Archive for Henry Niman

Broiler Explosion

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2013 by Rob Wallace

Broiler explosion8As early as the 1820s, high-pressure engines [on the Mississippi River] were technologically residual; they were dirtier and more dangerous than the low-pressure engines that were employed on steamboats elsewhere. They could, however, generate more power than low-pressure engines; they made it possible to run boats faster and harder–over sandbars, against the current, past the competition, and so on. They were also cheaper…That high-pressure engines were more likely to explode and faster boats more likely to sink when snagged were known risks, deliberately taken. Competition in the steamboat business spurred technological degradation rather than technological innovation. Danger was built into the boats. –Walter Johnson (2013)

A new influenza has spilled over from poultry in and around Shanghai. As of April 15, Chinese authorities have reported 60 human cases of H7N9 and 13 deaths. The most serious cases have suffered fulminant pneumonia, respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, multiorgan failure, rhabdomyolysis, and encephalopathy.

Virologist Richard Webby reports molecular adaptations suggesting the new variant is evolving toward human specificity. “This thing doesn’t any longer look like a poultry virus,” Webby said, “It really looks to me like it’s adapted in a mammalian host somewhere.”

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The Bug Has Left the Barn

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by Rob Wallace

Cary Grant His Girl Friday 2Hildy Johnson: [speaking to Walter on the phone] Did you hear that? That’s the story I just wrote. Yes, yes, I know we had a bargain. I just said I’d write it, I didn’t say I wouldn’t tear it up! It’s all in little pieces now, Walter, and I hope to do the same for you some day!
[hangs up emphatically]
Hildy Johnson: [to the other reporters] And that, my friends, is my farewell to the newspaper game.
–Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, His Girl Friday (1940)

On Thursday the local paper here published two articles the editors could never connect in a million years, even if it had occurred to them to do so. Think trying to stick together two powerful magnets of the same polarity.

The first—big headline on the front page, “FLU OUTBREAK RIVALS DEADLY 2009 PANDEMIC”—described a record 123 Minnesota children testing positive for flu at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, higher than the highest week during the 2009 outbreak.

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