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?

Reflecting on COVID’s impact

Nobody wants to read about COVID-19 anymore. It’s like mentioning the IBI (incoherent bloviating imbecile) “Bad form, son, bad form.”

But, we still talk about COVID amongst ourselves. The new variants—will we need a booster for the zeta variant this fall? Will the more virulent variants finally eliminate the anti-logic conservatives? Will Fauci run for President? Should I keep wearing my mask, after all, it saved me from getting any air-born illness, including the seasonal flu.

And indeed, there are various societal changes, many of them beneficial, from having survived COVID-19.

  • Reduction in influenza. Incidents of the “flu” are nearly non-existent. Swapping out a much more deadly disease for our yearly fever-body-ache-runny-nose may not have been a wise trade. But, the near elimination of the “common cold” has proven humans really can change their behavior.
  • Millennials learned to cook. (And thousands of tons of Blue-Apron/Hello Fresh Styrofoam containers now fester in our landfills.)
  • We connected with our immediate families. (Like one long Thanksgiving dinner.)
  • We taught corporate management working from home will not render us all slackers and destroy businesses.
  • Home schooling became the only way to learn — but who would want to? Except, if you can get a college degree online
  • We bought more exercise equipment (that’ll wind up on Craigslist this summer). We turned Jeff Bezos into a mega-billionaire — by all means, order that shit online! We drank ourselves silly, wallowed in depression and discovered many of us have Ciliac disease.
  • Professional sports died. Geeze, I wish. By-all-means, keep paying those buffoons the millions they (do not) deserve.
  • Pharmaceutical companies expanded vaccine technology. The impact of future diseases will hopefully be reduced due to advances in how vaccines are designed and produced.
  • Proved we can live a less planet-attenuating lifestyle. I mean, I don’t care if Global Warming roasts us all alive. The planet is not a thing that needs saving. (Remember, I’m 90% Nihilist.) However, if we wanted to extend the Holocene out indefinitely, 2020 showed that humanity can live a less rapacious lifestyle.

And, of course, COVID showed us a few shifts in behavior that are nonsensical or downright unfortunate.

  • Fewer cars on the road resulted in MORE deaths? Yup. It seems that wide-open highways induced the idiots of the world to drive way faster, without their seat belts and while under the influence.
  • The CDC became unreliable. The United States’ preeminent health agency turned into a factory of lies.
  • We learned to shun our neighbors. “Stranger! Quick, cross the road. They might be infected.”
  • Theaters died, restaurants vanished, hundreds of thousands of small businesses withered away.

However, recall that after the Black Death, the plagues of the mid-1300’s, life became better for the survivors. The labor shortage allowed wage increases for the poor and the shift in power is thought to have led to the the Renaissance.

And the best example of success from calamity, from the ashes of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, mammals arose, and with them the greatest vermin—humanity—this side of Tau Ceti.

roses of success chitty chitty bang bang
“Up from the ashes, grow the roses of success.”

Rabies: Vampires and Werewolves

Rabies, HIV, Hepatitis, Tetanus can all be spread through bites, animal or human. There are of course insect bites that will give you all kinds of diseases: yellow fever, dengue fever, Lyme disease, plague, malaria, etc. But I’ll focus on Rabies, for now.

The discovery of the cause of rabies didn’t occur until the early 1800’s and didn’t get a vaccine until Louis Pasteur figured things out later that century.

I have to wonder about the disease, Lyssavirus (named after Lyssa, the Greek goddess of insanity and rage) and its symptoms, in one variant, madness and an odd psychological fear called hydrophobia.

So, you, a carrier, bite someone and your victim becomes infected, insane with madness, and cringes from the sight of some mundane substance. Sound familiar?

(Seems that Lyssa and Lycaon, the Greek king who was cursed by Zeus to become the first werewolf, could have made the perfect couple.)

Hey, Bram Stoker, did you read about rabies in the London libraries around the 1890’s? Two legends, vampires and werewolves, both being vectored by saliva (viral infection) passed during a bite. Hmm, a curious coincidence.

Image courtesy: http://www.horror.land

$10,000 Covid Coat

A truck pulls up to the back of the plant and a guy gets out, pulls down his mask and wipes his nose. He hoists his pants and bangs on the back door where a sign reads “This is a safe work place. Please respect our workers.”

“I gotta delivery here. Open up the bay and get one o’ your lifts out here.”

“Is this the…”

“Yeah. Now, can you hurry it up. I got the sweats somethin’ awful.”

The guy sits in the truck and drinks the last of his water. In back, the panel slides up and he can feel the forklift drive on and begin offloading the crates of dead mink.

What do you do with 10,000 dead mink?

You make Covid Coats of course.

Minks in South Carolina? | South Carolina Public Radio

ermine /ˈəːmɪn/ Learn to pronounce noun 1. a stoat, especially when in its  white winter coat. 2. a stout-bodied moth that has cream or white wings  with black spots. : words


REF: https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/09/us/mink-covid-outbreak-trnd/index.html