Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Three Cheers to the Happy Holidays Being Over!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Now let's get on with it already. If you're like me you are probably really excited all that holiday fuss is over. Back to real life. Not fitting into your favorite jeans anymore, trying to match those lovely new shirts your grandmother gave you with the rest of your wardrobe and finally starting all those books you meant to read last year.

Also, if you are like me you are pretty obsessed with understanding the historical and societial significance of the periodic table and will really enjoy this great new book I recently discovered. Good Germs, Bad Germs by Jessica Synder Sachs. It goes into painstaking detail about the discovery of intestinal microflora, mutated strains of strep bacteria and much much more. I'm completely fascinated! I often squeal of excitement while reading it on the train. DC metro passangers have not been amused by my enthusiasm, let me tell you. I almost reached over to a uptight hill lobbyist with the snobby expression on his face and read him this thoughtful poem about body microflora:

A Very Happy New Year
to all for whom my ectoderm
is as Middle-Earth to me.

For creatures your size I offer
a free choice of habitat,
so settle yourselves in the zone
that suits you best, in the pools
of my pores or the tropical forests
of arm-pit and crotch,
in the deserts of my fore-arms,
or the cool woods of my scalp

Build colonies: I will supply
adequate warmth and moisture,
on condition you never
do me annoy with your presence,
but behave as good guests should,
not rioting into acne
or athlete's foot or a boil

WOW! W.H. Auden you are one poetic man of science!

Can you believe Scientific American magazine has not reprinted that thing of beauty every year since the story that inspired it was first published in 1969? Editors you have some work to do!!

But in all seriousness it really is a fascinating book and does go into some of the important historical moments in history and explains why we now have superbugs that are completely resistant to antibiotic. I haven't finished it yet, but it would be interesting to understand the cost benefit of pharmacuetical companies continuing to push the use of antibiotics that bacteria develop resistances to rather quickly thus making the entire R & D process, advertising, and drug pusher (i mean pharma reps) salaries a big ol' waste of money AND people still get sick.

The book also discusses why ingridents in cleaning products are actually making us sick. The bacteria we try to rid by using antibacterial gels/soaps are building up tolerances that then we can't kill when their cousins put us into the hospitals.

So . . . now that real life is back, you should take a gander.

Happy non-Holidays!

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