Bookmarked How some cities ‘flattened the curve’ during the 1918 flu pandemic

Social distancing isn’t a new idea—it saved thousands of American lives during the last great pandemic. Here’s how it worked.

Nina Strochlic and Riley Champine discuss responses in America to the Spanish Flu. They highlight the importance of social distancing:

Of course, getting citizens to comply with such orders is another story: In 1918, a San Francisco health officer shot three people when one refused to wear a mandatory face mask. In Arizona, police handed out $10 fines for those caught without the protective gear. But eventually, the most drastic and sweeping measures paid off. After implementing a multitude of strict closures and controls on public gatherings, St. Louis, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Kansas City responded fastest and most effectively: Interventions there were credited with cutting transmission rates by 30 to 50 percent. New York City, which reacted earliest to the crisis with mandatory quarantines and staggered business hours, experienced the lowest death rate on the Eastern seaboard.

The authors also highlighted the need to sustain this for an extended period of time as “relaxing intervention measures too early could cause an otherwise stabilized city to relapse.”

Liked Visualizing the History of Pandemics (Visual Capitalist)

The history of pandemics, from the Antonine Plague to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) event, ranked by their impact on human life.,The history of pandemics, from the Antonine Plague to the ongoing COVID-19 event, ranked by their impact on human life.

via Jason Kottke
Bookmarked Resources for Teachers (A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry)

This one is Resources for Teachers. I’ve been absolutely delighted to hear that some of the material I put up here has been useful for teachers in either designing lesson plans or even as readings or additional resources. So I thought I would gather here links to the posts that I have been told were useful by K-12 and post-secondary educators.

Bret Devereaux provides a fascinating trip through battles of the past and in fiction. This includes an exploration of Ancient Greece and the Siege of Gondor from Lord of the Rings.
Bookmarked How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America (Smithsonian Magazine)

The toll of history’s worst epidemic surpasses all the military deaths in World War I and World War II combined. And it may have begun in the United States

John M. Barry, the author of The Great Influenza, discusses the three waves of the Spanish flu. He talks about the beginnings in the US:

Although some researchers argue that the 1918 pandemic began elsewhere, in France in 1916 or China and Vietnam in 1917, many other studies indicate a U.S. origin. The Australian immunologist and Nobel laureate Macfarlane Burnet, who spent most of his career studying influenza, concluded the evidence was “strongly suggestive” that the disease started in the United States and spread to France with “the arrival of American troops.” Camp Funston had long been considered as the site where the pandemic started until my historical research, published in 2004, pointed to an earlier outbreak in Haskell County.

The way the virus spread around the world:

Initially the 1918 pandemic set off few alarms, chiefly because in most places it rarely killed, despite the enormous numbers of people infected. Doctors in the British Grand Fleet, for example, admitted 10,313 sailors to sick bay in May and June, but only 4 died. It had hit both warring armies in France in April, but troops dismissed it as “three-day fever.” The only attention it got came when it swept through Spain, and sickened the king; the press in Spain, which was not at war, wrote at length about the disease, unlike the censored press in warring countries, including the United States. Hence it became known as “Spanish flu.” By June influenza reached from Algeria to New Zealand. Still, a 1927 study concluded, “In many parts of the world the first wave either was so faint as to be hardly perceptible or was altogether lacking…and was everywhere of a mild form.” Some experts argued that it was too mild to be influenza.

How the Spanish Flu infected both throat and lungs:

A pandemic occurs when an entirely new and virulent influenza virus, which the immune system has not previously seen, enters the population and spreads worldwide. Ordinary seasonal influenza viruses normally bind only to cells in the upper respiratory tract—the nose and throat—which is why they transmit easily. The 1918 pandemic virus infected cells in the upper respiratory tract, transmitting easily, but also deep in the lungs, damaging tissue and often leading to viral as well as bacterial pneumonias.

The three different waves:

After that third wave, the 1918 virus did not go away, but it did lose its extraordinary lethality, partly because many human immune systems now recognized it and partly because it lost the ability to easily invade the lungs. No longer a bloodthirsty murderer, it evolved into a seasonal influenza.

Scientists and other experts are still asking questions about the virus and the devastation it caused, including why the second wave was so much more lethal than the first. Researchers aren’t certain, and some argue that the first wave was caused by an ordinary seasonal influenza virus that was different from the pandemic virus; but the evidence seems overwhelming that the pandemic virus had both a mild and virulent form, causing mild as well as severe spring outbreaks, and then, for reasons that remain unclear, the virulent form of the virus became more common in the fall.

The way in which people reacted:

In New Haven, Connecticut, John Delano recalled, “Normally when someone was sick in those days [people] would bring food over to other families but…Nobody was coming in, nobody would bring food in, nobody came to visit.” In Perry County, Kentucky, the Red Cross chapter chairman begged for help, pleaded that there were “hundreds of cases…[of] people starving to death not from lack of food but because the well were panic stricken and would not go near the sick.”

Considering the current coronovirus outbreak, it was intriguing reading Barry’s predictions:

In recent years, two different bird influenza viruses have been infecting people directly: the H5N1 strain has struck in many nations, while H7N9 is still limited to China (see “The Birth of a Killer”). All told, these two avian influenza viruses had killed 1,032 out of the 2,439 people infected as of this past July—a staggering mortality rate. Scientists say that both virus strains, so far, bind only to cells deep in the lung and do not pass from person to person. If either one acquires the ability to infect the upper respiratory tract, through mutation or by swapping genes with an existing human virus, a deadly pandemic is possible.

Liked Education resources for schools teachers and students – ABC Education (Splash)

The Australian Dream education resources explore five themes, which we recommend studying in the following order: (1) Introducing Adam Goodes (2) Cultural identity (3) History and truths (4) Racism (5) Resilience and reconciliation.

