Saturday, May 21, 2011

...and I feel fine.

Someday, the American people will be expected to heed a warning from the Centers for Disease Control.

Forgive us if we assume it's just another joke. 

On its official website, this supposedly responsible government agency has posted precautionary guidelines for a "zombie apocalypse."  Here's a link, but in the event the page is removed (as I suspect will soon be the case), it's reprinted below, where you can click and magnify:

Your tax dollars at work, folks.

The genius behind this is Dr. Ali Khan, the assistant surgeon general of the United States, an expert on bioterrorism, global health, emerging infectious diseases and flesh eating zombies. 

"There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for," the wannabe comedian writes.  "Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this..."


And, no, I'm not referring to the zombies. 

Oh, by the way, just in case there's an "idiot apocalypse," here's what you should look for:

Dr. Ali Khan, as portrayed by Eugene Levy

Entirely too enamored with his own cleverness, the smug Dr. Khan -- who has been hailed as a "public health hero," yet obviously doesn't have enough real work to keep him busy -- is dismissive of all complaints, and blithely says he was simply trying to come up with a new way to tell people how to prepare for hurricane season.

I'm sure the victims of Katrina and other killer storms are grateful.  Especially for the pictures of animated corpses drenched in blood.

 "Public health preparedness allows us to think about the unexpected and unpredictable events, and I guess you can include zombies in unexpected and unpredictable events," he said.

Don't guess, ok?  We already have Saturday Night Live.  We need the CDC to be the CDC.

Dr. Khan seems oblivious to the negative impact this kind of cavalier joking around could have, and does have, on the CDC's reputation.  It wasn't long ago that the possibility of a deadly swine flu pandemic was literally being mocked by the general public, despite an actual warning from the CDC.  Is nobody in that building on Clifton Road in Atlanta aware of how little confidence and trust you have in the first place?

Have none of you ever heard the story of Chicken Little?

Coverage of Dr. Khan's antics has been overwhelmingly favorable, and often tongue-in-cheek.  No surprise there.  Most so-called legitimate media outlets have lost all sense of responsibility, and, seemingly, the ability to differentiate between fact and fiction, or, at least, the ability to care.  They choose to entertain rather than to inform, and if people read or watch, that's all that matters.

No wonder Dr. Khan thinks it's ok to be an internet sensation at the cost of dignity, not to mention reality.

Even worse is his timing -- which, in all probability, is intentional.

In recent days, the geriatric prophet Harold Camping and his less-than-merry band of followers -- who were introduced to readers of Certain Speculation in a New Year's Day essay titled, "Torment of the Scorpion" -- suddenly have received an enormous amount of coverage, a further testament to the ongoing decline of "news" in this country.

Consequently, just about everybody in the U.S. is aware Camping predicted May 21 -- today -- would kick off the Rapture.

I'm willing to bet at least half the people on your "friends" list posted something about having survived the day.  A lot of comments on Facebook have been clever and quite humorous.  Entirely too many, however, put up links to the R.E.M. song, "It's The End of the World As We Know It."

Problem is, even by Biblical standards, the Rapture isn't the end of the world. 

The end of the world is the Apocalypse, and, according to Camping, it doesn't come around until Oct. 21.

Surveys indicate 76% of Americans identify themselves as Christians -- yet, best I can tell, few know the difference between the Rapture and the Apocalypse.

Most of us can expect be cleaning up a lot of dead bodies, if Camping happens to be correct.  Those who are among the "saved," by contrast, should be slumping over any minute by the hundreds, as your souls are snatched out and taken directly into Heaven.

So far, no reports of that happening -- but, as of this writing, the day isn't over!

Why it takes five months to complete the Rapture, I really don't know.  Maybe it's like flying on a commercial airline.  You board by zone, on a delayed flight.

Obviously, Camping is deranged, but he seems to believe what he's saying is true -- unlike Dr. Khan, who merely is a misguided, irresponsible egomaniac.  And the folks bringing you both these "stories?"  They just don't care one way or the other.

Neither, it seems, do the most pious among us.

Details of the Rapture and Armageddon are set forth in Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, and are therefore basic tenets of Christianity, very few Christians seem to believe in them with any degree specificity.  In fact, the most religious people I know are enjoying a good laugh at Camping's expense -- albeit prematurely.

In October, you see, we'll be going through this all over again, when the Apocalypse doesn't come either.

Here's why:

For newspapers and television, the world really is coming to an end.

Unable to adapt or compete with the internet and personal communication devices,  they are like dinosaurs in aftermath of a catastrophic meteor crash.  Extinction is at hand, but their tiny brains are incapable of comprehending what has happened, so, as an enormous cloud of ash darkens the sky, they writhe and scream louder and louder as they are pulled slowly and painfully into bubbling tar.

Struggling to survice, they will do anything.


Death throes are always ugly.
Throughout history, people have predicted the end of the world, and, throughout history, they've been wrong.  For the most part, we ignored these individuals, until and unless they and their followers committed suicide en masse -- which, to my way of thinking, is an example of Darwinism at its finest.

The difference between then and now is that fanaticism and mental illness is being presented as a form of entertainment, and we're not angry about it.

We're just laughing.

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