I’m the amazing, ailing, Aaron, and in This Week’s Show, episode 276, we are all unwell…
He looks absolutely beastly, it’s Shea!
Prone to telling long Tales From The Crypt, it’s Steve!
And, unfortunately, unable to join us — but in our thoughts are:
The delightfully distasteful, Big Gay Jim,
And our very own patient zero, the perpetually plagued, Jenn.
In their honor — and because I was sick and needed a quick template to follow — I present a silly and shameless, shambles of a QI shakedown.
Now, grab a beer and help us test the god hypothesis — because, while Nergal hasn’t struck us down yet, we are trying his patience!
Shea’s Life Lesson
This week I learned that masturbating while getting high isn’t called masturblazing, weed whacking, or highjacking, it’s actually called disappointing your parents.
Jenn’s Actual Lesson
Aaron channeling Jenn: Nergal is a Mesopotamian god who was worshiped from Akkad to Babylon. He’s a god of sickness, often finds himself fighting John Constantine, is one of those pesky other gods mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (2 Kings, 17:30), and his name means “poopy-dick.” The More you know.
Seriously, “dunghill cock”, from the Dictionary of phrase and fable: giving the derivation, source, or origin of common phrases, allusions, and words that have a tale to tell by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer – 1900 – p268. Of course it’s an awkward yee-oldie name for a middle-eastern rooster, but whatever, my version is funnier.
But before we get to all that, let’s have a beer!
This Week’s Beer
Extra Special Red by O’Dell’s Brewing Ft. Collins, CO
- BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/267/33503/
- BA Rating: 88
- Style: Imperial Red Ale
- ABV: 8.7%
- Aaron: 7
- Shea: 3
- Steve: 7
This Week’s Show
… I don’t think we have anything so… fuck it?
Alabama has widely been known as a progressive state, especially since the tolerant and accepting House Bill 314 voted in, late last year. For those who don’t know, HB314 is an Alabama statute enacted on May 15, 2019, that was set to impose a near-total ban on abortion in the state starting in November 2019, due to a federal judge the ban has been put on hold, but law makers still are fighting.
Representative Rolanda Hollis is tired of fighting for her autonomous rights so has taken it upon herself to “neutralize” the Human Life Protection Act, HB314. Hollis has authored a bill that would require each man to undergo a vasectomy at age 50 or “after the birth of his third biological child, whichever comes first.” And to twist the knife men also would have to pay for the procedure themselves. Hollis explained her reasoning for the bill
“Many have seen HB-314 as an outrageous overstep; yet, year after year the majority party continues to introduce new legislation that tries to dictate a woman’s body and her reproductive rights. We should view this as the same outrageous overstep in authority,” she said.
“Just as I would turn to my doctor over my state legislator to make recommendations when deciding whether or not to have a surgery, or whether or not to take a certain type of medicine — it is my doctor with whom I — or any of my loved ones — should consult when it comes to making the incredibly difficult decisions related to my personal reproductive rights,” she said.
The bill has drawn criticism from outside the state, including from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“Yikes,” Cruz tweeted Sunday. “A government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take everything … literally!”
In honor of our differently wellnessed friends I thought we’d have our very own medical review. Like all great medical journals we’ve congested a considerable cacophony of curative chronicles for your curiosity.
So, panel, as we all know things that are natural are good for you, and with that in mind, what do you suppose is the most pain nature can cause you?
There does seem to be quite a few contenders for this dubious title but by far the favorite of the internet – and the top pic, though I won’t say favorite – of those who have encountered it is the Dendrocnide moroides, better known as the strining brush, the mulberry-leaved stinger, the gympie, or simply, the suicide plant.
