Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bill Maher, #323 The Real Zombie Apocalypse?

I found this picture at denverlibrary.org
Two of the guests on Real Time with Bill Maher – each from a different world, but those worlds collided on the June 27, 2014 show.

The interview was with Dr. Martin Blaser, Director of the NYU Human Microbiome Program, Professor of Microbiology at New York University School of Medicine, author of Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues. He comes from the world of medicine, and he has written a book about a possible coming apocalypse.

The mid-show guest was Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks, and author of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, and a graphic novel, The Harlem Hellfighters (with illustrator Caanan White). He comes from the world of books and Hollywood, and he has written a book about a fictional zombie apocalypse.

Dr. Martin Blaser wants to alert us to the dangerous consequences of the overuse of antibiotics.  We probably all already know that bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics limiting our ability to control disease. The new, and even scarier information is that the good bacteria that humans need to survive has also been affected—reduced in number, changed, made less diverse. Dr. Blaser posits that the changes to the human microbiome are responsible for the rise of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer.  

Today I read a story in the newspaper which claimed a link between autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, and the apocalypse in the human intestinal tract—changes in the symbiotic mircobiota residing in the gut. Here’s a fun fact: These microbiota outnumber the body’s own cells 10 to 1.  

What does this have to do with zombies? The answer to that comes in a recent episode of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. This show likened zombies to rabid animals. Imagine a microbe which is airborne like the flu, and like the flu incubates, leaving the infected person symptom-free for a few days. Imagine further that unlike the flu, this disease does not send us to our beds, but instead turns us into a wild enraged animal, like a dog with rabies. 

The people infected with this new rabies-like disease would act like the zombies of fiction. The epidemic would suddenly erupt world-wild becoming even more widespread as the infected individuals run amok on a rampage spreading the disease even further. What if, unlike the zombies on the TV show, The Walking Dead, who are slow and clumsy, the zombies were more like the zombies of World War Z, who can move really fast?

The flu pandemic of 1919 killed up to 100 million people—2-3% of the world’s population.  How many would be killed by a pandemic of zombies?  

Scared yet?  Maybe scared enough to make me stop watching TV. And reading the newspaper.
 
P.S. I did a news print poem on this subject: The Zombie Apocalypse.

P.S: I wrote a article about zombies. The most comprehensive article about zombies tat is also reader-friendly on the web. Zombies: The Popularity, Mythology, Psychology, Philosophy, and Reality.

Read the full review of episode #323, Horror and Mayhem, on my other blog: Premium Cable Reviews

 
Bill Maher’s Guests, #322, June 27, 2014

Joy Reid: journalist, anchor of the MSNBC show The Reid Report, managing editor of TheGrio.com, political columnist for the Miami Herald, and the editor of The Reid Report political blog

Andy Dean: host of America Now with Andy Dean, a radio talk show 

Bobby Ghosh: journalist, managing editor for Atlantic Media’s Quartz, former TIME Magazine's World Editor, author of The New Middle East (with Time Magazine editors) 

Dr. Martin Blaser: Director of the NYU Human Microbiome Program, Professor of Microbiology at New York University School of Medicine, author of Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues