The Absurdity of Anti-vaxers

I have to admit, I find the anti-vax movement to be a bit funny. Not “HAHA” funny, more like “what the fuck is wrong with you” kinda funny. I swear that if today’s anti-vax morons were around 60 years ago we’d still have smallpox running loose inflicting it’s devastation. I’m also sure that they’d be convinced that small-pox is just a conspiracy to get people to comply with the government.

It is only because of a massive drive to vaccinate the world that we’ve completely eradicated smallpox (save for the samples that labs like the CDC still have around), and polio is on the verge of death as well. Even chickenpox’s, a near rite of passage for children when I was young, is incredibly rare today because we’ve managed to vaccinate most children against that disease – even their parents don’t’ have to face the risk of shingles outbreaks should they be able to afford the vaccine. It is vaccines that have managed to hold back the tide of some deadly diseases and are one of the major reasons that infant mortality has declined to the levels that it has. Vaccines are one of the greatest achievements that humanity has ever produced, along with modern sanitation systems, and antibiotics.

And yet we have idiots running around who are convinced that somehow they’ll be implanted with a tracking device, become sterile, or whatever the latest quack-fuckery of the day is, should they take the COVID-19 vaccines. It’s mind-boggling how much anti-intellectual stupidity there is floating around when it comes to vaccines.

Getting vaccinated, even with a single dose, means that you are vastly less likely to die from COVID. Of all the deaths that are happening in the US from COVID, virtually all of them are now in those who have not been vaccinated, and the vast majority of those deaths could be prevented simply by getting everyone vaccinated. And this is the absurdity of the situation. Imagine where we would be today if COVID didn’t kill 600,000 Americans in the last year and half? But yet the people who are afraid of vaccines, and don’t get vaccinated, are the ones who face orders of magnitude higher likelihood of death should they become infected with COVID. It’s crazy.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather take a 1 in 60,000 chance of some severe complication from a vaccine than take a 1-2% chance of dying should I contract COVID (which around 10% of Americans have already contracted.) It’s not like vaccines are something new, and we haven’t already researched thte snot out what these things do, and what kinds of long term affects they have. Vaccines have proven themselves to be safe and effective and yet there is still a significant amount of the population that is more concerned about dreamed up risks than well quantified risks from a deadly virus.

At the end of the day what makes me the most sad is that COVID will probably be a concern for everyone for a lot longer than it should have be, largely because there is a segment of our worlds population that either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t care, about what vaccines are and how effective they are at preventing unneeded deaths.

The Delta variant, which is much more contagious and dangerous than all the other variants, doesn’t care if you’re liberal or conservative. The only thing that’s going to stop more deaths from happening is getting every single eligible person vaccinated. Only our trained immune systems will prevent more needless death. Sadly, it’s really only our primitive ape brain stands in the way.

Will the US Ever Achieve Herd Immunity

I was looking at the data over at this tracker, which has a number of interesting statistics about the US and COVID vaccinations. It was a rather sad reading exercise to say the least.

From the general trends, I really have to wonder if the US will even see 60% of the population getting both doses? Experts have estimated that we need somewhere around 70-85% of the entire population vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. The pace of vaccinations has begun to stagnate recently and what started out as an incredible start is now slowing to a trickle. Without something to step out the rate at which people are vaccinated I fear that the US will see a crippling wave of delta variant infections that will upend the apple cart. The chaos that ripped through India in previous months stands ready to cause similar damage to the United States if they don’t get their act together and work hard to immunize their population.

I also read today that Florida accounts for 20% of all new COVID infections happening in the United States.

And really, is it any surprise that Republican states have some of the lowest rates of vaccination, while strong Democratic states lead the charge for vaccinations? I also just saw today that modern Republican’s continue to lose confidence in science, so it’s not too surprising that their ignorance is leading them away from things that will actually protect them from this virus.

There has been a considerable effort by Republicans to undermine the strategy of getting people vaccinated, even though the very people undermining this strategy have almost certainly been vaccinated themselves. They’re happy to use the masses as a weapon, even if it means that people die unnecessarily, just so long as there is some political gain from it.

Sadly, the United States appears to be a shit-show when it comes to COVID. The proverbial asylum is being run by the inmates and they don’t (collectively) care if the building burns down around them. They’ve got their freedom (free dumb) and they’re not scared of a little virus that drowns you in your own phlegm. They will not comply.

