Armagideon Time

I’m not terrified of Ebola, women’s health even though I work in a place which hypothetically be a gateway for it to spread among a wider population. The vectors of the virus are so narrow and the local cultural-medical factors are so different that the likelihood of that happening is next to nil.

I may not be scared, information pills but I can’t say I’m not worried. A horrific disease with a high rate of mortality has jumped its traditional regional boundaries, case killing one person and infecting at least one other. One doesn’t have to fall prey to “the sky is falling” levels of panic for that to give someone pause.

As reprehensible and irresponsible as the fearmongering has been in the media — whether done to generate venue traffic or to further a political agenda — I’m also wary of the folks who keep insisting that the recent turn of events is no big deal.

These arguments tend to put a large amount of faith in “SCIENCE” and the ability of our public health institutions to cope with the threat based on past performance and theoretical possibilities.

I agree with them for the most part, but I’m still unable to share their level of dismissive confidence. Even if the healthcare system hasn’t shown itself to be broken (especially along racial and class lines), even if federal research and agency budgets hadn’t been slashed, even if things hadn’t been so co-opted by for-profit healthcare combines and drug companies, placing excessive faith in theoretically “sound” systems is a dangerous game.

Because systems are only as flawless as the people who administer them, and people are prone to fucking up.

The Titanic, DDT, Three Mile Island, Fukushima — these are only the more prominent examples of how circumstances and/or human error can wreak havoc upon the best-laid plans. Science may be self-correcting, but such corrections arise from errors in existing theories. It’s one thing when such an error has to do with the estimated mass of the universe, it’s another when it involves the health and safety of millions of people.

“But it was a failure of protocols and procedures, not the overall methodology!”

That may be true, but that still omits the crucial human element from the equation — that people get tired, get lazy, can be subject to hubris or bias, or simply make an honest mistake.

Losing one’s shit is the least productive response to such awareness, but one should also keep in mind that things reached this point because of a series of preventable errors.

Recommended listening: Choir Invisible – Fatal Dream (from Choir Invisible, 1981)

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Adding some cobwebs and black lace to the Paisley Underground.

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2 Responses to “Halloween Countdown: October 12 – The first fatality”

  1. Aberration, The

    Also: Texas, run as it is by a man who travels the country inviting businesses to come over and escape the hardship of (ugh) regulations (the trade-off being the occasional devastating silo explosion or, yeah, disease outbreak). I’d say “might as well be Nigeria,” but Nigeria’s got it contained.

    So, yeah, Ebola, horrible disease, one death, and now a nurse has contracted it by not following procedure (again, Texas don’t need no stinking regulations). It’s nowhere nearly as dangerous–and I’m talking in terms of deaths in the United States, as opposed to the mortality rate in lands where sanitation is treated like a gay joke–as the flu or even the enterovirus or any other Great Calamitous Plague of yore (SARS, swine flu, Legionnaire’s Disease, etc)…and yet until EBOLAAAAAAAAH!!! came along we were perfectly willing to play “fair” with Jenny McCarthy and Rob Schneider and other anti-vaxxer asshats.

    In the end, what is it that makes EBOLAAAAAAAAH!!! so terrifying? Sure, the news media, as usual, but also politics. The craziest of the crazy in D.C. and the media are busy screaming 24/7 that this Black disease from Black countries is being deliberately spread by the Black man occupying the White House (…but they’re not racist, heavens no) and lying most energetically about how the disease is spread, and offering plenty of “helpful” solutions, including executing the infected.

    Man, that takes me back! Remember when no one gave a damn about AIDS because it was a “queer” disease? And then they found heteros could get it too and the entire nation crapped itself in gotta-do-SOMEthing terror? Can you imagine what America would have done if America’s most ignorant, God-bothering, science-and-education-loathing teabaggers were in control of the White House then? Or now?

  2. Tristan

    He’s reading Breitbart.

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