Good News, Everybody! Looks like we won’t all have to die from MRSA and C diff

…I mean, yes, we’ll all still be swept away by the ruinstorms powered by our collapsing climate—but that’s a helluva lot less agonizing then succumbing to c diff or a septic staph infection. 

human neutrophil ingesting MRSA (source)
A human white blood cell battling MRSA (source)

All that aside, the science here is really cool: instead of a new traditional antibiotic (which is basically the equivalent of bug spray), this 25yo (!!!) researcher has designed and grown little nano-caltrops that tear apart the cell walls—and, just as hundreds of generations of deer have failed to grow immune to bullets, it likewise appears that bacteria cannot grow immune to these targeted lil anti-pathogenic death spikes. 

Rather than poisoning the bad bacteria like antibiotics do, the molecules, called peptide polymers, destroy the bacteria’s cell walls. And unlike antibiotics, which also poison surrounding healthy cells, the polymers “are quite non-toxic to the healthy cells in the body,” Lam says. That’s because they’re much too big (about 10 nanometers in diameter) to enter healthy cells—”the difference in scale between a mouse and an elephant,” Lam’s supervisor told the Sydney Morning Herald. What’s more, in Lam’s experiments, generation after generation of bacteria don’t seem to become resistant to the polymers.

Read more: This 25-Year-Old May Have Saved You From Super-Gonorrhea

Prepare Your Brain for RAZZLE-DAZZLE: Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s “Writer”

If you’re at all mechanically minded, you’re going to start our sort of underwhelmed, since the solution seems pretty transparent: Any determined craftsman could get similar results with a homebrew pantograph and template (hell, you could do it in LEGO).

But keep watching.  You’ll get more impressed around the 2-minute mark when you see the mechanism, and more so around 2:40 when you see the cams and realize that the device isn’t tracing letterforms, but rather, in a mechanical sense, understands a series of modular strokes than can be built up in different arrangements to form different letters. Finally, you’ll totally shit yourself at 3:55 because this damned thing—built in the late 1700s—was programmable.

0.o

Absolutely stunning.

My Dog is Full of “Masses”

This lil mutherfucker is Lunchbox:

His baleful eyes flashin' like the fires o' Hell!
His baleful eyes flashin’ like the fires o’ Hell!

The vet’s records say Lunchbox is 13-years-old, but that’s not true.  We’ve had him for 13 years, but he was full grown when we got him from the rescue. We thought he was a puppy—and he was marketed as such—but as he failed to grow any bigger, or loose any “baby” teeth, or need to be housebroken, it slowly dawned on us that he wasn’t a puppy, he was just a small dog some dipshit didn’t want.

Anyway, on Friday he really wasn’t feeling well.

We figured it was the heat; we live in Michigan, it had been 90 for a week, we have no AC—it was miserable.  He mostly just moped around that week, looking at us with utter disgust at our inability to make the house work properly.  By the weekend, he was lying on the hardwood floor in front of a fan, only going outside to potty when coaxed (or, on several occasions, carried).

Then the heat broke, but he felt no better.  He was very listless, and seemed confused.  He was having trouble standing up, and trouble navigating the steps, not that he couldn’t—he could be coaxed up with treats—but more like he couldn’t quite understand how steps worked.

Charming young Lunchbox
Charming young Lunchbox

This all seemed Really Bad, so I took him to the vet Monday.  It turns out that he’s full of “masses” that are almost certainly tumors.  One (are several) inside the membrane that surrounds his heart, and another maybe on his liver or spleen—which is in line with some elevated something-something levels in his blood (he had a lot of tests, and I was having trouble following, because the vet—who was a very nice, small young woman—was so obviously absolutely miserable to have to be telling me any of this).  As a consequence of the tumors (and possibly the heat, and likely a variety of lingering infections permitted to slowly simmer in his failing, mass-ridden system), his pancreas had swollen enormously, and was smooshing his organs and distending his belly and generally making him miserable as fuck.  Also, it was making it really hard to tell in the x-rays what masses in his guts were attached to what, and how severe they may be.


The upshot is that Lunchbox probably has 6 months to live, maybe a year, maybe less.  The vet sold me anti-emetics and antibiotics, and instructed me to shift him to a very low-fat diet—which, absolutely no joke, is my diet: Cheap-ass, low-fat beef/chicken over steamed brown rice.  I also had to pick him up a ‘scrip for controlled narcotics.

At the human pharmacy.

For my dog.

My dog is on dope.  His name is on the bottle and everything:  “Lunchbox Spindler.

This is the face of the Midwestern opioid epidemic #America:

One charming old mofo
One charming old mofo

It’s now two days later, and he’s absolutely and 100% back to being his old self—mostly due to the anti-emetics (which killed his nausea, restoring his appetite) and antibiotics (which are bringing down the most obvious belly-distention), but infinitely bolstered by the fact that he’s absolutely elated to be on my diet.

From his perspective, this has all turned out terrific—because he doesn’t know what the future is, and therefore doesn’t know that he’s mostly dead.  

I don’t know if that means he’s an idiot or a fucking zen master.  I guess, all things being equal, I hope that I can begin to emulate his comportment in the face of death.

When I first started trying to find a way to talk about all this, I’d imagined I’d follow that bold-italics bit above with something like “I guess that means God is not a total dick sometimes.”

