Saturday, November 26, 2016

A drug by the name of "World Without End"
#2 -- Sympathy for Debility

Peter Duesberg had an intriguing though not widely-accepted theory [Below, right]. It involved everyone else being wrong, a recurring theme in Duesberg's oeuvre. More specifically: all the money and effort spent researching oncoregulator and oncopromoter genes are wasted, because there are no oncogenes... instead, cancer is a state of accelerating chromosomal disrepair, or 'aneuploidy', with the karotype going all higgledy-piggledy.

Don't worry, this will not be part of the final exam.

So Marco Ruggiero -- to whom we are grateful as a reliable source of material for Riddled -- liked this idea, and has made it his own. And in this world of post- modernism and deconstructionism where authorial intent is a quaint outmoded notion, he is free to shift the meaning slightly... to "There is no such thing as an oncogene, and it is Bcl-2".

Duesberg's actual words remain the same, in a novel context, much in the manner of genes within the broken and reassembled aneuploid chromosomes of a cancer cell-line.

Source is Ruggiero's Bcl-2 entry in the Springer Encyclopedia of Cancer [Manfred Schwab ed.], 3rd Edition, 2011... I don't always read Cancer reference tomes, but when I do, it's the Springer Encyclopedia. Yellow highlighting is not the authors', and probably not mine either, though who can be sure in this mixed-up deconstructionist post-authorship world?
Secret of Immortality: Blood
transfusions from Centaurs
Now Duesberg happened to remark in passing on the immortality of the resulting disinhibited cell lines, as one might say that HeLa cells and Devil Transmissible Facial Tumour qua distinct biological entities are immortal for as long as there remain Tasmanian Devils to infect. But "immortality" is a word that captures one's full attention, much in the manner of "World domination" or "Free Beer" or "10% discount on Mrs Miggin's Samphire-&-Scallion Pasties". Our man Ruggiero became over-excited by the concept, as if this were the continuity-of-personal-experience kind of immortality that one achieves through not dying.
This was our first warning that Ruggiero is beginning to adopt the viewpoints of pathogens and disease processes, which is an admirable trait for characters in J.G. Ballard novels and Burroughs fictions, but one prefers the loyalty of one's personal doctor to be less divided.

So come with me now on a stroll down the road, around the corner and over the railway overbridge, to a different intellectual magisterium... the world of HIV and AIDS. Form an orderly line, and please, no straggling.

Here we find Woodman and Williamson, describing the evolution of the HIV viral population within a human host as they adapt to escape the host's immune response, at the cost of not replicating as fast as they would like:
After transmission, HIV evolves at a rapid rate driven by the immune pressure until the virus reaches a delicate survival balance: on one hand avoiding elimination through the development of cytotoxic T-cell immune escape mutations, and on the other sacrificing replication fitness as these mutations may come with a severe fitness cost to the virus.
The phrase "delicate survival balance" caught our man's eye, and untrammeled by notions of 'author' or 'meaning' he was free to repurpose the paper for his own narrative -- much as one take scissors to the edges of a jigsaw piece so it can fit into a different jigsaw puzzle --
-- a narrative in which HIV is evolving at the species level for co-existence with humankind.

This account of HIV as an apologia for the virus, it is the second warning sign for Ruggiero. The fictive realm is drawing him down into its maelstrom and he is becoming a character from David Cronenberg's cinematic practice. This sort of thing happens more and more often (what with the morphogenic flux's increasing intensity), and it never ends well, with grotesque body-melt transformations and aesthetic folios full of skin diseases and such. Run, Marco! Escape while you still can!
"It's my conceit that perhaps some diseases perceived as diseases which destroy a well-functioning machine, in fact change the machine into a machine that does something else, and we have to figure out what it is that the machine now does. Instead of having a defective machine, we have a nicely functioning machine that just has a different purpose. Part of it is a self-deceptive way of coping with the possibilities of disease, but on the other hand I can imagine what it feels like to be a virus. The AIDS virus: look at it from his point of view. Very vital, very excited, really having a good time. [...] A virus is a living creature - actually, sometimes they go crystalline on you, which is what's interesting. See the movies from the point of view of the disease. You can see why they would resist all attempts to destroy them."
I am not making this up. Attend once again to the Springer Encyclopedia, and Ruggiero on Viral Protein R, introducing his theory that HIV is an unjustly-maligned cancer-curing human symbiont:
"Whaddafuck is that garish migraine horror? The goggles do nothing!" exclaims the reader, recoiling, eyeballs bleeding in the throes of a tequila-hangover flashback, unfamiliar with postmodern deconstructionist conventions of colour-coded highlighting. The point is to show the secret life of text, and how genetic sequences migrate independently, crossing the species volume barrier in episodes of horizontal transfer.
Sequences from Mishra et al., J Biol Chem 282 (7), 4288-4300 (2006) *:

