In 2004, like every other in America's modern history, cardiovascular disease was again the number 1 killer of men in the US. Every year except one - 1918. What happened in 1918? The Red Sox won the world series. Also, the Spanish flu swept across the world, killing millions.


All I can say is that the rising concern with Avian flu began last year as well. And it continues to grow early this year. This article has some scary info:

Across the country, federal, state, and local officials...are trying to figure out how the United States would cope with a killer flu, one that would be very different from the usual influenza that strikes each winter. A global epidemic, or pandemic, would be caused by a new, lethal flu virus, one to which people would have no immunity. The new flu would spread around the world within weeks and could infect one third of all people, killing 1 to 5 percent of them. That's what happened in 1918, when the Spanish flu killed 25 million in six months; some historians place the total killed at 100 million. Since then, two other far less lethal flu pandemics, in 1957 and 1968, have swept the globe...

Flu viruses are notoriously good at mutating into new strains, and sooner or later one will morph into a mass killer. No one can say when that will happen; scientists say it could be this year, or 20 years from now. But in recent months normally sanguine health officials have been making increasingly dire predictions of a nightmarish 1918-style assault, one that could kill up to 2.2 million people in the United States. "We at WHO believe that the world is now in the gravest possible danger of a pandemic," says Shigeru Omi, Western Pacific regional leader for the World Health Organization. Those words echo Julie Gerberding, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who called the current situation "a very high threat."

The doctors are spooked by the continuing outbreaks of a new strain of avian influenza that has sickened at least 69 people and killed 46 in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia in the past 16 months. One more death, of a 26-year-old man in Cambodia, was reported last week, and Vietnamese authorities are investigating a village where a 5-year-old fell ill with the disease in mid-March, shortly after his 13-year-old sister died. This new virus, called H5N1, is from the same family as the killer 1918 strain. Flu typically kills the old and weak, but with the new flu, most of the victims have been healthy young people. The 1918 flu killed the young and healthy, too.

The doctors are alarmed not because of the number of people that "bird flu" has killed but because the H5N1 virus displays an ominous adaptability and persistence. About 70 percent of those infected so far have died. Since 1997, when the new virus first showed up in chickens and killed six people in Hong Kong, it has spread to birds in eight countries in the region despite repeated efforts to halt it by slaughtering millions of chickens.

Freakin chickens. Who would have thought? If you had to guess which animal would try to wipe us out, you'd go with something truly evil looking, most likely squirrels. The hatred between squirrels and humans is secret to no one. But chickens? Even after that claymation movie, I was still pretty skeptical as to their cognitive abilities. But science is clearly telling us that chickens are on track to beat squirrels to the punch. Who knew?

Now then, some would blindly contend that the confluence of a Red Sox victory and impending human death on a massive scale are unrelated. But then, they never read THIS article in the New Yorker last fall. When I first read it, I never put the two together, but today, in considering the dastardly plot of these chickens, it all hit me at once. The irony is simply overwhelming: the article, seeking to demonstrate mathematically that Murphy's Law is a measurable phenomena, used as its example BOTH chickens AND the Red Sox. If only they knew then what we know now.

Using the formula those crazy Brits came up with, I concluded the following:

On a scale of 1 to 9:

Urgency (of impending human catastrophe): 9
Complexity (Red Sox, Chickens, pandemic death, what more do you need?): 9
Importance (uhh, hello???): 9
Skill (its a virus, I grant it no honor of "skill"): 1
Frequency (every 86 years, across several thousand years of human existence): 9

Aggravation equals 0.7 (though I would imagine it should be more for our purposes)

The likelihood, then, of Murphy’s Law obtaining under those circumstances, on a scale of 0 to 8.6, would be:

[((9+ 9 + 9) x (10 - 1)) / 20] x 9 x 1 / (1 - sin (9 / 10))

which is, [((27) x (9)) / 20] x 9 x [1 / (1 - .01571)

which is, (109.35) / [1 / (.98429)]

which equals roughly 107.63219024371

107. On a scale of 1 to 9, our chance of getting wiped out by the chickens (and, by necessary association, the freakin sox), is 107.

In other words, we are TOAST.

1 comment:

witw said...

107 out of 8.6? Enginerd alert - I saw an equation! Where did the 0.7 for aggravation go? I don't see it anywhere in the formula? Looks like it got replaced with a 9?

Plus I did a little internet research, and turned up this similar equation:
(((U+C+I) * (1-S))/2) * A * (1/(1-SinF))
which gives more reasonable results.

from the comments on http://www.livingroom.org.au/blog/archives/murphys_law_calculator.php

which, using the same numbers, gives a result of 0.86 or an 86% chance of chickens being the cause of our demise. Still alarming, yet mathematically more satisfying.