In This Week’s Show, episode 235, we’re gonna wrap up DQB in a lovely smallpox blanket with help from patriotic nurses south of the border.
Now, grab a beer and help us test the god hypothesis — because, while Rangi – the Maori Sky god and ‘great father of men’ – hasn’t struck us down yet, we are trying his patience!
Shea’s Life Lesson
This week I learned that geology rocks but geography is where it’s at!
Jenn’s Actual Lesson
Did you know the ‘Diamond Sutra’ is the world’s oldest book with a definite print date? Dated “the 13th of the fourth moon of the ninth year of Xiantong”, or 11 May AD 868, it’s a 5 meter long scroll, written in Chinese and currently held in the British Library, and contains lessons from the Buddha, who gave the text its name by declaring the teachings will “cut like a diamond blade”.
So, the day after this episode airs in general release the Diamond Sutra will celebrate it’s 2,887th publishing birthday.
Jim’s Good Gay Whatever
He’s Big Gay Jim on Waiting 4 Wrath – Remotely
But before we get to all that, let’s have a beer!
This Week’s Beer
Pentagram by Surly Brewing
Donated By: Jaded Zappa
- BA Link: bit.ly/2ZQWIDn
- BA Rating: 4.15 out of 5
- Style: American Wild Ale
- ABV: 6.66%
- Aaron: 4
- Jenn: 2
- Jim: Rum
- Shea: 6
- Steve: 1
This Week’s Show
Round Table Discussion
PATRONS! Plural! Thanks to Matt B. and Jon H. Also Willow upped her donation so she’s obviously not the evil Willow (Buffy reference for the win!!!!)
Jenn got to meet fellow podcasters and friends of the show Dustin and Lauren of Atheist Nomads, and their tiny pod-producer Kylie while in Boise.
We’ve mentioned this to patrons already (see, #itsgoodtobeapatron) but I’d like to soft-announce forthcoming show changes. We’ve hinted at changes for a while and some, like the new logo, have happened. Others faded away or were so subtle as to not warrant mentioning, however, this one’s a doozy. The changes will accommodate yet unannounced production challenges (that hopefully won’t be apparent in the final show), make over-all production easier on us, and address the terribly depressing state of reading the news in 2019. In a nutshell, we’re going to do a weekly longform topic, driven by a single host – think bigger second halves… whole halves, if you will. We’ll still do beers, a happy closing story, and of course Patrons will still get a unique story and access to any bonus content that happens to happen. So there’s still plenty of reason to visit patreon.com/w4w and support the show! We’re aiming for this change to happen in early June, but it may be a bit sooner… I say all of this to say, fear not! The show will still be a drunken, irreverent, silly-good time! Of course we’re interested in your input so tweet us, leave us a message at 513-760-0463, or if you really want to get our attention, the comments section of Patreon is great for that ;)
DQB Wrap Up!
Let’s talk about You and Me, let’s talk about DQB!
Humans are the worst right? But you know what makes you a better human, donating to us at patreon.com/w4w! Not only will it improve your karma it will get you immediate access to this story!
See, this is why I Don’t want to read the news anymore…
Everything is dying everywhere and it’s our fault. Proving that you don’t need the infinity stones to board the genocide train, scientists released a 1,500 page report that says, in short, there are too many humans and our impact on the Earth has put as many as 1 million species in danger of extinction. While the full report is due out next year 131 countries – including the US somehow – approved the released .. pre-report, I guess, which was made by hundreds of scientists from thousands of other papers. It’s the largest report compiled on the state of our world, and it’s fucking depressing.
In the last century the human population crossed 7 billion and is now well on it’s way to 8. Meanwhile, the world’s major harbors of life like the rainforest and Africa’s savanna have seen more than a 20% drop in animal and plant life. So that’s real bad. Activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.” Which is to say nothing of the status quo before we learned to destroy everything around us for fun and profit. To make matters worse, none of these findings include the effects of climate change. If you go sticking those numbers in we’re all properly fucked. “For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake,” said Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which conducted the assessment at the request of national governments. “But this report makes clear the links between biodiversity and nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries.“ So let’s do some maths: 23% of the world’s arable land is being negatively affected by current agricultural practices; wild, flying, murder drones – or bees and they’re called by the lay community – have been dying off to the tune of $577 billion in annual crop production at risk, which will starve millions; loss of forests and coral reefs put some 300 million in imminent flood risk; and 85% of the world’s wetlands have dried up, flooded, or otherwise gone the way of the dodo since the 18th century. In conclusion, by 2050 the world will be a virtual hellscape of trash, carcasses, desolated cities, and the remaining human marauders will kill us, eat our flesh, and sew our skin into their clothes, and if we’re very lucky, they’ll do it in that order… Reever jokes aside, read the linked article from the Times, it’s… sobering.
Not all Nurses Wear Dresses…
Just the sexy ones who don’t really know how to use a stethoscope.
Many of us seek memetic-immortality but not everyone can be Cesar, Gandhi, or Iron Man. Some of us have to settle for our terrible dick jokes living on through the internet… or win a Guinness record or something. Honestly, podcasting is easier. Especially when the record you’re vying for is “Fastest marathon time dresses as a nurse.” Because… you know… running sucks but running jokes are easy.
