Another carnival of the animals posting

Starting with a new recording of Carnival of the Animals. Saint-Saëns at his harmonious and melodious best. It’s the Kanneh-Mason clan, with additions. Sheku, as of now the most celebrated of this much celebrated classical family, has his big cello moment with the Swan.

Relatedly, “i” reports that the way animals communicate is evolving so that it remains audible above the din made by humans.

This Is Why I’m Broke tells of a squirrel proof bird feeder, with explanatory video.

And then there’s this: Canada battles Norway for tallest moose statue.

More seriously, it is being said the Brexit has enabled Boris Johnson to unveil a ban on live animal exports.

Most significantly of all, when it comes to the ever changing relationship between animals and humans, Singapore becomes the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown meat. See also this earlier posting here, about steps in that same direction in Israel.

LATER: No official ephemera this Friday at David Thompsons, but via the a comment on the latest posting there, here’s a competitive canine in action. The enjoyment is palpable. I love how the dogs in the audience join in with their encouraging barks.

OOPS: There are some David Thompson ephemera today, starting with a couple of cats.

The President of Turkmenistan expresses his love of dogs with a golden statue

Here:

Says Eurasianet:

The new monument that was commissioned several years ago puts the Alabai in exalted company at the forefront of state propaganda.

The Alabai being a breed of dog. The statue, which is in the middle of a roundabout, celebrates the entire breed, rather than any individual dog.

Previously the only animal to be celebrated in local sculpture was the Akhal-Teke horse. …

So, aside from dog statues, how has Turkmenistan been doing lately? Not so well, it would seem:

Berdymukhamedov’s professed love of native animals, expressed through poetry as well as more encyclopedic works, has only grown as the country slides deeper into an economic crisis …

Don’t take your people’s minds off their miseries with foreign wars. Do it with a dog statue!

This is why they call it death bowling

Shaheen Shah Afridi, bowling for Hampshire against Middlesex this afternoon:

All bowled. And that, ladies and gents, is how you finish off a T20 cricket match.

Hampshire had only won the one game in this tournament until today, but at least they finished well. Last four balls of their season, I think.

Surrey also did well today, against Kent. Surrey were terrible earlier in the season, but are now on a T20 roll. Jason Roy today made 72, which is about as many runs as he’s made in all the other games he’s played this year, for Surrey and for England.

LATER: Closer than “about”. Roy got 72 today, and before that had scored a total of 73 runs in all other games this year, 49 for England, and 24 for Surrey.

Matt Ridley tells how vaccination became established in England

I have started reading Matt Ridley’s book about How Innovation Works. Here (pages 50-55) is his description of how vaccinating people against smallpox went from being fiercely criticised by the medical experts of the time, to becoming standard medical practice:

In the same year that Thomas Newcomen was building his first steam engine, 1712, and not far away, a more romantic episode was in train, and one that would indirectly save even more lives. It was much higher up the social scale. Lady Mary Pierrepoint, a well-read, headstrong young woman of twenty-three, was preparing to elope in order to escape the prospect of a dull marriage. Her wealthy suitor, Edward Wortley Montagu, with whom she had carried on a voluminous correspondence characterized by furious disagreement as well as outrageous flirtation, had failed to agree a marriage settlement with her even wealthier father, the Earl (later Duke) of Kingston. But the prospect of being forced by her father to marry instead a pecunious dullard, the Honourable Clotworthy Skeffington, persuaded Mary to rekindle the romance with Wortley (as she called him). She proposed elopement, and he, despite thus missing out on her dowry, and in a fit of uncharacteristic impetuosity, agreed. The episode turned to farce: he was late, she set off for the rendezvous alone, he overtook her at an inn but did not realize she was there, but after further mishaps they found each other and married on 15 October 1712 in Salisbury.

After this romantic start the marriage was a disappointment, Wortley proving a cold and unimaginative husband. His bride – learned, eloquent and witty – cut a swathe through literary London, writing eclogues with Alexander Pope in the style of Virgil, and befriending the literary lions and social tigers of the day. Joseph Spence would later write: ‘Lady Mary is one of the most extraordinary shining characters in the world; but she shines like a comet; she is all irregular and always wandering. She is the most wise, most imprudent; loveliest, disagreeablest; best natured, cruellest woman in the world.’

Then smallpox marked her skin and made her reputation. This vicious virus, humankind’s greatest killer, was constantly a threat in early-eighteenth-century London. It had recently killed Queen Mary and her nephew, the young Duke of Gloucester, the last Stuart heir to the throne who was not Catholic; it had almost killed the Electress of Hanover, Sophia, and her son George, destined to be the next king of England instead. It killed Lady Mary’s brother in 1714 and very nearly killed her the next year, leaving her badly scarred and lacking in eyelashes, her beauty cruelly ravaged.

