is older than it's ever been and now it's even older


Leeching the weak, annoying the strong

So, Nat'ralists observe, a Flea
Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller Fleas to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.
-Jonathan Swift

Ever consider what various nasty creatures share your body? Well, apparently parasites may be the most dominant form of life on earth. New research indicates they can do some really bizarre things to animal hosts, such as the liver fluke, which can make ants do things they ordinarily wouldn't:

There the flukes do some parasitic voodoo on their hosts. As the evening approaches and the air cools, the ants find themselves drawn away from their fellows on the ground and upward to the top of a blade of grass. Clamped to the tip of the blade, the infected ant waits to be devoured by a cow or some other grazer passing by.

I wonder if Discover knows that a snake oil company called Cleansing Solutions is using that same article to hawk a product that purportedly removes one's parasites from our intestines? (although CS does offer a testimonial from Tony Dorsett)

Probably the most frightening thing about this report is the idea that animals (thus, presumably humans, too) can be altered from a state of free will into doing something at the behest of a foreign host. There are also bacteria that have been proven to have major effects on the evolution of species of wasp; that's another way that parasites can affect other animals. Surely, though, there isn't any sort of deep biological signals telling us what to do, is there? Think again. Some new research indicates that women on the pill pick different men than when they're running on their own hormones. I have always thought that we humans have some sort of pheromone detecting system; it may be that we even pick our mates by relying on it. So, whether your pheromones or your parasites make you do it, it's a better excuse than saying "the devil made me do it," I guess. How long until a parasite or pill theory appears as a trial defense in a criminal case? Surely it's more compelling than the Twinkie defense.

Thanks for the love

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt died yesterday in the Daytona 500 race. This blew my mind. To have the most popular, most successful driver killed at the climax of the most important, prestigious race of the year is supremely bizarre. Mom says in North Carolina there are three religions; Baptists, ACC basketball, and NASCAR (not necessarily in that order). So the whole state has gone into mourning. Mom, somehow this seems an appropriate day to tell you: there is such a thing as a gravestone blogger. (Mom is a published scholar on the subject of gravestones, among other things. Call her "Dr. Hobbs.") There's still time to jump on the bandwagon.

I've had a neat correspondence with Catherine of Blue Ruin fame. She's not mad at me for the meanness I published here last time. That's a relief. Blivet kicked me a little love, too. It occurred to me that I could have sucked up much better to him than just pointing out his URL. After all, I also have a Pembroke Welsh Corgi...

Bonus sweet science link: The report of the two researchers that dressed up like a moose to throw urine soaked snowballs at real ones. Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of a hat...

Finally, a beer taste test. Can you tell your Busch from your Grolsch? These people thought they could too.

Hobbsblog II acknowledges the following blogs for source material today: Honeyguide and the Null Device.


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