A virus that doesn't cause any known diseases

This is a picture of Adeno-Associated Virus, or AAV. It is a virus that everyone currently carries, but which we never notice, as it doesn't seem to create any symptoms.

I learned about AAV today because I was reading this article about using gene therapy to cure a very particular type of blindness, and I thought it was interesting for a different reason.
To me, the most compelling thing about AAV is that it has inadvertently stumbled upon the ultimate survival skill: a sort of neutral, environmentally stable parasitism that relies on the survival tools of the planet's dominant species. As a result, it will survive as long as we do, and will be one of the few life forms we take with us, should we make it to other planets.

Interestingly enough, it's useful to scientists, because they can modify it, adding genes to its genome with beneficial traits in order to spread these new, better genes throughout an otherwise healthy body. Viral diseases are basically incurable, too, since the body can merely maintain a low, but stable infection level once white blood cells develop a way to combat the virus. This ensures that AAV-based therapies will have the additionally positive trait of remaining in the body for a long time.

But, most importantly, we can look at AAV as a great example of how we as people, as makers of ideas, can create long-lasting, useful tools for changing minds. AAV is a fine metaphor for friendly memetic warfare.

New Year with Herman Melville

Started a new book that I got for Christmas. "The Confidence Man," by Herman Melville. After I got about 15 pages into it, I finally realized where I had heard of this book. It's mentioned in The Brothers Bloom.

Also, here is a picture of the old beardy himself.

Every once in a while, I wish I could grow a beard. Not very often, but it does happen.

Spacy song for the day after Christmas

Here is silly song I wrote in two minutes and recorded in one take. That's why it's so good.

Hope you enjoy all 45 seconds of it.

Based on a chord progression from G to C to D# and D. And that's why it's terrible.

Sometimes a story goes from bad to huh? to woah!

Bad:
The governor of Hyderabad, India, a man named Narain Dutt Tiwari, has resigned from office over a sex scandal.

Huh?:
He's 86 years old.

Woah!:
It's a sex tape featuring him in bed with three women.

Here's a picture of the sex machine who's old enough to be your great grandpa.


He is sporting exactly the look I would sport if someone caught me banging three chicks on video at the age of 86.

New guitar for Christmas.

Naturally, I have provided you with some of my awesome musical stylings.

I think the chords are G#7, C# and D#.

Click where it says "1 attachment" if you want to hear.

One of the great classics of Christmas music.

Most "seasonal" records suck. This is an exception.

A theme has been chosen

If you're a Drupal user and a Mac lover, which I am, I highly recommend this theme: iTheme by Nick La, ported by garamond. Sorry if you can't read garamond's page. Neither can I.

A special Christmas game to help you kill Santa.

Destroy Christmas, nay, the world, by unleashing some kinda virus on everyone.

Infectonator: Christmas Edition

My favorite picture of the day.

This girl, Alyssa Bustamante was charged with killing her next door neighbor for the lulz. Based solely on the picture, I'm going to say she did it.

iTunes wants me to kill myself.

Just felt like listening to a song by the Angels of Light, and the iTunes genius has decided to give me my dirge library, replete with proper wrist-slitters.