Slight hiatus due to illness: discussion thread

What I thought was a mild cold has developed into a bad cold, and though it didn’t reach the flu stage, I suspect I’ve got one of those viruses that’s on the spectrum. (I did get my flu shot last fall, as all of you should have.)

At any rate, after a day in bed I’m on the mend, and if the laws of physics are salubrious, I’ll be posting again tomorrow. In the meantime, Greg has promised to put up one post today, and if you’ve come over here and don’t find anything, my apologies.

I suggest—and this is an experiment—that readers may want to have a discussion thread: bring up those things that are on your mind (politics, science, whatever); and we’ll see if this works.

As for me, unshaven and unwashed, I’m throwing on my clothes, driving to the store, and loading up on juice and soup.

Onwards and upwards.



  1. sshort
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    maybe start a thread related to a couple of recent ones on science and politics…

    Is Trump a virus?

    • sshort
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      and get better, PCC (E). been some nasty, persistent respiratory bugs going around

      • chrism
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Hope you feel better very soon!

    • BobTerrace
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Trump is a prion.

  2. Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    May I recommend ginger tea? Instead of buying tea bags, I just add powdered ginger, honey, and a bit of bottled lemon juice into a cup of hot water. The ginger seems to help. The rest just makes it all the better. Hope you feel better soon.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      And add a tiny bit of cayenne pepper if you’ve got a cough.

      • Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Ooh! I’ll try that next time. Thanks for the tip!

        • Merilee
          Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          Hold your nose and take a small swig. I think it kind of “sands” your throat.

          • Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

            Sounds like clearing mucous, which the peppery ginger also does. I like that.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        And a fifth of Southern Comfort; never forget the Southern Comfort. 🙂

        • Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

          You, sir, would make a great husband! That sort of recipe would nurse any spouse back to health, with or without chicken soup on the side.

    • chrism
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      OK, answering as a properly qualified doctor of medicine (retired) here: My personal recommendation for a cold is a hot toddy with rum, lemon juice, sugar and hot water. It doesn’t affect the duration of the viral attack: it merely makes you care much less about it. Repeat Q2H until you either feel better or sober up, whichever comes first.

      • Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Ah, but the ginger provides a sort of pepperiness that works well on a sore throat and/or a stuffy nose. (I, too, am a qualified doctor.)

        • Merilee
          Posted January 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          Ginger’s a panacea, plus it tastes great!

          • Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

            Yes, ginger will def. help the congestion and inflammation.

      • Posted January 22, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Sounds well. Someone must set up a study about whether the rum disinfects the throat.

        • nicky
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

          We used red wine to disinfect wounds, works pretty well.
          For sour throats and upper respiratory tract infections it is probably more in chrism’s vein: if it doesn’t help, it makes it more bearable.

      • Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        A warm mojito, eh? Use honey instead of sugar. Garlic too and fresh-squeezed citrus juice.

    • Larry
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      Yes! Ginger tea. Easily available here in Taiwan, but I experienced the benefits of using it for colds in the U.S. I suggest not diluting it, and let its spiciness burn the throat as much as one can take it. Note: careful though if you have GERD; my experience is that it can irritate the esophagus.

      • Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        Tea made with freshly grated or smashed ginger is better than those ginger tea packets. Good for congestion, nausea and indigestion.

  3. Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    “As for me, unshaven…”

    So, this is not a discussion question (or maybe it’s “Should Jerry do this?”), but have you thought about growing a beard like the one you have when you were younger?


    • Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Nice! Actually shows off his smile!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Good to see that Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin got the band back together!

      • Hempenstein
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink


    • chrism
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Stupid me, I have a collection of several hundred straight razors. Make shaving a delight instead of a chore, and you will want to join me in enjoying the reduction of whiskers.

  4. Howard Neufeld
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Jerry – feel better soon!

  5. Greg Geisler
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Please rest and recuperate. I’m lost without your posts.

  6. Mark Joseph
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Wishing PCC(E) a speedy recovery. And yes, I did get my flu shot.

  7. Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink


  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “unshaven and unwashed”

    Who shaves on a weekend? I’d as lief drag a razor across my face on a weekend or holiday as wrap a tie around my throat. That stuff can wait for Monday (unless I can come up with an excuse to avoid it even then).

    • BobTerrace
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      If I didn’t shave for an entire weekend, I would need to use a machete on Monday morning.

  9. tubby
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Feel better soon! Orson was sick this week as well, and got treated to some Whiskas cat jerky (made from chicken, not cats) which he received with an enthusiastic purr that’s usually reserved for turkey and yogurt.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink


      • tubby
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Orson loves yogurt. Possibly even more than he loves turkey.

        • Merilee
          Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          Weird kitteh (but aren’t they all??)

          • tubby
            Posted January 22, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

            Well, he also likes winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, acorn), butter, mango juice, and we’re still having a discussion about whether or not cats drink coffee (NO!). Dairy products and pumpkin are apparently not uncommon for cats to like.

  10. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    This morning on Meet the Press, Kellyanne Conway, defending White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments regarding the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration, introduced the concept of “alternative facts”. Alternative facts [sic] have been in the foreground of Trump’s campaign (nearly every time he opens his mouth), but such a straightforward acknowledgment of their “alternative” nature is shocking — maybe more shocking than the alternative facts (falsehoods, exaggerations, lies, fake news, etc.) themselves.

    • Robert Bray
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Until journalists have the courage to look the Conways of the world in the eye and say, there is no such thing as ‘alternative facts, madam. If you deny a fact that is a fact, then you are lying,’ the perpetrators will get away with such sophistry. And the meme will stick.