It is so called because of its tendency to drive dogs, cows, horses and people to suicide as a means of stopping the pain its neurotoxin causes. Of course this plant is native to Australia. It’s tiny fur-like hairs are coated in a neurotoxin so powerful that the slightest touch will cause hives, anaphylaxis, and pain so severe that most who experience it need to be tied down to a bed for a few days up to 3 weeks or, if available, be put into a medically induced coma while it runs its course. The toxin will stay in the victim’s system, and like a bad acid flashback, randomly reemerge for up to two years following contact. “Being stung is the worst kind of pain you can imagine – like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time,” said entomologist and ecologist Marina Hurley, who was stung during the three years she spent in Queensland’s Atherton Tableland
In 1994, Australian ex-serviceman Cyril Bromley told a local paper of an officer who mistook the leaves as the kind one can use for toilet paper – so great was his suffering that at his first opportunity he shot himself. The toxin on the hair was investigated by the British military for use as a non-lethal chemical weapon, but was abandoned because god damn.
Now, from untreatable plant toxins to seemingly untreatable toxic masculinity.
Hysteria was blamed for nearly all women’s yee-oldie health issues, and in more couched language still is. Perhaps the most overt case of “that’s not to do with a vagina” is the tragic case of Emma Eckstein. Sticking in Australia – because after all, we’re talking about things that affect one horribly – Emma was an author, briefly a psychoanalyst, and famously one of Sigmund Freud’s patients. Together with his friend Wilhelm Fliess, the pair set to work to cure Emma’s hysteria how?
Naturally, they sought to sniff out the problem by cauterizing the inside of her nose. Wilhelm was an ear, nose, and throat specialist who Freud referred to as “the Kepler of biology” a comment that has, obviously, not aged well. The surgery was disastrous. Wilhelm left nearly a half-metre of gauze in her nasal cavity, the removal of which left her permanently disfigured.
The nasal augmentation itself left her with profuse, recurrent, nasal bleeding. Such a mess was the surgery that Freud fled from the surgery in horror. After years of laying low Freud reassured his confidence in Wilhelm, pinning the blame for the entire matter on Emma, concluding her post-op hemorrhaging was “wish-bleedings” caused by her hysterical longing for the affection of others. Despite what was, I imagine, a fairly contentious falling out Freud would later use many of Emma’s works as citations for his own work, for example, citing her 1904 small book on the sexual education of children in his open letter “The Sexual Enlightenment of Children” which, as the titles suggest, were not terribly well aligned.
Hysteria isn’t a diagnosis and your vag won’t cause your nose to bleed. But go with the flow, as it where, when might excessive bleeding be a good thing?
When your blood saves lives! Of course donating blood when (and, frustratingly if) you can is a good thing to do. You never know when someone like James Harrison might need 13 litres of blood. Because we’re still in Australia when young James was 14 he underwent massive chest surgery, perhaps a koala was trying to burst forth, pretty sure those are born via drop-bear-face-hugging, but I digress. As thanks he pledged to begin donating blood when he turned 18. In 1954 when he started donating it was discovered almost immediately that his blood contained unusually strong and persistent antibodies that could prevent hemolytic disease of the newborn, or HDN, which can lead to Rhesus disease, among other unpleasantries.
His blood prevented thousands of babies from dying of HDN directly, and later it was used to create the commercial Anti-D Immune Globulin known as RhoGAM. Dubbed “the man with the golden arm” his donations and the breakthroughs they enabled are estimated to have saved some 2.5 million babies and pregnant women, including his own daughter and grand-baby.
He was able to reach his 1000th donation in May 2011. This results in an average of one donation every three weeks during 57 years. Commenting on his record, he said: “I could say it’s the only record that I hope is broken, because if they do, they have donated a thousand donations.”
So there you have it. Donate blood. Even if you’ve just got normal, shitty, American grease-blood, it will save a life or two, and who knows, you might just have super-magical unicorn blood.
Unicorns, according to the grand Wizarding-TERF, have special life-extending blood. Unfortunately, actual unicorn syndrome is significantly less delightful causing what kind of ailment?
Yes, of course the answer is a horn. Liang Xiuzhen, 87, of Sichuan China is the most famous case of a human with a “horn”. Like other horns found in nature Liang’s isn’t actually bone. It’s a keratinous skin tumor that just happens to have grown in the shape of a horn. Feel free to look for pictures, I’m not sharing them because some shit you can’t unsee. Eight years ago Liang complained of a mole on her forehead which quickly gave way to a small protrusion. Most cases of Cornu Cutaneum are small, benign, and don’t give the sufferer the ability to rewind time. In Liang’s case there was an attempt to use Traditional Chinese Medicine to alleviate the itching and discomfort of having a forehead horn, but when the horn broke off it quickly regrew to be almost larger than her head. While surgical options are available, given her advanced age, the risks are such that it’s safer to live with it.
