With Christmas comes winter, and it appears to have arrived late, but today it was 15 degrees on our morning dog walk. Wore the flannel-lined pants and it was pleasant — cold mornings frequently are, as long as there’s no wind. Wendy disagreed, and was pulling for home fairly early. When we got there, she stood in front of a heat vent, turning first one way, then the other, so both sides were toasted. And yet, she refuses to learn Down. This dog.

But it looks like it’ll be a beautiful, chilly day. Maybe I’ll put her jacket on and tramp around Belle Isle or something. I cleaned the basement yesterday, and earned some fresh air.

So. Yesterday we (Bridge, that is) ran an op-ed by an MSU professor who has made vaccines an area of study. Michigan has one of the laxest refusal laws in the country, and is starting to pay the price — a measles outbreak in Traverse City shut down a school for a week last month, and pertussis is coming back here and there. I imagine most of us here are pretty pro-science and don’t have to be persuaded of the efficacy of modern medicine, but even I’m sort of amazed by how strong vaccine refusal has become in this country, and no, I don’t think it’s because of Jenny McCarthy — the woman is a twit, and simply doesn’t have the following many imagine. But there are probably thousands who believe in organic this and natural that who don’t necessarily believe the autism link, but just “feel,” somehow, that the schedule is wrong or their little baby is too sensitive, or whatever. I see the same objections popping up in social media and on comment sites: What if you have an egg allergy? (The amount of egg protein in vaccines is infinitesimal, but if you’re so worried, have them done in a hospital, and how widespread are egg allergies, anyway?) Why are there so many vaccines, anyway? We didn’t get this many when we were kids! (Because there are more diseases that can be prevented this way — good news!) What if my child has a reaction? (They may well — my daughter did. She ran a 100 degree-ish fever for a couple hours, which I treated, bad mother that I am, with Tylenol. My point being, most vaccine reactions are very mild.)

We saw “Whiplash” a few weeks ago, and there’s an extended tight closeup of a young actress during one scene. All I could see was the chickenpox scar between her eyebrows. She’s young enough she could have gotten the vaccine; I wonder if her mother was a refuser, or took her to a chickenpox party, believing the immunity bestowed by actually getting the disease is somehow better than a shot. Well, she has a lifelong reminder that she got it the old-fashioned way.

Anyway, about the op-ed piece. This was fascinating:

Research shows that vaccine noncompliance is more common among better educated parents and among parents of higher socioeconomic status. Over the last decade their numbers have been growing. Today, nearly 40 percent of parents of young children report they have refused or delayed a vaccine that their children’s physicians have recommended, and more than 12 percent have refused or delayed one of the state-mandated vaccines. In Michigan, some of the lowest vaccination rates are found in the state’s most expensive and elite private schools.

“Education” as a remedy for parents who refuse to fully vaccinate their children is based on the belief that noncompliance is the result of misinformation or simple ignorance on the part of the parents. The best research on the subject shows that the mythbusting approach to increasing vaccine compliance often backfires.

In this month’s journal Vaccine, researchers reported that about 43 percent of Americans incorrectly believe the flu vaccine can give you the flu. After educating them to correct their misunderstanding, researchers found a significant reduction in acceptance of the myth. However, paradoxically, they found that their education campaign also significantly reduced participants’ willingness to get the flu vaccine. These findings are in line with other studies that have similarly demonstrated that correcting myths about vaccines is often not an effective approach for promoting immunization.

Teach them, and they’re less likely to get the flu shot than they were before? What’s going on here?

I think it’s a combination of things. I think, as contemporary modern life has shown us over and over that institutions, whether under threat or not, will always seek to protect themselves first — sort of an immune reaction, kind of a vaccine thing — individuals are reacting accordingly. We know big pharma, like all corporations, put profits first; why shouldn’t even a sane parent believe it’s not a factor in vaccine policy? We know the Catholic church protected pedophiles for decades; why not assume every priest is a threat until proven otherwise? And the government! Hoo-boy, once you’ve internalized the belief that the president is a pretender and your senator is a crook and all that by-the-people stuff is nonsense, can they possibly have the public good in mind when it comes to health care?

