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Archive for May, 2011

[Via Unreasonable Faith] I fully approve of pointing out the schizophrenia of the Republicans regarding Ayn Rand and Christianity. This will, no doubt, make a few Tea Party activists’ heads explode.

Admittedly, one way around this is for a conservative simply say that Ayn Rand was right on economics, not religion, but Jesus was right on religion. It would be harder to wiggle out of the issue, though, if they pointed out Jesus and Ayn Rand’s diametrically opposed positions on wealth and charity. Jesus said things like:

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Whereas, Ayn Rand makes personal greed the highest virtue, and has a dismal view of altruism.

(See, my childhood knowledge of Christianity is still useful.)

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The Measles vaccination is part of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella), which has been targeted by anti-vaxers.

2011 is on track to be the worst year for measles cases in more than a decade. Although the Centers for Disease Control declared the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease “eliminated” from the US in the early 2000s, it continues to spread, with the highest number of cases this early in the year since 1996, the CDC reported this week

In the first 19 weeks of this year, 118 cases in 23 states have been reported, compared to a median of 56 cases a year between 2001 and 2008, according to the CDC… 40 percent of patients required hospitalization, with babies and kids under age five the most severely affected. In Europe, there’s been a far larger outbreak, with 33 countries battling measles. France has been hit by an epidemic of nearly 10,000 cases in the first four months of 2011.

Before [the vaccine] was available, 3 to 4 million Americans came down with measles annually, of whom 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized and 1,000 were chronically disabled from encephalitis. In countries where vaccine isn’t widely available, the disease killed 242,000 people, mainly kids, in 2006.

Source: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/measles-outbreak-how-to-protect-yourself

One thing that is confusing about the article is that it says 40% of people with measles are hospitalized (which could put a significant cost on the health care system), but later, it says that before the vaccine, 3-4 million Americans got measles annually and 48,000 were hospitalized (which would be a rate just over 1%). Then again, maybe doctors are far more likely to recommend hospitalizing patients with measles in 2011 than they were pre-1970 – because they can watch for complications and prevent deaths.

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The Internet Filter

I know this has been posted all over the place, but in case you hadn’t seen it – this is a quick talk about the internet filter bubble. In it, Eli Pariser talks about how google and Facebook (along with Yahoo News) try to make guesses at what information you might be interested in, and custom-tailor their results to fit you. Of course, this leads to a problem in that the web results can reinforce pre-existing beliefs without dissenting opinions. If you’re politically liberal or conservative, religious or an atheist, the web will accommodate you and return results that support your views. In fact, it might begin to seem like the whole internet pretty much agrees with you, which can lead to a false sense of consensus.

It’s not clear what the solution is, given that it seems to be in internet companies’ best interests to do this filtering (i.e. it retains customers/users). In response to this talk, I expect that Google might provide some sort of “unfiltered results” button, but it will be off by default.

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Debating…

Well, I finally have more time again. From the end of 2009 until early 2011, I was getting by ass kicked running my own business. Now, I have a new job that gives me both more time and more money. I’m debating whether to keep blogging here or moving to a new site – that would let me do more interesting things with the website layout (I have experience building websites), including things like viewcounts for individual posts, twitter integration, better ways to find old posts, etc. I’ve never been super happy with the options available on the wordpress site. I’d give me a reason to experiment with new webdesign, too. I could use some more experience.

I even picked up a new webdomain the other day – PostcardsFromTheApocalypse.com. (It’s a dead link right now.) I don’t know for sure if I’ll use it, but I picked it up the day before the “end of the world” on May 21st. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

In the meanwhile, enjoy this dose of crazy. He’s part of the “Black Israelites” religious group in New York City.

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