      I didn’t see the show that Mr. Barnard mentions, since I nearly can’t stand to turn on the television for ANYTHING these days. But I very much doubt that the interrogator of Ms. Conway did any such thing as demanded above. She therefore wins, lies and lying are euphemized into ‘alternative facts,’ and the English-speaking world loses another finger’s grip on the hand-hold of reality.

    • W.Benson
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Might alternative facts lead to alternative truths?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink


        But it would be unfair to accuse the Trump of lying. As with Nixon (‘anything the President does is not illegal’), Trump undoubtedly believes that anything he says is automatically true – or will become so.


    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Sean Spicer’s the guy who, when Melania Trump boosted chunks of her convention speech from Michelle O, claimed that both of them had lifted it from Sparkle Princess of My-Little-Pony fame.

      How this guy has the chutzpah to show his face again in public, I’ll never understand.

      Yet, he’s who Trump has made his mouthpiece.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Spicer meets the criteria for any Trump spokesperson — he takes orders, doesn’t ask questions, and there’s no lie he finds too demeaning to tell.

    • Historian
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      On the one hand Conway’s remarks are shocking. On the other they aren’t because a hallmark of an authoritarian regime is to wage war on the truth and a free press. This is what his press secretary did yesterday when he attacked the press on the inane question of how many people watched the inauguration. Speaking at the CIA yesterday, Trump once against blasted the press as dishonest. Authoritarians always need an enemy and Trump has chosen the press. What Trump is saying to the nation, particularly his delusional supporters, is this: “The press is trying to destroy me. Don’t believe it, believe me, I tell the truth.” Trump and his team will repeat these falsehoods time and time again. Lying continuously and without remorse has worked for conservatives and Trump believes it will work for him.

      The press is pushing back against Trump’s lies. I hope this continues. Liberals and Democrats must also push back. They must realize that they are waging a war for the hearts and minds of the American people. This war cannot be waged just for the period before an election. It must take place on a daily basis, particularly on the state and local level. As Michael Moore said at the Washington march, the Democratic leadership must be replaced by new group of younger and more diverse people, who are not afraid to enunciate what the Democratic Party stands for. And as Bill Maher said on his most recent show, it is time to thank the Clintons and say goodbye. Their political philosophy, which to some degree affected the Obama administration, must now be discarded for a new one, which on the one hand could appeal to the white working and middle class while not alienating the diverse coalition that Obama assembled.

      The bottom line is that the new Democratic Party must resist Trump without hesitation, do much better political organizing, offer a true liberal program, and recognize that trying to reach an accommodation with Republicans is neither possible nor desirable.

      • Garry VanGelderen
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Read ‘The Authoritarians’. Free online at:

        • Historian
          Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the link. I downloaded the book. People should also take a look at Altemeyer’s comment on the Tea Party. It’s only 15 pages. It provides a nice summary of its authoritarian makeup. Although he wrote this comment in 2010, Altemeyer’s analysis certainly applies to the bulk of the Trump supporters.

          • pali
            Posted January 22, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, I’ve been recommending it to people since Trump won the primaries. Really helps make the mindset we’re up against somewhat understandable.

            • Posted January 22, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

              I read it 3 or 4 years ago. It’s a great read and backed up by a lot of research.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 6:15 am | Permalink

        What Trump is saying to the nation, particularly his delusional supporters, is this: “The press is trying to destroy me. Don’t believe it, believe me, I tell the truth.”

        It’s interesting to note how often Trump says, “Believe me” in his speeches. Methinks the Donald doth protest too much.

        • Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          In everything he says. It’s always: This is GREAT! This is THE GREATEST!

          He just is incapable of shedding his used car salesman white jacket, plaid pants, and loafers.

      • Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink


    • Pliny the in Between
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Saw that bit as well. Felt compelled to respond. Orwell Lives.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Kellyanne is already looking a big haggard – being a spin doctor is taking its toll on her.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 22, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          I’ve long thought Kellyanne embodied the French concept of jolie laide. But lately, she’s lookin’ less jolie, and a whole lot more laide.

          Someone told me it’s just her outside coming to reflect her internal moral depredations. Makes her the anti-Dorian Gray, I suppose.

    • Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Were the photos of the 2017 inauguration airbrushed or photoshopped to get rid of all those people who attended but aren’t visible?

      We may hate it, but we should get used to the fact that if Trump or the people in his administration are talking, they are lying.

      • Posted January 22, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Well, part of their BS was that they covered the Mall with protective, white tiles, linoleum, whatever it was, which meant that you could more easily see where nobody was. When Obama was inaugurated, they didn’t use them, the bare grass was there. So the vast swaths of area that the press is saying were Obama’s attendees were really grass (hence I think the comment above that someone made about grass). So the lying press is claiming the big Obama crowds based on grass. No doubt you see the truth now (LMAO).

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      I believe Kellyanne Conway is the most accomplished dissembler I’ve ever seen. It’s a great talent. By that I mean her ability to avoid the question, change the subject, and tell bald-faced lies with a straight face is unmatched by anyone since at least Ari Fleischer.

      • pali
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. She’s amazing at her job, an absolute master of spin and changing the subject.

    • bric
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      When the British Cabinet minister was caught out in a lie he at least came up with the more elegant ‘I was economical with the actualité’.
      On the other hand, he also said ‘I am not a fascist. Fascists are shopkeepers, I am a Nazi.’
      And, perhaps reminiscent of the 45th POTUS:
      ‘I only can properly enjoy carol services if I am having an illicit affair with someone in the congregation. Why is this? Perhaps because they are essentially pagan, not Christian, celebrations.’

      • bric
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Sorry the Minister was Alan Clark, son of Kenneth Clark of ‘Civilization’ fame

    • Merilee
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      That interview was PAINful!!! Btw, I can do a mean Kellyanne imitation should you require an emetic😖

      • ratabago
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:10 am | Permalink

        “…I can do a mean Kellyanne imitation…”

        Naturally. If it wasn’t mean it wouldn’t be accurate.