It’s an overall erosion of trust in more or less everything. Unfortunately, it will have consequences at the doctor’s office. And outside it — measles is one of the most contagious diseases known to man.

One bit of bloggage, on a similar theme: The Tragedy of the American Military, a sharp essay by James Fallows. Sample:

At the end of World War II, nearly 10 percent of the entire U.S. population was on active military duty—which meant most able-bodied men of a certain age (plus the small number of women allowed to serve). Through the decade after World War II, when so many American families had at least one member in uniform, political and journalistic references were admiring but not awestruck. Most Americans were familiar enough with the military to respect it while being sharply aware of its shortcomings, as they were with the school system, their religion, and other important and fallible institutions.

Now the American military is exotic territory to most of the American public. As a comparison: A handful of Americans live on farms, but there are many more of them than serve in all branches of the military. (Well over 4 million people live on the country’s 2.1 million farms. The U.S. military has about 1.4 million people on active duty and another 850,000 in the reserves.) The other 310 million–plus Americans “honor” their stalwart farmers, but generally don’t know them. So too with the military. Many more young Americans will study abroad this year than will enlist in the military—nearly 300,000 students overseas, versus well under 200,000 new recruits. As a country, America has been at war nonstop for the past 13 years. As a public, it has not. A total of about 2.5 million Americans, roughly three-quarters of 1 percent, served in Iraq or Afghanistan at any point in the post-9/11 years, many of them more than once.

So, the sun is blazing and I’m thinking it’s time to get a few chores out of the way, then go enjoy it. Enjoy your day, too.

Posted at 9:58 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

33 responses to “Needled.”

  1. FDChief said on December 30, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Here’s the single biggest issue that jumped out at me from the Fallows piece.

    “Americans admire the military as they do no other institution. Through the past two decades, respect for the courts, the schools, the press, Congress, organized religion, Big Business, and virtually every other institution in modern life has plummeted. The one exception is the military. Confidence in the military shot up after 9/11 and has stayed very high. In a Gallup poll last summer, three-quarters of the public expressed “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the military. About one-third had comparable confidence in the medical system, and only 7 percent in Congress.”

    Don’t get me wrong. You don’t, as I did, spend more than two decades in an armed service without loving the hell out of it. Well, not if you’re a 20th and 21st Century American and have other options than those forced on you by Sergeant Winter.

    But…I also know all the fucked up and stupid things that my Army and my fellow soldiers and officers did, and do. The U.S. Army is no different than any other immense organization, and there’s always more than enough ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision to go around. You know that. You’ve worked for GigantoCorp, or dealt with MegaLocity, Inc. Throw in the immensely-fucked-up-by-its-very-nature qualities of war? You get a Perfect Storm of fucktardry.

    It’s inescapable.

    The reality is that in war people get killed and maimed and fucked-up, or get other people killed, maimed, and fucked-up, for stupid reasons, or for no reason at all. Weapons and equipment fail (they’re made by the lowest bidder, remember..?), lethal stuff goes the wrong direction. Wrong turns, bad choices, confused instructions and, above all, mind-numbingly pointless random shit that just happens.

    You try to tell normal people this and they nod solemnly like they understand. But they’re kidding themselves, and you. They have no idea, and because they have no idea they have no real understanding that every time they support some pencil-headed cracker ranting about “drawing a line in the sand” and “fighting them there” they’re inviting all this random shit out into the daylight to kill and maim and fuck-up the people they send to do this drawing and fighting.

