Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bubonic plague. Now THERE'S a pandemic.

Here's a paraphrase of a comment I posted on Pajiba this morning:

150 people dead in Mexico .... out of, what, 108 million? I mean, it's sad for their families and everything, but.. pandemic? Really? I don't think this counts as a pandemic. I don't even think it qualifies as an epidemic. Let's consult Merriam Webster:

ep·i·dem·ic : affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time


pan·dem·ic : occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population


It's less than 1% of the population. Just of Mexico. Actually, it's like one/1,000,000th of the population. Previous pandemics have killed up to 1/2 the population of a given continent (or the human population... let's see, divided by... carry the one... 2/100,000,000th of the world pop).

So, nope.


Then I went to the BBC news website. Here's what it had to say regarding numbers in this "pandemic":
  • Out of 168 deaths in Mexico, only 8 are confirmed to be swine flu.
  • There is 1 confirmed death in the U.S.
  • In the rest of the world, there are a total of 157 confirmed and 13 suspected cases.
Here's the breakdown:
U.S.-109 confirmed cases. That's cases, NOT deaths.
New Zealand-3 confirmed, 13 suspected cases.
Canada-19 confirmed cases.
U.K.-8 confirmed cases.
Spain-10 confirmed cases.
Israel, Costa Rica-2 confirmed cases each.
Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Peru-1 confirmed case each.

So that's a total, then, of 9 confirmed deaths from swine flu, and 160 more possible deaths. Since all 170 of the instances where people have the virus have evidently been reported, one presumes that those people are seeking medical attention and are going to recover, since it's easily treatable. An international panic is happening over 9 deaths.


Let's assume pessimistically for a moment that all 160 unconfirmed deaths in Mexico turn out to be definitely swine flu. And let's also suppose that those 170 other reported cases die as well. That's a total of 339 deaths. Now let's suppose those people have all infected 3 other people each, and those people all die. That's a total of 1,356 deaths from swine flu. Now let's look at the world population: and we'll round down to 6.7 million. Even assuming this, it's still only 2/100,000ths of the population of the world.

Again, look at the definitions of epidemic and pandemic above. To me, an "exceptionally high proportion of the population" is just that... exceptionally high. Like, 25% high. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that 10% can be considered exceptionally high. That means a minimum of 670,000 people need to be infected. We've got 669,661 cases to go before we reach epidemic proportions. Can we please stop panicking about every little thing? Please?

It's no Black Death, people (cripes, it's not even the Hong Kong flu epidemic of '68). Now there's a pandemic for you.

Here's something to make you feel better though:

Aww! Now there's something you could die from... perhaps it should be called the Adorable Death.

(Cross-posted at Vox)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Writing is the flip side of sex – it's good only when it's over.*

So what, exactly, happened to all my creative juice?

I started this blog, and I've had nothing to say about anything since. I've watched lots of things, including Buffy (again), the Lost Boys (again, and it made me want to do a real-time review), Let The Right One In (for the first time), Showgirls (again, for the umpteenth time, and I really, REALLY want to do a real-time review of that, because it would be so. Much. Fun.), Heathers (which I hadn't watched in a long time, and forgot how much awesome it actually contains), that animated Wonder Woman origins movie, Pinocchio (for the first time in probably 25 years), Drop Dead Gorgeous (Kirstie Alley and Denise Richards are hilarious in that movie), started Firefly again... well, you get the idea. So why is it that I have nothing to say, nothing to write?

It's not like I never have thinks to say (ha! That was kind of a Freudian slip of sorts, but I let it stand, because it's an apt description). I often think of profound subjects to write about, of deep philosophical ideas generated by an episode of Dollhouse (oh, shut it) or an umpteenth viewing of any given season of Buffy. Sometimes I see things online, or advertisements, that make me crazy. This morning on my commute to work I was listening to the classical music station, and they played an advertisement for that Broadway thing, Rock of Ages, in which a review was quoted that said something like "even straight guys will like it!" and I was like, Really? Are we going there? Is that acceptable, somehow? Reinforcing that stereotype of musicals and women and gay men? I had an entire conversation with myself in the car, and I made some excellent points, none of which I can now recall to write about.

Well, now I'm thoroughly disgusted with myself. Clearly I need a scolding. That's it! This weekend. I am doing it. I am sitting down and I am watching something - anything - and I am writing about it. I don't care how much homework I have, or how much time my family or friends want to spend with me, I am fitting it in.

There, I feel better now. Off to more Firefly, then dinner at Sister's house!

* that title is a quote I found from Hunter S. Thompson. I gotta read some of that guy's stuff.