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Fear U.S.A.

Yesterday, I inadvertently looked at the TV screen in my house.  MSNBC was on, and Brian Williams said something funny about how stupid and empty TV news has become.  He aged very well.  The last time I saw him, he was 5-7 years younger.  Now you know how much TV I consume.

After about 5 minutes, the 10 o'clock news was on.  The news started from giving us an overview of the deadly Nile virus that has been truly decimating us poor Texans.  We were told how we should fear the virus, mosquitoes, walking outdoors, wearing shorts and short sleeves, and being near water - especially stagnant water.  A 90-year old woman in Dallas was reported to have died of the virus. Next, they showed a guy, who was younger than my wife or me. The guy told us how concerned he was for his life.  An older woman followed and spouted out how she too feared for her little old life.

Being an eager student of Edward Bernays, and other younger experts in propaganda and manipulating the little people, I sat on the edge of my sofa, trying to divine what would they start selling us?

And thus the sales pitch started. The local crew first showed us aerial spraying of Dallas, with a mosquito bomber circling above. They assured us that the chemicals drizzling upon our heads were absolutely harmless and the whole metropolitan area would be sprayed with DEET.

DEET is N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide, developed by the United States Army, after the harrowing experience of mosquitoes and other bugs in jungle warfare during World War II. It was originally tested as a pesticide on farm fields, and entered military use in 1946 and civilian use in 1957.  Canada, for example, is not as eager to use DEET on its population as the U.S. is.

Camera moved on swiftly to a well stocked drug store, where a sales woman with a grave face told the viewers that they should be stocking up on DEET.   In healthy people, the Nile virus causes flu-like symptoms that go away in a couple of days.  Perhaps today I am suffering from the Nile virus, because as sure as hell I have a flu after flying for 15 hours from Brisbane.

But how would I know, which one is it: A plain old American flu virus or the deadly Nile virus?  No problem, the TV newsters told us.  There are walk-in clinics, where the whole family can test their blood for this stealthy, foreign intruder. At, say, $60 a pop (my estimate), seven days later you could learn if you were infected by the Nile virus, a seriously looking walk-in doctor person told us.  Now, in seven days I should be either dead or healthy again.  So why waste my hard-earned money?

Come to think of it, may be we should send our troops to teach those Nilesians a lesson.  How dare they invade us with their virus?  Now wait a second.  May be the Nile is, like, err, a river? In, like, err, err, Africa?

Nile is the 4,130 miles long river that runs through ten countries:, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya,  Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt. Luckily, we already have Special Forces in at least five of those countries. If we only could name them... Wait:  Kenya!  Is that where President Obama was born?  Or his dad?... Or, whatever... How would we ever know such things in America? Sarah Palin surely didn't, and she almost became a VP of these United States. I guess, her local TV news in Alaska did not show her them Africans, like President Obama.

At that moment I exhausted my capacity to endure this well-calculated fear mongering fiesta, designed to scare the public enough to get them in line, spend money on unnecessary stuff and medical tests, and stay at home or a mall.  So I switched to Jon Stewart and - to my great relief - observed a training session for his field correspondents before the Republican Party Convention.  Jon Stewart will be covering that fear-mongering mega show.  It should be quite funny.  And scary, too.  Perhaps I'll turn on TV again?

P.S. That crazy Fort Hood shooter in 2009, and the Texas A&M shooter in 2012, together killed 15 people (the A&M shooter was killed too) and wounded 32, some gravely.  So in 30 minutes (equal to 0.00006 year), these two individuals killed and maimed more young and healthy Texans than the Nile virus in 13 years.  And the Nile virus only kills old and sick Texans.

Wow!  These two shooters alone were 200,000 times faster in killing Texans than the Nile virus! As my ex-marine friend from Nevada would inevitably say: "Why fight with mosquitoes, when one can use bullets?"

Perhaps we should be spraying Texas for guns?  Or, better yet, for those crazy, trigger-happy gun owners? Nah. Way too many people would have to drop dead to eliminate the only real deadly epidemic in Texas. So, instead, let's keep on blabbing about the imaginary epidemics.


  1. The shooting epidemic has claimed 15 lives yet motor vehicle accidents claim at least 30,000 lives every year. You may be glad that some of the ole boys in Texas still have there guns if the just in time delivery system ever falters from financial/economic collapse. Law and order is just one of the many things dependent on the fossil fuel run industrial system and the as you know the system is under strain from expensive oil.

    1. Yep, but guns (homicides, suicides, and accidents) took 30,000 American lives in 2007. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the 37,261 Americans killed in car accidents and other collisions in 2008 marked the lowest number since 1961, and this trend continued in 2009.

      Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      There is a synergy between drug- and gun-related deaths.

  2. "There is a synergy between drug- and gun-related deaths."

    I think that is quite true. Urban decay and social injustice play a large role in that synergy. Switzerland has the highest gun ownership ratio in the world, mainly military assault weapons, and they do not have the gun violence problems that the U.S. has.

    I also neglected in my previous post how much I agree with your thoughts on fear mongering in the media. Orwellian times we live I am afraid.

    Also I wanted to leave you a link of David Korowicz's paper Trade Off. It details the interconnectedness of the global economic/financial systems and how cascading defaults could rip through the system. The end of cheap oil puts the industrial world under increasing strain and solutions seem to only add layers of complexity; making the system less resilient. I would be very interested in your thoughts on this paper if you do read it.

    It is quite a long paper I must warn you.

  3. Thank you, Mark, for the paper. I'll read it as soon as I have an afternoon off.

    Our society is becoming ungovernable. The scared, confused and distracted people do not make good decisions as a rule. They also escape into drugs, alcohol, guns, and buying stuff.

    I am writing these words on the eve of both party conventions. I am deeply concerned that we will witness another wave of fear mongering and hatred stoking for conservative or liberal reasons.

    I am sickened to my bones when I see how fear breeds and amplifies xenophobia, misogyny, and racism. Someday, we will have to drink the potion our elites have been mixing for us.

  4. Stalin said, "I prefer my people to be loyal out of fear rather than conviction. Convictions can change, but fear remains." At least he was honest about it.

    1. This is true, but we are quite different. The U.S. pursues a mixture of poor eduction for most, strong indoctrination of the uneducated, misinformation and distractions, and fear of the penal system and widespread eavesdropping. In this fashion, and with much superior technical capabilities, we are pursuing rather closely the social model presented in 1984 by Orwell. I forgot to add that an ever-lasting war with an ill-defined enemy is also needed to keep the population in line.

  5. As history unfolds it becomes more clear just how brilliant George Orwell was. He truly was a prophet if ever there was one.

    I have read "Animal Farm" many times since I was a child and the more I learn in life the more truths I see that Orwell had hidden in the story.


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