Archive for January, 2012

New Birth Control: Zapping Your Testicles!


Image by dulcie via Flickr

I kid you not.  A group of very angry female researchers has found that zapping rat testicles drops their sperm count.

“We were using Tasers, but that just killed them,” said one researcher.  “It was, however, very effective in bar trials with unwitting male volunteers.”

Researchers told newsmen, who squirmed and covered their family jewels during the report, that they used a variety of techniques for sperm reduction.  “Hammers, knees, clenched fists, biting, and, of course, the steel-toed high heel were all very effective at sperm count reduction.” said gleeful researchers.  “It was also a highly enjoyable experimental series.”  They noted with some dissatisfaction that a mere ultrasound was also effective.  “I had my hopes for the three-pound sledgehammer,” said one privately.

Ultrasounding killed the sperm for a period of time, but researchers are working on upping the length.  The same sort of machine is used to check on male infants in the womb, which opens up the possibility of dropping sperm counts before even being born.

“We’re going to continue to experiment,” said one researcher.  “It’s about time men took responsibility for contraception.”


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Legionnaires Disease Is Coming? Very, Very Slowly.

Quick, what do two hospitals have in common with the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas?

If you said they are  all full of baby boomers, two points.  If you said they are a gamble, five points.  If you said Legionnaire’s disease, ten points and go wash your hands.

That’s right, the mighty Luxor has come down with Legionnaire’s in the water.  Where did it come from?  Well you might ask, because the bacteria needs water and it’s dispersal radius is only about six kilometers (about three miles for the metric impaired).

But according to Wiki (does it have its own religion yet?) cars filled with regular, clean water can spread the bacteria when they spray across their dirty windscreens.  Professional drivers are evidently five times more likely to get it (though this statistic might have been written in by a five-year-old.  Take all Wiki with a large grain of potassium).

So that explains the Luxor.  They didn’t think they had much to worry about, so they didn’t clean their systems.  Now they’ll get to spend millions defending themselves.  “Eight guests sued in August, seeking $337.5 million in damages”  Can you say greedy?  In the UK a patient who almost died from Legionnaire’s while at the hospital is getting a whopping 24,000 pounds.  Even with the conversion, she’s barely getting enough to go to Luxor for a week, gamble it away, and then join the Luxor class action.

In the UK, they admitted they weren’t cleaning their fountain water supply.  No such luck in Wisconsin, where people who died as a result of sitting next to the hospital fountain and inhaling Legionnaire’s are being told “even with regular cleaning and testing, it’s possible for legionella to accumulate.”  Really?  It seems to me that the great Wiki says all you need to do is heat the water.  What are the chances that the maintenance guy never got around to fountain cleaning.  We just can’t admit fault here in the U.S.

So what are our chances of getting Legionnaire’s?  Fortunately, the bacteria is dormant at the current temperatures here in Maine.  And you really need to get a nice aerosol of the stuff up your nose.  So don’t go snorting any vernal pools when they thaw out, and stay clear of aerosol waterfalls, and you should be ok.  On the other hand, you might want to clean out that humidifier you keep out in the garage before you wind it up for the family next year.  Anything that’s going to generate an aerosol of moisture that gets outdoor exposure is a suspect.

I’ve written more seriously about Legionnaire’s in Maine (last link below).


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Morgellons In Your Mind Or In Your Skin? Also in cows?

English: This 1992 photograph shows three form...

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One of my favorite cop-outs is the term “somatoform disorder.”  It says that you do have actual physical symptoms from something, but that those symptoms are coming from the stress in your mind.  “It’s all in your head.”  In other words, go take an antidepressant and/or sedative and stop bothering us because we don’t think anything is really wrong with you.  It’s the medical equivalent of giving someone the finger.

Morgellons Disease has just received the medical bird.  A CDC study found absolutely nothing in common with sufferers and lumped them in with the delusional infestation folks.

The reason for this treatment is clear.  It wasn’t named by an M.D., but by Mary Leitao, a mom, found something like it in a 17th century French medical record.  Clearly this was a doomed disease because we simply cannot have laypeople naming diseases.  That would lead to names like “crotch itching disease” and “wanting chocolate all the time disease.”  If people can diagnose themselves, then most of them won’t come to their doctors and get the latin equivalents.

So the Morgellans community is now suffering from:  “punch the CDC in the face disease.”  They lobbied hard to get their illness investigated, and the investigators pulled on their non-latex gloves and gave them the bird.

Ok, now the internet has had a laugh at the Morgellons’ folks, let’s look a little farther than our own high church of we’re in charge of medicine, so there!

An interesting study found that evidently cows are almost as stressed as people and capable of the same level of “delusional infestation.”  Bovine digital dermatitis also has similar filaments to Morgellons, but unlike the humans, the cow fibers did not seem to be due to cotton clothing.  Darn, a slight hole in the “all in your mind” conclusion.

Did the CDC have any gaps to truly consider Morgellons as anything but delusional?  I think not.  They never truly seriously considered any other possibility.  Look at the literature on Morgellons dating back to 2008.

So is there ANY possibility that the Morgellons’ folks are NOT just bell tower crazy and MIGHT have some legitimate concern?  Well, yes.

