The movie “28 Days Later” is in theaters presently, and it’s pretty creepy. A rabies-like virus gets loose in London and the results aren’t pretty. The film is definitely not for the squeamish, and fully deserves its “R” rating.

As I watched, however, I alternated between the standard critique of sci-fi /horror movies’ decision-making – (“Don’t drive into the tunnel, you dummy!”) – and some flights into fancy about the various viruses that could get loose here in the United States.

After all, England’s an island and can be quarantined, but if some of our home-grown viruses jump borders, we’d all be toast. Just think about the consequences of a rapid spread of:

  • The California Virus: The infected spend, and spend, and spend and never stop spending until bankruptcy overtakes them and all credit cards are cancelled.

  • The Gray Davis Virus: The infected stare blankly into middle space for five years and then curl up under the nearest desk.

  • The Carville Virus: We have all seen the effects of the Carville virus, and it isn’t pretty.

  • The Dowd Virus: Usually misdiagnosed as simple neurosis in its early stages, the infected displays dramatic increases in bitter and asocial behavior, accompanied by screeching.

  • The Hillary Virus: The infected assert as fact statements which ordinary individuals know to be false, and are rendered oblivious to the obvious about those closest to them.

  • The Lileks Virus: Best viewed at a distance at, the infected collect garage-fulls of memorabilia from the ’30s and ’40s. Second stage is marked by the collection of cats.

  • The Free Republic Virus: Also best viewed in person at, the infected spend scores of hours a week in front of computer screens, often laughing with abandon when not typing maniacally.

  • The Dean Virus: The infected display periods of pugnacious arrogance punctuated by unctuousness and appeals for financial support.

  • The Kucinich Virus: Too awful to describe outside of professional circles.

  • The Jennings Virus: The infected develop a perpetual sneer that grows more pronounced whenever President George Bush is discussed.

  • The Kerry Virus: The infected are utterly humorless, are aware that they are utterly humorless, and believe utter humorlessness to be a virtue.

  • The Gephardt Virus: The infected display symptoms of fatigue and apathy as they go through the motions of their jobs.

  • The Raines Virus: The infected suddenly collapse. Easily confused with the Donahue virus, where the infected collapse slowly, over a period of months.

  • The Edwards Virus: The infected display progressive invisibility that is apparent to all but themselves.

  • The Los Angeles Times Virus: The infected lose all ability to communicate except out of the left side of their mouths.

The list goes on, of course, with even more horrific viruses that seem likely to fade from our sight soon, like the Rather Virus and the Byrd Virus. The worst virus of all, however – the Bill Virus – remains abroad and uncontained.

The good news is that there are competing viruses, which do the carrier good. The most important is the W Virus: Those lucky enough to catch it just get stronger and stronger.

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