    Anyway, that’s just the Way Things Are and I have no hope that they will change or expectation they will change, but I sure wish I thought that some sort of change was possible. But the stuff in the Fallows piece isn’t rocket science. We’ve (and by “we” I mean everyone who has enough knowledge of the reality and enough influence in the corridors of power to actually MAKE those changes) known all this for a decade and nothing has changed. So I’m very sure now that nothing will…

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  2. Deborah said on December 30, 2014 at 11:50 am

    FDChief, excellent comment. I sent my husband, a Vet, that link and he couldn’t agree more. Part of it, I think, is political correctness, if you aren’t or weren’t in the military you can’t possibly say anything bad about it because of the sacrifice some have made. Maybe that point was made in the Fallows article, I’ll have to read it over (I find myself having to reread things to really get it all, don’t know if that’s a consequence of age or the ADD of the internet). My husband had been critical of the military for decades and especially the “hero” worship of late. I keep my mouth shut most of the time because I have no idea what I’m talking about. My husband got a bronze star for keeping his head screwed on when they had incoming in Viet Nam. He said there were guys shitting their pants, literally when that happened. He isn’t particularly proud of the award because he says he didn’t do much to deserve it. He was in an engineering outfit, and was the company clerk, basically like Radar O’Reilly. Not that I wouldn’t be shitting my pants if I was being fired on.

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  3. MichaelG said on December 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I think the most important point of the Fallows piece is that Americans are no longer vested in the military or its activities. There was a draft during the Vietnam war and because of that people from your family, people from your block were roped in and exposed to the full experience. There were anti-war demonstrations that were effective because they were large and were populated by plenty of white, middle class (we still had one then) people who had influence in their communities. I know my parents marched in demonstrations while I was on my second tour in RVN. As Fallows points out, the Capitol building was full of veterans during that era.

    In the Vietnam war military units were assigned to Vietnam and replacements rotated through in-place units. This had the effect of broadening the experience, of exposing more people to the loveliness of the combat zone.

    During the last few adventures the Pentagon rotated units in and out of the zone, keeping the experience to a very few persons who ended up suffering several rotations through the war. Look at Fallows’ numbers and percentages. They clearly show that when so few people bear the brunt of service they become a separate tribe. I never thought I would say this, but we should bring back the draft. Somewhere in the last 25 years we seem to have lost the concept of the citizen soldier.

    FDChief makes the assertion that a soldier’s equipment is made by the lowest bidder. I would respectfully beg to differ and say that in many cases there are far bigger factors involved in the procurement process than a low bid. Just look at the F-35, the KC-46 and any other big ticket item. Worse and tragically, look at the history of the M-16.

    Here’s a link within within the Fallows piece concerning the M-16 and its successors:
    I can personally attest to the author’s accuracy concerning the problems with the M-16 when it first hit the ‘Nam in ’65 and ‘66. It’s interesting and informative.

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  4. Charlotte said on December 30, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Fifteen below for our dog walk this morning — I have an old North Face jacket that belonged to my late brother I wear on mornings like this — big enough it comes down to my knees. Over a down jacket and a hat and whatever else, it’s pretty nice inside my little pod. Ice crystals along the edge of the hood where I was breathing. The dog was fine — could have stayed out another hour.

    The military is one of those bait and switch things — we go all goo-gah with fake blarney “respect” and “pride” while low-balling the pay and benefits and everything else. And yet, for a lot of kids, like those in rural Montana, it’s still the best hope of getting out. The “walmart-ification” of war I call it …

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  5. Sherri said on December 30, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I think we should respect and support the troops enough not to send them to fight stupid wars that we don’t understand. I’m hard pressed to come up with an example of a war in my lifetime that was worth dying for. (And yes, that’s how I felt about Afghanistan after 9/11. We weren’t attacked by Afghanistan, we weren’t even attacked by the Taliban, and I didn’t see how attacking Afghanistan was going to make anything better.)

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  6. David C. said on December 30, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I think I’ve said here before that I lost most of the hearing in one ear to chicken pox. I always wonder how much I miss because of my hearing loss. I love music and play guitar passably well, but I play with my eyes. I have to read the music and I can’t work out a song by listening to it. My bad ear rings at A# as near as I can tell and it messes up every chord. I am fortunate though. It only is in one ear. It could have been both. When my cousin wanted to take her kids to a chicken pox party rather than getting them the damned vaccine, I wanted to kick her ass.

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  7. beb said on December 30, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Instead of bringing back the draft I think the government should be required to pre-fund the VA for all the treatment for amputation/rehabilitation and PTSD anticipated from whatever war they want to do. In order words, require government, Congress in particular to consider the cost of the war and decide whether they’re willing to raise taxes to pay for this war. Put it to them like that, most of Congress will be reluctant to start any more wars.

