Saturday, February 25, 2006

Birdflu Survival Update 7 :CCR5 and Flu

Birdflu Survival Update -7

Dated 27/02/2006

CCR5 and Flu

I noticed that I have not established a link between the two in previous writings available to you .

The easiest way to see it is the pneumonic form of bubonic plague . It has borrowed the flu machinery for quick injection of material into the cell . This is so quickly lethal to the cell that it burns out too fast to be a serious pandemic .

Note that the 1918 Flu was preceded by a world-wide flu-like pandemic , where people got very ill with flu-like symptoms , but very few died . (March 1918) .They also recovered very rapidly , but there seems to have been no immunity response . (They died just as readily in the later November 1918 forms . ) In other words , the immune system had no chance to learn .
Yet workers in sulfur-rich environments were nearly unaffected .

This can be seen as an infection so virulent that it quickly killed the cells it penetrated.
No big problem . One intruder kills one cell , and the clean-up squad (apoptosis or immune system) removes the evidence .

But the immune system hasn’t learned much to counter the attacker in future . The cell has also not learned any handy new tricks the attacker might have . A system that allows controlled access to attackers would be much superior in competition with similar cells than those who do not .

Hence , a general learning channel to import a wide variety of genetic material under controlled conditions evolved . CCR5 seems to be one such a system . It happened a long time ago during the transition to an oxygen atmosphere . Organisms such as Flu or HIV seems to have learned to jam the learning channel open .

There seems to be a feedback element here as well . There seems to be no evolutionary advantage in HIV mutating endlessly to gain entry into an open port . The only advantage is that entry stimulates new immune system molecules configured for the new entry . The HIV uses the cells own machinery to exhaust the immune system . This also how flu works ( ie SARS overloaded immune systems ) . From evolutionary pressures , less lethal surviving varieties would evolve very quickly .

In evolutionary terms , any bug that does not kill off the whole species is a positive learning experience . An open port like CCR5 begs the question why the species is still in existence .

One view is that it is an over-population control .
Since sulfur supply is limited , too many organisms dilute the sulfur concentration per organism . Jamming open an entry-port into a cell will then quickly lead to the the evolution of predatory organisms that will reduce the population , regardless of the immune response . There has been about two billion years for this mechanism to become established.

The question is why such an obvious attack route has not been blocked . The answer is that it has . But it requires chemicals available in high concentrations at the time of the evolution of these ports . Sulfur and methane.

Note the importance of methane-type compounds in epigenetic programming . Sulfur (like in H2S) plays an equally important part .

Stem-cells can be seen as a form of suspended animation . This can be mediated by H2S . Since Sulfur is an element which is not very biologically active , shortages will be noticeable here first .

I have no guidelines on methane , since it’s importance only popped during this analysis . Methylazation as found in epigenetic programming would seem to be adaptation of methane-groups to more sophisticated usages as happened with oestrogen evolution . Still , it would happen easier if there was more methane . The body’s normal supply seems to be from gut-bacteria . A healthy intestinal flora seems more important than ever .

Sulfur concentrations and availability in the environment is still mainly determined by volcanic activity . Sulfur is sequestered into rocks , usually in the form of sulfates .Humans have put a few billion tons back into circulations via fertilizer , but it is drop in the bucket (unlike carbon , where fire does the work , sulfates has to be dug up , transported and laboriously reworked . ) Local high sulfur concentrations in rich agricultural nations might seem to be a problem , but the planetary concentration per person is decreasing .(Most food production in the East is done without artificial fertilizer).

Remember , every human being sequesters at least 15 kg of sulfur in his body . At his burial , this is interred in a grave yard and not recycled immediately . Human feces in the West is not recycled immediately ( usually washed into the sea) . All that sulfur is lost and the rate of replenishment does not keep up .

The result is a lowering of the sulfur concentration , not only in humans , but in the whole eco-system .

This leads to the worrisome conclusion that major pandemics of plant- and animal diseases are in the offing . HIV and Birdflu can be seen as ones .But an equivalent one would be diseases for wheat , corn , rice , cassava , manioc , beans , bamboo or any of the staple foods

The over-population control seems to be alive and operative .

What to do ?
Species survival seems extremely ulikely .

Individual survival:
Get off planet . Lament in your remaining time about the things you lot have been too stupid to maintain (you know , small things like air to breathe , water to drink , food to eat .)

The Terran ecology has been irrevocably disturbed . Any organisms remaining on-planet face a prolonged period of genetic instability (read extinction , retro-viral mutation , etc . )

Here is the joker:

Any humans moving successfully off-planet will need to understand genetics and ecology so well ( to create selfsustaining habitats) that they could redesign the Terran ecosystem . This is doubtful . The easier alternative would be to redesign humans .

