Chaos Manor View, Friday, April 15, 2016
“This is the most transparent administration in history.”
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
Under Capitalism, the rich become powerful. Under Socialism, the powerful become rich.
Under Socialism, government employees become powerful.
My taxes are done and mailed out. I made a bit less this year than last, meaning that I overpaid the quarterly estimate payments, so I should get some back. Just as well. Authors have that problem: you can’t ever quite know how much you’ll make, and money tends to come in large lumps or not at all. With the rise of eBooks that’s changing a bit; more importantly my backlist is worth something; I made a decent amount out of 20 and 30 year old books, and Amazon pays monthly, rather unlike traditional publishers who periodically issue reprints of books, then pay promptly on credible threat of lawsuit.
I have to take Roberta out to Kaiser this afternoon; she has got an appointment with a suitable specialist, and we may see the end of the problems she’s been having. We can all hope so, but I’m not likely to get much work done today. Actually, I have already more or less cleaned up my desk and got a long way towards clearing my mail, so I guess you’d have to say I got some needed work done, just it wasn’t fiction.
This came out in early April, and has been in the stack for commenting on ever since, but I’ve been distracted. The topic is important.
Anti-Vaccination Lunacy Won’t Stop
Robert De Niro made the right call in pulling ‘Vaxxed’ from his film festival. But the bogus message rolls on.
W. Ian Lipkin
April 3, 2016 6:14 p.m. ET
This week’s fare at the Angelika Film Center in New York City includes “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” a purported documentary that began its run on Friday. If only the theater’s schedulers had been making a droll point by choosing April Fool’s Day to launch this dangerously misleading movie falsely linking vaccines to autism. Instead, they all too eagerly snatched up the film after it had been ousted on March 26 from plans for the Tribeca Film Festival later this month.
The decision to remove “Vaxxed” from the festival was the right one, and credit goes to organizers, in particular co-founder Robert De Niro, who has a son with autism, for having the courage to reconsider their plans. If “Vaxxed” had been submitted as science fiction, it would merit attention for its story line, character development and dialogue. But as a documentary it misrepresents what science knows about autism, undermines public confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and attacks the integrity of legitimate scientists and public-health officials.
By the topic, I don’t mean Mr. De Niro’s decision not to show a film I’ve never seen, because I from the description of it I doubt it presents any evidence I’m not aware of; the important topic is, should you get you children vaccinated; or in my case, having done so, do you attempt to persuade your grown children to vaccinate if they have married someone who doesn’t believe in it? Just what are the risks and benefits, and is there more expected value in vaccination than in avoiding it?
The questions are more ethical than scientific. Some are ethical arguments posing as scientific questions; and, alas, there is so far as I can se a fair amount of misrepresentation, and sometimes out right lying, on both sides of the issue.
First, let’s clear out some deadwood about risks. There is no such thing as a risk-free vaccination (or, as is more usual, an immunization, usually by hypodermic injection. I say this because when I was young and smallpox vaccination was compulsory and nearly universal, even in rural areas of the Old South, the procedure was fairly painful, and left a noticeable scar. The vaccination fluid was put on your skin, usually high on the left arm for boys, but alternatively on the inside of the thigh for girls, after which the nurse or technician, or rarely the doctor, jabbed you about thirty times with a sharp needle while the vaccination serum was on the skin, thus conveying it through the skin and into the muscle below. The reason most girls chose the inner thigh was because the scar, which was about the size of a nickel coin, was quite visible, and in its early years unsightly, although it faded with time. I’ve had two, one in first grade which was the usual time in Tennessee in the thirties, and once when I joined the Army at the outbreak of the Korean War.
By the time the immunization of the second vaccination wore off, smallpox had been eliminate in the United States, and vaccinations were no longer routine or compulsory.
In early colonial days, the risk of death from vaccination was not negligible, varying from a usual 2% to sometimes as high as 8%, depending on location and the general health of the population. Since the fatality rate of smallpox was always higher than 20% and rose to 80% in some outbreaks, and there was a pretty good likelihood of at least one outbreak of pox in your locality during your lifetime, there were powerful arguments in favor of vaccination, even in the early times before Jenner discovered that if you were deliberately given a case of cowpox, it immunized you to smallpox. In pre-Revolutionary times, vaccinations were done by introducing tissue from a smallpox patient into you system. In the TV series on John Adams, Abigail Adams is shown insisting that her family be inoculated; the physician uses a scalpel and tissue from a pox victim.
As the science of immunology developed, vaccines for a wide variety of diseases were developed. Some of these had been routine childhood diseases that nearly everyone got, with fairly low – but not zero – fatality rates. Others, like diphtheria, had much higher fatality rates.
It was quite clear that if everyone were inoculated against, say, measles, then even the small number of measles fatalities would be prevented; and well meaning people hastened to make inoculation against “childhood diseases” compulsory.
There were religious objections, and various states had various procedures for objecting to, and gaining exemptions to, the inoculations. Naturally, these were made rather onerous; the whole point of compulsory inoculates was to develop herd immunity and thus eradicate the disease in the United States.
