Tag Archives | plague

Why Should We Try?

Pic: Ashok Prabhu (CC)

Pic: Ashok Prabhu (CC)

What follows is a bit of my own internal dialogue that’s been built into why it would even be worth the effort to launch an international tour to speak about how gnosis is a term that we should all have a good grasp of.

In the discussions of what our real ends are, some ideas have come up that have sent me into a back and forth about the actual value of any of it.

Have you ever felt yourself slip into an existential funk in which ask, “Why the fuck should I even care? Why the fuck should I try?” I mean what’s the point? Many of us have been long disenchanted with Religion, Politics, Love and pretty much every other institution of this mad consensus reality that we call life.

Take for instance the viewpoint of Nisargadatta Maharaj, a Spiritual teacher in the Advaita Vedanta tradition in his exchange with an interviewer:

Q: There is suffering and bloodshed in East Pakistan at the present moment.Read the rest

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The Terrifying Beaked Plague Mask Of Historical Europe

plague mask

The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice on the disturbing origins of raven-nosed masks, which were worn by so-called “plague doctors” during times of mass death in Early Modern Europe:

The earliest textual description of the mask dates from the 17th century. Charles de Lorme, chief physician to Louis XIII and likely inventor behind the design, wrote:

The nose [is] half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with one [hole] on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and carry along the impression of the [herbs] enclosed further along in the beak.

A coherent germ theory did not emerge until the mid-19th century – de Lorme was trying to protect himself miasma, or poisonous vapours associated with decomposition and foul air.

It is difficult to know how ubiquitous the plague mask was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most physicians fled the city during outbreaks, leaving the dying to fend for themselves.

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Florida Hit By Invasion Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Giant Snails

giant african land snailWill this be how the world ends — covered in snail slime? Tampa’s WTSP reports:

Since September 8, 2011 when the snails were first found, the Florida Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have collected more than 40,000 of the Giant African snails.

The Giant African land snail is one of the largest land snails in the world, growing up to eight inches in length. State officials said this invasive species eats at least 500 different agricultural crops, can cause damage to plaster and stucco on homes and though rare, can carry rat lungworm, a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans.

The last reported outbreak and eradication of the Giant African land snail in Florida occurred in 1966 when a boy smuggled three Giant African land snails into Miami as pets and his grandmother released the snails into her garden. It’s not known how the latest outbreak started, but it’s illegal to bring the snails into the US without a permit.

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Deadly Virus Goes Missing From Texas Laboratory

Via CBS News, how the end of the world begins:

Officials say a vial containing a virus that can cause hemorrhagic fever has gone missing from a research facility in Galveston, but say there’s no reason to believe there’s a threat to the public. Officials suspect the missing vial containing the Guanarito virus was destroyed during the lab’s cleaning process but the investigation continues.

The University of Texas Medical Branch branch says the virus, native to Venezuela, is transmitted only through contact with Venezuelan rats. It is not believed to be able to survive in U.S. rodents or to be transmitted person-to-person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was immediately notified after the vial was discovered missing Wednesday.

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Swarm Of 30 Million Locusts Consumes Egypt

This certainly looks like the end of the world. The last time a swarm of a similar magnitude occurred was 2004, causing massive crop damage across the country. The prevalence of locust mega-outbreaks is expected to increase with global warming:

In Cairo, residents burned tires to create a black fog to keep the locusts from settling in the city. Swarms were also reported to have reached Egypt’s Red Sea city of Zafarana, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Cairo. The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement saying it had set up task forces to deal with the locust plague.

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Kentucky Town Terrorized By Swarm Of Millions Of Birds

Will global warming do us in by provoking multitudes of agitated, disease-laden birds to descend upon us? Via the Bangor Daily News:

Millions of birds have descended on a small Kentucky city this winter, fouling the landscape, scaring pets and raising the risk for disease in a real-life version of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror film, “The Birds.”

The blackbirds blacken the sky of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, before roosting at dusk, turn the landscape white with bird poop, and the disease they carry can kill a dog and sicken humans.

David Chiles, president of the Little River Audubon Society, said the migratory flocks’ roosting in the city rather than flying further south is tied to climate warming.

The birds also pose a serious health hazard because their droppings can carry a fungal disease which can cause lung infections and symptoms similar to pneumonia. It is particularly dangerous for people with compromised immune systems or respiratory ailments.

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Footage Released Showing British Military’s 1952 Biological Warfare Experiments On Monkeys

The horrific testing, conducted in secret and dubbed Operation Cauldron, took place offshore on a ship near the Isle of Lewis. Over the course of several months, dozens of terrified monkeys and thousands of guinea pigs were subjected to “germ bombs” containing bubonic plague and other deadly diseases, with many of the animals dying after a few days.

The project was part of the U.K. military’s effort to develop biological weapons that could be used on real people in a potental war against the Soviets. Needless to say, the Ministry of Defence was reluctant to release the incredibly disturbing 47-minute film documenting the experiments:

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Flesh-Eating Bacteria Mutation Now Spread By Sneezing And Handshakes

4014611539_bfdaef47d5My bet for how civilization will end in 2012…The worst strains of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” have largely been found within hospitals, but the newest version can be contracted far more easily and is spreading through the streets in Britain and the United States, the Daily Mail reports:

A flesh-eating form of pneumonia that is easily passed between healthy people on public transport is spreading across the UK, experts have warned.

The deadly strain of MRSA called USA300 passes easily through skin-to-skin contact. It can also survive on surfaces and so has the potential to be picked up on crowded buses and tubes. It was first seen in the U.S but cases are now being reported in the community and not just hospitals in Britain.

USA300 is resistant to treatment by several front-line antibiotics and can cause large boils on the skin. In severe cases, USA300 can lead to fatal blood poisoning or a form of pneumonia that can eat away at lung tissue.

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Frightening ‘Super Gonorrhea’ Strain Emerges

gty_gonorrhea_sc_110708_wgIt has been found in Japan, the country from which new strains have typically originated in the past. (Due to their love hotels?) It could go global in a decade, writes Reuters:

Scientists have found a “superbug” strain of gonorrhea in that is resistant to all antibiotics and say it could transform a once easily treatable infection into a global public health threat.

The new strain of the sexually transmitted disease — called H041 — cannot be killed by any currently recommended treatments for gonorrhea, leaving doctors with no other option than to try medicines so far untested against the disease.

Magnus Unemo of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, who discovered the strain with colleagues from Japan in samples from Kyoto, described it as both “alarming” and “predictable.”

In a telephone interview Unemo said the fact that the strain had been found first in Japan also followed an alarming pattern — “Japan has historically been the place for the first emergence and subsequent global spread of different types of resistance in gonorrhea,” he said.

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World’s Largest Cicada Brood Begins Hatching In U.S. South

cicadasIf the world is going to end this coming weekend, this seems about right. USA Today notes:

Here comes the Brood. An enormous brood of cicadas that covers parts of 16 states is beginning to wake from its 13-year slumber underground.

The inch-long insects have been reported hatching in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Arkansas. They will appear farther north as soil temperatures reach 64 degrees.

“There are billions of them in the trees,” Greta Beekhuis says, speaking by phone from Pittsboro, N.C. The sound of the cicadas is clearly audible over the line. “When I drove from my house to the grocery store, I ran over thousands of them. They’re everywhere. The air is just thick with them.”

Scientists call these cicadas the Great Southern Brood or Brood XIX. It is the world’s largest “periodical” brood, one that surfaces after years.

Cicadas aren’t dangerous, and are non-toxic and even edible, says Kritsky, a biology professor at the College of Mount St.

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