattan's Children : Dad's Bomb or Mom's Medicine ?

I think of  "Janus Manhattan's Children"  as a sort of women's book that should be read, first and foremost, by men --- because women generally, 'already get it'.
It attempts to explain why today's boomer children - today's dominant voting bloc and who make up most  of today's most wealthy and powerful people, are so conflicted over the sixth extinction and dire climate change.

Naturally, it puts the entire blame for their conflicted nature on a conflict their moms and dads had years earlier, just after WWII ended.

Seriously !

NEWSEUM and USA TODAY WEEKEND pointed the way

The book took its shape when I learned the fascinating gender-oriented results of an end of century mass poll of Americans on the most important news stories of the 20th century, as conducted by USA TODAY Weekend and the Newseum in 1999.

Men - as poll responders, as panels of historians and as panels of journalists - all thought wartime Manhattan's Atomic Bomb Project was clearly the biggest story.

But the women poll responders thought decidedly differently : seeing wartime Manhattan's Natural Penicillin Project as the biggest story of the century.

Now it is well known that most writers of books are men  but that most readers of books are women.

Naturally, I saw a big disconnect here in the amount of published book space devoted to the wartime drama of The Bomb versus the drama of Wartime Penicillin and quietly resolved to fix it ....

Janus Manhattan's Children : conflicted children of Futurama '65 & Woodstock '69

It is easy to imagine that today's Boomers who still deny climate change and the sixth extinction (big shout out to most of the staff at Fox News !) going back, over and over, to enjoy the synthetic autarky fantasies of Futurama II at Flushing Meadows's worlds fair in its final summer of 1965.

Just as easy as it is to see today's Boomer Earth-friendly activists 'going back to the garden' (or wishing they could have) at Woodstock's world fair less than four years later.

Just as it is equally possible to imagine some conflicted Boomers attending both and loving both....

Less than 4 years separate the world's fairs at Flushing Meadows and Woodstock ...

If 1965's world's fair at Flushing Meadows NY was everything the 1940 New York's World's Fair's "World of Tomorrow" had predicted, the same could hardly be said for the world's fair at Woodstock held less than four years later.

For its design style was far less Robert Moses and far more Scott Nearing.

So much so in fact that we are forced to ask just what on earth in 1940 could ever be said to have predicted Woodstock and the rise of a counterculture so diametrically opposed to everything that the 1965 World Fair had on offer ?


First let us look at the scientific and cultural ethos of the 1940 World's Fair (The World of Tomorrow).

In a word, it was Reductionism : uniformitarian reductionism and synthetic autarky.

It believed that the predictable simple motions of the small (atoms) totally explained the predictable Big and complex.

 So with only 'too cheap to meter' atomic energy and a pile of rocks, Man could confidently expect to readily replicate everything Mother Nature had to offer - only better - negating any further need for Nature - or even Earth itself.

We could hope to abandon the fecund green Earth in the near future, to live in a more advanced civilization under domes on sterile grey rock of planet Mars.


By contrast, in that same year, a scientist at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre, Dr Martin Henry Dawson, set about exalting the smallest and the weakest over the biggest and the strongest.

Using a medical miracle created by some of life's smallest and most humble beings, Dawson deliberately gave History's first ever antibiotic shots to some of humanity's smallest and most humble, a young black and a young Jew from New York's working class, just days before the giant 1940 World's Fair closed.

Dawson had earlier spent decades vainly trying to convince his fellow scientists that the supposedly simple and predictable small bacteria were, in fact, extremely complex and unpredictable.

Being incredible tiny and defenceless, microbes had not succeeded in taking over the world in the way in the way Man was currently attempting, being content merely to survive upon it.

And they had done so in spades.

For four billion years, in incredibly dense numbers, in all possible biological niches ---- when bigger and more complex beings had only occupied narrow niches and had then quickly gone extinct.

That surprising amount of success really needed explaining.

Rather than confront and simplify their external environment in the way that human Reductionism did, Dawson demonstrated that the microbes simply conformed to all the world's incredibly varied and fluid circumstances - displaying their own plastic willingness to change, adapt and co-exist  -- an ethos that I call Commensality.

Woodstock : Dr Dawson's Children

Now let us jet forward a generation after 1940.

While the futuristic science displays at the 1965 world's fair still strongly treated Nature was as stupid and as unneeded at the 1940 world's fair had thought, the world's fair at 1969's Woodstock clearly differed - strongly believing that there was lots and lots of wisdom to be found in fecund Mother Nature.

Dawson had had his own brief back-to-the-land experiences in the Depression years in rural Armonk NY, a 100 miles south east of the Woodstock site.

If he had still been alive in 1969, he might not have understood the clothing and hair lengths choices made by Sixties back-to-the-landers but nevertheless , Joni Mitchell's famous "Child of God" could just as accurately be described as "Children of Dawson" ....

Friday, March 27, 2015

October 15 1940 : a Fighting 69er fights SBE instead ?

Almost everyone dimly recalls hearing about New York's famous "Fighting 69ers" / "the Fighting Irish" - an infantry regiment more formally known as the 165th (infantry) Regiment, New York State National Guard,--- part of New York State's 27th Division.

Though a state regiment, it in fact recruited exclusively from NY City.

On October 15th 1940, the day before America's first ever peacetime draft registration, the day before History's first ever antibiotic shots, it was 'federalized' and began moving to the US Army's Fort McClellan in Alabama.

And there by hangs yet another intriguing tale in the wartime penicillin saga.

For at the very beginning of 1932 (January 4th), an eighteen year New Yorker old named Charles Aronson joined its Company K - which recruited from the eastern part of the city.

The extreme earliness of this date in the year means statistically he was almost certain to be born in 1913.

That recruitment area and the age of this recruit makes him very likely to be my "dying of heart disease" Charles Aronson.

My Charles Aronson was a young man who had just survived a series of life threatening diseases that left him with a permanently weakened heart but not too weak to work - first as a office boy and then as a teletype operator in a newspaper office.

I no longer doubt - just because of his past illnesses - that he couldn't possibly join an infantry unit.

Not after my refusing for years to believe that a top champion athlete named Aaron Alston could possibly be my "dying of heart disease" Aaron Alston - except that he was.

So - possibly - Charles Aronson had to hear on the radio of his old unit leaving to possible fight for America, just as he was fighting for his own life and about to enter history as one of the two people who were the first ever to receive an antibiotic (penicillin).

So on October 16th 1940, the very next day, as he was supposedly just about to die and receiving an historic - and desperate -  first ever shot of penicillin, the draft registration team visiting his ward probably mentally marked him down as 4F, in fact a 4F of the 4Fs.

But for the grace of an accidental and recent infusion of tooth bacteria into his bloodstream however, tooth bacteria perhaps received from brushing his teeth too vigorously, he would never been fighting this fatal disease in October 1940.

Instead he would have been regarded as a 1A member of the federalized National Guard ---- bad heart and all.

Life is funny isn't it?

Because later in the war, the united Allied scientific and medical elite, taking a leaf out of the Nazi playbook, decided that young people like Charles and Aaron were useless because they couldn't possible fight.

They then ruled them as 'lives unworthy of lifesaving penicillin' and so sentenced them to a death as certain as any trip to Auschwitz.

It didn't really matter to their doctor, Dr Martin Henry Dawson, whether or not they had been infantry soldiers, champion athletes or lifelong invalids - to Dawson all people was worthy of lifesaving penicillin.

Charlie beat this first bout of invariably fatal SBE endocarditis and did so again in 1944, with Dawson's penicillin, He survived the war too - living at least into the 1950s.

Meanwhile Dawson gave up his own life in his belief in the worthiness of all human life ---and finally won his point, just before his own premature death in April 1945 ....

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Genealogy, like melodies, is all about those 'permutations and combinations' we learned in school

Every wonder how a composer get a endless stream of unique melodies from 'just seven notes' ?

 Ever wonder how researchers find people lost to history, with only a tiny handful of facts to guide them ?

Math popularizers explain all those wonderfully different melodies and all those wonderful genealogical successes by the simple arithmetic of combinations and permutations.

Why all melodies are so unique

First, remember that most successful melodies don't actually stay in just one key and one octave, which is where all this hot-aired talk about 'only seven (diatonic) notes' comes from.

They always have a few accidentals (chromatic notes) added and usually extend the melody range up to one octave and a fifth --- giving us about 20 notes to work with on each step of the melody.

In reality, to be successful, each new note in a melody is best restricted to a handful of choices most of time (the interval between two successive notes is more likely to be some kind of a third or a second than a flat seventh for example).

But good melodies are good mostly because they do throw in unexpected surprises, in the interval department among others.

So for any average note, the next note can truly be any of ten notes higher or lower in pitch.

(It can also remain at the same pitch or even remain silent.)

In an average dozen note long 'tune', that is already billions of choices (basically 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 etc) - and we haven't even considered the fact that each note can be one of about a dozen common durations.

(Half notes, 16th notes, tied notes, triplets,swing 8ths, etc - on and on.)

Now we're up to trillions of choices.

Thrown in the fact that every successful tune has a meter and musical style indicated at the top of the score sheet that imply* a built in set of expectations of varying accents (loudness,brightness,forcefulness) on each note.

Accents that we are also free to ignore, momentarily, to provide some more of those wonderful musical surprises.

Now we're climbing into the cosmos of infinite choices.

While melody building adds choice , genealogical research reduces choice

Genealogy also starts with just a few notes, err, facts.

