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.