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Aug 23, 2020
This week’s theme
The epidemic in five words

This week’s words
Typhoid Mary

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Relative usage over time

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Words that appear to be misspellings

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AWADmail Issue 947

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: Coronavirus got you down? Feeling cooped up? Going stir crazy? WISE UP! -- is the perfect cure for cabin fever -- it’s a Wicked/Smart Party Card Game that asks tons of devilishly difficult questions that’ll give you know-it-alls plenty of life lessons in humility, history, sports, science, literature, and geography. And wit. For example: Everyone knows the First and Second Amendments -- what’s the Third? Sleeping Beauty’s real name? How long is a furlong? But beware, there’s also a slew of “challenge” cards that chuck Darwinian physical and mental wrenches into the works, e.g., “Throw this card on the floor and pick it up without using your hands.” Just what the doctor ordered, especially for this week’s Email of the Week Winner, Dorrin Rosenfeld (see below), and hunkered-down brainiacs everywhere. WISE UP! NOW.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

GPT-3, Bloviator: OpenAI’s Language Generator Has No Idea What It’s Talking About
MIT Technology Review

How the Language of a Disease Develops -- Shaped by Fear and Prejudice
The Guardian

Nearly 70,000 Lives Could Be Saved in the Next 3 Months If More Americans Wore Masks, Researchers Say

From: Jeffrey Camelio (jmcamelio9 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zoonosis

You encourage tyranny. You should permanently staple a mask over your entire face.

Jeffrey Camelio, Longmont, Colorado

From: Bruce Hyatt (bruce.hyatt gmail.com)
Subject: Wearing masks

This is a subject both near-and-dear and baffling, for me. Wearing a mask is so simple and yet so effective that it baffles me why there’s so much resistance. If everyone wore a mask when outside their house or car the transmission rate would crash so quickly that we could get back to nearly normal within a few weeks.

On the flip side, I live 100 yards from the beach and I can’t go down there because most people don’t wear a mask. It’s become a tyranny of the obnoxious -- only the no-maskers get to enjoy the beach. And our city is one of four hot-spots in the state, the other three being neighboring cities, all with a positive test rate of more than 6% compared with 1.5% for the state as a whole.

Bruce Hyatt, Revere, Massachusetts

From: Pam Robertson (pollish xtra.co.nz)
Subject: fomites

With reference to Donald Trump continuing to reiterate that there has been a Covid-19 surge in New Zealand: on the day he first broadcast this newsflash, there were only 9 new Covid cases in New Zealand -- all linked to a community cluster and confined to one city. This followed 102 days with NO new Covid cases. In the US that day there were something like 40,000 new cases. Today our Prime Minister advised that the US has 16,563 cases per million people, whereas New Zealand has 269 per million. This fact in verifiable.

Currently in New Zealand masks are recommended to be worn in public or close contact locations and we sign in or apply our phone app whenever we enter a building, etc.

Pam Robertson, Wellington, New Zealand

From: Eileen Saks (eileensaks gmail.com)
Subject: Mask up!

You will undoubtedly get a lot of hate mail this week from people who resent being told what to do to protect themselves and others in the name of personal liberty. Don’t let it get to you! I came across the following article in June, and it really brings it home. Jeremy Howard, the author, sums it up this way:

“There are numerous studies that suggest if 80% of people wear a mask in public, then COVID-19 transmission could be halted. Until a vaccine or cure is discovered, cloth face masks might be the most important tool we currently have to fight the pandemic.”

Transmission could be halted -- imagine that!

Eileen Saks, Morristown, New Jersey

JFK mask
From: Robert Mac (robert robertmac.com)
Subject: mask

JFK said it best: Mask what you can do for your country.

Also, here’s a short video people find funny about wearing a mask. It’s from the Seedy CDC: DC. And another with Typhoid Mary!

