Patterico's Pontifications

10/1/2014

No Need to Worry About Ebola: Obama and Your Friendly Federal Government Are On The Case!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:09 pm

Obama, September 16, 2014:

First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low. We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home. We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.

A job well done:

Mai Wureh told The Associated Press that her brother, Thomas Eric Duncan, went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and was sent home with antibiotics. He returned two days later after his condition worsened and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Mark Lester confirmed Wednesday that a nurse asked Duncan on his first visit whether he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa, but that “information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team.”

Feeling reassured by your government yet? Keep reading:

Duncan, who is in his mid-40s, came in contact with 12 to 18 people after developing symptoms of the deadly disease, health officials said Wednesday during a news conference at Presbyterian.

Of those contacts, five are Dallas ISD students who attend four campuses: Tasby Middle School, Hotchkiss Elementary School, Dan D. Rogers Elementary and Conrad High School. They aren’t showing symptoms of the virus and officials are now monitoring them at home, Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Miles said.

So don’t worry. Officials are closely monitoring those 12 people. Or . . . 18 people. Or . . . you know. Whatever.

There is, by the way, a second possible case, related to the first.

As another aside, you should be aware that there is a mathemetician who developed a model to predict the severity of Ebola outbreaks — so, science is on this, and you can relax. Read more about it from this October 2012 piece. Or, conversely, read more about it from this September 2014 piece, in which the author of the study says the model is useless to predict this current outbreak (referring to the one in Africa), which is, quote, “out of all proportion and on an unprecedented scale when compared to previous outbreaks.”

I do not recommend panicking. I do recommend that residents of Dallas behave as if they do not trust experts to be omniscient. I especially recommend that they behave as if they do not necessarily trust their government to tell them the truth.

From A Gay Republican

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:22 pm

[guest post by Dana]

From a Q & A column in the Washington Post comes this question:

Dear Civilities: I’m a gay Republican, and am often confronted by my gay friends during election season. They wonder how I could be part of a political party that, in their eyes, condemns homosexuality. I’ve alienated myself from a lot of friends over this topic and it’s hurt a lot of my relationships. What’s the best way for me to explain that my conservative views on small government, low taxation and a strong national defense outweigh anything else? Also, how do I explain that gay marriage should be supported by true conservatives, and that religious fanatics don’t represent true conservatism? — Joe R. City and state withheld

Giving the benefit of the doubt that this is a real letter, it was interesting to note that right off the bat, the columnist responds with an unfortunately accurate observation:

Your friends are not the only ones who consider the phrase “gay Republican” to be a mystery, if not an oxymoron.

Then the examples of possible responses for the gay Republican letter writer to use with his gay friends are about what you’d expect: Ted Olson and his fight to overturn Prop 8, Sen. Pat Toomey and his vote for Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), 61% of young Republicans support same-sex marriage, and the human rights aspect of it (summed up in a FB post to this column: “I could never reconcile the [Republican] party’s basic disregard for human rights, and especially towards me as a gay man. That, my friend, is the common decency that ‘outweighed all others’ for me. I can’t be part of a group who cannot understand freedom for all.”). Further, it’s about presentation:

[H]ow you tell them makes all the difference. Saying your support of small government, low taxation and a strong national defense “outweighs anything else” is needlessly insensitive and combative. How could you expect them to respond civilly to such a polarizing shot across the bow? Instead, why not say first that you believe in a government that protects the rights of all people, and that we need members of both parties to support LGBT equality? Explain how you’re helping to make that change happen within the GOP. Don’t forget to remind them of instances in which Democrats have also failed LGBT people. (After all, it was Bill Clinton who signed the Defense of Marriage Act and implemented the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.)

Just briefly, a couple of things comes to mind: it’s frustrating to see the misleading manipulative dishonesty of If you don’t accept gay marriage, you don’t accept gays. Nonsense! Your thoughts?

[Editing note: I removed the last paragraph due to an incorrect reference on my part. My thanks to Kevin M. for the correction]

–Dana

Natural Cause Found for Warming Previously Thought to Be Man-Made

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

Cato:

Poof, it was gone.

Just like that, the human fingerprints on a century-long warming trend in Northwestern United States were erased and replaced instead by the telltale signs of natural variability.

That is the conclusion of new research published last week by a pair of scientists from the University of Washington. James Johnstone and Nathan Mantua published their paper titled “Atmospheric controls on northeast Pacific temperature variability and change 1900-2012” in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

So as not to be accused of putting words in their mouth, here, in full, are the contents of a box labeled “Significance” from their paper:

Northeast Pacific coastal warming since 1900 is often ascribed to anthropogenic greenhouse forcing, whereas multidecadal temperature changes are widely interpreted in the framework of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which responds to regional atmospheric dynamics. This study uses several independent data sources to demonstrate that century-long warming around the northeast Pacific margins, like multidecadal variability, can be primarily attributed to changes in atmospheric circulation. It presents a significant reinterpretation of the region’s recent climate change origins, showing that atmospheric conditions have changed substantially over the last century, that these changes are not likely related to historical anthropogenic and natural radiative forcing, and that dynamical mechanisms of interannual and multidecadal temperature variability can also apply to observed century-long trends.

