Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bird Flu

Holy shit:
Up to 100-million people could die in weeks if a bird flu pandemic broke out, a senior World Health Organisation (WHO) official has warned while urging countries to make urgent preparations to mitigate its spread.

A global outbreak was almost certain and vaccination programmes would not be enough to halt its advance, Shigeru Omi, WHO's director for the Western Pacific, has said here.

"The most conservative estimate is that seven to 10 million people would die, but the maximum range would be 50 million or, in the worst case, even 100 million people," Omi said in his starkest warning yet of the potential peril presented by a mutation of avian flu to a form that could be transmitted by humans.

"It will come," he said, during a flying visit here, where the H5N1 flu strain first mutated into a strain lethal to humans.


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Monday, November 29, 2004

I Went To The Woods ...

... because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
~ Walden / Thoreau


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How Nothing Has Changed, Except The Date

Hello from Chicago.

If you've not been paying attention, our air transportation system is again careening out of control.

Back in the ... oh, early 2000s, before the world changed forever ... I used to stand in line at the airport and remark to myself: "No system can continue to function like this ... something is going to have to break somewhere."

I originally thought the dam would burst on safety; it ended up giving way on security.

And three years later, as near as I can tell, we're back at Go.

Dulles today was a total and absolute zoo. Sure, it's the day after a Thanksgiving weekend ... but I go through airport security at least twice, if not four times, a week, and the scene at Dulles today was unlike any I've seen--including those in the months after 9.11.

Thousands of people in line. Strained passengers, many trying to cut the queue. TSA agents trying to focus in a chaotic environment. And through it all, an experience that's become increasingly dehumanizing: wait in line for an hour and move where constrained like cattle, remove your shoes sir, crowd aboard the little transportation bus tightly packed. You are no longer a person at the airport, you're an item, and to a certain extent, a risk.

The system cannot bear the strain. Airlines will fail from the degrading customer experience, and sub-systems will fail from the stress. Security sucks ... regardless of what I know intellectually, I feel no more safe than in 2002, and the system now breeds less confidence, not more.

And so here I am again, looking at the system, and wondering where it will fail. The fact is we deserve better. Hell, I deserve better. Want to register your complaint? Go here.


At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dulles has got to be one of the worst airport experiences in the country. I'd go through DFW before going through there again. When I was stuck there a couple of weekends ago, I had many of the same thoughts...especially when I was in that shuttle thing that looks like a cross between a tank and a bus.

I know this is more about the system than Dulles, but I had to vent regardless. We all deserve better. You and I are used to it...I feel bad for the people who don't know what to expect.

Glad to see that you're at it again, by the way. ~C


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