One Health, Science and the Art of Meddling

“Good Lord,” I said, “one needn’t stop being a bacteriologist just because one takes an intelligent interest in other things. Here in America we seem to expect a specialist to become a sort of Taylorized factory worker. Why should one look at the world through only one knot-hole?”

“Oh, look though a dozen or climb up and look over the fence if you like. But keep still about things you’re not trained to handle. Biography is a job for an artist. Stick your head out of your laboratory window and watch the world go by. But if you want to write, pull it in again and write for the Journal of Experimental Medicine. You’ll only end, if you keep this up, by losing what little reputation you’ve got.”

Hans Zinsser
Rats, Lice and History
1934

There is an assumption among specialists that outsiders have nothing to offer. This may stem from insecurity, frustration from dealing with outsiders or both. Either way, there is a harmful effect. A formation of a hierarchy of science based on funding and notoriety. This is largely due to the increasing division between different fields which sometimes see other fields as competition. The other is an inability or unwillingness of people working in scientific fields to make that science applicable to non-scientists. This is because the driving force behind their work does not make that necessary, and in fact there may be some harm in making these ideas plain as it would devalue the unique skills that they have acquired.

Einstein once said that “Anyone can explain complicated ideas in complicated ways. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

This seems to be the opposite sentiment I get when talking to many people working in science. It’s almost like a cock measuring contest listening to them flex their jargon to make themselves feel important. But what exactly is the end game? Are we trying to jockey for position or compete for career status or grant money? Of maybe it’s something more basic. Maybe the sense of community we find in our field isolates us in our jargon and it becomes second nature. Maybe we don’t realize that it’s jargon in common conversation. Maybe, but I doubt it.

There are several fields in recent years that are trying to break down some of these boundaries. Conservation medicine has been a term in use for a several decades as a field that tries to bring together the idea of environmental conservation efforts with the efforts to preserve public health. The newest term to accomplish a similar goal is the term One Health. This is an initiative to incorporate human medicine, veterinary medicine, and environmental welfare to achieve a better understanding of the effects of ecosystems on public health.

Even though this idea is popular now, it seems to be difficult to find instances when this is functionally happening. One will commonly hear of different departments within the same University working on the same project with almost no communication or collaboration. The need to own a project is greater than the need to complete a project, or for that project to mean anything.

Maybe this is all due to the competitive nature of science. It is fierce, competitive and it needs to be dry. We can pontificate on the implications after retirement, but right now we need to buckle down. But what are we losing when we mechanize people and their experiences. What gets lost in a medical record in an attempt to make it succinct for transferring patients. How is the personal experience and interpretation lost? Can  avenues be created for these experiences to be conveyed in a manner that is rewarding for the people participating in the project and society as a whole?

I want to see something akin to Gonzo journalism take place in the scientific community. I wanna see more scientists making the leap into expressing their creativity, not only through their projects, but through expressing their subjective interpretations of their projects. Not after the fact, as a bullshit dramatized memoir, but as a delving into the personal journey and psyche of that project that will always evade statistical analysis. Something that transcends the discussion portion of a journal article, but expresses the person’s true insights and aspirations from the project. Also they should take more drugs and stop being such squares.

This article written under the influence of Eagle-Monk IPA

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The Decussation of Epistemology (and other 10 dollar words assholes use at parties)

Some things are hard to know. But even harder is knowing how we know them.

Yes, many a stoned riffs were had on this topic… and now… a drunken one.

Knowing things probably started around 600 million years ago when, through a process of random selection based on environmental conditions, a thing was known. It probably was something pretty basic, like “ouch.” In fact, evolution is so slow, there were probably shitloads of organisms just thinking “ouch” for like a million years. Then it was probably something like “yummy” and another million years of just “ouch” and “yummy.” You get the picture. And so on until now with frat boys and jet engines and the likes.

But when did we know enough things to question what we know, or think “Boy, I am really knowing this thing now.” That’s a more difficult question, but it probably dates back to Rene Descartes in the 1600’s. His name was pronounced “Rinay Daycart”, but he probably went by a cool nick name like “Method Man Ray-Nay” or “Cartmaster Supreme” or something similar. Many people before him were wondering about thinking shit, but their moves were weak, and lacked any structure or method. He started structuring methodological ways of inquiring that lead to less time-wasting and a more productive work place. Thanks for that Ray-Nay!

Then this dude named Karl Popper came along and blew everyones mind by saying that we actually don’t know shit. He said it was impossible to know anything, and all we can rely on is degrees of certainty based on proving things false. The so called hard sciences came out of this tradition and they often get a big dick about how real their process is, while forgetting that the greatest achievements of the last century were not the products of knocking down null hypothesis, but extrapolating mathematical concepts through theoretical process which could not be disproved, (relativity, quantum mechanics etc…)

So they defined processes and tried to identify limits and structure for the knowing of things, but the anatomy of the process lay mostly undiscovered until the advent of neuroscience.

Now we know about nerves and brains.

