Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Most ‘cold sores’ are caused by HSV-1m while genital herpes is usually caused by HSV-2. In recent years, it has been reported that as many as one in five American adults is affected by the genital herpes virus. However, most individuals are asymptomatic or only manifest minimal signs or symptoms from either type of herpes infections.
When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur. Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years.
Until recently, serological tests for antibodies to HSV were rarely useful to diagnosis and not routinely used in clinical practice, because the older blood test could not differentiate between antibodies generated in response to HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. However, the new Immuno dot glycoprotein G-specific (IgG) HSV test is more that 98% specific at discriminating HSV-1 from HSV-2. These newer tests detect IgG antibodies directed against the cell wall protein specific for HSV-1 or HSV-2. However, like all tests, the type-specific tests are not perfect. It takes about three to six weeks for individuals to develop detectable antibodies for herpes simplex. Virtually everyone will have detectable antibodies by 16 weeks.
The American outlaw and bank robber Jesse James (the subject of today’s entry in The Intellectual Devotional, Biographies Edition) has been the subject of dozens of pop culture artifacts: novels and comic books and songs and TV shows. He is also the subject of at least 25 movies. The 1939 “Jesse James” isn’t necessarily the best, it does occupy a spot in movie history, albeit a rather bizarre one.
Toward the end of the film, Jesse (Tyrone Power) and his brother Frank (Henry Fonda) are on the run on a pair of horses. They get to a cliff over a lake, with marshals closing in behind them. Nowhere to go but down into the water, horses and all.
How did director Henry King make it look like he actually threw the horses over the cliff? By actually throwing the horses off the cliff. Were the animals harmed in the making of the picture? Well, one of them died. This wouldn’t do.
The American Humane Association immediately began monitoring the use of animals in film productions, and, since 1980, The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have required that every move made by their members get AHA approval. If the AHA is happy with the product, the producers can add the trademarked “No Animals Were Harmed”® slogan to their credit sequence.
To see the first scene that the AHA was NOT happy with, skip to about 2:30 in the clip below. (Fair warning: nothing too gruesome, but those are real horses jumping off the cliff.)
“The life story of Immanuel Kant is hard to describe, for he had neither a life nor a story.” – The poet Heinrich Heine.
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant, author of the canonical work Critique of Pure Reason (1781), is considered one of the most influential thinkers in Western philosophy and modern times. However, the impressive leaps of intellectual fancy that he exhibits in his philosophical works seem to have drained all of the zest out of his real life. In a word, Kant didn’t really get out much. If anything, his life was remarkable for being so unremarkable.
Kant was largely silent about himself. He kept no journal; the details about his life are sparse and must be gleaned from what he accidentally let slip through. Most stories of Kant come only from people who knew him or observed him directly. Of the few daily activities Kant engaged in, his walks have been imbued with the most significance, if only because they were the only activity that people actually saw him engage in.
Kant seldom strayed more than a few miles from the town of his birth, Königsberg, and never left his hometown to see the world that he spent so much time trying to figure out. In fact, to call Kant a ‘creature of habit’ would be a gross understatement. It is said that the citizens of Königsberg set their clocks according to the position of the gray presence of Professor Kant on his daily walk down and back the same street every day. Legend has it that the only time he missed his daily walk was when he first discovered Rousseau’s book, Emile, and became so engrossed that he forgot his walk. The street he walked daily at 3:30 is still called the “Philosophengang” (The Philosopher’s Walk) in his memory.
The historic accounts regarding Kant’s daily walk are plentiful yet contradictory. Whether Kant had one, two or even more preferred routes is not clear. Furthermore one has to place two maps on top of each other, that of Königsberg and that of Kaliningrad, to find the locations today. Kant’s first major biographer, Thomas De Quincey, wrote that the brilliant recluse preferred to walk alone for a very particular reason: “he wished to breathe exclusively through his nostrils; which he could not do if he were obliged continually to open his mouth in conversation”, and by doing this he was better able to pursue his meditations.
“What’s up, Doc?” Elmer Fudd’s spear and magic helmet, of course! What’s Opera, Doc? the 1957 animated cartoon, features Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny through a 6:11 operatic parody of 19th century classical composer Richard Wagner’s operas, particularly The Ring Cycle and Tannhäuser. The cartoon reflects an image of opera that comes straight from Wagner–the overweight, stentorian soprano wearing horns and breastplates, shrieking rather than singing her part in a feast of noise, gongs and melodrama. Were Wagner’s operas really this over the top?