Say just a person's first name, last name, year of birth and the area where they lived.

So Columbia Presbyterian hospital SBE patient Charles Aronson, born 1913 and living in the New York City area in October 1940 and again in April 1944.

But a melody is truly unique only over the run of its dozen or so notes - it builds up it uniqueness.

By contrast, finding a lost historical figure requires , in a real sense, that each note in a tune be totally unique in its pitch x duration x accent - it seeks to cut down a long long humdrum melody to a single unique note.

Genealogy is helped by the fact that the choices for each of its equivalents to pitch, duration and accent are much, much larger than that of music.

For at any moment in time there are only about 100 possible birth years involving living people.

But with the sort of dead people that we can hope to find more about (say the fairly recent past of the last 200 years), we now get a choice of several hundred birth years.

Even when shared amongst ten billion people (counting everyone who ever lived in the past 200 years), we still find that , on average, only about 50 million people shared each birth year.

But that reflects today's huge populations and drop in childhood deaths --- probably only a million people worldwide survived childhood to share the birth year of 1913 by the year 1940.

We also have a first name.

Now Charles is a very common name in western culture - but there are literally hundreds of names as common as Charles in our culture and in total tens and tens of thousands of possible first names worldwide.

Let us guess wildly and say  100,000 people in 1940  had the name Charles.

Aronson is a relatively uncommon last name in a world of tens and tens of thousands of last names.

Uncommon except among Eastern European Jews immigrants - two million who lived in NYC area between 1913 and 1940.

Maybe 100,000 people were named Aronson worldwide in 1940.

So say 5000 people named Aronson lived in NYC area in those years and 20,000 in total in the two Americas.

(In wartime, I don't feel anyone but from the two Americas would have/could have travelled to New York to treat an illness --- particularly a disease mostly found among the poor.)

How many were both Charles and Aronson in all of the two Americas ?

At best, I feel maybe 400.

How many are Charles Aronsons in the Americas  born in 1913 ?


At least as far as I have found by searching the half dozen national and local census produced between 1915 and 1940 in the US and Canada.

One born and raised in the NYC area and living on Vyse Avenue in the Bronx in 1940 , the other born in the Mid-West who wandered widely over his life - living in the metropolitan Detroit area in 1940.

Now it is still a very, very remotely possible the Detroit Charles Aronson might have travelled specially a thousand miles, only to end up to a public (charity) ward in a 1940 NYC hospital.

There to be treated as extensively as all public charity cases are always treated (joke !).

And to treated for a rapidly invariably fatal disease by a doctor who had never been known for treating this disease, until now.

But it doesn't seem likely, now does it - if one is going to die at the hands of a relative amateur - why not do so more cheaply and comfortably at home ?

And remember the known medical history of our Charles Aronson is relatively extensive and seems to indicate he remained in close contact with the doctors at Columbia Presbyterian in 1940-1941 and 1944-1945 - again suggesting he was from the NY area.

(For wartime travel was almost as difficult within America as it was travelling to America in the war years.)

So of the literally thousands of metropolitan areas in the two Americas, I have further restricted my choice down to just one - albeit by far the biggest one, if looking for Aronson names !

These are the cumulative reasons  why I have focussed all my efforts in finding the Charles Aronson who was the first patient in history to receive an antibiotic, upon this Bronx Charles Aronson.....

* My good friend, Queens Professor Margaret Little , had a good classical education on piano but had never heard any Rolling Stones songs and tried, one day in 1980, to play some of their songs from a conventional piano score.

She accurately followed the score, including the meter, but did not understand the implied musical conventions. The results were - my other good friend Paul Withers would agree - interesting !

They sounds totally not at all like the actual tune.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Modernity simply faded when its Old Believers stopped breathing and its Young Initiates stopped believing

Despite all the commentary to the contrary, there is actually no hard evidence that the western world really changed its views on racism and eugenics after the revelations of Auschwitz.

It just could be that the people who had always opposed it got much more vocal and those who had always espoused it learned to curb their tongues ----- at least in public and in public opinion surveys.

(But do let me know when you have developed time travel and God-like powers to see into the darkest truest corners of humanity's soul, and can better firm up all this windy commentary.)

Until then, the view I espouse is that late 1950s and early 1960s civil right protests were as successful as they were, when earlier (bigger) efforts had mostly failed, was because the chief scientific opponent of universally shared human rights (Modernity) was itself fading fast.

I argue one had to come of age as a young adult before WWI's modernity-driven disasters to remain a fully Modernity believer ---- that places the cutoff birthdate date for such fervent believers around 1895.

So the last people in this age group were all out of the work force by 1965.

Yes, they could still be politicians, preachers, authors, control great wealth, but they didn't command army divisions or run police forces, run government civil services, be editors of big newspapers.

And the most truly fervent (oldest) believers in reductionism, racism, eugenics, what have you - the teenagers of the Victorian era - were all in nursing homes or had simply stopped breathing, by 1965.

None of this would have really mattered if 1965 Modernity's young new Initiates, born during the war years and now about twenty to twenty five, had panned out as they were expected to in 1940 .

That was the time of the first Futurama, which set about to predict and then bring about the kind of world it wanted its grandchildren to enjoy in 1965.

But the grandkids weren't buying Modernity's new game plan - as best presented in the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair and its Futurama II exhibit.

I mean some were (insert a big shout out here to Dick Cheney) - but decidedly sotto voce - while a larger number opposed its visions, some quite vocally.

The vast mushy middle of this youthful vanguard went along - as always - in the direction of the biggest noise.

Now as to why so many of the young Initiates stopped believing , I think one possible answer is that while Modernity actually delivered on most of its promises, a majority of the new young buyers (along with a lot of the oldsters) didn't actually like what was on offer.

I say this as a student of political science, where it will never do to simply imagine that all governments that lose elections, do so because they failed to deliver on their promises.

Many,many times they do deliver ('we will cut government services to lower taxes') and the voters then don't like the results....

Most scientists don't do experiments - but all inventors do

What scientists do experiments ?

I am not being facetious - what sort of scientists do and what sort do not do experiments ?

Because it is usually argued - inaccurately - that being a scientist requires experiments - 'vexing nature to uncover her secrets'.

But heaven help the TV weather lady who solely conducts lab experiments to divine tomorrow's weather.

Astronomy, cosmology, geology ,mathematics on and on - acute observation and trial and error thinking often serves in place of formal physical experiments of the sort we are all tortured with in high school science.

But inventors - those humble chaps and ladies never ever considered to be even amateur scientists - now they do formal experiments - night and day.

Supposedly, doing reductionist experiments separated the real scientist from the older 'outdated' Natural History* tradition of simple acute and prolonged observations of complex chaotic Nature in all her mass and over greatly varying circumstances.

That was now to be left to simple country clergymen occupying their days between sermons, christenings and funerals.

However, no matter how expensive, expeditions to extract ice core samples a mile down in the Greenland ice cap are not conducting experiments anymore than the billions we have spent on space research that simply consists of observing Venus close up.

Massively expensive radio telescopes and massively expensive electron microscopes are still just observing Nature at its biggest and at its smallest - are not experiments.

But pushing sub atomic particles together at high speeds to see what happens is an experiment - and a highly expensive and highly visible one at that.

In reality, doing formal physical experiments is just the tip of a philosophical iceberg.

Believing a few quick simple reductionist experiments will give us a more accurate view of Nature that a prolonged acute observation of her in mass and in varying circumstances assumes - without having the courage to come out and say so - that reality isn't really that complex and chaotic as it seems , on the surface.

Instead, it is all - all - just based on a few simple mechanical motions of a few small objects - amplified unbrokenly ever upward in larger and larger collectivities of these small objects.

Successes for this kind of thinking have been much fewer than usually imagined - most of the real world objects we use everyday were invented or discovered far in advance of the reductionist theories that explain why they work.

One thinks of virtually all of the wonders of our electronic world proceeding their accurate scientific explanation.

So let us not blind ourselves to the enormous amount of useful close examination of Nature that still goes on under the guise of science or engineering or inventing - even in the 21st century ....

* Needlessly I do no subscribe to the extremely limited notion of Nature/Natural History as consisting only of living plants and animals and so does not include the physical world or humanity.

The 'sixth' extinction was supposed to be the Jews ...

Natural history (also known as pre-modernity and post-modernity) wears muddy boots and does fieldwork, cumulatively demonstrating the existence of 400,000 different species of beetles - so far.

They are always filling up the gene pool.

Natural philosophy (also known as scientism or reductionism or modernity) sits in a laboratory and explains why those 400,000 different forms of beings only appear to exist and why 399,999 of them (or maybe more) don't really need to exist, not in their brave new world of tomorrow.

Their special joy is draining the gene pool ----- one extinction at a time ...

Postmodern God's inordinate fondness for Beatles

Perhaps the old folks were right after all, and the deconstructionists wrong : perhaps popular postmodernity did not slowly and silently seep into our world like rising damp but instead arrived suddenly , on the Radio and the TV, with a noisy bang or a clang.

Putting the "pop" back into dating the rise of "popular" postmodernity : Beatlemania, November 1963

Because while the plenticidal modern world showed a decided un-fondness for beetles (and all other forms of exuberant natural fecundity), the postmoderns just as conversely show a decided fondness for the ever varying diversity of Nature.... and Beatles.

Monday, March 23, 2015

WWII as a SETBACK for social change

Early - superficial - glib -conventional - accounts of anything (everything ?) aren't always accurate - in fact they may be 100% wrong.

