At yesterday’s panel discussion about post-apocalyptic fiction, the panelists discussed literature that uses post-nuclear holocaust as a setting (such as the book A Canticle for Leibowitz). After the talk, one of our IT folks sent this link to us. This is an interactive map that shows how a nuclear device would impact the Chicago region. It is scary and fascinating at the same time.
One Book: World War Z
One of our themes from this year’s One Book program is public health and infectious diseases. We will be talking about preventing diseases including the use of vaccines. In preparation for these conversations, I wanted to share this map that documents outbreaks of diseases that could be stopped through the use of vaccines.
Take a look at the full map here:
Council on Foreign Relations: Vaccine-Preventable Outbreaks
Here is a great article about how science works. This ties in with our One Book, One College theme on infectious disease an public health.
Basically, scientists noticed that children in Europe who were given a specific H1Ni vaccine in 2009 had trouble sleeping (about 1 in 16,000 children). The drug maker decided to fund research to try to understand why. There was already a theory that narcolepsy was caused by out-of-control immune cells. The research findings suggest that this theory is correct. However, there are also other children who did not receive the vaccine who suffered narcolepsy. The possibility could be that that vaccine stimulated the rogue immune cells or perhaps it was just the flue virus. The findings move us one step closer to understanding.
You can read this article on the Atlantic Website here: Swine Flu Connection Provides Clues About Narcolepsy.
Now, anti-vaccine folks would point to this as a problem with vaccines. This is a side effect. They do not often note the number of lives saved from stopping this outbreak. They also do not recognize that this is a great example of the creation of knowledge and the way that science solves problems. We are understanding the mechanics of infectious disease in great detail and depth.
At fist glance, it may seem strange that Nelson Mandela has been a point on conversation this semester around our library’s One Book, One College program on World War Z. I do not believe Mandela was known as a zombie warrior, but, nonetheless, he was a focus of conversation around World War Z.
This is because the history of South Africa plays a central role in the novel. The “Redeker Plan” which supposedly saved humanity from the zombies originated in South Africa as a result of Apartheid in South Africa.
Max Brooks, the author of World War Z, includes a character who closely resembles Mandela, even though this character is never directly named as Mandela. The character in the book approves of the Redeker plan as the only way to save humanity. He does this tragically, since the execution of the plan will mean that millions of innocent people will be sacrificed to the zombies
The inclusion of a Mandela-like character is in the book illustrates the role of Mandela in the world. First, Mandela carried a moral authority like few other people. His suffering and stance against the apartheid government will long be remembered as a courageous and heroic act. His efforts to unify South Africa and the rest of the world again injustice put him in a position of authority as a non-religious voice of morality. Thus, in the book World War Z, when the Mandela character gives approval, this carries an admission that the Redeker plan is the only option for humanity.
It is also noteworthy that Brooks does not actually name Mandela when Brooks does name other world leaders (such as Fidel Castro). This can be seen as a sign of respect for Mandela. Brooks was able to use his book as a way to comment on the problems of racism and injustice by using South African history and the memory of Mandela. But, he did so in a way that respects Mandela’s legacy.
We join the world in mourning Mandela’s passing, but we also celebrate his life. His inclusion in World War Z has allowed our campus to join the discussion about his life.
This year, One of our One Book themes is infectious disease and disease prevention. This video talks about misinformation revolving around the HPV vaccine. This is an important video that hits the key points. The only way to fight misinformation is with accurate information, so please share.
Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) are the cause of genital warts, and believed to lead to a number of cancers. But there’s a vaccine for HPV that can prevent you from getting infected. This week, Rosianna sends in some questions about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, based on some emails she’s received. Aaron takes the opportunity to talk about HPV, how the vaccine works, how safe it is, and how misinformation is preventing us from saving lives.
Wanted to pass along this list from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Emergency preparedness is one of our One Book themes this year. FEMA sent along a list of links that will help replace important documents that might be destroyed in an emergency. They were presenting links for people living in Colorado who lost many documents in the floods this past year. I thought that this list is useful for us to remind us of items we should copy and protect.
-Birth and Death Certificates
-Marriage Dissolutions (divorces)
-Vehicle Registration, License Tab or Title
-Social Security Card
-Transcript of Your Tax Return
Our campus film critic (and one of our writing instructors) offers his review of the top 20 zombie films of all time! Our library owns most of these films (see “zombie films“)
The Best Zombie Films by Vittorio Carli
Zombies are shambling around everywhere in the cultural landscape. The Walking Dead is the bestselling and most highly regarded Indy comic series in a long time. Also, the TV series that was partially adapted from it is nearly as good (it actually takes the characters in some worthwhile alternate directions.)
Moraine Valley Community College is focusing on the zombie in its curriculum during the 2013-2014 semesters. Many literature and composition classes are studying the World War Z novel, and the film version which was the most expensive zombie flick ever came out this summer producing big box office receipts. See http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/photos/galleries/index.html?story=22115941.
Also, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a recent bestselling revisionist mash up text which resurrects the Jane Austin style (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter was also part of the same genre), and cleverly adds horror elements. I actually thought it was a good summer read.
Aim for the Head: An Anthology of Zombie Poetry was recently released, which was edited by the popular Oklahoma based performance poet, Rob “Ratpack Slim” Sturma. See http://www.amazon.com/Aim-For-Head-Anthology-Zombie/dp/1935904477.
Zombie films have also had a huge impact on pop music and music videos. Years ago, the punk pop group, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, put out a demented video called “Y Control” which combines elements of Night of the Living Dead and Village of the Damned in which evil children commit evil, destructive acts while looking like dazed zombies (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcjPFAV1foU) . Earlier on Michael Jackson had used zombies in “Thriller, “and the punk/metal band the Misfits, who had made a whole career out of doing horror themed songs recorded a song titled “Night of the Living Dead.”
Zombies and infections have been in the news at MVCC this past semester. This week, World War Z has evolved into World War M. Human buttons are quickly being replaced by zombie buttons. Students and staff are reporting their zombie status to the World War M site. I know that this is just a game but it makes me wonder if our country has ever faced a serious epidemic or even worse, a pandemic? I did some research and found that the United States experienced a serious pandemic in 1918-1919. The virus caused between 20-40 million deaths worldwide. It infected over 28% of the U.S. population and almost 700,000 Americans died from the flu during this time period. Most of the victims were between the ages of 20 and 40. The medical profession had no idea how to treat the disease. So even though World War Z is fiction, the 1918 Pandemic proves that “truth is stranger than fiction.”
MVCC Catalog Pandemic
Another great source of information is the Chicago Tribune Historical database. Enter your MV Connect and Blackboard user name and password to experience how Chicago reacted to the pandemic.
This week we are playing our campus-wide Zombie Game (World War M), but there is a growing concern in the medical community that fiction may become reality. No, not zombies, but superbugs that are antibiotic resistant. These are bugs that can’t be stopped by with drugs. The video below is piece from PBS Frontline that discusses the issue.
You may also want to look in our catalog: Drug resistance in microorganisms
Also, we had a speaker from the University of Chicago who spoke about infection control: How Research is Making Healthcare Better: Infection Prevention and Antibiotic Stewardship – Oct 2012