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164551.  Tue Apr 10, 2007 1:52 pm Reply with quote


164591.  Tue Apr 10, 2007 3:58 pm Reply with quote

I sometimes wonder if we Brits aren't a bit smug about this. Still, if it gets a laugh ...

164719.  Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:32 am Reply with quote

Just remembered an extraordinary fact from Fred - that of global warming thawing the permafrost in Siberia in which are buried lots of people who died of smallpox. They are reasonably well-preserved, and so are the nasty bugs, which could soon 'rise from the grave' to get us back.

A second possible source of virus from the pre-eradication era is bodies of smallpox victims buried in permafrost ground. The virus is preserved in deep cold (illustrated for example by the fact that it is stored as such at the Center for Disease Control [CDC]), and thus viable virus could theoretically be recovered from smallpox victims buried in Siberia, Alaska, and other permafrost regions.
Waking the Dead

164979.  Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:09 pm Reply with quote

'Global warming revives smallpox' - now there's a line somebody ought to feed Al Gore.

166841.  Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:43 am Reply with quote

In a Sunday Telegraph (8 Apr 07) review of a new book, “Decency and disorder” by Ben Wilson (Faber), the reviewer says that in the early 19th century “Britons were the fattest people on record, and proud of it.” Which no doubt they would have been, since it was visible proof that they were healthy and wealthy. When did fatness become a negative indicator, then? When did the fashion change?

166896.  Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:48 am Reply with quote

Obesity gene found.

They found people with two copies of a "fat" version of a gene had a 70% higher risk of obesity than those with none, and weighed 3kg (6.5lb) more.

The work in Science by the Peninsula Medical School and Oxford University studied data from about 40,000 people.

The findings suggest that although improving lifestyle is key to reducing obesity, some people may find it harder to lose weight because of their genes.

Half of white Europeans carry one copy of the variant and one in six has two copies, experts estimate.

166915.  Tue Apr 17, 2007 10:08 am Reply with quote

What they’re actually saying is: “People who are predisposed to be bigger than other people tend to be bigger than other people.”

And they call this a disease? An epidemic, even?

Thank gene I’m thin; those of you who aren’t will be in concentration camps within fifteen years - guaranteed.

166998.  Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:03 pm Reply with quote

3kg isn't actually enough to make the difference between being slender and being obese though, is it?

167029.  Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:37 pm Reply with quote

In the D Series Deprivation show we asserted thus on Mat's question about when thinnifers became better than plumpitude:

Dieting isn’t that new, but mass fads are really a 20th-century phenomenon. The Fat Man's Club of Connecticut (with its specially-widened doors) closed in 1903, but the key moment is said to be when US President William Howard Taft went on a diet after getting stuck in the White House bathtub (Taft's Presidency was 1908-1913). At 25 stone he was the heaviest President ever... Taft’s diet is perhaps the tipping point at which corpulence ceased to be regarded as an indication of prosperity, and thin became the new plump - a trend which was helped along by the popularity of motion pictures, with their athletic heroes and focus on the outdoorsy Californian lifestyle.

169107.  Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:37 pm Reply with quote

Garrick sends this:

Q: How might the 1919 destruction of the Ottoman Empire save the world?
POSSIBLE BETTER Q FORMATION: How could a World War One Major prevent hundreds of millions of deaths?
Answer: By providing us with the best-ever samples of the most destructive disease in history.
BACKGROUND: Sir Tatton Benvenuto Mark Sykes, soldier and diplomat, died of a fever in Paris shortly after completing the 1919 Sykes-Picot Agreement, which carved up the Turkish Ottoman Empire after World War One. Because he died abroad, he was sealed in a lead-lined coffin, transported back to Britain and buried at St Mary's Church, Sledmere, Yorkshire.
He is now believed to be one of the very last victims of Spanish Flu, and scientists are seeking permission to exhume him because the viral samples preserved by that lead coffin are needed to create Spanish Flu vaccines. Spanish Flu is the most destructive epidemic in recorded history, which in 18 months between 1918 and 1920, killed between 50 and 100 million people. (The recently-ended Great War had killed 'only' 19,769,102 combatants!).
Why seek a vaccine for a disease not seen for a century?
Because is is now believed that the Spanish Flu epidemic was a mutated form of a virus known as H1N1 - better known to us all as "Bird Flu" - which had jumped from its natural hosts to humankind.

Bird Flu link:

169206.  Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:23 am Reply with quote

H1N1 is a type of flu found in birds and did indeed mutate to become Spanish Flu (at least, according to wikipedia. Not checked more widely than that yet).

The virus "known to us all" as Bird Flu (as referred to in the media) is H5N1.

169208.  Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:27 am Reply with quote

Anything which is H'n'N1 is known as bird flu isn't it? That's why the media generally calls H5N1 a "strain" of bird flu.

169211.  Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:32 am Reply with quote

Yeah, that's true enough. I withdraw my objection immediately.

173147.  Wed May 09, 2007 4:28 pm Reply with quote

I came across this assertion whilst immersing myself in eggshaped's Vaseline question. Apparently in 1875:

The Fiji Islands lose 40,000 of their 150,000 inhabitants in a measles epidemic following the return of the Fiji king from a visit to New South Wales.

'Following the' implies 'Because of the' without actually stating it. Maybe worth looking into, though.

173320.  Thu May 10, 2007 9:59 am Reply with quote

They're into their vaccination now, but it seems they've had a history of problems.

At a press conference today, the acting chief executive officer of the Ministry of Health, Dr Salimoni Tuqa reminisced the effects of the first measles outbreak in Fiji in 1875 where up to one third of the population lost their lives.

I expect the 'party line' involves not mentioning the king, though, even if it was him. I'd have thought anyone coming into port could have carried it, so it's a bit hard to pin onto one person...


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