SALK, SABIN, AND THE RACE AGAINST POLIO

JonasSalkB-D

Today is Jonas Salk’s birthday. If he were alive, he would be 100 today. But conquering polio was not only about Dr. Salk.

9a6c4875-d872-44f1-a031-df088f1930adAs polio ravaged patients worldwide, two gifted American researchers developed distinct vaccines against it. Then the question was: Which one to use?

By Gilbert King
Smithsonian.com
April 3, 2012

They were two young Jewish men who grew up just a few years apart in the New York area during the Great Depression. Though both were both drawn to the study of medicine and did not know each other at the time, their names would be linked in a heroic struggle that played out on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

In the end, both Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk could rightfully claim credit for one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments—the near-eradication of polio in the 20th century. And yet debate still echoes  over whose method is best suited for the mass vaccination needed to finish the job: Salk’s injected, dead-virus vaccine or Sabin’s oral, live-virus version

In the first half of the 20th century, Americans lived in fear of the incurable paralytic poliomyelitis (polio) disease, which they barely understood and knew not how to contain. That the disease led to some kind of infection in the central nervous system that crippled so many children, and even a president (Franklin D. Roosevelt) was alarming enough.

But the psychological trauma that followed a neighborhood outbreak resonated. Under the mistaken belief that poor sanitary conditions during the “polio season” of summer increased exposure to the virus, people resorted to measures that had been used to combat the spread of influenza or the plague. Areas were quarantined, schools and movie theaters were closed, windows were sealed shut in the heat of summer, public swimming pools were abandoned, and draft inductions were suspended.

Worse, many hospitals refused to admit patients who were believed to have contracted polio, and the afflicted were forced to rely on home care by doctors and nurses who could do little more than fit children for braces and crutches. In its early stages, polio paralyzed some patients’ chest muscles; if they were fortunate, they would be placed in an “iron lung,” a tank respirator with vacuum pumps pressurized to pull air in and out of the lungs. The iron lungs saved lives, but became an intimidating visual reminder of polio’s often devastating effects.

Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

NO GREAT DIVIDE

The Great Divide – The Daily Prompt for Monday, September 29, 2014

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?


There is no great divide. You must have made that up. Or maybe you don’t read much because if you did, you would know that literature is a continuity, a world without walls.

All my friends read. Friends and acquaintances, we read everything. Anything. Non-fiction and fiction, fantasy, mystery, and science fiction. The back of cereal boxes and magazines. Newspapers. Science and biography. Auto-biography and historical fiction.

I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of difference between historical fiction and regular old history anyhow. There’s a lot of fiction, made-up nonsense, wishful thinking and mythology in traditional history … and a lot of truth in fiction. Sometimes, the freedom an author gets under the cloak of fiction gives him or her the opportunity to write truer and reach more people than he or she could accomplish in an academic setting.

books and the duke

Those who love books don’t worry much about such distinctions. We pick books based on whether or not they will engage us. Teach us something we want to know. Make us laugh, cry, grow, change.

Most importantly, books take us out of ourselves. They transport us into a bigger world and give us food for thought and tools for understanding.

May a day never come when I confine my reading to a single genre, rejecting all others.

May the world never force such an awful choice upon me or anyone.

NOTES

Make It Count – You’ve been given the opportunity to send one message to one person you wouldn’t normally have access to (for example: the President. Kim Kardashian. A coffee grower in Ethiopia). Who’s the person you choose, and what’s the message?


I’m totally blank. I can’t think of any message I could send once to anyone in time or space that would make a difference.

Send a note to Julius Caesar and tell him to skip the senate that day? They would have killed him on a different day.

How about: “Hey, Ulysses. Don’t get involved with those girl singers.”

“Achilles, don’t brag about your invulnerability and how you came by it. And cover those heels!”

hyannis boat flag harbor

“Oh Chris? Yes, you. Columbo. Turn back. Your crew is carrying disease and you are going to wipe out millions of innocent people. Oh, you like that idea do you? Come closer. Let me kill you myself.”

“Mr. Lincoln, don’t go to the theater tonight. And get the Secret Service on that Wilkes guy. He’s more than merely a bad actor.”

“Mr. Kennedy, sir! Please do not ride through Dallas top down today. In fact, call in sick. Get a pedicure. Take a nap. Anything but a drive through Dallas.”

