This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8, 2009 - knowledge nothing to sneeze at

I am understandably reluctant to wade into the health care debate again, but this is just too good to resist.

Do you want to really DO something about the state of public health? If so, then consider this: every time you sneeze, you spray some 40,000 droplets into the air at about a hundred miles an hour. It's a terrific strategy for putting lots of germs into the atmosphere. Coughing isn't much better: you again broadcast your saliva at high velocity.

But wait! you say. I always sneeze or cough into my hands!

And after that, you touch telephones, door knobs, keyboards, food, your mouth, and so on.

I could go on about this, but suffice it to say that there is a wonderful video on the Web that should be mandatory family and business viewing. Called "Why Don't We Do It In Our Sleeves" (www.coughsafe.com/media.html), this video demonstrates various strategies for coughing and sneezing. What makes it entertaining is that a panel of experts rates (on a scale from one to ten) each attempt to capture the cough or sneeze.

The rating habit is, well, infectious. I find myself doing it all the time now -- ranking both my own and other's sneezes.

It's good to train ourselves and our children in prevention of the transmission of disease. That concern is sharper than usual because of the current focus on H1N1, or the so-called "swine flu" (although it apparently has nothing to do with pigs).

And speaking of the flu, the library has created a web page pulling together a lot of information on the topic, from the pronouncements of local health officials, to national news, to various international sites. You can find the page at douglascountylibraries.org/NewsEvents/H1N1.

To tie things back into that larger context, library staff have also assembled a list of information sources on the topic of Health Care Reform. You can find that at www.douglascountylibraries.org/Research/iGuides/HealthCare. The introduction says: "The controversy swirling around proposed health care reforms can make it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, reality from rumor. Here are some online resources to help you navigate the issues."

The resources include humor (shockingly absent in much of this debate), the actual language of the federal bill now under consideration, independent research by various reputable organizations, some fact-checking of various allegations, and a round up of partisan sites. It's a good and balanced introduction to what people are saying.

I've been thinking lately that all of us are far more connected than we know. There's a downside: we provide breeding grounds for germs, we are vectors of contagion. In fact, we do so much of that, one suspects that it may be the true purpose of humankind. From the perspective of the germs, I mean.

But humans also lend one another company and comfort. In the case of the library, we pool both our laughter and our knowledge.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

LaRue's Views are his own.

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