Tuesday, April 12, 2005

minimal progress report, and pandemic prognosis

Wed. night update: added pig link and fine print (including the thought experiment)

Added a couple more questions for The Union's new editor Pat Butler in the April 7 post.

If you get a server error when attempting to leave a comment, Blogger, not blogger, is to blame. Save early, save often...

Go to Yubanet and read the 3rd installment (on the unpredictable consequences of dewatering) in Doug Mattson's series on the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Would Lake MacBoyle also be at risk?

And speaking of predicting risks, we find some cause for optimism on the pandemic front.
Know-nothing blogger punditry: Yes, bird flu is coming - it's infecting pigs now - but not in the high-fatality form in which it first made our acquaintance. In this 1997 New Yorker article , Malcolm Gladwell makes the point (or we draw the inference) that what made the 1918 pandemic so virulent was World War I and the attendant crowding, such that the sicker the person was (too sick to move out of the trenches, etc), the more others were exposed to them - whereas in a more normal time the sicker you are, the more you stay at home and thereby reduce your virus's opportunities to infect the public. The first scenario selects for virulence, the second selects for mild infection.

Or, if you don't believe in evolution, you can interpret it as God saying "Peace, man" and punishing warmongering.

Thought experiment:
Taking communion is an inherently unsanitary act, no? Suppose the H5N1 pandemic comes to pass, and congregations continue to congregate and take communion while the unbelievers cower at home. How would an observer be able to distinguish between the end result of this scenario (the faithful are dead, the heathen still walk the earth when they dare to venture from their homes) and the Rapture? Duration might be an issue since the Rapture's instantaneous, but if the six days of creation can be permitted some elasticity in actual time, the Rapture might get a little leeway too.

Heresy from our most-heathen friend: "The Rapture is coming; avoid the rush"

and don't forget the Mayan calendar.

From TNH:
If, on appropriate occasions, the members tell, enjoy, trade, and/or devise transgressively funny jokes about their denomination, it’s a church.

If such jokes reliably meet with stifling social disapproval, it’s a cult.

Also we'll stick our neck out on a limb and say that Marburg just isn't infectious enough (and kills its victims too quickly after they become contagious) to spread uncontrollably.

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