I think, at this point, the only way the US ever is going to achieve herd immunity is by people getting sick, and probably millions more deaths as a consequence. It’s quite sad considering it doesn’t have to be this way.

Joe Biden, Crackers, and the Catholic Church Itself

I’d read recently that some US Catholic bishops would like to deny Joe Biden from receiving communion, and learned today that they have approved plans to move forward with this idea. To me this would seem to be a strange move by the Catholic Church. Why do they want to stop him from partaking in this particular sacrament? Apparently it has to do with his political (rather than his personal) position on abortion, namely that he doesn’t think abortions should be illegal.

Why is this such a strange position for the Catholic Church to take? For one thing not all Catholics are socially conservative, and do not agree that one must be against abortion to be good Catholic, and more than half of all US Catholics are in favor of legalized abortion. If that’s the case, what does the Catholic church plan to do with these people should they publicly declare their support for women who want to have control over their bodily autonomy? Are these bishops planning to cut off their proverbial nose to spite their face? If over 50% of US Catholics are in favor of legalized abortion then the best that this action will achieve is the polarizing of their membership with the indication the socially liberal Catholics are not welcome within the Church.

Nobody should take this as me wanting the best for the Church. They are a corrupt organization that has been involved in crimes against humanity for decades, and quite possibly centuries. As an organization I’d love to see it fall in the trash bin of history, but if these bishops agree that Biden isn’t worthy of communion it will only quicken the progress. If they were smart, rather than the dogmatic, uptight, and overly conservative, people that they are they’d leave this alone. Nothing good can come from any action they take against a popular Catholic US President.

What’s silly about all of this to me, as a sane person who isn’t convinced by Catholic dogma, is that they’re fighting over whether Joe Biden gets to play their game of “let’s eat magic crackers and pretend to nourish our souls.” Sure, it’s their club and they have the right to decide who’s allowed to play, but they don’t make themselves appear any less ridiculous. People are leaving the churches in droves and the Catholic Church is showing people the way out. What fools. BWAHAHAHA.

Dear Mr Biden, the Catholic Church is not a place for you. There is nothing for you to gain by being a member of that organized religion. Find something else that doesn’t see women’s reproductive rights as being a dividing line.

Jesus: The Imaginary Cure for an Imaginary Sickness

In order to become a Christian one should first be convinced that that they have been “born sick and commanded to be well”, as the late Christopher Hitchens quipped. The sickness in this case is “sin”, that imaginary disease which Christianity claims we are all infected with, where it is claimed the only cure for this sickness is to accept Jesus as your savior. One small problem remains: Accepting Jesus doesn’t seem to do anything to cure the sickness.

If accepting Jesus actually cured you of “sin” we should expect to find that Christians are generally better human beings than every of every other religion. They should act better than everyone else if they’re actually cure, tet this would seem to be far from the truth.

Looking over history, how many Catholic priests have been sheltered by their criminal organization for their molestation of children, and still have yet to face any kind of consequences for the harm they’ve wrought? Why has the Catholic Church failed to accept its role in genocide, particularly in the Indian Residential Schools of Canada? Why are so many Protestant Christians some of the most bigoted people you can find on the planet, with their hatred of homosexuals, their historical hatred towards non-whites. Even going as far back as the Christian colonization of the Americas, and the evil that was perpetrated in the name of Christianity. Look at the sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. What about the suffering created by Mother Theresa’s “Little Sisters of the Poor” in India.

I think one thing is abundantly clear: There does not seem to be any significant difference between those who claim to be Christians and those who do not. So if Jesus is the cure for something, what is Jesus actually curing? If no discernible difference can be detected is there really any difference?

When one takes a step back, and looks at Christianity like it looks at all other religious ideas, it starts to become clear that this notion that we are sinners is really just an attempt to convince you that you’re broken and that somebody else has the cure for you. Like the snake-oil salesmen of the past, Christianity convinces people that their ideas somehow cure you, even though you have to wait until you’re dead in order to validate the claim. Those selling Christianity appear to be after two main things: Your wallet or a form of popularity validation of their beliefs.

The Party of No

Nan's Notebook

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The following was part of Heather Cox Richardson’s most recent newsletter in which she discussed the Senate vote to establish a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. As expected, Republicans voted “No.”

I don’t feel I need to add any additional words to her observation:

Indeed, by refusing to investigate what is arguably the most dangerous attack on our democracy in our history, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has brought out into the open just how radical the Republican Party has become.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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Horrible Attitudes About Sex

I found this link on a site called “Biblical Sexology.” I’m pretty well convinced that it’s not a satire site, and that these are actual attitudes of the author.

