The Plague: One of Five Infamous Epidemics We Hope We Never See

rats.jpg"¢ The greatest plague of the fourteenth century was known as the Great Mortality. Spread by rats and fleas, it killed over 20 million people in Europe alone in just a few years. Medieval people thought the world was coming to an end. (Rat picture courtesy of ChemBark.)

"¢ We call plague "bubonic" because of one of its chief symptoms — buboes in the armpits and groin (for the brave and strong-stomached, here's a picture). Unlike syphilis, which can last for decades, plague could kill you in a couple hours.

"¢ During the late 13th century, armies in present-day Ukraine heaved corpses infected with plague into enemy camps — an early instance of biologic warfare.

"¢ As terrible as epidemics are, they sometimes have a bright side. Historian Barbara Tuchman says that plague shook up the rigid social order of the Middle Ages, and paved the way for individual rights.

"¢ You'd think folks would be happy to see plague disappear, but someone had the great idea to turn it into a weapon. Soviet scientists produced tons of plague spores during the Cold War. These were never used, but many of the scientists involved may now be working in secret Russian labs (cue evil laughter).

The Plague is perhaps the most famous novel by French philosopher Albert Camus. It focuses on an Algerian city quarantined during a severe bubonic outbreak, while also metaphorically tackling the "plague" of Fascism and the struggle of individuals against absurd odds.

(CDC Plague Map)

"¢ Today, about a dozen cases of plague occur in the U.S. every year, mainly in desert Southwest, where the bacillus hangs out in rats and other rodents. That's why some residents like to call their region (cue brass band) "the land of the fleas and the home of the plague."

Didn't catch Syphilis yet? Read about yesterday's Infamous Epidemic.

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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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