Robert Mac, Washington, DC

From: Barbara Fix (baafix earthlink.net)
Subject: Masks

I had these bumper stickers made up. The six-feet one I thought of in early March. The second after a health worker taking my COVID test (negative!) told me about seeing the Mask it slogan on a guy’s T-shirt.

6 feet apart or 6 feet under Mask It or Casket
Barbara Fix, Santa Fe, New Mexico

From: John Hollins (hollinsjg icloud.com)
Subject: Zoonosis

Here is an extract from a column in the Globe and Mail:

Masks principally protect other people, not the wearer. Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets from an infected person. If you wear a mask, you are less likely to spread the virus when you cough, sneeze, or talk, and less likely to leave germs on surfaces. As the saying goes: “Your mask protects me, my mask protects you.”
André Picard; Globe and Mail; Mar 5, 2020.

John G. Hollins, PhD, Gloucester, Canada

From: Ina Saltz (ina saltzdesign.com)
Subject: How I am doing

AWAD has been and continues to be a soothing presence in my life especially during this hard time. The shared love of words transcend the pandemic, yet I am heartened by your advice and acknowledgement in today’s AWAD, encouraging everyone to do the best they can, together, to overcome Covid.

We are among the lucky ones who have a semi-rural refuge away from our primary residence in New York City. Our modest upstate weekend house, which we have been working on since we bought it fifteen years ago, has been our full-time home since March 16th.

We are do-it-yourselfers and we have taken this time to work on many projects on our property, distracting us from the news and giving us a sense of accomplishment at the same time. We have expanded our compost bin, built a retaining wall, repaired bare lawn areas, dug french drains around the house, and weeded and pruned and planted.

We are senior citizens and I am immunologically vulnerable after leukemia and a bone marrow transplant so we are grateful for every day of staying in “splendid isolation” as my doctor has described it.

Stay safe, Anu, we need you!

Ina Saltz, New York City & Stockport, New York

From: Horácio Costa (horaciocosta23 hotmail.com)
Subject: Report from Brazil

These are terrible times here in Brazil -- and I hear also there in the US. Our two countries suffer from similar political and social diseases, that this crisis has only emphasized. The way out can be similar too: through elections. Hope you Americans choose well. Good luck!

Horácio Costa, Sao Paulo, Brazil

From: Grant Agnew (ggttwwaa gmail.com)
Subject: A lighter COVID story

At the beginning of the virus problem here, there was panic-buying of some goods (things like bread, rice, pasta, toilet paper I could understand -- but lemon juice?). There were two quick results: rationing (“only one packet per customer”), and some shopping times reserved for old people -- the 65+. Then numbers in shops at any one time were limited too.

I turned 66 back in April. Shortly after my birthday I decided one day to go to the nearest supermarket during old people’s hours. I was standing in the queue waiting to be let in when I was suddenly accosted by the security guard who was enforcing the restrictions. He demanded proof of my age. This was -- sob ! -- one of the nicest things anyone has said to me since my hair went grey.

Grant Agnew, Brisbane, Australia

From: Renate Janse van Vuuren (etaner321 gmail.com)
Subject: C-19 in our area

Here in South Africa, we have had a quick response in March -- a full lockdown -- which is being phased out slowly but surely. While economically very distressing(!!), it did help to contain the spread of the virus. The recovery rate from infection is about 80%. The death toll is just over 11,000 in a population of around 57 million.

We live on a timber farm in the Mpumalanga province (an hour’s drive from the Kruger National Park in the east of the country), and haven’t had any virus-related deaths in a radius of at least 20 km around us. We are very fortunate, of course. All of us -- staff and management -- have adhered to the government’s directive to wear masks when in groups, maintain social distancing, and sanitize our hands as often as possible. All of us have our temperatures taken every morning and have to pass a five-question checklist for possible symptoms. I believe this (mostly annoying) regime does help to keep the virus at bay.

