Reveal Your Presence

Reveal Your Presence

by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, Ph.D.

castleThe scientific journal Nature published a review of a book that examines the strange history and literature of the flying saucer phenomena (1).  I have not read the book and am not asking you to buy it, just have a careful look at the appraisal posted on the Nature Books and Arts blog, A View From the Bridge.

Titled ‘The Rise and Fall of the UFO,’ it would not be surprising if readers came away with an impression the book explores a dead topic.  Clearly, judged by mainstream press coverage, the UFO heyday passed many decades ago.  However, UFOs are still with us and people who witness them persist in seeking explanations for them.  A quick search of Amazon.com will reveal that new works on UFOs are published regularly.

In my limited personal experience, UFOs and paranormal events are rarely discussed by my colleagues.  For many academics any professional interest in UFO phenomena probably died with the publication of the Condon Report.  With such limited formal scientific study and discussion of the topic it is not surprising many scientists today would view UFOs as a long dead craze of the past prompted by swamp gas and stoked through mass hysteria.

Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the ivory tower may not realize their perspectives are restricted.  You have a rare opportunity to help them avoid confirmation bias; anyone may post a comment to this blog.  Read the review, see how it strikes you and issue an opinion if you deem it appropriate.  A substantial public response to the review theme may demonstrate to the Nature readership the UFO topic is still alive today.  And perhaps the editors will recognize that interest warrants more coverage.

Let them know you are out there.

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  1. http://blogs.nature.com/aviewfromthebridge/2016/09/22/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-ufo/

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Is It Time To Kickstart Mrs. Steinberg’s Puckered Starfish?

steinberg-thrillerFriends, I come to you as a man of peace. In the past I have questioned Gene Steinberg’s integrity as an entity in the ufo field and as a man in… you know… life. But no more. I recognize a person in genuine need when I see one and Gene is such a person. Rather, Gene’s wife is such a person. Rather, Gene’s wife’s bloody asshole is such a… person? Sure. Person.

Before you stop reading to write me your hate mail, allow me to allow Gene to explain in all his exclamation mark glory. In “An Important Message From Gene Steinberg!” dated 09/21/2016 titled, “Barbara Continues To Suffer!” we read:

In the past couple of weeks, Barbara has spent an increasing amount of time in the bathroom, suffering. Her colorectal condition (not cancerous) appears to have grown worse. She has an appointment with a specialist in early October ahead of needed surgery.

But in order to have that surgery, I have to make sure her coverage, with United Healthcare (via the Obamacare exchange) is current. That’s before the copays that can get expensive, way beyond that I can afford.

Now I couldn’t have gotten this far without the generous assistance of my readers and listeners. I will never forget your generosity.

If you can help me further to get over this hump, please do what you can.

It’s truly heartbreaking. Here is a man who just barely raised enough money from fans to pay his bills, move to a new home, and pay the cleaning fees. Now, while he continues to work on working on boosting cash flow (a work in progress), the buttocks of his lovely wife is set to explode.

Well not on my watch or your dime, folks.

Gene, if you’re reading this–please stop taking people’s money. Not because it looks like  you’re a fraud. Not because it looks like you’re addicted. Not because you’re no better than Greer or Bassett. Not because it’s fucking disgusting that any man would shame his wife this way and part of me suspects the only reason you’re doing this is to bait me so you can tell people what a malicious bastard I am for writing this and gain more sympathy coin that way, in which case I deserve a cut and will gladly provide my paypal info if you email me. Not even because in a plea titled, “The Landlord’s Warning!” dated June 24, 2014, you wrote:

Despite making some progress with back rent in the past couple of weeks, the landlord is becoming more insistent. He sent me this text message on my mobile phone the other day: ‘I need to get another payment soon. Your balance is $1589 dollars.’

This includes two months rent and various late/legal charges, so you can see my rent is relatively cheap. By ‘soon,’ he told me days not weeks, and he still reserves the right to send the sheriff to have me ejected at any time.

I still owe back payments for insurance, utilities and so on and so-forth. I’ve paid some of it, but I owe a lot, still, which explains the sleepless nights.

As I said, I have [been] working very hard to get out from under this financial mess and build a reliable income, and maybe get a little retirement income before it’s too late. I have more ad deals pending for the radio shows, and am working to get payments as soon as I can. There are long-range plans, too, so I’m not sitting still.

