Phage Therapy

The folks at Kurzgesagt have a new video out, about Bacteriophages and their possible place as our saviours in the not-to-distant future.

The one standout piece of dialogue from the video for me is:

“Unfortunately this treatment is still experimental and pharma companies are reluctant to invest the necessary billions in a treatment that has no official approval yet.”

The sad truth is, many of our great medical achievements follow this pattern.

  • The governments pour the billions in via grants, the researchers at universities and the universities themselves, set up ‘companies’ to receive the grant and to do the studies,
  • The studies that are successful patent their findings as the company, the makers and the university often co-writing the patent.
  • Then the pharma companies vie for the research and the patents and buy the company at a fraction of the cost of the research and for a stake in the patent.
  • The pharma company ramps up production, and sell it to the masses at a marked up cost, often claiming it’s justified in doing so because of the cost of research, that some countries tax dollars often paid for.

At the moment big pharma doesn’t want to know about it, it’s promising, but they have their antibiotics to sell and they sell a LOT of them. Even with the rise of superbugs many doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics as a matter of course, almost as a placebo it seems. 

Having said that, I have seen at least one paper that has been written on bacteriophages that was funded by Nestlé Health and Nestlé Health Science, so I guess some companies are investing in it, but clearly we need more.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. The video is very interesting to watch.

Street Kids of Pakistan

That episode of 4 Corners tonight about street kids of Pakistan who are abused and raped was devastating and a stark reminder of how lucky I was to win the DNA-lottery and be born in Australia.

Reports are hundreds of thousands of kids, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, are abused while the police and politicians look the other way. In a nation where women are basically property of their men and are kept out of public view men turn to the street kids, often young boys, for their own pleasure.

Some are paid, some are raped, some are given addictive substances so their abusers can keep them on a leash of dependence. If the raped children report the rape to their families, or it is found out they are prostituting themselves to survive they may be killed, because homosexual sex between males is punishable by death to ensure the “honour” of the family is preserved.

It’s a sad thing… Sometimes we don’t consider how lucky we have it.

But then these shows aren’t about making us feel better about our lives, they aren’t about making us feel bad or guilty that we have it good… They are about informing us to the ways of the world.

If you get a chance watch it on ABC iView. Be a witness. We hold a child’s life sacred above all others, then spare a thought for those children who have to fend for themselves in a country that doesn’t care about them enough to protect them, or a country who is too poor to do anything to combat such a large-scale problem.

Often we hear complaints about refugees coming here… If you don’t bear witness to these things and remain ignorant to the plight of those guilty of no crime other than trying to seek a better life, you have no right to say anything against their desire to come here.

Spare a thought for the rest of the world. We actually have a lot to give. You already won the lottery, you were born in a lucky country.

Worthy of a Good Life

Image by Coolloud - https://www.flickr.com/photos/coolloud/14011128863

Living in a ‘home’ made of bamboo, rope and corrugated iron… barely large enough to hold a bed for the two people who live there. Working for less than $70 per month this is the life of the better-off factory workers in Bangladesh.

When we walk into Coles and buy a ceramic bowl for $3 or a Kmart T-Shirt for $5 or practically anything else in any of our stores these days (even most of the food products) we’re contributing to the lives of the workers of Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, Korea, China, et al.

People will argue that without the work these people would be worse off.

I’d argue that the 1,127 people who died in a factory collapse in April 2013 are not better off. Their dead. They join the 500 who died in a factory fire five years ago and the countless other undocumented and under-reported cases throughout the “third world”. They join the countless who are maimed, blinded and otherwise injured making products for the western world.

I can’t help but to think that things would be different if these people were white. If the dead looked like us it seems we’d care more. That is our disgrace.

We need to get to a point where we have a world government. People would argue that we’ll open the world to the ultimate corruption, but really we already have that, it’s just we’re allowed to look away and say “that’s not our problem, the country should look after their people better”.

