The question of whether or not to take the vaccine is loaded. Both Biden and Harris (as well as Pence) have taken the shots in order to promote the idea that the vaccine is safe and effective, but, as noted here before, the Queen was going to take it for the same reason only decided a better example would be to wait in the queue.
Here in New Hampshire, Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, called out congress members for jumping the line and getting the vaccine ahead of health workers. Both our Senators and one of our two Reps declined the shots on that level, and good for them.
But it is an open question of which example you choose to provide.
Assuming, that is, that you’ve been setting a responsible example up to now.
Jeff Danziger (WPWG) is absolutely right that, if you’ve been not just downplaying but denying and undermining the issue of the pandemic, you are a damned hypocrite to get the shot at all, and, IMHO, that not only goes for Murdoch, but for any government officials who have refused to wear masks or avoid crowded venues.
The old question, “At long last, have you no sense of shame?” is no longer rhetorical.
Life in Mayberry isn’t all laughs these days, and Greg Kearney (Ind) points out a crisis for country folk in the pandemic: Our little hospitals aren’t prepared to do a lot more than stabilize-and-transport, but the regional medical centers that normally absorb our more serious cases are full up.
If you look at stats, you’ll see that you’re more likely to die at a major med center than in a country hospital. But the reason is that routine cases are dealt with at small hospitals while more critical cases are sent to those major metros where they may make it or not.
Still, small rural hospitals provide needed services and are often lifesavers.
My mother was on the board of the tiny hospital in our isolated Adirondack town some years ago, and the state kept questioning the cost of maintaining it, and threatening to shut it down. My suggestion was that they have a meeting to discuss the issue.
And have it there.
In the middle of February.
And if the brass hats from Albany couldn’t get there, ask them how in the hell we were supposed to get out in an emergency.
Also on the topic of medicine, xkcd (Ind) addresses the troubling question of testing.
In recent years, the practice of hiring Third World folks to test new drugs has justifiably come under fire as exploitive, but Radiolab had a brilliant episode on the overall topic this past weekend.
They profiled Maurice Hilleman, an absolute genius who pioneered several major vaccines and quite a few minor ones, but they also addressed the ethical issue of testing with placebos, with the development of the polio vaccine as an example:
We knew that it worked because 16 children in that study died from polio, all in the placebo group. Thirty-six children were permanently paralyzed, 34 in the placebo group. But for the flip of a coin, those children could have been alive and well today.
Jonas Salk was anguished over that moral dilemma, they report, but what is the alternative?
The show is available in both audio and transcript format and I strongly recommend it.
On a lighter but still serious note, Paul Thomas (Daily Mail) offers this picture of the situation in Britain and France, where the rush to get goods in and out of the UK before the New Year’s Brexit deadline has run up against the emergence of a new strain of the coronavirus, which closed the border.
Comparing Brexit with the election of Trump is quite a debate, because we’ve managed to turn the rascal out, but we will be dealing with the toxicity of a divided, hostile nation for the foreseeable future. I think, if the Brits could undo Brexit, they might return to the status quo ante, but undoing Brexit would take a great deal more than an election.
In the mean time, I have sympathy for the truckers stuck in this jam. I covered a work-to-rule strike by Canadian customs workers back in the early 90s when we had two or three miles of trucks lined up at the border. The drivers were more or less in solidarity with the strikers, but they needed to get through the customs shed and on with things.
Some had perishable cargo that would be next to worthless if it didn’t get through in time, but the most pathetic fellow I met was headed for a hazmat disposal site in Quebec, which meant that he couldn’t leave his truck. Others brought him food from the McDonald’s on a nearby exit, but they couldn’t bring him a restroom.
Santa may regret quaffing those Cokes.
I’ve given to Heifer Int’l at Christmas in the past, and I also donated for a couple of years to a New Mexico charity whose name I’ve forgotten but which served the local Indian community.
I think truly gracious giving would be to match the charity to the person you’re sending the card to, such that someone who went back to college late in life would appreciate that you donated to the Pearl Foundation, while a person who particularly likes cheetahs, or kangal dogs, might like to know you’d given to the Cheetah Conservation Fund on their behalf.
As for making me happy, you could donate and then send me, not a card, but some kind of dongle I could attach to my TV to block Sarah McLachlan’s sad-ass ASPCA promos (which, BTW, don’t help your local shelter).
Or, better yet, find a charity that spends a third of donations on rescue and the rest on lobbying Southern states to cut the supply with better spay/neuter laws.
(I’m assuming we all understand the cause of the problem)