Three Big Books

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Is Naviaux really treating African Swine Fever in autism patients without realizing it?

Is Naviaux really treating African Swine Fever in autism patients without realizing it?

From the Naviaux Group:

"We think of autism as a neurometabolic and neuroimmune syndrome that is caused by the pathological persistence of the cell danger response (CDR). Both genes and environment can activate the CDR, which consists of about 30 metabolic pathways that work together to defend the cell against danger or stress3,5. When activated during early child development, the CDR can have a significant impact on behavior and brain development. The CDR is maintained by increased purinergic signaling6-8 that results from the release of nucleotides like ATP, ADP, UTP, UDP, and other metabolites that trace to mitochondria in cells under stress. Purinergic receptors are widely distributed on every cell type in the body. When activated, they can signal danger or trigger inflammation and pain. Nucleotides like ATP are co-neurotransmitters and neuromodulators at every synaptic junction studied to date. They are particularly important for cells in the nervous system, immune system, and the GI tract, which in turn, affects the gut microbiome. Suramin is a non-selective inhibitor of purinergic signaling, an antipurinergic drug, or APD for short. Suramin works in several ways to inhibit purinergic signaling. One way is to act as a competitive inhibitor of ATP binding to cell surface receptors. Another way is to block the release of intracellular ATP through pannexin-P2X7 channels into the extracellular space. Working in these ways, suramin sends an “all’s clear” signal to the cell. One way to think about suramin action is as “molecular armistice therapy”—a metabolic signal that the danger has passed and cellular resources can be directed away from defense and returned to “peace time” activities like normal neurodevelopment, healing, and growth."

Is this a complicated way of inadvertently saying that he is treating HHV-6 (which is suspected of really being African Swine Fever) with a drug that has show effectiveness against African Swine Fever?

Background on Suramin as a treatment of African Swine Fever (which may actually be HHV-6, HHV-7 and HHV-8 in humans)

New agents active against African swine fever virus.


Actinobolin, atropine, carrageenan, megalomycin C, suramin, and tetracenomycin C were tested for their activity against African swine fever virus replication. Both viral inhibitory potency and cytotoxicity were investigated. Megalomycin C, suramin, atropine, and carrageenan exhibited significant activity. Megalomycin C was the most active of the four agents with respect to the concentration of compound that blocked the formation of infectious virus by 50%. Suramin was the next most active agent in this respect, but because of its lower cytotoxicity, it had the most favorable therapeutic index.

Suramin is showing promise in the treatment of autism and may be tried for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Is it because HHV-6 and related viruses are potential triggers of autism and CFS and the virus is allegedly a form of African Swine Fever that was renamed by Robert Gallo after he stole credit for the discovery of African Swine Fever in AIDS patients by John Beldekas and Jane Teas? (See Beldekas/Teas story here.)

Parent Personal Statements of Their Observations from Phase I/II Randomized Clinical Trial of Low-Dose Suramin in Autism Spectrum Disorder

The John Beldekas African Swine Fever and HHV-6 Story

John Beldekas

(Photo by Jane Teas)

"In August, 1986, John Beldekas was invited to go to the NCI and present his findings on the link between ASFV [African Swine Fever virus] and AIDS, which he did. Beldekas gave samples of all his lab work to Gallo. Later, the government asked Beldekas to turn over all his reagents and lab work to the government, which he did. Beldekas had found ASFV presence in nine of 21 AIDS patients using two standard procedures. At the meeting, Gallo was reported saying: “we know it is not ASFV.” How could Gallo know this as he hadn’t done any of his own tests to look for ASFV?
Two months later, Gallo published an article in Science (Oct 31, 1986) that he discovered a new possible co-factor in AIDS, a virus he called Human B Cell Lymphotropic Virus which he named HBLV. Like ASFV, HBLV infected B cells and also lived in macrophages. Did Gallo steal Beldekas’s ASF virus he found in AIDS patients and rename it HBLV? Later on, when Gallo found that HBLV could also infect other immune cells, he changed the name of HBLV to HHV-6. Eventually, Gallo identified his HBLV as the variant A strain of HHV-6 and called it a human herpesvirus."
--Mark Konlee
To the Editor: Last September, while conducting a preliminary sociomedical study on acquired immune deficiency syndrome in Rwanda, in the eastern part of central Africa, I was surprised to learn that 50 percent of the pig population had died in an African swine fever epidemic that had begun in December 1983. The epidemic spread northward from Burundi to south-central Rwanda near Butare. This is the same area where Dr. Philippe van de Perre of St. Pierre's Hospital in Brussels and his associates found that 27 of 33 female prostitutes had AIDS or AIDS-related complex, what must certainly be the highest proportion of persons with such symptoms in any at-risk sample yet studied. Eighteen percent of samples of adult blood donors and hospital employees in Kigali, the capital city, were seropositive to human immunodeficiency virus antibody last year. This year, the percentage has increased to 24. Human immunodeficiency virus, in Rwanda at least, appears to be the necessary but not sufficient condition to produce AIDS. Perhaps the African swine fever epidemic and the high rate of illness among prostitutes near Butare is just a coincidence. But, with the recent African swine fever scare caused by the discovery of sickly pigs near Belle Glades, Fla., and with the report by Dr. John Beldekas of Boston University and his associates of some evidence of infection by the African swine fever virus in nearly half of a sample of 21 AIDS patients in the United States, epidemiologists and veterinarians might do well to explore the possibility that this virus is a co-factor in AIDS transmission in central Africa and perhaps other regions of the world. DOUGLAS A. FELDMAN New Haven, July 23, 1986 The writer, a medical anthropologist, is a research fellow at Yale University's Human Relations Area Files Inc.

Learn more about African Swine Fever in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in this book.

The definitive history of the
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome cover-up.

As the publisher and editor-in-chief of a small newspaper in New York, Charles Ortleb was the first journalist to devote a publication to uncovering the truth about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. He assigned Neenyah Ostrom the duty of following every twist and turn of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome story. No newspaper in the world did more to warn the world about the virus called HHV-6 which seems to be triggering Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and many other immunological disorders.

This provocative book will end the injustice of the silent treatment Neenyah Ostrom's reporting has been getting from the media and The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome community. Ostrom blew the lid off one of the biggest medical secrets of our time: the link between the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome epidemic and AIDS.

Ostrom interviewed most of the major researchers in the field, as well as countless patients and government scientists. She uncovered so many similarities between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and AIDS that she came to the conclusion that they are part of the same epidemic, and she argued that until their connection is admitted by top government researchers, there is little hope of making real progress in the fight against Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Charles Ortleb's book captures all the challenges and excitement of running a small newspaper that was publishing a brilliant journalist who essentially was the Woodward and Bernstein of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome epidemic. In Rolling Stone, David Black said Ortleb's newspaper deserved a Pulitzer Prize.

African Swine Fever Drug may be useful in treating autism and raises hopes for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients.

Background on Suramin as a treatment of African Swine Fever (which may actually be HHV-6, HHV-7 and HHV-8 in humans)

New agents active against African swine fever virus.


Actinobolin, atropine, carrageenan, megalomycin C, suramin, and tetracenomycin C were tested for their activity against African swine fever virus replication. Both viral inhibitory potency and cytotoxicity were investigated. Megalomycin C, suramin, atropine, and carrageenan exhibited significant activity. Megalomycin C was the most active of the four agents with respect to the concentration of compound that blocked the formation of infectious virus by 50%. Suramin was the next most active agent in this respect, but because of its lower cytotoxicity, it had the most favorable therapeutic index.

