Archive for the ‘dystopian times’ Category

For the trusting and the hopeful: Ebola, Everything will be ok!

ebola

So, Ebola has arrived, the Black Death of the 21st century and we’re all going to die. Not so fast!

Ok, Ebola is a horrible disease but we’ve gotten a lot of things going for us to be hopeful about. First is that Ebola is not an airborne virus, certainly there is some debate about how easily it spreads via aerosolized droplets, but no one is saying Ebola could spread through a ventilation system in a hospital or office building and unlikely would widely spread through an airplane.

So the virus even if it does get into the US will be hard to spread. You may naturally ask, so why is it spreading so fast in Africa. There are a number of reasons, most are related to resources and infrastructure. In countries like Sierra Leone hospitals do not have adequate quarantine facilities, health care workers do not have proper protective gear, sometimes they don’t even have rubber gloves and masks!

The second thing that helps the spread is a lack of good infrastructure which does not allow for authorities to easily contact trace. Contact tracing is when health workers track down every contact an infected person had once they became contagious. For obvious reasons, this is far more effective in a country like the US where we have easy to find street addresses and the resources to track people down. Not to mention the ability to track cell phones and lots of media to help in locating folks.
The other issue health officials face in Western Africa is a population with a high percentage of uneducated citizens overly susceptible to superstition.Many people in Western Africa do not believe Ebola is real and some believe that health officials are actually killing people. So in many cases when family members get sick they keep them at home and don’t tell anyone, eventually infecting the whole family and others who come in contact with them. In some cases health workers have even been attacked!
In the US we certainly face a percentage of folks who will believe it’s a hoax, but a scared populace and a motivated government will allow for contact tracing to be done very effectively as it has been surrounding the Dallas case.  The second big reason we don’t have to worry about Ebola in the US is that now that the developing world has become truly worried, we’re starting to throw enough resources at the outbreak to help stop it. First the US and other countries have been deploying expert personnel and resources to Africa.  Additionally, a new vaccine is being fast tracked to help out and limit the spread of the infection by GlaxoSmithKline, a US company. This fast track vaccine trial is being publicly funded as well and of course being a US company we’ll have prime access to the finish product and they are already in production of 10,000 doses of the vaccine.
So yes, the Ebola outbreak is bad, it will spread but here in the US we are about as safe as anywhere on the planet, so relax and sweet dreams. ~ ZD Blue
PS – want to scare the crap out of yourself read this: For the cynical and the conspiracy minded: Ebola, This is the End!

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For the cynical and the conspiracy minded: Ebola, This is the End!

ebola

So it’s finally here, the global pandemic we have been warned about for decades. Ebola, a once sleepy little virus wiping out villages in the jungles of Africa has gone prime time. It’s a big boy virus now, out of the villages and into the cities of Western Africa. With a 70% mortality rate and projections by the World Health Organization of 20,000 cases by November, we should be scared. Because without some massive global efforts those numbers continue to climb, although large numbers of deaths in Africa are not the problem. The problem of course is the number of infections and Ebola’s 21 day incubation period. That’s how the first case got into the US, the man flying into the US from West Africa showed no signs, and likely wasn’t contagious during his trip, but became sick once he landed. Current screening methods, looking for folks with fevers won’t work when a simple dose of aspirin or ibuprofen can mask that symptom. Given that having a fever at the airport gets you quarantined with actual Ebola cases, and the existence of better care outside of Africa, there is a lot of incentive to get out of Africa if you think you’re sick.  So, it’s going to happen, Ebola cases will get out of Africa and we’ve seen one already in the US.  So Ebola will spread, however, when it spreads to organized, well-resourced countries with solid hospital systems and a high ability to contact trace, the spread will be limited as it has been in Nigeria.
Of course it’s also going to spread to countries with high population densities and poorly resourced countries, with bad hospitals and an inability to effectively contact trace, think Asia as in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nepal. There are likely other countries all over the world that fit this bill. Those countries are very afraid right now and India is preparing and Nepal is very afraid. Many of these countries have poor people who are working in West Africa, how many will come home infected and sick?
So if this will be limited to poor countries why should we be afraid in the US? Mostly due to the economic fallout from large areas of the world being infected with a raging pandemic. This will cause borders to close, travel and commerce to be greatly interrupted as countries, including the US, go into isolation out of fear. This could easily lead to the greatest economic depression in history. Once the dominoes begin to fall on that front things get very, very ugly everywhere for those who are under resourced and particularly for those under prepared.
For the cynics!
A more cynical but less gruesome idea however exists in my mind. You see it typically takes 5-10 years of research for a vaccine to get approved and that’s both a significant time and money investment by a drug company. However, if there’s a raging epidemic of a deadly virus somewhere, hypothetically let’s say Ebola in West Africa, you might just get that time line sped up. On that front GlaxoSmithKline has gotten approval and started vaccinating volunteers with their new vaccine in recent weeks.  Additionally it has been reported that they have already started production on 10,000 doses of the vaccine assuming it works.
Why would GlaxoSmithKline do this, is it out of the generous nature of their heart?
I will propose a more devious reason for this, the best thing that can happen to a drug company from an economic perspective, is for an outbreak to allow them to highly compress the timeline for a drug to come to market. This speeds up the return on investment and in this case they are actually being supported by public funds to help make it happen. Even better, if the outbreak is in the developing world where lots of poor people die far away from the people in countries where people have money to pay for vaccines. Even better yet, if some cases make it to the developed world and really scare the hell out of the masses. Sound familiar?
Scared affluent white people will line up in droves to get a vaccine for the Black Death of the modern age and GlaxoSmithKline will happily provide it and at a premium price I’m sure. To be clear, I’m not saying a drug company planned this, I’m also not saying they didn’t. It is more likely they saw a market opportunity and have jumped on it like good little capitalists.
So sit back, save up your money and wait for GlaxoSmithKline to ride in on its white Bentley to save the day. That is assuming they haven’t miscalculated and the dominoes don’t fall too quickly and the shit really hits the fan. If it does friends, I’m sure like me, you’re prepared, your supplies are in place and your bugout location is secure. Sweet dreams! ~ ZD Blue

