_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ebola: And It Goes Like This

Doctor, Doctor help me please, I know you'll understand
There's a time device inside of me, I'm a self-destructin' man

There's a Red, under my bed
And there's a little green man in my head
And he said, "you're not goin' crazy, you're just a bit sad
'Cause there's a man in ya, gnawin' ya, tearin' ya into two."

-
Destroyer, The Kinks, 1981
   Give the People Want They Want

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

We Americans sure are a fearful people, aren’t we?

We’re always terrified of something.

If there’s one thing that epitomizes the American spirit, it’s fear.

We’re always pissing our collective pants over something.  We’re always terrified of one boogeyman or another.  We live in a perpetual state of constant pants wetting, we Americans.

We’re addicted to it. Fear. We just can’t get enough of being afraid.

It’s the emotion that defines modern America, fear.  Knee knocking, spine tingled, sphincter loosening, pants wetting fear. 

That’s us.

When we don’t have something to be afraid of, we make something up. 

We’re afraid of enemies foreign and domestic and everything in between. Clinical paranoia has got nothing on us as a nation, we see enemies everywhere. We’re afraid we’ll get invaded. We’re afraid we’re being invaded right now. Hell, we’re afraid we’ve already been invaded.  We’re afraid of the Chinese and the Russians and Mexico. We’re afraid of foreigners and we’re afraid of our neighbors. We’re afraid of conservatives and we’re afraid of liberals. We’re afraid of the young and we’re afraid of the old, we’re afraid of the rich and we’re utterly terrified by the poor. We’re afraid of terrorism and we’re afraid to fly and we’re afraid of the TSA.  We’re afraid of Nazis, and communists, and European style socialism.  We’re afraid of wind turbines and fracking and solar panels and electric cars, we’re desperately afraid somebody is going to come take away our giant trucks, and we’re afraid we’re going to run out of oil. We’re afraid to go to the store unarmed and we’re afraid of people with guns, we’re afraid we don’t have enough guns and we’re afraid that we might have too many. We’re afraid of the white cops and brown gangbangers and the yellow horde.  We’re afraid of kids with saggy pants and we’re afraid of that rock & roll music and we’re afraid of the establishment.  We’re afraid the government isn’t doing enough to keep us safe and we’re afraid the government is going to do too much. We’re afraid our kids are uneducated idiots and we’re afraid of education. We’re afraid of disease and we’re afraid of vaccines. We’re afraid of religion and we’re afraid of evolution and we’re afraid of climate change and we’re afraid of industrial disease. 

We’re afraid of death and we’re afraid of taxes.

We’re afraid of our past, and we’re afraid of the present, and we’re utterly terrified of the future.

Last week it was the Islamic State.

The week before it was … something. I forget. IRS? Benghazi? FEMA death camps? Illegal immigration? The Ukraine? The National Debt, the Deficit? Gay Marriage? The Arab Spring? Chemtrails? 2012? Fluoridation? The Rapture? Bird Flu? Missing airliners? Obama? Bush? The Reds? I’m afraid I just can’t remember any more, we’ve been afraid for so long that it all just runs together.

What it comes down to is that last week we were afraid of this week and this week we’re afraid of last week.

 

And now? Today? Today we’re afraid of Ebola.

 

There’s an old military adage popularized by Herman Wouk’s classic tale of paranoia and fear, The Caine Mutiny. And it goes like this:

When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!

That should be America’s motto.

E pluribus unum? Out of many, one? Obviously we don’t believe in that, do we?

No we don’t. Out of many one? Why that just smacks of things we’re afraid of, socialism and communists and illegal immigration. In fact, that E pluribus unum stuff just plain terrifies us, doesn’t it?

So we replaced it with In God We Trust.

But that’s complete bullshit too, isn’t it?

And In God We Trust? Trust? In God? Don’t make me snort chocolate milk through my nose.

If there’s one thing we don’t trust, it’s God. God has serious anger issues. That crazy bastard once wiped out the entire world in a fit of pique, right? And that’s the guy you trust? Really? Hell, the most pious believer doesn’t really trust God, does he? If anything, that’s what believers fear most, their God. They’re terrified he’s going to do something crazy. That’s the defining criteria of religion, don’t make God angry. Lightning bolts and poison toads from the sky. Plague. Flood. Famine. Rivers of blood. That’s what they tell us, isn’t it? Oh, you’d better not make God mad, or he’ll smite us all.  For them, God is like a Mafia protection racket, better pay up and be respectful while you’re doing it, or else God will burn your house down and cast you into the pit. 

Yeah, let’s trust that guy.

And it’s pretty obvious that religious Americans really don’t trust their God to keep them safe, from Ebola or terrorists or anything else, otherwise they wouldn’t go around armed and demanding that we seal our borders.  Q.E.D, Folks, just saying.

No, if there’s any motto that describes America today, it’s Herman Wouk: Run in circles, scream and shout.

Be afraid, be very very afraid.

We should put that on the money.

We demand fear as our right, we Americans.

Over the last month, we’ve been talking about Ebola on my Facebook page a lot. Now, the thousands of people who make up my Facebook audience are, as a general rule, a reasonable and fairly sane bunch of people – this isn’t an accident, I’m careful who I let into my playground.  But a month ago when I first mentioned the disease and suggested that compared to measles and the flu and AIDS/HIV, Ebola wasn’t exactly something Americans should be panicking over, I had to unfriend a number of folks who became obnoxious and almost literally demanded that I wasn’t afraid enough to suit them.  A week ago when I said that, as an American, you’re far more likely to trip over your cat and take a fatal header down the stairs than you are of dying from Ebola, the same thing happened. And, yesterday, when I again pointed out that, especially as an American, you’re a whole lot more likely to die from random gun violence at the mall than you are of contracting Ebola, I immediately started getting letters from frightened angry people, some hoping I get the disease and die a slow painful death, presumably so that they can feel justified in their pants-wetting fear, and many again telling me that I need to be afraid of the coming plague. Many of the messages were outraged that I had the effrontery to counsel calm and reason instead of fear and panic. Because not being terrified is just plain unAmerican.

And it’s not just me, is it?

That’s one of the chief complaints about Obama. How dare the president be calm and rational? How dare he tell Americans not to panic? 

“That’s a paradox of a president in a crisis,” says Jeremy Mayer, a political scientist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “If he seems to be taking it too seriously, he’ll encourage a panic. But if he doesn’t take it seriously enough, he’s seen as lackadaisical.”

That’s the complaint, Obama isn’t emotional enough. He approaches a crisis like a law professor, calm, rational, let’s solve the problem. But, we don’t want that,we want an angry emotional rant about fear.  We want the President to declare war! Yes! War On Ebola! That’s what we Americans want, another war! You’re either with us or against us! Stand the Navy out to sea, launch the stealth bombers, open the missile silos! To the Bunkers, America! We start bombing at dawn!

First we were afraid that Obama wasn’t going to appoint an “Ebola Czar.” Now we’re afraid that he did.

No matter what, we’re determined to be afraid. Panic, it’s our right as Americans, it doesn’t really matter what Obama says or does, Americans are determined to panic no matter what.

We’re conditioned to it. When the bell rings, we drool.

In fact, if Obama tells you there’s no reason to panic, that’s a reason to panic!

"The U.S. must immediately stop all flights from Ebola infected countries or the plague will start and spread inside our 'borders.' Act fast!" screamed Donald Trump.

Nations have done this in the past, restricted travel. Quarantine. It doesn’t work. Viruses don’t care about borders.

Hiding from the disease won’t cure it.

And really? You’re listening to Donald Trump? About disease? Okay, sure, if he was maybe talking about catching a case of the Clap, but Ebola? C’mon.

"Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning," worries Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey.

There are no, repeat no, cases of Ebola crossing the border in such a manner. None. The only “reports” of such are made up fever dreams manufactured whole cloth by those who profit from peddling fear to a terrified America. In fact, due to the nature of the disease and the process of illegal immigration itself, it would be almost impossible for someone infected with Ebola to enter the US in this way.

But then, a Southern Conservative painting brown people from Central America as dirty diseased vermin isn’t really anything new, is it?

Ebola just gives the old fearful racism a convenient cover.

"I don't know, but I think this Ebola epidemic is a form of population control. Shit is getting crazy bruh," tweeted rapper Chris Brown.

I don’t know. But I’m afraid anyway. I don’t know. But I’m sure they’re coming to get us. I don’t know. I don’t know.  But I’m scared, it’s getting crazy!

But then again, maybe Brown has a point:

 

That’s Todd Kincannon, former head of South Carolina's GOP, rabid pro-lifer, and morally superior right-wing God-warrior.

Kill ‘em all, let God sort it out.  Ain’t nothing more American than that kind of compassionate conservatism, eh?

Sorry about the napalm, Brown People, but we’ve got to look out for ourselves. You know how it is.

All the usual pundits, from Rush Limbaugh to Glenn Beck to Anne Coulter to Michael Savage have declared their firm belief that President Obama is going to deliberately infect the United States with Ebola in order to do … something something terrible death camps kill Whitey revenge something something OH NOES!  They’re not alone, Larry Klayman, conservative nutbar extraordinaire, filed a lawsuit against President Obama last week for “providing material support and aid to international terrorism and facilitating terrorism” by not implementing a travel ban on people from countries facing an Ebola outbreak.  Klayman is the non-veteran who led the “Million Veteran March” to the White House last year under the banner of the Confederate Battle Flag and demanded Obama’s surrender and trial by a self-appointed Citizen’s Grand Jury for something something terrible death camps kill Whitey revenge something something. 

If you’re terrified of being ebolanated, look around, these are the people you’re standing with.

Think about it.

You can disagree with the President, but if you believe even slightly that Obama is planning on infecting white people with Ebola in revenge for slavery so he can herd them into FEMA camps and turn America into Africa then you. Are. Fucking. Crazy.  You’re beyond booger eating stupid. You are a drooling racist moron so eaten up with fear that you’ve lost all ability to reason.  If you give people like Beck, Limbaugh, Coulter, Klayman, or the sorry excuse for what passes as news media nowadays any credence whatsoever, then you are nuts. You’re a paranoid frightened little pants wetter who can’t seem to understand that these people are literally fear-mongers in that they profit hugely from making you afraid, making America afraid. Fear. Paranoia. That’s their stock in trade. If you weren’t afraid, these people would have to get real jobs.

Here’s what it comes down to, Folks, this right here: There is always going to be some crisis. Always.

There is always going to be some crisis. That’s the nature of the world. 

There are always challenges to face.

There are always puzzles to solve.

There are always problems to overcome.  And when you solve them, there will be another, and another, and another. Forever.

That’s the nature of life.

The test of character is how you face those problems. 

The true test of character, for people, for nations, for civilization itself, is how you rise to the occasion.

Ebola isn’t the end of the world.

Ebola isn’t even an actual crisis, at least it doesn’t have to be.

Ebola is just another problem to solve.  And when we solve it, there will be another disease. And another after that.  There are a million things that may kill us, that’s just how it is.

We’ve faced far worse diseases, far worse problems, far worse threats, and we have risen to far greater challenges.

We are the United States of America. We’re Canada. We’re the United Kingdom. We’re France. We’re Germany. We’re Spain. We’re Mexico. We’re Russia.  

We’re ten thousand years of scientific advance. 

We’re the human race.

We are the species that makes other species extinct.

And it’s about time we remembered that.

