This STI Makes Its Victims Horny Before Killing Them
A Canadian researcher has found a new sexually transmitted infection on the scene that uses mind control to spread to as many unsuspecting victims as possible before turning their guts blue and killing them. Luckily, the highly contagious and resilient virus has only been found to affect crickets.
Shelley Adamo, a researcher at Dalhousie University, says she accidentally found the virus—officially dubbed IIV-6/CrIV—while conducting an unrelated experiment with bearded dragon reptiles and some of the crickets from her lab colony. Not long after the experiment, what Adamo says looked like perfectly healthy female crickets stopped laying eggs. So she sliced one open to figure out what was going on.
“When I opened her up, I was shocked, because usually females are packed with eggs,” Adamo says. “These females had no eggs. Instead, they were packed with fat tissue. Not only that, the fat tissue looked a little odd. It had this iridescent blue sheen to it, so I knew something was really wrong.”
Meet Chikungunya, a Highly Infectious Disease Slated to Hit the American South
In the southern United States, it’s that time of year again: Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and thousands of baby mosquitoes are hatching in your weird uncle’s neglected swimming pool.
But this year there’s a new problem child: Aedes aegypti, otherwise known as the yellow fever mosquito. Typically brown with white markings, this mosquito is a highly aggressive biter, generally found in hot, humid areas like Mexico and Central America, and sometimes the American south. But this year, mosquito control managers were concerned to find a bunch of Aedes aegyptias as far west as southern California, and they’re multiplying quickly. The female of the species lays up to 200 eggs several times a season, just above the water line in containers of standing water.
Aedes aegypti is the perfect vector for a handful of frightening tropical diseases, including yellow fever, West Nile virus, and dengue fever. But they’re also a great transmitter of a little known virus that’s been popping up in the Caribbean this year: Chikungunya.
Chikungunya is an acute virus transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito. It’s not usually fatal, but it causes acute fever, joint pain, and rash. What’s scary is that it has a strikingly high rate of epidemic—up to 50% of potential human hosts will contract the disease when bitten. And of those, around 10% will have persistent arthritis in the smaller joints for up to three years. There’s currently no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the disease—the best thing we’ve got is bug spray.
In late 2013, the virus was found for the first time in the Americas, on islands in the Caribbean. More than 5,900 suspected cases of chikungunya have been reported in the Caribbean and South America since December 6. The Public Health Ministry of the Dominican Republic recently reported 3,690 suspected cases in the San Cristobal province alone. Although this may not sound as bad as a disease like Ebola (which kills you through internal hemorrhaging in your gastrointestinal tract), a full-blown outbreak of chikungunya, replete with hundreds of southerners experiencing long-term arthritic symptoms and fever, would take a serious economic toll on the isolated rural areas of the deep south.
So, on to the question: How worried should we be about this particular disease? I called up Dr. Tim Brooks at the Rare and Imported Pathogens Department of Public Health England (PHE). He’s been helping to run the main UK referral center for the disease out of the PHE office, so I figured he’d be able to tell me whether or not you should cancel your upcoming vacation to New Mexico.
Health workers identifying chikungunya in a patient after the disease traveled to the south of France via a tourist. Photo courtesy Valentin Pezet, Jules Foulongne, and Nicolas Gueniot
VICE: So what exactly is Chikungunya? What is it named for?
Dr. Tim Brooks: Chikungunya is a disease that’s pretty much had its day, but it comes around every so often. Its name translates to “that which bends up,” because the biggest problem with the disease is the arthritic debilitation that follows the infection. It’s also got a fascinating history: Chikungunya was first pinned down in Tanzania in 1952, but historical accounts appear across Asia and Africa as early as 1779. Historically, outbreaks began in the Indian Ocean Basin, and it’s been able to travel very successfully since then.
What are the symptoms exactly?
Normally chikungunya presents with joint pains, a rash, and acute fever, followed by all the other symptoms you associate with high fever: headache, diarrhea, back pain. The main problem is the arthritic pain, which does not go away for maybe 10% of patients. It can persist for up to three years, and is very debilitating. It tends to affect the smaller joints, causing local swelling and pain. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got a lifelong immunity to it, but it will generally infect a large portion of the population, move on, and then disappear until the next generation comes up.
I Ate Live Food from a Pet Store for a Week
Long story short: We need to find viable, palatable, nutritious alternatives to traditional meat.
With that in mind I decided to replace one meal per day for seven days with sources of protein that can be purchased alive from a pet store.
