Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daily Story 14: Ode to the Swine Flu

Once upon a time there was a young boy working as a shepherd. He would watch the sheep all day, and become very bored. What he enjoyed most of all was when the sheep would run around in a panic - and nobody could really fault him for that because seriously, it was hilarious. So the boy would run through the field yelling something to make them flip out - like "the Y2K bug is coming!" which worked pretty well to get them riled up - and he recorded it and uploaded it to YouTube.

"Wait. Why would a sheep be afraid of the Y2K bug?"

Well, all the shearing to collect the wool was done by robots, and the sheep were afraid that the robots would go crazy and kill them or something, I don't know. Anyway, the year 2000 came and went without any robot attacks and the boy had to find something else. Anthrax worked okay, but he found that the sheep would get into a particularly frothy panic over contagious diseases like SARS and Bird Flu.

"So - just to be clear - the sheep are smart enough to understand things like the Y2K bug but don't know that most diseases that infect humans can't transfer to sheep?"

Well, mister smart-guy, they were so smart because they were genetically engineered sheep, enhanced with human DNA so they could grow organs suitable for use in organ transplants - but that also made them susceptible to human diseases. The wool stuff was just on the side.

"That's some mighty shaky moral ground. They're intelligent and we're cutting them up for organs?"

I don't know. Maybe they were engineered to have extras. So they don't die, they just wake up in a bathtub full of ice like my uncle did when he took that trip to Tijuana. Anyway, after going through West Nile and Swine Flu and everything the sheep started to notice that none of them had been that big of a deal as compared to the other everyday diseases that we've come to expect. So when the boy tried to rile them up with the next thing, Zebra Pox or something, they just rolled their little sheep eyes and went about their business. A month later the Zebra Pox had killed all but one sheep who happened to be immune, and that one committed suicide.

"Wait, what?"

The boy was sad that nobody was watching his YouTube channel anymore, but not for too long because then the Zebra Pox got him too. The end.

"That's terrible! I don't understand, it's like you're going for a 'Boy Who Cried Wolf' angle but... but if he hadn't warned them before about the others...? What, exactly, is the moral here?"

Um... the moral of the story is that some people like to fear-monger for ratings and it's obnoxious, but when it comes to contagious diseases a little bit of fear can be helpful - though that doesn't mean that the fear-mongers are doing it for your benefit, it's more like a coincidence.

"That's not a moral at all, it's just a clumsy observation!"

Yeah, I guess. Whatever. Go to bed, I'm tired of making up stories.