"A mind once stretched by a new idea can never regain its original dimensions." ~Oliver Wendall Holmes

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

15% is all it takes...swine flu rant

We've reached 15% absenteeism which requires us to report it to the district as per the new swine flu safety guidelines. We've been directed to sanitize everything as often as possible. Although there definitely are some cases of swine flu around town, it is hard to tell why kids are absent right now. The state fair is going on in Anchorage and moose hunting season opened yesterday for the first time in 5 years (there was a 5 year moratorium to allow the moose population around Bethel to grow). I would wager that there are more kids absent due to moose hunting than swine flu, but we still have to report it.

Here are some of the things that the CDC is saying about swine flu...
  • Visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) were highest in February during the 2008-09 flu season, but rose again in April 2009 after the new H1N1 virus emerged. Current visits to doctors for influenza-like illness are down from April, but are higher than what is expected in the summer and has increased over the last two weeks.
  • Total influenza hospitalization rates for adults and children are similar to or lower than seasonal influenza hospitalization rates depending on age group.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was low and within the bounds of what is expected in the summer.
  • Most state health officials are reporting regional or sporadic influenza activity. Two states (Alaska and Georgia) and Puerto Rico are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time. Any reports of widespread influenza activity in August are very unusual.
  • Almost all of the influenza viruses identified were the new 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses. These 2009 H1N1 viruses remain similar to the viruses chosen for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine and remain susceptible to antiviral drugs (oseltamivir and zanamivir) with rare exception.

Speaking of swine flu.....I'm soooooooooo sick of all the hype. It's just the flu! JUST THE FLU! The flu virus changes EVERY year. That's why we have to have a new version of the flu shot every year. More people die every year from the regular flu than have died from the swine flu, but we dont have press releases and flu safety guidelines for the regular flu.

The thing that bogles my mind the most is the people who are in a big fuss over the swine flu, but will STILL sit there and say that they dont believe in evolution. The swine flu IS MODERN DAY EVOLUTION IN ACTION. If you dont believe in evolution then you cant believe in the swine flu.

Which then leads me to say the this whole idea of "believing in" evolution is ridiculous too. Evolution is not a belief system. It is a scientific process that can be observed and tested. Saying you dont "believe in" evolution would be like saying you dont "believe in" gravity. You can't see gravity or physically hold it in your hand and yet we all know that it exists. It is not a belief system, it is a testable scientific theory. So is evolution!

Also, since people always want to bring the topic of evolution around to monkeys, let me just say that there is NO SCIENTIST ANYWHERE that says that humans evolved from monkeys. That is NOT what evolution says. People in general have a HUGE misconception that according to evolution, humans evolved from monkeys. THIS IS NOT TRUE! What evolution DOES say is that monkeys and humans shared a common ancestor. My advice to people who still think that evolution says humans evolved from monkeys is to go out an learn what evolution really is and what evolution really says, because it seems to me that most people who dont "believe in" evolution dont really know much about it.

Another thing that evolution DOES NOT say is that God did not create everything. Science doesnt address "who" made living things, it only addresses HOW. There really is no conflict between science and religion (unless you view the Bible as being a literal account of fact). Evolution fits nicely with the idea of creation if you just take the time to learn about it.

I could go on and on about this topic. I would have liked to dedicate an entire post to this issue, but I havent gotten around to it and now is as good a time as any.


KuskoMama said...

Wow... 15% absenteeism!! That is mind boggling. I wonder how it is at the other schools - what will happen at BRHS now that you guys are at this 'milestone'?

re: evolution... I think microevolution is a beautiful thing.
Macroevolution is an interesting theory. I don't think we can definitively show the links between a flu virus (remember, the scientific "proof of life" issue of being able to replicate without using the machinery of a host cell) and a monkey.

I too am sick of hype about swine flu. I don't anticipate getting sick ANY year, and this year people are positively frothing at the mouth about it. I am doing the same things I've done every other year with having kids wash hands, hand sanitizer in the car (OK, I'm a little overboard), reminding them not to touch their noses/mouths/etc.

