There is a body of opinion that claims that nuclear weapons actually bring peace as a stablizing force. Jonathan Tepperman added recently to the list of those who that present that argument. After all, since the US dropped atomic bombs on Japan there have been no world wars and in 30 years prior to their use, there had been two that cost at least 60 million lives and did untold economic destruction. But, the trouble with nuclear weapons is that, if they are used, then the consequences are grave. I mean, aside from the destruction brought about by the use of one, the only real reaction a nation could have would be to retaliate with another nuclear weapon and then it could escalate from there. So, President Obama recently went beyond his earlier call for the reduction of nuclear arsenals in Russia and the United States by 80 percent, but also a more ambitious proposal to eliminate nuclear weapons from the earth altogether. Trouble with that is, how do you get everyone to agree, how can you be sure the other guys don;’t have them, what do you do if someone does have them and how wise is it for the United States to give up its “big stick.”
Now, the US and Russia are in negotiations regarding a new nuclear arms agreement. The Obama administration already changed course from a Bush-era program that proposed a anti-missile shield based in Eastern Europe. The Russians saw that as a threat and so said that they would use nuclear weapons if threatened. The Obama administration recently cancelled the anti-missile shield for Eastern Europe, angering some of the Eastern Europeans and some members of NATO. It was seen as an olive branch of sorts to the Russians. Sometimes, the other guy doesn’t go along. The Russians now say that they will reserve the right to make a pre-emptive nuclear strike if it feels threatened. Perhaps unilateral decisions will eventually bear fruit, but so far its hard to see how anything has changed with the change from a European based missile shield for the NATO allies and the new proposal, which would be for a ship based system. If it weren’t for the Iranian nuclear program, the North Korean nuclear program, the trouble in Pakistan and India which are both part of the nuclear club this might make one chuckle as we talk about arms reduction or nuclear weapons bans. But, the only way one can laugh in this developing situation may be to get a dose of laughing gas…
On This Date in History: In the first half of the 19th Century, performers went around the country
performing acts that showed the side effects of nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas.” A Georgia physician, Dr. Crawford Long attended a party in which the foolishness took place and was asked by friends if he could make up a batch for their own private fun. Long suggested the use of ether instead as he found it quite suitable for the desired effects. At that point, all across the Peach State laughter at parties was heard of people chuckling at each others stumbling and bumbling while high on ether. Long’s interest was piqued. He noted how people didn’t feel any pain.
One of the fellow party makers was James Venable who had a tumor. Now, at the time, the pain associated with surgery was totally based on how fast the surgeon could do his work. So, Long convinced Venable to try out the gas before he had his tumor removed. He agreed and on March 30, 1842 the tumor was removed successfully without pain. But, Long did not publish his findings right away as he was not fully convinced. Long’s conservative approach was probably a good idea.
Dentist Horace Wells in Hartford, CT attended a laughing gas show and recognized the potential of nitrous oxide. So, he jumped the gun and took his case to the Massachusetts General Hospital where the demonstration promptly went asunder and Wells was ridiculed as a fraud. That led to Dr. William Morton.
Dr. Morton had worked with Dr. Wells and had learned of the promise of ether’s numbing properties from chemist Dr. Charles Jackson. He tried it out on some patients to much success and he too went to Massachusetts General Hospital. He said he had discovered a new wonder drug. What he really had was the very same ether that Wells had, but he camouflaged it with aromic oils so it would alter the oder. On October 16, 1846 the chief of surgery at Massachusetts General removed a neck tumor and also performed a leg amputation. The surgeries were pain free and the age of anesthetics was here. Morton patented the formula hoping to get rich.
But, Jackson and his supporters claimed they were the true discoverers. Morton in 1868 went to New York to defend his position against supporters of Jackson. He had a seizure and died. Upon seeing Morton’s tombstone that gave Morton credit for anesthetic, Jackson went insane and spent the rest of his life in an asylum. Then we have the fate of Dr. Wells, who jumped the gun with his demonstration. He became addicted to chloroform and his mind eroded. He ended up in jail and somehow got ahold of chloroform, soaked a clothe in it and covered his face after opening up his arteries. He quietly and painlessly bled to death.
As for perhaps the true pioneer of the use of anesthetics, Dr. Crawford Long? The one who was not bold enough to publish his findings? He continued as a general practitioner until 1878 when he died making a house call. Perhaps his caution and conservative approach was reflective of his life as those who went for the fame and fortune all died in bizarre and untimely manners. I wonder if those 3 would think that it was worth it?
Weather Bottom Line: I told you that the weather was gonna be lousy. Tough to make an argument concerning Global Warming these days. The clouds, rain and cold air will persist through early Saturday with maybe even some sleet in spots prior to Sunrise Saturday. The precip will be tapering off but it should remain cloudy on Saturday with highs having a tough time getting to 50. High pressure builds in Saturday night and chases away the clouds but Sunday morning church could be frosty with many people in the low 30’s if not some upper 20’s in the northern part of the viewing area. Sunshine Sunday helps us get to the mid 50’s. The big trof that brought all of the unseasonably cold air to the eastern part of the country will be lifting out and we really ought to have very pleasant conditions through Wednesday with temps climbing Monday afternoon to the low 60’s, then mid 60’s on Tuesday and maybe even to 70 on Wednesday.