Things That Don't Suck
, Some Notes on The Stand
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.
I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.
[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome
on Aug 19, 2014 -
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
), 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 -
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
The Economist: The World in 2010
. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane
on Nov 14, 2009 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -