A couple who died of bubonic plague were mocked online. Then, a biologist showed up to shut it down with cold, hard science.

Earlier this year, a couple from Mongolia died of bubonic plague after consuming the organs of raw marmot. They believed the action would bring them good health. While that may sound strange, according to the World Health Organization, the eating of rodent meat is considered a folk remedy in the region.


The loss of two lives is tragic. But it got worse. Soon after news of the couple's demise broke out, people began mocking them on social media. After one Tumblr user decided to turn the conversation into a discussion of how the deceased should have just adopted a vegan diet, another used showed up to explain exactly why the post was wrong, rude, and ethnocentric.

All images in this post via Imgur.

"If you eat a raw dead rat in 2019 you deserve the bubonic plague," the original Tumblr user wrote. "We've all thought about eating a pigeon but it doesn't mean you just pick one off the street and bite into it."

Lots to unpack there, but I'm just going to make two points: 1. No one deserves the bubonic plague — especially for making a mistake; 2. How wonderful to illustrate people one knows nothing about as idiots who pick pigeons up off the street and bite into them.

Fortunately, someone other than an angry blogger stepped in. It was another tumblr user. And they were there to correct misconceptions, explain what happened, and take names. (Without going all off the handle like I might.) (Favorite thing to do!)

"The people who died were an ethnic Kazakh couple in a small Mongolian town," the user wrote. "They didn't eat a dead rat, they ate raw organs from a marmot they had hunted.the plague is an endemic disease in Mongolia, spread largely through contact with marmots (largely as a result of their fleas). unfortunately, due to a lack of information, some people in Mongolia subscribe to the folk belief that eating raw marmot will lead to good health."

"This couple contracted the disease-which is very treatable with antibiotics-but did not receive adequate care in time and, as a result, suffered horrifically before dying. they left behind children, ranging in age from 14-years-old to 9 months. they did not deserve to die."

Wow, okay. That's probably where it should have ended. With the original poster more humble and wise and promising they'd read more than just headlines in the future, but one of their supporters showed up to turn this into an argument about veganism.

And that's when things got heated. Because you know what? Civility is not always enough when people are being awful. Sometimes one has to fight fire with (very contained but still deadly) fire. And that's exactly what this anonymous person (with a clear background in biology) did; showing their detractors that it doesn't matter whether you eat meat or not — what matters is that we treat others with respect.

A little harsh? Absolutely. But an important reminder that we all need to work to understand others and show compassion in the face of tragedy. Even when we can't agree.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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