The short answer is YES. Wagner had an ego as big as his operas, and liked shaping his own public image. While he only wrote 13 operas (sorry, “music dramas”!) during his lifetime, Most of them are several hours long with massive orchestras, extremely loud combinations of instruments, epic plots, and difficult singing parts. A production of the entire Ring Cycle, which consists of four epic operas, runs approximately 14-16 hours long (depending on the performance)!
The story of The Ring Cycle comes, in a very general way, from the old Norse/Germanic legend of the Nibelungenlied (“The Song of the Dwarves”). Wagner wanted to invoke his beloved ancestral legends and put them to use to explore the relationship between love and earthly power, and themes of yearning and loss. He outfitted his mythical characters (who tend to be knights, nymphs, dwarfs and a hodgepodge of other warlike beings) in full armor, horned helmets (or wings) and with elaborate braided coiffures for his leading ladies.
Now, about the ‘fat ladies’ and the stentorian voice: Wagner made demands on his singers such as no one had ever made before and few have since. He increased the size of his orchestra to titanic proportions, and required his singers to be heard over them for longer periods than ever before; a typical Wagner opera will run well over four hours.
As if that weren’t enough, the size of a major opera hall today is perhaps three times anything Wagner ever planned for. It takes enormous strength and stamina to sing a Wagner opera, and the rare voices capable of it tend not to come on small frames. However, most Wagnerians assert that the girth of his leading ladies has been greatly exaggerated— they may have had some junk in the trunk, but they were no fatties.
“Why shouldn’t art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 –1919) was French painter originally associated with the Impressionist movement, along with his friends Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille. His early works were typically Impressionist snapshots of bucolic landscapes, full of sparkling color and light. However, by the mid-1880s, he had broken with the movement to apply a more disciplined, formal technique to portraits and figure paintings, particularly of women (e.g., Bathers, 1884-87).
Renoir is perhaps the best-loved of all the Impressionists, for his subjects—pretty children, flowers, beautiful scenes, above all lovely women. His paintings are accessible and are instantly appealing, and he communicated the joy he took in them with unfussy directness. Along with every other heterosexual man on the planet, Renoir worshipped the female form, and many of his works feature dewy nude subjects. In fact, he once famously quipped, “I never think I have finished a nude until I think I could pinch it”.
One of his sons was the celebrated film director Jean Renoir (1894-1979), who wrote a lively and touching biography, “Renoir, My Father” in 1962.
“I feel I have been accepted as a leader in the international sphere – the field in which they said I would never be accepted.” – Margaret Thatcher after her first meeting with President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, 1975.
“If you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman” – Margaret Thatcher, 1965.
Prime Minister of England for 11 years, six months and 24 days (1979-90), Margaret Thatcher holds the distinction of being both the first female head of state in Europe and the longest-serving head of government in Britain in the 20th century. Perhaps more impressively, she has inspired more admiration, disapproval, support and opposition than any other British politician in recent history.
Variously referred to as, ‘Atilla the Hen’, ‘The Blessed Margaret’, ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘The handbagger’ by the British public, Thatcher was not afraid to court controversy in the service of pushing her political agenda. She ushered in an era of painful reform, privatization, deregulation and tax cutting. At first inflation and unemployment rocketed, and many businesses were driven bankrupt by her tough economic policies. However,—”the lady’s not for turning”— and her resolve eventually jump-started the ailing British economy of the 1970s.
Thatcher is famous for her Herculean work ethic: she allegedly only slept four hours a night, mastered dense briefs in minute detail and was wholly intolerant of “woolly” thinking. In fact, her ambition was such that she took elocution lessons during her childhood, because, she said, “One’s voice is so important”.
Those elocution lessons certainly paid off: Margaret Thatcher’s speeches were released as a Three Disc box set in 2004, and proved to be a chart-topping hit. The Compilation, called “Margaret Thatcher: The Great Speeches,” includes many of her “serious” speeches and some “bonus material”, including the former premier’s appearance in a Yes Minister sketch and the mixing of her words to acid house music…
The Woodstock Festival spawned nearly a dozen classic performances: The Who’s 25-song set (that started at 4 a.m.), Joe Cocker getting a Little Help From his Friends, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jefferson Airplane and (a personal favorite of The Devoted Intellectual) The Band. Of course, the festival famously concluded with Jimi Hendrix’s mind-blowing Star Spangled Banner (which you can see here). Less well known is the opening act: Richie Havens. After some original songs and a few great Dylan and Beatles covers, he brought it home with “Freedom / Motherless Child.” Take a look: