Sunday, 19 February 2017

This latest blog has been a while coming. I have been busy with other things in the last month not least, dealing with the death of my Father, aged 97 just before Christmas.

It's safe to say, I am now ready to re-enter the fray and offer you all the benefit of my wisdom and knowledge.

This is an old story left over from last year but I will post it anyway.

Bill Gates has announced that he is "crossing his fingers" that a deadly flu epidemic doesn't strike in the next ten years because "the world is a bit vulnerable right now".

I'm wondering why this statement is news. While his foundation does invest a lot of money into global healthcare, he himself is not a specialist in micro-biology, epidemiology, medicine or any relevant subject that would give him any special insight into current risks. In other words, his view is exactly as valid as any other unqualified person; so why report it?

The reality is that the world has been at risk from viral or bacterial diseases ever since life first evolved on the planet around 4 billion years ago and nothing much has changed in that time other than the fact that we now have a pretty good idea what causes them and, more importantly, how to prevent or contain them.

The recent Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks he refers to are caused by a number of factors, none of which could have been predicted before the event and the subsequent spread of those diseases were the result also of a number of factors, one of which being the delay in realising the seriousness of the problem early enough.

Anti-science mumbo-jumbo is responsible for a large part of the problem. Historically, whenever an epidemic of anything has broken out, there have been plenty of people eager to take advantage of the situation to pursue their own agenda. Whether it's a simple desire to make money out of the crisis by selling unproven and unlikely cures to an uneducated and gullible public; an opportunity to advance a religious agenda, or a chance to gain undeserved status as a saviour of the moment for political ends, the result is always the same: confusion and muddle.

Ebola Virus
During the Ebola crisis in West Africa, there were actually a bunch of whackos who flew to the area in order to provide the victims with "homoeopathic cures". This meant the authorities having to divert resources away from treating the epedemic in order to keep these idiots out of the containment area and to reassure the families of those people already infected that bottles of magic water and sugar pills were no cure for viral infections.

The Zika outbreak brought every nutter in creation out of the woodwork with claims that "the disease was a hoax": you get a lot of that. Or, the disease was being spread by genetically modified insects let lose by Big Pharma, The Illuminati, The Government, etc., etc., etc.

Natural News (always a good read), the World's foremost publication of barmpottery published a story about how the Zika virus didn't exist and was all part of a secret plan by whoever to fool the public into believing whatever. In an act of supreme irony, on the same page as the article claiming that the Zika virus didn't exist, they ran an advert for a "natural" insect spray that would act as a repellent to the mosquito infecting people with the Zika virus; that's the virus that doesn't exist by the way, just in case you're losing the plot.

Anyway, if you really want to help in the prevention and cure of diseases, you could do much worse than to install the World Community Grid app on your device. You can read all about it by clicking on the link.

Facebook often provides me with inspiration for subjects to write about and today is no exception.

This is a story sent to me about a campaign by Friends of the Earth to get supermarkets to stop using the current type of plastic trays that you often see food packaged in. It seems that recycling centre sorting machinery can't recognise the shiny black surface of the container and diverts it to the landfill bin. 

There is an alternative product that has been tested by various supermarkets but they are still using the original ones which results in billions of the going to the dump every year. I'm not a huge fan of FoE for various reasons but this looks like a worthwhile campaign. Please click on the link and do your bit.

This dropped through my letterbox yesterday. I picked it up off the floor, stripped off the plastic cover, collected up all the leaflets that fell out and dumped the whole lot into the recycling bin.

I wonder how much it costs to pay for this futile exercise. How many trees have to die so that we can have this largely unloved and unused throwback to an earlier time? BT reckon that 92% of people still use the telephone directory and its Yellow Pages partner. A figure that surprises me.

Still, it could be worse I suppose. I remember a time when the phone book came in about six volumes and you needed a whole bookshelf to store them on.

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