But then I realized: Lunchbox is a dog. God didn’t make dogs; we did.  They are our first, grandest experiment in Genetically Modified Organisms, now in it’s 15,000-ish year. We are their God, and we made them in our image—or at least the best parts of it: We took wolves and foxes and selectively bred them until they became beasts mostly composed of love and loyalty, forever content, forever in the Now, perhaps somewhat easily Scared, but not cursed with Fear, because they aren’t cursed with thinking they have any fucking clue What Comes Next.

The Rabbi Jesus might have urged all-y’all to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow, neither toiling nor spinning, but I couldn’t tell a fucking lily from a mayapple or crocus or onion plant.  Fuck lilies.  As far as I’m concerned, consider the dog, how he loves, how he trusts that things will sort out OK, and food will come, and rest will come, and warmth will come, and affection will come. He doesn’t toil, he doesn’t fret, and yet he does OK, all things considered.

Amen.

Continue reading “My Dog is Full of “Masses””

Three Thoughts on Nukes: The Parable of the Six Fishes, the Demon Core, and the 10,000 Dead Americans We Don’t Care About

one

Which reminds me of a story Penn Jillette used to tell.  He and Teller were scheduled to appear on TV (maybe Letterman?), and so they prepared a new twist on a classic trick: You take a volunteer’s watch, put it in a bag, smash it, dump out the tattered remains, do some patter, and then make the watch reappear whole and ticking.  In their version for Letterman (or whoever), they were going to take the host’s watch, smash it, then wheel out a big aquarium, and sprinkle the parts in the water, where they’d dissolve and the fish would eat them.  The host would freely select one of the fish, Teller would scoop it out with a net, they’d gut and and ta-da!, there would be the whole, ticking watch in the fish’s guts!

But the network standards folks wouldn’t let them do that trick; it’d be too brutal to have an animal killed on screen.  So Penn and Teller re-jiggered the trick: Instead of an aquarium full of live fish, they’d wheel out a fishmonger’s ice table with six dead fish on it.  They’d take the host’s watch, smash it, sprinkle the bits in the ice, the bits would dissolve, the host would freely select a dead fish, and Teller’d fillet it to reveal the watch.  Standards loved it, the host loved it, and that’s what went on live TV.

The point of the story—which is the sort of thing that belongs in an atheist’s Bible—is that Nuclear_Blast_Animation_Blinding_Lighteveryone was more comfortable with six fish dying instead of one, provided they didn’t have to watch.  Perhaps this is why, if we are to have a death penalty, we should televise it.  Perhaps viewing should be mandatory.  Perhaps the president should be forced to kill one patriot before he or she kills 10,000 abstract men, women, and children.

two

Consider The Demon Core and the sacrifices researchers make (occasionally heroic, but almost always mundane, and very often totally unforeseeable).  I’m mostly putting this here because I’d first heard about this when I was a kid, and realized that many folks hadn’t–and further, that most folks don’t realize what a duct-tape-and-butterknives affair science really is.  We imagine clean labs and specialized gear, but in real life it’s a lot of tupperware and dirty countertops.  A few folks are celebrated for the “Eureka!”s, and even fewer die terrible (but instructive) deaths.  The vast majority toil steadfastly day after day to further human progress one negative result at a time—so that we can go onto to totally disregard their hard-won findings because an actor or know-nothing shouted something demonstrably false at the top of their lungs just long enough to fool our just-half-a-step-from-monkey brains.nuclear_explosion_test_at_sea

three

I hasten to add that, having protested the continuing operation of a damaged Fermi II back in the 1990s and edited a textbook about Chernobyl, I am now nonetheless firmly pro-nuclear energy.  As a species, we need a lot of electricity, and we’re gonna need even more to dig ourselves out of the slow climate avalanche that’s going to kill us.  The way we currently generate bulk electricity kills tens of thousands of people annually (for example, air pollution from burning coal kills more than 10,000 people each year just in the US)—and that’s when it’s working as intended.  Even taking into account the inevitability of the occasional Fukushima or Chernobyl, we’re still better off with the Demon Core than the Devil We Know.

FUN FACT: My grandad is in this picture!
FUN FACT: My grandad is in this picture!

Gaaaaaah! #Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah #NSFW :( *UPDATED!!!*

Hey gents: Ever wanted to do sex stuff to a cannibal ghost’s face? Well, guess what? NOW YOU CAN!

61grjqHmU-L._SL1001_
gaaaaaah!

I don’t wanna come off as a prude or anything, but I think that there’s maybe absolutely nothing not wrong with this, from it’s name—which starts with “sexbaby“(!!!), and then somehow manages to get worse—to the use of colors and shapes, to the reviews, distressingly low price, and the fact that this is in stock and “Fulfilled by Amazon” (thus conjuring the image of untold ranks of shelves in a Tennessee warehouse, holding uncountable numbers of cartons, each containing boxes upon boxes of individually packaged artificial ghostbaby sexmaws.  With teeth.)   

I present to you the “Sexbaby Silicone Realistic Mouth with Tongue and Teeth

Sexbaby Silicone Realistic Mouth with Tongue and Teeth?!?

“Sexbaby silicone realistic mouth with tongue and teeth.”

Sexbaby

silicone and realistic

tongue and teeth

:(

Continue reading “Gaaaaaah! #Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah #NSFW :( *UPDATED!!!*”

Meat vs. Machine

Nature can best a drone…

…and a dude with a rudimentary medieval weapon can best a drone…

..and then this super-genius has to fuck it all up: 

(Doesn’t help that the fucking thing sounds like a billion mosquitos all crying out for vengeance.)

Thanks, buddy; our fate as biological batteries for a reality-bending one world robo-overlord is basically sealed.