Death By Stupid

The anti-vax death toll continues to mount.  Here’s the latest misery to come across my desk (h/t Seth Mnookin):

Kathryn Riffenburg decided on a closed casket for her baby’s funeral.

She didn’t want her family to see what whooping cough, her son’s first illness, had done to 9-week-old Brady Alcaide. The nearly forgotten disease, which has in recent years afflicted thousands of Americans, left Brady’s tiny body swollen and unrecognizable.

Riffenburg herself isn’t an anti-vaxxer; she didn’t know she needed a booster for her own prior immunization.  But that’s the thing about herd immunity:  if enough of the population has vaccine-induced protection, then the disease itself runs out of reservoirs that can touch the remaining vulnerable hosts.  When the vaccination level dips too low…


This is non-partisan stupid, as we know– if anything skewing more blue than red.  Oregon shows the highest rate of vaccine refusal, with next door Idaho one of several states just behind that dismal record.  Distrust of evil doctors and distrust of the state feed bad decisions across political commitments.

As a first order of business, efforts state by state to make non-medical exemptions as hard to get as possible seems like the way to go.  But the underlying pathology is not one to be fixed simply by the (needed) legislative patches.  This is one more campaign in an ongoing culture war — which we need to fight on at least two fronts:  against woo, which really does know no political boundaries, and versus faux populist jihad on expertise, which is right now much more the property of the GOP than anyone else.  Until those battles are won, we will continue to hear this kind of news — tales of yet more collateral damage inflicted by other folk’s dumb, dumb, dumb choices:

Jeremiah Mitchell, 10, plays Xbox with no hands, writes with a pencil strapped to what remains of his arms and prefers eating pizza because it’s one of the few foods he can hold.

Four years ago, doctors working to rid his body of meningitis amputated both his arms and legs as well as parts of his eyelids, jaw and ears. At the time, Jeremiah, then 6, was a kindergartner in Oologah-Talala Public Schools in Oklahoma. An outbreak of meningitis in the school system killed two children and infected five others, including Jeremiah.

Go read the whole wretched story.  I haven’t pulled the peak stupid quotes.  Too much utterly unnecessary suffering.

*Yeah — I know that’s a cartoon on many levels.  But the meaning behind the (deeply flawed) metaphor is clear enough, I think.

Image:  English School, Portrait of a Dead child, 1624.

168 replies
  1. 1
    Belafon says:

    I will skip the story. If there’s one thing that makes me just go all sick is when things happen to children, especially those that could have been prevented.

  2. 2
    MomSense says:


  3. 3
    C.V. Danes says:

    We’ll get right on it in 2015 after the Republican-controlled Senate impeaches Obama and reverses the ACA.

  4. 4
    NCSteve says:

    @Belafon: The thing that makes me sick is the inevitable rush of antivaxxers to the comments of every story like this, eager to defend their homicidal imbecility.

    It’s like glibertarians rushing in to the comments of every story that’s critical of Rand Paul or Bitcoin except with more corpses.

  5. 5
    Gene108 says:

    The anti-vaxxers I know are also big into organic foods and naturopathy.

    I think we need to revamp how are regulatory agencies work before you can hope to connect with the anti-vax crowd.

    They have a general distrust of a government that allows azodicarbonamide to be used as a bleaching agent in bread, even though it is often found in things like yoga mats and this spills over to vaccinations.

    Why should you trust the government, pharmaceutical companies, etc, when we pump so many questionable substances into our bodies, with the blessing of those in charge.

    One does not correlate with the other, but this is the sort of correlations anti-vax folks make.

  6. 6

    @C.V. Danes: With cheerleaders like you who needs the Republicans. Go ahead and depress the vote.

  7. 7
    Tod Kelly says:

    “Oregon shows the highest rate of vaccine refusal”

    As a Portlander, I think it bears noting that in terms of Oregon trends it isn’t just vaccine. Last year PDX voted down having fluoridated water.

  8. 8
    eric says:

    @NCSteve: it is worse than that too. with their smug: “you do know that Big Pharma is the one making money off of the vaccines?” Yes, I know that. thanks, but last I checked, the Red Cross does not handle the development and production of vaccines for first world populations. That is their go to line, along with pointing out that doctors run the medical studies supporting vaccines. Again, no shit. This is their bulwark against repudiation. It is a quasi-populist, anti-corporatist lingo that resonates with those disinclined to like wholly capitalistic medicine, i.e., the Left. There is no way to rebut these two “arguments” because they are true — doctors and Bog Pharma are intimately involved in vaccines. There is no other way.

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Woo is everywhere, and the ‘tubes are fucking filled with it.

    There is a dearth of critical thinking skills out there, as well as an insane distrust of science because it’s not understood. It doesn’t help that the pharmaceutical industry is perceived as a pack of greedheads eager to find endless ways of extracting money from your pockets, even though that has precious little to do with vaccinations.

    Then, of course, there’s the entire Reaganist “Government is the problem, not the solution” mentality.

  10. 10
    gratuitous says:

    I really, truly, can’t explain Oregon. We had a ballot measure on the city ballot last year to fluoridate the drinking water, and it failed miserably. All the passion was on the side of what I can only guess is the juvenile dental lobby, hoping for more kids to go to the dentist or something. We’re also horrible on childhood vaccinations, and the only anecdote I know of is my ex-sister-in-law who didn’t want her kids vaccinated – probably because of the expense – but who conveniently fell back on a hereditary Jehovah’s Witness faith that she didn’t practice.

    There really do need to be tougher practices in place for exemptions.

  11. 11
    eric says:

    @Gene108: exactly.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Please recalibrate snark meter, Ceiling Cat advises!

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OT, but hilarious, from Noisemax:

    George Will: Race Card Becomes Joke to Young

    The joke is on you, George.

  14. 14
    Brian R. says:

    Too bad it’s not just their own kids the anti-vaccine assholes are putting at risk.

    Fucking morons.

  15. 15
    The Dangerman says:

    As for DBS, I’ve been pondering how much money was saved by not placing barriers down the median of one of the heaviest truck trafficked, most likely to be sped upon (just try driving speed limit between LA and SF) interstates in the country.

  16. 16
    Gene108 says:


    I think it is beyond the circular logic you state, though it plays a part.

    Over the last 45+ years Americans have developed a seething distrust of government. On the Right it is manifest in wanting to gut the social safety net.

    On the Left it is a cynical distrust of ” the Man” and the unnatural things that are done to our foods, for example, which are not good for us but are ubiquitous, like HFCS.

    The Right cannot be appeased unless government is sacrificed on the alter of individual greed.

    I think the Left can be appeased by copying EU standards on food additives, GMO labeling, etc, because a lot of the noise on the Left is “it is banned in the EU, why is it legal here.”

    This also extends to fluoride in our water supply, because apparently Europe does not add fluoride to its water supply.

    I think the anti-vax crowd has a bit of European envy, many on the Left have, and moving towards better regulations can win over a few anti-vaxxers. The true believers will always find another conspiracy to justify their actions.

  17. 17
    Cervantes says:

    What’s “a cartoon on many levels”?

  18. 18
    Goblue72 says:

    @Gene108: Calcium sulfate is used to make tofu. It’s also found in Sheetrock. There are lots of chemicals (at very low concentrations) used in food that are also used in industrial applications.

    The yoga mat thing is ridiculous hysteria as well.

    These are the same people who think taking 1/1000th of an aspirin for a headache is more effective than taking an actual aspirin.

  19. 19
    Roger Moore says:


    They have a general distrust of a government that allows azodicarbonamide to be used as a bleaching agent in bread, even though it is often found in things like yoga mats and this spills over to vaccinations.

    Sorry, but this kind of comment is just as much woo as the anti-vax stuff. There are plenty of chemicals that have multiple uses and wind up being used in wildly different applications, some of which are unappealing sounding. Chemicals like salt and sugar are used in all kinds of industrial processes, but that doesn’t make people afraid* of them because they’re familiar. But take an unfamiliar chemical with a weird sounding name and say it’s used in industrial processes, and people automatically assume it must be dangerous. People falling for it is a sign of the exact same scientific illiteracy that leads to the anti-vax nonsense, not a sign that the government is doing something wrong that gives people a legitimate reason to be suspicious of it.

    *Of course there are plenty of people who try to limit their intake of salt and/or sugar, but that’s because of things specific to those substances, not because they’re also used as industrial chemicals.