Renate Janse van Vuuren, Graskop, South Africa

From: Marcia Bowman (bsandbirds gmail.com)
Subject: Where we are

We are happily expatriated to Panama, in Boquete, Chiriqui Province, up in the mountains. Panama has taken this seriously from the beginning, but we have challenges with families and communities living together in less than perfectly clean conditions. Nonetheless, most of the country is on mandatory weekend quarantine, and those in the Panama City area are limited as to when they can leave their homes the rest of the week. Women are allowed to go out for two hours, based on their ID numbers, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; men on Tuesday and Thursday. We all had these restrictions initially. When we do go out, everyone must wear a mask, there are arrests and fines for those who do not. When we go into a store, we first step on a disinfectant mat, then get our temperature taken and our hands sprayed with alcohol. Until today, only grocery stores and pharmacies have been open. But restaurants and food providers get a special permit to be able to deliver food. And other “essential workers” can get permits to be able to be out or driving at any time. We have stayed under 80,000 total infections, and just barely over 2000 deaths.

Marcia Bowman, Boquete, Panama

From: Natasha Roy (natasha.roy mcgill.ca)
Subject: Canada

I’m in Montreal, Quebec, the epicentre of the virus in Canada. Doing relatively well. Masks are mandatory in closed spaces when physical distancing is not possible. It’s a little ironic considering this provincial government shoved through a law banning the wearing of religious symbols, which was seen as a direct attack on Muslim women wearing the niqab (veil). In any case, the curve has flattened significantly even in this hotspot. However, people are worried about schools reopening. The provincial government seems a little pie-in-the-sky about it all.

Natasha Roy, Montreal, Canada

From: Rebecca Overholt (Julephenia gmail.com)
Subject: Zoonosis

You asked how we were, Anu. Well, my husband and I are a week away from celebrating our first anniversary.

We have both been unemployed/on furlough since March.

We are actors, servers, baristas, nannies, writers... anything we can be to make money as artists in NYC. We have spent most of the past six months inside, watching our industries die, our only contact with the outside world via Zoom. Our friends and family have been gravely ill. For months, we heard sirens so often it was an event the day we realized... the streets were silent. We lost a much-wanted pregnancy... and now don’t know if we will have jobs to support a family.

We watched the country erupt in righteous anger and pain... only to see cruelty and misinformation take over the cry of humanity. We are lucky - we have each other, and have the privilege of asking our family for help if we need it. But we don’t know, at all, if our industry will come back - theatre cannot survive as an online business. We do not know how long the drop off this cliff will be... or if there is a bottom at all. So... how are we?

We don’t know. We have enough to get through today. Perhaps that is all we can ask for, now.

Rebecca Overholt, New York, New York

How are you? Really.
From: Kerry Pettis (gmak65 gmail.com)
Subject: How Are You? Really.

My church (Jefferson Unitarian) has been meeting virtually since March and the leadership is getting really good at it! I watch online, but what I really miss is singing together with the choir and congregation. (We have choir “rehearsal” virtually Wed. nights but can’t really hear each other as we sing.)

One of the features of our Sunday “services” is a picture montage that congregants send in, responding to a prompt: (“Pandemic Haircuts”, What Are You Growing?, Hobbies, etc.) Here’s the picture I sent for the prompt: How Are You? Really.

Kerry Pettis, Broomfield, Colorado

From: Martha Parker Pyne (marthaparkerpyne gmail.com)
Subject: Health here

I live in Corvallis, Oregon. It is a science university town with a very strong school of public health. We have had a lot of random local testing, everyone distances politely and wears masks. As a result, our infection rate is very low. There is community concern about the return of university students next month, but the administration says they are ready to shut down if needed.

We also have easy access to many wonderful hiking trails, so we can exercise safely outdoors. Still, everyone on the trails has a mask and uses it when passing another hiker.

