The Gross National Debt

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And I don't mean lawyers

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When most people think of parasites, the words disgusting, revolting and similar descriptive phrases come to mind.

Tell these same people they are presently infested with parasites and you'll be met with incredulity, hostility or outright denial.

S'true tho. You, reading this, likely have somewhat under 1 million parasites inhabiting your body. Possibly more. I don't know that anyone has ever done a comprehensive study.

You have eyelashes? You have microscopic parasites living at the base of your eyelashes.

Your skin is pretty much a parasite paradise. One square inch of skin can support hundreds, possibly thousands of the buggers.

And, you can't get rid of 'em completely.

Lemme ask you, what is a parasite?

Before you answer that, think carefully. I'll give you my answer in a bit.
Any guesses?

Having now made you thoroughly uncomfortable in your own skin, I turn your attention to the parasites which are a bit larger, which we can see with the naked eye ... sometimes.

The largest parasitic creature I'm aware of is one few people have ever seen in person but many have seen in pictures. It's a good bit larger than an African elephant and reported to be the largest creature to ever live on earth.

I'ma let you wonder about that one for a bit as well.

Turn your attention to one of my favorite radio shows, RadioLab. This episode discusses parasites. One part of the show in particular discusses the hookworm.

In the segment one man claims a hookworm infestation in his gut cured his asthma and allergies. Really?

Check this out.
a major parasite vector.

And when you're done, cast a parasite-surrounded eyeball on this report. Yup. The study is underway.

Since we have already established that you are pretty much nothing more than a giant parasite factory, what would you think of the idea of having a few hookworms in your intestines if it could make you feel better?

If you said no, I bet you do not suffer from crippling allergies or immune system disorders that can kill you extremely painfully.

 Anyway, back to my question. What is a parasite?

Would you say a parasite is a living thing which must feed on other living things to survive? Does the food source HAVE to be alive?

Is a 2-month old fetus a parasite?

So I ask you again, what is a parasite? If a parasite is a living entity which feeds off other life, then the largest parasite I am aware of is the blue whale. It consumes living critters, plankton and small fish, to survive.

Every human I've ever met above the age of two is also a parasite by that definition Disagree? Every eaten raw vegetables? Fruit? Consumed seeds of any kind.

Unless you are capable of photosynthesis of thermalsynthesis, you are a parasite. Life is a circle after all.

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