|04:53 pm - My View on Swine Flu and Mushrooms|
It suddenly occurred to me that our culture of "preparedness" is perhaps the most sensible way to understand the government's response to swine flu. On the one hand, its a bad epidemic, and people are dying, but not in anything like the numbers of the 1918 flu and certainly not like Alex Jones was prophesying even quite recently. At the same time, the president and the various public health organs are going absolutely balls-to-the-wall on the reporting, vaccination and containment efforts. Part of this may be risk aversity- really, is the benefit of "taking it easy" worth even a single marginal point in the mortality statistics?- but part of it is also the (relatively recent) understanding that in addition to being a way to address a current crisis, every response is a rehearsal for the next crisis which might actually be that Alex Jones-scale catastrophe we're all afraid of. None of this would justify a negative risk-benefit analysis for a particular vaccine, but for inconvenient-yet-harmless measures like turning gymnasiums and libraries into vaccination clinics, it makes a lot of sense.
In other news, say what you want about the old ways and their chemical implausibility, here we are three days after the orionids (and still seeing 'em) and guess what crops up in the softball field next to the dog park? Amanita muscaria. Lots of 'em. I'm telling you, they come from shooting stars.