        • Merilee
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink


        • Merilee
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of Nixon’s press secretary’s mantra – “Last week’s statement is inoperative”.

      As a connoisseur of doublespeak I love that.


    • Posted January 22, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      My contribution… first time I’ve used this image site, so hope it works.

  11. Geoff Toscano
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

    Discussion point. I’ve never even thought about having a flu jab; I’d always assumed they were for…well, actually I’m not sure. Should I have one (I’m 64)? Is there a downside?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      I’ve had a flu shot every year for about 25 years. I haven’t had the flu in that time and haven’t noticed any downside. I started because my employer provided them for free, and now in NZ I get them for free anyway because of a medical condition.

      Here, if you were here and can get it for free (over 65, chronic medical condition, your employer pays for it etc) and you don’t, I’d consider you selfish. Most medical care is free for most, and a lot get it all free. All hospital care is free for everyone. Sometimes in winter hospitals get overwhelmed by people with flu who could have got a free flu jab. Then specialist appointments, surgeries etc have to be postponed for others because doctors are too busy or there aren’t enough beds.

      • Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Another aspect is that the more people protected by vaccination, the safer the environment is for those who cannot be vaccinated, from infants under 6 months of age to patients with immune-deficit diseases.

        Example: If a crowd of 100 people has two who cannot be vaccinated and 98 are can and are, chances are good that “herd immunity” protects the vulnerable two.

        Yes, it is selfish to not have a flu vaccine if one is medically able.

      • chrism
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        You might stop being so very sensible that you cause embarrassment to the Americans. 🙂

        I was rather horrified to learn that the most effective actions I ever took as a family doctor were to administer flu shots. Something like 1 in 300 lives saved for first timers and 1 in 200 lives saved for those who were having repeat flu vaccinations. I tried to explain that as someone gaining a repertoire of immunity that could grow as more items were added to it.
        Given that my own lymphocyte count is now down to nearly zero (love you, fludarabine!) I am sure to get a flu vaccine: a cold or a flu virus might be enough to end me and my ability to annoy the creationists in this rural community.

      • Posted January 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        My daughter was in the hospital recently for surgery and so many people were coming into the ER with flu that they had to close the ER.

        I always get flu shots. I almost always get a sore arm (sometimes with a big red,lump)and minor flu symptoms. Then, I usually get the flu anyway. For example, I got my flu shot in October before taking off on a three week trip and came down with a very nasty flu that lasted several weeks. I blame this on the fact that I was born with asthma and almost died of it as a child. I was chronically susceptible to colds and flus throughout my life. But, that’s just me. I still think it’s worthwhile to get flu shots.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          An expert can correct me, but I think it takes a couple of weeks before the vaccine fully protects you, and then you’re just protected for the most common strains of the season, not all the strains out there (as I’m sure you know!). It may be that you caught the flu shortly after your shot, or even already had it.

          I’ve also been told, but I don’t know if it’s accurate, that having the vaccine can lessen your symptoms if you get the flu. If that’s the case, it’s probably helping you even when you get the flu.

          • Merilee
            Posted January 22, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

            My pharmacist, who gave me my shot this year, said it took a month to be fully effective. Not sure if thst means somewhat effective before that…

            • Helen Hollis
              Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:23 am | Permalink

              I have always been told two weeks by my doctors and my pharmacist. I live in the US.

        • Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

          Rowena, I too have asthma, though it seems not nearly as bad as yours.

          In the past, pretty much every time I got a cold or the flu, I got a lung infection. It was bad.

          I started a new medication last fall, Singulair (the generic version of it: Montelukast) and I’ve had two colds this winter and no lung infections.

          (My other meds are (and were, all the time) Advair and albuterol inhalers.)

          Everyone is different regarding medications of course; but if you aren’t taking Singulair, it might be worth a try. (My brother also gets excellent relief from Singulair, he’s had much more serious asthma since childhood.)

      • Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        Me too. 🙂

    • Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      “Is there a downside?”

      No, not really. If you’ve never had a flu jab before you might feel a little “under the weather” that evening, and might have a slightly sore arm, but those symptoms are nothing compared to flu (and mean that your immune system is reacting to the jab, which is good). If you have flu jabs yearly you won’t even suffer the above.

      Overall, vaccines are one of the huge pluses of modern medicine, and it’s sense to take all that are available and appropriate to you.

    • ploubere
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I get them regularly. They’re not anywhere near 100% effective, since they have to try to predict which strains will come out over the next year. Some years they guess better than others. But it’s still worth it, and no downside, really.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      1) I’ve gotten a flu shot every year for the last probably 30, except for one, and I got the flu. Altho I was religious enough in that regard, that experience was enough to give me a booster dose.

      2) One of Jerry’s and my W&M classmates, who he knew pretty well too, had the flu and DIED just this past Wed up in Madison WI. Medical examiner ruled heart attack. (This according to his sisters/girlfriend.)

      So yes, get the goddam shot!!

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        I started getting the flu shot every year about 15 years ago, when I was still teaching high school. One year, I had had 3 different flus by October. As my doctor said: “You spend your work day in an ocean of germs. You really should get the flu shot.”

        I have not had the flu since or even so much as a cold! Flu shots are free here, and where once one had to get it at the doctor’s office, now I just walk into local pharmacy, where the pharmacist administers it.

        • Claudia Baker
          Posted January 22, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          And, get well soon PCC!

          • Helen Hollis
            Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:30 am | Permalink

            Hoping the same. Please take care of yourself, liquids and sleep.

        • Helen Hollis
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:27 am | Permalink

          Good on you. Hope you continue to show by example how to utilize the tools available to you to protect yourself and those who can not against the flu.

      • keith cook +/-
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        I have had the flu once in i don’t know how many years, rarely in short, and i work in a very busy people orientated industry.
        I take sick leave and use alcohol wipes on work stations and hands when feeling under the weather and when i deem it necessary. I don’t take the goddam shots and never will and now i’m being selfish for being healthy and having good workplace practices for the anti transmission of diseases (very grand and thoughtful of me).
        I do badger work colleagues who come to work sick when sick leave is provided for in their contract. Needless to say, this brings out the alcohol wipes big time.
        I rarely use antibiotics and cannot remember when i last did.

        • Hempenstein
          Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          The needles are a lot smaller than they were when we were kids, and they’ve learned how to sharpen them, too. You’d be surprised how little you feel it.

        • Helen Hollis
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:36 am | Permalink

          What are your objections to getting the shot other than to call it the goddam (sic) shots?

          • Hempenstein
            Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

            If you’re referring to me, I don’t think you’re reading my post correctly.

      • Mike Savage
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        John…that sounds like it could only be one guy. Are my fears justified?

        • Hempenstein
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

          Sadly, yes.

          • Hempenstein
            Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            Also, if you’re on FB, you might seek out his page and send a friend request. Those close to him are posting news on it. Or email Jerry.

      • Posted January 22, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Hempenstein, who was that classmate? Email me; if you had already, I must have missed it.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:33 am | Permalink

      I was suspicious of flu shots for quite a while, since they were offered free by my employer – ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’. Not helped by the fact that they were always given on Fridays, so if the rumoured side-effects were encountered it would be in our own time…

      The industrial nurse eventually convinced me they were legit.


      • Helen Hollis
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:39 am | Permalink

        Employers of minimum wage servants get flu shots for free. Wonder why? They know it works and don’t want their slave labor to miss a single hour let alone a day or days.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 3:31 am | Permalink

          Well I wouldn’t characterise my past employer that badly. Their industrial relations were more clumsy than malicious or machiavellian.

          Though I wouldn’t be surprised if some health & safety committee had set itself some target…


    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      Every year in October we have a “Flu jab Saturday” at our local medical centre, where anyone over 60 (I think) gets a free jab. I got mine this year as usual, but like PCC(E), I’ve just suffered three days of a bad flu-like cold (very achy limbs) (perhaps I caught it from this site 😉 ). It left me very fatigued, but this morning I feel much better. Whether it was just a bad cold, or a flu much mitigated by the jab, I’ll never know. I would definitely recommend the jab, which is painless, and I haven’t had a reaction for years.

      • Geoff Toscano
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Well I asked the question and now I’ve been told. I’ve made an appointment for a flu jab.

        I really hadn’t appreciated the ramifications of getting the vaccination. I’m reasonably healthy and take no regular medication, hence almost never see my doctor. I’d always assumed the jab was only for older people, or those less healthy. Now I know better!

  12. Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Hello all.

    I’ve been wanting to send this to Jerry’s community for comment and I think this is a fair opportunity.

    Several members of my family are having their DNA tested (23 And Me, and Ancestry (dot com I think)). I think they are expecting too much from the DNA information but it’s kind of interesting.

    My questions are:

    1) What are others’ experience with these services?

    2) Did you sign up for the email exchange service? If so, what were the results of that?

    3) If one brother is tested, is there anything really to be gained by having a second brother tested by the same service (beyond that always possible surprise of different Dads or Moms!)?

    4) If you were to recommend a service, which one?

    5) There are pretty wind claims about the geographic specificity they can provide for your forebears. Based on what I know about human DNA, these claims seem quite exaggerated. How specific can they really be for women and for men?

    I’d love to hear what any of Jerry’s readers have to say on this subject! Thanks!

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      I had mine done by, along with someone who might have been a close relative, but who turned out not to be.

      I did, however, discover a second cousin once removed whose aunt(my father’s first cousin) had gotten a load of information from my grandmother that I didn’t have, so it turned out quite well anyway.

      I also have a good friend who was adopted as an infant who just discovered her birth family this past Christmas. That, too, was a positive experience for her.

      I’m still hoping to find the piece of my Swiss family that is missing. I had one cousin surface on Ancestry as a result of our family tree that I had posted in a public space. I have pretty much put my American family completely together, but I’m still hoping for the immigrant connection on my mother’s side.

      I haven’t tried to find my immigrant family on my father’s side because both my father’s parents came from very small villages in Italy, and I know I’ll find cousins easily in both places when I finally get there. My Italian grandfather came from a village where the last (2010) census showed 476 residents, many of whom have the last names of my father’s family. I’m probably related to ALL of them! L

    • Posted January 22, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      1. I’ve had my done by 23andMe. My Mother in law (now deceased) had hers done. Also my wife and daughter. My son says no, he’d rather stay off the grid. I’ve had good experience with them.

      2. I’ve corresponded with several relatives, all of which have proven to be real relatives. Most are from branches of the tree that split off five or six generations ago.

      3. I’m not sure that not having my son tested is a real detriment but I’ll leave that to geneticists to answer. I’d be interested to.

      4. As I said, 23andMe has been good.

      5. I think you have to beware the extent you take some of the traits and tracking as truths. And 23andMe tells you that.

      That said, I can think of some positive things that the testing has revealed. As an example, whether you are lactose intolerant is dependent on a single gene. My son-in-law is lactose intolerant but my daughter is homozygous for tolerance. So that means my grandson will be tolerant.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Thanks for your replies!

  13. Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Rest up, relax and watch something FUNNY on TV!

  14. Ken Phelps
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    An excellent day to lie back in the sweet spot and listen to Dead Can Dance – “Into the Labyrinth”.

