Talk to me readers.

Okay, so with news flying around about the Swine flew and the 68 dead in Mexico (the words “potential pandemic” are also being bandied about), I think it is time that those of you who have casually read over or glanced at this blog step up and speak out. Tell me what you think about pandemic and disease or zombies and humans and social theory in general, but especially now in the context of this outbreak.

I know I have readers. I have facebook friends who come look every time I post, but never comment.

So come on, friends. Read back to other posts, put your thoughts together. I will chime in too, of course, but I want a lively discussion happening right here in the comments section!

And my usual suspects: I expect your voices to lead the way on this.

Are you afraid?

What does pandemic mean to you?

What are your thoughts on the mortality rate differences of the different strains?

What does our lack of preparation say about us? Not just the U.S., but globally.

What do you think the potential social ramifications of this are?


Follow me on Twitter, be my friend on Facebook. Let’s get this discussion moving!


“Diseases desperate”

“———–diseases desperate grown

By desperate appliance are relieved,

Or not at all.”

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene III

Thanks to Pamela for sending this along and keeping me in line. I have good intentions with this silly thing, but of course we all know where that road leads. I’m going to take a bit of advice from my Violence and Metaphor professor and just start writing and see if any ideas actually come out….because right now I must admit I am a bit stumped. 😦

The proverb is found in many variant forms. Cf. L. extremis malis extrema remedia, extreme remedies for extreme ills.

“A stronge disease requyreth a stronge medicine.
[1539 R. Taverner tr. Erasmus’ Adages 4]

Diseases desperate grown By desperate appliance are reliev’d, Or not at all.
[1600-1 Shakespeare Hamlet iv. iii. 9]

Desperate cuts must have desperate cures.
[1639 J. Clarke Parœmiologia Anglo-Latina 200]

According to the usual Proverb, A desperate disease must have a desperate remedy.
[1659 J. Rushworth Hist. Collections I. 120]

I must‥have an interview with the charmer of my Soul: For desperate diseases must have desperate remedies.
[1748 Richardson Clarissa VI. 292]

These circumstances are wholly exceptional. Desperate diseases, they say, call for desperate remedies.
[1935 ‘A. Wynne’ Toll House Murder ix.]

She’d have sold the roof over her head sooner than have you know. Desperate situations require desperate remedies.
[1961 ‘A. Gilbert’ She shall Die xi.]

Desperate times call for desperate measures, which are often sensible when you consider the bleak alternative.
[2001 W. Northcutt Darwin Awards II 2]”

Just a little list of the variations of this proverb. For fun.

Let me break this down a little bit, and see if that helps.

“diseases” I probably don’t need to get into too much here. We can quibble all day about this one, whether within the context of Hamlet or without… (is he crazy? is he not crazy? are WE crazy? are we a blight upon the earth? are we a plague to nature?)

Yes. All of that. So let’s skip over that for the time being and move onto desperate. The OED lists its numero uno definition as “having lost or abandoned hope” — which in Act IV is where we find our “hero” — it is the King who speaks these lines and is speaking to his attendants telling them that he’s sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and Polonius’ body. Later in this scene is the famous line (and maybe my favorite part) about Polonius being at a supper “not where he eats, but where he is eaten”….(which calls to my mind that idea of blood and flesh being consumed, though here in death, the only life Polonius provides is to the worms….not to an infected human–though Hamlet as a zombie tale should totally happen…) I’m getting side-tracked…

Though now, if we want to pull this out and apply it to our disease ridden humanity…one might call us desperate. Despairing, hopeless, in an impossible situation. But really, “desperate” is not meant to describe us, or Hamlet…it’s meant to describe the disease. Our diseases are hopeless….or possibly incurable. Now I would go as far to say that WE are the incurable disease to the earth….but I really think an apocalypse would take care of us…(“What is amiss, plague and infection mend” Timon of Athens, Act V, Scene I)

–so let’s say that it is OUR diseases, the ones we carry with us every day that are incurable. Rage, people killing people, this drive for self-preservation, insanity….perhaps an individual could overcome one of these afflictions, but as a global society…?? I don’t know…I’d like to think so….but–thinking back over history…has there ever not been rageful, bloody war and murder? If I really need to go biblical here…wasn’t one of the first acts of humanity one brother murdering another?

“This is in thee a nature but infected.”

