Swine flu – it’s OK to be a little afraid

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:58 am

I can’t believe people are still saying ‘media hype’ and ‘more people die from normal flu’. Here are a few sobering calculations. In America (the numbers I have available), 50 million people get the normal flu each year. The normal flu has a fatality rate of only 0.08%, which means 36,000 people die from it each year. That number obviously dwarfs the number that have died so far from this new swine flu.

It’s very early days, and I suspect this figure is low if anything, but it looks as though the fatality rate from the new flu is about 2.6%. That means that if the same 50 million people in the US caught this flu, 1.3 million people would die. Scale it up to the world population and it would be 26 million. I hope and pray that won’t happen, but the WHO has lifted the pandemic alert level to 5 of a possible 6 this morning. This is more than just media hype.

Dismissing ‘bird flu’ because ‘it’s only killed 500 people’, as I saw someone do, is equally ignorant. Bird flu so far has remained in bird populations, so only people in close contact with birds have got it and died from it. Same as swine flu, until very recently. But the mutation of swine flu has meant that it is now passing human-to-human… and look at how rapidly it’s spreading around the world. The bird flu pandemic has not happened yet, and won’t until the bird flu virus H5N1 mutates into a human-to-human transmissible form. Pray it never does.


Review: The Boat That Rocked

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:58 pm

I wanted to go to a movie this evening. The rest of the family couldn’t join me due to music lessons, and they want to see Inkheart and Fast & Furious, and everything else was not on until much later. The reviews for ‘The Boat That Rocked’ had been pretty bad, but I thought to myself ‘How bad could it be?’

Let me put it this way. Maybe if you were in your late teens or 20s in the 1960s, and you did a lot of drugs at the time and fried your brain… and that you went along with a number of similarly-minded friends, and had a spliff half the size of the cinema on the way, and it caught you in the right mood…

Nah, it would still be abyssmal, unmitigated, irredeemable shite.


Dara O’Briain has the news

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:07 pm

It’s pretty sweary, so be aware, but it’s exactly the rant I want to rant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbY7GODI5Dw&feature=related


Rethinking Twitter

Filed under: — Bravus @ 2:48 pm

I’ve avoided becoming a twit. I already spend way too much time on the computer, and I know that, like World of Warcraft, Twitter would be absolute crack for me and would likely crash and burn my life.

I plan to sustain that stance for myself: just the same as alcohol is OK for me but not for an alcoholic, Twitter is OK for others but not me. I don’t hate it, I don’t say bad things about it, I just avoid it.

I did like this essay about it though.


Plausible deniability

Filed under: — Bravus @ 4:27 pm

…is something I no longer have. At least when it comes to being middle-aged. I can shave to disguise the fact that the original small patch of white in my beard has expanded alarmingly, and my short-cropped hair helps disguise the new white hairs appearing at my temples.

But I turned 45 today. I’m pretty much exactly at the midpoint of my working career: I started teaching at Lilydale in 1989 aged 25 and am scheduled to stop in 2029, who knows where, when I hit 65. (Though I suspect that won’t happen quite that way.)

Average male life expectancy for Australian males is about 80, which would put me more than halfway through my race, but it has also risen by 6 years in the past 20, and the rate of increase is increasing. Barring accidents (says the motorcyclist) 90 is certainly not out of the question. In fact, expectancy would be expected to be 86 in 20 years, when I get to 65, 92 by the time I get to 85 and I guess 95 by the time I get to 95. 😉 And those estimates don’t take into account the increasing rate… 100 looks pretty doable.

Ah well, go about what you were doing, then – I guess I have another 30 months to 5 years before I have to admit to being middle-aged!


Life, Love, Joy and Music

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:35 pm

A sestina

All through these weary
Or in other seasons joyful
Days and years of life
Winds a strange and quiet music
Made of tears and time
Fear and always, always love

The various joys of human love
Something of which we seldom weary
Across this unforgotten time
Lie memories both bright and joyful
Of dawning rooms filled with music
Epiphanies of newly-rising life

But sometimes there is pain in life
Some years an unrequited love
Too saccharine the music
Sometimes enough to weary
Too busy to be joyful
So many tasks so little time

To each I say, improve the time
Gulp, drink down your life
Find times and ways, be joyful
And always, always live for love
Search on even when you’re weary
For that strange distant music

For meaning in the end is only music
Affection the chief end of time
The thing of which we never weary
The point of this too-fleeting life
Is just to give and have love
And linger sated and joyful

It’s us who will be joyful
The devotees of music
Of beauty and of love
And in our fleeting time
Embrace all life
Refuse to weary

So weary one, be joyful
Live life in all its music
And know there’s always time for love