Religious pilgrimages

There’s plenty of evidence that pilgrimages accelerate the spread of infectious diseases. The Kanwar pilgrimage in India, which attracts millions to the river Ganges, has led to some of the worst mass cholera outbreaks in history; the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca was blamed for a deadly outbreak of bacterial meningitis in 2000. So it was …

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Masks

Large numbers of people, mostly in the mid-West, refuse to wear masks in public places within and without buildings, claiming that doing so infringes upon their “liberty”, and that mask searing and social distancing is at the “discretion” on the individual (ah! the individual!). This, notwithstanding the raging virus that is filling hospitals and killing …

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A few quotations from works on Epicurus

The laws are laid down for the sake of the wise, not to prevent them from doing “wrong , but to keep them from being wronged” (The Essential Epicurus”, by Eugene O’Connor, Great Books in Philosophy series). Happiness and blessedness do not belong to abundance of riches or exalted position or offices or power, but …

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A prescient book written in 2019

The Monmouth University Polling Institute conducted a poll in 2019. One thousand people were interviewed about their attitude towards religious fundamentalism, ethnocentric prejudice, and their political views and affiliations. The book written on the subject, “Authoritarian Nightmare: Donald Trump and his followers” by John Dean and Bob Altermeyer, was reviewed in the Washington Post on …

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……..and following on from yesterday

Teen girls’ self-harm crisis Back in 2018 The Guardian ran an article about social media and a rise in school work being blamed for the doubling of U.K. hospital admissions of teenage girls for self-harm. According to British National Health Service figures, in the two decades since 1997, the number of girls under 18 admitted …

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An explanation for the huge divide in American society

The following is a slightly edited version of a review by Tom Krattenmaker of a book by Kurt Anderson: “Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History”: (Random House, 2020). I quote: “The paradigm shift of the 1980s really was equivalent in scale and scope to those of the 1960s and the 1930s. Key …

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Climate change is not a scam!

Like many other climate-vulnerable nations across the globe, Bangladesh is trying to save lives, shore up healthcare systems, and cushion the economic shock for millions of people, all while avoiding fiscal collapse. But this is not a cry for help; it is a warning. For while other countries may be less exposed to the climate …

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Report on the author’s peace of mind

I have never made blog entries personal (well, not often!) but I feel like mentioning the fragile state of my ataraxia, better known as peace of mind. I spent part of my youth studying pre-war nazi and fascist takeovers in the 1920s and 1930’s, and subsequent events. My university tutor warned that, given the right …

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Lower emissions owing to coronavirus

Global carbon emissions are likely to see their steepest fall this year since the second world war, according to researchers who say coronavirus lockdown measures have already cut them by nearly a fifth. But the team warns that the dramatic drop won’t slow climate change. The first peer-reviewed analysis of the pandemic’s impact on emissions …

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Tropical storms

Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding in 2017, killing 68 people and costing $125 billion in damages. 100 high-resolution simulations of how tropical cyclones behave in three types of conditions have been conducted – those between 1950 and 2000, those similar to the present and also various future scenarios. Conclusion: as the world warms, there are …

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The Wreck – a poem

I sit gazing over the warm waters of Islamorada – The seabirds, the distant lighthouse, the wind-surfers, Kayakers, and jet-skiers skudding to and fro. Islamorada about relaxation, slowness, Extended time, warmth, sun and beauty. Rather than their busy-ness what intrigues me Is what seems to be a wreck, Marooned on the outer edges of the …

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Every qualified citizen should be allowed to vote

An astronaut, miles above the Earth in a spacecraft voted in the American election with an encrypted ballot. I thought that was wonderful. On the other hand ruthless gerrymandering has discouraged thousands of US citizens from getting to the polls in person. The President has spent huge amounts of time trying to discredit mail-in voting. …

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Polititicization of science

The politicization of science in the name of religion and political partisanship is not new to the United States, but transformation of traditional geographically and economically based political parties into religiously oriented ideological coalitions marks the beginning of a new era for science policy.” (Jon Miller and colleagues, Michigan State University in “Science” magazine) My comment: …

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Guns and the election

In this pandemic year, gun sales have already totaled more than 17 million (including many first-time gun buyers). A record 15.1 million weapons were sold between March and September alone. Even for the country whose citizens were already (by far) the most heavily armed on the planet, this is record-breaking territory. We are an armed …

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Modern silliness

The U.K. National Trust is the British organisation that looks after historic houses and gardens. (Up to now it has done a great job, a tourist’s must-see. (Ed.) But the Trust’s “Ten-year Vision” seeks to reposition it in a manner that provides a telling example of the relentless politicisation of areas of life that should …

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Pension problem in UK

By 2028, British people won’t be able to claim their state pension until they’re 67. According to a new study, however, there is a potential problem: although we are living longer, we may not be healthy enough to work for longer. Researchers at Keele University and Newcastle University used data from the English Longitudinal Study …

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“The Rueful Hippopotamus” (to lighten the gloom)

Research now seems to indicate That hippos can communicate, Like dolphins or the great blue whale, With clicks. And thereby hangs a tale, For they can hear beneath the water Things on land they didn’t oughta, And from the bank can hear what’s said By colleagues on the river bed. Imagine you’re a great bull …

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