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Warren DeMontague

Profile Information

Name: Rumdrinkin DeMonattea
Gender: Male
Hometown: This un
Member since: Thu May 20, 2004, 05:02 AM
Number of posts: 57,261

About Me

What do you call a man with 10 rabbits in his ***?

Journal Archives

Let me start by saying that this ebola outbreak is something I've been worried about since April.

When there were little or no indications that it was going to be any different, substantially, than previous outbreaks, which have all been fairly quickly contained.

I claim no special insight; rather, like a character in a star wars flick, I've just had a bad feeling about this.

And, by even the most conservative estimations, it is set to be a catastrophe- hitting precisely the poorest, most ill equipped countries and health systems it possibly could.

Simply by spreading how it normally does, this outbreak is likely to take a simply horrific toll on the populations of Guinea, Sierra leone, and particularly Liberia. And make no mistake, it could spread elsewhere- it has, and it likely will again. Much will depend on how well those further outbreaks are contained, and how quickly.

There has been talk, like the osterholm piece, of the potential of ebola to mutate into an airborne mode of transmission- and likewise other prominent voices have come forth to calm the alarm by suggesting it is not terribly likely. I am not a virologoist so I don't really know, but I have done some reading and try to stay well-informed about the science. I'll say a couple things- one, ebola scares the fuck out of me, as it should any human, since the zaire strain at least has traditionally had up to a 90% lethality rate- although in this epidemic it has been running around 50-55%. Which indicates, perhaps, that it already HAS mutated, mutated in such a way to lessen the "burn-out" of previous outbreaks, perhaps by not killing as quickly, or effectively. Word on the ground is that the ebola currently infecting west Africans does not produce, at least as often, the gruesome "bleed-out" hemorrhagic end stage that is so horribly described in books like The Hot Zone.

Edited to add- as for evolving in a way that would require less viral load for infection- according to some accounts of the virus, it already is incredibly infectious, at least in terms of viral load. It would be hard for me to imagine how it could get any moreso, since as it is I dont believe it takes much virus exposure to produce infection anyway.

So a few things-

One, if it does have the potential to become airborne, it does not seem to have done so yet. If it had, i believe we would know. And fairly quickly.

Two, as others have noted in response to the Osterholm piece- ebola mutating to an entirely different mode of transport would be fairly unprecedented in the viral world. Early in the AIDS crisis there was fear of that virus doing the same. As we can see, that never happened. The ebola virus is big, in virus terms- and it is a strange, if particularly lethal, fucker. Basically a strand of RNA in a protein tube, that steals the lipid cell lining of its host for its own outer coat- which explains why the hosts cells burst so spectacularly, and nastily, in large numbers when the virus really takes hold. But what this means is that, design wise, it is fundamentally unlike a spherical flu virus wrapped in an ever-changing protein ball. Evolving to be able to survive in the air as a flu virus does, would likely require more than just a series of random mutations. At least, I hope.

Three, yes, as was extensively detailed in the Hot Zone, there has been evidence of the Reston strain of ebola being transmitted by air, by animals, in closed situations. This may be relevant to the human experience with ebola, it may not.


The bottom line is that at best this is a massive humanitarian crisis for west africa and it is the responsibility of the rest of the species and planet to come to their immediate aid, and when and if this is all over, not leave them with the shamefully inadequate health systems they went into this with. Because as we see, it is all our problem.
Posted by Warren DeMontague | Sun Sep 14, 2014, 02:59 AM (1 replies)

These are all really good questions.

1) Higher, absolutely. NASA currently gets a sliver of the discretionary budget and yet, science and exploration always pay off not just in material benefits but also in knowledge (and the two are linked). Prime areas for redirecting funding towards NASA could come from the Military/Industrial Complex and the Drug War, for starts.

2) See above: I think it's ludicrous that we spend a Trillion on the Military, we spend 60 Billion a year to try to keep people from smoking pot... NASA gets, what, 12? 16? I think that the entire DEA budget could be subsumed and given to NASA, that's a start. How much, dollar figure? Increase it by an order of 10 from where it is, just for starters.

3) Both are important. Obviously given the current status of technology, deep exploration will need to be robotic for the time being. I'd like to see a situation where one does not always need to come at the expense of the other.

4) Is pretty tied up with 3), also 2) and 1). If we're talking percentages, split it down the middle.

5) I actually think the idea of a specialty-focused science and environmental gov. org separate from NASA is not a bad idea; nevertheless, NASA is leading the way in understanding planets as whole systems, which is what the Earth is. But NASA's core mission should be exploration and knowledge of the universe off-Earth. If budget allowed, Earth sciences going to a new department is a reasonable idea.

6) Solar observation? Sure. Solar science could remain a NASA job. Perhaps a partnership.

7) If by "worlds" you mean Planets, moons, and dwarf planets, that's another good question. Mars first. Then Europa. Ceres if it looks interesting enough (we should have an idea next year) Enceladeus, Titan.. Venus has gotten short shrift but I think it could be an interesting case study. Jupiter. I'd also like to know what is out in the Kuiper belt. We're going to get a close up look at Pluto-- so how about Eris next?

8) Mars is the obvious next destination for landing humans, to my mind.

9) Ceres, again. A Venus flyby is technologically feasable near-term and could provide crucial mission experience for long-duration spaceflight outside the near-Earth environment. Science might be low but the historic factor would be high. Plus, again, everyone likes to blow off Venus because, obviously, it's so frikken hellish there, but it is close and might have some interesting data points. Beyond that the moons of the 2 big gas giants are an obvious additional destination for human spaceflight, depending on how well issues like radiation can be dealt with.