Martha Parker Pyne, Corvallis, Oregon

From: Robert Greenstein (greenstein.robert gmail.com)
Subject: Zoonosis

In 2004 an editor at the Lancet, one of the two most prestigious medical publications on the planet, requested that I write an editorial about an ongoing concern of mine: that Crohn’s disease may be consequent to a cryptic mycobacterial infection. I asked a DVM PhD colleague to be a co-author. He wanted the word “zoonotic” to be predominately featured. I commented “Mike, no one will know what we are writing about.” He replied. “If they don’t know the word zoonotic, they should.” So I put it in the title.

Greenstein RJ, Collins MT. Emerging pathogens: is Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis zoonotic? Lancet 2004;364:396-7.

The full story is, of course, far more convoluted. Governmental agencies don’t want to alarm the public. That mycobacterium is found in pasteurized milk and potable chlorinated municipal water. The British government was about to promulgate guidelines about how to deal with the disease caused by that mycobacterium in cattle. The Lancet wanted to publish the editorial at the same time. When the responsible British government agency learnt of that possibility, they considered not publishing their guidelines at all. So, to aid in getting the Editorial published, I made the title as impenetrable and non-confrontational as possible.

Robert Greenstein, MB BS LRCP MRCS FRCS (England) FACS ECFMG, Tenafly, New Jersey

From: Ted Parkhill (taparkhill earthlink.net)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--zoonosis

I suppose that we are all suffering a bit from Zoomosis these days too.

Ted Parkhill, Incline Village, Nevada

From: Banna Rubinow (bcdande twcny.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zoonosis

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
“Disease control had been studied there since the founding ... various zoonoses, like the Marburg virus, that move from monkey to human.”
Karen Joy Fowler; We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; Penguin; 2013.

I can’t begin to tell you (but it looks as if I’m about to try) how thrilled I was by your usage example for zoonosis. Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a magnificent book, and anything that might encourage folks to read it is to be applauded, though this is hardly a representative passage. We got a pre-publication copy in the bookstore where I was working when the book was released. We got many advance reading copies of other books, but this one intrigued me. I read it. I haven’t stopped raving about it ever since. I used to thrust copies into customers’ hands, almost begging them to read it. Every single customer who gave me feedback thanked me profusely for the recommendation. Though I’m retired now, I still recommend it whenever I can.

Banna Rubinow, Oswego, New York

From: Krystal Walker (krystal422 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zoonosis

Is there a term if it goes from humans to animals? This story was in my newsfeed right after I checked my email this morning:

Five minks at Utah farms test positive for virus that causes COVID-19 in humans

Krystal Walker, Murray, Utah

The term is anthroponosis, though it’s not very common (the term, not the transmission of disease from humans to non-human animals).
-Anu Garg

From: Robert Carleton (enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zoonosis

I have always supported measures and principles and not men. I have acted fearless and independent and I never will regret my course. I would rather be politically buried than to be hypocritically immortalized. -Davy Crockett, frontiersman, soldier, and politician (17 Aug 1786-1836)

Your brief b’day acknowledgement on Monday struck a particularly negative chord.

Davie Crockett epitomized the colonialist drive to eradicate the native peoples of this continent. The European invaders used the Papal Bull of 1456, known as the Right of Discovery, as justification; it declared that all lands newly found by Europeans were theirs by right, and that all those who occupied those places by natural heritage were less than human and should be ignored, enslaved, or eradicated. The killing began with the Taino under Columbus’s boots, and with the Wampanoag and so many others in what became New England under the Puritans; it continued for 400 years, with the final military murder being the massacre at Wounded Knee at the very end of the 19th Century. The policy continues with rules that either confine Native peoples to limited tribal areas or demands that they disappear through assimilation. Europeans did the same world-wide; the details varied a bit from region to region, but the lash was felt everywhere, save Antarctica.

Bob Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Scott Peterson (wsp aya.yale.edu)
Subject: Fomites

In medical school we learn the catchy and memorable phrase as the definition of fomites: food, fingers, feces, and flies.