A couple of timely notes to myself could help. “Go to a better surgeon. Don’t let that hack anywhere near you with a scalpel.” I’d need to send at least two such warning notes. I am apparently a slow learner. Or, I could fix my own life. I could send a note to my Mom warning her not to get involved with my dad. Oops, but then there would be no me to send the note — and we get into all kinds of time travel-related complexities.

Or how about “Don’t buy the condo in Lynn. Wait. Garry’s going to ask you to marry him and you can get a place together!” That might have made a difference!

I’m just going to not say anything to anyone. You know about the butterfly effect? Anything I want to do would probably cause the world to end. I’ve got enough on my plate. I’ll leave world breaking to someone else

THE END OF THE REPUBLIC – IMPERIUM, ROBERT HARRIS

Cover of "Imperium"

Imperium, by Robert Harris

Random House – Sep 7, 2010

Fiction – 496 pages

It’s déjà vu all over again as we travel back with author Robert Harris to Republican Rome just before it became Imperial Rome. We complain loudly and frequently about government corruption, speculate about conspiracies. Brood darkly on the failure of government to address issues of inequality. Deplore the bribery of officials. The world, we say, is going to Hell.

Except that government went to Hell a long time ago and you could easily argue that government — all government — was always a bit hellish. Compared to Imperial Rome, our government is a clean machine, clean as driven snow. It’s all a matter of perspective. Republican Rome was in most ways a model for good government, but over the centuries, corruption ate away at it. By the time it became imperial, it was heading into its final days.

Reading history puts the world in which I live into perspective. Whatever problems we face, we — the human family — have faced them before. We survived. It’s important to remember our ability to survive is greater (for the most part) than our ability to screw up.

English: Bust of Cicero, Musei Capitolini, Rom...

Cicero, Musei Capitolini, Roma Italiano: Bust of Cicero, Musei Capitolini, Rome (Photo: Wikipedia)

Imperium, by Robert Harris, is about a guy named Cicero. You’ve probably heard of him. Famed as a lawyer, even more famed as an orator, Cicero rose to fame and power during a critical cusp in history as Rome was about to change from republican to imperial. Julius Caesar had just stepped onto the stage of history. It was the beginning of the greatest imperial power the earth had ever seen … and the end of the greatest republic the world ever knew. Perspective.

Marcus Cicero started his journey to power as an outsider from the provinces. His first significant legal case put him head-to-head with the dangerous, cruel and utterly corrupt Gaius Verres, governor of provincial Sicily. Using his stunning oratorical abilities and dogged determination in the face of impossible odds, Cicero beats Verres in court. He then goes on to triumph over many powerful opponents, making friends — but far more enemies — along the way.

Cicero seeks ultimate power — imperium. His allegiance is to the Republic. Cicero’s secretary and slave, Tiro — the inventor of shorthand — is the “author” of this biography of his master. Tiro was at Cicero’s right hand throughout his career, by his side, through triumph and catastrophe. Through his voice the world of ancient Rome is brought to life.

It’s a fascinating story. Pompey and Julius Caesar stride across the stage of this deeply corrupt, depraved, dangerous and strangely familiar society.

Robert Harris is a brilliant story-teller and author of historical fiction. He lures us into a violent, treacherous world of Roman politics simultaneously exotically different from and startlingly similar to our own. I read it on Kindle, then listened to the very fine version available from Audible.com. I recommend both most highly.

This is part one of a duology.  The second volume in the American printing is titled Conspirata. In Great Britain the same book is titled Lustrum.

Both books are available on Kindle from Amazon and as a paperback from most sellers.

COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG

Tourist trap is an establishment, or group of establishments, that has been created or re-purposed with the aim of attracting tourists and their money. Tourist traps will typically provide services, entertainment, souvenirs and other products for tourists to purchase.

Are tourist traps less worthy of attention because they are popular? This would exclude classic American destinations like Gettysburg, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, and the Grand Canyon. And European destinations like Paris, France.

There are places to avoid where hype exceeds experience, but plenty more that are too much fun — or too beautiful — to miss. The trick is finding the right time to visit. For a lot of places that would be before the end of the school year, or after Labor Day. If you don’t have kids in school and you can schedule vacations off-peak, the world is yours. At a discount.

Tourist towns are great, which is how they became so popular.  Are they expensive? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. They can cost less than you expect. The fanciest accommodations might cost more than you can manage, but there are plenty of places from which to choose. That can translate to modest prices, even in the middle of summer. If there’s a place you’re really hankering to see, check it out. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Tourist towns, and the people in them, are glad to see you. They want you to have a good time and come back next year and the year after that. With your credit cards, traveler’s checks, and cash. You are welcome in shops and restaurants. You’ll find plenty of places to stay, lots of things to do. Restaurants from cheap to five-star.

