Friday, October 30, 2015

HFAx2 : IV pour une planete troublee

Is my blog title fully bilingual, in that oh so tiresome Canadian way where basically the same words are repeated twice over with only a few additional "e"s and accents ?

God no !

HFAx2 : IV for a planet troubled, the blog's title, is rendered only in English ---- but its English-only words and syntax has been carefully chosen to be understandable by any francophone.

As the title to this particular post suggests, I could have just as easily decided to render it in French, without fearing that anglophones couldn't understand it...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

IV for a troubled world - 100% solution - stat

The 1/3 solution simply isn't strong enough to save our troubled world, already facing the sad human consequences, in ports all along the African shore of the Mediterranean, of global warming and species / habitat loss.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

THIS Trudeau wants to hustle...your vote

Remember just how often much ballyhooed "reforms" turn out to be a big step backwards, not a small step forward?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

FPTP nations : false majorities & war coalitions

The very worst nations on earth at building inclusive coalitions to quickly and properly solve a global crisis - to judge by their (non) actions during the last global crisis (WWII) and the current global crisis (global warming and species loss) - are our oldest democracies.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mark of an inclusive society is inclusive voting

The hallmark of any society that claims to be truly inclusive is IV, inclusive voting systems that are truly open to the diversity of voter choice, truly open to supporting the diversity of humanity.

Only then can that society also fairly claim to be truly open to supporting and protecting the diversity of Nature.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

35% support, 50% voting = 100% power

Calls for a more inclusive, Big Tent, society have been timeless.

Women wanted in, Immigrants, Aboriginals and Visible Minorities wanted in, the Physically Challenged and LGBT wanted in, Youth wanted in.

The West wanted in.

They all got in.

And now it is the turn of the 2/3 of voters who find no voice in Parliament for their vote.

"The 2/3 wants in !"

The inspiration for HFAx2

As a kid, I was convinced WWII only ended because the small penicillin molds began saving kids faster than the Big People could bomb or burn them.

And why not?

As an adult, I discovered that Dr Henry Dawson and Dr Josef Mengele, from vastly opposing moral positions, had totally upended pre-war notions of "Progress" and put the fatal post into Modernity.

When does media say 39% is not a majority ?

In the case of Canada, it is whenever the NDP or the Bloc or (heavens !) the Greens - and not the traditional two biggest/oldest parties - gets a majority of the legislative seats, based upon 39% or less of the popular vote.

Yet in fact, the last true majority at the Canadian national level was almost sixty years ago (!!!!), when Conservative John Diefenbaker got support from 54% of the 80% of the electors who turned out to vote.

voter civil rights - or voter CIVIL DISO

Inclusive societies that care about all their citizens and an inclusive world that cares about all lifeforms begin with an IV (inclusive) voting system that secures proportional representation in parliament for all voters.

The environment needs IV and stat !

Friday, October 23, 2015

Civil Rights for voters ?

For over two hundred years inclusion-minded humanity has assumed that merely extending the right to vote to this or that group (the middle class then working class then women then minorities then the young) was the limits of the possible civil rights for voters.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

NS: Green 4.3%, NDP 6.0%

As dismal as Nova Scotians' votes were for the fourth place Greens in this week's Canadian election, the third place party, the NDP, wasn't granted much more.

If the Green Party's leadership and 90% of its membership weren't totally obsessed with propping up FPTP by electing 16 MPs on just 5% of the national vote, Greens in NS might actually have capture some third place finishes over the NDP....

Why Elizabeth May should resign

The Tories are doing it, the Bloc is doing it, the NDP should be doing it - and so too should the Greens.

Maybe even the birds and the bees are doing it, too. (Ooops - that's Makin' Whoopee !)

Time for all the grey haired Baby Boomers at the top of each of those parties to pass on the reins of power to a new generation of Tories, BQs, NDPers and Greens, as this week's successful Liberals have already done.

Elizabeth May's Plan to Save FPTP !

You could kiss goodbye any hope for Proportional Representation (PR) voting in Canada, ever, if Green Party leader Elizabeth May's plan to elect 16 Green MPs in the recent Canadian election had succeeded.

For if the party could elect that many MPs (mostly from BC) and thus win crucial "Official Party Status" in Parliament, on a national vote of only about five percent*, why continue the fight for PR voting ?

*Five percent nationally made up of about 35% of the vote in 16 ridings and about 3% in other 310 ridings, and about 7% in the remaining few.

If FPTP is so self evidently not broke, others could then ask, 'why then fix it, Ms May ?!'

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"NEW" democrat Mulcair in '50s apparatchik suit

An astute Conservative political observer I know urgently phoned me about a year ago to tell me of his unfavourable impressions of Canadian Leader of the Opposition Tom Mulcair's style of dress.

He felt it (and it alone) was going to kill Mulcair's party's chances at the next Canadian general election.

(To remind future historians: Tom Mulcair was the former leader of Canada's permanently in third place democratic socialist party.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Climate Deniers' & Trudeau's AV voting

Brand new PM-elect Justin Trudeau got elected partially by advocating a shift to AV voting, simply because it appeared to address growing popular calls for fairer elections but actually would only increase the number of 'false majorities' long enjoyed by his Liberal Party.