  15. Josh
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Topic – Can DNA be thought of as parasitic?

    eg. Humans have an easier time either killing or not stepping in to help people who are dying (Rwanda) when they look different from us, but the closer they are to us in appearance (greater chance of sharing our genetic makeup) the more likely we are to help them (or at least not kill them – right away).
    Can all evolutionary behaviors be explained solely on the maximization of propagation in the long run of that organisms DNA?
    Can’t altruism be explained both individually and in groups as having the same basis.
    Not being in the field, I accept that this may be either simple or obvious thoughts.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      No. Perhaps look at it this way. One single (specific) nucleotide base change in your genome is enough to give you any one of of a myriad of horrible heritable syndromes. Sickle-cell anemia for one. Hardly a parasitic situation if a change makes things worse.

      • Josh
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        Not sure that I follow. Some changes are fatal and some very few might prove advantageous, most don’t mutate and can be thought of perhaps as doing whatever it takes to maximize their propagation in the host and future hosts in whom they exist. Again, I am speaking as neither a geneticist or an evolutionary biologist.

        • Hempenstein
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          I think you’re trying to add a layer on top of the Selfish Gene concept – one that is unnecessary.

          Parasites and hosts have separate genomes.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Yes: Cancer.

  16. Steve Pollard
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Get well soon Jerry. There is a lot of nasty stuff going around on this side of the Atlantic as well. As good a cure for a cold as anything, I think, is the remedy of the late English conductor Sir John Barbirolli: put on your warmest sweater, put on a record of Beethoven’s Ninth, stand in front of the mirror and conduct along with the music for an hour and a half. Bound to make you feel better!

    My question to the community is this: our Prime Minister, Theresa May, is apparently going to be the first foreign leader to visit Trump. I expect, unfortunately, that she will make nice and pander to him, in the forlorn hope of getting a special deal for the UK post-Brexit. But, if we could write her script for her, what would we actually like her to say? I will kick off with “Start listening to people who really know what they’re talking about: medical, economic, environmental, sociological and international experts, hell, even the CIA, but above all scientists!”

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      If I was writing the script, she’d start off saying, “Don’t for a minute think I’m Neville Chamberlain in a skirt.”

      • David Coxill
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        What a disturbing image .
        Spike Milligan once described him in one of his books as a man who did Prime Minister Impressions .

    • bric
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      I think this is V. Bad Idea, what’s the point of talking to persons you cannot possibly expect to speak the truth? Will she take an interpreter? Will she wear her tartan trousers?

  17. Mark Joseph
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    While I am always a threat to hijack any open discussion into a thread on books, who’s reading what, and recommendations, I’ll make this hopefully not halfhearted effort to limit myself to one question: Has anyone here read Irving Stone’s novel The Origin, described on the cover as “The Magnificent Saga of Charles Darwin”? If so, how would you rate it? It’s very long, but I don’t mind long books if they are good ones.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t read the book you mentioned, though it sounds like it might be interesting.

      On the subject of books, I just wanted to add that someone on this site (can’t remember who it was) mentioned Adam Hochschild and recommended his books. I started with “The Unquiet Ghost: Russian Remember Stalin” and was hooked on Hochschild! I have just finished “To End All Wars: How the First World War Divided Britain” and have now read all of his books. I patiently await what comes next from him – whatever that may be.

      Just wanted to say thanks to that person who bought my attention to this wonderful writer and historian.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      I’m reading At the Existentialist Cafe … Sarah Bakewell, which I first saw on WEIT.

      She’s a stylish writer. Her pacing and character development and interactions are perfectly tuned to my ear. She sets the philosophy (some of it ridiculous, some profound) into an historical context, deft at jumping across dates and characters.

      I’ve long considered my philosophy, to the extent I have one, as a vague existentialism/phenomenalism, without having a clear idea of what those were. Apparently the phenomenalist and existentialist philosophers didn’t either.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        But I bet that didn’t really surprise you. 🙂

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t read the Darwin novel, but have found Stone a companionable guide through other long works.

    • Marilee Lovit
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      I am reading “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning” by Timothy Snyder 2015. The author was a guest on a Diane Rehm show in December which was on the topic of fascism. He was so articulate and intelligent, I bought his book. I recommend it highly. Not a happy subject, but important to understand how this happened in the past.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        That Snyder book’s been on my TBR pile for a couple of years. Just started Robert Caro’s monumental soon-to-be 5 vol bio of LBJ. Very readable.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      I have read Stone’s The Origin.

      Although it’s not his best, I enjoyed it and learned a lot.

      (*Those are, in my opinion: The Agony and the Ecstasy (Michelangelo) and Lust for Life (van Gogh).)

  18. David Coxill
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi ,Jerry hope you are feeling better ,did you get my email of the beer bottle?.
    No cats were harmed in the process.

  19. J Bonnesante
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Helpful advice: the next time you feel sick, the moment you first think you might be getting sick (when you first get that little tickle in the back of the throat), start taking vitamin C. 2000mg once an hour for 3 hours, followed by 1000mg an hour for the rest of the day (and overnight I take 2000mg each time I wake up). You have to do this as soon as possible when you think you’re getting sick, or it won’t be nearly as effective. You can stop or at least taper off after two days, at which point the die is cast.

    If you do this you either won’t get the cold or will get it but it with far lower severity. I used to get severe colds frequently before I found out about this advice (from Linus Pauling), and now I can generally avert them entirely or at worst get mild colds.

    I know skeptics tend to dismiss this because there aren’t peer-reviewed studies proving it works. I tend to think the studies are doing it wrong (e.g. dosage too low or starting too late), but either way I don’t care, because I have over a decade of experience showing that it’s tremendously effective for me. You have nothing to lose, so consider trying it the next time you think you’re getting sick.