You shouldn’t be afraid of Ebola, Ebola should be afraid of us.

We can beat Ebola.

And we will.

We can wipe it from the face of the earth, just like polio and small pox – diseases I’ll remind you that once killed far, far, far more people than Ebola ever has.  Those diseases are gone, or beaten into submission, we remain.

In this regard Ebola is a metaphor for larger, far more important things.

We can solve all the problems we face, disease, poverty, food, energy, all of it. And we don’t need divine intervention to do it.

We just have to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

We just have to stop being afraid all of the time.

 

Silly boy ya' self-destroyer!
Paranoia, the destroyer!
Self-destroyer, wreck your health
Destroy friends, destroy yourself
The time device of self-destruction
Light the fuse and start eruption
(Yea, it goes like this, here it goes)
Paranoia, the destroyer
(Here's to paranoia)
Paranoia, the destroyer
(Hey hey, here it goes)
Paranoia, the destroyer
(And it goes like this)
Paranoia, the destroyer
(And it goes like THIS!)

118 comments:

  1. Pretty much. America over the last 15 years has turned into a nation that glorifies being "pissed-your-pants scared", a nation of cowards, looking for the next security blanket to hold like a troubled toddler afraid of the dark.

    All because its easier to stoke fear, than to admit you don't know about something - more profitable too.

    If only America would start to grow up, and face its demons, instead of capitulating to them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wish you could go on Fox and talk with Shep Smith about this. He offered up a segment on Ebola the other day that was breathtaking in its sanity.

    (And the Kinks for the win!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ebola fear mongering in hopes of winning elections...what will the reich wing think of next?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reich Wing--wow! That term should go viral!

      Delete
    2. Umm, it has. In fact, it went viral many years ago, during the Bush regime.

      Delete
  4. Jim, I simply love you. Well said!

    ReplyDelete
  5. CHEERS! STANDING OVATION! WOO WOOT! On spot Jim!!!! I am clapping and cheering right now!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Since you posted this, more people in the US have died of gun shots, than have yet died of Ebola.

    ReplyDelete
  7. **Klayman is the non-veteran who led the “Million Veteran March” to the White House last year under the banner of the Confederate Battle Flag and demanded Obama’s surrender and trial by a self-appointed Citizen’s Grand Jury for something something terrible death camps kill Whitey revenge something something. **
    By the way... was there ever an accurate account of how many actual vets joined that march?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think about this often whenever I hear / read someone fretting about ISIL attacking us on our soil or immigrants coming over the border... and wondering why we aren't afraid of them...

    Hell, Americans shoot and kill more of their fellow citizens than any other civilized country. Some dude in FL shot and killed a black teen with skittles and got off scott free. Cops shoot down unarmed citizens at an alarming rate, and most citizens (well, the white ones) cheer them on. Kids are killed, deliberately or by accident, by the thousands every year due to gun violence.

    We lose more on the highways every year than we did in the WTC and no one blinks a fucking eye. And, it should be noted, that when the WTC went down, our then President asked Americans to go to NYC an shop and THEY DID.

    Scared of ISIL or anyone else coming on our borders? That's nuts... anyone with any sense should be scared of coming here, we have almost more guns and weapons than we do citizens laying around, and there are legion of cases of citizens mistakenly shooting family members in the middle of the night... and we should be scared of a few extremists who live thousands of miles away?

    It's nutty and manipulative...

    and these same fuckers who are worried about Ebola suddenly evolving and becoming airborne-contagious (which isn't even possible) are the same lunkheads who deny evolution and whine about how bad immunizations and flu shots...

    Sick, stupid and tiresome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, Fox and their ilk on TV and talk radio only go on about Ebola because it's from Africa... in America, too often it comes down to hating on the black and brown people.

      and listen, fuck Shep Smith, too... he takes their paycheck to be their token charm that they can point to and claim they're not completely insane whenever the crazy hits critical mass... he's just a clutch for them, which he and they know...

      Delete
    2. I do pity Shep Smith somewhat. I think Katrina shocked him out of his comfortable white privilege/Fox News World cocoon, and the knowledge still haunts him. Yes, he's sold his soul to the company store, but there's a conscience still gnawing at him in there, and at times you can see it in his eyes.

      Delete
  9. I have been trying to simply make fun of all the fear-mongering that is surrounding us. But there is a very serious side. The cynical part of me can't help but notice that there is a certain element within our country who seem to be ROOTING for widespread outbreaks of Ebola in this country. And it all seems to stem from this continued desire to do whatever is necessary to paint our government and the President as wholly to blame for anything at all that befalls anyone as a result of this disease. Even those things which don't actually happen get blamed as if they were actual occurrences. Everything continues to be part of this widespread conspiracy that has purportedly been imminent now since 2008. It's a "conspiracy of the gaps", though, much like the "god of the gaps" argument against evolution. Everything is all tied together, and all that "the gubmint" needs to do is put together a couple more pieces and the plan will be complete. THEN, the plan will be complete and "the gubmint" will finally be coming for you. But when those two pieces come together, it only creates TWO MORE gaps that need to be filled in. So the conspiracy is still in process. And as soon as those two NEW gaps are filled in, THEN "the gubmint" will be coming for you. But those two new gaps lead to four more gaps that need filled in. It is an infinite regression, and the conspiracy nuts have no problem finding any kind of distorted rationale so it makes sense to them. Now if it was only a few wacky guys on the internet, it might be a very big deal. But one of our two major political parties is feeding this monster. And maybe about 60-75 million people are all fanning its flames. No good end can come from this, unless you are a disgustingly craven individual who is aiding and abetting this insanity and fear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with you.

      Delete
    2. "Divide and conquer." The ancient strategy, still working for the FUD-shovelers. Who does it? Why? Just ask yourself: Cui bono?

