Microbiome being hacked away by antibiotics

The antibiotics that could kill you

I talk about the dangers associated with antibiotics from time to time, this is an opinion piece that sort of wraps things up, but in a more personal nature. I am now pretty much against taking antibiotics except in serious life threatening situations; first I have read a number of studies that indicates that in some of cases where they are prescribed there is no measureable benefit (e.g., ear or sinus infections). Second, I have personally have had long-term discomfort after taking antibiotics (I had the runs for over 6 months once) and according to my math, another day or so of discomfort with the infection is well worth the sacrafice to avoid all those hours sitting on the toilet.

As the article discusses, we are ripe for a global pandemic that has the potential to wipe out huge chunks of our population (though not enough, I am quite certain, to change, even slightly, our environmental destroying trajectory). Given the abuse we have been putting on antibiotics (and the few antivirals) when we need them they will be of no value. Sadly, I am sure, the coming pandemic will take out people largely equally (though the wealthy will, of course, get preferential treatments, I doubt they will have any better luck buying their way out of antibiotic resistance than the poor), which means the geniuses as well as the morons.

Of course, much like solar flares or impacts from comets, there is no way to predict when it will happen with any usefulness, so it is just sit around and either cower in fear, continue as usual or potentially waste a huge amount of resources (a la ‘preppers’) for something that might not even happen in your lifetime.

Tamiflu is a billion-dollar boondoggle

Updated Review: Tamiflu Is a Bust
After finally getting their hands on full clinical study reports, independent reviewers say the antiviral drug is ineffective.

I mentioned Tamiflu and its uselessness when I complained about the uselessness of the flu vaccine, it seems like further study has only confirmed this:

An international team found that while Tamiflu might reduce the duration of flu symptoms by half a day, there’s no evidence that it reduces hospital admissions or complications of an infection. On top of that, the antiviral’s side effects include nausea and vomiting. “There is no credible way these drugs could prevent a pandemic,” …

Predictably, Roche (the developer) had this to say:

Roche stands by the utility of Tamiflu. “We fundamentally disagree with the overall conclusions” of the review, the company told MedPage Today. And others have said that the results don’t necessitate an end to stockpiling the drug. Sabrina Spinosa of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which approved the use of Tamiflu in 2002, told Nature that the agency had reviewed the same clinical trial reports. “The review does not raise any new concerns,” she said, adding that the EMA maintains its position on the risks and benefits of Tamiflu.

Move over military industrial complex, the pharmaceutical industrial complex is now the boss!


How America is rigged for the rich

This is kind of a ‘retweet’. I think this is important for the health and welfare of our nation, though I figure the rich have such a lock on things their hold is unbreakable. I would love to be wrong (I would love to be rich also), but I don’t have a lot of faith in my fellow sheeple. A couple of key paragraphs to encourage my regular reader(s) to take a look:

Contrary to myth, most of today’s plutocrats are not the kind of Steve Jobsian visionary risk-taking entrepreneurs or superstar celebrities. The .01%, for instance, tend overwhelmingly to be high-end corporate managers and executives, particularly on Wall Street, operating in interlocking networks that inflate the standard of what an executive is “worth.” Or they are the heirs of the great entrepreneurs (4 of the 10 richest Americans are children of Sam Walton), inheritors of fortunes of which it can truly be said, “someone else built that.”

Today, as it was during the last Gilded Age, the concentration of wealth gives the rich the political clout to further concentrate their wealth. (And now, as then, the Supreme Court greases the skids in the name of “liberty”). This clout is wielded in plain sight now, without any pretense of civic equality. And it calls to mind the warning attributed to Justice Louis Brandeis: “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

This isn’t to suggest that all super-wealthy people are “welfare kings” (they’re not) or to imply that they have a monopoly on selfishness or sociopathic attitudes (they don’t). Yet if it’s unfair to paint everyone in the 1% with the same unflattering brush of “dysfunctional culture,” isn’t it far worse to do the same to the poorest 20%?

If you have noticed a problem with my blog recently, let me apologize. It seems somehow people (or bots) were using my defunct forum (http://sol-biotech.com/cgi-bin/waxology/YaBB.cgi) to send spam and that was triggering some zombie processes which sucked up the available processes (my web servers are on a shared resource) which lead to defective presentations. I killed the zombies and disabled any ability to mail from the forum (at least I hope so), so ideally this won’t be an issue going forward.

Regarding my job search, it continues… I have some positive leads (I had a good interview yesterday at a company that promises an ACID compliant cloud database) and have another one tomorrow for an IC job. A couple of other things percolating: a wee bit of part-time work that might look good on my resume (one is for helping a guy with his stock trading platform and another to provide some expert opinions regarding computer architecture and performance) and a couple of promising contacts from recruiters. I have been working on my blubber reduction by going for walk/jogs most days (did 7 miles on Tuesday, didn’t even stop the whole time (which just shows how out of shape I have been in)), but still haven’t got my ass programming the game. Though I really have been busy with the job search, it generally is taking me anywhere from 2-6 hours a day (highly variable) and I have a couple of hours dedicated to too-ing and fro-ing the boy to school.

On my walk the other day I actually failed to notice most of the unfolding nature because I was deep in my noggin doing feasibility calculations for some osmotic energy ideas I have been thinking about the last couple of years. I think it might be possible to get a decent (20%+) return on capital building such a system, at least I am sure enough I believe I will start up a spreadsheet and start doing some in-depth economic research to get better information.

We primed the walls/ceiling of the pavilion last weekend, but it was so cool (around 50 F) that it didn’t dry fast enough for us to put the paint on. That is our goal for this Sat, then lay the floor, then things will really start to take shape when we put the cabinets in. It is finally getting exciting to go out each weekend, though sometimes a bit depressing when we only get half the stuff done we were hoping to. At least I can see the end…

Updated construction website

I finally got off my butt and updated our construction web site. Last weekend we were hoping to prime/paint the pavilion, but, once again it took longer than expected to put the finish coats of spackle and sand, so it will be next weekend. Anyway, the main site is here:


The specific new page is here:


I still have a few leads on the job search, but most positions are awaiting feedback which can sometimes take quite a while. My poor wife is all stressed out, but I am having a great time. I had a small nibble on my DNA work, hopefully I will know in the next week or so if it will lead to something. I am going to try to turn my focus on to the game and take advantage of this time off to get the thing playable. Even though I have been off for three weeks (as of today), I have had an amazing number of things keeping me from working on the game. I believe I have all the distractions (except for job search) behind me now…