  20. 20
    Violet says:

    Jenny McCarthy must be feeling some heat on this issue. She’s come out saying she’s “not anti-vaccine”. She talks about a “gray area” where parents can choose how fast their kids get vaccinated or some crap.

  21. 21
    SatanicPanic says:

    I hate to go all Totebagger, but sometimes the fucking hippies are just wrong and stupid. Mostly I can laugh when they’re overpaying for gluten-free soymilk or whatever, but this kind of shit makes me angry as hell

  22. 22
    opiejeanne says:

    My youngest worked at Disneyland as a “face character” before the vaccine for chickenpox was readily available. She told me that every one of the princesses who had not had it before caught it, and a few who had already had it caught it again . My kid had had it when she was 5 and had gained enough immunity, but she said that the sick kids she saw were almost all foreign and if they wanted a hug they got it even if covered with spots, as many were; park policy. The princesses got the brunt of it; the kids just wanted to play with her because she was closer to their size, and the sickest ones just sat in the rented strollers. (she was not a princess; Think little English girl, blond hair, blue dress, white pinafore)
    The parents of these kids had probably thought the child only had a little sniffle when they boarded the plane and by the time the spots appeared they were here, had spent several thousands getting here, and by gum nothing was going to keep them out of the park. It’s entirely selfish and indefensible, but understandable.

  23. 23
    Ash Can says:

    @eric: The way you rebut those arguments is the same way you rebut the people who consider the second amendment a sacrament: “Too fucking bad. Children are dying. It’s up to you to put a stop to that.”

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: The problem traces back to a distrust of words that sound “sciency”, if you will. Dihydrogen Monoxide needs to be banned! This chemical can and does kill people all the time! DHMO is deadly!

    Again, critical thinking skills help with fighting this, but critical thinking skills are something that the Texas GOP actively seeks to discourage.

  25. 25
    rikyrah says:

    this just makes me mad. Just makes me angry.

  26. 26
    DaveinMaine says:

    @SatanicPanic: Exactly. As long as it only affects themselves, I don’t really care what someone else does. But when their whackadoodle shit starts killing kids, they need to fall in fucking line.

  27. 27
    opiejeanne says:

    @eric: And the anti-vaxxers who don’t have kids? They are anti-vax for their dogs, but feel enlightened enough to comment on the vaccination of children. One neighbor who is totally into the woo told me that vaccination isn’t necessary because things are different these days. I like her but Jebus I wanted to yell at her.

  28. 28
    dr. luba says:

    ACOG recently updated its recommendations for TDAP in pregnancy. Becasue of the outbreaks of pertussis that have been ocurring, in 2011 it was recommended that women who hadn’t had a previous TDAP get one in pregnancy. In 2012 this was revisted, and early last year updated recommendations were published. ACOG recommends that health care personnel administer a dose of Tdap during each pregnancy, irrespective of the patient’s prior history of receiving TDAP. Period.

    The mother in question should have been immunized during her pregnancy. Why she wasn’t is the question. All pregnant women are supposed to receive the recommendation from their doctors. You can’t force someone ot get immunized, however. Many women don’t bother, for whatever reason.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @SatanicPanic: Sometimes the fucking hippies are beyond wrong. This is one of the groups in Oregon who ally themselves with Bircher scum on flouridation.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:


    She’s come out saying she’s “not anti-vaccine”.

    She’s not “anti-vaccine”, but she does claim that all the vaccines we have are dangerous crap. It’s about the same as the purity ponies’ attitude toward the Democratic party; they are OK with the idea of the Democrats doing stuff, but they hate all the stuff the Democrats are actually doing.

  31. 31
    Original Lee says:

    @Gene108: Sucrose (you know, table sugar) is used in a wide variety of industrial applications. So what?

  32. 32
    beltane says:

    @Goblue72: They’re also the same type of people who will be attracted to a package of bacon because it says “Gluten Free” on the label, demonstrating that they, in fact, have no idea what gluten is.

    I live in hippie central and have learned the hard way that many of these people are every bit as butt-ignorant and judgmental as the Christian fundies. One mother I knew even put in a request to her son’s preschool that he not ever be seated next to children who consumed GMO foods. No amount of regulatory tweaking is going to cure that level of stupid.

  33. 33
    RSR says:

    efforts state by state to make non-medical exemptions as hard to get as possible seems like the way to go

    Aren’t the non-medical exemptions usually religious or conscience exemptions? I think that’s a tough climb, because you’re stepping into 1st amendment issues.

    Getting to 95% participation for herd immunity should be a priority. Of course, 100% – 27% < 95%, so there's an issue there, too.

    My wife was talking with a pediatrician the other night about vaccinations. This doctor works primarily with kids on the younger end of teenage years. My wife mentioned that our boys get everything their pediatrician (Dr/prof at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) recommends. Our 12 yo even has gotten the HPV vaccine.

    First, the doctor said, that's great, and that she sees too many kids who come in at 13, 14 years old, and it's already too late (meaning the kids have already been sexually active). Second, the doctor wanted to know why we decided to get our 12 yo vaccinated for HPV. My wife said, "Two words: penis cancer."

    The doctor went on to say the way she gets many parents to participate in HPV is by explaining that it's the one cancer we have defeated; that we can absolutely prevent. She said she gets very good participation when she presents it that way.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @beltane: The stupid. It burns. It also kills.

  35. 35
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I remember thinking “how long before the Glenn Beck crowd starts repeating this?” Not long! Good work hippies!

  36. 36
    Ash Can says:

    @Violet: I’d love to see Jenny McCarthy slapped with a civil suit that leaves her with just enough assets to ride the bus downtown to the welfare office. That would be too kind to her considering how many children she’s helped murder, but I doubt there’s any way to get her on criminal charges, unfortunately.

  37. 37
    eric says:

    @opiejeanne: i am not saying this is a one size fits all; but the say this as if you or i would not know this and it is the one thing that will lead to the aha moment.

    then, they will tell you that it is all PR propaganda funded by Big Pharma that opposes them. Just look at the corporate shills at BJ defending Dihydrogen Monoxide when it is “leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide” according to the CDC.

  38. 38
    raven says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Remember DMSO?

  39. 39
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Cervantes: The basic issue; “the Enlightenment” is a very squishy concept, historical period, body of thought. Attempts to find a logic, divine or otherwise, in the black death century aren’t in fact comparable to the woo we face now. It’s a historical mishmash of epic proportions. But as 21st century shorthand for “reason” v. “crazed desperation” it works ok.

  40. 40
    Roger Moore says:

    GMO labeling is one that really gets me. I understand the desire to know whether your food contains GMOs, even if I think it’s mostly nonsensical. But I think the demand to label all food that does or might contain GMOs is a deliberately wrong-headed approach. The goal isn’t to inform people, it’s to scare them and to create a regulatory snarl for anyone growing GMO crops. If you care about GMOs, the correct response is to have some kind of certification and labeling program for non-GMO foods.

  41. 41
    Violet says:


    They’re also the same type of people who will be attracted to a package of bacon because it says “Gluten Free” on the label, demonstrating that they, in fact, have no idea what gluten is.

    I take your point, but if you’re acquainted with any celiac patients you probably know that gluten is in fucking everything. Food manufacturers break down wheat into various particles and use that in all sorts of stuff. Medications will have gluten. It can be used in packages of shredded cheese. And yes, it can be in bacon.

    I’ve got some friends who are celiac and some with celiac kids and I’ve watched how closely they have to monitor labels. It’s much easier if they cook their own food but that’s not always possible.

  42. 42
    NCSteve says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: By making sport of the well-known menace of DHMO, you have demonstrated that you are a witless tool of the Big DHMO death merchants who lacks critical thinking skills.

    I mean, they sell it to us laced with the deadly poison gas chlorine and a compound of fluorine, one of the most dangerous elements on the periodic table.

  43. 43
    D.N. Nation says:


    This also extends to fluoride in our water supply, because apparently Europe does not add fluoride to its water supply.

    Europeans, always noted for their healthy teeth.

  44. 44
    beltane says:

    A few months ago I was at my local food co-op’s tent sale buying a case of Bon Mamma strawberry jam, because it is delicious, and happened to observe that the language used to peddle all the processed, but organic, crap was identical to the language used by fundamentalist Christian churches. Reading all the labels containing the words “Pure life”, “New way”, etc. made me realize that almost every goddamned thing in this country has been tainted by the stench of Calvinism. Sorry people, but coconut oil and organic pop tarts are not a means to salvation. As I clutched my case of papist French jam it occurred to me that Jesus was right when he said that a man is made unclean by what comes out of his mouth, not by what he puts in his mouth.