It once certainly seemed to many, at a superficial glance, that WWII had to mark an advance in the long trek forward for civil rights and women's rights - but was that necessarily so ?

In more recent decades, an alternate account has gained ground -- by scholars such as Harvey Sitkoff, Kevin M Kruse and Stephen Tuck.

It was instantly appealing to me, because I have long been troubled trying to reconcile specific WWII setbacks for blacks and women , gleamed from my reading of contemporary newspapers, versus all this vague hand-waving celebration of that war as a time of triumph for women and blacks.

That was then allowed to quietly slid backwards during the repressive Eisenhower 1950s, tra la la.

This theory argues that any weak examples of social radicalism during WWII were only the faint dying echo of Great Depression era radicalism and that most former reform supporters stopped questioning the government publicly and instead united around the need to first defeat the Nazis militarily.

And that the forces of reaction - centred now in Congress - were strengthened, not weakened, during WWII.

Let me add my thoughts to all this by suggesting that twenty five year generational burnout is the cause, as much as anything.

For twenty five years, from the mid Teens to the late Thirties, Progressive forces fought for reforms on many fronts.

But their former young bloods, twenty five in 1910, were now fifty in 1935 and getting burned out.

Worse, their original leaders , forty to fifty in 1910, were now dead or retired.

So from the late 1930s till the early 1960s, a counter reaction mood towards public quietism and patriotic acceptance of government actions captured most of the population.

After the Test Ban Treaty in 1963, the twenty five year hold that unswerving loyalty to the government against eternal enemies had on most people still held.

But only among older adults - the war veteran generation who came of age during the early war years in particular.

But after twenty five years of such unquestioning loyalty, their energy to defend the Cold War certitudes was fading - partly from simple aging and partly from sheer emotional fatigue.

But for kids born in the early Forties and too young to remember the external dangers of WWII and who were now in their early twenties, it was past due time to seriously rock 'n' roll for social reforms.

And so they did .

Twenty five years later, in the mid and late 1980s, they in turn were almost all burnt out ...

Eric Clapton, D-Day, Penicillin 'brewing' Churchill's defeat

In very early June 1944, just before he left for D-Day, a Canadian soldier named Eddie Fryer and a local Ripley Surrey lass named Patty Clapton made a little history of their own : Eric 'Slowhands' Clapton.

Yes, that Eric Clapton.

As this particular Boomer child is about to celebrate his 70th birthday this week, I thought I might inject a fascinating bit of medical and political trivia about his earliest days, to contrast with to all the media stories focusing on his later musical career.

Patty, together with her parents Rose and Jack, in the course of Patty's pregnancy and after baby Eric was born, had frequent cause to visit the community's best known pharmacist (chemist) Ken White.

White was at that time much in the news for his defiant production of his own home-brewed penicillin, which he then supplied to local GPs and their patients.

Word of all the massive supplies of penicillin now available to American civilian patients had caused much anguish among British voters, even among young potential Conservative voters, irate at their Churchill government for not supplying them likewise.

'After all, was it not we British who first discovered the stuff ?'

Trouble was - literally - 'brewing' for Winston Churchill in Surrey's stockbroker belt

Now Ripley and Surrey generally were prime Conservative voter territory.

For a tired government about to face the voters for the first time in ten years, the wide newspaper support given to Ken White's protesting actions down in Surrey should have been - in retrospect- an ominous warning sign to Conservative Central Office officials.

Now the most remarkable thing about the 1945 General Election was not really the huge size of the Tory defeat and Labour win but rather that neither side, as well as no commentators, saw it coming.

There was little contemporary pre-ballot polling data to accounted for this unexpected sea change in british politics.

However, the general consensus among political scientists today is that voter concern about postwar unfairness in allocating scarce resources , particularly lifesaving medical resources, was what triggered the shift to the relatively uninspiring Labour Party campaign.

I believe that the most visible signs of unfairness in allocating lifesaving medical resources in the year before the June 1945 vote were over inadequate civilian penicillin supplies, of which stories about Ken White and others' alternative efforts were but one symbol.

It might all come down to a question of musical taste versus interest in politics, but I am inclined to think that the event in Ripley circa 1945 that is most worth celebrating seventy years later was not young Eric, but rather Ken White's election-changing home brewed penicillin ...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Modernity's separate spheres for bacteria and, of course, for women and blacks

Until the rise of postmodernity in the early 1970s, most women viewed themselves as not at all "very like men in their shared humanness", but rather as definitely existing in a separate and in many ways superior sphere.

Blacks, the handicapped and bacteria - on and on and on - also existed in some of Modernity's many 'separate' spheres --- but these spheres were usually viewed as more clearly inferior.

Martin Henry Dawson, post his discovery of bacteria DNA HGT, didn't necessarily see bacteria as being that however ...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Grandparents from BOTH sides of NYC's political spectrum sought to define the futurama world of Janus Manhattan's children

From personal experience (as a small child) I know that the very young sincerely believe that their parents are decisive in shaping their young world.

But when we are all grown up and young parents of our own , we realize how wrong we were.

For in fact, a 25 year old new parent is generally at the very bottom of the adult world's food chain, at work and in society in general.

Youngsters need to look instead at grandparents, their own and others, to see those with all the top jobs and most of the national wealth - the ones who actually set the parameters of our childhoods.

(In truth, growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, I wasn't even sure that grandparents ran the world - it seemed more to be somebody's great-grandparents !

National leaders in their mid eighties were by no means uncommon - not at all like today's norm when political leaders and company CEOs are all used up and spat out by age fifty.)

1940 New York's Two (2) Futuramas

1939-1940's Futurama I was a rare formal attempt by some powerful grandfathers (but reflecting the views of the general middle class public) to predict (and thus to hasten) the world of tomorrow, aka the 1960s, that they dearly wanted to see for their grandchildren.

Today we know those grandchildren as 'the postwar generation' or as 'the boomers'.

Even conservative commentators agree that the ungrateful grandchildren of those elite 1940 grandparents basically rejected their proposed brave new world - a high tech world best seen in the 1964-1965 Futurama II - for the seedy charms of Victorian Era Haight-Ashbury.

But is this in fact true ?

Could it not be instead that the 1960s boomers were as divided in their response to the 1964-65 Futurama II as their grandparents were to the 1939-1940 Futurama I ?

Janus Manhattan's Children , the book, will consider whether 1940 New York City was ever as united around the themes of that year's World Fair as is often made out - just as it will consider whether as many Boomers were as counter cultural as it seemed in the late 1960s.

Boomers - aged between 50 and 75 - are the dominant voting bloc in the world because those years of a person's life are when they form by far the most reliable voters, particularly today when only half the population bothers to vote.

So their choices will govern how we all face the existential crisis of the Sixth Extinction.

They are by no means as united as it often assumed - boomers head up both the global warming warning camp and the global warming denying camp for example.

They are divided because people are always divided - and perhaps never more so in 1940, when their grandparents made many of the decisions that still haunt our world.

To save the planet we need to understand the boomers - and to understand them, we need to ignore their parents and try instead to understand their grandparents.

To understand Sixties counterculture, we need to start by looking at who in 1940 New York opposed the values embodied in that year's World's Fair.

Just as to better understand the "scientism can solve any potential problems" of climate denying boomers like Stephen Harper, George W Bush and Tony Abbott, we need to look at the "future's so bright, we gotta wear shades" optimism of their grandparents' generation, best expressed at that same 1940 World's Fair...

Selma marchers needed strong hearts and lungs and thanks to open commensal penicillin, they had them

Conservatives have always opposed health care for all. Partly because their opponents must first be healthy to be effective protesters...

Gary May
, the most through historian of the historic 1965 March on Selma, has made it clear just how physically demanding the whole march was for leaders and ordinary marchers alike.

Forget, for a moment, the stress of possible fatal violence that they all faced ---- most of us, even fifty years later, can sense that side of the story.

I mean what it must have been like walking all day for days and days --- and then trying to sleep on non-beds, always outside, often in March's wild rain and wind, with almost no washing or bathroom facilities and doing all this while surviving on extremely basic meals.

Develop a painful foot blister - as Dr King did on this protest - and most of us would not walk much for a few days until it heals.

But what if you can't stop - must walk on and on and on ?

Well the pain can, well the pain alone --- shooting up your foot to the hair on the top of your head with every step you take --- that pain alone can give you pneumonia.

It did so for me in August 1984, under somewhat similar circumstances, when I felt I just had to keep on marching to do right.

All this got me thinking as why the Selma March didn't happen in 1925 or 1935 or 1945 or 1955.

To be a pioneer of Sixties Civil Rights, it is often said you needed a strong heart.

This expression is meant figuratively and I can't really fault its reasoning.

Successful protesters must have strong lungs

But what if we do take it literally and added a requirement of a strong lungs as well ?

Diseases that affected the heart and lungs hit the young adults of the poor, immigrants and minorities particularly hard.

Patients with heart valve problems caused by Rheumatic Fever (then the leading killer of school age kids - again particularly kids of the poor, immigrants and minorities) were told to avoid activities like dancing, sexual acts, childbirth and child-rearing, so as to not further strain their heart and lungs.

TB was very common in slightly older youth among these  groups, also gravely straining the heart and lungs.

Obviously no great protest marching, no loud verbal protests or prolonged protest singing was medically on the cards for either type of sufferer !

But by 1945, it was clear that wartime conservatives had totally failed to make wartime penicillin an expensive patented drug, available only for the well to do whites.

