Saturday, April 16, 2005

April 16 Flu Update

Wendy Orent in the Washington Post with a must-read article on the flu and the risk of pandemic. Her theory is that messing around trying to recreate the bird flu is what is putting people at risk.

Here's a quote.

Evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald of the University of Louisville points out that influenza is normally a relatively mild disease: It keeps its hosts up and moving in order for it to spread. But the precise conditions of the Western Front allowed the virus to evolve unprecedented virulence. Without those conditions, lethal pandemic flu cannot evolve. Says Byerly, "The 1918 flu epidemic most likely will not happen again because we won't construct the Western Front again."

WHO concerns that bird flu pandemic is drawing closer.

Scotland article on ducks and their role in flu.


At 3:52 AM, Blogger GoodDeed said...

Wendy Orent is on the hunt for every non-constructive, backwards-looking person who is credentialed and tenured. Just because the institution is stuck with the source for her quotes doesn't mean that we are too.

This is foolish talk about the circumstances for flu pandemic initiation occurring only once in an eon of blue moons. M A L A R K Y spells Orent.

This is nature at work. The way it works, in case Wendy can't find a credential to set her clear, is this: nature does nearly everything and nearly all the time. nature throws mud on the wall trying to do nothing at all except check out its throwing arms, tens of millions of them, in this case ducks and chickens. Whatever sticks, who cares...nature doesn't. It's got a trick; it's called replication. I'm my father's son. That was a very special, one time event. And the world has 6 billion of these events. Special? Unique? Hogwash.

It's just a matter of time and the vagueries of nearly random circumstance that another "wild card" will come out of the deck, as far as humans are concerned. The tens of millions of ducks? They're not over inconvenienced with the virus. And so far, I've not seen one article saying it won't happen again that's been written by a duck.

Wendy's hot air; and she's struck a vein of eager editors looking for some way to discount nature. Nature will have a reply to her and them, and all of us, Ozmandius' edifices gone from the scene. She's insulting to the intelligence level I held in middle school, never mind today. It's unhelpful to even comment on her views.

When I think of Wendy, I think of the designers of the Titanic. They taught her everything she knows. My bet's on nature; but not on some person who writes for a living to tell me what will and won't occur.
M A L A R K Y.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Gooddeed: Interesting thoughts. Of course, my objective here it to provide the information, and let people think for themselves, as you have done--and as she did.

I will say this. I have said here that what interests me on the flu is the fact that it tracks human behavior so closely. How we deal with it reveals things about us.

With that in mind, if WHO and the scientific community were reacting to the flu to avoid being blamed for "doing nothing," that would reveal something about human nature as well.

And it wouldn't be the first time humans did more damage fixing a problem than the original problem would have done. Call it the Tim Taylor syndrome :-).

By the way, your point that nature is working constantly is very insightful. Its like having a water leak in your house. It won't stop until it finds a way out.

Anyhow, keep the ideas coming. Watching what is happening, determining what it means is extremely interesting....

At 12:10 AM, Blogger GoodDeed said...

Hi orange, the water leak analogy is in the ballpark. It's having 10 million water leaks and more happening in sympathy, all dripping water at different rates and with different chemicals dissolved at that point in the pipe and dropping onto the full pallete of possible earth mix chemicals. Lots of stuff will happen. When the stuff that "works" happens, then whatever will come about that is noticeable by humans will be be at some point noticed, or the consequences will be noticed. Nature doesn't care. It's having a grand old time doing what it does until it does something else. The ducks, who control the entire plan, have not counted humans as high on their survival list.

thx for indulging me, orange.


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