The podcast sort of began with an interesting audio montage of different people stating, “Your listening to RadioLab from WNYC…” which I thought was kinda cool. It then went into “a cinematic history of parasites” noting the movie Alien where the parasitic alien had popped out of that dudes chest. Audio from Alien was inserted into the background while the commentators gave the play by play of that scene. That was one way to get the audience into that “Parasitic” sort of mood, I guess… then…

They started talking to Carl Lemmer, a science writer, who argues that parasites are not necessarily “degenerates” as is said to be a common belief. Carl made the connection that parasites basically live off other things which is really no different than we humans do. When I thought about that I thought mainly of how government and socioeconomic classes are basically set up so each higher class more or less leaches off those below them. I mean, the insanely rich (Rockefeller’s and such) basically survive by controlling and leeching off everyone, which is done through our government officials (Obama, Romney, etc…), sort of a class just below them. Then below them is a class that feeds government and such by way of various taxes, fees, and other revenues paid (Corporate America/the Business Class); this class also feeds off the class below them in that they own and/or operate the businesses that sell goods and services to those below them (the Lower Classes)… and so on and so forth. The whole scheme is far to complex to really detail here, but yeah, humans basically live (or feed) off other humans as well as everything else they can possibly use to get by with the very lowest classes grasping at anything they can possibly get ahold of to survive; so yeah… humans are definitely parasitic.

The story then went into some information on the parasitic Wasp, Nematode, Blood Fluke; none of which really seemed to have any redeeming qualities… well… other than the monogamous nature of the Blood Fluke. This seems to be something not too many humans can accomplish. This and the above were both factors I found kind of funny or amusing since my sense of humor is basically rooted in irony and sarcasm.

As for what surprised me or made me think, I was intensely amused at the whole “Rockefeller-Southerner-Toilet” thing relating to the hook worm. Fascinating. Amazing the connections which had to be contemplated to arrive at the relationships between the laziness of southerners of that era and their tendency to go barefoot, their common practices in defecating, those to anemia, and anemia to hookworms, resulting in the creation of outhouses which basically eradicated hook worms in the US. Just goes to show you what CAN be figured out when there’s a ton of money to be made. I can only venture a guess as to who pioneered and marketed the first modern commodes, anyway, pitty that in today’s world there’s generally no money to be made in the solving of problems, but only in the perpetuating of them, for the most part anyway.

Then it was even more surprising to learn how, in contrast to the problem of hookworms, they can also be a benefit to certain circumstances. I certainly never knew hookworms could basically cure allergies and asthma, possibly up to 80 diseases that result from the body’s immune system eliminating organisms which can actually assist in keeping us well. Amazing really. Seems I’ve heard some vague reference to that before but not enough to really catch my interest.

Actually… the entire last portion of the cast relating to hookworms was all pretty fascinating to me. “CAN PARASITES CONTROL BEHAVIOR?” Yeah… that part was pretty interesting too. “Toxoplasma gondii,” a parasite that, in rats, convinces them that they love the smell of cats (against their natural instincts) so they’ll end up lured close to, and thus eaten by the cats, thus return the offspring of the parasite to the cat, it’s ideal environment. Pretty cool. Again, this could relate to the human socioeconomic structure. Like how all the insanely rich and government (the “top dogs” of human parasites) mislead the people to believe terrorism is this huge problem, large enough to convince the populous to give up a substantial number of their civil liberties, when in fact, when you put things into perspective, statistically, more Americans die every year from peanut allergies than from terrorist acts. In the case of the toxoplasma gondii though, what’s even more fascinating, though I didn’t hear it in the podcast, is that this parasite is actually a species of protozoa, a single celled organism. WOW! A single celled organism effecting mind control in species consisting of trillions and trillions of cells, possibly even humans, now that’s fascinating.

Commented on Brian B’s post at: http://www.digital-media-blog.com/courses/spring-2012/cmst-216-digital-media-1/radiolab-notes-parasites.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+digital-media-blog%2FaYsd+%28Digital+Media+Blog%29

Commented on Jeff’s post at: http://jeffduckgrant.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/jeffs-radiolab1-assessment/#comment-26

Commented on Brian S’s post at: http://www.ikaleidoscopedesign.com/?p=619#comment-425

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 17, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Brilliant! Your take on parasites being described as our various “classes” in the hierarchy of things was astute and entertaining. I would have a hard time arguing that particular vision. I think you “nailed down” the stories well, however, what did you think about the different sounds, music, and the various dialogues? I found them a bit radio hack myself, but that’s just me.

    • March 23, 2012 at 3:49 am

      About the different sounds? Well, they were definitely put together in a different style than the This American Life pod casts. I saw a lot of people didn’t seem to care for them, and yeah, they were a bit overdone (possibly quite a bit overdone)… a bit out there, but… I liked them. I mean, they weren’t so much used simply to “set the mood” as to make an IMPACT on the listener. You know… kind of slap you in the face in the beginnings of sections and here and there throughout the thing. Seemed to work just fine, I mean, so many people took note of the sound effects and such. I’ve found that in life it seems to be an absolute necessary to kind of “slap people in the face, “metaphorically of course,” before they will even begin to listen to what you say. If you just state things simply so many people just fake some counterfeit expression and make some seemingly quaint sounding reply without ever even trying to absorb a single word that was said.

      Anyway… the assignment stated we didn’t have to cover every single suggested question so I didn’t cover too much on sounds. I mean, their purposes seem pretty self-explanatory to me and I guess I don’t really pay as much attention to them here 5 pod casts down the road (the 1-st 4 being relatively boring for the most part)… I mean, I get it about sound already, but it doesn’t seem so worthy of rambling on about. My time could better be spent doing other things than searching for ways to state the obvious.

      Oh… dialogues? I don’t know… kind of MST3K vs. Crossfire, 2 heads are better than one… I didn’t see anything wrong with them, that’s all I can say.

  2. March 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I really liked the connection you made between the parasites and politicians, economics, and social structure.

  3. March 21, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Mmkay. I agree with the others on your comment towards humans (politicians, econ, various social structures, etc.) and parasites. That had me laughing because it’s true. Humans are quite like parasites themselves whether they think themselves that way or not; let alone admit to it.

    I enjoyed your overall comparisons of parasites to humans in general.
    And yes, a single-celled organism having so much power. It is quite a thing to behold! I agree wholeheartedly that this was quite fascinating.

  4. March 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Nice post. I enjoyed the end hookworm segment just as much as you it seems. I on the otherhand didn’t really like the overplayed ‘radio jack’ (as jeff said) stuff. It did the podcast no justice and just took me out of it. They even had the gall to play cat sounds over someone talking. Really distracting stuff from an interesting podcast.

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