Instead the extensive post-war use of inexpensive (Public Domain) penicillin to prevent Strep Throat soon created a sort of Herd Immunity effect that had reduced new cases of Rheumatic Fever to almost nothing.

A varying cocktail of new antibiotics similarly greatly reduced youthful deaths from TB, though not to the invisible small levels soon obtained with Rheumatic Fever.

So a whole postwar generation of kids with a healthy set of lungs had grown up by 1965.

Some obviously became loud-mouthed rock 'n' rollers --- but others just as loudly and relentlessly led the chants at protest rallies for blacks, chicanos and reservation natives all over America.

Simply put : better health for the poor and minorities proceeded better civil rights for the poor and the minorities and was its necessary pre-condition --- just as conservatives had feared all along ...

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Double V victory : the Last shall be First

On October 16th 1940, it is said, Dr Martin Henry Dawson gave history's first ever antibiotic injections to a black man, Aaron Leroy Alston and to a Jew, Charles Aronson.

"And" : not "and then to".

But how ? How on earth do you give two injections at the same time ?

I struggled recently with the actual mechanics while thinking how to present this event as a single painted image.

Eventually I realized that a painting of this athletically double-jointed historic event might also symbolize the ambiguous "Double V victory" of Manhattan's two biggest war projects : the autarkical A-Bomb and Dawson's openly commensal natural penicillin.

My proposed image for the first volume of my book Janus Manhattan's Children ?

It shows the soon-to-be-injected arm of Alston (to the left) and Aronson (to the right) joined at their hands, making one natural "V".

Above them, the limitations of human anatomy ensures that the arms of Dr Dawson (preparing to inject the penicillin into each patient's arm at the same time) would also form another natural "V" above and inside the patients' "V".

As anyone struggling to emulate Dawson's twin effort soon realizes, it is probably easiest and most natural to let their left hand inject rightward and their right hand inject leftward --- the twin hypo needles crisscrossing at the hands.

The criss crossing also helps emphasize Dawson secondary goal.

On that October 16th, he particularly wanted to exalt the 4Fs of the 4Fs, the smallest, sickest and weakest ("The Last") among 1940 America's minorities.

Because on this day, set aside in law for the first ever peacetime draft registration, the rest of America was otherwise exalting the biggest and the strongest (the 1As) among its population.

True, the 1As might do all the actual military fighting overseas to end Nazi mistreatment of minorities.

But Dawson and others realized that all the 1As' deaths and the eventual victory would be useless, if at home the values of the Nazis continued in America's treatment of its own minorities.

To really put paid to Hitler, we needed to defeat his thinking, abroad and at home.

But instead, American medical conservatives
were moving to emulate Hitler even more !

They had long been hostile to 1930s liberals and their efforts to try and save all of the dying even if they couldn't pay for their treatment (Social Medicine).

Hitler's Aktion T4 program had begun in September 1939, deliberately using the cover of war efforts to begin the killing off all of Germany's handicapped.

So too, these American conservatives were actually using the medical preparations for a possible war with Hitler (War Medicine) as an excuse to cut off medical efforts towards the poorest minorities !

So with 'enemies' like the AMA's Morris Fishbein leading the charge, Hitler hardly needed friends.

Instead, on this day, he got a moral enemy in Dr Dawson ...

When the upward causation of 'invariably fatal' SBE meets the downward causation of Dawson's agape penicillin

Let us accept - for the sake of the argument - the unproven assumption that many kids could even get SBE disease out there in the Social Darwinists' belovedly savage "Nature" that existed before Christian compassion peed on their picnic.

Then, yes, the SBEs' premature death out there in early Nature does seem assured - even 'invariable'.

A clear case of what philosophic reductionists (such as Adolf Hitler) liked to call "upward causation", mandated from the virile little bacteria at the bottom to the big - damaged - heart valves at the top.

Seemingly, end of story.

But remember, even when the evolutionary upward causation of tiny mutating genes throw ups three headed horses, the varying reproductive odds out there in the big eternal environment also get to have their say.

And to date, those reproductive odds has shown a decided preference for horses with only one head.

A clear example of Evolution's "downward causation" (from the top big to the bottom small) having its two cent say on the final results.

In September 1940, the upward causation of Aaron (Leroy) Alston's inevitably death from SBE (subacute bacterial endocarditis - the disease that made Rheumatic Fever the number one killer of kids for 50 years) hit a speed bump.

Inspired by Alston's black activist spunk, a middle aged doctor (Martin Henry Dawson) decided to strike his own personal blow for freedom during WWII by trying to stop Social Darwinists in America from doing to SBE patients what Hitler was already doing to their counterparts in Germany under the Aktion T4 program.

Despite Dawson's best efforts with his historic home-brewed antibiotic injections, Alston did not survive in the end, but Dawson's efforts ultimately ensured that ten billion of us - so far - have led longer happier healthier years.

Seventy five years later, the downward causation of Dawson's agape penicillin is still working itself out in all its complex manifestations, all over our world.

Try and reduce that .....

Would today's schooling even be around - if teachers acted as if Quantum physics really exists ?

The big three of Modernity (the Nazis, Communism and Imperial Capitalism) were all given a helping hand up ... when the pedagogy of Reductionism muddled into pedagogical reductionism.

So if I were a high school teacher, I would stop all that pedagogical reductionism and stop lying to my students.

Pedagogical Reductionism : plenticiding inconvenient scientific truths ...

I would stop pretending that our real world is accurately conveyed by the theories of Newton, Lyell, Dalton and Darwin.

Stopping doing so, simply because this outdated set of science theories makes reality pedagogically simple for teachers to teach and grade students.

Stop doing so, simply because this outdated simple stable (Classic)(Modern) scientific view of reality remains very ideologically attractive to the powerful blocs of 'experts' and 'professionals', that ultimately determine the level of teachers' salaries and pensions.

Teachers who themselves view themselves as fellow 'experts' and 'professionals'.

If I were a teacher, I would freely tell pupils it is often good enough (even for grownup paid professional engineers) to simply subtract 30 from a temperature in Fahrenheit and then divide that result by two to get an approximate value in Celsius.

However, I would also add, that for true scientific accuracy, they must actually subtract 32 and divide by 1.8.

I would tell them that an adult paid professional engineer is usually safe in assuming the approximate atomic weight of an unknown sample of oxygen to be 16.

I would add that a true, scientifically accurate, atomic weight could only be determined by a painstaking chemical analysis of the actual percentages of the various oxygen isotopes contained in that sample, because each isotope has a different atomic weight.

I would tell my students that I would accept either answer on my upcoming exam - as long as the students explained what figure they are using and for what purpose.

I would stop lying to students in exchange for what seems to me, working at minimum wages, big pay ...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Quantum Physics at elementary school, in the 1950s & 1960s

It didn't happen, not in Canada - at least not in my imperfect memory.

The question is why ?

Why was it not introduced to kids in those decades --- or even in this decade more than a hundred years after it first arrived on the scene ?

I myself first read about quantum physics in Time Magazine articles when I was ten or eleven, sometime in 1962 and 1963  - probably when someone got a Nobel prize or yet another puzzling sub-atomic particle had been found in the ever frenetic search for the 'final - simple - explicable - base' of ultimate reality.

It was all totally over my head - not so much the science, as its relevance to ordinary life.

Quantum physics, like space travel,  simply didn't seem that interesting to me, though I could see from the context of the articles all this quantum stuff was considered very important research and at the frontiers of science.

By the time I was about fourteen and in junior high, I had read about it in a good deal more detail in any number of Time-Life books on science subjects.

For a long time my parents passed on giving us access to what most kids took for granted : rock and roll radio, TV and movie going and the right to leave our own property to play with other kids.

Time-Life Book Club to the rescue

But they bought every (educational book) the Time Life Book Club ever shipped out !

So I read a lot of books as a kids - suggested age level and complexity never an issue.

Now the entire Time Life series always did a great job making very complex subjects quite readable.

These were books written by real experts, not cutting edge scholarship perhaps but sharing the consensus of contemporary undergraduate textbooks on these subjects.

But despite all this, quantum physics (as opposed to the exciting new gadgets that understanding quantum was throwing up - like transistors) still made absolutely no impression on my sponge-like mind.

It seemed to have had no moral, intellectual or philosophical impact on me.

This was totally unlike the situation with antibiotics, which we ankle-biters were told all about in elementary school -- and from the earliest of grades.

I don't think my childhood experience (or adult experience) with the teaching of quantum physics was that unique.

It simply doesn't grab us emotionally.

But it should - nevertheless - be paired with the story of antibiotics and taught to grade school kids.

For if quantum physics can be best described as the science of reality's smallest (non-living) objects, the tiny microbe-attacking antibiotics produced by other tiny microbes can be described as the science of reality's smallest living objects.

As very small objects ourselves, we primary kids totally get it in both cases -  its the smallness factor.

Science stuff is usually only presented to small children as something done by big people in big laboratories making big things.

So naturally we are fascinated to be told that little children (like ourselves) were saved from death by medicine made by tiny invisible things found only on dank basement walls or in muddy tropical dirt.

We would have been equally open to an introductory explanation that everything physical in the world was based on really tiny and hyperactive objects (rather like ourselves !) with mysterious almost magical properties.

Instead we were straight out lied to - taught that the simple bland boring stable atoms were the total physical basis of reality.

We were taught Modernity.

Even though all Science had known, at least since the 1920s of thirty years earlier, that it no longer gave an accurate account of reality.