and Muthumani et al., Curr HIV Res. 2009 Mar;7(2):144-52:
That would be a good place to stop, except I have filled in a requisition form for a lot of yellow and blue highlighter, and I might as well use them as it is not worth the extra trouble and form-filling just to send them back into the store-room again. So here are Zhang et al. [below, left], Hum. Mol. Genet. (2001) 10 (21): 2329-2339, making the point that proteins sentences of the Bcl-2 gene family literature are evolutionarily conserved from the Sponges original papers to man Encyclopedia entries. And below that an excerpt from the Whackyweedia.

Here are Zinkel, Gross and Yang -- Cell Death and Differentiation (2006) 13, 1351–1359:
For comparison with the Encyclopedia entry:
Presumably space limitations in the Encyclopedia prevented Ruggiero from crediting all his sources in the detail he would have preferred. It is unfortunate that he wasted one of his nine citations on Yamamoto et al. (2008), which is to say a discredited fabrication [three of the four key GcMAF-cures-cancer papers from Yamamoto were retracted, on account of made-up ethics clearance and the probable non-existence of patients; concerns about the Translational Oncology paper were ignored, because Elsevier].
The paragraph advertising Ruggiero's commercial GcMAF product is also a lamentable use of space, shoehorned rather awkwardly into the text with an admission that it has no actual link to the putative topic of the entry. Perhaps a Conflict-of-Interest disclosure would be a worthwhile addition to the next revision.

Speaking of which, there was in fact a 2015 revision of this 3rd Edition. The Bcl-2 entry gained a second author, John W. Anderson.

Now Anderson is not a scientist or researcher. He is more associated with the Isagenyx ziggurat scheme multi-level-marketing operation, which deals in food supplements and weight-loss pills. Anderson's "Dream Master Laboratory"** was employing Ruggiero in 2015, while Anderson's address was used to register Ruggiero's magic-yoghurt distribution company "Bacterix LLC". Comparing the two versions, it is not obvious what revisions or additions Anderson contributed to this updated entry to earn his co-authorship and the associated academic respectability, other than providing Ruggiero with employment, an affiliation, and accommodation.
* The absence of a citation for Mishra et al. is lamentable, as it deprives readers of the opportunity to check the paper in question, and to discover that the claims it makes are not substantiated -- it was retracted in 2011 on account of manipulated data.

** Evidently a plant-extract importation company rather than an actual laboratory.

*** No longer extant -- recently deregistered in a state of tax delinquency.
The analogy between genetic and textual material goes further than I realised; just as genes can duplicate along the genome, leaving each copy to evolve separately to fill a different role, so can paragraphs on pp. 357 and 358.

Ruggiero's fondness for the deriding approach goes back a long way [h/t Dora].


Emma said...

1.) I want to thank you for your continuing commitment to the publication of difficult-to-understand but nevertheless comical revelations about pseudoscientific fraud in these troubled times.
2.) How is that magic anti-cancer compound pronounced? I’m going for "gikmuff."
3.) That’s exactly how all my textbooks looked when I had to take a biology class in college, and all my friends laughed at me. Were they laughing when I ended up with a C+ at the end of the semester, though? You bet they were.
4.) I thought Wikipedia was bad because it invented stuff randomly from imaginary sources? I wish it would make up its mind.
5.) Is it funnier or sadder that the cover of that Zelazny book made me think about terrible 00s pseudo-metal and the worst "Harry Potter" fanfiction of all time? I hope someone answers me, because I’m really interested.

Smut Clyde said...

I am still waiting for some publisher to offer me a contract to turn the on-going GcMAF journalism into a book. My travel budget to visit the various individuals and countries involved will be surprisingly modest.

"This Immortal" was not the highlight of Zelazny's career so feel free to make fun of the cover art. In fact you should take yourself to the entry at the ISFDB and make fun of the alternative covers as well.
The book did not seem to inspire any artists to anything brilliant.

Smut Clyde said...

The Richard Powers cover has Powers' trademark Matta-influenced gauzy surrealism but it's not exactly inspired.

rhwombat said...

