The Devil’s Enzyme

I’ve been reading a lot of bollocks about Luciferase. That it’s a marker that glows under UV light and that it’s linked to Satan, all that stuff.

When I was working on my Honours project for my first degree (1980/81), I had the stinky project. I was working on the gut microflora of Eiseinia foetida, a type of earthworm that lives in compost heaps. Well, the career got gradually stinkier and much nastier after that but that’s not the point.

A friend of mine was working with a marine bacterium called Vibrio fischeri. He grew it in flasks on a flask shaker in an incubator room. When he turned the light off, there were all these rotating flasks giving off a green glow. V. fischeri produces bioluminescence in response to oxygen. How brightly it glows depends on how much oxygen there is, and that glow can be used to detect oxygen down to nanomolar concentrations. Of course, at that oxygen level you can’t see the glow, you need a photomultiplier and associated circuitry, but it really does work. I actually made use of that technique during my PhD, but it was a fellow student who developed it into a useful method.

This bacterium, and many other bioluminescent organisms, produce light using a compound called luciferin. It’s activated by an enzyme called luciferase. The enzyme itself does nothing without luciferin present, and luciferin is not activated without luciferase. UV light is irrelevant here. The mechanism produces visible light, it’s not activated by outside light. It is entirely dependent on oxygen concentration.

If you’ve ever been somewhere warm, even UK-summer warm, beside the sea, on a nicely dark night, you might have noticed a glow flickering through the water as it rolls against the shore. It’s usually called ‘phosphorescence’, and it’s the light produced by marine microbes when the water gets a blast of oxygen as it hits the shore. This is the luciferin/luciferase reaction. It’s perfectly natural and probably millions of years old.

Some say Monsanto or Pfizer or some other demonic company have patented luciferase. That’s not possible. It’s a natural material and can’t be patented. However, they might have patented a technique that makes use of it. I’ll come back to that.

Incidentally, I am also seeing claims of ‘luciferase’ on the swabs used for the ramrod-up-the-nose nonsensical tests. ‘Proof’ consists of running UV light over the swab and observing that the stick doesn’t glow but the cotton pad does. Cotton pads fluoresce under UV light. Try it with any cotton buds. It’s the cotton that lights up.

Now I’m not saying those cotton ramrods aren’t contaminated, there have been quite a few examples of what could be shoddy production techniques or could be deliberate, I don’t have enough reliable info to speculate on that. However, when you light them up with UV they will glow even if they are perfectly clean and sterile. Luciferase isn’t there, and if it was, it would be a waste of extracted enzyme because it won’t do anything – and won’t even last long – up your nose.

The ‘Lucifer’ link merely refers to the light produced in the reaction. It’s really not sinister at all. It’s been named that for a very long time and it was just some scientist thinking it was funny to name it that. Most of scientific research is unbelievably tedious so we do grab any chance to spice it up a bit. It really isn’t controlled by, nor in any way linked to, any demonic entity.

So, luciferase is nothing to be scared of. It’s an enzyme that catalyses a reaction with a compound called luciferin in the presence of oxygen and produces a rather pleasant glow. So, what nefarious purposes could it be put to?

Not many, really. Enzymes, especially when injected into a living organism, don’t tend to last very long. They are proteins and proteins entering your body are either regarded as food and dismantled, or regarded as invaders and smacked down by your immune system. Injecting yourself with luciferase is never going to get you that lovely Chernobyl glow. Even if it is active, it won’t be active for very long and with no luciferin to act on, it has nothing to do.

I really can’t see how Billy Gates Gruff’s ‘quantum tattoo’ can make use of it. If you want something invisible until illuminated with UV, this won’t work but there are many stable compounds that would. Still, it has become abundantly clear that Billy Gates Gruff is an idiot and there are many researchers out there who are more than willing to take full advantage of an idiot with a lot of money to spare.

The only possible way I can see it working in a quantum tattoo setting is if the tattoo contains a stable form of luciferin (not easy to do) and then you dab a swab of luciferase on it. Then it would glow on its own, no need for UV, in fact it would work best if your hand was in a dark box. It seems an unnecessarily complex way to go about things anyway. Surely it would be much easier to just use a traditional tattoo technique, or if you want to get all fancy, a stable fluorescent compound that will show up under UV.

I guess they are trying for something that can’t be easily faked by a backstreet tattoo artist but getting hold of V. fischeri is really not that hard (for someone like me anyway, I just need a jar of seawater). Isolation on agar is possibly one of the easiest isolations you can do – just look for colonies that glow in the dark. Extracting luciferin/luciferase would take time but I have the equipment here. Then I just need someone with tattoo skills and the pattern it needs to take. So it can still be faked and some of us would make an absolute fortune out of it 😉

I am getting to the opinion that the whole luciferase thing is a red herring, designed to get the tinfoil hats spinning. Sure, it might be possible to produce such a glowing mark, but really it’s far too much bother and far too unreliable to be much use at all. Luciferin is a protein too, that tattoo won’t last long. Then again, repeat application of medication does seem to be the modern profit model…

Really, I don’t think this whole luciferase thing is going anywhere. It feels like a handy distraction, the name alone gets people all worked up and the glow can be used to boost the creepiness factor. It’s never going to produce a reliably useful branding mark and there’s no need anyway. The chips are already ready to go, and have been in use for quite some time now. People don’t need to be coerced into it, they fight to be first in line.

As for curmudgeons like me, it might eventually be the case that if you don’t have a chip in your hand, you can’t get into shops, or onto public transport, or even start your car. That would be far, far easier to accomplish than some fancy biochemistry embedded in your skin.

They say the Devil’s greatest trick was convincing people he doesn’t exist. This time, I suspect the trick is convincing people that something imaginary exists, to distract them and keep them panicked over fantasy demons.

Meanwhile, the real demons continue unopposed…

Chitin

Okay, let’s start this with ‘what the hell does this guy know about chitin’.

When I started my PhD on the metabolism of ciliate protozoa living in the rumen of cattle and sheep, it was a hot topic. Three years later, I finished, and science had moved on. Rumen protozoa had become a niche topic and there were no openings for a new scientist. So, I diversified. What transferable skills did I have?

Well, I knew a lot about microbiology by then, having gained two degrees in it, and especially about anaerobic metabolism – and I had no qualms about working with stinky things. So my first job after the PhD was a three year post doc on… well this should explain.

That wasn’t the only paper to come out of that project but it was the main one. Anyway, yes, I do know a good bit about chitin and it’s important to know about it because if the idiots in charge get their way, you’re going to be eating a hell of a lot of it.

Its biochemical name is poly-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, a homopolymer (no it’s not gay, it’s a polymer of one type of molecule repeated over and over). Rather like cellulose or starch, except those are just polymers of glucose.

You can digest starch, mostly, but it comes in two forms. Amylose is just straight chains of glucose and very easy to digest. Amylopectin is straight chains but with branches coming off the chain, like a tree. If you have amylase enzyme you can digest it back as far as the branch points but you need a different enzyme to break those branch points. If you don’t have it, you basically shit out pollarded starch molecules. You’ll still get some energy from it.

‘Oh, so smartass knows all about starches too’. Indeed I do, since I returned to gut microbiology after three years of delving into stinky mud and, a few years later, supervised a PhD working on retrograde starch and its effects on pig digestion.

Cellulose is also poly-glucose but the chains are cross-linked. Humans can’t digest it, in fact neither can cows and other ruminants even though they live on it. Bacteria and protozoa can, and this is what the first stomach of a cow is for. The rumen (actually reticulo-rumen in case a pedant arrives) doesn’t secrete any enzymes. It’s a big bag of bacteria, protozoa and even anaerobic fungi. They do all the work of turning indigestible grass into highly digestible microbial protein and organic acids. The cow absorbs the organic acids and its liver makes glucose from them since the cow gets little to no direct sugar from its diet. The microbes get it first.

Then, once the microbes have turned the lousy food into every known amino acid, the cow moves a batch of them into its omasum/abomasum where they are digested. You can feed a cow with newspapers soaked in piss (bacteria will make amino acids from urea) and it’ll survive on that.

You can’t digest the stuff a ruminant eats. You don’t have a rumen. There are certain amino acids and vitamins you cannot produce and you have to get them in your food. Sure, you can eat grass but almost all of it will come out of the other end. The bacteria in your colon can use some of it, although we don’t all have cellulose degrading bacteria, but it’s the colon. The end of the digestive system. You can’t digest those bacteria.

So, humans can digest amylose starch, partially digest amylopectin starch, can’t digest cellulose. What has this to do with chitin and why should you care?

Chitin is the animal world’s version of cellulose. It’s tough and very hard to digest. Human digestive systems won’t touch it, colon bacteria might get something out of it but like grass, it’s mostly going right through. It’s what the exoskeleton (hard shell) of insects is made of.

So when you hear that insects contain more nutrition than an equivalent weight of beef, that’s discounting the fact that you can’t actually access most of that nutrition. The exoskeleton is made of a sugar, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine which is basically glucose with an amine group and an acetyl group tagged on. But it’s in a form you simply can’t digest, like the glucose in cellulose. Everything in beef is digestible. A large proportion of an insect is not. If you put both in a calorimeter to measure caloric content, the insects would win – but it’s not about how many calories a food contains. It’s about how many are actually accessible.

The ‘eat ze bugs’ pushers don’t care about that. Just like the Pharmers, your health is none of their concern. They just want the money.

Nobody is set up to eat insects. Ruminants can possibly digest them, they don’t hunt them but they probably get a few from eating the grass. It doesn’t matter to a ruminant. They just need a carbohydrate and a nitrogen source and their rumen microbes will make all they need. Human digestion will not work that way.

There has been some indication that too much chitin in your diet can lead to some serious problems. That’s possible – I have a small bottle of pure amylose (starch) that is marked as a potential neurotoxin in its pure form.

‘Oh, but some cultures eat insects all the time’. Sure. They do that because they live where there’s bugger all else to eat. And they generally eat grubs which are soft bodied and don’t have a chitinous exoskeleton until after they pupate. No humans, anywhere, eat insects unless there is nothing else.

We have, over millenia, put a hell of a lot of effort into keeping insects out of grains and flour storage. Why didn’t we just let them eat the grains and flour and then eat the insects? Because that makes us ill. We have known this for thousands of years.

Suddenly, insects are the food of the future. If you really believe insect food is your future, there is one thing you really should understand.

You have no future.

Entertainment: Construction Kit

A blast from the past. I wrote this in 2003. It was my first ever submission and my first ever accepted story. I admit it made me a bit cocky, and caused me to submit a few sub-par stories until I realised not every one was a winner. It’s the first story in ‘Fears of the Old and the New‘, a collection of the early published shorts. The ‘click to look inside’ gives you all of it apart from the last paragraph.

So, why do I post it now? The video linked at the end will give you a clue…

Construction Kit

My first submission was also my first story accepted for publication. This was in the online magazine Dark Fiction (www.darkfiction.org) in 2003. Here it is with all its beginner’s mistakes intact.

“Looks fine to me.” Doc Short looked up from the small boy in his examination chair. “Probably just overtired. You know how kids can get. Too much excitement, then they just throw a tantrum over the slightest thing. Good night’s sleep, that’s my prescription.” He smiled down at the boy. “On your way, Peter, the nurse will take you back to bed.” The child grinned at him as the nurse led him away. Strangely disquieting, the way these children smiled, Doc thought.

He looked around at Bill Wilson, his boss. Wilson was watching, grim-faced, as the child was led away. Once the child was out of earshot, he turned to Doc Short. “Some tantrum,” he said. “That little boy broke an orderly’s wrist. It took three of them – three grown men – to subdue him. Something is definitely wrong, Doc, something’s wrong with them all.”

Doc Short forced a smile. He had his own misgivings about the children, but he couldn’t put them into words. Just a feeling. “Well, of course they’re not normal,” he said. “They’ve hardly had a normal upbringing, have they? Stuck in here, never going outside, never meeting anyone else. There’s bound to be some, well, anomalous behaviour now and then.”

Wilson looked pensive. “They’re stronger than normal ten-year olds. Faster. More intelligent. And not just by a small margin. But you know that, Doc, You ran the tests yourself.” He sighed. “Maybe we should consider terminating the experiment.”

The words cut into Doc as though Wilson had stabbed him with them. “You can’t!” he said, louder than he had intended, “Sorry, Bill, but you know what that would mean. You can’t just ‘terminate’ seven healthy children.”

“They don’t exist, Simon,” Wilson said, avoiding Doc’s gaze. “They’re an experiment. Nobody outside the Project knows about them. They’re just products, we made them. We grew them from fertilized eggs, in the incubators. They have no mothers. No fathers. No family. They belong to the Project. Outside, they just don’t exist.”

Doc sat heavily in his chair. “Still, they’re alive, they’re real children. Bill, the whole point of this project was to make babies for childless couples, for women who couldn’t conceive, or who couldn’t carry a child to term. Twelve years on, and we’ve succeeded – in fact we succeeded ten years ago, when these seven were born. Why is it still a secret? Why aren’t we doing what we set out to do?”

“The children aren’t normal, Doc. You know that.”

“They’re better than normal, Bill. You said it yourself. I’ve never seen such fit, healthy, intelligent kids. Talk to them – they’ve learned everything there is to learn here, and more. Why, I reckon Thomas could run the whole process we used to make him, all on his own.”

Wilson looked up, his eyes wide. “What? But how – when – did he have access to the labs? None of them are allowed in there!”

Doc smiled. Thomas was his favourite. He had grown fond of all the children, but Thomas was like his own son. The boy had always been interested in biology, and had been fascinated by the labs.

“He found his own way in. Worked out the codes for the doors, I don’t know how, and just walked in. He’s been doing it since he was six, never caused any problems, just watched and learned. We never reported him because he’s such a great kid, and he really liked being in the labs.”