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  8. FDChief said on December 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    MichaelG: Just an old GI joke, man. “WTF, dude? I just got this %#$!% radio battery out of the plastic and it’s already #$%!# dead!” “Made by the lowest bidder, remember..?” “What the hell is wrong with this thing?” “Made by the lowest bidder, dude…”

    I was too young to remember the old M-16 replacing the M-14 but my platoon sergeants and first shirts were and they still hated the then-M16A1. I still remember cleaning weapons in the aid station when my old med platoon sergeant picked up one of the plastic handgrips and tossed it down with the acid comment “You can tell it’s Mattel…it’s swell…”

    I do remember actually meeting one of the engineers who designed the M792 GAMA Goar ambulances we drove, a complete disaster of a 6×6 “articulated truck” and thinking that for a nice lady she sure had sold the U.S. Army a goddamn plumber’s nightmare of a vehicle. The thing was supposed to swim (it did, sort of, but not well and nobody I knew trusted it to stay afloat for long…) and as a result the bottom was sealed except for some small drain plugs. But that meant that to, say, replace the wiring harness you had to pull the entire power pack. It was a classic example of a horse designed by a committee and has colored my perception of military “procurement” to this day.

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  9. Dexter said on December 30, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Fallows amused me as he recalled TV sitcom heroes who spoofed and ridiculed military ways, but he left out the greatest con men: Quinton McHale and his band of sailors from “McHale’s Navy”. Of course the greatest character in the entertainment realm that epitomized the purpose of rogue military scoundrels was Milo Minderbinder, a creation of Joseph Heller in “Catch 22”.
    You folks have already contributed much insight to the military situation, I could add many paragraphs but I’ll pass for now and leave you with this: if you have NETFLIX watch first “Restrepo” and then “Korengal”. You will then get a real feel for what it’s like to be deployed for 15 month stretches in Afghanistan. In recent years on cable TV stations there have been many showings of the Vietnam story of US involvement, including the story of “Hamburger Hill”, won, then abandoned days later, at the cost of many lives. The carnage suffered and administered in Vietnam was greater in numbers than what was suffered by troops in The Korengal Valley, but the psychological pressures of being either under fire or about to be under fire, constantly, was the same.

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  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 30, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    F-16A1 was still junk in the late 70’s/early 80’s, too. I’m told the M-4 carbine is much better, and worth carrying, but I’ve never fired one.

    I think Fallows is on the money, and FDChief has already tacked that down on all four corners. There is the proviso: we didn’t intend at any point to send a comparable percentage of Americans overseas to Iraq or Afghanistan that we did in World War II. And I don’t think we want to have that kind of mobilization every time there’s an event to which we respond. On the other hand, what constitutes “an event to which we respond”? That’s more the point under debate — did Saddam Hussein have to be dealt with? There’s now reason to argue we shouldn’t have, although I think we should have, but done so very differently. I have no idea what that would have looked like, and probably shouldn’t even try to make the case.

    What is somewhat buried in Fallows’ piece is his reporting of what he’s heard, and I’ve certainly heard from serving military: soldiers & marines think it’s too easy to “go to war.” And now we’re all asking if it’s too easy to go to the drones and Hellfire missiles, even if it means we can withdraw troops: nota bene – last Sunday the final redeployment of combat troops from Afghanistan took place. With as little fanfare as one can imagine. But in this country, what do we want to be the requirement for putting *any* number of troops into harm’s way? Congressional vote? Presidential executive action?

    And a place I think most of us on this blog agree is that there are interests of wealth and influence who exert powerful forces on the decisions to deploy troops, to protect profits beyond what is in the national interest. We want to believe we’re beyond the days when it could be said without irony “what’s good for General Motors is what’s good for America,” but it’s still a truism in business practice. Too many in business leadership not only still think that, they’ve also succeeded in convincing themselves that “what’s good for me is what’s good for business is what’s good for America,” or as Cooze likes to remind me, they just don’t care. I think he’s right more often than I like to admit.

