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The jury's in... and they can't deny that view, either.

A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jul 14, 2013 - 81 comments

H7N9

Is China covering up another flu pandemic -- or getting it right this time? A long article from Foreign Policy regarding the recent outbreak of H7N9 flu. [readability link]
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates on Apr 23, 2013 - 102 comments

H7N9: The next pandemic?

Is this a pandemic being born? [Google cache] The H7N9 (Bird) Flu Virus May Have Adapted To Mammals. The WHO is investigating. Four new human cases were identified late Tuesday.
posted by spock on Apr 2, 2013 - 139 comments

"We are the walking dead!"

The zombie apocalypse. Threads. Pandemic. Doomsday Preppers. Post-apocalyptic pop-culture fiction of doom. What's it about? A Stanford scholar explains.
posted by stbalbach on Feb 21, 2013 - 57 comments

The Avian Flu: Transparency vs. Public Safety

"Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets." After an extensive, months-long debate, one of two controversial papers showing ways the H5N1 "avian" influenza virus could potentially become transmissible in mammals with only 3 or 4 mutations was published in Nature today. The journal included an editorial on the merits and drawbacks of "publishing risky research" with regard to biosafety. The debate included an unprecedented recommendation by The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication -- a decision they later reversed. (Via: 1, 2) Nature's special report has additional articles, including interviews with the teams behind both papers.
posted by zarq on May 3, 2012 - 37 comments

The Science is on a Need-to-know Basis, and You Don't Need to Know

The committee took the unprecedented step of recommending that some details of these biological studies [be] kept from the public, so that no one could use them as recipes for new bioweapons. [more inside]
posted by gauche on Feb 13, 2012 - 30 comments

This would make a really good movie.

Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free.
posted by pashdown on Nov 30, 2011 - 89 comments

"...we still can’t tell whether we are all about to die or whether we are being sold a bill of goods."

'The stories about epidemics that are told in the American press—their plots and tropes—date to the 1920's, when modern research science, science journalism, and science fiction were born.' This is the story of how the media back then (January, 1930) helped fuel fears about a parrot-fever pandemic, and the subsequent public backlash. (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 11, 2011 - 24 comments

"AIDS at 30: A time capsule," by Bill Hayes

Look back in wonder.
Prepare for the next time.
Do not forget us.
[more inside]
posted by docgonzo on Jun 7, 2011 - 6 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

One Way To Madagascar, Please...

Pandemic: American Swine! New flash game from the makers of Pandemic II Send in the military! Control the media! Play as an open-government do-gooder or a city nuking despot and try to control the infection.
posted by The Whelk on Sep 4, 2009 - 22 comments

World Pandemic Control

The Great Flu — "Even at the lowest difficulty this game delivers a sense of just how hard it is to handle and contain the spread of a dangerous virus." (via)
posted by netbros on Aug 18, 2009 - 28 comments

Madagascar's Ports Still Open, Though

WHO declares global flu pandemic. "The world is moving into the early days of its first influenza pandemic in the 21st century," [WHO Chief Margaret ]Chan told reporters. "The (swine flu) virus is now unstoppable." [more inside]
posted by empath on Jun 11, 2009 - 84 comments

God Bless Them.

Question... What has killed more people than have died in the First World War... No, not another War, But a Pandemic, The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. [more inside]
posted by hadjiboy on May 2, 2009 - 97 comments

WHO Declares Pandemic Imminent

The World Health Organization, which had recently warned of the danger of swine flu, has now raised the pandemic threat level to 5, indicating a pandemic is "imminent". The WHO chief was quoted as saying "all of humanity" is threatened by the virus
posted by crayz on Apr 29, 2009 - 337 comments

The plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

Experts at WHO and elsewhere believe that the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968. WHO uses a series of six phases of pandemic alert... The world is presently in phase 3: a new influenza virus subtype is causing disease in humans, but is not yet spreading efficiently and sustainably among humans. The outbreak of a variant of swine flu led federal officials to close Mexico City-area schools indefinitely - the first such shutdown since a devastating 1985 earthquake. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Apr 25, 2009 - 297 comments

Customize your disease and wipe out the population

Flash Sunday: Customize your disease and wipe out the population, Pandemic II. Get to Madagascar before they close their shipyard!
posted by sebas on Jul 20, 2008 - 68 comments

Four out of Five People Wash Their Hands.