Just as Science had known, also since the 1920s, about the penicillium fungus' unique ability to produce non toxic germ-killing penicillin.

And about the microbes' still unique ability to precisely horizontally recombine gene material from different species, down at the smallest molecular level, (an activity then better known under Dr Henry Dawson's term of Bacterial Transformation).

These new areas of Science (Microbiology's Horizontal Gene Transfer and Quantum Physics' spin and anti-matter et al), precisely because both were occupied with the basement levels of reality, were instantly seen to have the ability to undermine the very foundations of the reductionist intellectual edifice we call Modernity.

In the case of Quantum Physics, this quickly became a journalistic truism said then and repeated ever since - a fact known by all among the quality newspaper reading classes.

Known and ignored - emotionally - by almost all of them.

Indeed I suggest that the very reason why Modernity Science tolerated the theoretically threatening ideas of Quantum Science being so much discussed in the popular media was because modern scientists also knew them to be emotionally impotent.

And thus unlikely to threaten Modernity itself, except among a tiny scientifically and philosophically astute minority.

Because even the largest physical molecules - let alone the smallest sub atomic particles - are not rivals of civilized human modernity.

But even the smallest living beings, the microbes for example, are.

Dawson's monkey wrench

So Dawson's articles about harmless and deadly pneumonia germs madly exchanging genes and outer coats and so confounding fifty years of mainstream serum-based medicine could arouse emotions.

For it won't just stop with Dr Dawson demonstrating that the tiny and supposedly simple-minded, crude, primitive, ancient microbes could easily pull off medical and genetic-altering wonders that the best of modern science could not begin to match.

That, in turn, would soon imply that perhaps the ancient and primitive 'tribes' now be treated as simple children under civilized stewardship by the western imperial powers might also be capable of similar such intellectual surprises.

And that simply won't do.

The research institutions that employed Dawson made no real effort to promote his ideas and nor did he - beyond the conventional journal articles, convention papers and invited lectures he gave.

But can one claim that the institutions employing the quantum physicists did any more ?

No, in both cases, the intellectual seeds were cast out, equally vigorously, and at the same time, but only one fell on fallow journalistic ground.

The harmless one, the one that couldn't be easily explained was explained and the dangerous one, the one that could be too readily explained was studiously ignored.

Ignored until 1945 and 1946.

Then the failure of a few thousand of the smartest chemists in the universe to synthesize penicillin as economically as the humble penicillium could finally opened scientific minds to the new post-modern world created by this sophisticated microbiology of the very weak and very small.

As  not a few chemists on the synthesis project, Ernst Chain and Ronald Bentley for example, readily admitted....

Canadian frontier company towns as outposts of modernity and order

Before I stumbled upon Henry Dawson and penicillin, I had developed the themes that you see in my account of his wartime efforts in a book I was writing - slowly - about Canadian frontier company towns holding off the natural world on behalf of modernity, circa 1910 to 1970 .

It had all the makings of a great addition to  an now extinct art form :  a page-turning sociology book of the intellectual roman a clef variety : the community study of a place, based on close intimate observation, scandalously frank about how people really think and talk and that is only disguised enough to prevent libel suits.

My subject was all those once common Canadian frontier company towns across Middle Canada that were all about about a square (and I do mean literally and deliberately square) mile in size - a lonely and tiny dot of an outpost of restrained -Protestant - modernity in a vast muskeg of fecund nature.

Pavement, piped water, powered lights and a public high school were their tokens of civilization to ward off the dark green unknown.

The diverse human, catholic, side of fecund nature - 'Indians' and 'half breeds', 'French Canadians' and 'ethnic' immigrants all huddled in communities just outside these dry (REG G) towns, providing tempting opportunities for all kinds of transgressional protestant sins.

I could go on and on - I do go on and on - about their narrative potential but in truth I lacked one community and one story to stand in for all the others.

Every place added something vivid to the stew but none could do the narrative job alone.

But Dawson, on the other hand , .....

savior of wartime Lazarus was born in a BASEMENT, not a barn

Since there are all kinds of perfectly rational explanations as to why the 'miracle' (as even admittedly atheistic scientists described life-saving natural penicillin) emerged in the times of the darkest depths of Hitler and Stalin's terror, we know that God couldn't possibly be involved, because He is irrational, right ?

Thus, as we are all agreed that the pairing of life-granting Lovecraftian penicillium slime, the lowest of the low, and mass-death-dealing war efforts of humanity's highest civilizations was just mere, sheer, pure coincidence, let us all least enjoy what a symbolic gift to narrative non fiction that coincidence really was.

Gleaming white skyscrapers and ... Lovecraftian slime

For we all know that the view from the executive suite at the top of a gleaming white skyscraper was the favoured place of complacent Laplacian omniscience during Modernity, as countless art historian Powerpoint lectures have demonstrated.

So surely the mere thought of all that Lovecraftian fungal slime mysteriously oozing up on the dark dank basement walls of those same skyscrapers had to awake cosmic terrors (of which depths we can't never fully know... and still remain sane) in all those modernist minds.

For an entire secular - scientism - religion had arisen world wide, whose entire intellectual edifice rested upon the claim that the latest big and the complex at the top was always the source of all good and that the simple, small, stupid and ancient at the bottom was always the source of all evil and pestilence.

This religion - this claim - had already suffered existential doubts as the evidence of all the evils the top civilizations  were capable of piled like bodies at a death camp.

Now, in addition, to discover that the only good that had ever come out of this bad news war was coming from the lowest of the low - every sense .

It was all too much : the horror, the horror !!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

How HGT helped end Modernity

It is too frequently claimed, by tenured people well schooled in the logical and analytical skills of philosophy and who thus really shown know better , that postmodernity is all about relativism and modernity is all about absolutes.

But is this in anyway accurate ?

Postmodernism's Absolutes

True, postmodernist thought does typically say things like this : "the matriarch of an extended aboriginal family is as smart in her own way as is the boss of a New York brokerage firm".

But is this nothing more the evoking two forms of one absolute, 'smartness' ?

Modernity's Continuum of relative Progress

Contrast this with a typical modernity claim, that that 'the bigger and more complex are inevitably smarter than the small and the less complex, just as the newer is always smarter than the ancient'.

So : the header of a current brokerage firm is inevitably smarter than the head of an ancient aboriginal family.

Further : that a modern civilization is far smarter (because it is so big/complex and created so recently) than a tiny simple bacteria that first existed billions of years ago.

This is the Continuum of relative Progress that formed the base for all the towering modernist-scientism thought that lay above it.

A straight arrow of progress and smartness, ever upward towards today's biggest and the newest.

Anchored - in the minds of modern scientism at least - by the obvious smartness of today's biggest and newest human civilizations versus the obvious stupidity of the shapeless, immobile tiny bacteria first born billions of years earlier.

The real target of this line of thinking was not the bacteria, so very far beneath the pale, but humans in the middle of this continuum : the natives of the many overseas colonies held captive by western nations claiming to be their 'moral stewards' using this scientific argument.

Muller vs Dawson on Evolution and Progress

Now as it happens, one of the smartest beings in the Modernity universe, an American scientist named Herman J Muller, had been busy at work studying genetic mutations beginning at Columbia University in 1918 , trying to alter the genetic makeup of living beings.

He zapped the multitudes of these assembled beings with overdoses of deadly radiation.

Now most died right away but some lived a little while longer while being deformed into useless mutations as the radiation altered their genes.

By once in a while a being survived into old age but with a mutation that was either harmless or even possibly helpful.

He became famous overnight when he gleefully telegraphed his results at the end of 1927.

The Swedes, belatedly impressed by the mis-shaped mutations that the wartime A-Bombs had coughed up amid all the dead and dying, gave Muller a Nobel Prize in 1946.

Enter Griffith and Dawson

Now that same month as Muller announced his attempts at gene modification, a British scientist named Frederick Griffith very reluctantly submitted a paper on his discovery (made in 1923, just as Muller had done his first radiation experiments) that primitive, ancient, tiny, simple bacteria could also affect gene change.

Albeit without millions of bystanders being killed in the process.

His news was totally ignored - first by scientists and thus by their syncopants*, the so called science 'journalists', and then by ordinary journalists and their readers.

(*I have always wondered why football team cheerleaders are not similarly called sports 'journalists'.)

Unlike Muller, Griffith did not expand upon his research and nor did anyone else , except a Canadian-born scientist named Martin Henry Dawson.

His work too got little attention.

No wonder !

The Moderns has replace their parents' belief in a personal God with a belief in an Impersonal Science but that did not mean an end to needing to believe in dogmas.

They needed more of them - now more than ever.

We all know them - as historical relics, albit still taught to innocent high school kids by the old Faithfuls.

Such as "One gene = One protein", the famous central dogma of biology.

In Dawson's own skill areas, bacteriology and immunology, 'Strain-Typing' was the operating philosophy.

It was based on another famous dogma, Koch's First Postulate, that a specific disease-causing strain of bacteria will always be found in a person suffering such a specific disease but never in a healthy person.

Simply examine the various bodily fluids of a sick person possibly suffering from an unknown-for-certain disease, find within it lots of strain x of bacteria Y that always causes a particular disease Z and you are done.

Possibly a cure is known and the patient lives --- or possibly the disease hasn't yet a cure and they die - but your job, as a typing bacteriologist at the hospital lab is all done , 'where's my pay cheque ?'

Let the frontline doctors on the wards deal with the emotional fallout from this definitive diagnosis.


