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TWiV 184 Letters

Apoptosis writes:

A video of 'Every Major's Terrible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdyoGruec88&feature=youtu.be

Steve writes:

I heard TWIV 183 this weekend and Vincent's suggestion that a listener send in a singing version of Randall Munroe's "Every Major's Terrible."

Today, 05 14, I did a little research. As this blog post summarizes, there was one posted to YouTube within hours, and now there are many: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/126500.

I would note, however, that my e-mail to TWIV was sent on the day Munroe posted the cartoon, at 11:23 Pacific Time. I'm an xkcd fan--not so much YouTube--and had no clue about any YouTube versions until this afternoon.

By the way, I would love it if Vincent would set up an episode around his contention that science publication is "broken." Maybe Alan Dove could discuss the embargo system from a journalist's point of view, especially with respect to Rosie Redfield's experience with arXiv and Science.

Forrest writes:

Hi TWIV,

I have just added another virus sculpture to my series on computer viruses.

http://www.30computers.com/CV_AdenoCD.htm

You may recall that TWIV picked up on the T9 Track Virus I did a few years ago:

http://www.twiv.tv/2009/07/12/twiv-40-tamiflu-in-the-water/

This most recent sculpture is based on the Adenovirus and is called AdenoCD Virus, the 7th sculpture in this series. It is being exhibited at the Artomatic 2012 (http://www.artomatic.org) in Crystal City, just over the river from Washington, DC. This show will open this Friday May 18th and will run through June 23. Hope your listeners will stop by. There is at least one other artist there who has been generating excellent art with a virology theme, Michele Banks, http://www.etsy.com/shop/artologica.

Thanks,

Forrest McCluer

www.30computers.com

Raihan writes:

Hello TWIVians,

I came across this article about Influenza B prevalence in 2010.

Being an avid TWiV listener, i was pleasantly surprised when i saw a quote from VIrus-Guru Prof Racaniello.

'Vincent Racaniello, PhD, a virologist at Columbia University who writes Virology Blog, told CIDRAP News that the influenza B pattern the WHO is reporting is typical. He said the two main lineages, B/Victoria-like and B/Lee-like, have been cocirculating for 25 years, with changing patterns of prevalence and geographic distribution.'

I was however a little perutrbed by the mis-naming of one of the currently circulating influenza B lineages. I would like to point out that the two main lineages are B/Victoria-like and B/Yamagata-like, not B/Lee-like.

B/Lee was the first ever flu B virus isolated in 1940 and ever since the early 80s, influenza B viruses fall in either of the Yamagata or Victoria lineages. B/Lee would fall as an outlier when compared to currently circulating strains.

Sorry if I'm being too pedantic, I learned that from TWiV.

keep up the excellent work

Josh writes:

Dear TWiV Doctors,

First a correction from my last email: I should have said Dr. Olsterholm and not Mr. Olsterholm. Apologies to Dr. Olsterholm.

I just finished watching the H5N1 Research Discussion from the TWiV link in Episode 173. It seems to me that the key question is: why is there a marked difference between the NSABB recommendation and the WHO geneva meeting recommendation? If the science is the same, is it the process that is the variable, or is it the personnel, or what else might there be?

1. The personnel: The WHO meeting mostly consisted of directors of national virology labs from around the world. You can see the list here: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/list_participants/en/index.html

The NSABB is quite different. It's full of MD's, healthcare business representatives, and lots of people who are in biosafety/biodefense labs around the country. You can see the whole list here: http://oba.od.nih.gov/biosecurity/biosecurity_voting_members.html

One voting member is Retired Air Force General John A Gordon, who was Deputy Director of the CIA from October 1997 - 2000, and Homeland Security Advisor from 2003-2004. I found him on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Gordon. The NSABB doesn't list his past achievements.

Another voting member is Marc Nance, J.D., listed as General Counsel for GE Healthcare.

Dr. Lynn Enquist, guest on TWiV 54, is also a voting member. Maybe he could come on TWiV and talk about this? Dr. Osterholm likes to say that the voting was unanimous, so I assume he cast a vote in favor. Dr. Kenneth Berns from UFL Gainsville is also a voting member. It's too bad we don't know anyone from UFL Gainsville who might be able to get him on TWiV......

I'm not saying anyone on the list is a "bad person", but there seems to be a lot of non-virologists on the list. The scientists on the list are mostly from the "biosafety community", meaning that most of them have previous experience with biosafety/biodefense committee service, such as Dr. Relman from Stanford, whose bio reads as follows:

Dr. Relman advises the U.S. Government, as well as non-governmental organizations, in matters pertaining to microbiology, emerging infectious diseases, and biosecurity. He currently serves as Chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats (U.S. National Academies of Science)

While there is nothing wrong with that in principle, I am concerned that the NSABB is full of scientists who are "professional worriers", and that they might have a form of collective "intern's disease".

2. The process:

Dr. Fauci summed up the WHO meeting this way (http://www.1310news.com/news/world/article/331905--press-pause-who-meeting-on-bird-flu-studies-says-publish-in-full-but-later):

"It was clear that the consensus of the group was that given the clear and present danger of an evolving virus in the field, out there in the real world and the need to address this clear and present danger by research that helps to understand how viruses adapt themselves and go from one species to another ... that outweighs the hypothetical risk of a bioterrorist."

Which is exactly the point that was raised by Dr. Racaniello some episodes back. In other words, a meeting in Geneva with virology lab directors flow in from all over the world produced a result that was achieved weeks earlier by three virologists and a parasitologist talking about the issue on TWiV. However this point was not raised during the ASM Biodefense netcast. Dr. Olsterholm merely says that all sides of the issue(of publishing in full) were discussed.

Well, how do we know they were discussed? The proceedings of the NSABB are not open for scrutiny. In the video, Dr. Olsterholm clearly says that the process is closed, and the process cannot be discussed. The WHO meeting, in contrast, was not a closed process. I don't know that a transcript is available, but from what I have seen in the press, the members were free to discuss the situation with outsiders.

So there are three examples of process. Which two processes are more similar? The two similar processes come up with the same result, the anomalous process produces different result.

3. Something else: Of course, there could be something I'm not considering. Maybe its the "jury effect", where some members pressure other members.Maybe the normal CYA of a government committee. After all, what is the downside for them of voting to restrict? And if they don't vote to restrict some stuff, then they might start asking themselves "why have these stupid meetings anyway?"

Also, in the video one of the guests makes the point that the Global and National reporting and intelligence systems for detecting flu are not adequate. Maybe that's what the NSABB should be focusing on?

Sincerely,

Joshua

Ken writes:

Hello VRAD,

Thought I share with you what I just discovered and my pick for TwiV.

Wattpad - http://www.wattpad.com/

Calling itself “YouTube for ebooks,” Wattpad is a repository for user-uploaded electronic texts. The content includes work by undiscovered and published writers. Delivery emphasizes the mobile phone platform, using the free Freda ebook reader

Your long time listener and friend

Ken.

Ghana.

 

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