Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: There is History

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  • Paul Williams,

    Oh thanks for those reminders Carol, you got any footage of the under-arm ball :-)'

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Chabal is cool.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    The Guardian's Simon Jenkins has a slightly different take on all this panic.

    A couple from Airdrie who caught the flu on holiday in Cancun are getting better. That tends to happen to people who get flu, however much it may disappoint editors.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    There is officially nothing that irritates me more than the idea that this is a media beat up. It isn't. The WHO for one is not in the business of spreading panic in order to help newspaper sales.

    Bloody hell.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    That tends to happen to people who get flu, however much it may disappoint editors.

    Well put. It reminds me of Editing The Herald, where it was suggested that one story could have had the headline "Boy coughs. Gets better".

    There is officially nothing that irritates me more than the idea that this is a media beat up. It isn't. The WHO for one is not in the business of spreading panic in order to help newspaper sales.

    True, and I think that Poneke's take on this is ridiculous to the point of being dangerous. People are getting sick and people are dying, and even if we only know for sure of 9 lab-confirmed deaths, a new virus which can be transimtted between humans is cause for serious concern. On the other hand, this has been the catalyst for some eye-wateringly contentless blather in the media.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    What I followed in NZ (bearing in mind I wouldn't be caught dead watching the news on TV) has been pretty good, actually, in the circumstances. But I think the Goldacre article quoted upthread has it exactly right - you always get vaudeville in the media, even for entirely genuine stories.

    The US coverage looks fairly insane, judging it from the Daily Show excerpts. But then they have 24 hour news - the kind of environment where journalist felt they had to sex up even the election of the first African American president through fake holograms.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    It's not a complete media beat up but there's still a noticeable element of that. Compare stuff.co.nz with newscientist.com & the difference is marked.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Not right now, for instance.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    My octogenarian, fruitarian, uncle, makes his pocket money out of this sort of thing. Having spent his working live as a pharmacist, he now invests in pharmaceutical development companies. Incidentally he isn't a fruitarian because its trendy. He just doesn't like eating hardly anything, never has.

    More on topic, my local pharmacist was telling me, that despite what is being reported, Tamiflu is not going to be sold over the counter tomorrow. So maybe don't try create your own privet stockpile. You might be disappointed. It is still a prescription medicine, but after tomorrow, pharmacists are permitted to prescribe it, if, and only if there is good reason to suspect you are coming down with american flu (for want of a better name).

    But the alternative to Tamiflu is Roch's competitor glaxosmithkline's Relenza.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4341 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I believe I have found the ultimate swine flu site.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Giovanni:

    The WHO for one is not in the business of spreading panic in order to help newspaper sales.

    Probably not, but the tin-foil hatters out there will probably suspect it's a false flag concocted by Viadoxin.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5426 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4341 posts Report Reply

  • Hayden Wilson,

    I dunno if that was Sebastien Chabal, but if anyone's playing for Team Evil it's him.

    Clearly he is. My nine year old, everytime he sees a picture of Chabal chants (in perfect pitch)... Captain Caaaveman!

    And I swear he has never seen the damn show. Clearly it is yet another example of franco-belezebub/jedi mind tricks...

    ...and yes.. I thought the teen angels were hot...

    *gets coat*

    Since Nov 2006 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    True, and I think that Poneke's take on this is ridiculous to the point of being dangerous.

    I really value Poneke's presenece, but his take on scepticism is often all attitude and not much reason.

    Like, don't get him started on Y2K.

    Having actually been an IT reporter through the period in which legacy two-digit date fields were identified as a problem, then largely rectified, I'm quite clear on the fact that there were potentially dangerous problems, especially with the heavily-accreted, bespoke software used to manage utilities.

    We'd already seen date-related failures manifest in New Zealand ATM machines after midnight Dec 31 in previous years. It was actually quite rational to take out a little extra cash on the last day of 1999 (I did), because if the system was going to fail, it was going to fail first in New Zealand.

    As it happened, people had done a pretty good job of fixing code over the past five years, and very little happened on the night. That's not the same thing as there never having been a risk.

    The link to the current virus situation is that there's a whole lot of just-don't-know about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    There is officially nothing that irritates me more than the idea that this is a media beat up. It isn't. The WHO for one is not in the business of spreading panic in order to help newspaper sales.

    It's often said that it's only a matter of time before a global pandemic strikes, and I don't doubt that the WHO was right to follow its global pandemic procedures. We can nevertheless separate the threat from the ways in which media coverage of that threat is disproportionate, inadequate and irritating.

    It would seem that there is a low probability that this particular virus will wreak devastation of the kind called to mind by the term 'global pandemic'. As CNN's Sanjay Gupta has noted, 36,000 Americans die of flu related illnesses every year. The Times has noted that the media driven overreaction to the last US swine flu outbreak ended up killing more people than it saved.

    It's easy enough to locate this within well known critiques, but people aren't well served by (or particularly want) media coverage that is systematically exaggerated.

    Since Nov 2006 • 788 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From Macdoctor's roundup of facts and fallacies:

    The World Health Organisation has increased their alert level to 5, indicating that a pandemic is now almost inevitable. Bear in mind, however, that we essentially get a pandemic of influenza every year. Although this virus is likely to be significantly more dangerous than the standard influenza virus, it is also likely to turn out more like the Hong Kong flu pandemic rather than the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. There will be some tragedies and some disruption to life - but the world will not come to an end.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Blake Monkley,

    Highly decorated science journalist Laurie Garrett joins the 7.30 Report from New York to discuss the emergence of swine flu and its potential repercussions.

    That flu had only a less than 2 per cent case fatality rate, which is to say more than 98 per cent of the people who got sick with flu in 1918 survived. So you look at that figure, 100 million, and you realise, wow, that was just... That was just the tip of the iceberg of who got infected.

    That's why this denominator issue in Mexico is so terribly, terribly important. We need to understand, are we looking at a case fatality race in Mexico of 0.001 per cent of all the people infected, or are we looking at a case fatality rate of 1 per cent or 2 per cent of all the people infected?

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    I really value Poneke's presenece, but his take on scepticism is often all attitude and not much reason.

    He's very enlightened on some topics, unreconstructed on others. the only consistent thing about him is his inconsistency..

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 822 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Swine flu silver lining: Nick Smith is currently in isolation.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    "Nick Smith is currently in isolation."

    I'm yet to be convinced that has anything to do with the flu.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    More like surgical removal of foot from mouth

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    More like surgical removal of foot from mouth

    No, that would be Joe Biden:

    The day after President Barack Obama urged the flu-worried masses to stay calm, Vice President Joe Biden went off the rails, saying he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways.

    Meh. I've been wondering how long it'll take the 'I have a sniffle' panic crowd to die down at the doctor's. I need to take my daughter for her gardasil vaccinations.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    No, that would be Joe Biden:

    Ouch

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways.

    The Brits reckon you riding the elevator will kill you. (The page is in Italian but the video is in English).

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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