    Which leaves me politically I don’t know where, but it’s why I wanly still wish for a little less power to government than more, even though I know there’s hazards on either side of the channel. And I’m not ready to call for “Fortress America” and isolationism, economic or military, but there’s precious few foreign military ventures of the last fifty years of which you could answer affirmatively “Is this trip necessary?” So I just don’t know.

    But I like Beb’s suggestion at #7 at least as a starting place. Grace and peace to y’all for the new year.

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  11. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    F-16? I blame autocorrect. M-16A1, of course. M for Mattel indeed. Is that an urban legend or . . . ah, too good a story to check.

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  12. FDChief said on December 30, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    GAMA Goat, not Goar. Oops.

    One thing I would inject is that much as I think that some sort of military draft would be good for both the nation and the Army (what’s fairly intriguing is the number of soldiers who were dragged into the service kicking and screaming and found that they were good at soldiering and actually liked it; one thing I think that has influenced the “go-along-get-along” culture of the services described in the Fallows article is the conversion to long-service professionals) I would put the chances of a return to a draft as “slim” and “none” and then drop “slim”.

    There’s just no constituency for a draft Army. The services don’t want it (draftees are a pain in the ass), the politicians don’t want it (draftees get killed and suddenly their co-workers and fellow students and parents and wives are all up in the government’s – and the politician’s – face about that), and the Public doesn’t want it. Let’s face it; it’s just waaayyyyy to easy to have janissaries to fight our cabinet wars for us, all of us.

    I agree with a hell of a lot of the Fallows article, but I think he let it go on too optimistic a note. It’s taken us a long time to get here and the current situation is far too fortuitous for far too many of the people “who matter” for things to change. So – while I agree that the it’s NOT good, for the services, for the nation, and for We the People – I really don’t see HOW it changes short of something gawdawful.

    And then it is just as likely to change – for the worse

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  13. Sherri said on December 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Fallows has run a couple of posts of reader responses to his piece, more to come:

    There’s very little appetite even among the limited government crowd for dialing back the national security apparatus, whether that’s Homeland Security or the Pentagon. The most fervent Tea Party Congressman isn’t going to be very likely to turn his back on Defense Department dollars, not when he has to run for office every two years. Outside of Rand Paul, whom I find deeply problematic for other reasons, the limited government types for the most part are right in front when it comes time to “use military force”, as the current favorite euphemism for war goes.

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  14. Deborah said on December 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Another gun tragedy, a two year old shoots his mother dead in a Walmart in Idaho. The toddler reached into his mother’s purse finding the gun while she was shopping with other children too. Horrible. When will this end?

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  15. MichaelG said on December 30, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    The weapon I had was so new it was labeled “XM16-E1”. It was SN 117872. It had the old silver bolt carrier and the three point muzzle. At first we had no cleaning kits. Guys sent home for ramrods, we used torn up tee shirts for patches and diesel for gun oil. We had ammo with this incredibly filthy black powder which would cake up on your weapon. What a nightmare. Under heavy usage the thing would heat up and expand causing jamming. The thing to do was to just pour oil on it and into magazines. And keep pouring. There was one species of catastrophic jam wherein a round would somehow get chambered between the gas pipe and the roof of the chamber. That jam had to be cleared by an armorer at a repair station. If it happened to you, you were screwed. I knew several people who died as a result of jamming. What a fuck up. Somebody should have gone to jail.

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  16. MichaelG said on December 30, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    And sorry, FD. I guess I was just a little slow picking up on the GI humor. I certainly heard that sentiment often enough.

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  17. FDChief said on December 30, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    MichaelG: I can’t remember the unit – I think it was a USAR unit I served in during the 80’s but I won’t pretend to really remember – still having a handful of those old AR15/M16 three-prong-flash suppressor gizmos in the arms room. Even with the M855 5.56mm round – the 1970’s era replacement for the filthy M193 round you remember – they were ridiculously easy to foul and jam.

    I want to say this about the Army, though; when they get a good weapon it’s usually a hell of a good weapon and they hang on to it as long as possible.

