Monday, June 22, 2009

The nightmare of lice - a history of pandemics

The series עושים היסטוריה! עם רן לוי (Making History with Ran Levi) had yet another excellent edition. For a moment I thought Ran Levi had surpassed his regular level of humorous remarks, by calling the podcast episode about pandemics 'The greatest nightmare of lice'. Like it is bad news for lice when mankind is struck by a lethal pandemic.

Obviously he relates the history of the Black Plague. Interestingly, this podcast came out in the same week cases of plague were reported from Lybia. This germ is not dead yet. Nowadays we know better how to deal with it, but at the time it did in a huge proportion of the early urbanized Europe of the Middle Ages. And so we move on to virus.

Based on sheer numbers, the Spanish Flu of 1919 was more lethal than the Black Plague, yet the Black Plague is engraved in our minds as the pinnacle of pandemics. More so also than Typhus and this is where the louse's nightmare kicks in. Typhus is conveyed by lice and before it hits man, it kills the louse. Even if this undermines a bit of the wit, the narration is excellent as usual. A perfect podcast.

More Making History with Ran Levi:
Surviving the atom bomb,
Robert Heinlein,
Diamond Rain and other phenomena,
Blood,
Myths and pseudo-knowledge.
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