Pixel Scroll 8/2 Something Pixeled This Way Comes

It’s a party. It’s a dog party! But don’t drink the punch. That’s the advice in today’s Scroll.

(1) Well, that was brutal. HitchBOT the hitchhiking robot met its fate in Philadelphia.

The now-destroyed robot hails from Port Credit, Ontario. It completed a successful 26-day journey in 2014 in which it “traveled over 10,000 km from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia.” Then in early 2015, hitchBOT moved onto a 10-day German adventure, followed by a three-week jaunt in the Netherlands.

Three countries. Zero incidents. But once hitchBOT made it stateside, it didn’t even make it past the Mason-Dixon line before getting the wiring kicked out of him.

Buzzfeed linked to a vlog recorded in Philly made during hitchBOT’s final hours.

This video from YouTubers BFvsGF shows them discovering hitchBOT Friday night. The researchers said the vloggers are the last known people to have seen hitchBOT.


(2) Nichelle Nichols may wind up the Star Trek cast member who came closest to reaching outer space, all despite her recent health setbacks.

The actress who played Lt Uhura in Star Trek is to blast off on a mission for US space agency NASA aged 82 – and three months after suffering a stroke.

Nichelle Nichols, who has been an ambassador for NASA since portraying the groundbreaking character in the 1960s, will fly on the SOFIA space telescope in September.

While the telescope – housed in a specially converted Boeing 747 – doesn’t quite go to the final frontier, it makes it as high as the stratosphere, around 50,000 above the Earth.

(3) Numerous features of Pluto and Charon are being given names from science fiction and fantasy. Kowal Crater on Pluto, just north of the right side of the heart, is not named for Mary Robinette Kowal (which would have been cool), but rather Charles T. Kowal, who discovered a new class of object in the solar system (centaur asteroids, which cross the orbits of major planets).

Showalter told BuzzFeed Charon is the first solar system body to have features named after geography and characters from both Star Wars and Star Trek. Darth Vader got a dark rimmed crater, while Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker both got lighter-rimmed craters.

Doctor Who is well-represented. Gallifrey, the home planet of the Time Lords in Doctor Who, is intersected, fittingly, by a chasm named Tardis, the Doctor’s time machine and space ship.

On the Star Trek side of things, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Lt. Uhura, Lt. Sulu, and the Vulcans all get shout-outs in Charon.

“We felt strongly as a mission team that we stood on the shoulders of giants,” Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, told BuzzFeed Science, and that they needed to “honor the missions and the engineers and scientists who figured out how to do space exploration, because we could have never pulled off New Horizons without their experience.”

(4) Some of you should plan on going to Pluto – in person! That’s Brad Torgersen’s recruiting pitch on Mad Genius Club today.

Okay, kids, wake the hell up. I know you’ve been sitting in those desks since zero-four-hundred, wondering what the hell is going on, but never forget that you volunteered to be here. Nobody is making you do this. If you want to, you can go directly out that door in the back of the room, call your mommy or your daddy to come pick you up, then go home to your comfy little beds . . . No?

Right. Good. Now, pay attention. This is your official inprocessing brief.

A few days ago, the New Horizons probe did a close fly-by of the (dwarf) planet Pluto. Did you see the news? The pictures? I know, Pluto kinda gets lost in the shuffle — what with all the politicized, hyperbolic, narrative-laden bulls*** they cram into your brains all day. If it’s not the snooze news, it’s social media — where the way you change the world is by clicking your mouse, then giving yourself a hug. Because you care so much. No, don’t bother denying it. You’re children of your era, I know that’s how the game works. Virtue-signaling. Slacktivism. Never get your hands dirty.

Well, be prepared to get some soil under your nails, boys and girls. Because Pluto is where we’re ultimately headed. And beyond. Not with robots. But with human beings.

(5) The Radchaai do not believe in coincidences, and neither does Lou Antonelli.

(6) Inside Out – How It Should Have Ended.

(7) Hugo voting has closed and here is John Scalzi’s valedictory to the Puppy movment.

