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Friday Talking Points [324] -- Don't Panic

[ Posted Friday, October 17th, 2014 – 17:42 PDT ]

That headline, of course, quotes the cover to the fictional Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: "Don't Panic." This week, it seems like timely advice, as the news media and American politicians go into full-blown panic mode over one death and two illnesses within the United States.

We'll get to all that in a bit, since we will be pre-empting our talking points this week for my own "Don't panic!" rant (which, for science-fiction fans who were already thrilled with this week's title, will also quote the learned philosopher Ellen Ripley). But first let's quickly run through some other political news, before we get to the idiocy of the "travel ban fever" running rampant among American politicians.

The biggest news from any of the myriad state-level candidate debates held in the past week came out of Florida, where Governor Rick Scott refused to appear (for seven agonizingly long minutes) on stage with Charlie Crist's fan. No, really. "Fangate" became a thing this week.

Late-night comic Craig Ferguson, tried to helpfully explain the political theater to his audience by quipping (this is from memory, I should mention, and not a transcript): "There's a difference, of course, between a politician and a fan. One oscillates back and forth and blows a steady stream of hot air in your face... and the other is a fan."

Late-night humor aside, the ad wars are getting fierce, in the home stretch of the 2014 campaign, including one Republican virtual clone of the infamous Willie Horton ad, now running in Nebraska. Outside of the ad wars, Republicans are showing they know how to charm the lady voters, once again, as state lawmaker Steve Vaillancourt of New Hampshire offered his thoughts on a House race in his state: "Let's be honest. Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven't offended sin." He also compared her to a "drag queen." This provoked one of the best responses I've ever heard in politics, from Jess McIntosh of EMILY's List: "This is a lawmaker? Like, a person who makes laws? This person has no business anywhere near laws that affect women or other human beings." Well said!

In other crazy and offensive things said by Republicans (always a fertile field, it seems), President Obama is either secretly leading Africa instead of the United States, or just plain crazy (according to that noted expert on sanity, Donald Trump). And an elected Republican official in Missouri is trying to talk the American military into launching a coup against Obama. No, really. She responded to the uproar her comments caused by stating: "Something innocent and simple got twisted into a disaster because it's an election." Um, no. In fact, a disaster got elected to an innocent and simple job because of a previous election. She's up for re-election this year, too (so get out and vote, non-seditious people of Jefferson County, Missouri!).

Federal judge and wife-beater Mark Fuller has still inexplicably not been impeached.

A candidate for Senate died, and the mainstream media largely yawned and ignored it. Doug Butzier was the Libertarian candidate in a race that could be decided by a razor-thin margin in Iowa, so you'd think more people would be analyzing the possible effect, but sadly, this has not happened.

It's a new week, so Marco Rubio has a brand-new ISIS-fighting strategy! Which completely contradicts all his other positions on the issue, but hey, who's counting?

John McCain called for Obama to appoint a "Ebola czar," which he promptly did. Wonder how long it'll be before McCain and other Republicans start complaining about all of Obama's czars again? Here's McCain, tweeting from 2009: "Obama has more czars than the Romanovs - who ruled Russia for 3 centuries. Romanovs 18, cyberczar makes 20." How quickly we all forget, eh?

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has been doing an exemplary job reporting on how we got to where we are now on public health and Ebola, first getting a stunning interview with the head of the National Institutes of Health. You'd think a statement like: "Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine [for Ebola] in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready," would have raised some interest in other parts of the media, but not so much. Stein followed this scoop up with a deeper dive into why we were so unprepared for Ebola, which is also a heck of a lot better journalism than anything you see on television these days.

And finally, just to end on a light note (don't panic!), President Obama's credit card just got declined. Don't you hate it when that happens?

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania deserves at least an Honorable Mention this week, for focusing in on actually doing something productive which might wind up doing some good in the midst of the Ebola panic. Rather than beating the "travel ban" drums, Casey instead called for more money for the "Hospital Preparedness Program," which as you can see (from the chart) has had its budget slashed in recent years. Bravo to Senator Casey for being just about the only person in Washington who has proposed something useful that might actually be quite proactive in the future, instead of demagoguing and scapegoating along with the rest of the political world.

But the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to Charlie Crist and his campaign team. After "Fangate," the Florida Democratic Party wasted not a second of time in getting a hilarious ad up on the air. The ad ends with quite possibly the funniest thing we've yet heard in the 2014 election cycle: "Next debate airs Tuesday. It's going to be cool." Crist's campaign is also now going to send donors a hand-held fan if they donate at least five bucks.