Scott Peterson, MD, Middlebury, Connecticut

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! -- the family that plays together stays together

From: Dorrin Rosenfeld (drdim comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fomites

The blankets covered with smallpox fomites given to the American Indians -- this was a huge issue at the time I was a student at Amherst College. The college began in 1821 and was named after Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the man responsible for that very “gift”. He was our mascot and team names were Lord Jeffs. In 2017 we finally changed our mascot (by votes from students, faculty, staff, and alumni) to the woolly mammoth after a specimen in our Natural History collection.

Dorrin B. Rosenfeld, 1985, Vallejo, California

From: Andrew Holmes (andrew.holmes moodys.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fomites

Another example of fomites. This time with some proper social distancing:

Eyam plague: The village of the damned

Andrew Holmes, Venice, California

From: Matthew Mattingly (mdmattin1 gmail.com)
Subject: Fomitorium

I’m inspired to neologize. Fomitorium: A dedicated space in a house where incoming groceries, packages, etc., are placed to be isolated or sanitized before being brought into the regular living quarters.

Matthew Mattingly, Amherst, Massachusetts

From: Kshema Nadgir (kshema.nadgir gmail.com)
Subject: asymptomatic

A cute cartoon I saw the other day.

Kshema Nadgir, Mumbai, India

From: Andrew Causey (drewland512 gmail.com)
Subject: Answer: We are doing fine here in Evanston IL

You asked how we are doing: Fine. Very healthy and focusing on eating better, thank you. We hope you are likewise.

May I ask a favor? Will you find us some words that might help explain what we are experiencing these weird days? For the luckiest among us, we are waking up healthy and happy, getting ready for work (online or in person)...and then a feeling of dread settles over us. “Oh, right...we are still in a pandemic...” we say wistfully to ourselves. I feel both “fine” and “terrible” at the same time. And we’ve got a constant sense of fear seeing our shadows: do I feel feverish? Is my throat sore?

I guess the only word I can think of to explain my sense of Being right now is schizophrenic. Surely there are better words that that! We don’t know how to think about it or talk about it without some verbal framework.

I know that this strange sense of fractured existence is actually a kind of joy: the world of entitled, middle class, probably-still-employed people.

Andrew Causey, Evanston, Illinois

From: Andrea R. Paolino (arpmrb89 msn.com)
Subject: Typhoid Mary

NPR’s Throughline podcast has a great episode about her.

Andrea Paolino, Denver, Colorado

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Typhoid Mary

The story of Typhoid Mary shows that mankind considers poverty a disease. While we pretend to believe that poverty is a virtue, we unashamedly idolize the rich and despise the poor, even going so far as to suggest that it’s their laziness that causes people to become impoverished.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Morning Waters (midwive yahoo.com)
Subject: Typhoid Mary

I am calling anyone who willfully refuses to wear a mask to protect others Covid Karen or Covid Ken.

Morning Waters, Jamul, California

From: William Kenah (kenahwm yahoo.com)
Subject: Typhoid Mary

Ogden Nash has a poem Winter Complaint has relevance to the current situation and to Typhoid Mary. The poet, lauding his own attempts to be a responsible virus sufferer, also criticizes his less careful infected fellows. The poem in its entirety Is worth a read, but the verse relevant to today’s word goes

I don’t like germs,
But I’ll keep the germs I’ve got.
Will I take a chance of spreading them?
Definitely not.
I sneeze out the window
And I cough up the flue,
And I live like a hermit
Till the germs get through.
And because I’m considerate,
Because I’m wary,
I am treated by my friends
Like Typhoid Mary.

William Kenah, Long Beach, California

From: MaryAnne Glazar (maryanneglazar48 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Typhoid Mary

If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed, and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon. -George D. Aiken, US senator (20 Aug 1892-1984)

We’ve already got a few: gender, age...

MaryAnne Glazar, Berkeley, California

From: Michael Poole (michael puuru.co.nz)
Subject: Routes to prejudice

If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed, and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon. -George D. Aiken, US senator (20 Aug 1892-1984)

It’s true. Within living memory, Britain was pretty much monoracial, so we used accent to distinguish between people -- by social class for the most part.

