The Parasite Left

A wonderful historian named William H. McNeill makes a powerful  case for the idea that humans are chewed on by two kinds of parasites: the little ones and the big ones.  Our little parasites go from hair lice and gut worms down to germs and viruses.  Our biggest parasite -- ever since we learned to fend off grizzly bears and rattlesnakes -- is each other. When you think about it that way, most societies seem to be heavily parasitized by their ruling classes.  Or do you really think that Saddam Hussein needed those 42 palaces?   Along with a million horrors, the HIV epidemic brought a deeper medical understanding of retroviruses, clever nano machines that drill molecular holes into living cells.  From there they drift through the cell to the control room, the nuclear DNA, and take it over to make a zillion copies of themselves, often killing the host. Retroviruses are like a speedboat full of grinning Somali pirates who go careering hundreds of miles...(Read Full Article)