Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Did 007 Ever Use Ricin?

Oh, sweet-mother-of-darkness. I need a pill.

Back in October I blogged about the pending avian flu pandemic, the Spanish flu catastrophe of 1918 and projected, tongue-in-cheek, the following:

“If you pick up any newspaper, turn on any TV news in the next weeks and months, you’ll hear lots of breathless hyperbole about the imminent, unstoppable and deadly flu pandemic that is on the verge of ravaging the Earth. You’ll be told to get your regular flu vaccine, and your avian flu shot, and your anti-terrorist immunizations, and then you’ll willingly ask for antidepressants, and anti-panic pills, and high blood pressure medication because the world is such a scary place to live these days.”
And today, what lands in my inbox, but news from the New York Times that the first clinical trial for the ricin vaccine has proven to be safe and effective.

Ricin. Heard of it? I never had before this morning, but now that I know about it I’m afraid. Very afraid.

Ricin is the castor bean by-product left by the production of castor oil. (not so scary yet)

Ricin is easy to make. (still not worried)

Ricin is highly toxic. (okay, so I won’t start producing castor oil in my basement)

Ricin can be made into a powder and aerosolized. (I thought aerosol cans were banned…)

Ricin is the spy-master’s favourite poison. Let me say that again, “Ricin is the spy-master’s favourite poison.” (better stop picking up spies at my local pub)

The scary thoughts are tumbling about in my head.

First, how many spies are there in my neighbourhood? There must be lots if some corporation has determined it’s in their financial interest to develop a vaccine against the spy-master’s favourite poison. I mean, if there weren’t a good number of spy masters roaming about then there wouldn’t be much of a market for the anti-ricin vaccine, and without a substantial market, there would be no profit for the company that’s invested in the R&D. Conclusion: there must be a lot folks skulking about with castor bean stains on their finger-tips. That makes me uncomfortable.

Did you know that in a famous incident, Bulgarian exile Georgi Markov was fatally attacked in London in 1978 with an umbrella-like weapon that injected him with ricin? (It’s true. I read it on a website). And I live in Vancouver, where we had 29 days of rain this January. I see hundreds of umbrellas every day…strangers’ umbrellas actually touch me on the bus…I’m simply not riding at rush-hour anymore.

Second scary thought: GWB has managed another assault on the American public’s right to choice. Using his executive powers he has the right to force every single solitary American citizen to submit to anti-terrorist vaccines if he feels the need. (Actually, that may only be American citizens living on American soil…and soldiers, of course. I may be exempt from that law based on my Canadian residency. Then again, with our new Prime Minister being a GWB-Mini-Me-Wanna-Be, if Bushie says it’s a good idea, my guess is that Stephie will jump in the little red wagon and get shots for us, too.)

Third scary thought: Tomorrow I turn forty and I have a crush on a man. My 9-year old and I are having peer-to-peer conversations about the anxiety caused by this state of mind/heart/being. That is way too scary, but not a topic for this blog…not today, anyway.

As for the info I promised yesterday...still waiting for the document.


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