It does seem to me that the all the Puppy bullshit ran down and out of steam there at the end; at a certain point there was nothing left to say, there was just the voting, and you voted or didn’t. The last bit of nonsense I saw from the Puppy environs was some of their nominees rage-quitting the Hugos and deciding to “No Award” themselves, and at least one of them saying that was the plan all along, because apparently when you have no idea what you’re doing, every outcome, no matter what it is, is a victory condition. At which point you just roll your eyes, pity the sad and meaningless sort of existence where being the turd in the punch bowl is a legitimate life goal for a presumably adult human, and move on.

Doesn’t “Floating in the punchbowl” scan about the same as “rolling on the river”? I won’t take that idea any farther…

[Thanks to Steven H Silver and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

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292 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/2 Something Pixeled This Way Comes

  1. Re: Torgersen weirdness

    I got the impression that he was just trying to shoehorn his political diatribe into a hackneyed ‘tribute’ to Bob Heinlein. Here’s a clue for you Brad. I grew up on Bob Heinlein. My first SF book was Space Cadet (unless it was Norton’s Star Rangers, in which case Bob was second). You, sir, are no Bob Heinlein.

    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny

    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin

    3. FOOL’S RUN
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip
    Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
    I just can’t. Tie.

    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin

    3. FOOL’S RUN
    Small Gods, Terry Pratchett

  4. Brad Torgersen:

    “That poofy s***.”

    Back from all the poofy people in the Pride Parade to see that Torgersen is back to his homophobia. Depressing. I had such hopes about him after his post on equal marriage. Well, I think his logic should be a bit different:

    If you contiunue to be an asshole unto others, you should never be picked for a space mission.

  5. sez Cat on August 3, 2015 at 6:14 pm:

    It occurs to me that if I were to write a story that included a character like Brad, he wouldn’t be believable. Surely, my readers would say, nobody could be so completely unselfaware. It must be my prejudice against conservatives that makes me write such things!*

    The problem with characters for stories is that they have to be believable, which is more difficult that being someone who could actually exist.

    Yep. This is a special case of the general rule Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense.

  6. Someone pointed out that the oldest humans alive today were around when the Wright Brothers made their first flight, and we just buzzed Pluto, for god’s sake.

    My grandmother was born in the mid-1880s, and died after the first shuttle flight. She went from horse-and-buggy travel to transcontinental jets. That’s a lot of change right there. (Her oldest daughter was born in the mid-1910s, and is still alive – birthday tomorrow, in fact.)

  7. Happy birthday and huzzah to PJ Evans’ aunt.

    On the subject of living through an amazing span of time, my grandfather used to say that he remembered watching men replace the gas street lamps on his block with electric ones when he was a boy and as an older gentleman he had the opportunity to meet the Apollo 11 astronauts. He believed that he was among the luckiest of men to have lived in the 20th Century.

  8. @James Nicoll:

    people don’t particularly want to move to the North West Territories and the NWT is much, much friendlier to human life than any other location in the Solar System.

    Any other location? Even, say, Hawai’i?

  9. @Ray Radlein

    Especially Hawaii. You could be walking around minding your own business and *boom* a volcano will just jump up out of nowhere and try to bite you. You’d think they’d pass a leash law or more people would send their volcano to obedience school but nooooooo.

  10. I myself am pessimistic about our chances. But then again, I’m old, and that’s really the function of people beyond a certain age, and of a certain personality, to say “Yep. It’s all going downhill from here.” Maybe part of it is my accommodating the fact that I don’t have too much time left.

    The again, back in 84, my 19 year-old self knew that we weren’t going to make it to 1989. I did desultory survival preparation, but I knew that between Vandenburg and the electronics plants in Goleta, Santa Barbara was going to be a radioactive dead zone. I lived for years with the Sword of Damocles over my head. So honestly, the last 26 years have been gravy.

    Maybe we’ll go the way of the Nabateans, or the Minoans, or the Maya or the Ankor. Or we may be lucky and be one of the civilizations that pass something down. Either way, I think my generation is getting old enough that we won’t be the ones to make the final decision.

  11. @Rose:

    I live a few miles away from both a nuclear power plant and a dam that provides significant hydro power, in a city known as a transportation hub and, now, a place with one of the highest internet speeds in the country. We’re probably not on any primary hit list – although at least one city two hours away is, and possibly two more within that radius – but I’d be surprised if we’re lower than tertiary. If it did turn out that my city isn’t on an old nuclear strike list, my bet is that they figured the fallout from the other sites would do the job without wasting a warhead.

