The recent rise of Buruli Ulcer in Australia is our fault.

Photo by Steve Franklin on Unsplash

The headlines were dramatic. A new flesh-eating disease spread through the Melbourne suburbs and well beyond, disfiguring victims slowly and painfully. The culprit? Buruli ulcer, Mycobacterium ulcerans, a frightening disease that has been with humans for generations and maims thousands annually.

What is it?

Mycobacterium ulcerans is a species of bacterium found mostly in watery places, particularly stagnant ponds and ditches. When it infects human tissue, it produces a toxin called mycolactone, which destroys tissue and causes the characteristic ulcers. The progression of Buruli ulcer is fairly predictable, usually presenting as an…


I was lost without it

Photo by Anastasia Dulgier on Unsplash

It would only take a couple of cuts. A pinch of the skin, a push of the blade, and my torment would be over. My attention was laser-focused on the mole that I thought was getting ready to take my life. I could feel it pulsating under my skin, extending foul black tentacles into my yielding pink flesh, spreading corruption and rot. I wanted it out.

That’s what the nail clippers were for. They were old and sharp. I sat hunched over in my small, dirty hostel room (I booked a private room to avoid prying eyes) holding a pair…


Timber companies are running an eerie anti-mask propaganda campaign.

The last years festivities have included all kinds of things I had never expected — masking up, avoiding my family (like I don’t do that already), and gun-toting idiots wandering my town screaming about pedophiles. What I didn’t expect was to have to spend time arguing with people about whether wearing a mask during a pandemic was a good idea or tyranny. I guess I’m an optimist.

Based on how different the realities we live in have become, it is now obvious that the American people have been what essentially opening…


Adventures in writing for a content farm and how to make a chunk of change in the process.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

For those of you who went to college, do you remember writing half-assed essays at 1:00am before the due date? Was that fun? I’m not super proud to admit it, but I was great at it, often churning out a 5 page essay in 3 hours that could still earn a decent grade.

Well, I learned recently that I could do this as an adult and get paid. …


Himalayan honeysuckle is a weird plant, at least compared to most of the fruit we eat. It’s a very handsome plant, with cane-like stems that droop down and hold pretty white flowers that are loved by bees. The berries that follow the flowers are what makes the plant unusual, at least in my eyes, as they have a burnt sugar taste that is unlike any other fruit I have ever eaten in my life.

The plant seems to grow best in USDA zones 7–9, though this could be extended probably a zone lower with good protection and the plant can…


Adventures in pruning a most unusual fruit.

Header image credit goes to Andrew Dunn, Medlar pomes and leaves, CC BY-SA 2.0

The medlar is a funny fruit. Intriguing, revolting, seductive, rotten — a fruit that you must allow to go a bit ‘off’ before you can take the first bite. This is a fruit straight out of the Middle Ages, being referenced commonly as an allegory and metaphor for both aging (due to the bletting process required before consumption) and more, um, graphic things (due to its unique appearance) in literature from hundreds of years ago. …


One of the largest viruses on Earth has been found in human cells and this is how it might have happened.

Until recently, the potential size of a virus was assumed much smaller than even the smallest bacterium. Nothing larger had been found, and nothing with a genome size that even came close to comparing had been discovered. Viral diversity, however, was and still is grossly underestimated. In 1992, isolates of the amoeba Acanthamoeba polyphaga revealed an unusual particle that stained gram-positively, and was initially though to be a bacterium. It was called Bradfordcoccus until 2003, when a team of…


It’s not because it is good for you.

It’s no secret that meditation is good for you. It is known to counter the harmful effects of stress and lessen the threat of burnout. It increases introspection and gives your mind a chance to ‘recharge.’ All of this, completely free of charge, from the comfort of your floor, couch, or chair.

It’s really not surprising that big corporations have jumped onto the mindfulness bandwagon with gusto, because sneaky integration of mindfulness practices into the workplace allow corporate to keep workers docile and unable to rebel against unfair and abusive workplace practices.


Hantavirus history, ecology, and prevention.

Photo by Alexas Fotos from Pexels

Animals can give us all kinds of nasty diseases, as we were reminded of this year when COVID-19 likely spread from bats to secondary hosts to humans. The US is full of potential zoonotic (animal to human) pathogens, and one of the most famous is hantavirus.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is an emerging pathogen caused by several Hantaviruses throughout the Americas. The hantaviruses are a group of negative-sense RNA viruses in the family Bunyaviridae that are associated with rodent reservoirs, the most famous in the US being Peromyscus maniculatus, the deer mouse, and can infect…


The weird life of a tiny wasp sheds light on the evolution of social behavior in insects.

Photo by USGS on Unsplash

Parasitism is not a lifestyle that lends itself to sociality. Altruism does not seem like a viable behavior if the offspring will be competing for the same limited resource as those of their siblings. In the womb-like environment of the developing host, however, conditions are entirely different. Some chalcidoid wasps in Encyrtidae are known to lay eggs that divide many times into separate embryos in a process called polyembryony and one such wasp, Copidosoma floridanum, has developed a soldier caste. …

Jimmy Candou

A writer living in the PNW who just wants to tend to his garden.

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