Monday, March 13, 2006

My little addiction

I keep my eyes peeled for news about the bird flu. This article paints a pretty grim picture.

In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States. ...

U.S. spy satellites are tracking the infected flocks, which started in Asia and are now heading north to Siberia and Alaska, where they will soon mingle with flocks from the North American flyways.

"What we're watching in real time is evolution," said Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. "And it's a biological process, and it is, by definition, unpredictable."


Michael Turton said...

Yeah, I'm the same way. There's a great Howard Fast SF story (he wrote first-rate SF and fantasy until he switched to boring potboilers about American history -- ditto for John Jakes) about how aliens visit, but they look like oversize insects so the humans automatically smash them. And so at the end of the story the main character describes how he is calmly waiting for the aliens' inevitable and negative judgment about the human race.

That's how I feel about bird flu.


Anonymous said...

Yo Elliot,

If there have only been around 100 deaths from the bird flu, doesn't that make it much less deadly than the garden variety flu that comes around each winter? Maybe it's just being wary of news-hype, but this sounds to me like SARS all over again. "Everybody panic! Relinquish your civil liberties in the name of protection!"

Just dropped in to comment and say hi. I'm trying to limit my time online, as it seems to be mostly wasted. I wrote a reply to your letter, but then lost it before I could mail it. I will get a new one out next week. Hope all is going well.

Matt Paulk

Anonymous said...

Matt, your logic is impaired. Ordinary flu kills a miniscule percentage of those afflicted, in predictable populations -- the old, the young, the immune-stressed. The odds of dying from ordinary flu are nil for a healthy person. An epidemic of ordinary flu is an annoyance. For bird flu, on the other hand, the odds of death are anywhere from 40-80% for a healthy person getting bird flu. Clearly at the moment the only thing sparing us is that the genetic lottery hasn't hit on a combination that kills many and spreads easily. It will though -- it is just a matter of time.

I don't think Elliot has suggested giving up our civil rights.


Matt said...

Flawed though it may be, it produced my reaction to the hype about bird flu, which I admittedly haven't spent a lot of time researching. I've been too busy with Mad Cow, SARS, ebola, etc. Anyway, I didn't realize that there are now others besides Elliot who write on Elliot's blog, so welcome from a long time reader, first time responder. I think this was my first time.

I didn't intend to suggest that Elliot, or you, as it were, had proposed we give up civil rights. Rather, that most news seems to be bad news, not because all news is so, but because that's the news those with the means choose to give us. Cheerio!

matt...again said...

Forgot a line...and because we are expected to live in fear of this or that, we are then expected to give up freedoms in the name of "protection" from, usually, the government.