Posts Tagged With: The Dead Hand

Not Worried About Ebola?

I am a bit baffled and disturbed, that months after the Ebola epidemic started raging across Africa, we are still letting people from those areas into the U.S. If you are not baffled or disturbed, I’m thinking you don’t understand what Ebola is.

What it is not is the flu or measles. You have the flu and cough in a room full of people, most won’t even get sick, let alone die. You have Ebola and cough in a room, many may get it (no immunities) and, well, the fatality rate puts this disease somewhere above anthrax (which doesn’t spread very easily without sophisticated help).

While I’m sure there are plenty of dedicated people working around the clock to fight this disease, the laze-fair doctrine of non-existent control of our borders and who enters the country is ripe for a deadly scourge. The open borders, by some studies, is at fault for the recent re-emergence of other disease outbreaks — though none of the killing caliber of Ebola.

Many will say, “It’s only two or three, we can handle it.” Perhaps. But two or three can infect hundreds. This isn’t the chicken pox. You don’t give your kids some lotion, wash your hands a little more often, and go about your life. No, you and everyone you have been in contact goes into isolation lock-down and those who contact the disease fight for their lives.

The only way to stop a disease like this is to take it seriously.

Books like Germs and The Dead Hand detail the insidious nature of diseases like Ebola and, while many were worried about nukes, governments tinkered with weapons some argue are worse. Lab 257 reveals that even the knowledge of what bio agents can do, we didn’t always take them seriously. These books, while focused on biowarfare, hinge on what many viruses and bacteria are capable of doing in nature and among populations (the history of biowarfare research will be eye-opening to many in a troubling sort of way). Then take a look at the movie Contagion for a realistic depiction of what a widespread outbreak could look like.

We can discount, dismiss or explain away what the politicians do or don’t do because of our political preferences. Or we can hold them all accountable to their fundamental purpose: Defending borders, whether from disease or man. Or both.

So technically, if you prepare and take precautions, you no longer have to worry (if you had been to begin with). This is a winnable battle, but decisions now will decide how costly it will be.

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P.S. Many people have taken the either-or approach: Either “The media is just hyping Ebola” or “They’re under-reporting it and you need to be in a bubble.” People like to gravitate to extremes, often in emotional response to another extreme. What I am promoting here is simple: Don’t pretend Ebola is just the bad flu or some African disease, and taking simple precautions is common sense. Also, don’t be one of these people who say, “Oh, thousands die from the flu every year, so why worry about Ebola?” Other than that the “thousands” claim is a spurious stat, look at the mortality rates. Mortality rate of flu viruses: Less than 1% (effectively zero), Ebola: 70%.

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Categories: Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

History Unshackled

Some people are under the impression that studying history is dull or of no interest. Maybe we can blame the way it’s presented in education: Quick, little bites that don’t get into the personalities, the drama and the earth-changing events. Don’t get me wrong, I had some history teachers that knew their stuff and were great at teaching, but they were always limited by time.

Education shouldn’t end at graduation. That’s a mistake most people make. It’s a mistake that can be overcome. Many authors are gifted with research and telling history that is every bit has exciting as a novel or film.

If Pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower and having the first Thanksgiving is about the extent of your backgrounder on the subject, Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower will unveil a far more exciting and nation-shaping series of events. Similarly, after reading his The Last Stand, the Indian Wars and Custer will never be quite the same. Some parts of history don’t always end well, but we must learn from them just like any other.

If you ever wondered why so much focus has been put on a single battle like Gettysburg, Noah Andre Trudeau’s Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, told largely through the eyes of those who fought, will show how war reveals the best, and worst, of men.

Everyone thinks of the Cuban Missile Crisis as the close call of the Cold War, but we were at the brink far more times than that. Books like 15 Minutes and The Dead Hand detail the frightening world that few knew existed.

So start stockpiling some books before winter sets in and prepare to fascinated, amazed and shocked. You’ll wonder why you ever stopped learning or thought it dull or unnecessary.

You are in charge of your education. That education didn’t stop years ago. It only barely had begun.

Categories: Books, History, Modern History, Native Americans | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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