Now that's the way to immediately take advantage of your opponent shooting himself in the foot, folks! The Florida Democratic Party, for their lighting-quick ad (and for their "cool" sense of humor), has more than earned this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.

[Congratulate the Florida Democratic Party on their web page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Occasionally, however, Democratic candidates want to run edgy ads and just go too far. We have two Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards this week, the first for Wendy Davis and her "wheelchair" ad in the Texas gubernatorial race, and the second for Alison Lundergan Grimes for her "amnesty" ad in the Kentucky Senate race, where she attempted to get to the right of Mitch McConnell on immigration.

Both these ads were roundly criticized, for good reason. The Grimes ad, in particular, drew condemnation from such progressive groups as MoveOn and Democracy For America. Without bothering to list the reasons why these ads are more than a little bit disappointing (follow those links if you haven't heard the stories yet), we hereby award both Wendy Davis and Alison Lundergan Grimes the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. There is such a thing as "too far" in campaign ads, and both crossed that line, we feel.

[For legal reasons, we do not link to current campaign websites, so you'll have to search out contact information for Wendy Davis and Alison Lundergan Grimes yourself, to let them know what you think of their campaign tactics.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 324 (10/17/14)

I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for a good rant.

I've already posted one rant this week, on the Ebolapalooza idiocy of the news media in their recent "reporting." This was inspired by an on-air rant over at (of all places) Fox News, by Shepard Smith, which is well worth watching. The only other mainstream media rant I saw which tried to counter the chorus of Ebola fearmongering came from David Ignatius at the Washington Post, who also quoted Smith's rant.

As an unrelated side note, the Post also ran a most excellent rant this week which dared to ask the question "Is Sex Only For Rich People?" which I highly recommend for its original thinking (a quality in short supply in the news media, at times). Here is the heart of the argument, made by Catherine Rampell:

Our country apparently doesn't want low-income Americans to have free access to birth control, either by compelling all insurance plans to offer it or by adequately funding public reproductive health programs. In many schools -- predominantly located in low-income, high-teen-pregnancy areas -- we don't even teach kids how contraception works. We also don't want them to have easy access to abortions when they inevitably get pregnant because they're not using birth control, with states such as Texas and Mississippi trying to shutter their few remaining abortion clinics.

Then we don't help them very much after they birth those unplanned kids, instead publicly chastising irresponsible single mothers for having babies they can't afford and offering little assistance in the form of child care, education or cash. Dumping unwanted children onto the child welfare system isn't exactly celebrated, either.

This breath of fresh thinking aside, however (again, read the article, it's well worth your time), I have to offer up this week in place of our regular talking points a rant on all the various "travel ban" proposals floating around out there. Now, I am fully aware that none of these are in the least way serious -- they are all designed purely for political gain. If any of these were actually serious, then Congress would right now be reconvening, instead of spending the next week or so out on the campaign trail. The quick question to ask anyone proposing such a ban would be (for any enterprising journalist to ask a politician making the proposal): "So are you demanding that John Boehner and Harry Reid reconvene Congress tomorrow to enact such a critical defense of this country?" Here's a great guide to whether such a proposal is serious or just political blathering: if the answer to that question is "No," then they're just playing politics.

Anyway, here's my rant against travel bans, because I just know this is going to be a big subject on this weekend's political chatfests on Sunday morning.

 

The stupidity of all the "travel ban" proposals

The political panic over the Ebola virus is reaching epidemic proportions, it seems. The entire exercise, to date, seems nothing more than a textbook example of what political scientists often call "do-somethingism" -- if only someone would just do something, we could all be safe and life would be wonderful.

The problem, of course, is that just doing something for the sake of doing something -- or, even worse, just to score political points over your rivals -- is rarely effective, often counterproductive, and usually nothing more than a gigantic waste of time and money. Which is exactly how all the proposals yet offered for a "travel ban" should be classified, as nothing more than sheer "do-somethingism" that will, in reality, do nothing (or make things worse).

The only way to be absolutely certain that Ebola cannot escape the West African countries and spread to the rest of the world would be to institute a complete quarantine of the affected countries. This is not what anyone is currently calling for, though, and even if they were it would be virtually impossible to police in any meaningful way. Locking down every West African country affected would cost an insane amount of money (assuming it could even be achieved), and would essentially cut the people within those countries off from the rest of the planet, leaving them to their fate. It would be a real-life version of Albert Camus's novel The Plague, in fact -- only on a much larger scale (since Camus only wrote about one North African city being forcibly quarantined). The cold-heartedness of this reality is likely why nobody's proposed it. Yet.

