Let’s Remember: Mary Mallon, 1869-1938

Mary Mallon was born on September 23, 1869, a hundred and fifty years ago. An Irish-American, was first person in the US known to be an asymptomatic carrier, and became known as “Typhoid Mary”.

Mallon worked as a cook, unknowingly passing the disease onto people in seven homes she worked for. Each time an outbreak happened, she left to avoid the outbreak, not knowing she was the source. After an investigation she was detained and quarantined at Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island for three years. She fought a legal battle to be released because she had not intentionally committed a crime. In February 1910, Mallon was released under agreement, signing an affidavit, that she never work as a cook again and begin regular hygienic precautions (washing, etc.) to protect others.

Mallon could only find work cleaning laundry, a job that did not pay as well as cooking. After a few years, she changed her name to Mary Brown and broke her agreement, returning to work as a cook and causing several more outbreaks. She was captured and quarantined again in March 1915, this time never to be released. She died at the hospital in 1938.

Mallon’s case was a key moment in the science of bacteriological epidemiology, as the first (or one of) case of an immune carrier of a disease, the investigation and tracking of infectious diseases, and changes in washing and hygiene standards.

Permanent Shutdown: Three Mile Island is now forever closed

NBC reports on Friday that the Three Mile Island nuclear power station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania has been permanently closed because it was no longer profitable.  Poor safety and environmental hazards weren’t good enough reasons to close it, but money was.  There’s capitalism for you.

Three Mile Island closes: meltdown changed nuclear energy in America

Even 40 years later, John Garver vividly remembers the metallic taste of the nation’s worst commercial nuclear disaster.

An acrid odor permeated Harrisburg as he walked out of a restaurant in Pennsylvania’s capital city the morning of March 28, 1979.

“We had this smell in the air, wondering what it was,” recalled Garver, 80, now a retired salesman. “Well it didn’t take us long to find out … that the accident started.”

Some 14 miles away, the “accident” was unfolding in Unit 2 at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant, triggering panic, confusion and, within days, an evacuation order.

Below is what I wrote about TMI on facebook back in March, on the fortieth anniversary of the accident.

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The Depths Of Stupidity, Plumbed Again….

Today, in one of my left handers groups on facebook, someone mentioned a group named “Single Christian Mothers Against Left-Handed Deviants“.

At first, I thought the poster was joking about that page’s existence.  Having seen it, I thought the page and the group were a poe.  I’m still not entirely sure if it’s a joke or serious, there’s no “Betty Bowers” style humour.  I’m leaning toward parody because the group page‘s admin hasn’t deleted or banned people who joined the group and then disagreed.

Thankfully the group has only 60 members, so if it’s serious, they’re insignificant.

Some selected ignorance from the pages:

You left handed bastards are all the same: perverts, murderers, creative types… you’re disgusting.

Look I’m just gonna come right out and say it: LEFT HANDED PEOPLE ARE THIEVES.

People always ask me, “If you’re such a good Christian mother, why are you single?” BECAUSE MY HUBSBAND LEFT ME FOR A LEFT HANDED DEVIL WOMAN THATS WHY.

When you use your left hand, what your really doing is shaking hands with Satan and telling him how cool you think he is.

FUN FACT: Left-handed people caused every major war in history. And actually, that fact isn’t very fun now that I think about it.

Ten years ago, ridiculous stuff like this would obviously be parody.  Now I’m not so sure.


She Can’t Remember: Riley Horner and her two hour memory

About nine years ago I suffered a concussion, falling and hitting the right side of my head on the granite base of an art piece.  Since then I have had both long term and short term memory issues.  I can easily forget things that aren’t reinforced with repetition or connected to other information (e.g. something specifically work related, or related to something from my past). I constantly use and depend on my phone to take pictures of paperwork since it’s faster than writing and cheaper than photocopying, plus there’s only one thing to carry.  There are gaps in my memory and of earlier events in my life that can be triggered by things from the same time period.  Both of these are annoying, but I can cope.

I have no self-pity because there are people who have it far worse.  Unlike many with Post-Concussion Syndrome, I don’t suffer chronic pain and I’m still able to function and work.  My biggest issue is emotional, occasional periods of inexplicable anger and have to watch myself.  Many people I talk to (in several Post-Concussion groups on facebook) are incapable of working, and have to deal with arrogant and inept doctors and social welfare systems who refuse to believe them, who disregard their symptoms.  Every brain injury is different, even when it happens to the same part of the head.

