How humanity fought infectious disease before vaccination

Siddartha Mukherjee, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the magisterial “The Emperor of All Maladies,” a history of cancer, wrote in The New Yorker last month about the history of our ability to control infectious disease. The answer for one plague came came from the East, from an era before doctors and medical science. It’sContinue reading “How humanity fought infectious disease before vaccination”

Ishmael, meet Queequeg: the estranged genius of Melville

In a dazzling essay on the true story behind “Moby Dick,” Carl Safina reminds us of the opening of that great novel, in which the seafarer Ishmael meets Queequeg, a sailor of “cannibalistic” heritage. They are thrown into bed together, much to Ishmael’s discomfort, but he ends up respecting Queequeg all the more, after sleepingContinue reading “Ishmael, meet Queequeg: the estranged genius of Melville”

Fauci leads: Trump flails

From Michael Spector in The New Yorker, How Anthony Fauci became America’s Doctor, three weeks ago today: “Just before midnight on March 22nd, the President of the United States prepared to tweet. Millions of Americans, in the hope of safeguarding their health and fighting the rapidly escalating spread of covid-19, had already begun to follow theContinue reading “Fauci leads: Trump flails”

“Hello, Walls” — the song of the pandemic

Willie Nelson’s first-ever hit, now a classic country song. Performed here by Willie himself on Colbert, with his sons Micah and Lukas. Finale slightly rewritten for the moment: We got to all stick together Or else we’ll lose our minds I got a feeling — we’re going to be here A long long time.

The Grim Reaper on the Florida beach

Inspired apparently by a 2017 anti-drowning public health campaign in New Zealand, an attorney and comic in Florida has launched a campaign for social distancing on Florida beaches. The particular and phenomenal work of living art above comes from the New Zealand campaign, but the similarly themed Grim Reaper tour is on now in Florida,Continue reading “The Grim Reaper on the Florida beach”

Another way to slice the county Covid data in CA

Yesterday I posted an interesting chart showing Ventura County at the bottom of a list of top 20 or so California counties for COVID-19 incidence and fatality rate. Today as a reporter I had the opportunity to speak to the designer of the web app, Dr. Chris Barker of UC Davis, about these numbers. HeContinue reading “Another way to slice the county Covid data in CA”

“Living in the future now”: science fiction vs. reality

“Our point of departure was, we’re at an inflection point. The future isn’t some place ahead of us; we’re living in the future at this moment.” So said Tim Sexton, describing the process of writing the 2006 movie Children of Men with director Alfonso Cuaron, explaining the harsh realism of tone that Cuaron went for.Continue reading ““Living in the future now”: science fiction vs. reality”

“We’re living in the future”: rainfall variability

The Ojai Valley News encouraged me while at a scientific conference in San Francisco last December to pursue a story about rainfall variability in Ojai and Southern California: here it begins. “Last month was one of the driest Februaries ever in the recorded history of Southern California, according to the National Weather Service, with one-tenthContinue reading ““We’re living in the future”: rainfall variability”