Thursday, October 20, 2005

Living in Fear Update

For the past several years now, New York conversations have often veered towards considerations of apocalyptic scenarios. Even before September 11, New Yorkers were a pessimistic breed. Then came the anthrax and the blackout and the London subway bombings, so now we’re essentially a city of eight million paranoid freaks. We’re all like the man muttering to himself about the FBI on the 6 train at three in the morning, we’re just better at hiding it.

Yesterday I had separate conversations, with friends Nick and Jon, about how many different things could happen that would send me immediately scurrying from NYC. Another major attack of a landmark might not do it, at least not for reasons of physical fear, but I mentioned that a subway bombing might do the trick, which led to this uniquely New York exchange:

Nick: Just one (subway bomb)?
Me: Probably.
Nick: What if it wasn’t on your line?
Me: I’m not sure that would make a difference. It might.

While we all remain wary of potential human enemies, though, it’s those pesky birds we need to look out for. I say that freedom must yield to caution during dangerous times, so I’m demanding that every third bird be searched before getting on mass transit systems. I know this will make me unpopular, but I’ll stand by it.

Last night, I pointed out to Jon that the 1918 influenza epidemic killed 14 billion people worldwide (I was exaggerating to get his attention), but he reassured me that any mega-killer flu, like the everyday variety, would mostly affect the old and infirm. But I read on the web today (and like most, I believe everything I read on the web) that: "The (1918) flu was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. This pattern of morbidity was unusual for influenza which is usually a killer of the elderly and young children." Hmm. Never have I so wished to be elderly.

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Anonymous jason said...

you're not exaggerating at all. this play i saw last night about the 1918 flu said 21 million died. and the times recently said it killed from 20-100 million, which seems like an awful big range to me. but only 700,000 from the States, which makes me feel a lot better.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

We are all f***ed. My Post-Apocalyptic fantasies are all going to be a reality. Survival of the fittest, Mad Max on the highways. "Protect the guzoline!"

10:20 AM  
Anonymous pattyoo said...

What does it mean that in a blog the stated purpose of which is to fend off mortality we find such grave musings? One dark view (mine?) might be that you find death irresistible on some level. I offer you, Jim, the immortal (ha) words of BOC: Don't fear the reaper.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living in fear sounds rather boring.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it makes perfect sense that a blog claiming to fend off mortality would contain such sentiments. Death makes you skittish, eh? Well, if we ask for you tomorrow will we find you such a grave man?

1:37 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

Hmm. Um, please don't ask for me tomorrow, Anonymous. You sound creepy. The NY fear update was meant to be at least a bit tongue-in-cheek. Living in fear is indeed boring, as are many other forms of living. As for the blog's claim to fend off mortality, I'm not that dumb -- I take vitamins and sleep in a hyperbaric chamber to take care of that. (Always thinking.)

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, what can one say. This whole being anonymous business is awfully enervating and, well, it's made me a bit of a crank. Wait -- does that mean I'm crazy or tired? It doesn't matter. What does matter is birds' rights. You ought to be more sensitive to those than anyone here, rtp.

2:46 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

A-ha, I think I see what this anonymous business is all about now. OK, anon., I'll see you tomorrow. We can discuss mortality and other fun subjects then.

2:51 PM  

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