Authorities say avoid wrestling armadillos due to leprosy risk

Authorities say avoid wrestling armadillos due to leprosy risk

From The Economist: "Hansen’s disease, better known as leprosy, is a tropical malady that is rare in America. In 2020, just 159 cases were reported. Only 5% of people seem to be susceptible to infection. Because it is so rare, Americans seldom think about leprosy, and many clinicians have never seen it outside a textbook. This is starting to change. Nearly 17% of leprosy cases were in Florida in 2020, and over 80% of those were in central Florida, and this year the state has 16 cases. In the past, Americans with leprosy usually caught it while travelling to countries where it is more common, such as Brazil or India, or had been in close contact with people from such places. Armadillo wrestlers are also at risk—the nine-banded armadillo can carry the disease. This latest outbreak is unusual in that the patients are neither travelers nor armadillo wrestlers."

Letters describe what life was like for a twenty-something in 18th century London


From The Smithsonian: "When Ben Browne was 27, he traded his small English town for the bustling streets of London to work as a law clerk. There, he led the typical life of a 20-something in a big city: His social life flourished, he fell in love and he was constantly stressed about money. The year was 1719. Some 65 letters that Browne sent to his father during this period are the focus of a new display at the historic Browne family home in Cumbria, England. In his letters, Browne described his new job training as a clerk to a lawyer, and complained about working long hours, copying legal documents from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In one letter, he expressed frustration with his father’s decision to apprentice him to his employer for five years, rather than a shorter training period. Browne wrote that he needed money to pay rent—and to purchase stockings, breeches, wigs and other items he deemed necessary for his life in London."

These sheepdogs protect the penguins on the Australian island of Warrnambool

Tips for owning a Maremma Sheepdog - Pooches At Play

From Warrnambool: "The Middle Island Project began in 2006 following the sharp decline in the size of the colony of Little Penguins on Middle Island (Warrnambool) primarily driven by fox predation. Swampy Marsh’s suggestion to use Maremma  dogs on Middle Island based on his success training them to guard his free-range chickens from predators was pursued. In a world-first, Maremma dogs were trained and placed on Middle Island to protect the penguins from foxes during the penguin breeding season, when numbers of penguins on Middle Island are highest. Together they protected the Little Penguins of Middle Island and saw the colony increase to an estimated 180 penguins during the 2016/2017 breeding season. To this day, while the Maremma dog have been on Middle Island, there has been no evidence of fox attacks."

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Genealogists have tracked more than 30,000 descendants of Pocahontas

Pocahontas | Biography, Cultural Legacy, & Facts | Britannica

From Genealogical: "In April 1614, Pocahontas was married to the English gentleman John Rolfe, who had succeeded Thomas Dale as the secretary of the Virginia Colony. Pocahontas bore Rolfe a son, Thomas, in late 1614 or early 1615. That year the three of them sailed for England. Pocahontas enjoyed a period of celebrity while abroad before the John Rolfe family embarked on the return voyage in 1617. Pocahontas died suddenly at Gravesend, a Thames River port located downstream from London. Genealogist Stuart Brown’s attention to detail when it comes to Pocahontas' life is most evident in his grand opus, Pocahontas’ Descendants, a multi-volume genealogy spanning 20 years. The version published in 1995 appends two volumes of corrections and additions, resulting in a book of over 700 pages, with indexes containing over 30,000 names."

These wasps have transformed wild viruses into tiny biological weapons

From Knowable: "If you puncture the ovary of a wasp called Microplitis demolitor, viruses squirt out in vast quantities, shimmering like iridescent blue toothpaste. M. demolitor  is a parasite that lays its eggs in caterpillars, and the particles in its ovaries are “domesticated” viruses that have been tuned to persist harmlessly in wasps and serve their purposes. The virus particles are injected into the caterpillar through the wasp’s stinger, along with the wasp’s own eggs. The viruses then dump their contents into the caterpillar’s cells, delivering genes that are unlike those in a normal virus. Those genes suppress the caterpillar’s immune system and control its development, turning it into a harmless nursery for the wasp’s young. For reasons that scientists don’t fully understand, wasps have repeatedly tamed wild viruses and turned them into biological weapons."

Swingline didn't make a red stapler until one appeared in the cult movie Office Space

From Now I Know: "In the movie Office Space, a mumbling wallflower named Milton Waddams is key to the plot, and so is his red Swingline stapler. Toward the beginning of the movie, Milton is on the phone, muttering about the time the company switched from Swingline staplers to Boston-brand ones. Nowadays, it’s one of the bestsellers in Amazon’s “desk staplers” category, despite the fact that it runs about twice the price of other staplers. As of this writing, the most popular version of the red Swingline has more than 1,700 reviews on Amazon and averages 4.7 stars, and is the #1 best seller in the “Electric & Battery Office Staplers” category. But Swingline didn't make a red stapler when the movie came out – the producers spray-painted a black one. After the movie became popular, Swingline started selling its first red stapler in 2002."

After a German football team failed to score in five straight games, their fans tried to help

Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as "serendipity engines," such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Jodi Ettenberg's Curious About Everything, Dan Lewis's Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton's The Browser, Clive Thompson's Linkfest, Noah Brier and Colin Nagy's Why Is This Interesting, Maria Popova's The Marginalian, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something interesting that you think should be included here, please feel free to email me at mathew @ mathewingram dot com