a case for malaria
Saturday, October 22 2005
I had a housecall for the first time in awhile at the residence of a friend of the family. While I was transferring data from an old computer to a new one, the friend/client mentioned something she'd read in the New Yorker about Bill Gates and his donation of a quarter of one of his billions to the battle against malaria in Africa. To this I responded that I didn't think fighting malaria was such a good idea. After all, malaria is what is keeping people from developing a lot of the African continent, parts that are currently generating oxygen and absorbing our prodigious output of pollution. The end of malaria might make a lot of people happy in the near-term, but ultimately we'd all suffer from the loss of African wilderness and Malthusian limits would cause even greater suffering of even more people in the not-too-distant future. Right now malaria is achieving something no regulation or international treaty ever will. If Bill Gates gets his dream and eliminates malaria, his success will be just another form of Microsoft pollution. If Bill Gates wants to put his money into a good cause, he couldn't do much better than the proselytizing of contraception, particularly condoms. Oh I know, that's controversial. There's a whole shitload of souls in Limbo waiting to be born, and the use condoms simply delays that process and kicks Armageddon down the road. (Actually, I've never heard anyone express this belief, though it does follow a certain amount of internal logic.)
This evening Gretchen and I had a little tiny dinner party over at our friend Jon's house. He's that explorer guy for National Geographic. We brought over a bottle of wine and he supplied the reheated takeaway manicotti. Oh Jesus, it was the worst manicotti ever! Just as a rule of thumb, it's never a good idea to microwave something in styrofoam. But there were things even proper reheating wouldn't have fixed, such as the extreme salinity of the food.
Our conversation ranged from Jon's recent adventures in the former Yugoslavia to ours in contemporary Turkey to the ceaslessly entertaining state of modern American politics. Oh, do we live in interesting times! If we didn't think Bush could be any more fucked than the way Hurricane Katrina left him, how about Hurricane Harriet? My favorite quote about Harriet Miers regards her failure to get married or have children and comes from the lips of the often-sexist but occasionally brilliant Bill Maher:
"Harriet Miers isn't using the equipment God gave her for making babies, and that's just wrong. It's like God giving you a beautiful garden and you not strip mining it for coal."
Jon mentioned a recent timely joke he'd heard about the President. When asked his opinion on Roe vs. Wade, George W. Bush is said to have replied, "I don't care how people get out of New Orleans."
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