The central nervous system is a complicated and beautiful beast. On one end you have the brain… coordinating, scheming, …dreaming, and on the other end you have your skin, eyes, ears, and important organs, receiving commands,  touching and tasting things, staring…

While it can get complicated, the basics are pretty simple. You got several centers of the brain that shoot off bundles of nerves. The ones that give us the sensation explosion of a netflix marathon set to Baltika Grade 9 russian malt liquor, and the parasympathetic bathroom time that follows are called cranial nerves. These mostly supply your noggin senses, but some of them help maintenence. Vagal tone is refering to the 10th cranial nerve which is always providing muscles with stimulation and also helps your other automated things you don’t think about like shovin blood around your body and breathing. Each of these bundles has strands of neurons going to the brain (afferent) and those going away (efferent).

The rest of the nerves come out of the spinal column and supply your muscles with motor direction. These are also split up as they travel down the spinal column into incoming and outgoing streams, which criss-cross just to fuck with those studying it. There can be no other reason. This criss-crossing is called decussating and it’s why a tumor or damage to the left side of your brain can cause paralysis or neuropathy in the opposite side of your body. If I see someone with a droopy left side of their face, I can suspect that cranial nerve VII is probably affected at the level of the pons on the right side of the brainstem.

While the brain serves out all these signals to make the body work, it also gets to knowing some shit. And this shit is centralized in the different lobes of our brain mediated by nerve cells. These cells all keep their bodies toward the outside of the brain in stuff called “grey matter” and they send their axons into the center of the brain to decussate and form complex networks in the “white matter” of the brain. Nerves fire on other nerves causing them to depolarize or re-polarize with different chemical mediators creating a complicated network of signals that form thoughts. Different thoughts and emotions can be localized to certain lobes of the brain.

So we’ve come a long way in the development of knowing things, from ouchie and yummie to the ideas like “lets build a laser tag arena,” and “lets go do sports in a laser tag arena.” And with this new knowledge, who knows what we are capable of? And how do they know it? I guess we’ll never know.

This post written under the influence of Jameson Gold Reserve

 

 

First Year Roundup

Most people know that medical doctors are geniuses with a uniquely advanced understanding of whats going on in the gooey insides of living things. But how did they get that way? Did they really all start out as stupid as me? Well I thought it might be nice to put things in perspective with a stream of consciousness, drunken rant on my first year takeaways. I thought I would start with a common question, and then explain my understanding, with what little education I have now. I’ll look back on it when I am a certified genius and laugh or cry or something. So here we go.

  • Question: My dog has diarrhea. WTF?
    • Answer: First off – what is the make, model and year of your dog? I am going to assume it’s a pit bull/mix about 2 years old. Is it current on it’s vaccines? If not, then fuck off. If yes, then continue reading. What is the color of the diarrhea? Is it dark or light and mucous like? If dark, your dog has some intestinal bleeding. If there is red in the shit, it is probably a problem of the colon. Darker means farther up the digestive tract. I need to look at your dogs poo. Can you bring it to me? It could be indigestion because it is a dumb 2 year old pit bull that eats whatever it can fit into it’s mouth, but it could also be parasites.
  • Question: Do ants get cancer?
    • Answer: Cancer is a result of out of control cellular reproduction that causes pathology. This comes from mutations in the DNA due to environmental harm. Sunlight, DOW chemical, flint water, etc. The longer an organism lives, the more the DNA of that organism is subjected to strikes by environmental conditions. Humans live far too long and get cancer all the time. But ants live pretty long too. A black garden ant can live 15 years, and as a result of this long lifespan, and the amount of Monsanto greatness we have bestowed upon them, they do actually get cancer. In fact the leading causes of ant death are cancer and amplified sunlight exposure due to human adolescent boredom.
  • Question: How often do dogs go into heat?
    • Answer: Look, these are the basic facts that seem unimportant during vet school, but are probably really important after. I do know that dogs have a zonary placenta, and I am familiar with the histology of that placenta, and the ways it is able to bear litters. But that is not very interesting or useful to your question. My understanding is that a dog and cat heat cycle is rather eratic and can sometimes happen and sometimes not, but generally it is 1 or two times per year. Look, just get your dog spayed and you won’t have to worry about this shit.
  • Question: Are horses just dogs for rich people?
    • Answer: Yes.
  • Question: How do veterinarians consolidate their oath and ethics while working with the meat and dairy industry as well normalizing lab animal cruelty?
    • Answer: We tell ourselves the same thing that hippies that joined the democratic party told themselves in the 70s. The best way to change things is from the inside. Work within the system man! Of course any rational human would recognize that this completely ignores the power dynamics at play, and simply solidifies and normalizes an unsustainable industry, but student loans need to be repaid, so we put that oath on the back burner. We are sorry, but we are not the problem. Capitalism is.
  • Question: Woah, you’re gunna be a vet? They make bank! I had to take my cat in and it was like a hundred bucks! I was like, fuck that!
    • Answer: Yes, I hope I can someday join a profession, where I can finish a days work with a clean conscience. But the more I interact with any profession, the more I feel like it is equally impossible to do this in any profession so long as we exist under a capitalist economy based on profit motive. Vets have the highest debt to income ratio. The schooling is irrationally priced based on what they make. The average veterinarian makes less than 90,000 per year and has around 200,000 dollars of debt. The average equine veterinarian makes around 45,000 per year, which puts them under the poverty line if they are raising a family. So, if your vet is trying to up the prices, and seems a little pissed, it’s not because they are a bad person (what person that devotes their lives to taking care of animals could be?), it’s because they have been fucked by every facet of capitalism, just like you. Let’s not blame each other. Lets blame Trump.
  • What if a pistachio were to remain intragnizent? 
    • Answer: It is clear, from the context, what you mean. Should a pistachio provide a tempting opening which is still to small for your well trimmed, but still somehow very filthy thumbnail to fit into, please dispose of the roasted and salted, delicious treat. It is always more trouble that it is worth.

