Boston has always struck me as a hysteria-prone city in its odd misconception of itself as being the center of some alternate universe. It's only fairly recently that the local media stopped using the word "Hub" (as in hub of the universe) as a synonym for "Boston."
I'm serious. A headline in a parody newspaper once said:
2 Hub Men Die in Blast;
New York Also Destroyed
Boston being the hub of the universe, or at least solar system, was an idea that came from Oliver Weldell Holmes, and evidently he meant it sarcastically, according to the Boston Weblog Universal Hub.
Anyway, as the rest of the actual universe continues to mostly chill and keep things in perspective after the scattered outbreaks of swine-flu hysteria, the Boston Herald newspaper offers up this bizarre lede on its flu story today:
"Swine flu continued its relentless march through the Bay State yesterday as four new confirmed cases and nearly a dozen suspected cases emerged yesterday, in addition to a 9-year-old boy who was hospitalized after contracting the deadly virus.
"From airlines to universities, drastic steps were carried out yesterday in an effort to control the spread of the new influenza that has sickened 141 people nationally in 19 states. A United Airlines flight from Munich to Washington, D.C., was diverted to Logan International Airport after a passenger complained of “flulike symptoms” and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for treatment, officials said."
Uh, hello: Everybody in the actual universe is laughing about the drastic overreaction in diverting that flight to Boston yesterday because some woman on board said she didn't feel well. Turned out she ... just didn't feel well. But was she one of the "nearly a dozen suspected cases" that "emerged yesterday," creating such alarm for the easily alarmed Boston Herald?
Over at the Boston Globe, a reader commenting on its story about the diverted aircraft claimed he had been on it. He wrote:
"I was on that plane. I got a nice yellow handout that told me, 'You may have been exposed to SWINE FLU during your travels' It even has a checklist of symptoms and a chart for me to keep track of my temperature 2 times each day for the next 7 days. It also says, 'If you do not get sick after 7 days [then] you may go to work or school and continue your normal activities.' Sounds like I get the week off."