Timon of Athens, Act IV, Scene III

But I digress… we can’t look at either of those words without the context of the word “grown” — (increased in size, arrived at maturity) — “grown” to me implies a certain amount of self-inflicted, self-perpetuated “despair” and “disease” — our incurable afflictions are created, perpetuated, and spread by our own bodies. (“breath infect breath” Timon of Athens, Act IV, Scene I).

In the following line, “By desperate appliance are relieved” — “appliance” is a word which should have some consideration. It calls to mind more than just a mode or a plan of action in relieving disease. It represents a physical tool. What appliance would we use to physically remove disease from our bodies? –there is also “medicines applied to a disease” –but what medicine cures our contagion? And in Hamlet’s case, what kind of medicine is the act of sending him away? It’s more of a type of quarantine…in the hope that his insanity does not spread?

And then of course there is the bleak final line…”Or not at all” –which in true apocalyptic, gloom and doom style, leaves us with that warm, fuzzy feeling that we might destroy the earth before it destroys us. Or that no amount of medicine, counseling, working, lobbying, yelling, murdering, or action in general will cure what we have.

Is that dark enough, Jettboy?

Okay Pamela…your turn! I bet you will spin this thing around and bust it wide open. 🙂

Rob, I’d love your thoughts as well.

It’s the season!

It seems to me that far more zombie/disease related films come out during the fall/winter than do in the spring/summer. I’m not exactly sure why, but I would speculate it has something to do with zombie films not being able to stand up to huge summer blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” or other superhero movies or action films that inevitably pour into theaters each summer.

So it’s the season for zombie/vampire/disease films. And there is a gem circulating in theaters now that anyone with an interest in disease would be a fool to miss.

This is not because it is a terribly well made movie, or even with good acting or writing. But the film successfully nails EVERY major theme I highlighted in my thesis as the main components of a disease film.

The film is Quarantine. It has no one recognizable, with the exception of “The Vet” who is played by that guy who was on Ally McBeal and some other shit. *Shrugs* The characters are mostly forgettable, some of the dialogue is right down terrible and acting is enough to make you cringe.

And while some viewers get irritated/headaches/motion sickness from the handheld Blair Witch style camera movement (which is having a hell of a comeback) — I think it highlights the most important theme of the film (the tight close ups and personal interviews highlight the claustrophobia the characters feel from the…ahem…Quarantine…)

But the concept is brilliant.


Continue reading

The Pandemic Threat Conference


I read a post this morning over at the Avian Flu Diary announcing a conference taking place tomorrow from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm EST in Wisconsin on Preparing an Organizational Response to Pandemic. They are also broadcasting the conference over the internet, so I am lucky enough to get to watch.

You have to register, which you can do here.

I probably won’t watch the entire thing, because I just don’t have five hours of my life to spare on it. If I get into NYU Gallatin then perhaps I WILL have five hours to spend watching something like that. Ask me more on that later.

So look for an update tomorrow with news from the conference and thanks again to FLA_MEDIC at Avian Flu Diary for the information!


Also, Reed has added me as an author at his blog here. Homosecular Gaytheist covers a huge range of topics and I am thrilled to be added to the team! I will periodically post there and link it here, and vice versa.

Cabin Fever, Gustav, Vaccines, and other long overdue thoughts

Sorry, sorry, sorry! Long time, no write. Here are some random thoughts:

I thought about the movie Cabin Fever the other night for some reason. I was about to fall asleep and I thought about that movie…and then couldn’t sleep. Go figure. The virus was in the water, but there was also blood, and disintegrating skin, and other grossness. 

I kind of get cabin fever at my new job. So I hope my skin doesn’t fall off.


Okay on a more serious note:

Disease. All the time. I already talk about that all the time.

Hurricanes: Gustav, Ike, Josephine. 

Earthquake in South West China: plenty of dead.

Bacteria linked to a restaurant, 146 sick. 

Earlier this summer with the salmonella outbreak because of our tomatoes and peppers.


Do you think nature is trying to OFF humankind?

Do you blame nature? Aren’t WE trying to OFF nature? Or is our destruction of nature just a by-product of our attempts to OFF each other?


It just seems like we have a lot working against us.



The concept of vaccinations is interesting. We inject ourselves with the disease to protect ourselves from the disease.

If we’re already infected we can’t become…more infected? 


I promise to have more legitimate thoughts later. And to not take so long with my next post. Ooops.