Health Hint: Swine flu vs Zombies

Woody Harrelson in 2004Woody Fights Zombies!

In these days, you can't be too careful. When the government starts cracking down on people like Woody Harrelson, Zombie hunter, one realizes it's vital to be able to identify whether the victim is turning into a Zombie, or has Swine Flu.
Here's a helpful table:
ZombieSwine Flu
PaleSore throat
Chills and fatigueChills and fatigue
Shallow Breathing
Stage 2: 4 to 6 hour coma
Stage 3
Unresponsive to stimuliThe "case mortality" of swine flu – how many people die after being infected – is not yet known.
Hunting for brains

Likewise, Swine Flu was spread among pigs, and was known to infect people. Now it can move from person to person.
Zombism is spread through ticks or rats, and rarely infects from person to person.

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the...Image via Wikipedia

For more information on Zombies, watch the movies Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Shaun of the Dead. There are no entertaining movies about Swine Flu, although you can watch the Filthy Swine on YouTube.

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Apostrophe - A mark used with a noun or pronoun to indicate possession

Normally I'm a stickler for the oft-misused apostrophe. I cringe when I see signs like "book's for sale", and I consumed the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" in about an hour. So, when I wrote a blog entry about Farmers Markets, I was stumped. Should it be "Farmer's Markets" (one farmer runs several markets?), or "Farmers' Markets" (multiple markets owned by multiple farmers?), or "Farmers Markets" ("Farmers" is an adjective to the market, describing what kind of market it is, either selling farmers, or farmers selling things).

So, in a pinch, I decided to use the punctuation used by the markets themselves. Bzzt! Wrong answer. Hollywood Farmers' Market, for example, had the apostrophe, but the logo for the Portland Farmers Market is sans-punctuation, while this page says it's a Boring Farmer's Market. What's the deal here?

Then I came across this article on the Mother Jones website about how big guys are crowding out little guys at the markets. Pretty interesting, but the sidebar is what really caught my attention. Here's the full sidebar reprinted:
What's In An Apostrophe?
Who reads more nuance into punctuation rules than copy editors? Food activists! In the California law that has regulated farmers markets since 1977, the term contains a possessive apostrophe. Market managers who maintain the apostrophe believe it indicates that "farmers' markets" exist "for farmers and by farmers," says John Silveira, director of the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association, hastily adding he doesn't intend to besmirch those who have dropped it. Another naming convention allows farmers's market...farmers market...whatever...consumers to buy breakfast or lunch as they buy their produce. Though the Cali law limits "Certified Farmers' Market" vendors to farmers who grow all their own wares, vendors of prepared goods (who can use food from Costco or Wal-Mart) are permitted to sell at a nominally separate (but physically adjacent) market. Got it? —Alexis Fitts

So, it turns out the apostrophe is significant syntactically and, in California, legally. If you mean markets that are for farmers and by farmers, you should always write "Farmers' Markets." Once more the apostrophe strives for justice.

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Stumptown Comics Fest 2009 - Part 1

Click here to read my write-up of Jeff Smith's talk on Bone at the Stumptown Comics Fest 2009.