Herd immunity.

One of Bridge’s content partners published a package on vaccination rates in Michigan last week. They are atrocious, in part because the state has one of the nation’s most lenient opt-out policies in the country. You don’t have to prove a religious or medical exemption, only philosophical. It’s as easy as signing a piece of paper, and many parents do.

What’s really surprising is where it’s happening. The more affluent the community, the more likely it is to have a higher-than-necessary opt-out for herd immunity to apply. Grosse Pointe is around 10 percent, similar communities ditto, but the jaw-dropper was Cranbrook. You political junkies may recall that’s where young Mitt Romney was educated. Nearly one-quarter of its kindergarteners are not fully vaccinated when they start school.

To be sure, the rate improves by sixth grade, suggesting many parents are following a more strung-out vaccine schedule, but still.

So it was on my mind when I read a story about a mumps outbreak in the National Hockey League, and reflected: This isn’t going to help.

Most of these players were vaccinated as children, but vaccines lose effectiveness over time:

A more complete explanation of hockey’s mumps conundrum involves something called waning immunity. Put simply, the vaccine loses strength over time. We know this because of some fascinating observational studies from the last major mumps outbreak.

In 2006, thousands of college kids in the Midwest became infected with mumps, despite the fact that most had received the vaccine. This phenomenon is called vaccine failure, and scientists divide it into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary vaccine failure occurs when the body doesn’t produce antibodies in response to the initial immunization, but this is relatively rare with the mumps vaccine. Secondary failure occurs when the body fails to maintain an adequate level of antibodies, despite having an initially strong response to the immunization. This is what we’re seeing in the NHL.

Back in 2006, researchers found that college students who came down with mumps had been immunized more than ten years earlier than roommates who didn’t contract the disease. A subsequent study confirmed this, revealing that protective antibodies were much lower in students who’d been vaccinated fifteen years earlier compared to students who’d been vaccinated just five years earlier. The takeaway here is that the mumps vaccine works, we just don’t know how long it works.

The anti-vaxxers will seize this information and use it to bolster their argument that vaccines don’t work, because see? Me, I’ll just take this as one more piece of evidence that no one trusts anyone anymore, and why would you? Ten years ago, I never would have believed my own government would set up shadowy offshore prisons where inmates were strung up and subjected to Black Sabbath music for days at a time. The sadder but wiser girl is me.

In other news at this hour, a member of the Michigan legislature slipped a bill into the lame-duck session to repeal the state’s no-fault divorce law. It won’t go anywhere, but as I expected, yes, it’s part of a national strategy:

In cooperation with the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage, socially conservative politicians have been quietly trying to make it harder for couples to get divorced. In recent years, lawmakers in more than a dozen states have introduced bills imposing longer waiting periods before a divorce is granted, mandating counseling courses or limiting the reasonsa couple can formally split. States such as Arizona, Louisiana and Utah have already passed such laws, while others such as Oklahoma and Alabama are moving to do so.

The Michigan bill follows the template outlined in the story: No-fault is still available if you don’t have children, but if you do, the grounds are adultery, felony conviction, abandonment, etc. This, social conservatives believe, will help keep couples together, because no-fault divorce is “too easy.”

It so happens I know a number of people who’ve been through the no-fault divorce process, and even the amicable ones were hardly easy. The less-amicable ones were hell, and I can only imagine what they’d be like if one party was legally entitled to dig in his or her heels. When I see things like this, I wonder how many of these social conservatives are really divorce lawyers.

OK, gotta skedaddle. Happy Tuesday, all.

Posted at 8:33 am in Current events |

62 responses to “Herd immunity.”

  1. brian stouder said on December 16, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Aye yi yi.

    So (for example) requiring an employer who provides health insurance to meet minimum requirements (such as not allowing the employer to pick and choose which prescription drugs they’ll cover) is ‘government over-reach’; and desegregating schools is ‘social engineering’; and seatbelt laws are an example of ‘the nanny state’…..

    but forcing people who no longer want to be legally united to REMAIN legally united – unless and until they ever convince the guh-mint that they well and truly and sincerely don’t want to be legally united….why, that’s GOOD GOVERNMENT!!!

    On a different tack, Rachel Maddow had an interesting lead-story last night about a civil suit brought by the Sandy Hook parents and survivors, against Bushmaster.

