Gravity's Rainbow

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Oligarchic control compromises a society’s ability to make correct decisions in the face of existential threats.

Citizens in countries such as Canada, the United States, Australia, or the Eurozone members, would generally consider themselves to be living in democratic societies. However, when the political systems of Western democracies are scrutinized, clear and pervasive signs of oligarchy emerge.

A 2014 study by American political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page revealed that the great majority of political decisions made in the United States reflect the interests of elites. After studying nearly 1,800 policy decisions passed between 1981 and 2002, the researchers argued that “both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.”

Source: The Ecological Crisis is a Political Crisis – Resilience

Aspergillus fumigatus likes very warm temperatures; it grows happily in the steamy interior of a compost heap, which just happens to be the same temperature as the inside of our bodies. So once it settles in the lungs, the fungus reproduces wildly, spills into the bloodstream, and is conveyed to other organs, where it grows and overwhelms them in turn. That outcome is called invasive aspergillosis, and it is diagnosed as often as 500,000 times a year worldwide, in up to 10 percent of immunocompromised patients. It is deadly—or was, until a tiny group of drugs called triazoles came on the market in the 1990s and 2000s. The triazoles, which have names such as fluconazole and voriconazole, worked against many types of fungal infections—a rare feat, because fungi are more like us biologically than bacteria are, and it is harder to make an antifungal that will kill just them and not us than it is to make an antibiotic. Invasive aspergillosis had been a death sentence, but the triazoles dialed the death rate down from 100 percent to 40 percent. In other words, three out of every five patients who would have died began to survive their infections instead.

And then that trend reversed. At Radboud, the death rate began to creep up again, to 88 percent. Running a review of the samples his department had processed, Verweij spotted the reason: The patients’ infections were resistant to the triazoles, possessing cellular defenses that protected them from the drugs’ attack.

Source: When Tulips Kill – The Atlantic

It didn’t have to happen this way. The massive investment in the fossil fuel infrastructure after the bank bailout could just as easily have gone to renewable technologies, like wind and solar projects, which, in an ironic twist, have been pilloried for their reliance on subsidies and inability to turn a freestanding profit. Today, that’s a better description of the fracking industry, which has been on a massive money-losing streak.

Source: How the Bank Bailout Hobbled the Climate Fight | The New Republic