Well done, you have reached the end of the week!
Today is World Tuberculosis Day, so chosen because it is the day in 1882 that Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacterium responsible for the disease: Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The discovery was a vital breakthrough in the fight against a disease that was responsible for 25% of all deaths in the 1800s. Koch is also famous for his work with anthrax which provided evidence supporting the germ theory of disease as opposed to the theory of spontaneous generation.
It is the birthday of Dorothy Height (1912-2010), American civil rights and women’s rights activist. Amongst the many campaigns she worked for during her life were the desegregation of schools (during Eisenhower’s term) and the appointment of African American women to government (Lyndon B. Johnson’s term). She was also appointed to the Commision that published the Belmont Report that investigated the ethical behavior in research prompted by the appalling breaches of ethics and violation of human rights of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
It’s also the birthday of Harry Houdini (1874 – 1926), magician, escape artist and investigator of charlatans and claims of the paranormal.
Some of his escape stunts still make my hair stand on end (what sort of nutter signs up for the Water Torture Cell stunt?) but I always found the debunking part of his career fascinating. Even his own death was not without drama and controversy, firstly because the true cause of a ruptured appendix was possibly exacerbated or completely overlooked because of blows to his abdomen from visitors to his dressing-room. Then his widow held a number of séances for the next decade trying to test whether there was life after death – they had previously agreed to a code should communication be possible. Needless to say, Houdini did not turn up, although one pastor Arthur Ford claimed to have made contact. Bess Houdini discontinued her search after ten years, saying that it was “long enough to wait for any man”.
Speaking of daring stunt masters, this morning Hili is performing some stunts of her own.
Hili: Do you see me?
A: Of course.
Hili: Do I look like a cat on the roof?
A: One hundred percent so.
Hili: Widzisz mnie?
Hili: Czy wyglądam jak kot na dachu?
Ja: W stu procentach.
As as a lagniappe, here’s Business Cat, that furry little psychopath, doing cat stuff.