      Delete
  10. "And the Dream shall never die". Remember who you are, and where you come from.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nothing to add to that, execpt some heartfelt appreciation for having the rant that we all realized we should have had. In this case, next to this, we're all having an attack of the wisdom of the stairwell.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Beyond booger eating stupid." Best line I've read all day. You are spot on, as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Counsel" instead of "consul." And thanks for saying what needed to be said.

    ReplyDelete
  14. i'm afraid i just won't be afraid anymore. out loud. you fucking kill me jim. that's what i really should be afraid of. i love you man. this is what did it for me this time: "You can disagree with the President, but if you believe even slightly that Obama is planning on infecting white people with Ebola in revenge for slavery so he can herd them into FEMA camps and turn America into Africa then you. Are. Fucking. Crazy. You’re beyond booger eating stupid. You are a drooling racist moron so eaten up with fear that you’ve lost all ability to reason."

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think some of these guys have watched Aliens one too many times - "Nuke em from orbit, it's the only way to be sure."

    ReplyDelete
  16. The fearmongers have done their work well. People are going insane and you can't reach them with facts, they think it's just more gubmint lies. Behold, the craziness infecting the salt of the earth in Maine:

    http://www.pressherald.com/2014/10/17/fearing-ebola-strong-elementary-teacher-on-leave-after-traveling-to-dallas/

    That's right, a teacher goes to a conference in Dallas, ten miles from the hospital where Mr. Duncan died, and terrified parents are convinced a wave of The Dread Pirate Ebola is about to sweep through their school. And the school board gives in to the idiocy. My favorite comment on the article by one Andrew Schaefer: "This is like blowing up your house because you saw a cockroach in your kitchen, and then napalming the entire neighborhood just to be sure, and then pouring ten feet of cement over all of it."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That teacher reported that she "might" have been exposed to Ebola. Which sounds like a pretty clever way to get a three-week paid vacation to me.

      Delete
    2. "The Dread Pirate Ebola" to wit one can only say "As you wish!"

      Delete
  17. A great deal of effort has been spent to make us this afraid, just as in the 1950s and 1920s much effort was spent making us afraid. This is not a new observation on the left. It is distressingly common historically, but we have never been able to figure out what to do about it, and often enough the fear gun is pointed at us. It's very sad, and I wish the people who run our mass media would CUT IT OUT ALREADY.

    BTW, leftist political science professor Corey Robin wrote a book entitled Fear: The History of a Political Idea. It might be worth a look.

    ReplyDelete
  18. There are more US citizens that die from flu, or gun violence, or accidents every day than have become infected by ebola, ever. THIS IS NOT A CRISIS! It's totally incomprehensible to me.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Well said. Now excuse me Jim, as a good American and upstanding patriot, I have to go hide under the bed until the NRA says it is OK to come out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you cleared it of ISIS yet??? I usually get good internet if I slide my laptop to the edge....but the camo netting keeps getting in the way...watch out for dust bunnies, they are a dangerous group as well...be Afraid and stay Scared...I cannot hardly hide the shame I feel for America, when I hear the fear...

      Delete
  20. Love this - They need to stop spiking the Kool-aid.

    ReplyDelete
  21. (Reads this, stands up and applauds)

    Well-written and funny--thanks again, Jim!

    ReplyDelete
  22. As fine an article as can be found anywhere on the subject of FEAR IN AMERICA. Witty, wonderful, and awesome! So much truth found here. When I finished reading, I was just in a state of total admiration for Jim Wright. What a great day when I stumbled upon his blog a while back. Like someone said above, I felt the need to stand up and applaud!!!!!!!!! This should be REQUIRED reading for all Americans right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You nailed it, on all counts.

      Delete
  23. Jim, you're the only sane writer on the internet. I so look forward to your columns, and wish they could make their way to major television shows for reading to the public. I'm 72 and have lived in Alaskan for 70 of those years (actually conceived here, but Dad went to Dutch Harbor to building army barracks, and Mom went south to live with relatives until my birth. I especially like that you're an Alaskan with brains (unlike so many of our politicians). Great work!

    ReplyDelete
  24. "Ebola isn’t even an actual crisis."

    True for developed nations but unfortunately not so true for at least three West African countries. Perhaps this Ebola hysteria will lead to a vaccine or cure since the disease has now gone beyond Africa.

    As usual a great article. Personally, I prefer a calm President to one who is always running his mouth. I'm not sure what more President Obama could do in regards to Ebola. Republicans voted down his Surgeon General nominee and that position is still empty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, it's more of a crisis in West Africa than it has to be. For one thing, this tends to crop up from they believe bats are the natural carriers, in remote areas, where people think things like drinking bat urine will cure them. Ebola has about a 50% fatality rate in those areas. And when people who are already infected run in fear after holding a loved one's hand and wiping their sweaty brow just before they wipe their own sweaty brow and then rub their eyes, they carry it to a relative in a similar village 10 miles away. And by the time authorities know there is an outbreak going on and respond, it's already well under way and almost impossible to easily contain.

      The current outbreak is, frankly, the worst one yet. But there have been outbreaks of what we know we have identified as Ebola since 1976. It will run it's course as an outbreak, and probably long before it does nearly as much horror as the Black Death or the Spanish Flu pandemic.

      Delete
  25. Like FDR told us....we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Good article, Jim!