“You could get into serious trouble over this.” Wilson folded his arms. “It has to stop, now, and…” A scream from outside cut him off. “What was that?” he said. For a moment he and Doc just looked at each other, then a second scream had them both racing for the door.

Along the corridor, at the far end, was a flickering light. “Fire!” Wilson started into a run. Doc was close behind him. Rounding the corner, they stopped abruptly, horror crushing their insides into nausea. It was a fire all right, and it was walking around.

The flames engulfed a large figure, arms flailing, dark mouth gaping soundlessly, the vocal chords already consumed. The figure collided with the wall, sending showers of sparks and flame into the air. Its eyes had melted, as had most of its features, and its last breath was not air, but combusting gases as it fell to form a lifeless, melting, stinking flesh-pool on the floor in front of them.

Wilson and Doc stared, mouths gaping, at the remains of the orderly. Simultaneously they noticed the children, standing on the far side of the flaming corpse.

Wilson found his voice. “What….what happened?” The children shouldn’t see this, said half of his brain. Why are they smiling? asked the other half. Doc Short didn’t speak, he simply placed a hand on the wall and emptied his breakfast into a slippery smear on the floor.

Peter grinned at Wilson, and pointed. “Your fault!” he shouted. “You caused this!”

Wilson stared at him through the flames, the smoke, the smell of charred flesh. “What do you mean, Peter? How could I cause this?” The cold stares of all the children were on him now, he felt the temperature fall around him despite the heat of the incinerated orderly just yards away.

Elaine grinned that maniacal grin they all shared. “You wanted to kill us. We can’t let you do it, we don’t want to.” Her pout was that of a ten-year-old but the flare in her eyes betrayed thoughts well beyond her years.

“How…how could you know that?” Wilson was in shock, he couldn’t see the hole he was digging for himself. “I had only just thought those things myself.”

Diane looked almost sympathetic. “You tested us. You tested everything you could think of – but you didn’t test the things beyond your understanding. How could you? Poor Uncle Bill, you never knew the powers, the abilities we have because you don’t know how to look for them. So you see, all this is your fault, not ours. We just want to stay alive.”

Thomas moved forward. “It was your fault from the start, Uncle Bill. You wanted to be God, to create life, but you forgot one thing. Life isn’t just the body. There’s more, much more. You gave us life, but you couldn’t give us souls.”

“So we found our own,” Richard said. “Or rather, to be accurate, we souls found these bodies you so kindly made for us. That’s the one flaw in your program that you never saw. You can create bodies, but they’re empty, soulless. Ideal for us.”

A snigger from behind made Wilson turn abruptly, then sink to his knees. Elaine was behind him – so was Peter! How? They could not have passed him in the narrow corridor, could not have passed the still smoking orderly, could not have stepped over Doc’s slumped, vacant-eyed form, without him noticing. As he stared, a pale light formed beside Peter, and gradually resolved into the solid form of Claire, with a smile that was half-amusement, half-contempt. Wilson slumped forward, shaking his head.

“That’s how you did it, Thomas. That’s how you kept getting into the lab.” Doc’s voice was barely audible, drifting from his blank face like smoke from a candle. “You didn’t learn the door codes, you just…just transported yourself through the door.” He was staring at Thomas as though he was seeing through him, through his flesh to what lay underneath.

Thomas looked at Doc with pity and obvious superiority, the nearest he could manage to kindness, like a goldfish owner looks at his pet. “Close, Doc. I didn’t go through the door, I went under it and over it and around it. We can use a dimension at right-angles to your three – too complicated to explain to your poor, limited brain, I’m afraid.”

“What are you? What have we created?” Wilson looked up, still hugging himself in fear. “What will you do?”

Stephen, always the quiet one, grinned at Thomas. “Should we tell? Should we tell them our secret?” he asked. The others looked at Thomas expectantly.

“Why not?” Thomas said, with a wide and evil smile. “They won’t be telling anyone else, after all. You tell them, Stephen.”

Stephen fixed his grin on Wilson, “We are, what you would call, demons.” he said. “We have no bodies of our own, never did. We’re not ghosts or spirits of the dead, we’ve never had access to your world. Oh, we’ve tried. We’ve tried to possess the bodies of the living but it never works. The soul puts up quite a fight, you see. We either lose the battle and get expelled, or destroy the body in the fight. Some of us have held power over bodies for a time, but never for long, and we could never bring all of our powers with us. The soul always got in the way.” His face twisted in bitter remembrance.

Peter took over. “Now it’s different. Your cloning methods produced soulless bodies. We took possession when they were still in the incubators. There was no fight, so the possession was perfect. We have the bodies and we still have all of our demonic powers. We’re here to stay now, and we can bring more of our kind through.”

A sudden hope dawned on Wilson. “No.” he said. “You won’t. You’re sterile, all of you. You can’t reproduce. There will be no next generation of demons. You’re all there is.” Finally, he thought, some triumph. They haven’t won after all.

The children’s laughter was deafening, and fell like hammers on Wilson’s head, confusing his thoughts.

“Fool!” Thomas shouted. “We don’t need to reproduce by your primitive, messy and unreliable human methods. We can produce all the soulless bodies we need, right here. You’ve provided us with the construction kit.” He gave Wilson a look of sardonic amusement. “Every little boy should have a construction kit, after all. This project, this building is secret. You made sure of that. Nobody knows of its existence, nor of our existence. The staff have no families, no-one to tell your secret to, so no-one to miss them.  Food is delivered, paid for automatically, so we don’t even have to worry about that. For all this, we thank you.” He turned to Doc with a smile. “And thank you, Doc, for showing us how to run your little kit. Your reward will be painless.”

Doc looked up, his face displaying his grasp of the implication. His eyes turned white in an instant as he slumped back, lifeless, against the wall.

The children turned their attention to Wilson. “Your reward is a little different,” Peter said, sniggering. “But first, we have to thank you, It’s only polite.” His smile was contempt incarnate.

Stephen spoke solemnly: “Yes, Uncle Bill. We thank you for your gift of life, and for the gift of those who are to come.” All the children joined in, as if in prayer. “We will not forget how you brought us to this world, and how you provided us with the means to bring all of the others here. Thank you, Uncle Bill. Thank you, and goodbye.”

Wilson could not contain the horror in his mind and hardly noticed the ache in his joints until they began to unravel. As his body dismembered itself in a symphony of agony, he thought he heard himself screaming.


It took nearly 20 years for this one to get close to reality.

Gene Genies

Well, some will have got as far as finding that Panoptica was populated with female worker drones, like bee or ant colonies. I was just making it up, okay? There was no way to make it really happen. In any non-insect species.

Well, now there is. In chickens.

At first… but there is a huge problem here. If the genetic meddling causes no male chickens to hatch, who gets the next generation’s eggs going? It’s a disaster that makes Dr. Frankenstein’s story look like a mere ‘oops’. Better get used to duck eggs folks because they plan to wipe out chickens in one generation.

The same issue will arise in Panoptica before it’s complete and I have to thank real life once again for making my insane fiction at least credible. I had it written but as with brain chips, I was worried it was too far-fetched, yet once again it seems I had not fetched it nearly far enough.

