Anti-vaxers kill another child

So North Carolina is reporting their first death (of the year, I presume) from pertussis, or whooping cough. A 2-month-old infant has died of the disease.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and spread usually by coughing or sneezing in close contact. It can be serious at any age, but it is life-threatening in newborns and infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated, state health officials said. Many infants who get whooping cough are infected by caregivers who may not know they have the disease.

This is a kid who was too young to have yet obtained the full range of vaccines, and was dependent on herd immunity…and someone carrying the disease infected them, and ultimately killed them. It’s remarkable that deaths from pertussis are now so rare that one of them will make the news—but the way we’ve made the disease rare is by preventive vaccinations. Every person who neglects to vaccinate is contributing to a deadly disease renaissance.

Just like Lenin and Stalin!

The residents of Happy Valley have torn down Joe Paterno’s statue. I’m dismayed, though, at the student in this video whining about how it wasn’t fair. Paterno enabled child rape. The kindest thing was to keep the statue’s removal discreet, rather than having a mob strap cables to it and tear it down with trucks, followed by dragging it through the streets and tossing it in the river.

Also, the NCAA will soon be announcing strict penalties on the Penn State football program. PSU football is dead, and unfortunately, this is going to be a major hit on PSU academic programs, too. Never tie your university’s reputation to athletics, people!


A gunman walked into a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, threw some smoke bombs, and started shooting. 14 are dead, 50+ are wounded, and the killer has been arrested.

I don’t even…

What gets me is the necessary lack of empathy of any kind for the victims, and the futility of it all. Does murdering the defenseless reduce these psychos sense of helplessness? Does it give them a feeling of power? Because all I see is a coward, a weakling, a loser…and one who has just made his own life significantly worse.

Dennis Markuze is being a good boy

We have an update from a Montreal newspaper on Dennis Markuze, the raging spammer who yap-yap-yapped at me and many others for over a decade. He’s free, he’s employed, he’s been ordered to abstain from participating in online discussions. That’s the good part; I also hear now and again about an occasional Mabus-like rant appearing in some obscure forum on the internet, so he might be breaking the strict wording of his orders, but at least the deluge has been dammed.

I am bothered by one thing. It sounds like his trial didn’t do him justice: he blamed everything on drug and alcohol addiction, the court agreed with him, and all of his post-trial treatment has been directed towards his addictions.

“Since the therapy team at (Freedom House) does not have the competence necessary to make a psychiatric diagnosis, it seems to us that (Markuze) absolutely needs a follow up after he leaves the centre,” Proulx wrote.

“He sometimes makes remarks that leave us perplexed.”

I’m perplexed, too. His past behaviors did not seem to be the product of being drunk — they weren’t impulsive, they were planned and obsessive. So he wasn’t actually diagnosed or treated for psychiatric problems? That’s a body of possible causes for his behavior that weren’t examined or treated in the rush to pin the blame on the simplest explanation.

Good news from Anoka-Hennepin

The Anoka-Hennepin school district has been notorious for its bullying, anti-gay discrimination, and suicide rate. A group of six students sued them for the district’s outrageous lack of common decency; tonight, the school board folded and settled the suit out of court. There was a cash settlement of $270,000 to the kids, and the district has also agreed to work with the US Justice Department to end their history of tolerance for abuse.

One Republican board member, Kathy Tingelstad, resigned over the settlement, claiming that it was going to cost too much. Where was her concern for the cost to the district when kids were killing themselves and the district was becoming infamous for its war on gay teens? She was just a tool of the anti-gay Parents Action League. Good riddance, and may PAL wither and die.

Lynn Margulis has died

Sad news: Lynn Margulis, advocate of the endosymbiosis theory of eukaryotic origins, has died. She was smart, creative, and promoter of a lot of wild ideas…and to her credit, some of them were even right. I think her greatest strength was her eagerness to step right out to the edge of science and push, push, push — sometimes futilely, but sometimes she really did succeed in pushing back the frontier a bit.

(Also on Sb)