Facebook: Post Concussion Support-real support for all Concussion Types

Facebook: Canadian Post Concussion Syndrome support group

The people I feel the most empathy for are those who are have lost all ability to remember, like Riley Horner.  Did you see the movie “Memento”?  If only that were fiction.  From The Independent:

Teenager’s memory resets every two hours after being kicked in the head, meaning she wakes up thinking every day is 11 June

A teenager wakes up every morning thinking it is 11 June as her memory “resets” every two hours after she was kicked in the head.

Riley Horner, 16, has no recollection of the day she suffered a traumatic head injury after she was hit by a student crowdsurfing at a dance.

She has woken every morning since believing it is still 11 June – the day her life completely changed.

The former athlete and student, from Illinois, in the US, now has to keep detailed notes and photos with her at all times, and has a two-hour timer set on her phone.

Every time the timer goes off, Riley reads back over her notes to remind herself of everything she’s just learned but forgotten, including where her locker is.


“I’m not making memories and I’m just really scared,” Riley said.

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The Diseased Mind: Anti-vaxxers are calling themselves ‘civil rights activists’

Anti-vaxxers (primarily rich and middle class white women, of course) are calling themselves “civil rights activists”, comparing their ignorance about vaccines to the Black civil rights marches of the 1960s. And Andrew Fakewield (*) is their leader, the Maudlin Ruthless Killer of children.

The only thing those buffoons have in common with civil rights marchers of the 1960s is polio, measles, and smallpox, because those diseases hadn’t yet been eradicated or brought under control when King was marching.  From Politico:

Anti-vaccine protesters are likening themselves to civil rights activists

A chorus of mostly white women sang the gospel song “We Shall Overcome” in the California State Capitol, an anthem of the civil rights movement. Mothers rallied outside the governor’s office and marched through Capitol corridors chanting “No segregation, no discrimination, yes on education for all!” Some wore T-shirts that read “Freedom Keepers.”

But this wasn’t about racial equality. In the nation’s most diverse state, protesters opposed to childhood vaccine mandates — many from affluent coastal areas — had co-opted the civil rights mantle from the 1960s, insisting that their plight is comparable to what African Americans have suffered from segregationist policies.

(* Fakewield, that great spoonerism; he’s fake who claims to wield a medical license.)

Goal Scored: The MLS teams owners must be pro-fascist

But that wouldn’t be surprising.  Rich people are like that.

Taking a page from Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerburg, the MLS are treating fascists and white supremacists as “protected groups” while anti-fascists and anti-racists are being ejected from their stadiums.  Iron Front fans are being ejected for “political banners and protest signs”, but racists wearing t-shirts and spewing chants are not.  Fans are walking out in protest at the hypocrisy.

Anti-fascist MLS fans have adopted the Iron Front symbol, incorporating it into the MLS logo.  I was actually unaware of the Iron Front’s history, an alliance of anti-fascists and anti-communists in Germany who opposed fought against the rise of nazism. The MLS fans who wave the Iron Front logo in the US are antifa supporters who oppose gun violence and racism.  I’m in awe of what MLS fans have done, the sheer brilliance of it.  Bravo.

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Dolor Bill: A study claims atheists would pay for people not to pray

I highly doubt the study’s claims as reported by The Guardian.  The original study can be found here.

Economists calculate monetary value of ‘thoughts and prayers’

US study finds Christians are willing to pay for prayers – but atheists will pay to avoid them

Rather than settling on one price for all, the study found the value of a compassionate gesture depended overwhelmingly on a person’s beliefs. While Christian participants were willing to part with money to receive thoughts and prayers from others, the idea made nonbelievers baulk. Instead of shelling out to receive the gestures, on average they were willing to pay to avoid them.

Linda Thunström, an economist and an author of the study at the University of Wyoming, said: “That was a big surprise. Atheists and agnostics are actually willing to give up money to avoid people’s thoughts and prayers.”

If I were feeling churlish, I might tell them Pay me to put up with your prayers,” but I wouldn’t pay them to go away.  It’s much cheaper to mock them and get them to go away on their own.