Speaking of… running, registered nurse Jessica Anderson was told that the Guinness criteria for a nurse’s uniform was a dress, a pinafore (which I had to Google, it’s basically an apron or a apron-esque romper) and cap, but don’t worry, tights are optional #progress. Jessica ran the marathon in her scrubs, because they’re made for endurance activities like running and healthcare. Also nurses wear scrubs. Also, who the fuck wears a yee-olde dress to a marathon? She finished the race in in three hours, eight minutes and 54 seconds, 22 seconds faster than the previous record, but Guinness denied her record for lack of “heellllooooo Nurse” factors. So that’s all shitty and sexist. The nursing community has rallied behind her including “some of the male nurses I work with are really hopeful that they do change the definition,” she said. The story has prompted #WhatNursesWear, which has been great. Nurses are tweeting pics of themselves in their duty clothes, including registered nurses who are able to wear biz casual or just leggings and whatever they like, including folks like Bill Hopkinson who is pretty sure he’s never worn a dress… you know… to work. Guinness World Records has now responded, agreeing it is time for a review.
In a statement, it said that “inclusiveness and respect” were values it holds “extremely dear”.
It continued: “While we always need to ensure we can differentiate between categories, it is quite clear that this record title and associated guidelines is long overdue a review, which we will conduct as a priority in the coming days.”
But she said it was most important that officials modernise the guidelines.
“I would be quite happy if they changed it in the future or acknowledged that it’s sexist and it’s not really how we want the profession to be represented.”
Today I have a story about EDUCATIONAL HISTORY (ree…ree…ree…ree)!!
It’s not particularly weird, but it’s time appropriate, both in an anniversary sense and it’s more current event-y than it ever should be.
Traveling back in time to May 14, 1796 in rural England, we see the incredibly influential scientist, Dr. Edward Jenner, introducing his most celebrated invention. And now since we live in the most backwards of timelines it has become his most controversial. What was this history altering, millions of lives saving, now somehow debated event? That was the day Dr. Jenner put into use his newly developed smallpox vaccine. Yep, in case you weren’t already aware Dr. Edward Jenner was the father of the innovation of medical vaccinations.
Please see his May pin-up for Sultry Georgian Era Scientists Monthly, complete with accessory of cow illustration. (Cowpox features into the story, hold on.)
Full disclosure: despite being considered the father of immunology, he was not the first to suggest that exposure to lighter doses of the same or similar illnesses would confer at least some form of immunity. I’ll cover that soon.
Anyway, that’s right(!), I’m gonna talk about the history of vaccinations and exactly what they did for the progress of human society (spoiler alert: a lot more people survived).
First we need to learn a bit about the disease that was the first to be inoculated against: the now naturally eradicated smallpox. I say now naturally eradicated bc first off that how’s awesome vaccinations are and secondly (and scarily) it’s considered an excellent potential bioterror weapon. (Just an FYI: in late 1975, Rahima Banu, a three-year-old girl from Bangladesh, was the last known person in the world to have naturally acquired smallpox, per the CDC. She did survive and an intensive vaccination campaign around her home prevented any others from becoming infected.)
Smallpox was a devastating disease for pretty much all of known human history. It’s believed to have appeared sometime around 10,000 BC as humans in NE Africa were beginning the first agricultural communities. From ncbi.gov (US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health): The earliest evidence of skin lesions resembling those of smallpox is found on faces of mummies from the time of the 18th and 20th Egyptian Dynasties (1570–1085 bc). The mummified head of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses V (died 1156 bc) bears evidence of the disease. At the same time, smallpox has been reported in ancient Asian cultures: smallpox was described as early as 1122 bc in China and is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts of India.
As humans began to develop trade routes, unsurprisingly, more than goods and services were shared. Smallpox was introduced to Europe sometime between the fifth and seventh centuries and was frequently epidemic during the Middle Ages, as if they needed more things to die from. And then of course as the New World was discovered we had a few smallpox highlights: the 16th Century – European colonization and the African slave trade import smallpox into the Caribbean and Central and South America while for the 17th Century – European colonization imports smallpox into North America (oh, and lest we forget our Aussie friends, Great Britain brought it to the Oz land in the 18th century).
Fun fact, the term ‘small pockes’ (pocke meaning sac) was first used in England at the end of the 15th century to distinguish the disease from syphilis, which was then known as the great pockes.
We’ve probably all heard how the Native Americans were decimated by the introduction of European diseases. Smallpox was introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors to Southern and Central America. The disease decimated the local population and was instrumental in the fall of the empires of the Aztecs and the Incas. Similarly, on the eastern coast of North America, the disease was introduced by the early settlers and led to a decline in the native population. The devastating effects of smallpox also gave rise to one of the first examples of biological warfare. Again from ncbi.com: During the French-Indian War (1754–1767), Sir Jeffrey Amherst, the commander of the British forces in North America, suggested the deliberate use of smallpox to diminish the American Indian population hostile to the British(he was the flaming asshole who initiated the ‘gifts’ of smallpox infected blankets) . Another factor contributing to smallpox in the Americas was the slave trade because many slaves came from regions in Africa where smallpox was endemic.
