Wine From Outer Space

Wine From Outer Space is intoxicating, unearthly and surprising. It's also where I write about whatever I choose, and that's nice.

30 April 2009

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night

Survival in the modern age has become a perilous and exhausting affair. We escaped nuclear apocalypse at the hands of the dastardly Soviets (depicted in The Day After). We avoided invasion at the hands of the dastardly Soviets, and the devious Cubans (depicted in Red Dawn).

A supercomputer did not turn our own nukes against us (WarGames), our palnetary orbit did not collide with a comet or asteroid (Deep Impact, Armageddon), and so far, the seas have not drowned us like so many finely attired rats (The Day After Tomorrow).

There is another doomsday scenario, however, whose Hollywood foretelling has not yet met with a confident trouncing: The Andromeda Strain. 28 Days Later. Outbreak.

H1N1, the virus formerly known as Swine Flu, is this year's bugbear deluxe. Admittedly, the economy has held that position since September 2008. But we live in an era of change, and so nearly five months into 2009, here we are, looking to stock up on face masks and bottles of hand sanitizer.

CNN's Anderson Cooper, with whom we have become so accustomed to tramping around jungles and along dusty alleys of war zones, is now confined inside a studio, soberly discussing basic sanitary habits with representatives of the NIH and CDC. Now, we know, this is serious. "Don't use your hand to cover your mouth when you cough--cough into the crook of your elbow." I hoped to live to at least see 40.

President Obama took time out of his recent press conference to review a few grade-school aspects of proper hygeine (in case you missed Anderson Cooper): wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough (though he didn't specify the precise method), stay home if you're sick.

Vice president Biden destroyed the already fragile economy and sent hapless citizens leaping out of windows and diving in front of subways when he gravely warned the American populace that he would not willingly go into any confined area. Planes and, yes, even Joe's beloved trains, were now off-limits while the SuperBug of the millenium had its way with these defenseless, soft organisms--otherwise known as human life.

We are a resilient people, and we have accomplished much. We obtained our hard-won freedom from the British (thank you France). We reconstructed the fractured and blood-soaked pieces of a shattered union after the Civil War. We got around to letting black people vote, and eventually let them marry non-black people. We survived as a nation without sit-coms for probably 100 years or more.

There is hope. Previous global deaths have been averted, and it's possible, just possible, we may yet carry on as a species. The threat of a collapsed civilization grown too dependent upon computers wsa overturned on January 1, 2000 (and again on January 1, 2001, depending on how you interpreted the calendrics). Nature turned against its rightful master--man--with an alarming rise in KILLER BEE attacks, but we persevered, and now the cowardly bees are loathe to show their ridiculous little faces (/flex). Geopolitical instability still exists, but the lurking shadows of terrorists around every corner and under every bed have diminished over time. H5N1, the avian flu to end all flus from a few years ago, passed without eradicating half the planet's population. So far. . .

Ours is a culture that seems to require a certain amount of fear and terror, both imposed upon us and imposed outward on citizens of other nations. Fear is tied deeply to our national character. It started with fear of bears, Indians and witches. Haha, we were so primitive and naieve then. Our fear curve surpassed those passe elements, and moved on to encompass Soviets, communists, bees, germs, computers and space debris.

What's next is anybody's guess, but for every fear, terror and bump in the proverbial night, there will be a host of quick-fix consumer products to provide us with relief and embolden our nerve. Guns are still probably the most popular, and a well-stocked pantry of batteries, canned food and bottled water is nothing to sneeze at (into the crook of your arm, of course).

We are strong. Our mettle is true and our spines are hardy. And there are 1,330 shopping days left until December 21, 2012.


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