    ReplyDelete
  26. There's such a teenage component to all this fear-mongering, isn't there? It sounds so reminiscent of the "I'll die and then won't YOU be sorry!" to me. "We're all gonna get Ebola/invaded/overrun by rabid possums, and it'll be Obama's fault, and then you'll see I was right but by then I'll be dead and won't YOU be sorry!" *sigh* Is it because we're such a young country, in the grand scheme of things? Is this us suffering through our teenage years?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Touché ! As usual, I quite agree. Americans seem so paranoid, I wish they could relax a bit and not be so quick to reach for their guns. We have done much traveling all over the lower 48 over the past 50 years, but I'm a little afraid to do so these days. We haven't been down for three years. I hope they start getting tighter with their gun laws.
    Elaine in Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I don't know, personally, a single soul who has his or her hair on fire over ebola or ISIS or any of these other issues. I am aware of some people who are, but it's mostly the media and people who have their knickers in a wad over something most of the time. I think they are a vocal minority...and the media loves crap like that. So, while I can understand your rant, and it is a righteous one, I still believe MOST of us are not scared shitless or anywhere near it. So...I'd prefer to see the blame and ridicule accurately placed. You're good at that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This, too, is my take. A disgusting media driven outrage-du-jour to keep people turning on the teevee. Brainwashing. The seriousness of it gets lost in the hype, and intelligent folks can't be heard in the uproar. I am particularly glad with your focus on the In God We Trust crowd, who can't seem to figure out how they can't have it both ways. Thanks for a calm forum and insightful dialog.

      Delete
  29. In that first bit, you keep saying "we". We're afraid, we live in fear, we, we, we.

    What's this "we" stuff, Kemosabe? I don't live in fear. Not of my neighbor, not of my government, not of the "other", not ebola, not ISILISOSX, nothing. Why? Because it's not doing me any good to be afraid.

    Now all that "we" stuff at the end? That's more like it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the statistical "we," not to mention media "we." Families that are crazy can have sane members, too, but the family is still crazy.

      Delete
    2. Agreed, Victor. Besides, all that pants-wetting makes for a really bad rash...

      Delete
  30. How to avoid getting Ebola if you are not a healthcare worker directly involved with a patient:
    1. Don't lick sweaty people who are bleeding from the eyes.
    2. See #1.

    BTW... When I say "I hate you," you do understand it's just jealousy, right, Mr. Wright? Just because I can't write that well that apparently easily.

    ReplyDelete
  31. just got this on my facebook page - more americans have married kim kardashian than have died from ebola. put things in perspective for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, and as I read earlier today, one of chief fear-mongers Rush Limbaugh has had more wives than there are Ebola patients in the US.

      Delete
  32. Spot on, Jim, as is ever the case.

    One addition to the unreasonable fear parade of power sources, however, and of course that's nuclear. *SIGH*

    Scott Burnell

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a different sort of danger; most fear is focused on catastrophe and the real risk is the long-term poisoning of the land we see around Chernobyl. Has that occurred around Fukushima? We don't yet know.

      People are not wrong to be afraid of nuclear power.

      Delete
    2. Making reasonable preparations for very unlikely events is fine, Raven. I'm referring to the paranoia and rampant fear-mongering that shows up on YouTube, Facebook, etc., every time the wind blows at Fukushima (where the natural disaster killed more than 15,000 while the effects of three reactor meltdowns are unlikely to even affect cancer rates in the area).

      Scott Burnell

      Delete
    3. I hate the fear-mongering, too, but for a somewhat different reason: it makes it impossible to discuss or act on the real risks. The reactor accident may make that land into a place where fallen leaves don't even rot perhaps for centuries. That's what has happened at Chernobyl.

      "Chernobyl: where the leaves don't decay" is not much of a headline, but ecologically it is horrifying. Decay fertilizes the land, and if plants don't decay, the land loses its fertility. In addition, that much undecayed vegetation is a fire hazard and fire can spread the radioactives.

      Chernobyl is on the road to being a place where nothing can live because nothing can properly die.

      Delete
  33. Everyone
    Blame
    Obama
    Like
    Always

    ReplyDelete
  34. Probably not the best thing to admit, but one of the reasons I stopped following the news was the mass fear that was being pushed relentlessly. About two years ago my family started making the switch from "helicopter-parenting" to a more free-range approach. Like Ebola, the chances of my child being abducted by a stranger are less likely than taking a header down the stairs courtesy of the cat. And we don't even have a cat.

    Thanks for imparting some sanity into the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you! I raised two free-range daughters who are now grown-up, doing well, and very adventurous.

      April

      Delete
  35. Thank you, Jim. I've gotten to the point that I shake my head when I see the fear mongering that goes on in the media nowadays and through my social networks. There is no reasoning with those that are irrationally afraid or paranoid about EVERYTHING.

    ReplyDelete
  36. We do not have more Americans who are afraid today then in the past, we have more Americans who have computers and the internet who can swamp every nook and cranny of the world wide web with their hysterical rants. We need a giant mute switch for stupid, irrational ranting.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I propose the new symbol if America should be a Bald Eagle wearing Depends.

    ReplyDelete
  38. This..

    "We are the United States of America. We’re Canada. We’re the United Kingdom. We’re France. We’re Germany. We’re Spain. We’re Mexico. We’re Russia.

    We’re ten thousand years of scientific advance.

    We’re the human race.

    We are the species that makes other species extinct.

    And it’s about time we remembered that.

    You shouldn’t be afraid of Ebola, Ebola should be afraid of us."

    is going on my wall. (Um, not a fb wall, my actual office wall.)

    Awesome as always!

    April

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'm afraid you are right.

    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  40. The Ebola "epidemic" in the United States isn't even an epidemic - so far, only three people are confirmed infected, and one of them is dead. I've lost as many family members in the past 15 years as people on American soil have been infected by Ebola, and they all lived long and full lives (they were also all grandparents, so it's not as if it was unexpected).

    And while a vocal and probably insane minority of Americans are scaring themselves shitless over an incident in a hospital that dropped the ball multiple times when it came to handling a patient with Ebola, thousands of people are dying of the disease in West Africa, and it's not like life there was a picnic in the first place. It's like going to the ER with a papercut, only to find out that the person next to you is bleeding from multiple stab wounds. It's insulting to all people who live in a part of the world where they're actually living with an epidemic.