  45. 45
    opie_jeanne says:

    @Violet: I saw something about that this morning, and the article stated that her son is autistic. I thought it was recently announced that he had some other disorder, genetic in nature.

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    you are a witless tool of the Big DHMO death merchants who lacks critical thinking skills.

    What can I do but plead guilty to this?

    What pisses me off is that the checks I get from them always bounce.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Sorry people, but coconut oil and organic pop tarts are not a means to salvation.

    Damn straight.

    The only means of salvation is FSM, who is not gluten free. Ramen.

  48. 48
    beltane says:

    @Violet: The gluten-free fad has spread far, far beyond the small percentage of the population who suffer from celliac disease. Shortly, we will see some other food component being tagged as “evil” and you will never see “Gluten-free” on bacon packages again.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @beltane: Swine flu free, perhaps?

    Homer: Wait a minute wait a minute wait a minute. Lisa honey, are you
    saying you’re *never* going to eat any animal again? What about
    Lisa: No.
    Homer: Ham?
    Lisa: No.
    Homer: Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
    Homer: [Chuckles] Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

  50. 50
    Violet says:

    @beltane: I’m sure you’re right. Wonder what the next evil ingredient will be? Could be sugar, although sugar is “better” than high fructose corn syrup. Hmmm…

  51. 51
    Hungry Joe says:

    There’s a Typhoid Mary aspect to all this: In the end they locked the woman up because she simply would not stop working as a cook, even though she was identified as a passive carrier of typhoid fever. Clearly we’re not going to lock people up over failure to vax, but we can ban their kids from school because they’re potential Marys, every one of them — hosts just waiting to goose an epidemic along. And people who can’t get vaccinated, for whatever reason — too young, health issues, too old — will suffer and die, as will a small percentage of those who were vaccinated but the vaccine didn’t take.

    I don’t know what will have to happen to move the public will far enough to make this happen. A for-real, many-people-die epidemic, I guess.

  52. 52
    SatanicPanic says:

    @beltane: “every goddamned thing in this country has been tainted by the stench of Calvinism”

    This. Hippies want to suck the fun out of life and make you feel guilty just as much as everyone else. Feminism has had three waves, with the last one being (at least partially) about ending the guilt-tripping of previous eras. I’d like if we could have a second-wave hippie movement to rid it of all the judging. Hippies harsh my mellow man. They can keep the tie-dye and the jam bands if they want.

  53. 53
    Anoniminous says:


    Do you deny a high correlation between consumption of Dihydrogen Monoxide and death?

  54. 54
    Violet says:

    @Hungry Joe: People do all sorts of stuff when they’re scared. Remember the “buy duct tape and plastic sheeting” suggestion by some government official? You couldn’t find duct tape for weeks. I actually needed some at that time and it was annoying as hell that all these idiots had bought it all up. And for what? What the hell were we all supposed to do with duct tape and plastic sheeting? Like that would protect anyone from anything except maybe a leaky roof.

  55. 55
    opie_jeanne says:

    @raven: Oh DMSO! My older daughter’s ex’s parents used to drench themselves in that stuff much to their son’s embarrassment, but they only went to a doctor when the father had a heart attack, and then it was only through the ER. They’d save him, discharge him and he’d ignore every bit of advice that was given by the doc as well as subsequent check-ups.

    They were born in Romania and came over in the early 70s with a baby, a suitcase, and $50. I think that is the source of distrust of doctors for them, not to mention authority.

    They never went to church but heard a crackpot on tv tell them that Saturday was the actual Sabbath and that everyone who goes on Sunday is going straight to hell. They called my daughter’s ex and fussed at him to be saved, but what it boiled down to is that Saturday is now the day they don’t go to church.

    After the divorce I would still get notes from her about politics (Obama is Satan!!111!!) and dietary and medical nonsense but she must have gotten tired of me sending her rebuttals in the form of facts because I stopped hearing from her a couple of years ago.

  56. 56
    raven says:

    @Violet: Protect a leaky roof how?

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:

    The desire for a pure life goes back a lot further than Calvinism, and it’s spread much wider than Christianity. The desire for pure food has always been part of it, too. Heck, look at all the rules in Leviticus about what you can and can’t eat for a classic, pre-Christian example. I think there’s something much deeper in human nature that drives this stuff.

  58. 58
    Roger Moore says:


    Do you deny a high correlation between consumption of Dihydrogen Monoxide and death?

    I tell you what. You stop consuming DHMO in any quantity while I keep it up, and we’ll see who lives longer.

  59. 59
    Gene108 says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I disagree.

    The issue is not as black-and-white as you paint it.

    Food scientists are re-engineering foods to boost sales, with the government’s blessing. For example, HFCS is not going to kill you right away, but it is in everything. It is not a substance our bodies are meant to handle. Thanks to corn subsidies and sugar tariffs, it is the sweetener of choice in the USA.

    I am not sure what HFCS industrial uses are, but it has been argued government’s lack of attention to how the good industry re-engineers what we eat has helped contribute to our obesity problem.

    The line between a little bit won’t hurt to the shit is everywhere and it is killing us has all been done under government supervision.

    In short, the problem in dealing with the anti-vax crowd is demonstrating the government looks out for its citizens and does not suffer from regulatory capture, which has as much to do with this problem as people being “science stupid”.

  60. 60
    Violet says:

    @raven: In a pinch, the plastic sheeting and duct tape can cover a hole in the roof. It’s not perfect but it can be better than nothing. After a major hurricane in my area, people resorted to all sorts of things like that. Tarps are much better but they were in short supply.

    I’ve used plastic sheeting as a ground cloth for a tent too but didn’t need the duct tape then.

  61. 61
    Anoniminous says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Re-calibrate your snark meter.

  62. 62
    Crouchback says:

    I think at a fundamental level the anti-vaxxers are linked to the opponents of Obamacare. In both cases there is an underlying belief that good health is a reflection of good virtue. In both cases there is a conviction that an individual has absolute control over his fate and if that you just do all the right things – eat organic, exercise, etc you don’t have to worry about getting any illness. Vaccines and guaranteed health care are just crutches for the week and we shouldn’t have to worry about the health of other people. It’s the dark side of the American belief in self help and self improvement – anything bad that happens to you is your fault. That incidentally is why both groups are almost entirely upper and middle class white people. They’re the only people who can maintain the delusion that they are completely in control of their fate.

  63. 63
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Violet: Starting to veer OT here, but since you brought it up I’d like to weigh in on duct tape: I believe it to be the single most over-hyped product in the history of the modern, advertised universe. It has failed at most of the things I’ve tried it on … which, admittedly, does not include ducts.

    Back OT, sort of: My wife eliminated (most) glutens — and several small, long-term medical problems vanished. She ate some gluten-y stuff. Problems returned. Eliminated glutens. Problems vanished. Repeat. Same results. Now she generally avoids glutens, but we don’t proselytize.

  64. 64
    opiejeanne says:

    @eric: Yes. She’s a very good neighbor, aside from the woo, but the woo is sometimes a bit distracting. One of her lovely doggies got sick and she took him to an herbalist for treatment for a kidney infection. She was waxing rhapsodic about this herbalist and said, “And she lives in a yurt!” She said this as if the yurt lent credibility to this herbalist. The dog recovered eventually, despite her misguided efforts.

  65. 65
    Citizen_X says:


    One neighbor who is totally into the woo told me that vaccination isn’t necessary because things are different these days.

    Well, she’s half-right: things ARE different today. Because of vaccines.

  66. 66
    Ruckus says:

    And many people deny that Calvinism still exists. But it is in many of the laws we still have on the books, it is in much of the culture that is all around us. The Puritans et al didn’t leave Europe because they were being restricted, they left because they couldn’t restrict others.

  67. 67
    raven says:

    @Violet: Duct tape would never hold in any kind of heavy rain and wind.

  68. 68
    Betty Cracker says:

    I’ve got a school age kid who had to show proof of vaccinations before starting kindergarten, prior to elementary school and before moving on to middle school. How do these people get away with it, unless they home school? Exemptions?