PS – for a more hopeful piece check out: For the Trusting and the Hopeful: Ebola, Everything will be ok

New York Times shows off its snobbery on the issue of Doomsday Preppers

I saw a piece today in the New York Times on the TV show Doomsday Preppers.  Now I get that some of the folks they feature on the show are more than a bit out there.  There are folks who are fully prepping for something they are sure is imminent which in fact is very, very unlikely.  Ok, but not all preppers are living in fear of the Yellowstone Volcano erupting or a massive coronal mass from the sun wiping out life as we know it.  The thing is there is typically at least a little science behind what these people fear.  Someday there will be another eruption of the Yellowstone Volcano and solar storms can be problematic and in rare cases could actually cause significant disruptions to the electronic grid.  So yes I get that the people featured might be pushing the edge of the rainbow a bit, but hell, really rational folks don’t make for great TV, if they did the Kardashians, well, you wouldn’t know who they are.

The second thing the author of the piece really harped on and I think completely unfairly, was that basically all preppers are a bunch of gun nuts that can’t wait for the apocalypse so they can start shooting people.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet the author has never met anyone in the prepper community.  Like all communities preppers come in all shapes and sizes and philosophical bents.  The fact is, having weapons for defense is a really good idea if society melts down, regardless of the cause for the meltdown.  Of course the show takes an opportunity to show the people they feature shooting their guns and playing a little Rambo for the cameras, it’s TV, they need the ratings.  Apparently the good folks at the New York Times think that watching folks assemble first-aid kits, canning fruit and making pemmican would make for enthralling television.

Being someone who talks about the apocalypse and people’s response to it quite a bit I’ve discovered something.  There are two basic types of people, those who don’t want to survive doomsday and those who do.  The NY Times author admitted to being someone who wouldn’t want to survive the dissolution of society because he couldn’t imagine living in the world shown in McCarthy’s book, The Road.  I think that shows he has a limited imagination and that’s fine, and it’s even fine that he’s wants to die in the apocalypse, but some of us would like to live as long and as full a life as possible regardless of what happens in the world.  The author unfortunately talks down to the rest of us and writes us all off as gun-toting maniacs with homicidal tendencies just for not sharing his beliefs, that’s a bit snobbish to me.

Regardless of what your philosophical beliefs might be about where society is headed, disasters happen and it is only prudent to be prepared.  Having three days worth of food and water on-hand, a good first-aid kit and a basic survival plan for your family is just plain smart.  So if a show like Doomsday Preppers does anything beyond entertain you, hopefully it will make you think about having a basic preparedness plan and the appropriate resources available.

 

 

The Monsters are due on Maple Street in 2012

So, the holidays are over, everyone had time to visit with friends and family.  We all ate too much and got nice presents and watched little kids go nuts and rip open packages, get new toys only in half of the instances to end up playing with the box all day.  Most of us did a lot of Christmas shopping this year, retailers had a bigger year than last year but one particular retail sector set records, gun stores.

