Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu Attack!

The combination of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, recession's blow to my job and many other things that turn one into a roller coaster of contemplations and self reflections often gives rise to delusional ideas of everything being connected to everything. And somehow the sudden outbreak of a deadly H1N1 just around the time when people had started taking notice of failure of the state, financial institutions and environment comes across as a classic case of 'history repeating itself'. As if an integration of infinitesimally small measures of individual greeds give birth to a singular entity that forms the powers that be, the puppet master, the butcher to the Roosters coop controlling strings of debts and levers of information flow to create heterotopias, distractions and decoys that can be put to use through terrorism, climate change, disease and most importantly a real time media onslaught of these events as they unfold.
An old article by Paul Mickle in an American newspaper, ‘The Trentonian’ with the headlines 1976: Fear of a great plague, reported:
“On the cold afternoon of February 5, 1976, an Army recruit told his drill instructor at Fort Dix that he felt tired and weak but not sick enough to see military medics or skip a big training hike. Within 24 hours, 19-year-old Pvt. David Lewis of Ashley Falls, Mass., was dead, killed by an influenza not seen since the plague of 1918-19, which took 500,000 American lives and 20 million worldwide. Two weeks after the recruit's death, health officials disclosed to America that something called "swine flu" had killed Lewis and hospitalized four of his fellow soldiers at the Army base in Burlington County. The ominous name of the flu alone was enough to touch off civilian fear of an epidemic. And government doctors knew from tests hastily conducted at Dix after Lewis' death that 500 soldiers had caught swine flu without falling ill. Any flu able to reach that many people so fast was capable of becoming another worldwide plague, the doctors warned... Thus was born what would become known to some medical historians as a fiasco and to others as perhaps the finest hour of America's public health bureaucracy.... Among other critics are Arthur M. Silverstein, whose book, "Pure Politics and Impure Science," suggests President Gerald Ford's desire to win the office on his own, as well as the influence of America's big drug manufacturers, figured into the decision to immunize all 220 million Americans... The Great Plague, as it came to be called, rivalled the horrid Black Death of medieval times in its ability to strike suddenly and take lives swiftly. In addition to the half million in America, it killed 20 million people around the world. It got its name because it was a brand of flu usually found in domestic pigs and wild swine. It was long thought to have come, like so many flu, out of the Chinese farm country, where people and domestic pigs live closely together...”
Maybe it’s just Umberto Eco and my mind playing games or maybe it’s really a pandemic and we should be wearing masks, washing hands and sitting at home, whatever the case, but with the following swine flu advt. we shall certainly not need to spend any money on the campaign!

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