Monday 25 January 2016

Rabbi Burns

Tonight ye maun celebrate Burrrrns Night in some fashion.  Even if it's only a tot of Scotch whisky.  In Великий Новгород Novgorod-the-Great and {Львів Львов Lwów Lemberg Lviv} it may be difficult to locate a safe source of haggis; kielbasa колбаса won't do - no oats Avena sativa. But I'm sure you can get a bottle of Scotch, even if it's called Sochi Genuine Old Kilt. Burn's Night celebrates the Bard's Birth on 25th Jan 1759.  He was dead before the century was out at 37 of rheumatic fever aka Staphylococcus (tsk tsk me! see correction in comments) Streptococcus infection, which would have been trivial to treat if he'd been born 200 years later. I have facetiously called him Rabbi Burns in the title because he knew a lot . . . of women: he fathered at least 10 children on 4 different women in ten years of active bonking. His picture [appropriately on the Left] is here superimposed with one of his most famous lyrics A Man’s a Man for A’ That. Which you may hear being sung in fine harmony.  Unless you're born Anglophone, you'll probably need the words to follow the Scots dialect.  The jury is out on whether Lallans / Scots is a language in its own right. yet you can still enjoy Tintin in Scots. Burns was just reaching adulthood in 1776 when the American colonies declared for local and democratic so the Rights of Man were in the air and Burns was able to give these sentiments voice. I've had his Parcel o' Rogues on The Blob before: a scathing indictment of the corruption of money and politics.  We should be awake to that: in Ireland, we are due a general election before St Patrick's Day this year.

There's loads more.  Burns penned more than 500 songs and poems and they weren't all political and social rantin':


  1. Rheumatic fever is related to streptococcus infection, not staph! I think success in treating it is more related to changes in the pathogen and health in general rather than antibiotics etc.

    1. O gawd! My bad, you're quite correct about the name and I take your point about the rising tide of general health. But my father fluttered at the edge of death with pneumonia aged 11 in 1928 and at least two of my children jumped over pneumonia without a bother at a similar age 70-80 years later. "Pneumonia" made me feel weak at the knees, I can tell you. Neither parents nor doctors in the latter cases felt able to trust the rising tide and dosed the kids with antibiotics.

  2. Strep infections such as pneumonia are still worrying and usually have been very sensitive to The good old cell wall destroyer penicillin, though resistant strains are emerging. Rheumatic fever (and glomerulonephritis) are a different kettle of fish as they are sort of immune reactions and have really declined since I was a boy at medical college in 1970. "They" say that penicillin may not have an effect as by the time you know you are ill with an infection the immunological die is cast.