Watching “Bosch” on Amazon streaming and I’m hooked! Everything about the show is pitch-perfect.
Santa Monica CA: On January 23rd, 2015, a baseball coach at Santa Monica High School was diagnosed with measles. A week later, a baby at the school’s Infant and Toddler Center was identified with the disease. The incidents immediately ignited local news outlets who were eager to splash any measles-related image they could scrounge onto the city’s television screens.
For instance, KTLA (“the CW”) has not failed even once to flash an ominous “FIELD CLOSED” sign in every measles-related story they’ve run, implying that the closure of the baseball field has something to do with the coach’s illness–never mind that the field was closed some weeks before the outbreak for annual re-seeding and recuperation. This is exactly the sort of manipulative pseudo-journalism we’ve come to expect and revere from our frothy local broadcasters.
Two weeks later, students arriving for school are often-as-not greeted by the sight of news vans ready to pounce on any image they can find indicating that the measles are running rampant at a local high school. It’s a situation perfectly designed for some form of student hijinks.
Disappointingly, out of the 3000+ students who attend the school, not one has yet arrived on campus sporting fake measles spots!
Imagine the video frenzy that would ensue should a group of students–OMG, what if it was the baseball team!–showed up with red dots on their faces. All it would take is one student pocketing a common Expo marker and the group would have all the tools it needed to stage a major media event.
How long do students imagine the spotlight will shine on them? Barring a major epidemic at the school, those news vans will soon disappear and the opportunity will be lost.
Wake up, Samohi students! Time is running out!
Ah, Saturday! A day to sleep late, to lie in a dozy state between the covers, to savor the luxury of a day off work. Or, alternatively, to answer the cell phone ringing in the study at 4:25 a.m.
The phone could be ringing for any number of reasons that demand my attention. A close relative has died. A cloud of toxic gas is headed my way. Or possibly, the 7:00 a.m. custodian is calling to tell me he’s sick and I need to find a replacement. Whatever it is, it isn’t good news. Good news does not arrive at 4:25 in the morning. Nothing good arrives at 4:25 a.m. except possibly babies, which in my case would not be good, either, for a variety of reasons.
Anyway, I throw back the covers and stumble in the dark across the cold hardwood floor to the study.
I should point out that it’s the Holidays and we’re dogsitting for a couple of people. Not all of the dogs are perfectly housebroken. You know what comes next.
I step up to the phone and into dog poop. The phone stops ringing before I can answer. I don’t recognize the number. I set the phone down and hop to the bathroom to wash my foot.
Foot washed, I start back to the bedroom and the phone rings again. I answer, “Hello, this is Jan” and am greeted by the blurry voice of an obvious drunk. “Who?” Laughter in the background. More drunken voices. Then, “Wrong number. Sorry, buddy.”
No, pal, whatever our relationship may be, at 4:25 in the morning as I stand in dog poop to answer your drunken butt call, I would not characterize you as my “buddy.”
But, I look on the bright side: At least no one close to me has died, and my wife isn’t having a baby.
Well, we got through last night without major incident, despite the fog! I’m very gratified to have been able to lead our team through this perilous night. With visibility down to zero in some places, it could have been the most disastrous Christmas Eve in history. But we pulled it off, and I don’t believe I’m being boastful to claim the lion’s share of the credit as far as the Reindeer Team is concerned. It’s marvelous to finally have the chance to prove my abilities as a leader of deer, and I thank you most graciously for the opportunity.
As you know, I’ve been discriminated against ever since my arrival at the North Pole. I was ridiculed because of my unusual nose (which has proved to be so beneficial under adverse flying conditions). The other reindeer shunned me for no other apparent reason, engaging in sporting games to which I was very clearly not invited, demonstrating a shallowness and meanness of spirit that, frankly, I was surprised to encounter.
I don’t have to tell you how this social ostracism made me feel. At times it seemed as if life was not worth living, all because of the prejudice of your established team.
Then you gave me the chance of a lifetime, and I must say that I rose admirably to the occasion. The other members of the team finally accepted me as a valuable member, though I have to say that their acceptance often seemed forced and insincere, as if they felt compelled to accept me because of my elevated status in your eyes. Their admiration came from without, not from within.
I feel now compelled to bring to your attention certain facts about the rest of the reindeer team. I realize that these statements may appear, at first blush, to arise from some resentment over the treatment I received at the hooves of the others, but I assure you, I am communicating these observations to you as a matter of service to you and to the children of the world and not out of any petty desire for revenge.
Let’s begin with Blitzen. His ongoing battle with the demon alcohol is well known amongst your team. While I recognize that addiction is a disease and not a moral shortcoming, I shudder to think what liability you and your team could be subject to should an accident occur–perhaps while maneuvering to a landing on a particularly steep and slippery rooftop–and should it come to the attention of the authorities that one of your team was “blitzed,” so to speak.
I recommend that Blitzen be retired from your service until he has completed successfully a course of treatment.
Prancer is another member who gives me pause. I am not homophobic. But there is a difference between a reindeer with certain sexual proclivities and one who openly flaunts his deviant sexuality by “prancing” through our sacred mission on Christmas Eve. It is not so much his sexuality as his careless attitude that offends me, along with the impression he may leave on young children who happen to glimpse us as we make our rounds, especially as concerns the attentions he pays to a willing and receptive Dancer.