Four out of Five People Wash Their Hands. Don't be that Fifth Guy. While you're at it, cover your mouth when you cough and stay home when you're sick. Really, how many times do we have to tell you? Wash. Your. Hands. Seriously. [more inside]
posted by grabbingsand on Dec 20, 2007 - 155 comments

MRSA... the global medical communities dirty little secret.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In 2005, invasive MRSA infections were estimated to have killed 18,650 in the United States alone. This may be a conservative estimate. It is going global. It is changing politics. It may become pandemic. [more inside]
posted by PROD_TPSL on Oct 17, 2007 - 113 comments

Infectious fun

Destroy the world, one sneeze at a time. Friday flash fun.
posted by Malor on Apr 13, 2007 - 27 comments

XDR-TB in South Africa: A New Pandemic?

According to an article in The Guardian about this new scientific report on XDR-TB, a new kind of multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis, in PLOS Medicine, "More than 300 cases of the highly infectious disease, which is spread by airborne droplets and kills 98% of those infected within about two weeks, have been identified in South Africa."
posted by Quiplash on Jan 23, 2007 - 16 comments

post-slatewiper documentary

"When you walk into a house that was sealed in the last couple of years of the plague, you can crack the door or window and it pops like a vacuum seal, and you walk in and there's surprisingly little dust..."

Among the quotes from "Ever Since the World Ended," a fake documentary about the 186 survivors left in SF following a slate-wiping pandemic. No idea if it's any good, but the documentary approach makes it creepy, because it doesn't feel far from home.
posted by cloudscratcher on Nov 13, 2006 - 61 comments

Larry Brilliant's call for pandemic "Early Warning System"

Doctor Larry Brilliant (mentioned before) spoke at TED this year, calling himself the "luckiest man in the world." He played witness to the last case of Smallpox, and played a significant role in making it the last case. Inspiring/terrifying video here, long, with some graphic images of smallpox.

Back in 1974, Brilliant's technique for early detection in India was to take graphic photos door to door, asking if anyone inside looks like this. Now, as head of Google's philanthropic efforts, he's advocating systems for "early detection, early response." Unsurprisingly, Google, etc, are an important piece of that system: can we detect what's happening before it can spread?

One of the first responses to Brilliant is up already, a means for doctors to immediately text epidemiological information straight into a global spatial database. It's a rough and promising start, and its fascinating that it's coming from the bottom up, instead of NGOs like the Red Cross.
posted by cloudscratcher on Aug 30, 2006 - 17 comments

new hope for a vaccine or cure?

AIDS really did come from chimps in the 1950s --..."We're 25 years into this pandemic," Hahn said. "We don't have a cure. We don't have a vaccine. But we know where it came from. At least we can make a check mark on one of those." ... ...Identifying the source of the HIV pandemic is more than filling in a missing link in the disease's progression. ...
posted by amberglow on May 25, 2006 - 25 comments

Pandemic Flu Awareness Week

October 3-9 is Pandemic Flu Awareness Week. "Like hurricanes, when a pandemic occurs can not be accurately predicted. Nonetheless, that which can be done in advance should be done, because eventually something will happen. Planning can only help, even if at the local level it can’t prevent." (Avian Flu previously discussed here, here, here and here.)
posted by grabbingsand on Oct 5, 2005 - 13 comments

Bye Bye Birdie

Over the past month, people in Qinghai province, China have been reporting that migratory birds in the mostly-rural region were dropping dead of an unknown disease, later diagnosed as a few hundred cases of "an isolated case" [sic] of influenza strain H5N1, a.k.a. bird flu. Three weeks later, the Chinese government admitted that actually about a thousand birds had died of bird flu in the province. Now there are reports saying that at least 8,000 animals--not just birds--have died from the flu, including not only breeds of fowl not previously known to be affected by the virus, but non-avian species, too.

Every national park and bird sanctuary in China has been closed for weeks, since the first reports surfaced of an outbreak. But today, disturbing photos started appearing on Chinese language news websites, supposedly taken at the closed Qinghai Lake Nature Reserve. They appear to show thousands of dead birds (warning, disturbing images - Engrish version via Babelfish here) on the island in the middle of Qinghai Lake, China's largest saltwater lake and a rest-stop for migratory birds from all across southeast Asia. Nervous pandemic-watchers are debating whether the photos are real or doctored, but compared to previous photos of the once-lively birding spot, something definitely seems to be wrong.
[ much more inside >> ]
posted by Asparagirl on Jun 5, 2005 - 42 comments

It's an emergency — official

Nature starts a weblog about the flu pandemic.
Now the virus is in coastal cities on both sides of South America. It hit Europe two weeks ago, ripping through Paris in just 11 days. In the French capital alone, there were 2.5 million cases and 50,000 dead. That's par for the course — infection rate 25% and mortality 2%, similar to the 1918 pandemic. Extrapolate these numbers, and we're going to have over 30 million dead worldwide. In poor and densely populated countries like India, it could be worse.

Where's next, I asked. Based on passenger data — which had to be prised from the airlines — one epidemiologist was willing to make a guess. "Within two weeks, there." He traced his finger from San Diego to Los Angeles, up to San Francisco. Within another three to four weeks, it'll be the turn of the conurbations along the eastern seaboard.


