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August 14, 2020
[covid] The Pandemic’s Biggest Mystery Is Our Own Immune System … A beginners guide to the human immune system. TL;DR: It’s really complicated. ‘The immune system’s reaction to the virus is a matter of biology, but the range of reactions we actually see is also influenced by politics. Bad decisions mean more cases, which means a wider variety of possible immune responses, which means a higher prevalence of rare events. In other words, the worse the pandemic gets, the weirder it will get.’
March 13, 2020
[coronavirus] Top U.S. Health Experts: ‘Hold On To Your Fucking Seats Because This Bitch Hasn’t Even Thought About Starting Yet’ … The Onion on the CoronaVirus.

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions surrounding Covid-19, and, well, you all better buckle the fuck up, because this shit is about to kick into high gear,” said Stanford professor of health research and policy Richard Mason, throwing all his papers in the air and warning the nation that they better strap in tight, because this motherfucker will knock you on your goddamn ass.

March 12, 2020
[blogs] Things not do in April 2020 … Diamond Geezer’s April round-up post in the age of Coronavirus. ‘April 10 – Flight from Heathrow: Join the crowds heading off for a long-promised Easter break, hopefully to a country that’s still mostly virus-free, praying that they don’t introduce an emergency quarantine lockdown while you’re over there trapping you in a hotel room you can’t fly home from. …or, when cancelled, stay at home and check the small print of your cancellation policy.’
March 9, 2020
[disease] Fever dreams: did author Dean Koontz really predict coronavirus? … The Guardian has a look at fictional pandemics. ‘[Dean Koontz’s] novel The Eyes of Darkness made reference to a killer virus called “Wuhan-400” – eerily predicting the Chinese city where Covid-19 would emerge. But the similarities end there: Wuhan-400 is described as having a “kill‑rate” of 100%, developed in labs outside the city as the “perfect” biological weapon. An account with more similarities, also credited by some as predicting coronavirus, is found in the 2011 film Contagion, about a global pandemic that jumps from animals to humans and spreads arbitrarily around the globe. But when it comes to our suffering, we want something more than arbitrariness. We want it to mean something. This is evident in our stories about illness and disease…’
March 3, 2020
[disease] The sounds of Covid-19 … the DNA sequence of Coronavirus converted to music notes by Shardcore.
March 2, 2020
[death] 17th Century Death Roulette ☠️ … How would you have died in the 17th Century? ‘In the week of September 12th, 1665 you died from Canker.’
March 14, 2018
[science] The Brighter Side of Rabies … A brief look at how scientists are using the rabies virus for research into the brain. ‘Ian Wickersham, a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who helped Callaway engineer the modified rabies virus eight years ago, is now at work on another version. The original, Wickersham told me, “kills infected cells quite quickly: by about two weeks after infection, they’re all either dead or in dire shape.” This meant that the scientists had a limited time to observe the virus’s movement in the brain. His goal, he said, is to make the rabies virus “innocuous, so infected neurons are completely healthy,” which might enable scientists not only to see how individual neurons are connected but also to watch the connections form. In other labs, different modified viruses are being used to target cancer, enhance food safety, and cure certain forms of color blindness. A modified strain of H.I.V., Callaway noted, is often used in labs to transfer genes between organisms.’
February 23, 2018
[food] How the sushi boom is fuelling tapeworm infections … Oh, Dear God, Tapeworms! ‘The patient had complained of abdominal pain. During a bout of bloody diarrhoea, reports Bahn, “he says: ‘I look down and I look like there’s a piece of intestine hanging out of me.’ What’s racing through his mind is he thinks he’s dying … He grabs it and he pulls on it and it keeps coming out. ‘What is this long piece of entrail?’ And he picks it up and looks at it and what does it do?” There is a dramatic pause to enhance the horror. “It starts moving.” Bahn said that the tapeworm had probably come from the patient’s daily intake of salmon sashimi. “He told me he was freaked out, but I guess when you think you’re dying because your entrails are shooting out your bottom and you find out it’s not you, but something else, that’s probably a good thing.” The story has attracted attention all over the world, as these things tend to do…’
July 11, 2014
[disa] Nature’s Most Perfect Killing Machine… a profile of the Ebola virus… ‘I first read Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone when I was 11 years old or so, and have since been in the habit of weighing every potential catastrophe against “death by Ebola virus disease.” The book is lurid and dramatic; the iconography of a dying patient crying blood and shitting out their intestines is, I admit, compelling. Terror-inducing as it may be, though, it’s perhaps not the most accurate portrait of the threat this particular monster poses…’