Category : * General Interest

(Nature) Can dogs smell COVID? Here’s what the science says

A group in France, led by veterinary scientist Dominique Grandjean at the National Veterinary School of Alfort near Paris, posted its work3 on the preprint server bioRxiv in June. The researchers, who included Sarkis, trained 8 dogs to detect COVID-19 in 198 sweat samples, around half of which were from people with the disease. When these were hidden in a row of negative samples, the dogs identified the positive samples 83–100% of the time. The paper does not say how well the dogs identified negative test results. The research is now under review at a journal, but Grandjean says the process has not been easy. “To publish papers on detection dogs is very difficult because most reviewers do not know anything about working dogs,” he says.

The data in that study look promising, says Fyodor Urnov, a gene-editing scientist who is working on COVID testing at the University of California, Berkeley. But he would like to see larger data sets on how well dogs identify positive and negative samples. He also notes that there is variation in how well individual dogs perform. In Grandjean’s study, for example, 2 dogs identified 68 out of 68 positive samples, whereas one missed 10 out of 57 cases.

Groups need to boost their sample sizes before the wider scientific community can evaluate how useful the dogs might be, agrees James Logan, an infectious-disease researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who is training and studying COVID-19 dogs, including Storm, Maple and Asher. “It’s important not to go out too early with grand claims and small data sets,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

At Saint Michael’s, Charleston, yesterday

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Photos/Photography, Preaching / Homiletics

(NBC) A Boy and a Puppy Bond Through a Similar Struggle

‘At just two years old, Bentley Boyers has undergone two surgeries after being born with a cleft lip. His family recently adopted a puppy with a cleft lip, and they’ve formed a special connection.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Animals, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

One Photo Provides Insight into One Heroic 9/11 firefighter’s story: Gary Box

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Photos/Photography, Terrorism

Monday Mental Health Break–Dizzy – Roman Candles

Posted in * General Interest, Canada, Music

(CNN) In pictures: Americans celebrate Independence Day 2020

Check out all of them.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Photos/Photography

(Local Paper) Charleston’s Bill Murray talks and helps us to laugh amidst the Covid19 pandemic

Scrub-a-dub-dub, it’s Bill Murray in a bathtub.

The Charleston resident and movie star video-chatted with Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday night from his home — more specifically, from his bathtub.

“If there’s anyone that can shake us out of this pandemic doldrum, it’s my guest tonight,” Kimmel begins the video. “He’s joining us tonight from Murray Manor. Please welcome Bill Murray.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television

(NYT) Doing the Bump With the Belugas in Manitoba

Beneath the waves, two smoldering coals for eyes watched me with an intense, unyielding stare. Pristine white bodies floated up elegantly from the depths, one after another, surrounding my kayak in the open water. Their ghostly pale faces with wide, Joker-esque smiles pushed closer. A long, powerful sound burst up through the air, like a slowly deflating balloon, followed by silence and more expectant staring.

I was having a one-sided conversation with a pod of curious beluga whales. The mouth of Churchill River in northern Manitoba, Canada, was calm and quiet on this chilly, overcast July day, but these bright white whales were not. Belugas, nicknamed “the canaries of the sea” thanks to their song-like sounds, are social, playful and highly communicative. They repeated their shrieks and tunes, floating around me in anticipatory silence. There was only one thing left to do: sing along.

In response, raucous clicks and squeals drifted upward out of the dark water, like someone tapping on a microphone for attention, broken by steady streams of blowhole bubbles. I got the distinct feeling that I was being discussed.

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Posted in Animals, Canada

Tim Harford–Why we fail to prepare for disasters

Part of the problem may simply be that we get our cues from others. In a famous experiment conducted in the late 1960s, the psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley pumped smoke into a room in which their subjects were filling in a questionnaire. When the subject was sitting alone, he or she tended to note the smoke and calmly leave to report it. When subjects were in a group of three, they were much less likely to react: each person remained passive, reassured by the passivity of the others.

As the new coronavirus spread, social cues influenced our behaviour in a similar way. Harrowing reports from China made little impact, even when it became clear that the virus had gone global. We could see the metaphorical smoke pouring out of the ventilation shaft, and yet we could also see our fellow citizens acting as though nothing was wrong: no stockpiling, no self-distancing, no Wuhan-shake greetings. Then, when the social cues finally came, we all changed our behaviour at once. At that moment, not a roll of toilet paper was to be found.

