It all started with a silly article that had landed in my inbox on Friday morning via the platform called ‘Medium’. The lede of the article in the Pacific Standard magazine by Elena Gooray asked: How do you beat a curse? It caught my eye even in the middle of an eye-roll. I wish it hadn’t. Because inevitably I caught the sub-lede: A practiced Santa Barbara psychic weighs in on Lil B’s so far effective curse against basketball superstar Kevin Durant. And my hackles were raised.
Fear does strange things to people. The fear du jour currently permeating the US is, of course, the Ebola virus disease. Despite the august efforts to reassure and educate from CDC and the WHO, there has spread a modicum of panic (often with tragic results); we have seen Ebola response become a political issue, and as pointed out recently by that redoubtable scienceblogger, Orac, a ghastly profusion of conspiracy theories and quackery has crawled out of nooks and crannies, feeding into the overall noise that is smothering rational discourse on the topic. But even before Orac wrote on it, my attention was drawn on Twitter to the latest volley of insane quackery to emerge, a supposedly “Ayurvedic approach” to curing Ebola – the Ayurveda nowadays being a catch-all term to refer to everything pre-scientific mumbo-jumbo allegedly written in the ancient Hindu holy texts, the Vedas. Because culture.
I work with immunology of infectious disease and study host-pathogen response. My work has naturally involved a good amount of animal experimentation, especially mouse models of various infections. These mouse models are incredibly useful, because they offer a valuable window into the process of infection, pathogenesis (‘disease production’), and the kind of immune response a vertebrate mammal generates to the infection. The same broad reasoning applies to rodent models of various metabolic and endocrine diseases, as well as cancer. These models are attractive because most often these research animals are genetically homogeneous, and therefore, provide a less complex (and more manageable) environment to study the genesis, as well as treatments, of a disease – while mimicking much of the same physiological responses seen in larger and more complex animals.
A friend of mine pointed me to this rather… interesting (for want of a better word) study the other day. (What can I say? I have interesting friends!) Published in the journal Liver Transplantation (an organ of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases), the paper is entitled: Religiosity Associated with Prolonged Survival in Liver Transplant Recipients1 by Bonaguidi et al. of the Institute of Clinical Physiology of the National Research Council of Italy and the University of Pisa.
Today, the 20th of January, is the third Monday of this month. It is a cold, gloomy day, pretty much like most winter days here in Baltimore. I woke up; after my usual hesitation to leave a warm bed on a cold day, I went for my morning ablutions, and left for work at the usual time. Little did I realize that today — the third Monday of January — has long been christened the Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year.
A long time ago, back in April 2010, I wrote a quasi-ranty post on the erstwhile NatureBlogs on the subject of spam comments I received to my posts. Many folks amongst my co-bloggers at that time shared their experiences. After the move to Scilogs and the WordPress platform, the super-efficient spam filter manages to keep spam at bay with virtually zero false positives. It is, therefore, with a sense of nostalgia that I sometimes visit my Spam Comments folder in the WordPress Admin dashboard, and with a flick of a button – poof! – they are gone forever, consigned to whatever digital hell (or Phantom Zone) deleted spam comments are banished to. However, sometimes, they do have some gems amongst them, worth preserving for posterity because of their sheer surreal quality. Here are a few examples.
I came to the Nature Network seeking intellectual stimulation. Of that, I do have plenty. But I believe that now NN may even be offering a different kind of stimulation. Or, more likely I think, finally my geek cred is being recognized and appreciated, and my charm is having an effect!