Birds still have flu, historical disease, and futuretech

I stayed up way too late watching Atlas last night. It wasn’t a great movie, or even a very good movie, but I was entertained all to heck. I admit, a lot of this is surely the fact I’m just in a HUGE JLo mood. Nothing has touched me this year quite like the sordid drama of This is Me…Now and The Greatest Story Never Told because they’re insane in just the way I love things to be insane. All I wanted was more of JLo being crazy-intense. She was so committed to Atlas! Nobody can say this woman doesn’t put her whole pussy into things.

Of course I am groggy this morning, which is a somewhat perpetual condition at the moment. I really have to get my sleep sorted out. I’m still taking daily naps, but now it seems to be preventing me from getting proper sleep at night — this was not the case when I was heavily cannabinated. The problem is that sleeping badly at night means that I want to nap, and then I don’t sleep great because I nap, and the cruel cycle continues.

It would help if I didn’t stay up late giggling over JLo in a mech suit, though.


I’m sorry to say we’re not done hearing about bird flu yet. The pathogenic H5N1 strain found in so many of America’s dairy cows is verified to have infected a second human. (The Guardian)

The new patient had mild eye symptoms and has recovered, US and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case on Wednesday afternoon. The worker had been in contact with cows presumed to be infected, and the risk to the public remains low, officials said.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested positive, “indicating an eye infection”, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time I heard that most infections are bringing about conjunctivitis, although I have to wonder *where* I heard that now. If there’s only two verified cases, how can we know anything about “most” infections? Anyway, that’s what I heard, but take it with a grain of salt.

Another strain of bird flu has popped up in Australia. (The Guardian) This is a different version — H7N3 — and it’s still in birds. They’re culling flocks en masse to prevent spreading.

The CDC has launched an effort to look for flu A in wastewater.

A new dashboard to monitor influenza A in wastewater across the country was launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week. It doesn’t track H5N1 specifically, but the highly pathogenic avian influenza variant is part of the flu A family.

The dashboard helps identify hotspots in the US where flu A is surging – and, since flu rates among people are low this time of year, such a surge can alert scientists and the public to potential outbreaks of H5N1.

Note that all my sources here are from The Guardian, which is a UK-based news agency. I’d ask “Why aren’t I getting more info about this from American sources?” but the answer seems obvious: they don’t want the dairy industry to take a hit, they don’t want people freaking out, and it’s possible folks just don’t *want* to know about it. We’re broadly coping with COVID by pretending it didn’t happen (and isn’t happening) as much as possible.

It’s good that the CDC is sharing this information, though.

An oped on Al Jazeera English pins the problems with drug shortages and superbugs upon so-called “Big Pharma’s focus on profit.” I gotta say, it’s increasingly obvious how healthcare should be entirely nonprofit. We need to find ways to make that happen for everyone’s sake.

This is all rather frustrating, but it’s important to remember how much humans have progressed in the span of time. A lot of bubonic plague was probably spread by body lice. (Smithsonian Mag) It’s unlikely we’d have a pandemic with body lice as the primary vector at this point, thanks to modern hygiene standards in urban spaces and among individuals. I’m pretty sure we have rad drugs that can take care of that too.

And we’re looking at theories that viruses may have been a factor in eliminating Neanderthals as a distinct species. (Smithsonian Mag)


My teenager wants to get away from Earth on account of all the humans. Can you blame them? I sure can’t. Maybe we can go check out this Venus-sized planet orbiting a red dwarf forty light years away. (Quartz) Its temperatures are said to be quite similar to Earth’s, but we don’t know if it has an atmosphere or liquid water yet.

Forty light years is still a lot, but we’re working on warp drive concepts. Here’s a new one that wouldn’t get us to FTL speeds. (Ars Technica) The idea requires some exotic matter to basically scrunch up space in front of the ship and extend it behind the ship, thus moving spacetime, but not the vessel itself.

This isn’t a particularly exciting concept, but it’s novel, and there’s nothing about our understanding of the universe which limits this as a possibility. Which means progress if you ask me!

In the meantime, humans are still blowing up a lot of conventional rockets. A SpaceX test recently made a very impressive fireball. (Quartz)


Texas is being totally slammed with mosquitoes in the wake of climate-related floods. (The Guardian) I am not sure if mosquitoes are an issue with the UK, but they’re getting way more rain from climate change too. (The Guardian) Mosquitoes are a common disease vector, so this is more than just a nuisance.

Decarbonizing is critical to reversing the human impact on climate change, and humans are really advancing alternate energy sources. We’ve found that we get more useful energy out of renewable sources than we do fossil fuels et al. (Ars Technica) And we’re trying out a kind of solar receiver that involves heating quartz crystals to 1000 degrees Celsius (Quartz), which could help us reduce our carbon output in various ways.

If you’re feeling anxious about the climate crisis, then Psyche has an article on how to cope with that.

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