Plague – by Karen

21 Dec

Do you remember last round of Far Flung Four, when we had the topic Avian? I had an unpublished article on pandemic preparedness subculture which I was able to post. I still think that’s a fascinating topic, but sadly this year I don’t have any rejected articles handy on this similar theme, Plague. It was kind of funny/sad that the owner of the main web forum on the topic discovered my post, and interpreted my comments as meaning I thought they were all paranoid nutters. I wish I thought they were all paranoid nutters. The truth is, I totally buy into the whole paranoia/preparedness/bunker-building mentality. If I didn’t have a “sane” partner, I would totally have a bunker in my backyard.

I love survivalism too – totally dug The Road, by Cormac McCarthy and sort of yearn for a world where McGuyver skills and arcane bush tucker knowledge (neither of which I possess) could come to the fore. Hmm, perhaps this ties in with the heroism issues I blogged about earlier? God, I also posted an apocalyptic poem by Yeats and a revelation-style musing of my own. This blog is painting an interesting picture of my character. Why is no one else coming off as unhinged here? Don’t answer that.

Anyhow, Hollywood’s perseveration on these themes assures me I am not alone in their enjoyment. I was discussing with a friend recently the frisson we all experience when a major world event takes place – the idea that everything could change inspires an undiscriminating and usually foolhardy excitement. Apocalypse ASAP.

Knowing I “take a keen interest”, Richard emailed me a link to this article reporting a new crop of cases of avian flu in Hong Kong. This is the choice paragraph:

“It is unfortunate that an avian influenza case is detected before the Winter Solstice, necessitating a halt to the supply of live chickens,” Chow said.


The thing about avian flu is that once infected,  you’re more likely to die than not. With something like swine flu, your odds are much better, but on the other hand, avian flu doesn’t spread easily from human to human like swine flu. Some think it’s only a matter of time before we get a double whammy.

Whenever there’s a “scare” in the media of some kind, it’s not just the paranoids like me that get excited. There’s also another group I find interesting psychologically. Let’s call them the stoic stalwarts. These people have been excitedly waiting for a different opportunity –  not to trek into the hills to live in a cave, but to Not Have Been Wrong. Students of historical events where people were Wrong and “panicked for nothing”, the stoic stalwarts are determined to show how clever and calm they can be, listing all the instances in the past (Y2K! Swine Flu! SARS… oh wait, lots of people died in that one) where a potential problem was thwarted by human organisation or proved not to be a concern. These people will leap on such illustrious platforms as the SMH comments (shudder) at the first opportunity, determined to have it on record that they did not panic.

Of course, when it comes to the modern day plague, there is a middle ground available to all you reasonable readers. Relax, and check your vitamin D (43 per cent of young Australian women are deficient).


PS Just saw this article after posting!


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