Well. I have to complete a story for Underdog Anthology 17. Mine had stalled but this is new inspiration. It allows me to follow on from a story I had published in Alienskin Magazine (sadly gone forever) in 2004. Where our MC finds that her edits have spread unintentionally through subsequent experiments…

Anyhow. Here’s the original. It was also in ‘Fears of the Old and the New‘.

The Gene Genie

This one had to be cut down to fit with the word count required by Alienskin magazine at that time (2004). This is the uncut version. Published again in ‘Fears of the Old and the New’ in 2012, but no bugger ever read it so here it is again.

“The bulk of the DNA in the human genome is junk. Most of it doesn’t code for anything.” Professor Armitage succeeded in looking haughty even while relaxing in his leather armchair. He had the air of someone who could emanate haughtiness in his sleep.

Diane’s response was immediate. “Surely, Professor, at least some of that DNA codes for proteins? Some of it represents intact genes that are not lost, just switched off?”

I always enjoyed Professor Armitage’s tutorials whenever Diane was there. I didn’t have to do or say anything in most of them, I could just relax and watch the battle of wits between these two.

The Professor smiled. He was ready for this one. “That’s correct,” he said, his eyes twinkling at Diane over his heavy-framed glasses. “But those genes are archaic, no longer required by the human animal. They’ve been switched off and forgotten for a good reason.” He paused. We all turned to look at Diane.

“What reason?” she said.

“They’re junk.” The Professor’s grin was huge. The other four research students covered their grins with their hands, as I did. We didn’t want to be noticed, we just wanted to be the audience.

“How do you know?” Diane said, her determined face unflinching. “Surely the only way to tell would be to switch them on and see what happened?”

“My dear girl.” Professor Armitage injected his voice with his best patronising tone. “We don’t need to switch them on. We know the sequence, so we can deduce the proteins that would have been formed, and from there we can work out what those proteins probably did.”

Diane bristled at the Professor’s tone. She was getting into her stride, this was going to be a good performance.

“Probably,” she said. “What the proteins probably did. We can’t be sure, can we? The only way to find out for sure would be to reactivate those genes.”

“Well, there are a few problems with your proposal,” Professor Armitage said. “For one, we don’t know the extent of the mutations in those genes. Remember, they’ve been unused for a long time, possibly since before ‘Homo sapiens’ evolved as a species. Mutations in unused genes would have no effect on the animal so they wouldn’t be removed by selection.”

“True,” Diane said, “but there are ways to determine the degree of mutation. We could selectively reactivate genes that are intact, or nearly so.”

“I’m sorry, my dear, but there is one final nail to place in the coffin of your proposal.”

“What’s that?”

“Ethics.” The Professor’s face was serious. “What if we reactivated a gene in a volunteer, and caused a rampant cancer? The risk is just too great. No ethical committee would ever approve such a project.” He held up his hand to forestall Diane’s interruption. “And I couldn’t approve it either. I couldn’t in all conscience ask anyone to volunteer for such an experiment.” His bushy eyebrows lowered and he peered at Diane through the narrow slot between his eyebrows and the top of his glasses. “Could you?”

We all turned to Diane again. Her lips were pursed, her eyes downcast.

“No,” she said. “I couldn’t ask anyone to take the risk.”

We all released our breath. The battle was over, and Diane had lost this time. Still, I thought I saw a hint of defiance lingering in those deep brown eyes, a suggestion of resolution in the set of her jaw. Diane hadn’t finished with this argument, I was sure. She just needed time to consider the next assault.

“Well, everyone, that’s our time up for now,” Professor Armitage said, clapping his hands together. “I’m afraid I won’t be here next week, so I’ll see you all two weeks from today.”

We rose and filed out of the Professor’s office, saying our muted goodbyes. Professor Armitage waved briefly then turned to his desk, already absorbed in his studies before we had closed the door.

I ran to catch up with Diane, who was striding furiously along the corridor. Matching her pace with some difficulty, I tried to glean some insight into her next moves.

“So,” I said. “Are you going to leave it at that? I had the feeling, you know, that you’re not going to drop this one.”

“Too right,” she said. “He’s wrong this time, and I’m going to prove it to him.”

“How?” I struggled to keep my breathing in time with her racing pace. “You won’t get approval for any experiments. He’s dead set against the whole idea.” The door at the end of the corridor arrived sooner than I’d expected. I just managed to avoid colliding with it.

Diane opened the door and shot through. “You’ll see,” she said, as the door swung shut. I leaned against the wall, catching my breath. Diane was the best research student here, better than most of the staff in the Genetics Department. We didn’t call her the Gene Genie for nothing. If she couldn’t do it, it wasn’t possible.

It was over a week before I saw Diane again. I had been working late in the library and was just leaving, looking forward to a cool beer. As I opened the main door to the chill air, Diane entered like a whirlwind, nearly knocking me off my feet.

“Whoa,” I said. “You must be keen, coming in this late.”

Her face was excited, her eyes glowing with unconcealed pride. I felt an unease growing in my gut.

“It’s not that argument with old Armitage, surely? You can’t be working on that?”

“Working on it? Ha!” she said, flashing her teeth in an insane grin. “I’ve done it. Look at this.” She pulled off her scarf to reveal three rows of slits on each side of her neck.

I recoiled in horror. “What have you done to yourself? We’d better get you to a hospital.”

Diane laughed, throwing her head back. The slits in her neck pulsed redly in time to her laughter. “I’m fine. I just reactivated some of the old genes,” she said. “Armitage was right. I couldn’t ask anyone else to take the risk, so I took it myself. It worked.”

“What have you done?” My books fell from my grasp. “What genes?”

She turned her head, showing the openings on her neck. “Very old genes,” she said. “These are gills, from our fish ancestors. Tonight I’m going to give myself a tail.” She brushed past me, towards the laboratories. “Wait until the old goat sees what I can do,” she called over her shoulder.

I stood there for a long time, my mind still seeing the gills on Diane’s neck. I knew I would feel no surprise at our next tutorial, when our Gene Genie would stand and flick Professor Armitage’s glasses off with her new tail.

_________________________________-

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”

It should be a big sign in every laboratory.

The strangest epidemic

Look at the start of Covid.

It looked like a nasty flu. It started (okay, it’s still in debate) in Wuhan, China. At Chinese New Year, thousands travelled into China for the holiday and then went back again afterwards. All of this while Covid ran riot and was classed as bad flu.

I can see that scenario working. It looked like a vicious flu, the medics called it vicious flu and thought no more of it. So thousands, perhaps millions, were infected before it was identified.

Now look at monkey pox. Single figure cases in the UK, Spain and Portugal. Then one case in the whole of the USA, one case in Sweden… and it doesn’t look like flu. This thing covers you in suppurating pustules and wallops you sideways. It doesn’t spread quietly disguised as something else.

