from the world's big
A Tacography of Mexico
As in biology, diversity is a good indicator of culinary origin
Charles de Gaulle, exasperated by his countrymen, once asked of France: "How can you expect to govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?"  If culinary diversity is an indicator for political instability, then there can't be much hope for Italy, with over 350 different pasta shapes , or Mexico, with its innumerable varieties of taco.
The taco is the genius of simplicity applied to food preparation. It is a tortilla  folded or rolled around almost any type of food, which can then be eaten by hand. A staple of the Mexican diet for thousands of years before the Spanish Conquest in the 15th century, the taco has now conquered the rest of the world, beginning with the United States from the early 20th century onwards.
But no matter how all-American (and subsequently global) the taco has now become, its pedigree remains undisputedly Mexican, as demonstrated by the rich regional diversity of taco styles shown on this map .
"The gastronomic map of [Mexico] is so varied that only the most delicious tacos have made the grade, and only if they are deemed to be typical of a certain region or state", says the legend of this tacografia of Mexico. It lists taco specialities for all 31 of Mexico's states and its federal district .
Even this summary - rich, varied, spicy - is more than we can stomach; to provide just enough flavour, without killing your geographic taste buds, please find below an alphabetic list of each of Mexico's territories, plus one of its specialities.
As even this brief overview shows, tacos are extremely adaptable to what each region has to offer: filled with beef, pork or seafood, vegetables, eggs or cheese; garnished with all kinds of pepper, greens and salsa. Some of the regional favourites are depicted on the map - from the cows that will become beef, and the pigs that will turn into pork . Much, much more on the history (and the preparation) of tacos can be found in La Tacopedia, the book from which this cartographic overview (by way of index) has been taken.
Previous examples of culinary cartography posted on this blog include a discussion of Switzerland's Röstigraben (#257), France's curious pain au chocolat dichotomy (#585), and an overview of its different types of bread: fortunately, a mere 80 varieties, Mon Général (#94).
Strange Maps 604
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
 "Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays où il existe 246 variétés de fromage?" A rhetorical question of course, meant to illustrate the peculiar talent of the French to disagree among each other. As it happens, the disagreement extends to the tally of French cheeses itself: France is sometimes called 'The land of the 300 cheeses' - but also 'The land of a thousand cheeses', and of any in between. One charming but unverifiable theory holds that there is one distinct French cheese for each day of the year (giving a total of 365). About 40 cheeses are protected under the Apellations d'origine contrôlée (AOC) scheme. However, there does seem to be agreement on the eight main families of French cheese: fromages frais (fresh cheeses), fromages à pâte molle et croute fleurie (soft cheeses with natural rind), fromages à pâte molle et croute lavée (soft cheeses with washed rind), fromages à pâte pressée (pressed cheeses), fromages à pâte pressée et cuite (pressed and cooked cheeses), fromages de chêvre (goat's cheeses), fromages à pâte persillées (blue cheeses), fromages à pâte fondue (processed cheeses).
 According to this Italophile website.
 Yes, I hear you ask, but what then is a tortilla? Literally, in Spanish, a 'small torta' (cake). Mainly, however, a type of thin flatbread originally made from maize by the first peoples of Mexico, later also from flour after the Spanish Conquistadores brought over wheat from Europe. Tortillas remain a staple food in Central America, have become ubiquitous in North America, and have even been adopted for use in space, where they have proven easier to handle than 'traditional' bread. They are an essential ingredient for many traditional Mexican dishes, including tacos, burritos (folded shut, unlike the half-closed taco), and enchiladas (usually folded in half, calzone-style), but also as the basis for tortilla chips.
 As in biology, diversity can be a good indicator of culinary origin.
 If that sounds vaguely reminiscent of the US setup, it is no coincidence. The official title of the federal state is Estados Unidos Mexicanos ('United Mexican States'), obviously inspired by the revolutionary republicanism of the United States of America. Compare the name of the short-lived Belgian republic (Jan-Dec 1790): États-Belgiques-Unis ('United Belgian States').
 The double names are explained thus: the animals were raised by Anglo-Saxon farmers (hence cow, sheep, pig), but eaten by their Norman, French-speaking masters (hence beef, mutton, pork).
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.