AUGUST   2020


Saturday, March 02, 2019


I find it odd that such a minor player as the Methodist minister, the Reverend Henry Benjamin Turk is always the villein of the Cardiff Giant story. His pompous ignorance is what motivates and justifies the heroic sins of George Hull. But in Christian theology, ignorance is not one of the seven deadly sins. Greed, yes, lies, yes, lust and envy, surely, gluttony, and wrath: these are all the forgiven the sins of George Hull.  Meanwhile, a fervent evangelical blind faith in a dyslexic translation of  Old English, via Latin and Hebrew, was the Reverend Turk's chosen path to divinity And for obtusely following that path ad nauseam, the Reverend generally gets all the blame. Now, why do you suppose that is?
George Hull came close to being a giant himself. At six feet three inches tall, he towered half a foot above the average man of his day, and intimidated them with his broad muscular shoulders, and round face behind a slick black mustache and beneath his black, slicked back hair. But other than his size and villainous appearance, what most people remembered were George's small sharp intelligent blue eyes always darting about. His chief delight, recalled the post master in the Wisconsin Dells town of Baraboo, was expounding on the advantages of infidelity and betting on everything from pool games to local elections. In August of 1867 the tobacco warehouse George had opened four months earlier, and which he had insured to the amount of $12,000, burned to the ground, under circumstances which the insurance company thought highly suspicious. Despite George's declarations of innocence and threats of legal action, he accepted a $1,000 settlement and moved on.
According to George, he moved on to the tiny Iowa hamlet of Ackley -   because his brother-in-law who lived there had taken a consignment of 10,000 cigars, and was having trouble selling them. This could not have been surprising since Ackley had barely 300 residents. Even if every man woman and child smoked a dozen cheap cigars a day, it is difficult to envision how they could ever smoke 10,000 cigars before hacking up a lung and dropping dead.
George Hull had gotten into the business through his uncle, the front half of the Hull and Grummand Company, which had recently opened a cigar factory at Water and Henry streets in Bimginham, New York, on the Pennsylvania border.  The young George needed work after a short stint in jail for selling marked cards, and the cut throat cigar business seemed a natural for him.
The 8,000 citizens of Bimingham had strict anti-union laws, encouraging  local sweat shops to employ unskilled workers at starvation wages - 40 cents for a day spent rolling stale tobacco scraps and assorted agricultural detritus, dust and rodent droppings into 100 cigars that sold from three to fives cents each. It inspired a business model long on salesmanship, and short on morality.
But it was while residing with his sister and brother-in-law that George Hull briefly crossed paths with the fulcrum of his giant morality tale. According to George, “At that time a Methodist revivalist was in Ackley, and prayed all over the settlement....One night he was at my sister’s house, and after supper we had a long discussion and a hot one.” Specifically, according to George, the hot discussion centered around a quote from the King James Biblical book of Genesis, chapter six, verse four,“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”.
Besides sounding like a “Christianized” version of ancient Greek theology, the King James edition of the bible which the Reverend Turk quoted, was an English translation of a compilation written in Latin, of stories originally composed in Aramaic and Greek And as any skilled translator will tell you, and any reader of a Google translation will confirm, conveying the meaning from one language to another is as much social art as lexicography. Translating a translation only increases the inevitable misunderstandings. And in this particular text, the scholars compromised on the word “giants”, when a more precise word was “Nephilim”. But that word requires an uncomfortable explanation.
The mysterious Nephilim are mentioned only twice in the bible, this once in Genesis, and once in Numbers, chapter 13, verses 32 and 33 . “And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.'” But they also appear in the Book of Enoch, which is not part of the conical bible, but a conservative Judaic variation. The Nephilim were the products of male angles mating with human woman. This was far too close to the pagan religions Yawah was so critical of.  Later Christian scholars chose to mention them only twice, hoping to avoid the theological torture required to explain them, by using the word “giants” instead.  And it was on the foundation of this compromised pebble that the Reverend Turk built his temple of biblical literalism.
But to return to the theology of George Hull, “At midnight we went to bed, and I lay wide awake wondering why people would believe those remarkable stories in the Bible about giants, when suddenly I thought of making a stone giant and passing it off as a petrified man.” But, of course, there is nothing in George Hull's past which would have give any reason to believe that is what George thought. As one recent biographer put it, “ "Once Hull had an idea, he had no qualms about breaking partnerships, or laws, to get what he wanted.” And George Hull's obsession was not logic, or heaven, but money.
