Why You Should Get Vaccinated

Jan 26 2015 @ 1:18pm


It prevents outbreaks like this:

A spokesman for the California state health department has told Reuters that he believes “unvaccinated individuals have been the principal factor” in a mid-December measles outbreak at Disneyland that has infected more than 70 people in six western states and Mexico, including five Disney employees.

Sarah Kliff spells out how more individuals getting vaccinated could have protected the six infants who got sick:

The measles vaccine is not licensed for use on babies younger than 12 months. That means that, for the first year of life, babies depend on the fact that everybody else around them gets vaccinated. This essentially creates a firewall: if other people are vaccinated, they won’t catch the disease — and won’t spread it to young children who cannot get protection.

This is what scientists call “herd immunity,” and its a huge reason we get vaccines in the first place. The shots aren’t just about protecting ourselves from measles, mumps, the flu, or other diseases. They’re about making it really hard for those who are medically frail (like the elderly) and those who can’t get the vaccine (often babies and pregnant women) to catch a disease that could be devastating to them.

Another reason herd immunity is important is because vaccines don’t always work. Katie Palmer explains:

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The GOP’s New Year

Jan 26 2015 @ 12:20pm


This was to be the winter of their deep content. Having won the mid-terms on a platform of pure fear and panic, they had Washington DC in their pocket. The agenda was going to be theirs – even if they hadn’t run on much of a platform. They would prove to be a capable governing party again, get the Congress in order, and finally put an asterisk next to Obama’s name for two years.

And what has happened since? We’ve had an attempt to ban all abortion past twenty weeks, with an implicit claim that some rapes are not legitimate (because they weren’t reported to the cops). Critical Republican congresswomen balked, and a largely symbolic vote on a day devoted to pro-life activism collapsed in disorder. Before that, the House voted on the most draconian legislation yet that would require, by some analyses, deporting up to 10 million undocumented immigrants. Moreover, the polling of the base shows, as Aaron Blake argued, that

Although [Republicans] supported citizenship over deportation 43 to 38 percent in November 2013, today they support deportation/involuntary departure over citizenship, 54 to 27 percent. That’s two to one — a stunning shift.

Meanwhile, Obama’s ratings among Latinos have sky-rocketed and Jorge Ramos is now unrelenting in his attacks on the GOP. On economic policy, the Republicans have focused on the Keystone Pipeline and free trade treaties. And that may be it. Dave Camp’s real tax reform proposals fizzled. Cutting Medicare or social security in today’s climate is a very heavy lift. Reform conservative policies have not found a compelling advocate. On foreign policy, the decision to invite Binyamin Netanyahu to address the US Congress (again!) over the head of the sitting president is a grotesque blunder. That’s particularly so as the speech will take place two weeks before the Israeli elections – a piece of meddling that really will hurt the US-Israel relationship.

But don’t take it from me, take it from Fox News:

And what is the argument the GOP wants to make on Iran? That it should be the US that derails the critical last stage of the talks? And that, after doing that, we should respond with a new war in the Middle East to prevent what would then be a rush to get the bomb in Iran? Makes. No. Sense. If the GOP wants to fight the next election on the basis of re-entering the Iraq War with ground troops or a huge bombing campaign against Iran, they’re welcome to try. But the American public is not as obsessed as Sheldon Adelson and AIPAC with the Middle East. And the Iraq war was not a Clint Eastwood fantasy. Even Americans haven’t forgotten that.

Then we had the spectacle of last weekend’s Steve King confab in Iowa. In Roger Simon’s words, the clown car became the clown van. The crowd egged on the far right to go further over the edge. The one candidate who might begin to appeal to more than the base – Bush – was a no-show. By all accounts, Scott Walker gave a bravura performance, which may be the only salient thing to last once the vapors have lifted (and he’s worth watching). But to have so many wackos deliver such red meat to a far right base – with Palin and The Donald delivering random strips of steak tartare – is not a basis for appealing to the broader middle any major party has to, if it wants to govern and not merely scream.

The Palin speech was truly a wonder – an Allan Ginsburg-style Republican “Howl”. I know that with respect to her, I’m an alcoholic who shouldn’t go near a bar – but I couldn’t help myself. Watching the stream of narcissistic, delusional consciousness was like downing three shots of Jäger at once. And there were times when it seemed as if she’d done the same thing (just pick any three minutes at random):

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It appears to have drawbacks:

In research just published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, they uncovered a surprising result among children in the U.K.: Low-income boys who grow up around wealthier peers have more behavior problems like lying, cheating and fighting than their counterparts who grow up immersed in poverty. That result implies that there may be unintended negative consequences to efforts at creating the kinds of communities where poor and better-off families live side by side.

One theory on why this is:

Something called the “relative position hypothesis” may help explain the findings, [Duke’s Candice] Odgers said. Previous studies have suggested that children often evaluate their social rank and self-worth based on comparisons with those around them. Simply put, being poor may be more distressing to a child when he is surrounded by others who are better off.

