September 11, 2008

“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”

Ben Franklin (who conspicuously removed himself from consideration to be either the first or second president because he did not feel he was healthy enough to do the job.)

Can’t turn on any media without a stream of 9/11 gibberish. We have always had terrorists. You could make the case that some of our Founding Fathers were terrorists. What differs is how we react to them.

The citizens of the richest and most powerful nation in the world have elected to live in fear of them – even though we are far – FAR – more likely to commit suicide than be intentionally killed by other people. The suicide rate in the US at 1.3% of total deaths is almost double the homicide rate at 0.7% of total deaths.

[my source – which got there data from the CDC]

These, of course, are dwarfed by heart disease (28%) and various forms of cancer (22%) and the 40,000 people a year who will die in auto accidents. Yet there we go, merging on the freeway while trying to gulp down a convenience store hot dog, and getting all worked up because the voices on the radio warn that another terrorist attack could happen at any time.

On the list of things more likely to kill you than terrorists – waterborne illness from untreated water on the trail. The debate about the best way to deal with this has been raging across websites for years – and full of all sorts of myths.

On the trail, I use chemicals (Aqumura – which is actually a long word for Iodine) as opposed to filters because they’re lighter, cheaper, and with the exception of particulates, more effective. Yeah, it makes crystal mountain spring water taste like city tap, but I’ve drunk from mud puddles  and cattle ponds with n ill effects because of this stuff.

What I wrote in my guidebook, though (and this came up because I’m proof-reading the galleys this week) is that the surest way to kill everything is to boil the water for two minutes. Then I decided maybe I’d better check that fact, because I couldn’t remember where I got the 2 minute standard.

There are boiling times from supposed authorities ranging from 2 to 10 minutes, and they’re all living in needless fear. Both the EPA and the CDC agree that a rolling boil for one minute should be sufficient. As Survival Topics – a good, clear resource – explains, anything that can infect a human body will be killed off by 185F anyway. (water boils at 212F around sea level).

But boiling for a full minute makes damn sure, and will ease the anxiety of your fellow campers, who have all been trained to live in fear of those things least likely to kill them.

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2 thoughts on “September 11, 2008

  1. The other part of this terrorism fear thing is the terrorists in discussion are nearly always international and more specifically Muslim. But from a perusal of terrorist incidents over the past decade or two you can see that is not the case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_the_United_States, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_terrorism_in_the_United_States#cite_note-0). People seem to be lazy about looking simple things up. Merging is scary.

  2. Pingback: Are We lost Yet? » Blog Archive » The Miserable Facts About Plastic Bottles

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