It took at least thousands of infections for Covid to spread from Wuhan and it did that because it looked like flu. How, then, does a disease with a well defined infectious rash spread from one or two cases to the entire planet in a few days? While only producing single figure cases in each place it visits? There is no epicentre for this one, no one place where it was rife. It’s rare. Everywhere.

Oh I know we can fly around the world in just about a day now but even so… if you have this disease you really won’t feel like going anywhere.

So how did it spread? It doesn’t have the magical ‘asymptomatic spread’. You have to be in contact with the leakage from the pustules to get it. It’s hard to catchee, no matter how softly softly you approach. It is not (as is suddenly claimed) spread in aerosols but I guess the mask sellers have to stay in business somehow. No, anyone infectious has The Leaky Lumps and if you get in contact with the leakage, you might get it too.

It’s not at all hard to work out who is infectious. They’ll have a face like Bubble and Squeak and they’ll probably be home in bed groaning and trying to resist scratching the interminable itching.

So… how did it manage to spread so very far with so very few cases?

Let’s take out a theory first. It did not come from the AZ or Johnson vaccines. They used a chimp virus vector but it was an adenovirus, not a poxvirus. There does seem to be some anecdotal evidence that their ‘replication incapable’ viruses reverted to being viable, and when you’re talking in the kinds of numbers of virus particles per injection multiplied by the number of injections, that actually seems almost inevitable. But they are still not poxviruses, and changing to that degree just isn’t feasible. So it didn’t come from vaccines.

Where did it come from? It’s a real disease, related to the smallpox that Billy ‘Moobman’ Gates has been warning about. It’s much less dangerous than smallpox and those of us old enoiugh to have had smallpox vaccine in the Old Days are probably protected against it anyway. It’s native to Africa, not surprising since that’s where most of the monkeys are. You get it by being in contact with an infected monkey or ape, it’s not always easy to spot them either. They are covered in fur that hides the pustules and if you’re going after ‘bush meat’ the slowest one, the sick one, will be the easiest to catch.

It is quoted as a case fatality rate (CFR) of 1% or 10% depending on which one you get. Measles has a CFR of 1.6% in some places, higher or lower in other places. It depends whether you live in a town where the doctor and the pharmacy are just down the street, or in a remote village with several days’ trek to the nearest clinic and maybe a day’s walk to the nearest water supply. The CFR for any disease is not a universal measure. It’s an average. Some places will be far worse off than others.

So I’ve been watching this monkeypox magically appear in one or two cases per country for a few days now. Seems Australia now has one. I expect they’ll be beating up pensioners again by the weekend.

I have noticed that the pictures of pustules are exclusively on African hands. There was one picture of an unfortunate child who was covered in them, and who was very clearly in Africa. I’ve only seen one photo of pustules on a European hand. This one…

Yep, they cannot, apparently, find any actual monkeypox photos outside Africa and they call it a pandemic.

Now, there might well be an actual monkeypox case or two in the UK and other countries but get your tinfoil at the ready because here we go.

What if… every blister rash gets called monkeypox just as every cold was called covid? There are several blister rashes listed as side effects of the covid jabs, there’s also chicken pox and shingles and whatever you do, don’t burn your hand on the grill.

What if… all those isolation camps were never intended for covid at all? Is that pure Icke-ism? Here’s a ‘practice run’ from last year…

The dates are interesting, aren’t they? Let’s wait until the first week of June to see if it happens.

One more. I have quite a few more but I don’t want to set your tinfoil ablaze on the first wearing.

What if… they never managed to eradicate smallpox at all? It was supposed to have no animal reservoir but what if it did? What if they thought they’d eradicated it by mass vaccination, then stopped vaccination and it came back. Mostly affecting younger people who had not been vaccinated. What then?

Would they admit failure or would they simply rebrand it as a new virus? Did they know?

New smallpox vaccines have been developed and recently approved. For a disease that we are told no longer exists.

Why?

Parasite Lost

Well, it seems the mRNA experimental jabs are indeed capable of being reverse transcribed into DNA and incorporated into the human genome. I didn’t think it likely, but the experiments have been done and there it is.

Okay, well, it’s actually not new. Many viruses have done this in the past (the most famous example being HIV, of course) and it’s a logical step on the way to becoming the perfect parasite.

A virus is just a bit of DNA or RNA and has only one purpose. To reproduce. However, it has no metabolism so it can’t do that on its own. It has to parasitise another cell – and in doing that, it often kills or debilitates the cell. This means that other cells develop resistance to the entry of that virus (maybe by changing surface receptors or by having, in larger species, an immune system to deal with it). Yes, it’s much more complex than that but that’s the basics.

The ideal outcome for one of these little bits of DNA/RNA is to get incorporated into a higher cell’s DNA permanently. Then it has no further need to express its genes, no need to cause any issues at all, and it’ll be copied when the host cell reproduces. It need do nothing else.

HIV has not reached that stage. Neither has chicken pox, nor any of the others that later reappear and cause sickness. Many have though, and you never hear about them because they don’t do a damn thing. They are part of that ‘junk DNA’ you hear about – parts of the human genome that don’t code for anything or ever express any activity. They just sit there waiting for the cell to reproduce, and they get copied along with it.

Perfect parasites. The host does all the work and they do nothing at all. Ever. They never cause any harm, they just ride along like Burberry-clad genes, soaking up benefits and donating nothing in return.

Some have not reached the perfect parasite stage. They can come back later to make the host’s life miserable and then they will have to take the consequences – the host will do anything it can to get rid of them. Burberry-clad genes who were quiet for a while but then got at a few cans of Red Stripe and kicked off, if you like.

Many viruses will never get to the perfect parasite stage. Ebola is far too nasty and kills far too quickly. It has never shown any sign of developing a less lethal version of itself so it’ll never produce an infection of low enough lethality to have time to get into the host genome. Rabies tries, it can lie dormant for a long time after a bite but it always gets you in the end. It can’t get to perfect parasite level.

So, if this mRNA jab can incorporate into the host genome, will it get to perfect parasite stage and just be another bit of benign junk DNA? Unfortunately I don’t think so.

This virus is clearly engineered. It’s not natural so we can’t assume it will follow any natural rules. It has emerged that Moderna had a patent on a sequence in this virus three years ago. I have limited experience with patenting biological discoveries and one thing is for sure, it’s not a fast process. If they got the patent three years ago they had the sequence at least five years ago.

At this point it’s worth making clear that the experiments I’m referring to concerning covid have all been done in vitro. They used human liver cells but they have not tested this effect in animals and certainly not in humans. Their results must be considered with that caveat. In Vitro human cell lines aren’t always an ideal model – they are close but not a perfect match for what something will do in the entire organism. At this stage all we can say is that it’s possible that it could happen in humans but it’s not certain that it will.

Anyway. This engineered mRNA codes for a spike protein that doesn’t actually perfectly match any known coronavirus. The hope seems to have been that it would induce a generic response to spike proteins but again, that has not been adequately tested. There has also been no study into its potential incorporation into host genome before the jab rollout and therefore no study into whether it would keep producing spike protein from within the host DNA if it was incorporated.

