Latest theory seems to be that the Zika virus is mutating so that it is taken up more easily by the mosquito and is more infectious to humans
Yes, comparing the Brazilian outbreak to its earlier spread through Asia (mild effects only; this is attributed, speculatively, to previous vaccination programmes against encephalitis in the region) and French Polynesia (associated with significantly higher than usual incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome, and – on subsequent checking – slightly but nonsignificantly higher microcephaly). So there are other local factors in play, making direct comparison difficult to interpret.
The possibility of a Brazil-specific Zika mutation can’t yet be ruled out*, and seems plausible at first sight given the widespread use there of mutagenic pesticides banned elsewhere … but also, the evidence that microcephaly is linked to Zika in Brazil is still only circumstantial: the causal chain, if it exists, has not yet been established (as per Rosemary’s links above).
(* It's something that should be relatively easy to check, though: presumably someone is now doing a gene sequence comparison that could establish whether this has actually occurred.)
Leguminus in fact
… cf. the original story, featuring legumes that go all the way up.
You’re right that chickenpox isn’t a perfect protection against shingles (if you get it before 18 months of age, or if your immune system is weakened, it can reactivate as shingles in later life), but they are caused by the same virus:
Shingles is due to a reactivation of varicella zoster virus (VZV) within a person’s body. Chickenpox is due to an initial infection with VZV
there must surely be a corresponding rate of microcephaly in the babies of African women infected with Zika
No, for the same reason that we don’t have a high incidence of shingles in the adult population (i.e., most people get chicken pox in childhood and thereby become immune).
Where Zika and its carrier are endemic, then people get, and recover from, and become immune to, Zika in childhood, therefore don’t get it during pregnancy. It’s only where the carrier invades new territory (as in Brazil) that large numbers of previously unexposed adults can get Zika.
Ae. albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito) is one of the bloodsuckers I live with in Japan, though fortunately not active all year round in my area. It is listed as one of the 100 most invasive species worldwide; it already has invaded NZ on several occasions and been re-eradicated, and is well on the way to becoming naturalised in many parts of Latin America and in California, making the “Asian” bit of the name increasingly inaccurate.
What they are is entitled brats. Belonging to the elite may reliably correlate and be causally connected with that outcome, but it’s not exactly the same thing.
Maybe I’m just feeling tired and bitter this morning……
I thought it was just part of being forty(something).
That would be met by an equally obvious bastard corporate workaround: increasing the number of part-timers so that no ordinary worker would ever meet the criterion. Some sort of bulk equivalence would be needed to get around that: funding x hours of training for every y hours of employee labour in total. (Which then raises the question of how staff are selected or prioritised for training: some mix of companies needing to upskill workers in certain positions, and training driven by workers' own needs, would be necessary.)
One of the many problems with user-pays education is that it quickly removed the “public good” perception among students themselves:
“I paid (and am still paying) for this, therefore it is mine.”
That’s an attitudinal change that will take generations to reverse.
I’d agree that there does need to be some mechanism in NZ for industry to fund R&D, and HR to fund staff development, to a much larger extent than at present (I see these as parallel problems, whose solutions should be very similar in structure; you could call the combination Work Smarter). But doesn’t it rather suck to be self-employed under the scheme you suggest: forced to pay a levy, without being able to take the time to undergo formal retraining yourself?