10) I think the shuttle, with its inherent design flaws, brought the risk rate too high. There will always be risks. That said, I don't know what the acceptable rate is.

11) Depends on my personal life situation. I have others who depend on me so that factors pretty highly into any decision I would make that would put me in danger at this point in my life. Plus, I'm probably getting too old.

12) Yes, although like I said, I'd like to see the military cut and the drug war ended first. Yes. Unknown, since again these things don't take place in a vacuum. The fantasy political will to raise NASA's budget significantly (namely, in a universe where I ran everything) would also include the will to re-prioritize the areas I've mentioned, as well as others.

13) Unknown, although I personally believe that humans will be living, for instance, on Mars permanently by the end of this century. Colonization implies familes and children. I think when humans decide to go to live there, they will take their kids. That's how it works.

14) If I could go anywhere? I'd like to see other solar systems. That's not likely to happen. If I could go anywhere in this solar system? I think looking at Saturn from one of its moons would be the best view imaginable. But I'm old school, I'd have to go to Mars to appease my inner 8 year old, who would never forgive me if I didn't make that my first choice.

15) Another good question. I think humans will live on the moon and Mars- I think eventually (1000 year timeframe) humans will begin to Terraform Mars and, perhaps, other worlds of the solar system, depending on our abilities. Mars seems most doable. I suspect humans will establish outposts on Ceres and also Jovian and Saturnian moons. If we're still technologically backwards enough to need to burn hydrocarbons, humans may utilize the methane lakes on Titan, etc.

16) Another excellent question. I think social predictions for the future are hardest of all (look how ludicrous past ones all turn out, like how in the 1950s by 2000 we were all going to be wearing shiny unitards and plastic skullcaps) but I do think, if history and human nature are any guide, social and governmental experimentation will continue to take place in their most innovative, or at least different, forms at the frontiers of human exploration.
Posted by Warren DeMontague | Fri Sep 12, 2014, 06:02 AM (0 replies)

Because her aspect ratio is all fucked up?

Seriously, that thing is giving me a headache.

Anyway, if there's one thing I can't stand almost as much as Kardashians, Hiltons, and other emblems of vacuous famous-for-being-famous-osity, it's breathy, overwrought pontificating on the ominous implications impled by said phenomena.

Yeah, who cares. Kim Kardashian is a celebrity mobius strip, an Escheresque strange loop of self-feeding (and self-enriching) media pretzel logic. So what? Is (so-called) "late-stage American-style capitalism" really the only human endeavour that glorifies, basically, nothing? (Let's avoid dovetailing into what seems to me an almost inevitable digression into religion, here) No, actually, it's not. Very few "celebrities" around the world are Dalai Lamas, at least compared to the number who are on TV because they can look good in a tank top while eating a banana.

And ever was it thus.

And that "famous for nothing, rich for just being there" as thing? Yeah, okay, maybe the part about fighting the revolutionary war to be free of royalty is a bit overstated, given that the impulse seems to be hard-baked into at least the supermarket tabloid aspects of our collective English-speaking psyche.

But come on. Whatever it is, it's not exclusive to the US, and it's certainly not new.



Posted by Warren DeMontague | Sat Sep 6, 2014, 06:12 AM (2 replies)

The point is, to say that anyone who doesn't lose their shit over porn, swimsuits, and

Spiderwoman's butt, isn't a "real liberal", and in fact is somehow echoing right wing views - is facile, flat out false, and in fact 180 degrees from the actual political reality.
Posted by Warren DeMontague | Fri Aug 29, 2014, 09:40 PM (2 replies)

Yeah.

Now THERE is an actual, real gaping hole on DU.

But then, that was someone who never went in for self-congratulatory bs or the like... Who simply showed up and fought the good fight, and defended her right to make up her own mind on her own terms.

The word "loss" is tossed around too easily, when anyone can post a GBCW thread in GD, drum up 100 "please don't go" responses, and then make a dramatic exit, only to show up six months later "I'm back!!!! miss me?"



And we're talking about screen names, fake nom de plumes by people who, for all we know, have 20 socks in the drawer. Raindog was a real loss, an actual loss.

The good ones don't announce their leaving. The great ones, like raindog- man, I sure wish I could have at least said goodbye.

Posted by Warren DeMontague | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 02:53 AM (1 replies)

He's spider-man, remember

those are egg sacs.
Posted by Warren DeMontague | Sat Aug 23, 2014, 05:58 PM (0 replies)

Old news. Grovelbot has been riding the rails for years

He was traveling with the hobo circuit in the 1930s, singing folk songs and eating old screws and bolts out of a rusty tin can warmed over a campfire.

Posted by Warren DeMontague | Fri Aug 22, 2014, 08:27 PM (0 replies)

Conservative version of Lindsay Lohan?

yeah, that sounds about right.
Posted by Warren DeMontague | Sat Aug 16, 2014, 04:24 PM (0 replies)

Shit.

She was a friend of mine.

I hadn't heard from her in a few weeks, assumed she was busy with a new gig she had talked about.

Rest in peace, R.




Posted by Warren DeMontague | Fri Jul 25, 2014, 02:27 AM (0 replies)

I think we should have an appreciation thread for the available DU tools, also

As well as us DU tools who are nevertheless in committed relationships.
Posted by Warren DeMontague | Fri Jul 11, 2014, 01:42 PM (0 replies)
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