But post-coitus, voters should realize that virtually all leading climate deniers are as pro FPTP/AV as Trudeau and then ask themselves, Why?

FPTP's "political climate" destroys real Climate

A toxic political climate is inevitably produced by FPTP voting because this system awards winner-take-all aggression directed against the parties that (ironically) are closest to your party in values.

"The Two Thirds want IN, not AV"

Any Canadian prime minister with a majority of the seats in Canada's parliament is probably the most powerful figure in democratic politics anywhere in the world but all that power is (ironically/perversely) based upon the narrowest victories at the ballot box in the whole world !

Monday, October 19, 2015

One Third Solution not strong enough

The strongest restraint on serious movement to end climate change is the fact that 1% of the population, in every nation, controls the vast majority of the dynamic investment capital and hence controls the economy and restrains any bold government action.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Civil Disobedience to secure electoral PR ?

Some of the world's leading nations are without proportional representation (PR) in their parliamentary electoral system. They also, by no coincidence, lead the way in opposing real action to prevent the sixth extinction and runaway global warming.

Coalitions, not Guns, won WWII

In the end, WWII was decided for the Allies only because the Axis coalition (cum gated community) proved to be much smaller than that of the Allies and very much less united.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The One Percent's solution is not strong enough

Our planet's biosphere is in a hell of a mess and the solutions proposed by The One Percent aren't strong enough to clean it up.

(Particularly as The One Percent is exactly who got us into this disaster in the first place !)

'Help From All : Hope For All' (HFA : HFA) (HFAx2)

We need to urgently crowd source possible fixes - we need the new ideas that only a full-strength 'one hundred percent solution' can provide.

We need the human equivalent of the microbes' HGT - we need everybody helping each other collectively find some answers to our global crisis.

We can't overlook a possible humanity-saving solution just because the person with the idea wears a niqab, or might be a three year old terrorist bobbing on a Turkish beach, or isn't from 'Old Stock'.

Solutions to humanity's crisis can't be a gated community , with everybody given an Aryan Level Three blood test before being allowed inside.

Because, after all, the benefits of success will help us all.

And the fallout from failure will drift down on all of us too.

Make  "Help From All : Hope For All"  your favourite meme...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Marrying a woman without seeing her face ?!

If granting citizenship to niqab wearing (but previously bare face revealing) woman makes grown men wet their pants, just try imagining a grown man marrying a woman who doesn't show her face until the priest says "you may now kiss the bride" after the legal and religious part of the ceremony had concluded.

Mis-reporting bacterial resistance

Too many popular science journalists badly mis-report the reasons why bacterial resistance to a brand new antibiotic can be widespread in even the remotest parts of the world only a few years later.

Draft, Antibiotics : 75 Years Young Today !

On October 16th 1940, seventy five years ago today, began two world-shaking processes that have continued ever since --- processes so important that one must ask why then that the MSM (mainstream media) is still ignoring these important twin anniversaries.

Read Green, as well as vote it?

Like all green minded voters, I am forced to read the bad news of the daily gutting of the planet (on the front page) from the very media corporations leading the intellectual charge promoting that gutting (on their business and editorial pages).

They are DINOSAURS --- and we all know the survival track record of past dinosaur groups - why should these dinosaurs' advice prove anymore sage ?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lady Montagu jumps Harper's bones

The sight of millions of western men fearing that the young lady behind her niqab is going to suicide bomb them is very very new, historically speaking.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Don't vote Trudeau : crack, whores, gutted PD

Okay, so its just Stephen Harper and twelve million Canadian Conservative voters tripping out on bad acid that actually believe that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals will open suburban government brothels and force corner stores to sell "illegal" drugs and needles.

But Trudeau gutting PD like a fish --- that's all 110% true.

Higher Tolerance or Higher Taxes

Here in Nova Scotia taxes are very high mostly because a shrinking taxpayer base (the young gone west, the rest mostly retirees) must pay to maintain a vast and priceless resource : the sunk costs in expenditures made to human infrastructure, during over five hundred years of European settlement.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Disunity of Science

If you believe that a small simple fixed set of laws of nature governs everything and everyone in the Cosmos, now, in the past and in the future (and I don't*) then it follows we can reduce each and every problem or crisis down to one - and only one - correct solution.

Physically small but Morally big

Despite its nickname, the other ("Big Tent") Manhattan Project was actually physically quite small, but morally as big as could be.

Monday, October 12, 2015

ConBloc axis of evil

Polls today are suggesting that Stephen Harper might win as many as 150 seats, Gilles Duceppe as many as twenty seats - combined (and combined they will be, if only momentarily) they form a bare majority in the Canadian parliament !

The Unsavable & the Unspeakable

One can have easily predicted that Dawson's wartime Manhattan Project would (a) seek to help the much neglected chronically ill among the minority poor by (b) using similarly neglected microbes to do so.

Big Tent coalitions must exceed their grasp

Every metaphorical 'Big Tent solution' or 'Big Tent coalition' is really very much like the original and distinctly physical circus Big Tent.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

'Sharing like a Microbe'

Sharing is not something we ever associate with germs - we think it is us contagious humans who share the infectious diseases caused by germs.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Open Source Genetics

Charles Darwin was the first person to ever use the legal term "inheritance" to describe the passing of (parts of) both parents genomes down to their natural children.

