Worth reading: Our history is a battle against the microbes. We lost terribly before science, public health, and vaccines

Welcome perspective from Max Roser of the excellent ourworldindata.org, a website I consider essential reading for everyone. The public health impact of vaccines simply cannot be overstated (as shown below). While infectious diseases like tuberculosis continue to claim lives, the death tolls of the past were almost unimaginable. Thanks to vaccination, countless lives have been…

Worth reading: “My only crime is my face,” Perspective from Mary Oyama Mittwer and Miné Okubo

While browsing through an online museum exhibit, I came across an excerpt from this compelling article written during the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. I managed to find a scan of the full article hosted by the UC Berkeley Library. The writer describes her family’s internment experience until their release in 1943,…

What I’m listening to: Hildegard von Bingen – Canticles Of Ecstasy

The medieval music ensemble Sequentia created what I think are the most enjoyable renditions of the music of Hildegard von Bingen. I’m currently listening to Canticles of Ecstasy, one of nine albums of von Bingen’s music recorded by Sequentia. I reviewed her book Scivias in a previous blog post. From Sequentia’s Hildegard von Bingen Project,…

Scivias and the illuminations of Hildegard von Bingen

Scivias by Hildegard of Bingen Hildegard von Bingen’s Scivias (short for “Scito vias Domini,” or “Know the Ways of the Lord”) is, as the title suggests, mostly comprised of various divinely-ordained rules for life, with an emphasis on potential social deviancy. In a manner reminiscent of the Book of Revelation (or even the Quran), Hildegard…

Natalia Karp plays Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor

From Wikipedia: In 1943, after the death of her husband in a bomb raid, Karp was sent to the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp where she came into contact with Amon Göth (a man who had personally shot 30-90 women and children during the liquidation of the Tarnów ghetto). On his birthday, Göth ordered her to play…

A brief history of the fall of Rome

The dissolution of the Western Roman Empire is popularly perceived as a sudden and dramatic cataclysm, with the “fall of Rome” often precisely dated to 476 CE. In that year, so the story goes, the child Emperor of the West (later derisively referred to as Romulus Augustulus), was deposed by the barbarian warlord Odoacer who…