This might be a conceivable proposition if the affected area were on a planet of its own, and we were talking about interstellar space flights instead of airplanes. That's really about the only way it could work. After all, the only way to get off a planet is by spaceship -- you can't swim a river or drive across a border to get to a new planet, after all. In the movie Aliens (the second in the Alien franchise), Ellen Ripley argues for an absolute travel ban on the planet she narrowly escaped from, because that would be a permanent solution to the problem of the nasty aliens -- an effective and complete quarantine. When she is turned down, she poignantly asks: "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"

This is ironic, since those now advocating for a West African travel ban are now showing their own ignorance of the feasibility of what they are suggesting. The most prominent example this week was a Republican House member from Florida, who insisted that direct flights from these countries currently fly to America, stating "I believe there are some flights." When a reporter informed him: "There are no flights. There are no direct flights that come to the United States from West Africa," this mental giant responded: "It will not solve the problem. It is a step in the right direction." This has got to be the most convincing poster-child example of do-somethingism yet displayed in this debate, but it will certainly not be the last one. I should mention that some Democrats (especially those in tight election races right now) are jumping on this bandwagon too, in political fear.

Oh, sure, I don't doubt that Congress would have a whole lot of fun (and make stacks and stacks of political hay) by voting for a travel ban, but the hard cold fact is that it will not work. Period. It just won't. There are multiple reasons why this is true, in fact. Let's just run down the biggest and most prominent reasons why this do-somethingism is doomed to abject failure in achieving its supposed goals.

The first glaring problem a travel ban would have is that, so far, every single proposal I've seen would only cover "non-citizens." Because of course everyone knows that Americans are protected by a magical force field and do not contract diseases no matter where they tread. The first Ebola patients on American soil were, in fact, Americans. They were health workers who had been fighting the disease and caught it themselves. Their magic American force field didn't work, in other words. All the proposed travel bans would still have let them in. So what good would such a travel ban have done in their cases? A true travel ban would cover everyone, no matter what passport they carried. This is not considered an option by the politicians, though. And it's worth noting that nobody got infected from these people after they arrived, because they were properly cared for.

The second enormous problem is that air travel is not the only way to get around. There are many other ways to get from West Africa to the rest of the world, including by land and by sea. How are we going to address travel that doesn't go through an airport, or only goes through an airport in a country not affected by the ban? None of the proposals I've heard even begins to address this rather large loophole.

The third gigantic problem is deciding where to ban travel from. As mentioned, there are zero commercial flights between the affected countries and American airports. None. Nada. What this means is that everyone travelling from these countries to America has to go through another airport somewhere. So which countries are we going to actually ban travel from? Those who haven't instituted their own travel bans? Well, currently, aside from some African countries, that covers pretty much the entire globe. Maybe we could just ban those making travel connections in Europe -- the most common place to lay over while traveling from West Africa to America.

Which European airports are we going to ban travel from? All of them? Those with connections between America and West Africa? What about countries that have already taken in their own Ebola patients, like Spain? Should we ban all travel from Spain? No American politician has seriously proposed any such thing. European/American trade would collapse if we indeed were stupid enough to try such a wide ban on travel.

This brings up a related question that -- again -- no American politician has even touched with a ten-foot pole. Since the only place in America where Ebola was actually transmitted from one patient to another is Texas, why not institute a travel ban on Texas? Shut its borders, and don't allow any Texans to travel to the other 49 states -- after all, we have to "do something," right? Since Texas is the only hotspot for Ebola, let's just quarantine it (using the same logic the travel banners are now deploying). Surely Rick Perry, who is in favor of travel bans in general, would support such a thing, right? Once again, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for an American politician to suggest such a thing.

Since people are traveling from West Africa to other places before they fly to America, why not just check their passports? Anyone with any sort of stamp from any affected country would then be banned from travelling here. Wouldn't that work? Well, no. No, it wouldn't. President Obama tried to explain why the other night:

If we institute a travel ban instead of the protocols that we've put in place now, history shows that there is a likelihood of increased avoidance. People do not readily disclose their information. They may engage in something called broken travel -- essentially breaking up their trip so they can hide the fact that they have been to one of these countries where there is a disease in place. As a result, we may end up getting less information about who has the disease, they are less likely to get treated properly, screened properly, quarantined properly and as a consequence we could end up having more cases rather than less.