    With any luck, lightening will strike and the bloody money-grubbers will take a legal hit, right where it hurts (them) the most (in their wallets)

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  2. Jeff Borden said on December 16, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Brian beat me to it. These are the same people who shriek and scream about government intrusion when it seeks to limit the poisons in our water and the filth in our air, but it’s perfectly fine for the state to intrude deeply into the most personal of choices and decisions.

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  3. adrianne said on December 16, 2014 at 9:52 am

    The anti-vaxxers are infuriating and generally fall into two camps: the obsessive health nuts, usually well off, who don’t want to introduce anything “foreign” into their precious loved ones, and the religious nuts. Of course, what they’re doing is weakening the health of everyone. Your “right” not to vaccinate stops at my child’s public schoolhouse door.

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  4. brian stouder said on December 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Adrianne – hear, hear!!

    So of course, the “answer” there is – vouchers!!

    Then, I can send my kid to a publically funded school that will do whatever the hell it wants, and “the public” has no say in anything. (unless you’re an officer of the for-profit organization [or a deacon of the church] that operates the thing)

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  5. Minnie said on December 16, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Ah, the good old days of no such thing as an uncontested divorce. You had to commit perjury and find witnesses willing to do the same. It helped if you waited out a year of separation before going to trial.

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  6. LAMary said on December 16, 2014 at 10:13 am

    My nice little neighborhood is a hotspot of anti vaccination people. Don’t get me started. I would think that pointing out it’s an idea put out there by Jenny McCarthy would be enough to make people think twice. And
    And divorce is so much fun in any form, having a bunch of fundy family first times get involved would make it only nicer.

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  7. Bitter Scribe said on December 16, 2014 at 10:17 am

    I have to hand it to the social conservatives who want to make divorce harder. At least they’re walking the talk. Every time I hear them bloviate about how same-sex marriage violates “the sanctity of marriage,” I have to wonder, What sanctity?

    Of course, they’re spectacularly wrongheaded (as usual) and will do nothing but pointlessly increase the suffering of people who are already hurting (as usual). But give them points for consistency.

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  8. coozledad said on December 16, 2014 at 10:41 am

    The prosecutor in the Darren Wilson case needs to be indicted. Misconduct on this scale should mandate life imprisonment:

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  9. brian stouder said on December 16, 2014 at 10:45 am

    The Catholics have it right, on this one.

    If the church is going to conduct a meaningful marriage ceremony, they reserve the right to decide whether a previous marriage is really “over” or still a live issue.

    Doesn’t stop anyone from getting married (in the legal sense) – and protects the church’s prerogatives.

    I think the Republigoon party has a growing man-crush on ISIL

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  10. brian stouder said on December 16, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Cooz – they’ll indict the prosecutor right after Shit-for-brains-Sean Hannity apologizes for lying and propagandizing about Michael Brown’s death, and Trayvon Martin’s death, and the looney rancher’s gun-nut acolytes

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  11. Charlotte said on December 16, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Ah yes. “Traditional” marriage. Of the sort that led my grandmother to say every time someone got engaged: “I don’t know why any of you girls would get married now that you don’t have to.”
    She had to get married, pregnant. He turned out to be a drunk. There was no birth control so she wound up with two more kids than she wanted, and she wasn’t very nice to any of them. Traditional marriage. Three generations later we’re still dealing with the fallout.

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  12. alex said on December 16, 2014 at 11:46 am

    If the church is going to conduct a meaningful marriage ceremony, they reserve the right to decide whether a previous marriage is really “over” or still a live issue.

    So they decide it’s really over for the man, still a live issue for the woman. That’s how it has always worked.

    The GOP holds itself up as the “party of freedom” while attempting to intrude upon the most personal aspects of our lives. The Republican definition of freedom means the right to swagger around and threaten others with firearms. But that’s about it, and then only if you’re white.

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  13. Julie Robinson said on December 16, 2014 at 11:56 am

    And the husband regularly beating the wife so that she fears for her life isn’t enough evidence to suggest the marriage really is over. And so the faithful leave, move in with someone else, maybe even have a child, and have nothing but guilt. Can’t go for that model.

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  14. Jolene said on December 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Interesting link, cooz. I wonder if that analysis will play any role in the DOJ civil right investigation.

