This blog is still alive, just in semi-hibernation.
When I want to write something longer than a tweet about something other than math or sci-fi, here is where I'll write it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dumbass Design™ Vol. 2: The Tsetse Fly


Parasitism. Who will say a kind word for parasites?
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Certainly not Mark Twain. Twain heard all the "all God's creatures" argument back in his day and wrote a famous essay on flies. You can find it quoted on the link below, comparing and contrasting Martin Luther's view of flies with Sam Clemens, with thanks to E.T. Babinski.
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So let me say something nice about parasites. Everybody's gotta eat. You have plenty of blood, they only need a tiny little bit. Sometimes the bites hurt, some itch and swell afterwards, but usually they don't kill you. It's all part of The Circle of Life, but don't expect Disney to make a hit animated cartoon about it.
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But sometimes parasites do kill you. More to the point, sometimes the parasite, a creature that needs you alive, carries a disease that kills you. Bad for you, bad for the parasite.
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This is Dumbass Design™.
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The tsetse fly of Africa is a prime example. It carries the disease we call sleeping sickness, which can infect any warm-blooded creature. Most mammal species have been wiped out in the range of the tsetse fly, but according to a nature show I saw, there is one species of cow that can survive. It still gets bitten, it still gets the disease, but it can fight it off. The thing is, this cow eats more like a sheep, eating the grasses all the way down to the root. There's more erosion where this cow lives, and the plains environment becomes a desert, acre by acre.
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Technically, the tsetse fly doesn't kill anyone. It's the disease it carries inside it that does the killing, except for one breed of cow, which turns grasslands into deserts, killing a sustainable environment.
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Why am I reminded of Wal-Mart?
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Why am I reminded of humans?

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