Always look on the bright side of (the black) death…

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Personally I’ve always been quite partial to those beak masks worn by plague doctors. I thought they were quite stylish.

Plague doctors wore a mask with a bird-like beak to protect them from being infected by the disease, which they believed was airborne. In fact, they thought disease was spread by miasma, a noxious form of ‘bad air.’ To battle this imaginary threat, the long beak was packed with sweet smells, such as dried flowers, herbs and spices.

The modern surgical mask worn en masse on Japanese subways (for example) is infinitely less cool. When the time comes I’m opting for a more traditional look.

Oh… and apparently the time might actually be coming. Since… well… human beings continue to grind out the miles on their death march.

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Although having now read a little about this (on the internet, so standard disclaimers apply), this seems more like a good news/bad news kinda gig. The good news is that not all pathogens could survive being frozen and then reheated as the permafrost thaws.

Bad news is anthrax definitely can.

In fact in 2016 in Siberia, a twelve year old boy died and at least 20 people were hospitalized after being infected with anthrax.  The theory is that seventy five years ago there was a massive outbreak of anthrax among the local reindeer population and that one of these reindeer died, was covered in snow and muddy slush and remained intact in the frozen soil until a heat wave in 2016 exposed the carcass again as the permafrost thawed.

We’re not sure about a whole bunch of other pathogens.

Spanish flu RNA was found in the frozen tundra of Alaska. Small pox and bubonic plague also in Siberia. Scientists are not entirely sure if those can come back from the dead just yet.

Apparently the problem is that permafrost is, as you might imagine, layered. The more melting, the more older… and more deadly stuff could be uncovered further down. The newer stuff… while deadly, we might have some immunity or resistance going on… maybe. But the older stuff… *cue scary music*…

NASA scientists successfully revived bacteria that had been encased in a frozen pond in Alaska for 32,000 years. The microbes, called Carnobacterium pleistocenium, had been frozen since the Pleistocene period, when woolly mammoths still roamed the Earth. Once the ice melted, they began swimming around, seemingly unaffected.

To quote evolutionary biologists Jean-Michel Claverie

“Following our work and that of others, there is now a non-zero probability that pathogenic microbes could be revived, and infect us,” says Claverie. “How likely that is is not known, but it’s a possibility. It could be bacteria that are curable with antibiotics, or resistant bacteria, or a virus. If the pathogen hasn’t been in contact with humans for a long time, then our immune system would not be prepared. So yes, that could be dangerous.”

Scientists, ha ha, with their non-zero probability. Totally adding that to my daily vernacular.

Promethean

If there was an adjective to aspire to in life, Promethean would definitely be on my top five list. Even though I am unlikely to ever achieve such a hallowed attribute (of a noun). It is more plausible that I will end up with some lower tier determiner, like… damnable.  Or irksome. Still, better to achieve one of these than to have lived and not have achieved any adjectives at all…

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Promeathean –  acting like Prometheus, the Titan in Greek mythology, by being creative and original. An example of someone Promethean is a person who always rebels against just doing what everyone else is doing.

Prometheus was punished by the Gods for giving humans fire… they feared (correctly) that man would outgrow the gods.

To be fair, I don’t think I have Prometheus’s capacity for suffering. If my friend (Zeus) chained me to a rock (not even a particularly shady rock as I understand) and then had an eagle visit me everyday to tear out my liver and eat it… I’d likely get a petulant about the whole situation and probably somewhat acrimonious toward the pantheon generally.

But in an extraordinary display of (Nelson) Mandela-ism, Prometheus once freed from his torment by the irrepressible Heracles simply gets on with helping to save Olympus and generally, once more, trying to ingratiate himself with Zeus.

It’s all very stoic.

 

 

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For more misadventures and wayward interpretations of stoicism, as well as examples of paragons that are WAY better at this than me, you can find all my posts collated…

HERE

Adulting

Being a grown up and taking on the ‘responsibilities’ that are thrust upon you as time marches on to its inevitable conclusion is something I’ve taken up only under extreme duress! I’m pretty sure I’ve referred to myself as ‘adulting’ before… because well… to be completely honest I like to poke the apocalypse, if only to see what will happen. And (obviously) to annoy people like Joel Runyon blue tick.

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Besides is the apocalypse necessarily a bad thing? Sure we’ve attributed a lot of negative connotations to the word… but really, think of the benefits. No more taxes, Star Wars movie reboots or Network News. Okay, there might be the religiosity of the chaff being separated from the wheat and thrown into the eternal fire (personally I have my doubts) but besides that potential niggle I see mostly upside.

When does someone become an adult anyway? I don’t necessarily remember there being a formal event or ceremony? Some have recently argued this is one of the big problematic features in the world today… a lack of a ritualistic event where we are bequeathed responsibility and the moniker of adult and leave our childhood behind us, a point in time where we are taken from the field and yoked to the cart of life as it were.

I’m tend to channel Admiral Akbar on this (and probably on a lot of other things too)

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I’m not advocating a complete lack of responsibility or a surrender to the whims of chaos…. but I do tend to think we are a sum of our experiences, a progression as it were and this notion that we need to have a cut off date where we start ‘taking things seriously’ is a little silly.

…also intimating that I am somehow ‘less’ because I refer to myself occasionally as ‘adulting’… well, you are probably right. If only because adulting isn’t a real word. (I know this because its underlined in red)

Consider me admonished Joel Runyon blue tick. Vaguely I wonder what the corrective action for word crime is? Its probably something quite serious… like immolation or flagellation… or… eh… other words ending in -ation.

 

… discontinuation.