To put that information into perspective, smallpox in the Old World killed about 30% of those afflicted (while blinding and disfiguring many others), but when brought to lands that have never been exposed the fatality rate was closer to 90%.
Starting around the last thousand years or so, it began to be understood that those who had survived smallpox didn’t develop it again, so they often became the de facto care givers. (Interesting side note, the “caregiving” wasn’t so much. This fake-care involved herbal remedies, bloodletting and exposing them to red objects. One prominent 17th-century English doctor realized that those who could afford care actually seemed to be dying at a higher rate than those who couldn’t. Yet that didn’t stop him from telling a smallpox-infected pupil to leave the windows open, to draw the bed sheets no higher than his waist and to drink profuse quantities of beer. Helpful!) This rudimentary understanding of the disease led to what became known as variolation, a very early form of inoculation (warning, this gets a little gross). Variolation involved taking pus or powdered scabs from patients with a mild case of the disease and inserting them into the skin or nose of susceptible, healthy people. Ideally, the healthy people would suffer only a slight infection this way and, in so doing, would develop immunity to future outbreaks. Some people did die, but at a much lower rate than those who contracted smallpox naturally. Practiced first in Asia and Africa, variolation spread to the Ottoman Empire around 1670 and then to the rest of Europe within a few decades. Its first proponent in the present-day United States was Cotton Mather, a Puritan minister best known for vigorously supporting the Salem witch trials (more proof a broken clock is right twice a day). Benjamin Franklin, who lost a son to smallpox, was another early American supporter.
But this minor…band-aid of healthcare did little to staunch the destructive flow of smallpox’s havoc. In the 18th century in Europe, 400,000 people died annually of smallpox, and one third of the survivors went blind. The ‘speckled monster’ as it was colloquially referred to, struck suddenly and viciously. The case-fatality rate varied from 20% to 60% and left most survivors with disfiguring scars. The case-fatality rate in infants was even higher, approaching 80% in London and 98% in Berlin during the late 1800s.
But now, around the turn of the 18th century Dr. Edward Jenner swaggers onto the scientific stage. He was quite the science-y Renaissance man: he studied geology and carried out experiments on human blood. In 1784, after seeing public demonstrations of hot air and hydrogen balloons he Jenner built and twice launched his own hydrogen balloon. It flew 12 miles (yay?). He also spent time studying the cuckoo bird and was the first to publish a paper noting how the cuckoos are giant, lazy asshole who lay eggs in other birds nest to be raised mostly at the expense of the lives of the foster parent-birds own chicks. (Interestingly, while this paper was accepted in many naturalist circles, it was also widely ridiculed. For more than a century, antivax dum-dums used the supposed defects of the cuckoo study to cast doubt on Jenner’s other work.)
Anyway, moving on to his most influential discovery, Jenner used the rural legend/rumor/wives tale that milkmaids never developed smallpox because most all were exposed to cowpox (a closely related but much milder virus).
In 1796 he found a young dairymaid, Sarah Nelms, who had fresh cowpox lesions on her hands and arms and, using matter from Nelms’ lesions, he inoculated an 8-year-old boy, James Phipps on May 14th of that year. Subsequently, the boy developed mild fever and discomfort in the shoulder/armpit area.. Nine days after the procedure he felt cold and had lost his appetite, but on the next day he was much better. In July 1796, Jenner inoculated the boy again, this time with matter from a fresh smallpox lesion. No disease developed, and Jenner concluded that protection was complete.
Of course it wasn’t quite so simple and advances were necessary, but his original version of a vaccination was extremely successful. Within 18 months of the first inoculation, 12,000 persons in England had been vaccinated and the number of smallpox deaths dropped by two-thirds. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson wrote to Jenner in 1806, “Future generations will know by history only that the loathsome smallpox existed and by you has been extirpated.” (Not in any way to excuse the entire disgusting rape and slavery aspect of TJ, but it must have been nice to have had such a brilliant and eloquent president.)
Because the vaccine originally had to be transferred from arm to arm, its use spread slowly. It was also much less effective in tropical countries, where the heat caused it to quickly deteriorate. Nonetheless, one country after another managed to rid itself of the disease. The last reported U.S. case came in 1949. Spurred by two new technological advances—a heat-stable, freeze-dried vaccine and the bifurcated needle—the World Health Organization then launched a global immunization campaign in 1967 with the goal of wiping out smallpox once and for all. That year, there were 10 million to 15 million cases of smallpox and 2 million deaths, according to WHO estimates. Yet just a decade later, the number was down to ZERO.
So happy birthday to vaccines and I’m very sorry we have fucked up progress you created like the stupid troglodytes we are.
Next Week’s Beer
Black Currant Saison by White Elm Brewing
Donated By: Brendan
- BA Link: www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/44266/378698/
- BA Rating: 3.89 out of 5
- Style: Belgian Saison
- ABV: 6.5%
Faith In Humanity Restored
Here’s a potential story: www.cbsnews.com/news/trinity-dautorio-battling-cancer-disney-tattoo-sleeves-dad-neuroblastoma/
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