Neuron Culture

Archives for April, 2009

Wanted to draw attention to this wonderful interview with CDC virologist Ruben Donis, chief of the molecular virology and vaccines branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from ScienceInsider. It’s echoes nicely some of the themes I and others have been trying to hit in this swine flu coverage: the mystery about…

Where the flu’s at

In his morning news roundup at Slate today, Daniel Politi hits what seems to me — this morning, anyway — about the right tone, which is that the events of the last 24 hours are encouraging. (Though I wouldn’t throw out those flu masks just yet.)

Nature’s Declan Butler looks at how baffled virologists are as they examine this virus’s DNA: Researchers are scrambling to study the evolution and spread of the novel H1N1 strain of swine influenza whose leap to humans was officially confirmed last week…. The genetic make-up of this swine flu virus is unlike any that researchers have…

It’d be nice to think otherwise. But even as WHO moves to Phase 5, recognizing that there is sustained human-to-human spread of this virus, we’re still not sure how much punch it has. Which, as SophieZoe points out at A Pandemic Chronicle doesn’t leave us with much : Beyond the change in the official alert…

Amid my flu frenzy I missed Vaughn Bell’s excellent consideration of CIA psychology through the declassified memos: I’ve been reading the recently released CIA memos on the interrogation of ‘war on terror’ detainees. The memos make clear that the psychological impact of the process is the most important aim of interrogation, from the moment the…

As I’ve noted before, the U.S.’s health-care and education systems share some fundamental flaws: In both medical care and schooling we spend far more than other countries and get substandard results; in both cases, the overspending and poor results occur partly because our decentralized “systems” mean everyone does and measures everything differently, so you can’t…

Revere reminds us of how isolation and quarantine are not the same: Both Avian Flu Diary and H5N1 look at how Mexico’s 160+ “swine flu deaths” got knocked back to just 7. Andre Picard (why do so many ace flu reporters come out of Canada?) argues we should Keep the fear-o-meter on low for now…

This swine flu business is moving fast now, with confirmed or reported cases popping up everywhere and the first reported death outside Mexico — a 23-month-old child in Texas — reported this morning. As Effect Measure notes Some of the fear [generated in the U.S. by this deat] will be lessened by the new knowledge…

Brandon Keim, who is part of Wired’s ace science writing crew also keeps a blog, Earthlab Notes, where he recently put this nice post on The Language of Horses: In a few slender leg bones and fragments of milk-stained pottery, archaeologists recently found evidence of one of the more important developments in human history: the…

Via emails, comments, and so on, quite a few people offered their own explanations for why mortality might be higher in Mexico (as of yesterday), the subject of my Slate piece. First, though, a correction: I punched my numbers a bit too quickly in computing the flue’s hypothetical kill ratios in Mexico, and had everything…