I can't help but follow the developments of the coming bird flu pandemic. Call it proactive measures or macabre curiosity, I read every article I see in the news on the subject.
To avoid getting avian flu, do not kiss birds.
It seems the biggest fear is that the virus will mutate to be able to spread between humans, which it currently cannot do (or if it can, it's keeping this skill a secret for the nonce). This human-to-human jump would be bad because most of us can avoid being around birds almost entirely, but with the exception of goth kids and accountants, we normally need to be around other people to survive.
Now I see that a Thai boy has just been tested positive for the bird flu, just two days after his father died from the disease ! Could this be it ? Are we doomed to face masks, black clothes, calculators and seclusion ? Well, no probably not. The kid was also involved in handling the sick chickens alongside his father.
But the news headlines didn't mention this--they lead you to believe such a transference took place. No, you have to read into the story to find out that the boy was in direct contact with the sick birds himself. That's just like the news on television. They tease you with a couple lines that sound really sensational so you'll watch the program later in the evening: "A popular food item in your local grocery store can cause liver malfunction, hyper-paranoia, and even death ! Tune in tonight to find out what it is !"
I remember 60 Minutes doing this kind of thing a number of years ago, probably back when I was in high school. I saw one of the reporters talking about a 4000 pound weapon that people were using to murder innocent bystanders. I thought, "Holy crap ! A 4000 lb weapon, how cool ! What could it be ?" And the reporter informed us to tune in at 9 / 8 Central to find out what it was. Naturally, I turned the TV over to the channel dutifully on-time, only to be disappointed to find out the weapons in question were in fact ordinary automobiles. Well, yeah. I guess anything could be a weapon in some way or another.
The fun part about the 60 Minutes report actually was the sensationalism. They repeated "Who are these aggressive drivers ?!" while showing video clips of cars peeling out, skidding, and ramping over bales of hay like in the Dukes of Hazzard. Now, whenever I'm not driving like a Grandma, I get that phrase in my head. Who are these aggressive drivers !!!
Anyway, I digress ...
Famous J already posted a link to the Avian Flu blog, but I will too because it's just so grim and interesting. You might even want to subscribe to the feed, so you'll be the first to know when the inevitable will hit this country.
I recommend we start living like there's no tomorrow.