• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


    from Twitter


    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Home Run by the CDC

    If you're ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you're ready for any emergency. emergency.cdc.govLet me join the blogosphere in congratulating the CDC on a job well done. The recently published "Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse" is an excellent example of the use of social media to convey a message and awareness of target culture to make the message meaningful.*

    The CDC webpage starts with this:

    We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident Evil (External Web Site Icon. [rate:6.4] 78,991 votes), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much?

    ...The Zombie Survival Guide identifies the cause of zombies as a virus called solanum.

    While I agree that Resident Evil (the first one) might be my favorite movie as well, we need to thank the spread of the Zombie Survival Guide to image boards like 4chan.org. Many meme's start from its sundry (and not all safe-for-work) pages, including the infamous "you got Rick Rolled" meme.

    KnowYourMeme.com explains the origins of a now ubiquitous Zombie Survival Sheet on 4chan.

    According to the Lurkmore wiki the meme originated from the 4chan’s /k/ board, a board about weaponry, around the late October 2008.
    The board began to be invaded by what they called “zombie threads” in which they were asked to give pieces of advice about the best weaponry choice and plan when facing a zombie outbreak. It was usually resulting in a division between those who wrote the most accurate response they could find and those who didn’t believe in zombies, leading to fiery arguments between the two.

    ...The 29th of October 2008, the meme went to /b/ where another zombie thread popped up. There, the picture began to be reused to fulfill the requests.
    It then came back to the /k/ board, having more and more threads created.

    Instantly, the meme expanded to other boards and other chans, mainly those that got a zombie board.
    That kind of zombie threads, since then, are always present on a regular basis on 4chan as well as other boards.

    It's now almost 24 hours since the CDC tweeted about zombie preparedness, and it's still trending worldwide. In the 30 seconds it took to snap the picture, over 100 new tweets mentioning the CDC zombie preparedness guide rolled in.

    Two opinions on this PR coup by the CDC:

    1. Whomever had the idea for this should get a raise and promotion. Good fresh thinking needed in the government.
    2. This provides a great avenue to remind the public that the CDC isn't wholly comprised of staid, stogy professors sitting in laboratories doing esoteric research. It very much is comprised of smart and lively men and women who often live and do very interesting things. They are much more than the sparse natural disaster warnings that we read about.

    For example, the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) is a 2-year postgraduate fellowship for applied epidemiology. Eyes glaze over? Let me tell you again. The EIS is a small group of people who leave at the drop of a hat to investigate outbreaks like SARS and Ebolla. They fly INTO the eye of the storm while everyone else wants to get away from the diseases. Pretty cool, eh?

    Congratulations, CDC, on a job well done. Now, back to polishing my AA-12.

    *I'll also add a shout out to President Obama, who, for reasons he's responsible for or not, has presided over a government that has made progress by leaps and bounds in the "use of social media" and "awareness of target culture" departments.

    Monday, May 02, 2011

    Osama Bin Laden Dead!

    The death of Osama Bin Laden was announced hours ago by President Obama, and of course Americans have been rejoicing since.

    The story developing about a small assault team of Navy SEALs storming a mansion in the suburbs of Islamabad, Pakistan would make a great Hollywood movie. And the remembering of 9/11 and its victims is well deserved.

    However, the president said some truly amazing things in his short speech tonight. First, this tip came to his desk in August 2010 - 9 months ago. Over the last year (basically) that intelligence has been checked, rechecked, and corroborated. Plans have been developed, scrapped, redrawn and practiced repeatedly. Most importantly, people didn't know about it. In a city notorious for leaks, this information didn't.

    In the day of 24hr news, Twitter, and Facebook, we want real-time status updates from all our politicians, including our president, about the fate and direction of our country. When things don't happen perfectly, or we take small set backs on the road to large gains, the people (incited by CNN or not) rise up inflamed. This is what happened in the Vietnam war, before the modern US political machine had a decent idea how to deal with 24hr news. President Nixon swore we were winning the war. The North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive and lose almost 80% of their effective army. Our military victory is a huge political loss because all people see is massive fighting and casualties in a country halfway around the world that their president just told them was won and on the road to resolution.

    This reality cost Nixon the white house, plagued President Bush during his terms in office, and forces our leaders to always caution every success story with words like "it's gonna be a long fight" or "this is one small step in a larger effort." As the election cycle heats up, and people start asking "what have you done for me lately?" we need to remember this - that sometimes (maybe most times) the president has done a lot for us lately. We just aren't allowed to know it.

    Secondly, President Obama mentioned he called the president of Pakistan and apprised him of the situation. This means Pakistan had no knowledge of the assault beforehand. Reports of Pakistani presence during the assault are currently elaborated as one intelligence official. This very easily is a euphemism for "CIA contact who is Pakistani."

    This confirms how inept the Pakistani government is at investigating, and how strained our relationship is with the lynch pin of South Asia. We need a Pakistan that effectively helps us find and kill terrorists, and puts pressure on China. Without that, United States presence is woefully weak in the Middle East.

    The rub going forward will be to see how President Obama works and strengthens the US relationship with Pakistan, and how much leeway voters give him for military and security issues he cannot discuss.

    Now, let me join in with all the cheering and revelry: