Is Ebola Vaccine-Resistant?

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , on November 20, 2015 by rgwallace

Ebola vaccine 1The Freudian unconscious also has a formal aspect and is not merely a matter of content: recall the cases where Freud interprets a dream so that what is repressed/excluded from its content returns as a feature of the form of the dream…the true secret of the dream is not its content…but the form itself. –Slavoj Žižek (2014)

News of Ebola in West Africa is ping ponging between joyous declarations the outbreak is over to abashed announcements of its return.

One is reminded of the Onion‘s farcical September 1939 front page: “WA-“. Both a denouement denied and, in the other direction, the return of the repressed.

Our group’s latest commentary, just published online in the International Journal of Health Services, a review and extension of previous work, proposes an explanation for the never-quite-ending outbreak,

[R]egional neoliberalism may affix the stochastic ‘friction’ of ecological relationships imposed by the forest across populations, which, when above a threshold, keeps the virus from lining up transmission above replacement. Export-led logging, mining, and intensive agriculture may depress such functional noise, permitting novel spillovers [across species] larger forces of infection. Mature outbreaks, meanwhile, can continue to circulate even in the face of efficient vaccines.

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The Red Coates

Posted in Ecological resilience, Organic agriculture, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2015 by rgwallace

It’s been something of a mystery to me the extent to which so many white people are personally offended black people are objecting to being stopped and killed by police.

Of course it’s about oppression–each murder serves as a message to black and white communities alike–but where is the line of logic that makes the action an argument, however absurd?

Even the possibility of deescalating a confrontation with a clearly discombobulated Jeremy Dole in his wheelchair earlier this week, captured in the video above, is waved away in favor of a public execution on the streets of Wilmington, Delaware. A firing squad is repeatedly the default response.

As Alain Badiou on the Paris Commune persuasively argues, what happens out on the street is philosophy in practice.

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Eating the Brown Acid

Posted in Ecological resilience, Organic agriculture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2015 by rgwallace

paintingThe surrealism packed in Stephanie Strom’s piece on a new ractopamine-free label the USDA approved turns the newsprint into blotting paper.

Ractopamine hydrochloride, developed under the Dickensian proprietary name of Paylean, is a beta-agonist given to up to 80% of U.S. hogs. It mimics stress hormones, adding muscle weight on less feed.

Greenwashing amok, Eli Lilly, which originally developed the drug as an asthma treatment for humans, argues in reducing the feed used, ractopamine lowers the carbon footprint of the livestock industry.

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Happy Labor Day!

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2015 by rgwallace

Batman barbacueFrom which Hegelian delusion do you suffer? Are you a Beautiful Soul who deplores the world’s wicked ways while actively reproducing them? Do you follow the Law of the Heart and as a self-proclaimed savior resort to paranoid constructions to explain why the greater world doesn’t follow your expectations?

Or do you enjoy one or both fallacies because each imbues even a life of inquiet desperation with meaning?

Can precepts underlying such disassociations be simultaneously false in the abstract and entirely necessary in the concrete? How else can we change the world save starting as the people we are now? Surely any Cabralian betrayal that follows is the righteous path?

Do you all-out reject both delusions as hideously bourgeois instead — fake meat on a fake holiday — however much you might embody them? Or, back hard in the other direction, are such dialectical gaps the very means by which to overcome the injustices that produced them? Are our hypocrisies — falling on our faces into something new — the way out?

Do such trepidations evaporate upon a revolution right or wrong? Does revolution begin only when enough of the prevalent dread cooks off into conscientisation? Do we prols arrive at such equanimity, however tenuous, when we suddenly recruit each other as active participants of a shared history?

This Bitter Earth

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2015 by rgwallace

The most turgid of radicals have ripped liberals for aestheticizing injustice at the expense of struggling against it. The dig — beating the Adornian plowshare into a fundamentalist sword not out of place in Palmyra — isn’t unconditionally untrue. But try laying that line on Boots Riley or Nina Simone.

Here the pop chanteuse Charlotte Church takes part in Greenpeace’s daily vigil outside Shell headquarters in London — a month-long ‘Requiem for Arctic Ice’. Church, presented here borderline White Lady Jesus, sings Dinah Washington’s adaptation of ‘This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight’.

And bitter it is. NASA reported earlier today it had revised its estimates of sea level change by century’s end: three feet, with ten feet in the century to follow a distinct possibility. As Caroline Reid frames it,

One of the contributors to sea level rise is the melting of ice sheets. The biggest is the Antarctic ice sheet, which covers an area of almost 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles) and is larger than the United States and India combined. Over the last decade, it has shed an average of 118 gigatons of ice a year – no small amount of water. Smaller, but by no means less important, is the Greenland ice sheet. Covering a more modest 1.7 million square kilometers (660,000 square miles), it has actually shed almost three times as much ice over the last decade as the Antarctica sheet – 303 gigatons a year on average.

Appealing to the hearts of Shell executives is an utter waste of time, save as a feint for a different audience, but there is expanse enough in a resistance movement to mourn and organize. Might we still find honor in a revolutionary Sehnsucht?

Palmer and Patterson and Possibility

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 29, 2015 by rgwallace

Palmer and PattersonSetting ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ against Walter Palmer and ‪#‎CeciltheLion‬ is a failure of strategic imagination.

There are, of course, important differences that can’t be overemphasized. Otherwise we end up confounding the murders of humans and animals. But both cultural moments clearly speak to the nature of white privilege.

Racism and ecological expropriation aren’t orthogonal to each other. Indeed, Cecil’s death can be connected to land grabbing and deforestation across Africa straight out of John Henry Patterson. Which last I heard has something to do with black lives.

And if it takes a dead lion to move millions of perhaps misguided people out of a carefully cultivated metaphysics of isolated individuality into a more empathetic framework, I’ll take it. An ethos of mutual aid and solidarity isn’t necessarily going to come out of reading Kropotkin alone.

We’d do well to begin to be open to the aleatory nature of political circumstance. People arrive at the right idea by many a strange path. Continue reading

Poultry of Minerva

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, HIV, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by rgwallace

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Peter Shea, the Bill Moyers of the Twin Cities, for The Bat of Minerva show.

What began as a kind of intellectual portraiture, in which we explored how I got studying the evolution of infectious disease, spiraled into about as broad a thesis on the nature of disease and agriculture and prospects for a just future as I have compiled in one place to date.

The reason–and there is a reason–we talked in such a noisy place is revealed halfway through the interview.

For those night owls out there–or nocturnal bats or poultry off their counter-seasonal photoperiods–the show will be broadcasted locally Sunday midnight (Saturday night) on Metro Cable Network/Channel 6


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