Now, let’s move from the Forbidden Forest to other places we’re neglecting, like the tropics! Panel, can you name an NTD, or Neglected Tropical Disease, that the sorting hat might put you uncomfortably close to?
Excellent, unlike “the big three” of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, NTDs – of which there are many times many but 12 or 13 are official depending on WHO you ask – are diseases that are relatively commonplace in Africa, South America, and Asia but don’t enjoy the media or medical coverage of their more known kin.
Among these are Dengue, Dracunculiasis – which I’m pretty sure causes you to become a Dracula – Leprosy, Rabies, Trachoma, a laundry list of words I’m not even going to try, and snakebite envenoming.
I think one doesn’t typically think to link snakebites with rare diseases but it was added to the W.H.O’s list of NTDs in 2017 after years of criticism for not making it a priority. Globally it is estimated that just under half a million people are envenomed each year, which is about 1 of 4 snake bites, which cause around 20,000 deaths a year. That said, those numbers are best-guess because snakebites often go unreported. Especially were they are most prevalent, India and Southeast Asia.
Given the laundry list of Neglected Tropical Diseases it makes sense that we would want to raise awareness of them. In a fitting tribute, what day of the year has the European Organisation for Rare Diseases marked as its awareness day?
Yep, the calendar’s rarest day, February 29th is officially Rare Disease Day.. So enjoy next week’s festivities as safely as possible. Don’t share needles, drink untreated water, or step on snek and hopefully we’ll see you for the next Rare Disease Day in just four years time.
Of course, all of that rareness is really just the icing on the rarity cake as most rare diseases, not receiving the attention of their more popular kin, are without treatments. It is estimated that 5% of rare diseases have any recognized treatment path. In response the FDA created the awkwardly named Office of Orphan Products Development or OOPD in 1983, which only helps orphans insofar as many of them are at a heightened risk for the kinds of rare diseases the OOPD gives out grants to help develop treatments for.
Orphan diseases were given more attention, as mentioned, in 1983 when Congress passed the Orphan Drug Act (ODA). An orphan disease is defined as one affecting fewer than 20,000 people nationally. Since 1983 some 250 orphan drugs have been released thanks to governmental financial assistance. Until 1983, there were ten in total. Those 250 drugs have treated a combined total of nearly 25 million Americans, and scores more internationally but the numbers are difficult to suss out.
Orphan diseases are rare indeed, but what is the most rare disease one can get?
Say it with me now, it’s Moooooooooon Hay Fever.
Following the Apollo missions to the Moon many of the astronauts reported a similar condition. Because the Moon has no atmosphere its soil is constantly bombarded by charged particles from the upper layers of the sun causing them to become electrostatically charged. Like other statically charged dust found on Earth, the flower-like dust of the Moon clung to space suits and was tracked into the lunar lander. Apollo 17 astronaut Harrsison Schmitt described its effects as “lunar hay fever” causing sneezing, watery eyes, and a sore throat. As is the case with many kinds of microscopic dust the particles can become trapped in the alveoli in the lungs stopping them from transferring oxygen and CO2. The dust can also cause damage to DNA which can cause cancer. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924191552.htm
It’s time to let our rare diseases go the way of the dodo… hmm, phrasing… so we can move onto a segment that Sandy, and the much more prepared QI team, aptly-for-our-purposes, refer to as General Ignorance.
When Syphilis first surfaced in England, what did they call it?
Right, the “French Disease,” what, did the French call it?
In fact, the Germans called it the “French Evil”, Russians called the “Polish disease”, the Pols called it the “Turkish disease”, the Turks called it the “Christian Disease” and the Japanese called it “Chinese pox.”
Speaking of STDs, HIV/AIDS!
oh… yikes… just gonna go ahead and apologize now for that transition…
During the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s discussion of the disease was limited largely for political reasons. So Surgeon General C. Everett Koop took what unprecedented and generally unappreciated step toward educating the American population?
