Contagion – the movie

Beryl Gorbman

Don’t miss the film, Contagion. It is a realistic look at how a virus can spread within a short time and kill millions of people if not controlled. Although it is tragic, it is ultimately a postitive message, as the World Health Organization and the CDC work madly, at personal cost, to come up with an antidote.

With Matt Damon, in a non-glamour role.

Here is a piece of mail from a person who actually works at the CDC.

hi all;
pat and i just saw the movie “contagion” — it’s REALLY worth seeing. the new yorker was not exaggerating when it called the movie brilliant (see review link below). this movie is an incredible antidote to the tea party, michelle bachman, rick perry, sara palin, and the right wing all around — but cleverly done, without being overtly political. the message is really powerful. and it might have a prayer of a chance of reaching suburban and rural america without being called socialist (maybe). the portrayal of scientists and the CDC and the WHO is outstanding. this isn’t a horror movie; it’s about reality and what government, if funded and empowered, can do to stop real disasters. let’s hope people can find more ways to reach the public with this message in the coming year.
anyway, i highly recommend you all see it. it really raises my spirits to see someone portray so perfectly why government and science matters, and why the move towards dismantling science and public health and infrastructure and education is so dangerous — all in the guise of hollywood entertainment.
and the science is great too. i especially liked the last scene in which they show how destruction of the environment led to contact between species that DON’T normally interact, which ultimately led, in just a few steps to a pandemic.

here are some excerpts of what the new yorker review said — they are right on target:

“Contagion” confronts reality head on; it’s a brief against magical thinking. Soderbergh and his screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns, may not have intended it, but their movie could become an event in an ongoing political debate over the nature of American life….

Contagion” is, of course, a 9/11-anniversary movie, though probably not one that the public was expecting. Soderbergh appears to be saying, “I’ll show you something far worse than a terrorist attack, and no fundamentalist fanatic planned it.” The film suggests that, at any moment, our advanced civilization could be close to a breakdown exacerbated by precisely what is most advanced in it. And the movie shows us something else: heroic work by scientists and Homeland Security officials. We can’t help noticing that with two exceptions—a French doctor who works for the World Health Organization (Marion Cotillard) and a renegade epidemiologist in San Francisco (Elliott Gould)—the heroes are all employees of the federal government, and instinctively factual people. No one prays, no one calls on God. “Contagion” lacks any spiritual dimension—except for its passionate belief in science and rational administration. The movie says: When there’s real trouble, we’re in the hands of the reality-based community. No one else matters.”

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2011/09/19/110919crci_cinema_denby?currentPage=all

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/09/bachmanns-political-contagion.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/12/opinion/the-real-threat-of-contagion.html

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
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9 Responses to Contagion – the movie

  1. Linda Ortega says:

    I love the pics in the chicken coop story , They make me sentimental to return to Merida ,,
    Fresh eggs are so much better protein than the eggs available in Merida that do not seem to need refrigeration

  2. Kinbote says:

    “Fresh eggs are so much better protein than the eggs available in Merida that do not seem to need refrigeration…”

    Am I the only person who reads this blog who has traveled to Europe?

    I constantly hear the author of this blog and a number of her readers screeching about unrefrigerated eggs and what a dirty, disgusting place Mexico is for not refrigerating them, but a number of far less “disgusting” places, including France, Austria, Italy, even Germany for Christ’s sake, also commonly store eggs at room temperature.

    In fact, the USDA is one of few food safety organizations that feels that once the egg exits the chicken it becomes a ticking time bomb that explodes if its temperature exceeds 40 degrees Fahrenheit, kind of like the movie Speed.

    Perhaps we should just keep the chickens in the refrigerator? Or freeze them? Can a frozen chicken lay eggs? It would probably be safer.

    Also, I ate raw eggs once. In France. On top of raw beef. Am I doomed? Or just untouchable? Or both?