Suramin is showing promise in the treatment of autism and may be tried for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Is it because HHV-6 and related viruses are potential triggers of autism and CFS and the virus is allegedly a form of African Swine Fever that was renamed by Robert Gallo after he stole credit for the discovery of African Swine Fever in AIDS patients by John Beldekas and Jane Teas? (See Beldekas/Teas story here.)

Parent Personal Statements of Their Observations from Phase I/II Randomized Clinical Trial of Low-Dose Suramin in Autism Spectrum Disorder

This is a very funny book about talking pigs that is destined to become an international bestseller. But it is so much more than that.

As African Swine Fever Virus, a deadly virus that infects pigs, threatens to spread into Western Europe and may even reach America, the timing of this novel could not be more perfect. As fears grow that the virus might be capable of infecting humans, this book raises troubling questions about the honesty and competence of public health officials. Could the next human epidemic already be lurking in pigs? Has a pig virus already quietly infected us and is it responsible for mysterious illnesses like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and autism?

Is African Swine Fever virus already infecting American pigs and being covered up? With incisive political satire,  Pig: A Memoir explains how that could easily be done by government scientists who can always rename diseases  in order to hide them. Pig: A Memoir shows how the game is played.

Pig: A Memoir, which appears 70 years after Animal Farm, updates the political and existential status of man and pig in a laugh-out-loud, mini-epic of a narrative that readers everywhere will be quoting at the water cooler. Pig: A Memoir has so many dynamic moving parts that it reads like it is reflecting the state of our world in real time.

A contemporary allegorical fable about the overlapping breakdown of the porcine and human public health systems, Charles Ortleb's little masterpiece is full of the absurd zaniness of
Catch-22 and the gritty horror of The Jungle. He has used his journalistic, critical, and comedic skills to expose our planet's newest biomedical Silent Spring.

Some will call
Pig: A Memoir an edgy, postmodern, meta-satire, while others will deem it a jolly good tale that opens our eyes to the situation of the human-like pigs and porcine humans in our midst. In the upside-down world of Pig: A Memoir, the pigs talk and the humans oink. The pigs are more terrified of getting cockamamie diseases from humans than the humans are of getting them from pigs.

One never escapes the feeling in
Pig: A Memoir, that Ortleb has strategically nailed something utterly monstrous that will one day bite us all on the ass, if it hasn't already. This provocative and hilarious book is as wild and crazy as a fox. A literary and philosophical torch has been passed from Orwell to Ortleb. The world has a new classic.

Charles Ortleb was the first publisher and editor-in-chief to provide the world with extensive coverage of AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at a time when most of the media was looking the other way. He is the author of The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic Cover-up
, the definitive history of the AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome epidemic.

“An unusual treatment of dark deeds, with compelling fiction drawing the reader, skillfully and entertainingly, into thinking about things they never thought to think about before. A Hogarthian romp into a chaotic world, that we have all heard about, but probably never needed to know—until now!”
-- Pat Gardiner, English author of the blog Animal Epidemics

An excerpt from the opening of Pig: A Memoir.

The Great Pig Pen

     So in the beginning, there were approximately 180 beautiful and handsome (or at least interesting) swine in The Great Pig Pen, a place that, in general, many of the inhabitants thought must be the most pleasant place on earth, except for the occasional day or night when it wasn’t. The members of the herd could not be faulted if they thought the good times would never end. They only knew what they knew.
     The more spiritual (or superstitious) members of the herd were convinced that they were blessed by The Almighty Hog and that they were occasionally tempted to do wrong by The Invisible Evil Pig Devil.
      The Invisible Evil Pig Devil was something piglets were taught to believe in and fear almost from birth. He was a totally nefarious supernatural pig who could never be seen, but was always trying to inspire them to do wrong—acts that usually involved porcine disrespect or disobedience. And The Invisible Evil Pig Devil’s nefariousness was not confined to pig pens. He was also a bad actor in the human world, and some pigs considered him responsible for any horrible thing humans did to pigs. Luckily, the Boss family, by and large, did not seem to be under the influence of The Invisible Evil Pig Devil. At least not at first.
     The Invisible Evil Pig Devil was quite useful to the Council of Wise Porcine Elders. He was a very helpful icon for keeping rambunctious piglets in line. If any of the piglets were tempted to annoy their parents or the Wise Council of Porcine Elders, The Invisible Evil Pig Devil was responsible, and if he succeeded in making them do something they would regret, he would use his invisible powers to take them out of The Great Pig Pen into the human world where terrible—never totally specified—things would happen
    Beyond the fence that surrounded the herd, long and picturesque stretches of farmland extended into a dark, mysterious forest, which the denizens of The Great Pig Pen called “The Real World.” Such a place fascinated and filled the herd with anxiety. Whatever happened there was beyond the Domestic Pigs’ wildest imaginations and was left to the province of the Wild Boars, who somehow seemed to be able to negotiate its perplexing unknowns.
     Porcine life ebbed and flowed with the changing seasons, and most of the pigs in The Great Pig Pen were able to lead fulfilling lives doing what normal pigs do. As overlords go, Mr. and Mrs. Boss and their five very sickly children were kind and generous, considering that they were human beings and always dealing with one illness or another.
     Having said this, it must be noted that Sunday mornings at The Great Pig Pen were sometimes anxiety-provoking for the herd, because a toxic odor emanated from the farmhouse: bacon. But the herd had generally learned to deny what they were smelling. They pretended it was a kind of human flatulence one just didn’t acknowledge in polite porcine company. The Council of Wise Porcine Elders tried several times to convince the herd that the Boss family liked to burn a very unique kind of incense on Sunday mornings after coming home from church. This became known, in some astute circles in The Great Pig Pen, as the Council’s eggs-and-bacon cover-up.
     Some kind of plentiful but questionable pig food (technically referred to as “slop”) was always available to the herd, which many of the pigs loved. When Mrs. Boss poured the colorful mix from a large bag and told all of the pigs how good this recipe was for all of them, JoJo, the perpetually contrarian pig, was never impressed. “I can’t believe they expect us to eat this crap,” he would say. “I’d rather find something interesting in the dump. If they end up eating any of us, I hope we all taste like this slop and they get sick as can be!”
     Sadly, some of the herd had suffered a fate described in The Great Pig Pen as “Passing into Ham.” Everyone in the herd knew at least one doomed pig that had “passed into ham.” The Council and some astute adult pigs had no illusions about what the term meant. But to preserve their sanity, the pigs were able simultaneously to know the truth and to share in the herd’s manner of softening the harsh reality that the expression implied by simply trying to think about something else.
     “Passing into Ham” was, for Professor Gable IX, proof that the deadly human habit of euphemism had infected the domestic pigs.  At Moonlight University, he sometimes made his students shiver when he mockingly used the expression “passing into sausage or cassoulet.”
     In one of his more poetic moments, Professor Gable IX said, “Domestic Pigs are magicians. One minute you see them, and the next minute you don’t.”
     Given how sociable pigs are, it is difficult to chronicle all of the complicated interactions among a very diverse group which included, among others, Pig, Cuchi-Cuchi, Mother and Father Gizmo, Aunt Mathilda and her girls, The Council of Wise Porcine Elders, Mythos (Clarence) The Pig Laureate, Omni The Total Information Pig, Esmeralda The Issues Pig, JoJo and The Mean Pigs, Tulip The Gardening Pig, Jasmine the Yodeler, Professor Gable IX The Wild Boar, Mayor Chow and his wife, Sassafras, Hermione and Buster Hognacious, Rufus, Coppelia The Beautiful, Veranda The Bitter Spinster Pig, Gunther the herd’s psychologist, epidemiologist, bioethicist, and mime, Tiggly-Wiggly, and Skinny Mimi The Vomiting Pig. But given the significance of what happened in The Great Pig Pen, an attempt to register the members of the heard had to be made.