The more harsh barricades to entry people face, the bigger and bigger their incentive to lie, in other words. We are now relying on voluntary statements from travelers, who know that if they answer "yes" to any of the questions, they will not be denied entry to the country and will not be forcibly quarantined. If either of those were true, people would lie. Not just people, either, but whole countries might then join in the efforts to evade the restrictions (West African countries might just stop stamping entry passports, to give just one easy example).

Slamming America's borders shut to the rest of the world would be the only way to be sure no more Ebola-infected people enter the country. It would have to be an absolute ban. Fortress America. Texas would have to be sealed off from the other 49 states, as well. International travel to and from the country would have to entirely cease. This is not going to happen, for a multitude of reasons (the accompanying apocalyptic collapse of the world's economy would likely be reason number one in this list).

I admit, it feels good to "do something," for both politicians and the public alike. "Why won't somebody do something?" is always an agonizing question to pose. But easy answers to a disease transmission do not actually exist. This is not a partisan statement, either. Former Health and Human Services Secretary (and Republican) Mike Leavitt, who was in charge of bird flu preparedness under George W. Bush recently said that they had intensely studied a travel ban but concluded it would not work. And that was for a disease that was much more virulent than Ebola, because it was an airborne virus -- which Ebola is not.

The protocols and voluntary screening in place are working, however. This is the news that is getting lost in the "do something" panic attack. Health officials have screened 36,000 people leaving West Africa over the past two months. Of all these people, 77 had flu-like symptoms. Out of the possible sick people, guess how many had Ebola? None. Zero. At American airports, screening has just begun. Once again, no cases have been identified yet. When such cases are detected, proper precautions can be taken -- because the screening is working. If a travel ban were in place, how many of these people would lie about where they've been? How many would then just disappear into the populace without being monitored?

The proposals for a travel ban which are currently being discussed would indeed "do something." They would make the problem worse. We would all be in the midst of patting ourselves on the back for "doing something" while people began sneaking under the "do something" radar.

It would be nice if Congress could pass a law requiring virus molecules to all carry their own passports. In this Utopian dream world, we could screen for these passports at the border, by waving a magic wand. "Oh, sorry, while your human passport checks out, some molecules in your blood appear to have travelled through West Africa, so I'm very sorry but you can't come in." This is a nice fantasy for someone exhibiting the mental skills of an 11-year-old, but it is not and will never become reality.

Passing any of the proposed travel bans -- most especially the ones that don't even address American citizens' travel -- would make all concerned feel better. Call it "feel-goodism" or "do-somethingism" or just plain old "magical thinking," it would indeed raise spirits. But it would do absolutely nothing to stop Ebola from entering America, and in fact it might even make it easier. Sometimes the answer isn't to do something, but rather to continue doing what has so far been working well.

Ebola will be beaten (if humanity is ultimately successful in fighting this outbreak) in West Africa itself. To beat it, health workers from the rest of the world have to have access. A travel ban would interrupt this access, and allow the virus to spread further in the hot zone. By making the problem worse in West Africa, the problem for the rest of the world also gets worse. A travel ban would be completely counterproductive, and would in fact help the Ebola virus itself.

Take a deep breath, everyone, and try not to give in to the fearmongers. Or, to put it another way: "Don't panic."

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

40 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [324] -- Don't Panic”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    Now that's the way to immediately take advantage of your opponent shooting himself in the foot, folks! The Florida Democratic Party, for their lighting-quick ad (and for their "cool" sense of humor), has more than earned this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.

    Wait a minute... You can't give Crist a MIDOTW award!!

    He's a Republican..

    Oh no, wait.. He's a Democrat now....

    Or is he an Independent???

    Wait.. Maybe he is just a moron politician.. Not sure...

    :D

    Michale

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yes, a travel ban is ridiculous..

    On the OTHER hand, we have a Dallas nurse who contacted the CDC about symptoms and was STILL cleared to take a flight on a public aircraft **WHILE SYMPTOMATIC**!!!

    So, yea.. A travel ban is moronic..

    But not as moronic as sending infected people on public transportation....

    That's more than moronic. That's deadly!