Normalcy bias and the herd instinct are not the only cognitive shortcuts that lead us astray. Another is optimism bias. Psychologists have known for half a century that people tend to be unreasonably optimistic about their chances of being the victim of a crime, a car accident or a disease, but, in 1980, the psychologist Neil Weinstein sharpened the question. Was it a case of optimism in general, a feeling that bad things rarely happened to anyone? Or perhaps it was a more egotistical optimism: a sense that while bad things happen, they don’t happen to me. Weinstein asked more than 250 students to compare themselves to other students. They were asked to ponder pleasant prospects such as a good job or a long life, and vivid risks such as an early heart attack or venereal disease. Overwhelmingly, the students felt that good things were likely to happen to them, while unpleasant fates awaited their peers.

Robert Meyer’s research, set out in The Ostrich Paradox, shows this effect in action as Hurricane Sandy loomed in 2012. He found that coastal residents were well aware of the risks of the storm; they expected even more damage than professional meteorologists did. But they were relaxed, confident that it would be other people who suffered.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Psychology

(NPR) Jerry Seinfeld On Staying Home: ‘At My Dinner Table, You’re Supposed To Be Funny’

Jerry Seinfeld says he’s “adjusted pretty comfortably” to his new life in quarantine.

“I think there’s something to be said for not socializing,” he tells Weekend Edition. “It’s kind of a rest for your face and your fake emotions and your repeating the same stories.”

Seinfeld’s new standup special, 23 Hours to Kill, starts streaming May 5 on Netflix.

He jokes in the special: “I could be anywhere in the world right now. Now you be honest. If you were me, would you be up here hacking out another one of these?”

Talking to NPR, Seinfeld says he actually loves hacking out standup bits. It’s just a joke….

“Humor is of the greatest value in times like these,” he says. “Humor is an essential survival quantity, I think, of human life. I mean, I’ve been seeing some stuff about these nurses and medical professionals and these horrible units where they’re losing people so regularly. And I heard this one nurse say, she said, ‘You cry for a while and then you tell jokes.’ And that seems like the most human you can be.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Humor / Trivia

(Worth) The 25 Best Books to Read During Coronavirus Lockdown, According to Business Leaders

“The book I’m reading is The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. It’s the story of Churchill and his family during the World War II London blitz, bringing to life the resilience of the family and the British people during such a challenging time. It’s a book that had been on my wishlist, but I pulled it from my nightstand as I found myself wanting to read about inspirational moments in history, where people had lived through experiences that were intense and overwhelming and to find inspiration in how other people had gone through unprecedented challenges. It’s a very beautifully written book.”

Indré Rockefeller, Cofounder and Co-CEO of Paravel

Read it all and see what you make of the list.

Posted in * General Interest, Books, Health & Medicine

(BBC) Easter Sunday 2020 under lockdown captured in pictures

Posted in Easter, Globalization, Photos/Photography

(BBC) In pictures: Good Friday 2020 Around the World

Posted in Globalization, Holy Week, Photos/Photography

(Church Times) Philip Williamson–A History of Prayer amidst Wars, famines+pandemics

National acts of special worship could be either particular prayers or whole church services. Until the 1850s, the services were for use on special fast or thanksgiving days. These were usually ordered by royal proclamation, for observance by the whole population. As they were often appointed for weekdays, all work was suspended as on Sundays.

In England and Wales, and in Ireland, these prayers and services involved departures from the Book of Common Prayer. New texts were supplied by special forms of prayer, long series of which are often found in parish records.

The original rationale for these occasions was provided by the conceptions of “special providences” and divine judgements, drawn especially from Old Testament examples of afflictions suffered under the kings of Israel. Dislocations in the natural world as well as in human affairs were seen as God’s punishments for the collective sins of the kingdom, to be assuaged by simultaneous penitence, petitionary prayers, and promises of repentance.

A preface in the forms of prayer used during plague epidemics in the 16th and 17th centuries declared:

We be taught by many and sundry examples of holy Scriptures, that upon occasion of particular punishments, afflictions, and perils, which God of his most just judgement has some times sent among his people to show his wrath against sin, and to call his people to repentance and to the redress of their lives: the godly have been provoked and stirred up to more fervency and diligence in prayer, fasting, and alms deeds, to a more deep consideration of their consciences, to ponder their unthankfulness and forgetfulness of God’s merciful benefits towards them, with craving of pardon for the time past, and to ask his assistance for the time to come to live more godly, and so to be defended and delivered from all further perils & dangers. . . (1563)

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

A Warm Happy national Puppy Day to all Blog readers!

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

SOOO Wonderful–Luciano Pavarotti’s embarrassing moments on stage

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Music

(Local Paper) Sea turtles nesting earlier in South Carolina and Southeast as climate change takes hold

“Turtles keep you guessing,” she said. “What’s more shocking is since that nest we’re seen five more.”

