Vaccine moronitude

I was shocked to learn that of our office leadership team, three out of seven have decided not to get flu shots, H1N1 or otherwise, because they feel they could just tough any flu out that happens to come along. Despite repeated and concerted efforts to explain to them that that’s not the reason getting the flu shot is important — rather, immunity to the flu will dampen and slow its spread, and prevent the thing from gaining a foothold, mutating, and wrecking herd immunity — all I get in response is, “if I get sick, I’ll stay home.” Never mind that you’re infectious to others well before you start showing symptoms (and how often have you had your first cough of an illness while in a public place? Probably most of the time!). Never mind that these people are the leadership team of the site — and complain about absenteeism regularly and loudly. And never mind that they’re engaged in a concerted “wash your hands, know the symptoms, get vaccinated” campaign presently.

The first local, free (provincially subsidized) H1N1 / regular flu clinic came this past Thursday to our neighbor town, and apparently lineups were three hours long and ended in people being turned away for lack of doses. Residents from a number of neighboring communities, some as far as two hours drive away, despite having clinics soon in their own hometowns, took it upon themselves to drive out to ours and make a run on the supply. I was planning on going to the clinic on Nov. 2, but Jodi and Opal are both still slightly sick (with a cough… hmm) so it might be worth waiting til they’re feeling better. Besides, hopefully after the first one was such a giant cluster, they’ll ramp up their dose supply and hours of operation (and staff to unclog the lineups), so the future ones will be less problematic. I understand the desire to get vaccinated, but these are obviously not the high-risk folks doing this and willing to stand in the cold for three hours — just the ones that are paranoid and willing to cut in line to save their skins out of fear that H1N1 is the new plague.

Meanwhile, in the States, a bunch of news has been happening on the vaccination front. Another study powerfully rebukes the long mythologized link between autism and the ethyl mercury that, despite the frequency, urgency and timeliness of the antivax crowd’s complaints, hasn’t been used in vaccines in over a decade. And the antivax community, headed by Generation Rescue and J. B. Handley, has begun fighting back against a Wired article about the fearmongering tactics they’ve adopted — via misogyny against its author. Also devastating to not only Orac, but myself, is the fact that respected sci-fi actor Brent Spiner has been expressing antivax sentiments. I don’t blur the line between Spiner and his character, Data, as Orac does in his article — but I guarantee you that amongst his millions of followers on Twitter are people who think Spiner is an extension of his logical, emotionless character. Given that antivax sentiment is just that — sentiment, in opposition to cold, amoral science that proves vaccinations safe — there’s got to be something expressly immoral about casting unreasonable doubt on life-saving scientific research.

I’d rant into the ether more about this, but I have to go to a Hallowe’en party now. My costume has gotten a blood upgrade, and through the night, depending on how drunk I get, the tie might double as a headband per the battle-damaged Shaun in the movie. More pics will be forthcoming.

Crab Nebula, in high detail

The Crab Nebula is famous for being the remnants of a supernova that occurred in 1056 CE. Almost seven thousand years ago (as the nebula is six thousand light years away), a star finished off the last of its fuel, and the competing forces of gravity and the nuclear fusion reaction suddenly became a very one-sided competition, blowing the outer layers of the star out into space. Gravity won out for the majority of the mass, and collapsed into an extremely dense pulsar — something the mass of our Sun but the size of a small town, that spins about thirty times a second. Those outer layers that it cast out, have been expanding steadily over the last thousand years (well, again, seven thousand, but we can’t yet see what they look like today because they’re so far away).

The retrofitted Hubble got this amazing shot. Click it to go to the original, super-high-res photo.


Hat tip to Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Curse you sudden but inevitable betrayal!

Senator Joe Lieberman, the Republican mole Independent from the “Conneticut for Lieberman” party, has stated he will become the first senator in history to break with his caucus party and filibuster any bill that has a public health insurance option.

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Seriously, does this surprise anyone besides Harry Reid at this point? The guy is the political equivalent to Grima Wormtongue. What’s the over/under on his chairmanship in the Homeland Security committee being stripped — given that he only kept by virtue of begging for it (and seniority) after leaving the Democratic ticket when he got his ass handed to him in the primary by Ned Lamont, ran against him on the independent ticket, and subsequently endorsed John McCain during the general election? Face it Reid, the man is an operative for the other party, and has been for years.

How to find H1N1 Vax Clinics in NS

You owe it to the rest of us to take it upon yourself and get vaccinated against the H1N1 “swine” flu. I mean, look at the pros and cons:


(Hat tip to The Daily Show, and to No Jesus, No Peas who screencapped this.)

It ain’t a tough choice, people. And herd immunity depends on as many conscientious citizens as possible. If you’re a Nova Scotian, here’s where to find your local clinics.

The Corporation

I’m playing this as background while I work today, though it threatens to drive me to distraction. Greg Laden is posting it a chunk at a time — he’s apparently shown it a number of times in class, so it’s gotta be worth a watch. A kind commenter linked to the whole playlist for this documentary, which I’ve embedded below.


What do you folks think of corporations?

Foxaganda Vs Olbermann/Maddow

Would that I could wave a magic wand and turn Fox “News” into an actual news station, one that doesn’t actively distort reality and organize protest marches against their home country’s government in order to undercut gains made toward providing health care to everyone by cutting out the profit-motive health insurance racket. After being explicitly targeted by Fox, along with her compatriot Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow lays the whole charade bare, and explains exactly what the difference is between a news organization with a political tilt, and a political organization with the intentionally crafted veneer of being a news organization.

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Make no mistake, Fox is not a legitimate news organization. It’s a well-funded way of disseminating only the most basic aspects of the news, packaged in such a way as to not offend the conservatives that watch it, while at the same time attempting to foment dissent against the Democratic party and the current government. I’m SO glad the Obama administration is calling them out on their disingenuity and their true status as propaganda arm of the Loyal Opposition. Maybe now they’ll either be held accountable (*snicker*), or eventually go out of business (*HAHAHA*).

Hat tip to Greg Laden. And Rachel Maddow, of course.

RCimT: Unholy Sunday

Welcome to another end-of-weekend link roundup! Your Cool Atheist of the Week is the creator/producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon.

The Onion: Is there a God?

Joss Whedon: No.

O: That’s it, end of story, no?

JW: Absolutely not. That’s a very important and necessary thing to learn.

In the writer/director commentary track to Episode 16 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5 (The Body), Joss makes the following remarks concerning his characters’ responses to death and mourning in general: “…at this time a lot of people turn to, as Tim Minear would call him, The Sky Bully, but since I don’t believe in The Sky Bully, and don’t really have that to fall back on, I haven’t really found any lessons in death other than I wish it wouldn’t.”

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