Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 7th, 2011

Looks like the Black Death was bubonic plague after all

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There has been much (published) speculation that the Black Death was not bubonic plague carried by fleas on rats. For one thing, the Black Death’s advance was faster than rats can travel.

So there may have been another vector, because now it seems established that the Black Death was in fact bubonic plague, though not quite the variety of modern times. From New Scientist:

THE Black Death infamously wiped out about a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century, but until now there was no firm evidence that bubonic plague was the cause.

Some researchers have suggested that the epidemic was caused by a virus such as Ebola, but an analysis of DNA from a London plague pit seems to settle the argument in favour of the “plague” bacterium Yersinia pestis.

Hendrik Poinar at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues developed a technique to look for Yersinia DNA in the bones of Black Death victims. The task was made tricky because of the possibility of contamination, Poinar says. “When we extract DNA from the skeletons, we also get DNA from their environment.”

To pick out the signature of Y. pestis, Poinar’s team took …

The rest, alas, is behind their paywall—OTOH, I do recommend subscribing. Invaluable weekly publication for those interested in science. Things like the fact that microbes were already antibiotic-resistant long before we developed vaccines—or at least had the genes to convey immunity as needed:

IN THE beginning there was antibiotic resistance. Bacteria have been carrying antibiotic-resistance genes for far longer than humans have had medical antibiotics. This fact – long suspected, and now proved – suggests that any antibiotic drug derived from a natural source is doomed to a short effective life.

Most antibiotics are developed from toxic molecules produced naturally by bacteria or fungi. This has led microbiologists to suspect that genes conferring resistance to these molecules must be a natural part of many microbes’ genomes. Indeed, resistance genes have been found in bacterial samples taken from ancient sources such as permafrost. However, as with any study of ancient DNA, it has been difficult to prove that the samples are not contaminated with modern DNA.

Gerry Wright at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues thought they could settle the question with samples from unusually pristine permafrost in the Yukon territory …

Written by LeisureGuy

7 September 2011 at 6:12 pm

Posted in Medical, Science

Mushroom and nori soup

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This sounds delicious. I think I’ll make it tomorrow.

It’s really tasty. I also added:

2 oz rice noodles (for the starch)
3 oz firm tofu, cubed (for the protein: now it’s a meal)
dash cayenne

At the end, I stirred in 1-2 Tbsp dry sherry before serving.

An idea I had but did not do this time: 1/4 cup miso in lieu of 1/4 cup soy sauce. Also, thinly sliced scallions would be a nice garnish.

I hadn’t used celery in a while. It’s totally delicious in this soup.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 September 2011 at 4:39 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

Bee House Teapots

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I do love Bee House Teapots. I broke one and went to Whole Foods to get another, but their stock was very low, so ordered directly from Bee House. Good that I did: they have a much greater selection of sizes, colors, glazes, designs, and so on than Whole Foods could possible carry.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 September 2011 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life

“People are close to revolt”

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James Fallows collects more interesting responses to Lofgren’s valedictory, many from Republicans. These are worth reading because they reflect a growing mood in the country.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 September 2011 at 8:46 am

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

New Forest brush and Creamy Lather

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My brand-new New Forest brush (Finest Silvertip 2213) did a terrific job with the Klar Kabinett. I took my time loading the brush because it was new and I wanted to play with it, with the result that I did get a good Creamy Lather. It really does look different on the beard, and lies flat and close.

Three smooth passes with the Feather, including a small nick on the upper lip (thank you, My Nik Is Sealed), and a splash of Woods readied me to ready the apartment for the cleaning ladies. I did have to return to the soap in the third pass, but this is the very first use of this brush: out of the box and into the shave. I suspect its capacity will improve with use, and I expect to find out quickly because I do like the little guy.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 September 2011 at 8:37 am

Posted in Shaving

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