    Culturally, this is a cross between The South and Flyover Country, but take out that dam and poison the river, and the whole region gets screwed…

  12. Brad Torgersen: “We should be more like the people who commited genocide against countless native peoples.”

    How about no?

  13. A bit of off-bracket support was given for The Broken Sword, Vulcan’s Kittens, and The Paladin. And for the on-bracket results …

    WINNER: The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle – 32
    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny – 31
    I recounted this one. Twice. Beagle comes from behind to pull off the upset! In the battle of unicorn vs. unicorn, the unicorn wins.

    WINNER: The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin – 43
    Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner – 15
    This is a relatively good showing against Le Guin, and Kushner probably would have done well in earlier rounds. But to no one’s shock, Le Guin moves forward.

    WINNER: Small Gods, Terry Pratchett – 37
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip – 21
    Riddle-Master did even better against Small Gods, and very much on par with the Small Gods / Watership Down match of the previous round. But it’s Pratchett in the final three.

  14. Jayn

    I’m all for hope springing eternal, but had you bothered to look at what the World Health Organisation, as well as the national medical organisations, have to say on the matter you would have realised that your observations are not founded on fact, unless, of course, you are also convinced that global warming isn’t a problem either, in which case nothing in the way of facts will make any difference.

    The World Health Organisation has, of course, determined that antibiotic resistance is on a par with global warming in terms of the threat to humans and our culture. One result will be that surgery will only be performed when people are so ill that they will die immediately without that surgery, and in those cases a hefty chunk of them will die from infection anyway.

    Women will die from infections after childbirth, just like they used to, and, speaking from the experience of almost dying that way, I can assure you that it’s really not fun. The number of people dying from cancer will vastly increase because all cancer therapies reduce immune response, and once we no longer have functional antibiotics to treat the infections resulting from that then people will die.

    I could go on, and on, but I think that’s a sufficient sample to demonstrate the nature of the threat…

  15. At the risk of stepping so far back that I trip over something and make a Mr Bean spectacle of myself, it seems to me that the worst case of antibiotic resistance is that we’ll be back to where we were before penicillin. It’s going to be bad in that a lot of people with present access to antibiotics are going to die — I myself would probably be dead from the pneumonia I picked up a couple of years ago — but that isn’t even going to destroy civilisation, let alone the human race. We had a civilisation in the nineteen thirties, so I’m told, one that that seems directly related to our present one, though the archaeological records are scant (doesn’t this wire recorder even have USB1? SCSI?).

    It’s a slow-motion disaster, but it’s not The End. Nobody’s going to fight a war over the dwindling supplies of effective antibiotics. Whereas global climate warming change is a slow-motion disaster that’s going to result in a lot of people trying to take other people’s stuff as coastal regions flood, monsoons fail, droughts and famines cause millions to seek food, water and shelter elsewhere. That’s already testing the values of our so-called civilisation. Are you folks in the Mid-West really prepared for the millions of Californian refugees that are going to spill across your borders when their water monopoly empire collapses?

  16. I was under the impression that the big improvements in public health came with things like clean water, proper sewage treatment, understanding the principles of quarantine, sterile surgical technique and so on.
    Which is not to say antibiotics aren’t important–but I don’t think the increase in death rates will bring down civilization.

    Also, if I were sending people into space, people bubbling with resentment and prone to paranoid conspiracy theories would not be my first choice.

  17. NelC

    Back to the thirties would be wonderful, but unfortunately not. We have devoted much time and effort to ensuring that bacteria are a lot nastier than they used to be, and sadly it worked. Hospitals are excellent places for producing really, really nasty strains of bacteria; what scares microbiologists is that those really, really nasty strains are killing people in the community who have no history of being anywhere near a hospital or a hospital patient.

    The human community is, of course, vastly bigger than it was in the thirties, providing far more opportunities for opportunistic pathogens; the same thing applies to the animal population, packed into factory farms. That means the end of cheap protein, and protein is what people need to tackle bacterial and viral infections, along with extra calories; I noted previously that my diet bears no resemblance to a ‘healthy diet’ which theoretically applies to other people.