One Fine Day in March

    Because Cuchi-Cuchi often got up very early every morning before her older brother Pig (his real name) had completed his shuteye, she was practically glued to the gate of the fence when Mr. Boss arrived with the vet and other mysterious, important-looking people—often in white coats or business suits—who always appeared to be filled with consternation. She listened to everything they said, because they were usually discussing very complicated pig diseases, and that was a subject extremely dear to Cuchi-Cuchi’s heart.
     The talking-tos that Pig gave to Cuchi-Cuchi were usually very curative, but perhaps his most difficult medical intervention occurred when he saved her from “Porcine Spongiform Encephalopathy,” which she decided she had contracted after she heard one of Mr. Boss’s discussions with several vets and USDAers at the fence. It took almost a day of lecturing her, but by the end of his efforts, she was good to go.
     One morning, she came bounding excitedly toward sleepy Pig, squealing, “We have Swine Mystery Disease! We have Swine Mystery Disease!” Nothing picked up Cuchi-Cuchi’s spirits more than a brand new diagnosis, especially if it was thought to be terminal.
     “We have what?” asked Pig.
     “Swine Mystery Disease. It’s all over the county. It’s very serious.”
     “What exactly is it?” an increasingly annoyed Pig asked.
     “They don’t know. That’s why it’s called Swine Mystery Disease.”
     “That sounds very silly,” said Pig.
     “Oh, no it isn’t,” Cuchi-Cuchi exclaimed. “I suspect that I’m going to get it or I’ve already contracted it. Pig, please look at my tongue. Do I feel warm to you?”
     “How do you know anything about this Swine Mystery Disease?” asked Pig.
     She sniffily replied, “Didn’t I say that it’s called Swine Mystery Disease? It’s a complete mystery. It’s a mysterious mystery!”
     Pig was worried that their younger brother, the beloved piglet, Bambino, would develop a biomedical imagination like Cuchi-Cuchi’s. A few weeks before this, Cuchi-Cuchi had awakened Pig, saying, “Pig, I think I have porcine epigenetic!” Pig knew that she had probably picked those words up while listening to Mr. Boss and some scientist in a tight suit with highwater pants, but he didn’t even know what they meant. He just assured Cuchi-Cuchi that there was no way she could have “porcine epigenetics.”
     Swine Mystery Disease was definitely something Pig would have to discuss that night with Professor Gable IX at Moonlight University.
     But Pig still had to get through the rest of the day, which always culminated in Mrs. Boss’s evening serenade. Every night, after doing the dinner dishes, Mrs. Boss came out in her apron at twilight with a bucket of treats and stood at the gate singing, “Oh, Piggy Boy,” which she sang to the tune of “Oh, Danny Boy.”
     Oh, Piggy Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling      From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.      The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,      'Tis you, 'Tis you must go and I must bide.      But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,      Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow,      For I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow—
     Oh, Piggy Boy, oh, Piggy Boy, I love you so!
It didn’t matter how many times Sassafras and Cuchi-Cuchi heard it—it always made them swoon. But whenever Pig saw Mrs. Boss barreling across the way toward The Great Pig Pen, he always muttered under his breath, “Oh, brother!” and headed to a far corner of The Great Pig Pen to work on his assignments for the night’s class at Moonlight University.
     Pig was generally fond of Mrs. Boss, but there was an unbearable sadness about her that sometimes forced him to look away and try to think about something else.
     Mrs. Boss had a domineering older sister who often visited from a farm in another county, and she was clearly very competitive with Mrs. Boss. Mrs. Boss had five chronically ill children, so, as a consequence, her older sister had to have six chronically ill children, and she insisted that her children were even more seriously ill, so she was constantly making her point at the gate (and some of the pigs could hear this all too clearly) that she deserved more sympathy because she obviously had a much harder row to hoe in life. Both women were always referring to a couple of their children as their “special needs darlin’s.” It was not uncommon for them to argue over which of them had more children on what they called “the autism spectrum.”
   Cuchi-Cuchi always made sure to be standing close to the two sisters when they conversed. She never knew when she would pick up a new disease threat she feared might pass from all of the sick children to her and the rest of the herd. Each child almost seemed to be an epidemic unto himself. Thus far, Cuchi-Cuchi had learned she might be in danger of contracting chronic fatigue syndrome, lyme disease, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, autism, Asperger’s, juvenile diabetes, cognitive dysfunction, drug sensitivity, brain damage, AIDS, focal paresis, loss of libido (Pig had a hard time explaining that one), shrinking limbs, strep throat, tongue discoloration, seizures, mood swings, transient blindness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mysterious weight gain and mysterious weight loss. And those were just the ones she could remember hearing the sisters heatedly discuss.
     Whenever Mrs. Boss’s sister visited, Pig always had a great deal of clarifying and disease-debunking to do with Cuchi-Cuchi. He often didn’t know where to begin. Cuchi-Cuchi would diagnose herself, and then Pig would have to patiently undiagnose her.
    On an almost weekly basis, Mrs. Boss’s children were taken to the doctor’s or a hospital for one medical test or another—even the ones who didn’t seem to be obviously ill. Omni The Total Information Pig reported to the Council that Mrs. Boss had spoken to her sister about the brain-imaging that had been performed on her children showing that most of them had something wrong with some vital part of their grey matter. Her older sister had to make one of her predictable comments that “the apples didn’t fall far from the tree,” but Mrs. Boss threw the whole thing back in her sister’s face by pointing out that her sister’s children often acted stranger and more brain-damaged than her own. “I wouldn’t talk, if I were you, Sister,” Mrs. Boss said.
     The two women often discussed how finicky their children’s eating habits were and how they constantly had to change their diets. They both talked a great deal about the “milestones” that their “special needs darlin’s” had missed.
     One of Mrs. Boss’s children, Teddy, was always standing around in strange contorted postures that the herd had never seen before in humans. Sometimes it seemed as if Teddy were bent over in extreme pain. Clearly, something was seriously wrong with Teddy. Often he would run in circles like Tiggly-Wiggly (one of the Chow’s troubled sons), or he would just lie flat on the ground or on the top of the picnic table staring up at the sky making bird sounds. Sometimes he had to be pulled away from other children his age because he was trying to bite or scratch them. Aunt Mathilda, Pig’s mother’s older sister (more about her later), took a special interest in the fact that Teddy was still wearing a diaper at the age of seven. There were disturbing occasions when he would suddenly start hitting himself for no reason. Once, when little Teddy was striking himself, Mr. Boss went into the house and found a pair of handcuffs to put on him.
     Teddy looked much younger than his chronological age. Sometimes it seemed as if he were being starved to death, but that was because he often refused to eat. Cuchi-Cuchi worried so much about him that she sometimes pushed her carrot treats to the fence, hoping Teddy would pick them up and eat them, which he usually did, to the great dismay of Mrs. Boss.
     Mrs. Boss was always complaining to her sister about their children’s fragile, damaged immune systems. She once said they were like “cookies that had crumbled.” And on more than one occasion she exclaimed, “Our kids have more infections and co-infections than there are ears of corn in Kansas!” The sisters also had many spats about their own illness, which they called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. One day Cuchi-Cuchi and Omni listened intently as they fought bitterly over something called “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome neuroimmune subsets.” Mrs. Boss’s older sister had said, “I really think they’re finally getting somewhere with this dynamic neuroimmune subset theory of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I’m even more hopeful about it than the string theory of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Mrs. Boss immediately shot a wicked glance at her older sister and said, “You’ve never heard a single flaky idea about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that you didn’t jump on. I have a list, Sister.”
     According to Omni, Mrs. Boss complained to her sister that she believed any silly notion about their medical predicament that came out of the government, and yet she refused to see what was happening before her very eyes in the barnyard. Omni had heard Mrs. Boss yelling at her sister, “Oh yeah, a nation of mysteriously sick pigs has absolutely nothing to do with a nation of mysteriously sick children and adults.”
     Mrs. Boss often said she was exhausted from keeping an eye on Teddy and her other four children. She wasn’t sure whether that was contributing to her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or whether it had a life of its own.
     The swine in The Great Pig Pen were very aware of the illnesses of the Boss family and feared the panoply of human diseases would spread to them. Many of the pigs were careful not to get too physically close to the Boss children. Boss family members always seemed to be wearing different human disease awareness ribbons. Many of the pigs in the pen had heard Mrs. Boss telling her sister that she thought her children were infected with something that was being passed back and forth between them and was always changing. Some of the more nervous pigs literally started avoiding the family like the plague.
     Cuchi-Cuchi took a special interest in Teddy, because he was Mrs. Boss’s youngest and she didn’t think he got the respect from the other children that he deserved. Teddy reminded her of her little piglet brother, adorable Bambino, who constantly followed her around. She was horrified one day when she watched Teddy at a picnic refusing to eat anything and, as a consequence, having a hot dog jammed into his mouth by Mr. Boss. She couldn’t imagine forcing something from the garbage dump down Bambino’s mouth.
     Mrs. Boss and her older sister occasionally talked about the serious digestive problems their children had, like Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It was always “inflammatory” this and “inflammatory” that. The two sisters sometimes prayed at the fence together for their children, which was the only time they weren’t at each other’s throats.
     Professor Gable IX was the first one to give a name to Teddy’s problem. After hearing many descriptions of Teddy’s behavior and health issues, he said, “Oh, pshaw! It’s autism. Plain and simple. Your little friend Teddy is autistic. It’s all over the country. It’s been happening for a number of years. I’ve heard about this from Wild Boars living in every part of this country. One Wild Boar told me recently he heard from some Wild Boars from South America who had crossed Mexico and made it over the Texas border that autism was happening in children all over the countries down there. (Every country had its own peculiar name for it.) And they heard from some Portuguese Wild Boars that it was spreading in humans throughout Europe and Russia and China. The only place I haven’t heard much about is Africa, but not too many Wild Boars have been coming over from there ever since the end of the slave trade. I love that humans don’t think it’s a contagious epidemic. Typical. Students, you must never emulate the humans! Just connect the dots and acknowledge the obvious.”