    Michale

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    This might be a conceivable proposition if the affected area were on a planet of its own, and we were talking about interstellar space flights instead of airplanes. That's really about the only way it could work. After all, the only way to get off a planet is by spaceship -- you can't swim a river or drive across a border to get to a new planet, after all. In the movie Aliens (the second in the Alien franchise), Ellen Ripley argues for an absolute travel ban on the planet she narrowly escaped from, because that would be a permanent solution to the problem of the nasty aliens -- an effective and complete quarantine. When she is turned down, she poignantly asks: "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"

    :D .. just :D

    Michale

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    "Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine [for Ebola] in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,"

    “Claims that CDC and NIH have not had enough funding to do Ebola research are nonsense,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute.

    At the CDC, funding has remained relatively steady.

    Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler notes that the CDC budget has “bounced around” $6.5 billion every year of the Obama administration.

    In both 2013 and 2014, it was Congress that boosted the funding after the administration had proposed scaled-back budgets.

    According to reports, when the 2014 budget was passed in January, the CDC’s budget rose to $6.9 billion, $567 million more than it received in 2013 and more than the agency anticipated, as the president only requested $6.6 billion.

    While it appears stagnant from 2009 numbers, it is still double the budget the CDC was getting in 2000 ($3.4 billion), Edwards points out.

    With NIH, the numbers have edged up from $28.5 billion in 2006 to $30.14 billion in 2014, Kessler said. That’s technically an increase – but with inflation, it’s more like a cut.

    But Kessler also points out that NIH was given an extra $10 billion in stimulus funds in 2009.

    While neither agency was getting all the money it wanted, Kessler points out that what happened in the last few budgets was not a “slash and burn” by Republicans, but a tug-of-war between Congress and the president which culminated in the 2013 sequestration cuts. Those cuts, including a $1.5 billion cut to NIH, affected all government agencies indiscriminately.

    “There’s no doubt that spending has been cut, or at least failed to keep pace with inflation, but the fingerprints of both parties are on the knives,” Kessler wrote in The Washington Post Fact Checker.

    Kessler gave the Democratic allegations that Republican budgets were at fault for the poor Ebola response four “Pinocchios,” and called them “absurd.”

    I'm just sayin'.... :D

    Michale

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am also constrained to point out that NIH had tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention boo koo man hours that went for studies on obese lesbians and origami condoms, at the behest of the Democrat Administration...

    There is plenty of blame to go around... :D

    Michale

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    $2,873,440 studying obese lesbians.

    $466,642 studying why obese girls have a tough time getting dates.

    $2,075,611 to encourage senior citizen to join choirs.

    And this is the same agency that is claiming that because their funding is cut, they couldn't study Ebola???

    Sheeya right..

    They fact is, it was never a priority because no one thought it would ever come over here...

    Michale

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    They fact is, it was never a priority because no one thought it would ever come over here...

    Once again, seeing the world as they WISH it to be, rather than how it really is..

    Michale

  8. [8] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    The hajj ended just last week. We need to ban flights from everywhere.

    http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    The hajj ended just last week.

    Yea??

    So???

    Michale

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh.

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    As far as the DON'T PANIC message, let's face reality here..

    The only reason that Democrats are screaming DON'T PANIC is because it's DEMOCRATS who will get the blame for the panic..

    If Republicans were to be the victims of the PANIC message, Democrats would be stoking the fear-mongering to high heaven...

    Of course, the converse is true.. Republicans would be harping the DON'T PANIC message then...

    The methods and reactions are so predictable...

    Michale

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Mutant Ebola warning: Leading U.S. scientist warns deadly virus is already changing to become more contagious

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2798086/mutant-ebola-warning-leading-u-s-scientist-warns-deadly-virus-changing-contagious.html

    Let me know when it's OK to panic??? :D

    Michale

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    I read the article in your link which led me to the interview with Dr. Peter Jarhling, the cited leading US scientist.

    You should have a look at it. He's telling you not to panic and that, which a change in the transmission of the virus is possible, it is ... how did he put it ... "highly unlikely"!

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    "Highly Unlikely" has a funny way of turning out to be a lot less unlikely than people think..

    Of course, "panic" is a misnomer.. No one should "panic"...

    But, while things are a lot LESS serious than the MSM portrays, things are a lot more serious than the administration would have us believe...

    Michale

  16. [16] 
    TheStig wrote:

    ""Highly Unlikely" has a funny way of turning out to be a lot less unlikely than people think.."

    So true, Michael.

    While governments must not succumb to panic, they cannot ignore that airline traffic across the planet is completely linked! A resolute passenger can travel from A (Africa) to point B (USA) via a generous mesh of potential connections C-Z and false papers. Said passenger can Swiftly compare hundreds of travel sites at once! So, as an immediate first step, pull the plug on Kayak!!!!!! Even though their ads are the best thing on TV...especially the one with the adjunct professor of Chinese history ....and the one where the guy loses all his fingers.