The early nestings have bad and good implications for sea turtle nesting in South Carolina and across the Southeast. Loggerheads, which lay most of the eggs here, are also nesting earlier.

The phenomenon is likely one more sign that warmer seas and sands are becoming one more threat to the declining species.

But it might mean the ancient turtles themselves are adapting — again — to a changing climate.

Far more of the eggs that are laid in warmer sands emerge as females, disrupting the gender balance needed to reproduce. The trend has worried biologists for the turtles’ future. The turtles, metabolically if not instinctively, might just be looking for cooler sands. The shift in nesting season is occurring along with an apparent northward shift in range.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(CTV) ‘Extremely rare’ sighting of a lynx litter caught on camera by Hydro worker

A Manitoba Hydro worker stumbled across an “extremely rare” sight while traveling the highways in rural Manitoba – a mother lynx and her litter.

Sean Kirchmann, a Hydro employee, was on his way to Grand Rapids, Man., when he noticed some small feline heads poking out of the trees near the highway.

“One by one, the mother came out followed by her kittens, gingerly crossing through the ditch and then at the side of the road,” said Bruce Owen, the spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro.

Read it all and do NOT miss the video.

Posted in Animals, Canada, Photos/Photography

(Church Times) Locust plague in East Africa prompts plea for help

Aa parts of East Africa face the worst plague of locusts for decades, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has made a plea for international help. It described the situation as “unprecedented” and “devastating”.

At the same time, the Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, which works with hundreds of rural self-help groups in the region, has urged people to pray for an end to the crisis.

In Kenya, the insect swarms are the worst for 70 years, destroying staple food supplies and farmers’ livelihoods. In Somalia, where the invasion is the worst for a quarter of a century, a state of national emergency has been declared. This week, locusts were reported to have reached Uganda. Tanzania and South Sudan have been added to a watch list.

In Ethiopia, the influx is the worst for 25 years. Tearfund’s Emergency Officer, Tewodros Ketsela, said: “The region is already struggling after several poor harvests, due to either drought or excess rain. As such, farmers are particularly vulnerable to this new threat. Anyone who is fortunate enough to have food reserves will have to use them up earlier than expected.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Animals, Dieting/Food/Nutrition

Sunday Afternoon Encouragement–(NBC) Beer can leads to Minnesota woman reuniting with missing dog after 3 years

A Minnesota woman was reunited with her dog, Hazel, this week after spotting her missing pet’s picture on a Florida brewery’s beer can.

The road back together for Monica Mathis, 33, and Hazel began last month when Mathis was scrolling through Facebook and saw a picture of a dog that looked familiar. It was Hazel, her mixed breed that had been missing for three years.

What Mathis had hit upon was a label posted on Facebook from Motorworks Brewing, of Bradenton, Florida, which featured four adoptable dogs, including Hazel. Proceeds from sales of the cans were destined for a fund to build a new county animal shelter.

Read it all or watch the video below (highly recommended).

Posted in Animals, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Corporations/Corporate Life, Marriage & Family, Media

Another Woodstock, Virginia, Photo from the Weekend

A number of blog readers may remember Peter and Amy Mitchell from their time in the diocese of South Carolina. They now serve at All Souls Anglican Church, Woodstock, VA.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Photos/Photography

Woodstock, Virginia, Pictures

Posted in Harmon Family, Photos/Photography

A Johns Island South Carolina sunset to brighten your evening (Greg Snyder)

Posted in * South Carolina, Photos/Photography

(NYT) Epiphany Celebrations in Pictures Around the World

Enjoy them all.

Posted in Epiphany, Globalization, Photos/Photography

Saturday Mental Health Break–HyperZooming through part of Austria

HyperZooming through Hallstatt from geoff tompkinson on Vimeo.

Posted in * General Interest, Austria, Photos/Photography

BBC’s London Fireworks 2020

Posted in * General Interest, England / UK

Friday Mental Health break–(NBC) Airport Pig Spreads Holiday Cheer In San Francisco

Posted in Animals, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Travel

The Latest Picture of the Harmon’s new Puppy Luka

Posted in * By Kendall, Animals, Harmon Family, Photos/Photography

(NBC) 11-year-old Laila Anderson meets her bone-marrow donor for the first time

Posted in * General Interest, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sports

A missions team from Christ Saint Pauls, Yonges Island, sends pictures from their recent trip to Nigeria

Posted in * South Carolina, Church of Nigeria, Photos/Photography