A swine of the times

Once again, we’re all going to die. I hate that.

We survived the bird flu, Y2K and disco (well, some of us survived it — others are still over at Johnny’s Hideaway.) Anyway, we face yet another virus that not only threatens us physically, but also threatens our political correctness — and that is a big deal here in the land of “let’s not offend anyone” to the umpteenth degree.

Come on, we’re not even sure we don’t make people mad when we refer to Christmas as Christmas!

According to an article in the New York Times, “Pork producers question whether the term “swine flu” is appropriate, given that the new virus has not yet been isolated in samples taken from pigs in Mexico or elsewhere. While the new virus seems to be most heavily composed of genetic sequences from swine influenza virus material, it also has human and avian influenza genetic sequences as well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Government officials in Thailand, one of the world’s largest meat exporters, have started referring to the disease as “Mexican flu.” An Israeli deputy health minister said his country would do the same, to keep Jews from having to say the word “swine.”

How the heck are we going to find the cure and vaccine if we don’t even agree on what to call it?

Janet Napolitano, the secretary for homeland security, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack went out of their way at a press conference in Washington last week to refer to the virus by its scientific name: the “H1N1 virus.” Now you’re adding numbers with letters and making the whole thing more complicated. Perfect.

The pigs are mad, the pig farmers are mad, and there’s an Amway salesman in Metter, Ga., named Stan Swine who’s beside himself!

Bad stuff indeed, but as we all know, the first step in addressing a problem is knowing what to call it.

The World Organization for Animal Health, which handles veterinary issues around the world, issued a statement suggesting that the new disease should be labeled “North American influenza,” in keeping with a long medical tradition of naming influenza pandemics for the regions where they were first identified. This has included the Spanish flu of 1918 to 1919, the Asian flu of 1957 to 1958 and the Hong Kong flu of 1967 to 1968 — not to mention the lesser-known episodes of the Olongapo City Clap and the Cypress Lounge Crabs.

I know, I know, it’s serious. But how come we’re wasting time denying where the thing started and what the heck to call it?

The Mexican ambassador to Beijing was quoted as saying the virus did not originate in Mexico. According to Ambassador Guajardo, he was told by American and Canadian experts that the genetic sequence points to a Eurasian origin.

The president of Eurasia strongly denied this claim. (I’m kidding. Eurasia doesn’t have a president; they have a Supreme Poobah.)

I know, back to serious. Listen, this thing is a good reminder that we should pay scientists good money to figure this stuff out, and pay other people to name it, as not to worry that the scientists are wasting time worrying about the name.

If we name it after an animal, people get mad. If we name it after a city, we get the same response. If we add numbers between the letters, then those people who over-interpret things will go crazy trying to figure out what the hidden meaning is.

In the meantime, we waste all this effort trying to name it something that won’t offend anyone.
The only name left that won’t raise the ire of someone is the internationally accepted word “Mojo.”

The “Mojo” flu has a good flow and quite frankly sounds important — and that is the second step to addressing a problem. People who take something seriously will respond to it.

Wash your hands, use the hand sanitizers, don’t go to work or school if you’re sick and stay off the airplane if you’re sick. And cover your mouth when you sneeze and/or cough.

Taking that a step further for those up in the really, really remote regions, if you’re currently dating one, please break up with your pig.

Read up and do your little part and we’ll get through this. After this passes, and it will, we need to address the rising popularity of disco.

Seriously, fear the disco.

12 comments Add your comment

P. York

May 6th, 2009
7:42 pm

I know that you’re relieved that Afghanistan has quarantined its herd of pigs, all one of them.


May 7th, 2009
12:47 pm

P York – And they slaughtered all the pigs in Egypt. There should be a great sale on pork products soon!!!!


May 7th, 2009
12:47 pm

Not Disco!!! NOOOOO!!!! My knees will never stand up to the agony of walking on platforms again–not to mention my adult onset allergy to polyester.

I blame it all on Donna Summer and The Bee Gees!


May 7th, 2009
1:25 pm

A parrothead diss-ing disco ? Unbelievable. That be like a corn dog making fun of a bologna sandwich.Word.

Lt. Steve

May 7th, 2009
2:27 pm

D–I’m not a Parrothead, I’m a good husband.


May 8th, 2009
6:35 am

Lt. Steve – Sez you. I would love to hear some of Mrs. Lt. Steve’s stories.


May 8th, 2009
11:57 am

The funniest thing I read about this whole overblown fiasco was in the NYTimes FAQish doctor on board sessions:

“My neighbor has a pet pot bellied pig. Should I be worried?”

God bless you. You’d better run over and kiss that pig.


May 8th, 2009
3:31 pm

It’s not a matter of offense. It’s a matter of hurting pork producers because people are idiots who would rather make assumptions instead of locating reliable information.


May 10th, 2009
3:45 pm

I’m just referring to it as that, “damn stupid flu.”


May 11th, 2009
12:59 pm

Here’s the best part. People die every year from the flu. While I understand the need for precautions why isn’t there something on the news every day of the 30,000ish people who die every year from the flu. That way when we have a swine show up there would not be as much panic based on the blown out proportion of media coverage.

Just a thought.


May 18th, 2009
8:58 am

I’ve been calling it “Circe’s Revenge.”


May 21st, 2009
1:16 pm

I think the most-absurd and funniest thing about all of the Swine Flu hoopla was hearing that China was halting all shipments of American pork products into their country to prevent contamination. Unfortunately it’s hurting many of the pork farmers and companies from the sudden drop in demand and revenue. Ahh, you just can’t make this stuff up.