    Maybe we are a nation of cowards (especially when you consider that it's been ~70 years since we last fought a shooting war with a country as powerful as we are), but maybe we don't have to be. Maybe we can be better than that.

    ReplyDelete
  41. With a pacifier.

    April

    ReplyDelete
  42. I'm a relatively new reader of Stonekettle. You are a rare, fresh voice of sanity in this world today. The fear mongering of the news outlets, and I mean all of them, but Fox News especially, has driven me off of all news programming. Please keep doing what you are doing. The fact that you can discuss these things with a large pinch of humor makes it easy for me to read. Once, when bad news was delivered to President Lincoln, he responded with a humorous comment. When asked how he could laugh at such a time, he is said to have responded that if he could not laugh, he surely must cry. I prefer to laugh at these things. It is better for my sanity. Thanks, Mr. Wright

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredOctober 20, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      Go peruse the "good stuff" in the archives. You'll not be disappointed.

      Delete
  43. One minor quibble. Our species does not represent 10,000 years of scientific advance. Not to say that previous generations did not have empirical wisdom, or that the Greeks did not lay some philosophical foundations, but until recently, argumentum ab auctoritate and pulling stuff out of some guru's ass was the major method of explaining the Universe. Widespread skeptical testing of hypotheses is only about 400 - 500 years old, and the application of that to biology has only about 250 - 300 years of traction. Which makes our advances (such as eradicating smallpox) all the more impressive, I think.

    ReplyDelete
  44. This makes too much sense. Are you sure you're an American?

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thousands of Americans die every year from the Flu, yet fewer than half get a flu shot.

    Two American Health Care workers have contracted Ebola and millions of Americans are shitting themselves in fear, shutting down schools, demanding travel restrictions, etc.

    What does that say about rationally evaluating risk ?

    Wait, don't answer that question; We Stonekettle insiders already know the answer thanks to Jim.

    ReplyDelete
  46. We can beat Ebola.

    And we will.


    Absolutely no doubt. Ask his buddy Plague, if you can find him. Oh, he's still around, but he tends to avoid us these days.


    And you know what, maybe I'm weird, but I'm actually encouraged, rather than worried, by the CDC and WHO admitting their fuckuppery. This is usually the kind of thing you'd find out after it was too late, but there there are, admitting error and moving to straighten up their acts before the world starts to look like Jerusalem in World War Z (jebus what a stinker), rather than later, when it's ass-covering time.

    I'm more worried about a giant meteor strike, myself....

    ReplyDelete
  47. I just got back from St Louis. While there, the History Channel had a story about the St Louis Cholera epidemic of 1849 that killed 6-8% of the population. It was thought to have airborne transmission. One person doubted this hypothesis, went door to door inquiring about deaths, and mapped them as he went. I stumbled upon the actual map while nosing through the library. The mapped showed that residents near some new water wells were contracting it and dying at high rates while workers at the brewery, however, were unaffected, helping to prove his theory that cholera was being carried by the water supply.

    What disease do we have that can kill 8% of the population of an American city? Let's panic then. And why can't we have some cool disease whose cure is to drink beer?

    ReplyDelete
  48. What did FDR say? "The only thing to fear is fear itself."
    I'm afraid that fear is the plague that will destroy us in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  49. The Ebola Faux Crisis is pointing out what GOP policies have done to our emergency health preparedness on both the state and federal levels. The real world consequences of underfunding the CDC. Not confirming important positions such as the Surgeon General. And now the fuckheads are screaming for a Ebola Czar.

    The screaming of Fear Fire Flood is monotonous - it's Peter crying wolf - and makes them look like cowards. The mid terms are going to be very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not cowards. Something else. What is the word I'm looking for? What do you call someone who stokes fear and terror to terrorize people?

      Delete
  50. The fear-mongering by the right is a diversionary tactic to keep people from worrying about losing their country and their government to corporate control and those with the deepest pockets. Pardon me for stating the obvious. The things people SHOULD worry about are obscured by these boogeymen and manufactured crises. Why else would they keep electing these drooling, brainless assholes to make the rules for them? The GOP and RWNJs have perfected the "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" political game. Humanely execute people? And this guy hasn't been pilloried by every media outlet that exists?? Jesus, I worry about finding another job in which I can finish the rest of my career with some kind of dignity and sense of accomplishment. I worry that cancer is becoming like the flu because I know so many people who either have it or have died from it. I worry that the hunger situation in this country will never get better. Hell, I worry that NOTHING in this country will ever get better for anyone besides CEOs and hedge fund managers. I worry that the majority of the Supreme Court is huffing paint in chambers, which would explain some of their recent decisions. I worry that someone will slice & dice classic Bugs Bunny cartoons because they're now considered racist. I worry my nieces and nephew will have to deal with a daily bullshit level ten times higher than any of us do right now. Ebola? The LEAST of my worries. People have completely lost their ability to prioritize what is and isn't important, mostly because (I think) they have their heads so far up their asses they could choke on their own uvulas.
    What? Me, worry?
    -Alfred E. Neuman

    Pam in Pa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You said it sister! And -- from my own "neck of the woods" -- two elementary students who visited Rwanda, a country with ZERO Ebola cases and 2,700 miles from the closest country with Ebola, are being kept out of school until the three week "incubation period" has passed. US citizen children, no less. I suspect the school nurse who got this started is a Fox News devotee.

      http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20141021_Maple_Shade_parents_struggle_with_Ebola_fears.html

      Delete
  51. Powerful essay. Boil it down to the bone, what Americans are afraid of is each other.

    That's it. All the rest is just some tag to hang on the 'other' so people can feel justified about working up a lather.

