Bad Day Bird Flu

The premise for Bad Day LA came out of my frustration with the pervasive “fear culture” that has existed in the US since 9/11 (although, many would say that it reaches back much further than that). The idea is an old one: governments gain control and corporations gain profit when they use fear as a weapon against the citizens. The movie “V for Vendetta” expressed the idea pretty well.

Being that I live in Hong Kong, my friends back home say things like, “Be careful, don’t catch bird flu.” They assume, based on the information that the media feeds them, that everyone in Asia is running around infected with bird flu. Except, that there is no bird flu pandemic here, or anywhere for that matter.
And it seems like worrying that bird flu will suddenly start infecting humans on a large scale is like worrying that the common cold might suddenly mutate into an ebola-like killer:

Bloomberg.com: Asia
“The acquisition of human flu virus genes into H5N1 didn’t make it more transmissible,” said Peter Palese, a Mt. Sinai School of Medicine microbiologist in New York who studies influenza and wasn’t involved in the research, in a telephone interview. “It appears the virus would need significant mutations to transmit easily in people.”

Basically, some (idiot) scientists are purposely trying to mutate bird flu using human flu to make bird flu more easily transmitted between humans. Fortunately, they failed in their mission, and they proved that bird flu isn’t the boogie-germ that the government would like us to believe it is.

This caught my attention, because just a few weeks ago I read this article:

NEW YORK (Fortune) – The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it’s proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that’s now the most-sought after drug in the world.

Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)’s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Rumsfeld.

So basically we have government officials scaring the public with a non-threat and profiting hugely off it. But then, I guess that’s business as usual in Bad Day USA.

6 thoughts on “Bad Day Bird Flu”

  1. Ah, fear.

    It’s what drives people to buy dozens of automatic weapons to defend themselves instead of perhaps just one or even a simple pistol and/or a rifle. (Not that I have anything against people who collect weapons as a hobby, but more than ten guns meant purely for protection purposes is a bit excessive…)

    It’s what drives people to go to bogus “healers” in remote foreign areas who can supposedly grab these vague tumor-esque “bad things” out of a person’s body without surgery, but are really just cheating terminally ill people out of thousands of dollars at a time.

    It’s what drives people to spend excessive fees on bogus computer virus-prevention programs when simply not downloading programs from sites you don’t trust (and staying out of porn sites) could suffice. Besides, most computers come with a free anti-virus program, yet people still insist on buying more and more protection that they won’t need.

    Sadly, many homes don’t even have the basic necessities required of common emergencies, lacking items such as fire alarms, fire extinguishers or even a nearby telephone to call 911 if a situation requires of such.

  2. When SARS hit Toronto, it took me a few weeks to actually realise that it was a serious situation and not just another flu warning. That’s because it was just a normal day in a normal week. All over the news, the epidemic was being talked and talked about. Especially on US and British news stations.

    Makes me think that people want there to be biological war sooner than later.

  3. Thank you for posting that about Rumsfeld. As much as it makes my brain want to explode, I feel I’m better off knowing about it.

    (Really bad stupid joke time!) I wonder who in the administration had the investment in duct tape. Didn’t that just seem like an experiment in discovering how much loyalty we had for fear?
    Yes, it’s out of date, but it still grinds my gears!

  4. It’s interesting how an ‘anti-Bush’ media has actually helped hype the bird flu issue. What’s in it for them? Fear sells, I guess.

  5. It’s nothing new, and I don’t think it has anything to do with 9/11 either. Look back and the news has always been dominated by “scary stories”. They range from how some busload of whoever got smeared by a train 3/4 of the way across the nation to Y2K to huge and deadly epidemics that never come to pass.

    Sadly, the truth of the matter is that the news, like anything else in this world, is driven by supply and demand. If they think it will draw more viewers/listeners/readers, they’ll slap it on the headlines. If they think the story will make someone switch channels to find a more “juicy” bit of news to watch, they’ll scrap it or use it as some corny segway to predict the local weather.

  6. Uh, ‘idiot’ scientists? McGee, when writing about something you don’t understand (the scientific method) it would be helpful it you didn’t claim that people who DO understand it are ‘idiots’.

    Especially when you then go on to use the evidence they’ve produced doing their experiments to make your own arguments…

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