Links All Hallows Eve

Oíche Shamhna Shona Daoibh! Let’s celebrate with some links. Science:

The Grim Future if Ebola Goes Global
How bad is the NIH budget really?
Three reasons public health experts think Ebola quarantines are a terrible idea
Swiss Approve Ebola Vaccine Trial
BioFire Defense, a bioMérieux company, receives fast-track authorization of FilmArray® Ebola Test

Other:

Plague Ship (must-read)
Should DC limit charter growth? David Catania says no, while Bowser and Schwartz say maybe
The Police Are Still Out of Control: I should know.
Two years after Portland’s auto parking wars, apartment garages aren’t filling up
The Passion Of Big Chicken: The Righteousness Of The Self
Man charged with breaking a trooper’s fist with his face (the part about jury intimidation by the police is particularly galling)
Vision Zero won’t be easy
2 Kids from Senegal Were Beaten Up in NYC by Classmates Yelling ‘Ebola’
You can’t say poll tax
On Friday, Anita Sarkeesian called out “toxic masculinity” on Twitter. Here’s what happened next. (yet one more reason to stick with table top miniatures…)
Bridge To Nowhere
Our distorted priorities
Police Pay Gap: Many of America’s Finest Struggle on Poverty Wages
Let the Smearing of ‘Left Wing’ Quarantined Nurse Kaci Hickox Begin

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Breakfast Repast

Observed on P Street, Dupont Circle, D.C.:

Breakfast repast

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The Question About Ebola Restrictions That Is Still Unanswered

It’s bad enough that healthcare workers who treat Ebola patients in the U.S. are now being stigmatized. In part, this stems from too many state governors and other political figures* caving due to unreasonable fear.

But what I don’t get about the restrictions is this: if we had an outbreak they wouldn’t work. To treat the patients in Nebraska, it required forty to sixty people. Suppose we get another Ebola case. If we’re going to isolate people who were exposed to an Ebola patient, these workers will have to undergo a 21-day isolation/quarantine. Now imagine two weeks into that quarantine, there’s another patient admitted to the same facility. Will these workers be called back in? Will a new set of forty to sixty workers be ‘spent’ treating the new case? If we call back the previous workers, they will have gone months without having any chance to live an ordinary life for no reason at all (if there is no fever, there is no transmission–that’s the only ‘good’ thing about this damn virus).

Mind you, the CDC regulations don’t call for isolation of asymptomatic healthcare workers who are compliant with a fever monitoring regime (which is reasonable). But it’s pretty clear that the states have not thought this through at all (that New Jersey stuck a possibly ill person in a tent on a cold night without heat tells you all you need to know about our ‘preparedness‘).

These isolation policies are a farce. Worse, they are distracting us from real questions, such as how did WHO react so slowly and so poorly.

*To their credit, the only prominent politicians with authority to do something and who haven’t been idiots are President Obama, MA Gov. Deval Patrick, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (no, really), and NYC Mayor DeBlasio.

Posted in Fucking Morons, Public Health, Viruses | 4 Comments

Links 10/30/14

Links for you. Science:

What Made Women Scarce in Computer Science Courses in the US?
Biological litmus paper detects Ebola strains
In an astonishing and unexpected revival, dubbed the ‘Phoenix Effect’, reefs around the world are returning to life
Death Of Northern White Rhino Leaves Only Six Left In Existence
Sanity and Santé: How the Gambia is Keeping Ebola at Bay (but somehow the states of New Jersey and New York can’t?)

Other:

What Not to Do
Chuck Todd, Man of the People
YOUTHFUL SHENANIGANS
More Men Are Raped in US Than Women?
Rocket’s Red Glare
For Iraq’s Sunnis, sectarian militias pose an extra threat
The future is disappearing: How humanity is falling short of its grand technological promise
They Need Him, So Why Was Michael Sam Cut From the Dallas Cowboys?
Will the War on Terror Be the Template for the Ebola Crisis?
Ebola Hysteria Fever: A Real Epidemic
@TIME Gets Tenure Wrong, Part I: It Is NOT Hard To Fire a Teacher (no, it isn’t)
Joe Scarborough’s Ebola panic: He’s just “asking questions” about how we’re all going to get sick
When Stupid Is an End In Itself
If you want an abusive Daddy-in-chief for president, Chris Christie’s your man
Fast Food in Denmark Serves Something Atypical: Living Wages

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Nightmare in Georgetown

Observed at the corner of 31st and Q Streets, Georgetown, D.C.:

Nightmare in Georgetown

Not so scary from a distance:

Nightmare in Georgetown

All-knowing, all-seeing:
Continue reading

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Some Thoughts on De Facto Ebola Quarantines

With Ebolamania in full swing, a phrase that has really bothered me is ‘understandable fear’, because most of the Ebola-related fears are not understandable at all.