What Dawson boldly dared suggest - unlike the timid and disbelieving Griffith - was that the harmless strains of bacteria carried by almost all of us in our throats and noses at sometime in our lives - could be changed into dangerous strains by HGT.

This meant that simply typing a patient as having only non-pathogen bacteria in them wouldn't ensure they couldn't get a new pathogen disease when thus harmless strains took up harmful genes from other bacteria.

The professions of Bacteriology and Immunology were less than a generation old but now Dawson's suggestion of infinite bacteria genetic plasticity threatened their members' only recently attained job security and new high status within medicine and science.

He actually called his process by the plain-spoken term "bacterial transformation", but today we use the more descriptive term "horizontal gene transfer", hence HGT.

For - contrary to the God-disbelieving Charles Darwin's own personal dogma- Evolution isn't all about vertical descent from parent to child.

Non-vertical Evolution

Sometimes Evolution actually arrives horizontally, when bits of DNA from one strain of microorganism are incorporated into the "adult" DNA of another strain or even another species of microorganism - and possibly even into the DNA of complex beings like us .

The ancient stupid/simple microorganisms have evolved ways to painlessly insert foreign DNA into their own DNA - and the new clever/ complex human civilization hadn't .

True, we eventually wised up and borrowed the tools of the bacteria to do the job for us - we call it recombinant DNA and PCR.

We then have the sheer nerve to give Nobel Prizes to their mere human discovers rather than their true inventors, the bacteria !

But if HGT demonstrated the bottom end of an upward-oriented continuum of relative 'smarterness' was actually smarter in the area of recombinant DNA than the very top, could that continuum be said to actually exist ?

However remaining stands of Scientism - tenured up to the hilt and marxist cum modernist to the core - doesn't like facing up the the fact that their own central dogma, the Continuum of Progress, has no basis in fact.

Instead, modern big complex human civilization is just as smart - in its own way - as is that of ancient as ancient simple small microorganisms.

Just as the postmodernists claim ...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Was Martin Henry Dawson's sub clinical MG pushed into a severe MG case by his penicillin work ?

Thousands of deaths later, doctors have come to realize that many,many drugs can turn quietly sub clinical cases of Myasthenia Gravis (MG) into full blow cases.

Situations that turn ordinary people into lifelong patients who now require constant and closely monitored medical interventions for their very survival and well being.
If the full blown case happens unexpectedly while the patient is out for the count, during a routine surgery, it can even cause an unexpected respiratory failure that could prove quickly fatal.

MG is by the most common member of a sizeable group of diseases that hinder the vital transmission of nerve control signals from the stem of the brain though to the nerve ends and then across a gap to the special muscles that control things like breathing and swallowing.

Thankfully, mammal bodies have a huge redundancy in signal sending and signal receiving receptors at either end of that gap to cover most possible problems.

So these diseases are not a simple matter of either being full on or full off but rather exist in a fluctuating continuum depending on our general health and stress levels .

Many of us have conditions that interfere - somewhat - with that nerve transmission process but we don't even realize it - just that sometimes we feel sort of 'punk' and 'out of it'.

These large number of until recently unnoticed sub clinical cases of MG does produce an example of a common situation where we are basically lied to, when fundraisers for the treatment and cure of a disease insist a disease's survival rate is "way up".

Here is how it happens :

Often, a new disease is only 'noticed' when enough people with the most severe symptoms arrive at some big city research hospital and form the basis of an article.

Most - having such severe symptoms as to be readily obvious - naturally die at first.

The disease researchers then say that the disease is very rare --- and with a very high morbidity rate.

But then gradually some reliable and sensitive diagnostic tests emerge, tests that indicate the disease actually exists mildly in many more people than was ever imagined.

Now the new 'survival rates' much quoted are in fact spread over a vast number of people who were never ever going to die of the disease, with or without medical intervention.

I don't wish to deny that many people who used to die from MG are now kept alive thanks to over a hundred years of research on this disease.

Just to warn you that all disease fundraisers are past masters at 'lying with statistics' , all trying to do good by getting as much success stories into their PR as possible.

Now all kinds of stresses - external chemical ones (like drugs and bugs) as well as internal (mental) ones - can make a person's MG condition suddenly worsen.

'Worsen' can extend as far as a sudden failure to breath - the dreaded "MG Crisis" - a situation that can kill the MG patient in minutes.

Lists of drugs that have - on occasion and with particular MG patients - made their condition worse, temporarily or forever - are so long and extensive as to make depressing reading.

But some types of drugs do it more consistently than others.

Penicillin is one such drug, with the breakdown components of it even more deadly : D Penicillamine is one such sub-compound.

Today a useful if dangerous drug, in the early 1940s, it was just something that chemists produced regularly in their attempts to break down fungus-made natural penicillin into its chemical sub components.

They were hoping that analyzing the resulting smaller bits would help them to put it all together again - but via human chemical synthesis.

Penicillin work at Columbia Presbyterian had started out strictly as an effort by German Jewish emigre chemist Karl Meyer to quickly synthesize penicillin.

He hoped, if he succeeded, to prove himself valuable enough to the American defence establishment to allow him to avoid possible internment, in case of a shooting war with Germany.

He wanted his colleague and friend Dawson to merely test tiny amounts of the resulting compounds for biological activity on equally tiny samples of bacteria.

There was no real need at this time, Meyer felt, to 'waste' scarce penicillin by using it on real patients.

Instead almost all of the natural penicillin produced by the team with great difficulty was then quickly destroyed by Meyer in repeated chemical efforts to try to break it into its smallest building block compounds.

Dawson had naturally helped out and had probably absorbed some of these penicillin sub compounds while breathing in the hot moist fumes - the idea of proper effective fume hoods being routinely provided to all labs was something many decades into the future.

If he got his subclinical MG stimulated by such fumes, he'd hardly be alone - there are other cases of scientists showing MG symptoms from simply working in rooms that a number of years before had seen much penicillin activities!

I suspect by October 16th 1940 and the first injections of what small amounts of penicillin that Dawson could pry away from Meyer's chemical work, Dawson's latent or sub clinical MG had already been stimulated.

He had been, in a sense, a ticking time bomb, being in his fifth decade, which is still the decade when most serious cases of MG first become noticed in males.

Then the stress of dealing with the paperwork of his father's death in distant Nova Scotia, instead home at busy exam time in NYC, may have really moved his MG into high gear.

High enough to be seriously noticed and to send him to some specialists, sometime in late December 1940 ...

Three of four pioneering SBE patients (first patients ever to be treated with penicillin injections) still alive at first published report

I know two* and believe possibly three of Martin Henry Dawson's first four SBE patients treated with the first ever injections of penicillin were still alive at the time of his May 5th 1941  paper on this project.
But none had shown a lasting benefit from receiving this new treatment for SBE (subacute bacterial endocarditis - the then invariably fatal disease that made Rheumatic Fever a feared word for all parents).

That they received an indirect benefit is always possible and even likely - because we well know that a freshly uplifted mind assists the body to better fight off illnesses.

So Dawson was rightly low key in his public presentation, in regards to these four patients.

He only emphasized that repeated and varied penicillin injections did not harm them in any way.

This was a clear rebuke to the world's doctors for the 12 years of their collective neglecting to use penicillin injections to save countless millions of lives.

I see nothing in his published statement to indicate that all four patients had died at the time of his report - those historians who state that are simply wrong.

* Charles Aronson and George M Conant were certainly alive on May 5th. Aaron Leroy Alston had died January 25th 1941.

Amazingly, even the various doctors and nurses (cum eye witnesses) on the team could not recall anything of the fourth (almost certainly also male) patient, even a few short years later !

Thursday, March 12, 2015

75 years ago, on a day supposedly devoted to 1As, two New York City 4Fs made medical history instead

It is an irony beyond all measure that on America's first ever peacetime Draft Registration Day, October 16th 1940, a day designed to separate the 1A sheep from the 4F goats, two 4Fs (a black man from Harlem and a Jew from the Bronx) instead made medical history by ushering in our current Age of Antibiotics !

And they made history not by accident of sheer coincidence either.

For their doctor, Martin Henry Dawson of Columbia University's Presbyterian medical campus,was incensed that his colleagues were using the move to a War Medicine footing (of which the separating of valued 1As from unvalued 4Fs was but one part) as an excuse to drop Social Medicine - the extending of life-saving medical care to those in need, regardless of their income, color or origins.

Dawson felt that a Double V Victory was needed to defeat the hold that Fascist values held among much of the world's Neutral nations - both a military defeat and a moral defeat.

Abandoning America's weakest and the smallest to medical benign neglect, just as the Nazis were currently doing with their own weak and small, was no way to win the 'hearts and minds' of the neutral nations.

These two young New York City boys, famed athlete Aaron Leroy Alston of St Nicholas Avenue and teletype operator Charles Aronson of Vyse Avenue, were dying of then invariably fatal subacute bacterial endocarditis, known to all as SBE, the disease that made Rheumatic Fever the most feared and fatal of all school age children's diseases.

It was also known as "The Polio of the Poor", which gives an indication that minorities , immigrants and the poor were the hardest hit by it.

For these two reasons, people with it were judged, by a medical establishment echoing the Manhattan of Gordon Gekko, to be of no value to the military or to hard-slog war-factory work ---- and so best left to die.

But Dawson, perhaps channelling the spirit of Manhattan's equally famous Emma Lazarus, saw the pair as worth saving and their disease as curable if only.

If only, twelve long years after penicillin's non toxic and bacteria killing nature were first discovered, some doctor plucked up enough courage to test its toxicity in the human blood stream.

