The Acholi People

Acholi-Children-1024x768In the forests of Northern Uganda the Acholi people who live there were struck by an outbreak of disease which had no apparent explanation, so they assumed that it must be a gemo – or evil spirit borne disease – which had hit some members of their village. They were also certain who it was that had summoned the gemo, one of the brothers of  villager who had moved on to another area as he got promoted and wealthier, leaving his less fortunate kin behind. He had failed to share in his gain, and was not humble, thus unleashing the gemo. So certain was his family and his old village, that they sent a group of men to kill him in his new home, which would, of course, stop the disease.

They failed, but in the meantime another group of men had come under suspicion of having summoned the gemo and all four of those men were killed with machetes as they worked their fields.

Later, as too many people and apes fell sick, the villagers realized that that it could not be magic or evil spirits. In the words of one of them, “Sorcery does not effect animals.” They realized that his was something else, requiring long ago learned methods and efforts.

Isn’t it odd that today, instead of attacking the disease, instead of directing our efforts to solutions and proper care for the sick, we too look for the gemo that is causing all of this? The politicization of the Ebola crises is eerily similar to the way the villagers tried to blame other people for summoning spirits, just a 21st Century twist since nobody here will accept the idea that ethereal sprite summoned by the fortune of others is the cause of all this brouhaha (or will they?).

The Acholi many years ago figured out that when the occasional outbreak of the strange illness sweeps through their lands, they have to take actions. Even though the gemo might be the cause, their reactions can help to solve the outbreak. They immediately quarantine the victims into their own huts, they only allow people who have survived the disease to treat them. They stop eating meat and they stop having sex. Lastly, the suspend one of their most beautiful and touching customs – they stop the “love touch” at funerals. This is a moment when each mourner says a personal goodbye and kisses the deceased. They’ve been doing this for decades, and they are still round after a number of outbreaks. We could still learn a thing or two, even from people who think that the Ebola outbreak is caused by evil spirits.

Source material – EBOLA: The Natural and Human History by David Quammen (2014)

I am aware that the Torah has prohibitions against this sort of thing, but I guess that the Koran does not?

The State Government continues to tell us that “things are getting better,” but yesterday came the announcement that 200 JOBS WILL BE LOST IN SALIDA as American Medical Response outsources billing jobs to Maryland.

Giants and Royals for the World Series. Finally a World Series that will be worth watching…

Don’t forget that 1pm today is the deadline for the Kim Jong FUn Caption this photo contest. The most likes – if approved by Kim Jong Dave – wins the delicious basket o’ Fiscalini cheese from our dear sponsor, Fiscalini Cheese.

Gorillas and Bats

It turns out that the couple who owned the four Pit Bull dogs who have killed one person already (my sources tell me that the woman is “probably” not going to make it either) are unlikely to be charged with any crime. The dogs are reported to have “broken through the fence,” and while that is bad, it doesn’t show negligence on behalf of the dog owners, which would be necessary to criminally charge them. Now, there was an ongoing dispute between the neighbors (the victims and the dog owners) over the presence of the dogs, but as of right now it is unclear if that dispute had involved Animal Control or the Sheriffs Department. It is unclear if the owners “knew” that their dogs represented any actual danger, or if they had conducted any specialized training to enhance their aggressiveness. The investigation continues.

The other side of this coin is that there is, within certain gang and prison cultures, a special affinity for the Pit Bull. Like the Oakland Raiders jacket of a few years back or the neck tattoo, the Pit Bull has become some form of “Gang clothing” and is especially favored by that group of people. Since many of them have served time, there is even a REALITY TV SHOW CALLED PAROLEES AND PIT BULLS. We are going to officially learn that the owners of these four dogs appear to belong to that culture, or at the very least, wanted to appear as if they belong to that culture. 

Western lowland gorilla, FranceTurning to the “Topic A” of the Century, the Ebola, we have now reached the point where every idiot in the country knows that he can get attention and brings everything to a stop by yelling that he has the Ebola on a plane or bus (coming soon to trains!) and not face any actual accountability from the disruption he or she causes. News and information is greeted with derision and mockery, as people with no medical training, no willingness to do even cursory research, and a political axe to grind shout as loudly as they can that the Ebola is coming! The Ebola is coming!

Ask yourself a simple question and answer it honestly: replace the current administration with Romney, keep all actions the same (since there is no evidence they would be any different), and ask yourself what your reaction would be. Is your frustration with a deadly but extremely rare and difficult to catch disease or the politics?

Ebola is mysterious and creepy and scary, but not “unknown” to science. There are A LOT of unanswered questions, such as the reservoir host for the virus. But there ARE a great deal of KNOWN FACTS about the disease. For example, there are (as of today) five known species of the Ebola Virus, not one of which was involved in “The Hot Zone” incident in Virginia which is what many people are pointing to as evidence that the Ebola could be airborne. In fact, that incident involved a virus which comes not from Africa, but the Philippines, is known to attack chimpanzees and has never sickened a single human being. The biggest problem with solving the disease is that it burns itself out too quickly. Outbreaks come and go and until now haven’t lasted long enough to get the proper and necessary scientific investigatory tools in place. If there is a “good” side to this tragedy in Africa, it’s that for the first time, medical professionals might have a chance to really dig into the causes and hosts of the disease, simply because they have more time. This massive outbreak was inevitable, but ultimately may prove to be the viruses worst enemy.

strawcoloredfruitbat-660x438Some scientists believe that BATS MAY BE THE RESERVOIR HOST, which they know is a mammal, because of the bats high body temps and special DNA factors that allow it to defend itself against viral infection better than other mammals.

Over the course over nearly forty years, multiple outbreaks of occurred, with mortality rates ranging between 50% and 80% and always beginning near the edge of or actually in the primeval forests of Central Africa. The disease has especially ripped through the indigenous gorilla populations in Western Africa, in some cases wiping out entire areas. Nobody knows if any gorillas affected survived or they simply died out.

As for the disease making it out of Africa, that happened for the first time not in 2014, as so many would have you believe, but in 1996 when a nurse was taken to Switzerland with what was believed to be malaria. She had conducted a necropsy on a dead chimp wearing only rubber gloves, no gown, no mask, no eye protection. She had been working in Ivory Coast, and is the first known case of the disease in its 3rd species, now named Taï Forest Ebola. She survived, although she lost 13 pounds and all of her hair.

At the end of the day, there is science and there is opinion. Ebola is a dangerous and scary. There is no credible medical evidence that it is transmitted other than by exchange of fluids, and there in every case of mysterious transmission, it has been found that some safety rule was ignored or violated resulting in contact with those fluids. It was irresponsible to allow the 2nd Texas nurse to fly. Either somebody authorized it or she decided to go, but simple safety logic dictates that EVERY staff member who treated Mr. Duncan should have been in a 21 day quarantine. Fingers will be pointed by both sides and accusations will fly, but the truth is we may never know how she was permitted to fly. The biggest lesson is that it not be allowed to happen again, simply because even if there is no actual danger, the mass hysteria caused by the fact is worse. Mob mentality fueled by a well-earned distrust of government is dangerously close to overwhelming our common sense.

It is up to us to divine fact from opinion. We are the jury. We can accept scientific fact and research, or WE CAN GIVE IN TO POLITICALLY DRIVEN HYSTERIA.

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