Here’s an example of understandable fear. You’re on the subway, and the guy next to you projectile vomits, then turns to you and says, “Boy, that trip to Liberia really knocked the wind out of my sails!” You would be a dope to not be concerned (to say the least).

An unreasonable fear is thinking someone who has no symptoms, especially no fever, can give you the disease–because that can’t happen. At all. The only ‘good’ thing about Ebola virus is that we can identify who can transmit the disease (feverish) and, important, who can’t. Avoiding someone who has no symptoms will protect you as well as changing the motor oil in your car would.

That is to say, not at all.

Over the weekend, I discussed the utter inanity of isolating an asymptomatic nurse who had worked with Ebola patients. While most of the attention was focused on New Jersey, in part because New Jersey Governor Christie’s default personality setting is “asshole” and in part because New Jersey seemed utterly unprepared, other states have also instituted overly strict regulations that are unnecessary. Consider D.C. (boldface mine):

By contrast, local health authorities in Washington on Friday began implementing a more aggressive voluntary isolation procedure, notifying all licensed health-care providers returning from Ebola-affected regions to isolate themselves for 21 days, including from public places such as mass transit, grocery stores and bowling alleys, and to limit physical contact with spouses or others.

Essentially, this is an at-home quarantine for no reason at all. We are denying those who have risked much (or all) their basic freedoms because some of us are foolishly afraid, not because there is a legitimate medical reason to do so. Here’s what that means (boldface mine):

Or look at the case of Kaci Hickox, the Doctors Without Borders nurse detained at Newark Airport. This is what she thought about while she was held, in a tent, even after her Ebola test came back negative:

I recalled my last night at the Ebola management center in Sierra Leone. I was called in at midnight because a 10-year-old girl was having seizures. I coaxed crushed tablets of Tylenol and an anti-seizure medicine into her mouth as her body jolted in the bed.

It was the hardest night of my life. I watched a young girl die in a tent, away from her family.

Imagine coming back from that experience and being told: You cannot see anyone you care about. You cannot go out in public. You will stay alone in a tent, too. You will spend the next three weeks without any human contact whatsoever. You cannot see your spouse, your kids, or your friends. And, by the way, thanks for your service.

“Nurses and doctors everyday risk their lives for patients,” says Linda Greene, an infectious disease specialist and board member of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, which opposes Ebola quarantines. “Our approach to them, when they return, is punishment. Three weeks is a long time.”

To its credit, the CDC’s new guidelines would require daily monitoring–which should be done–but do not call for at-home quarantine, if the worker is asymptomatic and cooperating with authorities.

Leaving the curtailing of civil rights and the basic indecency of confining people for no goddamn reason, these stricter measures clearly haven’t been thought through:

On the off chance she does have Ebola, will the State of New Jersey [or the District] force hospital personnel to remain in quarantine as well? What about all of the people who interrogated her? Will they be quarantined as well? …Most importantly, have they even considered this question?….

In Nebraska, it took forty to sixty people to care for a single patient. We’re going isolate at-home all those medical workers without cause? If we had multiple cases, we would start to run out of trained workers.

Unnecessary fear incurs unnecessary costs. Though if you’re not the one paying those costs, I suppose no sacrifice upon the altar of needless fear is too high…

Posted in Civil Liberties, Public Health, Viruses | 11 Comments

Links 10/29/14

Links for you. Science:

A Poop Bank in Massachusetts Will Pay You $40 Every Day
Salamander Shindig Appears On Front Doorstep, Shocks Homeowner
How the Right-Wing Media Smeared a Science Project
Bowling Alone
Public transit does spread diseases. But Ebola isn’t one of them.

Other:

EBOLA VOLUNTEERS ARE THE NEW UNIONIZED TEACHERS (make sure you read the second part as well)
The UNC Scandal Exposes the “Student-Athlete” Lie Once and For All
Warren’s Challenge to Clinton
The New York Ebola patient is a hero. Stop criticizing his bowling trip.
Ebola: The Real Reason Everyone Should Panic–Our Global Institutions are Broken
Tip and Gip Sip and Quip: The politics of never
Bioethicist: Hotels, Not Quarantines, for Ebola Heroes (not a bad idea, but the reality is that it would resemble what’s happening in New Jersey–the decent option isn’t on the table)
A Doctor’s Diary: Encountering Chaos And Kindness In An Ebola Ward
Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns
U.S. Ebola fighters head to Africa, but will the military and civilian effort be enough? (I’m guessing most people haven’t even heard of the PHS, one of our eight uniformed services)
Dayenu in Reverse: The Passover Canon of Arendt’s Critics
Today in #Ebolanoia: Online abuse, threats to force-quarantined nurse (yes, going GamerGate on first responders who risk their lives will help. Or something)
The new “blame America first crowd”

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