Minutiae
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The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
--Cornelius Tacitus (c. 116 A.D.)

Saturday, August 17, 2002
Ha!
HA!
Take
THAT, water nazis!

Sorry. Pet peeve. We had to do a behavior change project for my health psych class and fully half the people in it did water. (The idea was to increase a health-promoting behavior or decrease a health-detrimental behavior.) So for the entire semester I saw these people wandering around campus with 64 ounce bottles of Evian. They tried to drink 2 (or more!) of them a day. Needless to say, those same people were always jumping up to pee during class. I see that more and more now on my health-conscious campus. People brag about their water consumption or make whispered confessions about their inadequate intake. What takes the cake: some of these people smoke!
posted by Rachel 8/17/2002
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See what happens? Kitten pictures!
posted by Rachel 8/17/2002
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Moms of the world: looking under your son's mattress just got hi-tech.
posted by Rachel 8/17/2002
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This is a fascinating article. I can't even excerpt it to do it justice, just go read it. I haven't decided yet how well I think it fits Al Qaeda, but it's persuasive on some other history.
posted by Rachel 8/17/2002
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“He who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honor by non-violently facing death, may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

posted by Rachel 8/17/2002
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If (and it's a big if) someone were to release smallpox, it would possibly be the worst humanitarian disaster in the history of the world.
There's the space of about a week when it's highly contagious but either not obvious or easily mistaken for chicken pox. Litttle sophistication would be required to spread it. We have the most mobile population in the history of the world. No one's seen smallpox in over 20 years.
The US has enough vaccine and the infrastructure to administer it. North America might be a little chaotic but we'd be ok overall. Imagine smallpox loose in Africa. If smallpox got out again it's not exaggeration to say that tens of millions of people could die.

posted by Rachel 8/17/2002
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The CDC has decided that the risk of smallpox vaccinations is greater than the risk of a terrorist release. [Ahem. Bullshit. Ahem] According to the CDC the risk of smallpox vaccinations is 1-2 deaths per million among healthy recipients. That’s harsh but it’s not considered unacceptable in the face of other diseases like whooping cough or the oral polio vaccine. This is a quote from the CDC general vaccines page: “The risk of the disease itself is substantially more serious than the risk of the immunization.” That’s from the section where they try to convince skittish parents that vaccines are safe.

The risk of smallpox: 30% FATALITY rate among those infected. Survivors are permanently disfigured. Expect roughly 5% of the population to die. (Think about that for a minute. Do you know 100 people? Follow the link, see why this was one of the most feared diseases in human history.)
The risk of smallpox vaccine: 0.00001% Fatality rate. Assuming the highest fatality rate, there could be 500 deaths nationwide. A roughly similar number would likely suffer neurological damage or severe skin disease.

When they were talking about vaccinating people against anthrax they advised against it because the exposure risk could not be calculated. At least in that case they came right out and said ‘we don’t really know how likely it is that any given person could be deliberately exposed. So even though the risk of the vaccine is on par with those we do encourage (much less allow,) people to get, we think it’s too risky because, without any data to go on, we’ll just go ahead and assume that the risk of exposure is nil. And, well, 1 in a million is greater than zero. dum dee dum…’

And let's not even get into the ethics of denying competent adults the right to choose a valid medical treatment based on their own assessment of the risks involved. Can we say paternalism? Bastards.

"No information that suggests an imminent smallpox threat" my ass. If there was an indication there wouldn't be much threat would there? We'll never be caught with our pants down.

Ring vaccination is a joke. Haven't these yahoos read The Stand? One infected dude could road-trip across the country during the week when he's most contagious but not yet obviously suffering from smallpox, (and smallpox is hella contagious.) One dude, 3 meals a day at truck stops... Think about that for a second. How many highly-mobile people could one determined terrorist have face to face contact with without arousing much suspicion? If that one guy was willing to go off and hide somewhere where he or his death wouldn't set off the alarms, it could take people 2 weeks to catch on.

Are you scared yet?
posted by Rachel 8/17/2002
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