12th October & 7th November 2005
- BIRD FLU -
Recent warnings from the World Health Organization are
scary. H5N1 is a bird disease, and seems to strike all species of
birds, although with different levels of virulence. In chickens,
the fatality rate is high. Wild ducks can carry the infection with no
visible signs. That is where Wendy
Orent went astray.
12th November 05 The
very best page for those like myself who fear global pandemic is that
produced by the nom de blog effectmeasure.
Although the author is a dyed in the blue liberal, the medical
information seems as accurate as timeliness allows, and the
speculations are a hypochondriac's wet dream (platitudinally
speaking). He did an interesting series on somebody called George
Larkoff, who has propounded a cognitive theory that likens human
thought processes to "frames" which he likens to metaphors, but to me
Larkoff frames appear to be a cross between memes and platitudes.
Some health professionals in Australia seem to be in a
state of panic. Australia is one of the few Tamiflu
producers, and should have
more available per capita than just about anyone else, however none is
available for purchase. The other
antiviral treatment (Relenza) is apparently useless, since the H5N1
virus currently in SE Asia has reportedly developed an immunity to
it. Local pharmacists report that people in Sydney's eastern
hoarding Tamiflu. This is likely to be a waste of money.
According to Wikipedia, H5N1 has already mutated to a form that is
resistant to Tamiflu.
In any case, Tamiflu and Relenza are not inoculations, but
inoculation teaches the bodies immune system to defend against the
virus. A treatment directly attacks the virus, and allows the
body's immune system that extra bit of time that it needs to develop
it's own defense. Tamiflu would hopefully be used to stop the
gaining entry to the body, although that would be a particularly
wasteful manner in which to use the drug.
Update note 7th November 2005 - More
important are prophylactic measures that can be taken. WHO
advises that careful handling of
chickens and eggs prior to cooking is essential. The virus can
last for up to one month in cold conditions (such as in a refrigerator)
but is destroyed by cooking above 70deg C.(about 160deg F)
The presence of H5N1 in Europe has been confirmed. For the
winter, birds from Europe migrate to Africa. The problem with
Africa is that monitoring of outbreaks in birds and humans would be
difficult, permitting a mutated human infection to gain foothold.
The problem with bird flu is that, unlike SARS, it is infectious before
it is detectable. (At least with SARS, there were symptoms before
the infected person became infectious). Need I paint a picture of
what would happen in AIDS riddled Africa?
Update note 7th November 2005 - H5N1
was reported today in China on a major migration route to Australia.
Even survival of an H5N1 infection would not necessarily guarantee
future immunity for the
individual. It is
virus would mutate so rapidly that, like the annual cold, a new
inoculation would be needed each year. On the other hand,
the first inoculation is crucial, as it confers some small immunity
against the mutated virus.
12th November. The
Spanish Flu that reportedly killed 20-100 million circa 1918 might have
been a recombinant infection. There is speculation that the
lethality of that strain may have resulted because the strain is came
about after the Spanish flu
had mutated in birds to the point where it
transmitted directly to humans, and then transmitted (with no further
The Spanish Flu was reported as most lethal against those in the 20-40
year old age group. Scientists in HK claim that those with the
strongest immune systems are most at risk, because the disease
manufactures proteins that overstimulate the immune response.
Our politician's strategy is to attempt to find all cases where H5N1
human, and isolate those cases hoping thereby to prevent any spread in
the instance where the H5N1 has combined with an existing human virus
provide a new strain that would transmit easily between humans.
If (as seems to have happened in 1918) every bird could potentially be
carrying the strain that has mutated
to the point where transmission between humans would occur, then the
outlook for stopping the disease with that strategy is grim.
Mutation is happening
rapidly. Researchers have found that the virus is becoming more virulent.
Our leaders (in the interests, I suppose, of preventing a panic)
are concealing the extent of the potential disaster.
From reports it appears that about 50% of people infected with H5N1
although of course that 50% has had the benefit of oxygen tents and
anti-viral (Tamiflu or Relenza) treatments. Without those aids
be very low. It is anticipated that (after the virus
mutated to a human pathogen form) it would take up to six
months the develop and produce significant quantities of an
inoculation. And that is assuming that problems with mass
production of the virus in eggs can be solved. (apparently the
virus kills chicken eggs before the inoculation can be produced. Might
I suggest duck eggs?)
My own (very uneducated) guess is that between 200
and four billion people could die within that first six months.
Most of those fatalities would be in locations having a dense
population of humans and birds.
25th October - a report in OhmyNewsInternational
General Director of World Health Organization (WHO) Lee Jong Wook
said that it is a certainty that avian flu will become a human pandemic
and it's just "a matter of time" before the H5N1 virus mutates into a
type capable of being spread among humans. "This will be a
pandemic...The WHO predicts 25 million people will be infected and
and 7 million people will die around the world in a short period of
I foresaw a Pandemic problem more than five years ago (see
transport page) and recommended that international airports be
reduced in number and located in remote regions. Unfortunately, I
suspect that the travel convenience of our politicians & the needs
of MacQuarie Bank executives to earn unconscionable profits has swamped
anybody's addressing of such concerns.