At this point I should note that I’m not some granola here to chew your ear off about how fucked up factory farming is. In fact, I eat a lot of meat myself. I’m from northern Michigan, where there’s only one day in the Christian calendar year when most folks will intentionally choose fish, and I’m the type of heathen who doesn’t even abstain on that day. So this little experiment was done for my own sake, to know what sort of animal-based dishes I can look forward to when hamburgers are enjoyed exclusively by the one percent.
Before beginning the diet, I consulted my doctor to make sure I wasn’t about to spark someContagion-type situation. As I told him about my plan he put his chin in his hand and nodded politely, but seemed pretty unconcerned.
“Isn’t there anything I should be worried about?” I asked.
He shook his head with an offhand warning against eating mice intestines. “Make sure to take those out.”
“Sure,” I said. “I wouldn’t want to eat their poop.”
After a pause, and without irony, he told me where in town I could find the best price on regionally raised beef tenderloin.
And so, with my doctor’s blessing, I drove to the pet store to buy some groceries.
Day 1: Crickets Pancakes
Nutritional Facts: 1 serving equals 100g of crickets. Each serving contains 121 calories, 12.9g protein, 5.5g of fat
4 cups of flour
1 cup of roasted crickets
Place your crickets in the freezer for 1-2 hours, then boil briskly for 1-2 minutes. Strain and cool. Place clean and cool crickets on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.
Remove antennae and legs gently; they fall off easily. Crush collected crickets using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle until they are ground into small brown specks. Insufficient grinding will result in their small faces peering out at you from the batter L. Use flour in pancakes.
Crickets smell fishy—an aroma no doubt exacerbated by their placement in my local pet shop in thick plastic bins against a backdrop of blue fish tanks. In an effort to outwit my better instincts I told myself that the shrimp-like aroma wafting from my hotcakes was actually almonds.
Crickets taste like almonds, if you think of almonds, and shrimp if you think of anything other than almonds. This flavor is subtle, but when you place it in a pancake drenched in syrup, it becomes amplified. I recommend incorporating the cricket flour into a savory pastry, instead. Like nuts, they add a satisfying crunch.
Why Do Insects Have Gay Sex?
For centuries naturalists have observed and recorded homosexual behavior in nature. Famed explorer George Murray Levick was so shocked by the “astonishing depravity” of the male Adéliepenguins he observed on the 1910-13 Scott Antarctic Expedition that he successfully hid his research notebook from the public for 100 years. The recently unearthed document detailed such acts as penguin-on-penguin rape, chick molestation, and displays of gruesome necrophilia, as well as widespread homosexual relations among birds that the disgusted adventurer, discarding all impartiality, called “hooligan males.”
Although cultural biases have long obscured observation of “deviant” acts in nature, a spate of recent studies have established that a wide spectrum of species engages in non-reproductive sexual behavior. As the evidence mounts that same-sex sexytime is a common occurrence in the animal kingdom, scientists have come up with a variety of explanations for why going “gay” might be an evolutionarily advantageous trait, despite the fact that doing so cannot result in baby making. Some scientists have posited that non-reproductive orgasm is a way to keep sperm stocks fresh; some guess that animals need the practice; some observe that same-sex sexual (SSS) activity strengthens social bonds or establishes hierarchal structure; and others suggest that animals just wanna have fun.
Munchies: Andrew Zimmern
You might know Andrew Zimmern from his Travel Channel show Bizarre Foods in which he wolfs down unsightly things halfway across the world. Maybe you’ve wondered what eats when he’s out with friends in New York. For this episode of Munchies, Andrew chose to start at Osteria Morini, where the most bizarre food on the table was an amazing rib eye carpaccio that had been aged for 120 days. Then they headed to Marc Forgione for one of the more interesting meals we’ve ever seen. We ended up at the kitchen of Barbuto, where Zimmern made Chinese chicken drumsticks for the legendary chef Jonathan Waxman. Enjoy.
Watch the episode
The Golden Age of the Cockroach
Every era in art has a new favored subject. The Etruscans looked to Hercules; painters of the Renaissance reenvisioned the Bible; the American Ashcan School rendered sensitive tableaus of poor urban life; and the later half of the 20th century, dominated by the PoMo-ism of downtown NYC, crowned a new king, the cockroach, which was not only an available resource, but a stand-in for the artist—a heroic outcast, thriving in the ruins of civilization.
The oeuvre of the cockroach is best understood as a series of distinct ages that, in turn, comprise a whole. During the Reformation, the cockroach was reconsidered; the Enlightenment percieved the cockroach as potentially “divine”; the Golden Age saw the pinnacle of the discipline; the Silver Age was consumed by celebrity; the Bronze Age refigured the subject as metaphor and victim; the Age of Decline represented the subject in absentia and/or in parts. As far as I can tell, no one has completed, or even attempted, to survey the cockroach’s place in the art world, so consider this seven-part piece that examines an artistic era that scuttled by so quickly, hardly anyone even noticed it.