    For example, I just missed it (my battery changed over to the M119A1 about two years before I transitioned into the FA) but the M101A1 105mm howitzer was a hell of a cannon – you should know, sir, your redlegs must have put some serious joes downrange with it back in the day. That system put steel on target in Normandy, across the Imjin, on Hamburger Hill and everywhere in between. And the Army knew that, and used it as long as they could. Not every U.S. military hardware story is a fuckstory.

    I say this because I don’t want to turn this into a FTA thread. Like I said in the beginning; I love the Army. I met some of the best people, doing the best work in the world under some ofthe worst circumstances I can think of in the service. The Army I knew had some incredible people and some terrific equipment and some leaders who combined them in outstanding ways.

    But that’s that they were; people, equipment, and leaders. Some great, some good, some not-so-goood, some dumber and more worthless than a goddamn bag of hammers.

    The thing that seems to have left the building is that level of realism about the armed services. I mean, think about it; 99% of the people serving were once the same kids you remember from high school, regular guys and gals; joking around, getting to work, goofing off, being serious, trying to get into each others’ pants, lending a hand or flipping you off. That didn’t change when they put on the tree suit.

    The notion that going to work for an organization where everybody wears the same colored clothes makes you a “hero”? Don’t make me laugh. I know because I wasn’t a damn hero and nobody I knew there was, either…

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  18. FDChief said on December 30, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Jeff: I was on the verge or retirement when the M4 was introduced and my feelings toward it were colored by the CAR-15 from the Sixties (actually there were two versions of the “shortened” M-16, something called a XM-177E1 (which had a 10″ barrel, short flash supprressor, and a solid buttstock and another weapon called an XM-177E2 with a telescoping stock and an 11.5″ barrel with a long flash suppressor) which was notorious for malfunctions – think about it; as in the Atlantic piece that MichaelG pointed out, the problem with the Armalite design is the long gas tube that drives the cycle of operation (rather than the short tube abd operating rod as in the Kalashnikov series of rifles). When it gets dirty and fouls the gas pressure drops, the “push” that makes the bolt and bolt carrier move (extracting and ejecting the spent cartridge and feeding the next round) weakens and the rifle starts to jam.

    So…imagine what happens when you shorten that tube?

    Yep. The original CAR-15 was famous for malfunctioning.

    However…as you mentioned, the M-4 appears to be a better design, and a functional weapon for it’s type. I suspect that it is a somewhat of a disadvantage in the rural areas of Afghanistan where the open terrain tends to make long range and accuracy a military virtue over volume of fire…

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  19. Sherri said on December 30, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Another set of reader responses to Fallows’ article:

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  20. Jolene said on December 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    I’m behind in my reading, including I posted an entry re D. Brooks’s awards on yesterday’s thread before noticing that a new one was posted hours ago. So am reposting here. The Fallows article is on my list.

    I did read the vaccination article. The topic makes me furious. My sister, who is now 63, contracted polio when she was 16 months old. She has, in most ways, probably had as normal a life as any of us, but, still, she has one leg that is shorter and smaller than the other, which means that she walks with a limp, putting a strain on her back. And, as a child, she endured multiple corrective surgeries and years of physical therapy. The idea that you would not vaccinate a child against every possible disease is, in my view, beyond the pale. How do those people think we got rid of all those diseases? Why do they think it won’t be their child who gets them once vaccination rates fall? Really, I have no patience with them.

    So, my repost: Not everyone is a David Brooks fan, but, in some things, he has good taste. He has, for instance, compiled two end-of-the-year pieces on the best magazine essays of the year. At some points, his taste overlaps with ours, as we discussed several of the articles earlier this year. He has invented his own award, called the Sidney Award, in honor of Sidney Hook, a writer who Brooks admires.