We are facing nothing less than the possibility of the breakdown of
Maybe some of those southern fundamentalist preachers have got it
right. Perhaps it is time to stock up on food and the other
necessities beloved of survivalist literature.
I do not know whether I am ever again likely to view birds as one of
harmless and beautiful creations. Right now, I would be
tempted to vote to exterminate the entire species.
NINE & ISLAM -
There is a report that our police force accepted advice from a
potential drug courier's father, assured that father that they would
warn the courier, and instead advised Indonesian drug squad officials
of the couriers intent, which has resulted in the courier being caught
red-handed and charged with a capital offense.
It also appears that the law governing intelligence exchange between
international police forces has been broken, or at least bent.
If there is any iota of truth in that report, then the responsible
officers should be jailed for life. By assuring the father that
the courier would be warned, police preempted the father's own warning
to the courier that the authorities had been alerted.
I am sad that our police officials are so motivated by ambition that
they appear to have lost their humanity. The sort of person who
would tell a lie, knowing that the lie will probably result in the
death of fellow human beings, that sort of human should not be in
public service, but in jail.
Originally I was quite
That was before the days of Jemah Islamia. If Indonesia's
majority Muslim population decides that Sharia law
the law of the state, then non Muslim people within that state must be
secede. It is all very well for Muslims to insist that Muslim
people must live in their own religious Sultanate. In the
interest of consistency, the other side of that coin is that localized
majorities of non-Muslim people (such as the Hindu in Bali, or the
animists of West Irian ) must be permitted to secede from the Muslim
If living under Sharia law is so important to Muslims, then I feel that
we should not deprive Australian Muslims of the opportunity to live
under Sharia law. If a Muslim has as a religious necessity the
need to live under Sharia law, and perform such religious and cultural
acts in public as wear a Bourka or pray to Mecca, we should allow them
to publicly register as Muslims living under Sharia law in Australia.
I do not think that Sharia law is in strong conflict with our own laws.
Stealing and murder and rape are all crimes under Sharia. There
are a few extra crimes, such as adultery and usury. The penalties
under Sharia are somewhat different, and to our culture some of the
penalties might appear to be harsh. For instance, under Sharia
law, I believe, the penalty for stealing is to have
the left hand amputated. On the second offense, the right hand is
amputated. The third conviction leads to mandatory
execution. For rape or
adultery the penalty is death by
stoning (I think). Of course if a Muslim wanted to renounce Islam
& no longer live under Sharia law, he/she should be permitted to
recant his/her beliefs. (This recanting would not be
retrospective, so a crime committed while a Muslim would be tried in a
Sharia court and vv.)
We have already established a parallel justice and punishment system
for native Australians. Why not establish a Sharia justice and
punishment system for Australian Muslims?
CITIZEN MURDOCH -
There was a report today that the average age of newspaper readers was
55 years. A few weeks ago Murdoch sold a newspaper, purchased
Recently Rupert was reportedly
having problems with family (from what
we glean from the papers, he attempted to enlarge the trust that
previous wife Anna demanded as a divorce settlement, which trust named
his children as
directors having a significant proportion of NEWS corp as their
inheritance.) Rupert wanted the family trust to be enlarged to
include children borne by most recent wife Wendy Deng. This
would have given Wendy two votes, as trustee for her two
children. Apparently son Lachlan stood up to Daddy, and
(presumably) the trust remains with only the first (four?) children as
The problem seems to be compounding (as such things have a habit of
doing) in that renewal of the poison pill previously set to stop
Malone, who had swapped non-voting shares for voting shares when NEWS
moved to the state of Delaware in the USA is being challenged by
I still believe that Murdoch has the nous
to cope with the evolving
business environment, but it does seem
that Anna might have put a spoke in Wendy's wheel.
In what must be seen as a worrying indicator for any media corporation
that relies principally on advertising revenue, Google is predicted to
$100 billion capitalization mark shortly, making it more than twice as
large as rival search engine Yahoo, and bringing it to a net worth
greater than Bill Gates personal fortune. Microsoft and Yahoo are
not advertising media corporations, they are corporations that rely on
copyright and patent material for their revenue.
And just incidentally, valuing Google at more than twice the value of
I am agog and bemused at the unfolding panorama. It is my tip
that WIKIPEDIA is
a key of which both NEWS & GOOGLE seem unaware. I
envisage something along the lines of WIKINEWS.
7th Nov 2005 Drudge
published today a
Flash Report - "Bloodbath List" showing audits of the top 20 US daily
papers, all but two had falling circulation, and those two had
minuscule (<0.5%) rises.