Fermi Paradox solution: Superbugs

The arms race against pathogens is a losing proposition.

What if all the effort we put into killing bacteria, fungi and viruses only serves to evolve those microbes into variants that will eventually kill us off?

“Kills 99.9% of germs — Woo-hoo! Ninety-nine point nine percent, that’s great.”

“Uh, what about the other 0.1%?”

“Bah, they don’t count.”

Humanity has been fighting a war-on-microbes for more than a century now. And it’s been a boon to the eradication of illness. What used to kill us, infection, poor sanitation no longer does. I realize that not all of us have benefited, though. Lack of proper sanitation is still one of the top killers in economically challenged nations. Education and enablement of good hygiene and public health remains a top issue there.

Yet, I wonder what one hundred plus years of killing *nearly* all the microbes—leaving their most robust, heartiest brethren to evolve, repopulate and spread—has accomplished.

Wouldn’t it be ironic to learn that all of our germ-o-phobe behavior has actually been developing superior strains of super bugs. Wash your hands with soap and warm water (leaving the strongest bugs to live another day.) Wear deodorant that kills almost all of the odor causing bacteria (leaving only the smelliest to persist). “Kills 99.9% of germs on contact” — mouthwash, sanitizers, wipes…

  • 99.9 percent reduction is the EPA’s arbitrary cutoff for sanitizer performance.

What if our efforts, for a century, has been creating an army of Killer Pathogens Set On Humanity’s Destruction!

Sure enough, the list of antibiotic resistant pathogens grows yearly. The more we fight the stronger they become.

Is this a war we can never win?

A war we will eventually lose, ending human civilization.

If it happens to us, this desire to protect ourselves by eradicating pathogens—which only escalates their evolution—might it not happen to most intelligent alien races? Killing them off, thereby solving Fermi’s Paradox?

Here comes SuperBug to save the day!

 

 

Am so — R-Naught

As we speak, COVID-19 is raging through Indonesia.

Now, normally, I’d not pay too much attention to this bit of information except that, my friend and artist/illustrator, Yulian Mulyono (https://www.instagram.com/yulianion/) lives on the island called Lombok (just east of Bali) and has had a rough time of it. His story is, well, tragic and I feel for him. His mother died of the disease in January, he caught it, probably at the funeral, and spent a month in the hospital trying to recover. He still suffers long-hauler’s symptoms and his entire existence is now living in his tiny apartment, telecommuting, leaving his door unlocked so that if he dies the authorities don’t have trouble retrieving his body — his words!

He’s pretty much lost the desire to do anything but work (funny how that survival instinct permeates us humans). I try to call him from time to time, he’s 15 hours ahead — scheduling is rough — but he’s trying to keep his spirits up.

OK, now, why all this?

I got to thinking about the delta variant of COVID that is shredding that country and many others similar in economic and political station. We, in the US, in progressive states where our vaccination percentages are 70% or higher, are feeling pretty good about the situation. We’re rational beings. We’re protected. If you’re too stupid or stubborn to get the vaccine well, good riddance.

Folks in places like Indonesia are not so lucky as to have the choice of getting vaccinated or not. And herein lies the rub, in places that continue to be decimated by COVID, the disease continues to evolve.

First we had Wuhan’s variant. Then the:

  • Alpha (Britain),
  • Beta (South Africa),
  • Gamma (Brazil) and
  • Delta (India) variants.

Now there is the Lambda (I think they’re skipping around with the Greek alphabet) from Peru. And undoubtedly there are other variants in the works.

“I am so immune.”

“You R-Naught”

Huh?

The CDC estimates that the R-0 (R-Naught) of the Delta variant is around six or seven. For every one person who gets that strain of COVID, roughly six or seven available, unvaccinated, previously unexposed folks will also contract the disease. And this disease is less than two years old. It’s got ages to continue to recirculate within the world’s population, evolving, mutating into variants even more virulent and deadly than Delta. We, the vaccinated, will not be protected for long.

So, sorry Yulian. You’re getting a shitty deal. Keep at it, though. Get back to drawing — your so damn good at it. And if there are other folks out there who find your instagram account, maybe they’ll heart your recent efforts.

-Mole

One of Yulian’s illustrations that is included in my novel The Gribble’s Eye. Here the “Gribble”, Argus Panoptes of Greek myth, helps build Gobekli Tepe — the ancient Anatolian temple. Pretty cool, huh?

Dear Mudge, Extreme Stoic Expression?

How ya been, Mr. ‘Mudge?

How’s that mountain air, the wildlife and the local burgers treating you?

I’ll tell ya, it’s been a hella strange mix of spring into summer this year. Weeks of slogging through a dull, mundane existence, punctuated by bizarre spikes of unpleasantness. A crazy ice storm and loss of power and internet. My daughter rushed to the hospital for emergency appendectomy. The ever constant drone of Rust code in my mind and last weekend’s 115F degree heat. And of course there was the month after month of writer’s apathy and far too much television/youtube. Yes, I think one can definitely consume too much TV — life’s emotion and experiences fed vicariously through an aural/visual IV losing much of its punch and verve along the way.

And how can one forget the constant hum of covid news that appears to be finally dwindling. Being vaccinated certainly takes the pressure off keeping current on that front.

These days, I’m feeling around, like a mole probing for earthworms, wondering if I can write my way out of indifference. As I do, of course, I begin to ponder the philosophical aspects of the task. This latest is simple: can a Stoic, who prides himself on attenuating the highs and lows of existence, ever write passionately about anything?

If one never allows oneself to feel the ecstasy or the misery how can one possibly communicate such emotions through words? Can you write of pure joy without ever experiencing ecstatic bliss? Can you write of raging hatred if you’ve never let abhorrent loathing consume you? Even if only through imagination, could a Stoic ever allow himself to drift out of his narrow channel of calm acceptance?

Are the best writers always impassioned humans?

Stay cool my friend,
‘Mole