Friday, February 10, 2017

Mold for sale?

As a toddler, my brother Rich was hospitalized twice for pneumonia, likely brought on from the fact that he was a preemie – at a time (1955) when preemies didn’t survive. Penicillin helped save his life. So the Rogers family has a lot to be thankful for when it comes to Alexander Fleming and his wonderful and life saving discovery.

I’ve also benefited from penicillin. When I was in the second grade, some sort of throat infection rampaged through our class. It was just about the time we were scheduled to make our First Holy Communion, and there was some fear that it would have to be postponed. There were 45 or 50 kids in my class, and I remember one day when there were only 5 of us in attendance.

Eventually, I fell victim. (Either that, or I was Patient One – I can’t remember whether I was a leader or a lagger.) Because of this, I missed my grandmother’s 75th birthday party. Because the party was held in our small house, I didn’t miss much, as pretty much every attendee, which I believe included all kazillion of my father’s first cousins, stuck their head in the bedroom to say ‘hello.’ And someone brought me a piece of cake, which was special because – in a scratch-baking family – it was a fancy store bought cake. I was disappointed. It was covered with whipped cream, not frosting. (Boo.) And it wasn’t chocolate – it was white with strawberries and peaches. (Hiss, boo.)

But I got back on my feet in time to piously receive my First Holy Communion, thanks to a dose or two of penicillin.

And I’ve had strep throat twice as an adult. Thank you, Alexander Fleming for discovering penicillin and for making it safe and comfortable to swallow when those nefarious white splotches appeared at the back of my throat.

So while I’m a big Alexander Fleming fan – way to go with the Nobel Prize, by the way – I’m not about to enter into the bidding war for “two samples of the original mold that Alexander Fleming used to produce penicillin”, which are going to be auctioned off on March 1st.

If you’re interested, bring your checkbook. Another sample, auctioned off in December, went fo $46K.

Along with it, the buyer got a letter Fleming's housekeeper had written, with this postscript: "P.S. As though you didn't know — but just in case — this round affair is a blob of the original Mould of Penicillin, not to be confused with Gorgonzola cheese!!!" (Source: Stat).

Of course, $46K for something associated with one of the most important discoveries in the history of mankind is chump change, when compared to the $75K that a Tom Brady jersey is expected to fetch, which I blogged about just last week. And that $75K is nada if you consider this: shortly after the Super Bowl ended, Tom Brady’s game jersey was ripped off from his equipment bag. Given the irrational – IMHO– amount of money spent on sports memorabilia, one would certainly expect that a jersey worn by the football GOAT (Greatest of All Time), at what is being called the greatest Super Bowl game of all time (okay: yawn) would be “worth” more than a jersey worn on Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Anyway, the dollar sign that’s been put on the missing Super Bowl jersey is $500K.

Who would want Tom Brady’s sweaty old jersey? Who would want Alexander Fleming’s moldy old mold?

I just don’t get it. Dumbfounded might be the appropriate word here.

But I do know this: whatever the auction value of their leave-behinds, Alexander Hamilton’s work did a lot more good for mankind than any pass Tom Brady ever completed, GOAT or no GOAT.


Thanks to my sister Kath for pointing this one my way.

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