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  15. Jolene said on December 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Re vaccinations, you all heard that Angelina Jolie has chicken pox, right? She had to miss the premiere of her new movie. Seems like the sort of indignity one of the world’s most beautiful women would be spared.

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  16. paddyo' said on December 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Brian @1, seeing your mention of Bushmaster reminds me of a seasonal chestnut that made my jaw drop the first time I saw it — but there it is again, a little Xmas cheer from the firearms-industrial complex: the 12 Days of ArmaLite, just the thing for your last-minute shoot–, uhh, I mean shopping needs.
    Here’s a little carol to go with it, by those ’70s post-punk elves from Leeds, Gang of Four …

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  17. Sherri said on December 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Maybe the state should get out of the marriage business entirely. Civil unions for everybody! If your religion/tradition of choice requires marriage, knock yourself out.

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  18. brian stouder said on December 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    paddyo’ – wow!

    Forget ‘five golden rings’ or ‘three French hens’ – we gotta have…. “M-15 uppers”??

    December 10: handguards and magazines
    December 11: AR10A4 upper receiver (stripped), AR10T upper (black), magazines
    December 12: barrel assemblies
    December 15: upper assemblies
    December 16: bravo B5 stocks, 20″ stainless steel Wylde barrel tubes
    December 17: M-15 uppers
    December 18: lower receiver parts kits
    December 19: sights and sight assemblies
    December 22: replacement kits
    December 23: gas blocks
    December 26: pistol grip kits and free-floating handguards
    December 29: Surprise!! We can’t unwrap all the gifts at once.

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  19. Charlotte said on December 16, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Sherri — I’m with you. Civil marriage happens at the courthouse. Religious marriage happens in a church.

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  20. Jolene said on December 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Have recently come across two articles recommending great podcasts, I know some of you are audiobook lovers, so you may enjoy these as a diversion. Good listening while you are baking and wrapping presents or a good way to retreat from annoying relatives.

    Here is Slate’s list of 25 best ever podcasts:

    The second one isn’t a list, but an article that talks about the pleasure of listening to smart people talk, focusing, in particular, on a set of lectures given by Atul Gawande. The article contains a link to the BBC web site, where the recordings of the lectures reside.

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  21. Judybusy said on December 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Jolene, thanks for the links! For some reason, my lowly iPod Shuffle stopped being able to accept audiobooks from my library, and I’ve begun listening to podcasts. Some of my favorites are Planet Money from NPR.

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  22. Peter said on December 16, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Jolene, I think I Angelina “got” chicken pox the same time that the hacked e-mails came out….

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  23. Sherri said on December 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I’m in the middle of listening to the Gawande lectures, and enjoying them very much.

    My current favorite podcasts include BackStory, 99% Invisible, Life of the Law, and Slate’s Amicus with Dahlia Lithwick. I’ll also put in a plug for my favorite podcasting app for managing my podcasts, Overcast. Maybe the Apple podcast app has gotten better, but it was so buggy and unstable when it first came out that I couldn’t stand it and started looking around, and finally settled on Overcast.

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  24. David C. said on December 16, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Maybe Planet Money is better than it was. I stopped listening to it when they went full on dudebro neoliberal. That and Chana Joffe Walt’s clueless disability story. “I’ve got a bad back too”. Oh yeah, and I bet nobody is expecting you to lift 50 lbs. over and over all day either. My favorite podcasts are WTF with Marc Maron and Judge John Hodgman.

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  25. Sherri said on December 16, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I stopped with Planet Money, too. That said, the early episodes of Planet Money were amazing. I’ve started occasionally listening to the Slate Money podcast, mostly because Cathy O’Neil of mathbabe.org is on it regularly, but I find Felix Salmon’s voice really annoying.

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  26. LAMary said on December 16, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I found one of the women on Planet Money had an incredibly annoying voice. Zoe maybe? I forget. I stopped listening. On an more intriguiging note, I’m hiring someone named Dave Navarro and someone named Adam Levine today. I have my doubts about them being cute or heavily tattooed, but I’ll let you know.

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  27. Jolene said on December 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Jolene, I think I Angelina “got” chicken pox the same time that the hacked e-mails came out….

    I know that she made at least one public appearance after those emails came out. Seems improbable that she would miss the premiere of a film she is so closely identified with and that she spent a couple of years or more working on because somebody said something unkind about her. Seems likely that’s happened before. I’m sure she wants to do everything she can to make it a success, including showing up looking glamorous, the better to generate next-day news stories. But maybe you were joking.