It must be hard to keep school going with 15% of the census gone.

Kale Iverson said...


good post, i still read. i agree with everything you said minus a couple parts.

You should read the new Richard Dawkins book "The God Delusion." It puts the whole idea of believing in a "god" into a biological function of human survival and also addresses lots of other cool stuff too.

still no job, and now no girl, missing alaska a tiny bit,


KuskoMama said...

Hi Alisha,

I just picked the popular example, probably a poor choice... kids in and out and such - I didn't have time to think before I hit "post".

I did plenty of coursework in biology and was a lab assistant in college so I'm well aware of what the theories are concerning common ancestors.

Yes, the flu virus changing from year to year is an example of (micro)evolution and natural selection to a hopefully (for the virus) more virulent/easily passed strain.

The macroevolutionary theories when I was in school had to do with things having common ancestors in various branches, and those common ancestors ALSO were supposed to have common ancestors, all back to "the big bang" etc. It's all theoretical. Current science does not have unrefutable proof of this theory. (Please note I'm ***NOT*** making an argument in favor of creationism or biblical literalism.) I haven't seen anything in depth, substantiated about the actual branching points of cold-blooded and warm blooded animals, reptiles and mammals, etc.

I'm not here to argue religion or evolutionary theory at all. Just that one can appreciate/accept one part of it and not another, and there are reasons for that other than blind religious faith.

KuskoMama said...

By the way, out of curiousity, how is this presented at the high school? I remember many years ago there was a big controversy involving some school having to place disclaimer stickers in a biology textbook (which I found ridiculous)... which textbook is used at BRHS?

In an alternate reality I loved lab work so it's always interesting to see the instructional side of things.

alisha said...


your not the only one who mentioned monkeys...it's a common misconception, one that i try to clear up when i can and you mentioning monkeys just made me realize that I had left out something that i had wanted to mention.

Current science does, in fact, have loads and loads of evidence to prove macroevolution. The fact the chimpanzees have more in common genetically with humans than they do with any other type of ape being one example. Whether or not you would call it irrefutable is up to you. We dont have irrefutable proof of gravity, but i havent heard many people saying that it doesnt exist. Gravity is just a theory.

Evolution is presented with the supporting evidence as a fact. It is required by national and state standards that it be taught specifically and directly in Biology class. There are no disclaimers...evolution is an observable, testable, scientific process and must be taught as a part of science without mention of creationism, which has NOTHING to do with science.

Thanks for your comments...i love having discussions like this. I would encourage you to read this article....


and browse the website, particularly this section...

This is also a great website about human evolution...

watch the documentary, it's really well put together.

Tamara @ Watching the Grass Grow said...

I hear ya, sister! We have had really high absenteeism over the past week and a half, and there's some controversy over WHAT the kids are getting...some say "regular" flu, some say H1N1.
We, too, are santizing rooms after class changes (HUGE pain in the butt, and the stuff we're using will probably make me sicker than the flu would) and making kids use hand sanitizer every time they even think about sneezing or coughing. I, for one, am also sick of hearing all the hype. (And of making up homework packets to send home to the gozillion kids we've had out with the whatever-it-is.)

KuskoMama said...

I'll check out the links tonight after the kiddos are in bed. How discouraging to be behind current scientific thought... in an alternate reality, I would've been quite happy in a lab. :)

I love discussions like this - do you get to do much like this in the classroom? When I was in school there was little time for discussion of issues like these - it was more of high-order studying and memorization of various facts & processes. Sometimes I miss that stuff, but I *am* well prepared to show the kids way more detail than they ever wanted when they ask about "how someone gets sick"... lol

alisha said...

Upon reading that first article again, it came across as being pretty harsh. When you read it, please take it with a grain of salt. My goal in referring you to this article is not to insult, but to present some of the main points that I was trying to make in different words. The ideas presented are good, but the tone of the article is more aggressive than I would have liked.