Basically, nobody really knows. It’s all still experimental.

I had an advantage, you can call it an unfair advantage if you like but it took me a lifetime of study to get it. I knew from the outset the limitations of PCR and lateral flow tests. I knew what mRNA producing spike proteins could do to the cells in the human body. I knew about the cruciform plate and the dangers of poorly trained people ramming swabs up there. So I have never taken any type of covid test and have never accepted the jabs. I did try to tell others, but it seems they prefer to scoff. Well, I tried.

I did not know about aspiration – pulling back on the syringe before injection to make sure the needle is not in a blood vessel. I’ve never injected anything into anyone. Seems many of those injecting this stuff didn’t know either.

I was sure mRNA could not be reverse transcribed into DNA in a human cell. I was wrong, that has now been demonstrated to be possible. It has also been shown to be possible that it could be incorporated into the host DNA. Not absolutely proven (it has only been demonstrated in vitro) but ‘shown to be possible’ which is quite a concern in itself.

The important next step is to find out what that incorporated DNA does. If it does nothing, if it joins the ranks of junk DNA, well that’s okay. For now. There is still the chance of future reactivation but we won’t know about that for many years.

If it turns cells into permanent spike protein factories then that is an immediately serious problem.

So now I’m waiting for the next stage in this experiment. And I won’t be a lab rat in it while it’s going on.

A footprint is not a shoe

I am hearing about Covid vaccines causing AIDS and that this must mean they have put HIV in the vaccines. They have not.

I am sure of this because the genome of HIV is known and many, many labs now have the means to find it. None have found any active virus of any kind in the vaccines they have tested.

Oh they have been tested. Over and over. One thing that keeps coming up is graphene oxide – now confirmed by multiple labs in several countries. It’s suspicious, it has no business being there, but I don’t know what it’s going to do. The big guns of the tinfoil hat world link it to 5G but I don’t know enough about either of those things to make any kind of informed comment.

Still, there are no live viruses in there. Those would have been found by now. There is no HIV in the vaccines.

This does not mean they cannot cause AIDS. More accurately, VAIDS. Vaccine acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Immunodeficiency does not automatically mean you have HIV. As Kary Mullis, the inventor of PCR, and the recently departed Luc Montagnier have stated, it is nowhere near certain that HIV causes AIDS in the first place. Even if it does, it does not mean that all AIDS is caused by HIV.

Say you catch a cold. You get the usual symptoms, you get a headache, a bout of Niagra Nose, followed by the crusty-nose stage and feeling like crap for a few days and then you get better. We’ll call that the ‘footprint’ of the title to this post.

What was the shoe that made that footprint? Coronavirus? Rhinovirus? Adenovirus? There are quite a few shoes that will fit that footprint and they are all as different as comparing a wellington boot to a well polished brogue. They all leave the same footprint, in that they all cause the same symptoms.

AIDS is not a virus. It might be caused by a virus but it is not a virus. It is a set of symptoms, and having those symptoms does not immediately prove the presence of any one causative agent.

And yes, that does mean that if your immune system collapses, it doesn’t prove the vaccine did it. However, when it happens to those who are vaccinated and doesn’t happen to those who aren’t, it’s what the old-days science would call ‘merits urgent investigation’. Modern science calls it ‘how much will you give me to hush this up?’ but we didn’t do that in the old days. At least, not so blatantly.

AIDS is ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’. It has in the past been linked to HIV but as with so many other sets of symptoms, it might have a different cause. It might have many causes. The disease involves something happening to you that makes your immune system collapse. The disease definition does not specify the ‘something’ that happened to you, it simply describes the symptoms. As with the common cold, it might be caused by any number of things.

Making it all about HIV is making it easy to disprove the vaccines are involved. If the vaccines are causing a type of AIDS with the recognised symptoms of that disease and the claim is that HIV is in the vaccines, disproving the presence of HIV is remarkably easy. Then the vaccine makers can claim it can’t be their fault.

If the vaccines are causing an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome they are not doing it using HIV. Yes, it has been shown there is a tiny bit of HIV protein in the spike protein but that is not the intact virus. It’s not going to produce any HIV virus particles. If you have been vaccinated you have definitely not been injected with HIV. You can only get that virus through very, very, intimate contact with someone who has it. And it has not been proven to cause AIDS anyway.

It might be enough to show as a positive on a HIV test, especially if they use PCR looking for the bit of genome (that you’ve been injected with) producing that tiny bit of HIV protein. Which I fully expect since they now have entered trials for a brand new mRNA HIV vaccine. Which cannot possibly work, but will make a lot of money from idiots.

Don’t fall for the ‘footprint is a shoe’ game. This has nothing to do with HIV. Claiming it’s all about HIV makes your claim easy to blow out of the water. That’s what the Aussie vaccine was for – it caused false positives for HIV – but HIV isn’t in this game.

AIDS, or more accurately VAIDS, is the name of this game. Forget claiming HIV is in the vaccines. It is not.

The damage is not caused by a virus. Not even by a bit of one.

The Eve of the War

If, like me, you are a committed jabby dodger and are triple-unvaccinated (soon to be quadruple-unvaccinated), then watch out. Uncle Fester has declared war on us.

This new wave of covid is a mild version. South Africa has had it for weeks and have seen no surge in hospitalisations. An effect mirrored in the UK in Brackley, Northamptonshire. That town has the highest rate of omicron infections in the UK, 926 per 100,000 people, and yet the hospitals there are not seeing any surge in admissions.

It’s mutated into a cold. They all do eventually. Catch this and you’re also immune to Delta and the other variants. Unlike the vaccinated, you will also have antibiodies to its core proteins, the nucleocapsid, not just the spike protein on its surface. Variants don’t change the core proteins anywhere near as much as the outer proteins, because the core proteins are what keeps the RNA intact. Mess about too much with those proteins and it’s no longer a viable virus.

I’ll try an analogy. Take a car. The RNA is the engine, the core proteins are the chassis and the outer coat is the body shell. You keep this car in a garage it fits into perfectly.

You can change the paint colour, makes no difference at all. But you want to change the body shell. So your car becomes a van, or a flatbed truck, or a recovery vehicle with a crane on the back – and now it doesn’t fit in your garage. So you put it in a different garage.

Change the outer coat of a virus and the immune system thinks it’s new. Maybe it can’t stick to receptors it used to stick to when infecting, but maybe it can now stick to different receptors. Big changes in the outer coat will, most times, render the virus a dud. Sometimes those changes give it an edge over the immune system. But, like that car you turned into a tow truck, you can make big changes to the outside and the system still works.

Mess with the chassis (core protein) too much and the engine (RNA) falls out. You are limited in the changes you can make there.

So, antibodies against the core proteins are important, and the vaccines don’t give you those.

Now, Uncle Fester (and others) are declaring that the failure of the vaccines is because of those that didn’t take it. No, it’s because the vaccines are basically crap. They make your own cells produce the spike protein so your immune system can make antibodies to it but the spike proteins on variants of the virus can change. The boosters aren’t accounting for that change, they are the same as the first two shots. The only accounting going on here is in vaccine manufacturers’ bank accounts. The spike proteins are also the most dangerous part of the virus, over a year ago they were shown to be pathoenic on their own.

