A medical historian narrates the last century of scientific struggle against an enduring enemy: deadly contagious disease. Ever since the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, scientists have dreamed of preventing catastrophic outbreaks of infectious disease. Yet despite a century of medical progress, viral and bacterial disasters continue to take us by surprise, inciting panic and dominating news cycles. From the Spanish flu to the 1924 outbreak of pneumonic plague in Los Angeles to the 1930 “parrot fever” pandemic, through the more recent SARS, Ebola, and Zika epidemics, the last one hundred years have been marked by a succession of unanticipated pandemic alarms. In The Pandemic Century, a lively account of scares both infamous and less known, Mark Honigsbaum combines reportage with the history of science and medical sociology to artfully reconstruct epidemiological mysteries and the ecology of infectious diseases. We meet dedicated disease detectives, obstructive or incompetent public health officials, and brilliant scientists often blinded by their own knowledge of bacteria and viruses. We also see how fear of disease often exacerbates racial, religious, and ethnic tensions―even though, as the epidemiologists Malik Peiris and Yi Guan write, “‘nature’ remains the greatest bioterrorist threat of all.” Like man-eating sharks, predatory pathogens are always present in nature, waiting to strike; when one is seemingly vanquished, others appear in its place. These pandemics remind us of the limits of scientific knowledge, as well as the role that human behavior and technologies play in the emergence and spread of microbial diseases.
Where's your next disease coming from? From anywhere in the world--from overflowing sewage in Cairo, from a war zone in Rwanda, from an energy-efficient office building in California, from a pig farm in China or North Carolina. "Preparedness demands understanding," writes Pulitzer-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, and in this precursor to Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, she shows a clear understanding of the patterns lying beneath the new diseases in the headlines (AIDS, Lyme) and the old ones resurgent (tuberculosis, cholera). As the human population explodes, ecologies collapse and simplify, and disease organisms move into the gaps. As globalization continues, diseases can move from one country to another as fast as an airplane can fly.
Shorts HD presents a theatrical release of the five Oscar nominees for Best Documentary, Short Subject. [more inside]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Sugar in US food, interview with Dr. Jane Goodall Season 1, Ep 22
Sweden freaks out over possible Russian sub offshore near their capital. New York freaks out over Ebola patient. Some of the results from last week's Real Animals/Fake Paws court footage. Main story: FDA plans rules on disclosing on nutrition labels how much sugar is added to food, but are opposed by food manufactuers. Interview with Dr. Jane Goodall. Some of the gaffes of Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford, Rob Ford's brother.
The Blacklist: The Front (No. 74) Season 2, Ep 5
An eco-terror cult tries to exterminate the human race by setting off a pneumonic plague pandemic using the strain responsible for the Black Death. Red continues to search for his daughter. Lizzie meets with some mysterious colleagues. No Paul Reubens this week.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Translators in Afghanistan, Livening Up Supreme Court Reporting Season 1, Ep 21
Ebola Freakout. Vladimir Putin has a full day. McDonalds hires a former Mythbuster to promote their food. Main story: the plight of military translators (16m), with guest "Fnu" Mohammad. And Now: People in Congress Reminding you Exactly How Long They've Been In Congress. How to liven up Supreme Court proceedings (6m): take a cue from Keyboard Cat and replace courtroom drawings with dogs. Presented with raw footage of dogs (and a duck and a chicken) (11m) that news agencies (and you, the viewer at home) can use to make your own backing footage of Supreme Court audio.