Five years earlier, Mark Twain had written his first humorous article for the Virginia City, Nevada “Territorial Enterprise”, which began, “A petrified man was found some time ago in the mountains south of Gravelly Ford. Every limb and feature of the stony mummy was perfect, not even excepting the left leg, which has evidently been a wooden one during the lifetime of the owner...”  In Twain's story the locals want to bury the defunct stone man, but cannot separate him from the rock which has engulfed him. So, “Everybody goes to see the stone man, as many as three hundred having visited the hardened creature during the past five or six weeks.”
Twain (above) later explained his inspiration. “One could scarcely pick up a paper without or two glorified discoveries of this kind....and I felt called upon to destroy this growing...petrifaction mania with a delicate, a very delicate satire.” Except the joke did not kill the idea of a petrified man. Twain was “stunned to see the creature I had begotten to pull down the wonder-business with, and bring derision upon it, calmly exalted to the grand chief place in the list of the genuine marvels our Nevada had produced.” Over the next year, Twain's joke was reprinted as fact in newspapers across America, and even England, where it was published in “The Lancet”, the premiere scientific medical journal of the day.
It seems unlikely that George Hull realized that Twain's story, if he ever read it, was intended as a joke. In the history we have of him, George Hull does not display a sense of humor about anything that does not entail some degree of humiliation for somebody other than George Hull.  In fact, a witness said George had considered “salting” an “Indian burial mound” outside of Barboo, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1867, before he ever met the Reverend Turk. 
 It did not even matter to Hull that there were no dead Indians in most of  the Wisconsin mounds. They were drumlins,  formed by moving rivers of ice more than 10,000 years earlier, proving again that the truth is more complex and fascinating than the theology of angels dancing on the head of a pin, or mating with human women.
I don't know if the native peoples got the idea for their burial mounds from the moraines, but I do know that George Hull did not get the idea for the Cardiff Giant from the maligned Reverend Turk. And we should stop blaming him for it
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Friday, March 01, 2019


I can't help wondering why so many politicians keep calling for a new approach to politics  Aren't the same politics we've been using for the last 10,000 years good enough?  Maybe the real problem lies not with the lying, two faced, double dealing, back-stabbing, opportunistic, insincere politicians we have, but with the idiots who keep voting for them: i.e. us.  Check my math, please: politicians lie, politicians get elected. Could there be a connection?  Let me give you a little example from ancient history, so nobody feels insulted.
James K. Polk (above) was America's eleventh President, serving from 1845 to 1849. He was, until Richard Nixon, our most secretive President. He did not even tell his own cabinet members what he was thinking. He was a Jackson Democrat,  and no matter what your history books tell you he did not campaign on the phrase "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight" – that came up later.  During his actual campaign for President, Polk was most famous for insisting he did not brand his slaves. And trust me, this smear was so good they still haven’t exactly figured out who was behind it.
The story was first published in the 21 August, 1844 edition of the Ithaca New York "Chronicle". It was a a Whig Party newspaper. And the story claimed to be a letter to the editor, quoting a three paragraph extract from an unpublished book, titled “Roorback’s Tour Through the Western and Southern States…” The extract claimed to detail Baron Von Roorback's conversations with a group of slave traders on the Duck River in Tennessee. “Forty of these unfortunate beings had been purchased, I was informed, by the Honorable J.K. Polk…; the mark of a branding iron, with the initials of his name on their shoulders, distinguishing them from the rest.”  Now, even in 1844 the idea of branding human beings, even those treated as slaves, was appalling to many people...even in places where the economy had been built on slavery.
Which was why the story was picked up by the "Albany Evening Journal", and other Whig newspapers, particularly in the 1844 “battleground states” of New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Many voters in those swing states were outraged that a man standing for President would do something so despicable as to brand human beings the same way you brand cattle. To Whig politicians the story from "Roorback’s Tour" was almost too good to be true.  And almost as quick as Republican bloggers caught Dan Rather, the Democratic press found out there was no such book and no such Baron. The details about Polk had been inserted into a real travel book, of a run in with some slave traders on Virginia’s New River. Polk’s farm was in Tennessee, so the inventor of the smear had shifted the scene to where it would do Democrats the most good. Besides, it was not common practice to brand slaves.   Like whipping scars, branding tended to reduce their value as property, since it indicated this slave had a tendency to escape. Slaves were certainly whipped and branded because in 1844, most Americans still believed black slaves were property and would have been equally offended if some government official tried to tell them how to treat their horses or how to slaughter their hogs.