    • Helen Hollis
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:41 am | Permalink

      I hate to sound skeptical, but does this come right out of Linus Pauling’s playbook?

      • nicky
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        Triple helix?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

          That was unkind! 😉


    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      I know skeptics tend to dismiss this because there aren’t peer-reviewed studies proving it worksisn’t any reliable evidence for it being effective in humans generally. I tend to think the studies are doing it wrong (e.g. dosage too low or starting too late), but either way I don’t care, because I have over a decade of experience showing that it’s tremendously effective for me.

      There, fixed that for you.

      And, might I add that your disdain for reliable evidence is exactly what the religious use to justify their beliefs and actions?


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        I find, if I get a sore on my tongue, a good big dose of Vitamin C usually makes it go away. Anecdotal, I know. (But note, I rarely eat fruit so I’m probably Vitamin-C deficient most of the time).


    • Arlene
      Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Thank you so much! By lucky coincidence I read this as I could tell I was just getting what would be a bad cold (sore throat on one side of my throat). I gave it a try. A few days on I have not gotten sick and the sore throat has passed. Unheard of for me with a sore throat of that nature, and this is the only thing I did out of the ordinary.

      As much as I love Professor Coyne’s writings this is the most helpful advice practically speaking that I’ve read here. I will certainly try it again in the future. Thank you again for sharing it and I urge others to try it as well.

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      I appreciate the advice, but scientific studies show no effect of Vitamin C on cold onset or duration.

      When you say you don’t care about that, because you have lots of experience showing it works for you, well, that’s EXACTLY what I hear in angry emails from homeopaths: “It works for me, so I know it’s true.”

  20. alexandra Moffat
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    take care of yourself – get well soon –

  21. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    “I suggest—and this is an experiment—that readers may want to have a discussion thread: ”

    Oh? I thought they all turned into discussion threads after a while. 😎


  22. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    OK. National Geographic channel continues to get worse. They’re currently touting a great new series exploring Hell (and somehow I don’t think it’s a
    Norwegian travelogue

    Something that annoys me intensely about all NG’s ‘docos’ is the way they over-dramatise every single thing. It started with ‘reality’ shows involving big trucks where every minor incident had to turn into a major drama and a near-disaster (seriously, are *all* trucking firms that disorganised and barely competent?) and now it’s spread to every other doco like e.g. ‘Megastructures’ – for example one they just played (several years out of date) about the Airbus A380 – typical quote: “Now they must attach the wings to the fuselage. They must fit with millimetre precision or the whole project will be at risk”. Well, yeah, like every other component on every other airliner ever manufactured. By turning everything into a near-disaster the significant aspects just get swamped in the noise.


  23. Nancy
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Sorry you’re under the weather. I haven’t read all these comments but, I really hope you’re planning on writing something/anything about the Women’s March on Chicago (and worldwide). I was there and it was amazing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it is the beginning of a new movement of activism. Personally, I will be working towards removing Peter Roskam (Kane County, IL GOP Congressman) from office. Starting at local level, we’re told.

    • Dale Franzwa
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      My ex-wife and 400 of her closest friends marched. I was amused by Trump asking why all those people hadn’t voted. My ex- and her friends all live in Canada.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      I posted yesterday about the March(es). My wife and one colleague marched (my old knees can’t take that much standing around on pavement anymore — I was the driver.)

      What I said was: Yes, the March(es) was wonderful, you go girls!

      And then: Now I expect you (all) to keep this momentum going and act. Write your congress people. Organize. Support those organizations that are fighting the fight.

      And more than anything else: VOTE. And help/convince others to vote too. Hold an Absentee Voting party at your home. Talk to college students and other young people about the importance of voting for their futures.

      One thing I just did was subscribe to the NYT online. I don’t even like reading newspapers and I’ve never subscribed to one before. But I do want a strong, free, oppositional press to continue speaking truth to the authoritarians. I did it as a donation in support of a free society. I encourage others to do the same if they can afford to. Especially in the new era of “alternative facts” and fake news.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      You were all indeed Awesome!

  24. nicky
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I hope you’ll be better soon. A transient condition, we hope.
    Since we are on a discussion thread, I think the democrats (I mean democratically inclined people) in the US should not so much organise marches against Trump, as see to it that the 2000 and 2016 election frauds will not be repeated. Gerrymandering, “Crosscheck” and provisional votes, partisan oversight of the counting, the Jim Crow style (we call that Apartheid here) allocation of voting stations, voting day not being a public holiday, etc, etc.
    The thing is, organising marches is easy, Countering the types of electoral fraud as mentioned above is not.
    How to proceed? What can be done? Are there some brilliant minds here?

  25. Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I just thought of a new descriptive phrase for the Drumpfenführer:

    The Drumpfenführer has: Diarrhea of Mendacity

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      No: Rev. B: Liarrhea.

      Der Drumpfenführer has: Liarrhea.

  26. Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Get well soon, Jerry!

    Rest is the main thing. Take that Nyquil!

    I got sick last week, and when it was really going, I spent 21 out of 31 hours sleeping with the help of Nyquil, my Dr. Morpheus!

  27. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Here’s my (?) idea up for dissection : religious warning labels. Analogous to smoking labels on cigarettes. Example: use especially for schools that don’t overtly describe how far their religion infiltrates otherwise secular education.

    I’ve seen preschools play hide-the-ball with their religiosity, and parents who can’t follow that faith send their kids there.

    Problem: too much like explicit lyrics warning labels?

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      What would one attach them to?

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Put a label on anything. Say advertisements. Examples : schools. Sometimes they use banners advertising the school viewable from the street. Put a Scarlet Letter on there, or something. Newspaper ads – can be detailed.

