Monday, March 30, 2020

Your Guide to the Black Death

The Great Mortality. From History Extra:
In the Middle Ages, the Black Death, or ‘pestilencia’, as contemporaries called various epidemic diseases, was the worst catastrophe in recorded history. Some dubbed it ‘magna mortalitas’ (great mortality), emphasising the death rate. It destroyed a higher proportion of the population than any other single known event. One observer noted ‘the living were scarcely sufficient to bury the dead.’ No one could be sure what caused it.

Breaking out in ‘the east’, as medieval people put it, the Black Death came north and west after striking the eastern Mediterranean and Italy, Spain and France. It then came to Britain, where it struck Dorset and Hampshire along the south coast of England simultaneously. The plague then spread north and east, then on to Scandinavia and Russia. (Read more.)

From National Geographic:

The plague was once the most feared disease in the world, capable of wiping out hundreds of millions of people in seemingly unstoppable global pandemics and afflicting its victims with painfully swollen lymph nodes, blackened skin, and other gruesome symptoms

In 17th-century Europe, the physicians who tended to plague victims wore a costume that has since taken on sinister overtones: they covered themselves head to toe and wore a mask with a long bird-like beak. The reason behind the beaked plague masks was a misconception about the very nature of the dangerous disease.

During that period's outbreaks of the bubonic plague—a pandemic that recurred in Europe for centuries—towns gripped by the disease hired plague doctors who practiced what passed for medicine on rich and poor residents alike. These physicians prescribed what were believed to be protective concoctions and plague antidotes, witnessed wills, and performed autopsies—and some did so while wearing beaked masks. (Read more.)

From Ancient Origins:
The reason the cause of death is so important is that many archaeological researchers have suspected Africa was struck by a historic bubonic plague, and the Iroungou bones might hold an answer. According to a March 2019 article published on Science , in the 14th century Black Death swept across Europe, Asia, and “North Africa,” killing up to 50% of the populations of major cities, but archaeologists and historians have assumed that the plague,  Yersinia pestis , carried by fleas infesting rodents, didn't make it across the Sahara Desert . (Read more.)

What Will Come After

From Return to Order:
No one should be shocked at what will come next. Nothing should be ruled out. The only exception to this rule is a return to chastity and modesty. Such moral practices are deemed impossible to practice—even though they were observed for centuries during the times of Christian civilization.

Two things are certain. There will be new behavior, and its introduction will be gradual. This revolution always progresses only to the extent that it finds acceptance by society. It thrives by wearing down the resistance of moral structures, habits and practices. It finally seeks to give each new phase the protection of the law. When one aberration is accepted, everyone thinks there will be no further developments. However, this lie is soon unmasked when the next phase is proposed. (Read more.)

Will there be a second wave if socialism? From The Hill:
Forecasting the aftermath of the current crisis is nearly impossible, but here is one prediction you can take to the bank: However deep the economic carnage and regardless of its source, those who seek to drive this country towards socialism will exploit it for all it’s worth. President Trump recently declared himself a wartime president, as well he should. He is fighting an unprecedented two-front domestic war — one a health crisis, the other economic. In the coming days, the economy will further decline, perhaps in unprecedented ways. And since economic upheaval usually precedes political upheaval, he will soon need to fight a third front: the inevitable propagandizing that will flow from forces of the far left who will lay many resulting economic inequities, real or perceived, at the feet of free markets and capitalism.

The catalyst for the ascendancy of socialism in our recent politics was the financial crisis of 2008. In its wake — sparked by Occupy Wall St., encouraged by hard leftists and enabled by the media — a majority of millennials and Gens X, Y and Z now look favorably upon the movement, according to most polls. They were the base that put a Democratic socialist within a hair’s breadth of the Democratic presidential nomination. And because political views formed in youth tend to last a lifetime, this voting bloc will be the pig in the electoral snake for decades to come. (Read more.)

From PJB:
The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest crisis since the Cuban missile confrontation of 1962. After that crisis, John F. Kennedy sought to use the world’s brush with Armageddon to establish a detente with the Soviet Union of the Communist dictator who had put the missiles in Cuba. Following our Cold War victory, we have not done that. Instead, we plunged into wars that were none of our business to deal with imagined threats and advance utopian causes like establishing Jeffersonian democracy in lands where tribalism and dogmatism are rooted in the very soil. The coronavirus is the enemy Saddam Hussein never was. And the ayatollahs never had tens of millions of Americans “sheltering in place.” (Read more.)

Numbering the Kings and Queens of Britain

From Royal Central:
One aspect of the evolution of monarchy that I find interesting is the development of Ordinal numbers, or regnal numbers, and also called post-nominal numbers used to differentiate between monarchs of the same name within the same territory. In the British system of numbering the monarchs, a king or queen will not get a regnal number unless there is another monarch with the same name. For example, King John of England (1199-1217) (known as John Lackland) isn’t called John I because there has never been another King John. If there is another King John, he will be John II while John Lackland will become John I.

The practice of ascribing a regnal number to the sovereign was a later development with each monarchy in Europe having its own rules and practices. However, there were times this practice wasn’t always accurate. In this article, I will focus on the numbering of the Kings and Queen of Britain.

Prior to the development of regnal numbers, contemporary monarchs were known by either their territorial designations or a sobriquet, a nickname, that developed over time. An example of a territorial designation is Henry III of England (1217-1272) who was also known as Henry of Winchester during his 50-year reign. Generally, a sobriquet was given by others. For instance, William I of England (1066-1087) is more well known as William the Conqueror but prior to having that sobriquet, he was known as William the Bastard due to his illegitimacy. (Read more.)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Medieval Cats

From Medium:
The sheer absurdity of these drawings raises some flags. Were cats simply body snatched for a few hundred years? Were they ephemerally replaced by humanoid fur demons, or did the monks who wrote manuscripts just really prefer dogs? All cats are a little demonic, as their humans would probably attest to. It turns out Medieval scribes were maybe just a little more on the nose about it. 
“In the Medieval period, animals were understood to be the mirror of human society,” historian Damien Kempf, who is writing a book on Medieval depictions of animals, told me. “Even though animals were believed to be irrational beings, they were given human traits and characteristics.” Dogs, for example, were lauded for being loyal companions, created to guard the house and assist in the hunt. Cats? Not so much. 
“Sources emphasize the rather unruly nature of cats,” Kempf said. “Unlike dogs, cats cannot be trained to be loyal and obedient. As one author complains, they will go to whoever gives them food.” So that’s one reason cats probably got such an unflattering edit. (Read more.)

Public Health and the Dangers of Porn

From Return to Order:
The roots of the AJPH’s position goes back to the “do your own thing” attitude of the late sixties and early seventies. Cohabitation gained social approval. Many people saw “trial marriages” as a way to test compatibility. Soon activity once been reserved for marriage became a recreational activity like any other.
During the sixties, pseudo-intellectuals argued that all morality was “personal,” and that standards of behavior were up to the individual. They repeated the phrases “You can’t legislate morality” and “I don’t care what you do in your bedroom” until the general public accepted them. That, in turn, gave rise to the superficial “Who am I to judge?” attitude that is so common today.
Underlying this attitude was an even more profound shift was at work. The worship of youth replaced respect for the experience of elders. A permissive culture sough to convince people to discard the Church’s moral system. In the process, moral protection for the young disappeared. Indeed, too many people old enough to know better looked enviously on their children’s immoral lives and imitated them. Divorce, adultery, abortion, and child abandonment proliferated. (Read more.)

Andrew Klavan’s Experimental Fiction

From First Things:
Several years ago, Klavan embarked on another experiment: a novel in the form of a podcast. Then someone suggested that the podcast could be turned into a book—or, as it played out, a trilogy. The first volume, Another Kingdom (the title of which is also the name of the trilogy as a whole), was published a year ago, and I wrote about it here. The second volume, The Nightmare Feast, is just out.
You recall those YA novels by Klavan I mentioned? They were quite obviously—brazenly, even—written primarily for boys. Now imagine those boys some years later, about the age of Austin Lively, the thirty-year-old would-be screenwriter who is the protagonist of Klavan’s trilogy. Such readers, I speculated when Another Kingdom was published, are the ones Klavan has most immediately in mind for this project: not all young men, of course, but the many who seem to be drifting, seem to have lost their way. And this in no way implies that other readers (seventy-plus old men like me, for instance, not to mention women of all ages) will find nothing of interest here. In fact, the “lostness” of many young men these days, much analyzed in various sharply differing contexts, is a particular case of the lostness, the fallenness, that all humans share.
If you’ve read Philip K. Dick, you’ll recall his fondness for shuttling his protagonists back and forth between different realities (sometimes accomplished by positing parallel “time-streams”). This is at once powerfully disorienting (evoking the uncertainty about bedrock reality that most of us experience from time to time) and—for the reader, as opposed to the character who is being jerked around—very entertaining, sometimes comical. Near the start of the first book in the trilogy, as I explained last year, Austin Lively passes through a doorway in Hollywood “and suddenly finds himself in a vaguely medieval setting (‘Galiana’) and in immediate peril. Before long (via another doorway), he finds himself back in Hollywood. And so it goes through the course of the book, back and forth.” That pattern persists in Book Two, The Nightmare Feast. And the trick never goes stale: Disorientation and comedy are perfectly balanced. (Read more.)

