#1 daughter called me yesterday.

“I read your blog,” she said. She continued kindly, “Are you feeling a little whiny today?”

I was. Though I considered going to bed for the day, instead I did my blogs, went and got a filling (I was whiny there, too. I’m not usually. I am usually stoical. Oh well),  plied the Dark Art a bit, and plunged right into hookworms.

hookworm_teeth Metaphorically speaking.

At right you see a photo of a hookworm. “Note the teeth,” said the caption of this picture. Seems a bit unnecessary, really.

I’m actually writing about the eradication of hookworm from the American South, where it was a real problem. The Rockefeller Foundation got going on this at the beginning of the 20th century.

Reading about their process, you have to be impressed with how organized and thorough these people were. You want to get rid of hookworm? Okay. We know how people get it. We know that there will be some challenges. So let’s attack this on a number of fronts. We’ll map the creeks, use some new technology (motion pictures), change some customs, build new privies, test everyone, medicate everyone who’ll cooperate, require shoes for school children. At the same time, we’ll do door-to-door education for the people, using a wide range of tactics.

Hookworm was gone within a surprisingly short time. Alongside the end of hookworm came a rise in school attendance and in income across the South.

Where did the people who could accomplish that go? Where were they when Katrina came about? Where were they when we were working on AIDS, illiteracy, smoking? Why do we just get inept prats?

This is what I asked #1 daughter when she called. I don’t think it’s possible to read about hookworm eradication without comparing the efficiency of that process with things commissions do now. Obesity among children? We’ll cut out all PE, put vending machines into the schools, and weigh the kids every year. High gas prices? We’ll make speeches. Global warming? Hey, let’s just pretend it’s not happening. That’ll work.

#1 daughter said it was economics. There was a clear economic benefit to getting rid of hookworm. One of the main symptoms of hookworm is lassitude and in severe cases mental deficiency. The industrialists of a century ago figured they’d get better workers if they could get rid of hookworm. There was no hookworm industry supporting the parasite, and no ineffective privy industry fighting against the building of sanitary outhouses.

I also had a call yesterday from the college in the Next County, offering me a Tuesday/Thursday class, so I’ll be doing that. I have orientation on Saturday, and my first class two weeks from yesterday. I think I’ll have to buy some clothes. Possibly even shoes. We’ll see. I still have to pay for various family members’ dental work and my website.

I’m a bit excited about my website. I saw the Photoshop mock-up on Monday and it looked good, and I sent in the content last Friday. Yesterday, I typed my name in at Google and my website came up as number one.

Last week, a client site came up as #1 for my name, which isn’t really supposed to happen. My own site’s being up there now means that the Computer Guy has programmed the site from the mock-up. I checked and found that he had also gotten it indexed with all three major search engines.

It is his position that really good design will do your SEO for you. It is my position that it requires marketing, too. SEO and SEM go hand in hand, I say. His new site has some challenges when it comes to search and I just plain told him that design wouldn’t be enough when we discussed his content. I delivered really good content, mind you, but I was convinced that he couldn’t expect the results he wants without IRL marketing and linkbuilding and publicity and maybe a little online social marketing as well.

I could be wrong. I may just have underestimated him. Getting to number one before even having the site go live is pretty impressive.

I think part of this is that I generally work with sites that don’t have very good design. I can still get them up there for search. Proper SEO design together with proper SEO content and SEM?

We might be as good as the hookworm eradication people.