Thursday, October 02, 2014

Summer of Death and Derp

Well, this has been an interesting summer. Usually summer is the Silly Season, when New Yorkers fry eggs on the sidewalk, the British tabloids present pictures of "fruity" schoolgirls in short skirts waving their A-Level results, and stories abound about cuddly hippos called Hilly. This year's been different though. As Private Eye called it, satirically, in a headline, it's been the "Killy Season".

The American police-force has taken to shooting men (mostly black ones) in cold blood, beating up black women, tasering pregnant women in the back and generally acting like asshats.

Jumping the White House fence and seeing how many doors deep inside you can get is now the national sport. The Secret Service men also let Obama ride in an elevator with an armed felon, and one of them apparently sold the President's secret itinerary to Republican supporters, allowing them to get countering ads in place before the visit.

America has been attempting to start a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine and is doing remarkably well. Almost everyone thinks the Russians shot down a passenger craft over Ukraine, and Russian claims over Ukraine territory have been dismissed with the usual cry of "But Freeedomm! Ukraine must be free!" It's a bit more complicated than that, but shout "Freedom!" loud enough and Americans always join in. They were cheering along with Mel Gibson as William Wallace over the Scots getting their "Freedom!" this summer, but it turned out the Scots actually wanted cooperation and peaceful union. How un-American.

Then America had a big hit with bombing Syria after last year's disastrous flop – bombing Syria. It's surprising what a simple chord change – from bombing Assad to bombing his enemies – can do in terms of the kids buying the tune, even though it doesn't make any logical sense. The UK looked over the wall and said, "Are you having a war, Mr. Obama? Can we come?" and Barry said sure, pay the military industrial complex at the booth over there and get stuck in. There's room for everyone to bomb in the Middle East!

Best picture of Ebola I could fake up in Photoshop in a hurry.

And the biggest show of the late summer is the Ebola virus. After watching it rage in Africa with mild interest, and eventually sending troops who, I assume, are there to ensure people stay quarantined or get shot, (since troops are not generally used for things other than shooting people) the government twiddled its thumbs until Ebola made its way over to the US. Since Capitalism relies on open borders, I guess it would have been too disruptive to disallow flights from Liberia on the off-chance that someone would come over here with the virus. 

But someone did. After he carried a dying girl, bleeding from the mouth, to a doctor (she died the next day), the patient's family says he had no idea she had Ebola. He thought it was a complication of her pregnancy, because, you know, that's where you bleed from if you have a complication of pregnancy. Liberia says it's going to prosecute him for lying on his departure forms, but he says he didn't, so whatcha gonna do? Particularly as US health care is much more likely to help him than the Liberian system so he had no incentive to do whatever he had to do to get on that flight…wait!

Anyway, he didn't have a fever when checked at the airport. The Centers for Derp Concentration (CDC) have no protocols to recheck people from Hot Zones after a few days to make sure they're uninfected, so he hung around in an apartment in Dallas with his partner and his family, coming into contact with several children among other people, until he did have a fever, and then he went to a hospital.

Who promptly kicked him out. He said he'd been in Liberia within the right time frame, but I guess they didn't want to deal with a feverish foreigner who probably has no health insurance, so they kicked him out with antibiotics, telling him it was a low-grade virus.

Yep, they gave someone with a virus antibiotics, even though I'm pretty sure that at least some doctors are faintly acquainted with the concept that viruses are not affected by antibiotics. Oh, and in case you're thinking the nurse probs thought, "Travelled to Liberia? Isn't that near Washington? Why is he running a temperature, sweating on my shoes and telling me he's been to Liberia?" Well, the CDC has been holding outreaches to medical practitioners for months now telling them to ask about travel to West Africa and consider that low-grade viral symptoms from travellers may be early Ebola, so he or she knew, all right.

Anyway, they gave him his placebo antibiotics and he went home, vomited in the street, then suffered another two days before he was finally brought into hospital and diagnosed with Ebola. This was apparently prompted by his family calling the CDC and telling them he had Ebola, and he should be taken seriously. It sounds like it wasn't, as the ambulance crew is now being kept in isolation, so it sounds like they weren't properly prepared.

The CDC went on TV telling everyone not to panic and how they were on top of things and it can't happen here and we have the best medical care in the world and we're not Liberia, we're actually good at what we do and it isn't airborne you know, you have to touch body fluids yadda yadda.

The CDC has traced the contacts, or at least they say they have, though at this point one is beginning not to trust them. They've quarantined his partner in their apartment, where according to one article, she's been stuck with his sweaty bed sheets and towels from Sunday to Thursday, the disinfection crew not having turned up yet. You think she likes being in an apartment with some soiled linens when suited-up spacemen armed with bleach sprays barely dare to get near a body in Liberia? The apartment has "some hygiene issues", an official said.

They also told the rest of the family in the apartment to stay home, check their temperatures and report back. Naturally some of them left at the first opportunity, and had to be herded back, and are now guarded by police. A food truck is supplying meals. I bet they're a happy bunch! Oh, and the children have been taken out of school. Let's hope that wasn't too late.

The conspiracy theorist in me always wonders at this point (as I did during the civilian lockdown in Boston over the manhunt for the marathon bombers) whether it's somebody's plan to get us used to being told to stay in our houses for fear of our lives, and learn we'll be shot at by policemen if we don't agree.

It's possible the CDC (along with the armed policemen as their enforcement wing) are as clever as they think they are and it stops here. Based on the Keystone Kops routine above, I have my doubts.

Also - remember the patient vomiting in the street? What's the odds a dog or a rat got to that before anyone hosed it away? Some animals can get Ebola and not die from it. Bats are the animals most often implicated, but I'm sure there are others. Wouldn't it be fun if a sparse plume of infected bats slowly spread out from Dallas over the next ten or so years? Endemic Ebola. Lovely.

Update here.
Even more mind blowing update here.

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