Desperate measures at HHS. They want to talk to you.

A new experiment in flu communications was noted yesterday by my wiki partner and fellow blogger (The Next Hurrah) DemFromCT over at the mega-blog, DailyKos:

Recognizing the need for people to take pandemic flu preparations more seriously, and recognizing that blogging is a powerful and effective two-way communications tool, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt is hosting a Pandemic Flu Leadership Conference in Washington DC on June 13, to which I've been invited (based on work done at Flu Wiki and here). And as part of the effort to reach as many people as possible, a blog has been set up to discuss the conference's theme pre-and post-gathering. (DemFromCT at DailyKos)

You can read Dem's first post on the Leadership blog here. The whole thing blog will only be up for five weeks and will likely get modest to moderate traffic. But as Dem points out, it is a major departure from usual practice:

While it won't get the traffic that this place does, think about what it represents... a government department is asking for feedback from the public on an issue that the public may have as much expertise on as the Feds, at least in some aspects of preparation.


Public health authorities are trying to reach as many segments of the population as they possibly can.

And while we're at it, you need to appreciate the irony of a Daily Kos front pager being introduced by an administration cabinet appointee, and being supplied an uncensored platform to speak my mind on the issue of pandemic preparedness. Let's just say that won't happen very often, and probably not in any other field than public health... but the issue is that real, of that importance, and warrants their taking the risk.

Ironies indeed abound in this effort from an administration that has killed Irony so many times it amounts to irony genocide. They must be desperate indeed. But desperate times require desperate measures.

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I just skipped over to the blog for a quick scan. It's little more than an extension of the current forums. Same posters saying the same things.

Maybe additional traffic will be generated in the coming days and weeks, but so far, it appears not to be drawing many new perspectives into the mix.

Too bad.


You belittle us, Revere. A lot of us folk--especially those of us who are excluded from the mainstream for various reasons, or who have been driven off the web for 'opining while female'--have been writing and phoning and urging for *years* for the web to be used for input into this issue.

Its all very nice and well that DemFromCT gets all the credit and glory here, but there have been a lot more people than just you guys trying to get HHS to listen to public opinion, and it shouldn't be seen as an act of 'desperation' if they finally attempt to listen to us.

"The Authorities" cannot solve this problem. This problem requires a decentralized solution. I don't see this as desperation but as a recognition that the nature of the problem REQUIRES an engaged and interactive solution rather than a top-down decree or 'the Public' awaiting 'rescue' by 'authorized rescue personnel'.

By Lisa the GP (not verified) on 23 May 2007 #permalink

First Revere, congratulations. You saw a problem what? 2.5 years ago and got a ball rolling with EM. The fact that they acknowledged your presence and Dems is great. Lisa has also hit a homer with her analogy of the ultimate problem and this is that the authorities cannot solve this problem. Its going to have to be resolved by our population and individually. Everyone is going to have to aim in the same direction or the results could be horrendous.

It was like a problem in housing for Katrina, there simply werent enough "authorized personnel" to put up tents, or administer trailers. So it was done fast, dirty and without regard for normal BF would be. We cant have people standing in front of cameras and saying, "The conditions we are being forced to live in are intolerable." That from a couple in the lower 9th that was washed out of their home and were being forced to stay in the Astrodome. I think that these types are going to be the first to go in a pandemic of BF.

Lisa's "authorized personnel" is just right on the target. E.g. if there were even enough tents to put up in a Great New Madrid Earthquake and using only the "authorized" people, it was going to take 5 years just to put them up working 12 hour shifts and that was if there were enough tents. People used to do for themselves and take what happened in stride, now its the government doing for them and getting harped on when it doesnt work out. This one though will kill millions and governments will locally collapse even if its 5%. The Federal and State governments will still be there but in name only in many cases. New York, New Jersey, California, Mass, Rhode Island, Penn, Delaware, Texas maybe, Florida are all going to be subjected to a real task at even 5%. It could do them at 8%. Its simply due to the concentration of people. Leavitt has obviously started reading his inbox.

SO HOW DO WE GET PEOPLE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEMSELVES BEFORE BF COMES? I know you want this and DAILYKOS to be able to snipe if it comes. Might I suggest that you become an "authorized purveyor of simple information" There is an automatic distrust of government and has been since Roosevelt and the Trinity project for anything the government tells us. Okay, so suggest that they set up people both Dem/Rep and multiple sites across the US and use what DARPANET was originally intended for.... a situation in which information couldnt be passed if a nuke/bio/chem situation occured. Duh! To fight in a combat situation we had something call C3 and I. Command, control, communications, intelligence. An EM type of blog that people could tag up without listening to the hype and general comments that snipe would be most useful. They will be there anyway but not if the power aint on. Beefing up a government provided but administrated by an "authorized purveyor" of information would be of immense help. It could also direct resources directly to problems. Since the system is hard wired, there would be much less of a chance of it falling down during a wave. I hate to think that the US might be stuck with cellphone technology during a pandemic.

