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Last Logged In: November 19th, 2013
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Saucy Tales by bent

March 19th, 2013 9:50 PM

INSTRUCTIONS: Every ancient condiment in the back of your fridge is a tale of neglect and abandonment. Tell us yours.

I thought about this task, and the most fitting condiment in my fridge is typhoid.

Yes it's not every day you get to share a killer pathogen in your fridge with your friends. This is just the sort of thing that makes the sf0 community so darn special isn't it?<3


Nestled snuggly between the Mott's apple juice and tangerine cups, the box pictured contains vaccine pills with the live typhoid bacterium salmonella typhi. What's typhoid vaccine doing in my fridge? Well the answer to that is another story, but the quick of it is that the vaccine must be refrigerated to keep the bacteria alive.

Is this condiment ancient? That's debatable, given that these individual organisms are most likely no more than weeks old. However, they come from a long line of killers. How long? According to a 2002 genetic study, typhus is about 50,000 years old (between "15,000-150,000 years ago, during the human hunter-gatherer phase and prior to the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals"), which actually makes it a rather young pathogen.

I'm cognizant of the fact that I've taken great liberties with the definition of "condiment". However, if my explanation for this loose association (the greater good of offering something of interest) is not accepted, then my story is that I ingest them because they make any food I eat two hours later taste better [sticks out tongue irreverently].

I'm also aware that no discernible tale of neglect and abandonment is directly related to this particular packet 'o pathogens. However, I submit that the story of typhoid is deeply marred with both; at least in the deaths of its victims (which have included such personages as Georgia O'Keeffe, Wilbur Wright, and the wives of two U.S. presidents, including Mary Lincoln).

According to wikipedia mankind's first concerted effort at political democracy may also have fallen victim to it:

Around 430–424 BC, a devastating plague, which some believe to have been typhoid fever, killed one third of the population of Athens, including their leader Pericles. The balance of power shifted from Athens to Sparta, ending the Golden Age of Pericles that had marked Athenian dominance in the Greek ancient world.
(ancient historian Thucydides also contracted the disease but survived to write about the plague).


I will leave you with the above photo of Typhoid Mary (Mary Mallon)--who likely infected fifty-three people and caused three deaths, in part because she refused to cooperate with health authorities--and a pic of her grave in the Bronx.


Actually fuck that I'd rather leave you with a pic of Marvel villain Typhoid Mary.


And so ends my tale of doomed democracy, refrigerated ruin, and contagious condiments.

THE END [burp]

- smaller



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posted by The Charlatan on November 19th, 2013 9:37 PM

How did I miss this? This is plusfive goodstuff.