Tag Archives: coronavirus

How the Chief Is Coping with the COVID-19 Quarantine – April 3, 2020

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April 3, 2020 · 10:58 PM

The Earliest Hazmat Suits

Color copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel (Dr. Beak), a plague doctor in seventeenth-century Rome, published by Paul Fürst, (c. 1656).

The sight of various medical personnel clad in head-to-toe coverings to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus has become common in recent weeks.  It used to be frightening to see something like that; images that were usually relegated to toxic waste dumps and crime scenes.  But such garb is nothing new.

Beginning in the 17th century C.E., as more epidemics of bubonic plague swept Western Europe, doctors often wore a variety of outfits to protect them from the miasma, or “bad air”, then believed to carry disease.  This was still a time when most people believed health scourges were acts of God and not the result of microbes gone awry.  (Some people – even in so-called developed nations – are still stupid enough to believe that!  The AIDS epidemic is a perfect example.)  It was long before people realized the importance of basic health measures: handwashing, sanitation, not listening to politicians or religious leaders.

These long-ago costumes look theatrical (almost comical) now, as they typically consisted of a head-to-toe leather or wax-canvas garment; large crystal glasses; and a long snout or bird beak, containing aromatic spices (such as mint and cloves), dried flowers (usually roses or carnations), or a vinegar sponge.  The strong smells of these items — sometimes set aflame for added advantage — were meant to combat the contagious miasma that the costume itself could not protect against.

They attire wasn’t just fanciful.  The ankle-length gowns and beaked masks could offer some protection against germs.  The design of these particular outfits has been credited to French physician Charles de Lorme who may have developed the concept around 1619.  By the time the “Plague of 1656” ravaged Italy (which was then a collection of city-states) and killed an estimated half-million people, the beaked coverings had become mostly mandatory.

Terrifying in centuries past, they make for good Halloween apparel today!

Photograph of 17th-century plague doctor mask from Austria or Germany on display in Berlin’s Deutsches Historisches Museum.

Theodore Zwinger III (1658-1724), coat of arms with portrait.

Man in plague mask on Poveglia, (c. 1899).

Plague doctor, from Jean-Jacques Manget, Traité de la peste, (1721).

Doctor in plague costume during the plague epidemic of 1720 in Marseille. Drawing first published in 1826 in the Guide sanitaire des gouvernemens européens by Louis-Joseph-Marie Robert.

Jan van Grevenbroeck (1731-1807), Venetian doctor during the time of the plague. Museo Correr, Venice.

Copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel, a plague physician in 17th-century Rome, (c. 1656).

IJsbrand van Diemerbroeck, Dutch plague doctor.

Satirical engraving by Johann Melchior Füssli of a doctor of Marseilles clad in cordovan leather equipped with a nose-case packed with plague-repelling smoking material.

Doctor’s outfit at the Lazaret de Marseille, 1720.

A physician wearing a 17th-century plague costume, as imagined in 1910.

A physician wearing a 17th-century plague costume, as imagined in 1910.

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Photo of the Week – April 3, 2020

“Prophecy” classes canceled?!  Wow!  Imagine reality smacking head-on into religious ideology!  Happens every time there’s a REAL crisis!

Academy Christian Church

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Tweet of the Week – April 3, 2020

Stephen King

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Worst Quote of the Week – April 3, 2020

“I think we have a responsibility to our students – who paid to be here, who want to be here, who love it here – to give them the ability to be with their friends, to continue their studies, enjoy the room and board they’ve already paid for and to not interrupt their college life.”

Jerry Falwell, Jr., on why he kept Liberty University open, despite the COVID-19 crisis.

As some 5,000 students returned from spring break, Falwell defied the national trend of closing campuses and ordered faculty to return to their offices, even as classes moved to online forums.  Within a week, COVID-19 began showing up among some Liberty students.  In some way, I really don’t have much sympathy for anyone at Liberty.  It’s founder, the late Jerry Falwell, Sr., was one of the worst bigots this country ever produced.  After the 9/11 catastrophe, for example, he blamed the usual cadre of un-wantables: feminists, gays, environmentalists, etc.  He was also among the gang of right-wing assholes who declared that AIDS came directly from the “Hand of God.”  At one time, many years ago, Liberty would not allow interracial “dating” and access to handicapped individuals.  They may have changed their stance on those matters, but their early 1900s, Neanderthal-style reputation speaks for their ignorance.

I keep thinking, if people like those at Liberty refuse to accept the dire warnings associated with the COVID-19 scare and end up getting sick and dying, that’s fine with me.  The fewer morons among us, the better!  As we say in Texas, ‘You can’t fix stupid.’

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Best Quote of the Week – April 3, 2020

“Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise.  In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown.”

Katherine Stewart, on how President Trump’s response to the pandemic has been haunted by the science denialism of his religious-right allies.

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The Chief’s Most Valuable Possessions

My father’s urn

My mother’s official wedding portrait from 1959, along with other old family photos

The box containing my dog’s ashes

My computers, including this 10-year-old desktop

My cell phone

My vast collection of books

My model car collection

Music CDs

My library of National Geographic magazines that stretch back nearly 80 years

Wine and other spirits

My stash of adult DVDs

And finally…

Who would’ve thought?!  At the start of the third decade of the 21st century, this shit would become a coveted item!

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