Still, embarrassed at being caught repeating what was so obviously a fabrication, the Whigs pinned the whole thing on William Linn, a lawyer and a Democratic operative in Ithaca, New York.  But why would a Democrat smear his own candidate? Well, if I were a believer in conspiracy theories, I might say that this kind of allegation against Polk was actually a fairly safe charge to make. Polk did own slaves, but his Whig opponent in the election, Henry Clay, owned even more slaves than Polk did.  And it has been suggested by some historians that the “Roorback” story was a case of nineteenth century “wedge” politics. Abolitionism was still a minor issue in 1844, but abolitionists formed a solid voting block in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, those key battleground states. Convince enough abolitionists in those states that the Whigs were lying to them, and they just might choose the Democrat Polk over the Whig Clay as the lesser of two evils.  And the letter to the Ithaca Chronicle had been signed, “An Abolitionist”, thus adding insult to the injury.
Well, maybe....And maybe that theory implies a level of sophisticated conspiracy that did not exist in the simpler culture and times of 1844 – and certainly would not have existed in Athens in 415 B.C., when Alcibiades was accused of vandalizing statues of the god Hermes.
You see Hermes was the mythical inventor of fire, who "...protects and takes care of all travelers, miscreants, harlots, old cronies and thieves and injured athletes".  Each Greek home had an anatomically correct statue of Hermes standing on its front lawn, and it was common practice for visitors to pause at the stature and stroke his stone phallus for good luck before knocking on the front door. And when the owner left the house for the day or on  a business trip, they would also give the statue a tug for good luck.  And that was why it was so shocking that on the morning that Athens was launching a massive naval assault on Sicily, the city awoke to discover that many home statues of Hermes had their phallus' knocked off during the night.  
It sounds to my modern ears as if the neighborhood kids had been drinking sour wine on the street corner and started smashing phalluses as a prank. But to the devout in Athens (and there were many who believed in the gods) it was also sacrilege. And rumors began almost immediately that the person responsible was the golden boy politician who was heading the expedition, and known for his past sacrilegious opinions, Alcibiades (above). Of course Alcibiades had his own theory. He thought it had been the work of his chief political opponent and co-commander of the Sicilian expedition, Nicias.  Two thousand five hundred years later, it is impossible to know who the phallus hackers really were and why they were whacking off in the dark.. But whether they planned it all or just took advantage of the situation, the one thing we know for certain is, that the people arguing both sides of the scandal were politicians.     
The point is, politicians have been gaming voters since voting was invented. And voters have been playing along, else the game would not have remained so popular for so long. Like claiming to build a wall to nowhere.  And that is why when a politician tells me he is selling something new, especially when it is something I want to believe, my first reaction should be,  “Pull the other one.,”  When the American political system works  (which it has not been doing for a generation)  it is been based upon pragmatism. And the election of 1844 was not pragmatic, either.  Polk won 49.5% of the popular vote to Clay’s 48.1 %, and part of that razor thin margin was victories in New York and Pennsylvania - by less than 6,000 votes in both states.  Those two states gave Polk 62 Electoral Votes, out of his sixty-five vote margin of victory (170 to 105). It seems that if the Roorback story was a double blind trick, it damn well worked.
Oh,... and remember the phrase “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!”?  Well, it was actually invented by Ohio Senator William “Earthquake” Allen, known for his thundering speeches, and he used it well after the 1844 election. The number was  the Southern border (54 degrees & 40 minutes of latitude) claimed by Russia when they owned Alaska.  Radical Democrats were demanding the the U.S. insist on that line for our northern border with Canada, and Polk seemed to back that position.  However,  simple glance at a map will confirm that the modern border between America and Canada,  agreed upon by President Polk, was (and is) the 49th parallel. So much for the “…Or fight!” part of the slogan.  Have you noticed how often politicians don’t actually mean what they seem to say? Like they are going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it? You might say they make a career out of it.  And always have.  And we voters keep buying the horse manure they keep dropping all over the place. 
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Thursday, February 28, 2019


"In recent years, I have come to believe that “conservatism”....has become an arrogant defender of ideological excess and entrenched interests and privileges...(of) Wall Street, Big Energy, multinational corporations, the Military-Industrial Complex, the Religious Right, the Market Extremist think-tanks, and the Rush Limbaugh Axis...."
