Sunday, May 3, 2009

Caption that photo! (Or: Okay, okay... I'll stop calling it "pigfluenza.")

John from Taejŏn sent this link to the photo below, which I've decided to turn into a caption of the week contest (disclaimer: Caption-of-the-week may not occur every week). I need a caption contest in order to boost hits — the coin of the realm, not to mention of AdSense — since I've decided to stop relying on my paraphrases of Brian in Chŏllanamdo's posts as my primary source of material. 

Okay, okay, so caption contests are totally ripping off Korea Beat, but it's either that or a Girl Thursday kinda thing, which is totally ripping off the Lost Nomad's lost blog, but the Korean in me is just so effin' derivative I can't help myself. 

Anyway, I'll start: 
  1. "Formula goggles." 
  2. "Pigs are being warned against coming into close contact with humans to reduce their chances of getting swine flu."
  3. "Tastes like chicken."
  4. "Dammit, boy! I said no tongue."
Not my best work, but I really should be studying anyway. Those induced demand models for medical care don't memorize themselves, y'know. 

Anyway, I think John from Taejŏn's point in providing the above link may have been that it's an utter misnomer (oh, if only this were about Mad Cow, that would have been a hilarious pun) to call it swine flu. While this strain may be related to one found endemic to pigs in 1930, it is a tad archaic to keep calling it that. 

And while I suspect that the general public might get H1N1 flu mixed up with the other alphabet soup flu designations, I think the CDC may have a point, despite my earlier mockery. PBS, in fact, sort of convinced me:
SHAW (CDC): This particular combination of genes in the virus has never been seen anywhere in any animal or in any people before this outbreak.

Q: Then how can it be called "swine flu"? 

SHAW: That is mainly for historic reasons. Because if you look at its genes, you can trace it back to a 1930 isolant that came from a pig. When you start calling something "swine flu" in 1930, it's sort of hard to break the habit by now, which is what we're trying to do. But the fact is, this virus has only been seen in people so far.
More than that, it's keeping people from buying pork products, not just in Korea, but also in the United States, where most people do not read Brian's blog or the Korea Times, so they have no idea how baseless that is. 

The detrimental economic effects of such associations should not be taken lightly. Instituto de Turismo de España estimates that the number of visitors to the ski resorts in the Sistema Ibérico drops 0.2% every time the deadly "Spanish flu" outbreak of 1918 is mentioned in the 24-hour news cycle. And even the Canthardin Manufacturers Association complains that Spanish flu is only one vowel away from Spanish fly. (The Spanish flu probably had its origins in Kansas, possibly from pigs, so I don't feel so terrible for badmouthing the dirty swine — I mean the pigs, not the Kansans.)

And did you know that the deadly hantavirus is named for the Hantan River, a tributary of the Imjin River in the northern part of the Republic of Korea? Among this category of deadly viruses — most having no special association with Korea — is the Hantaan virus, the etiologic agent of an ailment once known as Korean hemorrhagic fever (perhaps Tokyo's revenge for Japanese encephalitis). These viruses were first isolated during the Korean War in the early 1950s and, let's face it, Korea didn't do so well economically for almost a decade and a half after that. 

I'd like to point out that, to the best of my knowledge, the entire preceding paragraph is true (except for the Japanese encephalitis part). Yeah, it sounds like something I'd make up to see if people are paying attention, but it's true. Oh, and "silk" comes from 실, shil, the Korean word for thread. It's in the unabridged Oxford Dictionary. Go look it up. I'll wait. 


  1. Glad you liked it.

    "I think it's a little undercooked."

  2. "Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood. Pigs taste..... Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad."

  3. "I think it's a little undercooked."

    "Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood. Pigs taste..... Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad."

    Good comments... I always wondered, considering how terrible most uncooked meat tastes, how prehistoric humans made the connection from watching animals walk by, to catching them, killing them, and then heating them up for a long period over a fire.

    At any rate, that kid may be building up a whole bunch of immunity to some future swine flu outbreak.


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