But it was smallpox that would bring her lasting fame, for she became one of the first, and certainly one of the most passionate, champions in the Western world of the innovative practice of inoculation. In 1716 her husband was sent as ambassador to Constantinople and Lady Mary accompanied him with her young son. She did not invent inoculation, she did not even bring the news of it for the first time, but being a woman she was able to witness in detail the practice among women cloistered in Ottoman society, and then to champion it back home among mothers terrified for their children, to the point where it caught on. She was an innovator, not an inventor.

Two reports had reached the Royal Society in London from Constantinople of the practice of ‘engrafting’ as a cure for smallpox. According to the correspondents, Emmanuel Timonius and Giacomo Pylarini, both physicians working in the Ottoman Empire, the pus from a smallpox survivor would be mixed with the blood in a scratch on the arm of a healthy person. The reports were published by the Royal Society but dismissed as dangerous superstition by all the experts in London. More likely to spark an epidemic than prevent it; an unconscionable risk to be running with people’s health; an old wives’ tale; witchcraft. Given the barbaric and unhelpful practices of doctors at the time, such as bloodletting, this was both ironic and perhaps understandable.

It seems the Royal Society had been told of the practice even earlier, in 1700, by two correspondents in China, Martin Lister and Clopton Havers. So there was nothing new about this news. But where these doctors failed to persuade the British, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had better luck. On 1 April 1718 she wrote to her friend Sarah Chiswell from Turkey with a detailed account of inoculation:

The smallpox, so fatal and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of engrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of women who make it their business to perform the operation … When they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman comes with a nutshell full of the matter of the best sort of smallpox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which gives you no more pain than a common scratch) and puts into the vein as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle … There is no example of anyone that has died in it, and you may believe I am well satisfied of the safety of the experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son. I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England.

Lady Mary did indeed engraft her son Edward, anxiously watching his skin erupt in self-inflicted pustules before subsiding into immunized health. It was a brave moment. On her return to London she inoculated her daughter as well, and became infamous for her championing of the somewhat reckless procedure – a sort of version of the trolley problem so beloved of moral philosophers: do you divert a runaway truck from a line where it will kill five people to another line where it will kill one? Do you deliberately take one risk to avoid a greater one? By then, some doctors had joined the cause, notably Charles Maitland. His inoculation of the children of the Prince of Wales in 1722 was a significant moment in the campaign. But even afterwards there was furious denunciation of the barbaric practice. Misogyny and prejudice lay behind some of it, as when Dr William Wagstaffe pronounced: ‘Posterity will scarcely be brought to believe that an experiment practised only by a few ignorant women amongst an illiterate and unthinking people should on a sudden – and upon a slender Experience – so far obtain in one of the politest nations in the world as to be received into the Royal Palace.’

In America, the practice of inoculation arrived around the same time, through the testimony of an African slave named Onesimus, who told the Boston preacher Cotton Mather about it, possibly as early as 1706, who in turn informed the physician Zabdiel Boylston. For trying inoculation on 300 people, Boylston was subject to fierce criticism and life-threatening violence, abetted by rival physicians to the point where he had to hide for fourteen days in a secret closet lest the mob kill him. Innovation often requires courage.

In due course inoculation with smallpox itself – later known as variolation – was replaced by the safer but similar practice of vaccination, that is to say, using a related but less dangerous virus than smallpox, an innovation usually credited to Edward Jenner. In 1796 he deliberately infected an eight-year-old boy, James Phipps, with cowpox from blisters on the hands of a milkmaid called Sarah Nelmes, who had caught it from a cow called Blossom. He then tried to infect Phipps with smallpox itself and showed that he was immune to it. This demonstration proof, not the vaccination itself, was his real contribution and the reason he had such an impact. The idea of deliberately giving people cowpox to immunize them against smallpox was by then already thirty years old. It had been tried by a physician named John Fewster in 1768, and by several other doctors in Germany and England in the 1770s. It was already probably in use among farmers before that date.

So, yet again, innovation proves to be gradual and to begin with the unlettered and ordinary people, before the elite takes the credit. That is perhaps a little unfair on Jenner, who, like Lady Mary Wortley, deserves fame for persuading the world to adopt the practice. Napoleon, despite being at war with Britain, had his armies vaccinated, on the strength of Jenner’s advocacy, and awarded Jenner a medal, calling him ‘one of the greatest benefactors of mankind’.

