Posted by: ithacaisdoomed | February 26, 2010

In Sickness and in Doom…

In Sickness and in Doom…

I’ve got a snow day this morning since we had our first real storm of the season.  The world outside looks like Ice Planet Hoth and there’s a fire burning in the wood stove.  Life is good.

First off, I want to apologize for the sporadic posting lately. The 90’s were a Lost Decade for Japan. The month of February has been a Lost Month for me. The Sickness started out as a run of the mill cold, then turned into this vomiting thing, and now it’s back to a cold, and sometimes makes me think I have Walking Pneumonia. I alternate between deciding I should go to the doctor, and then giving it another week.  There’s nothing like an extended bout of illness to call into question your faith in societal institutions such as Western Medicine and journalism. 
A little back story is in order, and I don’t see this as complaining, because I do have a “doomer” related point, which I’ll get to presently. I’m allergic to dust mite allergen and prone to psychosomatic illness symptoms due to stress. I’ve been to see doctors numerous times, thinking I had some rare syndrome, when in all reality; I just have allergies that get exacerbated by being stressed out. These days, my life is fairly calm; there’s no more stress than the usual paranoia and nightmares that I’ve had my entire adult existence, and, since I quit drinking back in May, I’m a whole lot healthier. In fact, just prior to this illness, I was getting cocky, and patting myself on the back for not having been sick since I could remember, which was probably the last time I got drunk. Hubris is always my Achilles Heel.
What makes this all pertinent to the question of Doom, is that it plays out against the backdrop of SWINE FLU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 In fact, one of my co-workers asked me just yesterday, upon hearing my hacking cough, if I had Swine Flu. (For the record, I don’t think I have Swine Flu.) I don’t know if you have this problem, but I have not been able to figure out what to make of this one, the Swine Flu Pandemic. For one thing, the whole Global Pandemic thing scares the shit out of me. It seems like a highly plausible scenario, given the cess pool disease breeding grounds of factory farms, the concentration of human populations into squalid cities, and a general laissez faire attitude on the part of the medical/industrial complex about shoving antibiotics down the gullets of farm animals and Chinese humans alike.
On the other hand, there’s been the whole Swine Flu Vaccine Hype, and I like to think that I’m immune to hype, and can spot bullshit when I see it. In my neck of the woods, Tompkins County, New York, one Cornell Freshman died, and that was about the last I heard. Then there were pictures of people wearing masks, lined up waiting to get their dose at the Shoppes at Ithaca Mall. OMG, lo and behold, there was an acute shortage! A few week’s later, there’s more than enough to go around and the clinics can’t give the stuff away. I’ve read stuff from the MSM. I’ve read stuff in the alternative press. A Google search on “swine flu is bullshit” reveals several sites that use bullying language to convince you that you’re a dumb ass if you even consider the possiblity that you fear Swine Flu.  I have come away not really knowing where to stand, other than deciding to let Nature take its course.
I’m not anti-vaccine. In fact, I had my five year old son vaccinated against both seasonal and Swine Flu’s. I researched it, talked to our pediatrician, and came out deciding that the risk of the vaccine was worth it, in his case. For kids in the era before vaccines against diseases like Meningitis, Measles, and Polio, the month of February could have been the month they spent in quarantine and you, the parent, spent wondering if you were ever going to see them alive again. So, the risk of death from influenza being highest amongst the young, particularly with Swine Flu, we had him take the vaccines. My son has never had an adverse reaction to a vaccine mind you, and if he had, that would be a game changer.
For me, a middle-aged freak pushing 40, I felt like I could afford to gamble, so gamble I did. Usually, my work offers us seasonal flu vaccines. This year, for whatever reason, they didn’t, though they did offer to reimburse us if we got the vaccines at a clinic. In part, this is a story of my sheer laziness, just simply not feeing bothered to get my sorry ass to a clinic to get the shots. At the same time, though I am cautious, the risk from contracting the Swine Flu seemed fairly minor for a man in my position. So, ultimately, here is what I came up with: I won’t get the vaccine. If I contract Swine Flu, and get sick, or even die, damn .I should have listened, played it safe, and gone with the dubious advice of the various experts. If I don’t get the Swine Flu, then it’s all bullshit, and I can side with the skeptics and various other experts who came out against the vaccine. As of February 23, Swine Flu is bullshit. I prefer the skeptic side, in general.
Despite all we know, and our all-powerful ability to disseminate information, the world is still a chaotic and uncertain place. It remains, incredibly difficult, in my opinion, to know what to believe. In the Main Stream Media, Junk Science gets equal billing with peer-reviewed , consensus science and there’s been an endless hype of horrors, waiting to waylay us, from Tylenol Scares and razor blades in apples, to terrorism and child rapists. In reality, you’re more likely to get sick from eating ground beef, hurt while riding in a car, and more children die from diarrhea and malnutrition than at the hands of monsters. We, in the Developed World, have the luxury of manufactured fears.
As our country tilts more towards a Third World type of existence, it is scary to think how unprepared we are for such a “lifestyle.” We’ve already lost trust in our institutions (government, journalism, even science) due to their tendencies towards hyperbole, scaremongering, and outright lies that are later revealed.  What will we do when even those institutions (mainstream medicine, journalism, government at all levels) are rendered completely impotent in the face of the problems that beset us? Can we trust ourselves?
So this brings me back to my own “Swine Flu Scare.” Like a lot of people, I get most of my news and other information via the internet.  What if my knowledge about Swine Flu came only from word of mouth? Would it seem more or less frightening? Would people be willing to indulge in all sorts of superstitious quackery or would people feel more empowered in the absence of both the media hype and the expert opinions? Let’s theorize a “relocalized perspective” sans internet. 

 Iwould remain firm and confident in my decision not to get the vaccine, if such were even available. Thinking about it from my local perspective, I don’t know anyone who has died from it; seen a few who’ve been sickened and it wasn’t all that bad. I would still have vaccinated my child (if such were available) given the rumors heard from afar of pregnant women and children dying from “the illness.” I remain a reasonably healthy male. “Know thyself” has always been the best advice, and it will probably remain so in a depleted future. I have a good baseline established for my health. I know my own body. I’ve eliminated toxins and addictions (such as alcohol) that could skew my perspective. I have a good doctor and there’s a trained nurse in my family. I hope both will happily barter their services for chickens or some such in the event that it’s needed.
Life, especially in a depleted future, will remain a balancing act between varying levels of risk. Knowledge will remain power. It remains of tantamount importance to cultivate sources of knowledge that you can trust, especially within yourself.  Know your body.  Get rid of your addictions and anything toxic you put into your body.  Booyah, Swine Flu!



  1. But toxins can be fun. Toxins may be the most important thing in my life (Yeah yeah yeah, love and friendship are important too).

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