One of the best arguments for getting vaccinated and wearing masks

And it comes from Fox News, of all places, and was made by host Neil Cavuto during an interview with Howard Kurtz. Cavuto has multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and cancer and is thus severely immunocompromised. He was vaccinated and contracted covid-19 and has recovered. He feels that being vaccinated was what enabled him to survive the breakthrough infection.


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Why would you have live ammunition on a film set?

There has been a lot of coverage of actor Alec Baldwin firing a gun on a film set that resulted in killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. It appears that a single bullet went through Hutchins and then hit Souza who was standing behind her. It appears that Baldwin thought he was firing a gun that did not have live rounds.

There are so many questions that come to mind.

One is that this is a film set, not a hunting trip. Why are there any live rounds at all on the set? What purpose do they serve? And why did he point the gun at someone and fire it anyway? Was it a prank in order to startle them? This demonstrates how dangerous it is to point and fire any type of gun at anyone even in fun. There have been so many stories of people getting killed and injured because a gun that was thought to be fake or unloaded actually had live rounds.
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The rise and fall (and rise again?) of quicksand

Nearly four years ago, I had a post about quicksand. In it I mused how it used to be a common plot device in the books and films I watched and read as a boy but seemed to have faded from view. The 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia has a poignant scene with quicksand.

This week the program Radiolab had a segment on quicksand in which it turns out that my sense that quicksand was a significant feature of popular culture that has slowly disappeared has some empirical support. There is a database of films that have quicksand scenes in them and after starting out small in 1900 or so, the frequency of appearance increased, reaching a peak around 1960, and then decreasing again to the present day. That jibes with my personal experience.

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On heroes with clay feet

Over at Impossible Me Abbeycadabra had an interesting post in which she wrote about author Neil Gaiman with whom she shares a lot of literary interests, so much so that she considers him a ‘hero’. She is well aware of the danger of having heroes, given that so many public figures whom one once liked or admired have later revealed themselves to have quite obnoxious views on some major issues (the number of such people is too large and the names too well-known to be worth listing), so she is naturally relieved that so far he has not had any unflattering things revealed about him. But she shares the same feeling of unease that all of us have that some figure we look up to might have some dark secret revealed.
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Intentional fouling in sports

I remember the first time I watched a professional basketball game in the US and saw a player intentionally foul a player on the opposing team to prevent them from scoring a basket. What surprised me was not the foul itself, which can happen in contact sports, but that everyone, players, spectators, TV commentators alike, treated it as not only routine but even as a good strategy. I found this appalling. I felt that a deliberate foul should never be something that is adopted as a strategy. The penalties for doing so should always be high enough that any fouling is always unintentional or at least that players try to act as if it were unintentional. In soccer for instance, the fouling player risks getting thrown out of the game and they often put on quite a show to try to persuade the referee that the foul was accidental, while the fouled player would put in a good performance to suggest that they were grievously injured. While this may all be fake, at least the effort shows that fouling as a deliberate act is not to be tolerated.
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Police and firefighters opposing vaccinations

On The Daily Show Trevor Noah comments on the odd fact that there seems to be high levels of resistance to getting the covid-19 vaccine among police and firefighters. The vaccine mandates issued by many jurisdictions that require all government employees to be vaccinated has resulted in many of them either leaving or challenging the mandates in court. Given that they pride themselves on risking their lives for the sake of others, this fear of taking a life-saving vaccine is puzzling. It may be that it is a higher level of general anti-vaccine and other right-wing ideology within these groups that is driving the resistance.

Popperians and Marxists

One of the things I noticed is that while I write and give talks lot about the philosophy of science, I get most pushback when I criticize Popper’s falsifiability idea (such as in my Scientific American article The Idea that a Scientific Theory can be ‘Falsified’ Is a Myth: It’s time we abandoned it) than any other thing I say. What is interesting is that I get challenged by both scientists and intelligent design creationists, who are usually on opposite sides of discussions about the nature of science. For example, at Why Evolution Is True, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne (and his commenters) disagreed with my article. And over at Evolution News intelligent design creationist David Klinghoffer also disagreed with me.
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The religious exemption card is getting harder to play

In the US, claiming that some action is based on their religious faith tends to give people wide latitude. So it is not surprising that people reach for it even in situations where it is hard to discern any religious basis. We see this now as states and companies are issuing vaccine mandates requiring that their employees get vaccinated or conform to various kinds of other requirements such as regular testing or get fired.

But people who are trying to use religious exemptions to get out of vaccine mandates are not finding it as much of an easy sell as they might have expected. We saw how basketball player Andrew Wiggins had his request for such an exemption denied and now the head football coach along with four of his coaching staff of Washington State University were fired for not getting vaccinated as required for all state employees.
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Ted Cruz told to butt out by Australian political leader

The chief minister of Australia’s Northern Territory did not take kindly to Ted Cruz criticizing his vaccine mandate, and told him to buzz off.