Monday, February 09, 2004

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Look deeper…deeper.

Now give it a cookie.

This is not a dog, but an alien shapeshifting parasite with appalling powers, including the ability to suck all of your will and judgment completely away and turn you into its souless host that exists only to do its bidding.

We should have drowned him when he was a puppy, while we still could, before he and his powers reached maturity and we became helpless against him. We would probably have been stopped by well meaning fools anyway, like the Americans in John Carpenter’s The Thing, who can’t figure out why a helicopter full of scientists from the neighboring Norwegian Arctic base is trying to shoot down that cute Siberian Husky. After a grenade misfires and destroys the helicopter and its occupants, the Americans take in the poor little ‘dog’ (who they believe is a victim of the Norwegians’ cabin fever induced psychosis) and the gorefest begins. Nobody survives, not even macho stud Kurt Russell.

OK, maybe I’m letting my imagination run away with me here. I’ve been engrossed lately by this fascinating book Elizabeth gave me called Parasite Rex, which is all about the tiny free-loaders of the animal kingdom. It is absolutely riveting. I bet you didn’t know that parasites outnumber free-living species 4 to 1, or that there are parasites that can enslave their hosts through mind control, or that can trick other species into caring and raising the parasites’ young, or make women slutty, or that can eat out the tongue of a fish, latch on, and act as the tongue’s replacement?
My interest in parasites began when I took a zoology class and my professor had such a single-minded passion for parasites that I began to wonder if she wasn’t hosting one herself, in her brain. We spent about 2 classes on vertebrates and the rest on parasites. She would spend most of class recounting grisly but enthralling tales of all of her far flung parasitological studies and adventures. “And one time in Africa we did some exploratory surgery on a boy who couldn’t keep any food down and discovered the reason: he had so many Ascarids writhing around in his intestines that they had created a blockage were preventing food from entering. And actually that proved quite handy because we had run out of Ascarids to dissect in the medical school there and now we had plenty for the students…”
I was attuned enough to know what she wanted, and wrote my term paper on Giardia. I and the other students who wrote about parasites received As, unlike the rest of the class who wrote papers on Chordata.

You know, that is about the cutest puppy face I have ever seen. But I've heard the stories. Makes me know the devil must be beautiful.
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