It's fiction but it might become reality soon.
posted by kika on May 25, 2005 - 38 comments

"Preparing for the next pandemic."

1.7 million deaths in the U.S. and 180-360 million dead globally. That's the estimate of the impact of the next influenza pandemic from Michael Osterholm, published in today's New England Journal of Medicine. He warns that almost every public health response to the inevitable emergence of pandemic influenza A strain is unplanned or inadequate: A vaccine would take minimum six months (and millions of fertilized chicken eggs); there are no plans to setup and staff the temporary isolation wards or replace dead health-care workers; nor are there detailed plans for handling the number of dead bodies. Given the deeply interconnected nature of the global economy a pandemic would be impossible to stop and wreak havoc in every nation. "Frankly the crisis could for all we know have started last night in some village in Southeast Asia," said Dr. Paul Gully, Canada's deputy chief public health officer. "We don't have any time to waste and even if we did have some time, the kinds of things we need to do will take years. Right now, the best we can do is try to survive it. We need a Manhattan Project yesterday."
posted by docgonzo on May 5, 2005 - 75 comments

We're all going to die

We're all going to "die". Genocratic discourse or small-scale post-millennial angst?
posted by tommyc on Mar 1, 2005 - 12 comments

Fears growing that an H5 pandemic is likely

"Fears growing that an H5 pandemic is likely" A followup to 37271 (Dec. 2004) - “It appears this virus is progressively adapting to an increasing range of mammals in which it can cause infection, and the range of disease in human beings is wide and clearly includes encephalitis.” The New England Journal of Medicine says "These cases suggest that the spectrum of influenza H5N1 is wider than previously thought." The WHO is encouraging the stockpiling of bird flu vaccines now. There is concern in Britain that they are not moving fast enough.
posted by spock on Feb 16, 2005 - 59 comments

Bring out your dead!

Up to 100 million dead within weeks. A pandemic of biblical proportions according to the latest World Health Organization warning about the bird flu virus H5N1. It is so lethal that it kills most people it infects. Some experts are even warning that the WHO are being too conservative and that a death toll of 1 billion could be expected.
posted by Meridian on Dec 1, 2004 - 87 comments

Um...I'll just have the salad, thanks.

The HIV virus has jumped from primates to people on at least seven separate occasions in recent history, not twice as is commonly thought. And people in Cameroon are showing up with symptoms of HIV, but are testing negative for both the virus and its primate equivalent SIV, the virus from which HIV is thought to have evolved. That suggests that new strains of an HIV-like virus are circulating in wild animals and infecting people who eat them, sparking fears that such strains could fuel an already disastrous global HIV pandemic.
posted by dejah420 on Aug 6, 2004 - 15 comments

The Last Flight of Doctor Ain

James Tiptree's short story The Last Flight Of Dr. Ain has come to mind a number of times since the avian flu hit the news.
posted by y2karl on Feb 1, 2004 - 12 comments

Pandemic: Facing Aids

Coming Soon on film and in print. Pandemic: Facing Aids - an ambitious project from filmmaker/activist Rory Kennedy and the AOL Time Warner Foundation.
posted by subpixel on Dec 1, 2002 - 0 comments

Is this the big one?

Is this the big one? With some 18,000 sick and over 700 people having died of the flu in a country the size of France over the past couple of months, I find it odd that the media seems obsesessed with the US / Iraq thing and missing children. The 1918 flu epidemic killed some 675,00 Americans alone, with a global tally in excess of 20 MILLION killed. Some of the photos taken back then are pretty grim. It seems the power of influenza is that it (ahhem) mutates and thats why it could once again be a big killer. Cynical as it might sound, as a race maybe we need something like this to teach us that we've got a lot more in common with each other than skin colour and religion might otherwise lead us to believe. ObDisclaimer: I'm unemployed right now, have maybe six months of canned goods in the flat; if this hits London, I ain't opening my door to nobody.
posted by Mutant on Aug 30, 2002 - 22 comments

The Big Picture Book of Viruses

The Big Picture Book of Viruses is "intended to serve as both a catalog of virus pictures on the Internet and as an educational resource to those seeking more information about viruses. To this end, it is intimately linked to All the Virology on the WWW, and our collection of Virology Courses and Tutorials." Interesting electron micrographs include pictures of Marburg and Ebola viruses and T-4 like phages. Once a bio geek, always a bio geek. And for some other information about why viruses always matter see The 1918 Influenza Pandemic (sorry the page design sucks but it's a good read) and The American Experience: Influenza 1918. Are you sure that runny nose is just allergies?
posted by elgoose on Apr 22, 2002 - 2 comments

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