I'm always interested in those stories that offer a glimpse of the day after tomorrow - which is why this headline caught my eye:
'We're Out of Options': Doctors Battle Drug-Resistant Typhoid Outbreak
Typhoid's one of those things we assume that man has conquered. And for a while it looked that way:
Only four isolated cases of extensively drug-resistant, or XDR, typhoid had previously been reported worldwide, according to Dr. Elizabeth Klemm, an infectious disease geneticist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in England.
But in less than a year and a half at least 850 "XDR" cases have been reported in Pakistan - and no one knows why:
In Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, antibiotic resistance is increasing by 30 percent each year, according to the W.H.O.; at that rate, all typhoid cases in the city will be resistant to multiple drugs by 2020.
Interesting. So we now have the world's first mass drug-resistant strains of typhoid. Could you contain that to Karachi, or even Sindh? Well...
At least one travel-related case has been detected in the United Kingdom.
Gosh, that was quick. But, in the age of mass migration, when thousands and thousands of people fly between Pakistan and Britain every week, quarantine is an obsolescent concept. In America Alone (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore), I have a chapter on the topic:
In a globalized economy, the anti-glob mob and the eco-warriors want us to worry about rapacious First World capitalism imposing its ways on bucolic, pastoral, primitive Third World backwaters. But globalization cuts both ways, and the peculiarities of the backwaters can leap instantly to the metropolis - just because someone got on a plane. The African mosquito who hitched a ride on a US-bound flight and all by himself introduced West Nile virus to North America is merely the high-altitude heir to those fleabitten rats on the Italian ships homebound from the Orient who brought the Black Death to Europe in the 1340s. That too was a globalization quid pro quo: the Continent's success in opening up trade with the East also opened it up to disease from the East.
The West Nile is not the Black Death. But, if we're returning to the pre-antibiotic era, something will be.
~Speaking of mass migration ...well, better not to. In a weekend interview with The Guardian, the bestselling American novelist Lionel Shriver notes that it's cost her a publisher:
I just lost my Swedish publisher, who has published every book since We Need To Talk About Kevin. There is a sub-theme in The Mandibles about immigration, and anything that is negative at all about immigration is toxic in Sweden. It's very disappointing... It's the subject of the century, and it needs to be talked about with robustness and immediacy, and it is underexplored in literature.
Not least in Sweden. When I was in Denmark, Finland and especially Norway, I noticed the way experts used phrases like "the Swedish situation" as a euphemism for high levels of immigrant crime, social tensions, sexual assault, etc. "We want to avert a Swedish situation," a politician in Kempele (Finland) said to me. "The Swedish situation is not a good prospect for us," a nice lady social worker in Stavangar (Norway) told me a month later. It's a universally understood shorthand ...but not one a Swedish novelist could prudently address.
Miss Shriver observes:
I'm not a natural activist, and I'm reluctant to embrace this role, but I am also dismayed by how few writers with any serious reputation are willing to put themselves on the line for free speech. I'm very unhappy that writers and editors are exercising self-censorship, especially with regard to group membership, to [writing about groups to which they do not themselves belong such as] gender, race, ethnicity, disability. If we follow this through, it will be the end of story and someone has to push back against that.
She's right. Three decades ago, at the time of the Salman Rushdie fatwa, writers and publishers were militantly assertive of the right to free speech. Ten years ago, when I ran into my own difficulties with the Canadian Islamic Congress, it was all a lot more tentative and equivocal. Today, most authors maintain a conscious silence, and publishers are ever more openly (at least in book negotiations) hostile to the concept.
Lionel spoke about this topic a year ago on The Mark Steyn Show. Click below to watch:
She also discussed The Mandibles, the novel that's just lost her that Swedish publisher,. You can watch that here.
~The difference between the Democrat base and the Republican base is that the former like their party and the latter increasingly despise it. From yesterday's "Meet the Press", here is a good example why:
CHUCK TODD: James Comey, a man of integrity?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: As far as I know. I don't know him very well.