From HIT:
Alfred Hitchcock had a big influence on me, and he was always the first guy to use some new development in a creative way: sound, color, slackening censorship. He didn’t just use it, he worked with it. I love writing prose and when I started out, novelists were the top of the creative food chain. Who would be the next Hemingway and so on. 
That’s changed. 
The novel reaches fewer people now, very few young people. But at the same time, these new technologies have come along. I’d be crazy not to use them. Plus, it forces me to examine what my strengths are, which will make the transition, which not. I preach this kind of creative flexibility to other artists, so yeah, I want to practice it myself. (Read more.) 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Madame de Montespan and the Affair of the Poisons

From All That's Interesting:
The Marquise de Montespan continued to reign over the card tables and dance halls of Versailles. Louis XIV may have been the “Sun King,” but the Marquise de Montespan had an orbit all her own. According again to the Duc de Saint Simon, the marquise: “became the epicenter of the court, its pleasures and its fortunes, a source of both hope and terror for ministers and generals.”

Of course, this kind of power is seldom without a price, particularly for women in history. Like Marie-Antoinette after her, the Marquise de Montespan’s proximity to power was just kindling for her critics. As the maîtresse-en-titre, Madame de Montespan represented all that was hedonistic and amoral about Versailles. While this reputation undoubtedly made her desirable to men, it was also damning in an overwhelmingly Catholic 17th-century France. (Read more.)

One Doctor's Clinical Perspective

From Vox Populi:
I am an ER MD in New Orleans. Class of 98. Every one of my colleagues have now seen several hundred Covid 19 patients and this is what I think I know. Clinical course is predictable. 2-11 days after exposure (day 5 on average) flu-like symptoms start. Common are fever, headache, dry cough, myalgias(back pain), nausea without vomiting, abdominal discomfort with some diarrhea, loss of smell, anorexia, fatigue. Day 5 of symptoms- increased SOB, and bilateral viral pneumonia from direct viral damage to lung parenchyma. 
Day 10- Cytokine storm leading to acute ARDS and multiorgan failure. You can literally watch it happen in a matter of hours. 81% mild symptoms, 14% severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, 5% critical. Patient presentation is varied. Patients are coming in hypoxic (even 75%) without dyspnea. I have seen Covid patients present with encephalopathy, renal failure from dehydration, DKA. I have seen the bilateral interstitial pneumonia on the xray of the asymptomatic shoulder dislocation or on the CT's of the (respiratory) asymptomatic polytrauma patient. Essentially if they are in my ER, they have it. Seen three positive flu swabs in 2 weeks and all three had Covid 19 as well. 
Somehow this ***** has told all other disease processes to get out of town. China reported 15% cardiac involvement. I have seen covid 19 patients present with myocarditis, pericarditis, new onset CHF and new onset atrial fibrillation. I still order a troponin, but no cardiologist will treat no matter what the number in a suspected Covid 19 patient. Even our non covid 19 STEMIs at all of our facilities are getting TPA in the ED and rescue PCI at 60 minutes only if TPA fails. (Read more.)

From RealClearPolitics:
Please for the reassurance of people around the world, to wake up this morning and look at people talking about creating DNR situations, Do Not Resuscitate situations for patients, there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion. You can be thinking about it in the hospital. Certainly, hospitals talk about this on a daily basis, but to say that to the American people and make the implication that when they need a hospital bed it's not going to be there or a ventilator, it's not going to be there, we don't have evidence of that.

It's our job collectively to assure the American people, it's our job to make sure that doesn't happen. You can see the cases are concentrated in highly urban areas and there are other parts of the states that have lots of ventilators and other parts of New York state that don't have any infected. We can meet the needs by being responsive.

There is no model right now -- no reality on the ground where we can see that 60% to 70% of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks. I want to be clear about that. We are adapting to the reality on the ground and looking at the models of how they can inform but learning from South Korea and Italy and from Spain and I know you will look up my numbers. (Read more.)