Thursday, April 30, 2009


This headline, from the Scotsman, is an eye-popper. The phrase “swine flu” is gross, even evil. No one calls it “pig flu.” That would sound like a cartoon and would diminish the foreboding. You say someone got the pig flu and everyone grins. You say swine flu and everyone gets quiet.

It's all fun and games until you start the World Swine Flu Pandemic.

“Pandemic” is just plain magical. Putting it together with swine flu is headline genius. “World one step from” gets the clock ticking. It’s no longer just a still frame shot of the guy in the hockey mask with the chain saw. Now it is a movie with the stupid teenagers (the whole world!), walking step by step into the dark doorway.

by Boogieman13

Somewhere in the recesses of my aged brain the Chicken Little alarm bell rang. I hate Chicken Little, and all her friends, Henny Penney, Goosey Loosey, etc. I thought I would check out the latest Chicken Little story.

The Center for Disease Control website has big oozing gobs of Swine Flu information, including the “Swine Flu and You” link and a “Swine Flu Video.” Next there will be Swine Flu cartoons, so kids can panic too.

CDC reported that the first cases in America were two children in San Diego, California. Here’s the innocuous tag end of one of the reports, which the Eternal Optimist thought was fairly astonishing:

The boy received symptomatic treatment, and all his symptoms resolved uneventfully within approximately 1 week.

This means the kid stayed home from school, ran a fever, coughed and puked, and is now back in school.

The World Health Organization has now weighed in with a “Phase 5” alert – the first time ever. “[WHO Director General Margaret] Chan told reporters in Geneva ‘[i]t really is all of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic.’"

Interesting that WHO weighed in with its DEFCON 1 message on the same day the situation in Mexico, where this all got started, is reportedly stabilizing. Depending on who you read, there have been anywhere between 140 and 160 deaths attributed to swine flu in Mexico.

Actually, there are only 26 swine flu deaths in Mexico that are lab confirmed. New pathology reports from Canada, where they are helping Mexican authorities with pathology resources, are finding that relatively few of the suspicious deaths first reported in Mexico actually resulted from swine flu – 7 of 25, about 28%.. Applying that to the figures in the press, say 150, and you get about 42 deaths from swine flu so far.

This in a nation of 109,000,000. That’s probably fewer deaths than from tequila poisoning in Tijuana over the weekend.

Now 42 deaths is bad stuff, certainly for the 42 who died and their families. It deserves our help and our prayers. I am just not ready to get into my “pandemic” EPA suit and hide in the basement with an AK-47.

Some history here. In 1976 there was a huge vaccination effort launched because of a strain of swine flu found in some soldiers at Ft. Dix, NJ. We went with the huge vaccination program because the flu was a close relative of the Spanish Flu that killed tens of millions in 1918.

In December of 1976 the program was halted because it seemed not many people actually got very sick from the flu, but lots of people got sick from the vaccine. About 45 million people were vaccinated.

Imagine how they felt. This, by the way (forgive my digression) is the Federal Health Care Way. It is subject - as with every federal project - to the 7 Mystical Federal Stages:



Turf Wars



Blaming of The Innocent

Rewards and Promotions for The Guilty

Multiply the Swine Flu Innoculation Debacle ($400 Million) times 10,000 (equals $4 Trillion) and VOILA! you get universal health care.

The 1976 vaccination program cost about $400 million, and left thousands of people with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a nervous system break down that is painful, debilitating and sometimes fatal. The federal government, which had to insure the drug companies because private insurers wouldn’t cover the risks on the vaccination program (insurers aren’t always dumb like AIG), paid around $90 million to people who got Guillain-Barre.

So the Eternal Optimist is not ready to throw in the towel just yet and slit his wrists to avoid a slow, horrible death from the “Swine Flu Pandemic,” even if the “World [Is] One Step Closer.”

Right now Eternal Optimist thinks he is “One Step Closer” to a vodka tonic with lime, which I understand prevents Swine Flu, and also prevents Swine Flu Frenzy. Which erupted after Trillion Dollar Deficit Frenzy, which was triggered by Recession of the Century Frenzy, which followed on several years of Global Warming Frenzy and Real Estate Will Always Go Up! Frenzy.

I figure in about three weeks this will all blow over and Obama and me can get back to spending money we don’t have on stuff we don’t need.


  1. What??? Let a perfectly good crisis go to waste???

  2. I thought of starting a protest group against the Swine Flu. It would probably be as effective as all those warnings. We could stage rallies and walk in circles saying "Alas, alas." That might be even more effective.

  3. Is it the idea of pandemics in general that you find silly or just the hoopla over the swine flu? Because let's see... what would an actual pandemic look like when it started?

    You'd probably have a few people getting sick with an unfamiliar strain of virus in a nondescript area of a nondescript country. A few of them would die but not too many, because if everybody died quickly it couldn't turn into a pandemic could it? It has to sicken people reasonably slowly to allow transmission. So there wouldn't be waves of people dying right away. Then someone would travel from the nondescript location to a larger city, and to an airport, and at some point a relatively few people would have died in the first country, and then one or two people would die in a second country and if we were lucky the CDC or world health organizations would be aware of it and start raising flags and talking about vaccinations and possible quarantining and.... wait, what was I talking about?

    Yes, it seems silly if it doesn't turn out to be The Big One. "Look at the blowhards wasting the money and it wasn't anything serious. It never is." But isn't that the same as "There won't be an earthquake. There hasn't been an earthquake around here in 100 years."

    Surely a pandemic is a lot more likely than it was in 1918... we've been awash in antibiotics and other drugs for almost a century, breeding more and more resistant bugs; long distance travel is nearly instantaneous; agricultural practices crowd animals together like never before. Just because something hasn't happened before doesn't mean it won't. And when it HAS happened before -- many times-- it doesn't seem as though it would be wise to pooh-pooh it.

    Or are you suggesting that there be higher standards for raising alarms? So in Mexico, 42 deaths per 100 million people... obviously you think .4 deaths per million is too low. Where would you put it? 40? 400? 4000?

    Or am I just being silly?

  4. Unlike that last guy who posted I think the pandemic panic was a lot of hooey. But unlike EO I don't think the problem lies with the CDC or WHO. I agree with that guy up there --it's their job to be alarmists. That's what we pay them for. I don't blame smoke alarms for making a lot of noise.

    I do object to volunteer firefighters getting drunk and riding around town blaring sirens, and then defending the destruction and mayhem by asserting it's their right and duty to drive firetrucks with sirens. That would be the press' role in this.