He mailed information about HIV/AIDS to every home in America. Both sides of the political aisle were aghast with his plan and nearly all LGBTQI+ groups at the time took issue as the mailer targeted gay sex as the primary vectors of the disease, helping cement its perception as “the gay diseases.”
As we know condoms, dental dams, and other physical barriers can help prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDs.
What widely available, 99% effective, drug can be taken in preparation for high-risk sexual activity?
Hell of a clue I dropped, I’m glad we got this right – it’s Pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. When taken daily PrEP has been show to reduce the risk of contracting HIV from sex by 99% and among intravenous drug users, it can reduce HIV contraction by at least 74%. For more information about PrEP see the show notes https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html
Why might a farmer feed a cow a magnet?
Farmers feed large magnets to cows to prevent “Hardware Disease.” Cow Magnets sit in their “stomach” for the lifetime of the cow and prevent accidentally eaten pieces of metal from lodging in the stomach folds causing illness.
What tragically ironic fate befell the first champion of hand washing in medicine?
Ignaz Semmelwies was a Hungarian physician who pioneered antiseptic procedures. Described as the “savior of mothers” he found that “childbed fever” could be dramatically reduced with the washing of hands. Unfortunately, his claims couldn’t be proven… beyond a significant number of not-dead mothers I guess, and he was committed to an asylum by a colleague where he was brutally beaten and died of a gangrenous hand. Only a few years after his death, show favorite Joseph Lister and famed dairy-cooker Louis Paseur would validate his work.
How can you hear your own eyes?
Superior canal dehiscence is a rare medical condition that affects the inner ear and amplifies all internal sounds. It gets to the point where the sound of the eyeballs moving in their sockets sounds like “sandpaper on wood.”
Closing this out I’ll leave you with this. Scurvy has been noted in antiquity by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, but its cure – eating vitamin C rich foods – has been lost and rediscovered innumerable times over the millennia, proving if nothing else, humanities ability to disregard common, maternal advice. So, go eat your fruits and vegetables or you’ll catch your death of peg-leg.
Next Week’s Beer
River Falls Red Ale – Thomas Creek Brewery – Greenville, South Carolina
Mr. Bible Pants
- BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/2454/7594/
- BA Rating: 82
- Style: Irish red ale
- ABV: 6.2
Beer Waste Helps Montana Town Save Money On Water Treatment
For Jenn, this one comes from Bozeman Mont. where the Water Reclamation Facility is treating some 6 million gallons of poo-water from about 50 thousand people. And if we learned anything today, it’s that you want clean water.
I think it’s fairly common knowledge among home brewers, cheesemakers, or any home-fermentation enthusiast that you can’t always just pour leftovers down the drain. The various sugars, proteins, and critters could do a number on your pipes. The same is true for Bozemen’s dozen or so breweries.
With that in mind the Bozeman worked with a local brewery to feed its beer-waste to the treatment plant’s bacteria and apparently it’s working well. The idea came from a town about 300 miles north near the Canadian border, Harve. The wastewater plant manager approached brewery owner Michael Garrity with the idea of using leftover barley from making beer to feed his microbes.
“With my knowledge of brewing and fermentation, I said, ‘Why aren’t we doing this? This sounds amazing,'”
For the three years since they’ve been pitching brew-waste into the towns water treatment cultures and apparently it’s given the little guys a hell-of-a boost in efficiency. So much so that the town is saving around $16k/a in alum – a chemical used to treat water. Moreover, they won’t need to undergo costly new upgrades to meet new, more stringent, clean water standards…
The EPA gave Harve an honorable mention at the end last year.
“I didn’t go into this for an award. I went into it just because — what do you do? to do the best job you can?”
Newfield and Garrity, of Triple Dog brewery, say they think their partnership is a model that could be replicated elsewhere. Several towns in Montana are interested in trying it, and Newfield says he even got a call from a plant manager in Boston… which makes me think we should talk to our city’s sanitation people at one of Laramie’s fine breweries.
Join The Discussion
We’d love to hear from you!