In my judgment this was carried beyond all reason. While immunization to very low rate fatality diseases was effective, the number of fatalities due to the inoculations themselves was not zero, and a few of these inoculations killed children who were unlikely ever to have contracted the disease unless it was deliberately given to them by the inoculation.
When my children were very young, it was routine in the States of Washington and California to insist that they be given a “DPT” shot: an inoculation against Diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough), and Tetanus (lockjaw). Most children got this, and the public health results were impressively good. But over time there came the theory that if several inoculations were good, more would be better; and to save time and money, let them all be given at once. In some States and Counties as many as 18 inoculations were given at once; and these were compulsive.
The theory was that if a few inoculations were good, more would be better, and look at how much money we saved!
In my judgment this went far beyond reason. Most adherents of inoculations will assert that multiple inoculations are no more dangerous than single ones; but this appears to be an assumption. The purpose of immunization and inoculation is to stimulate the immune system. It would seem reasonable to assume that in a few cases this might work all too well, and overstimulate the immune system; possibly even to cause autoimmune disorders. This is an hypothesis impossible to disprove. It is not believed by most immunologists; but their evidence for this rests on analysis of the same statistical data that the proponents of overstimulation of the immune system causing autoimmune disorders use to prove their case. Each side accuses the other of not understanding the data. Most of the adherents on either side do not understand statistical inference well enough to inspire much confidence in their conclusions. Both sides also contain well qualified statistical experts.
Fortunately, we have ceased to give a dozen or more immunizations ate the same time to infants; but the arguments used to justify doing so have embittered the immunization debates. Some of the proponents of immunization flat out lied (as did some of it’s opponents, to be sure). Both sides appealed to “science” although both sides were defended loudly and publicly by “experts” who manifestly knew so little about statistical inference that their opinions on the subject were worthless. Common sense would say that increased stimulation of the immune system could incline its overdevelopment and bring about autoimmune disorders. Fortunately the massive multiple immunizations were mostly discontinued.
Immunization is one of the great discoveries of medical history. Smallpox and other plagues had an enormous effect on human history. When I was a child, the fear of polio ran like wildfire through the whole community every spring and early summer. Outbreaks of polio were common. The Salk vaccine against polio was discovered when I was in graduate school, and immunization to polio took three sessions. The early immunizations were administered in a sugar cube. I was among the very first to sign up to get them, and I had my three within months of Salk’s discovery. I was at that time a member of a fencing club, and I had a casual friend named Bruce who was a good practice partner at foil. I was an epee man, and he was somewhat better at foil that I was, so foil practice bouts with him tended to be instructive. Then, one say, he didn’t show up at the club; it was said he had polio. I visited him in hospital; he was in an iron lung, a pressure chamber that breathed for him. He had taken the first of the immunization sugar cubes, but before he got the rest he came down with a crippling case of polio. My visit with him was terrifying and depressing. There but for the grace of God…
My point being that I start with a favorable view of immunizations. I reject on theoretical grounds massive multiple immunizations; give a dozen immunizations, but let them be spread out over a few years, not given all at once. I suppose the (in my time) traditional DPT shot is all right, since it was nearly universal in my day and the rise of autoimmune disorders did nor start until I was out of graduate school; but surely three at a time is enough? Perhaps three in infancy; three more on the third birthday, work up to having had a dozen immunizations by first grade; but spread them out over the first five or six years of life. Add a few more in grade school.
But use a bit of common sense. Stimulation of the immune system is good; but can there not be overstimulation? At least in a statistically significant part of the population?
I received this Thursday. It deserves attention. I haven’t time to write a critique, but I urge you to read it.
Why Vladimir Putin’s People Love Him.
Particularly note Putin’s reactions to American intervention against the Serbs in the Balkans. There was little debate in the White House or in Congress as we took the anti-Christian side in a conflict far away with few national interest at stake, or so we thought. But the stakes were high: we had much to lose, even if we had little prospect of gain. Why did we intervene? In the Balkans?
DARPA X program?
Congrats on the Heinlein award! Well deserved.
DARPA is working on affordable space access. I guess we can hope.
XS-1 has four primary technical goals:
Fly 10 times in a 10-day period (not including weather, range and emergency delays) to demonstrate aircraft-like access to space and eliminate concerns about the cost-effectiveness and reliability of reusable launch.
Achieve flight velocity sufficiently high to enable use of a small (and therefore low-cost) expendable upper stage.
Launch a 900- to 1,500-pound representative payload to demonstrate an immediate responsive launch capability able to support both DoD and commercial missions. The same XS-1 vehicle could eventually also launch future 3,000+- pound payloads by using a larger expendable upper stage.
Reduce the cost of access to space for 3,000+-pound payloads, with a goal of approximately $5 million per flight for the operational system, which would include a reusable booster and expendable upper stage(s).
An important interview:
Bill Whittle knocks it out of the ballpark
In this video Bill Whittle takes on the whining progressive leftist crybabies who fall apart at the sight of a gun or a white person wearing dreadlocks without appreciating the blacks who suffered so much and wear them.