 That’s right record gun sales in December, eclipsing the previous record set way back in November of that’s right, 2011.  Why are so many people in the United States arming themselves?  One of my favorite episodes from the original Twilight Zone series is called the Monsters are Due on Maple Street.  It’s a typical neighborhood in 1950’s America on a Summer night, washing cars, barbecues and kids playing in the street.  Then something streaks across the sky and a kid tells a story about alien invasion and ordinary people begin to turn on each other to find the monsters among them.  In nuclear paranoid America there was always an undercurrent of fear and paranoia that the big one would fall.  Take that tension and add just the right pressure and boom, neighbor against neighbor.  Of course it’s the Twilight Zone so at the end of the episode the camera pulls back and two aliens talk about how this is exactly how they’ll do the invasion, the kid was right.

Well, a lot of the conditions that made Maple Street ripe for chaos are present today in America once again.  We are in a world where the people of Arab nations are taking to the streets to free themselves from oppressive leaders.  Iran and North Korea are less stable than they have been in quite some time.  Occupy protestors are in the streets right here in the United States, and for good reason, our political system is broken, the current GOP Presidential race is more like reality TV than a process designed to possibly pick the next leader of the free world (whatever that is), our economy is dragging along on life support fearing the default of Italy or Spain, or Iran causing oil prices to spike.  The income gap in the United States is larger than ever and unemployment still flies well above 8% and a whole lot of kids are going to graduate with college degrees this May and not find work.

Now we no longer live under the fear of imminent nuclear war, although Putin is doing a dandy job of raising the nerves of Washington establishment.  However there is a lovely irrational fear that has permeated our culture, the Apocalypse.  That’s right the end of the Mayan Calendar has had a perceptible impact on the psyche of Americans.

Now do I think the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 of course not, I mean really, just because Zippy the Mayan Calendar Maker stopped his calendar at the end of a cycle a thousand years in the future doesn’t mean he had some mystical insight into the future.  Now I personally think ancient peoples get vastly under estimated for their level of intelligence and ability, but being psychic or having worked out the intricacies of plate tectonics, solar cycles, calculate universal gravitational constants and the rotation of planets imperceptible to modern man?  I don’t think so.

 The real risk from all of this Mayan silliness is the underlying pressure that it creates.  The impact it has on all of those new gun owners and new breed survivalists.  You see I don’t worry about the folks who have been building bunkers for years and setting up remote bug out locations.  The people I fear are the ones who are scared and semi-prepared or not prepared at all.  You see it’s that group of people who lose it for little or no reason.   Take the real tensions in our world, add in the irrational tensions of doomsday and then throw a combination of unexpected events and you have a recipe for disaster.  So say a heat wave this Summer triggers a power outage that crashes the grid for a couple of days, does a major metropolitan city meltdown under that scenario?  What if that power outage happens on December 21st, how many of those new gun owners start shooting at their neighbors who want to come to their house to stay warm.  To me what this says is that Maple Street is ready for the monsters and as Rod Serling said in the epilogue to that famous Twilight Zone episode, “the monsters are us.”

Somethings happening here is the first line of a Buffalo Springfield song, the song feels very, very current because without a doubt something is definitely going on around here, first the Tea Party and now the Occupy movement.  What it is, ain’t exactly clear.

There is an undercurrent of frustration in this country right now.  In America, a lot of frustration runs under the surface, we pretend that discrimination is rare in our country but it’s not; there is plenty of gender inequity, racism and although many conservatives don’t seem to believe it, tremendous economic inequity.  The economic inequity maybe the hardest pressure of all and it impacts American across racial and gender lines.  Parents come in all colors, both genders and lots of different family configurations however they all share one thing, the fear of what their children’s lives will be like in the future.  A lot of people right now liberal and conservative fear for their children’s future.  Throw that in the mix with a generation that has a serious sense of entitlement, people my age who never quite knew what to protest, and a lot of old hippies fearing for the future of their grandchildren and I think you have a country wide powder keg.

 Of course what’s lighting the fuse right now is the “Great Recession”, folks pay attention, the “Great Recession” is in many ways every bit as brutal as the Great Depression was and if you ask a lot of economists, yes, even conservatively bent economists, we’re going about getting out of this recession the wrong way, extending the duration of this mess.

 I’ve been reading Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States, it’s a fabulous book and it does something unique in looking at history, it follows the money.  There are a lot of parallels right now to the frustration, class warfare and economic inequity in the early part of the 20th Century.  A time when there were large labor movements and violence in the street.

 So the fuse is lit, and the powder keg is present, the real question is what does it take to blow things up?  Personally, I think we are living in a dangerous time and one more significant pressure could make it blow.  Like what?  I don’t know, maybe people freaking out over 2012, maybe another financial crash, maybe well, maybe a lot of things.  No matter what, the next 16 months are shaping up to be very, very interesting, something is happening round here my friends, keep your eyes open.

