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April 30, 2009

Swine Flu aka H1N1 : Putting Lipstick on the Pig Swine H1N1

Federal officials were ordered today to refrain from referring to the contagion du jour as "swine flu". The directive explained that you can't catch the flu from pigs, and the government hopes to prevent poor terminology from having a negative impact on the pork industry. Instead, it would be more helpful to refer to H1N1.

What's the rest of the world doing? On April 29, 2009, the World Health Organization raised their alertness level from 4 to 5 (on a scale of 6) worldwide in response to sustained human-to-human transfer of the virus. Level 5 means pandemic imminent.

 What's the US posture?
  • No restrictions on travellers arriving from hotspots.
  • No scanning/screening at domestic airports.
  • Uncle Sam's going to help you choose less harmful words.
  • (VPOTUS Biden did make some sensible comments, but his staff immediately explained he was talking about Mexico.
  • I think this is what they mean by "putting lipstick on the pig".
Oh, Georgie Orwell, where are you when we need you?

The paper of record explains that in some parts of the world (generally, the parts of the world our teenagers are deployed to) there are negative connotations to the cloven-hooved beasts. The WHO will want to review their chart (right) showing how both avian and swine flues jump to humans.

Egypt, meanwhile, slaughtered 300,000 pigs just to be on the safe side. That's what pigs are for, anyway — slaughtering.

Inevitably, in the United States the government is mostly worried about the pork industry.

I came to realize that this nominalism, this naming fetish, is an opportunity. Unfortunately, at my best I am second-level-clever. I can understand the things that first-level-clever people do, it's just that they don't occur to me until a while after they've occurred to the first-levels.

H1N1 Crossover PrototypeH1N1 is a cool name. If it was a car - well, the H1N1 would be a Hybrid (not a Hummer, that was Bush 43, we've moved on), and it would look somewhat like an airplane, because airplanes have N-numbers painted on them. We could sell a lot of H1N1's. I think we'd call them the H1N1 Crossover. It would be an international car that didn't care about borders, and the model would evolve (mutate is so harsh) in unexpected ways during the year. The marketing campaign would be a series of ads showing the H1N1 Crossover in unexpected places. Tagline: "Unexpected".

H1N1 Crossover : Unexpected

Next I thought, hey — is the domain name available? Might be a profitable URL to own. I went to Network Solutions and checked for domain names with the prefixes 'H1N1' and "swineflu" and they're all taken. True, is available, but I don't think it'll be a player in this space. The first-levels got there first.

Another opportunity missed. My own fault.


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