See, the way we view the body is pretty darn elementary.  Doctors are taught that each organ does its thing and that such-and-such happens over here and that organ generates that goop.  But it isn’t the case.  The body isn’t like an office building, it’s more like Burning Man (hip reference?  check.)  Everything is happening everywhere, all at once.  Most of it might be happening most of the time in this general area, but it can all happen anywhere.

SO, is there any possibility that being really stressed about life/your skin could ACTUALLY, FACTUALLY generate skin changes like filaments and other weirdness?  Yep.  Welcome to the brave new world where the skin ” acts as a true peripheral endocrine organ.”  That’s right, it’s making hormones and reacting to hormones, especially stress hormones.  We know that drug stress hormones (the steroids that don’t make you look like a certain ex-governor) will basically kill the skin, so what’s so far fetched about the skin having lesions, itching, and even scarring (looking like filaments) from very high chronic stress?  Oh, and if you drop the stress, they get better.  Not because it was all in their mind, but because the steroids are no longer wreaking havoc.

Ok, end of lecture (here’s the study) back to the mayhem.

In other news, the IRS has reported that there will be tax refund delays.  They cited identity theft concerns.  Those waiting for refunds are taking the IRS to court to sue for interest and penalties.  Good luck with that.



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Leprosy: Pirates and Prevention

Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year...

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If you’ve been living on a leper boat, you might have missed the  furor about the leper boat.  A clay or plasticine pirate tries to loot the boat and a passenger tells him there isn’t any treasure and his arm falls off.  Very poor taste, so now we all need to watch the trailer because the actual clay arm falling off will not be in the movie itself.

Although the news will likely continue with many attacks and the burning of small plasticine caricatures of Aardman producers, there is some more important news.

Researchers in the Netherlands have found that the antibiotic rifampicin can cure leprosy in six to twelve months and a single dose halves the risk of getting the disease from transmission.

The small plasticine characters, with all their arms intact, were last seen waving and pumping their fists in victory as they sailed for home and were able to reunite with their families.  Everyone took little plasticine pills of rifampicin and all was well.

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Bath Salts Add Flesh Eating to Their Side Effects

English: Computed tomography images of necroti...

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In a turn for the downright macabre, a female bath salts use was partially eaten after her indulgence in injecting bath salts generated necrotizing fasciitis (that’s bacteria eating you alive).

Above is true, below is humor.

Trying to exploit the trend, drug manufacturers are advertising the “piranha soak,” where patients indulge in bath salts while being eaten by actual piranha.  “Man, such a high!” said one recently created amputee.  “It’s like all that adrenaline from being eaten just mixes with the whole crazy paranoia and gibbering that the salts gives me.  It even beats the high I got getting hit by that semi a month ago.”

Medical personnel were vaguely supportive of the new trend.  “Currently it takes eight people to restrain a bath assaulter.  Two for each limb.  Fewer limbs means fewer personnel required per assaulter.”  Other assaulters had this to say:  “the devil man, the devil is in my head!”

Why anyone would want to inject or use this synthetic mix of amphetamines is beyond me.

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Tacoma Bridge Closes Due to Ice, Same Bridge Collapsed Before.

Vortex shedding behind a circular cylinder. Co...

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When you hear about a bridge, it is rare to think to yourself:  “hey, I know that bridge!”  Unless you’ve happened to live near the bridge or it’s an international landmark like the Golden Gate Bridge (or the punchline to a sucker joke, like the Brooklyn Bridge).  But the Tacoma Narrows bridge is famous among the geek set because it was the clearest large scale example of Tesla’s experimentation on resonant frequencies.  The wind blew just right to start the bridge resonating, or rocking, and kept blowing until the bridge collapsed.  In this footage, some idiot professor goes out onto the bridge (pipe in hand) to save an abandoned dog.  I think it’s fine that he saved the dog, I just think he shouldn’t smoke while doing it. 

Anyway, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is closed now because of ice.  I swear, you can never get a decent commute!

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It’s Official: You Have a Greater Chance of Dying In Your Bathroom Than On the Highway.

Pain or Nausea

Image by Michael @ NW Lens via Flickr

In a fairly stunning announcement, a national survey has found that prescription drugs are now more likely to result in accidents than driving your SUV in traffic.  If you are between 35-54, opioids are more of a problem than semis.  Mind you, many of these people were ingesting the opioids for recreational purposes, but many others just wanted pain relief.  No one was planning to die, so the deaths are accidental.

As this continues, I predict a new trend in safety campaigns.  Instead of “buckle up” it will be “snort? abort!”

Maybe we should combine driver’s safety with this new threat.  It certainly would make driver’s ed more interesting.  I can just see junior telling his buddy: “I can’t parallel part but I nailed the LD50 for Percocet!  (LD50 is a measure of how much of a drug will kill you.)

Of course, there’ll need to be changed for the driving exam.  “Left turns, right turns, calculate your toxicity level of oxycodone given intranasally based on body weight and approximate liver passage capacity.  Now do it when you’ve been drinking shots.”

In all seriousness, how serious does this issue have to be before we start getting educated about how much is too much?


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