Our corporations are taking absolute advantage and only we can do something about it. They won’t stop selling you t-shirts for $5, for which they pay less than $1. They won’t stop paying so little to the factories, who then in turn pay so little to their workers.

Of course it’s not good enough for our businesses to pay more to the factories because you’d be giving more money to factory owners who forced workers at gunpoint to remain at their machines while the factory collapses around them, all to ensure they could meet the strenuous timeframes and costs set by Kmart, Cotton On, Top Shop and the others that make their clothes in these places. It’s unlikely that without oversight, which seems non-existent in these countries, that we’ll see anything change in the near future.

Feature image above “BANGLADESH-BUILDING” by Coolloud, Creative Commons – Flickr

RIP Steve Jobs: 1955 – 2011

As tears are literally streaming down my face I type this, in memory of a man who has had such a profound impact on my life.

I know Apple is a massive company these days, but it’s undeniable that Steve Jobs, founder and until two months ago CEO of Apple Inc, was the driving force behind the company for so many years.

I was never a mac fanboy. Using PCs at home right up until OS X was released. While we used Macs at work at Optus, at the time it was OS7 and it was a pain the the butt, it was ugly and it didn’t always work.

But my first experience with Macs was long before then, in computer labs at school. I didn’t like the clunky square mouse with one button, I didn’t like the mostly greyscale design.

David brought the first Mac into our house, a tangerine iMac, he loved it. It would still be a year or more after than when I got my first mac. And since then have never looked back. I am a Apple Fanboy for ever.

These days we wouldn’t be without them. I’m sitting here at my 27″ iMac, my iPhone and iPad beside me, my photos displayed on the AppleTV beside my desk. All I can think is thank goodness I’m not in the office today, cause how embarrassing would it be to be sitting at my desk crying like this for a man I didn’t know personally and had never actually met.

But I did come close to a meeting, back in 2010 when we went to the Apple campus at 1 Infinite Loop Cupertino for lunch with a training group. On exiting I came within mere feet of Steve Jobs who was sitting in the Apple foyer on a couch with Jonathan Ive, deep in conversation. If I hadn’t been a guest of an Apple employee at the time I might have gone running up to him and gone all giddy fanboy.

Yes the world has lost a great visionary. I feel there’s a fundamental philosophy that no one seems to see when they look at why Apple is so successful. All the tech analysts, all the people that pick on Apple don’t seem to see it. And it’s so basic.

While others push out products for sale to the masses, sometimes with what seems like little regard, Apple seems to work with a different set of principles. And it was emphasised to me yesterday when someone said on Twitter. “Why do Apple only produce one new design of a phone every two years when Samsung can do a new phone every month.”

And the answer is so simple and is, in my opinion, behind how Apple make all their products. Apple make only things they would want to use. They look good, they feel good and they work well because the people who create the products, use the products. They don’t need a new design every month because they wouldn’t want a new phone themselves every month. They make something that works and they stick with it while it continues to work and continues to be pleasing to them.

So yeah, I’ve finally stopped crying, for now, and can say that I am truly happy for the impact that Steve Jobs has made on my life. I wouldn’t, honestly, be where I am today without him or the products he and Apple have made.

Apple will continue on without Steve. And we’ll see them continue to innovate. And we’ll remember Steve Jobs for ever. RIP Steve Jobs.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The ones who see things differently. While some may see crazy, we see genius.

Tribute artwork by Jonathan Mak

Steve Jobs Apple Logo by Jonathan Mak
Visit Jonathan’s Tumblr

Some of our Apple tech throughout the years.

Below is just a small amount of the tech we have had over the years. It started with the Tangerine iMac, as described above, a PowerMac G4, PowerMac G5, White MacBook, 17″ Macbook Pro, 15″ MacBook Pro x 2, 23″ Cinema Display, AppleTV 1st Gen, AppleTV 2nd Gen x 2, 1TB Time Capsule, Airport Extreme x 2, Airport Express x 4, iPod x 18 (including the 1st Gen that I used to use on Windows), iPod Touch 1st Gen, iPhone 3G x 2, iPhone 4 x 2, iPad 1 x 2, iSight x 2, PowerMac G4 Cube, countless accessories like keyboards, mighty mouses, magic mouses, keyboard docks, iPhone docks. I’m sure I’m missing some stuff from the list. I think we personally put some Apple person’s kid through college.

