Congratulations, Unidentified Texas Man! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Chalk this one up to thinning the herd:

A Corpus Christi, Tex. man accidentally shot and killed his 16-year-old brother Sunday night, police told South Texas TV station Kiii News.

Investigators said that the 24-year-old man was removing his gun from its holster, and the gun accidentally discharged. The 16-year-old was shot in the chest.

Police said that the man kept his gun nearby while watching the TV show “The Walking Dead.”

Yeah, we watch “The Walking Dead” too and it’s pretty scary, but I never felt like I needed a gun nearby.

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Filed under gun control

Republicans, Make Up Your Damn Minds, Already

Proving yet again that there is literally nothing President Obama can do to please Republicans, Sen. Lamar Alexander is not happy with President Obama’s pick for “Ebola Czar.” (Keep in mind, the hissy fits/impeachment threats conservatives had over Obama’s so-called “Czars” in the first place make their current call for an Ebola Czar especially hypocritical):

“I had in mind a cabinet-level official with the skills of a four-star general or admiral who had a broad public health background and would be accountable to Congress. That kind of action would give Americans confidence about our government’s response to Ebola.”

Hmm … someone like, maybe, the Surgeon General we don’t have because the Republicans are too scared of the gun lobby to approve Dr. Vivek H. Murthy?

Honestly, I truly believe that President Obama could personally develop a cure for Ebola, cancer, and stupidity all in one tasty, affordable treat — but the GOP would complain that it’s gluten-free.

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Filed under healthcare, Republican Party, Sen. Lamar Alexander

Who You Gonna Call, America?

Healthcare professionals nearly universally agree that implementing a travel ban for Ebola-affected countries in West Africa is not just a bad idea, it’s a bad idea that will backfire.

Republicans, the same people who have weird notions about the earth’s climate, have bizarre ideas about how the female body works, believe in fringe conspiracy theories like Agenda 21, and other jaw-droppingly stupid things, disagree.

So, who are you going to listen to, America? When it comes to public health and public safety, are you going to listen to the healthcare experts, or are you going to listen to the crazy people who think there are aborted fetuses in your can of Coca-Cola?

I despair for this country sometimes. I really do.

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Good News Friday

Some good news for the weekend. Enjoy!

• The British parliament voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine alongside Israel.

• Michael Dunn was sentenced to life in prison for the first degree murder of a Florida teenager over loud music.

• Lockheed Martin says it has made a major breakthrough in fusion technology.

• I love this story: A parrot with a British accent disappeared for four years, then returned home fluent in Spanish and asking for a guy named Larry. Hilarious.

• The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Texas from shutting down its abortion clinics.

• A N.C. judge upheld a ban on concealed firearms at the North Carolina State Fair.

• A new report from the Vatican says the church should welcome gays and lesbians.

• Queens, New York is poised to get a super-cool greenway project. We’ve been to the High Line in Manhattan and it’s absolutely incredible.

• Harvard scientists say a cure for Type 1 diabetes is imminent.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

Nashville is hosting the 2016 NHL All-Star Game! WOOT! Wonder how much seats on the glass will cost?

• The “Vote No On 1″ side of the constitutional amendment that would give the Tennessee state legislature (as in, scary government) more power over abortion in Tennessee has outraised the pro-Yes On One side this quarter.

I’ve been deeply amused to see several of my known Tea Party-supporting, big-government-hating neighbors sporting “Yes on 1″ signs in their yards. Proving once again how phony their ideology is. Don’t they just love big government when Republicans are in charge! But guess what, folks: the Tennessee legislature will turn left some day. Pendulums swing, ‘cuz that’s what they do. And your handing the abortion issue over to the legislature now will come back to bite y’all on your butts when that inevitable day comes. Idiots.

This week’s cool video: Putting the goober in “gubernatorial debate,” this week Florida Gov. Rick Scott had a huge hissy fit over a battery-operated fan under Charlie Crist’s podium and ended up looking like a ginormous fool:

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Congratulations, Unidentified AL Man! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Alabama concealed-carry holder accidentally shoots himself in the leg while at the Sonic drive-thru:

A man was transported to the hospital after his gun accidently fired in the Sonic drive-thru and wounded him Tuesday night.