Frankly, I don’t know what to say about these unhealthy attitudes regarding sex, and how women tend to be viewed within conservative Christianity. Reading this post left me feeling sorry for the women who are trapped in these kinds of subservient relationships, and angry that people still believe that women are effectively sex objects for their husbands.

The simple reality is that no woman is ever be required to submit sexually to anyone, including her husband, and should never feel obligated to consent to sex she does not want to have. Her body is her own, should be treated as inviolable. Everyone ultimately has the final say on what happens to their body, who is allowed to use it, and when. It is these kinds of unhealthy attitudes that contribute to the problem of marital rape, and why marital rape isn’t taken as seriously as it should be.

To any woman in such a relationship: Know that your life is not defined by your husband, and you are not required to have sex when you do not want to. Nobody should be treated as a sex slave, and you do not have to live to serve your husband. There are ways to escape this kind of abuse (sexual abuse doesn’t have to leave physical marks) and you do not need to tolerate it.

To any Christian man who believes that their wife is there to serve their sexual needs: You’re a piece of shit and undeserving of any woman! Grow the fuck up and learn to treat women as human beings with their own desires and feelings, rather than as a piece of meat for your pleasure.

the problem with problems

gregfallis.com

The modern Republican Party (you know what? I need to stop calling them ‘the modern Republican Party’ because at this point they’re just the Republican Party; there’s no point in trying to distinguish the cowardly fuckwits who now inhabit this aggressively ignorant cultural collective from the Republican Party that used to have consistent conservative principles) has a problem with problems. In fact, they have several problems with problems.

They lack any meaningful understanding of actual socio-political problems, they have no interest in learning about them, no ability to address them in any practical way, and no real desire to resolve them. What they DO have is a clear understanding of the political optics of being seen as dealing with problems.

Republicans have an intuitive grasp of the narrative strength of heroic problem solving. It’s one of the classic story tropes. A monster exists. A hero leaves their community and goes…

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The Evolution Denier

When it comes to the denial of evolution, or trying to discredit the Theory of Evolution, a number tactics sit in their arsenal of science destruction. The goal for these people is not truth, but to try to buttress their worldview against the mountains of conflicting evidence against it. They are trying their hardest to undermine some area of science that conflicts with their worldview. The biggest problem for these people is that even if the aspect that they are attacking is actually wrong it often wouldn’t make their worldview any more correct. The earth ancient, it’s not flat, and life has evolved from simple to more complex. These are well accepted facts within science.

To the denier it doesn’t matter that the vast majority of experts, upwards of 97% of scientists, accept the Theory of Evolution as the best current explanation for the diversity of life. To me it’s a bit like going to 100 mechanics asking for an opinion on the state of your car, and when 97 of them tell you that your care is a dangerous clunker that is unsafe to drive, the denier will simply point to the handful who say that it might be safe, and feel assured that their assumed conclusion is correct. There are always some experts who agree with us.

It also most definitely not about the evidence that the experts have used to come to the conclusion that the Theory of Evolution has great support. That evidence can simply be denied, as they already believe that what is being claimed is possible. In my experience the actual evidence is something that is to be avoided, and the focus is put into muddying the waters as much as possible. Better to dispute how good the evidence is, or to quote mine some expert, than to admit what the fossil record actually shows. As far as they’re concerned the evidence is nowhere near as strong as what it actually is. It helps to support the lie that they have been told and that they continue to tell themselves.

Listening to what real experts have to say, rather than somebody with dubious credentials like Ken Ham, or Kent Hovind, is simply not in the interest of preserving their beliefs. It’s difficult to get people to honestly evaluate a topic when their religiously based worldview depends on some particular status of that topic. Showing them the evidence and arguments that convinces experts will never be enough for somebody who simply doesn’t want to hear it. Unless a person is willing to be honest with the evidence they will never be convinced otherwise.

As an interesting side note, I think everything I’ve said about the evolution denier also applies to the people who deny Donald Trump’s (and other Republicans) involvement in inciting the insurrection of January 6th. Protecting the belief that Donald Trump is going to save America doesn’t hold together well when he’s the one trying to destroy the Republic.

I’m also working on a page of short responses to the nonsense that creationists love to trot out. Not that I expect anything there will ever change their mind. It does make me feel a little better to address their tripe.

