Wednesday, 1 December 2021


Though in practise perhaps a bit premature and ill-advised given the milieu of a resurgence in COVID cases, we did nonetheless enjoy augmenting our vocabulary with the Japanese tradition of bōnenkai (忘年会) office parties that take place usually during December sponsored by companies for their employees that involves banqueting and a lot of drinking. As respite from the pandemic and the lengthening past or otherwise, not everyone is ready to embrace mandated festivities and bureikō—無礼講, nomunication—that is, loosened tongues facilitated through drink, nomu 意味, which allows one to albeit temporarily, perhaps regrettably disregard hierarchy and distinctions in rank and seniority.


Observed annually since being designated as an international day of awareness and mourning of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes the life threatening and in most cases fatal acquired immunodeficiency syndrome by compromising resistance to other diseases, World AIDS Day in 2019 marked the first recorded case of another pandemic, far more contagious and readily transmitted with the World Health Organisation picking up on a report published in the medical journal The Lancet documenting the onset of symptoms in Patient Zero for COVID-19 on this day of that year. The WHO verified this diagnosis with their own official reports on the novel corona virus within the week. There is no vaccine for AIDS, which has claimed over forty million lives and untold collateral damage and forty thousand people contract the disease annually, though improved access to antiretroviral therapies as well as broad acceptance of interventions and preventative measures has significantly slowed the spread and meant that many can live with the illness.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

balmis expedition

The operation officially named Real Expedición Filantrópica de la Vacuna, the Spanish healthcare mission under the leadership of Doctor Francisco Javier de Balmis set sail on the María Pita from a port in Galicia on this day in 1803 and would vaccinate, using the technique developed by Edward Jenner, untold millions against smallpox, calling in the Canary Islands, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, China and the Philippines, even offering surplus to the colony at Saint Helena on the return route, despite animosities between Spain and Britain at the time. Undertaken to make amends for the Old World diseases that ravaged North and South America and to attempt to wipe out the contagion that proved fatal for nearly half a million individuals annually in Europe only, the complement and crew included twenty-two orphaned boys designated as successive carriers of the cowpox virus (there being no refrigeration or other means to isolate and transport the vaccine), which would help recipients acquire immunity to the deadlier version.

Monday, 29 November 2021

there was no ransom to be paid—no song unsung, no wine untasted

On this day in 2009, the ITV network’s Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle’s debut album climbed to the top of the charts, becoming the best-selling first recording in the history of the UK. Appearing as a contestant on series three, she surprised the audience and jury with an amazing rendition of Fantine’s solo from Les Misérables, subsequently rising to stardom.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

what who called the ν variant? yes!

With WHO’s on First—JWZ brings us some comic-relief over the latest viral strain of concern, though to apparently avoid such hilarious confusion, went out of Greek alphabetical order, jumping ahead to Omicron (little o, as opposed to Omega, that’s big o) skipping nu and xi (ξ).


From the Latin for arrival, the fourth Sunday from Christmas Day marks the start of the liturgical year and is accorded certain themes and readings: the first Advent mass has celebrants anticipating the “End Times,” the “Messianic Age” and the second coming, whereas the next two focus on the preachings of John the Baptist that made ready the way for Jesus with the last being the traditional time for nativity pageants—plus it marks the start of lighting wreaths or Christingles, setting up trees and the ceremonial, welcoming hanging of the greens, putting out the garlands.

(i’ve had) the time of my life

On this day in 1987, the closing duet from Dirty Dancing with Jennifer Warnes ([Love Lift Us] Up Where we Belong with Joe Cocker and various collaborations with Leonard Cohen) and Bill Medley—former Righteous Brother—reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, and peaking twice in UK charts, once in November after the theatrical release of the soundtrack album and then again in 1991 when the film was first Broadcast on television. Written and composed for the movie by Frank Previte, Donald Markowitz and John DeNicola, the song won a Golden Globe, Grammy and an Oscar. The team were also responsible for Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes,” which also went on to become a hit.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

can’t resist a list

Our AI Intelligencer (see previously), expounding on how the above protocols or inventory—being perhaps what artificial intelligence is—has this remarkable tendency to derail otherwise passingly competent machines as they carry instructions out to their unnatural conclusions, like with the prompt for baking a cake with the nth steps being Wait for the timer to ring. Smell the baked good. forgot to take it out. Hide it all under a carpet. Or the next cue to generate traditional wedding gifts after being supplied the first four anniversaries:

5th Year: Fowl Feathers, etc.
9th Year: Small Dainty
11th Year: Soapsugar Jelly
17th Year: Green Surpluses & Leaves
25th Year: Paper, Spreads and White Sea Shells
34th Year: Wool/Reindeer Hair
48th Year: Lying In Blankets

I seriously want this bot to be my personal shopping concierge for Christmas as it seems to have no problem conjuring up an inexhaustible wish-list. Much more at the links above.