  69. 69
    Emerald says:

    @opie_jeanne: Ha ha. First, she said her son’s autism was caused by vaccines. Then she said she had cured him of his autism by giving him a special diet.

    Then it came out that her son never was autistic at all.

  70. 70
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: “There is a dearth of critical thinking skills out there”

    This. This is the underlying issue. This is why it’s not red or blue state. Why otherwise intelligent and educated people are anti-vaxers.

    Because intelligence isn’t directly related with critical thinking. It’s a skill, not an IQ thing. And because being educated no longer includes learning the ability to think critically. It is possible to get one’s PhD without it.

    I know several highly educated people including a PhD who does not vaccinate their children. It’s partly because they are into ‘alternate’ medicine and partly they are selling the woo themselves and partly they give their beliefs and suspicions of vaccine side-effects the same weight as the facts and evidence of the cold hard brutal history of disease and mortality (especially among children) prior to vaccinations.

    Or rather they seem unable to discern between the two.

    It’s disturbing to see this so entrenched among so-called educated people, especially something with so much evidence to counter it with. But you can’t make people who can’t think critically stop believing in woo.

  71. 71
    aimai says:

    @Crouchback: Excellent analysis. Its right there in the article as well–the conviction that “clean living” and “sunshine” for the guy’s kids will be all the protection they need. Like the rest of us let our children get sick because we are feeding them poorly and keeping them locked in the basement.

    And of course there’s a smidgeon of truth to this, embedded in a classist view of things. Families that can’t afford good food or live in safe neighborhoods are going to have kids who are (potentially) not well nourished and who may not get enough excercise. And if such a child gets sick he/she may not have as easy a time bouncing back from his illness as a well nourished, healthy child. But this doesn’t make little home schooled susie who runs three miles a day immune from the ravages of small pox.

  72. 72
    dr. luba says:

    @dr. luba: OK, read more of the article. This happened several years ago: I assumed it was more recent. The mom in question has since had another child who is 1 now, and did get vaccinated during that pregnancy.

    I am amazed at how many moms don’t bother to get the TDAP when they’re pregnant. It is tru that many OB/GYNs aren’t set up to do immunizations in the office. However, in our area at least, there are agreements to have the women vaccinated on labor and delivery–come in with the prescription from your doc, get the shot. Little waiting or other hassles involved. And computer prompts mean that anyone who comes in prenatally for any reason is asked if they want to get the TDAP, if they meet the criteria.

  73. 73
    Joel says:

    This shit makes me so fucking mad, I can hardly contain myself.

  74. 74
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Betty Cracker: Exemptions.

    In some states they just say it’s against their personal beliefs. Done.

    I am not sure if the exemptions were always that easy and with the rise of the antivax woo and conspiracy theories more people are making use of it, or that the exemption threshold was eased.

  75. 75
    Roger Moore says:

    My response was intended to be snark, but it obviously missed the mark.


    They’re the only people who can maintain the delusion that they are completely in control of their fate.

    I would twist that slightly. They are the only ones who maintain the delusion that it’s possible to be in complete control of one’s fate. They honestly believe that they ought to be able to control everything, but stuff like autism is showing them that they aren’t. The more powerful and generally in control they are, the more they fear areas where they aren’t in control. Woo like anti-vax is a desperate attempt to regain their rightful control over their lives.

  76. 76
    Ruckus says:

    Which is exactly the religious argument.
    You have to be pure, abstain from sex unless procreating, etc.(That’s the first one that comes to mind, go figure) Not all religions have the same rules that is for sure but the underlying theme is the same, do everything our way and you are pure and end up in a better place. Of course that means you don’t have to make this place better because you are going to a better place when you die, as long as you are pure. It’s bullshit on so many levels but it does seem to have staying power.

  77. 77
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @johnny aquitard:

    they give their beliefs in the suspicions of vaccine side-effects the same weight as the facts and evidence of the cold hard brutal history of disease and mortality (especially among children) prior to vaccinations.

    This is my other hobby horse. Lack of knowledge of history. We imagine that the world has always been, in terms of day to day life, as it is now. Nothing could ever be further from the truth.

    One of the things the military gave me an appreciation of is the absolute luxury of indoor plumbing. Of having running water only a few feet from where you sleep at night. Much of the world manages to survive without it, but we just don’t get how, to use a much misused word, miraculous, running water, hot and cold, is, until we’re deprived of it.

  78. 78
    Gretchen says:

    @RSR: My nephew’s 32-year old wife, mother of his two young children, is being treated for cervical cancer. Even if a man isn’t affected by HPV himself, it can affect his life terribly.

  79. 79
    beltane says:

    @Betty Cracker: My state (VT) allows for a “philosophical exemption” which can cover absolutely anything.

  80. 80
    opiejeanne says:

    @Hungry Joe: My daughter moved to Seattle from Southern California in 2001 and started having terrible allergy problems. Her allergist worked with her for several months and finally told her to try giving up gluten. The allergies calmed down and her shape changed. Her stomach was now flat, after about 3 months of this. She didn’t go out of her way to avoid all gluten, she just stopped eating the obvious things like bread, cake, and pasta. She lost less than 10 pounds, and her skin cleared up. She went to China at that point and couldn’t avoid wheat products, and all the problems came right back. She is not celiac, but she seems to have a sensitivity to gluten.

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:


    It’s the dark side of the American belief in self help and self improvement – anything bad that happens to you is your fault.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but I once broke off a friendship because the person told me that the reason my mother died of breast cancer was because she didn’t try hard enough. If she had only wanted to live, she’d still be alive.

    I have zero patience for people who think their continued good health is anything other than sheer good luck. Yes, there are some things you can do that increase your risk for getting certain diseases, but you can never smoke a day in your life and still get lung cancer. Shit happens.

  82. 82
    Gretchen says:

    When my daughter was pregnant, she insisted we all be revaccinated for whooping cough. She loaded her adult brother into her car and drove him to CVS and offered to pay for it, knowing he wouldn’t do it on her own. What terrified me, though, was that the baby couldn’t be vaccinated until he was two months old, and he started daycare that week. He’s caught all kinds of things at daycare, but fortunately not that.

  83. 83
    Roger Moore says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    It has failed at most of the things I’ve tried it on … which, admittedly, does not include ducts.

    I agree with you that duck/duct tape is crap. It has one very narrow use: when you need to make a temporary repair to something that you’re going to trash as part of doing a real repair. It is actually pretty strong and will hold stuff together for a while, but after a while the glue dries out and cracks. At that point, the tape separates from what it’s attached to, leaving behind a difficult to remove residue. Apparently, one of the places you absolutely should not use it is ducts; the heat makes this process happen a lot faster. That’s one reason I believe the people who say it is properly called “duck” tape because it contains duck cloth, rather than duct tape.

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:


    Weird question — is your daughter allergic to grasses? One of my co-workers is extremely allergic to grasses (to the point where she’s also severely allergic to oatmeal, because it’s a grass) and eliminating grains helped her allergies quite a bit. That’s the kind of gluten/allergies connection that makes sense to me.

  85. 85
    chopper says:


    It is not a substance our bodies are meant to handle.

    our bodies aren’t meant to handle glucose and fructose together? someone tell that to fruit.

  86. 86
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: Calvinism did something that hadn’t been done before, though. Monetizing purity. In part, this was due to overreaction to the Catholic Church’s rank hypocrisy on the accumulation of wealth…they, like our modern GOP, moaned and bitched that the rich were too poor and the poor too rich.

    Still, the idea that wealth-virtue took over Calvinism even if Calvin wasn’t into it himself, and, coupled with the discovery of the rest of the planet as a resource to be ruthlessly exploited, here we are today.

  87. 87
    Roger Moore says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Different states have different rules about exemptions. Some places let you get exemptions based on religious belief or even something as weak as plain parental refusal. Also, too, a lot of the kids go to private schools that are free to make up their own rules. There is the expected strong correlation between the exemption standards, vaccination rates, and outbreaks of preventable diseases.

  88. 88
    Gretchen says:

    Many pediatricians refuse to accept patients whose parents won’t vaccinate. They won’t take the chance of exposing their other patients to these people. More power to them.

  89. 89
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: In the Army, it’s called “Hundred Mile an Hour Tape”. Ask raven for details.

  90. 90
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Betty Cracker: “I’ve got a school age kid who had to show proof of vaccinations before starting kindergarten”

    I think it’s a variation on the Tragedy of the Commons thing. The common good here is the immunity conferred by having everyone vaccinated.

