Thursday, May 29, 2008

Biological Crisis.

I hear that they made a new version of The Andromeda Strain, Michael Chriton's classic of bio warfare gone horribly wrong. I don't have cable so I didn't see it, but from the descriptions I have heard, apparently it has lost its luster. Andromeda was the first real technothriller ever written. Filled with facts, written with an authority that only one who is a medical genius can write, the book was a cautionary tale of a biological crisis gone wrong. The tale today still would hold true, but apparently some over eager idiot decided that some embellishment was necessary. Apparently, Chriton has more appreciation for his stock portfolio and his money belt then the integrity of his story.

Another tale of biological crisis is the non-fiction book "The Hot Zone." "The Hot Zone" depicted what was the first real biological crisis to hit the US in since the Spanish Flu in 1918 which ended World War I. (While historians like to say that the nations tired of war and the Germans were exhausted, the Spanish Flu had removed so many soldiers from the front and killed so many that continuing the war was not possible for either side). In full view of the US Capitol dome on the horizon, a group of monkeys at an animal quarntine facility in Reston Virginia, became contaminated with an Ebola-like strain of disease. Hopelessly contaminated, the Army eventually had to come in to contain and dispose of all the infected animals many of whom were still very alive and kicking, biting or scratching. One breach of a suit and the occupant was contaminated and the consequences of that were too horrible to contemplate. The consequences were dramatic and could have been much worse had the animals escaped and gotten into the general population. The strain was eventually given the classification as Ebola Reston, and is an airborne variety which means it can be passed from person to person like the common cold. A grave crisis was averted only through diligent action and a large amount of luck.

Ebola, for the unitiated, is a rare kind of disease caused by a Filovirus, which is essentially a strand of genetic information. Because it is a stand of RNA and not a conventional virus as such, the body has little defence against it. This strand, once introduced into a cell, like many viruses, seeks to copy itself and create as many duplicates of itself as possible. Essentially what eventually happens is that the entire cell turns into virus strands and the contamination continues to each cell in the body. Each cell is consumed and destroyed as the process continues. If unchecked, the body begins to shut down as the organs are slowly consumed. Blood vessels are compromised which leads to the victim literally crying blood from his eyes. Fatality is foughly 50 to 90 percent with most cases dying due to organ failure.

Man, in his quest for riches has ventured into areas of Africa where Man has never touched and has never been. New strains of disease could be there waiting for him like Ebola and so forth. Fortunately, Ebola kills much to readily for it to be a threat. It is relatively easy to recognize. Unfortunately, thanks to the international airline system, a disease which an oil exploration worker could catch in the Congo, could be in Houston tomorrow and from there to the rest of the country in the time it takes to catch a flight.

As far as fear is concerned, I remembered a President of the US long ago who told us that we had nothing to fear but fear itself. Armed with that kind of courage, we faced a depression and a World War with equal resolve. The cowards who rule our land today have no appreciation of that kind of courage. They hide behind their money and power while another great generation of our best and brightest fights and dies on a battlefield far away for another useless cause. For what? So I can have cheap gas, the Gas I had to PAY $3.90 a gallon for this morning? Whatever our boys are dying for, it isn't working. All we have done is to stir a hornets nest and created a whole generation of enemies that will continue to threaten our land for ages to come. Maybe that was the plan all along. Something to keep the military/industrial/political complex busy.

We have compromised our country to its detriment. God only knows what future generations will say of us, allowing a madman to sieze the reins of power. Hopefully we will not have to endure this for much longer as our great system allows only a few more months of this madness. Hopefully, if our election system has not been compromised, we will have new leaders with new ideas who will remove us from our nightmare and bring our tired boys back from the battlefield. Like Vietnam, this war will have exhausted our willingness to face crisis for at least a decade and allow our enemies to wander aimlessly across the world. Threats that we should have dealt with, were not dealt with due to our commitment to the war. The time will come soon where the cards will have to be put on the table. Question is, whose bluff will be called.

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I am interested in CNG vehicles because they are good for the environment and aren't powered by dead Marines. I still have a little hope for the world. Read the musings and enjoy.