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  28. Sue said on December 16, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Julie @ 13, here is what my now-retired state rep had to say about how to deal with an abusive spouse (hint – don’t divorce him of course):
    ‘”If they can refind those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help,” said Representative Don Pridemore.’
    He is ideological besties with state Senator Glenn Grothman, who is now a US representative. That comment came out when he was defending himself from some flak as co-sponsor of the ‘single parenthood = child abuse’ bill.
    Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the next targets of these people are women’s shelters.

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  29. basset said on December 16, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Don’t do podcasts much but the NPR One app was pretty useless… first time I used it it jumped to a totally different story and wouldn’t let me find the original. No menu, no synopsis of what the story’s about before you listen to it, delete, delete.

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  30. Jolene said on December 16, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Feeling a little too cheery? This Werner Herzog Tumblr will remind you that we are doomed.


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  31. Suzanne said on December 17, 2014 at 8:06 am

    LAMary-Zoe Chase on Planet Money. I have trouble listening to her, too. Her voice is just so annoying, which is a bad thing in radio. She might be very hard working and smart, but that voice. Ugh.

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  32. coozledad said on December 17, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Fleece-footed Republican tub of slow cured feces Blake Farenthold says Baby wants to fuck!, and now Dennis Hopper is just a piker.

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  33. brian stouder said on December 17, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Cooz – Rachel Maddow had great fun with that guy’s ‘blow-me’ domain name.

    Honest to Goodness, the fellow is a walking caricature of the 2014 Republigoon party, right down to his clueless gap-toothed grin

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  34. Connie said on December 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Hey Brian, here’s a Lincoln related volunteer project: The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, has a new project that asks the public to help transcribe 30,000 pages of documents written during the Civil War. Library officials said December 11 that they’ve set up a website where volunteers can log in and see the papers of Richard Yates Sr., governor of Illinois during the Civil War. Visitors can set up an account, read a document, and type the text into a box at the bottom on the webpage. When they’re finished the document is saved and put in a file for other volunteers to review…. http://alplm-cdi.com/chroniclingillinois/scripto

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  35. brian stouder said on December 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Sounds very cool, indeed; I’ll check it out.

    But I betcha it will be akin to reading Egyptian graffiti, with those blasted dippy-pens that they used back in the day.

    I will always revere the two older fellows at Douglas Wilson & Rodney Davis at Knox College at Galesburg, IL (Sandburg’s town) – who spent years (and years) transcribing all of Herndon’s collected scraps and testimonials from everyone he could find.


    It’s my #1 favorite book about Lincoln, and one of the very few I’ve read multiple times

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  36. Heather said on December 17, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I can’t stand listening to Starlee Kine on This American Life because of her voice.

    My contribution to the podcast suggestions: How Did This Get Made? A trio of comedic actors and one guest watch a bad movie and analyze it. I always laugh out loud at least once.

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  37. alex said on December 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    My contribution to the podcast suggestions: How Did This Get Made? A trio of comedic actors and one guest watch a bad movie and analyze it. I always laugh out loud at least once.

    Sounds like MST3K.

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  38. Kirk said on December 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Can’t wait for the Obama-haters and Gloria Estefan Fan Club to freak out about finally easing our 50-plus-year hard-on for Cuba. Reminder: Republican Dick Nixon opened the door to a billion Commie Chinese one day long ago.

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  39. Snarkworth said on December 17, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Glad to see I’m not the only one sensitive to people’s voices. Spouse calls me a “voicist”; I admit I judge people by their tone of voice, at least at the first-impression stage.

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  40. Charlotte said on December 17, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I have trouble with most of the female Slate podcast voices — which makes me feel like I’m betraying the sisterhood, because I generally like their content. But a few have a really grating register, while the younger women seem to have that vocal fry thing going on that I Just Can’t Listen to. And while I agree with this piece politically, it seems that if you’re working in an aural medium, you need to pay attention to your voice: http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2014/12/16/uptalk_is_okay_young_women_shouldn_t_have_to_talk_like_men_to_be_taken_seriously.html

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  41. brian stouder said on December 17, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Kirk – indeed, and if not for that, Mitt Romney wouldn’t have been so gob-smacked by all the marvelous stuff he saw in China, where business can be run like a prison-camp (not to give prison camps a bad name) and lead him to the infamous ‘47%’ video tuxedo speech

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  42. MichaelG said on December 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Kirk, I’ve already heard Marco Rubio hyper-ventilating on the radio. All the old dead enders in South Florida are going to have heart stoppages. And of course all the Republicans and especially the teabaggers will go apeshit.