    When an army in rout reaches the point where the order goes out: every man for himself, it stops being an army and becomes a mere armed crowd in flight. In the same way, when a country stops being a place where every citizens duty is to work with the other citizens to build and maintain a civil society, it stops being a country and becomes a mere mob. In America's case also an armed mob. Armed, of course, against each other.

    A civil war of all against all. The dream scenario for those who would have away with everything of value. Wake up ye Jelly Knees.

    P.S. the rest of the known world seems to be able to deal with the threat of Ebola without so much hysteria. Must be the flouride in the U.S. water.



    ReplyDelete
  52. Hey Jim,
    I'm writing here because I no longer have FB. Sadly. And not so much. Last night I was made aware that FB "punished" Steve Marmel for 72 hours because of a meme he posted that spoke TRUTH. Wait a minute! Hold the goddamn phone! Who the FUCK do they think they are? How is it that they get to decide what is appropriate and what isn't? Because we let them? When you have a corporation that is too big to fail....well, need I say more? I know you've had your issue too. I've read them. I think we have a big problem here. Because FACEBOOK IS THE NEW THOUGHT POLICE. Not new even. I hope you write about this. In a blog. Here on SKS. Because I won't be seeing it you know where. FUCK THAT.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Absolutely spot on Jim.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Oh great! On top of everything else, now we have to be afraid of our McDonalds coffee!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thank you for this post. As someone that was getting caught up in the panic, I was really hoping you would write a post on this. And here it was, and it knocked a bit of needed sense and perspective into me. Thank you for this, and your service.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Maybe it comes down to the fact that the people with the most to lose are usually the most afraid.

    Peace
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The people with the most to lose would be the Koch Bros. and their ilk. There is only one thing they fear, and that is that the little people, who have already lost almost everything (including most of their dignity, which they squander on the likes of Beck and O'Reillly) will wake up and smell the coffee. And figure out who is the real enemy within.

      Delete
    2. The Koch Brothers et al don't fear the Little People. Why? Because “No one in this world… has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. H. L. Mencken (1926)

      Peace
      Chris

      Delete
  57. Thank you! This was pure genius and loooong over due! Someone needed to!! I'm new to your blog, having only read three entries, but I am an instant fan! I really hope great things for you and would love to see your insightful and real commentary go further.

    Jay

    ReplyDelete
  58. i can't reply to my last comment, so here i go again....looks like i found something new to get my panties in a wad over. :) and while i don't expect a guarantee pretty please with a cherry on top don't give away my spot on your friend's list. should FB seek to find the error of its evil way, i may return. someday. i do have a lot of friends and family there. and there's you. i fucking love you! and your minions! and the boisterous noise they make! and i miss it already.
    no need to publish. but feel free. just sayin....

    ReplyDelete
  59. Because I refuse to go to those sites that promote fear and loathing, I miss what you are describing. I must also admit that I am becoming somewhat of a recluse, loving my iMac too much and being able to go places unknown for so long rather than the MSM for my news. I was lucky in 2008 to have found my here among other places and that, I believe, has kept me sane.

    For the longest time I have firmly believed that all of these crisis have been exaggerated in order to divert from the real issues that are not being dealt with. I sincerely hope that everyone who is mentally stable and able to vote does (that would probably exclude a good proportion of ignoramuses and fear mongers out there). I am not sure I will get my wish, but ever hopeful I will remain.

    And like another poster above re unreasoned fear, we Kemosabe??? And, yes, Raven I read your response and understand it. I just had to ditto that since my earliest memory with my older brother and role playing was him as the Lone Ranger and I as Tonto.

    ReplyDelete
  60. It's all about infection control. In 2003 both Vancouver and Toronto had cases of SARS come in from Asia. in Toronto forty four people died ,in Vancouver 0 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3291383/

    ReplyDelete
  61. Not only is a sadly large percentage of the population addicted to fear, but they become extremely angry at anyone who tries to tell them that they don't need to be afraid. Which, I guess, is what happens to addicts. But it makes my despair of ever getting them to see reason. How to you reach people who have come to define themselves in terms of fear and paranoia?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And in that state they become so easy to manipulate. Think about the fundamentals of advertising and market manipulation.

      Auerbob

      Delete
  62. "The Kinks" ... ? Vot's dat? (Sounds painful ... AND dirty ... )

    For us REALLY old people, it was said even better in the 1960s by "one-hit wonder," Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band:

    "You better watch for the Eggplant that ate Chicago
    'Cause he may eat your city soon
    You better watch for the Eggplant that ate Chicago
    If he's still hungry, the whole country's doomed
    He came from outer space lookin' for something to eat
    He land-ed in Chicago
    He thought Chicago was a treat
    (It was sweet)
    (It was just like sug-ar) ..."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-Lc0Lra9cI

    ReplyDelete
  63. More American's have married Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola. Take a chill pill, people!

    ReplyDelete
  64. As a nurse, helping others understand, it takes practice to get gowning techniques right. Those nurses who were infected were thrust into aw situation they were not prepared for. I have shared this with some of my friends who are more concerned about ebola, than getting themselves and family members vaccinated against flu and childhood diseases. Like someone said earlier "Take a chill pill !"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seen this?

      My wife’s ER has an ‘ebola cart’ with some lightweight protective gear and written instructions for putting on a PPE, but the instructions are a loose bundle of papers and the pictures don’t match the gear in the cart and has inaccuracies that put them at serious risk. It’s an object of gallows humor for the staff. That’s the totality of their training or preparedness so far.

      Finest medical system money can buy. And it did, didn't it?