My Desk - Again
Apple Table
MacBooks and Touchy
Games356:016
A Tale of Two iMacs
Both Product(red) iPods

Our Xserve

I don’t want a “gay marriage”

Marriage Equality

It drives me nuts when I hear the terms “Gay Marriage” or “Same-sex Marriage” when discussing marriage equality. Regardless of where you are in the world it too often referred to as “Gay Marriage”.

I’m gay and I don’t want a “Gay Marriage”, I just want marriage.

I want the right to marry the guy I’ve lived with as a couple for fourteen years. I don’t want anything additional, I don’t want anything separate, I want the same thing my brother and sister currently enjoy as a citizen of our country. I want marriage equality.

I’m pleased to see the latest PSA for “Marriage Equality” doing the rounds in Australia, we need to see more of it. For far too long we, the homosexual individuals of our nation, are told: “no you can’t get married, you should get civil unioned or something other than marriage, you can have the same rights, just don’t call it marriage”.

I mean, even spell checker is telling me there is no such word as “unioned”.

I referred to us as “individuals” rather than a community because we aren’t a community, I don’t know all the other gays in Australia, in fact while I see a large population of gays here in my local area (for which PM Julia Gillard is the local member), I don’t know any of them. We are not bound by our sexuality, we mix with our neighbours regardless of sexual orientation; our friendships and connections are not dependant on who we’re sexually attracted to.

Marriage equality is not an attack on the institution of marriage, it’s the strengthening of it. It’s a firm commitment that as a people we are all the same, because we are.

So yes, “marriage equality” is the correct term. “Gay marriage” is only marched out by those who would like the greater population to believe that what we’re asking for is different. It’s not. It’s just the same. It’s marriage. A commitment we, as a couple, make to one another.

Support for marriage equality is growing, and most people believe that it will eventually happen anyway, so why is our government dragging their heels. It’s time they did what is right, not what they perceive as popular. My life isn’t about them winning points with the voting pool or them implying that by being gay we are somehow different.

Gay Marriage, or as I like to call it Marriage

Talk about making shit up

I get annoyed when I read things like this:

They were the only guests at a remote Kenyan safari resort with $900-a night huts – where cloth instead of doors are used – when the killers came.

Now special forces have reportedly joined the search for Englishwoman Judith Tebbutt, snatched from an exclusive Kenyan resort after her husband David was shot dead in front of her.

I mean really? Special Forces are going in on the search for a woman that has gone missing, we don’t know where she is but we apparently know that her husband was shot in front of her before she was whisked away. Or does that just sound better?

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/world/holiday-hut-in-paradise-becomes-hell-on-earth-for-uk-couple-20110913-1k79a.html#ixzz1XokF5wdd

No more live exports to Indonesia

On the back of the Australian community rallying against live exports to Indonesia where the cattle sent for processing and sale, the Australian Government has halted all live exports to the country until conditions there can be improved.

Not great news for the farmers who rely on live exports but great for the cattle that won’t have to suffer horrendous conditions and treatment until their time of death.

This comes after an initial banning of delivery to the 11 abattoirs featured in a recent 4 Corners episode. However it appears that conditions at other abattoirs weren’t much better so all exports were stopped for now.

I hope it’s sorted soon for all involved it will be hurting our farmers and it will be hurting the people of Indonesia but I doubt there is anything else that would have caused the change that needs to happen to ensure the animals we kill for food don’t suffer needlessly in doing this amazing service for us, all without their consent. Heaven forbid any animals actually develop speech. They may well decide to tell us that they can think for themselves and they don’t appreciate being taken advantage of.