Introspection

‘Unstuck, unfucked and unleashed’ – The obstacle is the way, Ryan Holiday

I’ve decided to take my blogging a little bit more seriously (again). Almost like a grownup. Although there’s got to be something said for taking the blog of someone who just sprayed himself in the eye with screen cleaner seriously. In my defence it’s was quite difficult to see (now impossible) which way the nozzle was facing. Gently formulated to burn like matches. Who needs coffee when you can self medicate with a shot of Isopropyl* directly into your cornea every morning. Goddamn…

* noun. 1. of or denoting the alkyl radical —CH(CH3)2, derived from propane by removal of a hydrogen atom from the middle carbon atom.

I have no idea how to segue that opening into a coherent follow up paragraph. Until recently segue wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. Embarrassingly I used to think segue was spelled Segway and that it was a proper noun that became a verb. Like when you Xerox something. Do you keep the capital in situations like this? I sense someone rolling his or her eyes at me right now and getting all judgmental (and potentially getting ready to pen a sardonic comment). Still… I feel confident that I can recover and salvage a long meandering tirade from all of this… maybe.

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Stegosaurus used for scale.

I’m drinking white pomegranate tea. It’s supposed to be (super) healthy for you. But mostly it’s a hot drink substitute for coffee. I’m trying to cut down on my stimulant intake. I have this ideal concept of self where I exist in this perfect mindful state, free of extraneous influences. Its good to have goals… even if they are unlikely to be totally achieved or fully realized. Back when I was fighting regularly I’d start my day with two crushed up Ibuprofen chased with a Red Bull and a double espresso. And that was just to get myself out of bed and into the office. Usually by 10am or so I could feel the rotation of the planet and the gentle hum of the universe expanding at sixty nine kilometers per second.

I’ve come a long way since then, but recently I’ve found myself slipping and needing that caffeine crutch again. The problem is I really like coffee. I’m not a connoisseur by ANY stretch of the imagination… for the most part I like my coffee in a disposable cardboard cup with a plastic lid. I know, I’m espousing heresy on such a massive scale I should expect the inquisition banging at my door at any moment. ‘Hello, hello, hello… what’s all this then?’ (in my mind the inquisition is, and always will be, British)

I’m trying (and mostly failing) to drink one three coffee type drink(s) per day. (Trying being the operative word) For a while I made it bulletproof coffee. Instead of butter I’d use coconut oil. It’s supposed to do something cognitively for you. Then again I often imagine my mind like a hamster wheel. Only the hamster is dead. Fortunately the wheel hasn’t stopped turning just yet, so I can still dress and feed myself without missing my mouth. (Some might debate the latter) Coconut oil isn’t going to do anything for him anymore. The hamster I mean. Except maybe make him smell a little more tropical.

In any event if you’re going to continue reading this blog I need to warn you, that, broadly speaking the the quality of the writing here resembles the microbial bacteria that lives in the water, that collects in the little plastic container that holds your toilet brush, co-inhabiting this space with tiny bits of fecal matter. It will likely do nothing for you but nurture your misanthropy and potentially give you gastroenteritis of biblical proportions, the likes of which the sensitive skin around you rectum will never forget or forgive you for.

If you’ve made it this far I can only suggest to you that TODAY might be the day! Grab the emergency crucifix and load up that revolver with the silver bullets. You know just in case. Good luck out there. Take very few prisoners. And don’t touch the hand railing on the escalator. You may get hepatitis.

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George couldn’t help disliking Grandma. She was a selfish grumpy old woman. She had pale brown teeth and a small puckered-up mouth like a dog’s bottom – Georges Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. 

 

What a great line. (I’ve been reading Roald Dahl to my daughter before bedtime, I’d forgotten how awesome he is… was)

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‘I’m awake’. He blurted out to no none in particular. It should be noted that he was not, under normal circumstances, particularly inclined towards bouts of soliloquy. He was also not completely convinced that his opening statement was entirely accurate…. you know, when viewed in absolutes.

Joey is still waiting for that initial cup of coffee to form the first frail earthworks against the circadian rhythm that seems intent on wanting to de-platform him this morning. To the ramparts and fight my little caffeine molecules! Once more into the breach! (I feel they are becoming immune… or at least developing some form of reticence to my rousing speeches)

Although to be fair, perhaps I’m expecting too much. It feels like one of those days where I need to run one of those plastic aquarium hoses from the percolator, across the office, down the stairs and directly into to my abdominal caffeine port… that I’m going to have installed. (in the meantime I’ll just tuck it in behind my eyeball, where it will, hopefully, through osmosis saturate the spongy grey stuff to a point of sufficiency and general well being)

This is the first bit of cyborgery that actually makes sense to me. Given the choice between a Near-field-communication chip in my wrist bone and a direct infusion apparatus… hmm… weirdly cyborgery is not underlined in red. Oh wait… there we go. Bit of lag going on there.

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I am also (still) hungry. Another annoyance of this stupid human form.

I went snuffling around the refrigerator earlier. Like the cupboard of old mother Hubbard… it was bare*. Save for something deeply suspicious wrapped in tinfoil… that… I’m pretty sure… seems to have edged closer since last time I saw it…

*because Jo has already eaten everything else in a previous episode.

I was basically forced to raid the neighbors refrigerator.  And while this may seem like an admission of guilt… They have food. And a very porous border. (This could almost be a metaphor for something else)

Besides, they should know by now that an exceptionally Kunning (which is a lot like cunning, only with a capital K to denote the superior form of the adjective) individual lurks in the (general) vicinity and you need to take steps to safeguard your delicious edibles against pilferage. I’m actually helping them…

I was also kind enough to leave the empty Fruit Loops box on the counter, to remind them to buy more. (I didn’t have any post-its)

Don’t worry about me though. I should be fine. Just need to defrag my metaphorical hard-drive and I’ll be back to normal.

Please stand by.

 

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