Thursday, July 28, 2005



I love what I do. But sometimes it takes its toll. While other vocations have their dark sides - soldiers see war, ER doctors see trauma - copy editors, while not on the frontlines, see it all.
Every bit of filth and garbage, we see. For the most part, it's grist to the mill. But if you think the "human" stories are the ones that stick, you're wrong. Somewhere, on a visceral level, the evil of the world gets into my system and stays there breeding despair.
Maybe evil is not the right word. Maybe it's just "stone cold".
The stories that I remember are the horrors, the murders, the wars, the tsunami. Dictators rise and fall, accidents happen, once in a while nature unleashes carnage. But for all that I work with, and all that I read I guess I still like to think that man is basically good. That given the same chances most people would be decent, law abiding citizens. It's an odd little word that, decent.
On the "mainland" as we like to call the large beast of China that sits to our north, east and west, there are periodic outbreaks of disease under conditions that would make any sane person flee for the nearest biohazard shower.
Virologists and others have been warning us that we're in for a flu pandemic on the scale of the 1918 killer. And they quite rightfully point to China as a source. At the moment HN51, a strain of bird flu is thought to be the likely suspect.
But while all this is going on (we also have a lesser outbreak of anthrax), there arrives on the scene streptococcus suis (known to lay people as swine flu). And does this swine flu affect humans? You bet. It has a death rate of over 80%.
While the nuttikrust fringe of doctors (looks towards Ireland without mentioning names) want to believe this is some huge biological plot by the Red Chinese that somehow got out of control - yes she actually thinks there is one - you only has to examine conditions underwhich livestock are kept and slaughtered to see from whence it comes.
China has no animal rights laws. For all its claims to be a civilised country - and do we not judge a civlisation by the way it treats its animals - China has yet to put into place a single law that protects any of its creatures. So horror stories abound, but we don't need to go there.
Now that the Communist government is surrendering to capitalism and encouraging private enterprises the checks and balances of officialdom are falling away and leaving exposed a horror that would have Stephen King salivating.
Under the guise of "enterprise" people gather tainted food waste from factories, repackage it and sell it on at cut rate prices to a thrifty population, others use carcinogenic industrial dyes to produce healthier fish stocks, and yet others dig up the diseased carcasses of pigs to sell at a 400% profit to unsuspecting townsfolk.
That leaves me stone cold.
It is not as if these people don't know the pigs are sick - they're dead and buried. It's not as if they don't know about the sickness spreading among them, or that they are somehow so backward that they don't realise the basic points of contamination. They're clever enough to see a profit in their actions, clever enough not to eat the meat themselves. That they don't eat the meat themselves tells me these are not people who are starving. They are simply greedy to the point that they don't care if people die because of their actions.
Yes, I realise that this sums up much of the corporate world.
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