Don’t Silence and Whitewash: Cokie Roberts, 1943-2019

Whenever there’s a mass shooting, fanatics will inevitably say, “This is no time to talk about gun control!” Au contraire, that’s precisely the time, when people’s memories are freshest and they’re thinking about it.  If you wait until later, people will forget and not pay attention even though your argument is valid.

The same goes when someone famous dies.  Demanding silence isn’t about “respect for the dead”, it’s about preventing examination of their life.

Telling the truth is neither insult nor character assassination.  Hundreds of “tributes and accolades” to her won’t be silenced by one blog post.

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Let’s Remember: Norman Jewison’s film, …And Justice for All

Norman Jewison’s film “…And Justice for All” was released on September 15, 1979, forty years ago this week.

Remember Al Pacino’s “opening statement” scene?  I would love to see lawyers find a conscience and pull that on Pervy Weinstein and all the other scumbags outed by the Me Too movement.  Instead they defend the indefensible all for the sake of money and careerism, as Mano Singham pointed out.

Nerdgasms Happen: I wanna buy a new computer

If, like me, you watch retro computing channels on youtube, you may be familiar with names like David Murray (“The 8Bit Guy”), Clint of “Lazy Game Reviews”, Dan Wood (“Kooky Tech”), Nostalgia Nerd, Peri Fractic, Techmoan, Terry Stewart (“Tezza”), Retro Man Cave, and many others. A few of them, led by the 8Bit Guy, are working together to design and build a new “old” computer for computer nerds and nostalgia buffs.

(Nota bene: This is not a promotion for a commercial product. The thing hasn’t even been built yet.)

The computer, named Commander X16 (a link to the facebook group), will be similar to (but not a clone of) the Commodore 64. They are writing a new kernal (their spelling), operating system, basic interpreter and other firmware so that there are no copyright concerns. They are building it with off-the-shelf and low cost but proven parts to keep the price down (e.g. the gameduino).  Currently the group has 13,000 members.

The CPU will be the MOS 6502 or 65816, depending on how difficult it is to code the operating system for the 65816. But unlike the limited computers of the 1980s, this will be much more expandable and powerful. The base RAM will be at least 512KB, have 256 or 4096 colours, produce VGA output with an HDMI connector, use flash RAM storage, have stereo sound output, RS232 (potentially Ethernet and WiFi as well) among other improvements.

During a reunion tour with The Attractions, Elvis Costello was quoted as saying, “Remember the good old days? They’re gone.” Maybe they are, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy them. Chess is centuries old and there is little new to learn in the game, but nobody’s suggesting we stop playing.

The Holy War Continues: Yemen hit back in a big way

Yemen was one of many nations that threw off oppressive governments during the Arab Spring of 2011.  The slim sunni muslim majority (55% of the population) took over from the previous regime, but the shia minority (45%) have seized the opportunity to seek independence against a weak government.  Predictably, Saudi Arabia (a/k/a Saudi Barbaria) backed the sunni regime and Iran backs the shia minority.  With the aid of military weapons sold by the US, UK and France, the Saudis have engaged in a protracted war of genocide, supporting the sunni majority in Yemen’s civil war.  As always, those who support one type of foreign meddling (i.e. US backing of SA’s actions) hypocritically oppose other countries’ meddling in the same situation (i.e. the US opposes Iran’s involvement).

Yemen’s Houthi (shia) rebels have struck a massive blow, crippling Saudi Arabia’s oil production.  The effects will be immediate and worldwide, emphasis mine:

Attacks on Saudi oil facilities knock out half the kingdom’s supply

(Reuters) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group said it attacked two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Saturday, knocking out more than half the Kingdom’s output, in a move expected to send oil prices soaring and increase tensions in the Middle East.

The attacks will cut the kingdom’s output by 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd), according to a statement from state-run oil company Saudi Aramco, or more than 5% of global oil supply.


While the Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the blame squarely on Iran, writing on Twitter that there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

Yes, of course we believe you, Mike Pompous.  And the US’s intentional drone strikes on Yemeni civilians is “not terrorism”.

How will the world react to the Houthi’s successful strike?  My suspicion is oil-addicted countries will behave the same way they did about Somalia: focusing on the “pirates” and ignoring the crimes perpetrated by other nations (e.g. fishing illegally and dumping garbage in Somalia’s waters).