Kevin Phillips “Why I am No Longer A Conservative” 7 October, 2002
In the early summer of 1988 Lee Atwater (above, right) asked twenty-eight year Republican “operative” Roger Stone (above, center) to come to his Washington, D.C. Office. According to Stone – who is far from an unimpeachable source - Atwater locked the door of his corner office and then popped in a video tape. Atwater said, “`I got a couple boys going to put a couple million dollars up for this independent.'' He meant the ad had been funded by a political group with no ties to the Bush campaign. But the fact that Atwater, who was running the Bush campaign, had an advanced copy of the 30 second spot belied any claim the two groups were working independent of each other.
At 18 years of age Roger Jason Stone (above, right) had cut his dirty tricks teeth on Nixon's 1968 campaign. Before the New Hampshire primary Stone made a donation to one of Nixon's Republican competitors in the name of “The Young Socialist Alliance”, than passed the receipt for that payment to the conservative Manchester Union-Leader newspaper, which eagerly smeared the unwitting target. 
Stone became such a Nixon loyalist, he had “Tricky Dick's” face tattooed across his back. Stone insisted he did nothing illegal during the Watergate scandal, but when it later became public he was working for Senator Bob Dole, Dole felt forced to fire him. Seeking a legitimate income source Stone formed a political “consulting” firm with old friends Charlie Black and Paul Manafort and later, Lee Atwater.
Stone  (Above left) was recruited for the 1980 Reagan campaign, learning from, among others, the infamous Roy Cohn (above, right) , who had been the brains behind Republican Senator Joe McCarthy.  As an operative, Stone admitted delivering a cash filled suitcase to a lawyer representing the Liberal Party of New York. In the 4 November general election Reagan beat Democrat Jimmy Carter in New York by just 165,000 votes. Liberal Party candidate John Anderson siphoned almost half a million votes, ensuring Reagan won New York's 41 electoral votes. Not that Reagan needed them that year. But in any case, Lee Atwater knew fully well who he had invited to view “his” commercial.
What came to be called the “Furlough” ad began with pictures of George Bush and Micheal Dukakis side by side. The narrator began, “Bush and Dukakis on crime.” Now only Bush's face was center screen. “Bush supports the death penalty for first degree murderers,” said the narrator.
Now only Dukakis' image appeared. “Dukakis not only opposes the death penalty, he allowed first degree murders to have weekend passes from prison.”
Now the grainy booking photo of William Horton taken from the foot of his bed in the hospital ward, appeared. Horton seemed to be gazing down at the viewer, his tall “Afro” hair defiant, his eyes clouded with pain killers. Intoned the narrator, “One was Willie Horton, who murdered a boy in a robbery, stabbing him 19 times.” 
A photo of Horton being moved in police custody was then shown. “Despite a life sentence, Horton received 10 weekend passes from prison.” 
Then, as each additional offense were named, the key words appeared on the screen. “ Horton fled”, said the voice.” KIDNAPPED a young couple, STABBING the man and repeatedly RAPPING his girl friend.” 
Then Dukakis' face appears again, under first the words (also spoken by the narrator) “Weekend prison passes” and then the words, “Dukakis on crime.”
Nothing stated in the ad was untrue. But according to Stone above), his reaction was immediate. “That's a huge mistake”, he claims to have told Atwater, “You and George Bush will wear that to your grave. It's a racist ad. You're already wining this issue. It's working for you. You're stepping over a line. You're going to regret it.'' 
 According to Stone, Lee Atwater responded at the time, ``Y'all a pussy.' But for every Republican who seems determined to argue into perpetuity that the ad is not racist, the first reaction of Roger Stone stands unchallenged – if he said it - “It's a racist ad.”
Whatever the truthfulness of Stone's version of events, something caused Atwater and or Ailes to contact the National Conservative Political Action Committee, whose name was on the ad. NCPAC was the 2 year old creation of Floyd Gregory Brown, out of Oregon. He had raised enough money through direct mail and telephone marketing to bring himself to the attention of conservative billionaires like Charles and David Koch, Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel. These wealthy extreme conservative contributors had pumped $9 million into NCPAC, and saw that it hired its most important employee, Larry McCarthy. The “Furlough” ad was physically his creation.
