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It’s Halloween, but don’t be scared by anthrax

The other day I placed an order for the Baby Powders of the World collection. Each month in the mail, I’ll receive a new baby powder, and I can cancel at any time. I’m especially looking forward to the aroma of the Syrian Surprise edition.
I came across the offer while reading a novelty magazine that had been packed with a white powdery desiccant to keep moisture out of the pages. I was sorting through the magazine, half paying attention, while awaiting my turn at a game of pool.
While chalking my stick, I ate a powdered sugar doughnut and licked my white fingers before scratching and knocking the cue ball off the table. As it rolled across the pool hall floor, a woman who had been powdering her nose, snapped her compact closed and reached down and caught the ball.
I came home and popped in a rental. The film was called “Powder,” and is it my imagination or does this film have nothing to do with anthrax?
A lot of things have us thinking of anthrax these days, a disease that most doctors have never even seen. Sure, it’s Halloween, but it’s not always fun to be scared.
Daily routines have been altered for sure. People are concerned about mail, every discovery of “a white powder” leads to tests and analysis, and many people are simply spending a lot of time worrying about anthrax.
A few weeks ago, the band was better known to Americans than the bacteria, and the band isn’t even that good.
As a terror agent, anthrax has some highly favorable characteristics. The disease has a high mortality rate and can be difficult to diagnose. In powder form it can be discrete and spread about before anyone even realizes it’s there. Also, the public doesn’t understand it very well and the name sounds scary.
Probably the most terrifying element of the anthrax attacks doesn’t really have anything to do with the bacteria but rather with the choice of delivery system: the U. S. Postal Service.
It’s not like we can just stop mailing things. The trip to the mailbox every morning is inevitable. But unless you work for a national news media company, a postal hub or office serving a metropolitan area, or reside on Capitol Hill, a trip to the mailbox shouldn’t be like a walk down the Green Mile.
Whoever is responsible for the attacks may have a very limited supply, and even if they don’t, it’s entirely possible that they have no real desire to target just anybody anyway.
Many Middle Easterners are distraught with their own regimes, and they displace that anger by targeting the United States, the country that is in the best position to improve their situation.
Terrorist attacks are forcing the United States into a position where it has to take action to immediately and permanently change conditions in the Middle East for the better. Prior to Sept. 11, would the American public approve the use of ground troops in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban?
That is not to say that Osama bin Laden is looking out for any interests other than his own, but the willingness of his eager henchmen may be a cry for help.
Also, while speaking of keeping the anthrax threat in perspective, the news media’s coverage has occasionally drifted into the realm of the sensational, and the Centers for Disease Control have also been known to exaggerate.
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, teens were bombarded with information about AIDS. Long after they became aware of what the risks were, the programs on AIDS prevention kept on coming.
Years later, the CDC admitted that it had deliberately overstated the threat of the disease in America. And why not? No one objected to a campaign against sharing needles and casual and promiscuous sex.
So what is the average Joe to do about anthrax? There is a Buddhist saying that goes something like: If you can fix a problem, don’t worry, fix it. If you can’t fix a problem, worrying will do you no good.

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