How Somalia’s Fishermen Became Pirates

The waters they [Somali fisherman] sought to protect, says Lehr, were “an El Dorado for fishing fleets of many nations.” A 2006 study published in the journal Sciencepredicted that the current rate of commercial fishing would virtually empty the world’s oceanic stocks by 2050. Yet, Somalia’s seas still offer a particularly fertile patch for tuna, sardines and mackerel, and other lucrative species of seafood, including lobsters and sharks.


Beyond illegal fishing, foreign ships have also long been accused by local fishermen of dumping toxic and nuclear waste off Somalia’s shores. A 2005 United Nations Environmental Program report cited uranium radioactive and other hazardous deposits leading to a rash of respiratory ailments and skin diseases breaking out in villages along the Somali coast. According to the U.N., at the time of the report, it cost $2.50 per ton for a European company to dump these types of materials off the Horn of Africa, as opposed to $250 per ton to dispose of them cleanly in Europe.

Yemen’s bombing of Saudi oil production is a tactic that any other nation would engage in during war or terrorism against another country (e.g. cutting off Nazi Germany’s access to oil during World War II).  The goal is to make life difficult for civilians, to waste resources on rebuilding infrastructure.  When the US blew up the Al-Shifa factory in Sudan in 1998, they knew it was producing medicines, not chemical weapons.  The world’s demand for cheap oil may lead unscrupulous nations to rationalize further support of the Saudi genocide of Yemenis.  If the war criminals in Washington get their way, it will be an excuse for an invasion of Iran.


The Clock Stopped: Amazingly, Cheetolini has done the right thing about vaping

Trumplethinskin has said the FDA should ban “flavoured” vaping products.  His “ban”, however, is only against flavoured nicotine packs, not vaping in general.  That won’t be affected, not when Altria (formerly Philip Morris) invested US$1.2 billion in Juul and invested who-knows-how-many millions on republicans.  The FDA has sent out warning letters to Juul and others, holding them accountable for their actions.  Now let’s see Annoying Orange do something about enacting gun control.

The owners of Juul were liars from the beginning.  Their “flavoured” poison was always aimed at children, despite their lies and denials.  Every examination of their advertising confirms this.  They used “barely legal” 19 years olds to market vaping to kids, in much the same way pornographers market “barely legal” 19 years olds to middle aged men.  The FTC has fined google US$170 million for targeted advertising aimed at children and data collection, but the this should include a ban on all nicotine-based products online, the same way all tobacco advertising has been banned from TV, radio and print media.

The number of nicotine addicts worldwide went from five million in 2011 to nearly fifty million today, thanks in large part to advertising to children, and to addicts’ rationalizations of their selfish behaviour.  They say, “I’m not smoking, I’m vaping!” as they smoke in places where it’s illegal or on private property where the owners don’t allow smoking.

“Vaping devices” are nothing more than portable hookah pipes, and the addicts are vaper brains.  It’s still smoking, and it’s still toxic both to the user and the environement (re: plastic waste, batteries).  All tobacco products should be banned since they are a massive contributor to climate change and toxification of farmland. Once land has been used for growing tobacco, you can’t grow food there. It’s single crop farming, not rotational, so the soil becomes depleted of nutrients and desertification begins without massive overuse of fertilizers and pesticides. The tobacco plant is one species that humans should try to render extinct or at least criminalize its use outside of science.





Moon Shot: And plenty more pictures than that

Royal Museums Greenwich has announced their Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019 winners, and some of the photos are spectacular.  Some of the best come from kids.  Let the pics speak for themselves, I can’t do them justice.

I’m including my favourites, the photographers’ names and image titles above the pictures.  There are more below the fold:

“Into The Shadow”, by László Francsics

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When Religion Annoys: Today was Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival is known by several names across several Asian countries.  Taiwan often calls it Moon Festival, both Koreas call it Chuseok (“Autumn eve”), Japan calls it Tsukimi (“Moon Viewing”), while both mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other countries have their own names.  Most countries that celebrate it have a single day national holiday, but it’s the second biggest annual holiday in Korea (after Chinese New Year). They get three days off work and school.

This link tells the festival’s origins.  In the video, a woman is holding a rabbit.  Asian countries don’t see a “man in the moon”, they see a rabbit.

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