Your Handy Internet Comment Database [UPDATED 2.0]

Your Handy Internet Comment Database [UPDATED 2.0]

We’ve all been there. The Internet comment section stares at us, blinking its sexy open space, inviting us to put words all over it, to tell the world why the silly author of the article is oh so wrong.

Too many tabs with too many problematic articles: The world needs to know why this particular individual is wrong and we know that we could serve this public good with our misspelled words, exclamation marks and CONSTANT CAPITAL LETTERS. There are too many gay, liberal baby-eating aetheists/atheests/whatever out there and they need to learn that Obamacare won’t protect them forever (that’s what it does right? Protect liberal gaytheists?).

To that end, this list can be referred to instead of writing out an entire comment: We won’t stop the scourge of the gay agenda – or is it the socialist? – by wading into one comment section at a time! Sure, we could send emails or write proper arguments or read people charitably – but what effort! Instead, let anger and righteousness reign!

These 4.1 comments are all you need. Simply copy and paste the bold, insert the agenda you’re rightfully attacking and use at your convenience.



Explanation: Why assume others do not know or haven't read the same things as you? That’s ridiculous: of course everyone’s done the necessary reading, had the same amount of exposure to these ideas and articles.

We’ve reached our conclusions, we know what’s right and wrong: either this article is a rehashing of an obviously wrong article or an obviously right one. "Grey areas"? Another feminist liberal buzzword!

Either way, it’s useless to us, therefore it’s useless to everyone – because, as we know, everyone is at the same level of education and at the same level of education on this topic. Otherwise, it’s just boring: no one could possibly find this content – about science or space or politics or economics – possibly interesting therefore yawn, yawn, yawn.

The idea that the world is complicated, that reading updated thoughts, better counter arguments, is good is just madness. It’s simple. We know what the answers are. The New York Times is better off asking us to just put down all our thoughts so that no opinion or news articles ever needs to get written again.



Internet Comment #2 - “WHY ARE YOU SPEAKING ABOUT X AND NOT ABOUT Y (i.e. the thing I care about more)”

Explanation: Sure the “writer” could be focusing on this particular point about this particular subject because that’s where her knowledge and interest lies, but don’t let her interests control you!

That’s oppression!

You must show her that, as a reader person – who’s actually never read her and won’t ever do so again, assuming you went past the title – your interest is actually different and she should use her platform and time to cater to that. Oh, so she’s talking about how women are oppressed? Well why didn’t she talk about how men are oppressed! Oh, she’s talking about how guns are dangerous, well what about all that disease caused by bad living conditions!

Don’t let her expertise or research rule you: It’s called freedom. Show her how it works.

Yes, the topic itself might require her honing in on this area and there might exist other writers actually writing on what you like, but don’t let that stop you. Everyone should be doing what they can to cater to us – otherwise what’s the point of their job? It’s not like other readers have different interests and different levels of knowledge, as we established in Internet Comment #1.



Explanation: As the world’s leading researchers into curing cancer, Aids, poverty and totalitarian oppression, we obviously get tired of reading about silly women whining about their “oppression”, about the gays who want more rights than us normal, proper folk, and manchildren getting upset over other imaginary manchildren (video games and films).

There are more important things to worry about than whether women get attacked or have a few mean words thrown at them online (they probably deserve it: If they didn’t deserve it, they wouldn’t be getting abuse. That’s called logic, feminazis!)

Words never hurt anyone! Do they think they’re living in Harry Potter land: no one’s going to wave a wand and try kill them.

Seriously: there are bigger things to worry about and all articles everywhere must simply focus on those things we’ve earmarked “bigger things”. The idea that we can read many things at the same time or subsequently is just liberal agenda writ large! Don’t tell me that someone who writes criticism of tv-shows can’t do complicated economics problems: both involve writing!



Explanation: If they’re not bothering with communicashin why should you? When we post comments, we make sure every word is perfec and the grammar are write. Yes, they’re human and their going to mak a mistake, but you don’t ever do so in front of us! That’s just embarrassing. So we don’t have to engage with the argument: We can simply point out that one or two words are wrong and leave. We’ve surely bested someone by doing so.

And what’s this made-up language called UK English? “Centre”? “Colour”? Next they’ll probably spell dogs as cats!


Explanation: There’s no need to actually read. As we noted with Internet #1, we know the arguments. We’re commenting to emphasise how wrong this person is. Why do we need to provide reasons? Everyone knows the feminists are just whining, the gays are trying to take our children and rule by Obamacare so they can take Syria back, and so forth.

Some snarky liberaltard might say: It clearly can’t be “everyone” because then feminism/gay rights activism wouldn’t exist. To that we simply say <Insert Comment #1>.