According to officials, Alexander City Police and Fire departments responded to a call at 8:52 p.m. Tuesday about a gunshot at Sonic, located at 174 Broad Street.

A 22-year-old white male, whose identity is being withheld, was wounded when his pistol fired accidently.

“He was in a car there in the drive-thru, and he was moving the pistol from the side door pocket to the glove box, and it went off and accidently shot him in the thigh,” said Capt. Tommy Lovett with the Alexander City Police Department.

Lovett said the man was then transported to the hospital before being sent to Birmingham for surgery.

“He was transported to Russell Medical Center, and they went ahead and sent him to UAB for surgery on his thigh,” Lovett said.

Lovett added there will be no charges filed in the incident.

“He had a permit (for the weapon). It was just an accident,” Lovett said.

Gunfail. Guns-in-cars fail. Guns in (sorta) restaurants fail. Trifecta.

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Filed under gun control

Flubola

Interesting piece in The New Yorker about our relatively sanguine response to the flu, which kills thousands, vs ebola, which has sickened three people:

[...] As we know, the flu can be deadly—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average annual death toll from influenza between 1976 and 2007 was more than twenty-three thousand. And unlike Ebola and EV-D68, for which there are no vaccines or real treatments, flu can almost always be prevented, or at least mitigated, if you get a flu shot. Stoking public concern about the flu could actually do some good, by encouraging people to get vaccinated. Instead, the media cover EV-D68 and Ebola as if they’re massive threats to our well-being even though they likely aren’t, and even though the average person can do little to prevent them anyway.

[...]

At work here is the curiously divergent and inconsistent way most of us think about risk. As a myriad of studies have shown, we tend to underestimate the risk of common perils and overestimate the risk of novel events. We fret about dying in a terrorist attack or a plane crash, but don’t spend much time worrying about dying in a car accident. We pay more attention to the danger of Ebola than to the far more relevant danger of flu, or of obesity or heart disease. It’s as if, in certain circumstances, the more frequently something kills, the less anxiety-producing we find it. We know that more than thirty thousand people are going to die on our roads this year, and we’ve accommodated ourselves to this number because it’s about the same every year. Control, too, matters: most of us think that whether we’re killed in a car accident or die of heart disease is under our control (as, to some degree, it is). As a result, we fear such outcomes less than those that can strike us out of the blue.

These attitudes toward risk are irrational, but they’re also understandable. The real problem is that irrational fears often shape public behavior and public policy. They lead us to over-invest in theatre (such as airport screenings for Ebola) and to neglect simple solutions (such as getting a flu shot). If Americans learned that we were facing the outbreak of a new disease that was going to do what the flu will do in the next few months, the press would be banging the drums about vaccination. Instead, it’s yesterday’s news.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the response spectrum, comes this disturbing news:

The Dallas hospital that treated Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan didn’t have appropriate protective gear and reportedly left him in a room with other patients for “several hours” before ultimately putting him in isolation, exposing at least 76 people.

Yesterday, Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden acknowledged that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital workers weren’t provided full-body biohazard suits until three days after Duncan was admitted (they now reportedly have 12).

According to National Nurses United—speaking on behalf of the Dallas nurses—the hospital had no protocols in place to handle the virus. Nurses involved in treating Duncan say he was left in a public area and a nurse supervisor “faced resistance from other hospital authorities,” when she requested he be placed in isolation.

It looks like the very last people who should be in a panic about ebola are the ones in full freak-out mode, while the front-line folks who should be the most engaged are saying, “meh, whatevs.” Seriously? You had one job, Texas. If this is how they deal with ebola, I’d hate to think how they handle something like influenza. I have to wonder why a CDC team wasn’t immediately deployed to that Dallas hospital and basically took it over the moment Duncan was admitted. I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons, including budget limitations and administrative limitations.

But you know, remember when Texas was all “we wanna secede,” and “that Tenth Amendment rawks” and “hey self-deport, you diseased illegal immigrants” and stuff? Yeah, that’s some world-class irony right there. Again: you had one job, Texas.

I was going to get my flu shot last weekend but, believe it or not, I was too sick to go. Some kind of sinus infection-y thing going around. As far as I know, I’ve already contracted the flu. But I’m better now and am getting a flu shot this weekend.

Get your flu shots, especially if you live in Texas. At the very least, it will keep you out of the hospitals that are apparently operated by incompetents who don’t know how to implement known common-sense protocols to contain a rare infectious disease.

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Filed under healthcare

No, Random Mt. Juliet TN Woman, You Do Not Have Ebola

[UPDATE AD NAUSEUM]:

Let the games begin:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An American Airlines flight from Dallas was quarantined in Nashville after medical scare. Health officials said there was no risk for Ebola.

[...]

The Metro Public Health Department said the passenger with the medical issue had no history of contact with anyone with Ebola in Dallas and had no travel history to Africa. Officials added there was no concern the passenger had Ebola and there was no risk to other passengers on the plane.

This was the second Ebola scare in the mid-state in the last 48 hours. First responders in Hazmat suits quarantined a Mt. Juliet gas station late Saturday night.

————————————-

Oh fer crissakes. With the arrival of cold and flu season, expect to see more stories like this one:

MT. JULIET, Tenn. – A Mt. Juliet gas station was closed for several hours after a woman called emergency dispatchers with what they described as Ebola-like symptoms.

Wilson County officials said the woman was complaining of chest pains just after midnight Sunday. After dispatchers began questioning the woman for additional information, they determined she could have symptoms of the Ebola virus.

EMTs responded to the Mapco gas station at the intersection of Lebanon Road and Mt. Juliet Road wearing full protective gear. The gas station was closed while crews worked.

The woman was transported to TriStar Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, were medical crews had already been alerted to the possible Ebloa threat. Nurses met the patient at the front door wearing masks, gloves and protective masks.

After evaluating the woman, the situation was “cleared,” according to officials. No Ebloa protocol was activated.

A spokesperson for Summit Medical Center said doctors have cleared the woman, and she does not have the Ebola virus. No threat remained at the hospital.

Here’s a quick meme to determine if you might have ebola:

ebola-quiz-you-dont-have-ebola

There is a rampant, overriding, highly politicized culture of fear in America. It’s been with us for about the past 30 years, maybe more. It used to thrive on the fringes of American society, where people afraid of the coming zombie apocalypse would stockpile their canned goods, guns and ammo. Hell, I remember in the mid-70s my mom kept a stash of canned food and 50-gallon bottles of water in our garage “for the revolution,” and we were not a nutso survivalist family.

But since 9/11 this culture of fear has been mainstreamed. It’s been aided and abetted by talk radio — mostly right-wing radio, but I’ve heard my share of fear porn on left-wing radio, too. The news media has fear as its default position (Missing white women! Shark attacks! Immigrants! Terrorism!) and political entities exploit it for profit.

I have this theory that fear sells so easily here because we are such a prosperous country. People who have a lot, have a lot to lose, and thus tend to be more fearful. Fear is an easy sell, but it’s also incredibly damaging. It’s turning America into a ridiculous parody of modern civilization.

When I read stuff about random people thinking they have Ebola all I can do is laugh at them.

[UPDATE]: And another one, in Birmingham, Alabama. This one was at an airport so the “abundance of caution” makes slightly more sense.

[UPDATE] 2:

The only thing more depressing than this story are the search engine terms WordPress tells me has brought folks here today: “ebola scare in mt. juliet, tennessee,: “mt juliet ebola,” and this one: “is it true that a woman has ebola in mt juilet.” Seems like the full-court fear has begun.

I am slightly encouraged by “george zimmerman is an asshole,” however.

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Filed under fear, media, Tennessee