Monday, March 02, 2015

Coffee and Provocation

No Trophy for You
The German Shepherd has won Best in Show at Westminster only once, in 1987. The Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever have never won.

Plague Rises in Africa
More grain planting in Africa, combined with dry thatched roofs, means more rodents and more black plague. The recent flurry of articles about the plague originally being carried by gerbils is nonsense, and shows lack of understanding of how and where black rats lived in the Middle Ages. They lived up high, in warm dry thatched roofs -- hence the term "roof rat." The "oriental rat fleas" (Xenopsylla cheopis) on these black roof rats originated in Mongolia among Tarvag (tarvaga), and it is the flea on the Tarvag that first carried Yersinia pestis to Europe, probably in the form of Tarvag skins used in shoe-making, as marmot hides are very tough. Along with Tarvag and black rats, the Xenopsylla cheopis flea can also be carried by American prarie dogs, but the wet and cold that we have here in the eastern part of the U.S. keeps the plague out of our local groundhog population.

Faith Trumped by Fact on GMO
Bill Nye ran on faith and ignorance. Then, after 10 years, he actually went and got the facts. And then he shifted his position. Because faith always folds to facts, or else it's not science. Read the whole thing.

Hell on Wheels
This who have watched "Hell on Wheels" will recognize the character. More real in that series than you would imagine!

Cloning Now-Extinct Species Will Someday Be Possible  
A frozen baby woolly rhino has been uncovered in Siberia.

Maryland is a Horrible Place
Maryland is a horrible place and Virginia is even worse. Full of ticks, Lyme disease, and drunken hillbillies. It's like Deliverance, but without the good soundtrack. Stay away!

Kiss Me, I'm Vaccinated
Great shirt. And half profits to UNICEF for vaccines. Do it!

Anti-Vaxxers are Dangerous
In 2013, measles killed more kids than car accidents or AIDS.

Congressman and His Family Are Dangerous
The tree of stupid is (eventually) self-pruning: GOP Chair of House Science and Tech Subcommittee: I Didn't Vaccinate My Kids


Peter Apps said...

Hi Patrick,
On the plague - the reservoir of plague in Africa is multimammate mice (Mastomys sp), not black rats (Rattus rattus), and the article you link to on gerbils and plague outbreaks in Europe does a particularly thorough job of trivialising and misreporting the original paper at

What will it take for anti-vaxxers to remounce their faith ? - I doubt that anything less than their kids dying is likely to be enough.

PBurns said...

THANKS Peter. I read the article quickly a few days ago and got it wrong in the writing this morning, as I was rushing to get the ice cleared off to cars and the drive and the walkways.

Just took a moment to add a few links to a few bits and bobs on plague here in U.S. -- it's endemic in our prairie dog towns thanks to Chinese illegal immigration around 1900. Rain and cold keeps it off our east coast.

Peter Apps said...

I don't have the details, but if I recall correctly plague was introduced to southern Africa by indentured labourers from India landing in Durban. It then spread to the local rodents. Sleeping sickness reached East Africa at the end of the 19th century and killed hundreds of thousands of people dues to movement of infected people from West Africa. People are dangerous to be around !

The multimammate mice are particularly troublesome because they readily move into houses where their fleas can bite people, and every so often their populations explode and provide perfect conditions for plague to spread and then jump species.

In some ways it is better to catch plague in Africa than in America, because the doctors here spot the symptoms immediately, and treat appropriately.