Mosquitoes and Viruses — Catch-22 (Humor)

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on July 21, 2008 0 Comments


"The blame for our authority crisis can be laid squarely on Walt Disney's doorstep."

Recently the town of Fairfax, California has been on the horns of a dilemma. Should they allow spraying to control mosquito breeding now that the West Nile virus has taken up residence in Marin County?  The logic proposition here is not crystal clear. A group of someones in Fairfax believes the health risk of possible exposure to toxic ingredients in bug spray is greater than the risk associated with a mosquito bite. A different group of someones at the city government level believes the opposite. And there are twelve people in Marin County — who have not yet become a group — who think the West Nile virus is an alQeda plot hatched in Egypt.
    
A virus is a tiny organism, and when I say tiny I don't mean like a woman who wears a size two dress. A virus is so small it doesn't even have a nose, which is why you so often find them in yours — a textbook example of nose envy. If everyone in China were a virus, you could fit the whole country inside a fortune cookie and still have room for the fortune.
    
People often confuse viruses with another group of tiny organisms called bacteria, but don't use those words when a virus is in the room. They're upset a bacterium gets the fancy Latin plural, bacteria, while a powerful virus gets the ordinary plural, viruses. Short people are super sensitive.
    
There's one big difference between the two; you can kill bacteria. Antibiotics, antiseptics, heat and, according to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, even Windex will get rid of the little buggers. The only way to kill viruses is to kill the organism they live in which, during cold and flu season, would be you.
    
As a species we adhere to Spock's Doctrine (the Vulcan not the pediatrician): the good of the many outweighs the good of the few; so we generally choose to coexist with viruses. This works fine with the cold virus, but if the virus is a nasty one, we're caught in a Catch-22. If I don't kill the virus, it'll kill me, but to kill the virus, I have to kill me, which is no way to run a railroad.
    
Science came to the rescue in the form of a Frenchman who had a thing for small life forms. Louis Pasteur invented vaccines. The first step in making a vaccine is to catch a virus outside the human body. You do this by going into a hospital with one of those sticky, spiral fly-catching strips to which you attach a label that reads "Free Nose Jobs Here." The trapped viruses are then killed and put back inside humans causing the creation of antibodies — also little tiny organisms but with nicer personalities. Vaccination is like posting little photographs of viruses everywhere inside your body with the slogan "KILL THIS INVADER." Sounds like a science fiction movie, which it is because antibodies can't read. Let's call it a metaphor of convenience and trust me that it works.
     
I THINK this whole mosquito spraying brouhaha is really an issue of home rule. Libertarians feel the federal government shouldn't tell individual states what to do; counties feel the state is stealing their funds — like real estate taxes — and should let counties spend their own money on local needs; families in towns like Fairfax feel the city government is rolling the dice with their health, and children know their parents are making up rules without a clue about what's cool.
  
What we have here is an authority crisis, which doesn't stem from pinko-commie liberals or their military-industrial complex cousins and doesn't result from excessive permissiveness, violence, nudity, or bad jokes on The Comedy Channel. The blame for our authority crisis can be laid squarely on Walt Disney's doorstep.
    
We all lost our ability to trust those bigger than ourselves the moment we realized nothing can keep a hunter from killing Bambi's mother or stop Cruella deVille from stealing 101 Dalmatian puppies for a new coat. The final nail in the authority crisis coffin is when we learn we have to stand in line ninety minutes for a 90 second ride at Disneyland and the only person we can complain to is a six-foot mouse with round ears.
     
I suggest we mate mosquitoes with lightning bugs — maybe go for a flashing fuchsia effect — so we can avoid them because, if we kill too many, they'll become the endangered species instead of us, and then we'll be up to our Calvin Kleins in Feds.

They are the guys who licensed the hunter who shot Mrs. Bambi.
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