Either way , Homo Saps is extinct . Deal with it .


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Birdflu Update -6CCR5 , Sulpher and the 1918 Flu

Birdflu Survival Update -6

Dated 22/02/2006

CCR5 , Sulpher and the 1918 Flu

The 1918 flu attacked sulpher-deprived individuals through the receptor site CCR5 (see previous writings).

The 1918 flu was a direct mutation from birds to humans (ie no intermediate animal or human reactor was involved) . Hence there was no vector of the disease remaining after the human pandemic burned out . No reinfection from a animal source was possible , since there was no animal source and the burn-out happened quickly enough that the virus could not get a foothold in an animal species . So the epidemic vanished quickly .

If the same happens today , we can expect a quick , sharp pandemic involving nations that have been cutting down on sulpher emissions : USA and Europe .

A low-sulpher community (like SA) would be inclined to favour an endemic version of human bird-flu , since the African genetic diversity would be combined with bird-flu in a high-probability scenario of lower mortality ,but endemic reservoirs .

This might have already happened with HIV , since HIV uses CCR5 as well .

A testable prediction then would be that the recent (1 Jan 2006) introduction of low-sulpher diesel in SA would lead to a marked increase in the HIV/AIDS rates .

A worst case scenario would then be a sharp pandemic (50% death rate) in genetically uniform populations , with it then vanishing . However , genetically various populations (ie Africa) will have a lower initial mortality , but will then form a pool of endemic vectors .

Intriguing is the correlation between West Nile Fever and CCR5 . The mutation on CCR5 that gives a degree of immunity to 1918-flu , bubonic plague and HIV leads to a greater susceptibility to West Nile Fever .

Clearly , there is a very old correlation here . Attention is drawn to the high-sulpher content of the environment of the surviving hominins after the Toba event .

Historically , smallpox decreased bubonic plague below pandemic levels by blocking access to CCR5 . Suspicion exists that other diseases using CCR5 (like HIV) is now increasing because this blocker has been removed .

One wonders if the disruption in smallpox vaccination during WWI and the low-sulpher environment led to a random mutation of the bird-flu gaining sufficient foothold to become an epidemic .

Why should viruses be so sensitive to the sulpher concentration ? Because cells are so sensitive to sulpher concentrations . Attention is drawn to the cascade of epigenetic switches caused by a 80 ppm concentration of H2S , switching off the genes of even advanced mammals in a very precise sequence . (Suspended animation : see Scientific American) (Total anoxia does the same) . This is a partial apoptosis , since the total breakdown of the cell does not take place , but harmful oxidizing elements are apoptised .

What is even more intriguing , is that restoring oxygen leads to revivication without major support mechanisms . Ie , it is programmed in , and the program of partial apoptosis and anapoptosis is still fully operative (ie still used in routine cell operations) .

The suspicion arises that the first multi-cellular organisms evolved to be able to survive in both oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor , sulpher-rich environments . Initially , the ur-cell could do both , but not very well . Putting a cell-wall in between increased efficiency drastically . Parasites evolved for each mode , but would tend to specialize on aerobic or anaerobic after the schism got established by Darwinnian selection of more efficient phenotype preferred by a particular gene structure .

The joker here is the immune system . It places a bias on the organism , favouring the survival of positive changes , either aerobic or anaerobic .

So , breathing in succession 80 ppm H2S and pure Oxygen , while taking antibiotics should see off any cellular competitors in quick fashion .

The increase in asthma can be more accurately correlated to the lack of “mephitic vapours” . Ie the smells from the toilet . Note that the whipsaw effect above is a cascade , and that the process can be interrupted by the lack of a single element in the cascade . The lack of sufficient H2S concentration in developmental stages can lead to severe immune system imbalances . Note that small boys like bad smells . Why?

This leads to the irresistible conclusion that continuous washing is bad for human males , since it impairs their immune system . I always knew that !

Smell seems to have been neglected . If 80 ppm H2S triggers the organism into stasis (an experimental fact ) , smells ( or more exactly , chemical signals ) can cause huge effects . It is not the smell exactly . The chemical throws a switch in the genetic machinery of the cells . The result can be out of proportion to the concentration (will have to be , as concentrations are diluted by the volume of space .)

Epigenetic programming is obvious . Post-natal epigenetic programming using whipsawing H2S techniques might persuade some cells into becoming stem cells . Note that regenerators like crocs , tadpoles , etc seek anaerobic environments

Note that the techniques are simple and reasonably risk-free .