Darwin's unexpectedly smooth success with his theories of Evolution came about because he let the upper class middle class - people like himself - have their cake and eat it too.

His theory reconciled the competing values of social stability versus social mobility, at a time of heightened social instability in Victorian England.

Basically the upper middle class wanted enough social mobility to let their family rise to the top and then enough social stability to let them stay there forever !

On average, the many children of typical Victorian parents who had earned their wealth the hard way, held onto their exalted social position in the second generation merely because of their parents' wealth, rather than through all of them emulating their parents' brains and work ethic.

And this made the Victorian society very uncomfortable.

But now these kids could claim that they had inherited dad's genetic strength in brainpower and work power, not merely his money, and use this to account for their exalted social status.

His genes made them the fittest and it was his genes, not his money, than made their survival at the top of the social scale a inevitable fact of natural law.

To repeat, in the vertical form of genetics as practised by all life but the microbes, Mom and Dad's superior genes were not for global sharing, but for their natural children alone.

Inheritance talk extended to copyrights and patents 

In the same way, any inventions those superior genes might dream up remained their inventor's alone - in the form of copyrights, patents and brand trademarks.

Narrow, vertical inheritance of genes and patents: the genetics and the economics of exclusion.

Those that had power kept right on gaining more power - those who had money kept right on making more money.

A self-replicating aristocracy : gated community genetics : the one percent, the WASPs.

Thinking Like A Macrobe

But in a time of global crisis (say WWII or climate change) relying upon the brains and hard work of just the one percent may be a recipe for global disaster : we need the brains and hard work of all of the other 99%.

So should humans look to Nature, pick between the vertical "gated" genetics of the dinosaurs or the horizontal "open source" genetics of the microbes ?

The 'Appeal to Nature' , the claim that something comes from Nature, to support a human "should" argument, is always intellectually suspect.

Philosophers call this appeal a Fallacy, one of their worst sins in the practise of argumentation.

But if we nevertheless politely insist that we should at least look at the statistical evidence from nearly four billion years of Life on Earth, we can see that statistically, the giant dinosaurs were much much less successful in evolutionary terms than the tiny microbes.

We them must struggle to account for this unexpected result that seemingly refutes the claim that 'Bigger is always Better' and 'God always on the side of the Big Battalions'.

It won't hurt, I argue, for us to see if the very different forms of genetic inheritance between these two types of beings might account for their widely varying success rate in times of global crisis.

A global crisis, I would argue, is not normal - by definition.

Normal, conventional, ways of thinking, normal conventional leaders just can't adapt quick enough or engage deeply enough.


We need to pull in all the oddball ideas from all the oddballs out there - just as the microbes do when crisis and stress makes them deliberately get careless in their DNA copying - suddenly producing lots of totally new mutated genes.

In sufficient numbers, one of those many oddball new genes will produce the needed solution.

Next, the individual microbes release these new genes into the environment for any other microbe to take up, adapt or to pass on in turn to other microbes.

And so forth - its called HGT.

And HGT has let the microbes live almost four billion years here on Earth. 

By contrast, the dinosaurs, like the WASP one percent who run our world today, could only act in times of crisis in the narrow silos of conventional rote.

But truly new ideas come from truly new people.

"Yes, and not our kind of people," sniffs the one percent as they quickly reject these ideas, simply because they came from a woman wearing a niqab.

"Thinking Like A Microbe"

So only the growing Open Source movement, which basically by-passes the mental gatekeeping of the one percent, lets the ideas of the other 99% see the light of day and spread via the internet all around the world, to anyone who can use and improve upon them.

Only by moving to Open Source thinking, only by 'thinking like a microbe', will we solve our environmental crisis and help prevent the sixth mass extinction.

If not, prepare to quickly become the next dinosaurs, Humanity !

Open Source 'artisan' penicillin

Dr Henry Dawson well understood that creating a "Big Tent coalition of all possible talents" to win the moral and military war against the Axis really meant letting the small and the powerless inside the tent, both as those to be helped and those doing the helping.

After all everybody knew that the big and the powerful were already inside the tent, were always already there.

Dawson had already selected those he felt would be a potent symbol of those not being helped in the Axis+Allied rush to deify the big and the fit over the small and the unfit.

SBE patients from working class minorities, considered to be unworthy of any scarce wartime medical care : the very '4Fs of the 4Fs'.

Dawson's next decision was to employ the tiny penicillium cells to make his pioneering systemic penicillin, instead of using man-made artificial penicillin made in huge factories.

This also would be serve as a potent symbol of what good can happen when small helpers were allowed to join the war effort.

Finally Dawson knew the that the resulting natural penicillin made by the small penicillium could be made by small teams of researchers on the cheap.

And thus they could remain independent of government, university and foundation authorities trying to centralize all penicillin research into one big group-thinking agency such as had happened with atomic research.

Natural penicillin could do this for two reasons : one technical and the other legal.

It proved much easier and certainly much cheaper to make clinical natural penicillin on a very small"artisan" scale (ultimately even on an ordinary domestic kitchen table) than to try to synthesize it with a mess of pungent and dangerous chemicals in high pressure, high temperature chemical reactors.

