strange behaviors

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    Ending Epidemics: A History of Escape from Contagion: “Ending Epidemics is an important book, deeply and lovingly researched, written with precision and elegance, a sweeping story of centuries of human battle with infectious disease. Conniff is a brilliant historian with a jeweler’s eye for detail. I think the book is a masterpiece.” Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Animal Music Monday: Chopin’s “Minute Waltz”

Posted by Richard Conniff on May 2, 2016

This lively little tune by the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) is widely known as “The Minute Waltz” (meaning small waltz, though commonly pronounced to suggest that Chopin meant it to be played that fast).  Chopin himself named it Valse du Petit Chien, “Waltz of the little dog.”

Here’s the story.  He was living in the 1840s with the French author and feminist George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucille Dupin). They were supposedly sitting around one time when her dog, Marquis, began to run in circles, chasing his tail.  Sand then challenged Chopin to write a musical piece capturing that crazed energy and Chopin did so on the spot.

The story may well be apocryphal.

But here’s another tune Chopin wrote about Marquis, the 40-second “Galop Marquis.”

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