The smells of death

This is my 300th blog post.  In a strange undefinable way I have been eyeing this number as some sort of meaningful milestone, so I am oddly motivated to publicly mark it as such.  

It’s been a quiet weekend on the news front.  Taking advantage of the quiet I have finally set myself to reading Neustadt and Fineberg’s The Swine Flu Affair: Decision-Making on a Slippery Disease, available free in pdf.  

I also devoted some of my available free time to a review of what is, in my opinion, a seminal offering on intellectual property, Kinsella’s Against Intellectual Property, available free in pdf. Regular readers will probably recall that I am philosophically a Libertarian (big “L”, thank you). Being inspired afresh by the recent patent dust-up and it being quite some time since I read it originally I figured a “refresher” was prudent for someone given to “spouting off” on her opinion(s).

As I set about these two “tasks”, each inspired by a specific desire to gain or refresh knowledge, I was yet again struck by the vast array of information available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection. However, after an unsuccessful attempt to search out a vaguely remembered piece on the “news consumer” and how a small percentage of users account for the vast majority of “consumption” I was also reminded that a “vast array of information” can be a detriment since it’s just easier to give up the search than sift through it all.  So not every information quest has a successful outcome.

Information is a “peculiar thing”, having both a [potential] “value” if I possess it, and yet it does not diminish me in any way to share the information I possess, that is as long as I am not sharing the proprietary and confidential information of my employer that by way of their employment of me I have access, extending even to the information I compile and supply that company.

Which brings me back to one of this weekend’s central themes:

My perspectives can tend to the naive and simplistic at times.  A problem exists? Fix it.  A need exists? Satisfy it.  A danger exists?  Neutralize it.  This admitted naivete no doubt underpins both my opinion on the Indonesian viral strain sharing and the use of those shared viruses.  However naive those perspectives may be in fact, they are also deeply informed by experiences not shared by most, so most others would be “naive” in my eyes when viewed from a very specific vantage point.

I cannot help but quietly judge all those who go on about the [artificial] issues of property and intellectual rights [or not] of a virus that holds the potential to kill at least a certain number of people.  I judge them as having never actually dealt with death and dying in its “random and unfair” nature as it visits those well before their “naturally allotted life span” whether through accident, violence, or sudden-onset disease.  

We in Western nations have “sterilized” death, a result being that few experience what death is, its sights and smells, the emotional toll it exacts on those who do deal with all the “messy aspects” so that others are insulated.  Flubies are few in number, and of those few there is a subset that vocally decry Indonesia’s stance on the virus that is endemic to their country, nearly every one [but not exclusively] of that subset has dealt with those “messy aspects”.  Perhaps, just perhaps, there is a message in that.

Financial gain and/or dreams of such is offensive when death’s stench is easily recalled.  But then the olfactory and limbic systems are somewhat interconnected, so perhaps, just perhaps, there is a message there as well.

Talk to me about the artificial concepts of “owning” a virus [H5N1] that potentially threatens those I cherish, (and by way of that “owning” those who are attempting to fix a problem, fill a need, and neutralize a threat are denied access), when the smells of death cling to your nostrils.  


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One Response to The smells of death

  1. gsgs says:

    from “The Swine Flu Affair”
    page 87:
    For purposes of sharpening assumptions and distinguishing them,
    nothing beats an exercise in probability.

    I think, that’s what we need now as well to
    evaluate the possible H5N1-pandemic !