The Invisible Life of Homo erectus

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MILWAUKEE, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ — Worries about the H1N1 virus haven’t changed most Americans’ hand washing habits, says a national survey by Bradley Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial bathroom and locker room furnishings.

In Bradley’s first Healthy Hand Washing Survey, 54 percent said they “wash their hands no more or less frequently” in public restrooms since the H1N1 virus emerged.

“We were extremely surprised by that response especially since the medical community calls hand washing the best defense against the spread of cold and flu viruses,” says Jon Dommisse, director of marketing and product development at Bradley Corporation. link

And this is why I think we, as a nation, are doomed.

If it isn’t happening actively to us personally at a given moment, we take our ease. It is a paradox to me that a single American uses a seat belt before they have left the edge of the cliff at 80 mph. We have become the Wile E. Coyote Nation.

But in our defense, I mean really: if this stuff is so dangerous, why can’t we see it? We’re great believers in the Power of Natural Selection, and surely, if our species was threatened with individual and collective extinction, we’d have by now evolved the ability to see those things in our lives that are so fatally threatening.

I can see it now, how we could have taken a different path when climbing down out of those African savanna trees and getting better posture:

Our eyes see it all: The more of it, the darker it is. CO2 is yellow, flu viruses are purple and stupidity is brown.

Dear god, I’m going back up in the tree and wait this one out!

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Don’t we all wish we could go back to a tree and wait this one out. In a related scenario I read recently the results of a Pew Poll where only 57% of Americans believe climate change exists (as compared to 77% two years ago) and only 33% believe it is a serious event that will impact their lives (as compared to 45% two years ago). Yikes! Egad! Now that is sticking the head in the proverbial sand if I ever have seen it.


  2. Well…if I were to take the survey I would have answered “no more or no less,” but that’s because I always wash my hands thoroughly in public restrooms and elsewhere. I wonder how many people would fit into that category with me? Statistics are always a bit misleading.

  3. I have to agree with Jes about statistics being misleading – I’m fairly certain that my hand washing habits haven’t changed due to H1N1. However, I’m a bit if a germophobe to begin with, and have always overdone the handwashing a bit. It would be difficult (and perhaps a bit pathological) for me to wash my hands more frequently.