Dawson did that crucial test - injecting it in himself.

Convinced it was safe, he then injected his team's home made penicillin into the pair and quietly, off stage in all that day's media splash, made history.

For journalistic hindsight is always 20/20, but back then it seemed clear that reporting upon possible student resistance (on the same Columbia campus) to the draft registration process was a far,far bigger story.

Hopefully, this time around, on the October 16th 2015 seventy fifth anniversary of those historic pair of antibiotic injections,  the NYC area media will run with the ball ...

No second acts for most war veterans - except in booming NY ?

F Scott Fitzgerald's most famous line is also his most misquoted line.

For Fitzgerald - like his character Jay Gatsby - was ever the eternal optimist , never the cynic.

For in fact, in a published essay written just after the Stock Market Crash, "My Lost City", Fitzgerald admitted that while he once thought there are no second acts in America , the exception had to be for those living in eternally booming New York City.

I thought of this while reading, in passing, literally hundreds of brief biographies of WWI veterans in the British and Commonwealth media, to mark this the one hundred anniversary of the start of WWI.

For these biographies tend to offer a twisted take on the true reality of WWI veterans.

For the relatively few lives taken up, from a choice of the literally millions of possible lives, and put in the newspapers almost always are of those men who were in the infantry frontlines and among those who died during the war.

Died as either notable heroes --- or as happenstance victims.

My home province of Nova Scotia, for example, has made much of  its first and last soldiers to die in the Great War : both men died undramatically in routine frontline activities when almost randomly shot by snipers.

But maybe only a third of WWI veterans occupied the most forward infantry trench and actually went 'over the top'.

The rest served in the Navy and Air Force, in the Artillery, Engineers, Pioneer and Forestry Brigades, in Supply, in the Medical Corps and as battalion musicians - on and on, in situations more to the rear of No Man's Land.

Death and injury was almost as common to them as to the infantry but their living conditions did tend to take less of a toll on their lifelong general health.

And in pure statement of fact, most frontline infantry soldiers in almost all WWI armies did come home alive.

Alive, but broken to some degree  - suffering losses in both mental and physical health.

Wounded limbs and scarred lungs did tend to heal, for  you had to be relatively young and healthy to even make it to the tough frontline life.

But the damage doesn't really ever go permanently away and can lead to a lessened capacity to enjoy life and an earlier than expected death.

Many WWI veterans did not simply return to humdrum lives that failed to ever match the achievements of this  brief youthful experience, to sound the old cliche - instead they became even more distinguished in their later civilian careers.

I have often thought it worth detailing whether those WWI vets with the most noted successful civilian careers were also the ones who suffered the least wretched physical conditions during the war.

Because success is often measured as much by sheer quantity (length of time doing an activity) as by quality while doing that activity.

Frequently Genius dies young and unknown while the more ordinary figure can achieve fame by having a long career and merely doing their job competently.

To be honest, I am thinking now of the twice-wounded war vet and penicillin pioneer Martin Henry Dawson who died tragically young and relatively unknown at 48 versus his rival Howard Florey who successfully avoided war service, kept his health and died age seventy world famous.

Dawson - I would hold - was never the conventional scientist or much admired by his more ordinary and conventional fellow scientists - but one more likely to break old paradigms and create new ones.

But he didn't live long enough, in good enough health, to do more than start down this path.

By contrast, Florey was highly conventional in both his lifestyle and in scientific thought -no ground breaker here - but nonetheless a hard worker, ambitious, a life-long striver.

The early death of his more successful penicillin rival ensured Florey ended up showered in honors and a baron, rewards more for his science administration skills than for his science experiments.

But back to Dawson - he might well have had a moderately successful life if he had stayed in Canada after the war - nothing perhaps to ever match the glory of his war record.

But instead he went to booming 1920s New York City, where among other things, he became the person to ever work with DNA in a test tube , ushering in our era of microbiology and also the first to ever inject penicillin into a patient, ushering in our era of antibiotics as well.

A notable second act .

F Scott Fitzgerald would have been proud indeed ....

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Both with 40 million citizens : 1870s' twin industrial giants, Germany and America

It is very, very, very hard for us today in 2015 to put ourselves in the mental mindset of the old men running the world in 1939.

For they had grown up during the heady worldwide high tech industrial boom that began in the 1870s.

That boom was primarily led by the inventions of just two industrial giants, equal to each other in population and scientific knowledge : Germany and America.

For us today can only see that America is more than four times the population of Germany and still growing - while Germany is losing population fast.

But back then both were equal in population with forty million people each.

Those old - badly outdated - childhood memories of when Germany was still equal in population and technology to the USA continued to govern the emotions of the old men who ran the Allies WWII war effort.

They thus greatly overestimated Germany's demographic and industrial strength and gravely underestimated their own.

This led them to avoid an early conventional weapons-based ground assault on Germany using their overwhelmingly superior demographics in favour of a slower (big money but small manpower) air-led assault using supposedly superior and secret technology.

The war thus dragged on needlessly for six bloody years, 75 million died directly and indirectly as a result , Russia did the land assault (albeit badly) and so got most of Europe behind the Iron Curtain - leading to a further 50 years of the Cold War.

A tragedy on so many fronts ....

50,000 Planes & Four Freedoms : FDR's "Double V" victory over Hitler

The little known "Four Freedoms Park" at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York harbour (roughly directly across from the UN buildings) reveals a very unexpected - and highly emotional - visual motif, when viewed from  above.

"Double V" victory motif in double lines of trees

The four acre park narrows at its southernmost end - forming a natural "V for Victory".

But what only an aerial shot reveals, is that the two low key and dignified paths, each through a double line of trees, leading up from the tip to the monument itself, together form a visual "Double V".

The Double V Campaign was formally begun in 1942 by some black Americans to see that the sought-after military victory over Nazi ideas abroad was matched by a political and moral victory over the same kind of ideas at home.

In the short term it was a failure, but in the longer term it proved decisive ----- just as soon as FDR and the other Allied leaders belated realized that old fashioned morale was at least as important as new fangled high technology in winning wars.

For in mid May 1940, FDR had opened his campaign against Hitler abroad and American isolationists at home (still a majority of American voters) by talking exclusively about the urgent need for a high tech solution (his famous claim that America would produce 50,000 planes a year !) to protect the Americas from a sneak invasion by European or Pacific Ocean aggressors.

America would produce 50,000 airplanes annually - an all by itself aeroplane autarky - a go-it-alone effort to remain both safe from aggression and yet remain free from entangling coalitions with other human beings.

But now in early January 1941, less than six months later, FDR promised the world a victory goal all (I will repeat that : "all") people on Earth should be assured of : his even more famous Four Freedoms Campaign.

For now FDR was actually seeking those entangling coalitions with other beings !

Three of the freedoms FDR sought were pretty conventional in all such speeches ---- freedom of religious belief, freedom of speech and freedom from fear.

The fourth was an eye-opening, particularly coming from private-enterprise dominated American culture : freedom from want.

So under the leadership of FDR and a very reluctant Anglo-American coalition, all the people in the world (black, red, yellow as well as white, poor as well as rich) would enjoy a minimum amount of food, heat, health and housing, without fear of lynchings or pogroms.

In FDR's defence (tongue firmly in cheek), it was Hitler who had first upped the ante.

For the past century, the civilized world had said (and largely believed) that all people were entitled to the vote and to equality before the courts ------provided .

Provided they were educated enough, middle class enough, white enough, male enough --- etc, etc.

This then allowed them to tell themselves that yes indeed, a few blacks were highly intelligent and honest.

But a good deal more were intelligent but sneaky, while the vast majority of them were doomed - by genetics - to be forever simple, slow and childlike.

They had similar arguments designed to dismiss the few women, Asians and Jews that slipped past the guards and made a name for themselves.

Hitler - ever a lover of simple absolutes - said, among many more similar absolutes, that all blacks - without fail - were genetically stupid.

Now FDR could only effectively refute Hitler's absolute by producing one of his own : that all, regardless of their current educational attainment or genetic endowment , were entitled to the basic dignities of life.

For FDR could hardly claim that it was very wrong to lynch mixed race black children in the Rhine region of Germany but not wrong to lynch them in the American state of Georgia.

50,000 Planes & Four Freedoms' Double V victory

Progress inside America with regards to human rights for all kinds of minorities and majorities (women !) has, since that January 1941 speech, been forever tied to America's determination to lead the world .

That leadership hasn't been assured by the modern day equivalent of those famous 50,0000 planes : America's unique control over first, atomic bombs, and then over the best in nuclear bomb delivery technology.

Americans can't really spend their days pretending to threaten to kill all the citizens of various small nations with an all-out nuclear attack, unless they permit a few more American TV series to appear on those nations' TV screens.

They need to win their 'hearts and minds' instead.

But just as soon as the American diplomatic corps point to America's fairly good record of human rights treatment - in relative terms to the rest of us -- critics abroad seize upon the abundant American human rights shortfalls.

In any other country, such foreign criticism of internal domestic conditions would be worth a dish of warm spit - but not so for a nation ever yearning to lead the free world.

So against the Nazis, the Communists and now against ISIS, for 75 years, the USA has fought a very public battle to win world opinion, with one hand tied behind its back by domestic reactionaries --- a public embarrassment that American human activists have exploited time and gain to eke out small victories.

