Bipolar stock market, pandemic flu, Alaska

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf Are you ready for three sarcastic statements, each with a supporting chart or graph?

All right, hold on. Let me channel my inner Comical Ali (AKA Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, former Information Minister of Iraq). Some called him Baghdad Bob. Ready?

Here we go:

1. The stock market is not exhibiting symptoms of bipolar disorder.

That’s right. A violent 20% swing of the entire U.S. economy in two days is totally stable and healthy. Last Friday’s 1000-point intraday fluctuation of the Dow is in no way indicative of a panicked, whipsaw market. The fundamentals of the economy are still strong. This is not a recession. The problem is simply that the stock market forgot to take its meds. Yes, I admit, the past three weeks have been pretty depressive. (With just one manic suckers’ rally on Monday, October 13 – and a hysterical continuation the following Tuesday morning – before the market plunged hard, yet again.) But really, all the economy needs is a little lithium in its belly. See?

Dow Jones Industrial Average chart

If the Dow Jones were my friend, I’d recommend that it seek professional psychological help immediately. Speaking of depressing things, I’d suggest not looking at your retirement funds. Just keep buying as we descend into the 7000s.

2. Avian influenza presents no real danger to humans.

Eh, well, maybe I’m losing interest in the thick sarcasm. Actually, it looks like we should be due for another influenza pandemic pretty soon. The last one was the Hong Kong flu in 1968. The most serious influenza pandemic on record was the 1918 Spanish flu. Perhaps you’d like to take a look at the federal government’s fancy pandemic flu maps.

Nations with confirmed cases of H5N1 avian influenza

In related news: So far, there are no confirmed cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza in North America. But this deadly flu virus is infecting people in Asia, Europe and Africa. And it does pose a pandemic threat because humans have little or no immunity. Over half of those infected have died. So, why isn’t it more widespread by now? Because human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus isn’t working efficiently enough, yet. I guess we’ll probably have to wait for the swine (an intermediate animal host) to get it from the birds and then give it to us. Gee, thanks, antigenic shift. Until then, enjoy the delicious strains of seasonal influenza. That special time of year is just starting.

Looking at the H5N1 map, it reminds me that Alaska sure is close to Russia, which has been stricken with avian influenza. I sure hope the Russians don’t sneak any chickens over the Bering Strait. Good thing the Alaskans will be sure to shoo them back over into Russia, as part of Governor Palin’s foreign policy plan.

3. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is a genius of foreign policy.

Stop laughing. OK, more accurately, Sarah Palin can be described a “post turtle.” Hmm, what is a post turtle, you ask? Let me share a quote from The Idiot Speaketh:

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was. The old rancher said, “When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a post turtle.”

The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain. “You know she didn’t get up there by herself. She doesn’t belong up there. She doesn’t know what to do while she is up there, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put her up there to begin with.”

Behold the geography of Palin:

Places you can see from Alaska

To quote Tina Fey as Palin: “I can see Russia from my house!” By the way, thanks for the map, GraphJam.

I hope you all enjoyed the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain tonight.

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