Ed Rushca, Cockroaches (1972). Photo courtesy Bukowskis Auktionhouse, Stockholm
The cockroach of antiquity and the Middle Ages lived in a cultural darkness—cockroaches were no better off than peasants, their teeming masses obscure, despised, and considered unworthy as a subject of art. Emerging from this age of katsaridaphobia, the 20th-century cockroach made a halting entry into popular culture. Its first notable foray into modern consciousness came with Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” though it must be remembered that not until the 21st century was the original German word ungeziefer consistently translated as “cockroach,” a term which may well be an anachronistic liberty. Gregor Samsa is not explicitly referred to as a cockroach in the original text, and Vladimir Nabokov, a lepidopterist as well as an author and literary critic, believed that Gregor was, technically, “a big beetle.” Nabokov’s argument focused on the wings that Gregor never realized he had, which brings us back to the roach, who is even less disposed to use his wings than the beetle; if Gregor is indeed a cockroach, it is not so much that he doesn’t know he can fly, it’s that he doesn’t want to.
Bear this in mind as we consider the Reformation era of the cockroach, which begins post–World War II. The quiet, peace-loving bug, wanting nothing more than a warm place and some privacy in a tight crevice, found a new nest within the American domicile: the television cabinet (as it was then known). A boom in electronics provided abundant habitat for the roaches, whose numbers, via human population density, were already on the rise. The cockroach, equated in wartime with fascists and occasionally with communists, became a cohabitant of the ordinary American, and the generation that grew up eye to eye with the cockroach viewed the creature with a revulsion tempered by sympatico fondness.
In the early 1950s, Andy Warhol, then living in an East Village apartment, unzipped his portfolio for a Madison Avenue art director, to have a cockroach leap out. This story—possibly somewhat true—is indicative of the arrival of the downtown scene: The artist (i.e., the cockroach) lived downtown but went uptown to become something celebrated. In 1959 William Burroughs extended the metaphor: The cockroach of Naked Lunchserved as guiding spirit and muse. In 1962 Leonard Baskin softened the harsh popular conception of the cockroach with his Rorschachesque illustrative style in Creatures of Darkness. By 1964 the artist was literally represented as the cockroach—George Kuchar’s 8mm film The Lovers of Eternity features a gigantic roach as a central figure in the bohemian gambol.
Panels from Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
In the Age of Enlightenment—which roughly corresponds with the Age of Aquarius in the human world—the cockroach becomes more than an analog of the artist experience. Jim Carroll, who performed with cockroaches in the late 60s and exhaustively recounted their presence in his memoirs, tortured captive roaches to appeal to the sadism of his audiences while simultaneously seeking to reject arty pretension. Throughout the 60s, the roach was normatively seen as something to fear—as in the cat-tormenting roach armies of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers—but the roach is also a curiously hapless underdog. One can’t help but root for those comix legions of roaches; they’re disgusting and militaristic, but, after all, no more offensive than the Freak Brothers themselves. Anne Sexton’s “Cockroach,” first published in the literary journal Antaeusand later collected in 45 Mercer Street, views the hated creature in reverence: “These days even the devil is getting overturned / and held up to the light like a glass of water.” This attitude of meditation and primordial wisdom is perfectly illustrated in Ed Ruscha’s 1972 series of silkscreens on wood, Cockroaches, which featured the ancient species in a light both meditative and noble. A more visceral incarnation of Enlightenment-era reverence can be found in Vito Acconci’s 1970 performance-video Rubbings, in which the artist smashes cockroaches into his naked, hairy belly, and rubs them into his gut until they disappear, until the artist and his divine subject are one.
CHOCOLATE WAX WORMS WITH CHAMPAGNE STRAWBERRIES
20 thawed wax worms
½ bar of dark cooking chocolate
1 cup of strawberries, chopped
½ glass of champagne
1 teaspoon of mint, chopped
Roast wax worms in a preheated 350° oven for about 10 minutes. Melt chocolate in a bowl wetted with boiling water. Dip the wax worms in melted chocolate and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Soak strawberries and mint in champagne and serve together.
1 cup of orzo
3 cups of vegetable broth
½ cup of grated carrot
½ cup of finely diced red and yellow pepper
1 tablespoon of butter
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup of chopped onion
1 cup of frozen two- or three-week-old cricket nymphs, thawed
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Bring broth to a boil, then stir in the orzo and cook for 10 minutes. Drain any extra liquid and mix in carrots and peppers. In a separate skillet, melt butter and add garlic, onions, and crickets. Sauté until the onions are clear. Mix it all together, including any liquid, top with parsley, and serve.