~Longtime Los Angeles reader Dan Hollombe has so many interesting observations on our Songs of the Week, especially when I stray out of my Golden Age comfort zone into boomer pop, that we really ought to put him on the payroll. Apropos "What a Wonderful World" he writes:
Quick, hum the first four measures of "What A Wonderful World." Not sing...Hum!
No, you're not imagining things. It really is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Not that there's anything wrong with that, any more than there's anything wrong with "Ghost Riders In The Sky" being "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" or "My Ding-A-Ling" being "Little Brown Jug." It's just not a tune that one could say, falls under the category of "whole cloth."
Thematically, the British had previously cooked up at least a couple of other homegrown songs of this nature, "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" and "East West" which were as big in the states as they were in the UK.
'"What A Wonderful World" is a genuine standard, a late addition to the Great American Songbook, in the sense that zillions of singers take a crack at it - which is more than can be said of "Green Tambourine" or "Tighten Up" or the other hits of '68.'
Boy am I going to take you to task for that in a couple of paragraphs. I'll have to assume that it's been awhile since you've heard either of those. To refresh your memory, "Tighten Up" isn't even a song. It's a spoken word performance. Just some guy calling out dance instructions while the band plays the same two chords from beginning to end rather monotonously.
"Green Tambourine" on the other hand, is both a musical and sonic masterpiece. Actually there have been quite a few covers of it over the years (most notably by The Status Quo), but much like every cover of "Light My Fire," they all stink when compared to the original. I know that it commits a couple of "sins" you find unforgivable (rhyming both "thing" and "sing" with "tambourine"), but it is one of those gold standard records of the sunshine pop/psychedelic genre like "Along Comes Mary" and "Incense And Peppermint".
Finally: "...or the other hits of '68." I'll just remind you of a couple of other #1 hits of '68: "Hey Jude" and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." Without even doing any research I believe I can confidently say that both of them have been covered a helluva lot more than "What A Wonderful World."
Oh, dear. Please never speak of "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" again. I shared a few BBC green rooms with Jonathan King over the years, and, even before his paedo conviction (his latest trial starts in a few weeks' time), I found him an oddly repellent person. "Green Tambourine", on the other hand, I quite like, at least in Sir Julian's and Mrs Miller's renditions. (And obviously we disagree on the best versions of "Light My Fire": Go, Dame Shirl!)
I understand why it might feel as if there are more cover versions of "Hey, Jude" and "Heard It Through the Grapevine" than "Wonderful World", but I'm not sure that's actually true. Like you I haven't done any research, but, if you do a song search over at Amazon.com, there are 16 pages for "Grapevine", 37 pages for "Hey, Jude", and 107 pages for "What a Wonderful World". Still, I haven't counted up all the individual versions, so I'll leave that until I have a spare day or three.
PS Putting the definite article in front of Status Quo may be a hanging offense. My old "Loose Ends"confrère Neil Shand (who died a couple of days ago) used to write Ned Sherrin's opening monologue for the show, and one week gave him a Status Quo joke. Ned had never heard of Status Quo, so Neil explained who they were and twenty minutes later Ned brilliantly delivered the gag and us young 'uns all fell around, even though the teller of the joke had no idea why it was funny. Yet even Ned, in his invincible ignorance, never called them "The Status Quo". Save the definite article for the Count Basie Orchestra.
~We had a busy weekend at SteynOnline. Aside from the above-mentioned Song of the Week, there were my thoughts on Syria and Germany, Germany and Hungary, and Paul Ryan and inertia; my review of the new film Chappaquiddick; and the conclusion of our very latest nightly radio serial for Mark Steyn Club members, Robert Louis Stevenson's classic The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Click to hear the penultimate episode here and the final episode here. If you were busy over the weekend, we hope you'll check out one or two or even all of the above. And, if you've yet to hear my adaptation of Jekyll & Hyde, you can always go all the way back to Part One for a binge-listen.
This evening I'll be keeping my Monday date on "Tucker Carlson Tonight", live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we'll have a brand new SteynPost for you.
SteynPosts is made with the support of members of The Mark Steyn Club, for which we're very grateful. You can find more details about the Steyn Club here. Or, if you're personally antipathetic to me but the lady next door's more partial, why not sign her up for a Gift Membership, or treat her to a SteynOnline gift certificate?