BY BEAU ELLIOT | MAY 05, 2009 7:26 AM


(We’re all going to die of swine flu.)

(Or not. Who can tell these days? Those are just the kind of days we have, these days.)

(But with all the swine-flu hysteria in the last week or so — especially on cable news, the home of high-pitched worry — it seemed as though we were all 37 minutes away from death by diarrhea. Yuck. People stopped buying pork — even though you can’t get the flu by eating pork. There was a mass run on face masks — even though, as NPR pointed out, there’s very little evidence face masks do anything to prevent the spread of flu.)

(Hmm — face masks. I have a former girlfriend who has lived in China for the last several years, including during the SARS panic. When I asked her if she wore a face mask during the time of SARS, she looked at me as if I had the IQ of a wooden step — which, I’ll admit, some days I do. It occurs to me that I can say “I don’t know” in five languages. Hmmm, indeed.)


(We’re not supposed to be calling it “swine flu.” It’s killing the pork industry, which in Iowa is a pretty large part of the economy, such as we have an economy anymore. Actually, in Egypt, according to reports, it is literally killing the pork industry — that nation decided to slaughter 100s of 1,000s of pigs in response to the flu scare.)

(Why are there pigs in Egypt? Aren’t Muslims forbidden to eat pork?)

(No less a person than Secretary of Agriculture [and former Iowa governor] Tom Vilsack came out and told us all to stop calling it “swine flu.” “This really isn’t swine flu. It’s H1N1 virus,” Vilsack said.)

(Remember when he was governor? Me, neither.)

(And as Neal Conan of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” remarked, “We call it ‘swine flu’ because, well, that’s what people call it.”)

(Well, yes. But people call it “swine flu” because that’s what the mainstream media labeled it. Had the media called it “hybrid flu” (which is reportedly what it actually is), people would have called it “hybrid flu.” Were the media to relabel it “new flu” or “H1N1” [which is admittedly rather clunky; but listen carefully to people talking — they’re apparently quite at home with — or down with —clunky language], people would eventually follow.)

(Personally, I prefer calling it “Ice 9 flu,” if for no other reason than Kurt Vonnegut would have gotten a good chuckle out of it.)

(Also, “Ice 9 flu” has the appropriate sense of doom about it.)

(Except, of course, that swine-flu doomsday — or new-flu doomsday, or H1N1-flu doomsday [a flu by any other name would smell as sweet] seems to have been postponed. So many doomsdays seem to get postponed these days. Have you noticed?)

(It’s like when SARS was going to kill us all. Remember that? Me, neither. And my former girlfriend in Beijing who refused to wear a face mask is still kicking. She’s a great kicker. Just trust me on this one.)


(What are we going to worry about now?)

(Well, the Obamas have a new dog, which would normally be nothing to worry about except that it’s — ahem — Portuguese, and they named it “Beau.” Except that, according to reports, they spelled it “Bo.” What kind of president do we have if he can’t even spell “Beau”? And he’s supposed to save the economy? Respond to the unrest in Pakistan, which is a member of the nuclear club? Somehow handle the nuclear threat from North Korea?)



(An asteroid might hit the Earth and destroy civilization as we know it.)

(Of course, if it obliterated Nebraska, we probably wouldn’t notice.)

(Except that the Rocky Mountains would be about 10 hours closer.)


(If there were no Nebraska, what would we in Iowa have to make fun of?)

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