Infectious disease epidemiology and zombies

Have two awesome announcements that I’ve been waiting to share. One will still have to wait a few more days as we’re finalizing some details, I can now let you know that I just started a new position as an Advisory Board member of the Zombie Research Society. It’s a pretty cool group, including THE George Romero (Zombie Godfather); Daniel Drezner, author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies, and Steven Schlozman, author of The Zombie Autopsies. Plus a bunch of other white guys.

So, why do something like this? Zombies obviously are huge in pop culture, and typically “zombieism” is caused by some kind of transmissible infectious agent. As such, it’s a good way to talk about infectious diseases in a more lighthearted and fun manner. The CDC already took advantage of this with their popular “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse” page, while Robert Smith? demonstrated the utility of using a zombie outbreak to model infectious diseases. I think there’s more to be explored and am looking forward to the journey.

The microbiology of double-dipping

You’re probably familiar with the Seinfeld episode where George commits yet another social faux pas, getting caught “double-dipping” a tortilla chip. Just in time for your Superbowl festivities, turns out a soon-to-be-published manuscript (described in the New York Times) examined just how many bacteria are actually transferred by “double-dipping.” I have more at Correlations, and the Seinfeld clip is after the jump.

[Edited to add: Steve uploaded the poster describing the research here.]
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Reporting on the Creation Museum…it all makes sense now

As a native Ohioan and longtime creationist watcher, of course I’m morbidly fascinated with (and dismayed by) the opening of the new Creation Museum just outside of Cincinnati. I’m not going to give a full response to its ridiculous “science;” others have done that across the blogosphere (collected by PZ here). However, you may have seen the New York Time’s particularly bad piece on the museum opening (if you haven’t, you can find it here), where the writer–instead of commenting on the atrocious science–lauds the museum’s “daring” more than once, for example. Well, John Hawks has dug up a reason why, perhaps, the reporter was so uncritical:
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Friday Kooky Komment

My poor, neglected blog. These last few weeks have been killer workwise; I still have another post in the wings in pandemic influenza that might have to wait until next week (unofficially extending pandemic flu awareness week), and I have another one I’m working on regarding some recent Iowa events, but in the meantime, I can’t let this go un-commented upon. I asked resident germ theory denier jspreen this question:

…if germs don’t cause disease, what’s the function of our immune system? Why is it evolutionarily conserved?

His response:

The immune system is just a theoretical representation but warmongering germs have no biological reality. The sole function of the immune system is to keep the germ theory of diseases from falling apart.

Don’t even need to comment on that one, I don’t think.

Marry me, John Hodgman

Okay, so you’ve probably seen this guy on the new Mac commercials. He’s the one who plays the PC, the nerdy guy with glasses. He’s also a contributor to the Daily Show, where he first appeared to talk about his book, The Areas of my Expertise (website), apparently, spending a disproportionate amount of time talking about hobos. And, he’s an Eli, like so many of the cool kids are. So, I was already slightly in love with him. But a bit on the Daily Show the other night sealed the deal. Head lice, intestinal parasites, and commensal bacteria were never so funny.