Swine Flu

So if you haven’t heard of the latest pandemic, it’s swine flu! While I’ve heard everyone talking about it, I haven’t heard anyone really describe what it is, how it’s different from other kinds of flu, etc. Has anyone heard of why it’s “swine” flu? I know they said that the genetic material of the virus is of a Eurasian swine background (not a North American one, apparently) but I don’t remember hearing about a pandemic virus killing off great numbers of pigs any time recently. Are they just carriers who are actually immune to the virus? I’m not sure. However, every time there is a new possible pandemic that emerges, it is interesting to sit back and watch the panic and posturing that goes on. I’m not trying to sound callus, it’s just that as news media latches on to each new story, with blazing headlines and colorful graphics with daunting music for segment titles on programs, people tend to whip themselves into a huge frenzy before anything concrete starts to emerge that might actually be newsworthy. Obviously in our modern world a pandemic has the opportunity to spread much, much more quickly that it would have even one hundred years ago. Travel is available in a variety of different mediums, nearly all of which are significantly faster than anything that used to be available. Because of the population explosion that has occurred even over the last fifty years, there are a greater number of people living together in the same area of land, meaning that the disease or virus has a much better chance of finding a new host very quickly, even long before it would damage or kill the first one.

The ATA has been all up in arms over Vice President Biden’s comments about not using air travel or traveling in other confined spaces, but the CDC isn’t as worried as the VP. Though the pandemic level has been bumped up to “5” today and the WHO is instructing countries to mobilize (or at least dust off) their pandemic preparedness plans, there are still few things known about the pandemic and so it is really too hard to say what is and is not a proper precautionary measure. Though it is not necessary to cease air travel, stop taking public transportation, or stop shopping at the grocery store, it is important to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and cough, to wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if you’re not near a bathroom, and to rest up if you start to feel symptomatic. These are normal, basic measures that people should be taking on a daily basis no matter what the time of year, simply because it’s proper hygiene – not to mention courteous to those around you. It seems like standard operating procedures like these are revived every time there is a “new” pandemic (which is never really seems to come to fruition as an actual pandemic) and then quickly forgotten once the excitement has worn off. Hopefully someday people will begin to pay more attention to taking care of themselves and those around them all of the time, not just when some fancy new virus pops up.


Stigma of Domestic Violence

On Earth Day, as I was coming home for the evening, I tripped on a box in my entry way. It was a very large, tall box and very much in my way. I fell forward onto the box and as my arms went out and up to protect my head and face, my elbow landed on the box resulting in a very pretty black eye with a gash in my cheek from my grandmother’s ring. This happened very quickly, and I didn’t think much of it…so I had a black eye with a hilarious story. Well- that soon changed as I went to work 2 days later and my eye had progressed. I have never received so many stares and jeers, so many laced questions, where my answers were perceived as lies. It made me pissed off that people were thinking, and some saying, that I was a victim of domestic violence. The thing is that they were trying to figure out the truth of the matter in a totally negative approach. I was offended. I think part of the reason I am so outright disgusted with being asked if I feel safe at home is because of my childhood. I grew up in a household with its very own intimate terror.  I am thankfully no where near that situation and hope never to be again. So there are two sides to this stigma. 1- People don’t recognize the signs of domestic violence and if they do, they don’t know how to act or help, or 2-People mistake unintentional injuries for domestic violence and are insulting.  Even though I was insulted, I’d rather have people questioning and treading the waters of speaking out against domestic violence.

I found some press releases about the stigma of domestic violence. They showed some interesting facts:

In interviews with nearly 25,000 women at 15 sites in 10 countries, researchers from the World Health Organization found that rates of partner violence ranged from a low of 15 percent in Yokohama, Japan, to a high of 71 percent in rural Ethiopia.

At six of the sites, at least 50 percent of women said that they had been subjected to moderate or severe violence in the home at some point. At 13 sites, more than a quarter of all women said they had suffered such violence in the past year.

 NEW YORK, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ — A surprising survey on domestic violence released today reveals an information gap that may very well prevent Americans from taking action when they witness domestic violence.  Approximately two-thirds of Americans say it is hard to determine whether someone has been a victim of domestic abuse (64%) and want more information about what to do when confronted with domestic violence (65%). Poll results clearly indicate that education about this topic is not only needed but can help save lives since 7 in 10 Americans (69%) will take some action when they are able to recognize domestic violence.
      When asked to define what actions comprise domestic violence and abuse, 2 in 5 Americans (40%) did not even mention hitting, slapping and punching. Over 90% of Americans failed to define repeated emotional, verbal, sexual abuse and controlling behaviors as patterns of domestic violence and abuse.

It is clear that every person needs to be educated about domestic violence and also know the ways to get help and intervene. It is important to remember however that women are not the only victims. Elderly abuse is on the rise, and there is also child abuse and men abuse. Everyone is a possible victim but everyone is also a potential advocate to Stop Domestic Violence and its stigma.

Twitter as a tool of revenge?

