Archive for October, 2005

Bird Flu

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Listening to a radio 4 discussion about bird flu this afternoon; it strikes me that there is a feeling among people (or at least pundits) that the govornment or the UN or somebody “should”, “can”, or even “is” doing something to prevent the spread of bird flu in the wild…

IANAE (I am not an epidemiologist) but as far as I am concerned, doesn’t the idea of being able to prevent a flu pandemic among wild birds seem completely ridiculous? Birds have this horrible habit of flying around! I don’t know for sure but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that when you factor in migratory birds the degrees of seperation between an average pair of random wild birds anywhere in the world is relatively low (I’m not going to put a figure on it, but i imagine it is similar or lower to two average humans).

The issues currently being turned over by the press about quarntine asside, I’m going to make some gloomy predictions.

  • The large majority susceptible bird populations in the world will be infected by H5N1 in the next 18 months
  • No measures taken by us will have any significant effect on stopping this spread in wild birds

What happens after this is what is important of course.

I’m willing to believe that a pandemic wild bird infection of HN51 does present a significant threat to humans (although an infectious human form is not by any means a certainty), and I’m willing to accept that we might be able to do something to limit the effects of a human outbreak of such a form (although god knows what that would do to our fragile civilisation), but can we prevent birds from becoming infected, or humans from coming into contact with infected birds? I don’t know.

On a lighter note, one could envisage an exploding market for AA (Anti-Avian) defences around popluation centers and poultry farms, imagine a pair of shotguns mounted on a robotic tripod, automatically dispatching rogue birds with the occasional “pop” and cloud of feathers.

Drinkage 17/10-23/10

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005



Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Aparrently not all crazy creationists are christians, some are weird multi-faith christian/muslims too. They have some great arguments like: “A gecco has no adhesives or suction pads on his feet!” or “Darwin caused the holocaust” and “oh yeah communism too” and “actually pretty much all disasters” and “If you don’t buy our books, the world will end.. or something”.

I really love creationist arguments which start along the lines of “That can’t possibly have evolved because…” I can remember a random lecture by somebody who claimed to have a degree in biology who asserted that “there is no possible way for the eye to have evolved” and likewise “how can animals have left the water if they didn’t already have a load baring pelvis…”.


Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Saw goldfrapp in Bristol with a bunch of people last night. Gig was fantastic, although we got there too early and got a bit bored with the DJ warm up and waiting 1/2 an hour between them and the main set. Goldfrapp seem to be one of these bands which has managed to attain a fairly universal appeal (i.e. my mum likes them) and while this is great I suspect it let the set down a bit. We arrived at about 7:30 but the tickets listed the opening time as 7:00, my guess is that many of the more mature fans took this as the start time and turned up then and crowded to the front of the stage, an unfortunate side effect being that hardly anbody near the stage was dancing (the occasional bob in “ooh la la” aside).