The Loom

Monday Morning Buffet

I’m back from a computer-free vacation, and of course I have returned to mountains of emails and a long chain of fascinating new links. In place of any original thoughts of my own, let me just point you to a few things that look interesting (if you have any mental space not presently occupied by the horrors of Katrina).

1. Over the past couple years I’ve enjoyed watching Chris Mooney’s blogging and articles evolve into a full-blown book, The Republican War on Science, which has just come out. Tonight he hits the big time tonight on the Daily Show.

2. Mooney is actually just part of the opening night of a week-long evolution series on the Daily Show. A couple years ago my wife and I decided to give up cable because we feared we’d be use up what little free time we had watching has-been celebrity biographies or movies about evil mechanical sharks. (I should point out that my wife is strangely immune to the lure of the mechanical sharks.) It’s times like these, though, when I wish we still had just a little cable.

3. Human brains are evolving. Questionable Authority recaps. Will Bruce Lahn get the Nobel Prize someday?

4. Parasites are manipulating. Latest case: grasshoppers hurling themselves to their death on behalf of hairworms. Not a public health threat like malaria’s sweet perfume, but very high on the science-fiction-meter.

5. Life on Titan? Astronomer David Grinspoon thinks all the raw ingredients are there.


  1. #1 cats
    September 12, 2005

    ah….I was wondering whether you got any trouble in Katrina disaster, since you didn’t update your blog for a couple of days. And then you appears again.

  2. #2 BC
    September 12, 2005

    Its times like these, though, when I wish we still had just a little cable.

    If you have a good internet connection, you can watch the daily show online (streaming).

    And if you don’t have a good internet connection, “Crooks and Liars” sometimes has downloadable copies of the Daily Show.

  3. #3 Judith in Ottawa
    September 13, 2005

    Mooney did OK on the Daily Show, but was obviously scared to pieces! Stewart was kind but is naturally a bit forceful so the content didn’t come off as well as one hoped.

  4. #4 Wesley R. Elsberry
    September 15, 2005

    Let’s recap another host induced to seek open water by a parasite:

    How do people get Guinea worm disease?

    People get infected when they drink standing water containing a tiny water flea that is infected with the even tinier larvae of the Guinea worm. Over the course of a year in the human body, the immature worms pierce the intestinal wall, grow to adulthood, and mate. The males die, and the females make their way through the body, maturing to a length of as much as 3 feet, and ending up near the surface of the skin, usually in the lower limbs. The worms cause swelling and painful, burning blisters. To soothe the burning, sufferers tend to go into the water, where the blisters burst, allowing the worm to emerge and release a new generation of millions of larvae. In the water, the larvae are swallowed by small water fleas, and the cycle begins again.

    (Guinea Worm Disease Facts)

    I recall a class visit to an agricultural research station where one of the staff discussed various nematode parasites. He noted the treatment for Guinea worm employed by the ancient Egyptians: lower the infected extremity into water, then when the worm extends out into the water, grab the end and wrap that part on a stick. Then, each day following, the worm relaxes a bit and another inch or two can be wrapped on the stick. Within a month, all of the worm is on the stick. I recall that someone asked whether modern medicine had improved on the technique. “Certainly,” the staffer said, “now we wrap the worm on a stainless steel rod.”

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