    Some take advantage of this at the expense of others — there are real costs to vaccinating one’s child, even apart from what the antivaxers believe: it costs money, it costs you time, and it costs you stress in that you have to deal with (or even restrain) a frightened child, or a child who doesn’t feel well after the shot.

    For the antivaxers, it’s a huge ‘taking’. They get the benefit of vaccinations without any of the costs including, in their beliefs anyways, running the risk of autism, etc.

    They’re freeloaders. They’re letting everyone else pay the costs and take the risks.They are unwilling to do their share.

    They’re freeloaders because you can damn well be assured they will begin to vaccinate their kids when half of them begin to die from preventable diseases before they reach elementary school age, just like old times.

    I’m afraid it’s going to take a lot of deaths from preventable disease before they get to that point voluntarily, and the dying is going to be mostly by children, ours and theirs.

    In the end, this antivax shit is to the detriment of everyone.

  91. 91
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    The funny thing is a lot of people 60 and older were alive when a lot of that history was being made. Many of us here have told of getting the first polio vaccine, entire families standing in line for it. I have distant relatives who lived on farms and still used an outhouse when I was a kid. My grandparents brought my dad to CA from Kansas when he was a child, in a horse drawn wagon. It wasn’t more than 2-3 generations ago that life was a lot different.

  92. 92
    JR in WV says:

    Something I learned working for environmental regulation – there are something like 85,000 industrial chemicals in common use that were “grandfathered” in. Not tested, ever!

    This was part of the problem with the small chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water supply for 300,000 people in West Virginia. The common industrial chemical that leaked into Elk River just a few hundred feet above the biggest drinking water intake in the state had never been tested for toxicity AT ALL!

    So neither the DEP, EPA, or the CDC had any way to advise the local health department or the water company about this particular clusterfuk.

    And there are still thousands of untested chemicals being used every day in every way. I’m big into vaccines, I get them every year from my family doctor – at the age of way way adult, 63. I’m planning to get whooping cough vaccination asap too… I don’t ever want to cough so hard I break ribs!!

    But as long as we don’t even bother to test chemicals that (some of, at least) can be quite dangerous, it’s going to be hard to convince the dubious that there’s nothing to worry about.

  93. 93
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    In the Army, it’s called “Hundred Mile an Hour Tape”.

    Not just the Army; ISTR that it’s popular among car racing mechanics as a quick patch that will hold together even at racing speeds. But “quick patch” is exactly what it’s good for. It’s very strong, but it isn’t durable enough for really long-term repairs, and it leaves gunk behind that’s hard to clean off. That’s fine when you mostly care about getting through this race or this patrol and you can do proper repairs later. But it’s the wrong stuff to use in something like construction, where the materials have to last for decades or even generations without being replaced.

  94. 94
    Betty Cracker says:


    I once broke off a friendship because the person told me that the reason my mother died of breast cancer was because she didn’t try hard enough. If she had only wanted to live, she’d still be alive.

    I admire your restraint for only breaking off the friendship. I’d be tempted to break off the person’s fucking arm and club him / her over the head with it. God, what an asshole!

  95. 95
    satby says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Dearth of critical thinking is right, so is the alliance with the Birchers on the anti-flouridation nuttiness. I’ve had numerous arguments with dedicated ant-flouride folks of the left which frustrates me no end, because most of them are unaware of the origin of that particular conspiracy theory.

    And has anyone seen the FB meme about Crest 3D White toothpaste having little plastic balls that embed in your gums? Seriously, anyone could just rub that toothpaste between their finger and thumb for a few seconds and watch all the scary “plastic beads” dissolve (because they aren’t plastic and won’t embed anywhere, but instead the comments are all “OMIGOD, I have to throw mine away!”

  96. 96
    Ruckus says:

    It may also be the fact that it was and still somewhat is being used in many things that didn’t need it. I noticed that breads that didn’t normally have sugar had it. Many of those breads no longer have it as an ingredient and it has not been replaced with sugar. Why was it there in the first place?
    My point being that the substance itself may not be harmful or different than fructose or glucose but the over exposure to it was immense and looks to be totally unnecessary.

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think there probably is a problem with HFCS, but the problem is that it’s IN FUCKING EVERYTHING, not anything to do with its chemical composition or something. It’s really not good for us to have sugar in every goddamn thing we eat.

  98. 98
    mike with a mic says:

    @johnny aquitard:

    It’s well documented that when it comes to stuff like this having an education makes you a bigger idiot. Because you have an education and thus some fundamental understanding of what’s going on, you become over confident in yourself and double down on idiotic ideas. Where as someone without an education would be more humble in their own logic and assertions, and open to the idea that you don’t know.

    As crazy as the right is you can’t top the stupid that comes from educated hippies. Stupid shit like this is why hippie punching is vital to keeping the Democratic party from being taken over by lunatics.

  99. 99
    Anoniminous says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Protecting my reputation. I didn’t want you to think I was a woo-woo dim bulb. ;-)

  100. 100
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I was so taken aback that all I could do was walk away and pretty much never spoke to her again except as absolutely necessary for work.

    (Also, to be clear, this wasn’t something that she said right after my mother had died or something — we were discussing families and I mentioned that my mother had died when I was a kid, and this is what she came back with.)

  101. 101
    Origuy says:

    @Roger Moore: If you want to tape something without leaving a residue, you need gaffer tape. It’s a lot more expensive, about four times “duct” tape. It’s used on stages to tape down cables, leave blocking marks, etc.

  102. 102
    chopper says:


    sugar is easier for yeast to metabolize. adding sugar makes your bread rise faster, which is important when you’re cranking it out in a factory.

    that’s about it.

    look, if you make some lemonade but cook the sugar and water and lemon juice together for a few minutes to make sure the sugar really dissolves, you’re basically breaking down the sugar into the equivalent of corn syrup. that’s all the stuff is. if you just add sugar instead, it’ll break down in your stomach acid into the same thing.

    the problem is that it’s in all sorts of stuff that shouldn’t have sugar in it at all, not really that it’s the ‘wrong kind’ of sugar.

  103. 103
    Joel says:

    @Roger Moore: Some food additives are harmful, however. And there’s no reason why many additives, harmful or not, need to be added at all. Consider a process like hydrogenation; it’s an amazingly simple process that yields a product (saturated fat) that lasts longer and has properties that consumers seem to like more (chewy cookies!). But the process is not efficient, and a result of that inefficiency is trans-fat. This is definitely a harmful food additive, yet the American public continues to be exposed to it in large amounts. This is where regulatory bodies are supposed to step in, but they have largely failed to do so.

    Vaccines are a completely different story, because the consequences of not using them are dire. No one dies if we stop eating trans fats — quite the opposite — and I think it’s a bad idea to conflate these two products.

  104. 104
    chopper says:


    that’s my point. it isn’t that our bodies “aren’t designed for it” like it’s some crazy foreign substance or something. that’s stupid.

  105. 105
    Ruckus says:

    And if you want to tape up ducts you actually use aluminum foil tape. Now if you want to tape up ducks you are just weird and need to be restrained.

  106. 106
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Roger Moore: For temporary taping with no residue, use gaffer tape. We’ve got folks in our logistics teams who know this stuff and have to explain it to facilities and hotel managers who have had other exhibitors ruin an expensive refurbishment by caking the walls with irremovable gunge or lifting lumps of carpet tuft when stripping out an installation. One of our team members wrote a leaflet for us, detailing the types of tape we use and giving links to the manufacturers websites. The usual reaction when a facilities manager sees this leaflet is “Can we make a copy?”

  107. 107
    chopper says:


    what do you use to restrain someone who likes to tape up ducks? duck-taper tape?

  108. 108
    Ruckus says:

    I know about sugar and yeast but my point was that the breads I was talking about didn’t use sugar before or after HFCS became so widespread and those breads used it until the screams got too loud and the sales got too little.

    So then it really is about money, not about product, as always. Some things never change.

  109. 109
    Anoniminous says:

    Told the SO (MS biochemist, Ph.d. geneticist) about the “DHMO Scare” and she about fell off her chair laughing.

  110. 110
    Ruckus says:

    Of course!

    Always the proper tool.

  111. 111
    Violet says:

    @Hungry Joe: I love duct tape. When I worked in an outdoors capacity we always carried it for emergencies. Works when wet, generally, so that was a bonus outdoors.