I personally do not use twitter, and here is why. I think that it is a stupid technology that we really dont need. We dont need to know what you are doing every five minutes, and if you are desperate for people to know what you are doing on a regular basis, then you need some friends. Now we have all become the slaves to the use of facebook, but at least facebook has alot of other features to it as well, whereas twitter is just twitter. But in the article that I discovered, apparantly someone hacked the fox news twitter page and made some innapropriate comments. I only have two words to say to that. HA HA! Normally you hear people that got fired from somewhere they come back and burn the place down, or go into a hostage situation, but this is ridiculous. There was no element of revenge here and the mess can be cleaned up in a matter of seconds. The people that did it dont even deserve a punishment for this. I mean sure, Bill O’reilly and Britney Spears wont be too thrilled, but they are used to being made fun of as it is. Is Twitter still pointless, YES!

Swine flu or bad economy?

Over and over again, I keep hearing about how airlines are taking such a hit right now. I just read the article: Half Empty Plane: Is it Swine Flu or Slump? and it really got me thinking. Would something like the swine flu affect your travel plans if you had a vacation or business trip ahead? Or do you think the economy is more or less what is causing this lull in air travel? The author said:

My flight to London was half-full – perhaps from last-minute cancellations over swine flu fears, but more likely the result of the global economic recession, which has drastically reduced tourism and business travel, or maybe it was just due to the ungodly departure hour of 7:45 a.m.

I honestly don’t think I’m letting the swine flu or the economy affect how I’m living my day to day life. If I want to go on a trip, and I have the money to do it, I’m not going to let the fear of catching this flu stop me from going.
My wonder is how much the airlines are going to have to continue to increase their rates because of the people who are choosing not to travel right now. I’m already really disappointed with Alaska Air’s choice to start charging for even your first checked bag. How many people can really fly without checking one piece of luggage unless it is for a quick trip? One thing I noticed after they started charging for bag number two is that the over head compartments are just getting more and more crowded. I really don’t think the extra charges are going to help much in the long run.
Anyway….rant over. Swine flu, bad economy, high airline prices…it is all life. I’m not going to let it stop me from enjoying life and doing the things I love to do.

An article on msnbc.com illustrates the grim situation in Mexico.  Add a virus capable of pandemic proportions to an economic ression and drug violence, and you have a place that is not very appealing to very many people.  The beaches are vacant, the flights are such that a person could stretch out in any number of empty rows, and the streets are void of travelers and locals alike. “Mexico City’s Chamber of Commerce said the closures and cancellations are costing 777 million pesos ($57 million) a day in the capital city alone — more than a third of the local economy.” Schools are closing, government offices are closed, attractions are closed…the entire country is shutting down.  And they should be commended for it.  Placing public and global safety before monetary gain is responsible and courageous.  On top of the horrors of drug violence, Mexico has maintained its composure and is taking every precaution possible to contain this vagabond virus.  Countries around the world are taking extensive measures to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread. “Cuba banned flights to Mexico. Argentina banned flights out of Mexico. France said Wednesday it would ask the European Union to suspend all flights to Mexico.” Lets just hope this global cooperation brings some amount of solidarity to this tiny crowded planet.

Pilfer, Plunder, Pillage and Ransack a Village! These Pirates Did Not Get Their Buried Treasure

It is unbelievable that there are still pirates in this world. You would think that since the days of the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” that these barbaric acts would be banned by any government, but they are still very much alive. These particular pirates that BBC talks about were captured after a rather unsuccesful attack on a Russian ship. Granted these guys deserved to be captured because the things that they do are not only illegal, and cruel, but they are just immoral and plain wrong. If this were happening off the coast of Florida, guess what, it would have ended rather fast, but since this is happening in Somalia, not much is done. Somalia is a godforsaken place, so naturally, there isnt much security there when it comes to maritime safety. There needs to be a bigger message sent to the pirates of Somalia, rather than just this simple capture of a few trouble makers. Either the United States, Russia, or Great Britian, the biggest naval powers in the world, need to unite against them. They need to know that this sort of thing can not be tolerated, and that if it does not stop, it will result in massive arrests and possibly death if they show any resistance. Since these pirate groups are not backed up by the Somali government (if any), it should not cause an international stir, and maybe even put a temporarary end to piracy. The reason I say temporary, is because chances are someone will start it up again.


It has become the ultimate act of frustration:  whip off your sneaker and fling it at the offending leader’s gourd.  This article talks about the new fad ‘o frustration in India that has become commonplace.

“In India, flying footwear is the new hunger strike, overtaking even the trendy Facebook protest as an expression of civil disobedience.”

The article notes that it is considered an insult in India to show the sole of one’s shoe, as footwear is relagated to shuffling about the dirty streets outside.  Thus this phenomenon comes with cultural influences.

“Shoe-throwing is a real expression of the frustration of the people,” said Anil Bairwal of National Election Watch, a watchdog group. “But you have to consider that citizens are at a loss for what to do. For too long, they have hoped that the parties would improve themselves, be progressive, put the right people in the seats and work for the betterment of the people. But none of that has happened.”

It was, of course, the Iraqi journalist who flung his shoe at the ever-eloquent former U.S. president that started the shoe tossing.  He, unlike the Indians, has to spend time in prison, probably for forcing the president to do something he is not used to: Think fast, Mr. Prez!