UPDATE NOTE: this list was never actually updated. The title is a liberal lie!


Image Credit: Artfamily / Shutterstock

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COVID and "gain of function" research: should we create monsters to prevent them?

Gain-of-function mutation research may help predict the next pandemic — or, critics argue, cause one.

Credit: Guillermo Legaria via Getty Images

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

"I was intrigued," says Ron Fouchier, in his rich, Dutch-accented English, "in how little things could kill large animals and humans."

It's late evening in Rotterdam as darkness slowly drapes our Skype conversation.

This fascination led the silver-haired virologist to venture into controversial gain-of-function mutation research — work by scientists that adds abilities to pathogens, including experiments that focus on SARS and MERS, the coronavirus cousins of the COVID-19 agent.

If we are to avoid another influenza pandemic, we will need to understand the kinds of flu viruses that could cause it. Gain-of-function mutation research can help us with that, says Fouchier, by telling us what kind of mutations might allow a virus to jump across species or evolve into more virulent strains. It could help us prepare and, in doing so, save lives.

Many of his scientific peers, however, disagree; they say his experiments are not worth the risks they pose to society.

A virus and a firestorm

The Dutch virologist, based at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, caused a firestorm of controversy about a decade ago, when he and Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that they had successfully mutated H5N1, a strain of bird flu, to pass through the air between ferrets, in two separate experiments. Ferrets are considered the best flu models because their respiratory systems react to the flu much like humans.

The mutations that gave the virus its ability to be airborne transmissible are gain-of-function (GOF) mutations. GOF research is when scientists purposefully cause mutations that give viruses new abilities in an attempt to better understand the pathogen. In Fouchier's experiments, they wanted to see if it could be made airborne transmissible so that they could catch potentially dangerous strains early and develop new treatments and vaccines ahead of time.

The problem is: their mutated H5N1 could also cause a pandemic if it ever left the lab. In Science magazine, Fouchier himself called it "probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make."

Just three special traits

Recreated 1918 influenza virionsCredit: Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC / Dr. Terrence Tumpey / Public domain via Wikipedia

For H5N1, Fouchier identified five mutations that could cause three special traits needed to trigger an avian flu to become airborne in mammals. Those traits are (1) the ability to attach to cells of the throat and nose, (2) the ability to survive the colder temperatures found in those places, and (3) the ability to survive in adverse environments.

A minimum of three mutations may be all that's needed for a virus in the wild to make the leap through the air in mammals. If it does, it could spread. Fast.

Fouchier calculates the odds of this happening to be fairly low, for any given virus. Each mutation has the potential to cripple the virus on its own. They need to be perfectly aligned for the flu to jump. But these mutations can — and do — happen.

"In 2013, a new virus popped up in China," says Fouchier. "H7N9."

H7N9 is another kind of avian flu, like H5N1. The CDC considers it the most likely flu strain to cause a pandemic. In the human outbreaks that occurred between 2013 and 2015, it killed a staggering 39% of known cases; if H7N9 were to have all five of the gain-of-function mutations Fouchier had identified in his work with H5N1, it could make COVID-19 look like a kitten in comparison.

H7N9 had three of those mutations in 2013.

Gain-of-function mutation: creating our fears to (possibly) prevent them

Flu viruses are basically eight pieces of RNA wrapped up in a ball. To create the gain-of-function mutations, the research used a DNA template for each piece, called a plasmid. Making a single mutation in the plasmid is easy, Fouchier says, and it's commonly done in genetics labs.

If you insert all eight plasmids into a mammalian cell, they hijack the cell's machinery to create flu virus RNA.

"Now you can start to assemble a new virus particle in that cell," Fouchier says.

One infected cell is enough to grow many new virus particles — from one to a thousand to a million; viruses are replication machines. And because they mutate so readily during their replication, the new viruses have to be checked to make sure it only has the mutations the lab caused.

The virus then goes into the ferrets, passing through them to generate new viruses until, on the 10th generation, it infected ferrets through the air. By analyzing the virus's genes in each generation, they can figure out what exact five mutations lead to H5N1 bird flu being airborne between ferrets.

And, potentially, people.

"This work should never have been done"

The potential for the modified H5N1 strain to cause a human pandemic if it ever slipped out of containment has sparked sharp criticism and no shortage of controversy. Rutgers molecular biologist Richard Ebright summed up the far end of the opposition when he told Science that the research "should never have been done."

"When I first heard about the experiments that make highly pathogenic avian influenza transmissible," says Philip Dormitzer, vice president and chief scientific officer of viral vaccines at Pfizer, "I was interested in the science but concerned about the risks of both the viruses themselves and of the consequences of the reaction to the experiments."

