Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fleming - not Florey - spurs American penicillin mass production !

It has been fashionable lately to discount the excessive credit given to Sir Alexander Fleming for bringing us penicillin, particularly in the period between 1944 and 1972.

The counter tendency is now to try to give too much credit to Sir Howard Florey, Fleming's supposed rival for penicillin glory.

Actually, these supposed rivals worked closely quite closely together on British government penicillin committees between 1942 and 1946, sharing a common - if perverted - vision to keep wartime penicillin 'secret, scarce and synthetic'.

growing hope in the depths of WWII, a handful of doctors defeat the Beltway to bring 'penicillin for all'

In early 1943, firmly under the coercive protocol control of elite doctors & scientists in the Beltway's OSRD-CMR and NAS-COC, wartime penicillin was all set to be added to the postwar list of moral calamities thrown up by the Allied effort.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Mahoney uses penicillin 'which had been released to him for other purposes' to cure syphilis

Personally, I believe both published accounts of where exactly Dr John F Mahoney's team got the non-protocol-authorized penicillin to test his off the wall/ highly successful theory that penicillin could kill syphilis germs inside the body.

One account says  he liberated/stole some the CMR/COC penicillin granted to him with his assent that he would follow strict protocol and only study penicillin's cure rate against sulfa-fast gonorrhea.

Another account says says he grew his own crude penicillin (in my view, probably with help from Dr Gladys Hobby) to further his successful effort.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

If Future is knowable, simple, controllable - then we don't need immigrants and troublemakers

But if it is not -- if we face a potential global disaster in the near future with no sure way yet to resolve it -- then maybe we need the biggest possible of all 'Big Tents' : we need everyone's ideas and everyone's critique.

Particularly those of immigrants - for their often strikingly different take on a crisis (instead of our conventional same old same old) might be just what Dr Mother Nature ordered.

For do we really still believe that the Anglo Saxon scientific establishment (all on its own) could have won the last war, without the help of the foreign born, their children and native-born troublemakers ?

Is to dream !

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

WWII penicillin : independent or institutional ?

On May 20th 1944, Dr Gladys Hobby writes to OSRD medical chief Dr A.N. Richards (wartime penicillin's real Penicillin Tsar), in effect to protest the largely successful efforts by his fellow institutionally oriented medical elite to use the excuse of wartime necessity to crush all remaining independent medical efforts.

Monday, January 25, 2016

"Off the Grid" Penicillin

The bad things that happen when academics prefer easily obtainable secondary sources over hard-to-get primary accounts

A prolonged troll through the day to day, year by year, archival records of Washington's National Academy "Committee on Chemotherapeutic Agents" (COC) and Vannevar Bush's Office of Scientific Research & Development's "Committee for Medical Research" (CMR) is profoundly depressing.

And it leads one to sharply question the underlying - shared - thesis beneath nearly everything written on wartime penicillin to date.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Helen Elliot, Vassar '41, Dawson's H.E. ?

A Vassar graduate of the class of 1941, Helen Elliott, unfortunately died in the medical crossfire of late 1943, as the American therapeutic reforming elite struggled to regain control of their own personal take on the course of WWII.

This elite had recently come under attack from a handful of courageous doctors and industrialists questioning the moral compass of wartime penicillin as these therapeutic reformers had self-defined it.

Simply put the issue was this : was wartime penicillin to go on being distributed as the Nazis might have distributed it, or was it to now be distributed as the Atlantic Charter suggested it should be distributed ?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

when Science appeared to give definite answers, conservatives became scientists

Until the mid 1960s, the most reliable Republican Party or Conservative Party districts were university towns. Today they are the least.

What changed ?

Back in the early sixties, the soon-to-be-retiring elite of Modernity science , both physical and social, still gave forth the definite answers that social conservatives crave and in fact need, in order to remain sane.

So no wonder then that science was one of the preferred occupations for social conservatives.

MLK Day and Jonas bookmarked my Washington Archival trip

I got away from Washington DC and superstorm Jonas just in time ----all thanks to the kindness of many strangers!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thumbnail, Dawson Bio cover & title

Feb 1 2016 Update

Back again to my title .....
Dawson Bio cover & title

The inside Title Page :

Fermenting Hope

In a war-wearied world, divided by eugenic science into the 'worthy' few and the 'unworthy' many, Dr Dawson's homebrew penicillin was made by many and provided for all

Michael Marshall

Fermenting Hope PD

Halifax Canada


Previous JAN 27 2016  title change

I have come to prefer the title as "Growing Hope" .

Now the book cover has the word "Growing" above the image of Gladys Hobby's arms daily holding above her head a petri dish of blue-green penicillium mold and golden drops of penicillin juice, to inspire SBE patients with hope --- with the word "Hope" directly below.

The inside 'Title Page' :

Growing Hope

In the depths of WWII, a handful of doctors
defeat the Beltway to bring penicillin to all.

Michael Marshall
Blockheaded Publishing PD
Halifax Canada

The image is my rather blatant knockoff of the Atomic Manhattan Project's much more famous 'fungus' cloud.

