Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Variations on a Theme

Arsenic and Old Lace

Before you groan and say "ANOTHER Steampunk kit!" the truth is, all the kits I've done are as different from each other as they are from say a Gothic kit.

Clockwork Angel dealt with a globe trotting scientist, whereas Gaslight was an iconic Steampunk kit, an introduction to that universe.

Steamworks had as subtle nautical theme, as befitted the great airships of the Steampunk universe. (Vicki and I have that ship bookmarked BTW...one of these days when it goes on sale....)

I, Robot, obviously dealt with the more mechanical features of the universe.

While Arsenic and Old Lace takes its name from the 1944 film, this is a much more vintage based and human kit than the others. It has distinct medical overtones.

The consumption of arsenic in its various forms was quite common in the 1800s. It is known to have been prescribed across Europe for a myriad of diseases, as a beauty product, and as an aphrodisiac. The Arsenic Eaters of Styria were rumored to have eaten several times the lethal dose (300-400mg) of the metal, in the form of arsenic trioxide. A tolerance was built over time starting at around 30-40mg every couple days and ending up at 400mg. Accounts from the arsenic eaters themselves give several beneficial reasons for consuming the poisonous metal including an increase in the ability to breathe easily, a spike in courage, a boost in sexual potency, and as a prophylactic against infections diseases.

As with any addiction, once you became hooked on Arsenic, you couldn't stop. It was, in fact, also one of the most abused drugs of choice in the 1800's.

The use of Arsenic trioxide continued on into the 20th Centuy. Neosalvarsan is a synthetic chemotherapeutic that is an organoarsenic compound. It became available in 1912 and superseded the more toxic and less water-soluble salvarsan as an effective treatment for syphilis. Because both of these arsenicals carried considerable risk of side-effects, they were replaced for this use by penicillin in the 1940s.

But wait...we're not out of the dark ages yet! Arsenic trioxide under the trade name Trisenox (manufacturer: Cephalon) is a chemotheraputic agent of idiopathic function used to treat leukemia that is unresponsive to "first line" agents. It is suspected that arsenic trioxide induces cancer cells to undergo apoptosis. Due to the toxic nature of arsenic, this drug carries significant risks, but it approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration.

Lady doctors during the Victorian era where very rare as well. Margaret Ann Bulkley was the first female physician in Britain. She dressed as a man for more than 50 years to become her alter-ego. Dr. James Barry. She attended medical school as a male and served as an Army Medical officer for 46 years. It was not discovered that she was a woman, until after her death.

Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States, and graduated, on 23 January 1849, first in her class. She went through quite a lot during medical school, enduring extreme rudeness and bullying from both her fellow students and her professors, but that did not deter her from attending school and pursuing her dream.

Interestingly enough, female physicians continue to be in the minority - a fact that ofter makes me wonder if thats why I can't find a decent doctor - as women are much more empathic then men are.

In any case, a practicing female physician was just as much sci-fi during the Victorian Era as flying air ships and robots were.

This kit is also going to great for you autumn tags, as the pallet lent itself to that with the fall colors, so I blended in quite a few fall elements as well.

Arsenic and Old Lace will be coming soon to a scrap shop near you. Probably later today, so keep an eye out for it. I think you'll really enjoy it.

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