Although a lot of vacationers are looking “get away from it all,” some of us wouldn’t mind getting back into it. Garry and I want to be someplace unlike home. We want to do stuff we can’t usually do. History, shopping, good food. Mountains. Moose. Cities. Interesting people. Comfortable accommodations.

Tourist traps? Probably. Fun? Absolutely.

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. A reconstructed colonial town with great photo opportunities. Cute tee shirts. Even better? Busch Gardens is next door and it has roller coasters!

Way to go.

REVISITING OLD NUMBER TWO – DIALOGUE

DIALOGUE – WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – OLD NUMBER TWO

old number 2 fire engine

Views of my favorite old fire engine. I know, on one level, that he is an inanimate object. A truck. Metal and glass and rubber. An engine that ceased running years ago. A fire truck whose time came and went.

old number 2 fire engine truck

Despite knowing this, I feel like this old truck holds history in his rusty body. Memories. Fires, rescues. History.

OLD NUMBER TWO FIRE ENGINE

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way because the countryside has many veteran trucks and other vehicles quietly rusting in fields, often keeping company with the growing corn and the grazing cows and sheep.

old number two fire engine wheel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We invest our things with personality. Maybe we can’t help it. We are alive and we share at least the sense of life with those things with which we share our world.

Old number 2 fire engine truck

CAMPFIRE WITH LBJ IN VIETNAM, 1967 – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Location: A campfire in Vietnam near Saigon.

Year: 1967.

1967 and 1968 were very intense years for me. I had jumped directly from college and small time commercial radio, to ABC Network News. The time was right and the opportunity was there, but I was a kid thrust suddenly into the big leagues. My journalistic baptism started with the 6-day war in the Middle East which began on my first day at ABC. My professional life continued with the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, the volatile 1968 Presidential campaigns and a long visit to Vietnam, the first of several.

At headquarters in New York, my assignment was to receive reports from ABC’s field correspondents. I’d speak with them over static-riddled phone lines. Difficult to hear for anyone, harder for me. The daily MACV — or war front reports — were often significantly different from what the Pentagon reported. It was disturbing, worrying. Then, they sent me to Vietnam.

The sights, sounds and smells of Vietnam are still with me, 50 years later.

ABC needed a grunt to help the news team covering President Johnson’s visit to Vietnam. I was it. My job required I not allow myself to be distracted from the work at hand. I was a young reporter still learning the ropes. I had to stay focused on the story and exclude the other harrowing images around me.

LBJ vietnam 1967It was a typical evening, the never-ending noise of artillery in the background. It was what was called “down time.” Dinner around a campfire. GI’s, South Vietnamese soldiers, politicians and news media, all hunkered down for chow. Everything was off the record. Chow was beans and some unknown local meat. Most of us ate the beans. Skipped the meat.

President Johnson or LJ as he told us to call him, squatted at the point of the campfire and told some colorful tales about dealing with his pals in the Senate and Congress. The stories were punctuated with smiles and profanities. LJ was drinking from a bottle which he passed around. Good stuff.

Halfway through dinner, the beans began to resonate. The smell was pungent! I must’ve had a funny look on my face because LJ gave me a withering stare and asked if I had a problem. I remember sounding like a squeaky 16-year-old as I responded “No sir.” LJ guffawed and passed the bottle back to me.

Before completing his trip, President Johnson confided to some of us that seeing Vietnam up close confirmed his worst fears. He broadly hinted he was unlikely to seek re-election, given the backlash of Vietnam back home in the States. I thought he sounded like one of my cowboy heroes putting duty above personal gain.

But it wasn’t a movie. It was the real thing. History in the making.

The following day was my final encounter with Lyndon Baines Johnson. There were handshakes, a smile about our campfire evening and LJ was again President Lyndon Johnson, one of the truly great American presidents.


Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th President of the United States, from 1963 to 1969. As President, he designed “Great Society” legislation, including civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education and the arts, urban and rural development, and a “War on Poverty”.

Johnson’s civil rights bills banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing. It included a voting rights act that guaranteed the right to vote for all U.S. citizens, of all races. Passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 reformed the country’s immigration system, eliminating national origins quotas.

Johnson was renowned for his domineering personality and his readiness to do whatever it took to advance his legislative goals.