Only my cover features another wartime Manhattan project, involving an actual fungus: the 700 two litre flasks of penicillium, raised in a major 'grow op', right inside the pristine-clean corridors of NYC's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

all blog posts in E-Book entitled IVSTAT

Decided, in case I die in an airplane crash en route to researching wartime penicillin in the archives of Washington DC, to put out a quick ebook of all my Ivstat posts to date.

Here is the link to the pdf ebook on Google Drive.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

elementary school arithmetic & the history of wartime penicillin

Every account of wartime penicillin is sure to flatly claim that supplies of penicillin for civilians greatly worsened between July and December 1943, after the WPB took charge of all American made penicillin and gave most of it to the Army.

Allied medical "therapeutic reformers" at war against Allied military doctors

The much stated reason for early official interest in working at all with fragile, scarce, expensive injected penicillin was because it might heal staph infections in big dirty battlefield wounds that the wonderfully cheap effective, stable and abundant oral Sulfa drugs couldn't defeat.

In fact, this was all sheer bull feathers.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Alexander Fleming's Death Panel : 1943-45

The advent of Obamacare has led conservative minds all over the Anglosphere to talk of its imaginary death panels, where elite male doctors would hold the power of medical life or death over the hapless female civilians before them.

But it was conservative (as in Republican & Conservative Party supporting) male elite doctors who first served on actual death panels during the later half of WWII, where they did indeed condemn hapless female civilians to life or death ----- based mostly on their imagined class or ethnicity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ezra Lozinski : Canadian 'Jewish penicillin' 1941

Canadians love to joke about 'Jewish Penicillin' but a historical might-have-been actually involved a Canadian Jewish doctor's pioneering efforts to make wartime penicillin at the same time similar pioneering efforts were going on in America (by his fellow McGill Med School classmate Henry Dawson) and in Britain with Florey.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Halifax & foreigners : in AND out

We all know that there are ports like Norfolk Virginia that are internationally known first as naval bases and as being very good at keeping most foreigners out and then there are immigration ports like New York internationally known first to be rather good at inviting some foreigners in.

Blog on biography writing : 1st person, Biographies : 3rd person

Like almost all blog writers, I tend to write my blog posts in the the first person - I am forced to, in fact, when I post about my present day mechanics in researching the biographies of people who died before I was even born.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Warlike national capitals

I am about to visit Washington DC and am again reminded that the suburbs around national capitals are always filled with some of their nation's top military facilities ---something few of us ever hear much about.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

medicine as an OSRD weapon of war goes unchallenged for 75 years

It should be seen as a bit of a paradox : America's OSRD (Office of Scientific Research & Development) the American war-only weapons-producing agency that brought us the A-Bomb, radar, Napalm & the proximity Fuse ---- also (supposedly) brought us life-saving penicillin.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

iPad Mini blogging

I am going to Washington DC (plus NJ, MD & VA) to do archival research later this month.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Canoeing across the UK's three east-west urban corridors

The UK is well known to be far taller than it is wide.

Actually it is surprisingly narrow in three places and correspondingly rather wide in three others.

It is almost as if the UK is made of plasticine and when it was pinched tight between Bristol and London, Liverpool and Hull and the river Clyde and the Firth of Forth, the areas immediately north and south of those narrow waists expanded into wide hips.

Viewing the UK at night from space reveals that the three narrow waists are almost one big smear of lights from interconnected big urban centres while the three wide hips are darkish with only scattered lights and hence particularly underpopulated.

This is why I say the north-south urban corridor in the UK runs through only three real mega cities( London to Manchester to Glasgow) because each of those three cities are the the biggest city in its own east-west urban corridor.

So adventurers love to canoe from Liverpool to Hull, from Glasgow to Falkirk, from Bristol to Reading ,from the west coast to the east coast (or vice versa) overland by water : starting at a big estuary, along rivers and canals to a big estuary on the other side.

Maybe a short portage or two or three along the way.

Certainly communities located in the wide hips have a hard go being connected east-west, mostly because they don't have the flat terrain that two linked east-west big river-estuary watersheds naturally provide.

Some of the British rebels running their own DIY penicillin ops during WWII were located in the wide hip areas off the main corridors of political, commercial and academic influence, hence my interest in what might seem arcane spatial geography.....

Academics citing political claims as factual

Don't get me wrong : an academic citation pointing to a statement made by a politician is a citation to a fact : that a certain politician claimed a certain something on a certain date at a certain place.

But it is not a proof that anything the politician said in reference to the external world is in anyway true.

This may (or may not) shock you about politicians and truth-telling.

It might shock (some of) you about the credulity of academics.

Friday, January 1, 2016

wartime penicillin's "Corridors of Power "

Washington/Baltimore through Philadelphia to New York City and onto Boston.

London through Oxford (University) to Birmingham to Manchester and onto Glasgow.

Detroit/Windsor (via London Ontario) to Toronto to Ottawa via Kingston (Queens University) onto Montreal.

Narrow inter-city transportation corridors connecting a linear series of big metropolitan cities, each with massive demographic, industrial, financial, media and academic power --- in the formal sense of the geographers.

As well as the site of the intimately closely knit exclusive 'corridors of power', aka today's 'Beltway', in the more informal sense of lobbyists and journalists....