But I need to get past the current crisis, so if you can possibly help me out again, I hope you’ll consider doing so as soon as possible.”

–and then 2 months later (08/25/2014 to be exact) were caught in  the Optima forum bragging, “I have a 2014 Optima EX with Premium package. I didn’t bother [with] the Technology package, with [the] navigation system and other options, not just because of the expense. My iPhone 5s is a perfectly good navigation tool when I need one.”

No, not because of any of your deplorable acts. Stop taking people’s money because I am going to help your wife. Anyone who has watched No One’s Watching: An Alien Abductee’s Story (which, granted, is no one) has one general takeaway from the film: I’ve got a large ass. A large, nearly hairless white ass. Ass enough for two people. Ass enough for your wife, Gene. And giving her the benefit of the doubt, hairless enough.No Ones Watching

That’s right, if she (or you on her behalf) accept my offer–and if it’s a legal surgery in the States or Mexico–I would like to donate a piece of my winking wormhole to heal your wife’s shit-eating frown.

I don’t know if it’s covered under Obamacare, but we can work out those finer details. I have a healthy, overly ripe, plump buttocks for the taking. If she needs ass, I’ve got ass. Gene, I am here to help. Do not let this opportunity pass her by. Or you could get a job ripping tickets at your local movie theater and buy her some Preparation H. Your call. Either way, know that while you’re full of shit it’s your wife who is suffering. And I am here to help.

World War You

World War You

by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, Ph.D.

WWY2The 20th century began a period of notable public health improvements in which average life expectancy increased from just under 49 years to nearly 79 years today (1, 2).  A combination of factors including vaccines, improved living conditions and antimicrobial drug therapies decreased the threat of early death from many infectious diseases (3).  Today death is often the long term consequence of chronic conditions such as heart (cardiovascular system) disease, cancer and diabetes.

Antibiotics vanquished a number of bacterial diseases and for a while they certainly looked like miracle cures.  However, while battles with infectious diseases were being won, a sign of serious trouble, drug resistance, emerged quickly.  For a while steady development of new antibiotics enabled physicians to keep pace.  Eventually, rising tides of resistance forced the medical community to acknowledge the miracle of antibiotic resistance might be squandered (3).  Medical professionals were called on to use antibiotics judiciously and follow procedures to reduce the spread of drug-resistant microbes – more than 25 years ago.  The longstanding problems have never been resolved and some are much deeper than we first imagined.

Antibiotics are often so effective at killing or suppressing it once appeared our microbial enemies were doomed.  However, our petri dish models were limited and led us to underestimate the adaptive potential of bacteria.  Microbes have been fighting each other with antibiotics for a long time and some had developed effective mechanisms to inactivate or eliminate them.  In addition, many antibiotic resistance factors are on DNA elements that can be passed to other bacteria.  What this means is that the bacterial pathogens we seek to destroy not only have access to pre-evolved antibiotic resistance genes and they are also adept at genetic plagiarism.  Once one of them acquires the right genes, ruthless selection coupled with fast transfers enables rampant antibiotic resistance spread.

We have been slow to recognize that the human body is a complex and dynamic ecosystem.  Our external and many internal surfaces are populated with thousands of different microbial species.  We and our billions of tiny companions are mutually interdependent to a degree that is only now beginning to be understood (4).  Physicians may prescribe an antibiotic to destroy a specific pathogen, but sensitive bacteria that happen to be in the neighborhood will be decimated along with the target.  Antibiotic treatments may eliminate the pathogen but they also change the composition of our normal microbial flora (5).  Hopefully, any disturbances are minor and temporary, but antibiotic treatment-induced alterations in gastrointestinal microbial community composition sometimes become catastrophic for the patient.  Antibiotics and anti-cancer treatments that disrupt the normal microbial balance in the colon may create a situation in which overgrowth of the bacterium Clostridium difficile produces serious, sometimes fatal disease (6).  Induced by medical treatment, the best hope for recovery from a disease produced by one antibiotic has been to switch to a different antibiotic and pray the patient improved.  This strategy often failed and a promising new approach has been to reconstitute the normal bacterial population using fecal transplants from healthy donors (6).

FireWe have been tossing powerful drugs into complex, interactive communities with little understanding of their potential downstream ecological consequences.  Tunnel vision and a lack of appreciation for interconnections between networks have been a traditional feature of ecosystem management by humans.  Our medical approaches have been successful, but several shortcomings are coming back to haunt us.