        … other example : the YMCA : ads for their programs get a label. Maybe I’m a pedantic meanie digging the YMCA, someone can call me out, but I never hear any grief over the YMCA.

        Label rough draft : … I’ll have to think about it.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Pretend I didn’t write the part about “can’t follow” – poor writing.

  28. Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Can any physicists here please explain Negative Pressure in QM to this layperson? Thanks.

  29. Josh
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Interesting just how many non evidence based remedies have cropped up on PCC’s thread. Is all lost?

  30. Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I see posting has somewhat resumed again so I hope PCC(e) is feeling better!

  31. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Not much time to comment about this : PCC(E) and David Rubin’s discussion was scintillating. Only through 1/4 so far….

    A thought : DNA sequencing: can you imagine the faith-poisoned creationists in government halting any funding for it – because it supports evolution? Maybe a good plot for fiction… alternative fiction… like alternative non-fiction….

  32. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    There are comments on vitamins and other things. Having been experimenting with vitamins and such for a long time,and being emboldened by Linus Pauling’s vitamin C thing, I would like to point out a couple things:

    Daily values from the US FDA (?) are not necessarily up-to-date or precise.

    Not all vitamins have unlimited dosage: example niacin. Overdoses treat a lipid disorder. This could be undesirable.

    Other parts of the equation to consider :

    Pee : excess dosages could just leave the body unused.

    Kidneys : work to separate waste from blood. When you put excess unused material in your blood, the kidneys work more I THINK.

    Linus Pauling I think adjusted his comments on vitamin C at some point, but I don’t have a source handy.

    Personally, I would experience generally feeling lousy some days. As part of the experiment I quit the once daily vitamins.

  33. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    One more vitamin anecdote if I may :

    I had a real bad sneeze/runny nose one time, and at my wits end drank half a gallon (1.89 L) of pure orange juice within an hour or so. Who knows what it was. My symptoms seemed to disappear soon thereafter. So impressed I was, that, when asking someone for a letter of recommendation the next day, I recounted the tale, attributing the apparent positive result as being caused by vitamin C. The individual remarked (not exact quote): “doesn’t that sound more likely due to the volume of water you drank?” I was stunned.

    I didn’t get the recommendation.

    • Posted January 24, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      My mother (a reasonably sensible person and a nurse by training) always recommended to “push fluids” when suffering a cold. I am not sure why (in the absence of indigestion and other routes to dehydration) but …

  34. J B
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    As I said, every scientific study I’ve seen gets either the dosage, the timing, or both wrong.

    This method just worked for me two days ago; I am not sick and not miserable at this very moment thanks to megadoses of vitamin C. I “don’t care” because I’m not willing to suffer a severe cold simply because there aren’t scientific studies verifying something I know for a fact works for me. I’m as much of a rationalist as anyone I’ve ever known, but I also respect Emerson’s warning about a foolish consistency.

    I’ve offered this advice with the intent of helping you and others here avoid unnecessary misery. If someone would prefer to get sick rather than take some vitamin C that at worst would pass harmlessly through their system, simply because taking vitamin C for a cold triggers their “woo” button, that’s up to them.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:44 am | Permalink

      “[…] take some vitamin C that at worst would pass harmlessly through their system […]”

      How do we know it is harmless?
      What is the threshold for harm?

      • ratabago
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        The threshold for harm in healthy adult individuals kicks in from a little over 2 grams a day, taken orally, and varies from individual to individual. Most people will know when they exceed their personal threshold for vitamin C tolerance, as they will get diarrhoea. Unlucky individuals will get kidney stones with high vitamin C doses as it causes precipitation of calcium oxalate, This is mostly seen in individuals already suffering from kidney disease. Individuals suffering from hereditary hemochromatosis can suffer tissue damage due to excessive iron uptake associated with high doses of vitamin C. Also, some drugs interact badly with vitamin C. But anyone on such drugs should have been warned of this by their doctor and pharmacist, and know to avoid it. High doses of vitamin C are also associated with reduced uptake of vitamin B12, and of copper.

        But most healthy individuals won’t run into these more extreme problems taking short term high doses of vitamin C, as the digestive system becomes increasingly less efficient at vitamin C uptake as the oral dose increases. This does tend to cause nasty osmotic effects due to the unabsorbed vitamin C — the diarrhoea mentioned above, nausea, and cramping. There is also a danger of rebound scurvy when coming off of high doses of vitamin C.

        LD50 in rats is around 11.9 grams/kilogram body weight. That’s a pretty high dose.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          That’s interesting, I didn’t know about those conditions.

          However, aren’t the assumptions for those dictionary definitions that the individual is not under any other stress? And isn’t it more likely that an individual in the wild is under a number of stresses – and thereby working their organs more – from one moment to the next? Could not excess metabolites simply interfere with e.g. getting rid of a bug? Is vitamin C ever a substrate? Because excess substrate can inhibit reactions. I don’t know if excess cofactor can inhibit. More to the general point about vitamin supplements, a good diet is already supplying vitamin C in an unknown but knowable quantity. Then, a measured dose can’t be assumed to still be safe, unless one measures their food – an impractical venture.

          Lastly, I’d ask about the half life of a dose of vitamin C, for instance. I do not know why we can assume it all clears out in one day, as the vitamin manufacturer implies by its name brand. I think it goes into macrophages at least, if not floating freely absorbing free radicals from e.g. mitochondria. How many moles of mitochondria or macrophages are there?

          • ratabago
            Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

            WordPress doesn’t want to let me post my (long) reply to this. I’ll try posting in pieces.