Bookmarked The Eleventh (

The Eleventh is an explosive thriller teasing out everything you never knew about one of the most famous chapters of Australian political history — the downfall of Gough Whitlam. Host Alex Mann seeks out new clues and perspectives about what actually happened via first-hand accounts, many previously untold, bringing to life the scandals and subplots that changed the nation forever. Listen for free from your mobile device on the ABC listen app, Apple Podcasts or Google podcasts.

A podcast providing an in-depth look at Whitlam’s sacking in 1975.
Bookmarked How did the last Neanderthals live? (

In many ways, the last surviving Neanderthals are a mystery. But four caves in Gibraltar have given an unprecedented insight into what their lives might have been like.

It is interesting to read Melissa Hogenboom’s discussion of Neanderthals along side Peter Brannen’s reflection on the history of the earth.
Bookmarked The End of the Beginning (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

In this understanding of tech dominance, the driver of generational change is a paradigm shift: from mainframes to personal computers, from desktop applications to the web, first on personal computers, and then on the web. Each shift brought a new company to dominance, and when the next shift arrives, so will new companies rise to prominence.

What, though, is the next shift?

Ben Thompson contends that there are no new paradigm shifts in regards to technology and instead we are moving into a time of diversification.

In other words, today’s cloud and mobile companies — Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Google — may very well be the GM, Ford, and Chrysler of the 21st century. The beginning era of technology, where new challengers were started every year, has come to an end; however, that does not mean the impact of technology is somehow diminished: it in fact means the impact is only getting started.

This has me thinking about Genevieve Bell’s argument that every company is a data company today. It also reminds me of Venkatesh Rao’s discussion of history in regards to the internet of beefs.

Liked ‘Port Arthur moment’: Business urges PM to lead on climate amid bushfire crisis (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Business leaders have described the unfolding bushfire crisis as a “Port Arthur moment”, urging the Morrison government to adopt a co-ordinated national strategy to confront climate change and aggressively reduce carbon emissions.

Liked Why 40% of Vietnamese People Have the Same Last Name (Atlas Obscura)

The last name, in Vietnam, is there, but just isn’t that important. And when it’s not that important, you might as well change it if a new last name might help you in some way. This may or may not be a continuation of the way names were used before the Chinese came—we really don’t know—but ever since, Vietnamese people have tended to take on the last name of whoever was in power at the time. It was seen as a way to show loyalty, a notion which required the relatively frequent changing of names with the succession of rulers. After all, you wouldn’t want to be sporting the last name of the previous emperor.

Liked 10 tech-related trends that shaped the decade (Pew Research Center)
  1. Social media sites have emerged as a go-to platform for connecting with others, finding news and engaging politically.
  2. Around the world and in the U.S., social media has become a key tool for activists, as well as those aligned against them.
  3. Smartphones have altered the way many Americans go online.
  4. Growth in mobile and social media use has sparked debates about the impact of screen time on America’s youth – and others.
  5. Data privacy and surveillance have become major concerns in the post-Snowden era.
  6. Tech platforms have given rise to a gig economy.
  7. Online harassment has become a fairly common feature of online life, both for teens and adults.
  8. Made-up news and misinformation has sparked growing concern.
  9. A majority of Americans see gender discrimination as a problem in the tech industry.
  10. Americans’ views about tech companies have turned far less positive in recent years.
Bookmarked Why you should read Machiavelli by OPEN

Here are some specific lessons from The Prince that will help any new people manager:

  1. You lead for the benefit of the led and with their implicit consent. If you expect respect or compliance because of a new job title, you’re already on the wrong track. If you’re managing a person or a team you need to succeed by making them successful and not seek the credit for what they do.
  2. Be unusual. Reputations are built on what you do differently, on the big challenges that you overcome.
  3. Be alert to the need to adapt — and do it boldly when it is time to do so. Change will come, but we act as if it never will. Best to accept that it is coming and be ready when you see signs. The positive version of this is – change is good, and there are always opportunities if you look for them.
  4. If you’re going to make changes an organisation, best to do it quickly. Ever lived through a six-month re-org? If not, I hope you never do. Everything else stops, no one can think about anything other than the change that will come.
  5. Innovation requires power. To innovate you need to be in power, or as Thomas Cromwell puts it in Wolf Hall, “pick a prince”. In modern corporate parlance, find a senior sponsor for your brilliant project. Having a great idea and being passionate are not enough to get things to happen – you need support. That’s politics.
Antony Mayfield provides some reasons why Machiavelli’s The Prince is one of the books he recommends new people managers to read.
Bookmarked Welcome to Jáchymov: the Czech town that invented the dollar (

When the town’s shiny silver deposits dwindled, miners began to encounter a mysterious pitch-black substance that led to an alarmingly high incidence of fatal lung diseases. They called the uraninite mineral “Pechblende” (“pech” means “bad luck” in German). While sifting through the town’s mines in 1898, a physicist named Marie Curie identified that the same ore that had produced the first dollars contained two new radioactive elements: radium and polonium. The discovery disfigured Curie’s hands, eventually killed her and led her to become the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. But it also set the stage for the town’s unlikely second act: the same mines that coined the world’s currency would now power the nuclear arms race.

Eliot Stein digs into the history of the tiny Czech town of Jáchymov that was recently named one of Unesco’s newest World Heritage sites. He discusses the silver deposits that helped create the first ‘thalors’ some 500 years ago, as well as the radioactive metals that helped fuel the Cold War.
Liked Tonnes of sand along this Melbourne beach are hiding a dark chapter of Victoria’s history (ABC News)

It’s a tale that has everything: ghastly crimes, executions, exhumations, grave robbery, publicly-funded Great Depression-era mass-employment construction schemes and, of course, Ned Kelly.