I’m not sure why colonial Americans thought they could succeed at blowing off the British to make their own country or countries, but that they needed to do something was obvious to a lot of people during the middle of the 18th century. In the end, it would turn out that the American Revolution was a little like a lot of other things that have happened in history (and prehistory): Very unlikely to have come out the way it did, because at so many junctures something quirky or unlikely happened, and shaped the course of events significantly. It might have been inevitable that the British living in the Americas would try out the whole Revolution thing, but once it got going there was no reason to expect it to work, and in fact it failed badly at many points. Many of the most important successes that would eventually be strung together in the post-hoc narrative we now tell as our country’s origin story were actually very lucky breaks.
Continue reading Why does Sarah Palin hate the truth? And why does she hate America?
Thirty years ago yesterday, “the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMR) published a report of five young men with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia who were treated at three different hospitals in Los Angeles, California.” (see This Blog Post for details). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly is a really fun journal to read. It contains the latest reports of, well, death and serious illness as a means of disseminating information in a way that will allow quick response. So, if there are suddenly a bunch of cases of some disease scattered across the country, this kind of reporting may allow the connection to be made to an event … quite literally, like the Superbowl or a Marching Band Competition or whatever … at which the disease spread, or perhaps a region of the country where vaccinations are being skipped, or where swine-based flu has jumped the fence into a human population, etc.
In the case of this report, the disease being reported was to eventually be named AIDS and the infection that caused it HIV.
So, happy anniversary AIDS epidemic!
I just have two comments on this: First, how I found out about a certain aspect of HIV infection (which turned out to be unimportant) and second, how everybody else found out about AIDS
Continue reading HIV, AIDS, MMR, NPR and WTF?
I’m sitting here looking at Antarctic Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide. I’ve never been to the Antarctic so I can’t tell you what I think of this book from the pragmatic angle of how well it works as a guide, but I can tell you that I’ve learned a number of things just looking at the book. For one thing, I had no idea that almost all tourist visits to Antarctica go to the same general area of the continent. I guess that makes sense given the geography of the region, but it had not occurred to me before.
I’ve guided a number of tours in Africa and some of my clients were very serious world travelers; More than once, I’ve had people who were just at one pole and were fitting in an Africa trip before their trip to the next pole. My sister and her husband, who have become very serious travelers over the last decade or so, have been there recently, and my BFF Laurie lived there for a year a little while back. She gave me some interesting items including a stack of Science Digest magazines that she found in the defunct research station under the South Pole. How cool is that? I figure I’ll get down there when some tourist company invites me as part of the entertainment.
And if I do go, I’ll probably carry the Antarctic Visitor’s Guide with me. As a wildlife guide, it covers a diversity of animals, mostly birds, but also sea mammals and even some plants. The book is heavy on advice for how to see and appreciate the wildlife. It occurs to me that it is probably not difficult to identify most birds and sea mammals in the Antarctic because there is relatively low diversity and high disparity (not too many species, and they are very different looking) and this is reflected in the fact that this book is heavy on information compared to field marks and lengthy discussion son how to tell one warbler apart from another when you hardly saw the thing in the first place.
(Oh, no warblers in Antarctica, by the way.)
If you are reading this blog post, you are probably looking for a book on Antarctic wildlife. And if that’s true, you are probably going to Antarctica. Enjoy your trip!