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Thursday
Aug062009

Day 30: Who Vanquished the Virus?

I was channel-surfing earlier and spotted a text on one of those hyperactive financial channels: “Is Avian Flu a Buy Opportunity?” Greed is immune to H5N1.

Things do sound calmer. Midwestern power ‘failures’ that weren’t quite blackouts have subsided. The troops patrolling various cities look relaxed. Lovers of old war movies can’t help but expect them to start handing out candy to the kids and cigarettes to the babes.

CHICAGO: GORGEOUS WITHOUT JUICE, BUT NEVER EVER CALL IT A 'BLACKOUT!'The utilities rationalize the outages as flukes. Liberals see them as moral failures by private enterprise. TV ‘conservatives’ view them as proof that we should let the government seize our property and hand it over to corporations for power lines. Heckuva discourse.

Our system isn’t designed for prolonged emergencies. A problem should whack us hard and fast. We freak out, roar into position, and then jaw mindlessly till no one can remember what specifically happened.

After windy Congressional hearings, we watch movies about someone’s valiant struggle, invited to imagine that we are heroic. Or would be.

Sometimes I think we suffer from Schindler’s List Syndrome. Everybody wants true stories with happy endings. No fiction, no downers. All’s well that ends well. Pass the popcorn.

The public is looking for reasons to doubt that H5N1 is much of a killer. If people react as if this were some late October hurricane that missed the coast, we will be toast.

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