Yep a blog with specific moderators would be great. Medical, home repair, food preparations, how to store food or better how not to, access to "Where there is no Doctor." People are going to have to be able to treat family at home. Doctors that are retired or have the time in between can answer questions, along with people that can tell people "how to" if it gets really bad. How to dispose of bodies, on line school teaching and the equipment and mechanism is right in front of us. They could come up with a national curriculum for school rather than a state one that every state could use.

We have a great tool in the internet. Keeping that up is going to be the most important thing if it comes. Desperate? Revere I think they know its coming and that there simply isnt a thing we can do about it. 5% is now the 60% and beyond at 83% for the rolling year average. Could they have planned better for the last 20 years? Without a doubt, they could have spent more money but the outcomes will only be marginally different and everyone here at least has a Katrina mentality. 5% is what we are told and this aint whats happening. People want to do something but they dont know what. It is as I said in a previous post and that is the participants here are far better briefed on what is happening, what is rumor, what isnt than anywhere in the world. It was a natural progression and what you have done is created a beneficial monster, your traffic apparently is near 500,000 per day.

So what could you tell Leavitt? Nearly every bit of training the military and civilian side has told us a few things and first is to assess the situation. Lacking someone of higher rank than you are-take command and control of the problems. Communicate the sitrep to higher authority along with your needs. Finally with assistance and concurrence of the higher authority provide supply, support to the higher efforts. Each on site commander is expected always show the leadership to ensure that a favorable outcome is the result. If one falls, another takes his place until the situation reaches a state of equilibrium or tips in your favor.

I cant think of anyone that I would rather have serving the interests of the people Revere and its a great opportunity to do just that. If the civilian side holds then the military doesnt get wheeled out. The absolute last thing that I would ever want to see is the US Dept of Defense in charge of the civilians. You know my feelings on that so get in there and do that thing you have been doing here for a long time. Gives you a great opportunity to tell him your feelings on taking off your shoes at the airport too!

By M. Randolphh Kruger (not verified) on 23 May 2007 #permalink

Lisa, speaking for many folks, has hit the proverbial on the head: "A lot of us folk -- especially those of us who are excluded from the mainstream for various reasons, or who have been driven off the web for 'opining while female'[or OUT GenX gay] -- have been writing and phoning and urging for *years* for the web to be used for input into this issue."

Just a couple of days ago I emailed John Benitez's (studio producer of Madonna's hit "Holiday") record company to receive all the lastest news and updates from Jellybean Recordings. This required me to give the folks at JB some personal info about myself...

EM -- Desperate measures at HHS. They want to talk to you.

Oh, the Australian gov wanted to "talk to me" in the late 90s and early years of this century in order to have me (((BRANDED))) as mentally ill for considering a H2H H5 pandemic likely!

JB Question -- Tell us about yourself: Existence as a freelance H5N1 avian flu research analyst is akin to living the life of a homosexual Jew midst the rise of Nazi Germany.

From involuntary incarceration in an inbred smalltown
psychiatric institution (drugged against my will), to
no money for food or accommodation -- ie. Centrelink
(Australian social security) blocking me from their
system, forcing me to sleep in a park and steal bread and milk from city office buildings.

I've literally seen the worst and best in people as a
"pandemic movie" has unfolded over the last decade...

Midst the traumatic time of 9/11 2001, I was usually
found perched on a library computer doing my research
thang. Due to my early 30s agebracket, OUT sexuality
and smalltown existence, I was not taken seriously in
both a personal and work related context.

Indeed, I was viewed as a "simpleton" for expressing
both an "outside the box" scientific explanation of
and sociopolitical overview of H5N1. Most people in
my life (intimate and non) made the conscious choice
to perceive me as "nuts" for believing a disaster was
just round the corner...

Due to reading many articles on genetic modification,
my new transgenic DNA worldview perceived the genesis
linkage between H5N1, speedily recombining itself to
cross-infect many lifeforms, vis a vis the mid 1990s
onward release of genetically modified crops.

But for the defective CaMV viral promoter technology
contained within GM products, H5N1 would probably not
exist as a viable threat in the early 21st Century.

Yes, back in 1997, I had an instinct-based belief a
vast number of people were shortly going to die in a
rather painful manner -- it's as bloody strange and
dramatic as that, actually.

During this time, my then lover, family, friends, the
government, homophobic WA police, psychiatrists, etc,
did not understand my world view primarily cos they
had not digested the same global media sources...

It was the beginning of a paradigmatic seachange and
my early views were officially considered "chemical
induced delusions" -- how odd, I had no psychoactives
(eg. THC) in my blood when an Australian psychiatrist
misdiagnosed me as suffering drug induced delerium...