This post was written under the influence of Founders Centennial IPA. 

Gender and Race Issues in the Veterinary Profession – (A Drunken Mansplanation of THE Most Pervasive Issue of Our Time)

IMG_1280

In this era, at this moment, things are pretty fucked. Not like Thomas Jefferson era fucked, but pretty fucked. Like differently fucked. Allow me to mansplain.

Women are paid less than men in virtually every industry, across the board, even industries where they dominate such as the field of veterinary medicine. 55% of all veterinarians are female, and they are paid far less than their male counterparts for equal work.

Now let me get intersectional here. Drunkenly intersectional. Veterinary medicine is also the “whitest” profession in the U.S., with 97.3 percent of veterinarians being white. Not even the type of white where you are like “white-hispanic” or ambigious, just straight up white. Like pasty, crusty, white people.

So we have two questions we need to ask ourselves. Why does gender inequality persist to this extent? Why do professions that are increasingly accessible to women, still remain inaccessible to people of color?

Answering these without invoking historical materialism rife with economic reductionism and eurocentrism has proven fruitless. So lets use all those things that spellcheck still doesn’t recognize as real!

mymarxistfeministdialectic

Historical materialism first! What’s historical materialism? Imagine if history wasn’t a bunch of random events, but there were historical causes for current issues. And maybe those issues need a systemic analysis of their causes in order to fully resolve them. Then you would be thinking along the lines of a handsome bearded marxist known as Karl Marx, who famously claimed that he was “not a marxist.” He clearly was. He was the first of many. And he was pretty good at it.

So what is the historical cause, and how might it be resolved? Lets start with women’s inequality. Marx and Engels laid out a pretty compelling economic explanation of why women have their current economic status. It started with how industrialization came about. Engels proposed that during the hunting and gathering phase of human evolution, men assumed the role of hunting just because gathering was pretty boring. Also, human babies are the shittiest about being left on their own. They just lay there dying. They need milk and such for a good long while.

As this became replaced by agriculture, men had an economic privilege because they could owned animals, while owning carrots and sticks and stuff was weak as fuck. So women remained tasked with raising the next generation of humans. And as property became a thing, they became deprived of, and in many cases even deemed as, property. In other cultures that devalued property and had collective ownership, including some native american tribes, this gender inequality did not exist.

But what about race? Are you really asking that question? Dude, seriously, just google Trayvon Martin & Emmett Till. I’ll do it for you. Just click here.

So why do women have access to so many things that women of color are deprived of? And why does economic inequality persist today in the absence of hunting and gathering? Well, there are some reasons for that as well. The first wave of feminism was predominantly wealthy white women. They wanted the right to vote, but they thought this would be more difficult if they joined forces with the civil rights movement of the day, which was less popular with those in power. Susan B. Anthony, even though she was against slavery, opposed the 15th amendment, and campaigned with outspoken racists like Stanton, who called black people Sambos.

“I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman,”

-Susan B. Anthony

This put white women first, and caused a chasm between the two movements, in a classic divide and conquer move that ensures white men’s status. Rich, crusty white men, riddled with phlebitis.

The second wave of feminism came in the 60s and was largely separatist. Angela Davis was a seminal part of this movement, and wrote a marxist analysis of the roots and continued oppression of women of color “Women, Race and Class”. She used some economic reductionism to argue that a solution could be found by paying women for their unpaid labor in the household.

But modern marxist feminists in the third wave have put forward a different social theory. Social reproduction theory argues that women’s continued oppression will never resolve as long as the burden for raising children is placed solely on their shoulders. As capitalism expands and tries to find new sources of profit, it seeks to externalize as many costs as possible. Until relatively recently, industries were expected to pay a large amount of tax, so that we could take care of the next generation of young people. The understanding was that these people would be used by the industry to generate more profit. But recently this cost has been shifted onto women. The cost of raising the next generation of workers is put on parents, and even the education to train them for their prospective jobs is externalized. Entitled companies expect trained, grown individuals to be delivered to them without paying for any aspect of the process. The cost is placed solely on females.

