Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON
LECTURE ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d__In2PQS60
LECTURE TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al7O2puvdDA

ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ONE THROUGH TEN ON IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE



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Saturday, October 12, 2013

OCCASIONAL REPORTS FROM THE REALM OF PARASITES

I continue to read Claude Combes' fascinating book, The Art of Being a Parasite, just now finishing chapter four ["The Profession of Host."]  Combes goes on for quite a long time about research done in Switzerland on the various ways in which the species Paris Major responds to the infestation of an endemic endoparasite of the genus plasmodium [for those of you who are really clued in, yes, this is the same genus to which belongs the parasite that causes malaria in humans.]  Parus Major is the scientific name for the Great Tit, and after spending more than an hour [it is a slow read] with the doings of the Great Tit, it occurred to me to wonder what this bird actually looks like.  Wikipedia supplied the answer.  It is a tiny multi-colored bird maybe five inches long.  All this fuss for a bird that would fit comfortably in a child's hand.   There is something truly wonderful about real science.

By the way, Combes observes that human beings are far and away the friendliest hosts for parasites, providing shelter and a meal for more parasites of every variety than any other species.  A dubious distinction.

One more nice tidbit.  For a long time, scientists thought that humans acquired some well-known parasites [a tapeworm among others] from cows and pigs back when they succeeded in domesticating them.  Not so  The ancestors of modern homo sapiens picked these buggers up on the African savanna from wild predators, and in turn gave them to their newly domesticated farm animals!  It hardly seems fair.

1 comment:

Charles said...

Combes's book is great. Thank you for the heads up. BTW and FWIW, parasites have hit the big time:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube_gdata&v=ulK9XUd_hh8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DulK9XUd_hh8%26feature%3Dyoutube_gdata

[You'll have to cut and paste thelink into a browser.]

If you subscribe to AsapSCIENCE, they'll send you something similar every week or so, and you'll achieve scientific literacy in a matter of months. Worked for me, anyway.

Charles