Public Health

America (Unthinkable)

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

A grim reminder:

There have been over 200 school shooting incidents―an average of nearly one a week―since the horrifying morning when 20-year-old Adam Lanza marched into Sandy Hook Elementary School and did the unthinkable.

Four years ago today, Lanza shot and killed his mother in her home in Newtown, Connecticut, before making his way to the school and opening fire, leaving 20 children and six staff members dead.

(Miller)

Why do we say unthinkable? One of the interesting questions of once upon a time was the question of killing children onscreen in cinema. You’re not actually supposed to depict such acts; it’s one of those codes that isn’t a law, but still, you know?

So you wouldn’t show what we see in the movies if it’s a child. Show an airplane full of children crashing, though, and, well, according to the old code that is, quite technically, just fine. And then perhaps we might recall the beginning of T2: Judgment Day, and so much for fretting about traditional codes.

Still, though, there are a lot of things we might think are unthinkable; perhaps what we mean is that actually doing these things is unthinkable.

All of which only reminds how much easier it is to talk about something else.

We’re halfway through December. Let us please, as many as possible, make it through to next year. Sure, that sounds like a grim joke, but come on. This is America, and there just isn’t much left we can call unthinkable. Take care of yourselves; take care of each other. Be well. Stay safe. Live through this.

Please.

____________________

Image note: Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.

Miller, Hayley. “There Have Been Over 200 School Shooting Incidents Since The Sandy Hook Massacre”. The Huffington Post. 14 December 2016.

An Echo of Freedom (Just About Right)

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

Speaking of just another day in America:

A 3-year-old boy is dead after being shot in Ypsilanti Township on Sunday, Nov. 13.

The incident is under investigation, but police believe the incident may have been an accident, said Derrick Jackson of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office.

Police believe another child was playing with a gun when it went off, fatally striking the 3-year-old boy, he said.

(Moran)

The problem with saying that sounds just about right is that it should be possible―merely possible―to say such a thing.

____________________

Image note: Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.

Moran, Darcie. “3-year-old shot, killed by child playing with gun, police say”. MLive. 13 November 2016.

A Trivial Question About Your Coffee Cup

A coffee cup at Terra Vista. Detail of photo by B. D. Hilling, 2013.

Cari Romm explains, for Science of Us, a few details about why “It’s Okay to Never Wash Your Coffee Mug”:

As Heidi Mitchell wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal column, it’s fine to never wash your mug, as long as you’re not sharing it with anybody else. Better than fine, in fact: It may actually be the most sanitary option.

There are two caveats to that statement, infectious-disease expert Jeffrey Starke, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine, told Mitchell: One, it only applies if you’re not sharing the mug with anybody else. And two, “if you leave cream or sugar in your mug over the weekend, that can certainly cause mold to grow”―in which case, wash it out.

The bottom line, Romm suggests, is that “letting your mug live in its own filth may be a safer bet than the alternative: scrubbing it with the disgusting communal sponge in the office kitchen”.

And, yes, there is the bit about putting the sponge in the microwave, but this still begs a question.

Who says you absolutely must use a sponge?

____________________

Romm, Cari. “It’s Okay to Never Wash Your Coffee Mug”. Science of Us. 3 November 2016.

Ominous, or, Your Congressional Forecast

A portion of the U.S. Capitol dome. (Detail of photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images, 2013)

This is what we might call not hopeful; other days we might just call it normal. Either way, Andrew Taylor offers the grim look ahead:

Lawmakers return to Washington this week for an abbreviated election-season session in which they will likely do what they do best: the bare minimum.

All Congress must do this month is keep the government from shutting down on Oct. 1 and, with any luck, finally provide money for the fight against the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Republicans controlling Congress promise they won’t stumble now, but the weeks ahead could prove tricky.

(more…)

Vaxxtastic

So …

Health officials in Arizona say the largest current measles outbreak in the United States is in part because some workers at a federal immigration detention center refuse to get vaccinated.

Authorities have confirmed 22 measles cases in Arizona since late May. They all stem from the Eloy Detention Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility managed by the private Corrections Corporation of America.

United States Department of Homeland SecurityPinal County health director Thomas Schryer said the outbreak likely began with a migrant but that detainees have since been vaccinated. Convincing employees to get vaccinated or show proof of immunity has proven much tougher, he said.

“And so they’re actually the ones that are passing along the measles among each other and then going out into the community,” Schryer said.

… right. Any questions?

Oh. Wait. The AP report from Astrid Galvan also notes―

The facility includes about 350 CCA employees and an unknown number of ICE staffers, although Schryer estimates it’s about 100. ICE doesn’t publicly release staffing levels, nor does it require employees to be immunized.

―and it seems well enough to start with the obvious. This is, after all, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; given the health advisories in general about international travel, it seems absurd to suggest that the intended front line contact point for so much of that alleged danger coming into the United States should fail to require immunization.

____________________

Galvan, Astrid. “Arizona is site of largest current US measles outbreak”. Associated Press. 8 July 2016.

An American Snapshot (Heritage: Hatred)

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

“Yes, a majority of Americans said they were against such measures, but let’s not brush past the obvious point: a third of the country is an alarming number of people.”

Steve Benen

The problem with making a point like Steve Benen’s is not that it is somehow wrong or grotesquely exaggerated. Rather, the problem is that such straightforward, dramatic statements find themselves anywhere near the realm of American reality.