Lawrence C. McCarthy was Brooklyn born. After graduating from Georgetown University in 1974, he worked for several Republican congressmen, on their campaigns and as a press officer. Then in 1981 he became a senior executive for Roger Ailes. Late in 1987, however, Larry abruptly shifted to working for NCPAC. The separation from the Bush Campaign and Roger Ailes was thus no more than one degree and just a few weeks in time.
Larry McCarthy now re-edited “Furlough”. In the new version the in-hospital booking photo of William Horton was completely absent. It was replaced by a longer hold on the middle distant image of Horton in police custody. It was this new “Furlough” which was presented for “clearance” to the advertising directors of the various television stations and cable systems. 
Once they had cleared that version for broadcast, McCarthy then substituted the original “Furlough”, containing “Willie's” ominous image.
Any skepticism about the overt racist message of “Furlough”, or the more subtle version of the coming “Revolving Door” ad, should be buried six feet deep along with the later obfuscation, denials and justifications by Lee Atwater (above),  Roger Ailes and all future generations of Republican apologists. The only reason for a “Cleared” copy and a “Broadcast” copy of “Furlough” was that, in 1988, both conservatives and liberals damn well knew the party was selling racism.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2019


I keep looking at her face, and honestly, I just don't see whatever it was that captured his heart. They had the ultimate Age of Enlightenment cute-meet, but where he was a 38 year old endlessly curious bon vivant sociable genius, a doctor, a scientist and a poet, she had few friends and her only interest was religion. Her father, Anthony Kingscote, must have thought that at 27 his eldest daughter had long ago missed her chance to find a husband. And Catherine's plain face and down turned mouth (above)  hints that she had come to same conclusion.
And then on a fair September afternoon, his balloon landed in a meadow near her home, and two years later she married one of the greatest men – ever . He was to be the man responsible for saving hundreds of millions of lives by applying the scientific method to an obvious problem. Clearly Catherine must have had a secret appeal. And Edward Jenner was smart enough to recognize it. Well, they also say opposites attract.
Edward Jenner had a few advantages. He was born wealthy, but not so rich he didn't have to work for a living, just rich enough he never cared more about money than about people. He never patented his great discovery, because he didn't want to add his profit to the cost of saving lives. And maybe that was Catherine's influence. And maybe it was the humanity he'd always had. And maybe it was because when he was still a child, his own father had inoculated him against small pox.
The two most deadly diseases in the 18th century were the Great Pox (syphilis) and the Small Pox (Variola – Latin for spotted). Reading the genetic code of Variola hints it evolved within the last 50,000 years from a virus that infected rats and mice, and then moved on to horses and cows and then finally people. It disfigured almost all of its human victims, leaving their features scared and pockmarked, even blinding some survivors. It killed half a million people every year – and 80% of the children who were afflicted. The chink in Variola's protein armor was that it had evolved into two strains, one which preferred temperatures of around 99 degrees Fahrenheit before it stated dividing, and the second which preferred something closer to 103 degrees.
They called the lesser of these two evils the cow pox, and sometimes the udder pox, because that was where the blisters often showed up on infected milk cows. And it was the young women whose job it was to milk the cows who were the only humans who usually contracted the cow pox. They would suffer a fever, and feel weak and listless for a day or two, and, in sever cases have ulcers break out on their hands and arms. But recovery was usually rapid and complete, and there was an old wife's tale that having once contracted cow pox, the women would then never suffer the greater evil of smallpox.  It was mucus from a cow pox ulcer which Richard's father had applied to his son's open flesh, in the belief it would somehow protect him from smallpox.
The working theory behind this idea was first enunciated by the second century B.C. Greek doctor, Hippocrates. Its most succinct version was “Like cures like.” Bitten by a rapid dog? Drink a tea made from the hair of the dog that bit you, or pack the fur into a poultice pressed against the wound. The fifteenth century C.E. Englishman, Samuel Pepys, was advised to follow this theory by drinking wine to cure a hangover. “I thought (it) strange,” he wrote in his diary, “but I think find it true.” And in 1765 London Doctor John Fewster published a paper entitled “Cow pox and its ability to prevent smallpox.” But he was just repeating the old wife's tale, and offered no proof of his own. So the idea was out there. It only waited for someone smart enough to put the obvious to a scientific test.