Modern animal husbandry practices provide enormous quantities of affordable foods.  They also increase the threat of human disease (7).  Actions taken to address economic concerns and consumer preferences may end up having important public health implications.  How animals are fed, housed, handled and transported to slaughter may favor the emergence and proliferation of highly pathogenic agents like enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7.  Feeding corn to cattle in order to increase production efficiency promotes colonization with E. coli O157:H7 (8) and stress may enhance the growth of these pathogens (9) in herd animals held in crowded feedlots.

Using antibiotics on food animals may directly select populations of drug-resistant bacteria which might go on to infect humans (7).  Worries about fostering the transfer of nasty pathogens seem well founded; millions of instances of food poisoning are caused each year by bacteria that get from our food animals into us.  One strategy suggested to mitigate the threat is ensuring antibiotics currently important in the treatment of human infections are employed only under carefully regulated situations in animal husbandry (7).

Nearly 70 years ago researchers discovered that herd and flock animals fed antibiotics gained weight (10).  Estimates of the amounts of antibiotics now being provided to enhance the growth of healthy animals vary (11), but it is clear the totals are substantial.  The exact reason(s) behind the growth enhancement phenomenon is unclear, but it is probable the normal dynamics of gut ecology – the interplay between animal hosts, their food and the microbial populations living within them – are fundamentally altered by sub-therapeutic antibiotic treatments.  We have only vague ideas as to the species composing the microbial worlds within our food animals and even less certain concepts about how they respond to antibiotic exposures.

If antibiotic feeding promotes growth in food animals, what are the human health implications?  One fact is clear; persons fed antibiotics gain weight just like farm animals (10).  Some scientists suspect the intermittent exposures to prescription antibiotics many of us experience are sufficient to disrupt the normal ecological balance of our digestive systems.  If this idea is correct, antibiotic treatments may be contributing directly to an increasing incidence of obesity and other conditions such as diabetes and allergies (5).  Some compelling results supporting this hypothesis are in hand, but antibiotic exposure is one of many factors, including diet, that could be altering our normal populations of gut microbes (12).

The war against infectious diseases has been a monumental success.  However, from the microbial ecology perspective some antibiotic treatments are a scorched earth approach with global impacts.  Understanding the worlds within us may lead to new strategies to prevent or cure disease without inflicting so much collateral damage on our mostly peaceful microbial partners.  All of us have a stake in the outcome of World War You.
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(1)   D. Leonhardt.  2006.  Life Expectancy Data.  The New York Times, September 27, 2006.  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/27/business/27leonhardt_sidebar.html

(2)   E. Arias.  2011.  National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 64, Number 11, September 22, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_11.pdf

(3)   M. L. Cohen.  1992.  Epidemiology of Drug Resistance: Implications for a Post-Antimicrobial Era. Science 257:1050-1055.

(4)   J. E. Brody.  2014.  We Are Our Bacteria.  The New York Times, 14 July 2014. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/14/we-are-our-bacteria/?_r=0

(5)   M. J. Blaser.  2016.  Antibiotic Use and Its Consequences for the Normal Microbiome.  Science352:544-545. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939477/

(6)   P. A. Smith.  2015.  Fecal Transplants Made (Somewhat) More Palatable.  The New York Times, 9 November 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/10/health/fecal-transplants-made-somewhat-more-palatable.html

(7)   Antibiotic Use in Food-Producing Animals.  National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for enteric Bacteria, Centers for Disease Control and Resistance.  http://www.cdc.gov/narms/animals.html

(8)   T. R. Callaway et al.  2009.  Diet, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Cattle: A Review After 10 Years.Current Issues in Molecular Biology 11:67-80. http://www.horizonpress.com/cimb/v/v11/67.pdf

(9)   L. Galland.  2014.  The Gut Microbiome and the Brain.  Journal of Medicinal Food 17(12):1261-1272. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259177/

(10)  P. Kennedy. The Fat Drug.  The New York Times, 8 March 2014.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/opinion/sunday/the-fat-drug.html

(11)  T. F. Landers et al.  2012. A Review of Antibiotic Use in Food Animals: Perspective, Policy and Potential.  Public Health Reports 127(1):4-22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3234384/

(12)  T. Kokjohn.  2016.  Food for Thought? https://jayvay.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/food-for-thought/

 

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