That Night

     Part One of the lecture that night was drawn from one of Gable IX projects, “A History of Porcine Ideas,” which he thought would completely alter the way pigs looked at porcine history and philosophy. Part Two became one of Pig’s favorites. It was on “The Deep History of What Humans Have Done to Pigs.” It went all the way back to the beginning of humanity, and it wasn’t pretty. Everything had been quite grim from the time pigs were hunted by unwashed cavemen with spears. Gable IX recounted how pigs were put on trial during the Middle Ages. They were even dug up from graves and put in the docket for questioning (their porcine silence was considered a sign of guilt) and condemnation before they were executed, and, if they didn’t look and smell too funky, they were eaten by the officials of the court.
     After fretting all day about the new mysterious swine illness, Pig waited anxiously until after class to consult with Professor Gable IX. When he grasped what Pig was saying, the Professor’s ears shot straight up in the air.
     “Well, I’ll be,” he said. “That’s a good one. Swine Mystery Disease! What will they think of next? Why don’t they just call it, ‘Do You Think We’re All Stupid Disease?’” he exclaimed.
      “What do you mean, Professor?” Pig asked.
     “Pig, do you remember my lecture on human euphemisms?”
     “Yes, sir.”
    “Well, this one is a doozy. And I'll bet it’s not the last euphemism for you-know-what?”
     “Are you referring to what I think you’re referring to?”
     “Very good, Pig. You get extra credit points tonight.” Professor Gable IX urged Pig to try to get up earlier in the morning to see if he could get more direct information that hadn't been miscommunicated by Cuchi-Cuchi’s very active imagination. The Professor said, “Go now. I have some serious porcine thinking to do.”
     When Pig returned to his family’s nest in the dark, he could hear the unmistakable, all-too-familiar sound of a sow vomiting in the distance. It was coming from a slightly disturbed pig in the herd referred to as Skinny Mimi The Vomiting Pig. Everyone was always worried that she might be taken away because she was much too thin, and, for a pig, that made her look sickly and therefore vulnerable to human whims. It was difficult for her to hide that, after just about every meal at the garbage pit, or even after wolfing down some of the Mistress’s treats, she excused herself to what she thought was a secluded part of The Great Pig Pen, where she usually found a stick she could maneuver down her throat until she vomited profusely. Bizarrely, Skinny Mimi The Vomiting Pig loved her nickname, and was sure all the other female pigs were secretly quite envious of her unique porcine shape. She was convinced her leanness would attract a very special suitor, but Pig was convinced she would end up with a very inappropriate mate—if any mate at all. There was just something about Skinny Mimi The Vomiting Pig that said, “Big problems here, stay away!” And when all of the disasters and stress began to mount in The Great Pig Pen, Skinny Mimi The Vomiting Pig was throwing up even before she ate anything.
     Earlier that morning, the Council of Wise Porcine Elders had been briefed on Swine Mystery Disease and, after vigorously debating whether a working group or a committee would be more appropriate, they decided to create a high-level Porcine Committee on Swine Mystery Disease to deal with the impending crisis.

