“When Mask-Wearing Rules Faced Resistance”

This is an interesting account, on History.com, of the use of face masks during the 1918 “Spanish” Flu pandemic. To read it, click here.

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“To prevent the next pandemic, it’s the legal wildlife trade we should worry about…” 

In this essay from National Geographic, a biologist argues that viruses can spread as easily from the trade of  legal wildlife like frogs and monkeys, a multibillion-dollar global business, as they can by bats and other exotics in “wet” markets. Click here to read it.

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The latest issue of AWAI’s Barefoot Writer

In this issue:

* How to Conquer Your Greatest Creativity Killer

* More Than a One-Trick Pony

* Connection Crisis Sparks Opportunity Bonanza for Writers

* Happiness Recalibrated

* Stop Squirming! Market Yourself Confidently Using This 3-Step KPE-System

Click here to read the May issue.

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The latest issue of Independent Healing

In this issue:

One ER doctor says this simple at-home device saved the lives of two of his coronavirus-infected colleagues. You’ll find out how it works… and where you can get it.

You’ll also discover…

* What you need to know to get quality online health care

* What to do about coronavirus stress

* 9 foods for better immunity

Click here to read the May issue.

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“My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?” in The New York Times

“On the night before I laid off all 30 of my employees,” Gabrielle Hamilton writes, “I dreamed that my two children had perished, buried alive in dirt, while I dug in the wrong place, just five feet away from where they were actually smothered. I turned and spotted the royal blue heel of my youngest’s socked foot poking out of the black soil only after it was too late.”

Read the entire article here.

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“A Gaucho Appears in the Distance, Riding Hell for Leather…” by Bill Bonner

“There’s an advantage to spending time in a place like Argentina,” Bill writes. “It’s been through these things [economic, political, and social ruin] before. In fact, it makes a habit of it.”

Read the entire essay here.

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A partial list of the sources I used for today’s essay:

“Provisional Death Counts for COVID-19″


“COVID-19 risk factors: Age, underlying conditions, genetics, and unknowns”


“How deadly is the new coronavirus?”


“Odds of Hospitalization”


“The Deadliest Viruses on Earth”

“Beware of the World’s Most Deadly Infectious Disease: Tuberculosis”


“Causes of Death – Our World in Data”

“Perspectives on the Pandemic, Episode 2”


“Perspectives on the Pandemic, Episode 3”


“List of human disease case fatality rates”

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The following letter – supposedly from F. Scott Fitzgerald, but actually written by Nick Farriella for the humor site McSweeney’s – recently went viral. It was forwarded to me by several people who didn’t seem to realize that it’s a parody.

A Letter From F. Scott Fitzgerald, Quarantined in 1920 in the South of France During the Spanish Influenza Outbreak 

Dearest Rosemary,

It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.

The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.

You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling slowly forward on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.

Faithfully yours,

Scott Fitzgerald

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

A synopsis of the plot that I found on Shmoop.com crystalizes my initial impression of this tender, teenage novel:

“Dying girl meets hot boy. Hot boy and dying girl fall in teenage love and go on adventures to Amsterdam together. Dying girl is disappointed by her meeting with a certain author whom she idolizes. Dying girl and hot boy admit their love to each other and have physical relations. In a horrible twist of fate, dying girl lives while hot boy dies. The end.”

Yes, it’s a novel for teens. No, I don’t know why it was a selection for our all-adult-male book club.

Actually, I do. Although the plot, diction, and characters are appropriately aimed at teenagers, the central theme – finding meaning in an apparently meaningless universe – is always worth an earnest discussion. And we had one. (After we japed at those that enjoyed it.).

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