    You are also overlooking the social consequences of going from ‘medicine will fix it’ to ‘oh, shit I’m going to die’; the history of western medicine has been predicated on the assumption that it will get better and better, and for three hundred years it has. The end of the antibiotic era will overturn that aspect of the Enlightenment world view; no rational person could view the collapse of medicine as getting better. The expectations which are based on modern medicine are pervasive, and they are particularly high in the richest countries; worrying about rising sea levels somewhere a long way away is very, very different to suddenly discovering that you are no longer lord of all you survey, and that you are going to have to get used to it…

  18. Cat

    I think you would get a better grip on this if you read the World Health Organisation papers on this; I don’t know which country you live in but most of them will also have their own papers on it.

    With all due respect, I think they are better qualified than you are on the question of the consequences of antibiotic resistance…

  19. Shambles, thank you so much for the Adam Savage/Chris Hatfield video. I’m doing my small part toward helping it go viral….

  20. Your welcome ! I wish I had spelled his name correctly .. Hadfield not Hatfield .. sorry Chris I realized it too late.

  21. Kyra: Sequel?!!!

    *searches* Huh, so that totally escaped my attention. I’ve only been sampling McKillip’s output irregularly for a while now, so although I can recall having seen Solstice Wood, I did not pick up on it being a sequel (nor do the ISFDB or Wikipedia list it as such), and so I was totally oblivious.

    Why didn’t they plaster “the sequel to” all over its cover?! …I guess I know which book I’m going to be ordering tomorrow on my customary lunchtime amble over to the bookstore. Thank you ever so much for bringing it to my attention! 🙂

  22. Aan, just to let you know —

    – It is a sequel in the sense of “set in the same world as / makes reference to the events and characters of” rather than being a direct continuation.

    – I liked it (quite a bit!), but not to the same degree I loved Winter Rose.

    This isn’t a disrecommendation by any means, I just didn’t want you to expect it to be an “and then, a few months later” kind of sequel.

  23. Thanks for the note. 🙂 I’m not going in expecting too much; the thing for me about Winter Rose is pretty hard to equal in any case…. I considered the work pretty “average” while reading, and only grew to realize how much I’d loved it when two months later it was still lingering – nay, loitering! – in my mind.

  24. @Stevie
    “I’m all for hope springing eternal, but had you bothered to look at what the World Health Organisation, as well as the national medical organisations, have to say on the matter you would have realised that your observations are not founded on fact, unless, of course, you are also convinced that global warming isn’t a problem either, in which case nothing in the way of facts will make any difference.”

    Please don’t equate me with a climate change denier, especially not based on a WHO document you’re not citing, so that I can’t read it and see whether it actually substantiates your “antibiotic resistance is as dangerous to humanity as global warming” narrative. It’s just insulting.

    As for the dangers of antibiotic resistance – what NelC said. Life will be more difficult, more people will die that would have been easily cured and that will be horrifying. But civilization muddled along before antibiotics were invented in the 1930’s, and can continue to do so. It is IMO not at all comparable to the widespread famine global warming heralds.

    As for: “Back to the thirties would be wonderful, but unfortunately not. We have devoted much time and effort to ensuring that bacteria are a lot nastier than they used to be, and sadly it worked.” Yes, it worked, if you define “nastier” as “antibiotic resistant.” It means that treatments that have worked for decades no longer work. It does not mean that these resistant germs would kill more people than their nonresistant counterparts if you took them back to 1929 and set them loose. Bacterial diseases will come back we haven’t seen in decades, and they will be bad; scarlet fever, bacterial meningitis, I’m not downplaying it. But we have no reason to believe they would be WORSE than they were in 1929.

    Besides, there was a whole industry of serum therapy before antibiotics that had real success. It was primitive (infect horses with diseases, harvest their serum, inject it in patients), but it helped a lot of people. The advent of antibiotics bulldozed that approach, but there’s no reason it can’t be brought back: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/magazine/antibiotic-resistance.html?_r=0

  25. Jayn

    Well, back in 2011, the World Health Organisation noted that we are already in ‘the doomsday scenario’:


    Things haven’t improved since then; sadly we are still in the doomsday scenario, notwithstanding the cheerful article in the NYT, written by someone who not only has no qualifications in the subject, but is apparently abysmally ignorant of the history of antibacterial therapy around the world.