Most importantly, natural penicillin was inherently open source and PD (public domain) : it could not be patented and hence controlled by Big Pharma and Big Government (as happened with atomic research).

Any medical researcher in the world who truly cared about saving the dying right now (never as many as you might think) could make clinical natural penicillin and for a time in late 1943 and early 1944, it seemed they all were.

Small patients, small helpers from Nature, small human helper teams : working together to give a war-torn world the best possible boon : the gift of life.

Penicillin certainly helped the Allied military effort, though less than the myth claims.

However its biggest effect was on the longstanding Allied effort to create a 'moral coalition' of all the world's people against the evil of the Axis ideology.

In late 1943, the Allies began to fly some of their now abundant natural penicillin (thanks to Dawson and Pfizer) around the world to save the lives of small children in Neutral countries.

This act finally convinced a hitherto skeptic world about the Allies' moral worthiness.

Now that they finally saw some flesh put on the Allies' high blown but hollow rhetoric of their moral superiority over the Axis.

If penicillin had been patented like the atomic bomb, this pax penicillia would never have left the starting gate in WWII.

Chalk another one up for the virtues, practical and moral, of the open source movement ...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Gated Hate and Boundless Hope

When Canada's first elected Jewish politician, Ezekiel Hart, tried to take his seat in Parliament back in 1808, he was kicked out - something was covering his head, the more conservative minded MPs complained.

But Jews are still in Canada, still running for Parliament.

As are Moslems.

And the country is better off for having both of them here.

Hate (shoutout to Stephen Harper !) is a gated community, an inbred, idea-less, declining community.

Instead, to sustain hope of human survival, humanity must adopt the 'share and share alike' microbial HGT attitude to possible solutions.

We can't actually take up the microbial 'Horizontal Gene Transfers' method, but the human equivalent is equally good, albeit social/cultural in nature rather than genetic.

 Call our form of HGT,  'Human "Gen" Transfers'.

Words like Open Access and Public Domain must replace the use of excessive copyrights, patents and brandnames to control and destroy possible solutions to our looming environmental crisis.

But to make it work as well as the microbes' proven survival success via their HGT, humanity must know no frontiers, borders, barriers or gates.

We must become a Big Tent Coalition of all possible talents, seeking any and every possible solution, regardless of what headdress the proposer is wearing...

Hate's frontiers keeps new ideas out

Briton (cum Canadian cum American) Anglo Saxon Supremacist Peter Brimelow and Australian (cum British cum Canadian) dog whistle wedge electioneer Lynton Crosby are the past and present intellectual inspirations for Canadian politician Stephen Harper.

As Conservative Prime Minister, Harper is currently leading the meanest, nastiest, most hate-filled election campaign in his country in almost 100 years.

One has to go back to an earlier Conservative Prime Minister led campaign, that of the wartime election of 1917 , to find such bile and naked hatred.

That too was an election campaign based upon racist definitions of just who was or was not a 'real Canadian' and was deliberately designed to set the vast country's religions, ethnicities, regions, classes and genders at each others' throats.

To Prime Minister Borden's government, conservative middle class WASPs could be trusted to be patriotic --- but everyone else were suspect.

Ironically, it took almost seventy years before some sections of Canada began to trust the Conservative Party itself again.

The Canadian who won't receive a Nobel Prize : Aylan Kurdi

There is one fundamental reason why America, a nation about the same size as Canada, has about a million times more intellectual and cultural impact upon the world : its historic attitude to incoming new ideas.

For all its many many faults, America remains much more open to new ideas and that means they must - however reluctantly - also be open to the new people who hold them.

That American attitude now has to go international if humanity is to survive the immense global climate and environmental crisis it has created for itself and Mother Nature.

No, take that back.

What's called for is a far far Bigger Big Tent than that.

We need to look at how microbial HGT, a truly frontier-less approach to (literally !) 'taking up' new ideas has kept the microbes on Earth for almost four billion years.

Surviving almost four billion years worth of truly global disasters on a scale that humanity has thankfully been, so far, unable to imitate.

Perhaps the tiny, stupid, helpless bugs are onto something...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Digital Niqabs of angry male commentators

What names and personalities lies behind the physical niqabs of the few young women who wear them in public in Canada ?

Hard to tell.

What names and personalities lie behind the virtual cum digital niqabs adopted by hundreds of thousands of (the usually) angry men who have taken to the comments sections of online media to rail against physical niqabs ?

Even harder to tell.

I grew up long after the tradition of  18th and 19th century newspaper "letters to the editor" being signed by obviously made up names to retain the writer's anonymity.

In my youth, letters to the editor displayed the writer's full name, their community name and sometimes even their street address - all carefully confirmed by the paper's editorial staff.

I know well - having written many such letters and having been carefully vetted each time.

But nowadays, using a virtual avatar name is almost universal  for the writers in mass media comment sections ----  or even when signing off on personal Twitter blasts.

And to call a spade a spade in the good old angry white anglo saxon protestant way, those avatars are effectively digital niqabs --- the right wing equivalent of all those Guy Fawkes masks used by left wing protesters on the streets these days.