The Backstory

     The Council of Wise Porcine Elders was frequently huddled in very private meetings, located in what was considered a sacrosanct area of The Great Pig Pen that ordinary members of the herd were never supposed to go near. It was stocked with the best treats from the garbage dump. (Being in charge of The Great Pig Pen had its privileges.) If choice bits of pumpkin, broccoli, or lettuce were ever spotted in the dump, they were immediately transported to the Council’s privileged area of The Great Pig Pen. And when any pig found corn cobs in the dump with the corn still intact, they would be reprimanded if they did not immediately turn over the cobs to the Council. Corn kernels visibly stuck between the teeth of one of the members of The Council of Wise Porcine Elders when they were pronouncing a stern directive or holding a pig-pen-wide communal meeting were considered a major indication of their social status in the herd.
     Whenever there was troubling news that the herd had to be prevented from knowing, The Council of Wise Porcine Elders summoned all of the adult pigs to attend an all-barnyard meeting. The piglets were shepherded to the far end of The Great Pig Pen so they could not hear any alarming news. Few things were harder to control on a farm than a frightened or hysterical piglet.
     Domestic pigs require a credible narrative to explain what is going on around them. The Council constantly strove to concoct one for the herd, and the task of presenting their fabrications to the assembled pigs usually fell to Wise Elder Gunther, The Great Pig Pen’s psychologist, epidemiologist, bioethicist, and mime. He felt that he always practiced porcine psychology, epidemiology, and ethics in an objective, professional manner. Within limits. He and the rest of The Council of Wise Porcine Elders felt it was his responsibility to present believable, scientific-sounding information to the herd in a credible, flamboyant manner that didn’t cause panic or stress, which epidemiologists everywhere consider their main public health duty. It had to be done, no matter what it took—fudge the data, shade the truth, spin and finagle, dilly-dally, employ distracting squealing and oinking—just do whatever the porcine public health crisis required. After the welfare of the Council, the welfare of the herd always came first. Wise Porcine Elder Pigbottom (whom Gable IX once described to Pig as “an iconically stupid swine”) often summed up the Council’s policy by saying, “Public health is public information and vice versa.” Thus, porcine public health in The Great Pig Pen became anything the Wise Council of Porcine Elders said it was. And whatever they said it was had to be planted in the minds of the herd by Wise Porcine Elder Mason Jar The Opinion Leader Pig. It fell to him to instill the permissible opinions in the the herd once the Council had decided what exactly those were. He sometimes worked closely with Wise Porcine Elder Stanley The Disinformation Pig, whose job it was to spread rumors in the herd that would undermine the credibility and reputation of anyone who didn’t adopt the opinions planted by Wise Porcine Elder Mason Jar.
     Although The Council of Wise Porcine Elders always presented themselves as the true, once-upon-a-time-elected—but nobody could remember when—voice of the herd, its members seemed to have arrived at their positions by simply being born into a line of presumptuous pigs extending back to ancestors who had appointed themselves to the very first prehistoric Councils of Wise Porcine Elders. Pig thought there was something exceedingly odd about that arrangement. It was very peculiar that the Council was viewed as permanent. No pig ever seemed even to think about protesting it. Pig had grown up with some of the porcine sons of the Council, and he shuddered to think that one day that loosey-goosey gang (especially Tiggly-Wiggly) would be running The Great Pig Pen. He wouldn’t have let some of them even run the garbage dump. He couldn’t imagine taking orders or directions from them, so he increasingly resented taking them from their fathers.
     Executive Wise Porcine Elder Cameron Chow—referred to by all in The Great Pig Pen as Elder CamChow or affectionately as Mayor CamChow—heralded from the distinguished line of alpha pigs who always seemed to be chosen by The Council of Wise Porcine Elders to run the show in The Great Pig Pen. The herd overlooked the nepotistic issues involved in the uncanny fact that the Chows always seemed to be in charge, because the family—for the most part—had the barnyard charisma that comes with natural dominance. And they knew how to keep The Great Pen in working order, which meant that the great enemies of pigs everywhere—namely stress, panic and confusion—were kept to a minimum. And they certainly knew how to charm the lady pigs, who all the half-way smart male pigs knew were the real power in The Great Pig Pen. One of the very private sayings in The Council of Wise Porcine Elders was “Keep the gals happy.”
     Pig noticed that the interesting fact about the entire Chow family—and its ancestors—was that they were all a bit cockeyed. He privately wondered if Domestic Pigs were predisposed always to choose cockeyed leaders. And as far as The Wise Council of Porcine Elders was concerned, he didn’t know what was truly meant by the word “choose.”
     There was great concern in the Chow clan because the newest generation wasn’t quite as promising as their predecessors, and many wondered if the torch would ever be successfully passed. Some of the piglets and adolescent pigs were dumber than dogs and there were a few unsavory rumors that Mother Chow had played around behind Wise Top Porcine Elder CamChow’s back with a sexy but intellectually challenged member of the herd and, consequently, that Wise Elder CamChow wasn’t the real source of their progeny’s unpromising qualities. Case in point was Tiggly-Wiggly, the putative eldest son, who had the attention span of a pig who had hit his snout one too many times on the fence of The Great Pig Pen. He thought that running in a circle was an impressive porcine feat. It always exasperated his imposing, quick-witted, and politically astute patriarch. Sons who run in circles are every father’s worst fear. Whenever Tiggly-Wiggly started his antics, Mayor CamChow would lean over to Mother Chow and say, “Would you please tell that moron to stop running in circles! That fool will try to mate with a tree stump if we let him. What inappropriate things did you let him eat in the garbage pit when he was a piglet?” In short, everything that was wrong with their offspring was her fault.
     One afternoon, after Tiggly-Wiggly once again overheard his father saying mocking things about him to his mother, he asked to speak privately to his father, Mayor CamChow.
     Father and son stared into each other’s cockeyes and Tiggly-Wiggly said, “Father. . . I’m . . . sorry . . . I . . . exist.”
     Top Wise Porcine Elder CamChow was too vigorous and proud to shed a single tear, but he came very close. He was stunned. He couldn’t say anything.
     Tiggly-Wiggly unlocked his cockeyes from his father, turned, and walked slowly and sadly away.
     Like any ruling body, The Council of Wise Porcine Elders constantly required exhaustive up-to-the-minute information on what was going on in the herd, and for that they relied on a pig named Omni, the herd’s Total Information Pig. The Elders felt that any smoldering secrets in the herd would put every pig in The Great Pig Pen in potential danger.
     Omni had taught himself to read both human and pig lips. Human lips were easier to read than pig lips because humans didn’t usually speak and munch on stuff from the garbage dump at the same time. Pigs are masters of deceit when it comes to food, so sometimes when they are eating they throw their voices ("Hey, look over here!") to distract anyone who might think of taking a bite out of something appetizing they had spotted in the dump. Omni was even skilled at identifying which pigs in the herd were throwing their voices.
     In order to keep the tightest possible grip on public health, Omni The Total Information Pig had been put in charge of a special Council of Wise Porcine Elders project which was called Operation Total Porcine Information. It was his job to collect every conceivable kind of porcine intelligence about the herd, information that even went way beyond Aunt Mathilda’s daily herd bowel movement inspections. It was his responsibility to pry and peel back every layer of porcine privacy and confidentiality in the herd. The Council had decided that in order to protect the mental well-being of the herd and to prevent the kinds of public health issues that are created by internal disharmony and stress, the Council of Wise Porcine Elders needed to know, not just what every pig did during their waking hours, but they needed to be informed of what every pig in the herd was thinking as well as what they dreamt about at night. Most of the work of The Council of Wise Porcine Elders seemed to consist of piling more work on Omni the Total Information Pig.