I discovered many years ago how powerful this is. I had gone into a motorcycle dealer in Liverpool, where I was a student, to buy some parts for my bike. At the same time, a Black lad was doing likewise. Now, until then all the Blacks I had encountered were West Indians, with accents to match. However, this lad had a thick Scouse accent (like the Beatles). My instant reaction was “Oh, he’s English!” Yes, one of us, not a foreigner. That’s how powerful accent was, and remains, in Britain -- it can override visible race in our minds.

Michael Poole, Paraparaumu Beach, New Zealand

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Vaccinate

Three cheers for Dr. Edward Jenner, inventor in 1796 of vaccination against the dread disease of smallpox, which in its time was considered to be on par with COVID-19. Jenner noticed that milkmaids did not catch smallpox and figured their immunity may have something to do with their exposure to cowpox, a much milder form of the disease. He withdrew extracts from pustules of people who worked with cows and inoculated others with it on an experimental basis to verify his assumption. (CDC)

To be vaccinated against various communicable diseases is not (or should not be) an option, but a civic duty. In this sense it is akin to prohibition of spitting others in the face or carrying a gun!

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Pierre-Alexandre Sicart (PA_Sicart hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--vaccinate

You wrote:
No, wearing a mask does not make you a hero. Neither is having to wear a mask some sort of tyranny any more than having to wear a seat belt is. But if you need a medal, we can nominate you for a Presidential Medal of Freedom. They are going cheap these days.

Yeaaaah. Same with the French légion d’honneur (I’m French).

But I have to disagree with you on one point: wearing a mask totally makes me a hero. I’M BATMAN! 🦇

Pierre-Alexandre Sicart, Midi-Pyrenees, France

From: Robert Burns (robertburns oblaw.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--vaccinate

Thanks. Vaca caca, no mas. Now that I know that its primary use is a mere secondary meaning, I intend to delete it from my vocabulary.

Robert Burns, Ocean Beach, California

From: Jill Underwood (jayyou13x yahoo.com)
Subject: Vaccinate??? Political!!

Please do not insert your opinions on vaccinations when there are hundreds of thousands of people who do not believe the vaccination is the cure!! Do you research because this type of R-virus Does not respond to vaccines!

Love this site but I will be unsubscribing because it appears you are politically motivated or you’ve been paid by someone!

Jill Underwood, Texas

A fact doesn’t change based on how many people believe in it. But as long as you are going by numbers, more people believe in vaccination than those who don’t.
Payment? Of course, we’re paid by Louis Pasteur, Edward Jenner, Jonas Salk, and others (complete list here). You didn’t ask, but in the interest of full disclosure, they also pay us for saying the Earth is round.
-Anu Garg

From: Andrew T E Murphy (murphywimpey mac.com)
Subject: The good fight

Occasionally I see the sort of negative reactions to your posts that make me wonder about the DNA of the people who write them. In my kinder moments, I attribute it to the polarisation of politics that has been fuelled by that sad excuse for a president. Your words last week, however, drove home to me (a retired, privileged, White male) just how deep-rooted is the racism not only in the USA, but around the world.

I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your daily emails and how much I share your delight in, respect for, and love for words. Please ignore the bullies -- the racists, the misogynists, the “genderists”, the haters -- and keep fighting the good fight. You have a strong moral compass, and you make effective use of reason and common sense.

My late father fought on the beaches of Normandy against people who are saying the same things that we hear today from the White House and DJT’s supporters. Your daily words honour his memory and shine a light in the darkness.

Andrew T. E. Murphy, Prague, Czech Republic (and over my years as a teacher, Beijing, Rabat, Dar es Salaam, Yokohama, Singapore, Amman, and Liverpool)

From: Merrily Besvinick (merrily23 gmail.com)
Subject: Thank you

Thank you, thank you. thank you! My 98-year-old dad and I discuss your words and your commentary daily. Helps keep him sharp!!