            I’ve given the wrong impression here. These aren’t dictionary definitions. The 2 grams a day figure is the World Health Organisation’s upper limit for vitamin C consumption, which was determined by reviewing empirical case studies of human populations “in the wild”, selecting a conservative figure from that, and rounding down. It includes all oral sources of vitamin C, both dietary and supplemental. AFAIK, and if I recall the stuff I did on human nutrition as part of an undergraduate biochem subject back in the dawn of time, it includes populations under all the normal stresses but excludes those with specific medical conditions where there is an increased sensitivity to Vitamin C.

            Note that the upper limit is far higher than the recommended daily allowance. The recommended daily allowance is calculated by estimating the body’s normal reserve of vitamin C from serum levels,about 1500mg, estimating the daily clearance rate at that level, about 46mg, allowing for uptake rate at normal dietary levels, about 85%, and rounding up to allow a small safety margin. This gives a RDA of 60mg in non-smoking adults. This figure is calculated to be sufficient to avoid scurvy, but may be on the low side as vitamin C has lots of other biological activities besides collagen formation. We just don’t know yet, and there are so many marketing driven interests and ideological driven interests in this area that are muddying the waters. But there are quite thoughtful researchers that think an RDA of 100 to 120mg/day would be beneficial. This is still only 5% to 6% of the recommended upper limit.

          • ratabago
            Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

            It could have been the case that excess vitamin C increased the duration of infection. But we have lots of studies of vitamin C intake versus duration of infection, and to to the best of my knowledge none of them find such a correlation.

            Vitamin C does sometimes act as a substrate. It is consumed in the production of hydroxyprolines and hydroxylysines. Both are important in the production of collagens, and the cross linking of collagen strands. I’ve no idea if these reactions are subject to inhibition from excess substrate, or not.

          • ratabago
            Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

            Biological half life is not a very useful concept when looking at vitamin C levels. Its half life varies with concentration, and with kidney health. It is not typically removed by chemical degradation. At low levels of vitamin C we aggressively scavenge vitamin C. We can’t produce it denovo, but we do regenerate it actively, using up NADH in the process. Obviously, this process is not 100% efficient. Vitamin C passes out through the glomerulus with all the other water soluble plasma components. It is reabsorbed in the renal tubules, and there is a maximum rate for this, one paper giving an average of 2.16 mg/minute. So, elimination rate is determined by the interaction of plasma concentration, glomerular filtration rate, and maximum rate of tubular reabsorption. I’ve got notes in my archives, which I’ve failed to reference properly but were sourced from a National Cancer Institutes physicians data query, suggesting that vitamin C levels had significantly fallen 4 hours after 60grams were administered by IV. I doubt that it would take as long as 24 hours to clear a single oral megadose.

          • ratabago
            Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

            Estimates of the number of cells in the human body vary from about 14 trillion to about 75 trillion. Maybe the best estimate is that of Bianconi et al in the Annals of human biology, Nov-Dec 2013. They used a combination of organ by organ estimates plus mathematical modelling and arrived at a figure of 3.72X10^13 cells. Estimates of the average number of mitochondria per human cell seem to range from 300 to 400. Way short of a mole in either case. Many immunologically active cells do take up vitamin C, but they also seem to use it up. I doubt that they are a major reserve of vitamin C, the jury is still out on just how it is changing these cells behaviour, but in the case of neutrophils some papers suggest it increases their rate of activity.

          • ratabago
            Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

            A good overview of the argument for a modest increase in the RDA is available here:
            Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Anitra C Carr and Balz Frei, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 1999.

            I took the figures for the vitamin C reserve, clearance, and uptake rate from that article, as they are not in my notes, and I couldn’t remember them off the top of my head. Ironically, such a modest increase in vitamin C consumption could have as much benefit as much higher doses, none of the downsides, and could be achieved by a reasonable diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. I’m sure that J Bonnesante’s advice was well intended, but for some people it would be dangerous. We are talking about up to 22 grams of vitamin C a day here. That can cause haemolytic anaemia in those with a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. It can also cause kidney stones, and even eventual renal failure, in those with kidney disease. For everyone else, it’s probably just a waste of money.

            Sorry for the essay, but you asked a lot of interesting questions. I hope this helps. And I hope this much verbiage is not a Roolz violation when it happens in a discussion thread.

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted January 28, 2017 at 5:22 am | Permalink

              I appreciate the work you did for this reply, thanks.

              Forgive me if I’m losing track of what we are discussing – but – in my view, and did not study for an M.D. of any sort – RDA’s are used to generally help and guide everyone get good nutrition, within some range of the expected outcomes. However, and I think we are talking about this, infection is a specific condition. I’d argue that RDA’s are not meaningful in such a case – I’m sure you agree – I don’t even think they can be assumed for a sick patient. Consider the RDA for amoxicillin – I think it would be precise to call it not zero, but undefined, however, the doctor could prescribe it twice a day if you’re sick with bacteria – I’m not going to say that’s an RDA for a sick patient, but you still take it at a significant rate. I emphasize that I do not mean to say RDA’s are meaningless, in the general sense I described above. And I suspect that, though this is a case of answers in principle but not in practice, everyone is in a sub-clinical state of illness a significant amount of the time – that is, I don’t need to be bedridden to be fighting a virus. As such, I argue the RDA’s can’t be directly held to as a hard and fast rule when conditions change significantly … that might sound like an argument that more vitamin C is good in that case… who knows… and I think that’s separate from the Linus Pauling idea to eat a loaf of vitamin C every day …

              To wrap this up, lastly, I’d bring up the following: in order to develop specific mechanisms to explain how excess vitamin C can help a patient – what, get over a cold faster? Soak up free radicals from mitochondria or macrophages? – substrate inhibition will at least make an appearance in the Nobel Prize acceptance speech… that is I think there could be fruitful work on that to come, if not already… and now I’m out of gas and really rambling… cheers…

  35. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Colds – flu – cancer – has this argument against free will been made yet? Why does it sound wrong to me?

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