Archive for the ‘Ebola’ Category

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angry smoker


Have you heard the news?

Ebola is on a rampage. An outbreak! It’s setting off alarm bells. The fear mongers are having a field day!

Even the World Health Organization is getting on the bandwagon. It’s now an “international public health emergency.” Due to the marvels of modern day air travel, Ebola has purportedly set its dastardly sights on digs much bigger and more cosmopolitan than just rural West Africa.

But don’t despair. There appears to be a cure.


I’m not joking (actually, I am joking a little).

But it’s true – there’s a component within the much maligned tobacco plant that appears to kick Ebola in it’s germy teeth. A component that’s mysteriously called “plantibodies,” which is, apparently, antibodies derived from plants (oh you clever wordsmithing scientists!).

The treatment, which had been tested only in lab animals before being given to two American medical workers in Liberia, consists of proteins called monoclonal antibodies that bind to and inactivate the Ebola virus.

For decades biotech companies have produced such antibodies by growing genetically engineered mouse cells in enormous metal bioreactors. But in the case of the new Ebola treatment ZMapp, developed by Mapp Pharmaceuticals, the antibodies were produced in tobacco plants at Kentucky Bioprocessing, a unit of tobacco giant Reynolds American.

The tobacco-plant-produced monoclonals have been dubbed “plantibodies.”


That’s all very scientific, but this is not a scientific article. I’m zeroing in on the fact that tobacco might become a life saving medicine!

Imagine it, if you will: smokers, who have been increasingly marginalized in many first world countries over recent decades for a habit that has become about as popular as public defecation, suddenly experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Out of the blue, while lighting up outside the workplace in that lonely little area designated solely for smoking, they are suddenly surrounded by straights looking for a quick fix:

“Hey man – give me a hit off that.”

“No way dude – get outta here.”

“C’mon man, I gotta have it!”

“Dude – do you know how expensive medicine is these days?”

Now, I don’t know if smoking tobacco has this effect against Ebola, but wouldn’t it be a gas if it did? I mean, if an outbreak were really to happen, and something as simple as lighting up would provide bulletproof protection from its hideous effects, wouldn’t that be a cosmic comeuppance for all the prudes in the past that had turned up their noses and screwed up their faces at others for simply lighting up a smoke?

Yes, I know their justifications – those have been repeated ad nauseam over the years. But in every country that hasn’t become as neutered as the U.S. has, one will still find people smoking in public without the PC police raising a cacophony of insult and accusation against them. They are left alone.

And now Ebola may be poised to make smokers out of everyone.

Or not.

And in that post-Ebola, post-apocalyptic world, perhaps only the huffing, hacking, slightly yellow-of-skin smokers will be the ones left standing. Then they can shuffle weakly to their favorite pub, their place of work, the movie theater – anywhere they could never enjoy a smoke before, and light one up in blissful, elemental silence. Smokers of the world UNITE!!

Here’s the news: I am going to sue Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, manufacturers of Pall Mall cigarettes, for a billion bucks! Starting when I was only twelve years old, I have never chain-smoked anything but unfiltered Pall Malls. And for many years now, right one the package, Brown & Williamson have promised to kill me.

But I am eighty-two. Thanks a lot you dirty rats. The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon.

I am, of course, notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

– Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country


the end


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