    I’m with your wife. Gluten doesn’t agree with me. I know I’m not celiac (been tested) but I’ve got some sort of sensitivity. Get reactions when I eat it. I pass along my experience to people when it seems like it might be relevant but I’m not pushing it. People have to decide for themselves what they want to and can eat. My general take is everything in moderation including moderation.

  112. 112
    Violet says:

    @raven: It’s AFTER the hurricane when the holes show up and are a problem. You don’t cover your roof before the hurricane unless you already have holes. After it, the roof has holes from wind damage, tree limbs, whatever. That’s when you cover it with whatever is available until stores open up, roads are re-opened and supplies are refilled so that you can get a tarp or whatever works best.

    I saw it all after both hurricanes I’ve been through. You use whatever you can when you’re in need. Some things work better than others. A house in my neighborhood had a tarp on the roof for three years after the most recent hurricane. Guess the couldn’t afford to fix the roof.

  113. 113
    opie_jeanne says:

    @Citizen_X: I talked to a lot of very old people in the 1990s and early 2000s about my mother’s area of the Ozarks. I started out trying to identify people in old photos and they were lots of help, and they told me stories about how things were.

    One of the stories that has stuck with me was the one about several towns in the area where there wasn’t a child under the age of 17 left alive one year, back in the early 1920s, because of polio. Some adults had died too, but all the children were gone.

    The other one was about one of Mom’s great aunts who had died of smallpox around 1920. I think she was 23. Back then there was no vaccine yet; there was inoculation, but the country doctor hadn’t inoculated her. It was winter, she had a high fever, and for relief she ran out into the snow. Her husband had gone to get the doctor and they found her a little way from the cabin, in the snow.

  114. 114
    opie_jeanne says:

    @aimai: That’s the part I don’t get. No amount of healthy living will build up the immunity to chickenpox or measles. You get close enough to someone with those diseases and you will probably catch it.

  115. 115
    opie_jeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: She doesn’t seem to be, although rye grass in bloom can bother anyone no matter if they’ve never exhibited allergies before. In Seattle we don’t seem to have rye grass, mostly bluegrass and whatever native grasses there are.

    In the spring in Seattle, our car is sometimes so covered with pollen that you can’t tell the color of the car from looking at the hood, and it only takes a couple of days after we wash it to get to that point at the height of the bloom. It seems to be mostly from ornamental fruit trees, cherry, plum, and pear.

    The fact that wheat seems to be the culprit is evidenced by her nearly immediate reaction when she encounters it by accident. She gets a rash on her neck and face. She volunteered at a big fundraiser dinner and aftewards when they fed the volunteers, she broke out. She couldn’t figure out why because there was only meat, veggies, and mashed potatoes on her plate. Apparently caterers use flour in mashed potatoes to achieve the desirable texture or something.

  116. 116
    Violet says:


    You get close enough to someone with those diseases and you will probably catch it.

    The thing is, not everyone does. Why some people seem to have immunity is still something of a mystery. It’s an easy step, for those so inclined, to link natural immunity with something the healthy person is doing. Then, conversely, the sick person must have done something too.

    In some cases that is true–smoking, which is something people do, increases risk for various cancers and heart disease. So now there’s scientific evidence of something people did or didn’t do that affects their health. What else is there that we don’t know? Certain chemicals were deemed safe until they weren’t, etc.

  117. 117
    Roger Moore says:


    Why was it there in the first place?

    It’s probably there for texture and “mouth feel” or as some kind of stabilizer. It turns out that a lot of the experience of eating a food has to do with the texture and tactile feel of it in the mouth rather than that the taste, and a lot of the engineering of industrial foods tends to be around that “mouth feel” rather than taste. If you see a bunch of weird stuff listed in a food that isn’t obviously there for taste or as a preservative, that’s usually why it’s there. It can either provide a desirable tactile sensation or act as a stabilizer to keep it stable on the shelf. HFCS is often added for its effect on texture as much as on taste.

  118. 118
    C.V. Danes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    With cheerleaders like you who needs the Republicans. Go ahead and depress the vote.

    Actually, I’m hoping to scare some Dems into voting…

  119. 119
    jibeaux says:

    1. If you read the story, there’s an ati-vaxxer there whose own 3 kids all got whooping cough! And that’s apparently OK because they all lived! Logic doesn’t stand a chance against that kind of blind belief.
    2. What is the “woo” thing? What have I missed?

  120. 120
    Anoniminous says:


    “Woo” is shorthand for woo woo:

    Unfounded or ludicrouse beliefs

    Belief in talking to the dead, belief in telikenesis, in fact any belief not founded on good evidence, the poorer the evidence the more Woo Woo the belief.

  121. 121
    Mnemosyne says:


    The fact that wheat seems to be the culprit is evidenced by her nearly immediate reaction when she encounters it by accident. She gets a rash on her neck and face.

    If she gets a rash from wheat products, she’s not intolerant, she’s allergic. So, yes, avoiding your allergen is a really, really good idea.

    Given how ubiquitous wheat is, she might want to consider having her doctor or allergist give her a prescription for an epipen that she can carry with her — it could be lifesaving if she has a particularly bad reaction.

    (Sorry, but it does kind of drive me nuts when people elide “intolerant” and “allergic.” I’m lactose intolerant, so eating/drinking dairy products can cause major intestinal discomfort, but I’m not allergic to them, because I don’t get an allergic reaction to them if I touch them. My co-worker who’s allergic to oatmeal used to break out in a rash if she used Aveeno products.)

  122. 122
    another Holocene human says:

    @Gene108: Don’t look now, but Subway uses sodium chloride, an industrial bleaching agent, as a preservative in meats. And dihydrogen monoxide is one of the deadliest chemicals available over the counter.

  123. 123
    another Holocene human says:

    @Tod Kelly: Teeth are over rated.

  124. 124
    Roger Moore says:


    But the process is not efficient, and a result of that inefficiency is trans-fat.

    This is not quite correct. The problem isn’t that hydrogenation is inefficient; it’s that it’s deliberately not carried out to completion because completely saturated fats are too hard. Hydrogenation is convenient for food scientists because they can use it to harden fats to the exact degree they want. It turns out that they’ve had some success changing the hydrogenation process by completely hydrogenating some of the fats (complete saturation means no double bonds left to be cis or trans) and then blending it with non-hydrogenated oils to get the desired degree of hardness. I suspect, though I don’t know for sure, that this is part of the reason industrial food production tends to use a mix of oils (e.g. “one or more of the following oils: …”); they have some that are usually too saturated and some that are too unsaturated and blend them to get the ideal mix.

  125. 125
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @another Holocene human:

    dihydrogen monoxide is one of the deadliest chemicals available over the counter.

    The biggest problem with the killer dihydrogen monoxide isn’t that it’s available over the counter – its that in every state in the Union, there are giant, uncovered pools of the stuff!

    ETA: Although here in California, we are making progress in reducing the threat, with historically low levels of the stuff endangerating our lives.

  126. 126
    Roger Moore says:


    what do you use to restrain someone who likes to tape up ducks?

    Cable ties. That’s what the police use when they know they’re going to be arresting more people than they have handcuffs for.

  127. 127
    Roger Moore says:

    @Jebediah, RBG:
    I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but DHMO is a major component of acid rain!

  128. 128
    another Holocene human says:

    @opiejeanne: Selfish of Disney. This is why we need during regulators, because health and safety are sacrificed to profits. Unions, also, too.

  129. 129
    opiejeanne says:

    @Ruckus: I am starting to view some versions of “Christianity” as a death cult, because of what you just said about not needing to worry about this world because the next one will be better.

  130. 130
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: Heartless.

  131. 131
    another Holocene human says:

    The first amendment ends where you harm others. Philosophicalor religious exemptions are bullshit.

  132. 132
    Manyakitty says:

    @Mnemosyne: That was my approach when an apparently otherwise intelligent guy I know informed me that he is a young earth creationist. Of course, the fact that I was literally rendered speechless helped me maintain the necessary decorum.

  133. 133
    opiejeanne says:

    @Violet: Right. My girls didn’t get chickenpox when every friend in the neighborhood had it even though they had played with all of these kids when they had started being sick. My youngest got it about three years later from an unknown source, spent two weeks at home. The day she went back, the older girl had it and spent two weeks at home with it. She went back to school and their older brother came home from college after finals with a sniffly nose and complained that he felt itchy. Six weeks of chickenpox.
    Starting with the youngest, they worked on taming a scrub jay family in our backyard when they were over the worst but still had scabs and couldn’t go to school and were bored.

