Wow.

Okay, okay. I know. I was doing so well there for about a month. Slacker. Been a weird month, give me a break.

But I guess WHO has officially declared a pandemic. So I’m curious to everyone’s thoughts on this.

I haven’t really been following because…well…no one else really has either…right? I mean it’s kind of fallen out of the news…

I wonder if this will cause a reboot in news and panic?

Nearly 30,000 infected, but only 141 confirmed deaths….

I don’t know what to make of this really.

Thoughts, words, rants, questions, fantasies, delusions?

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ARE YOU PANICKED?!?!

Hello readers. Thanks for bearing with me while I took a much needed vacation at home in Roanoke. I didn’t look at a newspaper, television, or allow myself to discuss Swine Flu at all…and it proved to be very restful indeed. But now, as I sit in the Roanoke Regional Airport…waiting for the fog to lift, it’s time to get back to work. Here is a snippet from a news article I read this morning about the WHO discussing moving to level 6, the last and highest pandemic threat level…

WHO chief Margaret Chan warned against over-confidence following a stabilization in the number of new cases of the H1N1 strain that has proved deadly in Mexico.

“Level 6 does not mean, in any way, that we are facing the end of the world. It is important to make this clear because (otherwise) when we announce level 6 it will cause an unnecessary panic,” she told Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Reuters

Now for any of you who keep up with my Twitter feed…maybe you noticed the other day that I had a somewhat ominous sounding “tweet” along the lines of “panic and hysteria spread faster than the flu”. This thought occurred to me as I was sitting in LaGuardia on Thursday evening watching a news segment and you could just see how panicked everyone was…and how the media was feeding it.

I’m amused by this “unnecessary panic” I wonder exactly what kind of panic is necessary…

They keep saying things like… “no need to panic” but if they really meant it…they wouldn’t use the word panic…they would raise us to a Pandemic Threat Level 6…but panic is exactly what they want. Not a full scale break down of systems, rioting, and the apocalypse. But a little healthy dose of panic…a healthy dose of panic to take the eyes off of the economy.

“Not the end of the world,” says Margaret Chan — no, it’s not. It is just the sort of slight of hand thing the government and media need to get us to look the other way for two ticks.

Wow…I bet this sounds terribly conspiratorial of me. Apologies.

Maybe it’s because I’m sitting in an airport. Ugh. Anyway…I have on a spiffy new hat. So comment away. Not on the hat…on the blog.

A U.S. Death and the Morals of Epidemic

As I’m sure most of you have heard by now, the U.S. has had its first Swine Flu related death. A 23 month old toddler. It’s terrifying and sad, and now we have to wait and see if it gets much worse than this.

In other news, I’m giving a very brief presentation today in Art and Catastrophe about Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year and his concern with human behavior in epidemic. Quite and interesting time to be writing this paper, let me tell you.

Here are a few of the things Defoe worries about….and I wonder if we will have to worry about them too:

–if there is a higher being responsible, punishing us for our wicked, immoral behavior. I think you all know by now my thoughts on this, but it is worth mentioning. it was a much more popular belief in Defoe’s time (that the plague was a punishment for sin <and sin itself is a disease…but I digress>) — but I wonder if there are still those out there that hold with this. Why not? If the gays caused 9/11…why not the plague?

–self-preservation and abandonment. the two go hand in hand and can not be separated. at what point does self-preservation take over? take over to the point of leaving loved ones in order to save oneself? as Defoe says, “the best physic against the plague is to run away from it”

–the dilemma (a dilemma which does not really occur in non-plague related catastrophe literature) of what I have lovingly termed (hijacked from Major Henry West in 28 Days Later) “people killing people” — what Defoe calls “in the nature of the disease that it impresses everyone the is seized upon by it with a kind of rage, and a hatred against their own kind” — a desire to spread the illness.

BUT whether the desire to spread is there or not, we have to remind ourselves that due to the nature of disease it is all just “people killing people”—right? One person becomes infected, they spread it to five people, those five people spread it to five more people each…..they all die from it. Yes, it is the contagion that kills, but we CAN NOT over look the physical act of one human passing the disease to another. Our need for society and physical closeness with other humans is what ultimately brings our downfall.

