They didn’t have the proper protective equipment

NPR’s Goats and Soda blog reports that more than 360 African health workers died of Ebola this year. It has photos of 36 of them, a poignant collection.

More than 360 African health workers died of Ebola this year. Some of them made headlines around the world, such as Dr. Umar Sheik Khan, the Sierra Leonean physician who treated more than 100 Ebola patients before contracting the disease himself. [Read more…]

Rupert Murdoch would make a lovely gardener

New Internationalist has a terrific interview with Kate Smurthwaite. I’ll just give you a couple of highlights to make you want to read the whole thing.

If you could banish one person from the earth, who would it be and why?

No-one, that’s too cruel a punishment. Really that’s the death penalty, in a way. I don’t think harsh punishments achieve anything. We should be rehabilitating people. Rupert Murdoch would make a lovely gardener. Jeremy Clarkson could drive a Meals On Wheels van. Katie Hopkins could teach spin classes. [Prime Minister David] Cameron and [Chancellor of the Exchequer George] Osbourne could pick up litter. Although that might lead to a massive rise in people dropping bags of their own faeces as litter.

[Read more…]

They tried to out-Catholic each other

Donal O’Keefe at urges repeal of the Eight Amendment.

I’m in my mid-forties and the early 1980s were the backdrop of my early teens. I have odd, snapshot recollections of the time. I remember those frantic men and women with their rosary beads and their placards of aborted foetuses and the mania that seemed to grip the country. It was a very strange time in Ireland.

I remember Garret and Charlie like Saint George and the Dragon, seemingly locked in eternal conflict for the Taoiseach’s job, and I remember 1983, the year after GUBU, when they tried to out-Catholic each other as both agreed to support the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign’s amendment to outlaw abortion. [Read more…]

One reason not to carry a loaded gun in a handbag

This is a sick country.

A young mother was shot and killed by her 2-year-old son today in an Idaho Walmart, police said.

Lt. Stu Miller of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said that the boy was sitting in the shopping cart when pulled the handgun from his mom’s purse and pulled the trigger. The victim, whose name hasn’t been released, was 29 years old.

Walmart of course sells guns among other things. One-stop shopping – you can buy a gun there and get shot with it in one easy trip.

Vocal fry with hash browns

So, I’ve learned something. I’d never head of “vocal fry” until I read that Slate piece, so I had to look it up. Apparently it’s big among the Kardashians. (I wonder if it’s also big among Rachel Zoe [who – gasp – dresses Kardashians omg!!] too. She’s like a walking textbook of bizarre vocal affectations – I bet she does vocal fry all the time.)

I’d never heard of it, but I recognized it when I watched this. Oh that; right.

Guest post: Pedram Razghandi on vaccination and resurgent pathogens

There’s a heated discussion of vaccinations on a Facebook thread of mine, on which Pedram made such informative comments in response to a claim that whooping cough was coming back because of “over use of vaccination” that I requested and got permission to quote them here. The rest is Pedram.

No, high vaccination rates in the population means that a pathogen cannot replicate as quickly–many fewer hosts will be available. Vaccination is just a way of inducing a regular adaptive immune response (the adaptive immune cells are exposed to antigens that mark the dead or inactivated pathogen used in the vaccine, without the danger of an infection). If this is done extensively enough, the pathogen can quickly be suppressed or even (mostly) eradicated. Preventing new infections is a very fast way of stopping a disease in a population. [Read more…]