Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I drove over to pick up a package today and the guy on my satellite radio's Fox News feed was reeling off the monumental casualty list from the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, angry at his government for not completely sealing the border to Mexico, something I've heard him rant about in other contexts many times in the past.

It was the current state of American journalism at its finest. Sensationalism mixed with dubious research and a slice of political bias on the side.

There always seems to be a way for people blinkered by their preconceptions to mutate the day's events into a convenient diatribe. I'm sure by tonight, Geraldo Rivera will have traced the virus to a Mexican Druglord swineherd sympathetic to the Taliban.

The Fox guy then began interviewing a "confirmed victim" of the Swine Flu, ignoring the man's chipper insistance that he was actually feeling a lot better, to ask if his neighbors were afraid to come near him.

I punched the CBC News button and got a doctor involved in monitoring the current status of the outbreak calmly offering a list of what you could do to lessen your chances of infection.

It was a nice example of how our two countries are different.

I parked and walked into the parcel place, discovering that the girl at the counter was already wearing a surgical mask. Actually, it wasn't a surgical mask, it was one of those dollar store jobs you buy when you're clearing out the basement or garage. I gave her the slip for my package and asked if she thought it was doing any good. She said something, but I couldn't make it out because of the mask.

When she brought my package, the cloud of pollen I'd walked through to get into the place finally got to me and I sneezed. She reacted as if I'd pulled a gun on her. So I got her down off the ceiling fan by telling her a joke I remember from the last time Swine Flu came around in 1976....

The symptoms of the disease are fever, aches and a tendency to roll around in mud.

Because of the mask, I'm not sure if she laughed or even smiled. The guy next to me said he didn't think the joke was very funny.

I told him it wasn't -- but at least it wasn't making things worse.

Look, I don't know if this is the end of the world or just a sign that the End Times have arrived. But beyond washing my hands more often and not taking a tour of the agricultural outskirts of Cancun, there's not a lot I can do.

But please stop asking me to be afraid, because that doesn't do any good at all -- and it also makes me go looking for pictures like this...

Laughter really is the best medicine. If you find something, send it along and I'll stick it up. It may not help. But it sure won't hurt.


Mark said...

Is the name 'Fox' news derived from the character Foxy Loxy, the fox that ate all the chickens in the fable 'The Sky is Falling'?

Coincidence? Well, probably but fitting nonetheless. They will eat our children.

Anonymous said...

Well, the CBC might be doing ok in the "sell the steak, not the sizzle" sweepstakes (is that a tortured metaphor or what?), but the rest of the Canadian media seems to be in full "Sky is Falling" mode.

I guess they can't just sex up "wash your hands and cough into your sleeve" enough.

And, as Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" has already pointed out, swine flu is about #100 on the things that can kill you in Mexico. Number one? "Bullet flu"...

If Toronto had had a real mayor back during the SARS crisis, and not a circus midget, it would have gone like this:

"You know, Mr. CNN Talking Head, flu kills 36,000 Americans a year. XXX of them were in Atlanta. Do YOU feel safe?".

Anybody remember the Italian earthquake. Killed a few hundred people...anybody? Just a few weeks ago. Bueller? Anyone?

M J Reid said...

If the media had their way, they'd change the H1N1 common name from "swine flu" to "PIGGIE-GEDDON".