Bleats

We’re Not Far Away From Using Pig Organs In People, For Real

When pigs fly.

Science has come so far. One might even say it’s come too far. A British surgeon has revealed that he’s found a way to Macgyver a solution to heart and kidney disease using pig organs, and he’s about three years from making it happen.

Apparently, pig hearts and kidneys are similar enough to those of humans for scientists to not only use them to guinea pig (pun intended) possible treatments, but to just straight up chuck them inside us. In fact, the first ever pig-to-human kidney transplant is due to happen later this year – fitting that 2019 is the Year of the Pig.

I can’t really say I’m too comfy with the idea of having a pig organ inside me, even if it would save my life. It just reminds me way too much of the whole pig slave thing from Doctor Who. The ethics of these sorts of chimera-like experiments are a little murky, but at least this one doesn’t involve gene-editing embryos.

There are some pretty solid arguments for making porcine xenotransplantation happen, once you get over the yuck factor. For a start, it would definitely help resolve the organ donation shortage crisis. Sorry vegans, but if it makes you feel any better, at least we’d be using up parts that are usually wasted to save people’s lives. I’d say that’s a win-win.

Current experimental treatment involves a genetic material called microRNA-199 being delivered into a pig heart to help the cells regenerate, and if it proves effective, it’ll have a direct application in humans. Heart disease is the single biggest killer in Australia, so any solution is a good solution, and there’s definitely some bonus points for creativity to be awarded with this one.

Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? I read enough Animorphs books as a kid to be totally unafraid of hybrid freaks. I, for one, welcome our new Pigperson overlords.

It’s Drunk Pigeon Season In Dublin And Locals Have Been Warned To Watch Out

Boozed-up birds.

A suburb in the north of the Irish capital endures the same menace on wings every year, terrorising the streets with intoxicated antics. The fruit falls from the pear trees in late summer, and when the sweet treats start to ferment, the pigeons chowing down get drunk off it.

The birds are so infamous for this bad habit that one community page felt the need to alert residents to the fruit-fall, knowing that the out of control sky rats can – and will – pass out anywhere. In the gutter, on the footpath, right under your feet. Relatable!

Apparently, in a previous season, one local even nominated themself the designated driver, taking the blackout drunk pigeon to a vet for treatment.

This is just one of those times you look at a story and go, “Well, of course it’s in Ireland”. I feel terrible for the Irish, even their wildlife is letting them down by playing right into those Guinness-chugging stereotypes.

Although this might be the last time that the community of Marino experience the marvel of nature that is drunk pigeon season, because sadly, the pear trees will soon disappear. The trees are old and have become too problematic to maintain, so they’re being replaced by non-fruiting varieties. It’s gotta be a brave council rep who breaks that news to the pigeons, though.

Of course, they could just go elsewhere for their fix, as this phenomenon has been documented in other parts of the UK too. One guy even narrated his discovery of a passed out pigeon, nature doco-style (quick warning, his Attenborough is a little NSFW).

British pigeons aren’t the only ones getting drunk on rotting fruit. Last year, New Zealand awarded the prestigious Bird of the Year to the kererū, a species described by the organisers as, “clumsy, drunk [and] gluttonous” because they feast on the droppings of the taraire and karaka trees. Meanwhile, the residents of Minnesota were so concerned by cedar waxwings flying into windows under the influence of berries that they called the cops.

All this makes it seem like nature is as hellbent on getting hammered as we are. However, several studies have been done on this behaviour and no one can conclusively say that animals are doing it on purpose – it just seems to be a hilarious side effect. Makes for a good yarn though, doesn’t it?

It seems that these unfortunate, inebriated pigeons are nothing quite so intentionally self-destructive as the human race. However, it’s a bit of a shame for them that the fruiting season for pears is so late in the year – imagine if this event coincided with St Patrick’s Day. Wouldn’t be quite so humiliating for the birds if everyone was in the same boat, after all.

If Weird YouTube Videos Help You Sleep At Night, You're Not Alone

Catch some Zs.

It’s not just insomniacs who are suffering from sleeplessness, as recent research has revealed that nearly a third of us aren’t getting the recommended 7 hours. In honour of Sleep Awareness Week I though it would be appropriate to give a shout out to the real MVP of the bedtime ritual – YouTube.

Being on YouTube at night is the ultimate catch-22. It’s either going to keep you up to 3am as you rabbit hole into your fourteenth ‘RIP Vine’ compilation or it’s going to lull you to sleep like a gentle lullaby, as is the case for an increasing number of us.

The most common type of video for people to fall asleep to are ones that feature ‘white noise’, where the focus is on the soothing sounds of rainstorms and waterfalls, or gently whirring motors. There are some weirder entries in this genre though. Some folks are a fan of, well, fans, and a friend of mine said that clothes driers are her guilty pleasure.

I think I’m even worse, though, when it comes to weird YouTube habits. Most of the time, I find it easy to catch my Zs, but when I was doing my HSC my brain was on overdrive. And I found solace in the most bizarre type of video – planespotting. In my defense, it’s the engine hum is really relaxing, I swear!

Science is also in my corner here, because white (and pink, blue, and brown) noise occupies frequencies that block out all other sound – the problem with most ambient sound is that it changes intensity so much that it’ll jolt you awake. Silence would be great of course, if it wasn’t so stressful.

As long as you’re able to keep the image of a stranger standing over your bed out of your head, videos with people’s voices can be helpful when you hit the hay. The spine-tingling phenomenon of ASMR is well documented, and plenty of folks stand by its power to send them to sleep, but I can’t stand it. I relate more to my friend Lizzy, who is lulled by John Oliver’s dulcet tones on Last Week Tonight, or this Reddit user who cites Bob Ross’ painting videos as a source of inner peace (except when he beats the devil out of his paintbrush).

Love a bit of rustling in the sheets.

Tricking yourself into falling asleep is all about training your brain to associate certain sounds and images with rest, so really it doesn’t matter what weird YouTube videos you use. And hey, it’s not the worst kind of night-time habit. Just don’t blame me for your next oil paint-induced nightmare.

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