Ebola: A Catastro-tease

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So, my girlfriend is peering at my laptop the other day when she says, “Ebola? Doing research for an article?”

“Nah, babe. I’m just really into plagues.”

At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I’ve always found epidemics fascinating – probably since reading Stephen King’s The Stand at age 10.

Ebola seems utterly unable to deliver the sort of apocalypse I long for.

They, along with nuclear war, serve as the leading realistic candidates for bringing about a post-apocalyptic wasteland. And like most Americans with more mortgage than means, there are plenty of days when the end of the world sounds like just the thing to help me cure my blues.

Ebola, sadly, never seems to actually deliver. Sure, it’s scary as hell. It has a fatality rate greater than 50% and kills you in a very Stephen King kind of way: You bleed out – in a very dramatic fashion.

ebola-uganda_nurseBut in actuality, that very lethality means that Ebola seems utterly unable to deliver the sort of apocalypse I long for: It doesn’t allow its victims to stay infectious long enough to become truly widespread. And those with active symptoms are so gross that most sensible people stay the hell away.

Still, every time a fresh Ebola outbreak crops up, I’m fascinated. Reading about its latest jump to the human population is like looking at a pit viper behind glass at the zoo – you know it could kill you if you got too close, but you’re perfectly safe where you are.

Surviving an Ebola end-time would probably be a bit on the gross side, but that’s true of any pandemic. Dead people smell. Dead people who leak things before they die smell even worse.

The world has too many people – I can’t help fantasizing about many of them going away.

Yet, I retain that nugget of hope, the same one that drives so many to prepare for the zombie apocalypse, every time I hear about some new disease vector lethally burning its way through a human population.

I suppose my innate American optimism contributes to this dark fantasy: After all, my interest in it sort of presumes that I would somehow be among the fortunate few to survive. This is based on no objective data, but the lack of empirical evidence seems to do little to dissuade me.

Like buying a Powerball ticket, hoping that some avian flu will come along and wipe out half of mankind is a pipe dream, but one I find personally compelling. The world has too many people – I can’t help fantasizing about many of them going away. Provided I got to stay behind and pick up the pieces. And also provided that pesky mortgage got forgiven somewhere along the way.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Jared Kendall

A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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