    Meanwhile, all the resort and hotel operations will be salivating. I expect the tourist boom to start within minutes.

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  43. Jolene said on December 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Those of you who, like me, are Letterman fans will enjoy this video mashup of Darlene Love’s Christmas appearances on Dave’s show. She’ll be performing for the last time on Friday.


    Also, if you haven’t seen it before, consider watching 20 Feet from Stardom, the Oscar-winning documentary re the role of backup singers, mainly in R&B and rock music. It’s a pleasure to watch. Lots of great music, great interviews, and a fascinating look at the sociology of the music industry, plus, for most of us, a reminder that we were once much younger. Darlene Love is a central figure in the film, but many other performers appear as well.

    Finally, Dave fans may enjoy following @ByeLetterman on Twitter. Whoever set up the account is curating clips from the 30+ years of the show, reposting some of the best material from the show as well as drawing together series of clips from guests who’ve appeared frequently over the years.

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  44. LAMary said on December 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    The podcasts of On Being, which is an NPR program, are good. I consider myself an atheist but I enjoy them. There was a really good one about a woman who translates Rilke a few weeks ago.

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  45. Kath said on December 17, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I wear headphones all day long at work and like to listen to spoken word recordings, rather than music, because it tends to block out the sound of my co-workers who are on the telephone all day. I listened to a lot of podcasts, but found those from non-professional broadcasters to be grating. Now, I mostly listen to audiobooks, especially those narrated by older British women. They are at a register that blocks out my neighbors, and there’s just something about the British accent that’s very soothing. I recommend Wanda McCaddon. Her readings of Barbara Tuchman’s books and classic English novels are great.

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  46. brian stouder said on December 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I’d visit Cuba; it would be interesting to see San Juan Hill and Havana Harbor (I know the USS Maine isn’t there anymore, but still)…and those casinos from early Godfather days

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  47. brian stouder said on December 17, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Jolene – I love the David Letterman/Pearl Jam visits.

    Always good stuff

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  48. Dexter said on December 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    This is one historic day, my gawd, I was wondering if Cuba would be dealt with in this administration’s time. I no longer receive The Nation or The Progressive magazines so I was not aware of the goings-on. I don’t give a damn what the old-school haters in Miami think, this is good, I applaud Obama for getting it started.

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  49. Heather said on December 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Alex–similar concept, but they’re not watching the movie and commenting on it simultaneously. Actually I haven’t even seen most of the movies they discuss and it’s still hilarious.

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  50. Sherri said on December 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I second the recommendation of On Being. Other podcasts I’ve started listening to are You Are Not So Smart, which explores topics related to cognitive bias, and Gastropod, which is about food through the lens of science and history.

    In the audiobook category, I’ve been enjoying As You Wish, by Carey Elwes (and read by Carey Elwes, with help from numerous others) about the making of The Princess Bride.

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  51. Sue said on December 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Re voices: this lady’s whispering voice is supposed to be therapeutic and super fabulous.
    All it does for me – along with all the hand fluttering and very weird ‘pretend I’m really doing this to you’ extra stuff – is creep me out.
    Apparently she’s all the rage right now.

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  52. brian stouder said on December 17, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Sue, I bet the whispered “pretend I’m really doing this to you” would be right up the alley of the gap-toothed Republigoon member(!) of congress in Cooz’s post at #32 above

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  53. David C. said on December 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    If you like John Oliver’s HBO show you might like “The Bugle” podcast. It’s Oliver and another British comedian, Andy Zaltzman going over the week’s news and trying to make each other laugh.

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  54. Suzanne said on December 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I third the recommendation of On Being. Thought provoking, intelligent, and enlightening. It’s my go-to walking podcast. Which means this time of year, I don’t listen as much since it’s too dang cold to go out and walk.