    The Sidney Awards, Part I

    The Sidney Awards, Part II

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  21. Dexter said on December 30, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Hero has become a watered-down word. Once I accepted that, it doesn’t bother me when once in a while when I am wearing my Vietnam Veteran cap a kid will approach to shake my hand and say “thanks for your service” or even when my son-in-law, now retired from USAF Reserves (he made it to Turkey, no deployments into the war zones) called me “a hero in my eyes, just because you answered the call and went to war for your country”, which I did, but at the time I was just accepting my fate as a draftee , born into a time when I would be 19 when there were 569,000 troops on the ground in Vietnam, in a war zone that people say wasn’t a war, so let them call it what they will…who gives a fuck anymore? I know what happened and I recall being called names , not allowed to sit at a good table in a restaurant because I was in uniform; things like that happened too. You know, there were true heroes on the battlefields of Vietnam, and they have medals, and they know who and what they are. Most of us worked a job over there or worked trying to keep wounded and injured troops alive (my job at times) or like a great many, were focussing on killing NVA and NLF troops, snipers and satchel bombers alike.
    So people mean well when they say we’re heroes, in the modern day meaning of the word. Here’s a thought I have pondered from time to time: were deserters and draft dodgers cowards or heroes in their own right? Following personal convictions that would not allow them to be sent to this particular war, heading to jail, Canada, Sweden, who know where else…that took the courage of personal conviction, and I never spoke ill about those people. Some used privilege of wealth or support to stay in colleges and universities for years and maintain deferments. I wished them well. Some of us were working class young people and we were square in the draft board’s cross-hairs, and they got all of us. Unlike the Chief here, I didn’t love the army, I was also not a pain in the ass to the army, and I only knew a few of us draftees who were pains in the asses of the brass. US or RA…we were our particular Band of Brothers, until we scattered after a few months of training, of course. Some think the “being spat upon and called ‘baby-killers'” was a myth. While I was never spat on I did have the experience of being called a baby killer, by a girl in a Chicago bar. I never should have even told her about myself like that, but I did.
    So baby-killer or hero, whatever they call me, it’s all in their mind, not mine, and as Red told the parole board in “Shawshank Redemption”, “frankly, Sonny, I don’t give a shit.”

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  22. basset said on December 30, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    One of my many “shoulda done that” regrets is not buying an 03 Springfield from the Federal government when I could have, back in the 70s and early 80s. The “Civilian Marksmanship Program” would sell you a WW2 or sometimes WW1 army rifle for a most reasonable price once you’d proven you could shoot and knew how to handle it, often in brand new condition and still in the factory packaging and preservative. The 03 is one of the truly classic infantry rifles, used from before WW1 through WW2 and in small numbers into the 60s, and it’s right up there with the Stratocaster guitar and just about any Leica camera as something that’s worth having around just as an example of great design.

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  23. MichaelG said on December 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Sorry to take up so much space but this is a subject that is very close to me. I only spent three years in the Army. I am emphatically not an fta type. In 1969, the year I got out (January 17), even during a war, the Army offered lots of opportunity. If you were interested and motivated, you could advance. It was all there. I’m not sure how things are now.

    Is the M101-A1 howitzer the one that was the last split tail 105? I remember them. They were being replaced by a new piece that had a fixed tail with a big rubber donut that allowed it to traverse.

    Damn. We’re just an eyelash from this stuff being 50 years ago.

    Harbaugh now officially belongs to you guys. The hand off was completed today. Last night I saw an interview with Jed York, the owner (family front man) and GM Trent Baalke of the 49ers. It was the first time I had seen an interview with York. He comes across as a raging, raving, egotistical, dim witted and complete and stupendous asshole. The guy is totally insufferable. I have a new sympathy for Harbaugh. I’m sure he was ready to go anywhere to get away from that shithead York. During the 49ers glory years they had an excellent owner in Eddie DeBartolo. Too bad he did a few stupid things and got crosswise with the family.

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 31, 2014 at 12:03 am

    MichaelG, that didn’t change much about the oil and the jams, though I never ever was under fire in any way, shape, or form unless you count what our own sergeants were firing over our heads on O-courses. Mine was SN 550519 (and truth be told, I might have flipped a pair of those latter digits).

    And we’re all still needing an answer to the question: by whom/how should the deployment of troops beyond our borders be authorized? Is a declaration of war needed to put more than a thousand heavily armed young men into a country? Or have intercontinental bombers and globally controlled drones rendered this debate moot before it ever got started?

