February 09, 2004


Feeling sick? Guy Rundle blames business class:

The 1918 flu followed the massive movements of people created by the First World War.

In 1970, the Boeing 747 jumbo was introduced and jet travel leapt dramatically; the first cases of European and American AIDS began to appear in the late '70s (after a few years incubation as HIV).

With the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the inauguration of a new free trade order in 1994, mobility has leapt again. The faster we move towards a borderless world in which a transnational managerial class zips around on jets, the more the world tends to the condition of being a giant Petri dish.

Damn business people, all covered with open sores and breathing big fat viruses over everybody. Look forward to Rundle’s next column, which will applaud the Howard government for protecting us from the transnational illegal immigrant class.

(Via reader Paul Kennedy)

Posted by Tim Blair at February 9, 2004 11:12 AM

The spread of AIDS throughout Africa has been, and still is, facilitated by randy, unprotected truck drivers. Are they part of the 'transnational managerial class'?

Posted by: fidens at February 9, 2004 at 11:27 AM

It's not like this is some novel idea on his part.

I mean, more native American people died from the small pox than they did the sword ... mainly due to advancements in travel technology. Yes, I suppose you could argue there was a "business" argument there as well.

And Mydoom also spreads due to advancements in transportation - namely, the quick and easy availability of e-mail and the internet even to dumbasses who open strange file attachments despite many vociferous warnings not to do so.

In any case, he's correct - the ease of travel between countries is a factor in spreading disease. The question - as it always is to this type of commentator - what do we DO about it?

Posted by: Steve in Houston at February 9, 2004 at 11:53 AM

"transnational managerial class"
Oi, workers of the world, blamed the flu on the bloody boss.

Posted by: slatts at February 9, 2004 at 12:43 PM

Yeah, we can blame the lung cancer epidemic on Christopher Columbus travelling to America and bringing back tobacco.

Posted by: Freddyboy at February 9, 2004 at 12:45 PM

Yeah. We're all fat because of Drake and the potatoes and the guy who brought back the pasta from wherever he brought it back from, China or something.

Like, leave stuff where you found it, OK?

Posted by: ilibcc at February 9, 2004 at 01:37 PM

In the Cambridge and Boston (Massachusetts - USA) area we have tons of colleges .. Harvard and MIT to name just a couple. Every year we get invaded by students from all over the world. (Stay away from this area in September until the students learn their way around, about October.)

I bet these students, by their sheer numbers and diversity, bring more viruses to this area than all the business people combined. So far we have survived. We survived SARS, so far, even though there is a very high % of students from countries like China. People who live in the area are aware of this and as far as I could tell there wasn't a panic by the natives.

One approach the colleges took when SARS was pretty hot was to encourage students to remain in the US for break, etc. They also offered testing for students who thought they may have been exposed. Since there has been no epidemic here, I assume the practices put in place by the colleges worked. Haven't the faintest idea how many students took advantage of the colleges' offers. It was never a law or requirement, all voluntary.

If there is a virus threatening the world's population and spreading like wildfire, we could return to the days when you had to show medical certificates before entry. I remember, in the early 70's I had to do this to travel. Had to provide proof of certain vacinations I had before departure and upon returning.

I don't think we need to panic and think we're about to enter the 'Black Death' years worldwide.
Just institute some health policies for travel, if necessary. So far it doesn't appear necessry.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at February 9, 2004 at 02:04 PM

To get into college in Florida you have to either have a measles shot or prove that you have had it. Apparently there was an epidemic, or threat thereof, of measles brought by foreign students at one point. I had a measles shot when I was in high school, but since that was (mumble) years ago I had no way of proving it, so I had to get the shot when I went back to university a couple of years ago.

Anyway, I am surprised that the fact that viruses are passed on by people travelling from other countrues is a shocking revelation to this person. I guess he really didn't know?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 9, 2004 at 02:08 PM

Hm -- I made myself look like a foreign student. I'm not, but apparently measles became a problem here when foreigners from I don't know where brought it back - mostly because many people have stopped vaccinating their children in America because they are under the mistaken impression that a) all childhood diseases have been "conquered" by modern medicine, and b) vaccinations are more dangerous than the diseases. So there was this not-very-astonishing upswing in kids with measles, whooping cough, and diphtheria. I don't think polio has made a resurgence yet but I'm waiting.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 9, 2004 at 02:12 PM

In 1970, the Boeing 747 jumbo was introduced, increasing atmospheric pollution and worldwide life expectancies leapt dramatically, except for those who practiced risky lifestyles.

Posted by: perfectsense at February 9, 2004 at 02:39 PM

Measles *is* one of the few mini-epidemics we've had here with the students. Seems to have swept
certain campuses at various times.

What the colleges here have done is to quarantine dorms, require vacinations and check ups until the mini-epidemic is gone. Doesn't seem to last very long. Makes the papers here if a lot of the kids have to stay in their dorm rooms.

It's possible the colleges may now require proof of a measles vacination before they can enter. Haven't heard of a measles outbreak in a while and we were getting them every few years.

The measles mini-epidemics never seemed to impact the population much beyond whetever school it broke out in. Which is very surprising since the colleges are so close to each other and they are constantly having 'mixers' (people from different colleges get together for a party).

Posted by: Chris Josephson at February 9, 2004 at 03:45 PM

It isn't the business class. It's the help.
"patient X" was linked with almost half of the early cases of HIV in san francisco...either by direct contact or by secondary links. He was a flight attendent who used to hit on boys in Haiti.
Haiti may have been linked because french speaking educated people were recruited to work in some African countries, and brought it back.
Indeed, the only reason that Cuba was not decimated by HIV spread from their soldiers who fought in Angola is that they put all HIV positive people in concentration camps...
What, you didn't know Castro, the icon of Hollywood had soldiers in Africa? What you didn't know Castro, the icon of the left, put HIV positive people in concentration camps? Didn't get much publicity, did it?

Posted by: tioeodong at February 9, 2004 at 10:35 PM

Hey! I have a great, lefty-style idea. Why don't we just outlaw viruses? We just pass a law saying viruses aren't allowed, no one can carry or possess them, etc. That should fix it. It certainly worked with guns, drugs, illegal immigration, etc.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at February 9, 2004 at 11:56 PM

Boeing lied, people flied!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 10, 2004 at 12:17 AM

Don't be a dumbass, Pixy. Everyone knows the past tense of "fly" is "flewed".

Posted by: Steve in Houston at February 10, 2004 at 01:54 AM

Silly tioeodong, those aren't concentration camps, those are luxury health care establishments where gay Cubans and other AIDs sufferers can be cared for in an atmosphere of more caring and acceptance of the unique and wonderful beings that they are, on the most caring, healthy, literate nation on earth than they could ever find here in the cold, inhuman, cannibalistic Capitalist Hegemonical United States, where all the highways are lined with the crucified corpses of gay people, artists, and other Brave Dissidents against the Bush Horror.

*click* Turns off sarcasm. Whew! That hurt my brain. I don't know how the leftists do it; maybe all the drugs they took in their baby boomer youth somehow enabled them to spout a greater volume of stupidity than even I am capable of.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at February 10, 2004 at 11:29 AM