     At night, Omni would prowl the sleeping herd that usually slept nose to nose. Omni reported any signs of insomnia to the Council of Wise Porcine Elders. Each morning, he moved quickly and efficiently through the herd, questioning each pig in depth about his or her dreams. Like most living creatures, Domestic Pigs loved to recount their dreams and were flattered that anyone was interested. And each one thought his or her porcine dream was special.
     One night while he was sleeping, Pig suddenly stirred, opened his eyes and saw the unsettling sight of Omni The Total Information Pig standing nearby and staring at the nest of Pig’s entire sleeping family. Pig quickly closed his eyes but Omni saw that Pig wasn’t really sleeping and subsequently referred the matter to the Council which was concerned that any insomnia could be caused by a member of the herd’s guilty conscience for something they had secretly done wrong. The Council did not want there to be any secret wrongdoing in the herd that went unmonitored and unpunished.
     Pig’s distrust of Omni The Total Information Pig was so intense that he always made up his dreams when he was questioned, making them sound harmless but still somewhat interesting. His favorite trick was to tell Omni that he had been nibbling all night on a giant corn cob, one the size of a tree. Omni made a clicking sound with his tongue that implied he thought that was very revealing and walked away.
     Unfortunately, Pig’s sister, Cuchi-Cuchi, more than anyone, cherished being quizzed about her dreams and they were usually about dying painful deaths from diseases she couldn’t even pronounce correctly and certainly didn’t understand. Omni rolled his eyes impatiently every morning as Cuchi-Cuchi started her litany of diseases: One morning she said “Last night was awful. I dreamt I had Elephantiasis, Progeria, Guinea Worm Disease, Ebola, leukemia, lupus, polio, and malaria.” Pig was standing next to her and screamed, “Cuchi-Cuchi, will you please stop memorizing every disease you hear about while listening to the doctors who visit the pen! You’ll be sorry. You’ll end up getting one of these diseases because you talk about them so much. You’re the healthiest pig in this pen. You’ve got to get ahold of yourself.”
      “How do you know, Pig? Something terminal could be developing in me right now and I might not make it through the week.”
      The first time Omni diligently reported all of Cuchi-Cuchi’s illness dreams to the Council,  they snorted and choked with laughter. Subsequently, he kept Cuchi-Cuchi’s far-fetched biomedical dreams to himself. He secretly wondered if Cuchi-Cuchi was deliberately making fun of him and setting him up for embarrassment during his briefings with the Council, and if so, whether Pig was secretly behind the maneuver. He did not trust Pig. But, luckily for Pig, Omni was deathly afraid of Pig’s Aunt Mathilda.
     The very formidable Aunt Mathilda was known and feared in the herd as an omnipresent, all-seeing matriarch who always kept a close watch on her children’s digestive regularity and related matters. She had the habit of frequently asking her growing brood—especially the girls—if they were having good bowel movements. In fact, she was uninhibited about embarrassing all the other young piglets in the herd with the question, “How are your movements?” This wasn’t always fully comprehended because when she first asked Cuchi-Cuchi about her “movements,” Cuchi started showing her all her recently-mastered dance steps. “No, silly pig,” Aunt Mathilda screamed, “I mean your bowel movements!” And needless to say, even Aunt Mathilda’s questions sounded outrageously invasive and inappropriate to her younger sister, Mother Gizmo.
    In the winter, special huts were brought into The Great Pig Pen to help shield the herd from the snow and wind. One small hut was always designated by the herd as “Aunt Mathilda’s hut,” not because she resided there, but because that was the only place the herd would do its business during the winter. It became Aunt Mathilda’s winter observation post.
     Truth be told, bowel movements in pigs are not of minor importance. Pig knew this from Gable IX’s disturbing lectures on Montgomery Disease. One of the first tell-tale symptoms of Montgomery’s Disease was what Gable IX referred to as loose bowel movements. Or even more ominous—blood in the bowel movements. Pig never told Cuchi-Cuchi about this particular symptom because Cuchi was always discussing her concern about her digestion. But as a result of this particular lecture, Pig himself was always anxious whenever he had an upset stomach from eating a rotten apple core or nibbling on a mystery snack from the dump.
     Since Aunt Mathilda—who was by nature a loud, judgmental busybody of a sow—kept a close watch on the entire herd’s bowel movements, she was quite useful to Omni The Total Information Pig. She often noticed changes in the herd’s bowel movements, which he knew could often indicate a potential disease threat to the herd, and she usually reported these promptly to Omni The Total Information Pig, who then prepared a special advisory for the Council of Wise Porcine Elders. Omni the Information Pig had no need to fear any pig in the herd since he had the goods on everyone, but there was one pig he was very careful not to offend and that was Aunt Mathilda, because she watched both him and his bowel movements like a hawk. And he knew that in a pinch she would not be afraid to go over his head. He officially deputized her as The Senior Bowel Movement Total Information Officer of the herd, in an effort to keep her as close to him as possible.
     The other male members of the herd knew better than to mess with a three-hundred-pound angry sow. Whenever Aunt Mathilda got irate over something, the whole herd got out of her way and headed to the far end of The Great Pig Pen. Omni had never experienced her rage first hand, but he had seen it from a distance enough times to make it a point always to accede to Aunt Mathilda’s wishes.
     If the full Council of Wise Porcine Elders was not immediately available, Omni made sure that any urgent information from Aunt Mathilda was always delivered to Wise Porcine Elder Gunther, the herd’s psychologist, epidemiologist, bioethicist, and mime.
     All early education of the piglets and adolescent pigs was provided by the Wise Council of Porcine Elders and their assistants. But what was referred to as senior swine education, and was only provided to the smartest and highest achieving young pigs, consisted of intense lectures at Moonlight University. These were conducted by seasoned Wild Boars who lived outside The Great Pig Pen in all the hiding places they could find in “The Real World.” The entire Council of Wise Porcine Elders had received their own advanced education in that way, only because they had been born into a ruling dynasty, rather than as a result of any accomplishments of their own. The Domestic Pigs hated to admit it, but only the much smarter Wild Boars could introduce their young and promising pigs to the nature of life beyond The Great Pig Pen and all the complications, issues, and challenges that it entailed. The hope that would never fade away—a foolish one, perhaps—was that their progeny would lead freer, more productive and satisfying lives than they did. What was left unsaid was that this really meant that such a result would occur only in the very unlikely event that they somehow escaped from The Great Pig Pen and forged their own destiny, not the most pleasant thought for parents who loved the litters which they thought The Almighty Hog had provided. The parents knew in their hearts that the comfort and safety of The Great Pig Pen provided the solace of a porcine prison. While Domestic Pigs were not as smart as The Wild Boars, they were certainly not brain dead.
     Higher education for the smartest and best-connected pigs was something guaranteed by the herd’s Porcine Constitution. Pigs only have a very long oral—sometimes verbose—tradition, so their Porcine Constitution was truly a living, breathing, long-winded document subject to the whims of any constitutional expert in the Council of Wise Porcine Elders who was doing the “remembering” at the time. Some of the Elders continually insisted that their Porcine Constitution was a permanent thing inspired by The Almighty Hog, that must never change one iota, and as could be expected, its values and notions always seemed to coincide with the interests of the current Wise Council of Porcine Elders. “We must never make things up as we go along,” they often warned each other as they creatively made things up as they went along. The sole instructor at Moonlight University, Professor Gable IX, who was a huge, aristocratic looking Wild Boar with a white stripe on one of his ears, thought that the Elders’ take on their unchangeable Porcine Constitution was hilarious.