    The mystery is, how did my son get it when he hadn’t been home while the girls were sick, hadn’t even known they were sick. He caught it at school but the timing was remarkable, and he didn’t know anyone with chickenpox in his classes or dorm. He was 19.

  134. 134
    Manyakitty says:

    @Roger Moore: FWIW, I use a bit of local honey to kick-start my yeast when I make bread (usually a tablespoon or two.) It makes the bread brown better and keeps it fresh a few days longer. Sweet breads (like cinnamon rolls) get sugar, but less of it, and I add more honey to the yeast/water mixture.

  135. 135
    Julie says:

    @Violet: Spacing out the vaccines isn’t as crazy as it sounds, especially if the little one has had vaccine reactions in the past or there are other concerns. My understanding (admittedly via conventional wisdom) is that the vaccination schedule was largely so aggressive to make sure that kids got all their vaccines as soon as humanly possible in as few visits as possible so parents didn’t have to pay for a bunch of office visits. Now with some of the improvements via health care reform when it comes to well baby visits, people have a little more flexibility while still getting all the shots in before kindergarten.

    We are not anti-vax at all (my husband is a health care provider), but we did space out the 15-24 month vaccines because the kiddo had really high fevers after both her flu booster and her MMR.

    That said, Jenny McCarthy is full of it. I don’t understand why people can’t just apologize and say, “Hey, I was wrong and it caused damage. I’m truly sorry. I learned more and here’s what I think now.” People, especially parents, would have more than a little empathy for that.

  136. 136
    Joel says:

    @Roger Moore: Right – not inefficient in the thermodynamic sense, but in the production sense. Ideally you would have a process, akin to the natural one, that doesn’t yield unnatural fatty acids. But the profit incentive motivates some companies to keep producing the same old crap.

  137. 137
    Roger Moore says:

    A little bit of sugar or honey is a very old trick to get yeast to go faster. An amount too small to have much effect on the taste can have a big effect on the final product. I’ve started adding a bit to my sourdough bread, mostly to make it brown better. But Ruckus was talking about HFCS being added to and then removed from bread and neither replacing nor being replaced by other forms of sweetener. That might well be something that’s added for texture or as a stabilizer.

    I suppose it’s also possible that it was used in place of some less obvious sugar source like malted barley flour, which is very often added to bread flour as a source of sugar. That might be particularly non-obvious because they might have changed the amount of malted barley flour without eliminating it completely, so the change wouldn’t show up on the ingredients list.

  138. 138
    Ben Cisco says:


    2. What is the “woo” thing? What have I missed?

    Glad someone else asked – the only reference to “woo” that I had was, umm, unrelated to the subject matter at hand.

  139. 139
    Dave says:

    I’m an old timer, retired, in the second half of my 60’s. I was recently blessed with my first grandson. My wife and I both had to have, and prove we had, the TDAP vaccine (modern replacement for DPT, apparently) before we were allowed to be in the same room with our grandchild. I did it gladly, and was thankful for the reminder that we needed it. Also got the shingles vaccine last year, and from the horror stories of some of my friends who have had shingles, I’m damned happy to be protected.

    I also still remember how terrified my Mom and Dad were in the 50’s during the polio epidemic, and how glad I was that none of my 6 kids ever had to worry about polio, mumps, measles and whooping cough. Sometimes experience helps.

    I agree with those who said “morons.”

  140. 140
    slag says:

    Eventheliberal Kevin Drum: Liberals Finally Cleared of Anti-Vaccine Madness: Lots of anti-gov Republicans in Oregon and Idaho.

  141. 141
    Gene108 says:


    Soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, how does it work?

    Maybe the good folks at Princeton are all science illiterate hippies too.

  142. 142
    Ben Cisco says:


    That said, Jenny McCarthy is full of it.

    Can I just add that as stupid as McCarthy is (and let’s be clear about this, she’s a metric sh*t ton of stupid), how stupid do you have to be to pay attention to her to the point of endangering your own (and other) children’s lives?

  143. 143
    Manyakitty says:

    @Roger Moore: Ah. Must have scrolled past that part. Also, thanks for reminding me about the little jar of starter in my fridge. Perhaps there’s a lovely loaf of sourdough to find when the weekend rolls around again.

  144. 144
    chopper says:


    Lol, you should just let the adults talk. Clearly the difference between sucrose and its constituent sugars, which I mentioned above, is completely lost on you.

  145. 145
    mai naem says:

    @Julie: One of my sister’s B-I-L got severe cerebral palsy after being vaccinated as a toddler. He was apparently normal until the vaccinations. My sister ended up letting her kids get the vaccinations but she was super-worried because of the family history. I also have a friend who has a couple of grandkids who have autism that she blames on vaccinations but she also advocates a spread out vaccination protocol, not just having them not getting them at all.

  146. 146
    Gene108 says:

    @another Holocene human:

    Nobody died from clean drinking water. Getting immersed in large bodies of water like lakes, rivers and oceans can kill you.

    To summarize clean drinking water = no deaths.

    Full body immersion in large bodies of water for too long = death.

  147. 147
    Julie says:

    @Ben Cisco: I have some empathy for those parents. Trying to raise a small human while doing as little damage as possible is a tricky and often crazy-making enterprise. It’s the not learning from mistakes or refusing to change your mind when presented with concrete evidence part that I don’t get.

    @mai naem: Exactly. We have a family history of fairly serious autoimmune disorders on my side, so the high fevers + so many vaccines made me worry. Our pediatrician had no issues with the spread out approach at all, and said that he’s seeing more people choose to do it that way versus not vaccinating at all. So maybe that’s good news? I’m in Oregon, which, as noted above, is ground zero for anti-vaxxers, so I’m going to take it as a win for common sense. (Though we do still have to give the kid fluoride drops since the collective ‘we’ has chosen to keep our water “pure.”)

  148. 148
    Dave says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    My wife died of metastatic breast cancer at age 57, after 4 years of horrendous surgeries, treatments and struggles. At each stage from early diagnosis, we were told that her prognosis was excellent, but it never turned out that way. I’ve never known anyone who wanted to live more than she did, with the crap she went through. Less than a week before she died, she was still holding out hope that “they” would find “something” to help her survive. During the course of her disease, she learned so much that she became a counselor in a local hospital’s cancer resource center. She worked up to 4 weeks before she died, because she had found a purpose, and it sustained her.

    I watched her work with women in her office while taking IV electrolytes and anti-nausea drugs to give her the strength she needed after chemo treatments. She helped many women go through the stages and treatments she had experienced. Many of them survived, she didn’t. I couldn’t be more proud of the way she lived and the way she faced death.

    I can’t believe anyone could be so insensitive, heartless and thoughtless to say something like, “if only she’d tried harder.” I’m with you, Betty, I’d have cracked ’em upside the head.

  149. 149
    Pee Cee says:


    Nobody died from clean drinking water.

    Well, a few

  150. 150
    Gene108 says:


    You talked about fruits. We can handle sugars in fruits because of fiber.

    As you missed my point, I will say it again slowly.

    HFCS will not kill you. But industry has put into everything, which has been linked to the rise in obesity and diabetes.

    A responsible government, not in the pocket of the food industry, would examine how processed foods are engineered because we have a serious public health issue with obesity that did not exist before.

    Anti-vaxxers look at something like government letting additives into foods – despite public health issued – and decide government cannot be trusted.

    Government says get vaccines, they say no I do not trust you.

    Close the trust gap and you can probably solve some of the anti-vax paranoia.

  151. 151
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Why oh why can’t we get this terrible stuff banned?
    I’ve also heard that it is a major cause of destructive flooding.

  152. 152
    Violet says:

    @Gene108: I agree. Some people won’t be convinced but it would help.

    I think corn is the next evil thing. Saw a few minutes of Dr oz and he had a segment on the ubiquity of corn and the problems with that.

  153. 153
    Gene108 says:

    @Pee Cee:

    Learn something new everyday.

  154. 154
    Mnemosyne says:

    @mai naem:

    See, I don’t have a problem with people thinking, Uh-oh, we have a family history of bad reactions to vaccines — better talk to the baby’s pediatrician and see what s/he recommends. It’s the people who don’t bother talking to the doctor and just decide based on a few website that their special snowflake doesn’t need vaccines that drive me up the wall.

