Passing Observations 101

Dr Vernon Coleman

This is a long standing series of small items which have caught my eye or mind and which seem relevant, startling, amusing or all three. Occasionally, items which appear here may return as a longer piece. Mostly they will not.

1. 💬 ‘The spirit of enquiry leads up a lane which hath no ending.’

2. Biological warfare isn’t new. In the sixteenth century the Aztec Empire collapsed when three and a half million Mexicans died of smallpox, brought by Cortez’s small army. Later smallpox was used to help defeat native American armies; Amherst and Colonel Bouquet, for example, used infected blankets to spread the disease among the Indians. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, smallpox was endemic in America; nine tenths of the population on the Massachusetts coast were killed by the infection, and small towns were sometimes almost completely wiped out. (From The Story of Medicine by Vernon Coleman)

3. A number of Kennedy Administration officials, including Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy (who also happened to be Bilderberger members) met at a place called Iron Mountain, near New York – a huge underground corporate nuclear shelter. The authors of the subsequent report stated that war was both desirable and necessary as an economic stabilizer and an organising force. They argued that war could not be allowed to disappear until there was something to put in its place. ‘The possibility of war,’ they wrote, ‘provides the sense of external necessity without which no government can long remain in power…the basic authority of a modern state over its people resides in its war powers. War has severed as the last great safeguard against the elimination of necessary classes.’

4. There is a good deal of free material available on the internet but I was appalled to discover that the British Medical Journal charges £30 for the right to read one short article for a day. This is utterly outrageous since I suspect that the BMJ still doesn’t pay its contributors and makes a fortune out of advertising. Suppressing knowledge in this way is surely counter to the whole principle of medicine. Sadly, I’m not particularly surprised.

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