Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday Mornings With the Microbiologist

So I was sitting on the front porch, Sunday morning, reading the Times, when Marianne said, "It looks like the FBI's theory is that the anthrax murderer posted those letters in order to bring funding and attention to a neglected corner of science."

"Did it work?"

"Oh, yeah!  The Bureau gets a million bucks a year for preparedness now."

Marianne is the Director for the Division of Laboratory Improvement in the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories.  She has a fund of great stories about bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases.

According to the article, there's a Congressman who's convinced that all the anti-bioterrorism facilities the government's been funding have only provided terrorists with potential sources of dangerous materials.

Marianne begs to differ.

"Most of these diseases exist in the wild anyway. Even the rare ones were being kept by microbiologists long before the bioterrorism money came around."

"Yes, I remember the closet you had when I first met you, filled with petri dishes of virulent organisms."

"No biologist can resist. You streak a plate, and you come back to see what the colony looks like after a day. Then after two days. Then after a week. If I'd ever gotten my hands on some Yersinia pestis, the very first thing I would have tucked away a subculture.

"Every microbiologist is a zookeeper at heart."

As Always . . .

. . . I've added a new post to the Poem du Jour.  Also a couple more to Pastor Marcia's Journal.   Pastor Marcia manages to have fun while doing good.  Is there a more subversive concept anywhere?


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