    It’s ironic that the journalist was responding to the comments of the medically qualified Chief Medical Officer of the UK; the NYT was unable to find any qualified person prepared to assert that the WHO is wrong, or that the Chief Medical Officer is wrong, so the journalist patched together a couple of quotes and wrote an article that demonstrates that the NYT has ceased to employ their once notable fact checkers.

    Russia has used phage therapy for decades; the major drawback, ignored by the journalist, is that it can only be used once. It’s then back to the laboratory to start again, which is why Russia gets through very large amounts of antibiotics. The primary problem with serum therapy was that it killed more people than it cured; there is no evidence that anyone, anywhere, is conducting clinical trials to determine whether anyone has managed to create a usable therapy.

    Which still leaves us in the doomsday scenario now; obviously you don’t want to believe this, and you are perfectly free to believe whatever you want, but you can’t expect other people to close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears and whistle loudly for fear of encountering harsh realities…

  26. Stevie, you’re being thoroughly alienating about this, to people who have strong inclinations to take this stuff seriously. I suggest you re-read and consider whether you’d find what you’re posting persuasive if it were aimed at you on a subject you happen not to be well-informed about.

    The cause is serious, and warrants not pointless alienating a constituency of natural allies.

    A better way to talk about something that’s very important and not well known among people who need to know about it is to start with the links, including the hard data and accessible discussion, and with a tone that presumes people would like to know even when the news is bad.

    This BBC article from last year, for instance, has some well-chosen quotes from the WHO and also from Medecins sans Frontiers, a group many of us have a history of trusting and supporting. Here they provide comments that nicely supplement what the WHO is saying on its own behalf. There’s also this 2014 report to the US President on the subject (PDF), which leads off with an introduction on the history of treatments before antibiotics and the spread of resistance as a problem, before laying out coherent criteria for action and specific policy recommendations based on those.

    I learned a bunch just finding these links and reviewing them, and recommend them – particularly the US report – to others whose knowledge of the subject is piecemeal at best.

  27. Bruce

    Last Wednesday I was due to have a surgical procedure to relieve problems with my cervical spine. Neurological pain is exceedingly difficult to control, and therefore it was hoped that the procedure would reduce the levels of pain.

    The procedure was cancelled because the consultant concluded that it was too dangerous for someone like myself, i.e. someone whose lungs are colonised by a multi resistant mucoid strain of pseudomonas aeruginosa.

    I’m already living in the doomsday scenario; my consultant, who has cared for me for many years, leads the Host Defence Unit at one of the finest respiratory medicine centres in the world.

    He say there are nothing in the treatment pipeline at all, notwithstanding cheery articles in the NYT, and I sure as hell prefer his advice to that of journalists. I rely on the people best qualified to keep me alive, as opposed to journalists.

    I appreciate that it is uncomfortable, but I really do think that the people denying this are the people with similar mind sets to the people who deny global warning. I really must get to sleep; I have a lot of things to do tomorrow, now today, if I am going to get my flight to Istanbul…

  28. Cat: Also, if I were sending people into space, people bubbling with resentment and prone to paranoid conspiracy theories would not be my first choice.

    Oh, I don’t know. If you could send them *all*, and then arrange that their life support was dependent on them all getting along together on a civilized basis…

    “No-one could have foreseen this tragedy…”

  29. Stevie, very much sympathy on the pain that can’t be tamed. Been there, done that, too often.

    Keep in mind that there is a huge difference between denying and not knowing. I daresay that the typical File 770 reader is much closer to me than you when it comes to the antibiotics problem – knowing in general terms that the misuse of antibiotics has led to the development of more resistant strains, and that this is a problem that can’t really be cured by direct action, but genuinely having no idea of the current or projected scope of the problem.

    The comparable position with regard to global warming, I think, would be something like knowing that it exists and that it keeps turning out worse than projections had foreseen, but having no real clue about specific problems it causes, how those tie together with normal cycles of weather, or how nasty the synergies are turning out to be.