Now the young women in niqabs are truly trying to remain anonymous - they are not attempting to have their cake and eat it too, retaining their anonymity in public while also claiming to be "the voice of the silent (sic!) majority."

Actually they're now a minority and this is the reason for their angry panicky tone.

Pure Laine WASPs or Quebecers without any mixed ancestry are now as rare as hen's teeth and it isn't due  simply to an inflow of new non-WASP immigrants either.

Rather it is because that since the Sixties, young WASPs, Pure Laines francopones and Aryans all over the world are marrying outside of their ethnic blessed circle.

(As are young Jews too , for that matter - in all ethnic groups, romantic love is trumping parental concerns to keep the bloodlines pure.)

While pure laine WASPs may still be marrying, they're not having many babies - it is  almost easier to get a pair of Pandas to breed than it is to get pure laine WASPs to breed.

Stephen Harper has always maintained that WASP supremacist Peter Brimelow's PATRIOT GAMES was a key influence on his political views and the latest Conservative election ads using niqabs as a wedge issue certainly confirms this.

Irony is generally lost on the Harperites (or in fact on most Canadian journalists) so their use of digital niqabs to rail against physical niqabs has gone completely un-noted....

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Open Source equivalents to microbial HGT

There are many reasons for the microbes not just surviving on this planet for four billion years but also dominating it.

For instance, they tolerate individual microbes that many of us would consider 'defective' and 'life unworthy of life' if they were human.

They don't try to remove them via eugenic programs (sorry can't use that term today, I meant of course via genetic programs.)

In fact, in times of existential crisis, they produce way more of these freaks and misfits, hoping against hope that they come up with a new way to survive.

Resting assured that it will be freely and quickly passed from one microbe to another around the world via HGT.

"With help from all, there is hope for all" and the microbes survive their latest crisis to live to see another billion years.

But we primitive 21st century humans are limited to just some of the genome of  Mom and Dad --- we live in the closely guarded genetics of exclusion.

Genes treated as if  private intellectual property.

You know : near-century long copyright lengths, patent wars, billion dollar brand names, hotly defended trade marks, closely licensed logos.

Microbes, by contrast, have a sort of free library card at the global lending library of usually useless but now really useful genes, via a process where genetic material from one individual is dumped in the common living area for all to take up and pass on, freely.

Its called HGT (horizontal gene transfer) and it is the genetics of inclusion.

A human equivalent ?

Public Domain, copyleft, open access, open data, open source.

So, for an example, thanks to Dr Martin Henry Dawson and Pfizer's John l Smith, penicillin was and remains Public Domain : anyone can make it and anyone can buy it and use it to save lives.

Ten billion of us since 1940 better off thanks to a sort of herd immunity this gave us from once endemic fatal infections.

Some microbes and fungi originally spread the ability to make penicillin via HGT.

And even more still spread the ability to resist penicillin, also via HGT.

C'est la vie ...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

HGT a model for humanity's survival ?

Incredibly small, usually immobile, fragile bags of mostly water : they hardly sounds like creatures capable of giving advanced human civilization, circa the 21st century, a vital formula for surviving the worst the Cosmos can throw at us.

But for almost four billion years, the supposedly 'stupid' and 'unfit' tiny microbes have not just survived but dominated life on Earth.

I follow people like Dr Martin Henry Dawson and *Dr Lois Almon who, way back before WWII, believed that much of the credit for this unlikely survival success lies in something that these small and the weak creatures have that we big and smart people do not have.

And that is a process we now call HGT, but which Dawson first established under the name of 'bacterial transformation'.

HGT stands for Horizontal Gene Transfers --- 'the genetics of inclusion'.

It usually involves the release of bits of an individual microbe's personal DNA genome into the environment, to be taken up potentially by any other type of microbe near by, who can then pass it on to other species of microbes who are both physically and genetically far more remote from the original individual microbe.

(By contrast, most big creatures can only have access to the DNA genome of their mother and father - not trillions times trillions of other individual microbe genomes.)

The net result is a vast global lending library of survival ideas, with the key concept that every single microbe is both a borrower and an author : "With help from all, there is hope for all".

"What's the Gen ?"

I have a weakness for WWII ER (enlisted ranks) slang and one of the best was the constant question at a time when rumours rather than hard facts dominated life.

ERs from all services generally greeted each other not with "how you doing?" but rather with an urgent "what's the Gen?".

North Americans today in peacetime might re-phrase it as "what's the scoop?", "what's the score?" or "what's the buzz?".

'Gen' was short for information that might be vital for survival, whether merely surviving the chickenshit of daily military life at the rear bases or surviving bad assignments out on the frontlines.

While we humans sometimes pass valuable "Gen" from person to person, microbes have always passed valuable "Genes" from one to another.

Over almost four billion years, microbes have excelled at producing endless numbers of seemingly 'unfit' and useless gene mutations and at allowing microbes with these oddball genes to survive and reproduce - albeit often at less than optimal population levels.

These genes, like all microbe genes, are routinely released into the environment, for all other microbes to potentially take up with HGT.

Most of the time, there is no point to either the mutated new genes or to their takeup by microbe species genetically far away from the species and strain that first produced them.

