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Comment: Farmers != Farm Workers (Score 0, Troll) 120

The headline says farmers. The text says farm workers. Very much not the same thing. A farmer is the owner of the farm. A farm worker is generally a hired hand, often (though not always) a migrant, and if so typically from Mexico or farther south.

The story suggests that the multi-drug-resistant bacteria are the result of antibiotic treatment of the animals at the farm. This misses another possibility:

In Mexico, most antibiotics are over-the-counter, much like asprin here in the US. People who feel ill or have some infection often buy and take them. Typically they use them until they no longer show symptoms - then stop, rather than taking a full regimin and killing off all the bacteria. (Why take more of the non-free drug once the symptoms are gone? Waste of money, right?) This is a recipe for creating drug-resistant bacteria.

Of course if an infection is resistant to one antibiotic, a paitent is likely to try another, and another, and so on until they find one that works. THAT's a recipe for maintaining and improving the bug's resistance to the front line antibiotics while breeding resistance to others.

As a result, a substantial fraction of the workers arriving from south of the Mexican border are carriers of multi-drug-resistant baceria.

Meanwhile, a farming operation is likely to give a limited number of antibiotics continuously, so non-resistant infections are wiped out before they can develop resistance, and if they do develop resistance it will be to the particular drugs used, rather than the universe of antibiotics.

Of course, infected workers can infect livestock, just as livestock can infect workers. And infected workers can trade infections around, just as livestock can. (More so, since the livestock tends to be kept separated, to reduce both disease spread and breeding by unintended pairings, limitations that farmers can't impose on their workers - and would be unlikely to try even if they could.)

So it seems to me that responsible researchers would go a bit farther before reporting: Like by doing genetic testing on the strains of bug in the various workers and the livestock, and running models on the results to try to identfy whether the bugs are from the herd or the workers.

I don't see any such work alluded to in this popularized reporting. It seems to just assume that the bugs were developed on the farm and spread to the workers. I hope this is a disconnect between the actual research and the report, rather than an accurate characterization of the research.

Comment: Moo (Score 1) 2

by Chacham (#47899487) Attached to: Subscriptions Are Over ~ Busy Penguin

Too bad on the subscriptions. :( I'd be happy to give you a page view--if it were possible--for you to never use, and thus enjoy the subscription.

It's also neat that you just let them have the address. Let's hope they remember you when they become world famous. :)

I also have a few names that i want to use but am too lazy to. Maybe we can get another site: LDNHA (Lazy Domain Name Holders Anonymous). Um, and is HTM really a tag?

Comment: Especially: The paint. (Score 1) 113

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47895641) Attached to: Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

The gas bag itself was flammable; it wouldn't have mattered what gas was in it, when it disintegrated

In particular: The paint. It contained a mix of powdered aluminum and iron oxide pigments, in sufficient concentration to maintain a redox reaction.

You and I know this mixture as "thermite". It's really hard to get the reaction started - but an electric discharge can do it. (They tried to tether it with an electrical storm approaching. That would make one hell of a spark when the charged envelope comes near to connecting to the grounded mast - which is about when the fire started.) Once it's started, the reaction is essentially impossible to extinguish. The aluminum steals the oxygen from the iron oxide. The heats of formation of the two oxides differ so much that the energy released leaves the resulting elemental iron as an orange-glowing liquid and the aluminum oxide incandescent white-hot.

Comment: That is a misreading of the Supremacy Clause: (Score 4, Informative) 213

You are bound by the treaties your country signed.

Yes: You, and the states, and their courts, are bound by them (to the extent they are clear or were implemented by federal enabling legislation).

In fact, they have more legal weight in the US than laws passed by your own Congress.

NO! They have EXACTLY the same weight as federal law. Both treaties and federal law are trumped by the Constitution, and both are also creatures of Congress, They can be modulated, and destroyed (at least in how they are effective within the country) by congressional action.

The idea that they're any stronger or more permanent than federal legislation comes from a (very common) misreading of the Supremacy Clause:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

This says that the Constitution, Federal Law, and Treaties trump state law in state and federal courts. It says nothing about the relative power among the three.

The misreading is to interpret "all treaties made ... shall be the supreme law of the land ..." to mean that treaties effectively amend the constitution. This is wrong. You can see it by noticing the same kind of misreading also makes federal law equivalent to a constitutional amendment - which it clearly is not.

In fact the Supreme Court has spoken on the relation between the Constitution and treaties: In Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957), the Supreme Court held stated that the U.S. Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Treaties are abrogated, at the federal level, all the time, and there are a number of mechanisms for doing so.

Comment: The had them at least as far back as the '50s (Score 1) 275

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47881071) Attached to: California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

Now they have the guide printed on the box but I can remember when i was a kid they didn't.

Some off them had maps at least as far back as the '50s, and probably much further.

A classic was the "Whitman Sampler" - an assortment of their products with a handy map. In addition to being a tasty and relatively low-priced collection of their products, it let a family divide them up according to their individual preferences, and gave you the names of each, so you could (at least hypotheically) buy boxes of just the ones you like.

(I say hypothetically because I never saw boxes of the individual candies being carried in the stores that sold the samplers.)