      Delete
  65. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredOctober 20, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    So, I've read the comments here and some of the earlier FB posts. One of the latter sort of set the scene of what almost any formula Hollywood production about an epidemic seems to be. As I started to read it, I couldn't help but think of one of the latest, "Contagion". But, that was just a lead in to get you hooked and the point was that we don't need to panic, or be afraid. I think we've seen too much of the Hollywood entertainment around the topic - only some of which actually passes actual biological and scientific muster. The movies are entertainment, purposely having a problem that the protagonists need to solve with all the drama mixed in. It's formula entertainment and so many seem to take it literally. Just a theory, but I think it's laziness in not wanting to do the research to actually learn something about it as much as the hysterical frenzy whipped up by the media. It's EASIER to be afraid than it is to be informed.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Sorry you are having all these emotions. Must be difficult to perceive reality like you do. As you are well awar,e American society doesn't watch the news and thus wouldn't have any idea if something critical did happen. That's ok. You are because you rant. If you don't rant you don't exist in any meaningful way. Ed Runte

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah a passive aggressive insult, the little runt dog of trollage.

      Must be hard to type with your lip curled up in a sneer like that.

      Delete
    2. clearly he doesn't know about shopkat pendants. because even if you didn't rant we'd still have those ;) and zils. and bowls, pens, earrings, and tables. as long as no one asks you to do it!! their way.

      Delete
  67. Fear is the most simple way for politicians (and religions, for that matter) to control masses of ignorant people. God forbid people should focus on education, clean water, health care, etc. This is the historical pattern of corrupt power - sadly, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Jim, may I respectfully suggest "criterion" of religion instead of "criteria"?

    Article is, as usual, brilliant. You really do need to be on TV, where you might be seen by the drooling masses who don't or can't read. Or who only watch Fox "News", which is worse than either of the other handicaps.

    ReplyDelete
  69. "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men." --Edward R. Murrow, 1954

    ReplyDelete
  70. Oh yes we wiiiiilllll!!

    Today Rwanda began Ebola screening all visitors to the country who have been to the US in the previous 22 days. There's no evidence to suggest the move was in retaliation. Just karma.

    *Snort* My guess? Rwanda's afraid of catching the Scaredies...

    ReplyDelete
  71. The people who volunteer to go to Africa and fight ebola saving lives and comforting the dying - people like these :

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/20/volunteered-fight-ebola-sierra-leone-msf?CMP=fb_gu

    Those would be heroes.

    ReplyDelete
  72. "I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

    -Page 19, Frank Herbert, 'Dune', New English Library, 1965.

    I think an awful lot of people and places need to learn that litany and keep it in mind and muse upon it and I hope if they do that it helps them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you...this was my first response, too.

      Delete
  73. Now you've done it ! Gone and created another group: Viruses Without Borders.
    Just think of the possibilities for soliciting contribution, eh ?

    ReplyDelete
  74. Fear itself, 1952 edition. On Senator McCarran: "There is always an Other, and the Other is always somehow contagious."—Charles P. Pierce, In Which We Watch Rationality Fail Again

    ReplyDelete
  75. It would do the nation good right now to replace the salute to the flag with Frank Herbert's Bene Gesserit "Litany Against Fear" for a while, because, yes....all the fear-flogging is leaving serious marks.

    ReplyDelete
  76. What really torques me is the sudden emergence of hundreds of armchair epidemiologists, people who can neither spell nor pronounce the word, all calling for a travel ban. Yes, I know it is because of the GOP/TP/Fox/hate radio propaganda machine spreading lies. I know the volume of lies is due to the upcoming election, trying to undermine people's faith in a strong federal government. That does not excuse any of it; in fact, it just makes it seditious as well as ignorant. These marching morons, leaders and followers alike, were calling for the abolition of the FDA, slashing federal science and medical research money, in many cases are against vaccines! Now they are angry that science doesn't provide an instant magical cure like they see on teevee.

    ReplyDelete
  77. I was thinking about starting a blog. Then I found stonekettle.com. Ain't no point no more. You can't beat the best.

    Ahhhh. I might give it a try anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  78. "Land of the free, and the home of the brave." Nope. Not for a long time now.

    You know, Jim, every time I read one of your posts I wonder how you could possibly top it, and then along comes the next one, and damn if you haven't. Amazing! Thank you, sir, for your eloquence (forget about the typos--your meaning's always clear), and for your unfailing attempts to get at and speak the truth.

    Pete Moulton

    ReplyDelete
  79. I was a uni student when I first read Preston's ‘The Hot Zone’ whilst browsing at a local bookshop – it caused me to miss my bus at least a couple of times I was that captivated. (Yes, I eventually bought my own copy.Money was an issue back then. Hmm, some things haven't changed too much either!) I very vividly recall reading the paragraphs cited here on “Monet” and what the Marburg virus apparently did to him - and nurse Mayinga and others. Hellishly powerful and memorable stuff. Quite a meme if not a virus.
    So with that in mind, I'll note this is well worth reading :

    http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/2014/10/21/the-hot-zone-and-the-mythos-of-ebola/

    As is the article by Preston linked in there - hope these help. (& that this isn't a double post. Tried before didn't go though?)

    PS. @ Syrbal/Labrys : No worries my pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
  80. From FDR's first inaugural address: "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." I don't know if I see another FDR on our horizon, but we sure as hell need one.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Brilliant piece Jim. And just to add to facts; there have been 9 cases of Ebola treated in the US since August 1st...9 cases. Out of those 9 cases one person has died presumably because there was a delay in treating him. And out of the 9 cases only 2 have been acquired in the US (treating the patient who died) and both of them have been cured.

    Sheesh

    ReplyDelete
  82. RE: "We are the species that makes other species extinct."

    Yes, but we're also the species that makes parts of our own species extinct. And that's evolution.

    Forgive me for my doom-filled, knee-jerk emotional response to the idea of ISIS and my feeling that it's time for us to evolve once again and leave the trashier side of our species behind.

    ReplyDelete

Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.