Friday, July 31, 2020

Variola Major

Over on Twitter the other day, I saw someone who should have known better call Larry Brilliant "the man who cured smallpox." 

This is wrong on multiple counts.
  • There's no cure for smallpox. If you were exposed to it, being vaccinated within a couple of days of the exposure had a good chance of preventing smallpox. But the treatments for smallpox were supportive, not curative. You would keep the patient hydrated and comfortable, apply whatever cream would provide relief for the sores, and the like. It was 2018 before there was an FDA-approved anti-viral that might be effective in treating smallpox.
  • Larry Brilliant was involved from 1973 to 1976 in the effort to eradicate smallpox through an enormous, worldwide vaccination effort. That effort started in 1959, when Brilliant was 15 years old, and lasted until 1979. The last naturally occurring case of the illness was in 1977, and in 1980 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease effectively extinct. (Small stocks remain at the CDC and somewhere in Russia, I believe.) You can read about the WHO effort at the CDC web site. (Which should have mentioned that there was inoculation in China long before Edward Jenner, sigh, probably starting in the 16th c.)
So, Brilliant was active for several years only of a concerted 20-year effort to finally stamp out smallpox. Americans really want to have a hero to look up to, but in this case, it's a mistake. All credit to Brilliant for his years of service, but eradicating smallpox was a group effort that thousands of people participated in. From the CDC web site, a note about the last case of smallpox in the wild:
[Photo caption] Three-year-old Rahima Banu, who is the last known person to have had naturally acquired smallpox, or variola major, in the world, with her mother in Bangladesh. Her case was reported to the local Smallpox Eradication Program team by an 8-year-old girl named Bilkisunnessa, who was paid 250 Taka reward for her diligence.
That exemplifies what went into the eradication of smallpox. Local teams and ordinary people and epidemiologists all played their part. No single individual should get more credit than they deserve.

Friday Photo

Oakland Dimond District
March, 2020

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Rolling My Eyes

So, there's a fawning Maureen Dowd article about Renée Fleming posted at The NY Times web site this morning. When I read it this morning, having seen the link elsewhere on the internet, I saw this:

Leaving aside the gushing - I don't find Fleming either wholesome or sensual - there's that "fellow soprano Susan Graham." a mezzo-soprano.

I sent in a correction notice! I might not have been the only person to do this, and the Times has updated the article, to this:

That...isn't any more correct than their first take. I have sent another correction, this time with suggested wording, since they're incapable of getting this correct. I don't know if it's Dowd or someone deep in editorial who seems unwilling to get this right, but jeez it is annoying.

UPDATE: It's finally correct.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The First Cancellation of 2021

Cruise Ship Seen from the Bay Bridge
April, 2019
(Not the real JoCo Cruise ship, but the closest I could come in my personal photo collection.)
Photo by Lisa Hirsch

It's not even a performance. It's the annual JoCo cruise, which puts about 2,000 science fiction writers and fans on a Caribbean cruise for music, food, and other sorts of fun. The company web page describes it as a "nerdy summer camp at sea", "a writer's workshop", "a music and comedy fest" and so on.

Anyway, the JoCo Cruise for 2021 has now been postponed to 2022. 

Warlikowski on a Certain Type of Fan

Found in the extremely interesting NY Times profile of director Krzysztof Warlikowski:
In the interview, Mr. Warlikowski focused his ire more on a certain subset of star-struck audience members. “The worst public in the opera are these obsessed gays,” he said. “All these rich guys with nothing to do in their life, just following Anna Netrebko or Jonas Kaufmann on all continents. This is not a real audience for me.” 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Very Belated Museum Monday

Musée National du Moyen Age
(Musée de Cluny)
From the exhibit "The Birth of Gothic Sculpture"
Paris, October, 2018

Monday, July 20, 2020

Don't Do This: LOL Version

A small technical writing conference whose mailing list I'm on because I attended it a couple of years back is holding this year's conference virtually, as you might expect. I received an email from them today that left me laughing. I sent them the following reply, which I think is self-explanatory:
LOL you put out an email about a conference without including the dates!
They mention that it's about a month away, dates.

There is a link in the email Announcing Full Schedule, and it links to the conference's web site. I clicked through and sent another email:

The page you click through to for the schedule doesn't include either the schedule or the [conference] dates!!

This is hilariously poor communication for a technical writing conference, I must say.
'Nuff said. The person or people who wrote and proofread the email should be professionally ashamed.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Opera America Commissions

Some excellent news about works in development that have received support from Opera America:

Beth Morrison Projects (Brooklyn, NY) for In Our Daughter’s Eyes by Du Yun 

Boston Lyric Opera (Boston, MA) for The Desert Inn (working title) by Ellen Reid 

Guerilla Opera (Haverhill, MA) for HER:alive/un/dead: a media opera by Emily Koh 

HERE (New York, NY) for A Practical Breviary: Terce by Heather Christian 

Houston Grand Opera (Houston, TX) for Turn and Burn, a Rodeo Opera by Nell Shaw Cohen 

Opera on Tap (Brooklyn, NY) for Joan of the City by Kamala Sankaram 

Opera Orlando (Orlando, FL) for The Secret River by Stella C. Y. Sung 

Opera Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA) for The Listeners by Missy Mazzoli 

The American Opera Project (Brooklyn, NY) for Precipice by Rima Fand 

The rest of the press release is after the cut. I'll just say that I'd love to see every one of these.

Belated Friday Photo

Tomatoes and Sunflowers Attempting to Escape Over a Fence (not mine)
Oakland, CA
July, 2020

Monday, July 13, 2020

Museum Mondays

Portrait of Marcel Proust
Jacques-Émil Blanche
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
October, 2018

Friday, July 10, 2020

Friday Photo

Black Lives Matter
Fruitvale Triptych
July, 2020
(Click to enlarge; the column width is too narrow to display the three photos side-by-side, alas)

Monday, July 06, 2020

Museum Mondays

Fountain and Mural
Marciano Foundation Museum, Los Angeles
(sadly closed)
June, 2019

Friday, July 03, 2020

This is Quite a Tell.

The Philadelphia Orchestra announced a new appointment last month, and hoo boy, the self-tell:
(Philadelphia, June 16, 2020)—The Philadelphia Orchestra is pleased to announce the appointment of Nicole Jordan as principal librarian beginning in the 2020–21 season. The position will bring her back to Philadelphia, where she was raised and began her career as The Philadelphia Orchestra’s library fellow from 2008 to 2011. Jordan will be the first African-American woman to join the Orchestra as a full-time member.
Uhhhhh and the situation isn't so different elsewhere. I would be interested to know when each US professional orchestra hired its first full-time Black member, man or woman. When did Philly hire the first African-American man, for example? 

Friday Photo

Clock near the Conciergie, Paris
February, 2019