    Gable IX had been assigned—by his fierce tribe of Wild Boars—the Moonlight University teaching assignment at The Great Pig Pen, a post that he found thoroughly rewarding, because he loved the attention and enthusiasm of the five very special students he was charged with: Latoya, JoJo, Tulip, Pig, and Jasmine The Yodeling Pig. He was especially fond of Pig, the one he thought had the brightest future, even if he was just a Domestic Pig. He loved the hunger for knowledge he saw gleaming in all of his students’ beady little eyes. It was exhilarating to be able to provide diverse lectures to such a grateful and focused group of Domestic Pigs, talks on topics that included “The Metaphysical Difference Between Wild Boars and Domestic Pigs,” “The Porcine History of the World,” “The Complete Swine Liberal Arts,” “Drawing and Sculpting in the Mud,” and “Pigonomics,” which expanded his students’ knowledge of the numbers they would need to know in order to conduct negotiations over who got what to eat at the garbage dump and how to survive their interactions with the human race and other difficult species. The introductory mathematics lecture of that course established the fact that one was the exact number of humans it took to endanger a Domestic Pig and any number over that made things even dicier.
      Several times during classes at Moonlight University, Gable IX told the students, “I’m only interested in thinking and saying the unprecedented. We must all try to be pithy. The unquotable porcine life is not worth living.” Like many serious teachers, Gable IX had an ambitious secret project that he was afraid to share with his Wild Boar colleagues, but did feel safe discussing confidentially with his very best students, which in this case was Pig. Thus did Pig learn about Gable IX’s magnum opus, “Metapigology, the Unified Theory of Every Porcine-related Thing Since the Beginning of Time.” The other great intellectual project that Gable IX had was “The Porcine Theory of Humanity.” He said that he expected the theory would be very depressing and the fact that the Gable family had its roots in the Black Forests of southern Germany may have created the conditions in his very soul from which such a grim theory would originate. There was a saying that had been passed down through generations of Gables: “We ponder as we wonder and we wonder as we ponder.” Pig had trouble following terms like “porcine-being-in-the-human-world” or “Porcine Thereness” that Professor Gable IX used when he really got going on his theories. Gable was always talking about the importance of listening closely in silence to “Porcine Being of Being.” Pig often said to himself, “Whatever that is, it must be something good.”
     Gable IX had a special reverence for the preternatural and the serendipitous. He thought that it was uncanny even to be alive as a Wild Boar capable of traveling the whole world with all the wisdom necessary (for the most part) to outsmart the duplicitous and murderous humans. And he never stopped being grateful for the serendipity that had always seemed to put him in the right place at the right time, and more importantly, never in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Gable IX sometimes described his classes—which started late at night at the back fence so he could make a quick getaway if any humans spotted him—as a “One Wild Boar University of Moi.” To know Gable IX well was to know that his favorite lecture was “Liars: an Analysis of Human History and Civilization.” The Professor began his seminal lecture with four maxims that he said summed up the nature of humanity:
     1. Humans lie about everything.
     2. Humans always speak in euphemisms.
     3. Even when they are telling the truth, humans are lying.
     4. Through lying and cheating, humans have created an epidemiological madhouse.
     Pig loved the way that Professor Gable IX spoke so authoritatively and paradoxically when he lectured. The lectures usually gave him something to think about, and Pig wondered whether he would be smart enough to be paradoxical and metaphysical himself one day.
     Pig always feared failing to meet Gable IX’s exacting standards. The Professor did not gladly suffer porcine fools. Whenever any members of the class said anything that the professor thought was egregiously stupid, he shouted, “Stop being a pig in a blanket!” The very first time he said that, he had to explain the origins of the insult to the class: “A pig in a blanket is what happens when you are exterminated and turned into a pathetic greasy little sausage full of strange kinds of fillers and all kinds of chemicals and then stuffed into some very cheap white dough, then tossed in the oven and browned. Human families really love to do that to you on Christmas mornings.”
     Upon hearing that warning, one of the advanced students, Jasmine the Yodeling Pig, felt like she needed to lie down.
     The subject Professor Gable IX wasn’t too keen on was porcine theology. It is widely known that, compared to Wild Boars, Domestic Pigs are intensely sentimental and superstitious. Wild Boars believed that too much sentimentality and superstition could turn them into a stuffed head on a mantelpiece. The closest Gable IX could come to any form of worship of a higher porcine power was to pronounce his unshakable belief that things happen when they want to happen. Time and fate were the only mysteries that inspired anything that might pass for reverence in him. He thought that there was something serendipitous about the when of things. Time was the territory his mind wandered around endlessly, trying to grasp its porcine essence. The chronological nature of a pig’s life fascinated him. He sometimes thought that time was the very soul of porcine being. The when of things was far more powerful a concept to him than the images of The Almighty Hog or The Invisible Evil Pig Devil, which so many of the gullible Domestic Pigs saw by connecting stars in the sky. When Gable IX looked at stars he saw stars. They were wonderful enough for him. For him, time and timing were everything. You could say that the when of things was the force that Gable IX was always on the brink of grasping. But he could never penetrate the when enough with his mind to begin to figure out how to do that. The lecture at Moonlight University that presented all of his evolving ideas on the subject was entitled “The Zany When of Destiny.”
     Gable IX was determined to give his students the knowledge they would need to survive and thrive as adult pigs. “Transparency, clarity, accountability, integrity, and communication have been essential to the survival of Wild Boars,” insisted Professor Gable IX. “Let that be a lesson to all you Domestic Pigs.”
     Given the pervasive health threats that pigs faced, the most important course that Professor Gable IX taught was on the emerging medical issues of the porcine community. He always urged the class to pay close attention, because their own lives might depend on the information about the kinds of germs and human public health shenanigans that threatened them—as well as the entire herd.
     The first—and most disturbing—medical lecture that Gable IX gave was on the dreaded Montgomery’s Disease. When he was finished, the overwhelmed students stared in stunned silence and their pig flesh turned as white as the first snow of an Iowa winter. They all had nightmares for many nights after the lecture. They would never forget the nature and history of Montgomery’s Disease that they had learned about in the introductory lecture. They were not happy to hear that Professor Gable IX planned more harrowing presentations on the subject.
     Professor Gable IX explained to his class that Montgomery’s Disease had been discovered in East Africa by a guy named R.E. Montgomery in 1921. The disease, according to Gable IX, had originally been called East African Swine Plague. The disease had initially infected warthogs and had evolved into something that no longer made the warthogs sick. But a tragic event occurred when, regrettably, Domestic Pigs were introduced to that part of Africa in the 1960s. The Domestic Pigs rapidly became deathly ill when they came in direct contact with the infected-but-not-sick warthogs.
     Gable IX explained that Montgomery’s Disease was constantly changing and you never knew what it was going to do next. He said that the one thing Domestic Pigs really had to watch out for was ticks, because they bit the Wild Boars, sucked their infected blood, and then when they moved on to Domestic Pigs they infected them with the virus that they had feasted on. Ticks were a very efficient delivery system for the disease to move from Wild Boars to Domestic Pigs. “Ticks are like vampires! This is a total nightmare. It’s horrifying things like this that make thoughtful pigs wonder if there really is an Almighty Hog.” But he didn’t like to get into theological matters too deeply, because it often ended up offending the porcine parents of his students. He hated nothing more than parent-teacher conferences with Domestic Pigs.
     Gable IX warned that the real problem was that while Wild Boars could carry the Montgomery’s Disease virus without getting sick, once domestic pigs came in contact with them, the virus would be transmitted into their bodies and would tear them apart organ by organ. The Professor said, “That is one of the reasons the relationship between Wild Boars and Domestic Pigs has been so tricky. You Domestic Pigs love what we can teach you about 'The Real World' out there, but your kind are generally a little nervous whenever we’re around.”