Women are no longer concretely constrained, but their inequality will never be resolved in a neoliberal economy. Without full access to abortion, reproductive care, full paid maternity leave, and federally funded day care facilities, there will never be full equality. And female veterinarians will never earn the same as their male counterparts.

The reason that people of color are underrepresented in veterinary medicine shares similar economic roots. Their continued disenfranchisement at every level is built on a history of racial oppression, which has led to the current economic inequality we see between races today. As schools in poor neighborhoods are being closed, and people of color reside in poor neighborhoods for historically obvious reasons, it is no wonder that their representation in the sciences is low, especially in a profession such as veterinary medicine which does not offer any promise of social mobility due to low average salaries and high amounts of debt.

So there is common cause for both of these issues to be taken on in concert, but there is still much disagreement on the goal. It is much easier to reduce both problems to ignorant racism and sexism, which can seem unrelated, but they are symptoms of something deeper. If veterinarians actually want to diversify their profession and decrease the gender wage gap, they need to take on broader issues of systemic social inequality. But that might be hard.

Consider this issue mansplained.

This post written under the influence of Delta Porter by a middle class cis gendered white male who has never had to worry about much and has a degree in sociology for some reason. 

 

Renal Clearance of 12 Year Old Balvenie DoubleWood Single Malt Scotch

scotch

Everyone knows the liver is the main organ that processes alcohol. What this post pre-supposes is… maybe it isn’t?

Follow me on a wonderful trip through my digestive tract with a beautiful and buttery 4 fingers of single malt, scotchy goodness. First I take a small sip. Mmmm. That’s pretty good. Then I take a big ol’ gulp. There it goes now. down into my belly…

The first stop after swallowing is the stomach. The stomach’s main responsibility is grindin shit up and breaking shit down. As part of that it is equipped with a toolbox for disassembling the complex menagerie that finds it’s way down our pie holes. One of those tools is Alcohol Dehydrogenase, the sole tool that keeps us alive when we boozin. When it gets into the stomach, some of the ethanol gets broken down by this. If you take a drug like aspirin that blocks H2 receptors, it will inhibit the activity of this tool, resulting in more ethanol in the blood. No aspirin or antacids while drinking. Let the stomach help out your liver, cause lord knows it could use all the help it could get. About 20% of the ethanol can get absorbed in the stomach and enters the bloodstream.

Next stop after the stomach is the small intestine via a space known as the pyloris. The small intestine is the space that transfers all the things you eat into the bloodstream. The other 80 percent of the ethanol gets absorbed here.

At this point, all the ethanol is in the veins of the bloodstream. The first stop for all this blood, as the heart pushes it around your shlubby body, is the liver via the portal vein. I covered the liver extensively in another post, so I won’t go into that here too much, but say that if you have one drink per hour, the liver can use some tricky shit to break down all the booze you take in. But for this post, we will assume you like to drink, and don’t take it like medicine but like a lifeforce that enables you to escape your shitty life, at least for a while.

So you drink 4 delicious fingers of scotch followed by 4 delicious fingers of scotch. First pass through your liver doesn’t get all the booze out, so what it doesn’t catch is passed on to your heart. From here it gets passed into your lungs. This is where the pigs get ya with their fancy breathalizer contraptions, god bless em’. After some leaves through the lungs, it goes back to the heart and pumped out into what is known as “systemic circulation” which sends it out into every cell in your body.

Ethanol, being a tiny and beautiful and delicious molecule, has no trouble passing your blood brain barrier once this happens. In fact, if you drink antifreeze (which is quite yummy I hear) they treat you can counter the toxicity by drinking pure ethanol because ethanol more readily gets into your brain and outcompetes the binding of the toxic agents of antifreeze.

That’s why I always say:
liquor before antifreeze,
your going to be in the morgue and freeze,
antifreeze before liquor,
never been sicker.

Because you will still be quite sick after the experience. This little rhyme has helped me out of more than one incident.

So what the hell do the kidneys have to do with all this nonsense? Well the final destination for all blood is through the kidneys. The kidneys are definitively the strangest organ in the body. Their job is to filter all the fluid and nutrients out of the blood, then to reabsorb everything that it thinks it needs. How does that work?

Blood enters a capillary bed known as the glomerulus. Here, fluid is removed from the blood at around 125ml/min. Everything that is small enough to pass through into the bulb surrounding the capillaries, usually follows the concentration gradient through to another structure known as the “Bowmans Capsule.” The blood flow through the kidneys is adjusted by the dilation and constriction of vessels around the capillary bed to adjust for increased heart rate and ensure that the filtration is constant. As it enters the bowman’s capsule, it goes through a series of tubes known as the “loop of henley.” It’s probably named after someone, but I refuse to capitalize such a silly sounding structure. Once in here, water and sodium are reabsorbed at different spots on the “loop” to ensure a proper balance of hydration remains in the body. This whole contraption of back and forth is reproduced thousands of times in the kidney and the structure is collectively known as the “Nephron”

The health of a kidney is detemined by the rate at which you are filtering your blood and the rate at which things that should get excreted are not getting reabsorbed. The most common values people look at is Createnine and BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) in the blood. Createnine should get completely excreted (leave in the urine).

People who get kidney failure have trouble here, because these tubules break down and proteins that get into the urine increase the breakdown of these tubules, leading to increased protein concentration in urine, and the increased excretion of water as a result.

So I just drunkenly read what I just wrote and it didn’t make much sense, but I am not rewriting it. Fuck off. The real question here is what is ethanol doing as it passes through the glomerulus (which is a totally badass name for a metal band).

So the little shitty alcohol molecules are going through your kidney. And the kidney filters them just like water (125ml/min), but cause it’s a polar molecule, and the loop of henley nonsense, it gets almost completely reabsorbed. So the blood alcohol content is actually identical to the urine alcohol content, because the percentages are treated the same as that of water.

So if you are dehydrated, and drink alcohol, you will get extra fucked cause it will all get reabsorbed with the water and stay in your blood stream. That’s why I never drive while I am dehydrated.

All this was based off a single article written in 1968 by Blackmore and Mason, two renowned liars.

This article written under the influence of 8 fingers of 12 year old single malt Balvenie Doublewood Scotch Whisky.

Equine Laminitis – A Revolutionary Restructuring of the Current Paradigm w/ Colt 45

  “Father, father,” he cried, “father, what are they doing? Father, they are beating the poor horse!”

“Come along, come along!” said his father. “They are drunken and foolish, they are in fun; come away, don’t look!” and he tried to draw him away, but he tore himself away from his hand, and, beside himself with horror, ran to the horse. The poor beast was in a bad way. She was gasping, standing still, then tugging again and almost falling.

“Beat her to death,” cried Mikolka, “it’s come to that. I’ll do for her!”
“What are you about, are you a Christian, you devil?” shouted an old man in the crowd.
“Did any one ever see the like? A wretched nag like that pulling such a cartload,” said another.
“You’ll kill her,” shouted the third.
“Don’t meddle! It’s my property, I’ll do what I choose. Get in, more of you! Get in, all of you! I will have her go at a gallop!…”
All at once laughter broke into a roar and covered everything: the mare, roused by the shower of blows, began feebly kicking. Even the old man could not help smiling. To think of a wretched little beast like that trying to kick!
Two lads in the crowd snatched up whips and ran to the mare to beat her about the ribs. One ran each side.
“Hit her in the face, in the eyes, in the eyes,” cried Mikolka.
“Give us a song, mates,” shouted some one in the cart and every one in the cart joined in a riotous song, jingling a tambourine and whistling. The woman went on cracking nuts and laughing.
… He ran beside the mare, ran in front of her, saw her being whipped across the eyes, right in the eyes! He was crying, he felt choking, his tears were streaming. One of the men gave him a cut with the whip across the face, he did not feel it. Wringing his hands and screaming, he rushed up to the grey-headed old man with the grey beard, who was shaking his head in disapproval. One woman seized him by the hand and would have taken him away, but he tore himself from her and ran back to the mare. She was almost at the last gasp, but began kicking once more.
“I’ll teach you to kick,” Mikolka shouted ferociously. He threw down the whip, bent forward and picked up from the bottom of the cart a long, thick shaft, he took hold of one end with both hands and with an effort brandished it over the mare.
“He’ll crush her,” was shouted round him. “He’ll kill her!”
“It’s my property,” shouted Mikolka and brought the shaft down with a swinging blow. There was a sound of a heavy thud.
“Thrash her, thrash her! Why have you stopped?” shouted voices in the crowd.
And Mikolka swung the shaft a second time and it fell a second time on the spine of the luckless mare. She sank back on her haunches, but lurched forward and tugged forward with all her force, tugged first on one side and then on the other, trying to move the cart. But the six whips were attacking her in all directions, and the shaft was raised again and fell upon her a third time, then a fourth, with heavy measured blows. Mikolka was in a fury that he could not kill her at one blow.
“She’s a tough one,” was shouted in the crowd.
“She’ll fall in a minute, mates, there will soon be an end of her,” said an admiring spectator in the crowd.
“Fetch an axe to her! Finish her off,” shouted a third.
“I’ll show you! Stand off,” Mikolka screamed frantically; he threw down the shaft, stooped down in the cart and picked up an iron crowbar. “Look out,” he shouted, and with all his might he dealt a stunning blow at the poor mare. The blow fell; the mare staggered, sank back, tried to pull, but the bar fell again with a swinging blow on her back and she fell on the ground like a log.
“Finish her off,” shouted Mikolka and he leapt, beside himself, out of the car. Several young men, also flushed with drink, seized anything they could come across—whips, sticks, poles, and ran to the dying mare. Mikolka stood on one side and began dealing random blows with the crowbar. The mare stretched out her head, drew a long breath and died.
“You butchered her,” some one shouted in the crowd.
“Why wouldn’t she gallop then?”
“My property!” shouted Mikolka, with bloodshot eyes, brandishing the bar in his hands. He stood as though regretting that he had nothing more to beat.
“No mistake about it, you are not a Christian,” many voices were shouting in the crowd.
But the poor boy, beside himself, made his way screaming, through the crowd to the sorrel nag, put his arms round her bleeding dead head and kissed it, kissed the eyes and kissed the lips.… Then he jumped up and flew in a frenzy with his little fists out at Mikolka. At that instant his father who had been running after him, snatched him up and carried him out of the crowd.
“Come along, come! Let us go home,” he said to him.
“Father! Why did they … kill … the poor horse!” he sobbed, but his voice broke and the words came in shrieks from his panting chest.