The other Manhattan Project : share-with-all penicillin

But in the Fall of 1940, before FDR's second speech, one American (Martin Henry Dawson), had already begun to ensure that preparing for Total War Medicine won't be the excuse to end the ongoing Social Medicine effort to see that all - regardless of health, race or class - received as much life-saving health care as could be provided.

His historic first injections of penicillin into the arms of two "4Fs of the 4Fs" , black Aaron Leroy Alston and jew Charles Aronson, both suffering from invariably fatal Rheumatic Heart Disease (the Polio of the Poor), deliberately happened on October 16th 1940 -  Draft Registration Day - a day dedicated to America's 1As.

Unlike FDR, Dawson didn't give a speech -- but his finger pointing upwards along the barrel of the hypodermic needle as he pushed out all the air just before the injection was a symbolic 'up yours' to reactionaries at home as well as abroad ...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Male chosen to head up 1965 NY World's Fair's "World of Tomorrow" had to be born in the Victorian Era...

Lawrence R Samuel's book, "THE END OF THE INNOCENCE" re-assessing the much-overlooked NY World's Fair of 1964-1965, is a goldmine of telling little anecdotes.

Samuel, for example, notes that the application requirements issued in October 1959 for the top 'man' leading the fair (no women need apply), had to be between fifty and sixty - almost by definition pushing any successful applicant to a birth before Edward VII's August 1902 coronation ended the Victorian Era.

In the end the timid hiring committee rescued caution from the wind and went with a man not merely born in the Victorian Era , but in fact a fully formed teenager of the nineteenth century : Robert Moses !

The irony was that Robert Kopple, the father of two young preteen daughters who had gotten the idea of a second NY World's Fair going, did so because he felt the young were ill informed about the world they were about to become the future leaders of.

Mr Kopple made it abundantly clear that the seventy something Moses, a true man of yesterday, wasn't the best person to tell young teenagers all about the world of tomorrow -  and Mose made sure Kopple got 'fired' for his efforts.

The problem was that Moses was born in 1888 while the target audience for a 1965 fair oriented to evoking the near future was probably a teenager born in 1949 more than 60 years later.

So Mose's personal vision for the Fair (a sort of Trivoli Gardens moved a few thousand kilometres west of Copenhagen) was far, far out of date.

For what had been once considered hip (for Mose's grandparents) was now less than hip to Mose's grandchildren.

Never no mind : in August 1965, the Beatles were also in the same neighbourhood at the same time (just across Roosevelt Avenue at in the brand new Shea Stadium), humming a very different tune....

Brutalism : Plenticidial Architecture, at war against the plentitude of variety, diversity, fecundity

Modernist Brutalism was architecture's own Hungerplan East, West, North and South.

A plan to eliminate worldwide all those oddball little gargoyles and spandrels that cluttered up the seamless streamlined moderne eugenic vision of simple, certain, eternal perfection.

There was to be no place for the oddball and the handicapped on this Voyage into the Future : on either humanity itself or on its material culture...

What if God was an architect ?

What if the God with an inordinate fondness for beetles (400,000 species and counting, so far) was an architect of domestic buildings : what would those homes look like ?

I suggest that they would look very much like the intensely polychromed and extremely variegated exuberant homes of the Victorian Era.

What Americans tend to call "the Painted Ladies" and we here in Nova Scotia know as "Gingerbread Houses".

And if Hitler was an actual architect and not just an architect manque, what would his homes all look like ?

I suggest they would be the concrete,steel and glass equivalents of Leni Riefenstahl's all-lookalike photographs of the ideal human figure.

Figures all alike in their perfect prime of youth : tall and fit with symmetrical features :  rendered in concrete as eternally perfect , frozen in their vigorous youth thanks to either Riefenstahl's stills camera or Speer's massive concrete.

Very 'Thirties' indeed : smooth, seamless, streamlined, moderne.

Function following form - no 'useless' decorations or 'flawed 'gargoyles.

No Romas, no Jews, no Handicapped or Gays : biological synthesis would render a perfect human species and eugenic plenticide would eliminate any mistakes.

In a word : modernist, brutalist architecture : smooth, hard, cold : the ideals of eugenics captured forever in grey grey concrete, glass and steel.

It is not at all a coincidence that when architect Le Corbusier was born in 1887, so was the Age of Modern Scientism and that when he died in 1965, so did it.

For it was his eugenic architectural ideas that can be seen dominating both the 1939-1940 and 1964-1965 New York World's Fairs, sites where his vision of a smooth, grey, perfect World of the Future was most widely propagated .

For there was no sign of 400,000 different kinds of beetles - and no God either - at either of these two Fairs ....

Monday, March 9, 2015

What if US Baby Boom was 1927-1940 not 1946-1959 ?

I believe the commonly held view ( held particularly by academics) about the importance of the increase in the number of postwar babies decades is widely misplaced.

Instead, what is really important in when exactly these children were born and raised up.

Because what really separated these kids from their slightly older siblings, parents and grandparents was that these kids (and these kids alone) did not personally experience firsthand the messy complexity of WWII and instead only got it second hand and prettied-up, from teachers and popular myths.

Let us - for the sake of argument - assume that the same numbers of new births had happened in the the period from 1929 to 1940 rather than from 1946 to 1959.

Would this earlier boom have meant that these boomers too would march for human rights for blacks, Jews, gays, women, American Indians and the physically challenged as soon as they reached their late teenage years ?

I doubt it ---- WWII really changed things and it was thus inevitable that the post WWII kids - whether born in a big bundle or in a tiny number - would still have rose up against the nasty prewar beliefs than many of the adults around them till held.

Postwar kids truly says it all - at least for me - and I was one of them...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sixth Extinction is a Guy Thing

Because 'Man' (with-a-penis) faces a stark existential choice over the Sixth Extinction : attempt autarky without Mother Nature or embrace commensality with Mother Nature...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

35 word Elevator Pitch about a thesis

Why do so few thesis end up as the basis of mega billion dollar Hollywood blockbusters, Emmy-winning TV series, enduring Broadway musicals or global chart-topping hit songs ?

Just maybe, because after working on a thesis for ten solid years, their authors find it hard to reduce it all to a mere ten second and thirty five word elevator pitch.

But here it goes anyway :

Manhattan's Janus-headed "Double V" victory (atomic bomb autarky vs penicillin commensality) that ended the last global disaster (WWII), still hobbles the boomer generation as they now lead our world and must confront the new global disaster, the Sixth Extinction.

Wartime Harlem got its "Double V" victory --- sort of

WWII's famous "Double V" campaign --- a military victory over Axis evil abroad and a moral victory in truly welcoming human diversity at home -- was led mainly by black Americans - many of them from Harlem.

Most black Americans back then (and most historians today) think the campaign basically failed.

But the story on the ground in Harlem itself, a story told from the point of view of the Nash Building and the Lutheran Hospital, suggests a different and more ambiguously hopeful story.

What capped the overseas military victory, in most peoples' eyes, was the autarky-oriented American-only atomic bomb dropped over Japan, based on gaseous diffusion technology developed at Harlem's Nash building.

(A technology that produced most of the world's cold war nuclear weapons that still threatens our world.)

Despite this effort being set in Harlem, only one black American, scientist James Forde, worked in that building, helping perfect the Bomb's technology.

 This was a clear sign of the wartime Allies' failure to practise at home the kind of acceptance of human diversity that they preached in their overseas propaganda.

But a few hundred metres away from the Nash, at Harlem's old Lutheran Hospital, a happier story was being played out.

For just days after the July 1943 Harlem Riots revealed to the world the Allies' racial divide, a young crippled Italian-American surgical resident broke all the rules to try and save the life of a dying baby named Patty Malone.

After twelve shamefully silent years, the good news story of potent life-saving powers of penicillin finally broke wide, virtually overnight: broke Stateside and Worldwide.

That young doctor, Dante Colitti, was inspired by the example of another crippled (in fact dying) doctor from his own neighbourhood -- Nova Scotia born and raised Martin Henry Dawson.

Dr Dawson worked at the world famous Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre, just a little further up the hill from the Lutheran Hospital.

Since September 1940 he had been growing his own hospital-brewed penicillin, to try save young patients with invariably fatal SBE - patients that the wartime Allies sentenced to death by not-so-benign neglect, because they deemed them not of military or economic significance.

SBE was also a disease that disproportionally hit minorities and immigrants the hardest - 'The Polio of the Poor'.

(These two facts are not coincidental .)

Dawson had given the world's first injections of penicillin, ushering in our present Age of Antibiotics, to a black from Harlem and to a Jew from the Bronx.

This too was not coincidental .

It was Dawson's way of protesting  the medical elite's determination to use the claim of war necessity as an excuse to ignore the illnesses of the poor, not to heal them.

He wanted to save these SBE patients for their own sakes --- but also to put teeth into the Allies' claim that they were committed to the welfare of all humanity unlike the uncaring Axis.

It was Dawson's way of seeing that the victory over the Axis abroad was hastened by - and matched by - a moral victory over hatred at home.

Dawson won his fight - Allied attempts to patent penicillin and limit its wartime use to only those they deemed worthy to receive it failed.

Thanks to Dawson and Colitti, wartime penicillin was mass produced in Brooklyn and send worldwide, in a Christ-like spirit of 'open commensality', to try and save all those dying for lack of it - whether white or dark, rich or poor, friend or enemy.

I believe that it is past due time that Harlem re-examined its significant role in 1945's ambiguous "Double V" victories.

Because the mixed lessons those twin victories sent out to postwar kids everywhere still shapes our now boomer-led world, as it faces another global crisis in the SIXTH EXTINCTION ...