You can do this at home , especially as last resort .

Can it make you younger?
Whipsawing is a form of post-natal epigenetic programming . It definitely slows ageing , but regeneration might take a bit more work . Crocs and sharks keep on growing , until they cannot be supported by their ecosystem . I see no reason why humans should be different.

The only way old humans could survive is by emigrating to the outer spaces . Imagine a universe populated by concentric rings of bores . Yuck.


Blackout! The Cost of the Margin .

Blackout !
The Cost of the Margin

A quick theory overview:
For every additional dollar spent on an existing system , we get R dollars in value in return . Seen over time , R is initially much bigger than one , but decreases as the system matures and complexity increases ( ie the Law of Diminishing Returns) .

As the Return R decreases to one , risk assessment plays a bigger and bigger role . Riskier investments are not made or , more importantly , no precautions are taken against the more unlikely risks .

Simultaneously , the complexity of the system increases ( by definition , the simple and easy things get done first .) The number of things that can go wrong increase exponentially . If humans are involved , the system is non-linear as well . In other words , an unlikely outlier can feedback to affect the whole system . But no effort or expense is made to prevent the unlikelier problems . Hence , it is only a matter of time before the system is negatively affected in a major way .

It is a “ Damned if you do , damned if you don’t “ scenario .
Trying to cover the exponentially increasing number of risks must bankrupt any system .
Trying to prevent the system becoming more complex in a competitive environment will lead to such a relative disadvantage that the system (or its CEO ! ) will suffer a catastrophic drawdown .

A Civilization is composed of many systems like these , at various stages . Any individual system will eventually self-destruct , but innovation can create new systems .

Any freezing (or slow-down) will result in destruction by a competitor.
If it is a monopoly , there is no competitor . The eventual collapse will be much quicker and more devastating .

There is one out : a non-competitive environment . Note that the civilizations with the longest history of stability ( Egypt , Christian , Islam , China , Buddhist , Hindu) managed to create both real and virtual pockets of non-competitiveness inside their boundaries (ie Monasteries , Universities ) .

A case study : ESKOM in South Africa .

ESKOM (Electricity Supply Commission) was originally founded to smooth electricity supply from private and municipal electricity generators to the gold mines and their supporting industries on the Rand . It enjoyed one insuperable advantage : by Act of Parliament , it could not be sued for any losses its customers suffered due to
interruption of electricity supplies .

It used advantages of scale , cheap copper (for the wires) and legislation to become the sole supplier of electricity in South Africa . An example are the farmers: many farmers had their own generators , but were compelled by legislation to pay connection fees , even if they did not use ESKOM power . So eventually , they were forced to become ESKOM customers out of economic necessity .

The result was an enormously complex web wires strung all over South Africa to every home . After 1994 , the demand for power exploded . The cost of copper wire exceeded the revenue from any supply through them or the cost of safeguarding them All to be done without raising the cost above inflation level . An impossible task .

So the cost of power has been rising inexorably in real terms .

The Western Province Blackouts 2006

The City of Cape Town used to be self-sufficient in its power requirements . ESKOM promised cheaper and guaranteed power . The local power stations were phased out , except for the Koeberg nuclear station . Maintenance in respect of unlikely events ( like supervision to prevent a bolt being dropped into one of Koeberg’s main generators , cutting undergrowth under transmission lines , cleaning insulators on transmission lines after soot ,birdshit and dirt build-up , wear-and-tear on transformers and switchgear , etc) was not done .

Now the network is under stress , and the most fragile elements are failing first . Hence , the oldest , richest areas which first got electricity tend to be most affected as the engineers try to bring the network into stability while doing decades-needed maintenance . Newly revamped areas (like V&A , Sea Point) seems to be unfairly exempt .

Prognosis : not good.

ESKOM’s marginal return is less than one . If it remains the only electricity supplier , it’s collapse will drag down the whole sub-continent , or require exponentially increasing government subsidies / prices .

A solution is to reduce complexity voluntarily instead of waiting until outside factors does it for you .

A nice way that retains power for all is to split the big cities from the rural areas . The big cities are to be encouraged to build their own stations (eg pebble bed reactors) , while most of the complexity of the rural areas can be offset by renewable energy sources like wind or solar power . Note that central distribution of electrical power via valuable metal wires is never going to have a marginal return bigger than one (ie it will always have to be subsidized) . It is also in our civilization’s interest to keep the rural areas independent from the cities .

Will this happen?

You judge : it is your future.