Merrily Besvinick, Croton on Hudson, New York

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Zoonosis and Typhoid Mary

We’ve heard the phrase... “bats in the belfry”. But “bats in the soup” is a whole other kettle of... bats? Strong evidence points to a popular animal “wet” meat market (wild and domestic), in the city of Wuhan, China, as the origin of the now-global coronavirus pandemic. The prime suspect carrying Covid-19 seems to be bats. Apparently, bat soup is a popular local menu item, and it’s speculated that individuals who either processed the bats, or ate bat soup, caught and then spread the corona bug. And the rest is history. Here, I’ve pictured a pair of ‘enwrapped’, hanging fruit bats, speaking to our current global scourge, yet clearly not feeling the least bit guilty. My masked Froggy knows better.
Zoonosis Prognosis Typhoid Mary
Mary Mallon, back in her day (1869-1938), became the unwitting poster gal for the asymptomatic carrier of typhoid... highly contagious and potentially lethal. Once tracked down and isolated, then confirmed that she was rife with typhoid-causing Salmonella, she was forced into permanent quarantine. Here, I’ve depicted the devout young Irish-Catholic itinerant cook, Mary, as a poster girl, with a message that was paramount in her day, and still resonates in these times of COVID-19.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
This pandemic in five words:
1. zoonosis
2. fomites
3. asymptomatic
4. Typhoid Mary
5. vaccinate
1. epizootic
2. passed via mom’s iffy hand
3. no/missed activity
4. historic woman
5. protect many
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)


Says the vet, “As for my diagnosis,
your pet simply has halitosis.
Teeth cleaning should clear it.
Don’t worry, my dear, it
is certainly no zoonosis!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The man harbored a striking neurosis,
With some lasting effects so atrocious,
As it once came to pass
He got bit by an ass,
Which resulted in grim zoonosis.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

A worker who tended the poultry farm
Would cackle and cluck with alarm.
Our doc’s diagnosis --
“He has zoonosis;
Change his job to avoid further harm.”
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Said Yahweh, “I’ll hit ‘em hard, Moses,
With a plague of some cruel zoonosis.”
But the Hebrew’s reply
Was, “A lockdown they’ll try;
I suggest blood and frogs be your focus.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I struggle with questions like these --
Does one say ‘foe-mites’ or ‘foe-muh-teez’?
Unless it depends
On the way the poem ends,
You can say it however you please.
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

Says she, “Well, I sheltered in place,
with a mask always cov’ring my face.
Seems I caught the disease
from unknown fomites.
I suspect ‘twas this old Chinese vase.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Folks, it isn’t a matter of “rights”.
Going maskless the virus invites.
The course we must stay
and we’ll win. By the way
washing hands lessens risk from fomites.
-Zelda Dvoretzky. Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The waiter gave forth with a form of wheeze
Which warned of a great big abnormal sneeze.
But by then ‘twas too late
To prevent glass and plate
From becoming a couple of fomites
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Since Donald hates being alone nights,
In June he made Tulsa a fomites.
Then the courts within weeks
Gave it back to the Creeks,
Who replied, “This is how you atone, Whites?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We’re finding it most enigmatic
that someone who’s asymptomatic
might be quite infectious.
This virus affects us
in unforeseen ways. It’s erratic!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A virus is very erratic.
Some hosts appear asymptomatic.
Don’t let down your guard:
It’s wicked and hard.
It changes and never is static.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Live your life (it’s behavior pragmatic)
like you’re sick, but still asymptomatic.
Mask, wash hands, stay apart.
It’s no fun, but take heart:
It slows Covid spread. Axiomatic.
-Zelda Dvoretzky. Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

This dreadful disease can be spread
By folks unconfined to their bed.
They’re asymptomatic,
And so feel ecstatic --
Avoid them or soon you’ll be dead!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

You yourself can be asymptomatic,
But pass on the germ. That’s traumatic.
But recall Typhoid Mary?
See? That’s what’s so scary!
But as true as it’s melodramatic.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

This Covid is quite problematic,
And sometimes symptoms are dramatic.
So it’s not a big ask
To say wear a mask,
‘Cause often it’s asymptomatic.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Though having been raised as a Catholic,
I’m cured now and asymptomatic.
Fornication’s a sin?
Then tell Satan I’m in,
For the basement’s more fun than the attic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
(Author’s note: It’s just a limerick, folks, not an autobiography.)

