Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Howzzat again?

A couple of days ago I heard Neko Case on National Pubic Radio recalling that as a child, she heard the Rascals Hit "Groovin'" as "That would be ecstasy, You and me and Leslie, Groovin .. . " She thought that was great that they could hang out with Leslie. Actually I heard it the same way, but I thought, "Who the fuck is Leslie?" Is it a menage a trois? Do they have a kid? A dog?

Actually it's not "and Leslie," it's "endlessly," but the singer (that would be Eddie Brigati) for some reason put the accent on the wrong sillobble. It's weird because endlessly scans just fine with ecstasy. If you look for the song lyrics using your favorite search engine (and no, Kleenex isn't the only brand of tissue either) you will find that even some official-looking versions drag Leslie into the picture.

I've come across a lot of similar mis-hears in my young life. Somebody, can't remember who, said they heard Jimi in Purple Haze sing "Excuse me, while I kiss this guy." That would be interesting news about Jimi, but the fact is he never hid anything. It's kiss the sky.

I was on a shuttle bus between a low-rice Marriot in an industrial park and a conference venue in Manchester, CT when a fellow sufferer told me that she heard John C. Fogarty singing "There's a bathroom on the right." Apparently John was in a hotel and needed to relieve himself, but in fact there was a bad moon on the rise.

My mother heard the old hymn "Gladly the cross I'd bear" as "Gladly, the cross-eyed bear." Funny name for a bear.

Anyhow, you may have a few of your own but I should go on to more serious matters. As you have likely heard, CDC thinks it's possible there could be 1.4 million cumulative Ebola virus cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of January. This is based on the assumption of no increase in the current level of intervention, and doubling every 20 days. So will this be the Big One, that plunges the planet into a new Black Death?

As I and most knowledgeable commenters have said, no. The catastrophe is happening because these two countries are among the poorest in the world and they lack adequate health care and public health infrastructure. Liberia has 1 physician for every 100,000 people. There aren't enough hospital beds for infected people so most of them just end up remaining in the community where they can infect others. The disaster multiplies because health care is unavailable for people with other endemic diseases such as malaria, while those few health care workers there are, lacking adequate personal protection, flee the field. Even the relatively poor countries of Nigeria and Senegal have so far successfully contained the outbreak because their infrastructure is just good enough. 

But, smug and safe as you may feel in your First World citadel, you should not. Ebola happens to be transmissible only in ways that make it controllable where resources are adequate, but the next emerging infectious disease might not be. It's likely to start in a poor country where initial containment fails, and then yes, given that people can be in Freetown in the morning and eating lunch in London the same day . . .

So, while it's easy to raise the money to bomb stuff, it's apparently impossible to raise the money to build an adequate public health infrastructure in poor countries. Maybe someone can explain that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, mondegreens. They are so wonderfully funny.
Here's what wikipedia says about it:

Interesting thing about Ebola, how we can be hysterical about something that will unlikely have any impact here in our first world country, but things that require our attention like climate change-- meh. We humans are a strange beast.