For more thoughts on this I recommend the “People Killing People” chapter of The Contagious Narrative PDF.

YOUR THOUGHTS??!?

[now…off to present this thing that i just pulled out of my butt this morning! thank you…thank you…….]

Swine Flu Roundup

Hi! I’m Reed.

* I’ve spent the past two days looking at the Twitter Search page for swine flu and #swineflu and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ignorance of diseases displayed by the Tweeple.

http://search.twitter.com/search?q=swine+flu

http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23swineflu

* These graphs are from Daily Kos, of all places:

This is where we were on Saturday:

usg_who_a

This is where we were on Monday:

usg_who_b

So that little line moves a few pixels to the right and the world stops turning for 80% of the morons on the Internets.  FLYING PIG MEXIFLU!!!  OMGZ!!!!!11!  I IS BECOMES DEATH DESTROYER OF SWINEZ!!!1!!!1!!one!!!  amidoinitrite??

*Here are some fun articles showing interesting side effects and fatuous misconceptions of the Swine Flu breakout:

AP: Israeli Jews find the name Swine Flu offensive and non-Kosher.

Daily Kos: Will Republicans stop filibustering Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services thanks to Swine Flu outbreak? (Of course they won’t.)

Friendly Atheist: Atheism is more popular than Swine Flu for NYT readers.

Republican Faith Chat: God hates America, Mexico, idolotry and progessives, so He created Swine Flu

XKCD: Swine Flu exposes Twitidiocy

Roanoke Times: VA Gov. Tim Kaine declares state health emergency even though there are no cases of swine flu in VA

– Reed Braden

Oh!  And I has a blog!  KTHXBAI!

NY Times Article needs a good berating…

Thanks to SophiaZoe over at A Pandemic Chronicle this morning for pointing out this schlop of a news article.

Read it and feel her glibness and sarcasm dripping off the page. It’s a little sickening. Susan Dominus really doesn’t think that the Swine Flu is a big deal. She snarkily asks her readers not to panic, because the cases of Swine Flu at Queens High School were relatively mild.

Oh! Oh, ok. Because Susan Dominus says it’s alright to breath easy, I guess we can. I guess I should stop worrying about the 100 or more dead in Mexico and the endless new cases of Swine Flu popping up ALL OVER THE WORLD. But yeah, it’s no big deal.

Listen, I wish it wasn’t! To be honest, I will be perfectly glad when it’s all over! So I can go back to writing about representational disease and zombies and figuring out how Frued might be trying to tell me that infection equals enlightenment. Trust me, I like that side of it way better…otherwise I would have majored in Biology. But I’m an English major. I can’t bring you the facts the way those people in Blog Roll can, but I can call out an unfair treatment of a situation.

So if anyone else, after reading the article, thinks that Susan Dominus is being just a little too snarky and glib over a situation where PEOPLE ARE DYING (oh, so maybe they aren’t AMERICAN, but yes there are people dying)—here is her e-mail address. Tell her.

susan.dominus@nytimes.com

Seasonal Vaccine is likely no help

EDIT: Apparently, after more testing H1N1 does show some sensitivity to both Tamiflu and Relenza. But this may not be stable. We’ll wait and see.

To answer Andrew’s question, it looks like the season vaccine is not going to be effective at all.

ATLANTA — U.S. health officials say they are “very pessimistic” that the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the unique swine flu infecting people in the United States, Mexico and other countries.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said Sunday afternoon that tests of the seasonal vaccine and the new virus show no cross-reaction, suggesting that people who got the vaccine have no added protection against the new bug.

From: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/6393473.html

With this in mind, let’s keep that discussion rolling! And thanks for all the comments today!!

Apathy in crisis?

There seems to me to be a great amount of apathy in New York City concerning the potential pandemic at hand. This is especially shocking considering it’s ALREADY HERE in New York. Everyone has heard about the 8 students at a Queens high school who have been confirmed as having a flu (likely Swine Flu)…and nobody in New York is talking about it…

I live in Queens, and nobody is talking about it. Nobody is saying anything. What is the deal? Are we really that apathetic? Are we not taking it as seriously as we should be?

I’m going to turn on the news now.