Old-time doctors just couldn’t detect it.
Germ theory? They chose to reject it.
Then came Typhoid Mary,
Who said, “Death I carry.
Just show me a host, I’ll infect it.”
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

Of our leader we need to be wary.
The guy is a true Typhoid Mary.
We strongly suspect
that he seeks to infect
us with lies, via tweet commentary.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

I don’t have a green thumb; quite the contrary.
My attempts at a garden will vary.
Each year I sow seeds
Which turn into weeds.
I admit I’m a plant Typhoid Mary.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Inspectors, upon a close look,
Discovered a symptom-free cook.
They knew to be wary
Of this Typhoid Mary,
For lives she unwittingly took.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“We can’t fly,” sobbed a sad cassowary,
“Due to genes from some past Typhoid Mary.”
The ostrich and emu
Squawked “We want a redo!”
The penguin shrugged, “Who needs an eyrie?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Now parents, please don’t hesitate:
Your children you’d best vaccinate!
Anti-vaxxers dispense
Their advice, but no sense
Can I find in their bombastic prate.
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

When he learned they were planning to vaccinate,
he screamed, and flew into a panic state.
It seems he’d misheard,
and thought that the word
the nurses had said was “emasculate”!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The losses from Covid appall,
But soon we will vaccinate all.
That day we shall see
That we’re Covid-free --
I pray that will be in the fall.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If we could vaccinate against something,
Why not our Pres? He’s almost a done thing.
Though he’s called head of state,
No need to vacillate.
I’ll do it! I hear my heart thumping!
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

“From their duties we’ll get them to abdicate,
And from Meghan our lineage vaccinate,”
Said the Queen, “Harry’s girl
Should have skin like a pearl;
Could he not find a nice Anglo-Saxon mate?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Sister: “So, uh, bro, what do you call a disease transmitted from animals to humans?”
Brother: “Zoonosis.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

The sergeant yelled, “Douse that light, Corporal! Our fomites see it!”
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

The Australian Army captain shouted, “Rally ‘round and we’ll defeat our fomites!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Carrying my old phone’s data chip up to the third floor of my house, I took asymptomatic.
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

“An asymptomatic formula always results in a line that approaches a curve without touching it,” explained the math professor.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I took my old my Electrolux apart. Now my vaccinate pieces.
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

What kind of superbug might be born if Cholera and Typhoid Mary?
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump’s Foibles & Follies

Trump is hellbent on blocking voting-by-mail in the November election, having inserted a major donor/crony into the top USPS post. In recent weeks, many sorting machines have been ordered off-line, a number of mailboxes removed from the streets, and legions of postal workers have been laid off, or cajoled into retirement. Overtime has been majorly cut. Trump is also threatening NOT to provide federal dollars to expedite the anticipated surge in mail-in votes. Clearly, for Trump, it’s win by any (crooked) means necessary.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom ... nor Trump can stop the postal service Pulling the race placard
Frankly, it’s not surprising that one of the prime-movers of the anti-Obama “birther” movement, Trump, is at it once again, this time attacking the Democratic VP candidate, Senator Kamala Harris. He knows full well that she was born and raised in Oakland, CA, just as he knew Barack Obama was a US citizen, born in Hawaii. But in desperation, by playing the race card, and resorting to other unsavory ploys, Trump believes he can secure a second term in the Oval Office.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

There is no such thing as a “self-made” man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts. -George Matthew Adams, newspaper columnist (23 Aug 1878-1962)

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