Re: Bioplague [has Tom Clancy spoilers]

David Lubkin (
Thu, 07 Oct 1999 02:07:38 -0400

>If are asking me, I generally go by Robert (no apology required),

Whoops. Apology anyway. I am plagued by people who call me Dave, when I'm "David".

>The general anti-biowarfare argument is that it is difficult to keep
>the plague from infecting the source. ... If you weren't
>*very* careful about it (making a bioweapon expire after a certain time
>period) it wouldn't be safe for you to go anywhere on the planet.

In the Tom Clancy version of the story, the weapon is developed by a group of eco-extremists who believe mankind is a cancer. They want to kill off 99% of humanity, "so nature can flourish," and exempt themselves. They have a vaccine for themselves, and a hidey-hole. They are funded by a biotech billionaire.

I've met people like this. They're horrifying. Luckily, they also seem completely incompetent.

>Also, you have to consider that as our technology & knowledge
>increases, so does our ability to respond quickly. We have
>the sequencing capacity, X-ray machines, molecular modeling
>programs, etc. that now allow *very* rapid dissassembly
>of "new" bugs.

But how long from disassembly to cure? If we were in crisis mode -- say, one million die every day -- and could waive all the standard FDA regimen.

>In the long run however these developments are things we do need to think
>about (if you look at moves by the U.S. government they suggest they are
>aware of your scenario to some degree but aren't talking about it).

I wonder what % of their effort is aimed at prevention, what % at recovery after an incident, and what % at developing an arsenal of killer bugs they can threaten enemies with.

I wonder how aware they were of the scenario before Clancy. He seems to have come up with several ideas that were close enough to plausible to get the govt. to say, "Damn. We need to deal with this," or "Who leaked to Clancy?"

>To engineer something with the qualities required for a good bioweapon
>seems quite beyond our capabilities and knowledge at this time.

Well, that's good news anyway, for a few years. Thanks. || Unreasonable Software, Inc. || a trademark of USI:

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