Is Christie Too Unpopular To Win?

Jan 26 2015 @ 11:41am


The New Jersey governor looks like he’s prepping for a run:

[ launched a federal political action committee, or PAC, Monday as he seeks to lay the groundwork for a likely 2016 presidential campaign.

Harry Enten deflates the Christie hype with the above chart:

Some nominees, such as Democrats Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton, weren’t well known at this point in the campaign. Some, such as Republicans Bob Dole and Ronald Reagan, were very well known and popular. There was George W. Bush in 1999, who was particularly well liked, even if he wasn’t universally known. But no prior nominee had a net favorability rating more than 10 percentage points below where you’d expect given his name recognition.

Christie is 25 percentage points off the pace.

The View From Your Window

Jan 26 2015 @ 11:21am


Cuenca, Ecuador, 1.30 pm

Danny Hayes discovered that “the impoverishment of local political news in recent years is driving down citizen engagement”:

[O]ur analysis, based on a large-scale study of local coverage and citizen behavior in every congressional district across the country, demonstrates that the fading of two-newspaper towns is not the only problem. When the content of local news deteriorates — as has happened nationwide in an era of newsroom austerity — so do citizen knowledge and participation.

What this means in practice:

For example, a decline of two standard deviations in the number of news stories in a district (about 26) reduces by about two points the likelihood of a respondent being able to identify a candidate’s ideology. We find that this is true not only for the least politically engaged voters but also those who are typically more attentive to politics. Where the news environment is impoverished, engagement is diminished for all citizens.

Another Snowpacalypse?

Jan 26 2015 @ 10:31am

Those of us in the Northeast are watching the beginning of this week’s big blizzard, which will likely inundate 29 million people with up to three feet of snow and 55 mph winds. So far 4,360 flights have been cancelled and NYC’s public transit system could grind to a halt. The National Weather Service is calling the storm “potentially historic”. Harry Enten unpacks that possibility:

New York City is under a blizzard warning for 20 to 30 inches of snow. The biggest snowstorm to ever hit New York dropped 26.9 inches of snow on Feb. 12 and 13, 2006, according to data going back to 1869. The snowy wallop was caused by mesoscale bands that pivoted over the city in the overnight hours. …

If the National Weather Service is dead-on accurate (not a sure thing), the coming blizzard will make it into New York’s top six at a minimum. As long as a foot and a half of snow falls, this storm will be tied for the 10th spot with an 1872 storm none of us was alive to see. Boston is also under a blizzard warning for 20 to 30 inches of snow. According to data dating back to 1935, Boston’s top snowfall, 27.5 inches, occurred during the “President’s Day Storm II” in 2003. It’s quite possible this storm will top it.

But Andrew Freedman warns against that hype:

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Results In The Greek General Election

Over the weekend, Greek anti-austerity party Syriza, lead by firebrand Alexis Tsipras, claimed a resounding victory. Matt Schiavenza contemplates the sizable implications:

Tsipras’ victory presents the troika—a consortium consisting of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund—with a series of unappetizing options. If the troika gives in and writes down Greek debt, then other, larger countries—such as Spain—will have an incentive to negotiate a similar deal, triggering a major financial headache in Brussels and Frankfurt. If the troika refuses, then Greece is likely to default on its debt obligations this year and be forced to exit the eurozone—a fate that neither Tsipras nor the European leadership say they want.

Either way, the events in Greece signal that Europe’s long, failed experiment with austerity is cracking. In addition to Syriza, anti-austerity parties have grown popular in Spain, where opinion polls show Pablo Iglesias’ Podemos with 20 percent support. And Euroskeptic parties gained heavily in last years’s European parliament elections, particularly Marine Le Pen’s National Front Party, which has campaigned against fiscal austerity in France.

James Forsyth fixates on Syriza’s forming “a coalition with a party that takes just a robust view as it on the need to renegotiate the terms of the Greek bailout, The Independent Greece party”:

Independent Greece and Syriza have little in common other than their view on the bailout, Independent Greece sits in the same group as the Tories in the European Parliament. That Alexis Tsipras has chosen to do a deal with them rather than the leftist Potami who favour a less confrontational approach to the troika is telling. It shows that he has no intention of blinking first in his negations with the IMF, the rest of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. ​

George Magnus is unsure how this ends:

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The Limits Of New Scientism

Jan 26 2015 @ 9:02am

Steven Shapin explores the question of whether or not science can make us good. He notes that while modern iterations have shorn religion of its claims to authority, “the ambitions of the new scientism may be self-limiting”:

Different scientists draw different moral inferences from science. Some have concluded that it is natural and good to be ruthlessly competitive; others see it natural to cooperate and trust; still others embrace the lesson of the naturalistic fallacy and oppose the project of inferring the moral from the natural. That was the basis of T. H. Huxley’s skepticism in 1893:

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Map Of The Day

Jan 26 2015 @ 8:15am

Nathan Yau made a zoomable map of how we commute:


He zeros in on some outliers:

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