Ötzi’s Penicillin – The Birch Bark Fungus Called The Birch Polypore

That useful drugs can be found out there in nature is obviously true. That’s how Fleming discovered penicillin after all. It’s also why the ancients used to collect spider webs to put on wounds. Nothing to do with the web, other than that it might have captured some of those lovely drugs. Now we’ve another one to think about, the birch polypore:

Nature’s first aid kit: a fungus growing on the side of birch trees

If you’ve ever stopped to admire a birch tree, you may unknowingly have something in common with a 5,300-year-old mummy called Ötzi.…

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That Laffer Curve Thing – GP Closures Driven By GP Pensions Changes

So, The Guardian tells us that GP surgeries are closing across the country. In fact, there’s been a surge of such in the past couple of years. Gee, why could that be?

GPs have blamed under-resourcing and recruitment difficulties as surgery closures across the UK reach an all-time high, affecting an estimated half a million patients last year. According to research by the medical website Pulse, 138 surgeries shut their doors in 2018, compared with just 18 in 2013.

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The 23 Week, 8.6 Ounces, Baby and Late Abortion

The basic moral question at the heart of the abortion debate is what is a human being? This is one of those things where Peter Singer is analytically correct – we face a Sorites problem here. That insight being some thousands of years old. Here’s a “pile” of sand. Moving one grain over to there doesn’t create two piles. We’ve not stopped our pile being a pile by removing one grain, one grain is not a pile either.…

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Andrew Wakefield’s Terribly Stupid Ideas On Vaccines

That Andrew Wakefield himself is not terribly stupid is obvious. Few have the brains – or the gall – to turn some entirely dubious cod science into the opportunity to be bonking Elle McPherson. So, there is that.

However, certain of his idea are indeed terribly stupid. The specific link between vaccines and autism is simply wrong. It was worth investigating, certainly, but it turns out simply not to be true. So that’s the end of that.…

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Why Does Zolgensma Cost $2.15 Million A Treatment? Because Someone’s Got To Pay

Zolgensma is a new drug out to treat a specific genetic defect which usually kills those who have it by the time they’re two years old. It’s a one time treatment that, at least as far as we know, provides a lifetime cure. It also costs $2.15 million a treatment which is, I think we’ll all agree, a large amount.

That cost is, obviously enough, an indictment of capitalism, plutocracy, free markets, the patriarchy and how we just can’t get an allotment these days.…

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Prodnoses – People Must Be Banned From Eating What They Like

There’s a certain type of person, a character set, that we should never allow to get anywhere near actual power over us. Because their point is that we must all stop whatever it is that we desire to do and start doing as we’re damn well told. The major problem with the European Union being that these are the types employed to write the rulebook for 500 million people. But, of course, we’ve got our own home grown ones as well:

Three-quarters of food bought in UK hospitals is unhealthy, audit shows

No one bothering to ask the obvious question, how much of food consumed is bought from a shop in a hospital?…

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The US Couldn’t Have Ended Up With The National Health Service, Not Possible

That the health care system in the United States could have been different if different decisions were taken is entirely true, as the following article proposes. But it never could have ended up with an entirely government run health care system, as with Britain’s National Health Service. For there is such a thing as path dependency. What happens in the future starts from where we are now. All theoretically available options are not so in reality, given the structure of the polity, for example.

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A Plurality Of Americans Are Anti-Abortion – Shouldn’t It Be Illegal Then?

We’ve all long known that American attitudes to abortion are rather different than they are over here in Europe. We do indeed have people who are vociferously against the practice – I am one of them but this isn’t about me or my prejudices – but there’re many fewer. We really don’t have anything like the very large American pro-life movement and most certainly not the power they have in politics.

Well, OK. And it’s also pretty easy to work out why too.…

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Another Question In A Guardian Headline We Can Answer – No

Betteridge’s Law states that questions in headlines can usually be answered with a no. The more sophisticated version being an injunction to headline writers to not write headlines that can be answered with a no. This being something the subeditors at The Guardian have forgotten:

Could abortion become illegal in America? All signs point to yes

The correct answer is of course no.

To understand this it is necessary to grasp the current situation. Through the 1960s and into the early 70s various states changed their laws upon abortion.…

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There Always Is A Prodnose Telling Us To Swear Off The Booze, Isn’t There?

The latest drivel from the prodnoses and wowsers is that we Brits are doing our drinking in entirely the wrong manner. We, apparently, like to get drunk. This will not do of course so we’re advised that we should in fact drink and yet not get drunk.

Sigh. You can almost hear the tooth sucking at this finding:

Meanwhile, UK drinkers regretted just under a fifth (18.5%) of their drinking sessions, compared to 20% globally.

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