    In both cases, rousing public awareness for reaction starts with informing people who are open to info, and you didn’t do that at any point until just this afternoon.

    I’ve ended up building a little electronic notebook of links and comments I want to make on issues where I seem to end up addressing them again and again – particularly the ones that seem to work, in terms of getting the kinds of reaction I hope for. (My exposition on Donaldson went into it, most recently.) I recommend it, particularly for everyone who’s got their discoursability impaired by health crap.

  30. CPaca, have you read “The Marching Morons”, by C.M.Kornbluth? A classic of the field, collected in (among other places) “The Arbor House Treasury of Modern Science Fiction” and “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume Two A: The Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time”. Explaining why your proposal reminds of the story would involve a plot spoiler.

  31. I’m one of the educated, I guess — I worked for Health and Human Services, and CDC has been quietly shrieking about the antibiotic problem for some time now. Hell, I knew it was bad before that, my Mom’s an RN, and she saw some of the approaching problem and told me about it more than twenty years ago.

    The problem is that the USDA has been way too lenient with antibiotic use in feed animals. The tide is turning, but only because a large enough number of consumers are refusing to buy meat raised on feed laced with antibiotics — and it’s come too late. On top of that, there are members of the public who, when they have a virus, demand an antibiotic from their doctor and you can’t make them understand that (name of any antibiotic) does NOTHING to any virus.

    There’s another axis to the problem — those of us who have become allergic to the standard antibiotics — and have a dwindling list of alternatives for those times when the only treatment that will work IS one. It’s scary…and I know from watching my government in action that we’re going to have to hit the wall before anyone does anything to change this…IF it can be changed.

  32. A very good WHO article. But it doesn’t actually contradict anything I’ve said. Yes, it uses the words “doomsday scenario.” But it uses it not to denote the end of humanity as we know it, with death on a scale comparable to the widespread famine that global warming would cause…it uses the words to denote the fact that antibiotic resistance will lead to a treatment scenario as NelC and I described it – back to the 1930’s, when antibiotics didn’t exist and people could die from infections we’d now consider trivial:

    ” Q: Is this the doomsday scenario of a world without antibiotics?

    A: Unfortunately yes, with these new multiresistant NDM1-containing strains and their potential for worldwide spread. Doctors will face a terrible dilemma when a pregnant woman develops a kidney infection that spills over into the bloodstream with a pan-resistant strain containing NDM1 and there are no treatment options. We are essentially back to an era with no antibiotics.

    Again, I’m not downplaying the grimness of such a scenario. I had an aunt who went deaf due to meningitis contracted in the era before antibiotics. I have a friend who has had two serious bouts of cellulitis due to Methcillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, and had a hell of a time getting over it. I have another friend who has been hospitalized with pseudomembraneous colitis (attributed to inappropriate use of antibiotics, including those ingested unknowingly from livestock treated with it) which could easily have killed her. I work in a hospital where the staff is constantly reminded to wash their hands frequently because of MRSA (in the decades when we had dependable antibiotics, people became somewhat cavalier about that). I myself have a positive PPD, which means I’ve been exposed to tuberculosis in the past, may be carrying it, and had to have isoniazid treatment for six months and chest X rays every year to make sure it’s not become active. I am very sorry for your own particular situation and the pain it’s caused you.

    Honestly, I’m on your side here. I believe we’ve abused antibiotics way too much in our agriculture and fish farming and medical practices, and thus have broken a hugely valuable tool in the medical armamentarium. I think we should make laws to strictly control the use of antibiotics so that bacteria can evolve out of their resistance. A world where antibiotics are useless will be one where we will all know people who died tragically in their prime from illnesses we consider trivial now. But IMO, it is still not equal to the widespread death resulting from famine that global warming will likely cause.

    So saying that anyone who does not agree with you that antibiotic resistance = global warming is intellectually on the same level as a climate change denier (a group I absolutely despise) is IMO unnecessarily insulting to someone who is a natural ally of yours. Just saying.

  33. Lori: you sound way better informed than me, certainly. If you want to recommend useful reading (books, whatever), I’d welcome them.

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