Saturday, August 8, 2009

Microbes "R" Us

In case you missed it, Olivia Judson had a really nice piece in her blog at the NY Times about microbial diversity in the human host and a bit about metagenomics. Paraphrasing Savage: we're outnumbered 10:1. And as a visitor told me last year: "for the bugs in the lumen (of the intestine), they don't know there's a host."

It reminds me of Winston Churchill's story about India, that when the British were packing up to go they decided to survey the countryside to find out people's attitudes about the momentous change. The reports were that many remote villages had not even received the news that the British had arrived! (Can't find the quote now, is it apocryphal?) And while we're on Churchill, apropos of the recent town hall disruptions triggered by health care reform angst, there is this gem:
"the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."