“I’m gonna get you this time, chump,” the Grim Reaper said to me in early April 2009. He was dressed in his obligatory long, black, hooded robe. The Grim Reaper’s face was completely hidden in the dark depths of his hood, but his deadly scythe glistened in his right hand. “I’m gonna kill all of you. All six billion of you! This time I will destroy humanity like the Lakers are going to obliterate the Jazz in the NBA Playoffs!”
“Yeah, right, Reaper,” I said, smirking. “You say the same thing every couple of years. Natural disasters…blah blah blah…global pandemics…yawn…nuclear winters…zzzzzz….” I could tell the Reaper was getting riled as I pretended to fall asleep mid-conversation.
“Hah! You overconfident fool!” The Grim Reaper boldly proclaimed. “This time I am serious! I will destroy humanity as you know it! You will read about my vengeance every time you turn on the TV, listen to the radio or log on to the internet. Millions will die! Hah hah hah! Hah (snort) ha ha (oink) ha ha (snort, oink)!”
“What the….” I said, befuddled. Before the Grim Reaper could react I quickly grabbed his hood and pulled it back, revealing his face.
And the face staring back at me looked a lot like Porky Pig.
“Noooo-ink!” The Grim Reaper yelled, retreating as fast as his cute little hooves could carry him. His funny, curly tail bobbed up and down as he scampered away, making me smile.
And as the Grim Reaper ran off to kill millions of people, I had just one thought:
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m already bored of The Swine Flu. Or, as the more PC crowd likes to call it – the H1N1 virus. Within a few weeks the ultra-PC crowd will be calling it the MAVTLCOBTDWNIFITDSDJIYXJ, or the Mexican-American Virus That Legally Crossed Our Borders To Do What Nature Intended For It To Do So Don’t Judge It, You Xenophobic Jerk! Just wait. This will happen.
Over the past several weeks I have built up a mental resistance to any mention of H1N1 on television or the radio. As soon as I hear the words “Swine Flu” my brain immediately tunes it out and starts playing mental re-runs of my favorite Napoleon Dynamite scenes.
Maybe I am being a little too flippant about the whole Swine Flu thing, like when Kip refuses to bring Napoleon some Chapstick to school despite the fact that Napoleon’s lips, “hurt real bad!” Should I be taking H1N1 a little more seriously, like Rex-Kwan-Do takes martial arts? (Sorry, just typing this post has caused me to have about four hundred Napoleon Dynamite flashbacks already.) Please vote in the poll on the right to tell me how you feel.
Look, I know the Swine Flu exists. Real people are getting sick, and unfortunately a small number have even died. My heart goes out to people whose lives have been impacted by this disease and I pray that nobody I know will suffer from it. But I refuse to believe the gloom-and-doom reports from the people who are pumping H1N1 24/7. But, hey, nothing is better for ratings and/or funding like a good crisis, so let’s not waste this one, people.
So why do I find a potential global disaster to be more boring than a Happy Hands recital?
Because every couple of years we are told – pretty convincingly – that the world as we know it is going to end. Here are a few of the bed-wetting predictions that most of us have already lived through:
1968: Overpopulation. Paul Ehrlich writes the book “Population Bomb” and predicts that famines will cause millions of deaths in the 1970’s, that life expectancy in the United States in the 1980’s would drop to 42 years due to the use of pesticides, and the nation’s population would shrink to 22.6 million by 1999. While Ehrlich's population predictions were way off, he did correctly predict Al Franken’s election to the Senate before mankind was destroyed, so he gets credit for that.
1974: Global Cooling. Time Magazine reported that “a growing number of scientists” were concerned about an imminent Ice Age as average global temperatures plummeted by 2.7-degrees Farenheit since the 1940’s. And to scare your chilly little rear ends even more, there were, “no indications of reversing.” As ice, snow and polar winds advanced around the world we were warned by a prominent scientist that, "I don't believe that the world's present population is sustainable if there are more than three years like 1972 in a row." Just like Vanilla Ice, Global Cooling scared a bunch of people for a short period of time and was subsequently replaced by something much more trendy (i.e. Eminem and Global Warming.)
1980’s: Nuclear Winter. I grew up in the 1980’s and learned to both fear and hate the USSR, or the “Commies” as we liked to call them. In fact, calling somebody a “Commie” on the playground were fightin’ words back in my day. We were told repeatedly that at any moment nuclear bombs could start raining down from Moscow. Two of my favorite childhood movies were War Games and Red Dawn, which only made me more terrified of the USSR. (My other favorite movie was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which taught me to always lock my bike and to never, ever, ever accept a ride from a female truck driver.)
Back in the 1980’s we all needed aspirin just to combat the stress headaches that were caused by the world’s impending destruction.
Just make sure you didn’t take a Tylenol back in 1983. Those would have killed you too, remember?
1999: Y2K. Do you remember how terrified we were that computers would rise up against us in rebellion on 01/01/00? I was about to type a lengthy reminder about the Y2K scare but my computer said it would, “gut me like a fish,” if I attempted any such treason.
2001: Mad Cow Disease. Leading experts warned us that, “more than 100,000 people may die from the disease in the next several decades.” As of 2006, only about 160 people had died from Mad Cow. Conversely, an estimated 597 people died after eating at Jack in the Box last year alone.
2003: SARS. Ian Sample of The Guardian predicted that there could be, “millions dead,” as a result of SARS. He then declared that, “Although the disease is spreading more slowly than the Spanish flu pandemic that killed up to 50 million people in 1918, it is more lethal and may simply take longer to spread.” The only thing more lethal than the Spanish flu is Chuck Norris, not SARS. SARS claimed an estimated 800 victims, mostly in Asia, and not the potential tens of millions we were warned about.
2005: Bird Flu. On Sept 30, 2005 the UN’s World Health Organization estimated between 2 million and 7.4 million people could die from a global influenze pandemic. David Nabarro, senior UN system coordinator for avian and human influenza, then said, “the range of deaths could be anything from 5 to 150 million.” By the end of 2007 only 206 people had died from bird flu, making the UN’s prediction incorrect by nearly one-million to one. But on a more positive note, this is the closest the UN has come to getting anything right this decade, so great job, guys!
And now it’s the Swine Flu that is going to allegedly kill us all. Or not. In the mean time, I’m just going to tune out any H1N1 news until it finally just quietly, unexpectedly goes away.
You know, like the time when Napoleon Dynamite’s grandma got put in the hospital after her four wheeler accident at the sand dunes...
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