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  55. LAMary said on December 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Two random things: I just spoke to my brother who lives on the far northeast end of Long Island. He’s got a charter fishing boat and he and his sons and grandson all love fishing. The grandson graduated a few years ago from SUNY Maritime and most of the time he’s out on some huge ship, but when he’s back in Long Island he’s either fishing or clamming or some other seafood gathering activity. He had a long term girlfriend and I used to see her comments on his posts in facebook all the time. A little clingy and needy sounding for someone who chooses a merchant marine for a boyfriend. Anyway, she seems to be out of the picture now. No facebook comments for a while, so I asked my brother if they had broken up. He said they had. My nephew had some money to spend and he had to decide between buying a ring or buying two scallop dredges someone was selling. He chose the scallop dredges. That seems like a pretty clear statement to me.

    And speaking of chowder. If you bring your lunch to work and you’re a Costco shopper, I highly recommend this corn chowder they have. It comes in little boxes slightly larger than a juice box and it has poblano and chipotle chilis in it. If you don’t have good leftovers and you’re sick of sandwiches, this stuff is great. It’s gluten free and vegetarian an all that too.

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  56. Kirk said on December 17, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Yeah, just saw Rubio saying we can’t normalize with Cuba until it’s “normal — a democracy.” Guess we’ll be recalling our ambassadors from China, Saudi Arabia and a few other posts pretty soon.

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  57. Deborah said on December 17, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks Jolene, for that Slate link to the podcasts, I’ve been listening to them, the cheerier ones anyway. I’m using it as therapy to get over the cat. It’s so dark now too, so extra depressing.

    Suzanne, I think you posted a link to On Being a couple of months ago about how terrorist come to be terrorists, which I found excellent, I need to remember that site and listen more.

    Tomorrow is the final Serial show of the season, I’m super curious about how Sarah Koenig is going to end this. The funny thing is how “Mail Kimp” went viral. I’ve known about Mail Chimp for quite awhile, and have watched a couple of video lectures by the guy who started it.

    Heather, for some reason I really like Starlee Kine’s quirky voice. I’m a huge This American Life fan, I like them all.

    And Charlotte, I’m with you on the vocal fry thing, that really bugs me too.

    Also, I was so wrapped up in my cat that I don’t think I congratulated Kirk on his upcoming retirement. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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  58. Deborah said on December 17, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I forgot to mention that one of my favorite people in the world, Carlos, who is the overall Design Director for the company I worked for, was born in Cuba. His father died when he was 3 years old and his mother took her two children out of the country, they couldn’t take much of anything with them. First they went to Miami, but then his mother moved them to Puerto Rico because she found that Miami was extremely discriminatory towards the Cubans, which it was. Anyway Carlos is ecstatic about the easing of the situation between the US and Cuba. He’s been to visit a couple of times and always came back with the greatest stories. I have always wanted to go to Cuba, having grown up in Miami, we weren’t that far away but it was always someplace I thought I’d never get to see. I read a couple of really good books about Cuba and Cubans by Ana Menendez, the one I remember most fondly was “In Cuba I was a German Shepard”. An excellent and funny book.

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  59. Heather said on December 17, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    My cousin’s wife is Cuban and they are off on a trip there on New Year’s, bringing my 80-year-old uncle with them. They’ve been there many times, but it’s my uncle’s first trip. He loves Cuban cigars so I’m sure he’ll be happy.

    David C., I have a crush on John Oliver so I am going to check out that podcast! I have a thing for funny nerdy British guys, apparently.

    I read somewhere that one of the potential side effects of mumps for adult males is sterility. That’s one good reason to get the vaccine. On the other hand, could be built-in birth control for some of those guys.

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  60. brian stouder said on December 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    LAMary – I bet all your brother’s buddies are reminding him that there’s lots of other fish in the sea(so to speak)

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  61. Jolene said on December 17, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I’m glad to hear about the John Oliver podcast too. I’m a big fan.

    So much media to take in! Books, articles, movies, podcasts, music. I may have to give up on the news, though I do think the opening to Cuba is exciting. Those who are castigating Obama are, as they say, on the wrong side of history.

    As Kirk said, we have diplomatic, cultural, and commercial relations with lots of countries that are not paragons of democracy and human rights. I foresee a vast increase in Caribbean vacations.

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  62. Jolene said on December 17, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    If you are looking for an app that brings together, consider Pocket Casts. Provides links to pretty much all the podcasts discussed above.

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