     Gable IX urged the class to pay close attention as he spelled out what the disease did to the bodies of Domestic Pigs. He said that the virus that was eventually discovered to be the cause of Montgomery’s Disease was so fast-acting and lethal that the immune systems of infected pigs were quickly overwhelmed, and the Domestic Pigs developed what Gable IX referred to as “Acquired Immune Deficiency Disease of Pigs, or Porcine AIDS.” He made the class repeat the term several times so that they would never forget it. Together his five advanced porcine students recited: “Acquired Immune Deficiency Disease of Pigs, Acquired Immune Deficiency of Pigs, Acquired Immune Deficiency of Pigs. Porcine AIDS, Porcine AIDS.” The words began to give Pig a slight headache.
     Nothing amused Gable IX more than the stories that had circulated among Wild Boars for years about the human efforts to develop an effective vaccine against Montgomery’s Disease. He called it “one of the most entertaining episodes in the very crowded history of human stupidity.” He said, “Some human moron tried to make a live vaccine for Montgomery’s Disease in Portugal and many of the vaccinated pigs developed all kinds of atrocious reactions like pneumonia, disgusting, disfiguring skin ulcers, spontaneous abortions, and all manner of other problems. They even had trouble walking. Many died.” He continued, “And the craziest thing was that those who survived were carriers of a brand new strain of the Montgomery Disease virus that developed from being infected with the live strain of the virus." Professor Gable IX concluded, “Humans are great at one specialty, namely, making things worse.”
     Pig raised his right hoof and asked Professor Gable IX if the Council of Wise Porcine Elders knew about Montgomery’s Disease, and Gable IX responded, “Of course they do. It’s a required lecture at Moonlight University. They just have adopted the same bad habit as humans. They don’t want to talk about it. They always find something else to discuss and distract the herd’s attention.”
     Gable IX explained that stress and anxiety played a major role in the disease process if a pig was lucky enough to survive an initial infection with the virus that caused Montgomery Disease. “That’s something your brilliant Council of Wise Porcine Elders must have learned when they attended Moonlight University many years ago,” he said. “I don’t know which Wild Boar was unlucky enough to have to teach that gang, but I’m sure they were schooled in the basics of Montgomery’s Disease. And they all know about the dangers of porcine stress. That’s why they feel they have to control everything the herd thinks or says. They think of it as a medical intervention. I’m sure they think that dissent and doubt are an infectious disease against which the herd must be vaccinated with directives, advisories, and hokum.”
     At the end of each class, Gable IX, who supposedly could speak 30 different porcine languages fluently, always said to the class “boo, boo,” which is “Oink, oink” in Japanese.
     That night, Pig had many nightmares, and the phrases “Acquired Immune Deficiency Disease of Pigs” and “Porcine AIDS” kept repeating themselves over and over in his head like one of the catchy songs made up by Mythos (Clarence) the Pig Laureate that were sung at memorial services in The Great Pig Pen.
     Every time a pig was mysteriously taken from The Great Pig Pen and not returned, the Council on the Elders held a special memorial service to try and keep the emotions of the herd under control. There is much theoretical debate about grief and pigs, and while there are those people who work in slaughter houses who have seen numb pigs march to their deaths (they called them “dead pigs walking”), those who have raised them and believe they have intimate knowledge about their feelings and sensitivities, tell a different story. Nothing is more disturbing than when pigs start crying uncontrollably. Deaths and porcine breakups can start the waterworks. Sometimes the sound makes their human owners crazy and they react cruelly and try to slap them quiet, which only creates more reasons for the pigs to cry.
     The Wise Council of Porcine Elders knew that it didn’t matter how much one could control porcine information in the herd, if one lost the ability to shape porcine culture. So they made sure that memorials were the herd’s central cultural and social events. Nothing that transpired in them was left up to chance. Every moment was choreographed.
     The key to the herd’s peace of mind was the aggressive process of manufacturing, orchestrating, and enforcing closure, so after every memorial service Wise Porcine Elder Finito The Closure Pig went to work in order to make sure that each pig had achieved total closure whether they liked it or not. Finito was a very imposing pig, so, generally speaking, closure was not a problem.
     The memorial services always began with a moment of porcine silence, during which the Council asked that there be no squeaks, oinks, squeals, or snorts. Then there followed the “Parade of the Piglets,” a kind of testimony to the herd’s communal belief in the future. The diminutive five-pound piglets looked absolutely adorable doing their ceremonial parade and synchronized jig for the adults. A few of the sows shed tears as they thought about how quickly time would pass and in a flash these five pound cuties would weigh a few hundred pounds and some of them more than that.
     At these memorial services everyone had a chance to talk about their memories of the mysteriously departed pig. Even pigs who didn’t know the lost member of the herd said kind things. Omni The Total Information Pig took careful note of everything that was said. And there was always a point at which Mythos (Clarence), the herd’s Pig Laureate, was asked to recite a poem or sing a song. He usually put something formal on his head—like a discarded pot from the dump—to mark the momentousness of the occasion. A favorite was his composition “After He Was Gone,” or, if it was a sow that had disappeared, “After She Was Gone.” The chorus of the song always moved the herd:
          After he was gone, I loved him.
          After he was gone, I cared.
          After he was gone, I was humble and I shared.
          I became his perfect lover
          After he was gone.
     Although it became one of the herd’s iconic memorial songs, it was originally written by Mythos (Clarence) The Pig Laureate about a boyfriend who left him for a more masculine pig. While everyone in the herd was thinking about the member of the herd that cruelly had been taken from them, Mythos was actually singing about his own personal pig that got away.
     Sometimes, behind his back, Mythos's enemies would make vicious fun of his songs and poems–and The Pig Laureate himself. Some made up their own sarcastic versions and sang or recited them with shoes on top of their heads.
     The only time Veranda (more about her later) had a kind word to say about a male pig was after they were taken away. But she was very fond of Mythos and quite protective of him. At these services, she often becames the most emotional when Mythos sang and sometimes even made a scene.
     Mythos needed all the protection he could get and made sure to keep a close relationship with the biggest and most sympathetic sows, except Aunt Mathilda. He loved to chat with the sows endlessly, but had no interest in siring any litters with them. Some were so attracted to him that they almost wouldn’t take no for an answer.
     Mythos (Clarence) The Pig Laureate had so many songs about lost male lovers that when some of his fellow pigs did the math, there seemed to be more songs of unrequited love than there were male pigs in the herd, which made some suspect that Mythos may have fooled around with some sows when nobody was looking. But Mythos vigorously denied any of that kind of interest in sows whatsoever, which frustrated more than a few of the sows who dreamt of having a porcine poet in their romantic lives.
     It should come as no surprise that Mythos and his sexual orientation had caught the resentful and prejudicial gaze of JoJo and The Mean Pigs. When Gable IX heard about Jojo and The Mean Pigs mocking Mythos (Clarence) The Pig Laureate, he decided it was time to give the class his lecture on porcine samesexers or malelovers and their equivalent in the realm of perpetually horny sows. The lecture was actually quite detailed and covered the unpredictable erotic lives of many other species. Wild Boars had an innate empathy for all the forms of love on the planet. And they had seen everything. Malelovers or samesexers weren’t the half of it. Professor Gable IX said, “From what I and my fellow Wild Boars have observed, nearly all animals, at one time or another, engage in male-on-male love. I’ve heard that alligators may be an exception, but I have my doubts. I don’t think any Wild Boar has gotten close enough to an alligator to check the situation out."
     While there isn’t a male pig who isn’t aroused by two sows nuzzling—and sometimes they even try to join in—some male hogs in the herd were not comfortable around porcine malelovers or samesexers like Mythos. And the fact that so many sows succumbed so easily to the poetic charms and vocal gifts of Mythos quietly enraged many of them. Their own misguided attempts at poetry and songs were generally the most awkward oinks ever heard in The Great Pig Pen.
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