Translation: Natural variability in the atmosphere/ocean dynamics of the northern Pacific Ocean rather than human-caused global warming can largely explain the century-long rise in temperature in the Pacific Northwest.

Burn the heretics.

Maybe someone can get Michael Mann to sue these guys for some frivolous theory or other.

Speaking of Mann, Mark Balien and the other folks at Baker Hostetler recently filed an excellent brief (.pdf) showing what an utter hypocrite he is. Turns out the guy who sued over being labeled a “fraud” loves to use that word, and similar over-the-top invective, to describe others:

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 7.03.01 AM

Balien is representing some of the defendants in Brett Kimberlin’s frivolous use of RICO in a vain attempt to shut up his critics. Balien has a great way of revealing the thin skins of those who would fight speech with thuggery.

Fighting Sexual Assault On Campus With Both A New Law And A New App

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:04 am

[guest post by Dana]

In an effort to stem sexual assault on college campuses, California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law the “yes means yes” sexual consent bill (SB967), described as “a policy of unambiguous, affirmative consent by students engaged in sexual activity.” State funding for financial aid to California colleges hinges upon adopting specific requirements when investigating sexual assaults:

Under criminal law, rape and sexual assault occur when one person forces another into sex despite the denial of consent, a standard commonly referred to as “no means no.” The new California standard, however, is one commonly referred to as “only yes means yes.” Under this standard, a sex act can only be presumed as consensual if both participants have explicitly consented. Even if no overt objections are raised at the time, if no explicit consent is obtained a sexual encounter may be defined as rape.

Activists claim the law is needed to protect women on campus, one in five of whom are alleged to suffer some form of sexual assault before leaving school. The new standard is also hoped to counter a public perception that an assault must be violent in nature to be considered rape.

What it says:

The legislation says silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. Under the bill, someone who is drunk, drugged, unconscious or asleep cannot grant consent.

Lawmakers say consent can be nonverbal, and universities with similar policies have outlined examples as a nod of the head or moving in closer to the person.

This won’t be problematic at all, eh? And as would be expected, the micromanaging of people’s sex lives is being questioned:

But is there a role for the government in mandating affirmative consent? It seems extremely difficult and extraordinarily intrusive to micromanage sex so closely as to tell young people what steps they must take in the privacy of their own dorm rooms. Colleges, to their credit, are struggling to clarify and strengthen their policies on sexual misconduct, and are seeking to provide better support for victims of sexual assault in the face of growing concern about the issue. But must they become so prescriptive as to try to set rules about exactly how sex should proceed? There are serious questions about whether such a policy is either reasonable or enforceable.

And just in time to help these confused young people decide whether or not they’re “good to go”, there is a new app that will walk them through the decision making. Yes. That’s right. An app intended to help protect from possible sexual assault as well as track intoxication levels and interest in sex:

Lee Ann Allman, a creator of the app, says she was inspired to make it after talking with her college-aged kids about sexual assault on campuses across the country. They “are very aware of what’s happening, and they’re worried about it, but they’re confused about what to do. They don’t know how they should be approaching somebody they’re interested in,” she told me. Meanwhile, “kids are so used to having technology that helps them with issues in their lives” that Allman believes the app will help facilitate necessary conversations, encourage them to consider their level of intoxication, and remind young people that consent to sex should be affirmatively given and can be revoked at any time.

How it works:

After deciding that you would like to have sex with someone, launch the Good2Go app (free on iTunes and Google Play), hand the phone off to your potential partner, and allow him or her to navigate the process to determine if he or she is ready and willing. “Are We Good2Go?” the first screen asks, prompting the partner to answer “No, Thanks,” “Yes, but … we need to talk,” or “I’m Good2Go.” If the partner chooses door No. 1, a black screen pops up that reads “Remember! No means No! Only Yes means Yes, BUT can be changed to NO at anytime!” If he or she opts instead to have a conversation before deciding—imagine, verbally communicating with someone with whom you may imminently engage in sexual intercourse—the app pauses to allow both parties to discuss.

If the partner—let’s assume for the purposes of this blog post, partner is a she—indicates that she is “Good2Go,” she’s sent to a second screen that asks if she is “Sober,” “Mildly Intoxicated,” “Intoxicated but Good2Go,” or “Pretty Wasted.” If she chooses “Pretty Wasted,” the app informs her that she “cannot consent” and she’s instructed to return the phone back to its owner (and presumably, not have sex under any circumstances, young lady). All other choices lead to a third screen, which asks the partner if she is an existing Good2Go user or a new one. If she’s a new user, she’s prompted to enter her phone number and a password, confirm that she is 18 years old, and press submit. (Minors are out of luck—the app is only for consenting adults.) Then, she’ll fill out a fourth prompt, which asks her to input a six-digit code that’s just been texted to her own cellphone to verify her identity with that app. (Previous users can just type in their phone number—which serves as their Good2Go username—and password.) Once that level is complete, she returns the phone to its owner, who can view a message explaining the terms of the partner’s consent. (For example, the “Partner is intoxicated but is Good2Go.”) Then, the instigator presses a button marked “Ok,” which reminds him again that yes can be changed to “NO at anytime!”

And then after all of that and if you’re not completely worn out, totally confused or just out of the mood, you can safely have sex. I think.

–Dana


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