Ebola And The Three Stooges
October 18, 2014

The three stooges in this case are any three Republican wingers who are pushing the idea that the United States is in deadly peril because we had a couple of cases of Ebola and one entire, whole dead man. By extension ‘any three Republican wingers’ pretty much covers the entire Republican party, which seeks to spread terror about Ebola for the sole purpose of garnering votes next month. Americans appear to be stupid enough to allow that strategy to succeed.

However, by misdirecting the attention of the American electorate, they leave more room for the real threat. India. Southeast Asia. If the virus gets to India and Southeast Asia, given the massive poverty and the massive crowding of the poor in the major cities and the culture of saving face rather than saving lives, the virus will feed on those conditions and with a base like that it’s likely to burn its way through the primate population across the whole planet (primates include humans, though most of the other primates, I suspect, want as little as possible to do with humans).

For all the macho talk coming from Washington about the United States being prepared to handle an Ebola outbreak here, the truth is closer to the thought that American hospitals, in a serious outbreak, would just wash away in a stream of blood. They couldn’t handle it. They’d be overwhelmed in a matter of weeks.

Here’s a bit of a sample of what’s up, from a commenter at Talking Points Memo yesterday:

My wife’s ER has an ‘ebola cart’ with some lightweight protective gear and written instructions for putting on a PPE, but the instructions are a loose bundle of papers and the pictures don’t match the gear in the cart and has inaccuracies that put them at serious risk. It’s an object of gallows humor for the staff. That’s the totality of their training or preparedness so far.

The commenter notes further on that the head of the hospital publicly declared that the hospital, a large hospital in a major city, is fully prepared to handle an outbreak.

Yeah, okay. The American Ethic: Cover your ass, always, and never mind reality.

Imagine masses of people fleeing India and Asia ahead of the epidemic. Panicked. Hysterical. Seriously determined to get the hell out of the way and into… oh, right, the United States where they will be safe and secure. A dozen carriers hiding in American city slums and civilization falls apart, with half the world dead. Slums in London. Paris. Moscow. Madrid. Istanbul. Indonesia. Tokyo. Manila. Australia might make it through, being an island continent, but all those sneaky Indonesians are just a stone’s throw away and they’ll just come crawling up the beaches in the dead of night, bleeding as they go, and pretty soon it’s ‘On The Beach’ again, only messier. Maybe Tony Abbott can build walls of coal along the shores of the continent.

Not too far fetched really. Especially given the willful ignorance and unmitigated stupidity of the politicians the Americans have sent to Washington and to their various state capitols the last couple of decades. Most of the Republican members of the House science committee have publicly stated, one way or another, that they don’t believe in science. I suspect that for all the noise they’re making about Ebola they don’t believe in viruses either.

And if the Republicans win control of the Senate next month, you can bet the Three Stooges Protocols of the American Government will be operating in full force. (Apologies to the original Three Stooges, who were a lot smarter than most of the Republicans slithering around on the floor of the House and Senate.)

Some of the more astute among you may have noticed I didn’t include China in the scenario. I suspect that if Ebola showed its bloody face in China, the victims and their families and friends would be summarily executed, their bodies burned en masse, and any town or city that harbored the virus  would be firebombed to ashes, people and all. Followed of course by an announcement that there is not and never was Ebola in China.

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Ebola Interview
October 6, 2014

 

Here’s an interview in The Guardian with the scientist who discovered the Ebola virus back in 1976. Interesting read.

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Of Cats, Time, and Ebola
September 17, 2014

How does a cat perceive time? Simple question.

I think I can be certain that they don’t perceive days and nights, weeks and months and years. Or hours, minutes, and seconds. I suspect they perceive the passage of light and dark, one into the other, but they attach no artificial construct to such passages.

How do they know to be at a certain place at a certain time of day to get food? Kitty wristwatches? The quality of light in the sky – dawn, pre-dawn, dusk, late afternoon, high noon? Are they as accurate when the sky is darkly clouded? How accurate are they? Do they hit an approximate window and then wait for the food? I think Sammy, the outside cat, may do that.

Time, as we parse it, doesn’t exist for cats. Everything is now. They don’t worry about or get anxious about or think about the food delivery that will occur seven or eight hours from now. When the time is right they’ll go to the food spot. In the meantime they’ll lie in the sun, snooze in the shade, chase insects and butterflies, terrify mice and chipmunks, and nap.

Humans on the other hand have broken time. Shattered it. Hammered it into little pieces. Milliseconds. Seconds. Minutes. Hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Years. Decades. What time is it? That’s the cry heard across the universe, the cry emanating from this little planet where humans may have run out the clock on themselves. Time is just another falsehood we use to prove to ourselves that we are in control of the world, of our lives.

Time may be running out for humans. Ebola is a deadly viral epidemic in West Africa now. From a killer of little villages, it has gained the potential to be a civilization killer. Ebola has entered the human population now in a big way, in crowded cities where the infrastructure needed to contain it is weak or non-existent, where ignorance and fear fuel the spread of the virus. And from what I read there are indications that the virus is mutating. Evolving to deal with its new ecological niche.

No one can predict what the mutations will ultimately amount to. One possibility, perhaps the worst, would involve two mutations. One would have it become transmissible via aerosol, via sneezes and coughs, able to survive outside a host or a victim for lengthy periods of time. The second would have it sporulate. If that happens then it could be picked up in the dust storms that blow westward from Africa and coat the Amazon basin, Central America, and the Southern United States with dust. If those two things happen then the virus could likely not be contained.

This morning there’s a story on BBC that a vaccine is being tested, one that shows good promise of being effective. Perhaps. Or perhaps too little too late? Time will tell. And if not Ebola, what else?

Obama is sending three thousand American soldiers to Liberia to fight the epidemic. They’ll build seventeen treatment facilities and act to educate the public and train health care personnel. Whether they’ll actually get it done in time to slow or stop the epidemic is an open question.

Africa could be hollowed out, relieved of its human burden, perhaps even its entire quota of primates. It could become the forbidden zone of science fiction, the place where no one goes. It might return to the state of being the Eden it once was, where Nature has full sway. Yes, with all the brutality of tooth and claw that goes along with Nature, that is a fundamental part of Nature, but Africa would once again become a place of balance instead of a place overrun with a plague of humans who corrode and destroy the Nature on which their very lives depend. And wouldn’t that be ironic, the place that gave birth to mankind would be scoured clean of men and become closed to men. Man, kicked out of Eden. By an invisible bit of barely animate protein.

Of course if the virus mutates, Earth, all of Earth, could become Eden, with life getting a fresh start, a new direction, perhaps creating a timeless world. Ruled, undoubtedly, by cats.