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky
(Crime & Punishment – 1866)

NETFLIX, INC. BOJACK HORSEMAN

Alright, that was a dark way to start a post, I know. I have never been particularly fond of horses (dogs for rich people), but they have always been beasts of burden and as far as agriculture goes, a source of property. Since their abuse for labor has been replaced by machines, they have actually become more of a hobby animal. But still, what we do to them is pretty fucked up.

The earliest horse shoes date back to 400 BC, and since then it has been relatively unchallenged and common knowledge that horses walk on their toenails. And so with the advent of hard stone surfaces, they need strengthening of those nails.

But do they walk on their toe nails? If they do, equines are the only mammal we know of (besides ballerinas) capable of this task, and the nail is structurally extremely insufficient for an animal of this size, even on soft ground.

One recent theory is that the hoof of the horse was never meant to be a weight bearing structure, and if that’s true we have been torturing horses for the past 2400 years, way longer than those tortured by those 5 finger running shoes.

This theory is relatively convincing when looking at the histology and growth of the horse nail. It is popularly thought that the horse nail grows out from a nail bed (the coronet) toward the top of the first joint. But horses would not be able to develop a proper hoof early enough after birth if this were the case. Instead, it is suggested that it grows out from the pad of the hoof called the “frog.” The tubules that travel down from the coronet actually originate from the frog out, not from the coronet down. This suggests that the purpose of the hoof is to absorb pressure from the weight being born on the heel. When people put shoes on horses, or improperly trim their hooves , they remove the weight from the pad of the hoof and put it all on the really small area of the nail. The nail separates from the nail bed over time, and causes inflammation and extreme pain.
hoofs

So if this is right, then we are torturing horses no less today than Mikolka did in Fyodor’s wild tales. Well not “us,” but rich people who can afford horses.

This post was written under the influence of Colt 45 (Win a Party with Billy Dee!)

Vaginas & Vienna Lager

IMG_1093Public education in the United States is among the shittiest of all countries when it comes to sex education. Especially horse sex. I didn’t learn shit about horse sex in grade school OR high school and that’s pretty shameful. I had to learn from the tragedies in Enumclaw. Also, little to nothing about human sex sept it’s nasty. That’s why I didn’t have any in high school. Yes. That’s why… nasty!

So, what the fuck is sex? I mean, lots of people do it without thinking, but lets get histological about what’s going on down there. Why do my balls hurt sometimes? Why do they shrink when I’m cold? Dafuq is estrus? Dafuq is leutenizing hormone? When does a sex become determined, and who should choose what bathroom you should go into? Who has access to the coolest placentas on earth? No, we didn’t learn any of this shit. But now we will.

First let us start with gender differentiation. It is popular in social science to distinguish sex from gender to try to refrain from asking questions about the function of sexual intercourse in a self aware population. Gender can be fluid and determined by life choices, but sex is determined by chromosomes. This creates a problematic nature versus nurture argument in gender identity.

Veterinary medicine does not have that distinction. Sexuality is synonymous with gender. Animals are not subjected to external sexual pressures, so you see the spectrum of gender differentiation play out in animals without the social commentary or social reflection. People place their own gender paradigms on their pets, but pets don’t give a fuck.

“Why did you put a pink bandage on my dog, it’s a boy dog! And did you just call sheila HIM? I want to talk to your manager!!!” Guess what, your dog is not racist or sexist or homophobic, and doesn’t give a shit what color bandage we put on it, or what gender we associate it with. That’s all you.

So how does the gender spectrum play out in animals? This is not a loaded question I swear. The answer is the same as it should be in humans “Who gives a fuck?” That is the answer.

Is your dog humping other dogs of the same gender?

Who gives a fuck?

Is your dog pissing in the same spot another gendered dog pissed?

Who gives a fuck?

Is your dog fond of that certain color toy you bought for your other dog?

Who gives a fuck?

Nobody gives a fuck because it does not matter. Realistically, it shouldn’t for humans either, but this is where we are. Gender is very important, and the reflection on those identities is even more important.

So, from this distant lens, when is “sex” determined?

All fetuses start out the same. They have a mesonephric (Wolffian) duct and a paramesonephric (Mullerian) duct which run close to two gonads in the abdomen. They are capable of developing into either gender. The determining factor has to do with genetics at inception and hormone development.

gonads

Everyone has probably heard that there is probably some XY, XX thing, and that “Hey, there it is, you are one or the other.” That is bullshit. Here’s the truth. All fetuses are default female. The expression of the Y chromosome (which is, by the way, scienctifically the shittiest chromosome) determines what happens to the gonads. So this Y chromosome gets expressed, sometimes a little bit (me), sometimes a lot (my big strong brothers), but the fact is that it gets expressed differently, and those differences change with development.

It’s true, I finally got my balls, some would say too late, but the necessary hormones produced themselves in the correct amounts, that my ovaries descended through my inguinal canal and produced an organ that can do some serious urine aiming, but the girth has something to be desired.

So, there was enough expression of the Y chromosome to produce Sertoli cells, which degenerate the Mullerian ducts, and Leydig cells, which secrete testosterone. But the amount of female organ suppression is not always the same. Testosterone varies wildly between the ball bearing and the ovary bearing alike. There are many females that produce way more testosterone than me, but did not produce enough Sertoli cells to degenerate their Mullerian ducts and so their balls are still way up in their shit. And that is truely fucked.

So let’s assume the gonads made their decision. “I wanna hang back and kick it in the abdomen with this felopian tube lookin thing”, or “I wanna get the fuck outa here and the inguinal canal looks like the chicken shit way out.” What is the difference and how does it change things? And how do horse dicks work?

Lets get down to brass tacks. Balls are ovaries that chose a different path. Enough hormones were secreted to allow the degradation of the paramesonephric duct and allow the balls to descend into the scrotum though the deep inguinal ring. The penis is a byproduct of this differentiation. And the horse penis is a fucked up by-product of this differentiation. The stallion has a huge penis that can tuck up pretty good. Because it’s a telescoping penis that retracts in multiple pre-pucial folds. This can lead to people underestimating the ass cleaving capacity of this organ. Remember, they are as long as they need to be, so don’t you dare.

horsedick

Balls make semen, and semen needs to be kept at a certain temp. It’s fickle as fuck. And it makes a fuck-ton of semen, because they are shitty survivors. The testicle produces a ton of semen and this leaves the testicle in a single duct called the epididymis. This single duct winds out of one end of the testicle and coils in all sorts of directions to the other pole of the testicle “The tail of the epididymums” where it waits for ejaculation. And when they are just hanging, waiting to fuck shit up, they wanna chill. If it’s too hot, then you have a muscle called the cremaster muscle which relaxes in heat to cool down your shitty balls. When it’s cold as fuck, that shit tightens like mofo and pulls your balls all cuddly.

When you are jerking off and crying alone while drunk, sperm leaves the tail of the epididymis travels though the inguinal canal into the abdomen and passes through the prostate, which surrounds the bladder and empties into the urethra. It then gets pushed into the waiting Kleenex, which is probably already soaked with lonely tears.

But what about the ovaries? What about when that shitty Y chromosome doesn’t fuck everything up?

Once ovaries are developed, they have around 750,000 eggs in them. That’s all they get. The end. The eggs are cells in the ovaries that have the opportunity to develop into oocytes. These are the eggs that the sperm you wasted on that teary Kleenex are waiting for. But unlike your sperm, which flies in every direction all over the walls and everything, the oocytes are selected and ejected with patient and regular cycles. They first compete within the ovaries. At any time within the ovary, there are many follicles (potential eggs) in varying stages of development.

The pituitary gland up in your noggin  produces a couple hormones that regulate these developing stages. The first is follicle stimulating hormone which pushes the follicles along their stages, and the second is Luteinizing hormone which stimulates ovulation and the formation of corpus luteum, which is the end game. This is not like the testies, where there are tons of soldiers. This is 5 or 6 oocytes waiting to develop and one gets ejected each cycle.

Once the egg gets ejected it gets caught up by the waiting Fallopian tube which is like a catchers mitt outside the ovary. It’s just waitin. It ushers the oocyte into the tube and into a part of the tube called the isthmus where it can wait for a bit for a sperm to make it through a ripped condom, through the nuvaring and into the cervix, which is the main barrier to foreign material (and believe me it is foreign). Then the sperm is ushered into the tube where it excretes certain ovary piercing substances from the head of the sperm that allows it to enter the genetic material into the oocyte.

That is the reproduction you never learned about. Horse dicks and all. But just remember, reproduction is different than sex, and sometimes sex is different than gender, and in the end, people should use whatever bathroom they feel comfortable in, because pissing needs to happen no matter what. If you think that’s wrong, wait for the next post on renal physiology.

So now we arrive at the most important question of this whole article. The placenta. And who has access to the coolest placentas on earth? The placenta is a formation of nutrient exchange for the developing fetus, which will be discussed in later posts on embryology. But what most of us wonder is who has access to the coolest placentas? The coolest in all the world? Who? Who dafuq?

