Brilliant algorithm on the shape of epidemics
I was reading this fine article by Kevin Drum on lead and crime, when this paragraph jumped out:
Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it's everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the '60s and '70s and the fall of crime in the '90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.
The way to fight ebola is said to be contact tracing, but I can't a graph mapping the shape of the contacts; my guess is that its spread follows transportation routes, or maybe it leaps via transport nodes, and then ans out from each node. I'm not sure why there's no shape listed for "viral," as opposed to microbia.)
But I wasn't thinking of ebola.
I was thinking of obesity. (Pause to point over there for shaming and health discussion. Anybody who travels in and out of the United States regularly can see that Americans are just heavier. Massively heavier.) Could be High Fructose Corn Syrup (as in the wonderful King Corn) but something else, or other molecules in combination, over time, since the food-like products in this country are a witches brew of chemicals. And plenty of other oddball diseases that seem to be diet related in some way.
I'm not sure at this point we can figure out what, or have the the time to figure out what, which is why Michael Pollan's mantra -- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. -- is probably the best way to go. Cut out everything (except for water) that might have those molecules in it, and you'll be healthier and happily. (In some ways, the nutrition sites remind me of CT; bogged down in detail and sucking energy from solutions. We don't need to know which molecule to know a molecule; and culture takes it from there with taboos and customs. We'd get a lot further on global warming, I am convinced, if we could get hydrocarbons treated as the objects of taboo that they indeed should be, being icky, sticky, corrosive, flammable, and poisonous.*
Looks like the right wing loons got the idea right. They just got the wrong molecule.
"On no account will a Commie ever drink water, and not without good reason."
NOTE * OK, OK, confession time, I mowed a lot of lawns as a kid, and the fresh smell of gasoline....