In early May of 1796, Sarah Nelms a regular patient of Edwards, and “a dairymaid at a farmer's near this place”, came in with several lesions on her hand and arm. She admitted cutting her finger on a thorn a few weeks previous, just before milking Blossom, her master's cow. Upon examining both Sarah and Blossom Edward diagnosed them both as suffering from the cow pox. And he now approached his gardener, Mr. Phipps, offering to inoculate ( from the Latin inoculare, meaning “to graft") his 8 year old son James, against small pox. The gardener agreed, and on 14 May 1796 Edward cut into the healthy boy's arm, and then inserted into the cut some pus taken directly from a sore on Sarah Nelm's arm.
Within a few days James suffered a slight fever. Nine days later he had a chill and lost his appetite, but he quickly recovered. Then, 48 days after the first inoculation, in July, Edward made new slices on both of James' arms, and inserted scrapings taken directly from the pustules of a smallpox victim. And this time what should have killed the boy did not even give the child a fever.  Nor did he infect his two older brothers, who shared his bed. Over the next 20 years James Phipps would have pus from a small pox victims inserted under his skin twenty separate times. And not once did he ever contract the disease. He married and had two children. And when Edward Jenner died, James was a mourner at his funeral. The original boy who lived did not pass away until 1853, at the age of 65.
Edward Jenner coined the word vaccine for his discovery, from the Latin 'vacca' for cow, as a tribute to poor Blossom, whose horns and hide ended up hanging on the wall of London's St George's medical school library. And that was the whole story, but, of course it wasn't, because it wasn't that simple, because nothing is that simple - certainly not the immune response system developed on this planet over the last four billion years, or the stupidity of human beings.
Edward duplicated his procedure with nine more patients, including his own 11 year old son, and then wrote it all up for the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. And those geniuses rejected it. They refused to publish it because they thought his idea was too revolutionary, and still lacked proof. So Edward, convinced he was on the right track, redoubled his efforts. When he had 23 cases and the Society still refused to publicize his work, Edward self published, in a 1798 pamphlet entitled “An Inquiry Into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ, Or Cow-Pox”
By 1800, Edward Jenner's work had been translated and published world-wide. And a few problems were revealed. There was a small percentage of patients who had an allergic reaction at the vaccination sites, and eventually it would be decided not to inoculate very young children, as their immune systems were not yet strong enough to resist the cow pox. And without a fuller understanding of how the human immune system functioned, it was still impossible to know “to a medical certainty” (to use legal jargon) how the vaccine would affect specific groups of patients. Still, the over all reaction was so positive that Edward was surprised by the reaction of the people he called the “anti-vaks”.
Opposition became centered on the Medical Observer, a supplemental publication by the daily newspaper, The Guardian. After 1807, and under editor Lewis Doxat, it condemned Jenner's introduction of a “bestial humour into the human frame”, and in 1808 its readers were assured they should presume “When the mischievous consequences of his vaccinating project shall have descended to posterity...Jenner shall be despised.” Edward was even accused of spreading Small pox, for various evil reasons. The argument presented from the pulpit was that disease was the way God punished sin, and any interference by vaccination was “diabolical”. Under this barrage the percentage of vaccinated children and adults in England still climbed up to around 76%. But without 100% protection Variola found enough victims and survived. In January of 1902 there was yet another outbreak in England that killed more than 2,000 people.  But after that disaster, the doubters were finally silenced, at least in England, and vaccinations were required for all children.
About 500 million human beings world wide died of Smallpox after Edward Jenner introduced his vaccine. But the last victim on earth was Rahima Banu, a 2 year old girl in Bangladesh, in 1975. At 18 she married a farmer named Begum, and they gave birth to four children (her again, below). And each of her children is living proof that while religion may save souls, science saves lives.  Science, not snake oil.
The scientists working for the World Health Organization issued a report on 9 December, 1979, which announced, “...the world and its people have won freedom from Smallpox.” Variola was extinct, wiped out to the last living cell, by the dedication of scientists and those working under their guidance. It was, as Jenner himself wrote after the first successful eradication on Caribbean islands, “I don’t imagine the annals of history furnish an example of philanthropy so noble, so extensive as this.” It is hard to believe there are still idiots today who question the value of vaccinations.   
His dear Catherine died of tuberculosis in 1815, and Edward followed her in January of 1823. And for his life – and her's – we all owe a great debt. He was like the bird in his poem “Address to a Robin”: “And when rude winter comes and shows, His icicles and shivering snows, Hop o'er my cheering hearth and be, One of my peaceful family: Then Soothe me with thy plaintive song, Thou sweetest of the feather'd throng!”
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