In 2014, in response to researchers' fears and some lab incidents, the federal government imposed a moratorium on all GOF research, freezing the work.

Some scientists believe gain-of-function mutation experiments could be extremely valuable in understanding the potential risks we face from wild influenza strains, but only if they are done right. Dormitzer says that a careful and thoughtful examination of the issue could lead to processes that make gain-of-function mutation research with viruses safer.

But in the meantime, the moratorium stifled some research into influenzas — and coronaviruses.

The National Academy of Science whipped up some new guidelines, and in December of 2017, the call went out: GOF studies could apply to be funded again. A panel formed by Health and Human Services (HHS) would review applications and make the decision of which studies to fund.

As of right now, only Kawaoka and Fouchier's studies have been approved, getting the green light last winter. They are resuming where they left off.

Pandora's locks: how to contain gain-of-function flu

Here's the thing: the work is indeed potentially dangerous. But there are layers upon layers of safety measures at both Fouchier's and Kawaoka's labs.

"You really need to think about it like an onion," says Rebecca Moritz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Moritz is the select agent responsible for Kawaoka's lab. Her job is to ensure that all safety standards are met and that protocols are created and drilled; basically, she's there to prevent viruses from escaping. And this virus has some extra-special considerations.

The specific H5N1 strain Kawaoka's lab uses is on a list called the Federal Select Agent Program. Pathogens on this list need to meet special safety considerations. The GOF experiments have even more stringent guidelines because the research is deemed "dual-use research of concern."

There was debate over whether Fouchier and Kawaoka's work should even be published.

"Dual-use research of concern is legitimate research that could potentially be used for nefarious purposes," Moritz says. At one time, there was debate over whether Fouchier and Kawaoka's work should even be published.

While the insights they found would help scientists, they could also be used to create bioweapons. The papers had to pass through a review by the U.S. National Science Board for Biosecurity, but they were eventually published.

Intentional biowarfare and terrorism aside, the gain-of-function mutation flu must be contained even from accidents. At Wisconsin, that begins with the building itself. The labs are specially designed to be able to contain pathogens (BSL-3 agricultural, for you Inside Baseball types).

They are essentially an airtight cement bunker, negatively pressurized so that air will only flow into the lab in case of any breach — keeping the viruses pushed in. And all air in and out of the lap passes through multiple HEPA filters.

Inside the lab, researchers wear special protective equipment, including respirators. Anyone coming or going into the lab must go through an intricate dance involving stripping and putting on various articles of clothing and passing through showers and decontamination.

And the most dangerous parts of the experiment are performed inside primary containment. For example, a biocontainment cabinet, which acts like an extra high-security box, inside the already highly-secure lab (kind of like the radiation glove box Homer Simpson is working in during the opening credits).

"Many people behind the institution are working to make sure this research can be done safely and securely." — REBECCA MORITZ

The Federal Select Agent program can come and inspect you at any time with no warning, Moritz says. At the bare minimum, the whole thing gets shaken down every three years.

There are numerous potential dangers — a vial of virus gets dropped; a needle prick; a ferret bite — but Moritz is confident that the safety measures and guidelines will prevent any catastrophe.

"The institution and many people behind the institution are working to make sure this research can be done safely and securely," Moritz says.

No human harm has come of the work yet, but the potential for it is real.

"Nature will continue to do this"

They were dead on the beaches.

In the spring of 2014, another type of bird flu, H10N7, swept through the harbor seal population of northern Europe. Starting in Sweden, the virus moved south and west, across Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. It is estimated that 10% of the entire seal population was killed.

The virus's evolution could be tracked through time and space, Fouchier says, as it progressed down the coast. Natural selection pushed through gain-of-function mutations in the seals, similarly to how H5N1 evolved to better jump between ferrets in his lab — his lab which, at the time, was shuttered.

"We did our work in the lab," Fouchier says, with a high level of safety and security. "But the same thing was happening on the beach here in the Netherlands. And so you can tell me to stop doing this research, but nature will continue to do this day in, day out."

Critics argue that the knowledge gained from the experiments is either non-existent or not worth the risk; Fouchier argues that GOF experiments are the only way to learn crucial information on what makes a flu virus a pandemic candidate.

"If these three traits could be caused by hundreds of combinations of five mutations, then that increases the risk of these things happening in nature immensely," Fouchier says.

"With something as crucial as flu, we need to investigate everything that we can," Fouchier says, hoping to find "a new Achilles' heel of the flu that we can use to stop the impact of it."

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Credit: Hà Nguyễn via Unsplash
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