    But, that modest proposal, while a good first step in the right direction, is, in fact completely insufficient. Even without electronic devices, it would possible, if difficult, to find an affordable travel package, with meals and lodging (better than vending machines and lobby chairs) that would get an enterprising Ebola incubator anywhere on Earth in less than 21 days, the critical incubation period.

    This is not a time for modest proposals. No this crisis demands one Kardashian of a proposal. Here it is: a ban on Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Steamships.

    I'm not proposing some form of world isolationism, merely that we get used to traveling internationally very slowly. Foot, bicycle, rickshaw, wind and oar powered vessels (2 knots, tops, strictly enforced). It worked for the Roman Empire. It can work for us. Think of the jobs that will be created...rickshaw drivers, oarspeople, the makers of sturdy shoes and horse drawn carts. The makers of horses, which come to think of it are other horses, so I'll rephrase that as horse breeders. Inns will sprout up like mushrooms!

    I'm not saying this will be easy, or necessarily permanent, but it will be colorful. Plus you'll really get a chance to see the countryside, meet the people, eat the food, and sample the local diarrhea remedies (Pepto in Mexico tastes like licorice).

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    TS,

    You got jokes.. :D

    Hopefully, circumstances won't prove that your suggestion is EXACTLY what should have been done.. :^/

    Regardless, if we had a GOP Administration, ya'all would be screaming to high heaven about travel bans and border closings...

    :D

    Like I said.. Predictable.. :D

    Michale

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    I have a regular customer at my computer shop. He's a pharmacist.. He told me today that he has to go to Texas next week to attend an "Ebola Seminar"..

    According to him, the government is predicting that this current outbreak will explode in the coming weeks and that anyone even remotely associated with medical issues are going to be inundated...

    This guy is a professional, not a crackpot and not prone to wild flights of fancy....

    Adding his story to others I am hearing thru back channels, things are definitely more serious than the administration is telling us...

    I am not ready to crack the seals on my fallout shelter and move the armory... :D

    But it is..... interesting...

    But then again, like Dustin Hoffman in OUTBREAK, I have this morbid desire to face the end of the world..

    I think the wife and I will watch THE STAND tonight.. :D

    Michale

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    But, while things are a lot LESS serious than the MSM portrays, things are a lot more serious than the administration would have us believe...

    How so?

  20. [20] 
    dsws wrote:

    There will be other emerging infectious diseases, and eventually one will have the potential to be worse than the 1918 flu. Probably by that time we'll have something to prevent it from realizing that potential. It might be fast and cheap diagnosis, so that mass screening can detect cases before they become infectious. It might be fast vaccine development, so that people likely to be exposed can be vaccinated within days after an outbreak is discovered. It might be prospective monitoring of potential threats, so that vaccines can be developed against the most deadly possible strains that might mutate from existing viruses, before they even appear.

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    dsws,

    Now, that's the kind of optimism I'd like to see more of around here!

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    How so?

    Simple... The administration has a POLITICAL reason to make sure no one panics... See Comment #11

    That, coupled with the fact that this particular administration is well-known for lying thru it's teeth when politics are in play, is a pretty sure indication that things are worse than the government wants us to believe..

    Michale

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    Now, that's the kind of optimism I'd like to see more of around here!

    http://tinyurl.com/mfkql7b

    "Kum bay ya, my Lord, kum bay ya;
    Kum bay ya, my Lord, kum bay ya;
    Kum bay ya, my Lord, kum bay ya,
    O Lord, kum bay ya."

    :D

    Michale

  24. [24] 
    Michale wrote:

    If I may go way WAY off topic here for a second.... Since most of us here are very computer literate, I need some help..

    I have a customer who came into my shop with a damaged hard drive.. In frustration she slammed her laptop closed and the laptop wouldn't boot up after that.

    I pulled the HD and put it on a USB external connector. HD spins up, but there is a lot of clicking, like the heads are flipping back and forth but it wasn't recognized at all...

    The girl was in tears as there are very important personal pictures of their new baby on the HD with no other backup...

    They can't afford hundreds of dollars for data retrieval. Are there any other options?? I am somewhat wary about tackling the job myself, but am willing to do so as a last resort... At one time I have bought a platter removal tool, but can't recall if it was for a 3.5" drive or a 2.5".

    Has anyone used a commercial Data Retrieval service that's inexpensive?? I know I can GOOGLE for DR Services, but I am looking more for personal recommendations..