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 31, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Speaking of professional football, the Ohio State Buckeyes play in New Orleans in 48 hours. O-H . . .

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  26. Dexter said on December 31, 2014 at 12:36 am

    …and U of M doesn’t play this December or January. That’s about to change. I hope all those heart-health scares OSU’s Urban Meyer has suffered do not flare up for a long time. It’s time for another ten-year war. Everybody around here feels it. Bo and Woody redux.

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  27. Sherri said on December 31, 2014 at 1:03 am

    MichaelG, if you thought Jed York looked bad in that interview, you should have heard him on KNBR today. Dimwitted doesn’t begin to cover it. Eddie D wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he at least knew what he didn’t know, and knew to hire good people and keep them. His problem was not getting crosswise with the family, it was getting crosswise with the law; getting caught up with a bribery scandal with Edwin Edwards down in Louisiana trying to purchase a casino license made him persona non grata with the NFL, and they forced him to turn the team over to his sister. Little Jeddie is his nephew.

    Dexter, here’s a funny article about Harbaugh for you:

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  28. Dexter said on December 31, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Sherri…back before the Eddie Einhorn-Jerry Reinsdorf conglomerate bought the Chicago white Sox, the DeBartolos were in the game to be the new owners. I was a dedicated White Sox fan then, going to all Sunday home games, watching them on cable TV, listening to them on the radio (the great Chicago native Lorn Brown was the radio man then) , so I was very intensely involved from a fan’s viewpoint. So what happens? Oh, the money backing was solid, no doubt, but the Commissioner kicked the DeBartolos out of the running on some bullshit charge of “shady dealings in the business world not becoming of Organized Baseball…” So that was that, and Einhorn-Reinsdorf came in , Einhorn faded to the background, and Reinsdorf became the face of Chicago White Sox baseball operations and ownership and he still is. But we both know the DeBartolos would have made it so much more fun and exciting, and yes, the Sox won a World Series, but it took a quarter century to get it done and the Sox then immediately fell back into mediocrity. 2015 may be another story…the Sox are gonna be good, and I mean very good.
    Thanks for the Harbaugh story.

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  29. Dexter said on December 31, 2014 at 3:54 am

    Sherri: the first thing I looked for as Harbaugh and his family de-planed from the private jet at the airport was those khakis. Yes! Harbaugh was wearing those same damn khaki pants he ALWAYS wears, sidelines or flying across country. Your blogger nailed it, and I now wonder if he’ll continue to wear those same pants on the M sidelines. He must have a closet-full of those trousers, ha.

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  30. Dexter said on December 31, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Bassett, you may like this internet station.

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  31. Basset said on December 31, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Thanks, looks interesting… any station with both John Coltrane and John Reischman on the playlist has to have a pretty eclectic approach. Meanwhile, this:

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  32. adrianne said on December 31, 2014 at 8:12 am

    I love hearing my dad and father in law talk about their military service. They were fortunate enough to serve post Korea andpre Vietnam. Lucky and they knew it. In return for three years of service in the Navy and the AIr Force, respectively, Uncle Sam paid for college and graduate school. A sweet deal. They had no illusions about the militaryor war, but that doesn’t mean they were’t patriots.

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  33. brian stouder said on December 31, 2014 at 8:31 am

    So here’s an article about a woman who just passed away (at 104 years old!), who I never heard of, and who won back-to-back Best Actress Oscars (one of only two women to ever accomplish that)

    She had frequent battles with MGM boss Louis B. Mayer and didn’t like the roles she was offered. “All kinds of nonsense,” she told the UK’s Telegraph news site in 2009. “I didn’t want to do it, and I walked out. Mayer said, ‘That girl is a Frankenstein, she’s going to ruin our whole firm.’ He said, ‘We made you and we are going to destroy you.’ ” Instead, Rainer turned the tables and left MGM. Her marriage, to playwright Clifford Odets, had fallen apart (partly over his envy of her friendship with Albert Einstein, who “liked my vivaciousness,” she said) and she returned to Europe.

    I’d buy her biography; or watch the movie!

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