Such a day to travel to Ann Arbor — the air still soft, fall colors at their absolute peak, the oblivious overprivileged students stepping in front of your car and I’m sorry but are you riding that bicycle the wrong way down a one-way street, HEADED DIRECTLY FOR ME?
She was. Swerved at the last minute. I love Ann Arbor, but sometimes I hate the reason Ann Arbor exists — students.
The online training went well. There was a segment on mobile-device info technology that turned up a few rocks for me, although again I had the thought: I hope some good new people have been entering my former industry in the years since I left it, because the people I once knew there simply aren’t up to this. I don’t think very often of my last years in the biz, but it came back to me at one point, when the speaker was discussing disseminating information across multiple platforms; I thought of the knee-jerk suspicion that accompanied every new idea in online journalism back in the day, how the immediate, gut reaction to an employee interested in trying something new was don’t, shouldn’t, can’t. And, of course, bias.
It’s frustrating to work in an environment ruled by fear. I’m sure it’s even worse now.
So I got home, got online and caught up on my Facebook buddies. Several are thinking about getting the H1N1 shot. Another is wondering whether her kids should get it. In every comment thread, there’s an anti-vaccination voice, and the position they take illustrates one of the weirder contradictions of modern life. I recommend Christopher Beam’s piece in Slate last week, about the bizarre right-left alliance against the new flu shot.
I’ve noticed one of the satisfactions the anti-vax position offers its holder, i.e., the ability to endlessly spew data into the air without having to actually consider it. People may have good reasons for not wanting the shot — and yes, “I’m afraid of needles” is a perfectly fine one — but at some level, this argument isn’t an argument at all, but more like birtherism. No matter how often someone says the vaccine is safe, you can always come back with but mercury’s a poison, is it not? “Mercury is a poison” is the “long-form birth certificate” of flu season.
Get the shot or don’t get it, but don’t bleat about mercury toxicity to one who has spent all this week clipping stories from the English-speaking press about this flu. Here’s one from the Daily Telegraph in London:
Doctors have been “unnerved” by the severity of swine flu in some patients and their rapid deterioration into a “life and death situation”, Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer has said.
I don’t like it when doctors are unnerved. I don’t like it when the ones dying are otherwise healthy young people. I’m going after the shot for Kate, but at this rate, it’s looking like the vaccine is already arriving too late to do any real good.
I’m off to my Friday morning meeting. Sorry for the thin effort this week, but we’ll try for better next, eh?