Antibiotic resistance is merely the best known example of HGT

But when a new crisis suddenly emerges anywhere in the world - say a new deadly antibiotic produced for the benefit of humanity - in only a handful of years all microbe populations around the world have taken up and then 'expressed' a hitherto obscure (but ancient) gene that offers sturdy resistance to this human antibiotic.

But the weird useless/unfit genes can vary all over the map - why bother with a gene that allows microbes to go into a suspended state of existence when the environment freezes over for thousands of years ?

But that turns out to be very useful when the Earth has become a frozen solid iceball, almost overnight, several times in its history.

And so on and so - no environmental crisis in four billion years (and there has been some real hellish ones) has yet succeeded in wiping the microbes out.

By contrast, evolutionary history suggests that big creatures, practising 'the genetics of exclusion', have had no luck surviving even a small environmental crisis.

We aren't going to survive the latest environmental crisis, not unless we give up the dogwhistle scientific politics of first giving everyone offering to help a blood test to find out if they are WASP enough to be taken seriously.

We need a global coalition of all possible talents, need to make the biggest of all possible Big tents, to get us through this crisis.

This blog is all about creating a human equivalent to microbial HGT...


*Dr Almon thought HGT might account for sudden variations in the nitrogen fixing abilities of bacteria and since almost all life would cease without these efforts, she thought it was well worth looking into.

As a blogger who loves his grub, I fully agree .


The days when we can afford to let the WASP males, perhaps 1% of the world's population, rule (and ruin) this planet are over.

The crisis we face is such way too big, way to existential.

And the WASPs are fading fast - it sometime seems easier to get two Pandas to breed than to get two WASPs to breed.

Instead  of relying exclusively upon their fading numbers, we need the biggest possible of Big Tents, a coalition of 'all the possible talents', 'all hands on deck', if we are to come up with the creative solutions we so desperately need.

What we don't need is blood tests at every frontier guard post to determine if a person is "Pure Laine" enough, Aryan enough, WASP enough, before being allowed in to make their case.

Good ideas that will let humanity survive for a few more thousand years can emerge just as well from under niqabs as those that leisurely filter out from the gated communities and exclusive country clubs.

Nobel to NS-born Dal grad

It is fair to say that Canadian-born scientists have had fewer than expected Nobel Prizes in physics - only two.

Both, interestingly enough, were awarded to scientists born in tiny Nova Scotia.

The latest Nova Scotian Nobel winner, Arthur B MacDonald, was born in Sydney and got his B.Sc and M.Sc at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Dalhousie, which will be marking two hundred years of existence in 2018, is certain to prominently mention MacDonald's Nobel prize as among its achievements over the centuries.

Hopefully, it will also mention the Manhattan-based project of another Dalhousie graduate, Martin Henry Dawson, in its celebrations.

Dawson's pioneering research in revealing the unexpectedly sophisticated abilities of supposedly stupid 'unfit' microbes (HGT,Quorum Sensing etc) and his pioneering efforts to research treatments for the then much neglected chronically ill 'unfit' came together in this wartime project.

Dawson hoped to see wartime penicillin provided-for-all, even for the 'unfit', much against the wishes of the Allied scientific and political hierarchy to only use it for the 'fit'.

And he planned to do so by using 'unfit' microbes rather than 'fit' humans to make it, again very much against the wishes of the Allied hierarchy.

Dawson was dying himself all through this period from a fatal and chronic disease and was pushing his project basically all alone.

Metaphorically turning an ocean liner around, on a dime, is never easy - and the ocean liner that was the Allied war effort in WWII was probably the biggest ocean line of all time.

But this stubborn and brilliant scientist did just that : by 1944, the Allied high command was dancing to his tune when it came to both the production and distribution of wartime penicillin.

His combination of scientific smarts and high moral intent represented, I believe, the best of what Dalhousie traditionally hoped to instil into its graduates...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Allies most reluctant to let the small help out

Dawson offered 'hope for all' --- with 'help from all'

The WASP patricians (FDR and Churchill among many) running the Allied show during WWII could find it embarrassingly hard at times to bend down to help small and weak peoples in desperate need.
But at least this wartime task fitted in with their peacetime traditional notions of patrician obligation to extend charity to others.

What they and their ilk couldn't accept at all was the truly radical idea of accepting charity offers from the weak and the small designed to help them, the rich powerful leaders of rich powerful nations, not to lose the war against the Axis.

So they'd repeatedly indicated they would rather lose the war to fellow white man (Hitler) than win it with masses of darkie infantry troops.

'Share the wealth' with the small via a meagre trickle down, was always much more to their taste than to fully share responsibilities (and power) with the small.

At first glance, Dr Martin Henry Dawson's wartime Manhattan-based project to try and save 'the least of these' in medical priority lists, 'the 4Fs of the 4Fs' (the young patients dying from SBE) seemed to fit in well with the patricians' notions of charity to the weak and small.

This despite the fact that it involved saving a category of patients that the patricians of the medical elite had already decided would be among the first to die by 'benign neglect', as they began triaging the priorities in the Allied war medicine effort.

But Dawson also totally rejected the medical consensus to wait for a medicine made by the white man, even if it only came after the war, rather than use medicine made by Nature's 'darkies of the darkies', the tiny microbes.