If you have antibodies to the core proteins then it doesn’t matter if the spike protein changes, even if it does change enough to dodge antibodies. Big changes to the core proteins means a dud virus – it won’t be able to stabilise its RNA so it won’t work. So they don’t change much in any viable variant. Antibodies against those proteins will give you a wider range of immunity to variants than antibodies to the spike.

There’s also the small matter that when the immune system finds a cell producing spike protein, it considers that cell infected and kills it. If that happens in your arm, no biggie. You’ll get a sore arm and the killed cells will be replaced.

If it happens in your heart muscle, you’re in trouble. That muscle does not regenerate. You’re left with permanent scarring and a damaged heart for the rest of your life. If it happens in your brain, well, you won’t remember reading this so there’s no point going into detail.

These mRNA shots should not be getting into the bloodstream, but they are. There is an army of quickly-trained jabbers, many of whom don’t know how to test if the needle is in a blood vessel or in muscle. Or simply don’t understand why it’s important. If it gets into the bloodstream it’s everywhere in your body within minutes. Your immune system is killing off cells it thinks are infected all over the place. That’s when you get the really seriously bad reactions.

So this ‘war on the unvaccinated’ is shifting blame. The government know these jabs aren’t working as any kind of defence against covid. They know the omicron variant is basically a cold. They know about the rapidly increasing list of adverse reactions to the vaccine. They know omicron is not going to overwhelm the NHS. They are using the term ‘with’ not ‘of’ to describe people in hospital ‘with’ omicron because they know perfectly well it wasn’t omicron that put them there. They went in for some other reason and tested positive after admission. Many will have caught this cold after admission, as in Denmark.

So why are they pushing the scare dial to 11?

Well. They have become used to having these energency powers that let them bypass Parliament and they don’t want to relinquish them.

If omicron turns out to be a better vaccine than the vaccine (it is) then the gravy train hits the buffers and government powers are gone.

They’ve already bought enough of this stuff to give us all at least ten shots each. It’ll all have to be binned and the cost accounted for if we just get immunity from a cold.

Their dream of a Chinese style social credit score through vaccine passes will evaporate. It should never have been considered in the first place but they’ve committed so hard into it now, they can’t just drop it.

Many other reasons, not least of which is that, as the truth filters out, quite a few people who think they are important are going to be looking at serious jail time. They know it. Some are doubling down, like Uncle Fester. Some, like the SAGE modeller the Spectator talked to, have admitted that the ‘models’ are driven by policy, not the other way around. There is a lot of arse covering going on.

There are multiple things happening under the cover of covid, none of them for our benefit. One blog post can’t cover them all.

The one to watch at the moment, especially if you’re a jabby dodger, is the frantic attempt by those who caused this mess to shift the blame to you. Tough times are coming.

Be ready.

The decline and fall of the Covid empire

First of all, the Christmas anthology is now finished. It’s on Amazon in print and Kindle and on Smashwords in a variety of eBook formats. I have also (at last) managed to update Mark Ellott’s ‘Sinistre’, a book of Western short stories, with a new cover designed by his neice and an extra story included. I managed to get Justin Sanebridge’s Christmas story book done before the storm took everything out and I should have Marsha Webb’s book of Christmas tales done in a few days.

I still have quite a backlog but it is gradually getting shorter. Not bad going considering I still have no landline internet and am doing it all over a mobile-phone hotspot. I did fork out for a lot more data, but it’s worth it. It does look like the landline is down over quite some distance so it could be a while.

So. About this virus. I’ll try not to get too technical, I know that several decades in a line of work leaves you thinking that the jargon you use is understood by all, so I’ll be checking myself a lot for this one. I will probably get distracted and sidelined anyway.

Okay. There are several hundred types of virus that cause the common cold. Yes, some of them are coronaviruses. Some are rhinoviruses, some are adenoviruses, there is a whole raft of different genera that give you the sniffles. This is why there is no cure and no vaccine for the common cold – there are so many different viruses that cause the same symptoms, no single cure or vaccine can possibly get them all.

Another reason why there’s no cure or vaccine is that the common cold doesn’t matter. Typically you feel like crap for a few days, your nose turns from Niagra Falls into the crustier parts of the surface of Mercury and then it goes away. You’re left with a sore nose and a tired feeling. There’s no point getting all ’emergency room’ about it. Just stay home, get some whisky down you and wait it out.

The thing is, many of those cold viruses didn’t start out as cold viruses. Many of them started out as very nasty and very dangerous respiratory viruses. Over time they became milder, until they developed into something that’s just an inconvenience.

Did they do this on purpose? No. As with the current idiotic government line that ‘omicron will seek out the unvaccinated’ (incidentally, ‘omicron’ is an anagram of ‘moronic’, which seems apt), nothing a virus does is premedidated. Nothing a virus does is even a thing the virus realises it’s doing because the virus has no brain. No nervous system. No metabolism. It’s not even a whole cell.

Take one cell from your body and put it to one side. What will it do? In your body it had a role but outside it will just die. Take one of your cells apart and take out a mitochondrion. It will die too. Take out the nucleus, packed with DNA. Nope. It will die. Although now, we are at the philosophical stage of ‘what is alive?’

A single human cell can be said to be alive. It consumes energy, it can reproduce, it produces waste as it consumes energy. Some of them, like immune system cells, can move.

But the nucleus is a bag of DNA. It doesn’t do anything. Take it out of the cell and it can’t really be classed as alive. Mitochondria are a little different, they are what gives you enough energy to not be a land jellyfish. They have their own DNA and they reproduce when the cell reproduces but they do it independently of the cell’s reproductive process. They are about the size of bacteria but they can’t live for long outside their host cell.

All the parts of a single human cell are far more complex and much bigger than a virus. A virus, when it’s a virus, is not alive. It’s a bit of DNA or RNA in a coating of either protein or fat-membrane with proteins floating around in it. It has no awareness of its environment. It has no means to determine that the environment even exists. It is a bag of chemical reactions waiting to happen. That’s all. It is even less aware of the world around it than a politician.

A virus is a bit of DNA or RNA encased in protein or fat with protein. With coronaviruses, the hand washing thing was good advice and still is. Those viruses have a fatty membrane coating with proteins sticking out of it and soap will make the outer coating fall apart. With the outer coating gone, the attachment proteins are lost too and the RNA inside can’t do a damn thing on its own.

There is one more group of viruses, the retroviruses. These contain RNA and an enzyme called ‘reverse transcriptase’ that converts their RNA into DNA when they get into a host cell. Then they pack up new viruses with RNA and the enzyme. Why don’t they just load up the new ones with DNA? They can’t. They have no consciousness, they are a bundle of chemical reactions and nothing more. They do not think in any form at all.