As I’m sure you know, on Friday afternoon Standard & Poors reduced America’s credit rating from AAA, to AA, essentially a demotion in the credit worthiness of the United States.  This will have a range of effects on all of us primarily through a rise in interest rates, lord knows credit card companies will use any excuse to jack our rates up.  The downgrade is not all that unexpected and while it certainly is a slap at how ineffective congress has been, it may also be a cover your ass move by Standard & Poors, they had Lehman’s Brothers well rated right up to the moment it failed and kicked off the financial crisis.  So they want to make sure they don’t look bad again.

Like me you are probably all pretty sick of the around the clock news coverage of this and the same old story, over and over again.  We were downgraded, what will it mean, will the stock market freak out?  Ok, we got it the first 26 times.

For me there is a bigger historical issue well at hand.  Over the last forty years we have seen more and more control of our lives and our governments by corporations.  They have infiltrated every sector of our life, their lobbyist have changed laws and distorted the truth, think nicotine is not addictive and smoking doesn’t cause cancer.  Or how about all the current natural gas commercials about how natural gas fracking is a clean,safe and effective way to help our energy needs, take a look at this before you buy that one.  https://zdeaconblue.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/natural-gas-fracking-in-the-news/

The bigger issue here for me is that Standard & Poors’ has said they are downgrading the US because congress didn’t go far enough in dealing with our national debt.  They are certainly correct about that but this is a credit rating corporation telling us how to run our country, and holding it hostage by its credit rating.  Much like the Tea Party folks just did with the debt ceiling increase.  At least the Tea Party are elected American officials and not a multi-national corporation.  Why this is significant to me is that this is the first time a corporation has publicly directed the United States of America to take a specific action.  Now, the action may be in our best interest, but it is disconcerting to see the most powerful country on Earth be directed by a company.

All of this starts to make me think about the movie Rollerball, not the bullshit remake, but the one from the 70’s with James Caan and John Houseman, where the world has been taken over and run by the corporation.  The takeover has been going over for years but this is the first really overt action, maybe I’m just running with a dystopian, paranoid fantasy here, or maybe it’s prophetic.  Maybe your grandkids will read about this in textbooks, or maybe it will be carefully edited out, who knows?

 So most of you might have heard by now that there is a religious group blanketing the country or at least the West Coast with a singular message, Judgment Day is coming and it’s May 21, 2011. This group has done some interesting math based upon their interpretation of the bible and have come up with 2011 as the date for Judgment Day which is 4099 years after the floods of Noah. The main gist of their hypothesis is the following:

The context of 2 Peter 3 is extremely important! In the first few verses, God refers us to the destruction of the world by the flood during Noah’s day. Then we find an interesting admonition that we ought not to be “ignorant” of one thing, which is, 1 day is as 1000 years, and 1000 years is as 1 day. Immediately following this bit of information is a very vivid description of the end of the present world by fire. What could God be telling us by identifying 1 day along with 1000 years? Since we recently have discovered the Biblical calendar of history on the pages of the Bible, we find that the flood of Noah’s day occurred in the year 4990 BC. This date is completely accurate (for further information on the Biblical timeline of history, please go to http://www.familyradio.com. It was in the year 4990 BC that God revealed to Noah that there would be yet 7 days until the flood of waters would be upon the earth. Now, if we substitute 1000 years for each one of those 7 days, we get 7000 years. And when we project 7000 years into the future from 4990 BC, we find that it falls on the year 2011 AD. 4990 + 2011 = 7001 Note: When counting from an Old Testament date to a New Testament date, always subtract one year because there is no year zero, resulting in: 4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7000 years exactly.

And finally, they come to the date of May 21, 2011 through the following logic:

On May 21st, 1988, God finished using the churches and congregations of the world. The Spirit of God left all churches and Satan, the man of sin, entered into the churches to rule at that point in time. The Bible teaches us that this awful period of judgment upon the churches would last for 23 years. A full 23 years (8400 days exactly) would be from May 21 st, 1988 until May 21st, 2011. This information was discovered in the Bible completely apart from the information regarding the 7000 years from the flood. Therefore, we see that the full 23-year tribulation period concludes on May 21st, 2011. This date is the exact day that the great tribulation comes to its end, and this is also the most likely landing spot for the 7000 years from the flood of Noah’s day.

So, if this all makes complete and total sense to you and you think that the bible, a book written well after Christ’s death is accurate to the day, and all of this groups assumptions are correct. Then I guess you have to also accept that God left us all in 1988, I mean the 80’s were bad, but I don’t think they were so bad God abandoned us. But, if you think that makes sense my friends, then go to church, confess your sins and clean your soul so you can join in the rapture. In fact, that makes a ton of sense, just take an hour or so as a precaution, because let’s say they are right. If they are you get to go to Heaven while us heathens are left here to fight the forces of the Devil in the great battle of Armageddon. So if you aren’t going to church on Saturday to confess your sins, you best be out buying ammo!