  155. 155
    opiejeanne says:

    @another Holocene human: The girls are now told on hiring to be vaccinated and get booster shots for every damned thing under the sun.

    Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the Disney is ebil corporation speech many many times and agree with some of it, but this is an amusement park. It’s the parents who spend several thousand dollars to bring their kids from China or Japan or Bolivia or wherever, get here, realize the kid is sick, and take the child into the park anyway because this is the one time they will ever be there. .

    You want Disney to do a check of every child who enters the park at the gate? I suppose they could do it at the security gates, just hire some nurses to do a quick evaluation of every child in line.

  156. 156
    Mnemosyne says:


    Ironically, it can also happen if you get too dehydrated — water alone can’t replenish your electrolytes and having that fall out of balance can kill you.

  157. 157
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @NCSteve: @Villago Delenda Est: By making sport of the well-known menace of DHMO, you have demonstrated that you are a witless tool of the Big DHMO death merchants who lacks critical thinking skills.

    I understand a large portion of the military incorporate DHMO into their war-making capability, deliberately DESIGNING multi-billion dollar machines to use it in waging war. That’s a pretty big entrenched interest to take on.

  158. 158
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m guessing that the girls who get to play Cinderella or other gloved “face” characters are very glad about it even in the summer heat.

  159. 159
    chopper says:


    the fact that fruit has fiber in it is meaningless as to whether or not our bodies are ‘meant to handle’ simple sugars. our bodies are clearly ‘meant to handle’ simple sugars. shit, our brains fucking run on fucking glucose, and it’s the basic source of energy for the body.

  160. 160
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not.
    They audition because they want that job. It’s VERY competitive and very difficult to be hired. . My daughter was one of 3 hired out of 300 auditioners, and she worked in the heat of summer too, in a dress and wig. They get a lot of breaks, unlike other parks, and when it’s hot the breaks are longer and closer together, but they are almost always in a shaded area, and sometimes inside a building with AC. If it’s too hot they aren’t outside in the park at all, but I can’t remember what the cut-off point was. The ones in full costume are the ones who get really hot, but each set only lasts 20 minutes, less 5 minutes for every 5 degrees above 90, and they are in the shade or inside buildings with AC. We lived in Anaheim at the time and we needed the AC part of the time, so I know how hot it gets there. The only terribly hot part of the park in summer is ToonTown, because there is more pavement and less grass and trees and shade. Mickey and Minnie are almost always inside their houses there, with the AC. Goofy is the only other character I remember even seeing in that part of the park, but I am sure others wandered through sometimes.

  161. 161
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: The princesses made it clear to my daughter and her fellow Alices that Alice and Wendy Darling are NOT princesses.

    The Ariels that they had working at the park when she was there were identical twins, which was really great because if a kid walked by when the other Ariel was in her grotto, they didn’t notice.

  162. 162
    julia says:

    Just had dear friends visiting. During a discussion of the prevalence of anti-vaxxers in the elementary school where one works, the other friend told us to hold up, as her granddaughter was not receiving vaccines. I was taken aback. She went on to explain all the woo-woo theories…her GD was receiving natural immunities from breast milk, there was an autistic child in her son-in-law’s family, too many vaccines are being given, she was being raised in the most natural and pure way possible, etc. She also said that her children were very smart, and if they felt this was best, she supported them 100%. Also mentioned her SIL had a medical background (chiropractor). All I could say was I would agree to disagree, but was very surprised by this news. She did say that they might vaccinate her for some things before she went to school. I certainly hope so!

  163. 163
    TR says:

    Fucking idiots. The lot of them. Goddammit this infuriates me.

  164. 164
    Mnemosyne says:


    Not being sarcastic at all — just thinking that if I were going to hug small children all day, I would be very glad to have an excuse to have gloves on the whole time! :-)

    You might be interested in a recent — 6 Things Nobody Tells You About Working at Disney World. They have a lot of tidbits about being a costumed character (though the ones in the Mickey-type costumes probably aren’t going to catch too many colds from the munchkins — too many layers in between.)

  165. 165
    Mnemosyne says:


    Also, ever since H1N1 hit a few years ago, the Giant Evil Corporation has had Purell stands in every commissary and cafeteria in the company. I’m guessing there’s now probably one at every offstage entrance so employees can get a handful of Purell every time they enter and exit the park.

  166. 166
    Leslie says:

    Re vaccines, a measles outbreak has been traced to a fully vaccinated person for the first time:

    The rate of vaccine failure is very low overall, and for measles it’s less than 1% for those fully vaccinated. But two of the people who were infected by “Measles Mary” were also fully vaccinated. Imagine how much worse this kind of thing is going to get if people continue to refuse vaccinations. And yes, it’s especially infuriating when it’s children getting sick and dying.

    Re HFCS: The HF part means that it has a higher proportion of fructose vs. glucose than table sugar does, so it tastes relatively sweeter. And it’s cheaper to produce, which the food industry loves. So no, it’s not some horrible artificial thing any more than sugar is (which is also produced by a chemical process, so it’s not “natural” either).

    However, that doesn’t mean it’s “safe.” Glucose is processed by the whole body; fructose is processed only by the liver. Too much fructose, and the liver converts any excess into fat, especially abdominal fat. And abdominal fat is especially good at producing inflammatory agents, which in turn greatly increase one’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive impairment, among other things.

    Quite a bit of research has been conducted in the last half-decade or so about the effects of sugar on the body, and eating a lot of any kind of it is not a good idea. But eating large amounts of fructose, in particular, is not wise, especially if one is eating it in any kind of processed form. Fruit = good; fructose apart from fruit … not so good.

    Re wheat/gluten: a whole lot of research going on there, too, the results of which are largely consistent with the anecdata noted in the thread. For a great many people, wheat and/or gluten is associated with a wide range of adverse health conditions, many of them having nothing to do with digestive/bowel functions, but including some of the same fat-forming/inflammation/disease processes that sugar is implicated in. This is true even for people who do not show antibodies for gluten in lab tests; the current tests usually only check for one or two antibodies, but modern wheat contains many proteins besides gluten. Gliadin, for example, binds to the opiate receptors in the brain, and promotes the cravings cycle that often results in people eating an extra 300 to 400 calories per day.

    More research is needed, of course; but if eliminating or significantly reducing gluten consumption relieves health issues or unpleasant symptoms of any sort for a given individual, then maintaining a reduced-gluten or gluten-free eating plan is definitely a good idea.

  167. 167
    Laura says:

    I got the measles vaccine when it was still in clinical trials in the early 1950’s(approximately). My sister was too young. She was very sick for 3 weeks. I got one measle. I also remember getting the Salk vaccine as a small child. It was a very big deal. And typhoid, diptheria and smallpox vaccinations. Dad used to bring the shots home and give them to us. (Sabine vacc came out when I was in high school). We all got more vaccinations when my dad, an Army MD, was sent to Germany when I was 10. I had the pertussis booster a couple of years ago. I’m participating in a clinical trial for a shingles vaccine for people with impaired immune systems. (Mine from chemo) Won’t know for a couple of years whether I got the placebo or not, if I’m still here.

    Also, I always vaccinate puppies and kittens. Parvo is not pretty and is everywhere. I’ve seen puppies die of it in the neighborhood. I had mumps, chickenpox and rubella since there were no vaccines for those during my childhood. So why would I have been stupid enough not to vaccinate my kids!? My grandkids all are vaccinated, too.

  168. 168
    Manyakitty says:

    @Laura: Good! Makes sense!
    @Mnemosyne: Exactly. Although…I have a friend (although at a considerable distance now because of this issue) whose youngest son had a bad reaction to a round of immunizations. He suffered from seizures, fevers, etc., and now has definite residual sensory and developmental challenges. This is unquestionably tragic, and I would never downplay her son’s experience, but she has become an almost lunatic antivaxer, to the point where she spammed her nonsense about government conspiracies on every “Please vaccinate your children” post on my Facebook wall.

    Again, I get it. What I think she’s missing is that her family is a prime example of the importance of herd immunity. Her son may not be able to tolerate immunization, so he is absolutely dependent on others behaving responsibly. I can’t make her see reason about this at all, and she keeps diving further into the deep end of the woo hole. AND her husband is a high school science teacher.


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