(more…)

Communicable Stupidity

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a visit to the Advanced Pharma to kick-off the grand opening of their new facility that hopes to create 60 new jobs by 2014 on February 21, 2013, in Miami, Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott reversed himself on February 20, 2013 and is now calling for an expansion of Medicaid to Florida residents under the federal Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There is, of course, the part where Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) is complaining about Congressional Republicans while invoking the necessity of federal assistance for the Sunshine State.

And then there is, of course, Congress.

Lawmakers are currently in the middle of a 10-day vacation, which comes on the heels of a separate 10-day vacation last month. In July, Congress is only scheduled to be in session for a total of six days, and members won’t work at all in the month of August. All told, federal lawmakers will have the lightest schedule in 2016 of any Congress since 1956.

In February, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared, “We need to get out in front of the Zika virus.” That was on Feb. 2, shortly before Congress took … wait for it … a 10-day vacation in the middle of February.

(Benen)

This is important, Steve Benen suggests, in no small part because despite Governor Scott’s plea that, “Florida needs action from the federal government now”―

Unfortunately, “now” doesn’t appear to be much of an option. The Republican-led Senate approved a $1.1 billion package, while the Republican-led House passed a bill about half as large. Under the current Republican approach, it may be “well into the summer, or even longer” before Congress approves an inadequate final bill to address the Zika virus.

―that just isn’t going to happen.

Moreover, it seems worthwhile to mutter something about Republicans complaining that government doesn’t work. This bit about taking vacations at really obviously stupid times is at least a little familiar.

____________________

Image note: Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a visit to the Advanced Pharma on 21 February 2013, in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Benen, Steve. “Even Rick Scott thinks the GOP Congress is negligent on Zika”. msnbc. 2 June 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Death Wish Double Trouble Super Fun Follow-Up Sequel Pak)

Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate who also happens to be a skeleton with an afro. (Detail of frame from 'Shonen Jump One Piece'.)

“He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance.”

Andrew O’Hehir

Sometimes the setup requires a bit of seemingly otherwise useless melodrama; and sometimes that seemingly otherwise useless melodrama―your buzzword for the week is, well, okay, two words: “October surprise”―works well enough to address certain otherwise seemingly obvious questions somehow obscured by a hazy addiction to synthesized melodrama. Or, more to the point:

We can’t be sure how many people really support Trump, [Thomas B.] Edsall reports, since there’s considerable evidence that they aren’t telling pollsters the truth. Voting for Trump, it appears, is something white people do in the shadows. It’s a forbidden desire that is both liberating and self-destructive, not unlike the married heterosexual who has a same-sex lover on the down-low, or the executive who powers through the day on crystal meth and OxyContin. Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)On some level you know the whole thing can’t end well, but boy does it feel good right now.

I have argued on multiple occasions that white Americans, considered in the aggregate, exhibit signs of an unconscious or semi-conscious death wish. I mean that both in the Freudian sense of a longing for release that is both erotic and self-destructive―the intermingling of Eros and Thanatos―and in a more straightforward sense. Consider the prevalence of guns in American society, the epidemic rates of suicide and obesity (which might be called slow-motion suicide) among low-income whites, the widespread willingness to ignore or deny climate science and the deeply rooted tendency of the white working class to vote against its own interests and empower those who have impoverished it. What other term can encompass all that?

Trump is the living embodiment of that contradictory desire for redemption and destruction. His incoherent speeches wander back and forth between those two poles, from infantile fantasies about forcing Mexico to build an $8 billion wall and rampant anti-Muslim paranoia to unfocused panegyrics about how “great” we will be one day and how much we will “win.” In his abundant vigor and ebullience and cloddish, mean-spirited good humor, Trump may seem like the opposite of the death wish. (He would certainly be insulted by any such suggestion. Wrong! Bad!) But everything he promises is impossible, and his supporters are not quite dumb enough not to see that. He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance. No wonder his voters are reluctant to ‘fess up.

(O’Hehir)

Nor is this a matter of making the obvious point; with Americans, it’s all in how you say it.

I mean, sure, we can all see it, but explaining the mess is a whole ‘nother thing.

____________________

Image notes: Top ― Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate. (Detail of frame from Shonen Jump One Piece.) Right ― Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

O’Hehir, Andrew. “Appetite for destruction: White America’s death wish is the source of Trump’s hidden support”. Salon. 11 May 2016.

An Obvious Question (Illinois Ignominy)

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

This is … what, traditional family values?

According to a proposed bill filed last week by two Republican Illinois state lawmakers, if a father is not listed on a newborn’s birth certificate, the birth certificate will not be issued and any future financial assistance will be denied.

The proposed bill HB6064 by Representative John Cavaletto and Representative Keith Wheeler would amend the Illinois Vital Records Act to require that unwed mothers either name a father on the birth certificate or within 30 days go to court and have another family member sign the birth certificate and agree to accept financial responsibility for the child ....

.... If a single mother fails to name the father or identify another guardian, the child will not be issued a birth certificate and the family will be permanently banned from public assistance. The bill makes no exception for rape or incest victims. Under current law, an unmarried father is not named on the birth certificate unless he signs a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

(Tesfaye)

You know, something useful is supposed to go here, but in truth I am uncertain what that is. More specifically, I’m still stuck on the obvious question.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

____________________

Tesfaye, Sophia. “Illinois Republicans target single mothers and their babies: GOP bill would ban birth certificates, financial aid if father is not named”. Salon. 25 February 2016.