By Jon Singleton (not verified) on 23 May 2007 #permalink

Mel-I do but its a pretty rough site. As I told Dem from CT I was personally disparaged from something that was posted last year, that I didnt post and it was informational only to the person I sent it to because she had kids in harms way. It later turned out that there was some disinformation given out relating to a sick child by an official. The child later died but no one could determine if it was BF because the death certificate read "respiratory failure." I do my best not to disparage anyone if I can help it. It just creates bad vibes and I dont do that.

What I speak of would be not a blog but an information distribution and a government operated site with volunteers in various fields and like the left side of this here blog. How do I fix a leak? I have ice dams on the roof. My kid has 103.5 and suspected H5N1 can you get me an ambulance? Wikie doesnt do that Mel that I am aware of. It has actually happened cross border and continents two years ago during an attack in Korea on a woman. Couldnt make the phone but she had a keyboard.

Since it would be a government site, no ads on the side or tracking programs... Revere has seen personally how that could be done. But Wikie aint DARPANET Mel, they wouldnt ever be able to run it like it was a blog.

Nope, Wiki is good when there is something good to post up over there. After a day or two they get into name calling and are not very nice. It would have to radically and fundamentally change to do what I am speaking of and the government isnt going to take over a private site. Anyone got the number to Halliburton?????? He-he.... I couldnt resist.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 23 May 2007 #permalink

Randy: Not sure what wiki you've been visiting, but what you describe is the antithesis of what goes on at Flu Wiki. I've been following FW for about 18 months (old and new wiki) and have NEVER seen anyone call another names.

There are conflicts on occasion. Once such conflict resulted in a split off and the formation of PFI, which has turned into a good resource in its own right. But never, never, have I heard of or seen anyone calling or being called names. In fact, it's so friendly over there with so much chit chat it's almost like tea time with the Church Lady on slow news days.

Are you sure you're not confusing Flu Wiki with another forum?

Feel free to hit me at Nancy and I'll give you a huge lowdown on it. I will say it was part of the prior Wiki though from the change over from last year.

Look I dont get pissed about many things but I took a lot of heat for something not of my making and it spilled over to EM. I actually had to warn a few people that making false statements were actionable, especially since they werent posted in anything other than a private email. Angry didnt cover it but I didnt blow my stack here or anywhere else.

And for the record Nancy they are a pretty nasty lot that likes to read themselves for the better part. The go on and on and on about the most slightest of things. They rarely back them up.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 23 May 2007 #permalink


That's harsh. Arguments occur on all of the flu boards. Sometimes they do get nasty... but not to the extent you seem to perceive. I myself have been victim to the whims of the board owners for perceived wrongdoing. But I have never seen what you are saying happen.

I think the HHS effort is a mixed bag with possibly a good outcome... time will tell.
I have posted there, have you?

The HHS effort may be a way of providing a forum where the managers can trust their employees are able to attract just the people who can provide the information they actually need or want, and where they can limit digression and keep a focus on the subject -- if so I wish them the best of luck.

If they end up just replicating opinions frequently posted elsewhere, I dunno.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 23 May 2007 #permalink

Nancy don't you have to be registered at DailyKos to post comments? More than once I've wanted to leave a comment on a diary, but I didn't want to join to do so. That may be part of why it looks like the usual suspects.

Goju-It was bad enough that I contacted Dem from CT and advised them of the problem. Use of a blog to spread libel even if its someone elses comments falls under the laws of just about every state. He agreed and changed the conduct rules for the newer version of Wiki. The worded language changed to ensure that they understood that they wouldnt be allowed to do so. Even so it still broaches up on it over there and over the most mindless of things.

Harsh is when you wake up 12 hours after posting a private email to someone and then finding it being shredded on fluwikie and I didnt post it up there. There was no argument, it was pure bullshit and threatening also post of that. I dont take threats and then following some people back to their own blogs, they were happily libeling me without justification, cause other than being jerks, and certainly not from anything that I put up on there.

ROE requires that you advise the blog owners of what is going on, then you submit a letter to the host ISP. They all have attorneys. Six of the bloggers were warned not by me but by the ISP owners that they would have their accounts terminated immediately if they didnt cease. The posting person apologized up and down so I dont blame them but the others just took the bit in their mouths and ran and ran and ran with it. So I dont think you quite understand.


And by the way I think that Hank is right and that is the way they are thinking about it. Kind of like a call in repairman for cars, transportation, BF, snow, emergency calls, surival, how to skin a deer. Could get as bad as that but we can always wish that it doesnt. But if they had as many headers on the left as Revere does here, it would be tremendously helpful.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 23 May 2007 #permalink

caia: You do have to register at DailyKos but you can use any name you want and any email address, so it isn't very invasive.