Here I thought that scientists had finally found the answer to all of our education problems; a shot of penicillin, and… Presto!…the brain is working up to full capacity.  Whoopee!

 Alas! Not so.  

The other day there was a brief mention on the radio about a study at Johns Hopkins wherein the effect on some persons in an investigation of a certain chlorovirus ATCV, normally found in algae, had seemed to show that when given some tests of cognition, some 43% of the sample test-takers appeared to have difficulty in processing visual information—puzzles and such.  Ho Hum.  So…?

So somebody on a slow news day—Newsweek was mentioned but the internet picked the mention up and ran with it—called it the “stupid virus” and implied that any lagging intellectual powers among us might be the fault of an insidious invasion by these viral marauders.  Actually, the researchers themselves never made such a statement; some media whiz knew a good  ”viral” phrase when he saw it.  Additionally, a line was quoted—with quotation marks and everything—pointing to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska having discovered a virus that infects our brains and “makes us more stupid.”  Uh…maybe not.  In no way did the researchers make such a statement(and it was never really attributed to a named individual), and, in fact, the cognitive tests were sort of an afterthought, having to do with something else altogether, and the testing sample was really quite small.  And then there’s the fact that the writers of the study were able to choose their own reviewers (“Here, Mom, read this.”)…AND the question of how a virus that usually infects green algae might have got into humans in the first place.  This whole thing might warrant additional study but we certainly shouldn’t get all paranoid about some microscopic bad guys being responsible for our own da##ed foolishness.

Then again….  Another story of the same ilk turned up, online and elsewhere, about some poor sucker who suffered for four YEARS—YEARS—from headaches, mini-strokes, a sensation of “strange smells” and heaven-only-knows what else. A biopsy (no, he wasn’t dead) determined that the trouble with his brain was some sort of parasite which he may have  acquired in China.  Yeccch!  The term “brain tapeworm” immediately popped up and sales of Excedrin probably spiked as well.  They had MRI scans of the creature having moved around inside the guy’s brain but, apparently had no clue what to do about it.  Yeccch again! The name of this parasite, which requires about three different hosts over the course of its life cycle, is Spirometra erinaceieuropaei (Easy for you to say).  The team of scientists involved in this case and the investigation of the DNA of the parasite is larded with names like Hayley M. Bennett, Sebastian B. Lucas, Hoy Ping Mol, Isheng J. Tsai and Peter Chiodini but my favorite is Dr. Effrossyni Gkrania-Klotsas.  How much you want to bet that they all just call each other “Doc”?

Other hot news on the medical front : the 5HTA1 gene and its various workings and malfunctions may be the source of difficulties in building relationships with others.   Dubbed the “singleton gene” by some media yahoo, it has something to do with  serotonin receptors in the brain.  The chances of being neurotic and depressed were also hinted at.  Anything more than a hint would by edging perilously close to flat-out prevarication.  Do not tell adolescent children of this dubious discovery, they’ve got enough troubles with this stuff.

Anyway, you can deal with all of this if you just down capsules containing Korean Red Pine Needle (Pinus densiflora) Oil.  Yup.   The ad on the internet said that it is “4 All Parasites, Bacteria, Viruses, & Mold”(sic)—should have given the stuff to the guy with the “brain tapeworm”–and it will “cleanse your body, help rejuvenate aging cells, slow the aging process, tighten loose and ageing skin.”   It’ll be taking bread from the mouths of plastic surgeons!

And finally, if you’re still depressed over the state of your health or your psyche, give a call to Samantha Hess, professional cuddler, of Portland, OR.  She says, “I could cuddle, literally, 24 hours a day.”  She requires that clients first meet her in a public place, that they sign a waiver stating that they will be clean, courteous and fully clothed.  She’s thinking of opening a retail store but currently her services are available in clients’ homes, parks or movie theaters (so that’s who was in row H at “Frozen”).  She charges $60 per hour.

Stick with the Red Pine Oil.