The Right Quiz for Right-Thinking People

We start off with a quiz today. There are four questions. Which of the following (and you can check all that apply) were used to manage the Black Death when it was ravaging Europe? Medicines Quarantines Passports (individuals were given passports to identify themselves and tell where he/she had been) Spy networks (spies were sent out to monitor other cities to see if they had been exposed to the plague and would then warn the people back home) Running away Prayers Processions Which was the response of health officers to people who were not wearing masks during the Spanish Flu in San Francisco? Fine them $10 Throw them in jail Shoot them Remove them bodily from the city Where did the first recorded case of the Spanish Flu occur? Mexico Kansas Madrid Texas Which city handled the Spanish Flu epidemic better? New York Philadelphia Here is the question we have

Insights on Rights and Eating Delights (Part Two)

After last week’s shocking revelation that “Ring Around the Rosies” was NOT about the Black Plague, I decided to look into other nursery rhymes to see what they were not about. For instance, “Jack and Jill,” as is commonly reported, is not about the execution of Louis XVI of France (“broke his crown”) and of Marie Antoinette some months later (“came tumbling after”). I know this because the rhyme was published 30 years before Louis got guillotined. Plus, the original rhyme was not about Jack and Jill, but about Jack and Gill, two boys! “Rub-A-Dub-Dub” sounds innocent enough until you start to think about it. But its real meaning is even creepier. Apparently, this wonderful rhyme that we all recited while giving our kids a bath is actually a song about upper-class tradespeople (the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker) at a town fair getting caught peeking into the

Insights on Rights and Eating Delights (Part One)

I am not one to stir up controversy, and yet I feel compelled to do exactly that. I grew up knowing that the lines from a beloved nursery rhyme were actually sardonic words mocking the horror of the Black Death. From this knowledge, gained at such an impressionable age, I felt called to devote my life to sarcasm and mockery. As I grew older (and wiser), this belief in the “secret” meaning behind this rhyme was substantiated. The “Ring around the rosies” could only refer to the red rash that developed on the victims’ skin, a rash which would soon turn into painful black boils.  “A pocket full of posies” was clearly talking about the ancient practice of trying to ward off an airborne plague through pleasant odors (it is common knowledge that airborne viruses smell foul and can be fought off by a “mask” of pleasant aroma, hence, the

Might as Well Face It, We’re Addicted to Rights

Great things apparently, have happened while people were stuck in quarantine. For instance, Shakespeare likely wrote "King Lear" in quarantine. Isaac Newton, during the Great Plague of London in 1665, isolated himself and got to work developing calculus, analyzing light and color, studying gravity and, in his spare time, started developing his laws of motion (all in the same year!). Victor Hugo chose to escape Napoléon’s grasp by exiling himself in Jersey and, while he was there, wrote Les Misérables. During a cholera epidemic, Mary Shelley and her husband escaped to the countryside where they passed their time telling scary stories until Shelley figured out that the scariest story had yet to be written (she fixed that). And it was in seclusion that Edward Munch painted, “The Scream” (fact: while you may think “The Scream” is a painting of a man screaming, it is actually a man hearing a ghastly

Never Forgetting Real Church*

I read this story the other day** about a man and his grown son who were out looking at possible houses for the son to buy. When the owner came to the door, she immediately recognized the father as an old friend. “Larry?” she asked? The father responded with a blank look on his face. “Larry, it’s me, Elaine. We went to school together!” The father still did not recognize her. “How could you not recognize me?” she said jokingly. She invited them in; and while the son was looking around the house, she went to grab her old high school yearbook. She showed the father her senior picture, but still he had no recollection of who she was. “Let’s look at your picture,” she said and quickly flipped the pages until she came to his picture.  Under his photo, he had written, “Elaine, I will never forget you.” Real

Moving Biblically

Back in the good old days of the Black Death (aka, the Plague, the Magna Mortalitas, and the Pestilencia), cities faced an excruciating decision, sever all ties with the world or die. They chose, not unsurprisingly, to sever all connections to the rest of the world and to cut themselves off from all other cities, tourists and wayfaring strangers. But then came the town of Ragusa (now Dubrovnik, Croatia). In 1377, Ragusa was a very popular and busy sea port on the Adriatic. For them to cut themselves off from the world meant certain death. But to open their doors and let everyone in also meant certain death. Their solution: they legislated a trentino! Instead of sending merchant ships loaded with food and products away, they detained the whole ship and crew on a small island off the coast for 30 days. If they didn’t show any signs of the

Of Rights and Men (and Women)

Right off the bat, let me say, I am all for rights.  I was there in spirit on April 19, 1775, when embattled farmers stood against British tyranny and fought for their rights. I was also there on April 19, 1975, where we used our rights to gather lawfully to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of that important event, to gawk at President Ford in person, and to protest the war in Vietnam. Three rights in one day!  (My best memory of that day was watching a protestor who may not have been in his right mind, step right up, break through the security line, and get gang-tackled by three secret service agents who had him dead to rights before he’d gone ten feet). And I could go on to substantiate my claim that I am all in favor of rights, and it would serve you right to have to read