If Ruggiero did not exist/publish, it would still be necessary to invent/deconstruct him. Actually, I suspect that he's a form of Devil Transmissible Cupidity Tumour Disease - transmitted by bite, and predisposed to by limited intellectual diversity among GcMAF grifters.

Dora said...

I'm very impressed by the great work you've done in exposing plagiarisms, editorial improprieties and occult advertisings with which Ruggiero has been able to fill just one entry of the Encyclopedia of Cancer.
If I were an oncologist, though, I'd be a bit worried about the global work of editorial oversight at the Encyclopedia.
I think Springer and Professor Schwab should account for the reasons why Ruggiero, his co-authors and perhaps the authors of other entries have had the opportunity to publish, in the course of several successive editions, such a number of mistakes without anyone noticing.

The cover of "Action Philosophers" is wonderful and I've stolen it. I'll remember to mention the source the next time I happen to write about Ruggiero's insane passion for the Wikipedia page dedicated to Derrida.

Emma said...

I can’t imagine what sort of novel would require alternate cover art that doesn’t seem to depict even vaguely similar content — James Cromwell mid-masturbation, a sad & vaguely racist-looking aborigine lady modeling a uterine ladder, some Classic scifi clichés in silver boots? I read 'Creatures of Light and Darkness' because you quoted it here at Riddled, and I ended up really liking it, but Zelazny’s canon is so massive that I was too intimidated to start a second book. "Don’t go for 'This Immortal,'" is what I’m getting out of this comment.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Attend once again to the Springer Encyclopedia, and Ruggiero on Viral Protein R, introducing his theory that HIV is an unjustly-maligned cancer-curing human symbiont:

Just ignore all that Kaposi's sarcoma...

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I read 'Creatures of Light and Darkness' because you quoted it here at Riddled, and I ended up really liking it, but Zelazny’s canon is so massive that I was too intimidated to start a second book. "Don’t go for 'This Immortal,'" is what I’m getting out of this comment.

I would suggest A Night in the Lonesome October... it was written as a challenge to see if readers could root for a protagonist who is universally considered to be utterly loathsome, though most of the grisly bits take place offstage. It's also a long love letter to genre fiction and films, and it's a fun puzzle to determine who the unnamed characters turn out to be. It also ends up being a literal shaggy dog story which is groan-inducing but fun. I re-read it, appropriately enough, this past October, and it held up really well.

Trevor said...

a protagonist who is universally considered to be utterly loathsome Hey, cut the guy some slack. Not easy being a cursed immortal. Also, he disliked vivisectionists, which has to be good.

Also, Lord of Light, Roadmarks, and Nine Princes in Amber (but forget about the rest of the numpty-something books that followed in the series)

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Also, he disliked vivisectionists, which has to be good.


Heavy footsteps crossed the outer room.

Then the door immediately across from me was flung open. Jack stood upon the threshold staring at the cages, the vivisectionists, myself upon the table. Graymalk peered in from behind him.

"Just who do you think you are, bursting into a private laboratory?" said the beefy man.

"...Interrupting a piece of scientific research?" said the tall man.

"...And damaging our door?" said the short man with the wide shoulders and large hands.

I could see it now, like a black tornado, surrounding Jack, settling inward. If it entered him completely he would no longer be in control of his actions.

"I've come for my dog," he said. "That's him on your table."

He moved forward.

"No, you don't, laddie," said the beefy man. "This is a special job for a special client."

"I'll be taking him and leaving now."

The beefy man raised his scalpel and moved around the table.

"This can do amazing things to a man's face, pretty boy," he said.

The others picked up scalpels, also.

"I'd guess you've never met a man as really knows how to cut," the beefy one said, advancing now.


It was into him, and that funny light came into his eyes, and his hand came out of his pocket and captured starlight traced the runes on the side of his blade.

"Well-met," Jack said then, through the teeth of his grin, and he continued to walk straight ahead.


Emma said...

Oh wow, thank you! I don’t know if I can handle the tale of a dog in danger right now, but I can try.

I looked into Nine Princes in Amber already, because it’s so famous, but I was intimidated by the million-page series that follows. But if they’re irrelevant, I’ll try it, too. Also the fan community online is VERY INTENSE.

Never heard of the other two. That’s why god made Google.

Thank you again!

Smut Clyde said...

Trevor's tastes are questionable in some areas, but his recommendation of Roadmarks and Lord of Light is correct.