Comment: Re:containment (Score 1) 296

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47872185) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

But regardless of the pressure, when the helium leaks out, it will not be displaced by air. It will leave behind a vacuum. The helium will leak out, but nothing will leak in to replace it.

(Except maybe hydrogen, but there's not much of that in your local air.)

So your metal parts vacuum-weld and tear themselves apart starting at the contacting surfaces, and adding lots of hydrogen to the air around the drives just makes the parts become brittle on their way to failure.

Comment: And the original AC is wrong. (Score 1) 174

What original AC is saying is that our current medicine doesn't resemble Star Trek style ... We drop blanket bombs into our bodies with the expectation that the evil bits will die a whole lot faster than the good bits, and by the time the evil bits are dead, the good bits are still in a good enough shape to regenerate.

No that is NOT what we do for practically anything but chemotherapy for most cancers (where the difference from normal tissue is very small - a few mutations in signaling systems) and the main difference is that being stuck in reproduction mode makes them somewhat less robust.

Antibiotics are all about targeting one or another chemical mechanism that has one form in the target organism when its equivalen has another - or is absent - in human tissue. There are a LOT of drugs that have been discovered or designed, and the collection consists of enormous numbers of "magic bullets" that each target just one, or a small set, of systems found in particular pathogenic lifeforms, with either negligible, or far lower, side-effects on other systems.

Sure many antibiotics hit a wide range of NON-human life - pathogens and others - because THEY share susceptable versions of the target system or contain systems that are strongly side-effected. Sure the doctors sometimes have to pick drugs with bad side-effects because those are the best choices they have. But the characterization of antibiotic and antiviral drugs as "blanket bombing" has been out of date for more than half a century.

Comment: Re:Taste like chicken? (Score 1) 107

Recent research has shown that chickens are the closest living relative of T. Rex.

Do you have a reference for the research?

If it's true that T.rex is closer to chickens than to pheasants, peafowl, and other Phasianinae, it would mean that the Phasianinae family dates back to before the K-T disaster.

This was all over the mainstream press last April. I was echoing their over-simplified characterizatoin of the research.

It's actually "closest living relative among the set of genetic databases they tested", I.e. chickens, sheep, etc. Chickens happened to be a bird they tested, with aminno acid sequences far closer to those of the collagen recovered from T. Rex - nearly identical, in fact, than those of things like mammals. So don't expect this to re-write taxonomy - or to mean that chickens were any closer - or farter - from T. Rex than their close relatives such as phesants.

Of course there's other evidence that birds were around well before T. Rex. So it may turn out that chickens are closer relatives to T. Rex than, say, bluebirds. (Or maybe bluebirds will turn out to be closer, once they're compared.)

Comment: Exactly. (Score 4, Informative) 55

... give the patient more time to produce his own antibodies. ... the experimental treatment used on some western patients is basically antibodies.

Right on both counts.

  - Much of why Ebola is so often fatal is that it produces a glycoprotein that interferes with immune system signaling, reducing and delaying the immune system's antibody-mediated specific responses. (Meanwhile the cell damage and foreign protein stimulate the GENERAL responses, which causes self-damage to the body and aids in spreading the infection.) Details on Wikipedia Keeping the virus population and the glycoprotien concentration down by supplying ready-to-go antibodies holds down cell death from infection, self-destruction, and signaliing interference, giving the immune system more time and ability to respond.

  - The drug in question is a mix of three monoclonal antibodies, manufactured by stock genetic engineering techniques.

Injections of extracted antibodies, or blood containing them, has a long history in medicine. They have been used against bacteria, viruses, and poisons such as snake venom. Typically they are made by extracting a blood fraction containing antibodies from an animal which has been recently immunized - and is currently hyper-reactive to - the target disease agent or venom. (This gets a load of mixed antibodies which is heavy with those specific to the target.) They may also be extracted from a human survivor of a disease of interest, or a human in general. (These you might hear being called "human imune globin" or "gamma globulin".)

Downsides include allergic reactions to the animal used (typically a horse) or person providing the globulin, infection with blood-borne diseases (such as Hepatitis C), and reaction against the patient by some antibody in the serum.

Antiseura fell out of use for bacteria with the rise of antibiotics (even for diseases, such as menningitis, where antiseurm treatment had higher success rates). Antiviral drugs and the rise of a number of human viral diseases are pushing it down in preference for viral disease treatments - though better blood tests for viral infections is improving its safety. Nothing, of course, has replaced it for antivenom. It's still used for things like Hepatitis A, Measles, rabies exposure, supplement for certain immune difficiencies, and modulating immune system rejection of liver transplants.

With both the rise of antibiotic and antiviral drug resistance and the development of monoclonal antibody culture (prodcing just the desired antibodies to a target on an industrial scale, with negligible risk of dangerous contamination), expect more use of antiseura in medicine - like this "new experimental ebola drug".

Meanwhile, using antibodies extracted from ebola survivors - or transfusions if a matching donor is available - is the same system and might work just fine. And the technology is simple and cheap enough to be available even in third world countries.

Of course you need to wait until the survivor has recovered enough to have built up antibodies and enough blood to spare. Ideally you should also wait until the virus has cleared. (For instance, with Ebola, semen remains infective for at least two months, so blood likely does. as well.) But if the patient is already infected and likely to die without treatment, that's not an issue.

If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.