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[afro-nets] Supercourse Newsletter, October 30, 2005

 
 
Supercourse Newsletter, October 30, 2005
----------------------------------------
 
http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/
 
Halloween Edition of the Supercourse... don?t be afraid!!
 
Dear Friends:
 
Q: Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?
A: Because he didn't have any guts.
 
Pakistan:
Our work to use epidemiology and Internet technologies to help 
the kids in Pakistan is working. Drs. Khawar Kazmi and and Ali 
Ardalan have joined Soni Dodani. Ali and others have generated 4 
outstanding, state of the art lectures on Earthquakes. We will 
be distributing his lecture titled ?Earthquake in Pakistan, Oct. 
8, 2005?. It is a wonderful lecture that presents the best pos-
sible information concerning the science of disasters, and how 
this relates to the horrible earthquake in Pakistan. The kids 
are still scared, as Khawar indicated as they still are feeling 
the rumblings of earthquakes through out Pakistan. As seen on 
Pakistani TV, floors of school buildings crashed killing dozens 
of kids. They also saw kids their own age dying or horribly 
maimed being pulled from building. This has lead to a fear, and 
a perceived risk that if they go to school, they will die. 
 
We want children to understand that earthquakes are acts of na-
ture, and there are seismologic reasons why they occur. In addi-
tion, we as epidemiologists want to present risk estimates so 
people realize that earthquakes, even a massive one as in Paki-
stan, are rare events. For example, Khawar showed that in the 
past 10 years about 1,500,000 people died of heart attacks, 
where as 40,000 died in the earthquake. Earthquakes are sudden, 
deadly, and in the news. However, the actually mortality risk 
over a 10 year period is less than 3% that of CHD, yet Paki-
stanis, and people world wide fear dying of an earthquake much 
more than dying of a heart attack. Moreover, kids are afraid to 
go to school. We want to help them understand the science of 
what happened, and help them to understand their fears so that 
they do not become emotionally ?stunted? about school and about 
science. 
 
Khawar is now working the teacher?s networks so that we can be-
gin to push the lectures forward. We have virtually no resources 
so we will target the schools have are connected to the Inter-
net, which is likely around 10-20% of the 54,000,000 children 
which represents 5-10 million children. Khawar just reported 
that he has talked with some of the teachers groups and they are 
quite excited about the project. We are soon starting our dis-
tribution system and will keep you posted.
 
Lecture of the week:
 
Influenza: An Impending Pandemic 
http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/lec21431/index.htm
 
Whether you are located in the US, UK, Russia or rural China, 
the fear of avian flu is creeping up from your TV screen, Inter-
net, radio, or word of mouth. We see dead chickens in garbage 
bags in Asia, and Turkey. Avian flu is really hot. What is avian 
flu? Is it as dangerous as it sounds? Rachid Chotani from Johns 
Hopkins university is aiming to give us the answer in his Just 
in Time lecture "Influenza: An Impending Pandemic" accessible at 
http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/lec21431/index.htm Interest-
ingly, despite having 10 events with influenza pandemic poten-
tial in the past few decades, we were fortunate not to experi-
ence full blown flu pandemic in the past 35 years! We have addi-
tional JIT lectures on this topic: "Avian Influenza Zoonosis" 
http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/lec13521/index.htm and "Bird 
Flu" http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/lec13421/index.htm We 
have several other excellent lectures just on influenza itself. 
Please visit the Supercourse website for more information. 
Faina Linkov reporting.
 
Q: Why did the vampire need mouthwash?
A: She had bat breath.
 
Fall: 
This is the peak of Autumn, and this year is exceptionally beau-
tiful. Despite nature coming at us with Katrina, Rita, and 
earthquakes, fall is so beautiful in Western Pennsylvania, you 
should come and visit. The leaves practically glow - yellow, 
green, and orange. The squirrels (and of course the turkeys) are 
fat as pigs. Walking outside is fantastic as it is just above 
freezing and you can smell the wood fires, especially this year 
as the price per liter of gas is about the same as a one caret 
diamond. It is a most beautiful time of year, but a little sad 
as we enter into the cold of winter.
 
Q: Why don't monsters eat clowns?
A: Because they taste funny.
 
Have a Happy Halloween! Best regards from your friends in Pitts-
burgh and world wide.
 
Ron, Faina, Mita, Soni, Eugene, Dracula, Ali, Arlene, Saida, 
Anna, Frankenstein, Tom, Francois, Khawar, Nat, Julia

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