England v Pakistan: No spectators and all the time in the world

The first test match between England and Pakistan could be a terrible disappointment, for England fan me. But, as I write this now, it could get special. England are chasing 277, I think it is, in the fourth innings. Pakistan got a first innings lead of over a hundred, but then got bowled out for only 169, so England appear to have a chance. It’s the morning of the fourth day now, so England have two days to get those runs. Nobody is at the ground watching, other than the players not out on the pitch and the ground staff and the TV and radio commentators. But it turns out that mere spectators at the ground aren’t necessary for test cricket to be thoroughly absorbing. Test cricket can be played in front of a live studio audience. But if it isn’t, nothing important seems to change.

Basically, if England start losing wickets now, as they well might according to what I’m hearing about plays and misses, then Pakistan will surely win later today, by quite a lot. If England can somehow hang about until tomorrow, they have a chance.

Oh dear. England one down already.

LATER:

England are nevertheless now hurtling towards their target.

LATER: Three quick wickets. England now four down and sinking fast. Shame. Looks like being all over today. The next LATER in this looks being that.

LATER: Well if you follow the first link at the top of this you will now know what a win this was for England, and with the final day not needed. Following those dots above, England lost a flurry of wickets and were at one point 117-5. But Buttler and Woakes turned it around, first by counter-attacking (that being why the final day was not needed) and then by, well, just batting. Buttler got out before the end, but Woakes stayed to the end.

The weird thing is: It would be logical if both Buttler and Woakes now got dropped. Buttler kept wicket very badly, and his batting has not usually been nearly this good. Woakes might be dropped if Stokes is fit to bowl. Given that Stokes actually did some bowling, he surely will be able to bowl. More likely though is that Buttler will stay, and they’ll hope he keeps better in the future. And Anderson will get dropped. Wibble wibble wibble. What the hell do I know? What a game.

In which Patrick Crozier tells me that the Americans could and should have won the Vietnam War

This was in the course of our latest recorded conversation, which we had over the phone (by which I mean my phone and his computer) last Wednesday, and which has just been posted at Croziervision, with further verbals from Patrick.

Which I recommend, even if you don’t listen to the thing itself. Patrick’s posting is even more informative and full of pertinent links than usual. In particular, I draw your attention to the link concerning the Case-Church Amendment, which Patrick identifies as the moment (it happened in June 1973) when an American victory, having been pretty much won on the battlefield, was then thrown away by the US Congress.

Another Twitter dump

I had a Twitter dump earlier. It feels so good to be getting this stuff out of my system, so here’s another. Again, in no particular order, and not chosen for bang-up-to-dateness, just funness and interestingness.

It maybe makes things a bit clearer if I indent the tweet references, and then unindent at the end, at which point I’ll be having a bit more to say:

What concrete blocks are made of in China.

Ghostbusters.

The Battle of France in 44 seconds.

This family built a hug guard.

Baihe reservoir (白河水庫) in Tainan county is at once both shockingly ugly and stunningly beautiful.

BBC’s Jeremy Bowen says there haven’t been all that many terrorist attacks in Israel.

Everyone who was worrying he was a fascist now worrying he’s not fascist enough.

150-foot iceberg passes through Iceberg Alley.

My boyfriend cheated on me, but, I love him. What should I do? A Georgist: Implement a land value tax.

James Burke had only one chance to film this scene, and the result is possibly the best timed shot in television history.

Jeremy Corbin won the argument.

The lockdown is ending because the American people say it’s ending.

I miss those carefree pre-coronavirus days when nobody died at all.

In each of the above cases, you get most of the tweet, and sometimes all of it. So, if all you want to know is what the tweet said, no need to click. But if you want to know who else besides me thought the tweets in question to be funny or interesting, click away.

And that has actually done the trick. To my great surprise I have actually cleared out all this tweetery from my hard disc and from now on my computer will surely be functioning better, until such time as I need another similar dump. There remain only a few animal-related tweets which are already scheduled to appear this coming Friday.

A classic looking up photo

I don’t care what the article’s about. I just love the photo at the top of it:

It’s a piece in Quillette.

But where is that? That the plane is so low says Hong Kong to me, but what do I know? The nearest I’ve been to Hong Kong is Greece.

Just learned about the existence of …

DRACULA PARROTS. Me to. But how did he learn this? Doesn’t say. Hate that. Scroll down, scroll down. Here we go:

Despite it’s name and vulture-like visage, the Dracula Parrot is actually not bloodthirsty at all. It feeds almost exclusively on just a few species of figs, …

Could’ve googled this but I thought he made up the name “Dracula Parrot” himself and that I’d only get back to the original tweet.

Now, if you are looking to see a bird that is truly vampiric, look no further than the vampire finch, …

Pass. Had enough vampire birds for now.

Japanese report says dictator is in a vegetative state

The vegitative state in question being North Korea.

Other inevitable headlines will will be variations on the theme of “Undead”.

FIRE UP THE MEME FACTORIES.

LATER: “Is he alive? Is he dead? For the moment, I’m calling him Schrodinger’s Dictator.” Ha.