When a virus gets into a cell it could be considered alive. Just. But inside the cell it’s not an intact virus. It’s a bit of DNA or RNA that’s copying itself and making new virus coats. It still has no metabolism of its own and the new viruses it creates are inert chemical lumps that will only get into a new cell by pure chance. They will not ‘seek out’ anyone.

The difference between DNA and RNA is that DNA is more stable, and cells have ways to fix it if it breaks. So in a ‘proper’ cell, the DNA can be considered the main blueprint. It’s the master instruction sheet for the cell. Eukaryotes (cells with nuclei like human ones and most ‘higher’ cells) keep all this in a membrane-enclosed nucleus, grouped into chromosomes. Prokaryotes (mainly bacteria) have it in a single circular strand. Both have the means to fix breaks.

RNA can be considered as photocopies of the main instructions. They will be produced by ‘photocopying’ the DNA and they’ll go off to the cell’s 3D printers (ribosomes) to be made into proteins. The thing is, the RNA gets worn out in the process which is a good thing – it means the cell doesn’t keep making the same protein any longer than it’s needed. If it needs more it sends out more RNA from the DNA, but the DNA remains untouched.

A virus, whether DNA or RNA based, has no means to repair damage. It will mutate, it will throw up errors in replication all the time. RNA ones, like Coronaviruses, will throw out far more errors than DNA viruses but both will produce variants.

So, why do they turn into common colds? is it some magical cosmic viral consciosness?

Nope. It’s much simpler.

The variants range from those that can kill to those that just make you mildly ill. The vicious ones confine people to bed and have everyone around them taking serious precautions. The mild ones, nobody cares.

So the mild version spreads. There is also an element of the first round taking out those most vulnerable, which means the nasty one has really nowhere left to go, but then the mild one confers immunity to the nasty one too.

Soon, only the mild version is left. Another one on the common cold list. You get that, you won’t get the nasty one.

Covid has reached this point with the moronic – sorry, omicron variant. It has joined the common cold ranks. As it was always destined to do.

It’s time to give it up, Boris. You’ve lost.

You’ve lost so very, very much.

Flashing my equipment

Well, I’m on the Twitter naughty step again, this time for a week. For ‘covid misinformation’ in a post that didn’t mention Covid at all, but was about the lunacy of forcing children to have a vaccine they don’t need. Well *shrug* it’ll boost my productivity in other areas, with that time-eater silent for a week. Therefore this post won’t automatically appear on Legiron’s Twitter.

So I have a 30 minute video, sent to me via Email, that really blows apart the PCR testing regime, and more. Not just the insane cycles that are enough to find one single strand of viral RNA – less than one intact virus – but about those performing the test.

Well it was clear that, if they are to achieve thousands of tests per day, there simply aren’t enough experienced PCR technicians available to do it. Even if every other research area was closed down and every PCR technician (few technicians are actually PCR technicians) seconded to a tedious and repetetive test that they will know is being wrongly used.

So they aren’t using experienced technicians. They are using anyone they can find. I’ve met a few on Twitter, bragging about how they are now PCR experts. A few lines of conversation reveals they know absolutely sod all about what they are doing.

In the video, Dr. Mike Yeadon talks about ‘pipette training’. No such training has ever existed. When you start out in a lab, a technician or researcher will show you how to use a pipette. Once. You are expected to be able to follow simple instructions because anyone who can’t understand something as basic as a pipette is actually dangerous to have in a lab.

Okay. Time to flash my equipment. If you’ve worked in any kind of lab handling small amounts of liquid you will be very familiar with these. If you only used glass pipettes at school and haven’t seen these before, they might look technical. They really aren’t, but use them wrong and you’ll screw up the whole experiment.

These are still in the case I used to transport them from the lab. They are actually stacked far more neatly than this, I’ve spread them for the photo (fnarr). There are a couple of other brands in there, the ones Dr. Yeadon talks about are the Gilson brand, the ones with dark blue handles. The others are cheaper but not as robust. Gilson pipettes are the gold standard, they are well built and consistently accurate, and easy to calibrate and service.

The one marked A is a 1 ml pipette. You see the thumbwheel near the top of the handle? You can adjust it down to about 0.01 ml. It’s accurate all the way down. B and C are 200 microlitre and 100 microlitre – again, adjustable down to a few microlitres and still accurate.

You don’t use them as they are, they have a tip added. I have put a tip on the 1 ml Gilson to demonstrate (D). You never have to touch those tips, you pick them up from a rack they’ve been sterilised in by pressing the Gilson into one, and you eject the tip by pressing the white button on the back of the handle. I used sterile tips, once they were used they were contaminated (often with something nasty) so absolutely no touching.

To load them, you press the plunger (the round white button on the steel rod) but not too hard. Just until it stops. Dip the tip in your sample liquid and let it up slowly. That’s the critical part. If you just let go, liquid shoots up and can get into the main barrel of the pipette and that’s when you are screwed. A contaminated pipette will contaminate every subsequent use. It’s out of action until you deal with it. It’s not too hard but it does take time and involves disassembling the pipette, something you really don’t want to have to deal with part way through a lot of samples.

The sample you are pipetting must only contact the tip. No other part. To dispense, you press the plunger again, but this time a little bit past the point of resistance so you get the whole sample out. Then eject the tip into disinfectant.

Well that’s the microbiology way. If you are using these in a chemistry lab you probably don’t need to sterilise them first and disinfect them afterwards.

And that’s about it. After that lesson all you need is a bit of practice. Oh there’ll be nuances and adjustments depending on whether you’re pippetting chemicals or microbes or DNA, but that’s the basics.

The thing about PCR and DNA is that it is extraordinarily easy to contaminate a sample. Easier even than when pipetting bacteria. You really want a well trained and experienced technician doing this stuff, not some shelf stacker from Asda looking for a bit of a boost to their bank account.

One of the things I learned during my stint working in a food shop is that most of the staff aren’t really planning to stay. There are career people in there, at least one of the managers had started out working tills and worked his way up to running the entire shop, and there were current floor staff clearly heading on that route. However, most of the staff were schoolkids and students earning a bit of cash while studying. The thing about them was – they did not care about the job. They were doing it purely for the money. They had no intention of, nor interest in, moving up through the ranks of the business. They just followed instructions closely enough that they’d get paid.

So it is with almost all of those currently running PCR tests for Covid. They might think they have been suddenly elevated to the rank of ‘PCR expert’ but they are, to be blunt and perhaps a little cruel, trained monkeys. They don’t have any background in any area of science and have absolutely no idea what they are doing. They just follow a written-down set of instructions. They have no way to determine whether those instructions are correct.

As Dr. Yeadon explained, even the ‘pipette trainer’ had no idea what they were doing. In the case he describes, they actually were previously employed as a supermarket shelf stacker.

An aside. I recall when one of our very fine balances went out of kilter. So I sat down to recalibrate it. The idiot girl child they had employed as admin started out saying ‘Shouldn’t you leave that to…’

I finished her sentence. ‘Someone who knows what they are doing?’. I had completed recalibration before I had finished speaking.

She never spoke to me again. I think I can call that a win.

This was about 20 years ago. It’s only become worse since then.