    Thanx in advance and please excuse the off-topic-ness of the post...

    Thanx in advance for any help..

    Michale

  25. [25] 
    dsws wrote:

    More? Ok. There will probably never be another infectious-disease event anywhere near as bad as the Columbian exchange.

  26. [26] 
    TheStig wrote:

    20-dws

    "prospective monitoring of potential threats, so that vaccines can be developed against the most deadly possible strains that might mutate from existing viruses, before they even appear."

    Interesting approach, but most of the evolution is happening in species reservoirs outside the human genome. We notice it when the pathogens jump the species barrier, although jumps don't necessarily indicate genetic changes - changes in human behaviors can cause jumps by allowing or increasing exposure to a potential pathogen. How many species can we expect to monitor....and understand well enough that the monitoring allows us to predict something?

    Medicine has been, and will probably always be, "tombstone research." Big advances are stimulated by big disasters. Medicine is in an arms race with evolution, and evolution gets to make the first move most of the time.

  27. [27] 
    TheStig wrote:

    21 - Liz

    Overall, I'm optimistic. Ebola will not become endemic in North America. Ebola vaccines will probably be developed for mass inoculation in regions where the disease is endemic, but the time line to full implementation might well be a decade or more. Until then, better public health systems in Africa will have to be the stopgap. I'm optimistic, not panglossian. A lot more Africans are going to die from this outbreak.

    Everybody in the US (and Canada) needs to take a deep breath and do something useful. Which for most people is don't panic.

  28. [28] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    They can't afford hundreds of dollars for data retrieval. Are there any other options?? I am somewhat wary about tackling the job myself, but am willing to do so as a last resort... At one time I have bought a platter removal tool, but can't recall if it was for a 3.5" drive or a 2.5".

    Has anyone used a commercial Data Retrieval service that's inexpensive?? I know I can GOOGLE for DR Services, but I am looking more for personal recommendations..

    I've never had to do data retrieval but out of college I worked in a clean room sputtering hard drive platters. If you take the drive apart, you probably would want to do so in a clean room environment. At least a class 10,000. I worked in class 10 & class 100 clean rooms when sputtering disks. The class number is the number of particles greater than a micron per square foot. A typical room has about 400,000 particles per square foot. Once contaminated by normal air, those platters would likely give lots of errors even if you could get the heads to read them again. The precision between head and disk is pretty extreme in a modern drive. That is why the pro's get so much money for hard drive data recovery. It's been quite a few years, but when I was doing it, laptop platters were made of glass and very delicate.

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    Bashi,

    Yea, that's what I was afraid of.. :(

    Thanx

    Michale

  30. [30] 
    dsws wrote:

    most of the evolution is happening in species reservoirs outside the human

    Or at least the most important evolution for emerging diseases specifically. I thought about mentioning monitoring of human-compatible pathogens in non-human animals, but the paragraph had gone on long enough already.

  31. [31] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    M

    If the HDD is a SATA drive you can look around for a USB 2.0 non powered adapter. I had to do data recovery from an old SATA drive (complete with clicking heads) using the non powered adapter cable. Using the non-powered adapter changes the way in which the drive heads engage at start-up.

    I also used Ghost to do a straight transfer, bad sectors and all, to a new drive before I attempted any data repairs work as the old drive was very fragile.

    I used a Startec product ( sorry don't remember the model number for the adapter). The non powered adapter trick won't always work if the drive is totally toast, but it is worth a shot, the guy who taught me the trick uses it to resurrect NAS drive arrays that have started to implode...FWIW

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    TS,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Everybody in the US (and Canada) needs to take a deep breath and do something useful. Which for most people is don't panic.

    I think the cases in the US are a good wake-up call for all healthcare providers on this continent- across the board, at every level - in terms of being properly prepared for handling infectious diseases effectively.

  33. [33] 
    Michale wrote:
  34. [34] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [1] -

    I was actually in the room when Crist declared himself a Democrat. Happened at the national convention in 2012 (OK, it was a BIG room, but still...).

    He signed over to becoming a Democrat in the White House, immediately after the second inauguration.

    Just a historical footnote...

    As for the Republican, boy what a mess at the debate, eh? Heh.

    Michale [2] -

    Quarantine Texas! "It's the only way to be sure" (Ellen Ripley, same movie)

    Michale [3] -

    Now, you know I stuck that in there just for you... bonus points if you can quote the line Ripley said just before "It's the only way to be sure." A bit extreme, even for Texas....

