The Bookworm Beat 12/4/14 — Plumber days and party nights edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingI spent a large part of my day hanging around waiting for the plumber to come and, once he came, hanging around while he did his thing. Surprisingly (for me, at least), this is not a complaint. I’m fortunate enough to have found a wonderful plumber (Marin residents can email me separately for referral info), and I’m just so happy to have my pipes in trustworthy hands.

How trustworthy? This is the plumber who, even though in a position to get an $11,000 job re-piping the main sewer line, said “Don’t be ridiculous. All you need to do is preventive rootering once a year plus RootX once a year. Problem solved.” I love this man and his team.

As for the party night . . . one of my soccer dad friends, going way back to when my kids were small, turns out to be a conservative. Not only that, he’s just a totally great guy — intelligent, kind, thoughtful, and the whole megillah of other positive adjectives. He’s hosting a little get-together tonight for a few of Marin’s hidden conservatives. I’m so looking forward to being in a room in which I can debate issues, rather than being baited about issues.

But before I go, I’m trying to jam out a few links I think you’ll enjoy. Forgive typos, ’cause I’m really rushing this one:

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The devastation that is the anti-vaccination movement

African children with polioIn pre-modern times, an average of 50% of all children born in the Western world died before the age of five.  They died from bad milk, spoiled food, infections, accidents, and epidemic disease.  Nowadays, in theory, the only reason children anywhere in the world “should” die is unavoidable accidents.  Otherwise, we have pasteurization for milk, refrigeration for food, antibiotics for infections, and vaccinations for epidemic diseases.

The problem is that theory only gets one so far.  In poverty-stricken parts of the world, pasteurization, refrigeration, and antibiotics simply aren’t available, so children die . . . and die . . . and die.  Even in America, the anti-pasteurization “raw food” movement puts children at risk of contracting the horrible diseases that Louis Pasteur’s insights ought to have ended.

And as for that vaccination thing . . . oy!  In the Middle East and Africa, as well as in Muslim enclaves in Europe, imams preach that polio vaccinations carry AIDS (planted by Americans and Zionist agents), and insist that children not get vaccinated.  They’re willing to enforce this ukase with murderous violence.  Measles vaccinations are treated with equal disrespect and are, in any event, often unavailable in African and Middle Eastern hinterlands.

Sadly, in America, vaccinations are also missing.  They’re not missing because of violence or poverty but, instead, are missing because of a malevolent strain of ignorance, fully comparable to that the imams preach from their pulpits.  Middle class American parents have bought into fully debunked and discredited studies about vaccination’s association with autism.  In addition, a generation of parents that has never seen the scourge of an epidemic disease is more afraid of the small likelihood that a child might react to a vaccination than appropriately fears an actual epidemic.

There’s not doubt that, every time I vaccinate my children, I am taking the 1/10,000 or 1/50,000 or 1/100,000 risk that my child might die from that vaccination.  Of course, every time I put my child in a car, I’m also taking a risk, and a significantly larger one (1/84 chances of that happening).  Somehow, though, we manage to discount the car driving risk, but freak out over the vaccination one.  These freak-outs blind modern parents to the fact that a good epidemic, once it gets a foothold in society, can kill at rates between 10% and 50% before it burns itself out.  (In the 16th century, measles killed half the population in Honduras.)

Thanks to this all-American ignorance, measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough, all of which can be fatal in the short or long term, are on the upswing in America.  They’re not on the upswing because vaccinations don’t work; they are rising because American parents are exceptionally poor at risk evaluation.  They’re also on the upswing in Africa, Europe and the Middle East (along with polio) thanks to both war and prejudice:

The Council on Foreign relations prepared this graphic to show measles outbreaks around the world

The Council on Foreign relations prepared this graphic to show measles (purple) and whooping cough (green) outbreaks around the world

Learn more about the terrible dangers of the anti-vaccination movement here.