Maybe it’s time we start screaming at these crybabies about their cultural appropriation of everything from modern medicine to, would you believe, hip hop?
He knocked the ball right out of the ball park.
Magic Leap has written our future in its patent filings
The problem with this patent is prior art. In 1998 I wrote about augmented reality that multiple people could share. If I thought of it, lots of other people thought of it. It is not a new idea, I think.
Well, among other things, it would appear they’re trying to patent The Matrix, and I expect the Wachowskis (sisters both now, I have to understand) might have somewhat to say about that.
But in general it sounds like they ARE trying to simply patent SFnal ideas. They are probably gambling upon scientists and engineers eventually figuring out how to do these things, and then they come in and declare that it either belongs to them, or levy royalties upon their use, because they already own the patents.
I put it as not unlike the folks who go around gathering up web domain names, and then offering your own name back to you for an annual fee.
I have had little dealings with the patent office in my time. (Not none, but not a lot.) So I have no idea if the patent office staff has a degree of common sense or not. It might work, or they might throw it all out.
That’s just the take of an author deep into completing her latest WIP by writing the climax — meaning my brain is mostly elsewhere at the moment. YMMV.
“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
Congress and classified material
A recent post by a Former Serving Officer stated a member of Congress could be legally charged if they were to reveal classified information.
At first I nodded in agreement, but then I wondered: what about if the member of Congress made the revelation on the floor of Congress in a speech?
I could look this up, but it’s so much more interesting to ask someone with a PhD in political science: Isn’t there some form of immunity for members of Congress when speaking officially on the floor of the Congress?
If so (and I do not remember all the details, so I may be quite mistaken), what would happen if a member of Congress stood up and read into the record something horrendously vital to national security, like the location of the national Twinky reserve and the combination to the safe containing Elvis’s current address and similar stuff?
Seriously, though, does Congressional immunity apply?
The plain language of the Constitution gives Senators and Members of Congress absolute immunity from arrest or interrogation for anything said in speeches or debates; if a Congressman gives classified material in a speech, it is unclear what, other than removing his access to such materials, can be done. Of course this does not apply to officers of the United States, including heads of departments or even the President. There seem to be conflicting precedents.
Wisdom on growing older
“It ain’t no disgrace to be old. But darned if it ain’t _inconvenient_, I can tell you that much about it.” – “Moms” Mabley
I am seriously considering getting this emblazoned on a sweat shirt.
(“inconvenient”) in italics.
Send me one if you do…
Left key and right key
In Windows, left mouse key means “do it” (sometimes click once, sometimes click twice) or “choose this one”. Right mouse key means “give me a list of stuff I can do with this thing.”
Of course this split doesn’t really mean much for a START button.
I’ve been using the right button to get “File Explorer” and “System Properties” since Windows 95, so looking for stuff here made sense.
I’ve been a “keystroke oriented” windows user since the beginning. For a while in the nineties I had a laptop with windows and no mouse unless I bothered to dig one out of the side pocket of the briefcase — I usually didn’t bother.
I was one of the ones who sent the “safe mode” advice. I got to the run command with the keystrokes I’ve been using for the RUN command since the nineties. Well, not quite. It used to be control-escape, R to get the run window. Now, control escape, start typing finds “stuff”. So when I tried the old control-escape r … it automatically suggested “Run – desktop app” as an available choice.
Air Force planning to build an A-10 replacement?
I’d have to see plans and proposal to believe it. My faith in the upper echelons of the Air Force is lower than low. But, it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been wrong!
We can hope, but I have little faith that they will do it right.
Court Rules Police Can Legally Make Up Lies to Pull People Over To Fish for Criminal Behavior buffy willow
Appalling. But not surprising.
Congratulations on receiving the well deserved Heinlein Award!
The trail that you have helped to blaze through the thickets of Government Bureaucracy has been taken up by the Private Sector. The progress that has been made by SpaceX and Blue Origin is moving us closer to a Moon Colony. As you have said many times, the Moon is the logical place to launch missions to the Asteroids and Planets.
Space Exploration has been on hold for almost 50 years since the first Moon Landing. The entry of the private sector into the orbital launch and suborbital space tourism business is generating public interest and moving the bar forward. Private Companies are starting to investigate the economics of a permanent Moon Colony.
A Human foothold outside the Earth’s Gravity offers opportunities far beyond Space Exploration. One of these is experiments designed to gain an understanding of Gravity. 45 years ago I used to go to the same bar in Pasadena frequented by Richard Feynman. One evening I found myself sitting at a table next to his and asked him when he thought that we might have an understanding of gravity. He replied, “Not in my lifetime or yours.” We know that he was correct on the first part of his answer. I hope he was wrong on the second part. The recent detection of gravity waves and the prospect of breakthroughs leading to increased Space Exploration give me hope.
Thank you for all you have done to keep the hope and promise of Space alive while entertaining us with fascinating stories of what the future might hold.
Thanks. I’ll put this up to stand for many others. Thanks to all of you.
Prosecutor suspended over fake Facebook profile used in murder prosecution.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.