That would be Dr. Benirschke, the human MD who wrote the textbook on placentas and who worked with the San Diego Zoo to look at the most bitching placentas ever fucking known. It’s so fucking great. Link below.

http://placentation.ucsd.edu/homefs.html

This post written under the influence of Eagle Monk Vienna Lager

Camel Racing – Myths & Facts

robot-on-camel

As a first year vet student I get a lot of questions about camel racing. So I thought I would write a post addressing some of the common misconceptions around, what is widely considered, the most popular spectator sport in the Middle East. Also, FYI all of this information is actually true.

Myth: Camel racing is the most popular spectator sport in the Middle East.

Fact: Camel racing is very popular, but is not the most popular spectator sport in the Middle East. It is very popular though. Very popular.

Myth: Camel racing jockeys are often attained through human trafficking rings.

Fact: Camel jockeys are manufactured in Europe somewhere.

Myth: Velcro is used to fasten children to the camel which then travels at breakneck speeds, often killing the child.

Fact: Child mortality rates for camel racing were quite low, and now are approaching zero since they replaced the use of children with androids in 2005. Sometimes the robotic jockeys “go haywire” and so the child mortality rate is still not “zero”. But it’s pretty close to zero.

Myth: Robotic jockeys don’t work as well as children with Velcro.

Fact: Children are shitty jockeys. Robots controlled by a professional camel trainer, riding beside the camel racing track in an SUV is far superior to whiny fragile brats that bring claims of human rights abuses.

Myth: Robotic jockeys whip and torture camels.

Fact: The latest models of robot jockeys take animal rights concerns into account by replacing their robotic whips with directional speakers capable of projecting the sound of a cracking whip above the head of the camel.

Here is a video of camels racing. Make sure you watch the whole thing. Otherwise it doesn’t make much sense.

This post written under the influence of Black Box Cab Sav.

The Bile Canaliculi w/ Hamms & Wine

“Now, why is the stomach surrounded by the liver? Is it in order that the liver may warm it and it may in turn warm the food? This is indeed the very reason why it is closely clasped by the lobes of the liver, as if by fingers.” — Galen, ca. 200 A.D

Not much got past old Galen, and this is no exception. The liver does indeed surround the stomach. The stomach is where food goes. But what have we learned since Galen schooled the world on the warm gooey tasty organ? Do we still only appreciate the liver for its ability to soothe our food into a warm poo?

I will answer this question through a series of riddles, each more devious and cryptic that the one before. In my experience, that is the best way to explain things.

Riddle # 1
For the love
of thee bovine
I lay in woe
I sip my wine
but when grandpa death
knocks on thy door
tis this organ I abhor.

Explanation # 1 – I bet you thought the riddle has something to do with the liver metabolizing ethanol. Nope. Cows don’t drink alcohol. This riddle is through the viewpoint of a cow and the wine they are sipping is meant to be symbolic. The cow is really depressed because there was a bull that didn’t notice them so the cow was comfort eating some fatty foods and all the fat was metabolized by the liver. The cow got hepatic lipidosis and died. We now know that the liver metabolizes fat, but if it gets too much it sucks at it.

Riddle #2
Fell from over under throws
The caper stones whining to and fro
Through central ducts
The shit goes quick
It’s quick as fuck
But where it goes
we do not know
But now we do
from science books

Explanation #2 – Yea this one is a bit harder I know. Let me break it down. The falling refers to the draining of the veins from the digestive tract. All the blood from the digestive tract empties into the liver through a big vein called the “Portal Vein.” The caper stones it refers to are the oxygenated red blood cells which also empty into the liver through the hepatic artery. The whining to and fro is because they get all mixed when they enter the liver lobules through the hepatic triad. They empty into the central veins at the center of the lobules. It’s not super fast like the riddle, thats just a little embellishing to make it exciting. It goes at normal blood pace. All the science books tell us that stuff.

Riddle #3
From chamber tombs
to emporeress wombs
the fire for
burrito booms
and once duodenal
this fire takes
these chamber wombs
the water breaks
and with this water
flowing free
unwrap burrito
fed to me

Explanation #3 – Alright, I do admit that this one is pretty cryptic. Maybe too cryptic. But encapsulated in this is one of the greatest messages of all. Knowledge. The chamber tombs are just the parenchymal cells of the liver which make up the sinusoids of the lobules. While the sinusoids empty into the central vein like riddle #2 showed us, the cells themselves are connected by emporeress wombs. These are bile canaliculi that connect the cells through tight junctions and allow for the flow of bile to the draining bile duct of the portal triad. The “fire for the burrito booms” is the bile being released to help digest the fatty burrito. That’s why it gets released and unwraps the fat from the burrito by helping dissolve it in the duodenum. This fat forms chylomicrons in the intestinal lumen cells which makes its way into blood and lymph to get distributed through the body.

In summary, we have learned a lot since the days of Galen, but we are still indebted to him for getting the ball rolling and providing the initial insight that showed that the liver is definitely a real must.

This was written under the guidance of Hamms beer and Bota Box Cab Sav.