Like "G20 summit," "Quantitative easing" and "Susan Boyle", "swine flu" looks set to become one of the buzz phrases of 2009. They say that it's a variant strand of bird flu, but I'll believe that when pigs fly*. Everyone's up in arms about it, with predictions that, I dunno, 10% of all humanity will be wiped out by the simple act of sow catching a cold.
Personally, I'm trying not to let it bother me. There's nothing that we can really do about it as individuals anyway, aside from making sure that we now sneeze into handkerchiefs rather than the faces of strangers. Besides, this is pretty much exactly what happened with bird flu, and SARS before that, and anthrax before that (kind of), and foot-and-mouth before that, and CJD before that. Predicting the dissolution of mankind seems to hold something of a morbid fascination for a large proportion of people, and it extends beyond just killer diseases.
Meteorite? Tidal waves? Tornadoes? That volcano in Yellowstone National Park is well overdue for an eruption... Obviously, nobody really can be sure of how humanity is going to be wiped out, but, from what I can discern, the popular theory is that one world leader is going to make some disparaging remark about some other world leader's mother, and that's going to result in us all blowing each other up.
I'm holding the belief that none of the above hypotheses will turn out to be true. My theory is that all men in the Western world will each render themselves sterile from radiation after years of keeping their mobile phones in their trouser pockets, then we'll all be dead in a single generation.
But, hey, if we are going to slowly wiped out by swine flu, at least we can look forward to a new track from M.I.A., and some potentially very funny public service announcements:
(Obviously, my heart goes out to anyone who has been affected by swine flu, and I don't mean to seem like I'm belittling the situation.)
*Everyone's been making this joke.