As to Vixen, well, we all know how she got her job (thanks to Cupid) and I’d say that, as I led our team on Christmas Eve, she did not pull her weight. In fact, her flirtatious ways had an adverse effect on the otherwise stalwart Donner.
Of all your team, I can only commend the dedication of Comet, though his aloof manner and general mysteriousness (coming and going at odd intervals, then disappearing for long periods of time) marks him as somewhat of an outsider, even as I was before that fortuitous foggy night.
In summary, now that I am in a position of some authority and trust within your service, I urge you to evaluate the rest of the reindeer team scrupulously and to seek replacements if and where you deem appropriate.
Yours most humbly,
I’m not panicked about ebola in the United States, but I’m glad that other people are.
From the first, we’ve heard the voices of reason, assuring us that ebola is “hard to catch,” that our borders are safe, that our health care system can handle any outbreak, and recently, that “You’re more likely to marry Kim Kardashian or Rush Limbaugh than to die from ebola in the United States” (at a time when there’s been one death). No lesser a person than the President has told us, “You can’t catch ebola on a bus.”
On the other hand, the facts seem to tell a different story.
Ebola may be “hard to catch” when compared to the flu or measles, but the official count is over 9000 cases and the World Health Organization states that the actual number is probably far, far higher, due to under-reporting. Click this link to see why. Somehow, despite ebola being relatively (key word) “hard to catch,” somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people have managed the feat. The current outbreak has killed more than three times as many people as all previous ebola outbreaks since 1976 combined.
Our screening to keep ebola out of the United States has consisted of asking people on a questionnaire if they’ve been exposed to ebola. Thomas Duncan had been exposed but he answered “no” to this question, and he was flown from Liberia to the USA. The idea that someone wanting out of a plague-infested area might lie on their paperwork would seem intuitive, but such wasn’t the case at the time.
Thomas Duncan, feverish with ebola, presented himself to a hospital in Dallas. A nurse recorded that he had traveled from Liberia. That information was relayed to a doctor. Duncan, however, lied again and told them that he had not been exposed to ebola. He was diagnosed with a “low-grade viral disease” and the hospital sent him home with antibiotics (which are ineffectual against any viral disease… but don’t get me started).
By the time he returned with full-blown ebola three days later (after vomiting blood), he was left in a waiting room for three hours before being admitted and the admitting nurses did not wear hazmat suits. He died ten days later, after infecting two nurses.
Clearly, our health care system was not working to isolate ebola patients.
As for the President’s statement that you “can’t catch ebola on a bus,” that statement directly contradicts the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation that the “safe zone” around an ebola patient is three feet (discounting projectile vomiting), a mixed message that had CDC Director Tom Frieden–caught between his own agency’s statements and those of his President–to concoct a bizarre response along the lines that “a person could give ebola but not get it” on a bus.
(The mathematically inclined might find this article interesting, comparing the infectiousness of ebola outbreaks–Yambuku, Zaire, 1976 vs. Kikwit, Zaire, 1995–and other infectious disease outbreaks such as measles and HIV: http://mtbi.asu.edu/files/Mathematical_Models_to_Study_the_Outbreaks_of_Ebola.pdf)
As for the fact that there’s only been one ebola death: Yes, and that’s exactly the time to address the issue, before one becomes two, before two become four, and so forth. It’s called “exponential growth” and if you wait until 1000 or 5000 or 50,000 people are affected–wherever you personally draw the line before you get worried–it’s too late.
The result of all of this advice from the government not to panic in the face of contradicting, anecdotal evidence: Ebola Panic! And thank goodness for that panic.
The government belatedly began taking the temperatures of airline passengers from ebola-stricken countries, both before boarding and after arrival in the USA. Their flights were directed to certain airports best equipped to isolate symptomatic passengers if need be. It’s no longer enough for a passenger to declare on a form–possibly lying, as Thomas Duncan did–about their exposure to a deadly virus.
Thanks to circumstances and a lawsuit on the part of nurses, hospital training in dealing with infectious diseases is being beefed up. Standards are being elevated.
The general public has been made more aware that the problems of a continent a world away can become our problems with the flight of a single person on a commercial airliner.
Hopefully our elected leaders have learned to get their facts straight before they speak, and that the way to avoid panic is to level with the public, not to pat them condescendingly on the head and say, “Don’t worry, everything’s all right, we have this under control.”
Americans, bless their hearts, aren’t much good at being proactive. We haven’t been prepared for a viral outbreak whether it’s ebola or “just” the flu (which kills about 30,000 Americans yearly) or something new, and we haven’t had procedures in place to keep foreign outbreaks off our shores. We’re better prepared now, thanks to the ebola panic.
We remain stubbornly complacent about global climate change and the lopsided distribution of wealth in America and the gerrymandering of Congressional districts and many other issues that we should be deeply concerned about. But thanks to “unreasonable” panic, we’re no longer complacent about ebola and other potential viral outbreaks.
For that I’m grateful.