He gladly turned to them instead and these small and weak beings successfully made the medicine that saved both the small and weak in wartime and also the healthiest, wealthiest and most powerful among us in peacetime : natural penicillin.

Eighty five years later, we're still waiting for White Man's artificial penicillin and the little darkie bugs are still making natural penicillin and all the other beta lactam antibiotics that form the bulk of our defences against fatal infectious diseases.

If we had instead waiting for the WASPs to get their act together, most of us would have died on infections by now....

Friday, October 2, 2015

Other Manhattan Project is *still* not finished

In late 1943, many people all over the Allied world rightly got very furious when they realized that the new hope that lifesaving penicillin represented was only going to unfaithful husbands and boyfriends who had got a dose of the clap overseas.

Hope without Frontiers

For Dr Henry Dawson's Manhattan-based 'penicillin-for-all' Project which began in the Fall of 1940 actually hoped to do two 'good things', first do something good for all of the small of the world and secondly, to do good by also inviting in all the small of the world to help make it happen.

All this really to make a much larger point to the Allied leadership.

That point was that a military-only approach to defeating the Axis wasn't likely to work, if the Allied coalition remained as small as it was in 1940 and remained as non committal as it was in putting its back into it.

In addition then, the Axis needed to be combatted, the Allies rallied and the Neutrals brought on side by also fighting on the moral front.

And here the world was quite rightly cynical that all of Winston Churchill's high sounding radio rhetoric and all the paper behind FDR's Atlantic Charter was really just 100% NATO : no action, talk only. 

But a "Big Tent" approach, one that honestly sought to invite in all the small and the weak in the world into the Allied effort, as helpers and as people to be helped, would remove that impression.

Penicillin diplomacy, the flying of penicillin around the world to save lives, regardless of their race, gender or social status, would be the quickest (and frankly, the cheapest) way to make that claim credible.

Dawson's unwavering conviction came from his belief that his scientific results was superior to that of the current "pop science" consensus.

That consensus basically held to a view, however cloaked in soft sawder and velvet, of the 'survival of the fit', that might was always right, bigger was always better, God always on the side of the Big Battalions.

This consensus gave anyone of empathy and conscience the resigned sense that, regrettably, the small were Nature's inevitable losers and couldn't be saved even with the best will in the world.

Dawson felt he had a new explanation (what we today call HGT) as to why the small (microbes) were still around two billion years later while the mighty (dinosaurs, for example) were but a passing flash in Nature's pan.

Basically HGT, to put it into human terms, was as if the microbes opened up the biggest of Big Tents in times of crisis, rather than running blood tests on the few they trusted to fight the fight (the human and Allied/Axis approach).

HGT allowed genes traditionally viewed as 'useless' and unused by human researchers, say the ones to allow microbes to resist an antibiotic, to spread very rapidly among all the various and very different microbes species - horizontally.

As result no microbe species is at all pure, all are totally mixed hybrids - and judging by two billion years of survival, all the better for it !

(I might add that the extended penicillin family genes also spread, via HGT, from bacteria to bacteria and then into the fungus family as well.)

Penicillin without borders

Think of HGT as spreading hope throughout the entire microbe world, regardless of borders or frontiers.

It might just be the meme we need to adopt today if the Earth and humanity is to survive human created ecological disaster....

Are WASPs saving or savaging the Earth?

The world's environmental problems are way too big for 5% (or is it 4% or less ?) of the world's population who are WASPs (people like good old like Chip and Buffy down at the old country club) to solve all by themselves.

In fact I think one can argue that it was the WASPs who initially caused most of those problems.

The Republicans' mentally-gated community 

But the Republican Party, the Canadian Conservative party and other fellow travellers aren't dealing with these pressing environmental and climate issues.

They're too busy instead trying to shore up the privileged positions still held by the dwindling number of WASPs in the global Anglosphere and in North West Europe.

Its hopeless really, right from the start, mostly because the WASPs aren't breeding anymore - down to one or none kids per couple.

We simply can't afford to let 5, 4, 3 or 2 percent of the world's brains dominate the solutions to problems that their forebears largely caused.

Conflict of interest, for a start.

But, moreover, what the Earth really needs is a Big Tent of all possible talents working up a set of possible solutions, not some half-baked scheme casually thrown together over drinks inside a shrinking mentally-gated community of aging WASPs.

Because perhaps the best single solution to our global climate disaster might have been inside the head of a little three year old 'terrorist' that the Canadian Conservative Party won't let in and instead left to drown on a Turkish beach...

Red niqab, Orange hair, Harper blue tattoos

The right to wear kool-aid Orange hair, harper Blue tattoos up and down your arms, Green safety pins or a bright Red niqab  ---- I support  a girl's 'right to party' , anyway she wants to

And if I help lose an election for saying that, so be it -------- so fracking be it.

For a truly 'big tent' country should know no frontiers .....

Dawson's 'Penicillin without Frontiers'

If Vannevar Bush and Winston Churchill had had their way, penicillin would have become a secret and exclusive weapon of war, just as DDT and atomic energy became during WWII.

But penicillin escaped this fate, thanks to Dr Martin Henry Dawson's "Big Tent"  Manhattan Project.

