Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Berlin T4 ; Manhattan 4F

If World War Two was anything, it was  War Among the Big Battalions.

Berlin's T4 project, the killing of hundreds of thousands of weak and small and 'useless'
Ayran GERMANS  by other Ayran Germans - all through the war years, is the clearest example that even above nationality, race,religion and class, world war two's killing focused upon the killing the small.

Small was definitely not beautiful or fashionable back then.

Small people and small nations were speed bumps beneath the wheels of the mighty and the wise.

All of Civilization - be it Japanese, Russian, German or American agreed on this Cult of the Big.

However ,Martin Henry Dawson seems to have had a quarrel with this consensus within World Civilization, during those six dreadful years of war without mercy or chivalry.

So what did his 'small three' of October 1940 have in common ?

Well what The Spazz (Charlie Aronson), The Slime (the tiny penicillium cell factories producing his pencillin ) and The Ramshackle Pilot (Dawson's makeshift penicillin-producing pilot project in the corridors of Columbia Presbyterian) all had in common was that they were small and weak and foolish , at least by the dictates of the day.

The Fall of 1940 saw Columbia Presbyterian turn to offering War Medicine courses : now how to aid the war efforts of the 1A /fit was the new priority --- not in helping heal the 4Fs/unfit.

Charlie was dying of the then incurable terminal disease SBE and was a 4F of the 4Fs to his draft board.

A useless mouth and a drain on an overtaxed medical economy, in many doctors' minds - and some were even enboldened enough to say so publicly.

Even worse Charlie was a victim of post sleeping sickness parkinsonism - a spazz in 'non politically correct speak'.

Already, in Germany  doctors were killing his kind if their names were something like Martin Bader (and not Adolf Hitler- himself a parkinson sufferer!).

Charlie was 'small' in the medical priorities of the time.

Next ,the slime. 'Natural' was not 'in' in those years - instead artificial/synthetic/man made/ chemically-made were all the buzz.

Civilizied opinion was firmly of the thought that penicillin shouldn't be talked up unless (and until) it was safe under a profitable manmade patent in a chemical factory.

Fermentation by microscopic ( bacteria-sized tiny) little biological factories seemed so inefficient, wasteful, dirty, impure.

Why you could make it up at home, without high tech factories and chemists with PhDs.

That was vaguely threatening to the professional class and anyway, it was so old fashioned - like farming for our food.

The last 'small' was Dawson's ramshackle pilot project, using 700 flasks filled with these trillions of tiny penicillium factories to yield a measly 50 US gallons of penicillin water .

His hospital and university dismissed his efforts and declined to give him a room for his work - and because penicillium, like beer yeast, stop eating if they are moved, this fatally doomed his project in terms of anything like medically useful yields.

That same university did see another tiny pilot project as having great value in a war economy of Big Battalions - so Fermi and Szilard did get the university support to get the Manhattan Project off the ground at Columbia.

If we ever blow up the world (instead of letting global warming burn it up), lets give some of the credit to Columbia.

Columbia made its moral choices and so Dawson had to move his penicillium growths in and out of spare classrooms and labs, wearing him out and killing off his yields.

So a freezing cold and dark fire escape became  a makeshift ventilation hood while the hospital corridors stored his carboys of unconcentrated penicillin water.

The new way to develop a new drug like penicillin if you were the doctor first discovering it, even back then,was to quickly to become a consultant to a big drug company, seeking grants and production assistance from them in return for doing the basic science stuff.

You'd share in the resulting patents. But that ended it for you.

Another huge separate set of doctors would run clinical trials.

Finally the FDA would permit the drug company to sell the approved, pre-tested drug.

But it could only sell it only to drug stores, not directly to consumers.

In turn the dispensing druggists would in turn only sell it to patients upon the prescription of a GP doctor, who in turn was acting on the advice of a specialist doctor.

Many, many, many, separate hands would be involved.

Long gone were the days when rural doctors made up medications in competition with small town druggists AND big city drug companies AND metropolitan teaching hospitals --- AND in competition with patients and local healing women made up their own alternative medications.

To Civilization, Dawson was small time in doing everything himself.

But in fact ,he didn't want to do this pilot project -  he just didn't give up when Big Pharma proved indifferent --- he saw patients dying needlessly in front of him - small patients.

He pulled a Banting on Big Pharma - called their bluff - it had worked for insulin and it worked, eventually, for penicillin as well.

The substance of Berlin's T4 project was never secret --  its evilness was widely reported in the world media.

Dawson did more than bemoan it - he answered with Manhattan's 4F project.

The three smalls confronted the Belief  that 'Might Makes Right', 'Only the Strongest Survive', 'Its the Law of the Jungle' that Big
Battalion Civilization touted unquestioned in 1939.

The (moral) battle was on !

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