Annalee Newitz looks at the Great Plague of London and 17th century social distancing

Annalee Newitz has a piece in The New York Times about the "Great Plague" of London (1665-1666)--the last outbreak of bubonic plague in England--which ended up taking the lives of almost a quarter of the city's population.

A lot of English people believed 1666 would be the year of the apocalypse. You can’t really blame them. In late spring 1665, bubonic plague began to eat away at London’s population. By fall, roughly 7,000 people were dying every week in the city. The plague lasted through most of 1666, ultimately killing about 100,000 people in London alone — and possibly as many as three-quarters of a million in England as a whole.

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It felt like Armageddon. And yet it was also the beginning of a scientific renaissance in England, when doctors experimented with quarantines, sterilization and social distancing. For those of us living through these stay-at-home days of Covid-19, it’s useful to look back and see how much has changed — and how much hasn’t. Humanity has been guarding against plagues and surviving them for thousands of years, and we have managed to learn a lot along the way.

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It was most likely thanks to his [King Charles II] interest in science that government representatives and doctors quickly used social distancing methods for containing the spread of bubonic plague. Charles II issued a formal order in 1666 that ordered a halt to all public gatherings, including funerals. Already, theaters had been shut down in London, and licensing curtailed for new pubs.

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Politico asked 34 big thinkers to predict how the coronapocalypse will permanently change our world

Politico asked 34 "macro thinkers" to share some of their thoughts on what the world will look like after we crawl from the wreckage of this thing. Some are hopeful, optimistic. Some, not so much. Definitely good food for thought. Here are a few excerpts.

Mark Lawrence Schrad is an associate professor of political science and author of the forthcoming Smashing the Liquor Machine: A Global History of Prohibition.

A new kind of patriotism When all is said and done, perhaps we will recognize their sacrifice as true patriotism, saluting our doctors and nurses, genuflecting and saying, “Thank you for your service,” as we now do for military veterans. We will give them guaranteed health benefits and corporate discounts, and build statues and have holidays for this new class of people who sacrifice their health and their lives for ours. Perhaps, too, we will finally start to understand patriotism more as cultivating the health and life of your community, rather than blowing up someone else’s community. Maybe the de-militarization of American patriotism and love of community will be one of the benefits to come out of this whole awful mess.

Eric Klinenberg is professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author, most recently, of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life.

Less individualism The coronavirus pandemic marks the end of our romance with market society and hyper-individualism. We could turn toward authoritarianism.

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Doc Pop is creating t-shirts with social distance/self-isolation messaging in black metal band logos

Our pal Doc Pop writes:

I've been working with artists on Fiverr to convert health advice messages into extreme metal band logos. I'm sharing the results on this Twitter thread.

I'm releasing some of my favorites on Threadless as shirts and sweaters. All the proceeds from the sales are being donated to workers at Mission bars and restaurants (via gofundme, online tip jars, or sending it directly to workers through venmo).

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield shares some tips on self-isolation and "taking care of your spaceship"

In this thoughtful and heartwarming little video message, astronaut Chris Hadfield (the man who brought you Bowie from space), shares some tips on coming to grips with isolation and ends with the wonderful, "Take care of yourself, take care of your family, take care of your friends, and take care of your spaceship." Simple words to live by.

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After a Japanese grade school cancels graduation, students hold it inside of Minecraft

Via IGN:

Japanese schools have been closed for over two weeks due to COVID-19 and, with the Japanese school year ending in March, it's meant many students won't have their graduation ceremonies, according to SoraNews24.

However, graduates from one elementary school found they could use Minecraft to create their own ceremony. Without any school or parental oversight, kids designed their own assembly hall, and gathered on a server to play out their graduation online.

Read the rest of the piece here.

[H/t Ted Tagami]

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Man dead, wife in hospital after ingesting what they thought was a drug touted by Trump

On their website, the Arizona medical group, Banner Health, is reporting that a man has died in their care after self-medicating against COVID-19 using what they mistook for an anti-malaria drug that Dear Leader had mentioned during one of his campaign rallies briefings in recent days.