Dawson thought that natural penicillin - cheap abundant "PD" penicillin - should be made available to all in the world in need of its lifesaving properties.

Particularly during a total war against a evil Axis.

As a concrete example of how the Allies really were different from Hitler - and not just differing only in their high-sounding (but ultimately hollow) rhetoric.

Doctors without Frontiers didn't emerge formally for twenty five years after Dawson's premature death, but if he had lived, he would have cheered its birth to the rafters....

Janus Manhattan : a Big Tent or a Big Gate ?

Isolationist Manhattan and Isolationist America began right after WWI, when American voters rejected the League of Nations, rejected the idea of the whole world working together as a team, giving their 110%, to solve conflicts and prevent war.

In the mid 1920s, America erected an anti-immigration Big Gate in New York harbour, to keep all sort of darkish people out.

Emma Lazarus's Big Tent Manhattan faded, replaced by Gordon Gekko's Gated Manhattan.

Soon refugees from Hitler's terror were also being kept out, as American Isolationists (the majority of the American population) worked overtime to appease Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Tojo.

Medical Isolationists was also strong trying to defeat Social Medicine on every front.

Basically because Social Medicine advocates, people like Dr Martin Henry Dawson, fundamentally see no borders, trying to help those in need where ever they might be, totally anathema to Isolationists and Appeasers.

Wall Street was even worse on the appeasement front, happily selling Hitler the technology and parts he needed to build his Amerika bomber and A9/A10 to bomb.... Wall Street.

No,isolationist capitalism won't ever bury itself ---- but bomb itself ?

No problem....

Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Dead nations never rise again" ?

When Emma Lazarus read Longfellow's otherwise moving poem about the old Jewish cemetery in Newport, Rhone Island, she hated the concluding line that - with Social Darwinistic finality - flatly stated that dead nations (ie Zion) never rise again.

Emma promptly wrote a poem on the same Newport Jewish cemetery that said, au contraire, America was the new Zion.

I like to think that Dr Henry Dawson caught a little of Emma's determined spirit in his own later Manhattan Project when he told his critics that his (frequently Jewish*) SBEs were 'swimming, not drowning'.....

*By surname, I'm convinced that four of the six SBE patients of his for which we have names, were Jewish...

Manhattan Project was eco disaster #1

If the gameplan of the Manhattan atomic Project is followed once again, foreigners will do most of the heavy lifting while America will gets most of the credit, the profits and the protection.

If we continue to rely on Vannevar Bush's way of thinking, of relying upon good old Chip and Buffy (and Gordie Gekko) down at the good old country club, we'll never solve this crisis.

We need an inclusive effort, not an exclusive one --- we need Emily Lazarus's vision of a Big Tent Manhattan, a coalition of the all the possible talents around the world, to save the whole world.

And let us never forget that the very first man-made global environmental crisis was the global fallout of atomic radiation from that supposedly so wonderful Manhattan atomic Project...

Emily Lazarus's Big Tent Manhattan

Penicillin-for-all was Emily Lazarus's Big Tent Manhattan while the America-only atom bomb was Gordon Gekko's 'greed is good' Manhattan.

Janus Manhattan 1945 : one secret Manhattan project to make an atom bomb only for America and another public Manhattan project to make penicillin for all.

One was Big Science for the few and the other was small science, nay tiny science, "homemade hope', for the many.

Big Tent Manhattan versus Greed is Good Manhattan

It almost was as if the ghosts of Emily Lazarus and Gordon Gekko were duking it out for the soul of Manhattan, America and the world...

A Bomb's foreigners behind bared wire

Allied America was not terribly different from Axis Germany when it came to employing hands and brains from dozens of foreign lands, often behind barbed wire fences, to do the heavy lifting for a super weapon they then had the chutzpah to claim as fully their own.

The atomic bomb project represented one vision of the future of world, one where the many labour so the few can benefit : think of it as country club Manhattan.

Big Tent Manhattan

Dr Henry Dawson also invited the small and the many in to labour on his Manhattan project as well.

But in this case, he worked to ensure that the benefits of that project (natural lifesaving penicillin) went as well to the small and the many, not just to the few that the Allies had originally intended it for.

His vision was of a world consisting of 'coalition of all possible talents' working to benefit all : think of it as Big Tent Manhattan.

So did Janus Manhattan's 1945 beacon shine dividedly forth to a tired and huddled world.

What, in the end, was that beacon to reveal : a vision of a Big Tent for all, be they powerless or powerful ----- or a vision of an exclusive country club, just the powerful ?

ConBloc's Fourth Wave Feminism

Bloc & Cons' older, less educated, rural, conservative, white men oppose niqab because (wait for it !) :  'it oppresses women' !

Not because their deepest nightmare is the thought the darkie immigrants might someday re-populate the lands their aryan ancestors had wrestled away from its darkie aboriginals a century earlier, in a sort of a 'Revenge of the Melanin'.

Rather familiar to anyone writing about the opponents of Dr Martin Henry Dawson, this particular brand of hypocrisy.

As in the Fall of 1940, when American medical Isolationists used the excuse that they were preparing for the possibility of intervening to help the small people of Europe (albeit many years too late), as an excuse to stop intervening to deal with the health issues of the small people of America...