    Heh.

    Michale [11] -

    So, by inference, you're saying that Republicans are screaming "panic!" only because they know it'll help them politically, right?

    Here's a quote for you from a Republican operative:

    But the Times story ended with an odd fillip: “In reality, Republicans are not planning a legislative response, at least for now, Republican leadership aides said Monday. They merely want their voices heard.”

    from:

    http://www.salon.com/2014/10/21/gop%E2%80%99s_travel_ban_insanity_why_their_latest_ebola_farce_is_so_absurd/

    In essence: a travel ban isn't important to actually pass immediately in Congress, it is merely an issue we're campaigning on because we think it'll help us. There's simply no other way to read that statement.

    OK, gotta take a break. More comment responses in a bit.

    -CW

  35. [35] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig [16] -

    I know you're kidding, but...

    one of the scariest books I ever read was by a science fiction author, Frank Herbert (of Dune fame), called "The White Plague." It was written back in the 1980s, but very accurately warns of the perils of recombinant DNA studies and how easy they were for some mad scientist to misuse. The plague in name was released in response to terrorism (an IRA attack which happened to kill the scientist's wife and kids), and killed only females. Women almost go extinct, across the planet (the virus is highly contagious). The scientist releases it himself, by booking an extensive tour around the world on airplanes, and stopping off in every city to walk across the airport parking lot and feed some birds.

    It's one of the scariest doomsday scenario books I've ever read, and I recommend it to those who enjoy such things. Remember, this was written over 30 years ago, and is still frighteningly possible. With 1980s technology, no less.

    Michale [17] -

    See: SARS. Happened under Bush. Airborne. Calls for travel bans were rather frantic by some politicians (Republicans included). Bush held firm, listened to the scientists, and didn't panic. It wasn't a big political issue, in the end.

    Now, what lesson can we draw from this, kiddies?

    dsws [20] -

    You know what I hope? I hope those guys that dug up the 1918 flu virus have developed an effective vaccine for it. I'd hate for that one to get loose again.

    Some bright spark decided to do research on the 1918 strain. They went up to Alaska and dug up bodies from people who died of it and had been buried in the permafrost (nature's freezer). They did indeed get live cultures from the lungs of one of the bodies, so they now have this bug in some lab somewhere. Like I said, I hope the FIRST thing they did with it was to develop a vaccine...

    For more info, in case anyone's interested, here's a column I did on this a while back:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2009/05/25/memorial-day-for-flu-victims/

    Michale [24] -

    My only experience is with software, not hardware. I wouldn't know where to begin. When I had a similar problem with a hard drive, I took it to a professional (fairly cheap), sorry.

    dsws [125] -

    Yeah, good point. Unless, of course, one of the Earth's "extinction events" were bio/virus based.

    But the devastation of Native Americans by smallpox and other diseases was mind-blowing in scale. Estimates today are that 90 percent of the population died. To make matters worse, when a whole village died and there were only one or two survivors, they would move inland to another tribe, and thus infect them. Even Europe's Black Death was only 33%, not 90-95%. Those are pretty severe and genocidal numbers.

    -CW

  36. [36] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    One final thought...

    ...no credit from any sci-fi fans for quoting both HGTTG and Aliens in the same column? I'm disappointed!

    :-)

    -CW

  37. [37] 
    Michale wrote:

    Now, you know I stuck that in there just for you... bonus points if you can quote the line Ripley said just before "It's the only way to be sure." A bit extreme, even for Texas....

    OK, this is from memory...

    "We blast off this hell hole and nuke the site from orbit.. It's the only way to be sure..."
    "Might I remind everyone that this site has a substantial monetary value."
    "They can bill me!!"

    :D

    Michale

  38. [38] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    My only experience is with software, not hardware. I wouldn't know where to begin. When I had a similar problem with a hard drive, I took it to a professional (fairly cheap), sorry.

    Did you use a local company??

    Do you recall who??

    Michale

  39. [39] 
    Michale wrote:

    tinyurl.com/orpau8u

    tinyurl.com/ofwzuy2

    Yea... No threat of voter fraud whatsoever.... :^/

    Michale

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yo, YoYo...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/new-evidence-supports-officers-account-of-shooting-in-ferguson/2014/10/22/cf38c7b4-5964-11e4-bd61-346aee66ba29_story.html

    One of these days, you will come to realize that, when it comes to incidents such as this, I actually DO know what I am talking about...

    I predicted this outcome months ago...

    Michale

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