A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks. Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital.

Read the rest of the brief announcement here.

NBC News correspondent Vaughn Hillyard spoke to the wife by phone from her hospital bed. She had this to say:

we saw Trump on TV--every channel--and all his buddies--saying that this was safe. Trump kept saying it was pretty much a cure."

[...] Don't believe anything the President says and his people because they don't know what they're talking about. And don't take anything -- be so careful and call your doctor. This is a heart ache I'll never get over.

Yet another reason why these "briefings" should not be televised live, but should only be summarized by responsible adults.

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Adult Swim posts all episodes of Metalocalypse online, for free

Adult Swim has released all episodes of their crazed, headbanger animated comedy, Metalocalypse, for free during the coronavirus pandemic.

Adult Swim has made all four seasons and the Klok Opera movie available for free streaming on their website and app.

You can watch all the episodes of Metalocalypse here.

Non-US fans of the dumb and the restless are reporting that they can't view the streams. But hey, that's what VPNs are for.

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Shut-in celebrities sing "imagine no possessions" on Twitter. Twitterverse goes bananas over the perceived tone-deafness

A group of celebrities, including Gal Gadot, Will Ferrell, Mark Ruffalo, James Marsden, Lynda Carter, Jamie Dornan, and Amy Adams, posted a video of each of them, in their isolation, signing lines from John Lennon's "Imagine." The attempted message was that we're all in this together, we will get through this, but the Twitter response was immediate and brutal.

It was the line "imagine no possessions" that triggered the most vitriol. People seeing this tweet who are currently out of work and understandably nervous about it barked that they don't have to imagine it. Others shot back with sentiments like: We don't need you singing to us. How about you spending a million or two to buy ventilators and masks and donate them them to hospitals? One person posted the pay that each actor gets per film.

It's wonderful that everyone is at least trying to do the right thing in this very scary and trying time, but man was this ever an epic fail.

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Let the great Brian Wilson make all of this feel better for a moment

To help entertain all of us while we hunker down in our domestic anti-viral combat bunkers, Rolling Stone is asking musicians to share performances from their bunkers. They kick off the series with the galactic treasure himself, Brian Wilson.

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Rediscovering the lost art of deep listening to music

Think of all of the real-world pleasures of the past we might rediscover while we weather Coronapocalypse 2020. Like "deep listening" to music.

Clear your schedule for the next three hours. Choose three full albums, whether from your collection or your streaming service of choice. Put them in an ordered queue as though you were programming a triple feature.

...most of us are half-assed when it comes to listening to albums. We put on artists’ work while we’re scrolling through Twitter, disinfecting doorknobs, obsessively washing our hands or romancing lovers permitted within our COVID-free zones. We rip our favorite tracks from their natural long-player habitat, drop them into playlists and forget the other songs, despite their being sequenced to be heard in order.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There was a time when listeners treated the mere existence of recorded sound as a miracle. A wonder, a kind of time travel. Priests warned of early wax cylinders being tools of the devil. Vintage images from the space age show couples seated around their high-fidelity systems as if being warmed by a fireplace.

Read the rest in the LA Times.

Photo by 𝓴𝓘𝓡𝓚 𝕝𝔸𝕀 on Unsplash Read the rest

Webcam proof: Irish pubs in Dublin shuttered up, streets are empty, on St. Patrick's Day 

Sláinte! I took this EarthCam screengrab of Irish pubs in Dublin just before 11 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day! What's wrong with this picture?

See more empty streets from around the world over at Reddit. Read the rest

And now, a ditty about the guy who bought up 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer in Tennessee

That nasty price-gouging dude who hoarded over 17K bottles of hand sanitizer (to jack up the price and sell them on Amazon), a) has donated all of it to charity, and b) has had a song written about him. It's called "Family Businessman" and it's by Tennessee duo Good Cop/Rad Cop — enjoy!

screengrab via YouTube

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