Zero COVID Deaths in Texas Yesterday?

ZERO Covid deaths in Texas yesterday… The state is WIDE OPEN… Big winner: FREEDOM… Big loser: FEAR!
🙌🥳🙌

The Conservative Hammer

It is apparently true that Texas did not have any deaths attributed to COVID-19 yesterday. If you want to take a myopic view of what’s happening with COVID in Texas then reading far-right conservatives on Facebook certainly seems like a good way to do it.

The main problem with this view is that it ignores the bigger picture. It’s like reporting that on one day there were no people shot by police in the United States. It certainly doesn’t mean that police aren’t shooting people, or that police violence has isn’t still a problem. It’s simply a snapshot over a very short period of time where variation has the opportunity to create swings and dry spells. It also fails to look at what is happening with trends overall.

Once one bothers to dig a little bit deeper you can find that the 7-day rolling average death rate in Texas is currently sitting at 41, or about 0.15 per 100,000. These numbers are certainly far from the worst in the nation (that honor currently goes to Michigan), but it’s not the rosiest of pictures either.

So why look over 7-days you may ask? It has to do with trying to smooth out the data so that statistical anomalies don’t cloud the picture. By looking at the average over 7 days we get a better sense of what is actually happening over a short run, but also allows that view to be altered by new trends.

There is good news for Americans about COVID. Case rates are falling and that means that death rates will fall as well. Between vaccinations, the number of people who have been infected, and the warming weather which allows people to spend less time indoors (where the virus is more likely to be transmitted), the number of people who are getting sick and dying is going in the right direction.

There is hope to be had, but the fight won’t be over until we can reach a level of herd immunity, which will probably somewhere when around 80% of the population is vaccinated (which I doubt will happen in the US, given that evangelical Christians are much more likely to refuse the vaccine) or has been infected. I also hope that new strains don’t come along which are unaffected by existing antibodies. A new viral strain could put us right back to square one (but we can roll out an updated vaccine fairly quickly.)

Insanity Grips the Republican Party

If you haven’t heard, today the GOP has decided that it no longer wants Liz Cheney to be part of its leadership, or to have any kind of leadership role in Washington. If you’ve never heard of Liz Cheney she is the daughter of former Vice-President Dick “what was that rustling in the bushes” Cheney, and a very staunch conservative. Why is she being punished? What terrible crime has she committed? She wants nothing to do with the continuation of Donald Trump’s sob story that it was because of election fraud that Joe Biden was elected as President. If you’re not on the “Trump was robbed” train, the Republican party doesn’t want you.

I do have to give Cheney some credit, because she’s literally one of a handful of Republicans who are willing to publicly go against the hard embrace of Trump and the continued lies to the American people. While there may be others that don’t accept the lies, she’s at least willing to call them what they are, and risk her career to help make sure that a man who incited an insurrection doesn’t get to return to power. I heartily applaud her, even though I otherwise strongly disagree with her politically.

It would also seem that this problem isn’t going away either. Many Republican voters want to punish those who don’t fall in line, kiss the royal ring of Dear Orange Leader, and sell their souls for a red hat. A poll done in Cheney’s home state of Wyoming indicates that more than half of those Republican voters don’t want her re-elected, and she has very low support overall. I predict her time in politics may be coming to an end, and she will be replaced with some conspiracy embracing whack-job.

Trumpism is alive and well in the Republican party, even if Trump doesn’t have any direct power right now. A cult of personality has swept in and taken control of a party that once freed the slaves. That party is, as far as I’m concerned, dead, doesn’t seem to know how to do anything but embrace DJT. The message being sent today is clear: Embrace the Orange Clown or we don’t want you in our circus.

Frankly, I don’t know what is going to happen going forward. 2022 and 2024 are going to be important election years, and will help decide the future of the Republican party. From what I’ve seen, many Republicans are angry that they’ve lost control of the federal government, and that they are already doing everything they can to make sure they take back power. One only needs to look at the voter suppression laws that are being enacted in Republican controlled states to see how they intend to take that power back. I think it’s a fairly safe bet that 2024 will see another Biden-Trump battle.

While I’m glad I’m not an American, the far right seems to have completely jumped the rails and started trying to fly to space. I’m not sure if there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of politics in the US when the party of utter insanity would seem to have a reasonable chance of retaking power. American politics just seems to be the kind of affair that should make any sensible person want to cry.