An unusual way to celebrate

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In the running for attachment ambiguity of the week is a photo caption from Simon Johnson and Ben Hirschler, "Beating Parasites wins three scientists Nobel Prize for medicine", Reuters 10/5/2015:

The caption:

William C. Campbell, a parasitologist and RISE Associate with Drew University, poses near paintings he made of parasites shortly after learning that he was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine, at his home in North Andover, Massachusetts October 5, 2015.




  1. Mara K said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 10:38 am

    I don't see the ambiguity.

  2. Mara K said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 10:39 am

    I don't see the ambiguity.

    *ten seconds after hitting submit* Hang on, when did he do those paintings?

  3. cs said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 10:48 am

    Once you start looking for ambiguity, "at his home" could refer to the location where he posed, painted, or learned.

  4. bratschegirl said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 11:21 am

    I think the headline is the best part. He won a Nobel Prize for beating parasites? Was this a footrace, or in a boxing ring, or a straight-up beatdown in the back alley? Or were they playing chess? If the parasites were "at home" when this took place, does that make it domestic violence?

  5. Victor Mair said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 11:32 am

    For want of a tiny, little comma.

    Same problem as with my last post on Chinglish.

  6. Francois Lang said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

    And here I was thinking that Beating Parsasites was the name of a punk band that had won the three scientists.

  7. Ethan said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

    @bratschegirl: The metaphor of battle for countering disease seems pretty entrenched in the language – from the "war on cancer" to the "battle against polio" to "I've been fighting off a cold all week". There's even a slogan "beating heart disease", although clearly an additional pun is at work in that one.

  8. David L said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

    It's hard enough to imagine that he could have painted those pictures on the spur of the moment, but to think that he matted, framed, and hanged them as well… Well, you don't get a Nobel prize for being a slowpoke.

  9. Jason Eisner said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 2:27 pm

    @David L — and the most impressive part is that the paintings are actually made of parasites!

  10. KevinM said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

    Parasite Scientist Awarded $1 Million

  11. Lugubert said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 3:25 pm

    I first hesitated at the headline: not far from telling that those fierce, beating parasites "… win three scientists' Nobel Prizes for medicine".

  12. Victor Mair said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 6:20 pm

    "3 Scientists Win Nobel Prize in Medicine for Parasite-Fighting Therapies"


    William C. Campbell, formerly of New Jersey, and Satoshi Omura, of Japan, who share one-half of the $960,000 award with Tu Youyou of China.

  13. Lai Ka Yau said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

    Maybe this is a tradition at Drew University…

  14. Victor Mair said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 6:58 pm

    Tu Youyou's surname is unusual, Tú 屠, which means "butcher; slaughter; massacre".

    Her given name, Yōuyōu 呦呦, means "bark of a deer"; it comes from an ode in the Poetry Classic, Lù míng 鹿鸣 ("The Deer Cries").

    Her given name superficially resembles that of the famous cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, but his given name literally means "friend-friend", while his surname means "horse": Mǎ Yǒuyǒu 马友友.

    Mǎ 马 is the 13th most common surname in China and is the most common surname among Chinese Muslims.

  15. D.O. said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 10:41 pm

    Mǎ 马 is the 13th most common surname in China and is the most common surname among Chinese Muslims.

    It may be noted that (according to Wikipedia, naturally) surname Mǎ is shared by a little less than 17 mil. Chinese and the entire population of Hui, Dongxiangs, and Salar, for whom it is the most common surname, is about 7.5 mil. (both numbers are estimates for 2006)

  16. Steve Kass said,

    October 5, 2015 @ 11:47 pm

    Lai Ka Yau: If this is a tradition at Drew University, it’s a very well kept secret tradition. I’ve taught at Drew for 25+ years, and Bill Campbell’s office was around the corner from mine for the 10 of those years he was here. Never did I notice or hear about his or anyone’s paintings made of parasites. (I can, though, vouch for the fact that he’s every bit as lovely a man as he seems in the news reports.)

  17. richardelguru said,

    October 6, 2015 @ 5:47 am

    "and hanged them as well…"
    Why, did they beat some parasites to death?

  18. Catherine Ryan said,

    October 6, 2015 @ 8:40 am

    Dr. Campbell once gave a fascinating lecture at Drew University during which he showed photos of his paintings of parasites and read some of his poetry, neatly connecting science and art.

  19. seriously said,

    October 6, 2015 @ 9:04 pm

    I played bass for Beating Parasites and I can assure you, we never met this guy. And we never won a Nobel Prize, either, for us or anyone else. Not a Grammy, either…

  20. amy said,

    October 6, 2015 @ 11:32 pm

    "paintings he made of parasites" sounds a little awkward to me. Then again, the writer probably came up with "paintings of parasites he made" at first, and changed it after realising that also does not sound quite right.

  21. Zizoz said,

    October 9, 2015 @ 2:26 am

    I initially thought that the parasites had just learned of his Nobel prize when he painted them.

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