Wednesday, November 02, 2005

In an effort to muddle up the more salient issues by introducing several new ones, President Bush has requested $7.1 billion in emergency funding to combat the possible bird flu pandemic which has been rumoured to be lurking in the shadows for several years now. After ten minutes of giving shout-outs to his dogs (but no nominations this time around), Bush gave a doomsday speech at the NIH which sounded vaguely familiar . Some conspiracy theorists note that the speech is identical to the one kicking off his war on terrorism, replacing the words "terrorism", "Iraq", and "insurgency" with "pandemic influenza", "China", and "outbreak". I'm always amused when Bush tries to talk in technical jargon, but luckily there were no nucular mistakes this time around. In fact, he was so well-prepared that he squeezed the phrase "pandemic influenza" into his speech three times. And since every crisis needs a buzzword, he used the word "pandemic" a whopping seventy-one times in the course of his diatribe.

Since most clueless uneducated constituents think a pandemic is a syringe used in physicals on the baby Panda Cub, Butterstick (English for Tai Shan), I'm sure the speech will have its effect and put people into I'm-scared mode (which, coincidentally, is a mutually exclusive mode from "paying-attention-to-scandals mode") for the coming months. Bush will get his money (but not at the expense of his "Let's Visit Mars" program or his "We're Winning in Iranq" program) and the media will spend weeks showing how birds die from the flu, since this is much more compelling imagery than a closed Senate hearing on government missteps.

I'm all for protecting myself from sickness, but this latest scare tactic is just as useless as the whole terrorism campaign. The reason? Scared or aware citizens are no better prepared for the danger than unaware citizens. You can warn everyone in the country about the bird flu, but all you're doing is seeding unease -- it's not like they can all report to the doctor the next day and get completely immunized. If Bush really wanted to fix the problem, he would work with drug companies behind the scenes to prepare ample supplies of vaccines rather than deliver end-of-the-world monologues to the powerless people.

With a new common foe for us to unite against, it is only fitting that we create a new Pandemic Influenza Terror Chart, so we can raise and lower the Threat Levels appropriately as elections and hurricanes threaten to distract us from the real dangers of the flu. As a public service, I have outlined the five levels below. Please presume, for the safety of you and your family, that we will never be lower than code Medium.

  • Plain:
    Pandemic Influenza is merely the name of the day labourer who has moved in next door to you. Though you may lose your job as a bricklayer on the Dulles Technology Corridor or be stricken with sexually transmitted diseases should you decide to mate with him, you are in no danger of mortally contagious avian sicknesses in everyday life. You will never be totally safe however, so do not drop your guard. Somewhere out there, a faceless extremist is plotting a runny course to mass diarrhea.

  • Mild:
    Rumours abound that Iranq has been trafficking in three-piece meals from Popeyes, and it takes very little supposition to realize that birds are a prime and necessary ingredient in bird flu. Otherwise it'd just be the flu, and not nearly as exotic. I would pass on the extra coleslaw if I were you.

  • Medium:
    Elusive secret plans may have been discovered linking Osama Bin Laden to the migratory patterns of Atlantic birds. Baby birds such as puffins and mallards may be especially dangerous because they are cute and completely unexpected as disease-carrying carrion. Expect diseased birds to be dumped wholesale in Miami as the winter comes to an end, allowing the flu to spread as far north as New Brunswick as the birds fly, swim, and Greyhound their way into the Northeast. Damn you, cute puffins! Damn you all to hell!

  • Hot:
    An endemic epidemic of Pandemic Influenza is imminent in one or more major U.S. cities, but you will not be told which ones to stay away from, because that might cause a pandemic panic. An academic course of action would be the systemic purchase of guns and vaccine stockpiles. Take all vague threats and news reports seriously no matter how anemic the source or how caustic the polemic surrounding them is, as this is not an issue you want to run afoul with. Pandemic.

  • Flaming!!:
    By now, all your friends and neighbours are vomiting in their handbags, and you probably have less than forty-eight hours to live. Please take care to stay away from other people and to cough into a hanky if you have to cough at all. The virus will have mutated into Evian Flu by now, so stay away from all bottled water products as well. You will be recruited by the CIA with the goal of infecting as many hostile North Koreans as possible. If you are one of the few remaining survivors, please stand by until NASA finishes our rocket ships, and we will migrate you to another inhabitable planet.

  • I have also created these posters which you should print and distribute in your place of work. Feel free to reuse them on your own site -- it's the only way we can get the word out about the pandemic.

    How to rob a bank dramatically
    Britney Spears laughs at husband's music
    Round bowls make fish go blind

    tagged as newsday, mock mock, politics, favourites | permalink | 12 comments


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