    • BG says:

      When I lived in Japan, I ate a raw egg every morning, mixed with cold rice, shoyu, and norimaki seaweed – a typical Japanese breakfast. And today I got fresh eggs from Jessie’s chickens and look forward to mixing one with rice, etc. tomorrow. Japan refrigerates eggs. If showed my friend Minako an unrefrigerated egg, she would quietly ditch it in the trash.
      And I remember buying eggs in the refrigerator case in Paris some years ago when we lived in an apartment for a few weeks.
      Kinbote – come on. Do I really screech? And when have I ever implied that Mexico is disgusting? Perhaps you are confusing me with some local windbag doctor.
      What do you do when you catch a fresh fish or slaughter a chicken? Do you truck it around for several weeks, let it sit in a warehouse, and finally schlep it to the supermarket and put it in the fish aisle? No. It is perishable organic protein, just like an egg.

      • Kinbote says:

        “What do you do when you catch a fresh fish or slaughter a chicken? Do you truck it around for several weeks, let it sit in a warehouse, and finally schlep it to the supermarket and put it in the fish aisle? No. It is perishable organic protein, just like an egg.”

        But see, this statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why the USDA wants eggs refrigerated in the first place. Of course it is a perishable protein, but the reasoning behind refrigerating eggs is to slow the growth of salmonella, if it happens to be one that has salmonella (estimated to be around 1 in 20,000 eggs.)

        And guess what happens to salmonella when the egg is cooked?

        It dies.

        In a way, I have more faith in the unrefrigerated eggs I see in the markets here because I know they are fresh enough that they haven’t spoiled and they probably haven’t been sitting on the shelf for very long.

        Have you ever purchased eggs in Mexico only to take them home and find that they are rotten? I haven’t. But I have purchased rotten eggs in the United States.

        And I’m sure you did buy eggs from a refrigerator case in Paris, but what I said was that eggs are commonly stored at room temperature in France, not always. There are plenty of stores in France, even very cute and prissy little organic markets, the kinds of places where those who enjoyed the book Eat Pray Love would likely cream their mom jeans to shop, that don’t store eggs in the refrigerator.

        http://www.ochef.com/1103.htm

  3. Kinbote says:

    Also… “trucked around for several weeks?” Are the drivers just taking the eggs for a spin around the pereferico? Do they take the eggs to see Uxmal?

    Have you not noticed that there are several Crio and Bachoco facilities in the neighboring villages, and a Crio plant down by the airport? Do you realize how absolutely, laughably, crazy you sound? I’d be willing to bet money that the journey from cloaca to store shelf is seldom more than 72 hours. And you know what? I bet lots of eggs in the United States spend that much time before they make it to refrigeration.

    I sure hope you’re including free refrigerators with those chickens you’re giving out, otherwise a lot of poor people are going to die thanks to your reckless egg distribution plan.

  4. Kinbote says:

    Also, re: Japan

    Commenter Tokyojean on this article has this to say:

    tokyojean
    Mar. 24, 2010 9:12 pm
    I’m always confused about the necessity to refrigerate fresh eggs. I lived in Japan for 25 years and fresh eggs in grocery stores are never stored in a refrigerator – they sit in the aisles with other non-refrigerated food. And I’ve never heard of any egg-related illnesses in Japan. Why the big worry about refrigerating eggs in this country??

    OH MY GOD SOMEONE ALERT THE JAPANESE AUTHORITIES!!!!

    Sorry I’m ranting here, but I’ve heard you people rant about this for so long and I’ve finally cracked.

    And by the way, you do imply that Mexico is disgusting when you carry on about this. Or that Mexicans are stupid. Or ignorant. If they weren’t stupid/ignorant/disgusting, why would they be doing this thing which you claim is so incredibly unsanitary and unsafe? What other impression could you possibly have of this place?

  5. Martin L. says:

    Is this fellow Kinbote having a terrible day. Jesus, dude, it’s only eggs. Go to the beach and get drunk.
    Your interpretion of the blogger’s opinions about egg refrigeration do NOT equal her thinking that Mexicans are stupid. (Although she might, I don’t know.) Every country has blind spots. The US has the death penalty. Saudi Arabia doesn’t let women drive, among other things. The French forbid veils in public. Japan photographs incoming foreigners at the airport. Everyone is stupid and disgusting, even you.

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