Somalia’s (Only) Popular Drug
from Rare Earth
Somalia’s (Only) Popular Drug
from Rare Earth
“Once I got into the guitar, everything went by the wayside. I was really, really into the guitar. I had actually wanted to play the guitar ever since I was little. I was probably 6 or 7 when I got some records as a gift, little children’s records, all cowboy songs. The records were made of cardboard with pictures printed on them and then a clear acetate overlay with grooves on top of that. They were like 7-inch 78s, little, small 78s. And they were all cowboy songs. My parents’ record collection was all classical music. I’d listened to their classical records for a long time, so I thought I knew all the instruments. But here was this instrument I’d never heard before. I said, ‘What’s that?’ And my mother says, ‘That’s a guitar,’ and she points at this little picture on the front of the record. It’s a cartoon of a cowboy sitting on a horse, and he’s got a guitar across his knee. There’s a moon in the sky and he’s serenading these sleeping cows. I said, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up.’ Well, she laughed, I think because she thought I wanted to be a cowboy. But I wanted to be a guitar player, too."
~ Mike Wilhelm (1942 – 2019)
We were saddened to learn today of the passing of Mike Wilhelm of the Charlatans, who Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead considered the best guitarist of the 1960s San Francisco music scene. [Photo of Wilhelm by Herb Greene.]
“There was a period after acid when cocaine, methedrine, and all this crap heroin came in,” Balin says. “I wasn’t into that, but it changed everything. It for sure changed my band. When I used to walk out onto the stage, I’d look at the back of the amps and see a pile of cocaine, methedrine, and I don’t even know what. And I’d say to myself, ‘Oh, so this is how we’re going to play tonight,’ and sure enough you could predict how a show would go according to the drugs lined up on the back of the amps. That stuff made everybody crazy.”
~ RIP Marty Balin (1942 – 2018).
Repent, for the Antibiotic Apocalypse is Near!!!
“History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.”
In 892 AD the Viking warrior Sigurd the Mighty defeated the Scottish nobleman Mael Brigte in battle. In celebration of his victory Sigurd strapped Mael’s severed head onto his saddle, and rode around his army in triumph. Unfortunately Mael’s large buck teeth scratched the side of Sigurd’s leg, which became infected, leading to his death a few weeks later. Legend has it that famous whiskey distiller Jack Daniel died after kicking his floor safe, resulting in a cut on his toe which became infected, leading to his death in 1911. In 1912 inventor and aviator Wilbur Wright developed food poisoning after eating bad shellfish during a business trip. He died at the age of 45. Lord Carnarvon, chief financial backer of the Howard Carter expedition which discovered King Tut’s tomb died in 1923 when a mosquito bite became infected resulting in sepsis. Modern myth has it that he was a victim of King Tut’s curse. More likely he was a victim of living before the advent of modern medicine.
Such was the life of mankind before the invention of modern antibiotics. Every cut or wound could pose a serious risk. Diseases like pneumonia or strep throat could very well lead to death rather than just a few days of bed rest. In fact, much of modern medicine is built upon a foundation of antibiotics. This began in 1928 when the scientist Sir Alexander Fleming (pictured above) identified the first antibiotic, penicillin, after extracting the drug from a mold which had accidentally grown in the culture plates of an unrelated experiment. Since then a wide variety of antibiotics have been developed, allowing mankind to fight a winning war against the bacteria. However, in recent times, the bacteria have been making a comeback.
While antibiotics are effective, it is only a matter of time before bacteria evolve and adapt to them, developing resistance. When an antibiotic is prescribed but discontinued too early, bacteria that have survived the antibiotic can become immune to it’s effects. Those bacteria of course divide and reproduce, leading to a new strain of bacteria that is resistant to that antibiotic, making the antibiotic useless. A bacterium can even swap DNA with other bacteria, spreading the resistance further. Misuse of an antibiotics can also lead to resistance. For instance when an antibiotic is prescribed for the common cold, which is a virus and cannot be killed by an antibiotic. While eventually the immune system fights off the virus, the antibiotic effects the normal bacteria that makes up our bodily ecosystem, such as our gut bacteria or skin flora. An example of this the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. For the most part S. aureus lives in the our noses and skin without causing any problems. It’s pretty normal, around 1/3 of all Americans harbor S. aureus in their nostrils. Sometimes, S. aureus can cause minor skin or throat infections, and on rare occasions major infections such as pneumonia and meningitis. Due to the widespread availability of antibiotics, in the past few decades new strains of S. aureus have recently developed, called methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or as it’s better known, MRSA.
Antibiotic resistance is not a new phenomenon, only a few years after the discovery of penicillin, antiobiotic resistant strains began to be identified. Alexander Fleming himself remarked,
“The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops. Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily under-dose himself and by exposing his microbes to nonlethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.”
Therein lies the problem, rather than being treated like a precious and limited resources, antibiotics have been overused and misused as a miracle cure-all. As someone in healthcare I’ve seen many times where physicians will be deluded into thinking that because a drug or treatment works exceptionally well for one thing, it must likewise work well for other things. This results in the physician prescribing the drug like its some kind magical elixir, when in fact it’s completely unnecessary and am ineffective misapplication of the drug.
Antibiotics are no different.
Antibiotics are prescribed for viral infections such influenza, most forms of bronchitis, or the common cold even though they only kill bacteria and parasites, not viruses. Sometimes, a really sick patient in the hospital will be prescribed an antibiotic in case the illness is a bacterial infection, but when the lab results come back revealing it’s not, the patient will continue to be prescribed the antibiotic “just in case”.
When I was a teenager I was even prescribed amoxicillin for acne. Yes, for acne!
Much of it is the fault of the patient. Decades of antibiotic proliferation have created a culture where people believe that antibiotics are a cure for anything. Back in the day, when you were sick, you went to a doctor for an antibiotic. Now patient’s demand antibiotics for any and all illnesses believing they are a miracle cure for everything. Finally there is the 800 lb gorilla in the room; the heavy use of antibiotics for livestock, which accounts for as much use as with humans. More and more, antibiotics have become less and less effective in agriculture creating both antibiotic resistance animal and human strains of bacteria.
In the past three decades, the problem has become a critical issue, with antibiotic strains of diseases plaguing our healthcare system. Research in new antibiotics has failed to keep up, as our current pharmacopoeia becomes less and less effective. If nothing changes, the only prospect for our near future is the “Antibitioic Apocalypse”, the time when most or all of our antibiotics will be useless. In essence, modern medicine will be knocked back to the days of Sigurd the Mighty. Millions will die from common diseases such as pneumonia. Immunocompromised patients such as cancer patients and AIDS patients will be at risk of infection. Tuberculosis, once considered a 19th century disease, will become common again. Routine surgery could become seriously dangerous with the added risk of untreatable infections. Even simple acts like shaving or parading the decapitated heads of your slain enemies could result in death.
Fortunately there are things that you, the average person, can do to stave off the Antibiotic Apocalypse. Don’t ask or demand antibiotics for the sniffles or the coughies. You won’t believe the hordes of people that come into the ER with stuff like the common cold when in reality professional treatment was never really needed. Drink plenty of fluids, get some rest, eat your fruits and veggies and you’ll probably be OK. Stop your doctor from needlessly prescribing antibiotics. If your doc is prescribing you antibiotics for something other than a bacterial infection or parasite, most likely it is a misapplication of the drug. If you do have an antibiotic, take it until the prescription is done to ensure the infection is completely eradicated. Either that, or ask your doctor if discontinuation is possible.
Do this, or the bacteria will win…
A hooded witness testifies on narcotic trafficking in Washintgon state, April 30th 1952.